Thursday, April 27, 2006

Some Like It Hot

My friend and I were chatting about Fitness World and how our lifetime membership in this gym was being wasted because we were not  using it enough. She hardly ever went. I try to go at least once a week, but I could do more considering that Fitness World is just across our complex.

My friend then told me about the sauna at FW. Somebody had spoken to her so highly of its health benefits. “It is very good for the body. Opens up your pores and cleanses the toxins in your body. Makes your skin smoother too!” she raved.

I became interested. I didn’t even know FW had a sauna at the ladies only section. I decided to check it out that evening.

I had been to a sauna only once in my life when we went swimming at the Surrey Rec Centre. I did not last inside it for more than 10 minutes. I felt claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Because I was not impressed that first time, I decided to do a bit of research on the Internet to get tips and info on what saunas are all about.

“Mom, what are you researching?” Gino asked.

“Oh, I’m reading on saunas. I’m going there tonight,” I replied.

“It’s not as if you’re going to sit on an electric chair. You just go inside and sit down,” he continued.

“I want to know what to wear,” I said.

“Wear a swimsuit,” Gino said.

“I don’t have a bathing suit... See, if I did not do research, I wouldn’t have known that I shouldn’t eat before going to the sauna, and I just had dinner,” I said. Because I was still full, I took time browsing. Some 30 minutes later, I packed my gym bag and headed out.

The FW ladies’ only sauna is located at the far end of the locker room. It is not visible until you follow a maze-like path to the shower room. When I finally found the sauna, I didn’t know how to go about it. I carefully read the instructions on the glass door.

Shower before entering… Absolutely no oils or glass containers inside…No pouring water or oil on the rocks… No spitting, shaving, brushing of teeth, colouring hair…

I found the last instructions rather weird. Who would do those things in a very hot room with no sink inside?

I spent about 20 minutes in the sauna with two other ladies. No one talked with nor looked at another. It was dead silent, and so hot! Memories of hot summer days in the Philippines came back to mind, of those moments right after you hop into your car that had been parked under the searing sun. It was like being cooked in the oven.

I was carefully observing my body’s response to the heat. Am I getting dizzy? dehydrated? roasted? How long should I sit here with nothing to do? Feeling somewhat uneasy just sitting there, I decided to observe from the corner of my eyes what other ladies were doing. Without being obvious, I followed their lead. When a lady drank from her water bottle, I drank from mine. When someone rubbed her arms, I rubbed mine. When someone shook her legs, I shook mine. When a lady took off her towel revealing a two-piece swimsuit… well, I chose to keep mine.

I survived my first sauna at Fitness World. I went back a few days later more prepared. Remember, no pedicure allowed, and leave those cottonbuds home…. The next time I go back, I will don my new set of swimsuits I will probably never wear to the pool. I will sweat it out!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gino's wall paintings

Gino has created some wonderful paintings on his walls. For more pictures and annotation, check out his blog at His Royal Freshness

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Help! Desk

I admire technical people who understand how things work, or don’t. But I admire even more those who give technical support over the phone – the Help Desk people. They must have a great deal of patience to walk people through the process of troubleshooting and fixing what needs to be fixed. Hats off to you guys!

This morning Mickey and I were working on a brochure project when our Internet connection was cut off. For those of us who are heavy Internet users, this is a cause for instant alarm verging on panic like we were cut off from a virtual lifeline. I need to send an email! I need to browse! I have work (or homework) to do!...

And so I immediately called Shaw, our Internet Service Provider, and explained the situation. The guy on the line started probing and when he said terms like splitter, I handed the phone over to Mickey without saying excuse me. Between Mick and myself, he is more knowledgeable on the internal workings of the computer. I care more for censorship and parental controls.

Guided by the techie, Mick unplugged everything (three cables) connected to the modem, and after a few seconds re-connected each one of them. Didn’t work. Because he had somewhere else to go, Mickey gave me back the phone and I had no choice but to carry on.

“Do you have another outlet that you can plug the modem to?” asked Mr. Help Desk. “Can you plug it to where your TV is plugged?

“No, it’s too far,” I answered. “But there are two outlets on the same plate where the computer is plugged. Do you want me to transfer it to the lower one (which was vacant)?”

As soon as he said “Okay, try it”, I pulled the plug and the computer went dead—and so did the phone. Mr. Help Desk was gone! Mickey, preparing to leave, said that I should have unplugged only the modem. Instead, I unplugged the power bar. The PC, printer, modem, fax and phone were all plugged to the power bar. Arggh…

I called Shaw again and a different guy answered. I repeated the problem. He asked me to describe where the internet cable was coming from, and if I had a splitter, etc…

“There is this rectangular thing and it has two thingies,” I said. Two thingies??? Good luck!

Mr. Help Desk No. 2 seemed to understand the two thingies, but to be sure, I described them some more. “One has a cable that goes to the TV, the other goes to the computer.”

“Yes. Try to connect the Internet cable directly to the wall. Let’s see what happens.”

I disconnected the “rectangular thing with two thingies” and connected the cable directly to the wall or is that called the cable connector(?). As soon as I did that, the Online light on the modem lighted up. Yay!!

“It worked,” I was excited to tell Mr. Help Desk #2. “So is this called the splitter?” I was referring to what I removed from the cables.

“Yes,” he said. “You may have to buy a new one.”

Until I can replace this splitter, which must also be called “coupler” (written on its side), I will have no cable TV in my room because the cable feed is no longer split between the TV and PC. That’s okay. I’d prefer the Internet anytime.

Thank you, Mr. Help Desk. You’re a virtual-life-saver.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Spring forward

For me, this must be hardest time of the year when we move our clock one hour ahead. It’s been five days now but I still have to get used to the new time and longer days. I feel unusually tired and sleepy most of the day.

Apart from this, spring is my favourite season. I like the sense of beginning and things springing back to life. I love the cherry blossoms, white, light pink, dark pink… (Is it any wonder that I named myself lerryblossoms?) Other trees are in full bloom too. I call them all cherry blossoms. They could be apple, or maple, for all I care. My city is full of early blooms these days. Late bloomers are coming up. How wonderful!

This year I started early on my spring cleaning. I must have started early February sorting out filing cabinets, drawers and closets. I have bagged many clothes and other items for charity, and discarded a lot of garbage. I am not completely done. I expect to do stuff till the summer. It is overwhelming just thinking about it.  

Since I am not a neat freak and an obsessive-compulsive cleaner, I am happy to be able to do one nook of the house at a time. Even this takes up hours. When I sorted my two-drawer filing cabinet that contains documents and other paper stuff collected over the last year, it took me about six hours, till past midnight.

Recently, my brother-in-law in Seattle came up to change our main floor from carpet to laminate wood and the foyer floor to ceramic tiles. It was a big job and there are still finishing touches left to do. Not only that, this has led to more home projects in the pipeline like painting the base boards and newly installed quarter rounds, changing doors, installing vents, and what-have-you. It’s good to have a handyman in the family to help do major repairs. I know my limits. I have a lot of patience for and perseverance in manual jobs, but I don’t have enough skills.

I am so happy, winter is over. It’s time to come out of hibernation and start flexing those muscles. I am looking forward to a busy spring and summer.