Thursday, May 31, 2007

Support my walk for Autism!

Autism WalkAutism Speaks is getting ready for its annual signature event, Walk for Autism Research. I am planning to be a part of that Walk and I am asking you to join me in raising critically-needed funds for autism research by making a contribution in support of my Walk.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that often inhibits a person's ability to communicate, respond to surroundings, or form relationships with others. First identified more than 50 years ago, autism is typically diagnosed by the age of two or three. Autism affects people of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Few disorders are as devastating to a child and his or her family. While some people with autism are mildly affected, most people with the condition will require lifelong supervision and care and have significant language impairments. Many children with autism will never be able to tell their parents they love them.

Currently, the causes of autism are unknown and there are no specific medical treatments or cure. Physicians have no blood test or scan that can definitively diagnose the disorder. As such, the diagnosis of autism is based solely upon observations of behavior. Despite increasing national interest and high prevalence, autism research is one of the lowest funded areas of medical research by both public and private sources.

Whatever you can give will help! I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.

Click here to get to my personal page and make a secure, online donation.

To send a donation, you can make a check payable to Autism Speaks and mail your check to me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

WGC does mesh

Mesh Conference Logo
Originally uploaded by bmann
So here I am at the mesh conference in the MaRS Centre. It's pretty crazy.

On top of the number of people at mesh, which is significant (I've already seen a couple of people that I know), there was also a visit by the Guvernator, Arnold Schwarzenegger here this morning. You may hear about the stem cell partnership between California and Ontario on the news later.

It was interesting -- Arnie was quite funny, actually. So was McGuinty. He wished the Guv luck in the upcoming Sens vs Ducks game: "We want to show you that our Canadian hockey players are better than your Canadian hockey players."

Arnie didn't miss a beat, "From my movies, you can tell that I'm not much for dialogue, more about action."


Anyway, back to mesh. Due to work interruptions, I only caught a small piece of the morning keynote about the future of media. It was nice to hear someone being realistic about text vs audio/video. TechCrunch founder, Mike Arrinton says that text will still play an important part because it's so easy and quick. Audio and video (GOOD audio/video) takes a long time to produce - that's the reality.

So I don't have to start brushing up on my audio/video skills just yet. Nor do I have to admit that my partner has any edge over me whatsoever. Not that I would do that anyway. Nor does he showcase those skills to me so I could really just decide to believe that he doesn't have any a/v skills.

But I digress.

I didn't get to hear enough of the session about the Web and philanthropy. It started out interestingly, although not surprisingly. I just wonder how it turned out. Perhaps there will be videos posted so I can watch later.

And now, I have to go catch another session that I'm late for: the Web and politics. Not sure that I'll love it (seeing as how I hate politics) but it's better than Blogging 101 (which I think I have down at this point - or should have, or someone should fire me) and probably more useful than "should old media be afraid of new media." (Seriously, these topics have been done to death -- I just attended a CAJ event a month ago or so on the exact same thing and it also presented nothing earth shattering.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Real friends

Real friends
Originally uploaded by webgoddesscathy
Real friends make you feel better when you're feeling like crap.

Not by telling you what to do to fix it, not by wallowing with you. They do it just by being THEM. Their everyday interesting self. And listening when you need it. And moving on when you really need to move on.

And suddenly all else is forgotten.

Because there are TimTams from England. And tea. And home improvement magazines. And music.

Because now, you have Perspective.

You will be OK, because you will always have THEM. A relationship that just works. You will be OK, no matter what. Because you can always come and look at their clothes, talk about travelling and gossip about that guy who just talked to us on the street.

There's nothing better. Why would I need anything else? The rest is just decoration.

Friday, May 25, 2007

There are days...

Sometimes you have those days where things go so strangely wrong.

You say (or write) the wrong thing, you hurt someone's feelings, stick your foot in your mouth, you don't get enough sleep, you have too much work to do and can't find time to eat and feel sick and forget to do important things or can't figure out how to prioritize.

All you want to do is go sit outside where the sun is shining, but you can't because this is life and you've got to muddle through somehow.

And then, in the middle of it all, you get an email that makes it so much better:

"THANKS to everyone for all your hard work - we are really creating a remarkable thing here! It is not often in life that one has the chance to work on a project of this scope, energy and importance. Even if we are all exhausted today, we are pretty fortunate."

And I remember how lucky I am to be where I am, doing what I'm doing, knowing the people that I know and having all the advantages I do.

