Friday, May 30, 2008

Beaver Camp

So, I thought I was going to write about the rest of my Chicagoland trip here but since it’s basically all technical in nature, I figured I would leave it for Intuitive Techniques if I ever get back to updating that site.

Anyway, we went to Beaver Camp last weekend, the culmination of the Beavering year. (And also my last official act as a Beaver leader. Next year I get to hold the reins of the Cub Pack as Akela.)

We stayed at Camp Maskepatoon, just off of Pigeon Lake. Actually on the shores of Pigeon Lake.

Hm… highlights…

- Hawkeye dropping the sister of one of our Beavers into the lake and then running like a coward. (We’ve got video evidence)

- Lily and Kim’s boat ride

- The birth of the BubbleStar Galactica (pictures to follow at some point) and The Holder – Nick’s boat

- A campfire where nothing went very right but nothing went terribly wrong

- Capture the flag with the most cheating per game (CPG) that I have ever seen.

- Soccer where Granny shone and I kicked a ball at a 12 year old harder than I should have.

- Archery that left a bruise on my forearm. At least it didn’t stay all raised and bumpy.

- Pouring from a big pot, out of a ladel. (Give a couple seconds after your first dip. It lets the grounds settle a little)

- Puerto Rico – an exciting game where the Liam plantation outlasted the Rob and John plantations to secure the victory.

- Chopping wood


- Scraping congealed fat off of the hood fan with first a chef’s knife and then a metal egg-flipper

- Cleaning toilets and mopping the bathroom, wearing soggy socks

All in all, it was another great camp. Here’s looking forward to Cubs next year!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Calgary in Flames

This is a small piece that is a modification from a dream I had. Actually, the only thing that I really remember from the dream that I actually used in the story was the buildings in flames. And I think it was a job interview.
The city burns. Great gouts of fire consume skyscrapers whole. I sit, watching the world explode, chatting idly with a woman who is not my wife.

Romantic? No. But was it? Things are ever ephemeral here. All but the fire. It has spread now. Or has it been spread? The cause seems fuzzy but the fact of it only looms larger. And yet, while I panic, I watch it unconcerned, sharing a drink with a woman who is not my wife.

Eric jerked awake. He remembered only the blind panic of a few moments ago. Then the panic subsided and details faded into dim recollections. Already he could only remember a false-looking fire engulfing the Calgary Tower and the camera of his mind panning out to see that the fire was seen through a large window. Continuing to pan, the next thing his mind’s eye saw was a coffee table, two people sipping a drink amicably while the fire spread to a nearby building. Not spread. That was not right. The other building spontaneously combusted. The whole thing.

The power of the dream began to fade and Eric started to drift back into sleep. He rolled into the heat of his wife’s sleeping frame. She sighed and put her arm around him unconsciously and they drifted back to sleep. Eric would remember nothing of the dream the following day or for the rest of July. It all came slamming back into him, however, on the tenth of August, the day he met the woman from his dream.

So, whatchya think?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chicago, Chicago, that Toddlin’ Town [Part One]

I am fortunate enough to work for a company that not only encourages its employees to get training, but hounds them into it. Also, they feel it is important for their developers to be certified in what they do. To the point of hounding them about it.

So I decided to combine the two, taking Java Boot Camp training in Chicagoland.

Saturday, I dropped my wife and children off at the airport, early early. I had big plans for the day, such as making the house uninhabitable for a week (like, so nothing would spoil, rot or stink when we all got home). Most of these I accomplished, but I also got to play tennis with Atti for the first time in six years, visit my family and have Rob over for some intense Mario Kart action!

Then I completed my cleaning duties and finished packing. I had time for a shower and some last-minute preparations before it was off to the airport.

I arrived at the airport two hours before my flight because of some problems checking in online. I am a paranoid traveler and I wanted to be there to be able to circumvent any potential problems with the ticket well in advance.

