Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere

Well, another Blog World Expo has come and gone and I must say it was very educational and exciting.  I’m looking forward to next year already.  After our last Blog World Seminar and Party was done, our group had an extra day to enjoy Las Vegas.  One of the things we really wanted to do was take in a “Cirque” show. No one should ever go to Las Vegas without taking in at least one of their amazing productions.

As a Canadian, I have been following Cirque du Soleil since well before they became famous.  When they first started out they toured the exhibitions (county fairs) such as the CNE in Toronto, the PNE in Vancouver, and the Calgary Stampede in, you guessed it, Calgary.  The latter is where I first saw the troupe perform and even without the lavish stage, music and costumes they were mind-boggling.  I wish I had pictures of them doing their acrobatic stunts with ropes and trapezes while the audience sat on folding chairs in a hockey arena.  What a long way they come!

Also as a Canadian now living in Vancouver, I am totally disgusted with VANOC’s, the Vancouver Olympic Committee, inability to get Cirque du Soleil for the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics.  The “Cirque” is a Canadian icon that would have let us show the world just how exciting Canada can be.  I just hope they don’t have any more ice fishing like they had at the closing ceremonies in Torino.  Gasp!!!


“Ultimately, Mystere is a tribute to the artistry of the human body” – Las Vegas Sun

After seeing this show I would say that quote is partially correct.  It is actually a tribute to the artistry and strength of the Male human body. This show is almost entirely choreographed around the male form.  NOT that I’m complaining.  No,No!! The show is breath-taking in many ways.  I had to remember to breathe on more than one occasion and I could see others around me were having the same problem.

Considering Mystere is the very first production that Cirque du Soleil produced in Las Vegas starting in 1993, it has maintained its freshness with its audience.  Seeing it now, you would never know that this particular production has been around for 16 years.  The custom-built theatre at Treasure Island presents a spectacular backdrop for the performers.  The stage unobtrusively moves and changes as required for the upcoming acts.  The Cirque’s propensity of providing their own version of circus clowns during production changes keeps us not only entertained, but totally unaware of the changes that are happening around us.  Engaging the audience as participants in the show has also been part of the fun of going to a Cirque performance.

There are so many acts to write about for this production: the Aerial Cube, the Taiko Drums, the Chinese Poles, to name a few.  The most unbelievable has to be the Hand-to-Hand peformance by Valerii Simonenko of Russia and Jonas Zuniga of Argentina.  These two men with their Adonis good looks and physiques show us strength and gracefulness that is unparalleled.  They perform a hand and body balancing act that should be impossible to do with the presence of gravity.  Picture this: Imagine yourself at the gym doing your circuit training.  You get on that torture device where you lay on your stomach and lift weights with the back of your ankles.  Now replace the machine with a impressively-built man doing a hand stand on your feet.  This is what Valerii does, very slowing raising his feet from the knees down and then continues with some very convoluted movements that get him back on his own feet, but with his “brother” still doing his hand stand – now hand-to-hand.  I can’t see how it’s possible but he did it and it was amazing.

In closing, Cirque du Soleil never fails to impress me with their performances.  The costumes, music, performers, stage and stage sets are awe-inspiring.  I look forward to the next trip to Las Vegas so I can take in another great show.



Kananaskis – God’s Country

Here I am just a week after getting back from my 3 week cruise, heading off to Kananaskis Country in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.  I was in Calgary for my friend Gail’s son’s wedding.  It was a wonderful day – the sun was shining, the bride was radiant and the groom was handsome as always. 

Gail created an amazing weekend itinerary for her friends and relatives that was delivered to my hotel room.  It was actually printed on hand-made paper like an invitation.  She had our whole weekend planned out from morning ‘til night. 

Saturday, of course, was filled with wedding events, but Sunday was just as great.  We had brunch at the hotel and then packed ourselves into as few vehicles as we could to head out to Kananaskis Country.  Kananaskis Country was pretty much unknown to most people until the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.  In preparation for those Olympics, Mount Allen was developed to become Nakiska, the Alpine Ski venue.  Another friend and I managed to hitch a ride up the quad-chair with none other than Prince Albert of Monaco who was also there to watch the Giant Slalom.  He was much younger and still had hair.  acheter rifaximin

Also for the Olympics the Kananaskis Village was born.  The village is comprised of several low-rise hotels with shopping, hot tubs, pubs and other amenities available to guests and casual visitors alike.  There are hiking paths, picnic areas, fish ponds, you name it.  The village is designed to fit into the surrounding panoramic landscape and it is this landscape that is the big draw. 

This IS one of the most beautiful places on earth.  The majestic mountains, the green valleys, the bears, the wolves, the mountain sheep and goats, the deer……you get my drift.  There were some wildlife conservation officers on hand with demonstrations and information on the different wildlife in the area.  They try really hard to educate people while they are in the park in order to avoid any confrontations.  The land does belong to the wildlife – not us – and they need to be left to live their lives as nature intended.  Very little upsets me more than hearing that a bear or other wildlife had to be destroyed because of some human’s stupidity.  They may be cute but they are still wild. 

