Tuesday, October 31, 2006

all hallows eve

Last year was a quiet hallows' eve. We didn't really know any of the kids in the neighbourhood so didn't expect any of them to show up. Besides who'd want to make their way up our killer driveway. In any case MsStopYourNoise spends every Halloween doling out candy at her momma's place in Spanish Point, so these kids know she's naught to be home.

This year we pretty much expected the same non turnout even though we now know all the kids in the neighbourhood. But lo & behold they showed u
p this evening, knocking on our door with expectant faces - the King, the Ghost, the WitchBride & the Queen. Of course we were not at all prepared BUT we did have a stash of - and I'm sorry to say this - Werthers' Originals. Yes I know it's not THE candy to have but it's all we had for the day & it didn't dim the smiles on their faces either. Here's the gang minus Pele & his brother, who went a-scaring past the neighbourhood outskirts. The kids sure did ask for MsStopYourNoise & guess who had to inform them that she abandoned her own ship in favour of a Spanish one.

The little ninja was visiting our neighbours & popped in to say hello. As you can see he's adorable & a gentleman too. He proceeded to give ME his candy from his bag. He'll know not to do that next Halloween.

We also received Halloween pics from Georgia. Here's Smoochie & ThePoser in their Hallow's gear. Quite a twosome, don't you think? Their mom was riding the danger zone by getting their costumes last minute but she got them at a steal & it was happenstance that they co-ordinated with each other.

Seeing the kids with their Halloween smiles & personas, they sure do inject you with energy you didn't know you had at the end of the
day. I guess it's easier to say that when they're not your own!

Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

heat free workplaces

The cold weather has made its Bermuda debut earlier this year with a big bang. Things were fine & hot up until Tuesday & then bam, outta nowhere the island was taken over by these 'cool' winds. Ordinarily it would be fine but it's even cooler when you're on a scooter. And that's us during our commute to work. Out come much needed jackets & scarves, for the last thing we want is to be out of commission with the change in weather flu/cold.

Of course, we had to dive into our warmer clothing this week. That meant taking them out of our SpaceBags. It was just as fresh as we the day we packed them in. No bugs, no musty smell, no dampness just good laundered freshness. The irony is that we have to dress up warmer at work than at home. The reason?

Bermuda offices are not big on heating. Most of the office buildings were built with the much needed central air con for use during the summer, of course, but nary a thought to central heating for the winter. While Bermuda has a temperate climate, it is not part of the Caribbean islands. In fact being situated further north, we're not exactly privy to the hot temperatures in the winter but rather to a damp cool climate. So, while most office buildings did not think of having heating put in they still leave the air con on in the winter. It helps to maintain a damp free environment but it's still cold. Bermuda's cold weather is more or less equivalent to Canada's fall weather. Which is nice because we don't have to deal with snow & the -10
o C temperatures, but I do miss seeing the autumn colours of fall. Looking back, I just never thought I'd need my fall gear for use in Bermuda.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

pack 'em good

What's a fast easy way for kids to earn money on this island? No, not child labour but more like after school work. Most kids elsewhere will earn some dough by taking on chores at home. Making money while working from home? That system wasn't quite invented in my day. Guess I lucked out!

Kids here & now have it easier when it comes to making some extra cash on the side. For instance, Bermuda grocery stores are a big ticket item. Most kids line up to pack groceries for customers (in their school uniforms - even on weekends) & while the grocery store does not pay them, it's the customers that tip them. And tip they do - quite generously. We hear kids brag about much they've made in just one sitting. It's more than you'd think. Say about 50 big ones. It's true, out from the mouth of babes. Some might justify the big tipping to the fact that it's all relative here in Bermuda. Higher cost & standard of living should lead to higher wages or tips.

But do kids really need that much money? What are they really going to do with it? Seems like a waste to have tip a kid to pack a grocery bag because guess what? When they're not around we have to do it ourselves, if the cashier doesn't take it upon herself. Not that I'm complaining. I'd rather pack my bags myself - Heck I always manage to pack it so efficiently that our stuff always fits in the three compartments of the scooter on the first try - no re-arranging needed. Even Hubby is impressed. With the kid packers, we inevitably have to rearrange or sometimes even repack to get it to fit. C'est la vie! Not like I can tell the eagerly awaiting packer kid: No, it's fine I can pack it myself. Imagine the faux pas. I'd be hindering their lively hood. Not something I want to do when the general perceived misconception is that ex-pats are taking over most jobs! Not true people!


