jamesq: (Archie)
 I was enjoying Oxford Stomp, the annual concert a bunch of businesses put on every year for Stampede. I've been wanting to see Serena Ryder perform ever since I discovered her a few years ago.  She was playing last year (along with Don Henley) so I bought tickets.  Then the show got cancelled due to monsoons.  They booked her again this year, so I, once again, bought tickets.

Ms. Ryder did not disappoint.  I'm always a little worried that the singing you hear on the album got that way because of multiple takes and sound editing magic.  I'm sure there's some truth to that, but it's always nice to hear that the live artist is just that good. Serena Ryder has a fantastic voice, powerful with a great range - and she's not afraid to use it.  I'd definitely see her again. At another venue. An indoor venue. Away from the sun and the heat.

I was on my second coating of sunscreen when I noticed my eyes were super irritated.  "Swell", I thought, "I've sweated sunscreen into my eyes again."  That means trying to cry the irritant out, which is time consuming.  I basically sat at the edge of the venue listening to Our Lady Peace (who seemed like good performers who could work the crowd. alas, I'm not familiar with them, recognizing only two songs) with my eyes closed.

Irritated eyes is something I associate with outdoor SCA events, except now I'm starting to think sweat/sunscreen in the eyes isn't what's going on here.  There was a ton of hay bales on the site, and quite a few of them did get stomped to oblivion by the patrons.  I think I may be allergic to straw, or some byproduct of straw.  That would explain why I associate it with some, but not all, outdoor SCA events; and why it was so bad this time.

And it was bad. I've been off site for 90 minutes now, and I had a long shower, and my eyes are still sore, and my nose is super runny.  I almost started with the nasal rinse I bought for unrelated issues, but I don't have any distilled water.

Now it could be that my first guess (sunscreen) is the culprit, and the runny nose is just the body's response to an irritant in the eyes.  But it's both eyes, and the nose, and a generally icky feeling.  I've never had to deal with allergies before, except on rare trips to Vancouver.  I suspect there's something native to Van that pollinates for a brief period, and I occasionally catch it when the periods align. No clue what plant it is.  Anyway, now I think hay.  Being a city kids, it's no wonder I didn't put this together until middle age.

And the remainder of Oxford Stomp? It was good, but if this is the price I pay, I'll avoid it, regardless of the performers.  Corey Hart was the last performer.  I got to listen to his opening song as I left to go home - I just couldn't take it anymore.

So hay fever sucks. Hopefully a good night's sleep will clear it up.
jamesq: (Default)
I got a late start due to lethargy and the assumption that the weather in Banff was going to be gloomy (weather report was saying it was only 5C). Drove down the highway with light traffic and the occasional sprinkling of rain. No assholes. Parked in the usual spot and bought some fudge.

I was going to go to Bison to try that rum cocktail I saw last time I was there, since I'd have many hours to sober up before driving home. They close at 2 after their Sunday brunch. I got there at 2:05. Alas. I then decided to walk to the Banff Springs hotel along the road. I wandered around the hotel briefly, then walked down the foot path to Waldhaus pub since I had a few hours to kill. Did part of my crossword, while enjoying a Hacker-Pschorr Weisse.  Given I had only eaten potato chips for lunch, the pint of beer hit me pretty hard.  I was tipsy and very happy.  The radio was playing lots of songs I liked, I was just feeling glad to be alive.  i thought briefly about how being alone while travelling often triggers my jerk-brain, but I just told it to fuck off and I was fine.

After finishing my beer, I left the pub and encountered a guy photographing the scenery.  He asked how to get to Bow Falls, and since it was easy, I told him.

"I can't take two steps without taking a picture.  Even if it's the same mountain.  It's all so incredible."
"I know.  Sometimes I get a little jaded because I live in Calgary, and get to come to Banff basically as often as I'd like.  But then I look at all this..." gestures at Mount Rundle"...and I realize just how blessed I am."
"Well, it's Canada."
 
That made me incredibly proud, given his accent identified him as being from the UK.  A place that is no stranger to beautiful vistas.

I walked to Bow Falls, then back to the bridge and opted to check out the Old Banff Graveyard.  Always a good place for quiet reflection.  Ultimately, I'm going to be cremated, but I wonder if it wouldn't be worthwhile to have a gravestone made, just so someone will look at it long after I'm gone and have them wonder about my life, like I wondered about the lives bracketed by the dates on all those tombstones.  I'll need to look into which rocks last the longest.  Oh, and a place to put it since my body won't be anywhere.

I walked up the pathway to the Banff Centre and was the first person to be seated at Three Ravens, which, as some friends pointed out online yesterday, ain't cheap.  But it is oh so good, and has the best view in Banff.

By this time the sun had come out, and I was facing right into it.  I donned my sunglasses and my server asked if I wanted to have the shades drawn.

"Oh no, I'm enjoying this sunshine - it's filling me with warmth.  I just need to cut the glare a little."

Bread and custom butters was served. I had the duck breast with beats, followed up by a white chocolate mousse and a chocolate apertif.  Then I hiked back into Banff along the hidden corner lookout.

