Friday, December 28, 2007

Boxing Day Sales

I'm all for Boxing Day. If you can challenge the lineups, sure, get the deals and come home a happy camper. But there should be a rule that it's ALL on sale, not just some stuff. As it is, it's not on all sale. So, you get to the store, see something, ask how much, and, alas, not on sale...but you buy it anyways, because it's not going on sale: it's Boxing Day, for crying-out-loud. If it's not on sale now, who knows when it will be!

Enter Boxing Week. Yes, a whole week, dedicated to sales that DIDN'T occur on Boxing DAY, when the masses come out and anything that was bought at regular price on Boxing Day is now ON SALE! Did I not learn this lesson years ago? Did I not get taught this valuable lesson before? How could I have reached this point in my life and not be annoyed by this enough to learn my lesson?

Ok, I'm actually only down $25, what I can tell. It could be more, but I'm basing this on two items. Yeah, two, give me a break....isn't it the principle?

And you know the only logical thing to do is, right? Go right down there, buy the items I purchased and return them back. If you haven't done it before, don't knock it until you do. Sure, I'll probably waste my time is several lineups, but, again, it's the principle.

I'm going to have to remember next year NOT to buy anything at regular price. Maybe that's the one thing I forget each year....hmmm....I'll have to work on that one.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Google, My Car and I

I love Google! Really, it's the best invention ever!

Sure there are other search engines, but nothing beats Google. It's become synonymous with living in the 21st century. Everyone Googles, everyone but perhaps my mom. But everyone should.

I'm only singing my praises because my it helped me change my headlight bulb today. The bulb blew out on the weekend and if I left it to my husband's devices, it would not get fixed until I get a ticket (are there any cruisers out there giving tickets to broken volume controls on TVs?...)

I didn't want to be that guy on the road, the one you flash your lights out to code "hey, get your lights fixed, you moron; I can't see you!". I was ready to raise my hand in salute to the oncoming traffic, to signal my sheepish gratitude to all who flashed me. Yes, I know, I know, but my husband hasn't gotten around to it....

But neither was I going to be the wife who was going to wait for him to do so (there are sooo many things I'm still waiting on around the house!). I thought I could ask my dad to help me, since he's done it before, probably (mine's can't be the first bulb to burn out). Instead of rather help me, though, he'd probably do it himself while I stood idly by. But I couldn't get hold of him, so off to google I go.

I probably should correct myself here, but I found my answer through google but, really, at the website. Here, you can ask a question and the answer is written out in plain english, written by self-acknowledged experts around the world who thought they could shed some light (haha, pardon the pun) on something confusing.

So, after calling my local Honda Parts & Service to see if they were indeed open and they had a Civic '95 bulb for me to buy, at just under $11, out in the snow I went.

On my drive back, I psyched myself up to getting this job done. I read the instructions over and over in the car, memorizing each step, in case someone at the shop asked "you know what you're doing, little lady?" or something condescending like that. I parked the car in the garage, and rolled up my sleeve. Prepare to get your hands dirty, the instructions say. Hmm, I don't like that part. Here goes....

I fiddled around under the hood a bit, working without a light. Besides, the instructions say I can't see a thing anyways, and that I have to feel around. So much for staying as clean as possible.

First off, I have to say I don't know how big burly mechanic hands can get in between the steering fluid compartment and the headlight. My little hands could barely get in there to remove the plug. I then removed the rubber covering but had trouble visualizing the metal clip that's supposed to swing open when I press on it. My husband did come in the garage and provide me with an industrial light to see, which helped me see what the heck he did when he unclipped the metal pin for me. Thanks, I'll take it from here....

I'm sure if my husband tried to do this, he'd put his filthy hands all over the halogen bulb, which you're NOT supposed to do, as the oils will cause it to die prematurely and perhaps even explode violently. He'd probably just grease the whole bulb, thinking I was just being my plain old anal self. I gingerly placed my hands back in that little crevice to align the bulb properly, then reversed the procedures accordingly.

Another adjustment or two, the bulb was fixed! Perfectly aligned, shining brightly in the garage, my husband giving me the thumbs up. I was expecting him to call me a grease monkey or something like that, but he didn't. He's just probably shaking his head again, at my impatience of getting things done fast and doing them myself to spite him.

