Friday, March 30, 2001

I'm going to skip out of work early and say goodbye to a coworker who's leaving today. He (like others before him, and probably more to follow) have found other opportunities to move on to. He's not running from the situation here, but rather to something new and exciting. I wish him all the luck. Times like this make me realize that life is really about the journey - who you meet, what you learn from each other, and not what the daily sales figures were 117 days ago.

On that happy note, I bid you adieu.

Thursday, March 29, 2001

As I sit here, digesting my lunch, squirming in my seat, turning oxygen into carbon dioxide, earning money, being a statistic (and a headcount), listening to music, waiting for the phone to ring, writing in my blog, waiting for an image to download in a different browser window, I wonder, "How many things can a person do at one time?"
Thank goodness, today has been a better day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Monday, March 26, 2001

Yet Another Weird Dream

I'm going into a convenience store to get milk or something, and I notice that I am carrying a rifle. It doesn't really register that this is an unusual thing to do in Canada, so I continue on with my shopping. I approach the clerk at the cash register, and he starts whimpering, "Don't shoot me! I'll give you anything you want!"

This disorients me so much that I don't quite know how to react. For some strange reason, I decide to play along with what he thinks I'm doing and pretend to be mentally incompetent. "Gimme all yer money," I drawl, brandishing the rifle menacingly, "or I'll f*ckin' blast a hole in yeh." Frightened and blubbering, he gives me all the money in his register and backs away from the counter. As I'm stagger-limping out (remember, I'm deranged), I spot a newspaper in a stand by the door. I grab a newspaper and turn to the clerk (who has completely regained his composure by the time I turn around) and say, "Do you mind if I take one?"

"No problem," he replies calmly. "Have a nice day." (the standard and completely un-heartfelt closing salutation of all convenience store clerks)

I walk out to the car, casually toss the rifle into the back seat, and plop myself into the driver's seat. I put the jug of milk and the newspaper onto the seat beside me, and notice that the robbery I've just committed is on the front page, along with a grainy security camera photo (from above and behind) of me at the register. I catch myself wondering if the police will be waiting for me at the house by the time I get back.

At this point, I'm woken up by a fully dressed nine year old. She seems incredibly pleased with herself as she informs me that she woke up early (I look at the clock and see that it's 2:45 am), got herself dressed, put in *her own* pony tail and is ready to make pancakes.

Smiling happily, she stands there, waiting for my reply.

Bizarre doesn't begin to describe my life sometimes.

Friday, March 23, 2001

A very sad thing happened today. I just heard on the news that Dave Irwin, a guy that I was skiing with yesterday, fell during a training run at Sunshine and is now in a coma. Dave was invited as a special celebrity (he was a World Cup winner in 1974, and one of the original Crazy Canucks) on our schmoozefest skiing trip. He took a group of the better skiers on a few runs in the morning, and gave us some pointers on how we could improve our technique. He made sure to connect with each one of the members of the group, sharing a joke, tellng us a story or two about being on the circuit and asking about us and what we enjoyed in our lives. He seems like a genuinely nice guy. Now, he's laying in a Calgary hospital in a coma, fighting for his life.

I hope he's OK.


Well, I'm back from a big schmooze-fest, courtesy of our internet service provider. I have to admit, it was nice being treated so well. I had a really nice breakfast, went skiing on some fun and challenging runs, had a great hot lunch, finished up skiing, had a hot shower, an *excellent* meal and a couple doubles of Grand Marnier, and was then whisked back to Calgary (watching a movie on the way) to where my car waited for me in a heated garage. All I had to do was to put up with a bit of forced banter, some hockey and golf talk, and spend a five figure sum (per month) on connectivity. I'm glad these guys offer the best service, bar none, otherwise I'd feel guilty. The day was totally relaxing, fun and refreshing, even though my legs feel pretty weak. The race part was interesting, as I found myself getting quite competitive ... again. I guess that competing is more important to me than I care to admit - even to myself. I enjoyed racing immensely.

