Thursday, June 30, 2011

Black Flies

Me:  I have a lot of black fly bites :(

Mom:  Yes megan said im your hair you need a hat or hood

Me:  I had a net but they got inside somehow.  Most of my bites are around my waist though because they went up my shirt.

Mom:  Wow there must be lots there are they very itchy

Me:  Yes so itchy.  The black flies are terrible up here they just swarm your head everywhere you go if it is sunny out.

Mom:  Hope theyre not bad at was cause sew lake how do they get under a shirtonad bv The lake they were bad you had yelts all over your back

Me:  I don't understand what onad bv means

Mom:  Oops dont have a clue either Haha

Mom:  Just saw aaron neville walk through the bess bv The jazz fest cool huh

Mom:  Bee vee equals at fyi Haha

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two Months' Salary

First of all - this post is not meant to offend, or to make anyone feel guilty about their choices or possessions.  Unless you are actually super shallow, then shame on you.

I don't have a diamond on my engagement ring, and I couldn't be happier about it.  It's a recycled sterling silver band with a moissanite stone - so it LOOKS like a diamond and will always look like a diamond and will last as long as a diamond - but it didn't cost thousands and thousands of dollars.  Which is awesome, because we need thousands and thousands of dollars to buy a house, not for me to wear around on my finger and worry about losing or getting cut off by a mugger in New York City or something.  Brahm and I picked it out sort-of together (I found the band on Etsy, he worked with the jewelery maker to order the stone) and it was custom made just for me, which is about a million times more special than him going to some random jewelery store and saying "give me your finest blood diamond, my budget knows no bounds just like my love."

So anyway this morning I was reading a book about wedding etiquette from the 70s (surprisingly modern in some ways, but sexist enough for some good laughs all the same) and got curious as to what the Internet considers to be "groom's duties" in modern times, since the book basically said his duties are to buy rings, plan the honeymoon, pay the minister and show up on time (actually).

In doing so, I stumbled across a couple of "groom" websites and somehow made my way to this article about how much a man should spend on an engagement ring.  If you don't want to read it (but you should, it's got some interesting facts about how diamonds first started getting marketed as the only way to show a woman you love her), I don't quite get it for this reason: it flat out says that the symbolism of a diamond in an engagement ring was started by JEWELERY COMPANIES (DeBeers, specifically) and then basically agrees that you probably should spend two months' salary on a ring.  At least it mentions that you might want to discuss it with your future wife first.

The more enraging part though is in the comments of the article. There are a good number of reasonable comments but others just drive me nuts:

I fully agree with the 2 month salary rule. If you are serious about being with your partner for a lifetime, you should get her the absolute best diamond you can afford! This is something she will wear forever and something your children and grandchildren will see. I have a $40k ring and I think it is worth every penny. It brings me so much joy and even keeps other guys away when they see it! My husband made the choice to pass up buying a sports car to get me my dream ring instead. Every time I look down at it I am reminded of how much he loves me and the sacrifices he makes for me.
By "other guys" do you also mean muggers?

So I am one of these girls that got a rather cheap ring... It was $950 but because he asked me on xmas he also got a discount of 30%.. i love the ring but at every wedding we go to, i am always the girl at the table with the smallest ring... the last few weddigs i just say i didnt wear it cuz it dont fit just hurts my feelings. i feel like i wasnt worth it... my husband makes 5 grand a month.. i make 7 grand.. my husband also bought me a heart shaped neckless once, it was 69.00 the one i wanted my whole like was 149.00 he bought the cheap one instead of the one i wanted, that hurt husband spends 150.00 a month on a car that has been parked in our garage for 3 years in insurance, he spent 10 grand on a painting back in 2008... so my advice is add up what you spend on beer in a year and buy her a right worth more then that!
These people clearly have issues with communication that aren't just about her ring... yikes.