So, I'm damn proud of myself, and eventually called my dad to brag. Thanks, Google, for being there when we needed you. Now, I can flash my lights at the other morons on the road: Just Google it!


Here's the instructions I followed, if anyone needs it:

I just read that part about removing the steering fluid compartment out before working so it's easier. So that's how those big hands get in there!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas.....bah, humbug?

Merry Christmas, everyone! Ok, it's actually the end of Boxing Day, but it's still Christmas season.

Shopping was brutal this year. I mean it, I am DEFINITELY going to have to start shopping for everyone come January for the next Christmas in 2008! I can't do any of this last minute business again! But actually, it's not the shopping that really kills me, is the lack of preparation. You see, shopping would be sooo much easier if I had a plan. Yes, a plan. If I think someone needs, say, a hair dryer, bam, I go get one and strike that name off the list. But can I plan? Can I decide what to get people first instead of wandering up and down aisles hoping that the perfect gift will just jump off the shelf and scream "Pick me!"?

So most of my gifts this year were more of the "this will do" variety. A little thought being infused in the gift, a six-degrees-of-separation connection was made between my favourite people and the inanimate objects that spoke out to me from the shelves, and almost everyone got a gift. There's always someone you forgot to think of, and it hits you square in the forehead. Flick! Ouch! I actually have a couple people I forgot...maybe more, but I don't want to think of who else I missed.

What sucked this year most is that I didn't have absolutely knock-out gifts for everyone. I like to think I do each year. I did end up giving my dad exactly what he wanted (a leather case for the GPS he bought a couple of weeks ago --- how could I not? He kept on telling me that he saw it at Best Buy but it was $50 so he didn't get it). The only "wow" thing I could think of getting my husband was a universal remote control. Yeah, I know, talk about a sucky gift! It wasn't even one of those Logitech computerized remotes that can do practically anything (I don't doubt it could even flush your toilet for you...). Nope, it was just a simple device, and it's not like we needed another remote to add to the 5 or 6 we already have. I was actually hoping that this remote would help solve the volume control problem we've been having with the other two's been almost a couple of years, and I still hate having to get up and adjust the volume on the TV set. It was a hint, I guess, to my husband to get that volume issue fixed. Subtle?

But what I really should have gotten for him, if I bit the bullet, was Guitar Hero III. He has become absolutely obsessed with this game in the past couple of days, having played it on my dad's Wii and spending a few bonding hours with his friends last night on a PS2. I was thinking of getting it for him, but I didn't know if it was worth investing in PS2 accessories when Wii, XBox and PS3 are so popular these days.

Like in many previous years, my dad and I trudge over to an electronics store to spend our Boxing Day morning. Getting on in years, we haven't gotten around to attacking any 6am lineups. We walked through the doors almost 5 hours later, only to find that many of the things we were secretly hoping were still available were, obviously, gone. We made a pact to come again next year and see if we could bring home something decent with us.

Browsing around the store, I come across a Guitar Hero III bundle for PS2. It's not on sale, there's a pile in the corner, and another pile at the end of the aisle. Hmm.....should I call my husband?

I could hear a shrill of delight as he casually says, "It's your decision if you buy it". Hmm....yeah, right. But how could I deny his inner child?

I brought it home for him and his thankful eyes and shy grin was thanks enough for me. As we speak, he set up a TV in the garage and is jamming away at the guitar while he and his friends also play some rounds of poker. He says they're having way too much fun; I think most of them are there for the guitar and not the poker.

I'm returning the remote control the second I have the chance to do it. I figure that I may still get that volume control fixed anyways. After all, my Guitar Hero out in the garage thinks I'm a pretty cool wife, and I'm not beyond using a little a bribery to get what I want.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I can't sleep. It's 4am and I can't sleep.

My husband isn't home, out to Whistler for an overnight trip to go boarding tomorrow. I'd be in bed by now if he were here (yeah, sorry, nothing salacious!), only because he hates the sound of the tap, tap, tap of me on my keyboard as I send off an email, write my blog, or, gasp, browsing on Facebook. I'm alone, the kid's asleep, and I'm awake.

I'll probably only get 2, maybe 3, hours of sleep before the parade breaks loose around here and Sunday morning gets heralded in by rice krispies and a yet another round of a favourite Pixar DVD.

