Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Got a Car

On Tuesday, we tried to buy a car again. This time, we decided to offer $2000 up front just in case Toyota Credit bites. If not, then we would pay the likely $5000 with credit and debit combined. So we went in and did the usual test drive and filling in of info. They still had the 2008 Corolla with the same color as the one we tried out before. The finance manager who handled us before wasn't in though so they said they'd call us the next day. No problem though, we didn't expect to bring it home right there and then.

So Wednesday went by and we didn't receive a call. Thursday afternoon, and still no call. I called and found out the finance manager wasn't in again. A bit annoying for me and more so for Mean. So Friday comes around and the finance manager finally calls Mean up, and it turns out we still need to make the $5000 down payment.

She tells Mean that we have to submit a bunch of work/income documents, some of which we couldn't give immediately. She told her though that we could still get the car on Saturday and the other documents could just be sent when they were available. However, when I called to finalize when to get the car, she said that it's best to wait for all required documents before picking up the car. Mean was really upset now, while I wasn't too affected.

I guess that I'm more patient with people. In this case, this wasn't a good thing. This was confirmed even more when I learned of friends with similar backgrounds (credit, length of stay, etc) who had much more pleasant car buying experiences. Despite their convincing us to switch dealerships, I decided to give it one last try. If we couldn't get the car on Saturday, then we'd try another place. So Mean called to indicate our intentions of getting the car and also aired some of her grievances. After sending our documents by e-mail, and waiting an hour or two, the finance manager called and told us that we could get the car in the afternoon. When we got there, she was apologetic and mentioned that Toyota credit was being a bit tough these days. So we finished some paperwork, signed some documents and paid the down payment. We couldn't leave without car insurance so they brought us to the nearby mall too get Autopac. After this, they attached our plates and after a brief rundown of the car's features, we were ready to leave with our new car.

So there, we have a car. It's definitely gonna give us a whole lot more freedom. The weather will be less of an issue now. Waiting at the bus stop when it's -40C isn't pleasant. We also have to be careful though that we don't go too far with this new convenience. Gas and eating out a lot is expensive. I also have to learn a whole lot about maintaining it especially with the weather here.

We haven't taken any pictures yet though. We were busy in the weekend and it's usually dark when we get home. Maybe next weekend. Too bad it doesn't have that fresh from the car wash look anymore.

There are a few pics now. Also, the Canadian Government finally released the models that can have rebates for fuel efficiency and our car was included. We just sent out the application.

New Car

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mean @ 29

Don't worry, she doesn't mind me posting her age. :)

Mean celebrated her birthday just Saturday (her Birthday was Friday though). We ate out with our household mates in CFC at Boston Pizza. I'll post some pics later on.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Reunited at last (sort of). In the Philippines I was able to complete the whole Friends series on original VCD. Unfortunately, I had to leave it all behind since it would take up too much space in my baggage. I was a bit sad about that but what can you do? I was always tempted to buy the DVDs here but they were $30 each. A few days ago, it went on sale in Wal-mart (2 for $35). With a bit of hesitation we got them all. All in all, it was just a little bit more expensive then my old collection. However, it has much better picture quality and takes up much less space. Plus, there are those bonus features. So in the end, I'm happy with our purchase.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Martyr's Shrine Day 5 (Last)

Today is the last day of our little Toronto trip. We're going to go to mass to this place outside Toronto. It's called Martyr's Shrine. On the way there, we caught a glimpse of Canada's Wonderland. We'll go there one day. We also saw a lot of plains that reminded me of the view at Caleruega. I guess Martyr's shrine is somewhat like Caleruega with the church, the nice view, and the gardens. They also attract a lot of pilgrims/tourists. Martyr's shrine though has a lot of statues around the compound. The Church is also quite nice inside and out. It also has the bones of some saints on display.