Next, a lot of reasonable people said "WTF, I would rather have a house than a 40k ring, I do have priorities" including this post about the silliness of it all:

I have a 1.5 carat high quality FAKE diamond.. i get compliments on it all the time and jealous glances..cuz it sparkles like crazy.. Nobody know the difference.. It made me realise how stupid the whole engagement ring thing is.. It is all just for show and an attempt to make other people around you jealous. And the funny thing is my fiance is a successful professional with a 6 figure annual salary.. so nobody doubts that my ring is real.. engagement ring is a sign of commitment my arse.. a simple gold wedding band can show as much commitment. diamonds don't make a happy marriage or guarantee that your husband will be faithful .. simple human effort does that.. People nowadays are just stupid and materialistic and have their priorites all twisted. our grandparents marriages lasted longer than hours and they couldn't afford 1 carat diamond ring or even a half carat. Start living in reality people!! 

and this breath of fresh air responded:

this sounds like a lot of insecure ranting from people who can't afford/ did not receive a DECENT ring. I 100% agree with the opinion that there is no need to go overboard and to buy a huge diamond. But you still want something that goods decent and classy. A modest ring CAN be beautiful. But you want modest, not CHEAP. When people hear your girl is engaged, the first thing they ask is to see the ring. Do you want to embarrass her with a $500 piece of crap that screams my fiance doesnt give a shit? And that makes them think "poor girl." Unless you REALLY CAN'T afford $2,500 for a decent ring, you are just being miserable. You usually can't find a respectable diamond ring for less than that- as this article states. To the man a piece of jewelry doesn't matter, but guess what? It's not about YOU. It shows that you took the time and made the sacrifice to invest in something that IS important to most women. And as for the girl bragging about her fake diamond, I am glad I'm not fooling people and lying everytime I show my ring. Some suggestions for making a smaller diamond stand out more is to get a bigger, more ornate setting with the diamond set INTO the setting rather than on prongs. Then the diamond is part of the ring rather than the centerpiece of the ring. 
I actually didn't realize people think like this.  If you don't spend at least 2.5k you are "miserable"?  And I kind of think the whole "it proves you are willing to make sacrifices" is a little bit of BS as well.  There are other ways to make sacrifices, if that's what you need for "proof" that the guy is marriage material.  I also highly doubt that this woman would consider it a "sacrifice" if her beloved put the same money he spent on her ring towards a down payment on a house.  A mortgage is inevitable but a diamond is forever, right?

There's more:

After reading this article and subsequent comments, I'm pretty disapointed in the engagement ring I am wearing. My fiance proposed to me in a time in our life when we are entering economic hardships and I am having trouble understanding why he decided this was a good time to blow $700 on a ring. I feel that he should have waited for a better time when he could have saved up and bought me something a little nicer. I am a little bit embarrased to show the ring to anyone because the diamonds are so tiny. Am I horrible person for wanting more? I love him but I feel like something is awry because I have established a successful entry level career position and he is getting his work hours as a salesman cut in half. If anyone has any advice, I'd love to hear it.
Um well maybe he got you a ring he could afford because he LOVED YOU and wanted to MARRY you and, silly him, he thought you would be happy about that rather than wish he had waited to propose until he could buy an expensive ring.  Yes, advice - stop sucking as a person.

And finally, my personal favourite:

What anyone considers excessive or too expensive is relative. My girlfriend and I are young professionals living in Washington D.C, and we both make about 70K per year. I make enough money now to afford a 10K ring, but I can further justify it by assuming that I'll be making twice as much money in ten years given that I'm a level 2 in my company and expect to receive regular promotions and raises. 10-15K for an engagement is pretty much the norm for anyone working in a competitive professional industry. I'd even say that buying or wearing a cheap ring (under 10k) would seriously cripple both your social and professional life. Conversely, if you are a blue collar worker making less than 50k, and have pretty much peaked in terms of earning potential, than a 10K ring would absolutely put you in permanent debt. The same is true for low level professional workers in mid-size cities. If you aren't willing or able to save 10K for a wedding ring, you probably shouldn't get married and definitely should not be having kids. If you aren't smart or responsible enough to save 10K, you definitely aren't serious enough to get married.
WHAT???  A "cheap" say, 8k ring would cripple you professionally?  You shouldn't have kids if you don't have a 10k+ ring?  I think most of us are capable of saving 10 grand but not necessarily willing to blow it on a piece of jewelery... just wow.  I honestly didn't realize these opinions existed in real life.

