Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thirty - Twosday Meme

Well, I finally got a real meme, and not the kind I have to look for online to blog about. Thanks Rain! :)

32 Random Questions for your reading pleasure:

1. What is your occupation right now?

2. What colour are your socks right now?

3. What are you listening to right now?
The hum of the fan, the sound of the washer and dryer running full loads, and the voice of Hubbs on the phone in another room

4. What was the last thing that you ate?
Lasagna - the frozen entree variety.

5. Can you drive a stick shift?
Can you fly? Same answer ;)

6. Last person you spoke to on the phone?
The receptionist at the dentist's office.

7. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
This is a dishonest question. Obviously it was sent by a friend, and if it wasn't, I'd still feel obliged to say that I like him/her even if I secretly didn't. In this case, yes, of course I like her! But the question sucks.

8. How old are you today?
Old enough to know better than to answer this question.

9. What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
I do not enjoy watching sports on TV unless it's Olympic coverage, in which case I like all of the sports.

10. What is your favourite drink?
A Lava Flow (a strawberry colada with free-poured amounts of liquor)

11. Have you ever dyed your hair?

12. Favourite food?
My dad's cooking, probably.

13. What is the last movie you watched?
Up! But after tonight, it will be Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

14. Favourite day of the year?
Christmas, followed closely by my birthday, Hubbs & my anniversary, Easter Sunday, New Year's Day, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, Canada Day, Hallowe'en, and several others. These are not listed in any particular order, BTW. They're all tied for second place ;)

15. How do you vent anger?
I cry. Hubbs would say that I yell. I think I just naturally talk loud, though, so to me, it's not yelling.

16.What was your favourite toy as a child?
Hard to say. We really loved our three kid chairs and the blanket and pillows in the family room. Those few toys gave us endless hours of entertainment.

17. What is your favourite season?

18. Cherries or Blueberries?
Rainier cherries

19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back?
No, but feel free to blog it.

20. Who is the most likely to respond?
Nobody ;)

21. Who is least likely to respond?
Anyone who reads this blog. You guys aren't meme-lovers, I gather ;)

22. Living arrangements?
Debt-free renters in a 2-bedroom, 1.5 bath apartment in Coal Harbour

23. When was the last time you cried?
Yesterday. Don't ask. ;) (and no, it doesn't concern my Hubbs at all).

24. What is on the floor of your closet?
Which one? Dresser, giveaway clothes, laundry hamper, and another clothing shelf.

25. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to?
I'm not sending it to anyone, but my most longtime friend who I know to read this blog is probably Angela :) Oh, and Lindi (presuming she's reading the blog today but I doubt it since she just had her baby girl - Congratulations Lindi!! Welcome to life, Annika!).

26. What did you do last night?
Grocery shopping, and spent the night with Hubbs.

27. What are you most afraid of****?
Bug infestations, weird cluster rashes (and weird clusters in general), and clowns

28. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburger?
My special bison burgers are spicy *and* cheesy. :)

29. Favourite dog breed?
Probably Shih-tzus, chow-chows, and the many varieties of cute teapot terriers

30. Favourite day of the week?
Fridays or Saturdays. It's the anticipation of having an entire weekend off that thrills me, I think.

31. How many countries have you lived in?
Only 2.

32. Diamonds or pearls?
Bring on the bling. I like 'em clear and shiny and colourless and big!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Excessive Optimism Lived Out


In my spare time, besides shopping and reading and blogging and all that other stuff that I like to do, I've added another hobby (much to Hubbs' dismay): contest-entries.

It started out innocently enough; my bro-in-law Space Max showed me a website where you could play a virtual VLT to try and win prizes. I played it for a long while but didn't win anything, but I started to get greedy and thought maybe if I entered in a lot of different contests and giveaways, that eventually I might win something. Since that day, I've become a bit of a contest junkie.

