089 – It’s like walking into your bedroom only someone else’s stuff is there. And they repainted.

200909_27_01 - Hiya Pal

200909_27_02 - Maintenance

200909_27_03 - Ricki's

200909_28_01 - Seated

Yesterday, I was at the mall when I was greeted by Mickey Mouse! I thought it was nice that Mickey was around the mall, especially since the store that replaced Disney had opened the day before. And that escalator that would take me there! It has been broken for a long time now. Just like The Bay with its broken door that doesn’t open, Bayshore is kinda slow at fixing things. And then I eventually made it up and saw the new, open-for-business Ricki’s. Walking in, I felt like it was familiar, but not. The pillars, now plain white, the ceiling, now way low, the wall bays now squarely recessed into space-maximizing walls… and a huge company logo where the projected screen once displayed Hannah Montana music videos and The Little mermaid singalongs. I’ll have to go in and tell them to enjoy the scent of Subway bread and horrible fat vat smell when KFC cleans out their reserves. Oh, and that the place is haunted.

And pictured above is a guy who was rapping beside me.

088 – TV in 10 syllables

School + work + work is starting to get very crazy in those proportions. School + work + work + new tv season… I don’t know how I’m still alive! I wonder if I can summarize what I think of the following shows in 10 syllables:

Heroes
Bryan Fuller put great things in motion.

How I Met Your Mother
Soft start to a funny season, I hope.

Castle
Less murder, more Beckett… ok for now.

Bored to Death
Have to see more to see where it will go.

Community
Strong pilot, funny could live, or could die.

Big Bang Theory
Oh no they didn’t! Plus Star Trek spoilers!

Survivor
Season 19 started off pretty great.

I probably won’t watch survivor anymore though because it gets boring after 2 eps. I’ll need to watch Dollhouse everntually, too. Most of these shows I might have to just watch all at once in the winter, though, because school is going to be tonnns of work.

The Source, in my opinion, has the best mobile internet stick deal. You get the stick for $0 on a 1-year term. I wouldn’t get a 2-year term (where it is everywhere else)… so I got it! We’ll see how much I get to use it, probably lots because of all the downtime I seem to have when I’m going to work, or just after when I need to wait for the bus. Suddenly, the netbook just got a bit more valuable. However, The Source people told me they had the 21mbps stuck when the one I got was only 7.2mbps. Meanies.

082 – Transition

I never did catch up on the rest of my Disney trip blogs. I meant to, I just haven’t yet found the time. Over the past month and a half (has it been that long?!), I’ve talked to many people about it, and I’m pretty sure I lit up each time, except where I talk about missing Carl and Russel (Up characters) by 6 days. Up, by the way, is fantastic. Go see it now if you haven’t yet.

Time won’t be an issue soon, so I’ll catch up on all kinds of pictures. My last class for the summer is tomorrow. My last shift at Disney is Friday. It was a month ago I found out that the store is closing, and each day since then has been increasingly difficult. I may have only been with the company for two years – one of which was actually with Disney (the first year, the Store were owned and operated by The Children’s Place), but in that time, I’ve felt I’ve found somewhere I belong. It’s a company that I would love to continue working with, certainly in a position at an office if not in the field at a store level. The people have been fantastic, especially co-cast members, and especially the guests that I’ve come to know over time.

Thank you to everyone for being a family and for allowing me to enjoy being at work. For enjoying retail. It’s mind boggling that I came so close to not accepting the job when Sharlene called me back about it. I’ve learned so much from everyone would do it all again in a heartbeat – even if it means hearing Hannah Montana’s “Life’s What You Make It” 30 times a day.

I once learned from a mediocre Disney movie to “keep moving forward” (clearly not Wall-E, or Up. Those are fantastic. Go see Up). As I look forward to the summer and fall, I have a new year of school (a last one, I hope… for now), a new job, a new position at CFFN, and a new Web site that I’ve gone back to creating. My life is a deck of cards, and someone is shuffling!

078 – Disney Day One

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This was my frist trip on an airplane! The take-off was a bit tense-ifying, but once I realised it was a bit like a rollercoaster without the down bits, I didn’t mind at all. I also slept on the planes. Once I got to Washington DC, the first thing I noticed was pizza… at Subway? How crazy!