Well there you have it... and like I said before, this is not meant to offend anyone.  If you are the wearer of a very expensive engagement ring but you and your partner are both happy about it, then I'm happy for you.  I will not look down on your choices if you are comfortable with what you spent.  However I wanted to showcase how the "two months' salary a diamond is forever blah blah blah" marketing campaign has worked terrifyingly well, judging from the number of commenters on the article who fully agree that a small diamond makes them feel worthless, or judge others on the size of their stone.  To me, that is so sad.

A marketing campaign that makes people question their self-worth based on possession of material goods is nothing new, but all the same I'm really glad we didn't participate in the "traditional" wedding custom of a diamond engagement ring.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lessons in Dehydration - Again

You'd think I would have learned my lesson about hydrating myself properly last summer.  (For any new readers, last summer I went to Prague on a university trip and walked around all day without drinking anything and then when I did drink something my face expanded because I was dehydrated and my face retained water.)  However, today I did something really stupid again.  Here's hoping I have ACTUALLY learned my lesson this time, because the consequences today were felt a lot more than having an expanding face.

I got up at 4:45 to drive Brahm to the airport.  He was home for the weekend and went back to Montreal on the 6 am flight.  After the airport I went home and just sort of sat around watching TV, reading books, etc. all morning.  At about 10, after eating my second breakfast (I had some fruit when I got home around 6) my sister Allyson asked if I wanted to go for a bike ride.  She said it wasn't a long or difficult ride - just from our house near the university to the Circle Drive Bridge, across the river and back across the University Bridge.  (Google Maps tells me this is approximately 8 km now that I check.) 

It was all fine until we got near the end of the journey and had to bike uphill across the university bridge.  By the time I got across, I was starting to see black and had to get off my bike and sit in the grass.  I didn't necessarily feel ridiculously winded or anything but I was going to pass out.  I realized that I had not put any fluids into my body since supper the night before.  After resting for a bit I tried to walk my bike the rest of the way home, but it wasn't happening.  Allyson had to come pick me up in her car.

Scary and really dumb.  Always remember to drink some water in the morning, especially before you go out and exercise, even if the exercise isn't that strenuous.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Iceland - Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

It's hard to really pick a favourite thing we did or saw in Iceland, but if I had to pick it would probably be the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.  Icebergs break off the Vatnajökull glacier and float out into the lagoon where they melt or float out into the ocean.  They are huge and white and blue and changing all the time, and when we were there a lot of them were covered with ash from Grimsvotn.

We took a boat tour because we were just so into this place, if it hadn't been slightly chilly and sprinkling rain I could have sat there and looked at these things all day.

It was really even bluer than that!

 The long dark strip in the background is the glacier.

 Tasting the glacier ice - the drinking water there was SO pure and delicious.

 If you look closely you can see some dogs on the boat :)

 My best picture of the lagoon, with someone's hat brim just slightly ruining the bottom of the picture :(

Monday, June 6, 2011

Texts From Our Mom

My sister Allyson left something in her friend Heather's car and then Heather drove back to Humboldt.  My mom needed to go pick up whatever it was that Allyson left in Heather's car from Heather's house.

Allyson: Heather said her dog is by the door but he is nice. He might jump but is a good dog.
Mom: If the fog eats me im texting you and im going on my bike now
Allyson: Hahahahahahahahah fog
15 minutes later...
Mom: Got your stuff didnt see the fog saw his food bowl

I guess they just really wanted me to see X-Men

If you are a dedicated longtime reader, you might remember my vow to never go to Cineplex theatres again because of their sketchiness in how they store people's movie watching history, as well as having the worst website.  Unfortunately, I don't think I've been back since that fiasco so I forgot about the vow.  Okay maybe I remembered the vow, but when someone invites you to a movie and you say "no I can't, I hate Cineplex even though I have nothing else to do tonight" it doesn't really work so you just have to suck it up.

So anyway I remembered the vow but forgot why I took the vow (terrible terrible customer service and a broken website).  So when my friend said "buy your ticket online so you get extra bonus points!" I was like "oh yeah good call."

We were going to see the 10:10 show for Bridesmaids.  I logged in to the terrible website and started entering my information.  I clicked through to the page where I had to enter my Visa number (which, by the way, took about 4 pages of info entering already - BAD DESIGN) and noticed that the price was higher than what the original ticket I selected had said.  Curious, I skimmed the page to see what had changed.  This is what it was asking me to enter my Visa number to go see:

X-Men: First Class in CALGARY.  WTF Cineplex?  Good thing I double checked.

