Sunday, October 29, 2006


Weekend's winding down, but it was a good one. Had a training day with the army on Saturday (set up / tear down a modular tent), followed by a full, proper day off on Sunday. Didn't do much of anything - slept late, played video games and watched 'The Sentinel'. Just what I needed.

The kittens are doing well, and starting to show more of their personalities, now that they're getting settled in. They're still destructive little brats, but they haven't destroyed my ottoman yet, so I'm happy.

I started playing Sid Meier's Pirates! yesterday, and I can tell that it has the same potential for addiction as most of his other games. You may scoff at this, but I had a roommate at university who lost two years of his academic live to Civilization 2.

Rumour has it that it's going to be another mild winter. Living in Ottawa, I'd say that the news is welcome, but I'd still like to get some skiing in at some point or another, which is something I was unable to do last year. Hopefully I can make it to Tremblant at some point or another.

We've elected to keep the cottage open throughout the winter, so perhaps there will be some cottaging going on in the not-too-distant future. This is dependant on kittens being able to sustain themselves for a weekend. Considering they regularly get themselves stuck behind large items of furniture, it may be a few months before we're ready to leave them to their own devices.

Oh, and here's something to consider - if you've recently graduated and don't have health benefits as part of your job, consider taking a correspondance course from a university and opting into their health plan. It works out to cost something like CAN$600 for health and dental, whereas you're lucky to get Blue Cross for under a grand.

I'm going to bed. Starting into the H.G. Wells. Finished The Time Machine, starting Invisible Man. All in all, I'd say I'd prefer The Time Machine, but we'll see what the rest of Invisible Man has to offer.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sins of my Past

You ever get the moment where you remember something really bad that you did years and years ago, like it just happened about three milliseconds earlier?

The Gothamist did an interview of GW-editor-turned-Internet-superstar Jay Pinkerton, in which he described an incident that got him hauled in front of the Dean during his final year of university. The article in question? Oh yeah, that was my little bastard brainchild.

Uh... wow. And oops. Wowoops.

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Obligatory Kitten Photo

Here are our little brats. Whiskey (a.k.a. Baron von Whiskers) is on the left and Socks (a.k.a. Socrates) is on the right. This is the one shot out of about thirty where I could actually get them to sit still. The secret is tapping on the side of the camera while taking the photo.


I decided to clean out my links. I'm actually a little ashamed, but I found it really hard to do. It was like I was taking your little digital avatars off life support - as though the one to two hits a month you got from me were sustaining you in some dark hour.

I was ruthless when I came up with the criteria, which was to retain the active blogs of people I've met in real life. It seems a bit arbitrary, but I think it makes sense.

I totally feel as though I should apologize for taking people off my links section. That's kind of strange, but at least I'm resisting the urge. You know I love all of you, regardless of whether or not I elect to wipe your digital existence from my memory.


Kittens are doing well. They're cuddled up now, after a long day of wrestling and driving me crazy. Whiskey has learned how to leap from her scratching post to the bed. It's amusing to watch from the living room, as it appears as though a kitten is hurtling through the air at about chest height, with no particular origin or destination.

Any way, time to cook some dinner and then play video games. Shrimp curry + Splinter Cell = Awesome.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Kitten Update

The kittens (Whiskey and Socks) have arrived at the place in Ottawa, after having spent a few weeks at Andrea's mother's place. They've come a long way from what they were like when we first picked them up.

They no longer feel the desire to disappear for hours at a time, so scared that they hide inside the hard-to-reach bits of furniture. Now, they race through the apartment and use their little kitten-claws to climb everything and anything. Come to think of it, I kind of miss the hiding.

They're brother and sister, and play together constantly. They have a habit of waiting until the other lets their guard down, and then conducting a kitten sneak attack. They're still small enough that they can squeeze under my bookcases.

Both of them manage to get into everything and anything. The house is slowly being kitten-proofed, only to find that something that we thought to be harmless to kittens is actually well within the grasp of their little claws. Case in point - trying to sleep when a kitten has decided that the zipper on your suitcase is a dangerous animal that must be slain at all costs.

All in all: very cute, very happy we adopted them. Pictures to appear in the near future.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Philosophical Ramblings

I've been doing some soul-searching over the past few weeks, trying to figure out what kind of work I see myself doing way on down the road. That's not to suggest that I don't like what I'm doing now - far from it, I think this is probably the best place I could be right now in terms of gaining practical experience and learning more about the world around me. But I knew from the start that I was unlikely to remain with my present employer for the next twenty years.

As near as I can figure it, here's the big question: is it better to be out there doing a job, or inspiring others to go out and do it themselves? In my particular case, the job in question relates to international affairs and conflict resolution, but I think the same holds true for pretty much any would-be do-gooder.

Before you can do either, it's pretty obvious that the first step is to get to the point where you know what you're talking about. That's where I am now - learning the biz, and getting myself in a good position to do a Master's a few years down the road. This, perhaps, to be followed with a bit more practical experience.