Martyr's Shrine Full Photo Album

From there we stopped by Cookstown outlet mall to get some "pasalubong". Other than that, I was sleeping for most of the way. We also stopped by Yam's friend's place who was having a party. After that, we picked up our bags and headed for the airport. It was a pretty packed plane so we weren't able to get a window seat. It was a guy holding his kid who got it. Since he was sharing the seat with a small child, the stewardess gave him special instructions/procedures. So no sights = all sleep. We wouldn't have seen anything anyway, since it was nighttime. Pity though I couldn't take a picture of the Winnipeg lights from the sky. We arrived slightly after midnight, took a cab and went straight to bed. It was a fun but tiring trip. I even told Mean that I was having a great time and at the same time couldn't wait for it to end. Perhaps on our next trip, we won't have such a packed itinerary. Then again, we'd probably have to give up going to some major attractions which I would regret. Or maybe we could rent a car. I wonder where we'll be going...
Bye Toronto Full Photo Album

Monday, September 24, 2007

Niagara Falls Day 4

Yam and Gibes offered to bring us to Niagara Falls today. We left around 10am. It was then I was exposed to the freeways. I think there were usually 14 lanes at any given stretch. An amazing site for country folk like us :) We also got some other viewing angles of the lake and Toronto. The sights were also so different from ultra flat plains of Manitoba.

The falls were what this was all building up to though. A short distance away, we could already see the mist rising from the force of the water. And when we got to the railings, it didn't disappoint.

Niagara Falls Full Photo Album

We had to start visiting the attractions though so as not to waste our Niagara Pass. First off was Journey Behind the Falls. Here we descended by elevator several meters down into a tunnel that goes behind the horseshoe falls. Through the tunnel you could access 3 openings located directly behind the torrent of water. You could also access a large viewing deck just beside the falls.
Journey Behind the Falls Full Photo Album

After that, we headed for the Maid of the Mist. On the way, we took some more pics.
Niagara View Full Photo Album

On to the Maid of the Mist. This boat ride goes right up to both falls. After this, I wanted a waterproof camera.
Maid of the Mist Full Photo Album

From there we took the shuttle or People Mover (we have a whole day pass with the Niagara Pass) to White Water Walk. It's a close up view of the rapids. They say it's a class 6 which means if you want to die, take a boat and go down the river. There are several stories of daredevils who tried to go through the river displayed before getting to the walkway. Many of these don't have happy endings. When you see the rapids, you'll start to wonder what they were thinking.
White Water Walk Full Photo Album

It was getting pretty late now. We nearly weren't able to get into the Butterfly Conservatory. I guess this isn't a place we'd normally visit when at Niagara falls but it came with the pass. It wasn't bad. I've been to a place like this in the Philippines (Subic). I'm proud of myself though. There was a butterfly that didn't want to leave the walkway and might have been crushed under someone's shoe if I hadn't kept trying to shoo it into the plants. ANYWAY... here some pics.
Butterfly Conservatory Full Photo Albumry

The day was pretty much winding down from here. We found a nice garden for some extra pics. We then joined Yam and Gibes at the Casino for the buffet dinner. On the way home, I slept most of the way. We weren't as tired as before though thanks to the people mover. This was a great day. I'd say the best of the whole trip.
Niagara End Full Photo Album

Toronto Day 3

Like the previous days, we couldn't wake up as early as planned. Originally we were supposed to go to Chinatown, Eaton Center, City Hall and possibly Toronto Islands. However, we decided to go to Toronto Islands immediately instead. We didn't know where exactly we could catch the boat so we just walked by the docks. It turns out it was a pretty long walk (we had to make a few detours as well). When looking out at the water, it's easy to forget that it's not an ocean. We could even see sailboats in the distance. I guess I'm used to lakes where you could see the opposite shoreline. There are quite a few things you can do here. You can have picnics, bike, boat, swim, etc. Basically a place to relax. They even have a small amusement park which was closed for the day. You'll also have a great view of Toronto's skyline from here. Of course it helps that it's surrounded by Lake Ontario - one of the five great lakes. After walking and biking around I was tired again. I'm just out of shape.

