Jul. 2nd, 2016 04:46 pm
plonq: (Comparatively Miffed Mood)
I am back in Winnipeg just long enough to make a batch of garlic scape pesto and wash my underwear, then I am back to Calgary for another week of training.

This week and the next are all about the mechanical side of running a train. We are not quite getting to the level of detail where we could disassemble an SD40 and put it back together, but I could power one up from scratch if I needed to get it out of a siding. In some respects, I think this week has covered almost as much material as the last two weeks combined, and we are only halfway through the course. They are definitely compressing the material for the management trainees.

One bit that amused me was that the instructor kept stressing the importance of remembering the six critical components of a diesel locomotive, and reminded us repeatedly over the course of the week that we would need to remember then for the test. Then he accidentally left them up on the whiteboard on test day. I doubt any of us needed the reminder by that point, but I found it no less amusing.

For the record, they are: Fuel, Electrical, Cooling Water, Compressed Air, Engine & Equipment Air and Lubrication System.

I'm keeping up my Picture-A-Day project, even while working out of Calgary. I have very little free time while I am out there, so they mostly consist of "phone pictures of things I saw while walking down the street". At some point I need to go through my vacation pictures from our trip to the coast and upload more of those.


Time is such a premium commodity these days.

I caught a couple of crows in action at the water's edge when we were in Victoria. I am so used to seeing them scavenge their meals from the garbage that it was a bit odd seeing them finding natural food in the wild.

Fisherman's Wharf was not quite as touristy when I lived in Victoria. I'm sure it was there, but I never had any cause to head down there. It's very picturesque - especially when you play around with tilt shift.

I snapped this out the window of the plane as we were coming into Winnipeg last night. You can't see it in this shot, but there were fireworks going off everywhere in the city. The plane was filled with exaltations of "ooh" and "ahh" from people with their faces pressed to the windows.

When we visited my brother over Christmas, Gaia refused to come out from under mom's bed. This time around she is more used to people, and she is really quite friendly and personable.

When we got our Master Card bill from our trip, it was quite clear that we spent a couple of weeks living beyond our means. It's nice to feel rich for little stretches here and there, but our creditors are always waiting to bring us back to reality.
plonq: (Braiiiins)
I haven't bailed on LJ, there has just been a lot happening in my life lately. Sadly, the more interesting things I have to talk about, the less time I have to talk about it here.

I'm flying off to Calgary tomorrow for the start of two weeks of mechanical training. I will try and squeeze in a few updates while I'm sitting in my hotel room in the evenings if they don't give us as much study material as we got in the last few weeks.

In the meantime, I am still taking and posting a picture every day.

I decided that missing a day in February was not the end of the world.

In the end, it's better to just be mostly a failure than a complete failure.

Though one has to keep a realistic grasp on what that means. There are different levels of failure.

You can find the full set (obviously less one day) up on my Flickr page.
plonq: (Little Stinker)
I bought a new belt today because I am growing tired of having my pants in constant danger of falling down. It's a cheap one, but it is just an interim belt to tide me over until I get a proper one. I suppose there are bigger problems in life than shrinking out of my wardrobe.

I had a ghost pepper burrito for dinner this evening. It was good, and it seemed like a much better idea at the time then it will probably seem when I go to bed in about ten minutes. I am not a wise man.
plonq: (Crashing Mood)
I came to a decision on my 2016 picture-a-day project - rather, I decided to settle on a lack of decision. I've kept taking pictures just because I've been doing it all year, I just won't feel the sense of urgency if I am in danger of missing a day because that has already happened.

The farmers' market opened for the season this weekend. There as not much in the way of produce to be had, but all of the craft vendors were out, and the public showed up in droves. In previous years, opening day has often been cool and rainy, but Saturday was warm (almost hot) and dry. The lemonade stand was loving it.

