Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fooooocus, my wee right brain

Sunday night phone conversations:

Hannah: Hey Jen, wanna come to a Christmas caroling event thing at 7:00?
Jen: No, I know the next week or so will be busy so I think I'm going to clean my room hardcore for an hour. I really need to focus. Otherwise I'll have no clean clothes to wear. Come over after, I'll be done by then. (*****epic lie, will obviously not be done but am secretly hoping Hannah will see I'm hopeless and will keep me company during my internal struggles*****)
Hannah: Okaaaaaay.

Later...
Sheena: Blah blah blah, I'm home! blah blah blah
Jen: Blah blah blah, yay! Blah blah blah.
Sheena: What are you up to?
Jen: I'm trying really hard to clean my room. So far I am making piles of recyclables with two paper piles: to be shredded and not to be shredded.
Sheena: Have you ever actually finished cleaning your room?
Jen: Yes, once, when I subletted while I was in France.

Sheena used to sit in my room and watch my lame attempts at organisation and structure (comparable to watching a single ant attempt to carry a concrete slab - painful). But at least I had company so didn't wander off looking for attention or socialisation.

After an intense almost two hours, this is what my bedroom looked like (and to give myself some credit I had cleaned the kitchen earlier):

First thing to note is that my ceiling is slanty and awesome. Second is that I have a skylight. Both of these features combined make my room suited for royalty of the most purest, bluest bloodline.

You will also notice that my room is still "a smidgen" messy. But looks can be deceiving. Since I took that photo I have removed TWO piles of stuff to recycling bags downstairs. If you are my family, I suggest you save the image and zoom in to see your Christmas presents. HINT: it is NOT the can of chickpeas which is residing under my laundry rack. Those are there because they were hiding in my backpack when I was unloading groceries into my cupboard. Wee bastards tricked me and eventually ended up upstairs! Oh, you crazy chickpeas! Hearty laughter!

My room would look much less cluttered were the laundry rack not there, but I'm saving the world (and my clothes) by hanging my clothes to dry. Your future, currently unfertilised grandchildren can write letters of gratitude to my estate in 95 years.

Notes of success: my garbage can, which you can see part of, is getting full, but is not quite full. Once I asked an at-the-time-on-good-terms ex-boyfriend what I sucked at. I like constructive criticism. He gave me some crap about being perfect and beautiful (yaaaaawn - clearly I'm not perfect, I eat the inside of my mouth and bite my nails off until they sting in throbbing pain - but other than that and the odd comma splice...) Eventually I pulled out from him that I would let my garbage in my room get overly full (very true) and leave empty food boxes in my cupboard (also very true).

Success no. 2 comes with a space you cannot see in the photo, between my bed and nightstand. The wee space was full of books and miscellaneous papers. It's all cleaned out now, though some still on the floor - but different areas of floor than before. Really important things, like my $7.00 "The Complete Guide to Boston's Freedom Trail". Clearly I need this right on hand while laying in my bedroom in Charlotte-not-Boston-town, PEI.

But why are you telling us this? We don't care!

This is actually a public service announcement in support of right-brained individuals who can't accomplish large tasks. Small is okay. Breaking up large tasks into small tasks is also good. Saying, "Jennifer, do your laundry," or, "Ms. Maki, put your books on your bookshelf," is good. Saying, "Clean you room!" makes the cogs in my right brain grind to an overwhelmed hault. Particularly with PEI's waste management program. In my childhood my parents would shut me in my room with a giant garbage bag. This was actually a poor idea because they would always want me to go through old magazines and throw out the ones I didn't want. They eventually realised I am physically incapable of doing that because I just neeeeeed to read them in order to determine if they should be thrown out - all 195 issues. Flash forward (weeeeeeeeeeeee! - that was fun!) to present day PEI, and not only do I struggle with the distractions of the wonderful, magical things I have in my room (I found a Bahama Breeze billfold I stole out of LOVE!), but I have to SORT all rubbish into compost, waste, recycling bag no. 1, and recycling bag no. 2.

Frickin' impossible, aye?

In other non-related news, I took apart bits and pieces of one of my bikes yesterday to clean a season of grime off wee bitty parts. They are sparklin', but there is a good chance foreign curse words and mass frustration will erupt from my soul when I try to reassemble. Wish me luck.

(Secret PS: I would like rubber boots for Christmas but would like to get them early - like in 7.5 hrs when I go to work - because it is raining lots and I forgot my boots at work and they have holes in them anyway. Thanks, Santa! I LOOOOOOVE YOU!)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Help yourself to a piece of Mac Pie, please

I was Googling myself just mere moments ago to see what bits and pieces of information people could find out about me easily on the Internet. For full name + PEI the first three results are work related, the following two are biking related (fist pump for having an Internet-noted hobby!), then a piece I wrote on our now defunct work blog, and then Summerside's newspaper when I was unknowingly, but happily, quoted in an article. Result eleven is something I wrote on an online form about working at Disney World a few months prior to Florida departure.

But Jen, what does this mean??!!

Well, inquisitive reader, it doesn't really mean anything. It means I work, ride bikes, and speak to reporters on the phone sometimes. Oh, and, like, one time I worked at Disney World for a year. Have I mentioned that?

Jen, did you truly believe this discovery was worth writing a blog about?

That depends how we define "worth", really. The actual subject which made me excited enough to start a blog instead of reading the book sitting by my side... UPDATE: apparently I forgot the book downstairs? FAILURE.... right, is what happens when you make a typo and accidentally search "jen mac pie". First search result: Big Island of Hawai'i Adventure Guide. I'm taking it as a sign that Hawai'i is where I'm meant to be.

A "mac pie" is apparently similar to a pecan pie, but made with macadamia nuts instead. It absolutely sounds like something I would eat. I'm also more than open to marrying someone with the last name Adamia and we can combine family names. MacAdamia! Also looks similar to Academia, which I think will give potential children a huge adventure in school. Or at least our pet zebra will be easier to train. ("No, Matizza, don't eat the newspaper, bring it to us!")

MacMobile - I'm a big girl now!
Over the summer someone implied that my awesome, ghetto Nokia made me seem unprofessional. (The actual quote was more similar to, "Get a Blackberry man, be a professional.") I don't recall my response, but it was probably something mature like pointing out the very useful flashlight feature on Wee Baby Nokia and encouraging shadow puppet fun.

Sexy Nokia 2521i, babyAlas, the sturdy Nokia was not meant to last forever. It still does work, but the buttons are requiring more pressure, the phone randomly shuts off when places on a hard surface, such as one where one might place the phone when not in a purse or backpack. I activated a new phone a couple of weeks ago that a friend gave me. This phone is a slight upgrade and, like Baby Nokia, also features a colour screen, a battery, and buttons.

So far we are getting along well. We have some problems with International texting and the buttons are small so I can't wear mittens or gloves and text, but the fact that it doesn't randomly shut off and is about 38.6 lightyears ahead of ol' Baby Nokia is kind of nice. So I'm all set at least for a wee while. That being said, I still feel compelled to look at all mobile phone displays in every store I'm in. And not just look at, but if my hands aren't full I don't even bother surpressing the burning urge to touch every single phone. The silly things don't even turn on! Yet I pick up the display phone and always do the same thing: type my name using the keypad. Doesn't matter what type of keypad or that it's not actually doing anything - muuuuust... type... naaaaaaaame.

Oh, and my new phone also has a flashlight function. Nokia? You are gooooood.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

PEI's Indentity Crisis as the Disappointing Child

Oh, PEI. I ragged on you pretty hard when I first moved back to Canada four years ago. (Yikes - time flies. That was supposed to be for only two months.) But I eventually grew to like you again. It took awhile, but summers, some time apart, cheap ice cream, and improved flight schedules from the Charlottetown Airport helped re-cement our bond.

I was about to go to bed, thinking, "Wow, nothing on the internet is interesting me right now. Will I be a grown up and fall asleep before 1:15am?" Then something caught my eye on CBC PEI: PEI students score low in international tests. Poor PEI. Are we the disappointing, underachiever child?

PEI gets sucker punched. We don't ever seem to claw our way to top of any positive list, other than population density. (Yay. Break out your pompoms!) We have the highest PST rate (or GST + PST when compared to HST) of all provinces and territories - though Nova Scotia has almost caught up. Only PEI and Quebec has the quirky practice of taxing GST with PST. Taxing tax! Robin Hood - help us!

But that's not the point of this. Sometimes I wonder how PEI and its residents would be if we didn't hear about how terrible we are so frequently. It starts to dull your reaction. We have the highest unemployment rate again? Shrug. You kind of just don't expect things to improve. So, perhaps, we don't try? Our children doing poorly in math again? Well, we've always been bad at math. We expect it thus accept it as the norm.

I think we need a kick in the pants.

I was researching a few things for writing this (I originally started almost a week ago and never finished) as I originally wanted to support my now bland thesis with some fantastic facts. Sadly, I slightly lost my mojo for writing this as my monkey brain has hopped onto other bananas. However, I invite you to look at these charts by Manitoba Hydro depicting electricity bills across Canada. We have the highest bills (with one exception of high usage rates in Englehart, Ontario)! Yaaaaay! However, I am very pleased to report that obesity rates for Islanders are on par with the National average. For men. Women don't fare so well: 30% compared to 23%. Whoops. Any hypothesis on why our men are average but not our women are welcomed. Feel free to reference the delicious amount of cheese I ate this evening within your statement.

