Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lazy Sunday

Over the past two years I've been working on a Master's and last night I wrote my last paper.

Taking on the challenge of doing a degree while working full time didn't seem like much when I started, but it was a lot of Sundays taken up with papers and Wednesday nights reading weekly resources and trying to come up with something sensible to say about them for discussion posts.

But it's done and now I can spend my Sunday morning at the gym, stop by my fave cafe for a coffee, and run errands like everyone else...bliss.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nothin' like a white dress and a t-back

Summer in this city is insane. The ladies between 19-35 wear see-through white dresses and thongs. Seriously, it's mesmerising as you walk down the street. I don't even want a piece of them and I can't help watching; I don't know how men manage at ALL.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


When  was a kid we used to listen to radio shows.

Haha, no, I'm not THAT old. But my parents didn't like TV and there used to be some wonderful shows on CBC Radio so we'd listen during dinner.

I took up running a couple of years ago (I know, it's a shock!) and I've always listened to music but a friend recently mentioned that she listens to podcasts while running so I thought I'd try it out.

I installed the podcast app on my iphone and added Fresh Air (an NPR show that was highly recommended by some Yankee friends) and proceeded to run into trouble running because I was screaming at the inane, racist, and stupid woman who does the interviews. She's really shocking, actually. She answers her own questions while asking them. I think she likes to hear her own voice more than the people she's interviewing. She interviewed a comedienne and basically called her a slut. She interviewed an African ( I can't remember which country) author and xenophobia reeked in every question.

So I almost gave up on podcasts. But then I added some from CBC (they're actually funny) and I added NPR's TED hour, which is amazing.

So TIL (Reddit for Today I Learned) that captcha boxes are actually a global collaborative effort to translate scanned text into computer-readable text. How freaking cool is that? Listen to the podcast, it's awesome.

Newest obsession

I live somewhere that winter is long. I mean it, seriously long. 4 months of dark, ice, snow...and awesome central heating. So I spend by far too much time cosied (not a word according to spell check, but I disagree) up to my lovely mac air, streaming tv.  I'm always on the lookout for a new show and just discovered one (new to me)...of course I can't save it for winter, I HAVE to watch it now....

TIme for more?

I gave up blogging when I started working on my MS...only so much time in the day. But I'm just about, I think a lot of the things I would have blogged about, I've posted on Facebook. But Facebook isn't the same as a blog. You can offend "friends". You have to deal with politics. You have to think about your reputation. Not so much my sweet alter ego!

So what's happened in the past two years? I've become a Google guru. Really! I know, it's a shock to me, too. I also grew back a bunch of hair - that's nice but probably transient so I try not to get too excited about it. The Grommet isn't little anymore. I've travelled the f**k out of Europe and I still can't get enough.

I signed on for another two years where I am, which I have mixed feelings about, even if I love my job. to catch up on reading about my friends' many of you are still blogging? I hope all!

Friday, November 18, 2011


A jewel in Europe, why have I never heard of this amazing city??? Here are a few snaps...

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I'm often surprised but what words appear in roman letters here (instead of Cyrillic, which people here can actually read) not to mention word choice. I'm not sure what fancy shoes have to do with welfare...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Technology rocks

I have had some cooking catastrophes while living here. One day I wandered into the kitchen to see flames shooting out of a small pot on the stove. The pot fused to the ceramic cooktop ( who knew you can't use ceramic with ceramic?) and of course I had to replace the top - that was expensive...
But I've discovered the answer! The timer! Ceramic might have flaws, but being able to set the timer AND HAVE THE BURNER TURN ITSELF OFF rocks.

iPhone app!

Finally! Here are some Moscow shots...

The park in the Kremlin
The Metro is beautiful And complicated.

St Basil on Red Square OUTSIDE the Kremlin...
A Statue in a Metro station
Church inside the Kremlin. There are many churches inside the Kremlin.
Lenin out for a walk
Lenin, posing.
Another statue in a Metro station. Apparently rubbing the dog's nose is good luck.

Once a quarter...

