Monday, January 26, 2009

Sick today

Sorry, no thoughts today. Spent most of the day sleeping, slightly stoned on cold meds. Hoping tomorrow is better. Caught a viscious head cold.

Mrs. Spit tried to take the blame. Given that the 'common cold' isn't a single bug, I'm not so sure I'd blame my dear wife for this... especially as many people at the office have been sick of late.

I'll have to see how I'm faring in the morning... ugh...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rock.. on!

I haven't had a lot of time on the net this weekend. See, it's all about spending time relaxing on the weekend. This weekend I am playing with my new PlayStation game.

Yes, it's true. I broke down and joined the ranks of the music gaming world with the purchase of Rock Band 2. Just call me the little drummer boy! I'm having a blast.

Mrs. Spit wasn't too happy when she came home this afternoon. She was hoping to have a small lie down before jetting off for an evening of music with her mother. And here I was, banging away on my plastic drums. So, in the pursuit of marital relations, I'm downstairs now, about to go and spend some time reading.

Just as well, the "Rock Throne" was made of smaller and younger posteriors than mine! Bring on the couch!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

There are days...

There truly are days when I question my own sanity. What other reason can I put forward?

This morning I did the insane... I went shopping at Costco...

This is one of those days...

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Quote for Friday

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded! - Emerson

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Memory of Hope

Life moves inexorably forward. No matter what might be of concern to me at the moment, in the greater picture, my woes will not matter a whit to the universe. Life and death are a constant reality on this little ball that we call the Earth. That my son was born early and did not survive the hour, while a ripping tragedy in my life, has no real consequence outside my sphere of influence, let alone the path of the planet.

I'm in a difficult place right now. I am working to move forward in life while at the same time, still feeling the pull of the loss of my son.

According to the Kubler-Ross model of the stages of grief, people go through the following stages of grief:
1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

K├╝bler-Ross also claimed these steps do not necessarily come in the order noted above, nor are all steps experienced by all patients, though she stated a person will always experience at least two.

As I think back over the past 13 1/2 months, I can see times when I experienced different aspects of this psychological model. Heck, I cycled back and forth between stages at times. Times when I (months afterward) didn't want to accept Gabriel's death, or wanted to just sit in a sullen cloud of doom, doing nothing. Worse was when I thought I was in an state of 'acceptance' and then found myself slipping back down the ladder.

I've felt like my sense of self, as newly defined as a dead-baby-dad, was in a fluid state. Times like that I wasn't sure what I wanted anymore. Not sure of what to do, how to act, who to be. I'd be feeling generally fine, and then I'd watch Mrs. Spit get set injured by the selfish actions of someone, or by the sight of a newborn and have to stand with her in her pain. This invariably would prick at my own mental stability. Sometimes I could help her weather the storm without much effect - a boulder of granite. Other storms I would help her with effect - a boulder of siltstone.

Of late I am feeling more lingering sadness that my son is dead. Instead of being forefront in my waking consciousness, it rests on a ledge in a corner of my mind. It is similar to how my son rests on a shelf in my dining room, contained in a tiny urn. It's a tacit, permanent location, but it doesn't overwhelm me.

A huge part of healing, for me, was completing the bookshelf construction. Whereas Gabe's shelf is a small reminder of his passing, the zone of construction that constituted 70% of the floor space of my little house was the hulking brute of a reminder of his passing. Every month that passed with it not done was a reminder that it was started when Gabriel was a little ball of growth within Mrs. Spit. Hope for our future as a family, and hope for the renovation were wrapped up together in my mind. Finishing the renovation not only allowed us to start enjoying our house again, it allowed me to leave that ugly, unhappy part of my life behind me.

Today I truly feel like I'm at a point of acceptance. Not resignation, not hopelessness, but acceptance. Gabe's death affected me more deeply and more widely than I would ever have imagined prior to his birth. The new normal is starting to settle around me like a comfortable old coat. I could never have worn it two years ago, but now I can.

