Monday, March 21, 2011

Summer Vacation

First, yay spring!! I saw a bright red robin outside my window this morning and it looked so beautiful against the dull brown post-winter, pre-spring dullness. Awesome.

Second. this is my 300th post.

Third, with summer drawing nearer I've been thinking about all sorts of vacation plans. Here are a few ideas that I have:

1. Hardly a vacation plan but still a fun trip - going to Winnipeg for a friends wedding in June. This will be fun as my mom will probably come down and I'll get to visit with Carmen & Marcia, always good.

2. Vegas for a friends birthday. This is up in the air due to the timing... if it's decided that they want to go in July then I'm all for it but if it's any earlier I'm out. New roof, air conditioner & landscaping means that May-June are going to be mega broke months.

3. London to visit a friend. A close friend is working in London until October and it would be very awesome to go see him for a long weekend, maybe July 1st or Civic Holiday. That would require some budgeting but I think it would be worth it. (This idea is in 1st place)

4. New York City. I've never been. I want to go. Long weekend or make-shift long weekend.

5. Buffalo for Labour Day weekend. We did this last year and it was hella fun. The annual Buffalo Wing Fest happens every Labour Day weekend and pretty much you go and eat chicken wings all day. Amazing. I wrote a recap here with some link love & the awesome hotel we went to and budget details. Seriously though, you should come with us. It's a relatively cheap trip and tons of fun.

In all cases the variables include the number of vacation days I'll need to take and the cost of the trip. The reno projects we have planned for this spring are going to be a big hit to the ol' cash flow but hopefully we'll recover quickly.

Do you have summer plans already??

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Re-branding

I'm not sure if I've blogged about this before (I should really use tags...) but I'm pretty sick of "Elbow in nose" as my blog title.

I started this blog in April 2004 - almost 7 years ago! I was finishing my first co-op term and I was BORED. The joke at work was while everyone else was sitting around sticking their fingers in their noses (read: doing nothing) I took it to a new level and got my elbow up there. As in, I was REALLY doing nothing and starting the blog was the cure. The catch is that while I can't actually get my elbow up there I can come a lot closer than you can. Seriously, I can lick my elbow. Ok, so I have an advantage. Ya, I called it an advantage. Jokes on you guys! Putting your socks on with two hands... wasting all that time everyday! Two socks - two hands. Try it. Where was I?

Anyway, I think it's time for a re-brand. While I'm not ready to to migrate everything to a new address I think I'll start by changing my header. Maybe I'll even keep changing it! Ideally I'd love to have 'theelbow.com' or 'littlestelbow.com' or something like that. We'll see what I come up with in the meantime.

Friday, March 04, 2011

TEDxWaterloo 2011

WHERE. TO. START.

What a massive brain-gasm.

Yesterday, I had the most extreme pleasure of attending TEDXWaterloo. The BIGGEST TEDx event EVER. How cool is that? There were something like 1000 people in the building.

I could right 1000s of words on this event but in the interest in keeping your attention I'm just going to give you some highlights. If you want a serious review, I have 16 pages of notes I can send you. Seriously.

Highlight 1: The Venue. Hosted at Centre in the Square, it was beautiful, comfortable, and has the most brilliant acoustics. An awesome space for the show and an awesome space for mingling and partying.

Highlight 2: The people. I swear every person that I love from KW was there, and more.

Highlight 3 & 4: The breaks, and the FOOD on the breaks. The breaks were long and gave ample time to talk to everyone. THE FOOD. My god, the food. Firstly there was so much so I never felt bad for taking a good helping. The quality of food was like nothing I've seen at any conference. Gelato, popcorn machine, homemade chocolates, schnitzel sandwiches, nacho station with fresh toppings. So much good quality, fresh, amazing food. Massive kudos to all involved in the catering!!!

Highlight 5: Michael Nielson - delivered speech on 'Open Science' and the idea of sharing data and collecting intelligence. The line that stuck with me was "publicly funded science should be available to all". I made me consider how bitchy we can get when we start discussing intellectual property and what we could accomplish if we all collaborated openly.

