Friday, September 28, 2007

Scott The Lonely Goatherd

Ever since Scott was born, he has wanted to stand. He loves to arch his back and stiffen his legs. After just a few weeks he was hardly happy unless he was standing on something. The boy just loves to stand.

Now I think he only wanted to stand up so that he could dance.

We borrowed a Jolly Jumper from R's sister and tried it out this week. The first time, Scott didn't know what to do, so he just stood there with stiffened legs and fussed. After some coaxing, he's learned to bend his knees and bob around a bit. It wasn't long before the boy was dancing the jig. His gravity-defying dance moves reminded me of a scene from "The Sound of Music":

He's a very talented young man.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Goodbye Truck, Welcome Wagon

We put the truck up for sale tonight, with some sadness. Hopefully, it will sell quickly and we won't have to draw out our goodbyes. We finally peeled off all the lettering from the side (man was there a lot of it!) and it looks so fresh and clean. Oh, the memories.

The Welcome Wagon lady came to visit today while I was at school. R reported that she was somewhat forceful, but still quite pleasant. Our previous experience with the Welcome Wagon was not so good. A lady showed up at our house late one evening, nearly a year after we'd moved in, and gave us a bunch of expired coupons and an outdated Sears catalogue. When I didn't want to give her our phone number, she balked and said, "If you don't fill out the form, I don't get paid!" I thought it was all a little sketchy, and it made me feel exploited more than it made me feel welcome.

Cross your fingers that this truck sells quickly. The out-of-province inspection we did is only good for 14 days.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Healthy: Code For Chubby

When people meet our baby Scott for the first time, frequently they say that he looks "healthy". By this they mean that he's a bit on the chubby side. He's got full, rosy cheeks. He's also got dimples in his elbows and his knees, and plenty of rolls on his legs and arms. From what we can tell, he's pretty average for height and weight, so he's hardly a monster. I guess he's just healthy-looking.

If a slightly chubby baby is "healthy", what do you call a really chubby baby?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Rubber Chicken Circuit

Have you ever heard of the Rubber Chicken Circuit?

That's what my father-in-law calls the endless stream of formal dinner engagements that have been his life for the last 10 years as a politician. When they need to serve dinner to several hundred people all at the same time, they usually dish out reheated chicken breast. By the time it's been cooked, packed up, transported, reheated and served, it's pretty rubbery.

I was on the circuit a bit this week, but on a smaller scale. A lot of the big banks come on campus to recruit pretty early in the school year -- actually, it gets earlier and earlier each year. They're looking to hire graduates, but we first-year MBAs go out to shake hands and talk about summer positions. It's pretty low-stress for us, since they don't even think about hiring for summer jobs until December or January. We try to chat with a few people, and we try to get as much chicken as we can.

I've been to three of these events so far: Scotia Capital, RBC Capital Markets, and CIBC World Markets. Each event was catered, and each event had technical problems with their PowerPoint presentations. Scotia couldn't play their DVD, RBC couldn't get the projector to work, and CIBC showed a video with no voice track -- just the background music, which was some funky beats and the sound of water. In one instance, the chicken was served on a stick.

Things are never dull on the rubber chicken circuit.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Big Pay Back

Five months and 12,283 visitors later, this blog is now on the brink of its first big paycheck from Google.

Google does not write you a check until you reach a certain amount ($100). We are now only $1.60 away, and we average about 50 cents per day, so we'll hit the magic $100 mark this week, and then we can sit back and enjoy our new wealth.

The earnings may not be that lucrative, but the work is more enjoyable than moving hens from one henhouse to another.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Dark Knight

I'm pretty sure my son is Batman. I have several reasons to think so, including this telling photograph:

Aside from wearing a dark hooded cape, we've also noticed a trend towards nocturnal activity. Scott used to go to bed quite readily at 8 or 9pm each evening, but lately he has fought off the sandman like a true superhero. He fusses and screams until he's hoarse and coughing (thanks to the recent cold and post-nasal drip), and then the coughing keeps him awake even longer and makes him even more ornery.

I've seen the latest Batman movie, and I thought Batman was kind of grumpy at night too. Can you see the parallels?

But, just like any good superhero, Scott manages to sustain another identity during the day. Every morning he reverts back to the smiling and laughing little cherub that melts our hearts.

Criminals of Gotham/Calgary, beware.

Friday, September 14, 2007


I missed the date by two days, but I would like to point out a landmark of sorts: This blog is now one year old.

I started it at 1:00am on September 12, 2006 and I've put out 279 posts since then (including this one). Now that so much has been going on, the pace has slowed somewhat, but it won't dry up entirely. I've got too much time invested in this thing to just let it stop.

Landmark #2: R has arranged for her first singing student since we moved here. That means that we'll have to get some more of the boxes out of the living room, I guess. Even still, we're not really sure where to put a piano -- either stacked on top of one of the couches, or maybe hanging from one of the walls like a painting.

Landmark #3: I went to my first information session on campus last night. Scotia Capital came out and made a recruiting presentation. I was the only person from my first-year MBA class to show up -- it was mostly fourth-year BComm students in attendance. Because I came early, I happened to be the first student to arrive. They all descended on me -- not just for my magnetic personality, though. Apparently, they had a DVD to show, but the laptop they brought didn't have a DVD drive. I ended up saving the day. That's the kind of first impression you just can't plan.

There's probably some more stuff going on that deserves mention, but I need to save something for post #280.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Holy Croup

Labour Day Weekend we all got sick. Everybody. It was miserable.

