Monday, September 27, 2010

Movement

On Thursday I am moving. I am leaving Uptown Waterloo and the student ghetto for the suburbs. I am seriously going to miss this apartment.

I moved into this house on September 1st, 2008. I was starting my last co-op term and I had a roommate. I set up my home office in the living-room and spent every day in front of the window. That fall term was probably the most fun I'd ever had on co-op. My two closest friends were in town and we spent as much time together as we could. I hosted pub-crawls, potlucks, and many out-of-towners. That Christmas, my friend gave me a bottle of vodka encased in a plastic disco case. The bottle was promptly hung in my living-room doorway for all to bump their heads on. It is still there today and it will most definitely be on display in the new house. That term was full of hangovers, wonderful friends, and amazing memories.

January 2009 I started my final term in school. This term was uneventful. I spent a lot of time at school finishing up projects. I had a job set-up for post-graduation. I didn't have to move. Smooth sailing.

April 2009 I finished my undergrad and my roommate moved out. I agreed to keep the two bedroom apatrment as I'd once again be working at home and it would be nice to have an office. I set up my desk in the little bedroom and proceeded to fill the livingroom with nicer furniture and even hung pictures on the wall for the first time. I graduated, I gave the valedictory address, I found Boomer. This summer was pure bliss. I was single and happy, making an adult living and enjoying my new furry companion. My apartment became my life. I spent everyday here and hosted so many friends for pre-uptown parties given the 2 minute commute. Boomer and I became familiar with the park right across the street. This summer was eye-opening and for the first time I was doing it all myself.

Fall came and eventually winter. December 16th I invited a friend over and then we were going to head uptown. We ended up at a bar and more friends showed up. That night I met the guy I'm now moving in with. We had our first date in my kitchen. I made butter chicken. We sat in my Costco folding chairs and Boomer laid under my kitchen table, a table I had previously bought for $10 from a friend leaving town. We sat on my couch and watched Mean Girls on my 22" rear-projection TV, one which I'd bought in January 2004 on my first co-op term.

2010 has been quite a year. I spent new-years with the new guy, bought a real TV and eventually decided to buy a house.

This apartment has been the centroid of the past two years of my life. Not just any two years but two years in which I went from a hungover undergrad to an adult to a dog owner to a home owner.

I'm going to miss the solid wood doors with the glass door knobs. I'm going to miss the seven closets that allowed me to store any mess I didn't have time to clean up. I'm going to miss the blue bathtub and sink and the 6' mirror in the bathroom. I'm going to miss the large second floor windows that allow me to keep the lights off until the sun starts to go down. I'm going to miss the ancient hardwood floors, now full of scratches from moving furniture and a hyperactive dog. I'm going to miss the little blue kitchen where I cooked a first date meal and so many more after that, where I mixed every drink imaginable, where I failed and succeeded at so many new recipes. That kitchen and it's 2.5' of counter space is the inspiration for My Messy Kitchen. I'm going to miss the 1 minute walk to Uptown and the park. I'm really going to miss this place.

So why the hell am I leaving?
- drunk people on the street yelling
- broken bottles cutting up my dogs feet
- no parking
- landlords
- noisy apartments all around me
- no yard for Booms to play in
- paying RENT

So long peeps, see y'all in the 'burbs!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Steel Rail Sessions

My goodness. What an incredibly creative, interesting, and beautiful evening I had last night.

Last night was the 'Steel Rail Sessions' hosted and created by Hilary from RQ. The completely unique event included an interactive train ride from Waterloo to St. Jacobs, a concert/hang out in St Jacobs, train ride back to Waterloo and then like any good party, an after party.

The train was set up with different artistic exhibits in each car. From Jen Gough's MESA car to the live nude model sketching car hosted by KWAG to the wall of community ideas on post-it notes. We were surrounded by art the whole time. The stop in St Jacobs included the work of Aaron Bartley (WANT. EVERYTHING.) and a concert by Vacuity. Oh did I mention we were in the train workshop where they are restoring two locomotives? Ya, COOL. The train ride back was another opportunity to check out the rest of the train and of course have a sing-a-long.

Did I mention there was food and booze on the train? Courtesy of Nick & Nat's Uptown 21

We arrived back in Waterloo and the train station was buzzing with... ZOMBIES. Thankfully no brains were eaten and they turned to cutting a rug in the gallery instead.

The after party was hosted at the Clay & Glass Gallery. What a beautiful space! More drinks, more food, more chatting and more daydreaming of new art I want in my house.

