Friday, May 30, 2008

Yoga Nightmares

I have frequent nightmares - generally about being murdered (and always by stabbing for some reason), but there are some animal attacks, late for an exam, falling in an elevator, fired from my job, having children episodes thrown in for good measure. I occasionally start screaming in my sleep as a result, and Kevin has to wake me up.

I did this the other night and Kevin thought the dream was about spiders, but I think it was a premonition of the hot yoga class we tried last night. Okay, it actually wasn't that bad except for the crow pose into headstand. Squat with your hands on the floor, balance your knees forward on your elbows, take your feet off the ground, then stand on your head. What the?

Maybe if I spend hundreds of dollars on lululemon clothing, my yoga-ing will improve.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm in a Place Where I Don't Know Where I Am

I tried to start an outdoor running routine yesterday. There's a bike/running path across the street from us, which is really convenient. Yep, I got lost. It turned into an hour-long run (although I walked a good 20 minutes of it). With my terrible sense of direction, I'm going to be in awesome shape!

I did get to see a big brown and white snake. I may have entered Arizona accidentally at some point.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Excellent Weekend Kickoff, Bad Follow Through

Friday after work, I I had a cocktail party at my house with the 4 other women from my office. The house specialties were sangria, cosmos and raspberry mojitos, and my co-workers brought recipes for a cougar (basically a cosmo with cointreau instead of triple sec) and a caramel kiss (Bailey's, butter ripple, vodka, milk and caramel sundae topping). Tasty!

Saturday we tried to go to the Great Glebe Garage Sale. The Glebe is a really nice neighbourhood in Ottawa, and for the last 20 years, they've held a coordinated sale one day each summer. We (i.e. I) didn't get moving until about 11:00, so it was nuts! We drove up and down the streets for about 20 minutes then gave up and went home when we still didn't find parking. Garage sale shopping from the car definitely isn't that interesting.

Sunday we cleaned out the garage because it was full of cement dust from getting our driveway redone. Par-tay! Then Kevin's aunt and uncle from Toronto stopped by for a late lunch. We pretty much napped for the rest of the evening.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Smell You Later NYC!

It was our last day in New York. We took Gerry out for breakfast at Utopia. I'll point out that it was his pick because when I searched for a link to the restaurant's site I came across an inspection report from 2 months ago that showed Utopia had 5 violations including not vermin-proof, roaches, mice, food worker prepares food or handles utensil when ill with a disease transmissible by food or has exposed infected cut or burn on their hand, and cold food held above 41°F. And since this resulted in only 25 violation points, no follow-up inspection was required. Oh, New York. I'm sure the honour system works though and they still took care of all the violations. Thank bejebus for that final Hep A shot (see April 7).

Kevin and I headed over to the United Nations for a tour. The security tent alone was worth the trip - tourists getting yelled at for taking pictures and not moving to the appropriate metal detector - welcome to America! The wait for a guided tour ended up being at least 2 hours so we looked around the public part of the building a bit and left.

We spent the rest of the day touring the fancy American department stores: Bloomingdale's (very expensive), Barneys (outrageously expensive) and Macy's (expensive). Although we couldn't afford anything, I did get to touch some Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik shoes at Barneys. I guess I'll have to hold out until they start collections at Payless.

After several weather delays and annoying teenage girls in the airport wait area, we made it back to Ottawa. Air Canada gives you free booze if the flight is late. Just what you need - angry patrons full of vodka. I took a mini bottle of rum with me out of spite.

At home, the pet sitter had left a note that Spuckler somehow jumped out of her cage and the fence around the cage while she was getting their vegetables and attacked Savvy. He seems to have fully recovered but had these loose hunks of fur hanging off his butt. Poor guy. I'll have to knit him a butt toupee.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

New York Times

Another day in New York. We started with breakfast at Sarabeths with Kevin's friend Jeff.

