Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Big Day Approaches . . .

Tomorrow the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Arizona Cardinals for the Super Bowl. And it should be fairly obvious which team I am supporting.

My brother is a Steelers fan from way back. I used to sit and watch football with my dad and brother while growing up and listened and absorbed various aspects of the game but in the early years I never really "got it". Then came the late '70's. My brother was living in BC and I was at university in Sudbury. Huge Steelers Super Bowl victories and I was now aware that my brother had become a huge Steelers maniac - uniform to wear during game broadcasts, posters along the picket fence outside of the house he lived in, posters on the walls, photos of the Steelers Super Bowl parties he and his wife hosted. Got you kinda excited.

After university I moved west and really got to know my brother as a person and friend. The love of the team rubbed off - or perhaps I possessed a latent Steelers fan gene. Not sure. But it's now there and it's working!

In the last Super Bowl won by the Steelers (against a "it just wasn't their time" Seattle Seahawks team) I was unable to be present at my brother's for the game. I did take my Terrible Towel, earrings and measuring tape (yes, measuring tape) to the game and whipped my Towel into a frenzy at every opportunity and kept it out of the Seahawks fans clutches.

Friends who were both non-Steelers and non-Seahawks fans looked at the huge number of Seahawks fans in attendance where we were watching the game and decided to back my team. And after some awful referee calls that went the Steelers way (I take a win anyway it comes to me) made some good use of that measuring tape with that hallowed logo on its side, pulled out the tape to the appropriate length to help illustrate to those Seahawks fans just how close the calls were. (I'm still amazed that tape survived the day!)

This year I will be at my brother's house for the game. My brother, his wife and his best friend all prepare an amazing array of foods for any Super Bowl but you just know that everything will be prepared with an extra intensity for this year's game. On the menu are various recipes including chicken, prawns, oysters, lobster (these people really know how to eat !) and my contribution will be a dessert. Due to work overload I am relying on my fall-back dessert which is lemon squares.

It just dawned on me - the squares are GOLD!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I was at a conference

I spent the past few days in downtown Vancouver for the annual mining/mineral exploration conference held at the Westin Bayshore. It is always a great time for meeting up with old friends and colleagues, and to hear the latest pertaining to things in our industry including a chance for the government regulatory boards to make presentations on upcoming changes to their systems. This year it was even more special for me as, due to the current economic conditions, I did not attend the November conference in Yellowknife, I almost never go to the gigantic Toronto conference in March, and I likely won't attend the Nunavut Mining Symposium held in Iqaluit (and I will really regret missing the opportunity to buy the amazing Inuit carvings and other artwork that is available everywhere!).

This year I made the decision to book a hotel room. Last year I missed a few important meetings/information sessions at the Vancouver conference due to an ill-timed snowfall and I was stuck at home for the first two days. I decided to stay at the Marriott Pinnacle - a short walk from the main conference - and it turned out that several of my meeting obligations were either held right at the Marriott or just across the street.

It was a lovely few days - a chance to relax (sort of!), get some intensive work performed and I gained very useful information that will serve me well in my work. The highlight was Wednesday's fabulous information session hosted by the Nunavut Water Board. I also met up with several people that I have not seen in years and with some of my best friends.

I also can't believe the excellent sushi that I had, and it's not like there isn't a plethora of great sushi places in this area. Ate at two wonderful sushi restaurants, two nights in a row, and with the best company on both evenings!

Today I came very close to popping into the Vancouver Tiffany's (yes, that Tiffany's!) to buy something affordable in silver. Sanity reigned however and I practiced some restraint for a change! Also it just wouldn't have been the same without Denise and Allison along for the experience!

Maybe the next time I happen to be in Vancouver I'll just have to drop in and make a wee purchase!

Monday, January 19, 2009

You'd think it was spring!

The past few days have been fabulously sunny and WARM here in the Fraser Valley.

The whippets and I have had wonderful walks lately and I keep wishing I could maneuvre a camera amongst the leashes (and I only have two) to take goofy photos of the dogs during our walks.

The problem however is I have a girl that walks surveying everything within sight, anticipating a squirrel up that tree, a cat under that car or on that doorstoop, another dog out walking that must be met - and she doesn't miss a thing. The other portion of the problem is I have a boy that basically trots (well, usually paces) along, checking out smells that must be covered - but not with the total ATTENTION levels of the girl.

