Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Happy Hogmanay Day, to all my dear, old (and not-so-old) friends of Scottish descent.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

rock music!

Papa Moa has a new view. We're in an office with a window and some paint that is much more flattering for his complexion.

Friday, December 26, 2003

The gift greedies got my daughter yesterday, and I wasn't impressed.

The whole "giving and getting" emphasis has rubbed me the wrong way more and more as I've grown older. As a kid, I remember looking forward to getting some presents, but as I've aged, the gift desire (and pressure to get just the right gifts) seems to have become more and more pronounced in society. The merchants(by way of the media) have been happily pouring fuel on the fire, aiming at the most vulnerable and easily-swayed of the population - children. Almost all of the children's' programming has some sort of commercialistic tie-in. Some of the television programmes (Yu-Gi-Oh, Bayblades, Card-Captors, to name a few) are barely entertainment, and totally aimed at selling the accessories, not even *trying* to disguise their consumerism.

"Gotta catch 'em all, Pokemon!" Right?

"Grandma? Grandpa? I need 'em all for Christmas, just like the theme songs says. Please?"


So here it is, Christmas Day, and I'm watching my kid have a meltdown because she didn't get *one* of the gifts on her list. To her credit, she made an astute comment in the car ride home from my parents house (where we had Christmas dinner). She said that she "must be tired, that's probably why I feel this way." Good for her. That shows a lot of self awareness. I was totally beat, which wasn't helping my mood and tolerance of the situation, either.

I was pretty disappointed in my daughter and fear that I took it out on her by being extra-stern and very, very unsympathetic that she hadn't got one of the gifts (of the many) that she asked for.

I have to remember that kids don't have the power (money, access to stores, etc.) to get the things that they want. They have to rely on benevolence (in the form of events like Christmas) to get those things that they desire. Maybe I had misjudged which of the items on her Wish List she had placed the most importance on. I, as a parent, have to have to temper my judgment with this knowledge and remember what it was like when *I* was a kid.

Reason and empathize, Sean, reason and empathize.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

I spent my Christmas Eve on the ski slopes with my family. A much calmer skiing trip than the previous one, but no less enjoyable. I rode up the gondola with a family from Dover who had made the trek over to Banff (we were skiing at Sunshine Village) to spend the holidays. They mentioned castles and battle re-enactments around their home town - sounded like there was a lot of dented armour being produced on the east shores of England in the summer.

After skiing, we made the hour drive back and prepared for the big day. One thing I insisted on was a trip to church. Normally, I'm not that fervent to push a religous experience on my family, but I enjoy singing Christmas carols and the usual candlelight procession that happens at the end of the service. I don't insist that they attend, but they decided to tag along.

The church that we attend most regularly is the United Church. Although I don't (unquestioningly) subscribe to the Protestant religion, I find that the United Church is the most accepting and welcoming of all the Christian faiths. The experience was wonderful. Being with a group of people that are feeling love for the whole of humanity does something nourishing for your soul, no matter where your spiritual idiologies run. The sermon was a message of acceptance, welcoming all who came to the sanctuary that evening. I found it very satisfying being there.

After church, we came home, got ready for bed and Banana and McMonk crawled back into their nest to settle down for the evening. As I was putting the last few goodies in the Christmas stockings, looked out the back window and saw the pine tree in the back yard. It was a small cone of warm lights in the darkness.

I felt all Christmas-y. Everything was as it should be, me in my warm, little, un-renovated house, amongst the clutter that I've carefully accumulated and can't seem to get rid of, with my occasionally misbehaving children that I love so much.

Monday, December 22, 2003

This weekend, I bought a Wayne's World DVD and now I can't bear to give it away.

Does that make me evil?

Sunday, December 21, 2003

"... and the children were nestled all snug in their tents ... "

Hang on a second. That's not how it goes.

But, look. There they are. Banana and McMonk have created a waiting place, where they plan to hedonistically wait for Christmas to arrive. They've taken every spare blanket and sleeping bag and made a nest under Banana's loft bed, thus blocking out all light coming into the area. They've taken a small TV and set it up just outside of their nest, so they can watch Christmas videos of the Muppets, Veggie Tales and even some of the classics that I used to watch as a child on broadcast TV. From this little sanctuary, they will venture out only for bathroom breaks, to get food and fresh videos or to stroke another day off the kitchen calendar.

The one positive thing about the Big Christmas Wait is that the two of them typically get along wonderfully. Go figure.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Sometimes gift-giving events can be downright embarrassing.

We had a White Elephant gift exchange at work on the last day that everyone was going to be there. I was fourth person to choose in the draw and had a brilliant strategy. I was going to go for the biggest and heaviest gift.

On the fourth draw from the selection of names, I was picked to go and choose from the pile of wrapped, non-descript, unmarked gifts and was rewarded with a 750 ml bottle of Baileys. It was quickly stolen (we had a one-swap-and-the-gift-is-permanent rule) and so I went back to the pile and picked the next-biggest gift, which turned out to be a gag gift. It was a very nice apron with a big flap that lifts up in the front and artificial (but very authentic looking) naughty bits under the flap. It looked like I was flashing people when I put my hands in the pockets and lifted the pockets up.

I thought it was funny, but not really appropriate for work. I made the best of it, though. I put the apron on and taunted the male co-workers a bit when they went to choose their gifts, trying to get them to come and "steal" my gift. I was acting as the ham, but I surprised myself with a flush of modesty.

I know I offended at least one of the people in the office and I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with that.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Today a friend invited me (via e-mail) to create and send to him a list of my ten favorite moments in 2003. Normally, I save my birthday as a reflective time, but I decided to take him up on it. I made a quick list at work (lots to keep me busy there and I'm a bit self-conscious about wasting time at the company's expense) and fleshed out my favorite moments (with stories behind what led to the moment and how I was feeling at the time) once I got back home.

Creating the list was harder than I anticipated. There were lots of moments and incidents that stood out in my mind, but not all of them were memorable for positive reasons. My blog was a good starting point, but didn't have all the incidents and happenings that I wanted. It just helped with timeframes.

It ended up being a good exercise that left me feeling grateful for all that the year has brought me.

Christmas is a good time for being grateful.
Almost all the gift buying has been done. It is going to be a lean Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Blecchh! Exercise!


Yummm! Greasy food!

A Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, large fries and a bucket-sized Coke is cheaper than a day pass to the Talisman Centre, enabling you to swim, run on a track, play basketball or volleyball, lift weights or otherwise workout.

Hardly seems fair. If you had a day that was free of obligations, two litres of water and only 10 bucks to spend, which would you go for?

Friday, December 12, 2003

Okay, I guess it's about time to wash my gym clothes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The idea of purchasing a G5 keeps popping into my head.

Do I need one? No.

Could I make use of one? Yes, sometimes.

Could I just use one at work when I did need one? Yes.

It just wouldn't be the same as having one around the house. One that I can learn on, blow up, fix and goof around with late at night.


Sunday, December 07, 2003

The Christmas tree went up today, midst feelings (for me, anyways) of hypocrisy. Christmas, in it's purest form, is the Stanley Cup of the Christian flavor of religions. The birth of Jesus Christ, the reason for the Catholics and Protestants to be. And here I am, singing songs about how glad I am that Jesus was born when I'm really just glad that I get a few days off work to hang out with my family and friends. I feel I've done my kids a disservice regarding all this Christmas stuff, too. Due to my information regarding Christianity, they wouldn't know the Holy Trinity from the Three Stooges.

I wasn't always this way. I was raised by Christian-ish parents, taken to a United (Protestant) church, became a member of the boys choir and sang Christian hymns right along with all the other slick-haired, young, rosy-cheeked boys. I learned to recite the Lord's Prayer from memory, understood how a service generally proceeded and even figured out what to do during communion. As I grew older and my weekends got busier with swim meets and vacations, my (and my family's) church attendance dropped off to pretty much nothing. As a teenager, Christmas Eve and Easter services were expected, but anything else was just a bonus.

Now I've become an adult with busy children and a family of my own and I am recalling the church experiences I've had away from my mom and dad. Since becoming an adult, I've had a couple of two-year runs where I've attended church regularly, usually drawn by favorable family circumstances (read: some extra time on Sunday), ministers that I've gotten along with well and/or the lure of singing (once again) in the choir. Right now, I have found the United church closest to my house to be a bit stuffy and non-welcoming. I haven't attended more than four times all year. Combine this with the reading and studying I've done of different religions and philosophies and suddenly I don't feel a real close affiliation with all the other hard-core Christians that are gearing up for the B-I-G celebration.

