Archive for July, 2008|Monthly archive page

Borked

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

For a while now, there been some schmutz in the drain of my bathroom sink. I’m convinced that my favourite toothpaste is the culprit – it’s these weird black kind of semi-solid that I in no way wish to touch. Anyway, I got the coat hanger out because drainage was slowing down and I poked around a bit and got some of it out, but some of it clearly went further down.

Because over a week ago, it got really slow. I couldn’t use a drain cleaner because the automatic stopper part rotted off a while ago and I have duct tape around the open hole where it used to be.

Anyway, two days ago, it just stopped draining at all. So tonight I though I’d try freeing the trap and cleaning that out to see if I could fix it.

The first nut came off really easily and I was feeling rather buoyant at my ability to handle small household crises. But when I tried the second nut, the whole thing came off. At the sink. Left half the threads in there where it had rotted out after, I’m guessing, 40 years or so of hard use.

Now this is a bit of a dilemma. My father is coming up in about a month and we’re moving the sink and putting in a new one, and it seems to be that the schmutz has migrated into the pipe that goes into the wall. Doesn’t make much sense to fix it all now.

So if you are coming to visit, you may be asked to wash your hands in the kitchen. I’m all kinds of classy.

Moments and a funeral

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Dad: My arms make me look like an old man. Look at them. I see them at night…

Me: …and you feel old.

Dad: Yeah. That’s the only thing that’s old. I need some really expensive lotion, like rich ladies use.

Me: Something with stem cells in it and a nice perfume.

Dad: Yeah. That’d do it.

Dad (wearing new white t-shirt I brought back for him from France): See, my new t-shirt is dirty already.

Me: That’s because you were crawling around under Aunt F’s house.

Dad: Yeah, but I can’t keep clean. They could put me on the space shuttle in sterile conditions and I’d still get dirty.

Me: That’s because you’d be taking shit apart and trying to fix it even though they told you not to.

Dad: True. True.

We steeled ourselves for holy sturm and drang from the god people. The church was full with parishioners on a Friday morning who parted like a sea as the family was escorted in to the front of the building – it was moving even though I actively discount everything they were about to say. There were three preachers who did their best to “tone it down” so that the non-god people wouldn’t storm the pulpit and carry them out. The word “righteous” was used with gleeful abandon and people were testifying in the aisles. I concentrated on memories of earlier times when some of the people in the audience were more excited about trying to jump across a campfire without burning their clothing off in fits of drunken prowess.

12 remaining siblings each gave a flower to the casket before it was ready to go into the ground. My brother, sister-in-law and father and I walked around to where my Grannie is buried with Pappy and 2 of my father’s brothers. One of them isn’t named yet on the headstone.

There are hundreds of people having lunch back at the church. Some haven’t seen each other in 20 or 30 years and there are cries of “Oh my god – look at you!” across the room. Many people know who I am though I don’t know them. They say that I look the same as I did when I was a little girl. They want to know what the world is like, since I have been further away than Northern Ontario.

The alliance of family falls apart after that and back to the ancient and ongoing lines drawn between groups for misdeeds and fights over dead moose. Each one thinks the other one is the asshole. Most are united in their love of beer as a way of dealing.

I try to go for a walk at my uncle’s house back into the bush. I end up speed-walking back toward civilization waving my hands frantically around my head as the blackflies and deerflies descend, drunk on the smell of city meat.

My aunt tells a story of how a bear came out of the bush at the local Timmies, on his hind legs and laser-focused on a lady and her dog in the parking lot. All of the patrons and workers ran out of the building to distract him from his prey but he wasn’t interested. Finally, a guy pulled up in his pick-up and went at the bear at a good speed, horn blaring. The bear took the hint and wandered back into the bush. He (the guy, not the bear) got a free Timmies.

We pick up my aunt at my other aunt the widow’s house at 5am, and give a final hug.  My aunt the widow  chokes up a bit as we talk about how she will adjust without the constant stream of visitors who have been with her for the past week. She makes a joke and the verge of tears passes.

Put on the lifejacket!

