24 December 2008

Trials and tribulations part II

After about 30 hours on the move, we finally arrived in Sweden. And true to the latest trend, the trip was far from simple.

We cleaned out the apartment in Montreal and left for the airport. We each had two large suitcases to check in, and one small carry-on bag each. Arriving at the airport, we used the Air Canada self-service check-in machine. It printed luggage tags and boarding passes for us, but no luggage tags. Only a receipt with the luggage numbers. Odd, but OK. Then we went through the check-in counters, dropped off the bags and proceeded to the gates. Because of traffic jams at the Newark airport, the flight left Montreal about two and a half hours late, leaving us two hours instead of four and a half between flights. OK, so we had to wait a bit, but no problem. Still plenty of time in Newark to catch the next flight. The flight went well and we landed in Newark. There we had to check in again for the second flight with Malaysia Airlines, since we only got boarding passes for the first flight in Montreal. The lady asked for luggage tags. We didn't have any, so we gave her the luggage numbers since it was all we had. She had no clue what that was, but wrote down the luggage numbers on a paper and gave us our boarding passes. We proceeded to the gate and the flight left on time. It was a pretty nice flight. The economy class seating area was quite crowded, being very obviously designed for efficiency rather than comfort. But the seats all had small video screens on the back so you could watch movies while flying. I was bored and couldn't sleep for some reason, so I watched Hellboy 2, Journey to the center of the earth, Wall-E and half of the latest Batman movie. Hellboy was entertaining. In no danger whatsoever of winning Oscars for anything at all, but a fun way to spend two hours anyway. Journey to the center of the earth was probably the most ridiculous movie I have seen in the last decade, with plot holes large enough to drive a boeing 747 through and suspension of disbelief to the point of breaking. Look! Already-cut-and-polished diamonds the size of eggs sticking out of a cave wall! *pluck!* Yeah... In shattering contrast, Wall-E was probably one of the best Disney movies out there. Great story, well made, a bit sentimental and sobby towards the end, as always with Disney movies, but overall a really good movie. Batman I had already seen, it's by far the best of the batman movies made so far.

After flying for 7 hours and 40 minutes we approached Stockholm. We descended for landing, but instead of touching down suddenly took off up again. Apparently the plane had a problem with the landing gear not working and couldn't land. So we circled around for another 30 minutes while the crew apparently managed to fix the problem. The plane made a second approach and landed successfully. We got off the plane and to the customs. It always amuses me to fly to Europe compared to the States. At the US customs you have to fill out all kinds of forms, visa waivers, give fingerprints every time, they take a picture of you, they check your passport and ask questions. "Have you participated in any acts of terrorism recently?" and "Have you operated any weapons of mass destructions lately?" Seriously... Even if someone had, does anyone actually expect them to answer these questions truthfully? If someone is going to nuke something, I very much doubt that they'd have any second thoughs about lying about it at the airport... Landing in Sweden, they look at your passport and go "Yup, you have one. Welcome to Sweden." and that's it.

After the 4 second customs inspection, we proceeded to the baggage conveyor belts. Bags came and went, but our 4 bags did not. I can't say that I was very surprised after the way the transfer was handled at the check-in in Newark... We filed a report about it at the service desk and the guy said they would track down the bags, retrieve them and then deliver them to my address. OK, seems cool. I hope they find them.

It seems the tale of the longboard is not over. The deck is in a package due to arrive in Europe in a month or two, while the trucks and wheels are in a suitcase, probably in the neighborhood of Kuala Lumpur. Jesus christ...

22 December 2008

Trials and tribulations

This here is my Christmas present to myself, a Landyachtz DH race longboard. If you are not familiar with longboards, they are similar to skateboards, only much larger. The wheels on this one are 83 mm in diameter and the board itself is 105 cm long. Longboards come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, with different shapes being more suitable for different uses. This shape is well suited for high speeds and going downhill. Downhill racing on longboards is becoming quite a popular sport, and top speeds can reach 75-100 km/h. Though I doubt that I will be going anywhere near that fast for quite some time yet. I'm going to start by learning how to stand on the board and how not to kill myself with it first. Needless to say, helmets and protective gear are a good idea. I'm going to keep track of my progress with the board here on this blog and see how things go, though I predict there won't be much progress yet for a few months. Half a meter of snow on the ground doesn't lend itself too well for wheels even of this size. But as soon as I can find some dry asphalt streets... Whee! So, to start: I'm 28 years old, I've snowboarded a bunch, but never stood on a skateboard before. After not having done any sports whatsoever in about a year and a half now, I'm quite out of shape and probably about 10 kg overweight. Let's see how things stand come June.

