ironphoenix: (pirate)
( Jun. 6th, 2017 04:24 pm)
After a hiatus of a few weeks, I'm back to my martial arts practices. The break was enjoyable in some ways, but it's good to see everyone and catch up, to move that way again, and to experience (and contribute to) the energizing effects of the space and practice.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Apr. 10th, 2017 02:23 pm)
It's great to be here tonight, folks! Or at least, that's what two-thirds of LJ's userbase seems to think right now!

This should still crosspost there; I'll keep my LJ alive for a while, but I've ended my automatic paid account renewal.

In other news, I had hoped to get to Quebec City for a martial arts seminar (aikido and iaido), but got hit last week by the flu that's going around town. I spent the weekend in town with family instead.

[personal profile] diaspora and I got out to the Cobbs's Creek and Bearbrook Creek spring floods yesterday, where we saw more water than we usually would, and consequentially fewer geese. We did still see a decent number of Canada and Snow Geese, and quite a few Pintail Ducks. We also saw more muskrats than I've seen in one place before, including some young ones--very cute.

The water was high because of recent intense rains, which flooded not only the creeks, but our basement, via the window. Fortunately, the main casualties were empty boxes, which went out with recycling this morning. We'll have to get the back yard regraded, as the root cause of the flooding is subsidence of the ground around the foundation. We'll probably recaulk the window too, and get some insulation replaced to head off any mold issues.

Yes, I'm trying to be a bit more vocal on here... maybe we can get some energy back into a decent social platform!
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ironphoenix: (gull)
( Jun. 18th, 2015 01:00 pm)
Cape Breton was friendly, interesting, pretty, and tasty, but also distant and a bit chilly.

(Gee, that makes it sound like I'm talking about something other than a vacation...)

The drive to get there and back was long. Overall, we put in more than 4500 km of driving, which is a bit much.

The weather was mixed, with a few wet days. The temperature ranged from the cool end of comfortable to pretty cold: there were still snowbanks here and there up in the highlands. Where the wind was off the water, the temperature was distinctly chillier. In retrospect, bringing several pairs of shorts was perhaps unduly optimistic.

Cape Breton had lots of variety of land- and seascapes, with mountains, cliffs, meadows, bogs, beaches, taiga, streams, and lakes all vying for attention. We did a fair bit of walking and driving around, as is our usual habit on vacation. Aside from that, we went on a boat trip to look at seals, puffins, and other seabirds, and also visited Fort Louisbourg. We ate lots of good food, especially seafood: lobster, fish, scallops, shrimp, and some utterly amazing snow crab. Our favorite B&B of the four we stayed in was The Yellow Sidecar on the west coast; highly recommended.
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ironphoenix: (gull)
( Jan. 17th, 2015 04:41 pm)
We have a European Goldfinch visiting our balcony birdfeeders. The default assumption is that he's an escape from domestic captivity, because its natural range isn't exactly close to here, but it's acting wild, hanging out with a mixed flock of Common (American) Goldfinches, Redpolls, and House Finches, and it arrived with an Arctic air mass. We're hoping that experts can establish its subspecies from pictures, because if it's from a Northern one (rather than, say, the subspecies particular to Sicily, Corsica, and Sardinia), it might be judged a genuine wild bird way out of its range.

If so, the trickle of interest we've had for visiting our viewing area may get rather more substantial!
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Thursday, my ankle was sore; yesterday, I was having real trouble walking, so I made an appointment with my doctor. He diagnosed it as tendinitis and prescribed an anti-inflammatory for 1 to 2 weeks, which is working very well; I expect I'll be back at aikido on Monday, although I'll try not to be too hard on it. This is much better than I expected, which was to be off it for a couple of weeks!
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ironphoenix: (pirate)
( Jul. 12th, 2014 07:55 pm)
It's been a pretty stereotypically surburbanite day... lunch and shopping at the Carp Farmers' Market, more shopping at Pesto's Deli, Jojo Coco, and a hardware store, a bit of gaming, weeding the back lawn (there were some pretty impressive bull thistles growing there, up to well past 4 feet) and dinner cooked on the BBQ. Well, the organic pork chops were cooked on the BBQ, the organic greens went into a salad with an Italian dressing made with fancy olive oil and balsamic vinegar from the deli, and we warmed up the organic dark sourdough bread in the oven.

We so yuppie.
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ironphoenix: (gull)
( Mar. 19th, 2014 03:11 pm)
We're safely back from Costa Rica!

Lots of fun, lots of rest, some good food, many, many birds and beasts, lots of reading... not a cheap vacation, but memorable! A few highlights:

* A couple of full-day birding tours with Johan Chaves, a very friendly and skilled guide; by full-day, I mean that he picked us up before sunrise, 05:30, and dropped us off after sunset, after 18:30. We saw all kinds of birds; [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora will likely post a list soon. The macaws and toucans ("the Froot Loops bird!") get lots of attention, and are certainly good to see, but there are many, many less well-known ones well worth seeing.

* Dining at Rancho el León, a great little restaurant close to our resort (about half an hour's walk) which had very good typical Costa Rican food at quite reasonable prices, and a very friendly owner to boot.

* A ziplining outing to remember at El Santuario, with 9 lines in and above the jungle canopy, several so long that the end couldn't be seen from the start (the longest was almost a mile), plus some very neat cable bridges.

