Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Updates and Stuff

I am not very motivated to blog much, it's true. Why not? Not sure. Maybe because I am still trying to figure out how to pull all my interests and my history together in one cohesive whole. But really, I mustn't stop writing until then, I say!

So, here's to some catching up on what I've been up to for the past month or so.

Summer and..
That is the big thing, the real thing. I survived the extra-long winter, and now I am enjoying summer.

Unemployment
I am, as of this month, out of work, since all substitute teaching has all but dried up for the last two weeks of high school, and of course, there is no school over summer. So, I've applied for unemployment benefits, and don't know yet whether I put in enough hours to qualify. We shall see.

Gardening and Yard Work
I've been keeping busy with yard work - lawn mowing, weed pulling, planting and tending my gardens (flower garden and small vegetable garden).

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Hiking
I've started hiking on Sundays with a local MeetUp group, and am getting exercise while enjoying the outdoors and having an opportunity to explore my own local national park.

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Dexter
I am loving my baby more and more. He's blind, and sort of fat, and rather obstinate; and he is super smart and super snuggly! No complaints.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Great Glebe Garage Sale 2014

Yesterday, Saturday, May 24th, a friend and I went to the Great Glebe Garage Sale, which is a huge, neighborhood-wide festival of garage sales in Ottawa. When I say "festival", I mean festival! The streets are full of people - old, young, colorful and bland; there are food stands on most corners, and porta-potties strategically located.

I was, at first, worried about parking and traffic, but Sarah and I decided to head out early, and although we'd planned to get on the road by 6, we left our suburb instead around 6:30 a.m. for the 15 minute drive to the Glebe. Although the streets were starting to get busy with people setting up stalls, and cars dropping off goods, traffic was still light at that point. After some aimless driving around, making my way to the edge of the neighborhood, I found a superb parking spot just outside the fray, parking on a little street called Broadway, just north of Queen Elizabeth Drive. This was a bit outside the excitement - but not by much, and had the added benefit of allowing an easy exit!

Not that we needed an easy exit, since we walked our feet off, and didn't even make our way back to the car until after 3:30, when the houses and vendors were closing up shop (indeed, many had already closed up and left "freebies" on the lawn!). Traffic had died down a lot - earlier in the day we saw several jams caused by stopped and illegally parked cars, crazy pedestrians strolling cluelessly in the middle of the road, and rubber-neckers trying to look at the sales while also navigating the streets.

During the course of the day, we walked all the streets of sales at least twice, stopping for an early lunch of a jumbo hot dog from a street vendor, and then a little later, we had a pub-lunch at the Farm Town Cook House and Bar. It felt just super good to rest our feet, drink frosty cold colas, and rest in the shade a bit before once again hitting the streets.

Aside from awesome parking, I found a few good deals - like funky shoes for $2, a heavy cast-iron garden lantern for $1, a book, a dog sweater (too tight for my fat Dexter!), a cutting board that fits across my sink, and lots of other little gems!


[caption id="attachment_3037" align="alignnone" width="225"]The shoppers at just one stall...out of many! The shoppers at just one stall...out of many![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3038" align="alignnone" width="225"]The limited and pricey menu at Farm Town resto-bar The limited and pricey menu at Farm Town resto-bar[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3039" align="alignnone" width="225"]Just one find - a $2 pair of funky shoes :) Just one find - a $2 pair of funky shoes :)[/caption]

Monday, May 12, 2014

Netflix Raising Prices in Canada - Confirmed

I've been a loyal member of Netflix since my return to Canada. All that English entertainment at my fingertips was hard to resist. And even now, after years to become accustomed to an absolute overload of tv stations, I still love Netflix. I love choosing the shows I want to watch, and to marathon-watch some of my faves. That was, after all, how I became addicted to The Walking Dead!

Additionally, with the use of various Firefox or Chrome add-ons, I can access shows not available in Canada - like some of my favourite British shows, Vera and Rosemary and Thyme.

And really, I've always said that, at $8 a month, Netflix was a steal.

But, the price is going up for newly joining members, with a two year price freeze for us current members.

Well, it will still be a deal at $9 a month!

