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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

We’re Baaaaaack……

23-Aug-16 04:47 pm EDT Leave a comment
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ue to certain issues with the “free” WordPress/IIS host I’d previously been using on and off for the past couple of years, I’ve ended my experimental hosting experience and returned here after all.  A couple of minor articles were deleted — but nothing too critical.

So I’ll resume in the weeks ahead posting here on articles of interest mostly to me, but perhaps to some of you out there as well. 😉  Hope the summer is going well for all!

Help Bring Stargate: Universe Back!

07-May-13 01:36 pm EDT 2 comments

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ring back SG:U to the Internet by signing this Netflix petition (see link). Unlike many Internet-based petitions, this one looks like it’s being taken seriously….so if you (like me) want Stargate back – access the SG:U petition on change.org and let your voice be heard!  (Do it anyway for me – ‘cuz there’s a huuuuge vacuum in sci-fi entertainment these days and it will make life suck a lot less for me and a pile of other people! )

CBCsports.ca | 2011 NHL All-Star Game | What Canadian city most deserves a team?

28-Jan-11 03:17 pm EST Leave a comment
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o you don’t see many posts from me under the heading “Sports” (actually there’s not enough content here at the moment to justify having a sports category); but as a tenacious Winnipeg ex-patriot, I thought I should make my viewing audience aware of a little poll on CBC Sports’ web site asking Canadians to vote on what city should win the next NHL franchise.  Of course, the only competent argument that can be made in answering this question would favour the resurrection of the Winnipeg Jets — yes long, long before we get around to redressing any plans for the Québec Nordiques.  And since I want to return to Winnipeg at some point in the future and would rather have a city that’s happy and prosperous to live in ahead of one that feels as if the life  had been sucked out of it by a wraith or some other paranormal entity, there’s an element of selfishness in my wanting Winnipeg to once again have attractions (like the Jets) which offer both spectacle and excitement.

So cast your vote without delay!

We’ve Moved!!!

19-Jan-11 09:38 am EST Leave a comment
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icrosoft shut down its Live Spaces social networking site as of January 1, 2011 — resulting in all the blogs being hosted there (including that of yours truly) to be migrated to WordPress.com per a deal inked back in 2010.  Consequently, you’ll notice a number of changes to the presentation; though I’m inclined to try to preserve the original layout to a certain extent….because I don’t want to confuse those who visit regularly any more than is going to be necessary.  Watch for refinements and customizations to this effect in the days ahead.

So why did Microsoft dump Live Spaces? Simply put: Spaces was totally eclipsed by other facilities that did it better.  And Microsoft isn’t shy about asking for help from 3rd parties when it can’t go it alone.  That’s exactly the story behind the partnership with Gatineau-based Cactus Commerce for the development of Microsoft Commerce Server (a project I had the rare privilege to participate on for the better part of two years).  And it isn’t without precedent for such agreements to evolve into takeovers; though any suggestion that such a development is imminent where either Cactus or WordPress are concerned would be premature.

So welcome to my blog’s new home!  And here’s hoping we’ll see you return again and again in the months and years to come.

Homecoming MMVIII

13-May-08 09:29 pm EDT Leave a comment

It has been three long years since my last visit to my home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba – a hiatus that will end this coming August!  This week I received formal approval from my employer for vacation leave between the 1st and 18th of August.  The date of my arrival in Winnipeg will depend entirely on whether I’ll be taking my car out, or renting a vehicle during my anticipated week-long stay.

Historically, my arrival has heralded a – shall we say – "festive" atmosphere.  But three years is a long time, and, sadly, more friends have moved away.  And one very close friend in particular had a falling out with me, of sorts.  (While I was hospitalized with a short, but life-threatening illness a couple of years back, he suddenly decided this was the opportune moment to tell me he’d secretly been blaming me for the destruction of his relationship with his girlfriend a year or so earlier.)  Haven’t heard much from him since, and I can’t say I’ve been exactly motivated to undertake an effort of my own to reconcile – particularly given that I had absolutely nothing to do with either the management or the outcome of his relationship (as those of you who know the parties in question are aware).  As much as I miss Winnipeg, I’m expecting the trip to go very differently from the others previous.  With so many I knew gone, it may end up being anticlimactic as compared with previous visits.  Then again – this is Winnipeg; a city full of folks who know how to party.

And my good friend Ian is still there – himself getting ready to move to Toronto to begin Ph.D. studies in political theory.  And hopefully, a moment or two of socializing (if not ol’ skool, Winnipeg-style debauchery) can be squeezed in amidst his preparations for the big move.

To everyone else who knew me or has kept in touch – I’ve grown in many ways, albeit mostly fatter and older.  But I still love a good time, so call me while I’m in the neighborhood!

Categories: Personal

Ottawa Citizens to the Rescue: Yes, I said “Ottawa”

16-Sep-07 09:27 pm EDT Leave a comment

I complain about this city a lot.  A lot more than even many fellow citizens; and this is a city with a lot of people complaining about it already.  There’s good reason to, although my complaints with it stem from a surprising, almost apartheid-like segregation of anglophones and francophones (thanks in part to the geography of the Outaouais), city politics that are, at best, bizarre and being Canada’s federal capital, federal politics that are, at worst, pathetic.  But humanity and good Samaritans suddenly appeared out of nowhere when an old man was suddenly accosted with a flurry of rude insults and spitting in food he was carrying by another random, middle-aged hoodlum, probably "of no fixed address" – meaning the Shepherd’s of Good Hope shelter less than a block away.  It was a scene that greeted me as I biked home from shopping in Ottawa’s Byward Market near where I live this afternoon.

