Saturday, December 29, 2007

Boss and Employee Articles


As I stumble along the road called Middle Management, I am on the constant lookout for articles that will help me on my journey of being "The Best Boss in the Whole Wide World". While this is a very lofty goal, and realistically, I'd just as well be happy with the title of "A Good Boss", it never hurts to aim high, right? Right?

Anyways, here are a bunch of articles I found interesting, let me know what you think:

Speaking with Integrity - Do the right thing and speak truthfully

How to be a Good Boss - I suck at delegating, but am trying to get better

Common Sense Management

Personality Types - this is how to go about communicating to different personality types. I'd actually learned something similar in my Peer-to-Manager course, but the instructor used slightly different terminology. Fundamentally though, the ideas are the same. Through this exercise, I have sort of figured out how to better communicate with my boss. Now to make sure I can better communicate with the rest of the world. Sigh.

Hack your Boss - What your boss wants or doesn't want. Just as I am a boss, I too have a boss who has expectations of me.

How to Deal with Micromanagers - This is a kick in the butt reminder for me as well as good tips for everyone else. You can't believe the number of times I've caught myself going down the path of micromanaging my employees, and yet for every time I manage to catch myself and stop, I've probably just as many times have micromanaged people. I hate being micromanaged, and honestly, micromanaging others sucks up my time and energy.

Dissatisfaction in the Workplace - It's all about attitude baby!

Get a Great Annual Review - Also a handy way to keep your resume fresh

Thursday, December 27, 2007

FLIB-ur-tee-jib-it (n.) is 2!!!

Whoot! So I've been blogging for two years now. Wow! I hope you found the blog somewhat interesting to read. It's definitely been an interesting year for me, and 2008, well I can't predict what will happen other than I will finish my stupid Evil Homework!

However, I do have a number of things to blog about before 2007 closes off, more to come as the days progress. I have this week off from work, so you will see something!

Christmas wasn't too bad for me. My sister was in town and we had Christmas dinner on the 24th, then Christmas Dim Sum on the 25th as my sister had to leave later that afternoon. I ended up spending Christmas night having Christmas Dinner with some of my Dad's family. Adventures abounded of me trying to find a strange house in the dark of winter, driving up a mountain no less, while it was snowing. Good times. No misadventures met up with me, thank goodness, and I was able to enjoy a hearty Christmas dinner, and reconnecting with some family I hadn't seen in some time. Then up early on Boxing Day for some shopping! I walked away with some nice booty, and even a sweater for hubby!

H0pe everyone is having a lovely holiday!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas!!!!


Click on the image above to see it properly. Happy Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

KOOKY: Yet another...

Promotion!

As I had alluded to in an earlier post, I had some news that I couldn't share just yet. Well, the reason why was because my boss hadn't told everyone at work yet.

So I go from being Team Lead to being Manager. Ooooooohhhhh!!!!

What does this mean for me? A little more pay, not much more I think. The biggest change is that I do very little technical stuff now (or I shouldn't be doing any technical stuff any longer). And more strategic work on my part.

So that's the big news. Manager. Still very strange to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

365 Days of Pictures: More Christmas Lights

Hubby had changed the lights up a few days ago...

Inside lights now complete with stocking!


More outside lights!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

This is our Christmas present to our mum, tickets to Cirque du Soleil's Corteo that's coming to town next summer. This will be the fifth Cirque du Soleil show I've seen, the others being (in order of when I've seen them): Saltembanco, Alegria, "O", Mysterie. (And if you count the film Journey of Man that they made back in 1999, which was my actual introduction to Cirque, then that count goes up to six). "O" is by far still my favourite, and I have generally found the stage shows to be better than the tent shows. However, it's been a while since I've seen one, so I'm stoked to going to see this one!

Another Update

Yes, going another week without blogging. Bad me. I have been busy, and I actually have two pieces of news to share. One I can't share quite yet in Internet-land, but hopefully by the end of next week I will be able to. And for PJ3 and the rest of my faithful followers who are trying to guess what's behind door number one, no, I am not pregnant! But still, it is good news, just news that I don't feel yet is the right time to put up on the ol' blog. However, if you know me in real life, I will tell you my news--for the right price (chocolate!).

The other piece of news has to do with school. Without getting into the details as to the absolute project management disaster this whole debacle has been since day one, I had yet another breakdown about it about two weeks ago and cried bitterly on hubby's shoulder for a good half an hour. Shortly after that, I spoke at great lengths with my advisor. The long and short of it is that come hell or high water, I will be handing in my report come May 1, and I'm done with this hellish project after 2.5 years. Regardless of what happens after that, this is the biggest weight off my shoulder. This thing has felt like an absolute albatross around my neck, one that I can finally cut loose from. Bu bye birdie!

Something fun to leave you with as I sign off: Hubby and I enjoying ourselves at our annual Bible Study Group Christmas Party. I think I look like a bucked-toothed, horsey-faced idiot in the picture. Good times!

Friday, December 07, 2007

365 Days of Pictures: Christmas Lights!

My hubby rocks! I was going to ask him to put the Christmas lights this weekend, only he beat me to it. I found him putting up the lights when I got home. Yes, I know it's not a lot of lights, but I'm not much of a Christmasy person. Still some lights help bring a bit of a festive air to my humble abode, n'est pas?


Snow!

This was taken at about 12.30 pm this past Sunday. 24 hours later, all of the snow was gone.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

365 Days of Photos


Proof that Vancouver does get snow! This is my front yard today, at about 9pm



My lunch. All you can eat Indian buffet. Yum!

KOOKY: Time to celebrate!

Yesterday, our larger group had it's monthly Tea Party. Everyone is supposed to take turns hosting the party and this month, it was our turn. This is where everyone gets together to celebrate the birthdays for that month. What it really is, it's an excuse to take a 1/2 hour off work to cram bad-for-you food in your system and socialise.

Many times people have themes (eg Halloween). Sometimes we play really insipid parlour games. My group, we are so not into that. It was a huge pain trying to figure out what we were going to bring, never mind the fact that none of us had the inclination to think of an actual theme, we had better things to do. Okay, we kinda had a theme: bad food that you love to eat! Only someone even ruined that by bringing in veggies and dip (although I suppose that the dip's really not good for you).

My offerings were a couple of bottles of Orangina and Cheese Puffs (I was feeling orangey). If you've never had Orangina before, try hard to get your hands on some, this stuff is sooooo good. I had even gone to two different stores to find it, I was dead set on getting some. The first time I tried it, it was at a friend's house. Let me tell you, I will never go back to vile orange pop again, I was converted! Soooo yummy! Sooooo good! I was in heaven when we went to Paris, they sell this stuff all over Europe. I don't think those people even know what the yucky orange pop is like.

Anyways, despite the lack of theme, boring games, or even a real birthday cake (the closest thing was a cheesecake), the party was a smashing success.

***

Another thing that I had to share with you, I found out that I got a raise with my promotion. My promotion was effective as of May 1 this year, but I had stupidly failed to ask my boss if I was going to get a raise. I went through a performance review only 4 months prior, and they had given me a huge raise then. I was shocked that they had given me the promotion, so I suppose it was excusable not to have a brain at that point.

