Friday, March 31, 2006

KOOKY: So...

Not only do I get a signing bonus from the government, so does the hubby.

Bonuses will now become a rarity for me now, so I should enjoy it while I have the money, whenever that's coming.

I still don't know how the pay raise is going to increase my pay. I still don't know if I'll be getting additional raises on top of that.

And apparently, we're being underpaid. If the grievance that we filed against the university actually goes through, I may see more money. I think. But I won't even know until at least December or early next year. Or maybe sooner if the moderator is free.

It's all so confusing....

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Pain free! (-ish)

I've been having upper-back, shoulder and neck pains for the better part of two years. It got to the point where I was ready to cry, it was so painful; but each time, I would suck it up and continue onwards. My neck would crack three times in succession if I turned it a certain way. It was so loud that once my sister-in-law heard it, and we were in a super noisy restaurant, one where you had to shout to be heard. Not only did I have knots in my neck and shoulder, but I had knots down my shoulder blades and down my spine. No amount of massage therapy helped.

So someone had finally made the brilliant suggestion of going to see a chiropractor. I didn't think that having my spine out of alignment would make a big difference, but apparently it did; after all, it was my muscles giving me grief. So I had my spine adjusted a few times. I diligently did my stretches. More importantly, I lowered my keyboard at work by a good 6-7 inches.

After a week, I could already feel the difference: my flexibility increased, and my pain decreased. No longer was I going to sleep in pain, and waking up in pain. Pain is now a fairweather friend instead of a constant companion. No longer did I feel I had to distract myself from crying because it was so painful. I have been liberated!

I'm not 100% pain free, but it's now a manageable level. As long as I keep sitting in front of a computer for a good part of my day, I will always have some muscle tightness (according to my chiropractor anyways).

But now that my problems are at a manageable level, I'm absolutely flabbergasted as to how much pain I was enduring for over two year! Yikes!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

KOOKY: Food Fare

What can I say, I love macaroni and cheese.

About every three weeks or so, the hospital cafeteria puts mac & cheese on their menu. And with glee, I tell all my co-workers that it's mac & cheese day. They smile, nod, and continue politely on with what they are doing.

It's gotten to the point where it's become a running joke with my co-workers. If you look at the picture, the mac & cheese is served with corn (and peas and carrots, but let's ignore those for a while). My co-worker "C" started calling it "Yellow Lunch", because, well, it's mostly yellow.

So now when I see on the hospital cafeteria menu that they are serving mac & cheese for lunch, I tell all my co-workers that its Yellow Lunch day. My co-workers smile, nod and continue working, oblivious to my joy.

(Boy, I tell ya, working with a bunch of male computer geeks is sometimes really, really dull).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Genetics are out to get me!

I have a genetic blood condition called Thalassemia. According to my doctor and from several sources that I've read, I shouldn't be taking iron supplements, so I must get my iron from food.

After almost keeling over from sleepiness today, I've tried to figure out why I was so tired. I exercised my butt off yesterday, so that wasn't it. I got plenty of sleep, so that was it. I'm not terribly stressed out right now. That left diet.

While I do eat enough, I don't think I'm getting enough iron in my diet. So now to search for food stuffs for me to eat.

I know that beef is one food stuff that is very high in iron and the iron from beef is very easily absorbed by the body, more so than most other foods. Hubby on the other hand (and here comes more genetic fun!) is susceptible to gout as a couple of his family members have it. And beef is known to aggravate gout symptoms. Needless to say, we have very interesting problems in our household. I want more beef, he wants less. Ha!

To complicate matters, I was also born with a weak-ish digestive system, so I have to watch what I eat or tummy will be unhappy. This, I'm also noticing, is probably genetic as well, as my mom and my uncle have weak digestive systems. Oh, and I got my Thalassemia from dear old mom. Thanks mom!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Movie Review: V for Vendetta

First, I will say that all the actors did an excellent job in their roles, especially Hugo Weaving (aka Elrond the elf aka Mr. Smith). I think it's not an easy task for any actor to endure you to the character he is portraying if you cannot see any facial expression. We weren't even able to see his eyes. Mr. Weaving had to rely on his voice and his other body language to make the character "V" come alive. Kudos to him for doing a bang up job.

