Monday, December 27, 2004

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a good holiday and doing the things they love with the people they love. We're off on vacation this week, so I won't be around much. I've left a few photos from Christmas for you to enjoy. Cheers!

Here's the snow pile up at our house on the Thursday before Christmas! Crazy!

A good Christmas was had by our household. Here's Frankie Mouse opening up something.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Polls Don't Lie

My parenting acumen was put to the test last night. The results are not in yet, but exit polls indicate that I did not fare well.

It turns out that I have two of the worst board game losers in my charge. (To hear about another, check out Jennie’s post on the topic here). We were playing Candy Land and all was fine. Little Benjy Mouse, who was within spitting distance of the finish line, pulled the dreaded Sugar Plum card and had to go back to nearly the beginning. She exploded, threw her man on the table and stormed off, wailing all the way. In the typical fashion of our family, Frankie and I laughed and kept playing. This has always worked on Frankie; it helps him grab some perspective on his reactions. Apparently, laughing at the emotions of a sensitive four-year-old girl is, shall we say, akin to slapping her in the face. She crumpled in the hall and had a good, long (and loud) bawl, lamenting her unfortunate situation and her ruined destiny. Arthur coaxed her back to the game, but she inevitably lost, causing another torrent of tears.

Junior Monopoly didn’t go well either. Both she and Frankie showed their true colors during some tense land deals, with much protesting and whining. It ended with Frankie victorious and Benjy dejected. She was only partially cheered up by the fact that she had, at least, beaten me.

The night steadily degraded from there. Benjy (heavy with cold) began a coughing fit that ended with her vomiting over most of her bedroom furniture and much of the bathroom. When a torrent of pent-up slime exploded from her nose while vomit shot from her mouth, I failed my last test as a parent: I vocalized my disgust and ran from the room. That was an unfortunate mistake, as there was no one to hold her hair, which ended in a very late, very disgusting bath.

I’m hoping to somehow redeem myself later in the week, but for now, Arthur is winning in the popularity polls.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Happy Coincidence

Coincidences often make me wonder if there isn’t some kind of greater cosmic energy at play on the planet. Here’s an example.

Saturday night, after helping out at a Christmas party, my son and I went to gather Arthur and my daughter from the in-laws, where they were waiting for us. I couldn't help but mention to the group, but specifically my mother-in-law, how I had been interviewed for articles in three prominent IT journals, had my own article being published in another IT magazine, and was being quoted on two major software vendors sites, all in connection with some research I had done lately. I didn't get to finish telling her, though, for about 30 seconds into it, my mother-in-law cut me off (she heard the word IT, and this must have triggered something for her) to ask me if I knew how to reset a password on Windows XP. No one else in the room, including Arthur, seemed to notice the virtual slap in the face, and I went home, deflated, in a huff. Sadly, I took it out on Arthur.

On my third glass of red wine, I sat on the couch and took out my frustrations. "If this happened to anyone else in the family, it would be a big deal. But it happens to me, and no one cares. Not your mom, not any of our siblings, not even my mother has acknowledged how cool this is. If this happened to your brother, your mother would have taken out an ad in the paper. Apparently an article about me isn’t as big a deal as I thought it was." Poor Arthur.

I was starting in on a crying jag, when my mom called (unusually late, for her) to ask how the party had gone. At the end of the call she said, "Oh yes, I meant to tell you that I read the links you sent me and that’s pretty neat that you've got your names in lights like that. You must be very proud. Good job!"

I smiled. Arthur swears he didn't put her up to it. I guess Moms just know when you need an ego massage. Well timed, Mom. Thanks very much!

Friday, December 17, 2004


Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming!

Well, tonight is my office’s Kid’s Christmas Party. It’s an event that my children always look forward to. And with good reason – this company puts on an amazing event every year. Our CEO really knows how to party. Tonight they will be having pizza, making cookies and crafts, getting a custom-made T-shirt and loot bags, and participating in the “Snake Guys” show – they cart in a whole bunch of reptiles, snakes, and large spiders, and the kids get to learn about them and pet them.

Then, Santa comes in and hands out nicer gifts than we’ll be getting our kids this Christmas. Frankie will be getting a Laser Tag set, complete with two guns, vests, and cool headsets (Arthur is very excited about this gift, as well). Benjy will be receiving a Pauper & Princess carriage replete with two horses, Barbie, and Ken. Now, the kids love the gifts, but I know that Benjy really looks forward to being able to sit on Santa’s lap and having a nice chat.

Tomorrow, we’ll be having a different kind of Kid’s party. Our company created a charity that helps families with technologically dependent or severely handicapped kids who need 24/7 care. We raise money to send the parents or caregivers away for a weekend vacation, and pay for the kids to go to a specially equipped “country club” where they get to do fun things and can get the level of care that they need. It’s wonderful to be able to help the families, who are always very grateful.

