Mid point in the conference…

Monday was a fairly relaxing day.  I went out for breakfast with two friends that I had worked with on the 2011 Federal election campaign.  We went to The Lancer in St. Catharines which was excellent.  The food is great and whatever the spices they put on their homefries makes them amazing.  We ate and chatted for 2 hours, it was a good visit.

I had to do my packing and what not, I had washed everything, I hate traveling with dirty laundry.  A friend of mine picked me up to take me to the hotel where my conference is being held.  We are in Niagara on the Lake staying at the Pillar and Post.  The hotel is quite nice, quite old as well.  The food is good, but nothing that I would “write home about”.  The desserts are amazing though and I need to stop eating them.

We had a hospitality suite on Monday evening, I didn’t stay too long, I think I went to bed around 10:30pm.  Tuesday morning was busy, we were listening in to the conference but at the same time supporting the firm since IT needs don’t just disappear.

I watched part of the ball game last night and I am ashamed to say, I fell asleep.  I much prefer watching in Alberta where it is 2 hours earlier, the games end at a much more reasonable time.

Today will be much the same as yesterday.  The group is heading to Wayne Gretsky’s Winery and Restaurant for dinner tonight, we always have an off-site dinner.  Should be good.  Over the years I have developed a taste for wine so I should enjoy it.  None of us are driving so that’s a good thing.

The conference wraps up tomorrow around 2pm.  Those of us who are flying will head to the airport around 2:30pm.  My flight leaves @ 8:30pm and I arrive in Calgary just after 10:30pm.  I didn’t want to make the 2.5 hour trip back home at night so I am staying with friends overnight.  I was supposed to go both for breakfast and lunch with friends, but I really want to get home so I canceled both of those meals.  I am also REALLY tired of eating at restaurants, I need some home-cooked food.  I am also really looking forward to getting my dogs from boarding and I am sure they want to get home too.  I will be home for just over a week and then the dogs have to go back into boarding for a few days while I support a conference up in Banff.  That’s just a Monday through Thursday though, so hopefully, it will zip by.

Well, here’s to another day, enjoy yours.

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Great football game…

I woke up at my typically early time yesterday, around 4am.  My brother in law slept in until almost 7am, lazy teenagers…  We took the dogs for a walk along the entrance to the Welland Canal in Port Weller.  We didn’t go on the full route (about 5km), we took a slightly shorter path which works out to about 3.5km.  My leg was killing me, like I had shin splints.  We went out for breakfast to the Greasy Spoon (it’s actually called the Golden Grill, corner of Welland and Geneva in St. Catharines).  It’s the best breakfast spot in the city.

We headed back to his place and then were off to the Bills game.  The GPS took us on an odd route, but we got there.  We parked for $15 on someone’s front lawn, just down from the stadium.  It was about a 2km hike, mostly uphill to the stadium.  I did a quick tour of the Bills Store, would have bought a pullover style “cage” jacket, but they didn’t have my size.  Another nice Starter jacket would have fit, but it was $120USD (maybe it was $130USD) and that was more than I wanted to spend.

So, off to our seats.  We were in the last row of the upper bowl, but when we got there, our seats were missing.  I mean actually missing.  The row started at 3 and we had seats one and two.  A bit odd, to be sure.  Anyway, I found a Guest Relations person and he couldn’t explain it, so off we go to the Customer Service area.  Turns out, we had “accessible” seating, so we were actually on the upper walkway, just above where our seats should have been.  We were provided chairs, had a railing to lean on in front of us and unobstructed views of the field, even when people in front of us were standing.  It was great, the best seats I’ve ever had I think.

The Bills started out slowly, scored a couple of field goals and their D wasn’t as sharp as it had been in previous weeks.  They were down 5 at the half, but came back strong in the second half and won by 10, effectively “squishing the fish”.  We made our trek back to the car and made it out of the area pretty well, considering the number of people leaving at the same time, it wasn’t bad at all.

