Tuesday, December 30, 2008


It was our last night in Vancouver last night so we went out to a nice restaurant in the old train station near our hotel. Midway through the meal, Serge said to me, "To dine in a fine station is to complete a fine trip." I was so impressed with the poetic way he came out with this phrase and we toasted to such a fine sentiment. It wasn't until we were on the way out that I noticed the big poster that you see above. The twerp was going to let me think he came up with it. I should have known better.

It was like we brought Montreal's climate with us. Snow everywhere. Though it's mostly been raining since we got here, there is so much snow that it hasn't melted. Here we are down at "the beach" though you can't really tell because of the snowcover. We had one nice day with even a bit of sun and we spent 6 hours trekking around the city on foot. It's a cute town and we've had some delicious meals.
The hotel was awesome. We got a deluxe suite and I think this is the best hotel room we've ever scored from Priceline. Here is the view from our window. Yesterday, we spent the day at the science center and Serge and I became kids again. Today, we're driving back to the states and flying down to Southern California for the last leg of our trip. Everything has been wonderful so far except for the fact that I discovered I'm getting grey nose hairs. I suppose it was only a matter of time, but I don't like it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Look what I got for Christmas

From the dear cousins of course. The inside is the best though. There are two pages for each movement. Here is one of them.

The other page lets you jot down the date and time, any unusual characteristics and even has a place for you to sketch your poo. I wonder how much the creator of this book pocketed, and I also wonder why it wasn't me who came up with it.
The trip has been fun so far. Lots of snow and ice and libations with family. We're staying here until Saturday when we go to Vancouver for a few days. Then down to socal. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. See you later!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Break time

We're heading out tomorrow for two weeks of travel. Tomorrow we're going to Burlington and staying two nights. Since there's a big snowstorm forecast for Sunday, we decided to head out Saturday to avoid getting stranded. Our flight is early Monday morning taking us through Chicago to our final destination, Seattle. All of these places are snowy at the moment, so travel may become an adventure. (Last night I booked a room for tomorrow night. Courtyard Marriot - lowest web price $129 but I bid $50 on Priceline and got it on the first try.) Mom rented a house for her and her husband and me and Serge and my brother. We'll stay there and celebrate Christmas at the aunt and uncle's. We're also celebrating my brother getting his PHD. After that, Serge and I are headed up to Vancouver (another snowy place) for three days. Then, we're flying down to Southern California for several days for more holiday festivities with the family. It makes me tired to read all of this.

Today I've got a last class, then laundry and packing and dinner tonight at MIL's where we will have a little early Christmas. I may or may not pop in here over the next two weeks (I will if I'm stuck in an airport) but I'm really looking forward to unplugging for a spell. I wish all of you and yours a splendid holiday season filled with love and companionship (and delicious fatty sugary concoctions) and a happy new year. See you on the flip side. Mwah!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What a mistake

Oy. I had a new contract this session with another company. It's an old colleague of the lady who provides me with the bulk of the contracts I do so I figured it would be a similar kind of contract. Same pay, same autonomy and the guy was gay which for some reason made me want to work for him. What a mistake. Do you know people who just rub you the wrong way? It's not that they are bad or mean or nasty per se, just the way they instruct or express opinions turns you off? Well it was clear from the get-go that this guy was like that. From the beginning, he micromanaged the course. He would drop off reading exercises in my box and tell me to do it in class. Nevermind the 12 week lesson plan I had already planned, prepared, and typed out for the class. He's not in the class, so I largely ignored these intrusions. He flipped his top too when one of the students stopped coming to class. He told me I had to get on him and make sure he came to class. I said, "I called him twice, and he's an adult, what else do you want me to do?" He backed down then. Now that it's evaluation time, I dutifully filled out his forms following his instructions. The students are graded on attendance, homework, participation in class, preparation and execution of a presentation and a quiz and final exam. Well, I gave full marks for homework and presentation and then he left me this message. "Richard, I liked your evaluations except that we can't give full marks. I mean you don't arbitrarily give full marks because that defeats the purpose of an evaluation. I need you to do these again." Okay, setting aside that I disagree with his statements, I just have one thing to say to any manager: If you have expectations, you need to voice them before having someone execute the job and not act irritated when your mind wasn't read. All he would have had to say was not to give any 10 out of 10's. Another thing that bugs me is the talking to me like I'm a novice. Excuse me but I've got over 10,000 hours of teaching done now, so a little respect would be nice.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rambling again

