Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A Safari Down Memory Kijia

While wandering the discount tables at Munro Books – also known as ‘the black hole of Andrea’s money’ – I spotted An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick. I was familiar with her due to the IMAX movie Born to Be Wild (which I go to see every time they bring it back to our local theatre) so I picked up the book to see if it looked worth putting on hold at the library, reading the write-up before flipping to the photos in the book.

Because everyone needs baby orangutans and elephants in their lives.

I stopped at one of the pictures, stunned by the familiarity of the bright eyes and the impish grin of the person seated next to Dame Sheldrick. I glanced at the caption and confirmed what I already knew. The caption read David Read and myself. I smiled back at the familiar face as my eyes welled with tears.

I met David during my time in Tanzania. He was the warm and friendly landlord of my friend. Deb. With a wicked sense of humour and wit, he would tell stories about his life growing up in the wilds of Kenya and Tanzania, spending his childhood hanging out with the Maasai children. He recorded his childhood in a book called Barefoot Over the Serengeti which I encourage everyone to read.

When I started toying around with the idea of returning to Tanzania, I hoped that I'd have a chance to see David again, to hear his stories and his infectious laugh. Sadly, David passed away this past July. A part of me will always regret that I didn't make more of an effort to make it back to Tanzania sooner.

Yet there was David in the pages of a book I had picked up on a whim. I could almost hear him whisper from the picture, recommending the book.

So, I bought the book.

David doesn't appear in the book until near the end, but he had been a friend of Daphne Sheldrick's husband, also named David, since they served together in WW2. Daphne is a natural storyteller and her love from Africa, her husband, and the animals they served drips from every page.

I loved every page of the book, even the ones that made me cry. Thanks for the recommendation, David.

I, sadly, never did take a picture of David because I was too busy listening to his stories.
I've borrowed this one from here.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The YouTube Rabbit Hole

While falling down the YouTube Rabbit Hole a few nights back, I recalled TG Lurgan - the Irish school that translates pop songs into Irish. (I posted about them once.) When I visited their page, I found two new songs that I've pretty much been dancing to non-stop. Somehow, being in Irish just makes them even better.

Uptown Funk

Shake It Off

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Too Early

I woke up this morning to find this on my Facebook feed.


I love Christmas - my Decembers are filled with family traditions - but November 1st is too soon.

If you need me, I'll be in the corner, rolling my eyes, and yelling at kids to get off my lawn.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Canadian Election Update

Stephen Harper is still the Prime Minster of Canada... for like, 10 more days. Then Justin Trudeau will be sworn in and become the 23rd Prime Minister.

Harper will still be called 'The Right Honourable' for the rest of his days. I throw up a little in my mouth when I say that, but them's the breaks. Even John Turner, Prime Minister for 79 days, has the right to use that title.*

Trudeau, son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau of fuddle-duddle fame, is leader of the Liberal Party and has successfully formed a majority government. It wasn't what I wanted vote-wise, but for now I'm focusing on the positives: the Conservatives are no longer in power, and while Harper will still represent his riding of Calgary-Heritage, he has stepped down as party leader.

I thought about posting an update last night except I had a few drinks because it was election night and I'm a political junkie. Instead of posting an update, I channelled my energy into singing about Harper's demise and sending What's App updates to my stepmom who is currently out of the country. These updates became less and less coherent as the night went on. I'm sure she was thrilled.

I also couldn't post earlier today because after work, I went out for dinner and a movie with a friend. What better way to celebrate Harper being booted than to watch Matt Damon being brought home? Which, coincidentally, is part of the defense I'm going to use when the cops finally find Mr. Damon tied up in my living room. But officer, the poster said "Bring Him Home" so I did!

This concludes the political interlude of my blogging.


Until the next election.

Unless Justin does something really stupid before then.

*Turner was not the shortest serving Prime Minister. That distinction is held by Charles Tupper but he died in 1915 so no one is calling him anything these days.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Poll Dancing in Canada

Today, Canadians go to the polls and elect our next government. For those of you who are not Canadian – all one of you – here’s a crash course in Canadian politics.

The Canadian Election was called on August 2nd, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper dropped the writ. I kid you not, we call elections in Canada with what sounds like an old-fashioned mic drop. He set our election date for October 19th. Canada does not have set election dates although we do have laws that govern both how short and how long the country can go without calling an election.

Canadian law also dictates that no election should be shorter than 36 days. This is a fairly new law – mid-60s, I believe – so we do have elections that have been shorter than that. Our shortest campaign period was 12 days (but this was prior to one day voting so the election wasn't actually that short). Generally, most elections since the law passed have clocked in at around 40 days and change. At 78 days, this is our longest election ever.

