02 July 2014

Getting to and from Mayne Island in Vancouver BC

We just returned from a four day weekend on Mayne island. We were lucky enough to get on a BC ferry where ours was the first stop. It's been a long time since I have been on one of the BC ferries and I see now that they have terminals where you can insert your credit card and get your one-way ticket.  They will not actually sell you a return ticket to the Island which I found interesting.

Did you know they can limit the number of walk on passengers that they accept? 

Renewing my Canadian passport

I have some exotic travel up and coming and remembered, again, that I need to renew my passport.  I do say that everything is much easier when you can have easy access to information. All the info you could want or need is on the Canadian Passport site.  http://www.passport.gc.ca/index.aspx?lang=eng


I've got the photos taken now I just need to actually fill in the paperwork and submit it. As soon as I find it in the mess of my office. Oh dear.

Update: Wow, I stopped in at a local BCAA office and was given a simplified passport application form to fill out.  It took about ten minutes, did not require me to get anyone's signature but I did have to mail in my current passport - and then, voila, less then 10 days later my 10 year Canadian passport arrived. How fabulous! Plus they returned my now expired passport which I will keep. They are small treasure books of past travel.



30 June 2014

What happens when you don't empty to compost

Nothing better than staring our morning off then opening up the back
door and finding your compost has been cheerily spread about.
 
  
Even Sophie decided it wasn't worth checking out the compost.

12 June 2014

Sakura Gala Opening

My friend Judy emailed me from Toronto and suggested that we check out this Asian event.  



This was a very fun evening of pink cocktails, boutique beers, tidbits of food.

04 June 2014

Breathing and the Calgary Flood



Isn't this something we take for granted - breathing. Yet is is so essential. I was in Calgary last year after the flooding and I stayed downtown at the Sheraton Hotel. They had this great amazing rate on the hotel room but the $40 parking put me off somewhat. Too much oil expense report money in that town. I didn't realize how close the hotel was to the river that had overflown. So I went out exploring with my camera when I came across this very tempting staircase that screamed "grouse grind" Calgary-style to me.  The staircase wasn't as extreme as our natural version in Vancouver but I rarely Grind these days.

Starting June 28, 2010 hikers will pay $10—instead of the current $5—if they want to take the Skyride down the mountain after hiking up. “By adjusting the single download price (for the first time in 13 years) hopefully we will cause inexperienced hikers to reconsider how they access the mountain,” the Grouse Mountain Web site stated. 

Now if that isn't mumble jumble I don't know what is. I do know that I used to hike it regularly (barely breaking the 1 hour mark if you must know) and then would have food and drink at top. Ever since the up-charge I haven't been back with my lot. Part of it was the doubling of the cost (it is $40 if you want to go both up and down in 2014 prices).  

To see my photos which are hosted on SmugMug please check out this link:
http://freshguru.smugmug.com/Work/Travel-Bug/Canada/Calgary-2013-After-the-Flood

Like the lightbox version instead then try this link:
http://freshguru.smugmug.com/Work/Travel-Bug/

If the link is broken please let me know - maybe you could stand on a tall building and call my name out or you could just comment and tell me the After the Flood link is dead.

Don't forget: Every minute is just a minute. Once lived it is gone forever. 





Rant: Keep Vancouver beautiful

There are just so many beautiful flowers (if you click on that beautiful flowers you will be taken to a Flickr album that showcases those flowers) in Vancouver. Just a casual walk around a few blocks can give you sensory overload. It is beautiful and I want to keep it that way. So my rant today....



