by Mark Zaugg 10. September 2006 23:59

I hate banks. 

I especially hate my old bank I'm transitioning away from. 

They're the worst lot of penny-pinching, short-termed thinking, "We're only following the crowd even though we've received bigger profits than ever before thanks to our minisculely small interest rates we pay and the excessive and exorbitant fees we collect.  And we're rated Canada's most respected corporation.  (tee hee!)"

No, they're probably not the worst, I consider them amongst a lot of equally corrupt and evil-at-the-corps corporations.  (I will say, I've had much better success at TD Canada Trust so far, but I went to a branch where they got to know me personally.  So long as you're a number - and banks LOVE keeping you as numbers - you are nothing more than a bother they have to spend time fleecing.) 

So last week I stumble across this thread on a Vancouver forum asking about former Royal Bank employees.  Seems it isn't so rosy on the other side of the plexiglass either.  My favourites: 

7/23/2005 8:54:09 PM

"... I worked there a few years ago & had a psyco workoholic manager- I was home sick and this person was driving up and down my street looking at my house.. what the hell, when I returned to work I asked her about it and she was telling me that she was dropping something off for a client & was looking for an address. WHAT A FREAK!..."


Posted - 7/24/2005 9:50:18 AM

"...Its funny that RBC is adamant about getting a good reference fromy uor employee..becoz i'm currently a csr (3rd year in), and want to go back to school for a masters, and RBC says it has a policy about not giving any references or recommendation letters - all they give is a confirmation of employement..."

And, my absolute favourite:

Posted - 8/7/2005 9:28:52 PM

"Wow, I don't kow what I am getting into. I start training in 2 weeks. Should I go. The only reason I want to go is because my trainer is HOT! Her name is Andrea and she has a body to die for (full 38DDs!!!). Sorry for being a pig, but I can't get her out of my mind. Maybe, I'll just go through the training and then quit."

This concludes today's lesson on why banks suck.  What ever happened to trying to give the best customer service, giving your clients the best advice possible, and just plain doing a better job than your competition?

Oh yeah.  They're too busy stuffing ballet boxes about how much they respect each other.

So how the heck am I and what's going on in my world?

by Mark Zaugg 28. August 2006 01:27

Okay, I was house-sitting for a week.  We're bug-squishing at work and doing assorted release goodies.  By the time I got home I mostly made dinner, grabbed a beer, played Runescape two nights in a row (falling asleep at the keyboard once), and tried to figure out the alarm system. 

Ooh..  I'm a technically smart guy.  I work with alarms all the time.  I had one at my old job, I have one at my new job.  Easy, right?  Ever try to bypass a zone?  D'Oh!  It was easier shutting up the windows and sweating to the oldies in the evening until it cooled off. 

My financial planner extraordinaire (tm) came back from vacation and we went for Pho on Wednesday.  Remind me to only go for Pho on nights when my Lady-love is unavailable.  Or help me make her appreciate the goodness of Pho.  (Me, like an idiot, ordered beef balls without noodles...  Look at the menu before ordering, pinhead.)  The kids got the Asteroid (won-ton) soup.  It was a good week, astronomically.

Dragula is a fine vehicle, except it really, REALLY needs to be cleaned.  Something about the "two kids and a dog" in the equation.  Strangely enough, the slob behind the wheel isn't too much of the problem this time.

Speaking of the Murano, I can give you my first month report on it.  I'm getting 11.6 km / 100 L.  That is 20.3 miles per US Gallon, or 24.4 miles per Imperial Gallon (something *I* understand).  Thanks to the TDI Club calculator for the information.  Those guys that own TDI's are really nice people.

We have been very pleased with the Murano.  It's been great for trips, the mileage has been acceptible (I want MORE, always MORE...)  The handling is wonderful and I can haul five monitors back to the office with ease.  Try that in the Mustang.  With a kid seat in the back.  But I'll be the first to tell you every car is a compromise and you're bound to find something you don't like.  Well, I found it in the Murano.

I don't like the windshield wipers.  They smear really badly where I'm looking out.  Sure, I can lower the seat with the fully powered controls, but that just makes me less comfortable sitting.  Oooh, I'm so mad, I want to run right out and buy a new pair.

Otherwise, I did some shopping at the Calgary Produce Marketing Association's Harvest Sale at Heritage Park.  Bottom line?  My Lady-love won't let me go to the farmer's markets on my own anymore.

At least we got the canning done today.  Sure, it was a long day, but just one day....

A shortie, but a goodie.

by Mark Zaugg 28. August 2006 01:14

Zab-man, you are the coolest man alive

Next to Bill, of course.  I love Bill. 

