Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Purpose Of Board Games

I promised that I would write my new philosophy of the purpose of board games tomorrow, but since I am now on my break. I think I will do it now.

Recently, it hit me that the purpose of board games, especially when playing with your family isn't to winning.

The real purpose of the game, especially ones like Pictionary, Malarky or what ever, is the show. You play charades for the show. The reason we dance like a monkey is to put on a little show for our family. If you are the type of person that says, "But I can't dance like a monkey" I have to ask you, why are you wasting my time? I don't care if you feel embarrassed by dancing like a money or think that your monkey dance is lame. It's only lame if you don't put on the show.

Seriously. No one cares if you can't draw worth a darn. Why do we play pictionary every year? So you can tell us you are lame and can't draw. No. We want to see the show. We want to laugh with you. We want to have fun. We want to lose by 5 points to the girls for the 6th year in a row.

It's all about the show. Don't be lame, put on a show.

A few years ago, I went to an anniversary party for Tracie's grandparents. They put on a little skit, they wanted to get a few people to try to start a person pretending to be a lawn mower. The idea being that a few volunteers try until they find one who is a big enough jerk. In any case, I was the first one they asked to volunteer. Of course I am the biggest ham ever, so I ran up and gladly pulled on the imaginary cord.

Afterwards, several people commented about how impressed they were that I just ran right up. It seemed to me at the time that when people are brave enough to put on a skit for 40 people, the least you can do is volunteer happily. Especially when you are only in front of your own family. They will never remember anything embarrassing, but they will remember how much fun they had.

-Gary Milner

The Trip Started Slow...

Because the pumps at the waterslide were broken. We had been planning a big party there, and I even took a day off work. The waterslide guys kept promising that it would be ready to go the next day, then the next, and the next. Like a pump repairman would just come running to fix it on Christmas Eve.

In any case, we left wanting more which means that we are excited about coming back.

-Gary Milner, AKA Mr. Smooth

So This Is Christmas

Best. Christmas. Evar. We headed down to Medicine Hat for Christmas again this year, and I have to admit it started out slow. We were commenting on how nice it was going to be to be in Australia away from the same old, same old. But boy were we wrong! Things picked up quite a bit over the next few days.

We played volleyball, which was fun. Becky, Dann, and I, were on the same team. We won 26-24. Things didn't look so good for a while then we ended up winning after getting a ton of serves right at the end.

The dinner on Christmas eve at my Aunt Celanie's was great as usual. We played pictionary, boys against the girls, and the girls cheated again as usual. By cheated I mean picking up new cards when they didn't like the first one they got.

Christmas morning, we went to my parents first to open presents. It was really fun. Tracie said that she was going to wake my parents up at 7:30 by jumping on their bed, but chickened out because she didn't want to see anyone naked by accident. She started playing Christmas songs on the piano at 8:00 and it worked just like my Dad playing "Turkey" in the Straw on his violin would have worked. The gifts were fun, if a little modest. The thing about my family is that we have everything we need, we buy the things we want, and we don't want other people to waste their money on us. That being said I loved all the presents I received.

After my parent's, we went to Tracie's parent's house to open presents. They had a DIY Christmas. Which I think I can safely say now, that I had originally thought was a dumb idea. I now know that it is a very good idea. The thing is you don't have to go to the mall at all if you are doing it yourself. The presents are just as good, and they are a lot more personal. I really hope they do it again in two years when we are back from Australia. It made the whole presents thing a lot more stress free for us.

It turns out that I am still jealous of other people's presents. Tracie's Dad got a free MP3 player with some purchase that he made, and he gave it to Becky. Just so that everyone knows, I am the nerd in this family, not Becky. I will also always be the nerd. Non-nerds like the rest of you should use CD's not MP3's.

After breakfast at the Daniels'z, we went back over to my parents'z to have Christmas dinner. It was amazing. Having a beautiful young wife, I don't get to eat a lot of roasts or turkeys and so I really enjoyed the turkey dinner at my mothers. The only sad part is that because I have changed my lifestyle I can only have one plate of food.

