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Journal Entries for December 2005
December 1, 2005 - 7:27 AM
Welcome to December!

Ok, so you know the antenna joke, right? (Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and decided to get married. The wedding wasn't much, but the reception was excellent!) I told it to our instructors at Shaw, and they loved it so much that they passed it on to their managers who also loved it so much that they called up the Vancouver Shaw building and told them the joke, and on and on my little joke is starting to travel through the corporate offices of Shaw Cablesystems GB. You may moan, you may groan, you may wish to inflict great quantities of pain on me for telling my jokes, but the bottom line (the punch line, I guess you could say) is that they make people laugh.

Barb and Ed should be back from the States sometime today, which means me and my birdies will be going home. It's been a great week, the kids have been great and we've had a lot of fun. I've got a lot of shopping to do this weekend, I'll need to spend close to $800 on ladders, I've got to buy tools, get the van licensed and insured (the white one, not Rusty. He's fine but I'm not going to use him for service.) It's going to be tight for a little bit here as I get everything set up. But once I'm out on the road, all my financial worries should be over. The more people I talk to in Shaw, we (the unit based installers) seem to be the envy of all other departments! Everyone we talk to says, "Oh I wish I was an UBE..." So it's kind of cool to be held in that regard, especially coming into a new company. I talked to the manager in charge of operations (?) yesterday and he was saying that we can't get out on the road soon enough. They are so busy even with over a hundred and fifty installer vans in Calgary they're having a hard time keeping up with the work! With the advent of Shaw's digital phone service, (and also being Christmas) there is an abundance of work like never seen before for the company (and therefore for me) - so that was assuring and exciting to hear. This is a good time to be alive!

December 1, 2005 - 11:23 PM
My puppy licking a can of ham

There's no place like home

December 2, 2005 - 11:25 PM
Silly Puppy

I had a awesome time in training at Shaw this week. Today being the last day I even won some prizes in the various games and contests we held. And on a completely different note, has anyone driven by Peter's Drive Through after dark lately? They did an awesome job lighting up their trees this year! It looks great! This weekend is going to be busy as usual... Tomorrow morning I've got to try to find the snow shovel I dug out earlier in the year and shovel the walks. Then I've got to go shopping and buy a present, then I've got to wrap it and drop it off for Brooklyn, and tomorrow night Bo and I are going to King of the Cage. Have you heard of Russel Peters? He is a very funny comedian. And now for a birdie story... When I brought the cage home last night the birds seemed quite happy to be home. This morning when I was changing their seed I left the cage open and came back a few minutes later to find both of them were hiding under my bed. It was very cute. I was going to put them back in the cage but neither one of them wanted to move so I left them there and went to work. Tonight when I came home, they had both perched themselves on the drum kit. One after the other I brought them back to the cage and BOY did they attack their food! Now they're in my room sleeping. Cute little birdies. And that's about all for now. Goodnight everyone.

December 3, 2005 - 11:57 AM
Crystal posing

Do you ever get a strange phone call? I was puttering around this morning when my phone rang and it was Christel. When I answered the phone in my usual manner, she just burst out laughing. "This must be Christel" I said. "Hi John, I was just thinking about you so I decided to call. But I'm at work so I have to go. Talk to you later" she said and hung up. You are one strange duck, Christel... :P

December 3, 2005 - 5:07 PM
A grinning cow

Happy Birthday To Boo

Today was Brooklyn's 6th birthday! And as the calendar would have it, today was also her birthday party. Rob & Lee's place seems to get fuller and fuller every year, and it doesn't seem like that long ago they were celebrating her 5th. I popped into Wal-Mart on my way to the house to pick up her present... BAD IDEA! I've never seen Wal-Mart so full! It was crazy! If everyone in the store decided to load up on goods and storm the doors, they wouldn't have a chance! I'm sure there was well over a thousand people in the store. It was crazy. Then once out, I wrapped her present in the parking lot and made my way over.


