Thursday, January 30, 2003

You would think, after all these years and many times of doing it, that I would learn.

After a killer sprint workout (swim team) last night, I was up until 2 am for yet another late night. It was a labour of love, though, spent using iMovie on my G4. And again, I'm bagged at work but hiding it well. I am working on (or rather, hobbying at) a video of Banana's ringette team. It's a montage of 3 to 5 second clips of team at practice, at tournaments and goofing around in the lobby and dressing room. I'm setting all these to the song "Allstar" by Smash Mouth. I am looking forward to finishing it and then presenting each of the coaches with a copy. Watch for a quicktime version of it over in the Movies isle.

The best way (for me) to keep myself going when I'm tired is to keep physically active. There's been plenty of that today - shelves to build, mouse trays to install, printers to move, cables to pull ... that sort of stuff. I think I am running out of gas, though. I'll be glad to see my pillow tonight.

I hope I have the common sense to go to bed tonight at a decent hour.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Big configuration changes are happening today. I am creating and moving huge, immovable structures. I am altering the very path that our company and our customers take. Oh, what it's doing to my ego ...

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

When I was booking a flight on the Air Canada website (which was relatively easy, considering how hard travel agents make it sound), I noticed that you can order different kinds of in-flight meals. They included:
  • Asian Vegetarian meal
  • Bland/Ulcer meal
  • Child meal
  • Diabetic meal
  • Fruit platter
  • Gluten free meal
  • Hindu non-vegetarian meal
  • Kosher meal
  • Low calorie meal
  • Low cholesterol meal
  • Low salt meal
  • Muslim vegetarian meal
  • Non-lactose meal
  • Oriental meal
  • Regular meal
  • Vegetarian (lacto-ovo) meal
  • Vegetarian meal
Wouldn't it to be cheaper and easier to put a big disclaimer button on the website that everyone has to click to continue that says,


Monday, January 27, 2003

Can you say, "Terabytes"? I can. Not terabyte, but terabyteS.

Hoo hah!
I have a lovely, lovely view out of my office window. I have to remember to lift my head every once in a while to enjoy it.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

By the way, dad's out of the hospital and back to being his crochety, incorrigible old self.
Looking back at the remnants of Banana's eleventh birthday celebration, I must say, Jenn and I know how to run a party.

We've stuck to a rule that limits the number of partygoers to the number of years of age for the guest of honor. Although any of you that are good at arithmetic think you can see the flaw in my logic, you don't realize that I expect payback on my eightieth birthday. Banana's plan was to just have her buddies over and "play". From past experiences, we know this to mean, "I like having people over as company, but after twenty minutes of having friends around, I will become bored and will curl up with a comic book in a quiet corner, expecting my guests to entertain themselves or, better yet, my parents to entertain them."

Jenn and I were ready for this. We approached the get-together much the way we plan out our daughters' lives - with the mantra no idle time means no trouble. First stop was the local pizza parlour. The proprietor knows me at the mere sound of my voice on the telephone and greets me with a thickly-Iranian accented, "Ooooh, Sean, how aaaarrre you?" Yad runs the cleanest pizza shop I've ever seen, hands down. As far as taste goes, the pizza is run-of-the-mill, but I have confidence that when I'm biting into a black olive that it has never been someplace food shouldn't be. That's worth a lot.

I had arranged with Yad for the girls to come behind the counter and put toppings on their own pizzas. They had great amounts of fun with this as none of them had (as of yet) worked in the food industry, so the novelty was still there. After spreading sauce and sprinkling cheese (Yad was distraught that not a single one of them wanted peppers, onions or anything of the sort on their pie), we did the short walk back to the house where they headed downstairs to play with Gearbox and add to a list of song titles that they were all asked to bring.

The invitiation told them to each think of two songs (artist and title, please) that would be good party music. When we returned from the pizza place, we sat down at a computer with Limewire and a CD burner and created an audio takehome goodie bag. We whipped up some quick labels and got things downloading and burning while we got started on a suspenseful movie. I can think of nothing better to work up an appetite than to have a few good screams as the shadow of some alien passes over the back of Mel Gibson or a three-clawed hand suddenly pops out from under a door.

