Sweet, Sweet Vacay - May 1, 2022
Jamaica

Ya mon! We be jammin to sweet reggae and drinking the rum punch Mon!

After the Covid shit show our first vacation in over two years. We picked Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica as it had been awhile since we’ve done an all inclusive and obviously we like Jamaica. But what really sealed the deal was our being able to get a direct flight and the recent dropping of all Covid requirements.

I was paranoid we’d spend all this money and then not being able to go because one of us tested positive the day before we were supposed to leave. Yes we had Covid insurance, but again, I’m always skeptical of insurance companies actually paying out - they always seem to have so many loopholes in their policies. In any case we’re here! The flight wasn’t bad, we managed to get business class on WestJet points and the flight was 6 hours.

Having been here a few days we’re already on island time and I have to stop and think to remember what day it is. I think today is Tuesday…
The resort is nice - but I (so far) prefer the one in Ocho Rios better. A lot of that is due to the fancy room we had both times we stayed there coupled just with a lot of good memories. The resort there is also much larger, with it essentially being two resorts next to each other. That said, it is nice to be able to get everywhere in just a 5 min or so walk.

But, they also have the private over the water bungalow suites here off the smaller island and so we’ve been able to see them up close - and now I really want to stay in one the next time we come here.

I wanted to start on this write up earlier as I’m sure I’ve already forgotten some stuff. But today was really the first day I’ve had an opportunity (Chris is napping right now).

After we left the airport we were shuttled to the resort in a fancy BMW car - which would have been more impressive had the resort not literally been a 10 min drive away. We checked in at the front desk, got escorted to the fancy ‘Club Sandals’ waiting room and after a few minutes our Butler showed up and introduced herself (you get two Butlers and they rotate their hours) and took us for a quick tour of the resort before taking us to our room.

Our room is ok. We have a little balcony outside and we’re steps away from both a pool and the beach. The room is a bit run down though. After ogling some of the other rooms as we passed them by, we’re guessing this wing of the resort might be the last one scheduled to get updated. One of the room types that was interesting has a large balcony, nicely sheltered (deep overhang) with a huge soaker tub. For privacy there’s curtains you can draw closed. The idea being you can hang outside as really a natural extension of your room. We’re located at the end of the resort which we like as it’s a lot quieter and mellow over here. But again, if you want to go where the action is it’s only a short walk away.

After dropping our stuff of in the room we went to the English pub which I thought would be a neat place but was actually quite a disappointment. It looked the part of an English pub (other than the beer being bottled or canned) but the food looked crappy. Not that we got to taste because after waiting forever I said screw it and we got up and left. We found a place next to it that was open called Spices and it was really good (we’ve eaten there a few times). I think after that we just called it a night as we were pretty tired.

The next day we wandered around and Chris decided she wanted to hang out at the pool bar. So we bellied up and ended up spending the entire afternoon there. We met the couple who sat across from us on the flight who were basically the same age as us and hit it off with them. At some point the heavens opened up and a downpour ensued. Unlike what usually happens here where it normally doesn’t last long it just didn’t stop. So while everyone else scurried away to cover we had a blast getting soaked and just carried on. I think my beers were mostly rain water.

Yesterday we had a snorkel excursion booked having brought our gear with us, but it got cancelled as the ocean was to rough. We obviously were disappointed, but had noticed some people snorkeling around on the private island so we asked one of the staff about that. We found out there was a spot over there that was ok for snorkeling so we hopped on the shuttle boat to check it out. Turns out the snorkel beach there is part of the ‘clothing optional’ beach. So as we wandered along to grab a spot to gear up we got more than an eyeful.

Once we got into the water we snorkeled around to the other side of the island. There was no coral, but we did see a bunch of fish - I even saw a scorpion fish (at least I think it was) as it had those spines on it’s back that you really don’t want to step on. After we came ashore and went back to our spot we of course had to dry off and so said screw it and took everything off (Chris just went topless). When in Rome right? Chris captured the moment by taking a picture of me with my bare ass staring out into the sea - and no, I’m not posting it.

Today we have a couples massage booked and then later we’re going to go check out another Sandals resort nearby. They apparently have more bars there than we do lol.

Ug. Sunburnt. We are those stupid tourists wandering about all lobster red. It was only recently that I was quite pleased with myself for not getting burned so far. This despite doing everything right. We lathered up the sun block before going out, reapplied a few hours later, wore our hats, spent quite a bit of time in the shade etc. all for naught. And is typical in these places, nary a bottle of Aloe to be found - and like idiots we forgot to bring some.

So what caused our sizzling? Just spending the afternoon in the main pool and swim-up bar. We met a nice couple from Texas and whooped it up with them. Later we went for dinner at the Indian restaurant which was really yummy. When we got back to our room it was all decorated as we told them we were celebrating our anniversary. So that was pretty cool.

I forgot to mention, on one of the nights we popped over to the sister resort - Sandals Montego Bay. It’s literally right at the airport, you can watch the planes taxi and land right behind the Sandals entrance sign. We had heard through the grapevine it wasn’t as good an option but I was someone stunned by how new and modern everything was - a huge contrast to our resort.

We wandered around a bit and found the Latitudes Bar which our butler had recommended we check out. It was pretty nice. Out over the water with mesh areas like you get on a Catamaran you could lounge on with the ocean beneath you. And with nothing to impede your view you had nothing but ocean to gaze at as you sipped your drinks. From there we hit the English pub, which we also have at our resort, but again a complete 180 in that it was really enjoyable. As a bonus ESPN had the Oilers game on so I got to watch hockey while in Jamaica (Oilers won btw).

So it was a neat resort with a much different layout (one long continuous beach) and a different vibe.

Our second last day was pretty low key as we nursed our burns and tried to stay out of the sun as much as possible. That night however we had dinner at the Thai place on the island and it was really good. Great location, with a great ambience, and fantastic food. Chris had Pad Thai which she really enjoyed while I had one of the curry soup options. Speaking of food, we really liked pretty much all the places we tried. Even the English Pub redeemed itself as we went back there again at some point and this time had a good experience. Normally we'd pick the Jerk Chicken as our favourite dish, but I think this time we'd have to go with the Jamaican patties we'd get at the beachside grill. And on our last breakfast I tried what was labelled a 'traditional Jamaican breakfast' which consisted of the local fish, plantains, and veggies and thought it was quite tasty.

