All righty then…

January 25, 2012

How’s that for a long gap between posts.

I’ve been listening to Snap Judgement on NPR, via their Podcast.  Good show but the host is annoying.  The stories are great.  Real people telling stories, just awesome.  I was going to send one of mine in but they seem to have enough content, I don’t.

When I was in university I really was having a good time.  I loved my classes.  They were diverse and I was anonymous.  Political Science, Economics, History, geography and English.  30,000 students.

But as winter came and stayed, Christmas passed and we were firmly stuck in February I felt the creeping blackness creeping over my mind.  Much as it is now which is why this story came to mind.

I was leaving my last class of the day and headed out to the cafeteria.  I had no one to sit with so I grabbed a table on the side and just ate in silence.  That may not have been the best course of action.  I started to dwell on the fact that I had not met as many people as I would have liked, I was not doing as well in class as I would have liked and the sun was not as visible as I would have liked.

It was in this state of mind that I left the building and started the walk back to my rented room in a house.  I had discovered a shortcut between two residences that knocked a few minutes off my walk so I headed that way.  The night was cold, crisp and dark.  As I made my way though the snow that had accumulated between the building I heard the most astounding thing, a violin.  And it was playing Tchaikovsky.  I stopped in my tracks and looked for where it was coming from.  It was loud so it must be either outside or through an open window.  There was only one open window so I stared up at it and just listened.  He or she did an entire movement of his violin concerto.  And then it was over.  And I heard the window close.  I stood there hoping, praying for an encore.  But none was forthcoming.

I walked home in a much better mood.  As I learned later the best way to manage stress and defeat depression is to listen to music, sit in nature and really just to take a moment to empty your mind and gain perspective.  And that is what I did.

The next day I did not have any afternoon classes but I went to the cafeteria for dinner and sat with my TA from Poli Sci.  Then at the appointed time I left and walked between the two buildings.  My heart leapt for joy when I heart Mozart.  Absolutely beautiful.  I was not so well schooled in Mozart at the time to realize that whoever was playing was playing a piano concerto on the violin.  But I didn’t care.  It was live and alive and it moved me.  And then again it was all over too soon.  And I was left to walk home in the dark but I was now carrying a light inside.

My house mates started to get suspicious that I wasn’t home for dinner anymore as every night I would go back to campus for dinner and come back after 7 PM, snow or shine.  They though I had met someone, and in a way I had. But I didn’t tell them.  I wanted it to remain an audience of one.  I thought that by sharing my secret concert I would wreck the magic.

Now not every night did the music waft down to my main floor seat.  Some nights I waited until well after I should hoping the window would open.  And it never did.  But most nights it would.  I soon realized that the night that the music was missing was every Wednesday night.  So every Wednesday night I would skip dinner on campus as whomever they player was obviously had a night class.  But I alway knew that my Tuesday night concert would have to tide me for two days.

It was my little secret and I am always amazed that no one else ever came to listen, or saw me leaning against the wall listening.  It was magical.

My maestro was getting better too.  An hour a day was making a difference.  The playing became more bold, confident and then later inspired as they took liberties with the music and started to play.  I was overjoyed in their joy in the music and always forgave any mistake they made.

Now I am no music aficionado.  I am a useless player.  I took piano lessons for years and never passed grade 1.  But I could always recognize good music and good playing.  My little orchestra was not world-class.  In fact they were not proficient.  I could hear the lessons they took but they had no latent talent. They did it because they loved the music and when they played that love shone through.  To me that is how music should be played, by people who love music.  And I loved they way they played.

And now we come to the crux of the story, when I go from audience to participant. The player gave me so much. Hope, peace, and something to look forward to.  And I was taking and not giving.  And when in April when the music started to die I felt cheated.  The concerts started to get shorter, and sporadic.  Sometimes they never finished the movement or switch pieces halfway.  I was getting pissed off.  This is not what I had come to expect.  So one week there was only one concert and it was short and it ended with a growl and a slammed window.  I went home feeling particularly jilted.