I have hope for the future of my family, but it's different now. Thinking back, the hope that I nurtured around Gabriel was shiny, bright, and innocent. If we succeed in trying to conceive again, there will be a new hope, different in so many ways, yet strangely similar. My memory of hope past will never be made more than a memory again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One Canadian's view of the Inauguration Speech

As I stood in a co-worker’s office yesterday morning and watched the newly sworn in President making his speech, I was truly impressed. This is one presidency that I hope does not lose the sheen of promise that it started off with.

There are several points that I really was impressed with, and would share with you here.

Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
What good does it do when you rely on sources half a world away to provide your needed energy? What good is the energy if your people are too sick and too ill prepared to use it for the furtherance of themselves or their nation?

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
I see this as the start of the criticism of Bush’s government. Instead of brandishing the sticks of terrorism and security, it appears that his focus will be more measured and reasonable instead of trying to frighten the populace on a regular interval.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
Speaking truth to the populace. It’s like the veil is being lifted, the fog is being burned away to reveal what was hidden.

...but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.
Time to ‘man-up’ and deal with things. Again, this sounds like an indictment of the former administration for the less than stellar policies.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
This has me thinking one thing - the bootstrapping of America.

We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.
Instead of shoving intellectuals to the fringes and relying on a dumbed-down approach to governing, it appears that this administration is going to rely on hard fact, new technology, and the help that scientific research can provide.

We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.
Gee, green energy, who knew? Last year’s oil prices have perhaps led to the idea that we need to figure out another way to power our world. Solar, wind, geothermal, fuel-cells: sounds like the push is on.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.
Again, the climate of intolerance for education and smart government is expiring; graft will not be tolerated, with a hearkening of JFK’s spirit for good measure.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.
It’s about time that the words of Benjamin Franklin were said and embraced by those people running the USA: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers.
As much as some Christians would want you to believe it otherwise, the nation is built up of more than followers of Christ. Being inclusive does more for unity than elitist exclusion.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
My first thought on hearing this is that Zimbabwe’s leadership won’t be happy with Obama’s speech. I sincerely doubt that President Mugabe will listen. Why should he start now?

And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect.
Perhaps the US government will start pulling more weight in international humanitarian efforts? Of more pressing significance to me, it sounds like our oil sands will be hurting. However, this is good as maybe we’ll slow in the wholesale raping of the earth here in Alberta?

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
More JFK coming in loud and clear. Given that we as people define ourselves by the difficult things in life, not the easy, it’s a good point all the same.

Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
The election mantra was "Change We Need". I see the speech as one big announcement to the populace and the world: change, it is coming.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A new day emerges

When's the last time that a day was awaited and anticipated with such vigor?

My friends and family in the States have arrived at Inauguration Day. Moving day, really. G.W. Bush is moving out, and B.H. Obama is moving in.

I'm astonished by a couple of things. First - that Bush is leaving with an approval rating of 22% (according to a report I saw the other day). This appears to really put the lame into Lame Duck. Second - that the media have hyped the coming of this day as though it were as important as the landing of the Mayflower.

Come what may, for the time being, it's the start of a new face in Washington.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Monday-like Day

Today I was having a case of Monday-itis. No new post during the day, sorry!

I was busy at work. Tonight I did my best to help someone in need (I donated a unit of plasma) and my laptop is on my desk at work. Watching some TV with Mrs. Spit (Dirty Jobs about to start) and not much of an online presence tonight.

More tomorrow... :-)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Return of the Toys

I'd write a great long blog, about how much I am glad that we have house insurance... but I can't. We messed up and didn't insure our house for nearly enough jewelry. I think this is because when we got married, we were poor, destitute, and without much in the way of shiny bits.

Boy, were we WRONG! Several piece of our ex-jewelry (thanks you low down, no worth, smelly feet thieves who violated my house!!!) were from 'away' and as such, we found out after the fact, had a higher quality of gold. Mrs. Spit thought that they had a 'funny' colour. Indeed, when the world is mostly 10K gold, seeing gold that's 21K and higher would lead most to think it has a funny colour.

