Thursday, December 30, 2004

Where's Gail??

I've been too busy to write about my activities of late, but I've finally uploaded the photos to Flickr. I'll have to send them to blogger and write the posts later, but you can preview them here:

photos on Flickr

Christmas with the kidlets
Christmas pageant
Boxing Day at Science World
Stella the Gambian Pouched Rat
Stanley Park
Vancouver Aquarium
Tripp House (site for Pennsylvania wedding and reception)
Aberthau House (site for Vancouver reception)
Museum of Anthropology
Octopus' Garden

Friday, December 24, 2004

Experiments in Black and White

Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Here comes Megan
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Why is this baby laughing?
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

These babies have chompers... you only see one on the bottom in both their mouths, but you can feel more if you are foolish enough to put your hand in to check. Watch out, they bite!!

Look we can stand up!

Look we can stand up!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.
The twins will be 11 months old on January 2, and it's feasible they'll be freely vertical and wobbling by the time they turn 1.

Eternal Youth: Auntie Fely's 75th Birthday

Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
We celebrated my Auntie Fely's birthday a year late... her 75th was actually last year, but a documentation error made her officially 74 then. She looks marvellous for her age -- great skin, spry, always a ready smile. If we could bottle her youthfulness and sell it, we'd be rich!!

More photos here: You're only 75... errr... twice!!

Monday, December 20, 2004


The weirdo
Originally uploaded by Shoosh.
Had to post this, it begged to be posted...

All Aboard the North Pole Express

A lap full of babies
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

who is this guy in red??
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

keeping Santa company
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Took the kidlets and Cheryl on the Bear Creek Park miniature Christmas train today. It was the twins' first train experience, while the other kids have all been on this train as well as the Stanley Park Christmas train a number of times. Stanley Park is still my favourite, but this one's closer.

More photos here:

North Pole Express

Filipino Christmas party

Gumpa and Maribeth
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Went to my dad's church for the first time on Saturday night, to attend their Christmas party. I haven't been to a Filipino function for YEARS, but it was -- I'm happy to report -- a typical Filipino event filled with food, loud people, singing, lots of kids, and utter chaos.

More photos here:

Filipino Christmas Party

Company Christmas party

Our company Christmas party was on Friday, at Chez Philippe (Bonniebrook Lodge) on the Sunshine Coast. Revelry was had by all, fueled by copious amounts of alcohol (except me... I had a total of one glass of white, I think -- crazy, huh?).

More photos here:

ERA Christmas party

Thursday, December 16, 2004

parlez-vous francais?

Check this out, courtesy of my friend Berit in Hamburg, Germany:

Boujour Paris Ecole (.wmv format, 910kb)

(Sorry about the sorry-looking gif here -- ooh, nearly said git, there. The post was looking rather empty without one, but I couldn't be arsed to root around for one I well and truly liked.)

Kids in Coats

New coats
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Last coat photo
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

On Sunday, I bought coats for the five kidlets on sale at the Old Navy in Scranton. Last night I dropped them off to see if they fit, because if they didn't, I was going to have David go back to Old Navy for the proper size before they sold out.

Turns out we picked up a wrong size by mistake, so Maddy's has to go back. But otherwise the rest of the kids all fit their coats, even the twins, who are different sizes (Megan is the bigger eater and sleeper of the two).

We tried to get Michael a red coat, too, but there weren't any in his size. Now, when they go out, if any of the girls run off, it will be a lot easier to identify her to other people:

"Have you seen a little girl wearing a red coat like this??" (pointing to the others)
"She's one of a set of four!"

(In all likelihood, the escapee would be Maddy.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I also had David send me a pic of his Star Trekkish but very mod "Funky Cold Menorah"... Posted by Hello

In case you're ever in the market for upgrading your aircraft, ASO (Aircraft Shopper Online) posted a deal for Christmas. Posted by Hello

The Twins Recognise Me!

I didn't bring my camera with me this time, but Allan took some photos, so maybe he'll post them in Flickr and I can put them here.

