Vegas and food poisoning, oh my!

So I managed to drop and break my camera on my second day in Vegas, so I only have like two photos to post (and I'll post them eventually, but they're not all that amazing or anything). The camera's likely fixable: I broke it the same way like 3 or 4 years ago now and brute forced it back together such that it worked for those 3-4 years, so it's still repairable I think. I just don't have the strength/skill to fix it immediately (which isn't to say that I didn't try).

On my way home from Vegas (in flight and in taxi), after having my flight delayed by 2 hours, I ran into a bout of what I can only guess was food poisoning, likely brought on by veggie consumption. The United States is the only place where I repeatedly deal with such serious bouts of food poisoning… which I suppose bodes fairly well for my travel plans, but I'd really rather it wasn't encouraging me not to consume vegetables! Still I'm mostly better from it now — I called in sick to work today to help myself recover, so I'll likely be 100% or nearly very shortly.

But yeah, Vegas was pretty great. Not only did I get to spend some awesome times with some absolutely amazing individuals from both my CKI years and my Kiwanis involvement, but I got to do a fair number of other awesome things:

– Saw my favorite concert of 2010 to date: Sgt. Pepper Live featuring Cheap Trick! Yes indeed it was Cheap Trick performing the entire Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band album plus some of their own songs. I expected that it would be good, given that I adore Cheap Trick and The Beatles, but I never even imagined that it would be THAT great! The music quality was fabulous: with a whole orchestra, backing vocals and indian instruments! And the stage craft was marvelous!

– Had my caricature drawn. I don't think it looks exceptionally like me, but for the low low price of free (thanks Kiwanis!) it was a fun experience.

– Saw lots of look-alikes. Not that this is particularly unique for a Vegas experience, but seeing the splitting image of Dean Martin (etc.) in the Exhibit hall was pretty great!

– Saw Colin Powell address us all. Now, I would rave more about the experience if I were an American, but it was a pretty great address, all told — just a bit US-centric for my tastes.

– Téa Leoni introduced our new worldwide service project: eliMiNaTe! The project is to rid the world of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus in the next five years, and is in conjunction with UNICEF! 🙂

– I ate at the Paris Village Buffet. I rate it as better than the Buffet at the Bellagio, though I was very disappointed with the risotto. JD has gotten me somewhat risotto addicted (heck I've been making it myself). Regardless, risotto should not be THAT crunchy.

– The SLP alumni reunion event at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville was pretty awesome. Lots of folks to go see, and if I drank I would have had the opportunity to consume a LOT of alcohol… free flowing drink tickets!

– Jay Leno was a great event! He fired off humor at like a mile a minute! And to have his talk prefaced by a great singer didn't hurt either! In fact all the little entertainment acts that Kiwanis had in for our pleasure were pretty good.

– Cirque du Soleil's VivaElvis was awesome! I loved how it told a story, wove live music and song together, and featured some awesome Cirque action! My favorite bit was the trampoline bit with the superheros!

– I evaluated a tv pilot for a show that actually entertained me — and got free Starbucks and arcade tokens (plus coupons) as a result. Not bad for a half hour!

– I ate out at Japonais in the Mirage. It was expensive, sure, but worth it to eat such yummy nibbles of Japanese food done well!

– Cirque du Soleil's Beatles LOVE was good but not as amazing as Sgt. Pepper Live. There were just so many things to catch my eye such that I could see myself watching this show again from a different angle/seat just to see more. I find sometimes a downside of cirque is that there are far too many things going on at once to be able to catch them all!

– Cirque du Solei's O was fabulous. Perhaps the best Cirque show I've seen to date (I'd rank it and KA as equals for acrobatics) and definitely surrounding a wonderful theme (all cirque shows are different but this one was great! Water, acrobatics, swimming, imagination… how could this go wrong? Plus I had great seats for all the shows I saw, so this one certainly was ranked as a good one!