The bit of Spanish I learned through Duolingo came in quite handy... I generally didn't need to carry a phrasebook, between the bits of English many folks spoke and my rudimentary Spanish.

And now, back to Canadian weather, work, and laundry... pictures may appear sometime, as a follow-up!
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ironphoenix: (slicktory)
( Feb. 28th, 2014 02:09 pm)
I'm off to Costa Rica on Sunday morning with [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora!

We're going for two weeks, staying at a timeshare via my parents near Quepos. There will be nature-watching, ziplining, sailing, snorkeling, and lots of general relaxing. We went 15 years ago on honeymoon, and this is our first time back. I gather things have changed some, modernizing a bit; it'll be interesting to see.

I expect to be pretty much internet-free while we're down there; don't shut down LJ while we're gone, m'k?
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ironphoenix: (preach)
( Aug. 24th, 2013 08:36 pm)
I'll be walking in tomorrow's Pride parade. There is a contingent of us from my parish; I don't know exactly how many of us there will be, but it's sanctioned by the parish itself (we even have T-shirts!). I have no idea whether there will be any reaction from the wider church institution. I think it's an important step for us in the Church who look at Jesus' life and teachings, and imagine what his radical inclusivity might be today.

To those who have been turned away by the church: I'm sorry, and we're trying to change things for the better.
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Raven)
( Aug. 7th, 2013 12:24 pm)
The kenjutsu seminar was very enjoyable, and very different from last year's adventures at Aikido Summer Camp. There were perhaps fifty of us in total, and I met nearly everyone who is currently practicing this style at a senior level. The hardwood floors were good for traction and stability, but hard on my feet; I wore socks for some of the practice, and was far from alone in doing so. The soke (head of the school) is a brilliant, enthusiastic, and energetic man; I enjoyed his classes immensely. The sempai (senior students, singular sempai) were great to train with and learn from, too.

All told, I figure I got somewhere a little over 20 hours of practice during my trip, at various venues: the community center where they usually hold classes, the school where the seminar was held, and my host's home: I stayed with one of the senior students, who has a dojo in his house (it replaced an indoor pool), but was unfortunately unable to practice due to injury. He also has a couple of cats, to which I was surprisingly unallergic, and a pretty good wine and scotch collection, which he was quite happy to share.

One of the students who had been to Japan recently brought back a bunch of hakama storage cloths to give away, so I now have a very nice blue and bronze one. I may also have a line on a second-hand iaito (metal practice sword, blunt, not designed to be sharpened or used in combat) at a good price; we'll see what comes of that.

A couple of us went to visit the Muttart Conservatories, which were nice, but not all I had expected: I had the idea that there were birds and butterflies, but no, just plants. Pretty and interesting plants, of which some pictures may show up (here or on [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora's LJ) sometime, but very much vegetable-kingdom plants. A few of us also went to the Heritage Festival, where we ate some interesting food, saw a few demos, and generally relaxed a bit between fairly intense classes.

To finish the trip, my luggage just got delivered: WestJet mistakenly off-loaded it when I transferred in TO, but to their credit, called me over as I got off the plane in Ottawa and told me so right away, rather than making me wait for it to fail to show up on the carousel. As usually happens, they delivered it directly to me when it arrived.

I'm glad I have today to recover, and will likely skip tomorrow's aikido practice too. Friday, I'll teach the kenjutsu class, since my sensei and sempai are all away. I'll introduce a couple of the changes and refinements from the seminar, but not overload students with all of it in one go.
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Raven)
( Aug. 1st, 2013 09:49 am)
I'm leaving today for Edmonton, there to take part in a kenjutsu seminar on the weekend and a bunch of extra classes. Last year, I went to Aikido Summer Camp, and had a good time; this is this year's big martial arts outing. I expect to practice some 30 hours between Friday evening and Tuesday afternoon, assuming my body holds out. It's promising to be intense and fun, with local students putting several of us (including me) up during our stay.

This is kind of a big deal for us, it being the first such seminar held by the soke (lineage-holder, chief instructor of the system), and the first chance he will have to meet the Ottawa students--and of course, the first chance we will have to learn directly from him. Seven of us are making the trip, including Sensei J., which means quite a bit of money in airfare.

I get back late Tuesday night; between now and then, my online-ness will be spotty at best.

Also, this will be the farthest north I'll have been in Canada, but not globally: Helsinki is more than a degree further North, and I've been past the Arctic Circle in Lapland.
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jan. 7th, 2012 12:20 pm)
...why folks with full-time jobs and houses hire housekeepers. There's kind of a lot of stuff to do, and after an 8-hour workday, some other evening activity (e.g. aikido), and supper, there isn't a whole lot of time and energy left.

([livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora is out of town visiting her family for a couple of weeks, which is why this comes up!)

I'm managing, though. The driveway is shoveled and salted, groceries got, bathtubs cleaned, bird feeders reloaded, suppers cooked, kitchen cleaned, and I got out to the Carleton Strategy Club Wednesday, aikido Thursday, and kenjutsu yesterday.

