Thursday, February 22, 2007

Why didn't I do this sooner?

First of all, I would like to thank my mother for teaching me to do my taxes by hand. That's right, on paper, with a calculator and scrap. If not for doing my taxes this way for quite some time, I wouldn't have quite the understanding of actually doing my taxes that I do today.

In addition, I would like to thank the makers of QuickTax. I mean, really, really thank them. This being the first year that Mike and I are commonlaw, and not from January either, I admit that I approached taxes with some trepidation. I mean, spousal amounts and transfers, and so on and so forth. Last year, I had to readd my taxes four times before I got the same answer twice in a row. What would this year be like? But no; I bought software. And oh heavens... It does ALL THE ADDING FOR YOU! As long as you doublecheck that the right numbers are in there, it does it all! And it'll even do any transfering and stuff between our tax returns, if needed! And it tells you if you should buy RRSPs, and how much! Now all I need are some more tax slips from a few places, a brainstorm as to where some of the slips I already have go, and our taxes are done. DONE! With no frustration or heartache when the numbers just don't add up again!

In other news, the new garage door opener is lovely, and we didn't have to install it. :) Also, Dad says the washing machine is fine (there is actually no seal there...), and now I have to stockpile another list of small jobs for him to do the next time he comes up, if he's so inclined. We had a nice visit with Mom and Dad last weekend, and I will be down in Calgary for the next two (Mike comes with on the second one). I'm actually into the first gold band on the first donation Harry Potter scarf, and my WoW characters are 66 (priest), 64 (rogue), and 18 (shaman). I have a new workout program at the gym which seems to be going better. Now, if only my arms would stop hurting, and my back would loosen up so I could actually breathe easier, life would be just wonderful!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine's Day terminology

Since last week, Mike and I have been quietly planning a Valentine's Day. Mike had the day off, you see, so we actually could! But we ran into a problem over dinner last night about terminology, and I'm going to put it to you to help us resolve it. First, let me describe the evening.

We left the house at 4:30 to be in good time for 5:00 reservations at Ric's Grill in downtown St. Albert, as Mike had heard they had excellent steak. There, we were quickly seated, and our wonderful waiter Rob came over to take our drink orders, and informed us that the chef's soup was Cajun shrimp, and the chef's potatoes were parmesan and dill. We perused the menu, seeing many wonderful looking things, but finally decided on a crab dip for an appetizer, then starter caesar salads for both, and then Mike ordered a 6 oz. sirloin broil (medium rare) with wine and herb fried mushrooms and chef's potatoes, while I ordered handmade chicken cordon bleu with seasonal vegetables and chef's potatoes. Rob came back soon after with half a fresh baguette for us to snack on while waiting. Oh, divine. The crab dip was also exceedingly wonderful, and the caesars had flaked rather than ground parmesan on top. The main courses were fabulous. Mike couldn't get over the tenderness of the meat (he kept poking it with his fork just to see it yield), and my chicken was divine. Alas, neither of us could finish our meals, though Mike did see the end of his steak there in the restaurant, and we had the remainder packaged up to enjoy for lunch in the morning. I received an I.O.U. on my idea of going to Build-A-Bear to make a bear, which I've always wanted to do, until we are in Calgary first weekend in March. The store in Edmonton is in W.E.M., and going there makes Mike nauseous. Not the best way to follow up a wonderful steak dinner (though I admit, I was a little disappointed). Following this, we didn't go home right away, except a brief stop so Mike could pick up his wallet, which he'd forgotten. No, we went to Wal-mart, where Mike bought shoes and attempted to buy me the CD I'd been talking about at dinner (not released yet), and I bought Quick-Tax so I can start doing our taxes. At this point, we went home, and I attempted not to fall into a lovely food coma too quickly.

The problem of terminology is this: was this a date, or just going out? I believe that this was our fifth 'date' (I may be wrong on the number, though not by much... :) ). Mike, on the other hand, doesn't believe that we can date anymore, because we've been engaged for over a year. On the contrary, he believes the evening constituted 'going out,' which is something people who aren't dating anymore (i.e. those who don't really need to feel each other out and learn more about each other) do.

I still think it was a date. What about you?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Uh oh...

After a hellish hour-long drive to work, I just have time to put down my bags when the phone rings.

"Alberta Fencing Association, Vanessa speaking."

"Hi honey!"

"Hey! What's up?"

"Did you have trouble with the garage door this morning?"

"Yes... Why?"

"Well, it won't open."


"It won't open."

"But I had trouble getting it closed."

"Well, now it won't open."

Add that to the water leaking from the washing machine (probably just a seal, but still), and I am frustrated with mechanical objects. Mike managed to manually open and close the door, and I have a call in to a local company that has emergency door service. Probably means a new opener. *sigh* Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Apartment Girl's post about her blog anniversary got me to thinking about mine as well. In just shy of another two months, my blog will turn three years old.