Then I got to the Orlando airport. It’s a whole other climate. Sweater? Really?! Unnecessary. Palm trees and conifers alike populate the roadways, and there are Disney signs everywhere… at least on the path of the Disney Express. Once I arrived, I went and lounged on the beach at the resort. Surprisngly, it wasn’t packed with people. A few kids here and there, and their parents, but plenty of room to sleep on hammocks and splash around (though I didn’t because I was waiting for my luggage to arrive. And Cat.

Once Cat arrived, we took the bus to Downtown Disney to buy Star Trek tickets. I HAVE STAR TREK TICKETS! Aterwards, we went to Planet Hollywood where there was a 40-minute wait for a table… but no wait for the bar. Smartly, we went and ate at a table at the bar. Even after not having eaten since lunch at Subway in DC, I couldn’t finish my burger. Not even close! I felt bad about it, but what can you do!

For those who work at Disney with me, I got my ID! After all that waiting and panicing. And you truly notice the Disney Difference here, from the moment you land at the airport. There is no comparison between the United people at the airport, and the even the Disney Express people at the Orlando airport. Night and day. I’ve been greeted with smiles and “what can I do for you” at every turn, and everyone has been so helpful. So far! I talked at length with one CM about Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus and all the other Disney Tween peeps. I couldn’t do that anywhere else, haha!

Anyway, it’s time to shower and head out to the Magic Kingdom. My camera is gonna die!

052 – Day Five, Six, Seven

200812_15_01 - The Blah Part of Winter
200812_15_02 - Driveway Cum Pond

200812_15_03 - Nanaimo & Okanagan

200812_15_04 - I'll Take My Chances

200812_15_05 - Bayshore Station

Day five was fun. I arrived at work an hour and a half early (when rides are offered, you don’t really want to push your luck). This allowed me the opportunity to sit down and have breakfast with a coworker. Subway breakfasts have become boring ever since they stopped actually preparing eggs and stopped carrying round 4″ buns; they’re microwave-ready egg patties leave me with an underwhelming ‘meh’. I learned that there was freezing rain going on, so thankfully another coworker offered me a ride home.

On Day Six of this wondrous OC Transpo bus strike, I did the inevitable: I walked to work. With a car, there are half a dozen different routes to take to get there, and two buses (that take the same basic route). That said, there’s no convenient way to actually walk there, not without having to overshoot and circle back, or walking from point A to point B to point C to the Destination. It’s all very awkward, and a lot of it has to do with how poorly planned out the mall and its immediate surroundings were. I opted to use a bunch of side streets that looked via Google Earth to be the best path to take. Had it not been winter, I’m sure there are other shortcuts that could have been explored, but snow limits one’s ability to explore. As does time, and the need to actually have energy to function for the following eight hours.

I also defiantly walked past a “do not walk here” sign on the transitway and walked straight through the station, in the middle of the road. It’s not like there are any buses around to be delayed or hit me, right?

What worked for me was that the temperature was not only above zero, but edging toward double digits. Winter boots kept my feet (mostly) dry as all that snow we’ve been up to started going the way snow does when its warm. Had it been colder, or windy, it might have been hell. Luckily, all I really had to deal with was the splashing caused by vehicles thanks to the watery state of the roads. One driveway I saw during my journey was less a driveway and more a pond.

You also notice in the winter that most of these side streets don’t actually have sidewalks.

Today, I went to pay for my winter semester. The credit card company is probably happy now that I owe them money. I feigned happiness to the woman at the Registrar’s office that I would be getting lots of reward points, kicking myself slightly for not going with the not-so-free credit card plan that rewards me more points for every dollar I spend.

My little cousin drove me, since she had an appointment at the school. It’s moments like that where you realise that the little girl you perceive is actually almost 18, is driving by herself, and is planning to move into a house with a bunch of friends. We talked about drinking and driving and drugs and boyfriends. Very surreal.

Her appointment turns out would last the whole evening, so I walked home rather than wait an hour for a friend to pick me up. I might have waited had I remembered that they day before, snow was melting left, right, and centre, while today it was comfortably below zero. The whole bike path was ice. Yay for winter boot traction!