I remember that my real friends know that I mean well - I am not a horrible person. That my work deadlines are probably the most important to ME and that everyone else might not even notice if it's not all done today. I remember that my family will always be happy to see me and spend time with me, even when I make mistakes. I remember that the sun IS shining, but it will shine for many months and I can enjoy it later.

For now, I have an important project to work on that I believe in and that I am proud to be a part of.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

YAY meds! And other happy endings

For once, Advil is actually working for me. Oooh, the joy!

My long weekend was a little marred by having a headache. I thought it was a migraine, and took my medication, but it just made it worse. BOO!

But this morning, I was pretty close to not making it into work, my head hurt so much. But I swallowed some Advil, which never works for me, and BAM! I'm actually feeling better.

At some point, it would be great if someone could figure out why I get so many headaches and make them GO AWAY. Seriously, it gets ridiculous. I always seem to have headaches whenever I go on vacation or get stressed or don't eat or drink enough or drink too much (alcohol) or get too much sun or my sleep patterns get messed up or I change my caffeine intake or my hormones spike or valley. Really, pretty much anything. It starts to get a bit depressing.

As long as I have medication that works, it's OK. I can continue on with life. I hate it when stupid headaches get in the way of life. Of having fun. Although they do make me a little cranky no matter what I try.

But I figured that I already had a headache, so it would be OK to drink a lot of wine at dinner at the Old Towne Restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Sunday. A full bottle of the Cave Springs off-dry reisling. Mm! The escargot were also very good. Not much to say about our mains, though. Very uninteresting. In fact, Alex's scallops had KETCHUP on them. Seriously. Ketchup.

We left the restaurant a little late, but we managed to change from our shopping/walking clothes (did I mention that I bought new running shoes at the Nike outlet? I did - they are so awesome comfy) and get to the Shaw Festival Theatre just in time for the curtain to go up on Mack and Maybel, a cute musical that was recommended. It was cute and I just love theatre anyway.

But there was no time for the cycling wine tour that I'd been hoping to do. No worries, because the next day after checking out, and on our way to Ball's Falls, we passed the Henry of Pelham estate and stopped for some tastings. Bought one bottle there. And picked up the wine route map and charted the rest of our scenic tour to the falls to go past a couple favourite wineries: Flat Rock and Cave Springs.

We were so surprised by how CUTE Jordan, Ontario is. Seriously cute!
Sadly, we were too late for the falls at this point, having tasted wines and bought lots of our favourites to stock up. Cave Springs definitely won for our favourite wines and location, but the Flat Rock tour and information was fantastic!

So back to reality now.
Back to work for me after dropping off our cute PT Cruiser convertible (only $48 for the whole weekend!). And back to work for Alex, who left for London last night.

When's the next long weekend?
I can't wait!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Alex and I at Niagara Falls

Alex and I at Niagara Falls
Originally uploaded by webgoddesscathy.
See more photos on Facebook by clicking here.
Alex and I jumped in our ragtop PT Cruiser rental yesterday morning and (after heading to Starbucks, bien sur) took off for The Falls.

Top down, of course.

It was a gorgeous day yesterday and thankfully, the highway to Niagara was busy, so we could enjoy the convertible without hurting ourselves. Eventually, though, Alex found an alternative, more scenic route for us using his PDA. Sometimes that thing is awesome.

So we drove some interesting back routes to Niagara Falls.

We arrived at our Hotwire-booked hotel only to find out that I had somehow booked dates in June. And not just mixing up the month, but, like, a totally different weekend. WEIRD.

The hotel was pretty good about it, letting us use the Hotwire $ towards THIS weekend. But it means that the "good deal" I found on Hotwire was useless. We paid full price anyway. BOO!

Oh well, lesson learned, I will pay more attention to dates when booking on Hotwire because there are no cancellations or changes possible. At least the hotel gave us free parking -- I couldn't believe that they normally CHARGE for it, but whatever.

We went for a nice walk along the falls. Checked out a few nice gardens. Paid a silly $2 each to go up this incline railway. Just to avoid walking up a hill. Whatever -- it was super touristy.

Alex wanted to check out the new casino at the top, so we did. He headed for the craps table -- apparently, he knows how to play. He puts down $10 (the minimum bet) and within 25 minutes, he walks away with $160. Pretty good return.