Red Lobster was on the menu for dinner, Endless Shrimp. It was quite good and we were quite full.  The evening ended with a visit with some friends in Welland then I hit bed and hit it hard.  I slept until almost 5am today, so that’s sort of late for me.

I am going for breakfast this morning at 8am with some old political friends and then lunch with another friend and then she’s going to drop me off at the conference in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

I am looking forward to returning to Calgary on Thursday and then heading home on Friday afternoon.  I miss my dogs and I am sure they miss me.  I hope the weather will be decent, I don’t really want to drive through mounds of snow on the way home.

Enjoy your week.

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Excellent dinner, excellent baseball…

Yesterday was a good Saturday.  I went for breakfast with an old friend, had a good time.  It was at the Blue Star in Welland where I used to go when I was going to Niagara College.

After breakfast, I went for a coffee with another friend after stopping at the Pen Centre.  I was surprised that the Pen was open at 9am on a Saturday, and it was dead so I was able to return a pair of boot that I had purchased that were going to be difficult to get back to Alberta.

I spoke with the guy I was meeting for dinner and remembered that I hadn’t made reservations.  I called and they had no reservations available between 4pm and 8pm so we decided that we would go earlier, 4:30pm, a Seniors time for dinner.  We were able to get a table right away.  Had a great Keg dinner (bacon-wrapped chicken, twice baked potato and coleslaw and a brownie sundae for dessert).

I headed back to St. Catharines, made great time and turned the ball game on.  The Astros lead the game from the beginning but in the top of the 9th, Osuna blew the save, allowing a 2 run homer.  Chapman pitched for the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th and he’s normally lights out.  With 2 out and a runner on base, Altuve smacked a 2-run home run out of the park to win the game, the series and got himself the Series MVP award as well.  It was, to say the least, an exciting finish, although I would have preferred that the save wasn’t blown and the bottom of the 9th wasn’t necessary.

So, the Astros move on and meet the Nationals starting Tuesday night.  Prior to the NLCS, I thought that either the Yankees or Astros would walk away with the World Series title without much trouble.  After the NLCS and the way that the Nationals handled the Cardinals, I think it’s going to be an awesome World Series.

Today, my brother in law and I are heading to Orchard Park New York and catching the Buffalo Bills squish the Miami Dolphins.  I have not been to an NFL game in 9 or 10 years now and I am really looking forward to it.

Enjoy your Sunday, I know I will enjoy mine.

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A busy weekend…

Friday was a good day and the last day of my vacation.  I started out with a coffee with an old friend from grade 7/8, we chatted and caught up.  It was a good visit for sure and we are supposed to take the dogs for a walk today, well, my brother in law’s dogs and her dog.  Should be good as the day is supposed to be beautiful.

I didn’t do a lot yesterday afternoon.  I did stop and get a sub at Sub’s Plus and it was amazing.  I ordered a club sub, they used at least 6 slices of bacon and the turkey was real turkey, not that processed crap.

I had a nice nap in the afternoon, there’s a surprise.  I headed to Duff’s, it was a smaller group than I had originally planned so there were only 4 of us, but it was a good time.  Another friend from grade 7/8 was there, he and I shared a large (12 slice pizza) and 20 wings and we ate almost all of it which I was amazed by.  The pizza had pineapple, ham and hot peppers and it was amazing.  I got medium saucy wings.  Duff’s has not changed their recipes in the 25 years they’ve been around.  Alberta could learn a thing or two about making pizza and wings, but I have given up all hope on ever finding good pizza in Alberta.  I have found good wings, but nothing compares to Duff’s.  Oh well.

I watched the Yankees / Astros game last night.  The only runs scored in the game were in the first inning.  Verlander settled down after the first, but the damage was done and the normally potent offence of the Astros was silent last evening.  The final was 4-1 and the series returns to Houston tonight, no rest since there was a rained out game.  I am unsure who’s starting for Houston tonight, but, I am hoping it’s Cole.  Even on short rest, he’s a better pitcher than 99% of the pitchers in the league.  Knowing the doofus of a Manager that Houston has though, he won’t start him.  Hope it’s wrapped up tonight and then the Astros will have a few days of rest before the World Series starts.

