luckycanuck: (Default)

Cut for pics )

Since then I've been doing a lot of studying for my training qualifications, watching the Boxing Day Test (which was an outstanding back and forth affair that was finely balanced and could have gone either way until very late) visiting the beach, and having very little personal contact.  That's suiting me fine this time.  There is no feeling of isolation, in part because I have plenty on the horizon.
luckycanuck: (Maccabi)
No I didn't just doze off and collapse on the keyboard in writing the title of this post.

These words are the emotive climax of the Welsh National Anthem.

I will be supporting Wales against France this weekend because I liked the way Wales played against Ireland, and also because I have some Welsh ancestors.  But I don't want to just claim Welshness for the day based on that.  I would rather actually show some appreciation for it, and learning to sing in an obscure and difficult language will do just that.  So I am going to apply my skills at learning little bits of language to learning to sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

Just FYI, here are the lyrics in Cymraeg.

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mâd,
Dros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.

Gwlad! Gwlad! Pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad.
Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.

And here they are translated into English.

The land of my fathers is dear unto me,
Old land where the minstrels are honoured and free:
Its warring defenders, so gallant and brave,
For freedom their life's blood they gave

Home! Home! True I am to my home!
While seas secure, this land so pure,
O may our old language endure.

It is rousing stuff, especially when belted out by tens of thousands of rugby fans.  Of course, this is not to downplay the French National Anthem, which is pretty stirring too.

Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L'étendard sanglant est levé
L'étendard sanglant est levé
Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras.
Egorger vos fils, vos compagnes!
Aux armes citoyens
Formez vos bataillons
Marchons, marchons
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons

Or in English

Arise children of the fatherland
The day of glory has arrived
Against us tyranny's
Bloody standard is raised
The bloody standard is raised
Listen to the sound in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers
They are coming into our midst
To cut the throats of your sons and consorts
To arms citizens
Form your battalions
March, march
Let impure blood
Water the furrows
of our fields

It's about the most violent national anthem I can think of.  On Saturday I will sing both.

I've always liked national anthems.

I had dinner last night with a friend who works for the US State Department on the Australia desk and who is visiting Canberra right now.  She though Pushups Across America was a great idea.

YW: 100 24kg kettlebell swings, 100 pullups, max hand release pushups for remainder of 30 minutes.  Total, 376 HRPU.  Finisher, 25-20-15-10-5 row calories, bicep curls.
luckycanuck: (Default)

I've not been posting at all for a week or more, so here is the news.


The internet has been very slow at our place and I've been relying on my portable wireless network that gets awful reception at Chez Canuck.  Two groups of tradies have been here on three days in the past week and now things are working much better.  Hooray!  You can do wonderful things when you don't have to be at work every day.  With one more visit tomorrow we should be up to normal speeds.

Chez Canuck

Helga is leaving.  It's sad.  I was closer to her than anyone else in the house.  She's just moving to a new suburb and we will see her again but this will have a greater impact on me than losing Alleluia.  We have managed to find someone to take her room though.  I put an ad up and within 15 minutes we had a response.  Miss Lara (named for Lara from Dr Zhivago) came by later that evening and we decided on her (after seeing a friend of Esky who woud up taking a place down the street from us.)

The Gym

I've had some pretty good workouts.  Today involved doing a total of 173 pullups.  Tuesday involved participating in a 500m rowing challenge being staged this week and having the second fastest time of the day by two seconds and being asked if I was a firefighter while playing with sandbags. Sunday involved a "heavy day" with heavy weights and low reps.  I managed to bench press more than I ever have and deadlift more than I ever have.  (120kg and 150kg respectively.)

The Fireys

I have officially applied to join the ACT Rural Fire Service.  If I am approved (and I will be) I will become a member within two or three weeks.


With my "getting fired" money in my account, I have been picking opportunities in the market.  I invested in EKA which is quite similar to AUT in pumping oil in Texas.  I also sank some money into Billabong which fell 25% in one day despite announcing a profit, an increase in sales, and a dividend.  It fell further but seems to have stabilised.  A hoped for quick rebound leading to a sell the next day didn't materialise, but I am standing by to sell if things look right now that the stock seems to be recovering.  I put more money into CCV after they announced a record profit but didn't surge.  They are going to be partially taken over at a premium shortly and I wanted more of that action.  But today it dropped through the floor half an hour before an announcement was made that new proposed government policies might impact their business.  There may have been insider trading at work.  At any rate, I put more in at a discount, but if I had known what others may have known I may have hesitate earlier in the week.  BOW also got a takeover offer which will mean I will almost certainly make a quick profit one way or another.  The share price may have been manipulated down to enable a cheaper offer to be made, but the lowball offer may bring out other buyers and bid the price up.  I will make a profit on this one, but the prospect of a larger profit is there.

