6:58 PM

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation (And the Weeks Preceding It)

Gads, has it really been two weeks? Okay, here's a quick rundown of what happened since I posted last:

(1) Studied for then wrote exams. Macro and stats. Two classes, same professor. Nearly effing knocked his head off after the first, wanted to kiss him after the second. Made it through both alive.

(2) Went to Tremblant. Left at midnight to arrive at 7AM. Actually arrived at 3PM due to weather issues. Stayed at lodge on bottom of hill. Despite strike, managed to learn to snowboard on the bunny hill. Looked damn adorable in Burton gear. Ate delicious lamb and had creme brulee for the first time. Stopped using people's names, right hand, and numbers all at once. Enjoyed lots of beverages. Fell even more. Hands, knees, and jaw terribly bruised. All worth it.

(3) Finished up insane amount of pre-vacation work in hopes that nobody would be burdened during holidays. Miraculously completed commercial that should've taken three weeks in just over seven days. Removed the word Olympic from more phrases than seemed possible. Crashed into a non-work frenzy. Gossiped with the receptionist.

(4) Went to work holiday party. Gambled on the ponies. Came up even. Ate salmon and pate. Enjoyed more drinks.

(5) Flew to Montreal for a night. Ate incredible sushi at astonishingly empty restaurant. Went to bed early.

(6) Hit the airways for Barbados. Landed in jeans and a sweater, nearly passed out within fifteen seconds. Saw how the proverbial other half live. Hung out with sister-in-law's family. Dropped jaw at grocery prices. Ate way too much heavenly food. Understood the meaning of chichi while sadly dressed in Gap shorts and Tshirt. Cracked up at adorable niece. Slept in a bedroom whose French doors should never be shut. Fell in love with Banks Beer and rom-ponch (nutmeg!). Took too many self-portraits (note: see below for exhibit A). Ate heaviest sweet bread of all time. Learned what jug-jug was. Went wild for fan-say boats (note: see above view from patio for prime reason). Read a bunch of books. Saw an incredible number of British mummies in bikinis with flat stomachs and Chanel sunglasses. Befriended both locals and fellow visitors. Theoretically high-fived voice on radio saying parents should search kids' rooms. Told boss I would be happy to run international office (yes, in jest -- for now). Babysat. Swam. Snorkelled. Kayaked. Surely gained ten pounds. Vowed to never do White Christmas again.

And there's still a week to go. Sometimes, a girl just can't really complain.

9:36 PM

He's a Machine

A machine freak, that is.

I love a boy who's a total nut for stuff. Gadgets, doodads, toys. He loves them all with the fire of a thousand suns. Every time he gets into a new hobby, I find myself wondering if it's the subject he loves or the stuff related to it. In the past few years, I've witnessed the madness for:

(1) Music. He's played in bands forever (and even once toured with The Inbreds -- if you're a Canadian rock and roll kid, you'll know why I always giggle when my nineteen year old self thinks about this). He's had a gajillion guitars, four-tracks, pedals, mics, and amps. He bought a bass. He bought a drum kit. He took the drums apart and deskinned them. He had a guitar body that he designed built so he could buy all custom parts and make his own guitar. He's even bought guitars for friends so he could be in charge of renovating them from garbage to perfection. I don't even know how many pieces of musical equipment are in our house right now, as they're all over the place. He now whispers here and there about wanting an electronic drum kit for practice. I pretend I can't hear.

(2) Golf. He's golfed with his dad since he was a teenager. I don't even know how many sets of clubs he's had, but in our three years of marriage, he's on his fifth. He'll buy a set, take them apart, fix them up, then give them away or sell them or trade them in for his new set. I even apparently have my own set of clubs -- an old set of his, you would think, but no... he really bought them to fix them up for me, who's golfed all of once in her life. Right.

(3) Biking. There's no doubt that he's been biking since childhood -- he was that kid who was riding his bike off makeshift ramps in the early 80s. He had a great BMX when we first got together and used to do tricks around our little apartment, but then decided he was too old for BMXing and sold it. A few years later, we're on a nice summer walk, step into a riding shop, and end up home with a top of the line mountain bike. And everything that had to be bought with it. The bell, the lights, the good lock, the thing that holds stuff... he couldn't have been happier.

