A first “real” Hallowe’en

Today was Hallowe’en here in Calgary, and your first real Hallowe’en, kids. Yes, Monkey, you could easily argue that you had your first Hallowe’en two years ago when we lived in Costa Rica. (It could be further argued that you were in Calgary for your very first Hallowe’en, but clocking in at a mere two months drastically limited your ability to say “trick or treat” … or pretty much anything, really.)

That “first” Hallowe’en was largely missed by myself (sadly — traffic was not daddy’s friend that night), and your experience was limited to what the mothers at Avalon could put together. From what I understand, fun was had by all. But it wasn’t the same as going door-to-door, saying “trick or treat”, and loading yourself so full of candy that you don’t know what to do with yourself.

I gotta say, you made me proud tonight.

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A new window on the world

One of the many things we identified with our home as needing improvement when we purchased it was the windows. Nearly all of them (save for an odd bay window added on an extension that seems to have gone on in the 1980s) dated back to the house’s original construction, in the early 1950s. Single pane, and no matter how much foam you jam in there, fairly drafty.

Our first winter in the house, we used that fancy shrink plastic to improve the draft-factor. To a degree, it helped, but the rooms still felt cold. Last winter, the rooms were outright frigid. And after Choo Choo’s window displayed signs of mould, Alex and I started talking much more seriously about replacing the windows not as part of a larger renovation, but for a sense of urgency.

Urgency finally arrived today. And boy, do they look spiffy!

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And She said: I want new lights!

Okay, it wasn’t just Alex. Truth is, our “Florida Ceiling” bothered me from the moment we bought the house. In our original walk-around, it was one of the things I noted as needing “urgent replacement”. I personally found it rather hideous, and cast so much light into the kitchen as to be a little overwhelming.

I’d hoped today’s job would go reasonably quickly. After all, I don’t want to spend the entire day tearing things apart (although it is terrible fun) and putting in new things (admittedly, rarely ever as much fun), when I could be … well, doing other things.

But I digress…

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The fork in the road

Not so long ago, when I managed a team, I used to coach people in their career directions. (How well I coached people is another matter, and I can only leave it to those people to assess my real effectiveness.) I’d help them understand their successes, their opportunities, and help them avoid the pitfalls that were common with advancement. Everyone wants to get ahead, after all.

One thing I always cautioned more senior people was the “fork in the road”, the point at which you decided on your “next” direction. One avenue would take you down the road of the specialist, the code ninja who could seemingly pull miracles out of thin air. The other avenue was expanding one’s view beyond the initial skill to encompass the Big Pictureâ„¢. In other words, management.

Watch out for that wrong turn — here be dragons.

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The development in my life

If I were to summarise the last ten years of my career prior, specifically from about June 2000 to June 2010, it would look something like this: web developer, specialised web developer, senior web developer, junior manager, manager, director, technical architect. What, in many ways, looks largely like an “upward” progression in knowledge work.

During these last ten years, and notably the latter five, I trended more and more away from programming and more into management. I managed people, I managed projects, I managed implementations, and pretty much managed to avoid coding of any kind. I convinced myself that it made more sense for me to focus on the higher-level technology planning than it did on the actual implementation — there were others who did it better than me, and it was a waste of effort to try do it all.

And suddenly, I found myself checkmated.

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Switching from Shaw to Telus

For those of you not already following the story, I’ve sworn off Shaw. As much as I am tied — nay, symbiotically attached — to the internet, I would have been quite willing to end the service at home with the continued lack of service I was receiving from Shaw. It was past “infuriating”, past “mind-bendingly torturous”, and I was way passed “pissed off”. We had to move, or I could have possibly killed someone. Consider that move a public service, folks.

We moved to Telus. Not solely because they’re really the only other option in town, but partly because the new Optik service had proved highly appealing (nicer interface, and free PVR with long-term contract), and a very lucrative introductory offer combined with Shaw’s epic failure really cinched the deal.

Not that it’s gone completely flawlessly…

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Nothing but the kitchen sink

It’s been a long time since we’ve done anything significant to the house. The last time, we gutted and rebuilt the basement, a much-needed effort. It is now the most comfortable and pleasant part of the house (except maybe the utility room, which is in need of some shelving, and maybe some spackle, tape, paint, a ceiling…). That leaves the upstairs as … well, as needing some “love”. And by “love”, I mean a few walls removed, rooms rearranged, bathroom(s) redone, and a much better light transfer.

But that’s a long time away. We’re talking a major improvement, which we can’t afford right now. So we’re going to start with the room that bothers Alex and I most — the kitchen. It’s too small, dark, and frankly doesn’t work well for us. (That, and I’m constantly comparing to our home in Garrison Woods, which had a kitchen that I loved.) As the saying goes, you gotta start somewhere.

So I threw out the sink.

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There are times

There are times when
I wish I could do
Whatever I wanted
And then I remember you

There are times when
I wish you could feel
The aching of my heart
And know why it is so

There are times when
I see your sense of wonder
And for a brief moment
I feel it, too

There are times when
We hold each other tight
The universe stops
And there’s only us

There are times when
I wish
I had a different job
We had a different house
Lived somewhere idyllic
Had no wants nor cares
Where we lived in our reality
And fantasy was the world beyond

But we don’t

There are times when
I cannot be with you
And the moments apart
Ring of eternity

There are times when
I see you seeing me
And all I want
Is an eternity with you

There are times when
I could kill
Or be killed
Knowing that you would live

And then there are times
Like this
That I think about it all
And love you ever still