On our last full day we spent some time hanging in the small little pool next to our room in the morning and then in the afternoon we went on the only excursion we had booked which was a Catamaran booze cruise to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in Montego Bay. We've never not had fun on any Catamaran trip we've booked throughout our vacationing lives and that was the case once again. Once we got on the water the Rum Punch was freely flowing. I'll digress once again here. Both Chris & I were fairly constrained in our whooping it up this trip. Other than one night where be both got a bit tipsy we were well behaved. Most nights we were in bed by 9 - just like at home. We never even got around to drinking the bottle of champagne in our room and other than a few Red Stripe beers, our fully stocked fridge and bar remained mostly untouched. Part of this could be attributed to us being older now but I also made a concious decision this time to cut back on the usual shenanigans. This trip was about us getting away for a well deserved return to normality and for me to relax. Just to simply not have a care in the world for a few days.

As for the world famous Margaritaville, the place was pretty run down and just screamed tourist trap but we were there mostly just to check it off our list. We had some mediocre food and overpriced drinks, got suckered in by the photographer to get our pictures taken (although Chris did haggle with him over the price), and were enveloped by the smell of weed wafting up from somewhere below us. On the boat ride back the party really started and us pasty White types got schooled in the art of twerking by a large contingent of Sista's on board who were very large and proud to show it off. I just enjoyed being on the open water and between all the dancing and the large waves we were rocking pretty good.

The next morning was spent packing up our stuff and waiting in the Lobby for our private ride to the airport. The airport was the usual gong show but things were moving along fairly well and before long we were in the air for our roughly 7 hour flight home. And thus concluded our first vacation in over 2 years. It was a perfect getaway. All the staff and especially our Butlers were great, the resort was great, and the food was great. So great in fact, that we booked there again in 2024 - this time in the fancy over the water suites.

Here's some pictures of our trip:

And we're off!View from our roomEntrance signOver the water bungalow suitesDid someone say squishy drinks?!?!?
Ya, what the hell, let's get nakedAll jerk, all the time!Whee! Say tourist!Shuttle boat to the private islandFrench restaurant had a nice ambiance
The love of my lifeHappy Anniversary to us!Standing next to a massive palm treeTime for a foam party!Pulling up to Margaritaville in your catamaran...
We loved spotting hummingbirdsOne love, one heart...Latitudes bar at Montego Bay resortIt's a kitty fest on our patio!We spent a few afternoons at the main pool
Shot! Shot! Shot!Could eat this for breaktfast, lunch, and dinnerWe took an almost exact same photo on our first Jamaican tripSunset over the fancy suitesThis is my artistic shot
Random Musings - Mar 10, 2022
Thinking

A few months later and still not a lot going on.

We've pretty much settled into the same routine everyday. Get up, log into work to check on things, hop on the elliptical, have breakfast, work, lunch, work, dinner. Then watch shows and go to bed. While I'm working Chris will do such exciting stuff as clean the kitchen or do laundry. For added excitement she'll pop out and get groceries. Although she has started doing a Yoga course 'online' - she watches the instructor on the TV and has setup a space in the Bonus Room to workout. Unlike me, she's lost a bunch of weight and is looking good.

The irony of course is Covid restrictions are now a thing of the past - but for the most part we're still living the same lives.

Early in February we did a one night staycation downtown and checked out a few pubs/breweries that we were thinking of booking for Chris' belated 50th birthday party now scheduled for June. Kim & Tracy joined us at one of the pubs and much drinking and late night shenanigans ensued. We also went out for dinner last weekend with Kim & Jamie and to watch our hockey teams play (they both lost). Oh, and we also went to Chuck & Tracy's a few weeks ago to celebrate their little man turning 18 - obviously he's not so little anymore. So we have had some fun outings, but for the most part nothing overly exciting. I was going to go up to Edmonton for work and in the process spend some time with my Mom but that ended up getting messed up. Hopefully I'll end up going there in the next few weeks.

We did however make final payment on our Jamaica trip which is just over a month away. We're both super excited for that as it will be our first vacation in 2 years. I'm hoping that by the time we go the last of the Covid restrictions will be gone, but even if they're not we'll jump through whatever hoops are required to get away for some fun in the sun.

I guess the biggest change recently is we finally got a new fridge. We had ordered it back in September or early October and of course with the global 'nothing is working anymore' state of things it wasn't until November that they called us and told us they had just received a small shipment of the model we purchased. As that was during our year-end strapped for cash period we generously offered to wait and let other people ahead of us on the waiting list get theirs first. Then we got another call last month saying some more had come in and so we arranged for it to get delivered.

Sadly we didn't get the counter depth model as it would have been a step down in terms of capacity from our old fridge and instead got the standard size (which is huge). I knew it'd stick out quite a bit and it bothered me for awhile, but now I'm mostly used to it. As you can see from the picture it looks ok in place. The 'knock on the glass to light it up' feature is really just a gimmick, but the door within the door is actually a useful improvement. You stick all your drinks and condiments and anything else you regularly end up grabbing from the fridge on any given day in the outside compartment. The point being you open just that door and it keeps all the cool air from escaping - so in the end saves quite a bit on energy. We were also super excited for the 'craft ice' feature which makes round ice cubes. So ya, our fridge actually has two separate ice makers. It's also been really nice being able to drink water from the fridge dispenser again vs. using the kitchen sink.

LRFVS3006S
New Refrigerator

Mentally I'm in a pretty good state right now. I shouldn't be what with the world going to shit - I mean come on! 2 years of enduring Covid and now we're looking at WWIII. It just never seems to end. And beyond that, friends and family also going through some trying times right now. But this week for whatever reason I've been in a good head space. Hey, I'm not going to complain and I'm going to try and ride this wave of happiness for as long as I can.

Oh, I almost forgot. Carlie and Jason had their baby last week which makes me a new Uncle! So that's pretty cool. Chris has been super excited and has already been shopping up a storm buying things for the little bundle of joy. So I guess my final musing is that no matter what storm clouds are on the horizon, there's always something that comes along to lift one's spirit.

Peace.

Happy New Year?? - Jan 7, 2022
Covid-19

So as we enter the 3rd year of this global pandemic shit show the inevitable finally happened. I got Covid.

It's kinda funny. With the new variant and cases predictably rising once again and with us busy with various activities - trip to Edmonton, Christmas with the family, New Years with friends - I joked that if I didn't get Covid that I must be immune and never would. We still followed all the rules and weren't reckless, but honestly I was just so tired of worrying any more. Once January hit we were going to hunker down again, but until then I was resigned that whatever happened would happen.

And so, of course, during Christmas dinner in the common room at the hotel everyone was staying at I suddenly started to not feel well. That feeling you get when you know you're starting to get sick. Instead of ignoring it or dismissing it as just being paranoid I went back and stayed the rest of the trip in our room. On the drive home Chris booked me in for a Covid test (PCR) a few days later. So when the day arrived I drove to the location had them jam the swab thing up my nose and the next day got the text saying I was infected.

It just confirmed what I already knew. Several days before I got sick our friends Alpha & Nancy got it and with them describing their symptoms I knew I also had it.

