Monday, December 31, 2001

This evening, I run.

For our New Year's celebration, Jenn and I have signed up for a 8 kilometre event (sponsored by a local fitness shop) called The Resolution Run. I haven't trained (by running, that is) at all. I hope my basic fitness level (from swimming) and my longer stride will help me to keep pace with my wife. Why did I do it?
  • I wanted to do something different this year.
  • I wanted the free wind jacket that goes with being in the race (the entry fee was less than the jacket's price)
  • I wanted to model positive activities for our kids. I hope that they learn to mark special events like this with athletic endeavors instead of drunken binges.
  • I wanted a little adult time with my sweetheart.
  • I wanted to work up a good appetite before going over to our friends' place after the run.

Anyway I look at it, this is a good thing to do. Anyway except looking at the physical exertion part. Damn! I almost forgot about that.

This just came out today - the last day that EyeWire is still EyeWire. Now, DON'T tell me that Scott Adams isn't watching our situation.
I was once again reminded that Macs are signifigantly easier to use for video editing than PC. Yesterday, Banana and I started working on our second home video put to music. If we weren't so picky about the clips we were putting in, we'd have finished that evening. We pulled in an audio track from a CD, video clips from a Firewire-enabled video camera (which we controlled from the Mac, never touching the camera) and edited and cross-faded the clips with simple drag-and-drops of effects. Exporting it to a QuickTime movie that plays flawlessly on a Mac or PC was no trouble.

If it weren't for the installed base of business PCs and the massive amount of pirated PC software out there, everyone would be using these things.

Saturday, December 29, 2001

If you thought that Honda just made reliable, well-engineered cars, motorcycles and other internal combustion engines, you won't believe your eyes when you see the latest focus of my technolust. This is way cooler than an a robotic dog. Sorry Aibo.

It *is* pretty spooky to watch the video of this non-human thing strolling around in a very lifelike manner.

I'm feeling a bit schizophrenic lately. Should I be a businessman or a computer nerd? Work on my business plan or work on a browser-interfaced secure terminal session solution?

Decisions, decisions ...

Friday, December 28, 2001

Three weeks ago, I had a lovely time after swim practice, laying on the bottom of the pool, making air rings.

Air Rings, you say? Yes, air rings. The kind that smokers (the distinguished pipe smokers and young, snotty-nosed adolesents) delight in blowing at all us non-smokers. Here's how you do it.

Lay quietly on your back at the bottom of a pool, under at least three feet of water. Face the surface (at which point you should plug your nose with both index fingers, making sure not to have your hands in front of your mouth or eyes) and release some air by quickly but gently by saying, "Poop." Really, this works.

And YOU thought I was laying on the bottom of the pool doing some sort of deviant act. Shame on you.
I am enjoying (except for the part where I clean up dog barf in the wee hours) having this week as a "work from home" week. This is the first time in my working career that I have had virtually no commitments, impending deadlines or "on call" status to answer to during the Christmas season. Being at others' beck-and-call definitely has its disadvantages.

The past three days have seen me lounging about the house (for a whole day on Wednesday); cooking meals with, instead of for, my kids; teaching Banana how to play backgammon; spending the day at an indoor wave pool; working on a business plan for my new company; even doing some recreational reading - an insightful if not dark book I received for Christmas.

I am also planning a little getaway to someplace warm once I am done work.

Speaking of being done work, guess who quit her job in our happy brick building and is leaving on the exact same day as me? Don't panic though - she starts a new job in mid-February. I just can't get enough of this "change" stuff. Jenn's new position should be a whole new can o' worms, giving her the challenge she seems to need in her work life. As for me, I'm happy to just keep ahead of the challenges that come and find me in my work life.

My dog has the most delicate stomach of any dog that I've ever seen. Thursday evening I gave in to her sad, begging eyes and snuck her a few leaves of salad, thinking, "Dogs must eat foliage in the wild. The dog should be able to digest a little bit of greens. Heck, it might even be good for her."

Well, here I am, cleaning up dog barf with those plainly visible bits of salad at quarter after one in the morning. I swear that from now on, all she gets are dry kibbles and milk bones.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

Things I won't Miss When I Leave This God-Forsaken Company

  • the broken lock on the big cubicle in the men's bathroom
  • theivery of petty little stuff from the tech. services area
  • monthend reports
  • going to the kitchen and finding other people's old dishes in the sink
  • the dwindling supply of beverages in the communal fridge

Another Christmas come and gone, and the only thing that ended up over-extended was my abdomen.

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

Our family has decided to stay home for Christmas this year. In way of penitence, we ar hosting a Christmas Dinner at our house this evening. We're expecting my parents and Jenn's sister and her husband. Jenn has decided to do the turkey and we have outsourced the vegetables and dessert.

The stockings have been opened but the presents are waiting under the tree.
Santa's been very good to me, and to Jennifer. She got some new technology to play with which (oh darn) I have to help her set up and learn how to use.

Go figure.

Saturday, December 22, 2001

Friday, December 21, 2001

Thursday, December 20, 2001

I can smugly say that I am now done my Christmas shopping. This year is shaping up to be a very calm one. I've been struggling with the idea of penning another Christmas Times. The Christmas Times is, of course, the precursor to my vanity personal home page and the concept of blogging for me.

When Jenn and I first married, I found that writing a brief note in a Christmas card (trying to be informative, personal and entertaining) and sending this out just was not going to cut it for me. I needed more elbow room to express all that had been going on through the year. So, back in 1990, the year after we were married, I wrote a one page, double-sided note detailing how things had gone for us over the past year. I made copies enough for all our relatives and friends, folded them up and stuffed them into a Christmas card that was just signed, without the traditional quick sentence echoing the sentiment printed in the card. Wouldn't you know it - I got a pile of positive feedback. So next year I did it again, only by 1991, I had discovered Ventura Publisher 1.1, the first of the IBM desktop publishing programs. Things started to get a little jazzier, with clip art and even a photocopied picture of the family (just Jenn, Banana and I) on the back. From there, it just got to be a habit.

I managed to publish a Christmas newsletter every year until 1998. This was the year that Jenn and I spent a few months apart. It was a hard year emotionally on us both. We were able to work out our differences and come together as a family again by September, but when it came time to write the Christmas Times, I didn't have the emotional strength to put it together. Besides, how would I recap a year that was almost the end of our family? I couldn't gloss the event over and I just wasn't ready to talk about it.

After that year (1998), I just fell out of practice with my little newsletter. I even started one in 1999, but couldn't think of how to nicely put an explanation of the previous year's missing newsletter.

In 2000, I watched a colleague at work start to keep a blog and I was fascinated. I started blogging myself a few months later. This has been my outlet for the stories, quotes, rants and raves that I try to fill my Christmas newsletter with. I find blogging to be better, as you get the day-at-a-time view rather than have me try to remember and eloquently sum it up over a few holiday season late nights.

Finally, I think I'm ready to get back into the practice of producing a Christmas Times. Brianna has offered to help and I have a good, meaty year's worth of blogging material to draw from. I also have new technical skills and resources (scanner, digital camera, color printer access) to assist with the production. I am going to tackle it as a between-Christmas-and-New-Years project.

I'll let you know when it's finished.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Stress, pressure, family obligations and dealing with inconsiderate people are getting me down. That, and the emotional effort of closing down my office are weighing heavily on me today. I'm glad that I have some sunny work stuff on the horizon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Some companies are really cheaping out this year. Today, I got an e-mail from a vendor stating that the money that they normally spend on Christmas cards is being donated to charity, and if I wanted to see my card, I was to click on a link in the e-mail. The link led to a generic "Happy Holidays" message.

Come to think of it, it probably isn't so bad that they took the hundred bucks they usually blow on cards and stamps and gave it to a soup kitchen.


Speaking of charity, I am felling a bit selfish this year. I would like to contribute to a good cause where most of my cash goes towards those who need help and not administration (like some organizations). If you can recommend a good one, drop me a note.
Mild mannered IT Manager by day,
child taxi by evening,
website fixer-upper by night,
bloodshot-eyed employee by morning.

You'd think I would eventually learn.

Monday, December 17, 2001

Last night I went (as the spouse) to a big company holiday party. Now, the party itself was big, but what made it special was that it was a big company that was throwing it. The magnitude of the group made it surreal. Easily two thousand people, all gathered into smaller, familiar groups. Jenn had her group of friends from the office that she hung out with, but there were sooooo many people that I found myself wondering if there were any clean, respectable poeple who had nothing to do with PWC in the crowd.
Stress and worry are becoming a part of my life. It's 1 am and I can't sleep. Today, I lay down for an afternoon nap (normally a real treat) and ended up shouting myself awake after having a traumatic dream about trying to stop someone from escaping a deserted office building.

Thursday, December 13, 2001

I find that we are all desparately avoiding and dreading the one thing left to do at work.

Stuart, I cower before your greatness. That was some show.
Looks like the Segway has already been outdone. Another company has come out with a new all-terrain, ultra-fuel-efficient model that *could* have more uses than just transportation. I gotta get me one o' these.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Economic Status.