Natalie Portman, well, she's a not too bad of an actress. Her London accent was a tad off, but overall a pretty good performance. I mentioned that I saw V for Vendetta to my friend N., and his first words before I could pontificate on her acting abilities is that "she's hot". Sigh. Nuff said about that.

One other actor I would like to commend is Tim Pigott-Smith who played the bad guy Creedy. I saw him as Richard Hale in North and South, and I'm continued to be amazed at how well actors can really get into their characters and make them really believable. (Richard Hale and Creedy are polar opposites in terms of characterization, so it's a real treat to see some great acting from the same actor).

The gripes I have about the movie are mainly the storyline. Dave fell asleep for the first 15-20 mins of the movie. I don't exactly blame him. Some of the dialogue was unnecessarily, like V's "V soliloquy". Another part that I didn't exactly get nor did I think was all that useful in the script was the whole interrogation scene with Natalie Portman. Sure, it explained a few more things about V and it propelled Evey (NP's character) to a certain realization, but I didn't think it was necessary. That was a good 15 mins, I think. Rather, I would have spent the time explaining how Stephen Rea's character (the chief inspector) figured out where V's hideaway was. "It's just a feeling" just doesn't cut it for me.

Rotten Tomatoes gives this move a 75% rating (ie 7.5 out of 10). I will have to say that I agree with the assessment.

Birthday odds and ends...

Okay, after my last post, which I know was pretty depressing reading, I thought I'd post something a little more cheery. Here's how I spent my birthday.

Friday: Facial

Saturday: Birthday!
  • I had my yearly birthday hair colour
  • Dave bought me a new pair of cross-trainers
  • Went out for my grandmother's birthday dinner (her birthday is on the 29th, but most of the family is in town right now)
  • Went to go see V for Vendetta (review forthcoming)
Sunday: Birthday dinner at Saffron for my birthday dinner.

Birthday Shoes!

Hair before:

Birthday hair (complete with birthday goofy poses)!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

It's my birthday. Wooppee.

So today is another birthday. Yay. Today, I'llbeturningthirtyfour. I mean, today, I'll be 27. Again.

I hate birthdays. Not so much that it's the anniversary of my birth insomuch as it marks another year of still-getting-older-ness

I've always hated getting older. Ever since I was young and was cognizant of the fact that getting older meant that your whole body aged. Getting older meant more responsibility. Getting older meant having less fun.

Since this year started, I've actually found myself becoming more reflective of my life. I'm taking more responsibility for my thoughts and my actions. I'm planning for the future. In short, I'm turning into the a-dolt (note this is not a misspelling) that I've dreaded all these years of becoming.

People say that they rather enjoy their years after their early 20s. Why? I loved being in my early 20s, and I miss those years greatly.

One thing I hear over and over again is that people want to go through their early 20s, but with the wisdom and experience that they have now. I differ on that opinion. Think about it. If you went through your early 20s with the experience you had now, would you be the same person that you are today? Would you had made the same choices that you did back then. Somehow I doubt it. That's what life experience is about people. Not knowing (or always heeding) the consequences of your choices and actions, you embark on a path that is life, and through your adventures and misadventures, you gain experience and wisdom.

One thing that I yearn for is youthful innocence. The whole world was opened to you then. There was none of this "I can't do this because of XYZ". Exuberance wasn't tempered by caution. In fact, caution was thrown in the wind. You were invincible. The world was yours. I don't think any one of us can really get that feeling back, even if we tried. We're too weighed down by common sense and hindsight.

When I was young, I looked at people in their 30s and thought that they were old looking, knowing full well that I'd be like them one day. That day has been here for quite a while. Every day I look in the mirror and see an aging self. I look around those who are in their early 20s and see how young they look. People say I still look like I'm in my 20s. I beg to differ. If I stood next to one that was in their early 20s, you would be able to pick out the aging body in a heartbeat.

I miss being able to eat anything I want and not gain weight. I miss the youthful glow. I miss the perky boobs and bum. I miss being able to stay up until late in the night and not feel the consequences the next morning.

Now for those of you who say "Well, your 30s are something to enjoy!" Popycock I say. I like the clothing that the early 20s wear. I would look ridiculous in the same clothing when I'm in my 30s. When flipping through my InStyle magazines, they show you a clothing trend, and show you how you can incorporate those trends using "age appropriate clothing". If that's not a sign of aging, I don't know what is. I look at clothing in Jacob and Banana Republic, and I find that those styles to be "too old looking" for my tastes (I'm not slagging other people's styles, this is just my own personal preference). I want to be able to wear that Paul Frank t-shirt or mini-skirts 20 years from now and not look like I'm too old to wear it. I don't want to "dress my age". Bleh.