Still, today should be manageable... I have to drop off a cheque to the residents' association, go to the bank1, and spend the evening with mom and [livejournal.com profile] ilanikhan. Oh, and shower, dress, eat lunch, etc. (That last part may come earlier in final version of the plan.) With the RPG being canceled today, I have lots of time, and will probably spend a couple of hours spinning tunes2 and/or playing computer games. Tomorrow, I'll likely go to church, and then go for boardgames at a friend's place.

1: Yes, exactly like that.
2: It's a bedroom DJ thing, except that I do it in the living room where the stereo gear is. I don't generally get to do much of this when [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora is around, because much of the stuff that I play isn't so much her thing.
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ironphoenix: (slicktory)
( Jun. 13th, 2011 09:42 am)
We're safely and happily back from BC, thanks to hassle-free flights on WestJet... longer post, wif pictures, eventually!
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...and I like at least half of you half as well as you deserve.

I have, however, a fair number of obligations on my time these days, so if I haven't seen you in a while, it's likely not because I don't want to see you, but because I am busy. Admittedly, some of my busy is fun stuff, but it does keep me from seeing some of you. Things will be slightly less frazzled come the fall, and perhaps even less so in the winter, Insha'Allah.

So what's going on?

Aikido continues to keep me busy. I have finally started serious work on my ikkyu test in aikido, having procrastinated quite long enough thanks. The head instructor has given his blessing, and I'll do the test itself either in late September or mid-December; we'll see how he and I feel about it in a month. I'm still coordinating seminars; the next one is at the end of October. There is some uncertainty about our space, as the building may soon be bought (the deal is still conditional, afaik), so I'm hemming and hawing about setting up the seminar after that.

In other news, vacations are winding down, but next weekend, we have a little trip to Montreal planned, the RPG I play on Tuesdays is back up, and [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora's and my parents are all arriving in town just after Labour Day, so there will be lots going on for a while yet!
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[livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora already posted about our vacation, but I haven't really said much... a short (oops!) post seems in order.

I too have a DSLR camera now... there are pictures. I've only done post-processing on a couple so far, but there will be more in future posts! Thumbnails in the post link to much bigger versions, and are often details from the larger images. Where wallpaper-sized (1680x1050) images work, I've linked to those, but if you want an even higher-res image, I can likely oblige you.

We drove down to Richmond VA over two days, taking a long first day to get to Front Royal VA, then making the second day a pleasant and leisurely drive along Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We left ourselves time for a nice lunch up at the Skyland Resort, and a hike down to Dark Hollow Falls. The Skyline Drive has innumerable scenic outlooks, and is very popular with the motorbike crowd; it's a pleasant road if you have time to savor it, but not the place to be if you're in a hurry. Eating at the Skyland's restaurant feels like having lunch on a screened-in porch, looking out over the valleys and further mountains... it's just a BIG porch. The food is also quite good Southern cookin'. The trail down to Dark Hollow Falls is short, but rather unrelentingly steep; in the heat, it was a substantial effort. We saw a good deal of wildlife (no bears though), and I have some pictures which may find their way onto here sometime.

Once we got to [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora's parents' place, we stayed there for a week, doing relatively little. We had considered some day trips, but the heat and UV were sufficient to discourage us from staying out for more than an hour or two at a time. We contented ourselves with general short walks, good food, and lolling about. I find a bit of this helps me get out of the working mindset, so the time was not lost!

After that, we went down to Rodanthe NC, on Hatteras Island, where [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora's mom rented a very fine cottage for a week. The location, view, decor, and comfort were excellent; having tried several cottages on the Outer Banks, this was certainly my favorite. Its only drawback was that being at Rodanthe, it was a fairly long ways from many of the places we wanted to go, so there was a lot of driving; bad us for taking advantage of cheap American gas!

There is lots to do down there, and I have pictures from at least some of it. Just about every day, we spent at least a little while boogieboarding; naturally, neither of us are experts at doing tricks and the waves aren't anything like Hawaii's, but it's fun. Thanks to the vagaries of winds and currents, the water temperature varied inversely with the air's, so it was refreshing all week. Even relatively small surf (waves were running at most about 4 feet in open water) is powerful enough to pound one pretty well on a miss; we've seen bigger surf there, but we're just as happy with the more moderate waves. As it was, I was getting sand out of my ears for about five days after we got back.

We also visited Pea Island Wildlife Sanctuary a few times, [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora more often than me. I didn't see the red wolf I spotted last time I was there, but I was the first to spot the locally famous partial albino red-winged blackbird; [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora pretty much refused to leave until she caught a picture! She has posted, of course, many other pictures captured there!

We visited the nearby North Carolina aquarium in Manteo, where we saw some interesting fish (including sharks), reptiles, and this charming fellow and a few friends.


We also took a hike along a stretch of the Alligator River; lots of dragonflies, no alligators. Still, we did see several of the quite pretty Prothonotary Warblers which are known for breeding in the area.

I got up bright dark and early one morning to catch some pictures of sunrise over the Atlantic. I have lots to work with, but here's a first sample; it was taken a little while before the sun actually made it over the horizon.


The food really deserves its own post; besides, this is approaching "TL:DR". For now, it's enough to say: Mexican, steakhouse, seafood... yum.

The trip back was swift and uneventful. We had considered moseying around the Thousand Islands a bit on the second, shorter, day of driving, but by then, we ended up being keener on getting back to home sweet home, and all our friends!

