Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Poker, poker and more poker

So this week we have a Texas Hold'em Poker tournament at work (for charity). Being an occasional poker player, I registered, just to see what it would be like. On the weekend we had a few friends over and had a friendly game, which was good practice. I was still feeling a little hesitant about it, given that I had never really played according to the official Texas Hold'em rules. For example, when we play with friends, we always play that Aces are high, so a hand of A-2-3-4-5 would not be a straight. But in the official rules, it is.

So Monday afternoon rolls around, and I head to the cafeteria, where the tournament takes place. A few of my coworkers were coming with me, but when we drew our table numbers, we were all located at different tables. There were 20 tables, with pretty much 10 players each - for a total of 197 players! Imagine my surprise when I found out that one of the guys at my table was a good friend who we play poker with regularly. It made me feel better to have a friendly face at my table, as I was still a little worried about not being able to keep up with all those serious looking poker players. But then something happened. I was getting really good hands (2-pairs, A-K flushes, etc). After the first half hour, I was the person with the most chips at the table ;) When you have that many chips, it makes it easier and easier to bluff people off, and I should have taken advantage of that. But I was playing a little timidly, and in the end that cost me the game. I finished a respectable 4th at our table, but only the top 2 advanced. My friend finished first, so he advanced to the Tuesday round, where he was eliminated as well (by a hand with three 8).

So my Texas hold'em carreer at the work tournament was pretty short lived, but I am determined to learn from my mistakes and do better next year. I still have some memorization to do, as I sometimes confuse the ranking of hands, and I have to hone my bluffing skills. But overall I had a blast, and I am definitely going back in next year. Though I still can't imagine playing this for real money (not the nickel-ante we play at home).

In other news, this week marks the start of the JA Company Program in Ottawa. This is a program I have volounteered with over the last 4 years. It's a program ran for high-school students to give them some exposure to the world of business. The idea is to setup, run and take down an actual company. They have to come up with a product or service, create a production line, a marketing strategy, produce and sell the product, and hopefully come out of the whole process having generated some profit. They get exposed to the concept of break-even point, capitalization, share price, commissions etc. At the same time, they get to learn about leadership, teamwork, competition and such things. And they need some volounteers to introduce the program to them and serve as resources while they run the company. For more information about the program, you can go to the Ottawa JA page. This week we met with the students at our designated high school, and did some introductions, and next week we will be trying to settle on a product. I'll keep you posted on how that goes :)


Friday, September 22, 2006

More work critters

Ok, so things are pretty busy, and I don't have all that much to say (no time for idle musings), but I thought I could at least post a few pictures again. This time, it's little chipmunks that we see around work. A coworker fed this little one a bit of his chocolate danish... Apologies for the quality of the pictures, they were again taken with my PDA/cellphone thingy...

It's already Friday, and next week starts the busy season. I will have something going on every day of the week until February or so. Volounteer work with Junior Achievement, choir, volleyball, yoga twice a week. Surprisingly enough, I am looking forward to it all (I guess otherwise I would really be a masochist...). But it will make the weekends that much more precious :)

Ta ta,

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Musings (or is that whining?)

Ok, so this has been bothering me for a while, I think I have to get it off my chest. I religiously follow our friends' blog about the twin girls from China (see our China blog). Anyway, it's really an interesting read, and I check it often (sometimes a few times a day) to see if there are any updates.

Well, this weekend, a surprising conversation followed the hilarious entry on the blog. I have to take exception to that conversation. It's still bothering me a little (yes, I know, I have no life!).

First of all, note to self: never call anyone an idiot in your blog, it may upset some people (I blame that one on mommy-brain). Just because some people decide to make choices in life that are different than what you would choose, doesn't mean they need to be insulted for it.

Here's what I take exception to: the concept that "equality" in a marriage means the man doing everything that the wife does, or more (equally splitting all chores and duties). I am not a parent, so I understand that I am not all that qualified to comment on the roles of mothers vs fathers and all that, (even though I've spend the last week interacting with new parents, and analyzing what they do and how it works for them). But I get really annoyed with the whole premise that a full partnership must involve a full 50-50 split on all responsibilities. Just as I get annoyed when people say "cooking is a woman's job", or "a man has to make more money than his wife". To me, these are two extremes in the spectrum, neither of them very healthy. My philosophy is one of sharing responsibilities and duties according to abilities (maintaining an eye on fairness obviously). Maybe the husband who doesn't take care of poopy diapers is a hard working surgeon, who brings in lots of money so that his wife can stay at home and take care of the kids and the house (and maybe she even enjoys it-g*d forbid!). Or maybe the partnership is such that the husband takes care of the outside of the house, and the wife of the inside.