I'd describe it as a cross between a really bad cold and a mild flu. After a few days I started feeling better, and maybe a week later I'd say I was basically over it. Not something I'd want to go through again obviously, but there's a bit of a relief now that I've had it. Yes, I've been triple vaxxed, but I'm also over 50, overweight, with a heart condition. So I met all the criteria for being high risk. Knowing that, the worst part of the whole ordeal was that first night trying to fall asleep as I could feel myself getting sicker by the minute and fear of the unknown - not knowing how bad it was going to get.

Even through Chris wore a mask on the drive home and we avoided each other as much as possible she of course got sick a few days later. Sadly she's had a harder go of it, and although she's improving each day her symptoms have lasted a lot longer. She got tested a couple days ago and is just waiting on the results, but again, it's obvious she has it as well.

Based on my relatively mild symptoms I'm guessing we got the Omicron variant, but what I find strange is no one else in the family got sick. Supposedly you're the most infectious in the day or so prior to starting to feel sick and I was around everyone, with for the most part, masks not being worn. Indoors with no real ventilation. So maybe we had the Delta variant? Who knows. Also trying to figure out when I got infected, but any possible event, the people we were with didn't get sick. So it's quite likely it was just a completely random event.

Of course we had to cancel New Years which upset Chris greatly. We were really looking forward to it. All our friends together (in separate hotel rooms) again for the first time in ages.

Until I got sick we had a great time at Christmas. All the family together at the Delta lodge in Kananaskis. Sadly a lot of the outdoor activities we enjoyed last time everyone got together there were cancelled due to the extreme cold. It was essentially -30 the whole time we were there. Still, I did manage to go for a walk the one day and grab some pictures of the mountainous winter wonderland. The picture I took below was what I considered my artistic shot.

Kananaskis
Winter in Kananaskis

So it's 2022. Now what?

Although Chris says she never wants to go out again (she's still legally isolating here at home) I know that once she's better she'll change her mind. Next week this deep freeze is finally supposed to be over and I'll be looking forward to getting outside and going for my walks again. While I'm never one for resolutions, I was going to go for a dry January. Predictably that lasted about 5 days. This time of year always sucks because besides the crappy weather it's also just before I get the bulk of my income for the year and money is always tight around this time. Once my yearly windfall comes we can start planning for the year ahead, but until then we're just going through the motions.

The plan is to still go to Jamaica at the end of April although we more than likely will be cancelling the cruise we had planned for November. It goes without saying that we both really, really need a break from everything. Our neighbors just got back from visiting Washington DC, and despite some hassles getting there and back they thankfully managed to avoid the nightmare scenarios your hear on the news all the time. So that is somewhat encouraging. With us at least our flights would be direct.

That's it for now.

Year End Musings - Dec 18, 2021
End of 2021

Looks like this wretched year is finally coming to a close.

Of course Covid numbers are spiking right now and with all the lockdowns and restrictions it's beginning to feel a lot like March 2020 all over again. Remember way back when we were all asked to sacrifice for just a couple weeks to get through this? Well we're now approaching year three of this madness with no end in sight. Yesterday I got my 3rd dose of Pfizer. Initially I wasn't going to bother and wait for an Omicron specific booster which they say could be ready by April. It didn't make a lot of sense getting a booster for the existing virus - that'd be like getting last year's flu shot (which apparently is a miss in terms of the targeted strain this year). But then as more data came out and it appeared that only having two doses offered almost zero protection but a third offered 80ish percent protection I figured I'd better get it.

It's also timely as in a week we'll all be gathering together with family to celebrate Christmas. While there's a big part of me that just doesn't care about Covid anymore and wants to just live my damn life, there's also another part of me questioning the wisdom of the forthcoming get together. I guess we'll see what happens right?

Speaking of living life, last week we headed up to Edmonton partly to see my Mom and have a bit of an early Christmas with her and also because a few months ago I thought it'd be a great idea to go up for the Leafs vs. Oilers game with my bestie Jamie. We did that a couple years ago and while it was a lot of fun, predictably my team lost. But when I booked our tickets this time the Oilers were number one in the league. They were guaranteed to win right? Right?!?!? Nope. Once again they shit the bed and Jamie got to rub it in my face all night. Still it was a lot of fun. We stayed at the fancy JW Marriot which is connected to Rogers place which was something I've wanted to do for awhile - we stayed there last summer but I also wanted to experience being there during a game and getting the full fan experience.

Chris and I also really enjoyed spending the day with Mom. Instead of just getting her a gift card we offered to take her out shopping for some new clothes which she badly needs as she's literally shrinking and her existing clothes no longer fit properly. So off to the mall we went and she shopped up a storm trying on all kinds of clothes until she found some that she liked. Afterwards we had a really yummy dinner of Chicken, Ham, and Stuffing and opened up some presents. Thankfully the weather Gods were kind to us and the roads going up and coming back were fine. It was a great little get away for a few days.

Rogers Place
Hockey Night in Edmonton

Even though we won't be home for Christmas we did spend some time decorating - as usual I put up our balcony lights in the back and our Christmas critters in the front. This year we have a new addition to our herd in the form of a Christmas Llama which we're very excited about. We (mostly Chris) also put out our usual decorations inside and although I did manage to put up our Christmas tree, for some reason we never got around to decorating it. Unlike most years we've been really busy this month and while we talked about doing it, with the big day only a week away we've decided to skip it this year. Bah humbug??

For New Years we'd normally just head over to the neighbors to celebrate but with them having moved last year we weren't sure what we were going to do this time. In the end we signed up for a hotel concert - and even better most of our friends thought it was a great idea and are going as well. We did one of these last summer and it was a lot of fun. As a way of being able to enjoy live music with all the restrictions in place you'd get a hotel room and have a balcony which overlooked the stage where the band was playing. So you'd be able to enjoy the show from the comfort of your own room while still adhering to the prerequisite social distancing. Of course now it's Winter, so instead of the stage being outside the band plays in an atrium which all the rooms overlook. This is all assuming our Government doesn't do what British Columbia just did and cancel all New Years celebrations.

On a final note, last week marked the 10th Anniversary of my Dad's death. I knew the day was coming up and I was dreading it. However when it arrived I found myself not as upset as I expected - and of course then I felt guilty because of it. As Chris said, just because it's been 10 years doesn't mean I should feel it more than usual - Anniversaries are just an arbitrary way to mark the passage of time. It doesn't feel like that long ago... I can't remember what I had for breakfast on any given day, but I still remember the events of his passing with crystal clarity. I suspect that will always be the case. I think about him every day and I miss him terribly.

Didn't mean to end the year on a down note - but here we are.

Anyways, here's wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas and New Years!

