Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Damn Rights, You're Sorry!

Before the beginning of July, I was offered a promotion. (I’ve written about this promotion) The salary was the only sticking point as I’d been doing the job for the past year as it was.

Friday, I learned that the request for salary increase had not yet left the HR guy’s desk.

For three weeks.

I was tempted, very tempted, to tell my boss that I didn’t want his promotion and that I would go back to my lowly position as Document Specialist. I held back from that but made myself feel better by applying for programming jobs. (I’ve received two in-person interviews for programming positions, and both because of someone I knew – thanks, James – and I comfort myself at times when my job sucks by applying for other jobs. A harmless, futile effort but it’s healthier than alcohol or heroin – cheaper, too)

I was not the only person upset by this development. As you may have guessed, my boss felt like an idiot for not following up (though, why should he, when it’s a pretty simple matter to send out mail) and if there’s one thing the big Scotsman doesn’t like, it’s looking like an idiot.

Monday morning, my boss apparently went up one side and down the other of Mr. HR All-Star. He seemed pretty satisfied that there would be no more delays.

I don’t know what he said to HR, but this morning, the stunned one in question apologized to me for the delay. He explained that it wasn’t his fault, pushed the blame onto someone else (again, what about the follow-up?) and apologized five or six more times. He’s full of crap, this I know. It isn’t the other person’s job to do his job, and even if he did push it onto her, it’s his job to make sure that it gets done. Here, my boss and I had thought that it was going through the approval process, I was sitting on pins and needles (whatever that means) waiting to hear about my future and this guy went on vacation with my raise sitting on his desk.

You’re goddamn right, you’re sorry.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Family Dog

This is Jack.

We got Jack from the SPCA in November, 2004. This was an attempt to head-off the baby craze that hit both Kim and I in the insane post-wedding haze. (We'd originally wanted to wait until summer 2005 to begin trying - you can imagine how well our plan worked out)

Jack immediately became part of the family - running around like crazy, destroying things, upsetting the near-perfect calm that had settled in to the Johnstone House as we got into some semblance of a routine. In other words, he was the canine equivalent of Nicholas.

It was a close thing - we didn't know if we were going to be able to keep Jack, around the new year. He was getting worse, not better. Destroyed items were a common thing, it was cold outside and there was nowhere for our insane little Jack Russell Terrier to go. He bit Nicholas a couple of times - it was never very severe, but who wants to wait for that?

Finally, when Jack could spend some time outside, he started to mellow out. "Give it time," was a common line heard by friends and dog-fans. Nobody really wanted to say goodbye. And finally, our patience had paid off. Sure, he's a long way from perfect. He barks a lot and pees on people at the off-leash area, but he's part of the family and we won't be getting rid of him.

Jack enjoys swimming, nuzzling ducklings with his teeth, sleeping, running and chewing on his yellow blanket. By all evidence, he's probably a Sagittarius and his pet peeve is anything on wheels.

Bloggers, Jack.

Jack, Bloggers.

The Annual Great Halliburton Summer Picnic

Based on last year’s extravaganza, I had a great feeling that this year’s company picnic would be another success. I was right.

Although not as big as last year’s eleven-to-seven Sun-Fest, this year’s lineup included a large buffet-style lunch with steak as the main course. (Kim didn’t want hers, so I ended up with two steaks – shoulda gotten one for Nick too) After that, it was a somewhat-less-than-brisk walk down 1920’s ave (I’d just loaded up on food – brisk was somewhat beyond me) and back in time for the entertainment.

Professional entertainers are a dangerous gamble. If you get someone who has become a professional comedian based on the fact that “Everyone thinks I’m funny – just ask mom”, you’re in for a long afternoon. Fortunately, the garbanzo brothers, or whatever they called themselves, did a pretty good job. Somehow, they randomly picked my boss for the ultra-embarrassing table-act. Very funny. And they juggled, which can save any quasi-horrible act.

The fact that this was the second year at Fort Edmonton didn’t ruin the experience, since it’s a big place and the focus of this year’s picnic was actually at the picnic area, rather than sight-seeing. Or maybe that was the focus for me since I’d been there before. Given the rapid turnover at Halliburton, I’m sure there were a log of wide-eyed touristy-types, gaping at the old-timey costumes and the locomotive.

