The Best Time to Move

Morgan and I have always had it comparatively easy, and this move is no exception. It turns out that Irish summers are lovely – it’s been rainy and cool and cloudy and sunny without going much above a comfortable “room” temperature. All this temperate goodness while the folks at home have been cooking in those bouts of +30-35C we’ve been getting in sunny Alberta these last few years.

The winters here are supposed to be windy and rainy and generally grey and miserable so I’ve heard, which means that the middle of summer is probably the best time to begin/end a year lease (the norm here nowadays) so you can move your stuff in comfort if you so choose. It’s certainly the best time to move stuff in Canada anyway.

Once we took up tenancy in our rented suite, we had to figure out how to turn the thermostat high enough to heat up our boiler and get hot water (we actually thought there had been an oversight at the gas company for a little while before our neighbours told us the secret), and we were without the convenience of readily heated water for a day or two. Nothing that can’t be satisfactorily overcome with an electric kettle of course, but say it were the power instead of the gas, or both. (And don’t even talk to me about the crash course.) I am much better equipped to deal with that sort of thing in the summer, when natural heat and light abound (though here in Ireland they only abound so much) and I’m in a happier state because of it.

Not only in the smaller details has the timing been right but on a bigger scale as well. Both Morgan and I were able to get up and move very easily: we have no children, our parents are in good health, our siblings are doing well. In fact, Morgan’s sister was able to move into Morgan’s apartment and their parents were willing to store stuff for us, making moving even easier. Morgan had finished his contract with the U of A and managed to stay until the Second Man v. Machine match, which was certainly a defining moment in the history of the U of A CPRG (Computer Poker Research Group), and a high note on which to leave… at least officially. For my part I feel I could have contributed long term at the U of A (my team was the Canola Research Group), but I think it was good to leave while I was more replaceable. `Cause really, who can argue with seeing the world while one has the life and health to do it!

The last reason (okay, next-to-last) this transition has been so smooth is that scores of folks have done this before us. Many through the ages have traveled and settled in leaner circumstances than this, and of course there are the friendly, accessible ones who very recently made the exact same trip. There is one couple in our building, newlywed like us, another couple down the road, who’ve been so encouraging, and, in particular, Darse and Alexandra have been there for us every step of the way. We probably wouldn’t be here now if not for them.

And the last reason (I promise) is that we’ve got each other. We may disagree and do a little squabbling and squawking, but in the end it’s nice to have a partner with whom to share and recall the experiences. It’s nice to have Morgan to point things out to and share the stories of the day with and have him show me stuff and help me… and cuddle me when the day is done.


Early Days in Dublin

Okay so Diane and I have now had a couple of days to spend exploring a bit and getting our feet wet in Dublin. It's been fun so far, if a bit confusing and bewildering at times. What did we do over the past two days? On Monday, we slept in as much as we could. This time around I'm having a bit of an issue coping with the jet lag -- both sunday and monday night I was wide awake around 2am Dublin time. I'm not exactly sure why, but it was a little bit annoying. Sleeping in was nice though, and we didn't get ourselves moving until well after 10am on Monday morning. We scouted the area right around the apartments for a place to eat and settled for the Spar, which is a little convenience store which had some fresh food that was actually quite good. We each had a sandwich freshly prepared for us there. Not so bad!

Our next stop was to get some basic groceries and supplies for our stay in our temporary apartments. For that, we went to a store called Dunnes which at this location is kind of half grocery store, half fashion/department store. The grocery section is quite extensive with just about everything you might want to get, so that was pretty nice. The weirdest thing about it? They stock their eggs on an unrefridgerated shelf. Weird.

Dropping our groceries off at the apartment, it was time to take a look at some apartments to see if there was anything promising available. The source for new listings is, and we spent several hours looking through the listings and making some reservations to see some places over the next couple of days. Our search is primarily on the southern light rail train line called the LUAS. There are two LUAS lines, the red and the green. The green is the southern one and the red is up north cutting vaguely east to west. They are not connected though, so you have to hop off one and walk to the other. Both Diane and I are in favour of an LRT-like experience, and the LUAS is very close to giving us that.

