Monday, June 27, 2005

Welcome To Vancouver!

pretty funny!

This sign was spotted right off the Lion's Gate bridge / Stanley Park before turning to Denman Street. I'm pretty sure that this sign wasn't posted by the City of Vancouver!

Getting Teeth Pulled Out: Not So Fun

On Friday I took the day off work and went to apply for my Chinese Visa. It was fast and easy, even though the place was packed. I was one of only 4 non-Chinese at the Embassy. I better get used to it!

Afterwards I went and hung out at Chapters, killing time before my appointment to get my wisdom teeth pulled out. I bought myself a couple magazines and a Japan guidebook, as well as a great coffee table book called 1001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die. I would have bought all of my guide books had Chapter had anything in stock!

After about an hour there I hopped onto the bus and headed for the specialist. I wasn't too nervous, surprisingly. I arrived, went for x-rays, and sat in my chair. Then, I got nervous. But my dentist was nice and funny, and he kinda looked like an opera singer. He gave me two options: to go under, or to stay awake but get frozen. To be awake meant 8 shots to freeze my mouth, while to go under meant $500 extra not covered by my insurance company. I was really tempted to go with the easy route but frankly I can't afford it, so I decided to stay awake. And I got even more nervous. He shot me 8 times at different spots in my mouth, and it was not pleasant let me tell you. Those shots at the roof of my mouth were really bad, and tears rolled down my cheeks while he was poking me everywhere. But he was nice, and he wiped my tears.

When he returned about 10 minutes later I was pretty frozen. He asked me questions but I couldn't really talk. I think that he was trying to figure out just how frozen I was. Then it started: i got to lie down and he pulled out the instruments. He held my jaw and pulled like I never imagined. My teeth did not want to move! He seemed confused. "You have good bones!" wasn't very amusing to learn at that point. Finally one tooth gave away, but the roots stayed in. He had to drill and break my tooth to get them out. And then, it was the same thing with the next tooth. With half my mouth done, he moved on to the right side and then it got worst.

During the entire time, I was shaking uncontrollably, crying. I tried to control my shakes but I couldn't. They gave me a blanket but it didn't really help... and then we got started again. During everything I kept telling myself that if I could do this, I could do anything. But it's not true! This was nothing. 8 months in Asia will be harder. Giving birth one day will be extremely harder.

My left side was refusing to get, and stay, frozen. I had to get 4 other shots because every time he tried to pull or drill I would really feel it was it wasn't good. We had a language established: if I closed my eyes, I was in pain. I just kept closing them. He kept trying and trying but nothing would move. He cut around my tooth and it didn't help. Finally he decided to attack the other teeth and that one popped right out. So then we were down to 1. And he said that he might have to put me under for it. But regardless he tried again, and although I did feel things a little, I wanted it to be over with. And then I heard the cracking, and the teeth went off. But again, it left the roots in.

After more drilling the freaking thing was out and I was 4 teeth short. I sat there with gauze in my mouth and a puffy lip and funny feeling chin. I got up, grabbed my sweater and went to the reception to pay. Even the lady at the reception knew that my teeth had been difficult to extract. The dentist came to see me to tell me that I did great, and that I had really healthy teeth. Really? I wish at that point that I didn't.

I grabbed the bus home, puffy and drooling. I went to the pharmacy to get my 3 prescriptions without talking. I went home and went through 2 more pads of gauze. I applied ice but I felt ok. Hours later my chin was back and my face was unfrozen. I was lucky because I didn't look like a chipmunk when I unpuffed. I noticed that my lip had been nicked during the procedure: kinda looked like a cold sore. I applied lots of vitamin E to it and now I look normal.

The medication made me pretty tired though. We went for a hike Saturday and it was a big struggle to go up the mountain, even though the hike was super easy. I'm still not feeling like I have my energy back.