Speaking of diets, I have lost 25 lbs. It looks like I may have bottomed out at 220, so close yet so far from my goal. I guess I need a new goal. 210 by the end of March. I think that it is a reasonable goal. Especially since my New Year's resolution is no more soda pop. The success I have had over the last few months has really motivated me. I don't gorge myself anymore, and I went from size 40 pants to size 36.

Anyway, this post is getting a little long, so watch out tomorrow for my new philosophy about the purpose of board games.

-Gary Milner, internet superstar.

Friday, December 24, 2004

One Week

A few years ago I was watching a show called "pop up video", a show on Much More Music. The premise of the show was to play music videos and then 'pop up' factoids onto the screen throughout the song. Every time a fact pops onto the screen there is a blooping song.
The Bare Naked Ladies song called, "One Week", was featured on the show, and now when ever I hear the song, I have a compulsion to sing bloop at appropriate moments during the song. It drives Tracie absolutely crazy. Now whenever the song comes on she fastforwards it. She can't stand the bloop.
She can't even listen to the song when I'm not there because the bloops haunt her.

-Gary Milner, Bloop Bloop.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Almost a Thief

I went to Walmart last night to pick up some last minute Christmas accessories, and boy was it ever crowded. I went in, found what I wanted and left. Literally.

I got only steps into the parking lot when I realized that I had just stolen everything I was carrying. I quickly ran back in, got in line and paid. On my way back in, I noticed that the alarm had gone off, and the greeter was looking around outside the doors. It seems that I probably would have gotten away with it, had I wanted to.

No harm was done in the end, but I imagined what would have happened if they had caught me walking out with their stuff. It would have sounded pretty lame for me to say, "It was an accident, I swear!"

-Tracie, Shoplifter Extraordinaire

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


I went down to the court house to pay my two fines two days ago. The two of them added up to four hundred and two dollars and I was feeling quite disgruntled. There were two pleasant looking girls behind the counter and as I handed over four hundred and two dollars in cash. As I handed it over I said: I hope you make good use of this money . Why they replied. Because it means theres not going to be any Christmas at my house this year. I saw them both visably flinch. Then almost in tears they explained that they only work behind the counter and that this is not their fault. I'm glad I don't work there.

Bob Milner, disgruntled fine payer.


Tracie's Dad came to Calgary and helped us put the railing on our deck. It went up beautifully and just in the nick of time.

We got it mostly done in about three hours before I had to go to work, which was lucky because it started snowing later that evening. The railing looks really good and we are very pleased with it.

Christmas Plans

We've been invited to go to the waterslides with my parents in the evening on the 23rd. Celanie invited us to her house for Christmas Eve on the 24th. That's usually not too late of a night though. We generally are done there at about 8:00 or 9:00. It's pretty fun though, She always has something really good to eat and we play pictionary, in teams, boys against the girls. Tracie is a bit of a ringer though, because she knows what to draw to get the people guess the answer and she is a really good guesser too. No one has invited us over first thing Christmas morning yet, but I imagine that we will be going to Tracie's parents house because Becky is the youngest kid of all the in-laws. It's kind of a pain waiting for Megan and Dan to get there though, they seem to like to sleep in quite a bit. My family hasn't said anything about not wanting to wait for us though so it doesn't seem to be a problem. Besides that it's not as if we've purchased presents or anything like that. I feel a little bad about that. I'll have to pick something up before we go down there.

The 26th and 27th we don't really have any plans, but I'm going to try to pick up a shift on the 27th which means we will probably leave on the 26th. Short visits are a little better anyway, because they leave you with the desire to come back instead of wishing you had never come at all.

-Gary Milner, internet superstar

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Here a fee, There a fee, Everywhere a fee fee

Going to Australia is going to be a ton of fun, but it's proving to be fairly costly. I was going over all of the things I've had to spend money on so far, and it's already adding up.

