Don’t get sick

March 22, 2010

So I caught a throat bug from my dad when I went to visit him a few weeks ago.  Not a big deal. Hurt a lot, was coughing a lot but I kept to myself and use a lot of hand sanitizer.  It was never bad enough not to go to work. But folks would hear my coughing and say I should go home.  It was just a cough so I told them to piss off.

Fast forward two weeks.  I caught a cold from my youngest.  She got it from day care.  Big deal.  I was still just getting over the first bug so I guess I was susceptible.  I dealt with it.  But at work I was wiping my nose a lot.  People saw me and said I should go home.  I wasn’t sick enough to do that.  I have my own office, I closed the door and used hand sanitizer a lot.

I am grateful to say that no one at work has caught either of my bugs.

So this weekend we had a whack of kids over.  They were all sick, including my own.  So in my weakened state I caught another bug.  The nausea and poopy kind.  I spent most of Sunday in bed.  Awesome!  I work stupid hours and at a very stressful job and my only real day off I get sick.

So like a good soldier I go to work this morning.  But my head is in a fog, I get confused easily and am not much good.  So I finish what I am working on and head home for some rest.

On the way home my president calls.  He is in town and his computer is slow.  He is pissed and when I tell him I am on my way home he is……annnoyed.  I offer to turn around and fix his problem but he says I can do it remotely from home (how generous of him).

When I get home I send out an email advising my boss that I am home sick resting but that I will leave my phone on for emergencies.  And do you know what he says?  “Are you sure?”

Am I sure that I am sick?  Um, well, let me check. Diarrhea, check.  Fever, check.  Barfing, check.   OFFS.

Then I get home and my wife looks at me and says “You don’t look sick”.

A user calls and says “You don’t sound sick”

I am available 24x7x365 and I get sick and get no sympathy.  If fact, people think I am making it up so I can go home.

If that is the credibility I have for all the time and effort I have put it, then it is no wonder people take advantage of the system.  If you assume they are abusing their privileges then they will.  Hell, if you are doing the time, might as well do the crime.

I am a little annoyed.  You tell me to go home when I am sick and when I do your are suspicious?

Here endeth the rant.  I am going to grab some water and a blankey and have another nap.

I have to. I am expected back at work tomorrow.  One day is long enough to get better.  I should have taken a day off three weeks ago and gotten over the first bug, then I wouldn’t be in this mess.


140 days

March 19, 2010

No more of this!

Its been a busy but good week.  I managed to put two projects to bed.  One that we had started a year ago and we progressed in small stages with many setbacks we completed this morning.  Final validation is on Monday but I have 100% confidence it will go smoothly.  The other was a small but significant upgrade to a remote location.  Bad news is that three more that stated this week.  Oh well.

Anyway, its been 140 days since I last had an alcoholic drink.  That’s the longest I have ever gone without…..since I met Brett.

Why quit?  Lots of reason but here is a top ten list of things that I like since I quit.

  1. I lost 12 pounds
  2. I am, ah-hem, regular.
  3. I have cash in my wallet at the end of the week.
  4. I don’t wake up with a muzzy head.
  5. I have energy and motivation at night.
  6. I sleep through the night.
  7. I don’t make an ass of myself (well, this is not entirely true)
  8. I have one less errand to do on the weekend (return bottles)
  9. I don’t get headaches during the day.
  10. I am better able to handle stress.

All good reasons but all in all  I just feel better.

Now to get back into shape….and pear is not the kind of shape I’m talking about.



Words to live by?

March 13, 2010

Been a while, sorry folks.  Work, work, work.  When you don’t invest in your infrastructure then it gets more expensive to fix and if you don’t have cash to buy new, you have to spend time to keeps things running.  And I am the “time”.  But things are turning around and picking up so it will be an exciting time as I get to do some projects and move forward again.

Anyway,  read an interesting quote today and I have been thinking on it.  This phase of my life is unusual in that I am accumulating stuff.  I used to live out of a pair of saddlebags and the only thing I accumulated was miles on my motorcycle.

Words to live by?

There is such a thing as enough.


The essence of happiness is wanting what you have.

I am going to try living this for a while.  Seems like an old comfortable coat to me.  I think I have worn it before.  And the last time I wore it I was much happier.