I’m realizing that very few people are at ease with their place on the financial ladder. Even those who have affluence are a bit uncomfortable letting on that they are better endowed than their acquaintances. A few days ago I was in the company of some friends, including one who has done quite well for himself. He was describing to us (there was a bunch of us together) with great enthusiasm and pride a new house that he was building. One of the group pressed him for details on the house size and the cost of some items. He started to skirt around details and I could tell that there was a touch of uneasiness in the conversation. The house was wonderful, but I don’t think he wanted people to think it was too wonderful. We all seem to like to keep our financial matters private from others.

I certainly feel that I am leading a charmed life. Both Jenn and I work, which provides us with enough money to have all the things that we need and even most of the things that we want. We live in a comfortable (but not too big) house in an established (but not affluent) area of town. We don’t live with any crushing debt, unlike the average Canadian who has $24,000 of debt on top of their mortgage or rent. On the whole I consider us, well … comfortable.

One day Banana asked me if we were rich. It made me stop and think – were we? What was rich? On the spot, I came up with a definition. Rich, as I defined it, was having enough money for all that you need, then having some left over. Although we never seemed to have any left over, this did sound like us. We did not want for anything. I had just never thought of myself as being rich. I just hope I’m not snooty. Give me a kick in the shins if I start acting that way.

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

McMonkey let me in on a secret - her best friend had a dream about kissing a boy. Eeeewwwwwww!

Don't tell anyone.
Christmas is coming and the social calendar is filling up like never before. I feel like I've finally made the "A" list, and I'm revelling in it. I am building friendships that I hope will last for some time to come. What's the cause of this sudden rash of gregariousness? Could it be separation anxiety of my coworkers? Pity for my impending career solitude? Advancing age of my children?

I really don't know.
"Turn it off, put it in a box, send it to Seattle."

That is my mantra.

Monday, December 10, 2001

Hello, gentle reader. Thanks for joining me over here at No Comment's new home. I think having everything (including your e-mail address) on your own domain is the way to go, if you have the wherewithall. Many thanks to my host for putting up with me AND putting my domain up. The cheque's in the mail.

By the way, if you have any links that point to the old domain (, please do a 'find and replace' to switch 'em to the newer, highly type-able address.

Today was the first day that Image Club/Adobe Studios/EyeWire phone calls were no longer answered in Calgary. We're just the bones, man.

Friday, December 07, 2001

Tonight, I wonder where the first girl I fell in love with is and how she's doing.
Banana has a ringette tournament in Lethbridge this weekend, so I'm taking the day off tomorrow to make it down in time for the first game. It will be a two hour drive to the hotel (with waterslides, no less). I've decided the laptop is coming along.

Blogging? Perhaps.

Work on the new corporate me? That's the plan.

EyeWire stuff? I don't think so. We close in 15 working days.

"So, what's your next move, Mr. Smarty-Man-Losing-Your-Job?" You may not know The Plan. As my end date is january 31st, I will be headed for the mountains to ski my brains out in February. After I've had enough skiing, I imagine (or rather, I'm told) I will want to find the working me again.

I've decided that I don't want to work at another standard "job." I am toying (quite vigorously) with the idea of creating and operating my own computer support and consultation company. I am working on a viable business plan and have, perhaps prematurely, asked some talented folks to help me out with a corporate identity. Then again, I usually come up with my best ideas when I'm under a deadline. I hope I have the innards of the company finished by the time they design what the outside is to look like.
Tonight's soundtrack: Just the whir of the cooling fans

Crabby people are the spice of life. People who not satisfied to go with the flow, settle for what everybody else has, not make a fuss. By stating opinions, we offend, alienate others, cause ourselves to be pigeon-holed, intimidate, anger and otherwise ruffle the feathers of those with whom we interact. When someone asks your opinion, replying with a lame, agreeable response is akin to saying, "I don't want to discuss this subject." An opposing viewpoint is what educates - challenges us to rethink and defend our stance.

When I refer to crabby people I don't mean whiners who disagree for sympathy. These types I can't stand. Nor do I mean angry people who throw reason out the window and use their base instincts to drive their actions. I am speaking of those who need a very good reason to change their opinion.

Have you ever spent a length of time in the company of someone who is totally compliant? Someone who is willing to bend to your every opinion, never take a stand of their own about an issue or present a different argument for a point taken? Conversations seem to go nowhere. Although with a crabby person you may get your opinions thrown back at you, you at least can carry a statement out into a proper conversation.

I started out my life as a compliant person. I did a bit of time in self-effacing mode and probably went through a whiny phase. I like to think I've reached self-assertive, but I have to remember, I am Canadian. I plan of making the progression to crabby as I reach about sixty, finally hitting my stride as a full blown curmugeon at about seventy-five years of age. I consider myself an intersting person to talk to, especially after I've had a drink or two.

So next time we meet, if something's bothering you, let me know.

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

Soundtrack: drone of Technology Manager's Meeting via phone conference (yawn).

I insist that my daughter's seven and nine-year-old friends address me by my surname. As a child, I remember being introduced to my neighbors as Mr. and Mrs. Prince, Mr. and Mrs. Creighton, and so on. I think having the difference of using someone's proper title is a good reminder that those being addressed should be treated a little differently - perhaps with more respect. In my experience, it just doesn't feel right running around, screaming "Mr. Prince, Mr. Prince!". Anybody that was addressed by their surname spoken to in a calm voice, standing still right in front of them.

When I introduce my children to people, I ALWAYS introduce the adults using their last names. The adults (usually parents of my daughter's friends) quickly correct me by saying, "Oh no, dear. Call me Maureen." If the adult is comfortable being addressed by their first name, I'm OK with it, too. If another adult introduces me by my first name to someone under 18, I'll politely re-introduce myself by saying, "That's right, but you may call me 'Mr. Collins.' "

This may seem a bit curmudgeon-y, but I'm sticking to it.

Monday, December 03, 2001

I wonder who's gonna be left at the office today ....
Did you ever walk around thinking you're an ISFP, only to bump into someone who tells you that you are really an INFJ? It happens to me all the time.

I spent a fascinating morning with a councillor (I'm not sure of his exact qualifications, although he goes by the title of Dr.) that was hired by the mothership to help us cope with the trauma of losing our jobs. I filled out a battery (Myers-Briggs, Learning Style Inventory and many others for which I don't remember the names) of tests about three weeks ago and sat down with him on Thursday past to go over the indications of the tests. I found out a few interesting tidbits that I had not yet realized, but the tests indicated (for the most part) stuff about myself that I already knew. Dr. Joe did confirm that I do have behaviors and personality traits that should serve me well as an enterpreneur. This is encouraging, as I am planning to strike out on my own and consult/help/work as a private entity. I have some clever minds helping me create a corporate image - this is the new identity that I alluded to in an earlier post.

Discussions with HR Lady (the only one we've got left) have been interesting leading up to this, as the Behavioral Description Index was always referred to as my BDI. For the verbally slurred amoungst us, that would be my "beady eye." Varying levels of hillarity ensued.

I found that speaking with someone about a detailed analysis of your personality and stated behaviors *is* enlightening, even if you only learn one or two things about yourself that you might not have realized. If you get the chance to do this, but all means, do it.

Sunday, December 02, 2001

If you're ever reading and you see the word 'teh', I most likely mean 'the'. It is one of my most common mis-types. You knew that, right?
Today I discovered that I am very, very protective of time that I have at home with my family.
I spent my morning (a really, really early part of it) sitting in an ice arena being what I thought I'd never be - an arena parent. Banana had a ringette game at 8:30 this morning. This equates to being there at 8 am to suit up, which means leaving the house at 7:15 in order to find this arena I've never been to, which means waking up at 6:45 am on a weekend (! ! !) in order to have a shower and brush my teeth so I can stand myself.

As I was sitting in the stands, one of the fellow parents spoke proudly for about fifteen minutes on how he is teaching his eight-year-old daughter to be more aggressive and competitive.

Yikes. Couldn't we just let our kids play without pressure to win? Banana enjoys being part of a team and her skating and stick-handling skills are improving at a fantastic rate. This, I find, is much more worthy of boasts than some kid being trained to want to beat other kids.
I know the Blog Date says it's Sunday, but it's really Still Saturday night to me. The kids are off at a sleepover birthday party tonight and so Jenn and I arranged to meet some friends from work tonight. We met with a group of Jennifer's friends and had a good ol' drink fest. I tried explaining the "blog" thing that I do, but was met with awkward silence and polite smiles. I just can't seem to get people fired up enough to rouse curiousity - maybe it's something in my presentation.

Friday, November 30, 2001

The end of the workday and one less employee. As our office continues it's spiral into oblivion, one of my staff came to the end of his job (as had been arranged in May - nothing heinous) and we walked him to the door. I am realizing as people go that it is not necessarily a bad thing to for them to be on their way. This fella that left is not going to bother looking for work right away. Who looks for employees to start in mid-December? He is going to spend the next month with his kids. I consider him a lucky man.


