Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Google slowly takes over the universe...

I've just started playing around with Google Notebook, and I'm loving it so far! I've heard of this software from a monthly email that I get from Google. So I decided to try it out for my hunt for accommodations in Edinburgh when we go in September.

I was a little apprehensive at first when I was told that I had to install a little plug-in. After all we are discouraging our users from installing Google Toolbar as there have been reports that some of your information on your computer can get stored elsewhere. Serious security breeches for us. (And really, if you need a tool to find a file or content on your computer, you really need to organize yourself better).

However, it definitely integrates nicely with my Firefox version 1.5 browser. I'm guessing that the good folks at Google are using some form of AJAX to get the tool working?

In any case, it's pretty darn cool. Now instead of bookmarking sites and trying to remember information that I've read all over the place, and writing it down, I can put everything in one place. I particularly like the drag-and-drop features as well as the ease of being able to add something (whether it be text or images) to my notebook with a click of the mouse button. Plus, you can publish the page to the Internet should you choose too. Neat!

So far, my only complaint is that sometimes it adds a new note instead of adding to a current one, but this may mean that I have to learn how to work around it's limitations.

But I still give it a thumbs up. If anyone knows me well enough, I HATE paper, and I would rather do away with it altogether. This is definitely a step in the right direction for me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Let's make a deal - a summary

So after talking with IT Plumber/Janitor about my long London post, I've decided to give you a summary.

Looking for a place in London was very painful and complicated by my criteria:
  • it needs to have two bathrooms (you don't get your own ensuite with anything under 3 stars)
  • it needs to be near Hyde park so hubby can go running
  • it needs to be near a tube station
  • it needs to be cheap
So after my sister introduced me to, we managed to get two hotel rooms, rated 3.5 stars for the price of a 1 star hotel room. And all criteria met. Whoo!

Edinburgh is proving to be a little more difficult. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 29, 2006

New Sofa!

New sofa:

Chair and a half

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Let's Make a Deal

So as some of you may know, I am going to London/Scotland with my family (me, hubby, sis and mum) in September. I was given the task of looking for accomodation, and I've only realized now that I had 3.5 months left before the big trip. So this past week, I went looking. And looking. And getting very depressed. And getting very stressed.

Here are my problems:
  • London is huge
  • London is very expensive
  • There are about 10 billion different accomodation choices
So this past week, I was re-learning their system of how they rank their hotels and rooms, which is somewhat different than in North America. This is down partially to show you my challenge and as a reference for me should I decide to visit the UK again sometime in the future.

Hotel Classes (as I understand them, and oh, star ratings for the same hotel vary depending on the site you're looking at. It seems no one can agree on even that):
  • 1 star: you're lucky to get a bed, mattress is very questionable, and don't look to hard, you won't see the dirt. Depending on the area, it's under £50 pounds per night
  • 2 stars: you have a bed, but you share a bathroom with other strangers. Price is about £50 - £75
  • 2.5 stars: you get your own bathroom, but it's a 2x3 (literaly, I've seen pics) shower that's really a part of the room. The drain is in the middle of the bathroom floor.
  • 3 stars: you get your own bathroom, and hopefully with a tub. Cleanliness is questionable. Your room and bathroom are still closets, but they may start providng more services (like a hairdryer and trouser press in your room). About £70-120, again depending on the area
  • 3.5 stars: the place is somewhat cleaner and nicer, more services. £80 - £170.
  • 4 stars: your room is much bigger (in London standards anyways), and much nicer. £130 - £200+
  • 5 stars: living in luxury. Don't even ask about the price.
And here are the room options:
  • Single twin: one person, one twin bed
  • Double: two people, one double bed (their version of Queen a lot of times is two twins pushed together)
  • Two twins: two people, two twin beds
  • Triple: three people, either one double and a twin, or three twins
  • Quad: four people, and it's a combination of the above for beds, and also includes sofa-beds, trundle beds and air mattresses (hard to find)
  • Family room: be careful, this a lot of times means that it's for three people, not four or more.
My challenges:
  • My sister wanted two bathrooms (long story)
  • Hubby wanted to be near Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens, so he can do his early morning jogs
  • Do it cheaply (cheap and London are oxymorons)
My options:
  • Rent a self-service apartment (a challenge unto itself). Many units, despite the fact that they can house 4-6 only have one bathroom. You'll be lucky to get two bathrooms. (Londoners probably would be shocked to find out that I have three toilets in my house, and it's only me and hubby)
  • Book a quad room from a hotel. Again, the one bathroom problem, and dicey bed choices
  • Book two double rooms in a hotel
  • Book a single and a triple room in a hotel
My Goal: So I was aiming for a 3-4 star place with the combined total of no more than £150-200 per night, near the parks and with two bathrooms. At a place with pretty good ratings and near a tube station. A very tall order. (I been checking out this site a lot for reviews and prices).