I was working my office and happened to glance out the window when I saw a young guy, maybe in his 30s, casually toss an empty cup from his car to the ground. I watched it slid underneath his vehicle. And for whatever reason I just thought, that is so wrong what are you doing? This is a residential street. And forget if it was residential or commercial or anywhere for that matter. Your garbage is your garbage. Please, what were you thinking tossing it out casually onto the street? Perhaps you thought the next person who walked by pick up your garbage or maybe you just think that the planet is one big garbage pail. To my amazement, I got up my computer, went down tmy staircase through my front door and then went through the gate out onto the sidewalk and very casually I shout out that it seems the cup have rolled underneath his car. And I walked away up, towards my own car which was parked several houses down from where I live. I was pretending I was on a mission. He grumbled a little bit and I didn’t say anything else. He looked like a nice enough guy dressed in some sports gear, more like somebody off to play rugby or football. I came back to my place and didn’t say anything else but went to work on some flowers that were on my staircase. A short while after, I looked across and he was no longer at his vehicle and the cup that had rolled underneath his car was gone. I’m grateful that he decide to pick it up because he could’ve been a total jerk about it but also astonished that he would do it in the first place. But he knows maybe the cup is still there, and he just moved it to another part of the street to be a jerk. I hope not that’s my rant for the day. Please don’t toss your garbage out. Better yet bring your own cup stop buying all the waste. Yes I know it’s convenient, but be kind to yourself and be kind to the planet.





05 May 2014

FUSE Vancouver 2014

Several times a year the Vancouver Art Gallery hosts Fuse - a late night gathering that is a brilliant way to spend a few hours enjoying art, being art, handing out and taking advantage of what this city gives you. The cost is reasonable - around $17 (Free if you are a member) - and better than the cost of a movie with popcorn.
We stopped it at FUSE at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Sandy became part of the art by sitting in the chair. Watching herself on the video monitor. Moving into another room and lounging. Is this street art in a formal setting or is this live art enjoyed for the moment we are there? 

26 March 2014

Vancouver FleaMarket - spring beckons!

There is something about spring that gets me thinking about yard sales
and flea markets!
Here is one in Vancouver that I've visited just once:
http://vancouverfleamarket.com/

Now the previous post I created a collage and sent it via email to blogger.
This time I'm sending four separate files to blogger to see how they
display.

Spring and fleamarkets

There is something about spring that gets me thinking about yard sales
and flea markets!
Here is one in Vancouver that I've visited just once:
http://vancouverfleamarket.com/

19 March 2014

How much waste?





I'm taking a flight from Seattle to Kelowna, BC and I decided I would have one last morning cup of coffee. (Cut-off time for me is noon - not sure what you do but after that hour I'm pretty useless with caffeine). I'm got a lot of trash happening on my tray - plastic containers using half and half; some foil wrapping on the cinnamon bagel chips and pretzels (which I'm giving back as a quick look at the ingredients showed partially hydrogenated oils, canola oil and corn syrup all being used - I avoid these) and a plastic like cup - "the white cup is now green" - made from fully recycled and recyclable materials. It might be better than styrofoam (which Air Canada serves their coffee in) but hot coffee in plastic (or whatever this material is) is well just not my cup of tea. I'm not sure what elements are being pulled out of this cup into my coffee but I do know heat doesn't play nicely with plastic.

16 March 2014

No wrecking ball soon at 63 year old theatre

I'm trying to do a tidy up in my office and I came across a piece in the
Vancouver Courier dated Friday, March 16, 2012 dated with the title of
this post. I guess sooner came sooner than I thought. We are now one
year since that article was published. The theatre, bowling alley,
restaurants, book, insurance, yoga and hardware businesses are now all
gone and in its place will be 55 two to three bedroom condos and a
22,000 square foot commercial space that they are hoping will be filled
by a grocer. Which I find odd as the various formats from low discount
grocers to high end ones haven't worked in the past - and with a
Safeway, IGA, Choices and Greens all within reasonable distances I'm not
so sure if they can have a successful operation move in there - maybe if
they figured out the flow of traffic - parking was never a problem but
trying to get in and out of that lot with the lights, turning
restrictions, road barriers made it virtually impossible to get to the
business unless you were very adept at remembering the correct way in
and out.

