Hi Ginger, and thanks

Hey guys, I found a nice little email in my inbox this morning!
Chris Winter, the big cheese over at We Conserve sent me a thank-you note for posting about the site here recently.

Apparently a good number of you checked the site out, I think that’s great because we need to support causes like this to help the planet.

Here’s a copy of the email:

Nice little post on your blog – and 32 people took the time to jump over to We Conserve.

Thanks, and do say hi if you make it out to one of the three events this week.


Chris Winter
Executive Director
The Conservation Council of Ontario

Thanks again to everyone who hopped on over there, I’m happy to know that my blog helped spread the word!

Keep your eyes peeled for blurbs about some of my other favourite causes…

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I don’t get paid to plug any of this stuff, I just do it because I want to! (however if someone wanted to pay me I would be ok with that too!)

Easter Weekend

Well, I had a great Easter weekend this time around, but unfortunately I’ve blown not only my diet but my budget to hell as well!

The diet woes started on Thursday, I went out with the people from work to Hooters for the night… much beer and fried chicken products ensued. Friday I had to buy a Timmy’s sandwich while I was on the road to P-Town, and then T’s mom made a huge Easter dinner (with copious amounts of delicious delicious foods!) for us and T’s family, so of course I could not pass up on all the scrumptious tasties.

I am happy to report though that I drank water the whole time and passed on the candies and snacks after supper!
On Saturday we went for her wedding dress fitting and then to the mall for some good old shopping. Of course there were no microwaves for my Jenny Craig food, so we ate out at East Side Mario’s and I had a burger and all you can eat garden salad.
We ended up stopping at an Addition-Elle and I bought a couple of shirts and this really cute brown cotton wrap dress even though I had not planned on spending anything. Oops.
To compound the spending issue, I then bought this new watch:

For $85, then some scrapbooking supplies since T and I have decided to make a scrapbook about the two of us. Oi. After the mall we scooped up some videos (Pride & Prejudice, Practical Magic and The Mummy boxed set) at Best Buy and I grabbed a copy of Guitar Hero III for PS2 (which I returned today because I just couldn’t justify that amount of money…).

I think that’s mostly it for spending. Yesterday my mom put out a big spread for the extended family for Easter dinner. We had turkey and all the trimmings so I couldn’t pass that up either.

But today I’m trying to be a good girl in terms of eating and spending. I’ve stuck mostly to my Jenny diet and haven’t spent much money yet today.

I haven’t done a total tally of how much my weekend cost me, but I’m estimating around $250 all told. Hopefully less than that though.

I hope you all had a great holiday, I’ll have to check all your blogs to see what you did!

Oh yes, thanks to all the new commenters and readers on my blog, I’m happy to know that you like my ramblings!

Going Green: Part 3 – We Conserve and My Footprint

I was walking down the street yesterday and found my eyes resting on a delightfully green and blue poster advertising something really cool!

If you live in Toronto or the surrounding area, a movement called We Conserve is hosting a few free community workshops on how you can become more green through personal conservation and by patronizing companies that do their share, too. What a great idea! Unfortunately I didn’t find this poster until after a few workshops had already happened, but there are a few next week, too, so I may stop by!

Their website is pretty good, too. There are resources, tips, event listings and even an ecological footprint calculator to use. I would definitely recommend visiting this site if you are (or want to be more) eco-conscious.

If we don’t do something for our planet now, what will our children have? We need to start working towards a greener world today.

Let me know if you visit any of the workshops, or tell me what your opinion is on this movement?

FYI I tried using the Carbon footprint calculator – apparently I create 14.8 tonnes of CO2 every year. I used some of the average settings in places where I didn’t know how much I used (such as driving, electricity, heat, etc. since I don’t pay for any of those things).

What’s your footprint?

I <3 Swag Bags

I’ve been getting some free stuff at work lately, so I thought I’d dedicate a post to some of the cool things I receive as part of my job. I get asked about it quite a bit.

Most of you have probably seen me mention that I work in advertising/media. My job basically entails taking a creative concept that the brand is working on, and figuring out the best ways to get it out to their target market. This involves choosing the media vehicle, such as TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, internet, billboards, events, grassroots marketing, word of mouth, posters, transit ads, sponsoring events/teams/days, etc.

Think of the brand logos and ads you see around you every day, and you’ll know that someone like me developed the plan to get that logo/ad there, and have YOU see it. Oh yes, dear readers. There is a very real possibility that today you fell prey to my ingenious advertising placements! Muahahahaha! Seriously, though. If you live in Canada, you have definitely seen the projects I have worked on, I can guarantee it. Anyone in other countries…well… you have probably seen stuff my international colleagues have had a hand in. Cool, eh?
There’s a lot more boring stuff involved with my job that I won’t bother to mention, so I’ll stick to the fun stuff. Because I get to play with millions of dollars all those media choices (magazines, TV stations, etc.) really want my business. This means that they’ll try to woo me with free lunches, swag bags, days at the spa, dinners and lavish parties with celebrities and random gifts throughout the year. It’s pretty frickin’ awesome, my friends.

