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Quick update, then back to work...

I'm back at home for the weekend. I feel so comfortable and spoiled. I came back because this may be the last chance I will have to visit until my reading week at the end of February. Even the new Family Day long weekend won't allow me to travel home because I have a presentation to do that Tuesday and I'll need to practice with my group during our day off. It sounds as if The Missus will be able to visit me in London at the beginning of February (or we could meet up in Toronto for a weekend) and hopefully that will materialize. Otherwise, it's going to be a long winter.

I managed to be productive yesterday (Saturday), and even had time do some readings for class next week (yay!), not just the assignments. I got a bit ahead of schedule and visited my local branch of the Ottawa Public Library to make some observations and test the reference desk with a question. I stayed up late writing the first draft of my report. It's due on Jan. 25th. If I can just finish another two assignments before I leave Ottawa this afternoon, I'll be off to another great start for the second week in a row.

After that, I'm pretty sure that the merde will hit the fan in week 3. I'm trying to keep my head down and not to think about that too much.

Telus is Stupid

Had my first run-in with Telus today. My bill arrived and was nearly $60 more than it should've been. Turns out that if you change your phone number with them and this isn't done on the same day as your monthly bill, you can get really screwed. In my case, it meant that all of my evening/weekend minutes were said to have been already used (and I don't talk for 1000 minutes, thank-you-very-much).

When I asked, they said that their billing system always does this and always has.

Me: "How can I avoid this when I change my number in the future?"
Them: "Try to change your phone number on the same day that your bill arrives."
Me: "Um, wouldn't that mean that I would get billed for long distance minutes whenever someone called me until I could change my number?"
Them: "Oh, uh, yeah."

I was given no warning and, had I not complained, I would have been stuck with the bill. Also, their automated phone system doesn't make it obvious how to talk to a representative (my experience with Rogers' customer support encouraged me just say "talk to a representative" right at the outset, which worked).

To me, this is really negligent. If you're a phone company, your billing system should be able to deal with a change of phone number.

Just Keep Going

Just a quick update.

Two days ago was a cardio day for me at the gym. That morning, the Rogers guy was dropping by to install my new landline so I couldn't get to the gym before the afternoon. By that time, it was packed. Still, I managed to get the one remaining stationary bike for my warm-up, and then a treadmill became available just when I needed it.

I ran for 10 minutes. That was a new personal, post-surgery record, beating my previous maximum of 9 minutes, achieved on December 24th. As usual, I could feel my weight starting to be carried more through my patella tendon (or ligament?) instead of my leg muscles towards the end. I stopped, amazed. My previous best since arriving here was 4.5 minutes before my patella starting acting up.

Today was another cardio day. I ran for...21 minutes! And this time I didn't feel any strain under my kneecap. I stopped because I didn't want to push things too much, but it felt like I could have continued until my lungs gave out.

Second Day - Briefly On Top of Things

Got up and got to the gym for 6:10am. I would've made it for 6:00 sharp, but I hit snooze for those extra ten minutes. I don't regret it.

I hate the dirty and smelly Western gym. Most other people with whom I have spoken have paid for membership at other gyms around town but I think I'll tough it out. So long as I can keep waking up early I won't have to compete with too many other people for access to the equipment.

I was quick on my toes at school today and now I'm well ahead of schedule for my assignments. I've moved on to assignments that are due in two weeks' time. Once those are done, I should have more time to focus on my presentations - one in mid-February, the other in mid-March (and I'm sure others will be added).

I also submitted my application for the co-op program today, a week ahead of anyone else (the co-op orientation session is next Wednesday). Contrary to my past student life, I may be starting to develop a reputation as a keener within the MLIS office. Fortunately, I have enough time left in the term to change that perception. To quote Moggy from vonandmoggy: "maybe wine will salvage my reputation".

Back to work...

First Day - Stress

Had my first class today: Research Methods and Statistics. As an engineer, I thought that I would enjoy this class. I thought that I would gleefully rub my hands together while watching the English and History majors struggle to understand the math. No such luck.

Turns out that the statistics part will be kept as "non-math-y" as possible. Instead, we're being divided into groups and each group has to teach for one half of one class at some point this term - that's a 75-minute group presentation!

Now I have a boatload of reading to do before tomorrow. April 11th seems pretty far away, now.

Little London

How London Fails: Driving and Roads

In Ottawa, left-turn lanes are aligned. This means that if I'm in a car waiting to turn left and another car going in the opposite direction is turning left, and we both have "left-turn" lanes, our cars should be perfectly aligned (from one end of our bumpers to the other). As a result, we can see past each other to determine whether it is safe or not to begin turning, or to safely wait for traffic to pass.

London street planners didn't really figure this out, so whenever I want to turn left and another vehicle, going in the opposite direction, is also turning left, we can't see past each other. There's the inevitable slow creep forward before I have to slam on the brakes to avoid getting clocked by an oncoming car.

The drivers here don't seem overly rude but they are impatient, and display this in two different ways. First, if you turn too slowly, you are likely to be honked at. Being new to the city and a bad navigator, I have had to do a lot of U-turns. To do a U-turn, you generally turn a little more slowly than you would if you were just doing a regular left turn. For the three times that I have done a U-turn with another driver behind me, I have been honked at for, I assume, turning too slow.

