Enter: Parenthood

Alex took a pregnancy test this morning.
We’re in shock. Alex more than me. I’m so much in shock in even in a bit of denial. And I want another test. But not because I don’t want to be a father — I want to be certain. No disappointment. No false positives. I want no wiggle room for doubt.
Fatherhood. Parent. Dad.
Am I ready for this? Am I prepared to take on the responsibility of caring for a child — my child — bringing them into this world and raising them in the best way possible?
Without question, my life is about to change again. I used to say that I was “18 years old with 16 years experience”. But maybe I really am 34 and should start acting my age. But doesn’t a child bring out the child in all of us?
I hope this is the one. I hope that this my offspring. I hope…
I look forward to meeting you in a few months. I can only begin to dream of the things you’ll teach me, of the wonders we’ll discover.

Day of Visitation

Alex slept better in a king-size hotel bed. Not so much for myself. I was tired. Grumpy. Irritable.
That’s why I was particularly annoyed with the complete and utter disappearance of my deodorant (which I know I had with me) and two T-shirts. They’ve totally disappeared. I have no idea what the heck has happened to them.
Continue reading “Day of Visitation”

VIA Wi-Fi = No-Fi

So I’m taking VIA from London to Oakville, saving Alex from another four hours of driving on Ontario’s highways. I’m sitting here with my trusty laptop trying to do some work, using the “Wi-Fi” service on-board.
Except it doesn’t work.
I can connect to the onboard gateway, no problem. It recognizes me and that I’ve been desperately trying to send and/or receive something. Anything in fact. It has my byte counts. What it doesn’t do is actually let me receive any data. So far, I’ve not even been able to pull up a Google search.
I call false advertising! It doesn’t work, VIA — don’t tell me that it’s there if it doesn’t work. And it isn’t my laptop, as I know I can connect to virtually any wireless network I’ve ever seen. I can see yours but you won’t let me see anything else!
Mind you, could be someone else on this train using up all the bandwidth for porn…
(And if you’re wondering how on Earth I posted this despite not having any connectivity, I offer the simplistic Notepad + Copy & Paste method.)
[Ed. Note: When we got past Brantford, it actually seemed to work, albeit not very well. I wouldn’t rely on VIA’s WiFi service for anything mission-critical, though it was still better than the next-to-nothing access I had with the CBC.]

In Merry Old London (Ontario)

We arrived last night, around 20:00 local time. A quick run through the airport, and we were tracking through the back country out to Janice’s place in Kintore.
The house was cool (old farm houses tend to lack a lot of insulation or it mostly needs to be replaced) so Alex was a little chilly most of the time. We watched Bon Cop Bad Cop until around midnight or so (22:00 our time) before we were tired enough to go to sleep. I’d picked it up during what will be my last bout of Boxing Day sales. They’re hardly sales, since most of the prices (for the things I wanted) were still steep.
Continue reading “In Merry Old London (Ontario)”

Christmas 2006

The saga of Alex’s grandfather’s passing continues.
The funeral arrangements changed from when I booked my flight out and return. The funeral is now on the Friday (instead of the Thursday), which sadly doesn’t work for me. Because of work, I really need to make the effort to be in Calgary to keep things afloat. I’ll be there for visitation, but not for the funeral itself.
Well, that’s as it currently stands. I just realized what the times actually are, and this might not work as originally planned… Ugh. The debate will continue.
Dinner at Brenda and Mike’s was very filling. (I expect no less, of course.) It was a variation on the traditional turkey. This one was prepared with chilies, yams, green beans, and a spicy gravy. It was very good, but not what one would expect for Christmas dinner. But that’s why I like Aunt Brenda’s cooking — she rarely sticks with the norm.
We got a preview of Jen’s work since starting university. It’s creepy how fast she’s progressing now. I knew she had talent. It’s something else to see how far she’s come in mere months of instruction. She has a long future ahead of her in art — that much I’m sure of.
We came back to dive into the hot tub only to realize that yes, in fact, the fucking thing is still broken. There’s a leak in an area I can’t get to easily. I’m going to have to take part of the side off to find out what’s actually wrong and plug the leak. For now, the cold weather is working to our advantage and is freezing to prevent too much drippage. I’ve dropped the temperature to keep it from melting.
Still, a pain in the arse.
We fly out tomorrow around 14:30. Before then, I hope to get in some Boxing Day sales. Gonna have to get up early, though.
A strange Christmas, indeed.