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Okay, then. We just received about 3 inches of rain in 30 minutes or so, and big “go boom” thunder and lightning. My back porch flooded a bit, and I have some trickles of water in my basement, which I’ve never had before. It’s done nothing, on top of that, to remove the 100% humidity we have.

I worked up a sweat dragging furniture from the porch to the basement (the dry part) and checking out other parts of the house.

More is on the way. Since when do we live in Mombai??

Meme

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Stolen from Melle and Violet

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What time did you get up this morning?

Around 6am – my usual time.

Diamonds or pearls?

Neither, really. How about a cool piece of amber?

What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

Don’t remember.

What is your favourite TV show?

My roll call is similar to Melle’s:  House, Bones, Doctor Who, Torchwood, America’s Best Dance Crew… but also all of the science shows on Discovery, Time Team, Re/Genesis and  SYTYCD.

What do you usually have for breakfast?

Energy bar and yoghurt.

What food do you dislike?

Cauliflower is evil. Cherries are evil. Freakin’ bubble tea is scary. Ginger is gross.

What kind of car do you drive?

Subaru Legacy with my beloved sunroof and bum-warmers.

Favourite sandwich?

Tuna with onion. Toasted tomato. Ham and goat cheese (also toasted).

What characteristic(s) do you despise?

The impulse to always correct people, practical jokers, rushing to (pretend) intimacy, sanctimony.

Favourite item of clothing?

A group of paint-spattered sweatshirts.

If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?

Angkor Wat

Are you an organized person?

Better at work than at home. Messy feels protective sometimes.

Where would you like to retire to?

Southern England or Southern France or a little village in Scotland, maybe?

What was your most recent memorable birthday?

Last was memorable for the number. I’ve had some doozies along the way.

What are you going to do when you finish this?

Read and then go to bed.

When is your next birthday?

Very soon.

Morning person or night person?

Morning, but if I get my nap, then night isn’t so bad.

What is your shoe size?

6.5 or a 7

Pets?

Mr JL

Any new and exciting news you’d like to share with us?

Perhaps a secret shame: I want to see the X-Files movie ;)

What did you want to be when you were little?

Brain surgeon, journalist, teacher.

How are you today?

Fine. And you?

What is your favourite flower?

Rose of Sharon. Rhododendron.

What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to?

Lunch with my girls. Helen’s wedding.

What are you listening to?

Played some Prince this morning. Very satisfying.

Do you wish on stars?

Only shooting ones.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

99FF33 or  66CCCC (they’re HTML crayons. What?)

How is the weather right now?

Cool and damp – good for sleeping, though.

Last person you spoke to on the phone?

My Dad.

Favourite soft drink?

None.

Favourite restaurant?

Verses in Kitchener, of course. Bhima’s. Kismet. Ben Tanh.

Hair color?

Dirty blond. Emphasis on the dirty ;)

What was your favourite toy as a child?

Mrs Beasley sure got a work-out. But my true love was always books.

Summer or winter?

Summer. Absolutely.

Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate, except for ice cream.

Coffee or tea?

Life sucks without caffeine because the coffee world has become limited. I still drink decaf every morning. Tea, especially in the winter is strictly for evening.

When was the last time you cried?

I read a blog entry that got me.

What is under your bed?

Some of those “under the bed” storage boxes that have my old daybooks in them.

What did you do last night?

Got caught up in a book and stayed awake far too late reading it.

What are you afraid of?

Being old and alone. Albino earwigs.

Salty or sweet?

Sweet. But every once in a while, the salt is the meaning of life.

How many keys on your key ring?

About 7? Quite a few anyway.

How many years at your current job?

Almost 2.

Favourite day of the week?

Sunday.

Do you make friends easily?

Not really, but once made, it’s a strong bond.

A science project is not good business

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

If you’ve ever worked at a startup or you’re considering starting one, read this article: Monitor110: A Post Mortem.

Too much money + two leaders + letting tech trump business + not getting customer input early enough = FAIL. Come to think of it, whether you’re a startup or not (and good golly, I think I’ve visited every node in that equation). I admit to a few shudders as I was reading the article, and I’m a little surprised (refreshingly so) at the candour with which it’s written.