Living The Dream - Oct 13, 2021
Same Shit

Been awhile since I've done an update.

That said, there's really not much to say, nothing really new, just daily tedium. But I'm here, so I'll give it a go...

Currently on 'vacation', which in reality just means I'm not logged into work 24x7 for a few days. We were supposed to go to Victoria tomorrow, but looking at the weather forecast decided to cancel as it's supposed to be pissing rain the days we'd have been there. In another time it wouldn't have mattered, but we didn't want to have to rent a car and were just going to wander around the harbour area. Yes we could take umbrella's, but it's also due to the fact that if we were to go to a restaurant we'd have to eat inside - and with Covid we wanted to be able to hang on a patio. So...in the end we're on year two of no actual vacation anywhere. We're supposed to go to Jamaica next year, but now Chris is second guessing that as they're now on the CDC's Covid High Risk list. Maybe we'll just never go anywhere again.

Of course you keep hearing in the news how much money everyone is saving by being stuck at home. Hell, we should be Millionaires by now right? Everyone else is rolling in dough now right? Right???? For some reason we're not. At best we're just not going further into debt. With the price of oil the highest since 2008 I should be raking in the money where I work - yet again, I'm not. I am spending a lot of my nights and my weekends working despite all that however. Not sure why I keep continuing to do so.

We had another useless Federal election which changed nothing except putting those of us still bothering to work on the hook for the half Billion dollar cost. Now we have a Municipal election which again, I'm sure everyone I voted for won't win. We'll get another mayor more concerned about funding ridiculous art projects than halting my ever increasing property taxes. Meanwhile - and I called this last year despite everyone else saying no, it wouldn't happen - now you can't travel anywhere or go out anywhere without proving you're vaccinated. Any while I am vaccinated and believe in this case it's a necessary evil, as with anything, once the precedent gets set there's no going back. Soon if you want to leave your house you'll also have to have had your flu shot, and this shot, and that shot. Achtung! Ver are your papers!?!? Just shut up peasant, pay your taxes, and inject this into you arm or you go to jail!

I know I'm being really negative right now, but this is really my only arena left to vent. I've been banned from all the major news website comment forums. It's as if everything is tribalized now and there's no more middle ground to be had on any given subject. And instead of actually trying to have a debate on something you get reported or flagged when someone doesn't agree with you and your comments automatically purged. I ran into this on a Covid group I was in on Facebook as well. I'd been in that group from the beginning, helped out as a part time moderator, publishing numbers when the main people couldn't do so on a given day etc. But again, lately it's devolved into where unless you say anything along the lines of 'Jason Kenney sucks' or 'Nurses are infallible' then you're instantly shit on by everyone. Again, no deviation from the Tribal beliefs allowed. So after being called an anti-vaxxer (which is ridiculous) and yelled at for posting fake news (I linked to a TSN article) I said screw it and left the group I had been in for over 20 months. The next day Facebook had their big worldwide outage.

I realized then that maybe I should take a break from them as well. In fact take a break from almost everything.

On the health front I ended up getting this twitch in my left eye which was really annoying. It would happen randomly (but routinely) throughout the day with no real rhyme or reason as to why. After a couple weeks I Googled it and predictably it seemed I was not long for this world. So I did a phone consult with my Doctor and she's sending me for bloodwork next week. That said I went to Burnaby for work for a week, and after I came home it had gone away. Which leads me to my supposition that living at the altitude I do in Calgary is not good for me. I get that it's not exactly like living in Denver, but still, at over 1000m, Calgary is the highest city in Canada. It just seems that my various ailments seem to go away or get better when I'm away somewhere at a lower altitude. Same with my Tinnitus, never an issue when I'm gone. But it's not like we're moving anytime soon. So it is what it is.

Thankfully our furball is still with us. Like us she's settled into the same daily routine. The anti-nausea meds we put her on have clearly helped. However our Salamander - Sally - has been giving me grief. Every year she goes through a phase where she buries herself underground and you don't see her for a couple months. And every year I freak out because in my mind that's a long time to go without eating. But this time was different in that she wasn't buried. I'd go to feed her and she'd move her head back and forth and refuse to eat. This went on for over two months. She's over 10 years old, so I was thinking that maybe she was just dying (although I think I read they can live up to 20 years). I didn't know what to do so finally I found an exotic pet hospital and booked an appointment. Of course a couple days later she suddenly started eating again! It's now been 3 straight days that she's eaten. So I don't know what her deal is. It's amazing how much such a tiny little creature stresses me out.

Vacay Struggles - Aug 28, 2021
Road Trip

And just like that...Summer was over.

Sadly we had to cancel our BC trip. As mentioned previously we were concerned about all the smoke from the forest fires, but in the end it was a combination of that, new Covid restrictions, and the town of Vernon being put on evacuation notice that sealed the deal. Fortunately we were able to get most of our deposits back although Chris is still struggling with the wine tour company and we lost half our Airbnb deposit.

Determined to do something no matter how trivial we ended up spending a few days in Edmonton. As a quick reminder, the BC trip was supposed to be my 50th birthday celebration - which originally was supposed to have been a luxury cruise. So while other friends and family were able to celebrate their milestones Pre-Covid and other friends and family will be able to celebrate their milestones Post-Covid, my fate was continually being forced to scale back my celebration until all we were left with was a trip to Edmonton. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

We ended up splitting our time there between two different hotels. First up was the JW Marriot which is the new fancy hotel they built as part of Rogers Place (home of the Edmonton Oilers) and the city's ongoing Ice District revitalization project. As I overheard in the lounge, it's Edmonton's only five star hotel. Overall it was pretty nice. We really enjoyed hanging in the lounge which had terrific shrimp cocktail and we liked our server who comped us said shrimp cocktail to make up for someone else getting it before us. It was also interesting hanging around downtown which I hadn't been to in years and years. The city God bless them is trying - really really trying - to turn the place into something great. But it's clearly a struggle. Not that Calgary doesn't have it's own city core issues, but I was horrified walking around witnessing completely empty malls (other than the resident homeless crowd) and shuttered business after shuttered business. The media keeps highlighting downtown Calgary's 30%? vacancy rate, but there's no way in hell Edmonton is doing any better.

On the first night Chris & I did said wandering and a bunch of pub hopping and had a good time. The second night our friends Alpha & Nancy drove up and joined us and more pub hopping ensued.

After that we downgraded our hotel to stay at the Delta on Whitemud, which while no longer five star, was also about half the cost. It's also the hotel I/we normally stay at when we go up there. The highlight of that stay was us all going to the Fringe Festival which is an annual event consisting of street performances and various plays held in the Old Strathcona district. Back when I used to live there I remember going a few times and enjoying the experience. This year was a tentative return for the event after being forced to cancel last year due to Covid and it was a decidedly downscaled version this time. We watched some of the free shows at the main area, had lunch on a nice rooftop patio place, and then went and saw a Burlesque show which was interesting.