Anyhow I ramble - I wonder what happened to the Ridge Neon sign -
perhaps it was sold or maybe it will show up at the MOV. It is always
with a bit of sadness when I see distinct elements erased from my
neighbourhood. Cressey is redeveloping the area and the article states
they have done hundreds of projects throughout the lower mainland. I
don't know if I have noticed their work before but I do know that there
is a sameness creeping into Vanccouver - kinda like lego land without
the cool little features.

19 February 2014

Hitting the ski slopes at Whistler

Okay have you ever wondered where time has gone. Here we are already
mid-way through Feb 2014 and I'm looking for photos to post. What do I
find? That last year I had already been skiing - and this year - well
maybe this weekend as it seems that there finally is a base. The weather
in Vancouver has been pretty darn great - in the past we've faced days
and days and days of rain. Yes we have had rain this year but not like
in past seasons. And when it is sunny in Vancouver well that just means
that weather isn't being so great in the mountains nearby.


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18 February 2014

Glow education - unexpected

Just recently I was in Calgary with no firm evening plans when I walked by a kitchen design store which I now know is Poggenpohl Kitchens Calgary.. I could see that there was some sort of class going on and it looks like food. So I struck up my courage and decided to go in and find out what it was all about.

Turns out the workshop was just starting and they were doing edible products like massage lube, air freshener and raw chocolates. The instructors - Lisa Scheffelmaier and Ashley Rodriguez of Glow were delightful. The cost was nominal. And the time was well spent.





Kitty with birds on screen

04 February 2014

My stay at Hotel Ă„ndra Feb 2014

Hotel Ändra - http://www.hotelandra.com/

There is something luxurious about sliding into a tightly made bed where
the sheets just seem to caress your skin. You stretch out and just take
over the square footage of your sleeping spot. The room is simple,
almost stark with the essentials.

And I love the Tivoli radio - it was intuitive and took me minute to
figure it out. Plus better yet, no major digital glow, an analog face
)(I'm sure there are people out there right now who cannot tell time
that way - please prove me wrong) and great sound.

The room is small but it feels roomy for one. Sleek shower heads and a
tub (room 416, lights that gradually turn on and off so very gentle, all
the basics covered off for me including a robe, a firm but soft bed,
plenty of pillows (even though I just sleep with one).

They offered to upgrade me but I'm here for just one night and the
$135.00 rate I got doesn't include all the taxes. For the actual 8 hours
that I will spent in here that rate is just fine. Plus the totally over
the top insane parking fee of $40 (could I just sleep in my car) so no
thanks. As for the parking it seems that it is attack the car driver in
downtown Seattle - even the parking lot wanted $40.00 and street parking
is limited to 2 hours.

I also have to include the exchange rate as our loonie continues to head
south.

They have some nice green touches - full size containers of shampoo,
conditioner and soap with travel size soap at the sink; no plastic bag
in the garbage container, the typical note about keeping the same
bedsheets for the duration of your visit. Ditto on the towels.

The Voss water, at $3.50 a bottle, was at least in a glass container.
Now I just noticed that this bottle of water has a nutritional label on
it - seriously does the USA (or maybe even Canada) require one to put a
nutrition label on water??

It is embossed directly on - but big bonus points for using glass. More
expensive to transport but nothing nasty leaching out of the plastic
into my water which then gets drunk by my body and enters into one of
the millions of cells that I have. Ah what the heck - I'm going to drink
tap water anyway. Seattle seems pretty safe in that regards.




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Blooper - travel: Shampoo, rinse, rinse?

You know when you travel a lot. At the best of times you can be a bit groggy after a long flight or drive. And you get to your hotel and decide to take a shower. Until they confuse you - shampoo, rinse, rinse? Do we have any shampoo. I have been know to use my shampoo as my soap at times but now I have a hair rinse and a body rinse? Go figure. This was taken at Hotel Ändra the day after the Super Bowl total smash for Seattle over the Broncos. No biggie. It just amuses me - maybe that is the way it is suppose to be.




