Thursday, May 31, 2001

Last day........
Well, I can honestly say that this job caused more stress and emotional damage on me than it was ever worth, but a part of me is still a bit sad. Things have improved since the new junior writer started, but it's time to move on before I lose all my dina-ness.
I woke up this morning with a toothache, yes, on the last day of my health insurance I have a dental emergency, my teeth have such great timing! I have so far been unable to contact my dentist which is odd because he's normally in by now. My insurance at the new place doesn't kick in for 3 months, but I may be able to make a deal.
Steve and I went for breakfast this morning, the last time we'll be doing that for a while. I had frenchtoast covered in fresh fruit.
I got some parting gifts for the two writers that I work with, some chocolate and a little knick-knack for their desks and a thank you card. I'm glad that I'm leaving on good terms.

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Two days
We went to the Biosphere last night to check out the wedding space. The tent is up now, so we could get a good idea of how things were going to work. The tent is much bigger than I thought, which is good! There is ample room for mingling and dancing. It was cold yesterday and there was a very cool breeze blowing off the St Lawrence. We hope that we'll get a warm, windless evening, but if we don't, most things will have to be in the tent I guess. We'll work out plans for inside and outside. If it's warm, the sides of the tent can be rolled up as well. We have access to the lookout as early as 3pm, so if we want to decorate anything, we can. We have to go again with the caterers in June, at that point I might bring the video camera and regular camera and take some pictures of the site so that we can show a few people and ask their advice about what should go where.

I think that my chest cold has resurrected itself, my cough is back. I'm hoping that I can get rid of it before Monday, it's terrible to start a new job with a cold. I also have so much to do that I can't be sick right now. I think that I'll just ignore it and it will go away.

I've been looking at home design magazines lately and trying to come up with some neat ideas for storage and stuff. The bedroom closets are stupidly small in the new place. There's a large one in one of the back rooms, but the others are those shallow ones. I have too much clothing for that! We'll probably build a few eventually, but for the time being we'll need something.

I'm dreading goodbyes tomorrow. Despite the fact that I'm not that attached to this job, I still know that I will be sentimental about leaving this place.

Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Yay! Steve found me movers for June 25. They're not too expensive either. Yippee!
Three more days
Yesterday we found out that Steve's movers can't move my stuff, so an alternate arrangement must be found. Let's hope that it will be affordable and won't involve me begging friends to lug boxes up the stairs......I'm too old to move like that. It was fine when I had half the crap that I do now, but my junk has multiplied and become heavier over the years. I hate moving, ok, everyone does, but I really hate it. My reaction to moving is usually sitting in the middle of a pile of boxes and weeping uncontrollably. I still haven't started packing yet, I know that I have to, but it's so hard to get started when you have so much junk that hasn't moved in 5 years and you only have week nights after work to get stuff done. Time to stop being pathetic and do it.
We looked at the new place again and of course it's smaller than we remembered it to be and needs some repairs that we hadn't seen. We will probably have to get someone in to plaster and prime the walls because we just don't have the time to do it ourselves. We will paint after we move in and have a clue what colour the walls should be. The good news is that we bought the dishwasher, it's a frigidaire, one year old, and the guy's leaving shelves and possibly ceiling fans. He gave us the key so that we could let ourselves in once they move, now that's a trusting guy!

Monday, May 28, 2001

4 more days..............
The countdown has begun! The weekend was alright. We went to the wedding of one of Steve's oldest friends. The reception was at the Chinese Gardens at the Botanical Gardens, so beautiful! There was some drizzle, but it was a nice evening. They did a finger food buffet, so it gave us a good idea of how much food and booze we'll need. I think that we're in good shape.
My back was feeling much better until this morning, I think it's because I was tired. Maybe I should book a massage before my medical benefits run out here.....