I'm torn between trying to distance myself emotionally from the group that will be remaining on in Calgary and wanting to warn them. Boys, if it sounds like manure and smells like manure and looks like manure and feels like manure, even if management says it's Shine-ola, guess what?


One of the things that I am going to miss the most is the clever and creative people that I have here at the office. At the ByeWire party, Reech got up and performed an inspiring rap to Bust A Move. The last half of the song (lyrics, Rich? Pretty please?) he wrote as a tribute to all of his ex-workmates. Little things like this that popped up all the time are the jalapenos of day-to-day events that make it worth going into the office and why I cherished my time hanging out with these folk. I guess that I'll just have to make a concerted effort to stay in touch with them.

Thursday, November 29, 2001

It's no easy task to write a song that uses the word "Oranges."
Golly, things are so busy here I hardly even have time to - HEY, you! What are you doing with that? Get back here!

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Maybe it's just late and I'm getting giddy, but I thought this latest press release from Microsoft was pretty funny.

Monday, November 26, 2001

Groucho Glasses

I'm getting a new identity pretty soon.

I'm so excited!

Sunday, November 25, 2001

I just added a page that chronicles my work history. I'm still hunting for one of my original Buccaneer Software cards.

Saturday, November 24, 2001

Sometimes Technology Sucks.

Last Friday I was off work due to good planning and stopped in at one of the local inventory liquidation places. Hidden amongst all the nick-nacks I found a killer deal - a Nortel phone with one of those BIG call display LCDs. The price was ultra-reasonable so I bought it. I took it home and it sat in a box for a week before I finally hooked it up. When I looked at the display, I discovered that USWest (apparently who the phone was originally intended for) paid to have advertisements of their "value-added" services displayed on MOST of the screen. As far as I can tell, there's no easy way to turn it off and claim the screen real estate back to provide useful information. The features that are advertised aren't even available here from my phone company.

Crap. Now I'm forced to view incessant, useless ads every time I reach for my phone. Can you think of anything more annoying?

It's snowing today, I had a nice sleep in, Jenn is upstairs baking highly steal-able christmas goodies, and I've been working uniterrupted on the computer for three hours listening to the Stone Temple Pilots rasp out some music. Does life get any better than this?

Friday, November 23, 2001

(tonight's soundtrack: my pre-1950's mp3 collection)

Thursday was the most surreal day. Two floors of an office building that was meant to contain 175 people contained only fifteen at any given point during the day. My direct supervisor and the whole office in which he works is closed for Thanksgiving, so no requests or demands came down the pipe. My e-mail inbox was eerily vacant. I worked until 1:30 pm, then went to a memorial service for the husband of a couragous and admirable coworker. The service was touching and heart-wrenching. After the service, I went to (and helped host) the company's Final Farewell Tour. After the afternoon's activity, I thought the mood would be quite somber.

Well, it wasn't. Over 120 people showed up, employees past and present - it was like a class reunion. We dined, we visited, we sang, we reminisced, we drank and drank and drank. I think that everyone realized this was the last time we would be together as our little company. It was a celebration of the great things that we had done and the fun we had. I worked as the Master of Ceremonies ... and work it was. During the evening, I made a toast to what EyeWire had been (plaigarized heavily from one of my post-announcement blog entries). We closed the place with the staff begging us to leave at 3 am. It truly was a party to end all parties.

By request, the DJ's last hurrah was a song by Green Day called "Time of Your Life". Maybe it was trite, but I felt that the sentiment was appropriate. EyeWire really was a learning opportunity with a beginning and an end. I don't think I'll ever work for a company like this, with a group of cool, talented people like this, or be able to expense another bar tab like this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

We all mourn in different ways. Tomorrow, I am to be present at two milestone events. I will say goodbye to a man who was loved by many, and then say goodbye to a company that was a place for many to grow. Moving on is sweet sorrow.

Wish me strength.
I curse you, Ron, for introducing me to the The Welfare Starlets.

Menstruation Blues has been stuck in my head since early this morning.

"I'm hurtin', I'm achin', I'm men-stu-atin',
don't touch me, just leave me a-lo-one,
I don't want to make love,
and a sure won't make supper,
'til these cramps are gone, gone, gone, go-one.


Monday, November 19, 2001

Tonight's Music: Seal

I've noticed that profanity has begun to creep into my vocabulary. I attribute my recent potty mouth to the stress of shutting down our office. This, on top of my daily, self-imposed stress (get the kids up, get myself up, be on time, don't get fired, keep the house orderly and well-supplied, etc) is beginning to wear on my patience. My use of profanity implies a very base level of operation. I'm just not willing to censor myself.

The thoughts (or rudimentary meanings) behind the words "shit" and "poop" are the same, but the use of the word "poop" implies a higher level of filtering. When I am not willing to do that filtering (through lack of energy or personal choice not to) the default pops out. Normally, educated folk do not use THOSE words. When they do, it has that much more bite and zing. I don't want profanity to be a thing that people expect from me.

I am going to try to clean up my act this week by making a concerted effort to get my language out of the gutter. I'll let you know how I do.


With that much said, onto ... FUBAR.

Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition. I love this term. It's a easy-to-say acronym, it rolls off the tongue nicely, it is cryptic enough not to be readily understood by the uninitiated and carries a strong meaning. I don't often get the chance to use it, but when I do, it's a treat.

"Sorry ma'am, but your machine is FUBAR. We'll need it for a while."

"What does FUBAR mean? It's pretty technical - you probably wouldn't understand."

Sunday, November 18, 2001

The truth behind the Bigfoot mystery.

I thought it was just a guy thing.

Banana has been in the bathroom for over twenty minutes. Either she's discovered the joy of reading on the can or the smell has killed her.
- This evening's soundtrack consists of Crash Test Dummies, Ani deFranco, Ladysmith Black Mambazo

This week, I was put in an awkward situation. One of my employees who is quite vocal about getting what he figures is his fair share, came to me requesting to leave early on the following day. I reminded him that he was covering for me that day. He whined and complained about having to stay right to the end of his shift, saying that work was quite slow, it was the last day of the week, and so on. He kept badgering and pestering me about having to stay, when finally I remarked to him, "I'll tell you what - you stay until the end of your shift, and I'll keep paying you. How does that sound?"

That was the last time the subject came up.

My snarky answer accomplished two things: it got my point across that he wasn't terribly hard done by; and it made me realize that I'd finally made it - I had the ability to stand up to a pushy, assertive person and be a sarcastic hard-ass when I needed to be. Those of you who have this ability may not realize that the meek of the earth really envy you sometimes.

Friday, November 16, 2001

At work, the end date for another whole department rolled around today. As they were packing up, I realized that there is still a lot of junk (physical, emotional and process-wise) that will be left behind for the four remaining employees (those of us staying after December 31st) to clean up.

It was sad, once again, to say goodbye to these folks. I think the Holiday/Goodby EyeWire Party is going to be a good Irish Wake.
I've decided that I like to attend pro hockey games better than pro football games.

Through some good luck, I received four tickets on Wednesday to the Flames game against the Blackhawks. I took my father-in-law, my brother and his wife. The stands have the regular rowdies, mascots, hawkers, all of them doing their thing and being pestertaining. When the game is in play, though, all sideshow-like activity stops and everyone, right down to the mascot, watches the game. At a Stampeders game, there are announcements going on, cheerleaders doing stuff, draws taking place, all while the ball is in motion. Talk about distracting! I find the focus that everyone is able to have at a hockey game something that rarely happens at a normal Stamps game.

As well, I noticed quite a few trophy wives at the game. Dressed to the nines, too old to be daughters, too young to be original wives, too firm and blonde to be natural. Each of them on the arm of some sweaty, balding, short, unkempt fifty-something man in a dress shirt with the top button undone and an expensive leather coat. Have they no shame? I guess I'm not one to talk. Two and a half months from now I'm going to be a kept man, too. Maybe *I* should dye my hair blonde and get some implants.


Wednesday night we had Banana's whole ringette team over for pizza and a visit. Things went exceedingly well with all the kids enjoying the chance to run around and be a big happy group off the ice. The move was a social tour-de-force for Banana. The other ringette girls remarked that she had the coolest room, a nice house, EXCELLENT parents ... I guess you could say she is now the envy of her spears.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

WARNING: If you are too close, small problems may appear to be larger than their actual size.

(words from someone who has one foot out the door and
already has a better perspective on life)

An Open Letter To The Supreme Being:

If you make my company's stock price go up to twenty-nine dollars, I promise I won't be greedy - I'll sell all my shares and wash my hands of these ... (umm) ... nice folks, forever.

Your Pal,

Last night I dreamt I was working as a short-order cook somewhere in the Rockies. I was living in a deserted hostel and came back from work one evening, went into the empty dormitory and found a family of seals. I remember thinking that the seals were quite tame, as I could pet or pick any of them up.

