Getting productive

It used to be procrastination that mainly kept me from getting things done, but these days I feel like I’m just forgetful. There’s a difference between forgetting to do something and choosing to put it off until later! I go in and out of phases of using Google Calendar to keep appointments and other things, but just last week I finally caved and decided to start using a task manager app. I’ve been using Todoist for a few days now, and I’m pretty impressed how much I like using it. It’s only been a few days, of course, so who knows if I’ll stick to using it – time will tell. But for now I think it’s pretty nifty, and it definitely helps me remember to do things that I might have otherwise forgotten.

Not in those shorts

I got turned away from a swimming pool today because I was wearing swimming shorts (or is the correct word trunks?) rather than swimming briefs. Is that normal? I wasn’t just wearing any old pair of shorts. I was wearing a swimsuit. I must confess, I don’t see what the problem was. I honestly couldn’t tell if the guy was being serious or just making up an excuse to not let me in.

For two weeks now I’ve been looking for two things in Rach Gia: A swimming pool; and a gym that has a pull up bar. (Because my life now revolves around exercise for strengthening and/or stretching my lower back, you see.) I tried going to this pool twice. On Sunday they were closed, and today they sent me home because of my swimsuit. I’ve been to two gyms (the only two I’m aware of in this town) that have all manner of weights and machines – but, of course, no pull up bar. I’ve also looked for calisthenics/bar installations in some of the parks, and no dice. Darn.

Everything else is fine and dandy, I should add, but it’s these little quality of life things that get me all bent out of shape. The pull up bar is a fairly easy problem to solve, as I’ll just get something that I can install and use at home. I will probably have to buy that in Ho Chi Minh City, which is a nuisance, but oh well.

A little tour

Yeah, so more about the house I just moved into! I’ll be renting it for almost a year, and Hien and Jane should be joining me here fairly soon. (Late June, maybe?)

Just inside the gate, there are quite a few plants and trees. It’s a bit cramped, and I have to be careful that I don’t break a limb off something when I’m going my motorbike in and out.

Front of the house
The front of the house, just inside the gate

Go in the front door, and there’s some wide open space. In Vietnam many people still park their motorbike(s) inside the house overnight to make absolutely sure they don’t get stolen – so maybe that’s what this space is for. Or maybe there was an entertainment centre there with a TV and things like that. I dunno. You can’t quite see it but to the left there is a sofa and coffee table, so it would also make sense to have a TV in front of it.

The kitchen is small and simple, but it’s all we’ll need. I still need to get a table and chairs. No sense in buying anything too big, expensive, and fancy, though, as we’ll just need to get rid of it again in a year.

Living room and kitchen
The living room and kitchen, just as you enter the house

Upstairs there are two bedrooms. Each connects to a private bathroom. There is also a large room at the top of the stairs. I guess that’s the family room? I never know what to call these things. In any case, that’s probably where will spend most of our time at home when we’re not sleeping. The family room has two small balconies and lots of windows. There’s another sofa and chairs set there, as well as a desk for me to work at.

Family room
The family room (upstairs)

The above picture was taken from the door to the side balcony. The right-hand side of the picture is the front of the house, where there is a slightly larger front balcony and two windows. A nice, cool breeze blows through in the afternoon.

Both of the bedrooms are air conditioned, but I don’t imagine we’ll use the air conditioning all that much as it’s really not very hot here compared to summer time in the north. It’s perfectly fine to just open the windows and have a fan running.

I still have quite a bit of organizing to do, but I don’t feel like doing much of anything else today. Save the rest for Sunday.

My house

My house
The house I’m renting for the next year-ish (hidden behind a tree). I’ll post more details – and more pictures – in a few days!

In the Mekong

I’m in for something a little different this year: I’ll be working long-term in Southern Vietnam. I have, of course, been down here on working trips before, but they were usually only for one or two weeks at a time. Now I’ll be based out of Rạch Giá in Kiên Giang province for one year. I just got here a few days ago.

Kiên Giang is one of the western-most provinces in the Mekong Delta. It’s a nice place in my experience. Rạch Giá is a nice city. Phú Quốc island – a popular tourist destination with nice beaches – is close by, so I imagine I’ll be making a few trips over there.

I’ve only been here a few days but it looks like I’ve already found a house to rent. I’ll be sure to post some pictures once I move in and get things sorted out! It will be nice to get settled down somewhere, and it’s something I need to do soon as I want to have everything sorted out before Hien and Jane join me down here during the summer.


Every so often I’ll read my horoscope in The Globe and Mail. Most of the time I think, “Yeah, that’s bullshit,” and forget about it. Today’s (May 18, 2015) is alright though:


There is no point trying to focus on everyday chores because there are so many great things going on around you that your attention is sure to wander. Save the routine stuff for another day – now is the time to have some fun.