And let's never forget Brian, who takes me back to a little piece of my youth and hammers it through my tune-hole

And what's this?  Ralph's revived  Awesome.

Pluto, Pluto, whereforth art thou, Pluto?

by Mark Zaugg 28. August 2006 00:31

I've been following the procedings of the IAU in Prague with great interest the past few weeks. 

Furthermore, it has been much more humourous to hear what the Mainstream Media (tm) has been reporting to the Less Scientifically Aware (tm) general public. 

It seemed to me to be joyous reporting of adding a 10th - lo and behold - even an 11th and 12th planet, promoting Ceres, Charon and UB313 (Xena). 

As the dissatisfaction grew, suddenly the tone turned to "What the hell is this Pluto, and why is it lumped in with real planets?" 

My favourite story worth noting was Andrew Dessler's who pointed out a brilliant and hilarious paper his Dad wrote up.
Personally..  Planetary status isn't a binary "is or isn't" question.  We're lumping lumps of rock in with balls of gas and wedging everything under the same umbrella.  No matter how you slice it, we have less than 10 really-big chunks of "stuff" flying around the solar system, hundreds of thousands of small chunks of stuff (mostly rock) we have catalogued, and a few massive wobbles we know are extra-curricular planets from other solar systems.  We're going to discover some mind-bending stuff if we keep looking out there that's going to hurt our classification anyways.

I've long had a problem with trying to differentiate strict lines of distinction where there shouldn't ought to be.  When can we call two similar species distinct?  What are masculine traits and what are feminine (or effinimate)?  What makes a person 'black' versus 'white'?  And what about the poor folks that don't fit nicely into either category?  Bah.

We have 8 reasonably big chunks of stuff orbiting the sun.  So far, we can pretty much handle our classification as it stands, right?

Err...  Then Bruce Kenyon in town calls up people asking them to remember the planets.  Apparently, we're having a hard enough time with eight.

And the mnemonics are KILLING me.  I have no problem remembering planets.  I have a much more difficult time remembering the phrases.  But from now on, I promise to remember one and ONLY one.

My Very Educated Mother Just Send Us NOTHING!  GOT IT?  NOTHING, ZILCH, ZIPPO, SQUAT, DITKUS!  Now go back to planet Earth, roll that in your sock and smoke it.


Musical chairs in the morning.

by Mark Zaugg 11. August 2006 10:29

Bah!  Calgary.  It's gotten huge, it's lost a lot of it's Western Charm, much of the 'neighborly-ness' seems to have gone. 

So I'm riding the bus to work this morning, and this woman sitting near the front of the bus impresses me.  She offers to switch seats with a mother who's child sits across the bus from her.  She offers her seat to an older gentleman.  She gives up her seat to an older woman who gets on the bus just shy of downtown.  She moves seats again as another older person gets on.  Then she moves seats to accomodate letting whoever she ended up sitting beside off.  I considered saying something when we got off the bus.

A tip of the Tilley to you, Ma'am.  I haven't a clue who you are, but it was noticed and appreciated.

News from the battle-weary.

by Mark Zaugg 11. August 2006 00:19

And I quote: 

'Love your new site son, but I can't quite figure out
how to send "comments"...and what is a "blog"jQuery15206697855500970036_1309241234665jQuery15207813586527481675_1309241273699
I usually don't have too much time on the library
computer to figure out what to, so help!' 

Well, now you know where I get my technical bend from.  I love you anyways, Mom. 

Okay, I better set some guidelines here, and a bit of an explanation for Mom. 

THIS is a "blog."  It's short for "Web log."  It's basically a spot where people with over-inflated egos keep an online-journal for others to see and view.  Okay, some people actually put worthwhile thoughts and ideas about a wide range of subjects:  My favourites are political, or humourous, or technical.  Many of my friends have their own blogs.  Some blogs are not meant for mothers.  Well, not my mother.  Mom, don't click on that.

Me - being, well, myself - have this fixation with the light, fluffy thoughts.  If I'm typing in an entry and have a particular thought on how sexy I look, I will put up a link that will try to put you in the same frame of mind as I was in when I thought of it.  I very strongly recommend using Firefox as a browser, it helps enhance your browsing pleasure.

The special thing about blogs are that you, the reader, can reply and make it interactive with your comments.  The down side of a blog is that those mean and nasty people put links to their spam-ridden, filth-infested web sites in the hopes of boosting their rankings in search engines.

So, we have to have some rules.  You want to post, I make you make an account.  See that top right corner?  Way up there?  It probably says Sign In | Join | Help?  If you want to comment and tell me what sort of fool I am, you will have to Join.  I make the rules, I make you have an account.

