Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Blood on the Stars - Part 1: Secrets & Lies - CH.1 (3)

It only took a couple of weeks till it all started to become nothing more than routine for Hans. Morning paper work and afternoon charters, lessons and certification testing – it didn’t take long for the days to start to blend together. Duke had been true to his word and hadn’t been an issue for him, but it was obvious that he still hadn’t earned his respect either. Therefore, it came as a surprise when Marietta knocked gently on his door one morning to tell him that Duke had asked for him to come to the shop to take a look at something.
Hans dropped everything and went straight to the shop. He was pretty sure that it had to be important if Duke was asking for him specifically. He arrived in the shop to find Duke and Jessup, one of the pilots, staring at a diagnostic display for one the larger commercial transport planes. Hans said nothing, but just walked up behind them to see what they were looking at. It didn’t take long for him to see what the issue was.
“Well now that’s interesting.” Hans wasn’t aware he had spoken out loud till Jessup jumped at the sound of his voice. Duke just grunted and turned to face him with a frown.
“Interesting isn’t my choice of words for this. Seen anything like it in all your years of experience?”

Hans ignored the sarcasm in the statement and stepped closer to the display so that he could manipulate it and get a better look at a few details. “I’ve seen something similar once, but not quite to this extent. Give me a second here.”
Duke and Jessup both stepped back as Hans worked with the display, bringing up a few different reports and asking the computer to do a few more scans for him. He kept at it till he was sure that he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. He tried his best to suppress the excitement that he felt rising inside as each new report confirmed what he had been thinking earlier.
“Where were you flying when the error first popped up?” Hans said as he turned to face Jessup, ignoring Duke for the moment.
“I was taking a short cut over the Mantou Islands. I know it’s not the usual route, but I was a little lower on fuel than I had expected. Client asked for a small extra side trip and I didn’t really think it would be an issue if I just took the short way back. I know it’s not an approved flight path, but…” Jessup let his voice dwindle down and looked away.
“I’m not going to fire you. We’ve all done something like that at one time or another, just don’t let me hear about something like that again. So did the issue present before, during or just after the islands?”
“Almost as soon as I was over the landmass, maybe a bit before. Everything just started going wonky.” Jessup didn’t bother to keep the relief out of his voice. He knew he had just dodged a bullet and he was more than eager to fill in any details now that he knew he wasn’t going to get fired.
“Okay, you do seem to know what’s going on here so do you mind sharing already?” Duke interrupted before Jessup could say anything else. It was obvious to Hans that he was annoyed. He wasn’t enjoying being left out of the loop on things.
“Thank you Jessup, that’s good. Go talk to Callie about getting a new craft for the next few days. It might take a bit before this one will be back in the hangar for regular use.” Hans deliberately ignored Duke knowing that it would anger him even more to wait. Once Jessup was gone, Hans turned his attention to Duke.  “It’s an error caused by a very specific type of magno-electric field. It’s very rare and I’ve only ever seen it once before when I was in the Armed Forces.”
“So this is a military thing then?” Duke stepped back closer to the display to get a closer look at some of the diagnostic tests that Hans had requested of the computer.
“No, not exactly.  That just happens to be the only time I’ve ever encountered anything like this before. It was a training flight on a remote planet that was still in its natural state. It was considered unsuitable for terraforming. We used it for target practice with new weaponry.” Hans tapped one of the scans that he had requested, bringing it to Duke’s attention. “This one is the big tip off here.”
“So what caused this magno-electric pulse and should we be reporting it to the authorities?” Duke stepped back from the display, scratching his chin.
“No clue, it was a singular occasion back then and I wouldn’t doubt that it would be so now. However, I would think that the authorities already know about it since they don’t want any travel over those islands already with the exception of emergencies. Just make sure the pilots are all aware and respecting this restriction.”
“Fair enough.” Duke smirked, “Looks like you’re proving yourself around here. System wipe ought to take care of the errors and I’ll run some more diagnostics and give her the once over myself.”
“Sounds good,” Hans gave the time a quick glance. “I have a lesson to do in an hour until then, if you need me, I’ll be in my office. Thanks for calling me over for this Duke.”
As soon as Hans was back in his office he pulled up the initial planet survey for the Mantou Island chain. He glanced at the clock, wanting to make sure that he had enough time to do what he needed to do. He read over the initial survey findings. Unique metal compounds and an extensive cavern system had been noted, but odd magno-electric readings.
Hans made a few notes about the island chains and glanced back at the time. He would have to put further research on hold, but it was looking promising. Very promising.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blood on the Stars - Part 1: Secrets & Lies - CH.1 (2)

