Browsing Category: Rants and Raves

Rants about anything, most were from my “Thing’s That Annoy Me” posts.

Russell Stover Cookie Dough Confection

Russell Stover Cookie Dough Confection

This is the first of an eight-part weekly series that I am going to try out unusual foods and review them.

This weeks item is from Russel Stover Cookie Dough in Milk Chocolate. It was about a dollar from Giant Tiger. It consists of one 28g piece of candy. Nutritionally it was (past tense since I have already eaten it 😉)130 calories, has 5g fat, 17g sugar, 3g other carbs, 1g protein, and 2g other.

As I open the package the item is a weird shaped glob without the pre-told story of the packaging is not anything corresponding with Christmas beside reindeer guano.

It was nice and soft to bite into but the glob of cookie dough became overwhelming and hard to finish.

I would not recommend this flavour, I would suggest solid chocolate or marshmallow varieties. As it is a marshmallow world at Christmas time.

My Day on the Anthem of the Seas

My Day on the Anthem of the Seas

This tale begins about a month ago. I received a marketing email from my favourite travel company Maritime Travel. It offered a talk about the offerings by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, lunch, and a tour of the Anthem of the Seas when it was in port on September 13th. I had never received one of these invitations before but was in envy of those who did. I was kind of in an when I showed it to a colleague, her eyes lit up and said: “I’m your plus one right?”

So, I replied back that I was interested and quickly go a reply back that I was on the list.

About a week before the trip, I received an email with the details that basically confirmed the times.

Meet at the “Port of Saint John” by 9:30 am. There were no specifics. Let’s face it, if I can find a ship in San Juan, Saint John would be a walk in the park. I mean how could you miss it on a beautiful sunny day.

When we got to the terminal the commissioner let us into the terminal and gave us directions to go to the furthest door. We passed through the “Fundy Cruise Market”, which carried all the typical local wares. (Including Maple Syrup). Once in the terminal, it was a flutter of activity with people being directed to their excursions or tours to see the city. Once at the far gate as directed we were then pointed to the group of people sitting at the near door. I then proceeded to the guy checking off names from the list.

We waited there for about a half hour before proceeding up to the ship. This was an incredible people-watching opportunity to see the different types of tourist from the ship and to judge them. Especially the “I’m wearing the T-shirt from my last port” guy.

We were then led up in the group to the security gate, after checking ID they gave us a ship pass and then we were directed to the security gate. The first sign this was not an NCL ship was the lack of “Washie Washie Happy Happy” although there were hand sanitizer stations everywhere. The metal detector part went really fast. I am really good at that even at airports.

The ship itself is like I giant beautiful mall and hotel at sea. There are so many things to do and things to see. It is also well suited for winter in New York(ish) as most of the pools have the ability to be glassed in and there are incredible pools on the front solarium where you can get incredible views.

There are also tons of exercise options from basketball, running, soccer, free falling, wall climbing, roller skating dance hall, and gym.

There are also enough bars that you probably never have to use the same one twice. Although there is even a self-serve bar that has a robot make the drinks for you.

After the tour, we were seated for dinner and there was a mini menu of some of the best dishes on the ship. I ordered the Swordfish which I never knew I would love.

The main discount was pretty much just access to the on-ship Next Cruise desk what had some deals. After we wandered the ship a bit more and took some more photos.

If the economics worked out I would like to travel on this ship or another RCL ship sometime. This ship is incredible. The elevators even have a floor pattern that tells you what day of the week it is. The ship speaker music in common areas was really pleasant and diverse.

If at First You Don’t Succeed… Build a Museum

If at First You Don’t Succeed… Build a Museum

Shall we continue where we left off, attempting to sleep—

Update at 2:24am #1 stoped snoring and #4 and #6 are sharing #6 and double “bean flicking” #FML

Facebook Post

After the above comment to the Facebook post in my last post, I passed out with exhaustion regardless of the hostel situation.

Buzz!!! Buzz!!! Buzz!!!… it’s 5:45am!

That meant it was time to get up. For once I was prepared with my go bag and clothes for what I needed for the day. Went to the shared washroom, brushed my teeth, and ran (hobbled quickly with only one ankle) to the tram stop a few blocks down. It was a brisk and crispy morning as the sun was already rising over the buildings in the square. I arrived several (23) minutes before the first train. (or so I thought) to the train.

After determining that I had time, I went to Costa to get coffee. (Sorry, Closed) The coffee shop across the street.  (Sorry, Closed) The literally 15ish coffee shops in this college/young urban district of town. (Sorry, Closed) Needless to say, I was going to get on this tram coffeeless.

The tram arrived and I got on several stops and I was at the train station. Up the escalator and I was in the hall. The station is not the fanciest in Europe but the crowds flow efficiently and you get to get on trains. Although, I ran out of time to get coffee.

It is now time to seek out new life and new civilizations aboard the Starship Enterprise. (err… Seek out new adventures and an old civilization on the train service “Enterprise”.)

Okay, let’s level with you all. The only reason I’m on this train going to this particular city over Waterford, Limerick or Cork is the train was the “Enterprise”.

So I am on the train and my name is on the LCD display above the seat, this is so unlike the paper slips I am used to on Via Rail and Amtrak trains. The train is on its way and I am off to country 34, Northern Ireland to see the city of Belfast. I slept most of the way there.

