Thursday, 17 December 2015

See You In 2016

Stay tuned in the NEW YEAR for more Always Standing posts and great content. I am taking a break for now, as I am sure you noticed, but please come back first thing in January.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Sorry, Dawg

I have been meaning to post this photo forever. This is part of a real estate listing for a large house (semi-detached) that is for sale in Toronto. I kept worrying that it would sell before I had a chance to take a screen shot of one of the photos that appeared on the listing. Luckily, it has stayed on the market for an unprecedented two weeks. Tonight I made sure to capture the photo before someone buys the place, renovates the crap out of it, and resells it for twice as much.

It is currently in our "price range" and is in the best location of the few offerings that show up in our searches; however, this is due to the fact that the house looks terrible and is falling apart:
It has been divided up into apartments, and the tenants do not seem to be looking after the place, I suspect some drug dealing occurs regularly. But as fridge graffiti goes, the messaging is very sweet, "sorry, I ate all your food, dawg" is quite polite. Needless to say we are still on the hunt for a house to buy and this is one property that we are going to pass on for now.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Xmas List 2015

It is December so time for Christmas lists!

Joint (Jason and I)
- Gift Cards: Canadian Tire, Cykl
- King Size Cotton Sheets
- Phone chargers (Android)
- Small water-resistant point-shoot camera
- American Money, Peruvian Nuevo Sol
- DIY, Basic Home Repair/maintenance books (Used but current)
- Empty spray bottles (various sizes)
- Dish Soap (clear/without colour)

Jason
- Gift Cards: MEC, Best Buy, Chapters, Tim Hortons, Amazon
- Tassimo: McCafe Coffee
- Casual Tops/T-Shirts (Med), Jeans (33:30)
- Running T-Shirts (Med)
- Sport socks (Biking)
- Kindle case
- Hiking Boots
- Coke in glass bottles
- Sour candy
- Backpack for travel

Me
- Gift Cards: Starbucks, LCBO
- Tassimo: Tetley Chai Latte
- Sports Swimming Suits (14)
- Hiking socks (not wool)
- Running shoes (7)
- Coke Zero/Diet Coke in cans
- Epson salts
- Trivial Pursuit Bet You Know It
- Label Maker
- Cans of corn (cream, or niblets)
- "Piercing" Earrings (must click strongly to stay in)
- Interesting indoor plants
- Box in mail/Each Month subscription

Two
- Arm and Hammer cat litter deodorizer
- Cat nip
- Grow your own cat grass
- Essential oils: lemon, lavender, eucalyptus

Monday, 30 November 2015

The Birthday Boy's Baby

Happy birthday to my little brother! Normally I would put up a picture of Mike, but his son is just so much cuter!! Here is a shot my mom took (she is in Edmonton right now) of Mike tickling Avery:

Avery Giggles - 10 Months
November 2015
Photo by Mom

Sunday, 29 November 2015

My Dad As A Verb

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

Email discussion with my uncle about the potential cost of various house renovations.

Si: Are the $ figures backed up with research, etc or is it guess work? ie. Are you doing a George? 
Me: What is "doing a George"? 
Si: "Doing a George": deciding on a budget figure you'd be happy with without doing a ton of research.

This exchange totally made me laugh; I didn't know he did that but I am not surprised. I don't have that issue because I like to research so spend lots of time looking things up to get an idea of the risks, costs, process, etc.

Friday, 27 November 2015

A Sad Day

How do you honour your father, two years later? I don't know.
So I did my taxes and switched the sheets on my bed.

Feminist Friday - Wage Gap

It seems unbelievable that that the Gender Wage Gap exists. As in, I actually have a hard time believing the science. I don't understand how it can happen. I expect women to trend lower pay from choosing careers that pay less or due to maternity leave absences. However, even when statistics are adjusted for these variables it still shows up.

Article from Forbes

It makes me wonder if it has been some unseen force in my life. I have occasionally felt underpaid, but never because I was a girl - usually due to the company I was working for, the stage I was at in my career, that not-for-profits involve some sacrifice in pay, my skill-set and industries of preference are undervalued, etc. Never because of my gender.

However, maybe I wouldn't see it, I have never been somewhere that had lots of people doing the same job as me, the statistics have never represented a male that is physically sitting beside me and getting paid more. It feels like an issue that exists only on paper and it infuriates me that these numbers keep showing up in black and white - reflecting quiet biases back to us. It so unfair that it is unfathomable. But it also seems so abstract that it is hard to believe.

Seriously, how does it even happen? I just want this issue to go away, I know it won't fix itself but I don't really know what can be done to change it. (Besides making it illegal, but isn't it already under discrimination laws?) Someone needs to fix this.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Call Me - Benadryl Thundercats

--------- from Facebook


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Where Have I Been?

So the answer to the above question is -- I don't know! I just stopped posting for a while, somehow found it hard to find the time. Things are well with me though and I have returned!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Excited For A Fresh Start

Look what came in the mail today! Chapters was having a sale so instead of the normal $25, my yearly planner was only $20. Unfortunately, they only sell one colour (black) in the weekly-horizontal style that I use. Last year I had pink, but I think I ordered it through Amazon where there are more choices.

Steph used to get them for me, when for a couple of years you couldn't get this specific layout in Canada and had to go through the USA. She used to use the one that is smaller than this one, the "pocket-size" but I don't know if she still does. Everyone's phones are so good now and calendars sync to various devices; most people have gone digital.

I actually keep mine, and look through them, it is a really cool snapshot of time to see what I was interested in or doing each year. They store in a compact way. The last couple of years I make sure to white out (or scribble over) any thing that I don't end up doing, so these planners are accurate representation of what I do. This is especially key for spinning since I am trying to keep track of how much I spin now that Tessa and I have an unlimited package (got to see if we get our money's worth.)

I have already torn open the packaging and transferred over the details for my Peru trip, the second week of which was mapped out on a blank page in my 2015 planner since they do minimal overlap between the years. I also put in all the birthdays, in two places. Usually the first 3 pages has a list-version of the year's dates and it goes in there for easy reference, in 2016 they have a full month on each page so I used that. Then I go through and put notes in the individual days too. I already made my first white-out, I tried to draw wedding bells to go beside Rob and Andrea's wedding date but they looked horrible and I had to erase them, there are hearts now instead.