At the corner of Cumberland and Clarence Streets shortly before 2:16 p.m (when my cell phone indicates the ‘911’ call was made) I arrived to see the initial altercation, quickly turn violent when another man got out of his yellow hatch back, seeing the incident with the 1st elderly man got out of his car to intervene.  This resulted in the assailant turning violent suddenly, stricking the man from the car 3 or 4 times about the head.  As he fell to the ground 8 or 9 passers by (myself included) came from all over the busy intersection to pull the homeless man off the guy from the car.  During the effort of separating the two men, I decided it would be best I call ‘911’ and I ended up giving a play-by-play to the operator, who’d eventually suggested (wisely) that I put a little distance between myself and the homeless man.

Those who remained to help the victim of the assault had to be pretty brave.  The homeless guy was appearing extremely irrational – literally frothing at the mouth mad, and sounding both puzzled and upset that so many people were taking issue with his assault of the guy from the car.  He seemed to be asking why he should stop when the other guy hit him first (which isn’t want happened), and generally confused.  It seemed likely he was on drugs – perhaps a methamphetamine induced rage….tough to tell.

Regardless, within 2 or 3 minutes, police were on the scene and within 5 minutes 3 OPD units were present taking statements from the crowd, and arresting the homeless man turned assault suspect.

Quite an exciting afternoon.

What surprised me was my own response in a way.  10 or more years ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to treat the homeless man to a round or two about the face from my own fists to gentle him down some.  Not because I’m a violent fellow, but because I believe in justice and minimizing harm – actively.  At the moment, I’m not in any physical shape to conduct myself that way with any probability it would turn out well, and I found myself hesitating for a few seconds to take in the scene before deciding the best course when, again, earlier in life the pause to consider my action would have been much shorter.

I guess I’m getting older…and maybe wiser, or more cautious anyway.

A policeman took my statement today and advised there was a small probability I may be queried further about my testimony and statement.

Categories: Personal

The Crybaby

16-Sep-07 08:39 pm EDT Leave a comment

I’m sick of Facebook – in a way I don’t get fed up with things very often.  But Facebook in particular.  For a social networking site, it has to be one of the most passionately anti-social places on the Internet.  Take this recent experience, which epitomizes the kind of dialogue I end up having with what I call the "random crybaby":

As you can see from the discourse above, all I’ve done is ask the fellow to identify himself, which not only yielded the reply you see following my initial response (to some cryptic request I can’t even remember or find, thanks to Facebook security) but also saw him "block" me following his sending the message.  He claims he was trying to reach me as a fellow fan of "Resident Evil".  What that means, I don’t know…but I get really annoyed by Facebook’s security features when they favour this kind of "screw you for not paying attention to me" type message.  A "note" posted to my profile on Facebook sums it all up:

"I’m getting sick of this place – and I really haven’t the foggiest idea why it’s so popular. The only reason I ever got an account here to begin with was that virtually everyone I know from every corner of the planet asked me if I had an account. But, all that’s happened since coming here, is I’ve found cliques of pretentious cyber-groupies adding one rediculous applet after the other to their page – and giving me notice of it, along with random crybabies messaging me with some cryptic and/or silly note (again wrapped in the body of some wonky applet-bound text thing I can’t begin to figure out) getting all mad and using the harraser-has-the-advantage security features of this place when I have the audacity to ask who the hell they are, in case I might know ’em!"

And Bruce Lee Turner, God forgive him, isn’t the only soul of his kind.  I’m no saint – and I have my limits for place that is such total social disarray as this site is.  Give me a site where adults can converse with each other – as adults – and instead of layer upon layer of paranoid anonymity, let people that message you be compelled to at least withstand a reply.  Either that or delete all the messages user A sends to user B the moment user A blocks user B – so user B doesn’t feel like he just had the proverbial phone hung up on him!

Oh, and not to be petty about it Mr. Turner, but to you I say: grow up!

Categories: Personal

Where I Was on 9/11…

11-Sep-07 08:05 am EDT Leave a comment

It was an average morning as I began work at my software job – at Canada’s largest software company – Cognos Inc., in Ottawa, ON (Canada).  It was a time of change for the company; a new 17-floor expansion to it’s main campus on Riverside Dr. toward the south end of the city still had that "newly-constructed smell" that accompanies the gentle release of mild toxins with freshly-laid carpet.  The new building also featured a new cafeteria with a huge big-screen TV along the west wall, which was turned onto the news channel.  As I went downstairs to get my 2nd cup of morning coffee, a small crowd had gathered around the screen to witness an evolving horror: an apparent plane crash into one of the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

The commentators were abuzz speculating about whether this was an accident or the result of a hijacking.  And I had to do a double-take as I watched the coverage….as a second plane crashed into the other of the two towers.  Stunned shock followed for nearly 30 seconds as all anyone could do is stare at the spectacle, and the quickly emerging realization this was a very-well organized attack.

News was spotty, and, cynically, I mistakenly concluded that it was pointless to let this interrupt my day completely as the second plane hitting the towers likely marked the end of the incident.  But it didn’t, of course.  Shortly after arriving back upstairs, news hit the floor that The Pentagon had been hit as well.  News of a fourth airline crashing would reach us by the end of the day, although by then there’d been too many distractions to get much work done and everyone went home with an acute sense that we’d all just seen history unfold.

I think back on that historic day with the same foggy recall that accompanies all the other historic days that have preceded and followed; I know where I was, and who I was with – although there’s little doubt that day six years ago was one of the more pivotal days in my life.  9/11 marked the end of a chapter in my life; I’d soon after this leave Cognos behind, encounter a series of medical problems (mostly solved now) and hit a "bump" in my career that took some work to get over.

Although I doubt we’ll see any more planes hitting buildings today, it almost feels like we’re overdue for another "historic" event.  Not that I’m in any hurry for one.  It almost seemed impossible we’d see another similar sequence of events in the first years after the World Trade Center attacks, but now that more than 5 years have passed…I’m starting to worry about the fact bin Laden has yet to be found, and the likelihood he’ll eventually figure out a way to outsmart all the extra measures that have been undertaken since 9/11.  And if not bin Laden himself, thanks to the Americans, there’s a huge, unseen army of disciples organized into sleeper-cells all over the world ready to try and clear the bar of terror he raised.