Now you are probably asking why Belfast, there must be other cool things in Northern Ireland. Which is very true the original plan after taking the Enterprise was that Belfast would be boring and I love the catchy song “Daytrip to  Bangor” so I would connect to the train that goes to Bangor for the day and get a picture. As I looked at the train map, I saw the second stop was named Titanic Quarter. Then looking at the map I found that there was a Titanic Museum and that was the death of Bangor.

At the train station, there are signs that it is free to get on a city bus to transfer to City Hall square in downtown where the bus hub, main tourist bureau, and coffee shops are. At the square, the bus stopped in front of the coffee shop so that was stop number one. Then I picked up a day bus pass and got on the bus to the Titanic Museum.

The museum is a huge and beautiful building on the waterfront with lots of crowds like you would expect to see at any tourist area/trap. One highlight was the Contiki Bus driving by, I think there is a picture from my 2016 tour on the side of the bus.

The museum is quite pricey but there is a lot to see and it is a very interactive experience. It starts with the history of Ireland, then the history of Belfast, the history of shipbuilding, then the Harland & Wolff company, about Ocean-liners, then the White Star Line.

After that multimedia exhibit then it goes into the design and construction of the ships, and more specifically the Titanic. It then leads up to a big window that overlooks the slipway where the Titanic and Olympia where built. Then you enter a room with a virtual experience on all walls flying through the ship. Then a history on how Marconi operated the telegraph system on ships, filled by the Titanic’s sea trials.

After this, it was about how people, interacted and stayed on board the ocean liners and the whole class system. Then it was followed by the maiden voyage where for the first time you learn, the ship doesn’t make it and sinks after hitting the iceberg.

Then it goes into more exhibits on the rescue, and how the Titanic is misunderstood by popular culture. The final exhibit is about the underwater drones that found the wreckage of the Titanic. At this point, it was getting later in the afternoon and was disappointed by the gift shop. After I exited, there was a perfect moment, there was a young musician whose parents were recording her playing the Titanic Song on the Theremin in front of the Titanic sign.

Upon going back to city centre, I just walked around in pain and exhaustion taking as many pictures of things in the Tourist map that I could before running out of time and getting a bus and barely making it back to the train station.

On the way back, I admired the beautiful views and mainly wrote the first post in this series of post on this trip.

As we now end this I have just arrived back to Dublin for the most memorable night of the trip.

Europe 2018 #33 – Part 3

Europe 2018 #33 – Part 3

After a well rested night, it is now my birthday. I slept a bit late and left the hostel to wander around Dublin. The most important first stop was the local Costa Coffee shop across the plaza, and to pump up some energy for the day, and to Facebook creep what was going on in the world.

After coffee, I went to the waterfront (river the passed through the city) and walked towards the area that the hostel said was where all the tour tickets could be brought about a 25-minute walk away. I took a lot longer taking photos and resting due to my limitations every couple of blocks.

It was at this point that it hit me that, I was near no one I knew, in a place I knew nothing really about. This got me really sad. The first bridge I came across I thought was the famous (according to my map) Ha’penny Bridge. I Facebook Live posted a video going across it. (Which had no viewers.)

Then as I continued on to the next bridge it had a sign that it was the Ha’penny Bridge. It looked cooler but yet less impressive and had about a half dozen homeless sleeping on it. I decided not to cross it. I then noticed a little shop that sold souvenirs and I dropped in and picked up a little Leprechaun and a t-shirt. This shop also sold passes to the hop on buses so I picked one up here.

Outside the shop, I was waiting for the bus with two guys who were waiting for their wives to finish shopping and picking up tickets to a dinner show. The guy warned his wife that they were going to miss their bus. (Which they did.)

Although I wanted to see the ladies reaction when they got back, I got on the bus. It only went one stop and then we were told we had to get off and could get on the bus waiting in front. Now that first bus had a recorded audio tour, the second bus had a live audio tour and the guy was hilarious.

I spent the next 3 hours going around Dublin on that bus not wanting to hop off because I loved that driver. My plan was to get off at the Guinness Brewery but opted not to, to stay on the bus. I would also point out that the brewery has the strong burnt popcorn smell. As I approached the hostel, I got off the bus and recharged my phone and rested for a half hour.

After the rest , I went next door to the Jameson’s Distillery. This is one of the best alcohol attractions I have ever seen, on Heineken in Amsterdam was better. It does the typical, here’s the history, here’s how it’s made, here’s how each ingredient and process matters, here’s why we’re best, here’s the gift shop and finally the grand finale, here’s the bar. I still considered going to Guinness but met so cool Belgians and wanted to try more whiskey.

Closing in now on the late afternoon, I was stumbling out of the distillery. (Let’s pretend it was because of my bad ankle.) I then walked across the bridge and towards the Viking castle area and then was intending to make it to the Temple bar area. However, I needed to drain from the distillery and came across a restaurant/pub with an “Authentic Irish” menu and decided it was a fitting place for my birthday dinner.

After dinner, I was looking for the bus stop that was on the map and only after it was too late that I was on the wrong parallel street. So I walked along the river, crossed at the Ha’penny bridge, and then retired to the hostel, had another Guinness at the bar, and then “called it a night.”

The quotes on that last part are because it was an interesting night. I had an early morning to catch the train to Belfast. I posted this to Facebook at about 12:30 am:

Picture this situation, 4 bunk bed sets, two on each wall, numbered 1-8. I’m in #8 and the world record holder for loudest snorer is in #1 (90% sure it is a she). #3 and #5 are taking up the sofas in the lobby. #7 is about to lose his anger management chip.