I would have initially guessed that whatever AL team made it to the World Series would walk away with the title, but, seeing how well the National played against St. Louis, I think it will be a better series than I initially thought.  I still take the AL, either the Astros or the Yankees over the Nationals.

On tap for today is breakfast with a political friend and that’s happening pretty soon then a visit with another friend before I head to Hamilton for dinner at the Keg.  Tomorrow is the Bills game and following that is Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster.  Should be a good weekend, all in all.

I am looking forward to getting home, I am sure the IT Conference will zoom by and Thursday will be here before I know it.  It’s been a mostly good visit but I am anxious to get back to Alberta.

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Last day of my vacation…

Yesterday was a pretty relaxing day for sure.  I woke up way too early, per usual, but I napped on and off all morning, didn’t really get going until nearly 11am.  Headed to the Pen Centre which is a large shopping mall in the south end of the city.  Was supposed to meet with an old friend but he backed out which was too bad.  Did some walking around the mall and found a nice pair of boots on sale.  Headed back to my brother in laws place and watched Seven on Netflix.  Had two dinners last night as well, home made pasta sauce and then met a couple of friends from public school at Duff’s and had pizza and wings there.  It was great seeing them, I am friends with two of them on Facebook, but the 3rd guy I have not seen to chatted with in over 30 years.  Time does indeed fly.

Today will be more of the same.  I am meeting a friend from public school at a local park, I am bringing my brother in laws dogs and she is bringing her dog.  Should be good, the weather is supposed to be nice.

Tonight is another Duff’s night with a bunch of different people.  I love Duff’s so I can eat pizza and wings twice in two days.  It will be good to see people again as well.

Saturday, I am going for breakfast with a political friend and out to the Keg with a former co-worker.  That leads to Sunday and I am heading to Orchard Park New York to watch the Bills squish the Fish…  Yes, I realize that dolphins aren’t fish…  🙂

Monday evening our work conference starts and it should be good.  I am enjoying my visit but I am ready to go home.  I am pretty sure the remaining time will zip by.  Enjoy your weekend.

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A day to relax…

I was in Toronto yesterday for day two of my visit to the big city.  When I was walking down Yonge Street, I noticed that I could see more people in a block or two than there are in the area that I live in now.  I had two great experiences with cabs, the prices were excellent and far cheaper than Uber, I was actually surprised.  I went into the office as I was going for lunch with the new Director.  We went to a place near the office called C’Est What – a small pub in the lower level of a cool building.  We both got the exact same meal, some tomato soup with a little kick to it and jambalaya which was excellent.  We chatted mostly about work and support.  I avoided politics since I know he’s a Liberal compared to me being a Conservative so that would have ended in some sort of argument, at best.  Even though I am on vacation, I did a little work in the office, catching up on stuff that’s been on my plate for a while.

Last night was Meat Coma night at Copacabana in Toronto.  It was excellent, lots of different varieties of beef, chicken, shrimp, grilled pineapple which is simply amazing.  I went for dinner with three ex-coworkers, we had a great time, mostly talking about where they used to work and where I currently work.  We talked about other former co-workers, people who have left BDO, new people who have come in, all that fun stuff.  It was a good meal, good friends and a good time.

I drove my ex-boss home after dinner than set the GPS for St. Catharines and headed out.  What is with people who insist on driving in the passing lane regardless of who wants to pass them?  It’s very annoying.  Despite that, I made great time back and got in just before 10:30.  I went to sleep almost instantly, I needed it.