I'm still trying to firm up my beliefs and I've had a hard time trying to swallow the one-size-fits-all structure that most religions have for you; Christians in particular. For now, I'm going to just focus on the message that was wrapped around the visit of that Jewish carpenter to our lonely planet - hope for the human race, peace, tolerance for each other and gratefulness for those whom we love and who love us. I'll go to church (yes, the one that I feel weird about) on Christmas Eve and sing my favorite carols with a church organ vibrating my sternum in accompaniment. I'll shake hands with all the congregation, wishing them a merry christmas and wishing at the same time I could remember their names.

That'll have to do for this year.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

I just spent an hour cleaning our storage room. I can see the floor everywhere in the room, the shelves are organized, the workbench is clear of junk and I've created a whole bag of recyclables and just a small bag of garbage.

Whew - talk about satisfying! Next time, I attack my study ...
Separated at Birth?

Is it really you?

Rex Murphy of
CBC Televsion

I can't believe we're reunited at last!

Gollum, from
Lord of the Rings
S.M.A.R.T. Technology?

Puh-leeze. Are people still impressed with interno-techo-integrated-no-one-cares-about components that are given acronyms that spell a cute, vaguely meaningful word?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I managed to hold off on feeling Christmas-y until December, no thanks to retailers who've had garland up and Bing Crosby playing since before Hallowe'en. I plugged in the Christmas lights last night due to some other subtle signs that the HoHo day will soon be upon us. The holiday parties have started, Mandarin Oranges are on sale, and my mom (bless her heart) has covertly set out some of her own decorations at our house on one of her visits.

Christmas always makes me feel cozy and warm. I want to skate outdoors, go Christmas carolling, come home and drink hot chocolate by a fireplace. At the same time, I'm curious about what traditions are going on right now for those follow (as loosely as I do or not) other religions. I found an excellent website that details the Jewish traditions, specifically Hanukkah.

Good reading.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I have a new mobile phone. I love playing with new technology.

Monday, December 01, 2003

OK, enough is enough.

The pictures from our trip to Greece and London aren't fully annotated with comments, but they're good enough to have a quick look at.

Be sure and try out the cool panorama shots.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

We're starting Day 6 of having a broken dishwasher at the house.

Its not like I haven't tried to get it fixed. Saturday, when I determined that the water that refused to drain from the basin of the machine was not caused by the food chunk catcher being plugged (I regularly keep it clean). There was a more sinister problem in the bowels of this beast.

Owing to the fact that we have a spiffy Swedish appliance, there are only certain appliance repair guys that will touch it - two in Calgary, to be exact. Being suspicious of the reliability of service companies, I booked both of them to come out. On Monday, the first one called to say that one of their technicians had a heart attack Sunday night and that I wouldn't get my visit until Friday. The second one showed up the next day but neglected to call beforehand. He found it quite rude that I hadn't stayed home all day to wait for him. I'm sure he left in a huff, even though I had provided him with my cell phone number when I made the appointment. Company Number One should be back tomorrow, barring any more myocardial infarctions.

Anyhow, I am getting tired of doing dishes by hand, all without the help of a drying rack. Its hard to believe that I lived in a house that had no dishwasher for three years.
If you send me an e-mail, please please please give it a descriptive subject line. The spam is filling my poor, little Inbox quite regularly. I find myself indiscriminately deleting e-mail with vague subject lines.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I took a break from work this afternoon and was out driving. I went by a school yard where I saw a young (12 years old, I'm guessing) boy standing with his foot on the chest of a younger boy who was laying on the ground in front of him. The two were talking for the whole time I traveled by them, frozen in a pose of physical dominance/submission. I wasn't sure if it was a game or bullying. Had I been on foot or been able to pull over safely I would have broken up this confrontation, even if it were just a game.

What would you have done if you had been me?

Sunday, November 23, 2003

"Peace shall steal unaware into our room,
and putting her hands across our eyes from behind,
shall whisper "Guess who?"
and before we know it,
when we least expect it,
she is there,
to remain by our fireside and bless us and our children with her presence."

- Lin Yutang
Selfish shellfish.

7 times, fast.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

You know, if the computer world would call a halt to progress for a year or so, I'd buy a new G5.

But next month's machine is nicer.

Friday, November 21, 2003

I'm back. I'm rested. I'm going to try not to jump back into the run-in-circles, heightened level of activity I was in before I left on that little trip. I'm going to try to put processes in place that limit the amount of craziness I'm exposed to and expected to take part in.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

London is being kind to us today. The sun is shining and we've been exploring Camden Market. Clothing deals abound - not much for music - everything seems pretty much the same as at home. The software developers I work with keep me up on the dance/trance/euro/techno scene.

I'm loving being back in England - the accents I hear, the clever advertisements, riding the Tube, the traffic, the life on the streets after dark, the tall old buildings, ... Just everything about being here (except the prices). I'm taken back to my youth, days when I took a break from University and traveled Europe with friends (and by myself for a while). After backpacking around the mainland, I returned to London and found I could not get enough of the history, sights and general feel of London. I found a job at a building merchants stocking shelves and working as a yard ape. I was able to find a roommate and a family that needed housesitters (they were off to Spain on a sabbatical) and I was all set up. Happy memories.

This visit, we're staying on the top floor of a posh bed and breakfast in Chelsea - nice old house built in 1708. We've bought Travelcards for the transit system, we're off to the theatre this afternoon and we've stopped at a little Chinese cafe with Internet service in the back of the shop.

Tomorrow is a London Bus Tour day, where we go 'round to all the big sights of London proper - the Tower of London, House of Parliament, Westminister Abbey, Marble Arch, Speaker's Corner, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus and the like.

Totally, totally great time. I hope my family is having fun, too.
Thanks, Morton, for reminding me why I love 'blogging so much. It's about the little things, isn't it?

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Believe me, I'm not in Crete because of the excellent internet access or the ultra-reliable power grid (7 power outages in three days and counting - always at the aexact instant that I have a moment to sit down at a computer).

Guess I should be vacationing instead of looking for a decent connection.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Crete is turning out to be a much nicer place. The accomodation is very, very nice. Warm, comfortable, nice facilties, even a weightroom (or sorts) and a pool! 30 metres or so long! Only problem is that it's not heated - 21c. I've been in for a 1000 m swim, but it's very cold! I wish I brought my wetsuit. I got out for another run this morning. It was along the beach. It's low tourist season here and the beaches are littered with all sorts of unsavory things - the locals must do a lot of cleaning of the beaches during high tourist season.

This afternoon we are going to Matala, a town in the central-south part of Crete that has some ancient caves - old Roman burial caves that became dwelling places for local fishermen. The caves are over 6000 years old! I went there when I was a young buck (20 or so) and slept there overnight - illegally (it's a national park). Should be fun. We rented a tiny little rental car and will use it for the trip. The kids and I have dug in our heels about tomorrow - we are going to stay put in the timeshare and enjoy it. Jenn can wander if she wants! I'm starting to relax. Just in time, too - just eleven days left of the vacation!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

We're at the end of our time here on the island of Paros. The weather has cooperated on and off. We had sun and some clouds for the first day, cloudy with some rain the second day and just pouring today. I got out for a run yesterday - an hour of my music (which I don't realize how much I miss until I'm without it) and some good ol' biofeedback from the legs has done wonders for my mood. We've seen some nice sights and had lots of fun,but it's time to go. Paros is very quiet as almost ALL of the shops close in October. The few local places that are open (grocery stores, restaurants) all seem happy to see us. I'm not exaggerating when I say that there are *maybe* 200 tourists on the island when there are over 100,000 in the summer.

I'm getting well rested and will be ready for work when I get back home. I can't wait to get into a pool. All the pools here are unheated, and even a brave, Canadian boy like me shudders at the thought of getting into that water. Brrrrrr!

Language is a challenge - I wish I had worked on my Greek before I left. Counting, greetings and directions would have been nice.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Athens, Greece

Jenn's race is finished. She ended up running with one of her buddies from the Running Room and two guys from the States that we met in our hotel. She did exactly as she predicted - 4:15.XX, not a big surprise as she had lots of instrumentation (HR monitor, pedometer, stop watch, etc.) to rely on.

Jenn broke a molar on the airplane - bit into an olive pit. We haven't seen a dentist (although we did try) and she is OK now. The tooth is better - she had the broken part come out yesterday, so she says it's not an issue until she gets home (where she'll have her own dentist look at it).

Banana, McMonk and I have been exploring Athens. We found what our guidebook promised as Europe's biggest outdoor market. It turned out to be the biggest garage sale we've ever seen - old shoes, tea towels, used electrical parts, we saw it all. We traversed the subway system (which has been nicely cleaned up in preparation for the 2004 Olympics) and saw all the construction that is happening. The city has a great deal of work to do before all the athletes arrive in 2004. Athens has tons of people, shops, cars, buildings, noise, pigeons and history packed into a very small, smoggy place. The girls have severe culture shock and are spending more than 12 hours a day sleeping. Banana seems to be coming down with a cold - I hope it's short-lived.

