Conversations I'd almost had had... Part 3

by Mark Zaugg 14. September 2007 23:24

Don't you think Psycho 2 would have been a lot better starring Carl Perkins instead?

Conversations I'd almost had had... Part 2

by Mark Zaugg 12. September 2007 09:20

"Here's a thought.  How about I spew out a bunch of almost one-liners on my blog?  Just these psudeo-conversations for no good reason whatsoever.  No meaning, not necessarily significant, just a pity little moment of comedy.  The only question at that point is, 'Do I give people any context at all or just enough to make them wonder?"

"You're weird."

Conversations I almost had had...

by Mark Zaugg 10. September 2007 22:10

I was in the kitchen a couple of days ago, minding my own business, making myself a sandwich. 

Now, the exact kind of sandwich I had wouldn't normally ever come up as a topic of discussion or importance.  I think.  However, let me state for the record that in this case I was using up some of the produce that is slowly turning bad in our fridge crisper, so I chose to make a "bunwich" with mayo, tomato and pickle. 

Me - being me - bites into this wonderful mix of fantastic and fresh flavourful delight when the juices go squirting out of the bun.  I manage to save the floor from getting soiled by ensuring I block the spill with the big toe on my right foot. 

 The dog - being the dog - happily enjoys licking my sock for the next five minutes. 

 "You're a crazy dog!"

 "Yes," the dog almost replies.  "But you're the moron that made a tomato and pickle sandwich with mayonaisse."

A little inspiration in the wings..

by Mark Zaugg 4. September 2007 23:51

It's funny just how subtle our influences are in life. 

It's a little tidbit picked up from hither or thither that really brings out a sea change in our habits.  Where, precisely, did I pick up the term "odds and sods"?  Someone lamented the fact that it was heard so infrequently these days.  Infrequent?  Oh, I'm all over that!  I'll start using it at once. 

One of my biggest influences in life is actually one particularly noble and wise Canadian that goes by the name of Arthur Black.  He had a radio show on CBC called Basic Black for years.  All my good material?  It all came from Arthur.  I'm truly as unfunny as I appear in all these blogs.

My .sig for years:

" can't be as bad as Shakespeare.  I tried to read Hamlet last night -- talk about over rated!  Nothing but a bunch of famous quotations all strung together."

Yup, from the lips of Arthur Black.

Well, one of the people that I discovered through Basic Black was Jack Whyte.  Jack's a Scottish ex-pat who had a dream of writing a series around the King Arthur legend that didn't involve magic, but instead dealt with the harsh realities of the post-Roman Britain and the peoples who lived there and invaded.  He keeps his site at

The result was my favourite book ever, The Skystone (shown in my favourite style of cover).  My latest copy was taken by my daughter over our holidays for something to read.  It's above her comprehension, I'm sure, but she wanted to read my favourite book.

The past week when my Lady-Love and I went up to Jasper, I was going to grab it to re-read it yet again.  But then I thought to grab Knights of the Black and White, Jack's newest novel that my Lady-love bought me for Christmas and I've been saving for fear of damaging it while reading on the bus.  Colour me stupid.

This is a wonderful novel.  Jack's vision remains as intriguing to me as ever.  These are definitely works of fiction, based in a historical setting.  I'm under no allusion this is actual history, but Jack has really made the stories interesting enough to encourage me to learn more.  It's fun to find out how much is historical fact and what is Jack's invention in order to explain the myth or the story of the legend.

In truth, I had no real idea about the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon before I started picking up Jack's interests.  Now, I can hardly imagine life without Publius Varrus, Caius Brittanicus, and now Hugh de Payens hanging in the recesses of my mind.

Jack was always a good author with great ideas.  With Knights of the Black and White he has in my mind transcended into the field of great authors with utterly fantasic ideas.

Arthur Black inspired me to look into Jack Whyte, who's brilliant writing has inspired me to look into the Arthurian legend and now the Knights Templar in entirely new ways.  Perhaps I can inspire my kids to dream and find worth while interests of their own.  Take a moment to share your inspiration.