There... an actual post, with "me" content!
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How can you tell when you're leaving Pennsylvania? The sign that says "END ROAD WORK"! Ba-dum-pssh! But seriously folks... we lost an hour to traffic slowdown (single lane for miles and miles) on I-81 in PA. A local told me it's been like that for months.

I managed to get a (mild) sunburn before we even got here, thanks to overlooks and hiking in Shenandoah National Park en route. Yes, I do have lots of Scots and Irish heritage!

The weather here is Hot. Even locals are complaining.

Why, in Ottawa, an urban area of about a million people, can we not have even one really good Mexican restaurant? Mexican food, even fast food, here is plentiful, cheap, and good. In Ottawa, "passable" is as good as it gets.

I think it'll take me a few days to spin down from work etc... my subconscious isn't here yet.
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( May. 31st, 2010 07:33 pm)
Saturday: Anniversary celebrations wif my love [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora... 11 years happily married, and it's just a good start! \o/

Savoured a kind of dessert wine that I think will be a success with many of my regular readers... trockenbeerenauslese, the result of noble rot. It's not cheap (pricier than single malts on average by volume), but it's nice stuff.

Sunday: Relaxing after weeks of resume updating (anyone looking for a technical analyst, designer and team leader?), CanGames stuff, family stuff. Went to church and...

Whaddayamean I'm preaching next week?! No, I didn't get the e-mail... they sent it to my old account I guess.

Well, crap.

*researchresearchresearch* *writewritewrite*

I has a draft. I will edit it on Saturday morning. Y'all will see it when it's done.

Less than 3 weeks until vacation departure... I'm looking forward to the break for sure!

Dare I try to squeeze in a games day this coming Sunday afternoon?
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ironphoenix: (blast of happy)
( May. 25th, 2010 04:43 pm)
Another CanGames down... lots of railgaming (Railroad Tycoon, 1830), and Dominion, and running games. I announced that I'm stepping back from running RoboRally, in order to free up time to run other things; C.o'B. is thinking of taking up the job, since he won quite often, including this year's running.

Bolide was well-liked, but ran way long; I think it was as much a function of the players as the track.

It was good to reconnect with the various con-friends... for whatever reason, there are a fair number of people who, even though they're local, I see only there. Plus, of course, B.McD. and company from Toronto.

The lack of A/C this year (on the fritz) really sucked. I'm still recovering from what feels like heat exhaustion.

I've rolled Dominion: Alchemy into my magic spreadsheet now; it was less work than I feared it might be. Unlike the other expansions, it requires a cluster of cards to work, so I've set it up so that one can select how many alchemy cards to use. 4 seems to be a good number, and 6 is probably the maximum.

I hope my aikido schedule doesn't preclude me going in future years!
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( May. 16th, 2010 10:19 pm)
[livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora got back tonight, so we had dinner and pleasant conversation, and now she's crashing to bed.

Tomorrow, I leave for upstate New York for a quick work trip, and get back Tuesday evening, hopefully in time for my RPG.

And I'm still not done getting ready for CanGames... it is approaching the ACK!-worthy stage.
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ironphoenix: (flaming)
( Dec. 26th, 2009 09:16 am)
My grandmother died early this morning; may those who have gone before welcome her into God's love.
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ironphoenix: (no return)
( Nov. 10th, 2009 10:18 am)
My schedule is insane:

Tue: Work, RPG
Wed: Work, [livejournal.com profile] ilanikhan
Thu: Work, [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora
Fri: Course, aikido, dinner party
Sat: Course, receive stuff from parents, wedding
Sun: Visit [livejournal.com profile] gabriel_le, [livejournal.com profile] pezchica, and [livejournal.com profile] scubajim, and deliver stuff

I have reading to do for my course on Friday, too.

Somewhere in there, I have to check that my suit still fits for the wedding.

Also, I've offered to help [livejournal.com profile] feli_valkyria get some stuff from her apartment to various disposal points.

Receiving stuff from parents may get bounced to Sunday A.M., unless [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora wants to deal with schlepping the CD cabinet. There won't be time between the course and the wedding.

The following weekend, I'm preaching and there's a games convention... it just doesn't stop!

And last but not least, I'm trying to recover from teh sik.
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...but I should recover soon.

In the meantime, [livejournal.com profile] foms mentioned online Roads and Boats last time I saw him, and so I finally got around to trying it. Result: my best first-time score ever on a new map: 290 of a record 340 (high scores)! Higher scores than 340 may or may not be possible on that map. I think I can see where to get the missing 50 points, because I was 1 wonder brick away from 10 more points, and a turn too late on my 4th coin to get a second stock certificate, which would add the other 40 points. This is dangerously addictive!
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Tell me why - I don't like Mondays.
I want to shoot the whole day down.

--The Boomtown Rats
Yesterday, in a word, (mostly) sucked.

Medical woes lj-cut for length and, well, medicalness. )
Anyways, that's the happy ending; all that's left is to recover from the ordeal, and set up an appointment with my family doctor to get follow-up blood testing.
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I just found out that I'm preaching this weekend.