So I started writing looking, writing down places, inquiring, doing more searching, changing my search criteria, showed hubby about 40 thousand potentials, more searching...

My sister came up last night (she's going on an Alaskan cruise, I seriously don't know where she get's the money. Oh wait, she earns more than me. Duh). And I presented her with my problem. She told me about a site that she goes looking on a lot. has a lot of travel deals. You put in your search parameters, and they return a list of deals. The kicker is that they don't tell you exactly what you're booking for until after you book it.

So in my list, the best deal was two rooms in a 3.5 star in the Kensington/Earls Court/Knightsbridge area for $83 USD per night. Yes, that is very bloody cheap.

So after a great deliberation and a bit of guesswork as to which hotel it may be, we decided suck it in and deal with the consequences and pressed the "Submit" button. The result.....

A Holiday Inn. And not just any Holiday Inn. According to their website, they are 4 star, and they are the largest Holiday Inn in the world. Plus, it's near a tube station, in a very nice area, we have two bathrooms, and it's a 10 mins walk to the park (hubby can probably run there in about 3).

And the total costs? It worked out total to be under £45 per night for each room (for a total of under £90 per night). BAWHAHAHAHAHAH! ROCKS!

Now onto Scotland... sigh.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

This 'n that

(Sorry, this has turned out to be one long rant, something I don't normally do. IT Plumber/Janitor, you might as well skip this post as I'll rant to you later anyways).

Today I had a very overwhelming day. I'm stressed because of school, I'm stressed because of work, and I'm stressed because I'm looking for a place to stay for our London/Scotland trip.

First, work: I have a deadline coming up next week, and things were not looking good for a while. I was banging my head against a brick wall for almost two weeks. The thing about IT is that things either work or they don't work. If they don't work, it can take weeks, or even months to fix the problem. I don't have weeks, I have several days. And I stayed late at work, instead of going to the gym, to make sure this piece was finally working. It was, thanks to the help of my co-worker "D" who is absolutely brilliant.

Anyways, my deadline is still looming, and what I still have to do keeps piling up as I took so long dealing with this other problem. I feel a bit better, but it ain't over yet. (I also had to go to the mall to get some baked goods as tomorrow is my turn for cookies at the weekly meeting).

Second, school project: I will sit down and actually write a detailed post of what's been going on with my school, as I've been giving very vague answers to everyone. School is complicated, and it's stressful. I have deadlines every two months, but believe me, I prefer that to the state it was in before. Like I said, wait for that post for more details.

Third, vacation planning: It seems that a lot of places ask for either a deposit or full payment up front, so you have to do your homework and you have act FAST! I managed to find a really sweet deal in Mayfair of all places (a really swanky part of London where a lot of famous people live). However they want full payment, not a problem. Except they want it done through Western Union.

As of today, I hate Western Union. They make it so bloody difficult to send money to someone. I spent close to an hour on the phone being sent around in a circle with an automated voice. Someone definitely hasn't tested all the paths on their system to see that they actually offer the service that they bloody advertise. And they are charging an exorbitant amount of money for the transfer! Highway robbery, that's all I can say. Well, hubby is suppose to wire the money tomorrow. Cross fingers that we get the money there in time so I can confirm the booking.

This leads to my final gripe. I haven't gone to the gym at all since last Friday. I normally go 4-5 times a week. I need to exercise to help alleviate my stress levels (my stress got really bad a couple of years ago, and I've done some damage, so I try to be careful as to how much stress I can handle nowadays), and to help me sleep.

I tend to need about 9 hours of sleep. I'm lucky if I get 7. They say that for every hour of sleep you lose, it takes 4 hours of sleep to make up for it. So if I lose 2 hours of sleep every day, 2 * 7 * 4 = A whole whackload of sleep that I need to make up during the day. Bah.

I've been progressively been getting more stressed out and more tired because I'm having trouble sleeping. It's the chicken and egg scenario.

My day typically goes like this:
6.30 AM - get up and get ready for work
8.00 - 4 .00 - work
5 -ish - gym time
between 6-7 - eat dinner
7.00 - 9.00 - do EVIL homework
9.00 - 10.00 - wash dishes and try to do devotions
10.00 - 10.30 - stretch and allow my body to wind down
10.30 - 11.00 - go to bed

This has not been happening lately. I've also been eating a lot of crap, and thus gaining back the 5 or so pounds that I've been in vain trying to lose. Bah.