General stuff

I'm getting used to this.  This has become my job for the moment and "working" from home has been good.  I made everyone dinner on Monday and have been standing in the front room in the sun feeling happy.

Still feeling detached though, and the gloom is still around.  Therapy hasn't provided answers yet and I'm not sure if I believe or understand the mindfulness techniques, though I do get along well with my psychologist.

luckycanuck: (madmen)

I realised late this afternoon that they were interviewing my replacement today.  A couple of candidates came by and W was in town as he is currently acting opposition leader.  I actually wrote some letters and got them signed today and have now cleared off most of the corro that is left (or found excuses not to respond to it.)  We are well and truly into my last week now.

I also sold a lot of stock today.  The market was down again and the panic isn't over, but my selling wasn't panic selling.  I took a look at my portfolio and decided I could get rid of IMF for a gain, and parts of JRL, PVE, and KKT for losses even though most of them were flat or up a bit today, but I've kept most of my holdings in them.  So I spread the selling around a bit amongst stocks that I thought were not likely to shoot through the roof tomorrow, that would reduce my exposure to lightly traded stocks, and that would give me the cash on hand to participate in the VMG capital raising in time.  I've never had problems buying, and I hope I'm getting better at selling.

I had been fatigued from the weekend, but I wasn't going to miss the chance for a solid workout.

TW: AMRAP 30 minutes: 20 walking lunges with 28kg, 10 burpees, farmers walk up and down the stairs with 40kg, run 400m. 8 rounds exactly.  I felt quite high and hungry when I got home.

By the time I got home Roxy had made dinner, the first Chez Canuck meal since Esky moved in last night.  It was lamb shanks with apricots and couscous. 

Afterwards there was the inaugural use of Roxy's chocolate fountain.

The entertainment for the evening was a screening of Boy, which was great.


luckycanuck: (Maccabi)
It was a pretty good weekend, but when I got home I really felt like I was crashing.

I made it to rugby early and was really switched on by kickoff.  As I waited on the sidelines I picked up a ball that was at my feet and repeatedly bashed it against my forehead.  My war face was on and a supporter shouted at me to "get angry."   We were playing a team we came up against a few weeks ago and lost a close fought game while being frequently penalised and having a total of three guys sin binned.

This time I was put on in the second half to replace a guy who was exhausted from hitting rucks and making tackles.  Two minutes later he had to come back on as one of the other back rowers hurt his ankle.  The scores were level at 10 when they got the ball out of a ruck and passed it back to their fly half who wound up for a kick.  I was quick enough off the mark to get there just in time to block it with my face.  It bounced forward and I was in hot pursuit.  One of our backs got to it first but wasn't able to pick it up so he kicked it forward to chase it over the try line.  Unfortunately he put just a little too much on it.  With a really lucky bounce or with a few more metres of in goal we would have had a try.

They wound up deep in our end but we managed to get the ball back and one ruck turned into a bit of a shoving match before my opposite number punched one of our guys from behind and got a yellow card.  He was lucky it wasn't a red.  With twelve minutes left they wouljd be a man down for all but the last two minutes.

We kicked it deep, won the resulting lineout, and held on to the ball for several phases.  It was a real team effort.  Everyone had a hand in keeping the play alive.  There were plenty of offloads including one that came to me to run forward about three or four more metres before  getting tackled and getting a knee in the face and a mouthful of dirt.  On the next phase we got nearly to the line and with one more push, by the time I got to my feet we were over.

Then we managed to hold off a late charge and kept them pinned back in their own half.  Final score, Convicts 17 Brothers 10.  We sang the Convicts Victory Song louder than I have ever heard.  THOOOOOOOOOOOSE MAAAAAAAAAAAGNIFICENT MENT FROM THE CONVICTS ARE HERE!

I wasn't going to come to Sydney next weekend as I have plans on Saturday, but now that we are into the next round and after the high of Saturday I will have to see how I can rearrange things.

