Tuesday, December 21, 2004

This week I'm writing a couple of papers for work, and between paragraphs I'm decompressing with Manolo's Shoe Blog. This man has managed to tap into the deepest reaches of my soul. At last, a guy who shares and experiences the elation associated with great shoes! And furthermore, The fashion mania for the poncho, It was over before it started. I will say the same about sherpa boots. Hello, can you spell cankles?? eewe. The Manolo might disagree with me there, but I'm holding to my guns on this one. Single Season Fizzle.

In honor of my new superhero, I thought I'd share with you my latest Loves, Likes, Laughs and Hates from Nordstrom. And from the "Retro space boots are all the rage"-is-just-evidence-of-the-decline-of-civilization category, we have these shoes.

Taryn Rose shoes are hit or miss, but I like the idea. Someday I will own a pair. For now, I choose to eat and pay my electric bill. But I'm saving pennies.

On a more significant note, today is SNG's birthday!! Happy birthday SNG! You are my favorite anything anywhere, and I'd still rather spend a Friday night wandering the grocery store with you than doing something superfabulous without you. I *heart* you more than chocolate!

Tonight we're taking SNG for a bowling pizza party, in the honored tradition of birthday food-and-fake-sport. We've had bowling, laser-tag, mini golf, and billiards. We've had BBQ, "pizza", pizza, and pizza. One of these months someone has got to choose darts as the fake sport. And soup.

The bowling alley is cool because it's old, and mildewey, and you have to hand-score. Why is this cool, you ask? Because it's never too crowded, no one takes bowling too seriously, and the guy doesn't charge you for "practice" frames, "warm-up" frames, or "cool-down" frames. I like that. Over the weekend we did find a closer, fancier bowling alley that has electronic scoring, clean tables, and it even has automatic bumpers! So if player A wants bumpers, and Player B does not, then whenever it is player A's turn, the bumpers just Magically Appear!!! And then, when it's B's turn, they Magically Disappear!!! Like MAGIC! But there are Serious Bowlers there, so you have to go at odd times to avoid the league players making fun of your bumper-tastic action.

But we're going to the old bowling alley tonight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Last 2 Business Trips of the Year, Part 2

So this week I'm in Toronto. It hasn't really snowed since I've been here (got in Sunday), but there have been little dry flakes of snow flying around much of the time. From the window of the 22nd floor the updrafts send them circulating around and they never quite reach the ground below. It is very cold. The other night is was -12C and windy. I don't know what that is in "real" temperature, but I know that it is very very very very cold.

Monday night I got to experience genuine local culture- I went to an amateur hockey match!! It was great fun. EVERYONE plays hockey. I can't even come up with an analogy in the US- bigger than basketball or football. Co-ed teams. Old guys, young folks (didn't see any old ladies playing, but I'm sure they're here somewhere). Thousands of ice rinks in one city. Constant drone of zambonis in the distance.

The game I saw was the team of a colleague of mine from the Toronto office. He invited me to his family's house for pakistani take-out dinner, and then to the game. I watched with one of the wives od another player. She told me all about how the US tarrifs on Canadian soft wood is putting mills out of business and wrecking local economies. Ironically, it's the big-box US companies like Home Depot who are trying to come to Canada's rescue-- because Canadian wood should be cheaper than US wood. This was all neat stuff that I didn't know about. So I go back and call Tony to tell him all about what the US is doing to Canadian wood exporters, and guess what? He Already Knows. Gr. How do I miss this stuff?

Anyway, so the pakistani food was fabulous, the company was terrific, and the game was a hoot. It was a rink with no stands, so we got to stand by the team's bench. I never realized how loud a hockey match is up-close. Guys yelling, the loud CLACK of the gate opening to let players on and off the ice, the BUUUUUUZZZZZZ at the end of each period. No wonder there are so many hockey fights- all the stimuli are designed to rouse up as much SNS activity as possible. So much teststerone, you could smell it.

