Monday, July 31, 2006

You know it's humid when... step from the hockey rink where you work to the staff parking lot and...your glasses fog up. That was weird.

It's kinda weird at work right now. There are a few people around the building from Canlan Ice Sports but they're really not allowed to do too much as the facility hasn't officially been sold yet (I mean, sure, they've fired the general manager--and his daughter--and taken over his office, besides firing 3 others, but that's pretty much all they've been able to do other than take measurements in areas they're going to renovate and give job offers to the people they're going to and inform those who aren't getting offers of their situation). They had been hoping the closing would go through such that they would be the owners as of August 1, but looks like it will be happening later in the week. This means all our people who had thought today would be their last day (those in management who elected not to accept the offers Canlan gave them) are actually going to be in tomorrow and maybe the next day. One of them told me and my fellow Guest Services worker today that he'd had a hard enough time getting himself out of bed to come in today; tomorrow will be harder. I commented to him that it must be hard to get anything done when it is almost your last day and he agreed; the motivation just isn't really there. It will be kinda neat and kinda exciting to see the transformation of the place into a Canlan rink, but it is sad to see some of these people go. Anyway, I'm not sure how much of the transformation I'll get to see as teacher's college starts Aug. 28 for me and I still don't know what my school schedule will be like (I guess I get that at the Aug. 28 orientation); I may not have time to work during the school year and thus I may only be around the Ice Gardens/Canlan Ice Sports York for another three weeks or so. We'll see. This is just a summer job for me, after all; I am not invested in the place or even emotionally attached to it. I'm just curious to see what the next few weeks are going to be like.

Oh, I will definitely be working fewer shifts in August than I have been the past few months as apparently we are going to be cut down to only having one Guest Serv--er, Customer Service Representative (the Canlan term) working the desk in the evenings, just like we had before the bankruptcy thing started (before I started working there). This means fewer shifts are available, though we still have the same number of girls in our department. So...the house is going to get cleaner and my husband and friends and other family are going to see more of me. Maybe I'll even get some more sleep.

Speaking of sleep, I'm going to continue my evening wind-down routine now so I will be in a sleep mindset in a while (I'm never sleepy when I come home right after work so I gotta prepare my mind for bed in a way). Goodnight for now.

Monday, July 24, 2006

It's only fun when it's a game.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I've been playing a lot of free escape-the-room type games like those by the creator of The Crimson Room and One-Off (which at first glance looks like a rip-off of The White Chamber, but that first glance is the only thing the two games have in common). Today I wished that I had only been playing one of those games.

See, today I was actually trapped in a room. For about an hour. It was our bathroom here at home. As is our custom here in North America, I closed the door behind me when I went to make use of said room this afternoon, even though I was home alone. When I was ready to come out, it turned out that the door was not ready to let me out. Oh, the doorknob turned...but when I stooped down for a closer look, I could see that while the bolt was moving as I turned the knob, it was not moving enough. Ok, well, not to panic, I thought (after some useless calling for help and banging on the door); I've been playing all those escape-the-room games...surely I would be able to find a way to get myself out.

Ok, here are some comparisons between escape-the-room (I'll just say ETR henceforth) games and actually trying to escape from a room:
  1. When you are playing an ETR game, you know you are playing a game. You know you are not actually trapped in a room. You do not have to remind yourself that the room you are trapped in is not airtight and that you will not suffocate; you are not actually in the room you're trying to escape and you are not actually breathing that room's air, so such thoughts do not even enter your mind. When you are actually trying to escape from a room, however, the pressure is a little different and you may not think as clearly as you might when playing an ETR game. You may even panic, even if "DON'T PANIC" (and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) comes into your mind a million times while trying to actually ETR.
  2. When you are playing an ETR game, you can stop at any time and carry on about your business if necessary. If you are having trouble getting out of the room, it's okay, you can give up and try again later; you don't have to get out of the room before, say, you have to go to work. When you are actually trapped in a room and had hoped to leave, say, three-quarters of an hour ago to run some errands before work and then start work, the frustration and pressure increase notably.
  3. When you are playing an ETR game, there are various objects strategically placed in the room in which you are trapped; these objects, when used and combined in a certain manner, will allow you to unlock the door or otherwise escape. For example, in the games by the Gotmail crowd, you are bound to have to find and use a cellphone (and usually, though not always, a laptop computer), amongst other things. However, when you are trying to escape from a bathroom in real life, you may find that the number of "strategically placed items" is close to zero. You will certainly not find a cellphone or a laptop computer (unless maybe you went straight into the washroom with your backpack and all as soon as you came in from school or work, which I have done in the past but which was not the case this time...I don't have a laptop anyway, but a cellphone would have been nice). Your youngest sister-in-law will of course have left the house one half-hour before you got trapped in the bathroom and your husband won't be home for maybe another hour, so your ability to communicate with the outside world will be notably limited (come to think of it, maybe that is like most of the ETR games...just not those by the Gotmail crowd). You may get ideas of things you could possible do with items that are in the room, but the objects you have at hand will turn out not to be sufficient to do the job. For example, I eventually got the idea to use some of the items I had in the washroom to dismantle the doorknob/lock and thus free myself. I did actually manage to remove the knob and expose some of the inner workings of the thing using the nail file that was attached to some nail clippers. Unfortunately, further attempts to manipulate the mechanism using this and another (larger) set of nail clippers, a toothbrush, a pair of tweezers and a warped hair barrette were all in vain. I also got the idea to try to remove the pins from the hinges, but I was unable to get any of them to budge with these "tools." Eventually I noticed the matches that we keep in the bathroom (don't ask ;)) and considered burning down the door (or at least burning out the section that held the lock), but I thought that despite the ready availability of water in the bathroom that that could quickly turn very dangerous and decided against it (and yes, I was actually worried about the fire consuming precious oxygen). I think the items that I made the most good use of during my experience were a.) my wristwatch, which told me that my hubby should be home in a while and would hopefully be able to let me out (or at least call my handyman dad who would hopefully be able to let me out...let me tell you, when I heard the phone ring when I was still trapped and unable to answer it, my big fear was that the caller--who didn't leave a message--was my husband calling to say that he wouldn't be home for a while...thankfully that wasn't the case), and b.) the mat in front of the sink, on which I generally laid curled up during times when I wasn't trying to do something more to get out.
  4. When you are playing an ETR game, you can get help from hints on various forums or walkthroughs if you get stuck and need someone to tell you what the next step is (or at least give you a decent enough clue that you can figure it out better than you could before). In real life ETR situations, like I said, you generally cannot communicate in any way with the outside world. It's you and your brain and some limited physical resources and that's it.
  5. Ok, forgetting about the hints and walkthroughs that I just mentioned...when playing an ETR game, it is all up to you. No in-game character is generally going to come along and help you out (yes, they may send you cryptic text messages or some such thing, but no one comes and opens the door for you or otherwise comes to physically aid your escape). In real life, if you wait long enough, someone will probably come to help you. In my case, I don't live alone, so eventually my youngest sister-in-law or my husband was bound to come home (mother-in-law is away for the week); I just hoped it would be sooner rather than later (let's just say the suffocation thing was unrealistically on my mind; I even wrote a message on a bar of soap with the aforementioned nail file just in case). Hubby did come home in good time and heard me call for help as soon as I heard him come in the side door of the house. After he was also unable to dismantle the doorknob/lock/whatever (and he had a good even having the right tools doesn't always help), he ended up kicking the door open for me (with me cowering in a more protected corner of the bathroom!). He is feeling very strong and proud of himself for being able to do said manly task; I am just very, very glad he was able to do that for me. After some hugging and comforting I calmed down (despite the fear of suffocating, I was actually pretty good and pretty calm until I heard him come in the house; after that I guess the hopeful nearing of my freedom just made me go mildly hysterical for a bit) and still had time to put gas in the car and go to work, hooray!
Phew. I'm very thankful today that I have a husband and that God brought him home from work in good time for me today. (I'm usually thankful I have a husband anyway, don't worry; I'm just a little extra thankful today.) I'm thankful I got to work on time (it was a crazy, panicky day at work, too, but punctuality is still important to me :)). I'm thankful to be alive and not suffocated. And now I'm thankful that I can go to bed and rest and forget about this day...hopefully tomorrow will be better. No games for me tonight...I don't know if I'll be able to play them again for a while. Good night for now...