Thursday, October 19, 2006

snorkel haven

One of my favourite places to snorkel is Tobacco Bay. Known as one of the island's snorkel hotspots it's partly surrounded by rocks which attract all kinds of tropical fish. The rough waters are eliminated & allowing gentle waves that make it a snorkel haven. The fish that inhabit these crystal clear waters are not shy at all. They take no notice of the snorkellers who watch their every move & are delighted when the select few decide to share their grub with them. They flock to food like moths to a flame. That's the thing about fish - they never know when to stop eating.

Tobacco Bay is also where I learnt how to snorkel & I love the calm
waters it has to offer for I am no swimmer. It would help if I were but to compensate for that here's my mantra from my past snorkel experiences in the water that's more than FIVE feet deep:

1. I will not panic.

2. I will snorkel as close to the rocks as possible (helps when you have something to grab on to when # 3 happens).

3. I will stay calm when water gets in my tube.

4. I will not have head on collisions with other snorkelers (it's happened with no concussions to report).

5. I will not panic when I find myself hovering over jellyfish (because really the tops of the jellyfish have no sting factor).

Don't let the list throw you off. Really, it's a piece of cake (see me do it?). Once you see the fish doing their thing, get captivated by their sheer numbers, size, species & blend of vibrant colours, you let go of all your inhibitions & actually start to enjoy yourself. You can even hear them eat or munch away at rocks. It sounds like snap, crackle & pop & no there's nothing wrong with your ears.

I always spend more time snorkelling than I intend to & end up with temporary snorkel mask impressions on my face & wrinkled finger tips when I'm done. But they disappear in a matter of minutes. Pretty soon I hope to be a strong swimmer so I can eliminate #s 1, 2 & 3 off my list.

p.s. That's me snorkelling in the pic, taken last Sat. Even with the mantra list, strike a pose, there's nothing to it!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

the catch is one gig

One thing we miss about Toronto is the internet. Not so much the high speed but the unlimited downloads. There is fierce competition in Bermuda between internet providers. Dial up is one way to go but seriously, once you're exposed to the joys of high speed you don't ever go back to dial-up. It's the e-mail vs snail mail equivalent. Even dial up does not come cheap. Everytime you sign on you are charged 25 cents - it's treated like a phone call & with the regular phone line you get about 50 free ones a month. There's DSL but the phone line has to be upgraded to about $90/month & that does not even include the DSL charges. Not to mention DSL tends to be somewhat unreliable at times.

What we've indulged in is reliable wireless, higher than high speed internet faster than DSL, no phone line required, same pricing as the upgraded phone line plus there's unlimited surfing. Sounds like the perfect solution, doesn't it? But wait, as always there's a catch. Our actual download quota is limited to one gig a month. Yeah, that's not much at all. Especially when there's music to download & not to mention missed TV shows that can be watched with no time restraints nor commercials. This would definitely help when the cable's out of commission. But then I know I will go over the quota. Damn, damn & double damn. There'd better be no kids reading this!


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

this strong house

Today was a rainy day. It started off with the usual clouds & spitting rain which then turned into massive dark clouds, big drops of rain (aka tank rain in Bermuda), thunder & lightning. My mom who's visiting, was on our patio rain watching. I had to call her in when I heard the first clap of thunder. No sooner had she come in, that I saw a bolt of lightning stream right in front of our place. I knew it hit something but figured it hit the wall that surrounds the driveway. It actually struck the house. The wall above the upper balcony. Bits of Bermuda stone was scattered on the patio & surprisingly enough on the street below. A little shallow depression has been created in the stone facade. Not really visible unless pointed out, which is a big consolation.

This strike was apparently quite powerful. I have to say I have never been that close to a lightning strike & I don't intend to have it repeated. Ms.StopYourNoise lost power at her place. Our cable's out. I'm not even sure how long it will take to get our cable restored. This is Bermuda and everyone works on island time. So I guess we'll have to wait for it.


Monday, October 02, 2006

♫ burn, baby burn ♫

Speaking of garbage, what does a small island like Bermuda do with all it's garbage? Do we recycle? Well, Yes & no. Bermuda has facilities to promote recycling & while some do, it has been reported that the recycling plant is full. So where does it all go? We actually have an incinerator. It's a big bad boy too! Garbage pick up is Tuesdays & Fridays in our neck of the woods. I am ashamed to say that we don't recycle here. Me, the recycling queen for most of my life, has not recycled in Bermuda - it's shocking I know. I'd always get on my parents case about not recycling enough & now we have an case of role reversal. Ironic! Bound by law, Toronto households now also have to compost organic matter, in addition to most things.

