Copyright

All blog posts, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted to the Author (that's me) and may not be used without written permission.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Itinerary

This is the first time I am doing the flight during the day. I usually take the red-eye and leave at 10:30 pm and get there around noon. However, as I never seem to sleep on the red-eye, this may wind up being better in the long run for me. I'll arrive tired and it will be time to sleep.

  • Alarm set for 5am.
  • Super Shuttle here at 5:45-6:00 am for ride to airport (I am scheduled as last pickup for that shuttle).
  • Plane departs 8:35 am.
  • Arrive in Chicago at 2:30 pm.
  • Leave Chicago at 3:45 pm.
  • Arrive in Montreal at 6:50 pm.
  • Customs in Montreal.
  • Leave Montreal at 8:25 pm.
  • Arrive in Saint John at 11:00 pm.

That 4-hour time difference heading back east really makes this seem like a long day. Especially for a guy who dislikes flying.

She's so totally worth it!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Motorcycle Mania

This morning I headed out to run some errands. As I was leaving the parking lot, I heard a huge roaring sound coming closer. Assuming it was a plane, I looked skyward. Clear.

My ears clued me in that it was coming from the road next to me. As I got into my vehicle, a stream of motorcyles came roaring up Jamboree, escorted by police.

The stream of motorcycles was long. I was able to drive out of the parking lot, turn onto a crossroad, and still waited about 15 minutes while the funeral procession passed by.

I have never understood why a funeral procession is allowed right of way. I get that it is a sign of respect to the fallen, whomever they were. Of course, funerals are really for the living, so who exactly are we showing respect to with these processions?

Where I live is about as whitebread as you can get in this area. Seeing the looks of consternation on the faces of those around me as this group of bikers roared up the road and stopped traffic was classic.

The sound of the loud chopper mufflers was like a huge raspberry through the morning air.

Do you think that was why the procession went up this particular road?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

My sister gave me an Amazon gift certificate for my birthday. I used it to buy some items, the last of which was the Justice League Season 2 cartoon collection. I just received it in the mail today. In opening the package, I found a free ticket for going to see Superman Returns—a movie on my “must see” list.

How cool is that? The coupon is good for up to $10.50 and for only 1 person, but is also good at any showing (regardless of the “no passes, no coupons” rule of a theatre). The one caveat I have is that I will be in Saint John for this movie and plan to see it with my fiancée; I have no idea if it will be valid there or if they will accept it. I assume so as Canadians can by this DVD collection too.

As an aside, Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter gave pretty high marks to an advanced screening of Superman Returns. Both basically said it is an incredible action picture that also has heart. You can read more about it here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fun with Mom

Every time I visit my mother, she has a few things she'd like me to do for her. Little "honey-dos" for her son. Which is fine; I usually have no problem with her list of things.

I went out to visit her for her birthday, which was actually nearly 2 weeks ago, but our busy schedules didn't allow for a visit until this weekend.

Today's tasks wound up being installing and setting up her Harmony 880 remote (she saw how much I enjoyed mine, and wanted to eliminate the 5 remotes she had), reading and offering suggestions on a paper she is doing for one of her classes, and painting her front room.

I took care of setting up the Harmony remote while mom went to the store for some fixings for our dinner. Got everything onto the remote with only minimal trouble.

She had nearly a gallon of the tone she used in her bedroom available, and I thought it would go with the front room fairly nicely. It is an off-white with a hint of a sea-foam green in it-- but just a hint. So we prepared the room, pulling all the furniture away from the walls and taking all the pictures and faceplates down.

As a side note-- it was 41­°C at 10:30 am as we were leaving breakfast. And it got hotter. It was still 37°C when I left at 8 pm, with the sun having set nearly an hour earlier.

Now, I don't know about you, but I like to be comfortable when I paint-- especially when it is so darn hot outside and the AC is struggling to cool the place. I think this picture clearly illustrates just how comfortable I need to be.
Go ahead and laugh as much as you need. I'll wait.

Ready? Okay, we're not sure exactly how mom managed to get the angle just right for that picture, but we were in tears when we first looked at it. Apparently I'm very comfortable with my sexuality! ;-)

Here's a slightly better one-- shows I'm actually wearing shorts, not a frilly skirt.
Anyway, we managed to get the entire room painted and trimmed with the gallon we had. It looks pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. And, other than a few drops of paint on my hands, I had no paint spatters anywhere on me or on my clothes.

