Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Last Day in the Desert

Today is our last full day in Palm Desert.

The trip has gone by very quickly, despite the fact that we spent most of our time lounging by the pool. I think I needed the break more than I'd realized before we left. I didn't think I'd be able to spend a full week relaxing and sleeping in without getting bored. How wrong I was.

It hasn't been all late-mornings and pool-naps, though. Andrea and I went to the casino a few days ago, where I introduced her to the myriad wonders of blackjack. We both made a bit of money and generally had a good time.

I'd hoped to learn how to shoot dice, but unfortunatley craps in California is done without dice for some strange reason. I think it has something to do with licencing. Anyways, craps without dice is about the most boring thing in the world, even if you do have money riding on it.

Despite not being able to bring Cuban cigars into the country, I was able to enjoy a Cuban cigar by the pool the other day. It turns out that they still have pre-embargo Cuban tobacco, which is being rolled into cigars by the name of Pinar 3000. I was a little turned off by the name (it sounds more like a Spanish kitchen appliance than a reputable cigar brand) but I have to say, they do make good cigars.

In any case, time to get back out there. We're in San Diego for the next few days, and then I'll be back in town on the evening of July 3rd. Hope things are going well with everyone, and I look forward to seeing you again upon my return.


Monday, June 27, 2005

100 Things That Make Me Happy (Continued)

56. Family picnics.
57. Bars and restaurants where the staff remembers me by name.
58. Second chances.
59. Trashy spy novels.
60. Unexpected compliments.
61. Convertibles with unnecessary horsepower.
62. Going to bed without setting an alarm.
63. Showering after a long flight.
64. Sandwiches.
65. Girls suntanning by a pool.
66. Wings Night.
67. Last-minute invitations to go out and raise hell.
68. Comfortable silences.
69. Bouncing a champagne cork around a room.
70. A good anecdote with a strong punchline.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Some Things you Probably Didn't Know About Me

I don't eat vegetables. This started when I was still an infant. In order to get me to eat any kind of vegetable, my mother would surround meat with mushed-up vegetable. At the age of 2, I was picking out the meat and getting rid of all that other stuff that, in my mind, was inedible. To this day, I eat tomatoes only in sauces and spinach only when forced to. The other vegetables are a non-starter.

I never learned how to hold a pen properly. You know how most people use three fingers to grip it in a kind of traingle shape? I just make a fist and jam a pen in there. Despite this one "writing-related" quirck, I can touch-type with great agility.

I used to be extremely shy around girls. I didn't ask out a girl until I was in my last year of high school.

The first time I was ever materially rewarded for my writing, it was by Lonely Planet guidebooks for really embarrassing story that involved me performing *ahem* certain hygenic acts with wadded-up Indonesian currency. They gave me a guide to "Westen Europe". Western was spelled wrong.

I've read every Harry Potter book.

When I go out to the bars and have had a good amount to drink, I really enjoy having a taxi take me through a drive-thru window. I order from the back seat. I used to do this all the time with Burger King, before every one in Kingston closed down.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Nothing Doing

We haven't done a hell of a lot over the past few days.

Despite temperatures in excess of 40 C, we have been going outside. It's thrice-damned hot out there, but it's a very dry heat. So while each individual breeze feels like a blast from a hair dryer of cosmic proportions, there's none of the sopping sweatiness of Kingston heat.

There's a pool nearby. We spend a lot of time there. We swim, read, smoke cigars, and drink Heineken. Okay, the last two are just me.

I've been reading a lot of Tom Robbins lately. The book in question is called Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates. It's about a former CIA agent, and involves a lot of literary tap dancing. It's good. You should read it.

I recently realized that I lack the appropriate cables to hook up my digital camera. That means you'll have to wait until some other point in the future before you can see the photos from our little voyage.

We go to Disney Land this coming Thursday. Between now and then, we will likely visit a waterpark, gamble at a casino, dine at a nice restaurant, do a little boutique shopping, drink a lot of wine, and eat a few more steaks (and pizzas).

I haven't been badly burned by going out into the sun yet. This is a major victory, in and of itself.

There's been no luck thus far with our guest speaker for the landmine foundation benefit dinner. As much as I want this to happen, I may have to postpone it again. I hope not. I'll know more by next Tuesday.

My hit counter has been marching forward at an alarming rate. This is mainly because everyone in the free world seems to want to see the Shelby Cobra photo that I posted a few months back. Seriously, about 50% of my hits are coming from the Google image search. Also, someone got to my webpage by Googling "cardboard swordfighting". I think that's pretty cool.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


We made it to Dad's place late last night, after about fifteen hours of solid traveling. It's a good feeling to have our feet on solid ground again. The trip to Washington was a lot of fun - we had the chance to visit the Spy Museum and both the Air and Space and Natural History wings of the Smithsonian. We also spent a good bit of time with Nahem and Anna out for dinner and drinks.

The flight itself was with America West (D.C. to San Diego) and could've been a good investment deal, had our schedules been more flexible. They'd overbooked the first leg, and were offering $250 US to anyone willing to take a delay. Alas, we were on a schedule.