I was starting to feel quite sore from all the hiking, and would have loved rounding out the trip with a soak in the hot springs.  Alas, I'd forgotten my swim wear.  I opted to come home while I still had sunlight.  once again, traffic was light with no assholes.

In fact, the whole trip there weren't many people.  Banff only had a light scattering of tourists.  I suspect the gloomy weather (that went away once I got there) kept a lot of people away.  For me the weather was almost perfect.  I basically just wore a hoodie and was never hot or cold.  It was a goldilocks afternoon.
jamesq: (Default)
While cleaning today, I found a pressurized canister with a trigger. It was wrapped in a pressure bandage, which suggested it was someone trying to be efficient with their camping equipment. It wasn't mine, and it wasn't Ger's, which means it was abandoned by some long departed tenant.

I didn't know what it was, and it seemed useful for the great outdoors (it was also on a carabiner, so more evidence of that). I thought to myself "I should pull the trigger and figure out what it is". And then I thought "Wait... the most likely thing it is, is an air horn, or bear spray, and neither of the options will be pleasant in my basement". So I unwrapped it.

It was bear spray. Anyone want some bear spray? The odds of me accidentally triggering it are greater than me ever requiring it, so I'd rather just get rid of it.
jamesq: (Vancouver)
Facebook has a feature where it shows you stuff you posted on this day in years past. Turns out, the end of March, beginning of April is a popular time for me to go to Vancouver. There's no mystery to this - I often have vacation time I have to use or lose, and this is when my company's business year ends. So yay, a reason to visit; and yay, my vacation days have recycled.

Here's a recap:

Before I even got to Vancouver, on Tuesday night after my last day at work, I spent some time with [livejournal.com profile] thebrucie and Allison. We went to Craft for a four course meal with beer pairing put on by a local brewery. They were noteworthy for having a luau theme (so Bruce was happy), and an IPA that was actually super tasty - this is how they're supposed to taste.

Wednesday, I checked into The Burrard and took advantage of a special they had. I'm now the proud owner of nine (well, seven now) $25 Amex gift cards!

Being by myself I decided to go have a quiet dinner at Clubhouse Sushi, and then walk to the Rio to catch The Critical Hit Show (aka #DnDlive). It did not disappoint.

Related to the above, the performer I have a mild crush on, revealed she is about ten years older than I imagined! Also, that she was going to perform at a strip club for the first time the next evening.

Thursday, I didn't actually go to the strip club, mostly because going just to see a crush would be kinda creepy, and doing so by myself would be creepy as fuck. Instead, I opted to go to the Comedy Mix to see Sarah Tiana, who was pretty funny, as were the other three comics of the night. I need to go to comedy clubs more. It really is great value for the money.

Speaking of value for money, chicken fingers normally don't qualify. However, I ordered them at the Comedy Mix because I hadn't eaten any supper that night. When they arrived, the house lights had gone down, so I couldn't really see them. I could tell it was piled high on top of the french fries, making it seem huge. I resolved that I didn't really need to eat the french fries, so I'd stop when I got to them. Except there were no french fries - it was chicken fingers all the way to the bottom. By Grabthar's hammer... what a savings.

Friday, I hung out with [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia in the afternoon, inadvertantly filling my hat with soft drinks (wet. sticky. I've felt it before), baked a cake at Port Wood before everyone got home, and then went to the Burrard Pub with Jonathan, [livejournal.com profile] garething, and [livejournal.com profile] othelianna.

Saturday, Rosie and I went thrift shopping in North Vancouver. I figured, if we were going to do this, we should go somewhere farther afield, so it would be unique to both of us. Nope. She's been to every thrift store in the lower mainland it seems. Among our travels we also went to Filmgo sales, which is a thrift store that caters to professional props people, though they will sell to anyone. I found a Chinese Apothecary cabinet (basically a medium sized cabinet with 33 drawers in it), but didn't buy it.

Back at Port Wood, I prepared for Gareth and Steph's anniversary by icing the cake I'd baked the night before. Freeze your cake, it makes icing it way simpler! A little fudgy - I probably over mixed it. I'll need to work on that for the next iteration.

It was also the Sins Against God and Humanity Potluck party that Steph planned in my honour. Basically, all those weird and horrible recipes from the distant past you've always wanted to try? We tried them. I made Spam Musubi. Steph made Bologna Stew. Rosie made Twix Salad, Here's the thing about those recipes - they're actually damn tasty. Not terribly good for you, but if I was health conscious, I wouldn't have drank all that rum.

Speaking of which, Bumbu Rum is probably the best sip-it-neat rum I've ever had! Definitely picking up a bottle soon. Drinking did happen, but there was so much food, and drinking was at a sufficiently slow pace, that no one actually got drunk. Tipsy, sure, but not drunk. Next time, less unfortunate food, more cocktails.

The night required cheese, so I made them all watch The Nice Guys.

