Saturday, December 31, 2005

Continued from Last Episode

To relieve the suspense: Andrea's flight did, indeed, arrive safely.

The past couple of days in Palm Desert have been really good. It's been much colder than last time, and is even (dare I say it) "chilly" when the sun isn't out. But we've been making the most of the sun that we had, and have gotten in at least 5 - 6 hours in quality poolside time. It may be the only poolside time we get for the rest of our trip, so we're counting ourselves lucky.

I've spent so much time looking at MLS that my eyes are starting to glaze over, and I'm in danger of agreeing to anything that my realtor tells me, just to get this process over with. I need to stop browsing listings for a few days so that, when I actually go for a house hunting trip, I don't buy the first outhouse or icefishing cabin that's shown to me.

I'm getting seriously excited about my new job. I think it's going to be pretty damned great. I'm not excited about having to live out of a suitcase for the next couple of months, or with the having to rent an apartment before I can move into a house. I am excited about being able to host parties again. It was great being able to have friends out at the cottage, but I miss having a large group of people drop in for a party. Also, I miss making Party Juice.

I'll be back in town for January 3rd. I'll probably be out to the cottage for a few days, then off to Ottawa for a week to do house hunting.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Down in Palm Desert

I arrived in to Palm Desert early this afternoon, and now I'm waiting for Andrea's flight to get in. She's not getting here for another couple of hours at least, and fingers are crossed that her flight from Vegas isn't redirected to Los Angeles or Togo. As far as Flight Aware is concerned, it looks good.

I'm thinking that this is going to be a good trip. It's not brutally warm here (about 20 C) unlike last time, when every breeze that blew felt as though a thousand hairdryers were blowing mere inches from your skin. When the sun is out, it makes for good pool-lounging, cigar-smoking weather.

Much of my time these days is being spent on MLS, where I'm trying to find something nice, in a good neighbourhood, and that is in my price range. At this point, I can usually find something with 2 of the 3 attributes. I'm going to keep looking, and hope that something comes up when I'm in Ottawa in early January.

I watched The Last Samurai earlier this evening. It's a movie that, despite starring Crazy McCrazerson (ie. Tom Cruise), really speaks to me in a number of ways. On perhaps the most superficial level, it is ostensibly a war movie. Lots of people fight lots of other people, in some pretty decent cinematic scenes. Good soundtrack, too.

Stripping that away, you have the story of the samurai. While it's a pretty Hollywood-perspective look at the samurai, it does delve into several of the samurai concepts. Concepts like honour, duty, respect, charity, and obligation. Some other good movies on the subject of samurai are Ghost Dog and Ronin. Ronin also has some particularly fine car chases.

In spite of - or perhaps because of - the fact that the tenets of samurai culture (or "Bushido") are at odds with modern culture, I find it a fascinating dogma to be drawn from in relating to situations in the modern world. More so with the honour and duty, less so with the ritual suicide.

The Last Samurai touches on many other issues, including rebirth and forgiveness, and the conflict between old ways and new. I won't go much further into details, but allow me to pass on my recommendation that, should any of this interest you remotely, you should see this movie. And we'll leave it at that.

I think I'm going to go for a walk in the night air, and listen to a little Franz Ferdiand. My sister picked me up a few CDs when I was home for Christmas and they are goooooooood.

More information on Togo can be found here.

Friday, December 23, 2005

For the Holidays...

Is There a Santa Claus?

No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second; a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal anoint, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.

353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecrafts re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

Based on the research of SPY magazine, January 1990.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The best Christmas present I could have received...

The job has been confirmed. I'm moving to Ottawa!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Still Alive.

I've been in Calgary for the past few days, but have only gained access to the Internet as of this afternoon. Hence, not much blogging has been going on.

I still haven't received final confirmation on the job, but I'm hoping that I'll hear something before Christmas. Considering that I received the initial word on my birthday, it'd be somewhat fitting to get the news on Christmas Eve.

Things are going well here. I've had a fair bit of time to relax, but also a great deal of time to spend with family. It's funny how much more important that has gotten as I've advanced in years, but I really think that it's great to have this time, if for no other reason than to hang out with my sisters and brothers-in-law, and marvel at how big and strong my niece has gotten since the last time I saw her.

I haven't had full chance to engage in all of my Calgary-related bad habits yet, but they're on the list. As for tonight, I'm planning to join my good buddy Sean for a Wheel O' Beer (read: Sampler Tray) at the local Brewsters. With a bit of luck, I'll be able to get down to the Cattle Baron for a dinner before I leave on the 27th.

Quick question: Does anyone else buy Christmas presents for themselves? I mean, I have a good reason to (ie. scotch is cheaper in Calgary than it is in Ontario) but I was wondering if anyone else does it, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Return

... and, back.