MoCo Downtown– The Best Italian Style Restaurant in New Brunswick

MoCo Downtown– The Best Italian Style Restaurant in New Brunswick

The following is a repost of my review for MoCo Downtown that appears on TripAdvisor.

I was there for the first time on Saturday and I was floored by how wonderful this gem of a place was. I ordered the Sussex Sausage Risotto and for a side paired it with the Sliced Brussel Sprout with Prosciutto and Pine Nut side.

It was so creamy and spicy and flavourful that it blew me away. The Brussel Sprouts we very salty, but that is exactly what you would get in Italy. Unlike many Italian restaurants that simply mimics what you would get in various parts of Italy, this place cooks like a Tuscan or Venetian chef would with access and highlighting of New Brunswick ingredients.

The food was so good but I would not want to not mention how friendly the wait staff was and how efficiently the kitchen was putting out plates. Definitely going to go back and explore more of this menu.

Anti-Anxiety

Anti-Anxiety

Back in June, I was in a position that I was struggling with motivation to do anything. There was constant nervousness about falling and not able to get up on my own and I was doing very little.

After talking with my doctor, based on online research, I read that it was a common side-effect of Gabapentin. A common reoccurring solution was to also take a mild dose of Sertraline.

Once I started taking the Sertraline, things improved a lot. I started doing more and focusing on my exercises. I also stopped crying myself to sleep every night.

Now fast forward to early this year, I was taken off the Gabapentin. It was causing weight gain and as I learned, most of the remaining pain was a side-effect of it. Which left me with just the Sertraline.

As I soul searched it really wasn’t making me feel any less lonely, or even helping with dating. In fact, it made me less motivated to go out and meet people. I went to a dance for a friend, but couldn’t bring myself to go in. My friend was having a special night and the Arcade Bar, and I struggled with motivations to go. I’ve been really tired a lot. I couldn’t even go to comedy shows that I loved.

I would make it to the parking lot and then give up. Staying in a cloud of loneliness. I haven’t been even able to write these posts. So now my prescription is over and I have stopped taking it.

Today I even waxed my car today that I lacked the motivation to do.

Starting the Getaway

Starting the Getaway

The second day of the trip started on a beautiful sunny day. Everyone was talking about how cold it was from a cold front and it was still shorts weather for me. I woke up at 7 and went downstairs for coffee in the lobby and a Guava Cheese Danish that was to die for. I returned to my room and watched the best of Sunday morning TV. It was one of the cooking shows where I learned that the Agave syrup I like in my tea at David’s Tea is the same plant that is used to make Tequila.

I had booked the early embarking at 10 AM online in the check-in to the cruise-ship. However, when I got to the hotel 12 noon was the only shuttle time left. Since the shuttle was the cheapest option, I reserved it. The hotel also had a noon checkout time, so I took a long shower and relaxed until 11:30 when I went downstairs and got on the shuttle.

Miami looked not much different from San Juan, and I was not wowed to want to spend more time there. When we arrived at the port, I dropped of my bag to the longshoremen who stated adamantly and more forcefully then San Juan or Charleston the “A tip is expected for this!” Therefore, I gave him $1.

I walked to the door to the terminal and after about a 4-minute queue I entered the main hall. I was asked if I needed a wheelchair but I declined and limped into the hall. I filled out the health form and then went to the handicap line where you can sit down and wait. It took about 15 minutes to get checked in and I got my ship key card proceeded up the escalator and had my photo taken (that wasn’t available at the photo shop on the ship.)

Then I boarded the ship, after my first encounter with the NCL “Washy Washy” team. I was hungry and the rooms were not ready yet so I went to the buffet and sampled a bit of as much as possible. I sat on the side watching Miami Beach and had a great view while joining another couple for lunch.

As I finished lunch the room was ready so I went down to settle in and get off my feet for about an hour. Then it was time for the safety drill. My spot was A5 in the main theatre since it was down steps the crew said I could sit with the A11 people at the top. It was hilarious all the people being told they couldn’t bring their drinks into the safety demonstration. It went by in less than half the time as Carnival’s demonstrations.

After the safety drill, I did some exploring of the ship and then made it to the Mojito bar where it just happened the Single/Solo cruiser group was meeting. After talking to some people, a group of 6 of us ditched the Solo group and went to dinner at Taste. The service that night was the slowest of the entire cruise we arrived at 6:30pm-ish and finished the third course after 9 pm.

After the dinner, I went to the Welcome Aboard show which was really good. Especially the comedian Dean Edwards, he was incredibly funny stereotyping the type of people on cruises.

After the show, I called it a night and had an amazing sleep.

A Return To My Happy Place

A Return To My Happy Place

For those of you that love my travel stories, this is the beginning of a new series of them.

Once again I visited a new travel agent and had no idea where I was headed. The only criteria were the most affordable cruise to where I can add the most new countries to my list. This resulted in the Norwegian Getaway going to Rotan, Honduras, Harvest Cay, Belize, Costa Maya México, and Cozumel México.

Checking in for the flight was different this time and in the end a lot easier. Online you need the address of the Hotel you are staying at, in the past this was only asked at the airport. The hotel I decided on was the Holiday Inn near the airport. I picked that based on price, that they had an airport shuttle, and they arrange shuttles to the port. Miami is very well organized as a home port town.

