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.