Be nice

February 11, 2010

Wow, what a rollicking comment section I have!  Problem is that most of the discussion goes out-of-band.  i.e. people email me instead of posting comments.  Which is fine but then no one else gets to see what you have to say.  Some people wrote some very personal things to me.  That is cool,  but post under a false name.  I’ll never moderate you or give away your true identity.

Anyway, I had some emails from people who were concerned about me.  Well don’t be.  The whole point of the post was of a guy who is successful in not only understanding himself but using it to his advantage.  In response to XUP, there is no fear of me “hurting” myself.  I have too much to live for and I have too many people depending on me.  And I know that no matter how low it gets…it will pass.  Besides I have lots and lots of coping mechanism which I can use.  Some as simple as going for a walk in the woods or as elaborate as going to talk to a professional.  I have found that as I get older the downs get less deep but do tend to last longer.  The benefit to that is that the highs last longer too, just not as high anymore.  And I am ok with that.

Anyway, on to the new post!

When I was growing up my father was always trying to make me “be tough”.  Tough it out, walk it off, suck it up.  And being 5 I bought into it.  I bought into it well into my adult life.  And I knew it went against who I was and my personality but when your Dad says to be a man, you be a man.  I have never seen him cry so I thought to be a man I would never cry. 

I compounded this by being a Trekker.  I wanted to be both Kirk AND Spock.  A true leader…..with no emotion.  And for the most part I succeeded.  My nickname in University moved from “Old Man” (I liked to go to bed before 11 PM) and “Asshole”.  I wore the asshole badge with pride.  I didn’t give a damn about anyone’s feelings and I didn’t care what anybody thought about me.

And it seemed to work. I had a few good friends.  I had some great experiences and I have a good career etc.  Job done right?

But now I look at my kids, and I see what they do and I see the effect I have on them.  And it is quite an effect.  It was about this time that I came to work for a guy who was a bigger asshole than me.  Quite a feat I assure you.  And for the first time I had to deal with this asshole instead of what I usually did when I met someone like myself.  If I met an asshole, I would be a bigger asshole until he gave in or went away.  If he pissed me off too much I went away.  Not a problem, what did I care.  However this time I had a family and couldn’t just pick up and run.

Instead I started looking to see how I could operate under him.  And since my way wasn’t working I started to look at how other people dealt with him.  Basically there were 3 types of people.  Those who stood up to him, were fired. Those who rolled over, are his employees.  And those who he could control, are his friends.

But there was a sub-set of people who actually ran the company and did all the work and were able to deal with all these people.  These people I watched closely because they not only had a great work experience, they also seemed….happy?  How the hell was that possible?  They had happy family lives, lots of happy friends and they were successful.  They made more money, seemed to do more, be more.  How they hell were they doing it!  I worked harder that they did.

Then as I watched and as I worked with them I saw it. They were nice.  That’s it, that’s all they were.  They said nice things, did nice things and they were happy.  But that isn’t they way I did things and maybe the way I did things was wrong, maybe?

So I went home and saw my kids playing with each other and when they fought I brought out the big guns and told them what for!  And it worked didn’t it?  Or did it.  They just seemed to go back to fighting when I wasn’t around.  So I decided to experiment with my kids.

I changed tactics, I taught them to be nice.  Say nice things, do nice things.  When someone is mean to you, be nice back.  And you know what?  It worked.  Most fights stopped, they started sharing, negotiating and my house actually started to have some harmony.  Whoa.

The next step was to apply that to my life.  And after three decades of being the tough guy, that was hard.  So I started small.  There was this mean old lady at the post office and I had to deal with her everyday.  Some days it got downright nasty with my just asking her to “do her fucking job”.  Postal employees, what are ya gonna do?  Well I started being nice.  I started small, by saying “good morning” on my way in and ” have a nice day” on my way out.  And in a nice tone of voice, like I really meant it.

The results of this campaign of niceness, this change of heart, change of tactics?  She was nice back to me almost immediately.  She went out of her way to help me, to let me know when I got a package.  Whoa again.  All I did was say “good morning” and look at the difference.

So I changed my ways, when people call I sound like I am actually glad to hear from them.  When users email me I always answer back with a “HI!, How can I help”  and things just keep getting better.

Now right in the midst of all this I was going through a bad patch with the asshole boss.  He took an almighty swipe at me and that was the last straw.  I found a new job and was on my way out, but I didn’t want to quit, I wanted him to fire me.  Pure ego, nothing else. But this was right when I was changing my tactics, and that change was cemented one morning because I read a book to my oldest child.  It was from the movie Chicken Little.  He was imagining if he was big and strong and then he would go and beat up his enemy Foxy Loxy.  But then he said, how would that make her feel? Would I not be just like her?  Chicken Little was right……dammit.