Not knowing what they were doing so far inland, I decided to let them stay and set them up in a bunkbed at the end of the dorm. Suddenly, my daughters were at the deserted hostel, along with many of their friends and all their gear (as if they had come for a sleepover). I took one of the babies from the dorm to show the kids and they begged me to keep the whole family. I found myself wondering where I was going to get a steady supply of dead fish to feed them.

Somehow, I think this dream has something to do with me wishing last Monday night (at swim practice) that I be reincarnated as an otter.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

I'm really digging our office theme these days.
Voyeurism. An interesting concept. You get to peek in on my life through my blog, and I get to have a look at who looks in.

Didn't know that, did you?

Don't be frightened, I just get to see the most basic of facts. Most web sites (mine included) have usage logs. They record your IP address, what page (if any) brought you here, what time zone you're in, what browser you used (Internet Explorer is still on top, dammit), what language you're computer is set to use, what domain you are in, that sort of stuff. I'm intrigued by where some of my visitors are from, both geographically and which domain they are from (if you browse my site at work, your domain is the last part of your company's web address, like

As a reader, you belong to a diverse bunch. I have readers from the Far East, Europe, Australia, and even Newfoundland. Some of you are rare visitors, stumbling on my site by accident through a search engine while looking up some obscure but interesting tidbit, and some are a-few-times-a-day visitors. I know how some of you found my web page (hello work buddies, relatives and my mom), but not all of you. I tried to get you to remove your masks (as it were) and visit or call in to my Blogparty. It worked, but not *everyone* came. I'm not sure why I'm interested in my audience, but I am.

I think you are all wonderful for tuning into my ramblings on work, my children, oranges, rickshaws and all those other things. I'm glad some of you return to my humble site, because I truly enjoy writing. I peek in on some of you occasionally via your blogs and webcams, but for the most part, I'm a lurker, just like you.

... and a Blogaholic.

Sunday, November 11, 2001

We took Banana to her ringette game this morning and McMonkey made the obvious mistake upon seeing the sign for the "Midget AAA Tournament" and remarked, "She's playing against midgets?"

Saturday, November 10, 2001

Friday, November 09, 2001

I went to a Remembrance Day assembly at Banana and McMonkey's school this morning. The program included a two songs by the school choir, a rambling ten minute talk by a World War Two veteran, and a trumpet solo by one of the grade six students.

There were about 75 parents that came for the assembly and I couldn't believe how many were recording the event with video cameras. Usually, it's the same faces behind the cameras at performance, gathering, event and concert. Do they really think it's a good idea to tape everything?

I am a fellow proud parent, but having every event recorded for posterity in video is of dubious value. Photographs of your son or daughter's minor events are bad enough - at least the viewer can leaf quickly through a stack, discarding the eyes-closed or otherwise embarrassing shots. Do you need to chew up future moments of your or someone else's life watching Jimmy or Sally in amoungst the herd of the choir ("that's her in the second-last row, eight from the left") as they stare, with a deer-in-the-headlights look on their face, not singing but coughing/scratching/yawning/zoning out for ten minutes? I think that some things are better just experienced and then left to develop and grow better with age in the imagination.

I did all those kid things. I sang in the choir, did school concerts, acted in school plays, performed in music festivals, went in swim meets - all that stuff. My mom and dad took a few pictures of me at these events, some of which I still have. At each one of these showings, things went flawlessly. I remembered all my lines, almost won all the races that I was in, sang on key, dazzled the audience when I spoke and generally wow-ed everyone. Do you think I want to see irrefutable evidence of what really happened at each of these events? Some things are better left relegated to memory.
Don't get me wrong - I still love eating them.

Mandarin oranges, that is.
You would think walking would be easier. Don't burn up too much time playing with this.

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Work is bloody depressing these days. The main floor is empty, save a few pockets of life. Walking around there is like being in the first scene of The Andromeda Strain, where the whole town of five thousand people are dead except for two that are tucked away in the far corners of the place. You can tell that there *was* life here at one time due to desks with books, work supplies and debris of projects scattered about. Everything looks like it was hastily abandoned, creating an eerie, vacant workscape.

Dealing with the mother ship is frustrating, too, as my flight out of here keeps hitting turbulent pockets of arrogance and non-comprehension ... sometimes both. At least now they are realizing the proximity of the end and are feverishly trying to do all the work themselves that my team has 80% completed.

And if I think it's bad now, wait until November 15th when we lose the next batch of graduating employees and have more systems to hand over.

Well, I did it. I bought a Nomad Jukebox. I'm putting quite a bit of effort into ripping all my favorite CDs, but it's a labour of love. I haven't treated myself to a true, undisguisable present like this for some time, so I think I'm due. Besides, it's still way cheaper (and more practical) than the other goodie I was thinking of.

My workmates did the math and informed me that it should be able to produce (when filled) fifteen straight days of uninterrupted, non-repeat music. Seven gigabytes filled, thirteen to go!

Glug, glug, glug!


I'm back in the water this week after a three-practice hiatus (a too-late-to-make-a-reasonable-showing day, a handing-out-candy day and an I'm-getting-ready-for-my-blogparty day). Monday was a killer practice - what's with that? Doesn't our coach know we're old folks? I'm still really enjoying swimming and will fight for my right to go to practice.

The swim team went to the pub after practice last night and we got to see each other with clothes on. We're really an intersting bunch when we're not gasping for breath. The Two Broads (and "broads" is the best word for them - trust me) that swim in the lane next to me are real wild ones. They're good buddies and purport to be former hell-raisers. I don't doubt this as they both look to have been up late and partying hard for the full forty-some years of their existence, have raspy, smoked-too-much voices and regularly swear like Jack Nicholson provoked. They are talking of going to an out-of-town swim meet in March. I'm willing to sponsor a camera crew just to see what these two crusty babes get up to.

As we sat and talked, the male-bashing session lead to a discussion of childbirth and labour. One of the Broads told a story about being in labour for over three days with her last child! Well, things quickly progressed into a scene from the Four Yorkshiremen, all of us lying about past injuries and endured pain. What a hoot.

One other interesting character we have on the team is a Dolph Lundgen-sized fifty year old. He's the athlete's athlete too - plays all kinds of sports, strong as a bull, buzz cut, square-chiselled jaw, big broad shoulders, the whole bit. He's dead serious when he's at practice and (to his credit) works incredibly hard. I haven't got a good nickname for him yet, but I think The Torpedo will do for now. Swimming in his lane (which I've done a few times) ensures that you'll be hit by a one-foot wake once every length. Up at the pub I asked our coach how long The Torpedo had been swimming. She said that he had been swimming since he was about seven. One of the others asked when he stopped, meaning when did he leave competitive age-group swimming - a life most notable for having an exhausting, highly disciplined schedule of eleven two-hour practices every week. She remarked, "I don't think he did stop."

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Mandarin Oranges are Here!

The one thing I hate about eating them is when you first have to break the skin and you get the white part of the orange peel stuck under your fingernails.


Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Well, bless my soul. My stock options just came up for a breath of air.

Maybe I need a Chinese noodle cabinet, too.

Monday, November 05, 2001

I had a very interesting encounter on Sunday. McMonkey has been showing some curiousity towards religion lately, so I've been taking her and Banana to a United church close to our house. On our first visit to the church, I dropped McMonk off at Sunday School where she straight-away informed the teacher, "I'm agnostic but I'm here anyways."

Yesterday's service was very, very interesting. The church board had invited Dr. Nadvi, the leader of the Calgary Islamic Centre in Calgary, to speak to the congregation on the basic tenants of Islam, so that we could better understand (and therefore be tolerant of the differences of) the muslim community. I thought it was an excellent idea. I found out afterwards that the Sunday School had discussed what Islam is about, too.

He told the congregation what the basic principle was behind Islam; how it differed from Christianity and Judaism; some of the daily practices; what the beliefs were and the rules for life as a faithful muslim. The questions that congregation members had for Dr. Nadvi centered around belief in Jesus (which muslims do, although they believe that he was just a prophet), treatment of women as lower socially (which Islam does not teach - he explained that this was more of a cultural thing) and whether or not he considered Osama bin Laden the Anti-Christ (which he doesn't, although he does not condone the actions that bin Laden had taken and doesn't consider him to be a true muslim).

Most members of the congregation that day were seniors. There was fear on most of their faces or in their actions, but I was impressed that they had come to hear this man, who (for many of them) might embody "the enemy." I made a point of thanking the minster for holding a service that expanded the group's horizons rather than corraled them.

Sunday, November 04, 2001

Thanks to everyone who came to the shaker last night. I enjoyed your insights and opinions, even though we didn't pick apart any specific blog entries. The best part was that my neighbor gave me back the full amount of the damage deposit for his lawn. So, who's holding the next one?

By the way, here's a that irreverent ditty we discussed as the evening's discussions turned to taboo subjects.

Thursday, November 01, 2001

Things are getting desperate. I'm thinking of making blog entries about other blog entries. I gotta get a life.

Any more takers for the party? You'll need to let me know if you're coming.
Unchallenging Job Haiku

November has come.
I think I need a day off.
But today, I work.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

I am besplendant in my turtleneck, sports jacket and devilish horns, handing out pink slips and stock options with an astronomical strike price, all the while deftly handling my yoyo.