Passport pictures: $11.98 plus $12.99
Passport: $85.00
Nursing registration fee: $50.00
Bank draft: $7.50
Notarized forms: $20.00
Forms by registered mail: $15.00
Visa: $156.00
Chest x-ray: $50.00

And all of these are just my fees...Gary had to pay most of these things too.

This is only the beginning of the headaches, though. We still haven't sold our house, moved our stuff or paid for our plane tickets.

But somehow, the thought of spending next Christmas on the beach makes it all seem worthwhile.


Highbanks Website

I think the backbone of the Highbanks website is done now. All that needs to be done is to add the actual content. That means I need to get one of the other volunteers to write a bunch of paragraphs describing the organization and what it does.

Feel free to click the link and explore around. I need people to help me find broken links and things like that.

-Gary Milner, Internet Superstar

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


My passport arrived in the mail today. They seem to have changed the way they make passports now. Instead of putting an actual photo in them, they scan the photo and print it right in.

I think the old way of having an actual photo was much nicer. The printer they used was calibrated incorrectly, and my face is really red in it. Maybe they were running out of one of the other colours of ink.

In any case my next step is to apply for a holiday visa.

-Gary Milner, Internet Superstar

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


I just read in the news that a study has shown that after men get married they gain weight. They supposedly simply give up trying to keep the weight off . Here's what I say about that: The people who did this study should have stopped to consider that when people get married they are older than they were when they wern't married. This is a universal rule. As people get older this means that time is passing and they have had more time to gain weight. Not only that but their life-style changes. They become less physically active and food is more readily available for several reasons. I've noticed that people gain weight after leaving high school and still others gain weight after leaving college. If the scholarly people who did the afore mentioned study find this out they'll claim that reading is what keeps your weight down.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Food Processor

I bought a food processor the other day for my second go at making salsa. The last time I made it I spent nearly 3 hours in prep time cutting veggies and I just didn't want to invest that much time. In retrospect, I wish I had.

The salsa this time has the consistency of thick soup. I suppose I should have expected it, but I just thought that it would dice up the vegetables to the perfect size, not puree them.

Oh well. Chalk it up to experience.

My First Ticket

Today is both a happy day and a sad day for me. Happy because under Gary's guidance I fought my first ticket, and sad because I had a ticket to begin with.

A few weeks ago while driving over to my aunt and uncle's house, I was merging onto Beddington Blvd where the speed limit was 80 km/h but coming off a road where the limit was only 60. A few hundred metres before the roads merged, cops were hiding under an overpass behind a concrete pillar with their radar. As I got closer, I saw a cop step out into the road and wave me over. I was going 76 in a 60 zone.

I can usually spot cops from miles away when they're trying to be sneaky like that, but it was pitch black outside and I didn't really stand a chance. The ticket was for $103. Ouch. I thought I should get off with a warning since I've never had a ticket before, but the cop thought differently.

This morning Gary and I went to see the Crown Prosecutor. We waited in line for a very long time, but when we finally got in things were quick. He was willing to waive my demerits. I bargained for a reduced fine. Eventually he agreed to give me $30 off, but was very hesitant. He warned me that it was foolish as my insurance would probably go up by that much or more. I'm not too sure what the new insurance policies involve, but it was a chance I was willing to take, especially since I'll be out of the Country before ours is up for renewal.

The guy in line behind us had apparently had tickets for running a red light and stunting (same incident, the cop gave him two tickets), and he was able to get the Crown Prosecutor to go from $499 to $115 and change the offence. He played the poor student card. I was pretty impressed.

-Tracie, 30 dollars richer.....but not really

Saturday, December 11, 2004


I forgot to mention that Tracie applied for her visa yesterday. It cost a small fortune. I'm applying for mine as soon as I get my passport back because you need to know your passport number to apply for the visa.

Things are going good here. Work is going along fine. I looks like I won't be applying for the day job in the shipping office, because the lady who is leaving doesn't start her maternity leave until sometime in May. It seems like it would be kind of lame to take a job with and then quit without even enough time to train the person replacing me. In anycase, with Tracie back in the hospital a little more and myself at the national logistics center, we're pretty happy.