I LOVE this show! Last night's season finale was awesome! Here are my thoughts:
  • I'm not entirely convinced that Desmond brought down the plane. Don't forget that the plane had been flying off course for 2 hours already, something else was causing that. The fact that Desmond saw the System Failure had occurred about the same time as the plane crash is speculation on his part, IMO.
  • I don't think Eko, Locke and Desmond are dead. The Others I think know exactly what had happened, they didn't even seemed fazed that it happened.
  • I think we'll see Michael and Walt again. Michael has a lot to do to redeem himself, although I'm curious about the looked that passed between him and Jack. He was annoying me big time though.
  • Charlie was acting weird, really weird
  • My question: Okay, if you don't press the button, all hell breaks loose. What would have happened if Desmond didn't turn the key? I'm still not convinced that the key does anything. They've only left us with the impression that the key does something.

So many questions! I don't think anything was answered, only implied. And of course what would Lost be without more questions?

I've also discovered this site to get my Lost fix.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Things to do while in London...

This looks mighty interesting. And it's opening a week before I get there. Whoo!

£15 is a bit steep for admissions though.

Why is this so hard?

After some mental calculations, I'd realized this morning that there is only 3.5 months before we go on our England trip. I was given the task to look for accommodations. It's harder than it looks.

I decided that I didn't want to stay in a hotel like we did on our London trip last year. I wanted something with a kitchenette, or at the very least, a microwave and bar fridge. I found last time that I'd rather go to the local Tesco and buy my own breakfast and lunch nibbles. Also, I'm not a big eater, so being able to put things in a fridge to eat the next day would've helped with the expense somewhat.

I had a couple of constraints. First, there are four of us. Second, there is no way in hell we are going to share a loo with other people, we have enough trouble getting along amongst ourselves as it is. In fact, my sister had requested that we find a place with two toilets. Great. (As an aside for the uninitiate, 3 stars in London means that you get a loo to yourself as oppose to sharing with strangers).

So I Googled for Apartment rentals in London. Let me tell you that there are about a bajilliion sites out there, and about 80% of them are really poorly put together, the rest being barely passable. Nothing turns me off more than a really poorly designed site.

What have I discovered so far? That renting is just as expensive. Renting a place with two toilets is even more expensive. Having more than one toilet in many English households is actually a bit of a luxury. I'm trying to determine what my upper limit in terms of price will be, and let me tell you, it keeps going up. Not to mention that I had foolishly waited until now to book something, a lot of the places that I was considered were already taken. Wah!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Movie Review: The Da Vinci Code

SPOILER ALERT for both movie and book (don't say I didn't warn ya!)

After reading a lot of bad reviews for the movie, I had to take a step back and un-remember what was in the novel and ignore pretty much what was being said in the press regarding the movie. So I sat back and tried to enjoy the movie for what it is.

Quick Points - Things I Liked:
  • Sir Ian McKellen: His acting was superb as always, and pretty much stole the show.
  • Paul Bettany: despite the makeup, still has a yummy body, and was a half-decent crazed monk.
  • The computer graphics were seamless and very believable
  • For those who haven't read the book, they had changed the ending slightly, but it still worked in context of the movie plot
  • I thought they did a creditable job explaining all the history, etymology, symbolism stuff in the book
  • The action and suspense were well done.
  • It followed the book fairly closely
  • Audrey Tautou: she's hot (at least I think so). You gotta hand it to the French for propagating such beautiful women. If hubby were ever re-marry, he should try French =P
Things I didn't like:
  • Tom Hanks: B-O-R-I-N-G. Sorry, but his acting wasn't remarkable, and I still think they could have casted better.
  • Audrey Tautou: She was also boring. But the worst part was that I felt zero chemistry between her and Tom Hanks. Also I don't think her character was very well developed in the movie
  • My friend "N" said that there was too much talking. For those who've read the book, you may feel that way, but the background information is mainly for those who are unfamiliar with the story.
  • Although I felt that the book's plot was a bit dodgy, it became even more apparent on screen. Plus there were a lot of unaccounted-for plot holes that wouldn't have made sense to those who hadn't read the book.
  • They changed the ending. I still think that the book's ending was better. It would have made it more meaningful for Sophie and not seem like such a cop-out.
After all that, I give the movie 7 out of 10. Enjoyable enough on it's own, but the script needs more work. Watch the movie first then read the book to fill in the holes.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

It's all in the name

This post is dedicated to my friend "P", who asked me the meaning behind the name of my blog.

Fibbertigibbet happens to be my favourite word in the English language. I have no idea where I had picked up this word, but it has been with me since I was a teenager.

It was originally defined to me as "a frivolous and flighty female" (say that 3 times fast!). actually had it as a Word of the Day, andMerriam-Webster online tells me that the etymology goes back to the times when Middle English was en vogue. (eg in Chaucer's time). Cool!