The day after that Alpha & Nancy went off doing their own thing and we spent the day with my Mom. Wanting to do something different with her we ended up going to the Muttart Conservatory which are the pyramids you see approaching downtown. Each pyramid holding various plants making up a different zones of the world - ie. an Arid zone, Temperate zone, Tropical zone etc. I believe I went there once as a kid as part of a school trip so it was interesting being back there again after all these years. Apparently they just did a major renovation a few years ago. While looking at plants might not sound overly exciting we all thought it was a fun trip and enjoyed it. For lunch we went to a neat Italian market place consisting of a grocery store and a cafe. I was very excited when I saw they had a wall of cheese. After that we spent some more time with Mom and helping her with a few things she needed done. We headed home the morning after while Alpha & Nancy continued on with their trip.

Here's some pictures of the fun:

Home of the Edmonton Oilers!Our fancy hotel, the JW MarriotView from our roomRelaxing at the hotel loungeFirst drink of our trip
Yum, yum, yummy!!!Ice, ice baby (District)For a five star hotel the pool underwhelmedInside the Art Gallery of AlbertaTake off eh! You hosehead!
The Hotel MacdonaldStay classy Edmonton...Hanging with Alpha & Nancy on the terrace patioEerily emtpy mallsEdmonton City Hall
The very picture of happinessScrew the diet!Edmonton's version of the Neon GraveyardEdmonton Fringe Festival Cool mural off Whyte Avenue
Wall mural to the late Chi Pig of SNFUWaiting for our Burlesque show to start Emtpy beer tentsThe Muttart ConservatoryArid Pyramid
Temperate PyramidI wouldn't eat this...Hey! There's a face there!Tropical Pyramid...and we finish with a wall of cheese!

In my last post I mentioned that our little fur baby wasn't doing well. Happily she's still with us. The vet gave us some anti-nausea pills and they seem to be working. She's keeping her food and water down now and seems to be her old self once again. So we'll just continue to take things day by day and be thankful for each day that she's still a part of our lives.

I still have a bunch of vacation time I need to use up before the end of the year. We were going to do a little staycation here next month, but ultimately decided against it for money reasons. We recently had a new doorbell/camera station installed and had some other work on our Control4 system done and the bills for that will likely be showing up soon. Also we've booked flights in October to go out to Victoria for a few days so it felt a bit excessive doing both things.

With rising case numbers once again in this never ending Covid shit show we're thinking it's likely things will lock down once more and even if it doesn't we'll probably decide to curtail the number of times we're out and about especially once Winter hits. So for now we'll continue enjoying the remaining days of good weather and hit the occasional patio and just be thankful for each other and try and be hopeful for the long promised return of normal.

Living the Dream - Aug 2, 2021
Ho Hum

Bla. Yawn. Stretch.

Not a whole lot going on, but it's been awhile so I thought I'd do an update. I had tacked on a few extra days to the beginning of the long weekend. My first vacation of note this year. Of course, life being what it is these days, it's not like I had anything planned, or anywhere fun to travel to. I did manage to nap a lot and we did take the bottles in to the bottle depot. So that's something I guess.

Actually the past couple days have been fairly good. Today was nice and relaxing and we had a visit with Kim & Hailey (and ate yummy waffles) and later Chris & I will probably watch a movie. Yesterday Chris & I hung out in the back yard for a good chunk of the day, drank Tequila and just enjoyed each other's company in the 30+ weather. Lately it feels like it's really just the two of us against the world.

Besides the general malaise I was feeling earlier in my 'vacation' we also were dealing with a downturn in our fur baby's health. We've known for awhile now that JC was suffering kidney failure. Considering the fact that she's over 21, her even being alive right now is amazing. But we recently took her to the vet for a checkup and sadly her kidney disease has progressed to Stage 4 - which means she's really on borrowed time now. And for awhile she really wasn't doing well - to the point where we were debating whether this was 'it' or not. We stopped giving her the special kidney care diet the vet suggested we put her on as her stomach is so sensitive to changing her food that it was making her sick. We also started giving her anti-nausea pills to try and keep her from throwing up what she was eating and drinking. She seems to be doing better than past few days. So we'll see what happens.

Of course this is weighing on us as we discuss our upcoming vacation to Wine Country in the BC interior. This would be our first real getaway since 2019. But if it's not our cat's health, it's all the smoke from the forest fires, or Covid concerns, or <insert disaster here> we have to worry about. Our window for figuring out if we'll go or not is quickly closing.

Thankfully work-wise things have been going well. No disasters and steady progress on a number of improvements and upgrades I've been working on. I went up to Edmonton recently to swap out some equipment and Chris came with me. We were able to see my Mom for the first time this year which was nice. While there she informed us that she can't handle taking care of the house anymore and wants to downsize. While I'm happy she's finally come to that conclusion, I do wish she would have realized that a few years ago when I first suggested it to her. So if anyone knows of a small 1200 sq ft. size house with no stairs, detached, with a garage and that's affordable feel free to let us know.

Other than that we've just been trying to enjoy what has turned into the 'Summer without Rain' - at least so far. We did visit a new pub that opened up nearby and had fun with friends and neighbours. Kim & Jamie joined us and the Pajacks (neighbours) there for dinner and drinks and later we ended back here and hung out in the Pergola. Later on Alpha & Nancy showed up for a couple of drinks as well. Or maybe that was a separate time? I'm not sure. It all kind of blends together. I do know we had a lot of fun and it was like the old days once again.

Happy Hour!
Did someone say Happy Hour?

That's it for now. Hopefully my next post is of the fun we had on our trip with lots of pictures. Otherwise it'll likely be a sad tribute to our kit kat. Again, we'll see what happens.

Summer Heat - Jun 30, 2021
Heat Wave

Like everyone else in Western Canada, I'm just sitting here sweltering in the heat.

Actually it's not that bad inside. Upstairs is fine with the AC and the main floor and downstairs are kept cool enough with us keeping the windows closed, blinds shut in the afternoon and so on. Of course this time of year I'd normally be working from the garage with the doors open, but that's been a chore this past week with temps hitting almost 90 in there. Of course stubborn person that I am, I've still been hanging out there as much as possible.

Weather event one off or signs of things to come via global warming? Who knows. I do know that paying more in taxes likely isn't going to change the equation on a global scale...