About the only real problem of the trip is that I ended up not getting on my bus because I assumed I was getting on a different bus and didn't actually read the instructions Google Maps gave me. And it was sufficiently late when I left the party that the 2 Km walk to Burquitlam station was less time.

Sunday I hung out with Rosie some more, but we did spend a plesant two hours at Dutch Wooden Shoe enjoying pancakes and the company of Steph and [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka!

I also remembered an incident where I waited too long to buy a set of drawers from Consignment Gallery and regretted it. I resolved to buy that apothecary cabinet. About two weeks ago I emptied my penny jar and got enough money to pay for the cabinet. That's exactly the sort of thing I like doing with that "found" money. It gets to live at Port Wood until I can get my car out there this summer.

And now I'm actually planning that summer trip. A full week in Vancouver next time, I think. This time was, as is the way of the spring trips, too short.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
Today was a nice day off. Be warned, this is a pure I-had-toast-it-was-crunchy post.

I wasn't going to take today off. I could have, but I wasn't, because I had things to do at work. However, a new policy came in at work that meant instead of 23 Fridays off each year, we're only going to get 15. The only reason seems to be because other companies aren't as generous, which seems a poor reason since it's not like we're working more or less now - those extra days are turning into 15 minutes less per day. Frankly, I'd rather work the extra 15 minutes and get the days off, even though I typically don't take all 23 in a year (looking back over the last few year's hours confirms this).

Anyway, I decided that I'm going to take every scheduled Friday off between now and the end of March when the new policy takes effect. Just because.

The day was nice, and full of hygge.

I went to lunch at Blue Star with [livejournal.com profile] hislittlekitty. It was nice to catch up with her, because I hadn't had any one-on-one time with her in many months. She even paid for lunch, possibly because she knew if she'd dawdled, I'd have done it. She may be on to my "It's my turn to pay" ploy.

I did get to give her the present I bought for her last summer when I was in Portland. It was a purple boa that whispered "Kathy would love me" whenever I walked by it in the thrift store. Amusingly, when I was waiting in line to pay for it, the woman behind me told me she was going to buy it, but waited too long to get it. If I didn't have an intended recipient, I'd have let you take it, random stranger.

I spent the afternoon baking cookies. I'm pretty burned out from cookie making, after all I did during the holidays. However, I wanted to use up the last of the perishable ingredients. So I have another batch of Peanut Butter Squares (which are rapidly becoming even more desired than my chocolate chip cookies), and what I'm calling Hodge Podge cookies. Basically chocolate chip cookies that got the random stuff thrown into them. In this case, walnuts and some mint milk chocolate shaving I picked up by accident from Cococo.

Afterwards I played some Dark Forces, which I picked up for five bucks off of Sony, and have been replaying for nostalgia sake ever since I saw Rogue One. Because Rogue One retcons Dark Forces out of existence.

I whined a bit online about being bored, and I ended up getting invited to Metal Galaxy by [livejournal.com profile] cat_cetera. I showed up and played a small amount of Machi Koro, a city-building card game that seems to actually be a cleverly disguised version of Craps with fellow-SCAdian CT, and a random girl named H.

Funny thing about H, she was quiet, and also very knowledgable and cutthroat about the game. A true QLP. If I was twenty years younger, I'd have fallen for her instantly.

I'm kind of glad I'm not twenty years younger. It's nice to be able to relate to people without the goddamn hormones getting in the way and making me drive them away with creepiness.

We soon got kicked out because the store was closing and I briefly considered offering H a ride (she was exiting the parking lot in exactly that way that people who rely on transit have). That would have been creepy though, and I'd have had to go into a big rigamarole of getting [livejournal.com profile] cat_cetera to vouch for me, and that's just awkward.

Aside: It occurs to me that I inadvertently crashed some woman-gamers thing. I hope that wasn't the case, and this was a open-to-anyone thing.

I drove home, cutting through Elbow Drive for shits-and-giggles. Now I'm enjoying a delicious Red Racer White Ale (which I am definitely picking up more of. Yum) and the Leeroy sausage from Carnivore Club that I got for Christmas from [livejournal.com profile] conejita_diabla and [livejournal.com profile] thebrucie. Which brings me to a story...

So a few months ago, I went to a movie with some friend. I mentioned that I had just bought myself the Lego Beatles Yellow Submarine kit.

"Dude, why are you buying yourself stuff like that, right before Christmas. I might have bought it for you."
"It's $70. The last people who spent that much money on me for Christmas was my parents, and they've been dead over ten years. No one is spending that much money on me."
Now, I need to point out that I'm all right with that. Nobody needs to get me anything, and they're certainly under no obligation to spend a certain amount. If you're thinking of me, take me out to dinner, or buy me a bottle of rum. I'm easy to please.

While the conversation about did not include [livejournal.com profile] conejita_diabla and [livejournal.com profile] thebrucie, they were present for it. I don't know precisely how much they spent on the gift box of cured meats (that I've been happily consuming for the last three weeks) and artisan cheeses, but my best guess is that it's just a bit over $70. Thanks again BTW.