So, the final result is that we are waiting for a cheque for our jewelry losses to a value of approximately 1/3 of what they were worth to replace. Yeah... so long and thanks for all the fish on that one!!! At least we were able to spend some quality time with our jeweler and pick out some nice wedding bands, and a very nice engagement ring for Mrs. Spit. We're both looking forward to picking up that purchase!

The other good news is that today we were able to stop at our local Future Shop and pick up the replacement electronics:Mrs. Spit is especially happy that we have a camera again. My work camera really doesn't help her when I'm not around. And really, it's nowhere near as good as our old camera - a Canon S5 IS - or its replacement. Unfortunately, the Future Shop didn't have either the Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (stolen with the PS3) or the camera bag (also stolen when the scum took our camera), so we have a gift card for the value of those items.

I picked up the latest Need for Speed and have been doing a poor job driving around in it tonight. Now all I need to do is pay off the Visa of Christmas purchases, and I'll be able to get some fun games off of the PlayStation Network.

Hi. My name is Mr. Spit and I am a gaming geek and I enjoy my electronic toys.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How to waste three hours...

The day started off well enough. -23C and an hour drive had me at my first site. Imagine my disappointment when I found that not only was the road closed, the road was not plowed. Now, this makes total sense, why plow it? There was only one driveway, and the apparently plowed just past that driveway on a semi-regular basis. When I turned around, I tried to back down the road a bit. Then noticed that it got harder. Got out, looked at the snow (after I pulled forward) and saw that I was creating a groove with my trailer hitch.

This was bad news. As I still had to get to my site to take a look at it. It was only a few hundred meters down the road. As Mrs. Spit pointed out to me tonight, it beat 1/2 hour on the elliptical! Ha! I don't use an elliptical in a gym that keeps the temperature at -23C (about -10F) or that makes you walk through snow two feet deep the whole time!

Here's what it looked like when I got to the culvert site, walked to the top of the dirt piled in the road, and looked back towards my truck. Yes... that little dot is my work truck...


So, that site was examined. Much slugging about in the snow. Not sure what I walked on, as I couldn't see it. Ice, beaver dams, the ground - who knows? Afterward I went for another hour drive to the area of the next site. In the space of 50 km, the temperature went from -23C to 0C. Amazing what a ridge line can do for you!

So, I go traveling down a road that hasn't been plowed recently. But several people have driven down it, so I figure that I'm OK to get to my site. I'm driving about 50 kph when I pass a field entrance where I can see that 1 or 2 people have used to turn around on. Then I notice that the road doesn't look quite as good anymore. Like it's never been plowed this winter and the only thing that has driven down it was a large tractor. The view from the driver's seat looked like this - taken after I was fully stopped and stuck, of course:

That's when I hit the brakes. I was only about 40 m past the field entrance. I thought I might be able to reverse out of the situation, using my tracks made on the way in to get out. This worked... except that I slid off of them into the virgin snow near the ditch. This didn't look good, so I put it into drive and tried to get back ONTO my tracks. (yes, that's the field entrance so very close in the background)

In the process of trying to go backwards again, my back tires started to skid to the right. I went forward a bit, and tried again. And went more to the right. A few iterations of this and I realized that I was now not going anywhere without outside assistance.

In case you're wondering, Alberta highway maintenance crews make judicious use of road salt... hence my "Patriot Blue" truck is a nice shade of salt-white.

Extra lucky for me, I had good cell phone coverage. I phoned my client. He was happy to hear from me - he likes me after all. When he asked what I was up to, I said "I'm stuck in your area." He quickly twigged onto the fact that when I said "stuck" I didn't mean placed in the area to get work done. When I told him where I was, he gave me that vital informative piece of any puzzle... the gem that makes or breaks the plan: "We don't plow that area in winter as it is only field accesses around there." Perfect.