Have I won anything yet? No, but I did get a free pack of gum, travel-size bottles of Head & Shoulders shampoo and conditioner, and travel-sized Herbal Essence shampoo and conditioner. I also received 3 free pregnancy pee tests that I'll be saving for a while (hopefully they don't expire), and I'm anticipating getting a few more freebies in the next couple of weeks. I don't even remember what I've signed up for anymore, so when a package arrives in the mail, it's like Christmas. I get incredibly excited. :)

Anyway, I thought I'd give you some insight into my dirty little hobby. It's innocuous enough; nobody gets hurt, and I'm careful not to sign up for a bazillion mail-out newsletters. Maybe one day I will win something, but in the meantime, it's fun to build my optimism every time I sign up for another contest!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two Memes on Tuesday

The first is a question: "Name 5 songs that are like fingernails on the chalkboard for you." Believe it or not, this is not an easy question for me to answer, since I am not an audiophile and I barely pay attention to music. However, there are a few songs that grate my nerves:

1. I Kissed a Girl - Katy Perry
2. Don't Cha (Wish Your Girlfriend) - Pussycat Dolls
3. Red Red Wine - UB40
4. Anything sung by a Cyrus
5. Your Body is a Wonderland & Waiting on the World to Change - John Mayer

I think there are actually many more, but those are the first 5 that came to mind.

I suppose the opposite question should be asked. Name 5 songs that you can never grow tired of listening to. That's harder still, since I don't have tons of favourites. Hubbs could rattle off a list in less than a minute, but he's a die-hard music fan. Hrm...

1. Any/all praise and worship (yes, that's a genre, not a song, but I can't narrow down)
2. Any/all Christmas songs
3. One Day in Your Life - Anastacia
4. Everybody Hurts - R.E.M.
5. Miss Saigon soundtrack

I know, random strange list, right? ;)

Here's the other meme, which is a one-word meme. I love these since they force me to be succinct, which I'm customarily not.

Where is your mobile phone?
- Purse

Your significant other?
- Hubbs!

Your hair?
- Greasy ;)

Your mother?
- Sweet

Your father?
- Goofy

Your favourite thing?
- Everything!

Your dream last night?
- None

Your favourite drink?
- Nestea

Your dream/goal?
- Travel

What room are you in?
- Dining

Your hobby?
- Spending

Your fear?
- Falling

Where do you want to be in 6 years?
- Vancouver

Where were you last night?
- Bed

Something that you aren't?
- Pregnant

- Cupcakes

Wish list item?
- Sectional

Last thing you did?
- Sang

What are you wearing?
- Contacts

- Samsung

Your pets?
- None.

- Loyal

Your life?
- Busy

Your mood?
- Joyful

Missing someone?
- No.

- Water

- Gross.

Your car?
- Accord

Something you're not wearing?
- Socks

Your favourite store?
- Shoppers

Your favourite colour?
- Blue

When is the last time you cried?
- Up!

Where do you go to over and over?
- Bathroom

Five people who email me regularly?
- Hubbs, Facebook, Connie, Jo, stores

My favourite place to eat?
- Out

Favourite place I'd like to be at right now?
- Spa

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Can Handle the Truth!!!!


This post is inspired by L's Favourite Things post, on her Baby B blog. I had left a comment there that started to run long, so I thought I'd just make it into a post of its own over here.

First of all, I'm not pregnant, and I have never been, at least not up until this point in my life. However, most of my friends have been pregnant already, and are now mommas. This is great on many levels; hand-me-downs, experience from which I can draw, recommendations for the best baby gear, books I can borrow, common ground and little friendlings for my babies to play with one day, and on and on. You get the picture.

That is not to say that it's all great, even though it should be. In fact, it's down-right not great in one particular way, and that is the reality that nearly all of these girlfriends continue to keep quiet when it comes to the things that I *really* need to know about being pregnant and having a baby. They gush about the miracle of life, how "worth it" everything was to have their baby, and how great it is to be a mom, but almost nobody ever elaborates on the "everything" that was worth their sacrifice. Sure, I know about the pain of labour, and swollen ankles, and sore backs, but the truth is that there are lots of other even more embarrassing and horrific changes that happen to the body when one is pregnant, and probably just as many disgusting things that happen post-pregnancy that someone like me should really be mentally prepared for. It is in these details, however, that most of my friends have kept silent, much to my dismay and disadvantage.

