Tuesday, April 28, 2009


...Moncton style.


Monday, April 27, 2009

I say it's my birthday...

So - it's my birthday today. I was born into this world the same year as the Canadian flag, and we are both 44 this year, although the flag is a wee bit older than me, having been inaugurated on February 15, 1965. I was inaugurated a little after 1a.m. on April 27, 1965, after my parents went to a drive-in movie (they can't remember what movie) and my mother consumed most of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. And, après le poulet, le deluge.

4 being an unlucky number in China, my 44th - double-4 - year is not expected to be very auspicious, according to my Chinese co-worker, "but in practice it almost never happens like that". Well, that's something, and also she gave me a beautiful Indonesian carved cat which is now overseeing my office from a privileged vantage point.

Husband surprised me mid-morning with a beautiful Dieffenbachia plant (we have a tradition of giving living plants, not cut flowers), which I will do my very best not to kill. (My mother, who has such a green thumb that all the townspeople in the village where I grew up would bring her their dying plants to adopt and save, grew a Dieffenbachia which became so enormous that it encroached perilously onto my Father's Chair - you know, The Dad's Chair - to the point where my father, who knew this was a battle he couldn't win, would take to occasionally choking random branches of the thing with his bare hands while he was watching tv, just as an outlet for his frustration.) Husband also gave me my birthday card, which involved a cow wearing a sombrero and saying "¡HOLA!" and a pun involving "MOO-ey bueno". Hard to top that.

My boss took me and that same Chinese co-worker - whose birthday was last week, although I believe she is turning 14 - to lunch at Chez Riz, our favourite restaurant here. And this afternoon, Husband returned again with a gift he'd forgotten when he brought the plant - a Hello Kitty mouse. Who, who could conceive of such a cunning thing?

Husband and I went out for drinks after work, and all-around, this has been a truly wonderful birthday. We're going shopping for my Big Gift next weekend, since Husband wanted to give me clothing, and we all know what a nightmare-mangrove-swamp shopping for women's clothing can be for men.

But maybe we won't buy clothing after all. I've kind of had my eye on this.

Given that Canadian womens' lifespan is now 82.6 years, it appears that I've statistically run out only about half my time. Can this be right? I'm sure, given my "special" health issues, that I don't necessarily have my whole life to date to run over again. And, of course, a lot of parameters have changed.

But still. Only halfway to the finish line and having this much fun. It's a pip, isn't it?


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Do you have good Facebook etiquette?

Find out with this important educational film.

Guaranteed to bring back... some kind of memories...

And educational to boot!


Thursday, April 23, 2009


I mentioned that we went snorkeling at a coral reef during our day-trip. We got the pictures back from the disposible underwater cameras and they came out pretty good!

Colourful fishies, of course. Hard to get photos of them, though!

The biggest surprise at this small coral reef was the variety of the types of coral... it comes in so many shapes and sorts. Fan coral, elkhorn coral, brain coral, lettuce coral... an amazing living underwater garden.

Who dat? (Notice the U.N.B. t-shirt - representin'!)
Husband wears a t-shirt while snorkeling because otherwise, it's really, really easy for guys to get badly sunburned on their backs. You're out there for ages with your back exposed, the water washes at your sunblock, and you feel so cool because of the water you don't realize your back is burning.

I mentioned that this key is kind of an eco-destination. It is, it was made crystal clear by our guides, ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN to touch the coral.

Cuba. About as much fun as you can have legally in the water.


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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Oh, God. It's not funny, 'cause it's true.

Prague's Franz Kafka International Named World's Most Alienating Airport

If only it was only Prague's Franz Kafka International Airport.



Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cayo Iguana

On Thursday we took a half-day trimaran trip to nearby Cayo Iguana. The marina was bright and beautiful in the morning sun.

You get on and off the thing by walking along these nets - quite a challenge with my balance issues! Plus, of course, I was deaf for the whole trip.

Husband told the two-man crew and they could not have been kinder or more solicitous. They personally walked me over the net every time we got on or off the boat.

This is a shot of another trimaran identical to the one we were sailing on - ours was the "Doris".

Our fellow-sailors were, as far as I could tell, almost all Argentinians. The mix of fellow-travelers on this trip were Canadians (mostly from Quebec), Argentinians, Italians, and Britons.

The approach to Iguana Island. As you can see, it was pretty busy on the day we went.

The iguanas are literally everywhere, and they are entirely aloof, completely ignoring the tourists excitedly snapping photos of them.

"They have complete aplomb," I said to Husband.

It's one of the most inhospitable places I've ever seen; many metres of volcanic rock which is quite hard to even walk over, before you get to scrubby greenery. The Air Canada agent had warned us when we booked the excursion to wear solid footwear, and we were wearing swim shoes - snug shoes with thick rubber soles. Others weren't so well forewarned - or else didn't listen...

...such as the very large man I saw who was wearing nothing but a black Speedo and a pair of cheap red flip-flops.

No, I didn't photograph him. I would have been... just... wrong.

"Why would even iguanas want to live here?" I wondered out loud.

I did a very poor job of photographing the many, many seabirds we saw, although take my word for it - this is a remarkable place. (I'm still looking for that book on Cuban birds in English... I'd even settle for Spanish at this point...)

On this trip we also visited a "natural pool" (a large area in a bay with a white-sand bottom that is only waist-deep, where the water is oh, so warm) and snorkeled at a coral reef. Those pictures were taken with disposible underwater cameras, which we're waiting to have developed.

It was one of the most fun things we've ever done. Happy campers!


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The Kitty City Gazette

You cat owners (and you know who you are) are doing your feline companions a grave disservice if you have not subscribed to The Kitty City Gazette. The only newspaper that gives the hard news from a cat's-eye perspective, the Gazette is a key part of the informed feline's day.