Then I got cleaned up enough to pick up Minxyminou who was coming up to stay at the Collaroy Castle, a place with which she is very enamoured.  We went out to a Mexican place in the next suburb that she was quite keen to try.  The portions weren't huge but the quality was excellent.

I made lots of tea and put together a pretty good breakfast in the morning and the two of us went down to the beach, though only I went in.  Minou looked very odd standing on the beach dressed all in black with a bikini clad girl getting a tan on one side of her and a guy setting up his surfboard on her other side.  Very unsurfie.

It was a great weekend in a lot of ways, but by the time I got back home I was really coming down.  There was a lot to come down from.

I guess I will have a few things to talk about when I go back to the psychologist tomorrow morning.  I've not actually been properly sad for a long time (if you don't count last night's gloom), and I've had a lot ot be happy about, but my feelings of being detached are still as strong as ever.
luckycanuck: (convicts rugby)

Alleluia is leaving, which means we are replacing her with a new housemate.  We put out an ad and got a lot of response and two people came to view the place yesterday.

We were happy with both but we wound up settling on the older (and quieter) of the two.  And get this, she has been to the Olympics twice.  The freakin' OLYMPICS!!!

I mean she didn't win, but still.  OLYMPICS!!!!!!

She's taking up a teaching job in a suburb not far from Chez Canuck and she seems like she will fit nicely into the house.  The prospective nickname is "Esky" because it sounds not to far off from her real name and because it has been something like a dozen years since she has had a summer.  Really.  Every Australian summer she has been off in the northern hemisphere

This, of course, means that I will almost certainly no longer be the sportiest/fittest person in the house, and I am without question not the best cross country skier.  But I think this story is cool enough that I don't mind losing that mantle.  Anyway, I bet I'm still the best at wife carrying.

I had dinner with Coffee Snob last night.  There is also a room to be filled in her place and because she was home alone she wanted someone to be there when unfamiliar men came to the house.  So in exchange for looking all intimidating, I got this.

Ecuadorian chicken stew, avocado, rice, and refried plantains.  It's good having friends who can cook.

I'm currently trying to pick up some more shares in JRL which I feel are grossly undervalued, and I think I will approve and participate in the capital raising for VMG.  I may get rid of it after a while.  Clearly I've held on too long, and I hope I can use this as a learning experience.  I have also applied for a margin loan.  I've never dealt with margin trading and I don't plan to go too far into it.  I've applied for the smallest credit limit available, but it does present the opportunity to increase some of my holdings like CCV and AUT and to get into new ones like NAB that offer stable and long term growth.  This would not be the place for something risky, and I have no intention of getting leveraged up to the hilt.  Still this stands to be the largest debt I've ever taken on.

I will be getting my unused annual leave paid out when I go and I will likely have another job to go into, but I will have to keep more cash around than I otherwise would given what will become my new working situation.

I also tried to sign into Google+ and was told to come back later.  Not encouraging.  The big new social media platform being run by the biggest kind on the block and they can't handle the capacity.
luckycanuck: (convicts rugby)

I told most of the politicians I was leaving yesterday afternoon and over steak in the evening.  One fringe benefit of this job is that there is these kind of perks, in the case wagyu steaks donated by the Beef Council (or some similarly named group) on account of our side doing a lot to help them out during the recent live export controversy.  I am more aware of these fringe benefits now.  I even managed to write some letters today.

I managed a short workout last night.  It lasted just 10 minutes but it took on a dynamic I've not frequently experienced.

YW: 5 60kg cleans, 5 burpees, 5 60kg cleans, 5 burpees - every two minutes for ten minutes.

It wasn't a lot of reps, it wasn't a huge amount of weight, and it didn't take long, but the combination was tougher than I thought.

I also came across this article today as sent to me by Coffee Snob.  The cause of getting women to workout for real rather than float around on the elliptical machine without breaking a sweat and "toning" with low weights has been of interest to me recently.  Katie lifted.  Katie got strong.  Katie still looks like a woman.

This morning I played touch rugby.  NSW won State of Origin Touch Rugby 10-7 and I managed a couple of explosive runs that ended up in tries (and another where all I had to do was catch the ball and put it down.)  I am now expecting to be called up to play for the Blues next year as they lost to Queensland for the sixth straight time.  Sometimes they are switched on, but so often they just make lazy or embarassing mistakes.