Hans walked into the hangar area to find the small staff under his command all huddled together talking quietly. He took a deep breath and approached them. This wasn’t going to be easy, but he had to be confident and in charge. He needed to show them all that he knew what he was doing, even if he had no clue at all.
“Good morning everyone. I’m Hans Beaulieu, your new supervisor. For those who don’t already know I learned to fly in the Armed Forces. When I retired I joined Global Space Tech as an instructor. I am certified in all planetary and space craft operation. This includes military craft as well. I have five years experience in flight instruction and flew in active service for five years prior to that.”
Hans glanced around at the faces before continuing, hoping that he was making a good impression on his new employees. All he got in return was blank stares. He smiled before continuing.
“I’m not going to be your stereotypical military hard-ass boss. I’m pretty fair-minded and I believe in efficiency and honesty. I’m looking forward to getting to know you all over the next few weeks. I know we have a busy day ahead of us, but are there any questions at all?”
Once again he was met was nothing, but blank stares. He noticed a few people giving Duke quick glances as though waiting for him to address the new boss. He made a mental note of those people, knowing that he would have to be careful with them down the road. They were most likely the ones that supported the idea of Duke as the boss.
“Alright then, Duke?” Hans waited patiently for Duke to respond.
“Yes,” he said after letting the silence between them grow to an awkward length.
“You were the interim manager before I was assigned here, if we could have a small talk so you could bring me up to speed on what’s what and who’s who around here, that would be great. I did take the liberty of double checking the schedules this morning when I got in so I believe your schedule is fairly clear right now?”
Although Hans phrased that last sentence as a question, it was really more of a statement. If Duke was going to play games with him and then he was going to give it a good go. He was used to people looking down on him for his youth, but there was no way he was going to let anyone get the upper hand on him.
“Sure.” Duke continued with the short and sharp responses. He was giving no ground to the new boss.
“Okay, I look forward to chatting with each of you later. In the meantime, my door is always open.” Hans didn’t wait for anyone else to say anything or to see if Duke would follow him. He just turned sharply and headed back to his office.
He caught Duke out of the corner of his eye as he stepped around his desk. He heard the door shut quietly behind him before turning to sit down and face what he believed was going to be his biggest challenge in this new position.
“Alright Duke, I’m asking you to lay it down for me. I’d like you to be honest and frank. Are you going to have a problem with me as your new boss?” Hans stared at him intently, really studying the older man for the first time.
He took in everything from the rough stubble and weathered skin to the semi-permanent sneer on his face. There was no doubt in Hans’ mind that the man across from him was going to be a tough man to deal with if he couldn’t find away to strike a deal with him.
“Frank and honest, eh?” Duke scratched his chin and gave a quick glance to the ceiling. “Right then.  I’m not overly impressed that the company sent some as young as you to take control of the location. I’ve been with them a long time and was originally under the impression that I was going to be given this position.”
“I can respect that, but is it going to be an issue? I need to know if I can count on you. You’ve been here since they opened this location a few months ago. You’ve got the feel for this place and you know the people. I very much respect your experience here and I don’t want to step on toes. I didn’t ask for this transfer, but I wasn’t going to turn it down either.” Hans leaned towards Duke and extended his hand across the desk.
Duke started at for a moment before taking it and shaking. “Can’t say that we’re going to be best buds, but I’m here to do a job. I’m going to respect your honesty, but you’re going to have prove yourself as a boss to me. That’s just how it is.”
“Understood, now anything I need to know to keep operations going smoothly here? I don’t need there to be any hiccups with this change in leadership.”
“Nothing out of the ordinary, it should be pretty routine stuff. Although we’re getting pretty busy since there is really no way around this planet without a pilot and there just isn’t many people here beyond us to get people places. So there more chartering and less lessons than there would be where you came from.”  Duke gave the same non-committal shrug that he had been using earlier this morning.
“I noticed that and it was expected on a frontier planet, especially with the heavy mining on the moons. I did take the time to study up on this planet and the system it’s in before coming here.” Hans smiled politely. “Thank you Duke for your honesty with me and just so you know, I would like to keep you as an assistant manager of the facility. It’s not what you wanted, but it’s the best I can do.”
“It’s the smart thing for you to do.” Duke stood up and walked out without waiting to be dismissed leaving Hans a little unsure still of where he stood with this man. He had done the best he could in damage control and a part of him wasn’t sure if it was going to be enough.
“Alice, did you make a record of that conversation?”
“Yes. All conversations are automatically set to be recorded and stored unless otherwise directed to do so. These files will be stored locally for up to one standard-t year before being archived to the main server.”
“Thank you Alice. Please show me my schedule for today.” Hans glanced over the display and frowned at how light it seemed. He knew that this position would bring more administrative work with it, but he had been hoping to get out of the office and into the air a little more often. He made a note to talk to Marietta about booking him out a little more once he had settled in.
He had a couple of hours before his first customer for the day, in the meantime there were inspection reports to sign off on and requisition and special request form to go over. He wasn’t a fan of paperwork, but it was one of those necessary evils of any job. He could bear with it so long as he got to fly often enough to feed his soul.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I had a nightmare...

I am not one of those people who often dreams - or rather, if I do dream I rarely remember. However, last night I had a dream that I could remember. It was a nightmare actually because I what I remember the most this morning is how scared and how incredibly sad I felt.

It was a simple dream. I dreamt that there was this darkness in our shadows and this darkness was a reflection of our souls. I was watching as shadows became darker because of this infection. It was spreading and getting worse and all I wanted to do was find a way to fix it - to cure the infection and rid the shadows of darkness. Instead, it kept spreading and I could do nothing, but keep running away from it... And in my dream I was so distraught that I was crying as the darkness closed in on me.

And, I have a feeling that dream says a lot about the person I am.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Blood on the Stars - Part 1: Secrets & Lies - CH.1 (1)

I'll admit the first chapter or two are pretty rough. I do think it gets better as I settled into the story and get to know the characters better. I wrote this from a prompt given to me by The Capillary and wrote without any plot and only a general idea of where I was going. It was certainly an interesting NaNo writing without a plan, but this is the result of my month long journey.

Hans glanced around at the barren landscape that surrounded him. It was hard to believe that this part of the planet had already been terraformed. He did his best to hold back his opinion of this planet until he had seen more of it, but at least it was a step in the right direction. His own centre to be in charge of, it was a big step up even if it was in a place as remote as this one.
It didn’t take him long to collect what he had brought with him. All of the bigger items had already been moved into his new place by the company. With no issues at customs, he walked into the greeting lounge and looked for a sign with his name.
“Hands Bowlow…” Hans shook his head and sighed as he walked toward the gentleman holding the sign. He tried his best not to read into it, but he couldn’t help but feel slighted. He expected there to be issues, but he hadn’t expected anyone to be so forward about it.
“Hello, I’m Hans.” He didn’t bother to smile. It was purely business, he would worry about making friends later – right now it was all about getting the upper hand. He didn’t want his new employees feeling that they could walk all over him just because he was young.
“Riiiiighht.” He drawled the word out as he gave Hans the once over. “This way then, sir. I suspect you’d like to go right to your residence?”
“Yes.” He didn’t really want to go see his new place yet. He was more excited to see his new work area. He had been told that it would be state of the art despite being on a frontier world. Global Space Tech had assured him that it was only a matter of time before Cantun became a trading centre for the outlying expansion worlds.
As the landscape whipped by Hans found the need to re-evaluate his opinion of this world. It wasn’t near as barren and boring as he had originally thought. Mountains soared, dark blue against a purple tinged sky and he longed to explore them. There wasn’t much for vegetation outside of the occasional cultured park, but it wasn’t as bad as he had thought it would be.
His own residence, when he was finally dropped off, was considerably larger than he had grown used to on more populated words. It was definitely one of the perks of moving to the edge of civilization. Even by civilized standards it was a nice domicile – all of his stuff still waiting to be unpacked.