He then says that his grader is working near me, and he'll call the operator and get him to come help me out. He'll be there in half and hour to an hour, as he'll plow his way over to me.

1/2 hour passes (now an hour after I originally got stuck)

an hour passes

an hour and a half passes

1 3/4 hours pass - I phone and ask after the grader "He should be right there shortly, within the next 15 minutes."

10 minutes later, I see the grader in the rear view mirror. The problem is that it's Alberta farm country. It's flat. I can see the grader over two miles away! (Our rural roads are laid on the Imperial system, sorry, they were laid out in the 1800s, back when surveyors where a lot crazier than they are now.)

Finally the grader gets to me. HE turns around in the field access!

After some discussion about how I ended up in my predicament, we hook up a chain to my trailer hitch and haul my truck out of the snow. The operator tells me that, thanks to his discussion with his supervisor (the guy I talked to) he's going to clear the road all the way to the culvert that I was originally in the process of going to look at. Yippie...

Three hours later, I'm cruising away from the sticky locale, on my way to wade through more snow as I inspect a bridge, and take photos of 'everything' - why everything? Because the engineer that went to that site a couple of months ago (the week of the break-in actually, when I was to have been there with them) was afraid of big dogs. She was stymied from taking the required photos because, apparently, the local friendly farm dog was at the bridge, barking at her. I'm a little skeptical, as in 5 years of doing this, I've never, ever had a problem with dogs on a site. Sure, I get barked at lots. Most of the time I end up with a 'helper' following me around looking for more ear rubs. But that's another story.

The moral of this story? Two-fold:

1. 4x4 only means that you get stuck further into the muck...

2. Talk to the client about whether or not the roads are plowed where they want you to work!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Still a career to admire

When I was a young boy, I was enthralled by airplanes. Absolutely loved them. The sight, the sound, the feel of flying - it was awesome. (If you ask Mrs. Spit, she'd tell you nothing has changed.) Airshows are still like crack for me. Especially when there's a Mustang or a Spitfire involved.

As you've no doubt heard by now, the residents of New York City were once again the unsuspecting spectators for another airshow involving an airliner landing somewhere other than an airport. I'll link the BBC just in case this is news to you.

We live in a modern age of transportation. Who really thinks about how hazardous it is to go flying anymore? You step up, buy the ticket, trundle down the jetway, strap yourself into the pressurized aluminum tube, and the bus of the air takes you where you want to go. The steward/ess giving you the safety briefing? Who needs to know that stuff, really? Nothing ever happens, right? We're told that airliners are the safest form of transportation around. You're more liable to have a car accident than be in an airliner accident.

Stats lie.

Seriously, you've got more chance of the car accident because, proportionatly, you spend far more time in the car traveling somewhere than any other form of transportation. The only way to be safe traveling is this - don't travel anywhere. You've heard that 95% of all accidents happen within 25 miles of home. This is true, but as with most stats, the number isn't the whole story. Most people do 95% of their driving... where? Right, within 25 miles of home. Except people like me, but I'm an outlier that way.

We've come to think and believe that airlines provide us the big bus in the air. With today's airliners, all the pilot does - so goes the fallacy - is turn it on, tell it where to go, and sit around drinking coffee from the best seat in the house.

If you asked me when I was growing up "What do you want to be?" I'd have told you - a pilot. There is a lot more to it than just sitting around for the ride. If it were really that easy, we would have gotten rid of them years ago.

The blog In From the Cold has an excellent post about this, which I can not hope to duplicate. Read it, seriously, it's well written and you'll learn a bit about airline pilots from it. While I'm not a pilot, I'm seriously glad that there are men and women out there, working hard at a job that people think not too highly about, most of the time. I say this not just because I have friends from my days in Air Cadets who fly for Wesjet and Cathay Pacific in 737s and 747s. My hat is off to Captain Sullenberger for making a dead-stick water landing in which not a single person died. Some reports say that the last time that happened was 45 years ago.