Friday, July 21, 2006

You take the good, you take the bad...

So I'm driving myself around now. It's nice being able to get from A to B without having to rely on someone else for a ride (or bug anyone for a ride), although it does have its nervousness-inducing properties as well. One of the things that makes me nervous is when I want to move over into another lane...I am always wondering whether I'll be able to find a break, or, failing that, if someone will be nice enough to slow down and make a break for me when they see my signal (if you live in Toronto, you understand that I mostly believe that they will not be that nice, which makes me anxious as I really do have to move over at some point)...should I move over to the far right lane earlier, even though it's supposed to be the fast lane and I'm not a fast driver, risking angering the fast drivers and causing them to dangerously pass me on the right, or should I move over later, risking that I won't find a break (or someone nice enough to let me in) and I will have to drive past my turn and then have to find a way to double back? Sigh. I guess I'm just not used to driving in the heavy stuff; my practicing was pretty much here in Scarborough, but now that I'm car-communting to work I see a bit more traffic. I'll adjust, I'm sure; really I do have the skillz, I just have to get my confidence back. Oh, and night driving does freak me out a little because the headlights of other cars shining in my mirrors and past my side and so on make it seem like they are closer than they really are, making me feel more pressured and cramped than I really need to. But again, I'll adjust. Everyone who's ridden in my car has told me I'm a perfectly capable driver, after all; once this driving alone thing becomes a bit more routine the nerves will die down and I'll be fine and confident again and so on.

So I was working today. I think I've mentioned that someone finally bought Ice Gardens; well, that someone turns out to be Canlan Ice Sports. That's pretty cool. Unfortunately, with changes in ownership usually come some changes in staff. The man I knew as the general manager is as a result no longer with Ice Gardens. The woman I knew as my boss and the general manager's daughter is also no longer with the Ice Gardens (and that pretty much is due to her being his daughter as far as most people are concerned). It's really sad that she is gone because she was very dedicated and a good worker besides a nice person; I had good conversations with her whenever I was called on to do work upstairs about teacher's college, our work styles, the churches we'd attended, and so on. There are three others who I know for sure are gone...and one who had been told she would be gone at the end of the month yet has an interview tomorrow with Canlan, so we'll have to see what happens with that. Apparently this all went down Tuesday, so it's been a pretty crappy three days for a lot of the staff. Tomorrow the rest of the management staff either find out if they are still with the company or have second interviews (there was some confusion about which). Soon the facilities staff will find out if they are still with the company, too. Apparently, though, the people upstairs were told to keep all the part-timers on for now and to go ahead and make schedules for us for August, so looks like none of this will affect my employment there, though we will have to see how many shifts there will be to go around. Needless to say we're all a little on edge and a little sad at the Ice Gardens right now, though I was in a good mood today (and I don't have as much of an attachment to these people as those who've worked there longer) and this didn't affect that too much (though at times it did).

Eventually I finished work and drove a co-worker home before coming home myself. It is nice to be able to help people out like that (she's more or less on my way home anyway; I work with this girl a lot and it's nice to be able to do something for her now and then; keeps her from having to take the bus at that time of night, too, which means she is getting home quicker and more safely). A down side of driving myself right now and working evenings is that I have to do the car shuffle when I come home--that means I have to get my mother-in-law's car out of the driveway, put my car in the driveway, and put her car back in the driveway, along with the accompanying getting and putting back of her keys. This is a bit of a pain but could be worse; I'll just have to make sure I get a decent amound of sleep each night so that I can do that properly each time (I back my car into our driveway rather than driving in 'cuz Young Drivers taught me that backing in is better than backing out, but since it slopes upwards and I drive a stick that is sometimes a bit of a challenge).