My ankle was fine (untaped this time) and it should be fine this weekend with the Convicts.

No dinner this week.  But we will be back on next week I hope.  This is the first time we've missed a week.

luckycanuck: (Default)
I was having a bit of a work rant just now and wound up letting slip to our media guy that I am planning to leave.  Then I told the diary secretary.  I also mentioned to both that depression was part of the reason why.

So now more people know, and I think I will tell more tomorrow.  Next week is likely to be my last sitting week in this job, and I will have to tell a lot of people as I won't be around they next time they come back.

I still haven't told CoS in part because he's not here and in part because that would feel so final.  I will have to get used to the idea though.

Last night dinner went very well.  I made teriyaki kangaroo stirfry and everyone was duly impressed by my culinary talents (or my culinary ability to make a simple dish that's not easy to screw up.)  Tonight I will be having dinner with Cupcake Goddess.

Today is the last day of the tax year, and I sold some shares in Nexbis that I bought at 38.5 cents for 8.5 cents, a loss of nearly 80%.  I made some capital gains during the year and I wanted to have something to offset them.  I've still got some shares that I paid less than 8 cents for in the event that they rebound, but the tax benefits of the loss will be available to me.

I also managed to get deeper into Konekt as someone else was willing to sell at my buying price (perhaps to realise a loss just as I did.)  The stock is currently trading below its book value and I think it is unrealistically low.

I realised this morning that when it comes to the VDM fiasco, I was less concerned about the money I stand to lose than I expected.  I know that sometimes you lose money, and I was prepared for that.  The question that concerned me more was whether or not I had made a mistake.  I had thought about getting out earlier this year, and I could have made a profit rather than ending up worse off.  Being a failure (for lack of a better term) was of greater concern to me than the financial loss (though I'm not wild about that either.)

Off to the gym.  Deadlifts today I think.  Heavy ones.  Then tabata kettlebell swings, hand release pushups, sit ups, and pullups.
luckycanuck: (Default)
Little was done at work today.  I'm not sure if I even answered the phone.  The whisperer wasn't even whispering.

TW: AMRAP 20 minutes - 10 burpees, 10 heavy bag get ups, 10 heavy bag lunge walk, 40kg farmers walk up and down the stairs.  Total: 7 even.  DOMS is a good feeling.

By the time I got home dinner preparation was in full swing.  Today we improvised pizza with various things we had around the house.  It went very well.  While doing the dishes I wandered around the house a bit and felt all wistful about the Collaroy Castle.  I instinctively want to say I have mixed feelings, but I don't.  My feelings are uniformly negative.

Overall a much better day than last week, but no idea what the rest of the week will be like.  I've not told anyone that I'm leaving yet, at least not definitively.
luckycanuck: (Mr Happy)

YW: Capping off the long weekend with a chest centric day.  10,9...1 Bench press and hand release pushups.  10 ring pushups, 10 clean and press, 10 ring pushups, 10 clean and press, 10 heavy bag getups.  Then to finish off: 1 minute maximum hand release pushups, 1 minute rest, continue until 300 pushups done.  Hand release pushups are much tougher than regular pushups and it took me a total of 14 minute 50 seconds.

I had a coffee afterwards with one of my gym friends and she and I agreed that not enough women do weights.

When I got home the house was full again with everyone back from short long weekend trips here and there.  It was time again for our traditional Monday night dinner, and Alleluia really went all out given that she had all day to plan.

Click for the menu and for nomulent photos )

The weekend of coupleyness continued as a friend of Helga came by with the guy she is seeing.  At one point we nearly had equal numbers of the sexes at Chez Canuck, but normality resumed soon enough.

I'm so glad I live where I do.
luckycanuck: (Mr Strong)

I wound up not having a Sunday workout, but I made up for it today.

TW: Appetiser: 100 24kg kettlebell swings with 10 pullups every time I set it down.  Main course: Burpees and sit ups - 15,14...1.  Dessert: 20 15kg bag lunges, 20 pushups with hands on the bag.

There was a guy sitting down at a table waiting for someone while I was having my main course.  I did the whole thing while he sat there waiting to start his workout.

I was pretty high after my workout and got back to the car in a floaty state of mind.