In my defense, Bermuda just doesn't make it easy for things to be recycled. Bottles & cans have to be in blue or clear bags in order to be recycled. Seriously! Whatever happened to using recycling bins. Those garbage bags that they are so adamant on having, takes 500 - 1,000 years to degrade if it ends up in a landfill. OK, so we don't have a landfill & it's off to the incinerator. Um, isn't burning plastic the worst thing to do? The toxicity, the fumes & not to mention the smoke from it being burned. Isn't that environmentally hazardous? But wait, we're a speck in the ocean, so I guess we're okay. But Bermuda does redeem itself a little. The one thing it does differently compared to Canada is having grocery stores indulging not in plastic bags but paper grocery bags of yester-year, except these are made from recycled paper. Go Bermuda!

Unfortunately, businesses here don't recycle here either. It's appalling the amount of paper we just shred shred shred.
There's a lot of paper utilized, with the high number of offshore investment, financial & insurance companies here. In their defense confidential reports & documents have to be shredded, but we can still lay blame when the trees start to dwindle.

I recently watched a BBC documentary about India recycling plastic. Some of the poor unemployed population have become involved in this clean up process that also doubles as a source of income. Working as free lance collectors, they get paid by batches of plastic collected from the dumps. While it may not be the most appeasing job, it's honest work & for these people it's work that feeds their families & provides roofs over their heads. Some fortunate ones have been hired full time for the fascinating non-mechanized process of sorting & sterilizing plastic which is then bound & sent off to the recycling plant. I have to say I am proud. The land of my birth has engaged in a clean up act with plastics.

I for one have made a resolution. I'm going back to my roots & become a recycling junkie again. Maybe, in the process I can help save a few roots in the rain forest!


♫ breathe, just breathe ♫

Fluoride may not be added to our tank rain water supply but at least we have fresh air. I don't think Bermuda will ever be polluted because being a tiny speck with hundreds of miles of the Atlantic surrounding the island does give rise to some perks. There's just too much water to dissolve all the toxins - in this case more really is good. Another Atlantic Ocean perk, no smog.

For those of you who don't know, smog is a combination of smoke & fog, brought on by hot weather & air pollution. It's a serious issue, a cause of a slew of health problems - and like most it always hits the children & the elderly the hardest. The smog in downtown Toronto has risen to unacceptable levels in recent years. Intense hot days during the summer months has prompted the city to issue smog alerts & smog days - the only thing missing are smog t-shirts. We sure could tell the difference when we were back in Toronto. The downtown air was just not happening. Hubby & I were glad to be back on the island & breathe the fresh un-polluted air - rush hour scooter commute does not count!

I don't want to trash my hometown so I will provide a bigger justifiable picture to Toronto's Summer Smog. 60% of it comes from America. That's right! The warm summer air that blows in from the south also blows pollutants from their many factories into our beloved Canadian zone. The issue of getting America to cut down their pollution has been raised many times over - but as a self proclaimed superpower, they reckon they can say no to anything that does not prove beneficial to them. Toronto does get back at them though. Want to venture a guess as to where our garbage goes? America is Canada's dumping ground because Toronto's garbage crosses the border to settle down in Michigan. This does not come cheap for Toronto but hey they mess with our air, we mess with their land. Revenge is sweet because they sure don't like Canadian garbage.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

looks can be deceiving

This is Bda's Green Moray Eel, no not a snake. Looks pretty sinister, doesn't it? When encountered at close range, it opens it mouth in retaliation making it look even more so, like it's about to attack you & inject it's venom (yes it does have venom). Scarier than a shark. What would you do if you ever came across a fish like this while you're in the water? Panic? Scream? Just looking at it makes you want to squirm & look away. It's definitely not a pretty sight.

In actuality, the 7 feet long Green Moray Eel is more afraid of us that we are of it. It's shy, near-sighted (I never knew fish could be near-sighted) & a nocturnal fish, which is why you will never encounter it if you're in the ocean by day. Nature has given this eel it's best defence by bequeathing it looks & colour that can set anyone who doesn't know about it's true nature, swimming away for their life. Oh, and the Moray eel's venom is not posionous. Just thought I'd leave you with that comforting fact.