I went to visit the kidlets this evening, and to make sure the coats I bought for them in Pennsylvania fit before David flies out next Friday (and they run out of sizes). Cheryl and the twins are getting over a stomach bug (*if you're reading, Socar, skip to next paragraph*) which involved projectile vomiting on Sunday, so I'd been warned. But, I hadn't seen the kidlets for such a long time that a risk of gastrointestinal virus wasn't quite enough to keep me away.

The older three met me at the door, bouncing and yelling "Attie Gail!" after they heard me knocking... very cute. Michael (4) had an incredible growth spurt that made his feet suddenly too big for all his shoes within a week, and he's now much taller than Melissa (5). Maddy (3), meanwhile, had a vocabulary explosion and is structuring her sentences. With Maddy's new grammar it's much easier to understand her now and she talks a LOT. Before, it was more non-verbal noise, mumbling, and baby-talk.

The first twin to wake up was Megan, who I was warned was clingier with Cheryl lately and not even going to people she saw a week before. She kept staring at me, but then her little face broke into a smile that reminded me a lot of Melissa at that age, and I was glad to see she remembered me, even after nearly two months (since Maddy's birthday in October). When you've only been around for 10.5 months, two months is a very long time, indeed.

Megan really looks like Melissa -- right down to her glare. I think it's the eyebrows -- they furrow the same way when they look perturbed. Maribeth has a look all her own, even though the twins are supposed to be identical. Maribeth, as far as I can tell, doesn't have a glare. She gets upset, but doesn't seem to hold it against you!

I get to see the older three sing on Saturday in a children's choir -- I'll definitely bring my camera then.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Musings on CX889, JFK-YVR

Flying over the Rocky Mountains, I'm writing this in the fourth hour of a six-hour flight, so that's my excuse.

So here we are again, my fourth trip on CX889 from New York to Vancouver, but I've managed to spot new things on my walkabout. Making my way to the back of the plane, amidst the aisles of stocking feet sticking out, I noticed that the last five rows of the middle section narrow to three seats from four-wide. Is that so the carts can go up the aisle without trapping people who are waiting to use the toilets at the back?? I don't recall seeing this on any of the other wide-body aircraft -- that's five less paying passengers, after all. I usually avoid the trolley times, but often see people get pinned up against the bulkhead to wait for the meal/drinks service to be over, or try to delicately manoeuvre their way over bodies to the next aisle to get ahead of the trolley on the other side.

The flight is about two-thirds full, so people are spreading out to catch some shut-eye on this 6-hour journey. Most of them are probably on their way to Hong Kong, so there's another 9 or so hours of flying after Vancouver. People are tired, so under these circumstances I pose my next question:

Why is it whenever I use the toilet, the lid is up?? (It sounds like I'm fixated on toilets, but really, on a plane, this is a rather important device, in quantity and condition.)

OK, this is the thing: if the toilet lid is up, chances are, the last person who used it flushed it with the lid up. Ewwww!!!!! Don't, people!!! Put the lid down!!! First of all, people should do that, anyway, even at home. There's always a bit of splash, and especially those toilets made for the public that use enough water and force to run a dishwasher. Sure, airplane toilets use incredible suction and relatively little fluid, but still -- think of a higher concentration of bacteria beneath you, hurtling at high speed.

Some random thoughts and observations since New York:

I haven't had an interesting seatmate since the explosives expert on the way back from London in May.

I think I may have watched my first episode of "CSI", but I don't know for sure because I've never seen the show. I recognize some of the actors but have never seen a commercial for it, and I didn't watch the very beginning, and it didn't even identify the show in the closing credits. I thought it was an OK plot, but here's another random thought I had a very long time ago regarding the proliferation of criminal investigation shows: if you were an alien from outer space who landed on earth and immediately plunked yourself down in front of prime time TV, you would be very, very scared at how many people were getting murdered in the United States. It is a miracle the entire population isn't killed off yet.