In the end, they forwent a door-prize and gave all Halliburton employees a picnic set which included dishes, a cooler and wheels. All hail Halliburton, empire of fun!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Slowps from the slopes

Kim and I went to see "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" at the Cheap Seats on Saturday and I don’t know for sure if I’ve ever enjoyed a movie there as much as this one. It was fun, funny, smart, original and silly. I don’t think there’s anything as funny as a whale falling to earth. I had lots of opportunity to read the book before seeing the movie but I never did. My regret for that is small, though, since I’ll make reading it a priority.

Water fights are just as fun now as they were when I was a kid. The only difference: I’m better than I was then. Now, instead of five-year-olds pelting me with water until I shrieked and ran away, now I’m the one pelting the five-year-olds, and they’re running away. There were a few cases where I had to take matters into my own hands and throw the odd kindergartener or pre-teen into the pool but I can’t just let them get away with trying to throw me in. I am all that is man.

I’m having a very hard time getting into the current CFL season. I haven’t seen a single game, though I’ve listened to snippets of Eskimos radio broadcasts. It’s not worth it. Bryan Hall is the worst radio guy I’ve ever heard. Maybe if I actually sat down and watched some football, I would be more inclined to pay attention but it’s just not holding my interest. Maybe around Labor Day…

I’m still waiting to hear back from my boss’ boss’ boss about whether I will be taking the position of Data Management Supervisor. The anticipation is killing me, although I guess that the fact that it’s taking longer is a good thing. It means that it must have gotten through my boss’s boss or it would have come back much sooner. I’m optimistic that when I hear back, it will be a positive, positive day.

Ninja versus pirates wouldn’t be much of a battle. Sure, pirates are good at bullying innocent towns and lobbing the occasional cannon ball at an unsuspecting military sloop but I don’t think they’d last very long against the greatest of all assassins. I bet that ninjas on boats (which is the coolest thing ever) would make better pirates than pirates.

I left Rob high-and-dry on Saturday. He was putting in laminate. I helped him with the sub-floor and then left him to go to church. There was no church-going that day, though, as the grandparents of my son, the parents of my wife and my in-laws all got together and changed the plan at the last moment. This is not a bad thing, as it gave Kim and I a very enjoyable evening together. I broke my promise not to pick up more books. (Honestly, we took books in for sale – they were going to give us $35 in trade or $11 in cash – what would YOU have done?) but I only got two, where Kim got a whopping FOUR. We also watched the movie and went out for East Indian desserts.

I went to church the next day, however, at a church that has a priest who looks like a hockey coach. I find it hard to imagine myself taking spiritual advice from a man who looks like he’d tell me to “take a lap” for my unfaith and assign a penance of “35 squat-thrusts”. “…the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever – HIT THE SHOWERS! ” Just before the sacrifice (where the Catholics eat Jesus), what looked like most of the kids in the church lined up for hugs from Coach Priestly. I fought the temptation to make some kind of comment because the gesture seemed genuine and heartfelt. Kim asked Nick if he wanted to go up and he said no. His reason? “There’s a lineup.” Oh, sure, he’d go hug the priest, he just doesn’t want to deal with the logjam of other kids, hugging their way into heaven.

Friday, July 08, 2005

My Books

This is a list of my "to-be-read" books. It's not intended for your entertainment - it's just here so that I have them somewhere I can refer to them. However, if the list does provide you with amusement, so much the better.

