Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Difference

Working downtown you get used to seeing two main types of people - the homeless, and office workers.  So far the office workers outnumber the other kind, but it seems to be shifting as time goes on...  Generally you can tell which type someone is by the building pass they had strapped to their waist or worn around their neck.

Recently though a few post-secondary institutions, such as the University of Alberta, have opened locations downtown.  Now we've got a load of younger scruffy types with no building passes.  However are we going to tell them apart from the homeless?

I noticed something else - you can subtly tell the difference between types of people by what they have on themselves.  If they are using or carrying a mobile phone they are probably not homeless.  If they have headphones on, they are probably not homeless.  A lot of student-types have mp3 players!  Not many homeless people have them!

Finally, a way to tell the great unwashed apart from the homeless.  Welcome back to school.  :)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

How Ducks Must Feel

I got soaked last night.

We were watching Richard III at Shakespeare In The Park, sitting on a park bench at the back with all our gear in front of us. Radios, Oxygen Bag, Trauma Bag, Defibrillator, our bags, the usual gear. I didn't bring an ambulance this time to save on all the hassle of picking one up.

Then the thunder and lightning started. No rain. Each flash was bright, each crack was loud. We eventually turned around and watched it rather than the play.

Next we saw two freaky cloud formations swirl towards us, from the South and South West. They seemed to be UNDER the thunderheads. Then the wind picked up. Then the wind REALLY picked up. It was blowing the mesh curtains at the back of the stage around. Finally it knocked an actors hat off. They announced a break and told all the actors to head under the stage.

Then the rain started. Wow. So much rain. We ran to cover, grabbing as much of our stuff as we could. We threw the gear under an overhang but the wind was blowing the rain into the amphitheater so we moved deeper in. The rain then turned to hail. I put my partner into my car and turned back to deal with the situation. This way, at least only one of us would be wet.

Everyone was fully under the huge amphitheater awning now. Many were standing on the stage. The staff had pulled open all the drains and were sweeping as much of the torrents of water into them as possible. The noise was insane, and the hail was falling directly on all of our stuff. As I looked up I also realised the downpour was hitting the roof and sliding to the edge until it built up critical mass, then it would fall down in sheets. I had to go under this to get the gear, and each time I did it was like stepping into a shower of ice pellets. Mainly because it was a shower of ice pellets.

I managed to grab everything, including our hi-vis vests. It took about five trips, the last one to grab my partners cell phone which was covered with hail and rain - and still works! After that, I shook myself off and made sure everyone was okay by patrolling around the edges of the auditorium.

A little while later it stopped and the skies were blue. Everything started steaming slightly, including me. The staff swished out the last of the hail and water, and started wiping down the stage. Everyone moved back to their seats - but some went home as they were so wet.

I made sure my partner was okay and sat in the car to warm up for a bit. Soon the windows were steamed up. When I got out to look around, there was steam everywhere - a fog had risen from the ground across the lake, and all the open grass areas. The twilight was shrouded in mist, but the sky was as clear as can be.

We eventually left at around 11. I had started to shiver by then and needed a warm shower. Every part of me was soaked. We drove once around the park to look at the mist swirling around then drove up out of the river valley and into clear night-scented air.

This morning I checked my wallet and all my cash is soggy. What an awesome night!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Poking Sticks

I was at an Oilers game the other day and we were talking about how many ambulance calls are for people in the street, not moving, possibly dead. No one ever tries to wake them up, and they generally end up as intoxicated itinerant individuals who are asked to move on by the crew. This seems to happen a lot in big cities, less so in smaller towns - but it still happens. Even in Canada, in winter.

What I suggested was a special Poking Stick. Much like the concept of 'Heart Safe', where AEDs are available to members of the public in case someone collapses, these special "Poke Safe" sticks would be available behind plastic fronted cabinets in high occurrence areas. That way, members of the public could safely poke collapsed drunks without fear of being attacked, or more importantly, of getting ickiness on them. Eww.

I'm sure it'll catch on. I'll write to the regional director of health services. The budget should be a lot cheaper than those $5,000 AED units!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jonathan Coulton performing Still Alive in RockBand!

