Sunday, December 28, 2008

something to make you laugh


Not sure how one could look at this without laughing.

Still lovin' San Fran. We've done a tonne of walking, some good eating, and had some pretty good coffee too. But, instead of posting right now, I figured a turtle eating a strawberry was just that much better.

Friday, December 26, 2008

i love it already

After a long day of travelling yesterday, we arrived at our temporary home in San Francisco last night around 10pm (we left our house just before 9am EST). I've been here just more than 12 hours and I love this place already.

I hope you had a great Christmas and hopefully I'll see as many of you as possible in the new year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

christmas pickles



For those of you who haven't been inside my office cubicle (and that would be pretty much all of you), I have a pretty little pickle finger puppet hanging on my wall. She's wearing a pink dress and she came off a Bics pickle jar 2 or 3 New Years Eves ago. I bet my dad had no idea I'd keep it for this long. Because of that and my love for pickles (tangy garlicky dill please), I love this video.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

i'd like to be more like warren

Yesterday, I heard about a site that pairs homeless people who would like to receive a Christmas present with people who are able to give. It has mini-bios of the participants and what he or she might like for Christmas. A lot of are gift cards. Some people need to be able to buy clothes, others to buy shoes, and some would like to be able to get a cell phone to be able to connect with their families and look for jobs. Some people just want transit passes so that they can get around.
I went back to look at the site today and came across this bio:

Warren C, Male
Warren has been homeless for 4 years. He had made some bad financial decisions and also fell into drug and alcohol abuse, but is currently in recovery. The most stressful thing about being homeless is the lack of privacy in the shelter. Warren enjoys watching movies and sports. He hopes to help brighten someone else's Christmas as this Wish List has done for him
For Christmas, Warren would like:


- a toy donated to Toy Mountain in his name

I think that I have just learned a little more about the spirit of Christmas from Warren. So, although you will probably never read this: thanks Warren.

And if you are in Calgary; Vancouver; Kelowna; Boise, ID; Denver, CO; Las Vegas, NV; Miami, FL; or Portland, OR and you are interested in donating, the website is http://www.homelesspartners.com/


Friday, December 19, 2008

the russian

Back when the bus was still running (i know it hasn't even been two full weeks, but it feels like an eternity), I had an interesting trip to work.

It was one of the first snowy days, but it really wasn't all that cold. I got on the bus, got settled, and as usual, looked around to see if there were any interesting characters. Sitting in one of the front bench seats (reserved for those who aren't as mobile as others) was a younger man that I dubbed "the Russian". He had that Russian look. He was quite pale and reminded me of a mix of many Russian hockey players and to top it off, he was wearing fur trimmed gloves and a fur hat.

The bus started to get pretty full as we continued on the route. Two or three stops before my destination, an older man got on the bus and looked around for a seat. No one budged. He starts waving wildly at the sign that shows who is "allowed" to sit in the front seats. His gaze mostly directed at the guy in the fur trimmed gloves. When STILL no one made a move to get up for him, the older man went straight to the Russian and made a motion that seemed to say "hey jackass. i'm old. you're young...now give me that seat". The Russian looks at the older man, looks down at his own legs and starts pulling up his pant leg to reveal a prosthesis. Well as soon as that fake leg came out, old man gets all apologetic, and tries to apologize to the Russian. He obviously said something like "oh so terribly sorry"...but instead of stopping there, grabs the poor russian's pasty white cheeks in each and and goes in for a kiss.

Unfortunately, I had to get off the bus at that point, so I only managed to see the russian madly flailing his furry gloved hands in the direction of old man's face. It was the only time I've ever considered staying on the bus just so that I could see the end of an incident...

And hopefully, the busses will be running again soon and I'll see the Russian once again.

Monday, December 15, 2008

just curious

So does anyone know anyone in San Francisco? Someone that would know where two people flying in sometime in the evening might be able to get dinner on Christmas night? Or who would at least know that it would be futile to do that and can recommend a pizza or chinese food delivery place that would deliver to Pacific Heights on December 25th?