When I got home it was nearly time for beef and guinness stew which was brought over by a friend of Helga for our now traditional Monday dinner.  One of these days it will be my turn to cook.  There was talk about the guys the girls are seeing, including ones who are going to be split up with soon and ones for whom someone left dinner early.  I maintained my status as the household tea boy and did the washing up, and now we are watching Offspring as usual.

I live in a girly household and that is fine by me.

luckycanuck: (Mr Lazy)
I was at the therapy place again on Friday, and I saw a woman this time.  This one was a better fit.  She and I went through what has been going on with me recently including the work announcement that has been causing mixed feelings.  Her assessment was that I met the criteria for having depression.  So there it is.  The next step she recommended was to contact my GP and see if I could get a referral to a psychologist for further work (the work therapist is only meant to be a stopgap measure.)

I felt a bit odd over the weekend.  I meant to go to the gym on Friday night but a combination of it being cold and me feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything kept me at home.  On Saturday I did much less than I initially had hoped, and only wound up getting to the gym late in the day.  I just couldn't seem to get motivated to go.  For me this is odd, because I generally don't need much motivation.  It was a bit disconcerting to be so lacking in motivation for something I like.  I was just overcome with inertia for most of the day.

On top of that, I set up a circuit and was starting to go through it when I banged my ankle doing lateral jumps about two mintues in.  It wasn't a crippling injury, but it did force me to change my plans and do work that had me sitting down pressing weights rather than hobbling around.

On Sunday I was similarly unmotivated, but I did manage to take my phone in to be repaired.  The keypad is frustratingly unresponsive and at times requires me to press a key a dozen or so times before recognizing that I've done so.  Also when it's in GPS mode sometimes it randomly zooms in and out like it's having a seizure or something.  For the moment, I am using my old phone of the same type which gave me no problems until the screen got a blank spot right in the middle.  Now it seems to be fine.

I made it into the gym late in the day and managed to have a really huge workout though.

YW: AMRAP 20 minutes: 10 bicep curls, 10 pullups, 10 upright rows left, 10 upright rows right. 12 full rounds plus the bicep curls and pullups.  All those exercises worked similar muscle groups and I am quite sore today.  I topped it off with a 5 rounds of rowing 400m and 10 burpees.  I'm getting better at burpees.

I sent my CV off to the Prime Minister's office in Canada.  This may not amount to anything but it is at least an option.  It does give me the sense that I'm doing something and who knows what can come of such networking opportunities.  I also informed the director of the party that I was going to be going when I found a new job.  He's disappointed but not upset and said he would keep his ears open.  He also suggested I contact one of his predecessors who is a mutual friend and who is high up in Woolworths.

Tonight it is our house dinner.  Potato and leek soup is on the menu.
luckycanuck: (Default)
Rugby last weekend was short lived.  I was fine during the warm up provided that there was no contact and I didn't have to change direction.  Because those things rarely happen in rugby.  They wanted me to start at Number 8 but I said I would probably be better off on the bench.  They did put me on mid way through the second half and in my first ruck my ankle got knocked (not turned or twisted but just bumped) and I foud myself limping to follow the play.  I did get thrown the ball and suddenly felt no pain as I ran it forward into contact.  Getting up, however, I felt all sore again and realised that I was going to have little impact on the game like that in addition to needlessly risking myself.  We were up by three tries late in the game anyway and an injury could have put me out for the season if it went wrong.  I did, however, enjoy the fact that I am one game closer to making 100 appearances for the Convicts.

I drove a teammate with a broken hand (that I may have broken in the first ruck where I knocked my ankle) to hospital before going on to the next game.  Both our teams wound up winning in solid displays, and I told some of my teammates that I was looking for work, possibly in Sydney.

It was nice to have a whole day in Canberra for the end of the weekend and I spent a fair amount of it at the gym in a pretty intense workout.

SunW: The Filthy Fifties: 50 shoulder press, 50 kettlebell swings, 50 calorie row, 50 bicep curls, 50 dynamic pushups, 50 toes to bar, 50 bench jumps, 50 pullups, 50 dips, 50 burpees.

I was reminded during the workout that I like girls.  Also, I am always impressed by girls who lift.  I think not enough of them do. One of my fellow patrons and I had a conversation about borrowing Crossfit workout principles into creating our own taxing and brutal workouts.

