Saturday, November 30, 2002

My mom is back from her rotator cuff operation. Eleven months after the accident, she was finally able to get corrective surgery for her injury.

Eleven months. Isn't that deplorable?

She is feeling good considering all she's been through in the last twenty-four hours. Not much pain. Her right arm is in an immobilizing sling so she is restricted to just legs-only activities and one armed pushups.

Friday, November 29, 2002

I am starting to notice that certain changes are taking place in the way my daughters act around me.
  • Banana's buddies (all of whom are about ten and eleven) were at a birthday party trip to a sports facility. The mom-in-charge reported that they were referring to some of the older male teens as "hot."
  • around our house, the doors to my duaghter's rooms are constantly closed. The only time that they are opened is to allow the dog entry or exit, or to quickly dash across the hall to the bathroom, which also gets quickly slammed shut. Even when they are just brushing their teeth.
  • at the start of the ringette season, I took Banana into the team dreassing room. I helped her on with her equipment, tied her skates, cleaned up the pile of clothes (coat, boots, baggy jeans, etc.) that was not needed on the ice, same as I did last year. When I went to help her change back, I was told, "Dad, you're not allowed in the changeroom. You're a boy."

    I'm not a boy, I'm a Dad!

  • I've noticed that when I'm driving either daughter and/or their friends somewhere, conversations in the back seat involve a lot more hushed tones and giggling than they used to.
  • one of the players on Banana's ringette team came out of the dressing room last week and (standing in her skates) was able to look me squarely in the eye.
As a dad of two pre-teenage girls (eight and ten), I thought I had more time to prepare for this.
We have two dogs in the house right now. One is old, crippled and grumpy. The other is 6 months old, energetic and clueless. The younger one is constantly irritating the old one with requests to play, barks, shoulder checks and cold-nosed butt-sniffing. The older dog lets the younger one know in no uncertain terms that she is not enjoying the attention by menacingly growling, barking back and even snapping at the younger dog.

I'm watching this go on and feeling sorry for the older dog and affectionate towards the younger dog at the same time. There's something about unabashed, socially unaware, unbridled enthusiasm that is both annoying and endearing. It reminds me of several people that I've worked with. I wonder if I was that way in my youth, getting under the skin of the barnacle-encrusted old-timers.

Can someone explain this to me?

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Don't worry - you are not the one who is causing this.
(besides, it's pretty self-centered of you to even think you were the cause)
I've waited long enough. I think it's time for me to get a new car.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Keeping all the plates spinning on our network is a full time job lately. espeically when people keep changing the plates and the sticks.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Even though I'm a proud parent, I find that pictures of my pre-one-year-old, wrinkly babies look pretty much the same as pictures of everybody elses' pre-one-year-old, wrinkly babies.

No offence intended.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Some people can look at a bucket of Lego and imagine buildings, towers, vehicles and all sorts of creations. I just had that same experience today.

Banana has been saddled with a science project. She has to build two devices - one that has motion (via a 1.5 volt motor) and one that has some sort of on/off switch trigger function. She decided to build a robot (just a tread-based vehicle) and an alarm. Me, being the ever-helpful parent (especially when I don't have to read french and DO get to work with applied sciences) jumped right in to help. I was asked to pick up parts so during a work-related road trip, I stopped into Active Components, a local electronics store.

The place had a few rayon-clad browsers wandering the aisles and friendly counter staff who looked like they couldn't wait to help. Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed at the the terminology that I hadn't dealt with in a while. How many volts current could run through the LED? Should I have a resistor in series ahead of it? Did Ohm's Law factor into it? How much amperage would a D cell produce? Questions, questions, questions.

I admit to being a novice (but not illiterate) when it comes to electronic circuit design, but the assortment of switches, light emitting diodes, transistors and resistors brought me back to a point in my youth when I used to dabble in connecting this kind of stuff together. The store had a whole section of project kits, too. Electronic timers, metronomes, FM receivers, ... it made me feel like a Weight Watchers refugee at a Baskin Robbins taste-testing counter. I could imagine myself with multimeter and soldering wand in hand, creating amazing and handy little gizmos, all to the delight of friends and family.

Some of my friends may shudder at the thought (I was once told that my soldering looked more like welding), but as a retirement project, I wouldn't mind relearning how to read schematic diagrams and doing some simple projects.