Part of my day was spent in a peaceful, silent, grateful sit in the snow on a deserted run on the back part of the mountain. It was quite a ways up. I took off my skis, waded into the trees to a spot that had the most gorgeous view of the Bow Valley Parkway and surrounding mountains, and remembered what a beautiful place I live in. I sat there in my form-fitted spot in the snow until my bum got too cold, jumped on my skis and had a great run in (it was the last run). What a nice way to end a day.

I really don't think people take the time to step out of their busy, hectic days and do this enough, except for one group - smokers. Smokers have the traditional smoke break, in which they get out of their routines, head out to the loading dock (in the case of our office) and ponder life, gossip, and just generally break up the general daily grind. This happens (I'm assuming) 4 -6 times a day. What a great idea. It's almost as good as afternoon naps. Maybe a nicotine addiction is just God's way of keeping you from working too damn hard.

Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Tomorrow (which is getting perilously close to today), I am going on a vendor-sponsored trip to Lake Louise for a one-day, mid-week break. We are going to be treated like royalty, whisked from downtown to the hill after we've been fed, allowed to take ski lessons, do a mock slalom race and then go for a fat-cat dinner at the Post Hotel. This trip is something that I am treating myself to, as I haven't been getting much "Sean time" these days. I look forward to getting some lessons in and getting better at navigating the big moguls.

I have a feeling that the race part will be this big, testosterone-inducing, chest-beating session, based on my past experience with IT managers (and who I know will be there). Then again, it could be just a bit of fun. We'll see how it goes. I'm sure it will be more fun than piloting my desk all day. If only more vendors would do things like this, I'd be a happier man.
To dispense a towel, grasp firmly and tear down.

Grasp firmly and Tear Down.


Once upon a time, there was a village not so far from where we are right now. This farming village had grown over time to become a prosperous community, and was composed mostly of farmers. In this village was a group of elders who had seen many seasons come and go had had become very practiced in the ways of agriculture. They knew when was the best time to start preparing the soil, and how to prepare the soil, and when the spring rains would come, and what types of crops would grow best and where, and just how ripe the crop should be before harvesting, and how to prepare the harvest so that it would last through the cold winters that sometimes visited the little village. They had learned through many mistakes (planting or harvesting at the wrong times, choosing the wrong crops) how to make the best yield from their labours.

Because these elders had seen so many harvests, other, younger farmers would sometimes seek advice. The elders took this as quite a compliment and found themselves (over time) giving out more and more advice. Over time, they found themselves giving out advice as a full time job, in return for grain from the younger, less experienced farmers. The young farmers didn't seem to mind the arrangement, either, as the advice seemed to save some time and indecision on what to do with regards to their own fields.

As the years wore on, the younger farmers looked to the elders for advice more and more, and the elders (by now feeling very important) would advise them on each of the smallest details. "Plant your seeds exactly three inches deep - that will yield the best results," they would say. Then, if the crop was poor, they would berate the young farmers and say, "You must not have done as I said. How do you suppose we are all going to be able to eat from that poor crop?" The elders seem to forget that they had gone through the learning process as they worked the land. Now, they only visited the fields occasionally and were not as familiar with the land as the young farmers were. Yet, the young farmers relied heavily on what the elders said and understood less and less on how to read the soil, the wind, the calendar and their own common sense.

The land that the young farmers were working was not the same as the land that the elders had worked. Erosion had changed the way that the rains affected the fields, and the soil held different nutrients due to years of farming the same area. Also, the spring thaw and rains came a little bit later each year, as did the fall drying winds. As these changes happened, their advice to the young farmers became less and less helpful, but because the young farmers had become reliant upon the elders, they didn't know that their directions came from memories, and not from what was actually happening in the fields.

As well, the young farmers seemed less happy in their lives. They became angry with the elders for not helping them through these hard times. They blamed the elders for not telling them how deep to run the plows, and how far apart and deep to plant each seed. They wished that the elders would somehow become better at advising them on how to work the fields. One farmer would often say to another over an evening cup of tea, "If the elders would tell us to plant barley instead of grain this year, I think it would be a much better yield. Why can't they tell us to do that?"

