Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How to Have a Successful Career in Your Spare Time: Lesson 2

Lesson #2: Pick Your Partner Wisely
Meet Erik, team captain since 1996.
Having a significant other that doesn't mind that I don't cook or clean, creates flexibility to engage in other pursuits (which, lately, mostly includes working late). He's not home to appreciate these things anyway, since he's typically out for a leisurely ride with the boys. He is an extraordinary human being and a constant source of inspiration, which motivates me to optimize my spare time. Best of all, he lets me be me, which gives me the freedom to conquer the world.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

5760 Minutes to Total Blackberry Recovery

People that don't have blackberries just don't understand. Spoken like an addict...because, I am one. 

I pride myself on my independence. But, secretly, I live with a high degree of dependence on my blackberry. I'm not one of those obsessive compulsive blackberry checkers. I exercise discipline by putting it away during meetings and, in certain special circumstances, during dinner. Still, I must have it with me at all times, even on holidays. 
It tells me what time it is (I don't wear a watch). It tells me where I need to be (I don't have a daytimer) and how to get there (I don't carry maps). It tells me the news (I don't get the paper). It tells me when to get up in the morning (I don't carry an alarm clock on holidays). It enables my employer to reach me, no matter what time it is or where I am. It enables me to access the internet from virtually anywhere, which, in turn, makes it possible for me to fix just about any problem. 
This week, while I was a, blackberry stopped taking power. I tried several solutions, all of which were unsuccessful. In transit, in a foreign country, and without my itinerary, a watch, a map, or a way to communicate. At first, it was difficult to cope. It took a good 5760 minutes before my feeling of frustration turned to one of liberation. I can break the recovery process into four stages. 
Stage One: Confusion and Agitation
I found myself giving my body a pat down, searching for a blackberry fix like a chain smoker searches for a pack of cigarettes. I eventually removed the source of the torture and put the device in the bottom of my bag.
Stage Two: Denial
Every electronics store I passed, I searched for power solutions. A new USB cable. Cellboost batteries. A new adapter. A new plug. I would not accept that I couldn't use my blackberry. There had to be a way to get power into that thing!

Stage Three: Uneasy Acceptance and Adaptation
My empty wallet eventually put an end to my search for power solutions and I had to accept that I would have to wait until I was back in Canada. I began to find alternatives - internet cafe's, public clocks, newspapers. 

Stage Four: Liberation
I can pinpoint almost to the minute the moment at which I was liberated from my blackberry dependence. Having the freedom to choose when to check my email. I guess the world can get by for a little while without an immediate response from me. 
Of course, a relapse is inevitable as I will need to begin using it again for work. Hopefully, this time, I can avoid abusing it. 

Thursday, April 17, 2008

How to Have a Successful Career in Your Spare Time: Lesson 1

Observing my travel and hobby schedule, a friend of mine once said to me 'hey, Tori, how do you find the time to work when you have so much else going on?'. Although work consumes a disproportionately large percentage of my time, I will acknowledge that I have sticky fingers. So, what's the secret? Mostly, it's about prioritizing. Sometimes you need to make tough decisions and be willing to sacrifice certain activities.


Lesson #1: Eat out

Grocery shopping and cooking are an unnecessary drain on your time. 'But eating out is so expensive', you say. After taking into account food spoilage and an appropriate hourly rate for time spent grocery shopping and preparing food, I think you'll find that it can be a bargain. Of course, this could be why my matrimonial prospects are dismal.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Chatty Cathy

Tyler Durden's alter ego coined the term 'single serving friend' to describe the temporary relationships we build with strangers.

My single serving friend en route to New York was a sixty year old airline attendant commuting home after working the Beijing-Chicago flight. I nicknamed her Chatty Cathy. 

She had barely sat down before she started pedalling the jewelry that was inside the small plastic bags that she was pulling out of her bra. It was hard to be sympathetic hearing her stories of what a pain it is to go through customs. Apparently, she actually got searched this time; though they were unable to detect the copious amount of jewelry in her undergarments. 

While I was not in the market for tacky jewelry, the pitch was a useful segue into an entertaining story about a manicure/pedicure/massage party during her layover in China the night before that had been mistaken for an orgy. She insisted it was a misunderstanding, but I wasn't so sure after hearing her compliment the male airline attendant on his hair by telling him she wanted to run her fingers through it. Imagine her surprise when the other attendant serving our cabin turned out to be his wife! 

