Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

You never learn anything by doing it right...

So I took an unplanned break from my Spanish lessons, not intentionally, just wasn't prioritizing it enough to commit to a time 24h in advance (as required by the system).   But I did keep up with the self study via duolingo, busuu, workbook, etc.   Had my first lesson today in 2.5 mths and was super pleased to discover there's been improvement :).  Woohoo!   Cause I'll tell ya, it definitely feels like I'm on a very flat or even downward sloping plateau *sigh*.  But yeah - while conversation remained slow and painful, I was able to hold up my end more accurately and switch between tenses more successfully.   So pretty pleased at that.   Although please note the qualifiers -- "more" does not equal "well" ;)
I set my phone to Spanish for self-motivation.
Turns out I know how to work my phone without reading instructions ;)
Pretty excited about the move coming up in 3 weeks now :).  We have 2.5 week overlap so will move things in pieces -- 4 weeks till the bulk of our furniture moves.  But current owner showed us all around and let us take pics and ask questions, so getting pretty excited about the whole thing.

Have also started a new exercise program -- Lift 4.  It's only in test mode at the moment, 20 min workouts instead of the 40 min ones that will be in the real program.  Real program starts July 16...  Since I'm feeling the 20 min ones, I'm quite looking forward to the results of the full adventure (note - not actually looking forward to the adventure itself, I just want the results ;).

And in unrelated news, I'm rather pleased with how my moment of craftiness worked out :)

More Spanish games

So while I feel very much like my Spanish has plateaued at a horribly low level, I was fairly pleased to discover I'm able to understand more spoken than I used to be able to. Listening to DuoLingo stories and podcasts and actually grasping a good portion of it. A few months ago it was a painful act to try to get through any of those.

I've also started using Busuu, which has an interesting component in that in the last exercise in each level you either write or speak something and submit it for somebody else to correct. This has the potential to be very strong. Lol BUT -- I've had a couple "corrected" via personal preference (eg - they changed my tu into usted - essentially informal into formal). Which I just rolled my eyes at. But what made me really annoyed was when I flipped through the ones studying English, how many answers were just plain wrong. It hurt. And it worries me that when I get farther in and really don't know what I'm doing, the feedback I receive might be just as bad :(.

That being said, my new way of procrastinating studying Spanish is to coach people studying English ;). I try and include an explanation so they know why, not just fix it -- unless it's super beginner, then I just fix. But I'm getting entertaining results from the more advanced ones I answer.  And am disproportionately pleased by being tagged "best answer" ;).  You can edit their work (shows up in green) and/or add notes.   They see both what they wrote and what you changed.  Pretty easy.

This is keeping me more entertained than it should
Haven't had any real lessons in a while -- mostly just been busy and/or nice weather calls ;).  But should really start those back up and get some speaking in.

In other news -- was coaching at Foxcroft yesterday in their annual show.  Highly entertaining.  As much socializing as anything, and didn't hurt that Kennedy had an amazing day.   Lots of fun to see everyone.

My favourite childhood memory is not paying bills...

So this morning I had a very sad reality check of the impact of office work on fitness *sigh* Those of you who’ve been around this blog for a while or who actually know me in person may remember that once upon a time, not so long ago, I ran a riding school. During which time, I was what I would deem functionally fit. I wasn’t going to the Olympics for anything, but I could be on my feet all day, muck the barn, do farm work, teach, put in the standard 15-18 hour work day… All good. I didn’t weight lift, but throwing bales of hay and hauling jumps was no problem and a daily occurrence. I didn’t do cardio, but I could run 5k easily with minimal effort. A decent base standard of fitness… Fast forward 4ish years into an office job…

Now, I make a concerted effort to “work out” because I don’t have that in my every day any more. So there are weights and cardio machines in my life and it sucks. And I also try to either walk to the train or go for a walk at lunch each day. But at least I still felt, if nowhere near farm fitness, I was still okay. Until this week. You see, we moved to a new office, and this office offers adjustable desks. A, this is awesome because they actually adjust low enough for me to be ergonomically correct – win! But B, they also adjust to standing. Sweet. So the last couple days I’ve been standing for a couple hours a day – usually in 20-30 min intervals. All good. Didn’t really think anything of it, until I woke up this morning. Ugh – my abs were dying! And even my legs were sore. It was like I’d done a really brutal workout, except I haven’t.