Anyway, I have a couple of videos and photos of our day at the park that I hope you will enjoy. 

Walking_Trail tandem_bike

Panama Canal Cruise – Day One – Hurray!!!

We are finally at Day One of our cruise.  We got everyone assembled in the lobby of the hotel and checked that everyone’s luggage was properly tagged and on the luggage trolleys.  After collecting some that were still in their rooms, we managed to get it all together.

The hotel had all the luggage put on the shuttle bus which could only hold 14 people.  That meant there were 4 that had to go in another vehicle.  The vehicle they sent for our seniors was a Suburban.  I could barely get in it, let alone some of our passengers.

After getting everyone on the ship, through the security and check in, Rick and I delivered gifts to our passengers cabins to welcome them aboard.  This was a little easier than I thought as the staterooms were still being cleaned so they were a surprise when our passengers finally got to their rooms.

Everyone was on their own after that.  Whew!!!  Of course our work is never done, so we were off to see the maitre d’ to make sure our group was sitting close together at dinner.

One of the nice things about cruising is that you can unpack, put things away, and not have to pack up again until the very end.  We are on the ms Westerdam from Holland America and found the staterooms to be slightly different from other ships we’ve been on.  A big one is that there is a minibar now which has taken the place of DRAWERS!!!  What’s with that???  Anyway, we managed to find homes for everything and then we were off to dinner.

We are on the early sitting in the dining room which is a little too early for us, but it does give you lots of time to take in the other evening activities.  We went to a “Game Show”, the Showtime extravaganza featuring the singers and dancers of the Westerdam, Charles & The HAL Cats in the Queen’s Lounge and of course, the “Disco” in the Northern Lights.  Can’t miss that.

It was a busy day and I think it will be a very busy cruise for us.  Time for a “Drink of the Day”…..

You can follow us some more on CAA Niagara Travel

Miami to Fort Lauderdale – Day One -1

Today was a fun lesson in getting from one place to another.  I had to get to Fort Lauderdale airport by 10:00 am and wasn’t sure how far it was or how to get there.  I asked at the front desk of my hotel, but got more information through the Internet.

If you ever need to get from Miami airport to Fort Lauderdale airport or vice versa, there is the SuperShuttle that will get you there for around $30.  You pick up the shuttle by the bag claim area of the airport.  Unfortunately, you may have a few stops to make before getting to the airport as it will take each passenger where ever they need to go along the route.  So even though it’s only about 40 minutes door-to-door, it may end up taking you longer.  So give yourself lots of time.

Along the way I got to see what a typical seniors condo complex looks like.  I hope they were nicer on the inside than on the outside.  I guess you live there for the weather.  I think I’ll stay in Vancouver for a while yet.

Anyway, after picking up our passengers at the airport, Rick Mauro from CAA Niagara and I, waited with them to get rooms.  The timing was not great as the plane got in at 10:00 am and most hotels will not let you check in until at least noon as they need to get the rooms ready.  This is another thing to consider when travelling and having to make connections.

Despite everything, our passengers seems to enjoy themselves though they were very tired from having to take such an early flight – many had not bothered to go to bed.

After checking everyone in and making sure all the luggage was in their rooms,etc, Rick and I went to Fort Lauderdale Beach, walked the beach and had lunch at Bubba Gump’s.  The bucket of shrimp is still to die for and tastes great with a cold beer.  I highly recommend it.

So, three things I learnt today is that you need to investigate travel arrangements yourself when in a strange land and, if possible, don’t book air travel to land hours before check in time of your hotel.  And thirdly, always make sure your guests are well looked after.  It’s only Day Zero of our cruise……

Vancouver to Miami – Day One -2

Day One started with a very early morning at YVR with nothing open at the gates – not even coffee.  The 767 was full so even though I sat in economy, my carry on flew in style in First Class where the Pods are.  Those are pretty cool.

I made a major mistake on the first lag to Toronto and that was in my choice for movies. The first one was fine – Madagascar II, funny and cute.  The SECOND was the killer – Marley & Me.  I read the book so I should have known better than to watch this while “trapped” in a packed airplane.  I almost turned it off many times but I just had to keep going.

I have had two Marleys in my life – we didn’t learn the first time!!  Marley #1 was a pitbull/lab cross named Skye who could destroy a couch in under 15 minutes.  We went to the corner store one day and came back to find the stuffing all over the family room.  The amazing part was that she was able to unzip and remove the cushion covers before demolishing the insides.  This was just one of several disasters we had with Skye.  Despite the destruction, she was very endearing and loveable.  I also had two Siamese cats when Skye lived with us.  They also became part of her pack requiring her to defend and protect them.  Whenever one of the cats was barfing up a hairball, she would get very upset, run around the house to find me and then do a real-life Lassie impression.  She’d run to me with this really worried look on her face and whine that something was wrong.  Then she’d run back to where the cat was.  If I didn’t follow right away, she would go through it again…and again…until I went to the cat. Then I would pick up the cat and take her to Skye who would inspect her to see if she was okay. Unfortunately, we only got to have Skye around for 10 years before she got cancer.

