Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Movie Review: March Of The Penguins

I'm not a big movie watcher, but I know this year has been a terrible one for good films. Very very little has even caught my attention, but I glanced over the 'Now Playing' list recently and saw one that looked interesting: "March of the Penguins".

This is actually a French production ("La Marche de l'empereur") that's been ported to English. Apparently the original film has 'dialog' for the penguins, along with music. The US version is narrated by Morgan Freeman, who has the perfect voice for this type of thing. Serious, yet interesting and quite entertaining at times.

Some people may think "This is an independent film," or "But it's a documentary, and about
penguins!" but they are mistaken. They turned what could have been a standard IMAX documentary (which are great) into a documentary that has something of a storyline, and carries the emotion of the viewer well. In fact, they call it a love story, and it's pretty close to the truth!


Photo from Official Site

The film is a mere 82 minutes in length but you see a lot during that time. The story revolves around the long journey these penguins embark on during their yearly mating ritual, going from the open ocean to their inland breeding grounds 150 kilometers away. But that trip is only the beginning, and probably the easiest task they are to do. The winter is fierce and some don't survive. So far from the ocean there is no food, and the males, who stay behind to guard the egg while the females go back to the ocean for food (yes, all the way back 150 kilometers!) after laying the egg, don't eat for as much as four months. And that's only a taste of what they have to endure.

Like I said, this film carries a lot of emotion for a documentary. It will have you laughing when a penguin slips and falls on the ice, shedding a tear when a clumsy pair breaks their egg or loses their chick to the cold, and in total awe when you see the lengths these birds will go to in order to survive.


Photo from Official Site

The images of Antarctica are amazing as always, and the people who get to travel there are very lucky. I can hardly imagine what it would be like to actually be there and see the penguins walking in a line for miles, as far as you can see.

I highly recommend this film for anyone who wants to see a documentary with a different angle. If you want action, stay away. If you want to see and learn new things, be entertained, and be amazed, see this film! Personally, I'll be buying this one when it comes out on DVD.

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Cheap Gas

Ha! Just kidding, there's no such thing as cheap gas anymore. A couple of weeks ago was the first time I paid over $1.00/litre of gas and it's happened a few more times. Actually there's no chance of getting gas under a dollar, at least not where I live.

With news of rising fuel prices, I drove to the nearest Petro Canada to fill up my tank. Costed me $43 at $1.13/litre.

Hard to believe that not too long ago I was paying between 60 and 70 cents per litre...

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Waiting Out The Deluge

It's 40 days until my wedding. The same amount of time that Noah was in the ark. Okay maybe that's not technically exact. That was only the amount of time it rained. By my rough estimates from what I read, it was more like 200 days.

Anyway, I've come up with a list of similarities and differences between myself and Noah.

Differences

  • Noah had company
  • Noah built the world's first cruise ship
  • Noah had a mobile zoo
  • After the flood there were no people, no traffic jams, and no pollution
  • Noah lived to be 950 years old!

Similarities

  • We both love animals
  • We both have to wait 40 days

How To Keep Your House Clean

There are three ways to keep one's house clean:
  1. Be obsessive about it
  2. Have company over for dinner
  3. Be selling your house and have people coming to look often
Let's talk about these three options:

The first one, being obsessive, will drive you crazy in no time. This is a situation to avoid if at all possible.

Second, have company over for dinner. This works, guaranteed. The downside is that it only lasts for, well, one evening! Once the company is gone, things revert back to their 'normal' state and life continues.

The third, and best option, for keeping your house clean is to have it up for sale and have people coming to see it! This is my situation, as the house I'm renting is up for sale. I've cleaned it up really well, and now it just needs at bit of tidying up every day to keep it that way!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Becoming Handy

I've been living on my own again for 27 days and I sure have learned a lot in that short time. Specifically, I'm learning how to be handy around the house!

After our natural gas problems here, the gas has been turned on but the water heater wasn't lit. Guess who got the call for help? Well, I've never touched a water heater before but I'm getting married so I'd better start knowing how to do stuff!

So, down I go into the basement, trying to figure out what to do. There are some instructions on the heater that make sense, but I double-checked online so I could actually see a diagram.

After a couple minutes of tinkering, I got the pilot light lit, then the *whoosh* as the gas element lit up fully. No cold shower tonight, although on warm days it's totally acceptable.

Also, thanks to Auntie Elsie and Uncle Bob for the tool kit they bought me years ago. It's come in handy many times... a very useful gift!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Natural Gas Leak

6:10 PM PST

We have a small, yet important problem tonight. My landlord was over fixing something earlier and smelled a bit of a gas leak in the laundry room (natural gas powered dryer, not sure about the washer).

Anyway, he's called Terasen Gas and they have someone coming out to check on it. Turns out I'm the only person here right now and once you call the gas company to check on something, they are duty bound to investigate.