Anyways, I was in my boss's office the other day talking to him about something. Somehow we got talking about how he was pulling his hair out with HR, and my promotion didn't go through properly, hence the reason why I didn't see more money on my paycheques.

Quoi? (That's French for What? for you non-Francophone types)

It turns out that it was my manager's fault for not knowing that the Faculty had yet another step for finalising staff appointments, and he's been spending a good deal of time straightening the whole mess out (not just my appointment, but a whole whackload of them. He really hates HR even more now!) This interprets as some inefficient process was created eons ago and never removed, causing more red tape, needless paperwork, and ultimately, job security for someone. Sigh, working here is certainly never boring.

Anyhoo, once I print off the contract, sign it and return it to the proper channels, I will get a whopping $101.79 more per month. That's before taxes and other deductions. My boss did tell me that my raise wasn't much, but in the same breath, asked if I hadn't noticed anything in my paycheques. Really, after all the deductions, I'd be luck to have received an extra $20 in my wallet. (In fact, I'm certain once the government is done with me at income tax time, I'll probably be further back than if I hadn't received the raise, such is life).

But yay me! Raise! Whoo!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Life, maybe not so boring...

I do have one little piece of exciting news. Well, exciting to me.

We paid off the car loan.

One year ahead of schedule.

Whoo. Go us!

Olympic Mascots

I'm meh. However, they are a darn sight better than the the Inukshuk logo.

[Source]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wet Snow

Apparently, it's our first snow fall this season. Typical that it had to be wet snow. Depending on which part of the city you're in, it could have fallen as big fat flakes or it could have fallen as really cold rain, with nare a snowflake in sight.

This has been about as exciting as my life has been getting so far. Work is steadily chugging along. Evil Homework is, well, there. Not too much else happening right now, at least not with me. Oh wait, I caught a cold and had my flu shot. Joy.

However, November is quickly coming to a close, and everyone knows a lot happens in December. Hopefully I'll have something more interesting to blog about.

Later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Star Trek 11


I'm sooooo stoked! Star Trek 11 has just started filming. It's set to be released Dec 25, 2008. Whoo! I'm really looking forward to Zachary Quinto of Hereos fame to play Young Spock, see him above. I'm also looking forward to watching Simon Pegg as Young Scotty. He was hilarious in Shaun of the Dead. I haven't seen Hot Fuzz yet, but I it's definitely on the list of movies to watch.

[Source]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Complete Jane Austen

I am soooooooooo excited! PBS is going to have a Jane Austen extravaganza starting January 2008. And not only will they be playing all 6 adaptations, 4 of them will be brand new!!!!!

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

For those of you who don't recognize Rupert Penry-Jones above, he plays Captain Wentworth in Persuasion. I've seen him before in Spooks/MI-5, and he's not a bad actor (definitely easy on the eyes!). I'm also excited that my favourite Borg, Alice Krige, will also be in the adaptation. I've met her in real life at the last Star Trek convention that I've been at, she is a very beautiful and elegant lady.

I have a friend who is a big fan of the 1995 adaptation of Persuasion, and she is especially fond of
Ciarán Hinds, who also plays Captain Wentworth. She doesn't think that anyone will outshine him. I think she may have second thoughts once she's seen the newer adaptation.

Another adaptation that I'm looking forward to is Northanger Abbey. This is actually my favourite Jane Austen novel. I've watched the 1986 version, and it's incredibly painful to watch, it's so bad. Anything has to be better than that.

Anyways, I'm prepping by re-reading all of the novels again. Yay! I can't wait!!!!

Some headlines

Now doctors say it's good to be fat?

I understand their point of view, but as the article also brings up, what about quality of life? And what does it mean that more people die or less people die? Everyone dies. I always read stuff like this and think that they need to qualify their meaning. Do you mean people under a certain age? It's just too confusing. I certainly hope (but know that this won't be the case) where reports such as this will just give people more of an excuse to eat poorly. Our bodies certainly weren't made to process junk. Nonetheless, there's too little information in the article for me to come to any good conclusions about this.

Parents win right to grow babies for 'spare parts'

I don't know how to feel about this one, I really don't. I understand that parents would want to try to save their children, and this is one possible avenue. I also understand that the child should have a right to make the choice of helping the sibling with the health problems, and not feel like his parents needed him to exist in part because they needed a solution. I am not a parent, nor do I know anyone else in this position, so I don't know what my true feelings will be if I had to face this situation. I've learned a long time ago never say never, because sometimes when push comes to shove, and you're feeling like a trapped animal, you may end up doing things that you'd thought you'd never do.

But that doesn't mean that I don't see the ethical dilemmas and the social impact laws like this may trigger. I would like to think that our world leaders would try to make the best decisions for the people that they represent, and hopefully they have talked about and debated the ramifications of this legislation. Even if that were the case, you can never please everyone, and it is impossible to come to a consensus about it. However, I wonder the state of mind of the person or persons who had originally lobbied for this to become law, did they have to deal with this very same situation, and are they basing their actions on fact or emotion? Let's just hope that this turns out to be a good idea after all.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

KOOKY: Six months later...

So it's been about six months since I've been put in a Team Lead role. In the six months:
  • I've made mistakes and still do so
  • I've had to deal with conflict
  • I had to learn about office furniture
  • I had to learn how HR deals with things
  • I've hired 4 people
  • I have less time to do more work (and consequently take more work home)
  • I've taken leadership training
  • I've micro-managed
  • I've had to do a lot of mentoring
  • I've probably sent out mixed signals to my underlings
  • I've had to make executive decisions
  • In short, I've learned that being a leader is hard, hard work
It's been hard so far, but a good learning experience for me. I certainly don't want to be one of those supervisors who people complain about. I want to be the person who everyone says that I was a great supervisor -- what can I say, I want people to like me. I know that I won't ever be perfect, but my main goal is to do whatever it takes to help my team do their job well and efficiently, while having fun in the process. That's not always easy as I need to figure out how to get there, and I generally don't get a lot of feedback, even when I ask for it. And it's certainly weird treating people who used to be my peers as subordinates.

Here's what I have learned/come to realise so far:
  • Less is more.
  • I won't always make popular decisions
  • I sometimes have a too big of a mouth
  • I like, and I want everyone to feel like they are a part of the process, that I don't always need to make the decisions, and have someone else take the initiative (with my blessings of course)
  • I'm learning to not only juggle my time, but everyone whom I supervise
  • I hate micro-managing, but sometimes it has to be done
  • I can't be everyone's friend
  • I don't like to deal with unpleasant things (who really does), but I have realized that I need to, and as much help as I may get from others, the buck does stop with me and I need to do something about it.
  • That it's okay to say no.
  • That it's okay to make executive decisions and not consult the team.
  • That this is my area, and my people, and (within certain confines), I can pretty much do anything I want.
But there is so much more that I need to learn.

I've taken to reading leadership blogs, and I've just bought a few books on leadership; I'll put up reviews once I've had a chance to read them. I do feel like I'm struggling as I don't always feel like I know what I'm doing, and there are days when I feel a sense of impending doom (or that could be my PMS making me moody). So I'm training myself by reading what other people who have been in my position say. I'm also thinking about taking another course.