Ten Little Indians - Agatha Christie
Death on the Nile - Agatha Christie
Curtains: Poirot's Last Case - Agatha Christie
Philosophy: Who needs it - Ayn Rand
Viking Mythology - Brian Branston
Rattle His Bones - Carola Dunn
Tower of the King's Daughter - Chaz Brenchley
Shadow Dawn - Chris Claremont
Shadow Moon - Chris Claremont
The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Reluctant Swordsman - Dave Duncan
Sky of Swords - Dave Duncan
Lord of the Fire Lands - Dave Duncan
Queen of Demons - David Drake
Servant of the Dragon - David Drake
Mistress of Catacombs - David Drake
Brotherhood of the Wolf - David Farland
Runelords - David Farland
Waylander - David Gemmell
Hero in the Shadows - David Gemmell
The Covenant of the Flame - David Morrell
Shattered Trust - Don Pendleton
Shifting Shadows - Don Pendleton
Judgment Day - Don Pendleton
All Families are Psychotic - Douglas Coupland
The Vacant Throne - Ed Greenwood
The Big Bounce - Elmore Leonard
Pagan Babies - Elmore Leonard
Cuba Libre - Elmore Leonard
Dune - Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert
Children of Dune - Frank Herbert
The Face of Apollo - Fred Saberhagen
The Fionavar Tapestry - Guy Gavriel Kay
A Song for Arbonne - Guy Gavriel Kay
The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories - Henry James
Dead and Buried - Howard Engel
GeoMancer - Ian Irvine
Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
Uther - Jack Whyte
The Singing Sword - Jack Whyte
The Jackal of Nar - John Marco
Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
The Arabian Nights - Kate Douglas Wiggin
Days of Blood and Fire - Katherine Kerr
Camber of Culdi - Katherine Kurtz
Deryni Rising - Katherine Kurtz
The Magi'I of Cyador - L. E. Modesitt Jr.
The White Order - L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Battlefield Earth - L. Ron. Hubbard
Once upon a time - Lester Del Rey
The Copper Beech - Maeve Binchy
Forging the Darksword - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Doom of the Darksword - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Triumph of the Darksword - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Time of the Twins - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
War of the Twins - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Test of the Twins - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Guardians of the Lost - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Omerta - Mario Puzo
Gates of Winter - Mark Anthony
The Hollow Hills - Mary Stewart
The Fortress of the Pearl - Michael Moorcock
The Folk of the Fringe - Orson Scott Card
Red Prophet - Orson Scott Card
Rebekah - Orson Scott Card
Murder at San Simeon - Patricia Hearst
Backseat Quarterback - Perian Conerly
Court Jesters - Peter MacDonald
The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman
The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman
The Demon Awakens - R. A. Salvatore
Conan of Cimmeria - R. E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp, C. Carter
Myst: The Book of Atrus - Rand and Robyn Miller
Farewell, My Lovely - Raymond Chandler
Prince of the Blood - Raymond Feist
Faerie Tale - Raymond Feist
The Black Mountain - Rex Stout
Perchance to dream - Robert B Parker
Conan: The Sword of Skelos - Robert E. Howard
Fallon Legacy - Robert Jordan
The Further Chronicles of Conan - Robert Jordan
Conan: The Destroyer - Robert Jordan
The Fallon Blood - Robert Jordan
The Gates of Dawn - Robert Newcomb
Lord Valentine's Castle - Robert Silverberg
Valentine Pontifex - Robert Silverberg
Gilgamesh the King - Robert Silverberg
To Open the Sky - Robert Silverberg
Skin Deep, Blood Red - Robert Skinner
Mad Ship - Robin Hobb
Deerskin - Robin McKinley
The Mask of Loki - Roger Zelazny and Thomas T. Thomas
The Wayfarer Redemption - Sara Douglass
Enchanter - Sara Douglass
Battle Axe - Sara Douglass
The Scorpion - Stephen D. Sullivan
The Wounded Land - Stephen R. Donaldson
The One Tree - Stephen R. Donaldson
White Gold Wielder - Stephen R. Donaldson
Daughter of Regals & Other Tales - Stephen R. Donaldson
Memories of Ice - Steven Erickson
House of Chains - Steven Erickson
Wizard of the Grove - Tanya Huff
First King of Shannara - Terry Brooks
Antrax - Terry Brooks
The Darkness and The Dawn - Thomas B. Costain
A Canticle for Liebowitz - Walter M. Miller Jr.
CS Lewis A Biography - Wilson

Thursday, July 07, 2005

100 things? Really? Wow.

