Saturday, June 30, 2007

Got a Bed

As I mentioned in a previous post, we'll be moving to an apartment soon. We already started looking around for beds and today we checked out a few more places. We also to had come up with a decision since most of the promotions and discounts would end today. As mentioned before, we were interested in what Sears had so that was our first stop. We also checked out Nolan's Home Furnishing which was also in the area. I didn't mention this before, but the salespeople always tell us to lie on the bed to get a good feel for it. Some even encourage us to doze off and they would just wake us up if we slept too long. We were initially hesitant to do this probably because in the Philippines, they had all these "do not sit" signs on beds and chairs. Eventually though, we embraced this practice and were "test-lying" all the beds within our budget (and even some that weren't). However, I personally couldn't tell the difference between the soft beds so I let Mean do most of the deciding on what bed to get. My only job was to say "that's too expensive" or "let's not even bother".

Another thing we had to do was find out just how much money would we eventually spend and the payment options available for each bed. This isn't just looking at the price tag since some stores have a bunch of extra charges like taxes, delivery, administration fees, etc. On the other hand, there are also discounts and rebates. So we returned to stores we already visited to clear this up.

We narrowed down our choices to:
A bed in Sears which Mean really liked
An expensive bed at The Brick which had $800 off
A popular bed at Sleep Country

They all were in the same price range. The following became the deciding points:
Sears - no taxes, free bed frame, free delivery. Mean really liked it.
Brick - initially we though it had a free bed frame and no taxes but as it turns out, it didn't. That put it out of the running.
Sleep Country - Free delivery. $300 rebate. We didn't expect the rebate to be that big. This is what we got.

I'm pretty happy with our new bed. I was never really particular about beds so this is probably the best quality one I'll ever sleep on (at least for those I slept on long-ter,m). Mean really liked the Sears one but the rebate made it a no-brainer. The gap in price was so much bigger than the gap in comfort (which was negligible).

So that probably takes care of one of the most, if not the most, important requirement for moving to an apartment. There's still a lot of things to be done though. At least we won't sleep on the floor.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Moving soon

There's this apartment downtown which we've been waiting to have vacancies. We had a chance around a month back to get in but we didn't feel we were ready since it was really short notice. A few days ago we were informed that another unit freed up and we decided to go for it despite the similarly short notice. Earlier today, we got confirmation that we got it and we can move in as early as July 3. We probably won't move that early though.

Due to this, we started shopping around for essential furniture. Namely a bed and a small dining table. So we went to what seems to be the furniture sector of the city at Ellice and St. James area. We actually were at the area to pick-up a microwave on sale at Superstore. However, it seems these were wiped out. While walking around the area we found a JYSK store. Mean spotted a small, cheap dining table and chairs in their flyers the other day. We found the set in the store and decided to buy it. We'll have to find a way to transport it though (delivery is nearly half of the purchase price).

Another thing we looked around for are beds. We checked out a bunch of furniture stores but a lot of these seemed to cater to richer folk and didn't have a lot of beds. The places that seemed to have what we need (and can afford) were The Brick and Sleep Country. They both had good selections and good service though I suppose I'd give an edge in the "sales talk" category to Sleep Country. Not that the guy at The Brick was bad, he was quite helpful. The Sleep Country guy was just really seemed into his job. He even suggested we check out competitors like the Brick and Sears (which we'll check out tomorrow). We haven't fully decided what to buy yet though. Maybe after we check out Sears. Beds are quite expensive though especially for Peso converters. But I guess it's a good investment.

There are a lot of things we need to buy initially. We'll try to take things slow though; gradually put together a decent home. It's a bit scary given the expenses, adjustments and added responsibility. But at the same time, it's exciting with more freedom and a place we can call home. Me and Mean will now have to depend on each other even more. I guess we're gonna find out even more what marriage is all about.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Red River Ex

Yesterday, we were finally able to go to The Ex at the Red River Exhibition Park. This is when the park is transformed into an amusement park for around 3 weeks. So you have your usual extreme rides, kiddie rides and everything in between. Of course there are also games, shows, shopping and food.

We don't have a car yet so we had to take the buses the city provides specifically for the event. Plus I hate driving right now. We already took this bus on Friday from Polo Park, which is roughly half way there and it was really packed in the bus. So for today we decided to catch it at the start of the route. As expected the bus was filled-up very quickly. The bus driver didn't even bother to stop at Polo Park and after.

When we arrived, there were long lines. Good thing we already had tickets (ride-all-you-can). When I got in, the first thing I noticed were dogs practicing in an obstacle course. They have dog shows at certain times of the day. It wasn't time for that yet so we went for our first ride. We picked the drop of fear.
I was trying to scream like a little girl but I lost my voice halfway down.

After that we found that the dog show had started. There wasn't much room anymore so we didn't stay long. Here's some of what we saw.

I really wanted to see them go through the arches/bars.

What they lack in skill they make up with slapstick humor.

They also had a reptile show. There was no show at the time we were there but there were big snakes and crocs/alligators(?) on display.