Of course, I may be over-preparing, over-thinking, over-doing it. After all, very few of us become good at what we do overnight. That's why they call it experience. I can't look for a silver bullet solution with detailed step-by-step instructions on what to do, that doesn't exist.

Man, this is hard.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

KOOKY: In the hospital

I didn't land myself in the Emergency Room. My group has moved over into the hospital. Fourth move in 2.5 year, I may add.

My director had, a few months ago, approached me with some space that became free and asked if I wanted to move my team in there. Just like you can lure fish with bait, she baited me with a window.

And I ate it, hook, line and sinker.

Actually, the room isn't that bad. We have real cubical furniture, even though I had to scrounge for second hand furniture, and had a huge headache trying to get everything sorted and done.

I've discovered that new office furniture can cost a couple of grand just for one person, so it can cost about $10K or so for 6 people. I was also told that we had a budget, then I was told we had no money, then I was told we'll see how much money I could save with using used furniture.

The reason why the big run around was because the plan was to stick us in there "temporarily" for two years, so they didn't want to spend too much. Well, two years is a long time, and, as one of my co-workers commented, things that are "temporary" around here tend to become permanent. That's just how things work. I might as well make it as comfortable as possible for everyone.

I am a little worried about germs as we are in a hospital, and I've been told that there are patients on our floor, but probably on the other side of the building, as it looks like there are mainly offices where we are. Nonetheless, there will be a bottle of antiseptic living permanently in our room, as long as we're sojourned there.

Back to the room. It's nice to be working in a cube farm again. I know that people sometimes complain about working in cube farms, but for me, it's a luxury. The last 5.5 years, I've been working in open rooms, so there is absolutely no privacy. That normally doesn't bother me, but it does become a little inconvenient when I'm trying to speak with someone a little privately about something. Plus, everyone can hear everything where there are no walls, or even half-walls, so everyone is in everyone else's business. Even when we're all working, it's really distracting to hear other people talk; this is when I turn up my music.

And after being a bottom dweller for 2.5 years, it's really nice to see the sun again. And the rain.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Someone loves their dog


This looks like a Lost Dog poster, but it's only an owner showing his/her love for the dog. LOL!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Too much stuff


I heard this on the radio the other day. The DJ was reading people's comments online about the fire that is raging through Southern California, and he came across this person's comments...
In nearby Escondido, Susan Healey returned after two days with friends to a house unscathed except for heavy soot in the swimming pool.

"I don't think after something like this you're ever not different," the middle-school teacher said. "I had two days to think about, what are the most important things in my house? And they all fit in my car. I realize now how much junk I have."
It got me thinking, are there things that I can live without? The answer is yes. I posed this question to Hubby, and we came to the conclusion that we both could fit everything that was important to us in our one car. So, is it necessary to have so many things? And the things that we insist on holding on to, and are things "that might be useful one day", or are they really "junk"?

Certainly in this world of consumerism, we have the ability to obtain items when we want, but how often do we really question if it's really needed? And similarly, are we holding on to things that are simply collecting dust, and could either be reused or recycled by someone else? And did we really need to buy that item in the first place? Not until we are forced to think about it will we know.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lemonade???

To my loyal readers, I apologize for not blogging lately. It's not that I don't have anything to say, I always have something to say: I'm very opinionated, and have strange thoughts, and unusual interests. Just ask Hubby. I've been pretty busy: last week, we had visitors stay over at our house; I was dealing with my pain in the butt; work was busy; Evil Homework is, well, there.

Well, said visitors are gone, my pain in the butt is almost gone, I'm glad I'm actually going back to the gym again, and work is still busy.

Anyways, I've been in panic mode with my school project because I have about 6 months left to finish everything. We are (my best guess) after 2 years, only about 1/2 to 2/3 done, no more than that. I recently had a kind of an epiphany about it.

Lemme explain where I'm coming from with the though first. My current career goal is to move into Project Management. Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger, and while technology still interests me, I don't have the same drive and energy as I once did to keep my skills current, so I'm moving towards more soft skills.

Don't get me wrong, being a Project Manager in IT still means that you need to stay on top of the technology, but it also means that you pay less attention to the technical details, because quite frankly, they are for someone else to worry about.

Anyway, back to the epiphany.

I just realised that how I should be treating the whole school project thing at this point is pretending that I'm a project manager whose been hired to get this train wreck completed on time. And I am approaching the project, and especially my clients, with this attitude. After all, my real job will throw me into situations like this eventually, I might as well start here and get some practice.

Really, nothing much has changed, but my attitude. If you have lemons, make lemonade. I've finally figured out how to make the lemonade. But as my attitude has changed, so has my approach to my dilemma.

While I'm still not happy with the progress, I did have a very long talk with my clients, and I think they finally (I hope) realise what my frustrations were all along. I'm not holding my breath to see if I did get through to them, because, well, sometimes when you try to convince someone of something, some people just never get it. I'm just going to take it one day at a time.

After this revelation, I did feel less burdened and less anxious. My unease hasn't gone away completely, but I am at least feeling a little bit better. However, I've been down this same path before, so I'm trying to be positive about it all. Attitude is key this time around.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

And the verdict is...

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction.

Well, my chiropractor called it a SI Joint sprain, but it's really an inflammation. The picture show exactly where my pain the the butt is, but on my left side.

As much as I am glad to have this figured out, it also means that I need to take it easy for a while, definitely no or little exercise. Not exactly what I want; I need to exercise some, if only to regulate my stress a bit. However, I want to make certain that this heals properly, and that I can maintain it so that it doesn't happen again.

Short term pain for long term gain. Or so I tell myself.

I'm sad, I know.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Gobble Gobble!

For those of you who've read my last blog post and/or seen my stressed out Facebook status messages the past week, and have contacted me asking about me, I thank you!

I figured since today is Thanksgiving, that I will list all the things that I am thankful for. Sometimes we tend to focus so much on the negatives of our lives that we forget that we are very fortunate in so many ways. Here's my list:

  • I'm thankful for the bestest husband in the whole wide world. Not only does he cook for me, puts down the toilet seat and helps me clean the house, but he also puts up a lot from me, and puts up with my whining, ill-humours and is always there rooting for me. Even after the Really-Embarrassing-Moment on Wednesday, he didn't make me feel stupid and bought me chocolate, and that helped a lot
  • I'm thankful for my parents, though they still drive me up the wall (especially my dad) that I know they will always be there for me no matter what happens.
  • I'm thankful that I'm in a stable job, that will allow me to do some splurge shopping, like the cute dark brown leather Roots flat bag that I got today. (Whoops!)
  • I'm thankful that I have people around who care that I'm stressed out and asked how I am doing
  • I'm thankful that I'm able to do Evil Homework. I have the means and the money to get the education I want, even though it wasn't how I expected to be, and once I have that piece of paper is in my hand, I will pretty much have forgotten all the blood, sweat and tears that went into getting it.
  • I'm even thankful for the big pain in the butt, because of it, I haven't been sitting very much, which is a big relief for my upper back problems. But seriously, I'm thankful that I have easy access and can afford to have someone to look and fix my health problems, not everyone has that luxury.
There's more, I know but that's what I can think of off the top of my head for now. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Update on me...