Canada has multiple parties and each party has a leader, even when they’re not the party in power. Canada uses a First Past the Post voting system and the party with the most seats forms the government. If they win at least 170 seats, they form a majority government and can pretty much rule as they please. If they win less than that, they form a minority government and will have to do more wheeling and dealing to get bills passed.

The other parties that won at least one seat form the opposition, with the largest of those parties being called the Official Opposition. Meh, they’re the first losers so we’ll give them a fancy title to soften the blow.

I used to follow a rule of limiting my political talk on Facebook (or any social media, really). When elections rolled around – federal, provincial, or municipal – I’d encourage people to vote and leave it at that. I’d share the occasional story that interested me but I didn’t really get into my personal politics.

That changed this time around because I hate Stephen Harper. Not dislike. HATE.

And I want everyone to know it.

I want them to know that in 8 years, we have not had a balanced budget and despite all the Conservatives claims to the opposite, our 2015 budget also won't be balanced.

I want them to know that Canada is the only G7 country currently in a recession. Even though Harper continues to claim that it's a global recession, it is not.

I want them to know that under Bill C-51 being arrested at a peaceful protest could be deemed a terrorist act by the government. The language is vague on purpose because that's the way the Harper government wants it.

I want them to know that under Bill C-24, if convicted of terrorism or other serious specific serious crimes, Canadian immigrants who have received Canadian citizenship or people born in Canada who are eligible for dual citizenship can be stripped of their citizenship. 

I want them to know that Harper claims his government's attempts to outlaw the niqab at a citizenship ceremonies is about the rights of women but this same government says that the 1200 indigenous women that have have gone missing or have been murdered since 1980 are not worth an inquiry. 

I could go on and on, but mostly I want them to know that this man and his government do not represent the Canada I want to live in.*

Because I don't want to end this post on a downer, here's a clip of John Oliver's Last Week Tonight:

Here’s hoping that tomorrow, Canada wakes up to a government that looks much different than our current one.

*All these facts can be found in an easy Google search. Sorry, too lazy to do it myself right now. There are election results to watch!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Switching It Up

My beloved trainer of gym days past is officially out of commission until, well, we don’t know. Best estimate: Christmas. Worst estimate: forever. I liked her and am sad that I won’t be returning to her even if she does return soon-ish just because three months with someone else, yada, yada, yada.

After the last attempt to switch trainers, I was a wee bit apprehensive about who I was going to be set up with this time. The fall down the stairs just before the wedding kept me out of the gym for the first two weeks of the month but I wasn’t exactly chasing down the gym manager to get a replacement once I was back.

I had nothing to fear as I really like this trainer. She’s from Brazil and has only been in Canada for four months. Her English is fantastic but she’s never had to be a personal trainer in English so she mimes a lot of movements or things I’m doing wrong. I purposely guess them wrong to make her laugh. I’ve ensured that she will never be on my team for Pictionary.

It’s good to be back into a rhythm with going to the gym. I really tried to get there on my own while I was between trainers but if I could do it on my own, I wouldn’t need a trainer. It is so easy to just say ‘fuck it’ when the alarm goes off at 5:30 and there’s no one waiting for you at the gym.

Pretty much anytime my alarm goes off, really.

I also started overusing the GoodLife Fitness hashtag #makeithappen on Instagram. To be honest, I use it mostly to complain about how early I work out. I voluntarily chose ass o'clock in the morning for my training times but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I'm off work this coming week so my trainer has happily agreed to have slightly later starts to the day. No point is getting up at 5:30 when you don't have work to go to!

And if anyone cares, Eccleston is my favourite Doctor. Forever and always.

I should rewatch the first series of New Who...

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Social Weekends

Last time I wrote, I was counting down the hours until I left for a camping and wedding weekend on the Cowichan River. The location was beautiful, the group campsite was beautifully set up, and it pissed with rain the entire time.

The roof of my tent and a very wet fly on the first morning.

Okay, maybe not the entire time, but a good 80% of the time.

To give you an idea of how much it rained, we received more rain in 4 days than we did in the 4 months proceeding them. The Lower Mainland more than doubled the amount. Along with all this rain? A wind storm. In a year of recording breaking heat, drought conditions, and double the amount of forest fires, my friend picked the one weekend the weather was shite.

We needed to warm up during the ceremony so we made coffee.
This was encouraged by the wedding couple.