When I got home there was tension in the house.  My housemates were at each others throats. And it dawned on me.  While I didn’t get stressed out over exams, other people did. The lightbulb went off.  My maestro was stressed.  I felt incredibly guilty.  Here I was expecting.  No regard for the person playing that violin.  So I decided it was my turn to give back. And the only thing a musician wants to be is appreciated.

So I wrote a note.  Snuck into the residence, deduced where the room was and slipped a note under the door.  It was addressed to “The Violinist”, and it read:

Dear Violinist,

I am your shadowy fan. Every night I stand or sit under your window waiting for you to play.  I have been listening since February’s darkest days.  Look between the buildings and you will see a bare patch of grass attesting to my loyalty.

You play beautifully, with real heart, real emotion and you move me.  You saved me during my darkest days and you will never know how much your playing meant to me.

In the last few weeks your playing has started to reflect the obvious stress you are going through.  I feel the struggle you go through as the very violin you love fights you.

I just wanted you to know that it will pass, you will move beyond this small space in time and your music will return.  And I will be there to listen. I think that whoever you are, you are a beautiful person because only a beautiful person can play so beautifully.  Please continue, for the both of us.

I will be waiting, and listening and appreciating the magic thing that you do.


Your audience of one.

I snuck out the same way I came and went to class, went to dinner and then to my appointed place.  The window was closed but I waited anyway. And waited and waited.  Was today the day of an exam? Were they out studying? 8 PM and I knew that it passed the time for a concert but then the window slowly opened.  I only briefly saw the hand that I always saw but I could never deduce male or female, big, small.  And them Brahms, beautiful, beautiful Brahms.  And I felt the tears well up. And the raw emotion poured out from the strings and bow.  It was powerful and subtle and soulful and forceful.  It was everything.

And when it was over I lamented that this or the next concert would be the last.  May was upon us, exams were almost over.

There were 2 more concerts after that and then I never heard that violin again.  I never found out who was playing and they never looked out the window to see who was listening. And perhaps it was better that way, the expectations were set very high.

But whoever that was saved me.  And I hope that in some small way I saved them.  And in the end, it was the music that saved us all.



Still Here

December 13, 2010





What have YOU been up to?

August 25, 2010

Summer was here and now it is gone, summer was fun and fun is good.

Good olde Dr. Seuss.

A sudden spike in comments and visits thanks to Friar linking to my blog has convinced me that people actually read this damned thing and may even like what they read.  How odd!

Have I been busy?  Yup, and so have most of you judging by the much reduced activity on the web.  Even Facebook has been scant of late.  And that is good.  Get away from the screen and get the hell outside before it snows.

But this time is my favorite time of year.  Days are cooler so you can work outside. Nights are cooler so you can sleep and the sky is that awesome shade of blue.

Me?  I’ve been busy. But am I REALLY busy? To be quite honest? No.  But I like to be.  I like to always be doing something, even if that something is staring at the wall, because my brian is going 200 miles an hour.  Makes me tired but what are you gonna do? Go into a coma?

So how do I spend my time? Well I decided last year to only work my required 8 hours AT work.  Sure I work lots of hours but my post 40 hours is done from home.  That does create a lot of stress for me because I am packing in the same amount of work into fewer hours.  Oh well.  I get to see my kids more that way.

And speaking of kids, that is why I am so “busy”.  I get my kids going in the morning and drive them to daycare and most nights I pick them up.  And this is where the “busy” part comes in.  I am busy with my kids or doing thing while being with my kids (work, clean, fix).  Park, play, walks, games and learning to ride bikes.  That takes up a lot of my free time.  Because I want to, because I like to and let’s be honest, I need to.  They need me and I need them.  I learn from them, they learn from me.  They drive me insane and keep me sane. I like to hang out with them and I’ll do it now before they figure out that I am ”lame” or whatever passes for that term nowadays.