So the asshole flies into town, he marches right into my office and I say…?

“Good Morning Sir!  It’s good to see you again, you are looking well.  Did you have a good flight?”  He was completely taken aback.  He mumbled something that sounded like a “yes”.  Then I said.

“Is that your broken computer there?  I’m sorry about the trouble it has caused you, let me take it from you and I’ll have it fixed as soon as I can”

He said ok, that would be fine and left my office.  The situation was totally diffused and remains diffused to this day.  He cannot be mean to me when I am being nice, it is just not possible.

Even Jesus said to turn the other cheek and he was right.  Being mean begets meanness, being nice begets niceness.  And since I have started my “new way” things have gotten better.  So I am going to teach my kids to me nice in the way my dad tough me to be tough. And I have a feeling they will be happier and more successful for it.

Now you go and have yourself a great day!  Thanks for stopping by.


Ride it out.

February 8, 2010

I have written about this before but since its February and suicide month I thought I would refresh the topic.

First of all, do I get depressed that no one comments on my blog?  Nope.  I switched to WordPress and it publishes how many hits you get.  The last few posts got just under 100.  Not bad,  means people are reading and coming back.  Even if it’s just spammers and Google spiders, I’m cool with that.

Now onto the main topic.  People are depressed.  People get depressed. People are depressing.  Yup, and that is never going to change.  But we all like to be HAPPY!  We would like to stay happy,  hell we want to be happy ALL THE  TIME!

We do goofy things to get happy, like drink… but that’s actually a depressant.  So we buy stuff or go on vacation or have meaningless sex with strangers.  But it never lasts.

That’s because it’s not supposed to.

I had a bad patch in my mid-twenties.  I was living in Vancouver (Vangoovey).  Arguable the best city in Canada.  But I went through one job to the next. Always short of cash and never being able to get time or money to take the big bike trip to Alaska (still haven’t by the way)

I got depressed, I mean really depressed.  So depressed I couldn’t get out of bed, feed myself or give a damn about anything.  I had hit bad spells before and gotten through them but this one was bad.  I eventually worked my way out of it, or so I thought.  I went to therapy, group sessions, read books, attended seminars and as a last resort went to a doctor.  He diagnosed me with depression and put me on some drug (the name eludes me right now).

I call this period in my life “the lost 6 months”.  Everything was ok, it was alright, it was fine, I was fine.  Then my prescription ran out.  And I crashed. I mean I really crashed.  I mean standing on the Granville Street bridge over False Creek crash.

But I chickened out.  I gave up and slept on the beach, roamed the streets, drank heavily. Then one day, I felt a bit better.  And the next day I felt a bit better and then eventually I got on with my life.

Things went along very well for quite a while and then I got depressed again.  So I started the whole cycle over again, books, seminars, therapy. Right up until I thought I should go to the doctor.  I was walking to the clinic when I just kept on walking.  I walked, and walked and walked until I could literally walk no more.  I collapsed from exhaustion.  I lay on the trail in the forest for a long time, several hours at least.  There, unable to move, I was only able to think.  And this thought came to me.

Do you get depressed?  Yes.  Does it pass?  Yes.  Always?  Yes.

Yes, yes it does.  So all I had to do was wait. But knowing that it would pass, gave me hope.  And hope it seemed was all I needed.  I rode it out.

As I got better, things really got better.  I mean it got awesome!  I was on top of the world! I had energy, I had plans I had things to do.  And I did them. 

But a few months later I felt the crash coming.  But this time I said OK, I am about to get depressed again.  But that is OK.  It really is ok.  I know it won’t last long and I will come out of it.  And even if it lasts a bit longer or at an inconvenient time, that is ok too.  It will pass.

And the crash did come, and it didn’t last long but I tell you,  I wrote some really awesome stories.  And some pretty decent poetry  (yeah yeah, how very bohemian of me)

And when I felt better I read some of my black stories, written on black paper in a black room with the lights out. It was then that I realized something.  I needed my depression.  It was a part of me. 