I've actually been fairly busy the past few weeks. Last week I was in Saskatchewan doing a work trip, visiting Regina, Saskatoon, and Midale. Where you ask? Quaint little town of 500 people Southeast of Regina. For some reason we have an office out there. There's not much there other than a gas station, a Variety Store, one restaurant and an apparently abandoned Motel. They did have a main street labeled 'Main Street' which I thought was adorable however. Obviously with the pandemic I didn't fly, but drove instead. Something I wasn't really looking forward to, but it actually turned out to be not bad. All the work I had to do (replacing servers) went smoothly for a change and it was nice just being away from home for awhile. I even managed to get in some walking along the beautiful River Valley in Saskatoon.

I've got another work trip coming up where I'll be travelling to Edmonton which will be good as I'll be able to see my Mom for the first time this year, and then later in the Fall to Burnaby. I also need to start using up some of the time I've accumulated, so I should be able to have a 4-day work week the rest of the year. Time to reward myself for all my hard work!

River Valley
Saskatoon's River Valley 

This past weekend we had our first party in 18 months when we had a bunch of friends over for a wine tasting. As we're going on a wine tour in BC in August we thought we'd better practice. Everyone brought a bottle of White and Red and we all pretended to be sophisticated as we drank them. Of course still being in the pandemic we had it in our backyard and socially distanced - although the distancing seemed to get less and less the more wine we drank. It was a nice slice of normality for a change.

Both Chris & I are fully vaccinated so we're able to relax a little bit now. But I think it'll still be a long time before things feel like they're back to normal. We went to a pub recently and were going to eat on the patio but as the weather wasn't the greatest I convinced her to eat inside. Even though there was maybe one other table occupied in the entire place she still felt anxious and on edge.

Covid's not really my biggest concern anymore anyway. I'm back to dealing with my heart issues. Just over a month ago my Tinnitus came back. As a quick recap, my last meds triggered it which was hell and I stopped taking them - which ended up putting me in heart failure. So after a bunch of research I came up with a similar drug less likely to cause the same issue which I had been taking for over six months. And it was working, my heart rate was down in the low 70s after increasing the dosage a few times. So now it feels like I'm back at square one. I've reduced my dosage hoping the Tinnitus will go away and while it's not as bad as it was last time it's still annoying and stressful. The interesting thing is after being in Saskatchewan for a week when I came back it was gone. Which leads me to my other theory, that living at the altitude we do in Calgary is not good for me. I always feel better at lower altitudes, especially at sea level. And while we're not exactly like Denver aka the Mile High City, 3500 feet isn't insignificant either. But we're in our forever home, so what can you do?

Anyways, stay safe in the heat, put some water out for the critters, and if you haven't done so yet, get your second shot!

Birthday Boy - May 3, 2021
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me!

Yup, finally hit the big 5-0. An age that not that long ago I was pretty sure I'd never make it to. Thankfully I was wrong. Of course this was also my 2nd Covid birthday in a row. At first my attitude was that it wasn't a big deal, but as the day got closer I was being more and more of a grumpy bump about it. I considered it unfair that my friends before me and friends after me hitting the same milestone were or will be able to enjoy it properly. Unlike me, where I was relegated to spending the biggest milestone in one's life simply hanging in my backyard.

We went for lunch that day to one of our local pubs and obviously with the restrictions were on their patio. For us it was the first time out anywhere fun in roughly six months. It was also the first time I've had draft beer in all that time and I have to say after 2 pints I was feeling pretty good.

Later in the afternoon Kim & Hailey and Jamie & Kim showed up to celebrate with me and we socially distanced in the pergola. Hailey had grabbed everyone dinner from a nearby restaurant so we ate that and drank and hung out. Afterwards our neighbor Lynette dropped by as well. Chris unveiled my present which was a bunch of wine with labels of our friends on it and sadly I didn't get what the gift was. I was like, um, great, a bunch of wine. Afterwards she explained that it was a trip to BC's wine country later in the summer which a bunch of friends and family had chipped in for. This was the trip we had wanted to do originally before Covid messed everything up. Hopefully restrictions won't get worse and we'll be able to actually make it happen.

50th Birthday
50 Is The New 30 

Then Chris told me to wait as she had to do something in the garage - so I knew something else was about to happen. When she was ready I went to the garage and got to watch a video yet more friends and family had made for me. Of course like with last year's drive-by I got a bit misty eyed, overwhelmed at what great people I have in my life - but especially with Chris as she worked so hard to make my special day not suck.

So was it the amazing celebration I would have wanted? No. But it was still a good day and all things considered I'm ok with that. A big thank you to everyone involved!

Other than that, I guess the other event of any importance was both Chris and I finally were able to get our first vaccine shot. Sometimes having horrible life-long illnesses has it's benefits as we qualified for that phase of the rollout. I was worried that it'd be a shit show with a bunch of people lined up, but the place we went to was well organized and not that crowded and we were in and out in roughly 30 mins. The nurse asked me a bunch of questions and had me sign my life away and as she was getting ready to inject me I looked away and suddenly she said 'ok, all done.' And I was like seriously? Because I didn't even feel it. That said, later that night and for the following day my arm was pretty sore. I also felt a bit 'off' later that night, but by the next day felt fine.

We still have to wait for our 2nd shot, but I'm hoping with increasing supply we'll be able to get it sooner than the 4 months interval they told us. So I guess we're on our way to being able to start living our life again.

Now I just need to focus on dropping the weight I gained over the winter and staying busy and not letting boredom and never ending bad news wear me down. Hopefully come summer this nightmare will mostly be behind us.

Normalacy Beckons - Mar 19, 2021
Almost There!

And just like that you can sense that the end of this nightmare is in sight - for real this time.

Hopefully within a week or so Chris & I will be able to book our appointments to get vaccinated. We both fall into the 2B category due to our various health woes. So while it sucks having a chronic illness, in this case at least we're thankful for it so we can get our shot sooner and begin to live life again. Yes I know we'll still have to wear masks, follow the public health guidelines etc. but at least we won't have that paralizing stress that we're going to end up in a hospital gasping for breath. I'll be able to go for my walks and not feel like I have to cross the street when someone else is approaching. I'll be able to run into work and not have that added stress picking away at me while I try and focus on my job. And so on.

The other worry crushing my spirit to live last year was our financials woes brought on by the pandemic. As I mentioned in my last post this is the time of the year when I get the majority of my income for the year. I'm happy to say, that while not back to the levels before this all started, at least I'm not going to have the worry that we'll run out of money before the end of the year this time. So that's a huge weight off my shoulders. As we're once again not going anywhere this year everything is going to be going towards paying down debt. Another boring year ahead, but without all the added stress for our health and finances.