Yo, Spirit dude, I'm gonna need some timely inspiration here...
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ironphoenix: (getting up now)
( Jul. 6th, 2009 11:32 am)
[livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora and I just got back yesterday from an extended weekend at a good friend's cottage (I went up on Wednesday, she on Friday). The lake it's on is a beautiful one: deep and healthy, without an excess of algae or scum, as evidenced by the fact that loons and mergansers (and no other ducks) favor it. (Look for pictures on [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora's blog soon!)

Even though the weather was less-than-stellar (or solar) for the first few days, we managed to have a good deal of fun, including gaming; yesterday's sun was a very welcome change, and we got some good hiking and swimming in.

I didn't go all the way to the top of the mountain we hiked up, because I'm still getting used to having actual hiking shoes, and so underestimated the ease with which I'd be able to descend again. Even in very steep, damp terrain with no trail, they give enough grip that I could trust my footing much more than I'm used to.

The company was excellent too; y'all know who you are!

My growing infatuation with chocolate and cheese is not going unnoticed: we broke out a block of Agropur's 5-Year Old Canadian Reserve Cheddar, intending to sample it; we didn't stop "sampling" until it was gone. Le Baluchon also went over very well; sadly, L'Empereur was less well-loved, the rind having a "grittier" texture than most folks liked with such a soft cheese, even though I'm fond of it myself. Another review of Empereur can be found here .On the chocolate front, I brought a frighteningly large selection. The surprise find of the weekend was that the 100% cacao from Stubbe was found to pair beautifully with the cheddar. Amedi's chocolates were perhaps the biggest disappointment: they were good, but not worth the price, costing about twice as much as comparable chocolates from other sources. Dolfin's Hot Masala chocolate continues to be a crowd-pleaser, although I think I would have to find another to top my own list. Baratti e Milano have two solid successes, the Gianduja making a particularly fine "dessert" (think of the platonic ideal on which Nutella is based), and the Di Rosa was the most surprising thing I've tasted in a while, so I'll be looking for more of their stuff. (Also, if I'm ever in Italy, I'd love to stop by the café!)

Full chocolate list for the curious or those seeking reminders... )

All in all, a very fine weekend, even though we found it necessary to remind each other at every occasion--indeed, every opportunity--that it was not that kind of party!
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jun. 30th, 2009 08:33 am)
I've only read the past couple of days of posts, so if I've missed something important, please comment or e-mail!

The vacation was very pleasant, and relaxing. B&B's are a very nice way to travel, and aren't generally insanely expensive; three out of the four we stayed at were excellent, and the fourth was simply undistinguished, not terrible. We can particularly recommend Le Metayer in L'Isle Verte (near Rivière-du-Loup), Le Presbytèere in Percé, and Gîte Auger in Quebec City. The first is warm and homey; the third is quite bohemian; the second is hard to describe succinctly. It is definitely very comfortable and luxurious, but in a somewhat old-fashioned way. The building is, as its name suggests, a converted presbytery built over a hundred years ago, and reminds me in many ways of my great-aunts' former home in Amherst, Nova Scotia, so it evokes a lot of odd associations, both personal and religious. At all three, breakfasts were excellent, and generally, lunch was light or unnecessary afterwards.

So what did we do? Lots of hiking and bird- and animal-watching, and a good deal of reading, and quite a lot of driving. Also, pigging out. And finally, some shopping and a trip to the Biodome in Montreal.

The new car is still made of happy; mountain roads, dirt roads, heavy rain... lots of exciting stuff to drive in, and [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora got lots of practice with interesting driving conditions too. After the upcoming cottage weekend, I'm gonna spring for a thorough in- and outside wash.

Gaspésie is indeed beautiful. There's a distinct sense of being at the edge of the world there, with villages hugging the coast and cliffs dropping into an often-misty sea. As regards the cliffs, climbing would be pretty risky, because the rock is in many places a sedimentary agglomerate which is quite prone to significant rockfall. We didn't exactly linger over the drives to get there and back, but there were many breathtaking vistas along the way. We went around pretty much the whole peninsula, driving across through the Matapédia valley to the Baie des Chaleurs and up the coast on the way there, then returning along the South Shore of the Saint Lawrence.

Hiking involved interesting mixes of flat and hilly, open and wooded areas. We saw quite a variety of birds, although not everything made itself visible: boreal forests are dense with spruce, and many small birds hide quite effectively in there. [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora will likely post a species list at some point. The seabirds were particularly noteworthy. Black-legged kittiwakes aren't all that spectacular, looking like Just Another Damn Seagull, but the same can't be said of the gannets, guillemots and murres. Guillemots and murres are mediocre flyers and poor walkers, but very good swimmers; we saw them on and over the water along most of the shore, and nesting on the cliffs of Bonaventure Island and Forillon. The gannets were even more impressive; they're relatives of the well-known blue-footed boobies, and have many cute mannerisms; look forward to lots of pictures from [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora over the next little while! They nest on Bonaventure Island in vast numbers, and range far afield in search of food and nesting material, diving into the water and truly impressive speeds to catch fish from below (i.e. on their way back up). Ravens were much more common there than they are here, which pleased me greatly. We also saw a few interesting animals, including porcupines and a black bear, prompting us not to dally on that part of the trail.