Sooo...yeah, I had a pretty normal, run-of-the-mill day, with some little ups and little downs. Tomorrow will likely be much the same. I guess that's all for to you later!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


(Those of you who know me, please pardon the blanking out of all my personal info on that photo; this blog isn't public but I just want to be careful.) Cool, I can now do errands without having to bug someone (with a valid class G license and at least 5 years of licensed driving experience) to sit in the passenger seat for me. I have a meeting to drive myself to tonight, so that works out well. I had a nice driving examiner. I was a little concerned when near the end of the test she made a small noise and covered her face with her hands, but it turned out she was just tired...she'd had trouble sleeping the night before because she'd been too excited. Excited about testing me? No (although I also had trouble sleeping last night due to test-induced nervousness); she'd been excited because she's getting a motorcycle on Saturday. And not just any motorcycle...a Harley. Well, she was happy enough to chat about that for a while...when we got back to the parking lot and parked and she was still chatting for a while, she had to stop herself and she basically said, "Oops, I'm chatting and not marking." Anyway, she congratulated me, the lady who gave me the paper photographed above congratulated me, my dad congratulated me (even though I asked him to drive me home when the test was over...I did enough driving practicing for my test between 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. once we got up to the Aurora DriveTest centre, and then during the test itself of course...I needed a break :)), my mom congratulated me (on my cell phone, with that excited screechy voice we women can get when we're really, really happy), Martin congratulated me (on my cell, after he called my mom to make sure my test was over and to get an idea of how it went), Jen congratulated me (she asked me to call her at work), and I'm sure the congratulating isn't over for the day, but I am feeling happy. Not looking forward to prepping for my meeting, but I'm happy :). This calls for ice cream. Later...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

This is just so inspiring.

Check out my new uniform at work:

Note the contrast of black screen printing on stark white fabric. Such a work of art, and one that screams professionalism...not. Still, I do get paid pretty well for what I do, I admit, so I guess I can handle wearing this "uniform" that puts me back in the days when wearing silk-screened T-shirts was the thing to do (extra long, over a pair of tights?). I also have to admit that it was especially nice having a T-shirt uniform today after walking through this scorcher of a day (the humidex was 42 ÂșC when I left here) to get to work...putting on our other uniform #1 (red sweatshirt with Ice Gardens crest on left chest area and "Staff" stitched in underneath...nice and warm for those facilities fellas when they're flooding the rinks) or even our other uniform #2 (summer league jerseys that are pretty big on us Guest Services gals considering that we don't have lots of hockey padding on underneath 'em) would not have been real pleasant when I came in from that heat. Still, a polo shirt would be nicer than this, but I guess that's not my call; maybe our new owners will change it, but we only got bought recently (Friday I was told the announcement would be later that day--maybe it was, but I sure didn't hear it) so it will take a while for them to get to know us (and it longer still before any changes they're going to introduce will be implemented) so I don't think I'll be seeing a better summer uniform before I'm done my summer job there.

Incidentally, at least two other Guest Services staff besides myself remember the days when you could buy those buckle things to feed part of your T-shirt through to cinch it around you and bunch it up all cool-like on one side of the front of you (I think we formed these T-shirt "tails" near our waists)...well, that is, if you weren't cheap and had to resort to tying the lower part of your extra-long T-shirt in a knot to try to acheive the same effect. I never could get that knot to hold so well.

In other work news...a team was robbed at our facility again today. I feel sad about this one because the manner in which it was carried out shows that the perpetrator is someone who is very familiar with our facility, seeing as:
  • the team that was robbed had locked their dressing room
  • the room that was robbed (F5) therefore had to have been entered through the shower room that F5 shares with F6 (you can lock the door that leads from each room into the showers, but this team hadn't done that)...only this rink and I think one set of rooms on another rink have this shared shower situation...the "perp" likely had to be familiar with our facility to know he could do this
  • the four wallets that were taken and pilfered were found in a bag in F1, which was not in use at the time (the bag was found by a referee who snuck into F1 to smoke on his break, which he was not supposed to do, but there you go)...I suppose the "perp" could have found an unoccupied room by trial and error and didn't need to know what rooms were being used and not being used by programming at the time (though it might look suspicious to do it the trial-and-error way, especially if he walked in on another team), but interesting to come prepared with a bag to hide them in. I did not hear details of what this bag was like; I assumed it was like a trash bag, but that is only my assumption.
This especially does not look good on our facilities staff (who know the layout of the rooms well, including the shared-showers detail, who would not look suspicious going into F6 carrying a trash bag, presumably to clean up F6, who have ready access to trash bags, and who have to know what rooms on each rink are occupied and unoccupied during all our programming so they can clean the formerly-occupied rooms up after each team leaves), but my fellow Guest Services worker pointed out it could be any of us--a ref, a timekeeper, a convenor, a Guest Services worker...the list goes on. The guys who were robbed were just happy to get back their wallets, credit cards, etc. and are not pursuing the matter as altogether they only lost about $100 cash. I guess the thief gets away (again? was this the same person who robbed those kids in an incident I mentioned in another entry?) because, in the paraphrased words of one of our convenors tonight, "No one is strict enough to do anything about it." Sigh.

Y'know, I do like the laidback, no-pressure nature that my job has for the most part, but there are times (especially times like this) when I wish a lot of the other staff weren't so laidback and, dare I say, apathetic about a lot of things. It will be interesting to see if the atmosphere changes when the new owners start doing some moving and shaking...if they start moving and shaking by the time I am done my term there, that is.

Oh well, off to bed for me now...I need to do some parallel parking practice tomorrow, after all, and am hoping to do my step aerobics DVD, too (yep, it arrived shortly after I ordered it last week, and I have already confirmed how painless it is to work with the DVD version of this workout compared to the VHS tape I had been using...I really am going to start enjoying this stepping thing again). Good night.

I wasn't going to do this, but...

It is scheduled to be at 1:25 p.m. I have to check in at least half an hour before that, though, and who knows, if the examiner is running ahead of schedule that means I could have my test up to half an hour early (well, half an hour early would be a little extreme, but it could happen...if I check in more than half an hour early, my test could be even earlier!). I am taking my test in Aurora this time, partly because I don't want to run into anyone who has previously examined me at either of the Scarborough locations (that would make me very nervous) and partly because I have heard reports that it is easier to get one's license there (not that I am trying to beat the system or anything; everyone who rides in my car when I am driving says that I am a perfectly capable driver and there is no reason why I shouldn't already have my license, but given that I tend to get bad nerves during road tests I want to give myself every advantage I can get). I do have a world outreach committee meeting that evening, but I should have time between my test and the meeting to pop on here and tell you how it went, unless I am out partying or too depressed to blog about it. Anyway, I'll let you know by the end of the week whether I managed to get myself licensed or if Christina "I had to take my road test several times before they licensed me, too" Singh had to pick me up for the meeting. Stay tuned...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Point-and-click mania

I think I have a new addiction. It's called Jay is Games. The Myst/URU series of games is over (recent resurrection of URU Live excepted, but I don't think I'll be getting involved in that), leaving me without a reliable source of adventure games (adventure games being those that usually involve walking around solving puzzles--some of which subtle and some of which are overt--in order to advance a storyline). Frustratingly, my local EB seems to have decided to cater to the console gamers rather than the PC people nowadays. I used to be able to go in there and browse a whole wall of PC titles and see what adventure titles were in the mix, but now very few PC titles are there at all. The make-you-think games have always been less prolific than the shoot-em-ups and such, but now I am going to have to travel even further afield than I used to to find them. Oh well, there's a Best Buy near the same mall :)'s just not the same as EB used to be, though.

