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Pretty Wall

alley walk in TO: great memories, great art, great city

CNE or The Ex

rides and fun and laughs and long exposure more here

Old lady

Cuba is a great place to take pictures of people

Fall. Colourfull boots

Always go for colourfullness!

After rain

After rain haziness effect is pretty!

6:45 PM

It's in you to give

Finally I donated blood! After few failed attempts few years ago and being discouraged because of that I finally made it to the donation center.
It was a busy place. I came in under #67. Had to wait for quite a bit. Then got a low blood pressure according to the results and had to sit down, eat sodium filled snacks and drink high sugar juices in the resting area. While doing that saw my colleague who told me that he has been donating non stop since he was 17 and has made about 80 donations so far. My second check showed normal blood pressure and I went into one of these comfy dentist-like chairs.
Somehow I expected the experience to be more painful, I expected to have dizziness, to feel sick or have some other issues. But it was super quick and in 4min I gave my 500ml.
Chatted with few volunteers and they all told me that they can't donate due to anemia. Which is low iron in the body. That is something I was worried I'd have since I'm a female (monthly loss of blood is very not helpful) and a vegetarian (no carnivore iron full diet) but I passed that test easily.

As a first time donor I was stickered with that title and got my 1st time donor pin. Next pin I was told is given at the 3rd session and then 10th, 25th and so forth. And then there are plaques and certificates... this is a cute way of making people feel important and valued.

7:38 PM

Weekend with Red Cross

So this weekend I spent very efficiently.
Both sat and sun were dedicated to learning first aid and CPR techniques.
Reasons that made me go for this:
- I discovered that my PWA (Personal Wellness Account) covers this course and I want to use up all the money I have there (ski boots covered most of it)
 - After the course is completed (successfully) you get a certificate in FirstAid/CPR that might be needed when considered for hiring (e.g. work with kids (can't imagine doing that but who knows))
- Generally a great knowledge to have in life to be able to safe people around you.

We started the sat session by introducing ourselves and giving reasons for taking this course. out of 17 people only my friend and I were doing it not as a requirement of our current job but just for our own knowledge. That somehow immediately put us in good books of our instructor. Both of us were also the most positive charged in the room (w/o constantly complaining about the length of the course and without constant boredom written across of our faces) and we were also the most involved in the course (we would volunteer to show things explained to us, speak up etc). Anyway our instructor definitely loved us as she kept on joking with us from time to time when we were working on hands-on assignments.
Some people were...mmm... strange. Some answers they were giving to questions asked by the instructor were crazy (or so it seemed to my friend and me). E.g.:
- at what age can we consider a child to be developed as an adult so the same CPR techniques can be applied as to a full grown adult? Answer: - 2 years old. (mmm...really?)
- what are some examples of emergencies when EMS should be called? Answer: - Ocean (mmm ocean what?....)

there were tons more but these are the only few I actually remembered as they shocked me.... ahahaha

some comments during the break behind the door were bizarre as well:
 - in response to multiple complaints that this course is too long: - she [the instructor] could have adjusted it to one day long but she just doesn't want to (mmm.... it's a standard 2 day long course, people designed by red cross or EMS or whoever but not her personally)
 - a comment about how the final test will be organized: - it will be an open book test and we will be answering the questions in groups (mmmm... honestly do you want a person who might later someday save your life to be certified based on the open book test assisted by another 10 dummies around him/her?[I might have actually asked this rhetorical question out loud... which might have caused a very awkward silence...])

We ended the course with a 50 multiple choice questions test that took two of us (and few other people) only 30min to accomplish (I ended up making only 1 mistake) the rest of the group stayed behind....
The only thing I hope for is that most of these people will never ever have to save my life... judging by how much they were interested to learn the material I really wouldn't trust them with my life...

6:54 PM

Bike sold - success!

YAY! Sold my bike for the price listed on Kijiji.
that's one success and few more to go.
I'll miss it a tiny bit. but not much.