At the gallery I overheard someone comment that this event could only be so fun and successful in a town like Kitchener-Waterloo. If it were hosted in Toronto it would have been $100 a ticket (rather than the very reasonable $15), it would have been on a GO train, and we would have gone to Oakville. No thanks. I'll stick to #kwawesome

I am so thrilled to have attended this event with so many interesting people, not to mention 90% of my friends. I think everyone agrees that it was a huge success and a million kudos out to Hilary for all of her efforts.

Check out Amy's blog for more comments & praise!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Labour Day Weekend

WHAT A WEEKEND!

I hate to bore you guys with uninteresting updates of what my weekends have included ... BUT.... BUT .... THIS weekend deserves a post.

If you were to make a list of activities that you would love to do for an entire day, what would be on it? Perhaps getting a full-day massage? Lying on the beach?.... EATING CHICKEN WINGS?

Well friends, I had the absolute pleasure of accomplishing that last one. Myself and the boy packed up my car and headed to Buffalo for the annual Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival. What a time we had.

Sidebar: I got a flat tire as I pulled out of my driveway before we left. What the heck kind of luck is that? Did I ever tell you my car also broke down the Friday of thanksgiving weekend once also? I'm not going to jinx my bad luck and suggest other holiday travel mishaps that may occur... may my stars realign themselves ASAP!!

Back to Buffalo. We get to the stadium, we park, we go in. We have no idea what to expect. We had after all heard about the event from a friend and decided to attend strictly based on that recommendation. How bad could it be? The way it works is you buy food tickets and then dispense your food tickets at the booths for wings. 90% of the booths just feature trays of chicken wings. You walk up, hand over your tickets, eat your wings. Rob, in all his spicy food glory, had to throw out one of his wings as he had merely tried the sauce on the tip of his fingers and his eyes began to water. We quickly fixed that by buying a beer. Needless to say it was a super fun, albeit dorky event to attend. We got to the festival at 1:30pm and left around 3:00pm and the stadium was filling up so this was a good move on our part.

Not only did my friend recommend the Wing Fest but he also recommended we stay at a particular hotel for the Sunday night special. Conveniently, he and 20 of his friends had decided to do the same!

The hotel is Salvatore's Grand Hotel and it is on the west Side of Buffalo, just past the airport. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere surrounded by big-box shopping. The Sunday night special is $150 and this includes dinner, breakfast, and a *king jacuzzi suite*. We arrived and got to our room to find a bathtub the size of my bedroom and a shower the size of my kitchen. All of the couples from the group had rooms along the same hallway and my friend Dan had a room with a large sitting area. We congregated and enjoy a few cheap drinks. It is USA after all! We all headed down to dinner together to our private dining room. The menu was amazing with choices of lamb, 2 kinds of steak, chicken and pasta. Everything was perfect. Rob would agree that his steak was the best he's ever had and it melted in his mouth. After dinner we all headed back to our rooms for some jacuzzi time and then met up for buffet breakfast in the morning.

Both the festival and the restaurant/hotel experience are worth every penny we spent. The wing fest worked out to about $35 US for parking, entry, wings and beer for 2. The hotel worked out to $180 with dinner gratuity and drinks. The hotel has the Sunday night special all year but if you're interested on going for a long weekend make sure to book ahead of time!

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Project

I've been thinking about this for quite a while... I may have even blogged about it at one point... I really enjoy writing letters. I will write to anyone, (just about) anywhere, about anything. If you write to me, I will write you back with such speed and vigor that you can't help but think "this girl needs a life". Call me old fashioned, I just love writing to people.

The problem I have run into on many occasion... no one else on this planet seems to share this love. I have yet to find a single person willing to be my penpal*. When I was young I was batting away penpal requisitions like I was the featured lady at the Bunny Ranch. Did I mention that the term 'email' had yet to go mainstream?

Thanks, Internet. You ruined my letter writing dreams.

The idea I have been throwing around is this: if my friends aren't writing me back, why not write to people that are even less likely to write back? What I'm saying is, I want to write to 'famous' people. My problem lies in the 'WHAT' category. WHAT should I write to them about? I'd like to have a single, refined question to pose to these people. This way I can encourage them to write back and perhaps I'll get some interesting answers from some interesting people.

Some ideas that I've considered are:
If your future self could leave a note for your 20 year old self, what would it say?
If you are in love or have been in love, when did you recognize it?
What would your last meal be and please send me the recipe.

Just some ideas, I'd love to hear from you if you can think of something better!