Guess who I am?
Well, it's Hallowe'en, and I can't wait to reveal my costume at work today.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

"I don't know" is an answer, too.

The fashion police caught me on the way out the door today. McMonkey told me I couldn't wear my Old Man slippers to work.

Monday, October 29, 2001

A good lesson was to be had on Sunday. I was out with Brianna when we got to feeling a bit peckish. We stopped in a small convenience store and each picked out a chocolate bar. We walked to the counter, plopped our soon-to-be-consumables onto the counter only to hear the clerk demand two dollars and twenty cents. Astounded at the price (I was expecting MAYBE a dollar each at the worst), I asked the good fellow how much they were each. "A dollar and ten cents," he replied.  I was astounded. "No thanks, I didn't think they were that much." With that, I turned and walked out. 

Afterwards, I asked Brianna if I had embarrassed her, to which she replied that I hadn't. Yes, I was shocked at the price (I'm sure that I *must* have Scottish blood in me somewhere) but more importantly, I wanted to teach my sensitive, people-pleasing, compliant daughter a lesson. Even when you are at the counter with the merchandise in front of you and the transaction almost complete, there is still time to call off a deal and walk away. 

There will be a time in her life when she will be negotiating some sort of trade, barter or compromise. She will be negotiating for something much, much more valuable than a chocolate bar. Somewhere in her head (all but drowned out by the other negotiating party and extenuating circumstances) will be the Voice of Reason meekly interjecting with "I don't think this is right." I want her to know, understand and believe that it is never, ever too late to walk away from a bad deal. 

Even after the deal is done, if the consequences of remaining in the deal are worse than the penalty, just walk away.

Joce and Colin get hitched

Last weekend, Jennifer's sister Jocelyne tied the knot with Colin, a fella that she's been engaged to for over four years. They did a quiet ceremony on a private dock in Victoria at her other sister's place (who is Sibling 8 in the series).

Colin was heard to remark during the ceremony,
"Well, I'll be McMonkey's uncle."

Congrats, you two nutty kids.
Man, you wouldn't believe what some people keep. Here's my site from 1997. This stuff is so old it has sideburns.
Seeing the new Apple iPod, looking at the price and really, really seriously considering buying something portable to play my MP3's on makes me realize what a great, great product the Creative Labs Nomad is. Now, they've come out with a 20 gigabyte version. As cool-looking and small as the iPod is, the capacity and PC-compatibility of the Nomad definitely has something going for it.

Somebody stop me before I buy something!

Sunday, October 28, 2001

Thank you, boss man in Seattle, for the Amazon gift certificate. I just traded it in for a bunch of DVDs.
(thanks to the Kentucky Headhunters, the Ennis Sisters, the Champs and the Monkeys for providing tonight's soundtrack)

Finding yourself a good book has got to be one of the few things that really can't be rushed. I was out for an afternoon stroll with Banana, and we ended up in one of our local bookstores. I chose Life's Little Instruction Book for $3.25. Hokey as it sounds, I enjoy the sappy and trite sayings in these bathroom books. The current bathroom selection includes:
  • Life's Little Instruction Book
  • Hacking Exposed, second edition
  • the February, 2001 edition of Photo District News that I swiped from work
  • Sabrina, the Teenage Witch's Magic handbook (die-cut like a left hand)
  • Something Under the Bed is Drooling (a Calvin and Hobbes compilation)
  • Calgary Herald's "Careers" section, and no, there was nothing of interest in it for me.

The Rubik's Cube has come back to haunt me. I (like many of my fellow nerds) took the challenge to heart when it came out and learned to solve it. A mental exercise in spatial relations and creating a nomenclature for three-dimentional moves, it was just something that had to be done. Oh, the days that I had nothing better to do than memorize those turns and cranks.

A few nights ago, McMonkey happened across one of my old my cubes (from where, I don't know and YES, I had more than one). She asked me what you were supposed to do with it, to which I answered "Make all the sides the same color."

"Can you do it?" she asked , and then stood expectantly and waited for me to solve it before her eyes. The more elementary of the series of moves came immediately back to me and I started to spin and twist the cube. I was able to complete two of the levels before the mental well began to burp air. "Hmmm," I remarked, "I used to be able to finish this."

"Oh." Mackenzie answers. She toddles off, having given a puzzle-solver a momentum-building push down the hill of challenge. Now I had to solve it. Now, there are multiple ways of completing it, varying in approaches from using the fewest moves to following a long, drawn-out regimented series of moves. I turned to my old buddy, the Internet and my favorite search engine to find my a method that sparked a memory or, at least, wouldn't be too hard to memorize again.

I found my instructions, printed them out and then threw away 45 minutes of my life yesterday to re-acquaint myself with that talent of very limted value. I'm a cuber again.

Friday, October 26, 2001

I like Madonna's song "Ray of Light." I hope I still do after the Windows XP advertising campaign is done with it. I spent Thursday morning at the official rollout of Microsoft's newest product. Nothing special, really, just a big media hype. I *did* get a free copy of Windows XP, which bugged the heck out of one of my hardcore-windows acquaintences. Due to the way it handles licencing and mandatory registration with Microsoft, you cannot just share it around - one licence key, one registration.

I also spent Thursday afternoon in a outplacement workshop at work. The mothership is trying to prepare us for the outside world be giving us job-search workshops and resume writing classes. This afternoon, we critiqued each other's resumes. ... and what was the most common comment?

"What font is this?"

I hope the real world is ready for us.


I am having to crack the whip at work to get all of the disposal duties happening. I am having trouble motivating my team, including myself. This stuff has to get done soon, or it will be just me with three man-months of work to do by myself. In one month. That would really suck.


Today's fashion faux pas - black shoes and white sports socks. How far do I have to go to get attention?

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Shhh - my deviant dressing experiment has begun.

Today, I clash. Green shirt, tan pants, black shoes. I'm sure I will go unnoticed.
I went to buy some bread this morning at the local gas station/convenience store. I couldn't find the bread and so I asked the lady behind the counter (a woman in her late forties) where their bread was. She pointed me to the location of the very last loaf of bread. She apologized for the lack of selection by saying, "We never know when the bakery guy is gonna bring us more. He's very erotic."

Being so early, her comment caught me off guard. I paused for a moment, smiled slightly and then fought back the urge to say in my best deep, breathless voice, "Oooohhhh, so what does he wear?"


Well, *I* thought it was funny.
Hey, Bryce, don't you wish you were me, too?

Now I'm jealous.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

With any luck, I'll be spending a good portion of February here. Eat your hearts out, gainfully employed people.
Tick tick tick - November 3rd is next weekend. Let me know if you're coming.

Sunday, October 21, 2001

Do animated GIFs ever get tired?
I spent the majority of the day out in the yard raking leaves, taking down the siderails and the ropeladder on the treehouse, cleaning out flowerbeds and putting everything to bed before winter moves in. The fresh air did my spirit good. I also spent some time talking to my semi-retired neighbor. He's the nicest guy but he does have one quirk - he's a Serial Talker.

"What's that?", you may well ask. Go on, ask.

OK, I'll tell you. A Serial Talker is one who dominates a conversation with a steady, unending stream of conciousness, never letting you add to what is supposed to be a dialog. Practiced serial talkers can keep a monologue going (without even apparent pauses for an intake of breath) for upwards of twenty minutes. Next time you are having a conversation with someone, note that there are occasional pauses where the speaker finishes a contained thought and a natural break will occur in their speech. At this point, you will normally:
  1. make some sort of affirmative noise, encouraging them to go on, or
  2. insert a question to pull more information out of the speaker, or
  3. take your turn at adding to the dialog, or
  4. end the conversation and go back to what you were doing before you started talking to that person.

With a Serial Talker, this natural pause, this volley of the conversational tennis ball of control and focus never occurs. They hang onto the ball ... and run.

This morning, I was clearing the table and needed to shake off the tablecloth. I gathered it up, went out the front door and was spotted. The serial talker had me in his sights and innocuously lured me over.

"Hear about the water ban?" he coyly asks.

"Why, no." I niavely answer. "Is there one?" At this point, I have wandered out of the house and into full view. It is a brisk spring morning and I am wearing slippers (thank God) but no socks, jeans and a light t-shirt. I am in full view, with no one else to protect or distract me. My serial talker neighbor seems especially adept at luring me into his grasp when I am busy, distracted or (as is the case now) in some sort of physical discomfort - I will soon be freezing to death. The conversation banters back and forth for a few seconds, and then it starts. The serial talker's amblings cut a zig-zag path through present and past experiences, with various relavant bits of city and world events thrown in as I try (in vain) to enter the conversation again. Only those who have dealt with seasoned serial talkers know the frustration felt by the thought, quip or anecdote that watches the conversation's course weave towards it's getting-out point, only to have the train of thought continue on without so much as a toot of the whistle. The thought can only settle back in it's seat and forelornly watch it's stop quickly fade into the distance. No combination of insertions, monosylabic exclaimations, facial expressions or body language seems to put the dedicated Serial Talker off.