So yeah – that’s my “adulating sucks” realization of the day. Blah.

In other news – we sold our house!!! Woohoo!!! 4 or 5 days on the market J Lol was awesome. Fingers crossed I’ll have good news on the buying a house side of things in the next few days J And I would like to say, I only did a very cursory look for jobs in other countries and other fun places to look before committing to potential new location. This is admittedly due as much to the husband factor as anything, but we’re going to pretend it’s more adulting ;) Cross your fingers for us!

1 step closer toward adulting?

AG shown for scale -- Tucker wasn't home ;)
Short post today just because this made me laugh.  Not a life "goal" per say, but more of a life experience.  For the first time ever I managed to significantly shrink an article of clothing.  Now, this shouldn't be a thing, but given how much I despise laundry and the complete lack of effort I put into assuring things go well, really -- this should be a weekly occurrence.   So I was highly amused to find a child-sized sweater that fit me last week as I was putting away clothes.

Home inspection today!   Cross your fingers for us :)

Curious to see what the next chapter will bring

So after a whirlwind effort to get it ready, our house listed and sold in less than a week J   Conditional on home inspection which happens on Thurs.  Cross your fingers for us!   No reason it shouldn’t pass, but always that fluke thing…   I’ll be super happy when it’s official J   And it’s kinda nice being in a house for a little while that is spotless and pretty ;)   HUGE thanks to my parents for dog sitting so we can keep it that way until it's official.   The next one might be a bit of a dancing unicorn to find, but we’re really hoping once we do, it will be a long-term stay.  Or, you know, sell everything, get a job that allows working remote, and move to a remote island somewhere warm...  Hmmm...  But, well, responsible husband ;)   Lol    At least once we move the commute will be less bad.
I’ve started doing 80 Day Obsession workout program.  It’s the same coach as 21 Day Fix Extreme, who is definitely not a favourite of mine, but I'm getting better at tuning her out.  I’d say these workouts aren’t quite as intense as Extreme, but are getting good results.  The new-to-me exercise equipment that has me amused are “sliders”.  No, not the mini burgers – they’d have the opposite effect of what I’m going for.   These are basically Frisbees – one side is fabric, the other plastic.    Depending what surface you’re on, you put the slippery side down and perform a series of exercises involving sliding various parts of your body.   Essentially the equivalent of sliding around slick surface wearing socks ;)    Deadly for the abs though.  Ouch.
The exercises are repetitive – as per any weight based training – but at least there’re a lot of them, which enables variety.   Most of the workouts are also closer to an hour than 30 mins, which is at times a scheduling challenge.   But we’ll see J   There are definitely times I miss working at the barn!

And speaking of -- in a huge flash back, I taught at Myrddin the other day.  Lol yeah -- real fast way to make the years disappear.   Even some of the same riders were still there -- fun to see them again.  Was also great to see Lissy again -- she was in two of the lessons I taught :)   Fun times.

It's a dog's life :)

So our dogs have their own bowls, and are pretty good about sticking to their own spot.  They get the same food, so not critical if not, but Sasha gets more of it.

This morning Tucker wanted more outside time than normal so I let Sash in -- who went straight to her breakfast -- and then I went about getting ready for work. When I returned a min or two later, Sash was still at her bowl as I let Tucker in. All good right?  Except somehow all of Tucker’s food had disappeared ;).  Lol too smart.  Not like she finished hers and then went looking.  No, hers would still be there later.   I guess she recognizes a good opportunity when it arises.  Since I didn’t actually catch her at it I just laughed and gave T some more breakfast ;)

Went to a symposium yesterday that was reasonably interesting. The keynote speaker, David Marquet, was a former commander of a nuclear submarine (captain? Are those words interchangeable in the navy - prob not ;).  Random eh? But essentially he got switched last second to a ship that he didn’t know and discovered fairly quickly that navy command and control style leadership might end with getting them all killed, so he had to figure something else out.  Really good speaker.  Website is fairly meh - if I’d seen it first, I’m not sure whether I’d have gone.  But in person worth listening to.