Curious about her new world, little Isabelle peers out from her blanket.

In other news and on a much sadder note, I found out this morning that Shirley from Custom Linen died last night at the Foothills Hospital. Best known as The Dryer Lady, Shirley was one of the few people in the plant I actually got to know. We would usually chat in the lunch room about this and that, often laughing and telling jokes. I always used to say to her, Shirley you can't be serious! She will be missed. Sorry I don't have a better picture. Kayla (her granddaughter) was with her when she passed away.

December 4, 2005 - 6:15 PM
John the Shovel Master

Chalk one up to another Homeowner's First: Shovelling the sidewalk. This afternoon I went out to the garage to check on the furnace and to my horror I discovered some shocking facts when I looked at the thermostat. Although it's set to keep the garage at only 10 degrees Celcius, it reported that (yesterday) the furnace had been in operation for 16 hours and 17 minutes!!! THAT IS NOT GOOD! I am not looking forward to getting this month's gas bill! Clayton was out in the garage with me when I made this discovery and so we decided to see if we couldn't insulate the garage a bit better to try to cut down on the amount of time the furnace needs to run in a day to keep the temperature at 10C.

(Click on an image to make it 'stick')

There were a number of obvious insulating deficiencies to tackle. First of all there was a 6" gaping hole at the bottom of both garage doors. Take a nine and a half foot door, multiply it by six inches, that's a hole 4 and three quarter square feet in area times two doors! Big problem. The second thing was that neither garage door was insulated. Just metal. When you stood near the door, you could feel the heat being drawn out through it. This was another large area of concern.
The third large area of concern was the roof above my door. When they insulated the garage, they must have run out of insulation when they got to this part because there was simply none there. Clayton and I went to Home Depot, picked up the stuff we needed and went to work. Insulation is pretty expensive! But then again, so is gas and you only have to buy insulation once...
The first thing we did was cut the sheets of styrofoam to fit the various shapes in the garage door. Not an exact science, but we were able to cover the entire door with three sheets. After the pieces had all been set in place, we used that spray-in expanding insulation to fill in the cracks and also to hold the styrofoam in place. The result was fantastic, the door definitely retains heat now.
Once the garage door was complete, we set our hands to insulating the ceiling. Already you could tell the garage was staying warmer, the furnace would go off for several minutes at a time and the air was noticable warmer, even at the 'cold' end of the garage. Most of the batts we were able to put up as is - that is, they were already cut to the proper size. Then once the large areas were filled, we cut up the remaining batts to make filler pieces and closed the rest of the areas off, making a HUGE difference in the temperature of the room.
Now the only major insulating job to do is Bo's door, but because there is a lot of stuff in the way of it at the moment, we've passed that task to the duties of another day. Interestingly enough, the snow on top of the roof was actually providing a bit of insulation. Actually, truth be known, snow is an excellent insulator. If you've ever spent any time inside a quinzie (snow cave) you'll know this to be true. One time in junior high, our class went winter camping at this campground in Rocky Mountain House. We spent a day building two quinzies on a frozen lake, and then three others and myself slept the entire night (where the temperature dropped below -35 Celcius) inside a house made of snow on a foundation made of frozen water. Boy that was an experience! It's those earlier years of my life I really wish I'd carried a camera around more. A mistake I don't intend to duplicate.

Tonight as I type this my birds are running around my living room, climbing all over my drum kit. This has become their favorite passtime, as they get better and better at climbing and navigating themselves on all the wires running to and fro. They don't even want to go back to their cage! I've been videotaping a lot of them lately and hopefully I'll get it on the computer sometime soon. It really is very cute.