I also related that story to [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia while I was in Vancouver over Christmas, as well as a desire to a) go back to Vegas with people sometime, and b) go see Steve Martin/Martin Short in concert. The Steve Martin/Martin Short tickets in Vegas that Steph just bought me are at least $70.

So here I sit, feeling loved. Not because I'm getting presents, but because people are thinking of me.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I was out at the Calgary Farmers' Market yesterday with some friends, and I noticed when you walked into the NE entrance, there's a store off to the side selling a lot of tweed-based men's wear (according to the market's map, it's not actually a part of the market). They also appeared to be selling some random Christmas stuff in the White Christmas Village mode. Among the things they had was a mailbox.

Here's the thing though, it looked like the mailboxes that Canada Post uses in historical neighbourhoods. I.e. anachronistic, but still real. I had some postcards that I needed to drop, so I tossed them in the slot.

[livejournal.com profile] thebrucie watched this and said, "I don't think this is a real mailbox."

We look closer and at the bottom, below the very Canada Post-like list of pickup times, was a website URL (which I didn't commit to memory) indicating they make models, and that this wasn't real.

Once we realized this, there was some good nature ribbing about my throwing a pair of post cards away by accident. In my defence, it really did look real, and the store had placed this model in the lobby, rather than inside their store.

I tried to open it and failed, so I went into the store looking for an employee.

"How may I help you sir?"
"Do you guys own this mailbox?"
"Yes, we do."
"Well, I mistook it for a real one, and I need you to unlock it so I can grab the mail I just threw in by accident."
The fellow also tries to open it, initially failing. He then confessed that he wasn't sure if there was a key for the lock. He fiddled with it a little more and finally the door popped open. It wasn't locked (the keyhole was just for show), the magnet that held the door shut was just really powerful.

There, at the top of a pile of other mail, were my two postcards. I grabbed them and thanked the guy for his help. I left to walk into the market proper, looking back briefly to see the guy holding a big wad of mail in his hands and an expression of now-what-do-I-do on his face. I'm just happy I wasn't the only one who had done this. I do wonder how long that faux mailbox was sitting there though. It looked like at least twenty letters - all waiting patiently for a postie who was never going to come.

You'll be happy to know (especially if your name is Sue or Jenny) that the postcards made their way into a proper mailbox later that day.

*** One Week Later***

I wonder how much mail they found.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
One of my coworkers brought in some fund-raising candy bars. You know, the boxes of chocolate-covered almonds that go for three bucks a box. There was half a dozen of them on the counter in our kitchen, along with a tip box for donations. This went on for several days. Every time I went into the kitchen, those six boxes of almonds sat there.

"Jeebus, my coworkers are a cheap bunch. I'd totally buy a box of chocolates, if I weren't being a good boy on Weight Watchers."

This morning when I came in, I saw the same tableau, as it had been for three days.

"Screw it", I said. I fished out twenty bucks, dumped it in the tip box, then proceeded to empty all six boxes into a large bowl, leaving it on the counter so people could help themselves. I went to my office feeling pretty good about that.

Later that morning, I walk into the kitchen to find that people had indeed helped themselves to the chocolates in the bowl. I also saw that all of the original boxes had been replaced with new boxes. The coworker apparently had more than the original six boxes, and was topping up the supply in the kitchen as needed. For all I know, he'd been selling them steady all week, and didn't need my help. D'oh!

Oh well, it's fundraising, and the almonds were enjoyed.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I went to a Thanksgiving get together with my family yesterday. It was at my aunt's place, which is tiny, so we were mostly in the living room.

The TV was on CNN. There was only two stories on CNN that anyone cared about. Hurricane Matthew, and Donald Trump's "grab her by the pussy" tape. Specifically, Trump's "apology" about it that included his avowal that he was not going to quit the race under any circumstances.

"Oh god, yes. Please please please stay in the race. I can't wait to watch you singlehandedly destroy the Republican party, you misogynistic buffoon!", I say.

There's a pregnant pause in the room.

"Wow. This is really good turkey."
"Yes... and the stuffing is wonderful."
"I really like these devilled eggs."


And I think to myself. "Ok, don't discuss politics at Thanksgiving."

Later on, after everyone had left but me, my aunt brings it up and we have a laugh over it.

"There weren't any Trump supporters in the room were there?", I ask.
"Oh no. In fact, your cousins would have likely followed your rant with one of their own. They can't stand him."
"Good for them."


Alas, I have a bad habit of doing this. Sometimes it's when one of my pet rants gets poked. Sometimes I'm trying to be funny, and miscalculate into asshole. Still working on those.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
It's funny how things set in your mind as a kid. To me, September 1st is the true beginning of the year, because that's the first day of school. Now, I've been at my current job as long as I was ever in school (and this isn't my first job after graduating), but it still feels that way.

