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Happy 2013!

Happy New Years to everyone and happy 2013!

Firda and I decided to stay in last night and just hang out. We ended up watching the movie Mr. Nobody (which is an interesting movie with a quantum mechanic bend to it – I’m still scratching my head about it). We stayed up till Midnight and then it was off to bed.

Today (January 1st) is my nieces birthday (well one of my four soon to be five nieces). We are going down to my brother and sister-in-law’s for a little birthday party. Firda is also going to be taking some maternity pictures for my sister-in-law who is around 7 months pregnant right now.

Well I better go start interacting with the new year! Maybe I will post more this year?

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Summer Olympics 2012

Wow – a year since my last post. Crazy!

As everyone knows the Summer Olympics offically opened two days ago in London, Great Britian. Something non-Canadians may not know (but likely do) is that Canada doesn’t do very well at the summer olympics.

Thus the bemoaning has already begun. The statistics – 42 medals handed out and no medals awarded to Canada.

I counter with – (a) it’s only day two and (b) we suck at the summer olympics.

Though I’m sure we are relieved that we’ve finally got a medal – a bronze for women’s synchronized diving. Hopefully now we can stop worrying and start enjoying the games.

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The time since my last post….

Yes. We are still alive. Yes. I’ve neglected my blog. I try to make amends with this post.

To start – Firda and I have been pretty busy these last couple of months. First of all in June we took a week and half off and travelled the Northern Peninsula in Newfoundland with my parents. Newfoundland is the last province for me to visit (and no I haven’t been to the territories yet). We spent the majority of our time around L’Anse Aux Meadows (where a North American viking settlement was discovered in the 1960s) and in Gros Morne National Park (which is amazing with lots of great hiking trails). During our trip we saw boatloads of wildlife – the final animal count was: Moose 33, Minke Whales 2, Caribou 4, Bald Eagles 3, Coyote 1, Osprey or Falcon 3, and possibly seals (the pictures will have to be checked on that one). We also saw 4 or 5 icebergs during our time around L’Anse Aux Meadows. It was an amazing trip and I really want to go back to see more of the island.

Then a week and a half after getting back from that vacation I had the annual cottage weekend with 17 friends up at my parents cottage. We spent the Canada Day long weekend hanging out, eating, swimming, drinking and just generally being lazy. Thank the lord we built the bunkie so we can accomodate that many people.

Plus Firda and I have started Geocaching. We picked up a Garmin handheld GPS about 3 weeks ago (just before the cottage weekend) and currently have 23 finds to our name. It’s a way to get us outdoors and have some fun while doing it.

Other than that we’ve been catching up on all the new TV and old shows we didn’t have time to watch. We’ve start watching Game of Thrones Season 1 – which is quite different than I thought it would be (I was thinking more along the lines of a cheesy Xena/Hercules kind of show), Falling Skies (which is apparently filmed about an hour from where we live – reminds me a lot of the Walking Dead), True Blood (I enjoy it but I’m not sure why), Breaking Bad (just plain great), and the Killing. Once we catch up on all that I’m sure Dexter will start and then the Walking Dead.

And let me tell you about the weather. 30+ Celsius temperatures are horrible and have been hitting us for the last week. Unfortunately there are no signs of letting up. Plus several of the nights don’t drop lower than 20 Celsius so I can foresee sleeping being difficult in the coming days. Stupid summer. I can’t wait for the fall.

Boring post eh? Oh well. That’s what you get from me these days.

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Canadian Citizenship

I’ve been neglecting this blog. In the last couple of months a lot of big changes have happend with Firda and I. On March 28, 2011 Firda became a card-carrying Canadian citizen. She wrote and passed her citizenship test a little over a month before her oath ceremony.

The day of the oath I took the day off of work – for lunch we met up with my parents, two of my aunts and one uncle. They also accompanied Firda at her citizenship ceremony – of which I believe Firda had the largest support posse. The ceremony was interesting with the “citizenship judge” keeping the atmosphere light and joyous. After his opening statements everyone said the oath, recieved their citizenship documentation from the judge, signed the required documents and sang “O Canada”.

Following the ceremony we headed over to the passport office (which is just around the corner from where the ceremony took place). 15 minutes later and Firda’s passport application was in. A week and a day later she recieved it. We can now official travel outside of Canada without having to worry about getting a visa for her. We haven’t made plans on travelling outside of the country yet but we will at some point in the future.

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Stratford Shakespeare Festival – Camelot

Today was the first day of previews for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Previews are basically when the acting company goes through the play with an audience and gets a feel for timing and where things need to be ironed out.