As the harvests became worse and worse, the elders called a meeting amongst themselves. They pooled all their memories of what used to be the right thing to do, and then decided on a course of action. They went to the young farmers (who by now stood blindly waiting for instructions from the elders) and gave them their edict. They told the farmers to plant beans. So, the farmers waited until the appointed time, tilled the soil, planted the beans and tended to the fields.

As the farmers tended to the fields, the elders began to wonder whether they had given the best advice to the farmers. Had it been too late in the year to plant these beans? Had they advised them on the right type of bean to plant? Had the rows been far enough apart? They wondered and wondered for weeks until finally their uncertainty was too much for them to take. They went to the farmers and demanded that they plow up their fields and try to get them ready to accept a different crop.

Begrudgingly (and against their better judgment, if they had had any judgment left), the farmers did as they were told. They put in the crops, but they were a bit too late in the season to get a good harvest off the land.

That year, a very bad winter followed and many of the farmers (and elders) did not survive, due to the poor stock of rations.

Good thing that this is just a fable, huh?
I wish I could think about something other than work.

Today, we had a goodbye luncheon for three of our Calgary management team. There was a real feeling of closure ... I just wish I knew for sure what it was that was closing (and I don't think it's the office ... yet). Something big is shaking down at corporate HQ, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what it is.

Friday, March 16, 2001

I had a very interesting conversation with my father-in-law yesterday. In April he will be turning 79, and he is planning (financially) for his own demise. By his calculations, he can sell his home, invest the money (from which he will draw off the interest and a small portion of the principal) he and his wife can rent accomodations and still have enough to provide a comfortable living for the next ten years. He is a very pragmatic man (which I admire), but his wife is in total denial of the impending decision. I thought it was very interesting to see someone planning to take himself out of the group of producers and put himself (and his wife, by dependancy) into the group of those waiting to die.

So, the question is raised ... how long should one expect to live? With medical breakthroughs, the average life expectancy is rising. in 1900, the average life expectancy was around 50 years. By 1950, it had raised to over 65 years. By the mid-90's, it had gone past 76 years. The original idea of retiring sounds like a 20th century thing, starting (i'm guessing) in the 50s. The retirement age was set to around the average life expectancy - if you got past that, anything else was gravy. Usually, you would set aside some money to do a few really fun things before you shuffled off this mortal coil, and that was it. Now, everyone expects to stop working at 65 (or younger). Personally, I am pegging my life expectancy at about 90 years. That's considering:

  • I'm in moderately good health (don't smoke, etiher)
  • I live in a developed country with a decent health care system
  • I have fairly low stress in my life
  • job and lifestyle are not overly physically demanding

So, when should I expect to retire? Personally, I don't think retirement is a thing to shoot for. This Christian,"delayed gratification" thing is a bit over-rated. I see people in jobs that they hate, bound there by high income, feverishly working to pay down their mortgages and squirrelling away money with hopes of someday "retiring". The years that they are (often) rearing children, most physically able and adventurous are spent with their nose to the grindstone in some rotten existence? Not a good idea, by my calculations. Now, don't get me wrong, I think everyone should live within their means (as I try to). The opposite extreme of the scrimper-and-saver is those who live extravagant lives, over-extending themselves financially and living inches from disaster by paying mountains of interest to credit-giving companies. This is really the same thing, then. This person is trapped in their high- (hopefully) paying job, hating it all the while, but having to stay to keep up with payments.

I hope to find a position or vocation that provides me with a comfortable income, rewards and challenges that make me feel good about what I am doing, and then work at that position until I am about 80 years old. As I become less able to actually do the duties, I may fall into a mentor/instructor role, but I'll hopefully be involved. The big trick is, during the time that I am working, I plan to enjoy myself. That means regular vacations, as little corporate climbing as possible, lots of time with my kids, travel now (not "after I'm done working") and make my workplace a good environment for everyone that I can.

That doesn't mean that I will be at this one desk until I get the gold watch - I expect that my life will take me to many more companies and careers within that company. I just have decided to either enter into (or create when I get there) an environment of healthy balance. But then again, balance is what it's all about, right?


