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.