So this is a day for new beginnings. first new beginning is something I've been putting off for months - I'm back on Weight Watchers. Sadly, that meant exposing my brain to the depression-inducing value that is my current weight. I've literally been avoiding this for that reason. well the verdict is in, I'm 17 pounds above "monster" and 8 pounds short of "jump off a bridge". Since suicide is not on my agenda, and not being a monster is, I guess that means I have to buckle down. And I'll do it right, since I've been half-assing it even when I was getting weighed in (I haven't sat through a meeting in years - pretty much since they shut down the early one that my favourite leader was at. I'm at my second favourite leader's meeting now.

Is there anything else I can start? Running, but that's not going to be until I can consistently walk 5K without any Plantar's pain. I can walk to work, and that's 3.5K, so I'm very nearly there. It will be nice to run again. The last time was last October. In Portland.

Unfucking my habitat is a perennial goal, which I'll be revisiting.

I think what I might do is go back to my letter grades.

Oh, and being less negative. The hard part here is that often means being less negative out loud, when it really should be at all. Still, I hope you all are a little forgiving on that front, since not beating myself up is actually really difficult.

Anyway, raise a glass to new beginnings.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
My bike developed a flat on the way to work last week. This was the first time I'd used it since my trip. Managed to get halfway to work, then ended up walking the bike all the way back, and doing so angry because Shell has the poor taste to charge for air while simultaneously not having an air gauge you can borrow.

But I digress.

I wanted to switch the bike back to the original configuration without the Flykly Smart Wheel. I took it down to Bow Cycle and the charges kept adding up and up. By the time I'd left it with them, I was looking at $120 and not being too happy about it. Not necessarily rational, since I don't think they were ripping me off or anything. I just wasn't sure the bike was worth it.

They phoned me yesterday to say that they couldn't swap the original gear bak without a new, longer chain, and that that was going to cost another $40. I did a quick mental calculation and realized that the labour costs were now more than half the cost of an identical brand-new bike.

"Skip it. Just put the rear cargo rack on."

This morning, I got Gerry to drive me down to the shop so I could ride the bike back home, and he could take all the spare parts back in his car. It was a nice ride home. As predicted, I still had to push the bike up Home Road.

Will I get a second bike? Maybe next year. If I decide to get rid of the Flykly wheel, I'll just do it with a bike attached to it. In the meantime, it gets the commuting job done.

They only charged me $15 total for putting the rear rack on. Still, the only reason i had them do it was because I thought it required taking the rear wheel off. apparently, the Electra bikes already have points to attach a rack, and all you really need is a wrench and twenty minutes of time. I'd have known that if I'd bothered to read the instructions. Oh well, $15 was probably better than several months worth of procrastination.

And the flat rear tire? Apparently there was nothing wrong with it, and it held full pressure for the whole trip.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I think my last birthday was when I officially became old. I say this because suddenly I ache all over.

First week of the new year, I threw my back out. I'm not sure how - I think it was tying my shoe; it certainly wasn't anything obvious like moving a heavy thing (unless you count my stomach as a heavy thing).

I took it easy for the next few weeks, and in late January it flared up again, just as bad. Again, I waited it out and it started to get better, but never got near 100% even after a few weeks. This weekend I threw it out again. Probably moving all that furniture over the weekend.

Since it keeps flaring up and not getting better over two whole months, I opted to go to the doctor. I wanted to make sure there wasn't something more wrong with me than just strained muscles. BTW, It's nice having a new doctor (really, a new clinic, but I'm part of their family practice, so I'm not just some walk-in).

I'm not sure what I was expecting - confirmation that there wasn't anything worse going on. I got that after a battery of tests administered by the doctor, amounting to "reach here", and "push there", and "do you feel shooting pains in your leg". The shooting pains in the leg thing I knew, from [livejournal.com profile] halfdane866, to mean that I likely had a slipped disk. I don't have a slipped disc, thank the old ones. What I do have is your basic, run-of-the-mill strained back muscles, combined with either poor wisdom or poor luck - hence why I keep re-injuring it. Prognosis? Four to six weeks of knock that shit off combined with heat to make it feel better and ice if it starts spasming. Also, a suggestion that I do my back stretches religiously, and maybe get into something that builds core strength, like yoga or Pilates.

So no heavy lifting for me for the next little while (which sucks because I still have a ton of shit to move), and given that the most painful of her tests was the same as me aiming a bow vertically, probably no archery for six weeks.

Getting old sucks, though it's still better than the alternative so far. On the bright side, my Plantar fasciitis seems to be going away - or possibly I don't notice it because I haven't been walking/hiking/running very much. When I start running again, it will be slow and gentle.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I have what I call "pee dreams". Basically, if my bladder is full in the middle of the night, my subconscious will try to tell me by making me want to go in my dream. However, I'm not actually able to go (being in bed in the waking world), so the dream plays out in a very frustrating way.

I'm usually in a large building like a shopping mall or similar complex, and I look for a bathroom. All of the bathrooms are unsuitable: They're either occupied, or they have no privacy, or they're broken. Imagine a crowded changing room there all the stalls have had their walls removed. Or the walls are only two feet high. I end up searching high and low for a proper bathroom, never to actually find one.