Another Weird Dream: I was travelling in strange city, by myself. I catch a ride from some woman in an golf-cart-ice-cream type truck. She turns out to be a early elementary school teacher, and she starts verbally flirting with me. I flirt back for a while, we have pleasant chit-chat back and forth, as she takes me on the tour of this city that I'm visiting (which I still don't recognize). The tour ends, we stop for dinner, then she asks me where things are going to go from here (wink wink). I hold up the hand with my wedding ring, she sees it, she smiles and asks me if I know where her husband is. She promptly vanishes, I'm standing by the ice cream truck and have to navigate my way back to wherever it was that I started from.

Maybe if I did more drugs, I'd understand what my subconscious was trying to tell me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2001

This evening I'm going to start working on my personal website. I've been made aware that I need one, and god knows that I have enough individual projects that should be up there. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 12, 2001

Hey, enough about me. So, tell me ....
  • why do trees grow upwards?
  • when someone does something great, how come they never say, "The voices in my head told me to do it"?
  • where do we go from here?
  • if I smile at you and stroke your cheek, why do you assume that there is sexual innuendo?
  • why do we need titles for our jobs?
  • how come no one thinks that vanilla is a flavor?
  • if you started walking right now, how far could you get? Which direction would you start going?
  • what's your favorite outfit?
  • if I were to go to the kitchen and make you a sandwhich, what kind should it be?
  • why do you think people look at you like that? And don't pretend you don't know what I mean.
  • if reincarnation is possible, where did the first souls come from? Are there any more coming?
  • what's the smoothest thing you've ever felt?
  • if the additives in farm products are so bad (animals and vegatables), what do farmers eat? Would they knowingly poison themselves?
  • without getting up from your chair *right now*, what is one thing that could happen that would make you a little happier?
  • why haven't you sent me your answers yet? Don't you think I'll believe you?

Friday, March 09, 2001

Who's in Sean's MP3 list these days (in no specific order):

  • Charlie Daniels
  • Doc Watson, Randy and Earl Scruggs (for the best banjo pickin' you'll hear, ever)
  • BeeGees
  • Cherry Poppin' Daddies
  • Sammy Davis Jr.
  • Madonna
  • Michael Jackson (seriously messed up, but a freakin' musical genius)
  • Prince (don't get me started about that name thing. Same note as Michael J.)
  • Soft Cell
  • Bill Cosby
  • George Carlin
  • Barenaked Ladies
  • Enya
  • Tom Jones, of course
  • Men of the Deep (Nova Scotia miners - if you've been to see the mines, you'll probably find this stuff quite moving)
  • various artists playing Bach
  • various artists playing Chopin
  • various artists playing Beethoven (killer 7th symphony, dude)
  • Glen Gould's renditions of Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier
  • various artists playing Debussy
  • various artists playing Mozart
  • Stevie Wonder
  • various artists playing Rachmaninoff
  • Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Supertramp
  • Weird Al Yankovic
  • Stompin' Tom Connors, but not Tommy Hunter
  • Arrogant Worms
  • B52's
  • Herb Alpert and the Tijuanna Brass
  • James Brown, the hardest working man in music
  • John Denver and the Muppets
  • Moxy Fruvous
  • Quincy Jones
  • The Odds (and I know someone who is a friend of a relative of a guy who used to be the drummer!)
  • Beatles
  • Buddy Holly
  • Johnny Horton (if you gotta ask, you really should get out more)
  • Dean Martin
  • Doris Day
  • Elvis
  • Fine Young Cannibals
  • Ian Tyson
  • John Lee Hooker (lots of old stuff *and* that delicious duet he did with Bonnie Raitt)
  • Semisonic
  • Taj Mahal
  • The Supremes
  • The Turtles
  • Everlast
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Foofighters
  • Dandy Wharhols
  • Travelling Wilburys (but just those two good songs they did)
  • Talking Heads
  • Stone Temple Pilots
  • Queen
  • Sex Pistols
  • Ian Dury and the Blockheads (including my personal favorite, F*cking Ada)
  • Boomtown Rats
  • Payolas (some of their earlier stuff, when they were still a high-energy Ska band)
  • Tragically Hip (of course)
  • Matthew Good Band
  • Burton Cummings
  • Kinks
  • Clash
  • REM
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Jesus Jones
  • Counting Crows (their songs helped me through some very dark times - thanks guys)
  • Spirit of the West
  • Black Crowes
  • Adam Ant (hailing back to a time when he was radical and cool - that's how *old* I am)
  • Aerosmith
  • Foreigner
  • Peter Gabriel
  • Annie Lennox (pre- and post-Eurythmics - what a sultry voice)
  • Grateful Dead
  • Jim Croce
  • Sarah McLachlan
  • Jan Arden
  • Billy Joel
  • Blue Rodeo
  • Alan Parson's Project
  • Eagles
  • Green Day
  • Chemical Brothers
  • Propellerheads
  • Devo, Devo, and more Devo
  • Thomas Newman (no relation to Alfred E.)
  • Moby