Hans was relieved to see that no one had tried to unpack everything for him. It would have been nice to have come into a place that was all ready for him, but he preferred to have it set up the way he wanted. He had never been too keen on other people touching his stuff.
It was late, by local time and Hans had to admit that he was pretty tired. Unpacking could wait till another day. He watched as the dual sun slipped behind the mountains and alien stars came into view. This new place was going to take some getting used to, but Hans also knew that that was the least of his worries.

Hans stood inside the massive new hangar, staring at the various crafts that were now his responsibility. It was finally sinking in that he was the boss, not just a lead instructor, but the number one go to guy for all the instructors, pilots and mechanics in this facility. It was a huge responsibility and he almost began to doubt if he was actually ready for this or not.
“That just won’t do.” Hans mumbled to himself and tried to shake the thought out of his head. He was going to be just fine and he could handle this.

“What just won’t do?” A familiar voice drawled. Hans turned around, surprised that anyone else would be here so early.
“It’s not important.” Hans smiled and held out his hand. “I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were actually an employee the other day or I would have made a proper introduction.”
“Duke.” He shrugged his shoulder slightly as he said it and glanced down at the proffered hand, but didn’t take it.
“Okay then.” Hans lowered his hand, but kept his smile firmly fixed in place. “Nice to officially meet you Duke. So what do you do here?”
“Mechanic.” Once again the statement was accompanied with a shoulder shrug as though Duke wasn’t at all committed to what he was saying.  
“I see…” Hans wasn’t exactly sure what else he could say to this man. Just like his misspelled name, it seemed like Duke was making his dislike of his new both well known without actually saying as much. “Well it was good to meet you Duke.”
Duke nodded and walked away leaving Hans alone in the hangar again. He took a deep breath and searched for where his office would be. It didn’t take him long to find the door marked ‘Manager’. He pushed it open. He walked around the desk and threw himself into the chair as the computer came to life, acknowledging is presence.
“Good morning, sir.” It was the nicest thing that had been said to him since he had arrived here and it was an automated system that was responsible for it. “My name is Alice and I will be your personal assistant here.”
“Good morning Alice.” Hans tapped his fingers idly on the desk, trying to phrase his first query properly. “Can you give me a list of all current employees at this posting?”
“Yes, sir.” It was less than a second before the entire list was displayed in front him. He glanced down the list till he found the one name that he was familiar with – Duke Willis. Reaching out to touch the name, it expanded into a full bio about him.
Hans gave it the once over and stopped halfway through to read it in closer detail. He had known that this centre had been open for a few months before his arrival, but he hadn’t known that Duke had been the interim supervisor for this centre. It explained a lot about his animosity. It was more than likely that he had been expecting to be given the permanent position, not some young off-worlder.
He worked his way through the rest of the profiles for his employees. I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to have an issue with any of the office staff, but a lot of the instructors and mechanics were probably going to be loyal to Duke. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but Hans was determine to make the best of it.
It wasn’t until someone knocked on his door that he finally looked up and realized that more time had passed than he had thought. He had been so absorbed in learning about his new staff that he had managed to lose track of the clock. It wasn’t normal for him to do so, but this was a brand new situation.
“Come in.” Hans waved the display closed and looked up to see a older woman opening the door to his office. She was smiling, but it seemed like one of those professional smiles that meant nothing. It didn’t reach her eyes, but then again, he was the new boss and no one knew him yet.

“Hi, I’m Marietta. I’m your front desk staff.” She stood unsure in the doorway as though she wanted to make a quick escape.
“Hello Marietta. I was just going over the employee profiles. Is everyone in today?” Hans smiled politely, trying to seem as though he was confident in what he was doing. In truth, he had no idea what he was doing, but he wasn’t going to let anyone else know that.

“Yes, they are.” She smiled a little more naturally this time. “Did you want to meet everyone in person?”
“Definitely. If you could get everyone together in the hangar area for me that would be great.” Hans watched Marietta wander off, leaving the door open behind her. He waved the display back up and made a few notes in a file for later. There was still a lot that he needed to know about his new staff, but it would have to wait.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Another NaNo Done.

So I've finished another year of NaNoWriMo - crossing the finish line early and in excess. This means that I now have three fully completed first drafts of novels under my belt...

I do think my writing has changed this I finished my first first draft. I'd like to think I've improved, but who knows, I could be fooling myself. You can be the judge of that as I will actually be posting this years novel as a serial right on this very blog. So you get see the what the quality of my first drafts look like because I will only be doing the most minor of touch ups to it.

Also, when I've published the whole thing here on my blog I will make a PDF of the entire story available for download IF people seem to be enjoying it. If I don't get any feedback I will more than likely assume that no one likes it or wants it. However, chances are I'll make the pdf available no matter what lol.

This story is tentatively titled "Blood on the Stars" and will be found under that tag for now. If the name changes between now and when I start putting it up I will change the tag and I will post about it. So, here goes everything. I really hope you all enjoy it....