Make up a name.  Real names are not required.  Yes, I am using my actual name here.  No, I don't even make myself use my real name.  I make the rules.  I say you have to have a name, even if (and especially if) it has no relation to you in real life.  Frankly, I don't much care, so long as I can remember who the heck I'm talking to.  And given that I'm mostly stunned most of the time, that's a challenge all to itself.

Now that you've created an alias you're satisfied with, you must create a password.  No, I don't know what it is.  Perhaps I can change it for you if you've forgotten, but I wouldn't bet on it.  See the above paragraph.

Now, you have to give me an email account.  I strongly recommend using a hotmail account or Yahoo account or something other than your main email.  No, I will never send you spam.  Not a single one, not ever.  Nor will I ever give away your email address to a single person, not ever.  Am I that nice of a guy?  Hopefully yeah, but also, simply because I don't care.  The email is to get a password to you to prove that you are you and that if you've went through that much time and effort, you're probably not going to put a pile of junk messages on my blog advertising your brand of snake oil.

Once you create your account, you can sign in and leave messages.  Messages do not show up immediately once you've written them - I have to approve them first.  This is all about preventing spam, if you want to call me an idiot, that's certainly your right and your wisdom - who am I to interfere?  So long as you don't try to send a link to an Online Canadian Pharmacy which will export to YOUR country (ahem, see the news box, Freekazoid...) I approve.

Sooo, does that make sense, Mom?  Create your account - sign on, remember that you are not the only one that uses the computer at the moment so sign off when you're done - and enjoy writing about how smart and good looking and smart your son is.  Because after all, I did find my Lady-love which by default makes me smart and good looking.

A whole week of Wows.

by Mark Zaugg 29. July 2006 08:41

"Are you ready?  Let's begin." 

Last week my Lady-love and I met with Barb, Financial Planner Extraordinaire and visitor to Europe.  One of the things I know I've been looking towards is a new vehicle.  Bitsy is the love of my life, and remains so, but even I know that when a car reaches the "Antique" category, it's probably not the best of ideas to keep it as a daily driver.  I have two great plans for Bitsy.  When the kids ask if they can borrow the car to go to their graduations, I fully intend to throw them her keys.  Remind me to wipe that off my blog long before the kids read it, okay? 

So the week has been consumed with the notion of getting a new commuter vehicle.  My lady-love suggested we needed a vehicle capable of two adults, two children and two dogs.  Okay.  I can work with that.  Oh, and she didn't want a Minivan.  Well, who really does?  I'm in agreement.  Oh, and she was leaning to an SUV.

What?  Not on MY watch, baby!

Well, we came to an agreement and, as is known to happen in these circumstances, I discovered that I was wrong.  (I would have sent you to Nissan directly, but they broke deep linking.  Grrr...)  Okay, I'm a man who can swallow my pride.  We went down to Stadium Nissan Monday night to test drive the vehicles.  Nice vehicle.  I definitely liked it more than I expected.  It's so nice to have my mind set and made up and move with confidence.

My Lady-love says, "Well, we're here.  Let's drive the Murano too."

*Insert lovely hold music here.*

Wednesday I picked up the kids and we barbequed some chicken breasts and had pasta.  A harried dinner, to be certain.  Truly, we didn't have much more time the the requisite dinner and a dash back.  They're out camping right for the weekend, so I'm pretty excited for them.

Thursday was my Lady-love's birthday.  We went to see The Phantom of the Opera.  Not that I'm a big Andrew Lloyd Webber fan (I'm not).  Not that I really wanted to see Phantom again (I didn't).  But it's an easy compromise to make for someone you love.  And having worked in the production arts, I have a lot more respect for what they're doing to put on the production.  I appreciated the show and the story much better than the previous time I'd seen it.  If you have to go, I absolutely recommend seeing the current show as opposed to the touring show they had about 10 years ago.  Yeah, definitely don't buy tickets to that one now.

Friday we're dealing with insurance for the Murano.  Now there's two tangents that go with that.

  1. Driving down Deerfoot on Sunday night, we're passed (left standing still!) by a driver in a Cadillac with the licence plate "CME4INS".  I dunno about you, but the two things I don't want to see from the person I get my insurance from is a Luxury vehicle that I'm paying for and reckless abandon while driving.
  2. My Lady-love's insurance company contacted me so I could see about moving the Mustang over so all the car insurance is under one roof.  He starts in asking a minor question about driver's licence number, and then goes into, "Has the car ever been in a collision?  What happened, did you hit someone or did someone hit you?"  Well, excuse me, SIR, but how is that a relevant question?  "I just want to get an equivalent quote.  Now how many kilometers do you drive back and forth to work?"  The car is going to be parked.  How many km I drive is utterly irrelevant.  The car will be sitting in the driveway.  Parked.  As it should be.  *click*  He hung up on me?  There will be hell to pay.  I'll promise an update on THAT situation soon.

