Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mini hiatus

About the only pictures I'm going to get are ones around the house like this. That is until I buy a new camera. It's so irritating though. The camera is fine, it's just the on/off button that doesn't seem to want to work. I want to try everything before tossing it into the garbage. Incidentally, I took this picture with my left hand. Actually I took many, but Georgie is actually looking at the camera in this one. So cute.

Spring is trying to work it's way into our climate but old man winter is blocking the door. They're calling for more snow for the weekend. I won't have to shovel though. That's because I'll be out at a five star hotel with my English immersion group. Even though it's quasi-working, I'm really looking forward to getting away, dining sumptuously and having fun with my students. 18 out of 22 are my students anyway, so it should be a ball.

I don't think there's going to be internet, so I'm sensing a bit of a hiatus around here. Maybe it's time to close up shop too. This is closing in on 6 years and I feel like I just say the same thing over and over. On the other hand, I love the fact that it's here and I use it all the time to research when something happened. For instance, how long I've had the camera, or how long since we bought the tv and video recorder. When I want to know such things, the search box on the blog works great. Unless I land on a picture of Sara and then I get all blubbery. I love Georgie, but nothing can replace the bond I had with Sara. So special. Anyway, I'll try to pop back in next week sometime. Don't worry, you're not missing anything, I'm just a workin. Have a great week!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Panicky busy

Have you ever agreed to do things without really stopping to think if it's humanly feasible? Because that's what I've done, and although I think the obligations that I've agreed to are doable, I don't think they are doable without a large amount of stress. I'm the kind of person who likes to be organized and ready way in advance, but the workplace doesn't really operate that way. If the lesson plan is ready 30 seconds before the start of class, well that's just fine. I'm going to need to work on my breathing in the upcoming weeks. It'll be fine toward the end of April, but between now and then, well, I'm scared.

I got the camera to work, sort of. I was able to take this picture at any rate. It seems my on/off button doesn't work for some reason. But. If I take out the batteries and leave them out overnight so that the internal battery loses all the date info, when I reinsert the batteries, it lights up and lets me set the date. Then the off button will work (but not on) I am able to take pictures at that moment until I turn off the camera. After that, it just plays dead. For all intents and purposes, it's useless. I keep hoping it will right itself, but my hopes are not very high.

We had a friend visit this weekend from California. He attended a conference and then stayed with us Friday and Saturday. I was working but enjoyed mealtimes and evenings with him. He took us out to a great restaurant last night. The bill was $275 before tip! The problem with fine dining here is that the wine prices are so ridiculous. I suggested we have beer since you get about ten beers for the price of a bottle of wine, but he insisted on Cabernet. Twas yummy.

Serge fixed the DVR box. He had to find a compatible hard drive and switch it out. Fixed for $100 yay! We haven't used it though since we discovered the new (for us) season of Nurse Jackie and Californication at the video store.

It's cold here! It's windy here! It's that wind that makes the trees groan. I love that sound but not when it translates to a wind chill in the single digits. It's almost April for pete's sake. They are saying we're going to be below normal into May. Ah well, I'll be trapped inside working anyway.

Oh one last thing. Do you remember when there was a pay glitch and I didn't get paid so they put all those hours on the next paycheck and then I got over taxed? Well I tried to be proactive and not let that happen again, but no. This time it wa 6 weeks of hours on a single pay. So my withholding came to 44% when normally it's around 33. On a total of $4500 an extra 11% withheld. And I can't even bitch about it because I've been given all these opportunities there. I know I'll get it a YEAR, but gosh I wish I didn't have to pay when other people make mistakes. I just did my US taxes though, and somehow they want to send me $400. Fine by me. It's just like when Bush sent everyone $300 that time. Even though I haven't paid US taxes for 10 years, they still send me the money. So. There's a little yin-yang thing goin' on with my pay. Peace out ya'll.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The camera stopped working

But this one was already in the can. His favorite perch atop the sofa back. Once in a while he "talks" to passersby. Usually big fluffy dogs will get him to howl too. Luckily there are few of them in our neighborhood. I went to get a picture of this howling, it's so funny how he tilts his head back to do it, and the camera wouldn't turn on. I changed the batteries and still it wouldn't turn on. A quick search on the internet and I find that it's a common issue with my camera, the on-off button is fickle and sometimes won't respond. A quick check on the warranty, and yep, it expired a few months ago. I'm not sure when I'll be reequipped for photography. Even Serge's camera, handed down to him from my mother, isn't working either.