Tomorrow's a traveling day, as we make our way to Paros (island) and our timeshare there. The weather is great here - almost too hot for a run today, but very pleasant for touristing. The girls got pretty tired of being dragged around, even though it was them that wanted to go to the market initially. I'm ready for a sit-still-by-the-pool day, or even a get-in-and-swim day. Perhaps Tuesday will be that day.

Friday, October 31, 2003

27 hours of travel, and we've just made it to Rome. Another 3 hour layover, then we're off to the final destination of Athens.

We've run into some medical challenges (the missus a chipped tooth), but it's nothing we can't handle.

Boy, we sure are tired, though.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Instead of sleeping, I'm doing some Geek bookwork and digging some old Supertramp. I almost forgot how much I like this music.

Monday, October 27, 2003

I'm one step closer to having all the things that I want.

Funny how life just falls into place. Wish hard enough for something and there it is.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

When I'm nursing home age, I know for sure that I will regret the things that I didn't do much, much more than the things that I did.

How about you?
By the way, what did/will you do with your extra hour today?

I spent mine listening to music and reading on the sofa. I discovered my extra hour just after my shower, when the chilluns were still asleep and the missus was off doing a run. The Collins Family has adjusted and we are back behind schedule again.

Friday, October 24, 2003

My dog's 2 am trip outside to use the grass requires me to be the doorman, so up I got. Now, up I am, and back to sleep I can't get.

Double poop.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

In the locker room, I overheard a father and her very young (about three year old) daughter talking. Although I couldn't see either of them, the little girl's sweet, innocent, sing-song voice wafted through the air and caught my attention.

Girl:Daddy, what day is it tomorrow?
Dad:How does the song go?
Girl:(sung to a nursery-school tune)
Monday, Tuesday,
Saturday, Sunday,
and then we start again.
Now, today is Wednesday, so
what day is tomorrow?
- big pause -
Never been to Mexico, eh?

You should go then. Helluva drive, but swimmin' in the Caribbean is worth it.

Blogger Hoodie

Got my new Blogger hoodie today. I'm stylin' now.

Monday, October 20, 2003

To a mechanic fixing your brakes, rotors are like chocolate sprinkles on an ice cream sundae. Probably unnecessary, totally an option, definitely a small-but-tangible way to increase the total bill.

When you take your car in to have the brake pads replaced, the mechanic will phone you after he's had the car for an hour or two. He will say something like, "I noticed your rotors are looking worn. I could probably grind the rotors, but there won't be much left on them. We've got everything apart and could replace them for about 60 bucks each."
Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt

Now, you're left thinking, "Does 'not much left' mean 'not enough left'?" and it's a safety thing he's got it apart anyways and you didn't replace the rotors in the van and it blew a caliper that cost $450 to fix and are the pads going to outlast the rotors and and and ....

Down your mind goes in a spiral of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Of course, the mechanic counts on this. Most of the time, it's what he sells.

"So, do you want sprinkles with that?"

Sunday, October 19, 2003

I am really, really looking forward to being in Greece and being bored out of my skull.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

It is encouraging to be in the company of other writers. Banana, McMonk and I went to WordFest, a Calgary event that brings authors from all over the world to talk about their books, their writing, their research and themselves. People that read their works are able to meet them, get the skinny on what they're working on next and get copies of their books signed.

Today, we met and had hot chocolate with Linda Bailey, author of two different series of books - a history/adventure series and a series of mystery novels with a 12-year-old female heroine. Banana and McMonk soaked up the experience. We ended up buying a few of her books (two from each series) with requests for more of the same once they'd finished reading the ones they have now. Linda also had some nice things to say about the girls and the things they were into. She seems like a down-to-earth, sensible and decent person.

Even though the meeting was set up for the girls, I did pry into the world of the professional writer. Was she a binge writer, or was it a disciplined exercise? What inspired her? What spurred her ideas? What did she do when she had out-of-idea days? I wasn't looking for a formula, but rather a different perspective from someone else who likes to get their thoughts into words. I've mused about writing for kids, thinking that it would be something that suits my style and sense of humour. Some day, I may even try getting something published on paper. For the time being, I'll stick to being a web-based author.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Preparations continue for our quickly-approaching trip to Greece. We leave on the 30th of October and have all the details taken care of, and believe me when I say that there were many of them. Flights, car rentals, accomodation at three different locations, transporation between them (taxis, ferries, buses), what to see, where to visit, what to do ... it's all been a little overwhelming. I hope we actually have time to relax.

I don't believe that Banana and McMonk haven't grasped the full concept of being out of school and travelling that far way just yet. So far, it is just talk and numbers and words about places they can't fathom. They've never been in a place where they can't even read the letters of the words on signs. We've stayed in North America for all of their remember-able lives. I hoep that this trip gives them a desire to travel to and experience more cultures and places throughout their lives.

Tomorrow, we are going to listen to an author of children's books who writes about ancient civilizations, including ancient Greece. I hope that this will prepare them a bit for that they are going to see. Travelling is so much more fun when it connects and fits with pieces of information that you already have in place.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

It's my crazy friends that I treasure the most.

Today, I heard from an ex-workmate that I used to know from Edmonton. She's moved on to be closer to her dreams. She and her husband now live in the far north and drive/race dogsleds on the weekends.

How far out is that?

I am in total admiration of someone who is willing to take a chance, leave what is safe and known and follow their heart.
Thanks to me, one of my co-workers is gonna be gettin' some tonight.

All because I taught him how to get rid of that lint that his balls pick up.

On his mouse, I mean.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Finally, a nice photo of me, running down Banff Avenue during the Melissa's 10 K Road Race.

It was a great race. The sun was shining, my legs were working nicely and the FooFighters were serenading me as the scenery quickly went by. The race route wound through downtown (if you can call it that) Banff, with an out-and-back point three kilometres from the end. As I was heading into this round-and-back, I saw the lead runner come out. "Hey," thinks I, "I should count runners coming back and see what place I am in."

I got to a rough number of 200 before it became too difficult - big clumps of people are hard to count when you're both heading, full speed, in opposite directions. I rounded the turnabout point shortly after and ended up being 189th out of 2700.

A good race, an hour of my favorite songs, sunshine and fresh mountain air. This picture will hold good memories.

Monday, October 13, 2003

I have a nice house.
I have a good job.
I work with interesting people.
I have intelligent, challenging kids.
Both my parents are still alive and in relatively good health.
I have two vehicles at my disposal and all the electronic toys a person could rightfully want.

Spot the problem? Me neither.

Why am I so grumpy?

Sunday, October 12, 2003

When you are with someone and they start talking bullshit, and it is trivial, no-one-really-cares-bullshit, do you bother to correct them or point out to the rest of their audience that they are misguided or lying?

Even if it's a relative?

Even if they're older than you?

Even if the speaker has a known propensity for spewing inaccuracies?

I want to get better at calling people when they're spewing falsehoods - I know it could serve me well in personal and business life. I'm getting older and braver, but still I have problems with this person. They were either deluded or lying about the severity of a past illness and I didn't bother to jump into their story and correct them. I was concerned that my kids would see me passively letting anaccuracies slip, but I am sure that they were paying attention. I avoided a scene (I think) by not correcting this person. I just don't know if it would do any good with this particular individual. It's sad that I don't think they're worth the effort.
Loud, loud, loud.

Really loud.

So loud, you can feel your chest vibrate.

So loud, having earplugs and covering your ears with your hands still doesn't keep the noise out.

So loud, you can sing at top volume while you dance and it doesn't bother anyone around you.

So loud, your ears ring for a whole day afterwards.

Other than that, Sloan put on a good concert last night at Mac Hall. Banana enjoyed it tremendously, scoring a vinyl copy of Pretty Together along with a healthy dose of fatigue for the whole next day.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

The camera went back, with promise of a newer, spiffier camera in the near future.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The spammers are winning. Adding to my hectic life these days, my e-mail address has made it onto a rather active spam list. This morning, I have 157 messages to go through. I had a clean inbox as of 8 pm last night.

For some reason, I have a very zen attitude this morning. Grant thinks it's my shirt.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Guests from China, guests from Vancouver Island, a wife going to a marathon and two kids involved in different sports are all contributing to the kilometres put on our little Jetta these days.

I'll write more when I'm retired, I promise.
The softening of our language is a sad thing. People not saying what they're meaning and making small talk instead. Frittering the precious minutes of our live away with niceties, safe topics and bullshit that holds no value. Conversations like this stay with the recipient for no amount of time and do nothing to stretch the perspective of the speaker or listener.

Wanna hold my interest? Talk to me about religion, or tell me a dirty joke, or tell me what or who you really hate or love.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

The time has come to do something rash. I've not yet settled on any particular rash act, but I feel the need to cut loose.

Now, if that don't make you want to stay tuned, I don't know what will.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Two days without any form of exercise, other than household chores, sure makes me get grumpy.

