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Showing posts from February, 2012

Book Review - The Shadow of the Wind

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was our book club selection for the month.

The story starts in Barcelona in 1945 just after Franco has taken over. Daniel is a young boy whose Father owns a bookstore and whose Mother is dead. His Father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books (basically a big warehouse) where he picks out a book written by Julian Carax. After reading the book in one long sitting, Daniel tries to find other books by Carax but instead finds a great deal of mystery. Carax himself is in the wind and someone is tracking down and destroying all of his published books.

Part coming of age story, part murder mystery, part historical fiction, this is a very engrossing story. I bought the book at Changing Hands on Sunday thinking I would spread it out over a few nights but ended up reading it cover to cover.

If you like your endings all tied together nicely in one big bow, this book is perfect for you. It was a little too neat for me…

Special Delivery

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One of our warehouse guys brought up a big box to my desk. It was addressed to me by name and labeled with a Gift Tree.com logo. Since I order most of the equipment and supplies for IT, I’m used to getting packages. However, they don’t usually have this label:
We joked that it must be from someone who knows me well.

I opened it up to find a note from our team in Canada saying that they hoped the contents would help with our ongoing issues. Below the note was a well packed barrel that was holding three bottles of wine.
It’s a good thing that our issues seem to be behind us or we might have just cracked them open on the spot.

There were three guys who bore the brunt of our issues and I offered each of them a bottle. One is a non-drinker so, score for me, I kept his. You gotta love the teetotalers because they leave more for the rest of us.

I’m also keeping the barrel. It will make a great display for a Parrot Grande Silent Auction item. One that has booze in it, of course.

Stress Relief

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We've had a bad few weeks at work. Like, really, really terrible. It's bad when you have to shut down your production system. It's worse when you have to do it several times and sometimes in the middle of the work day.

We thought we had it licked on Thursday night. I checked my email first thing Friday morning (literally, I didn't even get out of bed first) and everything was going well. I walked in to the office and saw one of the team standing at the monitor where we display our critical processes and knew we were back in hell.

Godsdamn.

Everyone was on the case but we were tired and worn down. I decided to share an image that I saw on Facebook that morning that was really funny. Like break a bad mood funny.

It was some much needed levity but then one of my co-workers took it even further when she found this online:


OMG, it was a hoot. You could hear the song coming from various computers as everyone watched it at their leisure. Oh, those dance moves are something!

A…

Book Review - The Drop

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The Drop by Michael Connelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoy Connelly's writing and Harry Bosch is a great character. This book finds Harry dealing with two cases. One, a cold rape/murder case and the other the determination of suicide or homicide of the son of Harry's longtime nemesis, Irvin Irving. Both cases lead to unexpected findings.

In the midst of it all, Harry pursues a romantic relationship. The guy can't seem to get a break on that front so I'm always hoping it will work out for him.

This is a great series.

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All Dressed Up With No Place To Go

I usually wear jeans to work. In the winter, I top them with a sweater. In the summer, it's a plain tee-shirt. Basic and comfortable and I'm not looking to impress anyone.

Every once in a while, I'll wear a dress or a skirt just to keep them guessing. Because, an unusual dress up day means one thing in the corporate world - job interview!

Today, I wore a herring bone skirt, black tights, a short sleeve white sweater and dress loafers. Heels were too much. I knew that it would get a reaction and, sure enough, my boss asked me (in front of everyone) if I had a job interview today. I said, "Yes, and I'm leaving at 4."

The reality was that our CFO was speaking to a local professional organization and I was, along with a few co-workers, going to see him. I figured it would be prudent to dress nicely, especially since I knew he would.

The day turned out to be one of good news and bad news. Good in that I didn't have an interview because I would have had to canc…

Heat Seekers

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I can't believe I'm watching another show on The Food Network. For someone who's an intermittent foodie at best, I sure have a lot of food related shows on my DVR.

Confession, I started watching Heat Seekers because I have a total celeb crush on Aarón Sanchez. He's the nicest, yet still honest, judge on Chopped and I think he's adorable to look at as well. Win, win. For me, perhaps, not for him.
The premise of the show is that the two hosts travel to different cities, interview chefs and try hot (as in spicy) food. I've only watched a couple of episodes but they seem to start with spicy then end with lava hot spicy. They get the recipes from the chefs, often help to prepare the food, give commentary on the flavors then egg each other on to finish the hottest dishes.