Move Back On The TTC

Move to the back people! In buses and streetcars it is always more empty at the back. This isn't a new issue brought about by entitled millennials wanting to stand closer to the door, or busy yuppies with their briefcases and gym bags taking up aisle room, or even the recent influx of massive strollers blocking up the front sections - it is an age old issue. As this vintage TTC poster can attest to:
It just doesn't make sense to me. This morning there was a crowd of people in the bus I took along King St. to work (they have started to supplement the 504 Streetcar with buses). By the time I squeezed past all the people in the aisle and made it up the stairs to the back section there were tons of seats available. It should be a common etiquette rule that no one can stand in the main aisle until all the seats are taken and people have filled the aisle in the back section.That back section is just as good as the main one - just as many poles to hold on to, just as close to the rear door, just as wide. I don't get it. It is so frustrating.

Speaking of frustrating, I am not a huge fan of this sexist vintage ad from the TTC. Though I do enjoy it showing the men being really passive aggressive, and the kid crying (because that is another annoying thing that happens on public transit) though I feel like the girl is too old to be crying:

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

KL CGA-X

By Christine Sweeton
Part 1 
Part 2 
- Part 3:

It took his entire commute through the lava to slow his heart rate, by the time Kit arrived at his ProPod the health indicator on his wrist had finally faded. He'd seen the red light shine through his skin at the heel of his hand right after Lu had shown him the test questions. He had quickly shoved his hand into the back pocket of his jeans and tried to take a casual pose leaning against the kitchen island. “Huh, what was that, hon?” he asked.

Kit hoped Lu hadn’t sensed his instant terror from her seemingly nonchalant questions about the possible new exam material. “Ahh, I don’t really remember the tests from one exam to the next, there’s been so many since I started. But I gotta get going, it’s review week, ya know it makes em crazy,” Kit had slowed his Northern drawl even more than usual. He then tried to calm the frantic beating of his heart and appear as natural as possible as he gathered his bag and headed out the door to start his commute. “Though it is hard to look natural when your girlfriend is showing you a highly secretive intergalactic document -- with no regard to the criminal implications -- over coffee like it was the morning weather report!” Kit thought to himself as he entered his ProfPod.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Third Person, No Capitals

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

In one Sunday Mornin' Coming Down post I shared the last comment my dad made on Always Standing before he died. This past week I ran across a bunch of comments from him as I made my Throwback Thursday post for April 2007. Dad used to start his comments on my blog with "dad says" or "dad asks" or some other strange third person intro before leaving the comment.

I like the comment he left on (No) Thoughts On Suicide - VI, a post I wrote on April 2, 2007 as I was slowly healing from my most serious depressive episode. About a week later this comment was made:

dad said .it is great to hear you are feeling more on an even keel . love you . may the wind be on your back always . keep trying

Friday, 6 November 2015

Feminist Friday - An Ottawa Mayor

Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.  --- Charlotte Elizabeth Whitton

Charlotte Elizabeth Whitton was the first female mayor of a major city in Canada, serving as mayor of Ottawa from 1951 to 1956 and again from 1960 to 1964.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

TB - April 2007

Throwback Thursday - Scroll to the bottom of the month and read up. Or click on the earliest post in the month (to view the post and the comments) then keep clicking Newer Post until you finish the month.


This is way easier to read than the last Throw Back post when I was deep into a serious depressive episode. In April of 2007, lots of my friends were commenting on posts, especially Steph, and I can often still hear their voices in my head when I read their words. I am am excited to learn more about the late Spring and Summer of 2007. It seems like it was a month when I was figuring out summer work and trying to find a new roommate. I can't really remember what happened! Was that the summer I started at GeoConnections? Was the new roommate Jake? It is strange how hard it is to put together a timeline 9 years afterwards. Guess I will have to keep reading to find out.

Noted Post: Near the end of the month I posted about a late night interaction with Taylor. I can remember the good-bye that I described and how touched I was by her sweetness and slurred compliments. It was a very strong moment, early on in our friendship. I like that, 9 years later, she is still reading my blog.

An Excellent Cabinet

People are getting pretty excited about the recently announced Canadian Federal Cabinet. I admit that when reading the Globe and Mail summary yesterday I felt really proud of my country. I am getting excited for the new Liberal parliament under our 23rd Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

---- From a Facebook post by Alana and Micheal Philips

We have a Minister of Environment and CLIMATE CHANGE.
We have a Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and REFUGEES.

Our Prime Minister is a sci-fi geek.
Our Minister of Health is an actual Doctor.
Our Minister of Families, Children and Social Development is a poverty economist.
Our Minister of Science is an actual Scientist (oh, and she has a Nobel Prize).
Our Minister of Status of Women is an actual woman!
Our Minister of Veterans Affairs is a quadriplegic because he was shot in a drive-by shooting.
Our Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour is a Professional Geologist.
Our Minister of Democratic Institutions is a Muslim refugee.
Our Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities is a Paralympian Athlete.
Our Minister of Defence is a badass war hero, Afghanistan combat vet, and police officer.
OUR MINISTER OF TRANSPORT IS A GODDAMN ASTRONAUT.

Half of our Ministers are women.
Half of our Ministers are men!
Two of our Ministers are people of First Nations (Kwakwaka'wakw, Inuit).
Three of our Ministers were born outside of Canada (India, Afghanistan).
Two of our Ministers are Sikh.
At least one of our Ministers is Muslim.
At least two of our Ministers are Atheist.
One of our Ministers is battling breast cancer (we wish her well).
One of our Ministers is in a wheelchair.
One of our Ministers is blind.
One of our Ministers is openly gay.
One of our Ministers is openly ginger.
Also, Hon. Navdeep Bains has a perfect twirly moustache.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Puppy On A Boat

Ruby's First Sail
Uncle Simon, Aunt Dan, and Fi's Black Lab Puppy
Photo by Aunt Dan, October 2015

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Mom With Candy, Dad With The Kids

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

My dad always took us trick-or-treating, and when I was really young he even dressed up. Talking with a group of friends at Teri's last night, turns out that most families sent the dad out with the kids and the mom stayed home giving out the candy on Halloween.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Vote Cat

I am still excited about the Canadian government "change-over" that happened a couple of weeks ago. Here is a cute picture of Walter that Anna posted to Facebook on Monday October 19. She did a really cute series of animal posts (all her pets, she has a lot of pets) telling people to go vote.

Walter the One Eyed Wonder Cat says "Go vote!"
Photo by Anna
October 2015

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

And Then It Was Gone

I stare at the empty hole...