But the really annoying thing about the surgery was not the procedure, which granted, was hard. I feel no pain really from getting the teeth pulled out, and I can sleep on my side no problem or rest my face on my hand without feeling anything. David doesn't understand how I'm doing so good! But frankly nothing is all rosy. My tongue since the surgery has been half numb and feels like a nerve has been caught or something. I can't open my mouth more than 1/2 inch between my teeth without that nerve pulling like crazy and killing me. While hiking I tried to drink some water from our bladder and just opening my mouth to bike the end made me cry of pain. It's really annoying! I can't really eat and I keep biting my tongue because I can't feel it. I just want to feel normal again, and be able tom open my mouth. I'm afraid that I'll be stuck like this forever... I love eating... this would be the worst thing ever.

So I called my dentist after work and told them what was going on, and now I have to go in Wednesday morning for a check-up. Apparently, it's not unheard of, but I should have it looked at. Hopefully he'll be able to let me know how much longer this thing should last, without having me open my mouth. Because, well, that would kill. So we'll see in two days where we stand. But I really hope that it improves. I want to eat something else than soup on my birthday!

June is Bike Month in Vancouver

On my way to work along the bike path on Union street, this sign hangs proudly on the side of a beautiful home. It encourages us to keep biking and doing the planet some good. I really like that sign!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Ok, I've cheated.

Instead of posting my weekend posts today, I've cheated and changed their date to the appropriate one. So, please scroll down and spot those few posts that you haven't read! I also added bunch of pictures to them for your enjoyment.

Yikes! Yikes! Yikes!

So today I had my dentist appointment. My first dentist appointment in over 2 years, maybe even 3. I don't like dentists, and I procastinate, and for a while I was uninsured. Still, no excuse.

My new dentist is in prestigious Yaletown, and their office is very nice. Still, I wasn't sure if the people who serve the rich would treat people better than people who serve common people. Well, I have to say that it was a very good experience, as far as dentist experiences can go. The hygenist was super gentle and pain was kept to a minimal. My dentist was charming and spoke to me in French.

But... with all those years of avoiding dentists and forgetting to floss there had to be a drawback. I have what I think is 6 cavities (yikes!) with two on my wisdom teeth. I say "I think" because they did not tell me how many I have. I have two more appointments to get fillings done (double yikes!) before I leave on my vacation. And I need to have my wisdom teeth removed (triple yikes!).

Orthodontics are busy people and to find time before July 28, I have to get them out this Friday. Maybe it's better that I don't have so much time to think and worry about it. But it will ruin my planned celebration of la St-Jean-Baptiste, Quebec's holiday. But this is my fault, for waiting so long and not taking care of my teeth.

I swear, as soon as I return from my vacation, I will faithfully go to the dentist and care for my pearly whites. David: please remember to remind me of this in 9 months!

Meet Garth

I am proud to finally introduce Garth, The Traveling Gnome. David acquired my gnome in Las Vegas in January of this year and we named him Garth in honour of our friend Ryan. We just loved the name so much! Since then, Garth has visited his native city of Las Vegas, has been to Quebec City and has traveled with me to Mexico. He will also be joining me on my World Tour. I only regret not taking more pictures... people do look at gnomes weirdly!

Here are the only pictures of Garth in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He enjoyed his time hanging out with the locals on Playa del Muerto and soaking in the sun. When well rested, he visited the famous Guadalupe Church. And when I was not looking, he sneaked out for tacos and to party with the ladies.

playa del muertos


guadeloupe church

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

It's Been A While...

I know, I know... I've kinda fallen off the blogsphere lately. I've been really busy at work, taking pictures and trying to find a good plan for our Spring 2005 design. I've been working in Photoshop on the pictures that I took in Mexico, and I finally finished today. It took much longer than I anticipated! I really did take a lot of pictures. The next step now is uploading them on flickr and writing my posts, but this will also take some time. But it will get done ASAP, really.

As for my vacation that's coming much too fast, I'm kinda freaking out. There's not enough time left. There's too many things to organise, buy. I need to go for my physical, buy my Japan Rail Pass, need to get my malaria pills, need an eye exam... I have a dentist appointment tomorrow morning at 8. My first in years. I am scared of dentists. I have downloaded the form for my Chinese Visa, and will get that done very soon, but this also means that I will need to take time off work to do it. I guess I did procastinate a little bit too much for everything. I'm going to be running around like crazy starting soon. See? I'm always putting everything to later.