One week later, I must admit that with a bit of luck and wonderful people patiently dealing with my frequent requests for rides, the bus strike hasn’t been too bad. Sure, I still have some Christmas shopping to do that I haven’t done, and I haven’t had the freedom to go and do things, but I’m still getting to school and work as needed. The two head cheeses behind this kerfuffle still aren’t bending to meet one another at some reasonable medium. Last I heard, there’s talk of possibly talking again “before Christmas”. Here’s to another week of getting around how I have been: one day at a time.

051 – Day 3, 4

I went to Cornwall (city south of Ottawa, on the Ontario-New York border) to make sure a window was installed at my friend’s house. Aside from a brief visit to Niagara falls in the early 90s, this is the closest I have ever been to the US. It took about an hour and a half to get there, and all I could think was “in an hour and a half, I could almost get from home to Carleton University, and back by bus and O-Train”. Or not, since it was the third day of the strike.

While there, my friend’s dad and I begun work on a project that we have. A while back, I may have hinted at something cool I was working on. My friend’s dad writes lots of articles about Nepal. What I had done for his birthday was edit and compile a number of them and make them into a book, using Blurb software. The end result was very good. We’ve decided to use it as a starting point to refine the book and make it sellable. We worked a bit on it, changing a few things here and there. We would have worked more, but the house was cold, so we headed back home. When we got back, I made arrangements to get to work the next day.

200811_19_04 - Insight into Nepal
The Book

Luckily Prashanta and Prabin agreed to take me to work, though we did arrive a little bit late. The one thing I love about going to work every day is that you get to see the changes that occur. Because I hadn’t been there in almost three days, there was a lot to take in: things get moved, things are gone, there are new things, someone changes his or her hair. I don’t know what it would be like to be gone for a week. Or more! Someday, I’ll have to take a trip somewhere and find out. I left work early just because there wasn’t a whole lot to do. It’s proving pretty rough being at retail in a prime holiday shopping season when inventory levels are low. It really becomes a box of chocolates when you throw in a transit strike and weather that can change on a dime.

Fortunately, Prashanta was able to pick me up when I was done. I’m kinda looking forward to the time when I actually walk from home to work, or vice versa. I just want to complain about having had to walk all that. Of course, I think I would want to wear a sandwich board telling those who pass me about my wonderful love for the City and the transit union. I also can’t wait for the Internet to evolve to the point where sarcasm is clearly shown as it is when spoken.

I did play a bit of Metroid Prime with a 12-year old. I absolutely love that game – up until the last region, Phazon Mines. Tallon, Magmoor, and Phendrana are all spectacular levels with so much to discover. I could play that first half of the game over and over and still enjoy the story, the art style, the enemies and bosses… it’s that last part of the game that ruined it for me. Replaying that 6-year old game (!!!!) really stirred my desire to continue playing Metroid Prime 3 for Wii. I’ll get to playing games when I have the time.

200812_13_01 - Windshield View

200812_13_02 - Driving

049 – Day One

200811_19_07 - Sidewalk

200811_19_05 - Snow Dome

200811_15_01 - The Inside

I’ve decided that I would like to blog everyday. It’s not the first time I’ve said that I’ll do that, but now I have a reason. Ottawa is currently in a public transportation work stoppage. In other words, the buses are on strike. OC Transpo is on strike. If you’re keeping score, we’re two weeks away from Christmas and dead in the middle of exam season.

My mom has never been able to drive, so the bus has been my primary means to move about the city for school, work, shopping, socialising, entertainment, and on occasion, sleep. This strike is going to make it extremely difficult for me to make it to work, even though I don’t live all that far from where I need to get five days a week. It’s not within walking distance, but it doesn’t take all that long in a vehicle. If this work strike lasts nearly as long as the last one did – 24 days in 1996 – then I’ll be walking to school, which is a decent 40-minute walk, at best when bike paths are used. I don’t think those get ploughed in the winter. And even worse, I know there are others who are far more inconvenced, to use a euphamism, that I.