I've actually seen this archaic word in two different novels, one that was fairly old, and I wished that I'd remember the title of the book. The other instance was in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban, Chapter 15. It was used as a password to get into the Gryffendor common room. I've actually contemplated writing to JK Rowling to not only commend her use of my favourite word but keeping such an archaic thing alive and kicking. Haven't written to her yet.

So the million-dollar question now becomes, "Is Weed a flibbertigibbet?" You'll need to ask the hubby, he's the best judge of me. =P

Red Eggs and Ginger

Tonight, I went to my friend's baby's one-month birthday celebration. Well, she's actually 2 months now, but still it's a time to celebrate. For those of you who have never heard of this particular Chinese celebration, you can read more about it here.

Normally, we would go to a Chinese restaurant for this sort of dinner. However, my friends decided to do something a little different. We went to the Cafe Pacifica at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Every Friday and Saturday night, they have the Italian Opera Buffet. Let me tell you that the food was absolutely fabulous! They had a roasted vegetable ravioli that was absolutely yummy, and the chocolate mousse was to die for. The rest of the food was equally appitizing. The view and singing was excellent. All in all, a really enjoyable evening. Hubby and I will definitely go back someday.

Book Review: Da Vinci Code

Following my usual habit of trying to read the novel before viewing the movie, I went out and bought The Da Vinci Code from Chapters. Mostly, I was curious to see what all the hoopla was about. I've just finished the book, and here are my thought about it.

I have to say, right off the bat, I was disappointed in the book. I suppose that it was because of all the rave reviews that I've heard from other people that my expectations were high. Never having read a book in this type of gendre before (well, never to the end), I really hope other books of the same gendre won't be as disappointing.

There was too much detail, and it actually got boring at times. I spoke to someone at work who read through a 1/4 of the book before she stopped reading it, it was so boring for her.

Much of the plot hinges on very specific historical information and facts. In fact, the information is so specific, if Brown didn't detail out the intricacies, some of the story's rationale may not make sense. For me, the pagan history, symbology and etymology lessons were mildly interesting, but that's it. The constant repetition of rose symbology is one of the pivotal themes in the book, but it got a little too repetitious for me.

This book sort of reminded me of a murder thriller book I tried to read many years ago (sorry, can't remember the title or author). The author of this book was a real-life forensic scientist, and her specialty was blood splatter patterns. Yeah, the same sort of thing that they talk about on CSI. In this murder mystery, she goes into great depth about different types of blood splatter patterns, and how each pattern has a different meaning. While it was important to the plot that she had to go into that much depth to explain the character's reasoning, that book got tedious rather quickly. And so does The Da Vinci Code.

I think Sir Ian McKellen had expressed my feeling the best:
Sir Ian, who plays the Earl Grey-loving grail expert Sir Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code, said before the film's world premiere yesterday: "While I was reading the book I believed it entirely. Clever Dan Brown twisted my mind convincingly. "But when I put it down I thought, 'What a load of ... [eloquent pause] potential codswallop." [Source]
But of course, he didn't mention that he read ahead like I did. That's a sure sign for me that the book is dragging on. And I thought it was codswallop even before I finished the book, thanks to my reading ahead which allowed me to think about the events a little more thoroughly.

I suppose that what makes this book sensational is that Dan Brown plays up the theory that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene, and stuff like this upsets the Church. And anything that causes this much ruckus tends to draw people in. (Being a Christian myself, I have thought about it from a Christian point of view, but won't put them here as this is suppose to be a book review.)

I did feel that the action did translate fairly well from book to screen; in my head, I could actually see the action happening. (Someone asked me tonight if I had ever pictured anyone other than Tom Hanks in the role of Robert Langston. Since I saw many pictures and trailers for The Da Vinci Code already, I couldn't picture anyone but Tom Hanks, not that I'm a fan of his). However, as I mentioned before, as the book is already bogged down by too much detail that is important to the forward movement of the plot, I don't think that will translate well to film. I've already had indications of that from the dismal ratings the film's gotten so far. A friend of mine had already seen the movie and he was telling me bits about the plot, and from his narration, it may be as I feared, that they cut out a lot of detail to make the film. (And it's already 2.5 hours long). I'll know for certain once I see the movie tomorrow night.

Friday, May 19, 2006

KOOKY: Life and Death

What are two things that person have in common? We were all born into this world, and we will all leave this world through death.

You with think that being in IT, I would not get a chance to talk about these topics often, despite the fact that I work in the Faculty of Medicine. Well, you're wrong.


Right next door to our office is the Midwifery department and classrooms. Now before I proceed, I have nothing against midwives in general; in fact, I'll probably look into booking one when my time comes to pop the ankle-biter.