Then when the kids go to bed and before I go to bed? Well I used to run my damned ass off doing all the stuff I need to do.  Now I say to hell with it.  Watch at least one TV show a night.  Its good entertainment and its different from everything else you do and sometime I actually learn something new (I watch a lot of PBS).

Then? I fix computers, fix my motorcycle, email friends, abuse Friar on his blog.

So am I really busy.  No.  But I am always doing stuff so that I feel busy.

And the weekends you ask? (Well I know you didn’t ask but I am using that technique to get to my next thought) Well they are packed too but with what?  In the summer I watch F1 so Practice, Qualifying and the race take up 6 hours. Then the girls have soccer or swimming. I try to take one or two motorcycle rides each a couple of hours. But more often than not we are out visiting friends or family.  And I force this. And I force this for a very good reason. If you want to be truly “happy” then spending time with friends and family is the surest way to be happy.  Study after study have shown this.  We are social animals, we were not meant to sit in front a screen, TV, LCD or otherwise.

So the house doesn’t get cleaned as often as it should, I don’t actually speak to friends as often as I should and I don’t do all the things I want to do but I always end up doing things I like in my time off.

Which is why blog posts are sporadic.  I fit them in where I can, like this one which I wrote during my lunch hour.  Normally I go home to eat and clean, sleep or watch TV but today my car is in the shop.

Am I happy? Happier than I was last year.  Busy? Yup, but my kind of busy.  Can I get more done, accomplish more?  Yup, but that would be at the cost of happiness.

But this is me and my choices, you go and do whatever the hell you want that floats your boat. More power too you.


P.S. Gracious, I know who you are.  Your initials are RG and you wrap duck tape around your boots not over.  If you are not going to say something nice, piss off.  I am your effing IT Guy and I can make you life difficult.


Somebody call me a Wha-mbulance!

June 9, 2010

Eyeteaguy is having a rough go of it lately. And I have always said that no one like a whiner.  But sometimes it helps to get it off your chest. So here goes.

I run an IT department by myself.  Big deal right?  But size matters.

Locally I have 45 users, 8 servers, 16 printers and all the networking and infrastructure to go with it.  This has been relatively stable for the last 8 years.

However, I have 6, soon to be 7 remote locations that I take care of.  Some are small, 3 users and a printer. Some are quite large 40 users and multiple servers.  This largest location is being tacked on to my system next month.

This may be a bit much as they are in the Pacific time zone and some users work until 6 PM their time which is 9 PM my time. Since our plants start at 6 AM my time that can make for a long day if things don’t go smoothly.

I have had my budget cut every year I have been here.  8 years of cuts yet we have grown 4 times in size. How do I do it?  I recycle equipment, I buy used, I look for and find free software.  It can be done, if you have the time.  And that is what I don’t have any more.

And you know what else I don’t have anymore? Energy, desire, drive.  And that is because there is no end in sight, just more of the same and that is demoralizing.

I quit drinking, modified my diet, changed the way I live so I can be more efficient at work.  But I am running out of ways to get more out of me.

I do add stress to my life by refusing to work at the office long hours.  I drop my kids off and pick them up so my at-work day is slightly shorter than it used to be.  I like my kids, I like hanging out with them.  When they go to bed I go back to work (virtually) and put in another few hours.

But it’s not enough and I am suffering mentally.  I am unable to relax or enjoy my life anymore.  So what is the point?

Mrs. Eyeteaguy works the night shift 2 weeks out of 4 so I am the mom and the dad half the time.  And my house gets messy and I get stressed.  No one’s fault, that’s just life right?

Right? Well it gets worse.  (And I’m about to piss some people off here).  I feel like I’m alone.  My wife’s job take a lot out of her so she is not really “home” anymore.  Our parents do not help or contribute.  Other friends get nights off, vacations when their parents step in, step up, chip in.  And as for aunt’s and uncles?  right…..

