Thursday, October 31, 2002

Wanna send someone a scary message?
It's Halloween and everyone at the office is disappointed that I'm not in costume.

If I did it ALL the time, it wouldn't be a surprise when I did.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Oh, oh oh, I'm on fire ....

This was the level of urgency at the office today.

You don't think much of the office connection to the Internet until your service provider fouls up their own records and unceremoniously yanks the digital carpet out from under your feet.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Lots of computers on the bench for fixing these days.

I skipped swim practice just to have a bit of quiet time, and guess what I ended up doing?

Sunday, October 27, 2002

The swim meet was surprisingly more stressful than I had hoped or remembered. I did well, breaking 30 seconds for 50 free and going 1:08 for a 100 free.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

McMonk has no qualms about letting others know how she feels and what's on her mind. Incidents in the past have reminded and enforced this knowledge for me, but nothing like what happened last night. Her eight-year-old stature, ankle-length skirt, big glasses and innocent, unblinking stare add several cuteness points to your first impression of her, but every once in a while, her brazenness and forthright speech just knocks you for a loop.

Last night, after McMonk's swim practice, she, Banana and I had stopped for an ice cream treat at Dairy Queen. As we were sitting at a booth enjoying our cones, two police officers came in, walked up to the counter and stood in line to make a purchase.

McMonk's eyes grew wider as she looked over at the two burly policemen, standing with their service uniforms complete with holstered firearms, handcuffs and other items clipped to their belts.

"Look," McMonk remarked in a hushed tone, "they've got guns and everything. What are they doing here?"

"They're probably just hungry." I answered.

After some thought, she said, "Can I go and talk to them?" I thought it wouldn't do any harm - the two big guys would probably jump at the chance to do some good public relations by talking to this cute, wet-haired, bespectacled little sprite.

"OK," I answered, "you can go over there." So McMonk climbs out of the booth and walks over to the two standing in line, and then in a voice loud enough for the whole place to hear, says

"HEY! I thought you guys only ate donuts!"

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Hot? I thought I'd die.

I did some volunteer work in the hottest office that I've ever been in. The occupants of this office seemed to take no notice of the unusual heat. They were dressed in regular, full-length clothes and were not unduly flushed or sweating, but I was praying to the god of antiperspirants to work with me and keep me a nice person to be around.

At any moment I was expecting one of the staff to toss in a casual "Sorry about the stifling conditions," or a "What's with the heating system today?" comment, but no dice. I thought to myself "What could possibly make these people oblivious to these sweltering conditions?" They weren't old people, but there was a high concentration of females.

Actually, they were all females.

I've heard other men complain that, in general (and I say this knowing full well how totally chauvinistic this sounds), most women tend to always feel chilled in a room. Some attribute it to being generally thinner than their well-padded gender opposites and therefore not as able to maintain a good core body temperature. Another theory I've heard is that because of dietary differences, weight-conscious women tend to eat more greens and less fatty foods and are therefore less able to bring their core body temperature up in the first place. Whatever the reason, I had to work in sweltering heat today, and that was BEFORE I had to climb up into the ceiling to run some cabling. Feh!

I enjoy doing volunteer work. The organization that I was helping this morning has strong Christian roots, and I ended up having lunch with some of the other volunteers there. Some of their spiritual dogma came out as we discussed our duties at the office and this made me a bit uncomfortable. As a person with religious leanings that are not easily classified, I felt a bit out of place. Mention was made of how we are doing Jesus' work and how we are all good Christians for giving our time. I felt like a religous minority (which I may have been) at the office. I'm not sure why I did, but I did.

Does one have to be religious to be thought of as being charitably Christian?

Monday, October 21, 2002

Pardon me as I shamelessly use this weblog to promote Geek and Company to the various search engines that have found me over time. I've done some tweaking to the title and metatags to bump me up the rankings of the search engines. Let's see if it works.

Friday, October 18, 2002

I found an essay regarding the Maryland shootings that suggests a very provocative solution. It is definitely worth a read and some discussion.

The writer was obviously in favour of Americans' right to bear arms and therefore slanted his essay to encourage and support this idea. I wonder how many Americans are beginning to see logic in the argument. I wonder if in my lifetime I will come to know the United States as a place that people carry and feel the need to use deadly weapons.

Do you really think that the world has irreversibly changed after September 11th or is it just the Americans that have had their paradigms shifted?
I am tired of public places changing their name to accomodate the latest corporate sponsor. I understand that arts centres, sports facilities and libraries are terribly underfunded and that corporate donation is one of the few ways that they can stay economically viable, but unless you frequent some of these places, you'll have a heck of a time keeping up with what is where.