It was all I could do to be civil to our young houseguests - we're hosts to a sleepover this evening. We hosted a pizza party for Banana's ringette team today. It was fun but tiring to keep everyone active, adding variety in activities at the appropriate time. They played outside in, on and around the treehouse; made up and filmed a puppet show (with some tidbits that suggested sexual awareness, which I found interesting); ate pizza and other assorted junk foods; posed for team pictures and generally goofed around with each other and strengthened their friendships.

I was worn out when the group left, but Banana and McMonk weren't. They called a three friends over and suddenly, we were feeding them the leftover pizza and offering to give their sick (stomach flu) dad a break and have them stay for the night. We negotiated a 10 o'clock in bed/ 10:30 lights out arrangement, then toothbrushes, pillows and pajamas were acquired (through a quick run home). Meanwhile, the cleanup from the party proceeded with not as much effort as was originally expected.

Still, I found myself being short with the kids as they fooled around, getting ready for the scheduled bedtime. A swim would have done me good this evening.

Friday, October 03, 2003

There used to be time for play at work, but work is just work now. The demand for my time in the office is great - it's crushing sometimes. If it weren't for the personalities of my officemates, I'd be in more urgent need for a break.

My coworkers seem to be gentler with me - I'm taking this gradual transition as a show of respect. Two, in particular, seem to have a more personal tone. I'm grateful for that.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Courtesy of my buddy, Jay, an addendum to my definition of fit (or not fat):

Having the energy and ability (strength, agility, flexibility, endurance) to do all the things that you want and need to physically with relative ease.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Tomorrow, I'm looking forward to a trip to a family gathering. When I get there, I'm going to see relatives that I haven't seen for ages, I'm going to eat sandwiches and vegetables from an assorted caterer's tray, I'm going to sing songs that I love to sing, but best of all, I'm going to hear stories. Most of the stories will be about Anne Walker, my grandfather's second wife. She died late Saturday night or Sunday morning - I'm not exactly sure.

I only fleetingly knew her as the quiet, mature, intelligent, square-jawed woman that won the heart of my dear grandpa, and then later as a frail, old woman in a nursing home that had been left with a body and a mind that she didn't deserve in her final years. I really don't know too much about how she grew up, what she did for fun with her first family, what her favorite meal was to cook, what her favorite song was .... These are all things I hope to learn tomorrow.

Thoughts of going to a funeral have filled my thoughts today, in spite of the mayhem that work and my home presented me with. I know the missus has been thinking about Anne's demise and is steeling herself for her own parents' time.

We're all a bit fragile right now.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

McMonk doesn't need parents anymore. She needs staff.

I just overheard her dictating (in a really nice and positive, leading way, but still dictating) to her grandmother the type of costume that would be required for Hallowe'en. McMonk even threw in, "Grandma, you don't need to start on it tonight."

She'll go far, once she has a few good people underneath her.
Guess who went to Costco yesterday? Guess who was lured into the technology section and ended up looking at digital cameras?

Yep, me, the proud owner of a Minolta Dimage F200 camera. Expect a few more pictures to accompany things in the near future here at

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Running under an assumed name (purchased race number, actually), I completed the Melissa's 10 kilometre run in a very respectable 47:23, finishing 189th out of over 2700. And that was a training run.

I love my new legs.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

A tension headache has come to visit me. Life is getting too busy. I need to simplify things. There are too many concurrent processes running.

I've reached an interesting point in my athletic endeavors. An explanation is coming, but first, a bit of background. My daughters, bless their innocent souls, have already brought up the notion of being "fat". We've discussed what fat is, and how fat do you need to be to be "fat" (I could complicate things further by discussing what phat is, but that's a different topic altogether). What the girls and I came up with is that you are not fat if you have the energy and ability to do all the things that you want and need to do, physically. This should shoo away the demons of anorexia and bulimia for a little while.

I am now fit enough to do all the things that I want to do. Should I now drop into maintenance mode, or continue on in pursuit of a fitter me?

Last night, I lay in bed and felt an ache in my legs from a challenging set of weight repetitions I did, right before a moderately hard hour of swim practice. I am the fittest I've been in a long time, perhaps rivaling my early-twenties. I'm enjoying the energy I have right now, but I am worried that if I push much harder I'll risk injuries or burnout. I'm also enjoying a deeper friendship with my training mates - I know I'd miss spending less time with my newfound companions.

I'm going for a run today, but I will be listening to what my body tells me as far as, "keep going" or "rest now." I promise to heed any urgent requests.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Today, I sat in a meeting and found myself looking at one of my coworker's arms and hands. I noticed that they were completely hairless. He has a full head of hair.

I wonder if he removes the hair or whether his arms and hands are naturally that way.
I'm just about done getting stuff for myself. It's time to purge some possessions.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

The dreams, they've been graphic lately. Too much work and concentration makes the subconscious show funny pictures.

I'm in a drab bachelor suite with dingy, mint-colored walls that have the un-removable odor of stale cigarette smoke. My whole extended family is there, talking amougst each other in small groups. My brother and father have fallen asleep on the floor, with their backs leaning against a ratty brown sofa with a carved-pattern velour. Their heads are back and they are snoring loudly. Someone puts harmonicas in their mouths and they begin to play (in unison) Brahm's Lullaby. Suddenly, from nowhere, they are accompanied by bagipes.

I step out onto the balcony and see that we are at least one hundred stories up. Someone hands me my parachute (a beautiful, day-glo colored one that nicely accents the grey jumpsuit I am suddenly wearing) along with helmet, goggles and handicam. Twelve or so of us are crammed onto the balcony as I hear the countdown to jump. We do a group exit from balcony and do a nice BASE jump, landing in a field, miles from any building.

Peeling out of our jumpsuits and gear, we rush for seats at the table (we are now in a restaurant) and start bragging (lying, really) about the grossest kinds of pizza that we've eaten.

Now, that's just the brief snippet I decided to remember. I need to play, I think.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Been a long time, yes it has, but that's OK, 'cause you're so patient.

As I sit and wait for my operating system to move some files, I'll blog a bit.

Should I run across the street and get a pop to keep me awake? Hmmmmm ....

Friday, September 12, 2003

Better late than never, here are some pictures from our June hostelling trip.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Oh - CRAP.

I just created about three weeks of work for myself and Sporadicus.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003


But tonight, I am going to bed early. At least, earlier.

Monday, September 08, 2003

A number of things combined to signal the end of summer for me.
  • evenings have been appearing in our back year earlier and earlier - often before I'm done all my outdoor things for the day
  • my first season of triathlon competition is drawing to a close. The last race is this weekend, and today I was told by the race director that it was "not a competitive event."
  • homework and extra-curricular lessons now fill the cooler, darker evenings for the kids
  • our local outdoor pool is now drained and being prepared for hibernation
  • school has started for elementary and university students alike
  • the old farts swim team I belong to has started up for the season
  • today was a cool, cool day - much cooler than yesterday's 30+ heat and stuffiness
  • I felt that long pants would be appropriate today
I know that we are not done with lovely, warm afternoons, or outdoor exercise opportunities or barbecues or time sitting on my deck in a t-shirt and shorts, listening to people play in the park behind our house, ... but the essence of summer - the long evenings and carefree, vacation feel that come along with them have been folded up like lawn chairs and put into the shed for the rest of the year.

Not that I'm dreading the approaching fall and winter. I'm sure they'll hold some fun of their own. I just have a special place in my heart for all that summer means.

It sure was a great summer.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

If you have an extensive MSN buddy list - especially buddies with nicknames - sometimes you forget who is who. Apparently, so did someone else.

I was going through my web referral logs and noticed someone who had come (and viewed sixteen pages!) from a link from a page on Curious who was linking to me from MSN, I visited the referring page and found out it was ... me. My visitor had most likely found me by viewing my profile via the MSN buddies link.

When I first started using MSN Messenger, I was given the opportunity to create a personal information page. Being a straightforward, up-front kind of guy, I decided full disclosure was the best policy and so I created a totally ficticious identity and posted it to MSN member page.

I had forgotten I had done this, so seeing it (at first) surprised me. Reading through the profile, I recognized some of my handiwork. I was also surprised that I'd taken the time to fill in all this info. At the time, maybe I was into trolling for geriatric babes. Who knows?

All in all, I don't think it is a bad avatar. I hope I DO look like that when I'm 97.

I was disappointed that my visitor didn't leave a comment.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Work is more than just steady - it's backing up. I don't dare complain, though - no one else does and they're all just as busy. That's what happens when you're growing a company.

Exciting and tiring.
Just two weeks away from my daughters was enough to make me notice the difference in their maturity. McMonk's face is quickly changing from that of a little girl into a pre-teenager. Banana's mannerisms scream teenager. The things they talk about, the books they read, their actions, their looks ....

