Uncategorized

Archived Posts from this Category

Thoughts while waiting for the coffee to brew

Posted by Office-Bob on 24 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Sometimes the traffic is with me and I’ll arrive at the office before anyone else does; this means I make the first pot of coffee.

I really don’t mind doing this - in fact I enjoy it because it allows me to ensure I get a fresh cup, which is something that doesn’t always happen if you’re not one of the first people in the office.

As I was waiting for the coffee, I unloaded the dishwasher in the breakroom. I could say that I was doing this to be a good corporate citizen but, if truth be told, the main reason for doing this was to make sure I was there when the coffee was ready. Have you ever started a pot of coffee and left the kitchen, only to be distracted and come back after everyone else has grabbed coffee? It’s even worse if the person who took the last cup is one of those bastards who doesn’t make a fresh pot (one of the many who will be brought to justice when I become Emperor of the World).

As I unloaded the dishwasher and put stuff away, my mind wandered in various directions:

  • Need to do a “beauty pass” on our website using IE
  • Forgetting your gym clothes this morning was stupid, but since fencing starts gain tonight you’ll likely be sore enough tomorrow that you’ll be glad you didn’t work out today
  • I wonder how long this nice weather is going to last?
  • How much longer before the coffee is ready?
  • What should I have for lunch?
  • You know, the deep thoughts.

    Eventually, the dishwasher was emptied and refilled with the dishes left in the sink overnight (hey, if you’re gonna do dishwasher duty you owe it to people to go all the way) and the coffee was done. I filled my mug and headed back to my desk for the thrills and excitement of eating a breakfast burrito and drinking coffee while watching MSNBC Countdown, slowing easing myself into the work day.

    Hey, it keeps me off the streets.

    Popularity: 17% [?]

    Antoine: 2004 (?) - 2009

    Posted by Office-Bob on 29 Jun 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

    Enough time has passed for me to be able to put this in words.

    After the sudden death of Max I was between pets and was looking for another rabbit, so in the fall of 2004 I went to the Vancouver SPCA to see what bunnies they had. I had a few specific things I was looking for: I didn’t want a lop or a dwarf, and I wanted a larger rabbit with big ears.

    After looking around I found a brown rabbit of unknown pedigree named Antonia; she needed a home so I “borrowed” her for a week to make sure we were a good fit. After the week had gone by I was sure I wanted her so I filled out the paperwork and she was mine.

    When you get a shelter animal you’re expected to have them spayed or neutered if it hasn’t already been done, so I made an appointment with the vet to have her spayed. When I went to pick her up after surgery the vet asked me into his office and informed me that it wasn’t until they’d opened her up that they noticed that not only didn’t she have any girl bits, she’d never had any– she was a neutered male. So much for assuming the shelter staff knew how to check a rabbit’s sex.

    Anyway, from that point on Antonia was known as Antoine.

    My rabbits have tended to have unusual names such as Judah Bun-Hur, “KISS’s Toblerone” (the pedigree name of Toby), Chip (so called because he had a piece missing from one ear, the result of a difficult birth), and Max (named after one of the characters in the Sam and Max Computer game series). Antoine’s full name was:

    “Louisiana Back Bay Bayou Bunny Bordelais, a la Antoine.”

    (Yeah, I like Bugs Bunny cartoons – so sue me)

    I’m sure unnecessary surgery didn’t improve his disposition any, but Antoine was always a bit of a cranky fellow. He never bit, but he certainly didn’t like it when you made sudden moves around him – rabbits are prey animals but I’ve been around enough of them to know that his reactions were a bit more pronounced than usual. While I don’t know for sure, my guess is that he was either a school pet or kept by kids who would poke him through the bars of his cage.

    Still, Antoine settled into our lives and made himself at home. Even though he was never a snuggle bunny you could tell that he enjoyed being petted because he’d get up from wherever he was watching the world go by and come over to pester you when he felt you weren’t giving him the proper amount of attention. He especially enjoyed having his ears lightly stroked and strangely enough, if you scratched his butt he’d start reflexively licking the floor.

