Monday, April 28, 2003

Props to actor Tim Robbins for giving his less-than-popular point of view to the National Press Club regarding the growing xenophobia and stifling of free speech that is going on in the United States right now.

Reading this article reminded me of an incident last week. My neighbor, the Serial Talker, cornered me and told me that he thought Jean Cretien was a coward for not joining Bush in his attack on Saddam Hussein. I listened for two or three minutes to a left-wing tirade of how terrible the Eastern-Canadian Liberals were and how we need to follow the US' lead in this war on terrorism. I didn't argue with him, but I didn't agree either.

I now wish that I had said something to indicate I specifically didn't see eye-to-eye on his opinions. Being complacent and compliant is what happens when your whole childhood is spent hearing rhetoric that doesn't make sense or seem logical but is fervently held by a physical, intimidating man.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

I missed my high school reunion this weekend. Well, it wasn't actually my high school - it was the high school I would have gone to if I had stayed in Sherwood Park and hadn't moved to Edmonton when I was 15. I would have liked to have seen how and where all my old classmates have ended up.

I lived in the Park for 10 years, enjoying the semi-rural life that it afforded. A good friend of mine lived two blocks away from my house on a real farm. They had lots of dogs, skidoos, a barn, a tractor that he knew how to drive, a dad that drank rum and coke in the afternoon, lots of trees and swamps to play in. We built tree forts, lost shoes in the mud and did all the things that elementary-school boys were supposed to do. I knew that farm life wasn't for me, but it was a nice vacation from what I felt was normal.

Extenuating circumstances (a big snowstorm) and general apathy kept me from going to the reunion at the Sherwood Park Inn (a three hour drive on good roads), but I wish I could have gone there last night.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Snow tomorrow ? ! ?

But, but, I've been wearing shorts and sandals already!
Imagine you were going to start a company that would offer training to oil and gas guys. Imagine that these guys have associated certain terms and brand names with certain regular products on their worksite. Imagine that these guys spend lots and lots of time working at remote locations that are miles from any warm porcelain.

Now, think of the most tragic name for your company that you can, and quickly begin operating under that name. You may wonder why people snicker when you introduce the company that you're with and demand to see a card before they believe you.

I wonder if they do their testing in little blue cubicles on site.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

I don't mind when parts of my life get busy, but why does it seem that all the parts get busy at the same time?

There are certain parts that are more fun to attend to than others.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

This week marks my debut as soccer coach for the Teal Tornadoes, McMonk's community league soccer team. I had to attend a 2 hour coaches' clinic and we're getting team schedules, we're arranging to have snacks at each half-time, setting potential extra practices, doing long-term planning for drills and skill development, ... that sort of thing.

It all seems like unnecessary angst when you get out to the field and realize that it's just a bunch of 8 and 9 year-old girls running around a school field, thinking of funny nicknames to call each other. They don't give two hoots about winning or losing. They just want to hang out with their buddies.

Well, OK, they want snacks at half-time, too.
Are you working on a project or task at this very moment and finding it monotonous or boring? Feel like a little break?

Then, get off your butt and go unload and reload the dishwasher. It's your turn.
I just paid a lady $35 to dig her thumbs as hard as she could into my right calf. For half an hour.

And yes, she was a lady, smartypants.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Big moves are afoot. Can you say "infrastructure"? It's a big word and it takes a bit of practice to say, but if it ain't there, you ain't gonna get much done.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

First outdoor highway bike ride of the year. I was out for a little over an hour and a half - first time should be gentle. Rode from the west edge of Calgary to Cochrane and back. Time for a body roll call.

Legs - feeling good. Lots of kick from the stationary riding we've done so far this year. Out of the saddle riding is way more fun outside but quite unfamiliar. On the road it's harder to get the heart rate up to the target range, but we'll keep on trying.

Lungs - Glad to be out of that hot, poorly ventilated exercise room at the club. Loving that fresh air.

Arms - the forearms are surprisingly sore. It must be from riding on the randoneur style bars. Could be that my handlebar stem has too much reach.

Feet - Fell asleep three quarters of the way through the ride. They vote for new shoes.

Hands - not too cold - the open-fingered gloves seem to do the trick on nice days like today.

Crotch and Naughty Parts - Just fine. Thanks for asking.

Eyes - Lots to see. They loved the clear view of the mountains today and seeing so many other cyclists on the road. They promise to get better at spotting dog poop and gravel. Next time.

Back - a bit stiff from being bent over, trying to minimize the impact of the wind.