On Monday I picked up Coffee Snob from the airport which made me late for work, and also picked out a fabric and a design for my next new suit.  Apparently they are going to narrow the lapels by about half an inch because that is the fashion now.  Fine.  I wouldn't have known but I'm happy to go along with that.  Shopping for suits is much easier when this is all I have to do.  The tailor remembered me and was pleased that I had given him referrals.

Then it was another full on day at the gym, but not before I prevented a woman from disrobing in the mens changing room.  Somehow a woman got almost to the point of taking her shirt off before I asked "are you sure you're in the right place?"

YW: 5 rounds of: Row 400m, 30 seconds L-hang (which was VERY hard), 30 kettlebell swings.  Then I practiced my form on squats a bit, then did 50 burpees (I have decided to do 50 burpees in every workout in the hopes of improving at them) and 10 heavy bag getups.

When I got home dinner was on.  This is becoming a regular Monday evening thing it would seem.  Roxy had made a very nice stirfry and we all ate together.  I think I would be quite happy if we continued doing so.  I contributed som chocolate I had around and I also made the tea and did a bunch of dishes while they watched Masterchef.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)

I felt a tiny bit odd yesterday while being dropped off at the backpackers where I stayed.  Nothing was implied, but part of me wondered if I could be seen as too old to be staying at a backpackers.  At any rate, I moved to new digs today.  It's another backpackers and it's located in the old Ottawa Jail.  I am staying in a cell.Cut for pics )
No political work was done today.  I'm not sure if I will get into the central campaign HQ.  Obviously people have bigger priorities than me.  It would be great to get in and there is stil a chance, but I'm not sure if PP will come through with this networking opportunity.  On the other hand, if I can even meet some of these people socially outside of their workplace it would still be useful.  I'll probably do a bit of work tomorrow afternoon.  I'm on holiday, sure, but this is a key reason I came to Ottawa specifically and I would like to see it through.

I had dinner tonight with a friend of mine from university who now works for the Department of Foreign Affairs and has had her share of postings overseas.  It was good catching up but I do kind of wish her brother hadn't come along.  He's a nice guy, but I don't know him and it complicated social interaction and meant I couldn't be as frank and comfortable as I would have liked to have been.  Also I had bubble tea for the first time ever.  I'm not sure what the big deal is.  The place was crowded with quite a few annoying hipsters and I'm pretty sure the guy making the tea was high.
luckycanuck: (Default)

One thing that happens when you meet old friends whom you've not seen in a long time is that they make observations about you that can surprise you.

Observations made in the last day...

Read more... )
luckycanuck: (Default)
I bought a new camera today.  Man technology is getting cheap!  Just like me.

I also swung by my old university and went up to the history department.  My MA thesis supervisor is now the department head and he was recently in Australia studying cattle ranches in the Northern Territory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as compared to the same experience in Canada.  (Can you see why I decided a career in academia was probably not for me?)  I may be seeing him if he comes to Canberra and introducing him to one of our Senators who knows more about cattle in the Northern Territory than anyone else I know.

An e-mail arrived today from America.  It was from a guy who is part of a consultancy that uses data and demographics at a far more sophisticated and detailed level than I do.  They have data goes way beyond the census and includes consumer information.  I don't know how they get it, but it is far beyond what I do and it does interest me.  These guys have helped target political campaigns just like I do, and have applied their analysis in commercial areas too.  I've done pretty well starting up a demographic project on my own time with no support and part of me wondered if the fact that I have done similar work to them on such an independent basis would possibly be a window of opportunity in career terms.

I've gone on about having slightly itchy feet, but the idea of moving overseas again and starting over from nothing like I have done so many times before is really a non-starter for me.  But if had set up opportunity to move into (even for just a few months) I think the experience would be great, and would mean I had reached a solid five on the list of countries I've lived in.  I always preferred my holidays to be working holidays anyway.

Well, this is all just an idea now.  It may not be practical, but even the idea of it has put me in a good mood.

I'm off to dinner with some high school friends tonight whom I've not seen in years.  Hooray for Facebook!
luckycanuck: (Default)
I've been on the go almost constantly, and I'm exhausted.  I'm also getting a sore throat.  That's what comes from doing pushups in the rain on the Staten Island Ferry.