On Saturday (Dec 9th), I woke up really early and had to do laundry and pack. I had meant to do that on Thursday night but for no good reason, that just didn’t happen. My wonderful sister drove me to the airport, dropped me off, and took off to enjoy her vacation from me.

I used the mobile kiosk to print my boarding pass. I always prefer a paper pass over a mobile version as it is convenient for going through security and is a great place to stick your baggage tag stub. I then checked in my checked bag. I brought my medium sized one. Getting through security took about 90 seconds, the Saint John Airport is great for that. The airport is having renovations and now has a shop inside of security that offers duty-free on international flights.

Getting on the flight there was a cheap woman with her maximum allowed bag trying to fit it in the overhead bin. The plane was a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 that has smaller upper bins. Let’s face it however you try to angle it, it is never going to fit. The maximum allowed size is for placing under the seat in front of you. Which is where she shoved the bag and grumbled all pissed off that she has none of the very little leg room left for the next just over two hours.

The flight was mainly uneventful, I took the orange juice on this flight. I was sat next to a young group of women off to Toronto for some “holiday retail therapy”.

Arrived at Pearson and very efficiently found the security for transfers to USA flights which is a very long string of people checking boarding passes and ID. After going through the scanners and kiosks it took me about an hour from arrival to passing security and US Immigration. The guard asked where I was going and scoffed that seeing Rotan is not real Honduras.

I had dinner at an Italian place until it was time for the flight. People at the airport do not care/respect the Zone boarding system as soon as there was an announcement that they were starting pre-boarding soon it was almost all 240 people in a line. My Zone was Zone 4 so I just sat until most of the line was gone.

They were checking bags and people were being forced to check and bag that had the “fat zipper” unzipped. I got through no problem and was seated next to a teenage anime artist travelling with his family to Miami. The Miami airport was very easy to find the baggage pickup. For the first time in 3 trips to the USA, my bag arrived with me. I was thrilled even if I was a nervous mess over it being one of the last bags to arrive.

Finding where the hotel shuttle was you get led by the way finders out the second level door to a curb. There is no marking where each hotels shuttle stops and you see them all go by and then you flag down your hotel’s vehicle. After an hour I was basically tired and went screw this, went downstairs to the taxi stand and for only $13 got a blue taxi. This was the best decision ever. You can pay with a card on the tablet screen on the back of the passenger seat.

When I arrived, I checked in and the gentleman was the friendliest person I have ever met and really seemed to enjoy his job. I found my room “507” and settled in for the night. The room was spacious and well laid out and clean.

I fell asleep and that concludes this part of the story.

“Full Out” Review

“Full Out” Review

To say that I would never watch a gymnastics movie, while that. Is simply not true. I loved the movie “Stick It” and must have seen that movie dozens of times. The movie I just saw was “Full Out”. This is based on the true story of Ariana Berlin. Early on in the movie, she gets into a car accident with her mother. After a period in a coma and severe injuries, she is faced with not initially walking and is in the hospital dealing with physiotherapy.

Having her whole dreams taken away and her meaning in life. She initially struggles to find meaning in life and where her new life will take her. This road leads to hip-hop dancing and eventually back to gymnastics with a warm and fuzzy ending.

Given what I have been through I can really relate to her struggles. Even before this I never really had big goals and was waiting for inspiration. Now I feel like I need to do something and want to find that something but many possibilities a beyond large rolling Austrian Alps, but a big rocky Swiss Alps now.

This movie is available on Netflix and worth a watch.

Mobile Ordering

Mobile Ordering

Today I visited the local coffee shop in the mall. The line was very long and the people started to appear frustrated or tired, but there was the pot of gold at the end of the line to make it all worthwhile. Correction, it was coffee, not gold but in the eyes of the patrons waiting it was more valuable than gold.

Meanwhile, I enter and walk past the line and pick up my coffee there waiting for me and leave to sit in the mall and watch the people and write this. The people watching began before I could even leave the restaurant. The scowl of disgust on their faces as I did not lime them join in the ancient, or present-day British, the tradition of fair queuing.

I participated in the modern “there’s an app for that” method of placing my order using my phone and picking it up. Although I used an app this is nothing really new. For all my life you could call up and arrange for pick-up of take-out restaurants.

Today’s purchase was at Tim Horton’s using their app. When it comes to ordering their app is pretty good. It is very straightforward and adding modifications is simple. The payment process and choosing a restaurant is also very intuitive. The downside of the app is that the specialty muffins are not in the app and some instructions like double toasting bagels are not there.

However, they are making lots of improvements and when I first used the app you could not have 1/2 sugar. There is a promotion now where you can get a free coffee (Regular, Dark, or Decaf) after 3 orders by the end of the year.

Another app I use regularly is the Cineplex app. This app is good for purchasing tickets, but the number of options to buy a ticket can be daunting. The perk, however, is not waiting in line for the kiosks and 50 bonus Scene points (1/20th of a movie).

The McDonald’s Canada app is of similar quality to Tim’s and is really straightforward to make a complex or simple order.

The final shopping app review has to be the Esso Speedpass+ app. This is really convenient as you do not have to stand outside and swipe your fuel savings card, then your points card, then choose a car wash option, then the on-screen payment. It is simply done on the app with very little effort.

Buying My First Car

Buying My First Car

As it was becoming clear that I needed to get motivated to go to work. It was also clear that getting up to catch a bus was not really physically possible given my state. I was going to need a car. I had set in my mind from two years earlier that I wanted a Mazda 3. That was going to be my car, but I wanted to test drive others first. Since I was not convinced of my abilities I wanted to take the first round to sit in the cars and then shortlist a few to test drive.