Our next stop was the Giant Slide. I remember that back in the Philippines, we slid down using rice sacks.

This is called the Slingshot. We didn't ride it because it's $25/person. Maybe next year (with a lot of convincing from Mean).

After this we rode the smaller of 2 Ferris wheels. I think this was meant for kids, but whatever.

Then there was the petting zoo. I finally got to go to one after seeing them in US movies and TV shows.

Time to eat. Of course we have to have a hotdog. The other one's a candy apple.

What do you do after eating? Ride the Fireball of course!

Yeah, little girl.

Mean wanted to ride the Carousel. Not me :)

Time to ride the other Fireball. Mean was able to ride this 2 years ago. She really liked it and convinced me it would be fun. I hate her...

It was actually fun but when I got down, I needed to find a place to sit. I know, what a wuss.

I needed a break so we rode the big ferris wheel. It was meant to be a relaxing ride to relieve my dizziness but the idiot dad we were with was teasing his son by shaking the gondola. But yeah, I know, relieving dizziness by riding the ferris wheel isn't really smart.

After that, I no longer wanted to go on any "extreme" rides. I was dizzy and had a headache. I was feeling guilty since Mean still wanted to go. Well, she didn't let my wimpiness stop her from riding the Zipper. She would just have to find another person who was alone or the odd one out in a group because they didn't allow people alone in a compartment. Thankfully there was a guy right in front of us who was by himself. Apparently, all his friends were throwing up somewhere. He also didn't know about the 2 rider policy. Good for him and Mean.

That was the last ride. We were in the park for about 6-7 hours. However, we had to leave because of...

Bad Weather

While we were waiting in line, a guy was going around telling people that a thunderstorm was coming and there was a lot of wind, water and hail coming in about an hour. So we headed straight for the exits after the Zipper. We noticed there were 2 buses waiting outside which was strange. It turns out, Winnipeg Transit requested all "Not in Service" buses still on the road to proceed to the park due to the coming storm. And I think they were also about to shut down the park. It started raining a bit while we were on the bus, and it got worse as we reached the bus stop. Soon, the noise on the roof got louder. I could see mothball-like stuff dropping on a plant box outside. I guess this is hail. I've heard about hail in the Philippines but never new how it looked like. Thankfully, it seemed top be a mild introduction as they say there have been golf-ball sized hail in the past. Our bus finally arrived and we had to run under the rain with our damaged umbrella. Good thing the wind had died down or else the umbrella would surely have turned inside out. I was worried because we still had a 5 minute walk from the bus stop to our house. We would have to stay at the bus shelter for a bit if the weather was still bad. Lucky for us, by the time we reached our destination, it was only drizzling.

Well, this post got pretty long. Anyway, it was a great day. Hopefully next year, I won't be so wimpy so we could get on more rides. I'd also like to watch the shows they had there. Maybe also try some of the parlor games. And of course, I also wish the weather is much better then.

View Full Photo Album

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Driving School

Today I had a driving lesson. I thought it was going to be a 1 day refresher before I take the driving test. As it turns out, I'm not ready for the driving test. I, and I'm sure most pinoy drivers, have so many bad habits they have to get rid of before passing the test here. Here's a list of things I have to learn and habits I have to fix for the road test (wether I should fix some of them for actual driving, I'll have to think about):
- Lacking awareness of road signs
- There are very few left turn traffic signals here. Vehicles intending to turn left in an intersection with a traffic light can do so when their side has a green light and traffic is clear in the opposite lane or when the light turns yellow. It's not as simple as that of course but I don't feel like describing everything right now.
- The way I hold the steering wheel when making a sharp turn. I find it hard to describe in text so I'll just say it's an annoying adjustment.
- Not making a shoulder check when changing lanes (only relying on mirrors).
- Forgetting to turn off left/right signals.
- We didn't do this during the lesson but I know I have to work on parallel parking.

So I didn't really do too well. Well, I think a big part of it is because I hate driving when someone's dictating or noticing all the little faults I make. I'm definitely less relaxed in that situation. But it's still good I made the mistakes I made so I can stick it in my head until my Driving test. So there. Right now I hate driving. I can't wait for this to be all over.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Just this Wednesday, I had to get a package from Dad at Fedex. Tita Ana agreed to let me drive her car. She had to come along since I didn't have a full license yet. Was a bit nervous since I haven't driven since Christmas Eve(2006) in the Philippines before I left. It turned out ok I guess. I was constantly asking what the speed limit was. I have to practice looking over my shoulder when changing lanes. This driving session probably emboldened Mean to call a driving school herself to schedule a refresher session for me so that I can take the driving test already. I suppose I've waited too long. It might also be time to buy a car.

We went to The Ex at Red River Exhibition Park this evening. But it started to rain when we got there. We decided to go Tomorrow or Sunday so our $28 tickets won't be wasted. I see possible rain in the forecasts though and Sunday is the last day so we'll just have to go.

