Tag Archives: vacation

How I Need the Internet to Go “Off the Grid”

In keeping with tradition, last month I booked some time off for some rest and relaxation from the office and to take in the festivities of the Eurovision Song Contest, from the comfort of my couch here in Canada. For what seems like ten years now, Eurovision has been the focal point of my version of “spring break”.

The first few days of my time off consisted of jotting down some blog ideas floating around in my grey matter and puttering around the house, getting chores done. With those out of the way, when Eurovision came on, I could truly let myself get swallowed up by my sofa, pillow, blanket and cat, and to completely disconnect from the world.

That is… until I woke up Tuesday morning to find I was already disconnected from the world.

No Internet service!

After a series of attempts over two days to restore my Internet service over the phone, with the assistance of cheerful client service representatives, it finally took a site visit from a technician on Thursday to get everything fixed up.

Once I was on the couch, with pillow, blanket and cat, watching the Eurovision semi-final #2, my cares completely melted away with each passing costume change, wind machine, and key change.
The next day, I watched semi-final #1, and on the Saturday, I watched the finals live with the other 204 million viewers around the world. Everything seemed right with the universe again.
But those few days I was without Internet, I surprised myself at my dependence on it. How do people actually go off-the-grid anymore? Continue reading

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You Know It Was a Good Vacation When…

Isn’t it wonderful when you have enjoyed your vacation time to its fullest and completely immersed yourself in activities that were so far removed from your day-to-day routine… to the point of forgetting the details of your day-to-day routine?

That being the case, you know it was a good vacation when…

Ice Bar, Stockholm, 2005

You have a hard time falling asleep on cue, to wake up in time for the return to your regular morning routine.

You wake up with muscle or joint stiffness but no recollection of what could have caused it.

The prospect of wearing long pants again makes you cringe.

The prospect of preparing a lunch-to-go makes you cringe even more.

You overshoot your morning routine prep time by half an hour.

Even your pets are seemingly sad to see you go back to the regular routine.

You’re not freaked out by the guy who cuts you off in traffic on your first morning commute. Continue reading

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The Rewards of Vending Machines

vending-machinesOn a recent visit to the mall, I noticed a little girl was carefully perusing the contents of the row of gum ball and toy vending machines, with the same intensity I demonstrated when I was shopping for new appliances. She was contorting herself around the machines, checking out all of the contents and trying to predict which items were to come out next.

I understood that this was a major purchase and she was looking for the best value for her hard earned allowance money. That was me 40+ years ago!

After much scrutiny and analysis, she pointed to a machine, put in her coin, turned the crank, opened the plastic bubble and voilà! Pure joy and a huge smile! I could only assume that she got what she was looking for as she was visibly delighted with her prize.

I was reminded of my own childhood and my borderline addiction to those machines. I remember my sock drawer was proudly filled with little gum-ball-machine toys I had collected from trips to the grocery store or the department store.

I don’t think my experience was all that unusual though. With those machines at eye level for a kid, it was so easy to beg parents and relatives for coins, to get something I “positively need, and promise I won’t ask for anything again”… until the next visit.

But what is it about those machines that ignites our curiosity? If common sense prevails, one would think that being able to hold, feel and inspect a product up close to make an informed decision would the more balanced way to go. However the separation of human and product by a plastic window seems to appeal to our sense of adventure.

Or is it because we have become the product of our own life-long Pavlovian experiment since a very young age: put in a coin, get a treat? Continue reading

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The Surprises at Summer Camp

As I was driving around and dodging potholes this week, I couldn’t help but notice a big sign announcing “summer camp registration”. I don’t know for sure if the flashbacks I was getting were just my life flashing before my eyes given the massive holes in the street left behind from Old Man Winter or the warm memories of day camps I attended as a child.

But there is something about the mention of camp that has of those songs running through my head like a freight train again (40 years later) like the one about the littlest worm that got stuck inside my soda straw or poor Charley who never returned.

I think to myself that I was very lucky that my parents made me… I mean… offered me the opportunity to go as many times as I did.

The truth is, I was at that strange age: too young for a job and too old for day care. Frankly, if left to my own devices, I probably would have been stuck in the 1970’s version of “screen time”: park myself in front of the TV and watch game shows all day for the entire summer. And for this little guy who shopped in the “husky” department, getting out in the fresh air, sunshine and actively mixing with kids my own age was definitely better for me in the long run.Camp

The attached picture is one of the rare pieces of evidence of me ever setting foot in a tent. Even from a young age, roughing it was not my thing, so shipping me off to an “away” camp in the woods, would have required significant bribery. My mom signed me up for the next best thing: day camp.

Most of the camps I attended lasted two weeks, just long enough to give my parents a break from tearing me away from The Price is Right, and not so long that I felt it encroaching on my unstructured play time. As an only child, I had a strong sense of boundaries where that was concerned.

As much as the first days were filled with apprehension and butterflies, not unlike the first day of school, campers had to get into the groove quickly because it was over before they knew it.

My first ones were camps involving getting on a bus and heading to some distant green spaces. I would pack my Archie and Bugs Bunny comics into my little knapsack to read along the way, as well as a classic PB and J lunch, my bathing suit and towel, a rain poncho just in case and an ample supply of bug repellent.

Once there, I forgot any of the apprehensions I had, while mixing and mingling with other kids who were looking for something fun to do over the summer. Our camp counselors were fantastic in Continue reading

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25 Ways to Jinx Things

On a recent drive to work, I marvelled at how traffic seemed unusually better. It was mid-week, there should have been more traffic, there was a light snow falling, the roads were a little greasy, there could have been accidents, but I was making it to work in record time. I was one exit away from my destination when I dared to say out loud “Wow, I made it in good time!”

BIG MISTAKE!… HUGE!

As soon as I turned the corner after that big overpass, there were line-ups galore. There was indeed an accident ahead, backing up traffic in all lanes. You would think I would have known better.

It just seems that I have a talent for making joyful upbeat comments like that and then for something to come along and prove me wrong… within seconds.

I think it’s a talent, my partner thinks otherwise. Funny enough, he knows exactly when I am about to say one of those, as I don’t even have to open my mouth and he will interject with a smile, “Don’t say it!”, pre-empting my overly positive observation. But he is absolutely right.

Similarly, have you ever noticed how a fresh litter box will usually get a cat’s bladder or bowels (or both) moving within minutes? Or how a clean kitchen floor becomes an instant food magnet? These are the types of situations I am referring to.

I am not suggesting that the litter box or kitchen should not be cleaned. Quite the contrary, keep those spotless, but don’t forget to laugh when your bright and sunny achievement is suddenly obscured by big dark clouds. It is just proof that life itself comes with sense of humour too.

I hear I am not alone. Do you recognize any of these sayings which usually lead to less than ideal results?

1-“It’s late February and I still haven’t caught a cold this season”.
2-“That wasn’t so hard” (before the task has been fully completed).
3-“I haven’t had a speeding/parking ticket in x years”.
4-“I haven’t had an accident in x years.
5-“Hey, it’s been weeks since (insert name of pet) has jumped on a counter”.
6-“That has never happened to me!”
7-“We made good time (before arriving).”
8-“Oh good, the line/queue is finally moving.” Continue reading

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