Anyway, while I'm waiting for the day when I find it easier to justify upgrading my processor so it meets the basic requirements of Dreamfall (the long-anticipated sequel to The Longest Journey, a landmark in adventure game design according to just about any adventure gamer), I'm entertaining myself (or have been the past couple days, anyway) by playing various free online adventure games. I have found all of them so far in the past few days through Jay is Games. They have mostly been of the escape-the-room/escape-the-house variety, such as those by the "The Crimson Room" guy (I played The Crimson Room and The Viridian Room ages ago, but only played The White Chamber and The Blue Chamber in the past few days; they are all good except the Blue Chamber, which is too short in terms of steps to perform, though it could take forever to figure out what you have to do if you're not really good or willing to get some hints from other people), Dr. Metero (yeah, the text is in Japanese, but it's very doable by English just have to tolerate not knowing what's said in the intro), Aquaria, Submachine, Submachine2: The Lighthouse (this one is really really good, if you like a challenge), and even Jinx: A Dark and Stormy Night (put out by YTV...who knew?). Others I played that I wouldn't classify as escape-the-room were Samorost and Jinx Episode 2: Miracle in the 34th Dimension. The Jinx games are really, really easy but I had fun...I'm just looking to amuse myself, here, after all. Anyway, next time I am looking to relax with some make-you-think gaming, I am more than likely going to hop on Jay is Games and search for "point-and-click" again (this seems to be what most of the online adventure games are classified as). Until I get me to Best Buy to attempt to find a Myst-worthy boxed adventure game, anyway.

Alright, g'night everyone...I gots to go to work tomorrow evening again (*looks at clock*...hmm, I guess that would be this evening...yeah, I gotta get to bed). Bye for now...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A couple neat little flash games. Oh, and Hoodwinked.

Today I played Chasm and Tork. They were kinda neat. I like adventure puzzle-solving games like Myst (and all its sequels...though I doubt I'll be getting involved Uru Live again, though it was exciting to find out that it is indeed live again, if only on a trial basis), so these things appealed to me...and the fact that they didn't eat up days of my time but still managed to make me do some thinking makes them good in my book. Try ' might like 'em, you might not. They are rated (by the site) as 4 out of 5 in difficulty, so if you don't like having to do a bit of thinking, maybe don't try 'em.

If you decide to go poking around the other games on that site, please do yourselves a favour and don't go into Kafkamesto. It is disturbing. No, I did not finish it. I will not even try. Reading the "Behind the Scenes" is much more disturbing. Yuck.

Tonight hubby and I watched Hoodwinked. Hubby laughed a lot. A lot. I liked wasn't a blockbuster or anything, but a pleasant watch anyway. It was better than I expected, too. If you're looking for something light, this is an option. "Use the hood, Red!" Uh, yeah. Nevermind.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Don't fix what ain't broke. Do fix what is.

Okay, so some of you are aware that I've been trying to find a way to get back in shape. I used to be in decent shape, after fact, I loved my grade 11 fitness class that I took for course credit when I was in OAC. Since I have been having trouble getting myself back into the habit of fitness lately, though, I've decided that instead of looking for new ways to get fit, I should maybe try looking at what I used to love doing for fitness and go back to that. After all, like the founder of The Brat Factor says, "If it isn't fun, it won't get done."

Okay, so what did I love about my grade 11 fitness class? Well, I did love playing floor hockey in that class, and I also loved playing floor hockey intramural-ly when I was in residence at my Bible college for a semester (maybe a little too much...I did get more penalties than I expected for being a little too, um, enthusiastic). However, no free opportunities for me to play floor hockey seem to be presenting themselves to me lately, and I don't really want to pay for something until I'm sure I'll stick with it...and the inconvenience of having to go out somewhere to play might mean that I might get lazy and not go out to it floor hockey games generally happen on a once-a-week basis, and I am looking for something to do on a more regular basis (well, I suppose I could play floor hockey one day a week and do other things for fitness the rest of the week, but bear with me here). So I've got all sorts of excuses as to why I don't think I'll get involved in floor hockey right now, but maybe further down the road I'll look at getting back into it.

Hmm, alright, so what else did I love about my grade 11 fitness class? Well, there was one thing I loved even more than playing floor hockey, and that was...step aerobics. Yup. Step aerobics. Any kind of aerobics is of course an individual activity (so long as you have an instructor), so stepping doesn't require me to go out and get a team together (or sign up for a team only to discover the other girls are all either wimps or too hardcore for me). If you choose your routine right, it can be completely low-impact, so the chances of my injuring myself even in my current state are pretty low. I even went out and bought myself a step back in the day when I was really into this--though I think it was another couple years before I got myself a video to use it with--so I have all the equipment I need to "step" at home, including a mat and some dumbbells to use during the toning sections of the video (no, stepping while holding weights isn't involved--the instructor says that's dangerous--but there is a section where you sit down and balance the workout you've been giving your legs with some strengthening work on your arms, as well as an abs section that I am not nearly ready to attempt). What's that? Oh, yes, I did say I bought a video back then. As in a VHS tape. As in a piece of magnetic media which I played on our Sears VCR. The video was actually pretty good. However, a big disadvantage of its being on tape was that once I finished the warm-up and beginner's section, I had to do a lot of fast-forwarding (and checking to see what point I'd fast-forwarded to, and more fast-forwarding, and checking, and fast-forwarding, and whoops I went too far so now I have to rewind, and check, and...) to get to the cool-down and toning sections of the tape. Then our VCR started acting wonky, eating tapes, getting tapes stuck in it, having the cables that run between it and the TV chewed by a cat so that I now have to fiddle with it for a good 10 minutes pre-workout to get a usable signal to the TV, etc. This all became a big turn-off...whereas once upon a time I would be all, "Step aerobics? Yay!" now my reaction on thinking about doing the video would be more like, "Unnnngggghhh...I don't know if I really want to go through all that hassle today." I knew that I still loved step aerobics, but I didn't love not being able to see the video clearly or of having to fight the VCR so it wouldn't eat my tape as I tried to get to the section I wanted. This is a problem that has kept me from using my step more than once in a blue moon for years (well, that and my reluctance to use it when someone else is in the house). I have discovered the solution, however; my favourite step workout is now available on DVD :D! It's ordered, it's on its way, and it is supposed to be here before a week is up. I'm actually excited! About exercising! Woohoo! Time to stock up on Five Alive (beverage of choice after every grade 11 fitness class)...anyway, I'll let you know how this goes. I actually did the video this past Tuesday (after figuring out I could get the signal to come through well by feeding the cord under the DVD player and weighing the works down with a dumbbell to put just the right amount of tension on the cord...though I still had tape-eating problems to deal with) and enjoyed it, and I'm scheduled to do the tape again today. In fact, my breakfast should be digested enough now that I can go for it. See you later; I've got some sweating to do.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cool cash

