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Apr 16

Currently enjoying an extra long Easter weekend. In addition to having Good Friday off I also took off the Monday. I've been feeling 'off' the past few weeks so I'm going to take advantage of the break and just relax and putter around the house and take it easy.

Kim & Hailey came over for dinner Friday night. Chris had slaved away all day making a yummy Ham and scalloped potatoes. To finish it off we had a tasty upside down pineapple cake. Afterwards we hung out in the garage and played some Mario Kart (I kicked butt). Sadly the rest of the family was scattered to the winds and couldn't come but it was still an enjoyable evening.

Previous to that Chris & I and some friends went to Telus Spark for their adults only night which is held every 2nd Thursday of the month. Telus Spark is the new science center that was built a few years ago. I'd been to the old one when I used to live downtown so long ago and quite enjoyed it. Everyday I'd drive by the new one on my way to work and kept telling myself that I should check it out. Bored and wanting to do something different I finally got around to arranging it. The reason for it being adults only that night was because they served booze in the concourse. Booze and science - the perfect match!

In addition to just wandering around and checking out the various exhibits and displays they also had a planetarium which was pretty cool. It was kind of like an Imax screen that was curved all around you. The show we watched was just ok, but I could see it being pretty amazing with the right one. There's also a large area for special features which I gather they change every so often. Currently it's devoted to all things Star Trek so we checked it out as well. It was ok. There were lots of people with big grins on their faces walking around so they obviously loved it. In addition to various props and displays from the shows and movies they had various interactive kiosks. The idea being you'd try all of them and at the end you'd get a summary of what role in Star Fleet you'd best be suited for. Maybe I'm not a big enough geek to have gotten the most out of it? I was also feeling crappy that night so that probably didn't help.

But overall I'm glad we went and a big thank you to Jamie, Kim, Dori and Matthew who came out!

Fun With Science

Making Music With Light

The weekend before that Chris & I did a quick trip up to Edmonton to see my Mom before we head out on our vacation. Unfortunately we only got to spend one day with her as we had to stick around on the Friday to receive one of our pieces of art we bought when we were in Seattle. But it was a good visit and we'll have to head up again when we get back from our trip.

As for our cruise, it'll be here before we know it. All our excursions are now finally planned out and the various transports, guides, tickets etc. all bought and booked. I just looked at our world map and realized I'll get to put an extra five pins in it. I can't wait. Bring on the squishy drinks!


Mar 14

A couple weeks ago we were in Seattle.

Because of all the artwork we've bought in the past while on our cruises we got comped by the auction house a stay at a nice hotel with free meals and drinks. Of course they also held several art auctions, but unlike on the ships, you also got to meet the artists, interact with them, and hear their stories. We've had similar offers from them before, but this time we decided to go. In the basement we had a wall niche built to display something fancy and we've looked for awhile now for a piece that would fit - but neither of us has found anything that we both liked. So we were hoping we'd find something at this event to fill that space. I've also never been to Seattle so we thought it'd be a nice get away and as everything was paid for it'd also be relatively cheap...

At least that's what we thought.

Well of course while there you're feeling pretty important, downing the free booze, and they're making the artists out to be the greatest thing since Van Gogh. So naturally we got caught up in it all and during the first auction ended up buying a nice painting from this quirky little Frenchman named Duaiv. When they unveiled his work I scanned the room (which was extremely large, holding roughly 300 guests) and there was only one that I liked which was a gigantic abstract which naturally was also the most expensive. But then a smaller one caught my eye and Chris liked it as it reminded us of Europe so we tagged it and when it came up for auction we held up our bid card and won it.

The big difference between this event and ship auctions is that on the ship people are usually just there for the free champagne and to kill time before they have to go to Bingo. In fact, even though it's their bread and butter, the host made several cracks about the cruise ships which were pretty funny. Some bidding does happen but it's usually pretty low amounts and people do pre-bids - where once the piece you tagged is presented they tend to bang out the gavel as soon as your bid card goes up so you're almost guaranteed to get it with no other competing bids. But during this event it was just like in the movies where you had back and forth bids of increasing amounts. It was pretty exciting to watch.

Our hotel room was really nice as was the hotel itself - The Four Seasons - which was right downtown on the waterfront. We did manage to do some wandering around outside but only within a several block radius. We went to Pike Place Market which was pretty neat. The amount of seafood everywhere was crazy. We also got to see the very first Starbucks (ooh, aaah) which was nearby. And last but not least we stopped at the gum wall which was both amusing and gross and we made our contribution. But then it was back to the bidding...