Gone in a weekend, a gap tooth on a quiet street
Did it have a salvage team? Scavengers for good
Fly away with dripping streaks of insulation
Crows ripping flesh from the body
A raccoon turning a shiny doorknob around in tiny hands
Silver screws hidden in a rat's nest across town

120 years brought to its knees
Limbs torn away, skin ripped off
Strong machinery, cruel tools, frantic excavation
Scrapping through the dirt for the last of the bones
Concrete cartilage hidden in the dirt
Claws digging through grab the last timbers of life

The need to eradicate, a space of non-existence
Eliminating the dignity of renovation rebirth
No chance at restoration or reincarnation
Far from recovery, beyond death

Leaving us with an empty hole

--- Christine Sweeton, Toronto, 2015

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Dad Crest

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

I found the coolest website this week. It is called Canva and is free design software that you can play with online. So much easier than Photoshop (which I have taken multiple courses in). The graphics you can create are basic but still impressive for how simple it is to use. I am addicted and have been using it to play around with some designs related to the wedding. When I wanted a break from that I came up with the idea of doing something connected to my dad. I made the image on the right. The wheel (which I did not create from scratch, I am not that good) is an obvious connection to sailing, but I also picked the shape around it as a reference to Settlers of Catan. I don't really know what to do with the design, mainly it was practice as I get used to this program and what it is capable of.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Kittens In Your Face

Another list, like the one I put up a few weeks ago. This one is about cat's ignoring your personal space. Binx would sit beside you so wasn't that invasive, and Rasta isn't super intrusive. However, Two is pretty bad about this, she is all over everyone all the time.

-------- found online

Not my photo - Found online

Check out the MASSIVE list of examples HERE

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

And So Today

In an update style, I thought I would respond to my own post yesterday about all the great things going on (in the same order as before):

- It is Still Fall in Toronto, But Also in Ottawa
Fall is my favourite season in Toronto but Fall is great in Ottawa too. (Technically Winter is my favourite season in Ottawa, but both are good.) Jason and I are heading up to Ottawa for the weekend for a quick visit with Steph and Dave since we didn't get a chance to see much of them over the summer - they have been super busy with Stephanie Beach Photography.

- The Star Wars Trailer is a Day Older, and Jar Jar is Dead
There was some concern among Jason's friends that the awful Jar Jar Binks character might make an appearance in the upcoming Star Wars movie. I don't think he will be there though, and I ended up doing research to ensure he would be too old to show up on screen. Here are my results:
- Jar Jar is a Gungan, and they live for 65 Galatic standard years 
 - Using the Russian Formation dating system, he was born in year 948 
 - Leia (and Luke too obviously) born in 981 
- So Jar Jar is 33 when the twins are babies 
- She is in her 20's during the 'original' trilogy making Jar Jar 53 
- As long as this is set more than 15 years after that (and I have heard it is supposed to be 20ish years past VI) Jar Jar is DEAD
And I might be a bit of a nerd for spending the time to look all that up and work everything out.

- The Liberals Continue to Have a Majority Government
And they will have for four more years. That is the whole point of a majority government, there probably won't be a vote of none confidence to bring about an early election. I am hoping that they get a lot of work done and make some big changes.

- Jays are now 1-3 in the ALCS
Last night the Blue Jays lost terribly in the fourth game of the American League Championship Series. Jason was so bothered by how badly the game was going that he turned off the TV after the second inning. I don't care though, I can use it to make an exciting announcement - Mike and Aimee are going to have another baby! I am excited to be a two-times aunt. I decided that this little thing has thrown up a poster on the womb ceiling to celebrate, since big brother Avery is such a fan.
Future Blue Jays' Fan
My Next Nibling, Avery's New Sibling
Due Late Spring 2016

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A Glorious Morning

I woke up on this grey Tuesday to a wonderful new world, for the following reasons (not in order of importance):

- It is Fall in Toronto
I really love living in this city and it is the best in September and October. It reminds me of the quote from You've Got Mail: "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils..." only about Toronto instead of NYC. Jason and I are getting married in a year and we picked the date partly because it is so beautiful here in this season.

- There is a New Star Wars Trailer
Overnight a longer trailer (the teaser came out a while back) for the new Star Wars movie was released online. I was insanely excited by the short little teaser, this longer trailer is amazing. Jason has already organized with P and a bunch of their friends to go on Saturday December 19th at 4:30pm. We have tickets to see it in IMAX.

- The Liberals Have a Majority Government
This recent Canadian Federal Election pretty much became a quest to get Stephen Harper out of office while dealing with the complexities of a multi-party system. After voting last night I went to bed hoping to wake-up and find out that the political landscape of Canada would be shifting 'left.' It has, the Liberal party now has a majority of the seats. I am a bit sad that my beloved NDP lost so much ground but I do feel like a lot of their gains were due to how awesome Jack Layton was, and now that he is gone their buzz has settled down.

- Jays are now 1-2 in the ALCS
I really don't care about baseball, but the exciting news that the Toronto Blue Jays won last night's ALCS playoff game meant that this photo of Avery got posted on Facebook, which made me very happy!
Go Jays Go!
Avery, October 2015

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Action Dad

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

A Photo of Photos, from one of the large collages we made for his funeral:
Sailing, Sailing, and
Canoeing (when he was much younger)

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Math Makes Her Sleepy

Teri is really great about texting and emailing me photos of Two when she stays in Oakville. Here is another photo from this recent sleepover:

I'm Trying To Mark
Photo by Teri

Thursday, 15 October 2015

TB - Political Quizes

Last week I did the Vote Compass for this coming Canadian Federal Election. It was four years ago during the 2011 election that I first used this tool, here are all the times that I have talked about it, or similar systems, on Always Standing:

- April 21, 2011 - Research Your Vote

- December 7, 2013 - Confirmed Political Views

- October 2, 2014 - Thank You Vote Compass

- October 3, 2014 - Get In That Parade

- October 7, 2015 - Sitting Where I Should

Comparing my political leanings from 2011 to 2015, assuming that the parties have stayed roughly in the same position, it seems that I have become more socially liberal over the past few years. I wonder if living in Toronto has made me more aware of social issues? It is definitely a change that I am proud of, though hadn't really known had happened.

I was worried that, since tends to be the trend, as I got older I would move towards the right. Seeing that I was further to the right fiscally than the NDP made me concerned that this conservative shift was happening to me. Seeing my results from 2011, it looks like I was right of the NDP when it came to economics then too.

Remember to VOTE on October 19

Monday, 12 October 2015

By Recommendation

Literally everyone that I asked for suggestions from, of what to do in Chicago, mentioned the Architecture Boat Tour On The River. So yesterday, Jason and I decided that would be our main activity for the day. We are trying to keep costs down and the $42 a person price tag was a bit of a deteriorate for us, the Canadian Dollar is so low in comparison to the American that everything is pricier than we would like it to be. However, this was seriously mentioned by everyone as almost a mandatory experience.