Because Skye had turned into a somewhat manageable dog with a big, big heart, we had to get another dog to replace her as soon as possible.  Marley #2 named Junior, a lab/shepherd cross.  was and still is both an absolute gem and a nightmare.  As a puppy she destroyed anything she could get her paws and teeth on – especially liking soccer cleats and shoes – but not exclusively.   At about a year old she discovered she had this amazingly loud and scary bark and she uses it on all the neighbors, people walking by the house and certain people during our walks.  I haven’t figured out what the common feature is that she doesn’t like, but if she doesn’t like you, you better make sure I have a good hold on her leash.  Watching the couple walking Marley in the movie was just like walking Junior.  And, like Marley, she flunked obedience training.

So by the time the movie was over I was a mess with one little scrunched up tissue.  So it was off the lavatory to splash cold water on the face to try to look presentable.  All my makeup was gone but everything was up in First Class having a good time and there was no time between planes to get fixed up again.  So no makeup all the way to Miami.  Oh, well.  I didn’t meet anyone I know, so I guess it’s okay.

So, remember when you fly, not to watch sad movies if you want to look good at the end of your journey.

Volvo Intellegence – The New Machines

A couple of months ago I took my Volvo S80 in for service because the engine light was on.  I always take that as a sign of bad things to come.  For some unknown reason, a couple of sensors relating to my turbo system were not working correctly and had to be replaced.  Well, okay.  The car is a 2002 so there are bound to be parts that need replacing.  So far it’s been a pretty good car that hasn’t needed any major repairs done to it.  Unfortunately, the S80 has about 60 difference sensors that can cause the engine light to go on.

So this week the engine light comes on again.  So, I’m thinking this REALLY is not a good sign.  I take it in and they say if it happens to be the same problem, the parts have a one year warranty and would be replaced. You know it’s NOT going to be the same and how would you ever know if it was.  I rent my replacement vehicle, a new Volvo V70 stationwagon, and leave the car for the day.  It should be noted that over the years, I have probably “test-driven” most of the Volvos available other than the SUV and a newer S80.  I guess they’re too expensive to use as loaners.

Anyway, later in the day the service manager phones me to tell me the news is not too bad. Apparently, the emission system sensor is saying that I have a leak but he doesn’t think that’s the case.  He thinks the software needs an upgrade.

Okay, now I’m in the software business.  I’ve been in the software business for thirty years and I know a little bit about it.  So when a car service repair manager tells me that my car needs a software upgrade, I have to wonder:  How does my car know it’s time for a software upgrade?  I know my car is not hooked up to the Internet like my computer is.  My computer software knows it’s time to upgrade only because there are little “hooks” that will go out to the Internet and take a peek at the software or hardware website which will tell my computer that it’s time to upgrade.  How does my Volvo S80 “sense” that it is time for a software upgrade – especially when it’s not free?  Have they got it hooked up to a monitoring system via satellite or do they have it programmed in the existing software based on mileage, number of months, etc?

It cost me $110 plus tax for the service guy to download the software and install it on my car’s computer system.  Add to that the cost of the replacement vehicle and my bill for the day came to $165 with taxes.  This, of course, does not include my time in having to deal with this problem.

When I went back to get my car and pay my bill, I asked the service manager how the car knew it was time for an upgrade?  He really didn’t have an answer for me.  I guess they don’t want to general public to know –  The New Machines know everything!!!


Yesterday on iGoogle an article came up from on “How to Do Furoshiki”. Since I didn’t have a clue what Furoshiki was, I had to read it. Here’s an excerpt:

With paper and plastic bags falling out of favour around the world, we are left to wonder if heavy canvas bags or bulky reusable bags are the only method left to us for carrying our groceries. One eco-friendly alternative is the ancient Japanese art of Furoshiki, which uses a simple square of silk or nylon cloth as a means of wrapping and carrying just about anything. Because Furoshiki uses silk or nylon, the knots are very durable but also very easy to untie.

From there the article went on the show you several methods of making Furoshiki. It looks pretty easy and what a great idea. I could just keep a silk scarf in my purse and have something to carry my purchases in at all times. Men could have a nice silk hankie on hand (hopefully clean) for small purchases.

Then reality set in. Right now when I go shopping with my reusable bags, the checkout people give you a “not another tree-hugger!!” look and then quite reluctantly fill my eco-friendly bags. Now I’m thinking… I’ll just lay this piece of cloth down on your counter and you can put my shopping items in the middle of the cloth and I will take the next few minutes tying it up so I can leave. Somehow I don’t think so. The people behind me might have something to say about that. OR can you imagine yourself at one of those new self-checkouts where even with my existing bags I get a megaphoned voice saying “there is a foreign object in the bagging area. Please wait for assistance.” How annoying is that!!

I think FuroShiki is best left for wrapping gifts and wine bottles….maybe a picnic….but definitely not for my regular trips to the grocery. It will be interesting to see what happens when the plastic bags are outlawed. Will the checkouts be a little more lenient and understanding of packaging our groceries in the reusable bags? I really hope so as I already have a huge plastic bag of plastic bags I have to figure out to do with!!!