Hurrah!

4 02 2008

After my fun and games with my flight back from Vegas I got an email today telling me they’ve given me a $250 flight credit for future travel due to the problems!

That was a pleasant surprise!

Hurrah for WestJet!  They have a clue!

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Waiting in the airport…

27 01 2008

Thank god for free internet wireless access.  That’s currently the entertainment of choice sitting here in the aiport in Las Vegas.  Our flight has been delayed by about half an hour so it’s not a big deal but it sounds like there is quite the storm in Edmonton so the driving conditions will more than likely suck and starting my ice cube car will be a lottery when I get there. 

You can tell I work for a technology company.  I’ve got about 9 co-workers with me in the aiport and half of us are typing away on our laptops and a few others are messing about with their blackberrys.  Blackberry addiction is a real problem I can tell you.  I don’t have one but the folks around me who do seem to have them permanently glued to their hand throughout the day doing god knows what on them.  Another co-worker is playing with her swearing parrot and now it looks like they’re huddling up to play cards now…  We’re pretty much the only people in the depatures lounge now.  It was full when I started typing this but has emptied out nicely.

Visited the the discount designer fashion mall in Vegas today looking for bargains.  I did not really find any but it killed a couple of hours.  Picked up a couple of belts for myself and my girlfriend (as I’ve lost weight and need a smaller belt now!  Woo hoo!).

There was a (unintentionally) humerous road billboard that was from a legal firm that specializes in suing lawyers.  I guess it’s come around full circle now.  You can’t make this stuff up.  I really wish I was able to take a picture of that but I was in a cab at the time.

We hung out in Ceasar’s Palace for awhile but head back to our hotel to take a taxi to the aiport.  We even got to watch a guest throw up all over the entryway to the hotel whist we were waiting.  Entertainment is ever-present in Vegas.  It’s a very bizzare place indeed.  At least the company is good and we’ve had some fun.

I think I should probably go in search of food now….





2:30 AM in Vegas… (and it’s raining!)

27 01 2008

It’s 2:30 am in Las Vegas.  I just got back to my hotel room.  It’s raining.

It’s been an interesting few days here in Las Vegas.  Work has sent me here since Wednesday to attend an internal development program of sorts to help prepare us for future senior roles in the company.  It’s pretty cool that the company is willing to invest the money to send us here to do this and great that the senior management can take the time out of their schedules to spend the time here for some 1 on 1 interaction with them. 

We had various exercises to work on that were real problems that the company would face (sales models, HR issues, products issues and financial decisions).  Pretty humbling experience in all as in many ways I think these are things most employees take for granted from day to day as you don’t really deal with them in any intimate fashion given your role.

Good eating, a night out to see the magicians Penn and Teller and interesting social company from our offices from all around the world was a welcome bonus.

This is my second time to Las Vegas.  It’s a pretty weird and surreal place.  Sort of a Disneyland for adults.  Even though this is my second time here I am still trying to work out what to make of it all.  We had a good night out tonight (hence the late hour of this posting) and this time we went to “Old Vegas” and hung out in a dodgy casino and drank and gambled (what else would one do?).

Vegas is a microcosim all into itself.  It has it’s own pulse and energy that is unique.  You can easily spend time just walking around the shops and the strip people watching and you’ll see all walks of life and people of every socio-economic statuses.  There is some serious money in this town…. too bad none of it is mine (except what I’ve donated at the poker tables).  $100 gone in 20 minutes playing poker… and I think I’m a reasonably competent player!  Ouch!  I won $140 on a slot machine later that evening so I don’t feel too bad 🙂

The shopping is a world unto itself.  They have all sorts of higher end shops that have all sorts of interesing good for sale at astronomical prices (I looked at a Versace belt and it had a price tag of $530 USD…. ouch!!). 

We found this fantastic bar around the corner from the Flamingos casino that has CHEAP drinks.  A round for 8 people (that I purchased after peer pressure from my $140 slot machine win…. tip… if you win at something never tell anyone!) cost only $16.  A gin & tonic in a bar at Ceasar’s Palace cost $11.50.  You do the math…

All in all a good couple of days.  It will be good to get back home to see my girlfriend, pets and get on with some work.  The get together here has certainly given me some motivation and the chance to hang out with the CEO and divisional leaders has certainly given me some ideas on how to proceed in my job (I generated a few leads worth chasing from talking with people from other offices).

Bleh, it’s 2:43 now.  I should probably check facebook for pointless apps I’ve been invited to add, check my mail and and go to bed.  I’ll probably do some shopping tomorrow for gifts and the like and I’ll be flying back in the evening and won’t be getting home until Monday at around 2 in the morning.