-Gary Milner internet superstar.

Friday, December 10, 2004


We rented a book from the University Library the other day. It was a road atlas for Sydney and a few of the other major cities around there. I'm sure that it was at least 20 years old. Generally books from that part of the library aren't to be loaned out, but Tracie is staff and I'm pretty sure that no one has even looked at that book since the library purchased it. The librarian decided that we would be allowed to take it out. She had to fill out a manual loan form, I'm not sure if that was because the book hadn't been entered into the computer system yet or if we needed a signature to have permission to get it out.

Tracie is currently copying a bunch of the pages so that we can cut and paste a map together while we are waiting for the map store downtown to get their order in. We hope to get a better idea of where the hospitals are in relation to each other so that we can figure out where we are going to live when we get there. If you have an idea of where you want to live you can look up rental properties online and get an idea of how much it costs and what the neighborhood is like.

Tracie's passport arrived in the mail the other day and she was able to pick it up at a Mac's store in the next neighborhood over. I guess they send passports via express mail and we weren't home when the mail carrier came to our house.

-Gary Milner

Monday, December 06, 2004

Three Strikes You're Out

I have tried three times, unsuccessfully, to donate blood to Canadian Blood Services.

The first time I was about 18 or 19. I was told at that time that my iron was too low. I have taken a multi-vitamin supplement everyday of my life since then.

A few years later, confident that my iron levels were high enough, I tried again. This time I made it quite far in their screening process. I filled out some sheets, answered some questions, and read through a booklet. I even had my vital signs taken. I was just about in to go into the next room when the nurse asked me what I had for breakfast that morning. I had not eaten, and so I was sent home.

A few more years have gone by, and this morning I went in for a third time. Some of the nurses that I work with had all decided to donate blood together, since we work on a cancer floor and all we do all day is transfuse blood. Also, one of our colleagues was recently diagnosed with cancer.

When I woke up this morning, I took my multi-vitamin, made a nice breakfast of toast with peanut butter, a banana and a glass of milk. I thought that nothing would stop me today.

Well, I did pass the iron test, I even made it all the way into the donating chair. Almost as soon as the nurse stuck the needle in my arm, I heard her say, "Sorry dear. I missed the vein". I told her to try my other arm, but she said that their policy is that they can only try once. "Next time, make sure to drink more water before you come so you're better hydrated"

I knew then and there that there would be no next time. Probably not for a few more years anyway. This may sound like no big deal, but it was a big deal to me. I really wanted to donate. I can't even count how many blood transfusions I have administered in the last few weeks, let alone my entire career. I really wanted to do it. When she told me I was done, I choked back tears and told her my story. She seemed sympathetic, but it didn't help.

-Tracie, I just can't give my blood away

Passports a Plenty Redux

I went to the passport office today. My experience there was a lot better than Tracie's. Right when we got there, there was only one person in front of us waiting for the pre-screener. He croweded a little too close to the customer at the desk, and the offical told him to get behind the red line.

I told the guy, "It's lucky she doesn't have a goalie stick or you would've got wacked." He thought that that was pretty funny.

We went through the pre-screener and he seemed concerned that the blue shirt I was wearing in my photo was too light and that when they scanned the photo it would look like a floating head. Which is a no-no, I guess. My drivers licence photo is of my floating head, and I quite like it. Anywho, after waiting for a short while my number was called, and it didn't take very long at the desk at all. Now in two weeks, I'll have my passport.

-Gary Milner, internet superstar

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Evil Passport Photos

I went to get my passport last week. Getting one is a very, very big pain in the butt. First, I had to go to a postal outlet to pick up the application. Filling out the form is pretty straightforward - just fill in the blanks - but as part of the application, you need the names, addresses and phone numbers of three people who have known you for at least two years. One of these people has to be a "Guarantor" which means they must hold one of the occupations on a short list that is given to you (Doctor, Mayor, Police Officer, Lawyer, Veterinarian and a few others). Having only lived in Calgary for a few years, I had to make a trip to Medicine Hat to get a lawyer I have known for more than two years to sign it.