That's all. I need to go to bed.

Monday, December 06, 2010

You have been approved for 28

I'm older soon! Well, I'm always getting older [so are you]. We age in microscopic units of time that can't even be measured. It's my birthday on Wednesday. In traditional birthday fashion, I spent one or two days last week concerned about getting older and then kind of snapped out of it. (Apologies to anyone who saw/spoke to me those few days.)

It's not so much that getting older is the problem, as I'm about one minute older now than when I started this post. I can feel the extra wisdom I developed during that time starting to pump through my aorta - it feels sooo good. I feel when a birthday, or end of the year comes, one should be able to look back and say, "Wow! That was good, look at the great things I accomplished!" but I couldn't quite piece that together for the year I turned 27. So I moped. Then I stopped after I got my new-to-me mobile to work and was forced to get a new phone number. I suspect most people would be a bit annoyed to get a new phone number, but I was excited for some reason. So symbolic!

Good Things of this Year
I celebrated my birthday a few days early in Edinburgh. I was visiting a friend doing a residency rotation there and had a ball visiting her (and her flatmate) and being in Edinburgh. They gave me a lovely b'day celebration, and la vie was belle. Real birthday was uneventful with me working on something all day/evening long. I think I went on a bike ride and, as South France doesn't seem to understand the concept of birthday cake (which is fine), had a tarte a framboise, which was, shock, delicious.

And fa la la. The reason I had to work a lot on my birthday (on a Tuesday!) was because I was departing for Paris on Friday, the last leg of my French adventure. There I was reunited avec ma soeur francaise (aka French roommate from Disney World dates) for a few days prior to flying to my Ohana in Ottawa.

More good things: coming home right before Christmas to bunches of friends and fun, starting the year off by plunging into the icy harbour (this makes me more fun than you! Sorry.) Then played at the levees all day.

Other highlights of being 27:

  • January: Trying to reach the peak of PEI and failing due to poor preparations. Got a haircut.

  • February: Jared, who eventually became one of my most favourite housemates ever, moved in. BONUS: Culinary student. Olympics! Both them being on tv, and my last minute decision that I JUST HAD TO BE IN VANCOUVER for the rest of the event.

  • March: Had fun in Victoria, BC, just before returning to PEI. Break my left ear and live three weeks in awkward silence.

  • April: Went to Florida and visited friends I had not seen in far too long. Also went to San Fransisco, for free! Frosty Treat opens. Summer explorations begin.

  • May: DANNY BHOY. Hire new person at work, use his smoke breaks as excuses to sit in sun and drink slushies. (Omitted on rainy days.) Enter the Red Island Relay, blow my rear tube on the road portion, rock out on the trail section. Learn to canoe on-the-fly. Have a nap. People start to move home!

  • June: Dune's fashion show! Meet new people! Wine Festival (RIP stain-free dress. See previous, tragic post for details.) Start finding myself spending, possibly, a bit too much time at the Globe. Soft Stranger (the neighbour's cat) moves in!

  • July: More people come home for visits!!! Have parties! Welcome visitor from my Disney days! Souris Relay! (Notice how everything in the summer has explanation marks?)

  • August: More fun! Bike 175 km in one day! Jump in the Charlottetown Harbour! (Whoops, was that supposed to be a secret?) Beach! Cape Breton! Lose my keys. (No explanation mark.)..... people start to drift away...

  • September: more people leave.. WAIT! This is supposed to be record of good things. Umm....? Hurricane Party! Donkey on the beach! FIND MY KEYS!! I find a large, stuffed horse at the end of a friend's drive-way and take it home! (Soft Stranger replacement - she got hit by a car. Epic sad.) Saw Hairspray and spent the next three days listening to the music over and over again.

  • October: People left. Wham BAM. Three people moved away in the same week. It was like the sequel to August 30, 2008, when three good friends moved away in the same week. Dune's closing party! Spent oodles of money on plane tickets! Body paint! (Hallowe'en.)

  • November: Vacation! Saw people I haven't seen in months/years! Got new boots! (Yes, a highlight. Hmph.) Won "Best Costume" at a friend's murder mystery party at her house. I think that's it. Found my mysteriously vanished cell phone that I "lost" in Ottawa.

  • December: You know... stuff. (Notice the difference between summer months and winter months.) Road my bike yesterday...? Went to the library and geeked out?



Also, I'm not even going to bother fixing it, notice how I called them explanation marks? (!) I always thought that's what they were called up until a sadly recent year. Playing the deaf card on that. And it's habit to keep calling them that.

So yes, 27 may had not been my best year, but it was still pretty good. But this year shall be better, because I like to constantly one-up myself.

One housemate said once he doesn't like birthdays because it's basically being closer to the end of life. But I think it's nice to celebrate with people, we celebrate out of the excitement of people being happy you're still around.

One random goal this year is to say lovely nice things to people about themselves. I realised that you don't very often recognise the impact you may have made in someone's life. The stories come out so very rarely - weddings and funerals.

Dear readers: I like you because you make me feel like I could possibly be a writer someday and not starve, e.g., make a few dollars and be happy. I also like how many of you apparently keep coming back and keep reading. Apparently I like you for selfish reasons. But I hope I make you smile, chuckle, and maybe brighten your day.

les biz,
J-Mac

Friday, December 03, 2010

Wardrobe Fail of the Day

I felt very productive this morning. I got up, showered, pulled out handfuls of hair (I am a sexy shedding beast), figured out what I would wear to our work Christmas party this evening, figured out what I would wear to work, seemed to get everything in my backpack, and happily pranced out the door after a strong shot of orange juice. (Note: I don't advocate skipping breakfast and had plans to eat breakfast at work.)

I arrive to work, change, and go about my day in a regular fashion. I hang up work party dress on the back of my door, feeling very adult-like that I remembered to take it out and not allow it to become a wrinkled, frumpled glabbered piece of fabric. Later in the day I was maquillaging (variation on French verb for putting on make-up that I like better than the English word) and needed my eyeliner sharper. Yes, I wait til I get to work to put on make-up. The colder air and the Uni's winds make my eyes water, resulting in a make-up DISASTOR! AHHHHH! I thought I had tossed the sharpener in my coat pocket and was searching in it. My dress was hung on top of my coat and I noticed a wee speck of wine on my dress. Not a big deal, one wee speck of red wine on the side of a red ruffly dress isn't very noticeable. THEN the fluorescent lights of my office illuminate my dress in a different way.

The one speck of red wine was foreshadowing. Wine alllllll over. Well, not allllll, but more than ten splashes. The last (and first!) time I wore this darling dress was at the wine festival in June. So the stains have been coiling around each individual strand of fabric for FIVE AND A HALF MONTHS. Me thinks dabbing water on each one and lightly blowing is not going to help. Putting it in a trough of bleach and letting red dress slowly turn white all over may be the only means of having a stain free dress again. Except it's weird fabric, and I think the bleach would actually eat the fabric with a gentle fierce-ocity previously seen only when I find the leftover cream cheese icing in my parents' fridge after Mother makes carrot cake for holiday dinners. *droooool x infinity*

You probably find yourself scolding me mentally, how foolish she is to be spilling wine all over herself! However, I am very careful with red wine, and I was not the only person at the event. Proof exists that not all (perhaps most!) were not caused by me: the stains on the BACK OF THE DRESS. There is only one hypothesis fore there need be no more...

...someone was trying to sabotage my beauty.

Or it could had been Charlottetown staying classy and teetering about with alcohol at the festival. Or it could had been going to The Globe after the wine festival. Sometimes people spill their drinks at clubs, or drops of liquor splash over the sides or tiny tumblers. I know, shocking. Why we all don't wear smocks is beyond me.

So now the dilemma is to wear the dress, or wear my work clothes and be stuck wearing them until 2:00am when I expect to arrive home. Long-sleeved, lime green dress shirts may not be bar appropriate. Plus, history shows that someone (65 of my closest and dearest friends!) will likely splash booze all over me. SO (!) may as well wear the already stained dress rather than ruin more clothes?

Next year I wear a dress fashioned of saran wrap to the wine festival. Sexy factor = +7

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Bobby Pins

Generally when I lose something I usually find about 3 bobby pins while I'm looking for the object I lost. Every time I pull something from my pocket a bobby pin is generally attached. The darn things just find their way EVERYWHERE. A package of bobby pins usually contains about sixty of them. One probably thinks, "Wow! Sixty bobby pins! That is more than anyone could ever use in her entire life!!!"

But somehow, a package of bobby pins lasts only about a year. The things constantly vanish. I have a few theories:
  • The inventor of the bobby pin (or her/his estate) gets $0.000000001 for each bobby pin sold. At that rate, it would be worth paying someone to go out and steal them from users so they would have to buy more.

  • Bobby pins are part rabbit: they breed at intense levels (which is why when you look for one you suddenly find 15), but need solitude to do so. They leave your home for a few months, and suddenly you find numerous of them in a box under your stairs. The ones that have lost the little plastic bit on the end are ready to reproduce.