I did take lots of pictures this weekend and today, and those are all up on flickr, if you want to check them out. I will be posting some of them on here tomorrow.

Meanwhile, enjoy the first day of SUMMER!!!


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunny Sunday

Today was a beautiful day, mildly warm and sunny in the afternoon. After shopping on 4th Ave and getting David's bike repaired, we went for ice cream on Denman.

We always go to Mondo Gelato, because they have the best flavours that taste like actual fruits and they give you lots of gelato for your money. I take the one scoop, which is in fact two scoops and so you can pick two flavours. I always take the fruiti di bosco flavour: it is to die for. When in season, my second flavour is either white nectarine or cantaloupe. And when those are not available, I get Indian mango.

icre cream!

We ate our gelato on the grass at Davie and Beach in English Bay beside the seawall. Because it was sunny and warm out, the place was pretty crowded. I guess it's kinda like Crescent St in Montreal, minus the cars! (I mean, with regards to people showing themselves off only) People love to parade around and show themselves! But mostly, people love to get out to soak in the sun.


With the nice weather we also get a lot of kite flying around the planetarium. Some people fly some pretty big kites!

kite flying

Saturday, June 18, 2005


I love strawberries, the real kind that is, and not the chemically grown pesticide-infested stuff from California. I love farmer's market quality, but even better, I love freshly picked strawberries.

When I moved to Vancouver two years ago I convinced David to rent a car so that we could go strawberry picking. We found a farm in Delta on Westham Island and headed down there for the day. The berries were great, and so was the river, the fields, the cows and the view of downtown and of the mountains. It was an expensive day but I adored it.

Last week I discovered that the strawberry season was in full swing and I decided that we would go pick some. On Saturday we decided to go picking instead of going hiking, because the weather was not so great (and good thing, because it did rain a lot at points, although not where we were). From the website of the Fraser Valley Strawberry Growers Association we found the U-Pick listings and we chose W & A Farms in Richmond - the closest farm to us.

w & a farm

scary potatoes, not so yellow

We went to their produce stand first, which had some neat signs on the side of the building. I specially liked the sing for the smiling "yellow" potatoes (you might need to look at the large-size picture to see the faces). After looking around for a bit we noticed that we were not at the right place and saw the sign for the U-Pick field down the road.

w & a farm

So we hit the field and started picking. With the rain we've been having lately a lot of the berries were smaller or rotten on the plant, especially those close to the ground. But the berries that were red and intact, although a little paler than what I would have chosen, were incredibly sweet and juicy. (They were selling very red berries at the stand though.)

good, good, rotten

There was not a lot of strawberries left in the U-Pick section and so after two basket full we called it quits. We were also short on cash! We went to weight the fruit of our labour and it came up to 6 pounds. At $1 a pound, it was pretty cheap!


After such hard work we headed out to Granville Island for some grocery shopping. We got some great nectarines and apricots, but it's too bad that a lot of the produce there is still from the States. We need the farmer's market at Granville to be actual produce from farms! Aside from the false advertising though, it is the best place around to shop for food around here.

Later tonight: dinner with friends and a movie. What a fun-filled day! And now, off to make jam!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Go Fug Yourself Is Rocking!!!

Go Fug Yourself

This site is priceless. I mean, PRICELESS!!! You can spends hours here laughing at fashion faux pas. It is imperative that you do every categories on the left-hand side. Trust me. Victor: they even make fun of your favourite Courtney Love! But there's no Olsen Twin category. What's up with that?

I know that this has nothing to do with anything... but come on!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I Have The Best Job

Ever since I have started this blog I have not really talked about my work. I know how search engines work and I know that if I even mention the name of the company that I work for, that my blog my very well show up in searches and that, in a worst case scenario, a coworker might find out about my vacation plans before I'd hand-in my notice. Paranoiac, I know. But better safe than sorry, no?