In the short, short time that I have been in Cowtown, the following public buildings have dissappeared from public record:I'm seeing it happen all over. I know that the renaming doesn't last forever - our local hockey stadium has changed names three times in as many years. When people look back through history books and see the freshly renamed edifices, is this going to leave them wondering what place is being referred to? As it is, I presently have a heck of a time figuring out which place sportscasters and evening news anchors are talking about when they toss out some newly coined name. I find myself asking, "Is that in Calgary?"

The first time I remember this happening was in Edmonton. One of the nicest and most promenent parks was officially opened twenty years prior as Mayfair Park. I knew it was Mayfair Park. My parents knew it from their youth as the same. City council (in their wisdom) decided to rename the park I referred to after a former mayor who resigned from office amidst scandal and was sued by the city for several illegal land deals. Ten or so years after his death, the sour taste he left in Edmontonians' mouths was forgotten by our beloved city council. To this day, I bristle at the renaming of that park for a criminal. I wonder if the managers and employees at Enron Field in Houston feel the same way.

So you want an alternative to renaming? Corporate donators (or benefactors) should put up a big, god-awful sign at the entrance to the place that they are sponsoring. They could have an etched-into-brass picture of the CEO doing a grin-and-grab, handing over a cheque that will see the facility or park through the next 5, 10 or 20 years. They can have a 3D logo popping out from the sign, with verbage beneath proclaiming their greatness and altruistic contribution to the world. Other leaders of the corporate world could then stop and tip their had to their cronies as they enter and exit the place. Regular guys (like me) would lock our bikes to it and vandals could spray-paint their designs on it as a testament to how permanent we felt it was. The monument could remain in place until the next guy comes and ups the ante on the sign spot.

The rest of us could just pass by the big sign on our way into what we know is just a place built for us, by our elected civil government, put in place with our tax dollars. At least when we get old and forgetful, we would still have a fair chance at referring to our landmarks by their proper names.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

It's been a month since our Nova Scotia trip, but finally the pictures are in order.
I've been going to vendor presentations lately. One one hand, it keeps you up on industry trends. On the other hand, it gives you bad cases of equipment envy.

I'm infatuated with a new piece of hardware sold by Fluke Networks, the de facto standard for electronics testing equipment. But even with a pedigree like that, I don't think I could justify a cool $52,000 CDN plus change to either my co-workers or my wife. "But honey, it does throughput tests. Please?"

I find the cabling and TCP/IP conectivity aspects of my job very satisfying. Either they work, or they don't. Once they are in place, they last forever (or at least until someone makes a change). Hardware tends to be ultra-reliable - I've only run into three wonky network cards in as many years. The big problems seem to crop up when there is user-configurable stuff. A properly laid-out and thought-out network can be a dream for the end users. Even high-usage places like EyeWire weren't really taxing the network capacity. When and if I leave this place, I wouldn't mind becoming more proficient and involved in the setup of data networks.
I don't care what anybody says. I think Toby Mcguire did a great job as Peter Parker.

Monday, October 14, 2002

We now have a marathoner amongst us. Jenn finished the 42 kilometres in four hours, twenty-eight minutes, fifty-six seconds. Both knees in tact, a big smile on her face and enough lactic acid to cripple a horse.

But she finished.

No sweaty, embarrassing pictures - just the facts.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

A trip to the Observatory in Victoria was the order of fun last night. Aside from being a freezing cold place to visit in the fall, it was really fun, informative and thought-provoking trip. As well as seeing the largest (at one time) mirrored telescope in the world, we sat in on a lecture that discussed the Big Bang. From what we were told I learned that scientists have worked out that the laws of physics have been in existence from the one billionth trillionth trillionth trillionth (ten to the forty-third power) of a second after the Big Bang. Before that, they just don't know. I am amazed that they can state that fact with that much certainty and precision. Banana and McMonk were along to take in all of this. They were duly impressed, too. We had a show in a planetarium that described where some of the constellations and major systems could be found.

As I stepped out of the obsevatory at 11:15 am and looked up into a cold, clear windy sky, I felt a little more connected and knowledgeable about what was up there.

I get a bit smarter each day, whether I need it or not.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Today was a particularly crappy weather day in Calgary, which is alright by me as I am in Victoria.

Jenn is readying herself to run a marathon, which amazes me to no end. She has trained faithfully for it and is poised to perform a feat I thought was reserved for tall, 90 pound Etheopians. The kids and I flew out with her last night and will be here on Sunday to cheer her on. The place where we are staying is four houses away from the route at the 32 km mark, so we'll be able to almost sit on the lawn as Jenn runs by. I doubt I'll even have to change out of my housecoat to wave as she goes huffing and puffing by.

It's two nights before the race and by 9:30 pm local time, she had gone to bed already. She seems relatively stress-free, but just the same I am taking the kids up-island tomorrow to allow her to become properly anxious and jittery.