We waited fairly late to head into downtown because it was the Chicago Marathon and was going to be packed. When we were trying to find a place to stay in Chicago for this weekend we couldn't figure out why everything was booked and so insanely expensive, it is one of the reasons that our AirBnB ended up being so far away from downtown was that we couldn't find or afford anything closer. It wasn't until Meg mentioned it recently that we figured out that Canadian Thanksgiving is the same weekend as the marathon and that was why. Tomorrow is also Columbus day, but that doesn't seem to be that major of a holiday, we didn't even notice it happening in NYC last year.

When we did get downtown in the early afternoon it was still really busy, lots of people in running gear with medals on. We went fairly quickly to the river to get tickets and found out they were sold out until 5:00pm, we got those and prepared to wander downtown, which we hadn't really done yet. We went to Millennium Park and saw The Bean. Ate our packed lunch and walked along the lake and river front.

Turns out 5:00 is the perfect time to do the boat tour! The docent/guide kept mentioning how beautiful the low light was on the buildings since he normally does midday tours he was quite excited. The tour lived up to the hype. I could have stayed on that boat listening to the guide talk about architecture for hours more. The 90 minutes flew by and having the different styles pointed out and explained was an incredible experience. I would FOR SURE recommend this as an important thing to do when visiting the city.

Trying True Deep Dish Pizza For The First Time
Jason at Giordano's - Hyde Park
Oct 11, 2015 - Photo by ME with my phone

After the cruise, we went looking for deep dish pizza for dinner, lots of Google Maps searches. Teri had mentioned the chain Giordano's as a good place to go, I had also noticed the Lou Malnati's as a popular place with lots of locations as well. We took The Loop, the elevated subway system, to go to one Lou Malnati's place that was close by, the line up was insane. Then I remember that Giordano's had a location near our apartment, turned out it was walking distance away and we just headed south to that one. There was a much smaller line.

I loved deep dish (or stuffed) pizza! Definitely my preferred in the whole Chicago and NYC pizza debate. Jason leans much further on the side of New York but still enjoyed the Chicago style.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Finally Saw The Bean

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

For a long time I didn't know where Stonehenge was. This was because I visited England between Grades 5 and 6 for over month with my family, and we never saw it. We saw so many sites in England the idea that my parents didn't take us to this Wonder of the World was unfathomable to me, so I spent all of high school and most of university thinking that was somewhere else. When Steph finished at Carlton, we celebrated by going on a trip to London and she wanted to see Stonehenge, we actually fraught a bit about it being in the country (and Steph is obsessed with Stonehenge so I have no idea why I argued.) We ended up seeing it and now I obviously know what country it is in.

I had been having a similar experience with The Bean. It can't be in Chicago, cause if it was, why hadn't my dad and I visited it when we came in 1994?

As I mentioned before, the only other time that I had visited Chicago was when I came with my parents over 20 years ago. My mom had a conference to attend, which meant that my dad and I hung out together during the day. We stayed at the Blackstone Hotel (some of The Untouchables was filmed there), which is next to the Hilton where my mom's conference was. These hotels are on South Michigan Avenue, just across from the big park area on Chicago's waterfront, we walked along the lake when it wasn't too cold or windy.

The only major attraction we visited here was the big aquarium, besides that we just went to all the free art galleries. Dad loved this because they were free and he has a certain cursory interest in art. Also, because I was young, we probably were moving through them in at a good pace. So, with this emphasis on art, visits to the waterfront parkland, and desire to see things that didn't cost anything, how come I never saw The Bean (which I hear K is pretty obsessed with and likes to visit it multiple times when she visits the city.)?

Turns out it wasn't even there! The planning for Millennium Park didn't start until 1997, and Cloud Gate (The Bean) wasn't added until 2006.

Our Chicago Commute

Chicago Skyline - Rental Bikes
Jason and I, 2015
We brought our helmets with us from Canada.

Yesterday, Saturday, was pretty tiring. We have slept in a bit this morning to recover. Yesterday was tiring because we decided to bike into the city and continue north of downtown. Chicago has an incredible bike share program (Divy) that we had read about ahead of coming here (hence we brought our helmets to use since they aren't provided.) There was a station to pick up the bikes right beside our apartment building and we rode along the Lakefront Trail. We stopped at Lincoln Park Zoo after over 20km biking, seemed even longer because the bikes were heavy and slow - definitely not the road bike that Jason is used to. We walked around the zoo and conservatory, both of which were free. When we took the train home the bus that would bring us to the apartment wasn't due for another 20 minutes. There was a Divy rack right beside the station and our day use of the bikes was still valid. We just unlocked two with our codes and rode the rest of the way back!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Like We Live Here

Yesterday was our first full day in Chicago. It was spent relaxing and sort of doing things that we would do if we lived here. Jason has a cold so I went for a walk in the morning to pick up some medicine at a pharmacy and grab us coffee at the local Starbucks.

The studio apartment we rented is across from a park and in the winter would have a view beyond the park to lake; you can't see the water because of the leaves on all the trees at the moment. The area is really nice, but far from the main area of the city. I keep referring to it as the Long Branch of Chicago, though Scarborough might be a closer comparison. A Metra station is right around the corner from where we are staying, this is the rapid transit for the region, like GO, and isn't connected to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Even though the Metra would get us north and into downtown quicker, we have a 7-day pass for the CTA so just use that instead, sometimes taking a bus west to grab a train or using one of the buses that run along the lakefront.

We went grocery shopping, there weren't a lot of options near by and the place we went to was fairly expensive. (Lots of organic and fancy stuff, bit like a Whole Foods.) However, we were able to get stuff for breakfasts and dinners at the apartment, and things to take for lunches when we are wandering around the city. I didn't look closely enough at the AirBnB listing and it has a big fridge and some kitchen stuff, there is no real sink or anything to cook food with (not even a microwave or toaster.) It doesn't say that it has a kitchen on the listing, in fact that is crossed off as an amenity, I think I just saw the big fridge in the pictures and assumed.

After having some grocery store rotisserie chicken for dinner, Jason and I took transit to a Robot Date Night that we had booked. We built a couple of robots and won against the other couples in Robot Movie Trivia (ok, mainly Jason won.)

These Robots Can Walk
(Not invented by us, just assembled from a kit, still fun though!)

Good Old Paper Map

I like GPS in its simple definition:
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. The system provides critical capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. The United States government created the system, maintains it, and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver. (from Wikipedia)

The term GPS used normally, usually means a GPS receiver or navigation device like Tomtom or Garmin. So while I like the system in general, I don't like the devices very much. As Teri knows from our recent road trip, I don't like having a GPS receiver determine a route and following its verbal/basic visual direction. I don't trust them, especially now that things like Google Traffic are using GPS data to first analysis traffic flow/issues and then providing route suggestions. That seems better than just GPS. In general I want more information than a computer generated route . I also want to understand the bigger picture and review my options.