*to those noble individuals that have written to me I appreciate it IMMENSELY and I understand that letter-writing isn't for everyone and so it's alright and I'm happy to communicate via email and facebook from now on :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

#4 Exploit the Youth

"Why be a parent, cousin, aunt, or uncle - if not to exploit children for blog content?"

While there really aren't any kids in my life these days I did have the wonderful opportunity of spending Christmas holidays with my cousin's son (let's call him Monster). I've never really spent time with kids or had any desire to hold babies and I'll be honest... I find them kind of boring. As such, I was a little nervous as to how Monster would take to me. Well, turns out you give a kid 5 minutes of attention and you are his new best friend.

Before leaving for holidays, my cousin and her family had been practising names with Monster. They had a little book with people skiing in it and had helped Monster name each person after a member of our family. It was great to see him, having never met him, and have him scream out ER-RICK-UH!!! Though it tended to be in a low growling voice I still took it as a good sign. Even better was the fact that my cousin's family had told Monster than my dad should not be known as Uncle Duncan but rather as UNCLE DUNCLE, which he insisted on repeating 10 times, every time.

Monster was at the famous stage where he repeated everything we said and so the 'swear jar' rules were instituted. Thankfully Monster had exhausting days on the ski hill, fell asleep early, and we could rebel with our curse words and rousing games of 'Things'*.

I'm sure my cousin appreciated the fact that we were 10 adults and one kid for the two-weeks we were away. That little guy was never without a companion, especially if it involved jumping on Uncle Eric's bed.

*If you don't have this game, you need to get it. It is without a doubt the most hilarious time you can spend with your family. Be warned however, you may find out certain things about your parents that you never wanted to know....

Next up on "No One Cares What I had for Lunch"... #5: Be a sage - What opinions have people offered that stuck with you?

Monday, April 19, 2010

#3 Give us something

"Tell your readers about what presents you'll remember forever"

I think I've mentioned it before but the most unique, heart-felt gift I've ever gotten was a baking box from my friend Liz. We were living together and baking together often. Our baking stuff was in a cardboard box which was a pain to drag in and out of the cupboard. For my birthday, Liz got a wooden drawer which had two handles on it, decoupaged the shit out of it with magazine pictures of cakes and other baked goods, a convenient new place for me to keep my baking stuff. The kicker, Liz put a strap on one of the handles so that I could carry it comfortably and level using my little arm. This girl is seriously brilliant and a seriously awesome friend.

Just before I left for Christmas holidays after my first term in school my brother offered to take me for lunch after my last exam. No biggie, pretty standard occurrence. On the way to the restaurant my brother made a wrong turn into the dealership, drove to the back parking lot and said something to the effect of "notice anything strange?". There in the parking lot was my new car sporting beautiful Manitoba license plates.

Stay tuned for installment #4 of "No one cares what I had for lunch": Exploit the youth!

Monday, April 12, 2010

You have been warned...

... this blog is going to get a bit hockey crazy over the next weeks (months?) as the NHL playoffs start.

As a Detroit Red Wings fan I will be primarily cheering for them... my secondary team is Chicago (long-time rivalry aside, they had a great season last year and are in great shape this year... and I love Johnny Toews). Beyond that I will have to choose as the games unfold.

For the first round I have made a friendly bet for the following:
Washington (4) vs. Montreal (1)
New Jersey (4) vs. Philadelphia (1)
Buffalo (2) vs. Boston (4)
Pittsburgh (4) vs. Ottawa (0)
San Jose (4) vs. Colorado (2)
Chicago (4) vs. Nashville (1)
Vancouver (2) vs. Los Angeles (4)
Phoenix (3) vs. Detroit (4)

Installment #2 of my 'No one Cares what I had for Lunch' endeavour to follow soon...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

#2 Fess Up

"How do you fail? Do you constantly kill plants? Always take the last cookie? That's the stuff friends. To err is human, but to share? Divine."

Oh dear... what do I fail at?

Well the largest failure in my life would be the most legitimate also. I failed school. Back in first year, 17-year-old me had other things on my mind and no room for school. And so, I failed. It sucked. It eventually turned into the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me but the month of August 2004 was a serious shit storm.

Enough heavy depressing failures... I fail at COMPUTERS! I can get by doing day-to-day stuff but ask me about installing programs or changing any settings on... anything and I'm pretty useless. Just ask co-worker Matt, who is the lucky soul who gets to hear all about it. I have recently learned how to google my problems and have become less of a computer failure but I still have a long way to go. The irony is that 90% of my friends are supremely computer savvy... maybe that's why I never learned, I never had to! It's your fault, friends!