Friday, November 1, 2013

Twas the Night Before NaNo

So for my creative warm up for NaNoWriMo on October 31, I took the time to create this wonderful little adaptation of Clement Clarke Moore's "Twas the Night Before Christmas".

Twas the night before NaNo and all through the land
The writers were worrying and watching clock hands
Their fingers were poised over keyboards to fly
Waiting for midnight to roll right on by

The writers were bravely ignoring their beds
While visions of plot twists danced in their heads
Caffiene and sugar, their weapons, near at hand
Inner editors from their heads finally banned

At midnight's arrival their arose such a clatter
And now the word count was all that really mattered
Across their keyboards fingers flew so quick
Word after word appearing so slick

The moon shining in from the window so bright
Gave them ideas that just seemed so right
When what to their wondering eyes should appear?
But a novel beginning, a first draft so dear.

As that night stretched to days with dishes undone
Week two loomed upon them and chores they had shunned
The novel being written no longer shiny and new
Still they kept writing, kept struggling through

It was terrible, no good, each of them thought
But such defeating self-talk would stop them not
It was just a bad patch, they could edit in December!
But that was something none could allow, not in November.

Week three fell upon them with a thundering crash
And they began to believe that they weren't writing trash.
With slaps on the back and tonnes more caffiene
They went back to writing, once again keen

Week four snuck right up and scared every last one
And they all began to panic, would the novel be done?
With a clattering of keyboards and the biting of lips
They wrote without caring about bruised finger tips

That's it! They were done, the end had arrived
And everyone could hear their collective sigh
November was over, but the work wasn't quite done
There was editing to do, and it wasn't much fun

With ice packs on wrists and their beds beckoning sweetly
They could finally sleep, their novels saved completely
And then the writers cried out into the night
"Happy NaNo to all! And to all a good write!"

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Trip to Remember

So I did have all intention of posting to the blog as I travelled, but I should have known that I would be too busy. Didn't even get all my postcards mailed (but at least I wrote them!). So, here is a summary of my trip to the UK.

The Trip Itself

So I discovered that not only can I not sleep in cars, but planes and trains are included in that. If it's moving, I'm awake. Ah well. So I woke up at 5am on the day I left, not because I wanted to, but just because that is what I do. I wake up early. By the time I landed in the UK I had been up far too long already. Add to that a train trip that ended up not going to my destination because of "technical" issues so that when I finally arrived in the pretty little town of Chesterfield I had been up for 30 hours straight.

After a two hour nap I was up and getting ready for Hen's Night. That was fun and a story for...well not for you. It was a wild night and lots of fun. For the next few days I spent quite a bit of time just hanging out and helping to get things ready for the upcoming wedding. A few days of tourist stuff and visiting my cousin and a couple of days just relaxing and then my three weeks were up far too soon!

Memorable Moments

Hen's night was, as I said, a wild night. I had far too much fun, drank far too much and was still on my feet at the end of the night. Which, in my books, means it was a total success. Then again, I end every night on my feet. I met some wonderful people, got kissed by a boy 10 years younger than me (Don't judge! He initiated!) and it was great.

Got to go to Chatsworth House. If you live in the UK and you haven't been then you are missing out. It was brilliant. I could have just been left there for days and wandered forever. It was so stunning.

I met a wonderful man and I'm trying not to think about what that means, but I was quite taken with him. How he feels about me, maybe I'll never know, but I am staying in touch with him as best I can. He was a perfect gentleman - how often do you get to meet one of those?

And the wedding was beautiful and it made me realize I'm never doing the big wedding things if I can avoid it. Too much stress and in the end, the result is the same, you get to spend the rest of your life (ideally) with the person you love.

That's All Folks

I did so much more than what I just wrote above. I visited castles, met strangers, got lost, got found, wander off on my own and ate lots of food and drank my silly and back again. It was a wonderful trip and I know I'm going to go back.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I have become an addict

I do not typically have an addictive personality. I won't go into details, but I have a hard time forming any sort of habit at all - good or bad. So it came as a shock the other day when I suddenly realized that I have become addicted to my scale.

I'm not joking. I don't let it get to me mentally, but I weigh myself several times a day. First thing in the morning, when I get home from work and before I go to bed. Sometimes even more often than that. I don't even really think about it much. I just do it.

A lot of experts say that this is a bad thing and I am not going to disagree with them. It can definitely be detrimental to your progress, but it has more to do with your thought process about weighing yourself.

I started my journey by weighing in every morning at the same time. Over the past year and some I've become accustomed to the ups and downs and plateaus of my weight loss journey. I don't put that much thought into or stress over it. Actually, one of the benefits of weighing in so often I've become an expert on my body and how it reacts to the food I put into it and the exercise I choose to do. I know what to expect. I know what I weigh with clothes on, clothes off, in the morning, in the afternoon and at night.

Weighing myself has become the sort of habit I don't think much about - like how I always pat my pockets before stepping out of the house even though I *know* I have my keys and phone on me. I just do it, make a mental note and move on. I think that's the trick to weighing in on a daily basis is not to worry about the numbers so much.

So that my new habit and we'll see if this month in England without my scale will help break it or if I will just get right back into it the moment I arrive back home!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

365 Photo Challenge: Days 45-48

I leave for the UK tomorrow and I will have internet and a phone the entire time I'm away so I didn't bother to schedule any posts after the one for tomorrow since I'm planning to blog all about my time in the UK as I go. While the posting will be somewhat spotty depending on how busy I am, there will be posts (with pictures I think) after this point.

I'm very excited to be going to the UK and just as excited to share my journey with all of you as well!

June 12, 2013 - Day 45

Looking down my street at the storm that was heading our way. I loved the cloud formation.

June 13, 2013 - Day 46

Dress pre-shop. I tried on a few things so that I could buy I new dress for two weddings I was going to be attending this summer. This was one of the dresses that I tried on this day (and eventually bought).