Here's the email Netflix sent:

[caption id="attachment_3034" align="alignnone" width="300"]Email from Netflix Email from Netflix[/caption]

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Malah.net Chrome pop-up nag

About two months ago or so, I noticed that every few days a new window would open on my pc, unsolicited. This window always had a word definition (that I never even tried to look up, or needed to check!!).

The window had no indication where it was coming from, no tools or toolbar or anything, other than the name "Malah.net" in the upper right hand side of the window.

And - this damn Malah.net seemed to have somehow infected all my computers, and it was associated with my Chrome browser, as I discovered.

So - as Chrome synchronizes across devices if you are signed in to Google, including installing or removing extensions, I figured something there had to be the problem.

Lots of searching, a month of trial and error, and I found the nasty little culprit - and extension called BubbleTranslate (formerly All Translate, I believe).

Once I uninstalled that, the popups disappeared!

Here is a link that shows which extensions have been associated with Malah.net nag:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search-extensions/nicewebtools.com?hl=en-US&utm_source=chrome-ntp-launcher

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fed Up the Movie on May 9

I am really looking forward to a new documentary, called Fed Up which is coming out on May 9th (2014). Check it out here http://fedupmovie.com

Since returning to Canada after living more than a decade in Japan, I noticed that I had developed some minor health issues in addition to what I call "Western" weight gain. The health issues were mostly deteriorating vision, and some joint pain, which I have reversed simply by eliminating most wheat and processed foods from my diet.

In Japan, I never had to think much about food. I was active year round, as there is no real winter. And I ate more or less Japanese style food like taco-yaki and fried squid as opposed to potato chips for snacks; miso soups, yaki-tori, curries, etc instead of frozen pizzas because there really just is not the same amount of packaged, frozen artificial food-stuffs there. Even when I ate at a Mexican or Indian restaurant, the food was not full of preservatives, and contained a good helping of vegetables.

Here, I realize there is crap in everything. I can't even trust the meat because, well, pigs are fed other infected diseased pigs! Of more concern than that is the processed food, which is EVERYWHERE. And the sugar epidemic, too, is a problem.

I am thankful that there is a lot of good information out there, and I stay abreast of it. I am pleased with the research and willingness of individuals in the States (much less so in Canada) to stand up to big corporations and government, and expose the health risks they create.

Again, check out http://fedupmovie.com

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 6th through 12th - Fatigue

The snow has finally just about completely gone, the weather has not dipped below zero during the day in over a week, and the smell of wet grass is permeating the air. Spring is, indeed, here!

And, sadly, I haven't actually been out making the most of it. A week of fatigue, combined with PMS then full-on cramps, insomnia and other yuckiness, as well as one totally sleepless night due to other issues, left me drained and demotivated. My good intentions were set by the wayside. Yesterday I had fully planned to come home from work, get changed and then walk to the gym.

My gym is about a 2km (20 to 25 minute) walk. The weather was gorgeous - by far the nicest day we'd yet had. But instead, once home, I sat down "for a minute". Then lied down and napped for 45 minutes! My walk ended up being only an 8 minute walk to the grocery store :)

Ah, anyway. Today is Saturday, and I woke feeling much better. More energetic, and well rested. And today, too, is forecast to be warm and sunny, with temperatures up to 13 degrees Celsius.

Oh, and just so I remember that no, I did not foresake an entire week of spring - I did get out for an inaugural bike ride last week (on April 6th!), and even had a deer sighting. Totally awesome.

[caption id="attachment_3022" align="alignnone" width="300"]Clockwork in the Wild Clockwork in the Wild[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3021" align="alignnone" width="225"]Selfie in the Wild :) Selfie in the Wild :)[/caption]

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Beautiful April!

Well, that was a harsh March, I must say. It came in - and went out - like a lion. Temperatures stayed well below normal - always below freezing, getting down to minus 18 Celsius at night, even at the end of March.

However, I shall let bygones be bygones, as April is already showing itself to be a bit more moderate in its weather. Oh, it isn't actually warm, but it is above zero, and the sun has been shining, allowing me to pursue a healthier lifestyle in comfort!