At least the Friday we arrived was sunny and hot. Some of the party even got in some swimming. I did not because that morning I tried to break some cement stairs with my back. FYI: the stairs won. It made for a slightly painful weekend with limited movement but I wasn't missing the wedding!

Down at the river.

To top off the rain and the wind, on the day of the wedding, the Malahat was closed due to an accident which left those who hadn't come up on the Friday scrambling to make it up. If you don't know Vancouver Island, the quickest way 'up Island' - to go north - is over the Malahat. There is also a ferry crossing which is a) never on time, b) always late, and c) notoriously unable to keep to schedule, or the 4 hour drive west to Port Alberni and then loop back east. People who needed to make it over the Malahat included friends, family, and the caterer. Eek!

The mantra for the weekend became "this will all make a great story." And how many brides have a photo of their wedding dress hanging in a tent?

I selflessly agreed to bring the giant six man tent instead of the
cozy two man tent so it could double as the dressing room.

After the wedding weekend, I met up with my friends who were visiting from Switzerland. It was a wonderful reminder of how awful my German has become. Obviously, I need to make an extended trip back to Germany, Switzerland and/or Austria to practice and improve. On the upside, this was the view from our table.

This isn't even the 'good' view to the Olympic Mts. That was taken by a private party!

The following weekend, my younger brother and I met up at the Irish Times to watch the Liverpool vs Man Utd game. I grew up watching English Premier League soccer but no one in my immediate family had any real loyalty to a specific team. Then B returned from living in Ireland after high school (family tradition) and he was a die-hard Liverpool supporter. By default, the rest of us have kind of become converts.

Walking in, I found a solid wall of red Liverpool shirts. Apparently I had found the unofficial Liverpool supporters club in Victoria.  No matter where you go, you'll will never walk alone. It was a fun way to watch a game that didn't exactly go in our favour.

TSN! Hire me for more of this great insight!

Today, I got up at Ass O'clock to watch Ireland play Canada in the Rugby World Cup. I headed over to my dad's, fried up the healthiest version of an Irish fry you will ever see - scrambled eggs, bacon and tomato - and sat down to watch the game.

Yeah. I don't want to talk about it.

At least my dad was happy.

(I expected Ireland to win but I was hoping for a bit more a fight from Canada. If they had played in the 1st period like they did in the 2nd...)

Thursday, 27 August 2015

So Rushed I Forgot a Title!

I keep sitting down to write a post but there are so many things I want to talk about that I don't know where to start. However, if I don't post something now then it's a good week before I can get to my laptop again.

Topics to be discussed in more detail when I can:

  1. Canada called an election. I used to have a strict 'No politics' on my Facebook but I am so done with the Harper Government that I've decided to nix that policy... in a big way. I have my preferred party but I really just don't want Stephen Harper to rep my country anymore. 
  2. My friend is getting married this weekend. As an aside to that statement, I will never trust her "we should have a girls night at my place" invites again. So many paper cuts!
  3. People visiting from Switzerland!  Yay! Haven't seen them yet because of wedding prep, but I've talked to them.
  4. My pants are looser. I'd do a happy dance but they might fall off. Okay, so it's not that much of a loss (yet!) but it's a loss!
  5. I've seen some great movies and read some fantastic books and I want to talk about them all.
And because it's been on repeat in my headphones, a little Bruce Cockburn for you. This is my calming song so I've been listening to it A LOT!

Happy last weekend of August, everyone.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

A Week in the Land of Gishwhes

Gishwhes2015 is over! During the course of a week, my team flew flags on the steps of the South Carolina Courthouse, flew a paper plane made of only paper and tape 15 yards, created a new fairy because the tooth fairy was on strike, tweeted a picture of two girls kissing to Rick Santorum, made a picture of IronMan using just pepper and salt, sang ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ in an amphitheater after we used an online translator to take the lyrics through three other languages and then back into English, surprised Volunteer Victoria with free cupcakes and balloons, dance around the lawns of our legislature building in kale skirts, and many other crazy things that we would have never done otherwise.

In amongst all this, one needs to calm their mind. That’s where this video came into play.

It’s one of those videos that I always keep bookmarked so when I need a little moment of joy in my day, I can go straight to it. Not going to lie, I played it multiple times during Gishwhes. Twerking Stormtroopers; what’s not to love?

I had planned to recover from Gishwhes on the Sunday by meeting a friend for brunch and then tackling all the jobs around my apartment that hadn’t been done in a week – hey, at least I rinsed the dishes before I left them in the sink! – but somehow brunch at Floyd’s Diner turned into sangria at the Flying Otter which turned into wine on Katie’s balcony which turned into a late dinner at Spinnakers.

