Saturday, January 31, 2009


It was great to be in Canada again (or more specifically, Alberta) to visit the family, despite the economic gloom. Economically things seem to be getting pretty bad. Housing prices are going down, unemployment is going up, and people are generally nervous about the future. All in all Canada made it through the sub-prime mortgage fiasco quite well, federal banking regulators did not allow sub-prime mortgages in Canada and the banking system was better leveraged than in the US, but that in-and-of-itself is not enough to protect Canada from the spill over in the US economy. When you export over 80% of your goods to the United States any economic decline in the US will affect you greatly. Until the US can turn itself around Canada is in for bleak times. Apparently the government is budgeting for a deficit this year -- the first one in over a decade.

Despite previously mentioning that housing prices were going down the prices in Calgary and surrounding area were still absurdly high. I saw real estate ads in Canmore advertising condos for $800,000+, which for a town of maybe 15,000 people seemed really ridiculous to me. You could get a decent place in Vancouver for that price.

I spent the holiday going tobogganing, swimming, shopping, doing a day trip to Canmore, waffle breakfast at a family friend's, and enjoying a Chinese New Year dinner with my brother's in-laws. I also received as a Christmas gift a facial and massage from a men-only spa. It was a surprise, I was only told one morning to be ready to go somewhere at 9:30 and it was not until I was ready that my sister-in-law told me where I was going. My brother Mark had a facial and massage done at the same time as well. Liked the massage, the facial was so-so but my face did feel smoother so I guess it did work.

My niece Karis is now 4-years old and had developed a bit of attitude from when I saw her last year. It was so funny, whenever she would get upset (which sometimes was over the most minor things) she would give you this look of utter indignation then run to her room sobbing. It was so primadonna/drama queen you couldn't help but laugh. She would even open the door of her bedroom occasionally to make sure that you could hear she was crying. It was so cute. My nephew Aiden is on the verge of walking and was overall a happier baby than last year, which my sister-in-law credits mostly to him moving to solid foods. He was also able to shake his head "no" which was handy during meals as when he was finished eating he would just shake his head when you put the food to his mouth. Mostly though he liked to grab whatever item was handy and hand it to you, usually with a "Da!". He really liked to do this and I'm sure if you let him he would hand you every toy and loose piece of paper in the room. He also drools a lot so I liked referring to him as "drool monster". He could soak through a bib in under a half-hour.

That reminds me my first night in Calgary I was given another surprise gift -- babysitting duty! My brother and his wife had to visit a potential school for Karis that evening so they left me with the kids. Now I have been a lifelong bachelor but to perhaps your surprise I was well versed in how to take care of a four-year-old and a one-year-old.

Yeah right ... I'm a bachelor! I had no idea what I was doing! Thankfully the kids were good and we spent the evening playing. I was glad that Aiden's diaper didn't need changing because I had no idea how to do it and my brother didn't leave any instructions anyway. Well it turns out that Aiden's diaper actually did need changing, I just didn't realise it. That, and he didn't cry either. Whoops, sorry about that Aiden. Despite the red butt I still say you we're better off waiting for your parents to come home anyway.

One thing I should not have done during the holiday was eat as much as I did. My diet went out the window for the holidays (as usual) as I generously ate nice meals, wonderful deserts, and excellent Christmas baking. *sigh* I seem to really lack of self-control when it comes to food, especially sweets. Anyway I am back in Doha and getting back on track. Today's dinner was steamed vegetables with a bit of pasta. I just have to make sure I do not dip into the treats at work. I do miss Tim Horton's coffee though, we were having it every day.

As for my knees my right knee is doing okay. Not great, but okay. I was inconsistant with exercising during the holidays so I am getting that back on track as well. Left knee has not had problems for well over a month which makes me a happy camper. Just gotta lose some weight.

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