Sunday, December 30, 2007

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow...


Parting with books, that is. In a bid to "de-clutter" our lives (thanks to Peter Walsh's It's All Too Much), Hubbs has been on a giveaway spree. His first project? Our bookshelves. He was smart enough not to filter through my books, but was ruthless in gutting through his own collection of development books, cartoon anthologies, fiction novels, and self-help/leadership guides. His rationale? If he hasn't touched it in 6 months or will no longer need it for reference or re-reading, it is apparently worth more to him to have space on his bookshelf than to keep those books around.

As he was going through his purging process, every fibre of my packrat being fought the urge to grab his discarded books and hide them elsewhere in our home, out of his line of sight. It pained me to watch him throw out books that we paid significant amounts to buy not more than 6 months ago. It killed me to see these pristine hardbacks and paperbacks, with nary a spinal crease in sight, getting tossed like old socks onto a garbage heap in the middle of our living room. I pleaded with him, begged him, and tried to convince him to hold on to a few of these precious texts, but he was coldly unyielding in his very focused attempt to simplify our living space.

In the end, I was only able to persuade him to do the following:
- hold on to some of the newer dev books in his discard pile, to see if any of his dev friends might want to take some of them off his hands
- hold on to some of his comic anthologies, to see if any of his comic-book-loving geek friends might want to take some of them off his hands
- give away all the new, nearly-flawless books to the public library instead of dumping them in the "recycle room" in our building
- let me hold on to "A Million Little Pieces" and a Dilbert novel that I have every intention of reading in the next 12 months.

His purge resulted in the freeing up of 3 entire rows of one Billy bookshelf in our office, when previously his collection was so full that he was double-stacking two of his rows. While this is a much-needed improvement in our living conditions, the cost to my heart has been great.

His next project is our "catch-all" kitchen drawer, and after that I think it is going to be our wardrobe and closets, followed by our kitchen cupboards. I may not survive the purge to my beloved wardrobe (and my stockpile of "stuff" for those "just-in-case" emergencies) so if I do not live to see a fully decluttered apartment, do know that I have appreciated your loyal readership over the years ;)

It sucks being married to a non-packrat. It makes it twice as hard for me to gratify my natural instinct to save.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Catching Up with the 21st Century...Again

As I have said before, I am woefully behind technologically for a woman married to a software developer whose daily routine includes reading up on new technologies. In fact, I am so behind that prior to yesterday, I had no idea that there were cordless phones operating on a frequency better than 5.8 GHz. I'm sure Hubbs knew, but he never bothered to catch me up on this advancement in modern technology.

Anyway, DECT 6.0 is apparently the new-and-improved frequency for cordless phones. It is supposed to be almost completely immune to household interference from wireless modems, cell phones, the Wii, the DS, and other such invisible transmissions. It also offers a level of encryption to help enhance security during conversations, and its voice transmission quality is superior to that of the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz phones, even from a greater distance away from the base. Best of all, its battery life is said to outperform its predecessors'. This is particularly appealing to me since I have had a tendency of forgetting to put the handset back on the receiver following a lengthy phone conversation, which has resulted in some very inconvenient situations involving important calls and dead handsets. 0:)

Anyway, for Christmas I had received some cashola, some of which I chose to allocate to the purchase of a new set of phones. This prompted me to do a bit of research online, and to try to bone up on my cordless phone technology knowledge. After a bit of digging, I found myself my Christmas present:You like? It has a colourful display and I love that it is small and sleek. We're still charging our handsets right now but so far, the call display has been quite an improvement on our previous 5.8GHz GE phone, and our new ring (a musical melody from some classical piece that involves chirping birds) is fantastic. :)

I can't wait to get my first phone call! Simple pleasures for simple minds, non? We've already missed a call, which I was able to use the navigation menu on the phone to find out about. I am just thrilled to have this new toy to play with for the next day or so.