That paid for dinner at Tony Roma's (yummy yummy ribs). As well as the new shirt and vest that we bought at the Tommy Hilfiger outlet. Alex FINALLY let me go shopping with him. And the outfit is super nice, so I'm hoping he'll let me shop with him more often. I'm hoping to go back today to get to the Nike outlet and get myself some much-needed running shoes.

I've been up since 9am. I got ready and went over to Starbucks just down the street and wrote in my journal for about an hour. I love that. I remember loving that more than anything else during my adventure in Aus/NZ. Anyway, Starbucks on the strip is more expensive than anywhere else, sadly. And there was a simple guy named Joe in there -- a regular, it seems -- and he was very excited. Couldn't stop screaming "oh my GOD!" every few minutes.

Back at the hotel at 11am, Alex is still not awake.

I got him up, of course. We can't stay here all day! So while he showers for the next 1/2 hour, I'm uploading yesterday's photos and blogging and listening to

Today's plan is to go for some breakfast, head to the Nike outlet. Then it's off to Niagara on the Lake. Maybe do a short cycling wine tour, if it's not raining. At 8pm tonight, we have tickets for the Shaw festival. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm taking a cute dress with me and I'm excited about dressing up and having a nice night.

Maybe after we get back to our hotel here in Niagara Falls we'll go to another casino to give Alex the chance to win our hotel stay... or maybe we shouldn't press our luck...

Check out more photos on Facebook.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I have a microwave

Are you ready for this?

I have a microwave in my kitchen again. An over the range microwave.

Look at it. It's sexy.

And Alex did it. We took out the fan and the cupboard over the stove. Cut the cupboard in half. Reinstalled it. Installed the microwave, connecting the air duct and putting in an electrical outlet.

Alex is feeling like a real man right now. Very macho.

Next stop: new backsplash tile!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I love Hotwire

Have you tried Hotwire?

I've been using it quite a bit, recently.

Last weekend, I went with my family to Ottawa, to the tulip festival with my family. It was a gorgeous weekend. I got us a hotel in the east end quite cheaply, despite the busy festival weekend.

And then Alex and I decided to go to Niagara for the long weekend. Let me tell you, deciding on travel plans for a long weekend at the last minute is not the best idea. Not if you don't want to spend a xillion dollars, anyway.

Niagara-on-the-Lake B&Bs were either sold out or ridiculously expensive. No good, reasonable ones left.

Car rental prices were skyrocketing, if you could even find a car at all.

And what happened? Hotwire happened.
Click click click.

I have a car for $60. I have a nice hotel right beside the Falls for $70 per night.

Seriously. I am a GOOD shopper.

And I'm totally excited about my weekend away. Yay!

Friday, May 11, 2007

it's sad when a movie sucks

I was really hoping that Spiderman 3 would be good. I really liked the first one. The second was... satisfactory. This one made me sad.

I was really excited about going to see a good movie by myself.

And then it kinda sucked.

And now it's late and my house is quiet and dim and I'm thinking it's time get to bed so I can get up tomorrow and get ready for my nice trip to the Ottawa Tulip Festival with my family.

I suppose that's one thing that never disappoints: my family.

I did have a rather nice time last night at my friend Theresa's house. I went there after an appointment in the area and got caught up with her, her baby, Ilana, and her pregnancy.

I have found myself getting jealous of pregnant women lately. Like that doctor on Grey's Anatomy who just found out she can't have children. Suddenly, everyone around her is pregnant. And she isn't mean about it, but just secretly envious. And maybe, like her, it's not really good idea, exactly - although, UNLIKE her, I actually don't want to be pregnant anyway. Not, at least, in the situation I'm in.

But I think about it.

I see all these couples who are so... together. And these mothers who have this calmness about them. Almost zen-like. They seem to have it figured out. AFTER, of course, that first year is over. Before then, they don't have time to uncover the meaning of it all. But now, they seem to have all the answers. Everything I want in my life. That simple, traditional, get-married-to-the-one-you-love-and-have-kids life.

I used to think, 'why get married? everyone seems so unhappy in their relationships.'

And then I started seeing my friends blossom in their relationships. Become better people. Be more content. Relax.

They had that person to support them now. They didn't have to fight it anymore. They attained that zen state. Not smug nor delirious. Just content.

And now I'm thinking about how nice that would be. To have something that just works. That isn't perfect all the time. But something you don't have to fight and struggle with.