Wow, it's been a long time since I had such a beginner. I started an intensive with a, I want to say kid but he's 22, student from out in the country who is taking a marketing program that includes language study. I asked if there had been any previous English in school and the response was (in French) "I cheated and the teacher was bad." I think that out in rural areas, English isn't seen as a necessity and so isn't given the same weight in many cases. But the last time I had someone this low, it was a kid from Saudi Arabia who knew only no, yes and thank you when I got him. His father brokered those lessons with me on the phone from the home country. What was his name, oh yes Mutlag, the "g" pronounced like when saying the "ch" in yech. I remember going to his apartment, sometimes accidentally arriving at prayer time, in which case I would wait at the little dining table. The oddest thing about him was that there was always water all over the bathroom. It was like he took a bath and splashed it out all over the floor and walls. I asked his roommate, another kid and student of mine from Saudi Arabia, why the bathroom was like that and he just shrugged. Once he took a one hour shower while I gave a lesson to his roommate, Abadi, and though I didn't say anything, I had a feeling I knew what was going on. Once when the word "Hitler" came up, they didn't understand and I did the Heil Hitler thing with the little mustache and the light bulb when off next to their heads, "Ohhhhhh Hitler, he hero, he hero!" Of course I went right onto something else, they couldn't understand anything I said anyway, and I wasn't going to change 20 years of brainwashing. I was glad when I finished with them. So this new student is a challenge for me. I hope we have enough time together for me to see a flowering of his ability. I'm much more likely to get that from the super-beginners, though Mutlag and Abadi never did. He did make a whole present tense sentence with the verb "be" on his own today. That is progress. My work is to be patient and repetetive, repetetive and patient. It's tempting for both of us to jump into French to explain or ask questions, but the best for both of us is to refrain from that. We both failed at it a few times, but today I'm going Nazi on him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


So I'm getting a reputation. A pooputation if you will. Seems my adolescent fixation on the scatological is making others think about me when they stumble upon poop-related things. After last week's discussion, I learned of new products. There's the special "Butt" and "Face" labeled towel with color coding for the illiterate. (I need this.) I also learned about a special kind of toilet, that basically hoses you down so you don't have to wipe. There's even a blow drier on it. It's like a carwash for the butt. (I'm curious, but I'd have to test drive before I plunk down the thousands necessary for such a contraption. There are several dealers nearby I saw.) Oh and yesterday, I see that Summer went shopping and thought of me. Seems there's a "What's your poo telling you?" Calendar. I imagine it's quite informative. I can't imagine it's more informative than "Understanding your Bowels" which has been passed on according to tradition to Roxanne. (Still, I want the calendar.) And then I get the odd email showing a poop related video, in fact this one was sent to me three times. It's fun, but let's make one thing clear: it's only for fun and not sexual in any way. It's gross, but that's why I find it funny.

Take yesterday for example, I was reading Bob's yer uncle and he mentioned the husband having gone out to a Chinese massage therapist/herbalist for a consultation. Seems a dried feces blockage was diagnosed. I tried to imagine how that was discovered by the therapist. I had to leave a comment of course since I was curious. This is the response I got:

apparently, during the massage she noticed blockage.

have you seen the results of a good colon cleansing? I got all interested last night and it's, um, interesting. One site says that you should be having two good movements a day, the first being "well formed and 1.5 to 2 feet long." I just can't imagine a couple feet of shit coming out of me at one time. And yet I'm oddly intrigued ....



happy blogging


I hope you at least clicked on that first link. Even I gasped, but then the curiosity set in. Scroll down and read about how to do a "High Enema" all by yourself. Oh my but I could foresee some smelly accidents during that procedure. Scroll even further so you can see "Nature's Platform" which lets you poop more naturally, apparently. Now the second link is just priceless. Smiling faces next to the picture of their own poo that they sent in after they used the colon cleansing regime. I can't think of a more convincing testimonial than proudly sending in a picture of your face along with the most horrific excremental shapes that you've expunged. Go ahead, you know you want to see.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Spousal Information

I stole this from Patricia.