– I made it out to the cheaper/less fancy outlet stores, and actually bought some new sandals, a top and got a massage on my last day in Vegas. I'm very glad I did so, as the sandals were much needed: athletic and very practical but suiting my style and at a good price! I also purchased one of those convertible dresses and watched quite a few little free shows during my stay in Vegas. As for gambling, I ended up spending $3 on that entertainment which really isn't bad for that many hours of slot play. I'm not a big gambler, but in Vegas, I'll play a little.

So yeah, that was Vegas. I did spend a bit more than I had initially planned on entertainment, but it's all within budget, and I did come home to an email notifying me that I have won a QE II scholarship, so my finances will look better for the coming year anyhow.

Leaving for Vegas…

… and while I'm quite a bit more excited (I bought a ticket to VivaElvis, now that discounts seem to be available!), I'm still in no mood to travel so soon after the last trip. I have so very much to catch up on, and I'm by no means finished the paper that I've been writing. I'm kind of disappointed in myself on that regard…

On the positive side though, it seems that I have a TONNE of friends (former and current SLPers and Kiwanians) who will be in Vegas so it certainly won't be lonely. And if I don't come up with better plans (I might) there are at least 3 more Cirque shows I could seek out… not sure if I will (though Beatles LOVE is a certain must I think). As you may expect, the thing I like best about Vegas are the shows, so who knows if I'll catch others. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band featuring Cheap Trick is pretty high on my list of potential options for example, so we'll see what's available when I get to Vegas. As it is, there are quite a few convention related things to do and see, and well I seem to have built at least some downtime into my schedule.

Not sure if I'll pay for internet while I'm there. If I do, I'll likely post at least semi-frequently. If not, well, I'll be playing catch up when I'm back. I've already seen most of the Vegas 'attractions' but the shows and the food are all pretty high on my list of things to do. Plus spend time with people I care about!

In other news, as I said before, my desire to cook has returned! Today I made a sort of cheesy potato casserole thing based on a quick online search. It turned out to be really delicious, so it's too bad I won't get to eat it as leftovers for the next week (then again I can have some for breakfast before I fly, as I seem to be mostly out of breakfast food).

Perhaps I should finish packing, as I do want to get a little sleep? We'll see. My goal is to be caught up on at least a few things before I leave home.

Thoughts on the upcoming trip to Vegas

So I'm going to Vegas this week. And I'm not entirely looking forward to it. I mean, yes, I do go to a tonne of unusual/not necessarily traditional or expected cities for conventions, and sure Vegas does have a certain draw, but I've been there twice since 2007 (2007 and 2009). I may be a bit tired of the whole wandering thing (which isn't stopping me from planning my other trips though), so that might have something to do with it and I may become more excited as time goes on… but still.

I am looking forward to Kiwanis International Convention of course. It's an opportunity to see people I haven't seen in ages (years for some, months for others etc.), it's an opportunity for fun and personal development, and yes it's a chance to represent my club at the House of Delegates and so on. But I don't find any particular issues so controversial that all the politicking will be my cup o' tea either, so I'm a bit ho hum about that. I'm a bit drained when it comes to Kiwanis at the moment — not because I'm not eager or excited or wanting to change things, learn more, develop myself and others etc., but because I've probably bitten off more than I could adequately chew in that department in the past several years (chartering a club and having a district position at the same time as the rest of my life was probably a bit time consuming, not to mention ressource intensive), and the setbacks have been multiple… which doesn't mean I won't plow ahead and continue to work at that which I am working on, but at the same time it does make the whole convention scene a bit less exciting than it was when I attended as a CKIer, when I wasn't in the thick of things.

I do however look forward to meeting new Kiwanians. I want to meet some Kiwanians from the Norden district for example: partially because I didn't make it out to any Kiwanis meetings during my trip to Oslo (or any of my other non-Kiwanis related trips this year, really). I'm looking forward to sessions by Colin Powell, Jay Leno, and Cory Johnson. And heck, Kiwanis International puts on a great show!

But I'm physically drained. I need my 8 hours sleep a night and I damn well know that I don't get it during convention season. This year more than any other, any small sleep deprivation episode has been catching up with me, which is damn annoying. Mentally, I think I'm better off than I've been in years. Physically I'm working at being in better shape than I have been since starting grad school. But I'm no automaton.