For the win :)

So my Triec mentee landed a job today, and I think I'm as excited for him as I was when I got my last job :).  And it happened with a few weeks left in the three month contract, so super excited about that.  I was officially the mentor in this situation but I still learned so much throughout the experience.  Really great, and one I expect I'll do again.  But YEAH :).  Lol so happy for him.

Today was worth the commute ;)
And as far as my job goes, while I was super excited about the job I started in Feb, we had an internal shuffle *sigh* so now I'm on a new team and not entirely certain what I'll be doing.  Frustrating and stressful, BUT at least I landed with a cool team.  It's a very new team and the first team building event was today -- axe throwing.  I'm not even kidding.  Definitely my kind of event ;).  Lol and even though I was definitely *not* talented at it, I won the tournament.  Lol disproportionately proud of that.  So we'll see how the role actually evolves...

I haven't been everywhere yet, but it's on my list.

Niagara Falls - Feb 9, 2018
We've reached our third anniversary, and are now half way to the five-year reunion trip ;).  However, since we're planning on Africa later this year, we couldn't really escape this winter (having just started a new job didn't help either).  So instead, we took one day and decided to go to Niagara Falls (for those not from here - it's about an hour and a half from here if there's no traffic).  Chris gets credit for the idea and we decided to go full on tacky tourist.  And it was So. Much. Fun.   Lol still makes me laugh.
Hopefully will have real giraffe photos later this year, until then, this will have to do.
Our Tacky Tourist Adventure started with a quest for a hotel room with a heart shaped jacuzzi.   They do exist, and they're as horribly tacky as you can imagine!    The mirrors were an added bonus ;)
I'm not even exaggerating.
Now a heart shaped jacuzzi in a classy hotel (well, as classy a hotel as one can find a heart-shaped jacuzzi!) would've had a fairly stunning falls-view, I'm sure.  Our hotel?   We had a direct line of site to the local Hooters.  Seriously.  I couldn't make this up.

However, I am getting ahead of myself.  Because before we could see the room, we had to get there.   Days Inn, on Victoria, Niagara Falls.   That's a pretty main street, this shouldn't be too hard right?   But, you know, tacky tourists have to get lost ;).   We didn't though, cause, we're awesome -- clearly.   Nope -- we went to Days Inn, on Victoria, in Niagara Falls.   And no reservation.   Hmmmmm.   So I pulled up the confirmation on the phone.  "Oh, that's not this Days Inn, the one you want is down the street."   And, since the street in question is under construction, gave us directions to where we should go.

Two Days Inns a couple blocks apart?!?!  Yup, it's a thing.   But wait -- it gets better.   We get to the Days Inn and go in.   And no reservation.   You have got to be kidding me.  "Oh, that's not this Days Inn, the one you want is down the street."   WTF?!?!?!   How many are there?!?!   Yeah, for the curious, there are FIVE Days Inns on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls -- 3 of which are within a few blocks of one another.   Sheesh.

So the third attempt did, in fact, have a reservation under our names.   And the hotel was about what you'd expect for one with those kinds of amenities overlooking the local Hooters ;).  I don't *think* they rent rooms by the hour, but it's a close call.   The *did* however, also boast of a pool, hot tub, and sauna -- which were all part of our grand escape.   So we hit that up first only to find the pool mostly drained (plus - this meant we had the place to ourselves), the hot tub more of the lukewarm variety, and the sauna more closely resembling an ice box than a sauna -- potentially due to the open windows near the pool.  But no way either Chris or I could find to turn on any heat in said sauna so we abandoned that idea.  The jets to the lukewarm tub were also intimidatingly loud lol, and the nearest door was being held open by a broomstick.   But we were there to enjoy the hot tub so damnit we were going to enjoy the hot tub.

