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.