The second auction was all about this artist named Godard whose work I've seen before. He's a pop culture artist, and has been compared to a modern day Warhol. He came out during dinner the night before and told his story which was pretty interesting. He's the typical rags to riches story and now hangs out with Hollywood celebrities and rock stars. But the cool thing is he donates a chunk of his sales to various charities, specifically ones related to cancer research as he lost his own daughter to cancer. I'll admit he had me choked up listening to him tell the crowd about her struggle and according to Chris I wasn't the only one in the audience shedding a few tears. All that said, I had no intention of buying any of his work because we were done buying paintings.

Godard Painting

Posing With Michael Godard and Our Newest Piece

But again, once the booze starts flowing, you're feeling pretty self important, you scan the room and see that one piece that calls to out to you...'buy me!'. What else are you supposed to do? You have to buy it right? So once again, we put up the bid card and became the proud owners of yet more art. To be fair, we justified it as the purchase price would put us over the limit whereby we'd be qualified to go on a free cruise. In our wine soaked state it made total sense. Hell, we were being thrifty! Except we didn't do the math properly and were short of the limit amount by about $400. Not only that, but when we got the Visa bill I almost crapped myself because I sorta forgot about the 'tax me another 30% just because I'm Canadian' tax.

We contacted them after we got home and whined about being short and reminded them how much we've bought from them in the past and so on and they said there was a 'very good chance' we'd be offered a cruise. So we'll see what happens.

All I know is once I get the thing up on the wall I'm going to stop and admire the shit out of it each and every single day and let it be a valuable life lesson in self restraint - or the lack thereof.


Feb 11

This is painful...

Currently on hold for the past 30 minutes with the company that hosts this website. I'm trying to renew my domain name but for whatever reason the online form is messed up and it won't let me do it. So now I'm enjoying the elevator music emanating from my phone. Isn't technology great?

When I got the renewal notice I was somewhat surprised how long this website has been going. Most personal websites come and go rather quickly as people don't realize how much effort is involved - even today when there are so many tools and website builders removing the need to even know HTML, CSS, Javascript etc. It still takes dedication to set aside time to just add new content, especially when also working and leading a busy life. So I'm somewhat proud that I've managed to do this for what will be 15 years as of next year. I've been 'blogging' before 'blogging' was even a word.

All those years ago I built this site from scratch using the now ancient Frontpage editor. I figured it's probably time to upgrade to something newer. Of course Wordpress is the current darling of bloggers everywhere, but I'm still going to kick it somewhat old school and use MS Expressions instead. Yes, it's no longer supported, but it's still substantially newer than Frontpage. I also decided to update my ancient copy of Photoshop Elements and bought a newer version off eBay. Again, it's not the latest, but it's still five generations ahead of what I currently have. As such I've been spending my spare time tinkering with creating a new website which I plan on unveiling on the 15th anniversary next year.

This is the time of year where we make our vacation plans, figure out our money situation, taxes, RRSPs and so on. So we've been busy planning our next trip which is a Transatlantic cruise, now only a few months away. We're going with some friends of ours and this will be our first time travelling with them. Hopefully we're still friends afterwards as we'll be stuck together for six straight days at sea. I'm kidding - they're a lot of fun as are we so I know it'll be a great time. As we didn't go on any cruises last year it'll be a welcome return to the ocean waves.

I've now been on hold for an hour...

That vacation can't come soon enough!


Jan 7

Well shit.

Not the best start to the year. The 2nd day into our Vegas trip I started to not feel well. I'd get short of breath, felt like someone was sitting on my chest, break out in sweats etc. Part of me thought it was from all the bloody smoke in the Casino which we had been spending probably the most time in of any of our Vegas trips. So I figured it was just allergies and soldiered on.

Around dinner time on New Years Eve I started to feel a bit better and was able to enjoy the festivities, but by the time I got home I felt like death. It was bad enough that I agreed to go to the doctor - of course this was on the holiday Monday so it took half a day after calling Healthlink for them to get me a location to go to. Once there they were useless but agreed with me that I should get a chest X-ray. Of course, that had to wait until the next day because all the diagnostic clinics were closed. What was going on was that whenever I would lie down I would find it hard to breath, to the point where I had to focus on my breathing to get enough air in and out. And all I could hear was my lungs gurgling every time I exhaled. Needless to say that prevented me from sleeping. So over the course of three days I got maybe six hours sleep total.

Eventually I got the call back from the doctor after they reviewed my X-rays and was told I had pneumonia. Great. So I went in and they wrote me a prescription for some antibiotics (Levofloxacin) which I grabbed from the pharmacy. Once home I popped a pill and figured I was on my way to recovery. A couple hours later I got this wave of numbness and tingling that shot from my fingers all the way up my arms and into my neck. My arms felt weak as hell and I could barely lift them. But it was late at night and I went to bed to try and sleep. The next morning I was still messed up so I looked at the literature that came with the prescription.

