Monday, 30 November 2009

Day 1

Started the new job at the Argo plant today.  It was quite a relief to find a bunch of normal people there.  Spent most of the day reading up on Argos and HR policies.  I was pleasantly surprised to have an orientation with a competent HR person.  I was beginning to think such a creature only existed in fairy tales.  The rest of the place seems an odd mix of old and new technologies.  Still a lot of paper shuffling but a solid intranet information base and the best MRP implementation I've seen yet.  There was one horrible moment when my new boss showed me my new desk and there wasn't a phone on it.  I flashed back to my nightmare at Fanotech where a phone was also missing when I started and would never appear.  Happily the missing phone at Argo was due to a miscommunication with IT and not due to any fanatical obsession to control communication in and out of the plant.  So, it's looking good and I hope to dig in sooner than later.  A relief all around.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

First Day Jitters

First day at the new job tomorrow.  Dear god I hope this one sticks....

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Chicken Bowl Update

It's been a couple hours now.  What was once a warm, comforting, mush is now a 10 pound brick that has taken up residence in the pit of my stomach.  I don't feel good at all.  Why?  Why did I do this?  Why didn't I listen to Patton Oswalt?  Oh, it's all gone horribly wrong.  Damn you Colonel Sanders!

Chicken Bowl

I remember the initial marketing campaign for the KFC chicken bowl.  I found it strangely intriguing.  It looked like they were trying to sell me a bowl of their left-overs.  But every now and then I do enjoy a bowl of left-over mush.  It's just that, usually, it's MY left-overs.  I'm not a huge KFC fan.  Every couple years, nostalgia clouds my mind, and I go get a bucket o' greasy chicken but that's it.  And their bowl of mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, cheese, and deep fried chicken bits wasn't going to draw me in any more frequently.

It also didn't help that I read a fairly damning article written by the comedian Patton Oswalt at the Onion AV Club.  His description of the chicken bowl as "a failure pile in a sadness bowl" pretty much ensured that I would never give in to my baser desires and actually eat one of these things.

Until today.  I'm killing time in Kitchener waiting for the movers to show up and I figured, what the hell?  If I don't have one now, I probably never will.  So I stopped by and picked one up.

And it's really not that bad!  I probably will never order another one but as far as fast food goes, this was pretty damn satisfying.  Actually the worst part of the whole deal was the chicken.  If you're going to douse a deep-fried something with gravy, that something better be pretty damn crispy.  These chicken bits were not.  The breading was just a little more mush to blend in with all the other mush.  The bowl would have been much better with some pan fried chicken bits without the breading.

So, I survived the bowl and would actually recommend it if KFC is your only option for food on the road.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Return of TBone!

Over 12 years ago I left the collegiate confines of Waterloo to start my engineering career.  And now I'm back.  Hopefully for a while.  Cause man do I hate moving.

Will be living in Kitchener and working in New Hamburg.  Found a place near the expressway and minutes from my brother and his family.  Got a couple days to relax before the movers show up with my stuff which also gives me some time to get utilities set up and get those addresses updated.  Some random thoughts on my first morning back in the K-Dub:

  • Movers are awesome.  Well worth the money.  Just got out of their way and let them get the stuff out of there.

  • Downtown Kitchener is just as sketchy as I remembered.  But the new sidewalks are nice!

  • Parking your vehicle, filled with those possessions too valuable to leave with the movers, next to a homeless guy is very stressful

  • It's very hard to not stare at the woman waiting at the bus stop, yelling at no one in particular, with no cell phone visible

  • Kitchener has one of the best LCBO's for single malt scotch.  I'm about to fall off the wagon.  AND they are open from 9:30 to 10:00!

  • Kitchener utilities is about as technologically backwards as they could be.  No online services, no phone services.  Gotta show up in person.  I was surprised to find they actually had computers when I showed up.

  • Sushi restaurants, Best Buy, modern movie theaters, friends, family....man I'm pumped about this move


Saturday, 21 November 2009

New Moon

Drove up town New Liskeard today.  There is a movie theatre in town.  Never been in it but there is one in town.  It was around noon and I was surprised to see an actual line up of people outside this dinky little two screen theatre.  Lived here 2 1/2 years and have never seen a line up at the theatre.  Thought it was odd but kept driving.  On my way back I drove by it again and slowed down to see what was actually playing.  Two screens, matinee presentation of The Twilight Saga: New Moon.  And they are LINED UP!  I almost ran into the car in front of me.  Our society is doomed.