Now for bed…





End of year update…

4 01 2008

I guess this is a good opportunity to recap the holidays and point out the years highlights such as they were.  This is probably more geared towards the friends who I have not kept in touch with for a variety of reasons and as a new years resolution perhaps vowing to be better with the email for my overseas friends is a good place to start 🙂 

2007 certainly had many ups and downs.  The end of the year was pretty good for the most part as downtime from work and time with family and friends is always something to value and look forward to.  Christmas dinner (#2!) at my parents place was excellent as always.  Nothing beats home cooking and the seemingly limitless supply of booze to go with it.  Unfortunately my other half could not join us in Calgary this time as our poorly sugar glider needed her medicine and we felt it best if one of us stayed home to make sure she got it properly.  Fortunately she seems to have recovered somewhat and, while not at 100%, seems to be more active and makes those happy clicking sounds when we spend time with her which is excellent.

We went to another Turkey dinner on the Saturday with a couple of friends of ours (one of which has his birthday around that time) which was also enjoyable and tasty as per usual.  You go out and have a good time with your friends during the holidays and it makes you wonder why you don’t make the effort to do it more regularly the rest of the year!

Anyway, on with what I’ve been up to the rest of the year.

Highpoints

  • We picked up two baby sugar gliders to add to our household.  They’ve been alot of fun and have bonded with us in a big way.  Awesome pets.
  • Work has got more interesting.  I’ve been tasked with looking after a company that the company I currently work at aquired towards the beginning of 2007.  I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to get it into a profitable state so we can take it forward.  I’m getting increasingly annoyed with C# however… bring back the days of C where I could do whatever I like and the compiler lets you get away with it!  This Nazi-Fascist-Like management of everything you do is really doing my head in.
  • Girlfriend is awesome as usual and we celebrated our 3rd anniversary this year.  She even did some of my Xmas shopping for me at West Edmonton Mall whilst I was at work.  Now *THAT’S* taking one for the team!
  • I’ve had a chance to get to know some of my friends a bit better.  Some of them are like family and always there to help when times get tough (like flooding for example… thanks Don!)
  • I’ve started to get into this blogging thing a bit more.  I enjoy reading some of my friend’s blogs too; it’s a good way to keep up with what they are getting up to.  Hopefully I can stay disciplined enough to keep posting!
  • The darts team I was on won the championship!  I closed out the winning game!  Yay!
  • I’ve started playing football again which is good.  Too bad my skills aren’t.
  • We had a good summer camping vacation for a week down in Brooks and managed to avoid the tornadoes… outings included golf, Tyrell Museum and general badland sightseeing.  My brother came out and camped with us for a night as did one of my co-workers (who is no longer at the company I’m at which is a bad point).
  • Got in touch with a friend I have not seen since my PhD days at the University of Leeds AND it turns out she was at the end of her employment contract AND she was looking for work AND happend to have a PhD in EXACTLY the area that we were looking to hire in.  She starts in a few weeks (coming over from the Netherlands).  Is that a coincidence or what?  If I’m really lucky she will bring me a nice bottle of single malt when she arrives.

Lowpoints

  • One of our two original sugar gliders died (Jazzberry).  This was pretty hard to take as I am quite fond of all my gliders and wish they were immortal!!!  My girlfriend’s Guinea Pig also had to be put down which was quite sad (although she did live to a very ripe old age for a GP!).
  • 2nd Flood in our basement in 11 months did a pretty good job of trashing the lot.  I’m a bit worried about what my insurance coverage will be like come renewal time as insurance companies don’t like unlucky people.  Fortunately I had good friends to help bail me out (literally) of this emergency before the restoration folks arrived (see high-points above).  This really sucks as it will be months before the basement is in any sort of usable state again.  We had pretty much just finished re-decorating it after the last flood when this one hit.
  • I don’t seem to be playing my guitar as often as I’d like.  With my workload increasing that hasn’t helped but I do miss it sometimes and would like to get my ass in gear enough to start picking it up again!  I’ll always suck at it if I don’t practice.
  • I’m not keeping in touch with friends overseas enough.  Alot of the crises over the last few months haven’t helped.
  • I’ll be getting rid of the hot tub in my basement which I’m pretty choked about.  It was one of the selling points of the house for me in the first place.  With it’s age and the fact it needs more patching up I feel like I am really pushing my luck keeping it in my basement given the events over the last year.  On the plus side I can always get another one in the yard and I’d prefer it outside anyway to be honest…
  • Still a smoker.  I am always beating myself up over this one and continually vow to myself to quit but never seem to manage to do it.  Dumbest thing I ever started doing in my life no question but I do enjoy it (the smoking).  Is that messed up or what?
  • Garage door chain went today but I guess technically that’s a 2008 issue…

Well that’s a pretty exhaustive list!  The good looks like it outweighs the bad overall.

As an added humour point I’ve just noticed that the wordpress spell checker does not seem to like the words “blog” or “blogging” (or wordpress!).  Ironic isn’t it?





Xmas Dinner #1

23 12 2007

The holiday season is well and truly here.  Xmas dinner #1 was last night.  I am well and truly stuffed (bleh) but it can’t be helped.  All dietary conservatism goes out the window…  With things like egg-nog freely available there is simply no way to resist.