I'm trying to learn to recognize the signs left by various animals, and finding it quite difficult without an experienced mentor. Lacking that, the only way to be sure that one's right is, in many cases, to see the animal leave the trace, and while bears doubtless shit in the woods, one isn't usually around to take notes firsthand!

Finally, a couple of restaurants deserve mention: La Maison du Pêcheur in Percé is excellent; not cheap, but very good food and service, with a great view of Bonaventure Island and the Rocher Percé, gannets diving for their (only slightly fresher) seafood in the foreground. La Brise-Bise in Gaspé is a very nice pub with friendly service, good food, and a cozy, cheerful, homey feel.

All in all, a very good trip, although the credit card took a bit of a beating on it; we'll likely be eating out a little less over the next little while!
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ironphoenix: (slicktory)
( Jun. 18th, 2009 08:23 am)
We're off to Gaspé!

In related news, I expect to be pretty much incommunicado until we get back at the end of the month.
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CanGames was lots of fun, as were the post-Con evenings with [livejournal.com profile] dagibbs and others. My RoboRally game and assorted boardgames were well-received, and I got to play a number of good games of various flavors: two RPG's, a miniatures game, and several boardgames.

lots of CanGames stuff )

A couple of people were sick, so I didn't get any bridge-playing in on Monday, but their health is improving... perhaps there will be another opportunity soon.

[livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora's parents are in town, so the evenings are pretty booked this week, as is this weekend. Lots of good food and good conversation!

Work has its frustrations of course, but also its ego boosts. On one hand, I made a suggestion for how to fix a problem that's been blocking our power supply designer for a few days, and it's showing promise. He commented that I'm one of very few managers he's seen who can actually make useful technical suggestions. On the other, I presented the project status to a director, a VP, and a co-president, and pulled it off well enough to get kudos from my boss (the director). There was quite a lot of preparation for that half-hour meeting!

And finally, my copy of Camerer's Behavioral Game Theory has been returned, and so is available for loan. It's not a light book, mind you. If you're interested, speak up!
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( May. 9th, 2009 05:19 pm)
RoboRally: Ready for playtest.
Various housework: Done.
Old bed: Sold and gone.
New mattress and box spring: Received.
New bedframe: On a truck with a breakdown, going to arrive sometime this evening.

[livejournal.com profile] ironphoenix and [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora: Tired, hungry, and a bit cranky.
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ironphoenix: (slicktory)
( Dec. 16th, 2008 02:35 pm)
I survived this meme!

Okay, if that isn't good enough, I'm getting some things done on my strategic objectives at work, rather than being constantly mired in tactical firefighting. My mini-circuit board for testing a product is coming along nicely, although it is breaking our layout guy's brain... it's smaller than 1"x1", and has a completely screwy connector configuration that only makes sense in a very specific context. It may be our smallest PCB ever, but it's certainly not our simplest!
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Dec. 15th, 2008 12:58 pm)
What, you expect me to post on weekends? Bah... too much else to do for that!

Saturday: Happy couple time with [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora, on a non-workday with both of us in a reasonably low-stress state.

Sunday: Gaming and social time was excellent, as was dinner: a micro-banquet of half-size, half-price plates of pretty good Chinese food. I even got to church that morning, and did a few errands too!

Today: A very productive morning at work, and excellent fettucine alfredo with garlic and peppercorns for lunch.

Yes, food is a recurring theme here!
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Dec. 10th, 2008 10:15 am)
Got a lift in to work, so made it in safely despite transit strike, substantial snow, and substandard street-clearing. En route, we saw a raptor being chased off by other birds; I suspect it was a Sharp-Shinned Hawk.
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ironphoenix: (demon)
( Nov. 21st, 2008 09:35 am)
1: My inbound e-mail is snafu; comment here if there's anything urgent I need to know. Hopefully it will be back up later this morning, but who knows, right?

2: This will likely entertain those of you who like excessive geekery.
More, not less, love is what the world needs right now: Keith Olberman on Proposition 8.

*sigh* The cold wind today was all too fitting to my mood.
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Oct. 15th, 2008 01:55 pm)
This weekend, we finally got fed up with the chintzy, overly flow-restricting showerhead Minto installed in our apartment when they were managing our building, and splurged a whole $27 on a new one with a wide "rain" spray.

SO. AWESOME.

If you don't see [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora and/or me for a week or two, check the shower.
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Oct. 4th, 2008 02:07 pm)
[livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora: We need to get a new fan for our computer... this one's falling ap--
Offstage, stage left: RRRRUMBLE-THUD!
[livejournal.com profile] ironphoenix: Err, what was that? Goes to investigate, then returns. Um, speaking of falling apart, that was the hall closet.
Exeunt omnes stage left, hurriedly. The computer and its fan stay behind.


[livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora returns home with a new, $600+ zoom lens for her camera.
[livejournal.com profile] ironphoenix: So this would be an A-one, kick-ass time to ask how much I can spend on games on the bulk order, right?
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Sep. 7th, 2008 09:44 am)
Tuesday: A good space battle in [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb's Star Wars RPG... FTW!

Wednesday: A fun evening and even a small art project with [livejournal.com profile] ilanikhan!