June 14, 2013 - Day 47

Surprise one day only 50% off sale - oh yes. I went whole hog and got quite a few new items for the same amount I was planning to pay anyway!

June 15, 2013 - Day 48

Last time it was lunch and today it was dinner. Homemade poutine. I couldn't finish it all so the dog got poutine for dinner too! Oh, and off to the right there with the curly straw? That was a gingerbeer mojito. Best mojito there is to be had.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Vacation Begins at the Airport

My upcoming trip to the UK will be my first trip overseas and for someone who hasn't done much travelling as an adult I have a few firm opinions on how to handle my vacation. Oddly enough, no matter who I talk to - they seem to agree with my theories of how to make your vacation start off on the best possible note.

1. It begins at the airport
You vacation mindset should begin the moment you make it through security and into the departure lounge. You have to be there ridiculously early so you might as well start enjoying yourself. Choose a good restaurant - one with a decent view of people if you're a people watcher like me. Have meal, have a glass of wine or two. Don't get pissed. Enjoy it. Savour the start of your vacation.

2. Enjoy your flight
I may never have travelled overseas, but I have flown frequently and no matter what I find a way to enjoy my flight. Screaming baby? I just turn up the music and get lost in my own head and the view out the window. Have another glass of wine (actually wine comes with my in flight meal this time!) Make seat pals with the people next to you. In fact, my best flights have always been the ones where I have interesting people to sit next to.

3. Make the waits count
So I had no idea how long customs would take when I got to Gatwick and, to be honest, I wanted the cheapest ticket I could get for my train up north. So I have nearly 4 hours between when I land and when I leave again. Since my sister, who took a nearly identical flight to mine earlier this month, assured me that it only took her 45min to get through customs that means I have 3 hours to kill on the other side. Let's say more like 2 - 2.5 after getting luggage and figuring out how to get my train ticket.

Solution for that much free time? Let's take a little inspiration from the song Home For A Rest and, if I can, I'm gonna break the seal on my arrival in the UK with a pint. If I can't, that's cool. I have a LOT of postcards to send out and I just might find a few good ones while I'm waiting!

And that more or less sums up the first day of my vacation from the early airport arrival (3 hrs) to the flight (9hrs) to another wait at the next airport (4 hrs) and then a peaceful train trip north (3 hrs) - okay that's only 19hrs, but who's really counting anyway? I have a 6hr time adjustment and that mentally takes up the last 5 hrs. (I am good at math, why do you ask? lol)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Days 41-44 of the 365 photo challenge.

So are you finding your peek into my daily life a little boring yet?

June 8, 2013 - Day 41

Got my nose pierced today. Waddaya think? Like it? I do.

June 9, 2013 - Day 42

This is what I woke up to this morning. Someone decided to sledgehammer the doorknob to the apartment building. Nothing else was damaged, nothing stolen. Theory was that one of the residents forgot their key and *this* was how they decided to remedy that problem.

June 10, 2013 - Day 43

Got my new Wii remote. Finally I can play my Gold's Gym Cardio boxing without wondering if I really missed that left hook or was it just the stupid nunchuk not registering the punch.

June 11, 2013 - Day 44

Tuna salad. This was lunch. Yes, sometimes the most exciting thing in the day is lunch.

Friday, July 26, 2013

365 Photo Challenge Continues - Days 38-40

You know, the majority of a life is made up of really small events - most of which seem boring. So some days I just do not know what to take a picture of and sometimes there is that one event that just stands out and you know that this is your picture for the day.

June 5, 2013 - Day 38

This is me at work. I wear a headset because it makes me feel cool. No seriously, I always feel like I'm kinda business'y' when I use a headset. Also it allows me to lean back in my chair and answer calls at the touch of a button. Sometimes I wish it was a fancy cordless one.

June 6, 2013 - Day 39

Sinkhole on my street. Just showed up this day out of nowhere. They filled it in and it started sinking again so then they had to come back and do it a second time. So far, so good.

June 7, 2013 - Day 40

This is my dog patiently waiting for me to get finish getting my butt ready in the morning and take her out for her morning walk. Adorable, isn't she?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Finally an Answer!

This is a continuation of A Lesson in CS. If you haven't read that than this post won't make any sense at all.

So after getting annoyed they finally answered my simple question.

MOBILECO: You can activate it while in Canada if it's topped up but International Charges might apply since it's UK SIM abroad for now.

MOBILECO: If you turn it on before you leave Canada it'll be activated there & then. Your allowances will start then. The calls/text allowances are only for use in UK so you won't be able to use any of the allowances until in the UK. More info on how to get started with PAYG sims can be found at (link removed).

So basically, since activation involves the company texting you, it's not exactly recommended, but it can be done. :D

Lesson? Insults can work so long as they are not personal and derogatory. I insulted with hope and a withheld opinion of their service.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

365 Photo Challenge - Days 34 - 37

You know, the majority of a life is made up of really small events - most of which seem boring. So some days I just do not know what to take a picture of and sometimes there is that one event that just stands out and you know that this is your picture for the day.

June 1, 2013 - Day 34

I debated about even buying any herbs to plant this year because I'll be gone for so much of the summer, but I broke down and bought some mint and basil.

June 2, 2013 - Day 35

Naven got a new haircut today! Cindy and Liz got busy showing me some new techniques to use on her. One day I'll be able to groom her without a worry.

June 3, 2013 - Day 36

I got nothing today. Just nothing. So here is my exercise mats. Yeah, it was that boring.

June 4, 2013 - Day 37

Those are cops on Segways. They were awesome. Seriously awesome. They let us joke with them and then they went and got coffee at one of my favourite little coffee places in Red Deer.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Lesson in CS

So I had a friend pick up a mobile phone card for me so that I have a way of communicating while in the UK without paying an arm and a leg. I just wanted an answer to what I thought was a very simple question. Unfortunately this is the conversation that ensued through their Twitter support account. Although I'm not angry, I am a little frustrated with this company already. I'm reserving judgement on them until I actually try the product itself. Therefore, the company name is protected.