The “lost 6 months” while I was on the pills was the worse period of my life.  I realize that now.  It robbed me of me. I walked around in a haze.  Everything was just ok, nothing else.  My world was beige. I need my lows so I can appreciate my highs.  I need my depression to take stock of my life, converse with my soul so that when I emerge, I have a plan, a purpose and I know myself.

Now I’m not going to lie to you and say that religion did not play a part in this.  When you are down, really down, you usually only have one person to talk to and only one person who will listen.  I’m not going to preach but I wanted to be clear, He helped, He may have even been the one who asked the questions while I was lying in the forest in a heap.  I don’t know.

So now I realize that depression is a part of me. I will never be happy all the time.  And I don’t want to be.  I need my depression so that I will know when I am happy.  And let me tell you.  When you are in a deep valley and then climb the highest mountain.  The trip is worth it.  And to look down to where you have been, and how far you have come, that distance is far greater that the drug induced plains of stability. 

So when you start to feel depressed, like I am feeling right now, know that it won’t last.  Know that you should embrace this opportunity to know yourself, revel in the black, drink the misery and have your fill because it will go away soon and when it does, you will miss it.

So for me, tonight, I am getting the black pen out, and will open my black notebook with black pages and I’ll turn the lights out, and I will be BRILLIANT!



Stories from Eyetealand

February 5, 2010

Being an IT guy I get to speak and interact with a great many people.  Both personal customers and the users in my company.

In my time I have some awesome stories of people struggling with technology.  Usually older folks who have not grown up with the technology and find it quite foreign and hard to understand.

I will try to post these stories here from time to time to amuse you.   The names and places have been changed to protect the innocent (and the embarrassed)

I will start with my favorite.  There is a very nice lady who works in a secure compound in the US.  She has to connect with our companies network as well as that of the company we are doing work with.  It’s not easy keeping it all straight. Now this lady is obsessed with colour (color in the US) printing.  It is not a requirement of the job nor do any reports demand it.  She just likes colour and she is indispensible at her job so I humour (humor) her.

Well one day her favorite printer died and she got a new HP colour printer.  But she could not get it to work.  So she called me for help.  I went through some common troubleshooting steps with her including are there light on the printer, does it have paper, is the USB plugged in, etc.  Yes to all questions.  Still the printer would not show up in her Printers folder.

Her internet was tenuous at best.  She should have been using a remote desktop to connect to us but it would disconnect constantly so it was unusable. She was in a trailer in a compound surrounded by 3 layers of fencing. It takes 45 minutes to clear security either way to get in or out.

So I ask her to turn on her VPN (Virtual Private Network).  This basically creates a tunnel through the internet connecting her computer to my internal network.  Then I could use a remote desktop to see her screen and see if I could find the problem.

The connection was so bad that if I clicked something it would take two seconds for the click to reach her screen and two seconds for the result to get back to me.  Needless to say it was a very laborious process.

USB hub was fine, the correct drivers were installed.  I had her switch USB ports, add a USB hub but nothing worked.

Finally in exasperation, as asked this question.

“You said that there were lights on the printer.  These lights on the printer, are they on?”

After she plugged the printer in she was fine……



Out with it!

February 3, 2010

People who know me know that I hold the truth above all else.

Today I was listening to an old episode of Radio Lab from NPR http://www.radiolab.org/ The show was about morality and the presenter was speaking about an incident when she was in grade three.  She had tracked down a number of her old classmates. They helped her to move the story along.  However that was not what got me thinking.  She did a small after-thought to the story.  Her old classmate told a story where he abandoned a friend after an accident and the guilt he felt about that.

It reminded me or a similar story that happened to me but from the other angle.  I didn’t abandon anyone.

I have a very good friend.  Let’s call him Jim, because that is his real name.  This was in the first year of my friendship with Jim which has now stretch over 25 years.  I immediately knew that this guy was a good guy and worth having and keeping as a friend. I am a very loyal person and I will reward your friendship twofold.  As Brett or anyone of my friends who visit here will tell you.

Anyway, Jim and I volunteered at a museum in my hometown.  We were smart and could miss school and not fall behind.  In actual fact we were bored and this was the school’s way of keeping us interested.  It worked.