We drove down to the International Peace Garden yesterday. We have tossed around the idea of heading down there for years, but it is about three hours of driving each way so we kept putting it off.
Turtle Power

The gardens are built along the border, north-south symmetrical (mostly) with a the chapel and peace tower at one end, and an interesting plateau at the other where there are rows of benches under shelters at either end, facing a fountain that straddles the border. Presumable so that people can sit in either nation and stare at people in the other country.

The chapel is very much an early 1970s design of concrete, limestone and orange glass. They really liked orange glass back in '72. There was muted organ music piped into it, and we were the only ones there at the time (another family came in just as we were leaving). It was really quite peaceful.
Take 5

I imagine the gardens would be much more interesting in the summer season when everything is in full bloom and the fountains and streams are turned on. On the other hand, there is something to be said for going to a place like this in the off season. I would guess that we encountered no more than a dozen different people during our entire visit.

There was a stark contrast between the Canadian and US side of the gardens - more so outside of the formal garden area. On the US side there was an auditorium, a museum devoted to international game wardens
Tire view

The biggest difference was when you wandered out of the formal garden area. On the Canadian side, there were picnic areas that looked like they had simply cleared the trees and laid out enough hewn-wood amenities to clearly identify it as a picnic area. They were linked by a narrow, winding roller-coaster of a road that that reluctantly cut through the forest with an economy of clearing. The US side was well-manicured, with clean picnic areas, and a two-lane road with a bicycle lane to boot.

It is all maintained by volunteers, and I don't know if it is a question of funding, bodies, or just differing visions. Either way, it was quite a striking contrast.

One interesting difference in the formal gardens (well, not counting the really nice indoor cactus garden on the US side - though I think that was just outside the formal garden) was this:
A tale of two countries

On the Canadian side there was as donated carillon, with a moderately cringe-worthy, awkwardly-worded plaque that described the history of how a small church in Brandon had been instrumental in moving it from England to its present location.

On the American side there was a shrine to 911, with some of the twisted and melted girders from the WTC. The shrine itself was actually pleasingly understated, but if I had turned 180° you could see the row of slightly gaudy, full-colour stars&stripes motif boards waxing about the attacks, and how the US had hardened its borders in the wake. I think the row of patriotic info boards did a disservice to an otherwise tasteful exhibit.


May. 15th, 2016 11:42 am
plonq: (Dramatic Mood)
I set myself up with a challenge at the beginning of the year to take and post a picture every day when practicable (that is, if I was on vacation in a place with no Internet connection, I would take a picture that day and post it when I got a chance).

Part of my motivation for undertaking this was to encourage myself to take more pictures, and as a side benefit of it, document a year of my life in pictures. While my goal was to keep them either topical, entertaining or at least mildly interesting, I admit that I have a significant number of pictures of our cats in the mix.

My primary goal was to treat this as an exercise in self-discipline. I wanted to see if I had the staying power to make it through a full year without running out of steam. It has been a challenge at times, and it has been hard to motivate myself some days, but I've powered through even when I've been posted away from home and working/studying long hours. I have been absurdly happy with myself for making all the way to mid-May so far without a stumble. I was really starting to feel like I might be able to pull this off. This had been more staying power than I usually have.

As I was showing the slide-show to a friend yesterday, I realized that there were some shots missing from the album that I definitely remember taking. Last night I went through the album, updating some of the file names, and moving some pictures into the album that I had improperly tagged. After cleaning things up, I noticed that my on-line album only had 134 images, but my off-line folder had 135. No problem - I had probably forgotten to upload one one at some point. To my mind, that's a stumble, not an outright fail.

I did an image-by-image compare and finally found the discrepancy. My off-line folder had the same image tagged twice for different days. I had posted it as February 25, but it was actually a shot from February 23, and I had it saved under both names on my computer. I fixed the tags on-line, and went through my camera folders to try and find the pictures that I was supposed to upload that day.