*End lovely hold music here.*

Last night we picked up the Murano.  I have no right driving a car this nice.  The colour is called 'Merlot' and it's almost as nice as Bittersweet.  We picked up a pizza (from Vlassis, Gus's favourite is one of my favourites now) and dropped over to my Lady-love's sister to show them the car and pay for puppy poop processing.  Heh, Bud seems not entirely enthused with the Murano - he has to jump quite a ways to get in the back and he doesn't have a window to hang his head out, but he was quite happy for the car ride.

My sweet Lady-love and I are going to have to go out for dinner now..  I'm thinking Steak and Lobster.  We should drive to Nova Scotia and get the lobster ourselves.  *grin*

Summertime... And the living's easy.

by Mark Zaugg 22. July 2006 22:11

Porgy and Bess...  How I've never seen thee.. 

Here's a few scatterings of thought from a scatterbrain. 

Babcia and John are on their way right now to California.  Safe trip, little hombres...  Burn me a redwood when you get down there.  (Well, not all at once.)  Remind me to take up HAM radio as a hobby when I get some time put together...  John's got some really cool tubified electronics.  Tubes are cool.  Until you have to move them. 

It's hotter than snot this weekend.  High of 30 or 31 C for the whole weekend.  "Okay," I thinks to myself, "Wouldn't it be FABULOUSLY cool to get one of those inflatable boats and take the kids and my lady-love down the river?  I'll go to Crappy Tire right after breakfast and buy one!"
  Only problem:  It's hotter than snot and everyone else in the city had the same idea.  I swear, there wasn't a single raft on the shelf, but there were three in the checkout line by the time I got there.  <grumble>  I'll leave it for the Lady-love to express herself. 

We went up to Dickson Dam again today, this time joined by my lady-love's sister and her family.  Not a single picture on the beach this time.  See the previous photos, please, and pretend that they're current.

Do you know how to judge when a good time was had by all?  It's when you get home and the dog just plops down in the shade and is so tuckered out that he doesn't even wag his tail when you walk up to him.  I think he told me to give him a day, he'll be ready to fetch again tomorrow.

It's been a good day in a doggish sorta way.  After we got home, KA picked 101 Dalmations to watch for a movie after dinner.  When I was a kid, I had a record that was basically the dialogue from the movie and more or less told the whole thing, but for the life of me, I can't remember seeing the whole thing before.  I think they call it puppy love.

Of course, a bunch of this started when Mr. Bug and I got started talking about dogs a day or two back.  He mentioned his neighbor had a Leonberger.  They look quite hard to lose in the cushions of a couch and I got strolling through the photos.  I don't know any other way to say it, they look adorable.  With the tangent to my favourite dog, the Borzoi.  I've heard that they're a little tough to hide under the bed when your Mom isn't looking, too.  I have to say, Bud's pretty much got me sold on Border Collies.  And still, I thought my lady-love's first comment when I got through the door would be, "You've been looking at dogs again, haven't you?"

Of course, my financial planner extraordinaire (and great friend, and possessor of Ozzie, the snack-sized dust-bunny dog-like critter) came over Friday.  We had dinner, a good chat, and the wheels are back on this little red wagon of mine.  Sure, it's a little wobbly, but there's only so much the wise and mighty can pull off when they're working with me.  On the bright side, it's been a hard day's night, and I'll keep working..  Well, I suppose I'm beyond that for the moment.

Which takes me to that particular moment -- I'm sure we all have it -- when out of the blue, your lady-love (or, if you happen to be the lady-love, the Prince Charmin of your dreams) turns to you and says, "Oh, by the way..."  In this case, it was, "By the way, you have to mow the lawn today."  Okay, it's not such a hard thing to do, and frankly, I kinda enjoy doing the yardwork..

We got a bunch of plants from my Mom's yard and transplanted them.  Most are doing fine - the vine isn't doing all that swell, and the bulbish-pink plants of mystery are dying (but they're bulbs!  Aren't they supposed to be dying?)  This is entirely NOT a "gardening in Calgary" kinda blog.

On the bright side of things, there's nothing quite like the fresh scent of fresh-mown peonies.  You'll parden me, I have to go make amends to my lady-love before she reads this and finds out what it's all about.

