I was just about to go to bed and noticed something odd through the window of our apartment. I can't see anything! We're on the 29th floor and we can normally see about a dozen other condo buildings all of which are really close by. At night they're all lit up. Not tonight...there is a huge cloud or maybe fog/mist everywhere and I can't see any of the lights in any of the other buildings. It's pretty freaky because I'm so used to being able to see lots of stuff out my window. It's like the city has disappeared.
Three culture related events this week. First, tonight we saw Riverdance at the Canon theatre courtesy of Patrick and Toni (they had a Mirvish subscription and left the country in the middle of it so we got their tickets to this show). I didn't have high hopes going into the show but it turned out to be really good. It's cool how dancing can express ideas if it's done right. Also the music was fantastic, I could have just listened with my eyes closed and still enjoyed the show.
On Friday Matt and I are seeing Tafelmusik perform "The Creation" by Haydn as part of the "World Creation Festival" where choirs and orchestras from around the world perform the piece in honour of the 200th anniversary of Haydn's death. The classical music world seems to be all about celebrating the deaths of its composers. Strange.
Finally, today I ordered tickets to go see one of the sets of short films in competition at the World Wide Short Film Festival here in Toronto. Film festivals are awesome and shorts are tons of fun. The set I chose has Chris Landreth's new film, The Spine which I'm super excited to see. Chris Landreth also created the film "Ryan" about the amazing NFB animator Ryan Larkin and he actually won the academy award for best short for that film. Another film in the set I got tickets for is the new Wallace and Gromit short, "A Matter of Loaf and Death." Wallace and Gromit are awesome.
I've added nine more photos (all from Ireland) to the Photos section of my website. I'm thinking I should get a maybe get a Flickr account or something instead. Or at least produce a separate RSS feed for my photos.
I've updated my Ireland trip journal with a Google map showing the route we took on our travels. Check it out! Google Maps API programming is fun!
After having most of my friends ridicule me for not having Skype I finally broke down and bought a webcam and installed it on my laptop. I really should have gotten on this years ago but I just didn't for some reason. I have no idea why not but I suspect it's because I'm becoming old and thus resistant to new technologies. Another example of this would be Twitter. I have no intentions of joining that bandwagon any time soon.
If you would like to video chat or whatever with me on Skype my user name is mclausch.
I finally finished my Ireland trip journal so you should go check it out! It's a bit long though so you might want to just look at the pictures.
In addition to the trip details I had a couple general thoughts that I'm going to post here.
First, driving. That was fun/special/insane. It actually wasn't too hard once I got used to the narrow, winding, hilly roads, the roundabouts, and the fact that I was DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD. Plus the manual transmission gave me another thing to worry about. As a result I think the driving took a lot of my energy. I would still rent a car if I did the trip again because it seemed like so much of the cool stuff was difficult and/or time consuming to get to by bus. We really enjoyed the flexibility of being able to go wherever we wanted and whenever we wanted. It meant that we could spend as much or as little time as we wanted in any spot. But this flexibility came at the cost of increased anxiousness around driving and finding parking and making sure the car was safe and had gas and hadn't exploded. I really feel like I accomplished something by successfully driving around a foreign country. It's always cool to learn that you're capable of doing new and scary things. But I'm not looking to repeat that accomplishment any time soon.
Next, cell phones. I paid €10 to have a cell phone in Ireland for the whole week. I used it many times to book accommodations or to get in touch with Rob and Patrick. Sure, I already had the actual phone loaned to me by Rob, but I was just so impressed with the ease of getting it activated. The cell phone people didn't care who I was or where I was going. I gave them cash, they gave me a SIM card and then I had a cell phone. Incoming calls on cell phones are free in most of the civilized world (not Canada...) and so I was able to have several long conversations with Patrick. Being able to call ahead to book rooms meant that we never had to commit to a city or destination until we were sure we could make it. And having a cell phone while driving made me feel a lot less concerned about getting lost or getting in an accident. I wonder if Canada will ever stop being a horrible place to own a cell phone.
Something else I liked about this trip was the fact that we were able to see so many of our friends while traveling. Obviously this trip was a special case because of the wedding, but it was still really awesome. I love traveling and seeing new places but I also love sharing experiences like that with the people I care about. So being able to get together with some of my closet friends at the end of the trip made the whole experience at least ten times better. Everyone was excited and had different stories to share and the whole atmosphere was unbelievably positive. Of course being at the wedding of Patrick and Toni probably brought that out in people but it still made for a wonderful feeling.
I had my new camera along on this trip and for the most part it worked out pretty well. I'm still a bit clumsy with a few of the settings which I found annoying at various points but on the whole I was really happy with the camera's performance. However, now that I'm home I have the same feeling with regard to my photos that I get on all my trips. I spend time trying to make "good" pictures because I like to take good pictures. But that time spent on photography means that I have less time for enjoying the trip. It also means that sometimes I fail to take more general representative photos of certain areas that will help me to remember the trip years from now. I think if I had a just a little point and shoot camera I'd take more of those sorts of photos. I think next time we go on a trip I'll make sure to take both my D90 and a smaller camera and so we each have a camera and Kim will be able to make sure that we get photos that will help with the memories.
Finally, I'd just like to take a minute to talk about the wedding. I haven't been to many weddings in my life (although this year looks like it's shaping up to be the year of the wedding) but this was the best by far and I think it will remain the best for the rest of my life. Toni and Patrick put so much time and effort into planning it and as a result it turned out amazing (at least from my perspective). Not only were all the details and practicalities perfect, but they were also able to create such an wonderful atmosphere. It was fun and extremely joyful. I'm so very happy for them to be together and to be moving on to their next adventure. They truly are some of the best people I've ever met and Kim and I will both miss them dearly. But they'll be coming to our wedding in October so we'll get to see them one last time before they leave for Australia.
I don't have my Ireland blog done yet, however I do have some fun photos from today so I thought I'd make a quick blog post. Anthony and I were both in London this weekend so we made breakfast for my mom this morning for Mother's Day. On the menu was my mom's favourite: eggs benedict. Anthony practiced poaching eggs all week and became very good at it, so the eggs were perfectly done. In addition to the eggs and hollandaise sauce we included asparagus, Fontina cheese and delicious 18 month old prosciutto from the St. Lawrence market in Toronto. To go with the fatty glory of the hollandaise, cheese and prosciutto we added a heaping mound of fresh cut fruit. Check out the photos below!
We're back from Ireland now and we had a super-fantastic time! Driving worked out great and we were able to see so much because of it. The wedding and wedding-related events were amazing as well. It was fun to travel a bit and then meet up with so many friends and have fun in another country. Anyway, I'm very tired at the moment, but I'll be adding a full account of the trip over the coming week.