The car buying experience if not the most friendly for those that don’t know exactly what you want. The experience typically goes like this. You enter the dealership, you get greeted by the fastest moving sales guy. Then you blow at least a half hour as he gets your information, then starts suggesting features, and financing options before you even look at a car. Then you only get to look at what the sales guy wants you to look at. Then you realize the car is missing some of your must-haves, then the blow off that the must-have is not that important doesn’t work well anyway or, promises it can be added after-market when it really can’t. Then you find one you kind of like and they never end up telling you what it costs, only payment amounts that leave out a few key things that get added when you close the deal.

My main feature need was I didn’t want leather seats. I also needed an auto-dimming rearview mirror and automatic transmission for physical reasons.

The first stop was Saint John Hyundai, the sales rep was new and made it known that he was not on commission yet and was going to look out for me. He then showed me a Sonata, it was nice. However this is where I learned I had another physical limitation, I couldn’t have a pedal emergency brake.

Then I wanted to look at the Accent but the sales rep insisted on the Elantra first. The Elantra would have worked, but the lip by the door was too deep for my leg brace and I would have to go high-end to get the mirror I wanted. I did get to try the Accent that was more comfortable and my size but he in post talks kept pretending I didn’t and insisted the auto-dimming mirror could be added aftermarket after the company he called said it couldn’t.

The next stop was Port City Kia. This place was more friendly because I was familiar with the staff. I sat in the Forte and it was a great fit and mostly met my needs. I was thinking of a Rio when I did my research but never did sit in one. While they were figuring out numbers I sat in a few of the other ones but they were more car than I needed.

The third stop was Saint John Nissan. The staff was friendly, and the Sentra fit well, but I needed the sports model to get a colour I needed. The Micra was also nice but the saleswoman has no interest in selling it.

Stop four was Dobson Dodge Chrysler. I went in thinking maybe a Dodge Dart. However, they were having a promotion that a Chrysler representative was in town and I only got to see a Chrysler 300 that was, “the only car worth considering”. It didn’t have what I needed and was way outside my budget with other options I had seen.

Stop five was Saint John Toyota. I spent a good amount of time here as I was being shown cars. As the sales guy was distracted, I fell in love with the Toyota Corolla iM, it was blue which I really wanted. It was only missing the mirror and the sales guy insisted it could be put in once again after-market, but he could throw it in. They also started insisting that a lease was a better option as it makes it easier to replace every few years, and are taxed better.

The next day I went and visited more places.

The next stop was Fundy Honda, in this case, I tried the Civic and the Fit but none of them wouldn’t work out.

The Seventh place was Brett’s Buick GMC. None of the cars met my needs or budget and the sales guy I got had to constantly leave to work on other sales, and then got the service guy to come out that shot him down that an auto-dimming mirror couldn’t be added.

Stop eight was Downey Ford, who insisted that I would only like a car if it was white, black, or grey. They also couldn’t get anything in that was blue, even if I wanted to wait.

The ninth and last stop was King Mazda. I basically learned that my dream car didn’t meet my needs as the only one that did was the top end Mazda 3 and that was outside my budget considering my other options.

After the round of viewings, my short list was the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and the Toyota Corolla iM.

At this point, I went back to all three with my friend Tony to re-sit in all 3 of the finalists and it was really then that I decided the Elantra was just not the best fit.

Later that week I went to test drive the cars, starting with the Kia Forte. They had a red one there, and I was very comfortable in it and was comfortable with the feel of the controls. After the test drive, I was confident I had found the car. However, I wanted blue, and I wanted the mid-year update with Apple CarPlay. It took a few weeks for the car to arrive and was not the easiest process to find out for sure when I was arriving but they appeared to do their best at the dealer level.

On the day the car arrived, I went to the dealership to complete the sale. It was at this point that so learned how all the fees work, and all the service and warranty add-ons and what is actually covered and what is not.

I now have my 2017 Kia Forte EX and absolutely love it and am confident that I made the right choice.

My Messed Up Canada Day Roadtrip

My Messed Up Canada Day Roadtrip

I was off the Friday before Canada Day and had Physio and a call for the pre-op to fix my pinky finger. I came up with a plan to take a spontaneous road trip to Ottawa. My surgery is concerning the possible side effects. I was pretty devastated after the call with my anxiety.

Since I was less than 500km from my oil change mileage I went to Kia and booked the appoint for this past week.

I went home and cleared out everything from my car I didn’t need, grabbed my passport and wad of US cash and took off down the Hwy 1 towards the border. At the border I got through pretty quickly and had no issues. Having all the signs in a weird foreign system of measurement increased my anxiety. In Calais, I fueled up and headed down Route 9 to Bangor.

I stopped for dinner at Dysart’s. It was a pretty good meatloaf. I then proceeded down Route 2 to Skowhegan where I needed to pee bad so I stopped at a gas station and it was there my fate turned. My GPS lost my route and I was lost. I kind of remember Route 201 so I turned on it and kept questioning that I was not on the right road.

It turned out I wasn’t, I really wanted 201A in the next town. Around midnight I ended up at the border on the highway headed towards Quebec City. By this point, it started to rain really hard. I was not able to even drive the speed limit it was that hard. I made it to an Esso in Ascot Corner in Quebec and refuelled again at 1 am. I then kept driving but got too tired and stopped at a mall and slept for an hour.