Forty years as an airline attendant - Chatty Cathy had some fantastic stories and a great outlook on life. When one of the younger attendants started complaining to the senior attendant, Chatty Cathy whispered to me 'she just hasn't figured out how to make her day shorter'. Indeed, I just learned how to make my flight shorter.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Danger is my Middle Name

'You've been selected' says the guard screening passengers in the security line at the Chicago airport. 'Coincidentally', my four travelling companions were also selected.

The flight that we initially planned to take was among the five hundred that were cancelled by American Airlines. The good news was that there were a range of other flight options to New York and we were travelling light. The bad news was (understandably) that five people (with unusual names) booking a flight to New York less than two hours before its departure and checking no bags registers as a red flag in the airline world.

Translation: full service security screen.

The thorough pat down was flattering, but probably unnecessary since my clothes are fitting so tight these days that you could tell if I had goosebumps just by looking closely. Professional and authoritative, Joan (my new best friend) conducted a 'routine' swab of all of my stuff. My bag set off the alarm. Then my computer. Then my running shoes. Then my hands. She looked distressed. While I'm sure there were numerous contributing factors, being in my presence appeared to be one of them. By this time, my section of the security area was in virtual lockdown. Joan initiated a second full screening process (pat down included). 

I failed, again.

When I inquired as to what she was testing for, she would tell me only that it would require someone 'in a higher pay bracket' to solve the problem. I soon discovered that this meant two Important Looking Men (ILM) and a Bomb Appraisal Officer (BAO). One of the ILMs questioned me, while the other ILM walked around, closely examining my passport and very carefully observing my body language. Meanwhile, the BAO verified that my undergarments were not a threat to national security. 

Forty five minutes later, I was permitted to go.

My curiosity and bewilderment made the process almost fun for me - it was bizarre to have others so concerned about me, when I knew that I posed no threat at all.

My only frustration is not knowing what triggered the alarm. How do I avoid this in the future? Am I exposed to something dangerous to my health? It will be interesting to see what happens on my way home on Friday!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Juno what?

I had the pleasure of attending the Juno awards tonight, thanks to Vas at Fraser Milner Casgrain. As a lover of Canadian Music, red wine and having fun, I was especially thankful to get the invite. Memorable moments from the evening include:

  • Watching the Canadian equivalent of the Madonna-Britney-Christina stunt, which involved Anne Murray, Jann Arden and Sarah Brightman. Let's just say it was not quite the same - and I'm thankful for that. I appreciate that Canada still seems to reward musical talent over exhibitionism.
  • 'Triumph' being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. My first reaction was to mock the absurdity of the long hair and moustaches...just the sort that inspired movies such Fubar. I had flashbacks of earning my maroon swimming badge at shouldice pool as 'Lay it on the Line' played in the background. I have to admit that I was impressed with the clarity with which the band members expressed themselves in accepting the award. I take back my mocking words and am thankful to see evidence that a hard-rocking glory doesn't necessarily end in burn out (though somebody seriously needs to call the fashion police).
  • Watching Feist clean up on the awards. She's fantastic. If you don't have her albums, I highly recommend a trip to the music store.
  • Being home by 9:00pm. Now that's a good night!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Culture Shock

My friend Nick, who is going to school in Barcelona, has been trying to make the most of his time away by making a point of regularly doing something that he could not do here in Calgary. While the purpose is casual, he and his friends have formalized the idea by creating what they call 'the culture club'. I love this idea and, upon hearing it, it occured to it reminded me that I have not been making a priority of enjoying what this city has to offer.

An obvious starting point was the Glenbow Museum. My office is right across the street from it and, for the last seven years, I have walked past the display case and told myself 'I have got to go in and check it out...maybe next week'. And, low and behold, after seven years I had still not made the time. Today, that changed.

Time was scarce, so ambitions were kept simple. Today would be the second floor only. I've been to museums in big cities and I recognize that we just don't have access to the same resources here in Calgary.  As such, I wasn't expecting to see anything anything mind blowing. The second floor has a small, but impressive, asian exhibit. The rest is aboriginally influenced, which is great. This is what makes the place unique.

My first clue might have been the Cher cassette tape underneath the plexiglass showcase. The mannequin in the rhinestone cowboy hat and fishnet stockings and holding leather whip should have been my next clues. But I'm not so swift, apparently. Hooper pointed me to a certain poster, a picture of which appears in this post. Then, finally, it became obvious...and undeniable. A gay aboriginal cowboy exhibit! For real? In Calgary?

I never expected that my first experience with culture shock would be so close to home.

Culture club...I wonder what we will do next week.