"Quality pays for itself."

by Mark Zaugg 8. August 2007 23:55

I was told a story when I was quite a bit younger.  My grandpa had his house plastered when it was new back in the 50s.  He told the guys that he wanted it done right.  He didn't want to see a crack in the plaster for as long as he owned the house. 

I went around the house after he died looking at walls.  Now I have to say, I'm not the sort of guy that examines walls, but for some reason the story came to mind and I figured that was my only shot at looking at them.  There's no real surprise - I didn't find a single crack in the plaster. 

One of the great lessons he taught me was "Quality pays for itself."  Get the best you can afford and don't cheap out in the short term.  Quality goods and workmanship will always outlast the cheapest available. 

I'm not much of a fan of the Walmart mentality.  Price isn't the driving factor in the long term, you have to balance price with quality. 

I am a big fan of Mike Holmes.  He's a quality guy, he really cares and he genuinely wants to fix things.  More than just houses, more than just lives.  I truly get the feeling he wants to leave the world better. 

Last Saturday, Charlie Major and Mike Holmes came to Calgary for Lean on Me Day.  It was a fund-raising event to provide scholarships for students learning a skilled trade. 

It's a great fit.  I'm met Charlie before and he's a great guy to work with.  The two didn't know each other before the fundraiser, but they certainly carried themselves well and worked together very well.

There's magic when Mike's ripping into some poorly constructed project and realizes it's so badly that it has to be entirely taken down and started over.  "Take it all down.  Start over!  Do it right the first time!"

Mike is working on something very special with his foundation.  He's trying to fix something bigger than a house.  He's fixing the system.  He spoke about how for years we have discouraged our kids from taking up a career in the trades.  Be a doctor, be a lawyer, but don't be a tradesman.  The hours are long, the work is hard.

I'll bet Mike Holes is a guy that thrives on long hours and hard work.  He takes a lot of pride in what he does.  He wants to teach our kids to learn to do things right the first time.  Again, not a surprise, he talks about it all the time.  He's wonderfully consistent, wonderfully sincere.  The kind of person I feel honoured to meet and shake hands.

The other part that impresses me with Mike is that he wants to educate homeowners how to get things done right.  One of the things I try to do is to teach my clients how to care for their computers.  I'm not going to replace myself - I'm still available for the big jobs, but everyone should know they need to patch their computer, they need an Anti-virus program for Windows, watch out for spyware, be careful about opening attachments in email.  Anyone can - and should - understand the basics.  I too want people to have a better understanding of their computer system, Mike wants people to have a better understanding of their homes.  That's very cool.

I support what Mike is trying to accomplish.  I applaud Charlie for pitching in and helping with the cause.  You can get Charlie's latest disk from the Holmes on Homes store and $5.00 from each disk will go to The Holmes Foundation.  That's fully 1/3 of the price - that's not a token donation, Charlie's serious about helping out as well.

These are quality people doing quality work.  Quality pays for itself, quality people are worth their weight in gold.

I am Spartacus!

by Mark Zaugg 6. August 2007 23:43

Well, no, actually I am not Spartacus.  I am neither a roman slave nor gladiator nor the charismatic leader of a slave revolt of over a hundred thousand.  In fact, I've got a pretty firm grip on who I am. 

For good or for bad, I don't duck behind a pseudonym here - although if you know me at all you'll also probably know me as either Zarquil Zonar or sometimes Tapdad.  Most just know me as Mark, and I certainly don't try to obfuscate the link between me and my psuedonyms. 

The internet, for all intensive purposes, is not anonymous.  You can duck and dodge, you can try to mask your path, but somewhere along the way, someone has to be willing to keep your secret to hide your identity.  Now there are plenty of people who promise they will, and most actually do care about privacy, although there's a disturbing number of people who do not and a distressing number of companies that will happily sell you their contact list for a price.  You.  Your information.  Sometimes given in confidence, sometimes gleaned through what you offered for another purpose. 