A week or so ago we had the neighbors over in the back yard for a socially distanced get together - the last before the one set leaves us. They sold their house last month and will be moving out shortly. So that sucks as all three houses have been here from the beginning when the neighborhood was being built. Then there's the worry about what the new ones will be like. Apparently they have two dogs - I died a little inside when I heard that. Hopefully they aren't like so many asshole dog owners around here that let their mutts yap all day long. On the flip side, they're from Edmonton, so I'm guessing Oilers fans. So that's something at least. Either way we'll know who'll we'll be living beside shortly.

Spring Bunny
Spring Is Here!

The fact that Spring is now here is also like a perfect trifecta of awesomeness to go along with vaccinations and more money. I snapped a picture of this little guy while coming back from one of my walks. Hopefully the Robins we had last year will return to the nest they made which is still there and we'll be able to resume our routine of watching them grow and develop until they make that big leap into the world. We're also looking forward to hanging out in the back yard and soaking up the sun. And I'm looking forward to afternoons working in the garage with the door open - my version of indoor/outdoor living.

Hang in there, there's better days ahead!

Brrrrr - Feb 13, 2021
Winter Cold

First update of the year.

Yes, I know, that's pretty sad considering it's mid-February. It must be because I'm so busy enjoying life right? Ah, sarcasm, my old friend. No, sadly updating the website is just one of a number of things on my 'to do' list that I just never seem to have much motivation to getting around to doing these days. You'd think with the current cold snap I'd be getting lots of stuff accomplished - well I guess I am actually updating the site with this post, so, yay! Apparently I am being productive after all!

As I'm typing this I'm listening to the Jazz station on iTunes which just cheerfully reminded me it's Mardis Gras week right now in New Orleans. While I'm enjoying the resulting music, it's also a sad reminder that 3 years ago Chris & I were cruising up the mighty Mississippi river and enjoying the parades and food and all that the Big Easy had to offer. That seems like a lifetime ago now. Getting on a ship with 3000 other people, not having to wear a mask, not having to worry that chatting with someone might end up killing you, being able to actually enjoy life - it all seems like a cruel dream.

As with last year we aren't doing anything or going anywhere. Vacation is just a meaningless word now. If the vaccines ever actually show up in any meaningful number and we along with friends and family are able to get vaccinated, that might change the equation, but for now it looks like another year stuck in purgatory. That said, roughly a month ago Chris & I just hopped in the car on a whim for a day trip to Vulcan, Alberta. Why? Why not! Maybe I was there as a kid, but if so, I don't remember. Of course the only attraction there is the monument to Star Trek's Enterprise and the associated museum. So once we got there we jumped out of the car and played the quintessential tourists taking selfie after selfie in front of the iconic spaceship. The museum was closed, so we did a quick tour down 'main street', grabbed some grub at the drive through and headed back home. Pointless considering the travel time? Yes. But all things considered being in the 'new normal' it was a fun break for us. We've already planned a few other day trips when the weather improves. At some point this year I'll post a bunch of the resulting pictures.

Health wise we're both doing ok. I haven't been recording my heart rate as often as I used to, but when I do it's been 'ok', usually in the mid 80's. Likewise with taking my blood pressure, it's been in the normal range. As I previously posted back in October I had hit my target weight, but then the long dark days of winter and depression hit and I packed on the 'Covid 20', gaining 20lbs back. But I buckled down last month and started getting back into the routine of eating better and going on my walks. My plan is to be back at my target weight again in time for my birthday and then work on losing even more over the summer and fall. Of course winter finally hit in earnest last week, so I've been relegated to working out on the elliptical instead. At the beginning of the cold snap I bundled up and went for a walk. But not long into it I started to regret my decision as I was uncomfortably cold. I took this selfie to capture my silly decision.

Eyelash-cicles!
I Have Icicles On My Eyelashes!

This is also the time of year when I get the majority of my income and plan accordingly how we're going to spend, save, invest etc. it. Last year was a gut punch when that previously always reliable economic windfall was not to be. Hopefully this time it'll be a return to something approaching normalcy. I'll know in a few weeks anyway. Besides the typical worries and stress of the pandemic, money concerns was an added burden dragging me down. I'd rather not have that additional uncertainty this time round.

That's it for now, stay warm!

Happy Ho Ho - Dec 30, 2020
Xmas Kitty

Final update for the year...

Of course it goes without saying that 2020 was a shitshow of epic proportions. I still remember frantically searching for news on the outbreak in China in December of 2019 wondering if this was 'it'. And watching as people went about their normal lives for the first few months of the new year while I grew increasingly worried and anxious. Having heated arguments with friends who were determined to go on their vacations just before everything was shut down. Worried we were going to run out of food. Worried I wouldn't have a job. Certain that some of our friends and family wouldn't be here at the end of the year - which thankfully hasn't come to pass.

Remembering the absolute quiet in the neighborhood at the beginning. Not a car on the road, not a plane in the sky, no one outside. It was almost post-apocalyptic in feeling as case numbers started to rise and everyone shut themselves off from the world. Then came what I'd call the good times of summer as cases started to go down, the nicer weather allowing people to gather on outdoor patios and enjoy life again. And while not back to normal, you sensed it was tantalizingly close.

And then with Fall and the onset of Winter, predictably the bad times returned. The colder weather, the decreasing hours of sunlight, the rising case numbers all conspiring to crush everyone's spirits again.

Most people can't wait for this year to be over thinking the worst is behind us and next year has to be better. Personally I hope so, but part of me isn't so sure. Time will tell.

Obviously Christmas wasn't the usual celebration for our household. With it being just the two of us we had already decided we weren't going to exchange gifts - what was the point? But we still put up a tree, I put out our Christmas critters on the front lawn, and our lights on the back patio mostly for some semblance of normalcy and also to help brighten our moods. Needless to say our tree looked pretty empty, but there were a few presents there for us to open from family.

Christmas Tree
Our Sad Looking Tree

For New Years Eve we're going to order in or pick something up for dinner and help out one of our local pubs in the process. Of course we'll also be watching team Canada play in the World Juniors. Afterward we'll crack the bubbly and have a virtual party with the neighbors, and possibly another one with some of our friends. As to whether we manage to actually stay up for midnight? I guess we'll see.

So take a moment to pause and reflect. Give yourself some credit - you made it to 2021.

Cheers!

Homeward Stretch - Nov 22, 2020
So Bored

Only another week and then it's December. As the heading says, we're in the homeward stretch for the year - for the absolute worst year (almost) of my lifetime, and likely for most people's lifetimes.

With daily case counts skyrocketing, while we've always been cautious we're going back to where we were when all this started. Almost no contact with anyone else and only going out once a week for essentials. That said, I did recently get back from a work trip up North to Fort McMurray. I had planned to go awhile ago before winter hit, but for various reasons I had to push it back. So now I was faced with the choice of driving in unknown weather conditions and spending 16 hours total on the road for 2 days on site or risking Covid via flying up there.