And what about those who are starting to think about wrinkle or anti-aging creams? Those products are there to help you stay looking young. My thinking is, is that if you're using these products, you're not embracing your middle life, you're desperately trying to grasp at what is quickly slipping away through your fingers. If one is to embrace aging gracefully, one should reject any attempts at fighting the aging process, correct? Otherwise, won't you be labeled as a contrarian?

Birthdays. Bah.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Just testing...

My co-worker, R (aka IT Plumber/Janitor), showed me today that I can type an email message and email it to my blog, and voilĂ , it will magically appear. And even published, should I so desire.

If you read R's blog, very little of it makes sense unless you know the context. He's an IT guy, and has to deal with very silly people. So do I, but his situation's worse. Yes, it's his own version of hell on earth.

Let's see if this works...

ETA: Whoot! It worked! Only I couldn't do the link in the email, so I have to edit the post. I wonder how it would handle attachments? Embedded photos or video clips? Hmmmm.....

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

KOOKY: The Hospital Badge

I am quickly discovering that half of the Faculty of Medicine (if not more) are actually located in the hospitals. Thus, I go to the hospitals at least once or twice a month for meeting with other people in the Faculty. I figured since I'm there often enough, that I should get a hospital badge for security reasons, and to get cheaper parking at the parking lot.

So today, I got my badge. Included with the badge is a list of emergency codes that they use in the hospital. Most people are familiar with the term "Code Blue", even if they don't know what it means. (It means cardiac arrest). It's a term that I've heard many times while watching shows like ER.

But the other codes are equally as fascinating. Here are some of my favourites:
  • Code Brown: Hazardous Spill
  • Code Black: Bomb Threat
  • Code Orange: Mass Casualties - Internal or External Disaster
  • Code Grey: Air Exclusion - External Toxic/Hazardous Substance Leak
It's nice to know that hospital employees need to deal with the above. And it's nice that the hospital gives you a handy dandy card with your identity badge so that you don't forget what each code is for. (Can you hear the sarcasm dripping here? Yikes!)

And for your edification, the rest of the list:
  • Code Yellow: Missing Patient
  • Code Green: Evacuation
  • Code Red: Fire
  • Code White: Aggression

Monday, March 20, 2006

KOOKY: Confused...

Okay, so I'm still trying to get my head around this whole "we-must-sign-a-contract-with-the-university-and-with-the-government" deal. Why do we need to do this? I don't get it.

(For those of you who don't know, the BC government is trying to get all unions and associations to sign a five year contract with them. The purpose is two-fold: they want to have labour peace so that all the work that needs to be done for the Olympics can get done in time and 2) they don't want any more labour strife before the next election in 2009. The groups have to have an agreement in place before March 31, and of course, the government is dangling the biggest carrot of all: money. It's pretty big news around these parts.)

The Association is what we are a member of, and they represent our group when we need to negotiate with our employer, UBC. They have been acting on our behalf, trying to get the best deal for us within a certain time frame. We were asked by them what action they should take, and we (the members) voted 70%+ in favour of our Association getting the best deal for us before the March 31 deadline.

Well, the Association did their job and after several rounds with UBC, they got a deal that that they felt was fair and they are recommending that we accept it.

Apparently, it's not good enough for some people. A lot of bitterness and frustration have hit my Inbox. Today and last Friday, I've probably received about 100 emails, complaining that the deal's not good enough, along with some other gripes. (If nothing else, I've been getting an education on how the system works. Why it works this way is still a big mystery.)

This is such a foreign concept to me. In the private sector, if you work hard and perform well, you get rewarded individually. In the public sector, we, as a collective, need to agree on what our benefits and wages are set at. Perhaps because we are public, we need to be accountable to the taxpayer, hence the group representation.

I see all the benefits that we as UBC employees have, and there are people still turning their noses down at it. I didn't have a pension for five years of my adult work life; that's my last two jobs. I now get a pretty kick-ass pension. Also, as a new UBC employee, I get four weeks of vacation my first year. That's unheard of in most companies; you have to work about 10 years to get four weeks in many places.