... and that's just MP3s - never mind the stuff I have on CD, cassette and vinyl.

So, was it what you expected? Any surprises?

Thursday, March 08, 2001

Well, I sit corrected. That session (that I was dis'ing so heavily in the previous entry) on Dealing With Change gave me some real cud to chew on. The big concept that I took away from it was, "Do I want this (task, job, day, etc.) to be a good experience, or a bad experience?" We all have the ability to control our perception on the situation. Also, "Only take responsibility for stuff within the realm of your control, or you'll make your self nuts" made a poignant note in my mind. It also helped that there were some fun people in the session. I really need to get out more - espeically with these folks.


On a totally different note, I came to a blogger realization. As I read other blogs, I confess that I sometimes get experiential envy. I lament that I don't party all night, have multiple relationship problems or even get to clean up cat puke on a regular basis. My life, at times, seemed pretty damn drab. I had the feeling that other people's lives made for much more interesting reading, but then I had a change of thought, akin from downshifting from fourth to second in an old truck. maybe things just look boring to me because I'm here, living this life.

Think of a gorilla living at the zoo. People come from all over to observe this gorilla, living, eating, sleeping, hanging out with all the same old other gorillas and just going about his regular routines. To the gorilla, nothing could be more boring. Why? Because he is in the situation. See the parallel? To everyone else, it looks cool and exciting. A a totally different environment to what they are in - ropes to swing from, caves to hide in, a big medicine ball to throw around, etc., etc.. It's different from what the observers are doing, and people long to have that different perspective - to see through a different set of eyes.

Maybe my life, my epiphanies, my rants are interesting to others because not everybody lives the life that I do. Not everybody raises two girls. Not everybody stays married - the fact that most people in this country are not married proves that I'm in a minority. Nobody has had the experiences, pitfalls, gentle and hard lessons of life that I have had. So maybe it is cool and different to go home to the same house, same family, day after day and see what the other apes have done to the place.

Welcome to my view of the zoo.

Wednesday, March 07, 2001

Do you deal with enough dissatisfied people? How about people that are dissatisfied enough?

Dissatisfied people are the ones that affect change. There's some stuff in my life (work, specificially) that needs to change, and there are other dissatisfied people around here that are sharing in my angst, but they're not angry (or cohesive) enough to do anything about it. There is a gentle rumbling that all is not right. I'm not sure what I would do if I were king, but I'm starting a list.

The powers that be have sent their answer to our woes - a corporate hug-meister to present and lead a 3 hour discussion in "Dealing With Change", but I think that they missed the boat. My colleagues and I have been dealing with change since we've come to this happy red brick building, and you know what? We're good at it. The stuff we need help with is Dealing with Bureaucracy, or Dealing with Head-Office Indecision and/or Indifference. Or how about Dealing with Stress (stress being defined as being aware of something that needs to be changed and not being able to change it). I'd sure go to any of those seminars.

Don't get me wrong, I think our company and the people that I work with have the potential to do great things - it's just that we need to get our shit together, get angry, deal with the things that are frustrating us and get back to work on some great projects.

Anybody with me?