And lastly I fail at dishes. I HATE doing dishes and so... I don't. Well, not totally true. I just don't do them very often. I take great measures to rinse things and stack them nicely in the sink (therefore no smell and not so messy) but I take even greater measures to avoid doing them. I am the biggest supporter of the 'I cook, you clean' mantra. On the bright side I am endlessly grateful to anyone who does my dishes for me. My friends Caitie and Liz pretty much just expect that they'll be doing dishes when they visit. It's the exchange for a clean, dry place to sleep :)

Next installment of "No One Cares What I Had for Lunch": #3 Tell your readers about the presents you'll remember forever. Coming soon!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

New mission and a few pet peeves

I've been meaning to get this book for years now... "No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog" by Margaret Mason. I finally sucked it up and it arrived today. After flipping through it and seeing how wonderfully creative it is I've decided to see just how far this book can take me.

So starting with Idea #1... here I go...

#1 Reign Supreme: "All of us should learn to tolerate stupid people... but what if we didn't have to? If you ruled the world, things would be better, at least in a few small ways"

If I ruled the world and standard reality still applied (I'm an engineer after all) I would appease several pet peeves. I would decree that allowing ones garbage bag to overflow so the next person has to deal with the mess be punishable by DEATH... or a smart talking-to anyway. I would decree that any spoken grammar mistake be pointed out and all corrections be appreciated as if they were enhancements to your character, exceptions shall be made for children. I would decree that brushes in nail-polish jars be constructed to reach the BOTTOM of the jar and not 1/3 down.... ladies, you know (men too if you paint your nails). I would decree that trash talk be based on FACT and not EMOTION. No more of this 'Your team sucks because it's not my team' but rather 'Your team sucks because you didn't make the playoffs' and so on.

Going slightly towards unrealistic... all arguments be solved over dinner and drinks (alcoholic or non) and killing someone is not an approved method of negotiation.

That's all I've got for now, feel free to use Ms. Mason's ideas along with me... next idea is all about failure... should be fun, stay tuned!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Earth Hour 2010


This Saturday marks the 4th annual installment of Earth Hour. You can read the full history here. The first event was held in Sydney in 2007 with 2.2 million people and 2100 business participating. In 2008, the event grew to include 371 cities in 35 countries. 2009 marked more than 4000 participating cities in 88 countries. Will you participate in Earth Hour 2010?

For some local news, the Record posted this article.
The City of Waterloo pledges it's commitment here.
University of Waterloo Residences encourages students to participate here.
Waterloo Town Square is hosting an event, details posted by Renjie
If you're not in Waterloo you can check to see if there's an event near you here.

And... for a completely different view to give you some ammo to form an educated opinion, here is an article that criticizes Earth Hour.

Personally I won't be doing anything special beyond shutting everything off in the house and enjoying a candlelit dinner. While I am uncertain of the physical impact of a whole bunch of us turning off the lights I think the awareness aspect is the real benefit of this event. The more we know the better equipped we are to DO something about it. So grab some candles, a deck of cards, maybe a board game, maybe your guitar and enjoy some time without the steady hum of electricity filling our homes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

World Water Day

Today is World Water Day and a friend of mine posted this link to a little video that shows the life-cycle of bottled water. It got me thinking a bit, given that there is a very strong push to be more environmentally friendly - why are we still using bottled water? Ok, my thought was a little harsher than that... are we really so stupid to believe that our tap water isn't safe?

I started thinking about what drew me to buy bottled water. I remember in 2nd year when my roommates and I would split cases of water every time we'd go for groceries. The allure for me was that given we remembered to put the water in the fridge, I'd always have cold water. So... I was buying bottled water just to have a glass of cold water? I soon learned the error of my ways and became anti-bottle and bought a Brita Filter jug.

Today, after watching that video link I started to re-consider my choice once again. There is nothing wrong with the water here in Waterloo yet I'm still paying $4 per filter just to get a cold glass of water? Erica, you are stupid. I am disappointed in myself that it took so long to see this.

Now, I think I've come to a pretty good, and final, decision on my drinking water. I want a cold glass of water. I have a 4L juice jug in my cupboard. Bye-bye Brita, I'm now committing to using just that jug and drinking straight tap water which I can easily keep in the fridge for much cheaper than bottles or Brita. Alas, I finally have my coveted chilled glass of water and I'm doing it the right way.

Come to think of it, just about every house I visit has a Brita jug in the fridge. What's the point? So today, on World Water Day I ask you to reconsider your drinking water choices, maybe save some money for yourself and help us all be a little more environmentally friendly.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Interview questions

I was listening to the radio today and in a Barbara Walters-style interview, the interviewer asked:

What do you know for sure?