Is Mercury retrograde or something because our digital recorder for the tv also stopped working. The cable company is coming out today (sometime between 7:30am and 8:00pm, don't you just love monopolies?) to look at it. That box was awfully expensive and if it's broken I figured out we have paid $33 a month just to have the friggin box! Talk about thievery.

Then yesterday morning when I went out to go to teach, I put the key into the lock, turned it to unlock the door and then the key refused to budge. The car was unlocked but I couldn't get the key out of the lock. I tried to remain calm, but I was panicking since it was my first lecture at the college. After a few minutes of dicking around with it, I got it out. We replaced the batteries on the automatic unlocker thingy, so I'm going to avoid putting the key in the door lock from now on.

The lecture went well, but it was hairy for me. The smart board was smarter than I and for a while I switched that off and went over to the good old stand by, chalk and chalkboard. I just love (sarcastic love) looking lame in front of students. Other that that it was fine. At one point, I didn't know the answer to a question, so I made it a teaching moment, "How do you find an answer to a question you're not sure of?" Wikipedia helped us out. It was cool at the end seeing them brainstorming possible topics. It was at that point I knew I had done alright as they were engaged and energized. Whew.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend update

Sometimes he sits out there and stares back in at us as though we're in an aquarium. Watching and cocking his head from time to time, we always wonder what is going on in his mind. I like to think he is reading the wind. Probably just a big echo chamber though, is it food, is there food, food, are they making food, food time, foodie food food food, what's that smell?

This week I start the new job. I say new even though it's with the same employer and it's still teaching. The only difference is that I'll be teaching on campus and it will be topics that I haven't really taught before. Luckily, the pedagogical methods are similar, and if history is any indicator, I perform very well when I'm under stress and nervous. It's not very fun being nervous though. I'm taking everything a day at a time, because if I think about everything I have to do, I get all panicky. It's exciting too, my classroom has a smartboard in it and all the students have laptops on their desks and we have the internet, speakers and everything. Yay! It seems that for the first time in over ten years here in Quebec, I will finally have a steadier income that is above the poverty level. FINALLY! And I owe it all to my old mentor, the guy who trained me to be an ESL teacher. Thanks A!

What's really weird, and I don't really believe in this stuff, is that I went to check that astrology site to see if this development would be predicted. And she said that in March, my whole financial situation would turn around and that I've been struggling with money since 2003.

You have so many reasons to celebrate in March. All of life is starting to turn around for you! This month has a huge emphasis on money, but with Jupiter now in perfect angle to your Sun, you will get a chance at awe-inspiring travel, better health, fantastic career success, FAR better money, a chance at love, and so much more!

It's strange when she nails it. And she blames it all on Uranus. (insert joke here) I don't see how travel is going to be possible, I can't even take a weekend day off or I'll get behind.  One thing's for sure though, I'm going to buy a garage door opener and a snow removal service for the garage before next winter. Perhaps then, I'll be able to appreciate the beauty of the white stuff again.

Serge called me cricket boy yesterday. Even though I stopped the diet back in January and I stopped tracking what I ingested a few weeks ago, the habits learned are hard to break and I've continued to lose weight. I was 166 yesterday morning! Today I'm stocking up on ice cream before I wither away to nothing. Skinny does feel good though.

Sorry if I've not been around to visit, it's not that I don't want to, I just don't have the time right now. Once I get adjusted to the new rhythm of things, I'll get back into the blogging groove. Have a great week y'all!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This and that

This may need to become a once a week blog. Too busy! Then when I have a few minutes to pound something out, there's nothing really to report. I mean what could be more interesting than what's playing out in Japan at the moment? It reminds me of 9/11 when we had CNN on in the background for days on end. Did you read about the theory that the melting of glaciers has lightened the load on the earth's crust and so the pressures and stresses have changed causing heightened earthquake and volcanic activity? It makes a lot of sense and there's precedent too. Apparently there was a similar spike in earthquake and volcanic activity when the glaciers covering Canada melted 12000 years ago.