Now, all I gotta do is get enough money to retire.
Jenn's mom was at the hospital all day yesterday with pain radiating down her left arm.

This could be serious.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

It was 2 AM this morning when the alarm went off.

cold, starry nightPull on my clothes, wash my face, get on my heavy jacket and head out to the van. Drive for twenty minutes wishing the heater would hurry up and recreate the warmth of the comforter and duvet I just left behind. Get out of the van, pull out two winter-weight sleeping bags and unzip them all the way around so they could lay flat, like big heavy blankets, on the ground.

Lure two sleepy children (and one sleepy wife) out of the car and onto the sleeping bags - coats, boots and all. Snuggle as close together you possibly can, then pull the last thick sleeping bag overtop of everyone. Try and calm Banana and McMonk down as they giggle and squirm with a mixture of fatigue and excitement at being up so late/early in the morning for this special adventure. Lay your head back and look up, up, up at a show that I won't see again until I'm one hundred and thirty-five years old.

I'm tired this morning, but it was worth it.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Winter has fallen hard and fast on my little town - so much so that most of us homeowners were caught with our pants down when the snow came.

Well, actually, it wasn't our pants, but our leaves. Autumn had been so gentle that most of the trees hadn't yet shed their leaves until after we had two inches of snow on our lawns. So, what's a body to do? Leave the damp, rotting foliage on the ground until spring and be stuck with a gruesome cleanup task then?

Nope. I opted for a different plan. This weekend saw some nice warm weather, but not enough to melt all the snow, but enough to leave 90% of the leaves exposed. With a good inch or so of white crunchy coating on my front and back yard, I'm sure that I amused neighbors and passers-by alike by pushing my lawnmower back and forth through my front and back yard. I ended up with almost six bags of damp leaf/snow mulch.

Glad I got that over with.
What would have been the best music to prepare you for this morning - Canon in D by Pachabel or Rebel Yell by Billy Idol?

Sunday, November 17, 2002

There are few better ways to feel old than hearing a Barry Manilow song and realize that you know all the words.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Four days of near-sleepless nights.
Clueless, mindless telco droids carrying out orders that don't consider the customer.
Disgruntled, interrupted users.
Cables - lots of cables.
Dialog boxes with IP addresses.
Reformatted hard drives.
Grumpy DNS servers.
Telephony interfaces.

The network changes are done and things are finally the way I want 'em. Time to get some sleep.

Monday, November 11, 2002

I have long been a hater (and yes, I know "hate" is a strong word) of outbound telemarketers. I find it offensive that companies and the poor, underpaid commission slaves they have working for them rely on a victim's reluctance to hang up on a phone caller in order to flog their product. We are bad enough at over-consuming - we don't need these flakes pestering us at home or work, trying to invent a need for their product or service. "You haven't cleaned your furnace vents in how long?" "Did you know that you are over-paying for your long distance?"


For this reason, I was tickled when Ian posted a link to a brilliant telemarketer counterscript. I've printed it out and have it by the phone. Now I can't wait for my next call.
If you're feeling even the least bit restless at your station in life, I recommend that you NOT watch Ghost World. Especially if you haven't had a lot of sleep lately.

You'll end up wanting to get on a bus.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

I'm really tired of compliance.

How do I escape? Send me your answers.

I gotta know.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

One of the things unique to my vocation is that any planned work that I do is usually on systems that effect everyone in the office. For this reason, I find the best time to do big changes to my systems is outside of regular business hours. And my night-owl tendencies sway me toward coming in during the evening and working into the night.

Tonight I had big changes scheduled. After a full and relaxing day at home, I went to swim practice, came home for a yummy spaghetti dinner (with homemade tomato and meat sauce!) then headed off to work. Arriving at the office, I turn on the lights and get to work on the first priority - setting up some music to keep me company. As the whole office tower is virtually deserted, I don't mind turning up the music so I can hear it ANYWHERE in our little office. Due to a purchase made by one of our now defunct sister companies, I have (in the IS graveyard) a set of Harmon-Kardon high performance speakers and a subwoofer. This, combined with my little MP3 player, will make for a good evening. Hmmm, queue up a Motown playlist and time to get to it.