But I do have a great job, and I am very happy that I have it. At first I wasn't really sure why they'd pick me to do a job that I know close to nothing about, but I thought myself quickly and got to be pretty good at what I do. See, it's not like I took over a specific job from someone who knew everything about their job. I learned the basics and had to do research to figure out how to do the rest. Some people may not be that interested in learning more on their own, or may not be resourceful enough to manage to learn so much on their own. I guess that for some people, this is not the type of job in which they'd be happy, in which they'd do good, or whichever. But for me, this was perfect.

I was hired as an intranet manager for The Australian Outback Collection, a Canadian-based clothing company that does Australian-inspired oilskin clothing. Before working there, I did not know what oilskin - or waxed cotton - even was. I quickly learned that what my job entailed was to ensure that the company's website was always up and running in good conditions, and let the people that do our web hosting and design in there were any problems. I was also to do customer service for customers using our online store or wanting to buy directly from us. Lastly, I was to help in (ie, mostly do and direct) the development of the new section the company wanted to add to their website. Really, my title should have been "internet manager", but I had business cards, and I wasn't about to complain.

Soon I learned that what I knew about doing my job was enough to keep things going, but not enough to make our website great. See, I'm not the kind of person that's really good at accepting mediocre and I always want to make things better or more efficient. I soon realized that certain aspects of the site needed work to be more user-friendly. I also discovered what I think was the biggest problem of all: we were not showing up on search engines, even for searches under our company name. I asked the people who host our site to help us but I was told that I better do it myself, since doing it through them would cost $$$. No one else in the company knew anything about websites and so I was on my own.

I read as much as I could about search engine optimization, meta tags, writing proper copies, how the search engine work, key word saturation, directories and everything related. I spent days tweaking our copy, adding meta and keywords, and submitting our sites to directories and search engines. I did it all myself, without going through companies or falling for pay-per-click advertising like our competition. Getting better ranking doesn't happen over night. But over the months we got to number one for different keyword searches. We were even Google's "I'm feeling lucky" site. I was really proud of myself! I still have not managed to get ourselves on the infamous Open Directory Project, but you can't have it all. And after reading the Corrupt DMOZ Editor blog, I realized that maybe it wasn't a big deal at all. We now get visits to our site for what I would say is too many word combinations. But visits are visits regardless, and potential customers may be people who are not even looking for us.

That was just one example of the type of work that I do at Australian Outback, and of the kind of things I have accomplished. I also developed the new website for American distributors, for which I wrote the copy and worked really closely with the guys at our hosting/design company. I hired a designer and managed the development of our first ever CD-ROM catalog. I am now also the account manager of USA promotional accounts and for the province of Quebec. I have traveled with my boss to the States for tradeshows. And I get to be the photographer - and model sometimes - for our website store.

At Australian Outback, you're pretty much on your own, and you get to do a lot of things by trail and error. The confidence that my boss has in me (and all of us, really) is incredible, and it is very empowering to know that she trusts me and that I can get so many things done on my own. I really got to feel like an invaluable part of the company. I catch myself saying "my website" instead of the company's. You work hard and that proudness that comes from your accomplishments really make you feel like you belong. I will be really sad leaving this company. And I will be even more disappointed if my position is no longer available when I return from my vacation.


I started writing this post because I wanted to talk about my job, but really, I wanted to say that I finally handed-in my notice.

Yesterday my boss talked to me about designing our 2006 spring catalog, wanting to know if I could take pictures and do/help with the design in Quark (at least, she wanted to know how much I could contribute). I can learn a lot of things on my own but Quark is not going to be one of them! That's a big challenge, especially in so little time: the catalog has to be ready for August. I just love how she can offer that kind of opportunity to me, and I would have loved, if I had the time, to at least try my luck at it. Maybe I'll be taking the pictures, who knows!

While talking, our conversation shifted to the September tradeshow in Denver, and she mentioned how she'd like me to go to that one. I lowered my head and I said sheepishly, "September, I can't..." and she looked up and asked right out, "are you quitting on me?"! I said yes, and explained my travel plans, that I'd been wanting to do it for a long time, that I appreciated everything, that I felt bad, that this was a great job. Telling her was easy, even if I felt guilty about it. And you know what? My boss was happy for me. Sad that she had to now hire someone else, sad for her, but happy for me. And you know what? That makes me happy as well.

