Thursday, July 31, 2008

OH MY! Kase

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The Japanese word omakase means to trust or to protect. In sushi bars, it means "chef's choice;" you pay a pre-determined price and the chef chooses what you will eat.

While we were in Montreal, we had a chance to dine at Kaizen Sushi Bar. Since they had omakase, we decided to see how tasty their chef's choices would be. We were not disappointed.

Our meal began with a fantastic clam soup with buckwheat noodles. It was a slightly sweet, pure broth with a bit of a spicy kick. A great way to begin our meal, really.


Next, we were served some pan-seared giant scallops with edamame salad and some sort of teriyaki demi-glaze. I've never had such perfectly-prepared scallops; they were fresh, so the meat was tender and still retained some of its sweet flavour. As well, the chef prepared it so that it was just cooked, rather than slightly stringy and overcooked.


Our favourite dish came after the scallops. This was an unnamed maki roll, invented by the chef that very day for our meal. I have no idea what was inside the maki roll (possibly shrimp, chili sauce. and tuna), but it was topped with fresh octopus and a drizzle of some sauce that left us wanting more. The unnamed maki was particularly tender, which surprised us since we tend to find octopus a tad chewy.

Next came the raw oysters, which were accompanied by horseradish and this red "cocktail" sauce that turned out to be super spicy hot. Hubbs' lips were still burning by the time the next dish came around (don't worry - it was a good burn).


We were then treated to the "Tropical Storm" maki,
a lightly-breaded, fried maki that contained cucumber, avocado, crab stick, mango, salmon, and tuna. It was phenomenally good and not nearly as heavy as you might think. There was little rice in the maki roll, the bulk of it consisting of the other ingredients.
Then, our entree: a Kobe beef tenderloin served with fresh seasonal vegetables. I've never had Kobe beef before, and I know that it isn't exactly cheap meat. Our tenderloin was prepared rare, and was the tastiest beef I've ever had. It was tender, moist, and only slightly marbled, and it was so good that Hubbs ate all of his 8 oz. tenderloin, as well as a portion of mine! :)


Finally, our dessert was served. It was a fruit-topped ginger creme brulee, and probably the best and lightest brulee I've ever had. It had almost the consistency of a whipped cream, and was light and subtle, with a fine flavouring that did not overshadow the flavour of the "creme."


This was probably the best meal that Hubbs and I have ever had, or one of them at any rate. It was satisfying, perfectly portioned, and decadent. We felt very spoiled and privileged to be able to enjoy such a sensual dining experience.

And that, my friends, was probably the biggest highlight of our trip - our meal was the perfect end to a fun time of sightseeing in Montreal and NYC.




Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Arrogance

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I find it highly annoying and incredibly self-centered when some people continually cancel out of scheduled engagements, yet expect you to drop everything and be available to them if/when they feel it convenient for them to interact with you.

Sit DOWN, losers. You are not that important.


Insomnia's a B*tch

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Most of my friends and family would find it surprising that I am awake this early in the morning, and that I've been awake since 2:00 a.m. Up until 3 hours ago, I'm pretty sure that half of my closest friends and family were convinced I was narcoleptic; I could literally fall asleep filing my nails, or within a minute of laying my head on my pillow. My ability to sleep at will was probably one of my most enviable qualities, at least to the insomniacs and light sleepers in my social circles.

Therefore, this bout of insomnia must come as a surprise to them. I know it is to me. I blame it on my busy brain, which has made an extensive, exhaustive checklist of the many tasks I am to accomplish before 6:30 p.m. this evening. Why the rush? My upcoming vacation in Montreal/NYC demands that I have everything packed and ready (including this laptop) before I depart tomorrow morning, and we are staying over at my SuperstarJo sister and SpaceMax bro-in-law's place tonight. Therefore, everything must be packed prior to this evening, and of course my dear Hubbs works all day, so guess who is left to run all of the errands and do the packing? Sorry, there is no prize for the correct answer ;)

I will probably end up needing to take a nap in about 3 hours' time. You know, when business hours begin and normal people are getting ready to go about their day. This is incidentally also the time when I will be most able to accomplish my banking tasks for the day, as well as make my dental appointment, cram in a much-needed chiropractor appointment, and return phone calls and emails. How ironic.