The classroom has about two or three of these birthing simulators. The door to the classroom is usually opened, with these truncated simulators just lying around for all to see. Namely myself and my other four male co-workers.

It's weird seeing a lower torso of a female body, with her amputated legs spread eagle. The female models, although at a glance you know is not real, is disturbing enough. But what makes it really freaky is the baby that's partly out of the vagina. Lying on the table. Coming out of a torso with no legs, upper body or head. Pretty creepy. Reminds me a lot of CSI.

And if I find this disturbing, just think about what my male co-workers must go through! But I suppose the apprentice midwives must learn on something.


During our operations meeting today, one of my fellow colleagues spoke of a database that they use in their department to track body donations. He went on and on about the process of body donation, something that I didn't even know there was even a process for. That's right, once you die, you can donate your body to science, to help the researchers find cures and to hopefully save mankind. It's the gift that keeps on giving. You'd be surprised how many calls our receptionist get regarding this.


I am by no means mocking either the midwives or the researchers, nor am I putting down those who choose to donate their body for scientific purposes. What they are doing is honourable. I am merely surprised that the entrance and exit of a human person was juxtaposed so uniquely in my day, so I had to share.

Ah, higher learning, you gotta love it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

KOOKY: A day in the life of...

For the past month, I've been actively gathering requirements and testing changes for an application that I normally support. Needless to say, it's been very tedious and a lot of back and forth between two groups of people; I really am the middle gal.

So today, after a bit more follow-up (read: nagging for information) on my part, I really felt that I wanted to run a sharp object through my eye.

Instead, I went to the Shopper's on campus for some balm for the soul: chocolate. What I've discovered is that there is more variety and at a cheaper price than at the vending machines, so I may be going there more often.

Anyways, right next door to the Shopper's, they are building a new Irish Pub. There was a guy out front who was canvassing all passerbyers for server jobs at the new pub that's going to open this July. (As an aside, hopefully the food there will be good and at a decent price. Campus food just bites after a while).

So I got it in my head that maybe I could work there as a barmaid. But they wouldn't hire me, I don't have the obligatory perky big boobs, I've got small saggy ones.

I had that thought for all of about three seconds before reality kicked in. I continued on to Shoppers and got my chocolate. Going back to my office, I walked by my bosses office, vented to him, and felt a bit better after that and a bite of chocolate.

Okay, I will admit that I'm a tad worried that we won't make the deadline due to some circumstances, but hey, it'll come together in the end.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Jane Austen, In Action

I need to me one of these. After all, I have a Captain Janeway/Locutus action figures wedding cake topper (that I made) and a cheap toy model of the Enterprise-D hanging over my desk at work.

Why not expand my collection of collectibles to my other love, Jane Austen, and what would be better than with a Jane Austen action figure?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

My new toy

I got a new toy today, a Nokia 6682. Review forthcoming, once I figure out a few more functions on the phone and actually have a chance to give it a good go at playing with it.

I did have a bit of a headache getting the phone. First, I wanted to switch to an corporate Employee plan. In the mall that I went to, there are three Rogers dealership. After doing a quick check, I found out that one was selling the phone cheaper than the other two. I'd always wondered why, but I was too excited to getting this phone to care. Plus said store had an extra $50 credit for some Mother's day promotion.

Well, I discovered that resellers don't have the permission to transfer existing Roger accounts to a Employee Corporate plan, but regular Roger dealers do. What a pain. (I also ran into a similar scenario with another Employee Plan that I was considering. Bah.)

So I eventually got the hardware and plan upgrade. I'm already suspecting that I'll need to purchase a special proprietary Nokia memory card, but that's a rant for another day. However, the phone is a smartphone, and it can run Java applications, so maybe one day when I have some time to fool around, I may actually develop an application and see if it'll work on my phone...

Yes, I'm a geek.

You don't get what you pay for

A few days ago, hubby and I left our house early in the morning to go to work. We got into my car, I started the engine, and went to put the car in reverse gear.

The gear would not go into reverse.

So hubby suggested that I put it in first gear to see if there was something wrong with the gearbox.

It wouldn't go into first gear.

I had a problem on my hands: an undriveable car. Anyways, we were late, so we hopped into the other car to get to work, figuring out that we'd tend to said problem later.

So yesterday, our friend "E" comes by to see what may be the problem, and get it working enough so I could bring it to the dealership for repair. Before "E" came over, I had called the dealership and asked when I was able to bring in the car. After briefly explaining my problem, they warned me that the clutch might replacing and that would cost $800! Needless to say, I had a mild heart attack.