(4) Gaming. Started with a computer. Moved to a Playstation. Now it's an XBox. There was even a skateboarding game involved -- he claimed that it was so I could dress a character up in a cute outfit and play along. I claimed it was so he wouldn't feel like he was a nerd on his own.

(5) Snowboarding. This is still fresh, but he was out walking downtown one day and went into the snowboard shop. He saw a familiar board on the wall. He asked the guy if it was for sale, and the guy said, "Dude, that's for show. It's an antique!" It was the model he'd started on way back in the day. Never one to give up the dream, he learned everything he possibly could about the latest and greatest in boarding that he's missed over the last ten years and bought a crapload of gear for both himself and me. Again, do I board? No. But I am charmed to be included in the obsession.

(6) Technology. The obsession of all obsessions, this crazy love involves everything related to computers, MP3 players, monitors, televisions, printers, PDAs, cell phones, and all other make-my-life-easier gadgetry. The man just can't get enough. In our house (and keep in mind that there are two of us), we have his main computer, his rendering computer, the computer attached to the TV that has music on it, and the laptop (he claims to need all of these things for business). We have a huge TV, speakers all over the freakin' place (they have to be set up just so, you see), an upconversion DVD player, and the PVR. If it's new and it's cool? I'm going to be hearing about those two facts until there's one in our very wee apartment.

And tonight, I am sitting her blogging away while my boytoy gets his jollies from the latest and greatest gadget in his little marketplace. A DVD duplication machine. Okay, this one really was for work. But it's hilariously huge (picture a sideways microwave from the 80s) and I feel like I'm watching How It's Made when it's running. It's like a little robot, pulling DVDs from this enormous naked stack into its guts, spitting it out, moving it with the arm of a grabby teenaged boy, swallowing it again, then grabbing and dropping it into the dressed stack. Hilarious. And the kid is in heaven, examining and testing like a bloody machine.

But, um, I think we need a bigger place.

8:02 PM

Sensitivity Training

So I decided to go to the dentist a few months ago. I had a dream of whitening these otherwise dreamy teeth (thank you, braces) so that there would be no turning back. The dentist was actually insistent that (a) laser whitening was "bullshit", (b) professional whitening should be a last resort, and (c) Crest White Strips were great and are a cost-effective alternative that generally works pretty much as well as the pro treatments for most people. However, she also discovered my extreme level of dental sensitivity. She recommended a course of action: use at least one entire tube of Sensodyne F (and continue using it forever), then give the strips another shot before booking an appointment for the pricey whitening treatment. So after finishing the tube of paste a week ago, I started trying to get up the nerve to do it again.

Well, I got up the nerve. And now the nerves of my teeth want me dead. No, the pain isn't life-threatening, but it sure seems like a lot to go through just to pretty up. I'm only on day two of seven, and I've only done one of today's two treatments. That's only 3/14 of the way through! I have to do one more today and am avoiding it like the bloody plague. It's just so... gads, gads, gads, I have to press on them to stop the ouchness. I have to stop thinking about it. I have to train myself to stop listening to these icky signals. I desperately want to get through three days of this crap so that I can start seeing results and then maybe switch to just one treatment a day, but I don't know if I have the will power.

9:19 PM

A Little Sunshine

I don't know what happened today, but I clearly took a little stop on my trip towards Nervous Breakdown Alley and decided to turn back to Good Times Ville. There's still a crapload of work to be done and lord only knows what madness will ensue as I try every trick in my book to perfect this little world I keep trying to make myself, but whatever happened, I am back to me.

I had the best time at class tonight. I have been totally stressed over school, as the crazy-busy with work has been causing me to be consistently late or in another country. Har. In any case, tonight we had a big exchange rate discussion, chatting about whether we should be fixing ours to the US. Clearly, there are benefits to this, most of which come from the fact that the US is our top trade partner, to the tune of 80+%. And, according to today's discussion, at some optimal point, the costs of having a fixed exchange rate are outweighed by the benefits. In the opinion of our professor (and he is truly the most delightful of professors I've encountered in grad school this far -- the joy and excitement he finds in statistics has made me finally really get it), we're past that point. I, on the other hand, believe it's totally wacko to fix our exchange rate and thus make our own monetary policy makers utterly impotent. We lose all power to control our own destiny -- because, much as we're loathe to admit it, money makes the world go 'round, and inflation and interest rates affect every single one of us.