All About Serge

1. He's sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen? Probably How it's Made or any other science geek program.

2. You're out to eat; what kind of dressing does he get on his salad? He'll have the soup thanks.

3. What's one food he doesn't like? Refried beans, so burritos are out.

4. You go out to the bar. What does he order? Beer, Molson Dry.

5. Where did he go to high school? Pointe Claire

6. What size shoe does he wear? 9 and a half

7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be? Old sci-fi programs/movies

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich? Ham and butter.

9. What would he eat every day if he could? Corndogs

10. What is his favorite cereal? Cheerios, but anything non sugared will do.

11. What would he never wear? Long johns

12. What is his favorite sports team? None (I just asked him and that was his response.)

13. Who did he vote for? Liberal (neither of us can remember her name - she didn't win)

14. Who is his best friend? I'd like to think it's me. (I just asked him and he said "you", so he gets a corndog for breakfast)

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do? Leave the room without turning out the light. He counted 11 of them in a rage the other day.

16. How many states has he lived in? One, california. Plus Quebec (a province) and Hong Kong (a mini nation).

17. What is his heritage? Pure laine Qu├ębecois.

18. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what would it be? He's not a big fan of the cake. Do they have a beer cake? He might like that.

19. Did he play sports in high school? No, but he played base drum for the Air Cadets.

20. What could he spend hours doing? Dicking around on the computer to "improve" it.

21. What's something cool about him? He comes across as gruff but I know he's really a softie.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Good news bad news good news

The good news is I'm still smoke free after all this time (and plan to continue being so) but the bad news is below.

One year ago and 15 pounds lighter on the left. (The long johns are not the same, I have three different colors - light blue, dark blue and gray.) I'm still trying to get used to this new body. I don't hate it, but I like last year's better.

Guillaume laughed at me when I said I wear long johns. I guess it's not very manly. Here we are yesterday going out to lunch for our last class. This was one of my favorite classes as we talked about EVERYTHING together. (Walking to the restaurant, we reviewed the phrase "I'm coming" for its double meaning. In France, since Elizabeth is from there, they say J'arrive! But here in Quebec they say J'viens! See, I told you we talk about everything.) I'm sure we'll meet again next session.

Now the session is officially over. Ordinarily, I would have five or six weeks off now, but this year I have a contract which starts next week and concludes at the end of January. I will only have two weeks off starting next weekend. Oh right, next weekend we're leaving for the west coast - Seattle, Vancouver and Orange County California. I'm really excited about Vancouver because I've never been there. For now though, I've got to finish up all my evaluations. Have a lovely weekend y'all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Towel conundrum update

Okay so I found that question I posed the other day to be very interesting. Apparently so did readers. Such great ideas for keeping face and ass separate. But the very best came in yesterday. Franck says he uses one side of the towel for face and the other for the rest of the body, and that you can tell by the fold on the finished ends of the towel. All there is is to decide that and then you'll never have what happened to me happen. I did like the other ideas too, like having two towels, one for face and one for everything else. Or the solution of having a go with the washcloth while in the shower. That way, at least you can rinse any brownage out on the spot. (I'm such a twelve year old, as I can't stop giggling as I write this out.) But Franck's idea wins because I don't have to change anything about my routine except to notice which side of the towel I've got pressed to me. I'm thinking the skid mark was an anomaly because I'm pretty fastidious about the wiping. I've got to have two absolutely clean passes with the toilet paper before it's safe to pull the pants up. Don't tell me you do more. I suppose the only other thing to consider would be the method of washing the zone. But we'll save that for another time, ahem.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

12 of 12, er 10

So I'm a bit early. My blog, my schedule don't you know. I worked hard on this yesterday traipsing around town checking out the scene. This is the first time I've seen the trees stay coated with freezing rain. Other times it's melted right away, but not this time. I saw dozens of branches down due to the weight of the ice on the limbs. Anyway welcome to our winter wonderland.

Iced fruit.

Bicycle cemetery.