Our super fancy hotel reservation came with free passes to several activities at Fun Zone.   So I very much wanted to go to Fun Zone.   I mean, with a name like that, how could you not?   We had reservations for dinner at 7, so thought we'd stop by on the way.   However, finding parking was proving to be a real challenge, and the weather was miserable enough that we didn't want to walk.   So instead I called to see if I could change our reservation, yup - no problem.   When we got to the, essentially empty parking lot, we realized why.
*The* touristy dinner spot in Niagara -- the revolving restaurant.
Walked up to check in -- no issue re arriving more than an hour early ;).  Then we got to pose for our super-awesome tourist photos.  Green screen all the way baby -- it doesn't get much more tacky touristy than that.   Turns out, Chris and I aren't great at the green screen game - lol.   Ah well, we tried, and it kept things amusing.  At least for me; I'm reasonably certain C was just humouring me ;)

Glass elevator had amazing views!  The blurry-purple is the falls ;)
Then up the glass elevator to the revolving restaurant.   There was an excessively large Amish party clearing out -- but this meant it was only a couple minutes wait for a table.   Dinner felt slightly rushed -- they're very quick to get you in and out.  There are facts on the windowsill as you rotate around that were moderately interesting.

The Ferris Wheel would've been ideal Tacky Tourism,
sadly, the weather was not enabling good views,
and, well, it was cold!
I really enjoyed my dinner, though C was less impressed was his.  I do think though that the views would've been spectacular had the weather cooperated!  Alas, it was both foggy and snowing, so most of the time we had no idea what we were missing.

I still got my traditional anniversary PiƱa Colada,
and while sadly not served in a  coconut,
I did at least get this stylish tourist glass to keep.
Tacky Tourist Win!
After dinner we continued up to the observation deck, where the brave can venture outside.  Given the temperature and the wind, we weren't out there long!   But it was worth it for a few seconds for the amazing view and a photo or two :)

No glass, just the wire safety mesh...
It finally occurred to me to take a pic from the elevator, more than half way down..
And right before the elevator goes back indoors.
We left the car at the restaurant (hello, free parking ;) and braved the elements to walk to the casino, and from there to the Fun Zone.   Lol -- let me tell you, if you want to be a tourist, dinner time in February is definitely the time to be there.   We had all the places to ourselves.  Entirely.  No lines.  No people.  It was awesome!   So our passes gave us access to the Mystic Maze of Mirrors, Mini Put, and two Haunted Houses.
Our first Fun Zone experience
So the Mystic Maze of Mirrors was first up.  I had absolutely no idea what this would entail.  We were given gloves to wear so as to avoid any chance of fingerprints on the mirrors.   Instructions were no running and walk with one hand held in front of you.  Ummm sure, why not?

Well I'll tell you why not.   Because if you don't, you are 100% going to crash into a mirror.  I kid you not.  This was actually awesome in a weird and twistedly disturbing kind of way.  It's not so much a maze in that there's almost always only one path to take -- the "detours" are super short (like a step or two).   Which is just as well because it'd be very easy to become very lost in there.   I really wish I'd taken a photo or two inside.
Thanks Google!   Yup - this is pretty much it.
So you see tons of identical options -- and it's essentially impossible to tell by looking which ones are true paths and which are solid.   I learned to focus directly ahead and if I saw any form of reflection to stop and turn until I found a way with no reflection.  This sounds deceptively simple.   FYI - it's not ;). There are hundreds of reflections everywhere, so it's strangely disorienting and tricky to determine which paths are safe.  The hand out in front and walking slowly was definitely key advice.

On reading it, it does not sound like something I would enjoy.  It sounds very much like something that would make me feel trapped and claustrophobic.   But I actually had a blast.  It was way better than anything I'd been expecting and I would totally do another one.
I would *not* have wanted to meet him in the hall of mirrors!
Next up was glow in the dark mini-put.   Let's be honest, mini put is always moderately amusing.   This one was partially under construction so only had 8 holes, and tbh, there was none of the fun stuff you usually see in mini-put.   But the decorations were awesome, for some random reason the back ground music was Beach Boys, and I was in a silly mood.   So yeah, it was a good time :)

Suspect this is prob the first time I've ever ridden a lizard ;)
Now those of you who know me in person, or who have read much of what I write, will be aware that I, at times, have shown a propensity towards a rather vivid imagination.  While most of the time this amuses me to no end and I'm forever grateful for it.  There are circumstances in which it is definitely detrimental.  Horror movies are 100% in that category -- I will have nightmares, and sometimes even daymares for months if not years.  So no.  Just no.   So suffice to say, it precludes any enjoyment in Haunted Houses.   Especially when combined with having read too many crime novels.