We then took a break and ate dinner-- BBQ ribs, rice, and mac/cheese. Yummy.

I then read over and offered suggestions on how to better focus her paper and get her back on track. She had the ideas for a good paper there, she just sort of lost her thought and needed some pushing and prodding to get her back to it. Easily accomplished.

Anyway, another good time "bonding" with mom with a day of projects. I can't help but wonder-- what will be in store the next time I visit? And will that sexy skirt be waiting for me??? :-D

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Hand that Feeds You

My company eliminated approximately 200 positions today. I know of nearly 10 people from our division with whom I worked or knew socially who are out on the street right now. There may be more, as a bunch of emails were not answered or people were not available in the corporate IM.

I realize this is part of business. Companies do what they can to be profitable, to remain "lean and hungry," and to hopefully grow in the future.

But that doesn't stop the sting when it happens to you.

Luckily, most of the people with whom I work were spared this fate today. And I can rest better tonight knowing that this round is done and jobs should be safe for "a while."

But I do wonder about those who were let go. Many people don't plan for these events and do not have the wherewithall to combat it when a company lets them go. I hope that those with new mortgages, new children, and other responsibilities will be okay until they find new employment.

From what the VP of our division told us, the company provided fairly considerate severance packages to those who were let go. That should ease a little of their burdens while they start looking for a job.

About a month and a half ago, our company announced plans to "reorganize management" and to "create better synergies" in departments. My first thought was, "Oh, great, more layoffs." Why can't those in upper management remember what it was like to hear words like that? Why couldn't they respect their employees enough to add, "And there is a chance that some layoff could occur" so we would be prepared when this day came?

I am sure it is written in some manual somewhere why management does not, should not, or cannot let its employees know when cut backs are going to occur. I just wish I could find that passage so I could understand. It seems so disrespectful to me to just up and call 200 employees and say, "Your job has been eliminated. Have a nice day."

I will soldier on, doing the best I can. But my faith in the company is shaken right now and I need to gain some perspective.

And let me extend a heartfelt "Good luck!" to those who were fired today.

Book to Film

What book, novel, comic book, or other written media that, to the best of your knowledge, has not yet been turned into any sort of movie, cartoon, or other visual media, would you most like to see? What format would you most like to see it?

(Please limit responses to top 2-3).

I’ll start:

Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Lord Foul’s Bane (Stephen R. Donaldson), Theatrical Live Action Movie
Note: Hugh Laurie as Covenant

Over Sea, Under Stone (Susan Cooper), Theatrical Movie (Cartoon or Live Action)

Casca: The Eternal Mercenary (Barry Sadler), TV miniseries

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Update on Move

We had some issues crop up with the plan for me to move back east. When I asked my company, they had some concerns about my moving to Canada, and New Brunswick in particular. Being a business, two major things came up: the need for business licenses and the need for new payroll services and benefits.

While we were able to pass on some information to Human Resources about this (namely that New Brunswick doesn’t require business licenses) it wasn’t enough. The company feels that the expense to check on all of this, including lawyer fees, payroll fees, time spent setting up new procedures within the company, etc., are not worth the business expenses for one person’s request to move.

However, there was a bit of a miscommunication with the HR department. While I had expressed that I wanted to be as close as possible to New Brunswick and my fiancée, my HR rep had only heard “New Brunswick or Maine” (the only state I mentioned as part of the “as close as possible” scenario). She thought her saying no was the end of it, and I thought she was still checking on other locations.

So, I brought it up again when I found we had an office in Boston. She was surprised, for the reasons above. However, once she understood my reasoning for wanting to be as close to my fiancée as possible, she then knew what to check.

It turns out that the company has business licenses and payroll/benefits support in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, with an actual office in Boston. Since I have already cleared the hurdle of requesting permission from the groups/managers with whom I work on the work-from-home issue, all I need to do at this point is find a place to live in either NH or MA, move, and inform HR and Payroll on which date I will be effective from the new address. They would prefer that I try to correspond that with the start of a payroll cycle, if at all possible.

While this is obviously not the best solution, it gets me close enough to New Brunswick that I can drive rather than fly to see my honey. And she can visit me, too. It would be down to a few hundred miles instead of well over three thousand. We could visit on the weekends, holidays, and vacations much easier (yes, I grant that weather may conflict at times). It also allows us to further consolidate our resources, see each other much more often, and work on the immigration side of things with the lawyer under better circumstances.