Friday, May 25, 2001

Back pain
Holy cow, Dina, I wondered that I hadn't heard from you! I hope you and your back is feeling better. Have you thought about maybe visiting a massage therapist or physiotherapist? Nothing beats rest, but a massage might help (after the spasms die down, I can't think it would be nice to have anyone touching me if I was spasing out like that. I'll ask my mt. At the very least a consultation could be useful. There are different levels of massage, from relaxation to therapeutic, as well as different needs for it, so it may be worth checking out. It's not for everyone and therapists can range from new-agey to no-nonsense practical. Anyway, an alternative or maybe complement to relaxants. But. Maybe this will help: http://www.qwl.com/mtwc/guide/whatis.html and http://www.qwl.com/mtwc/guide/ and maybe this one: http://www.bodyscapemt.com/.
Sucks about your dragon landlady...eat rocks, lady! (no, not you...:-) )
Children in the workplace I don't have children, but from observing my co-workers who do, I don't think it's easy for them even though they may appear to get privileges. They're in fact often more stressed because if something comes up at work and they HAVE to be there, it's harder for them because they're not with their kids, it puts stress on the family, finding babysitters, etc.,e tc, whereas with the single, kidless folk, it's not always a big deal, or at least, it doesn't seem as if there's at much at stake. Frankly, I've always thought the single, childless life seemed rather easy compared to being a parent (although yes, I've heard that nothing beats the life experience and richness of being a parent; easily believable). I don't think I've ever heard anyone say the parents aren't pulling their weight. If anything, they've tended to be more mature and capable about things. One of my co-workers is a single mother with two teens and she's one of the best managers I've ever come across. Her team respects her. One of the lead testers here has kids, has had a rough time lately with parents, and yet, he's still sharp and on top of things. In fact, our VP Operations has kids, works a half day week, which is sometimes inconvenient in terms of getting meeting time with her, but oh boy, is she good at her job, and it's a tough one. (So was her job before she was promoted to VP) No one disputes that she's not right for it. If she has privileges, she's earned them.
Parental Privilege or a More Inclusive Workplace?

Sorry to hear about your back, Dina. Here's hoping that some good R&R over the weekend puts you back on track.

Saw an article on Fast Company's site that really got me thinking. Called Women With Children First?, it talks about a growing feeling in the workplace that parents are somehow putting an unfair burden on already overworked colleagues by making their colleagues pick up the slack when they can't work as many hours and take on as much responsibility as the others. This article is especially timely for me as I've just requested and been granted a 4-day work week. After almost a year of working full time, then going home to my second role as mom of 2 small kids, it finally hit me smack in the face that I just can't do it all. I decided that my family life had to take precedence over my work and that even if it meant less possibility of advancement, lower wage increases, etc., that was the choice I had to make. (I'm fully aware here that I'm priviliged enough financially to be able to make this choice and that many women don't have this option.) But now, I read that in making this choice, I'm putting undue hardship on my colleagues who may resent the "privileges" I'm enjoying.

I've been on both sides now and I remember in my twenties feeling as if my thirty-something colleagues with kids were somehow being given unfair advantage because they were parents, and that they were not always pulling their weight. The article talks to people on both sides and also talks to a dad who was not given much leeway for parental responsibilities because he was a man. I was just wondering about how other people feel about this. Do you feel parents in the workplace are given special privileges and are they merited? Do parents in general pull their weight as employees or are they the "lightweights" on the team? I'd appreciate hearing about your experiences and opinions...
My neighbour, the gas leak and my back
Well, it's been an interesting couple of days. Wednesday while I was at work, a crew from the city of Montreal removed an old tree stump from the front of my apartment building. Of course, being the city of Montreal, they severed a gas main and several blocks had to be evacuated. While this was happening, the firefighters and my landlady were going from apartment to apartment, checking for people and turning off gas stoves. My neighbour is a retired university English professor who owns about a billion books. I agreed to sublet my apartment to him so that he could use my place as a sort of library, his apartment is already full to bursting with books. I spoke to the landlady and she said that it was no problem. The landlady had one look in my neighbour's apartment and apparently it was enough to change her mind about renting him the apartment. She called me yesterday and went on for 45 minutes about the state of the place and how she couldn't let him wreck another apartment. I am without a renter at this point and very pissed off at her because everyone in the building knows that she has been in the apartments to check things out for herself from time to time when her tenants are out. If push comes to shove, I'll let her find another tenant.
Yesterday morning I went out and moved my car because the city of Montreal had to cap and fill in the mess they made the day before. I got out of the car, got half-way across the street and my entire lower back spasmed. I almost dropped right there. I spent the day downing muscle relaxants and sleeping in bed. Today I'm at work because I'm hoping if I move around a bit my back will loosen up and I have a bunch of stuff to do.