I paid cash for some stuff at the store the other day, and the cashier held up each of the bills I gave her to the light. I used to be a cashier and used to have to know all the things you could do to check the authenticity of a bill, but I haven't been a cashier since the new bills came out (yeah, I handle money at my current job, but we don't check for counterfeits at this job...shhh!). Anyway, I just held up a $20 CDN bill to the light, and there is a watermark of the Queen on it. Cool!

Also on a financial note (ha, ha, ha, paper money = bank note, so I was also talking about a "note" above, ha, ha, ha), I just paid off our line of credit! Okay, it is true that it turns out I'm not eligible for OSAP funding for my next year of school (and that this is the first year that, going into the school year, I won't already have my school $ saved up from previous summer jobs) and therefore am going to be creating my own debt very soon, but that will be my debt, whereas this line-of-credit debt has been our debt (and at least I only need to borrow for one year of schooling and have paid my own way through the last seven...well, with a little help from my folks, who paid for my Israel trip and room-and-board during my first year of Bible college). We first took money out of our line of credit on March 21, 2001 to give us some $ to pay for our first car (Martin had a car before we got married, but he sold that before we got married, too)--a car which turned out to be a former taxi (we didn't know that when we bought it) and which, after a certain accident, needed to have many things replaced one after another (including the muffler, engine, brakes and transmission), leading to further withdrawals from our line of credit. The car is not the only thing we made withdrawals from that account for, but it's a good example; the line of credit came to be our emergency fund. Despite making regular payments into it (payments that were always greater than the minimum payment we were required to make), today is the first day after that initial withdrawal that our line of credit has been paid off. It is nice to have one source of debt completely looked after now. Now we can take the $ we were putting into the line of credit every month and put it instead towards paying off hubby's student loans faster, though I'm going to wait until September to implement that and use the $ to help save up for my textbooks for the coming school year in the meantime. As for my school $ for next year, I'm planning on getting that (or what part of it I can't look after through my summer job, anyway) through a withdrawal from hubby's RRSP under the Lifelong Learning Plan that we have here in Canada. Under the LLP, there is no interest to pay--well, you do end up losing what the $ would have earned if you had left it in the RRSP, but there are no fees associated with my having this $ out, anyway. There is also no withholding tax charged (withholding tax is what you normally get charged if you take $ out of your RRSP before the year you turn 65). You do have to pay it back, but the calculation that figures out when you have to start paying back the $ is based on when you were last a full-time student, and according to my current plan (in which this coming school year is my last year of full-time studies and I will be gainfully employed as a full-time teacher starting with the 2007-2008 school year), I don't have to start paying back the $ until 2009. My plan is that when I become gainfully employed after this last year of school, all the $ I earn will go first and foremost towards paying off this debt, so I should have no trouble paying off that debt even before 2009 (even if I don't become a full-time teacher as soon as I finish school and have to flip burgers at minimum wage until I get a teaching job, I should still be able to pay off this debt in less than a year after I hopefully graduate from my B.Ed. program in June 2007)...and the sooner the better so that that $ can go back to earning $ for hubby's retirement. Once I have my school debt paid off, I can help more with saving up the $ to buy out our car when our lease is up as well as saving for a down payment on a house/apartment/whatever of our own. Maybe even some furniture for our house (maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman). Then we can talk about kids and saving for retirement...yeah, there's always somewhere for the $ to go, but now that our line of credit is paid off, I'm feeling a little more like it's going good places and we are back on track. I feel like I should find a little (non-expensive) way to celebrate. Hmm, maybe I will bake something to share with hubby and the in-laws upstairs and my family and small group and...okay, gotta go, the oven's calling :).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Got Muppets?

Here's the original Mahna Mahna skit for ya. I've heard the song before, but this is the first time I've seen the skit that goes with it. I don't get it. But then, there's a lot of stuff from The Muppet Show that I don't get (there is stuff from the show that I love, don't get me wrong...but this skit is not going to become part of that stuff).

Saturday, July 8, 2006

All done :)...or not?

I've got everything I wanted re-installed now, and pretty much everything I didn't want kicking around anymore is gone. It is nice to have a lean, mean, clean-running machine again. I am now back in business as my e-mail, instant messengers, Quicken and even World of Warcraft are back to a usable state.

Mind you, I'm now becoming somewhat more of a geek because when trying to figure out (for example) how to back up my Palm stuff pre-wipe so that I'd be able to keep what information from there I wanted to keep, or (for another example) how to get the tabs in my new Firefox browser to behave with bookmarks the same way I had them behaving with Netscape pre-wipe (yes, I now see Netscape as a yucky browser, but I was a little cheesed when I thought I wouldn't be able to get my bookmarks to work the way I wanted them to in Firefox...problem solved now, though), I was browsing some forums here and there and came across advice on things like how to get a better music player for my Palm or how to configure Firefox with an amazing amount of functionality and customization. Honestly, I don't think I will be doing much in terms of customizing/"souping up" Firefox, but the idea of getting a different music player for my Palm is very tempting as I don't like the way my current one (the Palm version of RealPlayer) organizes music files. Looks like my project to clean up my hard drive, while (pretty much) finished, has led to creating some more work for me, but it shouldn't be too much so that's okay.