The effort to erode civil liberties seems to have reached a plateau if not started to crumble somewhat.  It remains my view there are way too many tax dollars being wasted on hiring police who aren’t willing or, thanks to unions, able to do the fundamental work required to make our cities safer.  But no politician gets elected saying he wants to downsize the police force.  And it’s too hard to get a passport, not that it should be necessary for Canadians to enter the United States – another result of 9/11.  Airports still aren’t secure, despite millions being misspent on increasing security there.  That needs to be fixed too.

Hopefully the emergency response systems and procedures actually work the next time there’s an attack of similar scale on the United States.  And hopefully, too, there’s a President in-office who actually does more than just sit there for seven minutes, stunned, before acting like he is the President.

I hope that somehow, somewhere there are lessons learned from that day six years ago – because it doesn’t seem obvious that we’re really there yet where our safety and the security of our society is concerned.

Categories: Personal

What Women Want…

22-Aug-07 11:16 pm EDT Leave a comment

You may have noticed if you know me (as most who read these little artilces do) and there’s one topic conspicuously absent: sex.  It’s not because I have nothing to say about it.  Nor is it because there’s nothing going on in that department for me (although my social life has been a little, shall we say, uninspiring lately).  But while doing some coding for my company tonight, the TV was on again in the background and the show was all about women discussing their views on sex.

I wouldn’t call myself the biggest expert on this subject, but I do offer a number of useful experiences.  And I still marvel at some of my friends and people I just know – at how their relationships seem to be failing for what are obvious reasons.  And these people I speak of seem completely oblivious to those reasons!  Particularly in the department of heterosexual or bisexual men who are dating women and are baffled (in one poignant case) that their ongoing belittlment or insulting of thier partner yields a distancing of themselves from that parnter.  Or, in another case, absolute inattentiveness to their partner’s wants or desires – it’s just about the sex.

I’m glad I’ve kept my relationships simple.  They’ve all failed for one reason or another to this point, true.  But I know exactly why in every case.  And I’m confident I’ve neer been cheated on, and I’ve always – ever been honest with my partners.  I’ve respected them, treated them well – been an adult and not beeen a total pig.  And, while I wouldn’t describe myself as especially romantic by nature – I know how to be; because it’s appreciated by others.

What’s more frustrating is watching such painfully stupid melodramas unfold before my very eyes without being able to tactfully explain the problem to one or both parties – because it’s none of my business, unless asked directly.  (And probably not smart to intervene even then.)  Nor was it much better hearing those same complaints from women about their own love lives.

Again, I’m no expert on women.  But as I heard each articulate their likes and dislikes – none of it seemed terribly surprising.  But for all the lack of success in my personal sex life of late – and the seeming infrequency with which I have asserted myself in recent social contexts – I gotta say I’ve been and will likely yet make an amazing boyfriend by the sounds of it all.

And that’s a sad statement, in my view.

Categories: Personal

Skepticism Unchecked

28-May-07 09:25 pm EDT Leave a comment

Scott Adams, the author of the Dilbert comic strip, is a talented satirist.  Reading his blog, I’m getting a picture of where some of this talent originates.  It’s particularly interesting to hear his views on the subjects he choses to blog about too, because his unique mockery of day-to-day life in what was once called a "dot com" business is grounded in a healthy skepticism.  Or so I thought.  Now I’m starting to wonder if it’s not simply a skepticism that’s gone unchecked.

Perhaps unlike Adams I tend to be more of an optimist about human nature.  While I can relate closely to many of the situations he turns into his particular brand of comedy – a rather cynnical point of view, in general – I would not describe my boss as pointy-haired, my company’s management as incompetent or my colleagues as pathologically dysfunctional.   (Quite the contrary.)  So it seems strange for that same cynnical attitude to suddenly appear as a serious commentary on any subject – particularly that of his latest article, which concerns global warming.

To summarize Adams, his view is that the jury is still out – so far as he’s concerned – on whether global warming is actually occuring as a result of human activity.  Leaving aside the fact that I’m unused to hearing anything so seemingly contrary to common sense being repeated from a source other than the friendly neighborhood Republican party mouthpiece, Adams doesn’t seem to fit the description of a person who would hold this view.  It’s precisely because of his unrelenting, daily critique of authority one would be predisposed (wthout more intimate knowledge of the man) to think he’d err on the side of criticism of the ultimate authority on this planet: the office of the Whitehouse than to echo its propaganda.

Most fascinating of all is his rationale for holding this view: that scientists have simply not proven their case, that the data is too finite a sample, that apparently too much effort and money has gone into making the case, and that the resulting  technobable which inevitably accompanies the in-depth analysis of subject matter with which he lacks particular expertise is essentially as valuable as the useless product of a travelling snake oil salesman, until more obvious and uncomplicated evidence, which he can readily absorb, is at hand.

Perhaps fortunately, Adams didn’t venture any particular conclusions beyond his statement that he’d remain unconvinced until reports of temperatures reaching 60 or 70°C at the Earth’s equator (too hot for human biengs to live) finally reached his ears.  But one wonders what, if anything, could change a person’s mind when an otherwise healthy skepticism – which one needs ot have these days when the enemies of truth are found preaching manipulative lies to you in one way or another on every second television channel – goes completely unchecked.  It’s one thing to not subscribe automatically to an argument from authority, and quite another to conclude that anything not dumbed-down enough to fall within the cognitive capacity of a radish is a potential plot to mislead you.

Most of us, who seek to have a healthy skepticism about what we’re being told on the subject of climate change (or anything else demanding specialized expertise to understand fully) have a reasonably good chance of gaining sufficient understanding of the many problem domains which face us in the world and help make it a better place by simply seek verification of the facts from reasonably independent parties who’s stake in holding a particular point of view is reasonably limited.  Often easier said than done, but almost always easier than learning everything one owuld need to about a subject to make truly empircal judgemetns in every case.