See how the trees are all frosted? And when the breeze picks up, you can hear them all tinkling.

Sun and palm trees are not a hard sell these days.

Doesn't this house look surprised? Or shocked at what happened to its pet tree?

I felt like I was walking around in a painting.

The parks are deserted.

There was a good half inch of ice coating everything. Red certainly pops in this landscape.

This is right outside my door in the front yard.

This is the tree they have up outside the market. A truly flocked tree, no?

My favorite shot at the end of the afternoon when the sun finally popped out. It took me over an hour to dislodge the car from its icy prison and then I put it in the garage. I think it will stay there for a few days until they get the city cleaned up. Hope you enjoyed these arctic pictures!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Surprise storm

Here's my Tuesday morning class. It was our last of the session, so we went out to breakfast together. It started snowing and though they were only calling for a couple of inches, we ended up with a foot plus hours and hours of freezing rain on top of it. I'll go out today and get more pics of the aftermath. After breakfast I walked down through the old city to the old port so I could stop in at the science museum gift shop. There are a couple kids on my list and I picked up a couple of gifts there.

Once the snow gets going, everything is quiet as if sound itself is sick and weak.

I loved walking around what are usually lively places and finding no one.

The boats are all gone for the season.

I made my way home and watched as the weather service maintained their prediction of temperatures rising to 40 degrees by this morning. They were dead wrong. It's 28 and still freezing rain. Halleluyah that my morning class canceled today as I won't have to navigate the treacherous sidewalks.

PS: My favorite comment yesterday was Don's. Oh did I get a chuckle out of that.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Quick question

Let me ask you something. How often do you change your bath towel for your shower? Because we don't really have a fixed schedule and a recent event makes me think we should have one. It's pretty easy in the summer when it's humid because the towels will "turn" after a few days, the mildewy smell setting in. But now that it's winter (oh my goodness it was cold yesterday, that smack you in the face and make you cry and snot cold) and the air is much drier, the mildew never sets in and we just kind of change them after what, I don't know, a week, two tops. Now yesterday, when I got out of the shower, I reached for the big white towel on my towel rung (upper, spouse's is lower since he's shorter) and dried my hair first, then back and legs and chest and penultimately my bum. I do my crack real good and then make sure I use a different part of the towel than what was just in my crack for the last thing. My face. (Is this too much information? Everybody has some similar routine I'm thinking, I mean we've all got to dig out the moisture down there, don't we?) So yesterday, I got to my face to rub it clean, and what is this funkiness, yech, and I pulled the towel from my face to see a little skid mark right there where my nose and lips had been. Ack, back into the shower with me. I'm thinking that earthy colored towels are in the offing as well as a firmer schedule for changing them out. Either that or a review of my wiping methods.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Weekend update

Poor Serge. He went out on Friday and got the suspension on the car "fixed". I put it in quotes because for me it was fine, maybe a little harsh and creaky, but hey, I firmly believe in "if it works, don't fix it". Serge was thinking the tires were going to fly off at any moment or some terrible thing would occur if we hit a pothole. Anyway, he wanted to feel safe so he took it in and got charged an obscene amount of money. Since he was spending money, he decided to pick up two external hard drives so that we can have a double back up system for all of our home computers (two, plus the portable). He came home and plugged the hard drive into the USB, expecting the "guaranteed plug and play" feature to work right away. Well not only did it not work, but the computer suddenly wouldn't recognize his mouse. Everything on his computer started malfunctioning and he ended up spending two days getting the thing to work again. There was a number listed to call before you return it so they could help you. There was an answering machine with a nearly incomprehensible message saying to call back later. Then he looked on a forum for the reviews of the product and found he was not the only one that this had happened to. He returned them of course and now we're just going to order from Dell since that's where we got the computers.