Now, that's not to say that all of my friends have been completely quiet. Tejanamama - I'm talking 'bout you here - has been very forth-coming with details, although I have the feeling she's still holding out a little, probably to keep me from avoiding motherhood altogether ;) A few others have mentioned things like the laugh-and-pee syndrome that develops once your belly grows, and one friend did tell me a very scary post-babies story about loose flapping lips ... and I'm not talking about the set on one's face. So yes, I've heard a bit about the oogly side of motherhood, but even then, I'm pretty sure it's not the whole story.

So what gives, ladies? Is it the embarrassment of admitting to having had "accidents" that keeps you from speaking up? Is it something that is too traumatic to be spoken of? Is it socially un-PC to speak ill of the pregnancy or birth process? Or does the brain just suddenly forget about all of those really gross things that happen the moment eyes are laid on baby? I have no idea what social rules of propriety are keeping these women from voicing their not-so-nice experiences, but I for one would like to know. I can handle the truth!!! Really, I can. And honestly, knowing makes it easier for me to prepare myself mentally for whatever horrors lay ahead.

This is why I am asking, imploring, that you open up to me about the not-so-glamourous parts of having a baby. Don't hold back, either; I want to hear the grossest, nastiest stories you've got. I need to make sure I know what I'm getting into, and I already know about the sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice that accompanies parenthood. The details I want are the ones that all of your books don't even mention, the things that caught you by unpleasant surprise, and the things that made you go red. I can read the books I borrow from you for the other details; give me the real deal.

My future self thanks you in advance ;)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Change is the Only Constant (Aside from God)


As you can see, the blog layout has changed again. This was not really my choice. I was going to go and clean the bathroom.

However, much to my dismay, upon publishing the last post I discovered that the template I was using, the one that was free from a blogger template site, contained a PhotoBucket image that was apparently exceeding its bandwidth. I have no idea what that means in real people terms, but to me it meant that my beautiful layout became this ugly wallpaper of PhotoBucket warnings. In my panicked state (thinking maybe it was a clipart image I had liberally "borrowed,") I went wild deleting cutesy clipart images from my last few posts.

It didn't work.

Finally, I looked at the code for the template, and lo and behold, I saw the tell-tale PhotoBucket text in the HTML. I had to quickly do a template swap and replace, just so that I could get rid of the oogly warnings all over my beloved blog.

So, you like? I think that this is a lovely template; hopefully it has lots of bandwidth or whatever it needs to stay intact. I particularly am enamoured with the cityscape scene of this template, and since I live in a big urban city now, I guess it's appropos.

Point is, the change was not my choice, but in the end it probably worked out for good. My toilet, however, is still dirty. Boo-ray for that.

On the upside, though - I can say that I did accomplish something today ;)

A Little Muse Here, A Little Muse There


Hubbs is away. To mark this very sad occasion (it's sad at my place every 3 weeks when he flies out for work), I did nothing. Literally, nothing. I might end up doing some cleaning so that I'm not a completely useless lump of space-waste, but so far my only accomplishments have been 1 load of laundry, and this blog post. ;)

During my day of nothingness, a few random and unrelated thoughts and observations came to mind. In keeping with my oh-so-generous spirit, I thought I'd share. :)

Stinky Garbage Tip
When you have a smelly bag of half-full garbage, a way to reduce/eliminate odors is to put some coffee grinds in the garbage. For some reason, it just kills the other bad stench and replaces it with coffee smell (which I prefer infinitely over the smell of rank old garbage). Of course, this is a temporary measure; I would not advise using this as a long-term alternative to taking out the garbage, especially if there are decomposing items in your bin.

