Monday, June 30, 2008

Canada Day Eve

Today, we went with Kevin's parents and his granny to Allan Gardens. The conservatory is made up of six greenhouses full of plants, and there are some untamed flower beds outside. Kevin and his dad both got fancy digital SLR cameras a few months ago, so it was a good opportunity for a shoot-off. Lots of flower close-ups. My favourite was the cacti room. There's nothing better than a plant you don't ever have to water and that produces tequila.

For dinner, we met up with Kevin's friend Tim at the Black Dog Pub. They claim to be the greenest restaurant in the GTA. The food is really good although the desserts taste a bit "organic" (i.e. not enough sugar). Tim had just finished his first day at a new job, so it was a good time for sharing drinks.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Family Visits are Stumpthing Special

Kevin and Mike went to a Blue Jays game today so I had a visit with my parents. Actually, my dad polished my car for 4 hours while I visited with my mom. Just like old times.

After the boys got back and we had dinner, we watched Spain win the final of the European Cup. When the semi-finals started, Kevin and I decided we'd take our vacation in whatever country won, so I guess we're going to Spain! I'd like to get there at the end of August for La Tomatina (tomato fight festival) outside Valencia, but we'll see how the planning goes.

It wouldn't be a Gayowski family gathering without getting some yard work done, so at about 8:30 pm we drifted out to the yard and watched my dad and brother take turns hacking at a tree stump with an axe. Gah, you say? The background: my parents cut down a dead tree in my brother's yard the previous day and wanted to hack out enough of the stump so they could cover it over with dirt. Why this project was started at 8:30 pm though, is not clear to me. The important thing is we took a family portrait with the axe.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Joint Family BBQ

My parents are still visiting my brother Mike in Toronto, so Kevin and I went down to join them for the weekend. My boss Ian - who for the record, rocks - gave me Monday off so we've got a 4-day long weekend. Yay Canada! The bunnies survived the 4-hour drive without incident. As long as you don't consider pee stains in the cage "incidents".

Kevin's parents hosted a joint family barbeque today. Officially, we're the Gay/Barnes (credit to Karene for the nickname). 18 people total! Plus Tucker, the dog. It rained like crazy in the morning but cleared up in time for everyone to sit outside for the party. Excellent strawberry shortcake was had by all.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Eclipse Parties Around the World

The software parties continue! I helped set up a series of democamps around the world to celebrate our new release. Democamps are essentially parties, but with presentations of cool software stuff thrown in. We ended up with 24 parties in 12 countries. The most popular ones were the Googleplex in California, Karlsruhe (near Stuttgart) in Germany and both Krakow and Poznan in Poland.

Ottawa's democamp took place yesterday at a bar called the Clock Tower Brew Pub. I had a mini freakout when they told me that morning that they had our reservation on the wrong day and we weren't booked in. Luckily, they had room for us and disaster was averted. I'm going to add that to my resum
é - "disaster aversion specialist". It will flow nicely after "parade pageant queen".

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eclipse Software Party

Today we had our major, annual software release. I really don't contribute anything to the software itself, but I'm in charge of planning all the parties to celebrate. Whoo hoo! There's 1 main rule to planning a successful software party - have free beer. If you want to have a REALLY successful software party - have lots of free beer. My book on party planning is going to be pretty short. If there's one thing I learned at St. Mary's though, it's extra wide margins, double spacing and giant font = 10-page minimum requirement met.

This party has been getting bigger every year, so we decided to move it from our office to a sports bar called Marshy's, which is down the street from us. My coworker Denis and I set up a V.I.P. entrance with a red carpet for all the software developers attending. My block printing skills still come in handy. I did refrain from drawing cartoons on the sign with my trusty pencil crayons.

Barb and Sharon C. that work in the office space next to mine, are on the intellectual property (I.P.) team - basically legal review stuff. They figured some developers may have pent up hostility towards them, so they set up a dunk tank , with an accompanying waiver required to play. The catch was it was a mini dunk tank with Barbies that looked like them. They even gave them haircuts. The clothes were a bit tarty, but I guess Barbie considers animal print and platform shoes appropriate "Summer Fun" wear.

The party was a real success (yep, lots of free beer) and Kevin's team from IBM even stopped by for a while.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

World's Most Expensive Turnip (as declared by me)

We finally had a break from the rain this weekend so Kevin and I took advantage and headed out to the Ottawa Farmers' Market at Lansdowne. They mainly have organic vegetables and meat but there are a few stands with baking, miscellaneous food products and crafts. Our only purchase was a white Japanese turnip. $3! For one turnip! We were intrigued because this variety is pretty rare in Canada and it's sweet, so you eat it raw like an apple. There's nothing like sitting by the canal on a park bench, sharing bites of a turnip. It felt very hillbilly chic.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rib Fest

Kevin and I went to the International Chicken and Rib Cook-Off (better known as Rib Fest) with Felipe and Hanita. I had to miss Hanita's baby shower a few weeks ago, so our outing was in lieu. Plus it's always good form to take pregnant friends for all you can eat meat.