America West isn't a bad discount airline. They sell their meals, which I think makes good business sense, particularly when it offers more variety. I've maintained for some time that airlines get into trouble when they try and make their food too elaborate. America West served me a sandwich. And you know what? It tasted exactly like a normal sandwich.

We left our hotel room at 7:00 am Eastern and left the airport at 3:30 pm Pacific. We'd already booked a convertible, then decided to upgrade when we got to the rental place and saw the cherry red Thunderbird in the parking lot. Pictures to follow.

The drive itself was a little frustrating at the start. Convertibles are nice, but not in gridlock. But within about 40 minutes, we'd found our way to sufficiently deserted back-country roads and were on our way. It was a very enjoyable drive, and took about three and a half hours to get us from San Diego to Palm Desert.

It's hot here. Very, very hot. About 105 F, whatever that is in celsius. I think it's close to forty, and warmer in the sun. But at least it's a dry heat.

Okay, we need to go and return the rental car. More to follow later.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


I have free time again. What a novel thought.

Andrea and I are leaving on vacation first thing tomorrow. We're going to drive down to Washington D.C. and hang out for a few days, then we're off to San Diego. A short hop in a convertible later, and we're going to be in Palm Desert, where we're going to stay for the next couple of weeks.

And yes, we are going to Disney Land.

The past couple of weeks have been busy, but enjoyable. The exercise that I was on required me to work, in some cases, 16 hour days. Add to that the fact that I needed to get the cottage in shape for mom's July arrival date, and I've barely had time to think.

It's looking as though my next career-level course may be postponed. I wish I could give a good reason for this, but it appears that it's simply a matter of poor planning. All the same, I won't complain if I end up with a couple of extra weeks of vacation. I'm going to have a lot of family coming into town for July and August, and it would be good to have some time to spend with them.

We had the chance to have a quick visit with my sister Jess and her husband Peter, and their friends Megan and Chris. Jess and Megan were in the same Gender and Technology class at Carleton (Sidenote: Yes, I was puzzled at first, too.) while Chris and Peter know each other from their days at Queen's, back before Chris went on to become a famous rockstar. We drank wine, ate BBQ, and traded stories. It was a good time.

Okay, I need to go and unload all the stuff I've accumulated over the past few years in one of the empty closets that Jake and Riz have so kindly offered the use of. At some point over the next few weeks I hope to have the chance to go over everone's blogs again. I tried to keep up, but fell behind a little over a week ago. Streams of comments to follow.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

This Just In: Blogs Take Time to Update

I have about three hours of spare time each day this week. You can expect a "normal" blog post in about three or four days time.

In the mean time, a question: if you could go on a month-long vacation tomorrow, where would you go and why?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Cottage Weekend

Andrea and I just got back from the cottage about an hour ago. We were joined this weekend by JTL, Riz, Dave, and Sian, along with the best weather that I've seen out there so far this year. It was a weekend of relaxation and decadence, not necessarily in that order.

Something that strikes some folk as being slightly eccentric (if not downright odd) is the fact that I really enjoy entertaining company. Without a word of a lie, I love the cooking, cleaning, drink-serving, etc., etc., that goes along with having people out at the cottage for a weekend.

I think that I get this from my grandmother. She always used to have me and my friends over for Sunday dinner, and the outright thoroughness that she applied to a simple dinner always blew me away. Plates and plates of food would come out, and I'd have to warn friends not to eat too much, as there would be other "waves" of food to follow.

My grandmother no longer does much entertaining (although she is still capable of hoofing 3-4 km on a hot summer's day to make it to S&R and back), but she is the definitive model for how a good host should be. I don't consider myeslf to be on her level yet - mainly I have trouble preparing food so it's all ready at the same time - but I like to think of it as a tribute to my grandmother that I keep her style of entertaining alive and well.

I did, in fact, get my tube-float and cigar-smoke in on Saturday, along with a round of the always-infamous "breakfast burgers" (huge burger, fried egg, cheese, bun) and a steak dinner. That would be the decadent part.

As for the relaxation, there was a lot of sitting out in nature and generally taking it easy. This helps to counteract the eight pounds of grease that are injected directly into your arteries whenever you have a breakfast burger.

In any case, thanks to everyone who came out with us and helped to make it a fantastic weekend. For those of you who weren't there, here's hoping we get the chance to have you out there at some point in the near future.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

The past few days have been rather eventful.

I finished my contract on Wednesday, and now I return to the Man of Leisure lifestyle for a full four days before I return to work on Monday to start a new contract. This contact goes straight through until the 17th. Soon after, I depart for Washington D.C., where our flight will take us to San Diego. Andrea and I will then rent a convertible and drive to Palm Desert, where we'll begin our vacation.

I received the call yesterday. I've been booked in for a job interview in Ottawa in mid-July. After that, there's a mere three or four steps left before they might consider offering me a job. Hopefully. But it's definitely worth the wait.

We went to Aquaterra again last night. That would make 4 dinners there in around 8 weeks. The staff is starting to recognize us. That's kind of sad. But the manager bought us free drinks. That makes me happy.

There's a big crew of us going out to the cottage this weekend. The weather is supposed to be beautiful. I am going tube-floating and cigar-smoking. So it has been spoken, so it will be done.