Gerry, who we're staying with, has a golden retriever named Bear. After breakfast we went over to Central Park to take Bear for a walk. We tried to find 2 geocaches, but the first location was too busy so we gave up. You can only stare at the walls of a tunnel pretending to examine the rocks for so long, before people think you're child snatchers. We did manage to find the 2nd one without people noticing what we were doing. Central Park was especially busy today because it turns out the AIDS Walk was taking place. Although we weren't wearing the ribbon, we were able to walk in it for a bit without being accosted.

Our friend Gina from Toronto arrived in New York for training, so after our walk, we met up with her at her hotel and went to Soho for shopping. Soho has all the fancy stores. You start to become numb to the crazy prices! Not numb enough to actua
lly spend the $600 on a pair of shoes, but enough that it doesn't seem surprising.

The weather wasn't great, so we stopped at a café for lunch when the rain picked up. We also had a really hard time getting Gina a cab. Apparently 3:30-4:30 is a magic time where there's a cab vortex as shifts change over. So there's taxis everywhere, but none of them will stop. She eventually ran into the street, kicking a few babies and small children out of her way, and stole a cab from a group of people that were naively waiting at the curb.

After more shopping, Kevin and I had a Cajun dinner at one of his favourite spots from his New York days - the Great Jones Café. We both had shaggys - spicy ginger ale with rum. They were freakin' spicy all right! Tastes like burning.

With the sun going down, we walked over to the Empire State Building. We paid a ridiculous amount of money so I could go to the very top. Although the ticket is vastly over-priced, it was definitely cool to see so much of the city from up high and watch the sun set.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New York, New York

I made Kevin a top 10 list of sites I wanted to see in New York and we managed to cover off 7 in the first day: Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, the Stock Exchange building, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center, Times Square and a Broadway show. Other items we saw along the way included Battery Park, the South Street Seaport, Radio City Music Hall, the Ed Sullivan Theatre and Columbus Circle.

Halfway through the day we met up with Kevin's former co-worker Mike and his girlfriend Melinda for lunch. Gerry joined us too. We went to Essex, which had an awesome brunch special for $16 that included 3 mimosas. Kevin and I actually showed up early for lunch so we pre-drank 2 mimosas as well. We had a good view of the bar and they were using real champagne!

I think my favourite part of the day was seeing Times Square at night and the Broadway show. We bought half price tickets to Avenue Q, which I've been wanting to see for years now. It won the Tony for Best Musical in 2004 and is basically like real-life, dirty Sesame Street for adults. Songs include It Sucks To Be Me, If You Were Gay and The Internet is for Porn, to give you an idea.

We obviously were exhausted at the end of the day and finished off with dinner at Il Violino.

It was weird to finally see all the larger than life New York landmarks in person. Surreal. The subway and people were also much more normal and friendly than as depicted on tv. Law & Order has been lying to me! Donk donk. (That's the Law & Order sound bite.) Zero shootings and stabbings witnessed as of yet.

5-Month Streak Over

I had a rocky start in New York last night. We were delayed an hour and a half due to weather and the flight was pretty turbulent. I had an almost 5-month non-puking streak... that ended yesterday. And it ended with the use of an airline sickness bag. Poor Lynn? No. Poor Kevin. To my credit, I'm a discreet thrower-upper.

What's that you ask? Of course I'll keep everyone fully updated on future throwing-up episodes. If there's enough demand, perhaps I can track my progress via an Excel chart.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rare and Unusual Sunday

Kevin and I went to the Experimental Farm's rare and unusual plant sale bright and early today. It's usually a bonus if I'm ready to leave the house on the weekend by noon, but I pulled it together for 9am today. How rare and unusual!

A lot of the plants ended up being things that are pretty ordinary, but some of the stands had some really different varieties. The prices were generally decent too. We really wanted to get some evergreen shrubs to fill in our front flower bed and some trilliums - Ontario's provincial flower. We snagged the last 2 trilliums at the show and bought a bunch of other random flowers and shrubs.

We went to Loblaws and Home Depot as well, to pick up a few more filler items. What did we find? A whole table of "rare and unusual" trilliums at Loblaws! At least we were able to buy a few more. Kind of killed the cach
é though.

