Wednesday, August 31, 2005


My mom's flight will leave in under an hour. That means that the cottage is mine, all mine.

I moved the first truckload of stuff out there the other day, but there's still about one more load to go out before I can consider myself to be fully "moved in". I didn't think that I'd moved that much into Andrea's place, but it's looking like there's a fair chunk more than I though there was. I'm not looking forward to moving the bar again - despite my best attempts to destroy it, it's still about 30 - 40 bottles strong, and growing.

Perhaps some of my dear associates will help me in whittling it down next week.

It's only fair, after all, considering how well my friends look after me. Currently, two such friends (Riz and Yonek) are abroad (Europe and Cayman Islands) and have offered to bring back fuel for my vices. Riz is bringing back a bottle of premium gin, while Yonek is bringing back Cuban cigars and a bottle of Cayman rum.

The trip to the Toronto area went well. I can't say that I did a hell of a lot. Most of my time was spent reading and playing the C.S.I. video game. It's not a very technically polished game (lots of buggy animation, with the occasional dead crash) but it's reasonably mentally challenging, and the storyline is entertaining. They used the actors from the show to do the voices, which I thought was a nice touch. It certainly helps to make up for the off-kilter computer graphics.

I had a bit of an awkward moment today. My great-aunt Mavis passed away a few days back. I didn't know her well, but my mother took her granddaughter to the hospital when she had her stroke. Anyways, my grandmother and uncle were going to the funeral this afternoon. This is mentioned earlier today, but I promptly forget about it. We're taking my mother to the airport, but we planned to have a visit with Grammy before she left. While we're there, my Uncle arrives in a shirt and tie.

And what do I say?

"Hey, Uncle Rick! Lookin' SHARP!"

To which Andrea stage whispers, "He's going to a funeral."


Friday, August 26, 2005

Dreams of Floating

That was a hell of a dinner last night. Thanks to everyone who came out for it - Andrea and I had a great time. Best of luck to Dave and Sian in Destination: Unknown.

I had my first session with my trainer today, and it went really well. It feels as though this may be a good way to build some healthy habits. I think motivation is an issue for me. That is, I tend to lost track of my work out program and eventually stop going to the gym. If nothing else, by paying for set appointments, I'm much less likely to miss them. That, and the workout that I went through feels as though it accomplished a great deal, without leaving me exhausted.

We've had some nice weather the past couple of days. Here's hoping it holds out until Labour Day. Andrea and I are going to Halifax for that weekend, but I'm planning to go out to the cottage for a few days after we get back. If I'm ambitious, I might do some sailing or some swimming. More likely, it'll be time to get in some quality floating.

I'm not sure if I've ever described the floating ritual before. Well, here goes.

For me, a proper floating occurs on a nice, hot summer afternoon. One of those days where there's almost no wind, and you can hear the cicadas humming in the trees. Just after lunch is usually a good time for it.

Then, you get yourself one of those big, black inner tubes. Some of you kids might like your air mattresses or your inflatable chairs, but I'm old school, and I like the inner tube. It's easy to move around, durable as all hell, and the black traps the heat, so you roast on both sides.

You also need a cigar. I recommend the Cuaba, preferably something in the Exclusivos or Generosos range, but a Tradionales will also do the job nicely. Also, a nice, cold beer. Heineken is usually my tube-floating beer of choice.

You then proceed to lie in the tube, and drift out into the sunshine. Preferably, somewhere surrounded by ridiculously tall trees.

You should not move for at least one hour.

And that, my friends, is the best way to spend an afternoon.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Lazy Thursday

Jake's re-cresting was yesterday, and I have to say that it went pretty damned well. There were go-karts, and really hot wings. We got in a few rounds of pool, and challenged each other with a round of chess.

Jake didn't know he was being re-crested. I'd told him that I wanted to play chess on Wednesday, and told him at the last minute that I "needed his help with something." We then proceeded to spend 20 minutes in the truck, not talking, as we went on our way to do "something." I was trying to be myserious. Jake thought I might need his help to move a fridge.