I'm not a gambler (though I may play some penny slots like always). I'm not a drinker (I don't drink). And I'm not much for club attendance (though, sure there've been times when I've had a grande ol' time). So I'm really looking forward to the people but not necessarily all the trappings of Vegas. Plus, I have no idea how much internet costs in my hotel room, and I really truly think that it's an expense that I probably should incurr… I'm also behind at things at home — not so horribly behind that I'm not getting stuff done, but behind enough that I'm frustrated.

On the positive note, this may be my summer of Cirque du Soleil. The plan is to see at least a couple Cirque shows while I'm in Vegas (I'm still debating which ones, as I've already seen KA and Zumanity). Perhaps a life goal could be to see all the Cirque shows that interest me? It's an acheivable one I think. I do rather love the shows/entertainment in Vegas.

And I do rather love a lot of the food in Vegas. Sure some of it sucks — but that's true nearly every place. And it's not necessarily cheap. I'll probably wander on my own a bit to find some restaurants that have ALWAYS made me happy in Sin City. Heck if I had to name a sin that I partake in most… it would be gluttony. I do love food!

But yeah that's the plan. If I make it out to do any shopping that wouldn't surprise me much either… I did promise myself to do certain things on my travels, and with relation to souvenirs as I go forward, but buying things willy nilly isn't one of them!

Feeding the mind, body and soul…

Gosh it feels good to talk to people. As I've mentioned before, I don't do well without human interaction. I need balance, and balance for me is a constant battle but one that I don't plan on giving up on any time soon. So yesterday being back at work wasn't an altogether bad thing: I like my coworkers/customers etc… even if things don't often go as planned. And the routine isn't half bad either… particularly when I don't have to be there every day.

Last night I finally went to Teddy's. I've lived beside it for almost 10 years and this is the first time I ate there. Good food, surprisingly good actually! Beth and I then went for a good walk. I felt like a bit of a dolt when I was nearly sliding down a hill into the river valley but Beth was kind enough to help me regain my balance (on the hill, not in life).

But yeah, my good habits gained on this trip seem to be holding, and I'm doing dishes/cleaning/organizing semi-frequently… I just need to get back on a roll with this paper I'm writing (when papers get too easy I procrastinate them, it's a damn bad habit!).

But first, it's off to work with me…

Back to the balancing act…

My life is a balancing act: I value balance between work, school, social spheres, fitness, health etc. far more than I do many other things. And it isn't an easy job to balance these things. So when I have a day when I get more settled in my mind, more prepared for the future, or otherwise in a better mindset, I'm a rather happy camper.

Today is one of those days. Although I'm sitting here listening to my roommate and her friend talking/discussing, I'm in a far better mental space than yesterday for example. It's been a good day: I talked with Graham, communicated with JD, ate relatively healthy food, slept for a good amount, and yes, got further caught up on internet things. Yes, I'm clearly good at letting the internet be the distraction that it is.

But I'm getting somewheres, and I'm prepping for both a trip to Vegas and working on a paper that I had been postponing for quite some time. I have quite a few shifts left (5) before I leave for Vegas next week, plus a meeting, some social encounters and so on, but it's definitely been a good day. And I'm getting back into an exercise regime. My Wii Fit was happier with me today than it was a couple days ago which is a nice start.

Perhaps I should remember to eat food? Yes, indeed that should be a plan. I think I'm hungry?

Home sweet home?

I'm home. And it's a place that I can call my own, full of my own clutter (I feel like I ought to be doing a TONNE of cleaning right now — JD has likely been a good influence on me in at least that area: wanting to clean, organize and do dishes on a *gasp* regular basis. Sure I'll never be perfect, but hells bells it'll be a whole lot easier if I de-clutter etc. So we'll see. I do have this habit of acquiring stuff at a ridiculous rate on occasion, but I've done better in recent years at divesting myself of things for which I have no longterm use, and upgrading from one thing to another often times instead of just getting more.