I still have my faithful supercycle which traveled with me for many and many kilometers! Major trips that were accomplished on my $100 supercycle: TO-NF (about 145km), NF - TO(145km), NF-NiagaraOnTheLake-NF (50km), TO-Port Credit-and partially back to TO (200km), few rides on DVP (50km and 75km), and tons of city cycling. It was tuned up with thin road tires, had issues with brakes and wheels... but it's still here and performing well=))

9:28 PM

Getting rid of stuff

Berlin by Neesa R.
Berlin, a photo by Neesa R. on Flickr.

You would think getting rid of things is a pretty easy thing to do. But it definitely isn't so when you're actually trying to get rid of things fast.
Well in my case I actually am trying to sell some stuff I haven't used ever or used few times knowing that when I'm back in a year I probably won't suddenly start using that particular thing and I better off having some cash now vs useless apparatus in a year.
So a list of things I posted on CL and Kijiji:
- bicycle
- tent
- ski boots
- camera lens & camera bag

Somehow I was sure I'll get a ton of response for the ski boots.... but it's all quiet... I guess people are not in winter mood yet, eh?... the only item that actually stirred some interest is the bicycle... and while one person already bailed (after we spent time exchanging 20 text messages back and forth trying to organize a meeting just for him to realize that one can't take a bike on the subway during rush hours and then that person wanted me to deliver this bike across the city at 8am???) and the next one is tomorrow.... fingers crossed I'll get rid of the bike.

But if in my case the pricing might be what holds people off jumping and tearing things our of my hands, in my friend's case, who came here just for 10 days or so to clean up her storage, the stuff is FREE! She's giving most of her stuff for free in hopes to get rid of them faster. She posted that on CL/Kijiji/FB and not only people didn't flock to that immediately .. they were actually bailing.... this is mindboggling.

Now.... what else should I get rid of?....

8:44 PM

How to lose and gain faith in humanity in one day

It's interesting how in a span of a day your perception of humanity might change drastically from completely negative and to absolutely positive.
I read this article earlier and was shocked at what some people can do to those around them. to those they supposedly promised to love and protect for the rest of their lives together.
And I especially don't understand when evil things like what's described in the article happen to kids. How can anything be their fault if they are not making any decision yet?...
and I'm referring to this acid attack in iran here

But then at the same time there are people who make me proud being a human being. These are shots taken all over Russia from driver's POV.

And even more faith in humanity I have after reading this about adopted kids. And of course this is only one side to the whole adoption situation and there are kids who are molested or abandoned after they're adopted.... but does that mean adoption has to be banned?....

Faith in humanity remains... for now....

9:09 PM


IT ARRIVED!!!! Came home today to face a fat brown envelope, stuffed with my medical/travel insurance policy, tickets booking confirmation, an Australia magnet and Australia bookmark and a thank you card from my travel agent Ryan=)
IT IS HAPPENING!!!! ta-da-da-da!

Few words about the travel agency. At some point of my Oz research I found this website that connects you with country specilized travel agencies near you. If you pick TO there are only two agencies that are located here and specialize in Downunder. I contacted both, but the quote sent by Downunder Travel was considerably cheaper.

Here is the list of agencies I contacted and round trip fare offered to me with a one week stopover in LA:
Downunder Travel $1845.34 + $75 service fee + $250 fee for a date change on the return ticket*
Vision 2000 Travel Group $1756.94 + $25 ticketing fee + $425  fee for a date change on the return ticket
Aspire Downunder  $1753.43 +$300 fee for a date change on the return ticket
TravelCuts  $2196.51 (didn't even ask about the fees... too expensive as is)

*Note from the travel agent: Now since you are flying with Qantas and we have a great relationship with them there is a very good chance that we can get the $250.00 waived and you would only have to pay the $75.00 (plus any change in fare/upgrade).

So if I'm actually going to have the date change fee waived (all saved in emails and I'll fight for this!) then I got myself the cheapest possible option flying Quantas both ways!

And then there were of course all these amazing search engines:
Google Flights
and bazillion of others but I decided that it's just less stressful to organize all the tickets with the stopover via one agent and also easier that way to change the return date so it will be them working out all the connection routes for me.