Toronto Islands Full Photo Album

We went back to the hotel to retrieve our bags and cel phone(which we left in the room). From here we brought our bags to Yam's office. She offered to keep them while we roam around. She even agreed to stay a bit late in the office to give us more sightseeing time. It was getting late so we wouldn't be able to go to all the places we want to. So we went to the Royal Ontario Museum. The front of the museum was redesigned and was finished just recently. And I have to say, it was quite a sight. I didn't even feel the need to go into the museum. We did though so we could use more of our citypass. I guess it's what you would expect from museums. Lots of artifacts, dinosaur skeletons and animal displays. Maybe I was just tired and already happy to see the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal so I wasn't so enthusiastic. Maybe I should go back someday to more thoroughly take in everything here.
Royal Ontario Museum Full Photo Album

When we left the museum it was starting to rain. We still tried to visit City Hall by going through Toronto's PATH or downtown underground walkway. It wasn't meant to be though as the rain only got stronger. With that, we headed for Yam and Gibes' place. With that, we bid goodbye to downtown as our following trips would be outside the city. Next stop, Niagara Falls.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Toronto Day 2

For Day 2, Our itinerary included Toronto Zoo and The Rogers Chinese Lantern Festival at Ontario Place. I initially wanted to be at Toronto Zoo by 9:00am since I've read it could easily take an entire day to see everything there. However, that just wasn't going to happen since we were extremely tired from the previous day. Our hotel stay included free continental breakfast. When I first heard this, I was quite excited. It turns out that continental breakfast means cereal, toasted bread, jam, juice, muffins, etc. I was expecting something with egg at least. Having said that, I still liked the hotel given the price and location. We first had to pass by Yam's office to get our Niagara and Lantern Festival passes. She and Mean were happy to see each other after a long while. They would get a chance to catch up even more since they graciously offered us to stay at their place starting Friday.

So off to Toronto Zoo we went. It was quite a long ride with 2 trains and 2 buses. When we got there we decided to get a pass for the Zoomobile to maybe decrease our walking. This might have been a waste though since it didn't stop for us to take pictures when passing the animal enclosures. It was more like a shuttle between major areas. So we got off and continued on foot. It was quite a hike for the day. We were there for around 7 hours mostly walking. Highlights include an either curious or ill-tempered ostrich, a not-so-shy squirrel, playing tiger cubs. I probably missed a few interesting things so, again, the pics should do.

Toronto Zoo Full Photo Album

After that, we headed back to the hotel to recharge the battery. We drained one of our batteries and part of the second one so I worried that we wouldn't have enough left for the Chinese Lantern Festival. There also wasn't enough time to fully recharge the battery. With that, we set off. It wasn't a straightforward ride due to construction going on at the streetcar routes and the distance of Ontario Place from the nearest stop. Soon we caught a glimpse of the several Lanterns scattered throughout the site. Other than the lanterns, they had a lot of stalls selling Chinese souvenirs and food. There were also some performances and demonstrations going on. My main focus though were the lanterns. There was also wasn't enough time as the place was in the process of closing down as we finished dinner. Thankfully we had just enough battery time to take a picture of all the Lanterns. I'm really glad Mean found out about this event because it was really worth it.
Chinese Lantern Festival Full Photo Album

After that, we were exhausted yet again. Not as much as the previous day though since we had a decent amount of sleep. Hopefully, we'll be able to regain even more energy since there's still a lot of walking to do tomorrow.

Toronto Day 1

This took me long enough. There were just too many pictures. I bought 2 2Gb memory sticks and an extra battery just for the trip. the result is about 1400 pics and vids. I'm not going to go too much into detail on what we did there. We already have the pics to do that and I'll never finish this if I try to type it. Besides, who reads this stuff anyway? :)

Anyway, we got up early Wednesday to catch our flight (5:55am boarding). This, by the way, is me and Mean's first plane flight together. We arrived at around 9:30 at Toronto Pearson Airport. We wanted to find to find a TTC day pass but there was no place to get it. Thankfully the bus driver didn't charge us since he knew we would get one. In Winnipeg, we have Navigo where we can find the exact way to get from point A to B. It's not perfect but it sure made things easier. Toronto has nothing similar so we had to rely on maps. At first it seemed daunting but we soon found the buses/trains we needed to take. It was surprisingly easy to get around especially with the subway.

Check-in time at the hotel was still a few hours away so our first stop from the airport was the Philippine consulate since Mean had to renew her passport. It was kinda annoying to pull my bag around since it got wobbly after going over just a few bumps. I think it had something to do with my height. From there we headed to Travelodge to check in.