We created a much-needed intermission from the terror when the pizzas arrived. Gobble, gobble, then back downstairs for more scares. After all the excitement, it was ice cream cake and gift opening. Next thing we knew, parents were here to claim their daughters. They all took home a CD with a few songs from everyone including ones that they helped pick out (which they thought was very cool), the evening was relatively inexpensive (pizza and a movie rental) and there was never a dull moment.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Someday, I want to be one of my own kids.
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it over and over, until they realize the errors of their ways.

The same thing goes for learning a new browser interface. I just lost a great blog entry.


Thursday, January 23, 2003

George Carlin is coming to town today, and I'm thinking about going to buy some scalped tickets.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

My dad was visited by the Heart Attack Fairy on the weekend. She came to remind him that bacon, eggs, maple walnut ice cream and a light exercise schedule aren't good for the arteries. She just gave him a gentle touch this weekend, enough to make him tight in the chest and to make his arm go cold for about twenty minutes. The next day (under his own direction) he went to the clinic to get checked out. The result was a trip to the hospital where he has been for the past three days, hooked up to some really cool technology and subjected to an angioplasty. I hope he takes this notification seriously.

Last night, prior to the angiogram (where they put dye into your bloodstream to see where and how severe the blockages are), I think my dad got a taste of his own impending mortality. Seeing him sense his put me in touch with mine, too. That, combined with the melancholy I've been experiencing lately had me carefully going over where I am in life and my level of satisfaction with the choices I've made. I wonder if he is doing the same.

As my dad sees his amount of life become more and more finite, I think that he is trying to justify his life and the decisions that he made in it. To make it even harder for him, he is from a generation where men don't talk about such feelings. I've always been a sensitive and empathetic soul - he is aware of this but because of the way he has been taught to deal with his own emotions, I don't think he knows how to connect with me. He seems very concerned with making sure that I am doing OK. I want him to know that I'm happy with the person that I've become and the lot that life has presented me with. A parent's existence seems to be aimed at making sure that their children are happy and they have what they need.

I have what I need and I'm making the best of things, as we all do.

Monday, January 20, 2003

My goodness. No wonder the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra is filing for bankruptcy protection - have you seen what TV has to offer these days?The superiority of the Western way of life is clearly demonstrated to the world in such nationally-aired, prime-time, patriotism-inducing offerings such as these. Check out this quote from a recent Fear Factor winner:
    I started (by drinking) the glasses of (liquefied) liver. I thought those would be the toughest so I wanted to go ahead and knock some of that out. It got a little tough at the end just because my stomach was starting to get filled up and the texture just started to get real thick and more difficult for me to get down. Then I moved on to the eggs and I ate both of the eggs and I think I started to gag a little bit. It wasn't just the eggs, it was just already having the liver and then the eggs on top of that.
Any parent who's ever fed their child strained vegetables can appreciate the entertainment value inherent in shows like this.

And to think I've been wasting time exercising, playing with my kids and going to classes when I could have been watching the telly.
Mary-Lou came and swam in my lane tonight. I think she wants me. I know it's my love handles that drive all the ladies wild.

I'll have to start waving my wedding ring in her face. You can't be too subtle with the young cute ones.
Hey! That's my old server room! A featured and celebrated spot on the Quantum website! Look how neatly those cables are routed. Jeez, I'm so proud I could just bust.

Oh, and there's Rich, too.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Banana's ringette team won the gold medal in their age category of the Esso Golden Ring Tournament. Now we'll have to build an addition onto the house for her ego.

Golden Ring Tourney LogoIt has been interesting, almost unnerving, watching my mildest, most introspective daughter become a competent player in a sport I thought was reserved for bullies and brutes. I didn't think she had it in her. More accurately, I never, ever pictured myself sitting on a cold concrete arena bleacher at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning amongst a group of (I thought) belligerent, vicariously-living parents, but here I am. This goes to show you that your own children have the ability to surprise you with their interests and talents.