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29 October 2013

Love the sign promoting fresh eggs

Road Warrior Chick commenting on egg signage. There is nothing I like
better than picking up fresh eggs from roadside stands, farmer's
markets, even at the grocery store (in the UK they actually sell eggs
from your normal everyday chicken to many more exotic ones (okay I admit
maybe only exotic to me). Usually the eggs can range from $3 to $6.50
(that would be organic eggs at the Kitsilano Farmer's Market in
Vancouver, BC).

Yes you can pick up those cheaper by the dozen eggs at any discount and
large corporate style retailer out. But right now I can afford to give
chickens a better life and give my body a better meal. After all,
everything you eat becomes part of the billions of cells your body is
made of. And then there is the taste factor - a lot of my eggs are
poached and the essential flavour of the egg itself becomes ever more
important.

22 October 2013

Comments received on Thomas Cook Vacations Site

These are actual comments received by "Thomas Cook Vacations" customers.....

1.  “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

2. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”

3. “On my holiday to Goa in India , I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”

 

 

 

4. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”

5. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”

6. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”

7. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”

8. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price”

9. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”

10. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”

11. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort’. We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.”

12. “There were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”

13. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”

14. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”

15. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”

16. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England . It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”

17. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”

18. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”

19. “My fiance and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”



12 October 2013

You call that Cream of Mushroom soup Air Canada?

I love the Air Canada lounges - don't get me wrong - really I do,
especially the business centre, the free newspapers (Globe and Mail
anyone) and magazines. They also offer up an honour bar and food. But it
is rare to see them list the ingredients of what they do offer up. In
this case they did. Now you might obsess about your weight (too fat, too
skinny, or maybe just right), wonder why you don't have energy, think
you eat right but aren't really sure. I'm a bit of a label reader. What
I'm looking for are just a few words that help direct my food choices.

Cream of mushroom soup sounds so innocent. My guy and I made some the
other day so for fun I thought I would list what did not go into our
soup but showed up in the Air Canada lounge soup (which I think might be
provided by CARA food services).

What didn't go into my soup:
Modified milk ingredients
Modified corn starch
Hydrogenated soybean/cottonseed oil
Corn Syrup Solids,
Maltodextrin (corn, wheat)
Autolyzed yeast extract
Colour (at least it is Canadian company they are using as colour has the
U included)
Modified cellulose
Soy Lecithin
Flavour and artificial flavour (just what is that?)
Sodium Phoshate
Lactose
Disodium inosinate
Disodium guanylate
propylene glycol (sounds like anti-freeze)
Calcium phosphate
guar gum
BHA
Xanthan gum
sulphites (okay this appears on my wine labels)

What our soups shared in common: Mushrooms, salt, sugar

03 October 2013

Twitter party with Divemex

A quick question was what colour do you like when it comes to peppers. I think I like them in a multitude of shades!
Posted by Picasa

30 September 2013

Selling Okra in South India

I wandered through South India a long time ago - almost 10 years now -
and I was quite taken back by the fruit and vegetable offerings.

27 August 2013

Bunch of Yahoos is all I can say

Okay I have been using Yahoo Canada for years and for whatever reason they have gone downright silly on their security. The worse thing is that I actually pay for the service - which means nada as I haven't found a way to contact a real person. And on top of it they send me an email stating that I cannot access my account for 24 hours. Then they tell me I can access it using my secret question - well why don't they just give that option to me the first time I cannot log on? Bunch of yahoos is all I can say. Now I will have to dicker around figuring away around all this.






 

26 August 2013

How annoying can Yahoo email actually be???

It must be me.

When I sign into one of my yahoo email accounts it is just brutal.
I have signed in again and again and again.
I try to access my Flickr account which I pay for (and from the looks of
all the free space they are now passing out I wonder just what I am
paying for).
Come on people - I just want to get to my Flickr account and upload
photos. Why are you making it so darn difficult.