So, I'm going to be here when they arrive and will post an update when they do.

7:24 PM PST

The gas man is here, taking a look at the dryer. He has this cool little gadget with a long tube thing, almost like a radiation detector. It must be to check for gas. He's probing around and you can hear it click more often when it picks up gas.

7:34 PM PST

Okay, he found the leak. It's coming out of the wall where the pipe comes in. He says the person who set it up didn't do it right, no shut-off valve or anything.

The gas to the whole house is shut off until the problem is fixed. That should be fun. Almost for sure it won't be today, maybe tomorrow.

No using the stove, and no hot water! I think I'm going to take a nice hot shower while I can... might be the last one for a little bit!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Change Unlikely, Yet Future Uncertain

I've been in my new place for 24 days (renting), and I just found out that the house is up for sale. While this puts a little bit of uncertainty on my living situation, there are a few reasons why it's unlikely anything will happen.

First, the house is split into three separate units. Unless it was a very large family and they wanted to do some massive renovations, nobody except an investor would buy this type of house.

Second, there's no yard, just a bit of trees, flowerbeds, and a small garden.

The house has been on the market for a day, and already I got the word that people are coming to see it. Not surprising considering the market. I guess finding out what's going to happen sooner rather than later is better!

UPDATE - Aug 25, 2005

I got two voicemails today from the realtor saying people were coming to see the house, and one more on Saturday. I guess the sooner the deal gets done, the sooner we'll all find out what's going to happen. The realtor did say that 90% chance the buyer will keep us in. That's positive news I guess. House on the market for 2 days and two visitors... not bad!


UPDATE - Aug 31, 2005

They had an open house on Sunday, and a few others came through to look. Since then, no action. Could be a deal is in the works, or maybe they're just trying to have people come by on certain days to not be so disruptive. Not that I mind or anything, when people are coming, my aparment stays cleaner!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Good Bye, Air Mattress

I've been sleeping on an air mattress for a little over three weeks, ever since I moved into my apartment. The first week was a little rough because it kept deflating overnight and I'd end up touching the ground. The seal must have been out a bit, because one time I pumped it up, it stayed and has been good for some time.

However, my new mattress and box spring arrived today! No more sleeping on the air mattress! It's queen size, so it's going to seem like a lot of space all by myself (this will change, soon enough)!

UPDATE: Aug 24, 2005

Good follow-up by Sears today. They gave me a call, asked if the delivery was made on time and how the delivery guys were. This is the kind of customer service I like. Telus should take notes from these guys!


UPDATE: Aug 25, 2005

The new mattress is very comfortable. Slept on it for two nights, couldn't be better. Besides sleeping well, it's nice to be able to sit on the edge of the bed, which you can't do on the air mattress without hitting the ground.

Wikipedia!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you've probably noticed I reference wikipedia.org quite often as a source of information on a particular topic. My appreciation for this site has grown consistently over time, and now whenever I want to find out more information about something, that's where I go.

Remember the days of the book encyclopedia? Lots of money for a volume of very heavy books. I used to love browsing through them page by page and reading about everything. Since the internet has become popular, I haven't seen an encyclopedia set anywhere but in a garage sale. Why? So much information is available on the internet, that having it in book format is no longer the best way.

What Wikipedia has done is create a site that is accessible by anyone, even editable by anyone, where information about just about anything can be found. It's free to use, too!

Most free things run on a donation basis, and in the past I haven't donated money to anything. But Wikipedia is such a useful tool that I decided to put $1 towards keeping them running. They are having a fundraising drive right now, and I figured I would contribute as I use the website quite a bit.

Check out their site! Wikipedia.org

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Pumpkin Patch

Who needs to turn into a pumpkin when you can grow one in your back yard?!



With at least a month left to grow, I wonder how big this thing will get. Apparently this plant is some 'giant' breed, so we could get something pretty huge...

No Word From Telus

It's quite surprising to me that Telus has not called me about switching to Primus for long distance. I even double-checked to make sure I really was connected through Primus by calling their confirmation number.

Maybe I just got missed, or perhaps because I'm such a new customer, they figure they won't have any chance of getting me back. Still, odd, because when my parents switched, they got a call the next day.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Wedding Countdown: 50

Only 50 days until my wedding!

The last three months we have to be apart is going by very quickly, almost half over. Most things are ready though, and now we are waiting for the last few weeks when a bunch of things have to come together.

Looking forward to traveling out East again!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Local Wildlife

On my walk home today I spotted a couple of raccoons crossing the road. Actually, they made two attempts. The first time a car drove up and even though it stopped, they ran back into the bushes on the side of the road.



This gave me time to pull out my camera. I knew they were stuck in the bushes because there are houses and fences on the other side, so I waited, and sure enough, the next time there was a break in the cars, out they jumped and ran across.