Anyway – tomorrow is our Christmas party for these kids. Frankie and I have volunteered to help out. It’s the least we can do for a company that’s given us so much, and it also helps us to appreciate how fortunate we are. For instance, a special puree machine has to be brought in so that we can grind up the pizza we’ll be serving for lunch for those kids that get fed through a tube. I don’t know about you, but I often get so caught up in making sure that the kids have “enough” gifts under the tree that I forget about how blessed I am to be able to afford those gifts in the first place, and give them to very healthy children.

May this holiday season remind us all how fortunate we are.

Monday, December 13, 2004

7 Tips for Women

I've made up a short list of important things women should know (in my opinion anyway). It may also be useful for men. I doubt that I'll enlighten anyone, but at least there's something new for you to read today:
  1. Door Etiquette. When someone holds the door open for you, don't put your hand up to the door to hold it too - it implies that you think they're going to close it on your face. That being said, you do have to make a judgment call in the cases where they're really just holding the door until you have hold of it - in those cases, they probably would slam it in your face.
  2. Shake Hands. When you meet someone for the first time you should shake their hand. I don't know what it is about some women, but they don't automatically shake your hand when you meet them, and I find that kind of rude. Maybe it's because I used to work with clients and business partners, but it just seems right to me to shake hands. I even shake hands when I'm introduced to people in the grocery store or at the playground. Better to shake than to offend, I think.
  3. Eye Contact. Make eye contact and smile when you pass people in the mall, on the street, or at the office. If you're in a creepy neighborhood or a prison, maybe not. But, generally, it makes me happy to have that one second of human contact. It makes them happy, too.
  4. More Door Etiquette. If someone holds the door open for you at Tim Horton's or McDonald's, let them in front of you in line. After all, if they hadn't held the door, they would have been in front of you in line anyway.
  5. Books on Tape. Listen to books on tape (or CD) in the car when you go on long trips alone. I live 45 minutes away from work, and I find that if I have a book to listen to, I look forward to the drive, and am less likely to suffer from road rage. Most libraries, even my rinkie dink town, have a good selection of books on tape, and they can order them from other libraries, too.
  6. Warm Bodies. Try to turn down your spouse's advances as little as possible, even if you're tired. Why? It keeps your romance alive, reminds you why you love them, relaxes you, hopefully is enjoyable, and puts you in a better mood. It also keeps you both closer, and hopefully encourages them to snuggle you and rub your feet.
  7. Call your Mom. Never mind that you don't have anything to say, or that they could call you. Mom's like being called, even if it's just to say hi and make sure everything's ok. Some day she won't be around, and then you'll wish you had called her more. Ditto for your sisters.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Parenting Lite

I can’t believe that this post is warranted, but based on office conversations with staunch pet owners, it appears to be. While explaining that they were putting off buying a home in order to pay for their very old dog’s hip surgery, my co-worker tried to equate it to a child needing surgery.

First of all, let me start by saying that I am not anti-pet, or pro-child. I have both pets and children, and I like them both. But, I also have an opinion.

And here it is. As obvious as it should be to most people, I think it bears saying, that owning a pet is not the same as parenting a child.

I will concede that there are, in fact many similarities. Pets and children both have to be taught correct behavior. They both need to be fed and bathed regularly. They both do cute things, are generally cuddly, and warrant a picture of them on your desk. They have to be cleaned up after and, on occasion, they break your heart. They are both loved dearly by you.

But, that’s where it pretty much ends. Pet-ownership does not entail the level of responsibility, risk, and consequences associated with child-rearing. If you mistreat your cat, or fail to teach him good values, you don’t really have to worry about whether or not he will grow up to be maladjusted, a menace to society, or a mass murderer. If you’re unable to help your dog pass her obedience class, it doesn’t affect her future options for employment. If you had to choose between saving your horse’s life or your own, for most people it wouldn’t really be a difficult decision. Your children really are the future, so how you raise and protect them is truly important to society

You can love your pet with all your heart, bond with them very closely, and provide them with all the things you would your child (i.e. daycare, expensive, life-saving medical treatments, and premium health food) but the consequences of you not doing this are not the same as if it were a child, no matter what you tell me.

Pet-ownership is Parenting-Lite. It’s like going on a roller coaster in lieu of sky diving. The risks and consequences are lower. Which is fine. I’m not saying you should have kids, and I’m not implying that you shouldn’t spend thousands of dollars to replace your aged dog’s failing hip. Would I? Likely not, but that’s just me. You can do whatever you want with your pet.

Just don’t tell me that your dog is equal to my kid. And do not say, “If it were your son you’d give them the surgery!” You’re right, I would. Because, as remote a possibility as it is, my kid can grow up to shape the world, but your Great Dane cannot.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I hate NEXT BLOG because I find crap like this

You know, I was done with political posts. But then I used Next Blog (bad, Trillian, bad!) and I stumble upon fear-infested pseudo-patriotic, America-as-the-underdog drivel and my blood boils.

This is up there on my list of most pathetic posts of all time.

Not only is the example incorrect (i.e. why the United Nations didn't help the U.S. with their war in Iraq), but it also shows how instilling fear and hatred in our youth is distorting the vision of a very great nation.