ME: I bought a SIM card to use when I go to England in Aug. Can I activate it before I leave Canada? Will it affect anything?

MOBILECO: Where did you buy the SIM from?

ME: Not sure. I actually sent the money to a friend in the UK to buy and mail to me.

MOBILECO: Is it a Pay As You Go or contract SIM?

ME: Pay as you go.

ME: if it makes a difference she got it from the Carphone Warehouse in Hull.

MOBILECO: ...if it's a contract one then it'll be active from when you buy it. Hope this helps.

ME: I already said it's pay as you go. Can I activate it while in Canada or do I have to wait till I'm in the UK?

MOBILECO: It should just activate when you put it in a phone.

ME: I know that already It doesn't answer the question I asked. Can I activate it while in Canada or wait till I land in the UK?

MOBILECO: If it's a PAYG then it'll only be active once you top up and that's when it will be active. Hope this helps :)

ME: No, it does not. I give up since obviously you didn't even bother to read my actual question. Not impressed.

MOBILECO: It should just activate when you put it in a phone.

ME: At this point I'll be amazed if you actually answer my question. I hope the phone service is better than your CS.

Monday, July 22, 2013

365 Photo Challenge - Days 30 -33

This is my second time writing a post for these days because I accidentally deleted the first one I wrote. And it was good. Why did I got and type over it? Well, at least I am getting ahead on my posts for this so that you don't get left hanging.

Actually, does anyone even pay much attention to these posts?

May 28, 2013 - Day 30

Okay, looking back on the way things went I may not have taken this picture, but this was our first thunderstorm of the year. Not much of one, but it was a good heavy rain and I do enjoy those.

May 29, 2013 - Day 31

When you have a truck you are a useful person. My friend Cindy needed a new BBQ. We found her one and it was after 11pm by the time we hauled her old BBQ down the winding stairs of her second story back porch and got the new one up there. Good exercise and lots of bruises. lol

May 30, 2013 - Day 32

I finally applied for my passport. And I certainly did not leave it too late. Got it was tonnes of time to spare!

May 30, 2013 - Day 33

Fruit salad for dinner? Yes, I think so.

And thus ends the month of May.

Friday, July 19, 2013

365 Photos - Days 26 - 29

Yup, I am really keeping up this time. I will make it the full 365. And yes, you will see a lot of pictures of my pets because often my life is just that. Me and my pets. And sometimes other peoples pets too. Well, you'll see.

May 24, 2013 - Day 26

This is a Nikko dog. I was babysitting him (and 4 other dogs actually) because he had just had surgery to remove a toe due to cancer. No worries though, he's right as rain. And while you can't tell it in this picture, he's also blind in one eye. Poor Nikko dog.

May 25, 2013 - Day 27

This is not my poodle. This was me getting suckered into bathing and drying my bestie Liz's poodle. Her name is Bella and she doesn't look anywhere near as pathetic as my dog does (See day 9 for a picture of how pathetic my dog looks in the bath)

May 26, 2013 - Day 28

Hiking poles! I spent a week walking past these things before it finally dawned on me that someone was actually throwing them out. I fixed them up easily enough and now I have hiking poles!

May 27, 2013 - Day 29

And as much as I loved my new boxing bag, my downstairs neighbour was less fond of it. So I built this little base all on my own so I could stack mats underneath it to muffle the sound. She says she can't even tell when I'm boxing now.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Year of Living Without

When I read this post on Zen Habits I thought it was such a wonderful idea. It seems like quite the challenge to me. Especially since I have issues with long term goals and planning. I think I would love to give it a try.

For those who didn't feel like clicking the link and reading the blog post this is the deal. For one year you choose something to give up each month for the entire month. It can be anything really, but it has to be something that is a frequent part of your life already. The point is to see if it's really something you need in your life or if you can do without it.

I'm not entirely sure what sort of things I would give up for each month. It's something I would have to think about. I have a few ideas. Coffee, refined sugars, meat, watching TV are a few things I'm sure I should try living without for a month. That is only 1/3 of a year though. Perhaps give up driving for in town trips? Alcohol would be doable as well. Maybe giving up my gluten-free bread and rice cakes as well - do I really need all those carbs or can I live without them?

Suggestions anyone? What can I try to give up for a month? Also, anyone want to join me in this challenge? I was thinking of starting in October or November this year.
Also, just a note that I have posts scheduled to post on a regular schedule till August. M,W,F at about 8AM mountain time. I know, this will be a first for me when I'm not doing a blogging challenge. And of course, once August hits there are no scheduled posts because I'll be posting about my time in England!

Monday, July 15, 2013

More 365! Days 23 - 25.

May 21, 2013 - Day 23

So I was laying in bed and realized that I hadn't taken a picture yet today. I thought my blinds looked interesting so that is what you get!

May 22, 2013 - Day 24

I learned how to wrap my hands so I could kick that boxing bags butt!

May 23, 2013 - Day 25

Played a new game at games night. It was a lot of fun!

Friday, July 12, 2013

101 Things in 1001 days - Update Time!

So way back when I made a post about 101 things to do in 1001 days and I haven't really talked about it since. We're somewhere around the halfway mark (a little past it I think) and it just occurred to me that I ought to post a little update on how all these goals are going.