8:36 PM
In English class, I was taught that there are five questions you can ask about any event. It doesn't matter what you're talking about, you can almost always apply any of these five questions to it. You can ask What happened - the answer to this question will usually describe the event. You can ask When it happened - provide a date and time, maybe a time period in which the event took place. Where an event took place will usually require an address, an area, or a pair of coordinates. You can ask Who was involved or Who it happened to. Venturing into a bit more detail you can ask How it happened, where events leading up to the event would usually come into play, as well as a more detailed description of the process that became the event itself. All of these questions deal with facts. They are definite, concrete, non-changing facts. The last of the five questions, however, is perhaps the most intriguing and hardest to satisfy: Why.

When you're a little kid, (or maybe you know of a little kid now) - what question did you always ask your parents? Madisson and I have often ventured down the path of explanations, where she'll ask me a question, I'll answer, and then she will bombard me with an inexhaustable array of why?'s It is that one question, that simple - three letter word, that occupies far more brain-space than any other question, and is by far the one most difficult to answer. Now personally, I do not believe that anything happens by coincidence. When two people bump into each other there is a reason. When something breaks down and you have to stop to fix it there is a reason. When someone dies, there is a reason. There is a purpose in all things, big and small, and it is the exploration of that fact that causes us to wonder why. Why? When you consider all the infinite possible places I could have been at a certain point in time and all the infinite other places the other person could have been at that same certain time - why did it so happen that we were in the same place at the same time? What was the reason for that meeting? Maybe you've had a dream about someone or something, and you wonder why such thoughts would occupy your mind while you slept. Had you been thinking about that person lately? Did something happen to them? Was it just your mind's means of entertaining itself? Perhaps

December 5, 2005 - 9:32 PM
Highlights of the day:
  • Ate my first Donair
  • Rode around with Paul, Senior Installer
  • Witnessed my first Shaw Digital Phone installation
  • Got a quote on insurance from State Farm for my work van
  • Checked the garage furnace this morning, found the breaker off
  • Song currently playing: (Well, it's a CD actually)
    DJ Tiesto - In Search of Sunrise III

    Great disc to fall asleep to. Which is what I think I will do. Goodnight to you too. Tomorrow's another day, new.

    December 6, 2005 - 11:29 PM
    Pasta Tuesday!

    Kerry at Boston Pizza

    Me at Boston Pizza

    What a slow day. I was out with another Senior Installer today and we were done ALL our work for the day before one o'clock... I went and got my work van inusured and all that paperwork out of the way and he went and gave his girlfriend a ride to work. It was a very slow day. When I got home I wasn't home for very long when Kerri phoned me and asked what I was up to. I ended up going to the pool hall her mom works at because the two of them were there and the place was dead so they were bored. Kerri and I went to the Boston Pizza by my old house for Pasta Tuesday (which was awesome) but being there with Kerri made a great thing even better. When we left the table I placed one of the wrapped boxes from under their Christmas tree where we'd been sitting and told the waitress I left a present for her on the table. huh huh Kerri and I hung out at the pool hall for a while more and eventually I dropped her off at home. Hopefully with the classes I'm in tomorrow I'll be able to steal her for lunch. It's not the same not being able to see her at lunch time every day.

    Last night I woke up at about three in the morning. I think I had to pee or something, the memory is a little vague at this point but I got up for something. I have not experienced an ecstacy comparable to the feeling I got when I lay back in bed and pulled up the covers, knowing I still had a couple of hours to sleep. That was simply orgasmic. Waking up again the second time, however, was not nearly as pleasurable... But one plays the hand one is dealt. And right now it seems I've been dealt the sleep card. Goodnight.

    December 8, 2005 - 9:25 PM
    If the mood should hit you and you wanna...
    Baby, I don't mind

    December 10, 2005 - 10:48 AM
    My Shaw Identification Badge

    My training at Shaw is coming to a close as I get ready to go out on my own. I've still got to get plates and registration on my van, put the ladder rack back on it and get the shelves and compartments in the back all set up. I also need to put the rear heater back in. So there's a bit of work to do on the van still. The task for today is to get together the rest of the tools I'll need. I have most of the cable-specific tools already but it's the basic hand tools I am still short on. Shouldn't take too long to solve that problem though. It's gorgeous outside!