Afterwards we ventured forth to Darse and Alexandra's place for dinner, games, and a little bit of chatting about our next steps. We stayed late enough that we missed the bus back to our apartment so we had to catch a taxi back in a raging thunderstorm. While those are apparently not that common in Ireland, we kinda felt at home -- the pounding rain and the thunder was so similar to the summer thunderstorms that we got in Alberta.

This morning the plan was to get up and head out in search of a mobile phone for us to be reachable. So after having some breakfast, we returned to Dundrum mall, where we walked between the three main mobile phone dealerships here (Vodafone, Meteor, and O2) and eventually selected a pay as you go plan with Meteor. It kind of felt like the Fido of Ireland, although we could be mistaken there.

In the afternoon we had appointments at 3, 4 and 6 to see some apartments. Having spent awhile debating mobile phone plans, we hastened to our first appointment to check out two apartments. They were really quite nice -- brand new, never before lived in suites with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Nice, but pretty pricey, although I'm not totally certain we're going to find a place that will be much cheaper and in a good location. Oddly enough, our second appointment was in the same building (we figured that out late the night before, but figured it couldn't hurt to take a look at more suites in the same building. Turns out that the second guy was going to show us the same two suites! Huh.

We checked out some more places and then headed downtown to find a place to eat. We ended up back at Bewley's -- the restaurant we ate at with Darse and Xan the last time we were in Dublin. It was rather tasty.

So now we're back at our apartment. The plan tomorrow is for me to go into the office to pick up some paperwork that will smooth the process of getting a GNIB card (an immigration card) and a PPS number (kind of like a social insurance number). With luck, I'll be able to get that done on Thursday before I start work on Friday!

I'm going to attempt to wade my way through some pictures tonight so if you want to watch my flickr stream, you just might start to see photos of Vegas starting to show up there.

Hope everyone at home is doing well, we miss you all!


Honeymoon Cruise: Day 1-2

-- note: this post was written while aboard the cruise ship on the 13th of July and posted on the 19th of July after arriving back -- Diane and I are on a cruise ship waiting for the captain's reception and formal dinner. This is the 2nd night of our honeymoon cruise, and I've disconnected myself from the interwebs for the duration of the trip. While internet is available, I don't really like paying the premium for it at this point so I'll just check email when I get home.

So yesterday was our first cruise day. We hung out in our hotel room in the morning for a little while and had breakfast before checking out right before noon and wandering over to the dock where the Elation was sitting there waiting to be boarded. After a surprisingly smooth check-in process, we boarded the ship and the first thing we did was pursue food. Our room wasn't going to be ready for another 45 minutes or so, so we needed to pass some time which we did by finding a table in Tiffany's restaurant.

There was a lot of people there for lunch, so we just kind of hung out and took food from the short lineup areas which included a fruit and salad bar and the 24 hour soft ice cream bar. That was pretty fun. After relaxing a bit, we went down to check out our cozy little room. It's nothing particularly special, but it's certainly comfortable. There's even a fake window with curtains to make it look like a hotel room (I'm not sure it's really all that necessary).

After stowing our carry on luggage in our room, we wandered out to explore the ship a little. This is our first cruise so we needed to check out how the ship was organized and what it had to offer. I don't know how the Elation compares to other ships, but it has a pretty wide array of rooms and conveniences. The cabins are down low, with our cabin on the Upper Deck (3rd floor from the bottom of the passenger cabins, with one above ours). On the Empress Deck, there's a bar in the middle in a wide open room where you can see all the floors higher than it. A couple floors up is the promenade deck which is the only floor where you can walk from one length of the ship to the other without going through cabin areas. Most of the action goes on either on the promenade deck or up or down one floor. The restaurants are one floor below on the Atlantic deck, and the pool and buffet (with the 24 hour pizza and ice cream bar) one floor up on the Lido deck.

We found out most of the information by joining a whirlwind tour starting at 2:45. After the tour, we had a few moments before joining the people for the mandatory safety drill. That was a whole lot of boring-ness, but I imagine it's a good idea so people know what to do if something goes wrong. Not that that's high on the expectation list.