To Toronto Full Photo Album

Our first "tourist" destination was Casa Loma. Here, we purchased the Toronto Citypass. With the citypass, we could visit 6 attractions for a discounted price. I think it's already worth it if we visited only 3. It was a bit of a walk from the subway station, and uphill at that. Casa Loma is a castle serving as a museum with rooms restored to what they looked like decades ago. It also has a nice garden which I'm sure Mean would enjoy. But what I was really after was the exterior of the castle itself which looked pretty impressive in the pictures I saw. Unfortunately, part of it was under renovation but it still looked impressive nonetheless. ET Canada was also holding shows there for the Toronto International Film Festival (which was ongoing that week) so some areas were closed or had the set impeding access to some areas.
Casa Loma Full Photo Album

After that, I was getting pretty tired. Plus we bought a jug of water which we had to bring back to the hotel. I was tempted to just rest but I had to keep going or I'd regret not going to some of the attractions. More so since what we had planned for the evening was CN Tower. At this point CN Tower was just dethroned as the tallest freestanding structure by the Burj Dubai (it's still growing by the way). I didn't care though since I was still sure to get some awesome views. There was the main viewing area and the skypod even higher above it. Again, the pics should be enough. I just have to say though that the glass floor exposed me as a sissy while Mean didn't seem bothered at all.
CN Tower Full Photo Album

After all that, I was exhausted. We had dinner at a nearby Shawarma/Gyro place. We had to get some stuff from a convenience store but after that I was pretty much dead. The next day is sure to be equally tiring with Toronto Zoo and The Chinese Lantern Festival.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Toronto bound

The flight is booked, the Hotel room reserved, the itinerary is set (sort of). We'll be in Toronto from this Wednesday(12th) to Sunday. There are a lot of interesting places to visit there. We plan to go to Niagara Falls (not in Toronto), CN Tower, Toronto Zoo, Royal Ontario Museum (pics), Casa Loma, Ontario Place (for the Chinese Lantern Festival), possibly Toronto Islands and others. Unfortunately, we won't be able to go to Canada's Wonderland since it's closed on weekdays (we're going to Niagara on Saturday). We also might not be bable to cover the whole of Toronto Zoo since I've read that it's huge. Other places we most probably will miss are Ontario Science Centre, Hockey Hall of Fame and Art Gallery of Ontario. Oh well, we'll probably be back here when we try to get US visas so we can get back to whatever we missed.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Close call

The other day, we nearly got in a car accident. Our friends from CFC Garry and Cherry were giving us a ride home from a party when we approached the Notre Dame-Cumberland-Sherbrook intersection. As we crossed the intersection, I noticed this car coming in from the left. It looked like it might hit our rear so I braced myself for impact. Thankfully, the impact never came. It was a good thing Garry stepped on the gas instead of braking or else things might have been different. I remember that we definitely had the green light. The other driver was probably also shaken-up, as I noticed he/she remained stopped at the middle of the intersection for several seconds. That was definitely a scary experience, more so since Mean was also at the left side. This proves that no matter how careful a driver you are, nothing guarantees that other drivers are the same.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

No car... for now

So we're not to get a car yet. We gave it some thought and decided that we really don't need a car that bad and could use the extra savings. Anyway, the main reason we moved downtown was for convenience and as a result, delay the need for a car. Also, we went into the dealership hoping to get the 2007 model which had 2.9% interest. They didn't have that so we settled on the 2008 which had 5.9% interest. After they rejected that, we would have to go to the banks where the interest rate would be even higher ($5000 down payment just isn't an option). So nevermind. I'm thinking we'll just try again when I've reached 1 year at my current job. That would be around March. By then we should have better credit. The 2009 Corolla might also be out then so the 2008 might be cheaper then (at least interest-wise). People will probably still try to convince us to go for the bank route. But I think we have to do things our own way.

I just hope that the car that was (not so) nearly ours ends up with a good and loving family :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Credit is Crap

As it turns out, my HR manager is on vacation. So toyota credit still hasn't been able to contact her. That's probably a non-factor though, since Toyota credit now wants us to come up with a down payment of $5000. That's something we just don't have. The other option is to go to a bank instead. However, that will most likely mean higher interest rates that's gonna push up our monthly fees. Now I begin to wonder why people keep telling us to buy a car already as if it was a piece of cake. Even when I just started working some people were telling us to buy a car. I got the feeling that they thought I was weird for not doing so sooner. Others even seem really affected by my hesitation because of my perceived "good income". A few even seemed angry. It gets annoying sometimes. HELLO!!?? IT'S MY MONEY!!! I just don't get it. This has been a frustrating experience. Oh well, we'll see what the banks have for us.