Getting this board in the first place was a ridiculous ordeal, to say the least. I ordered the board over two weeks ago after checking with the guys at the shop how long it would take for it to arrive. They assured me that I would get it with plenty of time to spare. I had been wanting one for a long time, but longboards are quite a bit more expensive in Sweden. I decided to order it here to save a couple of hundred dollars. So I ordered it, and got a confirmation email with a tracking number for the parcel. A few days before it was due to be delivered, I checked the tracking number and found that the destination was listed as Sainte-Adele instead of Montreal. I had ordered the board to be shipped to Gin's place in Montreal, since I wasn't going to be in Ste-Adele any more. I wrote the guy at the shop that I ordered the board from to see what was up. Turns out he accidentally gave FedEx the billing address instead of the shipping address, so the board was headed for the wrong place. In an apologetic email he told me that he had contacted FedEx and corrected the mix-up, and that the board should now be on its way to Montreal. It was supposed to arrive on Monday the 16th. It didn't. I checked the tracking number again, and now it said Tuesday. Again it didn't arrive, and the tracking info said that it had arrived at the terminal in Montreal.

On Thursday I called customer support at FedEx. The lady had no clue where the box was and asked me to call back later. I called back again and talked to a different person. He said that the package was due to be delivered the next day, on Friday. But on Friday I had a bunch of things to do, closing bank accounts, getting rid of a modem and internet connection, finish cleaning out my apartment, etc. so to avoid the risk of missing the delivery, I asked if I could go pick up the package at the terminal instead. He put me on hold for a few minutes, and then returned to tell me that I could go pick it up at the terminal in Dorval. I just needed the tracking number, and the package would be there waiting for me.

So Gin and I left for the terminal. I had an address, but no precise idea about where the place was. We took a bus to Dorval, and found a FedEx office. It was the wrong one, but they gave us a map to the correct place. The one bus was gone and the next one not arriving for quite some time, so we took off on foot. About two hours later, with wet shoes and freezing our heads off, we found the terminal. There was a security guard at the entrance, so I talked to him. He took the tracking number and called a guy in the main building. After a moment, he handed the phone to me. The guy at the other end of the line apologized many times and explained that he couldn't understand why the customer service would tell me to come to the terminal to pick it up, since the package was not there at all, but on board a truck somewhere and impossible to reach. With time running out, I told him that I absolutely had to get the package by the next day at the latest, since I'm leaving the country on Monday morning. He said he would try to find the package and call me later the same day. There was nothing more to do, so we went home again.

At about 8.30 pm the same evening, the guy called me back and said that he had the package, and that I could pick it up at the terminal the next morning. So the next morning we went back there and finally got the package. It took two and a half weeks for it to get from Vancouver to me instead of the one week as the guy at the shop promised. We took the package home and jumped around with glee for a while, riding the board back and forth in the kitchen. Then I started thinking... The board is actually quite big. At 105 x 30 x 15 cm in size and weighing around 7 kg, I started wondering if they would actually allow me to bring it on board the plane. I looked up the airline website, and found that of course it would be impossible. It is way too big and heavy. The only option would be to check it in as a third piece of luggage. Since you're only allowed two pieces of check-in luggage, the third piece would cost me $225. Oh, for fuck's sake... So the cheapest (and only) alternative is to mail it to myself in Sweden. To reduce the size and weight, and thereby the cost of sending it, I decided to take the trucks and wheels off and ship only the actual deck. Naturally, I didn't have any tools to do that with. So I went to Rona, bought a wrench and a screwdriver for about 20 dollars, and took the stuff off. I will need the tools for board maintenance later on anyway, so I figured why not. I packed the deck in a well-padded package, so now it's all ready to ship. It will cost me around 85 dollars to send it. Gah... It better ride like a freakin' dream when spring comes...