Being up on the mountain, there is probably more wildlife. In fact, someone I work with lives even further up, and they tell me that they see bears on a regular basis! I may have to take a drive around one day and scout out some more wildlife to photograph.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fire Alarm: Crews Respond

About 3:30pm today, the fire alarm went off in the office building where I work. And not for the first time. This is probably the third or fourth time since we moved into the building a few years ago. I grabbed my camera, of course, and everyone headed for the stairs. There's a 'secret' set of stairs which most people don't realize is there, and I led a few people down it. Most people from the building pack into the one stairwell because that's the only know they know about. Keep this in mind... if you work in a large building, know all of the stairwells, not just the commonly used ones. Look for more!

The last time we had a fire alarm, it was turned off and people went indoors without the fire trucks/fighters coming to check it out. I was rather disturbed by that, but I never got an answer about what happened.

This time was different. Within a few minutes, the trucks arrived!





The crew went into the building to check it out, and I guess everything was okay because after about 10 or 15 minutes they pulled away and everyone went back inside.



As usual, I went around taking pictures of some of the staff. Here Christina and Joel show us their 'fire evacuation' look.

Glad stuff like this happens. I've gone three days without a blog post, finally something interesting to write about!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

It's Roasting In Here!

The temperature is hot enough outside, 25C (feels like 30C with humidity), but there isn't much escape inside. In fact, the actual temperature is hotter. I have a small thermometer here and it tells me that right now it is 27C in this room.

Lucky I have a jug of pink lemonade, and a box of fudgsicles in the freezer...

Me Wear A Tux? Yes!

When I wrote up my TO DO list for today, the first thing at the top was "Get fitted for my tux". Since we're ordering them through Tip Top Tailors, I thought I'd drop by their nearest location to get measured, and I'd be able to get it done right away.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. They gave me the biggest runaround about needing to know exactly what tux I was getting (we've been over these details but I didn't memorize them), and that it should be ordered at that location. I understand that they want credit for the sale and all, but Tip Top should really work out a better system for commissions. If I come here to get measured, this location should get at least a fee. I don't see how it could be cheaper for them to ship a tux across the country.

Not to be thwarted by such poor service, I went over to Black & Lee (http://www.blackandlee.com) and asked them. They had no problem doing it and wrote me up a measurement card.

My job is done, but I'm a little disappointed by the way Tip Top dealt with me. Perhaps next time I need a tux or some other formalwear I'll go on over to Black & Lee first!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Drive-By Photography

Interesting photos can show up anywhere, and driving is no exception. I did this drive-by photography on Sunday.




It's really too bad there were so many trees and bushes in front of that house, or I'd have got an amazing shot. You can see how much fire there is through the trees. The fire trucks hadn't arrived, and people were moving their vehicles out of the way. I didn't have time to stop, and I figure it might have been a little too much to try to walk up the front sidewalk for a picture.

Take your cameras with you when you drive! Just don't crash while taking a picture...

Disclaimer: Photos taken by a professional, do not attempt dangerous drive-by photography on your own! Action figures sold separately.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Telephone Tug o' War

Primus has a number you can call to find out if you are currently hooked up with them as your provider. I called it tonight, and it said I'm connected! Unlimited calling, here I come!

Now, I await Telus' phone call... check back later for the details of that conversation (it may be short indeed).

Saved By The Hat

I was running a bit late this morning, and was jogging downhill to try to make it in time for the bus. I was nearly there when the bus came up to the intersection and stopped for a red light. Thinking I might still catch it, I put on my hat, and started jogging again.

The bus crossed the intersection and went out of site, and I kept going. When I came around the corner, the bus was sitting there with the doors open waiting for me! The bus driver is the same every day, and I think he must have recognized me from a distance and stopped even though there was nobody else there (at least not that I saw).

Just another benefit of wearing a unique hat. One of these days I'll write my Tilly Hat Manifesto!

Grocery Shopping!

I ventured out last night to pick up some much needed groceries to feed myself. I didn't start out with much and it was dangerously low. I drove down to Safeway with my list of things to buy, but I bought more than what was on my list.

I spent a fair bit considering what I got, but it was mostly big stuff that will last a while. Like a 17 pound bag of rice... won't run out for some time. Even a pound of butter will last me, possibly a few months if I put half of it in the freezer.

The shopping list:
  • Rice (17 pounds)
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Peppercorn Ranch Dressing
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Raspberry Jam
  • Chunky Peanut Butter
  • Ketchup
  • Half Dozen Eggs
  • Instant Noodle Things

On the menu for tonight... Spinach Salad!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Light In The Sky



I saw this strange light at the bus stop earlier this week. I've never seen anything like it and it totally stood out. In fact, I had to look away, move where I was standing, and blink a few times to be sure it wasn't just me.