Yesterday, the union head of OC Transpo drivers, AndrĂ© Cornellier, made a few appearances in the media. CTV here, here, and on the radio here. I understand the bus driver’s position and that they have been without a contract for a long time now, but Cornellier’s demeanour and utter lack of respect (or the show thereof) for the public certainly didn’t get me to sympathize. I doubt that he garnered any support from us public types.

That isn’t to say that the city isn’t to blame, either. It’s only more recently that I’ve started to develop an understanding of municipal politics. And it’s in that time that I’ve learned that Ottawa’s city-level politics is ridiculous. Mostly, I’m disappointed and borderline frustrated that there has been near zero progress on improving rapid transit and light rail in the city since the O-Train launched six or seven years ago. Every week, some new figure proposes a new plan that will save time and money compared to the current plan, which nobody seems to want to get behind. And the plan that was in place a few years back was grounded, even though we still had to pay for the breached conracts that were in place. Isn’t it better to pay for something rather than pay for nothing? It’s not like the expanded O-Train line wouldn’t have been beneficial; it would have been much more useful than what it is now. It’s being in love (or, at least being married to) the status quo that really annoys me, and our councillors aren’t willing to flirt with change, let alone make it their misteress (or mister…. whatever the male equivalent is. Cabana boy?).

This, of course, brings me back to the transit strike. I don’t see either side offering a comprimise anytime soon. The union is too obsessed with getting more sick days and a flexable scheduling system (which has its own flaws… ask anyone who has ever not had a bus come), and the city is too busy trying to get the public on its side by saying, “we’re offering them tons of money in these ‘hard economic times’.” The drivers and the public seem to be stuck inbetween.

One thing that I found surprising is that the union (or whoever it was) isn’t allowing for more school buses to be on the road. The schoolboard hatched a plan to get more buses to pick up some fo the students that use OC Transpo to get to school – but if they do that, then they “cannot guarantee [that] school [areas] won’t be picketed.” Kids should be in school. They need to be in school. It’s ridiculous that they would rather use kids by disrupting schools and keeping the kids from being on time than being coopoerative on such a simple level. I’m sure parents appreciate the extra headache in the morning.

Day one isn’t a problem. Despite the big snowstorm that we just had, finding rides to and fro isn’t too hard for a day or two – at least for me. At least for now. My friend’s father drove me to work where I am now, blogging. One thing has changed significantly between the last strike 12 years ago and now: the Internet. With people being so connected, especially here in Ottawa, it’s so much easier to find rides. There are easily a dozen websites and Facebook groups offering to connect people for carpools and rideshare initiatives. The safety and reliability of such proposals have yet to be tested in such dire situations, but it would be amazing if through these efforts, people managed to find their once stranger neighbours who work or commute in the same direction or to the same areas and formed new friendships – or at least new carpooling buddies. That’s what community should be about. Frankly, that’s what Ottawa should be about. As much as I’d love to see bus ridership increase (I would love to not have the service on my three routes reduced), I would also love to see the Transit people, as well as the City people, realise that they in fact do need us as much as we need them.

045 – I think I’m Going to Need a Bigger Box

The new TV season has kicked off with a pretty epic set-up for Heroes’ third season, as well as a nice start to Big Bang Theory’s second. I love when shows don’t pick up right where they left off, but that’s often hard to do when the vast majority of ‘em have cliffhanger season finales. Heroes cheated a bit last year by throwing you a few months after the events of the season 1 finale, and then taking a later episode to answer ‘how did they get here?” Those are perfectly exciting. I expect a similar filler this year too, at least on a couple of storylines. Up next: Dexter, Californication, Chuck, Pushing Daisies, Corner Gas, and Little Mosque on the Praries, though I have no idea when that one starts – or where I”m goig to find the time to watch all of those. Despite my crazy-expensive cable package, torrents and my PSP may become my best friends.

In the meantime, I need to prepare a presentation of sorts for work. There’s a staff meeting this weekend, and I get to discuss, well… magic. I do have a basic guide form which to work, but I hope I’ll have the time to really add my own perspective to it, if at all possible.