It’s always good to hang out with your friends.  Often you will spend more time with people you don’t spend the time you should with throughout the year.  It makes you thankful for the friends and the life you do lead.  Things could be much worse despite the crises that seem to be entering our lives at the moment (See last couple of postings and add our Furnace quitting on us to the list).

Other activities included cards (rummy, but I don’t play), various weird WII games along with their creepy avatars (It’s a neat concept but I’m not 100% sold on the Nintendo WII just yet) and Trivial Pursuit.  Trivial pursuit is especially pointless for me due to my complete lack of pop-culture knowledge (I guess it was the 90’s edition, apparently I was completely AWOL during that time; additionally I learned that having notseen Grease is apparently a bad thing if not completely shocking!).  It was still fun though as it’s the company you are after really.

A chance for a bit of escapism from your every day life!  Roll on Christmas!





Crisis? What Crisis?

20 12 2007

Meh!

The crises seem to keep piling up.  There are several.  One of which I alluded to in my last posting (that of the not-so-well sugar glider Taz).  This in of itself is pretty depressing because when small animals get ill it usually progresses very quickly one way or the other.  So far she’s holding out well but still is not her old self.

Last month I also had the fun of experiencing my basement flood for the second time in 11 months.  My insurance company is going to love that.  Insurance companies generally don’t like unlucky people.  Both floods were caused by the stupid humidifier in the basement.  Different causes but both involved the failure of a 50 cent part that would result in $15K+ worth of damage (carpet gone, drywall, etc).  Insurance companies generally don’t like unlucky people. 

The restoration guy who turned up to sort out the flood the second time was the same person I dealt with first time around.  He even turned up with a map of my basement “from the last time” which was kind of funny.  Ironically the renovations and repairs from the flood first time around were just nearing completion when the second one hit (and the second one did more damage than the first!).

To complicate matters further I have a hot tub in my basement.  It was one the reasons I bought the house in the first place as it was kind of a neat feature that I did enjoy although I did not use it all that much.  It’s been sat in my basement empty since the first flood and I’ve only tried to fill it and get it working again recently.  I discovered it had a small leak and had a hot tub type person look at it and fix it.  Now that I’ve watched him repair the problem I’m pretty confident I could do it myself as it looked pretty straight forward.  We got it filled and started the pump/jets going to test it and it looked pretty good.  About 15 minutes later I noticed a small leak in the pump unit, and then another small leak by one of the jets around the back.  I assessed these problems and I could probably fix it but given:

  1.  I’ve had 2 floods in 11 months
  2. The hot tub is probably pushing 20 years old (including mostly original parts)

I’ve had to think long and hard about this and I have decided to get rid of it out of my basement.  I’m pretty choked about that as it was one of my favourite features in my house but I feel like I am REALLY tempting fate keeping it around and thought best to be rid.  I could fix the problems I have found *SO FAR* but who is to say there won’t be more and given the age of the unit I can’t say it’s all that unlikely.  Sad 😦  It’s a shame but I just don’t trust it down there as I am a little paranoid about anything with water in the house at the moment.  On the plus side this will enable me to take a wall out of the basement and I’ll have room for a pool table and it will open up the basement as a whole so that is a pretty decent consolation prize 🙂  Hopefully the restoration people can start work soon so I can get my basement back in order and my girlfriend can get her office back!!  Right now she’s setup her computer in the living room on the dining room table which makes dinners an affair best done on the couch with TV trays.  So there is a hot tub going to a good home cheap if anyone is interested.  It is fully functioning, I just don’t want it in my basement.  If someone was so inclined there is nothing stopping them from setting it up in their yard if they wanted to build some housing around it!!!

And now for some obligatory cuteness (also if you were wondering what the hell a sugar glider looks like!).  Here is one of our Gliders Taz in her snuggle house (that’s a photo of her next to me whilst I was writing this).

Taz!

and one of our babies (Tate) in my shirt pocket

Tate in my pocket





Similarities between Brits & Canadians…

22 11 2007

My brother came up last weekend to visit for my birthday.  We went to see the Flames beat the Oilers at Rexal and the game was awesome.  Sitting 3rd row by the Oilers bench was fun too 🙂

Anyway.  We were talking about ways he could get to his office and around Edmonton (he manages the pre-press for Calgary and Edmonton for a printing company) and I found myself giving him directions using the locations of Tim Hortons as landmarks… this reminds me to how when I lived in England one used to give directions using pubs as landmarks….

The differences are stark too sometimes.  For example, our Canadian love of hockey and our hockey supporters are clearly more sophisticated than footy supporters.  Rather than having the fans fight each other before/after/during the match we have our hockey players do it for us on the ice while we sit back and enjoy the game.  A much better way to incorporate violence into sport…

Kind of funny….