What are you most certain of? What can you rely on 100%?

Being all fancy-like, the interviewee responded "I know that life is short" while this is a very reasonable answer I feel like I could be a little more personal.

Here are 2 answers I came up with... which aren't very original but will hopefully get you thinking about your own answers:

- I know I love my mom, dad, and brother and I know they love me.
- I know that I would rather be 10+lbs overweight than stop eating all the foods I love

The next question, which is a bit of a cliche but still fun:

Who are the 5 people that you would have for dinner, alive or dead?

The interviewer had what I think to be a great answer. She said she'd have her grandmother, her own mother, and her children so that they could all be together and to see how they would act around each other.

I think I'd agree with the grandmother thing. All of my grandparents died while I was in my teens. I'd love to hear them talk about their childhoods and coming to Canada.

These questions got me thinking of conversation starers so I looked a few up, here are some of my favourites:

1. What song or songs do you know all the lyrics to?
2. What did your favourite birthday include?
3. What are you afraid of?
4. What is your best, most useless, skill?

(My answers:
1. way too many Disney songs
2. Surprise 16th birthday, 2 months before actual bday
3. Sharks, deep water, scary movies
4. curling my tongue and shaking my eyes)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blogging & Stress Relief

The other day at the Ignite speaker series event, a friend of mine spoke about blogging. One point that she made that really hit home was sucking it up and clicking PUBLISH.

I struggle with this. That 'publish post' button is terrifying. Given that I've kept up pretty regularly with blogging that might seem silly but let me tell you, I have libraries of unpublished posts. Some are finished, most aren't. Most are unfinished thoughts that may have trickled off and I realized that I had no point to my post. Some I feel aren't interesting enough and I can tell my mom that stuff on the phone given that she's probably the only person who cares sometimes. Most of those will never be posted but I have still benefitted from writing each one.

Here's the thing - blogging for me is not a job and my blog doesn't really serve a purpose and deliver any valuable information. All of these posts are just a collection of random thoughts with a few well placed, usually unanswerable questions put up to get your brain moving a bit during the day. Ok, maybe that's the service I'm offering.

For me, blogging is an outlet. Well, writing is an outlet. The fact that I know people can read this nonsense is kind of therapeutic.

An example: last summer I was big into dating, as you may have seen from my Summer 2009 posts. Often times I would find myself in a situation of he-said-this-but-I'm-not-sure-what-he-meant-so-now-I'm-thinking-about-it-too-much. My solution: type it up. More often that not, after typing it up and re-reading it with the thought "What will the general public think of this?" usually resulted in a conclusion for me. Usually that conclusion was you're-being-ridiculous, but it got me further than just sitting on the couch. Writing down your thoughts forces you to organize them in a way that letting floating in your brain could never do. Writing and blogging are stress relievers and provide me with quality time with myself. No wonder I've managed to keep up with this thing for nearly 6 years. It's my therapy.

What is your favourite way to spend time with yourself? Do you enjoy reading on the porch, knitting, or gaming? Do you have any time that you devote to yourself? Do you feel that it's necessary to do so? Do you find it a chore or a stress relief? What is your favourite way to relieve stress?

Now I'm going to suck it up and hit PUBLISH.

Wishing you all a wonderful and SAFE St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Doing things a bit differently

Given that I've lived my entire 24 odd years with one hand, I've certainly developed some stories that are not so common to most. I find myself describing how I do something (eg: tying my shoes) and hearing the response "I never thought of that". I suppose that makes sense though given that all you nice people do things a bit differently than me, I also have a hard time understanding why everyone uses two hands to put on socks. Next time, try it with one. Below I've shared a few stories about my unique experiences growing up and how I learned to do things a little differently. Is there something you do especially different than the rest of us?

1. I needed help washing my hair well into my teens. With one hand and a ton of hair it was difficult to get all the soap out and so my mom would come in and help me rinse it out. I was no wonder that my mom was always pestering me to cut my hair. After all she was doing 100% of the maintenance from washing it to brushing it to braiding it every single morning! I really had no part of it. Thanks mom. In first year I chopped off all my hair for a fundraiser and I have never let it grow back past my chin.

2. I learned to tie my shoes when I was 12. I also figured it out on my own. I remember sitting on the end of my bed with my white Keds tennis shoes making 2 bunny ears and figuring out how long they needed to be to get it to stay in the bow form. To this day I use the 2-bunny-ear method and have no idea how to do it the way the majority of the population does. My dad also uses the bunny ear method (he has both hands).