My sleep was interrupted by the lights of a cop that woke me to see if I was alright. He started talking in French and I was trying to translate it and I didn’t recognize enough words. He then spoke English and I responded I was okay and he moved on.

I then determined I needed to move on. I then crossed the bridge to Montreal as the break of the day was happening. I was having such bad anxiety Siri was giving instructions that made no sense and there were so many construction signs that made no sense either. I stopped on a side street for a while and decided I wasn’t making it to Ottawa and it was time for starting a return back to see fireworks.

After a few hours back on the Highway, I needed so sleep so I pulled into a gas station and slept for an hour in the back corner of a Petro Canada parking lot in my car. I continued on the journey down the highway. As I was passing the town of Levis I seen the sign to cross the bridge to Quebec City. Since I had never been there before, I made the decision I needed to see it.

I took a drive through the packed old town and it was very reminiscent of the old parts of Paris. (Montreal is more reminiscent of the rest of Paris.) After leaving Quebec, the next stop was a gas and Tim’s break in Rivière de Loup. (a place Siri can’t pronounce close to right.) When ordering I asked if she spoke English and it was a fast nope. So I tried to order a coffee and a Dutchie and I was certain that I can pronounce Hollandaise properly but she had no clue.

Armed with my coffee and gas it was off to New Brunswick and lots more highway with spots of rain along the way. The next stop was Florencevile and I grabbed a donair sub that was really good. The interesting part was a guy in line ahead of me was Amish and had his horses and carriage waiting outside.

As I passed through Fredericton, the rain had stopped and was starting to clear. The people from home were messaging on Facebook that the weather in Saint John was bad and there were no fireworks to hurry back for. So I headed home anyway.

The next day I slept in until noon and then wasted most of the day away. I had seen that Hampton was having fireworks and decided to go see them but then heard that Cambridge-Narrows was having some so I went there instead. They were pretty impressive and amazing.

Please Don’t End Me

Please Don’t End Me

Today, I was Googling myself to see what others were writing about me and one of the first things I read was the following tweet.

When I first read it I was a little afraid that my country had enough of me and were all out to get me. Then I read a little more on the issue. It was really shocking to me to learn that my initials are also the acronym for Child, Early and Forced Marriage. According to the Government of Canada the following stats are true:

  • Every year, it is estimated that 15 million girls—some as young as five years old—are forced into marriage.
  • Over 700 million women alive today were married as children.
  • One in every three girls in the developing world is married by the age of 18. One in nine marries before the age of 15.
  • Complications in childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in the developing world.

I really agree with the 10,000 tweets on the issue that this is something that everyone should know about and work towards putting an immediate end to. If you want to read more on the issue there are good links on the bottom of the government’s webpage on the issue

Hamlet: The Notes

Hamlet: The Notes

Last night I went to see this show from Saint John Theatre Company’s Canadian Series at the BMO Theatre.

It was honestly an hour and half of almost non-stop laughs with well fitting serious moments. I really enjoyed how this is not the typical show that you go to see, but interactive with the audience and slightly fluid.

There is another performance tonight that you just have to see. You don’t even need to know the Hamlet story to enjoy it, although if you do it is equally enjoyable.

https://www.facebook.com/events/497438537089005/

Photo a Month from 2014

Photo a Month from 2014

Today I looked through MyFitnessPal and determined that my weight loss goals did not happen as I started the year as 134.7kg and ended it at 133.3kg although I have gotten smaller in all the other measurements. So I then I turned to my iPhoto to remember what I did this past year, and I have picked out the best one for each month.

January

Best of 2014 - January
Best of 2014 – January

Over the holidays there was a lot of freezing rain and my driveway had very thick unbreakable ice. My thought was if I could get down to the asphalt it would allow me to get rid of more of the ice as it would melt in the sunlight.

However, it resulted in charred remains on top of the ice, as the dried out wreath burned very quickly.

February

Best of 2014 - February
Best of 2014 – February

Since it was very cold and lots of ice, what else do you do but escape to where it is warmer. One of my goals of 2014 was to add as many countries to my list as possible. Another goal was that I would not go to Europe again until I reached 115kg (which is still the goal) as motivation to actually lose weight. Therefore very last moment I went to a travel agent for the very first time and booked my first cruise to add 4 new countries (which ended up as 5).

March

Best of 2014 - March
Best of 2014 – March

Needless to say, It snowed a lot more in March. I was still sporting a very nice tan though, and remained very bundled up. I also did not take many pictures in March so it was either this or the new former Premier giving a speech to a room full of people at the local riding nomination meeting, my first of two this year with two uncontested candidates.

April

Best of 2014 - April
Best of 2014 – April

This is a phone of Claire Hughes on her Claire’s Big Bike Ride for Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign for mental health issues.

For me April was a really good month this was when I started to get smaller and began the year-long process of replacing most of my clothes.

May

Best of 2014 - May
Best of 2014 – May

Besides being my birthday month, May continued the positive vibes of April. This photo is from the first test screening of The Divorce Movie. This movie featured many people who I have met from various areas of my past, and was a really enjoyable film that just happened to by the type of movie that I would have seen anyway.

June

Best of 2014 - June
Best of 2014 – June

From my past travels when anyone asks what is the greatest place I have ever seen, the only true answer is Berlin!

This brings us to the start of the World Cup season where I went out almost every day to watch the games and cheer on team Germany over when possible German beer, or  as close to it as possible. (Sometimes Dutch beer when the Netherlands were playing.)