  • Magnetic forces of gravity. Scientists don't care so they never bothered to look into it, but the speed of the Earth's rotation around the sun combined with a thinning atmosphere has created an environment where bobby pins are pulled from their natural resting place and down to the ground... possibly even pulled down as far as the Earth's core. THIS is the blame for global warming: the finely crafted, metal bobby pins are heating up and shooting rays of heat to the Earth's surface. While scientists have been looking up to the sun for the cause of our warming Earth (oh, PS, it's below seasonal here), they really should be looking down... You heard it here first, Friends.

  • Elves. The wee wankers are running about at night (or the day if your sleep schedule is a bit off) stealing the things. Originally the elves used them to create a large metropolis entirely of bobby pins. They did this after their original kingdom of popsicle sticks burnt to the ground in the Tragic Fire of 1939. In fact, some say this triggered the invasion of Poland and lead to the commencement of World War II. This is usually omitted in history texts due to the difficulty of obtaining photographic proof.

If you find constantly updating you stash of bobby pins to be too time consuming and is eating into your budget, maybe I suggest you look in the following places to replenish your stock:

  • Girls' washroom.

  • Hole in purse.

  • Locker room floor.

  • My floor. Actually, pick any room in the house.

  • Church. While you're there, skim through the bible. Let me know how it ends.

  • Follow around someone with an up-do. Bobby pins dribble out of hair like mushy squash from a toddler's mouth.

May your hair be fancy and grand.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ewww, exercise.

Apparently I'm a little stuck on the English language lately (see previous post berating self-depreciating usages of the word 'just'). Disliked word of the week is exercise. So bland. So un-fun. I'm not opposed to exercise in what it is (physical movement providing health benefits?), but it undermines the activity at hand. It sounds so, "I'm going to do an activity that I don't enjoy because I have to for the benefits it offers my cardiovascular system." Once you call the activity by name, it generally sounds much more enjoyable. I don't consider biking exercise at *all*, I think of it as biking, something I love to do. Once you find a form of exercise you actually *like* doing, it starts becoming a hobby or an activity. Basically this all runs through my brain as I start going to the gym again in the winter and feel like I'm going an exercise factory or industrialised fat burner. Yawn.

Not to 100% knock on the gym. In an effort to keep myself motivation (yawn), here is a list of things I like about the gym:

  • Sweating, having a bright pink face, hair frizzing out - basically looking out I was outside in the summer and having fun.

  • Watching fearless boys dive off the diving boards in the pool area. (Note: I don't just stand there watching them in freaky Jen fashion, big glass windows by some of the cardio equipment look out over the pools.)

  • Reading magazines.

  • Occasionally watching a good tv show. Why sometimes five of the six TVs are showing sports (particularly as there are only two or three sports stations) is beyond my comprehension of basic reason. But sometimes there is good stuff on the tellies.

  • Watching the guys train for whatever team they are on jump onto really high steps without falling. Seriously. Saw this for the first time a few weeks ago and they were easily (or so it appeared to be easily) hopping from the floor with their feet together onto steps three or four feet high. Actually incredibly impressive! I might hop up my stairs later and see if I can do it without falling and getting a concussion, smashing my nose, cracking my ankle, etc.

  • It's pretty convenient, as far as gyms go. It's about 3-seconds across campus. AND if it's cold I can cut through one building for temporary shelter from the brutal winds that plague the university like a cheap virus in a Doctor's waiting room. (Of course, inconvenient is packing extra clothes, sneakers, etc. to take to work everyday and never showing up with just a purse and perhaps a lunch bag like everyone else. Non non, Jen Mac shows up with a kitbag containing one-third of her wardrobe. Those who don't know me appear baffled when the girl with the stuffed-full red backpack and biking helmet actually walks into an office instead of a classroom.

  • Something to do. Let's be honest, hibernation levels tends to increase in the winter. Our inner bear comes out. (Apparently I would be a polar bear according to the quiz I just took. I was not pleased with the result so took a different quiz - apparently the Internet is full of "What kind of bear are you?" quizzes - and am now a black bear due to a preference of berries and fish and tailoring my answers so I wouldn't get polar bear again.) I sit in my office by myself all day. No need for me to rush home and, oh, sit around. Fuuuuun. Such a life would force me to be cautious - don't wanna have too much fun doing nothing and wear myself out. Tragic.

  • Uggh... running out of points.

  • Spin bikes have pedals fitted for both regular sneakers and bike shoes. Sometimes I feel like uping my geek level and bringing my biking shoes so that people have something to stare at and make fun of. I entertain in small ways.

  • That's all. Even getting this many points was a stretch.

Bleh.

Plot summary: basically I go to the gym so I don't feel lazy. Laziness is vile. I understand not everyone physically can or even wishes to go for a walk along the beach, splash about in a pool... but not doing it now prevents you from having the ability to do it later. Blah blah blah.

(PS - someone in the movie I'm watching - which was released in 2006 - just had an old school printed airplane ticket that she was looking at on the way to the airport. Didn't they stop making those about a decade ago? Pfft.)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Telephone... what?

Last night au pub Shannon was explaining the game of Pictionary Telephone. I started listening to the rules, but then was overcome with distraction of memories of the original telephone game and started to get mildly stressed. For the unfamiliar, Person 1 whispers a word or phrase into the ear of the person next to her. That person whispers it to the person next to her. Rinse, lather, repeat. Eventually it gets to the last person who announces what she heard. The originator announces what was originally said. Sometimes it matches, sometimes it close, or when I played, completely different.

I hated that game.

We played it at Brownie camp with a huge group of girls. In case you missed the memo/childhood, about 5% of girls are actually mean dictators of evil, disguised in the body of a prissy 7-year-old girl. Then they recruit unsuspecting friends into their group of evil, and thus develops a group of bitchy girls that make fun of others and everyone hates. Brownies was no exception. When the word returned to the original Telephone-er one Spreader of Evil just *needed* to know where the word/phrase got so off-track and how something to stupid could had happened.

Oh, Evil Girl, it's not so necessary to be an awful person. It was obviously me who completely changed the word. The rule was you could whisper it into the person's ear only once. I don't think I had my hearing aid yet, and I don't think I yet knew to always have someone whisper in my left ear, and never my right. So I ruined the game. And it was great to have that pointed out to a Gaggle of Girls. I couldn't hear the person next to me so I sent the word "abracadabra" around the room. Recently I had read someone that it was the longest word with no vowels other than 'a'.

Eventually I got better at the game when I learned to always have people whisper in my left ear. Even better, I didn't play. Now, usually when I can't hear someone I smile and insert random chuckles where I suspect to be appropriate. Or better yet, just tell them I can't hear them. Kind of a conversation killer though, particularly if asked a question.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Telephone is an evil, vile game.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Getting a MacCar

Once, a long time ago, (2008!) my car was dieing and refused to pass inspection. Of course, I drove Wee Red anyway. A fine would had been cheaper than a new car. (What's that you say? Dangerous liability?) In May 2009 I sold my car to someone who basically wanted it for parts. The battery was quite new, but he was probably attracted to the well functioning cassette player. You just know he had recently purchased a copy of Dance Mix '93 and was itching to blast it while cruising whatever road 55-year-old men cruise down while listening to "Jump Around".

Since then I haven't owned a car, except when my parents went away on vacation. So when my parents are away I have a car. How High School mature of me. Oh, and, like, there is totally a party this weekend. Can your older sister buy me some Mike's Hard Lemonade?

Randomly I'll decide that I should act like a grown-up and purchase a car. Usually this occurs when the weather is awful and laughing at me, when I feel a huge urge to spend the day frolicking in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, or when I want to buy something awkwardly shaped that won't fit into my backpack.

For awhile there was a car plunked in my neighbour's yard that was for sale. I looked at it and approved, though was slightly hesitant on having a standard. Sometimes I still get a little nervous if at a red light on a hill. I thought about buying it, approved the colour, and even more important, felt the car "fit" me. Then I never bothered calling the phone number on the For Sale sign. I suppose I figured if it were meant to be, the owner would somehow magically know so and approach me? Riiiight.

Tonight I started the car search, again, for the 6,000 time. My searches either happen online or on one of my bikes. In the bike sense, usually I'm out enjoying myself and bike by a car dealership. I think to myself, "Hey! I should look at cars!" and pull in. And keep biking because I'm enjoying myself and stopping to look at cars wouldn't be very fun. The online search generally goes a little better. I open Kijiji or UsedPEI.com and select the car category. Being a mature adult, I select the "$5,000 and above" category. I then realise I don't know anything about cars other than what a few of my friends drive. Then I look at car colour. Instantly rejected is white and any shade of blue, because white gets dirty and is "wrong" for me and I hate the colour blue. Particularly dark blue. If you are a fan of blue it's okay, it means more blue for you because I don't like. Cars older than 2005 often get initially rejected. Why 2005? Because my new car should be at least a decade newer than my old car. Yes? Yes. I'm sure that's what a professional car salesperson would tell you.

My next step is usually sidetracked by undertones of distraction. My Google search history would show important queries like, "What kind of car should I buy?" which leads to some crappy quiz that I excitedly take and think will offer the solution to my problem of uneducated indecisiveness. Generally using Google to solve life's bigger problems doesn't work. Once I Googled "most fun job in the world" and was lead to a site about driving RVs from distributors to a retailers. It was in the US so I couldn't apply.

