Critical Mass Town Hall

Things have been pretty quiet since the summer — not a lot of activity, not a heck of a lot to report. But this is a habit I’ve gotta keep up, if for nothing else so that I’ll be in practice if/when this Japan thing pans out. Although admittedly, I’ll probably have much more to talk about then.

Our weekend more-or-less began at 12:45pm on Thursday. That was when we heard: "Anyone who can hear this, get your butts over the Danish Community Hall now!" That was the call for our "Town Hall Meeting", a gathering of the Calgary office in one place. Once upon a time (before I started), we could actually congregate in one place in the office. Doesn’t happen anymore — we have to go across the street to the DCH so we can hear the speeches.

We hold these about every six months. It’s mostly so everyone can have an inkling of what’s going on. (We’ve got a lot of people spread across a lot of projects — there’s no way for everyone to know everything. That’s not to say, of course, that I don’t try.) All 250-odd people crammed into the Valhalla Hall for four hours of cheesy speeches, reviews on our projects, really dull organizational ponderings, and an auction.

Yes, an auction. Ted, one of our founders and the company Chairman (Chairperson, whatever!) and the other members of the senior management auctioned off a gourmet meal for 12 people. It’s a fundraiser (believe it or not) for charity. They wine and dine you, you fork out a lot of money, which when combined with money from Critical Mass (the company), goes towards sending underprivileged to camp in Westbank. (Ted’s got a thing for Westbank...) Many people got together in groups of 12 to try and bid for the prize. I say "try" because within only a minute or so, the price surpassed anything we grunts could afford — it was a battle between our CTO and our Director of Project Management. When the dust settled, Ted said the dinner was now for 24, and took both groups. All told, about $22,000 is going to kids. Not bad for five minutes’ work, eh?

The meeting over, we were instructed to attending a post-Town Hall reception at Ceili’s (it’s Gaelic, so you pronounce it "Cayley’s") — a pub a couple blocks away. By 8pm, the only sober person was Chris. Everyone else was quite inebriated. Luckily for us, Ted had told us we didn’t have to come in at our regular time (8am) the following morning. This was good. Most people didn’t show up until 10am. A few didn’t straggle in until 2pm — they didn’t look so good.

Friday night, we met with up with Therese and Stuart (who were somewhat fresh from their trip to Vancouver — they must’ve really enjoyed themselves, we’ve heard much of their escapades; I’ve listened intently, and been able to picture exactly where they’ve been and how it looks — I have to admit that I still miss it) to see "Pay It Forward", one of the better movies this year. Haley Joel Osmet (the kid) is one of these once-in-a-lifetime wunderkinds who either go onto huge success or burn out trying. I sincerely hope it’s more the former than the latter...

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of keeping an eye on my little cousin, Jen. Hmm... "Little" isn’t a good word. Let’s go with "younger". Jen’s 16 years younger than me. She’s less than an inch shorter than me. Notice a problem with this? For some reason that I’ll never understand, the Western side of my family seems to have mutant children that grow to huge heights. Must be the water.

Deciding that I wasn’t too keen on having her trounce all over me on her N64 all evening, I suggested that I take her to a movie. At first, she wasn’t too keen, but when I suggested playing video games before the movie, she ran for her coat. The movie was "The Little Vampire". It’s a cute little movie, though I wasn’t sure how Jen would respond to it. She’s at that "pre-teenager" stage where kid things are no longer cool, but I’m not comfortable with dragging her into most of the other movies currently out (although she’s seen "Meet The Parents" and loved it).

We played "Gauntlet" (the new version — Jen’s too young to remember the original) for two hours. Straight. We hurt afterwards...

Sunday started with dim sum. It’s almost a ritual for Chris and I — one more week, and we’ll have a set pattern that’ll be hard to break. However, we’ve run into one itty bitty problem with it — the line-up seems to be getting bigger every week. Dunno why — it was fine up until two weeks ago. We need to start going earlier. Stuart and Therese were a bit surprised at the line-up, too, and they’ve been to Silver Dragon far more often than Chris and I.

The best part about weekends is having no plans. So when Therese suggested we go "window shopping", we eagerly piled into Stuart and Therese’s new Volkswagen Jetta (complete with possibly the best-sounding stereo I’ve ever heard in a car) and drove south to Chinook Mall. There, Chris proceeded to attempt to buy something from every store. Of course, that’s an exaggeration — he’s not that bad... Therese and I somehow managed to make it out of the mall unscathed, financially-speaking, that is. Chris won the award for most stuff, and for most unusual — a replica of the old vinyl airline bags of the ’60s. Why? Dunno. It’s a Chris thing...

Speaking of airlines, Chris and I will be returning to the wilds of Ontario for Christmas this year, on (or around) the 20th. Tickets have been booked and paid for, so there’s no holding us back. Unless somebody chains the plane to the ground, that is...

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