Where climate change is concerned, the prevaling view of several, large international bodies seeking to establish the truth thorugh time-honoured scientific methodologies and empirical data are quite enoguh for me to feel safe in asserting that climate chnage can, and is very likely happening as the result of human activity.  Perhaps even more pertinent is that regardless of whether this is ultimately true or false bears little issue where deciding on whether it is preferable to be environmentally conscious as a society or not.

Categories: Personal

While on contract…

18-Feb-07 11:28 pm EST Leave a comment

Some of you who may be visiting my blog may be prospective employers.  The contract I’m currently working on is a very short-term engagement with the Government of Canada Finance Department.  And it calls for a large amount of overtime before completion of the contract on March 30th.

To to those interested in my candidacy for other positions & friends/family getting updates here – please be understanding when I say "I’m busy".  Although my current assignment is proceeding probably a little ahead of schedule (at the moment) I’ve gotta fill those O/T hours with other work too.

The current assignment is a directory services application.  Have written a couple of these in my day – so I’m in familiar territory.  The most interesting thing about this assignment so far is that I’m using VB.NET-based ASP.NET with version 2.0 of the .NET framework for the first time on a project.  Perhaps a little ignorant of the details, I’d selected the new TreeNavigation control some of the UI work, because a similar control was used in the VB 3.0 application this project is based upon.  Unexpectedly, the datasource for the control is a special data access object called a StaticSiteMapProvider.  The object is ordinarily used with an XML file which represents the website navigation, but in this case the data for the tree is resident in the application’s database.  And this data isn’t specifically used for website navigation so much as selecting data to view – really on the same page.

Fortunately, each node can be assigned a URL and, in combination with an HTTP query string, one can generate a URL that passes data back to the page to display the associated data desired.  However, it is interesting to note that the control is this specific about what data source it accepts.  Was this an attempt by Microsoft to avoid competition with companies like Telerik which already produce Tree-like controls for the web?  Distributing a free tree control with Visual Studio would have undermined some of those 3rd party companies.

Anyway, will try to find time to update this site a little in the days/weeks ahead.  But expect reduced forequency of blogging for now.

Categories: Personal

“In my country…”

05-Feb-07 10:27 pm EST 2 comments

I’ve lived in Ottawa, ON for five years or so now.  It was never supposed to last this long – and I’m starting to get used to it.  I’m from the Canadian prairies – Winnipeg, MB specifically.  So, there are subtle differences in culture that predominate both in Canada and the U.S. between east and west.  But there’s one difference germane to Canada’s side I’ll likely never get used to…this rediculous tension which exists between anglophones and francophones.

Take the lady I overheard in my doctor’s clinic this evening.  She managed to get into a silly little debate with the receptionist ovver whether Quebec was a country.  The patient in question was trying to buy a doctor’s note (yeah, they sell those here) and in asking for it she said "..it’s not like that in my country; we need a doctor’s note and we don’t have to pay for it." 

To which the receptionist replied, "You mean province, don’t you?" 

"No!  Country!" came the swift retort.

If we want to be truly technical – and it doesn’t matter a damn if you’re a francophone or anglophone, favour soverignty for Quebec or Canadian federalism; Quebec is not a country either culturally, philosophically or politically.  It’s a province.  You can’t have a cultural country anymore than you can have a cultural nation.  You can have a culture.  You can even have a Quebec nationalism.  At least that’s how it is in the english language.

And that’s how it is in french too, at least so far as I understand it.  You can have "une culture de la francophonie", "une culture du Quebec" and even "une nationalite Quebecois".  But not "la nation du Quebec comme la nation du Canada."  Nor "le pays du Quebec" becuase neither of those exist.  At least, not yet.

This nonsense has even reached Canada’s anglo and francophone politicians.  And for reasons of political opportunism as much as anything else, they’ve pretty much universally sold out to this idea of a "philosophical/cultural" nation as opposed to a "political" one in the name of getting a few extra votes in Quebec, because those who sit on the line between being pro-soverignty and not will more likely lean in favour of federalism if federalists accept the idea.  But the reality remains the same regardless.  Quebec, as a political entity, remains a province.

The problem really dates back to Canada’s founding as federation of individual states, to be called provinces.  In Quebec, the popular view is that all of Canada’s provinces are, in fact, individual mini-states which opt into the confederation of Canada willingly.  Yet what virtually nobody in Quebec realizes (or seems to care) is that this idea outside of Quebec is both unpopular as it is meaningless because no province would ever assert it has the right to call itself a nation in any context – cultural or otherwise.  Indeed, to other provinces, Quebec appears to be trying to single itself out as some kind of superior entity within confederation with typical eastern arrogance, because it remains collectively insensitive to the other provinces’ status with respect to Ontario (Canada’s uber-province).  This isn’t to say there aren’t substantial cultural differences between, say, Manitoba and Ontario – because there certainly are, I’d argue.  The point is, even so, Manitobans wouldn’t presume to try to assert Manitoban cultural or civic nationhood at the expense of the whole and don’t see it right for Quebeccers to try.

So, back to this lady.  I watched, bemused, as this conversation evolved from the confrontational tone to the snide, standoffish, stick-to-business tone such conversations are properly regulated to once they start.  However, I see a growing problem here…at least insofar as living in a place like Ottawa is concerned.  With a virtual 50/50 split between english and french-speaking residents, I worry this nonsense will continue to somehow capture the attention and minds of the vast majority in Quebec (and in the rest of Canada) who seem all to quick to never look at the big picture…at what it all means for the nation.

And the nation I’m speaking of, naturally, is the only one that really exists here.

Canada.

Categories: Personal

My First Wikipedia Article

16-Jan-07 05:08 pm EST Leave a comment

Last night, I just made my first contributions to Wikipedia and, I gotta say, I found the experience a little humbling.  There’s nothing stopping from having done this before – I post here all the bloody time, so what’s the big deal.  And then it occurred to me – there’s something a little vain about the whole idea of contributing articles to the world’s largest encyclopedia.  It’s like "I’m writing something that will actually be used in framing others’ ideas – the foundation of research!".