My online life is pretty much taken up with Facebook posts and Words with Friends these days...actually, blogger has really missed the boat with iPhone publishing - if I had an app I might be more apt to use it but it seems people prefer the tweet world...something to reflect on, except tweeting isn't about reflection, it's spitting out any old thought in a handful of words. That's not reflection, I'm sure of it.

I'm a runner now. Seriously! I'm slow, it's true, I only run just under an 8 minute km, but I finished my C25K program in September and have continued running at least 5 k a week. I know, it's nuts. Running is a funny thing. I want to say I love it, but really what I ought to say is I love *after* it. Just this morning my ankles were creaking and my neck was sore and ugh, I really didn't want to run. But my cleaning lady was at the flat so I had to be out and f*ck it, why ever not? I ran my little heart out and in no time at all it was over and I was picking up a lovely cappuccino from my favourite Israeli chain...

This fall is a quiet time for travel. After completely blowing the bank this summer and also booking a ticket home for xmas (I need to renew my driver's license) I decided to have a stay-cation for fall break. It's been a fantastic time so far, so no regrets there!

A few weeks ago I was in Moscow for a meeting, which was really exciting! I was raised during the Cold War era, so you can imagine my surprise on arriving in Moscow and finding supermarkets full of groceries, no one standing in line and frankly, nothing much (except for the Kremlin) to distinguish it from many other cities in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin *was* cool. The incredibly small (in both ways) Faberge egg collection is fascinating. The dead Czars not so much. The dresses of Czarinas stuffed to ACTUAL size was interesting. I was surprised to discover that the church in the Red Square is NOT in fact in the Kremlin. Hmmm, maybe I should post some photos.

I'm off to Lisbon next month for more meetings (jealous of my life yet? I am!). My sister has wrangled herself into the same meetings, so that's pretty exciting! I expect to be sipping port and eating custard with her to a ridiculous extent - which I can because did I mention I'm a runner now?

I've been a reading maniac, too. Latest book was REAMDE by Neal Stephenson. Yet another awesome book by one of my favourite writers. Earlier this fall I read The Hunger Games Trilogy - holy cow that was two weekends gone! I read the whole series and then turned around and read it again. Even writing that sentence I'm thinking maybe I need to read it again. It's hard to imagine how I could be so enthralled with something in the "teen lit" category but there you are, they're FASCINATING and ENGAGING novels.

We have a whole slew of new people at work - all are fantastic. None single. I might just have to start scouring the city for a man who showers. Seriously, showering and deodorant are not a high priority for the men in this country. But then I suppose if I did like the look of one, I could probably talk him into bathing - after all, I have a clean 14 year old!

Ahh, yes, the G. He's a giant. He has a deep manly voice and shaves. Sometimes I run into him at the bar. No seriously, the drinking age here is pretty much non-existant, so he can go to bars. I had the unfortunate experience last weekend of walking into the same one as him - of course the well-behaved lad that he is, he wandered over right away to confess his sins and declare he ought to go home right away. I think it might have been his first bar experience so no doubt now he'll think I'll be at any bar he goes to! Luckily he still prefers his xbox to pretty much anything else....

So there's an update!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

She'll be a runner yet

With time on my hands this summer, I decided to join a gym. It's ok, but a bit boring as I miss my old gym in HK SO MUCH! Realizing it wasn't going to sustain me, I decided to download a C25K app to my iPhone.

Couch to 5k is something that people have been talking about a lot over this past year. Basically it's a simple interval training program to help non-runners become runners. I had worried I wouldn't be able to do it as I've been pretty devoutly against running since forever. But with the app, it's SO easy! No thinking or negotiating, "Michael" tells me when to run and when to walk. My own music plays and the gps on my phone tracks distance and pace. I don't even hate "Michael" as much as I thought I might, his voice is gently commanding and really, when he says run you just do, is all.

I've just finished the first week of ten. That has me actually running only about 8 minutes of the thirty minute workout, but that's 8 minutes more than I've run in any interval.