I was also surprised to learn that there's an active fault here in the St Lawrence valley that produced a 7 magnitude quake in 1925. I've experienced a 7 magnitude quake and it would be devastating here in Montreal with all our masonry covered buildings. Brick doesn't cut it in an earthquake yet the vast majority of buildings here are housed in brick. I thought I had left earthquake country but apparently not. I even felt the 4.3 quake we had yesterday. I mentioned it and my students hadn't really noticed. It was small so I wasn't sure myself, but later on the news it was confirmed.

I had my level 2 beginners intensive last week and then I saw them Monday for a half day and they were so cute. Three of them claimed to have dreamed in English. Whereas they couldn't make a conversation in English on the first day, by Monday I couldn't get them to shut up. So cool to see such progress. I should get pom poms since I sure do a lot of cheerleading.

Did you squeal with delight at the kiss on Glee? We sure did. How could you not? I suppose uptight judgmental types wouldn't but then they are probably not watching the show. I think it was my favorite episode to date. Love that show.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

12 of 12

It's such a rarity for us anymore. Going out to breakfast. It used to be such a weekend ritual, but now it seems easier (and faster and cheaper) to just make breakfast at home. I had bought one of those groupon type deals so our $23 breakfast only cost 12 bucks. And I got to have chili and cheese with my eggs. That may come to haunt me this morning.

When we got back from the restaurant, we had to park a couple blocks away because they were doing snow removal operations next to our place (the building on the right in the background). About half of the snow melted with the rains we got on Thursday and Friday. I am so done with it as you know but it's snowing again outside my window as I type.

Georgie was all frisky when we got back, darting this way and that and attacking the blanket. Serge said, "Hey be careful with your grandma's blanket!" But I like USING the blanket, after all that's what it was made for right? Georgie just play bites anyway.

It was Saturday, so it was workout day. I guess I'm curling 70 pounds if LBB is right and the olympic bar is 45 pounds. No longer is it about body building though, now it's all about maintaining. After all, I'm arguably middle aged now.

The rest of the day was devoted to the project. Creating the ESL course for truckers. Some of it I create, and some of it I pinch from the internet or grammar books. (with citations naturally) The process is long, somewhat tedious, but also fun for the creative bits. Serge helped me a lot with cleaning up images, screen shots and scans. I'm going to have to compensate him for that.

On Georgie's afternoon stroll, we passed by this tree. I had never noticed that someone had adorned it with facial attributes. This is pretty much how I see all trees though. As living sentient beings, the only difference is that they aren't ambulatory. Funny though that I only noticed when I was looking for something to photograph.

Back to work at the computer and Georgie wanted to hang out on my lap. I let him for a little while but then my lap hurt so he had to get down. He's such a sweetheart, except when he consumes turds.

The market flyer showed a special on filet mignon. Half price. So Serge ran over to stock up and noticed the odometer. 60000 kilometers (about 37000 miles). Even though it's a 99 model, it's still in great shape.

Of course all day we had the news on in the background. I keep thinking about the missing trains and what I imagine was the ocean's tongue lapping them into the sea. The horror.

Dan came over and we made an impromptu supper of steak tartare. So delicious with fresh filet mignon. Georgie was quite interested too. I let him lick the serving scooper I used.

Post martini picture time. It's rare I get a genuine smile out of Serge. We are looking our years though, sigh. Nothing to do but embrace it I suppose.

To finish the evening, we rented a movie. You can probably guess what it was from the picture. Surely I'm breaking numerous laws by posting the picture, but whatever. It was actually a really good film. I think they really captured the headspace of the person who lived this horrific event. I highly recommend it.

That's it for March's 12 of 12. To see what others have chronicled on the 12th of March, you can visit this link.

Sorry I didn't pop in midweek. The work is never ending and some days I don't even get to the computer. I'm so drained when I get home I just plop down on the sofa for a couple hours before bed. Wash, rinse and repeat. Maybe I'll get it together better this week.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Blathering blather from blathdom

They are calling for another foot of snow and this really makes me angsty. However, it looks like the axis of snow might be a little farther Southwest than they are suggesting, which if I'm right, would mean less than six inches. I am, after all, a lay meteorologist. I've been studying it hobby-wise all my life. I really hope I'm right because I want to drive to work tomorrow since it's the start of the class and I have to schlep all the student materials with me. The long range shows two more shots of snow too. I know I've whined plenty, but I SO understand why people move to Southern California now.