I've decided to name the board "Alecto", after one of the furies of ancient Greek mythology. The name means "unceasing" or "implacable". The mythological furies, or Erinyes, were three demonic deities of vengeance, or supernatural personifications of the anger of the dead. They persecuted those who had committed atrocious crimes and punished them by driving them insane. Seemed kinda suitable somehow. This board certainly doesn't give anything away for free.

10 December 2008

Conclusions

So, finally after 2,5 years of working in Ste-Adèle, I have only 3 days left. My last day of work is December 12th, and on the 22nd I'm flying back to Europe with Gin. It's been an interesting 2,5 years, and completely different from anything I imagined when I took the job. Having just graduated with my masters, my plan was to get away from a stale and academic world for a year and do something completely different, and then return and get serious about finding a job in music. I applied for this job in video game QA without really having much of a clue what it was about, and unexpectedly, I got the job. I didn't have anything else to do at that time and I had never been to Canada, so I took the job. On a three week notice I got rid of my apartment, got all my stuff packed, got a flight ticket and moved across the Atlantic.

It was a quite surreal experience to arrive at the Trudeau airport in Montreal, especially since everything happened so fast. I got the job, and three weeks later I started working on a different continent. I landed around 7 pm and it was way warmer than I had expected. Not really knowing much about Canada, I had pictured it as a place pretty far north where there are lots of maple forests, the climate is similar to Sweden and where everybody says "eh" all the time. A closer look at a map later revealed that Montreal is actually over 1000 km further south than the place where I left from... I was picked up by one of the ladies working in HR at that time and taken to my first Canadian home. (Or rather, my first Quebecois home. I learned rather quickly that many Quebecois don't consider themselves Canadian at all. The French heritage is a rather touchy subject it seems.) The place was a nice-looking house in Prévost, and I was to share it with three Germans. I ended up living there for only 3 weeks, after which I moved into another house in Ste-Adèle, much closer to work.

The work was pretty fun. Not really something I saw myself doing for the rest of my life, but definitely different from what I had been doing before. With 8 hour days and almost a complete lack of responsibility, it was a welcome break from an incessant flow of being up to your ears in things you had to do and things you had to remember. Here I could go to work, do my thing, then go home and forget about everything until the next morning. It was an incredible vacation for my brain. But one can only handle so much non-responsibility before one gets bored. At least I did. There was an opening for becoming a Lead Tester, so I applied and got the job. 8 months later I became a training agent, responsible for training all new linguistic testers. The added responsibilities and heavier workload were a welcome change. It was a highly independent position with many varied tasks, and it allowed me to do things pretty much from the bottom up on my own in many ways, which was quite enjoyable. I've always been more comfortable working on my own than in collaboration with someone. Even in 3rd grade I hated the assignments where we had to write essays together with someone else, sharing the task and the work. I much preferred writing the whole thing by myself, even if it took longer. It's not that I don't like working with people - on the contrary, I like it a lot. But (and this is going to sound really snotty) I found very few people whose work I was happy with. Most of them were unstructured, inefficient and slow. Whenever I had to share a task with someone, I found that the quality of the result would have been much better if I had done it alone. The teachers seemed to agree, as I always had higher grades on the assignments that I wrote alone than on the ones where I collaborated with someone. But I digress.

Working here has taught me many things about myself, about others and about people in general. I've learned that I am often too nice to people, allowing myself to be used or taken advantage of. I've learned that given a task that I enjoy and that I have an interest in, I have no problem working 16 hour days for as long as is needed to get the job done well. The challenge is to find something to do that I have an interest in, as I tend to procrastinate a lot if I don't like what I'm doing or if it doesn't interest me.

I've learned that people are much the same no matter where in the world you are. Europe, North America, Asia... Some people are really nice, some people are not. Some people will care about you and treat you well, while others will be selfish bitches who will do anything to exploit you. Some people take their thing seriously and do it well, while others are only looking for an easy way out. Some people have courage, some don't. It doesn't matter if a person is black, white, red, yellow, green or purple with pink dots. A good person is a good person regardless of color. An asshole is an asshole no matter where he's from. That's just life. The really tricky thing is that the assholes usually don't walk around with a sign that says "I'm an asshole".
Being a good judge of character is way harder than it may seem, and I've learned that I'm nowhere near as good at it as I thought. A person isn't necessarily a nice person just because he acts nice, and even after a year, what do you really know about someone? People who have something to hide are often very good at hiding it.