Today happens to be my first day back at the office, as I’m just starting a new contract with Uniterra after having been at home doing not-much-of-anything for almost two months. My first day back at work and the universe is already enabling me to slack off. What could be better!? (Please don’t tell me I should be understanding it differently. :P)

What’s new? (Spring 2015)

I guess it’s just about time for an update. Where to begin..? How long has it been..? Tet, I guess.

In late February we did the Tet (lunar new year) thing here, and rang in the year of the goat (or sheep if you prefer). Winter felt surprisingly mild this year, with more nice, sunny days in January and February than I think there usually are. Aside from visiting friends and family, we didn’t do much during Tet. I was nursing a lower back injury. I had tweaked my lower back muscles playing ball hockey in late January, and I thought it would be better fairly soon.

Going into March, my back did feel like it was getting better — until it got worse, of course. This wasn’t just lower back pain, which I’ve felt with a few times before; this was pain in my lower back with pain radiating down the back of my right leg. (Sciatica?) So I went to see a doctor, he sent me off for an MRI, and it confirmed that I had a herniated disk (L5/S1) which was compressing the S1 nerve on the right side. The doc gave me pain killers, NSAIDs, and set me up with the physiotherapist. All of these things helped, but now it’s late April and I’m still not completely over it yet. Which really sucks because it has derailed my daily exercise routine(s) and makes life difficult in general. Even the simplest things – like putting on a pair of pants or tying shoelaces – can be quite the chore on a bad day!

The timing of my lower back problems was pretty bad, as my mum and aunt came to visit us in Vietnam for three weeks (late March to mid April). It was unfortunate that when they arrived I had to leave the city tours and other sight-seeing and shopping excursions to Hien and Jane, while I rested my back in a hotel room, went to physiotherapy, etc. Anyway, on my good-back-days, I was also able to join in the fun. In the end, we managed to take them to some fun places in Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh, and Hoi An. Things even worked out that they were able to attend my sister-in-law’s wedding in Ninh Binh and Thai Binh!

Group photo
A rare group photo of us during the three week visit

Since my mum and aunt flew back to Canada (two weeks ago now), I haven’t been doing a heck of a lot. Watching baseball, getting a few things done around the house, and waiting on my next contract.

Speaking of my next contract: It looks like I will (maybe?) be working with Uniterra in Vietnam for one more year. I haven’t signed anything yet, so who knows, but that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m just patiently waiting on everything to be sorted out over in Ottawa.

Sneeze related injuries

Back in late January I tweaked my lower back muscles while playing ball hockey. It took more than a month to get almost back to normal. It was a long and often painful time that involved a lot of “taking it easy” (when possible), and doing lower back exercises and stretches. Late last week, not long after I had just started getting used to being more or less back to normal, my seasonal allergies started flaring up. On Thursday evening I was walking around the house, and I sneezed. While sneezing I felt the most awful pain in my lower back, and my legs almost came out from under me! Great – time for a few more weeks of trying to get over lower back pain.

It was only a couple weeks ago that I had a chuckle at the expense of Kevin Pillar, as he was sidelined during Spring Training by a sneeze. Turns out, sneeze related injuries can happen to you too!

It also turns out that this most recent back problem is different from before. The injury back in January was muscle pain, but this time it’s nerve related (an MRI revealed that today). This is probably going to take a bit longer to completely recover from. I’m not sure if I can blame the sneeze alone for the nerve compression that is causing the pain in my lower back and down through my right leg, but it makes for an interesting story anyway?

Forgive me, Tux

MacBook Air
I bought a Mac!?

I’ve done a bad thing. Well, not that bad – I didn’t buy and install Windows! But I’ve been in the market for a new laptop for a while, and after a lot of shopping around and some careful thought, I decided to get a MacBook Air. I’m going to give OS X an honest try and see how I like it. If I eventually decide I can’t stand it, Linux ought to work well enough on this thing. Ideally, though, everything will “just work” and I’ll be happy with it.

These days I do most of my work in a browser (Gmail, Drive) so the only truly must-have things for me are functional wireless and an up-to-date browser. Wireless drivers are often the problem in Linux. At least I know with a MacBook that has OS X installed on it, these things will work out-of-the-box.

My old laptop (netbook actually) was a Lenovo Ideapad S10. I bought it in December 2008, and used it as my main computer for most of the last 6+ years. It held up impressively, though I did have to change the HDD once. It still works, but as browsers and web apps get more sophisticated, the poor little netbook gets more and more sluggish. We’ll keep it around until it finally dies; Hien wants me to install Windows XP on it and give it to her to play around with. I’m going to miss the Ideapad… but I won’t miss all of the trouble wireless drivers (Broadcom wl mainly, but others before it came around) gave me in Linux. Ugh.

Time to spend a few days learning how to use a Mac. This might actually be kinda fun! I need to learn how to live with this multi-touch touchpad, figure out the Mac version of all of the keyboard shortcuts I’m used to using, etc. Wish me luck.