I've now been to all five boroughs, adding Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens overnight.  Staten Island was just a ferry trip so I could add it to the list and get a view of the city from the water, Brooklyn was intended to be a visit to Di Fara's Pizza (apparently the best in the city, as I confirmed with last night's dinner companion) but they are closed on Monday and Tuesday.  What closes in New York for two days straight??  Instead I had a bagel in what was the most Jewish neighbourhood I have ever been in.  I also made it to Coney Island for more iconic pushup photos, but found that on a grey and rainy November afternoon it is a depressing place.

I also made it to Queens at long last to dine with JAQ for the first time since "meeting" her two years ago.  We've both been remarkably vulnerable around each other, and meeting for real felt so natural, like we had been friends for years.  If I had gone all the way to New York and not met her it would have been a tragedy, but luckily it wasn't.  I added pushups on the porch of her walk up to round out the evening.

I've really liked New York, and I do hope to be back.  It's not too far from my family in Canada, and when I've come that far it would be hard to justify not going a little bit further.  I've met people here who I really hope to meet again, either here or there, and at the moment I feel a bit sad that I won't be able to see them again for a long time.

As great as New York has been, I have found myself feeling a bit lonely at times.  I went to a party on Sunday night (yes, New York has parties on Sundays, and apparently this group of cool but not insufferably cool people has a party on Wednesday too which I will attend if I can engineer an airline strike.)  The party was great, but when heading back to the hotel I found myself feeling very lonely.  I'm pretty good at being alone, and a lot of the time I prefer it, but I did feel very isolated.  I guess New York can be like that.  At dinner last night I learned that New York can be quite a depressing place to be single, but it can also be a wonderful place to be in love.  I think I would like that.

There has also been a lot of pressure to enjoy things here.  I know I'm only here for a few days so I want to get the most from everything I do.  That's reasonable, but it also puts a lot of pressure on me.  If I know that this may be the one and only time I meet someone or visit a place, I really want to tick off all the proverbial boxes and not leave anything undone. Many of the people I've met and places I've been I WILL see again, but some I may not, and it's a bit sad to think "that's the last time I will ever get to speak to x or visit y."

I've got some more photos to take and I will try to pick something up for my sister and pop into a few more restaurants that had bee recommended to me.

See you in Calgary tonight.
luckycanuck: (Default)

We had a rally for Rick Scott (Republican candidate for Governor of Florida) yesterday, complete with Dunkin Donuts and boxes (yes, you read that right, BOXES) of coffee.

That's possibly soon to be Governor Scott and just behind him, former Governor Jeb Bush.

One of my colleagues did a bit of a write up about the races in Florida but I won't go into great depth here.  It's kind of odd being at one of these rallies.  They are totally focussed on getting out the vote, asking those who haven't yet voted to raise their hands and calling on them to vote today and therefore be available to work on election day.  There is also very little effort made to appeal to swinging voters.  (At one point they introduced the candidate for Attorney General and described her as being "a prosecutor who knows all about putting people in jail.  She's even put people on death row!")  It is overwhelmingly aimed at the base.  The same was true at the Democrat rally attended by my Labor/Green friends I heard later on.

At any rate, apparently the Republicans are doing a lot better on advance voting compared to previous elections, and turnout seems to be favouring them.  Tuesday we will know.  In the meantime I did speak to a number of people I may be meeting again during my visit to Washington, and who have plenty of expertise in areas of campaigning that are of interest to me.

We returned to the hotel and had some time off before heading out to the local football game between the University of Central Florida Knights and the Eastern Carolina University Pirates, and we got ourselves properly outfitted.

Yes, the best souvenirs are obscure.  I chose the number because it had the closest to my number in rugby without being absurdly too big.

Every time they were defending a third down there was a disturbing quasi fascist gesture using three fingers, which looks fine when one person does it but which looks kind of disturbing when 10,000 do it.

And while we are on the subject, the turnout surprised me.  I knew football was a big deal, but there were more people at a game between two universities I had never heard of three weeks ago than there would be at a regular NRL game.

There was a bit of upskirt action amongst the cheerleaders.


And the game ended in a satisfying 49-35 victory for the home team.  I still prefer rugby though.