I think I've gotten back the spark to invest myself in something, to look at a task and really dig into it and get it done. That was largely missing before I came here. Most of the time I just wanted to lie down and hibernate for a couple of months and do nothing at all because I was so overloaded with stuff I had to get done all the time and with people pulling me in a million directions all at once. After having seen how shitty things really can get in a couple of different countries now, I think I have a more optimistic outlook on things. I know I can't change the world very much, so I'm not going to let the world get me down too much when things suck.

I've learned not to jump head first into unknown situations. Informed decisions may be less spontaneous and exciting, but when it comes to bigger decisions the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. The consequences of throwing yourself into something without looking could in a very literal sense kill you. There are plenty of opportunities to be spontaneous and daring with things that don't have as much potential for disaster.

27 November 2008

the amazing sparky

I hate metal doorknobs with a passion. For some reason I get an electric shock every time I touch a doorknob at work. I'm wearing the same clothes that I've used since last year and I didn't get shocked before, but I get zapped several times a day now. It's been like that for a bit over a month now, and it's really annoying. I'm starting to get conditioned into being afraid of door handles. Every time I go to open a door, I have an instinctive reaction that makes me pull my hand back just as I'm about to touch the doorknob, along with a sudden flash of fear. It's becoming a reflex to not grab the doorknob. So instead I stand there waving at the doorknob, looking like an idiot, before I finally force myself to grab the handle and get the inevitable static shock. It's quite painful. It's a zap big enough that it can be clearly heard. I sometimes get zapped even through my winter gloves.

And every single door handle at work is made out of metal. Seriously... I can't be the only one who gets electric shocks. Why can't they make the doorknobs out of plastic or wood, or at least coat them with plastic or rubber?

I also get shocks every time I touch cars, unless they have plastic door handles. It's becoming instinctive to never close a car door with my hand touching the metal. Instead, I push it closed by the window glass.

16 November 2008

Under an umbrella

It was a very rainy day today in Montreal. I went to see Quantum of solace with Gin. A pretty good movie, actually. Pretty short for a Bond movie, and not overly gripping, but entertaining from beginning to end. On the way home from the movie theater, we each had our umbrellas up. Mine is a blue one that folds into a package about 10 inches long. The canopy folds into three layers. As we were walking, I noticed that my face and my hair were getting wet. It seemed a bit strange, it wasn't very windy, so the rain should blow up under the umbrella too much. I looked up, and noticed that my umbrella isn't actually waterproof. It keeps most of the rain out, but a fine spatter comes through the canvas. I also noticed some small holes in the seams right were it folds. It was raining under my umbrella too. Not a very good quality for an umbrella...
I noticed during a walk a few weeks ago that there is a shop in little Italy that sells umbrellas of a slightly more unusual kind. They had different shapes that the traditional models, and some of them had nicely atmospheric paintings printed on some of the sections. I might go there tomorrow and see how expensive they are.

My knee is acting up for some reason. I don't remember doing anything in particular, and it was fine last night. But when I woke up this morning I had an intense pain just above my left kneecap. It hurts as soon as I bend my knee and put any weight on it. Odd.
Seems unfair that my knee is hurting without me getting to hurt it while doing something fun at least.

11 November 2008

Oh, for crying out loud...

Obama won. Who'd ha' thunk? I must admit I was quite cynically expecting all the covert dinner table racists, and right-wing extremists to tip the scale in McCain's favor, if ever so slightly, but I'm happy to say I was wrong. Maybe the US (and especially the southern states) aren't quite as stereotypically bigoted as they are sometimes made out to be. Good for them, indeed!

My cynicism wasn't entirely unfounded, though. What an incredible shitstorm of right-wing commentary has been sparked by the fact that Obama won... And in true right-wing nutjob style, most of it is so incredibly far beyond ludicrous that it's hard to even laugh about it. Are these people for real...? I performed a little experiment, just out of curiosity. I saw some blogs and articles talking about how Obama was becoming the next dictator, and about how he was bent on world domination and communism. Gee, I kinda thought communism and world domination by one person were kinda mutually exclusive...? Wikipedia defines communism like this:

"Communism is a socioeconomic structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless society based on common ownership of the means of production and property in general."

Yeah. Doesn't sound like there's much single-person dictatorship going on there...