I hope she appreciates all I do for her.
Aside from the typically itsy-bitsy screens, I really like Macs.
Being on vacation, I found myself at my my in-laws' house today with no hosts, no wife, no kids and an undetermined amount of time. The sun was shining, it was late in the morning, I'd had a good breakfast and already spent 1/2 an hour reading. Suddenly, a walk became the order of the afternoon.

Getting ready for my walk saw me reducing the baggage that I normally tote about. When I'm out for a stroll, I prefer to be as unencumbered as possible. That means taking only a light jacket, a credit card, a bank card, just a bit (not a whole handful) of change and a pair of sunglasses. I wore some comfortable, well-broken-in shoes and a non-descript jacket. i didn't know that my choices would come in handy today.

My walk lead me from an upper-class neighborhood through a rough part of Victoria, where some homeless people were on the street. Some were camped out in seldom-used doorways, begging. Some were wandering about looking confused, stoned or a bit of both. Some were engaging people, some were silent, some were trying their best to look worthy of pity. Of the ones that were engaging passers-by, hardly any of them bothered to talk to me. I think the reason why I was of no interest to them is because I didn't appear to be a good target. I had no visible signs of affluence, other than a recent shower and clean clothes. I had no flashy jacket, cell phone, backpack, vehicle, coffee cup or anything to lead them to believe I had anything to offer.

I was quite invisible. What a liberating feeling this gave me.
These days it seems that I have more money than time. This statement would be even more shocking to you if you knew just how little unspoken-for money I have.

Monday, October 07, 2002

6 am and I am (against my own better judgement) at the office trying to solve a phone line problem.

I think I may be doing permanent damage to myself with all this staying-up-late-and-getting-up-early nonsense.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Chipping away to all the home projects. Hung a mirror and a set of stairs this weekend. Got the home Exchange server up and running, too. I'm just about ready to settle in for the winter.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

Here it is, Saturday night, I'm wearing my comfy slippers and my jeans with the hole in the arse (washday, you know) and everyone's sleeping or on their way to dreamland. I sit down to check on my backup jobs at work and it seems that the tape autoloader has used up the nine tapes I put in and now is patiently waiting for the tenth.

I really don't want to get into my car and waste 45 minutes for a 30 second job. But I probably will.
Once again, the editorial staff at have summed up my exact sentiment regarding Bush's speech to the United Nations quite nicely.

Friday, October 04, 2002

I had a great time working into the wee hours last night adding customers to our database at work. Part of our marketing includes sending out catalogs to people that subscribe to other magazines or publications. We approach owners of "lists" and purchase a one- (or many-) time use of their customers. We then mail out our spiffy catalog and include a postage-paid card with their name printed on it, enticing them to have the Veer catalog sent to them on a regular basis. When they send their card back to us, we now longer have to rent their name from the original list owner - they become a prospective customer of ours and we can get in touch with them (via postal service or e-mail) as we need to.

We usually get stacks and stacks of the postage-paid cards (known as Blow-in Request for Catalogs, or BRCs) that need to be manually entered into our database. I volunteered to enter some of these because these people are basically requesting to spend money with us. The faster we can respond to them, the better. Also, having a bigger name list of our own adds equity to the company. When I'm entering names I feel like I'm tangibly growing our business, instead of just keeping plates spinning on our network.

I'll be tired Friday, but what the heck.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

I think I set a dangerous precedent. Last week when Banana forgot her lunch (see the end of the linked post), I came to the rescue with chicken strips, fries and a milkshake. I just got a call from McMonk.

"Dad, you forgot my lunch. Can you bring me a strawberry milkshake instead of chocolate?"


Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Here are five totally unrelated pieces of information. I know they are a bit cryptic, but they must be said.
  • the sweater is back, and it wasn't what we all thought.
  • I'm glad they stopped by. His new one is much better than his old one.
  • it's lipstick, not blood, thank goodness.
  • it won't be long until she figures out what that noise is, and that will be the end of that.
  • I'd send out three of 'em if I thought it would help, but I bet they don't want 'em and wouldn't know where to stick 'em if they did.
Just be glad you don't get it.
I don't care if it is spam. If I get a message from Alpha Bumpass, I'm compelled to read it.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Veer Wallpaper
Now that it's October, I feel like getting into the Hallowe'en mood. You wouldn't be able to help yourself, either, if your co-workers had been cranking out free desktop wallpaper and other autumnal treats like this. Do have a peek at what all the Veerdos have been up to. I know, it's a gratuitous plug, but I think we're doing some nice design and we have some tasty products (along with the free stuff).

I'm learning some cool tricks on my new PRI-enabled Norstar Meridian phone system. What are you doing?