I am going to try to squeeze in some shut eye and force my brain to rest, momentarily. I hate being up in the middle of the night. Now I know how vampires must feel.

PS - the new "Breaking Dawn" Twilight book (remember my obsession? still there...just not as vocal anymore) gets released on Aug. 2nd. I have my pre-ordered copy already. Do you?!? :P






Monday, July 14, 2008

High and Low

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I have literally searched every shoe store in town for these:
I finally found them (on sale!!) at Southgate Mall, at the R & R shop that I almost never shop at (since I'm not rugged and I don't camp, and they sort of cater to that purchasing demographic). These are the comfiest, semi-fashionable, orthopedic sandals I have ever slipped my feet into, and the velcro strap at the back allows me to walk on my entire foot without shifting the weight in a weird way (which I do whenever I wear flip-flops). This means no more shin splints, plus I can still wear these with most of my summer clothes!

I am very excited for my new shoes (see what I mean?) to be broken in when we go on vacation in a couple of days. :)


My New Toy Is Smarter Than I Am

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When, just a few weeks ago, our camera failed to power off after we hit the on/off button, we figured it was time to retire the 3.2 megapixel dinosaur. This camera was one of our wedding gifts a mere 3 years ago, and yet by today's standards the thing is practically obsolete.


Anyway, today I picked up a new camera. It's the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS. We bought the plain ol' silver one, which features 8.0 megapixels, 3x zoom, face detection, red-eye reduction, and a bunch of settings like "fireworks," "foliage," "kids and animals," "underwater," "colour highlight" and "snow." This isn't even the most advanced camera I could buy (more likely mid-range for compact digitals, as far as I know), and yet I think I might need to go back to school and get another degree before I can figure out how to work all of the camera's many functions; they are so beyond ridiculous that I can barely imagine myself ever using anything besides "automatic" and "night mode."

No wonder people are afraid of technology. What was invented (and was useful) to make life more simple now just complicates it even more. If I can just take some photos that I can look at right away, put on my computer and Facebook account, and print, I'm happy! My simple needs do not require half of these fancy features (though admittedly the "image stabilizer" function is particularly good for me to have), and I find them quite overwhelming. If, as a university-educated, double-degree holding individual, I find the camera a bit scary to work with, I can only imagine what my parents must feel when they have to play with their digital camera (which was purchased last year).

So, long story short, my new toy is smarter than I am. Maybe I'm just dumb for buying something so dang loaded.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mystified

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As you may be aware, I am going on vacation in 4 days. My somewhat neurotic, baffling pre-travel tendencies are beginning to show...and I know I'm not the only freak out there. You're like this too. So tell me why, in getting ready to go on a holiday that will inevitably involve shopping, I...

- obsessively clean my home before I leave?
- "save" my "good clothes" for my holiday?
- buy new clothes and footwear for the occasion?
- collect hotel toi
letries, only to leave them at home in favour of taking the "regular" products I use?

This is not an irregular occurrence, either. I do this every time I travel, and the length of the trip determines the length of my pre-departure preparations and cleaning regime. Since I am gone for nearly two weeks this time round, you'd better believe I've already started ironing Hubbs' "good clothes" and have also begun cleaning.

Evidently I've lost my mind, or something.

UPDATE: So I woke up this morning at 5:00 a.m. with this random urge to clean my oven, which I promptly did. Explain that! :S



Thursday, July 10, 2008

Narcissistic Tendencies

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They cause me to want to respond to memes, even though nobody cares, and nobody responds. ;)

Just in case you feel the urge to indulge me, this one comes via email from my Aunt Jan. Random facts about moi are as follows:

1. What time did you get up this morning?
15 minutes ago. 7:50. a.m.

2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds, of course.

3. What is your favorite t.v. show? Currently I am awaiting the new season of 24. I also like CSI:Vegas.

4. What do you usually have for breakfast? Sausages or steak, or else Turboz cereal.

5. What is your middle name? It means "demure pink clouds" or more accurately, "demure pink light casting off of clouds at dusk." In Chinese it is a lot more eloquent, and far shorter.