3. I learned to ride a 2-wheeler bike when I was 12 (it was a big year for me!). I had a 2-wheeler for a long time but it always had training wheels on it. It was never an issue though. I never felt like I was slower or worse off than the rest of the neighbourhood kids (thanks guys). It was just what I did. I remember getting on the neighbours little red, banana seat bike and going 15 feet, it was the best thing ever.

4. I have a very hard time seeing myself on camera. As it is so natural for me to be as I am, I don't really consider myself different. When I see myself on camera my thought is 'is it REALLY that much shorter?' as if I expect myself to look like everyone else.

5. Enough about my slow progress... I can knit! I learned to knit when I was in grade 8. The woman who taught me simply gave me the needles and showed me how to move the tips. I'm not an especially good knitter but lets accept small victories here.

Is there something you never quite mastered as a kid? I seemed to struggle with the monkey bars... har har.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Roundabouts <> Traffic Circles

This article showed up in The Record today.

That article makes my brain hurt and makes me shake my head. Ok well, the announcement is awesome. Franklin Blvd will function much better with the roundabouts. The first half of the article is great... roundabouts have worked well in the Region, mayor supports, etc. The second half of the article is the brain-hurting-head-shaking part.

Many people in the community don't like the change. "Critics" argue that roundabouts will frustrate drivers. Who are these magic critic people and how to I get a hold of them? Seniors have no interest in learning how to use them. The corridor will be DANGEROUS and CHAOTIC! You know, because the resulting slower speeds, reduced collision opportunities, reduced environmental impact and general pleasing aesthetic WILL BE DANGEROUS AND CHAOTIC!! Run for the hills, people.

For my final point. The article refers to these things as TRAFFIC CIRCLES.

ROUNDABOUTS <> TRAFFIC CIRCLES

ROUNDABOUTS ARE NOT TRAFFIC CIRCLES

TRAFFIC CIRCLES AND ROUNDABOUTS ARE DIFFERENT


Ok, enough yelling. This article is frustrating because it is only hindering the progression of education regarding roundabouts. The construction is approved and ready to go so why not have an article highlighting the features of the corridor to produce more knowledgeable and better prepared drivers? Ugh, I need a drink.

Love, you local roundabout enthusiast
Erica

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Workspace Pros & Cons

I have the fortunate opportunity to have both a job I like AND a job that lets me work from home. There are a surprising amount of perks to this but also a few downsides.

Some perks:
  • My commute is 15 feet
  • My dress-code is whatever I choose (for the most part sweats and tshirts... unless I have to leave the house... AHH natural light!!)
  • The bathroom is RIGHT there
  • Gee I feel like singing along to this song.... and then I DO
  • Gee I feel like speaking out loud to better solve this problem... and then I DO
  • I have a dog and he is great company and I can give him more than enough attention. He also gets me up in the morning and outside (that place where you have to wear pants, what a buzzkill) a few times a day
  • All the food you could ever want is 15 feet away
  • I can get groceries at lunch
  • I can do just about anything at lunch
  • No one cares whether or not I've showered, not even the dog (after all, I don't judge HIM when he hasn't showered)
Some downsides:
  • The TV is right there
  • All the food you could ever wants is 15 feet away
  • There is no one to watch over your shoulder to make sure you're being productive. There's A LOT of self-motivation that needs to happen
One of the biggest perks for me is that my workspace can be as comfortable as I'd like it to be. While I spend most of my time sitting in my office, I could potentially bring my laptop to the porch, to the couch, or even to a coffee shop. My workspace is very flexible. So, what is your ideal workspace? Does it change? Does it even exist? Are you using it right now? Are there major changes you wish you could make?

When I consider my best workspace it becomes a bit of a Catch 22. Let's say I want to be as comfortable as possible. Ok, so I put our sweats on, I have a nice cup of tea, maybe a blanket over my lap, reclined on the couch with laptop. Well, now I just want to fall asleep. Ok, so now I'm too comfortable. So now I need to reevaluate. Let's scratch the couch and choose the desk. Ok now I'm at my desk but I'm in a chair that I know is bad for my back. Is there a right answer here? I haven't even covered being inspired or productive in my workspace. Does being in a cubicle with a superior walking by every 10 minutes encourage you to work or does it just cause you stress and make you uneasy? Also, what is the end result of your best workspace? Is it a place where you are most productive, inspired, comfortable, and ultimately happy? Well that cant be right as we already saw that being comfortable can turn on us pretty quickly.