Another Google search will often be "environmentally friendly cars" since I'm a quasi-environmentalist except when it comes to airplanes and flying away to, well, anywhere really.

Tonight I made a GREAT STEP when I actually contacted someone on Kijij about a car posting. Oh, and what car was that, you ask? Only the wee red car that was parked in my neighbour's yard. Still posted online... waiting... for me...

After watching 49-million episodes of
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Summit Preparations

Long, long ago, three brave travellers headed out to climb the summit of PEI. The day prior had been extremely busy: two had dipped into the icy harbour and all three played at the levees during various intervals of the day. Although the crew was slightly fatigued, January 2nd had a big adventure awaiting the Three.

Base camp was located in Fredericton, PEI. Poorly armed with a GPS with a dwindling battery life and no source of hydration, the three failed to reach the summit of PEI. Although they did overcome a variety of challenges (fierce winds, not knowing where to go, thin air at high altitudes,) the overwhelming sense of failure was something that would haunt them for months.

Until now.

Although Team Member H is no longer with us (off to Newfie-land she went, b'y,) the remaining two members have put months into preparing for Summit Attempt no. 2. They have been exercising at high altitudes (the air is so thin at 140M), consulting maps, and researching the necessary equipment. All this has built up to Saturday, October 23. The leaves have changed on the trees... but something else has changed as well. We have been stripped of the innocence of our childhoods are our forced to face our mortality. The trek to the 140-m summit will likely be dangerous. Foxes have been known to frequent the woods of this fine province, with some growing up to 17 *dangerous* pounds.


You cannot tell me this doesn't make your heart stop cold in fear.


Supplies needed for the excursion:
  • Walking sticks - at least three each. High potential of breakage.

  • Gatorade (red) - we will be sweating lots and will need to constantly refuel.

  • Compass.

  • GPS.

  • Oxygen mask (again, 140m.)

  • Tent and sleeping bag - should night fall before we reach base camp on our descend.

  • Flare gun.

  • Protein bars.

  • Water purification tablets.

  • Cupcakes.

  • Axe.

  • Snowshoes (you never know when the weather might change).

  • Bathing suit (you never know when the weather might change).

  • Life size cutout of Tom Selleck.

  • Donkey (for travel mate).

  • Llama (for me).

  • Bible.

  • Sushi (Mr. Potato Roll).

  • Fishing gear (in case we veer way off course).

  • Fur pellets (in case we need to barter with the local tribes).

  • Polio vaccination (in case we need to barter with the local tribes).

  • Radio (for our dance off!)

  • Shovel.

  • And lastly, Christmas tree decorations, just in case the adventure take much longer than we originally planned.


Please keep us in your thoughts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Just" = 4-letter word

I started another post about my new obsession du-jour (effect of left brain vs. right brain dominance on, well, everything) but got inspired for something possibly better, as only 2:30am Saturday night/Sunday morning conversations can do.

The word "just" is an awful word. My first note-worthy experience of recognizing its negative nature was at NSO (New Student Orientation) week during first-year uni ten years ago. I was sitting at a table in the cafeteria with a group of students and a random professor. The prof asked if we had picked majors, what courses we were taking, etc. One student replied, "I'm just doing an Arts degree."

Just an Arts degree.

The professor said to him to remove the word "just".

"It's not 'just' an Arts degree, it's a degree."

Basically, say it proudly, and don't imply it's less than it is.

More recently, when I was biking the Biking for Breakfast challenge someone was recording some pre-ride interviews at North Cape before we left. He asked if we could chat, and I said of course. The "interview" started and I stated my goal was to bike to Charlottetown.

"You're just going to Charlottetown?" he responded.
"Hey now," I reply cheekily, "I'm not going 'just' to Charlottetown. It's a 175-km ride away. That is not 'just' a short little ride. The furthest I ever biked in one day was 105 kilometres. This is an extra 70 kilometres"

He agreed. I was not going "just" to Charlottetown.

More recently in the almost wee hours of the night, a just-graduated culinary student told me he would be "just" a cook now. He was undermining the discipline he spent two years studying. Which leads to why I don't like the word. It implies too little, something unimpressive. You are implying to whomever is listening to you that he/she should not be impressed.

The Arts degree would not be as impressive as a science degree, it wasn't as good.

A 175-km bike ride in one day is not an accomplishment.

A career choice shouldn't be respected.

So no more "just", please.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stress eats your brain

If you were part of the solar system, would you be a planet or the sun?

I would be a planet. I tried explaining this to someone recently in regards to change. The person nodded like I was making plenty of sense. Good sign.

Essentially, I don`t like when change revolves around me and I'm merely a bystander. I'd rather be involved, directing rather than reacting. But once in awhile I play the role of the sun and watch life rotate around me and feel the stress of being static creep into my head.

(Also, although I suppose Pluto isn't a planet anymore, I would be Pluto. Entirely based on my Junior High obsession with, cough, Sailormoon. I recall telling my mum one day how wonderful it would be to have black hair with dark green highlights, à la Sailorpluto. While she didn't disagree, her silence was noted.)

Last week lots of people moved away (lots = 3) and I siiiiighed. Last time oodles of friends moved away on the same time I spent the following six months hanging out with a recently-moved-home ex-boyfriend.

Hey, you know what's a bad idea? Hanging out with your ex-boyfriend for six months. (Three months = obviously acceptable.)

So people were packing up luggage, cars, etc., and I was just, you know, hanging out. Medium-length story short, I had a job offer on a CIDA internship mid-week last week. Interview was random seeing as I hadn't actually applied for the position. I Disney-attacked the interview (new verb for bouncing in with 800% energy and 589% enthusiasm). References were called and I had the job offer less than 24 hours later. Job would involve working with local organisation in Charlottetown until Nov 4, then flying to INDIA for five months, followed by two more months of work in PEI. I would had spent this week in Nova Scotia at training and the rest of October trying to finish my current work contract (have been very busy at work lately) and trying to fulfill commitment to local organisation.. oh, and all the administrative fun that goes with moving to a new country.

This is what my brain looked like as it tried to figure out how to spend the next eight months of my life:

That's right, like a giant cat following a jellybean into a vortex as music flows through the air.


Maybe not quite exactly, but somewhat accurate. In a related note, I love graphic software.

Here is what happened between Tuesday post interview until turning down the job early Thursday afternoon.

First: Hmm, think that interview actually went quite well. YYAAAAAY, I'm moving to India and am going to have a pet elephant and help wonderful children!
Second: Wait - do I actually want to move to India?
Third: OF COURSE I WANT TO MOVE TO INDIA!
Fourth: But you'll be unemployed in June and will have just spent eight months earning minimal dollars. You HATE being unemployed.
Fifth: But you love travelling and "experiencing"!
Sixth: I will not accept the job right away if they call, but will tell them I will let them know within 24 hours. *feels responsible and smug, and falls asleep*
Seventh: Following morning... Huh, do I actually want to move to India?
Eighth: Phone call comes in.. job offer, become bouncy and excited.
Nineth: Fall into state of panic and do not want to leave job that offers 48 weeks of vacation per year
Tenth: Start freaking out about dorm living accommodations, closest city not being super safe, read about isolation and volunteers felling confined in living accommodations.
Eleventh: Read about local National Parks. Perk up again and decide will accept job offer!
Twelfth: Hostel style accommodations for five months creeps back into brain

blah blah blah. So essentially I changed my mind about 30 times, and finally decided not to accept the position. Things I realised:
  1. You do not move to the other side of the world just so you will have something to talk about and new Facebook profile pictures.

  2. You do not move to the other side of the world to impress people. Most people won't care and just think you're even flakier than they originally thought.

  3. Seeing an elephant not in a zoo is not a good reason to move to India for five months. (Still not convinced of this, but anyway.)

  4. If warned living conditions may leave you feeling isolated and confined, two of your least favourite things that aren't food, perhaps you should really take that into consideration.

  5. Giving up flexible job in crappy economy might not be so smart.

  6. I like *doing* things when I travel. I'm slightly passed wandering around in a city for hours. I want to bike for seven hours. I want to zipline. My holidays, as of late, tend to focus on being with friends that I see only once every couple of years and being active.

I dunno. I'm still trying to justify the entire 'no' thing. It's hard to turn down something that's a good opportunity and would be an amazing experience. But you don't have to do something just because it seems like you should. I guess. Ugggggggh. But I'm pretty sure I made the right decision.

If not, it'll be a long winter of me making weird pictures to post on the Internet. See above photo again for reference.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why you shouldn't read about the blitz late at night

Do you recognize this flag?



It's actually an editted version of the Czech Republic's flag and I haven't been able to find a record of it actually existing. However, I saw it very vividly in a dream a couple of weeks ago.

Backstory: About a month in a half ago Indigo was having a massive book sale; the type of sale where one buy books one would generally never buy, but do, because they are only one dollar. One such book was "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900".

Sounds rivetting, no?

It's the type of book you pick up when you feel like it, skip huge sections and focus on the ones of personal interest. I started the book at the beginning (Boer War? Huh?) and have mostly focused on World War II, with some reading of the early 60s. Before going to bed one night I was trying to fix my chipped nail polish and knew I couldn't (well, shouldn't) go to bed with wet nails. So I stayed up too late and read about the Blitz (German bombings of Great Britain in the early stages of World War II).

Nails dry, fall asleep.