Tuesday, May 22, 2001

The gig is up!
Well, I gave my two week notice last Friday from SureFire and will be starting at Silanis June 4. I'm hoping that the move will be good for everyone. The resignation went fairly well, I burnt no bridges and nobody yelled at me, it's a relief to get it out of the way.

Friday, May 18, 2001

A cool and froody man
Reading about Douglas Adams brings back some happy memories. I had some good laughs, thanks to his books and with every passing year, and with the ever-increasing craziness and nuttiness of life in North America, I appreciate his sense of humour even more. Laughing is better than hiding under a bush in the woods, anyway. Healthier, etc. I was going to write something else actually, but I totally forgot what it was. Anyway, I enjoyed your description, Kathy, of his talk to the STC Conference. Something about that reminds me of the "What, Me Dead?" cover that Time Magazine did for Alfred E. Neuman whan he died. Priceless. That was it: your comment: /The same thing can be said when we sit down and document a piece of software, things get in the way of trying to communicate, like a terrible interface, a programmer who barely understands any language you know how to speak, or just plain fuzzy thinking. Adams had plenty to say about that as well and naturally it was funny/. Oh, yeah.
Cheers, all.

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Return from Chi town
Hey there! Well, I'm tired and my brain is full from the STC conference at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. I wish I had had more time in that city. It was my first time there, and it was fantastic! Beautiful buildings and nice people. Here are a couple of pictures to give you an idea:



All I can say is wow!! I will have notes on the conference and details about my site seeing a bit later when I have some time to type it up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

A very modest tribute to the late Mr. Adams
The death of Douglas Adams comes at a time that is so coincidental, it coincides with the STC Conference. Relevance you ask? What does he have to do with the STC? Well, let me tell you. I heard Douglas Admas speak at the first (and only) STC conference I have ever attended in New York in 1991. He was the keynote speaker and what a keynote speech it was. To put it mildly, he was extremely interesting and entertaining. I could have sat and listened to him all day even if he had chosen to recite the entire Manhattan phone book, and that would have been far more interesting than some of the people I was forced to listen to who insisted on droning throughout the conference.

His talk and I can remember the topic quite well, had todo with how we communicate and what we do to get in the way of that communication. To explain this problem he talked about how porpoises and dolphins use their sonar to talk to each other and that their form of communication is so pure and simple that they can't possibly be misunderstood. Except when you put man into the equation you create a problem. The problem is man has filled the oceans with boats, ships and all kinds of noisy equipment (in addition to the pollution which also adds to the problem). Adams was part of some study whereby the researchers were putting microphones in the water to record and measure the sounds in the ocean.

The story was punctuated with alot of interesting sound effects that he made himself plus alot of colourful language (some people were slightly offended, but most weren't. The ones who were slightly offended turned out to be jerks anyway.) Anyway, his point was that you add technology into the equation, you get noise and you get confusion. The porpoises and dolphins as it turned out had a very hard time understanding each other with some rather disasterous results. The same thing can be said when we sit down and document a piece of software, things get in the way of trying to communicate, like a terrible interface, a programmer who barely understands any language you know how to speak, or just plain fuzzy thinking. Adams had plenty to say about that as well and naturally it was funny.

After the conference was over, the STC offered each Chapter a copy of the videotape of his talk (on loan only) so that it could be replayed at a Chapter meeting. I have a confession, I got the tape, did present it to the Montreal Chapter (it was a bit fuzzy and badly copied, but hey, that was 1991) but in spite of that I never returned it as I felt that it was a great memento of a very important time in my professional development. The STC gave up asking me for it back many years ago and I think I still have the tape tucked away in a box somewhere. Another confession, I have never read any of his books and never listened to the series on radio. Maybe it's time to round out my reading.....