I'm not sure what it is about Conservative America's need to characterize themselves as an underdog, but it's laughable. The most powerful country in the world is motivated by fear and insecurity. The image of the self-rightous lone cowboy single-handedly fighting the problems of the world is a bit tired.

I'm impressed that conservatives have been able to change the war's focus from uncovering weapons of mass destruction, to helping "liberate" the people of Iraq and defending the U.S. from possible terrorists (I guess they've moved from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia to Iraq). If this is the real reason why America is at war, I'm wondering why they're not invading every other repressive nation in the world. I think we all know the answer.

If this parent actually did this to their child (and I doubt it), then that man is not fit to be a father. There's no excuse for instilling that kind of fear in a child.

Snow Day!

The weather is pretty bad today, so I'm working from home in my pajamas. I love working at home, and not just because of the pajamas. I also get to spend the day with Sweetie and Zora, our beloved polydactyl kitty twins.

Sweetie, the more forward of the two, will sit on my lap, walk over the keyboard and try to catch my mouse cursor as it moves across the monitor. She'll squawk and purr and is just a very funny cat. Zora, who is still basically feral, will sit under the bed. Once Sweetie starts purring, you can hear a little motor start up from the depths of the bed as well.

Sweetie is a very affectionate cat. Zora is not. I wasn't able to completely tame her, so she doesn't allow anyone to touch her. She'll run away and hide if you come too close, and it's near impossible to catch her. Arthur's tried. He wanted (wants, really) to take her to live in a colleague's barn, what with her not really being a pet and all. But there are three basic problems:

1. He can't tell the cats apart. They are nearly identical. But this can be overcome, by sitting down and waiting for Sweetie to sit on your lap. Once you've established their identities, though, problem number 2 comes in to play.

2. He can't catch her. He chased her around for 20 minutes one day, but couldn't get her. Now, a little smarts is all he really needed - some well placed tuna fish and a cat carrier, really. Which leads me to problem 3.

3. He doesn't really want to get rid of her. Not because he likes her - he would get rid of both of them, if it were up to him. It's because the kids like her. Even though they can't pet her. They think she'll come around (it's been almost 6 months, though!!). And Sweetie would really miss her, too. The kids call them Sweetie and Sour sometimes. It's very cute.

So, I sit here with Sweetie on my lap (impeded my typing mightily) and Zora purring under the bed as the snow falls outside. What more could I ask for?

Sweetie loves the Christmas tree. Posted by Hello

Zora is a little more timid. Posted by Hello

Sunday, December 05, 2004


I like lists. Here's one that I really like.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A little more of my novel for those so inclined

I'm going to have to start sharing parts that don't involve my main character crying all the time.

This is just before she gets a job offer with another tech company (which actually turns out to be about the same, but she doesn't know it then). She's looking for some help from HR to get her obscene work-load reduced.


I walk into the HR office. I’m a bit early for my appointment, but the HR Co-ordinator’s door is open and she doesn’t appear to have anyone else in there. So, I knock tentatively and walk in. As usual, Karen is dressed to the nines in tailored clothes and costume jewellery. Every time she moves she either glimmers or makes a metallic tinkling sound.

“Oh, hi Mel!” she squeals in a delighted tone. She grabs my right hand in both of hers and gives me a pretend half hug.

I haven’t been to HR a lot, and I was hired before we really had an HR department, but it seems like whenever she sees anyone, it’s as though they’re her best friend in the world, and she hasn’t seen them since they moved to the coast. “Sit, sit!” she commands, gesturing her sharp red nails towards the stylized chairs in front of her desk.

I take a deep breath. I’m composed and determined to deliver my case to her without emotion or tears. “What can I do for you?” She asks, fluffing her giant mass of orange hair.

I start crying almost immediately. “I can’t take it,” I stammer, “it’s too much, what they’re asking me to do. It’s stupid there’s so much work, and not enough time, and no one is giving me any resources to help my clients resolve their problems. And they’re all yelling at me. It’s just ridiculous! I need help! I need a job description! They’ve got me flying all over the place selling stuff and kissing clients’ butts, and it’s not what a project manager is supposed to be doing! No one can handle this many projects and then sell stuff and renegotiate contracts, and shmooze people at trade shows. I don’t think that’s what I should be doing, not when I have all these projects to finish. I’m so stressed right now, I can’t think straight. I think I’m going to lose it very soon.” I sort of half smile in attempt to regain my emotional control.

She sits and stares at me. I’m guessing that I’m not her best friend in the world after all. I sniffle loudly. The tissues are out of reach, and she doesn’t seem like she might pass them to me, so I casually wipe my nose with my sleeve.

She gazes at me steadily, her red claws entwined in one another. She’s quiet for a moment, then takes a deep breath and says, “Have you considered Tai Chi? I’m told it can be very relaxing.”

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

TLA Bingo

Working in IT, I come across a lot of Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs).

See if you can't cram more TLA's in a sentence than I can:

SMEs that integrate CRM and SCM into ERP ASAP can improve their ROI and TCO, and shed light on VIP KPIs, so CEOs and CFOs should talk to their CTO or CIO today.