And when the girl sees something of interest her entire body starts vibrating and it's not always obvious if she'll keep quiet or if she'll start barking at the spied item.

And it's usually at that point that the neutered boy makes his move to attempt some initial love moves directed at the girl. Who has no idea that anything is happening in her world other than whatever it is that she's kicking up a fuss at!

So the camera stays at home.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I bought a binding machine

So the last few work weeks have been dominated with working with two other consultants preparing a report on mineral exploration work for a shared client. The report, once complete, would then be filed with the applicable provincial government agency. Providing sufficient work and expenditures have been completed, this enables the client to hold this particular property for another two plus years.

I seem to have taken on the role of chief bullwhip lasher as I am the heavy that has to get the client to hold off on other unrelated work requests so the other consultants can concentrate on the work they need to finish. With this report having a rapidly advancing due date it was imperative that the report be completed with enough time to spare to allow FedEx to get the report delivered in time. As a result I did have to crack the whip several times to hold our client at bay (don't they realize how important these due dates are??).

Last Sunday as I returned home from picking up the geophysical interpretation report and maps from one consultant I was starting to think about how we'd get the report bound once the text, maps and other items were completed. Suddenly I realized we would be at the mercy of the timeframe of the copy/binding section of the local office supply store. They wouldn't care about our deadline. And also would they put the report together just the way I want it done? Okay - so how were we to get this report bound in a timely fashion??

"Aha - buy my own binding machine!! That's the ticket!!"

Now I've worked for several exploration companies since the late '80's when I returned to the mineral exploration industry after a six-year period working in transportation. My first job back saw me doing everything from organizing a filing system to writing reports. The one thing that I found the most relaxing and stress-free (yes, I am weird!) was the binding of exploration reports. Since I was working for a consulting company who would be paid by their clients once the clients' reports were delivered to them, it always seemed to me that as I punched the pages and inserted the pages onto the binding comb's teeth that I was printing money. That particular binding machine was electric and something about the electronic paper punching sound seemed to be synonymous with a printing press sound and added to the image that I was printing money (okay - sometimes you have to find ways to get keen about certain office tasks!).

So this past Tuesday evening saw me embarking on my quest for my own personal binding machine. Now I have always loved buying pens, pencils, paper etc since I was very young so to now be buying a binding machine - truly this took me to another realm of excitement!

Earlier that day I'd checked out the models that our local office supply store carried in their on-line catalogue, found a model that seemed to suit my present and future needs, called the local store and found they had it in stock. And it was less than $500! Oh joy!

Once at the store I wandered around for a bit salivating over the various stationary items before me. I managed to locate the requisite report covers and backs, various sizes of binding combs (and secured 10 of the very desirable 2-inch comb size from the in-house copying/binding centre!) before venturing around to actually find where they kept the machines.

The staff at this particular store are always extremely helpful and a lovely young fellow carried the machine I was going to buy to both the checkout and out to my van (and of course with two dog crates and all front and middle row seats in place there was no room to put the box other than on a middle row seat - this would now require me to actually not do any high g force turns or hard braking manoeuvres on the drive back home - not an easy thing for me).

After another hard day of work the report was finally complete and I had a fun time acquainting myself with the new machine (it's very nice) and managed to get the reports pulled together.

Now I have to figure out where I'm going to store it when it is not required.

Hmmm . . . it does look lovely on the kitchen counter!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Steelers play today

I've got lots of work to do.

One client has a report due this week and I've designated tomorrow as the "due date" for those of us contractors who are working together on the report to get all of the work filing prepared. In the meantime my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers have a play-off game coming up within the half hour (this won't be a long post!) so I'm faced with having to work through the game.

The TV's on and warmed up (I'm sure I'm not the only one that remembers "those days"). The laptop's been moved to the coffee table, the whippets are comfy on the sectional with me.

Becca and Tazio have been shown my "towel" which is currently draped on the back of the sectional. The "towel" will soon be ceremonially moved next to me - probably to be positioned on my left side as Becca is tucked up against my right hip along with her plushy soccer ball that makes the weirdest boinging sound when activated. Tazio, of course, is at the opposite end of the sectional and he's got an excellent viewing angle of the TV.

Let the game begin!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Yes, Jenn, I know it's been a week but . . .

I was goaded a bit earlier today by a fellow blogger looking for more posts from me. Why, I wonder, when my stuff is relatively mundane and boring compared to her sparkling and witty observations on the world. Oh well - here are some "start of the year" ramblings.