All in all, a great ride. No flats, no crashes, 18 Celsius, only one crabby driver blowing his horn at me (okay, I was going the wrong way on the on-ramp at Crowfoot Crossing, but hey, I was on the shoulder). I even had a couple of skinny guys with big legs meet up with me when I turned around at Cochrane. I stuck with them until they turned off Highway 1A and headed south. We were pushing 45 km / hour for most of the way back. I had forgotten what good pack riding can do for your average speed. The older (60+ ) of the two even said, "Nice to see some else still riding a metal frame." I think that was a compliment.

I'll look forward to more sunny days on the open road with my buddies this summer.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Relatives in town this weekend. Don't expect much in the way of blog entries.

At least I have Friday off.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

After more than a year using the lock on my locker at the place where I exercise, I've finally got a reliable way to open the lock. Normally, I have to try two or three times to open the lock. Landing exactly on the numbers has proven to be a hit-and-miss operation, so a few weeks ago I decided to try numbers slightly to the left or right of the prescribed combination. Here's what I found.

Land half a digit to the left of the first number. Land half a digit to the right of the second digit. Then, as you are within two clicks of the last number, slowly begin to open the lock while continuing to turn towards the last number of the combination.

I use this lock five to six times a week. I've opened this lock, oh, maybe two hundred times. I'd be willing to bet that I've *tried* to open it five hundred times. Would you go through all this experimentation and frustration because you didn't want to replace a four dollar lock?
My swim training has grown into preparations for a triathlon. I have signed up for two of these hurtfests - a shorty in June and a longer, more painful one in August. A few of my swim buddies (Jay, my coach, in particular) are responsible for waving the hook and lure of sports camaraderie in front of me and taunting the competitive Sean to come out and play. Well, I've bitten and have stayed pretty faithful to my routine, having at least six workouts a week for the last two months.

Training has been going great. I'm feeling very good and enjoying everything about my swims, bike rides and runs. Feeling my muscles hum and sing like they used to is a big attraction to getting back in shape. The fact that my pants are a little baggier in the arse is just a nice side effect.

I think I'm going to have a great summer.
There were twenty in the bed,
and the boss man said,
Move over! Move over!

So we all moved over,
and Sean had to buy some more desks and few more machines and shuffle everybody into a different desk and distribute the network connection further and create some more accounts.

Hey, it's a living.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I was hungry all day today, no matter what or how much I ate. I might be coming down with something.

Maybe it's gluttony.

Monday, April 14, 2003

It would appear that my blog comment system just went out of business. And two weeks ago I paid for a year's worth of service. Rats.

Speaking of going belly up, our trusty van is headed for the scrap pile. I've always joked about driving a vehicle until it just wouldn't go anymore, then pushing it off a cliff. Well, I was at the bottom of a hill when this one's transmission (confirmed by a mechanic this afternoon) died, so the opportunity didn't present itself. Now what to do?

[UPDATE] My comments service (backblog) was just tired and needed to rest for 12 hours or so. They seem to be back.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

A great sign of disrespect is to not listen to the person that you are conversing with. I've seen people close to me do this and I know it wasn't well received. There is one person specifically who does this and I don't think this person even knows they are doing it. This person does it to children all the time and the kids are much more in tune with the slight than this person realizes.
This morning, my van's transmission made a horrible 'thunk' noise while I was driving it down 19th street. It then refused to pass on any torque from the engine to the rear wheels.

"Vroom, vroom," went the engine, but nowhere went the wheels. Drive, reverse, first gear, second gear, nothing.

I had it towed to the mechanics who, I'm sure, will give it their full attention on Monday when they are open again. I can hope for a cheap repair, but not too fervently. I seriously think that our old Aerostar, after 285,000 kilometers, at least 4 major accidents, 2 break-ins, three sets of tires and brake pads, copious use as people / computer part / lumber / luggage / rubbish hauler and more rust and body damage than is obvious at first glance, may have reached its day to be euthanized.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

In a moment of vanity during a grooming session, I discovered my first grey hair. It has emerged and is prospering in my right eyebrow. I've decided to let it stay and see if it makes me look more ... distinguished.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Last night after the news (or rather, the rehashed) on CBC, I saw an interesting program called Zed. It's a variety show that's actually interesting, eclectic and (gasp) full of Canadian content. It features short films (max 12 minutes) from all over the world, unplugged and informal performances from local (Canadian) bands, dance, poetry readings and such. It airs after the news from 11:25 pm to 12:25 am local time on CBC television. Their website is quite involved, too. Wow - interesting Canadian content. Who'd a thunk that?