I had posted this as my status on Facebook yesterday:
Irene is frustrated. Irene had a frustrating week. Stoopid people. Stoopid body. Stoopid Evil Homework. Sigh.
Yes, I had a very frustrating week last week. And it really wasnt' one thing in particular, it was a lot of little things.

Work: I'm dealing with a space crunch, and it's looking like Plan A won't work. Plan A was to move into a new room. I was going to do it later, but I decided to step up the time line as we had more people coming in very soon. To make a long story short, the room I'm moving into is mess, there is half-put-together furniture in there, and I don't know when the rest will be done. I dearly would like to yell at someone, but she is on vacation. I have to wait until Tuesday to discuss Plan B.

Body: Not only now do I have to contend with a constantly sore upper back, but my left hip has decided to give me problems. I can't sit for too long, and standing's not fun either. I had two meetings on Friday, and I was standing up for both of them. I don't see my chiropractor until Tuesday. The pain's manageable, but barely. I've learned what a piriformis is, and have been stretching that, but I'm not 100% certain that is the problem (or the whole problem). I've been telling everyone that I have a pain in the butt. Lame, I know.

However, until I can get this hip thing under control, I'm not going to the gym. As much as I don't like going to the gym, I hate the feeling of my body feeling flabby and me feeling like a slug more.

Evil Homework: I hate it. I have to do it. Enough said.

Rest of Life: I had a really embarrassing episode on Wednesday (not at work), and was throughly tramatised for a couple of days. I had a good cry on Hubby's shoulder, and ate chocolate, and went for some more H&M retail therapy (I have to stay away from that place!), so I do feel better. I was hit pretty hard with PMS too, and coupled with a lot of extra stress, eating too much chocolate, not being able to go to the gym to work off stress, my mood is a little low of late. This last week has been very off for me.

Blergh.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Life is interesting...

Well, I've been on Facebook for a few months, and here is what I've discovered so far:
  • The world is indeed a small place. Some of my Friends know some of my other Friends, but I know it wasn't through me.
  • Looking at the list of people from my high school graduating class, I sadly have little recollection of most of them beyond their name and/or face, and some I don't remember at all
  • A lot of my high school graduating class have young kids. Not a big deal in of itself, as we're all in our mid-thirties. But it's weird to think that we're actually ADULTS with ankle-biters. I still am not there mentally yet.
  • I'm still trying to not be sucked into this. I don't feel like I'm an obsessive Facebook user, but I am on it more often than I want to be. I blame L in Cowtown and T and LA. Yes, you two know who you are =P

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Manager's Cheatsheet

This is more of a reminder for me than anything else.

However, I had to laugh at this one:
48. Respond to your correspondence within a reasonable amount of time. You don't have to be chained to your Inbox, but make sure you respond to emails within a few hours whenever possible.
While I do my darnedest to attend to every email that slithers into my Inbox, you will be lucky if you hear from me within a few days. Granted, sometimes I reply right away, but other times, I don't have the answer yet, or the reply complicated or requires me to work on something first, both which takes time to do. I'm actually not at my desk for a good part of most days. (However, I am conscious of the fact that people are expecting a reply, so I really try to keep it to 5-business days maximum of not replying.)

And if there are any manger-types out there, is there anything you want to add, or disagree with on the list? I'm still a newbie at this game, and learning from others is always a plus.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Truth in humour...


Click on the picture above to see the cartoon in full. This is what I face every day. I've been in every position except customer, so you can understand the frustration of trying to build software for people who can't explain what they want properly, even though they think they are doing an awesome job with explaining it to you. Coupled with the fact that a lot of times the customer doesn't really know what they need, but think they do, and you stay stuck in the first frame indefinitely.

Part of the problem is that the customer wants something built ASAP because that's what they understand. They don't understand that there is a lot of planning, designing, meetings, more meetings, re-designing, even more meetings to get to the last point. It requires a lot of up front work, a lot of documentation, a lot of communication, and very little actual product being coded. They just want something NOW, and usually for a lot less than they should be paying for.

But to be fair, it's not just the customer, it's also those other people in the process who make the same mistakes. Not enough up-front work, they jump into creating something before they really understand what the customer really needs. After all, that's what geeks love to do best. I'm certainly guilty of that.

So for you non-IT folks out there, this cartoon illustrates quite well some the frustrations that we IT folks face. Well sort of. There are also the IT-By-Accident types... (don't get me started!)

Friday, September 21, 2007

I can't breathe

This happens to me twice a year, and no, it's not an allergy (unless you call being temperature sensitive an allergy). I've pinpointed it to the weather, and in particular, during the spring and fall when the weather starts being schizophrenic.

When the temperature drops or rises to a certain range, my sinuses decide to start plugging up. However, it only plugs up enough so I can't breathe properly, but not substantial enough to blow out. So I'm in a perpetual state of misery.

Joy.

(You should feel doubly sorry for Hubby, who gets to listen to my constant whining.)

Stop Your Sclaundres of Britney!

I sadly find this hilariously funny, but I may be the only one. I don't read Middle English, but I was still able to understand it. It certainly brought a laugh to my hum-drum life. I also particularly love the fact that a lot of the readers of this blog respond in kind (that is, they also use Middle English).

Heh.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Good Pain?!?!?

For those of you who don't know, I have really bad upper back, neck and shoulder problems. I go see a chiropractor every 1-2 times a month and a massage therapist (RMT) twice a month. In fact, my chiropractor has mentioned that my back is one of the worst he's ever seen (not the worst, but close).

Anyways, my old RMT had decided to quit practice to go back to school, so I saw a new RMT on Tuesday. She does deep tissue massage, like my old RMT, but unlike my old RMT, she does it even deeper.

So yeah, it hurt when she did it, and my muscles hurt even now (As an aside, I was quite surprise how such a tiny woman had so much strength in her hand, I sure don't!). She explained to me that what I'm going to feel afterwards is a bit of muscle bruising, or "good pain".

Good pain my foot. Pain is pain, it's never good. It's been about two days, and I'm still feeling it. The only reason why I put up with it is that after the pain subsides, my muscles do feel better. I'm just waiting for the day when it will go away for good. Sigh.

Monday, September 17, 2007

KOOKY: Housecleaning

(I'm actually quite busy at work, but the busyness is pretty routine, and frankly, not worth mentioning.)

Today I cracked and cleaned the fridge and microwave.

Between 15 people, we all share a bar fridge and microwave. The fridge is in another room, while not so conveniently located, of late has spared me smelling the molding food that sat in the fridge for who knows how long. Unfortunately, every time I walked into the room, I could immediately smell the moldy food. What's worse is the fridge was waaaaay across the room, that's how bad the smell was.

Today I snapped.

I gave everyone until mid-afternoon to claim what was theirs. Then I went in, dumped pretty much everything, and gave the fridge and the microwave a good scrub. All during my lunch hour.