If there's nothing written beside it than it's just plain not completed yet. In progress will ne in red (and sometimes with a note) and finished will be crossed out.
  1. Get a piece of my writing published
  2. Achieve my goal weight- 20lbs to go
  3. Run a marathon
  4. Get my driver's license
  5. Paint a canvas and hang it on my wall
  6. Take a creative writing class
  7. Finish a story - first to final draft
  8. Go backpacking in the mountains
  9. Learn to play a ukulele
  10. See the Northern Lights
  11. Make an effort to dress better
  12. Travel outside North America (note: Not actually yet, but August 1.)
  13. Save a 3-month emergency fund
  14. Complete a 365 day photo challenge
  15. Go away for a weekend on my own
  16. Make a successful soufflé
  17. Make sushi from scratch
  18. Make pizza from scratch including the dough
  19. Do the 100 pushups challenge (onehundredpushups.com)
  20. Do the 200 sit-ups challenge (www.twohundredsitups.com)
  21. Fast for 3 days
  22. Buy (& at some point wear) lingerie
  23. Get a passport
  24. Become debt free
  25. Get my own vehicle
  26. Go cross-country skiing
  27. Plaque mount and hang my favorite photos
  28. Wear all my shoes at least once or get rid of them- I did get rid of quite few!
  29. Learn another language
  30. Attend a cooking class
  31. Visit at least two new provinces and a territory
  32. Get rid of my clutter
  33. Learn how to and create a scrapbook
  34. Get my nose pierced
  35. Go on a picnic
  36. Have an un-birthday birthday party
  37. Get renters insurance
  38. Attempt meatless Mondays for a month
  39. Write down my recipes
  40. Go vegetarian for a week
  41. Donate blood regularly
  42. Do NaBloPoMo again
  43. Pay myself $5 for every task completed (to be added to my rainy day fund) (note: I'm crossing it as a fail because I just didn't have the money all the time)
  44. Find and buy a real watch
  45. Do the Hypothermic Half Marathon
  46. Take a hot air balloon ride
  47. Grow an avocado tree - I did and it died in the move. Time to start over?
  48. Open a TFSA to save for a down payment on my own place
  49. Stick firmly to my budget for one month
  50. Fly a kite
  51. Make my own wine
  52. Catch up on my webdesign work and resolve to stay up-to-date
  53. Take a photo to commemorate the completion of each of these goals (note: harder to do than I thought. This is a fail)
  54. Keep a list of inspiring quotes
  55. Learn to shoot a gun
  56. Organize my spare room so it's useable
  57. Donate $5 to charity for each task I don’t complete
  58. Take an unplanned road trip
  59. Create 5 new recipes
  60. Write 20 short stories
  61. Learn to change a tire
  62. Don't complain about anything for a week
  63. Talk to myself with respect for a week - no name calling (note: it's almost a habit to be nice to myself now!)
  64. Go one week without hitting snooze
  65. Go one week without swearing
  66. No junk food for a month
  67. Buy a dress and wear it
  68. Take myself out for a fancy meal
  69. Write down something that made me happy everyday for 30 days
  70. Run 10K straight
  71. Send out Christmas cards
  72. Dress like a professional for one work week
  73. Organize my paperwork/bills and shred what I don't need
  74. Try snowboarding
  75. Learn to make cheesecake
  76. Follow a strict skin care regimen for 2 weeks
  77. Keep up with ALL my laundry for one month
  78. Get involved in a sport
  79. Take a weekend bike trip
  80. Try 5 new foods
  81. Make homemade marshmallows
  82. Replace my mismatched dishes with a full, nice set
  83. Start taking vitamins
  84. Make my own jam
  85. Learn to make 5 new desserts
  86. Make my own GF bread
  87. Maintain my goal weight for one year
  88. Buy a nice/expensive pair of shoes
  89. Inspire someone else to make their own list
  90. Learn to sew
  91. Pre-plan my meals and actually eat what I planned to for a week
  92. Watch all the movies I am ashamed to say I haven't actually seen, though often pretend I have
  93. Listen to 30 new-to-me artists
  94. Own more than one dress
  95. Find my perfect red shoes
  96. Do the 200 squats challenge (www.twohundredsquats.com)
  97. Have a mole check done
  98. Finish a full first draft during NaNoWriMo
  99. Clean my fridge top to bottom
  100. Clean out my freezer
  101. Post this list somewhere I will see it everyday

Final count: 69 tasks still to attempt. That's actually a lot better than I thought it was. Sure, 31 tasks done or in progress really doesn't seem like a lot, but considering a lot got put on hold when I ran over my leg I don't think it's going too badly.

I'm sure there is a lot that I won't get to and I'll just have to try it another time, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

365 Days 20-22 (I'm on a roll!)

I've got nothing to say here today. Just enjoy the pics.

May 18, 2013 - Day 20

I spent the day helping my friend Cindy choose new flooring for her house. It was quite fun actually. These were the final two she was trying to decide between.

May 19, 2013 - Day 21

Nap time!

May 20, 2013 - Day 22

Got a free standing boxing bag from my boss. Her daughter didn't want it anymore and so she gave it to me! It's fun to have something to hit instead of the air.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

365 Revised - Days 16-19

You know the funny thing about having a good phone with a good camera is that I end up taking some sort of a picture almost everyday. Sometimes it's a pic I take just for this and sometimes you get a pic I would have taken anyway!

May 14, 2013 - Day 16

Just taking the dog for a walk as I do every day - three times a day. 

May 15, 2013 - Day 17

Walked to work today. This is one of the main streets that leads into downtown from my apartment. In fact, my office is really only 8 blocks away from where I live.  

May 16, 2013 - Day 18

Got my first ItWorks shipment today. I was really excited to get my Greens, Fat Fighters and ThermoFit.

May 17, 2013 - Day 19

No, I didn't get to go see the new Iron Man movie (and I still haven't!), but I did go to see new Star Trek movie (loved it) and the movie theater had these awesome Iron Man cups. I enjoyed playing with my little Iron Man.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

OMG, I think I'm organized.

So, my mind has been entirely wrapped up in my upcoming trip to England (postcards sent on request only, just email me your mailing address and you'll get a postcard too!). I've planning and plotting and preparing for my very first overseas trip. I even have somewhat of an itinerary.