Well, as much of a hassle as all of this was, it did not hold a candle to the hassle I went through getting my passport photo.

Passport photo attempt #1, Nov 15 2004

Superstore, which is three blocks from my house, advertises to take passport photos for $5.99 that will be ready in 5 minutes. I remembered to keep a straight face and not to smile, but after returning home, I read the passport photo rules and realized that my mouth had to be closed. It wasn't.

Passport photo attempt #2, Nov 16 2004

They redid my picture for "free". No expression, no open mouth. Perfect, or so I thought. I got home and read the rules just to make sure. It turns out my head was too big.

Passport photo attempt #3, Nov 17 2004

They redid my photo again. The same guy was there all three days. He's feeling pretty stupid by now. The photo is taken. Looks good. No expression, mouth is closed, appears to be within the size parameters. I'm now ready to take my completed application down to the passport office.

Passport photo attempt #4, Nov 29 2004

I get to the Harry Hays building and wait in line for what seems like an eternity only to have my passport photo rejected. "What!" I scream. "Are you kidding me?" Apparently my head this time is too small. He tries to show me, but I can't tell. He must have amazing vision. I run down the street to a new place this time, paying $12.99, and make it back with enough time that I haven't lost my original place in line.

At last the nighmare is over. A trip to Medicine Hat and four trips to a photographer all for a stupid confirmation that I am indeed who I say I am. Good thing I won't have to do it again for at least five more years. I still have my Superstore receipt, so sometime this week I'll be demanding my money back.

-Tracie, Soon to be a passport carrying Canadian

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Cross Border Shopping

I haven't really heard much about cross border shopping lately. Coincidentally, the last time cross border shopping was a big deal was about ten years ago which was also the last time the dollar was hovering around the 84-85 cents mark.

I predict that there will be a big todo about cross border shopping in the near future. I read an article about it last night. It said that cross border shopping will be mitigated by the fact that a lot of stores that were mainly available in the states are now available in Canada. This will be good news for the Mom&Pop's because a rising tide lifts all the boats.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Oh, The Stress!!

Life can be so stressful.

As you may know, Gary and I are planning a big move to Australia. Moving is always a pain in the butt (we've done it 4 times in the last 3 years), but this one seems to come with a lot of mini-dilemmas.

Dilemma #1. When to go
Originally I had hoped to leave soon, and for sure by April. Gary has committed to photograph a wedding in July. We will likely stay until then, but we need to decide for sure ASAP so we don't screw over the couple.

Dilemma #2. Selling the house, etc
We are meeting with a realtor tomorrow morning. He seems good so far....for sure better than our last one. When is the best time to put the house up for sale? Where do we go if we sell before we leave the country? What do we do with our stuff? What about our permitless deck?

Dilemma #3. Where to work
I have had two job offers in the last week to teach nursing at each of Calgary's main post-secondary institutions. This may seem good, but it is a dilemma. Either one I go with will only give me two days a week. This past semester has been fun, but only working two days a week is not enough, especially when you need save up for plane tickets to Australia. When I do get called into the hospital, the teaching job always seems to interfere. I have no benefits. Furthermore, I still don't know when we leave so can I really commit to one? On the other hand, I will be guaranteed some hours. That's more than I'll have if I don't take the job.

Dilemma #4. Which recruiting firm?
I have been stringing along two separate Australian recruiting firms. They each want me to send in my forms right away, but I only have one set complete and notarized. Who do I send it to? Each offers different work opportunities that seem to be equally attractive.

Reading back over my dilemmas, I can tell that I am acutally quite fortunate and perhaps even ungrateful to be refering to my opportunities as dilemmas. But that makes it no less stressful.

-Tracie, Stressed but thankful.