The trip to Ottawa went well. I met with my realtor on the Wednesday, and saw a few places that afternoon. I'm not going to lie to you - you don't get a lot for your money in Ottawa, especially as far as condos are concerned. On the other hand, some of the locations I saw were fantastic.

The job still hasn't been officially confirmed yet (though an agreed upon salary and start date lead me to believe that it won't be much longer), so I'm holding off on viewing any places until I get back from the Christmas holidays. Thankfully, my realtor has a good idea of the type of places that I'm interested in, so hopefully there's a nice list of places to go through by the time I get back to town.

I'm going to be gone for the next couple of weeks, and I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be able to do. I'll be in Calgary from the 17th to the 27th, then in California until January 2nd. There's definitely Internet down in California, but not so sure about Calgary. There is, however, Cattle Baron. Very exciting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ottawa (2)

I'm a little further ahead than I was yesterday. I have a realtor now, and will be starting the house-hunt as of tomorrow. It's a little later than I was hoping, but I never realistically expected to have this wrapped up in a few days time. I also had the chance to meet with a mortgage specialist at TD Canada Trust, and it looks as though that's going to go ahead as well. The question will be who is going to give me the best rate.

The job still hasn't been officially confirmed yet, but I'm hoping to know a little bit more by the end of the week. It's only been two business days since the offer was made, and I expect that this will take time.

The notion that I'll be leaving Kingston soon is starting to sink in. I'm happy about it in a lot of ways, but also more than a little sad. I've called that city home for the past six and a half year, and I'm going to miss the people that made it such a wonderful experience. I hope that you'll all have the chance to visit me. I even promise to try and find something more comfortable than raw floorboards for you to sleep on.

I picked up a few Christmas present today, which marks the beginning of my Christmas shopping. There's still a lot to go. I hope to finish most of it while I'm back in Calgary, but I do still have a few more things to pick up before I head back out West. One very important purchase that I did make was to grab a bottle of Lagavulin for the Soldier's Christmas Dinner that we're holding this Thursday. I thought it would be a fitting goodbye present.

Now, I just need to remember to tell the bartenders that I'll give them a smack if they try and mix it with Coke...

Is it strange to have picked out the booze/cigar combo that I'll be using to celebrate my (potential) job offer? I've decided that should things be confirmed, I'm going to enjoy a glass of my Life Changing Cognac (a bottle of Remy XO given to me by Johnny) and a cigar rolled from pre-Embargo Cuban tobacco (the Pinar 3000).

It's important to have a plan for these things, otherwise I could end up celebrating with Jagermeister and the Russian cigarettes my cousin gave me as a novelty item. They're great. They have a picture of Lenin on them, and apparently the tobacco will fall out of them if you hold them perpendicular to the ground.

The Prince of Persia is REAL.

And he lives in Russia.

(Stolen from Tavis.)

Monday, December 12, 2005


I made my way to Ottawa earlier today. I left from the cottage, so I had the chance to visit my grandmother along the way. She's moved from town to the country recently, so I've been visiting her more than usual while she's getting used to her new surroundings. I think it's been a bit of an adjustment for her, but we're hoping that it'll be easier as time passes. Change is never easy, but I definitely think it gets even harder as we get older.

Thus far, all I've managed to do is get to Ottawa. I still need to find myself a realtor and start talking to banks about mortgages. From what I've heard, the market in Ottawa has softened a bit in recent weeks, making this a good time to be a buyer. I doubt that I'll be able to find a place before the week is out (not that I'd be able to purchase one until my employment is confirmed), but at least it will give me a rough idea of what's available.

In the mean time, this will give me a chance to visit with some of the folk who are in Ottawa for the week. Erin's in town until tomorrow, and some buddies from work are here for the next few days as well. I'm also hoping to visit with my cousin before she leaves for Australia, and perhaps go out with my sister and brother-in-law for a celebratory dinner.

I'm looking forward to Christmas. I'm thinking (not for the first time, nor for the last) that this will be a good time to get some more work done on Geriatica. Several hundred people have gone through the first few chapters, and I feel more than a little sad that they haven't been able to continue reading. There's nothing more painful than reading an unfinished book.

That's about it for now. I think I'm going to go eat a sandwich and spend some more time browsing

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Big News

I was hesitant to mention this on my blog, considering that it's still tentative, but it looks like a job offer has come through. I'll know for sure in another week or so, but we've already talked numbers and everything's been agreed upon. So, once things have had a chance to work their way through the HR department, I'll be able to sign on the dotted line and make things official.