The Missus and I Planned to walk them up to school today, the first day of Grade Four and Six for McMonk and Banana (respectively). As soon as we left the back door, they ran ahead to meet their friends in the alleyway, leaving us to walk 15 metres behind the gaggle of girls. Almost oblivious of our presence, they headed straight into this first day routine that they'd been through before and knew well.

With nary a glance backwards. Sigh.

I am also noticing that they are very involved with friends, sports and other activities. They are gaining independence and growing into mature young women. I know that this is what is supposed to happen and seeing their social and personal development is a signal that we are doing a good job as a parents. That's the intellectual Sean talking.

The emotional Sean is saying, "I'm losing my playmates!" and that makes me more than a little sad.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Monday got busier and busier around my little bachelor pad.

First, I picked up the family at 10 am who came home and unloaded two weeks worth of laundry, souvenirs and pent-up energy. Then Banana and McMonk called their friends who promptly came over with their new puppy proceeded to play in the house and back yard, start craft projects and burn off the excited energy of seeing each other for the first time in a month. Amongst all this, my parents showed up for dinner with bags of fresh, yummy Taber corn.

Welcome back everybody, my life is crazy again.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

In honor of my last evening as a temproary bachelor, I am about to sit down in front of the TV and eat my dinner of weiners and beans right out of the pot.

At 9:15 pm. Hoo hah!
Recent evenings at work had me sampling a buddy's MP3 collection, which included some FooFighters. I'm rediscovering their music, thanks to a quick road trip to Montana this morning. I was heading out the door and needed something to listen to. I knew radio reception would be spotty as soon as I got 30 kms from Cowtown, so I loaded my MP3 player with the Foos' The Colour and The Shape album.

The CD has edgy yet well-thought-out and musically well-executed songs. The Foos have a hard, metal sound in some of their songs, but aren't afraid to throw some ballads with rich vocals and harmonies on the CD. Some of their songs (like Learning to Fly and Monkey Wrench) have seen some radio play, but they are a bit dark and heavy to be mainstream. Many of the songs have surprisingly upbeat or fun lyrics. The worst part about listening to their music was that I had to sit still while it was playing.

I first heard these guys back in my lifeguarding days in Edmonton. It was just what I needed to keep me awake for a long drive.

This is all to distract you from the bigger question, which is, "Why did Sean drive to Montana this morning?"

Friday, August 29, 2003

As my hedonistic days of temporary bachelorhood draw to a close, I have noticed a few things about myself.
  • I produce mostly dark laundry
  • two litres of milk a week is plenty
  • my grocery bill would be very, very low, as the temptation to 'grab a bite' while you are out and about is greater when it's just you having a meal
  • I should not be left in charge of houseplants, let alone pets
  • unless I (or somebody else) create a "To Do" list, I don't get much accomplished in my non-work life
  • I would be spending a lot of time at work if there was no dog or family waiting at home for me
  • I love having music around me - it creates a necessary auditory backdrop
  • chocolate chip cookies for breakfast is an idea that's not that far-fetched
I have enjoyed having some Sean time, but I'm also going to enjoy being back in the hubbub of family life on Monday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003


I like that. Jane, you make me laugh.
Heavy Blog Post Warning: If you don't like deep, introspective posts, better skip this one.

As I am rattling 'round in the house alone tonight, I have had some time to allow my mind to roam over questions that haven't seen much light so far. Little things in my house, objects and keepsakes, trigger some of the best ponderances.

My summer has been a very full one - full of learning, physical activity, work, friendship, family activities. My head is cloudy from physical exhaustion (post triathlon) and lack of sleep. Work has been occupying far too much of my time. Instead of catching up on my sleep, I'm allowing my mind to replay the past few months and think about those important to me.

Banana, my eleven-year-old daughter, is working on her individuality. She prides herself in being different than her friends and classmates. She has cut her hair quite short (as short as mine, almost); listens to "old fashioned" music (from the 50's - Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc.); shuns anything she deems as feminine; wants to try all sorts of sports; she even pushes herself to read well above her grade level (she's a third of the way through Roots right now). I've often wondered why she tries so fervently to be unique, but chalked it up to the teenage need to try and find one's own way.

Tonight, I glanced over at a birthday party favour that Banana had brought home. It is a printout of a digital picture of Banana and Addy, a schoolmate of hers. It was taken at Addy's tenth birthday party, shortly before she left with her family on a trip to South America. The picture sits on a little wooden easel on top of our piano and has a painting of Addy on the other side of the foam board to which it is mounted. Seeing this made me consider that perhaps this striving to to be unique could have been triggered by my praise of Addy in a blog posting I did a year ago. It's almost as if she is working to change her entire being just to be like someone that I have given public praise to.


Maybe that's putting too much weight on my influence, but I believe it could be part of the reason. The more that I consider this, the more I realize that the ones that I love work very hard to gain my respect and admiration. They sometimes do the things that they do to, for and around me partly, perhaps, to be loved back.

Double wow. If only they knew.

By saying "If only they knew," I am acknowledging that they are not getting that message from me. Stopping to think about this, makes me realize that I'm not always the best at handing back this phrase, in word and deed. To those out there who hold a special place in my heart (and you know who you are, parents, family, friends), I will work hard to return the message that you give me by wanting to be part of my life.


See what happens when you listen to sappy music?

Monday, August 25, 2003

4:30 hungries have hit hard and I haven't had anything to eat since 11:30 this morning. Digging around in my backpack has produced two chocolate heart-shaped candies in a plastic bag. The tag on the bag says, Happy Valentine's Day, Love Mom. I'm guessing that it was given to me this year, but I can't make any promises. Peeling back the aged foil a bit, I can see that the chocolate is as white as fresh bond paper.

Should I eat the chocolate hearts?

Yes - what's the worst that could happen?

No way! Are you nuts?

See what other people think.
I had a fabulous weekend at the Summerside Triathlon, going well under my goal of a 3 hour finish time. I crossed the line at 2:44:10.

I came back to work, all ready to share my joy with another triathlete and coworker who was also competing at a race this weekend. She was off at the Canadian Ironman Championships in Penticton, BC - a gruelling, 10+ hour event. I was surprised and saddened to find out that she crashed during the bike portion of her race and broke her tibula/fibula. She was sent to the Penticton hospital and will out of action for a while.

Poor kid.

Friday, August 22, 2003

"The flowers of yesterday, the fruit of today, and the seeds of tomorrow are one."

My apologies if you are the author of this pearl and I haven't credited you, but I don't remember where I read it. It's been rattling around in my brain for the past few days.


Bachelor Update, Day Five:

Managed to trade computer services for another home-cooked meal at Mom and Dad's place tonight. At this rate, I'll never get rid of the leftovers in the fridge.
I have a chance to do another triathlon this weekend. The call of the bicycle and lake bacteria are getting stronger and stronger, so off I go. I also want to redeem myself for the technical difficulties I encountered on the last race.

On the August long weekend, I did a race where I dropped one of my food bars, leaving me without fuel for the run part of the triathlon (a whole hour of a 3 1/2 hour race). I had one bar to eat on the bike, which helped tremendously. When the run came, I really, really needed more food (I had fresh water waiting for me after the bike ride). I fell back about fifty places during this torturous leg. It wasn't pretty.

This go-around, aside from letting my training slip (I'm calling it a taper), I am well-rested, healthy and rarin' to go. Nice weather is in the forecast and I will be back in my old stomping grounds - south Edmonton.


I picked up some new (to me) music today - the Sloans. I caught a snippet of a CD release party on the TV last night. The music sounded interesting, so I picked up a few used CDs of theirs. They are a guy-guitars-drums band with occasional trumpets and a few nice vocal harmonies thrown in. They pride themselves on playing their own brand of eclectic, "home-built" music. I sense shades of early "The Who" playfulness.

The two albums I bought (Smeared and One Chord to Another) have a few gems, although most are moderately-skilled versions of high-energy dancing/training tunes. A "greatest hits" collection might be worth waiting for, though, as the albums don't seem to have much coherency.
Exercising with old friends is good.

I hit the road (on road bikes) with Ron, friend I've known since my 'teens. Lots of reminiscing went on. It got to the point where Ron had to say, "Enough already with how long we've been out of high school. Is it traumatizing you to see me?"

Going out for a toot on the road bike was healthy thing and fun to do, both physically and mentally. It got me thinking about all the trouble I used to get him in - being escorted home by the police; smart-mouthing a group of rednecks and nearly getting beaten up outside a movie theatre; non-permanent bits of vandalism; breaking into and exploring the honeycomb of tunnels beneath our university; tearing around in the totally-inappropriately-named Purple Passion Pit ....

The bits of memory I most commonly associate with high school and university are of a totally different teenage life - being a quiet, low-key, unassuming youth. I was actually a bit of a deviant.

