Saturday, October 25, 2003

Out on a date

Karen and I went out for supper last night. I tried hard to find a quiet restaurant. Some places you would think would be quiet seem to fill up with noisy parties. This has been our experience at Cyrano's and Issacs. We've been to the Keg Manor, and sat next to some really profane folks. Same for Giovannis. Great food at all of these places, and great atmosphere, but way too much noise. Even some panels on the ceiling to cut noise reflection would make for a big improvement.

So, we went to Graffitis, which is the Italian restaurant in the Holiday Inn. The food is great and it is usually quiet. We ended up with a great table in a quiet corner - quiet that is until half way through the meal when the bartender turned on a TV over our heads. If I wanted to listen to a hockey game, I would have stayed home. Really insensitive. On the other hand, one time we were there in the past, we had the best waiter I've ever encountered. On the ball, enthusiastic but sensitive, everything you could ask for. I left a 25% tip and mentioned to the Food and Beverage Manager I thought this guy was great.

We also went to see a movie last night, for the first time in a couple of years. The chain advertizes "Changing the way you see movies". Good advertizing, but the theatre wasn't that clean and there were huge lineups at the concession. What's changed? The movie itself, "Radio" was quite good. It was really touching, and yes I cried several times. I always cry for the true stories.

Of course, the real highlight of the date was not the restaurant or the theatre, but rather it was Karen's company. It was great being able to get away from a stressful world for a couple of hours and just spend some time together. The joy of spending time with her made for a fabulous date, despite the small inconveniences of atmosphere.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Downsizing but not downsized

More downsizing at work today. In July 2002 it was about 1/3 of the Designers. In Oct 2002 it was about 1/3 of the Managers. Today it was about 1/3 of the Directors and AVP's. I was not laid off, I didn't have to lay anyone off, and my boss was not laid off. Still, a bunch of good people went out the door. I feel terrible.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Sunday Updates

The rest of yesterday went fine. I cooked supper and made chicken and prosciutto in a garlic cream sauce served over linguine, with brucsetta as an appetizer and tiramasu for dessert. Fry up some prosciutto and some chunks of chicken (separately). Heat 500ml of table cream almost to boiling in a heavy saucepan, throw in 1 tablespoon flour and 2-4 cloves of chopped garlic. Simmer without boiling for about 5 minutes and reduce heat. Throw in the cooked chicken and prosciutto. Serve over linguine. With 3 boneless chicken breasts and about $4 of prosciutto, this makes a hearty meal for 3, or serves 4 if you do a salad (which I never do).

Sunday afternoon was restful. I took a nap, read to the children, read some of Herodotus, studied some Greek, played Lego with Joel and played some computer games. All in all, very relaxing. Interestingly enough, I met someone at church who was able to answer one of my questions about Herodotus (i.e. why does he frequently use the word "God" in the singular when the Greeks were polytheistic?).

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Bad Day (not terrible, just bad)

I had one of those days where a bunch of small things go wrong. Nothing terrible, but still aggravating. It's Saturday, and I decided I needed to go to work to get some things done. When I arrived, the network was down. I phoned the Help Desk, and was told it was scheduled maintenance. But it was not announced ahead of time. Now I understand if there is an emergency problem, but this was planned. I drove to work and killed about an hour for nothing.

I came home early, hoping to see my family, but they had gone out. I thought their outing had been cancelled due to rain, but at the last moment it was decided to continue. So I came home to an empty house.

I went to Quiznos to buy some subs for lunch (which involves about 30 minutes of driving), came home and found they had given Karen the wrong type of sub. So I drove back and exchanged it. They made the wrong type of sub again, but we finally straightened it out. They were apologetic, gave me the replacement sub and the wrong sub for free, and gave me a card for a free sub. Mistakes happen, and they handled it smoothly, but it was another 30 minutes of driving.

A guy came to the door selling chocolates for "Missing Children". These things always make me suspicious, particularly since everyone has a colour inkjet printer these days. I said "No thank you", closed the door, and then Karen told me she was having a chocolate craving. She asked me if I would go flag him down, but brute that I am, I said no. As an FYI, there was a kid who used to come to our door with a plastic tub full of chocolates and trinkets. He made no pretense of working for a scam charity - it was pure free enterprise on his part, and I usually bought something.