    Everything was going well until a few weeks ago when he stopped eating. In rabbits this is Not A Good Thing and we started taking steps to resolve the problem; things seemed to be improving when he suddenly took a turn for the worse.

    I was downstairs with him when he suddenly hopped upstairs to visit my wife (she said he ran around and binkied a couple of times) and as he came downstairs I heard a loud thump as if he’d lost his balance and fallen. I found him lying at the bottom of the stairs, breathing heavily, and before I could do anything he had what appeared to be a heart attack and died.

    I think he knew his time was coming and he wanted to say goodbye before he went, which is why he went upstairs that one last time.



    Good bye, Antoine. I miss you.

    Popularity: 29% [?]

    Can I get the baked beans without the SPAM?

    Posted by Office-Bob on 09 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

    Dear Carolina Marino, also known as
    linda2008@canada.com
    :

    Starting 4 days ago you’ve been sending spam to one of our company email addresses with the subject line of TRUST IN THE LORD and in the body of the email the word “NULL.”

    I won’t get into a religious discussion over your message content (though I think “NULL” is apt), but I wanted to take a few minutes to express my extreme annoyance with receiving the same piece of spam once every 5 minutes. I’m thinking there’s one of two possibilities here:

    1) Since the email address doesn’t “match” the sender name, it’s some sort of fake account set up for whatever reason;

    2) Your email address has been hijacked by a spambot.

    I don’t know which and frankly, I really don’t care. I’ll discuss this with our IT people to see if we can’t get the spam filter tweaked but in the meantime, I’m placing your name and email address here in the hopes the various spiders/bots/harvesters that work the Web will pick them up and put you on all sorts of spam lists, so you know the joy I’m going through.

    After all, the Golden Rule says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you…and Carolina/Linda, you started it.

    Popularity: 20% [?]

    THE NEXUS: RESOLUTIONS

    Posted by Office-Bob on 08 Dec 2007 | Tagged as: Uncategorized, General Craziness

    As discussed in a previous entry, I planned to take advantage of the NEXUS lane when I traveled to Seattle this past weekend.

    I didn’t bother going to one of the NEXUS-equipped border crossings on the way down because I didn’t expect there to be enough of a lineup during a Friday morning to make it necessary; considering that it took me 20 minutes to get through the lineup, and that was at a lesser-used station, I may need to rethink that strategy the next time I head south.

    Anyway, life goes on.

    I finished my weekend revelry and prepared to head back to Canada, but first I had to fill out the Traveler’s Declaration Card. If you don’t remember what it looks like, here you go.

    First, you must decide if you’re going to report the value in US or Canadian dollars – exchange rate jokes aside, it made sense to fill it out in USD as that’s what I’d purchased everything with and I didn’t feel like dealing with currency conversion. You also have to mark which exemption you qualify for based on how long you were out of the country.

    Next, determine if the majority of items you purchased were made in the US or “Other;” forget shopping with no thought of the consequences – now you have to carefully check the labels or packaging to determine how much of your hard-earned cash has gone to foreign sweatshops and how much stayed at home with the US sweatshops.

    Now, let’s break everything down by category so, should there be duty owed, they know how much to charge you. Fortunately, the book of TDCs comes with a list of categories and what items fall under which category. Unfortunately, sometimes a specific item isn’t listed and you either have to make like Sherlock Holmes to figure out how to claim it or take the easy way out (wimp!) and class it as Category 4, “miscellaneous goods not elsewhere specified.”

    After this you must fill out the total dollar amount (including taxes) for each category and enter it in the appropriate field(s)…and then mark in the little bubbles the dollar value, rounded up or down to the nearest five dollars.

    Booze and tobacco are so special that they get their own separate section – isn’t that precious?

    Sign and date the card - but be careful not to colour outside the lines because, if you do, you might be assessed for booze or smokes you don’t have. Considering how much money the government brings in with “sin taxes” that’s a good reason to watch what you’re doing.