If you are already immersed in the DECT 6.0 world, drop me a comment to let me know what you think, okay? I have read great things about these phones, particularly the Panasonic ones, and I would love to hear more anecdotal experiences to help me validate my purchase ;) (Even with Christmas money, I have buyer's guilt/remorse. It is part of the stingy that runs in my blood.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I trust that you had a wonderful holiday filled with laughter, love, good food and good cheer! May the true reason for this Christmas season, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, give you reason to hope and be joyful, and may your 2008 be filled with good tidings and great surprises!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tick Tock Went the Clock


...and I am still awake. Fully awake.

I made the mistake tonight of asking Hubbs to give me a cuddle. In bed. The mistake is not in the request itself; the mistake lies in combining said request with this particular location. Add to the mix the fatigue my poor hubby has been feeling, and you get two people who end up falling asleep at 7:00 p.m.

He has been sound asleep ever since. Not me. My brain woke me up at 10:30 and it has been on full alert since that time. It is now 1:23 a.m. I am still wide awake.

I wonder why I do this to myself? Why do I take naps that wreak havoc on my routine sleep schedule? You would think that by now, I would have learned to fight the urge to nap, and just hang on until bedtime. Unfortunately, I am a slow learner in this department, and thus I must now endure the consequences of my poor decision-making.

I feel silly. And also not entirely motivated so that I could actually get some work done. Stupid stupid me.

Guess I'll be playing Spider Solitaire until the fatigue sets in again...if it does at all.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Why My In-Laws Are The Best aka Rubbing It In


Did I happen to mention that I have the best in-laws ever? =) While others gripe about spending time with their "out-laws," I invite mine to come along on getaway holidays to Vancouver. While others dread coordinating Christmas visits between their parents and their in-laws, my parents and in-laws look forward to sharing Christmas meal(s) together. I am so blessed. I often hear nightmarish stories about how people have difficulty getting along with their in-laws, or how the two sets of parents rub each other the wrong way. Neither is the case with me. I love my in-laws and very much enjoy the nights we spend sleeping over at their place during the Christmas season; we have very interesting conversations with one another and the general experience of spending time together is wonderful. My parents love my in-laws (and remind me regularly to treat them well), and the respect is reciprocated by Hubbs' parents, who have nothing but excellent things to say about my Mom and Dad. Overall, I have a pretty ideal set-up going on.

And the icing on the cake? My in-laws are very thoughtful, exceedingly generous, and so much fun! The other day, while Hubbs and I were at dinner with his friend, my in-laws dropped by at the restaurant to present us with a homemade advent "calendar." Unlike the cheap chocolate-filled store variety of advent calendar, this advent calendar box is custom decorated by my father-in-law, and is wrapped and tied together intricately with ribbons and bells and Christmas stickers. Behind each carefully cut and sealed door are many small, fabulous treasures that we look forward to opening. We haven't peeked behind any of the doors (we're being good just like Santa directed), and have only opened two in keeping with instructions. Behind one were two McDonalds gift cards. Behind the other? His and hers chapsticks!! I wonder what else I'll be getting from behind the 10 remaining doors?

The point isn't in the value of the gift, but the reflection it offers of its givers. What a completely awesome, thougthful set of parents-in-law! I am the luckiest girl in the world. :)

Thanks Mom E. & Dad E. for this very cool gift! It will be among my favourite gifts this year, no doubt about it!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Fighting the Cheap

Maybe it's because we grew up lower middle-class. Maybe it's because I was forced to learn the value of the dollar the old-fashioned way (my first job at 14 was working at the library for the meager wage of $4.23/hour). Maybe it's because my parents passed on the genetic condition of packratitis to me and the hoarding is coded into my DNA. Whatever the reason, I find myself at a crossroads every month.

I can't bear to throw away my disposable contact lenses.

The rational voice nattering in my brain knows better; it argues that lenses worn beyond its lifespan will detrimentally affect the health of my corneas. It reasons that professionals know what they are doing when they set these expiration dates, and I would do well to listen to their educated advice. It even justifies that since I have plenty of replacement lenses housed in my bathroom drawer, I do not have to keep these lenses beyond their monthly limit.