Anyway, three weeks to go before I take off and there is just one thing left on my to do list. This, for those who know me, is amazing. Not only that, but I even created a handy little checklist for packing. I am organized. Seriously organized.

I am amazed with myself. I want to confidently say I haven't forgotten anything, but I'm not brave enough for that. I'm even still creating a checklist of things to be done before I leave as well. This is a huge thing for me. I haven't procrastinated. Not one bit.

As for that itinerary? Well, I can give you a breakdown of what my epic (for me) trip will consist of:

Aug 1 - Fly baby and arrive first thing on Aug 2 in Gatwick.
Aug 2 - 10 - In Chesterfield sight-seeing, wedding stuff, just hanging about and having fun!
Aug 11 - 13 - Broadstairs, meet the cousins, see the beaches and have fun!
Aug 13 - 19 - Staying in Birmingham with 2 day trips to London, 1 day trip to Cardiff, 1 day trip to Strathford-Upon-Avon, and 2 mystery activity days! And of course, having fun.
Aug 20 - Time to go home. Not so much fun.

Despite how it looks I'm trying not to squeeze too much into my time. I mean, I took kidnap David Tennant off the list of things to do.

So, so excited.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Aurora Borealis

Have you ever done a road trip at night? If not, maybe you should. Some of my most memorable drives have been overnight trips. And this weekend past long weekend was one of them.

We got a much later start than any of us wanted on Friday. There was just too much to get done before leaving for Saskatoon. We had all been up since early and there was no doubt that this would be a hard overnighter for all of us. We entertained the thought of pulling over somewhere and catching a few Z's on the side of the road, but we were going to haul ass as far as we could before giving in.

It must have been about 1am that I noticed the northern lights. I was exhausted, but I don't sleep well at the best of times and in a moving vehicle it's nearly impossible for me to sleep. So I leaned against the window and watched the sky tell me a story through pictures of light.

At about 2am our fearless driver called it a night. We were just outside of a small place called Unity at this time. It was a more or less empty highway on the prairies. We all got out for a few minutes to stare up at the sky. None of us had ever seen the Northern Lights take up so much of the sky before. I stayed outside as everyone else went back in to sleep.

I laid on the back of the truck and watched the lights dance and flow through the night sky. It was a performance that could not be matched by man. Lights dancing to the song of the crickets and frogs. The mournful howl of a coyote every now and again. It was something incredible to experience.

Friday, June 14, 2013

365 Photo Challenge: Days 12 - 15

Okay these pictures are definitely more interesting than the last lot. At least I think that they are. I did things during these days!

May 10, 2013 - Day 12

I went to a comedy show in Rimbey in support of Breast Cancer. The girl with me is my friend Crystal. She's pretty damned awesome and said I could put this pic up on my blog for my 365 photo project. It was a great show BTW. I laughed hard. 

May 11, 2013 - Day 13

I had such a hard time choosing a photo for this day! Crystal and I went for a drive through Jasper and came back to Red Deer via the David Thompson Highway. We saw sheep, deer and even a grizzly. We also stopped at the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields. Crystal was tired so she had a nap as I hiked up to the glacier on my own. The wind was blowing hard from behind me, so don't mind the look on my face. I made it though. Go me! 

May 12, 2013 - Day 14

This was Mother's Day and I did call my mom. I also took a moment to visit the cemetery where my great grandmother is buried. I am proudly a second generation Canadian and my great grandparents came in 1927 with their young children in tow to try and make something of this dusty prairie land. It didn't exactly work out that way, but that is a story for another day.

May 13, 2013 - Day 15

The flowers are blooming! Looky at all the purty flowers!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

365 Photos - Day 8 - 11

I'm quite proud of myself for staying on this this time. I might actually finish the challenge this time, but let's not get ahead of myself. Here is a few more pictures for you all. Nothing too interesting happened during these days, but not every day can be an exciting adventure!

May 6, 2013 - Day 8

Got a new haircut. Wasn't sure about the bangs, but I do like the short. Short is good. Short is nice. I can do short.

May 7, 2013 - Day 9

Bath day for my Navy baby. Despite being 6 years old and a show dog that has experienced many, many groomings in her life, she still acts as though it is the worst possible thing anyone could ever do to her. .

May 8, 2013 - Day 10

Okay, so the new cut wasn't as easy as I thought. Until I got the hang of it I spent every morning picture messaging my best friend so that she could tell me if I got my hair to look right. Very, very stressful. However, I am happy to report that I seem to have the hang of the haircut now. However, no matter what others say, I am never doing shorter bangs again. I just can't hack them.

May 9, 2013 - Day 11

This is my desk. This is what I look at every weekday for about 8 hours. Yeah, it's a little cluttered, but if I have to sit here everyday I want it to be *my* space. Heck, there are even things that you can't see in this picture. Like the photos and the vase of jellyballs (don't ask). And of course my phone, paper tray, printer and pencil holder.

Friday, May 31, 2013

365 Photos - Day 4 - 7

I'm still keeping up on the taking of pictures, just not so much on the shrinking and uploading of images! lol. Here we go, days 4 to 7

May 2, 2013 - Day 4

It was the first nice day of the year. The sun shining, the birds singing and so I went to have lunch in city hall park. As you can see the world is just starting to finally turn green.

May 3, 2013 - Day 5

This is my dog Naven. We went for a little jaunt in the dog park this evening. I love going to the dog park and just walking around for a bit in the late evening.

May 4, 2013 - Day 6

Shopping and drinking. That was what this day was all about. It was games night with the boys and I really shouldn't have started drinking before we started playing DrunkQuest (which is totally awesome).

May 5, 2013 - Day 7

It was really, really, really hot this day. I sort of just died on my bed and stared up at the ceiling fan so that is the picture that you get. My ceiling fan. Exciting isn't it. And you thought a picture a day would be boring.