Flight Fussy
Hubbs & I have become exclusivists when it comes to domestic air travel. We refuse to fly with Air Canada anymore, so we now only go where Westjet goes, or else where Westjet will connect to go. It used to be that we'd book Westjet more often than AC because one was always more affordable than the other, but ever since we moved to Van and have had to do the commute back to E-town almost bi-weekly, we have noted that the quality of air service and overall travel experience between the two are glaringly different. Whereas Westjet is relaxed and the whole process with ticketing and check-in and flying and baggage is just easy and hassle-free and problem-free, with AC you're constantly dealing with the ordeal of late flights and lost bags and long line-ups and cranky passengers and other headaches. We've since concluded that a flight that isn't with Westjet isn't really worth taking.

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
We'ver just taken up this sport, so we're still newbies. We've only been on blades three times (once for lessons and twice on our own to practice) but we are in love with the feeling of gliding over smooth pavement! Don't get me wrong; we're not proficient yet, but we've really had a lot of fun figuring out how to glide and stop and keep our balance on even ground. Neither of us has tackled hills so far, and I anticipate much falling when I learn how to go down a slope, but in the meantime we're happy simply with getting used to the feel of moving on wheeled shoes and finding our balance. I'll post more about this later, but suffice to say it's something we plan to continue pursuing in the short-term at the very least. :)

The Myth of Rain
Before we moved, people kept telling us that it rained all the time in Van. We heard it from nearly everyone (yes, even you), so we expected that it would be a miserable dreary (but lush green) world we were entering into. I'd like to officially state that nearly everyone was wrong.

We've been in Van for 8 months now, and the only rain we've seen has pretty much come when the rest of the Western provinces were seeing piles of white stuff on the ground. Even then, the white stuff stuck around much longer in AB than the rain has in BC; we've been enjoying summer temperatures for the past two months! I keep waiting for some rain, since I love the smell of the air after a good downpour, but most mornings I wake up disappointed. Nothing yet. Tomorrow's forecast is finally calling for some moisture. It has been weeks since we've had significant precipitation so I'm optimistic that this is it! :) But in the meantime, I'd like to just say a sincere and well-intentioned :P to you all!

Alas, I miss my Hubbs. I've grown so accustomed to having him at home while he works that it feels quite lonely when I'm in this place all by myself. It's not a big apartment, but with him away it feels like it's too big for just me. Gone are the days of my youth when I relished having time to myself, and a private place from the world in which to retreat. Now, I would rather share all of my moments with Hubbs, and no longer find the solitude comforting. Funny how that happens after one meets their soul-mate, their "better half," their lobster (you'll get this reference if you watched "Friends"). I guess it just means that Hubbs & I were meant to be together! :)

Okay, so now I have to go clean a toilet, lest I further waste away the day with non-productivity. I told you it was random! ;)

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Wrong Formula for Babies


Many people subscribe to the following life formula:

Get married --> Get a house --> Start a family --> Get a bigger house


Sure, I can understand the get married part, though it's not for everyone. I can even understand the start-a-family part, which is also not for everyone. But why, pray tell, does buying a house ever have to factor into the equation, particularly for those who wish to be married and to start a family? Are people who get married and those who start families without owning homes somehow bereft as parents or as citizens of their nation? Are those who rent their abodes guilty of abusing their children by not giving them their own rooms?

I would like to challenge the notion that "nesting" and "owning" are somehow synonymous or even related terms. I would like to question the thinking that when one starts a family, they need to upgrade their living conditions immediately. I would like to test the definitions of need and want when it comes to raising families.

Note, first of all, that single bachelors and bachelorettes are exempt from home-owning pressures. Nobody insists that George Clooney own a large house, because he's single and unmarried. Likewise, if Jennifer Aniston wanted to rent a beachhouse all of her life, nobody would call that into question, because she has no kids and no husband. However, the moment that a person gets married, or has children, then society seems to feel that it is obligatory for them to "settle down" and buy a home. If they don't, a stigma is attached to them; either they must be "too poor" (cue the pity) or too wasteful (cue the derision and judgment).