And sometimes what happens is that the roles that were defined earlier on in the relationship don't seem appropriate anymore, and that's when one of the partners may start to wonder "how can I get my partner to change xyz". Doesn't mean that the original arrangement was bad, it's just that people change. You can't always prepare for what the future holds.

Personally, for example, I love cooking. So it only makes sense that I would be the cook for our family (not because I am "the woman", but because I like to cook). DH does all the dishes, though (I wish I could say it's because he likes, but in this case it's more a case of the fairness thing). We share most of the other housework almost 50-50 I would say. It works for us, but I am sure there are plenty of couples for whom it wouldn't work at all. I know plenty of men who are excellent cooks, and plenty of women who dislike cooking for example :)

Anyway. gotta go! It was good to get this off my chest...

Back home

We made it back in one piece :) I've been procrastinating with the blog, mostly because of lack of time and opportunity. I only have a little bit of time, so I thought I'd just post a quick summary of the remainder of our trip.

The last two nights in Halifax we played cards with DH's Mom and her beau. We learned a new game called Push, and we had a lot of fun with it. We also played some cribbage, an old favourite. When Thursday rolled around, we didn't really feel like leaving. But we had to go if we wanted to get a chance to meet up with friends on the way, and make it home in time for the Opera on Saturday (wouldn't want to miss the Barber of Seville!).

And so we left Halifax on Thursday morning. Uncharacteristically, we had had good weather all week, and this was another gorgeous day. Our first stop was in Fredericton, where we met up with a high-school friend of DH's. I had never met her before, so it was nice to finally put a face to the name. We had a nice chat at Timmies, and went on our merry way. Oh, before we got to Fredericton, we stopped at Magnetic Hill in Moncton... What a big disappointment that is! I'd been warned about it, but wanted to see it for myself. Unless you have kids and you will be going to the Zoo and associated other amusements in the area, I consider it a waste of the 5$ admission fee. At least it didn't cost us all that much time, since it is right off the highway :)

Leaving Fredericton we weren't sure how far we would go. But with the low volumes of traffic and nice weather we just kept on going and going, until all of a sudden it started getting dark in a hurry. We stopped at a Mike's for supper, and ended up spending the night in the beautiful town of Kamouraska, made famous by a 1973 novel that was part of our mandatory reading material in high-school. It's a very pretty town, with apparently an abundance of picturesque sunsets, as you can see on their homepage.

Friday morning, we had a nice breakfast at the local greasy spoon, and headed out to Quebec City. That's where we met up with my friend A whose baby J is only a month old. That's her in the picture on the left. Isn't she precious? A and her husband just moved to Quebec City this summer, and they are renting a beautiful condo with breathtaking views. It was really a lot of fun to see where they live, and to meet baby J. We've only seen A once in the last 3 years, and that was at her wedding, so it was nice to have a few hours to catch up and just chat.

From QC we headed straight for Montreal, where we stayed overnight with my family. After brunch, we headed for home. We spent the rest of the weekend catching up on chores (laundry, cleanup and the dreaded yardwork), having dinner with friends, going to the Opera, you know, just the usual stuff ;) Then on Monday it was back to work...

And that's how our Halifax trip ended. In all likelihood, this will be our last trip this year, since we've already taken 4 weeks of vacation :) But certainly next year we will have some more travel adventures!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More visiting

So our stay in Halifax is coming to an end... Yesterday we spent some time on the town, and today I went back to visit with the niece and nephew. Had a chance to snap a few more adorable pictures :)

The kids were taking a bath again, so we have lots of towel-hooded shots :) The last shot that I am posting here is of our nephew doing one of his many adult impersonations, where he looks totally like a grownup stuck in a baby's body. He's so funny! He does smile a lot, but doesn't like to do it for the camera! As soon as my face disappears behind the cam, he gets this puzzled frown, wondering what's going on :) It's really funny to watch!

Anyway, that is it for the updates from Halifax. Tomorrow we're heading out, destination Fredericton and possibly beyond. Then the next day we should be able to stop in Quebec City to visit my friend with her newborn (more cute pictures!), then on to Montreal, where we will spend the night, and home on Saturday! I may not be able to update the blog until then!