So "E" takes a look at my clutch fluid, and the cylinder was completely empty. That meant one of two things: 1) there is a leak somewhere, but after a bit of looking around, he could really see a leak or 2) no one was checking the clutch fluid. "E" thinks that this was the more likely case as he didn't see signs of people trying to check the fluid levels (eg fingerprint in surrounding dirt).

I will keep an eye on the fluid level for a leak, but the evidence is pointing at the bozos at the car dealership who didn't check my fluid levels. Bah.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Big Brother is watching you

After about two months of waiting, I finally got an invitation to use the Google Analytics service. I will get to see, for example, where my visitors are from and how many people are viewing my blog each day.

Now I realize that this tool has waaaayyy more functionality than I require, but it gives me the information that I'm looking for via some snazzy-looking reports, plus it's free.

The Googlebots have been doing a very good job indexing my site. I was surprised the other day when one of the owners of Vera's Burger Shack commented on my blog posting. Actually, he commented on hubby's comment.

Curious to see how he managed to find the posting so quickly, I Googled in "Vera's Burger Shack comments" (minus the quotes of course) and lo and behold, my blog post was on the first page.

Even though it may only seem that a select number of people read my blog, I know logically that the entire Internet land has access to my blog, and if they look hard enough they will eventually find it. It was weird to see that someone that I didn't know, not only find my blog post, but comment on it as well. So, it should be interesting to see where my actual audience is and how they got here. Only time will tell...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hubby Does Marathon! - Pictoral Narrative

Instead of making the other post even longer, here's some pictures from the day. Dave's the guy in the dark blue long sleeved shirt with the dark cap...

The start of the race

You can read his story here.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hubby does a Marathon! - The (real) story

Hubby felt that my narrative of his half-marathon run wasn't good enough, so he decided to write one of his own. Okay, I wasn't there, but I thought I did a pretty bang up job telling the story.

I guess not.

So without further ado, the real story, all in hubby's own words...
(ETA: pictures can be found here)

Monkey off my back:

*** 2005:
  • training for half marathon (Vancouver International in May), feeling good, a few knee issues
  • did the Sun Run 2 weeks before the event for fun and ended up injuring my knee (Patella Femoral Syndrome) and can't walk properly, let alone run
  • tried two weeks of physio, several different modalities, but no go
  • swallowed the very big pill, but from the sidelines, watched my friend run the event herself (she did awesome, spot-on with her training!)
  • went through a more structured rehab program into the summer
  • started running and training in the Fall, and ran a couple of 10K races with a PB (personal best) in the second event
  • feeling confident and planning to run the First Half event in February 2006, discover I have to bail on my colleagues because I won't be in town (father's birthday) I ever gonna run a half marathon???
*** 2006:
  • training for Vancouver International instead
  • missed a couple of weeks of running due to travel and illness, and did 14k with run group

  • got assessed and went through program of strength/flexibility training and Trigenics-based rehab under guidance of chiropractor (my body mechanic), using all kinds of balls, foam rollers and rubber bands
  • knee pain gone!
  • did some more intense speed and hill training
  • with a bulge the diameter of a quarter
  • more physio, more Trigenics, better warmup habits
  • started to do more cycling to cross-train and work on other muscle groups
  • deep massage and stretching
  • 2 weeks before the race, skipped the Sun Run to be safe
  • 1.5 weeks before the race, in taper mode for over a week, playing head games, thinking I need to test the body again, so decide to do more speedwork
  • caught soon enough, and irritation went away
  • got calves stripped to soften the tissue
  • feeling good until...
  • Wednesday before the race...couldn't eat properly for a few days and worried it may be flu. Am I gonna have to bail yet AGAIN ???
  • finally able to eat plain pasta meal Saturday evening before the race.
  • updated the emergency info on the back of the race bib to let people know about the GI issues in case I puke on Sunday
  • piss pouring rain, windy and cold
  • first 3 miles spent weaving past the walkers and slower runners [SLOWER RUNNERS SIDEBAR] who didn't pay attention to the pace bunnies when queueing up at the start line, and trying to avoid getting tangled up in the garbage bags that people were wearing and then discarding without any consideration of who behind them might slip on or get tangled in them
  • feeling good until mile 5, felt tightness in IT Band...stopped for quick stretch. Didn't help much...felt some discomfort in the knee ("uh, oh, should I stop?") ran through the discomfort for a while and pain went away, but suspected I may regret it
  • 2 miles before Prospect Point hill, sucked back a gel pack for some energy and approached the next water station - no water! [NO WATER! SIDEBAR]
  • Prospect Point hill is coming up. Ok, shorten up the strides up this hill...don't need any achilles problems now or it’s game over...just make it up the hill, this hill was long.
  • we conquer the hill feeling pretty parched. Next water station - no water! [NO WATER! SIDEBAR]
  • my running partner and I just had a half a cup of Ultima sports drink and a gel pack during the whole race
  • feeling effects of dehydration, hamstring starts to cramp up. Stop and stretch, then lengthen the stride to open up the hams a bit and catch up with my running partner
  • leaving Stanley Park, we notice that it stopped raining...lots of spectators cheering...what an energy boost!
  • left my running partner at end of mile 12 and tried to finish strong
  • saw a colleague (an avid marathon runner and Boston qualifier, who had sprained her ankle Tuesday and could not run the full Marathon, but came out to cheer everyone on instead...imagine the disappointment after all that training!) at about the last 500 meter mark or so, came out onto the road and gave by far the most energizing cheer and words of encouragement as an extra energy boost!
  • approaching the finishing gate, I hear my chiropractor, yelling in my ear as well as I run past her towards the finish line
  • apparently, a friend who works for the City of Vancouver was at the finish line working the event, but he didn’t see me because he was chowing down on a big muffin when I finished…clown
CHIP TIME: 1:52:31
  • other than being wet and cold, felt really good for about an hour and a half...left BC Place, and