So I am slowly spiralling in.  I can feel myself changing.  I have become the person I swore I would not become.

So excuse the shit out of me if I have a shitty attitude.  You have no idea how it feels to have 148 users, 134 computers and 13 servers depending on you.  Any one can fail at any time and I’m the guy who has to drop everything to fix it. 24/7/365 baby.  This year was the only year in 8 years that I have not been called on Christmas.  I live in fear of my cell phone going off.  My heart is pounding all the time.  I have a task list that would take a team 3 months to clear without having anything added to it.

No help, no support, no shoulder to cry on, just a blog where I get to vent.

So call me a fucking wha-mbulance to take me to the hospity-al.




May 3, 2010

Good day to the Friar Family!  Seems I have attracted the whole crew due to my Ode.  If anyone was wondering if the Friar was maladjusted you can stop worrying.  Look at his support network!  His friends and family come out to support him wherever he goes. 

Onto this week’s topic.  As I have gotten older I have become more aware of the world and my part in it and the effect I can have on it.  We just consume, consume, consume.  We don’t know where all the resources come from to make that coffee in the morning.   To look at just one small aspect of it, how much oil was burned to get that coffee from Brazil to your cupboard?  From the farm to the port to the store to your house.  That’s a lot of gas for a cup of coffee.

I think this need of ours to have the latest and greatest will be our downfall.  One of the most vivid pictures I have seen recently is from the cell phone recycling program.  They have been putting out boxes to collect them so they can either reuse them or recycle them.  After a few months they had filled their warehouse and the warehouse was huge!  Just speaking for myself, I have gone through 5 phone since I started at my current job, that is four phones in that recycling pile.  Staggering.

But I have a motorcycle.  A 1984 Honda Interceptor.  I love that bike and I’ll never get another.  Why?  Because it’s the one I have always wanted.  I remember seeing one come down my street one day when I was a kid. I saw it again in a magazine later that year and one day I went to the dealership to see it for real.  I was 12 years old.

After university I got a motorcycle.  Not the one I wanted but one that was suited to riding all over Canada.  And I did ride all over Canada. But that bike was not the one.  Even after becoming a bike mechanic and being able to ride the latest and greatest and the classic and bombastic, I still pined for my true love.

Then one day a guy who I knew from work had to sell his bike because his wife wanted it out of the garage.  It had 12,000 km on it and 5 owners and it was the one.  So I bought it and rebuilt it.  Took it right back to stock from the factory.  No fancy pipes, jet kits or clip ons.  Back to the way it was, the way it should be.

I am still riding that bike 10 years later.  This weekend the odometer rolled over 65,000.  And I plan to keep it for another 10 years.

So why is it the rest of our lives are so disposable?  I know that ad agencies prey on our weakness to have the latest and greatest but my TV was very good when I bought it and it still works,  it’s just not a flat screen 32 inch 3D. 

The real issue is our economy is based on consumption.  Look what happened when the US stopped consuming.  The whole world came to a screeching halt.

So maybe the answer is not to stop consuming or even to take away our ability to consume more than we need (cheap credit) but to be happy with what we have and not consume so much?

But that is a paradigm shift in thinking we may not be able to make.  All I know is my grandfather used the same tractor for 50 years.  My wife’s family still lives in the same house they always have.  So this way of living in new and while really cool, is not sustainable.



Ode to Friar

March 31, 2010

I read very few blogs.  Mostly because most blog are crap.  They say very little or rant about things that I find quite silly.  I use the Internet for two things, information and entertainment.  Sometimes both at the same time.

I read my Formula One news, Facebook and news (BBC and Globe and Mail) .  And that is about it.

I used to visit Brett’s 6 Weeks site but now its more like 6 years.  XUP’s is always interesting but her comments section is like the beach at Normandy, best to keep your head down. But my favorite-est site?  The Deep Friar! Go there now!  But come back when you are done.

