Sunday, July 31, 2016


Since my step-dad retired and my new boss took over, things at work have been hectic.  My boss's boss, the owner of several successful businesses, has eleventy-jillion ideas to improve the place, and he would like them all done by the day before yesterday.  I believe that some of them are real improvements, and others not so much, but I'm throwing myself into each project with 100% genuine effort.  I've already been accused once of being "obstructionist" because I voiced some doubt about one of the ideas, so from now on I'll be doing whatever they ask for as quickly as it can reasonably be accomplished, without editorializing.

The politics of the office are still simmering.  Because we offer services to professionals, we need to have one representative of that type of professional on the management team.  Only one guy in the whole company was willing to sit in that hot seat.  Everyone else thought it would be more trouble than it was worth, and they might have been right.

The lead professional and the new owner are at odds.  Mr. Professional feels that he knows what's best for the business; so does Mr. Owner, and of course they disagree.  Mr. Professional says "My reputation is on the line!" and Mr. Owner says "It's my business; I'll do what I want to do with it."  Mr. Professional keeps threatening to quit if Mr. Owner proceeds with his "reckless" plans, and Mr. Owner can't run the business without a Mr. Professional.

Therefore, it shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone when suddenly Mr. Professional the 2nd appeared on the scene.  Mr. Owner hired him as an "assistant" to the original Mr. Professional, but we all know that Mr. P1 isn't in need of that type assistance. Mr. P2 is there as a spare, so that if Mr. P1 quits, the business can just swap in Mr. P2 and keep rolling.

The introduction of Mr. P2 was dramatic.  We were gathered for a regular management team meeting.  Everyone who was expected at the meeting was already present when, suddenly, the door was flung open and in swept Mr. Owner with his entourage.  He introduced Mr. P2 to everyone and then sat down and made a long speech about how successful the company was going to be.  We listened and nodded obediently in all the right places.

I kept stealing glances at Mr. P1, who I knew would be extremely upset by this turn of events.  No one consulted him before hiring his new "assistant".  His face was red.  I was waiting for a SPLAT sound and the feeling of warm bits on my cheek, because I thought his head might explode.

In the end, everyone accepted the idea... because what else could we do?  Mr. P2 has been nice to everyone so far, and actually he hasn't been around that much, so no one can accuse him of interfering where he's not wanted.  I believe that he's been brought in partly to diffuse the threat of Mr. P1 quitting, and party because of his professional connections.

So, I have one more new boss.  How do I feel about it?  Fine, I guess.  Throw him on the pile!  I have so many bosses now that it's a bit ridiculous, but whatever Mr. Owner wants is okay with me, as long as I get to keep my job and he can keep the bosses (4 at last count, or 5 if you also count Mr. Owner) from delivering conflicting instructions to me.  Oh well.  Never a dull day!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Context is everything

There's an old Jewish story about a man who has 12 children and a wife and they all live together in a tiny house.  The man goes to his rabbi and says "I can't take it anymore!  My house is too noisy and chaotic!  I'm going to have a nervous breakdown!  You have to help me!"

The rabbi asks the man if he has chickens.  The man says that of course he has chickens; he raises them for eggs and meat.  The rabbi tells him to bring the chickens inside the house to live with the family.  The man says "Really?  Are you sure?  Because we're already pretty crowded in there."  The rabbi says "Trust me".  So the man brings his chickens into the house.

The next week, the man goes back to the rabbi with the same complaint.  "My 12 kids make an enormous uproar, and now the chickens are squawking and pooping every where and the feathers are getting into everything.  It's much worse!"  The rabbi asks the man if he has a cow.  The man says yes, he keeps a cow for milk.  So the rabbi advises him to bring the cow into the house.

And so on and so forth, for several weeks, until the man is living with his in-laws, his neighbours, several dogs and cats, etc.  Finally, the rabbi tells him to kick everyone out of the house except for his wife and the 12 children.  The following week, the man goes back to the rabbi and says "Thank you so much!  My house is so quiet and peaceful now.  It's so roomy with only 14 of us living there, and so quiet without the animals.  How can I thank you?"

And that is how my sclerotherapy treatments are going.  I am at the stage where I have just brought all the stray dogs in the neighbourhood to move in, or, in non-symbolic language, my legs are covered in fresh bruises and bruises in various stages of aging and fading.  The spider veins that prompted me to seek treatment in the first place are all still present and accounted for.  The doctor keeps telling me that we have to work from the biggest "feeder" veins down towards the small ones, or the small ones will regenerate that much more quickly over time.

My legs look like they've taken a beating (they have) and I knew this would be the case.  I knew I would look worse before I looked better.   After four treatments, all I can find comfort in is that most of the bruises fade from dark purple to yucky yellow pretty quickly. My legs better look hecking fabulous when all this is over!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hypo-allergenic Cats

Things have been a mite stressful in Sparkland this summer.  What with Bubbe's passing, the major and ongoing changes to my workplace, and my medical adventures, I've been feeling somewhat overwhelmed.

How am I coping?  Not badly, I think.  I've got a new addiction to lean on.  Not to worry: it's not cigarettes or heroin.  I'm a little late to the party, but, for the first time in my life, I'm soothing myself with video games.

It started with Candy Crush, the matching game, as a tool to help me get through sclerotherapy procedures.  It's a potent distraction.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed playing.  I've gotten all the way to level 96.  The only thing that doesn't quite seem right to me is that, in the game, chocolate is my enemy.  I am willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to gathering candy to help a crash-landed alien or a sad unicorn, but don't ask me to believe that chocolate is a malign force.  That I cannot do.

A friend introduced me to Triple Town, a different type of matching game, in which you build a village from the grass all the way up to giant mansions, while being attacked by cute but angry bears. That one's pretty good too.  It got me through my most recent appointment very effectively.