Deer

I've said this!

Check It Out: Deer | The Onion - America's Finest News Source


Friday, 20 November 2009

Benjamin Button

Finally saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

I don't want to talk about it.


Thursday, 19 November 2009

faxZERO

Handy little web site if you need to fax something but don't have a land line or a fax.  Who the hell has a land line these days anyways?

Free Fax • Free Internet Faxing


Monday, 16 November 2009

Confessions

Really had to think about whether I was going to write about this topic.  Internet's a dangerous place and all the more dangerous if you post personal information.  But, I think it's important to get this out there, let everybody know, deal with the aftermath, and maybe, just maybe, this will give somebody else the courage to make a similar confession and it will be all the easier for that person if I just go first.

So, here goes.....

The movie Bolt made me cry.



Yes, that Bolt.  A stupid Disney cartoon about a dog and a cat and a hamster making an "incredible" journey across America.  This had me bawling like a baby.

Now I try to be cynical.  I try very, very hard.  And I was doing fine.  Right up to the point where the talking cat describes how her owners abandoned her.  Boom, that 5 inch thick layer of cynicism washed away in a waterworks display that would have made Tammy Faye Baker embarrassed. 

God.  There I was, weeping at this ridiculous cartoon, KNOWING that I was being manipulated by some Disney corporate hacks, and not being able to do a thing about it.  Assholes.  I was so ashamed.  Luckily I was alone.  No one need know.  I just won't ever mention it.  Who would ever bring up Bolt in conversation?  It would be just one more secret I take to the grave with me.

But then I watched Up on the weekend.



Son of a bitch!  Ten minutes in and the lip's quivering, the eyes are watering, and I'm downing my beer praying the alcohol will make it all better.  There are two scenes in this movie that just tear you up from the inside out.  Couldn't believe it.  Reduced to a blubbering mass by Disney AGAIN!  This time with Pixar's help!  Fuckers.

I could have tried tucking this little episode away as well but somebody, somewhere, at some point was going to say "Hey let's watch that movie Up!".  And people need to be warned.  So there it is.  My humiliation is now public.  I'm going away for a while.  There's a Male Ego Rehabilitation Center down in Toronto where they'll be trying to piece my pride back together for the next 3 to 4 months.  Wish me luck.  Be strong my friends.


Hate

Admittedly, I hate a lot of things and people but there's some pretty specific hate right here:

http://catbird.tumblr.com/post/216293561
http://www.flickr.com/groups/comicsans/pool/with/4088095214/
http://lmnop.blogs.com/lauren/2006/10/americas_most_f/comments/page/1/

Can't say I get that worked up about font selection.  But, rest assured, you would never see the Comic Sans on one of MY web sites!

Stupid Sexy George Ribs

A summer or two ago, some friends of mine hosted a barbecue down in fonthill.  This was one of those events where worlds collide.  Friends from her workplace are thrown up against the friends from his workplace and a great, dramatic, tension-filled, social experiment ensues.  One of the co-workers from her workplace showed up with some gelled up hair, shades, and some attire that could be described as a shade or two above casual.  He was soon dubbed as Stupid Sexy George by the male half of the hosting couple.  This, of course, is a reference to the classic Stupid Sexy Flanders quote from Homer Simpson.  But besides a certain flair, Stupid Sexy George also brought some game-changing ribs to the party.  These things were ridiculously good.  And he happily shared the recipe. 

My friends have made them on a couple other occasions and they were consistently, fall-off-the-bone, fantastic.  Finally got around to trying them on my own a couple months ago and they were a big disappointment.  I had missed some steps and didn't leave them in the oven long enough.  But yesterday I made my second attempt at Stupid Sexy George Ribs and everything came together perfectly.  Now that I know I can do them, I'm happy to share the recipe with any other rib fans out there:

For two full racks of Stupid Sexy George Ribs
  1. Cut the rib rack into 3-rib portions
  2. Season the ribs with salt and pepper
  3. Slice 6 medium onions and 6 medium apples (mandolins are handy for this step)
  4. Cover the bottom of a casserole tray with some of the onions and apples
  5. Next layer of rib sections
  6. Top with another layer of apples and onions
  7. If you have a deep casserole dish continue with alternating layers or repeat in a second dish
  8. Cover dish with aluminum foil and place in 275 degree oven for 3 hours
  9. Check that rib meat is in fact fall off the bone tender, then remove rib sections from dish
  10. The onion apple mush can be disposed of
  11. Cover rib sections with favourite barbecue sauce
  12. Preheat barbecue grill to Medium
  13. Once heated, rub grill with oil-soaked paper towel to prevent sticking
  14. Grill rib sections around 5 minutes a side and serve!
Thanks Stupid Sexy George!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Farewells

Something struck me as I was driving away from Haileybury after my last day of work.  Where was the booze?