Second, when turning right onto a busy street, I thought the protocol was that you not only wait for a space in traffic for you to insert your car, but also allow enough time for you to get up to speed so that the oncoming cars don't have to slow down for you. In London, everyone waiting to merge will turn onto a busy street given a few car lengths of space, forcing me to cut my speed down to about one half or one third while I wait for them to accelerate.

This wouldn't matter if London was either pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly, but it's not. Forest City my ass. If you don't have a car, you're out of luck.

How London Rocks

Just called the Scot's Corner pub. I heard that a few places showed football games on weekend mornings, but they only opened at noon - much too late for Liverpool games. Got on the phone with the people at Scot's and asked three questions: "Do you get Setanta and Fox Sports World?" ("Yes, we do").  "Do you show  British Premership games?" ("Yes, and Scottish Premiership, too"). "What time do you open on weekend?" (they gave the best answer: "Our official opening time is 10:30, but if there's a game on we will open as early at 7:00am. We open when the games start.")

I hope they have a decent breakfast.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Went to the gym again this morning for my first day back among the weights since December 31st. My knee responded very well. I didn't notice the metric values, though, and nearly killed myself on the cable pull when I thought I would be lifting 35 pounds with my bad leg and was actually lifting 35 kg. Adjustments were made, disaster narrowly avoided (to be fair to myself, the cable pull only had the numbers on the weights, and not the units of measurement).

Went to Chapters to find a Slow Cooker Recipe Book for The Missus to use while I'm away (I'm planning to go home next weekend, so I can give it to her then). While there, I bumped into a fellow classmate that I met yesterday at orientation and I told her about the London Food and Wine show in two weeks time. She seemed really interested and thought that other people would be, too. Sounds like my idea of getting a group together for this will work.

Need to finish my readings tonight so that I can spend tomorrow mucking about with my laptop.

Orientation Day

Today, finally, was my orientation day. A few profs introduced themselves. I met a bunch of my classmates and they all seem like nice people, but I wasn't as outgoing as I should have been. Part of the problem was that I sorted out too much of my stuff yesterday (student card, parking, locker), so when everyone was running fixing up that stuff for themselves, I was reluctant to just tag along. In hindsight, I should have done so. I find myself again, like at many times recently, stuck in The Age Between. Most students have just finished their undergrad, so they're pretty young and carefree. A few others are much more "mature" students than I am. It's an odd place to be.

I did notice that there's a Food and Wine Show happening in London during the weekend of Jan. 18-20. I might try to organize a group to head out and partake. Having missed the Ottawa Food and Wine Show (ironically because I was in London apartment hunting), I would love to attend and it might be a good, unofficial first-term MLIS social event.

I was also reminded that I hate public speaking when we each had to get up and introduce ourselves. I really wasn't ready for it and I could feel my face turn bright red as I rattled off the basics (where I come from, where I graduated, whether I have any existing library experience). I need to turn that around, fast!

Orientation finished at about 2:30pm, and with the gym closing at 4:00pm today, I took advantage and did some cardio. My running time has gone down a bit; I could only run for 4.5 minutes before my knee started to hurt. The gym looks ugly, but it opens at 6am. I'm hoping that it's less busy at that time on Monday.

One prof, who is teaching two of my classes this term, is away for part of next week, so he assigned us a reading to do instead. After going home to shower and have a bit of dinner, I went back to campus and did most of the reading. I left campus at 8pm. I just wanted something to keep me busy and that did the trick. I think I'll be putting in some long days at the North Campus Building to keep my mind off The Missus and how much I miss her.
I'm in London (Ontario). Leaving The Missus yesterday, just before 11am, was really tough. She teared up when I left and we kissed goodbye and, to be perfectly honest, I almost teared up myself. I came awfully close again on the 401 when I was listening to Dave and Morley stories from the Vinyl Cafe that I had burned onto some CDs. We talked on the phone last night and I felt a lot better. She has lots of work to keep her busy but I'm playing the waiting game right now.

Last night was tough, but today has been good. I have my orientation day tomorrow, so I got out of bed, got ready and was out the door before 8am. I had a quick breakfast and headed to the UWO campus to sort out, well, just about everything. I bustled around campus getting my parking pass, student card, bus pass (included with my graduate society fees!) and locker. I found the gym, which I desperately need to use after two weeks of holiday slacking. The muscles around my heeling knee have atrophied slightly, so I'll be renewing my training this Saturday.

I also bought some of my books and, while at the store, I noticed that Blankets by Craig Thompson was assigned for another class. So I picked that up, too.

I also found Ratatouille at Best Buy. It was sold out everywhere in Orleans before I left, but they have tons here.

I'm eager for classes to start so that I can get busy working. And then I'm looking forward to a weekend sometime this January when I can get back to Ottawa and to my Missus.

Off I Go

I was pretty depressed last night. The last month in the new house with The Missus has been so wonderful and it's very hard to leave her behind. I tried my best not to fall asleep, to have a bit of extra time with her.

We went to see The Souljazz Orchestra at Babylon for New Year's Eve. They were great (as usual), and they confirmed that they're releasing a new CD this year, which will include a reggae song of theirs that I really like. Unfortunately, they took a long break after midnight and we were both too tired to stay to see their second set.

I'll be without Internet access for a day, so see you all later.