I'm a very unrelenting soul on privacy.  Try not to say anything you regret.  Remember that anything you say can be turned on it's head if not bound strictly in context.  Remember that search engines like Google (my favourite) can hold an awful lot of information about you.  It's not going to forget you, either.  Not will it distinguish between the "Mark Zaugg" that is me, and the "Mark Zaugg" that is not me.  There are certainly at least two of us and I'm sure neither of us would appreciate being mistaken for the other.

The whole point of this is to point out a grave concern to me.  Perhaps I'm a trifle old-school here, but to me your word is your honour.  The things you say, the way you act, the manner in which you comport yourself all matters as to how I believe you should be evaluated as a human being.  I don't mind if you're an opionated, pompous ass - quite often I am myself.  But are you open minded?  Are you willing to take responsibility for your actions?  Are you willing to accept that your view of the world should change in light of proffered information?  Are you forthright and honest in your dealings?

Rightly or wrongly, it is by the above characteristics that I judge a person's character.  Judge not lest ye be judged?  That's fine, if you don't find me to be an open minded, self-responsible person willing to learn and grow as a human, who treats you honestly and respectfully, you are freely able to not associate with me at all.

So what's my concern?  The relavation of who is the author of the Fake Steve Jobs blog.  Do I care?  Not particularly.  I've read a couple of the blog entries that were sent to me and found them ranging from somewhat amusing to downright vicious and mean-spirited.  I don't read it on regular basis and I've had to use a search engine to go find them in the first place.

Having seen the reveal, I'm less than shocked.  I don't particularly like the author at all.  I consider him to be mean-spirited and unnecessarily biased as it is.  I'm not naming him - he's enough of a pub-hound and I don't really want hits on his name showing up here anyways.  You can go look it up easily enough.

What bothers me the most is here is a professional journalist - a senior editor no less - who has hidden behind the mask of anonymity " lampoon Mr. Jobs and his reputation as a difficult and egotistical leader, as well as to skewer other high-tech companies, tech journalists, venture capitalists, open-source software fanatics and Silicon Valley’s overall aura of excess."  That doesn't match my vision of ethical behaviour.

"[The author] clearly used the Fake Steve persona to further some of his own interests and positions. For example, articles in other business publications and their journalists were a frequent target of criticism from Fake Steve, while Forbes got off comparatively easy."

That isn't even satire.  That is flatly unethical and contrary to the standards of one who should be bringing us balanced news and information.  There is plenty of room for columns and opinion and lampooning, but do it fairly and have the guts to do it openly without hiding behind a facade of a nom de plume.

Do we have any real journalists out there willing to call this unsavoury character out of the woodwork?  The NY Times article directly refers to the "Primay Colours" affair with Newsweek.  Read more on Joe Klein here should you be interested.  Klein was fired, ostensibly for lying.  This particular author hasn't lied about his identity or denied he wrote the column in question, but he's publishing a book on the basis of it and profitting from the scandal.  That is shameful, just shameful to me.  I will promise I won't be buying or even reading the book.

Should I run Forbes, I would follow Newsweek's example and fire the author outright, and certainly not take the "Secret Diary of Steve Jobs" onboard.  I can't support a publication that espouses that lack of ethics.

I stand behind this, by name.  I declare myself to be wholly consistent in my viewpoint here.

There was an editor for Linux Today who posted anonymous talkbacks.  The fallout was harsh and is posted hereMy particular comment is somewhat obscure if you don't understand the references.  I used to frequent a particular news site called Slashdot, but I found Linux Today and enjoyed it better.  In a matter of weeks, my habits changed and I found myself going to LT.  Having lost faith in the integrity of LT, I moved with some of the brighter lunimaries to VarLinux and I'm still there in the woodwork.  I go to Groklaw to keep up with the legal issues in the tech industry.  I've discovered that D.C. Parris has started up Blue-Gnu which I have added as a news source.

