Monday, July 17, 2006

Weekend Updates -- WITHOUT Dennis Miller

Below, you will find a hastily-sketched recap of our ho-hum weekend. It starts approximately 3:15 pm Friday afternoon.

I left early to go get condo docs. Drove home to change out of shorts that got ripped during lunch-time soccer. Drove downtown (eventually) to get to Kingsway Asset Management Ltd. Parked stupidly, thinking 102 was 104. Walked 20 min, went up 27 floors on the elevator, was told that the cost was more than I had on me (apparently this is my fault too) and that they don't have spare change, so the ATM in the lobby is not entirely sufficient. I took more money out there, and went hunting for convenience stores. Two (2) packs of sesame snacks later, I walked back to CN building and up 27 floors on the elevator, paid and left. Walked 20 min back to the car, drove to Milennium Place in Sherwood Park to deliver the condo documents to my realtor who was playing hockey with the realtor who needed the documents. That realtor had already left, but mine was still there. Gave him the docs, and left. Drove home. Got stuff ready, and drove back to Sherwood Park to get the Circlewood property inspected by "Handy" Howard MacPherson (my father in law). Then we drove around Sherwood Park, trying to find a property that "Mad" Mary Jane ( my mother in law) had been to, that was for sale. Our mindset was that we were still going to get the circlewood place at this point. I was so sick (I guess with lack of food, lack of sleep, too much sun, not enough water and the high level of stress, it was inevitable) that I was pretty much useless for the rest of the night. This was pretty much the low point for both Kim and I, of the weekend. We stewed the rest of the night, and part of Saturday. Then I got sick of stewing. The laundry-list of shortcomings that Howard sent us, along with the misgivings that Kim and I had about the place (not enough bedrooms, really, only one bathroom, no garage, stuff like that) were staring me in the face. I dragged Kim into a mad scheme to look for more houses in Millwoods, so that we would know how the CIrclewood house compared with the same price point in Millwoods. She agreed, and both our spirits rose immediately. We looked at houses for a couple of hours (mostly driving - I think we saw three houses) and we fell in love with a gorgeous house in Minchau. (if the link doesn't work, let me know and I'll send you some pictures) The owners seemed like great people and they even consented to a "Handy" Howard walkthrough later that night, despite the fact they were having people over for a dinner party.

Howard liked it, despite three major things: The hot water tank and the furnace need to be replaced and the driveway needs to be re-graded or jacked up. (did you know you could jack a driveway up? You can! With MUD!) So, we decided we would offer 3000 below their asking price, fairly confident that they would accept. However, we decided to sleep on it.

The next day, (sunday, for those of you keeping score) I called my realtor and told him we were not getting the Sherwood Park property and told him about this place. Before I finished, he interrupted: "That size, in Millwoods? You're paying 20000 too much." He then proceeded to send me a list of houses that had sold since January that had 18 houses on it. How such a limited sample of house-sales would sway me, I'm not sure. I called the people selling the Minchau house and told them of the realtor's concerns, told them that I needed to do some research and that I would get back to them. I did my research, found nothing on the market that touched this place (rose-coloured glasses aside) for a price less than 5000 dollars less than what we would offer. That 5000 dollars, in my opinion, is what gets us the gorgeous kitchen with the sun-facing windows, the ceramic tile flooring and the peace of mind that Kim is happy with a house, even if it's not in Sherwood Park. Cheap, if you ask me.

After a game of phone tag with Rudy and Laura, we agreed to meet them at 7:30. By the time we left at 9:00, contracts were signed, hope was generated, and I had the best house-shopping experience of my life.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Keyless entry? Sure..

Running behind for our appointment, I called to Kim, "Got the keys?" like I always do.

"Yup," came the reply from the sidewalk.

I locked up, and we went for the appointment.

Close to an hour later, we return, to the shocking realization that the house key was not on the ring.

We decided to try a set of keys that the MacPhersons were holding in trust for us. A short car-ride saw us in Sherwood Park's illustrious outskirts. The keys were transfered, and visiting took place. Thinking ahead, I grabbed a hammer and a slotted screwdriver.

Good thinking, Johnstone. Turns out, they were the old keys from before we changed the knob.

So, twenty minutes with the hammer and screwdriver (and enough noise to outdo the one roofer that actually showed up) and the bits and pieces of what used to be our doorknob filled a Safeway bag.

So now, on my list of accomplishments, which include smashing a leaf-blower to bits, building stairs with a sledge hammer and chainsaw (sounds like you'd undo the stairs with that) and (unintentionally) setting a computer on fire, I can add breaking and entering. Not the crime, but I broke and I entered.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Wizard of Earthsea

According to, Wizard of Earthsea was published in 1968. The fact that it's still on the table in fantasy discussion, I think, is pretty impressive.

