Thursday, October 24, 2013

Edmonton

Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, Canada, is a northern city of about 1.1 million people. It's also the gateway to the Alberta oil fields so there's a lot of blue collar work there, particularly in the petroleum and construction industries.

Edmonton does have a beautiful downtown, situated on the enormous North Saskatchewan River. In fact, the River Valley that meanders through the center of the city gives Edmonton the honour of having the most parkland per capita in North America!

The south side of the river is a beautiful old area, filled with Victorian homes, the University of Alberta and the ever-interesting Whyte Avenue. That's about it for Edmonton, however. The north side is crap; dirty and crime-ridden, and the east side is all giant refineries and factories and that make the whole city smell of gas when the wind is blowing right. The west side is a suburban shopping hell, filled with strip mall after strip mall.

Nevertheless, here's a couple of videos I made about Edmonton:









This is another of my "music travel videos" featuring Edmonton. Like it or don't. I make these for my own collection.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Perfect Place

I love cities. I mean, I really, really love cities. Perhaps because I grew up in a small town and spent a lot of time in the country (I also love the counrty. I mean, I really, really love the country). I don't know.

For me Southern Ontario is the perfect location. It's full of quaint little farming towns, rolling, forest-covered hills and miles upon miles of wilderness, yet is also close to Toronto, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in North America. In fact, 14 million people call the corridor between Windsor (Detroit) and Toronto "home". It is literally the perfect mix between big city and country, and that makes it perfect for me!

Southern Ontario country: peaceful, serene, beautiful.
Toronto: 5.5 million people make it the 4th largest bustling
metropolis in North America!

This mix between absolute rural and absolute urban allows for a lot of freedom of choice. We can choose to stroll through a forest or visit a vineyard or shop at a farmer's market, or we can choose to take the commuter train into Toronto and hop on the subway, visit a Broadway show or go shopping on Yonge Street. The choice is ours. Toronto is only a 40 minute drive away, and it also has the Little Moscow district (right next to Koreatown, ironically enough) where Katya can find all her favorite imports from the Motherland.

Moving here was the best choice. This is the perfect place for us, and I am very content with our location. It is beautiful here, and can either be calm or bustling. It's our choice!

Check out this HD 1080 timelapse video of Toronto, with an awesome tune



Friday, October 18, 2013

Coleman Coolers

Katya and I moved into our new place a short while ago, and because all of our furniture (including my beloved flat-screen HDTV) is in storage, I decided to buy a used TV. I found a 36" Sony Trinitron HD TV from 1999 for $30!

These TV's were the pioneers of HD television. Although they are only 13 years old, they were the last of the big, boxy TV's that were sold before the slim-cased flat-screens took over.

I went to visit the guy who was selling his TV and checked this monster out. The screen resolution was still crystal-clear perfect, but what blew me away was the sound! The large speakers that run along the screen have rich bass and clear treble, and sound like a movie-theater. For $30 all of this was mine!



Except that the TV weighs more than 200 lbs!!

I can hoist and manhandle up to 100 lbs, but this TV was a monster! My uncle and I together could barely lift it, and by the time we got it into his SUV, and then up 4 flights of stairs to the second story where our new flat is, we were both bruised and had partial hernias. It took us nearly 30 minutes just to manhandle the thing up the stairs and into my new living room.

This massive television was now on my floor, where it made watching it difficult and the amazing sound probably annoyed the hell out of my downstairs neighbors. I decided to lift it up onto the only furniture-like thing we currently have: a Coleman Cooler.

I am a huge fan of Coleman products. Years ago my friends and I used to take annual canoe trips down the Saugeen River in central Ontario. Between 8 and 12 people would go, with two persons per canoe. The trip lasted 3 days and involved pulling over to camp in the woods at night. Some years the river was high and the weather warm, and we could swim and get a tan. Other years we would be bundled in sweaters the entire trip. One thing that did not change, however, was that our canoes were always stuffed with Coleman Coolers.

One year my canoe flipped (due to the two drunk idiots in it) and all our clothes, food and beer went floating down-river in Coleman Coolers. After we got ourselves back in our canoe we went through a series of rapids, got chased by cows and ended up nearly going over a hydro-electric dam, but at the end of it all we found all four of our coolers bobbing gently in a small pool at the edge of the river. Every piece of clothing was dry and every bottle of alcohol was unharmed! Rapids and dams and cows couldn't harm these coolers! I've been a loyal customer ever since.