Who would of thunk it?

Thursday, August 21, 2003

I don't know what all my coworkers and childless friends think is so great about this life - all I end up doing is working when there's no one waiting for you at home.
Bachelor Update, Day Four:

The food I bought doesn't seem to dissappear as quickly as I expected. I keep forgetting to eat. I had a nap on the couch on Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Our new office is so close to my house that I was able to take a 45 minute lunch break, in which I went home and mowed my front lawn.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Bachelorhood, Day One:

I still have a healthy supply of clean dishes and clothes - things are looking good so far. I'm not sure the supply I've been provided with will last the whole two weeks, though. I'll probably be wearing hallowe'en costumes and eating off tupperware before the end of the month.

I admit that my first meal - lunch - was offered and shamelessly taken from relatives. Dinner, too. But, hey, I made my own breakfast, thank you very much. In fact, I had two bowls of Cheerios, they were so good.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Jeez, it sure got quiet over here all of a sudden.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Friday, August 15, 2003

Rickin, pickin, rassa-frassin, ....

Two hours and ten minutes into my hold time, the line is disconnected. My guess? They botched the connection and hung up on me. I was just sitting here - I didn't even touch the phone.

Grrrrrrrr ....
Is the massive power outage on the east coast causing you any grief?

I am sitting at my desk as I have been for the past hour and fifty-one minutes, an unseen shackle keeping me from venturing too far from my seat. What is this shackle? My position in the phone queue.

Due to the outage, the missus, Banana and McMonk had their summer holiday flight cancelled out from underneath them. I've been on hold, waiting to re-book their cancelled flights and get them on their way to Ontario. At least I think I'm on hold. There hasn't been any hold music or queue notification messages. Even some muzak would be nice to let me know I'm not on a dead circuit.

Air Canada's customer service is currently stressed to its limits, and it shows. The website, although pretty, hasn't been helpful at all other than to give the information that "all flights cancelled until we get our sh*t together". The phone lines were jammed this morning - we couldn't get through to as much as a recorded announcement after 15 minutes of calling and calling. So, we went out to the airport. Big mistake. 36 hours worth of cranky, sleep-deprived travelers being forced to stand in line. We joined the queue there just in case a flight opened up. After standing for 30 minutes, what do I see but a food services worker with a cart, making her way down the line handing out coffee, tea and soft drinks. "Ah, a glimmer of hope," I think to myself. "Air Canada is making an attempt to placate these poor, weary travelers."

When the woman reached our spot in the line, she meets my grateful glance and quips, "Just so you know, this isn't complementary from Air Canada. There's a charge. Do you still want something?"

Sigh. Too bad, Air Canada. You are blowing this one big time. You had a chance to shine during a crisis. You blew it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

For the past three weeks I've been complaining to anyone who'll listen about how stressed I have been about all the work I have to do at the Treehouse. Today was the culmination of one big project - an office move.

The main part of Veer outgrew our allotted space in the Treehouse and so we've moved to simpler digs. Getting all our stuff, and all our connections, out of the Treehouse has been no simple feat. As the infrastructure guy, it fell on my shoulders to orchestrate the event. I've been hiring, contracting, supervising, commiserating, wiring, lending, lifting, packing, waiting and pleading ... all around the other expected duties. My nervousness about the event has been building - would everything go well? Would there be any unplanned outages? Would I end up being fired over some major, forgotten detail that would leave the company unable to function?

Just between you, me and everyone with Internet access, I was freakin' out.

Things weren't going well in the first part of the move preparation. Step one of anything changing was the phone system. The phone company, a bunch of glad-handing, two-faced, blame-shirking morons, got the move date wrong. The phone system (which is only half of our company's revenue) was going to stay firmly put until three days after everything else had gone. Let me tell you, trying to get a phone company to change it's mind about something is no easy task, even if you are the customer. After twenty hours (I kid you not) of verbally jumping all over two shifts worth of emergency repair phone reps, I got my way. They would try to get it switched the day of our actual move. Our customers only noticed about twenty minutes of busy signal during our business hours.

The rest of the move went just fine. There was still a ton of work to do before the environment was perfect but things were within my control again. Patience and hard work would lead everything to be in order. As I toiled away this morning, I looked around at people coming in, sitting down at their new desks, adjusting things to be the way they wanted them. I had given them what they needed in order to be excellent at their jobs. That provided me with a sense of happiness and completeness. I realized that despite the stress that sometimes come with my job, I love what I do.

Hard work is great when it yields positive results.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Things Not To Do When Selling A Car:

Leave a bottle of touch-up paint from a collision repair shop in the glove box.

We were out looking at a replacement for our rusty, crusty old Ford Aerostar this weekend, as the Aerostar needs new brakes (and new struts, and new tires, and a new driver-side door, and electrical work, and and and ... ). We found a bottle of touch-up paint in one of the vehicles that we had previously been interested in. The salesmen looked quite surprised, took the bottle from us and promised to "check into it" and tell us what he could find out about the vehicle's history from the previous owner. He *promised* to get back to us.

Unsurprisingly, when we called the next business day, our salesmen, 'Red' (a trust-inspiring nickname if I ever heard one), the van (which had been in two minor accidents) had been sold to someone else, so the vehicle's history was really moot, now wasn't it?

I'm sure he disclosed this fact to it's new owner and didn't really throw the touch-up paint in the garbage as soon as we were out of sight.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

I love it when I get fan mail. Problem is that it's usually not meant for me, but one of the other Sean Collins wannabes out there on the Internet. I mean, really. Look at those eyebrows. Is that sexy?

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Standin' at the crossroads ...

Down one path lay fame, fortune, full time employment, and career advancement. Down the other, poverty, career stagnation, possible servitude and continued free time.

They want me to work full time at The Treehouse. Right now, I'm working 3 1/2 days and lovin' the extra stuff I get to do. They need more of me, or someone like me. It could be me. I can do all the stuff they need me to do. Do I want it to be me?

If I choose not to do the work, they'll probably hire someone to do the other stuff that needs to be done and manage me, suddenly turning me into a flunky.

Should I sell my soul to the company store, giving up my outside life, hoping that it leads to better things, or do I drop into the back seat and let someone else take the reins?

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

The tortured mind is the birthplace of all inspiring art.

Wondering how I came to this conclusion? Consider this - people that claim that they aren't artistically gifted are the same ones who have no problems getting a restful sleep every night.

Monday, August 04, 2003

A little bit of quiet time allows for self reflection. This weekend during my recovery from a triathlon, I found myself suddenly jealous of a dear friend and training buddy. She had placed better in her category than I had. She, being the self-effacing person that she is, didn't even think to check her placement. Like me, she judged her race by times she had pre-determined and by how she felt during the race (tactical and preparation notes that she could work on next time). When her name was called at the awards ceremony, she was as surprised as we were.

I was thrilled for her when I heard, but as the afternoon wore on, I began to recognize my jealousy at her accomplishment - especially because of the attention and notoriety that it brought upon her within our group and people that she knew at the race. I began wishing that I had placed at least as well as her. After all, I had been training with her and actually had a better time than her overall. The fact that we are in different age categories (and gender categories) slipped by me at the time. Also escaping me was the amount of extra training that she does on her own and with others, and the intensity she trains at. Nevermind that she is also has the gift of being a natural athlete, succeeding at more than two handfuls of sports she's tried.

That afternoon I found myself being jealous of others, too (for different reasons, of course but the taste it left in my mouth was just as bitter). I know jealousy isn't becoming. It's an emotion that I want to control, perhaps even banish, from my consciousness. As afternoon eclipsed into evening, I was able to shake off the longing for the limelight and feel some genuine joy at her success. I hope I didn't come across as a party poop and wreck her moment - she's a coach and a teacher and as such, has to step back into the wings regularly as her proteges shine. She's good at dealing with others achievements with grace. I wish I was.

I'll work on it.

The more I think about it, the more I think that competitiveness stems from the basic emotion of jealousy. I don't know if competitiveness is something that I want to foster in myself because of that.
I finished the triathlon yesterday. Ouch.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

This morning, a client called me in, quite distraught over the fact that she wrecked the antenna of her laptop's wireless network card. Yes, it was irrepairable. The antenna had been anchored to the add-on card itself, making the card useless. "I'm just sick about doing this," she said.

I told her, "This is only a hundred dollar card. Be sick when you lose a whole week of typing." She really needs to get her priorities straight.

I found this in front of McMonk's closed door a few evenings ago.

Sheesh, forget to do the exchange just once and the reminders get less and less subtle.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Wanna match your knowledge of the universe against somebody's weekend project? How 'bout a game of 20 Questions against a formidable opponent? I don't know why I am amazed that I didn't win, but I am. Whenever the computer responded with a question that narrowed right in on my object, it got spooky. I tried a car tire and a suspension bridge already. The best I was able to do was to get the computer to take 19 guesses (and that's with 3 contradictions to common knowledge, according to it's records).