Monday, September 11, 2006

Here are the pictures

So we did get to see the babies yesterday, and even scored some decent pictures. The first picture is DH with his nephew. Don't they look cute together? This morning I also dropped by to help out SIL a bit, though I'm not sure she really needed all that much help. She's very well organised, and seems to have everything under control. I guess you have to be when you are dealing with twins all day every day! I got to see both babies get a bath, and I gave both a bottle. They are so cute, though squirmy! I am amazed how interactive they are too, being only 3 months old. And they both have a great disposition. They seem to love to smile and giggle, and they don't cry or fuss for very long.

The second picture is of my nephew after a bath. It sure seems like a lot of work, taking care of little twins. They take a while to eat, so it seems like at any time there's either one of them eating, being burped or being changed (and sometimes bathed). Luckily they seem to tag team quite a bit, so when one of them is eating or being fussy or something, the other one is sleeping :) But it also means that the parent in charge gets no respite at all, they have to stay on top of things all day. On the bright side, both kids seem to be sleeping trough the night by now, so that's nice. As long as SIL can get some help during the day, they should be fine. Everyone seems to have a decent routine going on :)

The last picture is my niece after the bath. She's got an infectious smile! If you can believe it, both babies actually seem to enjoy having a bath! They're getting to be too big for the little baby tub, they will soon have to be washed in the big tub, as they tend to splash all the water out onto the floor :D

Gigglingly yours,

Got here...

OK, so I'm a little late with this posting. I just couldn't get connected to the internet until now. I've composed an entry yesterday, though, so I am posting it now. Then I'll create another post with some pictures :)

So we made it to Halifax. We managed to make it all the way from Montreal to Halifax, and in pretty good time too. We managed to cover 1300km in 12 hours of driving, plus 1.5 hours of stops, including a full hour stop for sit-down supper. We still got here before 10pm, because we left Montreal at 7am :) There was really little traffic, but the weather was pretty crappy. It rained for the first 8 hours, at times a little, and sometimes pretty hard. The AWD of the car was pretty useful in the spots where water was accumulating in the ruts and causing us to aquaplane a little :)

Overall it was a very nice drive down. I drove the whole way (yay!), so it went pretty quickly, for me anyway. Saw lots of nice sights, but we were in a hurry so I never took out the camera to take any pictures. So you will just have to take my word for it :) But thanks to the PhatBox(tm) that we got installed on Friday, we had all our music with us, which was really great. We had been really missing having all our music at the touch of the finger. We didn't even realize how much we were missing it. Sounds a little silly, but we both like our music a lot! The weather here is really nice, and we're having lots of fun. Haven't seen the babies yet, but we're hoping to drop by today.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Getting ready for our trip out East

Not even sure if I would call it a trip. It's more like a visit. We will try to get there as fast as possible, to allow us to spend as much time as possible with the family. Which to me is the opposite of a trip, where I usually take my time getting to where I am going :) And for the record, I like both trips and visits, so this differentiation is purely semantics :D I am really looking forward to seeing everyone and meeting the babies :) After all, they're my only niece and nephew (so far anyway)!

Of course being the crazy driving nut, I am also looking forward to the drive down and back. I really love driving around, especially with my DH. We can share the driving (which is really handy when you have to drive _all_ day), and we have really good conversations. I think having a forced captive audience appeals to me ;) But also having all this time on our hands, we get the chance to discuss things fully, taking every subject to the n-th level (where n is quite substantial). Leaving no leaf unturned :) I also find it very relaxing, as in a way I become the spectator, watching nature and life unfold before my eyes. We'll always spot an interesting animal on our way, or a funky car, or an interesting license plate. It's one big game of "I spy" ;)

Tonight we're only going as far as Montreal, where we will stay with my family. It means we get two hours of driving over with, we get to sleep in a place we're used to, and my Mom promised to make us sandwiches for the road! Doesn't get any better than that :) Plus my parents have high-speed, so we'll get a chance to do some surfing, and maybe even upload a few more pictures. It's painfully slow to upload the pictures at home, where we're still stuck in the 20th century with a 56K modem...


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Just another manic Wednesday

Not much to say today, so I thought I'd upload a few pictures we took a while ago with a friend's digital SLR (Rebel). The pictures were taken on the campus at work, where every spring we get to witness tons of little goslings running around. They are very very cute, but hard to get close to, as the Moms are very protective :)

This weekend we're heading to Halifax to visit DH's family. BIL and his wife are the proud parents of very cute twins, and we're going to meet them for the first time. Expect lots of cute baby pictures next week. On our way we will try to stop in Quebec City visit my friend who just had a baby as well, so that will hopefully mean more baby pictures :) Yes, I am obsessed, how can you tell?