What I've learned from being at home: my ultimate workspace is a place where I can achieve high levels of productivity most of the time and I'm mostly comfortable (the space heater under my desk does wonders in the morning). The space just cannot be perfect. The facets of my preferred workspace cannot co-exist at high levels in perfect harmony.

What are some components of your workspace that help you achieve better results? (comfort, productivity, inspiration, motivation) For me, these are not necessarily physical. One thing that helps is when it's a sunny day. I know I'll get to go out with the dog eventually so I don't sit staring longingly out the window but the sun sure puts me in good spirits. Another thing is a clean desk and a clean house. All distractions are covered and I can get some work done. Or write another blog entry.

Another thing to consider, do you have a different ideal workspace for the different task in your life? What if we get TOO productive? Is there such thing as too productive? Will we just exhaust ourselves?

Ok I'll stop, too much thinking for a Sunday event. Hope everyone had a great weekend :)

Friday, March 05, 2010

A story about guilt

Every single day I feel tempted by a handful of things. From what I eat, what I wear, what I do, what I listen to, and what I watch on TV. A lot of these things tend to induce guilt. That is, if I succumb to the temptation.

We are dealing with a few things here:
1. temptation + poor will power = guilt
2. temptation + good will power = satisfaction

An example: Last weekend a friend bought me a 1kg bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs. These little pieces of candy coated heaven have helped me get through the dreary months of February and March for years now. They are nothing shy of awesome. However, they are so rammed full of sugar that they are actually wolves in sheep's clothing. This bag sits on my desk. I am tempted by it every single day. To use the first equation I have my temptation (mini eggs) and then I have my will power. As you can see I have two options. Poor or Good. If I have poor will power at that point I will eat the eggs and then feel guilty because they are bad for me, my teeth hurt, I'm going to gain 100 lbs over night and die next year. Stupid mini eggs! However if at the time of my temptation I am feeling (will) powerful I will push the mini eggs aside and either find something else to eat (hopefully not candy coated) or simply get back to work. The results of that second option sure sound easy. In fact that second equation could take less than a minute to unfold and I will be filled with satisfaction for the rest of my day all because I said no to that little piece of candy. Well, at least until I notice the bag again and go through this battle all over again.

It sounds so easy when I write it out. Poor choice = guilt and likely a bad mood and a sore tummy for the rest of the day or Good choice and feel great. Well I'm obviously going to take the good choice!! Why wouldn't I??

Oh right, that whole theory of short term gain vs. long term pain. So now it comes down to how good I am at debating my own conscience.

"I'll have some mini eggs but I'll only have 3, anything is fine in moderation... right?"
"Who cares if I have a handful of mini eggs, I'm young, in good shape, nothing can stop me!... but I have been kind of tired lately and I didn't go to the gym this week"

The debate has many ugly sides.

Which bring me to another point. What do you prefer to carry: a clear or guilty conscience? And within that: how good are you at clearing a guilty conscience? Mentally, it doesn't matter how many mini eggs I eat if afterward I say to myself "who cares, it's just a bit of chocolate" That being the easy route of course. A second option being "who cares, I'll go to the gym for an hour today" which is far more genuine as it will legitimately clear your conscience because you have physically worked out at least some of the impact of the chocolate.

Sidebar: my example has the fortunate ability to have a physical cure: the gym. If your debate is over something far less trivial your 'cure' is far more difficult. Though, if it's time or money wasted there are physical cures: make more money, reevaluate schedule etc. If it's moral guilt (hit and run... though I hope not) your debate gets infinitely more difficult.

Yet another question: What is the best way to clear your conscience and find yourself at the end of the better (second) equation? Do you carry guilt around until you eventually forget about it (for small things like mini eggs) or do you have to make a physical change to ensure a completely cleared conscience?

I'm going to tell you a secret, none of these questions have answers. We all work differently. When I indulge in TV, shopping, food, etc I tend to try to balance them with something healthy or positive. Clean part of the house, shovel some snow, go to the gym, walk the dog, etc. Does this mean that if I continuously set myself back to zero that I could potentially live a long and happy life? Not so much, see next paragraph.

How do you handle your guilt and clear your conscience? How do you keep your will power strong? Even better, how do you avoid temptation? Personally, I think this last one is definitely the best one we should all aim for as it nullifies this entire argument and gets me back to work much quicker.

I dare you to guess how many mini eggs I have left.