In the spirit of ripping-off that has become the great legacy of In the Now, here are my 100 things about me:

1) I was either named after the singer Liam Clancy or not named after him, depending on if you talk to my mom or my dad
2) I first got drunk at the age of eight. I haven’t been drunk since.
3) My brother once shot me with a B.B. gun. I really don’t think he knew it was loaded. His response to my cries of distress? “If you tell anyone, I’ll shoot you again.”
4) I think I like Johnny Bravo more than I like The Simpsons.
5) I have no feeling on parts of two fingers and part of my right ankle. I stabbed myself through the hand while separating beef patties and surgery took care of my ankle.
6) People falling down generally makes me laugh.
7) My grandma once chased me around, both inside and outside, clapping her hands and yelling “Pants!” I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared.
8) I get free coffee, tea and iced tea at work and I usually only take advantage of the coffee. (and the water)
9) When I was younger, I wanted to be a carpenter or a writer. When I think about it, nothing has changed. I still want to whack nails with a hammer.
10) The only difference between me on the outside and me on the inside is that I babble on the inside.
11) I get scared by the magnitude of some of the things I try to do.
12) I’m going to have a BABY!
13) I actually feel bad for Tom Cruise.
14) I’m still not sure that I want the NHL to come back yet.
15) The worst pain I’ve ever had is a tie between plastic primer in the eye and bleach up the nose.
16) Of the six vehicles I’ve had in my possession, only one was not bought or borrowed from a family member.
17) Every bike I’ve ever owned, except the one in my possession now, has been stolen.
18) Nothing cheers me up more than Nicholas playing with Jack.
19) Neither of the brand-new chairs at work are as good as the wobbly chair I had when I started.
20) On average, I spend more time working per week than sleeping.
21) I get a little thrill when I think of the Intellivision emulator I found. There’s nothing like a block-man running from a block-spider or a blocky triangle shooting at a block-asteroid to make my day.
22) I once flushed a bowl of oysters, angry that someone would take a dump in a bowl and put it on the table. (I was asleep)
23) I once peed in my parents’ fridge (I was asleep)
24) I once challenged my dad to a fight (I was asleep)
25) I used to sleep-walk.
26) Battlefield Earth was the most fun I’ve ever had at a movie theatre.
27) I currently have 90 books to read. I will not buy another book (other than the new Harry Potter, the new Wheel of Time and the new A Song of Ice and Fire) until that number has been halved.
28) I refuse to learn anything about “Feminine Hygiene Products”. I’ll buy them but I don’t need to know the particulars.
29) I’ve had a story bouncing around in my head for twelve years – you’d think I’d just write it already.
30) Getting hit by a car was less traumatic than having my wisdom teeth out. But it hurt more.
31) I’ve never had a Driver’s License picture with a shaven head, despite having a shaven head for the majority of the past eight years.
32) I went from single, broke and living with my parents to married with a kid, a dog and a house in less than two years.
33) Carrollton, Texas is the bane of my existence.
34) Last year, I fought changes in my office. This year, I have no idea why I was fighting so hard.
35) I am thrilled that it’s been a year and the Calgary Flames are STILL the second-best team in the NHL.
36) The worst job I’ve ever had was refereeing soccer.
37) The second-worst job I’ve ever had was as a softball umpire.
38) The best job I’ve ever had was building a golf course. (Sledge hammers and big, big nails – go figure)
39) Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my wedding ring the most.
40) Being a parent is much better than babysitting.
41) I don’t care about downhole drilling tools.
42) My area of greatest weakness is asking for something that I want.
43) My area of greatest strength is typing
44) Given the choice between pizza and steak, I can’t honestly tell you how I would decide at any given moment.
45) There is no joy more pure than rolling over and going back to sleep.
