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1 The Toronto group for couchsurfing.com meets each Monday at the Java House on Queen Street W at Augusta Ave, near Spadina. I went to meet them yesterday. It's an odd feeling going out to say hi to people you know you've never met before, but it seemed like an important first step.
2 The table talk was about various things, since not all of these people really knew each other very well either. A few of them were planning to attend Burning Man in the desert this year. I kept hearing "you have to bring everything" and "(vehicles) get filled with dust because the roads don't go there". I've heard of the Burning Man. It's more like camping than Canadian camping in the woods. Don't most Canadian campsites have water, shower facilities, a general store, a place to rent boats, and park rangers who come looking for you if you go missing? If I'm wrong about this, it's because I don't camp, really.
3 This Burning Man party seems like a plan for everyone to go into the middle of nowhere. It might have a lot of interesting things going on, and a lot of people who are both new and experienced in attendance, but I can taste the sand in between my teeth already.
4 This oddly reminds me of why I didn't get to taste spinach until I was of age to buy such things on my own. My mom had sand between her teeth every time her family subjected her to spinach, and so she just wouldn't do that to her own family. I was in high school, and Northview was directly across the street from the Branson Hospital, a Seventh Day Adventist hospital at the time. They ran a cafeteria for staff and visitors (like most hospitals). They had spinach there in the steam table. "How much is it?" asks a very young me. "The same as all of the other vegetables. Twenty five cents." Our own cafeteria at school had nothing for less than 1.50, so I was able to try everything. These guys made it wonderful, and cheaply enough so I could go back for seconds without exhausting my limited cash.
5 I'd like to tell you about the Couch Surfers again. They were all kind. They're all happy to be travellers and to help out other travellers. One guy I spoke with didn't plan too much. He'd just go where he wanted, and when his cash ran out, he'd have to work for a while. No Real Fear! Wow!! This came up because I told them I was insecure about going to NEFFA with only a month planning.
6 I think I've cancelled going to NEFFA for this year. But I'm making plans for next year already. It seems that the best way to go is to rent a car, especially if the venue is so far from the main city. Mansfield MA is quite distant from Boston MA. Having a rented car should make it possible for me to go from home to the event, go from the event to town and back. If required, I can sleep or at least rest in the car if I can't land real accomodation. The cost of a bus isn't that much less than renting a vehicle. It's less, but not that much less.
7 Since that's my plan, I'm moving ahead, and working on getting a credit card. It's hard to rent a car without your own card. So I'm hoping to have one of my own in the next few weeks, or few months. I also hope not to abuse the credit, but only spend what I can afford to entirely pay back in one month.
8 I guess I'd better find someone who will be my guarantor for the Canadian Passport as well. They no longer want doctors, lawyers and teachers, but want people who have actually known you, and have a passport themselves. Somehow this is harder! But now that I'm not rushing for a trip at the end of April, I can just pull it all together for as soon as is reasonable.
9 Back to the Couch Surfers: When there are so many people present at a restaurant like that, you can't meet everyone there! I was in the middle, and could chat easily with the four to my left, and the four to my right. I waved at the ones at the ends as they came in, but that's all -- everyone looked okay though.
10 Maybe I'll have chicken wings and a pitcher of beer next time I'm there! Beer is not normally the kind of thing I'd get, but it feels like a good special when the mood is right. A pitcher by itself was $11, and with a pound of wings was only $13.
11 I left the meeting early. I had to be at work for 7am. I managed falling asleep easily, and woke up very well rested. Today was a good day at work. It was busy nonstop, but I had energy until the end.
12 But after I left, and for perhaps a half an hour before that, I felt my energy ebb. My feet had become heavy. I was plodding, not walking. But it was beautiful outside, and I was determined not to go home. I'd fall asleep, just like I always do after work.
13 So I went south along Bathurst Street. I chose that mostly so I'd not head towards my home. The trip took an eternity. It came fast enough, but the trip itself was very leisurely. In fact, if it had not come when it did, I would have gone to the local chinese food restaurant across the street first. This bus went only as far south as St Clair West Stn. So I got out, and wandered the Loblaws supermarket there. I checked out the fast food, but it didn't call out to me. The warm baked goods? (no), the barbecued chicken and ribs? (no), and so on. In fact, the only thing I bought from there was a bottle of Beet Horseradish. I've not had that for ages. I returned downstairs to the subway's bus level, and caught the Bathurst bus that continued southbound.