The next time you go for a flight, do as I have always done. Keep an ear and eye on the pre-flight safety briefing. Read the safety pamflet. Take the couple of minutes needed so that, if something happens, you've got that information fresh in your mind. Besides the seatbelt - seriously, how hard is THAT to figure out?

Not for the squemish...

As I don't work in medicine, it's not as bad as it sounds. It's a good time to be involved in bridge rehabilitation in Alberta.

Today I'm going to show an example of a bridge foundation in poor condition. In Alberta, we had a raft of bridges built for decades with creosote treated timber substructures. Substructure consists of the piles and caps - the primary load carrying members.

This is a bridge made completely of timber members. The timber cap is a 12"x12" piece of timber, laid across the timber piles. This cap isn't in too bad of shape - the discoloration is mostly from dirty water seeping through from the gravel road above.


















The next cap is much, much worse. Really, a 12x12 piece of timber shouldn't look like a rotten melon. When the flat face is bulging outwards, it's a good sign that there is a lot of rot inside the cap.


















The third photo shows the same cap looking up at the bottom. Really - timber shouldn't crush in 4 to 5 inches at the pile locations.


















The last photo shows the replacement timber caps readied for installation. 'Shiny' new treated timber caps ready to be installed, so that the bridge can be opened to traffic again. Oh yes, it was closed to all traffic before the repairs were completed last week.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Anyone up for a drive?

Oh my...

I went for a drive on Tuesday, and what a drive it was! I can't recall the last time I saw that many cars, pickups, and full semi-trucks stuck in the ditch!

Later in the day I heard that the road I went down was on the recommended "don't drive on it" list! I figured it wasn't great when I was driving through a snow storm, going about 50 kph slower than I normally drive that road. Single lane traffic, all going slowly, when it's a two and three lane freeway normally.

Visibility? From fairly decent to downright terrible. Blowing snow. Can't see the lines on the road. Can't see asphalt at times. More snow...

It was a good day to play the tortoise, not the hare!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The trials of paperwork...

On the day of the US election, November 4th, 2008, I was driving to northern Alberta for work. Mrs. Spit came home after her normal day at work to find that all was not, how might you say, "normal" at our domicile.

Fast forward two months and a bit, and you have the phone call we had from our insurance adjuster on the home phone when we arrived home of Friday night. "Hi, this is N from Questionably Quick Insurance calling for Mr. Spit. Please call me so that I can finalize the paperwork needed for your claim." (or something along those lines).

I called the agent, from work, last Wednesday, asking her to phone me back, on my direct line at work (where I was 8-5 for most of the week). I phoned on Thursday, same message. I phoned on Friday, leaving the same voicemail. I had also emailed this woman twice last week, asking for an update. On Friday I phoned the toll-free number, got another adjuster, who told me that he couldn't help me much - the data was stored on the agent's local hard drive. Apparently the insurance industry doesn't believe that hard drive failures will happen to them. Haven't learned of the magic of mirrored striped RAID drives... but who am I to suggest IT policy to the people who hold the insurance policy on my house?

So I find out second hand that my claim had been reviewed, and that it appears that the agent is ready to settle. Huzzah huzzah huzzah - and all that jazz...

After several attempts to contact N during the week, imagine my surprise when there was a message on the home phone, as mentioned off the start.

Today I phoned N, and remarkably (after the lack of success last week) I got her on the first dial. We connected, she emailed me the form that both Mrs. Spit and I had to sign, and she even replied in a reasonable amount of time (i.e. right away) to other emailed questions and clarifications.

Good news - we will get an initial cheque as soon as she gets the fax from us, signed, witnessed etc. Bad news - the check will be a lot smaller than we hoped for. It turns out that, unlike what our jeweler told us is typical for a home insurance policy limit - $10,000, our policy was only good for $3,000 for jewelry. Option 2 I'm told. So when the sum total of the replacement cost for our stolen jewelry is about $8,000 - that's a lot of sparkly stuff that's not getting replaced. Even if I get the 'friend' discount from my jeweler.