I've also finalized my decision to take down my old web site. That site was really more or less created as a cry for a kind of attention that I no longer feel the need for. Also, while it was nice to get the odd e-mail from other researchers (and "lay people" interested in the subjects of my research) in response to stuff that I posted on the "My chemistry research" part of my site, it turns out that I'm really not that interested in answering a lot of questions about that research because answering such questions is a lot of work (and requires a kind of thinking that I'm not up for right now). I will still likely put up the odd web site for particular occasions (for example, I will likely continue the tradition I've had the last few years of sending an e-mail out around Christmastime to family and very close friends containing a link to a web page on which I outline my wish list), but lately my reaction to the fact that I have my very own Google-able website has turned from being one of "Cool, my site pops up on Google!" to one of "Oh, great, someone is e-mailing me about my paper on triclosan [a controversial anti-bacterial agent that my paper more or less says should be avoided] again...I really don't have the energy to join them in their fight against triclosan [or explain to them that I was just a third-year undergraduate when I wrote that and that they should probably look at the sources I cite rather than my paper for reliable information--though I could be wrong on that score; maybe I don't give myself enough credit :P], so I'm just going to ignore this e-mail for now and maybe I'll get back to them about it later [yes, later...]." So, for now, the website is coming down...though I will consider publishing that paper in a student science journal as my professor suggested, if only to give the masses a copy of it to use in their continuing fight...just as long as that's the last bit of input I have to give on the subject for the time being. I do want to save the environment, I really do; I just don't want to have to be the science geek who does all the hard research on it at the moment. Man, that feels like a big cop-out, especially when I really did enjoy the air quality research I did the past three summers. I guess this is one area where I don't really want to be the leader, though I would gladly stand behind (and/or work for) the geek who is willing to be that leader (and tell me what to do to get the data to support them so I don't have to figure it out for myself).

Well, don't I feel pathetic now :P. Pardon me while I either go contemplate this new revelation of this aspect of myself to myself or go keep myself busy with other things so I don't have to think about that for a while. Perhaps I need to rethink this or maybe I just need to come to an acceptance of it, I don't know, but it coming to mind at a time in my life when I am thinking "what's my calling of the now"-type thoughts means that I don't really want to just brush it off quite yet.

What, you thought a post starting off with my continued report on my wiping of my hard drive couldn't be deep ;)?

Phase 2 complete

More successes to report:
  • hubby and I (as in he looked after this until I got home from work last night) ran Windows Update last night as much as it took to get my copy of Windows fully up-to-date and protected with all the latest security patches; all seems to be well on that front now
  • my video card and sound card are working well with their new drivers (hubby installed the video card; I sort of installed the sound card, but Windows Update actually did it for me)
  • I have re-installed Norton Antivirus and it has recognized that I already had a subscription to the updates service, so I didn't have to pay anything
  • I have re-installed Firefox and it is working well (though soon I will have to go through the advice some people left me on the MozillaZine forum to figure out how to configure a particular aspect of it--to do with bookmarks and tabbed browsing--the way I want it...hooray for open source software that can be freely "tweaked" like this :)!); I have also gone through all the bookmarks files I had found on my computer pre-wipe (and saved to go through), deleted duplicate entries between those files and re-bookmarked the very essentials; I will decide later what non-essentials will earn the right to be placed back in my new bookmarks file.
  • I have reinstalled both my spam blocker and Mozilla Thunderbird and they are working with each other just fine; it looks like I managed to keep pretty much all my e-mails and settings for both from their pre-wipe stages, and I've also implemented a new way to organize my e-mails (and I think I am liking it so far).
I still have to reinstall my instant messengers, all my Palm software, Quicken (and make sure I managed to keep all my profiles/files/settings/etc. for all of the above), and Microsoft Office (besides some little fiddly things like my printer drivers and my spyware remover), and I'll also need to update World of Warcraft to the most current version (and install Ventrilo so I can talk to my WoW guildmates with my headset). Phew...okay, back to it!

Friday, July 7, 2006

Phase 1 complete

My husband called me earlier today to report the following successes:
  • my hard drive has been successfully formatted
  • Windows has been successfully reinstalled on my computer
  • my backup information has been successfully put back on my backup partition (which he had copied to his backup partition when it became evident that my backup partition was also going to need to be wiped as part of the overall wipe of my hard drive)
  • my computer can connect to the Internet

This means that when I get home (yes, I am at work right now, but this is one of those periods at work where I am waiting for someone to give me a game sheet to enter the stats from or something else to do and am allowed to entertain myself in the meantime), I will be able to download and reinstall all my programs and check to see if I'll be able to re-integrate my backed-up settings/e-mails/etc. with the new installation of all my programs. That's the really nerve-wracking part. I mean, anyone can wipe their hard drive clean, reinstall Windows and start fresh. The question is: did I lose just the information that I wanted to (all my unused files/programs/etc. that led to me wanting to do a wipe in the first place), or will I find myself banging my head on my desk with a big "NOOOOOO!"?

I'll let you know which of those two options turns out to be reality in a day or two :).

Today's the day

Today it will happen. I will finish backing up the little bits of things I have yet to back up (and I know where they are and I have a plan for the backing up of those things) and then I will get my husband to wipe my hard drive, take two of my three partitions and make them into one, reinstall Windows, and get the Internet working on my computer again. Then will begin the process of reinstalling the programs that I do use and getting my settings/e-mails/etc. back from the backup drive and onto my computer and reintegrated with the appropriate programs. I am excited but I am scared. I am also working tonight starting at 4 p.m. (which means leaving the house by 2 p.m. in my current public transit state) so I won't be around to see much of the stuff that I'm going to ask my husband to do for me. This is also kind of scary (not that I don't trust him; it's just kind of like leaving your sick child in the hands of someone else while you have to be elsewhere for a while) but really there's nothing I could do to help him in the event that something bad happened anyway. I don't have those kinds of computer smarts; he does. Bye for now, everyone...hopefully I will be reporting a successful reinstallation of everything by the end of tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Taking a deep breath and diving into gigabytes of dustbunnies.

I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna take the plunge.

I'm going to wipe my hard drive.