I have asked to reset my password with my secret questions and they
refuse me.
I have asked that they email my alternative address and within minutes
of getting access to reset my password they tell me I must wait for 24
hours before I can ask again. WTF????

Then suddenly I see I am signed in and I wonder why was I just presented
with a screen telling me I can't get there.
They want me to clear my cache and nada nada nada.

They want my passwords to have upper and lower case and nada nada nada.

I have signed in from remote computers in remote countries like Finland
and it just gets worse.
No I do not want to resign in and verify who I am and when I was born
and my phone number or whatever stupid questions you are asking me.
Not when I have finally had success getting on line and I have a total
of 10 minutes to what I need to do so that I can get off and get on that
next train, plane or bus that does not have an internet connection.

And NO I don't want a profile. Go away. I want my emails and access to
my flickr account.
Am I asking too darn much.

All I know if that I have had it up to my ying yang with bloody secret
codes and pictures to determine I am not a robot; no simple way to merge
accounts; over the top security that just wastes my time and keeps me
from being productive.

I thought that if I paid for services that the response rate would be
better for me.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.

They tell you to contact customer service and then they whip your tush
into the endless limbo world of trying to find your own answer.

Have they ever even looked at how questions are asked so that at least
you would have a half a chance of getting the answer you need.

All I know is that I need to take out several hours at some distant day
and just streamline my dealings with Yahoo

And now come to think about it - it seems that the accounts services
that I pay for actually give me greater grief.

Hmm, I will have to ponder that.

24 August 2013

Sleep: Four Points Sheraton Hull/Ottawa - Gatineau

Road trip again - this time for work but I'm always conscious of room
rates (and mates actually).

Here is my like/dislike list for my stay at Four Points by Sheraton
Ottawa/Hull - Gatineau

Check in was pleasant and easy. And I have gotten used to the fact that
they always want to see my ID even though I am a member of the hotel.

I like to get parking included -this time parking was $15 but my room
rate was excellent.

A decent room rate (remember when you see a room rate you will be
charged anywhere from 4% to 25% more depending on what taxes you get
charged.
(ideal room rate for me is $125 or less - yes I am cheap but often I
check in late and depart early). Achieved in this case.

Working internet (so many places day they have internet access but it
varies greatly). Yes it works, easily, beautifully, they included the
code on my room key package. Thank you.

Windows didn't open (I didn't care for that but that is an almost
impossible feature to find these days) but they had black out shades and
it was easy to hide all the light leaks.

Loved the light weight bathrobes. I pack light when I can and often PJs
are left back at home.

Fabulous location - went for a short jog along the river across from the
Parliament Buildings. You could either drive to Ottawa, take one of
those BIXI bikes or walk across the bridge.

The room was well appointment, spacious and easy to work in - plugs were
easy to reach, a desk and comfortable chair, good lighting and a working
internet (didn't I already mention that).

Shower was clean and sparkled. And they had large size containers for
the soaps and shampoos. I like those - no I don't get to take them home
but they are less wasteful to the environment.

Did not like the plastic wrapped plastic drinking glasses.

Did not like the free Nestle water in cheap plastic bottles (this water
is not sustainable; it is wasteful and unnecessary plastic is bad for
the environment)

I would stay here again - and I quite like the Starwood Program.

23 August 2013

No thanks: Coffee Mate

My beef at the moment: those creamers they give you in hotel rooms. Yes
I know they are shelf stable but isn't their another choice.

Coffee in the room is a bonus - many times I just put it on to have the
aroma of freshly brewed coffee. And those decaf coffee pouches make
great shoe deodorizer.

What I don't like - never liked - and most likely will not like - is
Nestle Coffee Mate. I'll drink my coffee black thank you.

A blend of corn syrups, a list of ingredients I can't spell and water -
you want me to add that to my beautiful cup of coffee? No thanks.