Some people just turn them on and go. For example, my mom spent the last week at a rug hooking school in West Virginia with a friend. They drove back to the Brantford area yesterday. She sent me the following email:

Got home from an exciting and exhausting week "hooking" in West Virginia. Getting back took longer than anticipated. Never blindly trust a GPS! Luckily we were looking for a rest stop and saw a sign that indicated a Maryland rest stop. At that point we both said "We didnt come down here through Maryland". Turns out Jennifer had turned on the "no toll roads" button and it considered the Peace Bridge a toll road so was sending us home via the bridge near Kingston.

I need way more data sources than just a GPS, I also want to reference Google Maps, various tourist maps found in brochures, and even an old fashion printed road map. I like maps.

Sleepover At Teri's

Two is staying with Teri and Greg in Oakville while Jason and I are in Chicago. I love getting updates from them. Here is one from last night:

Two Sleeping Peacefully On The Stairs
Photo by Teri

Friday, 9 October 2015

Friday In The Windy City

Jason and I arrived in Chicago late last night for a little 6 day holiday in "The Windy City" over Thanksgiving. We are staying in the Hyde Park area in a studio apartment from AirBnB. I am excited to explore Chicago, I haven't been here in over 20 years. (I came with my parents when I was 10, also over Thanksgiving weekend. Mike went to have real Thanksgiving with family instead.)

Thursday, 8 October 2015

TB - March 2007

Throwback Thursday - Scroll to the bottom of the month and read up. Or click on the earliest post in the month (to view the post and the comments) then keep clicking Newer Post until you finish the month.


So, the difficult part of my 20s has finally arrived in the Throwback Series, it wasn't as scary to read as I thought it would be. It was truly a terrible time, but reading through the month it seems like I did have some positive moments.

Noted Post: The final post on suicide for that month, Thoughts on Suicide - V, is a really strong little statement. It looks like I was doing a really dark 5 part series. The last post would have been written after I started to get help dealing with the massive depressive episode I was going through. Just having suicide ideation explained to me was a small step moving in the right direction. There is power in labeling things.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Sitting Where I Should

I did Vote Compass again for this coming federal election. According to the site: Vote Compass is an award-winning civic engagement application. It is used as an educational tool to help you explore how you fit in Canada’s political landscape. It was developed in Canada by political scientists and has used by millions of people during elections around the world.
My political views seem to sit in between NDP and Liberal - I wish the NDP was slightly more economically conservative and I need the Liberals to be more socially progressive. (I am the grey dot in the graph above.)

You can try out the Vote Compass HERE
and remember to vote on October 19th 

I Am Moving These Boxes, Sir

Yesterday I found out that my boss doesn't consider me a lady, and I am actually rather glad about it. The term can be problematic and is starting to dance on the sexist side. Even according to its definition, it is sometimes offensive depending on its context:

LADY
noun, plural ladies. 
1. a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken
2. a woman of high social position or economic class
3. any woman; female
4. (used in direct address: usually offensive in the singular)
5. wife
6. (initial capital letter) (in Great Britain) the proper title of any woman whose husband is higher in rank than baronet or knight, or who is the daughter of a nobleman not lower than an earl (although the title is given by courtesy also to the wives of baronets and knights)
adjective 
7. (sometimes offensive) being a female
8. of a lady; ladylike; feminine

Last night I was in a rush to leave work because I had a waxing appointment at 5:30. A delivery showed up for marketing right at 5. The building locks its loading dock at that time so the 25 or so boxes being delivered would need to be moved into our suite, off the truck, by hand.

The driver and our small marketing team used a couple of hand trolleys to wheel in the delivery. The driver kept insisting that he do the brunt of the work, even though there were three of us there to help. (Note: The boxes were maybe 5lbs a piece.) I ignored his protests and helped anyway.

Driver: No, no, no, I will do it. It is too heavy for a lady.
Marketing Director: Oh, she isn't a lady, she's ... Chris.

We got the boxes moved in and they were not too heavy! I also made my appointment in time.

Still Mourning

Time does change how and when I grieve about my father. There aren't really surprise breakdowns anymore. I can control my crying better and know during a conversation whether it is going to upset me, then I can decide to steer it in a way that won't. There are still trigger words, phrases, and concepts that I find difficult.

Last night I was hurting and missing him so much. I wish I could turn times like that into actions that would be more positive or productive - focus on good memories, or documenting my thoughts into art or something. But really it is just pain and my reaction is to cry.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Cuteness In My Inbox

I love when I open up my email to photos from friends and family - especially if those photos are of cute things!! I am sad to live so far away from the cute things that are happening to people I love, but seeing pictures makes it easier. Here are a couple that I got sent recently:

Uncle Si, Aunt Dan, and Fi's new puppy
Sent In An Email From Mom
I hope to meet this little ball of fluff (black lab) the weekend after Thanksgiving when I head down to the cottage to help with some Fall chores. If he doesn't visit the cottage than I hope to pop in to see him on the drive back to Toronto.

Avery Trying To Climb The Couch
Sent In An Email From Aimee
I don't know when I am going to get a chance to see this adorable face next. They aren't coming home for Christmas and it is hard to find time to get out to Edmonton. He is getting so big!!

Monday, 5 October 2015

My Opinion Of Wedding Trends

I haven't written a lot about wedding planning, it is ticking along slowly but in general I haven't been thinking about it - unless, I am actually thinking about it, then I am a bit stressed about it. It is strange that way. Jason and I have our locations sorted out, a general idea of what we would like to happen at the event, and most of the planning pretty much finished. Now it is just the doing, the putting together of things, the writing of things, actually making the wedding happen - not just planning for it.

Erin sent me a Buzzfeed post - 17 Trends That Appeared at Literally Every Wedding in 2015 - and I thought I would use it as a jump off point to start thinking and talking about wedding planning more on Always Standing.

1. Cupcakes
This is not a new trend, Taylor had them at her wedding four years ago and three years ago Mike and Aimee did as well. I think I saw them at weddings even before that. They are easier to serve and tend not to be as pricey as a big decorated cake, also some locations charge a 'cake cutting fee' which is ridiculous.

2. Peonies
I don't know how accurate my opinions can be about this list since I don't think I even went to any weddings in 2015, it has been a quiet year. However, I love peonies, we used to have the deep red ones in Paris growing up. What a lovely flower choice! So big and soft.

3. Sweet buffets
This is just an awesome trend. It too has been around for a while and is a great idea. I love candy.

4. Vintage suitcase for cards
This is all over wedding websites lately. The only time I ever saw it was at Kristen's bridal shower, which was travel themed so it made sense.