    Got that? It’s easy – but you’d better have it done before you get to the border because the idea is to drop off the card in “the blue box in front of the NEXUS booth” as you go through and I’d imagine they’ll take a dim view of somebody holding up the line because they hadn’t completed their paperwork. If you owe any duty or taxes it will be charged to the credit card number you supplied during the enrollment process.

    As I neared the Blaine, WA border crossing (one of the few with a NEXUS lane), I realized that the separate lane is close enough to the border that if there’s a sufficiently large backlog you’re still going to have to do a fair bit of waiting before you can escape from the herd – still, it’s better than nothing.

    It’s a good thing there was someone in front of me so I, a NEXUS virgin, could watch them…wave their hand outside their car? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? It took me a few seconds to realize there were sensor pads mounted on a post and that the driver was holding his NEXUS card in his hand but when my turn came to move forward I did the same thing. I wasn’t sure how long I had to hold the card out but I must have done it long enough because, when I got to the booth and warned the Customs official that I was new to this, he told me I’d done just fine. I had also been worried that I hadn’t seen a box to stick my TDC in but he asked for it there so I guess the Blaine crossing doesn’t use the boxes – that, or the flyer I was given during my NEXUS interview wasn’t accurate.

    Since we’re talking about government bureaucracy, I’ll leave that alone for now.

    With the TDC handed over, my re-entry to Canada was complete and I was able to go on my merry way.

    All in all, the process of crossing the border seemed rather anti-climactic considering the hoops I’d jumped through to get to this point, but at least I have done a land crossing without incident. I have my annual fireworks convention coming up next February which will be the first time I’ll be doing the iris scan, so we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.

    Popularity: 31% [?]

    He are Marshall

    Posted by Office-Bob on 04 May 2007 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

    Kevin Costner is back on the silver screen, this time as a serial killer in Mr. Brooks.

    Earl Brooks has a lovely wife (played by Marg Helgenberger, who’s wasted in the role), a daughter who wants to join him in the family business, and a penchant for murdering people that manifests itself in Marshall, his alter ego, played in a delightfully creepy manner by William Hurt. It’s been 2 years since the “Thumbprint Killer” last struck but the urge has come upon Mr. Brooks again, and he succumbs to it…

    …unfortunately, he makes a mistake and ends up being blackmailed by a man who took pictures of him at the crime scene. The blackmailer, however, isn’t interested in money - he wants Brooks to take him along the next time he kills.

    While Brooks/Marshall is trying to figure out how to deal with the situation, he’s faced with an obsessed police detective (played by Demi Moore) who is trying to catch the Thumbprint Killer while battling her own demons, most notably a soon-to-be ex-husband who’s asking for millions in support (the idea of a cop with a net worth in the tens of millions, while explained later on, is unsatisfying and only serves to set Moore’s character up as a suspect when the inevitable happens) and a prison escapee who vowed revenge on her for sending him away.

    If that weren’t enough, Brooks’ daughter has dropped out of college, at first claiming it’s because she wants to join her father at his box company but later saying it’s because she’s pregnant. Marshall, however, knows there’s something else she isn’t telling Daddy and when the truth eventually comes out, it upsets Brooks’ tidy little world even more.

    While there were a number of plot holes, not to mention goings-on that just didn’t seem necessary, the movie was quite good. One of the small touches that I liked was that when Brooks was discussing things with Marshall it wasn’t done in the stereotypical manner where the person is seen talking out loud to themselves, making others wonder what exactly is going on - you could tell that this was solely an internal dialogue and those around Brooks were unaware of what was going on inside his mind.

    I’ve seen better thrillers but I’ve also seen worse. I’m on the fence about recommending this at full-price but if you like Costner and/or Hurt, I’d say go for it.

    Popularity: 94% [?]

    Family Ties

    Posted by Office-Bob on 19 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

    In the past, I’ve been careful to avoid posting anything about my “day jobs” because either:

    1) I’d be complaining about something, or

    2) I’d be violating a non-disclosure agreement.

    However, a project I’ve been involved with has been freed from the confines of the office, and I like it so much I thought I’d spread the word.