In my dream a friend and I were close to the old North River Rink when we looked up to see a bizarre looking airplane flying very low in the sky. A massive door opened and out jumped paratroopers with guns and grenades. They started shooting everywhere and throwing their mini hand bombs. It wasn't a scary dream, but I remember looking up and noting one of them had spread his country's flag in his parachute. In my dream I told myself to study the unfamiliar flag and race home to do more research on it. I tried to find this flag in real life but haven't. However, I may be incorrect in assuming its the flag of a country and not a municipality, province, organisation, etc.

Speaking of flags, remember learning to draw your country's flag at a young age? Canada was a bit hard. I always mastered the red exterior stripes (so talented!) but struggled with the maple leaf. Instead of working on it symmetrically and creating a mirror image, I always started at the bottom left and worked clock wise resulting in a lack of space and a product that looked like a crumpled maple leaf that 90 school school stomped on in the playground.

May I present to you, Nigeria:


A flag that causes no stress for young Nigerian patriots. Unless, tragically, you don't have a green marker or crayon. The other children push you out of the way running to the art supplies cupboard.. and you are stuck with blue. BLUE. You can't love your home country of Nigeria with BLUE!!! Traumatized, the student moves to Finland, Scotland, Antarctica, or Honduras. This is what happens when children don't learn to share.

Some of the other more ridiculous flags I came across:

Governor General of Canada


Queen Eizabeth II of Canada


Flag number one looks like a newspaper editorial comic making fun of a GG scandal. The lion is holding what appears to be a maple leaf lollipop and standing on one of those long marshmellow twist candies. Nice.

QEII's Canada flag was clearly designed by someone in the "less is actually less, more is MOOOORE!" art camp. In the top left we have royal lions, top right the Scottish flag which represents royalty, mid right a few fleurs de lis because the Queen LOVES Quebec, some maple leaves at the bottom similar to those on Ontario's coat of arms, and finally, a harp. *blink* Huh? It's actually the flag version of the Shield of Canada, which we can learn about on the Canadian Heritage website. This i what happens when a country tries to please everyone. Of course, for overall good vibes, a unicorn was added.

Research shows people like unicorns!!

That's all. Happy Thanksgiving! Sorry about the chill in the air. My fault, I told someone I wasn't dreading winter this year and was looking forward to some outdoor winter activity. Then the temperature dropped notably and now it's 6C, windy, and my bike is sadly propped against a table wishing for one last 65-km ride. Sorry, vélo. I am full of regret and will never speak of winter favourably again.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Faire your velo, lassie!

Heeeeeey! YOU!

Eight-thousand four-hundred and sixty eight of my best looking friends have moved away so now I'll write. This week has been stupid and feels like my brain was in a tilt-a-whirl for six days. Now, Jen loves rides, but six days? No thank you. Result would be similar to this scene in Problem Child 2.


The most disgusting movie scene ever. I hated it when I was young. Maybe because I puked a lot as a child - though not on rides.

In testimonial to how little I wrote this summer, two blog posts down are about my strategy for biking the tip to tip in one day. And now, the result!

My day started at 2:20am when my alarm went off. It was such a refreshing 1.5 hour sleep, it only made sense to participate in a massive bike ride. I went downstairs and greeted the housefolk who were just getting home. Nice. Hopped in the auto, and went to the Charlottetown Mall to catch my ride up to North Cape. I stood around in a daze in the parking lot waiting to load the bus. It was a school bus, and freezing. I basically slept for twenty minutes on the 1.5ish hour bus ride and curled up against a heater. I grabbed some brekkie at the school we stopped at to pick up more riders. Too early to eat, but I tried to swallow anyway. Then finally fell asleep on the bus for about six seconds while we drove to North Cape. People on the bus seemed very cyclish and were holding their wheels, which they had taken off their bikes. I, on the other hand, can barely get my wheel off (or worse, on) my bike without muttering foreign curse words.

The winds in North Cape were about 6,000 km/hour, but in a very favourable direction. We stood around and did nothing and I tried to make small chat with people. However, we should all recognize by now I can barely hold a coherent conversation prior to 9:30am.


We were supposed to start pedaling at 7:00 but got a bit delayed waiting for missing (late) cyclists. I positioned myself towards the back of the group for a few of reasons:
1) I'm slow.
2) Still new to clipless pedals. Was semi-convinced that the more people I could tip over and crash in front of the higher likelihood it would happen.
3) Suspected most slow people placed themselves at the back. This would increase probability of finding someone to ride with, instead of chase after.

And eventually we took off. The first leg was about 55km to Portage. All was smooth but our route was closed in one spot and we got diverted down a dirt road. After a series of flats last summer (which stopped one I purchased Bicyclete new tires), I tend to panic on roads with tiny pieces of rocks or gravel, particularly when on a road bike (aka, Lady Velo) with tires the width of an oxen's tail. However, I survived (thrived?!) and Lady Velo's tubes remained puncture free. I would have high fived them, but high fiving rotating bike wheels is not advised. You will crash and likely rip your hand on the spokes. Even worse, you could damage your bike in the process!!

Pit stop no. 1 was well timed as I finally felt ready to eat some breakfast and made myself a 4-diamond PB&J sandwich. It tasted like the clouds of heaven, mixed with the temptations of the Under World. Also made executive decision to have a blue gatorade day, not orange. Least favourite artificial flavouring is orange.

In a too much info sense, but those who have ever travelled with me know so well, I feel the need to pee at any available moment. Even if I don't have to, but it seems like a good idea, I will. Pre-bike events I pee about 452 times leading up to start time. So in Portage I proudly strutted towards the building anchoring the parking lot we were in and realised it was abandoned; shuttered. This turned out to be a trend for the buildings we biked by in Upper Prince. So I "watered the grass".

My biking partner and I got back on our bikes and took off for Summerside, only about 45 km away. Weather was pretty much perfect - wind was at our backs and the sun was shining. Could had used an extra degree or two temperature wise, but I like sweating. The ride to Summerside was easy and uneventful. We biked by the visitor info centre in .. somewhere. Pleasant something? One car in the parking lot. Made a mental note of that.

Summerside = more food + more actually-not-necessary peeing

Summerside also marks the end of ease. Prince County is such an easy ride. No real hills, and the Economic Action Plan (go recession!) has ensured that most roads are nicely paved.

Then, there is Queens County.

PEI doesn't have a high elevation; the highest point is only 145m above sea level. However, central PEI can be classified as 'rolling hills' - constant up and down. It is exhausting, but great training for long rides such as this.

This is also where I bonked. Going up the overpass to head to Charlottetown was a struggle. But, bless them, the three people I was biking with at that point slowed to let me catch up. I mentally smothered them with kisses and nibbled their earlobes. At some point heading towards Crapaud area I made the best Jen MacBike move ever: I was sipping from my water bottle while in a small pace line, and completely missed my water bottle cage when I tried to put the water bottle back. It fell to the pavement and I ran over it and skidded around. *cough* amateur. *cough* epic beginner, ACTUALLY. The fact I didn't crash is actually quite impressive. Had people been watching I would have received the slow-clap-eyeroll combo.

Then the fun started. Oh, hello, hills. Flew down into Crapaud. Slowly climbed out of Hampton. Up/down/up/up/up/UPPPP/down. I looked at my bike computer at one point and it said I was creeking along at 9.5km/hr. People RUN faster than that. A lot of people. I could probably run faster than that and I only run when I'm being chased OR chasing something (boys? penguins? ice cream truck?). This is when you drop to your lowest gears and realise you keep trying to gear down, but there are not any gears left. Instead you just pant a lot and feel fire burn through your legs. It's actually kind of amazing. Going down the last biggest hill (Churchill!) was insane. Pretty sure it's the fastest I ever went on a bike - 60km/hr - with braking due to fear of (1) death, (2) cars, and (3) hitting the tiniest pothole and flailing thirty feet into the air, feet still attached to bike. Hopefully body still attached to feet.

Oh, right, if you are a concerned adult relative, I wasn't going 60km/hr down a hill on the TransCanada. I, uh, dismounted my bike and walked down the hill and encouraged all the other cyclists to do so as well. At one point we linked hands and sang Koombyah. (NOTE: looked up proper spelling, apparently "kumbaya", which sounds like something that would be said in Newfie porn.)

At this point I was giddy. I had originally planned to bike only to Charlottetown ("only" being 175km) but thought I might do the whole thing. Then I got word that my dear friends were going to meet me in Ch'town with a cake AND there was a party that night. So I had decided Ch'town would be the end, which I kind of regret. The weather conditions were so perfect that I don't think the day will be as nice next year. Ugh. But yes, hyper brain kicked in and I started pedalling like a mad woman towards Charlottetown, but then slowed as my pedal-mate was starting to slow, like I had in Borden. Returning the favour, I slowed and encouraged her, being much more familiar with the geography than her.

Then the paparazzi showed up. Ahh, the MacPhail parents. Finally, the chance to capture their daughter in an athletic activity after many years of Brother-hockey-baseball action. No longer did their daughter simply twirl around in the livingroom with a scarf tied around her waste (IT WAS A TAIL, THANK YOU), now she actually uses her cardiovascular system for good instead of nothing.

