Saturday, September 29, 2007

Life is interesting...

Well, I've been on Facebook for a few months, and here is what I've discovered so far:
  • The world is indeed a small place. Some of my Friends know some of my other Friends, but I know it wasn't through me.
  • Looking at the list of people from my high school graduating class, I sadly have little recollection of most of them beyond their name and/or face, and some I don't remember at all
  • A lot of my high school graduating class have young kids. Not a big deal in of itself, as we're all in our mid-thirties. But it's weird to think that we're actually ADULTS with ankle-biters. I still am not there mentally yet.
  • I'm still trying to not be sucked into this. I don't feel like I'm an obsessive Facebook user, but I am on it more often than I want to be. I blame L in Cowtown and T and LA. Yes, you two know who you are =P

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Manager's Cheatsheet

This is more of a reminder for me than anything else.

However, I had to laugh at this one:
48. Respond to your correspondence within a reasonable amount of time. You don't have to be chained to your Inbox, but make sure you respond to emails within a few hours whenever possible.
While I do my darnedest to attend to every email that slithers into my Inbox, you will be lucky if you hear from me within a few days. Granted, sometimes I reply right away, but other times, I don't have the answer yet, or the reply complicated or requires me to work on something first, both which takes time to do. I'm actually not at my desk for a good part of most days. (However, I am conscious of the fact that people are expecting a reply, so I really try to keep it to 5-business days maximum of not replying.)

And if there are any manger-types out there, is there anything you want to add, or disagree with on the list? I'm still a newbie at this game, and learning from others is always a plus.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Truth in humour...

Click on the picture above to see the cartoon in full. This is what I face every day. I've been in every position except customer, so you can understand the frustration of trying to build software for people who can't explain what they want properly, even though they think they are doing an awesome job with explaining it to you. Coupled with the fact that a lot of times the customer doesn't really know what they need, but think they do, and you stay stuck in the first frame indefinitely.

Part of the problem is that the customer wants something built ASAP because that's what they understand. They don't understand that there is a lot of planning, designing, meetings, more meetings, re-designing, even more meetings to get to the last point. It requires a lot of up front work, a lot of documentation, a lot of communication, and very little actual product being coded. They just want something NOW, and usually for a lot less than they should be paying for.

But to be fair, it's not just the customer, it's also those other people in the process who make the same mistakes. Not enough up-front work, they jump into creating something before they really understand what the customer really needs. After all, that's what geeks love to do best. I'm certainly guilty of that.

So for you non-IT folks out there, this cartoon illustrates quite well some the frustrations that we IT folks face. Well sort of. There are also the IT-By-Accident types... (don't get me started!)

Friday, September 21, 2007

I can't breathe

This happens to me twice a year, and no, it's not an allergy (unless you call being temperature sensitive an allergy). I've pinpointed it to the weather, and in particular, during the spring and fall when the weather starts being schizophrenic.

When the temperature drops or rises to a certain range, my sinuses decide to start plugging up. However, it only plugs up enough so I can't breathe properly, but not substantial enough to blow out. So I'm in a perpetual state of misery.


(You should feel doubly sorry for Hubby, who gets to listen to my constant whining.)

Stop Your Sclaundres of Britney!

I sadly find this hilariously funny, but I may be the only one. I don't read Middle English, but I was still able to understand it. It certainly brought a laugh to my hum-drum life. I also particularly love the fact that a lot of the readers of this blog respond in kind (that is, they also use Middle English).


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Good Pain?!?!?

For those of you who don't know, I have really bad upper back, neck and shoulder problems. I go see a chiropractor every 1-2 times a month and a massage therapist (RMT) twice a month. In fact, my chiropractor has mentioned that my back is one of the worst he's ever seen (not the worst, but close).

Anyways, my old RMT had decided to quit practice to go back to school, so I saw a new RMT on Tuesday. She does deep tissue massage, like my old RMT, but unlike my old RMT, she does it even deeper.

So yeah, it hurt when she did it, and my muscles hurt even now (As an aside, I was quite surprise how such a tiny woman had so much strength in her hand, I sure don't!). She explained to me that what I'm going to feel afterwards is a bit of muscle bruising, or "good pain".