5. Wooden signposts
I have also noticed this all over wedding websites.

6. Ampersands
Oh, who doesn't like Ampersands?! I can't even use them here because they mess up the HTML coding on Always Standing. I don't really see how this is a trend, I am sure that is has pretty much been used off and on for all of wedding/writing history.

7. Naked cakes
Definitely a 2015 trend. I personally think that the icing is the best part of a cake, but then again a lot of wedding cakes are decorated using marzipan which is super gross. Marzipan makes the cake look very pretty and they can do great sculpture-like things with it, but it just doesn't taste good. So I like the choice of no icing over that, but really would prefer a good icing on there.

8. Those giant balloons
I guess these are a thing? Maybe not in Canada

9. Bunting
The first time I saw this was at Jenn and Jon's wedding. It was so pretty. The one that they had hanging up was very delicate, usually on wedding websites the type of bunting shown is more casual.

10. Wildflowers in jars (bonus points for twine and/or lace)
Hey, bet this is cheap to do! Though I am sure it is often done by florists, venues, and event planners at a massive wedding premium, which sort of defeats the whole purpose.

11. Blackboard Signs
It is a bit 'hipster' but it they are washed off and reused then it is a great idea. Often it is more of an aesthetic look than true blackboards.

12. Bridesmaids in multiway dresses
I used to have a multiway dress, actually more than one, and they are awesome. However, having different types of styles in the same fabric, like we did at Steph's wedding, or even having the same dress with different necklines has been done for a while.

13. Birdcages
I feel like these were big in the 80s, but then at the same time they can be quite hipster too.

14. Wedding flipflops
This is expensive and difficult to do - think about all the different sizes. It is a fun idea because heels hurt! I always bring my own flip flops to weddings.

15. Light up letters
I have not seen this at an actual wedding but it is a big thing right now, for both weddings and home decor. It is probably all over Pinterest (which I don't have) and I have definitely seen it on Buzzfeed.

16. Photobooths
For a while people would bring in the old-school mall-style photobooths sometimes, but now lots of people just have their photographer set up one during the reception. These are a really fun idea, not a recent trend and not a passing fad. If anything the video booths are less common and the photobooths are around to stay.

17. Mismatched bridesmaids
This doesn't happen as much as this list suggests. Maybe different necklines like I mentioned before, or different dresses, or even different shades within a shared colour - but full on mismatched isn't that common.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Here On Earth

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

Missing my dad today. Partially because Jason and I watched The Martian at the theatre this afternoon. Dad would have liked it, this is why I think so:

Ridley Scott
He enjoyed a lot of Ridley Scott's movies: Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and probably more.

Matt Damon
Dad really liked Matt Damon (and who doesn't), right from his start with Good Will Hunting, and in many films but especially as Jason Bourne.

Great Space Movie
The movie Armageddon reminds me of my dad, there is also a dad-daughter storyline that helps with that too. I would say that it is a 'great space movie' but it might be a bit of a stretch for others to consider it as such. I would parallel The Martian more with Apollo 13, though the later is based on true events, As a great space action epic, Dad would have liked The Martian.

It just came out last weekend (though it premiered at TIFF last month), go see it! The Martian was an awesome movie. It comes highly recommended by me, and I know it would have come recommended by Dad too.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Cat Logic

------ found online (from Tessa)

Not my photo - Found online

Check out the HUGE list of hilarious examples HERE.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Meds For The Body And The Mind

I take two types of medication for my depression every evening. I know they do different things for me but I can never remember which does which. Well, after missing a dose of Effexor Thursday evening and having an embarrassing meltdown at work on Friday (starting crying for no real reason, went for a walk, couldn't stop, had to go home early) I now have a good handle on the different functions of the medications as they work with my body and brain.

Effexor - 3 pink pills - My Body
When don't take these drugs my body becomes depressed and tend to cry. Even while I am crying my mind is thinking, "But, I am happy. This is great. What the F is going on?" It is a very surreal experience to have your body react emotionally without feeling the corresponding emotions.

These drugs are a bit tricky because they are a heavy sedative. If I take them in the morning or during the day I pass out within about 15 minutes - they knock me out cold. I take them at night and when I forget to I have a tendency to just miss the dose. However, they have a half-life and deplete out of my system fairly quickly.

However when these drugs aren't in my system the effect is weird and embarrassing, not particularly dangerous since I still feel fine, my body is just behaving like I don't. I can usually take a does and that improves in a few hours.

Wellbutrin - 1 white pill - My Thoughts
My other medication stops what I consider to be the 'true depression' that I suffer from. When I miss it I start thinking horrible thoughts. I start thinking a lot of about suicide, not making plans, just obsessing about the concept. I think I am worthless and that everyone hates me.

I am scared to miss taking these pills. When I forget at night I take one the next morning and it doesn't matter. However I am very careful to avoid missing a dose. It takes a while for the drug to stop working and the thoughts to return. (And I don't really notice that it is happening, because it just feels natural to have these types of thoughts.) I think missing two doses is probably when it starts to really happen. But I feel like that is dangerous and I work hard not to let it happen.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Quote Of The Day

"There may be said to be two classes of people in the world; those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes, and those who do not." 
-- Robert Benchley

I am the former, for sure! For an interesting history of the saying above, check out the Quote Investigator.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Where I Get It From - Fitness Edition

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

My dad was quite athletic and liked to be active. He played squash at a local racquet club multiple times a week until his hip issues required him to stop. I am less active but here is where I get some of my fitness inclinations.

Running: Mom - She started in the early 2000s when helping me train for my misguided desire to apply for RMC, then she stuck with it for a while. Running was too boring for my Dad and it hurt his joints, if he joined us on a jog he would try to run beside us in the grass because it was softer. (And also did funny 'extras' like running backwards, or arm workouts, or cheering us on.)
Biking: Both - My mom and dad did a few bike trips together, (and we did biking day trips a lot as a family). They liked rail trails because of the gradual hills. I am now using my his bike since mine was stolen this summer.
Swimming: Mom - My mom used to swim at the YMCA when she worked in downtown Brantford. She has always liked swimming and been very good at it.
Yoga: Mom - She now does it each morning when she wakes up. Though similar to the running, it may have been me that got her into it initially.
Fitness Classes: Neither - My mom goes to them more than my dad ever did but in general it is more my thing. I love spinning classes.
Competitive Sports: Dad -  My dad liked the challenge of competition. When he sailed he preferred to race. His squash playing was competitive and he was parts of multiple leagues for it. My mom plays volleyball in the winter but says that they don't really keep score.
Team Sports: Neither - I played a few years of baseball growing up and a lot of soccer. However, my parents weren't really into team sports themselves. My mom prefers solitary fitness activities and my dad was social with his squash but it is still an individual sport. Keelboat sailing is as closest thing to team sports that they ever seriously participated in. As I have gotten older I have also moved away from this type of fitness activity.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Business Cat

Great comic! The Adventures of Business Cat by Tom Fonder:


Go HERE to see a cute list of situations that are all too familiar to cat owners.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Me In Peanuts

I guess the Peanuts movie is coming out next month and as part of the promotion you can make yourself into a character. This is me:


Make your own HERE.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Ritual And Happiness

According to my Book List 2012, I was reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project in February of 2012 and I was quoting it that same month. I really liked the book and have since passed it on to friends to read. Teri liked it. K had a very adverse reaction to it and in fact couldn't finish reading it. I do agree with many of K's points but I still found the suggestions insightful.