I'm much happier now.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

La Belle Auberge: The actual anniversary dinner

Last night hubby and I went on our 5th anniversary dinner. Granted, our actual anniversary was the week before, but we had just come back from Paris, I was jet-lagged, and hubby was jet-lagged and sick. After some deliberation, I had decided to go to La Belle Auberge for dinner.

I've only been to this place twice before, and it was a good 10-15 years ago. However, I've always remembered the exceptional food on my two previous experiences, and after taking a quick perusal of the menu online, we'd decided to go.

I have to say that the food was absolutely phenomenal! We decided to go with a 7-course set menu, and although a bit pricey, was totally worth it! I highly recommend the place. Note that this restaurant is about 40 minutes south of Vancouver, and you must cross a bridge and go through a tunnel to get there, but it is worth the trip, really! 10 out of 10!

Menu:
1. Amuse Bouche - this turned out to be a Feta and Spinach Quiche, some chicken thing, and Chilled Tomato Soup. Best quiche I've ever had, and the soup tasted so fresh and light!









2. Lobster Bisque with Seared Scallop - You could really taste the lobster stock, and it wasn't as heavy as other lobster bisques I've had in the past.















3. Me: Origino Tomato Terrine with Basil Goats Cheese - I hate raw tomatoes with a passion, but I thought I'd give it a go. It was very yummy and light. BTW, I still hate raw tomatoes, and the raw cucumber, but I ate it! The truffles on the lower right of the picture, not to my taste
















Hubby: Roasted Arctic Char with Mushroom Broth
















4. Salade Waldorf with Blue Cheese “Macaroon” - The Salade Waldorf was yummy, even for a mayonnaise-type of food (my stomach doesn't like mayonnaise). It's really a fruit salad that you're seeing, great for a summer menu. The blue cheese thing was "interesting".
















5. Lemon sorbet - to cleanse the palate. Very refreshing!
















6. Me: Wild Boar with Morel Sauce - The waitress said that because this is a multi-course menu, the portions were resized so that there wasn't as much food per dish. She lied. My main dish was huge, and had a lot of different flavours and textures going on.
















Hubby: Bison Loin with Burgundy Sauce
















7. Me: Chocolate, Hazelnut and Passion fruit Mousse Cake - note that the passion fruit was supposed to be a waterfall, but the liquid broke and I couldn't fix it for the picture, but I did see it!
















Hubby: Tiramisu

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A few comments on our Paris trip


I wanted to write down some of my thoughts about Paris, outside the sights and attractions that we visited.

Metro system: Hubby did some surfing around pre-trip and found lots of comments about how great the Metro system was. Having been to London, we found the Metro system to be pretty similar in terms of how it works. However, we were a bit frustrated with the service. There were at times no one around to help us out. There was someone in our group that got stuck in the turnstile and we had to figure out how to get that person un-stuck. When we asked for help, people weren't' very helpful (I'm told this may be a French attitude, people are just not very helpful to strangers), or simply not there. I didn't know that I had to ask for a Metro map; in London, you can pick one up at any station. As navigable as the Metro system is, it's still daunting without a map (click on picture above to see what it looks like).

The Metro system itself isn't as efficiently laid out as I would have liked. It annoyed me that if I wanted to go from west to east in a straight line, I would had to take three different lines. It probably was faster for me to walk above ground, but I didn't want to get more lost than I already was. Paris is a very walkable city, but you do need a map. On the last day when I was out and about alone, I had a Metro map in one hand, and map of Paris with all the sights in another, and that helped me navigate through the city.

I was, however, impressed with the fact that there were people movers in between some of the station tunnel links.

Museum Pass: This we found to be a great idea, but it does require you to plan ahead and do a bit of marathon museum visiting, plus it doesn't include the cost of audio guides. The biggest plus is that you get to skip the queue for tickets and go straight in. We were able to do that everywhere except at Notre Dame. I noted that when I flashed my Museum Pass at the ticket check, that not everyone one took a close look at the date (you write the date on when you first start using it), so it may be possible to sneak in somewhere once your pass has expired and you managed to get a lazy ticket checker. Plus, most places will allow you back in more than once, which is nice as the gift shops were annoyingly inside and not outside.

Versailles: You cannot see everything in one day, it's exhausting and overwhelming. While this is partially covered in the Museum Pass, I'd actually suggest the alternative instead: There is a one-day pass that you can purchase at the RER-C stations that will be cheaper, especially if you are going to visit Marie Antoinette's estates. Buy the one-day pass on a weekday, and that will get you the following: train ride there and back, entrance to the main Chateau and Marie Antoinette's estates plus the audioguide. Go and visit the Chateau first, then the Grand Trianon then Marie Antoinette's estates. MA's estate also has some very nice gardens that you can get lost in. (There is a weekend pass that is a bit pricer that includes the main gardens, but trust me, doing it this way will be more fun and relaxing.)

On the second day, try to visit in the summer during the weekends. This is when they turn the fountains on in the gardens. The gardens themselves are MASSIVE, and the fountains, while already nice to look at, are even nicer when they are turned on. You will want to spend a whole day just hanging out at the gardens, trust me. You will have to pay to go see the gardens when the fountains are flowing, but it's totally worth the trip. (As a side note, I am pretty indifferent to gardens and fountains, they bore me. I'd rather pave over our own lawn instead of taking care of it, so you can better appreciate how mind-blowing this place is to have impressed me that much!)

For Versailles, definitely check out their website for information to plan your trip, as not everything is shown outside of the summer months.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Paris Pictures!


Here are the highlights and pictures from our Paris trip. Items with a "*" were the favourite place I'd visited that day.

Day 1

Fly to Paris! We stayed at the Hilton that was about 1.5 blocks from the Eiffel Tower, so you'll be seeing lots of Eiffel Tower pics.

Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
  • Tombeau de Napoleon
  • Musée National Picasso - not that I don't appreciate the artwork, but I will never in a million years understand abstract and modern art.
  • * Musée Carnavalet - What I really liked the most about this museum is that it's in two large houses. I really like experiencing what it may have been like living in Paris as a rich person many, many decades ago. The little gardens around the houses were also quite nice. The artwork and objects are also of some interest as it outlines the history of Paris. Best of all, this museum was free! The neighbourhood in which it's situated in is also nice (Marais district)
  • Avenue des Champs-Élysées
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Le Tour Eiffel
Day 5
* Chateau de Versailles - Main Chateau - There is no way you can spend just one day here, which is why we decided to go back a second day.

Day 6
* Chateau de Versailles - Versailles Garden and Marie Antoinette Estates - The gardens were my favourite part of the entire place, and we got to see the fountains when they were turned on (they play Classical music through hidden speakers while the fountains are on - very elegant). I would have loved to bring a row boat out onto the Grand Canal, or to even walk around it to see how long it would have taken to walk around it. It was truly the nicest park I've ever seen or been to.

Day 7

Day 8


Day 9
View the photos - Click!

Clip of the fountains at Versailles

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Five years!!

Yup, today is our fifth wedding anniversary. Five years. That's a long time.