He got a little break on Saturday evening when we went over to Dan's for an impromptu potluck. I brought sloppy joes, and here you can see the spread. I won't post party pictures since I don't have permission, but it was nice to socialize around the big Christmas tree. I say nice since it wasn't horrible. I pretty much loathe socializing and am more comfortable in small pairs or trios. Other than that, my weekend was dull as I had to do all my evals for the four classes that ended last week. This week should be a bit easier though. Today I've got one class and I'm showing a movie. Tomorrow, I've got one class and we're going to breakfast. Ditto that for Wednesday and Friday. Thursday I've got two classes, though one of them is going out to lunch. As you can see, much of my job is socializing, ironically.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

This and that

It has been such a busy week. I'm always slammed at the end of the session writing exams and evaluations, and coupled with the holidays, well my head is spinning. I decided to play a bit of hookey yesterday and went to the movies after my lunchtime class. I saw Milk. Wow. Sean Penn was brilliant. But I have to say that I left the theatre in a bit of a funk. Things really have not changed all that much in 30 years. At the time of Harvey Milk, I was just getting the hang of puberty. I remember wondering why that nice lady Anita Bryant hated the homosexuals so much. I remember my grandfather saying they should all be lined up in front of a trench and executed. I remember those sexual feelings I had and how hostile the world would be should they be revealed. I suppose that's changed, that it's easier to come out at a younger age now. But the world, it is still wildly hostile to us. The rhetoric has changed but the revulsion and bigotry not so much.

When I got home, there was the loveliest surprise. A dear blogger friend sent me a gift. This gift made me cry several times because it was a little photo album of our late dog Sara. Patricia went through all my blog archives and printed up all the photos that had Sara in them and put them into an album with this blog post at the end. The crying came so easily, but it's not as painful as it was at the beginning. It's almost good, this crying. Anyway, spouse, who doesn't have any idea who Patricia is said, "Wow, there really are good people in this world." Spouse rarely says such sentimental things, so I know he was touched too. Thank you so much Patricia, that is one of the nicest gifts we've ever received.

Oh and one more thing. This is fun in a dorky kind of way. Whack the penguin.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Getting into the spirit

You Are Prancer

You are the perfect reindeer, with perfect hooves and perfect flying form.

Why You're Naughty: Because you're Santa's pet, and you won't let anyone show you up.

Why You're Nice: You have the softest fur and the sweetest carrot breath.

Of course I got the gayest sounding reindeer. Ah well, guess I should just own it.

I got all the xmas cards out yesterday. I always try to put a little personal note inside the card for two reasons. One, that's really what xmas cards are for, making a personal connection with those you love, and two, because I buy pretty cheap cards. When we were in Florence, our friend Bob wanted to put cards in the gifts he had bought for loved ones in Europe. So he dragged us to a stationery store and a paper store and basically made cards from really cool materials. I was really impressed with his designer skills but it was like $20 per card. So. No one is ever getting a twenty dollar card from me. The dollar stamp is bad enough, lol. Actually, I was pretty stoked at the post office, it appears that there is no tax charged on the postage if you use the postage at the moment of buying it. (Here in Canada, stamps are taxable.) Then the nice lady took my cards and insisted on stamping them herself. Score!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Out to lunch

I've been wanting to try this place called Hot Pot since they opened in Chinatown last year. Apparently it's a big chain from overseas. Since I'm winding up many classes for this session, we are going out to lunch for the final lunchtime classes. So I dragged my class to this place to try it. What a mistake! First of all, there was only one other table in the place for lunch. This is a bad sign. The gimmicky table burner concept was fun at first until you went to the buffet to get the things you wanted to cook in your Hot Pot. It might look good, but everything tasted old and gamy.

They had this admonition on the table. The problem was that there were many unidentifiable items on the buffet that turned out to be foul tasting. Three different kinds of fish balls for example. It was not fun gagging down bad tasting things for fear of being charged for leaving it on your plate. The final kicker was the price - twenty bucks! No, we won't be going back.