So I've been trying to spot these occurrences in the dream so that I can say "a two foot high stall divider in a room full of my bullies from junior high is an improbable occurrence - I must be dreaming. Time to wake up."

I almost succeeded last night. I thought "a wall of out-of-order urinals beside a public swimming pool is an improbable occurrence. It's like those pee dreams I have, except I'm awake. I'd better saddle up my velociraptor and look for another swimming pool."

Sigh. Almost there, brain. Almost there.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
For Christmas last year (that is to say, 2014), I decided that all of my friends who drink, were getting liquor. This worked out fairly well. One of the problems with being a grown-up is that if we need something, we get it, and things we want are often out of the range for mere Christmas presents. This leaves consumables - food, drink, show tickets, dinners out, that sort of thing.

This year I decided to do that again, but I wanted to put a little more effort into it than simply a trip to the liquor store. I also thought about getting bottles of those liquors that people always look at, but don't end up buying because they might not have a use for 750 ml of something. At least not in the time frame that you should drink it.

Aside: I went to a Nerd Nite talk where the speaker was from a distillery. The "good stuff" should be consumed within 1-2 years of opening the bottle. Oh, it won't go bad per se, but it will deteriorate. If you're saving that bottle for a special occasion, make it a special occasion in the next two years.

I settled on buying bottles from a craft store and dividing assorted bottles between them. Then I'd put custom labels on them and make little gift bags. People would get three or four bottles of oddball liquor and they could then try them at their leisure in case they wanted a whole bottle of something.

The first problem was the bottles - the ones Michaels sells were crap. Also, wine-making stores didn't appear to have an ideal size (i.e. in the neighbourhood of 187 ml - 1/4 of a standard bottle). Looking online I found these bottles. The only problem being that shipping them to Canada would triple their cost.

Then we planned a road trip to Leavenworth Washington for Octoberfest. Now I could ship them to a US address and simply stick them in the back of the car. Duty wouldn't be bad, assuming I even went over my duty limit (I didn't). Incidentally, General Delivery in the States is ridiculously easy. My shipment was waiting at the post office, and it took the USPS clerk about two minutes to give me my package and get me on my way.

So now I had the bottles. 200ml is a little bigger than the 187ml I needed, but not by much - a tablespoon basically. Since the capacity was to the cap, this worked out perfectly.

Photos beyond the cut, and more details... )
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
Had an odd conversation just now.

I had gotten a call from my Aunt J on Sunday night, but I couldn't return it until today. Getting any sort of call from a relative is always unsettling as I'm not close with any of them. To get an unsolicited call usually means someone has died, and Aunt J is the oldest living Cyr on my branch of the family.

Her son was in town to visit a girlfriend, and they ended up getting into a argument that resulted in the son, B, being outside in the snow for several hours with no money (which is atypical) and no real contacts. J called every number she had only to find...

  • My sister's number is no longer in service. Huh.
  • My Aunt S's number is no longer in service. Double huh.
  • She finally tried mine in a sort of Hail Mary pass, since my number used to be my Dad's number way back when, and maybe a relative still had it. She figured she was going to get my brother.

    Naturally my phone was off, so all I got was the message.

    Anyway, B had ended up walking and chatting with some guy, and the two of them came across a fellow bleeding in the street. They helped him and then ended up spending the night a police station making statements (and incidentally keeping warm). The next morning he contacted his girlfriend, who drove him to the airport for his flight back to BC. With no reconciliation, so who knows if he'll be back.

    Along with that, I found out that my aunt is now a recent cancer survivor. I wished her good health moving forward and that was it. No one had died.

    Still, that was a weird little adventure. I'm sorry I didn't get the call directly - I could have easily taken B in for the night and given him a ride the next day.
  • jamesq: (Consumer Whore)
    For the most part, my Honda doesn't give me troubles. Not being a car guy, I like "no troubles" - it's a primary reason why I picked the car I did. I also like my dealership; they generally don't blow smoke up my ass, and they keep my car trouble free. But sometimes shit just happens.

    I didn't start the car for two weeks, due to my recent vacation, and also because I didn't need it for the first few days I was back. I finally went to use it Wednesday night only to discover that it didn't start. The next day, I applied [livejournal.com profile] devoidofthought's battery charger to it. It wouldn't take a charge. Then I got [livejournal.com profile] nosarious to give me a boost. It wouldn't even turn over.

    The battery must be dead, I reasoned. We went down to Crappy Tire and bought a new battery. Ger offered to swap it out since I had to get to work. Along the way he discovered that the terminals were on the wrong side, so he went and got another one. After much farting around, he discovered that it still wouldn't turn over. Ugh. Clearly there was more wrong with the car than just a dead battery.

    After some phone calling, Village Honda agreed to look at it today, and I got it towed up there bright and early this morning. I asked them to find out what the hell went wrong. I also asked them to replace my keys, since they were long past the point of being fucked - I'd even bought new keys online to hack, and those only worked for a few months. I did this to avoid being gouged. And now I've asked to be gouged, since wobbly ignition keys are a giant pain. Charging me $100 for a $10 item is still a gouge though.