Well, it was a relaxing way to spend the day, I’ll give it that. Plus Katie and I were long overdue for a catch-up; we obviously needed the whole day!

In short, the entire Gishwhes experience was an absolute blast. Until next year, Gishwhes!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Customary First of the Month Post

Happy National Day to all my Swiss friends... not that any of them read here, but you know, it's the thought that counts. According to the folklore, this was the day in 1291 that the cantons of Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden swore the Rütlischwur - the Rütli Oath in English - declaring their independence from the Habsburgs and marking the start of the Swiss Confederation. 

Of course, with my love of Switzerland, I can't let this day pass without marking it in some way. Tonight, I will make rösti and sausages in Zwiebelsauce. Not to make you jealous, but it looks like this.

Well, trust me when I say that it tastes really good.

After 12 years away, I was back at UVic in early July for a course on Program Planning. I miss being a student on that campus. The whole place is just beautiful with so much green space - and a few too many bunnies - but I was a little disappointed when I went to see the old German department and it had moved. How dare they do that to me! The nerve of some people.

Save for that week at UVic, my gym attendance has been spot on. I had a little hiccup when my trainer got sick and ended up in the hospital - fyi, burst ovarian cysts suck - and they tried to pair me up with another trainer. The other trainer actually sighed on the phone with me when I confirmed that yes, I want to continue the 6:30am training sessions and no, it can't be any later because I have to get to work. She actually sighed, like I was causing her grief by being difficult. Do you know how much I pay for these sessions? I am allowed to require that you accommodate my schedule as long as I'm asking for regular gym hours. I was so angry that I texted my regular trainer and told her to hurry up and heal. Luckily, I only had a week before I was back with her.

I celebrated the end of July by getting another tattoo. This brings my grand total up to 2, but that's 2 more than my brothers who have been talking about getting tattoos for longer than I've been planning this more recent one. If I recall correctly, I first thought about this one almost a year ago. Get a move on it, guys!

The tattoo is on my right forearm and is just simple line work, although I may go back and get the harp shaded or coloured in. The writing on the bottom is my last name and my dad's county in Irish. This blog post may be the first time my mom sees this tattoo. Sorry mom!

To marks the start of the craziness that is GiSHweS 2015 (it's typed that way because of reasons). Not that anyone expects regular posts from me at this point, but really don't expect a post from me this week. I'll be to busy doing fun and crazy things.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Training for the Hoodie

When I wrote about my reasons for wanting to lose weight, I mentioned that I needed to sit down and set out a few short term goals. I failed to do that.

Instead, I signed up with a personal trainer at my gym. I instantly regretted this decision. But, like, in the best way possible?

One week into my two week trial, I had already committed to a year of thrice weekly asskicking. And to make it even better? Our sessions are at 6:30am because I’m an idiot. When asked what time I’d like my sessions to be, it may have been implied that I hate dealing with the crowds after work. From that it was inferred that I wanted a morning session and I agreed. I’m still not sure why.

Other than getting up at ass o’clock in the morning three times a week, I’ve been enjoying my sessions. I was a little reluctant when I was first matched up with my trainer because she seemed like she was going to be a cheerful, upbeat bundle of energy and I didn’t think I could handle that at 6:30 am. While she is cheerful and upbeat, she is also sarcastic and geeky. More importantly, she laughs at my jokes but doesn’t put up with my shit. I think I’m in love.

As part of the training package, we sat down to talk about my long-term goals, review where I was physically and then set a few shorter goals. My first indication that I was going to like my trainer was when we discussed what is feasible in the 15 months before I leave for Tanzania. "Our guarantee is that you will lose 50lbs in a year, but I know we can beat that. It's even possible that you could meet your final goal, I've seen people who've done it. But you know what? Those people have a single focus, and their entire lives are 100% about that goal and they don't enjoy the occasional beer on a sunny patio. Ugh. Who wants to be one of those people?"

Like I said, I think I'm in love.

One of the short-term goals that we set was to fit comfortably into a Monaghan hoodie I bought.

I had been toying with the idea of getting a Monaghan jersey for a while but made a game time decision to go with a hoodie instead for the simple reason that I have more options to wear it. It’s all about sharing the Monaghan pride as often as possible! I purposely got a few sizes smaller than I currently wear (a.k.a it was the largest size available for order) and then patiently waited for my package to arrive.

Okay, not so patiently.