There is none. In all three folders (Phone, Nikon, Canon) I have pictures on the 24th, and on the 26th, but apparently I somehow missed the 25th entirely. It's a bit depressing to realize how much I've been putting into this thing, only to discover that I had already failed back near the start. I want to go back to the me in late February and give myself a solid slap.

I know it shouldn't be a big deal, but I am really disappointed. I think if I had not been so proud of myself for approaching the midpoint of the year without a stumble that it's really demotivating to realize that I tripped over the starting line and didn't notice. Well, now I've noticed, and it has taken some of the wind out of my sails. Since this was a challenge to see how far I could make it before I failed, it almost seems pointless to keep it going at this point.

On the one hand, it would be a bit of a relief to say, "Oh well, maybe next year." At least I wouldn't have to start each day wondering how I was going to fill my quota before midnight.

Here is yesterday's shot for what it's worth.
plonq: (Grawky Mood)
I started off 2016 with a personal goal of taking and posting a new picture every day of the year, in spite of the fact that I have tried and failed to do this twice before. Rather, perhaps it's more because I have failed twice before. I am not going to judge my life on my failure or success this year because things can happen in one's life that can lay the best plans aside, but this is one of my goals for the year. With 108 days and picture behind me, and 258 still ahead, I think that I can at least allow myself a "so far, so good" without jinxing the effort going forward.

I try to mix up what I post every day, though I admit that a fair percentage of them are turning out to be pictures of our cats. Cats are just so gosh darned photogenic though, so I only feel partially responsible for that. Naturally in a project like this, there is going to be a number of pictures that are the result of scrambling around at the last moment, looking for a shot that day. Those shots, and cats aside, I am trying for a nice mix of shots that are topical, versus shots that are just artsy or experimental.

Under "topical" would be this picture of my Pebble, showing that I did 11,000 steps that day. While that is not a lot of steps for most people, that's quite a landmark for me because I work at a very sedentary job. I am lucky to get in 7,000 steps in a day.

Another topical picture is the large hold a few blocks from our house. The street has been blocked to traffic for months, and while we've ignored it for the entire winter, we finally got curious enough to walk up there earlier this week for a look. Although you cannot see them in this shot, the inside of the hole is lined with life preservers, presumably because they are well below river level.

An example of a non-topical shot would be this one of my keyboard shot through a glass of white wine. Alas, it has become a bit more topical since it was shot because my current prescription forbids me from drinking alcohol. While I'm not exactly curled into a foetal ball over being prohibited from alcohol, it's going to suck when we get into grilling weather. Grilling and a glass of cold ale have become inextricably tied for me. I suppose I can substitute ice water or the like, but it just won't be the same.

Another of the ones that I would deem more artsy than relevant is this one of the Chinese fan I found in the array of stuff on my computer desk.

Picture a day )
plonq: (Dramatic Mood)
I am starting to get the hang of stabbing myself three times a day for blood. I hate needles, and I am not strong at the sight of blood (especially my own), but I am under orders, so I do what I must. I figured that as long as I am going to the trouble of sucking out my own blood to gather data, I may as well build some statistics from it. When I see the doctor again next month, I plan to pull out my Surface and show him charts with variants on my weight and glucose levels.

This is the little prick that I need to use for drawing blood. I have nicknamed him Mister Stabby.
I got my first misread today when the strip did not get enough blood from the pathetic drop I offered it in sacrifice. It wanted more blood. More blood.

[ profile] atara recommended that I should start calling it Audrey.

Audrey it is.

Curiously, my readings have been trending downward since I started monitoring them.

We de-cluttered the kitchen a bit yesterday, and one of the things we found in the pantry was a stash of tomato soup. Based on the expiry dates, it looks like we bought a flat of soup while it was on sale back in 2009ish, and it got covered by other clutter after we'd gone through about half of it. As it was six years past expired, we decided not to take a chance on it, so I emptied the cans and recycled them. I could not pass up the opportunity to line them up for a Warholesque picture first, though.
plonq: (Saddled With Questions)
I had a follow-up appointment with the doctor today to go over the results of my sleep study, and to get an update on how things were going with my new medication. He tested my blood pressure again, and while it has not gone down, neither has it gone up. I fall right in that zone of "high, but not alarmingly high".