On another note, it's starting to get cold. It's was 7 degrees C this morning. I had to wear a jacket. I guess we're in the fall season now.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Still no car

Toyota Credit called today. They needed our main office's number so I gave it to them. They need it to confirm my employment details. So that was that, and I thought I might be driving home tonight. Later in the afternoon though, Toyota McPhillips gave me a call saying Toyota credit was unable to contact OBS. I wonder what the problem is. Oh well, more waiting...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Buying a Car.... ... ... ?

Today, we went to McPhillips Toyota to buy a car. We were hoping to get a 2007 Corolla. I initially was thinking of getting a smaller subcompact like the Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit. The Yaris didn't really get good reviews. Then I was surprised to find that the Corolla's fuel efficiency is just the same as the Fit. The Honda Civic definitely looked better that the Corolla (which hasn't received a facelift for several years) but fuel efficiency was more important to me. Hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Civic Hybrid were out of my price range. So we settled with the standard/manual 2007 Corolla which would also get us a rebate from the Government. As fate would have it the 2007 Corolla's were wiped out. So we had to look through the 2008 Corollas. We were still looking for a certain manual package which they also didn't have on site. We decided to take the available one for a test drive (this was a bit more expensive than the one we were looking for). It's been a long time since I've driven a manual so I started slow but quickly got accustomed to it. After the test drive I was slowly leaning toward getting the car (sucker?). So we went to check how much it would cost us. That all seemed to be a formality as we decided to get it. In this application, Mean would be be the principal purchaser(?) since she has the credit history while I would be supporting. However, after a bit of a wait, we weren't automatically approved. We would have to wait until Monday to find out if we could get the car. That was definitely a big letdown. I was expecting to drive out of there with a new car. I guess we have to cross our fingers for Monday. If we don't get it, then I guess it really isn't time yet. Was still sad though since my mind was in new car mode for the day.

Oh and thanks to Tito Randy and Tita Ana for accompanying and helping us out at the dealership.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Krispy Kremes

Before I left the Philippines, Krispy Kreme was just starting out operations there. I really like Go Nuts Donuts and I've heard about Krispy Kreme so I was quite curious. I thought I was going to be able to try it out in Canada but it turns out there aren't a lot in Canada and none in Winnipeg. This morning there was a fund raising going on near Mean's office and they were selling Krispy Kremes so Mean got a box. It was good. It was a long time since I've tried gonuts so I can't really compare them. But I haven't eaten good donuts in a while (I'm not really a big donut fan).

Winnipeg Buildings

On the way home from Folklorama, I snapped a few shots of some of the city's buildings.

Winnipeg Buildings

Folklorama 2007 - Cuba

Me, Mean and Paola (Mean's co-worker and training batchmate) went to the Cuban Pavilion today. The line was long but not as bad since it was a weekday. Naturally, the first thing we went for was the food. It was pretty good since it reminded me of home. They had a Cuban plate which had fried rice, ground beef, and "lechon". They even had some potato dish (I love potatoes). The performance was good. Nothing too acrobatic. Actually they did have some impressive physical feats too but it's hard to top the mexican performance. Anyway it was a good array of dances and it never got boring.

Folklorama 2007 - Cuba

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Folklorama 2007 - Mexico

Last night we tried out the Mexican Pavilion "Faces of Mexico". We decided to arrive early (5:30) for the 6:45pm show. Even then, there already was a long line. They started letting people in at 6:00. The site was much bigger than the Argentina one. They also had bleachers in case everyone won't fit at the main area with chairs and tables. They had a lot of Mexican goods and souvenirs for sale and the booths were even designed with a Mexican feel. Since there was a lot of time we decided to get some food. They had the expected tacos, tortilla wraps, chips and dessert. I wasn't raving about the food. I guess I've grown used to restaurant Mexican food and that's what I was expecting.

Just like the Argentina pavilion, they started off with a performance by the kids. After which they had a medley of group dances. In one instance, 3 pairs seemed to be adjusting something on the floor with their feet (they were standing). It turns out they were tying ribbons.