6. What food do you dislike? Alfalfa sprouts, cilantro, peppers, and most other vegetables.

7. What is your favorite song at the moment? "Business Time" by Flight of the Conchords

8. What kind of car do you drive? White Dodge Neon - soon to be a Black Honda Accord EX-L V6

9. Favorite sandwich? I have many - BBQ pork, club, turkey & cranberry sauce, chicken salad, etc.

10. What characteristic do you despise? Personality characteristics? So many - arrogance, self-centeredness, know-it-all attitudes, stupidity, incompetence, apathy, redneckery

11. Favorite item of clothing? Hoodies/bunny-hugs (but I almost never wear these b/c they are so casual), and yoga pants (which I almost always wear)

12. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Today it's Hawaii, Italy, Ireland, or Bora-Bora.

13. Favorite brand of clothing? lululemon, probably. My clothes come from a variety of makers and brands; as long as they look good, I guess I really don't have a preference.

14. Where would you retire to? Victoria, probably. Too early to think about that!

15. What was your most recent memorable birthday? Two years ago? Hubbs created this 12-month gift for me, where once per month I got to draw a gift out of the envelope. It was so creative and sweet, not to mention generous (some of those gifts included a Banff getaway, a trip to Vancouver, shopping, fancy dinners, a spa day...)

16. Favorite sport to watch? Guh. I hate watching sports, unless it's the Olympics (figure skating, diving, gymnastics, synchronized swimming)

17. Furthest place you are sending this? Well it's on Blogger so in theory the entire globe has access.

18. Person you expect to send it back first? No clue. Any one of you is welcome.

19. Missing? Being a size 4. That is the goal.

20. When is your birthday? In February.

21. Are you a morning person or a night person? Can I be neither? Or both? It just depends on the day.

22. What is your shoe size? Ranges from 7.5 - 9, depending on the shoe.

23. Pets? None. Hubbs is allergic.

24. Any exciting news you would like to share with us? I'm going to Montreal and NYC next week? Is that exciting enough? LOL.

25. What did you want to be when you were little? Pediatrician. Princess.

26. How are you today? Sore and sleepy, but almost on my way to my massage appointment. Yay!

27. What is your favorite flower? There are many I could point out and say are beautiful, but most of them are ones I don't know the names of, except for calla lilies, tiger lilies, roses, and irises.

28. What is a day on the calendar that you are looking forward to? Just like Aunt Jan, July 17th! That's when we fly out.

29. What is your full name? Mrs. L-o-q-u-a-c-i-o-u-s, wife of Hubbs.

30. What are you listening to right now? The water from the shower in Hubbs' bathroom.

31. What was the last thing you ate? A bowl of Turboz with skim milk.

32. Do you wish on stars? No.

33. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Others would say red. I'd say pink.

34. How is the weather right now? Somewhat clear skies, not too bright. Looks like it will be a lovely day with a possibility of scattered rain showers.

35. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Don't remember. Probably the dentist's receptionist.

***This meme is missing #36. I have no idea what the question was. ***

37. Favorite restaurant? Hardware Grill in E-town, Lumiere in Vancouver (so far, anyway).

38. Hair color? Jet black, and all natural, baby!

39. What was your favorite toy as a child? My blankie (it was blue), and probably my sword (neon orange).

40. Summer or winter? Fall.

41. Chocolate or vanilla? Depends on what. Mostly vanilla, but I like actual chocolate much more than I should.

42. Coffee or tea? Both, in abundant quantities.

43. Do you want your friends to email you back? Your choice, my lovelies!

44. When was the last time you cried? Last night, while watching P.S. I Love You

45. What is under your bed? Hubbs' guitar, I think.

46. What did you do last night? Had a romantic dinner w/Hubbs, watched a movie, and snuggled.

47. What are you afraid of? Rodents. The death of others. Balding.

48. Salty or sweet? Both!

49. How many keys on your key ring? 4

50. How many years at your current job? I'm unemployed at the moment...and have had many years of experience in this department ;)

51. Favorite day of the week? Saturdays

52. How many towns have you lived in? 4 so far.

53. Do you make friends easily? If I want to. I am a bit picky these days.

54. How many people will you send this to? Many?

55. How many will respond? No clue.

56. Do you like finding out all this stuff about your friends? If I have time to read them, they can be quite enlightening. Sometimes they are more fun to fill out than to read about, though!




Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Three

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It was on this day three years ago that I declared my lifelong commitment to Hubbs in the presence of family and friends, in the sight of God. It was one of the happiest days of my life, if not the most joyful. Though many talk about the difficulties of negotiating a shared life in the beginning stages of matrimony, I can't say that I have had the displeasure of having that experience. With Hubbs, my days have only gotten better, and my years have been successively more wonderful.

Sometimes, I can't quite remember what life was like before Hubbs was in it. He is so key to my life.

To commemorate our third wedding anniversary, we had gone out for a romantic seafood dinner at Blue Water Cafe in Vancouver last weekend. However, I could hardly allow this day to pass without another celebration, s
ince today is the actual date of the anniversary. I didn't quite know what to do, given my desire to stay home and also to keep costs low. In the end, this was my gift to Hubbs:

- romantic candles to greet him when he got home
- an appetizer of prosciutto-wrapped scallops with lemon pesto mayonnaise
- a main entree of baked lobster tails with citrus butter, and a side of pesto gnocchi
- a dessert of chocolate fondue (the Toblerone kind...yum!) with pound cake, strawberries, and apples

His gift to me was his patience in watching P.S. - I Love You with me. No, he did not cry (my Hubbs is no sissy!), and in fact he managed to find several things to criticize about the film (you can ask him about that if you want spoilers). As his gift, however, he held his tongue for the most part, until the end of the movie, and he cuddled with me throughout the entire flick - no laptop, Nintendo DS, PSP, or other electronic distractions whatsoever. It was very sweet of him to hold me while I sobbed, and he even let me leave puddles of tears all over his clothes.

Anyway, we spent part of the evening reflecting on how blessed we have been to have each other. Sometimes I think that I have no excuse to ever feel miserable or unhappy, given how fortunate I am to have someone who loves me as generously and unconditionally as Hubbs does. I love the idea that I will be able to grow old with him, and that I can celebrate many more days like this one, in years to come.

I am truly one lucky woman.



Monday, July 07, 2008

Since School Ended....

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...I have had the best time ever. :)

I saw Wall-E on opening night. It was probably my favourite animated movie OF ALL TIME. It was funny, sweet, poignant, and it made a very loud-but-not-judgmental social statement. There were moments of humour, suspense, and romance. The animation was beyond brilliant, and the movie (though it was over an hour and a half in length) seemed to fly by way too quickly. I was engrossed in the story, and left the theatre feeling very satisfied and also quite thoughtful. Hubbs loved it too; we'll both be buying the DVD when it comes out. :)

Then there were the fire-pit nights and dinners with friends and mornings sleeping in. There has
been the reading, the bubble baths, and the freedom of not having to think about my next set of lesson plans or marking a stack of student work.

And then there was George. Even at age 45, with a slight ponch and a less chiseled face than when his Older album came out, the man was a legend on the stage. His voice made me melt, his energy was contagious and made me want to dance, and he invested 110% into his performance, making it the best concert I've ever attended. At one point, I'm pretty sure there was not one arse on a seat during the second set; everyone was grooving and singing along, which I am told is an unusual sight for GM Place (and an especially unusual sight given that the average age of concert-goers was probably 35-40).

Next on the agenda: Montreal and New York City, two places I've wanted to go to, but have not yet had the opportunity to visit, until now. Best of all, I am traveling with Hubbs, and also with a seasoned Quebecois bro-in-law, which means I will get to experience the best that Montreal has to offer, from an insider's perspective.

And towards the end of the summer, I believe I will be getting that new car that I've been drooling over for the past 12 months. The Honda Accord EX-L V6 is as good as mine, thanks to my generous Hubbs. :)

The fall will bring great new adventures, especially for my sis Vanilla C and her soon-to-be-hubby Benjee. I can't wait to walk down the aisle with Hubbs again, as Matron of Honour and Best Man this time. I will even get to give a toast, though I'm not yet sure how I am going to make this a poignant, short, and entertaining speech for her crowd of 300. I am leaning more towards long and boring, with a few lame jokes squeezed in, but hopefully with time the speech will become well-polished ;)

Most people hope to have a great summer, but I am pretty sure that every year for the past few years, my summers have successively been the "best ever," yet. This year will be no exception. This is going to be one kick-ass summer. I can hardly wait!