    It’s called Kinzin and it’s a social networking site designed specifically for families. It allows you to record family events, archive recipes, create photo albums, and even create journals so everybody in your family, no matter where they are, can keep track of what’s going on.

    If that isn’t enough to make you rush out and sign up, right now Kinzin is offering a Mother’s Day giveaway where the first 3000 families who qualify can get a free personalized photo book…if you’ve been wondering what to get your mom for Mother’s Day, this might be just the ticket.

    If you’ve been looking for a way to bring your family together, check it out - it could be what you’re looking for. It’s free to join…and if you ask me nicely, I just might invite you to join the Office-Bob family.

    Popularity: 17% [?]

    The Road to Western Winter Blast, Part Two

    Posted by Office-Bob on 16 Feb 2007 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

    Your humble scribe has successfully embedded himself in the London Bridge Resort in Lake Havasu City, AZ where this entry is currently being prepared.

    The flight from PDX to LAS was better than uneventful as I was able to snag a first class upgrade, although there was a substantial amount of luck involved - when the gate agent announced that there were 2 upgrades available, I was about as far away from the desk as you could get without being at a different gate, plus I had my laptop out. Fortunately, there were only 3 people interested in paying for the upgrade and even with having to close the laptop and grab my carry-on bags (laptop and camcorder), I was Number Two.

    The result was free drinks, hot roasted nuts, and more seat/leg room for the flight. It’s always a risk that a seat upgrade won’t be available but I’d rather take the chance and only pay $50 USD than pay the hundreds more that it would cost when I first book my flight.

    Side note: the noise-cancelling earbuds again proved their worth; I estimate they cut the ambient noise level by about 50%.

    I didn’t time how long I had to wait before my suitcase dropped onto the baggage carousel, but it wasn’t longer than 30-45 minutes and although I was one of many with a black suitcase, I was able to easily identify it from the lime-green luggage tags I’d used.

    Car rental was straightforward, although I had a few extra spots on the rental agreement to initial because I waived the extra insurance - I’m covered through my own car insurance (I even have a nifty little card that I can show uppity rental clerks if needed, although it wasn’t this time). I used my Air Miles points for the rental so even though there are certain charges, fees and taxes that I have to pay it’ll still be less than I’d be paying normally.

    We rented a Chevrolet HHR; it’s a pretty nice car with a decent amount of room, although it took me a while to stop whacking my right knee against the centre console when I got in. The trip to Havasu was uneventful (NV to AZ with a section that passes through CA),check-in was easy and our suite is nice - it has a decent kitchenette with toaster, toaster oven, 2-burner stovetop, blender, coffeemaker, microwave, sink, dishwasher and fridge. We made a trip to the grocery store for supplies, then settled in for a nap before heading out to SARA Park for WWB registration.

    After registration (and ritual attachment of the plain orange wristband) we attended the mandatory safety seminar (mandatory in the sense that if you want to buy and shoot any product you have to listen to some very basic information); at the end our plain orange wristbands were removed and replaced with shiny silver bands with holographic stars.

    The Class C vendor’s tent was still being set up so I didn’t take any pictures; I’ll do that later and post the results in another entry. Before we left the park, we signed up for some line safety duty (for thump junkies on a budget this is a great way to get your pyro fix without spending any of your own money on fireworks).

    As there was nothing else to do after that - the main part of the convention starts on Friday - we returned to the hotel with a quick stop on the way to get some dinner munchies: deep-fried chicken livers, marinated mushrooms, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and olives with garlic. We returned to the room and watched Les Miserables while ensuring we followed the First Rule of Garlic:

    Everybody in the group must consume garlic in order to maintain social stability.

    We washed down our casual repast with a bottle of Blue Monkey Zinfandel (we agreed that a red wine would go well with our meal, and this wine was selected - not by me - because of the “cute label”) which was quite good; I’m not normally a big fan of reds but this is one that I’d buy again.

    I’m participating in a Safety Q&A seminar this morning and there was supposed to be a breakfast meeting with the other participants to discuss the seminar…unfortunately, I forgot to bring the cell # of the person running it. I sent her an e-mail and I’m hoping she gets in touch with me but if not, I’ll show up at the seminar and play it by ear.