    I went Christmas shopping last night with Kerri and her mom and sister. Nothing like shopping with three girls, I tell ya! Kerri bought a shirt for the Custom Linen Christmas Party. I think she's going with Chad so I'm going to have to find some other way to get myself invited. hehehe Speaking of Custom Linen, one of these days I'm going to have to give Lorne a call. I don't think he heard the news yet that I got the job at Shaw! When I left Custom Linen I still hadn't heard from them and I haven't talked to him since.

    Oh, and in other news, yesterday I lost my Shaw hat! This has been driving me nuts because I've torn my living area apart with no luck. There really isn't a lot of places it could hide and I know I had it when I came home, but as to where it went - I have absolutely no idea. And somenow I burnt the top of my left ear yesterday. It feels like a sunburn but it's on the inside of the ear (like, the part between the top of my ear lobe and my head, not actually inside the ear itself. So I really want to FIND the hat so I can see if maybe there was some chemical on it that burnt my ear somehow. It's very strange but the hat has simply disappeared! Swine hat... Well, I guess I'd better go do something... You might find this hard to believe but I could sit on my computers all day! hahaha Laterz

    Some say we're better off without
    knowing what life is all about
    I'm sure we never realize
    the way. It's too late.


    Give me a chance to make you happy

    December 11, 2005 - 8:30 AM
    Christmas lights illuminating the wall behind my table lamp in a warm, inviting manner

    Christmas is coming! Last night I put up lights all around my living and bed rooms. It was really cute too, last night my birdies slept on the drum set and this morning when I put them back into their cage, the blue one was cocking his head sideways trying to figure out what these new lights on the ceiling were all about. He was looking around most curiosly. He's such a cute birdie.

    My blue birdie hiding under the drum brain

    Seepin Puppy

    Speaking of cute animals, my puppy was being VERY cute last night. I was over at my parents' house for the afternoon and so of course I had a shadow about me the whole day. Later on in the evening after supper, I lay down on the couch to take a nap. When I awoke, there was puppy fast asleep ON TOP OF ME! He had curled up on my tummy and also gone to sleep but in such a way that it would not be possible for me to get up and leave to go home without him knowing. After we'd had our nap, we went for a walk and it was absolutely gorgeous outside! I couldn't believe it. Running through the field with just a sweater on, pocket full of Spitz and my best friend running in front of me... Those are nights I want to remember. He's such a good puppy.

    My Christmas tree rocks! huh huh

    So you may be asking yourself, Why is John's Christmas tree on a rocking chair? Well my friends, the answer is quite simple: My Christmas Tree Rocks! huh huh

    December 15, 2005 - 6:53 AM
    Bursting Forth from the light

    Another 14 hour day...

    And once again we discover that the world is shrinking at an extranominical rate! Yesterday I was training with an installer who covers mainly the Airdrie / Crossfield region. Long story short, we ended up doing an Internet install for the mom of a guy I knew back in elementary school - Bobby Boccabella. As soon as I saw the name on the work order, I wondered if it might be some relation. I mean, how many Boccabella's can there be in the area? But as soon as the door was opened, I recognized his mom and surprisingly enough, she remembered me and quite a bit about me and my family. She remembered my mom's name, she remembered that my dad has black hair, a moustache and an accent (which she loved - don't we all?) She remembered Blair too! Not bad, considering I haven't seen or heard from her or her family in at least 15 years... Crazy.

    And speaking of crazy, I must be getting more sleep these days because I am waking up remembering a lot more of my dreams. Last night I had not one, but TWO dreams about Carmen. I suppose I should look her up, give her a call and see what she's up to these days. I haven't really talked to her much since the houseboat. And because we have Shaw Digital Phone, the long distance isn't! Thank-you Shaw Cable!