Thursday, July 03, 2008

This Guy PWNed That Chick Who Kissed A Girl!

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I'm not usually one to link YouTube vids on here, but this is just great. :) So you know, there's this song that is currently on the Top 20 somewhere about some girl who kissed some other girl for experimentation purposes. To me, it is hugely offensive to make light of the topic of homosexuality by singing about it as though it were some sort of juvenile game for the bi-curious or bored hetero girls; the lyrics, the video, the entire thing just rubs me the wrong way. I'm sure many GLBT do not feel as offended by the song as I do, but then again, maybe some of them do.

Anyway, along comes this Canadian teenager who posts a negative YouTube review about the video and the song. Whether one agrees or not, the kid is entitled to his opinion, right? Apparently Katy Perry didn't think so, and neither did her legions of fanatical followers. She sic'ed them on him and the next thing you know, the guy was getting all sorts of different "hate comments" on his account.

He ended up having to respond to the comments in a separate YouTube video. The kid is pretty amusing, whether you agree with him or not. I like the way he handled the criticism (much better than Katy Perry did, BTW) and felt he totally owned her (and her crazy fans) in this:



If you're wondering what the original review said, click here to see it.




Thursday Meme - Twos & Threes

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My dear friend Viener tagged me, so here goes:

Two names you go by
1. Mrs. Loquacious
2. TP (It's short for one of Hubbs' nicknames for me)

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. Clothes (including underwear)
2. Glasses

Two longest car rides:
1.
Edmonton to Grande Prairie
2. Driving to work when I'm late

Two of your favourite things to do:
1. Cuddle with Hubbs
2. Go shopping somewhere I've never shopped before

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. A new car
2. A bazillion dollars

Three animals you have or have had:
1. Chicks
2. Goldfish
3. Mice in our garage

Three people who will answer this:
1. One of you readers
2. Two of you readers
3. Three of you readers

Three things you ate today:
1. Salmon
2. PB and Chocolate Chip Banana Muffin (see post below)
3. All Bran cereal

Two people you last talked to:
1. Hubbs
2. Some random telemarketer person (but I guess it doesn't count since I hung up on them before they got to really speak).

Two things you're doing tomorrow
1. Flying to Vancouver
2. Singing with George Michael

Two favorite holidays:
1. Christmas
2. Summer

Two favourite beverages:
1. Sparkling sugar-free Tangerine Lime water
2. Lava flows

Two favourite colours
1. Blue
2. Burgundy (I swear it changes every day)

Two Favourite Seasons
1. Fall
2. Christmas

Two favourite foods
1. My dad's shrimp dumplings (Har-gow)
2. My dad's BBQ pork (Char-Siu)

Everything Tastes Better with PB and Chocolate Chips

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Even low-fat banana muffins made from a mix. I know this well, because I just whipped up a batch of muffins, and decided to add a few dark chocolate chips and Reese's PB chips. Those muffins are beyond amazing (and yes of course I had to sample one before I dared to serve any to Hubbs!).

I did the same with my whole-wheat pancakes last Sunday. Same delicious result. I'm still not certain what makes the PB-choco chip combination so darn potent and irresistable; I suspect that these two ingredients must combine to form cocaine or heroin or some other equally-addictive drug. I am hooked!

Now to the gym to burn off those calories...





Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Anti-Authority

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Catherine Jane is going to kill me for saying this, but I am totally not into personal trainers or instructor-led exercise classes/boot camps to inspire or increase my physical fitness.

Don't get me wrong. I think a lot of people get life-altering benefits from both personal training services and workout classes, and I recognize the importance of these for some people. I just happen not to be one of those people.

I've tried many fitness classes in the past - all women classes, co-ed classes, beginner classes, small classes, large classes, yoga/step/aerobics classes - but for some reason I've always come away from these dissatisfied and a little bit bored. Though I've never had a personal trainer, I've consulted with a few in the gyms that I've been a member of, and on occasion I've even received a complimentary "session" with some of these folks. I have to admit that on more than one of those occasions, I've become quite annoyed with my "trainers" in a matter of minutes.