Rib Fest takes place on Sparks Street, which is a street downtown that's only open to pedestrians. The street would be awesome if it weren't full of tourist trap souvenir shops. Does anyone really believe that stuffed beavers in mountie outfits, canoe placemats and maple syrup flavoured mustard really represent the essence of Canada? The horror.

We decided to pick the rib stand with the most trophies and titles, and chose Uncle Sam's. They claimed to be Ottawa's 2007 winner for best ribs and had a lot of tacky trophies topped with pigs. Kevin has a theory that as the companies travel the "rib circuit", the different stands just take turns being the previous year's winner so they all get a turn at raking in the money. Uncle Sam's "from Albuquerque, New Mexico" also appeared to have a suspiciously all-Canadian crew. Despite the deceit, we managed to finish a half rack of ribs and half a chicken in one sitting.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

We decided to go to the Museum of Civilization today. I especially wanted to see a special exhibit they have right now on Glenn Gould. Glenn Gould was a genius Canadian pianist, famous for playing Bach's Goldberg Variations. He performed for quite a few years and then did a lot of radio work with the CBC. He ended up kind of crazy, afraid of germs.

it! They had both of his pianos on display (unfortunately behind impenetrable velvet ropes), the super low folding chair he sat on to play, marked scores and a bunch of other cool memorabilia. They even had the 7 silver medals from his Royal Conservatory exams. I only have 2. But I can wear gloves and fear germs with the best of them, so there Glenn!

There was another exhibit on Jamestown, Quebec and Santa Fe: Three North American Beginnings. That room was pretty dead so they pounced on us and forced Kevin and me to dress up in period clothing. Cool that the clothing was 400 years old, but not fun to wear wool and fur for 7 minutes trying to coordinate a photo. My mom refuses to use a digital camera in case she accidentally deletes pictures and my dad's batteries were dead. We got a few shots on Kevin's camera in the end.

After the exhibits, we toured the main part of the museum for a few hours. I managed to find some bunnies.

For Father's Day dinner, we took my dad to an Italian restaurant called Capone's. I judge Italian restaurants on how well they do spaghetti with clams and Kevin judges on the lasagna. We weren't that impressed. Italian Week was on so it was too busy to try some of the places in Ottawa's Little Italy. Lesson learned - stick to Preston Street.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Camper Van Kudos

Since my parents are visiting from Winnipeg, where's the first place we headed to Saturday morning? IKEA of course. Good thing my parents brought the camper van. Kevin and I seized the opportunity and also took my old deep freeze in to the recycling center. The freezer came with my house in Winnipeg but I never needed to use it. We moved it to Ottawa and finally tried plugging it in this past January. 2,100 km and 3 years later... it didn't work!

We also made 3 trips to Loblaws to buy patio furniture. Trip 1 - informed there was a sale that day, but it only started after 5:00 pm. Trip 2 - mad rush at the store when everybody shows up at 5:00 and the 2 furniture guys have to fetch massive patio sets for all the waiting customers. We bought the furniture after getting a different table top because the glass in ours was smashed. Trip 3 - realized the bench was bent and took it back in exchange for the floor model.

Ultimately, success! It hasn't stopped raining here since the purchase so we only got to sit on it once.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Junk Food Smorgasbord

My parents arrived in Ottawa this afternoon after a 3-day drive. Since I like weird junk food, they picked up some interesting items when they passed through the States. Most notably, Barbie Pop-Tarts, chocolate mix Skittles and Criss-Cross Apple Jacks. That's 2 full meals right there.

So, cereal tangent. Does anyone remember Strawberry Shortcake or Winnie the Pooh cereal? They were awesome. I think my greatest cereal-eating achievements so far have been a box of Magic Stars that Quel brought back for me from Malaysia and a set of Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry that I bought off eBay so I could them together - the monster marshmallow trifecta. Sadly, I never had the chance to try Frute Brute or Yummy Mummy. A regret I'll take to the grave.

My parents also brought some D.D. Leobard's strawberry wine from Manitoba, which I haven't yet found in Ontario. We gave my parents the grand tour of the latest house and landscaping improvements, then went to Ahora for dinner and a pitcher of margaritas. Arriba!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Chore Weekend

Kevin and I got an amazing amount of chores done this past weekend. The weather was in the 30's but for some crazy reason we decided not to turn on the air-conditioning. Priming and painting the upstairs bathroom was like a bonus hot yoga session for the week. If bunnies could talk, I believe their stares of disapproval would say, "Turn on the a/c, you cheap bastards!". With Dutch accents. And more cussing.

Quick side note for other crazy bunny folk out there (Anyone? Hello? I'm so alone.)... enjoy Disapproving Rabbits. (Ha! See, I'm looking pretty sane compared to that blog, aren't I? RIGHT?)

Other fun-filled activities included steam cleaning carpets and furniture, washing and vacuuming the cars, cutting the grass and weeding. Steam cleaning was awesome. There's nothing like turning a tub of water black with the couch you lounge on every day. In my defense, I've owned it for 8 years - that's a lot of H
äagen-Dazs for one piece of furniture to endure.

My parents are visiting in 1 more week, so I should have more exciting stories then.