Friday, February 25, 2005

First goodbyes

Well I had a dentist appointment this morning, and I was once again amazed at the personal touch these people throw in. This is a new dentist I've been going to for less than 6 months. I switched because they're basically right across from work so I can hop over quickly and have them do their thing.

Being in downtown Ottawa, they must have hundreds of patients, and yet the receptionist recognizes me by name, and they make sure you have the same hygenist every time so there's some continuity there as well. If anybody's interested in a new dentist, they're right at the corner of Metcalfe and Laurier, smack dab in the middle of downtown Ottawa. This is their web site.

Since this was my last visit before I leave in May, they gave me a little dental going away gift bag stuffed with toothbrushes, dental floss, toothpaste and stuff, and made me promise to send a post card when I get out there... quite amusing.

Oh, and they've now got TVs in all the exam rooms running DVDs of the Seinfeld seasons! It was great, though she had to stop the cleaning once in a while cause I'd burst out laughing... lol

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Bought my plane ticket today...

Called Ginko at JTB today and bought my plane ticket to Tokyo. She was all surprised that I was buying it so early, since I didn't have to buy it until 7 days before departure. But hey, I had the cash laying around, and at least that item has been taken care of now.

Work is going ok, not too busy so it makes for some long days. To top it all off the evening technician in our Montreal office who usually handles the calls from 5PM-10PM is no longer with us since about 3 weeks ago, which means that we all have to pitch in and handle On-Call duty (for the whole firm, all 5 offices from Vancouver to Quebec City) during the week. I did last Thursday and am on-call again tonight, which really sucks because I miss out on a cocktail party thing at work for Francis (THE coolest lawyer we've got at OR) who is leaving the Firm to be with his girlfriend in Montreal. Anywho, tonight is proving to be not so bad. Last week, I had gotten 10 calls before 6:30... which was pretty rough. Tonight I've only gotten 3 so far, and only one that I needed to respond to. I'll be glad when the replacement night guy takes over... on-call sucks, and the money isn't really worth the hassle.

Anyways, that's that, I'm going to do some paperwork on the calls I got.

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Monday, February 21, 2005

80 days - Sad day

"I didn't ask for it to be over, but then again, I never asked for it to begin. For that's the way it is with life, as some of the most beautiful days come completely by chance. But even the most beautiful days eventually have their sunsets."

In Fall of 1999, a fellow I was working with named Bryan Redman introduced me to what was to become the love of my life for the next 6 years. We stumbled onto the subject by chance during normal guy stuff conversation. I had been looking to replace the oldie I'd been playing around with for 2 years. Wasn't sure if I wanted to go with a white one, a black one or something else. When Bryan let me take my first ride, I knew I wanted her. On November 6th, 1999, after making sure she was safe, I picked her up from the Canadian Tire Parking Lot in Vanier and she was legally mine. Thus began the longest relationship of this kind in my life.

Even though she had some mileage on her and I wasn't her first man, I knew we'd have a good time. I had just purchased my first vehicle ever. In 1999, at the age of 19, I bought the lovely 1997 Ford Ranger XL you see here and here and here.

We've had alot of good times over the past 6 years:

  • We made many a trip to the cottage, most notably to usher in the new Millenium, for multiple family functions and get togethers.
  • She's seen me through 2 of my moves. Helped out with moves to Ottawa from Ottawa, from Toronto and from London. Helped with a move from Ottawa to London, has helped move countless items of furniture, construction material, etc. over the years.
  • She's been an integral part of dozens of day hikes and camping trips, lugging too much gear which we then had to try and cram into small canoes. (see videos here)
Today, I all but finalized the sale of my little green truck. Gerry, whom I worked for at Stebbins where my father currently works, will be retiring in the next little while and has been looking for a truck to play around with once he's off work. The timing ended up being perfect, the price was right, and there you go it's just about a done deal. He's willing to wait until late April before taking ownership so that's perfect for me, cuts down on the amount of time I'll be without a vehicle.

So that's about that for now, I guess it is good news in the end but I will miss my good little green Ford... may just have to buy another one when I get back to Canada. :)

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Good web site for Japan info

Found a great web site with some very targetted information on Japan. It's actually an information web site targetting recruits for the JET (Japanese Exchange and Teaching) Program but has some good general info.

Stumbled onto it while starting to make my packing list and trying to figure out which toiletries I should bring with me and which I should purchase in Japan. I was able to confirm that toothpaste, deodorant and... ahem... condoms... may be an isue so I should bring my own. Toothpaste in Japan does not contain fluoride, neither does their water, so I'll be bringing a couple of tubes of that. Deodorant is apparently "non-existant" in Japan, especially in stick format, which is rather disturbing to me due to the crowded conditions of the Public transit system, unless asian men don't sweat??? Condoms... well Japanese men's average SHOE size is a 7 with the high-end of the spectrum around 10... I'm a 12... enough said... lol

Bag wise I think I'll be ok with 3 items of checked luggage and my carry on. Large suitcase, Garment\Suit bag, Skis and boot bag (considered 1 item) and my laptop in the carry on bag.

I'll have to call American Airlines and see what their luggage allowance is for Asia... their web site says to call.

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Saturday, February 19, 2005

82 days - another travel (kinda) related purchase

Evil evil eBay, giving me such a good deal on something that I just HAD to go out and buy it... sheesh.

I'd been trolling eBay for a few days looking for an External USB drive to go along with my laptop. The 40GB drive in the laptop is already stuffed with 16GB of stuff and I haven't even started taking pics\videos much yet. I stumbled on a really good deal, picked up a 120GB Maxtor drive for $50 US, they retail for over $150... even with shipping I save about a hundred bucks.