We don't have any plans to celebrate, hubby got sick on the last day of our trip, and frankly, we still a bit jet lagged. But hopefully we can go out later tonight to celebrate.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back from vacation!!

I'm baaaacccckk! Paris was awesome! I'm soooo jetlagged. Once my laundary is done, I'm crawling into bed. Stay tuned for details and pics!

Monday, August 20, 2007

I'm going to Pareeeeeeeee!

So after frantic packing, buying things last minute, working on homework (which is still not done) and work-work until the last moment, we are finally going to Paris!!! Yayayayayayayay!

We'll be back Aug 30 (yes, it's not that long of a trip), and hopefully I will have lots to tell you all and lots of pics to show you!

Au revoir!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Paris: T minus 2

So it's two days before Paris, and I still have to:
  • Do laundry
  • Pack (haven't started)
  • Tie up stuff for work (there's something major that's planned for Sunday, I may be pulling out hairs then)
  • Figure out what we're doing (cracking open ye olde guidebook)
  • Get evil homework to a point where I can show stuff to people
  • Get copies of my documentation online for backup
On top of that, family is in town, so I won't have time to do nuthin! And I've looked at a half-dozen weather sites and they all tell me something different! I'll need to take half my wardrobe to be properly clothed! Bah!

Stress, stress, stress...

People, stop asking if I'm excited about my trip, I haven't had a half decent minute to think about it properly yet!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hubby's fight against cancer - BC Cancer Foundation's Tour of Courage

Please support Hubby as he rides to raise funds and brings awareness to blood cancer research.

And now, a message from Hubby...

******

On September 23, I will be participating in a community bike ride in support of the BC Cancer Foundation's Tour of Courage with special guest Lance Armstrong. The money raised will support leading-edge research into improving diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

For this inaugural event in Vancouver, I will be riding on behalf of my friend Laleh, who has been battling and suffering from a rare and deadly disease, Adrenocortical Carcinoma (ACC) for the past two years. Because of its rarity, ACC does not get a lot of research focus or awareness. It is usually diagnosed at a very late stage, when metastases have already developed in other organs, and in Laleh's case, her liver.

Please consider offering your support by making a pledge to the BC Cancer Foundation, and by praying for Laleh.

You can access my personal page at the link below, where you can make a pledge to support the BC Cancer Foundation.

http://acf.convio.net/goto/David.Eng


Below you will also find a link to the ATAC Research Project, one of the few research projects dedicated to ACC.

http://www.atacfund.org/
http://www.atacfund.org/video.html/

Thank you for your attention and support,

Dave

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thriller!!

1,500 plus CPDRC inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, Cebu, Philippines were taught by the prison guards the dance steps to Michael Jackson's Thriller. I particularly like the guy in drag, too funny!



Thriller!!

1,500 plus CPDRC inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, Cebu, Philippines were taught by the prison guards the dance steps to Michael Jackson's Thriller. I particularly like the guy in drag, too funny!




Saturday, August 04, 2007

Movie Review: Bourne Ultimate

Hubby and I saw the final installment of the Bourne movies today. I really liked this last movie. The plot was simple, but it was fleshed out well, so it wasn't boring. The action was well choreographed, and the script only let out so much to have you keep guessing as to what may happen next. The length of the movie was just right. The CIA didn't look quite as stupid in this one as they did in the last one.

And yes, Jason Bourne finds out who he really is in the end. In fact, they only put in what was necessary about how the whole thing started with Jason Bourne and what his true identity was, and nothing more. I really liked that, any more details and it would have detracted from the overall plot.

As an aside, I really liked Julia Stiles hair colouring in this movie, I was thinking about doing the same for my next birthday colour stint. Hubby noticed that none of the air bags deployed in any of the scenes with car crashes (and there were lots).

Anyhoo, I give this movie a 9 out of 10. Well done Bourne.

Rebranding Lotusland?

I read this article today about how the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) wants to re-brand the area name to "Metro Vancouver". While I understand and agree with their point of view (after all, I've gotten blank looks before from people when I've mentioned the GVRD to them), I still think Vancouver and the entire GVRD should become a "mega-city". A Mega-city in my definition is a city that incorporates their suburbs into one main city. Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary are all mega-cities under my definition. After all, the entire region share a lot of resources already, why not just go all the way and incorporate everything properly into one city? It certainly would cut out a lot of inefficiencies.

I did some poking around on Wikipedia. According to this list, Vancouver is actually eighth on the list of the 100 largest cities in Canada. (I think there are way more than 578,041 in the city of Vancouver itself, but let's just say it's true for argument's sake). I've been to Ottawa and Calgary, and trust me, these places are not at densely populated as Vancouver is.

However, when you look at this list, Vancouver comes in third in terms of population size. And this is what everyone, including the media, quotes. But then they would be incorrect. The city of Vancouver is actually smaller than the city of Winnipeg.

Are you starting to see my point of view? Okay, maybe not, cause I have very "unique" ways of seeing thing and don't always articulate myself very well. Or maybe it's a pride thing. Whatever.

For me, it makes sense economically and demographically to do so. However, I don't think this will ever happen. I feel that the natives here like their borders too much and trying to get buy-in for a mega-city will be near impossible with a hurtle like that. Plus, the unions will not like having their members' jobs obliterated, because, well, we don't need job duplicates in one big city like we already have with a bunch of smaller regions. I love the fact that BC has such a stupidly strong unionized mentality. My tax dollar being used more efficiently apparent means squat in the eyes of the unions.

So Vancouver will remain Vancouver, and the areas around Vancouver will remain their own entities, unless they share Metro Vancouver resources. Same, same, but different. Not unlike the place where I work at. Gotta love it.

The nice man who is pictured in this blog is Robert Burnaby, the man whom the City of Burnaby (where I live) is named after. In my elementary school, they used to have his picture up on the wall and I would stare at it all the time. I know, I was a strange kid.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

KOOKY: Meet Errol

Today I got my Crackberry, it's the Curve model. I named my Crackberry Errol, after the Weasley family's pet owl in the Harry Potter books. Hey, it delivers me my mail (okay, my email).

I've been realizing since starting this Team Lead position that I've been dragged into more and more meetings. This means that I'm not at my desk putting out fires, er, dealing with issues as they come in. This week alone, I had one all day meeting, and another day with about 5-6 back to back meetings. This is becoming a too-common occurrence for me. So in order to feel like I'm at least I tiny bit on top of things, I caved and got Errol.

Errol makes me accessible to my email and calendar. Errol also makes me accessible to other people 24/7/365. And while I am told otherwise, there will always be an unwritten expectation that I will be answering the phone when it rings at 3 am. Sigh.

Oh well, off to go figure Errol out. He's my new best friend.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

(For those of you reading this, the cover on the left is the UK version, which Canada gets, and not the US cover).

Warning, there be spoilers below!

I got home yesterday at about 2pm, and the new Harry Potter book was sitting on my doorstep. So I pretty much dumped all good intentions on doing homework (I'm already a week behind where I want to be), and had a 12-hour marathon read.