  • here we go again. Monkey's not completely off my back.
  • will enjoy a nice sports massage at the Spa and some hydro-therapy (like 1000 jets or something like that). Maybe some more trips to physio or my body mechanic.

My running partner's sister was also doing the Half. She had apparently been going through a bitter relationship breakup and trained up to 12km max. We decided not to run with her because she would be “too slow” (estimated time: 2:30). After we finished, we were trying to figure out if we should get our bags, change and then go to the finish line to cheer her on. As we were looking at our watches, we see her walking up to us with her finisher’s medal on already, and barely out of breath! First word that came out of her mouth was a victorious "A$$-hole!!")


Apparently, there was an incident with the water truck, and Canadian Springs could not access the park to deliver the water to two of the water stations in Stanley Park. The Vancouver International Marathon Society apologizes for this and for not having a backup plan. Being Canada's largest marathon event, that was a MAJOR SCREWUP, and we were actually lucky the weather was so miserably cold and wet or there could have been a lot of medical problems!

Nocturnal Leg Cramp

Tonight, I had a Nocturnal Leg Cramp. Normally you would have them at night while sleeping. I didn't. Instead, I had it during my Pilates class. Oh what fun.

For anyone whose had these leg cramps before, they can tell you how painful they are. They are insanely painful. Having had them since I was a teenager, I was able to see the signs of one coming on right away. Normally they are isolated to one part of my calf, and I tend to tough it out and massage as best I could. Tonight, however, was the worst one I've ever had in my life.

My Pilates instructor and the lady beside me (who was a nurse thank goodness!) watched my leg muscles cramp up in into a huge knot. My whole right calf was on fire, and there was definitely pain shooting up my leg, something that never happened before. It took a while for my leg to calm down.

No one knows how or why this happens to people, and it seems that different things trigger it for different people. I remember in my 3rd year Physiology class, we were discussing how muscles worked. One of my classmates asked about the leg cramps. My prof at the time never heard of it, but he did turn to the class and asked how many people experienced it. Out of a class of 200+ people, about a third of us raised our hands.

Anyways, tonight after class, people were throwing out all sorts of theories as to why it happened to me. Lack of calcium, lack of potassium, dehydration, more Vitamin D, blah, blah, blah. I think it was a lack of calcium, because I had recently cut back a bit on my calcium due to my iron deficiency. I guess I have to increase the suppliment taking again. Bah.

It was a little dicey driving home, but I didn't live too far from the studio. I managed to get home in one piece while driving like a little old lady, and frantically praying that I wouldn't get another attack (This has also happened to me once when I was driving, but I managed to massage it out before it got too bad).

Some other info that I found:

Monday, May 08, 2006

KOOKY: I've been mugged!

Today, a bunch of students were running some mock exam. I have no idea what sort of exam they were practicing for, except that they have a bunch of timed segments. Because these people were spread out between several small classrooms, the most efficient way to mark each time segment was by blowing a whistle.

Our office is right next to these classrooms mentioned above. Now I don't really mind the noise, except it was happening every five minutes. Through the whole day. Needless to say I was ready to yank that whistle out of the person's mouth and shove it down his/her throat by the middle of the day.

To prevent myself from doing someone bodily harm, I decided to take a walk to the Bookstore to get my UBC Employee Card. I have to say that my picture didn't turn out so bad. I'm willing to show it to you if you ask me nicely. The girl behind the counter was impressed that I actually had my employee number memorized. Am I that geeky?