The highlight of the night though was the finale. I'll let the video speak for itself:

Full photo album

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Folklorama 2007 - Argentina

First an intro on Folklorama. It's an annual event in Winnipeg where several pavilions representing different countries are scattered around the city. In these pavilions, they have cultural performances, booths and sell native food, drinks and other products.

Last night, I went to my first Folklorama pavilion - the Argentina "Tango" Pavilion We were supposed to go to the kick-off but my back interfered with our plans. The site was just a 20 minute walk from the office. There was a bit of a drizzle though. When I got there it was getting close to capacity with over an hour before the show. We'd probably have to settle for the 8:15 show since Mean was still several minutes away. It was fine though since we were told we could enter the pavilion and try out the food and check out the booths while waiting. They had a tent where people could eat and wait. They had a guy with a guitar and a singer singing Argentinian tunes to keep us entertained too. The food was ok. It was actually quite like what we have in the Philippines. They had emapanadas which aren't as sweet as ours. And their version of our leche flan. It looks exactly the same but tastes a bit different. It has a more of a gelo feel to it.

The time for the show finally came. The first performance was a dance number by (probably) Argentinian kids. There was a traditional dance by a pair complete with costume. Then a song number by a local duo. They then had a lengthy Tango performance by a pair they flew in straight from Argentina. The guy even played an accordion (or accordion-like instrument). Since this was the Tango pavilion, I thought that was the finale, but it wasn't. It was another traditional dance performed by the other pair that performed earlier. They started off dancing while playing the drums, sometimes one of them just drumming and the other dancing. But the most impressive part of it was when they started using these rope like instruments with hard ends. They swing the rope around occasionally letting it strike the ground. Sort of like a drum. It's hard to describe but it was impressive as he sped up while keeping his rhythm. It's a pity I forgot my camera. Had to settle with my phone's camera. Unfortunately, it's not really worth posting here. We'll try to visit other pavilions before the festival ends this coming Saturday.

I think this is a good festival for the city to have since Winnipeg (actually the whole of Canada) has such a large and growing immigrant population. It's a way for everyone to be introduced to all these cultures. It's also a good way for children to be exposed to the culture/heritage of their parents and not be totally "westernized".

More info:
Official Site

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Lower Back Pain Update

My lower back pain is less now than on Friday (back then, I hated walking). But I went through with my doctor's appointment anyway. As expected it was a long wait. Anyway, he didn't seem to worried about it. He was thinking that it was a side effect of my job where I'm seated all day. He says the body isn't designed to sit all day. He advised me to stand up and walk around periodically at work. Anyway, he wants to meet me again in a month. If the pain isn't totally gone, then he'll run some tests. So for all those with desk jobs, get up every now and then. You should also probably look at ergonomics. The company where I'm assigned had a program about office ergonomics. What this website shows is probably close to what they covered. Anyway, I'm getting better now. Have to be more conscious about posture now. I'm not even 30 yet...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Simpsonized me

I just got myself Simpsonized.

Try it out at Simpsonize Me. This is actually a promotion for The Simpsons Movie and Burger King.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Lower Back Pain

This morning at work, my back started to hurt. I'm not entirely sure what started it since it wasn't bad in the start. It got progressively worse during the day. It hurts when I bend and do some other movements at the waist. It hurts for the first few seconds walking then subsides. It also hurts a bit when I go up or down stairs. I was thinking of delaying going to the doctor until tomorrow since it all seemed bearable. Until a few minutes ago, that is. I was having dinner and was sitting for a while. I also was pretty full. When I was done, it was very hard to stand up. It also hurt a lot more when taking steps. It was then I decided that maybe I should go to the doctor or hospital tonight. Mean tried calling the number of Health Links Manitoba since she saw their ad on TV. They could probably advise us on what to do since the waits at hospitals are extremely long unless it's a huge emergency (our doctor was gone for the day and the waits are pretty long there too). Lee, the nurse, asked me a bunch of the usual questions when trying to see what's wrong. She advised me to see how it if it subsides in the next 2-3 days and go to the doctor if it doesn't subside. Of course she said I should see a doctor soon if it gets much worse. In any case, I'm going tomorrow. By now, the pain decreased and it wasn't so hard to walk but it was still worse than the rest of the day. I would imagine it's pretty hard to diagnose lower back pain since there are a lot of probable causes and a lot of the symptoms are the same. I just hope this isn't anything serious. I'd be pretty depressed if Mean had to do even the heavy lifting here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Welcome Back to the Philippines