Every so often I notice that my computer is not the lean, mean computing machine it used to be. I usually notice this when I am playing World of Warcraft (which, by the way, I have been away from for days now--though I do intend to go back--so I can't be a totally lost case kind of addict ;)) when my character suddenly pauses about every 5 minutes or so in the middle of running around and simply freezes on my screen, leaving me to wonder what monsters are tearing me apart during this lag spike where I cannot control my character nor see what is happening to her and am thus totally helpless ("Monsters don't kill people...lag does"). This is part of what has spurred my latest "well, I guess it's time for a wipe" decision. I want my computer to be faster again.

The other thing that has spurred my decision is that I have a lot of stuff (files and programs alike) on my computer that I really don't need anymore. This does contribute to the lack-of-fastness (otherwise known as slowness, I guess) mentioned above, but it also leaves me scratching my head and thinking, "Well, yeah, I did want to respond to that posting that Jehovah's Witness guy put on the religion area of ScriBE back in high school, but I never got around to it, I no longer have access to ScriBE, and that was ten years ago I really need to keep his original message on my hard drive?" I am also now completely finished my undergraduate degree, so keeping copies of old assignments from high school, Bible college and even my B.Sc. on my hard drive seems a little unnecessary. I have actually gone back and looked at some of these old files at times, so I will be burning myself an archival CD rather than getting rid of the files completely...but when it comes to the hard drive, it's time for a wipe. It's time for my computer to get ready for teacher's college with a metaphorical clearing off of the desk. It's time for my computer to be clean again.

The next paragraph is for the uber geeks out there. The rest of you can feel free to skip it.

This time around, I'm not just doing a wipe...I'm also becoming a switcher! No, no, no, I am not switching to a Mac from a PC or anything else that drastic. However, after having been a loyal Netscape user for years and years, I am jumping ship. No, no, no, I am not becoming a regular Internet Explorer and Outlook/Outlook Express user...I am not so foolish as that. I am instead switching from Netscape Browser to Mozilla Firefox, and I am switching from Netscape Composer to Nvu. In other words, I am supporting open-source software. My decision on this has come about mainly because I am unhappy with the way I have had to operate since Netscape moved away from having a complete suite of programs (known as Composer) and decided to only continue producing a browser. I understand their reasoning in a way; Netscape looked around, saw that even Mozilla had moved away from the "package deal," and decided to do what everyone else was doing, which was producing only stand-alone products. However, when they went from Netscape Communicator 7.2 to Netscape Browser 8.0, I was suddenly without a mail client. Thank goodness someone on the Netscape communities forum mentioned Mozilla Thunderbird (which I immediately switched to, found to be exactly the same as my old Netscape Mail client but without the Netscape branding, and loved). When Netscape went from Netscape Communicator 7.2 to Netscape Browser 8.0, I was also suddenly without a WYSIWYG web page creator that I liked. I do know a fair bit about HTML (or at least "old school" HTML) and can produce a web page using source code if I really have to, but it's so much easier to use a WYSIWYG program for the bulk of the work and then just go in and "tweak" the code the way I want it (and the reason I liked Netscape Composer was that it had tabs you could use to switch quickly between the HTML code and the WYSIWYG versions of editing your webpage). So I ended up keeping multiple versions of Netscape on my computer: Netscape Browser 8.0, the entire Netscape Communicator 7.2 package (because I didn't know if Composer would run outside the package), and both entire packages of Netscape Communicator 7.1 and 7.0 (I think...the install/uninstall thingy in Windows' Control Panel wouldn't let me get rid of them even though they continued to be listed on the uninstall list, but it is possible those packages got overwritten when I upgraded to 7.2). That is a lot of extra weight to keep on my hard drive simply for the sake of having a WYSIWYG editor that I like. Someone on the Netscape communities forum mentioned Nvu back when I "upgraded" to Netscape Browser 8.0, but when I downloaded it and tried it back then, I didn't like it. I just downloaded and tried it again, though, and I don't see anything I can't do with it that I can do with Composer (either the one thing that I think bugged me about Nvu has been resolved with an add-on package or I never saw/tried that add-on package the last time I tried Nvu), so there is now no reason for me to keep Netscape Communicator 7.2/7.1/7.0 on my computer. I'm making the switch. Furthermore, Netscape Browser sometimes gives me problems with little fiddly things here and there; I always thought that this was because its being mostly based on Firefox technology was making it disagree with certain web pages (despite the fact that changing Netscape into Internet-Explorer-emulating mode didn't help some of my problems and that even using the actual Internet Explorer program didn't help some of my problems on my computer but did fix the problem if I went to my husband's computer, which doesn't have any Netscape products installed on it), but I just found out today that Mozilla Firefox doesn't give me those same problems. Okay, so it's not Firefox that's the inferior product--it's Netscape! Partly because of this, and partly because I have always wanted to make a switch (that wasn't to Internet Explorer) ever since Netscape Browser 8.0 came out (I was a little cheesed by the dropping of the Communicator suite, can't ya tell :)?), I am making the switch away from Netscape and towards open-source (mostly Mozilla, but Nvu isn't made by Mozilla) products. Thank you, Netscape, for cheesing me off sufficiently that I was driven to find better products, which I will now enjoy greatly (new toys? hooray!).

Alright, that's enough blogging for now...I have backing up of files and burning of CDs to do to prepare for the wipe. Hopefully this time I can avoid wiping the hard drive only to fill it back up with the same old junk again.

If you don't hear from me for a while, just assume the wipe went very, very wrong ;). Wish me luck!

Good news at work...and a little rant about "knitting"

Well, there aren't going to be any more day shifts at the Ice Gardens for a while. At least probably not until August, unless we get new owners in the meantime (which could apparently happen pretty much any day now) and they decide we need to be there in the daytime. Anyway, this does cut back on the number of shifts available to give the six of us who work the desk. My boss called me up to her office today to explain the situation to me. She's decided to split the shifts that are available in the remainder of July between only three people. Guess what? I am one of those three people! This is also the first day my boss has been back at work after having been away for about three weeks, and apparently she has heard good things about me, so that's encouraging. She did also hear about my "knitting" on the job, but like I've said before, everyone understands that the day shifts are pretty much empty of something to do (and that the evening shifts can be very quiet at times, too, though not for the whole shift or there would be no need to have a Guest Services department at all), so that didn't seem to bother her at all (it only came up because when I was up in the office, one of the guys there jokingly basically told her I'd been a horrible employee during her absence...and asked me if I'd finished making him his scarf yet). So...they like me, they really like me! My boss also made me one of the three people who will be getting shifts because 1.) I am one of the people who have given her the most availability, and 2.) of the six people who work our desk, only two of us don't have another job, and that includes me; she feels less bad about cutting the hours of the people who have another source of income and worse about cutting the hours of the two of us who are relying on the Ice Gardens for our school $/etc. In any case, I am feeling encouraged by this turn of events...even if it does mean I'll only have evening shifts again for a while. Oh, and the three of us who will be on the schedule will pretty much have nights that are "our" nights, so I'll be having a more regular and predictable schedule for a while, hooray! So far the plan is that my nights will be Monday, Thursday and Friday, but I'll have to see what the official word is when I get the new schedule. I have to say I will miss the day shifts, since they had come with the ability to get paid for doing pretty much anything I wanted to do (so long as I could do it at the Guest Services desk) due to lack of business, but I do think it is better to get paid for an honest day's work after all. I'll just have to do my crocheting elsewhere.