Unfortunately, there were no bloody fights. No teeth strewn on the ice. A few people got penalties for being rude and one guy (from the "other" team) tried to pick a fight after the game- which I didn't see. I'll have to go to more games to see real scary action.

Last night I did some shopping-- pumped a few wrinkly, heaving & sweating US dollars into the local economy and got a few Christmas gifts. Everyone likes stuff with red maple leaves on it, right? 'Cause that's what you're getting. Red maple leaves. So if anyone leaves the country they can pretend to be Canadian to avoid the humiliation of being mistaken for one of those Americans that voted for Bush.

But you wouldnt do that, would you??

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Last 2 Business Trips of the Year!
Last week I was in Austin and had a terrific time. I saw old friends, new babies (well, only 1 baby, really) and got to go biking with SpiderStan. Which was cool. Mom made a pilates certification video at her (used-to-be-before-it-went-bankrupt) gym and that was also fun. I was sad to leave.
While there I taught a 2-day class which was a mixture of how-to with some software, basic statistics review, and advanced statistical topics overview. The basic stats review wasn't deep enough for someone without a stat background to grasp, and it was just plain boring for people with a stat background. The How-To was most useful for people with no background at all, and the advanced topics overview was only useful for statisticians. So who was in the class?? 20 people, 5 or 6 with strong statistical backgrounds, about 10 who had seen our software before and fancied themselves statisticians but didn't understand the basic review material, and another 4 or 5 who I'm pretty sure usually sweep the parking lot or run errands or do stuff in Excel. Almost every single person in the class said, on the evals, something like

Great class, but it would be a good idea for you to discuss the level of the class and the students ahead of time-- try not to mix so many different levels of experience for a single class-- this should be split into 2 classes, one basic and one advanced. You should pre-screen the students...

ummmmmmmmmm yeah. We did that. We do that every time. The person who arranged your training for you specifically said that the trainig would have to cover basic, intermediate and advanced topics to suit everyone, and it was OK with them if at any given time, SOMEONE in the class was banging their heads against the keyboard because of boredom or frustration. Do you now that this is the rule, not the exception? WHY? Because no one believes that we, the people who provide the training, who do it for a living, who see this kind of thing ALL THE TIME, would know what is best for their employees, because, well, THEIR employees are DIFFERENT. Ha. Nope, your employees are no different than anyone else's.

Other than that, though, the students did seem to all take away something from the class that they could use. Which was nice. And I got an excellent free trip to Austin out of the deal.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Thanksgiving was fun. Ate too much, went shopping, did some yardwork. That's about all there is to tell. It's now past the grace-period for this to be a "post-Thanksgiving wrap up" post, but, meh!

Tomorrow I'll be leaving for Austin to teach a class Mon and Tue next week. SNG will be going to his office Christmas party without me Friday night. He'll have more fun this way- I'm always a wet blanket of a date at that event. I'll either be going to the San Antonio Wheelmen's Christmas party or hanging out with an old friend from grad school or hanging out with my brother this weekend.

Last night a municipal deer brigade tromped through the front yard making the dogs blind with madness, frothy and squeaky. Their eyes rolled in ecstacy as they stood watching from the front door. They ran up and down the stairs hoping to wear a hole through the wall that would let them out to chase the deer. Then they both ended up confined to the closet under the stairs in darkness for about 5 minutes while they shook off the hysteria.

They are currently getting turkey-shaped cookies that Dianaverse made for them. They smell good enough that I almost want to eat them myself. Perhaps it's the diet talking, but peanut butter *and* chicken broth? Drrrroooooool.

SNG is learning french! We're doing lessons in the kitchen. He has all the subject pronouns, the verb for To Be, definite and indefinite articles, and posessive modifiers. And a handful of nouns. So now he can tell you things like,

Ils sont mes parents.

Nous sommes les chiens.

Je suis un carafe d'eau.


Just ask him - he'll say all kinds of amazing things!