Good luck - you'll need it.

If you need any more help wasting time, just let me know.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

What's that rumbling noise off in the distance? The smell of ozone in the air? The change in wind direction and the ticklish raising of the hairs along my spine, quickly travelling up to the base of my skull?

Oh, that's right ... my in-laws are coming. And not just a few - the whole clan. Must be a wedding or something.

Monday, July 28, 2003

My harried weekend being over, I have returned to work to get some much-needed psychological rest. With my race just a week away, I've promised myself some treats this week. Namely:
  • to be in bed by 10:30 pm every night (which I am loving, by the way)
  • to continue to drink lots of water all day
  • medium-sized workouts with fast intervals and plenty o' rest in between repetitions
  • a back and leg massage, which I just returned from (heavenly!)
I'm feeling good already, including a renewed sense of playfulness and energy with which to do so. As you might expect, the urge will only get worse as the week gains momentum. I hope I can keep a lid on it until Sunday.
McMonk is getting good at pushing buttons - specifically, her sister's.

Friday, July 25, 2003

My need to have a day off, totally free of responsibilities and obligations, is becoming more and more urgent.

What is keeping me so busy, you might ask. How about:
  • plans for an office move at The Treehouse
  • regular, ongoing Treehouse maintenance, along with the "fix-this-cause-doesn't-work-like-it-used-to" kind of stuff
  • Treehouse plan-for-the-future-or-you'll-get-bit-in-the-gluteals-real-soon kind of stuff
  • ferrying kids to and fro
  • training for the triathlon on August 3rd (nine days away - yikes!)
  • work, work and more work
  • making plans for an up-coming trip to Greece, where Jenn will be running a marathon
  • regular housekeeping stuff
  • worry about our dog who's getting old and having some real problems keeping food down. I fear the time may be near ....
  • Geek and Co. work, which seems to suddenly have risen from the dead
  • freaking out about the triathlon because I want to do well and the distances are looming larger
  • efforts to be a good dad and husband, spending just a little time hanging out with my family
I sense an upcoming lull in the hoopla towards the end of August.

God, please give me the wisdom and presence of mind not to fill up my own calendar during that time.

Thank you.

Monday, July 21, 2003

I now have a business contact called Mr. Phelps. Good thing I have dark sunglasses.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

If you were disappointed by your first try at this link, go have a look now. It's fixed.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

The family and I floated down the Bow River in an inflatable boat today for the first time. The weather cooperated and treated us with sunshine. We saw the undersides of all the bridges on the west side of town. There were more people than I expected along the river banks, enjoying the view and the water. The water was pleasantly cool on my sandalled feet as they hung over the bow. A family of ducks followed us while Banana and McMonk ate the cheese scones we brought with us, proving that ducks have an extremely good sense of smell.

McMonk was especially photogenic with her big grin and floppy, full-brimmed hat and there I was, cameraless.

Aw, nuts.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Exercise and work, exercise and work. My workouts seem to be coming in big lumps rather than the previously short, chewable portions. The BIG triathlon is two and a half weeks away. I hope I'm ready. I wish I had done more, or had time to do more.

Where the heck did this competitive drive come from? I thought I was training merely to keep a general level of fitness. I'm even thinking about half-Iron Man and Iron Man distances for next year. What the heck?

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Monday, July 14, 2003

Famous People Players meets the Matrix? It'll all make sense when you watch the video. It's too good not to share.

Thanks to Cacomixl for the link.

NOTE: I've fixed this link. Go have a look now.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Today I listened to a CD by John Tesh and I am not ashamed.

Well, maybe a little.
We came home from the family picnic to discover we'd had a bit of bad luck. A windstorm had come up and caught the umbrella of our new deck furniture and pulled the table over, smashing the glass-top table it was inserted into and leaving little kernels of glass and pieces of the table frame all over the deck.

Although it was a bummer to come home to this, I guess I'd prefer my bad luck to manifest itself in small doses.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Family reunions are not only a chance to visit long lost leaves on the family tree; they are also a good benchmark of how far way you've branched. I spent the day at a gathering of relatives from my maternal side of the tree. To call it a reunion is a stretch (as the missus keeps reminding me) - it's held every year. The tradition started long before I was born. It was a gathering of my maternal grandfather's siblings, of which there were eleven. Back in the sixties, they would get together for a camping weekend, hold a cribbage tournament, drink too much, play a round of golf, have a campfire and give out goofy prizes and jokingly insult each other, having a generally good time. With the passage of time and most of the brothers and sisters, it has morphed into this annual gathering of the cousins.

The duties of hosting the event are passed around, too. It has become an Alberta thing, held somewhere in the southern half of my home province (thank goodness). Prior to the event, making your way there (never mind organizing it) seems very onerous and obligatory. Once I find myself at the event, I end up relaxing and just hanging out, letting my kids run free with the others there.

Every year I find myself at a total loss for names, although I vaguely recall asking the face in front of me for their name last time we saw each other, too. Faces that seem most familiar are ones that haven't changed much since my childhood, when we would go for a whole weekend, not the half day it now occupies. The bratty boy cousins and the decidedly cute girl cousins (and the homely ones, too) have all grown to their full size, had a few kids, put on some weight and begun to droop into middle age. Some of their life stories read like bad daytime soap operas: failed marriages, brushes with drug or alchohol abuse, children out of wedlock, bad luck with illness or careers, ... all these details are passed on quietly between family members, out of earshot of the affected party. These shortcomings or afflictions are somehow accepted when we get together, because we are family and family is about supporting and accepting who each of the members are. It's strange that we can do that with people we see once every few years, but somehow, we can and we do.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Don't buy yourself any snacks. There may be something waiting for you when you get to work tomorrow.
For some native Calgarians, loathing the Stampede is just what they do. It's easy to hate, as it is a ten-day-long drunken party that clogs our city with tourists, litters offices and buildings with fake western paraphernalia, causes otherwise sane people to dress in ill-fitting pseudo western wear and go begging for breakfast in mile-long free pancake lineups. And don't even get me started on all the crummy country music that seems to permiate every open space downtown. I've even been known to poopoo the whole, "pretend to be a cowboy" thing.

So what did I do today? I took most of the day off to take my family down to the Stampede grounds ... and I don't regret doing it. It was something that the kids looked forward to ever since I mentioned to them that we might go. There's a lot of things that do rub me the wrong way about attending the midway and exhibition:
  • the horrendous cost of admission and the midway rides themselves
  • the mass of people with little respect for your personal space
  • the lowlifes that seem to ooze out of nowhere to hang out at the fair grounds
  • the nutritionless, overpriced food they serve
  • the half-hour waits for a 3 or 4 minute ride that is questionably entertaining
  • the con artists and scammers in the crowds (we were approached three times by one guy, begging for money because he was supposedly deaf and mute)
  • the constant pressure to spend, spend, consume, then spend some more

I tell you, I wasn't looking forward to the day at all. Then I realized that my attitude could end up bringing the whole group of us down. I thought back to my own experiences, when my parents took me to Edmonton's local fair and all I remember was having a great time. I decided that Banana and McMonk would probably have the same experience and I had the choice of (mentally) fighting against being there, or resolve myself to the fact that yes, I was going to be there all day and yes, I was gong to part with more cash than I wanted to. Once I came to grip with those to unavoidable facts, my zen-like self took over and I was able to enjoy the afternoon and evening.

We went into rides like the House of Mirrors that I've been through dozens of times (or so it seemed) before; I bought just about any type of snack that the girls were interested in (cotton candy, hot dogs, corn dogs, fries and gravy, popcorn, mini donuts, fudge); we were educated in what slutty teenage girls wear these days (and believe me, there was thousands of rounded, little pot bellies hanging over low-rider jeans at the fairgrounds); them we did the goofy rides like the Mark I roller coaster and the Giant Swings; we waited in line (and chatted) for 30 minutes at a time; we took in the surprisingly-entertaining SuperDogs show; we saw some crowd surfing at the Coca-Cola stage; we stayed late, freezing in our shorts and light jackets, to watch the daily finale of fireworks as it lit up the sky and echoed through the fairgrounds; we took the train home with the thousands of others who stayed right until the end of the show.

We are all exhausted - the girls were asleep (not just in bed) within 10 minutes of being home. That included a stop in the bathroom to brush their teeth. I asked McMonk what kind of a day she had, and she responded that it was a "fun" day, she clarified by telling me it was a really, extra-fun day.

That's what I needed to hear. I'm sure that ten years from now, she'll only remember two things - that she spent a whole day at the Stampede when she was nine, and that it was an extra-fun day.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Calgary Weekend Forecast

Fine, thanks. How's your weekend looking?