In the meantime, though, we have lots of packing and trip prep to do. Better get going!


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Another long weekend done...

So we had another long weekend. It was a good one, though we didn't get much rest. Saturday was spent driving around getting errands done, including grocery shopping and stereo shopping for our car. We're planning on driving to Halifax next week, and we were hoping to get our PhatNoise(tm) system installed in the car before we go. But we need two different cables (unfortunately VW cables don't work with the Audi decks), and a stereo shop to install the whole thing. It's a lot of hassle, and a fair amount of money too, but hopefully we only need to do it this once and we'll keep it like that for the next 10 years. I really hope so. We're so used to this system from the time we had a Passat, it is very user friendly and invaluable for long car trips. I think we have something like 5 days worth of music stored in the cartridge :) Makes it a lot easier to drive around, especially on those long hauls. We may try to get to Halifax straight from Montreal, which is a pretty long drive, so hopefully it will help us stay awake (if we get everything installed in time). We've been procrastinating on this because it is so expensive and complicated. In the Passat we were able to do the install ourselves, so that was a lot simpler...

On Sunday, we spent the day cleaning and cooking (and cleaning again), because we had some company over for dinner. It was really nice. There were 8 adults and 1 kid (my friend princess D). We only have 6 matching chairs, so some people had to sit on mismatched furniture, but aside from that I think the evening was a success. There was enough food to feed everyone, I remembered to serve the salad at the last minute, and the tart peach/apple pie I baked went very well with the *sweet* soy ice cream that I had bought. One of our friends is vegan, so I made the whole meal vegan (no meat, no dairy products, no eggs, you get the picture). It's challenging at times to come up with a menu that's vegan, and I hate to always serve the good old reliable "pasta with tomato sauce", so this time I made a vegan meatloaf :) I basically used the TVP (textured vegetable protein) instead of ground beef in my favourite meatloaf recipe, I omitted the eggs all together and added a bit of olive oil to moisten and flavour the whole thing. It must have turned out alright, since there were no leftovers :) I served the TVP-loaf with young potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli, and a tabouleh-type salad. I also made a leek and potato soup, and the aforementioned pie for dessert :)

One of the guys brought a friend with him, which is quite unusual. You see, this bunch is basically 5 guys who have known each other since pretty much kindergarden (DH's childhood friends), 2 spouses and 1 kid. We get together fairly regularly, but it's pretty much always the same lineup ;) So it was nice to have someone new join us, with new conversation and a fresh perspective. Most of us already know her from work, so it all felt very comfortable. Of course it helps that she's very nice and easy to get along with :) And we're also happy for our friend, who's had some bad luck with women in the past. To summarize, we had a very nice evening on Sunday.

On Monday we went out for brunch with DH's dad and aunt (FIL has been staying with her over the last few days). Again, a good time was had by all. I really like aunt E, she always has great stories to tell us, and she wanted to hear all about our China trip. So we shared trip stories and anecdotes until early afternoon, at which point we went back to work to do some more cleanup. We've started working on the computer room, and believe it or not, we can now actually see the floor :) There's still mountains of papers on the desk and all horizontal surfaces ;) but I have hope that we can get through the whole thing at some point... Maybe even before Christmas :D It's definitely a good activity to do when the weather is so dreary... It rained pretty much all weekend - thanks Ernesto!

Big hugs to everyone!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Animals at work (redux)

Here's a few more shots of the groundhogs around where I work. It's really nice to have those little guys around to watch on our breaks, when the sun is out and it's still warm outside :) They're a little skittish, but if you're patient they will let you get pretty close. Especially if you come bearing gifts in the form of little apples from the apple trees in the courtyard. Again, these pictures were taken with my little PDA, so the quality is a little low, but it gives you a good idea of what our furry friends are like. It makes me appreciate working in a place where there's plenty of greenery around. In the winter we often see deer right outside our doors, and there's even been a bear spotted once!

I had big hopes for the weekend (since it's going to be a long one - yay!), hoping to get some yardwork done. Well, it turns out we're supposed to get the tail end of a hurricane, so they're predicting rain for the whole weekend. Hopefully that will give us the opportunity to do some tidying around the house. I am hoping to get the computer room to the point where we can actually put the laptop in there. We've been leaving the laptop on the dining room table, because you can barely even get in to the computer room... Sigh! An overdue cleanup that is!!

Hope you have a good weekend!