I used to work in a different position at my old job, and it seems like I got more stuff then compared to what I’m doing now, but I think it’s just because I don’t know as many people on this side of the business yet. Anyway, I thought I’d get onto the cool things I’ve received over the years.

This month alone I have been fed breakfast, lunch and dinner several times, received a couple of pens, notebooks, a high-end hand lotion & scented candle, gourmet cookies and chocolates, gift card to Winners, copious amounts of alcohol, tickets to a VIP concert, baseball tickets, gone to an exclusive shopping party, won a $100 tech backpack and dynamo flashlight and a nice travel mug. Not a bad haul so far.

I also have some more parties coming up which I will probably get some more cool swag bags from. *Squee!*

Some of the more interesting things I’ve received over the years:
– PlayStation Portable system
– Portable DVD player
– Season 4 of 24 on DVD
– Glass wine decanter
– Glass water decanter
– Random gourmet maple syrup products
– $100 spa gift certificates
– Fine wines & cookbooks
– Oven mitts (Hell’s Kitchen promotion, baby!)
– Brian the dog bobble head from Family Guy
– Mugs, mugs and more mugs
– Popcorn bowl and snuggly blanket
– More candy/cookies/chocolate than I can count, or eat!
– Freeze-dried ice cream saucer
– Random DVDs
– Martini shaker & glasses
– Box seats for several concerts and sporting events
– Jackets, hats, scarves, umbrellas & shirts galore (I average 3(!!) umbrellas a year…)

There’s probably more things that I can’t remember, but that gives you a good idea of the weird and sometimes really nice stuff we media people get. This doesn’t even include the parties and events we get to go to. I’ll make a separate post for those 😉

So tell me, readers: What do you think about my job? Do you think being overworked and underpaid is a fair trade for all the perks I get? What do you think about the items themselves?

And what I would really like to know is: what kind of perks do you guys get at your jobs? Is it worth it? Have you ever received anything either totally luxe, or so random you don’t know what to do with it?

Do tell!

Laser Eye Surgery: Yea or Nay?

So, just like my post below promised, here is my story about having laser eye surgery.
I’ve been wearing glasses since I was about 12 for near-sightedness and a severe astigmatism in my right eye. I’m ok with glasses for the most part. I learned to live with them for most of my life, but they were still a little inconvenient, and it meant that I always had to take them off for certain activities.
I tried wearing contacts when I was 15-16, but they were incredibly painful for me to wear, dried out my eyes and took about 45 minutes to put in and take out every night. So they got the boot pretty quickly, and I went back to glasses.
Fast-forward to summer 2007. I’m on a self-improvement quest, taking action against my acne, weight and general appearance. I don’t think I look too bad in my glasses, I had some nice titanium lightweight rimless glasses that made it look like I wasn’t actually wearing them.

Silhouette Frames

I’ve been participating a great deal in my Shaolin kung fu and sparring, and the tipping point for me was when I decided I really loved the art, and wanted to genuinely improve my performance. So I started considering laser eye surgery.

Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t only the kung fu that made me want to do the procedure. I had been thinking about it off and on for a while, and how it would change my life for the better. People would be able to see my eyes, my face, I’d be prettier and I could participate in a lot of activities that are not condusive to spectacle use.

So I asked around and did some research and went for a consultation at TLC Laser Eye Centers one afternoon. If you’re interested to know why I chose this company rather than the others, here are my reasons:

1) My neighbour had her eyes done there and had a good experience
2) They had a good reputation otherwise
3) They were cheaper than the Bochner Eye Institute
4) They weren’t using old technology and blades like LASIK MD

If I hadn’t chosen them I probably would have gone with Bochner for similar reasons.

So they had me come back for some tests and measurements to see if I would be eligible for the surgery. Most people don’t realize that not everyone can have the procedure. My aunt is one of those people that can’t.

The Testing

The testing was free and consisted of looking into a lot of beeping light-filled machines that apparently mapped my cornea and measured it’s thickness and probably some other really cool stuff.

The Verdict

I was a safe candidate, but would never have perfect vision simply because of the way my right eye was formed. You know what? I was ok with that. I didn’t expect to have perfect vision (although it is achievable with this technology) and I just wanted to be rid of my glasses.

