Friday, October 31, 2008

Fun at work

Pumpkin Carving

Halloween Costumes


A co-worker and I were talking today about problems with brothers.

This is my co-workers brother:

This is him after he was stabbed in a knife fight:

And this is him and his friends watching his house burn down:

Things could be worse!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Last day in Amsterdam

I have been deliquent in blogging as I get used to life back in Toronto. A lot of work to catch up on and keeping busy at various events.
I still haven't posted on the last day in Amsterdam. After this I want to do a post with a few of my dad's pictures for an "Alternate take" kind of thing, summarize this blog into an article for Fab Magazine for my trip, and order the pictures and put them in an album. You know, nothing big.
On our last day in Amsterdam we wanted to check out the older section of town. We took the tram, which was diverted because of a marathon which did nothing for our sense of direction, and ended up in a park with a very large dog:

After asking about 100 people we found our way to like 1 street with some older house with fancy decoration on them:

When we got back to the hostel, my dad had lost the key to his bags and was handed a bolt cutter:

Which was too funny. I wonder if he ever found the key?
A short 12 hour jaunt later and I was glad to be home. My cat was all over me like a cheap slut!

This weekend coming up is the Archives fundraising dinner which my mom is coming to, and Friday night is a concert featuring local musicians performing songs from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I'm hoping to see the Anthony Goicolea photos before they close on Nov 2 before we hit the dinner.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Tim Gunn calls Prop. 8

My dandy husband supporting gay rights.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Amsterdam Day 3 - Let's Go Ride a Bike

Last full day of vacation, the time has FLOWN.
I meant to write yesterday about the casino here. I have never been to a casino before and there are many here so we went in and tried the machines a couple days ago. They are all in Dutch and I couldn't figure out any except the roulette and the blackjack machines so I played them and won 2 Euros. So yesterday we went back and I just played blackjack and I won 8 Euros. This was great! I didn't know how this place stayed in business. It was fun, I wanted to do it all the time!
So tonight we went back. Standing outside was this HOT British guy and my dad and I went in and sat down at the blackjack and he came in and sat beside me. I was distracted and ended up losing 10 Euros. Everything he said I'd giggle like a schoolgirl and then look around and think "Who the Hell was that?" So I had good company but I lost all my money. You can't have it all! Now I think my gambling days are over.
Anyway, back to today. This was the first time in 2 days I didn't have to get up early so I slept til 10. We got up and rented some bikes for the day. It was like 5 Euros but we had to walk like 5 hundred blocks to get there.
We had planned on going to the old part of the town but the lady suggested we go on the free ferry and cycle along the Dutch countryside. This was totally the right thing to do!
We saw a large market and stopped, taking care to lock our bikes 300 times. This picture doesn't really do it justice, it stretched on forever:

Stuff was pretty cheap there. Here I am trying on a sweater I eventually bought:

And I got another similar one, 7 Euros each. And some Ivory bath soap for 3 Euros, and I think that may be all. As we were leaving we saw a lady who had dropped her cake:

I didn't take this picture by the way but we all laughed about it. Then her daughter showed up and cried. Maybe she was laughing on the inside.
Anyway, by this point, we had just started the 30 km trail and were already lost. But we were off!

The countryside was awesome, I'm so glad we went. It's very flat but very green and unlike anything in Canada.

It was raining off and on but then cleared all up near the end. I put on my new sweater with the hood. It was also kind of cold.
Anyway, the map we had was USELESS and we had a lot of trouble finding our way. Plus we didn't understand any of the street signs. They make no sense. A picture of a bicycle with a cross though it seems to mean bikes allowed, and a picture of a bicycle with no cross through it seems to mean the same thing. What does a sign saying "No speedbumps" mean?
We came upon this spot and the map seemed to indicate we should cross the lake. I was going to suggest we keep going and look for the bridge when this guy on a bike came up and the barge extended across the water!