A solemn Christmas Day

After yesterday’s marathon church-o-rama, I wasn’t able to stay up watching A Christmas Story for long without falling asleep.
But I was up shortly after 8:00 to make breakfast: pancakes and a ham, cheese, potato, and onion “mom saver” (Alex says I should call it a “husband saver”, since I made it). I buggered up the cheese sauce, though. Next year, cheese only. No liquids.
Just as we were starting to unpack our stockings, the phone rang. It was Janice, Alex’s mom. Alex’s grandfather had died only 30 minutes earlier. It wasn’t unexpected — he’d had a stroke only a week or two earlier and the prognosis hadn’t been good. The funeral was even planned in the expectation.
All things considered, this is the best thing that could happen. Alzheimer’s is an evil disease that robs a person of everything. He didn’t recognize his own children, and couldn’t understand why his wife was never around (she died two years ago). It’s been hard on Janice’s family, and it’s a burden that they can finally shed.
Still, it makes for a bittersweet day.
Alex and I took a moment to remember before getting into the presents under the tree. Asia got hers first — her catnip mouse literally bathed in fresh catnip. She was our entertainment while we ate.
Alex did her best to get even with me for last year’s book bonanza. (Alex loves books, but I gave her a couple too many.) She found a really interesting one called Sign of the Qin, which I’d never heard of before but sounds interesting. I’m looking forward to reading it.
The “haul” (such as it is) comes out as following:

If I get a chance to do Boxing Day shopping remains to be seen. Sadly, with the passing of Alex’s grandfather, this week is almost a write-off for us. Only time will see.
We’re gearing up for dinner tonight at Mike and Brenda’s. That should prepare us for tomorrow’s excursion to Ontario. It’ll be good to see family for Christmas. I just wish it were under happier circumstances.

Activity on the day before Christmas

Christmas is almost here again, and I’m only now really getting into the groove. Until a couple of days ago, I was far too focused on work.
In my defense, it’s not for a wanting to focus too much on work, it was purely out of necessity. We’re working on a huge project with a lot of challenges and expectations. In order to make sure we deliver well in time for our deadlines with the right level of quality, I need to spend a lot of time ensuring that the team has done their due diligence in getting it all ready, and helping them out as much as I can so they can focus on the need and not on the other requests circling above.
That’s been my last two months or so.
Somewhere in all that, I managed to buy Christmas presents for Alex. And that was about the only person I spent a lot of concerted effort on. Again, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t for a lack of wanting to spend effort on others. It was time — specifically, the lack thereof. Were it not for Alex and her dedication, the rest of my family wouldn’t be receiving much more than a phone call.
In fact, most of what we have this year is due to Alex. The decorations, the cards we mailed out, the food, the Christmas tree (I might have lugged it home — see [[Decorating for Christmas]] — but Alex make it look all pretty).
Last week, I finally started backing off in work a bit. I need to, as did the rest of my team. (I practically had to threaten them to take a break and relax for a few days. Pressure doesn’t help, and if they don’t slack off a bit, the quality of work will definitely start suffering.)
Friday night, I started to relax. Yesterday, Alex and I did a bit of running around for various things, notably a hard drive to reload our aging Dell computer. You can only load and unload so much software in Windows XP before you just have to bite the bullet and reload from scratch. Having a faster hard drive (and a secondary in the event of a catastrophic failure) is always a good thing.
Today we’re doing the church thing. This morning was the Sunday service. You’ll note the omission of words such as “regular” or “normal”. The fourth Advent that happens to fall right on Christmas Eve seems to get a lot more attention than normal.
Knox Presbyterian also hosts a Korean congregation that added considerably to the service. The Korean Pastor did a few parts of the service (Murdo did most of it), with the Korean Youth group performing a 30-minute multimedia pageant about how Jesus (never referred to by name, oddly enough) changed the world.
I was a little uncomfortable at first — I usually am at such things, and I don’t know why — but I eventually got into it. It wasn’t hard to convince myself that I was watching a cultural show of sorts. It was the Korean perspective on Christianity. Different than what we see in Western Christianity, but the roots are the same.
I still find it strange that Christianity has such a following with Eastern cultures. I always associate Buddhism with the East. I think there needs to be a Buddhmas, personally.
Following the lengthy service was a potluck that Alex and I hadn’t even been aware of. We tried to get tea only to find it hadn’t been made yet. So while I boiled water, Alex got food. Complete with a healthy dose of Korean. The more traditional aspect of the Knox congregation obviously had some difficulty with some of the food (kimchee and nori, to be specific). Alex commented that she should have given me all the things she didn’t recognize.
We’ve spent the afternoon at home lazing around. I reinstalled the toilet downstairs and finished enough reconfiguration of the the computer that Alex can at least check her email again reliably.
We’re preparing for the second two (yes, two) services tonight. The first is the pageant for Knox at 18:00, then the carols at 22:00. Somewhere in all this, Alex and I will find time to eat and be merry, I presume.
Oh, crap… I just remembered that I need to make the mom saver for tomorrow morning. I should get on that…