The very first show of the previews is the musical Camelot, which we were lucky enough to get cheap tickets for. The cast was star-studded with many veteran Stratford actors/actresses and a handful of actors/actresses who are having their debut season.

The musical is based on T.H. White’s novel “The Once and Future King” which I’ve read and enjoyed. Camelot covers the section of King Arthur’s life from the night before his wedding to Guinevere to the repercussions of her running off with Sir Lancelot.

While the acting was quite good I just wasn’t drawn into the story. The songs were rather boring – with the exception of a couple of the more exciting tunes. The majority of the songs were slower romantic songs – which typically involved one or two people. Compared with the other musicals we’ve seen at Stratford (including West Side Story, Evita, Kiss Me Kate) the choreography was much more reserved than we expected. As well several of the actors/actresses that we were excited about seeing in this play had very very small parts and only appeared on stage for a couple of minutes (specifically Bruce Dow and Lucy Peacock).

In all – the acting was superb as is expected from the Stratford Shakespeare company but the music and choreography were lacking. While I’m sure there are many people who would love this musical, it just wasn’t for us. I have great hopes for the rest of the season which I know will not disappoint.
Next weekend is “The Grapes of Wrath” which should be great (in a depressing kind of way).

Edit: The live animals (the hawk and the shaggy dog) used during the play were great!

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Accidents, Celebrities and Life

It’s been a while since I posted here. In the last three weeks a bunch of big things have happened.

First thing – over two weeks ago I was in Kitchener, Ontario. I was stopped at a stop light when I heard a screeching sound behind me and then the sudden impact of a car rear-ending me. The guy who rear-ended me was a 20 year old university student driving his Dad’s 1994 BMW, which was in great shape. My car had to be towed back to Stratford and eventually I was told by the insurance company that it was a write-off. They gave me a cash settlement and we started the look for a new car. My poor little car, Syd (Six Years in Debt) was destined for car heaven. It was a sad day when Firda and I went to clean Syd out before the insurance company towed it away.

Thankfully my insurance company covered a car rental for close to two weeks. In this time Firda researched, we test drove and ultimately decided on the 2011 Honda Fit, which is another 5 door hatchback with amazing cargo space. We don’t travel light so we need the space :) We picked up Fynd (Five Years New Debt) on Saturday and took him for a short drive to Kitchener (going through the intersection where Syd was killed.

On Friday we were invited to a taping of the Rick Mercer Report (a Canadian current event comedy show) by a friend who got tickets at the end of last year. I took the day off of work so Firda and I would be able to hang out in Toronto before the taping. We ended up hanging out on Queen Street (which is quite the hipster section of town). We had macaroons at Nadege Patisserie, checked out the Lomography store, viewed a couple of National Film Board animations at the NFB Mediatheque, visited the CBC Museum, and had food at Kama Indian Buffet.

The taping of the Rick Mercer report was very interesting and went smoothly (no need for more than one take). Though the meet and greet with Rick Mercer was even better. When Firda and I got up to Mr. Mercer he looked at Firda and asked “did you have Indian food tonight?”. The first thing that came to my mind was “did one of us burp and did he smell it?”, but he politely explained that he had read Firda’s tweet from earlier that day when she tweeted “Will be spending today in TO. Will meet up with friends later for Indian dinner and then see @rickmercer report taping live at the CBC!”. He let us know that he usually has about an hour of free time in his change room before the show and occasionally checks to see if anyone posts about being in the audience for the taping. He said that he recognized Firda from her pictures, and more specifically the shape of her glasses. That made our day/night.

The rest of the night was spent having a quick drink (non-alcoholic for me and Firda) at the Tiff Lightbox Blackberry Lounge before heading home.

All in all a great weekend. Lots of fun.

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Pawn Shop Shows and the Same

Recently I’ve seen a surge in the number of shows of TV that revolve around the pawn shops and auction houses. I believe the first one was “Pawn Stars” which follows the owners and workers of a Las Vegas pawn shop. The next one is “Auction Kings“, which is about an auction house. And the newest is “Pawn Queens“.

Firda and I enjoy watching Pawn Stars. It’s on Sunday mornings at 10 in the morning and is a nice way to start what is typically a lazy day of us. Key parts of the show are likely staged but it doesn’t feel like staged. The characters in the show, while occasionally annoying, are quite endearing and quite humorous. The reason I enjoy it is the variety of items that come into this particular pawn shops. I also enjoy the bargaining that goes on between the pawners and the pawnees.