I have no idea how long it's been going on, but it's an experiment that I hope continues.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I'm waffling on which clipless pedal I want. They will be going on a road bike, and I want easy entry, a little bit of heel play and a firm up/down hold on my shoe. Which would you choose and why? My favorites so far are the Look PP 357 and the Shimano PD-R600. The cost is about the same.


Sunday, April 06, 2003

Eureka! I found my road bike shoes!

Come on, summer!

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Tonight, after all the hubbub and activity had died down, I went into McMonk's room to find her silently clearing a space in her shelf for new Hamtaro house. I sat on the corner of her bed and watched her happily working away and reflected on the past year. click here a bigger pictureI've noticed that she is no longer the short, sturdily-built little rugrat that she once was - she's stretching out and filling into her shoulders. Playful as she is, a serious, thoughtful and considerate personality is blossoming in this, my youngest daughter.

She looked so much older at that moment that I felt compelled to give her a big hug. I called her over and she came and sat down (no climbing needed anymore) on my knee. I said to her, "Happy birthday. Your mom and I have decided to keep you for another year."

They call it a sleepover because no one sleeps 'til its over.

When I write, I try and put a positive spin on parenting and hanging around with kids in general, because generally, I enjoy it. This has NOT been the case this morning. If you do not have kids and want to hold onto your positive outlook for the experience in the future, you may want to skip this post.

Last night started as planned, with eight bright-eyed, ready-to-party eight year olds showing up on our doorstep. We did pizza. We did some party games. We did a movie. We did teeth brushing, pajamas on and story telling. Suddenly, it was midnight. Jenn and I had already negotiated who was taking homesick kids home (it was me, and I got off without any) but there was some tidying to do and prep work for the morning. At 1 am, Jenn and I finally got ourselves to sleep.

At 5:10 am, Jenn came back into the bedroom. "They're up," she announced.

"Who's up?" I asked.

"All of them. They were giggling and playing with toys. One of them woke up at 5 and she woke everyone else up because there was no one to play with,"

I said, "But they'll all be crabby and tired by 6 am. This was supposed to be a 'sleep in' day."

"Yep, but it's not." Jenn answered. And crabby they were. By 7:30, there were arguments on which channel to watch. By eight, there were tears over who wasn't playing with whom. They'd divided into warring factions and were plotting against each other. They hadn't eaten breakfast yet and they wanted cake. Natalie was sitting on Izzy's pillow and she knew Izzy didn't like that. McMonk wanted everyone to leave so she could open and play with her toys in peace. Jenn and I both longed for our pillows and duvets while a full, busy day loomed ahead of us.

And the parents weren't coming to get their sleep-deprived, whiny little darlings for ... THREE ... MORE ... HOURS.

I was coherent enough to take this opportunity to do a happiness benchmark with McMonk and get her to realize that four hours with your buddies is p-l-e-n-t-y of time when you have a birthday party. We all vowed to do sleepovers one friend at a time from now on.

I'm so freakin' tired, I don't know why I'm still conscious.

Friday, April 04, 2003

McMonk turns nine today and we are already in full party mode. As I sit in my office basement typing this, the pitter-patter of stomping feet thunders overhead. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Oh my goodness, it's about to rain computer equipment.

Film at eleven.
Plans continue for McMonk's ninth birthday party - a sleepover party.

At last count, I'm expecting 8 giggling sleepover buddies in my house tomorrow evening. There'll be pizza, chips, a movie, party games and McMonk as the center of attention, loving every spotlighted minute. She's been counting down for the last five weeks. At times, I'm a little annoyed at the egocentric approach she's taking to this event and I have reminded her on occasion that it's about celebrating with your friends, but right now I don't have the heart to spoil her fun.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

One of my workmates suggested today that when someone makes us angry, it's not often that they are trying to provoke us. It's more likely that they are not living up to our expectations or standards of expected behavior. Suddenly, being angry is your problem.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

April Fools day has come again, and the jokes are becoming more subtle. The e-mail I sent out this morning caught a few people. I had to put up with the junior jokesters back at the house this morning. Banana got me with a few tricks - she took all the hanging clothes out of my closet, hid all my t-shirts, even made a lovely concoction of fake dog vomit in the tiles of the downstairs bathroom.

Banana was taunting me too, telling me how badly she was going to get me and how she couldn't be "got." Well, you can't throw down a gauntlet like that in front of a master jokester (and black belt in Tickle Fu) and expect to emerge unscathed. I caught her unawares with a casual mention of swim lessons (a dreaded event for her) starting this evening instead of afterschool playtime. She fell for it. It doesn't sound like much, but there were howls of protest until the gag was revealed.

Poor kid. She didn't know who she was messing with.