Today we went to the park for a Couples for Christ fellowship. Weather reports said that it would be 38 C (feels like 44 - due to humidity maybe?). It sure did feel like the Philippines. The sun was out and, since we played a little badminton, I was sweating just like back home. The park seemed like a very nice place to walk around but I wasn't tempted to leave the shade. Weather reports also say that there are going to be more days like this coming up. So in case people wonder why I'm getting darker while I'm in North America, there you go.

On another note, here's a little pic of a view from our apartment

Yup, someone wants Flor.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I'm a driver!!!

I took my road test today. Before that though, I had a 1 hour practice session with my driving instructor (I also get to use the training car in the road test). It's a good thing we had that practice session since most of my mistakes come out at the beginning. It's better to be in driving mode by the time of the test rather than adjust while doing it. Finally, it was time for the test. I had a little trouble starting the car. I was never taught to do that. :) The examiner gave a short briefing and off we went. Basically, he just tells you where to go and hopefully you don't screw up somewhere. We went through the usual stop signs, intersections and left turns. The grand finale was the dreaded parallel parking. Here, you have to get in 1 go. It feels like cheating though since the I already had the necessary markings memorized. (ex. honda symbol on steering wheel should be on the lane divider) After parallel parking, we were done. The examiner instructed me to enter the parking lot and park anywhere. I was taught that you should pick a spot where there aren't any other cars to maneuver around to prevent last-minute screw-ups. And that was that. The examiner informed me that I had passed and advised on me on my mistakes. After that they updated my license and records and I was good to go. I was also happy that my driving instructor went straight for the driver's side. I was kinda sick of driving for this day. The next time I'm in the driver's seat, there'll be no more pressure.

That there was a huge relief. I had been worrying about this day ever since I knew my scheduled date. That's one big thorn off my side. Actually buying a car is now a real possibility.

Of course I recommend Ed Batalla as a driving instructor. Just don't be sensitive about being corrected a lot for all the bad driving habits acquired in the Philippines.

Ed Batalla Driving School:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Go back to your own country

A few days ago, we were waiting for a bus downtown. As is usual, someone approached us asking for change to ride the bus. I rarely have change with me thanks to Interac so I said my usual "Sorry, no change" and so did Mean. Usually, people just walk away and sometimes even say stuff like "Ok, have a nice day". But this guy stared at us for 5-10 seconds, then said something to the effect of "I just need to ask you something. Why is it that I don't believe you?", then while walking away said: "Go back to your own country". I've gotten used to people begging in the streets since we have a lot of that back in the Philippines. I'm annoyed at those who do it while drunk since you know where the money would go. I'm even amused at others who ask for exact amounts like, for example, 57 cents. But the worst are those who get angry when you don't give them anything. Do these people actually think they're entitled to other people's hard earned money? Maybe I would've given him change if I had some. I mean, for all we know, he had valid reasons for not having money for the bus. Unfortunately, it's a tough sell since a lot of people use riding the bus as a reason for begging. In any case, I'm glad he acted out since he sure doesn't deserve any help. I'd rather help someone get drunk.

Wow, my first rant in a while. Hope I don't have too many of those.


... we have internet. I'd like to thank the friendly MTS guy for setting us up. No thanks though to the folks who told us we would have our kit in 2-3 business days 10 days ago. Anyway, we have MTS internet now, and it seems fast enough.

Anyway, we moved on July 7 (Saturday, 07-07-07 - cool). I was really surprised that we were able to collect so much stuff in 6 months. I think we had 9 big boxes and a bunch of smaller boxes and bags. Then I had to disassemble the computer table. It's a good thing we brought the couch and dining table straight to the apartment.