There is a silver lining to this rather odoriferous formation of cloud. Since we have lost so much money on the jewelry (ack!) we will not be required to pay our deductible for the electronics that were purloined. They will consider that 'paid' by the excessive value of shiny bits that some half-wit absconded with on the 4th. Thus we will be able to walk in, pick up bits, and walk out without further monetary exchanges taking place.

I'm still feeling ill-intent towards the half-wit that absconded with my stuff. The half-wit left me playing on the Wii instead of the PS3 (Playstation 3) over my Christmas holidays. The half-wit that, more painfully, has stolen all of my saved game data from the few games that I had acquired for my PS3. Many hours of whacking the white ball in Tiger Woods. Even worse was the much more difficult leveling-up required in Gran Turismo... that one REALLY hurts to consider re-doing. But I digress...

We will be attending the Church of Best Buy once they get synced with the wonderful agent from QQ Insurance. We will be able to replace the gaming system and, more importantly, the camera. I can always game on the Wii or the laptop. Taking photos without a camera? Much more difficult.

So, here I sit on tenterhooks, waiting for the chance to hook up a shiny new game console to my HD capable TV, so I can make my best impression of Tiger Woods and start beating the snot out of an imaginary golf ball. Truly, the trials of paperwork have left me wanting to really take some extra stuffing out of the imaginary white ball!!!

At least we have the insurance... it could always be worse.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sno more!!!

Alright, it's true, it's mid-January and the snow is already annoying me.

I live in Alberta, where a heavy snow-fall is measured in inches, not feet. Truly, I pity my countrymen and women who live in the snow-belt out in the eastern and atlantic time zones. Never in my life have I had to use a snow shovel to clean off my car in the morning.

What really leaves me puzzled is how people can still be surprised by snow? Hello? It's WINTER right now! We expect anything from slightly above freezing (which we had this weekend, making an absolute flaming mess of the roads) to 40 below zero, to a blizzard with snow and driving wind. It's the Canadian Prairies in winter - nothing should really surprise you out here!

So I'm driving down the highway, on my way home, this evening and encounter pokie... err... Pokie the Plodding Driver. And I do mean plodding... less than 40 km/h - on the highway. Yes, not a small little residential street, but the main highway. Speed limit is 70 kph, people drive it around 80 when it's bare... and I'm putting along doing 40.

Mrs. Spit said to me, after I relayed this story, that "Some people shouldn't be allowed to drive in winter."

Indeed, some people shouldn't be allowed to drive, period. We have a lot of population of immigrants from very warm parts of the world. What these people must think when it's -40, I have NO idea. But if you're going to try and drive in our winters, take a driving course!!! Unlike those of us who grew up driving in the winter, who still crash on a regular basis, those who have a winter where the temperature hits 10C (not -10C, but +10C) and consider it cold seem to have a much harder time adjusting to it.

Granted, I've put 137,000 km on my company truck in less than 3 years. I do a lot of driving - part of the job. I did 45,000 km last year. Not as much as some, but FAR more than most people on the road. So I've seen my share of scary driving. Heck, don't have to leave this fair city to accomplish that! It's actually worse in the city than on a rural road. Fewer people out there with less to run into - other than the errant head of cattle or recalcitrant ruminant.

So, for mercy's sake, no more!!! Or, in this weather, s'no more!!!

Oh yeah, I'm not looking forward with any glee to the long drive I have tomorrow, after a snowfall warning has swept through the area I have to go to! What's the warning? 10-15 cm (4-6 inches) of snow... it's the wind that's the debil though... thankfully I still get paid if the drive takes me twice as long to accomplish as if it were summer...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lights coming down...

Well, now that the weather has moderated somewhat this weekend, it was time to drag the ladder out of the garage. Perilously perched as the wind picked up, and the snow started to fall, I took down the Christmas lights and decorations on the front porch for another year.

Stayed away from the lights on the second floor, as it would mean perching somewhat less than safely on a snow covered roof to do so. I'm not into falling off the roof, not really my thing.