14 It was bright, it was beautiful, but it was so cold for me! Eventually the Bathurst Streetcar showed up, and took me to College St. I've been this way a number of times recently, and you, dear readers have probably figured out I like the area. Correct.
15 I walked eastbound, towards Spadina and all of the computer stores. Again, I was prowling for an inexpensive netbook computer. I checked out store after store along the way. I'd never noticed that there was a Canada Computers store! They had one computer for 249, but it only had an 8g flash hard drive. I was hoping for 120g or 160g this time around. They were busy so when I said that, I was promptly ignored.
16 A few computer stores later, and I was in Factory Direct again. As you may recall, my opinion has changed about them. At first, I wasn't prepared to buy anything valuable since this place had a reputation in my mind for things which fail shortly after purchase. But I also met a cashier there who had progressed up the ladder and was now the manager of this location. So maybe I should buy one from them today. I just wandered back and forth inside the store, trying to decide if I should get the $339 (120g) or the $359 (160g) computer. I must have been there almost an hour. In the end, I didn't buy from them.
17 The next store east of them is Fortune Computers. This guy remembers me, and noticed I'd been looking at the small laptops each time I've gone in over the last two weeks. He shows me a case of them he's purchased for sale to people at the University of Toronto. And while it was labelled $450 (plus tax), he offered it to me at $425 and was still very hesitant. He then drops to $399, and uses a calculator to see the price with tax is $450, and he'll give it to me for that price. He goes over to the case again, and now pulls one out. Opens that box, and shows me a brand new one. I'm looking, looking, thinking, thinking, looking. Finally I decide that if my debit card can do it, I'll take it. So he just walks me to the debit terminal, and we try a sale of 450.00, and it worked! He shakes my hand and says, "Congratulations! You have a great computer now." He completed an invoice, went back and wrapped up the unit we were looking at.
18 Some people are very happy about a day they spend this kind of money. I was left feeling shaken all over, and just hung around the store for a long while, until I was ready to pack up and go. Eventually, I walked eastbound along College St to the Starbucks at St George Street.
19 I found a cranny where I could work near a power outlet, and began setting up the computer. It didn't seem to have Java, so I found a copy of that and installed it. I used the Java that comes with older versions of the Opera web browser. If necessary, I can install an old version of Microsoft Java I've got around here somewhere. New Java is rather big, and sluggish. It's known to slow down computers in a big way. So I'm looking for older versions which might run faster. We'll see.
20 This computer has a 10" screen, a rather big keyboard for a small computer, 2g of ram, 160g of hard drive space, broken up as a 30g drive C, and 103g drive D. So I have to remember to put as much of my personal things as I can onto D, not C. I have yet to install Avast antivirus, but will. I tested a few sites I visit, and it seems ok.
21 So that is the big event for me. I got a new laptop computer. Tiny little thing, but more hard drive and more speed than anything I own so far (this is supposed to be a dual core Atom CPU, but I don't really know what that means yet).
22 I've been grazing along the way. After I left the store, I stopped at Metro and got a small box of wedge fries. They were only 1.50 and were amazing good! It was there I ran into my cousin Lawry. I've not seen him in years. After I got the computer, I realized I needed something to eat again, and got a Tuesday sandwich from Burger King, which is their Original Chicken. And finally, on arrival at home, I found some frozen round steak, and a package of frozen vegetables. I dumped these into my current soup pot and poached them gently. The meat was not tough at all (I expect Round to be tough). I would be eating all of the lentils and other vegetables there now, but I'm eager to finish writing here and post this for you.
23 This is a postscript! After sending this to the site, I've made some steak. When the round steak came out nice poached, I decided to fry some up. Yes, yes, it's 230am. But I'm so glad. It was perfect, and I've been wanting real meat for very long. I dip it in soy sauce before frying, so it gets a nice sealed exterior. Maybe for my next real meat I'll find some of the TONS of ground beef I've got in the freezer. I know it's there! I just know it.
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