I get the Vandellas beltin' out a heartfelt song, I dance up to the server, open up the backup logs to check and make sure that they completed successfully only to find out that backups aren't finished. I can't do anything until they do, and I have no easy way to find out how long this is going to take (I backup multiple servers). Hmmmm, so here I am, a full tummy, free to putter away at my hobby/job with a bit of time on my hands. Should I wait or should I go? Maybe I should just add some Clash to the play list and think about it for a while.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

We've got a new addition to the swimming gang. She started coming to practice in September, but I wanted to make sure she was a permanent member before I added her to the cast.

She is (probably without knowing it because she's too young) the perfect, spunky, chunky Mary-Lou Retton clone - a small town girl that has come to Calgary to find her fame and fortune. Somehow, she ended up in our pool on Mondays and Wednesdays, probably straight from her volunteer position at the old folks home or the SPCA. She's bright-eyed, sweet and pure with smooth, pimple-free skin and a darling smile. Chaste and polite, I don't think anything we say or do will sway her from the straight and narrow. If the Two Broads don't take her on a road trip and help her to loosen up, she could end up being the perfect straight man during our Nacho and Beer nights.

Readers, say hello to Mary-Lou.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Trust Me!

Something just doesn't feel right about filling in this checkbox.

A fella at work has made a suggestion to me that has taken root - end every statement that you make with, "... ya JACKASS!" This has nothing to do with that brainless movie of the same name. It would add a jalopeno to the humdrum of everyday conversation. Think of a whole day where you could let people know how you feel about having to be out of the comfort of your home, away from your loved ones and dealing with them.
  • Thanks for your input on that, ya JACKASS!
  • I'll need you to log off your system so I can install that software you asked for, ya JACKASS!
  • I couldn't help but notice that you made some changes to the server this morning without telling anyone, ya JACKASS!
  • I'm just wondering when you could pay me back the five dollars you owe me, ya JACKASS!
  • Thanks for holding the elevator for me, ya JACKASS!
How am I gonna resist doing that now?

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I abhor people who take up two parking spaces when they park. Every time they do it, they should have a finger lopped off.

I'm down to just one machine on the bench. Doh! Someone just put another one in the queue.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Sean and Jenn in their Hallowe'en bestHanding out candy to the kids is even more fun when you dress for it. Putting on Bach's Fugue in D minor and turning out all the lights helps to set the mood, too. Jenn handles the little kids, I get to deal with the big ones.

There's something innately fun about scaring people. You get to see them at their un-coolest. Base levels of pretension are stripped away and they react (whether they being scared by choice or by accident) as if their actions will affect whether they live or die. Young teenagers are the best to scare. They are close enough to childhood for their imagination to have strong hooks into their conscious behavior but are struggling with assuming a veneer of adulthood. I *love* to hear their voices wafting down the street because it means just one thing to me on Hallowe'en - VICTIMS.

When I'm getting set to scare them, I find that by not talking, I can be most frightening. If I need to make a sound, I hiss like an angry cat. I'm working on a deep-throated, evil laugh, too. The best gag we've worked out so far is to have Jenn answer the door while I sit about three metres back from the door in a big, wing-backed chair. Remember, we've turned out all the house lights and I'm at the end of a darkened hallway. I have my eyes closed and support the candy bowl on my lap with my gloved hands. When I assume this position in the costume, I look just like a mannequin. For the younger kids, Jenn will come back to me take a candy from the bowl and bring it to them at the door. To the older ones, she'll say in a scratchy voice, "Dearie, if you want some candy, you'll have to take it (pointing behind her) from him."

I let the first contestant, laughing nervously, take the candy freely while I sit, listening to the crinkling of candy wrappers, with my eyes closed. As soon as the second one reaches in, I pop my eyes wide open and half a second later, grab the frightened youngster's wrist as they try to extract it from the bowl. It's usually good for a yell or a scream. I unabashedly take great pleasure in this. After all, isn't being scary (and scared) what Hallowe'en is all about?

I can tell I'm fostering enjoyment of putting on a good show. Banana usually wants to join in on the fun and be my "assistant" when she's finished plundering the neighborhood and returns with her loot. Her bedroom window (in the basement) has a deep window well, and she has plans of covering it over with a fake grave and tombstone, then jumping out at people that get too close.

Hallowe'en is such a fun event.