I just started another 'self-help' style book by Rubin, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. I love rituals and routines (I don't like to think of them as habits, though they are) so it has been an enjoyable read so far.

My love of rituals drew me to the title of a recent Time magazine article: 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy, According to Neuroscience. As detailed in the article, these rituals are:
- Feeling gratitude
- Labeling negative emotions
- Making decisions 
- Touching 

I am pretty good at the middle two on that list. I am very decisive, which eliminates a lot of the worry, anxiety, and stress that I see in less decisive people. Years of therapy, with various practitioners, has helped me identity things I am feeling and I try to acknowledge them aloud. I don't really like 'touching' and am not a fan of hugging. Luckily, I think Jason fills enough of that component to keep my happy.

The thing that I really really need to work on is the first point of the article - gratitude. It shows up everywhere as an important factor in happiness!! Scientist prove it all the time that it helps with depression and anxiety. It isn't that I take things for granted (though I do) it is just that the idea of gratitude doesn't have a permanent place in my life. Actually, with less and less people practicing religion, rarely does anyone take time to be grateful for the things in their lives. "Things I am grateful for" seems like a boring journal or blog to keep but is scientifically proven as beneficial to do. I need to work on it somehow.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Happy Belated Birthday to Teri!

Teri's birthday was yesterday, though we celebrated on Sunday with another Escape Room. We were supposed to all go out for dinner but I went home to bed because I was too hungover. The Escape Room was a bit different than other ones I have done, there were about 20 teams (of 6 people) all doing it at the same time. Only 3 of us escaped and I believe we were the first ones. Maybe I am better at this type of stuff when I am hung over? Actually I think it is just a very smart, and fairly balanced group. Having K's math skills helped a lot too.

The Dream Team Of Escaping!
Matt, Greg, Teri, Jason, Me, and K in the front

I am pretty bad at remembering birthdays. As friends for well over 20 years now, Teri is one of the few birthdays I actually know, though when the time comes I am not that on top of it. Found this quote on Twitter and I feel like it applies, "Your secrets are safe with me because I literally won't remember them. This also applies to your birthday. Your birthdays are safe with me."

Sunday, 13 September 2015

This Is My Fight Song

Weekend trip to Niagara Falls and I returned with the following:

- Shin pain from dancing
- Promises of Journey Behind The Falls and Wizard Golf next year
- A bottle of wine with my art on the label
- Chocolate covered beer nuts
- A losing mini putt score but joy about a hole-in-one
- Rachel Platten in my head, still with incorrect lyrics
- New definition for Liquid Gold (breast milk)
- A killer hangover that lasted for 3 days

Hornblower Again - I take a good selfie
Me, Tessa, Kiyomi, Taylor, and Kristen in front

We are making it an annual thing, this is the second year in a row.

Friday, 28 August 2015

2 Months - 5 Pounds

I mentioned back in June that I was starting the Curves Diet again. I hope that combining that with spinning will help me lose weight. It is working, but an an insanely slow pace!

At the end of June I bought a fancy scale that could measure body fat and muscle mass as well as weight. I think it could also tell me my BMI but I find that BMI is a problematic measurement, since it is completely tied to weight. Muscle weighs more than fat, it is much better to have muscles and less fat, just looking at weight is missing some key results of the difficult lifestyle changes I am making. I much prefer to monitor my body fat percentage and try to lower that number, while also watching my muscle mass percentage, trying to raise that one.

So, in the two months (June 26 to August 28) that I have had the scale and been tracking (each Friday morning) my body's reaction to eating healthier and exercising more I have noted the following changes:

Lost 5 pounds
Lost 1.5% body fat
Gained 0.5% muscle mass

The time period includes my trip with Teri for two weeks along the west coast of the USA. The numbers are moving in the right direction but it is not going as quickly as I would like.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

A-cute Angle

-----------from Facebook (found by Jenn)


Saturday, 8 August 2015

Travel Diary - Saturday August 8, 2015

Date: Saturday August 8, 2015
Theme/Title: It's All Over
Overview: The San Diego Airport is right near downtown. It took no time at all to drive over there in the morning. We returned the rental car only to find out that the company charged us to add extra drivers (Jason and Greg) when they had previously said that they wouldn't. Teri went to get it corrected and was successful. We hung out in the airport waiting for our flight, I found a Starbucks to have a smoothie for breakfast. Had a direct flight back from San Diego to Toronto with no issues. Went through customs with  60 pashminas bought in San Francisco Chinatown for Jason and my wedding without a problem. Jason picked us up at the airport and drove us downtown for dinner at Greg's pop-up restaurant.
Meals: Amazing food at the August weekend pop-up for the restaurant concept Greg and his friend are working on - Satay Street is going to be a hit!
Highlight of the Day: Finding out we put 2,144 miles (3,500 km) on the rental car!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Travel Diary - Friday August 7, 2015