Is it not possible to "nest" in a rented apartment? The short answer is yes. Nesting is really just the process of preparing a space to make it livable. In the case of birds, it's about making a soft nest so that the eggs can rest comfortably before and after they hatch. In the case of people, it's about preparing a home so that it is comfortable and safe for when a baby arrives. Whether the home is rented or owned is immaterial; the point is that it is furnished and ready for people to live in. I am pretty sure that babies cannot tell the difference between an owned and a rented home, and frankly, I don't think that most people can tell the difference between whether or not we own or rent. The only people who really feel the difference are us and our landlords, and that's just in the wallet, much to our pleasure and our landlord's loss.

Now, when a couple has a baby, the formula suggests that they have to upgrade their DINK (double-income, no kids) living conditions to more family-friendly homes. In most cases, this means buying bigger, and buying a house (or at the very least, a townhouse).

Um, why?

Sure, I agree that at some point, people with children will probably need to upgrade the size of their home as their progeny get older and taller. However, babies are not usually born 4' tall; there are a good few years between birth and the time when they outgrow even a small apartment. Such a fact should bring much relief to most new parents; they can get used to having another person around for a while before they have to go through with a move, which is a very stressful event (and not one that should accompany the ever-more-stressful event of childbirth).

Unfortunately, so many new parents or soon-to-be-expecting couples fall victim to the idea that the moment they start trying, they must upgrade their living conditions to make it suitable for the baby. I guess that all of those commercials and Sears catalogues featuring designer-looking nurseries have successfully ingrained certain messages in the mind of these folks. Personally, I suspect it's just a conspiratorial ploy between baby furniture manufacturers and real estate agents to drum up business.

There is far greater value in taking one's time to research out the neighbourhoods, the economic conditions, and one's own financial capability before entering into a real estate purchase (or upgrade). I won't go into details about today's market, but suffice it to say that the current economic climate isn't exactly ideal for anyone to sign on for more debt. The baby factor should not be the stimulus for home buying or living larger. Honestly, the baby would probably feel as comfortable in a dresser drawer as in a giant crib.

Which brings me to what our world (at least, so says the media) likes to suggest are an infant's "needs." They need their own nursery, and it needs to be colourful and stuffed full of toys. They need a separate change table that matches their crib, and a large back or front yard in which to ride their much-needed Big Wheels and tricycles or play on their giant plastic Playskool jungle gyms. They need a separate recreation room for playing. They need the space for their Jolly Jumpers, their playpens, and every other space-consuming toy advertised on Saturday morning TV.

Oh, really?

From my vague recollection of child psych 101, children seemed to need very different things from the ones listed above. If memory serves, they needed loving parents, a safe and healthy environment, food in their bellies and roofs over their heads... I don't remember nurseries, furniture, toys, yards, or big houses ever being listed. Hmmm.

When I was a kid, I found tremendous joy playing under a blanket propped up by two chairs. In our "tent," my sisters and I had great "camping" adventures. I also recall a lot of fun being had with large cardboard boxes. The conversations my sisters/roommates and I had for those 11+ years in our shared bedroom were sometimes the highlight of my day. Our rusty old swing set in the backyard didn't even see as much action as those found on the playground at school or in the neighbourhood park. And you know what? I don't even remember what my change table or my crib or my stroller or my car seat looked like. I'm not even sure if my Mom does.

Babies and children have simple needs, and they learn to be content when their primary caregivers model contentment in their lives. If anyone cares about a decked out nursery and swanky matching furniture, it's not going to be the infant, but the parents. Why? To impress the Joneses next door? To succumb to social pressure or avoid stigmas?

The truth is, anytime one invites debt (even in the form of a mortgage) into their lives, they run the risk of it getting out of hand, and controlling their existence. If they lose a job, or get injured, or the interest rate goes up on their loan, or their investment depreciates in value, these all lead to a type of instability that is arguably more detrimental to a child than not having a large yard to play in. When finances get tight, people get stressed and oft come into conflict (it's the #1 reason why couples fight). Sometimes one or both parties have to take on extra work, reducing the amount of time they can spend with their child(ren) and decreasing the quality of the time that is spent with them (energy supplies being depleted and all). Quality of life diminishes as the couple scrimps and saves to try to survive; excesses and "treats" like eating out or seeing a movie at the theatre are among the luxuries first to go.