What's interesting is that I love it. Well, the first ten minutes or so is rough, but the endorphins kick in after that and I genuinely enjoy the rest. I got me thinking that endorphins are the body's way of saying thank you and encouraging me to keep going. I'm also beginning to suspect that running feeds a primal need so basic I can't even put words to it. With each workout I enjoy it more and what's really interesting is that the feeling lasts all day - long after the endorphins have left my bloodstream. What other than satisfying a primal need could that be?

If you have been thinking about picking up running or if you have been scared off running from a lifetime of failed jogs staggering for air, I highly recommend giving it a try - you won't look back.

Revisiting the past

I have been a devout ereader for about a year now. It all started with moving to a country where you can't get books in English, but the ability to carry an entire library in my bag quickly made me a devotee. The only thing is that my favorite authors don't seem to write as much as I read! So I've ended up turning to old books through gutenburg and this summer and reread the Anne of Green Gables series.

All Canadian girls read Anne- it's a rite of passage. As I went through and read the books, I was amazed at how well I remembered them (these days I can read a book and then a few months later pick up the same book and not realize I've already read it until I'm halfway through!). I was also amazed to find how much of my own identity is tied up with Anne's. In You've Got Mail, Meg Ryan's character says, "When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does." and she couldn't have been more right!

It has been a lovely gift to run into preadolescent me and to get to know her again. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Barometer drops

Do you want to hide out in a dark room when the barometric pressure drops? I do. I can't believe how much a cloudy day throws me off!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Living normal in other places

I know most people travel to see interesting things; I'm not like that. Oh, I see stuff, but it's only really by accident. When I get to a new city I like to find a place that feels right to hang out - my local, if you will - and do things I would do anywhere. Then I get a real sense of how the place is the same and familiar and how it's different.

In Antwerp, it's a bit like living in Vancouver. People are a little more fashionable although err on the side of comfortable. Lots more bikes, but the same pro-fitness views prevail. Amazing food. My gym is pretty typical.

It is making a nice break from the harshness of Kiev - things here are just softer and easier. People understand English or I can explain in French. Life is simple and I love it.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Antwerp reprise

In Antwerp for the month, marveling at my luck to not only have an amazing job but one that allows me the luxury of such travels!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity | Video on

Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity | Video on

I watch a few Ted talks a month and I've seen some incredible ones. This one is worth watching.

It struck a particular chord with me because over the past year or so I've come to realise that as nice as having hair would be, I wouldn't trade it for the experience of losing it. I've learned more about myself and come to understand more about my own power from the experience than I ever would have imagined. I'm more me because of it and I like being me!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A year on

This time last year I was packing up my life. I was hoping for a more interesting job and some travel...
I got both!!

On the work front I had an amazing year full of interesting challenges and best of all, got the promotion I'd hoped for. Next year holds new challenges and a great team to work with.

On the travel front, I've been to Antwerp, Paris, Nice, Prague, Singapore, Frankfurt, Rome, and Venice. Quite a bit more travel than I expected! Next year looks to be Antwerp, Vancouver, Thailand and Tanzania!

There were some surprises, too. I've spent three holidays with my sister, who is notoriously busy. I know it sounds a little cheesy, but reconnecting with her has probably been the highlight of my year!

The G turned into a man this year. It has not been an easy road, but being the mother of a 6'4" shaving deep-voiced gentleman has certainly made me realize I really can do anything I set my mind to.

So there you have it - jumping off the deep end to change your career and live in a very foreign country where you know nary a soul can indeed turn out to be the very best thing you can do!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The One

I just watched an amazing TED talk (aren't thy all?) about the next 5,000 days of the web. It's here.

Here's an awesome quote:

I have now gotten to the point where I don't even try to remember things, I'll just Google it. It's easier to do that. 
We kindof object at first, saying things like "Oh, that's awful!". 
But if we think about it, the dependency that we have on this other technology called the alphabet and writing, we're TOTALLY dependent on it. 
We cannot imagine ourselves without the alphabet and writing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In Roma!

Probably the most amazing city I've been to - yet. Three generations
on tour again!!