After going back in forth in my head as to what to do I decided I was going to fly - I had a N95 mask, the flight is only 90 minutes, and hopefully I'd be able to get a seat to myself. I was encouraged by pictures my friend Jamie took on his work trip to Toronto where the plane was almost empty. But as the day to book my flight got closer I saw that almost all the seats had been sold - and I wouldn't be flying in a Jet, I'd be flying in one of those small turboprop planes (which pre-Covid I used to like, at least the Air Canada ones) which meant I'd literally be shoulder to shoulder with the person next to me. I just couldn't do it. So I ended up driving instead.

Thankfully the weather wasn't that bad - at least on the way up. Work wise things went well and I didn't encounter any problems. I had checked out of my hotel and was headed out of the city on my way home when the car (I drove Chris' vehicle) started shaking and making this knocking noise. It was almost like having a flat tire except I knew the tire was fine as when I let go of the steering wheel I wasn't being pulled to the side. I thought about just sucking it up and getting it looked at when I got to Edmonton but it was quickly getting worse - I saw the road sign just outside of the city limits which said that there was no service for 300km or something similar and figured I better not risk it, so headed back into town to try and get it looked at.

Well that was a gong show as the first few places I went to were telling me the earliest they could look at it was Friday (this was on a Wednesday). Finally after a bunch of calling around Chris found someone who said they'd look at it. Thankfully it was close to where I already was. Long story short, the dealership screwed up when they put on the winter tires a couple weeks ago. They used the wrong size lug nuts and buddy told me if I had kept driving on it the tire would have fallen off. So several hours later and several hundred dollars later it was fixed and thankfully I wasn't stranded in the Mac.

Of course by that point the weather had changed and I had to deal with a blizzard from Edmonton through Red Deer, coupled with having to drive a few hours at night which I normally refuse to do as I can't see shit at nighttime. Needless to say it turned into a very stressful trip. But thankfully its now done and for the rest of the year I intend to take it easy at work. I'm going to hold off on any major changes until next year and just focus on clean up activities, day to day support, documentation etc. We recently had our yearly summit and while things are obviously challenging right now the gist of it is they hope for a return to normalcy within a couple years. So we'll see what next year brings.

Highway 63
Long Way Home

Other than my work trip, it's been the same 'ol mind numbing, boring daily routine, day after day, week after week. The neighbors were both sick and so got tested and thankfully were negative - so that was a bit of excitement. Normally we wouldn't put Christmas stuff up until the 1st weekend of December, but with everything going on we decided to do it the weekend after Remembrance day instead. I know a number of others felt and did the same - the world needs some festive spirit right now.

Last night Chris & I popped some bubbly and put the tree up and did a bit more decorating - even though we're not doing presents this year, it's still nice to have a tree to look at. Her birthday is this week and normally we'd go to dinner and a movie or have friends over for a party, but it'll be pretty subdued this year and just be the two of us. Thanks global pandemic!

A couple days ago I asked her what we were doing today and we looked at each other and both started laughing as it was such a ridiculous question to ask. The highlight of our day is if one of us goes out to get gas or makes a breakfast sandwich run. Yet despite everything we're getting by. Although this year has been hard on relationships for numerous people we've managed to weather the storm together. While there may have been times we got a bit snippety with each other we have yet to have any full on arguments or fights. I couldn't imagine going through this with anyone else.

Stay positive!

Spooktastic? - Oct 8, 2020
Halloween

In the middle of some more mandated days off, so figured I'd do an update.

Nothing really exciting has occurred, just more of the same - merely existing until we see what next year brings. I did spent a week up North, so in some respects I guess the change of scenery was nice. I even managed to get in a fairly decent walk through a pretty natural area in Grande Prairie. That said, the trip took a lot out of me between all the driving and having to cram 7 days of work into only 5. I mentioned it on Facebook, but I also couldn't get over how it seemed like I was the only person in Grande Prairie and Fort St John who was wearing a mask. It was almost like everyone in those places figured the virus simply didn't exist north of Edmonton. Who knows, maybe they're right and the whole thing is overblown. But I wasn't going to take any chances either way.

We're going to head out to a nearby pub this afternoon for some pub grub and some bevvies. I know at this point I probably sound like a broken record, but I think this will likely be our last patio of the year. So far 'fall' has been nice and I've enjoyed going out on my morning walks, the rustling of leaves, the beautiful colours, that fall smell in the air and so on. But according to all the forecasts starting next week things won't be as nice. I'll need to do the last of my winterizing this weekend. Change the furnace filters and humidifier pads, put the hoses away, turn off the outside taps, cover up the air conditioner etc. I'll probably also spin up the Laserdisc player in the garage one last time before it gets to cold. Yes, we have a garage heater, but it's annoying watching a movie while it's kicking in every so often.

Speaking of movies, as it's now October I'm doing my annual Horror movie binge fest. This all started a few years ago on my movie geek website. Members on there will post daily what movies they either are going to watch or have already watched - the goal being to watch a horror movie every day of the month. '31 Days of Horror' if you will. Pre-pandemic I'd never get anywhere close to that as I simply didn't have the time, and even now it's the same. I give it a good try, but the best I usually end up doing is a few during the week and several on the weekends. I've also been posting on Facebook what movies I'm about to watch. I'm sure my friends could care less about some obscure entry they likely haven't even heard of before, but I still get a kick out of updating everyone.

Chris & I have discussed what we're going to do for Halloween, and unless something changes drastically in the next few weeks in regards to Covid, we're going to assume we'll still have trick or treaters coming by. So I'll do up the projector in the bonus room, we'll set up some decorations outside, and put up a table with candy in the garage doorway the kids can come and grab. I'll have some movies on the garage TV and the neighbors will likely swing by for a socially distanced bevvie or two. Of course Chris is super sad that we won't be having our annual party - but it is what it is, and all we can do is make the best of it.

In terms of my health, just yesterday I reached my target weight goal. This was the weight I was at last year in May when we needed to trim down for our helicopter flight in Hawaii (which ended getting cancelled). My plan is to lose a bit more and then try and maintain that over the winter before the weather improves again and I can resume walking every day. And likely as part of shedding the pounds, I'm also sleeping better again. So in that respect, things are good.  On the downside, I've had a resurgence of Tinnitus - although very slight at this point. So the question is, is it from the medication, or a side effect of alcohol? While I've cut back hugely over the past few months, I do enjoy the odd glass of wine especially if I'm watching a movie. And I've found that tends to aggravate it. So I need to go cold turkey for a couple weeks and see if it goes away or not. In addition, it looks like I might need to increase my dosage, as my heart rate for the past few days has crept up again. Sigh.

Covid numbers keep increasing, winter is coming, days getting shorter, money woes and so on - but overall we're doing ok.