Today there are limited plans, which is good.  I think the weather is supposed to be sort of crappy, but, presuming it’s not raining too much, I will take my brother in-laws dogs for a walk, they’ll enjoy it.  I am heading to Duff’s tonight with three guys that I met in public school and I mean way back, between grades 1 and 4.  I have not seen any of them for 30 years, so it should be interesting for sure.  I am friends with two of them on Facebook, the 3rd, I have not heard from or about in a long, long time.

Nothing else planned for today, we will see what transpires.

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Craving a home-cooked meal…

I’m starting to greatly look forward to some home cooked food now. I’m getting tired of eating out.

Yesterday, I went to Craft Beer Market for lunch. I’m not a beer drinker, I’ve never liked try stuff. I had a Tex-Mex salad and it was excellent. I wanted something a bit lighter since I was going to Red Lobster for dinner. Dinner was great, ate way too much shrimp but it was good, as always.

I was unable to watch game three of the ALCS, except for the 8th and 9th so, at least I saw Houston win the game. It’s a good series and luckily, the Astros have found their bats. The winner will of course face Washington in the World Series after they demolished the Cardinals. It may be a better World Series than I thought.

Today, I’m heading somewhere for lunch, unsure where as yet, I will eat light though since I’m heading to Copacabana for dinner and what we’ve come to call Meat Coma. I’m heading out with three ex co-workers so it should be a good evening. I’ll be heading back to St. Catharines after dinner, it’ll be a bit more relaxing.

Happy Hump Day to all.

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Food, food and more food…

Thanksgiving Day in Canada was actually yesterday, although a lot of us actually have our Thanksgiving meal on the Sunday.  We were the same, last night, it was leftovers for dinner.

My day zoomed by.  I was up early, per normal but went back to bed around 5am and slept for another 3.5 hours.  We took the dogs for a walk and I stopped at Starbucks for my caffeine fix.  I had a nap on Sunday afternoon, there was no Bills game to watch since they had their bye week.  I was deep in sleep when the fire alarm went off, that’s a rude way to wake up.  LOL

We had leftovers for dinner and shortly after, my aunt, cousin and I headed for Toronto.  The traffic was pretty tight but it moved fairly well.  It was a late night though, didn’t go to bed until after midnight.

I went to Chick-fil-A for breakfast today and walked down to the office.  Had lunch with co-workers and now am waiting to leave to head to Red Lobster for Endless Shrimp for dinner.

If you think my trips revolve around food, you’d be correct, they do.  I will enjoy for you.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I woke up at 3am yesterday, same time as normal, except that I’m in Ontario, so Eastern Time as opposed to Mountain Time. Not a big deal, I guess my body has already switched over.

We went for breakfast to my old breakfast haunt, the Greasy Spoon as we call it, Golden Grill at the corner of Welland and Geneva in St. Catharines. Really good breakfast spot. We stopped in at Harvest Barn, I bought a cherry pie for Thanksgiving dessert. We took the dogs on a good walk out along the entrance to the Welland canal, the wind was brisk but it was turning into a nice day.

I had to meet with a friend over in Townawanda, he had a couple of shirts made for me, a Colorado shirt, in the Rockies purple and black and a Houston shirt in orange, both long sleeve shirts, and both with my baseball number, 21 on them. I also had a pullover shipped to him, it was far cheaper than having it shipped to Canada. I now have a mailing address in the US, in Eureka, Montana so I can get packages and what not and it’s only about an hour drive.

I picked up my aunt and cousin, they were joining us for dinner. Full turkey dinner and it was great. I made Brussels sprouts, with bacon and maple syrup, they were really good, we were all stuffed. Started to watch the ALCS last night, Yankees vs Houston, went to bed in about the 5th, just couldn’t stay awake, pretty lame.

Today I’ll head for Toronto for a few days, will be good to see coworkers, past and present and, of course, eat some food. Red Lobster for shrimp, Copacabana for all u can eat meat, a couple of lunches. I’m sure my week will fly by,

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers.