By now, I've spent about ten minutes outside listening to the serial talker. I have goosebumps and am visibly shivering when he remarks "... but I don't want to go on boring you - you must be freezing in just a t-shirt and look at me, with my down-filled parka."

At this point, I don't dare give him any tidbit of answer to continue on from, so I blurt out "Yeah," smile slightly, wave a hand in a terse "goodbye", and physically back away. I head for the house before hypothermia sets in.

Later in the day, I ended up out in the yard with a sweater and proper shoes and socks, ready now in case I should be cornered or lured over again. I did end up talking to him later in the day, only to be rescued by Jenn. That's what wives are for - getting their husbands out of awkward social situations.

Don't get me wrong, he's a nice guy, but, jeez, I wish he'd let me get a word in edgewise.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

The new Aibos are available but they are a BIG letdown from the original, cool dogs. They look like an anime-inspired, transgender undefinable-species thing. I personally wouldn't want to pay $850 US for something that is going to further the biggest cross-media child-targeted ad campaign the world has ever seen. Those things are butt-ugly.

When I blow my, ... I mean, *IF* I were to blow some of my Getty "get lost" money on an Aibo, it would be on a sleek, silver model 210. Robots are supposed to be silver or gold, not Latte, of all things.

If someone calls you a peach, maybe it's because you're hairy and have a heart of stone.

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Today, two different people have asked me if I'm happy with my life. Am I giving off restless vibes, or am I just being overly sensitive?
Jon's winking eye gives me the creeps, yet I sat and stared at it for about 30 seconds.

What's with that?
Hildur says that North Americans are exposed to 2000 - 3000 advertisements every day.
Work's been extremely nutty these days. We are working to get most of our responsibilities transferred to the mother ship before we are left behind. Now I know what the descent module on the Apollo missions felt like.
I am having way too much fun with my digital video camera, my G3 and iMovie! I can't wait to be an unemployed bum!

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Hear, hear, Jane.
Faith, in terms of belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence, is a good thing to have.

I have faith that all of this paranoia about terrorist attacks will pass. Although more people are likely to be killed, I also have faith that my family and friends will be spared. I can't spend my whole life in fear. There is a difference between taking precautions and being irrationally overprotective. I've heard that some people in our corporate office refuse to drink anything but bottled water and they are opening mail using gloves. At that point, I think the terrorists have won.

Friday, October 12, 2001

Blogaversary Party

It's been a year of writing and I'm still OK. If fact, I'm better than you can imagine. Blogging has really helped me vent, remember, pass on wisdom, and distract myself from other craziness that I've experienced in the past year. I've enjoyed it so much that I want to have a drink in celebration and I've decided that you, gentle reader, should be here with me to enjoy it.

I appreciate that you've been reading and sharing my observations of my life. Some of you I know through e-mails (or personal contact) regarding blog entries. Some of you I know through links to and from my blogs. As we have shared little bits of each other, I thought it would be nice to get together and meet, face to face.

The anonymity of the web may prove this to be a bad idea, but I'm going to give it a try. If you are interested in stopping by in person or by phone (we'll see if I can get a webcam rigged up for the event) AND you plan to be in Calgary on November 3rd after 7 pm, you gotta let me know. Include:
  • how many people you are bringing
  • what you prefer to drink
  • how you plan to attend (in person, via phone or web browser)
  • if you're really a nutcase that plans to physically attack me for something I've alluded to or you've imagined in one of my posts

I'll send you the address (or phone number or IP address) and make sure to put a beverage of your choice in the fridge. You can look forward to talking with others who read or keep blogs, too.

I'm interested to see who turns up.
As my time at eyewire draws to a close (77 working days by my count), I feel compelled to start planning more seriously for my future. I've got an idea for a business, and I am investigating its (it's?) feasability. I guess I'm more of a planner than I originally thought. The business is service-based, 'cause service is something I know. If the numbers work out (meaning it would eventually make money), I might fill you in with the details.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

cheaper and cheaper rates

Some trends in junk mail are good. I would have been some kind of angry if I had just sent in the application from the first offer and then had the second (or third!) land on my doorstep.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

I wish I had more time to blog and tinker with my site and my equipment and and and and ....

(Annie Lennox and Alanis Morrisette are taking turns crooning to me right now)
It's about time for a party and you're all invited.

How does November 3rd sound?

Details to follow. Soon.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

Two different parts of me are struggling with how to deal with my youngest daughter. The uptight, conservative, orderly part of me wants her to keep her room tidy, not make messes, damage walls and furniture in our house, leave half-finished projects everywhere, stay up late coloring, reading and dressing her Barbies. Another part of me recognizes that she has a creative energy that would be a tragedy to have stifled, and I should smother her in hugs for being such an interesting child.

I need to remember that the clutter in her room is only a problem to me. She is perfectly fine with it.
It's looking more and more like I will really be the last one at the office, throwing out coffee cups and sheets of paper.

Will that ever be a crummy job.
Lots to be thankful for these days.

Friday, October 05, 2001

Fun Things to Tell a Temp (from Dilbert's List of the Day):

The boss just had breast augmentation surgery and is very proud of them. Be sure and compliment her.

Thursday, October 04, 2001

Quick Updates:

The temperature changes in this office are one of the things I WON’T miss.

I talked to a recently laid-off ex-eyewirite and they noted that they were still just as busy, but now they weren’t being paid. I could see myself easily falling into that same trap.

I am bewildered by the air of importance that people that wear suits seem to put forward. Nobody’s job could be that critical.

I’m really tired and grumpy today, so don’t come looking for anything. I’d rather be anyplace else.

Wednesday, October 03, 2001

Part of my misspent youth included some vandalism. When I was in university in Edmonton, I rode by a big temporary roadside sign every day. One fall morning they were advertising ADVENT CALENDARS for $3.99.

When I rode home late that night, I couldn't resist shuffling a few letters. For the next 24 hours, Colonial Meats sold CADAVERS for $3.99.

That kept me amused for the rest of the term.
If it gets any hotter around here, I'm gonna have to strip down to my skivvies.

Tuesday, October 02, 2001

To IP or not to IP; that is the question ...

I am toying with the idea of getting a static IP address at my home office.

Don't I have enough complication in my life? I could end up spending 12 hours a day just tweaking my HOME system! There's definitely no money in that - I know I can't afford myself.

Just think of the possibilities, though ...
  • my own web server, with almost unlimited gigabytes of downlaodable goodies for the five or six people that visit
  • my own mail server to build, maintain, patch, prop up, virus scan, clean out and occasionally rebuild
  • my own DNS server, 'cuz heaven knows I wouldn't trust a professional ISP to provide a service THAT important
  • new, increased monthly expenses from our local telco for my wife to get excited about
  • never mind the extra power consumption, the noise of whirring fans, floor and shelf space to be taken up, etc.

What could be better?


By the way, my home office is now permanently tri-platform. I am running Linux RedHat 5.2, Windows 98 (soon to become Windows 2000 Professional when I get 4 spare hours) and Mac OS 9.2.1 running on a recently acquired G3. I forgot how bonehead-friendly Macs are - it only took two hours of next-next-next-next-reboot's until I had things the way I wanted them. I still need to get printer sharing set up on the Linux box (disguising itself as a file and print server, no less). If tinkering is a sin, I'm going straight to hell.

See what happens when my wife heads out of town? No one is around to shoo me off to bed at a decent time.

Monday, October 01, 2001

Tonight, my swim coach moved me into the fast lane. I'm a speedster again!

Sunday, September 30, 2001

After watching an excerpt from the new Star Trek prequel, "Enterprise", a coworker had this remark.

"When people go to Mount Rushmore, they don't ask, 'I wonder if that mountain is natural or man-made" they just enjoy looking at it. I am of the same opinion."

Draw your own conclusions to what he was talking about.
I'm doing the CIBC Run for the Cure race today - 5 kilometres, Banana and my sister-in-law at my side. It should be fairly easy as I don't expect either of them to outstrip me. Jenn is out of town, in Los Angeles for a conference, and McMonkey is staying over at Grandma's house for the evening. I should be sleeping, but I couldn't resist the urge to blog a bit.

Last week was a busy week at work as we prepare to move some major systems down to corporate HQ and wash our hands of the support part. By November, we will be only babysitting files on servers and one or two small applications. I have a feeling November will be a real s-l-o-w month in InfoSystemsLand.
I wanna say "I told you so," but modesty and better judgement won't let me.

Thursday, September 27, 2001

I'm thinking about running an underground contest at work to come up with a new corporate catch phrase. How about:
  • GettyImages - attitude is about all we've got left
  • GettyImages - do you want fries with that?
  • GettyImages - would you please hold?
  • GettyImages - huge, corporate and almost hip

My hostile takeover plans are coming along well, with stock value hovering just five dollars over the trip price.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

"That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest."

