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.