July

Best of 2014 - July
Best of 2014 – July

Now I could have used my celebration photo from when Germany won the World Cup, however, who doesn’t love a fireworks show.

In typical Saint John fashion it was rainy, foggy, or something else on Canada Day and the fireworks got delayed, I went out to the grassy field at Portland Point where I ran into my old friend April and her gang that I had not seen in a few years and became a very great evening.

August

Best of 2014 - August
Best of 2014 – August

If you read my last post you will recall that I really enjoyed the 2nd Fundy Fringe Festival, this was a photo during one of the evening shows with many of the performers.

Most of the best memories I do not have, or would not post them here, but were a highlight of my year.

 

September

Best of 2014 - September
Best of 2014 – September

This year I started to go to the local stand-up comedy nights “No Holds Barred” with Jon Forward at the R Bar. These are great nights filled with laughs. This was from the September Show during the Harvesting the Arts festival. There are so may stay cats in Saint John that during the act this cat came wandering in the bar and provided for great improved moments of stand-up comedy.

October

Best of 2014 - October
Best of 2014 – October

In October, I took a trip to the Canadian Wireless Trade Show in Toronto did a lot of cool things that I probably should have blogged about. For Halloween I went to Medieval Times and did not know there was a costume contest so I did not dress-up but had a great time anyway. This is a photo of the Knighting ceremony for Mario, to try to get his princess. (Sorry Mario, your princess was in another castle.)

November

Best of 2014 - November
Best of 2014 – November

Up until June, it had been a tradition to go to the Urban Deli for breakfast every Saturday morning for about 4 years. Then they stopped serving breakfast and I wandered to several different places like Big Tide and Bourbon Quarter before I stumbled on Billy’s Seafood. The first few times I was not thrilled with its people watching potential, then I started sitting at the bar and the entire experience changed. After several weeks on the way to the Imperial Theatre to see The Sound of Music I stopped by Billy’s to try the dinner menu. This was the Cornmeal Haddock that I had that night.

December

Best of 2014 - December
Best of 2014 – December

Now to finish off the year, is my usual weekend haunt, The Canterbury Lounge. Typically, the highlight is an amazing drink that Adam creates with a smile, not this night. It was a giant Bear, on a Chair, with a Hat!

A Cheezy Post

A Cheezy Post

Today I went to the local grocery store and wanted to try a new cheese. I decided on the Mango Ginger flavoured White Stilton cheese. I only got a small block because you never know with unknown cheeses if you will like them. I brought it home and unwrapped the plastic wrapping and placed it on my tongue and let it set.

OMG! The flavour was incredible! It was not to strong or mild and had the nice mango and ginger flavour, and crumbled in my mouth since it has a low moisture.

It was so good that I had a flavour blackout an when I came too again the whole block was gone. It gets a 4.5/5 from me.

The Divorce Movie Review

The Divorce Movie Review

Last night I attended the premier test screening of the locally produced full length film The Divorce. It stars many people who I have come to know over the past few years. Before I continue we should pause for a moment to see the below trailer.

I went into it with the expectation of some of the other local films. It did start slow but the story was funny, sad, suspenseful, and touching at the same time. Although this movie has aspects of other movies, what it does not have is shallow characters. Though the ingenious storytelling by Rob Parsons and the great acting there is not a character that this movie does not have you rooting for. The story also progresses nicely and leaves you not looking at your watch very much. (I only checked mine once, and it was at 8:46pm).

This movie, considering that I see about 100 movies in theatres per year, is right there along side “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” as my top 200 movies. 4.5/5 stars!

2014 Academy Award Predictions

2014 Academy Award Predictions

Best Picture (Predicted)
Prediction and Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Best Actor in a Leading Role (Miss)
Prediction: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Winner: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Leading Role (Miss)
Prediction: Judi Dench (Philomena)
Winner: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Miss)
Prediction: Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Winner: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Miss)
Prediction: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Winner: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Best Animated Feature (Predicted)
Prediction and Winner: Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)

Best Cinematography (Predicted)
Prediction and Winner: Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Best Costume Design (Miss)
Prediction: 12 Years a Slave (Patricia Norris)
Winner: The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)

Best Directing (Miss)
Prediction: The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
Winner: Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

Best Documentary Feature (Miss)
Prediction: The Square (Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer)
Winner: 20 Feet from Stardom (Nominees to be determined)

Best Documentary Short (Predicted)
Prediction and Winner: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke, Nicholas Reed)

Best Film Editing (Predicted)
Prediction and Winner: Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger)

Best Foreign Language Film (Predicted)
Prediction and Winner: The Great Beauty (Italy)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Predicted)
Prediction and Winner: Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews)

Best Original Score (Miss)
Prediction: The Book Thief (John Williams)
Winner: Gravity (Steven Price)

Best Original Song (Miss)
Prediction: The Moon Song – Her
Winner: Let It Go – Frozen

Best Production Design (Miss)
Prediction: 12 Years a Slave (Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker)
Winner: The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn)

Best Animated Short Film (Miss)
Prediction: Get a Horse! (Lauren MacMullan, Dorothy McKim)
Winner: Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares)

Best Live Action Short Film (Predicted)
Prediction and Winner: Helium (Anders Walter, Kim Magnusson)

Best Sound Editing (Miss)
Prediction: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Brent Burge, Chris Ward)
Winner: Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)

Best Sound Mixing (Miss)
Prediction: Captain Phillips (Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro)
Winner: Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro)

Best Visual Effects (Miss)
Prediction: Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton)
Winner: Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)

Best Adapted Screenplay (Miss)
Prediction: Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)
Winner: 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

Best Original Screenplay (Miss)
Prediction: Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
Winner: Her (Spike Jonze)

2013 the Year of Firsts!