No problem. I checked in and waited, half-sleeping, half-reading and half looking out the window to see if I could see Cliff loading my plane. (“That’s right, monkey, get to work!” I would have shouted if I’d seen him, even though I know he wouldn’t have been able to hear me. I believe he still would have known I was yelling at him.) Finally, I hear my flight number called out for a different ramp. What the…? I grabbed my bags and sprinted down the hall, staggering to a halt, muttering apologies that I thought it was a different ramp and they said that it was no big deal that it happens all the time. Well, they dealt with it better than I did.

The flight consisted of me turning pages in The Bonehunters, a quick nap and watching The Golden Compass, which lasted just until we landed in Toronto. I did not know where to go, but I got oriented fairly quickly and made my way to the international flights area. Three minutes too late.

I was held back from the flight because there was not enough time to get from one place to the other and so, I was put on a second flight. I was in line to get my boarding pass when that flight was canceled. So, they were saying that the next flight would be at 7:00 the next morning. Inconceivable! However, waited in line until my turn to book whatever flight awaited me.

The guy at the front looked about two steps away from a vein popping in his head and I commiserated with him about the stress of being the only guy in line. He laughed. I feel we bonded. And it was all a mistake. I was apparently booked on a different plane that would leave in an hour and a half. All good things! So I thanked my new best friend and went off to turn some more pages while I waited for my plane to board.

The bad: About a half-hour after I sat down to wait for the plane, I looked up and noticed that the takeoff time was different than it had been. Departure was delayed by another two hours. Ah well, there was time to get a burger, and continue on my quest to polish off Steven Erikson’s sixth literary behemoth. (Really, that sucker is 1200 pages!)

The good: Apparently I did bond with that check-in clerk type guy. I was bumped up to first class where the seats are extra wide (my bum thanks that check-in clerk – but not in the way you’re all thinking), the drinks come in glass tumblers and the televisions apparently have no sound. I was going to watch Chuck but there was, as I said, no sound, so I turned, once more to The Bonehunters.

I have no idea what time the flight touched down – it was something like seven o’clock or something in Chicago time, which would have been 6 our time. I wandered over to where taxis are and waited in a line about 25 people long. It would have been distressing if there hadn’t been in the neighbourhood of thirty or forty cabs waiting. The driver drove me, though he grumbled about leaving the airport area and lost revenue for awhile. Then when we finally reached the hotel (after a couple of wrong turns and a phone call to the hotel itself) he informed me that the credit card machine was broken. Marvelous.

So, we found a Mac’s that had ATM and I paid him, grumbling to myself about his incompetence while, I’m sure, he was still grumbling about being so far away from O’Hare. Whatever. You drove, I paid. Can we just get over it now? And so, I checked into my hotel around 8:30.

So, the first day of my travel, I left my house at 5:00 am on no sleep and arrived at the hotel at 8:30 local time. And I turned down a direct flight to Chicago because I would have had to get up too early. I cost myself probably six hours or more in travel time.

That’s all for now. Later, I’ll tell about the actual training itself.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Stand by Stephen King

This is one of the longest books I've ever read.

It's a marathon of reading but each part stands on its own merits. In the beginning, we're treated to the introduction of the cast of characters. Stu, Frannie, Larry, Tom and Nick, and the bad guys, Lloyd, Trash Can Man, even the Walkin' Dude. Then the superflu works its way through, and the scattered remnants of American society come together in two camps, the good guys and the bad guys. The showdown is really good, though the outcome is never really in doubt.

What knocked me on my butt was the denouement, where it is revealed that mankind is going right back to its roots, and even the good guys are headed down the same path that landed humanity in the pickle it's in now.

Stephen King's characters are always engaging, in every story I've read. This story is no exception. The way that Larry's relationship with Nadine is written is amazing. The agony of Harold's betrayal of the Boulder folks is harsh and comes across as real. There is too much good in this book to write about it all but as with all Stephen King, even the happy-ever-after is not happy ever after. How could it be, when mankind is still what it is?


You will notice Dr. Kyle Anderson, Genetics whiz and all around snazzy dancer has a link on the sidebar. This is his new home on the web.

You will notice.

That is all.