That said, I am generally a big fan of the market and its mechanisms -- I think it's cool as hell how we generally move to equilibrium where things are pretty much optimal for consumers and buyers alike -- but I don't believe that it is perfect. All social issues aside (and, believe me, I hardly take these lightsly, but it's too much for one conversation with people who all think politically differently), we can surely all agree that anti-trust issues alone are a perfect example of why the government sometimes needs to intervene. Look at monopolies and collusion and all those little market-imperfections that allow specific companies' profits to be maximized but don't allow the consumer to experience optimal efficiency. It's just a fact -- while it's totally dreamy and, as a rule, allows profits to consistently to be maximized, is it always forward-thinking?

For example -- if we are to believe that we're indeed in the position where my professor (and a certain Canadian Nobel Prize winner) says we are, and the benefits to fixed exchange are surpassing the risks, will we always be in that position? This situation may maximize our national profits for the time being -- and clearly, it does, or businesses would be trading with other countries -- but what about in twenty years? We've fixed our rates in the past, only to have to break off when our political differences caused major economic differences (see Vietnam for details) and suffer the consequences of getting back on our own. We've spent the last crapload of years getting through the tough times of managing monetary policy to bring our zero-inflation dream to life in the long term, you're saying that now we're going to just give up our controls because the US happens to be our top trading partner? To be sure, it's been that way for a long time -- but no-no-no-nothing lasts forever.

Theoretically, having one trading partner take up four fifths of our business is risky to begin with -- and that's something we need to address for the long-term implications. Perhaps the dollars would dictate that, at this time, the cost of encouraging economic integration with the US is exorbitant and unnecessary. After all, if it's more efficient to trade with others in the long run, won't that happen anyway? Doesn't the market fix itself? Sure. But don't we want to temper the blow of that transition? Isn't intervention worth it if, in the long run, it causes economic positives by reducing the economic negatives? And isn't this why we have to care about politics? Because there are so many bloody crazy questions and no one really knows the answer but it's so insane to imagine that we might figure it out or make it better?

So clearly, I got into a little frenzy of curiosity and begin with the question-asking, and next thing I know, we're having the most fun conversation! Anyway, I left and I still had a million questions in my head. And the fun just keeps on coming.

11:15 PM

Did I Mention...?

So this week has been nuts. Did I mention that last week, my I hired a customer service person and she left the job after ten hours? Right. It was too crazy. So I hired another one, and she made it through the whole week 'til today at around noon.

Between the loss of another customer service person, the firing, the client-facing short-staffedness already caused by the fact that I need a new account person, and the gazillion things that my girl-who-is-fired mixed up before getting the old heave-ho, I am losing my effing mind. Actually, I was losing my effing mind. Did I mention that I came home at 8-ish, vented to Dave for fifteen minutes, chatted with my sister on ICQ, then I had a beer with frozen pizza and watched PVRed TV? This worked for me.

I didn't get to the passport office this week. I have vowed that I will go on Monday. It's an appointment. (Did I mention that I have a hair appointment on Saturday and a doctor's appointment on the 12th?) I need it to go to Barbados. (Did I mention I have two weeks there now?)

On the other downside, I was working so late every day that I didn't get to help my group much on this stats project we're doing, so I'm now responsible for making the presentation spectacular and, well, presenting. Did I mention that I have to work on the weekend to make sure everything is ready for invoicing the client by end of day Wednesday? I have to go to school for a meeting tomorrow morning, then get my hair cut and blondified at 11:30, then go to work. I guess I'll do the presentation stuff when I'm at home.

Did I mention that I was supposed to do my Christmas shopping this week because I have that presentation next week, then maybe Dallas, then exams, then Montreal, then last-week-before-vacation, then Barbados? I didn't go yet. I was thinking maybe I could go on Sunday if I got most everything else done on Saturday...

Holy crap, I am babbling. Did I mention that I'm exhausted?