2013 the Year of Firsts!

After the mess of a year 2012 was my New Year’s resolution was that 2013 was going to be a year of firsts. This year also seemed to acquire a slogan as well due to my Contiki trip, and that was #noregrets.

Now I know that I have ignored updating here as often as I should in favour of quick tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagrams. For the year-end post I thought I would take a moment to list my firsts for the year (in no particular order).

1. Had a real birthday celebration.

2. First time in Monaco and Liechtenstein (small enough to be a single first).

3. Went to an adult costume party for Hallowe’en.

4. Exceeded my custom’s limit.

5. First major out-of-town music festival. (Osheaga)

6. My first “snowboard”.

7. Tried out a few new restaurants. (Decimal 81, Britt’s, Lemongrass)

8. Volunteered for my first theatre event. (Fundy Fringe Festival)

I have also included below a gallery of some of this years best moments that I have photos of.

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More Christmas Foods that Need to Die

More Christmas Foods that Need to Die

After my last article I decided to review a few more items to see it there was something that could top the last two atrocities. Guess what! I found them.

First on the list is Soy Wonderful Noël Nog. This was thicker than the Almond version but had a very bad after taste. In addition after only a week it congealed into a tick lumpy mass of disappointment. Much similar to the beverage version of lumps of coal in the stocking.

The second item was the Gingerbread Man Peeps. These little gems were not only disappointing but the taste like regular Peeps with only a small hint of Gingerbread.

Though I did find a few positive items this time. The first is a local gem Mrs. Dunster’s Candy Cane coated donut bites. These like many other Mrs. Dunster’s products was simply to die for.

The next item that is amazing is from Starbucks. The Cranberry Bliss Bar is an amazing choice to compliment any coffee but the Gingerbread Latte is the best compliment to it.

From Tim Horton’s the biggest disappointment is the Gingerbread Muffin it almost makes you gag from the over strong spice that burns your mouth as you try to eat it.

The Two Festive Items So Wrong It Could Ruin Christmas.

The Two Festive Items So Wrong It Could Ruin Christmas.

image

Why yes folks now that Hallowe’en is over and Remembrance Day is soon to be forgotten, it is now the season that is supposed to bring the sparkle in every little child’s eye. Like most good things that are once good and holy bring out the worst in those that try to modernize and monetize classics.

In this post I am going to focus on food items that are not only symbolic to the festive season, but flavours that you would not think could go wrong. Let’s start with the first item egg nog. This is my favourite holiday drink and each year the shelves are filled with thick, over sweetened, dairy goodness. That has its own still enjoyable light alternative. Warmed with rum and nutmeg makes a nice snack on the early winter night. If you think that they could not ruin that you would be very very wrong.

This is where Earth’s Own comes to town with their Almond Fresh Nöel Nog. This festive joy comes in at 100 calories per 250mL serving. That assumes that you can actually stomach this. This tastes like almond milk with the hint of sweetness and nog  spices but is thin and there is not even a think of some type of egg substitute. For this the makers all deserve a lump of coal in their stockings.

Then comes the next item. What one item is unmistakably the cookie of Christmas? It would be the Gingerbread Man or any other gingerbread cookie item or piece of house, etc. How could anyone ruin this you say? While let’s leave that feat to Nabisco and their gingerbread flavour Oreo cookies. This could have been good but the gingerbread filling was overpowered by the vanilla cookies leaving only a wee pit of festive flavour left. This could have been so much better with a gingerbread cookie and white mint filling. Therefore Nabisco a lump of coal goes to your stocking too.

Leave a comment, what do you think is the worst commercialization of a food/drink for the holidays this season?

My Thoughts on Reviews

My Thoughts on Reviews

I love writing and submitting views and reviews on a lot of things. With that I feel that some people over favourly review things. For me a 5 star is in my opinion the best of the best where the service was above and beyond, or for movies that I loved it so much I would buy the DVD and watch it a couple times a year.

I see a 3 or 4 star review as a favourable review still. When it comes to traveling places I always ignore the 5s anyways and look to the reasoning why people did not like it. Quite often people will have just been too picky.

Right now I am getting close to 50 reviews on Trip Advisor check them out and let me know what you think. Am I being too hard?

Google Translate Songs

Google Translate Songs

I found this video on YouTube today it is a parody of “Call Me Maybe” with bad but not terrible lyrics. Then from there, I found a Fresh Prince version that went through all 64 Google Translate options, and back to English. I then thought about what would it look like if Farewell to Nova Scotia lyrics were translated to all 64 languages and this was the result.

Chorus:
Vita Nova Beach.
A bronze tart Residues.
Be careful, because the salt.
Or hate it?

evening prayer
Sufficient trees and birds.
but the
But I do not do it for more information.

Chorus

There is no need for me to go abroad.
This was intention to friend.
appropriate
Children / workout.

Chorus

Note that the drums.
Lord of the universe.
If Scotland can Hey, Michael.
to

Chorus

she
Interior dimensions.
However I know.
Black holes and valleys from other women.

Chorus x2

As you can see it is quite humorous. Now I can’t perform well enough to make my own video, but if someone does let me know and I’ll link to it.