Some people even compared this election to Hitler being democratically elected in 1917. (Well, actually, Hitler only became the leader of the Nazi party in 1921, became chancellor of a coalition government in 1933, oppressed any resistance with violence and propaganda, and finally took complete power in 1934 after the death of president Paul von Hindenburg, but hey, who cares about accurate facts?) So I googled the expression "Obama dictator". It got 912 hits. How depressing... One famous radio host, Bob Grant, apparently asserted that Obama had created an Obama flag for himself to put up behind him when he appeared in public. Apparently the guy didn't know that the Ohio state flag has a white "O" on it. Whoopsie... Jumping to conclusions? What?

So many people are just outraged by the fact that a not-white person won that it kinda makes me wonder what century we're living in. Nutcases ranting about how he's going to destroy America completely, bring about communism, become a dictator, become the next Hitler, start up a new Gestapo, etc.

For fuck's sake, people... He hasn't even taken office yet! How about giving the guy the benefit of a doubt, and see what he does for a while? I don't care how evil and scheming the guy might actually seem to you, he's not going to abolish democracy, dissolve the senate and imprison the entire house of congress in the next few years even if he wanted to. The guy won the elections, for crying out loud! The majority of the American people actually want him to be president. So how about letting him take a shot at it, and if four years from now you still think that he sucks, then just vote for the other guy. But seriously... Don't start griping about what a bad president he is before he's even started working as one, ok?

21 October 2008

Hot cold

I haven't been able to record any new music for quite a while, since my fuckin' @$%&* bitch of an ex-girlfriend stole my microphone when she moved out, along with a bunch of other stuff. Since she also stole all my money, I was in quite a bit of trouble there for a while just paying rent and getting food, replacing the microphone was pretty much out of the question. Now I'm doing somewhat ok again, and I ordered two new ones. After a crapload of research online, reading forums and reviews, I went for two MXL v67g large condenser microphones. They are fairly cheap low-end mikes, but the general consensus seems to be that they can be quite excellent for recording lower male voices and acoustic guitars. I have a fairly low voice, and I would mostly be recording songs with voice and acoustic guitar through the mikes, so I went for it. What little I've tried them out so far sounds excellent. Unfortunately I managed to catch the horrendous monster-cold of doom the day after they arrived, so I haven't been able to record much right now anyway. But as soon as I get better, I'm going to record a whole bunch of new songs and put them online.

18 October 2008

Natural (s)election

I'm not American by any stretch of imagination, I'm not even from this continent. But I've been following the US presidential elections with some degree of curiosity, and I'm kind of flabbergasted by some aspects of it. Some of the things to come to mind is what seems to be 'inherited political loyalty', where people will vote for, and whole-heartedly support a political party for no other reason than that they and their family always did. There seems to be no brain activity involved in this. They don't seem to care what the party stands for, they probably don't even know what the party stands for. But my pappy always voted for 'em, so I'm gonna vote for 'em too.

*blink blink

WHY? Why in the name of Zeus's hamster would you do something that stupid? If you wanna vote for a certain political party, go right ahead, but for the love of God, at least find out what the party is all about and see if it makes any sense at all first! Don't throw your chance away to actually make a difference and make this planet a nicer place to live! You could be voting for a complete idiot who will make you regret every second of the next couple of decades! Think about what you are doing!

Another thing that stands out like an elephant in a Cessna is the Republican pick for vice president. There's been a lot of debating about whether Palin actually has any more or less experience with governing things than Obama. Among all the information and counterinformation and misinformation and stuff, I have no clue who to believe, and frankly, I don't really care that much. But after seeing the interviews done with Palin, I just can't help to think that no matter how flawed or inexperienced or [insert other negative assessment here] Obama is, please, please, please, please, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease don't let this person become the vice president of the United States of America. Have you seen the interview she did for CNN with Katie Couric? Seriously, this person honestly makes no sense at all. "Oh, but it's all angled to make her look bad because CNN is a liberal dog of the democratic party..." No, seriously. This isn't something CNN angled in any way at all, this is directly out of Palin's mouth, and she just doesn't make any sense. She's completely incoherent, to the point where I was just sitting there with my mouth open staring at the screen and wondering how come the world all of a sudden went completely insane and I didn't notice? What was McCain thinking? Go watch it yourself, it's all over the youtube. Just look up Palin and CNN or Couric or something. It's astounding.