Mostly here, I editorialize observations about topics that interest me (and ocassionally others).  But it’s not the same – I don’t have to source anything.  With Wikipedia, it’s like you’re writing a term paper.  Images and any statements of fact (quotes, citations of other’s works, etc.) need to be properly sourced.  And this lends authority to what one says on Wikipedia vs. what one writes in a blog.

A big difference?  Well, not where I’m concerned – since everything I write about here typically has just been read about or, in some sense, researched.  Often I do source what I say – via links.  But the feeling with Wikipedia remains that I’m doing something valuable; which isn’t the same thing as publishing to one’s own blog.

Mabye that’s the lure of Wikipedia too.  I heard it reported on CFRA (a local Ottawa area AM radio station) recently that the #1 contributor to Wikipedia lives right here in Ottawa!  Apparently, this guy has contributed so many articles, he lives in his parent’s home and has no job.  All he does is contributions to Wikipedia.  You’d think there would be some kind of job one could occupy where Wikipedia contributions and research would pay for itself, but maybe those jobs are pretty hard to find…  Either way, it certainly sounds addictive, and to a few I could see how.

Unfortunately, I’m a little too practical to fall into that category – but maybe when you do a search at some point down the road, and click on the "history" tab, you’ll see me in the list somehwere: "Ross613".

Categories: Personal

Christmas Message 2006

25-Dec-06 01:18 pm EST Leave a comment

I was reviewing the various messages of Christmas from world leaders this morning and thought what better way to celebrate what’s likely to turn out to be a fairly lonely Christmas away from home this year, but conjuring up a message of my own.

Historically, Christmas messages take the form of epithets of wisdom or counsel from those with far-reaching responsibility and power or influence; such as the Pope, the Queen, the President, the Prime Minister, etc.  I have neither much power, nor, regrettably, much responsibility – but of much wisdom, well I often find that in frequent scarcity too.  But I’ve had many experiences this year upon which to reflect – everything from the dullest of moments, waiting in lines for appointments or the slow wheels of bureaucracy to turn to dealing with life-threatening illness, and everything in between.  So perhaps there is a certain wisdom to share here after all, if even it be the product of a concentrated effort.

For those of you who know me well, the past couple of years have offered a degree of challenge to me which can safely be described as "unprecedented".  All my life before 2003, I’d enjoyed nothing but a nice, relatively rich, safe life. A life I didn’t really appreciate.  Perhaps many of you reading this suspect what I mean, without really understanding it.  Indeed, at first when misfortune struck, I would often ask myself "how unlucky could I possibly be?".  But as one tragedy led to another, I started, strangely, to appreciate periods of time that were otherwise "dull".  In such moments, I saw life worth living if only for the experience of it.

Yes, one can have a life of excitement and unabridged thrills without the melodrama.  At least for a while…but it seems inevitable that sooner or later, one’s luck must run out (at least for most of us) and it is then we find out who we really are inside – what kind of adversity we can face, how strong a character we are, etc.  This year, I had to face a challenge – a serious, life threatening blood-infection.  Called a "staph-infection" for short, this bacteria can perforate the heart and destroy heart muscle tissue and the cartilage in bone joints.  I was extremely fortunate in a way, because despite a pretty serious infection (or so I was told) there was no damage done to my body’s tissues.  The bacteria was repulsed with the aid of antibiotics, and, mercifully, I have fully recovered from the incident.

But it was unlucky that I was infected at all – it’s an increasingly common thing, but still not very common – and it cost me nearly 2 months of hospitalization, right through this past summer, up until my birthday at the beginning of August.  A birthday I’d resolved to not spend in hospital, and was again fortunate that the treatment went well enough to warrant my release.  I was also fortunate that my employer decided to offer me full compensation even though I was not entitled to one red cent of assistance.

In the end, I choose to think of myself as a very fortunate person but not because of these instances of personal good luck in and of themselves.  When I think back to my time in hospital this year, I think of those I met, and how they are doing – thinking of how (un)lucky they are.  There was one fellow patient I think of in particular, because he started caring about me from the very second I entered the room, for which I am grateful; who had a lot to be thankful for himself.  His family, an extended tribe numbering in the hundreds it seemed, was there nightly to keep him company.  And I think of the other patients in the hospital I met; the woman undergoing radiation treatment for her cancer who showed me the ‘V’ sign, the younger 20-something patient who looked so full of life, despite his terminal respiratory disease, and of those I saw while I was stuck in emergency those first few days – the one’s with tubes everywhere not quite looking like they’d make it.  They seemed less lucky than I.

A lot less lucky.

That sorta redefines one’s impressions of what ‘luck’ is.  And I could have fared much worse than I did.  Yes, this Christmas for me shall be about appreciating all that I have, while hoping those less fortunate (and there are more than a few, despite all I’ve put up with these past few years) experience less pain, less challenge in the year ahead.

To express that hope, I also hope you’ll join me in visiting a website I heard of recently: http://www.kiva.org which gives each of us the opportunity to help others have hope in the year to come.

Categories: Personal

Life-Threatening Illness = New Resolve

25-Jul-06 10:17 pm EDT Leave a comment
I’m back!  And on a personal note…so out comes the serious side again (as if there’s any other, riight?).
 
As many of you have heard, I recently faced one of the greatest challenges of my life: my 1st life-threatening illness.  The illness set in around June 15th, and symptoms unlike I’ve ever encountered before failed to disappear on their own.  Therefore on June 20th, I checked myself into Emergency at the Ottawa Health Sciences Centre’s General Hospital.
 