His death came before he was done and I think had he known he only had 10 more years when I saw him speak would he have done it differently? I hope not. I think he was a breath of fresh air that is timeless no matter when or where you live.

So for those of you in this blog who are in Chicago right now, I hope that the experience of the conference is as wonderful and has as much meaning for you as it did for me 10 years ago.

Saturday, May 12, 2001

So long and thanks for all the fish Mr. Adams.....
One of my all time favorite writers, Douglas Adams, died Friday and even though his writing will continue to be enjoyed (he is a fond memory of my adolescence), I feel that the world is a little less irreverent today for his loss. Seems like just yesterday that I was reading about Arthur Dent squelching in the mud in the path of the oncoming bulldozer for the first time. Perhaps he finally knows the question to the answer 42. "How many years do I have on this earth plus seven?" How very sad. Here's his Web site.
On a lighter note, I'm off to Chicago tomorrow morning and returning Wednesday evening. I'll talk to you on Thursday!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

It's here, it's finally here! Now I just have to wait until it's cheap enough to afford.....Welcome to MYST III: Exile
Ya know it's deadline time when the jokes start flying...
-from one of my co-workers:
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
Favras, Thomas de Mahay, Marquis de (1744-1790)
"I see that you have made three spelling mistakes."
The Marquis de Favras was caught by the radicals of the French Revolution as he plotted to help Louis XVI escape. Convicted of treason after a two month trial, he was handed his official death sentence by the court clerk as he was led to the scaffold.

Friday, May 04, 2001

Like pretty well half the planet, I tuned into Survivor last night. What a let-down. I was rooting for Tina all along and at the end, Colby's surprising vote against Keith (to keep Tina in the game) really changed my mind about him. Colby was a real gentleman and a straight-shooter. And he really was the more deserving one of the final two, having won a slew of immunity challenges that were physical, mental and emotional tests of character. I think people voted for the nicest person, but not the most deserving one. But Tina's surprising victory really says a lot about the power of interpersonal intelligence. I mean, here's a person who won no challenges (except, possibly, for the one she gave to Keith) but who managed to stay out there and visible and contribute to the group through positive leadership and unwavering teammanship. And she made it through that incredibly gruelling Darwinian process without managing to offend anybody. That's quite an achievement. Call it the victory of the nice, I guess. Almost seemed too nice to be true at times.

But the real disappointment was the way they waited to announce the results until people got back. They built up all that momentum only to ruin it with the change of scenery for the final results and with the Sears catalogue-type makeover they gave to the final two. Both looked infinitely more interesting and attractive when they were all scruffy and smelly in the Outback. Add that to the cheap'n cheezy styrofoam Tribal Council set and it was just so contrived, it bugged me to no end.

End of rant.

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

I actually spent an hour at the Andy Foulds site yesterday, or at least that's where I started and then meandered through numerous links. A great way to kill/lose/ waste/spend an hour (choose the verb that best applies to your mood and situation). Some of the things I saw were downright annoying...like taking too long to load, requiring even more plugins, flashes that don't allow you even to figure out what they are...I know, I know, that's part of the art. On the positive side, there was lots to intrigue and keep up the interest and keep you trying things out. I particularly liked the wireframe stuff (the balls that collide, things that pivot and stretch...) Now I'm trying to imagine our website with some of this stuff, particularly on the bulletins part of the site or better yet, The Rules...I always felt that those needed to be a little more lively. (For those of you who are members of this blog who didn't work at CDS, all you need to know is we're a boring company and have been likened to being plankton by a member of the print media.)

I felt it my duty today to post something since one of our main contributors is obviously under the weather and has not been well enough to visit.

Hope you get better soon Dina!

As for the rest of you, (that is if it applies...) Back to work!!!! ; - 0

Cool! Fould's site is PHENOMENAL! Love the design! Made me think of this, http://www.davebeckerman.com/ , which isn't as whiz-bang, but if you're into black and white photography, it's worth a visit. Double-cool! You get to go to the conference! Lucky you! Tell about it when you get back!