Then I got to Charlottetown and ate food. Friends were there with cake (love you, friends!) and parents. It was pointed out that I had white crap (dried up cocaine?) all over my face, but upon licking my arm I realised it was only salt from my sweat (aka healthy woman glow). Then I got really indecisive about whether to keep biking or not, but decided that 6.5 hrs on my bike was enough. I didn't feel like sitting anymore. Shoes came off, and friends and I wandered to Peake's Quay for a bevvie. If you ever want a beer to hit you with the power of four bottles of wine, may I suggest having a pint post six hours of cardio activity. Bang for your buck, b'y. Then Shan drove me home, after a stop at the place where she was housesitting. There was leftover pizza in the fridge. I let it make love to my face. Got home, turned on laptop, fell asleep. Woke up to half-eaten slice of pizza and bag of gummie worms next to me. Wish I could wake up with a breakfast like that waiting for me everyday.

Showered, napped some more, drank some gatorade (this time with vodka! what an athlete!) and went to a party. Then to a bar. Around 11:00pm I wanted to lay down in the middle of street and pass out from exhaustion, but instead I drank about 30 glasses of water. Then got my 9th wind of the day and rocked out til 2:30.

The following day I didn't hurt so much, but ate way too much and then got violently ill and half died on a friend's couch. I blame exhaustion and dehydration.

Monday my legs kind of hurt and I was wearing wedge heels at work. Walking outside with my coworker I completely tipped over started bleeding from the knee. Coworker seemed concerned (very kind of him - I probably would had laughed provided no serious injuries were obvious) and I laughed. I like to think it was exhaustion and sore muscles which explained the tip over, but it was probably me being clumsy and stupid. So now both knees have scars - right from tipping over on my bike, twice, onto pavement, struggling with new pedals/shoes, and left, from being a moron. *fist pump*

So next year I do the whole thing, weather pending. Start praying to your favourite weather God now, please.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oh, apparently it's Summer.

Oh, hello, two-month hiatus.

It's summer. Anyone who knows me well and was eagerly awaiting a charming post should have read that sentence (reference: "It's summer") and nodded knowingly. Of course! Maki's summers are filled with the outdoors, adventure, adopting starving children, and eating strawberries. As people fill the Island (friends!!!), the writer fills her social schedule to the brink of explosion (explosion = dangereux). This serves multiple purposes:
1) I like my friends, I like to see them, some are not around often, so when they are here, I see them. (=Logic).
2) I'm hoping to OD on social life so I won't notice the intense sucking vacuum noise that the world makes when post-Labour Day life crashes through the door. Autumn is kind of like checking into a seniors home. Acknowledgment of an upcoming evil (winter).
3) Blog fodder. All of which I apparently ignored in my head. I swear it is all stored up there in me wee head somewhere, and I'll write it out in September and October, when too many people move/go away/return to lives somewhere else. Then they will miss me immensely and invite me to move in with them, and the world will smile again.

Good Things that have Recently Happened:

- Free breakfast at Subway
- Free leftovers at School of Business from event previous day
- Found discarded orange lipgloss in parents basement. Mine from a couple of years ago. Finally I can be super happy fun pretty again!
- Found favourite nose rings in parents basement. Parents basement = mine of wonderful things
- Found pink shirt that I thought was in parents basement, but had actually been wrapped up in tiny packing fashion and in a piece of luggage in my room.
- New pedals for Lady Velo, and new cycling shoes for me. Minor con: foot is weird and tingly after 175-km biking extravaganza almost two weeks ago.
- People are hooome!
- Accidentally adopted a cat
- People are visiting!
- Purchased green mascara. I live life in technicolour.
- Beach, water, playing, splashing, laughing, etc.

And now, she works. This is basically the post equivalent of when you go on vacation, but have to sneak into work to pick up something you forgot, but then someone notices you and asks a question. You answer reluctantly while slowly backing towards the door. Then you fake a coughing fit and dart out of the building while applying sunscreen for your afternoon adventure.

Oh... cough cough... bye.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Incredibly Realistic Strategy for Biking 285km in One Day

I mentioned in a previous post that I signed up for the Biking for Breakfast Challenge, a one-day bike ride across all of this glorious province with all its rolling hills, potholes, and roadkill. I signed up for this with the intention of perhaps doing a relay with a couple of other people or just doing 150-200km. Although, once you already do 200km, what's another 85km? Now I feel pressure to do the whole thing. Pressure from no one in particular, perhaps just the altitude from being waaaay up on the third floor at work.

How to Bike Really Far in One Day
- Weather: Pray to the weather Gods and Goddesses everyday until the event occurs. Such prayers include humidity levels, precipitation amounts, UV index, and, most critically wind direction and speed. In this case, I *think* but have not decided for certain, that winds from the southwest are best. That way the headwinds are done with early in the day.

- Conveyor belt: I will spend the next 1.5 months constructing a conveyor belt in key locations. The belt with go from Borden to Clyde River area. Since round-abouts seem to be "in" this season, in Crapaud I will design a complicated round-about and sell doughnuts to commemorate the event.

- Attachable child's wagon: I will arrange for a fellow rider to attach one of the kiddie-pull wagons to his/her bike. When I tire or wish to take a nap, I will go in the wagon and let the other cyclist pull me along.

- Motor: Some kids passed me on his bike the other day because it had a loud motor that sounded like a motorcycle. I will borrow his bike. for the interior 220km. The first 35km I will do on my own bike, along with the last 30km. No one will ever suspect.

- Hydration: I will link my bike up with a complicated hydration system. It will be linked through a CamelBack/Pack/whatever they are called and offer a variety of drinks. Critical will be: cherry slushy, Coke Light (not Diet Coke - entirely different), a lighter beer - preferably Brahma, water (I guess...), and jagerbombs. It will be heavy to lug this around on my back all day, but it will be worth it.

- Entertainment/Safety: Ideally, children will follow me the whole way blowing bubbles at me and singing songs of encouragement. Two of the children would be riding llamas. One will be crying from having recently been stung by a bee. This child works to attract the bees to herself, instead of me.

- Clothing: I will cleverly arrange in advance for someone to have dry clothing for me at the halfway point. Depending on the temperature, I tend to get a little cold when I take breaks but am in sweaty clothes. Possible solution is to bike in bathing suit, but then threats of chaffing loom.

- Time machine: This may not work as well as I originally thought, as based on the time travel concepts displayed in Back to the Future, you will move through time, but remain in the same locations. X and Y coordinates of displacement = 0. Only 4th dimension coordinates change. In this scenario...

- Displacement machine/Matter transporter: This would take care of the actual changing of location. I would use it to cheat the whole way... just a few select hills or roads with a crappy shoulder would be skipped.

- Protective bubble: this protective bubble would be weightless, extremely aerodynamic, waterproof, windproof, AND a beautiful colour. It would also protect from road debris and the threat of being wiped off the road by a wavering car.

These, and more finely crafted plans, should ensure I don't die.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh, that juice is actually wine.

Bonsoir mes amis.

A friend requested a blog update. Here we go my Darlin' Charlin'!

How to tell if your good friend, Jen Maki, has indulged in an adult beverage or two.

- French flows from the mouth like water from the tap.

- "Let's go on an adventure!" - or, in warmer months - "We should go swimming!"

- Why take a cab when you can walk? "Jen, it's snowing with 50 km/hr winds."

- "Wouldn't pizza rock the body that rocks the party?!"

- One eye appears smaller than the other in photos.

- I will tell you within ten minutes of meeting you that, yes, I used to work at Disney World and it was amazing.

- You'll get to hear all about how much I love my new bike and how it's like attaching wings to your feet.

- "We should go somewhere fun! Not Baba's. I don't want to stare at bands and sway."

- Devilish gleam in the eye.

Four more works til the weekend!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Heeeey, Varanasi! *wink*

Ahh, India. I have a deep connection with you; I did a presentation on India in grade 5. We discussed very basic things, ("This is what the flag looks like and the country is very big, but not nearly as big as Canada, but very hot.") but I think you have developed a crush on me! Since the beginning of May this blog has received almost 500 hits from Varanasi, a city sort of north-eastish. Most of he visitors from that city get to this blog by using the link at the upper left "Next blog". Since there is no "Previous Blog" option, I don't know exactly what site they are coming from, but I would like to see it. It know gives me a huge percentage of my traffic. Such a change from the days when Googling random French phrases brought you here. On the plus side, last week I spent some time learning about this previously unknown city in India. Though I must wonder why the sudden traffic... Internet service improved? Google Analytics didn't previously recognize the location? I'm a demi-Goddess?

I signed up for the Biking for Breakfast Challenge. I don't know why. I blame "The Biggest Loser" in which a bunch of overweight people exercise excessively and then vomit. I want to see if biking 285 km in one day will make me vomit, go crazy, and then stumble a la Will Ferrel in Old School after being hit by a tranquilizer dart. I'll ponder this some more as I drift into sleep.

Also, currently reading Text from last night.com in preparation for Friday's wine festival. If the wine gets tricky and makes my brain a little woozy, at least I'll never be as bad as those (highly entertaining) whack jobs.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Good morning, World!!

Dear PEI motorists:

Sorry I flashed you the other day, but I was in a pickle. I know you expected your drive to work to be free of nudity and all things evil, but I have yet to put curtains over my window, despite my window looking over one of the busiest roads in our wee city. But that's okay, I'll assume you're modest and looked away.