Decorating for Christmas

Ah, Christmas! That time of the year when the happy cries of children resound through the neighbourhood, gingerbread wafts in the air mingled with the scent of pine, and angry shoppers wield heavy weaponry to acquire the hot toy of the year for their spoiled and ignored kids.
Yeah, I’m still bitter about the over-commercialization of Christmas. Decorations should not be seen until late November. Christmas music not until December. Same with all the adverts on TV and radio — please restrict those to the appropriate month? Half a year is a little much in some cases. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas — I love almost everything about it. What I want is for it to remain special. If we have Christmas for most of the year, it becomes as common as Wednesdays, and we know how much fun your average Wednesday is.
But I digress…
My tasks were much simpler: clean, arrange (and purchase extra) lights, move some furniture, and carry a tree about a half kilometre (easier than it sounds, trust me).
Everything began on the Saturday. We were having guests over on Sunday and wanted to have something ready for all to see and experience. Now I freely admit that I’ve not been putting in my part for Christmas preparations this year. Work has kept me very busy and trying to do all the home-related stuff has been … well, let’s just say that if I weren’t married, nothing would be done.
Cleaning is always the hard part. We’ve both been so busy (me at work, Alex covering for me) that the house has slid into a state of minor disarray. And by minor, something just less than New Orleans after Katrina. Just without the flooding.
Space had to be made for the tree as well. We wanted it in the window this year (like in A Christmas Story, but without the lamp), which meant the couch had to be moved. The entire thing was spun about 90 degrees clockwise and shoved a few metres north. The dining room table had to be rotated 90 degrees to make for easy walking around.
We got the tree at the Calgary Farmer’s Market after breakfast on Saturday. A lovely Fraser Fir that not only looks great but has the most definitive “Christmas tree smell” that I’ve ever encountered. Can’t go wrong with that.
While the branches dropped, we dealt with lights. Alex went through a few variations inside while I wrestled with the outside lights. I was previously a purist — if the light wasn’t incandescent, it wasn’t alight. I didn’t like the LED lights. They seemed … odd. But after wrestling with a mini-light set for 45 minutes to find the three burned out bulbs, I’ve converted. LEDs don’t burn out (easily). And they use way less electricity.
I’m almost in Christmas mode now. If I can concentrate less on work, I might actually have a good time this year.
Merry Ho Ho. I hope…