The other thing he did was write a note for the pharmacy to set me up with one of those stabby machines so that I can start measuring my blood sugar level. He had apparently intended to send me home with one on my last visit, but I guess it slipped his mind, and even though I was surprised by that, I did not exactly broach the subject. "Hey, did you want me to start stabbing myself and take glucose measurements on whatever spurts out of my body?"

The pharmacist stabbed me in the finger to show me how it worked. It hurt. I think she had it cranked up to Maximum Cruelty setting, so I may adjust that down a bit when I start using it myself.

The doctor has recommended that I take 2-3 readings a day. I know that some of you reading this are experienced with this stuff, so I was curious if you could give me some pointers. When do you typically take the readings? I am thinking first thing in the morning so that I can get a "fasting" reading, again before dinner, and then a couple of hours after dinner. Do you tend to trade off fingers and hands for the stabbing so as to not build up calluses, and to share the misery between fingers?

Once again I left my picture of the day until the last minute, and ended up grabbing a shot of one of the cats - my go-to subjects for when I leave it until late. Rather than dabbling in software effects like I have been doing lately, I went completely old-school with this one, and I like the result. I think the picture actually benefits from the fact that I shot it with my phone because the lens added some distortion that my DSLR might not have done.
plonq: (Challenging Mood)
I got the results from my sleep study, and the apnea is not as bad as I'd thought. [ profile] atara has mentioned that I don't snore as badly as I used to. It's worth noting that even with the weight I put on in 2015, I am still about 15 pounds lighter than I was at one point.

The doctor who gave me the results from the test seemed a bit put-off that I had even taken it, almost like I was wasting their time for getting more than 3 hours of sleep a night. She showed me the charts they made during the night, pointing out that that I have severe, life-threatening apnea when I sleep on my back, but only mild when I sleep on my side. She said they would hook me up with a CPAP if I felt that I really needed one, but her recommendation was to sleep on my side and lose some weight.

I've already been mandated to lose some weight because of the diabetes issue, so I guess I can kill two birds with one stone. [ profile] atara and I are both back on the weight-management train again, so we'll see how it goes. It's easier when you are both on board. I've dropped about six pounds since my last visit to the doctor. That's nothing to dance in the streets about, but at least it's going in the right direction.

Winter refuses to release its hold on us. We got more snow yesterday, and today they are calling for rain, freezing rain, and more snow. Perhaps May will cut us a break.
When I went for a walk on Sunday afternoon, I was the only person in the park. It was a little odd seeing the place so empty - there are usually people about, even in the winter, but I guess the drawn out cold has driven people to hibernate.
plonq: (Huggy Mood)
So far, so good.

Some comparatively positive developments at work the past while. I posted about it at more length earlier, but I removed the post again after [ profile] atara noted that it had a lot of details that could trace it back to me.
The short of it is that we lost a very toxic manager, and our managing director honoured my request to move to a department that I felt was more suited to my skills. Other than the threat of operations training and deployment looming over my head, there is a lot less stress in my life today.

I had an awkward moment yesterday evening as I paused in the kitchen, saw my pill bottle on the table, and could not remember if I had taken my evening pill. This is not a prescription that one wants to accidentally double-up on, but neither do I want to get into the habit of negligently skipping them either. I reviewed the evening in my brain and had no memory of taking one, though I remembered intending to earlier, so I popped one down the hatch. [ profile] atara was understandably alarmed, and could not believe that I had not simply thought to count the remaining pills.