Highlight 6: JF Carrey - delivered speech on being the youngest Canadian to climb Everest at age 24. Hello hotty! Bet seriously, he was so relaxed and spoke very well. He was very easy to listen to. He told a pretty incredible story of how he prepared for the climb and then the climb itself. He showed one of the most terrifying pictures ever of his boot on a ladder across a massively deep chasm. His resonating lines were "Enjoy the journey", "Passion is contagious" and "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time".

Highlight 7: Vicki Keith - delivered speech on marathon swimming and her greatest accomplishments. She said her favourite thing to do is coach and helped coach a young girl who had lost a portion of all of her limbs to swim 20km across Lake Erie (err... I think). She also talked about swimming across Lake Ontario and what a brutal experience it was. At one point she swam in the same spot for 4 hours as the water was so rough so she made no forward progress. The resonating line from her was to aim HUGE and celebrate the steps you make towards that massive goal. Like really - who thinks swimming 80km non-stop is attainable?? This girl.

Highlight 8: Edwin Outwater & Rebel Music - this guy is seriously cool and we are seriously lucky to have him as a member of our community. He had a string quartet on stage with him and demonstrated how classical music is the ultimate rebel music today as it's the opposite of what's popular. It tends to be quiet, more serious, slower, etc. His closing statement was "What is the next soundtrack of the rebellion and will we be a part of it?"

For a full list of the speakers you can go here.

For Darin's comments & pics you can go here.

Comments from the WR Record are here.

Comments from IQC (a sponsor!!) are here.

Notes from organizer & sponsor Cutegecko are here.

Awesome notes & photos from Trevor Haldenby are here.

Photos from Christine Reid are here.

Thoughts from my friend Patrick are here.

Recap from Stephanie Rozek is here.

Ok I think I've said too much now... the show was awesome, the food was awesome, the after-party was awesome. I can honestly say this was one of the most inspirational and exciting events I've ever been to. Way to go TEDxWaterloo team! Massive success.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

When you know...

I had a conversation this AM with a friend, we'll call him Good Friend or GF for short. It went a little something like this:

--

GF: omg reading the geekiest blog post evar

me: by ME??? (referring to this one)

GF: ya

me: lol I freaking LLLOOOOVVEEEE Ender's Game. MAN I have been getting excited about books lately like I get excited about roundabouts

GF: if there were a book about roundabouts, you'd probably orgasm

me: bahahahahaha I am a MEGA DORK I have 2

GF: really? it's worse that I thought

me: bahaha I am such a massive dork wow

GF: truly

--

If I were ever in an interview and was asked "At what moment in your life did you realize that you were a massive dork?" I would be able to answer 10:31AM March 2, 2011.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Ender's Game

While I was in sunny Jamaica I managed to read 3.5 books. Yes I'm a dork, yes I'm ok with that.

The first book I read was Ender's Game. I read this book for the first time back in 2003 but having just finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy last month (which has a similar story) I thought it was time to give Ender a re-read.


You cannot help but be completely in love with Ender. You'll want to pick him up and hug him and tell him he's so great and it'll all be ok. What a little trooper!

The book is based, much like The Hunger Games, in a bit of a post-apocalyptic North America. Though more like the world was attacked 70 years ago, things changed, and now the world might be attacked again soon. Enter child soldier training. The government tests all children and those deemed gifted are sent off to battle school. Battle school is in space and houses training for all gifted children from ages ~7-16. Mostly boys, mostly brilliant. Ender's parents have two children older than Ender who were deemed quite gifted but not quite right and so they are given permission to have a third child in hopes that it will fit the mold. The concept of being a 'Third' is quite a privilege and also a large target to have on your back.

Anyway, Ender is a Third, he is outrageously smart and is chosen to head off to battle school. The book chronicles his time there and how he attempts to outsmart every large and small challenge put in front of him.

The book is quite sci-fi focused but it has some reality in it given that it's based in our existing world and even though he is in space for a large part of the book he's in the school and not floating around in a space suit. Really, the battle school could just be down the street. Towards the end of the book it gets a little more space-like with travel to other planets etc. However, even with all of this going on the book really centres around Ender, how he's feeling and how his brain works. It's very emotional and I found the most intriguing part of the book was the relationships that Ender built and maintained. Relationships with his family, classmates, teachers, and government officials.

If you're not into sci-fi I think you should still give this book a try as it's very well written and a great story. If you are into sci-fi you will love this.