I believe I've found the root of the problem for me - external and internal motivation cannot co-exist in my world of fitness. Either I have to succumb to extrinsic sources to get me pumped and psyched and pushed to my limits physically, or else I have to tap into intrinsic motivators to do the same. I cannot have both operating on me simultaneously, since one will inevitably cave to the other, and in my case, it is always the intrinsic that wins out.

Usually, I am such a driven and determined (some might call it stubborn) individual that there is no way to turn off the internal drives that inspire my actions; if I am at the gym to get into shape, and I've made up my mind that I am going to go hard, then there is little benefit to having someone else there to cheer me on or give me pointers. I will do it and do it hard just because I've set my mind to it. The presence of a trainer or an instructor would simply be an annoyance and an obstacle to the efficiency of my intense workout.

If, however, I attempt to allow the external influences of a trainer or instructor to spur me into action, I will inevitably give up and surrender all intrinsic motivation to get into shape. I will then do nothing, or as close to nothing as I can possibly get away with, and I will resent the individual assisting me, and conclude the entire experience to be a boring waste of time and money. Call it the anti-authoritarian in me, but I have a hard time getting motivated by someone outside of myself, and an equally hard time respecting someone for giving me information that I already know. I may not have a diploma in Personal Training or a degree in Physiology / Phys. Ed., but I might as well be given an honorary certificate for having done as much reading as I have on diets, exercises, muscle formation and development, supplementation, and proper form.

I sometimes wish I could be more respectful, more docile, more submissive to the professionals in fitness around me. I know Tejanamama gets a lot of positive results from her workouts with her trainer, and I know for a fact that Catherine Jane is one very educated, effective, and ripped personal fitness consultant/trainer. However, my constitution just won't allow it. I've never seen any results from the times I've joined classes or worked with others to get in shape, and yet on my own I managed to (at one point..though you wouldn't know it now) drop over 40 pounds from my frame while maintaining some semblance of muscle mass.

Luckily, a fire has recently been lit inside me, and now I am feeling that intrinsic, burning desire to return to my skinny proportions. I'm pretty determined to make it stick this time around, so if I am able to maintain that drive from within, I have no doubt that I will be seeing results before the fall. Of course, this means I may need to quit that stinkin' boot camp class of mine... ;)




Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours - Win Win

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Happy Canada Day! What a perfect day to sell you (if you're a developer) on something!

Today marked the "official" launch of the Alt.NET Canada conference - the Canadian developer conference of the year, IMHO. It's a place where 100 software developers with a heart for improving their industry in their local community and a desire for ongoing professional development get together to learn from one another. It's free. It happens over a weekend. It happens in Calgary. It is exclusive (first come, first serve, baby).

I'm not a developer. I'm not even tech-y in any way shape or form (unless you count the ability to cut and paste HTML to change the layout of this blog). So why am I promoting this event?

Three reasons:
1) It's free. Unlike those *other* dev conferences that happen all over N. America, you don't have to pay $3000 plus the cost of flight and hotel just to warm a seat. You get to participate actively in discussions rather than watch some canned presentation at the front of the room (one that you've probably seen before online somewhere), and though you still have to pay for flight and hotel, at least you get in the doors pro bono.

2) It aligns philosophically with my views on teaching and learning. Education should not cost money, and it should be a process that is reciprocal; everyone has something to bring to the proverbial table, and therefore everyone should be given the opportunity to share and learn from those around them. There is no such thing as a "speaker" at Alt.NET, which in many ways reflects the student-directed/centered pedagogy that I am quite fond of.

3) It happens in Calgary. This means that I get to go to Calgary. I have many dear friends who live in Calgary. I would really like to visit them, and perhaps go shopping at a big mall with them. If Alt.NET is a success this year, then it will happen again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. This will guarantee me a Calgary visit at least once a year for a good few years.

So if you're a developer and you think Alt.NET is for you, go sign up! They have an attendance limitation of 100 people (don't ask me why, I have no idea).