23 September 2008

Post-vacation


Aaah! Today was my first day of work after 10 lovely days of vacation. I had quite the un-eventful vacation, not really doing anything in particular, just chilling out and sleeping a lot at my girlfriend's place in Montreal. I played some guitar, wrote some more music, and just relaxed. Quite nice!

I got back to my apartment yesterday at around midnight, and I've sort of made it a habit by now to just inspect all the corners for spiders before I relax too much. My apartment, being a basement apartment in an old stone house, seems to be a paradise for spiders. I find a new kind of spider almost daily. This time was no exception. I found this grumpy-looking fellow sitting on the wall right next to the entrance. It looks like a tegenaria domestica, or "barn funnel weaver", although it seems abnormally large. Females of this species are normally up to 11 mm from nose to tail, and males are typically much smaller. This fellow is a male, you can tell by the palps, the things that look like long fangs with knobs on the end. But this guy is 13 mm from nose to tail, not counting legs. These nocturnal spiders are very fast runners and very often the culprit in cases where a creepy-looking running spider scares the crap out of someone, but they are actually quite harmless. Although they can give a nasty bite, they are not dangerous to humans and will usually run for cover when someone turns the lights on.

28 August 2008

Moving on

I'm veeeeery tired. Work has been a major pain in the ass lately. I'm training people during the days, and doing linguistic testing on projects in the evenings. What's more, I've been the only tester available to test my language for a month or two now, since the other dude just up and quit. This all results in some pretty long days. I'm really starting to get fed up with it. I'm shuffled from one project to the next, always leaving work with the feeling that I did a shitty job with all of it. It's been quite a while since last time I punched out and felt that I was satisfied with the quality of my work. I'm starting to get the impression that I'm expected to be everywhere doing everything all at once, and I'm not even a tester anymore. Nothing takes the fun out of something as fast as two dozen people yanking your sleeves, constantly telling you that you "have to" do something. Work has stopped being something I enjoy, and turned into something I can't wait to leave every day. It's like I'm always waiting for another day to be over, rather than looking forward to the next one.

This is an all-round stupid situation. I feel like weeks and months are passing by while I'm just waiting for them to pass, and I'm not accomplishing anything at all. So, it's time to move on. My contract runs until christmas, and after that I'm leaving Ste-Adele. Where I'll go, I have no idea. Anywhere far away from this company. Perhaps somewhere else in Canada? Toronto? Vancouver? Maybe back to Europe? England? Spain? Finland? Maybe Australia or New Zealand? We shall see... Between myself and my lovely Gin, we speak Swedish, Finnish, English, German, French, Spanish and Italian, so the language won't be much of a problem. :)

In other news, I finally had my guitar fixed. The neck needed adjusting, and the jack where you plug in the cable was all loose and coming out of the guitar. Annoying that something so simple requires all kinds of special tools, so you can't just tighten it yourself...

31 July 2008

Compact living

I have an apartment of my own now, a very, very small two-and-a-half on the semi-basement floor of a house. It's quite nice, the rest of the house is inhabited by the landlord, a super-cool middle-aged lady who spends most of her free time riding around on her motorbike. She lives on her own, with two gigantic German shepherds and a tiny, white fluffy dog that looks kind of like a Maltese. It's a pretty quiet place, I don't see much of the landlord. The location is awesome, the house is right next to a small river, surrounded by lots of trees of various kinds. I even have my own terrace down by the river.
Only thing I don't quite like is the fact that the apartment is really, really small. There's a separate kitchen, a livingroom/bedroom, and a bathroom with a shower cabin. The kitchen has about 4 square meters of usable space, and the other room maybe about 15, but because of a long and narrow shape, and with all the furniture in the room, I'd be hard pressed to find a spot on the floor where I can actually lie down straight. I also have a nasty habit of accumulating stuff that take up space, like guitars and a keyboard, so the place is quite crowded. But hey - no place is totally perfect, and for the price I'm paying, this place is awesome.