I did that after the fact and noted that I had been correct. Still, she dug out one of those pill containers that has little morning/afternoon doors for each day of the week and I loaded them up with the proper doses. Better safe than sorry I guess.
plonq: (Saddled With Questions)
I got the results back from some of the tests I'd been taking in order to qualify for the engineer training I am being bullied into at work. Since this is the first time I have undergone a full physical since I was the age when a the doctor gave me a lollipop and told me I'd been a brave boy, I was expecting to find quite a number of things wrong.

Surprisingly, I am actually in pretty good shape for my age and, well, my shape. I am undeniably obese.

I knew that I would have high blood pressure.

I wasn't prepared for the part where I am diabetic.

I have to take two of these every day for three weeks and go back for further testing to see if I have got it under control.

[ profile] atara thinks that all of the stress I have been under for the past few weeks may have contributed, since stress can screw up your insulin levels.

My bit of amusement was when I passed this news along to the Occupational Health Services nurse at work. She had been expecting to get some updates on my EKG readings, and the other things they'd been mildly concerned about.

"You're what now? This was just diagnosed?"

"Yes. Sorry. I learned of it about two hours before you are learning of it now."

Apparently that is another thing that they can't let through on a safety-sensitive position, so she's said that she is going to refuse to pass me medically until I get more testing done to see if we can get it under control.

On the plus side, that means I don't have to fly out to Calgary for two intensive weeks of training on Monday.

On the down side, I have diabetes.
plonq: (Crashing Mood)
Absinthe seemed like a better idea when I was buying then when I am drinking it. Maybe I just haven't found the right brand, but I put it somewhere about on par with drinking Nyquil, but without the subtlety. I've looked up various instructions on how to properly prepare it for drinking, and while they've made it less unpalatable, I've yet to find anything that would render it ... good.


I've managed to not miss a day in pictures yet this year, though some of them are admittedly lame as I find myself bandying about the house just ahead of bed time, looking for something interesting to snap. Yesterday we did an outing to the zoo though, and I came away with some decent shots.

While this is not a particularly great shot in most respects, I do like the play of the light in it.
Swim with the bears

The denizens of the zoo see hundreds of people pass by every day, to the point that I'm sure most of us are just features of the landscape to them. It's satisfying when at least one of them considers you interesting enough to capture their attention for at least a few moments before they settle into a nap. It wasn't until I saw the picture later on my computer that I realized the snow leopard was watching me, and not looking past me.
Pretty kitty


Mar. 3rd, 2016 11:04 pm
plonq: (Challenging Mood)
I accidentally got an EKG yesterday. One might wonder how that is possible, but I managed to pull it off.

I am long overdue for a full physical, and my employer forced the issue when I failed the medical for Locomotive Engineer training that I had been browbeaten into for later this month. I won't go into the details about where I failed it, but among the things the company demanded before they would allow me into this training I didn't want was a full physical and an EKG.

I had an initial consultation with a doctor, and he filled out the forms for various tests which included an EKG. Since I have a few days off work (our acting director ordered me to take the rest of the week off when she noticed that I was buckling under the stress - a story for another time), I decided I would start the process of lining up some of the tests I'd been told to take.

I drove over to the lab that the doctor had recommended for the EKG, but when I got there, I discovered that they are now only a blood clinic. The receptionist there told me that the nearest place that would perform one of those for me was the hospital further up the road. I took my forms back to the car, managed to luck into a coveted, free parking spot on the street just a few minutes from the hospital and trundled off to start setting up appointments.

I wandered in through the non-emergency entrance (though it may have been a service entrance in retrospect) and bumbled around until I found a counter with labels such as "X-Rays, Radiology, EKG, Etc." in front of a waiting room with about 15 people lounging about in the institutional-turquoise chairs. I took my forms up to the desk and waved them at one of the helpful ladies working there.

"I would like to set up an appointment for an EKG and stuff," I said hopefully. She looked at the forms, then at me, then at the forms again.

"Ya, uh, you'll have to check in down the hall," she said. Just go out here and follow the hall to the right until you see the thing you need on your left."