That doesn't seem like a winning formula to me. I'd rather keep it simple, and remove the social "expectations" of home ownership and consumerism from the family equation. It would be far preferable for us to live in our humble rented 2-bedroom, park a crib in the living room when/if we are blessed with a new life, and look into renting bigger or owning a home only when the economic situation, our personal financial situation, and true need align. Until then, consider us counter-culture radicals who refuse to be victims of a losing formula.

We're not losing sleep over it, and frankly, we don't really care what anyone else thinks. ;)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hitting 4 Gyms in One Day


..but I only exercised in one of them, lest you think I'm a die-hard.

Now this is story all about how / My life got flipped turned upside down / And I'd like to take a minute, just stick around / And I'll tell you how I searched for a gym all over town.

Several weeks ago, my former gym "Rob" suddenly shut down without any notice. Hubbs & I showed up to find a hastily-scrawled note on the window, telling us to visit the gym's alternate location. This "other" location was about 35 minutes' walking distance from our place, so to work out would now mean we'd have to drive (or use up many precious minutes of our day going to/from the gym), not to mention park at the costly downtown meters.

We gave the owner a few weeks to reopen, but alas, apparently the rent went up and he decided not to renew his lease. Long story short - we had no choice but to cancel our membership and find a new gym to call home.

We loved Rob; it was a boutique gym, never crowded, never loud, and stocked with all of the equipment we like to use. The closing of its doors was pretty devastating to us, especially since we had searched long and hard before coming across it in the first place.

So, back to square 1. First, we made a list, and checked it twice (really, we did). Hubbs & I wanted a fairly reasonably priced gym with a full set of pre-weighted barbells, a squat rack, calf machines, a good range of lighter dumbbells for me to use, and a larger collection of cross-trainers. We were also hoping that the gym membership would consist of fitness enthusiasts, and that the place wouldn't be crowded at all hours of the day. Finally, we wanted a place that was either within walking distance, or offered free parking. On our "would be nice" list were items such as free lockers and friendly staff.


Our first stop was a place very close to our pad. "Ben" was a bit
pricey ($350 admin fee + monthly membership costs) but the location was prime, and easily accessible by foot. They had classes, towel service, a rockin' change room, and squash courts that came with the membership. When we first stopped in (a week or so ago), they offered us free passes to try out the gym for a day, and it was during our visit (first thing yesterday morning, thankyouverymuch) that Hubbs discovered that they lacked our barbells and several other key pieces of equipment that he usually uses. Several other requirements on our "must-have" list were also not met.

Ben was thus immediately ruled out. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that Hubbs' reaction to Ben was swift and negative. Next!

Our second gym option was not as close to us, but on a good day the distance is walkable and the drive (though convoluted) isn't long. I had also read good things about "Dan" on a hardcore bodybuilding forum. They offered free parking, and classes, and squash courts, and a large collection of Precor cardio equipment (I have a bias in favour of Precor x-trainers). Finally, their membership was reasonably priced, and we really liked the fellow behind the front desk.

However, the first strike happened the moment I walked in the door. You see, I spotted a dog lying on the floor. A dog!?! As you may recall, I have issues with dogs in gyms. When I asked the friendly fellow behind the counter, he explained that the dog was their "mascot" and had lived in the gym its entire life. Sure, the lazying canine was uber-cute, but that's beside the point. Care to explain the fact that you are selling beverages in the same area that a dog is regularly inhabiting? By-law infraction?

Upon touring the place, we came across a few other no-no's from our list. Dan was devoid of all circuit machines! Sure, they had the Hammer Strength ones, but nothing that was pre-weighted, and I'm not a big fan of having to load those heavy plates on all the time. Also, their dumbbells weren't offered in less than 5 lb. increments, and their equipment was pretty old.