46) I would not remember to eat supper if it were not for my wife.
47) All of the pants that I own have something wrong with them.
48) I’m a better driver than 70% of the people out there – and I’m a crap driver.
49) I’m scared of the United States
50) I’ve learned more about inter-office politics in the past two days than I ever learned before.
51) I have not had any pain in my wrists since coming to my new cubicle. Ergonomics works for me!
52) Any pair of shoes that I have inevitably ends up with the tongues shoved down to the toes and the back wall of the shoe a crumpled ruin because I’m too lazy to untie and tie my shoes.
53) I resolve to shave every three days and when I look up next, it’s been a week.
54) Flash Gordon is my favourite movie.
55) The Eye of the World is my favourite book.
56) I want to cross-stitch more.
57) If I stay in shape, my back hurts less.
58) The second-best day of my life is the day that I bought a PlayStation 2. I bought the PlayStation 2 to cover up the fact that I had also bought an engagement ring. I proposed later that night. Why is it that we men have to trick our fiancées-to-be when we propose?
59) I was wearing a “dress” on the best day of my life.
60) All my computer-using life, I have underestimated the power and usefulness of Power Point.
61) Any graphics I need to create can be made in MS Paint.
62) I have been married 289 days as of this writing – it has been 288 days since the gift-opening and I have not yet written my thank-you cards.
63) My second child is due in 64 days and I’m still trying to let it sink in.
64) Anything important that I write has to be written on paper first.
65) I would rather play football than do just about anything else.
66) I’m no longer a fan of sitting around doing nothing.
67) I miss drawing.
68) I am going to be a Beaver leader in the fall.
69) 25 degrees Celsius is too hot for me.
70) I haven’t played street hockey, which used to be a staple in my life, since Rob Ladner’s bachelor party.
71) It’s been longer than that for football, which I’d rather play.
72) In 2003, I failed to read 50 books, which was my goal, by 1.
73) I’ve finished two Final Fantasy games, 1 and 3 (6 in Japan), despite spending ungodly amounts of time trying to finish various others.
74) I have built two rock-waterfalls, both at the same golf course.
75) I am more proud of the physical things that I’ve made than the programs I’ve designed.
76) If I hadn’t gone to that New Year’s Party, I have NO idea what I’d be doing (or where I’d be) right now.
77) I pay more for student loans than I do for mortgage in a month.
78) I would rather watch Nicholas play soccer than play soccer myself.
79) I am the single most disorganized person in the entire world.
80) I am not a multi-tasker.
81) I’m glad that Kim likes horsey-jumping because then we can watch sports together.
82) I don’t get mad at the police when I get caught speeding.
83) I will wash ten sinks of dishes before doing one load of laundry.
84) I would rather help someone do their work than do mine.
85) I hate I hate I hate I hate loud toys but I don’t resent the fact that we have them since Nicholas likes them.
86) I once got lost in Vancouver but didn’t know I was lost. I was just riding the rides. Having lost Nicholas in Costco, I’m sorry mom and dad.
87) If I knew I only had one day left to live, I would probably not change my routine.
88) If I had a million dollars, I would quit my job and write.
89) My brain refuses to accept that MacDonald’s is bad for me.
90) I cried when Joe Montana retired.
91) Happy Birthday Barbie is a tool of the devil.
92) I am annoyed by people who think their God has no sense of humour.
93) Borscht is the worst garbage ever created.
94) There is no good sports caster. There are degrees of bad, but they’re all bad.
95) I could not do a better job than any sports caster.
96) I hope I never want to play golf again.
97) I don’t want to imagine the circumstances that would cause me to kill someone else.
98) I believe that Professional Wrestling has gone down the tubes and there’s no coming back.
99) I want my own laptop.
100) Having written 99 things about myself, I don’t know that anyone will know me better for having read them.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Something Else