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance,
He knows that something somewhere has to break.
Here's what I'd do:
  • start by sleeping for a whole day
  • watch daytime TV and order pizza in for lunch (I feel so opulent when I do that) for two days
  • take another two days and hang out at a big bookstore, browsing through all the books I'd been to cheap or embarrassed to buy
  • tune up my bike
  • go to an early matinee then sneak into another show after the one I paid for was over. I'd do that as many times in one day as I could.
  • lure my training buddies out for some bike and pool time
  • take a week and hang out at the hostels along Highway 93
  • buzz over to the UK and look up some old friends
  • buy a nice touring bike and zip around southern Ireland for two weeks in the summertime
  • shave my head to see what it looked like
  • put an underground sprinkler system in around my house
  • update the template I use for this blog
  • learn to play at least ten new songs reasonably well on the guitar, then go busking for a day or two
  • go to a skydive camp in Arizona and spend a week jumping every day, concentrating on Relative Work
  • head for a warm beach where I could work on my sandcastle-making skills
  • go to Vegas and finally see that Blue Man show
  • take a day and test drive vehicles
That's it for right now. Where's your list?

Friday, July 04, 2003

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Too late for Canada Day, but this quiz should amuse, nonetheless.
I thought we were nuts.

Last week, we were at a last-day-of-school gathering for Banana and McMonk. We were talking to one of the other parents that lived on our street and lamenting the fact that none of the kids spontaneously went out to play. We all remembered (correctly or not) from our youth that we went out to play after dinner, usually giving our parents no idea where we were going and with whom we were playing. We agreed that we tended to coddle our children, overprotecting them from the "scary" world the media had brought to our attention.

We also bemoaned the fact that we knew few of our neighbors because, well, we just didn't do things as a community any more. It was, "lessons here" and "practice there", constantly driving away from the community that we had all wanted to be in so much.

"Somebody really should organize a block party. Canada Day is coming up. Wouldn't it be great to, say, block off the alleyway and have everyone get together for a BBQ or something?" says the other parent.

Yeah, I thought to myself. We really should do that.

So, that evening (about a week ago), Jenn and I went home created a poster with the details of a Canada Day Block Party, to be hosted in my back yard. We said it was a bring-your-own-thing-to-BBQ, bring-your-own-chair, bring-a-dessert-or-salad affair. The party was to start at 4:30 pm and go until dark. We hand delivered the poster to 18 houses in the neighborhood and then went home, self-satisfied with the fact that we had done our part for community building. In the morning, Jenn and I asked each other, "What have we done?" We had invited the WHOLE neighborhood over - new families, single people, senior citizens, elementary- and teen-aged kids, ... a pretty diverse group. How were we going to entertain these people?

Well, we didn't have any replies yet. Maybe, everyone would be out of town and no one would come.


We got replies from 16 of the 18 families, and one reply from the neighbor of the farthest-away person we invited asking (very sheepishly) if she and her family could crash the party. We said yes.

We kept track of who and how many were coming, then two days prior, we began to prepare. Prepare and fret. Did we have enough pop for the kids AND for mix? Would there be enough room on the BBQs (we had two)? Would the kids get bored? Could we keep the party interesting for the widely age-diverse group? We bought napkins, paper plates, soft drinks and propane. We set up some background music on a portable stereo, hauled out all the fun kidstuff we had (hammock, swing chair, sidewalk chalk, scooters, soccer ball and other stuff), borrowed a BBQ and set out a few extra tables. A garbage can and recycle bin for cans were set out, then we were ready.


Now that it's all over, I can say that the party was a resounding success. Everyone brought lots of extra salads and desserts. The kids do what kids do when they are in a large group - they took care of themselves. The big ones looked after the little ones instinctively and everyone got along well enough. People found others of interest to talk to and everyone mingled nicely. The BBQ's were turned on an hour after the party started and everyone took turns cooking their own family's dinner. We got to meet many neighbors from up that street that had been there as long as we had, but had never made the effort (or had the effort made towards them) to meet. We got to see their kids play with our kids and be absolutely no trouble. We got to see some of the patriarchs of the neighborhood look on approvingly as we took on the role of community leaders.

It felt very nice. I'd encourage you, next summer holiday (maybe the August holiday?) to take the initiative and throw together a party.

And don't forget to invite me.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Everyone has given some thought to the classic fantasy, "What would you do if you were given a million dollars?" I have a different twist on this.

Imagine that you have just been given a gift of one hundred days. During this time, you can do anything you want, with the emphasis being on DO. You have no relationship, family, work or day-to-day responsibilities to worry about. Everything has been taken care of for you. No laundry, no shopping, no food preparation, no job, no helping your significant other, ... nothing.

By the way, all the money you have for this one hundred days of freedom is $20,000 (Canadian). What would you do with your time?

Think carefully, then use the comments link (anonymously if you want) on this post to let me know.

Monday, June 30, 2003

I'm drinking a lot more beer lately.

It's beginning to worry me. I'm going to have to back off a bit.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Hostelling is a total blast. The laid-back attitude softens your step as you walk down the gravel pathway towards the cabins, then permeates the soles of your feet and envelops your whole body. You just can't help but feel relaxed and sociable once you get there. We stayed at Rampart's Creek Hostel, located at the foot of a mountain and right alongside (you guessed it) Ramaprt's Creek. The only electricity is supplied by solar panels and a generator that runs *maybe* once a day. The 'fridge is propane run, as are the lights in the dorms and common room/kitchen. There is very little to do but wind down from whatever you were doing before you got there.

The creek is freezing cold (it's just a kilometre or so from the glacier-fed lake where it originates) but works nicely to cool you down when you come out of the wood-fired sauna. Banana and McMonk and I had a great time. There was even a hostel cat that allowed itself to be picked up and carried around by McMonk. Being from a dog lover's household, that poor kid is just starved for cat time.

Friday, June 27, 2003

The kids and I are off to a hostel for the weekend. Cooking s'mores, a campfire, hiking and playing in the creek.

Whoo hoo!
I love being busy, but this is just ridiculous.

By the way, James Brown says, "Hey!".

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Today is the last day of school for Banana and McMonk. Both of their teachers were very pleased, as were the missus and I. At the risk of sounding like a boastful parent, them kids are clever.

We celebrated by having dinner at McDonalds and taking in a lawnchair theatre at Bowness Park. Instead of a play, it was a cheesy children's singer and a half-baked magician. It was nice to sit and sing campfire songs with the kids (doing the actions, too) but I think they need some entertainment with a bit more fibre.

How about the Calgary Folk Fest?

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Want to get a reaction out of me?

Just act all helpless and wimpy when I think you're capable, then watch me boil.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Wow. Iomega recently came out with a 750 meg ZIP drive and cartridge. That's about the same as a writeable CD, at only 80 to 90 times the cost for the media (ZIP cartridge vs. blank CD).

Nice try, guys. You're just 13 years too late.
I came, I saw, I rode the track. And it was good. And I called it, "Sean's New Summer Place to Get Sweaty."

Monday, June 23, 2003

Mmmmm, Miles Davis music while I'm on hold.

Nope, I don't mind waiting.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

The first reading of the new J.K. Rowling book took place this evening. Fifteen pages read aloud, seven hundren and fifty-one to go.

Pass the throat lozenges.
Well, the weird dreams are back. Nightmares, you might even call them. This last one happens in the dark of night. My present neighbor, the Serial Talker, and my dad (who is, in the dream, living on the other side of me) are trying to stop some addition that I am building on my house. They are quoting some obscure law that prevents me from completing what I have already built. I am being ordered to tear down the addition, but I refuse to. I feel myself being overwhelmed by a sense of dread for not following their wishes.

Next, I am traveling in an old-fashioned (circa 1920's) subway car, with wooden seats, brass handrails and poles, and a general feel of good upkeep, as the car travels down a flooded subway tunnel. The driver's compartment is open and an aged Danny Glover is piloting the car. He seems manically happy and is singing some sort of Baptist-revival type song. I'm concerned that he is driving at an unsafe speed and is endangering us (there are suddenly more people aboard the train), but he totally ignores any attempt to communicate with him about this concern. I know he can hear me as I have physical contact with him and can get responses to other questions. I just can't get him to slow down or drive rationally.

Then the dog woke me up to be let out for a pee.

Friday, June 20, 2003

I'm feeling seperated from the rest of my work buddies these days. Driving back and forth betwen the two offices is taking its toll on me. I don't feel plugged into what's going on anymore.

It totally sucks.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Track cycling, you say?

Monday nights at 6:30 pm and Saturday mornings at 9:30 am?

All outdoors, at a reasonable price, including track bike rental?

Convieniently timed as to not interrupt the family schedule?

What could be better?

New cycling shoes, you say?

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

... and this one is for all the girls I've loved before.

Ooooo! New blogger interface!

It sure doesn't take much to excite me.