We spent the rest of the day planting our herb and vegetable garden at the side of the house and all of our flowers and shrubs in the front. I managed to break the top off of all the tulips when I moved them, because I'm delicate that way.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tulip Festival Weekend - Minus Tulips

Our friends Tim and Gina from Toronto are visiting for the weekend during Ottawa's Tulip Festival. Per usual, we headed to the Byward Market. We did a tour of some of the shops and had lunch on the Cornerstones patio - very similar to Earl's. They had raspberry mojitos, so how could Gina and I resist?

A trip to the Market wouldn't be complete without indulgent over-spending at Trustfund. Gina needed a new pair of jeans and couldn't decide on a style, so she bought 2. That seems to happen a lot at their store. By coincidence, Gina is going to New York for training next week so Kevin and I are going to meet her there and bring the jeans once they're hemmed. Very jet set.

After all the spending we decided to have dinner in. We bought trout, vegetables, potatoes and fiddleheads. None of us had tried fiddleheads before but they're big in Ontario this time of year. It's really a wild baby fern, rolled up in a ball. Turns out they taste like asparagus (but not quite as good).

We tried to watch a movie afterwards and picked Awake. Hated it. There were way too many graphic surgery scenes. And it sucked. The one redeeming feature is Jessica Alba - if you're a man. Gina and Tim both fell asleep.

We never really did tour any tulip gardens today, but yay Tulip Festival!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Speed Shopping

After breakfast, I had just under 2 hours to hit as many stores as I could before the flight back. I managed to fit in Victorias Secret, H&M, Betsey Johnson and Bebe. The most fun was definitely Betsey Johnson. They started picking dresses for me to try with a pair of sparkly gold high heels. Everything was so over the top bridesmaid-esque. I did avoid buying an expensive dress I didn't need, but I couldn't resist this ruffly, sweater/cape thing in aqua. Very Carrie Bradshaw. It's one of those things that people will see and will love, or mock mercilessly behind my back. Couldn't everyone's wardrobe use more aqua ruffles?

The flight back was uneventful. I watched The Golden Compass and Mad Money. Both were more disappointing than expected, so I'm glad I didn't pay to rent them.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Ah, the final day of the conference. From the attendees' perspective, this means a free for all for giveaways in the exhibit hall. We had a line up for the remaining t-shirts as people loaded up on what was left. We managed to give out 750 t-shirts, 50 baseball hats and 500 yo-yos over 3 days. I did a quick tour of the other booths and got a slinky and a mini-lint brush for myself. Woot woot!

Everyone was tired so we had dinner together at Annabelles and went our separate ways. I had a lemon mojito this time, but it paled in comparison to the raspberry. I'm hoping to do some shopping in the morning before my flight.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

It was Grand... times 10!

After a shorter day in the exhibit hall, I had a quick break at my hotel. Another awesome feature of Kimpton hotels is a lot of them host a free beer and wine hour at 5:00 in the lobby. I had a nice chat with the wine lady Kat and other random people in the lobby while enjoying a glass of chardonnay.

Then it was off to our party at a restaurant called the ThirstyBear. The restaurant brews some of its own beers and has a really neat location in a historic brick building in downtown San Francisco. We had the 2nd floor of the restaurant closed off and it was packed! We had just over 300 people and maxed out the tab in a record 2 hou
rs and 15 minutes.

There's nothing like handing over your credit card to pay for a $10,000 party.

Our buddy Mik Kersten from Vancouver (middle) took a picture at the end of the party with me and my boss Ian (right).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

JavaOne Begins

The JavaOne conference kicked off today and there are about 15,000 people here this year. My job is to answer questions at our booth and get people to play our game for a free t-shirt. Techies love a free t-shirt. Especially if it's black so they can spill food on it and it's less noticeable. I'm not even being facetious - I was instructed to order dark shirts for this reason.