In the end, we figured that if this was as good as it gets, we'd settle, but it would be a compromise on the quality that we were actually looking for. We thought we should continue exploring our options, so on we went, to "Pan."


Now, everyone knows that Pan caters to the die-hard body-building crowd. They have a separate weight area for the grunters, so we sort of knew the type of fitness-enthused membership to expect when we walked in. Pan was also conveniently located within walking distance to us, and had a little juice bar and Greek food stand located on-site. I hadn't read great things about Pan though, so I tried to go in with an open mind.

Well, the first strike we noticed was the parking. It was pay-parking. Secondly, I saw a small yappy (not cute) dog wandering the halls of the gym. Now if I thought that Dan was bad for having a dog lazing around the front entrance, I felt 1000x worse about an ugly yappy dog openly roaming the gym, especially since they serve food there!! Hello by-law violation!!! The saleswoman explained that the dog belonged to the owner's friend, who has the gym dog-sitting for them during the day. Ugh. So wrong on so many levels.

The next thing we noted was the aggressiveness of the saleswoman, who openly dissed the owner of Rob (who we like as a person even if we don't love the way he shuts down his business). Not professional, and not cool, lady. She also laughed in my face and said, "Seriously?!" with disgust when I asked her about the dumbbell weight increments. Insulting the potential member = bad business practice, IMHO.

A few other things we noted with displeasure were the lack of cardio machines and the messy and cluttered state of the gym; old broken pieces of equipment and other items lying about in a disorderly way, and stacks of papers untidily stacked do not give me much confidence in the gym's ability to handle my membership properly. Hubbs also noticed that all of the equipment he would normally use was upstairs, but their barbells were all located downstairs (a difference of about 3 narrow flights).

Finally, the saleswoman tried to hard-sell us on the membership, and rather than give us time to shop around over the next few days, tried to get us to come back that evening to sign up (lest we should miss out on the "open house deal" that conveniently ended the day before we got there). Their memberships were also yearly, and any contract terminations due to moving were still subject to a "buy-out fee."

Bad, bad, bad. Nothing about this place impressed us. Pan was not what we were looking for, and when we left, I believe Hubbs & I both silently vowed never to walk through those doors ever again.

Somewhat discouraged, we headed to "Ron." This was a gym that Hubbs had read a lot about, and was very impressed with on paper. I wasn't sure what the membership costs would be like, nor what sort of atmosphere to expect, given that most of the advertising for the gym used scantily-clad fitness models (sex sells?). There was also the issue of the drive; Ron was nowhere near our place, and the drive during traffic would be about 15 minutes long. They did offer free parking, however, and they were rated a top gym for the past two years.

The moment we walked in, we were greeted by their very enthusiastic staffer. He had nothing but great things to say about the gym, but I was trying hard to take his word with a grain of salt. He showed us around, and here were all of the positive things we noted for ourselves:

- no crowds during peak hours
- clean gym, everything in its place
- Precor x-trainers :)
- dumbbells with 2.5 lb increments
- extensive sets of circuit machines
- a Ladies-Only section with many pieces of equipment
- classes included in the membership
- a nice, clean, newly-renovated locker room
- an abundance of cardio machines
- barbells and squat machines for Hubbs
- no dogs to be seen anywhere
- friendly staff
- modern, new, matching equipment
- super-affordable annual membership with a month-to-month continuation

You could totally tell that this place cared about aesthetics and making lasting impressions. Their reception area was covered in autographed images of celebrities who had previously visited the gym (including Lynda Carter, Jessica Alba, Jessical Biel, Ryan Reynolds, Triple H, the Rock, Trevor Linden, and that hot JAG actor David James Elliott, to name a few). In comparison to Ben, Dan, and Pan, Ron was hands-down the best in terms of facility and equipment. In fact, Hubbs & I think it was even more impressive than Rob.