My favourite, though, is Neko Atsume, a "cat collecting game".  It's not a typical game, in the sense that it doesn't require sustained attention.  You start with a yard, stock it with cat toys and comfy places to nap, and then check the app every 15 minutes or more (usually more) to see which cats have shown up.  As long as you keep the food bowl filled, you'll be assured of kitty visitors.  This is what my yard looks like right now:

The long-term goal is to meet all the different cats in the game and snap photos of them for your collection.  Some are rare.  Some need to be attracted by special accessories, which you purchase with fish that the cats leave for you once they are done enjoying their treats.  For example, that cowboy hat.  Some cats have worn it, but it hides their entire head and looks very silly.  However, "Willie the Kid" has visited, and that hat fits him perfectly.  Sadly, I didn't manage to see him; I only know he was there because he left me some fish.  All I can do is leave the hat out and keep my fingers crossed that he'll come back again.

This game is great because it's a simple, reliable source of delightful surprises.  I can check it in between the endless series of annoyances at work, and it always makes me feel better.  It's also free, although you can make in-app purchases if you aren't patient enough to wait days to accumulate the fish you need to buy that giant-cat-condo-scratching-post, or whatever it is in the shop that you're excited about.  A dollar and change will buy you a whack-load of fish.  I'm thinking of buying some because the makers of this game deserve a reward for being awesome.

Are you a phone gamer?  What's your favourite game?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mini Vacation

Look, a sculpture garden!  

If you click to see the hi-resolution version of this photo, you might recognize that these long-legged lads are made from G.I. Joe action figures.

I was out in Wellington County with my Dad and Step-mom.  This sculpture garden was adjacent to a fancy-pants art gallery, but we didn't go inside.  There was enough to see in the garden.

We couldn't figure out what was going on with this guy.  He must have an interesting backstory.

This is a mechanical loudspeaker; it says "SHOUT" on the side.  You speak into the mouth part, and then someone else is supposed to go way over there to listen through the red ear. (You can see it in the distance above, and close up below.)

It works remarkably well.  A whisper is clearly audible.

More G.I. Joe guys doing acrobatic stunts.

The day after the sculpture garden visit, we went on a short sight-seeing cruise.  This sign was in the washroom by the ticket office.

I guess they get a lot of Asian visitors who are used to squat toilets.  I have never seen a sign like this before!

There were quite a few large buses, or motor coaches, in the parking lot by the dock.  The narrow road carried on past the driveway, marked with this warning:

We took a walk further along to see if we might discover a graveyard of abandoned buses.  However, the friendly local residents were so open to chatting that by the time we had to turn around and head back to make our departure time, we hadn't gotten very far.

Here are my Step-mom and Dad enjoying the view from the boat.  I didn't take any photos of the view because I (correctly) assumed that there would be dozens available online.  Here's a stolen photo (source) of my favourite part: the world's shortest international bridge.

The big island on the left is Canadian territory, and the little island on the right belongs to the U.S. of A.  I don't know whose idea it was to draw the international boundary in between the two, or why it was done, but it's one of those things that everyone feels they need to take a photo of.  (Except me because I'm clever and lazy. ;-)  If you click on the photo to get the biggest view, you'll be able to spot a Canadian flag on the left side of the bridge and the Stars and Stripes on the right.

Anyway, it was nice to get away from work and the city for a few days and hang out with my family. Those are pretty much the highlights of my trip.  Oh, we also visited an alpaca farm, but the alpacas were all hanging out far away from the fence, in the shade, because it was such a hot day.  So I didn't get any cute alpaca photos.  

Here, just so that you don't feel deprived:

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Canada Day at the Farmhouse

Ken and I have new friends who rent a 90-year-old farmhouse on the outskirts of Mississauga.  (It's the white building on the left.)

They invited us and a bunch of other people for a Canada Day BBQ and sleepover.  They're in a community of classic car fanciers, so the parking lot was interesting.

See those clouds in the distance?  By dinnertime they were blowing straight towards us on a chilly wind.  We were sure there would be a thunderous downpour.  But they just blew on past.

 It was one of those potlucks where everyone brings a ridiculous amount of delicious food.  In other words, my favourite type of potluck.  Our hostess provided watermelon punch served straight from the rind.  Isn't that neat?  She's a professional artist, among other things.

Here's the farmhouse kitty.  She wants your attention until she has it.  Then she's shy and runs away.  If you don't try to follow her, she comes back and meows at you.

Movie posters in the kitchen.  Do you think I can find these on iTunes?  They look pretty great.

 Although everyone who came to the party had the option of staying over, most went home.  Those who did stay were originally planning to camp on the lawn, but it was too cold and windy.  (By the end of the evening I had borrowed a down-filled jacket from the hostess.  A down jacket!  On July 1st!  That's Canada for you.)  Fortunately there was enough room inside for everyone to bed down in the guest room, on living room couches, and in the sunroom on an air mattress.

There was a good party going on that night.  Folks were getting their drink on, and there was uninhibited whooping around the fire pit when the fireworks were set off.  

However, amazingly, when I came downstairs in the morning there wasn't a sign of any mess from the night before.  Everything had been tidied up, and, not only that, the table was set for breakfast.  Impressive!

I had thought that we would pack up, move out, and grab breakfast at a diner on the way home, but our hosts were having none of that.  We sat down to scrambled eggs, back bacon, hash browns, and also dug into the leftover cheese tray and veggie sticks from the party.  I even managed to find a red-and-white iced cupcake for dessert.  Breakfast dessert.  Because YOLO, right?

I hope all my fellow Canadians celebrated in equal style, and I wish you 'Mericans a super-great 4th of July!