Salary is a big thing. While all workers do get an increase every year in their salary, the salary grid has not changed over the past three years. With this new deal we will be getting increases with the salary grid. (Does that make sense?)

I certainly see that there is a lot of frustration and bitterness. But we can't strike, we can't do much of anything to defend our rights. Which is why we have a group looking out for us. Seriously, I can go to these people if I truly have grievances against my immediate bosses (my bosses rock by the way, so no problems there). It's nice knowing that there's someone looking out for me. I never got that working in the private sector; it's every dog for himself there.

Perhaps some people have worked in this environment most of their working career, or for a good long time that they tend to lose perspective. The real world doesn't give them a lot of what they already take for granted. I don't know. Everyone has acknowledged that it's not the best proposal for us, but it's the best that they can do within a short time frame. All I know is that my Inbox will be flooded again tomorrow because people don't agree, and I'm left more in the dark.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

KOOKY: "Beware the Ides of March"

Ever since I learnt about Julius Caesar being betrayed by his friend Brutus on the Ides of March, I've always been a little leary of what may befall me on this day.

Well, nothing much really. Nothing bad anyways.

Instead, I had a pretty good day:
- Today is payday
- We got our new water cooler with the hot water tap (well, I was excited about it!)
- I got to meet my friend A. for lunch
- I will soon be getting a $3,000-ish bonus as the Association that I belong to at work is going to lock us in a four-year contract with the provincial government. It also guarantees that we will be getting a set pay increase over the next four years and some extra money for medical expenses that our benefits don't cover. (I'm still trying to wrap my head around this whole being-a-public-servant-thing and terms like grievances, negotiations and ratification are still foreign concepts to me. But if you really think about it, it is my money to begin with. University pays Irene salary<-- Government gives university money<-- Irene pays Government taxes. See, it's a vicious cycle).

Whoo! Maybe I shouldn't have to worry so much about the Ides of March any longer.

I did have to (once again) try to configure an application that I know very little about, and have had almost no training using. It's pretty frustrating that I need to go through this each and every time, but somehow I manage to muddle through it with help from others. Hey, I'm in IT, and it's part of IT's nature to be difficult. Sucky, but it doesn't go away, so you learn to live with it.

If Julius had it so good...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

KOOKY: Nature calls

This post is dedicated to my good friend L and her hubby T, whom I found out tonight that they are avid readers of FLIB-ur-tee-jib-it (n.) =D

When I was in second year of university, the university's support staff (the janitors and the like) went on strike for about 2-3 weeks. That meant that you had to get creative and look for the less frequently used washrooms, as no one was cleaning them, and the toilet paper quickly disappeared. I think I snuck into the guys washroom a couple of times. Those were fun times. Today certainly brought back some fond memories.

In the building I work in, there are students. Lots of them. Normally I don't notice them as I'm generally stuck in my windowless dungeon (aka basement).

Today I noticed.

You see, in the dungeon, there are 1.5 washroom for me to use. The 0.5 is a handicap washroom, and will play a small part in my narrative.

Yes, nature calls, as it does for every living being on this planet, and it was no different for me. Only something's got in my way: students.

I'd managed to catch either a break or end of class because the washrooms are usually not busy unless a lot of students need to use them. So instead of queuing up, I headed for the 0.5 bathroom, on the other side of the dungeon. I see another student in front me, headed towards the same direction.


He goes into the 0.5 washroom. Bah.

Next option: the women's washroom on the Ground floor.

Remember now, there are still students abound. Lots of them.

Yup, the ground floor washroom is pretty full too. There were a few empty stalls, but students are notoriously messy, so I rejected those.

Next option: the women's washroom two floors up.

Now for anyone who has ever been in my building and had to move around to the different levels in the building, knows about the very slow elevator, so most of the time people take the stairs. I am forced to take the stairs. Anyone who has taken the stairs know that it's a bit of an exercise. Even if you are fit, after going up several flights of stairs, you're winded. It's just one of those mysteries of life.

After a winded climb up a few flights of stairs, I finally find an empty (and fairly clean) washroom where I can do my business.

This got me thinking. In my building, there are six lecture halls, about 15 classrooms, a very large library, lots of offices and conference rooms, and places for people to sit and lounge. At full capacity, you're looking at about 500+ people. And not enough toilets for the masses. Woefully under-resourced in that area.