The other parents aren't as bad as I imagined (or was it remembered?). They are similar to me, in semi-professional and professional careers, and are (for the most part) interesting types. One parent is working on his masters in Education. Another is the office operations manager for a multi-national law firm. Most of the other parents and I have more in common than some of the snooty moms and dads that I encountered during Banana and McMonk's days with a local dance company. In that sport, the kids aren't nearly as competitive as the parents. Yikes.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

My Mac is home. we're a multi-operating system family again. (sigh)


I was quite impressed at the last parent teacher interview by Banana. She had made a HyperCard stack of information on the Canadian provinces, complete with hyperlinks, sound annotation and audio clips. Macs really are superior to PCs for audio/visual stiff.
A very strange thing happened today - I was at the Sony Store and I couldn't find a single new thing that I needed. I could find models that I didn't have and variations on themes (projection screens instead of picture tube television), but no new technologies.

How dissappointing.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

I just don't remember it being this complicated.

This evening I attended a parents' informational meeting for a four-day outdoor camp. It is offered through the school and will run from March 10th to the 14th (Monday to Thursday), meaning the kids get to be there instead of going to school. They bring sleeping bags and enough clothes for four days and it's a big sleepover get-together. Banana insisted we go to the meeting so that she had a chance at attending the camp. The fact that there had to be a meeting should have been my first clue that something was up.

The session started innocently enough. A handout was distributed with details of the camp – location and dates, what to bring, first aid consent form - the usual stuff. They showed slides of the facilities, which looked like camps I remembered from my youth. A row of small sleeping cabins, one large common house / dining hall, playgrounds, playgrounds, all surrounded by woods (with a brook running through the woods, no doubt). I’m sure the woods were riddled with pathways, marshy spots, fallen trees and bugs and frogs. The camp combines theoretical studies (physics, biology, mathematics, social studies ) and puts them into practical application (levers out of fallen trees, using shadows to calculate tree height, types of native bugs and plants, first nations traditions, etc.). In short, a child's paradise.

Then the parental stupidness and overprotectiveness started. What follows are actual questions from parents of ten- and eleven-year-old children. I couldn't believe my ears. They range from slightly paranoid to wildly overprotective.
  • "If my child is a fussy eater, am I allowed to send extra food along with them?"
  • "My child likes to snack during the day. Can they bring extra treats in their bag and keep them in their sleeping quarters?"
  • "What kind of security do you have at the camp after hours?"
  • "Are you peanut free?"
  • "Are children allowed to call home if they are homesick?"
  • "Can I send bottled water for my child to drink?"
  • "What sort of food will be served to the children?
  • "Do you perform (police) background checks on all your staff?"
  • "The description of the activities show most of the day will be spent outside. What specific activities do you have planned for the children?"
  • What activities do you have for children that don’t fall asleep at 9:30 pm (the 'lights out' time)?"
  • "How do you wake the children up in the morning?"
As the questions got dumber and dumber, it was all I could do to keep myself from running up and giving the offender a good shake and asking them, "Don't you remember being a kid?". The camp counselor that had come to present had undoubtedly heard all these questions before and answered them in a polite and patient fashion. He even stated what I thought was a given - no electronic gadgets allowed. "Of course not," I thought to myself, "it's a camp." Still, there were some surprised looks for other parents.

It becomes more and more obvious why the youth of today appear coddled and blatantly shirk any shred of self-responsibility. It's not the kids, it's the way the parents raise them.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Stayin' alive, stayin' alive,
ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin' ... what?

Oh. Never mind.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Speaking of watching network reruns on DVD, Jenn and I have been looking for a replacement for our one, small embarrassing dip into the kitschy world of limited-run TV series. We enjoyed watching the last two of these, but seeing as CBS has not given us another race to watch yet, we've strayed onto a delicious comedy - Sex and the City.