Later that night we made some good old cheese fondue. Similar concept, infinitely better. Spouse decided to spice up the fondue with cayenne pepper though. It was a bit much and boy oh boy does that burn coming out.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Music meme

Lyvvie did a music meme so I decided to too. I rarely talk about music because it's such a subjective art to appreciate. For example, I clicked on the Souxie (or however retardedly she spells Susie) and the Banshees link and was instantly transported to the depressingly austere apartment of a crystal addled friend from '84 or '85. I loathed his favorite music and to this day that band makes me smell patchouli, which this friend seemed to bathe in. I despise patchouli, which I've mentioned before. No, you can't convince me otherwise, that smell is vile. Anyway, this friend LOVED the band and played it incessantly and you could never have a conversation with him when it was playing as he could only focus on the music - an irritating social habit which I would never tolerate today. A few years ago we exchanged updates after having been out of touch for 20 years and he mentioned still being a fan of that band. Back in the 80's, I had what he thought was very poor taste in music. Perhaps, but I thought I was hip because I listened to Kate Bush along with the showtunes and disco. Spouse has come to tolerate my music and rarely complains. Of course nowadays I listen almost exclusively to jazz and blues. Every time I get in the car after spouse has driven the channel is changed to classic rock (which I like too) but if we're in the car together, he lets me put it on the jazz station. Gosh that was a long and disjointed introduction to this simple meme. Put the ipod, or ipod-like device (can we just call them all ipods regardless of the brand? we do it with Kleenex after all) on shuffle and note the first ten songs that come up.

1. Tim Maia - Me de Motivo I borrowed this disc from the upstairs Brazilian tenants.

2. R.E.M. - Nightswimming (had to google lyrics to figure out - untitled song from disc Laverne made for me on the ipod)

3. Talking Heads - Perfect World there's no video on youtube of this song, but here's another good one from the album.

4. Incognito - Yesterday's Dreams Oh how I love this band.

5. Los Amigos Invisibles - Cachete a Cachete (My video of this band is by far the most popular video I've ever posted to youtube)

6. Anita Baker - Watch Your Step

7. Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - After Midnight There's no video of this song, but here's another one I like

8. Alison Moyet - For You Only

9. Gloria Gaynor - Honeybee

10. Nicole Kidman and Cast - Moulin Rouge - Sparkling Diamonds

Hey this was actually a lot of fun. Shuffle is so bitchin'. It's interesting that numbers 3, 6 and 8 are in my top ten favorite albums ever. I recommend doing this just so you can see how fun it is to find your band's music on youtube. I loved finding out number 9 is the original, very cool indeed. I was surprised no Kate Bush came up as I have a lot of her music. (She arrived at song number 12.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I woke up way too late today. That's because I woke up in the night for a couple hours. I had woken up thinking I heard someone knock at the door. It was rent day but no one would pay their rent at three in the morning would they? No, of course not. But by then I was wide awake so I got up and had a little pastis to knock me back out. (It's like sambucca but not as sweet.) That seemed to have worked a little too well. Good thing I don't start until 11 today.

Yesterday I finalized my contract with the college and the lady I'm working with told me she gave my number to another college and to expect a call. It seems they need a teacher for their evening classes. "You're going to be very busy next year," she told me, "so don't forget who got you first." Apparently, she envisions administrators fighting over my services. This made me panic inside a little as it always does when I feel like I'm too busy. Again, what recession?

You know what I am already sick of this year? The requests for money for charity. Yesterday, I was hit up 11 times, I kid you not. It's bad enough the United Way drive going on at all the places I teach for the month of November, but now since it's Christmas, there are a dozen new charity drives. Ugh. I keep consoling myself by saying, "This is good practice for saying no." I've always had trouble declining requests but I've just got to these days. When I see the big donations from anonymous donors, I think, "Part of that is on my behalf," and then I feel better.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Things I came across yesterday

We'll start with the first and the tamest. It seems a fellow after my own heart came up with a holiday business idea. He's taking the zoo reindeer droppings and fashioning Cristmas ornaments out of them and then selling them in the gift shop. I swear. If I lived in Illinois, everyone on my list would be getting one. It all kind of reminds me of a childhood story I once told.

The second one is a bit more breathtaking. This one comes courtesy of spouse. Aside from the depressing way kids are getting their nutrition, it appears cow urine is a good hair bleacher, or so it would seem from this video.

Finally, since I was directed to the site luriddigs dot com by Tony for some laughs, I came across this (NSFW, NSFW, not safe for work or maybe even home) picture which made me want to bleach my eyes out. Actually it made me laugh uproariously and turn away and then sneak peeks back at the screen for more shocked laughter.

Have a fabulous day.