The Technology

Because of the way my eyes had formed, I needed their newest (and most expensive, eek!) technology to fully map out my eyes for the laser. Apparently some people with minimal work to be done can get away with using preset coordinates for the laser. This makes it cheaper. Alas, I needed to have custom LASIK with Wavefront technology. Although it was bladeless and also prevented night halos and other disruptions in vision. That’s always a plus!

The Cost

Dun dun DUN!!! This procedure would cost me a whopping $4600 for both eyes, and because it was elective outpatient surgery my insurance covered exactly 0% of the cost. If this price tag scares you a little, that’s ok. It scared me, too. But I would rather pay more and get a better job than have something go wrong… it also helped me to see the costs broken down.

The actual surgery itself was only $4000 (no tax) and each of the 6 post-op appointments was $100 each. Antibiotic and steroid eye drops and a take-home kit were also included in the cost. Moving on to…

The Procedure

First I had to see my optometrist and get a clean bill of ocular health. I had something like 3 months to proceed with the surgery after that initial inspection. I booked my surgery for mid-October and went back to TLC for a more intense mapping of my eye. I was absolutely happy to sit there and stare at bright little lights for 2 hours while they measured and tested my eyes, ensuring they got the best map possible. I did NOT want anything to go wrong!

I was pretty freaked out about the whole procedure, I’ve got some sort of phobia with the eyes, they totally squick me out. I can’t normally think, look or talk about them without making my skin crawl and wanting to vomit. Which is why I’m so surprised I actually decided to do this to myself.

They made me watch a little educational video on how the procedure was done, what tools they would use, what to expect, and positive and negative outcomes of the procedure. I pretty much skipped over it all, since it would freak me out even more than I already was. Normally I like to know every little detail about things like this, but this time… I just wanted to trust that they weren’t going to damage me. This was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life yet. I’m pretty sure childbirth will be a walk in the park after this.

Anyway, freak out moments aside, I was still ok with having this done. Especially since I would be given a sedative to keep me calm and relaxed during it. Or not. I put off reading the contract and waiver til the day before, and literally signed my life away. My parents had to sit with me and calm me down (I started crying like a baby) and remind me how great it was going to be afterwards. I was terrified, but still willing to go through with it.

The day of surgery we arrived and waited around for hours. Then I was taken into a dim room in a reclining chair, where some anasthetic eyedrops were given to me to numb my eyes. The attendant was really nice and did her best to calm me down, chit chatting with me and telling me exactly what would happen to me in no uncertain terms. The rational side of me felt better with this knowledge, but I was still shaking with fear. Have you ever had those moments where your base and emotional side just wants to scream and run away, but your rational mind is telling you : Hey Ginger, chill the fuck out! Its just a little surgery with highly trained professionals!

Luckily I had a meeting with the surgeon himself next, and he saw how freaked I was and listened to me when I said that “No sir, one valium will definitely not be enough” (I had another doc give me valium ahead of time to see how my body would react to it, and I would need at least 2 pills. Most people can get through the surgery without any sedatives).

So I got my two valiums and tried to calm myself down. I watched the lady before me refuse the sedative, go in for surgery and come out 15 minutes later saying “It was so easy!”

Finally it was my turn. I was still pretty nervous, but it was the moment of truth and I was NOT going to back down. They led me into the operating room (which looked like an alien abduction scene from the X-Files) and laid me down on the table, all while holding my hand and talking to me calmly. The doctor was great, he explained to me what he was doing, but without actually telling me what he was doing since it squicked me out. He just told me what I would feel in a nice, soothing voice. It definitely helped.

They did my left eye first. They clamped my eye open a la Clockwork Orange, then placed some suction-cup type thing on my eyeball to hold it in place. This was probably the worst part of the procedure. It didn’t hurt, but I could feel the pressure and it was very uncomfortable. I lost vision in that eye, and that’s when they made the corneal flap with the first laser.

I regained my sight when they took the suction ring off, but it was all blurry. At this point they had peeled the flap back. I was asked to focus on a little red light in front of me, and they did a countdown from 30 or so. There was a funny smell and loud banging noise that was caused by the laser doing it’s work (No, the smell was not my eye burning, you silly goose!). It was over in a flash. The second worst part was the doctor using this little sponge on a stick to smooth my flap back into place. Again, no pain but it bothered me to watch and it felt uncomfortable. They taped my eye shut then repeated the procedure with my right eye.

All in all the surgery went fine. I was in and out in 15 minutes, though it felt like much longer, owing to my nerves. I gave up all pretenses of being “strong” in the surgery, and started singing the ABC’s to distract myself, while wringing my hands. Eventually the nurses had to hold me down because I started to panic. It was quite embarrassing and unneccessary. I shouldn’t have lost control like that.

The staff was nice and professional and really did there best to help me through it, and for that I thank them. I think for any normal person this surgery would be quick and easy, but I just blew it out of proportion.