However, my cheap Chinese ass is not so easily persuaded. The frugal part of me rationalizes that since I only wear my lenses 3 days a week (as opposed to all 7), it makes mathematical sense that I can therefore extend the lifetime of the lenses to 2 months (with a few days to spare, no less!). I also consider the fact that, according to my naked (blind) eye, there are no visible traces of debris or tearing on my perfectly-good lenses, nor are my eyes crusting over with infection or bloodshot from lack of oxygen. Does that not suggest that these lenses are still good? My conspiracy theories kick into full gear to support my thrifty ways; maybe the manufacturers are in cahoots with the
optometrists and the dispensaries, and the whole "dispose after one month" line that they feed me is simply a money-making gimmick to lure unsuspecting contact wearers to purchase lenses more frequently than they actually need to!

And so the debate rages on in my brain as I take my perfectly-functional, past-due lenses out of my eyes. Do I let these expensive little contacts shrivel up in the dry heat of an Albertan winter? Or do I let them soak in the bliss of some sterile Opti-Free Solution, spared of their fate for one more day?

You would be surprised at how torn I become whenever this decision has to be made.

And it did tonight. My current contacts are now nearly 2 months old (worn only 2-3 times/week - don't judge), and yet I struggled with the decision to throw those things in the garbage after taking them out of my non-irritated eyes. You would be proud of me - I did finally throw them out, after much internal warfare. But don't think I was happy about it. It hurt every fiber of my cheap-wad being to do this, and even now I wonder if I can't fish those things out of the garbage and re-soak them to vitality once more.

I guess in the end, I have to acknowledge the reality that I'll be fighting the cheap for the rest of my life. This is just the cross I must bear.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Vancouver and Back Again - The Meltdown After-Story

Following my mini-meltdown, I did fly out and join my Hubbs in the glorious city of Vancouver. Though I barely saw him during that first night of my arrival (he had one last meeting that night), the next day was beautiful and he and I got to spend some time together. The sky was clear, the air was crisp, and it was totally the Vancouver that I love. As we sipped night-caps in the lounge that evening, we were even able to spend a few moments with his hero, JP, and some other very nice developer dudes from all around the world.

Highlights of our trip:

* Hubbs and his dad enjoying a brisk walk at Stanley Park
* Mom E. and I shopping Robson
* Our visit to Granville Island market
* Breakfast @ Paul's Omelettry with my in-laws, then again with Kyle Baley
* Dinner at C (seared foie gras! YUM)
* Hubbs making up for lost time by doing on his wife :)

However, this trip was plagued with unpleasantries, unlike my previous trips to Van. The lowlights of the trip:

* slushy snow for 2 full days of my trip in Van
* not getting to drive a mid-sized vehicle (practice for our new Accord one day)
* not getting to visit the whirlpool/hot tub at the Wall Centre hotel
* the delayed flights leaving Van (due to the snow)
* sitting on the tarmac for an hour waiting to be de-iced
* the cold temperatures we returned to following our trip

And last but worst of all:
* coming home to an apartment where all the elevators are not working

Yes, it is true. As we unpacked our bags from the car and headed towards the elevator, we were met by some random Samaritan from the building who told us that, because of the idiocy of one of the residents on the 15th floor (not us!), the garbage chute had been left open and a pipe froze as a result. This led to flooding in the elevators, which meant they became inoperable. He broke us the bad news that we would have to haul our heavy suitcases and carry-on bags up every flight of stairs from the 3rd floor parkade to our 15th floor home. He, being the kindly Samaritan, offered to take one of the bags up for us from the parkade to the 10th floor. We were met there by the security guard, who was kind enough to lug that bag up the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Hubbs had to haul up the gigantic suitcase carrying all of his stuff from the week, and I had to carry both carry-on bags plus our dinner, wearing 2" boots, up these cursed steps. Unreal.

And so, here we are, the morning after one of the more disastrous weekend trips I've ever taken, and still the elevators do not work and I have school stuff left to be hauled up from the car.

I am starting to think that we should consider moving somewhere warm and snow-free, like Austin, TX.