While it is possible that she could have issued slightly more vague directions if she tried, I gathered up my forms and toddled off into the hall, taking the right turn as instructed and looking for something helpful on the left. It was a very long hall, though unerringly straight. It led me past many unpromising side-halls, past doors bearing labels like "Authorised Personal Only" and "Other People, Not You". At one point I also passed through a bustling cafeteria, and I began to despair that I would not find the thing that I needed on the left. Finally the hall opened up on the left to a general lobby before continuing further into the bowels of the hospital.

In the lobby was a helpful desk bearing the title, "Information."

"Hi," I said, approaching the desk and holding out my forms. "I need to book an appointment for an EKG."

The girl at the desk eyed my papers and then politely said, "OK you need to take these top the department for X-Rays, Radiology, EKG, Etc."

"I did," said I, "and they sent me here."

"Oh. Well, I guess the person who usually handles these forms must be on break."

Then she sent me in a direction almost exactly the opposite of where the people at the "X-Rays, Radiology, EKG, Etc." department had sent me. Her instructions led me to a generic, easily-missed check-in counter staffed by two ladies who bore the air of people who had been born into bureaucratic roles. They were friendly and efficient, and they asked me to verify every character and mark on the forms I had given them, along with questions about my wife's name and birth date.

Fortunately I remembered my answers, because I had to repeat them all again when I got back to the "X-Rays, Radiology, EKG, Etc." department. The lady apparently had issues with some of my answers, because she called the doctor's office and had a lengthy discussion with the receptionist there before she was satisfied that everything was in order. She stuffed my forms into a folder and said, "Please take a seat."

"Um," I said. "That is, I don't mean to sound ignorant, but I'm unfamiliar with the strange and sometimes Byzantine workings of this place. I thought I was just here to make an appointment."

"We don't do appointments," she said tersely. "Please take a seat."

I glanced at the dozen-and-a-half people in the waiting area, then at my watch, then at the waiting area again. "If you don't mind my asking, but how long will this take? I didn't anticipate being taken right away, and I only parked in a 1-hour spot on the street, and this process has taken thirty-five minutes so far."

Fortunately, most of the people in the waiting room were not waiting on the same thing that I was, and they promised to have me finished and out within twenty minutes."

It was actually closer to 18, but I don't begrudge them on overestimating a bit. I was actually surprised at how quickly and efficiently it was all handled once I got past the initial paperwork and running around.

plonq: (Comparatively Miffed Mood)
Saturday morning started with me fighting our home network. Ever since I updated the basement server to Windows 10, it has become a constant fight to keep it on the network. Even before the phone company replaced our modem with a modem/router, it had been a bit unreliable. I managed to get the basement server to see the network, and then in the middle of transferring some files, it died again. I tried removing and reinstalling the drivers for the little USB adapter I was using to connect it to our wireless network, but although I could get it to connect and work for awhile, it would just as quickly disconnect. Even when it connected, the transfer rate was abysmal.

Half the time, Windows did not even want to recognize the adapter and mapped it out to one of those 169.254.#.# addresses.

Then something bigger came up, and I put the network aside. I was just getting ready for a shower when [ profile] atara came running upstairs and calmly complained that the sewer was backed up again. Well, except for the calm part. The only reason it had not backed right into the basement is because the basin had filled up to the level of the weeping tiles, so our sewage was flowing out under the house. Lovely. I called the same plumbers as we had out the last time, and they snaked out the tree roots that had been blocking it. Normally they only sent out one guy, but this one had an apprentice.

I asked him if the problem might be because our drain had collapsed. Our front yard has sunk dramatically right at the edge of our property line, but he assured me that if the drain had collapsed, the metal bit on the end of the snake would have sustained considerable damage. He said that they had to extend >48' before they encountered roots, and by his estimates that would put it right where our line joins the city sewer. He opined that our elm tree was the likely culprit, and he also mentioned that it is not unusual to have to clear the outside line every couple of years in older parts of town like ours.