Date: Friday August 7, 2015
Theme/Title: California Girls
Overview: I woke up early to go to a free yoga class offered at the hotel - there were just two of us and it was very enjoyable. We had breakfast at the healthy cafe next to the hotel. Teri and I drove to La Jolla for a kayaking tour we had booked online. It had been cheaper to get a double kayak instead of two individual ones, so Teri and I shared. I was in the back 'steering' since I am heaver. Our tour featured the 7 Caves and the guides were amazing, we learnt a lot about the local culture, history, geology, and marine life. We even saw Dr. Seuss' house. The kayaks fit in the last of the seven caves and the guides took us in a few at a time. There were so many sea lions!! They were jumping in and out of the water, rolling around, playing everywhere, even really close to people swimming and snorkeling nearby - we were so close I was scared of accidentally hitting one with my paddle. Unlike elephant seals, the California Sea Lion is small and super cute. On our way back to shore, Ter and I tipped in the shallows from the waves. Besides getting ourselves soaked, Teri's SLR also got wet but luckily the case kept it dry enough. Ter and I had both assumed that the kayaks would be the covered type but they were not. I got a terrible burn on my shins since I skipped the sunscreen there, assuming my legs would be tucked under plastic. After the tour we spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the beach. Teri helped me with math problems from my GMAT book and we read - it was so sunny, warm, and beautiful. In the early evening we drove for a bit around the shoreline looking for seals but didn't see any. We went to the Old Town for dinner and had Mexican again. Back at the hotel we finished the Scientology documentary before bed.
Woke-up: 8:30am for free yoga at The Sofia Hotel
Transportation/Distance: 2 hours kayaking. Minimal driving.
Meals: The Power Bowl from Tender Greens. Frozen yogurt on the beach. Burrito at Los Locos in Old Town.
Highlight of the Day: Seeing the sea lions was so much fun!
Lesson Learnt: That the 'J' in La Jolla is pronounced as an 'H' and the double 'L' is a 'Y' sound. So instead of La Jolla it is pronounced La Hoy-a.
Quote of the Day: Me (driving) to Teri (navigating) "Oh, so Juan like J-U-A-N? Yeah, we have passed that street like 5 times. Sorry I had been looking for W-A-N-D. When I kept seeing J-U-A-N, I thought that was Jew-An Street. Grrrr, Spanish."
Night's Accommodation: The Sofia Hotel, San Diego

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Travel Diary - Thursday August 6, 2015

Date: Thursday August 6, 2015
Theme/Title: As We Rode on the 10 Down to Venice Again
Overview: I bought a few eggs from the front desk at the hostel, 50 cents each, to make for breakfast. Teri and I then drove to Northern L.A. for a tour of the Warner Brother's Studio. Since we were near Hollywood, we made sure to drive past "the sign" on our way south again. We had a nice walk in Venice Beach, checked out the canals, went along the Ocean Front Walk, saw some interesting shops, handball courts, Muscle Beach, and had lunch. We spent the afternoon doing our final drive along coast. This stretch of the drive continued with what I loved yesterday:
It was what I had always envisioned for California. We passed through Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. We got to San Diego in the early evening, parked the car at a garage a few blocks away from our hotel and checked in. We were very close to the Gaslamp Quarter, which has tons of amazing restaurants. We went to one for Mexican. After dinner we returned to our hotel to watch the first half of a Scientology Documentary.
Woke-up: 6:00am at the Long Beach Hostel, just outside our room door was a view down the hall straight out to the ocean.
Transportation/Distance: Drove: 250 km
Meals: Scrambled eggs made in the hostel kitchen. Lunch on the beach, take out from El Huarique (Peruvian). I tried ceviches for the first time, (I had no idea what I was ordering) and it was amazing. Huge Mexico City Salad with Arranchera Steak from La Puerta with some margaritas.
Highlight of the Day: Just driving down the coast from L.A. to San Diego. Listening to music in the car with my best friend.
Lesson Learnt: The Greater Los Angeles Area is sprawling with terrible traffic, I am so grateful that Teri drove for most of the day.
Song of the Day: Drinking in L.A. by Bran Van 3000
Quote of the Day: Teri: This totally looks like it did on Laguna Beach... Yeah, I used to watch all those shows back in university. Chris: Hey, I can't judge. I watch The Bachelor now.
Night's Accommodation: The Sofia Hotel, in the financial district of downtown San Diego

Seriously LA?!

Teri and I have been driving through L.A. all day. Every time I go on my phone to see the traffic and pick the best route for us to drive it looks like a variation on this:
This is an actual screen shot taken from my phone!
Seriously, the worst drivers, tons of accidents, so much traffic, and no public transit to be found.

A $12 Million Pun

3,849 Square Feet with Ocean Views
Venice Beach, Las Angeles, California, USA
August 6, 2015
Taken by ME with my phone

Even with the terrible sailing pun, I would still take it! I bet $12 million is a good deal too. I don't think I would really like living in The States though, that part would be the tough sell.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Travel Diary - Wednesday August 5, 2015

Date: Wednesday August 5, 2015
Theme/Title: The 'Real' Coast
Overview: Woke up and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. I finished watching Citizen Kane as we packed up our room. The night before we had seen an "elephant seal viewing point" sign a few miles before the hotel, so we went to see that before our Hearst Castle tour. Elephant Seals are not the cute ones! But they are really fun to watch - there were a few honking at each other and playing in the shallows and a big cuddle party on the shore. Babies too!
I know they look like they are dead, but they are just lazy and sleeping. There was a fair amount of noise and movement but it is hard to capture with my phone camera. Elephant Seals are so massive and it makes them pretty awkward moving across the sand, they stop to rest so much that it takes them forever to get anywhere. They honk at each other and sometimes bite their neighbour. Some were using their flippers to throw sand up on their backs. (They also small really bad.) After watching the seals for a bit we went on our tour of Hearst Castle, which was beautiful. Before heading off on our long drive south, we went to a local fishing pier beside a small beach to dip our feet in the ocean for the first time. Teri and I took a quick walk through Cambria to get some lunch. We drove down the coast and by the time we got to Sana Barbra it was time for dinner, I was using my phone to search for a place to eat - specifically Mexican food - when I discovered that we were arriving during their annual Spanish festival complete with food stands. We made our way into the center of the city (free parking, very impressive) and walked through the festival grounds. We grabbed dinner at one of the various food stalls and browsed the other vendors. There was live music and lots of people selling strange confetti eggs which looked really fun! A few more hours driving brought us passed Santa Monica, I could see the lit up pier - it looked quite intense at night. We stopped for the night at a hostel in Long Beach.
Woke-up: 7:00am with a view of the ocean at San Simeon Lodge
Transportation/Distance: Drove 405 km
Meals: Poached Eggs at San Simeon Beach Bar and Grill. Picked up some baby carrots, cheese strings, and dried peas at a grocery store for lunch. Fish tacos from a food stand at the Old Spanish Days Fiesta in Santa Barbra.
Highlight of the Day: The drive along the coast at the Sana Monica Mountains, passed Malibu, was beautiful. It was just how I pictured the California coast in my head - sand beaches, palm trees, lush hills, amazing mansions, exclusive looking clubs, bright sun, and a perfect blue ocean.
Lesson Learnt: Even if you buy your tickets online ahead of time for an attraction, you still need to show up with a lot of time to spare in case there is a long line to pick them up. Teri and I thought we went to Hearst Castle early enough for our tour but only just made it onto the bus in the nick of time. The line to pick-up pre-purchased  tickets was the same as the one to buy them, so it moved very slowly.
Song of the Day: "Sana Monica" by Theory of a Deadman
Night's Accommodation: Hostelling International San Pedro, South Bay (Long Beach)