One big accomplishment I accomplished earlier this week: I finished ripping all of my music to my computer – that’s about 220 cds! I’ve never had such instant access over my entire library (including songs downloaded form iTunes, Puretracks, and other less legitimate sources). I just have to decide what to do with it all. Twenty-five gigs of music might merit the purchase of an iPod, not because I don’t have a fabulous mp3 player already (8 Gig Creative Zen Microphoto), but because I use iTunes anyway, and I need something bigger so that I don’t have to pick and choose. Apple did just release a cooler, cheaper 32-Gig iPod Touch – but it’s still over $400. Maybe after Christmas…

042 – Buck 65 Concert, Photoshop Experiments

200804_22_04 - Skratch Bastid II

200804_22_09 - Sound Board

200804_22_11 - Cadence Weapon II

200804_22_13 - Creative Lighting

200804_22_15 - Buck 65 II

200804_22_19 - Buck 65 VI

200804_24_01 - Adventurers

200804_24_05 - U-Haul

200804_25_01 - Compacted Corrugation

200804_25_03 - Toss

200804_25_05 - Lights and Buttons

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I like concerts. There’s something about live music, being in front of the people who make said music, being surrounded by people who are equally (or more) into the music than you are… something about that whole process that makes the music exciting. In contrast, I don’t really like live concerts on cd. There are a few exceptions (Great Big Sea’s Road Rage, for example), but the music without the atmosphere is only half the experience. Recently, I saw Buck 65 at the Bronson Centre, with Skratch Bastid and Cadence Weapon. It was a good show despite the mediocre sound and audience-not-at-capacity. Even though the venue is seated (it’s an ancient high school auditorium), I still found myself standing by the stage. My ears aren’t particularly happy when that happens, but it’s worth it.

It’s even better when you get a few good shots. My battery life was limited (and died eventually), so I enjoyed the music rather than try to capture it. I wasn’t particularly happy, but it was a good concert!

Michele accompanied me to the concert. A few days later, we had some work-related adventures including a trip to our offsite via OC Transpo and a trip to the mall’s garbage and recycling facilities. I like adventures, even the ordinary, ordinarily boring ones.

On another note, I’ve decided that I should probably learn how to use Photoshop. I have such a powerful tool sitting on my computer, and the most I use it for is resizing pictures. Today,I experimented with smoothing out skin tones, leaning how to, as Nelly Furtado would put it, “Make it look whiter than it seems / Paint me over with your dreams.” Not that I’m looking for a job over at Maxim or Cosmo or anything…


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After (click to enlarge)

Just don’t show her, because I might get hit. Or worse.

036 – It’s a faaaaaaake!

200804_07_01 - Hannah Montana

200804_07_05 - Empty Lot

200804_07_08 - Ground Level Parking

Photos: Hannah Montana mannequin, parking lot at night

What a day indeed! In one mail-checking session, I received money from the government, a notice of bankruptcy and a call for objections for the sale of Disney Store by Hoop Retail, and a letter from Japan. The latter has amazingly colourfully cute stationary! It feels as if it’s a letter right out of Animal Crossing, sans exotic furniture present. Oh I really want some exotic furniture! I also reinflated my purple yoga ball thinking maybe I can sit on it when I play videogames in my room. I tried it out by playing some Beautiful Katamari. Man, that game is trippy! I don’t know how to roll properly, so I don’t end up with big Katamari balls, leaving the King of the Cosmos pretty bummed.

My room is also almost 100% tidy! I will take pictures when it’s sunny. I’m out of room for DS games and cds. Uhoh!

Deep Space Nine’s season six In the Pale Moonlight is probably the greatest hour (well, 44 minutes) of Star Trek. It’s captivating storytelling. If anyone decides to ever make, or even pitch a new Trek series in the future, they absolutely have to watch and learn from DS9 because it has it all: drama, sci-fi, homages, relevance, comedy, consequences, villains with depth, multi-faceted main characters that grow, likable and useful satellite characters, romance (well, pretty good romance for sci-fi), even music moments. It’s hard to believe that it ended almost ten years ago.

I think I need to get me some tarps, some lights, and an external flash for my camera… I’m starting to feel inspired to try new things with my photography. Also a blow torch and some peanut butter.