So we decided to forgo that option and instead headed to the casino.  Here we each decided on $20 to play with and played slots till we ran out.   Lol and you know what, it was just long enough.   I wasn't totally bored and frustrated yet, but I wasn't sad to be done either.  I was also pleased that we literally managed to use every penny.   Lol took some doing to spend those last couple cents because even the penny machines mostly had a minimum bet of well over a penny.

We did not, in fact, feel the need to hike down to the falls.   Have you been outside?   Yeah - no thanks.  We've both seen the falls before; I rode my bike there this spring.   So I suppose technically that was a Tacky Tourist fail.  But sometimes discretion really is the better part of valour.

And the heart shaped jacuzzi?   Well, that's an adventure you'll have to experience for yourself :)

So yeah, overall it was a really fun anniversary.  Admittedly a very different experience from our traditional beach escape, but I haven't laughed that hard in ages.  And am very much looking forward to the next year :)

So far so good.

The quest for *the* fitness app.

So I wanted a change from the P90X type workouts for a bit.   I still think they're awesome, I just wanted to play with weights for a bit.  So as a result, was looking for an app that would let me track workouts -- what exercise, reps, how much weight, etc.  Even better if it had a training plan.  I didn't think this would be such a challenge, but it's ridiculously hard to find *sigh*.

There are ones like Gymbook that let you track weights/reps/etc but doesn't offer suggestions or training.

Then there are ones like Fitstar (which Fitbit bought out) that learns and adapts but doesn't have tracking.

The closest to success I found was Jefit -- it has training plans with really good instructions and good tracking.  Win!  It doesn't personalize -- no big deal, and requires TONS of equipment (I think it thinks you're bringing it to the gym).  Also the workouts aren't searchable which is a little odd.  But I did find a good one, so that was decent.   Only thing is -- you can't mesh sets.   I'm used to while one group of muscles is on a break, you work a different set.  This app doesn't let you do this.  So it's just stand around time.  I don't have 1-2h a day for exercising; well, at least, not when I'm commuting 3h/day *sigh*.    Sasha loves it cause I throw the ball for her during the breaks ;).

Lol so overall it's a decent app, but just not *quite* what I was hoping for.  But maybe what I was hoping for doesn't exist.   Anyways -- the one thing it did call out was the lack of cardio in my current life.

I wanted a spin bike last year but didn't buy one cause I figured it was just cause I had R2CC on my mind, but I still wanted one this year so I went ahead and got one :).  Yeah me!   Lol AND I even managed to assemble it.  Win!   The computer I bought for it unfortunately doesn't attach.  Pretty disappointed at that since the same person sold me both items *sigh*.   I've amazoned (yes, I've deemed it's now a verb) a new one that has good reviews and should be here tomorrow.

Because just riding and not going anywhere is all kinds of boring and, in my case, remarkably ineffective, I went looking for an app.   Lol who's surprised by this?   And I discovered there are two distinct categories -- apps for cyclists who are using their spin bike to stay fit or improve specific areas of training, and apps for people who like spinning.   So for cyclists the top two seem to be Sufferest and Zwift.   For spinning it seemed to be CycleCast and Peloton.    All four of which are subscription services that are not cheap.   After much debate I decided I wanted to go the spin route and was really leaning toward CycleCast.   Except...  It's not available in Canada :(.  Huge fail *sigh*.  So Peloton it is.

I looked at Peloton last year when I wanted a spin bike -- it's a bike and app all-in-one setup.  That costs ~$2K.  Lol ummm no.   But now you can subscribe to the app without having the bike so worth a try.  I'm now the proud owner of a two week free trial ;).    Can do live workouts at scheduled times or on-demand pre-recorded one.   Filter by length, type of music, or instructor.