In any case, he had a pretty good idea what was going on once we got to the go-kart track.

I've enjoyed my unemployment for the past little while. I'm pretty sure that it'll get old once everyone goes back to school, and I'm spending most of my time out at the cottage. Still, I've resisted the temptation to pile more on my plate, just for the sake of being able to take some time for myself. A job offer might appear at any point over the next few weeks, so what's the point in rushing into something new?

But, with the free time I have, I would like to do something worthwhile. I think that I'm going to work at getting into better shape. I've already joined GoodLife, and have made arrangements to meet with a personal trainer. I think it'll be worth the cost - it's not cheap, but I think it'll help me break myself of some old bad habits.

Some friends are going to be leaving Kingston soon, and we're planning something of a send-off dinner for them at AquaTerra tonight. I think it'll be a lot of fun. There should be about seven of us there, which'll be the largest crowd that we've ever dined with there.

Also, I was the subject of mockery last night because I have AquaTerra programmed on my cell phone.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


The interview on Monday went well. There's a possibility, however slight, that I may receive a job offer over the next week or so. More likely, there'll be one or two more interviews left to attend sometime in early-mid September. As much as I'd like to get that position, I think the down-time will do me some good.

Foreign Affairs did, in fact, call to schedule an interview. I'm not sure when, yet - they caught me on the road, and I was unable to write anything down. I'd still go for the first position, given the chance, but it feels good to have a second option.

I've noticed that gas station attendants are a skittish lot these days. I think they're starting to get a little nervous about everyone venting their frustrations re: high gas prices at them. Jason recently mentioned anger at the pump in his blog. Has anyone else seen people lose it at the gas station?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Playa Tamarindo, Redux

So, a travel webpage by name of has decided to carry the article on Tamarindo.

You can find it here. However, it's worth noting that it's identical to the one I wrote here.

Man of Leisure

I woke early this morning for no particular reason. The clock showed 7 am, but it was after 8 before I finally stumbled downstairs to read a book and perhaps catch up on some e-mail.

It's looking as though there may be a month or more tacked onto the tail end of the application process. I'm not really complaining - I knew it could take this long (or longer) when I first applied, but had hoped that I'd be able to wrap things up just a few days ago. Alas, no such luck.

About three weeks have gone by since my application to Foreign Affairs was bounced along to the next stage. It has, apparently, been "referred to the department" who will contact me if interested. Still no word. I'm not as keen on the whole Foreign Affairs scene as I was a few years ago, but it would've still served as a very useful backup plan.

I guess I'm just used to having a plan B, and it's a little unnerving to think that my current Plan B won't kick in for close to a year, should my current efforts fail to bear fruit.

I'm fortunate, in many ways, to have the time and opportunity to select a job that is meaningful, rewarding, and financially viable. I know there are a lot of people out there without that opportunity.

That said, I'm ready for a measure of stability in my life. I spent last year living out of an overnight bag, splitting my time at three different residences. It was a choice I made, and I'm glad I made it.

But it would be nice to have my own place, with my own furniture. I would like to be able to select personal hygiene products based on their quality, rather than how well they're going to fit in my toiletries bag.

As for that extra month, I think I'm going to have another look at my writing. After some measure of progress with Geriatica, I basically dropped the project altogether. Perhaps it's time to have another look at it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

... and, back.

Ottawa was good. Turns out that I'll need to do at least one more round of interviews after this, and then we'll see what happens.

This afternoon was spent watching a DVD on the history of the Shelby Cobra. Excellent film, which covers the Cobra from its inception to the Cobra victory over Ferrari at Le Mans. As I know I get a lot of hits to the site based on my Cobra picture, I'll post the link to the publisher here. The DVD is called the "Cobra-Ferrari Wars" and is well worth the price.