Back to today, and my beast of a television is perched nicely atop my sturdy Coleman Cooler. I'm sure the cooler wasn't designed to be a load-bearing device, but until we get our furniture back, that's what it is, and it's doing a great job of it, too!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Geese & Deer

Katya and I like to go for a walk at least once a day. Admittedly I could use the exercise as I need to drop 50 lbs after quitting smoking last year.

Last night we went for a nice goose-feeding stroll through Riverside Park. We fed the geese and took in the beautiful autumn sunset.

Tonight we went strolling along a forest path and were surprised by deer gallivanting through the woods. For some reason they weren't afraid of us, which is a little unsettling. Then we popped in to Moxie's for supper and drinks .

Not exciting, I know, but it is what it is.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

October Drama

A couple of days ago Katya and I ended up thrown out on the street in the middle of the night by an unbalanced, psychotic bi-polar narcissistic ex-friend, whom we were renting a room from, when we informed her that we were moving out on November 1st. Rather than discuss things like an adult, she chose to verbally and physically assault my wife, threw us out on the street while screaming obscenities and slamming doors, and stole our money.

We were spending a lot of money driving Katya to work. As well, the law here provides a tenant the right to "reasonable enjoyment of the rented premises" (in our case, a bedroom). However, because the Dutchies are a young family with a 2-year old living in the room next to ours, they were unable (as well as unwilling on several occasions) to provide reasonable enjoyment of our room. For instance, at 7:30 in the morning they would play with their toddler right outside of our door, and when we asked them to keep it down, we would be told "It's my house, I'll do what I want!!" But one morning I sneezed and was given hell for "..waking everybody up!" We weren't allowed to use the oven, along with a million other little annoyances that, on their own mean nothing, but all together make for a giant mountain of grief.

The mix of economic factors along with our inability to enjoy living there made it easy for us to decide to move out. This sent Q into a raging frenzy, like a psycho bitch from hell, and it is a sad reality that she needs mental help.

Needless to say that after 20+ years, Q and I are no longer friends.

According to Ontario law a landlord, whether renting a shoebox or an entire farm, cannot legally evict a tenant without first applying to the Housing Tribunal for an order of eviction, or in the event that a tenant is posing a grave risk to person and/or property. So throwing us out, stealing our money and assaulting my wife could give me a big case should I choose to sue her psychotic ass off. However, I won't, unless she decides to continue being a jackass and does something else. If she stays out of our lives from here on in, we won't sue.

Thankfully my uncle and aunt took us in for a few days while we got our stuff sorted out, which we have done, and we're actually much happier now!

Katya has never had such a violent encounter with somebody, let alone the stress of being thrown out on your ass for no reason at all by an insane person who just completely snapped, and yesterday at work she had an emotional breakdown. I picked her up and took her home where she slept the rest of the day. Today, to make her happier, I took her for a nice walk through a local forest.

The autumn colors were out in full force. Here's some more of October beauty:





Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I Love You, October


I love the autumn. Actually, that's an awkward word to say all the time. I used to say "fall" but got so used to saying "autumn" in Russia, and with my Russian wife, that it's become my default word for the season. I'll take some liberty to rebel here. I love the FALL!

The summer starts nice, and it is filled with fun and opportunities, but by the end of August until mid-September I'm just sick of heat and humidity and mosquitoes and constantly sweating. September, like November and March, is one of the crappiest months. Fall hasn't begun yet but summer is over. It basically has all the inconveniences of summer AND fall mixed into one sweltering, boring, humid crappy month.

But today is October 1st, and now begins a REAL month!

All the trees explode into brilliant colors. Looking across at an Ontario forest in October takes my breath away. All the biting insects are gone by the middle of the month. Every mosquito, wasp, black fly and anything else that wants to take a piece of your body is DEAD! Goodbye bugs (I'm certain this is the real reason Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in the middle of October)!

The hot, humid sweats are gone for at least six months. Finally, people can put on all those nice warm clothes without bundling up. Fall fashions are the best, I'm forced to admit. I also find women look incredibly attractive when they're stylishly done up for autumn.

As a Canadian, we get two great bonuses to October: Thanksgiving and the start of the NHL hockey season!

October is the month of orange, red, yellow and brown. Admittedly tacky colors on their own, but when combined together in the form of a pumpkin, or a piece of corn, or a desktop wallpaper theme, they are beautiful.

I love how the nights get longer and darker in October, ending in a final week of black skies and glowing orange jack-o-lanterns as the second best holiday of the year, Halloween, arrives. Everything surrounding Halloween is wonderful. From carving pumpkins to roasted pumpkin seeds to pumpkin pie to sticking candles in pumpkins to throwing pumpkins off a cliff the next day...or was that last one just me?

Welcome, one of the best months of the year. I look forward to enjoying your 31 days of this year!