Steph mentioned - did I say this already? - that she thinks part of our problem as modern women is that we've learned in the workplace that if we just make an action plan and do this and implement that, we can plan our way to a happy life. And it doesn't work like that. Relationships are not projects and we can't organize our way through it.

So, what comes first? The acceptance that there's nothing we can DO, which causes relationships to improve or the relative good state of things that causes the contentedness?

Tree and I, sitting on her porch in the rain last night, mused at what a nice moment it was. And we both thought about how we need to live more in the moment -- just enjoy the here and now.

And there lies my problem.

Because I brought into that Spiderman movie all my expectations from the past movies. All the excitement, everything I wanted it to be. Instead, I could just have relished my moment of solitude, the decadence of lone theatre-going, the mindless joy of a summer blockbuster.

What, you thought I meant something else? ;)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Biking my way to... something good, anyway

I've been thoroughly enjoying the weather for the past couple of days. Nice enough to bike to work in regular clothes - and not dripping sweat by the time I get there.

However, there are times when I dread getting on the bike.

Late at night is a bit of a crap shoot -- there's less traffic and it's cooler, but it may be too cold, people may have trouble seeing you and you have to watch which neighbourhoods you're going through. Rush hour and downtown in general also sucks. Who knows what kind of tailpipe air I'm breathing? Jerky drivers will sooner drive over top of me than let me go on my merry way. And sometimes, especially at night, I'm just not interested in hoofing it home.

Still the benefits outweigh all the nasty stuff.

I know how long it will take me to get anywhere, because there really aren't any delays for a bike. I can feel good about not polluting the air. I save money: no TTC fares, no rising gas costs, parking or insurance (btw, did you hear the ridiculous argument on the radio this morning that the gov't should be controlling the cost of gas? Seriously, sometimes I wonder if people have a brain. You're paying that much for gas because you CAN. Because the market supports it. Why why why would the gov't subsidize something that is actually bad for society? Suck it up - elsewhere in the world they pay much more than we do).

Last night, though, I would have given anything to stay in the cosy downtown hotel that my boyfriend had through work. He was loading in a show overnight and with that comes a room at a fantastic hotel not far from where I work. Comfy pillows and high quality sheets, the perfect mattress and a bathtub I don't have to clean? Does it get more perfect?

And what happened? At 9pm he made me go home.
I still don't know why. He is a boy - apparently that explains it. (Yes, I should get over it, but NO, I'm still not over it.)

So at 11pm I was still wide awake, heart pumping, after my ride home. Only to ride back downtown early, early this morning to go to the passport office -- a 5 minute walk from the hotel!

The good news is that you get faster service at the passport office if you've filled out the passport documents online. YAY!

So by the end of this month, I will have a shiny new passport... and no where to go. Instead, I will hop on my bike every morning and think of all the exotic places in the world where others are riding their bikes to work, happily without a passport or even the means to travel further.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Nightmare morning

On the second time I drove to return my rental car this morning (yes, SECOND time), I was listening to the radio and listened, really listened, to a song that I've heard many times. And I just thought that maybe it was something that I needed on this nightmare morning, tired, frustrated, irritated, not seeing any end to the stresses in my life...

I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you can not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Playing in my garden

Who likes gardening?

If you put up your hand, you probably KNOW something about gardening. Me? Not so much.

So when I have to "garden" it's really all about mowing the lawn, whipper-snippering and pulling a LOT of weeds.

And that's what I did today. My back aches. My fingers HURT. And I kind of smell. Well, it was pretty warm today. But I feel pretty good.

Things look minorly better. Cleaner, at least.

I found out that one plant I wasn't sure about is feverfew and although some pull it out as a weed, it also has nice little flowers in the summer that aren't bad. My neighbour dropped by, as you can tell. She also told me that the perrennial flowers that I bought last year and planted in the front are DEAD.


And my lavender is mostly dead too. And pretty much everything in the wooden barrel on my deck -- dead. Sad story. Not sure how I did it. Well, it probably wasn't ME, per se, but just the winter. So now I'll have to go out and spend another couple of hundred bucks on some more greenery that might stick around for more than a year.

I really would like to have a plan and redo my landscaping with a magical rock garden that never grows weeds but looks just lovely with some decorative shrubbery and grasses. I've seen them on my walks around the neighbourhood. There's one on the way to Food Basics and one on the way to Starbucks. All innocent-looking. But harbouring the secret to the perfect garden.

How/where do I get this secret? Can I steal their garden?
Will you help me?