The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker actually kind of reminds me of this book. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was playing Zelda while I read it. Or maybe the similarities caused me to pick up the game again while I was reading. I don't know the chronology so I'll just shut up about that.

Sparrowhawk, or Ged, or THE "Wizard of Earthsea" (y'know, the one the whole story's about) learns a little magic from his aunt, saves his village with tricks, becomes a master's disciple and leaves him to go to the Magic Academy on Roke. (This whole story centres around a group of islands Ged refers to as the Archipelago -- I love that word) While in school, he calls up a dark spell he discovered earlier and unleashes his evil shadow. This destroys his confidence in his gift and himself, and he becomes a timid practitioner of the arts.

Unfortunately, the story takes forward-jumps through time that, when I realized they had happened, put me off a little. After one such jump, he has finished school and goes off to meet his destiny.

Along the way, he learns a little something about his powers, his enemy and himself. He meets people who work very well to set up a sequel, and all ends in goodness and happy thoughts.

I'm glad I read this book - as I've said before, I like books on boats, and this one also had a dragon or nine. I don't have any of the other Earthsea books but if they cross my path, I'll definitely pick them up and flip through their pages.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Updates, updates, updates

At the risk of offending Dylan with a mundane writing style reminiscent of Schrodinger's Catsup, this is what's up with me---

Life has finally settled down with the marketing release of Quicken Home Inventory [premiermanagerwhatever]. The name they finally settled on was Quicken Home Inventory Manager but it was kicked around and around for a couple of months.

Regardless, the installer was released with a couple of hitches and a lot of late, late nights drinking pop, coffee, watermelon juice, whatever it took to keep my synapses firing.

At the end of last week, Kim took Lillian and Nicholas on a camping trip with her parents to give me room to finish what needed to be finished.

As it turned out, that was documentation which was typed out laboriously in the living room of my townhouse, with TRON, The Hulk, and I-Poddius blaring in the background. (Not all at once, for sure.)

So, QHIM went away (sort of) with a whimper, rather than a mad rush of activity. Unfortunately, the installer shipped with a known issue that will have to be fixed in a future release, despite the fact that I discovered and repaired the bug before the product shipped. Fortunately, I will be staying with QHIM (probably) for the 1.1 release that will likely take place in November.

With that bitter taste in my mouth, I received a little bit of a spanking by way of “areas for growth” where I was told that I needed to be aware how important it was, on code-freeze day, to be available, and also how important it was for me to have been available on the weekend of that code-freeze, to fix the bug (that shipped with the release). I stood my ground, contending that I was available by phone all weekend and that I had slated 6 hours on Saturday for work, which I spent on some externalization design, rather than the bug. If they’d called me Saturday, or even Friday, when they discovered that the bug hadn’t gone away with my most recent attempt at a fix, it would have been dealt with in time, and the installer would have been more acceptable.

I’m not trying to deflect blame – I accept my failure to properly fix the bug and my lack of follow-up when dealing with QA but I am not wholly to blame. My bosses understood my point of view and accepted that and even rewarded me with a Spotlight Award (see previous post) and a comp day off, which I will use on Friday, to do taxes, change the oil in the car and renew my driver’s license.

In non-work news, Lillian is a crawling monster. Rather than rocking back and forth on her hands and knees, and crying out of frustration, she’s actually motoring around the floor, crying when whatever she’s found to get into is taken from her.

Nick has finished another season of soccer, and I completed my first year as an assistant coach. The year was wrapped up at Chuck E. Cheese, where the Skeeballs rolled and I was presented with a Coach shirt and gift certificates for Tim Horton’s and Red Lobster. It was a good season but there was something missing that made last season great. Kim and I used the Red Lobster card for supper when she got back from camping.

Biking to work continues and I’ve even managed to shed some weight. I played soccer, helped cubicle-mate-Dave move and threw the ball around with Sean “King Kong Awesome” Woods, and by Saturday, everything was back to normal. A faster-than-usual recovery for my creaky body.

As a final note, Serenity, the movie based off the series Firefly, was amazing. I’ve never watched Firefly, but I didn’t feel the lack. I just enjoyed the amazing characters and the fun storyline. “You’ve spent your entire life taking care of me. My turn.” - that’s the best line I’ve heard in a very long time.

---End of update… until next time

Intuit Spotlight Award

I found out, on Friday, that I am the recipient of Intuit's prestigious (although not that prestigious, since the person I talked to about it this morning had never heard of it) Spotlight Award. It's nice to know that I've chosen the right field and that they think so too.

Another blog post will be up sometime soon with updates beyond this, but I thought I'd let you all know.