My husband isn't gone for overnight often, at least not recently, so I feel like Kevin from the movie Home Alone. I laugh when I think of myself running around the house with my arms flailing in the air above my head. It would really be nice to not do anything maternal around the house, and just act like a kid.

Now I'm really dreaming...I guess I should lie down and at least dream in bed awake!

Christmas Shopping & Politics

I FINALLY started my Christmas shopping today! Yay! I actually hit Metrotown, probably the busiest mall at anytime of the year. But I did something smart! I hit only one store and stayed there for 2.5 hours, browsing around and picking up some books for the kids I need to buy for.

One thing, though, I did shop at Chapters, and I couldn't remember why I shouldn't have. After the fact, now, I do (after a little research). Not so smart, after all: principal shareholders of Chapters support Israel Apartheid in the Middle East by financing "lone soldiers" who wish to serve in the Israeli military without having any actual family in Israel. Palestinian civilians, including children, have died at the hands of the Israeli military, driven out of their homes, and thousands remain in captivity. These shareholders have managed to influence Canadian policy on the Israeli war.

Now, I don't pretend to know the whole story. I am a victim of self-centred egoism, worrying only of my current needs, what I should've needed in the past and and what I really need to happen in my future. The world is so much bigger than myself, but "Current Events" actually turns out to be History, because, frankly, I couldn't care less, so I thought. That does need to change. For me, the term Current Events has always meant Social Studies from high school, and since it was never my strength, I've come to alienate myself from it. My mere action of switching stations while the World news is on TV indicates my subconscious fear of war, military regimes, and murder; to ignore the issue should be deemed unethical.

So does this mean the presents I have under my tree will ultimately fund the gun, the bullet, that will cause the untimely death of a Palestinian, perhaps a child? I shudder to think, extrapolations and impossible algorithms aside. Yes, I've contributed to the consumerism of the Holiday Season without any ethical guidance. Will I return the presents? No...they're wrapped (my practicality is blunt, sorry). Whether it's a sin or not, it was an unknowing sin, and although I don't claim to be eternally righteous, nor am I wicked. My sins are not deceptive or habitual, and I repent often (already fulfilling my Advent obligation just a couple of days ago through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, being a practicing Catholic).

Don't barrage me on making Christmas political. Remember, I'm the self-confessed egoist. I'm simply expanding my emotional attachment to all things mistletoe and Baby Jesus and making sense of it all. Perhaps by reassessing my place in the world and how I belong, I may come out a changed person. And change really is good....right?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I want to become a photographer.

Let me backup just a bit.

Years ago, I took a photography course with my cousin, Jennie, at Langara College. It was fun, having never taken a course like that before, and with someone I know. (I usually go and do things crazy like that on my own accord, like when I took a sketching class....that was fun too, even when alone). She was using her new Olympus camera (this isn't the cousin who works for Olympus) while I was using my dad's old Canon from the early 80's. Film photography, not digital. We had studio time, evening time outdoors and darkroom time, and I really got my feet whet. I was really proud of all the photos and slides I developed, and had been meaning to enrol in another course or two.

Then life happened.

I don't know....I seemed to have forgotten about my f-stops and depth of field and white balance and exposures and such. It's totally escaped me. It's escaped me for a long time. I was meaning to brush up on my photography before I had know, so that I, too, could take those oh-so-cute baby portraits. Did I manage to do that, all whilst being a mom? Nope...who had the time?

Now I wanna make time. All this dSLR thinking has gotten me to believe I could pursue this again, this time with a digital camera as my arsenal. Nevermind that I would need a dSLR, but could I do this? I don't want to change careers but I would really like to pursue a life-long hobby. Knitting doesn't count (ok, so I can knit...I'll pick it up again when I'm 90). This I could do, couldn't I?

An old friend of mine from university has a website displaying many of his photo-art, and it's just great. He seems to really enjoy it; if his photos tell me anything, they tell me that. What really encourages me are not the fabulous nature shots but the personality of his little boy shining through the portraits he takes. The joy he captures of his son and wife have really touched a chord with me. And this is a guy who's really, really busy, already a doctor yet still going to school, and he's able to love not only his job to do well in what he does but he marries his family with his hobby, photography. [If you happen to be reading this, Don, by chance, you will remain forever admired in my books]

Langara has a Basic Digital Photography class starting Mondays, January 14, for 12 weeks. It's essentially the digital class of the Basic Photography I took with my film-based SLR. Doesn't hurt to take it over again, since I've already forgotten most of everything. Maybe I can convince my cousin to take the course again with me, or perhaps someone else who may secretly desire becoming a photographer too. Who knows...maybe I'll finally complete that much desired Photography Certificate I wanted years ago.