WARNING

Quinolone antibiotics (including levoflacin) may cause serious and possibly permanent tendon damage, nerve problems in the arms and legs (peripheral neuropathy), and nervous system problems.

I then went online and found horror story after horror story, class action lawsuits etc. etc. of people whose lives have been ruined by this class of drug even after a couple doses. So now I'm freaking out and called the doctor back, went back (now my 4th trip to the doctor), and actually had to argue with her that a bad reaction to the drug had occurred. Her response was to flat out deny it but she humored me by writing a prescription for a regular antibiotic (Teva-Clarithromycin). Two days after that my arm (thankfully just the one at this point) was still weak and numb. I simply cannot believe a doctor would prescribe this drug when safer alternatives exist. This class of drugs should only be used when someone is in hospital and their lives in jeopardy. Giving it to me was the equivalent of hammering a nail with a nuke.

Please, please, please - if you are ever prescribed antibiotics in the future, make sure you find out what they are prescribing and why.

Anyway, as I type this everything seems to have gone back to normal, I'm now getting adequate sleep, and feeling not to bad. Although I still tire out pretty quick. Of course as I'm getting better Chris is getting sicker. She started getting 'something' a few days ago and it's gotten progressively worse. She's at the doctors right now and just informed me that she has Bronchitis.

Again, great frickin start to the year.

But on to other things...despite everything we still had a great time in Vegas. It was our first time staying at Aria and we really liked it. The location was great with access to the tram which would take you between Monte Carlo and the Bellagio and it was directly connected to The Cosmopolitan and not far from New York, New York. As mentioned earlier we spent alot of time playing the slots. I was looking forward to playing the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory game I loved so much the last time we were there but it was gone. They had three other variants of it, but they weren't the same. I did however finally find it next door at the Cosmo. In the end I would guess we maybe broke even? It was hard to tell as it was all a blur. Some times we'd win four or five hundred bucks on a game. Other times we'd blow through a hundred in under a minute.

We had New Years Eve dinner at a Tapas restaurant in Aria and it was really yummy. We both had this fancy ass mushroom soup with real truffles and it was heavenly. After that we went outside to party on the strip. We had heard that they shut down the strip to traffic, so we knew what to expect. But it was surreal to actually experience it. There was a place across the street where the music was pumping so we wandered over there. Essentially it was the opposite strip equivalent to Carnival Court where we've had so much fun in the past. So we grabbed a table, loaded up on squishy drinks, and hung out listening to the music and waiting for midnight.

The table next to us was well on their way when we arrived. I noticed that in addition to the squishy drinks they also had a 26'er of booze that they were downing. Buddy would leave the table every few minutes and stagger past us bumping into us almost each time. I thought to myself 'this isn't going to end well'. Sure enough not long before midnight we look over and chicky is puking her guts out. Gross, but whatever, moving on right? Nope. Because at that point she went unconscious and collapsed on the ground. Her underage lover and her girlfriend were trying to hold her up, but she was, let's say, rather a large woman and they didn't have the strength to do so. As they were trying her dress was up around her head, and her fat was spilling out (luckily she was wearing underwear). At this point it was a big enough of a commotion that security had come over (obviously security was super tight all along the strip) and they were trying to get her up. But then buddy had come back and was freaking out and got violent. At this point more guards came in and pushed our table out of the way to subdue him (Chris and I were just drinking our drinks and casually watching the whole shit show unfold). But buddy was amped and four guards were trying to control him - and then he went to reach for something and the entire place went apeshit with them slamming him to the ground and yelling for more help - at which point I was like, um, we should get out of here. We wandered out onto the strip as we didn't want to ring in the new year in the midst of all that drama.

The countdown clock started on all the hotel billboards and the entire crowd did the countdown and at midnight fireworks were going off from various hotels. It was pretty cool. I'd say outside of being in Times Square that was the next best place to be in all of North America.

Here's some pix of our Vegas shenanigans:

Let's get this party started!

I've been a naughty, naughty boy...

Cool Dodge Challenger limo

View from our room at Aria

Chris hams it up

Sunk alot of money into this game

Real men play Miss Kitty

Tapas place where we had New Years Eve dinner

Yummy, yummy Shrimp!

Best. Mushroom. Soup. Ever.

Conservatory at the Bellagio

Polar bear selfie!

Can you guess the theme?

Waiting for the festivities to start

Place we found to hang out until midnight

Crowd was estimated at 330,000

New Years Eve selfie!

Happy New Years everyone!

Hopefully we'll both be healthy soon and can move on with what will hopefully be a great year.