A funny thing happened on the way to the compost..

by Mark Zaugg 16. July 2006 22:42

Sure enough, I'm mowing the lawn Friday and, as I'm known to do once in a while, I run out of gas in the lawn mower.

So there I am, standing over the mower, refuelling it, and I look down and see the muffler more or less underneath the intake for the fuel tank.  "Now there's a school of engineering I wish I had attended."  Call me just a little bit crazy, but when you have a component that generally gets labelled as "CAUTION:  EXTREMELY HOT.  DO NOT TOUCH!" I usually think you'd want to position said component rather distantly from refuelling spouts for fear of a) vapours and b) leaks.

Oh, no worry.  There's a warning label.  Warning labels are funny enough these days (damn those liability lawyers!)  I'm pondering in my mind what it may be:

WARNING:  Do not fill with ignited gasoline.
WARNING:  Do not ingest gasoline to check quality of product.
WARNING:  Do not filter gasoline through pubic hair!

No, no.  These are just fantasies in my mind.  Instead I find

What is this?  How did they ever let that get past Bill 101.  What are we saying here?  Let's kill off all the French people who mow lawns by giving them obscure and non-detailed mower instructions.  Indeed, they probably only get manuals printed in Spanish and English.  Ghod only knows the number of times I get an item with just a French manual included.

Rise up, my Francophone bretheren!  Do not take this abomination.  Demand equal labelling.  Be certain that your toes are as valued as much as Anglos.

Then again, perhaps the lawnmower manufacturer is just thinking us tubby ol' white folk are too stupid to know:
 - Lawn mowers spin their blades when the engine runs.
 - Pushing a mower uphill is bad when you are downhill.
 - Crowds of people cheering on your mowing is annoying.
 - Backing up isn't a great idea when you're standing on the edge of a cliff.  (Corollary - don't mow along a cliff)
 - Stuff flies further when you take that protective junk off.
 - You shouldn't run over stuff that your lawnmower will throw.  (Corollary - make certain you only run over very large and well anchored things - like trees!)
 - Half a grass catcher isn't going to work very well.  You need both the left AND the right halves.  Or is it top and bottom halves?  Who the hell cuts their grass catcherss in half in the first place anyway?  Don't they leak like thatjQuery15209986595073714852_1309241140450


Catching up with the past

by Mark Zaugg 15. July 2006 01:39

Okay, it's been a long week.  A server migration at work complete with all the strange and quirky problems that always seem to come out of it..

Working on the Win98 restoration in the evenings.

Not getting enough done with the yard or the laundry or the paperwork or the other hundred thousand things nagging at the fringes of my brain.

So today, an old friend from SPARC plings me (Hi Lacy!).  She wants a number of yet another old friend (Hi Barb!).   Last night (or was it this morning?  I've been somewhere between half aware and half awake most of the week, it seems) I was talking with my Lady-Love about yet another friend down in Georgia (Hi Shelia!).  Which, of course, makes me think of my other friends I haven't heard from in ages (Lana, Jan - who hates poison ivy, Vladdie, M.J., Kent, Rakk, Gr8, msme, Skye, Wendl, Haggie, O&O, JC, Amber and let's never forget that Sexy Texan guy.)  I could list friends for hours and still miss someone, I'm sure.

It's nice to be so busy I don't know which way to turn.  It sure beats being bored stiff in my world.  It also takes an awful lot of effort to stay in touch with everyone.  Friends of mine stay friends for life.  I try to make an effort to keep up with them all.  Somedays I need more of an effort, but hey...

Tonight I hit my "morning" set of bookmarks.  Presumably I open them every morning.  I'm going 2 weeks back right now.  One of those is Mytherian's blog - just as I'm ramping up here, he's contemplating shutting his down.  Kinda a nice minder to me about what this means to me.

While Mom creates an account and writes her first message (Honest, "Mom" is reserved for you if you want it...), I remember this is an account of my kids childhood and the moments that are important to us and it's a way of sharing that with my friends and family who are distant.  A short cut for personal contact or just another form of squeezing in some interaction on a day-to-day basis.

I'm not sure how long I'll keep a motivation going here.  I've joked about how self-indulgent I generally consider a blog.  But some people get by just fine with a annual letter at Christmas.  Consider this your Christmas-whenever-the-hell-I-feel-like-it-catching-up-blog, okay?

I'll throw up a couple more pictures of the kids from the six-month hiatus this weekend.  Guaranteed.  And if you're lucky, I'll expound on the differences of French and English on the lawn mower, and lashing a fence together.  Just to ensure you that I've filled my "strange quotient."

  - Mark


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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