Fortunately it's available online, and your cat too can read and appreciate such timely and relevant stories as "Your Mother Was Right, Evidence Shows If You Make A Face Long Enough It Will Stick", "Donald Trump Fires Cat For Being A 'Smartass' On Latest Celebrity Apprentice" , and "Really Big Spider Seen On Local Wall".

“Neighbor cat Spaghetti, a 3-year-old, spayed, Scottish Fold was terrified at the thought of a spider on the loose, especially one so large in size.

“I am horrified that something like this could happen in this neighborhood.” said Spaghetti, “I moved here with my family because we thought that kind of thing just didn’t happen here. Now, with the economy the way it is, we will be stuck here under these conditions.”

And believe me, there isn't a soul among us who will not relate, and relate wholeheartedly, to "Most Boring Meeting Ever, Held Today In Seattle".

That's news you can use, my friends.



Friday, April 17, 2009

The mouse that roared.

In case you've been in a cave for the past week or so, please check out the wildly-viral video of an apparent-underdog who soared.

She's 47 years old, frumpy, unemployed, appears a bit scattered, and lives with a cat named Pebbles.

Susan Boyle is all of us.

And she soars.



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Scooting Cayo Largo

On Tuesday we rented scooters and took off to explore the island on our own. We drove past what must be one of the world's smallest international airports, Vilo Acuña International Airport (CYO). (That's actually the airport in the background.)

I've driven bikes before but this was my first time on a scooter. Hella fun!

Husband about to pull over to find out why the hell I stopped this time. (I stopped to take the picture of him.)

We also visited the created community of Cayo Largo, where the people who work on the island are housed during their shifts. These are some of the buildings.

This yellow building is the medical clinic. The marina is also located here.

I've no idea what this building is... it appears to be a repurposed church, but since my understanding is there never was a post-colonial town on this key (there was Aboriginal inhabitation at one time) I can't imagine what it's doing there. And of course I forgot to ask one of the Cubans before I left.

We drove down possibly the worst road for two-wheeling in Cuba, the sand road to Paradisus Beach. A bit white-knuckle but ... interesting.

We also discovered other interesting sections of byway, such as this place, which we dubbed "Eric the Half-a-Road".

Finally an important shot in any ronniecat report on Cuba - the black-and-white semi-feral kitty who ruled over our section of the resort. We would see the maids cooing to him as they went about their chores in the morning. He would sit companionably on the steps of the villas as they went back and forth cleaning the rooms. There was at least one other cat, sort of a patchwork/tabby, who I saw, but that seemed to be the extent of it for kitties.

Coming soon - ronnie and Husband get up-close-and-personal with some very cool iguanas.


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I knew it would come to this one day...

funny pictures of cats with captions


Monday, April 13, 2009

Cayo Largo del Sur

Our fourth trip to Cuba was to yet another very different destination. Cayo Largo del Sur is a key off the northwest coast of the main island and is off the beaten track for most tourists.

Much less developed than other destinations, its attractions include many kilometres of undeveloped beach, protected ecological features, and fascinating reptile and bird life.

This Google Earth map is borrowed from CayoLargo.net, a website developed by a couple from Quebec who are fans of the destination and who have compiled the best single website about this largely-undiscovered gem.

The island was uninhabited when a handful of European resort developers got permission for limited construction after Cuba was opened to foreign tourism investment partnerships. (The other "partner" being, universally, the government of Cuba.) Today there is a small airport which allows direct flights from Canada, Europe and South America, a marina (deep-sea fishing is very popular and a number of private yachts were moored there), and a small town which has been created to house resort staff who fly in for multi-week shifts from surrounding communities. (We met several who live in communities on the nearby Isla de Juventud.)

Today there are three resorts operating along Playa Lindamar and Playa Blanca, and a handful of businesses which support and service them and their clients.

The result is a place which offers a traveler a wide variety of experiences all within a few kilometres of each other. On any given day you can just enjoy the resort experience, with spas, salons, restaurants, bars, and the pool; hang out on the beach, including areas at the fringes of the main beach which are unofficial naturist areas; rent a scooter, jeep or bicycle and roam along the island's roads; wander for hours along kilometres of undeveloped beach; take a deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, or snorkeling tour; or take one of the many available excursions to places like the Isla de Juventud, Havana, or Cayo Iguana (Iguana Island) - among others.

I mentioned protected ecosystems - the dunes between the resort developments and the actual beach are protected, and signs remind tourists to stick to designated walkways when going from their rooms to the surf.

In fact, it would be very hard not to; the route would be very rough going if not for the boardwalks that have been created to get the surf-seeker from room to beach. Note the sign urging parents to take childrens' hands. It's quite a steep drop off these walkways at midpoint! (The land drops off just after that copse of bushes.)

These walkways are strung along at intervals between the developments and the beach.

Every single day in this place was a whole new adventure. We did so much in seven short days that I'll need to blog it in bite-sized pieces.

For now, we're all back home again, the four of us, and work tomorrow. But a head full of incredible memories again.


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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Three Cups of Tea, Part 1

I've been doing some very good reading lately, about which much more later.
(I believe Deacon Peterson will recognize the book in this shot.)

What I was reading happened to be exceptional.

But even if it hadn't been, one could hardly complain about the view. Or some of it, anyway.

Much more later, once I stop stop shivering -


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Thursday, April 09, 2009

A small reminder.

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in."

- Leonard Cohen

Monday, April 06, 2009

Something to remember for my next vacation...

fail owned pwned pictures

...excessive alcohol consumption can lead to promiscuous undersea fish-kissing.

Found at FailBlog, a collection of epic fails.

(I know. Nouning weirds verbs.)