I am still working on another potential solution on my end; a friend’s company has no issues with me working from Canada. They would like to hire me; however, they have some issues they must resolve before this can be accomplished. It may not fit into my time-frame for moving to the east coast. I am meeting with her regularly and hoping to hear some good news soon.

Another potential is on the New Brunswick side. Liz is going to provide my resume to her aunt. The aunt’s company seems to be in need of technical writers often and, if they like me, there may be another way to get all the way to New Brunswick on a sooner time frame. So I need to bring my resume up to speed and get it to Liz. Maybe I can interview while I am there on vacation? Or, I may take one step to NH/MA and work for my present company while looking for a more long-term employment solution in New Brunswick.

The big concern for both of us right now is getting some or all of the distance separating our relationship to disappear. As you can see, we are actively working on three options right now, and one of them, while not ideal, allows for a very immediate time-frame for moving, which would be nice. A few hours drive over an all-day, multiple plane excursion would certainly go a long way toward helping us move forward in the relationship.

Hopefully this answers any questions people have about where we stand on the move and shows that we are working on multiple angles on getting me to Canada and to my honey.

Books

The following is a list of books I plan to give away or sell. If you would like anything on the list, please let me know and I'll set it aside for you. First come, first served.

(This is mostly for my California friends-- I'm not sure I want to trek these to Canada! But if you make me a good argument, I may consider it.) ;-)

Softback
1. Crichton, Michael Sphere - - Sci-fi/Fantasy
2. Crichton, Michael Jurassic Park - - Sci-fi/Fantasy
3. David, Peter Sir Apropos of Nothing - - Fantasy/Humor
4. Duncan, Dave The Cutting Edge Part 1 A Handful of Men Fantasy
5. Duncan, Dave Upland Outlaws part 2 A Handful of Men Fantasy
6. Duncan, Dave The Stricken Field part 3 A Handful of Men Fantasy
7. Duncan, Dave The Living God part 4 A Handful of Men Fantasy
8. Jordan, Robert The Eye of the World Part 1 The Wheel of Time Fantasy
9. Jordan, Robert The Great Hunt Part 2 The Wheel of Time Fantasy
10. Jordan, Robert The Dragon Reborn Part 3 The Wheel of Time Fantasy
11. Laws, Stephen Darkfall - - Horror, modern
12. Newman, Kim Anno Dracula - - Horror -- TAKEN (RENEE)
13. Rice, Anne The Vampire Lestat Part 2 Vampire Chronicles Horror/Gothic
14. Rice, Anne Interview with a Vampire Part 1 Vampire Chronicles Horror/Gothic
15. Romkey, Michael I, Vampire - - Horror-- TAKEN (RENEE)
16. Slade, Michael Cutthroat - - Horror, modern
17. Slade, Michael Headhunter - - Horror, modern
18. Slade, Michael Ghoul - - Horror, modern
19. Zelazny, Roger A Night in the Lonesome October - - Sci-fi/fantasy

Hardback
1. De Lint, Charles The Little Country - - Fantasy
2. Duncan, Dave The Great Game 1 Past Imperative Fantasy
3. Feist, Raymond E. A Darkness at Sethanon 3 Riftwar Saga Fantasy -- TAKEN (MATT)
4. Feist, Raymond E. Silverthorn 2 Riftwar Saga Fantasy -- TAKEN (MATT)
5. Feist, Raymond E. Krondor: The Assassins 2 Riftwar Legacy Fantasy -- TAKEN (MATT)
6. Fiest, Raymond E. Prince of the Blood - - Fantasy -- TAKEN (MATT)
7. Fleming, Candace C. and Von Halle, Barbara Handbook of Relational Database Design - - Technical
8. Gould, Steven C. Jumper - - Sci-fi
9. Kay, Guy Gavriel The Summer Tree 1 Fionavar Tapestry Fantasy
10. Kay, Guy Gavriel The Wandering Fire 2 Fionavar Tapestry Fantasy
11. Kay, Guy Gavriel The Darkest Road 3 Fionavar Tapestry Fantasy
12. Moorcock, Michael The Elric Saga 2 (3 books) - Fantasy
13. Moorcock, Michael The Elric Saga 1 (3 books) - Fantasy
14. Moorcock, Michael The Revenge of the Rose - Elric Fantasy
15. Moorcock, Michael The Fortress of the Pearl - Elric Fantasy
16. Saberhagen, Fred The Complete Book of Swords 1,2,3 - Fantasy
17. Seinfeld, Jerry Sein Language - - Humor
18. Shepard, Leslie The Book of Dracula Collection Vampires Horror-- TAKEN (RENEE)

I will take items off the list as they are requested, and I will add more if I find any more to add. I think I may have one or two more boxes of books to go through.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Like a Dog

In case you are wondering why I have not been posting, I have been down for the count for nearly a week. Got sick on Tuesday and was sick through today and I only worked a couple of days during that time.