If that hadn't of happened we'd probably be in Africa by now.
We stopped for lunch at somewhere that turned out to be a pancake house. It was like a crepe but mine was AMAZING:

It had garlic, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and Danish cheese which I had to try as some people in our tour group wouldn't stop talking about it.
After lunch, we got hopelessly lost. Hopelessly. There seemed to be a highway that said no bikes, but the bike trail signs seemed to point down it. Motorcycles are also able to use the bike trails and since there's no cars or speed limits on them, they step on the horn and the gas and ride like Hell. Life in your hands time again.
We ended up in a quaint riverside town:

And saw a cat by the docks:

Perhaps this cat should be on Cats that look like Ow, they have a new spin-off site, pissed off! Happy day!
There was a lot of boats:

And then I saw another cat. Look in the bottom left corner:

Who was sitting by a river:

And walked all the way around to take a drink:

Which was pretty cool. We watched her for about 10 minutes. She wasn't too friendly once she realized we didn't have any food. But I did get to pet her a little. I get to see my cat tomorrow! Yeah!
More flat countryside:

And it was at this point that we realized we were never going to find a way out. So we had to bike back for the 1.5 hours we had come if we ever hoped to leave. Once we turned around we realized the wind was against us, it was cold, and the bikes did not have gears. There was about a 20 minute stretch where I thought I was going to die. If I had been alone I would still be on the side of the road. Pedaling was impossible due to the wind and I thought I was done. But amazingly I made it home! I kept picturing sitting here typing this blog and saying how I made it back and it worked.
On the way back we saw another cat:

Maybe I could submit that shot to pissed off cats. What expression!
On the way out to the country the map had said we would pass a windmill but seeing as we were lost, we did not. Coming back we found it:

Built in 1792:

And helped close an amazing day. We got the bikes back and had an amazing dinner at an Indian restaurant. I love Indian food! It's now my faourite. And vegan! What could be better.
On the way to the casino, we saw this carnival again in the centre of town. Check out the swings on the right in green:

It goes up ever higher than the picture shows. These people are crazy. There would be water trickling down from where I sat as I peed my pants. Seriously. I remember once in Toronto I went on the Strawberry Shortcake ride and cried to be let off. And I mean cried!
Tomorrow we're leaving, the flight leaves at 6 so we hope to go to the old part of town in the morning, by metro! No more walking!
I have no idea how I am going to get my 25 kg of gay magazines from the Paris archives to the airport.
I get in at 8 pm and should be home by 9 am which will be 3 am my time so I should be in great shape for work!
Oh yes, one more thing. I've been thinking about the "free" dinner last night. If you have found God and He gives purpose to your life, great! Tell all your friends and all the people at Church how happy you are! But why do you have to sell it? Why would you hold a "free" dinner and trick people into coming to give them a sermon? Where in the bible does it say, "And thou shalt trick thy strangers to get into Heaven"? You don't see me holding dinner parties with straight guys to talk to them about the benefits of being gay, do you? Well, not on a Friday.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Amsterdam Day 2 - Let's Rap About Jesus!

Well, today was a day I will never forget.
We didn't bring an alarm clock (it's sitting on my desk at work) so I borrowed a watch with an alarm from the front desk. The girl set the alarm and in the morning, ta dah! Nothing happened. Luckily my dad got up about 8:15 and woke me up. I was up until about 1:30 blogging.
My dad mentioned the elderly Asian fellow beneath him had woken him up about 100 times in the night and he had gotten no sleep. Turns out he couldn't find the earplugs we brought. You need them to stay in a hostel. I went to sleep really late and with the earplugs slept like a baby.
So we got up and had free juice and headed to the Anne Frank house. Our ticket was for 9:30 and after stopping to take 1,000 pictures of buildings in Amsterdam, we got there about 9:28 and went right in. It was the best time to go, when we left an hour later the line was around the block.
Once inside there were some exhibits set up on the main floors of what used to be the factory. The house is right on a beautiful canal. I had missed the parts of the diary where she called it an "old lake house". After some exhibits and some videos, we went into the annex. Stepping in to the small doorway behind the bookcase really takes your breath away. All of the rooms are empty at the request of Anne's father, but her room still has the magazine pictures she cut out and pasted to the wall to make it less grim. Watching the pictures of movie stars and singers and cats, you get a real sense she existed, she was a real girl. You can feel her in the room. I was crying as soon as I entered.
It was fantastic to see everyone else's room as well, and they had a boardgame Peter got for his 17th birthday up on the wall. Anne mentions it in her diary. At the end of the door is the room with the actual diary itself which was not on display due to renovations so they had a copy, but an exact copy.
In the lobby was some exhibits on how hate still manifests itself in our society and the Oscar Shelly Winters won for her role in the 1959 movie which I now must see! I had never seen an Academy Award before so that was cool too.
No pictures allowed in the museum but my dad did manage to get a shot of the Oscar:

Afterward I bought the museum guide, which was reasonable at 10 Euros and the Definitive Edition of the Diary with 30% more content. They also had an "interactive map" walking tour from the Anne Frank house to the Dutch Resistance Museum with 30 points of interest along the way and an hour and a half walk. It took us about 4 hours.
When we were walking the mile to the Anne Frank house it was POURING rain and I had no umbrella so when we left we were greeted by a rainbow:

And then began the tour. The very first stop was the Homomonument:

And the triangles in question:

Which were pretty sad again. Europe doesn't know how to make monuments.
In this final shot of the monument notice the black metal object behind the sign:

It is an outdoor urinal. It's better than people pissing in the streets but very strange to see someone walk into something on the sidewalk and start peeing.
This picture I believe shows better how all the buildings lean:

Check out the top of the black building to the left of the all white one.
This shot had the perfect amount of sun:

The walk was quite good, talking us really all through downtown Amsterdam and stopping at various points of interest or monuments along the way. The statue garden was cool:

And the last stop before the museum was the Auschwitz memorial:

This one isn't as bad as all the rest. The artist describes trying to come up with a memorial to sit on top of ashes of people found at Auschwitz and she looked up at the sky for answers. It seemed amazing that that same sky could have seen such atrocities, a similar feeling I had at Auschwitz when I heard the birds singing. She said after this the sky was broken and would never be the same again, hence the broken mirrors reflecting the sky.
Much later, after getting hopelessly lost and checking out the tulip district, we came up the Resistance Museum. Some amazing German propaganda posters. In this one it looks like Bolshevik:

And this one all I recognize is the word mother:

And this one the word 'clandestine' referring to trading on the black market:

They had some items from war resistance prisoners, like a poem written in blood with a straw and this chess set made of cardboard:

Which I thought was ingenious.
Afterward we walked through the downtown core. I must say, the Europeans have weird (read: bad) taste in movies. In Paris there was a poster everywhere for this movie with a middle aged man in a kilt dancing and here they have this:

Who the Hell would go see that?
Speaking of Hell, we were invited to a free dinner of Indonesian food, and they had vegetarian! So after sitting down to eat, a girl got on the microphone and proceeded to rap about Jesus for 20 minutes and we were trapped like rats. She described how her life was a pile of crap and then Jesus started talking to her. Two things I dislike, everyone of these stories always starts with the person trying to go on and on AND ON about how bad their life was before Jesus ("I lived in a car. I saw things a child should never see. I should have been a prostitute." etc.) and secondly, if you actually hear Jesus talking to you, get medication. We should have stayed at the heathen hostel. The graffiti on the back of the men's room door says "[Someone] is a pagan". Is this Catholic libel? And why does the person's name look like Adam Dunn?
Here's a picture of the red light district:

and another of the girls in the window:

They wear underwear and beckon the people over. There are no men in any window in the whole city. Just like everywhere in Europe this place is totally heterosexist. I've been to 3 gay shops and they're all ridiculous. Why do they encourage so many gay tourists to come here? There's like 6 gay districts and each has about 3 shops, then the next is a 20 minute walk away.
Two final observations.
#1- We should not legalize marijuana in Canada. I used to think we should, even though it is not part of the Conservative Party platform, I believe in less government and letting people do whatever they want, but after seeing this, no. There's yahoos everywhere smoking pot. Tourists blowing it into your face all over. Marijuana souvenirs everywhere. Even women's panties with marijuana on them. WHY?
#2- In some cities I have been in, like London, you take your life in your hands crossing the road. Here you take your life in your hands on the sidewalk. The sidewalks are VERY small and are frequently covered with parked bicycles. When they're not, there are cyclists EVERYWHERE and they RACE by you, usually ringing their bell to indicate you have one second to jump out of the way into the canal or you will be killed. Fun!
Tomorrow I hope to rent a bicycle and try it out.