Rudolph the red-nosed, genetically-altered, reindeer subspecies

We all know the song. We’ve all seen the 1964 Rankin-Bass television special. In our Western culture, we have a story of an underdog, recognized one foggy Christmas Eve for a trait that only he possessed, which saved Christmas as we know it. And thus Rudy the Red-Beaked Reindeer went down in history.
But we live in an enlightened age. We like to know why things happened, not just how. And if you listen to that story — even if you take the Bumble and such into account — there’s just too darned much that we’ve missed. Where’s the reality check, huh? Oh, you’re going to throw that Santa thing at me? Sure, okay, now you’re just being dismissive. We have to face facts, folks. There’s more to this song. Way more.
Rudolph wasn’t a hero. He was a convenient freak of nature.
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The Nest: Excellence in Product Design and Customer Service

I’ve turned into my dad. Really. I’ve got to be the hardest person on the planet to buy for. My poor wife pestered me for weeks to expand on my Christmas list (she pre-populated it with: “If you don’t add anything, you get a vasectomy!”), and I amounted to two things: sweatpants, and a new silicone scraper for the kitchen.
So leave it to my sister to — yet again — pull off a miracle. She has a knack for this. I don’t know where she’s acquired this skill, but she’s got it down and I’m fairly envious of it. (I struggle every year to return the favour. I suck at it.) Last year it was the most comfy sweatshirt I’ve ever owned. This year? She delivered to me one of the most whiz-bang things I think I’ve ever been given:
A thermostat.
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Christmas Blitzkrieg

When I have those moments when I think I’ve gotten too old, and I think I’m starting to feel like my age, I’m thankful for sudden sustained bursts of activity that remind me that, really, I just lead a much duller life than I used to, and my exhaustion is usually due to lack of sleep than from trying to do too much.
Heck, it even makes me feel a bit young! Ish. Sort of.
Except for the prolonged yawning, anyway.
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2011, A Year In Review

I like long years. Really. Yes, I complain about when things seem to drag out far longer than they should, or if I’m busting my arse far harder than I think I should. That’s part of being human, no? In the end, though, I like long years because I get to look back and not worry about how quickly time has flown by. Time should never fly by quickly — it means I’ve missed something, and … well, darn it, I just hate missing things!
This last year was a big one for me in one major way: it was a redefinition of my professional existence. Since the end of 2009, I’ve transformed from a professional manager to a … hmm … well, my title (however formal it needs to be) is “Solutions Lead”, but that belies a lot of what I do every day, and just using “web developer” or “programmer” — even with a “Senior” prefix — completely understates the reality. This year was really about taking all the skills and knowledge I’d acquired as a leader, and merging that back into my day-to-day development practices.
And that, as the saying goes, was only the tip of the iceberg…
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Merry Christmas, 2011

It’s been a long silence, I know. This has been a tough year for the Sowrey family. Between kids growing up, new jobs, and pressures from all angles, finding the time to write is a challenge unlike any I’ve experienced. And frankly, it becomes a lot lower on my priorities, despite how much I miss it.
That brings me to today, Christmas Day 2011. Today is another long, hard day in a long line of long, hard days. But not a bad day — certainly not bad. Just long, and by the end of it my head is spinning and I long for a day where I don’t have to do anything … despite knowing full well that were I actually to get such a day, I’d be bored outta my tree.
Such is the life of the working parent, I suppose…
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A rainy train

Every year, the City of Vancouver puts on a light show in and around the miniature train in Stanley Park. Last night, after the kids had gone to bed, Allen, Jean, and I discussed the possibility of going. The catch was tickets. Tickets for the ride are best bought in advance, and usually sell out in November. But that’s only half the rides — the other half are sold the day of, and you need to be present at the booth to get them.
Jean very kindly (extremely kindly? suicidally kindly?) went down this morning, in the cold and the rain, to line up and get tickets for the “best possible” time for us to ride, around 17:30. That is “best” as it’s early enough that we can still have dinner at a reasonable time, and it’s late enough that Nikki can join us from her job.
Tonight, I also remembered how miserable Vancouver can be in the winter.
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A visit to the North Pole

During one of her many perusals of the local newspaper, Jean (aka “Granny”) came across an ad for “North Pole, BC“, billed as a “gateway” to the North Pole via Maple Ridge. (Perhaps not the most obvious place to teleport to the top of the world, but just about as likely as, say, Spuzzum.)
So Jean arranged for us all (having to buy tickets being a big factor) to visit Santa in his own home, and witness a bit of a behind-the-scenes approach to Christmas.
Even if, y’know, it’s above zero, all green, and the only snow to be seen is on the mountains…
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Xmas in NYC, Day 3 (aka Christmas Day)