We are still toying with the idea of hiring a company to run a camera down the length of the pipe for our peace of mind. Replacing the front walk is one of the tasks on our radar, and we do not want to go to the expense of replacing it, only to have to dig it up again a year or two later to replace the line.

I was dredging through some of my older pictures today, looking for ones that I had not previously posted for one reason or another. I took a fancy to this one that I shot back in '07 during the Red River Exhibition.
Red River Ex

This was my picture of the day from Friday. I shot it out the front window of the car a few blocks from home. As you can see, Spring is still a ways off for us.

I had this setup running when I first started tackling our network issues last week. I was trying to determine if the problem was with the server in the basement, or with our range extender in the hall (which is actually an ASUS router which I re-purposed). I fired up my old Dell laptop because it had some software that let me find the address of the repeater on the wireless network. Alas, I apparently forgot to set a password, so unless I do a factory reset, I am effectively locked out of it.

I set up the Surface next to it to see if I could get the software to work on that, since it is considerably smaller, faster, and less unwieldy. The old Dell really owes me nothing after all these years, and other than being a bit slow to start up, it is still reliable as heck. The contrast between technology separated by ten years is quite striking.
plonq: (Groovy Mood)
We stopped at one of the local Mediterranean markets on the weekend to pick up some essentials for our Valentines day dinner (including a couple of chocolate-covered strawberries). There was an accordionist wandering up and down the aisles, serenading the shoppers with his squeeze box. It straddled the line between charming and surreal.


I keep meaning to post my daily pictures up here more often, but for some reason my days don't seem to have as many hours in them as they did once. I really am taking a picture every day, and I have been faithfully posting them to my Flickr page.

I am holding out hope that the longer hours of daylight will give me more time to capture interesting shots as the year wears on, rather than pictures like this one, where I had to pull out my old and new portables in order to perform a task. I was just struck by how much difference just a few years could make in technology.
plonq: (Disapproving Luna Mood)
I need to learn to be more like this cat. When the going gets rough, rub my belly.

plonq: (New Glasses Mood)
Almost invariably it is when I am standing in front of the mirror, dressed in my pyjamas and getting ready to brush my teeth that my shoulders slump as it dawns on me that the day is almost done, and I have not yet taken my daily picture. Then I think, "Well, I could do a self-portrait if I was not busy getting ready for bed."

I am nothing if not a multi-tasker.

plonq: (Evil mood)
At my prompting, we signed up for a three-week seminar on Humanism being offered by the church. When I say three weeks, what I mean is 2-3 hours every Tuesday evening for three weeks. The first was this past Tuesday. I was interested in going because I know our church has strong Humanist elements in it, but other than that I know surprisingly little about it. One of the first things I learned on Tuesday is that there is not just one flavour of humanism. The only version I knew of was Secular Humanism, and all I knew about that was that it was a product of the Devil (thank you, Pentecostal upbringing).

Aside from Secular Humanism, there is also Religious Humanism, Modern Humanism, Renaissance Humanism and a few other flavours as well. They said that they were not going to get into a deep discussion about all of the different varieties, but they offered up some reading suggestions for anyone who is interested.

Another interesting thing I learned was that one of the presenters is also one of the signers on the 2003 Humanist Manifest III.

When I was chatting with an old friend on Facebook the other day, he (formerly of the same fundamentalist church in which I was raised, and more recently a proclaimed atheist) said that he was having a tough time trying to resolve humanism and church in the same sentence. It turns out that some of the members in our church have the same problem. When we broke up into discussion groups for the second half of Tuesday's seminar, some of the people in my group were uncomfortable calling our institution a church.

I take great delight in it though. I love confusing co-workers by mentioning the goings-on at our church. First, they are caught off-guard when they find out that I attend a church, and then I blow their minds when I casually mention something like, "This past Sunday we had tag-team speakers from the Atheist Society and Skeptics Club."