I've always kind of been the guy in the office that drums people up for going out for some beers.  And especially when people I've worked with are leaving, I'll make the effort to send out some invites for a beer and bitch session before they leave.  But what I won't do is organize my own going away party.  Just seems egotistical.  So I watched with mild amusement as the days counted down with no mention of going out for beers.  There was a lunch (paid for by my Boart credit card) but that was it.  Meh.  Can't say I was disappointed, just confirmed that I worked with a bunch of mormons.

But what did bother me was that there was no departing gift.  For all the talk about how I was going to be missed, and how valuable I was, and how great I was to work with, all that didn't even warrant a "Good Luck Asshole" card.  Every Christmas I bought the guys that worked for me an LCBO gift card, enough to secure a decent bottle of scotch, out of my own pocket.  And for all the pain and agony I went through for that company and those people, I was kind of miffed that didn't drum up enough support for even a cheap bottle of scotch.

Ah well.  I know I'm being petty and self-pitying here.  Guess I was spoiled given the tremendous send off I got when leaving Deere.  Being clear of that train wreck should be it's own reward.  Onward and upward!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

2.5 Long Years

My two and a half long years with Boart are coming to an end tomorrow.  Man what a relief it will be to walk out of that building.  Never seen such blatant decisions to choose production over safety.  I’m really sorry that 20 years ago you used to be able to put people’s lives at risk in order to get a bigger bonus and now there are all these “rules” and “regulations” and “laws” getting in your way.  That’s terrible for you, really.  But I can’t look the other way for you and you are an asshole to even ask me to.  Ach.

Probably could have survived and kept plugging away and kept getting into fights if there’d been some kind of support system.  But here is the first time where I couldn’t look to somebody else in the engineering department for some like-minded viewpoints where we could both shake our heads at the situation and agree that whatever we were shaking our heads at fucking sucked.  I haven’t gotten along with EVERY engineer I’ve worked with but there was always at least one person in a group who was in sync with my bullshit meter and thought it was a great idea to go out for some beers after work to discuss the level of bullshit that had been gauged that day.  For fuck’s sake, the people in this group didn’t even really drink! 

And one guy, man.  This one guy could push me over the edge with a word.  Hated silence.  Killed silence with chatter.  Couldn’t walk to the printer without commenting on the state of our “paperless” society.  The chatter was incessant and it was an aggressive chatter.  He wouldn’t walk along and talk to himself.  He would stand outside your office and say something like “Well THIS is an interesting design!”.  And then wait for you to ask “What design is interesting?” which of course would be his invitation to enter your office and waste an hour of your time with whatever he’d printed off the internet.  I quickly learned to avoid these traps and more and more would let him make his comments and ignore him.  Holy fuck, if you want to talk to me then talk TO me not AROUND me.  And he didn’t know how to end a conversation once started.  He would just go on and on, drawing in different stories, related and unrelated, and eventually I would just have to leave the area.  It was ridiculous.  You know why we are so far behind our work load?  Because you are always TALKING not DOING!  And he’s always presuming things and stating why he thinks a person has done something.  He’s theories on my quitting have been very entertaining.  Yargh.

But it wasn’t all bad.  I did find fishing and one of the guys was an eager fishing buddy.  I actually had fun this summer.  And I’d purchased a snowmobile and was ready for some fun in the snow this winter.  But it was too little too late.  Not nearly enough for me to ignore an out when it presented itself.  So it’s hours from being over and then I can tuck this all away as a life experience.

Only 30 years until retirement….

Monday, 9 November 2009

Quitting … continued

One of the best parts about quitting is revealing the news to person after person each and every day.  Most conversations develop like this:

Some Jackass: “Okay, well I’ll forward that info on to you then.”

Me: “Actually next week is my last week”

SJ: “Oh….ummm.  What, you mean forever?”

Me: “Yes, I will no longer be with this company.”

SJ: “Oh…uhhhhh.  Who’s taking your place?”

Me: “No idea.  My boss would prefer to not get involved.”

SJ: “I…..see.  Well.  Um.  Good luck?”

Me: “Thanks!”

It’s very rewarding leaving people with the knowledge that they are dealing with a total cluster fuck of a company.