I also had to get a Personal Response System (a.k.a. "The Clicker") for hubby as he's starting a Biology course tomorrow. In all my years in undergrad, I've never seen this device. It looks like a remote control. I have no idea what it's for, and neither does hubby. Only time will tell if it's actually worth the $27+ that I'd paid for it.

I'm also impressed/horrified (not sure which) that there is actually an entry in Wikipedia.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Hubby does a Marathon!

Okay, he actually did a Half-Marathon, but it's still a first for him. His time: 1 hour 52 mins 31 seconds (or thereabouts).

I actually was a little worried that he wouldn't be able to run today, or that he would puke and collapse on the ground. The last few days before the race, he was battling a bit of a GI infection. Today, his guts are happy, but the rest of the body is not.

I, being the supportive wife, was in bed. When I woke up at 8 am this morning, my first thought was, "Dave should be about half-way done by now". Then while lying in bed trying to wake up, I heard it raining. Very hard. Yikes. So today was not a good day for running. But like typical Vancouver weather, it cleared up later in the morning and it was actually hot!

One complaint that he had was that the water stations in the second half of the race had no water! So he and his run-mates were a little dehydrated by the end of it. However, he got to eat free food and bring home little samples of Vector cereal. And he came home happy (and in pain).

Friday, May 05, 2006

Someone please save us!

As reported earlier, there is a Star Trek XI in the works, target release date, 2008. And the rumors are already flying.

Like this one: Who is rumored to be up to play young Captain James T. Kirk? Yes, it's the guy in the mugshot. [Source]

Now, as I had stated before, I'm a little iffy on the premise for the plotline, but I'm willing to watch the movie with an open mind. Apparently I'm not that open-mined.

In other Star Trek-related news, J.J. Abrams has been chosen as the producer and co-writer for the up-and-coming Star Trek movie. He's done Lost, Alias, Felicity and co-wrote Missions Impossible: III, so here's hoping that he may do a bang up job to save the franchise.

However, Abrams and company will have a huge uphill battle. The die-hard fans only want to see William Shatner, Patrick Stewart et al. It will be a hard job trying to sell the movie to the die-hard fans as well as those who are not fans of the show. The non-fans will want to see a good movie, and hopefully Abrams can deliver.

But please, no Ben.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

PSA: i.e. versus e.g.

Okay, this is bugging me enough to post.

I have seen so many people use "i.e." to mean "for example", when they should actually be using "e.g.".

Here is what the good folks at Wikipedia have to say:
Exempli gratia (e.g.) and id est (i.e.) are commonly confused and misused in colloquial English. The former, exempli gratia, means "for example", and is used before giving examples of something ("I have lots of favorite colors, e.g., blue, green, and hot pink"). The latter, id est, means "that is", and is used before clarifying the meaning of something, when elaborating, specifying, or explaining rather than when giving examples ("I have lots of favorite colors, i.e., I can't decide on just one"). Both "e.g." and "i.e." should generally be followed by a comma, just as "for example" and "that is" would be.
I always translate "i.e." as "in other words" -- that is i.e., In other words

You can also think of e.g. and Example both start with the letter "e".

People, use colloquial English properly!! Especially in formal documentation!

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Challenge For You...

This is my grandma. My friends call her my cute grandma. You can see why.

My uncle Keith is working on this project (which I think is kinda cool). He emailed the link to my mom so that she can explain to my 93-year-old grandmother what he does. In Chinese. The most technology my grandmother encounters on a regular basis is to turn on the TV or pick up the phone. She might have tried a computer at one point.

So my challenge to you is: Can you dumb-down the gist of the article to the point where my 93-year-old Chinese grandmother can understand what Uncle Keith does? Grandma depends on your help!

Go fly a kite

Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite!
~ From the movie Mary Poppins, partial lyrics to Let's Go Fly A Kite ~

If you ask most anyone else what sort of day it is today, they will say it's:
  • Windy
  • Sunny
  • Clear blue skies, very few clouds (if any)
  • Warm(-ish)
Well, it's all these things today. However, I don't like to call it just a warm, sunny, windy day with no clouds. That's too boring. And typical.

Around this time of the year, Lotusland experiences these sort of days. It's sunny and warm. It's very windy (I was almost knocked over sideways a couple of times when I was walking outside).

Today, my friends, is a good day to go fly a kite. What other way of describing a day like today. You want to be at the park or the beach with the lovely sunshine. It's windy enough to do something fun and whimsical, like flying a kite. It a day where you want to sit back, relax and be carefree. Or play hooky from the office/school.

This is a phrase that I've always used growing up whenever we had a perfect kite flying day. This phrase embodies all the various descriptions in a few simple words.

Yes, today is a great day to go fly a kite.