But yeah, my flight came in on Saturday afternoon (late afternoon/early evening) after a busy last day or so in Victoria. It was good to get to see Matthew, Tessa and their beautiful baby girl that evening. Finnegan was also pretty fun: I got to walk the dog for a bit before a most excellent dinner (Tessa's a great cook). I look forward to seeing them again in Edmonton this coming week? I also got to play cards with the UofA folks before bed. I took the shuttle to the airport with a fellow DHSI attendee, and took the shuttle home with Stan to talk to, so I wasn't bored.

Upon my arrival home, I slept 12 hours. It was well needed, as my energy reserves get depleted a lot sooner now than they used to. Maybe I'm getting older, or maybe I'm in a different life stage. I don't know.

So, yesterday I spent my time catching myself up with life a bit, and today was much of the same with an intermission of catching myself up with JD. And that was a well-needed conversation — not an easy one mind you, but a much needed one. I think I need some time off from life (you know put life on pause) to really become introspective. Not that I have that time, but I need it, damn it, boy do I ever. Long distance ain't ever easy, and making decisions that'll keep us both happy won't be easy — at least until such a point when a) we're no longer separated for the majority of the time by time zones and continental divides, b) we're no longer in a relationship c) we're friends but not romantically involved. And as I don't particularly like any of those options, life won't be easy — at least for the time being. Hence discussions. But I think discussions are healthy and I'm damn happy to be in the mind-space I'm in at the moment. Even if it does mean I shed a tad bit more tears than usual. Even if it means that FEELING things hurts. Even if life doesn't end up happily ever after or anything, I think I feel better for having lived it.

So who knows what the future will hold? Tonight I surrounded myself with friends at Pub Monday (to be frank, I'm tired of pub grub at the moment, and look forward to cooking/prepping my own meals, even if I'm not a good cook or anything. Not sure if JD has anything to do with my mental shift from a 'not wanting to cook at all' phase to a 'cooking might be a good idea' phase — if he does, good. If not, well I'm happy for the change anyhow).

I'm mildly frustrated that the post office returned a package yesterday (though yesterday was a Sunday) even though Beth had specifically talked to them to ensure that they'd save it until today. I have no idea from whom it was, however there's not much I can do about it now. I'm also a bit frustrated that I was depositing American cheques when the bank exchange rates give me less than the face value in Canadian currency. Sure it's close, but still!

And finally Twitter providing me the fail whale is annoying. Sure sure, I shouldn't be griping all the time, but heck, I'm not always the happiest of campers, and while I temper my online postings (I do, sure it's a livejournal, but that doesn't mean that my most intimate of thoughts get posted online, because that's not always the wisest thing for me to do in such a public medium).

My so-called vacation winds down

DHSI is over for the year. DHSI 2011 looks to be pretty rad though — not sure if I'll attend, I certainly doubt I'd have the luck to get nearly as great of funding as I did in winning the ACH scholarship in addition to the SSHRC scholarship to attend. I haven't asked for or requested any other funding this time around though so who knows what'll happen for the future.

Last night I played Citadels and Small World with Dan and his friends (from as long back as high school or previous). I was glad to get out and try a new board game! The dynamic of Small World was rather great though Citadels took longer than I imagined that it would.

Today was mostly school related as of yet. The Indian food on this campus is delicious. The course ended on a completely positive note, and the presentations (one per class) were rather awesome! I'm glad to have had the opportunity to take part. I'm very glad to have been able to have the chance to see people here, and I'm super glad that the course went as well as it did.

Hmmm… I'm actually somewhat looking forward to returning home now. Not because I'm tired of traveling, but because it's getting to be time. It'll be good to get nose-to-grindstone and do some work at home, in addition to not living out of a suitcase for a bit (even if it's only a very short bit).

At the very least I should be able to be better in touch with JD when I'm not in solid classes from 8:30-5pm every day.

Okay on a more positive note… Banquets and board games!