Oh yeah, I also got medical insurance with the same travel agent. All of the above offered approximately same price for medical+travel insurance for a year - of about $700-750.

I feel very poor now

8:48 PM

Winter elements

I might say this a bit too often... but I LOVE WINTER! yes yes yes it wasn't a typo. Winter is when I ski! when I fly down a mountain/hill with adrenalin rushing through my blood and endorphines popping up in my brain. With all that said introducing my new awesome piece (or rather two pieces) of winter equipment!
they are called Dalbello Krypton Lotus and I'm in love officially!=)
Isn't it nice when your company covers your sports equipment purchases?.... I will miss this side of working here... oh well...
It's a bit sad to bid adieu to my old faithful pair of Rossignol XenaX8 but they served me well since the winter of 08/09. they went with me to Quebec and Banff, they were worn in rain and on ice, they took me through races and to half pipes. it's time for a change....
also great review of my old boots HERE. My skies are now in tune up and rossignol boots are on sale online. I'm all ready for winter.... which I will have to miss.... mixed feelings...

4:08 PM

Rainy Day

night TTC by Neesa R.
sometimes rainy day turns into a photographic treasure. mistiness left after all the moisture in the air. a bit of darnkess combined with long exposure. fast moving lit up objects and a bit of patience.
this photo wasn't taken today. but today definitely was a loooong rainy day. because of that my so expected trailblazer club's ride in barrie was cancelled. We were supposed to ride 75km along the abandoned railway tracks

I joined the club just last week but it was on my to-do list for aaaages ever since few friends who are captains there told me about it. This is a great incentive. It allows vision impaired people learn and enjoy cycling and is a great social club in general. Really hope I can make it to the Rouge valley ride on the 5th of october!

9:38 AM

Talented kids

I've always wondered how do some kids get so seriously amazing in sports. I watch kids on ski hills and they are usually doing great. some of them are performing mindbogling tricks with jumps and backflips at the age when I didn't even know about skiing. I see kids rock climbing and some of them are superstar monkeys that can hold onto anything and swing their bodies in a way I didn't think is possible. Then there are few amazing kids in capoeira that I saw perform tricks that only experienced capoeira instructors do.
and then there are dancing kids that dance so perfect that it takes your breath away. and this video of B-Girl Terra who's only 6 years old is what reminded me of these thoughts
And when I see these kids I always wonder: is it something they actually like to do? do they have silly childhood like we all have? is it something their parents force them to do to piggy back on their child's potential fame?
Or are these questions irrelevant and it's just great that they're so amazing in what they do never mind the way  they achieved it?
I don't have the answers to any of these but I do somehow always feel a bit sad (along with amazed) for these kids because I feel that they are missing out on childhood the way childhood should be - silly, reckless, happy, no 9am-5pm trainings, etc etc etc

but anyway. the video of this girl dancing is just mindblowing!

3:00 PM


soooo.... last post over a year ago... is that how consistent I can be? I'm sure I can be better.... now my mind is consumed with the ideas of creating a travel blog. I also need to make sure that I will update that new blog on a regular basis. Which bring me to a question: will I have enough of something to discuss on a regular basis? will that be interesting to anyone to read? will that be useful for the humanity (ok that last one is only a side wish... I doubt I can create humanity changing blog) anyway this post caught my eye recently and I want to experiment making cookies too

9:07 PM

Getting prepared....

so what have I been reading for the past few days? oh many interesting books. and all of them are about Australia, Oz, DownUnder=)
these travel guides are full of useful information. Most of them I took from the library. and one I borrowed from a good friend.
So here is what I am reading:
Australia gap pack : all the facts and expert advice for gap working in Australia. 2006 
Gap years for grown ups New ed., rev. & updated. 2006 by Susan Griffith
Work your way around the world 15th ed. 2011 by Susan Griffith 
Lonely Planet Guide: Australia 15th ed 2011
Rough Guide Special: First time around the world


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