Channel-surfing around the programs on my personal monitor, I think I may also have watched my first few frames of this show I'd heard of: "Scrubs" -- it looks like an irreverent ER. (I've never seen ER, but it's been on so long its existence is not lost on me.) The only reason I concluded it was "Scrubs" was because Sarah Chalke is on it. She's from Vancouver -- I saw her years ago when I attended a Canadian entertainment awards show at the Sinclair Centre, right around the end of her stint as the replacement blonde daughter on the Roseanne show. (Yeah, that's how long ago that was, I think it was 1999.)

I watched most of an episode of "60 Minutes". Is it just me, but do some of those old geezers like Andy Rooney look like they're going to live out their last days in the studio? Is that written into their contracts: "I'm not leaving the show unless it's in a coffin!"

Random, see?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Christmas decorations

If I had a dollar for every over-the-top Christmas house/lawn makeover I've seen for the past month, I'd be RICH!

I'd commented on this over at Karl's blog, too...

If there was a discreet way for me to take photos of people's houses all kitted out for Christmas, I would do it. Instead, I've just been a gawker. But yesterday I couldn't resist snapping this one house in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Crikey! (The photo would so much better at night, but I don't want to look like I'm staking out the house...)

Get 'Em While They're Hot!!

(er, not hot, per se, but available for a low price... anyway, read on, will ya?)

My friend Steve Savage is off to Russia in two weeks, and is desperately trying to raise some funds by selling off his remaining stock of his recently published book. In a bit of an experiment, he has listed a couple of copies of "Everywhere but Missouri, mate!" on eBay. To find them, just log onto eBay, and search for the book by title, or just with the words 'Missouri' and 'mate'. It's your chance to pick up a last minute Christmas present for as little as ten bucks. If the books start attracting a few bids, he will list more copies so if you're outbid on one, you stand a chance on the next one.

I hosted Stephen Savage when he began his most recent 'round-the-world tour in July 2003, and despite his crass Aussie humour* is an incredibly likeable bloke with an amazing work ethic and a gift for storytelling... tall tales**... For more about the book, Steve himself, or his remarkable journeys, check out his Book Preview Page:

Everything but Missouri, Mate! - The Savage Files Book

I bought a stack of copies meself, so if you're a friend of mine, this is probably what's under your tree, from me.

*Steve, are you reading this?
**Steve, are you still reading? Send me some horchata and I'll lay off the jabs! :)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Engagement Announcement

engagement announcement
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
While I was at the Cherry Ridge Airport cafe on Sunday, I picked up the Scranton Times -- a local rag -- to see that we've made the section for wedding and engagement announcements.

What was interesting about the page was that the wedding announcements were OLD... some of them dated back to JULY! So, really, we should just Photoshop ourselves into some wedding clothes in a scenic spot now if we want the wedding announcement to show up before the end of 2005.

Argh! I just noticed a typo -- they spelled Simon Fraser University wrong!

A Day for the Windmills

Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
On Sunday morning we went flying, and it was gusty! I would've filmed our crazy-bumpy landing, except it was rather precarious and I thought shoving a camera near the windscreen was probably a bad idea at the time...

High up at 8500 ft, it wasn't so windy. The air was thinner, and my head felt weird -- not like a passing-out feeling, but I couldn't stop yawning.

(Some years ago, someone told me that scientific research debunks the notion of yawning because of lack of oxygen. Even though he was a Biology major, I still find that hard to believe. I think it's too much of a coincidence that people yawn when they're tired. If it's not to bring oxygen to the brain, why do we do it?)

Anyway, I kept yawning and David asked how I was doing. He says he checks to see if his fingernails turn blue. I was OK in that department, but I had a bad case of the yawns, and my eyes kept tearing up. We've been up at 8500 ft before, but I think the temperature has dropped since the last high flight a month ago, and because it's colder the air is drier. The outside temperature was -10C!! Thankfully the heater works well inside the plane -- it comes directly in from the engine.

shadow (it's called glory)
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

high in the clouds
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Even though it was a gusty day, we found some clouds to play around with, and once again I was able to get some shots of our shadow projected on the denser ones.

Cherry Ridge Airport
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Where David houses his plane. Nothing like JFK, but they're friendly here and there's no Passport Control.

Tobyhanna Army Depot
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
This is where the Civil Air Patrol meetings are held. The first time, they told me "no foreign nationals", but since then they've just let me in without delay.