Once I was done, I was sent home with all my drops and instructions, and I slept for the rest of the day. I had sight right away, but it was blurry for the first 2 days and my eyes felt gritty and dry. After a while though they began to heal, and I could see! It was incredible!

You have no idea how liberating it is to wake up in the morning and be able to see clearly without glasses. I had nothing hanging off my face and fogging up outside anymore. I don’t have to worry about accidentally sitting on my “eyes”. And I look so much prettier!

It wasn’t until I finally got rid of the glasses that I realized how much they were holding me back. I am much more confident about myself now, and am free to do all the wild activities (kung fu, skydiving, white water rafting, horseback riding) I couldn’t do before. Every day I am delighted to realize that I don’t need glasses anymore. Little things throughout the day stick out at me, like not having to change between glasses and sunglasses all the time. It’s great!

Having my eyes zapped was one hell of an experience, and one that I would rather not go through again. However I am infinitely glad that I sucked it up and went through with it. It was truly the biggest challenge in my life and I faced my fears and came out alive.

So, dear reader: If you are curious about laser eye surgery, I recommend you do your research and pick a reputable clinic to do it for you. Don’t be afraid to fork over the cash and go through some discomfort for several weeks. In the end it is absolutely worth it.

I hope this helps anyone that was interested, and if you have any questions about my experience, feel free to drop me a line at gingercorsair at gmail dot com.

Laser Eye Surgery

Hi folks,

I made a comment on Krystal’s blog Give Me Back My Five Bucks about laser eye surgery.

I said I would write a post on my experiences with it, the costs and preparation involved, etc. And I will! But probably not until later tonight as I’m at work right now and can’t post more than this…

So please, if you’re interested you can come back later and I will have that post up. In the meantime, if you have any questions about LASIK eye surgery please feel free to email me at gingercorsair at gmail dot com. I would love to get some questions and be able to answer them in my next post.

Thanks, and see you tonight!

What I’m Reading: The Shadow of the Wind

I’m on a posting roll here, folks!

I am quite the avid reader and will read just about anything I can get my hands on, including cereal boxes and toilet paper wrappers. I think it makes sense for me to write about some of the books I read because I love sharing good stories and books. There’s just something so wholesome and good about reading and books… I love collecting them and I cherish them as some of my best friends.

I do have a few favourite authors and genres, but lately I have been stealing books from my mom’s bookclub list. Some of them are kind of crappy, but occasionally I’ll strike upon a golden one, like The Shadow of the Wind: Carlos Ruis Zafon.

I really loved this book because it’s essentially a story about books, and how they can draw you into their stories, and reflect your own realities at the same time. There’s a lot of really great parallels in this novel, and it’s very romantic… not in the kisses-and-sappy-lovemaking way, but in the love stories and tragedies that are involved. I really couldn’t put this down and neglected my laundry as a result last week :(

“The time is the 1950s; the place, Barcelona. Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, is 10 when he discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. The novel is rare, the author obscure, and rumors tell of a horribly disfigured man who has been burning every copy he can find of Carax’s novels. The man calls himself Laín Coubert-the name of the devil in one of Carax’s novels.

As he grows up, Daniel’s fascination with the mysterious Carax links him to a blind femme fatale with a “porcelain gaze,” Clara Barceló; another fan, a leftist jack-of-all-trades, Fermín Romero de Torres; his best friend’s sister, the delectable Beatriz Aguilar; and, as he begins investigating the life and death of Carax, a cast of characters with secrets to hide.

Officially, Carax’s dead body was dumped in an alley in 1936. But discrepancies in this story surface. Meanwhile, Daniel and Fermín are being harried by a sadistic policeman, Carax’s childhood friend. As Daniel’s quest continues, frightening parallels between his own life and Carax’s begin to emerge.

Ruiz Zafón strives for a literary tone, and no scene goes by without its complement of florid, cute and inexact similes and metaphors (snow is “God’s dandruff”; servants obey orders with “the efficiency and submissiveness of a body of well-trained insects”). Yet the colorful cast of characters, the gothic turns and the straining for effect only give the book the feel of para-literature or the Hollywood version of a great 19th-century novel. “

This summary from Amazon.ca doesn’t really do the book justice, you really just have to read it. I was particularly interested in it because it takes place in Barcelona, and I was able to make the connection between scenes in the book and the actual places I saw while I was in Barcelona a few years ago.

So there you have it. I’ve actually finished reading this book and am onto another bookclub steal, but I strongly encourage you to give this one a read! I’m sure your local library (or mom!) has a copy you can borrow.

I’d love to hear if any of my readers have read this book, and what they think of it!

Sweet & Spicy

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