Info: Red River Exhibition Park

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Manitoba Marathon

Today is the day of the 2007 Manitoba Marathon. During this event, a number of different races occur all over Winnipeg. One of them is the Great-West Life 2.6 mile Super Run. Mean (who works at Great West) volunteered us to help out handing out water for this race. I didn't really have much of a problem with this, until I found out we might have to be there at 6am And I got even grumpier when I found out we had to be there by 5:45. That didn't matter much because we were our usual slow moving selves in the morning. Then the taxi we took (there were no buses yet this early) couldn't go to where we wanted because a lot of the roads were closed. We spent some time trying to find the station but our map reading skills obviously need some work. Eventually we make sense of the directions and make it to our destination. We spend some time getting oriented on what we would have to do, like how to hand out water and preventing the racers from pushing-over the tables. We also met the other volunteers including some Filipinos. Soon the first few runners arrive and we were able to hand out water with no problems. It wouldn't take long though for the expected crowd to arrive.

They've already wiped out our table (of probably a thousand cups) in the above picture. There were 3 other tables and they were cleaned out too. There was enough water for all but there weren't enough cups. The racers just drop their cups after drinking. This is the result:

We cleaned it up in no time though.

After cleaning up, we went on our way. Most of the crowd that arrived were kids with their parents. So I was wondering where the pros were. (I didn't know yet that there were multiple races) As we headed for the parking lot (our new friends offered to give us a ride), there was a small group of people set up at Pembina/Bishop Grandin calling for us to join them. I noticed there were people running up the street. This was probably the main 26.2 mile race. We decided to stay around and watch.

The people by the side of the road were actually trying to recruit a cheering squad for the racers. They handed out clappers and gave out some snacks. A (presumably) Tim Hortons van also came up and started serving some coffee, juice and cookies.

A lot of the racers seemed to appreciate the cheering squad which grew a bit more after we arrived. There was also some loud upbeat music playing in the background. I guess this helped them gain a little bit more energy.

Here are a few interesting sights. I regret I wasn't able to snap up a photo of a guy dressed in a Batman costume, and 2 women wearing tiaras.

There are a few more pics not posted here. Feel free to view the full photo album:

Manitoba Marathon Full Photo Album

Manitoba Marathon Official Site

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Red River Tour

Meanmean's department in Great West Life had an outing yesterday and she brought me along. They had a paddle wheel boat tour on the Red River. The boat kinda looked like this but smaller and with no railings on the sides (This is the Paddlewheel queen, we were on the Princess):

The boat was pretty much a floating restaurant. They had counters to buy food (mostly burgers, hotdogs, fries, etc.), drinks and liquor. They had tables, chairs and an area for dancing and other activities.

We were supposed to go through the downtown part of the river. However, the water level was high so we probably couldn't get under this bridge.

We went North instead. There were still some interesting things to see. A few bridges and a lot of nice, big houses. There were also quite a few small motorboats zipping about. People, especially kids, were waving at us as we passed.

We stayed outside for most of the trip. There was a lot of activity inside the boat. I believe there was dancing, singing and a few games. Most of the people we're also drinking. Me and Mean don't drink though.

The boat left the docks at a little after 7pm and the trip ended a little before 10pm. A pretty nice river tour, though I haven't been on many. I'd also like to go on one that goes south towards downtown though. Going on this trip also makes me think about the rivers in Manila like the Pasig river. How things could have been different if we didn't pollute it so much.

Red River tour Photo Gallery

Paddlewheel River Boats Ltd.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hot in Here

I've started bringing my signature towel again. The old sweaty Patrick is back. The other day, it reached 30+ degrees C. It's eventually going to reach Philippine levels but with much less humidity. I now know that 15-20 degrees (Spring time) is my ideal temperature. Thanks to the weather, people are heading to the Parks for picnics, a lot of them Pinoys. At the same time though, it's been raining quite a bit. So people here really pay attention to weather reports. Since arriving in Canada, I now understand why Sims have a "talk about the weather" option. In the Philippines it's just "it's hot", "it's hot", "it's hot", "it's raining", "it's flooding", "it's hot", "it's hot"...

I saw a group of around 50 geese(?), both young and adult, walking at the side of the road while I was on the bus. I've heard that they sometimes stop traffic when crossing the street. It's a good thing most people here respect animals and don't run them over (and I think there are genuinely enforced laws against that)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

5 years

June 8 was me and Means 5th year as a couple (not married). We weren't able to celebrate then though. So I got her some flowers in the meantime.

Anniv Photo Album
The bus driver today was pretty funny. When I boarded the bus with the flowers he said: "Oh you shouldn't have!".

Today we finally celebrated by having dinner at Olive Garden. Olive Garden is a well-known Italian Restaurant here (based in the US). I learn that they have over 600 branches in North America. I'm no food critic, so I'll just say I enjoyed it and left with a hard time walking. Mean couldn't finish her food so we had it packed. Service was great with the crew extra attentive to diners. We'll definitely go back there several more times to try out other menu items.

Anniv Dinner Photo Gallery
Olive Garden Official Site