Now, I only need a camera.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Digital SLR

So, I have a cousin who, basically, works for Olympus (ok, really, a cousin's cousin, but relatives are relative, aren't they?). She's gotten me to check out the Olympus digital SLRs and I'm getting quite intrigued about cameras again.
I think I really enjoy the research and the comparisons, but the toys are nice too.

I bought (or rather, my dad bought) a camera for my birthday earlier this year: a Canon SD730. It's a nice little camera. I wanted something a little smaller than my previous Canon A80, which I bought back in 2003 in a sweet ebay deal. The battery compartment on that camera crapped out on me (what do you expect when a two year old drops it?) and I hadn't bothered to get it fixed yet. It had great little manual controls that produced great photos, even if it was only a 4.0 mp camera. The fact that it could accomodate additional add-on lenses was attractive, yet I should have also reconsidered the reality of actually purchasing these lenses; I never got around to requiring additional lenses.

So although my little point-and-shoot camera is still very nice, that dSLR itch I had a year ago is coming back to haunt me something fierce.

Digital SLRs have really come down in price, and we're talking including lenses (none of this "body only" crap...most consumers are buying their first SLR, and I would think most would not have spare lenses hanging around). There are "prosumer" models, of course, that still run in the couple thousands (or more...though I refuse to find out!) but I'm only considering the novice/advanced photographer models.

I did take a couple of photography courses, which I absolutely enjoyed. The creativity was freeing and boundless...and I'd like to capture that again (no pun intended). We worked with film and not digital, though, so I would like to explore not darkroom photography (though fun) but working on my photo editing skills on Photoshop instead. Enter stage right the digital camera...but who will be the shining star?

I'm a Canon girl. Maybe always will be. But I tend to, on occasion, be dizzily persuaded in other directions before my senses come around (in all aspects of life, not just my shopping skills). Here's what I'm up against: Canon EOS Rebel XTi, Nikon D40x, and the Olympus E-510.

Now, I have only started my research, and it's a toss up still. Canon and Nikon being what they are, dependable, reliable and better upgrade path, the E-510 is gaining much attention to it's improvements, like dust reduction, IS, and noise. So many things to compare!

Great, just what I need....another reason to spend countless hours at the computer. Like I don't do that already.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Identity Theft

So it finally happens....I become an official victim of identity theft.

I got a call Sunday afternoon from a Visa rep from my bank saying they wished to discuss the recent transaction actiivity on my card and to call them 24/7 when I receive the message. Well, it snowed something wonderful on Sunday and I was busy building a snowman with Gabe, so I didn't actually have time to look at my phone until the early evening and notice the voice mail.

So these criminals (I say plural, since in my overrun imagination, there's a circle of thiefs infiltrating through hundreds or thousands of fake credit cards in the province alone, never mind the nation) went on a $1400 spending spree on my card in the previous 2-3 days. A couple of grocery stores, Linens N Things, Canadian Tire, and obviously some gas purchases (since they were driving throughout the Metro to buy all these things!).

Good thing my bank is on top of this. $1400 is really unusual spending for me, well, at least in one weekend. Perhaps if it were one major purchase, then maybe it wouldn't have been flagged. Maybe it was the $1 purchase at the Chevron that tipped them off (they say thieves try the card at the gas station self serve to try the validity of the card). I wonder what was bought....I mean, the almost-$500 at Canadian Tire would be awesome for Christmas gift giving! And I wonder if they bought some tasty Malibu with the $200 at the liquor store? I mean, really, if they wasted it on something like sambuca, I'd be terribly disappointed. And Linens N Things...I hope they were at least decent sheets they bought, with at least 220-thread count. If not, they're the ones that got ripped off.

So the card is cancelled and I cut up the card I had in my wallet (yes, I had the card, so they actually duplicated the whole darn thing for their use!). I'll be getting another card at the bank on Friday, but I'm wary on using it at all for the Christmas Holiday shopping. I guess it's a cash-only Christmas. A very Charlie Brown christmas, indeed. Sorry, Family!