I'm going to travel to Ottawa next week to look at condos/homes/townhomes and see what I can dig up. I wouldn't be able to purchase anything until the job comes through officially, but I figure that I'm better off having more time to shop, rather than less. Once the word does come through, there's going to be a lot of moving to do in a very short period of time.

I'm very excited, but a little hesitant to start celebrating until everything's been finalized. The call came through on my birthday, which was excellent timing, and made for a very pleasant surprise. Also, theoretically it means that I can retire on another birthday, which is a neat idea, if you ask me.

It still really hasn't sunk in yet. I'm excited, but it still doesn't seem real. I'm working this weekend, so perhaps it'll feel a bit real once I'm in Ottawa, looking at condos.

Anyways, if anyone has any insights in house shopping in general (or Ottawa house shopping specifically), then I'd appreciate hearing from you.

Friday, December 09, 2005


25 years ago today, my sisters were disappointed to learn that my parents were going to name their new child "Ryan John" instead of "Thumper", as I had previously been nicknamed. (Apparently, I was a strong enough fetus to be able to bring my Mom to her knees with one well-placed kick.)

Thanks to everyone who's helped make it a very entertaining quarter-century. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Also, if anyone's free to go skiing this coming week (ie. Monday - Wednesday, Tuesday - Thursday, or some combination) please let me know. I was hoping to get together a trip to Tremblant or Calabogie.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Boy is Back in Town

So, now that I've returned from my little jaunt, I share the details with the little secret that I was privy to this past weekend. My stepmother had turned 50 about ten months ago. My father, in imitable male style, did not make a big deal of this. This, of course, was after my stepmother had thrown him a massive surprise party (which included the presence of his children, who had to fly halfway across the country to get there) for his 60th birthday party. Needless to say, she wasn't very impressed by this.

Thus, Dad began planning Operation Better Late Than Never. This involved throwing a surprise party for Cheryl, which my sisters and I would fly out for.

This past Thursday, Andrea and I hopped into Mercules, where we sped to Toronto to catch our flight out west. Dad had been kind enough to arrange for our accommodation at the Banff Park Lodge, where we were to remain out of sight (okay, perhaps it was more about having a vacation...) until the night of the big event.

We didn't get to do any skiing, unfortunately. But we did get a chance to tour around Banff, do a bit of shopping, and generally relax in the heart of the Rockies. Oh yes, and eat lots of steak. Did I mention that? Because I think I had steak for about 5 of the 7 meals that we had during the trip, and Andrea wasn't far behind. I also had the chance to sample the Port Tasting menu at the Banff Springs Hotel. I don't know if I'd be willing to spend $150 for a bottle of 40 year old port, but it is pretty damned tasty, that much I can say.

We came back to Calgary on the Saturday. We stopped in at my eldest sister's place, and had a visit with her, my brother-in-law, and my darling niece. She's getting huge. She still isn't sleeping that much, but she's certainly energetic. She's actually been crawling so much that she managed to get blisters on her toes.

That visit was followed up, of course, with a trip to the infamous Cattle Baron with my good friend Sean. We thought that we would have a light meal, by ordering the prime rib sandwhich. Yeah, it was about a 12 oz. slab of prime rib, loosely draped over a piece of garlic bread. Delicious, but not exactly the lightest option.

Then, we napped the naps of nappers who've consumed about 3 lbs of red meat over the past 2 days.

I have to say, I think we really surprised my step-mother. She'd been told that she was meeting some friends for dinner. Meanwhile, all of us (including family and friends that had flown down from Okalahoma) were waiting to surprise her. When she arrived, it took about ten seconds for things to sink in. She walked into the room, and looked at us. We looked at her. She looked at us. We looked at her. Finally, someone yelled "Surprise!"

The dinner was absolutely fantastic. The restaurant was called Rouge, and they really went all out. It was a 6 or 7 course tasting menu, and the meal itself probably lasted close to 3.5 hours.

I was fortunate enough to be sitting across from one of my father's co-workers, who happened to share my fondness for automobiles, scotch and cigars. And yes, he was also probably about 30 years old than me. Old man, indeed.

Then, we flew home the next day. The in-flight movie was "Sky High". It's a Disney film about a superhero high school. It sounds really bad, but it happened to feature such comedic greats as Bruce Campbell, Kevin McDonald, and Dave Foley. I really recommend it, should it come out on video at some point in the future. I haven't had so much fun with an airline movie since Nahem and I watched "13 Going on 30" on our way back from Costa Rica.

Still no word on the job situation, but I'm enjoying having a day to rest and relax before I go back to my routine. It's back to the job tomorrow, likely followed by a trip to the gym and perhaps some wings, if people are around. Call me, or I'll call you... you know the drill.