    December 18, 2005 - 2:35 AM
    My Head Shot

    Saturday night, Sunday morning and I am wide awake. Much of today was spent working on my new van, fixing little nagging problems that would undoubtably have driven me nuts down the road... First off, the heater would intermittently shut off. Bad connection on the relay. Fixed. Second, the leads that connect to the battery needed to be replaced. Replaced. The third thing proved to be the most frustrating. Every so often, the headlights would switch to high beam, without any rhyme or reason. I'd be standing outside the van, not even touching it and they'd suddenly pop up to high beam. Then, equally lacking reason - they'd pop back down. I wiggled and tapped, disconnected everything I could think of that might have caused the problem - no luck. Even without the headlight switch plugged in, they still got power from somewhere and would still randomly flip to high beam. I searched the Haynes book on the van but there was NO MENTION AT ALL of a running light control module for these vans... Which obviously mine had. None of the wiring diagrams or the section on revisions had any information whatsoever about headlights recieving power from another source while in the "off" position. Long day shortened to text: I found the problem. By tapping every module, connector and relay under the hood I was able to find the correct one that would reliably flip the lights upon impact. The question now is, how much is that little black box going to cost to replace?

    Kerri phoned me this afternoon so we went for lunch. We stopped also at Canadian Tire to pick up some stuff for my van and ended up doing a bit of Christmas shopping. Most of my day however was spent in the garage.

    December 18, 2005 - 11:17 PM
    Well, despite nearly everything that could go wrong going wrong today, let's concentrate on the good parts of the day and forget all that crap from this afternoon. Went to the Custom Linen christmas party at the Village Park Inn and even though Kerri wasn't there, I still had a pretty good time. Here are the pictures. I'm off to bed.

    December 21, 2005 - 11:07 PM
    A Chinook Sky in Calgary

    After having the punctured radiator fixed this afternoon, Blair and I installed it in the white van and got the rest of the little things done on it to make it roadworthy. A few of the fluid levels were low though, so we stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up some replacements. I swear, it was an Ex-Custom Linen reunion in the checkout lines at Wal-Mart this evening. I saw Rick Hodgins, Abdul Sattar, Jyoti (don't know her last name - Sattar I guess) AND Ashley Ward. What a small, small world. And when we passed by the Quizzno's, Blair saw the manager of the store whom he (Blair) trained.

    During my travels today, I ordered a couple of ladders necessary for work and had an hour to kill. Not wanting to make the journey home only to turn around and drive back across the city again, I popped into the Office Depot where I saw an old ex, Jessica. She was the same old Jessica... And ironically enough - two nights ago Pam invited me over for some Baked Macaroni. Have I ever told you the story of the Cheese-cutter? Well let's just say that it's hard to eat Baked Macaroni without laughing.

    I'm going to see if I can have tomorrow off as well so I can finish getting my van all ready for the big day on Friday. Friday will be my first day as an "official" UBE. After that, I'm on my own, installing cable services for the good people of Calgary. This morning we had a Visions and Values meeting at Royal Executive Inn where a group of about 75 people from various departments at Shaw were taken aside and enjoyed a free breakfast and seminar on the company's core values. It is so nice to work for a company that has well-defined, practical and applicable values which can be implemented into everyday life - both professionally and personally. The seven values of Shaw are Integrity, Accountability, Positive - Can Do Attitude, Loyalty, Balance, Customer Focused, and Team Player. The session today dealt largely with these values and the application thereof in our day-to-day relations with customers and each other. Shaw really is a great company to work for.

    Puppy just woke up

    December 24, 2005 - 7:41 PM
    Kerri takes a break atop the hillside at Canada Olympic Park

    For Christmas Eve day, Kerri and I went to COP and tried our hands .. or rather feet at snowboarding. It was a bit rough at first as we tackled the bunny hills and tried not to crash into people as we mostly slid down on our bottoms, but by the end of the day we were going up the big hills and carving new paths down the main runs.