Auction Kings doesn’t have quite the draw that Pawn Stars has but is still enjoyable. An episode of the show starts with the either people bringing stuff to the auction house or one of the pickers going out and selecting items from estates that they think will sell. After determining the possible value of the item they hit the auction block. The show ends with all the items sold and the sellers reactions to the sale.

I just finished watching the second episode of Pawn Queens and this is the worst of the bunch. The show is clearly staged, all of the characters over-act and over-react to the situations they are in. The items that they buy and sell aren’t as interesting as the stuff they buy in Pawn Stars. I’m thinking the horridness of the show is the production quality of the show and the fact that they try to inject too much drama into the show. I guess it is on TLC so their has to either be drama, dwarves or an inhuman family with a queen who can’t stop procreating (i.e. the Duggars).

I know there is at least one more of this styles of show called “American Pickers“, which I have not had a chance to watch.

So if any of these shows sound interesting I would go with Pawn Stars or Auction Kings – but stay stay stay away from Pawn Queens. Definitely not worth your time!

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Absence

I know everyone feels it. The feeling of loss – whether for a person who has passed away or someone who you care for but your two paths have diverged.

I’ve had this feeling several times in the past couple of weeks. I’ve had dreams about people who I use to be friends with or who I went to school with. When I wake up I wonder what they are up to, if they are happy, what type of person they are and if they ever think about me.

I’ve been missing my grandfather who passed away a couple years back. I was looking at a photo stream of his cousin and came across photos of him and my grandmother from the 1980s.

Either way. Just thinking and missing.

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Basia Bulat @ Foster’s Inn [Stratford, Ontario] – January 20, 2011

Autographed!

The Canadian songstress Basia Bulat made the pilgrimage to Foster’s Inn in the middle of winter to brighten our night with songs that remind us of spring rains and summers nights. Firda and I first “discovered” Basia when she opened for Hayden at the Gig (Kitchener) on January 25, 2008. We had never heard of her before that night but ended up enjoying her set and pick up her first album at the merchandise stand.

Foster’s Inn has been holding the Dinner Concert Series for at least two years (since we were lucky to see Royal Wood last year at the same venue). This time around we decided to go for the Dinner as well – since it assure you a seat plus the food is very very good. I decided on the bacon-wrapped chicken breast (stuffed with mushrooms, caramelized leeks and with a side of risotto), and Firda went with the pasta with bacon and P.E.I. mussels. Desert for me was apple crisp while Firda went with the Crème Brûlée. In all the meal was delicious and we were stuffed by the end of dessert.

Basia was just as amazing as the food. Since she only has two albums out she was able to run through most of the songs we were hoping to hear. She also covered a Polish song that she was currently enamoured with and played us a new song she has been working on. The set lasted for about an hour or so with one encore. After the show she talked with fans at the merchandise area and we ended up buying a record of her new album. She was kind enough to sign it and when she screwed up Firda’s name took the time to correct it (she even offered to give us another album – which we declined). Out of all of the artists we have talked to after shows she was by far the most approachable and personable.

So go out now and buy her albums or check her music out on the CBC Radio 3 link provide here. You definitely won’t be disappointed.

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Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas is my current addiction. For those of you not in the know Fallout: New Vegas is a video game set in a post-apocalyptic world that is recovering from a nuclear war in 2077. The game is set in 2281 where humanity is still stuggling to rebuilt civilization. As expect there are many factions involved: some working towards the betterment of humanity, some working to exploit humanity and other who are using humanity to their own ends. The player ultimately decides which path they want to take: do you want to be the wastelands messiah or the wastelands devil? The choices you make in the game decide your karmic level and ultimately the way you interact with the different factions.
Of course the game isn’t just about social interactions. It is first and foremost a first-person shooter. Many of the quests you pick up have you exploring desolate locations populated with irradiated creatures: including giant geckos, glowing radioactive ghouls, super mutants, nightkin and the like. Other quests have you collecting medicines, drugs or supplies to help the communities and outposts across the wastelands.
My addiction with this game comes from the amount of things that you can do in the game. There are around 200 locations that you can discover, around 100 quests with the multiple factions, and hundreds of items to collect.
The only problem I have with this game is the bugs that are part of it. I have at least one quest that I can’t finish because of a bug. Thankfully it isn’t an important mission.
Now how addicted to the game am I? I’ve likely but in about 40 hours over the past couple of months playing it. And with that I’m going to end this and get back to the game!

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