This is the list of ingredients off their website - I think it is nice
that they tell you that it is current as of October 2009. Ingredients do
change and labels will reflect that but in this time and age it is
impossible to keep everything up to date. As a vegetarian you are out of
luck as Sodium Caseinate is linked to milk; I've heard diabetics say
that this is acceptable but corn syrup solids equals sugar in my books
so not sure why they just won't use some milk or cream; hydrogenated
anything is off my books (sure in moderation which is what I currently
get - I avoid it as much as I can and it still ends up in my food
supply). The list goes on.

NGREDIENTS: WATER, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN
AND/OR COTTONSEED OIL, AND LESS THAN 2% OF SODIUM CASEINATE (A MILK
DERIVATIVE)**, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, SODIUM
ALUMINOSILICATE, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, CARRAGEENAN.** Not a source of lactose.

Current as of October, 2009. Please see shelf packaging for any changes.

15 August 2013

A parking ticket in my hood? Why?

I've lived at my address for the past 10 years or so - it is a rental unit. Normally I park in front of my place and have never experienced any problems.  Sometimes I park on the street (my place is one block from the corner) that is perpendicular to my street - in this case Cypress Street.

I dash out the other day to find a ticket on my windshield. Placed on my car on the 12th of August.  The next day I get a letter in the mail. My, my Vancouver City is very prompt with getting this out to me.

So I go onto the Vancouver.ca website to dispute the ticket.There is a nice little diagram on the site. So far it looks pretty straight forward.



I start the process. The first thing that comes up is a check box that asks me to agree to the following statement......

I understand that a dispute only determines whether the infraction occurred—it does not consider why it occurred. I also understand that the penalty cannot be reduced, and that I must pay an additional $25 if my dispute is not successful.

Of course this infraction occurred - but I'm curious to learn why they do not consider why it occurred.

There were other vehicles parked on Cypress (including my partner's which has has been parked longer than the three hours) and they were not ticketed. Was it because my car was so dirty? Was it because I was parked less than 3 doors away but not on my "official street"? Was it because the ticketing officer did not like 20 year old SAAB? Did the officer run my plate through their system and see that I lived fewer than 3 houses away? Was it because recently the city issued new parking regulations to one street beyond mine and the officers are roaming the area to get their quotas up? I recently saw a car towed away - I live on a very quiet residential street and while the person may have been parked a little to close to one of those traffic calming circular gardens, cars and bikes could still get easily around it, s/he was still towed. What is going on? Why are the over-the-top rule following by-law officers not using a bit of common sense and courtesy?

Now I'm being told to agree that the penalty cannot be reduced - so why am I disputing it if I cannot have this amount reduced to zero?  

And to add injury to insult - I must pay $25 if my dispute is not successful. Unfair.  So the ticket is $35.00. I have lived in this area since 1998. I think the ticket is wrong/unfair and a waste of my money. And now I have to invest time into figuring out how to resolve it.  Not only do I have to agree to statements I don't support (there is no other option), then I must talk to a screening officer and then attend a hearing if the screening officer and I don't see eye to eye and then, if the ticket is upheld I get the bonus of paying an extra $25.   What I like best is that nice red final #5 box - collection agency - so the assumption being made here is that I might not pay my ticket and the City of Vancouver will then forward it to a collection agency.

What will I do next? I will agree to what I don't agree. And see what happens.

Here is what I wrote in the 500 words or so that I was allowed:

Hi: I've lived at xxx W 14th since 1998. I park in front or at the side street on Cypress. I have 2 cars. One is in for repair so am using one that normally isn't here. It is registered to me at this address. I wasn't near corner or blocking driveways, passageways, et. I'm 3 doors from where car was ticketed. I often park on the side st so not to hog prime spots in front. Also Wxxth is busier now since parking regulations on xxth were changed causing more cars to park here. Please consider this. Thank you. 

I submitted and got this back. Again I am confused. Should I pay it right now? Wait till they review it and take the chance that they won't get around to it for at least 3 weeks and then get hit with a heavier fine?