- Henry David Thoreau
Thanks Jon.
At 2:25 pm today, I was in a meeting when I noticed that my socks didn't match. Even though I was wearing shorts, I was able to go through the whole day without anyone commenting. I wonder how deviant my attire would have to be before someone mentioned it to me. Inside-out shirt? One shoe, one sandal? Underwear outside of my pants? Maybe I should do a little experiment.

Let me tell you, knowing that you have a finite number of days at your office opens a whole realm of possibilities.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

When I got home from work today, the whole family walked up to the local pizza joint, picked up a pizza and walked to a picnic table in that park that our house backs onto, then sat and ate the pizza for dinner. It was sunny, we had some good family time and saw many others using the park to walk their dogs, get some exercise and otherwise enjoy this green space we sometimes takes for granted. Being out there reminded me what a lovely, warm time autumn can be. It is as if all of nature is sitting down after a long active summer, putting its feet up and relaxing for a few weeks before it toddles off to bed for the winter.

Once the I put the kids to bed tonight, I went outside to my back yard in just my jeans and a t-shirt and stood in the warm, still air of the late evening for about 10 minutes. What a charmed life I'm leading.
If you want to stroll down Memory Lane (which may be more accurately referred to as Hallucinogenic Lane), have a peek at a compiled and growing list of my dream blog entries.


I love that when I open my electronic dictionary, it displays the results of the last word I looked up.
Some of the guys I work with are starting to feel anxious about their impending unemployment. I wish that I could reassure them that everything will be OK, but I'm not sure that I feel that way myself. Besides, they are all old enough to deal with (and be aware of) their own situations. I don't own that bucket o' concerns.

They really are a good bunch of guys, each in his own way. I wish them well wherever they land.

I am toying with the idea of doing something big and showy for the EyeWire Farewell Party (disguised as a Christmas Party) that is coming up in November. In the past, I've added my own touches to the Christmas Party, as well as other staff events. I'm not sure if they've always been appropriate (showing clips of movies at monthly company-wide parties, my EyeWire Jeopardy game, my Lets-Make-A-Deal game), but I've enjoyed doing them and felt that they've enriched the atmosphere of the gathering. I haven't decided what my contribution should be yet, or how deeply my humor will bite. Then again, maybe I should just let this moment pass quietly, as the battle to *be* EyeWire (or rather, Getty Calgary) seems to have been won by others.

Some of these "others" that are staying on (supposedly) may be looking for just a standard holiday party with the benchmarks of a formal company function:
  • a better than mediocre dinner
  • four or five hours of stilted, politically correct conversation
  • sappy, watered-down, middle-of-the-road music that only appeals to 1/4 of the people there and inspires even less of them to dance
  • a weak state-of-the-union speech given by whomever purports to be at the helm of this rudderless skiff on the fateful evening

I want the last hoorah of our happy group to be more than that. I'm worried that there's not enough of us (or the 'us' spirit) left to do the party justice. We have been bleeding talent and character for some time now. Did I miss the last hoorah? Has Getty so knocked the wind out of us that we can't raise our voices together in a final shout, taunting the BigCo that we were never meant to belong to?

I hope not, but I'm not optimistic at this point.

Monday, September 24, 2001

I was busy today, I'm having pork chops AND I got to set up some equipment. It was a good day.

Sunday, September 23, 2001

Saying goodbye to all my friends at our happy brick building is going to be harder than I thought. I just got a taste of it tonight. But if someone has to put everything to bed and clean up after the party, it should be done with dignity. I hope that I'm up to the task.

If someone asked me to do this again (stay on until the very end), I doubt that I would. The amount of money I'm getting as a retention bonus is NOT on par with the heartache that I'm going through.


Never, ever put entries into your blog when you've had too much to drink.

Friday, September 21, 2001

Using Subversive Humor to Get Fired (part 61):

If you work at a fast food establishment, use a pained expression and gentle, prolonged grunting noises whenever you are dispensing chocolate soft-serve ice cream into a cone or cup.
Just to be sure that I was using language properly in the last post, I looked up moron and imbecile in my handy Webster's dictionary. The mental imagery made me laugh, so I thought I'd share.

Imbeciles? Not quite. Morons? Definitely. Definitely morons. Def-def-definitely.
The futility of my remaining time here at the office is beginning to sink in. The more I hear from corporate HQ, the more I am amazed that we are still in business. Frightened, irrational draconian decisions are being made. These morons are imploding the company - can't they see that?

65 working days and counting ... down.

Thursday, September 20, 2001

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Ernie Coombs, Mr. Dressup, has died (CBC News):

"We think they're more sophisticated because their toys are a lot more sophisticated. I mean they have toys now that can do things that expensive machinery couldn't do when I was a kid. If we ever saw one of these we just wouldn't believe it. But I think the basic thing is still kids still enjoy it, they like to dress up, they like to sing simple little songs that are timeless. And they like to try to make things out of junk material. So I don't think they've changed that much."

Goodbye, sir. Thanks for providing wholesome Canadian content that I was always allowed to watch.

Monday, September 17, 2001

For some time now I have been meaning to document the Collins Family Bedtime Routine and tonight an event has spurred me into action.

What was the event, you say? Meeting another parent who has their children ASLEEP by 7:30 pm, that's all.

Our family motto is (and my kids can repeat this from memory): "Bedtime means brush your teeth, read a story, go to bed." Sounds simple, huh? Here we go.

8:00 pm - Bedtime preparation starts with a pre-bedtime first call. All participants are warned that bedtime wind-down will commence in 30 minutes. 8:00 pm is also signifigant in that it is last call for snacks containing chocolate or sugar. Those people that claim that chocolate or sugar cause no affect on children's metabolism are welcome to come to my house and put my two kids to bed after they've had some of this "placebo".

8:25 pm - A second warning is sounded. This is generally acknowledged by distracted nods and "Uh-huh" sounds.

8:30 pm - The actual "get ready for bed" alarm sounds. After the alarm, participants begin to roll their eyes, make exasperated, deep sighs and plead "Why didn't you WARN us? I was *just* going to do _________." (where the blank is some noble task that has nothing to do with getting ready for bed). I use my Stern Dad face to show them that I'm not buying it. Then, with all the enthusiasm of me going to work these days, they mope into the bathroom to argue about who has to brush their teeth first.

"You go first."
"No, you go first."
"No, you!"
"No, YOU!"

I try to be helpful by stepping in and saying "McMonkey, you brushed your teeth first last night. Banana, you can go first tonight."
McMonkey pipes up, "No, I want to brush mine first."
"No, I do!"
"No, me!"

8:40 pm - After the teeth brushing routine I say, "Get your pajamas on." They hear, "Run upstairs and rummage through my drawers, help yourself to my t-shirts and leave your clothes in a pile right beside my dresser."

8:45 pm - With this done, we sit down for the calmest part of the routine, the reading part. I unabashedly admit that I love reading to my kids. I do my best to use funny voices for all the characters. The story's characters are allowed to have different voices, but characters have to have consistent voices night after night (remembering these is sometimes a trick). I have my fun by slowly introducing one of the verboten reading styles by adding accents, intonations, varying volume levels and speeds for the narrator. I slowly increase the severity until I hear from McMonkey the familiar, "Dad, stop it."

9:15-ish - When I'm done my chapter, Banana is usually glassy-eyed enough to mumble out "goodnight" before she is down for good. McMonkey is another story. As she heads for bed from wherever we were reading (normally Banana's room), she starts to negotiate a new sleeping location.

"Dad, can I sleep in the living room tonight?"
"No, you have to stay in your own bed." I say.
"I made a fort in the storage room when I was supposed to be brushing my teeth. Can I sleep there?"
"Can I sleep on the stairs?"
"How about in the van?"
"McMonkey, NO."
"Can I read in bed, then?"
When the request starts to come back to reality, I usually give in. "OK, but just one book."

If Banana isn't asleep at this point, I will hear, "Dad, how come you *always* chat with her? Come chat with me, too." I enjoy this part of the routine. It is a chance to check in with them, find out what they liked (or didn't like) about their day, what's troubling them or making them curious, what their last thoughts are before they crash for the night. It helps prepare them mentally for the next day, and helps me to feel more in touch with them.

9:30 pm - I then retreat to do some cleaning up or other mundane task. Perhaps I'll get to check e-mail, blog a bit, pay some bills, make lunches, or some other domestic stuff.

10:30 pm - I do my own nightly hygene routines, then head for bed myself, only to find Mackenzie in my spot in my bed. I pick her up and carry her to her bed and find the dog in her place. Devon (the dog) growls at me when I shoo her out of the way as if the turned-down sheets and pillow combination was meant for her. I then put Devon out for her final evening pee, keeping an eye on her to make sure she doesn't make her way into the alley for a garbage feast. As she is getting old and her stomach isn't as steady as it used to be, she sleeps in our room on a special blanket on the end of our bed, far away from that carpet downstairs which hasn't yet made it to its first birthday.

10:45 pm - I finally get comfortable in bed, scratch all the little itchy spots, negotiate what constitutes my half of the bed with my sleeping wife and start to drift off myself.