I got over it within two or three days, but it has lingered much longer for Scott and R. In fact, we're pretty sure Scott has bronchitis, which has possible brought on the symptoms of croup -- a narrowing of the upper airway caused by inflammation associated with bronchitis. The description sounds terrible, but it mostly means that Scott has been coughing a lot.

The coughing has been interfering with his sleep, which was already problematic since the move. Often, he will be almost asleep and suddenly he will have a little coughing fit and wake up again.

It's hard on him and and it's hard on us -- on R mostly. Since I've just gone back to school, she takes the brunt of it. Unfortunately, she's been feeling pretty rotten herself. She is finally getting over her own cough, and she still isn't 100 percent recovered from the delivery.

We managed to find a doctor, thanks only to personal connections, and they are both heading in there next week for a "meet and greet". In the meantime, there isn't a lot of sleeping going on.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Kyle, Gavin and Marco Polo

There are three boys in our neighbourhood whom I know by name, even though I've never met them or even seen them before. They are Kyle, Gavin and Marco. I'm pretty sure Kyle and Gavin are brothers, but I don't know if Marco has any siblings. If he does, they are not nearly so adventurous as he is.

I have spent a lot of time working on the basement with the door open to the back yard, and I have heard Kyle and Gavin's parents calling after them plenty. From what I understand, Gavin likes to ride his bike farther than he is supposed to, and his parents don't like it. Several times each day he rides past some boundary and they yell out something like, "Gav-in! Come back here! Do you want to be grounded off that bike?!" Kyle behaves much the same way, so his parents often call out both their names.

I always chuckle when Marco's parents come looking for him. The air is punctuated by periodic shouts of "Marco!" You half expect another voice to shout back "Polo!"

I know I've been tempted to do it.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Big Barrel Race

The rodeo is an essential part of any MBA degree. At least, that is what I assume from my own experience.

On Friday, we had a "team building" activity at the Rafter 6 Ranch in the foothills west of Calgary. While the rain poured down on us, we stood on bleachers in bright yellow rain slickers and cheered our classmates in various equestrian events. I took part in a barrel race, where I had to ride a white horse named Merlin around a triangle of barrels. My time was not enough to win, mainly because I couldn't figure out how to kick Merlin hard enough to get him to move. My team was very supportive of me, despite my loss.

We went out Saturday to support R's dad as he officially withdrew from Alberta provincial politics, after serving three successful terms (beginning in 1997). I managed to get a little bit of his announcement on film, before he called the family to come up to the front and stand with him:

Here's a picture of us all standing together during his speech.

And one of R and Scott looking cute.

Speaking of Scott, he's such a hoot to play with these days. He's really started to laugh and giggle. Unfortunately, he usually stops as soon as I get out the camera. I put together two mildly successful clips of him laughing with his mom as they play together.

We have to keep these great moments in our minds when he stays up screaming for an hour or two instead of going down to sleep for the night (which he has taken to doing since we arrived in Calgary).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Ethics of Dishwashers

Today (day 2 of MBA Orientation Week) we had a one hour introduction to business ethics from one of the professors. Of course it was fascinating.

Meanwhile, on the home front, R used our dishwasher for the first time. She said it felt like cheating. You see, we haven't had a dishwasher since mid-2002. I don't think dishwashers will come up in any of our ethics courses.

It's nice to have a few timesavers around, since Scott has been quite fussy lately. We attribute it partially to the disruptions of changing routines and environments, and partially to his first cold. R and I came down ill on the weekend, and it seemed to be only a matter of time before Scott caught it too. His little coughs and sneezes are sad, but cute. We've had to wipe his nose for the first time -- something that he doesn't like very much.

I'm feeling much better now, and it seems that R and Scott have also turned the corner on this cold, so things are looking up... and ethical.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Life Is Better In Alberta

As part of their ongoing efforts to purge the house of unneeded items (in preparation for their upcoming move), my in-laws assembled a large pile to take to the second-hand store. Before jettisoning these priceless treasures, they first gave all of their kids a chance to rifle through the collection for anything we might want. I passed on the white cowboy hat and the purple sunglasses, but I decided to keep the shirt that says "Life Is Better In Alberta".

I passed on this scooter, but I kept the blue shirt that I'm wearing in the picture. On the back, in big white letters, it says "Alberta Seniors & Community Supports". My little niece didn't pick up the scooter either. The last t-shirt I got is orange and says "Count Me In -- I'm In With Jim". It's a campaign t-shirt for a guy who lost the recent leadership race to be the new Premier of Alberta. Can you tell I'm related to an Alberta politician?

We had a surprise visit from fellow blogger and longtime associate, T. You may recall her from a posting I made about baby pictures, where I inferred that she doesn't like babies. This caused her some social discomfort, so I was glad to include this un-staged photograph of all the babies enjoying themselves in T's lap. They seem drawn to her. It's really magical.

That all happened two days ago. Today was the first day of school for me. I had a half-day as part of orientation week in the MBA program at the University of Calgary. They provided us with sandwiches, drinks, t-shirts and chapstick (Tangerine flavour). I will spend nearly every day in this same room with these same 30 people for the next two years. At least we won't have to worry about chapped lips -- at least until the tangerine wears out.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Basement Is Finished

After three hard weeks of renovations, the house is finally finished. In response to abnormally high call volumes, I have agreed to provide some photos of the work that we did. Mostly, I have pictures of the basement, since the upstairs is still in total disarray. This basement is also where the changes were most dramatic, especially the new kitchen. Here is the kitchen in various stages:




We are quite pleased with the way things turned out. Most of all, we are pleased that it is over. The whole clan managed to get sick the last few days, so we all collapsed this weekend. It's nice to think that tomorrow we can focus on unpacking boxes instead of plumbing and drywall.