Figure a backup solution is a good idea as well in case the drive in my laptop decides to give out, as they tend to do. In the past 3 years with the Firm I must have placed 30+ calls for defective hard drives in laptops, considering we only have 40 some odd lawyers with laptops (and that they barely actually do any travelling), that's quite a high number. I don't know what I'd do if my drive crapped out and I lost all my pictures of my trip and everything...

This makes me think... travel adaptor... I'll be bringing along a select few items which will need power adaptors to work in Japan. Off the top of my head:
  • Laptop (could probably get a local power cord to go with it... assuming they have IBMs in Japan???
  • External USB Drive
  • Battery Charger for my Digital Camera (again, could get a local solution to charge my SONY batteries)

I think that's it.... wonder if I could bring along a power bar from here and just one adapter to plug the PowerBar into the wall.... will have to look into that.

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Saturday, February 12, 2005

Nothing about Japan... just stuff

Well I guess I'm kind of in a lull between the long-term (interview, contract, paperwork) stuff and the short-term (packing, selling stuff, getting to the airport) stuff.

Things are going well though, getting a lot of skiing done this winter, which is great. I've been to Camp Fortune twice, Edelweiss once, Mont Ste-Marie 3 times, Mont Rigaud once and Mont St-Sauveur of course for that 2 day trip thing back in early January. I am however considering on cutting back a bit. I'm in a weird spot in my skiing skills where I'm totally bored with green, enjoying Blues but scared shitless of black diamond runs... The problem there is that unless I go to somewhere like Sauveur or Tremblant, which I think is too far for just one day of skiing... I don't have that much to pick from on the hills. Ste-Marie for example, the biggest hill in these parts only has 3 blue runs... there's a fourth on the map but I've never been able to find it... Sooooo I think the plan for the rest of the winter will be to go with my brother when he goes with school, and that's about that.. Then I'll have my skis tuned up so they're ready for Japan!

Got a nasty surprise last week from my truck. I think someone must have told it I was going to sell it and it's not happy with me.... Clutch is making a weird rattling\squeaking noise either when it's fully depressed or as I'm releasing it to switch gears. It's intermittent, and when I brought it to the transmission guys, they couldn't hear anything and didn't want to crack it open and charge me labour unless they can see a problem first... They suggest to bring it back once it gets more consistent, which is a problem because 3 times now I've been in traffic and unable to shift into gear... not a good feeling. Luckily my superior driving skills allowed me to quickly turn off the road. A friend of mine says I shouldn't bring it in to a mechanic and go through the expense... he was a mechanic, still has his license, can get the parts at cost... we'll see what's up with that... still a bit cold to be working on a car but if it saves me 800 bucks, I'll be considering it!

Other than that, I had a busy week between working for a side-client of mine, going to see my friend Renee and stuff. Last night I went to the Ottawa 67s game, it was truly odd to be watching Hockey again after all this time. They put on a good show, won 5-2, had a great time. On that note, it looks like the National Hockey League is just about set to announce the cancellation of the season. Too bad, with the addition of goalie superstar Dominik Hasek this year to replace the inconsistent Patty Lalime, I think we could have gone all the way. All the pieces were in place, and then the billionnaire owners locked out the millionaire players... and us fans are stuck on the sidelines... sheesh.

Tonight, I get to sample Brigitte's most tasty Stuffed Pasta Shells again, I am quite looking forward to it, they are nummy. Anywho, that's about that for now, on a parting note, some enterprising young man has posted Ogilvy Renault golf balls on Ebay following Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien's stunt this week at the Gomery Inquiry... quite amusing... bidding is up to 100$+ for 3 golf balls. It seems that the story somehow got out to the media (articles in the Sun Media chain, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail) and traffic has increased greatly on the auction with 1100 hits in 2 days... funny how one can so easily manipulate the media for his own financial gain... if only I'd thought of that... oh wait...

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Monday, February 07, 2005

94 days - Starting think about packing up some stuff

I have this odd feeling that the next 3 months will go by super quick. I'd like to get out camping a couple of times from now until I leave, gotta see Algonquin Park (http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca) at least one more time. That may be the thing I miss most once I get to Japan... the relative emptiness of Canada. Being able to drive out to Lake Travers like we did this September, pile our stuff into canoes and head off into the wilderness for a week... Canada's population density is 3 persons per square kilometre while Japan's is 337 persons per square kilometre, that's quite the staggering difference. Thankfully, from what I understand, I'll be in a relatively rural area, not exactly downtown Tokyo...

Looking at this chart on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_density) I was originally surprised that Japan is actually 29th on the list, thought it would be higher... but this list divides the population of the country into the total land mass... unfortunately if I remember correctly 80% of Japan is mountains so the population density is actually much higher...

Anywho, back to the packing story... I've got pretty much all my books stored away in bins, need to start packing all the extra stuff I have lying around that I either won't be taking with me or won't be using between now and the time I leave.

Also found a neat Microsoft app that lets you make a picture "story"... you'll see an example in the next little while...

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

100 days or 144000 minutes or 8640000 seconds

Well folks, it's T-minus 100 days to departure and I've finally completed Canada Customs and Revenue Agency's NR73-73E form titled "Determination of Residency Status (Leaving Canada)" after reading the 6 gazillion page booklet on what it means to no longer be a resident of Canada for tax purposes.

As enjoyable as that was... I never want to do it again... sheesh, talk about redundant questions. I'm leaving Canada, will be paying taxes in another country, leave me alone and leave me my money!

Will be sending that off tomorrow, no idea when I'll hear back from them. I'm assuming that as long as everything is sorted out before my 2005 tax return is due, all should be well with the world.

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