Belladonna loves her people. She also loves bedtime even more than she loves dinner time. In this shot, she is giving me the "are you coming to bed with us?" look.

I am not saying that our cats are getting up there in years, but they take enough medications now that they are on a first-meow basis with the pharmacist.


Feb. 1st, 2016 10:42 pm
plonq: (Comparatively Miffed Mood)
We returned to a new downtown sandwich place we first tried a few weeks back, and it was just as good on the second visit. The place has a modern vibe of hipster and kitsch, and the food is definitely not geared toward the budget-minded, but they deliver a premium product at what I consider to be a reasonable cost.

After our second visit, I decided to log my findings in Zomato (formerly Urban Spoon), and I was disappointed to see a few 1-star ratings. As I read them, I found myself shaking my head over how typical they were of the small-town attitude pervades this city. One reviewer posted a snotty, single-star review because he went there late on opening day and they had run out of some of the ingredients. Most of the other bad reviews were from people grousing about the prices.

"I could go to Joe's Greasy Shitburgers in Transcona and get twice as much food for this price!"

What can I say? I've lived here long enough to know that on average, Winnipeg folk are cheapskates. A few years back, the neighbourhood was holding a public barbecue down at St John's park, where everyone was welcome to some free ribs or a burger. Though neither of us was hungry, [ profile] atara and I rode down there to check it out. The line for food was at least 100-125 people in length and four across. While most would get their food and wander off to eat, there were a fair number who made a beeline to the back of the queue so that they could wait in line for seconds while they ate. Folks here like a bargain.

Fortunately the city seems to have grown sufficiently that we may have enough people to support these more - if not fancy, at least moderately upscale - eateries.

On another front, I have made it through a whole month without missing a day on my "picture a day" project.
plonq: (Crashing Mood)
I have managed to get in a picture every day this month, but with my long work hours, sedentary habits, and the cold weather, I am starting to find myself flailing about in the evenings when I realize that it is time for bed and I have not taken a picture yet. That's when I end up with ones like this:


I put the bottle of catnip in front of Merry and hoped that she would do something interesting. She expressed mild interst in the bottle, but she has no interest in the catnip inside. This is shitty catnip. Both of our cats love catnip, but this stuff does nothing for them. Kong makes a very good catnip spray, but the place that sold it no longer carries it. In fact, every time I find a catnip spray that my cats like, it either gets discontinued or dropped by local distributors after I buy one bottle.

Speaking of getting dropped from things, as quickly as I got put onto a fail project at work, I was just as quickly removed to do other work. One of the main problems with this project is that it is trying to cram too much into an insanely tight time-line. One might compare the goal of this project to putting all of ones eggs in a single basket, except that they are attempting to put the whole chicken coops into the basket, they need them in there by the end of tomorrow, and they haven't yet found a supply for lumber to begin building the coops. I was on the project until people figured out that the tool they intended for me to use had no hope of dealing with the volume of data this thing would produce.

At the moment I am helping a different project get through quality assurance since the developer who was working on it quit before it was complete. I managed to complete the first of two sprints on it today, and I plan to handle a few things I had to put aside for it tomorrow before I start on the next sprint. The developer who produced this thing made some ... interesting design choices. I know why he did what he did, but I ended up commenting out a lot of his hard work in the interests of removing needless redundancy, and making the code easier to read. He is a more advanced coder than I am, but from what I have seen of his work, sometimes he seems to make things needlessly complicated just because.

Even though I am officially off the fail project (though they are only learned of that today), I still joined one of their on-line meetings today at the request of their coordinator. I feel bad for them, because they are aware that they have been tasked with something that will need a minor miracle to make it to completion in even double the time they have been allotted. It was a little awkward to hear our data architects laugh at various points in the call and then say, "Wait, you mean you're serious?"

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