After our tour, we walked out of the gym and began the descent down the stairs to our car. Before our feet even hit that last step, Hubbs & I turned around and marched right back up to the gym and signed up. We were both pretty convinced that this was the right gym for us, so no sense in dilly-dallying. I looked at my trusty Excel-created checklist, observing that Ron had hit every point on our wishlist (except for walking distance part).

So, after hitting 4 gyms, we finally found one that was to our liking and fit for us to get fit. I'm actually excited to go work out today. I think that says it all. ;)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009



When I lived in HK, my then-youthful body was quick to acclimatize to its crazy-humid climate and extremely warm temperatures. After a very tough first summer, I was able to handle the 90%+ humidity and 30+ Celsius temperatures without fainting or having a breakdown.

That was then. Now, my aged old body isn't quite so quick to adjust to new environments with different climates. The Vancouver humidity, though wonderful for dry skin, is causing me to break out in random rashes. The warming temperatures (a paltry 22 Celsius with some moderate humidity) have been sufficiently contrary to my previous Alberta weather experiences to render my body unable to deal. Yes, I am overheating.

Now, I'm not saying that it was always cold in E-town. On the contrary, from our 15th floor apartment, we used to get a pretty good dose of sunlight during the summer months, and our place got ridiculously warm there too. However, we had the luxury of air-conditioning, so there was a reprieve from the heat (except for those several weeks when the A/C was busted).

Not so much with our Van pad. Our current abode, though sexy and stylin' and very urban, is surrounded by windows. These aren't dinky windows, either; they are large 5.5' x 4.5' windows with southern and eastern exposures that tend to really catch those rays. And of the 13 windows, only 4 will open. And only by about 3". You see, we have casement windows, a structural legacy left behind by the corporation that once existed where we now live. I suppose the windows were a safety precaution to prevent a depressed office worker from leaping to his/her demise. Regardless, the condo-conversion-engineers did not tinker with the original frame of the building, and so our windows are what they are.

As the temperatures have been rising, so too has my discomfort. We've resorted to opening every window, spiders be damned, just to try to cool down. Unfortunately, on days like today when the breeze just didn't blow for a good half of the day, having open windows was no different from having closed windows.

So, we considered a few options. The first was a portable air-condiitioner. I explored this option to death, but it turns out that for giant casement windows like ours, portable A/C units aren't very pragmatic. We would have needed to hire a plexiglass/plastics dude to come and custom fit our windows with plexiglass panels, and then we would've needed the same dude to come and drill out a custom-sized hole for the exhaust pipe of the A/C unit to fit through. Then, we would have needed to glue or velcro the plexiglass to our window frame, resulting in much alteration/damage to the frame (which would have surely pissed off our landlord).

The second option was to buy an oscillating fan. We (meaning I) did some extensive Google researching and discovered that a certain NOMA Tower Fan (with a remote) was on sale at Canadian Tire, and that this fan was quite highly-reviewed by others who have bought it. We rushed out to our nearest Canadian Tire, nearly walked out empty handed (thanks to the salesperson who had no idea what she was talking about), located a sole unclaimed fan in a random part of the store, and rushed to the check-out before someone could wrestle this seemingly last unit out of our hands.

When we got home, our first priority was getting this tower fan set up and operating. The fan has been blowing ever since, and now I'm not so miserable to live with (ask Hubbs). This sleek and chic unit moves a good amount of air, and not only has an oscillating feature and 3 speeds, but can ionize our air (and once I figure what that is, I might even turn that function on!). ;) It also operates by remote control, which I think might come in handy at some point.

Anyway, things are fan-tastic now, although the big test will come in the afternoon tomorrow when the sun gets all invasive in our living room again. We'll see how our little Noma holds up to mondo heat and light.

For tonight, though, I will finally get a comfortable sleep, something I've been missing for the past few evenings. And tomorrow (and the next day, and the next), I will park myself squarely in front of the fan to keep from overheating, until such time that my body gets used to Vancouver's definition of summer.