Thursday: Advanced class at aikido, at which I slightly injured a thumb by getting it caught in a friend's hakama while he was doing a pin... it's already mostly healed. This was followed by a very pleasant evening alone with [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora, who was very happy about something recently loaned to us... thanks, O Unnamed Person!

Friday: Steak and lobster with my parents, who just got back from the Maritimes... yum!

Saturday: Stimulating and pleasant conversation and apartment-viewing with [livejournal.com profile] jagash, then meeting in-laws at the airport, housework, and dinner at The Keg Manor... more yum!

Sunday: Company party at Montebello... leaving now!
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Aug. 29th, 2008 11:01 am)
So, what have I been up to?

Work is interesting lately: we have a stability problem in a design, and it's a tough nut to crack: after three solid weeks of five people working on it, we're beginning to see glimpses of the underlying cause, but we haven't solved it yet. Working on this stacks with my project management work, so I'm a busy raven these days. [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora is still working there on contract, so it's good to see her during the days occasionally. Having today off, I figured it would be a good time for an update!

The social life has been pretty good, between various games (including last night's poker game with assorted cow-orkers) and various get-togethers and chats with good and close friends. (More on that in a later post, perhaps.)

Aikido is a long, slow business. A more senior student asked me recently how my aikido is coming along and I answered, "I don't know; I come, I practice, I come, I practice."1 I'm really not the person to judge how good my own technique is. Subjectively, I feel much as I have for quite some time: I can do the movements, but there is so much to work on in the subtleties that I can almost never get it all right at once. There's always something that my mind, which is watching as I practice, points out as being out of alignment, or disconnected, or unbalanced, or lacking focus, or, or, or...

This weekend is pretty open right now; I'll likely be up for some social things; I might even host games on Monday if there's interest.


1: The more senior student laughed and said that she should do that more, so I guess I'm doing at least that much right.
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It seems that with both of us working at day jobs, [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora needs me to gtfo let her have the apartment to herself more in the evenings, so I'm going to be seeking lots of social time.

Work is... well, roller-coastery for me these days. We're accomplishing a lot and there are lots of exciting developments in the product design testing, but because of the schedule pressure, it's hard to keep on top of the multiple streams of activity, and any obstacle in any of them becomes a bigger deal than it otherwise would. Besides my main project, I've become the "expert" on PCB array design, so pretty much every board that goes out these days has a drawing of mine showing how they are to be laid out to get the maximum yield per panel (think of it as getting more identical little shapes from a piece of cloth, or more cookies from a single sheet of dough) and to be easy to handle in assembly. My old project is what [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora is working on, but from the manufacturing test support end; my involvement is mostly limited to occasionally helping to push for the resources needed to support manufacturing (including her) and product verification.

Aikido has been fun lately; I've been going very irregularly, to classes I don't often attend, and practicing with a lot of good partners. Of interest was a recent kokyunage throw which I refer to as "the waltzing throw," in which nage (the person executing the technique) steps inside the arc of a sideways cutting attack, and embraces the attacker, continuing (and possibly accelerating) the movement into a traveling circle, and projects them back the way they came. I was playing with the timing a bit, and reached a point of being able to enter in the moment before the attack completed, so the throw had an effortless, light flavor which both I and my partner (who likes flying!) enjoyed thoroughly.

I'm starting to pull together a few threads for this RPG idea, and create sample characters, NPCs, etc... those of you who've expressed interest, stay tuned!

I've also been doing more DJ stuff lately. I think my creative side is looking for outlets, since I'm doing more managing and less designing in my work these days.

Annnnnd now it's time for bed... I promised [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora the computer at 11, so I'd better stop here, lest there be Trouble!
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Aug. 3rd, 2008 09:04 am)
Anybody out there in LJ-land free and interested in doing something together tomorrow afternoon and/or evening?

If it's one or the other, I'll try to schedule things so that I can make it to aikido (6-7 p.m.), but it's not the number one priority.
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jul. 28th, 2008 10:17 am)
Well, that was a pretty good weekend!

Friday, we got together for dinner, dessert and wandering around with M.L., S.P. (yes [livejournal.com profile] ziggy_b, that S.P.) and his wife G. It was great to see them, since S. and G. don't visit often (they live in Bilbao, in Basque Country).

Saturday, I hosted boardgames, and got a pretty good crowd: [livejournal.com profile] beable, [livejournal.com profile] jagash, [livejournal.com profile] black_cat11, her friend A., [livejournal.com profile] niall_, [livejournal.com profile] donnav, M.M., [livejournal.com profile] iclysdale, [livejournal.com profile] ranisilath, and A. and J. from the Strategy Club came by at various times. We played Caylus, Settlers of Catan, Crokinole, Igel Argern, Mao, and Betrayal at House on the Hill. M.M.'s crokinole board is crazy fast now that he's using an anti-friction wax powder (actually like tiny wax ball-bearings)... pieces glide as though it were an air hockey table, and we had to shim the table legs to level it so that the pieces wouldn't drift.

Sunday, I went to the 9 A.M. aikido class for the first time in a few years. It was a great class, although I had to be careful about hydration, since my body isn't used to that kind of workout before noon. In the afternoon, I did a bit of housework, then [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora and I went walking and birdwatching around the Jack Pine Trail and the Beaver Trail, and took the evening together.