We would walk to and from the museum and home along Main Street (yes, it was actually called Main Street).  Jim was picking up chestnuts and horse-chestnuts and all kinds of seeds and stuff and opening them and investigating them. He was always very curious.  He then discovered that chestnuts bounce, they don’t break.  So we bounced them on the sidewalk for a while.  And then fo no reason Jim tossed a chestnut at a moving van.  I guess to see if it would bounce.  Well it did, and then it bounced off a windshield of a car.  Jim’s face went white with fear.  As a joke a said “Run Jim run!  The car is turning around!’  So Jim took off like a scalded cat.  I was laughing my ass off right up until a car jumped the curb and nearly ran into me.

Here’s the storey I told everyone else.  Two guys hopped out, approached me and asked a lot of questions about stones being thrown.  A woman came out of a nearby house to ask if I was OK.  I said I was, then I gave my name and phone number to the guys so they would go away.  I then went home and called Jim.

Jim also had a bit of an adventure.  he hid under cars, in BBQ’s and from dogs (he has a big fear of dogs) and finally arrived home.  No big deal, we got away!

A few days later a Cop shows up at my house, asks a lot of questions and I eventual say I would contact my friend and get him to call the Cop.

Jim does call the Cop, and in the end nothing really happens as the guys insurance covered the broken windshield.  Jim and I still laugh about it when we think about it.

Now for the real story.

After I tell Jim the car is turning around, I laugh my ass of and then a car jumps over the curb and runs me over.  I mean flat on my ass under a Mercury Capri.  They reverse, pull me out and proceed to pummel the living crap out of me.  They steal my wallet.  A woman comes out of her house to see what is going on. They threaten to kill me if I tell her anything.  While a knife is pressed into my belly I tell the lady I am fine and to go back inside.

They throw me in the car and drive to a vacant lot where they kick and punch me, never hitting my face.  They eventually start asking questions.  Well, I button up.  I don’t say one word.  I know that if I give them Jim’s info they will go find him and beat him worse than me.  Eventually I fake passing out.  (You know how hard it is not to flinch when someone kicks you?)  I walk home and call Jim and I tell him the fake and we laugh about it.  I don’t tell Jim the truth because I don’t want to scare him.  I really think its over because they won’t be able to find me again as they don’t even have my name.  Later that night I realize I don’t have my wallet anymore.

I live in fear for weeks.  I leave and come back from school at odd times,  I never take the same path to or from school.  I felt safe doing my paper route as all my customers would protect me.  I always tried to travel in groups.

But I was one paranoid little dude. 

Then one day I am up in my room reading when my folks call me downstairs.  I walk into the living room and there is my mom and dad….and a Cop.

He has my wallet.  I am thinking he found it and is bringing it back to me.  I was a little naive back then. Anyway the Cop puts on his bad cop face and starts giving me the business.  He wants Jim’s name and address. I play dumb.  At some point the guys who were driving the car realized that there were two of us and the guy who ran was the guy who was guilty.  Not sure why they brought the cops into it, pretty dumb considering the beating they gave me.  Anyway, the Cop is playing all his psychological games to get me to talk.  But eventually he brings out the cuffs and says he is taking me in.  He must have made a deal with my folks because they just stood there and said nothing.  So he gets the cuffs on, and I sit in the back of the Cop car.

In my head is this thought.  I can give Jim up but then he will get beaten up or taken in by the Cops.  Not good.  But if I keep my trap shut then Jim is safe AND since everyone knows I didn’t do it I can’t go to jail, or get beaten up again.  Not telling the Cops what they want to know isn’t illegal and since I haven’t said one word, they don’t even know if I know who the other guy is. Eventually the Cop, who made a big fuss about taking me in gives up.  And he does what he should have done in the first place.  He gives me his business card and says give me a call if you change your mind or give my card to your friend and he can call me.

So he lets me out, I go inside, I tell my folks nothing and go back to my book.  My folks think that I told the cop my friends name, but they don’t even know who Jim is or that he works at the museum at that point.

I call Jim later that day from a pay phone (in case my line is buggged).  We meet at his place and say tell Jim the first story.  Not sure why, but I think I may have thought I was protecting him.

He talks to his dad, they call the cops and then insurance covers the damage.  Jim nor I ever see the guys in the car again.

So there is the truth, all of it.  And a small moral for you too.  Keep your friends, be loyal and it will be repayed.  Don’t cave into “the man” whomever he might be because when it comes right down to it, your friends and your family will be all that you have.

And Jim?  He has repaid that loyalty back to a degree that cannot be measured.  Good friends are worth taking a few body blows for.


P.S. I have not told Jim the truth yet.  I am curious to know if he reads my blog.  Keep checking the comments.