The problem was, however, that when it came time to make hard decisions the two-headed structure really didn’t work. It was a technology company working to solve a complex problem, and ultimately technology dominated the discussion. Ultimately, we ended up building something that the business side was not happy with, which made selling it difficult.

If you ask a developer what the problem is, they’ll tell you it’s “feature creep” (i.e. business’s fault); if you ask the business what the problem is, they’ll tell you it’s bad coding, not enough coding… (i.e. tech’s fault). What not many seem to do well is step back, join forces, and let the market decide. As long as we are making up the problem to be solved within the confines of the company, it will get more complex and our solution will be more likely to be wrong, and late:

Is it better to wait a bit before releasing to have a more compelling product or to begin getting feedback on a less impressive offering? We chose #1; in retrospect I think we should have chosen #2. By choosing to wait we lost our intimacy with the customer [...], falling into the classic [...] trap of pursuing a “science project,” not building a commercially salable product.

I was a bit surprised that a startup fell into this trap so early in its life, but I sadly report this as epidemic in larger companies. The bigger the brand, or the larger the product cost, or the more management levels a company has, it becomes impossible to let anything out of the door unless it is labelled “done”. Sometimes this means pushing shitty stuff out there because customers have been promised “something” for a long time now and they are now, rightly so, demanding “something”. But it’s the company that assumes that what is shown must be “done”.

These two things–the division between tech and business, and the extreme arrogance of presuming to know what customers really will buy without finding out–are the root cause of most of the problems that businesses face. Find a way to work together and to constantly put yourself out there, and I think you’ll be happier, your customers will be happier and there’s a better chance that you’ll build something viable (of course, there’s always the possibility that you find out what your are building isn’t wanted, but that’s important to know too).

It’s hard to be allowed to make mistakes or to ask questions of your customers, in public, to which you don’t know the answers. It’s hard not to change the reqs because Customer A screams loudly about what your product should or should not do. But if Customer A is not your only customer, then you need the constant reality check of checking in.

A science project, …or an ego project, is not good business.

(Link via VC)

Joss is still my master

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

If you’ve been awake at some point during the last week, you should have watched all 3 acts of Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog by now. If you haven’t, stop reading and go watch it!

(more…)

Me and my trashy friends

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Melle and I went to visit our friend S last night at his humble (i.e. huge) home. We started out on the back deck because he didn’t want us loitering on the front porch where we might have to engage the neighbours. As the lightning got closer to the house we had to abandon that idea, and we moved the party to the garage, complete with deck chairs, chips & cheesies, some excellent scotch and cigars.

So, we ended up watching the street while I had my first cigar! Once I got it lit, I practiced not inhaling. Scotch was the perfect complement to the puffing and kvetching and we had more than a few laughs about .com adventures, The Princess Bride, locats, Dr Horrible and local billionaires.

After we adjourned to the cavernous basement, complete with a tweed lazyboy, we managed to catch the end of SYTYCD. We tried to find “Mad Men” but the tv was uncooperative and kept asking us to rechannel. Since none of us are familiar with the art of mediumship, we had to give up.

Best news of all, we presume that S has a “guy” who will clean up the mess we left behind. Everyone should have a guy for that.

I was still tasting cigar well after lunchtime today. Good time had by all and no neighbours crashed the party.

OMG, black holes!!!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Probably just wishful thinking from the local newspaper, but an invitation has been extended to Stephen Hawking to join his pal Neil at Perimeter and apparently he hasn’t said no yet. I predicted we’d get a visit, but a permanent or long-term appointment – oooh! Can you imagine what kind of chain reaction would be catalysed in the physics world if this came to pass?

Hopefully, his first visit won’t be in January or we’ll lose him for sure.

Link from Melle

That ain’t good…

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

A Message From the Doctor Horrible team:

“We love you for crashing the site, we really do. In the meantime, those of you who have iTunes capabilities can go there and get your fix. Our site should be up and running again in a few hours. Your support is warming our hearts and kicking our asses. So thank you thank you. J, M, J, Z”

Grrr. Argh.

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Update: Success!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Lee – it’s pretty awesome :)

One more sleep!

Monday, July 14th, 2008

http://www.drhorrible.com/