What I like (besides the eye candy) is that some of the dishes are ones that I would try. I really like spicy food. What I don't like is food that's so spicy that it just burns and you can&#…

Wishful Thinking Turned Into Reality

Last week was pretty stressful at work. The low point was on Thursday when we had both a hardware and a software problem that was affecting our production environment. Between planning a system outage, interviewing job candidates and monitoring processes and data to make sure they weren’t breaking anything, it was a hell of a day.

I ran out to get some drive-thru to eat at my desk. As I was leaving Sonic (where they gave me crappy tater tots to add to my crappy day), my mind went through some thoughts like this, “I have a full tank of gas, my seat warmer is on high and I’m in my bitchen’ car that I love to drive. I could just not go back to work, keep driving and not have to stop for 400 miles.”

Man, that sounded good.

In fact, it sounds like the beginning of a novel where the hero decides to chuck it all, and after a series of laughable misadventures, ends up with a better job, the perfect significant other and lives happily ever after.

In my world, it would end with unemployment, homele…

Book Review - A History of the World in 100 Objects

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A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is really dense. Literally and figuratively. The text is over 650 pages and there's an additional 50 for reference material. I actually had to take a break every few objects or so just to rest my hands. Oh, to have an iPad!

MacGregor is the Director for the British Museum and the basis of this book started with a BBC radio show where they described and detailed out the relevance of each object. I'm happy that I read the actual text because it's supplemented by some beautiful photos.

From ancient tools, pots and carvings to maps, coins, instruments and even the credit card, MacGregor does a great job of explaining the history of the object as well as it's relation to the world as it existed in its time. It was quite the history lesson and full of the trivia that I love to know and spout in order to look smarter than I am.

This would be a great read for a history buff.

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Kindred Spirits

A new employee told the story in a meeting today about taking her cat through security at the airport. Long story short, you have to take your cat out of the carrier and hers was so unhappy she bit her. Enough to require medical attention. Bummer.

After the meeting, I went over to her office to ask about her cats. We both pulled out our phones and showed pictures. Her girl cat looks a lot like George. She even had a video of her boy cat grooving to some music.

It was fun.

She said it was nice to meet another cat person and I told her to try to meet my friend Tina who's also a cat Mommy.

I imagine this is what people with small children do to bond. But, in my world, I think it's just the start of Crazy Cat Lady League.

Hannibal, Who?

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I was in a meeting this week at work when the name Hannibal came up. I asked the meeting facilitator if he knew who the original Hannibal was.

He said, "I know Lecter and the one from the A-Team."

I was aghast.
Even with prompts such as "ancient general", "greatest tactician of all time", "crossed the Alps...with elephants!", he had no clue. He blamed the Singapore school system for his lack of knowledge.

I told him the incident was going on Facebook which it did at first opportunity. There, one of my Canadian friends posted that he didn't know who he was either. So, the Canadian school system apparently sucks, too.

Wondering if it was an age thing, one of the guys is a lot younger than I, I asked a co-worker who's near the same age as the Canadian. He knew who he was and said he learned the story in grade school as I did.
I spent the next several days quizzing people. Some flat out had no idea, some knew the name and felt like they shou…

A Bona Fide Miracle

Shortly after I bought my last Dell laptop a few years back, I spilled literally 3 drops of wine on it and killed the touchpad. The keyboard worked fine but the touchpad wouldn't respond to move the pointer nor would it work for left or right clicking.

I resigned myself to having to use a mouse which wasn't always convenient on a small table or airline tray.

Then, I got my MacBook Pro and the use of my Dell dramatically decreased. I still have iTunes on it and a lot of old photos and documents but, 99% of the time, if I'm on a computer at home, it's the Mac.

Because I have years of history with my tax software on my Dell, I fired it up to do this year's taxes. Without thinking, I ignored the mouse and realized several minutes into the process that the touchpad was fully functional again.

What the...?