The reason I've stayed there where I've wavered elsewhere is that Nick Petreley, Pamela Jones and D.C. Parris are people I trust implicitly to hold their level of integrity at the highest standards.  They guide me to newsworthy items, they don't let me down, and together with the community gathered around their sites teach me the details I need to know to perform my work.  That's valuable to me, not just cutting down the rest of the tech industry pretending to be a holier-than-thou mandarin slaying underlings with acerbic comments.

Hey, and won't you look at that:  I can name the people I respect.  They're not hiding behind a false name.  They stand by their words and their works and I thank them graciously.  Go away, Fake Steve.  I want to stay near the people that are true.

Depression and separation

by Mark Zaugg 23. May 2007 22:54
"Men and women whose marriage has broken up have a higher risk of being depressed than people who remained with their spouse, according to a new study. However, men appear to take the separation harder." 

Statistics Canada has gotten substantial coverage of one of the most important surveys I've taken notice in a long, long while.  The title is "Marital Breakdown and Subsequent Depression" and it highlights a very significant trend I've noticed in my own life and others I've known through various forums.
"Men aged 20 to 64 who had divorced or separated were six times more likely to report an episode of depression than were men who remained married.

Women who had undergone a marital break-up were 3.5 times more likely to have had a bout of depression than were their counterparts who were still in a relationship." 

Guys, I hear ya and I've been with you.  I took a big hit when I separated and it reverberates through my life still.  I hope it makes me smarter and more resilient, but some days I presume it only makes me wary to repeat the same ol' mistake once again.  Not that I don't find new mistakes I can use to fill in the gaps.
"Research has suggested that for men the loss of custody or a change in parental responsibilities is one of the most stressful aspects of a break-up. According to the analysis of NPHS data, 34% of men, compared with 3% of women, whose relationship ended experienced the departure of children from their household."
I certainly consider the "change in parental responsibilities" (to use their words) as the single most stressful point of my life, let alone my separation.  The abject failure of the legal system to, so far, be able to provide a reduction in that stressload by realizing a more fair alternative is one of my priorities I wish governments and legislation would address as soon as possible.

Sometimes I take flack for being too personal here, but damn it, this is an important finding and if the courts and the parliament doesn't take notice we need to shove it down their throats.  Get the judges and politicians better at addressing all the parties concerns, and make better avenues available that don't involve lawyers and thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars of fees!

And everyone, men and women alike, when you endure separation from your partner, be aware that you are at higher risk of depression.  Other pressures will arise - financial, lack of social support and a whole plethora of issues which will be personal to you.  The best defence is to try to reduce the pressures - try to find amiable solutions, resist the urge to "win" and play zero-sum-games with your formal partner, and talk to your good friends and find new friends who have experienced separation before who can steer you through the quagmires and pitfalls and help you come out of separation as a stronger and more complete person.  Then go offer support for someone you know that may have experienced a separation.

The study also gives us hope:
"The study found that most people who experienced depression in the post-relationship period were no longer depressed four years after the break-up. But for a sizeable minority, depression remained a problem."
If you're going through it, I empathize with you.  I've been there myself and it's a hard fight to battle out of a depression.  Talk to your doctor, talk to your friends or post an anonymous comment at then end of this entry right here.  Just don't give up, don't stop trying to be a better person and never, never, not ever give up on being a parent to your children if you have them.

I really believe that the process of falling in love is also the purpose of falling in love.  Some of us are blessed that we get it right the first time round.  Others have to learn from our own mistakes, but at the end we can find the happiness we seek.  Each person we meet has a lesson for us, if we're willing to listen.  Sometimes we don't want to hear the lessons, but we always need to learn.

Vacation - Day... HEY! I think I lost track!!

by Mark Zaugg 20. May 2007 00:40

Oooooh, why do I do that to myself?  WHY? 

So the Lady-love decides to go to the super-duper-mega-confabulous garage sale in Okotoky.  That's not the bad part. 