I so can't wait for this to be released! It's going to be awesome!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Filler Bunny


I am dealing with two, maybe three projects at work. My main one is a spin off from one of the others, and involved me creating a high level architecture for a near-shore development team based in Ottawa. I am providing ongoing architectural support for them, and resolving some of the issues because of my ties with the existing project.

I recently completed my third demonstration of the original project to a large number of stakeholders via a 'webinar' - a web broadcast - which went well. As with the previous two, the experience was rather last minute but it ended well. We had to split the demo into two parts because portions of the system were not quite ready.

I am also working on the integration of these new projects at the client sites, providing support for XSLT development and implementation along with a delivery manager. I think that will kick into high gear when these other two things are done.

As well as all of that good stuff, I'm involved with a few other clients, and promoting the Microsoft Users Group at work. It's enough to keep me out of trouble.


I've rediscovered WoW recently.

After the guild I was with on Boulderfist decided, once again, that progress wasn't being made, a previous guild member turned up after some considerable months off and started a guild of their own. Many people bleed off into this guild and eventually we all joined it. Then said charismatic leader disappeared into the night once again, and things just collapsed like a flan in a cupboard.

When I got the Burning Crusade, I met an RL friend of mine and her husband in the queue. She suggested I join them on their server, Sentinels, and play with them. I've been leveling a Tauren Druid and having fun with their RP guild. Lots of interesting drama, but totally different from the hardcore raiding guild stuff.

TV Shows

Because of my extended break from volunteering, I've also been taking advantage of my new free time to watch a variety of TV shows that were lent to me by a friend of mine. I've just finished the first and second seasons of Battlestar Galactica, and wow. It's totally amazing, really good SF and great characterisation.

The writers strike - which I think was just resolved - was a great time to catch up with all the TV shows I missed whilst I didn't have a TV for ages. I'm also using my Windows Media Center to record all the shows, and I'm enjoying the run of Scrubs and South Park to get me up to speed on what I missed for the past few years. Technology. So wonderful.


Speaking of wonderful technology, I finished Portal and am tracking through HL2:Episode One on my XBOX at the moment. I also participated in a purchase plan to get Rock Band, and I've been thundering on the skins, jagging with my axe, and yelling up a storm to the various songs available. On Easy mode. Of course.

It's a fantastic game, and I can't wait to play with others on it (this weekend is when we'll test it, and then in a few weekends time I take it to my friends house for a Rock Star party!). I even added some "Microsoft Points" so I could download the Police, David Bowie, and Oasis song packs. Hehe.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Here Comes Another Bubble

This is such a cool song. I was there for the housing market bubble in the early 1990s and the dot com bubble in the early 2000s, and this totally nailed the whole concept.

"Now that ain't workin' that's the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain't workin' that's the way you do it
Money for nothin' and your chicks for free"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Year, New Start?

It's a new year. Hope you are having a happy one so far.

I'm unsettled, because my work permit runs out on the 28th of January and if it expires I must return to the United Kingdom. This isn't a particular issue, as I have managed to get a set of immigration lawyers on the case - I didn't even know my company had immigration lawyers, very nifty. Still doesn't change the fact that every day when I get home from work I check my mailbox to see if there is a letter from Immigrations Canada, and get just a little more tweaked every time it's not there...

Makes me want to curl up in a cave somewhere and hibernate.

Apart from that, I've taken a slight break from volunteering. I think I will start again, and I've requested to attend a concert that is coming up in a few days. My focus is going to be on the first aid, rather than the supervising. I hope it goes well. During December, I missed attending duties, especially the people and the treatment. I did get way more XBOX action though, finished Gears of War. Got The Orange Box for Christmas, which is totally awesome even though I played Half-Life 2 on the PC a few years ago.

I visited the Muttart Conservatory over the weekend, as it keeps me sane in winter when I'm here. My favorite oak tree had gone! I tried to find out why but the front desk girl had only been working there since September, and had no idea there was even an oak tree in the temperate pavilion. Serves me right for not going more often...