I have the best job. And the best boss. If only for the next 44 days. (yikes!)

Monday, June 13, 2005

I'm Back From Mexico!

I got back yesterday from sunny and warm Mexico. The flights were easy, the views were nice and well, it was a long day, considering with transit that I spent over 8 hours either in a plane or in an airport.

I miss Mexico, I itch to go back to this beautiful little town my mom and I discovered on Friday. Honestly, I'd leave anytime to go back to that town. In some ways, my mind is still a little bit in Mexico. I'm still dreaming and feel far away. No wonder that I wasn't much into it at work! It was not easy getting back to everyday life... especially knowing that I'm leaving again in not so long.

I will have to gather my thoughts and my pictures before I post more detailed information about my trip, but I should start posting before the end of the week, hopefully! I did take heeps of pictures though, 600 to be exact. Insane, I know. How I'll make it in Asia, who knows. But right now this means hours of Photoshop, uploading, sorting... so it ain't ganna be easy! But it will get done.

¡Hasta proximo, amigos!

Up In Smoke

Everyday on my way home from work I go under this overpass besside BC Place and the likes. Since I noticed over a month ago this homeless habitation created under the pass, I look at his "house" everyday. I'm pretty sure that I mentionned his home before, because I thought that it was pretty cool that he had house plants around. I though, "what a cool shelter!". So today I rode my bike for the first time in 10 days, and it was hard. But regardless of my heart racing and my sweating, I didn't forget to look for his house. As I passed his spot, my jaw dropped, and I was in shock. The hole thing had burned down. All that was left were burnt parts of what used to be a great shelter. It's pretty sad, I think, that this could have been only thing this person could call home or his/her own, and that it went up in flames. It's incredible how life can deal such difficult turns of events to people who already have it tough.

We're so lucky, and we forget that so easily. Shame on us.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mexico Update!

we've just finished 4 days at the dreams resort and later on today we'll be
giong to the decameron hotel near buceras. so far everything's been very
nice, a lot of clouds and more sunny lately. we've been twice to downtown
puerto vallarta and i took a ton of pictures of the guadeloupe church, which
i was really happy to finally see! yesterday we went to boca de tomatlan and
catched a boat to yelapa. the ride there was really nice and yelapa has a
really nice beach (because of the mountains around there, there aren't many
beaches around...). yelapa is much more developped for tourists than i
expected but it was still really nice. i have no idea though where the
verana hotel is...

i still have 4 days left, and we'll be checking out more small towns on the
other side of PV. i'll have a gazilion of pictures to upload!

more to come when i return!

(posted by email)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Mexico, Here I Come!

Tomorrow morning I will be on a plane, on my way to my 3rd country this year. I will be spending 10 days in the extra warm weather of Puerto Vallarta in nice hotels and on nice beaches relaxing with my mom. I can't wait! Unlike with my Las Vegas trip, this time I will really post a trip update and some pictures. Garth is coming with me as well, and this time, you will finally get to meet him.

Tonight I will be pretty busy with packing and everything, so this is my last post for a while.

As soon as I come back, I will start to post more relevant information regarding my Tour. I will be applying for my visas and really start the shopping. So starting mid-June, this blog will really be mostly about my trip! About time, no?

Have a nice week everyone, and I'll see you when I get back!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Tapered Pants Are HOT But Mullets Are Better

So I catched a reflection of myself in the front door, taking my bike in. I saw how HOT I look with my pants gathered at the bottom to prevent them from catching on the chain. Really, I get to be sweaty and fashionable? Score!

At work one of the girl sometimes brings in her kid, which is about a year and a half or so. Kids at that age sometimes don't really grow hair, which is weird. So today I commented to my co-worker that her kid now had a mullet... she seemed concerned and frantic... looked at her kids head and said: "that's all there is! I can't cut that!". As she walked away, she reassured herself out loud that mullets are coming back.


Unfortunately, it's not the first time that I hear that.

I might get around town with tapered-looking pants but I will never go back to the mullet of my childhood. No matter if they come back or whatever...