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A long day…

Friday was a half day at work.  We get out early on the Fridays before a long weekend when the holiday is a Monday, so the Thanksgiving holiday is the last one of the year.  I will take it, thanks.  The dogs were out on a pack hike so I zipped out to get some stuff done before my trip.

My first stop was my PO Box and low and behold, finally, I received a refund cheque from Rogers for my security deposit.  I canceled my Rogers Hub back at the end of June and it took them nearly 4.5 months to get me my refund.  It had escalated to “the Office of the President” and as impressive as that might sound, it’s not.  I received the worst customer service ever from that particular group.

So, anyway, cheque received, finally, thanks Rogers for the speedy service…  I went and voted, there was a steady line of people which is good.  John Barlow is the Conservative MP for the area and I would say, his job is safe.  I live in what is likely one of the most Conservative areas of Canada and that’s a good thing.  I just hope the rest of Canada smartens up and rids us of the Liberals.  The party should be decimated.  The alternatives aren’t any better in the NDP and Green and Max’s party is a good of malcontents.  Guess we will see in just over a week.

I got home, the dogs were back from their hike.  I had to pack my stuff for my trip – the dogs stuff was already in the car, ready to go.  We headed out a little later than I wanted to, when doesn’t that happen.  I dropped the dogs off at the Pet Resort and headed north Calgary.

I was supposed to go for dinner on Friday night.  I had four cancellations so I was starting to get a complex.  I ended up going to Cross Iron Mills mall just outside of Calgary.  Three years ago when I was there, I had a protective screen put on my phone and it did a great job, no scratches or anything so I had another one put on my new phone.  I browsed around the mall a bit, had dinner at Milestone’s and headed to where I am leaving my car for a couple of weeks.  I took a taxi to the airport and arrived hours before boarding.  I was able to kill off some time before getting to the airport but not enough.

I had a second dinner at Chili’s, good food.  I boarding around 11:50pm or so and we were in the air shortly after 12:15.  The last thing I remember on the plane was an announcement about drinks being served and then the next time I looked at my watch, it was 5:10am and we were getting close to Toronto.  I have never previously gone to sleep on a place, so it was a pleasant surprise.

We landed at 6am.  I picked up my luggage and headed to the Budget car rental place, I had a 7:30 reservation.  Apparently, when you book a car for 7:30, it’s not ready until 7:30 and if you want it earlier, you need to pay.  So, I headed back to the airport arrivals area and stood in line at the slowest Starbucks ever.  I have never seen a Starbucks with only 2 workers until now.  I bought my $7 latte and headed back to the rental place.

I had to wait a bit as it wasn’t yet 7:30.  Long story short (when do I ever tell a short story?) I didn’t get my car rental…  I had one credit card and I keep the credit limit low, only $300 as I don’t really trust myself.  There was no balance on the card at all so I had $300 in available credit.  According to the Budget web site, you can pay a security deposit via debit, so, when I booked, I wasn’t worried about it.  Nope, not the case.  So, I called Canadian Tire MasterCard.  I have not had the card long enough to get a credit limit increase, not even $100.  I suppose I could have asked to speak with a supervisor, but I dropped it.  So, no rental…  That sort of sucks.

I arrived in St. Catharines at noon, 6 hours after landing.  Complete insanity…

I was supposed to go to a friends house last night but I didn’t get a response from her all day.  My brother in law and I had dinner and snacks since I figured my plans were canceled.  I watched part of what turned out to be a very disappointing Astros – Yankees game 1 of the NLCS with the Yankees hammering the Astros.  Not a good start to be sure. I went to bed early, the Red Eye caught up to me I guess.  I woke at my normal “Alberta” time of 3am and here I am, writing a blog entry.

Today we have our Thanksgiving dinner.  My aunt and cousin are coming down from Toronto.  Should be a good time.  Tomorrow evening I head to Toronto for a few nights, lots planned, mostly food.  I am looking forward to my week of visiting with friends and family and eating.  My conference starts on the 21st and then I head back to Alberta on the 24th.  I am sure the time will fly.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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