This is a short story (a short-short story) that I wrote for a contest on an online forum I occasionally browse. The contest was cancelled before it started but they hinted at contest and I started writing. It reminds me of my school days, even if it is a perversion of them.


(Disclaimer -- It is my claim that this is a work of fictional art. It's like when I sang "Just a Gigolo" in front of my wife. I am not selling my body and I am not obsessed with any former U of L students)


I see you pass by every day. You look my way and smile. That smile, I swear to God, has the power to stop the sun. You leave a trail of hanging jaws in your wake, young men, longing to do the things of which young men dream. Nevertheless, your smile is for me.

Our time together is precious. Our dates are always short. You have things to do that don’t involve me. I wish they did, I wish I could be involved in everything with you, but the life of a student is a busy one.

Do you remember that one special Saturday? We met in the atrium at the university? We ate lunch. We talked expansively about assignments, professors we hated, and of things that were so important that I cannot recall a word.

What I do remember is the way your eyes sparkle when you laugh, the wrinkle of your nose when you smile at me. I remember the delicate scent of your perfume as we shared our Saturday lunch.

Now, I’m sitting in the same atrium, and I know you’ll be along soon. You always come to the atrium Monday mornings. Sunday was the longest day of my life, waiting to see you again, to feel your smile fall on me with the warmth of a sunny autumn day.

You approach and I ache to tell you how I feel. You are absolutely breathtaking. I open my mouth as you near. The perfume is intoxicating. Your eyes sparkle. My throat catches as I move to catch your attention. I can say nothing as you smile down at me, seated at my usual table.

And then you are gone. You take your customary seat at the other end of the atrium, striking up a conversation with one of your friends. Realizing my mouth has been open the entire time, I close it in embarrassment. A thousand imagined conversations fly through my head as I realize, once again, that the people you sit with are actually worth your time.

I’m worth your smile.

Two roads diverged in a wood and I- umm...

“The future is cloudy. Two realities present themselves – each equally likely, each with its challenges. The future is out of your hands. The future of your career balances on a razor. Will you find your niche or will you continue to float along, hoping for something better? You have made your choice, now they must make theirs.”

This is the truth. The possibilities are twofold. Will the request for a 25% increase be granted or will it be denied? The first possibility provides with me in a supervisory role, officially, and the second means that I will reject the promotion, return to the position of Document Specialist and look for (and eventually find) another job.

I have thought long and hard about both possibilities and how I would react. Here are my thoughts:

The New Managerial Me

Well, it worked. I pulled the wool over their eyes long enough for them to lose their minds completely and I’ve been promoted to the position of “Data Management Supervisor”. This means that I set policy for Engineering Changes, Print Requests, New Product Development and Test Procedures, as they affect Document Control. Basically, I’m in charge of two people and I get to tell a bunch of engineers what to do. I’ve been doing most of this job for the past year at my regular salary. Since February, I’ve been working seven hours of overtime per week, on average, which has boosted my salary considerably. They didn’t take this into consideration when offering me the position in the first place, but when I explained to my boss (Ed) that taking the smaller raise that he’d offered would result in a pay-cut, he understood and made it work.

I’ve been working my butt off, and it paid off. I’m glad to be here and I don’t see myself going anywhere soon. After all, I get a say in how things work now. (Not that I didn’t before but all my “decisions” were suggestions then and now I can actually put them into practice). Official Suggestion from Houston:

The need for a strong Documentation Manger(sic.) should be a high priority; currently vacant. This person will need be tasked with continually improving the documentation process; automate as much as possible and copy processes from other sites when applicable. This person must also be strong enough to stick with the process when confronted by Mfg. and Engineering to take risky shortcuts. They should also have a passion about improving/automating the documentation process.

This could have been my biography. I’m always looking for an easier way to do things. Automatic means less chance for me to screw it up with a typo. And copying processes means that I don’t have to come up with them from nowhere. I’m all over that. Strong? Hell, I’m strong enough for two Documentation Mangers. And passion – Well, we all know I’m all about the passion. YEAH!

Now, maybe I can pay my property tax.

New Horizons on the Plain… um… yeah…

I’m not going to pretend that I’m not disappointed. I wanted that job. I don’t know where Document Control is going to go with itself now. I’ll continue to do my work but Bryan’s work is now officially out of my hands. All of the work I’ve done with Document Control processes becomes recommendations to the new Manager. It was nice of them to offer me the position – recognition is always nice, even if they can’t back it up with anything concrete. I can’t afford to take a pay cut, though, even if it means that down the road I’ll be making more money. Not to sound greedy, but I need it now.

On to bigger and better things, I guess. I’ll find another job, hopefully something where I can actually USE my degree. And Halliburton will continue to be Halliburton, whether I’m setting process or some other bum is. Who knows? Maybe processes will be driven from Houston and we can pretend we’ve got a hundred engineers and a drafting office of fifty.

I will miss Donut Day and the free coffee, though.

So, depending on what happens, I’ve got my rote response to cover it. Of course, I can’t say for sure what will happen if either of those possibilities comes to fruition but I think they’re both fairly close.
I’ll update you all when I hear more. Until then, I’ll find something else to talk about.