You see, I was about to be attacked. I was laying in bed enjoying the last moments of rest before the workday when I noticed a large wasp buzzing close to my window. I felt confident in my safety knowing the screen would keep Wee Waspy out. However, the smile on my face faded when I realised the screen had unattached from the window frame close to wear the wasp was hovering. I didn't have much time to react, but I had to do so quickly as the wasp appeared to be slowly discovering the entry into this new world.

If you know me well you will recall that I'm terrified of bees, wasps, and general stinging things. We shall put the blame on the writers of My Girl. Though, to be fair, the movie was released when I was 8, so obviously something else triggered this deep fear pre-1991. Regardless, if Macaulay Culkin/"Thomas" can't survive a few bee stings, what chance do I have?

I hopped from my bed and quickly made great efforts to fix the screen to keep out the murderer. Standing on my bed, in front of my large window. It occurred to me that perhaps I was giving the sleepy motorists a bit of a show, but my safety was worth it. And I was lucky not to reveal all. Those with foot fetishes would had been disappointed. I was well blocked from the knees down.

In a way, not having my curtains up (they are still in their plastic wrapping from when I bought them ages ago) saved my life. Had the curtains been shielding me from the sun I wouldn't had noticed the Wee Wasp trying to plow into my room. He would have come in, buzzed around a bunch, and then killed me.

In closing, I hope I have not offended you.

Many thanks,
Jen Mac

Conversation from earlier that week about jellyfish stings -
Roommate One from Ontario: I mean, you must have been stung by a jellyfish, right? Does it hurt? Like a bee sting?
Jen: I dunno. I've never been stung by anything.
Roommate One: What? That's impossible? Roommate Two, you've been stung by a bee, right? How have you never been stung by a bee?
Roommate Two: No, actually.
Roommate One: HOW IS THAT EVEN F--KING POSSIBLE?
Jen: I'm observant and good at running away from stinging things.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Please let me give you my money!

Today I bought a new bike from MacQueens. I have yet to take a photo of the bike, seeing as it has been in my possession for about five hours. However, I am eager to share with you what my bike looks like. I could show you the stock photo from Specialized's website, but that's too easy. Instead, I present to you my artist's rendition of what my bike would look like under water.


You will note that there is a mermaid riding the bike. Trying actually. She's actually on an invisible trainer because she has no legs to straddle the bike with and no feet to pedal with. Poor Ariel. She is also holding two candy canes, because it's Christmas (symbolic: today was like Christmas for me!), and she's distributing the candy canes to the fish.

Obviously.

Alors, now I'm a thrilled owner of a Specialized Dolce Elite. I decided the price tag was justified as it was about the same price (before tax) of a scholarship I received in first year university. I won't tell you how much the scholarship was, we will say it was somewhere between $100 - $4000.

My new Lady Friend and I went for a ride this evening, and it was darling fun. Kind of have to get used to the vibrations on the hands though. The first time I rode a road bike in Feb 2009 I wasn't wearing gloves and could hardly stand to touch the lovely thing the next morning my hands were so wonky.

There are two bike shops in my city. The one where I bought my new bike (also where I bought my hybrid a couple of years ago), and the other one. Many people love the other one, but every time I go in there looking to buy something they are just ridiculously unhelpful. It's like I have to pull information from their brains, beg them to tell me more and try to actually sell me the bike. I don't know if they assume I won't buy something because 1) they don't recognize me, 2) I'm a girl, 3) I sound a bit confused, or 4) because I'm not wearing lycra and fancy shoes. I went to both bike shops for both bike purchases. I can't even be bothered going to shop no. 2 anymore. It's also the super simple things that matter, such as at preferred bike shop they hold the door open for customers when they are taking their bikes in and out. Shop no. 2 doesn't, and then I somehow foolishly managed to cut my leg on their door last Friday.

Housemate no. 3 said I should write about our shared crappy customer service experience at Captain Sub from last Sunday. I said I would! I'm pretty sure the girl working there hated us for buying subs. HATED US. Jared asked for sub sauce, some sort of weird Upper Canada thing. The chick basically starred at him and said no. But she didn't bother asking, "What type of sauce is it?" and looking for something similar. Then he asked for his big sub to be cut in three pieces instead of two, and I'm convinced she had flashes of cutting Jared into three pieces (instead of the two she was originally planning!) It was hard to tell whether she hated us (pfft, fooish, everyone LOVES US), hated her job, or just hated everything in the entire world and has a massive chip on her shoulder. I would go with the last option.

On a much more positive note, the people who work at my preferred bike shop are awesome. They note if the bike I'm about to test ride will fit, or if the seat was too high. Kid at the other shop didn't clue in at all.

Maybe he just does too many drugs?

Ahh, bicycle. You and I will be having a very enjoyable summer together. I'm sorry I didn't like your colour scheme at first, but I don't consider black or white to be real colours. I wanted you to be teal and red - like Superman. But now I see your thin strip of purple and approve, and think I should put star stickers on the fork, and maybe some ribbon on the handle bars to give some more splashes of colour. I also find your sexy factor to rise to alarming levels once I actually sit on you. I am also sorry that I had so many thoughts, wondering if you were worth the extra $400 over the lower model. Obviously you were, because I, umm, couldn't reach the brakes very well on the other one.

Yes, mon amie, we will have a good summer together. Now we just need to work some voodoo magic to keep the rain drops to seasonal levels.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Go Maki, Go!

This past Saturday I was one half of a two-person team for the Red Island Relay. Overall, it was tonnes of fun and I'm so glad that I got to go in last minute. The Relay is in five parts: 1) run 7.5 km, 2) road bike 27 km, 3) run 10 km, 4) trail bike 19 km, and 5) two-person canoe or kayak for 6km. I did legs 2, 4, and 5. After a panicked Thursday night, I arranged to borrow a road bike for the road portion (THANK GOD) and would use my usual happy-commuter hybrid on the trail. They said "mountain bike portion", but there is absolutely no need for a mountain bike when the trail is dry - which is was. It was actually probably some of the best portion of the Confederation Trail that I have biked on recently.

Here is how my road bike started:


Excellent. Remember to wear helmet and sport huge, unsporty sunglasses. The ride went very well, and there was a nice tailwind going down a huge hill. The wind also did not seem as bad as originally forecasted to be.

However, this is how my ride ended:


Nice one, Jen Mac. At about kilometre 22 (I'm not completely sure, but I was pretty close to the end) I suffered from a race-ending flat in my back tire. So I walked back down the giant hill I was conquering to some people directing cyclists. We shuffled awkwardly.

"Umm, I have a flat and no spare tube or pump. I usually would bring a tube and pump... but just not today, I guess."
"Huh. Well, that's too bad."
"It is. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do now."
"I suppose I could give you and your bike a lift in my truck? Where do you want to go?"
"I guess to the finish line/transition area."
"Okay - off we go!"
"UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH."

We load the bike into the truck and drive off, passing a few cyclists going up the big hill. I wave. Then I note a car ahead of me that looks familiar. My parents' car - they were going to snap some pictures and say hello. They pulled over to let us pass, thinking we were part of some race convoy. We pull up next to them and I knock on the window, smile, and wave.

Mother waves back, also with a big smile, thinking, "That is my daughter, it is nice to see her smiling in that truck with the stranger man!"

Papa looks at me, looks absolutely disgusted, likely thinking, "HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO SCREW UP ALL THE TIME?" or perhaps, "Of course, she crashed, and now she is excited because she hurt her ankle and is secretly thrilled that she'll get to use crutches and have something to laugh about."

The Kind Stranger drove me back close to the transition area and I wheeled/walked across the timer mat. We took a weird route back, I actually probably have a recorded time pretty similar to what my actual time would be.

I stand in the transition area awkwardly, basically saying over and over and over again and again, "I have a flat tire!!!" and was unable to find my team mate. A delightfully eager volunteer sprints over, concerned that I can find my team mate. She asks who he is, and I reply, "He's tall with curly hair and we call him Mike!" and she takes off. Mike comes running over a few moments later, surprised to see me so soon. And off he goes!

I take the hour to do healthy athlete type things: eat chocolate, put on my fleece to keep warm, use the washroom, guzzle some gatorade (red, please), fiddle with my front wheel, and pat a dog I see on the way to the toilet.

Mike comes back from a triumphant run, and I take off for Leg 4. The trail ride went very well, and I think took me about 48 mins. High five for fantastic trail conditions! I even passed a few people, which made me feel smug, particularly as one was decked in hardcore geeky bike gear. Mind you this person was probably doing the whole thing on his own... but anyway.

Coming back down into the transition area was awesome, and you have pedalled hard you could easily hit 45km/hr, even on a hybrid. My nose was getting curiously runny, and it turned out I had what I like to call a "fake" nose bleed. It dripped, like, five drops on my arm, then I rubbed my nose a few times, and it appeared to end.

I sprinted off to the boat area, while Devin captured a wonderful photo of me basically yelping, "I think I have a nose bleed!" to which he responded by looking at me bizarrely. Likely because what I yelped probably sounded like, "I klhejlon mweeeee!"

I hopped into the canoe with Mike and off we went! I would like to say we raced off and won the whole thing, but the wee cyclist of the team had one large drawback: she had never paddled a canoe. She got the hang of it, but didn't want to push too hard for the first bit in fear of burning out for the last bit.

