Thursday, February 28, 2002

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

I drove past an advertisement today for Denim Day, an event coming up to recognize support for research for breast cancer. The name "Denim Day" brought back a flood of memories from my first year of university and another group participation event - Gay Jeans Day.

Going to a university campus from a medium-size high school in a very conservative city is a big leap. I felt awkward, out of place and very insecure about how I looked and acted. My swim team buddies (my touchstone of normality and source of social standards) were even more redneck-ish than the average redneck Edmontonian. One day at lunch, one of my associates mentioned that he saw an announcement put out by the Gay and Lesbians On Campus group (or GALOC) that stated that tomorrow was "Gay Jeans Day." To show support for alternative lifestyles (or your pride in being gay), they were encouraging everyone to wear jeans to school.

This struck me as odd. Normally, everyone wore jeans to school.

I thought to myself, "Tomorrow, If I dressed as I normally do, in jeans, would my buddies assume I was making a statement about my own sexual orientation? Would others that unwittingly wore jeans be seen as showing their support for the homosexual lifestyle? What if I forgot and wore jeans by accident? Would there be big signs posted all over campus thanking all of the blue-jean-wearers for their open homosexuality?" I felt that GALOC was being very underhanded in trying to rally support for their cause.

I also felt bullied by my friends. Was my orientation any of their business? By their implied social pressures, they were preventing me from dressing the way I was most comfortable dressing.

In the end, I decided not to wear jeans to avoid the teasing my swim buddies would undoubtedly bestow on me, for that day and for days to come. Of course, if there had been a Gay Jeans Day, it was immensely underpublisized - I saw nothing making note of it on the supposed day of the event. Looking back on the situation, I realize that I allowed social pressure to force me to do two things that I didn't want to do: change the way I dress and take a stand against homosexuality. I wish that I had been more self-confident and dressed in jeans that day.

As I watch my daughters interact with their friends, I see them both striving to be accepted by their peers. How do I teach them to have faith in themselves and not to act as the group wants them to behave? Banana has a friend in the other Grade Four class named "Addi" who excels at marching to the beat of her own drummer. I hope to have the two of them spend more time together this summer, and maybe she can learn to be more trusting in herself and I can learn (from Addi's parents) how to encourage it more.

Peer pressure is a terrible thing.

Monday, February 25, 2002

This evening, I'm feeling old.

The day was excellent, with many positive happenings. I won the heart of a potential client and found out things are cookin' at the Treehouse, a present (and potentially big) client. I got a web billboard in place for Geek and Co.. I was treated to lunch with my dad. I had a good, hard swim practice. For some reason, when I got out of the water, a great cloak of responsibility and age came out with me. I'm not the playful sprite that I once was.

... on a full moon, nonetheless.
I think I've done it. As the fruition of a pile of hard work, countless errands and thanks to many helpful people, Geek and Company lives.

You may notice that will be left to fend for itself whilst I add some juicy content to

Saturday, February 23, 2002

It's snowing and I'm not skiing ... yet. Heh heh heh, the low-attendance weekdays are coming.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Hitting on the Hair Stylist

As a teen, I used to think things like this all the time.
I'm up late because I spent the evening at a bingo hall. Not playing bingo, but working at the hall. Part of the funding for our community centre comes from sending volunteers (like myself) to work at various scheduled bingos throughout the year. The money goes towards paying staff at the community centre, subsidizing registration fees, buying sports equipment, upkeep of the hall and all the other little things that are part of the community centre and association.

The working conditions for my seven-and-a-half hour shift at the Golden Wings weren't too bad except for one thing - the smoke. The company and places that I frequent are for the most part smoke-free. This is definitely NOT the case at the bingo halls. I watched two women go through two whole packs of cigarettes in less than three hours. Multiply that by the 350 to 400 people in the hall, and then take out any hope of fresh air - they recirculate the air through six woefully inadequate ceiling-mounted filters. I emerged from my shift with irritated eyes, a terrible taste in my mouth, a bad headache and (I'm guessing) clothes, hair and skin that stunk.

I have good memories of bingo games. My great-grandmother used to be a five-day-a-week player. As a youth, I would accompany her once every two or three months to her afternoon game. I remember people smoking, but I don't remember it being as terrible as it was tonight. Is the severity of my reaction a result of non-exposure to smoke? As a child, my father was a pack-a-day smoker.