This week, I'm up for doing things with people Wednesday and/or Friday evening, although I want to fit in aikido on at least one of those.
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I'm back in Ottawa, and looking to do social time... anyone free this evening? ETA: success already!

(Also, [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora is looking for intravert time.)

In other news, while walking home from the bus stop, I abruptly realized that there was a skunk about one foot away from me in the bushes along the path, and did not tarry in the vicinity. I didn't even know we had skunks there...
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Or at least, back to the 'net... same thing, right?

vacation stuff )
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ironphoenix: (gull)
( Jul. 6th, 2008 08:35 am)
AFK until next Sunday... y'all take care a' yourselves, 'n ah don't want no swingin' in heah while ah'm gawne!

(Good luck tracking down the reference on that one!)
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jul. 5th, 2008 05:46 pm)
Tomorrow we leave for Hatteras, so I'll be incommunicado for a week... if there's anything you really want me to read before then, reply here or mail me at my doe account Soon!

We went birding this morning, and saw a good variety of species, including 4 lifers for [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora. The most visually striking was the Blue Grosbeak, I think.

Good Mexican food here is generally much easier to find than in Ottawa... even the fast food burrito (Chipotle's) beat most of what I can find back home. *burp* Mmm, frijoles neros!
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jul. 3rd, 2008 08:26 pm)
Or at least, [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora and I have solved our hunger, thanks to a visit with her parents to that bastion of Southern classics, the Cracker Barrel.

Starting at the biscuits and continuing right through to the end of dessert, we went right past "OM NOM NOM" and on into "MWOF MWOF MWOF".

Fed now. Sleep soon. Maybe movie between: [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora acquired a DVD of National Lampoon's Summer Vacation.

Did I mention that when I take holidays from work, I aim really high on the culture scale?
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jul. 3rd, 2008 04:15 pm)
We have safely arrived in Virginia. Our layover in Chicago was whittled down from a comfortable 2-hour lunch break to a 15-minute brisk walk, so we're hungry, but aside from that, the trip went smoothly. I did have a few concerns about the Embraer's landing gear making funny noises on the second leg, but it held up okay on the landing.

We didn't even get too much hassle at the luggage inspection point, although the fellow operating the X-ray machine for our suitcase did have to check with his supervisor about something.
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jul. 3rd, 2008 06:54 am)
Well, after a very pleasant and social long weekend at one cottage, I'm off to another, this time with my in-laws... I'll still be on LJ until Saturday, though!

Ah, la dolce far niente!
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ironphoenix: (slicktory)
( Jun. 19th, 2008 01:46 pm)
Life? Is awesome.

The past weeks have been extraordinarily intense, and mostly in a good way. Work is busy, of course, but it's much bigger, and better, than that.

[livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora and I have been exploring new sides of ourselves and our relationship, and that's been terrific. She's leaping out in several directions at once, including LJ-land (although I think most of her stuff is still flocked). I've had more new experiences, spiritual and otherwise, in the past few months than in any similar period over the preceding 5 years.

I'm realizing now that since terminating the PhD, I am showing a lot less signs of stress, and that's coming out in a very intense social life. To you folks I've been spending time with over the past few weeks, thank you! It's been amazing, and shows promise of keeping on in that vein. (I'm running out of synonyms for "great" here...)

(Also, to you folks I haven't been spending that time with: poke me if you want me to spend time with you; I certainly don't mean to leave anyone out. I've simply been following somewhat of a path of least resistance, and spending time with the people who make it plain that they want to spend time with me, and participate in creating opportunities to do so.)

Yes, I know I'm not being long on specifics here; I may put up a flocked/filtered post with more details, though. (The fact that that's the case may give the curious some clues, but if you don't already know, you'll likely have to ask!) One thing I'm actively working on is being more open and sharing more personal things about myself, so that would be a part of it. It's something I've been a bit reluctant about until now, and a number of events and people lately have synchronistically led me towards breaking out of that habit. I think it's a coping strategy that has outlived its usefulness, since I don't have to be quite as terrified of hurting the people around me with my wants and needs as I once did (or thought I did, at any rate).

Again, to all of you who've been close to me and to [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora over the recent little while, thank you again, very much. (If you have to wonder to yourself whether you're included in that group, then you probably are. If you are [livejournal.com profile] soul_diaspora, then you're at the heart of that group!) It's not often that I've felt this happy and at ease, and a lot of it is due to you.
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ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( May. 23rd, 2008 05:18 pm)
I have officially terminated my PhD program. My supervisor and I discussed what remained to be done, and having come to the conclusion that it's somewhere between 1000 and 2000 hours, and that this would require me to spend some 10 to 20 hours per week for the next year to two years in order to complete it in a reasonable time, it's not going to happen.

How do I feel about it? A bit sad, but a lot relieved. That thing has been stressing me out quite a bit, and now it's gone. It closes a few doors: I'll probably never teach at a university quite the way I originally had in mind, for example. However, I am pretty well-established in a successful career, and I like managing, so I'm not too badly hurt. As much as anything, it's a blow to my ego, but one which I can weather.

What now? Well, I've decided to take a few months to rest and let the facts settle in, rather than leaping onto my next project. I'll start thinking seriously about my next major undertaking in late July, after my vacation.
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