I'm not feeling too well. I think I've come down with some kind of a cold. The long and short of it is that my nose feels like it weighs about eight pounds, and reading a book is about as active as I'm going to get for the next day or so. Andrea's got me reading some Robert Jordan fantasy-type fiction, and I'mreally hooked. The downside is that there's about twelve books to the series, so I may be spending a lot of time reading over the next little while.

Monday, August 15, 2005

And the mystery destination was...

New York City!

I have to hand it to Andrea. She had me guessing right until we took the exit off the 401 for the bridge to the USA. At that point, I still didn't know where we were going, so I had to lie to the custom's guard that we were going to Watertown for the weekend to go shopping.

I didn't know (for sure, that is) until we turned off the I-81 somewhere in Pennsylvania to go to New Jersey. Me being the expert Theatreographer that I am, I knew that The Producers was unlikely to be playing in New Jersey, but thought it might be reasonable to head to New York.

And, New York it was.

The hotel was gorgeous, and right in the middle of the threatre district. We checked in, and headed next door to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. We were just stepping inside, when my good friend Dan and his girlfriend, Chrissy, caught up with us. I had no idea they were going to meet us there. Once I'd found out that we were going to New York, that was the one thing I was sad about - that I wouldn't be able to have a visit with Dan, after all the times that we'd tried to put together a weekend visit to the city and had it not come together.

The rest of the weekend was a blur, but a lot of fun. We ate lunch at a classic New York deli where the sandwiches are the size of a regulation football. We wandered through Times Square. I had a cigar in Central Park. We saw the Broadway production of The Producers. We slept in. We ate out. We went bar hopping.

Good times.

Okay, I need to head to Ottawa. Interviews begin tomorrow. Here's hoping things go well.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ryan on Fashion: The Tumor Bangs

In the past, I've pointed out fashion trends that bother me. In that vein, I'd like to introduce tumor bangs.

Tumor bangs are defined as the retro-vintage hairstyle that involves really, really poofy bangs out front that make girls look like they're hiding an oversized tumor. They're brought to you by the same people who invented mixed blond-brown hair, and those damned fur-lined boots that teenaged girls wore in winter (and spring). I think I actually saw a set of the damned things in Cuba, of all places.

And now? Tumor bangs. They're everywhere. I think I saw no less than five or six girls at the bar with the exact same hairstyle last night. And it's only going to get worse. This is one of those annoying fashion phenomenons that will grow, well, like a tumor.

To further educate myself on this style, I'd like to ask the following questions:

- Was it a particular celebrity who started this? If so, who?

- Where is the greatest concentration of this current fashion virus? I'd say there was 8% coverage at Elixir. Can anyone top that?

- Could anyone explain what the big attraction is?

Thank you, and goodnight.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Random Thoughts

These past few days have been just what I needed.

I've been able to take some time for myself and catch up on all the things that I'd been putting off while I was on course. The list wasn't particularly long, but checking off the items on it makes this down time that much sweeter.

I can't seem to find my pipe. I hope I left it out at the cottage. It's a fine pipe, made out of briar. I haven't smoked it in some time, and wouldn't mind starting again while I have a bit of time off. Hard to get more relaxing than smoking a pipe on a porch.

Apparently, Canada's won a round in the whole softwood lumber thing. I'm hoping this translates into a long-term solution, but you never really know when these kinds of trade disputes come into play. Aren't Republicans supposed to be pro-business? C'mon, guys. Stick to your doctrine. Then again, they're also supposed to be pro-balanced budget, too.

Does anyone reading this play Go? You know, the ancient Japanese surrounding game? I'd kind of like to find someone to play with. Also, I'd like to find a good board (preferably in Kingston). If you know of where I can find either*, that'd be great.

*I already have an online Go game, but it's just not the same.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ryan News, in Point Form

- We spent the weekend at the cottage. It was beautiful. We went sailing. I got very, very sunburnt. I helped my step-niece beat a couple of levels on Tony Hawk 3. I was very absorbed in the video games. I think it's time to pick up a few new ones.