Recently, the analysts I work with wrote about a new development for tagging inventory electronically, which Wal-Mart intends to employ, and will no doubt affect other large consumer goods stores with warehouses. The tagging will go on the box, not its contents, so it wouldn't require any sorting of inventory, thus making storage more space- and time-efficient. That development is not fully appreciated until you see the scale of storage that chains like Wal-Mart require. Flying over one of these distribution centres, I was still amazed by the sheer size of it; it's the size of an airport!!

(I am really NOT a Wal-Mart person. It has to be a last resort before I'll shop at one. I realise there are people who don't have the money to shop anywhere else, but I'm not a fan of giant distribution centres. For one thing, have a look at the trucks parked here. These trucks clog up the roads and the highways -- why aren't we using railroads for this? Our predecessors toiled at building railroads, and those railroads are now replaced by highway pollution. If people with low incomes are economically forced to shop at Wal-Mart, how is it economically favourable to them to have to own a car to get to Wal-Mart in the first place? And then, they have to buy a ton of stuff to make the trip worthwhile?)

Hugh and the Humidifier

cat vs. humidifier face-off
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Hugh meets the humidifier
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

David bought a humidifier on Sunday, because I've been REALLY DEHYDRATED. It's considerably drier here than in Vancouver, and I'm forever electrocuting myself on car doors and in the house. I'm constantly drinking, and carrying around a bottle of moisturiser because my skin feels like it's going to flake off at any moment. One wrong move, and my epidermis will be lying on the floor like a snakeskin.

The humidifier is LOUD, though, and it took a while for Hugh to get used to it. To a cat's ears, it's probably the equivalent of a 747 taxiing down the runway.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Gingerbread at the Stroudsmoor Inn

gingerbread Stroudsmoor Inn
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

gingerbread ski slope
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Forgot to mention the gingerbread at the Stroudsmoor Inn on Saturday. Someone had constructed a miniature gingerbread version of the Inn, but with some additional features such as a train station -- with departures and arrivals to/from NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia -- and a ski slope (with an emergency rescue). With all the mini-lights, it looks rather enchanting.

gingerbread train station
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

gingerbread football game
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Away from the lobby is another gingerbread display with creations by the local school and presumably other people of Stroudsburg.

More gingerbread photos: Just when you thought you couldn't have enough gingerbread...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Lawnhaven at Stroudsmoor Inn

Lawnhaven at Stroudsmoor Inn
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Jewish cemetery
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
We had a look at prospective wedding venues today, and this one was rather promising.

Stroudsmoor Country Inn

Check out the virtual tour of Lawnhaven: Lawnhaven

Stroudsburg is actually closer to New York than Scranton, and this place has the advantage of a full range of facilities so people have the option of staying there during that weekend if they want.

Our original plan is still to find a heritage house with character, but there are other practical considerations, like parking, space, facilities for catering, etc. We stopped at the Everhart Museum in town, which is directly across the street from where David's grandparents used to live, but they stopped hosting wedding functions a year ago. Then we drove around town, looking at some mansions that could be rented out.

From there we drove to the countryside inns, stopping first at the Jewish cemetary in Dalton, where David's grandparents were buried. I took some photos there, but not many as we were losing light and the temperature dropped to shivering level.

(Left: I'm told that the tradition is to leave a stone on the gravestone whenever someone visits. This is a photo of a random gravestone, by the way.)

The first countryside inn we checked out was horrible, we both agreed. We'd gatecrashed the wedding of a young couple who looked barely old enough to drive, and couldn't get out of there fast enough... the facilities were definitely NOT up to par, and if there's anything that will make you spend more money without flinching, it's to see what cheaping out WILL buy you...

Friday, December 03, 2004

I Miss the Kidlets

This week the twins turn 10 months old:

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Teething Twins
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Maribeth and Megan

Soon, I'll have been away from the kidlets longer than any other time since Melissa was born in July of '99. I saw each of the kids within hours of their birth, and generally saw them at least once a week, except when I went on holiday. Other than that, I see them often enough that when I come in the door, I have a chorus of "ATTIE GAIL!!" when I cross the threshold.