The past week has been somewhat hectic as I returned to working to a level more consistent with my pre-mid-November work levels. For the past month and a half I just picked away at some of the more urgent work items and now am in the throes of assisting in preparing various exploration reports that need to be filed with their respective government jurisdictions so the companies holding the ground can maintain their properties through the next work period. With the downturn in the stock markets, a large number of Canadian junior exploration companies have really pulled in their wings and seem to be content to just sit tight and ride out the current ugly market conditions - not a great time to be spending money when one isn't real confident about raising additional funds with a languishing stock market.

I have a couple of clients who appear to be moving forward with their exploration plans and the filing of assessment work to help the companies hold their more promising properties is always one of those things that just have to get done regardless of tighter money situations.

It's an interesting time of the year as Marc's girls start with their club volleyball play, the new year brings a new round of dog shows, various work conferences are coming up quickly and other things start filling the calendar and the year is just over a week old!

This winter we are taking both girls to Hawaii in mid-February (to the Big Island of course - I only go where there are active volcanoes!) and this time they will have an opportunity for scuba diving. I also need to check out accommodations in the area of Volcano so we can spend a bit more time at that exciting end of the Island!

I am also eagerly looking forward to finding out when the various lure coursing, straight racing and show events will be scheduled so I'll know when I need to have Becca in shape after the winter slow-down. Becca started a coursing and straight racing career late in 2008 and I hope I can keep her in good condition so she has a good year in 2009 and hopefully stays injury-free. Tazio just likes getting out on any dog walk whether around the neighbourhood or at his favourite park.

One big event dog-wise this year is the American Whippet Club National Specialty which is being held this year in Atlanta. I finally attended my first National last year - held in Eugene, Oregon - and it was a fabulous week - great time to see lots of dogs that one had only read about and to meet people involved in the whippet fancy.

So while I should be working like mad instead we have company coming over (imminently) and I'd better get my butt in gear and get ready!!

And here's the requisite whippet pic - whippet toys appearing magically from out of the melting snow!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Becca had a holiday!

Over the New Year's period, while Marc and I were away at our little hideaway, my little girl Becca (well I guess she's not so little anymore - she will be 3 in April after all) went to visit her two half-siblings, Tanzy and Smokey.

Now Becca had come into season just a week before Christmas and the calculations showed she'd be at her most "breedable" while she was on her vacation so it was great that Smokey had recently been neutered altho' his Mom and I were quite sure he'd still be very interested! And of course he was.

What I wasn't expecting was my little girl to become such a flirt!

Becca's my first girl whippet - I have had 2 males and still have my second boy, Tazio. When Becca came into her first season I watched and watched for all of the whining, rubbing, etc that I'd heard went along with a girl in season but all for naught - Becca didn't seem to do any of the usual things I'd heard about. "Excellent" thought I - maybe I've got a girl who will be very sensible about this "season" stuff and we'll get through however many seasons until the glorious day she would go in for her little surgery at the vets. And so it had gone through a couple more seasons until this one . . .

Upon arrival at the home her half-siblings share with their human Mom (Laura) and Dad (Marco), Becca roared into the house and it was immediately obvious that she, Tanzy and Smokey were going to get along just fine. Except for the fact that Becca kept wiggling her butt at Smokey every opportunity she could get. With assurances from Laura and Marco that the dogs would all be fine, Marc and I departed for our little New Year's getaway and, due to the respect I have for Laura and Marco as dog owners, I was able to put all concerns and worries out of my head with respect to Becca.

Yesterday we picked Becca up on our way home and got to hear a few stories - about how this little girl is an absolute brazen hussy. While in the house Becca had her lovely panties to wear but even so she apparently persisted in flirting shamelessly with poor Smokey!! Marco also showed us a video of Smokey in his crate where he had his nose extended as far out the crate door as possible for when Becca would saunter by (which she was doing!) - Smokey's nose was all bent upward and his pearly whites were also showing!

It is obvious, aside from Becca's conditions, that all of the dogs had an absolutely blast together and shook off some of the boredom they are all suffering from due to the stupid snowfalls we've been enduring in this area (and the idiots that don't realize they are legally bound to shovel their sidewalks!).

The little hussy is now settled back at home with her older companion Tazio who, other than the fact that he occasionally has a sniff, really has no interest in Becca's current state and reprimands her quite often for flying about the house like a lunatic.

Guess my little girl is growing up . . .