But what then? Do I join the United Nations or the Privy Council Office and work there, or work to encourage Joe or Jane Westerner that it's in everyone's best interest to read a newspaper and write their elected representative? Heavy questions, for reals.

Ultimately, I think it'll work out to be some kind of a balance. That is, working with an organization that enlists the aide of Joe and Jane Westerner to tackle the root causes of conflict at a grassroots level. But how will I get there? I'm starting to think there should be some time spent as a teacher, but how much? And when?

As an aside, if you're the last kid on your block to hear about the $100 laptop, check it out here. Assuming this thing does half of what it says it can do by the time it hits the street, this thing's going to change the freakin' world.

Finally: I think I've figured out what I'm going to do, charity wise. I'm in the process of tracking down the contact information for the Laroo school for war-affected children in Uganda (article here). Seems like a worthy cause, and by giving directly to a local NGO, I should be able to skip a lot of Western-real-estate-and-salaries overhead. The only thing I won't get is a tax rebate. Booo. Still, something tells me those war orphans and former child soldiers need it more than I do.

Okay, that's enough goodness for today. Don't mind me - I'll post something heartily offensive in the next day or so.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Obligatory Airplane Photo

This is the view of the Andes as we flew into Santiago. As tacky as it is to take a photo through an airplane window, I thought it was a pretty good shot. Apparently, there's still spring skiing at this time of year. We decided to pass, as I still have not learned the Spanish equivalent to, "Can you please collect my legs, and then take me to a hospital?"

Nature Sanctuary

Here is the entrance to the Cascada de las Animas nature sanctuary. We were a little surprised to see that the gate was locked, until we learned that it was to keep the pumas in the park.

Rio de Maipo

Here is the Rio de Maipo river. It's the river the borders the resort - we had a chance to travel down it via whitewater raft. Nothing inspires confidence like receiving a safety lecture from someone with whom the only common language you share is the word "bathroom".


This is the famous Cascada de las Animas for which the resort is named. It's a beautiful waterfall, but they recommend that you not go underneath it, and not just because it's so cold that your reproductive organs will lodge in your trachea - apparently, rocks occasionally fall off the top of the waterfall. That's a good way to ruin your vacation.

Mmmm... piscolicious

Here is the bar from whence so many pisco sours sprung.

The house that Don Toro built

Here is the manor house of Don Toro, the founder of the Concha y Toro winery. They have a very long and detailed history, most of which I don't remember, thanks to five or six glasses of vino tinto. I'm pretty sure that Don Toro lived in Chile and that he made wine but after that, things get a little fuzzy.

Barrels of Monkeys... well, barrels that will turn you into a monkey

I think we stumbled upon Donkey Kong's strategic reserve.


Here are the secrets of the Concha y Toro winery. As you can tell, the directions are incomprehensible to anyone who may lay their eyes upon them. I believe they've used some diabolical encyrption scheme to keep their competitors from figuring out their secret techniques. Fiends!


Our guide prepares our first wine tasting. Note: subsequent photos may become more and more blurry.

The Cellar of the Devil

Here is the specially aged bottles of Concha y Toro. In the background: the devil. Oooh, scary.


This is Cascada de las Anima's restaurant. They served a pretty good queso y jamon (ham and cheese) sandwich, and one mean pisco sour. It's spring, so things were pretty quiet while we were there - most nights, we were the only guests in the restaurant.

The Cabina

This was our little cabina that we rented while in Chile. It had a nice little woodburning stove, and a fairly comfortable bed. The extra privacy was nice, as was the kitchenette (which we didn't use) and the complimentary spiders. Seriously, though, great place to stay, and there weren't an unreasonable number of spiders.

Our Little Chevy

This is our little Chevy Corsa, the rental car that took us from the Santiago airport to our little cabina at Cascada de las Animas. We got a bit of an odd look from the guy at Alamo when we asked for an economy model, but it managed to get the job done. I'd have to say it was a pretty good rental - the mirrors didn't fall off, nor was there any tragic monkey-related autobody damage, so it was definitely superior to my previous car rental in Costa Rica.

The View from Halfway

This is a view of the Andes, taken when I was still more interested in photography than I was in praying that my horse didn't fall off the side of the mountain.

Our Guide

This is our guide, Leo. Although he spoke no English and we spoke very little Spanish, I think we got along well. By way of a phrase book, we learned that he had been working with horses since he was a young child. I also think that he told us that there were many Russian women in Chile and that there are lots of French people in Argentina, so perhaps my translation was a little off.

Rio de Maipo Valley

Right at the bend of the river, there, is where we started from. Yes, it's as far away as it looks.

The View from the Summit

Here we are at the summit. I think this is about 1600 metres - about 1000 metres higher than when we started. Any higher, and I think we'd need some horsie space helmets.

Ryan in Chile

Here I am, during our lunch break from horseback riding. Not evident in photo: me thinking about how badly my ass is going to hurt the next day.