I kicked off Tuesday morning (that would be, April 1st!), with a 6.7 km run. I started out with a light jacket over short sleeves, but wasn't running for more than five minutes when I had to stop and take off the wind-breaker. I tell you, getting sunshine on my arms for the first time in five and a half months was heaven.

Sadly, my preferred running routes are all completely snowed under, so I had to stick to the roads, but still I ventured off just a little!

[caption id="attachment_3013" align="alignnone" width="1770"]Winter Trail Winter Trail[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_3014" align="alignnone" width="480"]Selfie - in short sleeves! Selfie - in short sleeves![/caption]


The temperatures were still humanly survivable even by Tuesday evening, so, naturally, I uncovered the BBQ and grilled up some juicy drumsticks (to be served with a freshly-made Caesar salad) for dinner.

[caption id="attachment_3015" align="alignnone" width="2448"]Preparing to BBQ Preparing to BBQ[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3016" align="alignnone" width="3264"]The Grill The Grill[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_3017" align="alignnone" width="3264"]Almost Done! Almost Done![/caption]

It was just a hint of summer, and the lovely runs and barbecues to come, but a lovely break from, yes, five and a half months of non-stop harsh winter weather.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Zombies, Run! - Lots of fun!

About a week ago, I downloaded and installed a new running app on my Nexus 4. I'd been using Map My Run (and will continue to use it for sure), but found I was losing my motivation to get myself out running on the roads in the cold and snow. During my search to find the "best" running app, I saw Zombies, Run! and, well, thought it wasn't for me. First, the name seemed dumb. And second, it was a paid app, something I usually avoid.

However. It kinda did sound interesting. And, I have just power-watched all three and a half seasons of The Walking Dead tv show. And the reviews of the app were really good. And, it was spring break (though with no sign of spring) and I had days and days in which to kick-start my runs... So, I bit the bullet, and bought Zombies, Run! And I really do love it!

It is motivating, and fun. The story is, basically, that you (the runner) are Runner 5. You survive a helicopter crash, but have a headset and are in contact with Sam, who can see your position and where the Zombies are. He guides you, and you run to outrun zombies, pick up supplies, and try to make it safely to the tower. That is episode one. Episode two, you have to make a run to get more stuff. etc. And it has interval training build in - every now and then, you are advised that there is a zombie right on your tail, and you have to put on a burst of speed.

I set up a playlist so it plays my own tunes, and in between tracks the Zombie story line continues. But, here's the drawback, you need to have a playlist, and can't really play audio books. And I like to run while listening to books. So - I will alternate between Zombies and music, and Map My Run with audio books :)

Check out the Zombies, Run! game on their website here https://www.zombiesrungame.com/

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Media Monkey

Sometimes, when you have been a prisoner for too long, when your freedom has been so restricted, you actually forget how to move once you are free again.

That was me - still is me, perhaps - after breaking the shackles of iTunes. It has taken me two weeks to remember that there ARE other music organizers out there. In fact, one of my old favorites - Media Monkey - is still around and still surpasses all others (in my opinion!).

I had had to stop using Media Monkey because it was not able to transfer video to the iPod. And there were a few other iPod glitches back in the old days. But now, not only has Media Monkey addressed those issue, for me these are no longer issues at all since I have a totally free and open to use phone/media player now!!

Anyhow - I just remembered and installed Media Monkey this morning. Of course, it recognized my Nexus 4 (no need for other drivers or anything), and I simply renamed/organized some music, transferred it over to my phone and voila!

mediamonkeyshot

Monday, February 17, 2014

Getting Back in Shape

I know it's still winter. And, I had sort of planned to hibernate until spring. Cabin fever was a danger, though, and so I've been outdoors, running, several times in the past two weeks.

And - I don't loathe it! I thought I'd be miserable running on boring streets (since the paths are snowed under!), in brutally cold weather. But no! In fact, I've enjoyed the few runs I've attempted since I allowed the late November snow to put me on hiatus.

Ok, so I haven't done any 10 km runs, but I have been out for two 4 km runs, and this morning I did a nice 5 km run, despite the fact that it was minus 16!

So, I'm feeling pretty good, and plan to continue these shortish outdoor runs until spring, when I can then do 10 to 12 km, or more!!