Not knowing any instructors, I chose 45 minute of 90s rock today ;).   Lol and it was as good or better than most of the spin classes I've taken in real life.  Apparently including weights in spin class is now a thing *g*.   Who knew?   But otherwise pretty much as I remembered.   They had matched cadence perfectly to the music, which was super handy since I don't yet have a cadence tracker ;).   I just tried to match the cadence of the instructor at first until I clued in to how perfectly the music matched ;).   They also reference tension levels, not having their bike (or any numbers on my tension) I just made that up as I went -- conveniently they reference "a little more", increase by one, or numbers from 30 - 80, so I could at least guesstimate.

Not the hardest workout I've done -- at least partially cause I'm still learning my bike so didn't go full out at first.  But I was (TMI warning) completely soaked and dripping buckets of sweat by the end.  Wasn't wearing my Fitbit and didn't bother to check pulse so no idea what my heart rate did, but I'd say it was a decent cardio workout.   Certainly worth doing two week's worth to decide if it's worth continuing.

As for overall fitness app -- the quest continues *sigh*.  My latest search has suggested Keelo.  It may be good but is quite expensive -- not sure I want to do two weeks free of two programs at the same time.   We'll see :).  If you have any other suggestions, please let me know!

The next chapter begins...

Okay not actually, but it made me laugh :)
I, of course, did not sleep last night.   Why would my brain give me a shot at starting a new job rested?    Sheesh.   Regardless, I got through Day 1 ;)    Yup, that’s right, my new job started today and it’s a bit of a surreal experience.   Same company.  Same building even (for the moment).  And I think it’s those similarities that make the differences stand out.
First off all, walking in – I need to take a different elevator bank.  Absolutely no big deal (in fact it’s actually a shorter trip since there are much fewer potential stops before my floor) but I still feel slightly wrong going there, and definitely disoriented coming out.
Once on the floor – same size, same building, similar layout.  But not quite the same.  Neither locker nor desk were even close to where I expected them to be.  Win on the locker location though – very happy about that.   And desks are flexible as per my last role, so I can move around after this week if I want.  They have a coat rack by the lockers which is a nice plus J   Lol the little things.
And walking around – going to get breakfast in the morning, the hot water tap is on the other side of the kitchen.  Such a minor thing, but made me think about a mindless task early in the am.   And knowing almost nobody – I’m not particularly social by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm used to saying hi to most people I pass throughout the day, knowing the people who usually sit near me, etc etc.  I’ve been there for more than three years now – there’s a basic familiarity there.   Whereas here, I’m not even at “hi in the halls” stage of knowing anybody.
Or almost.  The people on my team seem awesome; one made a point to come say hi this am.   Another I met with later in the am and we chatted for a bit.  And new boss seems a good fit – I’m excited to be on his team and it looks like there'll be interesting work.   So that's kinda the point.  My project team is scattered all over, but I met them in an all-day session last week, so that at least covered ice-breaking ;)    Sadly though, since none are in the building, it didn’t help alleviate the stranger in a known land feeling.
Same company, same building, different culture.  More formal both in dress and policy L    No work from home and hours seem to be of the 9-5 variety.   Really struggling with both these things, esp given that my aforementioned project team is scattered so I won’t be seeing them face-to-face anyways – which to me is the only advantage to coming in the office.   Ah well, fingers crossed that gets updated in the near future – until then, I’ll be watching my fitness and health slide down L   Ugh.   No stairs.  Literally sit at a desk for 8h, and spend 3h commuting with a few thousand other people.   Not the best recipe for wellness I’m afraid.   Also, they’re doing construction on the floor below so the noise combined with lack of sleep led to a substantial headache by midafternoon *sigh*
But the job itself is definitely a step up in interest and difficulty level.  Starting a little soft, at well under 100%, with a well-established program, which is less challenging than I might like, but at least it’s a super-interesting area.   Chatting with new boss I'm pretty convinced the potential for both interesting AND challenging is fairly substantial here, so I’m looking forward to that J
And all the people so far have been awesome.   Which is huge.   The rest – that’s just details ;)

Now on to day two...