The last vestiges of Christmas are down, the house looks much less festive. And I'm mad at the world that I don't have an infant son toddling about the house. I've done a poor job at supressing this anger today. I'm doing chores on the house, trying to keep that energy directed somewhere productive. Small escape to be found in that.

We tried again this past cycle. Apparently the swimmers and the floater didn't get the right road maps synchronized, leaving Mrs. Spit feeling worse for the attempt. It's time like this where I get mad at those people who get pregnant like falling out of bed, while we try and try and get nothing but a kick in the head.

The sense of loss affects us in different ways. Mrs. Spit hates the sight of women that we know, getting pregnant and not having the balls to tell her - even though it's obvious. Me? I get frustrated. I get angry. There's only so long that I can suppress it before it bubbles to the surface at inopportune times.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The first step is to admit your addiction...

And this is as good a place as any to do it.

I, Mr. Spit, have recently become sucked into trying and enjoying, and indeed, entered a state of addiction to StumbleUpon (SU).

I kept seeing this little toolbar application as a recommended plug-in for Firefox. Oh yeah, if you're not on Firefox, you're missing TONS of great stuff, including apps that improve the experience of both gmail and greader (i.e. google reader). I downloaded the plug-in, and thus started the addiction.

Where else can you randomly while away the hours finding sites that are of interest to you - even if you didn't know that it interests you? While finding the link for SU, I saw this link about the new Presidential Limo for President-Elect Obama. It's big. I'd put a photo here, but it would probably violate a copyright (Wired magazine) and steal bandwidth from them... which Blogger tells me is a bad thing.

SU has led me to find online flash versions of games that I played on my Commodore 64 (and wow, do I suck at them now!!!), amazing photos of all manner of things, and learn new and amazing things.

Some examples:

95 Old School Games - so many games, so little time, such pitiful skill

The largest star in the universe - wow, I feel so incredibly small now... seriously (make sure you let the animated image load - it's worth the wait

86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore. You Won't Believe Who Wins. - I'm not sure if this has taken Moore's Law and beaten it into complete submission by showing that the increase in transistors is completely meaningless, or if it means that programmers now are the suck...

(Moore's Law is the empirical observation that the transistor density of integrated circuits doubles every 24 months)

I learned that, in space, metal welds together when it touches - cold welding, who knew?

There is so much on the net, so much of which is dross. The introduction of SU into my computer has brought a lot of cool, interesting, beautiful, fascinating pages onto a tab on my Firefox. And of these I have bookmarked (flagged as "I like it!") over 300 web pages. And the number keeps going up...

I am Mr. Spit. I am a StumbleUpon addict. I don't care to break this addiction.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Musically inclined

I'm sitting here, listening to that Canadian rock icon - Rush - rocking out on the "A Show of Hands" album.

The thought about those songs that get stuck in your head came to mind. You know, the last song you hear on the radio before stepping out of the car / house. Or worse, that song you hate with the catchy beat that you think of for the rest of the day, even if you don't like it.

This cartoon gave me a real chuckle today, so I'm sharing the love:

[edit - you might need to click on it to go to the page, it's too wide for Blogger :( ]

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

Watch out for Malaysia

In an odd twist to the news, I saw that (according to the Kuwait Times) Muslims in Malaysia are planning on boycotting the goods produced by many U.S. corporate giants. The biggest one to make the headline is a boycott in over 2,000 restaurants of that most universal of brands, Coca-Cola.

Now, I'm not sure just how significant this market is to Coke's world-wide intake, but it's sure to make people notice. Coca-Cola is one of the most ubiquitous corporate brands in the world. And now, to protest the involvement of the US government in the state of Israel, half a world away the people will boycott a US corporation.

Politics makes for some strange bedfellows they say. And now we have the population of a country deciding to boycott a swath of products produced in the US, because of the actions of the US government. Indeed, this is a different tactic.