It's interesting to go back three years. In my first month of blogging, I reported on my fencing performance leading up to and at the Calgary Open, philosophized on spring and prairie dog suicides, and expounded my new appreciation for classical music. I blithely predicted that the following year I would be able to beat Jackie Geller (this past weekend, I saw her get within one point of Brita Goldie, who reigns as the Junior Epee champion in this province, and generally across the country. Brita was injured, but still... Even if I had kept competing, I sincerely doubt I could beat Jackie easily). In the last four weeks, I have reported on my fish tank, knitting, World of Warcraft, and in relatively vague and circular and unclear ways, my current bout with "depression" (don't know what else to call it).

Posts that stand out as I skim back over the last three years:

16 April 2004
12 July 2004
6 December 2004
26 June 2005
8 October 2005
29 October 2005
8 February 2006
15 June 2006
14 July 2006
21 September 2006
17 October 2006
20 October 2006

If you are so inclined, you can read back to these dates using the month links to the right.

I was also recently reminded that I turn 30 this year. Thirty. Three-Zero. I was asked what kind of big plans I had. I stared at the asker, still trying to comprehend that I was turning thirty this year. It may yet sink in. Stay tuned for any big plans.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Oh, bountiful joy!

Okay, so the day didn't start out too great, but now!!!!

The HP yarn came!!!!

And the new Harry Potter book has a release date!!!!

And it's the last day of summer camp, so I'm in Olds... :P Oh well!!!!

Signing off with smiles.

Oops, and knitting

Driving to work, thinking about all the things I need to do today, trying to remember if I did indeed leave my keys on my desk, and trying to figure out how to leave a little early so I can go to the gym and still have time to tidy up the house when I have a 2 pm meeting, I turned right and trundled on down the road. I was shaken out of my thoughts when I saw a bright flash of light in my rearview mirror. I looked up, and saw a minivan parked at the side of the road.



It's a school zone.

>>insert bad word<<

The nice lady at the photo radar desk for the St. Albert RCMP said that I couldn't have only been going 40 (even though that's what my speedometer said), because it takes a minimum of 43 kph to activate the camera. She also said that if I go to court when I receive the ticket, I may be able to get payment options, or the fine reduced (apparently, new tires can put your speedometer out by 3-4 kph, and I do have newer tires on the car). But if I was only going 43 kph, the fine is only $89. I can budget for that. It was bound to happen sooner or later, I suppose. And I suppose I'm lucky in that I never go more than about 40 kph down that road anyway, because it's so stupidly put together. But still, that was my oops for the day (week, month...).

In happier news, this is the final project update post, and then I suppose I'll have to get to work on some of those projects so they warrant another update at some point! On to the knitting!

Mike's scarf. It doesn't look like much, but it's knitted in the round, and when it's not curling up at the bottom, it's about five inches long. The wool is so wonderful to work with. Sometimes I stop and press it to my face for a minute. I can't believe it doesn't itch!

The first Harry Potter scarf for donating next Christmas. I have ordered all the light coloured yarns directly from the manufacturer, but they haven't come yet, so there really isn't much pressure to get the first round of the dark colour done. In case you can't tell, I've started with Gryffindor.

And finally, looking more Rasta then skullcap now, is the blanket! I am into the second ball of yarn in the sage colour, with only a few more rounds to go until I get to the dark green.

So we come to the end of this week's updates. I'm looking forward to a good weekend, breaking in the fondue pot (as long as I remember to go get fuel today), and good company. See you next week!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

World of Warcraft

I say very little about WoW in this blog. Perhaps that's an oversight. So forgive the very long post as I explain...

Hi, my name is Vanessa, and I play World of Warcraft.

waits for the inevitable chorus of "Hi Vanessa!"

I suppose I shouldn't feel so alone in this. After all, over 8 million other people worldwide also play WoW. But the strange part, I guess, is that I play. Me, who couldn't even play Super Mario Bros. on the old Nintendo, and who had trouble with the duck shooting game. Whose computer game experience was limited to Solitaire and Monkey Island, and something 2-d with ducks that you had to rescue. I am now classified as a "gamer."

This of course begs the question, how on earth did I start? Well, that actually has a simple answer. Mike plays. And early in our relationship, in an effort to share things we liked, I made a dwarf rogue on his account. The first time the toon was jumped by two hostile mobs, I freaked out. I did a lot of dying on that first toon, but I got her to level 20 or so, and it taught me a lot about the game, and gave me more confidence. Then when I was done my critical theory class in April 2005, Mike bought me my own copy of the game, so we could play together. And play together we did, for a very long time.