Here are my impressions. Things I didn't really like:
  • JKR (as some other book writers have complained), isn't a good writer. And she isn't. She's a very good story teller, but her scenes and chapters could have been tighter and better plotted out. Sure, she tied up her loose ends, but she also crammed in too many details. The whole looking-for-the-Horcruxes and the Battle at Hogwarts both could have been compressed plot-wise, and a lot of details could have been left out or combined.
  • When Harry et al found out about the Deathly Hallows, I was thinking, oh boy, JKR is once again is introducing another idea, and since this is the final book (so she says), she has to tie things up quickly. That annoyed me.
  • Convenient plot devices:
    • Harry seems to conveniently "forget" about things all the time. For someone whose always so curious, he tends to be non-curious at the right time, especially around Dumbledore. Of course, when he does ask the wrong questions (as opposed to the right questions), he gets non-answers from Dumbledore. That just makes Harry look stupid, and I don't buy the "Harry-regrets-the-questions -that-he-never-asked- Dumbledore-because- he-was-being-a-selfish -and-self-centred-git" reasoning. It's just too convenient for JKR.
    • Speaking of convenient amnesia, why didn't anyone point out that even before Harry got to Hogwarts, that they had a different DA teacher every year (well, before book 6 anyways)? The adults certainly should have mentioned it. Fred and George I believe would have mentioned it.
    • Snape's secret: Well, a lot of people had figured that he was in love with Lily, so it wasn't a huge surprise there for me. I agree with JKR's reasoning for killing him off, but unrequited love is one of the oldest plot devices in the world, and I couldn't stop myself from rolling my eyes during the reveal of Snape's secret. I really like Snape as a character, but I wished that there was a different reason for his reason to turn to Dumbledore. But even that aside, I wish Harry felt a little more empathy towards Snape, particularly since Harry represented to Snape the persons he loved and hated the most. I didn't feel that Snape was redeemed in my mind. When Snape asked to look at Harry's eyes before he died, that was sad, but at the same time, I thought it was pathetic of JKR to plot it out that way.
  • The last couple of chapters and the epilogue was too cheesy. Yes, I know that people died, but it was still cheesy. And over-the-top dramatics. I can't imagine it unfolding like how it did with all the dramatics.
Things that I did like:
  • The whole mood of the book. It was a depressing read, but it was meant to be depressing. Even the moments of levity didn't lift my mood. The themes that JKR brought out was very adult in nature. Yes, a lot of people died, but life isn't fair that way. This series stopped being a kid's book by book 4 in my opinion
  • I didn't get where Neville got the sword from until this morning. He got it from the Sorting Hat (duh!). I really like how JKR developed his character.
  • JKR had the balls to kill off good people as well as the baddies (and she let a lot of the baddies live). Life doesn't always work the way you want it to.
My other comments:
  • I get how when Lily sacrificed herself, she had inadvertently put a charm on Harry protecting him, so the Killing Curse bounced off of him the first time. I'm still a little fuzzy about how this affect Voldermort and the whole circular reasoning that Dumbledore was explaining to Harry, that was confusing (it was 1 AM, and I was tired!). Someone please explain this to me!
Overall, I give this book a 6.75 out of 10. JKR really had to tie up a lot of things and it was evident in the book. Probably my biggest complaint is that JKR tries to cram too much in the the overall plotline, and because she gave herself restricting parametres (7 books in combination with revealing bits of information over time), the books aren't as well written as they should be.

But that doesn't stop me from being a fan. I'm waiting for the soft cover book box set to come out so I can buy it =D

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I sold my car


Sigh. Today I sold my car. Well, to be exact, Hubby sold my car, and I was only there because the car is was in my name, and I had to sign some papers. Big kudos for Hubby for setting everything up, going through the process of responding to people and completing the sale.

I would love to get another car, but we've found that 95% of the time, we're using only one car at at time, so there was no point keeping and paying for two cars. I will miss my car a bit cause it drove very well and was a fun car to drive. Ah well, life goes on. The money certainly will go towards a good cause: paying down debt!

My car was a 1998 model, and I was quite surprised that it retained such a high value when we checked the black book value. We managed to get $300 below asking, which was awesome, I was expecting to get way less. More money is always good, so I'm not complaining.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Seattle to Portland Mania

As I type this, Hubby is biking his way from Seattle to Portland in the Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. The length of the trip is about 200 miles, and while he will be doing it over a two-day period, some will cover the distance in one day.

I think he's nuts to do something like this, but it does sound like fun. He went down with a group of guys that he normally road bikes with and there will be about 9,000 people! Good times.

Movie: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

(I went to go see Harry Potter late last night and didn't get home until 1 am. This is a brain dump of my impressions, before I forget it all. I also may have some details mixed up from the book, I'm only halfway finished reading it again. Those of you from H! who read my comments there, what is typed below is pretty much the same)

Warning: Lots of spoilers below, and even if you've read the book but not have seen the movie, there's a lot that was changed around and/or left out in the movie, so at least watch the movie first if you don't want to know what happens.

I think David Yates did a good job, especially setting the tone of the movie. There were a few laughs, but overall the book was quite dark, and the movie reflected that. Because the book is sooooo long and full of detail, the script writers had to make adjustments and either gloss over certain plot points, change them around or eliminate them completely. All in all, the script itself was mostly plausible, but things will never truly make sense unless you've read the book at least once.

However, I really wished they did a two-parter or made the movie a bit longer, as there was so much detail that I would have liked to seen. As much as David Yates tried to restrain the pace, there still was a feeling that there was so much going on that the movie felt a bit rushed.

Things I liked:
  • Dorlorus Umbridge was really well casted. Imedla Staunton had her "hem hem"s down to T, and I felt like punching her from the beginning. I also loved her pink cat room.
  • I think they did a pretty good job with Luna Lovegood. She's always described as talking with a dreamy-like, sing-song voice, and I always felt that Luna never was quite there mentally. That came through well for me.
  • Bellatrix, also well casted. She's one nasty piece of work
  • How they portray the Extensible Ears, much better than how I imagined it
  • I'm glad the fight scene was short; it was well played out in the movie. That part was particularly tedious to read in the book and I always felt that JKR should have taken some details out of this section of the book.
  • The Department of Mystery was how I imagined it to be. The Ministry of Magic set was better than how I had imagined it
  • I liked how they made Cho the snitch, it does help show their relationship fizzle (I also was never a very big Cho fan, so didn't see what Harry ever saw in her besides a pretty face)
  • We saw hints of Ginny's true magical power capabilities. I think we'll be seeing way more of that from her in Book 7.
  • Dudley's costume, that was hilarious! Harry Melling looked like he was having way too much fun playing the role, even after he was kissed by a Dementor
  • Even in the brief flashback, I thought Young Snape was hot! and not a greaseball at all
  • I'm glad they decided to develop Neville's character more in the movie. I also think he will have a large part to play in Book 7
  • I was really impressed with the special effects in the Ministry fight scene. Kudos to those people.