Calgary is becoming more and more smoke-free. I was musing with a coworker tonight that perhaps they do a poor job of filtering/circulating the air on purpose. Maybe the atmosphere (literally) is a draw for smokers that want to be:
- in a social setting that doesn't frown on their habit
- in a place that is convienient to smoke (ashtrays, consession selling smokes, sitting still doing a mind-numbing task)
- also in an enriched second-hand smoke environment

As much as I think bingo is a good social event (much like playing cards or scrabble or any other in-a-group, take-a-turn game), and a group gaming atmosphere that promotes community cohesion in a simple task-oriented event, I don't think I could enjoy sitting and visiting in such conditions.

As my "To Do" list grows, I am realizing that it needs to be divided into "Want To Do" and "Should Do" lists.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

My first day of real unemployment was so busy, I didn't have much time to think about anything but my "To Do" list. Lots of home-fix-up stuff. That's a good thing.

There was an added component to my existence today.

As everyone does every day, I had a portion of my day that was eaten up doing things that turned out to be fruitless. The time that I spent spinning my wheels felt as though I was wasting my own time, as though I were losing money that I should be earning. It was very strange. Even chit-chatting with people, waiting in line, I felt like a meter was running somewhere. Life can't be like that - I HAVE to get over that feeling. If I don't, I'll go nuts.
I had business cards printed.
I've got letterhead and envelopes.
I've cleaned up the office and made room for records and books.
I bought a phone.
I had a second line installed.
I've recorded a voicemail message.
I've incorporated.
I've got an accountant to help me set up the books and to help me file taxes.
I've opened a bank account.
I'm gathering content for the web site.
I'm fine tuning a business and marketing plan.
I'm purchasing a Yellow Pages ad.

Geek and Company will be unvieled on March 1st.

I think I'll be ready.

Monday, February 18, 2002

Just in case you're wondering, my "To Do" list is filling up quickly. What happened to all the free time I was supposed to have in February?
I've added a few more Mexico trip photos to the album.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

Third day back and I'm cold. Really cold. I had adapted a little too well to the tropic climes. What's an unemployed fella to do?

I have a theory about why my skin is peeling. The coldness of my body is causing it to shrink and my outer layer of skin isn't keeping up.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Hello broadband internet connection. Daddy's home.

Hey, did something happen at the Olympics pairs figureskating event while I was laying on a chaise lounge?

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

OK, I managed to get another Mexico diary entry up, but it was painful. The connection at our new accommodation really, really sucks. You'll have to wait to see the photos.

Four more days ... then it's back home, then eventually to work. I've been able to forget about earning a living. It's been nice. I want to give it a little bit of thought before I arrive back in Calgary. We gave ourselves three decompression days which I'm sure that we'll need. I do feel quite relaxed and (apart from the occasional rant) I have let go of the old place. Here's just a bit more catharsis.

Things I Learned At BigCo

My time spent at my previous American company was very educational. I thought I'd share some of these tidbits of wisdom, as the federal government is only one place that is safe from being bought by an American conglomerate.

Quiet is Not Good - You must draw attention to yourself, even if you are doing mediocre things. Constantly be in the face of the person you work for, asking for help, demanding justice, backstabbing coworkers.

Estimate High - when calculating money/effort/time required for a project, always double the amount and move to the next higher unit. Thus, for a project you *think* will take two days, you request four weeks.

Workers are Commodities - no matter how high paid you are, how much company knowledge you possess, how friendly you are, who you kiss up to - when there is a lull in your workload, you will be disposed of.

Get the Best - don't be swayed by company standards - think up a lame justification and order what you need. The standards are arbitrarily chosen, anyways. Besides, they'll change every eighteen months. Guaranteed.

Friday, February 08, 2002

I am still in Mexico, but I´ve managed to uplaod a few photos and some commentary. Go freshen up that cup of java and then dig in.

This is still better than working, but feels a lot like vacation and nothing like unemployment.

But ... my feet are tanning nicely, which I am sure none of my fellow Calgarians can claim. Ho hum, one more week of tropical warmth left. Chris, you´re really missing out. You should get down here.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Mexico has been very good for me so far. I have all but forgotten about equipment disposal, nonexistent bosses and shovelling snow. I hope the weather has been kind to those I´ve left behind.

We have a few minutes before the locale bus leaves from Playa del Carmen so I ditched the family ahd found another Internet Cafe with English-friendly keyboards and better connection speed.

Oops, gotta go.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Wondering where I have been? I am in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, a long, long way from a regular internet connection. I have been at the beach relaxing. I will post pictures when I figure out how to do it from this Casa de Internet. If I cannot swing it, look for a picture extravaganza on February 16th, when I am back.