    Me and Kerry :P

    Kerri sprawled

    Not all our day of snowboarding was spent ON the snowboards...

    Really Tall Michelle

    Remember REALLY REALLY tall Michelle? Well, she works at COP! Apparantly Kerri and I are students too! Or at least that's what it said on our ski lift tags... hehe

    My procrastination T-Shirt

    This is what the hoodie Kerri bought me for Christmas says. Is that not SOOOOO true of me? I love it!

    Kerri sprawled again. Practice makes perfect...

    Kerry snowboarding

    Kerri in the van during the ride home

    By the end of the day were were completely exhausted, wet bum'd and covered in bruises - but very happy to have broken the ice of snowboarding. I will definitely do that again!


    Who's that goofy lookin' bastard?

    Boston Pizza Supper, Christmas Eve

    Kerri and I finished off the day at Boston Pizza. Merry Christmas!

    Bo and Maddy

    When I got home, all of Bo's family was over watching the Maddy DVD Bo made. I hopped in front to get a picture of Bo and Maddy but she told me to get out of the way because she couldn't see. I think this year Christmas was more of a day for Madisson than anyone else. Her antics were the center of attention as people watched the life of Madisson as seen through the camera lens of Bo's camcorder.

    Now after a three hour nap I am off to my parents' house for our own family's Christmas get-together. Merry Christmas everyone!

    My puppy waiting for someone to give him some food

    Blurry Tree Lights

    December 30, 2005 - 1:58 AM
    Sweet, shy Kerri

    Song of the day: Sweet Mistake by Ellis Paul

    Pop the cork, a champagne glass
    Raise to the future, drink to the past
    Thank the Lord for the friends he cast,
    In the play he wrote for you.

    And if you love the girl man, light up a torch
    Blaze a trail to her front porch
    Kiss her til your lips are scorched
    Til the rain comes down on you
    -- Ellis Paul --

    Life seems like one big ad-lib. Sometimes you know what to say, you have a funny line or a timely quipp, other times there are no words. Somebody gave me her cold and now I am sick as a dog but at least I have a few days off to (hopefully) recover. My friend Tanya's younger brother was in a brutal car accident in Vancouver just days before Christmas, and at this moment he is still heavily sedated and in critical condition in a Vancouver hospital. As she was telling me the details of the crash and his condition, I simply had no words to say. Simply put, it's a miracle he is still alive and from what she told me, it will be another miracle if he survives. You never know when your number may be up. So far I've been incredibly fortunate. The closest person I've lost has been my grandpa a couple of years ago but I've been having an eerie feeling that tragedy is lurking around the corner and it will be someone I least expect.

    December 31, 2005 - 5:40 PM
    Funky Sky

    And so sets the sun on another year...

    2005 has come and gone... And overall I'd have to say it was a good year. I went into Shaw the other day to drop off some paperwork that needed to be in before the end of the month and noticed they'd placed my next days' work in my mail slot. Originally I had anticipated having to work on the 1st, (this Sunday) - but when I looked at my work sheet it is dated January 2, 2006! I guess they gave me the day off! Which means I can actually celebrate New Years this year and not have to save some for the next morning! I was pumped to find this out.

    Bo and I took Maddy to Southland today. I didn't even strip skin off my finger this time! Actually, I was looking at it and you can't even tell where it got cut. I still have no idea how I did that... Tonight we were going to go to Stewart's reception but that plan got changed and now we're just going to Bo's dad's house to ring in the new year there. I'm sure it won't be as loud or out there as some of our previous new years celebrations, but I'm really not feeling 100% what with this cold and all... You know what though, I've been taking Cold-FX and would you believe it? I think that stuff is really helping! I have to say I've been impressed thus far.

    Tanya's brother made a turn for the better this morning... I don't know what that means but the news was good anyways.


    -- John --

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