I took my girlfriend to a spa last weekend in Morin-Heights. Aaaah... It was great! The place has all kinds of cool and relaxing stuff; a dry sauna, a steam sauna, jacuzzis of different temperatures, massages, etc. You can go to the spa just for a day for 30$ on weekdays and 35 on weekends. I recommend it, it's quite nice! They also have all kinds of packages of different prices. The food was good, but the restaurant was a bit sneaky. If you get a package deal, some meals are included, like the dinner. But when you get to the dinner and have a look at the menu, you notice that this, this, and that is either not included, or you have to pay extra for them. Also, the first impression of the spa is a bit weird when you get there and realize that it's located right next to the highway. Fortunately, you couldn't hear anything of the traffic, and once you're inside, you don't even see the highway at all, so it really didn't bother me at all. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought that I was in the middle of a forest. Morin-Heights is also a pretty cute little place, with restaurants, bars and shops within a 5-10 minute walk from the spa. So if you have a few bucks to spare and you need to relax, this is not a bad place to go.

When we got to the spa, there was a lady who showed us around and explained what all the different things were. She told us that for relaxation, you should spend about 10 minutes in a hot sauna, then cool off in cold water for a few seconds, and then just sit around and relax for 10 minutes or so. Well, being of Finnish origin, and having more or less grown up in saunas since I was old enough to not drown in a bucket, I think that 10 minutes in a sauna is for wusses. So I stayed in there for about half an hour, then took a cold bath and went back in for another good 15-20 minutes or so. It was wonderful! I could easily have stayed in there for another hour. However... For my Spanish girlfriend, who is not quite as accustomed to spending hours on end in 80+ degrees Celsius saunas, I think it was maybe a little bit much. She started looking kind of dizzy and had to step outside. But after cooling down for a bit and drinking a bunch of water, she was fine again and jumped into the colder one of the two jacuzzis.

22 July 2008

Hot dog dinners

Things are looking up, methinks.

I've been dating a nice girl named Gin (to be pronounced [ghin], not [djin]) since around the end of May, and it's going quite nicely. She has an apartment in Montreal, so I'm going there on weekends as often as I can, and she comes up here to see me on weekends sometime too. I've known her since I first came here, but we've just been colleagues until now.
We went to see Quebec City a couple of weeks ago. It's a really nice city, especially the old part. Perhaps a little touristy, but oh well. The buildings are nice, and the food is good. We spent a weekend there just looking at stuff.

I'm not entirely dead broke anymore either. I've managed to pay off all the bills that the stupid fucking @$#%^ left me with when I kicked her out, so I don't have that hanging over my head anymore either. I'm in no danger whatsoever of being rich anytime soon, but at least I don't have to crack open the plastic mug and count 418 pennies so I can go buy the cheapest kind of hot dogs and pasta to eat any more.

This whole mess with my ex fascinates me in some way. I just can't for the life of me understand the trade-off inside your head in a situation like that.

"Hmm. I'd sure like some drugs, because life sucks. But if I do drugs, I'll have to steal money from my boyfriend, leave him with thousands of dollars in unpayed bills and leave him in debt because of me. But I'd sure like some drugs... Bah, screw him, I'm gonna do the drugs."

How do you justify something like that to yourself? I payed all the bills, worked all the time, borrowed money from friends and parents, made sure we never ran completely out of food, payed the rent, and she somehow decides that it's OK to just completely fuck me over. I'm not trying to sound like a saint or anything, I'm no more perfect than the next fellow, but it amazes me to no end how incredibly selfish you would have to get to do something like that.
It fits the escapist profile of a drug addict, though. Nothing is ever your fault. Life sucks, things go wrong, but no matter what, it's never because of something you did. There are no consequences to your actions, everything just happens to you because life is unfair.

Well, guess what? If you start stealing and borrowing money from everyone you know, never paying it back, and lying all your friends straight to their faces, it's not a coincidence that you don't have any friends left after a while. It's your own damn fault. I suggest growing a spine and actually dealing with stuff. Seems to work decently for the rest of the world.

15 July 2008

Fresh start

Ok, let's breathe some life into this blog again. Seems like the last couple of posts have all been attempts of revival for this place, but too much stuff has happened in the last six months, I just haven't had any time for writing.

So, I think I left off as a fairly newly appointed lead tester, with plenty of stuff to do at work. A lot has happened since then, it's almost comical in some way. These past six months have probably been the most stressful time of my life so far. Let's start from the top.