If you haven't heard of this series, it's not as bad as you might think - and it is. The show focuses on a single, thirty-something New York Times columnist who, along with her three single female friends, explores relationships in their self-absorbed, post-yuppie American lives. Carrie, the main character, documents what she discovers with regards to her friends' and her own experiences, using snippets of text of the column to narrate the 1/2 hour show. What drew me to watch and episode was I had heard that the show had won awards for being witty, poignant and entertaining, so I bought the first season on DVD. Jenn and I recently finished the second season.

The content is definitely steamy and adult-oriented, but it explores with all sorts of relationship quirks. The standard ones - homosexuality, frigidity, sexual stamina, fidelity, size of private parts - are all dealt with. They even explore and discuss the weird stuff too with the various characters they encounter and somehow got away with having you follow and accept that they could, conceivably, end up doing and dealing with all the craziness they encounter.

We find it terribly funny and entertaining.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Sean's new desktop goodieThe jury is still out on the new LCD that is gracing my desk these days. I am using it through a KVM switch (something that allows me to attach several computers to one keyboard, video display (monitor) and mouse) and the signal seems to be a bit blurry. I noticed this with my monitor, but to a lesser extent.

The whole reason behind the purchase was ... well, I don't have a good reason. I was just lusting after one for a long time, went out to buy one for work and came back with two.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

The more time I spend with my father-in-law, the more I appreciate his sensible and pragmatic approach to life. He is now eighty years old and has lived what I consider to be a full life. He has raised eight kids, housed many more (exchange students, grandchildren from the four corners of the earth, second-time-back children), been wildly successful, gone broke more than once, traveled to five of the seven continents and watched a fair amount of the History Channel. He's prejudiced and bigoted, but not to any extent that common sense wouldn't intervene if necessary.

All in all, he's a person who's lived an interesting life.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

My G4 is soon to be on its way. I'll be a Mac owner again. Oh my.
Unseasonably warm weather around here has me thinking on cycling to work.

In January, of all times.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

"Sometimes Larry sees his future laid out with terrifying clarity. An endless struggle to remember what he already knows."

- Carol Shields, in Larry's Party

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Run, then visit and run, then drink and run, then drink and go home. New Year's Eve can be a busy time when you're trying to fill it with lots of events.

Part of the evening was spent in the company of the "running" community at the annual Resolution Run. I noticed many of the runners knew each other and obviously spent lots of time getting to know each other.

One woman in particular caught my attention and made me ponder. She was a woman in her late forties, with expensive running gear on, a very hip and modern hairstyle and funky glasses - the signs of someone who had both the time and money to take good care of herself. It occurred to me (and was confirmed by Jenn later) that most of these people were childless. Thinking of how my life was filled with kid-related duties, I wondered what their daily routines must be like. As Banana was with us (her first 8 km run, I'll proudly have you know) I was feeling very fatherish at the time. I found myself wondering what my life would have been like if I had not ventured into fatherdom.

More and more in our society, I feel like a minority by being a father. The pros of having children (unconditional love, personal vanity in wanting proteges, societal pressure) are evenly matched against the cons (lack of time, expenses, pressure to succeed in life). It seems that we are biologically set up to find a mate and have offspring. I'm curious why couples choose NOT to have children.

They may be curious to know why I had them.
State of the Union:
It's a new year, so I'd like to take stock of how things are.
Things I'm happy with:
  • my profession
  • how my children are developing into adults
  • the amount of reading I've been doing lately
  • my progress on the swim team
  • the city in which I live - it works nicely for me right now and holds much prosperity
  • the group of people that I work with
Things I'd like to (or have plans to) change:
  • the upstairs rooms in our house
  • how much I'm on my bike
  • the layout and design of my website
  • the condition of our second vehicle - essentially a broken-down rustbucket
  • how little time I spend with my friends
  • how slowly our company is growing
Stay tuned for further developments.