    And then I left the car with them and took a shuttle to work. That's when the phone calls began.

    "Your tires are getting super worn. Well, three of them anyway. Did you want to buy new tires?"

    "I already have an appointment to replace my winter tires next week. I think I can drive on these for one more weekend. I'll deal with new all seasons in the spring."
    Next.

    "You're scheduled for an oil change, and those are free for you" [because reasons], "Did you want that done now?"

    "Sure."

    "Oh, it says here in your history that you're actually due for a B-service. That actually costs, but you really should do it."

    "Ok."
    B-service is where the change all the filters and other fluids. Third phone call:

    "You're going to dread me calling you."

    "What's wrong with it now?"

    "You're down to 1 mm on the rear brake pads. They really need replacing."

    "Well, I guess the brakes are kinda necessary."
    Sigh. I think if I walk out of the dealership only $1000 lighter, I'll be lucky. This is on top of the $900 I'm paying for tires next week. All absolutely necessary, since I spent most of last winter repeating "If I don't die, I'm getting new tires next season", generally while death-gripping the steering wheel.

    I'm also likely buying a new bicycle next week since I currently have a tracking number for my flykly wheel. Since I want a decent bike with that, it's going to cost me a pretty penny. Between the vacation, the car repairs, and the new bike, I'm very glad I have a line of credit. It does add a few months to my "house paid off" date though.

    I still don't know what preventing the car from starting though. Maybe I'll be enlightened when I go to pick it up.
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    My mind wanders; sometimes it hits upon fantastic ideas that would be great for an SF story or RPG. Then my brain starts imagining the outcome of those fantastic ideas. Then those outcomes spawn more mundane concerns. Here's an example:


    • What if all of our stuff just vanished, leaving us behind. Alien Space Bats fuck with us in a way similar to the Emberverse.
    • Ugh. A lot of people in airplanes and high buildings are going to fall to their death.
    • I wonder what the odds of that happening to me are?
    • my office is on the ground floor - if I fall, it will be into the pit where my building's basement is.
    • Wait... Does my building even have a basement? I imagine it does, but I've seen no evidence of that. There's no parking garage, no low windows, and no doors that lead down.
    From post-apocalyptic scenario to wondering if my office has a basement... in seconds!
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    Saturday was the best day of CCEE so far, with only the faintest whiff of bullshit. But let's not dwell on that.

    I am a little in awe of the huge amount of talented people at this convention. The costumes were gorgeous, the panel discussions informative, the big guests were uniformly funny and entertaining, and everyone I talked to was a joy to be with.

    I managed to break my fear of talking to people long enough to chat (briefly) with several artists and get their autographs. I got a book from Jennie Breeden, Danielle Corsetto, Bruce Timm signed, and a print from Laurie B!.

    It was only later when I realized that every single book involved nudity or outright porn. Which is odd since I kind of lamp-shaded it with [livejournal.com profile] wendy_licious the day before.

    "I want to get a naughty book signed by one of the creators. Can I get you to stand next to me so that she doesn't correctly identify me a solitary, middle-aged, basement-dwelling, pervert?"
    "Of course."
    All in all, it went smoothly, which says a lot about their experience with fans, rather than my level of nervousness.

    Later I saw Q&A sessions with some of the big guests of the show: Steven Amell, Ming-Na Wen and Brett Dalton.

    Steven Amell was the third celebrity at expo to surprise me with their normal voice. He sounds like Oliver Queen in all of the "Flashback Island" sequences on the show. He was funny and gracious and a good sport with some of the more outré fan requests. Best question/answer:

    "Are you as good an archer as Oliver Queen?"
    "I've been practicing since we started production, so I'm getting better. Steven Amell is not as good as Oliver Queen, but he's better than Hawkeye."
    I howled.

    Ming-Na Wen and Brett Dalton were both fun. They bantered with each other very well. And Ming is a lot of fun, in total contrast to her Agents of SHIELD character (That's why they call it acting). Best line from a panel full of great lines? This one:

    "Brett has the smallest bladder in the cast."
    "What can I say, I like to stay hydrated"
    I tweeted that and it ended up being the single biggest retweet I've ever written. Unfortunately, it (the quote, not my tweet) lead to a number of pee-related questions.

    As an aside, I was thinking that Ming was astonishingly good looking for a 40-year old. Turns out I was wrong - she's 51. Damn.

    Finally, there was the costume contest. It was a showcase of fantastic workmanship, even in the novice and youth categories! Like I said above - I'm a little in awe. And also kind of sad that I have no crafting talent whatsoever.

    While the judges were off judging, they had an Iron-Costumer contest (which, if you're familiar with Iron Chef, you should know exactly what the contestants were in for). That is a great idea, and is exactly the sort of costuming-related shenanigans that will keep the target audience around for the time it takes the judges to do their thing.

    I was taking crappy-ass pictures with my phone for the first quarter of the contest, until I realized that I was focusing so much on getting the picture, I wasn't really enjoying the costumes. Since there were professional-grade photographers all around me (I imagine some even work for CCEE), I decided to shut the phone off and just watch. If I want to see pictures later, there'll be better ones online than the ones on my phone. I'll know better next time.