Mean had to go ahead to the apartment since the bed was being delivered in the morning. I carried as many boxes as I could upstairs but was soon pretty spent. *insert have to go to gym comment here* Thankfully, Tito Bilog soon arrived, and lifted a lot of the boxes like nothing. Later on, Mean's friends ("kinakapatid" to be more specific), Rupert and JR arrived to help. Thankfully the mini-van and SUV was enough for everything, so we needed just 1 trip. After another slightly less tiring bout of carrying boxes, everything was finally in the apartment. Tito Bilog, Rupert and JR felt like assembling the dining table, chairs and bathroom shelf. I just helped out. I might have even slowed them down.

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It's been several days since we moved, so we've added some stuff here and there.
New Apartment Stuff

We've also shampooed the carpet. Unfortunately(or not), no pictures of that. There's still a lot of stuff to buy. We don't have tools yet, so our window in the living room has no curtains. We also haven't attached the legs of our sofa. I have to embrace the DIY culture.

One good thing about living downtown is that we're pretty much in the center of Winnipeg. Most buses pass through Portage and Graham so we can easily go anywhere. A car is no longer so necessary (but I feel it is when we go grocery shopping). We'll get one before winter though.

It's nice to be on our own. But I'm still grateful to everyone, especially Mean's relatives, who made our transition here in Winnipeg easy in comparison to others. I know I didn't really get to know them too well, but I hope one day, we can repay them for everything.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Not So Bare Apartment

Yesterday we picked up a sofa and dining table we bought the other day. Our friends from CFC graciously helped us out since we didn't have a van or pickup (the delivery fee was high). First we picked up the sofa from United Furniture Warehouse. With my limited knowledge on furniture shopping, it seems they have relatively low prices. We had some problems getting the table from JYSK. To make a long story short, we got the table from one branch, and the chairs at another.

Bringing the sofa to the unit was a bit of a problem. I now wonder how people get anything big at all into their homes. Doors seem pretty small in Winnipeg. Anyway, eventually our apartment isn't so empty anymore.

Not So Bare Apartment
Seeing the place for the first time, I'm pretty happy with it. It has everything a young (walang tututol) couple needs. Of course, the price/rent is also a big selling point too. Anyway, tomorrow's moving day so I probably have to get off the PC. I'll probably won't have net access for a bit too since we haven't taken care of getting a net subscription yet. And I'll probably be dead tired.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Canada Day - The Forks

After Lower Fort Garry, we headed to Mike & Elaine's place to rest since the fireworks show was at 11pm. It also started to rain hard (poor folks at the Forks). At around 8:30 we headed out. There was a lot of people and quite a bit going on. There were music shows, magic shows. Rogers booths scattered about with varied promos. There was a bigger stage with bands playing. Stores and restaurants were very busy as well.

But what most of the people were waiting for were the fireworks. We picked a spot around 30 minutes before 11. I was pretty tired at this point and the crowd was growing as the show got closer. Finally it started.

Not bad at all. Ending could have been better though. In other fireworks shows I've seen, they unleash a barrage at the end. This one just stopped.

You may notice the pictures with all the Canadian flags and Maple leafs. I'm feeling a little guilty since I never really did stuff like that in the Philippines. I guess I was always tired back then and didn't really like big crowds and hated difficult parking. Then there's the traffic of course. Well at least I wouldn't cheer as hard for Canadian boxers when watching fights on TV. That's the new immigrant's situation I guess.

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Canada Day - Lower Fort Garry

Yesterday was Canada Day. For this day, we joined Elaine & Mike again and Eugene (who coincidentally, I met at Success Skills) and went for a picnic and tour at Lower Fort Garry. This would be my first time out of Winnipeg (I think we were outside Winnipeg during the Great West Life boat ride, but I didn't actually step on non-Winnipeg land :) ).

When we got there, we set up for the picnic. There actually is an entrance fee but it was waived for today. There was a square dance group/club there providing entertainment for Picnickers.

Lower Fort Garry is the oldest stone fur trading post still intact in North America. Attractions here include preserved 19th century buildings, costumed "tour guides" reenacting life back then. The guides mostly stay in character and wait in their own buildings/areas telling the guests things about the building and the people who occupied it.

It as a nice place. It gives you an idea of the way of life back then. The tour guides might have been better able to tell their stories if there weren't that much people there. They seemed to have a bit of a hard time coping with the higher than usual visitor volume. We'll consider coming back in the near future.

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Parks Canada - Lower Fort Garry
Wikipedia- Lower Fort Garry