I'm doing my part to support the economies of both Canada and the U.S. as I sit here on my US made laptop, with a recently emptied can of Coke Zero beside me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Shake it baby...

A friend of mine just emailed me to say that she's been shaking tonight, and not from fright.

It's odd, I see a report of an earthquake in Costa Rica, and it doesn't feel as close as when I hear of a friend experiencing another earthquake later the same day.

Then Mrs. Spit reminds me that my nephew and his wife were just in CR on vacation at Christmas, and I think - wow, that could have hit a lot closer to home.

The earth shakes. It's constantly shifting, the tectonic plates in motion. But when people I know are affected, it's a different response. We humans are an odd lot that way.

I also hope my brother had no ill effect, as he also lives near LA... not near the epicenter though.

And the ironic thing is that, oddly enough, the place where I would prefer to live is right near the confluence of three tectonic plates.

Hope the shake-up wasn't too much of a toss-up... and I'll be watching the reports to see how things shake-out... so to speak.

"Drive Safe"

Besides the fact that I'm married to Mrs. Spit, a master grammarian, and know that this turn of phrase drives her to distraction as well, I get absolutely nuts when I hear people say this! It's how I was brought up. When I was a child, my dad - who was also a high school teacher (woodworking, drafting, math) would always harp on me if I misspoke in this fashion. "Drive safe-LY" he would say. Once I learned the lesson, I would hear him talking back to the television, in the same tone.

It's winter here. It's cold, the roads are terrible. Looking out the office window I see that it is still white and snowing, -19C (-2F) - though with the wind it's -30C (-22F) with windchill. It's a typical winter day in January.

My desk sits just around the corner from the receptionist at my office. People come and go through the day, and quite often, as people are leaving, I hear her exhort people to "Drive safe!" Every time I hear this, I have an urge, that requires repression, to get up and lecture her on the English language.

Safe is not an adverb. Never has been, never will be. It's a noun and an adjective, but that's it. You can "make safe" you can own a safe, you can be safe. You can't drive safe. Maybe drive a safe, given the right circumstances, but I digress.

Sadly, in this age of ignorance that we seem to be becoming enveloped within, people don't realize that when they speak incorrectly, they sound stupid to those who know better. People generally ignore the problem because they don't know any better. They figure that adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and verbs are all things which they left behind in their English 12 course (assuming they got that far) or in their college English class. As I work with a whack of engineers, most of them try to forget that English class. Which is bothersome, as most of what we do involves communicating ideas to people, writing reports, contracts, email and so forth. Why would you want to appear ignorant and unintelligent to your client?

This remains one of my pet peeves in spoken English. It would appear to me, in retrospect, that it was a major peeve of my father as well. How far the acorn has fallen!

If you're driving in winter, I say to you: "Drive safely, it's scary out there!"

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Merry Christmas, part deux

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas...

Ukrainian Christmas that is! We just passed Epiphany (as someone not raised in the Anglican faith, this means little to me) and here we are hitting the Orthodox Church's Christmas time.

Apparently the whole Julien vs Gregorian calendar still messes with our lives, hundreds of years after we changed systems.

So, Merry Christmas all over again!

I don't <3 the maverick

For those not in the know, that means I don't 'heart' the maverick.

Am I the only one who finds it amusing that an American university is refering to it as the Queen's English? This year Lake Superior State University has released their "34th annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness"

When I hear Maverick, I think of two things - the movie Top Gun, and the movie Maverick. Neither of which had ANYTHING to do with last year's election in the US.

It's bad enough that people can't write proper English anymore, but incorporating text messenging 'emoticons' into everyday life is regrettable.

So in that spirit, all I have left to say today is the following:

My efforts to be green have been diminished by the economic downturn; the real gamechanger came when the bailout swooped into our collective consciousness, and inadvertantly increased my carbon footprint. Truly this has been an iconic year in which the desperate search for the first dude has left people waiting to take their staycation and see who will be the winner of the most Oscar nominations.

(in case that made little sense, check out the press release at this page)