The cliche of "finding out who one’s friends are" in such a time of crisis applies.  It turned out I was suffering from a condition described as bacterial endocarditis.  This disease is essentially the formation and infestation of a staphlococi aureus bacteria on one’s heart valves and is a condition that kills one in four people.  I wished I could say that this condition resulted in all my friends coming to support me in my time of need – a time that could well have been my last few days on earth.  But that’s not really what happened.  And I’m left consequently with a profound sense of awe at the frequency and swiftness with which people who seem otherwise great and wonderful can either treat you with disrespect or kick you when you’re down.
It took me a long time to decide to put this up as my re-inaugural entry on my blog, but a convversation I had with a close friend this evening has made this subject something I wanted to share with those who take an interest in my life.  Because my perspective on it has changed a little as a result of this experience.  Up until now, I’ve taken it upon myself to care about my fellow man.  But others have pointed out that I do this sometimes at my own expense.  I can say without ego this is true, because I make the conscious effort and have seen the results.  But when that effort is so seldom rewarded, and when in times of crisis when I have a need and others choose not to be there the way I was for them, maybe it’s time to reevaluate that philosophy.
 
And I’ve had 6 weeks during my antibiotic therapy in which to do so.
 
The good news here is – I have completely recovered from the infection now and am headed back to work next week following a brief period of further convalecense at home.  Those who’ve "been there" for me and who’ve been supportive; they shall see very little change in the new Ross from the old.  Indeed, if anything I feel a powerful sense of loyalty to those who’ve been supportive.  In particular, I’d like to thank my family (espeically my cousin Monica without whom I’d never have made it these 6 weeks), my employer – Privasoft Corp. –  for its considerable, generous support during this very, very difficult period, and my new friends met in hospital Frank and Aubrey.  Frank espeically kept me sane with a smile on my face through the darkest times (of which there were many) – and that’s what real friends do for each other.  And thanks to Aubrey; who reminded me always I was never alone.
 
However, life’s taught be that I’m not getting any younger here and it’s just a fact I’m no longer able to afford to invest time in people who seem to find me a convenience more than a friend.  Life’s just too short.  They may expect to see big changes and, so far as they’ll be concerned, I’m afraid they may find me either more standoffish, or simply unavailable.  I can also say without any ego (hurt or otherwise) this has nothing to do with "getting even" or feelings of bitterness or any kind of betrayal (it’s summer after all, guys – I understand).  It’s how I should have appraoched things from the beginning, in fact.  It’s simply this: one can care about their fellow man, without the reverse being true.  But don’t expect the extent of that caring to go too damned far.  And yes, the painful truth is – those of whom I speak really, really do (even if they don’t wanna admit it to themselves).
 
It’s here thus I begin anew, as hard as change is.  Sometimes – it’s very hard indeed because for those of you left behind in the wake of this decision…well, I probably cared more than you’d care to know.
 
Categories: Personal

‘Ding!’ Reply to Your Messenger Chat Request – OR ELSE!!!!

29-May-06 12:00 am EDT Leave a comment
Wow!  Some girl who’s Messenger contact info an old acquaintence forwarded to me a couple weeks ago just threatened that she’d ‘delete me’ if I didn’t reply to her chat.  Admittedly, the past coupld of times she’d messaged me, I was away from the keyboard (AFK in chat lingo ) but apparently I’m supposed to be at my desk and respond to her requests within a day or so or I’ll be deleted.
 
Well, ya know what?  My computer is a piece o’ crap and Messenger doesn’t always work properly.  And not only do I not receive every message sent to me, but there’s a good chance that silly status thing doesn’t tell the truth and I’m not always around when it says I am.  At best, if it says I’m around – take it as a maybe.  If you want to reach me reliably next time, ask for my phone number or, better yet, offer yours up.  Phone calls are a touch more reliable.  How’s that sound?
 
She may be in a tiny minority on my conatct list, but she’s not alone.  To all of you who get mad if I don’t respond to chat requests instantly: MSN Messenger isn’t a live transponder which can be counted upon to report some kind of telepathic link to the Internet from my brain.  Not to mention the fact that, even without a phone number, I have – an e-mail address, a Skype address, Yahoo chat address, Google talk adress, etc., etc.  There are numerous other ways to try and reach me if someone needs to.  Threatening to cut me off from ever speaking to you again because I didn’t leap out of the bathroom or suddenly come awake and rush to my desk to the revelie of the Messenger ding is really silly and anyone who thinks this way isn’t being very courteous in my view.
 
Please be patient – and send e-mail or call if chats don’t work, k?
 
Thanks…
Categories: Personal

Be thee at peace, Karen…

25-May-06 12:26 pm EDT Leave a comment
I regret to notify all friends and family of the loss of a cousin; on my late mother’s side of my family.  My deepest condolances are hereforth extended to Karen’s family. Karen was truly an exceptional, loving and spirited individual who left a lasting impression in my life; even across the sizeable gaps in time between our visits. Her loss shall certainly be felt not just close to home to be sure, although the legacy of her warmth and kindness will endure for those closest to her as it has for those of us further away.
 
Be at peace, Karen.
 
Categories: Personal

Trailer Park Boys: A Reason to Move to Halifax?

18-Apr-06 01:02 am EDT Leave a comment
Okay, I admit it – I’m a huge fan of the Trailer Park Boys.  I’m not sure it’s because their lives seem in many respects less stressful than mine, or because those parts that aren’t bear a frightful, yet undeniable resemblance to my life on one or more occasions in the summer months.
 
At any rate, I somehow accidentally (yes, by mistake) signed up to get auto-sent stuff from the blog of the actor who plays "Cory" on TPB.  Occasionally there’s an announcement that he or his band is gonna put in an appearnace at some local watering hole – I mean, that is really down-to-earth!  How many celebs (even in Canada) do that sort of thing!?!?  Pretty cool stuff…yet not sure it’d be enough to get me to move out to Nova Scotia.
 