The Critical Mass New York Extravaganza 2006

I’ve seen some pretty swanky parties, but this one definitely ranks high up there. And as more of a stunner, it was a Critical Mass party, too!
Okay, clarification needed. Critical Mass’ parties tend to be like this: Beer.
It’s that simple. We tend not to do anything fancy because we’re a pretty down-to-earth kind of company. You don’t need much to make people happy. It’s a formula that’s worked well.
Add spouses/significant others to the mix, and you really do need to dial things up. And boy-oh-boy, did the organizers do one hell of a job at that!
Our party took place in the Big Four Building, Hall A. When I read that, the first thing that came to mind was the casino that’s there. It wouldn’t surprise me to be in a casino (see [[The 2004 Critical Mass New Year Party]]), but somehow it didn’t seem right. (And I don’t mean “right” as in “right to do”; it just didn’t seem like we’d do it.) As it turns out, Hall A is a space I’ve noted before, but perennially forgotten about.
The theme, as you’ve noticed, was about New York City. Why, I’m not sure. But it didn’t matter. The inside featured skylines (in projection), display cases from Bloomingdales and Macy’s, fake street signs. Christmas trees were everywhere. Not green ones — white and silver with wonderfully sparkly ornaments. A lone saxophone player jazzed along as we entered, his sound echoing through the massive room. A stage dominated the south wall, where Dewi (our Sound Producer) and his band would play some serious funk later on. The north wall was the bar (this is a Critical Mass party, don’t forget). The centre of the room were the tables.
Alex was impressed. Thoroughly. Stunned, actually. She was envious that Critical Mass’ party was better than her department’s. That made me feel pretty good, actually.
We acquired a couple of drinks, toured the facilities, chatted with those who wandered in (I must have introduced Alex to about a hundred people — I’ll be surprised if she remembers any of them; I wouldn’t). Eventually we took a table with Torin, Danny, Pavel and their significant others to await dinner.
For a place that’s renowned for their corn dogs, I do have to say that Stampede Catering makes a fine roast beef. The food was outstanding. The desserts were deadly. The conversation outstanding, even if we did have to try overpower the band.
Although most took off early (only a small contingent ended up a Ducky’s; I was not one of them this time), it was not for lack of entertainment or a good time. It was, by many respects, one of Critical Mass’ best soirees I think. The only thing I would have changed is the volume of music.
Either that or I’m getting old…

Gone in a Flash

Yeah, I know — you’ve heard it before, and you’re gonna hear it again.
I hate seeing good people leave.
Can’t say I blame Scott Morgan, though. He did get a sweet deal. Especially for a Flash guy. It’s not every day that Yahoo! calls to say they need you. (Something I’m sure I’ll never hear.) And he would be a fool not to take a chance to try something big.
That’s not to say we didn’t have something big here. But we’re talking orders of magnitude. Critical Mass is at best 500 people. Yahoo!’s a few times larger. Like 10. Ish. Redesigning Rolex.com is one thing. Overhauling Yahoo!’s Flash use, that’s something else.
Scott’s only been here for just over a year, and his impact is pretty big. He took over the Flash group and really ran with it, getting things organized. He’s leaving behind big shoes to fill. I know who’s going to fill them, but that’s not really my place to say right now.
On Friday, a bunch of us drifted down to the Ship and Anchor (“Where Critical Mass sets sail…”) for a last beverage with our now ex-comrade in arms. Scott, despite being officially out of the company at this point (his last day was yesterday) arrived late. There was a certain amount of irony in that.
There were only two ways this would go: long and hard, or fast and easy. It ended up the latter, which I didn’t mind as I wasn’t keen on a hangover. (Though I did threaten to give Scott one.) It ended up just being the two of us, which lasted only until we were out of beer.
Scott says he might be back some day. I’m not so sure. He’s got family to deal with, and moving them around is not always easy. That said, finding Flash people isn’t easy, either. So who knows — maybe if I’m still here two years from now, paths might cross again.
‘Cuz I doubt it’ll ever happen at Yahoo!