I miss that, I really do.

start 'em young
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
For anyone who reads this online journal, you'll notice there's a real dearth of photos of the nieces and nephew at the moment. For that, I've been visiting Allan and Cheryl's blogspot and Flickr albums on a regular basis, and replaying the videoclips they send to me by gmail.

Allan & Cheryl and the M's - Life with Melissa, Michael, Madeleine, Megan, and Maribeth
Allan & Cheryl's photos on Flickr
Melissa, Michael, and Maddy have their own Flickr album
(they even take their own photos!)
Here are some videoclips. Very, very cute ones:

Michael and Melissa, singing about the environment (love the little hug at the end) - M1-2recycle.avi, 4MBs
Maribeth crawling, at 9 months - mvi_8269.avi, 8.5MBs
Maribeth crawling, with Megan in her exersaucer - mvi_8271.avi, 10MBs

Thursday, December 02, 2004

American Thanksgiving

This post has been sitting in draft mode for a whole week, so I thought I'd better finish it and release the hounds, as it were!!

I've been in the U.S. during American Thanksgiving before, but never to celebrate.

1991 - Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia. I flew late in the evening, after a dinner with my L.A. friends. I was on a United flight with a planeful of Hasidic Jews on their way to a conference in Melbourne. I remember the flight attendants giving us chocolate turkeys and the pilot wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving.

2000 - upstate New York, with my relatives. I will never, ever forget this trip. I got dragged -- er, driven -- by my cousin to an outlet mall near West Point, and it took us more than two hours to get out of the mall parking lot. They had to call in the state troopers to direct traffic and prevent road rage. I've never been stuck in traffic like that before, or since!

Since Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, there's a certain amount of deja-vu when American Thanksgiving rolls around, but I have to vouch for David's cooking skills: I've never had turkey this good before! I was so impressed! He pitched me this recipe for maple brine turkey -- which sounds rather vile, actually, but the bird marinates in the concoction and keeps moist. Turkey is one of those foods that I could never get excited over, but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and in this case, it tasted more like a giant roast chicken! Fancy that!

OK, about this teepee in the photo -- David says he has one ornament per occasion. He's Jewish, so doesn't celebrate Christmas, and he's got this very mod "Star Trekkie" ELECTRIC menorah that he calls his "Funky Cold Menorah" -- harhar... (it really is so much more amusing when he says it; photo forthcoming!)

For Thanksgiving, David brings out this teepee, complete with papoose, which I thought was hilarious when I turned it over and saw his name. "I was 6 years old!" he says. (Wow, that papoose is looking pretty good for being nearly the same age as me!) But why would you write your name on it? In case it got mixed up with all the other papooses at Show and Tell?

Krispy Kreme

OK, this is disturbing:

This guy created an image gallery dedicated to the opening of British Columbia's first Krispy Kreme store, in Delta (south of Vancouver) in February. He's even taken photos of the construction in progress!

One of life's great passions!!

Please note that I have no connection with Krispy Kreme ... just a life-long fan who loves ... fresh ... hot doughnuts from them ... I feel faint .... DOUGHNUTS !!! DOUGHNUTS !!!

Somebody get this man a doughnut before he passes out!

Personally, I don't get the hype. I've been hearing about Krispy Kremes for years and how much people go bonkers over it, so last night I popped my Krispy Kreme cherry and tried one for the first time, since David had a coupon for a dozen of them. We got home, and I paused from drinking my latte to take a bite. I swear, my blood sugar level spiked at that very moment -- IT WAS SO SWEET!!! I couldn't believe how sweet it was; I took a swig of my coffee and was thankful I gave up sugar ages ago. Oy!!! How can people handle this stuff??? If I were back in BC, I'd stick to good old Tim Horton's -- less hype, less sugar. (OK, maybe the same sugar, but not as sickly sweet.)

my first sepia self-portrait

my first sepia self-portrait
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Click on the photo to see what Ben had to say about it...

I think it looks more serious when it's small. Enlarged, there is a hint of a smile...