    Popularity: 18% [?]

    The Road to Western Winter Blast, Part One

    Posted by Office-Bob on 14 Feb 2007 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

    I am sitting at gate C1 in the Portland International Airport (PDX for those who care, and PDX for those who don’t care), waiting until my connecting flight to Vegas is ready to depart - which, if the schedule is adhered to, will be in about 90 minutes.

    It’s trips like these that make me wonder why international travellers are supposed to arrive at the airport 2 hours before departure to ensure clearing Customs and Immigration…I can see the need during “normal” hours, but even with the large number of people being run through the system at 5 am I was through Customs and the security check in 30 minutes.

    I also wonder why some airports (MSP and COS, for example) will make you remove your belt and shoes but YVR doesn’t require you to remove your belt. Oh well, if us mere mortals understood the thought processes (or what passes for thought) of the TSA, it would very likely result in a massive increase in belt-related security incidents.

    This trip is the first time I’ve flown since I purchased my Philips SHN060 noise-cancelling earbuds and I’m quite pleased with the results - the YVR to PDX leg of my trip is on a DeHavilland Q200 prop-driven commuter plane the the noise-cancelling system took the cabin noise down a decent amount…I look forward to finding out how well they work on a jet.

    I’d also like to give kudos to PDX for providing free wireless access, which is how I’m able to post this entry while I wait for my next flight.

    The flight to Vegas (aka LAS) will take about 2 hours, and then there’s another couple of hours that I’ll spend driving to Lake Havasu…considering that I got no sleep last night and only dozed a little bit while waiting for the first flight, I don’t anticipate any problems falling asleep tonight.

    Popularity: 18% [?]

    At least I know I’m not completely stupid

    Posted by Office-Bob on 08 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Uncategorized, General Craziness

    This week marks what is, to me, a momentous occasion: I can now use formatting quicktags in WordPress.

    To some of you this may seem like a crazy thing to say but if you’re a Safari user like me, you know that it wasn’t until the most recent release of WP (2.0.6) that quicktags have been available to Safari users.

    (If you’re still living under a rock, Safari is Mac OS X’s built-in web browser. Yes, I use a Mac; leave the platform wars elsewhere.)

    I’d tried installing the WYSIWYG plug-in but had had no luck in getting it to work which I assumed was due to my own incompetence, but now I know that my incompetence had nothing to do with it…which makes me a happy bunny.

    I know that in the grand scheme of things it isn’t a big deal, but if it means that I won’t have to refer to the various HTML “cheat sheets” I keep handy so I don’t have to manually code things like image links and the like, it’s a big win as far as I’m concerned.

    Now, I can click a button and have things like:

  • Bullets
  • Quotes

    Italic
    and Bold

    without having to spend time trying to remember what code is used for which.

    Okay, I’ll admit that it’s easy enough to remember HTML for bold and italic, but that’s not the point. Sure, it’s somewhat lazy - after all, we’re not talking about a lot of typing effort - but as far as I’m concerned anything that streamlines the creating process is A Good Thing.

    Popularity: 21% [?]

    A message to my American readers…

    Posted by Office-Bob on 07 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: Uncategorized, Rants

    PLEASE VOTE.

    That’s all.

    I’m not gonna tell you who to vote for, but I will tell you that you need to make your voice heard - preferably by studying all of the issues and candidates on your ballot, then making an informed decision…even if it comes down to “the lesser of two evils.”

    For the record, I have dual American/Canadian citizenship and vote in every election.

    I love absentee ballots.

    I hate Diebold.

    I hate people who bitch and moan about government and don’t take the time/effort to cast their votes.

    I hate that personal freedoms are being eroded.

    I hate that the system tries to play on our fears.

    I love living in a country where I can still have a say in what happens.

    I hate thinking that even if I vote, it may not make a damn bit of difference - however, if you don’t play the game, you lose your right to complain about how it turns out.

    In other words…

    PLEASE VOTE.

    Thank you.

    Popularity: 23% [?]