Friday, October 17, 2003


Karen started cooking today at 2:00pm, and finished about 8:30pm (with a half hour off for supper). Why so long you may ask? Because she was doing "Once a Month Cooking". Basically, you buy a bunch of stuff and use it in different recipes (e.g. you will make a sauce and use it in 3 recipes, etc). The end result is 19 suppers that are going into the freezer, plus a great chicken and biscuits supper for tonight. Tired? Of course she is. A feeling of accomplishment? Absolutely.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Goodbye Wealth, Hello Reality

My company sent me some information on the new company they have retained to manage their stock option program. We can now login and sell our options. Back in the good times, it wasn't unusual to receive $50 to $100 profit on every share. All of my options are now well underwater, and some of them will expire soon. And I currently have 4300 options vested. Yes, it would have been as much as $430,000. And I work with lots of people who got more than this out of their stock options over the years.

Now for a burst of reality. I always sold my options right after they vested, so it is not as if I had $430,000 in my hands and let it slip away because I was greedy and wanted more. Another burst of reality is that I did get some money from my options - specifically I was able to pay off a car loan and get some money for a down payment on my current house. So I have no complaints. And for a final burst of reality, most of us in high tech who are still working are just glad to have jobs. It's been a long and hard downturn, and reality is most of my friends have lost at least one job during this time.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The British Empire

Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever read a reasonable explanation on how the British managed to build their empire? I'm not so much interested in battles, etc., but why the British were able to build a more powerful empire than their more powerful contemporaries. Does anyone have any ideas?

New book on Greek

Tonight I finished chapter 5 of Mounce's textbook on Greek. So far, it is mostly covering basics, such as the letters, sounds and English grammar. Mounce has taught Greek long enough to understand that you cannot teach Greek until you have first reviewed English grammar.

When I was studying French with my previous employer, our instructors were always amazed at how poor our grammar skills were. All through grade school and high school, we studied one class a year of grammar, just so we could say we had taken it. I'd like to think I'm reasonably articulate and literate, even if I don't know what a pronoun is, but I guess I'll have to learn if I want to tackle Greek.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Sorry boss. I dropped the satellite.

Well, we all have bad days at work. Go to this link to see a really bad day at work!

Interestingly enough, one of the photos shows the satellite resting against a bookcase, presumably filled with the procedure manuals that tell you to (1) document when you remove bolts, and (2) check to make sure the bolts are present before you flip the satellite.

I'm curious as to what you do with an employee who drops a hundred million dollar satellite on the floor? Yes, he probably won't make that mistake again, but he shouldn't have made it in the first place.

There is an interesting fact about risk management behavior. Risks tend to fall into 4 categories, centering on (1) likelihood of occurence and (2) impact. A L/L risk we quite rightly tend to ignore. A H/H or H/L we take steps to mitigate. But the L/H always sneaks up on us. It probably won't happen, but it is does it will be catastrophic, so lets ignore the risk because it probably won't happen.

Code Coverage et al

Geek mode on:

Our regression test cycle is not yet complete, but already we are hitting 60% code coverage on our product. This is incredible, especially considering these are off the shelf tests which are not designed to maximize code coverage. We will of course create some of these tests at the end of the test cycle. Also, our cyclomatic complexity and maintainability index analysis shows the code is pretty good. All told, it is a smooth release so far.

Geek mode off:

Greek mode on:

I've started looking at Mounce's text book. It is interesting because it was written with the self-directed learner in mind, and because the focus is on developing Greek skills as a ministry tool, rather than for purely academic purposes.

Greek mode off:

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Order from CBD

I placed an order with Christian Book Distributors, and it has arrived. There are a couple of home school books, and something for Karen. For me, there is the Michael Card "Signature Songs" CD, "The Heart of Black Preaching" and Mounce's Greek textbook and workbook. So, the study of Greek resumes.