When it arrived I was a little disappointed it wasn't smaller. I know. Tough life that I was actually sad about that. I can zip it up but it’s not comfortable. It’s tight and constantly rides up around the waist. So while it’s not as ‘too small’ as I had hoped, it is still too small and that’s what I wanted.

The full-body before pictures of the jacket are currently with my trainer but I’ll be sure to share the before and “hey, I can wear it fit” current pictures when the time comes. (I refuse to call them afters because they won’t be an after at that point. They’ll be durings.) In the meantime, here's a quick pictures I took myself.

Here's to it being a little less snug in three months!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

A PSA on the Irish Language

I have told the story before about my dad reading "The Tiger Who to Tea" to me when I was a young child. Except the only version we had of it was in Irish, so my dad would read it out loud and then translate it for me. Over the years, the book went missing. I tried to find a copy last time I was back in Ireland but it was out of print. 

That was pretty much the extent of any Irish my dad spoke to us as children. I knew how to say 'Merry Christmas' on the phone to my granny, and could name all 32 counties as Gaeilge (in Irish) after my cousins taught me during a trip back when I was 16. As it stands today, I know just enough Irish to sound impressive to someone who doesn't speak any Irish.

I understand why my dad didn't speak more Irish with us - it's not needed to get around Ireland and it serves pretty much zero purpose outside of Ireland - but sometimes I lament that there hadn't been more of a reason for us to learn it. (Say, for example, the English hadn't ruled Ireland and pushed the speakers to outlaying areas, making English the main language of business and trade and relegating Irish to something the uneducated country people spoke, thereby allowing Irish to continue to be the first language of the people of Ireland so then my brothers and I would have had to learn it to converse with my cousins. I'm just spit-balling ideas here.)

I lament because Irish is an endangered language. It's classified as 'definitely endangered' which is to simply state that it's not spoken by children in the home. While Irish is a compulsory course in Irish education and is a requirement to get into university, there are very few children who are actual native speakers of Irish. That is, they speak Irish before they speak English in their day-to-day life. Out of the 1.7 people classified as 'speaking Irish', less than 100,000 use it on a daily basis outside of school.

The push to revive the Irish language isn't any thing new. The Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) was founded in 1893 with the mandate to promote the Irish language both in Ireland and abroad. Over a hundred years of trying to save the language and it's still definitely endangered. Ain't that a kick in the teeth?

But it's not all doom and gloom. In November 2009, the Irish government published its 20 year plan for increasing the number of fluent and/or native Irish speakers. One of those points was to increase the number of Irish immersion schools (called Irish-medium schools in Ireland). There are now 177 Irish-medium primary schools in Ireland and parents line up to get on the waiting list. As for the number of speakers using Irish outside of school on a daily basis? It has been steadily climbing since the turn of the 21st century. Search the 'as Gaeilge' tag on any social media and you'll find a thriving community.

Why did I feel the need to post this? Because the road to hell, good intentions, all that jazz. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink, if you need another analogy. You have to engage the kids and make them want to learn. What better way to do that than to make it fun? I came across the following video on YouTube recently and laughed until I cried when I realised what they were doing. If you learned a second language in school, I'm sure the pictures will feel familiar.

Kudos to the teacher (it seems to be one teacher from the looks of it) who came up with Gaelgory as a project with his class. The are all manner of videos and even though my Irish is limited to greetings, basic information and insults, I spent a good chunk of time going down that rabbit hole. There's even a video about cooking pancakes in Irish led by a dinosaur. (I think he's Gaelgory but I'm not totally sure.)

It always makes me happy to see Irish being used outside of textbooks (although this is kind of textbook-ish) and formal situations. It gives me hope that perhaps Irish will move out of the endangered language category. Because as Pádraig Pearse once said: 

“Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam."
(A country without a language is a country without a soul.)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Getting Political

Friday, May 22nd, Ireland is holding a referendum on marriage equality. If they vote yes, it is the first time ever that a country will legalize gay marriage by popular vote.

The majority of my family on Facebook have been very vocal 'yes' people. The rest haven't said anything which I'm hoping it just a 'not getting political on FB', but my dad's one out of 11 so there are bound to be a few who disagree with the yes-ers.

I will have RTE up on my computer tomorrow to keep an eye on the results. I am hoping for a YES because I believe in marriage equality. Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not affect my (hypothetical-at-this-point) straight or traditional marriage.

Also, I want a Yes vote because the No campaign is pissing me off.