10:55 pm - I hear, "Do you know how the constellation 'Leo' got it's name?"

It's McMonkey. Instead of sleeping, she's been sitting in bed with her books, absorbing science tidbits to simultaneously impress and annoy her sleeping father.

I say, "McMonk, it's late. You and I both need to sleep. Tell me about it at breakfast time."

"OK." She skips out of the room with all the energy of a kid coming in from recess in the middle of the day. I am already dreading trying to wake her in the morning.

3:00 am, but just some nights - Once every couple of weeks, Devon keeps Jenn and I on our toes by waking in the middle of the night and making that lovely, rhythmic snort-and-gasp-dry-heave sound that dogs so love to make. This causes both of us to spring up in bed, disoriented and groggy, and visually search a pitch-black room for a pitch-black dog that sounds like she's about to throw up on something that will need to be drycleaned.

This is how I've learned to survive on six hours of sleep a night. Pardon me if I yawn.
I'm a busy bee these days. I just returned from swim practice, where all is going, well, swimmingly. I'm waiting for the killer practices to start, but I have a feeling that they are not going to happen with this group. I feel a good, healthy tired after each workout, but I remember workouts from my teenage years that left you with just enough energy to get home and collapse into bed.

I am needing some time to organize my office space - it is feeling cluttered and untidy. Looking around right now, I see that it actually *is* untidy - that would explain it.

Many thanks to my dear wife for getting the kids to bed tonight all by herself.

Friday, September 14, 2001

Remember what I said a few posts back, that life was about being grateful? Let me make a correction. Life is about learning and seeking happiness for yourself without causing suffering for others. The only way you can get joy out of living is through gratitude. Being grateful for what you have, what you don't have, things you've been able to do, things you haven't had to do.

Think about it.
My dad came to visit last night and he brought gifts. Antique gifts. Yay!

He is clearing out his apartment to live (as he calls it) a Spartan existence. He has been talking about moving down to Cowtown for some time now, as his two sons are here, as well as his rapidly-changing, ever-interesting grandkids. This could be the preparation for the big move. Crikey.


The master's swim team practices are going just fine, thank you very much for asking. The coach (Jennifer, but not Jenn) has us on a pretty steep milage curve. On Monday we did over 2000 metres. I'm truly loving it. I forgot how good it feels to go to bed with sore shoulders and arms. I also love to see my shadow on the bottom of the pool, long and stretched out, as I glide away from a well-executed flip turn.

When the coach asked me if I wanted to 'compete', I felt like Fred Flintstone in his compulsive gambler sketch when someone asked him if he wanted to 'bet'. That wasn't the original plan, but I'll just have to see if my competitive spirit gets the best of me. I already find myself racing other lanemates in practice.

Thursday, September 13, 2001

It was good to get out of the office and away from the incessant drone of CNN and coverage of the terrorist attack in New York. I did some work-related cleaning up today and it felt very good to be moving towards closing our office here in Calgary (most of us are greatly looking forward to getting out). I happily chucked out a bunch of outdated software and manuals. I'm big on recycling, but most of this stuff was so old it was of no use to anyone.

During this cleanup, I was reminded of the fact that I like order in my work life. I enjoy knowing that things are being done a certain way, items are put away into the places that they belong, cords are wrapped up neatly, that sort of thing. I guess this is good, considering that I am ultimately responsible for delivering and safeguarding the data that keeps my company going.

I also noticed that I make some people that I work with uncomfortable - unconfortable in the way that they interact socially with me.


Quote of the Day:

"... we failed a long time before someone missed a threat, before someone slipped knives passed airport security. We failed when we failed to understand just how angry, just how hateful, some people had become. Anger and hatred *are* the materials from which hell is made, and that hell right now is lower Manhattan."

Thanks for those calm words, Meg. We're all thinkin' of you yanks, and hopin' those tormented crazies find some peace in their souls.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Evangelists and zealots need to live in tolerance. Please let this be a time of clear heads, tolerance, prudence, empathy, forgiveness and support.

Pax Vobiscus.

Monday, September 10, 2001

Sean's Technical Talk corner:

A friend asked me to have a look at his laptop and see why it was randomly freezing up. I wanted to clear off the old system (which looked pretty messed up) and reinstall the operating system. After I had repartitioned the hard drive (the point of no return, all his old stuff was GONE) I found that the drive had fatal errors and was toast. So, this is me going out to buy ond of those teeny, tiny form factor hard drives and wedge it into the ultra-compact, non-user-serviceable super-slim laptops.

Well, guess what? I got it in. I had to remove about 37 little screws, drop out the keyboard, pop out the DIMM, partially pry open the case, remove the CPU cooling fan and get my big ol' hands into the tiny innards to remove eight more screws and the drive rails along with the hard drive. After finding an EXCELLENT price on a big laptop hard drive I was able to put everything back together, not have a single screw left over (or missing) and I got everything installed and restored. Now it works good as new. The hard part may be convincing my buddy that he really needed to spend $300 on the new hard drive.

So, how about that IEEE 1394 standard? Do you think it will pass the mustard?


If you found the above interesting, go have a look at this hard drive modification, or print this jargon file out on your old nine-pin and read it while you're sitting on the can in the bathroom.

Ar! Ar! Ar!
When I'm reading someone's blog, I like to know if they were listening to music and what music they were listening to when they wrote the entry. It helps me picture the mindset. Music is such a powerful influence to what we are thinking and feeling.

In case you're wondering, I'm playing the soundtrack from American Beauty.

Sunday, September 09, 2001

This Weekend's Relevations and Realizations:
  • E-mail is not communication - it is just sending information.
  • Putting kids in their room and going away so that you don't kill them is a very good and perfectly acceptable thing to do.
  • When someone is talking to you, give them your full attention and look at them.
  • Life is about making conscious decisions and not letting the wind blow you through (and around) your short time here.
  • Life is the process of learning from your mistakes.

  • Most of all, life is about being grateful.
My infatuation with gardening implements continues. I went to Canadian Tire yesterday, and fell in love. Inside the front door, they had placed this slick, go-kart-looking vehicle. Long, low-slung, black metal-tubed frame, racecar red accents around the engine ... then I noticed that it had two 24"-swath grass-cutting blades. It was a ride-on lawnmower the likes of which I had never seen.

I'm gonna save up and buy an acreage now just so I can cut the grass.

Friday, September 07, 2001

Well, look at what my company's stock price is doing. I can just hear the flushing sound now ...

I think I'll wait until it gets to around $4 a share, gather up all the loose change from my dresser and from between the sofa cushions, then execute a hostile takeover.

Thursday, September 06, 2001

Yesterday I went for my first practice with a masters (read: program for ex-competitive crusty old farts) swim club. Heard of The Little Engine That Could? I’m The Little Engine That Used To Be Able To. Those extra pounds should just melt away now.

Soaking my head for three hours a week should also lead to more introspective thinking and (hopefully) some interesting blogging.

Being out there with the rest of the used-to-be's has convinced me of something - the maximum size of swimsuit that Speedo makes should be w-a-a-a-a-ay lower.
I just had lunch with a long-lost relative and found out one of my cousins is going to be a real live spy! How cool is that?

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

I wonder if the senior management of my company ever reads the daily dilbert comic. Some days, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
I didn't get up this morning with the plan to frustrate all my coworkers, but that's I've ended up doing. Maybe I should just go home.

Saturday, September 01, 2001

Howling WolfI used to be a werewolf, but I'm alright now-o-o-OOOOOOOOO!

(full moon tonight)

The moon does stir me sometimes. So many people, cultures, religions put so much significance on our closest heavenly body. The moon travels a regular path, lights our night, pulls our seas, reminds us of its omnipresence by appearing night after night as it has for the ancestors of our ancestors. How could it not affect us, not light our souls with a soft glow, not cause a tide in the water that is our bodies, not pull our curiosity and imagination towards it, like a moth to a candle?

As I make my way to this evening's resting place, a smooth, cool breeze of moonlight washes over my face and blows past me, off to awaken other dormancies behind me. As I pause and bask in the beam's caress, a familiar but unknown sensation travels from the small of my back upwards, dragging an icicle along my spine. That gentle, quiet sentinel in the sky has beckoned to a shadow of a memory from my past, causing a bubble to stir and weave its way to the surface. Without realizing what I am doing, I slowly draw in breath through my nostrils and it settles deep, deep into my lungs as this ancient command rises and takes control. My eyes close and my head arches back, pulling my throat taut and my mouth gently open. The command is a sound - a sound that has grown for eons and begs to be made - it coaxes and cajoles me to be its instrument. The sound is destined to be partnered with the moon and float through its eerie, bluish light. As a mournful howl leaves the depths of my being and slips fluidly into the air to join the other cries of the night, I feel that a message has been delivered, a journey completed. The moon runs silver fingers through my hair, tousling it gently in thanks for my heartfelt addition to the nightly chorus. Having paid my tribute, I purse my lips to my heavenly mistress for a long instant, open my aged eyes and pad off towards slumber.