So why do I keep playing? Well, there are a few reasons. First is Mike. Even though we aren't on characters that can run together anymore, he winds down from his day in front of his computer, rather than the TV, or a book, or a project. If I wasn't in the same room with him as he does this, we'd spend little time in each other's company on a daily basis. But beyond that, I now enjoy the game on its own merits. I have been known to log on when Mike is sleeping or isn't home. It is complex, and each server has its own community. More than that, I have friends there, good friends, and I enjoy spending time with them. The game itself is challenging, with many facets to explore and discover. Each different toon has its strengths and weaknesses, and learning to work with and around those is interesting.

With the release of the first expansion pack for the game, which Mike of course went to pick up in a special midnight opening of the local gaming store, I find that my time in-game is being drawn in many directions. There was an increase in the level cap for toons, so my level 60 characters cry out to be leveled to 70, so as to better spend time with those of my friends that have already made that leap. But there are also new characters that whisper in my ears. So I suppose it's time to introduce most of my readers to my virtual faces. Some of you only know me by the virtual faces, but for those that don't, here is a brief summary of who I might be spending most of my evenings as.

When Mike bought me my own copy, we made two characters on a completely new server. His was a human warrior. Mine was Sparq, a human priest. She is currently level 62, and in process of replacing hard-earned epic (extremely good quality) gear with greens (good, but not outstanding gear). She's starting to have a Carmen San Diego thing going on (hopefully I can replace the shoulders soon; they're throwing the look off!). The best part about that hat is that once an hour, it produces virtual alcohol. :) Priests in the game are healers first and foremost, so leveling her is proving a mite challenging, since I refuse to respec her to Shadow to make leveling easier. Generally, I run around with another priest friend. Between the two of us, we manage to keep each other alive, and do what we need to do to level.

Sparq is what is called a main. Main characters are those you spend most of your time on, and who you are known by, no matter what character you log on to (e.g. I log on as the rogue, who you will meet below, and everyone in the guild says, "Hi Sparq!"). And with the label of main comes the expectation that she will be your first to reach maximum level. So she's muttering in my ear about getting another level soon, pretty please...

All the following characters are alts, but this one is perhaps my main alt. Her name is Falconne, and she started out as my way of reliving those first few days I played the game. She is a dwarf rogue. Rogues are damage dealers, and can stealth, pickpocket, pick locks, make poisons, and have decent survivability in that things die pretty fast... She is also my money-maker. Things in game cost gold (divided down into silver and copper as well). Because of her damage and survivability, and with two gathering professions, she is able to make money relatively easily, whereas the priest can't so well. Falconne is now Level 61, and is sitting with over 500 gold. This, however, is inadequate, as some of the things I want to purchase in game cost anywhere from 500 to 5000 gold. So she is also whispering in my ear, telling me that if I want that pretty gryphon mount when I get Sparq to 70, I need to do more money making... And that might just get her another level too...

Since the release of the expansion on 16 January, Mike has been spending his time almost exclusively working on a new character on a different server. Because I try to spend some virtual time with him as well, I too created a new character. This is Skadie, and she is a blood elf hunter. Hunters get to tame pets, and I decided to tame a dragon type thing, whom I just love. He breathes fire! He flys! And I have a passive small pet that matches him! Skadie is currently Level 20, but Mike and our other friends are coming up on 40, which leaves me fairly far behind. Still, there is a level cap, so they can't outdistance me forever! Skadie also whispers in my ears, telling me that there are new places to explore, and that hunters get really cool skills at higher levels... Besides, Mike is on this server...

Forgive me if I keep the names of these next two alts to myself. You see, somehow over the course, I ended up in a leadership position in-game. And while I do find it rewarding, sometimes I just want to hide. And when I do, I log on to one of these toons. Above, you see my Level 9 draenei paladin, and below, my level 9 draenei shaman. These are both new characters. The paladin I am generally playing with the priest friend I mentioned earlier. We had decided to create new characters, and without communicating with each other in any way, we both made paladins! We laughed for a very long time. The shaman I made a little while ago, for the simple reason of taking the new jewelcrafting profession. You see, I don't understand the profession at all, so I thought if I had a toon with it, it might start to make more sense. I find the draenei very relaxing. They are characterized as noble and almost pacifistic, being made to become warriors by outside forces. Their starting area and city are lovely, and I just did one of the coolest quests EVER on the shaman. And with two level 60s and a multitude of inactive alts, that's saying something. So they tug on my sleeve as well, asking me to discover more, and play them, because their philosophies are so much a match to the inner peace I'm trying to regain.

These are my virtual bodies and faces, and the voices I am confronted with when I sit down across from Mike and double-click that big W icon. Unfortunately, he's no help when trying to decide which one to listen to. :)

Blogger template 'Blackorwhite' by 2008