Cyclist = me

Also, something about being in a canoe makes me think "relax!" A kayak I tend to think GO GO GOOOOOOO! So I realised towards the end that I wasn't really trying that hard. I think Mike fell into the same groove a wee bit. Had we both tried harder (particularly the cyclist) I'm sure we could have shaved ten minutes off our time. Alas, perhaps next year. Overall time was 4 hours, twenty-four minutes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Text to self: Things to do on the moon

I generally have a lot of trouble falling asleep at night but then sleep like a drugged baby until my alarm sings in my ears. Sometimes I think of things that I think would be wonderful to write about, but refrain from powering up Laptop and just hope I remember them in the morning. About a week ago I came up with what seemed like WONDERFUL ideas and text them to myself. The text reads, "Blog: things to do on the moon, bf list half-duck, things my kids can do."

Things to do on the moon is self explanatory and I recall thinking of a few great things (hop!). Boyfriend list half-duck somewhat makes sense as I remember my train of thought about the list (pertains to an email sent long ago), but I'm questioning the half-duck thing. Perhaps I had some sort of boyfriend requirement that the male should not be a half mutated animal, specifically a duck? I even remember laughing as I typed it into my phone.

In a timid attempt to do this week-old brain wave justice, I present to you, Things to do on the Mooon:

- Hop around. Be sure to attach yourself to something sturdy via a strong rope.
- Weight yourself. Moon gravity = stunning weight loss!
- Do the moonwalk. It's only appropriate.
- Search for signs of life. There has to be something there, even if it's only the dead carcass of a june bug.
- Nap.

Like I will do now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Public Service Announcement

Friends:

I am here today to offer constructive criticism on your choice as consumers.


You may recognize the product featured in this photo. If you have ever consumed this product (and obviously you have otherwise our relationship is quickly spiraling downwards) your brain should have instantly flooded with memories of a delicious, tender chocolate ball sitting on your tongue, the chocolate slowly sweating onto your taste buds with "So Happy Together" playing in the background. The interior holds a careful secret: love. The inside of these chocolate balls were invented when God, Buddha, Allah, and Zeus were having a tea party.

Although my relationship with the Lindt brand has generally always been strong and solid, it did waver when I descending the train in Zurich, Switzerland. I was full of optimism; an innocent lassie with a hop in her step. As much as one can hop when weighed down with a 30-lb backpack... so, heavily stepped, really. Into the train station's visitor centre I go. In my best German I say, "I vould like a map, please," borrowing a friend's method of quickly becoming a linguistic master of any language (say the words in English, but with a stereotyped accent of the local language). I am provided with a map, and an awkward smile. I inquired about the location of the Lindt chocolate factory that had me drooling in my Rough Guide. The kind Svisse-Germhan informed me that the factory and its tours were temporarily closed for renovation, refurb, donkey control, something. I felt overwhelmed with grief; the same grief one feels when she thinks she has one cookie left, but actually has none.

Instead, I had to settle for a large advertisement of Lindt chocolate.


Needless to say, the sign didn't compare to the goodness I expected to come from the actual tour/unlimited tasting session (belly ache factory?), but instead I drank beer with hostel people, explored, enjoyed the sun, and, surprise, went on a long bike ride.

So, based on these preceding ramblings, you should derived that I take my Lindt chocolate quite seriously. Thus, when I came across a knock-off version of Lindt Lindor chocolate balls I as a bit skeptical, almost nervous. Usually I would just snark and buy the brandless substitute... But this is clearly different. The package stated the product was made in Switzerland (+1 point), but the truffles (so said the packaging) were wrapped in blue wrapper instead of red. Not being a fan of blue, particularly light blue, I felt a twitch in my shoulder. A panicked discussion with my co-shopper wasn't comforting. We both felt concern with faulty fakes. Eventually, I decided to take a risk. I bought the fakes, in the name of science, of course. The "buying slightly overpriced but oh-so delicious chocolate with groceries" habit is/was supposed to disappear after leaving France. Success = questionable.

Fake truffles in light blue wrappers were placed in basket, taken to the register, paid for, and ripped open about 100 paces out of the grocery store. Co-muncher had the first truffle. Verdict that we shared: not the same, not bad, an okay substitute in the event you are lacking the extra $.70 for the true taste bud delights.

Conclusion:
Lindt Lindor Truffles: +9,000
President's Choice Milk Chocolate Truffles: +2 (photo to perhaps be added later)

This has been a public service announcement in the stylings of Maki.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Numbers Game

Once, a long, long time ago, (1995-2004), I was a 'numbers person'. This is mostly evident in school marks, and high school awards that were given nice names but really should have been called, "Science Geek Prize" or "Way to rock finance, Maki!" I'm still a bit of a numbers person, and write many reports involving a plethora of numbers. However, I don't really do anything with numbers anymore. My life is lacking algebraic equations, graphing calculators (kidding! I always hated those), elaborate equations used to determine simple things ("According to this complicated equation, you will die if you chop off your head!"), etc.

It's been so long since I've be able to us pi, dramatic siiiiiigh. Math and physics got even better as teachers/professors insisted that inserting greek characters into equations and results was the right thing to do.

But no one wants to read how I miss math class and wish I could use a geometry set at least once a week. Here are numbers you may enjoy.

The number of...
Times I bought a specific kind of beer because there was an elephant on the can/label/bottle: 2

  elephant-labelled beer that did not taste so good: 1.5

Reports I have written since starting my job in June 2007: approximately 18,742

  Reports I have written that nobody external has read: 17,894

Animals I have contemplated stealing from a zoo: most of them

  Animals I have actually stolen from a zoo: zero

Pennies required to buy a chocolate bar from the University's vending machines last week: 130 (note: machine does not actually accept pennies

  Pennies required to buy a chocolate bar from the uni's vending machines this week: 160.. no more purchases from the vending machine. I'm taking a stance!

Times a week I go to work with wet or still-damp hair: 2 or 3

  Other people who show up with wet hair: zero (this confuses me - hair dryer = ball of frizz, and no one else has frizzy OR wet hair)

Times I've checked the weather today: two

  Times I would check the weather on an average winter workday: 30 million

Seasons of Family Ties owned: two

  Seasons I should own: all of them, but with Baby Andrew scenes magically erased

Blogs written this week: two!

  Blogs that were picked up by my Facebook feed: 0 ... thanks, failing technology

Times today that I thought of ways to make money by blogging: very many!

  Dollars ever made from blogging: $0

Cheers to the Internet for allowing me to share this important information with you.

Fact you may have not known: in French there is no masculine version of the word "esthetician". That means France is sexist. Which is fine, even applaudable, because I would not want a man waxing the lady parts. He just wouldn't know...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Summer's a brewin'...

Signs summer is coming:

  • Jewell's Country Market is open, which was my savior at kilometre 55 of what was planned to be a simple 40-km bike ride.

  • Boomer, the local weatherman, said winter was ending tonight once the wind died down - and it did die down!

  • Sun still gleams on the horizon at 20h45.

  • Beer Club is being held outside tomorrow!

  • The university feels vacant as profs sneak off for holidays.

  • Season finales galore! Highlight being Survivor last night, which I lapped up like a thirsty puppy. Then read all about it online *cough* geek *cough* and then got paranoid the next day that my tribe ("work mates") was strategising against me.

  • I'm getting emails about bicycling rides, which I'm too slow to participate in :P

  • Not wearing boots, unless it's raining.

  • Darling Sparks kids came to my door selling Girl Guide cookies. Having a cold and not feeling well, obviously cookies were a required purchase. Despite the fact I hated Brownies (the pre-Girl Guides) and thought there were too many mean girls enrolled.

  • Big movies coming out soon!

  • People watering their yards. STOP IT.

  • People watering their driveways. STOP IT.

Yes, it turns out I'm quite intolerant of people watering their lawns and cleaning their driveways. It's spring in the Maritimes. If it's not raining today, it probably will tomorrow. Or the day after.

(To be fair it doesn't seem to be raining that much, but often low, moody clouds are taking over the skyline.)

In a lighter note:



I crack up whenever this commercial comes on TV. There is no real explanation for my cackly laughter, but it happens. It also helped last time when one of my roommates squinted at the TV and said, "I still can never see the hippo the first time around..."

The magical world of YouTube lead me to Star Wars Ep I "Duel of the Fates" which made me feel geeky for listening to it. It reminds me of studying for final exams in grade 11, as I used to listen to the Star Wars soundtrack when studying. I had read somewhere that classical music helps studying, and apparently I assumed Star Wars was classical music. In a good note, I aced grade 11 and 12. Thank you, John Williams! Could have used your help in grade 10 "Etudes canadiens", however.

Yesterday evening I sneezed while eating popcorn, all over my arm. Must had been a cursed sneeze as shortly after I felt my head getting a bit stuffy and by evening's end I had developed a cold. Woke up today feeling a smidge less than mediocre and have sneezed approximately 18,752 times today. Sometimes eating, sometimes not, sometimes drinking, sometimes not. I told my cold this afternoon, "Fine, you can stay today, but I am dousing you out with some wicked vitamin C this evening." Then, you know, the cute kids showed up with the cookies.

Cookies are rich in vitamin c, yes?

No.

See you again tomorrow, cold.