Foresight

Two and a half years ago, I moved to Haileybury.  During that time I never hung one picture and left many boxes packed away in the basement.  Some people may point out that this is a key indicator of my inherent laziness.  I choose to see it as evidence of my incredible intuition and vision.  So much time has been saved!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Construction Complete

My sled is back together.  As expected, deconstruction took half a day, putting it back together took two weeks.  I did have to wait a week for parts though and a couple more days were wasted waiting for the polaris dealer to open up again so I could return one of the wheels.  But it’s done.  I was warned it was going to be hell getting the track and suspension back together but it all went pretty smoothly with little blood loss or profanity.  Hopefully we get a foot of snow in the next week so I can try it out before moving down south.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Keys

I don’t like Future Shop.  Their inventory always seems a model year behind.  And they are staffed by high schoolers who don’t know half what they think they do.  They’ve had a history of strong arming people into extended warranties even though they’ve improved over the years. 

And their inventory is almost always locked away.  I don’t like talking to their staff.  I’ve done my research in advance so that I know I’m getting the right product.  I want to go in, pick up the product, pay for it, and be on my way.  No chit chat, no discussion, a cash transaction and we’re done.  But Future Shop doesn’t want me to shop that way.  They want their merchandise locked away so I have to talk to somebody who then has the opportunity to upsell me or hook me into one of those useless extended warranties.  Okay, not a really big deal given that they have to protect themselves against shoplifting and I’ll put up with a little banter for the instant gratification of picking up a product in store.  What I won’t put up with is waiting for somebody to find a key so that they can get the product I want to buy. 

For some reason, only a select few are worthy of carrying one of these magical keys.  And these people aren’t kept in seclusion or in the rafters to swoop in and unlock product on demand.  They are allowed to roam the aisles getting waylaid by customers who can’t be interrupted when other customers need those fucking keys.  And why isn’t the jackhole who I’m handing my credit card information over to not trustworthy enough to carry one of these keys?  Twice last weekend I was left waiting for keys and I walked.  Ended up at Best Buy, who are actually part of the same company as Future Shop, but miles apart in customer service. 

I know I’ll be back, the lure of gadgets is too strong, but next time I’ll be asking for a personal escort on my shopping expedition by one of the designated key-bearers.

Quitting

may_04_382kb_boart_longyear_logo_web

So I’ve gone and quit again.  It just keeps getting easier and easier.  I remember quitting my first job.  Man was I nervous.  Waited until the end of the day to get my supervisor alone and then I stuttered and stammered my way through my resigning.  The president came around a couple days later to ask why and I actually did a lot better with him than my supervisor. 

So off I went to Deere where I got jerked around in a contract never-never-land for 18 months.  I didn’t really quit that job but transferred to a full time position in a different department.  Lasted 5 years there which is the current record of employment for yours truly.  Quitting that job was actually pretty hard.  My supervisor was a friend of mine and I was working with some great people but I’d had enough of the Deere-speak and cleaning mouse balls and I had the sneaking suspicion that the plant wasn’t going to survive the surging Canadian dollar (I was a couple years off that prediction).  So, come the annual review, I went in, listened to my boss, listened to him give me a raise which he had to fight to get in a bad year for raises, and then I said I’d had enough.  I didn’t feel very good about it but I did give 8 weeks of notice as I didn’t really have anything else lined up.  Deere being Deere, the requisition for hiring a replacement wasn’t signed until 6 weeks later so wasn’t much chance for cross-training a replacement.  But I did leave some thorough documentation and everything was clearly labelled.  And walking out of there with my last box of possessions felt so very good.  So good.

After renovating my basement, selling my house, and a short stay with the parents, I ended up in Huntsville.  And that first day I realized I had made the biggest fucking mistake of my life.  The owner, president, chief engineer was obviously suffering from some form of bi-polar schizophrenia.  Seriously.  Two weeks in and I was firing off resumes like crazy.  6 months later and I was staying late again to have a one on one with the boss man.  This time, very easy, and I was relieved to pack up and head to Haileybury.

And that brought me here.  And here I stayed for 2 and a half years.  18 months ago most of the senior staff in our division high tailed it out to start their own companies.  And things just got worse with the downturn a year ago.  So I’d been keeping my eye open and sent out resumes here and there and finally got a bite.  Don’t know how things will work out down there but at least I’ll be close to friends and family again.  And better scotch selection.  And electronics retailers.  And 24 hour shopping choices.  Here’s hoping this one lasts.