Merry Ho Ho, everyone!  
Today, of course, is Christmas Day. We started our morning with a waltz down to breakfast in the hotel’s restaurants in our PJs. (Well, I wore clothes. I wouldn’t be allowed into most places with what I wear to bed.) Breakfast for all, with coffee for Mom and Dad. (For those of you keeping track, I’m at 12 coffees since I started.)  
Then it was back for present opening. ‘Cuz it just ain’t Christmas without presents.  
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Xmas in NYC, Day 2

My dogs are barkin’. It’s been a day on my feet. A good day, to be sure, but a lot of walking, and a lot of standing. The same was true for Alex, and it would be for Mi Pequeña Niña if she hadn’t slept for a solid hour or so while we were walking about. (Considering that was her only nap of the day, that’s not a bad thing, either.)
The way started out as a rough plan to go to the Empire State Building, and check out the view of Manhattan. But our plans here are very flexible. Aside from the fact that I’ve been to New York City twice before, we’re travelling with a napping toddler, who is apt to change our plans at a moment’s notice for any number of reasons. So I try not to go too crazy when plans are forced to change.  
(Emphasis on the word “try”.)
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Xmas in NYC, Day 1 … Part 2

Alex found Barnes and Noble without difficulty. Choosing what to buy? Now that’s difficult.  
Upon her return, Mi Pequeña Niña and I suited up for our little excursion — the “other” major toy store in Manhattan. I speak, of course, of none other than the new Apple Store.  
I jest. (Slightly.)
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Xmas in NYC, Day 1

Our first family Christmas away from Canada has ended up being colder than we expected it to be a mere couple of months ago. Back then, we were expecting to be in Costa Rica. But due to certain unforeseen circumstances, we’ve had to fly up north for Christmas.
Well, actually, the fact that we flew to New York City is itself a bit of a twist — we hadn’t planned to come here for Christmas until about a month ago. Until then, we were working on someplace a lot warmer. In the act of researching flights, I happened to throw out New York City mostly as a joke. I mean, we’ve been living in a tropical country for six months. Why on Earth would we fly five hours north to free our asses off?  
Funny, how humour sometimes becomes reality…
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A Hangar Christmas

Although we’re still trying to figure out how to get the most basic things (like reliable phone service), we did manage to throw together a halfways-decent Christmas Party this year. I can take no credit for this whatsoever, as Mark pretty much handled all the basic groundwork for it, with Angelica finishing off the key part of securing a caterer.  
Me? I was nose down trying to figure out how to get everything done before we leave for New York City (which is tomorrow, at 13:20). Mark is a master juggler, a skill I’ve sadly let slide now that I’ve got a few more things to juggle. Party organising just doesn’t seem to be one of them.  
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The Christmas season in Costa Rica

It’s now December. Any of you who have been following my Twitter feed know that Costa Rica not only started preparing for Christmas back in September, but that I’ve had a few problems comprehending that it’s actually the Christmas season now. (The “Christmas season”, at least as I define it, is the month of December. No earlier, no later.)
I’m having trouble comprehending this for one simple reason: I’m still wearing shorts and sandals.  
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Actually, make that 18 things

Last week, barely hours after Independence Day here was over, the stores started switching over their wares from Mother’s Day (in August) to … Christmas decorations.  
Santa Claus is already in the aisles. This is so not fair. It’s the middle of freaking September, people!!
Fortunately, they haven’t started playing Christmas music. I think I’d have to kill myself if they did. Ugh.

Christmas in Calgary 2007

Another Christmas has come and is now waning. It’s been a long, but good day. Our child isn’t old enough yet to truly understand Christmas (although the morning nap appeared to be aborted due to the desire to be around all the unwrapping of presents), but that doesn’t mean Mom and Dad aren’t keen.
I think we were more interested in our baby’s presents than in our own.
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Christmas in Oakville with Chris and Kaz, New Years with Alex

I had hoped to go some place warm for the Christmas holidays this year. I wanted to put Christmas lights on a palm tree. I wanted to make sandmen. I wanted nothing more to worry about than getting a sunburn on Boxing day.
So naturally, I ended up arriving at Pearson International Airport at 6:30 on the morning of 23 December, catching the end of a nasty two-day snowstorm. There’s poetic justice in this, somewhere.
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