We got back to the hotel and quickly turned around and went back out for dinner on a Saturday night.  That's when the aspie stress began.  First we were about to go to a place we had been to on our first night in Orlando.  Then we decided against that and went elsewhere (which was fine by me.)  At dinner, however, they got my order wrong twice by making it rare instead of medium rare and by not giving it to me in the same style as one of my colleagues after I said "I'll have exactly the same but make mine medium rare."  I ate it and it was fine, but I was silently seething.  Also they only had bottles of mass produced beer (I've not come all this way to have Bud or Miller or Coors) so I drank nothing.  Then when the bill came we looked at it and everyone decided to just split it equally rather than work it out individually.  Normally that's fine by me except that would have resulted in me who had a simple meal and no drinks at all tipping nearly 200%.  I couldn't contain my annoyance any further and refused to pay what everyone else did.  I wasn't snippy and nobody took any offense.

Eventually I calmed down and found that there was one interesting beer available in the street that had been blocked off for a Halloween  party.  The first thing I noticed was that Americans take Halloween VERY seriously.  These were not just improvised costumes put together at the last minute (of course, we had nothing at all in the way of costumes, though my "Your favourite band sucks" t-shirt was photographed by a few people) but they were carefully put together or had been professionally made.

I wound up becoming Facebook friends with two girls called Molly whom I met in a crowded street scene in Orlando.  Hooray!
luckycanuck: (Default)

We checked out of the San Francisco hotel after I slept in until 8:38 and missed my planned morning workout.  I did however get a photo of this view from my room looking up the hill.

We had one meeting with an environmental lobby group that does a lot of microtargeting much like the work I do with demographics but with more data.  I'm interested to hear more.  I also found out that they are forbidden from co-ordinating directly with campaigns.  It still looks like the vast majority of campaigning is done by professionals rather than lobby groups or staff.

After that meeting we were done the organised schedule for the day.  So on the way to Sacramento we stopped off at a winery for lunch.

Click to see pics of drinking... and cheese. )

In the process of lunching and wine tasting, I did speak to a number of local California voters.  In fact, the second winery was only visited on account of a recommendation from a woman at the first winery with whom I struck up a conversation.  There were plenty of opinions to be had about how Jerry Brown ruined the state and how Meg Whitman just wants to be the first female President.

We arrived in Sacramento and there was enough time for a workout dinner.

TW: A warmup including plenty of exercises from upside down hang turns and pushup pulls.  Then 10 tricep extensions, 10 dynamic pushups, 10 situps - 10 rounds.

We had dinner together (the town seemed very quiet and not much was open compared to San Francisco) and on the way back four of us stopped by another bar for a drink where a live band called "Be Bold Brave Robot" was playing in an acoustic country style.  It wound up being much more interesting.  I wound up striking up another random conversation (I do tend to be very good at doing that sometimes, mostly on account of not having enough sense to be shy) with two guy who work in the office of the Speaker of the California Assembly.  We talked about comparative politics for a while before they asked if we would like a tour of the building tomorrow.  Uhhhhh... YES!  Hooray for random conversations!

luckycanuck: (Default)

Today we visited the organisers of our tour, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, (where I decided that there is no reason to change the way Australians vote after finding out a bit more about the ramshackle system whereby one Congressional District can have as many voting systems as it has counties within it's boundaries) the Editorial Board of the Oakland Tribune, and the office of 77 year old Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has over seven times as many staff as W has (but then again, she represents a state with 37 million people) but viturally none of whom can do anything political.  The political work here seems to be done largely by professional political campaigners.  I seem to have a lot of questions I didn't know I had.

Afterwards I managed to withdraw some cash from the card they gave me, and found my way into Macy's, where I bought two pairs of jeans that were identical except for the colour.  America seems to have more jeans made for people who don't have bodies normally found on the singers of emo bands.  And they were cheap, and I got an additional 10% off using a card from the hotel... because I'm a bit cheap too.

Afterwards I avoided dinner with the others who went to Fisherman's Wharf (I went in 2008) and felt I would rather have my last night in San Francisco on my own.  Instead, I went to Zeitgeist to finish my tour of minxyminou suggestions.  It was interesting and I switched to a much better beer (Downtown Brown, a micorbrewery beer of which there seem to be many) but there was more of an insufferable hipster mood.  Change for my $4.50 beer from a $10 bill was given as five singles rather than a five, so I could easily tip the usual amount.  It's much easier when they make it simple to tip.  Afterwards there was dinner at a Mexican place that I spotted in 2008 but didn't eat at.  There was a long queue and a lot of good food to be had.  I've had more Mexican food here in three days than in the previous five years combined.

Pictures now.

Cut for space. )


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