The first day was 9 hours long and pretty busy. We didn't get any food at the party in the evening because the line was so long, so a group of us went to a sushi restaurant called Sakana afterwards. Excellent! We made Luke eat the fish bones that came with the bill since he was our token Asian.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Conference Eve in San Francisco

I had time today to finish setting up our company's booth for the conference tomorrow and to catch up on emails. My last sign did arrive! This may be the first time in the last year that a hotel hasn't lost any of my shipments. Kudos to the Palomar Hotel. So far my experiences with Kimpton hotels have rocked - highly recommended! They also have funky animal print robes which make you look like a pimp. My camera batteries are dead, so I couldn't take a picture. Photos of me in a bathrobe should probably stay off the Internet anyways. Kimptons are also cool because you can request to have a fish bowl, complete with goldfish, in your room.

I was starving by 4:00 so I headed out to find a place to eat, and ended up running into my friend Tim, who works out of Mexico for one of our member companies. He joined me for dinner, but we had a hard time finding anything open. We ended up having cheese and drinks at
Café de la Presse first. I was too shy to force him to go shopping with me, so he grabbed the GPS from his car and we tried to find a geocache. Unfortunately, the GPS wasn't built for off-road directions and it wasn't accurate enough to get us close. We wandered around Yerba Buena Gardens a bit and gave up.

By then, restaurants were open for dinner so on my hotel's recommendation, we decided to try Lulu for some seafood. It was really nice. Somehow the couple seated at the next table got the impression that it was Tim's birthday, so that was a bit weird. We just played along.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Off to San Francisco

I was off to San Francisco today for a software conference. Of course, my tv for the 5 ½ hour flight was broken and I get motion sickness when I read, so my two options were to sleep and to stare straight ahead listening to my iPod. I alternated between the two and was pretty bored after 4 hours.

I decided to pick up all my deliveries and get them over to the conference centre so the next day I could just do set up. It was quite the work out carrying everything over. The doorman offered to help once I had 1 last box to bring over. So far, only 1 sign is missing.

Due to getting up at 5 am and the 3 hour time change, I was starving by 4:00, so I headed out for dinner. The concierge recommended a restaurant called Annabelles, just down the street. I had the best mojito ever! They used raspberry rum and the drink menu claimed they “burned” (in quotations) the mint instead of muddling it, although the waiter had no clue what that meant. They’re probably just guarding the secret recipe. Duck salad and vanilla crème brulee, and I was done. I was pretty much asleep by 8:00.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hazardous Waste and Dinner

Ottawa has certain days where they set up hazardous waste depots where you can drop off used oil, old paint, nuclear waste, etc. The people we bought our house from had a bunch of paint cans rusted shut in the garage so we decided to take them in. It was quite the process!

The city had the street we were going to closed off and blocked by a police car, so we had to drive around the block to get into the designated parking lot. Every side street along the way was being guarded by people in white jumpsuits. Once we got around the block and got close, we were stopped by the first set of jumpsuits who told us to continue driving ahead. The second set of jumpsuits asked for our postal code and allowed us to turn into the parking lot. The third set of jumpsuits told us to again drive ahead and stop at the drop off. Once we parked and popped the trunk, there were at least 5 people in jumpsuits to take our few paint cans out of the trunk. Other than us, the entire drop off was empty. I think they managed to employ about 50 people that day.

Hazardous-waste free, we headed off to some garden centres to get herbs for our garden. The coolest find of the day was a pineapple mint plant at Loblaws. Let the mojito season begin!

For dinner, we met up with Kevin’s friend Matt and his wife Cindy. We went to Shogun, which is kind of like Ichiban or Benihana. The best part is when they light a stack of onion on fire like a volcano. Mmm, flaming onion volcano.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Party - with Maracas!

Our neighbour Erwin invited us to his 30th birthday party today. Some new neighbours, Andrew and Amy, moved in across the street from us around Christmas and they were there too. Erwin is originally from Columbia, so as the party progressed it turned into quite the Latin fiesta. I’ve never known anybody with so many sets of maracas. They got people to dance around with them in their back pockets. I’d give Amy the prize for best maraca-booty shaking. Kevin and I were shy. What can I say – we’re reserved Canadians.