No not to enlist into the maritime poparazzi – just to be around the kind of people that are that approachable.  Reminds me of my home city, Winnipeg….
Categories: Personal

Blog Changes

16-Apr-06 03:12 pm EDT 4 comments

Well it seems there areas yet a few issues with MSN Spaces when using non-IE browsers (i.e. browsers other than Internet Explorer).  Some few, most recently my Father, have complained about using Mozilla Firefox and not getting the "right column"correctly presented…it seems it overlapped text on the main part of the blog.  Although UI practices (as I understand them – from such places as Human Factors) might dictate placement on the right for secondary, less important elements; I’ve redone the site so that the Spaces templates present the text correctly in all tested browsers.  These are, for the record:

One might also noe I’ve added some advertising elements.  Yes, this makes money, but whatever – there may well be books, magazines and who-knows-what-else of interest presented as well; I’ve selected ads that are pertinent to computers and information technology just for those who’re most likely to visit here.  For some reason, it also makes this place look a lot more "professional", which is probably a sad testament to the state of the Internet.  And lastly, yes I make a penny or two if you click the links so if you choose to do so from here – you have my thanks for that.

(Incidentally, for non-premium MSN subscribers like me, pasting these ad links in here from time to time sure isn’t very easy.  If you get broken links that look like they should be ads….blame Microsoft.) 

 

It should be noted too that these changes were made in part to make the lives of people using non-Microsoft browsers easier.  It appears Mozilla Firefox has lingering issues with MSN Spaces, over which there is debate about whom is responsible for the trouble:

 

Quote

using Firefox browser on msn spaces
{parts omitted}

it’s not the only browser i use . i do still use I.E. sometimes ( spaces has been designed to dove-tail perfectly with I.E. ) and i also use Avant browser which is like a multi tabbed version of I.E. . each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages . i know Firefox doesn’t work perfectly with msn spaces so I’ve found workarounds where possible . i’m going to cover the advantages / workarounds in turn below .
 

The remainder of the article cited above outlines the troubles in more detail. It is linked here for your own review, if interested. (The guy’s site is pretty cool and is obviously the product of features which become available if one pays their Premium membership fee, which I’m too cheap to. )  Suffice it to say that, despite being a pro-Firefox nut, Firefox doesn’t even load his site properly.  Ignore the part of the article where it says MSN Spaces is better-used from within Firefox; clearly that’s a bunch o’ crap.

Categories: Personal

Hard Drive Failure: Yes, Again…

31-Jan-06 07:03 pm EST Leave a comment
Every 12-18 months, I suffer a catastrophic hard drive failure.  Does that seem too frequent?  Well you’ll get no argument from me.  But it’s virtually like clockwork for me.  I can’t get through any 2 year period without a major hard drive failure …and now that time is upon me again.  My primary PC (the one I use for game playing, personal software development & as my internet gateway) has a faulty drive.  And, of course, it’s the main system drive.
 
Consequently, expect me to be on and off-line until I acquire a new one in the next few days.  Fortunately, most of my data has been backed up in various places.  (I’m particularly gratefulI’ve got a sourcecode repository that’s on a stable drive in my file/print server tower.)
Categories: Personal

Phillip Currie, Adopted in 1970, Seeks Parents….

30-Nov-05 10:57 pm EST 3 comments
I was watching Desperate Housewives this past week (yes, I admit I watch it – a girl friend got me into the program last season and I haven’t been able to stop)and one of the lead characters found out she had a parent perviously unknown to her.  As an adoptee myself, I’ve often wondered what it might be like to meet my parents — especially my father.  Unfortunately, I have very little information about my birth-family.  In Manitoba (where I was born) the laws are still somewhat…conservative.  And they’re geared toward protecting the parents – not the child.  As such, I can’t find out anything about my family legitimately.  An adoption group found out a fair bit about my mother’s family for me while I was in University, but I’ve learned nothing since.
 
Obviously, my mother (Barbara Currie would be her maiden name) knows I exist.  And through that adoption group I was in contact with at the University, I discovered I have an uncle – Ron Currie.  The birth certificate had my family name blacked out: readable through the ink as "Currie".  If anyone out there by chance can piece this scant information together and get me more details about these people, I’d be very grateful.  The adoption occurred in 1970 or 1971.  (And a high school picture I located about Ron Currie who went to a highschool in the St. Boniface neighborhood of Winnipeg, Manitoba looks astonishingly like me….it’s really quite scary.)
 
Other family details I’ve acquired include:
  • The Currie family lived in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface area in 1970-71,
  • my father may not know I exist; and I don’t have any data on him,
  • for some reason, the researcher seemed to think the Currie family was somehow involved with the railway, and
  • the Curries may have moved away from Winnipeg shortly after the adoption, settling elsewhere in Canada or peerhaps the United States.
Furthermore, I offer this as an open note to a possible family member: I’m told there’s often a lot of worry amongst those who’ve put children up for adoption about meeting their children years afterward.  Mostly what I have are questions; and while open to cultivating a new relatinoship with just about anyone – birth-relative or not – if no interest in prolonged contact exists, be assured that I’d be satisfied with a single opportunity to chat or meet.  I’m perfectly willing to respect the wishes of anyone finding themselves as my parent – whatever they may be.
 
 
Categories: Personal

Lest we Forget…

10-Nov-05 11:14 pm EST Leave a comment
And now a cause forever worthy of support – rememberance of the sacrifices others have made that we can debate such things openly & without fear of persecution & sanction….
 
 
 
…LEST WE FORGET….
Categories: Personal

Encounter at Work….

04-Nov-05 12:44 pm EST Leave a comment
Life can have its embarrasing moments – and I’m certianly not immune.  But this was particularly bad — and had my colleagues at work somewhat spellbound for about 30 minutes on my way into work this morning.  The scene was as you see it below:
 
 
Yes, that’s me in my car just in front of the Perth, ON Police Department vehicle.
 