    After the expo closed, I grabbed a car2go and joined some friends for sushi.
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    Day 2 started with some good news, [livejournal.com profile] wendy_licious wanted to buy my spare VIP pass! Yay, con buddy! A quick trip to her work to pass it off and I was off to Expo.

    The first noteworthy thing is that Friday is not Thursday - there were a lot more people on the floor of the Roundup Centre today than yesterday - I was lulled into a false sense of security there.

    A few patterns emerged. First, I tend to peer over everyone, not making eye-contact. Partially this is just taking advantage of my height to take everything in. The down side is that almost every person I've run into so far has basically had to walk up to me wave in my face. I literally did not see any of them while they were trying to get my attention.

    Similarly, my hearing continues to be superhuman under conditions of no white noise, and absolute shit in the din of a crowded room, as evidenced by the people above who were yelling my name.

    I also put together a few mental quirks while discussing my reluctance to talk to any of the artists/celebrities.

    "I never know what to say. I can't just walk up to them and say 'I love your stuff', that's hardly original."
    "Why do you need to be original - artists love having their work validated."
    "Really?!? They don't find compliments to be profoundly embarassing?"
    "Why would they think that?"
    "I do."
    All this while talking to someone I know at a booth that was right beside a web cartoonist I really like.

    I managed to miss the Parade of Wonders (it was Downtown, and I had some weird notion that it would end at the Stampede Grounds). OTOH, there were so many people cosplaying at the event that you didn't need to see the parade.

    Guests that I watched included Graham McTavish, the Queens of Darkness, and last minute guest, Neil Patrick Harris. All where really good guests. NPH in particular was entertaining as hell, even managing to not let Mayor Nenshi upstage him.

    I'm really warming up to Expo, especially being a VIP. Definitely thinking about returning next year. Two more days - we'll see how they go, but I expect wonderful experiences and glittery rainbow unicorn farts.
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    I'm a little buzzed from beer, so this might be choppy.

    I've never been to the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo before. This year I decided to dive in head first with a VIP pass.

    Got in early and wandered around the floor of the Roundup Centre before grabbing my giant swag bag. There was a serious amount of stuff in it.

    Being a VIP gives me a quite a few perks in addition to swag. One of those perks is the VIP lounge. They warn you that they're not liable for stuff left in the lounge, but having been in the lounge, I think it's relatively safe for leaving stuff that isn't jewelry or personal electronics. I was happy to leave the giant bag in the lounge.

    Went to a writers' workshop that was mostly no-shit-there-I-was stories from the theatre crowd. Then rushed to the other side of the Expo to see Jewel Staite answer questions. She's funny and articulate and well grounded and had a few thousand people hanging on her every word for an hour. Well worth the time and running to get there.

    After closing, I met SA at the Hop in Brew for a drink and had a wonderful conversation. I might actually be relaxing around her.

    All in all a good day. Still haven't sold my extra VIP pass (and I'm starting to think I won't), and I haven't checked out a lot of the Expo exhibits yet, but I intend to do so tomorrow. Still, i'd rather do all that and not be lonely. Alas.
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    About a month ago, JumpOn Flyways offered a trip to Vancouver on the Easter Weekend. The price was right ($124 each way), the timing was good (Thursday after work, until Monday evening), and if you got in quick enough, you could take $50 off the bill (I didn't). The catch is they use a crowdfunding model - if they don't fill about 75% of the round trip flight, the trip doesn't happen. Obviously, this trip happened.

    The flight was spartan (no food service, so the flight attendants mostly gossiped with each other), and due to conflicts with (I think) the airport, we ended up having the flight rescheduled an hour and a half later. This put me in Vancouver just a wee bit too late on Thursday night to do anything social. I checked into my hotel and ended up have a cocktail, salad, and creme brûlée in the hotel lounge.

    This morning I wandered around Coal Harbour briefly, then met [livejournal.com profile] garething, [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia, Ryanzilla, [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka, and CS for brunch at a really good diner on the edge of Gastown - Deacon's Corner.

    Sadly, that was my last chance to see Steph this weekend as she had a previously scheduled trip to Edmonton that began this afternoon.

    Afterward I hung out with Ryan some more, visiting Forerunners, The ComicShop, and Drexal Games. I also discovered that Ironhead Athletic had closed/moved to parts unknown. Drat. My current IronHead pullover is rapidly wearing out after five years of loving use and I was hoping to pick up a new one.

    I walked back to my hotel after that, which was a bit of a hike (4th and Arbutus to Coal Harbour) and relaxed for a while before heading off to Kadoya Sushi for supper. They had one of the most delicious rolls I've ever eaten - the Maple roll (Salmon, Cream Cheese, Smoked Salmon, and an amazing sauce). Getting there did provide me with a brief moment of sadness - The Love Bucket was permanently closed.

    And now I'm back in my hotel room writing. First LJ entry in quite some time.

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