I had a girlfriend, with whom things weren't really going all that great. She had no financial brain at all, often resulting in me paying the bills and her spending money in accordance to a budget she thought she should have had. The Danish dude was still living in the house, and the three of us would share the bills, groceries, etc. keeping track of who payed what and then settling the bill at the end of each month. The Danish dude left and went back to Denmark in February, and my girlfriend insisted that we don't get someone to replace him, keeping the house only for the two of us. The house was pretty expensive, and for only two people it was a bit of a stretch. And since she never payed me back for any of the bills or groceries, it was even more of a stretch for me.

Things went downhill between us quite fast. It wasn't great to begin with, lots of fights, her spending money on stupid stuff, while I was working overtime and borrowing money to be able to pay bills and buy food. She was clinically depressed and was seeing a psychiatrist in Ste-Agathe. She attempted suicide once, I forced her to the hospital, but they sent her home again after she refused treatment, and her psychiatrist decided that she was no danger to herself. Over the next three or four months she would try to commit suicide several times more, almost using her suicide attempt as a weapon against me in fights, but I quite physically wrestled the pill can out of her hand, so she didn't succeed.

Her expenses were quite high, she claimed that her car was leaking gas again and that it was costing her a lot of money. I also noticed that money was disappearing from my bank account, so I went to the bank and asked them to investigate. They reimbursed me for the money that had disappeared mysteriously and said they would check things out. More money disappeared, even out of my wallet, and I started getting suspicious. One morning, the livingroom door was open when I got up, and money was missing again. My girlfriend insisted that someone must have snuck in while we were asleep, taken some of the money (not all of it) out of my wallet and left. Yeah. What kind of burglar sneaks in, leaves all the valuables and takes only part of the money in your wallet. Both doors were bolted from the inside, so how would someone get in? One evening she goes to get some snacks and is gone for an hour. By now I am pretty much sure, so I check my wallet and find that she has replaced my bank card with her own. I head down to the hotel bar and find her walking out of the front door. She tells me her car overheated and she had to stop and wait for it to cool down. Right. I took my card back from her and broke up with her there and then.

There were no expenses. She was doing drugs again, stealing money from me and using it to get crack. She was the one who had been stealing money out of my account and my wallet. She had stopped taking her medication and started doing drugs instead. I was borrowing money from family and friends and working all the time to be able to pay all the bills, while she was stealing money from me and smoking it up. I even took a cash advance from work, which didn't really help much. She admitted everything to me and got even more depressed. She attempted suicide again, this time taking well over a lethal dose of ibuprofen and locked herself up in the bedroom. When I notice, she refuses to open the door, so I kick it in, drag her out of bed and out into the car and get her to the hospital. She makes phone calls to her father, telling him I'm kidnapping her and beating her.

Ibuprofen is a really, really stupid kind of pill to try to commit suicide with. It doesn't kill you right away, it causes severe liver damage over a period of time, which eventually causes liver failure a month or two later, and your body literally poisons itself with toxins and you die a very slow and painful death over the course of about three or four days. Once your liver is damaged, there is no antidote.

She didn't die, the only thing that saved her was the fact that she was fat. 7 grams can cause irreparable liver damage in a normal person. She took over 10 grams, along with some other pills and cocaine. But she's fat, so the concentration in her system was lower, under the lethal dose. She refuses treatment again, and the psychiatrist again decides that she is no danger to herself and releases her. I will never understand this. After two trips to the hospital for attempted suicide, the psychiatrist decides that she is no danger to herself. What kind of fucking idiot of a psychiatrist...? The psychiatrist recommends that she get out of this relationship with me, because it is obviously a "psychologically and physically abusive relationship."

What the fuck...? Abusive relationship? She spent all that time, all those visits to the psychiatrist just avoiding any of the issues she had problems with, and made up lies about me instead?

Finally, she moved out to go stay at her father's place and I found a new apartment to move into. She left owing me close to 6000 $, I'm not expecting to get any of it back. If she has any money, she will smoke it or spend it on alcohol. She certainly won't go out of her way to pay me back.

I cannot explain how much resentment and hatred I have towards this woman. I spent more than a year and half with her, doing everything for her. She payed me back with lies, backstabbing and by stealing everything I had just to support her addiction. After more than two years in Canada, I have less than I had when I came here, and I'm not just talking about money.

A fresh start from zero, I guess.