It seems that less than 100m away from the two cops hidden in another turn-off into the parking lot for the building my office is in decided I did not come to a complete stop (although I surely came very, very close) and detained me for about 25 mins. to verify my particulars before handing me a small fine.  But the spectacle played itself out not anonymously by the side of the road….but in front of my colleagues, which the otherwise polite policeman appeared to find mildy amusing too.
 
Indeed, a colleage at work Eric was kind enough to take this image as the little drama played itself out and share it with everyone at the office….  So why not share it with the rest of the world, I thought….and here we are. 😉
Categories: Personal

Happy Hallowe’en

31-Oct-05 07:51 pm EST 1 comment
Happy Hallowe’en!!!!!
Have to say I was pretty impressed today seeing some of the media coverage of costumes at workplaces throught the country today.  In particular one call centre in Toronto somehow encouraged employees to dress up and the result was pretty fantastic.  The HR manager pointed out that it boosts morale in their environemnt, making call centre agents more upbeat in the workplace.
 
Of course, the expense associated with some of the costumes can get a little outta handa too, but still some of them were impressive – and ’twas cool seeing some companies get into the spirit today.
Categories: Personal

Dreaming of Mimas

10-Oct-05 01:09 pm EDT Leave a comment
Ever have a vivid dream that makes no sense? I mean, apart from the obvious Freudian analyses one can make about just any dream one ever has.  I was introduced to one of Saturn’s moons – Mimas – in my childhood and found it really fascinating when the most recent probe pass of it (Cassini) got a couple long-range shots of the famous "Herschel Crater", which most people don’t know by name…but which was the focus of this recent dream I had.
 
In the dream, I was this astronaut exploring this alien artifact at the centre of the crater. In fact, the object at the centre is a 6km high peak generated by an impact millions of years ago, but in Ross’s dreamland ended up being an obelisk covered in archaic alien symbols.
 
Not sure how the deram ended, although the subject might make for a great "B" sci-fi flick. 😉
 
Yeah…back to work here, I think.
 
Above picture source: NASA, Voyager I Spacecraft taken on November 12, 1980 at a distance of 540,000km.
 
Picture below, source: NASA, Cassini Spacecraft, taken on August 5, 2005 at a distance of  228,000km.
 
Categories: Personal

Rogers Taking Its Sweet Time Reconnecting Me

26-Jul-05 09:27 am EDT Leave a comment
I’m not sure how much longer this is gonna take, but Rogers Cable (my Internet Serivce Provider here in Ottawa, ON) is certainly taking its sweet time getting my Internet working again.  Trouble started last Friday when an error on their part resulted in my service being mistakenly cut off.  I got home from work late in the day to find my cable service gone and was told that nothing could be done on the weekend – and that I’d have to wait until Monday.
 
Well called them last night and was told that in order to get service back Monday (yesterday), I’d have to have specifically requested it; that the process wouldn’t happen automatically.  Calling back later, another agent told me a hold had been placed on my account, because of a balance owing for equipment that hadn’t been returned when the service was cut off….except that I would be needing that equipement once the service was restored again regardless so …why would I return it???
 
What a bunch of crap!  Today they insist that service will be restored.  Stay tuned for more on this…something tells me the saga might not be quite over yet.
Categories: Personal

Happy Birthday Calvin!!!

03-May-05 04:56 pm EDT Leave a comment

Cal:

Happy 32nd, bro!   Hard to believe…time passes so quickly doesn’t it?  But I know you’ll be busy partying it up tonight, so just a short greeting wishing you a

 

 

Love always,
RH

Categories: Personal

Talking about My life

30-Mar-05 09:52 pm EST Leave a comment

Another common theme I found today reviewing other spaces is using one’s own blog to "vent" or express unhappiness.  My life seems pretty screwy to me sometimes too, but I guess I deal with life’s more considerable frustrations privately.  At least – all the furstrations I’ve encountered so far. 😉

One approach that was particularly intriguing was the use of poetry.  Examples follows (and the guy’s from Ottawa too):

Quote

My life

My life is a hell.
I live my life day to day in fear of what else could go wrong.
My life is a jail.
I’m held back by rules and limitations that confuse me.
I turn to my friends as escape.

I can’t escape.

I’m constantly being brought down by society.
I’m in constant, incessant, inconceivably unbearable emotional pain and distress.
I sit here, painfully crying before you when I’m the one who should be strong.
I can’t be seen like this.
I need to be strong for my friends’ sakes.
I don’t care about my own well being.
I would gladly give up my so called "life" for any of my friends.

Devotion?
Insanity?

That I do not know
That I will not know, not until I understand myself will I truly be able live in peace.
Not until then will I have true happiness.
I’ve come close to obtaining such a state of nirvana, but it was stripped away from me by a waste of time.
My life is a hell.
My life is a jail.

I have nothing to live for.
No will to live.
No direction to travel.
Not because I’m a slacker, but because I’ve been disappointed and deceived so many times.
Because I’ve been taken advantage of, time after time.
Because I feel that my entire life has been an absolute waste of time.

I’m scared.

I’m scared of myself.
I’m scared of what I might do.
I’m scared of what I might NOT become.

"Your teenage years are the best years of your life."
Never before have those words been so wrong.

I write to you out of desperation.
I write to you as a last resort.
I have nobody left to believe in.
I have nobody left to live for.
I have my life to fear.
My life is a hell.
My life is a jail.

Help.

Categories: Personal

Am I the only one?

30-Mar-05 05:26 pm EST Leave a comment

I’m starting to wonder….  This site has been used primarily as a mentorship tool for people I work with, and a little bit of sci-fi stuff because I share that interest with several people and refer them here from time to time.  But today, I started looking around at some of the other blogs on MSN Spaces and noticed something peculiar: I’m the only one over age 25 or so to bother with one!

Admittedly, I’ve got a tendancy to act and even look many years younger than I am.  But, I’m curious if there’s anyone else between 25-35 that does uses a blog for personal stuff or whatever; or if I’m really not acting my age here.   Comments welcome…

Categories: Personal
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