Good pain my foot. Pain is pain, it's never good. It's been about two days, and I'm still feeling it. The only reason why I put up with it is that after the pain subsides, my muscles do feel better. I'm just waiting for the day when it will go away for good. Sigh.

Monday, September 17, 2007

KOOKY: Housecleaning

(I'm actually quite busy at work, but the busyness is pretty routine, and frankly, not worth mentioning.)

Today I cracked and cleaned the fridge and microwave.

Between 15 people, we all share a bar fridge and microwave. The fridge is in another room, while not so conveniently located, of late has spared me smelling the molding food that sat in the fridge for who knows how long. Unfortunately, every time I walked into the room, I could immediately smell the moldy food. What's worse is the fridge was waaaaay across the room, that's how bad the smell was.

Today I snapped.

I gave everyone until mid-afternoon to claim what was theirs. Then I went in, dumped pretty much everything, and gave the fridge and the microwave a good scrub. All during my lunch hour.

I'm much happier now.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

La Belle Auberge: The actual anniversary dinner

Last night hubby and I went on our 5th anniversary dinner. Granted, our actual anniversary was the week before, but we had just come back from Paris, I was jet-lagged, and hubby was jet-lagged and sick. After some deliberation, I had decided to go to La Belle Auberge for dinner.

I've only been to this place twice before, and it was a good 10-15 years ago. However, I've always remembered the exceptional food on my two previous experiences, and after taking a quick perusal of the menu online, we'd decided to go.

I have to say that the food was absolutely phenomenal! We decided to go with a 7-course set menu, and although a bit pricey, was totally worth it! I highly recommend the place. Note that this restaurant is about 40 minutes south of Vancouver, and you must cross a bridge and go through a tunnel to get there, but it is worth the trip, really! 10 out of 10!

1. Amuse Bouche - this turned out to be a Feta and Spinach Quiche, some chicken thing, and Chilled Tomato Soup. Best quiche I've ever had, and the soup tasted so fresh and light!

2. Lobster Bisque with Seared Scallop - You could really taste the lobster stock, and it wasn't as heavy as other lobster bisques I've had in the past.

3. Me: Origino Tomato Terrine with Basil Goats Cheese - I hate raw tomatoes with a passion, but I thought I'd give it a go. It was very yummy and light. BTW, I still hate raw tomatoes, and the raw cucumber, but I ate it! The truffles on the lower right of the picture, not to my taste

Hubby: Roasted Arctic Char with Mushroom Broth

4. Salade Waldorf with Blue Cheese “Macaroon” - The Salade Waldorf was yummy, even for a mayonnaise-type of food (my stomach doesn't like mayonnaise). It's really a fruit salad that you're seeing, great for a summer menu. The blue cheese thing was "interesting".

5. Lemon sorbet - to cleanse the palate. Very refreshing!

6. Me: Wild Boar with Morel Sauce - The waitress said that because this is a multi-course menu, the portions were resized so that there wasn't as much food per dish. She lied. My main dish was huge, and had a lot of different flavours and textures going on.

Hubby: Bison Loin with Burgundy Sauce

7. Me: Chocolate, Hazelnut and Passion fruit Mousse Cake - note that the passion fruit was supposed to be a waterfall, but the liquid broke and I couldn't fix it for the picture, but I did see it!

Hubby: Tiramisu

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A few comments on our Paris trip

I wanted to write down some of my thoughts about Paris, outside the sights and attractions that we visited.

Metro system: Hubby did some surfing around pre-trip and found lots of comments about how great the Metro system was. Having been to London, we found the Metro system to be pretty similar in terms of how it works. However, we were a bit frustrated with the service. There were at times no one around to help us out. There was someone in our group that got stuck in the turnstile and we had to figure out how to get that person un-stuck. When we asked for help, people weren't' very helpful (I'm told this may be a French attitude, people are just not very helpful to strangers), or simply not there. I didn't know that I had to ask for a Metro map; in London, you can pick one up at any station. As navigable as the Metro system is, it's still daunting without a map (click on picture above to see what it looks like).