On behalf of my father who lost his dad at the age of 8, fuck you No campaign.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Setting Goals That Don't Involve Drinking

When I recommitted to living a healthier life last July I very naively thought that I'd be able to find time to commit to the gym during Project Launch Have-No-Life. Like a sweet minor niner on their first day of High School, I saw rainbows and puppies and unicorns when I envisioned the free time I'd having during the project launch.

Okay, I knew that I'd be busy but I wasn't expecting 10 hour days every day plus going in on the weekends. Could I have still found time to visit the gym during my time off? Possibly, but it would have come at the expense of sleep and eating. Seeing as those are two activities that prevent me from yelling at coworkers... not going to happen.

Me without food and sleep.

Since January, the intention to get back into it has been there, but between injuring my shoulder (reinjured it rolling over in bed. IN BED! Ugh, seriously!), unexpected work projects and the simple "I don't want to and you can't make me" attitude, gym attendance has been intermittent. (That's being polite.)

To help with the motivation, I starting thinking of why I wanted to be healthier and drop some weight. Currently, this list only exists in my head and I should probably write it down somewhere so guess what you get to read!

1. Tanzania - I am heading back to Tanzania next year and getting around there is just easier when you're smaller. Daladalas (local transport) are cramped, there are no elevators in any of the buildings, it's easier to walk in the villages because the roads make for very bumpy rides, there is no delivery when you're too tired to cook, and it can get downright stinking hot.

2. Become a member of the 501st - I first learned about the 501st Legion about 5 years ago and it's been my desire to join them since them. Yes, they're the bad guys in the Star Wars trilogy, but these storm troopers do much more good in their communities than harm. While weight-loss is not a requirement to join, the fitted parts of the costume would be a lot more comfortable without the added belly underneath. Also, by all accounts, it can be incredibly hot once you're all decked out. Like the heat in Tanzania, it easier to deal with this fact when you've got less blubber on your body.

3. Chilkoot Trail/Mt. Meru - Fuelled by my stepdad's stories of hiking it and a love for Robert Service poems, I have dreamt of doing the Chilkoot Trail since I was a young child. It is something that will be on my bucket list until the day I die, but wouldn't it be nice to cross it off before then? To recite 'the Quitter' to myself as I do?

As for Mt. Meru, it is 'my' mountain in Tanzania. I don't know if it will be next year's trip (due to time) but some day I will stand on its summit and watch the sun rise over Kilimanjaro. Not going to lie, I will probably cry.

Some day!

4. My saxophone doesn't sit right - I am a member of my High School Alumni Band - Band Geek 4 Life! - and thanks to the large rolls around my midriff, I can't put my saxophone in proper resting position. By next year's Mother's Day concert, I don't want to be dealing with this issue. (Feel free to mock me for being a member of my Alumni Band. Goodness, I mock myself enough for it.)

My only concern about these reasons is that the closest one time-wise is a year away. I plan to sit down (again) and set some monthly and end-of-year goals to help keep me on track. However, when I'm fighting myself about going to the gym, I have this list to pull out and look at for motivation.

Question: How do you keep yourself motivated on your goals, whether weight-related or other? 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

So... How's Life?

Hello Blogger, my old friend,
I've come to write on you again...

Well, March is done and I wrote on here a grand total of... once! And that was mostly videos. It really doesn't take a lot of thought to compile a few videos. (I'll be honest, it did take a couple of tears on that one because memories. Or as the kids say these days ALL THE FEELS!)

Part of the great disappearing act was because I have a fancy-schmancy new title at work. To celebrate, my boss gave me a project to lead... and one month to prep, write and train before launch date. 

You know, on second thought, that seems like a really shitty way to celebrate.

The roof of my apartment building was being redone. I live on the top floor so it was a month footsteps and banging noises starting at 7am every morning. I was up when it started so it really wasn't a big deal for me but it was a big deal for the kitties. When I'd get home, they'd snuggle in so tight I couldn't lift my arms. It is next to impossible to do anything when you have two stressed cats who only want you to comfort them. Every night was pretty much this:

Found on Distractify

The roofing ended last Friday and the cats have finally stopped running to their hiding spots at 6:55. This week, I might actually be able to vacuum without a toddler-style meltdown from both of them.

I'm living the dream, my friends. Living the dream!

Work has dominate my life this past year. The great thing about finding a job I want to turn into a career is that I really enjoy working. Even during stressful times, I thrive in my work life now. The hard part is that being single with two cats makes it really easy to just let work dominate. I stay late when I have to, I occasionally pop in on the weekends, I come home and read work-related articles.