Happy weekend :)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Ignite Waterloo 2

Last night I had the most delightful pleasure of presenting at Ignite Waterloo v2.0

When I first decided to do this I was a bit conflicted. The pros and cons were getting pretty confusing. It's only a 5 minute speech... so pick something familiar to most. No notes allowed on stage... pick something familiar to me. Slides are auto-advanced... so pick something with lots of points or something that doesn't rely heavily on slides. Audience is techy super dorks with a good sense of humour... cater to that somehow. In the end I chose to talk about roundabouts.

When it comes to public speaking I'm decently confident in my abilities but can't seem to shake the nerves within 20 minutes of speaking. I should really be over this by now. I'll work on that. Not only that but the group of presenters seems to ooze experience and confidence which they seemed to have snagged out of thin air. Teach me your ways!! Well in the end my speech was very well received and I feel good about it... I think I may have even converted some haters into lovers... or at least reconsider-ers.

Once again I was amazed at the unique and diverse personalities that are in the Waterloo community. There are so many brilliant and hilarious people in this town!

This event truly has something for everyone, with each speech lasting only 5 minutes it's easy to be engaged and difficult to be bored. That and the Children's Museum has awesome food and a great atmosphere. For other wonderful comments and photos on the event please visit:

Hilary Abel @ RQ (wonderful comments and links to most speakers)
Photos by MonsterFarm
Photos & Comments by Michael Seliske
CuteGecko Blog
Photos by Sean M. Puckett
Photos by Ramy Nassar

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Incomplete Opinion on Spanking Your Children

I was not spanked as a kid. My older brother was spanked once, it did nothing and so my parents abandoned the idea. Both of my parents were spanked throughout their childhood.

I respect the idea of trying it to see what the results are and then moving forward based on those results. At the same time though, I can't help but think I would be hitting my kids. Now I don't have children and so I might be completely oblivious and maybe I'll have an itching desire to spank them... though that just seems ridiculous to me.

An old roommate of mine was very firm with the idea of spanking. No questions, he is spanking his kids. His argument was that as a parent you need to state the roles of the household very clearly. Parents are boss, kids follow parents rules. While this does make sense I can't help but compare it to dog training. Dogs are pack animals and it is very important that you state your superiority to the dog. The dog is part of your pack and if the dog doesn't feel this then the dog will likely act out.

However... this is a dog. Not a child.

Sidebar... I am by NO MEANS violent with my dog. I love him to death and yes, he gets a smack on the head once in a while when he jumps on the counter but otherwise my dog leads a pretty cushy life. Also, dogs are tough cookies. Yes, there are other methods of disciplining a dog but I genuinely tried many others (formed my opinion based on research!) and giving him a smack is the only one that works. I feel like I'm digging myself into a hole here... bare with me!

In any case, I feel that there are much less-harmful ways of disciplining a child. Taking away favourite items (TV, video games, etc) or giving a time-out or sending them to their room. I do not think that spanking your child is a mature method of discipline.

I think my opinion (at this point in my life) on this comes from a few things:
1. The way my parents disciplined me (no spanking)
2. The fact that I don't have kids yet and thus cannot form a complete opinion.
3. My complete lack of understanding and hatred towards violence.

I admit my opinion is not completely formed and there are holes to my argument but I'm interested in other peoples thoughts on this. Do you have kids and do you spank them? Were you spanked? What led you to the opinion you have on spanking?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Plan for 2010

Goals for 2010:

By end of January:
  • Create a budget for the entire year
  • Sort my entire apartment and call for a Canadian Diabetes pick-up
Side bar... if you have old clothes you are planning on giving to Value Village, consider instead calling the Canadian Diabetes Association Clothesline program. They pick up your old stuff for free and then sell it back to such business as VV and put the profit back to the CDA.
  • start a work-out regime
  • begin the pursuit of finding a family doctor in KW
By end of February:
  • evaluate the idea of buying a house
By end of March:
  • make firm decision on housing plans for September 2010 (when current lease expires)
  • check in on budget, reevaluate as necessary
Goals for the year:
  • post at least 4 new recipes on My Messy Kitchen per month
  • LOSE THAT STUPID 15 LBS I'VE BEEN TRYING TO LOSE SINCE JUNE 2008!!
  • In addition to that... do something active EVERY DAY. An extra long walk with Boomer, a morning run with Boomer, Yoga class, swimming, etc)
  • ATTEMPT to make..... Macaroons. This may seem silly and insignificant.... but they are seriously temperamental to make but seriously delicious and I think it would be a fun thing to try.
This is all I have for now but I will add as necessary. I find that writing it down makes me so much more accountable to the list. What are you big plans for the year?