I, on the other hand, decide that I'm going to go down to the Babcia's house and wire 'em up with ethernet cable running hither and thither.  That's not the bad part. 

In order to do so, I have to taunt myself by going to work to get my spool o' cable and my crimpers and risk that urge to read just one email even though I know very well it's against the very nature of email to read just one, and in the event that you actually do stop at one, you usually stopped because the consequences were so brutally horrific that you sit in stunned disbelief staring at the monitor with eyes agape and a small trickle of drool running down your chin from the corner of your mouth where you teeth used to be before you swallowed them.  But that's not the bad part. 

I even decided that it would be okay if I downloaded a few waypoints of geocaches onto my GPS so I could look for a few while I was in Okotokyo during my free time.  I didn't get to bed until after 1:00 AM, but that's not the bad part. 

The bad part is that I decided on my way back from the office that it would be okay to buy some beer.  18 beers on a Friday night.  I have no idea why I punish myself so..  At least I know I'll get to the other 16 sometime before the end of next month.  Just when the hell did I become such a lightweight anyhoo?

As for the rest of it:

1.  Lady-love had a wonderful time roaming the streets of Krakatoatoks with her street-born band of thugs.  She picked up a couple of nifty things we needed around the house.  I can't quite be sure what they are, but I can be certain they didn't all fit into the car and I'm pretty sure that at least one of them is Bug's old chair from when we were room-mates and the "Zarquilian Mafia" days.

2.  Drill from the bottom up, don't mind the vapour barrier, and let the cable fly.  My motto for a perfect kitty-cat-5-e installation.

3.  I'm still pretty much blissfully unaware of what's happening at work.  I fear Tuesday like I've feared few other days.  But I've got two more weeks between here and there.


4.  Took Babcia and Opa out Geocaching.  Hit four stops, found two, missed two, and introduced them to parts of the town they never knew existed in the ten years Mom's been down there.  I love this sport.  I can't wait to find the cache with a human eye.  (Isn't that the criteria for sport, after all?)

5.  Smoke me a kipper, mate.  I'm grabbing a beer, a fist full of popcorn, and collecting a dog around my feet to gather the crumbs and I'm crashing.  I'm feeling a little sleepy...  Maybe I'll drink half the beer and leave the rest on my desk for a week.  Or perhaps I'll just open it and then put the rest in the fridge to chill and de-fizz.  Or I'll put it on the counter and call it American..

Vacation - Day Three, Four, Five, Six

by Mark Zaugg 18. May 2007 09:24

Same old, same old, don't you think? 

A couple things I'm learning quickly.  Shopping for crap is just about the worst thing I can do on a vacation.  I buy junk I don't need, then I worry about racking up too much on the credit card.  Plus the annoyance that I've had to deal with queuing up for bad service to not find what I was looking for in the first place. 

I'm tired of waiting around, wasting my time pointlessly to pick between one flavour of junk I don't like and the other flavour of crap I hate.  It hasn't been entirely horrid, but one bad experience puts me off the rest of the day. 

Something funny got mentioned to me.  It was actually in reference to my daughter where she was described as "really high energy.  Nothing wrong, she was just really geared to go non-stop."  Most of what got described applied equally well to me.  We get extremely fidgity when we have to sit around too long.  We want to get out and do something - anything - rather than slowly go brain dead and rot away life.  It's part of what eats me away so much while waiting for a Customer Service Representative to finally come around and giggle, "Geez, guess we musta run out of them.  Have you tried looking around the store?" 

Why no, miss, it appears that I've been wandering the isles aimlessly for the past hour hoping I may run across what I was looking for by random chance instead of querying that inventory control system I know you're using because you insist on scanning each and every item individually in order to strangle any possible gasp of efficiency out of the process at all.  In fact, I was really only hoping to waste a little of my life's breath until I could arrive at the till in order to pay for the half of my purchase that I could actually find without the assistance you promised me "in two minutes" 15 minutes ago because I really wouldn't want to dimish the significance of hearing you discuss the forecast, your boyfriend, and precisely why you shouldn't have dressed the way you actually chose to dress yourself this morning without taking plenty of time to let your witty small talk distill into full splendour. 

