Friday, March 31, 2006

the BEST way to travel

Everyone always says that the BEST way to travel in Europe is by rail. Now, no one ever said that it was the cheapest way to travel! We just spent Cdn$210 for the 2 of us to travel by train from Paris to Le Mans (return) for MotoGP. That's one expensive train ride! On the plus side, we're taking the TGV, France's high speed train. We are going to travel 200 km in 56 minutes. Wow. That's 200 km/h. What a way to get primed for a motorcycle race! On second thought, maybe that train ride is not so expensive...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

catching up with friends

It seems that time flies by so quickly and before you know it, you haven't visited with friends in a few months! This is the way it has been with ex-Chancery friends - Jean and Danny. When I first left Chancery in December 2004, the 3 of us would get together for brekkie before work once every couple of weeks. Eventually, that tapered to once a month...

In August 2005, Jean left Chancery and then in December 2005, Danny left. By that time, we were barely getting together once every couple of months!

Today, we met for brekkie for the first time since October 2005 - ai-yah! It was great to catch up with them - so much to talk about - Jean has since gotten engaged! We are so excited for her - Congratulations Jean and Dave!

I miss hanging out with my ex-Chancery friends. We vowed that we wouldn't leave it that long before our next gathering. I guess only time will tell...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

the miracle of twins

My brothers are twins - Lawrence and Leonard. They are the youngest of the 5 of us siblings. When they were born it was like a small miracle in our family. It didn't matter to the rest of us that they were always the centre of attention - after all, they were "the twins".

Last week, Brian's sister, Renee, found out via ultrasound that they are going to have twins - a boy and a girl! To me, it's like a small miracle all over again. I'm sure that the prospect of having twins is quite daunting to the parents. I can't imagine. But no matter what, there is an air of excitement that it brings and the Van Dop's are thrilled to be welcoming twins into the family. Congratulations Renee and Geoff!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

the meaning of 4-way stop

The power went out in a large grid in Vancouver yesterday night.  I was in pottery class on Granville Island, throwing a pot on the wheel.  Needless to say, my pot will likely look a little wonky and unfinished <sigh>.  We were told to go home because no one knew when the power would come back.  So I cleaned up as best I could in the dark and hopped in my car for the drive home.

Firstly, it is a WIERD feeling to be immersed in total darkness in the middle of the city.  Granville Island was eerily dark.  And having no street lights feels like something out of a horror movie.

Secondly, and most important, if you are driving on the streets and the traffic lights are not working, please remember to exercise the 4-way stop procedure!  This means that you stop at the light as you would if there were stop signs in each direction at the intersection.  Sounds pretty easy, eh?!  Apparently not!  Some people think that it is a 'keep going because the cars in front of you went and cross traffic is stopped anyway' procedure.  Everyone is still trying to get somewhere and we're all trying to do it with as much order and courtesy as possible. So, please remember the 4-way stop procedure...

Friday, March 10, 2006

am i neurotic?!

I often ask myself this question.  After spending what amounts to a total of 24 hours (!) searching for a hotel in Paris for 5 nights, I've concluded that, yes, I do have some neuroses.  In the end, I booked a hotel that I think fits the criteria of:

1. Located in a typical Parisien neighbourhood rather than a touristy area (it's in the Rue Monge area of the 5th arrondissement)
2. Reasonably priced (it's 79 euro a night)
3. Clean bathroom (all the reviews say the rooms are immaculate)
4. Basically, not a total dive (it's ranked 75 out of 1540 hotels in Trip Advisor)

Brian likes the hotel and I consulted my expert (Sarah Hosking, who lived in Paris for a few months last year).  So, in the end, I think I made a good choice.  I think.  Aargh...what if it's not?!  Then I wasted 24 hours of my time doing research!  And I won't have a good Parisien experience!  Oh look - there's that neurosis again...

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

renewing my relationship with the ice

It took me awhile to post this, but I had to collect my thoughts...

I haven't been following figure skating closely since 2001, when World's was in Vancouver.  The players back then were the likes of Yagudin, Kwan, Sale & Pelletier and Bourne & Kraatz and I actually took 2 days off work to watch the events at GM Place.  When you're a figure skater, you do things like that.

Since then, though, I've fallen off the skating bandwagon.  Maybe it was because I was in Dublin for the Winter Olympics and couldn't find any Canadian coverage; maybe it was because skating was becoming too technical and I wasn't interested in seeing who could land the most triple jumps in 4.0 to 4.5 minutes.

During the Torino Olympics, all the figure skating commentators could talk about was how some skaters are benefitting from new scoring system and some are not.  It drove me CRAZY!  Since when did figure skating become all about the scoring system?!  I miss the days when figure skating was sans politics - when I could just sit back and enjoy the performances.

And to top it all off, I'm sick of hearing Elvis Stojko say things like "Jeff Buttle needs to land a quad in competition in order to move up the podium...".  This coming from someone who doesn't have an artistic bone in his body!  Also, Jeff Buttle did us proud with a bronze medal at Torino.  As I recall, that is only one step down the podium from you, Elvis Stojko, with all your quads and triples!

To me, figure skating is not about how many triples or quads you land.  It's about the beauty of the artistic expression on the ice.  I still love figure skating and I think I always will.  I just need to get over the petty annoyances and enjoy the sport like I used to...

Thursday, March 2, 2006

doggie trauma

Brian and I go through the most traumatic experiences with Nikita when we cut her nails (of all things). I mean, we follow all the suggestions - constantly playing with her paws and nails and getting her used to us touching them. We give her lots of treats and praise while we're nail clipping too. But at the end of the day, when those clippers come out, the doggie ear muffs go on and Nikita wants nothing to do with us!

To make matters worse, we suffered serious doggie trauma this past weekend. In our usual roles of Brian as dog restrainer and me as nail clipper, I managed to severely cut through the quick on a nail on her back paw. Why didn't anyone tell me how much it REALLY bleeds?! There was blood all over my hands, the floor and Brian's pants, who was still holding a very stressed Nikita on his lap. Now, if you know Brian, you know how much pride he takes in having a nice hardwood floor. There was no way that he was letting Nikita get away until we stopped the bleeding!

I rushed to get the gold powder to press into her nail and stop the bleeding. But, no matter how much powder I used, it just kept bleeding! So, I held a paper towel to the nail end and applied constant pressure. By now, I was in tears and apologizing profusely to my dog - Brian told me that I had to let go of Nikita's paw and go find gauze and tape. So, I ran around the house completely beside myself and in tears, looking for something to tape off Nikita's paw. I ended up with band-aids and scotch tape. Needless to say, the top priority on the shopping list this weekend is a first aid kit.

During all this, Nikita was SO traumatized that she started to pee. On Brian's lap. So, now Brian is covered in dog pee and blood and I'm running around the house in tears. Nice picture, eh?! We finally stopped the bleeding by applying more pressure and using more powder. It took a little while, but aside from being exhausted, Nikita was fine in the end. Phew!

So, the moral of the story is that Brian and I now know when to admit defeat. Even though $10 seems like alot for a nail clipping, it is far less expensive than the trauma and mess suffered when we cut our dog's nails ourselves...