Seriously, it hasn't worked in literally years because I would periodically try. Why it's now come back to life is beyond my simple understanding so it must be…

Book Review - Pest Control

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Pest Control by Bill Fitzhugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very funny book. Bob Dillon is a pest control guy with dreams of creating a pesticide-free method for killing bugs. Through a comedy of errors, he's mistaken for a hitman known as The Exterminator. Soon, there's a $10 million bounty on his head and his only hope of survival is a partnership with the clinically depressed top assassin in the world. Good characters and lots of jabs at life in NYC.

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Stroll Down Memory Lane

I've sat in eight different places in the thirteen years I've been at this job. Thirteen years is a long time to accumulate a lot of crap. Places -3 and -4 were in a building across the street where no one moved in after we left. Most of us left a lot of detritus in our wake.

We finally got the "clean your crap out now, dammit" message this week so a few of us went over after lunch to sift through it all.

It was like a trip in the way back machine.

We found pictures from 2002 and 2003. I found a manual that a previous employee put together in 07/98 that I took over in 09/98. There were also countless software and hardware manuals (floppys from 2002!) and meeting notes as far back as 2001. We guessed at whose handwriting we found on documents and binders.

Ultimately, the three of us came away with a small box of Halloween decorations, our old Christmas stockings that we made probably ten years ago, a cord and one manual. I also retrieved Sugar Daddy's CDs which we…

Does This Make Me A Nerd?

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As part of our big Calgary project, we had to migrate their order data into our system. Our databases could not be more different so there's been a lot of spot testing of results.

I started today on comparing a full month's worth of data and ended up having to reconcile on an order by order basis. It was a lot of running queries, calculator work and looking at spreadsheets.

And, I liked it.

It was actually rewarding to have a concrete task like that. Interpreting their data (they count returns as orders!?!?), finding the discrepancies and ultimately tying out the numbers. That's stuff that I dig. It's just so satisfying to have all of the problems solved.

I think it harkens back to my days and actual beancounter where I did a lot of this every day:

Would I ever want to go back to Accounting as a career? No frakking way. But, it was nice to revisit that world for a day. Now, if it turns into a week long visit, I'm going to be very unhappy.

Alcatraz

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There are some shows that I miss very much and am looking for a replacement for. Lost is one of those shows. It wasn't perfect but it kept me from the first episode to the series finale. (Sorry, 24, I gave up.) So, when I heard that JJ Abrams of Lost fame was an executive producer of Alcatraz, I knew I had to give it a shot.


For some reason, my DVR didn't capture the first two episodes on so I had to watch them online. I mentioned that on Facebook and someone asked me my opinion so far. My reply was that, "...even though he's old, I would do Sam Neil (sic)".  I'm not sure that's the opinion they were looking for but it was my initial impression. He's still hot for a guy who's old enough to be my father.

I've now watched the first five episodes and, while I won't say it's the next Lost for me, it's still intriguing and I like it. They've had some good guest stars (Hoyt!) and the plot is evolving.

For those that don't know, t…

My New Bacon

Everyone knows that bacon is the best food ever. It's just that awesome. You can put it with shrimp, steak, salad, greens, even chocolate (though I haven't actually tried that) and it just makes thing better.

However, I've found a new favorite that might equal bacon. It's a hot Italian sausage that is made locally and that they're selling at Fry's.

I've put it in spaghetti sauce, cooked it with greens and pasta and eaten it on its own. Yummers!

Tonight, I tried something new and it was dee-licious.

I had some organic butternut squash to use so I improvised a recipe. One that didn't set my smoke alarm off, either, so score!

I started with some olive oil in a pan then cooked the ground sausage until it was brown. I then put in cut up squash (pieces that were about 3/4 by 1/2 inch) and a couple of dashes of Italian spice mix. I stirred it all up until the squash was fully coated with the spice and the grease from the sausage then put the lid on for 10 minu…

The Finder

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I'm a big fan of Bones so when show creator Hart Hanson said he had a new show, I was in. It's about a guy who has incredible skills for finding (hence the title). People, items, whatever. Once he's on the mission, he'll go until he finds what he's looking for or die trying. I know this because they keep harping on it.