Lest Mr. Bug thinks I'm starting to work myself up into a rant...

So one of the things I picked up is a Garmin eTrex Vista Cx handheld GPS with mapping capability.  It's a long name for a small gizmo you carry around when you go hiking.  It'll map where you are, keep a trail of where you've been and give you a compass to let you know which way you're going.

Which simply means the kids and I are going to go out geocaching together lots in the near future.  We went out for our first time Wednesday evening.  Record?  Couldn't find the first micro, overshot the second one, called it a night on account of bugs.  Note to self:  Wear good shoes and bring insect repellent.  That's probably good advice for life.

So other than hours and hours spent pointlessly in stores (my Lady-Love knows there is a moratorium on me shopping the remainder of my vacation -- unless we run out of potato chips), the time gardening has been okay and the yard's looking in shape.  I've got a great excuse to get out there and find a few caches around the city.  Life is pretty okay.  I guess.

Although, between you and me, I'm about ready to go back to work so I can relax a little...

Vacation - Day One...

by Mark Zaugg 14. May 2007 03:27

So this is officially a vacation, eh? 

I'm a little underwhelmed.  It turned out to be a regular day of chasing about, trying to cram a full 28 hours into the standard Earthling-sized day.  Bah!  Mere mortals! 

I dropped the kids off for Mother's Day, the dog and I did a little cruise about the country side going hither and thither, and I still managed to get home in time to watch the Formula 1 race.  Truth be known, there wasn't a whole heck of a lot I tried to cram in over the day.  After the race I fired up the game cube for some exciting "Lights, Camera, Pants!" action until the frustration of me sucking at Goo-Ladiators overwhelmed me and I gave up and played Runescape for a few hours.  I did my regular round of the blogs, ran upstairs to catch Holmes on Homes and called it a night.

I've felt the grind happening over the past while and my Lady-Love has convinced me that we need to take some time off.  She's right, of course.  So I've been trying to think about the stuff I want to get done this week.  Nothing too fancy.  Just do a little yardwork.  And maybe work on a small reno project or two.  And I want to do a bit of shopping and pick up a few things I've been neglecting for months.  And I ought to take a bit of time and play Runescape and just work on a level or two.  And I'm really liking the idea of buying a GPS unit and going Geocaching - just an excuse to get out there and hike a bit.  And I'd love to catch up on my paperwork and get that out of my hair (and my Lady-Love's line of sight).  And I'd really like to just up and get out of town for a while.  And I want to cook all week and maybe have some friends over and we'll have a BBQ or something.  Well, maybe I should settle for getting in touch with everyone and at least send out emails or something.

Oh right, isn't this why I needed vacation time in the first place?

Planning my week off is every bit as hard as work where I have a routine laid out for me day to day.   It's the one part of the Time Management book I don't have a grasp on yet - setting short and long term goals and writing them down.  I've got my airy-fairy list of wants, but nothing concrete enough to be able to figure out just how to get from here to there, where ever "there" may actually be.  I'm feeling more like I'm trying so hard to tread water I've forgotten how to swim.

Oh right, isn't this why I needed vacation time in the first place?

I'm trying to not address this week as a fire waiting to be put out.  I'm good at that, but I'd love a week of not putting out any fires.  Tomorrow I'll plan on shopping for clothes, maybe a short run over to Costco, and get some yard work in.  I've got an unofficial plan to take my Lady-Love somewhere nice for lunch unless we plan on getting out of Dodge for a few days.  Just keeping things small, managable, and relaxed for a week.  There's a hard enough goal right there.

"I will manage my vacation so that it won't become Project Management."

Yeah, score one for the stressed out sub-uber-geek with the large cup of coffee.


Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.


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