- Word from the mother is that she's going to replace my grandfather's old boat (the infamous "big red boat" of cottage fame) next year. When that happens, the old boat becomes mine. And yes, I intend to wear a captain's hat, smoke a corncob pipe, and insist that my passengers call me "Cappy".

- We had our course party on Sunday night. I was introduced to the wonderful invention, "the Irish car bomb." I am still having trouble looking at fluorescent lights.

- I graduated from my course, placing third in the rankings. We celebrated with a graduation breakfast. They served steak and eggs. Delicious. We celebrated with a few cigars, and then called it a day.

- Work is over until September (at the earliest). I am now a Man of Leisure. I woke up late, ran errands, and now I'm going back out to the cottage for a couple of days.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Done. Finished.

The rest of the course went well. I actually managed to get out of work by about 2:15 pm on Friday, which is definitely a new record (for while on course, at least).

It still hasn't sunk in yet. Being done, that is. This course does qualify me for promotion, but I don't think I'm likely to see a promotion (at the branch in Kingston, at least) for at least a year. I'm still debating whether or not I'll transfer to another branch if the job in Ottawa comes through.

We're leaving for Buck Lake in about half an hour or so. We need to stop by Glenburnie Grocery to grab a pie and some tarts, and then it's nothing but two days of relaxing to look forward to.

A hearty congratulations go out to Riz for putting together one hell of a party. The theme was "90s Techno Party", and a lot of people put out some really good costumes. Also, there were at least four people smoking cigars, which makes me happy. Andrea and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and we hope you had no more hassles from the police after we retired for the evening to a massive bag of Chinese food.

Zing! Off to the lake.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Second Home

I've spent the past little while trying to figure out why it is that I love Latin America.

Really, there's no logical reason as to why I feel at home in Latin America. My heritage (British with some Irish) is about as far from Latin as they get. Until university, I didn't even know anyone who had come from Latin America. But one trip to Cuba, and I was hooked.

When I think about my trips to the south, the memories rush back in a tangled flood of garbled images. A woman dancing with a dog in her arms, in some dive bar in Costa Rica. Touring a cigar factory in Dominican Republic. A shot of aged rum poured out on a dusty counter. Sunsets. Cigars. Beaches. Shouts of excited Spanish. The streets. The smells. The sights.

Is it the climate? The culture? The state of mind that I find myself in when I'm embarking on that kind of a vacation?

I don't know.

But I do know that, one day, when the good fight has been fought, I'll find myself a small, secluded stretch of beach and start up the best damned cigar bar in the world.

Done Already?

In yet another surprise turn of events, I managed to produce all of my "testable" products over the course of yesterday. While I haven't gotten all of my marks back yet, I'm effectively done the course, and can focus on helping out the rest of my syndicate and generally killing time until my contract comes to an end. That reminds me, things were a little slow yesterday. I should probably bring a book.

This weekend, it looks as though we're heading back out to the cottage. All the fam is going to be there. My step-nieces have flown in from Calgary for the week, and my sister Jessica will be staying at my Uncle's place for the weekened. We'll probably stay out at the sleeping cabin again - it certainly worked well for us last weekend.

This summer's gone way too damned fast.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Countdown to Course Completion

In a surprise turn of events, the government hiring process is actually moving faster than I'd expected. I'm now booked for another battery of interviews over the span of two days in mid-August.

So yeah, as of August 17th, I'll have completed all aspects of the application process. Then it's just a matter of waiting for a job offer.

The course is getting dangerously close to wrapping up. I have three more days of in-class "exercise" before we call it quits. I need to write one long report, two short ones, and deliver an impromptu briefing. We then take a break for over the weekend, and come back in time for a graduation breakfast. Apparently, it's quite a big deal. I tried to convince them to hold it at AquaTerra, but without avail.

I'm debating whether or not I'll do any traveling before I move to Ottawa. On one hand, it'll probably be the last chance I get to do any serious traveling before work begins. On the other hand, it'll be the last big chunk of time that I'll be able to spend in Kingston before work begins.


Okay, that's enough for now. I need to get to work. 3 more days...