The Metro system itself isn't as efficiently laid out as I would have liked. It annoyed me that if I wanted to go from west to east in a straight line, I would had to take three different lines. It probably was faster for me to walk above ground, but I didn't want to get more lost than I already was. Paris is a very walkable city, but you do need a map. On the last day when I was out and about alone, I had a Metro map in one hand, and map of Paris with all the sights in another, and that helped me navigate through the city.

I was, however, impressed with the fact that there were people movers in between some of the station tunnel links.

Museum Pass: This we found to be a great idea, but it does require you to plan ahead and do a bit of marathon museum visiting, plus it doesn't include the cost of audio guides. The biggest plus is that you get to skip the queue for tickets and go straight in. We were able to do that everywhere except at Notre Dame. I noted that when I flashed my Museum Pass at the ticket check, that not everyone one took a close look at the date (you write the date on when you first start using it), so it may be possible to sneak in somewhere once your pass has expired and you managed to get a lazy ticket checker. Plus, most places will allow you back in more than once, which is nice as the gift shops were annoyingly inside and not outside.

Versailles: You cannot see everything in one day, it's exhausting and overwhelming. While this is partially covered in the Museum Pass, I'd actually suggest the alternative instead: There is a one-day pass that you can purchase at the RER-C stations that will be cheaper, especially if you are going to visit Marie Antoinette's estates. Buy the one-day pass on a weekday, and that will get you the following: train ride there and back, entrance to the main Chateau and Marie Antoinette's estates plus the audioguide. Go and visit the Chateau first, then the Grand Trianon then Marie Antoinette's estates. MA's estate also has some very nice gardens that you can get lost in. (There is a weekend pass that is a bit pricer that includes the main gardens, but trust me, doing it this way will be more fun and relaxing.)

On the second day, try to visit in the summer during the weekends. This is when they turn the fountains on in the gardens. The gardens themselves are MASSIVE, and the fountains, while already nice to look at, are even nicer when they are turned on. You will want to spend a whole day just hanging out at the gardens, trust me. You will have to pay to go see the gardens when the fountains are flowing, but it's totally worth the trip. (As a side note, I am pretty indifferent to gardens and fountains, they bore me. I'd rather pave over our own lawn instead of taking care of it, so you can better appreciate how mind-blowing this place is to have impressed me that much!)

For Versailles, definitely check out their website for information to plan your trip, as not everything is shown outside of the summer months.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Paris Pictures!

Here are the highlights and pictures from our Paris trip. Items with a "*" were the favourite place I'd visited that day.

Day 1

Fly to Paris! We stayed at the Hilton that was about 1.5 blocks from the Eiffel Tower, so you'll be seeing lots of Eiffel Tower pics.

Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
  • Tombeau de Napoleon
  • Musée National Picasso - not that I don't appreciate the artwork, but I will never in a million years understand abstract and modern art.
  • * Musée Carnavalet - What I really liked the most about this museum is that it's in two large houses. I really like experiencing what it may have been like living in Paris as a rich person many, many decades ago. The little gardens around the houses were also quite nice. The artwork and objects are also of some interest as it outlines the history of Paris. Best of all, this museum was free! The neighbourhood in which it's situated in is also nice (Marais district)
  • Avenue des Champs-Élysées
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Le Tour Eiffel
Day 5
* Chateau de Versailles - Main Chateau - There is no way you can spend just one day here, which is why we decided to go back a second day.

Day 6
* Chateau de Versailles - Versailles Garden and Marie Antoinette Estates - The gardens were my favourite part of the entire place, and we got to see the fountains when they were turned on (they play Classical music through hidden speakers while the fountains are on - very elegant). I would have loved to bring a row boat out onto the Grand Canal, or to even walk around it to see how long it would have taken to walk around it. It was truly the nicest park I've ever seen or been to.

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9
View the photos - Click!

Clip of the fountains at Versailles

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Five years!!

Yup, today is our fifth wedding anniversary. Five years. That's a long time.

We don't have any plans to celebrate, hubby got sick on the last day of our trip, and frankly, we still a bit jet lagged. But hopefully we can go out later tonight to celebrate.