Speaking of crocheting...I have to say that since I started working on my afghan again and doing it at the Ice Gardens, I have been amazed at how many people do not know what crochet is...or even what an afghan is (where "afghan" is not a reference to an Afghani or anything/one else from Afghanistan)! Pretty much everyone who has seen me working on this project has asked me, "What are you knitting?" [emphasis mine, of course]. I think there were only two exceptions and they were both female (and I think both were attending the real estate college that runs some classes out of rooms they rent from the restaurant upstairs). Okay, people, for clarification: knitting uses (at least) two straight pointy needles (though sometimes they are joined by a cable, granted); if you see only one needle being used and it has a hook on the end, you are looking at someone who is doing crochet. Also, an afghan is a small kind of blanket...this one will not really be big enough to call an actual blanket, but it will be fine to put over one while one is watching TV or even napping. Yes, the piece you see me working on at the moment may only be a few inches wide, but there are seven strips in the afghan I am making...and the one I'm working on now is strip number five. If I do two rows a day (which I'm doing pretty good at so far), I'll be done by the end of the first week in August, and maybe even sooner. It is true that I have been working on this afghan on and off for the last ten years, but I am almost done and this is the most consistently I've ever worked on it since the first time I put it aside, so I think I really am going to finally finish it this summer, hooray! Besides, with four-and-a-half strips out of seven already done, it is too late to call it quits and toss it out.

Well, that's it from me for now. Good night, everyone (as she studiously avoids looking at the time since she knew she got home from work when it was technically morning)...

Oh, by the way, I know I haven't added categories to my more recent entries yet. I'll do that, um, later...yes, later.

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Happy Canada Day!

So it's Canada Day today. I had intended to celebrate the day by going to a fun "share your culture" event our church is putting on, including food and music and games from various countries that people from our church are from. That didn't happen, though; I have decided to do my next road test in Aurora, and my dad decided today would be a good day for us to drive out there and see what driving in Aurora is like (see, many years ago I tried to do a road test in Oshawa, but Oshawa is so different from Scarborough that I got very, very nervous when we went out to explore the roads there on the same day as my road test, and that nervousness is likely what made me fail that road test on the way out of the examination centre's parking lot and led to me giving up on driving for many years). Well, we headed out for Aurora at about 10:45 a.m., stopped for a Harvey's lunch at about 12:30 p.m. or so after doing some driving around Aurora, then headed back to Scarborough and got back here at about 1:40 p.m....not too long before the cultural event was scheduled to start, and I wasn't in a going-out mood anymore...I'd had my going-out for the day. Anyway, I still feel like we celebrated Canada Day because we got to see parts of the country that we don't normally see, even if they are practically in our backyard...and they are really nice parts, full of lots of trees and other greenery...and lots of roads on which I am allowed to go 80 km/h (the fastest I can go with my G1 license), woohoo! (Oh, by the way, Emma, I woulda stopped to see ya but I didn't think my dad would be keen on it. When I get my license, though, I still fully intend to come see ya sometimes! I can also see why you moved out there; it is sooo nice in Aurora.) Okay, yes, I do still intend to walk places rather than drive where that is practical, but it is not practical when it comes to going to Aurora, so I will enjoy the fast roads when I can get 'em :).

Something else I did today: I got a new bed! Well, not really. Martin and I have noticed that our boxspring keeps slipping through the bedframe lately, so we decided to fix that, but since we were going to be moving the mattress and boxspring to do this I decided we might as well go ahead and try the idea I've had for a while of converting our bed from a canopy bed to something a little more, um, canopy-less. The canopy bed I bought us ages ago has turned out to be cheap as the side rails have developed a noticeable bow, though that could possibly be due to our having turned the screws too tight when we put it together or our accidentally sitting/stepping on the curtains sometimes (which pulls on that rail) rather than the bed being cheap, too. Still, next time I decide to try a canopy bed I will look for side rails that are all one piece rather than two that fit together (if those even exist). Anyways. The curtains turned out to be not as romantic an idea as I'd dreamed years ago that they would be (or maybe my choice of navy blue curtains to go with our sheets/comforters/etc. was a bad idea, who knows) and they kept getting in the way of our feet/vacumn cleaner/etc. (yeah, I thought of shortening them, but I'm too lazy to do that or even take them to an alterationist, and that wouldn't fix the problem of them not being as romantic as I'd imagined, either), so down they came. This bed came with these globe-shaped decorations that were supposed to go at the tops of the posts, but we couldn't get them on in the canopy setup as our ceiling is too low; now that we've taken down the half-posts that you use to make the bed into a canopy bed, though, the globes fit on the headboard and footboard that we left attached to the bedframe, and the bed looks really nice. I think it may even feel more grown-up. The bedroom certainly feels bigger now that you can see from wall to wall in both directions, and it is brighter, too, now that the pot lights on each side of the bed are no longer kept by the curtains from reaching the other side of the room. Maybe I will take a picture and post it, if I ever get my digicam back from Jen. Anyway, I'm happy, and I did a thorough vacumning in there (I even did under where the bed normally is while the mattress and boxspring were flipped up), so that has made my day. Go us (as in me and Martin, who fixed our mattress-slipping-through-the-bedframe problem and helped me with everything else)! I still have some clutter in there to work on, but that is the story with the rest of the house, too (especially the living room, which is the room I want to work on having less of a dorm room/rec room feel the most) steps...I'll get there eventually, bit by bit.