We were supposed to leave at 4:00, but we didn't quite get going right away. Eventually though, we did set off and Diane and I watched the depart on the top deck at the rear of the ship with a good view of the rock/blues band that played for us while we set off. We watched the ship negotiate the bay outside San Diego and after a little while we were cruising down the west coast.

After awhile we returned to our room to get unpacked and do a bit of laundry so we could make it through the remaining days with enough clean clothes. We have the late dinner session at 8:15, so there was lots of time to fit in laundry and we basically relaxed for awhile while waiting for the clothes to be ready.

We headed up for dinner a little early and found our assigned table. There was a nice couple already seated when we got in so we chatted a bit. Another couple came by not too much later and they basically took over the conversation. Actually, it was the woman who took over the conversation. She chatted, loudly, throughout just about the entire dinner which wasn't all that pleasant. My poor right ear :(.

Dinner was actually pretty good. I got Fried shrimp for an appetizer and pan-seared fish (Starts with a T, white fish) for my main course. It was quite tasty! Diane got portobello mushroom for an appetizer and steak for her main course. The steak was okay, but it was no Alberta beef. Dessert was also pretty good. Diane got some cheesecake, and I got some sort of black forest concoction. Both were pretty good, although I think Diane won with the better dessert this go around.

Immediately after dinner there was a welcome aboard show, so we went there after a quick stop at the Piano Bar. In that room there literally is a piano bar - a bar with a bunch of keys on it. Diane and I both enjoyed that a lot.

The welcome show was interesting. There was some rather high energy dancing, and singing, and then a comedian came on. He wasn't too shabby -- he got a few laughs out of us, though we've seen better. Tonight he's going to do an R-rated show ... we'll see how that goes.

After the welcome show, we came back to our cabin to collapse and get a bit of rest before the next full day at sea.

This morning we woke up and went to have a little bit of breakfast from the buffet. I started out with a slice of pizza, and then a bowl of fruit from the buffet. Next, we consulted our list of stuff to do and ended up going to the shore excursion talk. We got some tips on what to expect on the excursions and some descriptions of some of the excursions. We'd already chosen ours, so we just went to listen and see if there was any good advice for us to check out.

After that we ended up heading to the dining room for lunch. I didn't realize that we'd have a formal dining option for lunch, but it turns out there was, and I'm glad we checked that out. It was rather good! I had some more pan seared fish (a different one this time), with some california rolls for an appetizer and creme caramel for dessert. Mmm, tasty. Although the california rolls were strangely sweet.

Unfortunately, lunch made us miss the Bar Mixology session. Whoops. But we did go on to a wine tasting seminar which was rather cool. We tried 5 different types of wines. Two whites, a white zinfandel, and two reds. I learned a little bit, but still have a lot to learn about wine.

We hung out for a bit before heading to high tea back at the piano bar. We got some tea and several little tea snacks. Lots of little tasty things including cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon on toast, and a bunch of sweets. After tea, we went up and played some win, lose, or draw -- pretty much pictionary. Our team won. Both Diane and I contributed a bunch to our cause by stealing a point from the other team with "Jockey", and drawing birdhouse (me), walking the dog (diane), and sandcastles (also diane). That was pretty fun.

So now it's just about time for the captain's reception and I need to change into my formal clothes (just a nice shirt and pants). It's been a fun couple days and we're both excited to hit Cabo San Lucas in the morning to do our zipline and rapelling session. It should be lots of fun!


One Fine Saturday

Yesterday came and went in a big crazy-fun blur. I'm still trying to settle myself down and let the fact that I've been married to the most wonderful woman I can imagine sink in. I don't really have time at this moment to talk my way through the whole day, but before I forget them, I just want to jot down some quick highlights from the big day from my perspective, and also thank the people who volunteeered for various tasks and who all did a fantastic job. Highlights from the weekend:

  • There was a lot of people at the rehearsal dinner that Diane's parents put on for us. It was very welcoming.
  • Food at the rehearsal dinner was beef or chicken burgers, with all the fixings. Salads and beans were also available in plenty. Dessert was a full out sundae and banana split bar. I was reminded of Marble Slab's selection.
  • In the middle of the rehearsal, my Grandpa says the line where anyone who might object to the marriage say something. A couple seconds later a huge crack of thunder goes over our heads. I look up at the ceiling and say... "Oh really?".
  • Several of the groomsmen stayed over at my place the night before the wedding. It was a whole lot better to spend it with some good friends. I think I would've had a whole lot more trouble getting to sleep if I was on my own all night building up the next day in my head. They helped keep me calm and relaxed (as much as possible anyways).
  • Waiting in the church for the Bride and her bridesmaids to arrive was pretty fun. The guys hung out in a side room and it was a little surreal to be getting so many sneaky waves as the many people I knew passed by the room's door.
  • I'm not used to being the centre of attention.
  • When the warning came in that the bride was there, I had to leave the groomsmen and wait by myself in the choir room. That wait was a bit more awkward since I didn't really have anyone to talk to.
  • Kepi fell over partway through the ceremony. Many jokes were made at his expense throughout the evening, but he was really good natured about it. I had no forewarning of it happening, but people later mentioned that he had gone pretty pale.
  • My Grandpa, who performed the service for us, forgot to let me kiss my bride. In my confusion, I asked a little louder than I might've, and the whole congregation had a chuckle. Hey, that's what I signed up for! ;-) We got our kiss in after the signing of the register.
  • Despite our note at the bottom of the bulletin asking for a moment to reflect with each other in private immediately after the service, Rebecca (one of the bridesmaids) barged in to our room. We learned later that she hadn't seen a bulletin. Whoops! It was okay though.
  • The ceremony took roughly 35-40 minutes.
  • The congregation exited the church, and hung around to see us leave the church and enter the limo. That was another surreal moment - once again I'm not used to all the attention.
  • I've never been in a limo before. It was a bit tight for 10 people. It was fun, but I probably wouldn't sign up for it again. It was nice to be able to see all the wedding party members between photoshoot locations.
  • Jason Kasumovic, our photographer, was fantastic.
  • Family formal photos were taken next to the St Albert Public Library.
  • The weather couldn't be better (thank you for not raining on us!).
  • Other shooting locations included the Muttart Conservatory grounds and the Royal Alberta Museum grounds.
  • Lunch was picked up from the Upper Crust Cafe. Absolutely wonderful sandwhiches. Two words: cheese bread.
  • Good turnout at the reception. It was good to see so many friends/family there.
  • The head table was a very tight fit.
  • The food was excellent.
  • First course: spinach salad with feta cheese, held in place by a long cucumber slice around it all.
  • Main course: salmon and roast beef. The salmon was a bit overcooked I thought, but the beef was very tender and delicious.  We heard the salmon at the buffet was pretty good though, and we hope that was the case.
  • Dessert: A wonderful strawberry shortcake in several layers. Absolutely delicious.
  • Speeches: Short and sweet. Some touching words from everyone.
  • Note to other people planning their wedding: don't wing the bride/groom speech. Also, I actually wanted to say that we had planned big-O(wedding) -- that's a computer science joke.
  • Second note: have someone organize the details of the reception and come up with a schedule. It's very hard to organize and not be frantic at the same time when things don't quite go smoothly. Let someone else trustworthy handle the details and sit back and enjoy.
  • First dance: Diane and I were a bit rusty with our waltzing, and we had to avoid tripping on her dress. But eventually we got going.
  • Rickroll: Yup, we pulled off a rickroll. I didn't hear many comments about it though, so I wonder if people actually liked it. Obviously a bunch of people were very confused.
  • Slideshow: Absolutely wonderful job by my sister who I kind of threw the job at her at way too late notice.
  • Dancing: I'm glad people got some serious dancing in. It was good that it got some use.
  • DJs: Dan was absolutely fantastic at the DJ booth. Props to Ryan and Brad too for helping, and Ryan for his adventures getting the equipment there and returned.
  • It was a lot of fun to visit with a lot of the guests. I'm sorry if we didn't get a chance to talk to you before you had to leave -- I'm sure there's a lot of you that didn't get a chance to talk to us.
  • Last dance: Danced to Norah Jones, Come Away with Me. There was less than 20 people left at that point, and we helped close out the joint. Not too bad I think.