I'm hoping we will be able to find something. Meanwhile, I am pretty darn excited to be escaping the snow banks, frozen sidewalks, and slush puddles in just over a week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

sigh

Scratch the elliptical. Lower leg/ankle hurts today where the fracture is. I guess it is just biking for me. I hope this didn't set back the healing... :(

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

of stress fractures and transit strikes


So I'm now on week 3 (half-way done yaaay!) of no running. The world and the city of Ottawa have both done me a bit of a "solid" by making the sidewalks and roads practically impassable the last couple of days, so that has helped a little bit. But on the weekend...my legs were pretty much itching. I had Kirsten's "Jimmy crazy legs" to the extreme and just wanted to get out there. Instead, I took a trip to the gym, got on the bike and tried the elliptical for the first time. I felt like an uncoordinated weirdo. Firstly, it took me a good 10-20 seconds to figure out how to go forward instead of backward. Then, I just felt completely awkward the entire 25 minutes I was on there. But the bike felt just fine, so at least I didn't feel like a moron the entire time. (well, except for the fact that I was the only person sweating in the entire gym...but whatever) The bonus is that I felt no pain, worked up a sweat, got the heart rate up fairly high, and felt good about getting some non-running cardio in. I've got a 3 month pass to the gym now and will have to keep going through the rest of the winter and beginning of the spring so that I can keep up the cross-training and cardio as I slowly bring up my mileage once I'm allowed to run again. (slowly being pretty key...as this is fracture number 2, i plan on being extra careful.)

Now onto the transit strike. We live downtown, don't have a car, and we're pretty darn reliant on public transit. I take the bus to work and back every day and if we need to get anywhere outside of walking range in the evening or on the weekend, we take the bus. So when the transit drivers walk off the job, we have no transportation. Luckily, there is someone at work who has a car and who lives within walking distance from our apartment who has offered to drive me to work. (and thank goodness he offered...a couple of people told me he lived near me, but it is pretty hard to walk up to someone you've talked to just once and ask for something) Unfortunately, he is a manager, so I am guessing that he works longer hours that I do...so I may end up being at work longer and later than I want to on some days, but at least I can get to and from work. I feel really bad for the students that aren't sure how they'll get to exams, parents who now have to drive their kids to their different schools, and the many people who work at jobs that aren't nearly as flexible as mine. Again, at least I can get to work and if all else failed, I could work most days from home if I needed to. (plus I'm not ALL that far from work, so a couple of people offered to come pick me up later in the morning once traffic had died down)

Today, however, I worked from home. The strike was going to happen at 12:01am, so there was always the chance a deal would be reached and a wicked storm was rolling in...so I decided to stay put and work from home. Oh how nice it was to be able to sleep an extra hour, work in direct natural light, not have to listen to the crazy ramblings of certain people at the office, wear jeans and a t-shirt, do laundry in the middle of the day... Why do I go to work at all? The change of scenery was definitely nice, but I'm sure eventually working from home would get old. And Jordan will be glad to get his office back tomorrow.

Friday, December 05, 2008

like a muffin or a beet

A friend posted this on facebook earlier today and it cracked me up. I remember this commercial so well and have been known to sing lines from it every so often. Usually to confused "uhh...what is WRONG with you" looks. So now you know. Listen to the lion! (and the beet)


By the way, I am now going nuts with the no running business. My legs feel itchy all the time. I think I'm going to try to get onto an elliptical this weekend...maybe that will help.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

those in need

This year, the Charlottetown Salvation Army has cancelled the Adopt-a-Family program. (story here) As the story says, they are still running the Christmas hamper program, where families get a hamper of food (or a grocery gift card) and a few gifts, but they have cancelled the program where companies or groups buy gifts for a particular family. As someone who has worked within a program like this, I was quite interested in this turn of events.