I am back at work today. I would guesstimate my health at about 80% of normal.

I had an interesting confluence of events occur. I switched to a new medication a few weeks ago and the change is not going smoothly, as yet. The following is the WebMD.com definition of the side effects of this new drug:

Sulfasalazine
This medication may cause stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, drowsiness, dizziness or trouble sleeping during the first few days as your body adjusts to the medication. If these symptoms persist or become severe, inform your doctor.

May cause urine to be orange-brown in color. This is not harmful and will disappear when the medication is stopped.

This medication increases sensitivity to sunlight.

Notify your doctor if your condition worsens or you develop: easy bruising.

Rarely, this medication can cause serious, even fatal, side effects such as a severe peeling skin rash known as Stevens- Johnson syndrome, blood disorders (e.g., agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia), or liver damage. Seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of the following symptoms: skin rash or blisters, unusual fatigue, persistent sore throat or fever, yellowing eyes or skin, dark urine, abdominal pain.

In the unlikely event you have an allergic reaction to this drug, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, trouble breathing.
Please note that the guy with the liver disease is taking a medication that warns about liver damage. *Sigh, Most medications do affect the liver, so there is really no way around that. And my doctor is aware of all my troubles, and he thinks the risks are negligible.

So far, in taking this medication, I have responded with the upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, headache (severe!), sore throat, sensitivity to light, interesting colored urine, and a skin rash. I have been on the phone with the prescribing doctor more than once during this transitional phase.

What was really fun was that this last week I also had a cold. Imagine many of those symptoms listed above combined with a stuffy head, fever, congestion, and a mild cough/minimal sneezing.

Joy.

One of the most interesting problems was sleep—the medication has kicked me back into insomnia while being sick made me want to sleep. I would go to bed and kind of be in a semi-wakeful trance-like state for a long period and then I would crash and sleep like the dead for 2-4 hours.

I feel a little like I am crawling out of it now. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Not sure right now if that light is an opening or if it is the train, but either would be welcome at this point.

Hopefully I will get up to speed shortly. Right now, I feel like I am working in a bit of a fog. But I am working.

Knocks wood.

Friday, June 02, 2006

How American?

You Are 68% American
Most times you are proud to be an American.Though sometimes the good ole US of A makes you cringeStill, you know there's no place better suited to be your home.You love your freedom and no one's going to take it away from you!


___________
Sounds about right.

Isn't it Ironic?

So, I became engrossed watching the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee tonight. I then looked online at their definition of this event:

"We are the nation’s largest and longest-running educational promotion, administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company and 268 sponsors in the United States, Europe, Canada, New Zealand, Guam, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, and American Samoa. Our headquarters office in Cincinnati, Ohio, coordinates the national finals, enrolls sponsors, and produces word lists and study materials. This office operates year round."

"Our purpose is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives."

I looked this up because a Canadian made it to the final two, Finola Hackett. The reason this confused me was the use of the world "National" in the title.

Merriam-Webster online defines "national:"

As an adjective:
"1 : of or relating to a nation
2 : NATIONALIST
3 : comprising or characteristic of a nationality
4 : belonging to or maintained by the federal government
5 : of, relating to, or being a coalition government formed by most or all major political parties usually in a crisis"

As a noun:
"1 : one that owes allegiance to or is under the protection of a nation without regard to the more formal status of citizen or subject
2 : a competition that is national in scope -- usually used in plural"

Now, I'm happy for anyone who can spell well, especially as this is a skill I never developed, and Finola kicked ass to reach second place. All 275 children in the Bee are far superior to me in their ability to spell. And I'm not picking on Finola; first, I was rooting for her to win and, second, there were many children involved from many locations around the world.

I am nitpicking the use of the word "national" by Scripps for what is obviously no longer a national competition. Doesn't this go against their own stated purpose to "develop correct English usage?"

On a serious note-- congratulations to everyone who participated in the Spelling Bee. You handled the pressure, the TV cameras, and the competition with aplomb.