Unfortunately, they did a pilot episode of sorts during a Bones episode and I didn't really like it. It just seemed to be try too hard to be clever yet came across as disjointed and Saffron Burrows as the British bartender didn't work at all. I almost didn't watch the show because of my first impression but Steven told me it was worth it.
Fortunately, they did some rebooting when they started the actual series. Michael Clarke Duncan is still on as Walter's lawyer (and also a bar owner) and they added a hot female FBI agent (like her) and an actual Gypsy teen on probation (still undecided on that character). Burrows' bartender is g…

Am I The Only One?

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Or, does everyone else hear Werewolves of London when they see this?


Cheaper Than Buying One at Petsmart

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In my 2011 holiday letter, I wrote how I’ve been traveling so much that I don’t put my suitcases away anymore and that George is now using them as her cat beds.

I just spent six days in Calgary for work and the suitcase is still on the floor from when I got home on Friday night.

This is what I saw this morning when I went into my bedroom to finish getting dressed:


Unfortunately for George, I needed to get in the suitcase to get some work papers out. After desperately clinging to the top (claws extended and clamped on) she finally had to slide off as I lifted the lid. Not even the demon can fight gravity.

I laughed at her but she got the last word. As she was slinking away, she gave me a full claw swipe on my leg. Fortunately, I was already in my jeans or I think she would have drawn blood.

She’s either really attached to her “bed” or she’s really attached to me and has figured out the association of the suitcase being gone when I’m gone so she’s going to hang on to it for dear life.

Super Bore Sunday

I have a confession to make. “Forgive me, football gods, for I have sinned...”

I didn’t watch one minute of the Super Bowl. Not the pre-game, not the game, not the half time show, not a single commercial.

Having neither affection nor antipathy for either team, I couldn’t summon the energy to care. I figured I could see all the commercials that people liked online afterwards so that wasn’t a draw. And, I guess Wayne Newton wasn’t available so they asked Madonna for halftime. Seriously, is there not one contemporary artist or group that they could find?

The closest I got to the game was when Crime Dog posted something about 9 and 0 being a good square so I went to NFL.com to see who had the 9 and who had the 0. Alas, my 9 and 0 were the wrong way.

Based on my Facebook feed, the game was either a mess by the Patriots or a great game by the Giants. And, Madonna was either the best halftime show ever or just meh. There were only a few commercials that people talked about so I think don’t thin…

Scared Straight?

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This was George on Friday night as I was trying to bring in all of my luggage from my trip to Calgary last week. I tried to corner her but she got around me and was headed out to the sidewalk to either the parking lot or the street before I got to her. (This is actually a corner where I had her contained while I took the picture. She whipped past me right after that.)
Clearly, the very stern, "Babies don't go outside!" is no longer working.
She got past me again today as I was bringing in groceries. This time, I didn't have to shoo her in, however.
There was a dog in the common area across from my front door. It either heard me or smelled her as it started barking.
She could not have run into the house any faster. It made me laugh.
I saw the dog and it was smaller than she is. There's no doubt in my mind she could tear it up. But, as long as there's doubt in her mind, we're good.
I'm hoping her little demon brain remembers the scary dog the next time…

When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

And your clothes and your hair and even your shoes.

There are a lot of things I enjoyed in my younger days but that I don't actually miss.

One of those things was getting dressed up to go out to clubs with loud music and dancing and partying until last call. Now, I want to go where my friends and I can converse without yelling and where I can wear jeans and a t-shirt and not look underdressed. I still stay out late compared to my companions but my days of staying for the after hours party are long gone.

Another thing that I don't miss is coming home reeking of smoke. There were no smoking restrictions back then so I'd come home in the wee hours of the morning and have the mental debate of whether to shower before going to bed or not. If I showered, I wouldn't wake up with my pillow and my hair completely infused with smoke. If I didn't shower, I wouldn't wake up with a pillow and hair that was still wet. There was no way I was drying it before I went to bed sin…

Book Review - Mr. Monk on the Couch

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Mr. Monk on the Couch by Lee Goldberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I somehow missed this one when it came out.

There are two stories in this one. Monk tries to track down a serial killer while Natalie tries to discover the identity of an unknown man. The latter died of natural causes so neither the police nor Monk are interested in the case so she investigates with some help from Ambrose and Yuki.

Nice development of Natalie's skills and personality.

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