The one comfort that I have is that even the Dean of Medicine (the guy in the photo at the top), as important as he is, does not have his own personal washroom, and he therefore must go through the same agony that I go through. He's the head of the whole Faculty, the grand poo-bah, a renown surgeon (so don't piss this guy off, you may need his services one day). He has his own parking space, but not his own bathroom. He has to share with the students. He's human, and nature calls to him as well.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Positive Thinking

I was in a bad mood this week. But I have tried to put it into perspective by thinking positively.

For instance:

1. I am not mad at my RMT for being fully booked and then taking off on vacation for three weeks. After all she only works part-time, and of course she would be fully booked just before she goes on vacation. And I shouldn't have ignored the burning pain that my neck, shoulders and upper back has been experiencing for the past month. Nor should I have ignored the fact that my neck started popping three times in a row whenever I turned my head a certain way. I did book an appointment with my esthetician for a massage, so my agony will temporarily end tomorrow at 4pm. I won't be able to claim this massage under my benefits, but hey, good masseuses are hard to find. Plus, I get to hear all her online dating stories. It doesn't get much better than that.

2. I am not upset at Chapters for sending me a corrupt DVD of Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightly version), whereby it started skipping at an interesting part (at the first proposal scene) and (after testing it on three different players), forcing me to have to return it and order a new one. I've only been waiting for months for it to come out, so I can over analyze once again what I don't like about it and hear Joe Wright's excuses, er, justifications for some of his (in my opinion) really poor creative decisions with one of my favourite books. So, instead of wasting four-plus hours of my time (once to watch the movie, and another time to listen to the commentary while the movie is playing), I managed to clean the house (with the help of my awesome hubby), do some laundry, and get about five hours of productive homework time in. (Okay, the movie wasn't that bad, but I still have plenty to rant about, once I get my replacement DVD, whenever that is. Stay tuned...)

3. I have made a resolution to stop calling my project "Evil Homework". I've been feeling a lot of frustration since before my project started, partly at BCIT, partly towards my client, and now, partly towards my code. So instead of getting into a big knot about it and exacerbating my stress problems even more (see point #1), I've decided to start taking steps towards thinking about the whole school thing in a more positive light. So far this has helped me find a bug that has been eluding me for a few days, and actually go forward with my code. This also made me realize how far behind I still am. And of course, exacerbated point #1 again.

4. I got to see some of my Hitched buddies again today. I'm non-committal as I have no opinion about this. Ha. (Sorry, in-joke). Really, it was great seeing some of my Hitched buddies again, and meeting ariesgal (Sarah). And even though we had to switched restaurants (somebody slap me the next time I suggest Cactus Club), wait another 20 mins to get seated, then waited another 45 mins to get the food, we had a great time.

See, positive thinking does work.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

On the road again: Pumping Gas

Do you do this?

When pumping gas, and the pump stops, instead of taking the nozzle thingie out of your gas tank hole, you let the little bit that is left over drip into your gas tank? You try to shake and twist the pump around so you can get those last few drops into your gas tank instead of having them fall useless (and paid for) on the ground?

I do. I drive a Honda Civic. I paid 95.9 cents per litre. It cost $27.01 to fill my tank, and dammit, I'm getter every drop that I paid for!


Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Since trying to take control of my diet, I've so far given up pop and anything with artificial sweetener. I'm not trying to lose weight (well, I am a little), but I'm trying to make wiser food choices.

Next thing to go: chocolate.

In particular, chocolate bars. I'm not going to avoid them completely, that would be foolish; I'm just trying not to make them my first (or second or third) choice.

What's making this quite difficult is that 1) I tend to have a sweet tooth (especially when I'm PMS-ing and/or stressed out, I really crave sugar) and, 2) I love chocolate.

If you talk to my coworkers, they will tell you that I am a chocolate fiend. That's not true. Only when I'm PMS-ing and/or stressed out do I crave the stuff. The rest of the time, I can do without it. Mostly.

The problem is that I've been finding that since trying to cut out certain foods, I've been still making not-so-wise food choices. Since I can't have pop, I go for candy, that sort of stuff. Here's hoping that I will try to find something that will adequately (and is healthy) substitute for chocolate, because when I get cravings, I get them bad!