If you're thinking it's the sun, it's not. The sun is directly to the left, out of the picture. And the sun wouldn't create the streaked type of pattern you see here... it would just be a really big bright spot.

So the question is, what caused this light? The only explanation I have been able to come up with is that it's some kind of sun dog, although I'd never seen one so early in the morning with the sun low in the sky. The clouds in front of a bright sun dog could actually produce this, but if that was the case, you'd see it more often on days with light clouds.

Update - August 7, 2005

Thanks to the Anonymous poster who provided the link on Wikipedia.org. I'm such a big fan of the Wiki that I should have checked there right away. My bad. There's a picture that matches fairly closely what I have shown here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_dog

And for some more really cool pictures of Sun Dogs (Parhelion is the scientific word for Sun Dog):

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Parhelion

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Telus vs. Primus

My phone line was hooked up yesterday, thanks to our local phone company, Telus. When I signed up online, they had a number of fairly reasonable long distance plans and I selected the best one. But I knew full well none of those would satisfy the amount of calling time I need to make!

Primus is offering $24.95 for Unlimited calling in Canada and the United States! My parents have this and while I was there, the savings were enormous. Having a fiance at the other side of the country calls for at least 60 minutes a day on the phone... and I admit we've talked nearly 3 hours at least once. But that's not even close to a friend of hers who, as I understand, talked for 7 hours straight!

Back to my story though. I would like to support the phone company, so I called them up to ask them if they could offer me the same deal as Primus. The guy was pretty blunt about it. "Obviously, we have no unlimited plans." "So you don't offer the same plan as Primus?" I asked. He told me they didn't, and I politely said thank you and hung up.

And then I went to the Primus website and signed up for an account! In a few days I should be chatting limitlessly on the phone, and Telus will be losing the $24.95 a month they could have been getting from me.

Sorry Telus. I gave you a chance. I called nicely, asked for the same plan, but you turned me away. When one of your salespeople calls me to try to win back my business, they may get an earful. They better not tell me you have the plan after all because I'll really be upset that I was lied to.

=(
Developing Story

A regular reader of this blog posted a comment. Apparently Telus offered 2000 minutes since they couldn't match the unlimited plan. That's 33 hours, which isn't too bad really. I'm finding out if this was just done under the existing plan, or if it costed more to get 2000 minutes.

It's interesting to me that Telus does not have a plan in place to automatically offer 2000 minutes to customers who ask about unlimited plans.

Update: August 6, 2005

The 2000 minutes was an upgrade. Instead of only 1000 minutes in Alberta and BC, it became 2000 minutes in North America. Not a bad deal really, but it doesn't compare to the freedom of unlimited!

Bus Rider!

Now that I'm living considerably closer to work, I had to figure out what the best option was for me to commute. Car? Train? Bus? The car is convenient, but more costly when parking is considered. If there was no parking it would be one of the top options I'm sure. Then there's the train. I took the train before, I would just get on a stop much further along the tracks. It's reasonable as far as price goes, and is comfortable, but the schedule is slightly inflexible.

And then there's the bus! The bus is the cheapest alternative. It's also flexible and I can catch any number of buses going each way. The downside is that it's more crowded, there's no air conditioning besides the windows, and there's a risk of having to stand for most of the way there.

So what did I choose?


That's right, the bus! I figure the price is right, and I can handle the slightly worse conditions than I've been used to. I bought the monthly pass and will give it a try until the end of August. If it turns out to be really bad, I can always switch back. If it's good, I'll stick with it.

Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Apartment Picture

A few people have asked to see pictures of my apartment. Most of the ones I took are uninteresting (not much furniture for example), but here's one that gives you a good idea of what the place is like, and it has me in it too!


Internet Back Online

My computer and web server are now back online. I got cable internet set up, but for some reason the router wouldn't pick up the IP address from the modem. After much frustration I finally walked away and waited until tonight.

Someone at work suggested I turn everything off, and start it all back up in order. I don't know why this helps but I figured I'd try it. Modem on... good. Router on... can't really tell but seems good. Computer on... and it works!

So, I'm fully back online, all my photos are available, and life is back to normal!

Move Complete, Minor Problems

After two trips with the van and car, I have almost all of my belongings moved from house to apartment. Many thanks to my parents for all their help. The apartment is really starting to look nice now that furniture is being set up and put into place. It's going to be a really nice place to live.

My internet was hooked up, and seems to be fine, although I am having some difficulty with my router. So, the computer remains offline until I can resolve the problem. I am available via email at home now though.

My phone line is supposed to be hooked up today. I've never had a phone line of my own besides my cell phone, so I don't know exactly how it works. Hopefully I don't need to be home for them to activate it because I won't be there. I have a feeling that's not the case though... internet is different because they have to actually give you the modem and hook it up to make sure it works.

Day three, and the adventure continues!