Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Good Day...

I haven't been discussing it here, but life's been stressful lately. Last week it seemed to me the whole of creation was gathering only to piss me off. Everything was going wrong and the stress levels kept rising.

Taxes were long overdue, and I was collecting data for how to report my accountant for fraud. My phone is damaged and the new one is 400% later than the 2 days I was told it would take. And work... well a couple of narrow perspectives got together and completely missed the point, but did plenty of collateral damage elsewhere.

Today however, I made a phone call and found out that 18 months of stressing, emails, phone calls, and sleepless nights are now over. My 2006 taxes have been filed! I don't even know what the submission says... part of a long story about my accountant... but it's in, and on the ultimately-final thrice-extended deadline.


And the phone company emailed today to say my phone just left the warehouse. So now it is only 2 days away. Saturday I can pick up my parcel at the post office. Another "Blogger" phone, of course.

There's still lots more going on... more tax things to do and work problems to solve. But all the little bits that make up the whole are coming together. Those three piles of papers go to the new accountant. These two emails get printed and brought to discuss the issues. Teaching materials for Belgium are being sent to me. I think it's actually all going to work!

So after sending emails and messages to a number of friends and family, I thought I'd put it here too; I'm having a good day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's Music Without Sound?

Nope, this isn't going to be deep. Just a little prayer of thanks. And since electronics were involved, what better way to pray then via the 'net?

Today wasn't a bad day. It wasn't particularly intense, but dense. Busy and constantly so. So when I got in from the office a few minutes early I felt no guilt about sitting for a moment and just enjoying the stereo. I picked a good song and decided to crank the volume.

It almost sounded good. But mostly it sounded, bad. My subwoofer wasn't working!

I would be an excellent writer if I could convey that moment of emotion when a bachelor thinks his stereo is broken. Alas, I can only tell you it was like heartbreak and pain and loss, with contempt and anger, and of course denial.

The Engineer inside awakes. " Huh? I thought we were done work. Wha? The stereo!?!"

Starting at the back end of the signal path, I checked the subwoofer. Checked its connection to the stereo. Checked the stereo. I checked the wires from the stereo that wrap 'round the room to the computer. Wiggle wiggle, check check.

There are three stereo-plugs from the receiver to the PC. I pulled the first one...

The front speakers died. I put the plug back. I pulled the second one...

The back speakers died. I put the plug back. I pulled the third one...

Nothing happened. It was the center-channel and subwoofer connection. The center-channel speaker wasn't in use and the sub wasn't booming, so no surprise so far. I put the plug back.




And my face had a smile on it.

I'm listening to the Beatles. Like I remember it with headphones, except this is my stereo simply with all the speakers working again. Life is good. One more problem solved.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Musical Mood

Synchonicity is the grouping of coincidences. Just after finishing that last post, my computer picked a song that I like. But I didn't know what the song title was. So I was shocked to see it was "Ice Queen". Here's Within Temptation....

Thinking of Omar makes me think about System of a Down. They make Within Temptation sound really quite soft.

I chose the Lego version of that video (well done!) to make it more family friendly. ;)

Working with the military for a week was a blast. Military bases look and feel and smell the same every where. And since I spent a lot of time in my youth staying on bases it brought back lots of great old memories. Thoughts like," Oh I'm so glad I don't have to [enter painful activity here] any more."

Lynyrd Skynyrd would be the best way to summarizes the feeling.

Oh hey, this week's mail brought along a treat. TicketMaster sent me my ticket for Snoop Dogg, coming to Amsterdam in late September.

Snoop is famous for really enjoying his trips to town.

Mostly A Good Week

That was a good week. I spent 3 nights/4 days away in Belgium to train NATO soldiers (mostly Air Force) on the intricit subtlties of my employer's software. The town of Mons is lovely to look at! So nice to walk through. So boring to stay in.

But the boring evenings were made up for three-fold by (1) Terry Pratchett, (2) French cuisine, and (4) uhm, (3) Belgian beer! The days needed no making up for. I was teaching people whom I very much enjoyed being with and working with. Lunches were always fun and class participation was high. I even got to attend a change of command parade and congratulate the new sector commander.

But amongst the enjoyable times, there was also a very sobering and nasty moment thanks to the BBC. Previously I was unaware of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, who was visiting relatives in Afghanistan when it was invaded by the United States. On July 7th, 2002, U.S. soldiers attacked Omar's location... a "terrorist camp." He was the only person to survive (although gravely wounded) and arrested for the "murder" of the one U.S. soldier lost in the attack. Since that time, Omar has been held and tortured and has spent roughly 1/3 of his life now in Guantanamo Bay. A third? That's right, because Omar was only 15 years old when he was arrested.

Omar is the last Western citizen still in custody in Gitmo. Why?

Just incase Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reads Blogger... let me state for the record that this makes me incredibly angry, ashamed, and quite frankly, left me feeling sick! Mr. Harper, I'm now feircely looking forward to voting against you! And I think this time around I'll do some campaigning around my expat communities, making sure Canadians are registered to vote. Until then, be warned that by writing this blog I've now informed my mother. You're in trouble mister!

The timing of this information was ironic. Just hours earlier I had stopped at an old palace in Grand Place (the town square) and read a plaque commemorating how Canadians liberated Belgium in the First World War. The last shots of the war were fired there, November 11th, 1918.

In happier news, Happy Birthday to the Ice Queen! July 17th was cellebrated the world over by people thankful to know her.

Inspite of a few rough patches in the middle, the training week went well. It ended on a good tone and included me staying on base a bit past class-time to enjoy some 1 Euro beers with the Comms guys. They were fun!

Finally home again, apparently for 4 weeks now, all I can say is that it is, of course, great to be back! 10 hours of sleep and a slow, quiet day have helped rejuvinate this old body. I'm hoping the clearing sky and improved weather will stay around while I head out tonight and rejuvinate the spirit. ;-)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Negative Energy

After a long period of nearly-manic positive energy there comes an energy low. But the resulting positive low is a time to relax. There's no guilt about "doing nothing" and the rest time feels well deserved.

And then there's negative energy. And after a long period of negative energy comes an energy low. But its a negative energy low. Never enough sleep. Always feeling restless. So much to do it plays on your mind while you should be sleeping.

Events have converged on me. No single event is significant, but it seems significant that everything that's happening feels like its happening to me. Taxes are the worst! I've been trying for a month to get my papers from the old accountant who was supposed to file my taxes. I've got only a couple weeks left to get them to a new accountant who shall file my taxes. And I'm traveling all this coming week.

I'm getting everything handled; it will all get done. But it just isn't going smoothly.

The town in Belgium (Mons) I'll be teaching in this week is all booked up. So no one hotel had rooms available each night I'll be gone. The old accountant has told his office staff to get my papers to me urgently. But only after 3 weeks of calls and emails and waiting. I've found a bunch of missing papers the landlord needed, but have now waited 1-1/2 months for the repayment she should have sent by now.

Am I writing this to complain? No way. I'm writing this now, because I can feel the end of it. A new cycle of positive energy is returning. I feel a lot more in control of "things" than just a few days ago. By next weekend I'll have papers delivered to my new accountant, I'll have finished a fun week of teaching, and the full moon will be welcoming me home with no travel scheduled for a month. Perfect!

Now if only I could figure out a way to keep the tax papers organized while still managing to vacuum and clean around them.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tonight, R.E.M.

Live from Westerpark. Across the street from home.