Friday, November 30, 2012


This is a list of things that happened at my work this week:

  • A man whom I've worked with for over ten years got very sick and had to be taken to the hospital.
  • A woman whom I've worked with for around five years might be forced out of her job because of a jealous spouse's suspicion that she's having an affair with the man she works with.  I can absolutely guarantee that there is no affair happening.  It breaks my heart to see this poor woman in tears over the situation.  She's done nothing but an excellent job and is getting kicked in the teeth for her troubles.
  • A long-term employee was discovered to have done something sneaky and illegal, which will definitely require them to be canned.  Fortunately this is not my employee.  Unfortunately this is the employee of one of my best friends (another manager).
  • One of my favourite older guys in the organization (what a sweetie!) handed me his letter of resignation (he's retiring). I will miss him.
  • A piece of equipment in my computer server room exploded.  No exaggeration.
  • A computer virus infected our file server. 
These things are on top of all the ongoing drama: peoples' messy divorces going over various bumps in the road; other people's moderately concerning health problems causing worry; squabbles; miscommunications; new people settling in; new computer software settling in; and a quajillion other things that escape me at the moment.  *sigh* 

Today I worked from home.  Often working from home is relaxing.  I can make myself a nice, hot lunch from scratch, and I can take some extra-long breaks if there's nothing in my inbox.  Today the phone never stopped ringing and the e-mails never stopped flowing.  The only advantage to working from home is that I slept in 1.5 hours instead of spending 45 minutes commuting each way.

My work has a high ambient level of drama and disaster.  Usually I can roll with that and still maintain my good humour.  In fact, anything less and I might get bored.  But this week?  This week was off the charts.  The thing that really threw me was the explosion.

I was standing by someone's desk in conversation when we heard a very loud bang, almost like a gunshot, followed by a second, almost-as-loud bang.  I was mildly concerned, but upon looking around I didn't see any immediate disaster.  People in the area were muttering "What was that?", to which someone answered "Probably something fell over" and they all went back to work.  Then someone who'd been closer to the computer room came rushing in, talking very quickly and almost incoherently, followed by two more people who were both loudly proclaiming "Get Spark!  Get Spark! There's been an explosion!"


Since when did I become the resident expert on explosions?  Like any sane person, my instinct was to run away.  But I am a Leader, and Leaders have to be Responsible, so I put on my game face and marched towards the trouble.

There was definitely a bad, chemical, burning smell in the computer room.  Burning... was something on fire?  I went around behind the rack of computer equipment to assess the situation.  A couple of women were standing in the doorway shouting at me to get away from the computers in case there was another explosion, but I didn't see that I had much choice.  I had to determine whether or not I should pull the fire alarm and evacuate the premises.

I didn't see any signs of smoke or flames, so I immediately called my trusty computer consultant to evaluate the problem.  Their closest representative would take 40 minutes to get there.  I asked if I should shut down all the computer equipment, but everything seemed to be working normally so I was advised to just leave it running.  We proceeded as usual, except that every five minutes I ran back to the computer room just in case some smouldering embers had burst into open flames since I last checked.  It was a very unnerving interval.

It turns out that two of the batteries inside one of our uninterruptible power supplies had blown up. I guess battery acid corroded the casings and caused a short.  The technician said it was due to age.  (They were only three years old!)  When he pulled the metal housing out of the rack, a full hour after the explosions, it was still so hot that he couldn't touch it with his bare hands.  He found some rags in the cleaning closet to use as oven mitts.

Fortunately, although the soldered-on tops of the batteries had blown off, the external casing had contained the force of the blast, and no battery acid had spilled out.  It's a freaking miracle, in my opinion, that no one was hurt and no equipment was damaged other than the batteries themselves.  One of my employees was standing in the room when the explosions occurred.  She just about had herself a heart attack from the first sudden BANG!, but nothing that couldn't be put to rights with a glass of wine (or two, or three) that evening.  If you want, search up some images of "battery explosion" and you'll see how destructive such things can be.

I'd like to hold up a big, red STOP sign to keep any more disasters away, at least for a couple of days until I recuperate my emotional equilibrium.  There have been too many adventures in Sparkland this week.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Baby Spark

Hey look!  It's Baby Spark.  I'm on my grandmother's kitchen floor, with my friend Lemon Head.

You know you're old when: your diapers were fastened with actual metal pins.  So pointy and dangerous!  

Here I am crawling around in my grandmother's backyard.  My grandmother still lives in this house.  I visited her backyard a little while ago.  It was smaller than I remembered it.

Something in my smile in this photo looks very like me now.

Here I am in my parents' bedroom, holding my friend Floppy Kitten in one hand and a lens cap in the other.  

Look at these smooth, shiny golden ringlets!  How much do I wish that my hair still looked like this? Very much.  Nice 70's outfit, too, isn't it?  It's dated all the way down to the shag carpet.

I feel that I look very glamorous in this shot.  I have no idea where I am.  Looks like I'm in a horse-drawn carriage.  Did I perhaps go through a very early Hollywood starlet phase that I don't even remember?  And this was my starring role as a pioneer woman heading out to survive in the wilds of Saskatchewan?

Any pioneer woman worth the title would, of course, have badass riding skills.  As you can see I kicked it up a notch by riding a giraffe.