I just want to say that it was an amazing day, and this is just a sampling of what I was thinking about throughout the day. I want to also make sure to thank some of the important people who made the evening possible:

  • The Parents. Thanks to both sets of parents, who took care of more details than I can imagine. They were extremely supportive of our desire to run the show our way for the most part, but they were also very helpful in making sure we had details we hadn't thought of figured out. I don't really want to know what all went in to making everything look so wonderful.
  • My Grandparents. I am extremely fortunate to still have my wonderful grandparents around to not only see my wedding, but also play an important role. My Grandfather got a one day licence to wed us (he no longer has an active licence since he retired from ministry), and was very supportive in helping us find the right choices for the ceremony we eventually performed. My Grandmother is simply awesome :)
  • The wedding party (and as a subset, both Diane's and my siblings): They put up with our lengthy photoshoot, as well as the huge number of tasks that we put on them with little to no notice. Thank you so very much!
  • Many thanks to our Ushers: Rhianne and Brendan.
  • Thanks to Simone who arranged the beautiful cello quartet that played at the ceremony!
  • Nolan played a couple of key roles: he videotaped the ceremony for us, and he provided the projector to play the slideshow on. Thank you very much for your help!
  • A huge thank you goes to Ryan Falkenbe(rg), who endured quite a saga to get the audio equipment to the venue on time. Thankfully, his jeep didn't lose a window! Ryan put up with a bunch of harrassment from me to get the audio equipment booked, and transported.
  • Thank you to Paul Myroon who did a very good job displaying his MC talents.
  • Thank you to Dan, Brad, and Ryan who were in and around the DJ booth for most of the night playing some great tunes. I understand Dan took over the show, so he deserves a great deal of the credit. But thanks to the other guys for stepping in as well!
  • A big thank you the the group of people who helped setup the hall. Pam and Madeleine were two people who helped our mothers setup the hall. I sure hope I'm not missing people here, but we weren't there to see that setup.
  • Thanks to Jodie for pouring out the tea for our tea ceremony.
  • Thanks to An, Jasmine and Crystal for watching the guestbook and the gift table.
  • Thanks to Anita for setting up the key prank.
  • Megan did a fantastic job with the slideshow too. We kind of threw it at her last minute and she did a fantastic job. She even managed to figure out a way to pace through the slides so that the end of Diane's pictures happened at the end of the first song, and the slideshow ended right at the end of the 3rd song. She was at the laptop hitting the right arrow key to show the next slide.
  • Jason, our photographer, spent 12 hours of his day following us around and posing us for some excellent shots. We're really looking forward to seeing the results of his work!
  • Our very pretty wedding cake was designed and created by Claudia Kalogirou, who brought the cake herself and arranged it and everything!
  • Diane's mom's friend Marilyn drove up from Red Deer to help decorate and serve the rehearsal feast, Diane's neighbour Jane-Anne made us a potato salad with radishes carved into flowers, and Diane's Aunt Janet pitched in too despite feeling a little under the weather.
  • And a very big thankyou to everyone that came to enjoy the ceremony and/or the reception. It was so good to see so many faces -- some that I hadn't seen in far too long. We are so happy that so many people were able and willing to come out and see us get married and to enjoy some food and dance with us. Thank you so very much.

I sincereley hope I haven't forgetten anyone. At this point in time I'm pretty tired, but I wanted to make sure that this got out soon. There are just two last things I wanted to say before I ran off to go collapse.

1) Since you got this far, you deserve a reward. Jason has posted a sampling of the photos he took at the wedding. They are posted at his blog. Go there and enjoy! We're incredibly happy with the results.

2) I just want to say that this blog will be sticking around for the long haul. We're going to use it as a way to communicate how we're doing while we're in Ireland. Our experiences, our photos, and our thoughts will all be shared here for you to read. I hope that at least some people find this a useful way to learn about how we're doing overseas. Feel free to comment liberally on the posts we make!

Thank you everyone! It was a wonderful day.