My first fall and winter out of university, I worked for the Salvation Army Family Services and was one of the people (lu was the other...brings back the memories doesn't it?) who screened and gathered information from families who would like to receive a Christmas hamper. There were two types of "hampers" they might get: the standard, or the adopt-a-family. The standard was a grocery gift certificate (amount calculated depending on the number of people in the household, with the idea that it would buy Christmas dinner), some gifts and some stocking stuffers for the entire family. The Adopt-a-Family hamper was whatever the group, corporation or individual felt they wanted to include in the hamper. There were "minimum" suggestions that coincided with what the standard hamper might be, but there weren't any rules on just how much should be included in the hamper.

Qualification for both programs were the same. It was strictly "need-based". There was a fancy little calculation of how much money was coming into the household each month and how much was going out. Only certain expenses qualified and could be counted (eg. heat was a countable expense, satellite TV was not), but other than need, there was no other qualification. It didn't matter if you celebrated Christmas, Hannukah, Ramadan, Christmukkah, or nothing at all. In fact, I had a woman ask me what day Christmas was that year. So dispite being a christian organization, they turned no one away.

For the most part, your inclusion into the hamper program or the adopt-a-family program was random chance. You could only be "adopted" every 3 years or something like that, so that part wasn't random, plus the choosing of the adopted families happened earlier on in the season so that the adopters had time to put their stuff together. Other than that, pretty random. (Or so my take on it was)

Most clients didn't know that there were two programs and probably had no idea whether they were an "adopt-a-family" family or a hamper family. But there were definitely exceptions. Some people came in and specifically requested that they be an "adopt-a-family" because they had been a part of it the year before and were really happy with all of the stuff they got. Others had heard of people who were adopted and wanted to be a part of it. Those people I wasn't too concerned about, I just explained that it was luck of the draw and that a family wouldn't be adopted more than once in a 3 year cycle.

I figured the two programs were fine and co-existed nicely and peacefully until one particular client. I had one woman tell me that the year before her sister's family had been adopted and her family had not. They did Christmas together and she felt very bad for her kids when they opened their "standard" toys and her sister's kids opened their video gaming system and many other things. She got a grocery gift card that was about enough for Christmas dinner. Her sister got a box full of food and several hundred dollars in grocery gift cards. This part didn't bother her much- she and her sister often did meals together, so her sister was more than happy to host a few more dinners than she usually would, but it was the looks on her kids' faces when they saw the huge difference in the types of gifts they got compared to those of their cousins. Had she known there would have been such a discrepancy, she would have been prepared for it. But she had no idea. She and her sister signed up for the program on the same day at the same time and figured they would end up with pretty much the same type of Christmas.

My heart really went out to her. I know that life isn't fair and that it is pretty normal for one sibling's family to be better off than the other and that kids need to learn eventually that life isn't fair. But her story and her situation really stuck with me and I've thought about the discrepancies in the two programs ever since. In fact, had I not already signed up to adopt-a-family with a group of friends BEFORE she came through my office, I may not have encouraged the group to participate in the program, and rather encouraged us all to just donate to the hamper program.

I don't think I'm qualified (or have the audacity) to say if the Salvation Army in Charlottetown made the right or wrong decision. I also have no idea if their programs were organized like they were the year I worked at Family Service in Calgary. I just know that, among some other organizational issues, I definitely felt that there were a few flaws in the system.

And with that, I encourage you all to donate some time, money, toys, or whatever you think you can to help out people who are more in need than you are this Christmas season. If you yourself are in need of the help, maybe just a card saying thank you, or a smile to someone who looks like he or she needs it. If you are in the position to help, there are so many ways to help both locally and abroad.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

a day without gays



I saw this on the "A day without Gays" facebook page. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, this article is an ok explanation: link. (or you could look it up on facebook) I guess it originally started with a day without mexicans to protest immigration issues.

While I doubt it makes much sense to "call in gay" here in Canada, I think for the US, it is an interesting concept.

Anyway, since I usually have such a hard time making my thoughts about this topic sound even reasonably intelligent, I found the video touching.