And that is pretty much all of the baby photos I have in my possession.  The rest of them, perhaps a few dozen, are probably in a box in my mother's basement, among all the other boxes she hasn't unpacked yet since her move in September 2011.  Floppy Kitten has gone missing, but I still have my friend Lemon Head.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Almond Joy

Today was a berry beautiful day.

I woke up early and jumped on the sleepy-guy train, heading downtown.

When I arrived at the mall, I found myself staring up at the rump of a ginormous reindeer.

There were more humungous reindeer further down the mezzanine.  Can you find all three in this picture?

I wandered around the shops, trying to find a gift for my work's Secret Santa exchange, but everything was too damn expensive.  I gave up and stopped in a cafĂ© for a cup of jasmine tea.  I wish this photo was scratch-n-sniff because the tea smelled heavenly.  I worried when I found something green in my chocolate cake slice, until I remembered that it was a chocolate zucchini loaf.

I coveted some crazy stockings.

Then, bored with shopping, I bought a package of raw, organic almonds and walked to Queen's Park to share them with the squirrels.

Queen's Park was abuzz with activity.  The CityTV crew was there, getting all their tech in place for tomorrow's Santa Claus parade.  A young beardo was walking around, carrying two huge, furry microphones, muttering numbers into them.  Employees with "Security" jackets stood around looking cold.

I found a bench and began handing out almonds.  I think I had around six squirrels in attendance, but it was difficult to tell them apart.  The most aggressive one was black with a white tip on his tail.  I kept trying to explain to him that I had plenty of nuts to go around, but he felt compelled to continually chase the other squirrels away.  As soon as he turned to chase another invader, the one he'd just dominated would sneak back to me.

It was interesting to see the squirrels' competing drives of hunger vs. fear.  When I held out a nut, some squirrels would run straight at me, and then, passing an invisible boundary, would, without slowing down, make a tight U-turn and run away again.  I had to pitch overhand to get nuts to my shyest customers.

Eventually I started getting cold and hungry.  I was down to the bottom of the bag.  I started eating the almonds myself.  The squirrels hung around, staring at me.  Finally a very energetic dog ran into the park, and started flipping out, like:


And that was pretty much the end of the nut party.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lost and Found

Here are a few disjointed thoughts about my week:

Work is making me loco in the coconut.  I have posted some of my exasperations on Twitter, if you're interested.

Hey, any creepy stalkers out there dying to know what my hair smells like?  It's your lucky day!  I recently discovered Nature's Gate Herbal shampoo and conditioner.  They both smell so deliciously spicy that I can't wait to jump into the shower every morning for my wake-up shot of aromatherapy.

Toronto is a big city.  Sometimes it's mean and coldhearted.  Up in my neighbourhood, near the city limits, people are decent enough to say "Good morning" and "Thank you" to the bus drivers.  Not so downtown.  The the closer to the financial district one travels, the less friendly the locals are.

I had a very pleasant spontaneous conversation with strangers yesterday, in the mid-town area.  I had stopped to visit a green conure parrot at the pet store.  Her name is Lula.  She's been there for a while.  She looks like this:

I was dangling my scarf over the cage and she was trying to bite it.  This is a game that she seems to enjoy.  A woman who looked to be in her early 70's came over and began to chat with me about Lula.

It was nothing special, just remarking on how smart birds can be, and how pretty Lula is.  We had been conversing for a few minutes when a middle-aged man eating a cup of frozen yogurt wandered over and joined us.  He had once had a pet green-cheeked conure.  He said his bird had been very clever and affectionate.  The bird could speak with an impressive vocabulary.  The man did not have his bird's wings clipped because he felt that it was cruel.  Unfortunately he then took his pet outside, and the bird immediately flew away, never to be seen again.

Shortly after that we all said our Good Evenings and went our separate ways, but I was struck by how unusual it was to have made friends while out on the town. I wish that it could happen more often.

And finally, DarcsFalcon encouraged me to post a photo of my new and improved size 3 butt.  I can't disappoint my fans, so here it is:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Personal Growth

I've put on a few pounds in the past year.

This is a good thing.

A year ago, after my illness, I was a real scrawny chicken.  My butt had gone missing.  My face was kind of pointed and weaselly.  I've always been an ectomorph, but this was a step too far.

I worked diligently at gaining weight.  I started eating an Mbar at snack time daily.  These energy bars boast 380 calories per serving.  (They're also delicious.  I recommend Cherry Chocolate and Pineapple Coconut.)

I gained back all the weight I'd lost, and a few pounds more.  I'm as well-padded as I've ever been, and despite the inconvenience of growing out of my pants, I'm happy about it.  I'm definitely still thin, but no longer scrawny.  People have been telling me that my face has filled out pleasantly.  Also, my butt grew back.

I actually feel warmer.  True fact: fat really does act as insulation!  I'm much more comfortable with a little cushion against the cold.

Up until last week I was squeezing into my old pants, but I finally couldn't take it anymore.  I ran out on Friday for an emergency larger-pants purchase.  I bought 3 pairs at a store where I've never been able to buy pants before, because their smallest size was too big for me.  Now it's just right.

The new pants are at the shop being hemmed.  Until then I'm wearing only my pants that contain at least 3% Spandex.  Thank heaven for a little give.