Friar is a regular commenter here and I always welcome his comments, even if he says the dumbest things.

But this is an Ode to Friar post not a slam to Friar post.  I save the slams for his comments section.

Friar’s blog is unique.  It is funny, intelligent, entertaining and informative.  You learn more from the comments section than you do going to school. The best part is that his mom, sister and brother come and visit and that always lightens up the comments.  His mom is a marvel, his sister is hot (she wants me) and his brother has an interesting name.

My favorites posts are the Viking cartoons.  Original, topical and really funny.  I can’t wait until another comes out.  I know Friar hates those posts because he works very hard on them, spends hours on each frame and then he gets 2 comments. Then he post a dead fish and gets 300.  No one said that the ‘net made any sense.

But what I do hate is those silly paintings he posts.  Not sure why.  Maybe he thinks it will get him a girlfriend by showing his sensitive artsy side.  But his topics leave much to be desired.  Food, landscapes, snow?  C’mon, how about abstracts? Nudes?  Flowers even?

I keep telling him to just take a picture and post those.  He seems to have a good eye for a nice shot.  But no, he insists on painting them.  But anyone can paint.  See? Here is something I whipped up last night.

I even used the right colours following the numbers on the paints.  I mostly stayed in the lines, but I am an amateur, not like the Friar.  He is a professional, he sells his paintings for cash!

So to recap.

  1. Visit The Deep Friar.
  2. He is funny
  3. I don’t like his paintings
  4. His cartoons are hilarious
  5. I don’t like his paintings
  6. Comment in his blog, you will always get a response, usually funnier than his post.



All walk and no talk

March 25, 2010

127 views and one comment.  Welcome to my world.

Well as it turns out your intrepid Eyeteaguy had strep throat.  Very nasty, my voice only returned last night.  Turns out you can die from it and it sure felt like it.  Now how does a young healthy IT Guy get such a severe case?  “Stress and over work can suppress the immune system” says my doctor.  No kidding.

But the biggest joke was when my president calls me AT HOME and asks my wife to put me on the phone.  She says he can’t because he can’t talk, and he is in bed, and I think he is dying.  So he demands she wake me up and tell me to remotely access his machine so I can fix his email.  She says she will not and but will ask me when I emerge.  This of course wakes me up.  I ask for my iPhone and I feebly tap out an email to my boss and my IT contractor.  Neither gets back to me so I go back to sleep.  An hour later I wake up and check email again and El President has fixed the problem.  Turn out his screen was fuzzy because he had set the resolution on his screen too low.

So I am back in the saddle and now wondering what all this means.  I woke on Tuesday morning at 2 AM barely able to breathe my throat was so swollen.  I knew that if I panicked I would make things worse so I just used every mind trick I knew to slow my heart rate and slow my breathing.  I also raised myself up a bit so that gravity would help drain the fluid.  It worked and I went back to sleep.  But it got me thinking, if I had been in real trouble, I could not speak or yell.  I could pound on the wall but who would hear me?  My wife works nights and my five-year old sleeps like the dead.  I was literally seconds from death.  Odd feeling.

So what does this all mean?  Well I have nearly died before so this was not a life changing experience.  I did not wake up and want to hug my family.  I do that every morning, even if I have to force them.  I did not make me appreciate them more.  I already appreciate them as much as is possible.  What it taught me is that you may not have 20, 30, 40 years left.  You may have only today.  And I am not doing what I want to do and I am not happy all the time.  What I am doing is the best I can with what I have while still trying.  Is that good enough?  For me?  Right now?  Yes, it’s a rut, but its my rut and I like it.

A year from now I will be someplace else because I am always open to the possibilities, I will take the risks when I see them but I also know when to wait and have patience.  You will never know when your chance is but you have to be ready for it.  Chances have come my way so often I feel blessed and I have caught every single one of them.  I don’t think I let one slip by.  So I am all walk baby, because my talk has been stripped from me by the Strep.