To reverse this I had to go all the way back to the beginning of the process.  I had to re-log in, re-select my movie (which I had selected before but for whatever reason the Cineplex website just decided to change the movie and the city on me), and finally the Visa page was showing that I was actually buying a ticket for Bridesmaids in Saskatoon.

After about 5 more confirmations, I saw an email waiting for me in my inbox.  I downloaded the pdf confirmation/movie ticket which had my name and email address on it but was for TWO TICKETS to, you guessed it, X-Men at the Chinook Centre.

We were supposed to be leaving for the theatre in less than an hour at this point so I was getting annoyed.  I called Guest Services and was promptly put on hold, but while I waited I noticed another confirmation email, this time for the correct movie and location.  I looked at the X-Men confirmation again and saw that it hadn't been my credit card charged for the transaction, but someone else didn't get their tickets because the excellent Cineplex website is in the business of emailing tickets to the wrong address!

So let this be a lesson to me AGAIN, as well as anyone else reading - be careful about buying Cineplex tickets online!  They might just sent your ticket to the wrong person, or redirect you to buy a ticket for the wrong movie in the wrong city.

I hope I have learned my lesson now and if you ever go to a movie with me, please remind me to pay cash at the box office from now on.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


An edge-of-your-seat story about my continued hatred of Cineplex.

Iceland - Waterfall Edition

Waterfalls were everywhere in Iceland!  We joked that most of the tiny waterfalls we saw by the side of the road every km or two would be major tourist attractions in Saskatchewan, but there they were basically NBD (no big deal if you aren't hip and happening enough to catch that).  Here are a few of the waterfall highlights:

This one was in Þingvellir National Park and our first waterfall of the trip!  It was also our introduction to Icelandic safety measures - there basically are none.  Shortly after I took this picture some kids climbed up on those rocks in front of the waterfall.  Awesome!

Goðafoss - waterfall of the gods. The story goes that in around the year 1000 when Iceland was officially converted to Christianity, statues of the Norse gods were thrown into this waterfall.

Icelandic safety measures were also in effect here - you could walk right to the edge of the cliff and look down the waterfall.

We really did get this close!  My camera barely zooms at all.

Next, we hiked to find Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.  We couldn't find the trail (it was buried in snow) so we just followed footprints and waterfall noise and found this one.  However this was just the baby waterfall that feeds Dettifoss (but it was actually a pretty huge waterfall itself).

Ah, there are the trail markers.

We didn't get any good pictures of the whole of Dettifoss - there was a lot of snow and going down to the next level of cliff seemed a little dangerous.  This is what it would look like though from the other side (from Wikipedia):

See that person standing beside it?  We still got the effect of how huge it was from being there, even though the pictures don't really show it.

Icelandic safety measures alive and well at Dettifoss (note the rock fence to prevent you from going over the edge).

Waterfalls like this one were a pretty common sight out the car window!

The bottom of Svartifoss, "The Black Falls."  We thought this was it but then hiked another km to get there:

Amazing basalt formations!  The sign in the background says "This fence is here to protect the vegetation.  If you want to get closer to the waterfall, step on the river rocks."

Worth hiking uphill for 2 km... I GUESS.

A small waterfall we found after hiking to the end of a ridiculously steep canyon!  I was sort of terrified when Brahm did this:


Skogafoss.  I bought a painting of this one.  We did not hike to the top because we were sort of getting sick of uphill hiking that day.

Skogafoss up close and personal.

Saving the best for last?  Seljalandsfoss, the waterfall you can go behind!

All suited up and ready to go behind the waterfall!  Seriously so dangerous, it was so slippery!

The backside of water!

Completely soaked after doing the loop behind the waterfall!  But it was our last stop of the day and totally worth it!  Like going on Splash Mountain but in nature.

Oh I guess Seljalandsfoss wasn't our last one - sadly, Gulfoss was somewhat easy to forget even though it was a gorgeous two-tiered waterfall (and the most popular tourist waterfall in Iceland) because of how horribly windy it was that day!  It was uncomfortable to be anywhere!

Me leaning back into the wind and not falling over.

The new Canon Rebel T3 around my neck was totally worth it - so happy with how my pictures turned out!

We saw many, many more waterfalls but these were some of the most memorable!