My two boys. They were both sleeping but of course Georgie, with his radar ears, doesn't miss any action. He opened his eyes just as I clicked the button.

I've only worked since last I wrote. I'm putting together a course for truckers and the only time I can do it is on the weekends at the moment. It's actually a lot of fun. Since I'm going to teach the class, I get to use all the things I like to do ie. have the best results as I put together the manual. The sucky part is that my publishing software Pagemaker 6.5 is rather out of date. I bought it 11 years ago when I used to do the company newsletter. Every time I try to convert something to PDF though, there are bugs. Serge has InDesign which I think can import a pagemaker file, so I may try using that instead.

Why is he talking about this boring stuff, I'm sure your asking yourself. Well, I guess because that's consuming me right now. Oh and Serge's hard drive just broke down this morning. He called Dell to give them the error code and they said, "We'll send you a new hard drive." It's only 6 months old too.

Looks like a busy spring ahead for me. I had my meeting at the college and I'm working the 18 week RAC program (recognition of acquired competencies). Finally, I'll be working for one employer after all these years. That is, if I do well. I'm rather nervous teaching things I've never taught before, nor am I expert at. But then I think of the old adage, those who can do and those who can't teach, and I figure I'll get through. If I don't know the answer, I'll find it for you!

Now what's really weird is that I went to check that astrology site since this work gig is kinda a big deal. (I don't really believe in it, but sometimes it's so accurate.) It was really eerie reading how March is the month that is finally going to open the work/money opportunity doors. Something about Uranus mucking things up since 2003. And it's true, I can't remember the last time I felt flush. Would you on less than 20K? I thought not.

Okay, I'll let you go. If you stuck it out this far, please accept my apologies. Be back mid-week!

Thursday, March 03, 2011


* The pannetone that Daniel brought over had a fabric wrap. We decided to humiliate Georgie. Clearly, he is not amused. I like the way his eyes change color like a chameleon.

* Often, I make a piece of toast and microwave an egg for breakfast. I use a little ramekin, pierce the yolk and cover with plastic wrap and zap. Well I forgot to pierce the yolk one day and guess what? Nothing heinous happened. In fact, the yolk was better. It's been weeks now and I never pierce the yolk. Another example of something I believed (terrible explosions, oven mayhem) without ever bothering to test.

* Technology can be such a time suck, but I love it when it's not. For example, I heard a song on the radio and I just HAD to have it. When I got home, I went to the radio station website, found the song, pulled up itunes on the ipod touch and bought it. It's a cool salsa version of "My Way". I love it and think it's cute how he says, "I deed it, My Waaaaay." You can hear the song for free here. Click the arrow on the last song.

* Dollar store find. LU cookies! And the dark chocolate ones, to boot. It was with restraint that I only bought four boxes.

* I love when I find useful notes to myself. Often times I will prepare things well in advance and by the time I have to do the thing (teach a class, do the taxes, what have you) I have forgotten about the preparation process. Luckily, I leave notes to myself. "Don't forget to bring the folder," or "slow down at this part, the students are apt to be confused." Whenever I find one, I consider it a love note to myself.

* Apparently, there is a graffiti removal service sponsored by the city. And it's free. We called, but it isn't graffiti removal season yet. The taggers must know this.

* Serious brain fart. While playing Scrabble, I had corners in my hand and I thought, "Corner? Someone who corns? Like corning beef. Corner. Hmmm, no I don't think that's a word." Quintessential lame brain.

* My dad sent me a song he's fallen in love with. Lujon. So haunting and beautiful. I instantly loved it too. While searching for it, I saw this comment: "All you songwriters can stop now. You're too late. The perfect song has already been composed." Here, listen.

* While shoveling snow Monday, a nice man driving by who had a plow on the front of his pickup stopped, lowered his plow and "whoosh" my shoveling job done in an instant. He drove on before I could even thank him. I felt happy all day by that random act of kindness.

* Hilarious quiz alert. Who said it Gaddafi or Sheen. I only got 3 out of 10!

* I made a snowman. My first one so don't laugh.