So last night was the banquet for DHSI. It was an evening of REALLY slow service (honestly we didn't get fed until 9pm or so), but we ate with our class and had a good time overall. I got to meet Cindy's husband, and have some good discussions re: the state of the post-secondary education system in the USA and Canada. Interesting stuff, really!

Interestingly not only have I been spending time with Matthew (and have played board games with him) I've also run into McKenzie (he invited me to board games but I had the banquet). And tonight I have plans (well hopefully) with Dan and others to play board games as well? It should be good stuff!

DHSI has certainly been worth it to me — and not just because I got the SSHRC and the ACH scholarships to attend (though both help significantly!). I've learned a lot in the grad student lectures, the classes and yes, indeed the institute lectures. Tomorrow it all ends (and Saturday I fly back to Edmonton).

Yes, Edmonton I am coming back! After 5 weeks away, I'll certainly have a fair bit to catch up upon: but it'll be good to go through my mail, to work on my RA projects again, to catch up on the various internet things I've been ignoring…

And yes, to be home. It'll be good to be home, if only for just over a week!

Now perhaps I should find me some food? I'm vaguely hungry…

The perils of becoming connected online

a.k.a. why exactly did she block me on Twitter? I mean she's a brilliant scholar, a wonderful person with whom I've been taking class this last week and a great person with whom I've socialized and yet though she's one of the more active twitterites, she's blocked me from following her. It doesn't make sense, and it hurts a bit to realize it.

Maybe I'm just in a 'mood' or something. Maybe I just need a hug and realize that everyone I know well enough to provide a hug is nowhere nearby… Maybe (quite likely) I'm overtired (two weeks of travel and conferences could very well do that)… or hungry (it's been quite a few hours since the dahl I ate for lunch).

I dunno. It's definitely a downside when I'm in a social mood and I simply don't know anyone around to be social with. Not that I expect other to do all the work or anything (because I don't) but being in a contrary mood like this, on the verge of tears (for no REAL reason at all) is just silly.

So it's time to grow up (again) and have a damn good evening!

My phone thought I was in America…

So, today at DHSI was pretty excellent. Sure, yesterday was pretty awesome too, but today was somehow just as good or better. Heck this bodes well for the week — although I'm not sure I should be awake right now… I'm pretty tired.

The first day I arrived here (Saturday) I got settled and then went for a wonderful walk with friends. The next day (after a great breakfast) we met again for brunch at rebar and some shopping with baby before some board games. I registered for the course and then began to have some breathing problems. Nothing terribly unusual as I could still talk but was in discomfort as I walked down the hill to Smuggler's Cove Pub for dinner with Harvey and others.

Monday was the first day. The course goes well. At the University Club in the evening I saw a raccoon, turtle and ducklings. This was pretty nifty. I then met up with friends with whom I went to QVs for board games. We played two games and ate some great food that evening. I am definitely having a great time!

Today was the graduate student lunch. On our way there we saw some deer (please note that I am NOT mentioning every bunny encounter — there are way too many to count them!). The food was excellent. In the evening I went to the campus pub — en route I saw a bunny stubbornly stop in the middle of the ring road. The driver of the car gave up on waiting and got out to shoo the bunny away so that he didn't have to run it over. I also saw a bus on a truck. It was a strange time! The Campus Pub was good though — I met up with many whom I had read on Twitter. One even studies Scandinavian literature so that was pretty cool.

After dinner, Dan and I met up so that we could go for a walk in Beacon Hill Park. So much fun it was climbing over rocks by the ocean! Dan was incredibly helpful leading me to good places! We even found $15 on the ground on our walk! Strangely while in this area, my cell phone sent me the message that I was somehow in the United States and started using AT&T as it's carrier. This made NO sense! Fortunately I didn't use it and it reverted back to Bell Canada eventually (after a reboot and a change of location). I also walked out on the wall thing in the ocean closer to downtown. It was nearly dusk but still a fun walk!

After our walk we went to QVs for dessert (with the $15 that was found). Yummy food of course! And a good end to an eventful evening. And now, after a day full of Twitter and fun, food and learning, lectures and networking, I will head to bed.