I realised in March that despite having my life back after our large work project, I hadn't actually taken it back. So I set a plan for doing just that and that includes being around this place more often. Here's hoping I stick to it!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Why, Hello There!

For the past two weeks, I keep sitting down to write a blog post and then get side tracked about all the things I want to talk about. Life got busy (isn't it for everyone?) and things happened. But I'm back on track and if I wasn't heading out to a movie this evening, I'd have a full post up tonight.

However, social life is more important that blog right now. As it should be.

So, in lieu of finishing said blog post, I'm going to leave you with a song that's been rattling around my head for the last week since I (perhaps drunkenly) sung it in a pub last Friday.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Beannachtí na Fáile Pádraig!

When I was about 15 or 16, I went to my first house party not thrown by my parents or their friends (i.e. someone's parents were out of town for the weekend). I looked around before leaning over to my friend and asking "where are the musicians?"


Apparently, everyone bringing their instruments wasn't how most West Coasters remember parties growing up. Pity, really. It's a fantastic way to spend a night. I have fond memories of guitars, accordions, banjos, fiddles, even a harp, and various percussion instruments huddling around the piano and providing a good portion of the night's entertainment. (Apparently, these are called kitchen parties on the East Coast so obviously I have to find myself out that way some day.)

For St. Patrick's Day, I figured I'd post a few of my favourite Irish songs from my childhood. (This excludes songs I have previously posted here... that was challenging!)

Ronnie Drew, The Auld Triangle

Christy Moore, Black is the Colour

The Fureys, When You Were Sweet Sixteen

Paddy Reilly, Dublin Saunter

The Clancy Brothers, Mountain Dew

The Dubliners, I'm a Rover

The Dubliners, The Fields of Athenry

From the red booted me of yesteryear stomping around the wilds of Donegal, I wish you and yours a wonderful and happy St. Patrick's Day.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Live Long and Prosper

Like nerds everywhere, I was greatly saddened when I heard about the passing of Leonard Nimoy yesterday. While I didn't watch the entire Star Trek TOS until I was in my 20s, I was obsessed with The Next Generation since I first saw it when I was 10. So when I heard the news, I knew that I was spending Friday night on my couch with a six pack and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

My first Star Trek movie had been Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home so when I finally saw The Wrath of Khan all those years ago, I didn't cry when Spock died. I knew that it was followed by Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (which overall is not a great movie but it does give us Christopher Lloyd swanning around in a cape and Klingon head gear so I give it a pass for that) and that Spock would be okay enough to swim with whales by movie 4.

But I cried last night. I cried a lot.

Mr. Nimoy, thank you for being a part of Star Trek and by extension, a part of the lives of Trekkies every where.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Socialising Like a Normal Person

I have been writing a lot lately. However, as none of it has been blog related, you'd never know it based on what's been happening here! I have also finally been enjoying a social life since the craziness of the work project and Christmas have finally settled down. It's been really nice to remember that I have friends. Like actual don't-just-live-in-my-text-messages-or-Facebook friends.

It's been nice to remember there is a world beyond my apartment, my office and the walk between the two. Walks to Government House, nights out at pubs, lunches with friends, movie nights that are actually planned in advance, coffees dates, and walks along Dallas Rd, Oh my goodness, I have a life!! I even went out for Valentine's Day!!

I went out with another single friend to watch overly hairy men tromp around on an oversized screen, but whatever. I went out for Valentine's Day!

So random catch up post.

1. In amongst all this socialising, there's been a lot of TV watching. I have two recommendations that I want to share with everyone.


Agent Carter

(Also, follow Hayley Atwell on all the social medias. I dare you not to fall in love with her. I want to be her new best friend. We'd probably need bail money. Lots of bail money.)

2. I was hoping to give a review of a pedometer I bought shortly after Christmas. Pretty much the review was going to go something like this:

But then it went missing. I knew it was somewhere it my apartment. Sure enough, it turned up! On top of my washing! After the washing had gone through the washing machine.

I'm going to get a new one because I really did love the little thing. It's not the fanciest pedometer out there but it had a built in game and the more you moved the more energy you got for the game. Really, I just a giant 8 year old; I loved the game and now I'm going to pout about my destroyed pedometer.

3. I got the nicest complement from a friend at work. Nice... and wildly in appropriate. She works in HR. I love my office.

4. I went to a Tragically Hip concert on February 4th. The Hip is one of those bands that I have loved since I first discovered there were radio stations other than CBC. It was a fantastic night and my crush on Johnny Fay (the drummer) is still going strong after 25 years. My only disappointment is that they didn't play Music at Work. You know what that means...