Things I didn't like:
  • They took out Mrs. Black's shrieking portrait. That's one of the things I did want to see
  • I'm hoping that they do something with Ginny dating life in Movie 6, she shouldn't have been shown still pining for Harry, but should be "over him" already. And her characterization in the book was much stronger, but that wasn't shown at all in the movie. I particularly wished that they kept the Dungbomb scene in.
  • They did a poor job of not explaining why Harry was able to see thing through the eyes of the snake when it attacked Mr. Weasley
  • Not showing that Petunia got that Howler from Dumbledore. There's more going on with her than meets the eye, I think, and will probably be reveled in book 7
  • That they didn't show Harry not building up his anger at the beginning because he felt left out of the loop and was kept wondering why no one did anything about Voldermort (he didn't know what they were saying about him in the Daily Prophet until they he got to Grimmauld Place)
  • They cut out Quiddich completely from the movie
  • The scene where Hargid was explaining his trip to go see the giants was weak, not how it was scripted, but how it played out
  • Snape was totally out of character when Umbridge was questioning his teach abilities. What happened with the snarl? I get what David Yates was trying to show, but I wished Snape stayed in character for that scene.

Other comments:
  • I think that changing the scene in the movie where Voldermort does enter Harry's brain, the script is trying to gloss over the fact that Voldermort doesn't understand love, and hence covers in the book the whole speech that Dumbledore gave at the end to Harry
  • I did catch one continuity error. Hermonie had no trouble saying Voldermort's name at the beginning of the movie, yet at Hog's Head, she had to force herself to say it. (She should have been saying You-know-who up to this point)
  • No mention of how Kretcher went to Bellatrix and Narcissa to tell them abou the OoTP. Not a big sticking point IMO. How they ended up working around it was plausible.
  • I'm a loser. I love London, and loved recognizing the city in the movie. I like Westminster Station's look (it's one of the nicer Tube stations that I've seen), and was wondering what scene they were filming there when I heard that they did film there. I actually passed through London a month before they filmed that scene.

Well, that's all I remember for now. I'm certain that more will come to me later. All in all, a good movie, and probably the best one so far.

Movie rating: 8 out of 10

Sunday, July 08, 2007

KOOKY: Leadership Training


Last Friday, I went to a professional development workshop on leadership that's put on by HR. It was aptly titled "Moving From Peer to Supervisor to Leader". The moment I was promoted, I wanted to take a leadership workshop to help train me to be a better leader. I already heard about this workshop, so I promptly asked my manager if I could sign up.

I've always felt that being a leader in the workplace isn't always an intuitive thing for many people. I got the promotion through my hard work as an IT person, but I understand computers, not people. Hence, understanding how to positively communicate, supervise and motivate people can be an elusive notion to many. I thought it would be a good idea to try to get some training before I made too many mistakes or started going down incorrect paths. After all, how many of us has complained, griped or resented decisions or actions that management makes? I know I have in the past.

One thing I was looking for was how to motivate people who were under me. I know that everyone has a different way of doing things that are not my way. However, I didn't know how to move beyond that point. I didn't know how to motivate people properly. What may motivate me may not motivate others in the same way. And I certainly didn't want to be a nagging mother to those whom I supervise.

Two ideas were presented to me:
1) Personal Coaching Styles Inventory - This is "a self-inventory where people designate how they want to give and receive feedback and advice". Basically, it's a tool that tells you what your communication style is. While I don't think any one person fits in to one particular style, most of us tend towards one or two particular styles more so than the others. We did a self-assessment to determine what our styles were, and did a presentation of each one (there are four).

The main style that I fell in, describes about 80% of how I communicate and think. And going through the other styles, I can definitely see where my manager falls as well as one of my subordinates. What was really nice was that there were people in the workshop who fell into each category. I got to see how they approach things, and learned to appreciate better their good points instead of just focusing on their weaknesses (which is something I tend to do, according to this tool). This definitely gave me a lot to think about.

2) Legacy Leadership - The image at the top is a basic summary of of the model. Our instructor said that most leadership/management books/models/theories out there will fall underneath at least one of the five Best Practices. You basically need all five to have a balanced leadership. There were discussions around these principles to illustrate how we can action each one out.

All in all, I felt that it was a very worthwhile workshop. Unfortunately, Friday was a bad time to take off from work (but when is it ever a good time to take off from work?). There is a part two to the workshop, which is in a couple of week. I'll let you know how that goes.

Bad Food Weekend

Well, it was really good food, but having all that good food at once can be kinda gross. Plus, I've must've gained 10 pounds or so.

Saturday for lunch, we went to Saffron for their lunch buffet. They have a $10.95 all you can eat lunch buffet every day. I hear during the weekdays, the place is absolutely packed with office workers and you normally need a reservation. Very yummy Indian food, definitely one of the better places that I've tried so far.

Saturday night, we had people over for dinner, so Hubby decides to pick up Memphis Blues' sampler platter. There's enough food for about 5-6 people. We had 3 adults and 1 kid. Needless to say, we will be eating leftover pork for a bit. They have the best tasting ribs around.

After that, we went to La Casa Gelato for ice cream. Yum! And yes, they really have 212 flavours at any one time. I had Chocolate Chocolate Chip.

Sunday lunch - Memphis Blues leftovers

Sunday Dinner - It was my best friend N's birthday dinner. We went to the Cannary Seafood Restaurant. I really like this place because the food's always consistently good, and they've been around for years, so they know what they're doing. I had the Free Range Chicken (picture at top). What can I say, I'm not a seafood person. But if I did ever feel like fish, I would definitely go there. Hubby and N both had the Chef Special, which was a halibut and salmon combo with shrimp on the side.

Then it was back to La Casa Gelato again. Strawberry Fudge this time around.

Monday lunch will consist of Cannary leftovers. I couldn't stuff any more food into me tonight. For dinner, we will finish off the rest of the pork. See what I mean by a bad food weekend?

For those of you who have never been to any of the above places, or find yourself in Lotusland, GO! You won't be disappointed!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard

I've been itching to watch a movie for a while now. All these movies have been coming out, and I haven't seen a single one.

So anyways, we decided to go see the new Die Hard movie. It wasn't too bad. Here's what I thought:

The Good:
  • The action was really good
  • Timothy Olyphant played an awesome bad guy. It's a shame he's not in bigger roles.
  • Typical cheesy lines you've learn to love from the Die Hard movies
  • Tim Russ made an appearance (although I can't say that this was his best performance, or even good).
The Not-So-Good:
  • Typical cheesy lines you've learn to love from the Die Hard movies
  • Really, the plot was a bit thin and the script not the best written
  • The acting was so-so
Hubby's biggest complaint about the movie was that we didn't find out what they real reason behind the whole "firesale" disaster, not until near the end. I felt that a lot of the plot, up until they reveled the reason behind everything, was just an excuse for all the great action, and entertaining as it was, made me wonder if there was anything more to the story. But everything did tie together in the end, just not very well. In short, I blame the script for mediocre plot-line development.

My verdict: 7 out of 10.

New time!

Whoo hoo! My new time up the Grouse Grind is now 1 hour, 5 mins!

Hubby thinks I could shave off a couple minutes still, as I had more than once had to fix my sock or retie my shoelaces.

Hopefully next time I can do it under an hour (and not swallow bugs en route, I think I must have swallowed at least 3-4 today alone. Yum, protein).