However, every other song on my "I hope they play this" list was played. YAY!

5. Lonely Planet has a new Tanzania edition coming out June 2015. I know at least one person who reads here who might be interested to know that.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Year Ahead, Part Two

During my Christmas shopping, I came across a 50th anniversary box set of James Bond with all 26 movies. Regularly priced at $270, it was on sale for $150. As a fan of James Bond since I saw "For Your Eyes Only" when I was 8, how could I pass that up?

When I got home, I ripped open the packaging and flipped through the beautiful pictures. So pretty! I pulled out "Dr. No" only to realise that I had bought Blu-Ray. I don't have a Blu-Ray player.

While that's an easy and inexpensive problem to solve,  it seemed a little ridiculous to set up a Blu-Ray for my laptop monitor. I decided to forego cable 5 years ago this month, so when my 8 year old K-mart Special crapped out six months after that then I didn't both replacing it. Everything came in through my laptop anyway. Flash forward to 26 Blu-Ray James Bond movies and an aging laptop... it was time to get a new TV.

After a few weeks of doing my homework of the best bang for my buck - my friend who knows TVs gave me three recommendations - I bought a new TV this past weekend. The first thing I did was watch Skyfall and I love this new piece of technology more than I should probably admit. If we're Facebook friends or you follow me on Instagram, none of this is news to you because I was so ridiculously happy with my TV that I had to share it with the world.

But it's not just the new TV that has me excited. While contemplating the purchase, I started thinking about how much I miss cable. Specifically, I miss sports. I miss hockey games on in the background while I cook dinner and I miss soccer games on while I recover from a hangover. The reality is that there are only so many times you can go out to watch a game. I'm getting sports again! With my little brother now living in my neighbourhood, we're already talking about having a big Irish fry up for the important Liverpool games.

As for Bond? Well, that's a series that's meant to be shared, especially the older Bond movies. I could never have had Bond nights when I just had the laptop, but I fully plan on having Bond nights now that I have a snazzy new TV.

Who would have thought that purchasing a TV - a passive form of entertainment - would mean an increase in my social life?

And in case you didn't hear the rumours of who might be replacing Daniel Craig, I'll just leave this here:

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Year Ahead, Part One

It's very rare for me to find myself looking forward to an entire year. I look forward to events within a year, but I never think "this is it. This is going to be a great year and I'm looking forward to it." Yet, despite no big event to look forward to, I am ridiculously excited about 2015 and the things I think it is going to bring my way.

One of those things is Swahili. I have spent the last two weeks not-so-patiently waiting for the book I ordered to arrive.

This order apparently moves slower than a pride of lions at rest

I went to one of my favourite local stores, Munro's, to place the order because I like to support them, but it means that I ordered during the Christmas crazies and I knew it wouldn't get here right away. So I've been waiting. And by waiting, I've been walking to the store every day on my lunch break and wandering the aisles. They have my number and will phone me when the book arrives but until then, I will continue to haunt their discount book piles.

The plan once I actually get the book in my hot little hands? Half an hour a day, aiming for a chapter a week until completion. While fluency would be lovely, my end goal is to know that I speak enough to not have to use English at the markets. My pro-tip for travelling in East Africa: the more Swahili you speak, the lower the shop/stall keepers opening price will be.

Another item I'm excited about is this little guy that I received for Christmas:

I've had a bunch of projects around my apartment that I've wanted to do for a number of years but being the proud owner of a hammer and exactly two screwdrivers (a Philips and a slotted, in case anyone cares), they've been a little beyond my ability. For Christmas, I got this sexy thing along with a 11 head screwdriver. 

Along with just being able to hang a few items that require pilot holes, I can finally take apart my great-step-grandma's (follow that family connection!) 1930s-ish Singer-sewing table and refinish it. (One of these tables.) The sewing machine still works but the varnish is peeling and snags clothes. To properly refinish it, I need to take the sewing machine out and take the table top apart. I CAN FINALLY DO THAT!

My other (main, willing to talk about right now) project is trying to refinish a 1960s chair that once belonged to my old roommate. It was left behind when she moved out despite the fact that I actually hated the chair. There are a couple of things wrong with it (actually wrong, not just a "I don't like it" wrong) and I've debated trying to fix it before. I figure this is a win-win project. If it's successful, I have a new chair. If it's unsuccessful, my parents are getting firewood for Christmas next year.

One of the other things I excited for is happening this weekend, so I'll save it for an 'after' post with pictures!