Tuesday 30 March 2004

not rubbing it in, honest

the best wake up call

I woke up this morning to a kiss and a cup of tea in bed, which is slightly unusual (the tea, not the kiss). Jasper pounced up on the bed with a small, giftwrapped package in his mouth. An early birthday present, Paul said. It was a travel guide, followed by a card containing our itinerary.

We're off to Rome tomorrow morning!

I am excited, thrilled, and over the moon. No one has ever taken me away on holiday before. I've never been to Italy before. I've never had a dog bring me a birthday present before. If I wasn't at work, I'd be running around in small circles going "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!" all day long. Best birthday present. Ever. Best boyfriend. Ever.

And of course I must wish a very happy birthday to my evil twin Gary who is also *muffle muffle* years old tomorrow. May a naked Mr. Burns pop out of a giant cake and serenade you with a Marilyn-esque rendition of Happy Birthday.

Monday 29 March 2004

no wonder paul looks a bit frightened these days

It's getting bad. I'm now at the point where I say things like, "Look! Even fictitious lesbians are having babies!!" when watching ER. Yesterday, we discovered hundreds of frog spawn in our pond which for most people would be a poignant sign of Spring. I shouted out, "Look! Even the frogs are having babies!!" When Paul asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said "A baby - I'll be ovulating around that time, so you could literally give me a baby for my birthday!"


hooray for babies!

Yippie, yahoo, woohoo, and hurrah to Cameron and Lisa on the birth of their daughter Maggie Sakura on Saturday. Lisa is one of the many people who have been touched by my fertility goddess powers*, and it brought me great joy to hear about the birth.

I also urge you to read Heather and Jack's birth stories, if you're interested in that sort of thing. Wonderfully written, humorous (and touching) accounts of labour and birth.

*(Any of you wanting to reap the benefits of my fertility goddess powers may still do so, although there seem to be a lot less pregnant people around me and a lot more new parents instead. Hopefully my powers have not gone past their sell by date.)

Friday 26 March 2004

we seem to have forgotten about wales

Did I ever mention that I posted pictures from our holiday in Wales last November? No? Oh. Click here to see pictures (no text written yet, sorry).

your questions answered, part 7

It's time to go through my site stats and answer the questions desperate Googlers have been asking themselves, and ended up at this site no further enlightened.

what nuts mean in french?: "Nuts" (or as the French pronounce it, "nuhtz-ay") is a term used to describe the fruit of certain trees and shrubs or people who think wearing socks and sandals on the beach is a good idea.

where to find sheffield hookers?: I'm guessing...Sheffield? Or is that too obvious?

why does dog scoops his food on to floor?: Because dogs prefer to eat their food as they would in the wild - on the ground, fleeing on four legs, or out of the toilet.

I wish you a happy and pleasant weekend.

everyone's a comedian

I asked the director of software development if we are going to be affected by our annual (although it now seems to be trimonthly) office shuffle. He said:

"I had noticed that we weren't making terribly good use of the bike shed, so was thinking that would be a good place to relocate you to."

And people wonder why I'm so cynical.

Thursday 25 March 2004

it's a small world after all

So I just met the new guy who's called Jean-Luc. He comes from an area just north of Cannes, and I jokingly said "I can speak Quebecois French at you, if you don't mind the accent". It ends up that not only is he married to a Canadian lady from Toronto, he lived in Montreal for a year.


Wednesday 24 March 2004

and she didn't even barf on me

Had a visit last night with the fabulous Jack and Heather and their newest addition, Rebecca. She is absolutely beautiful and yes, I'm probably quite biased. I think the conversation in the car on the way home went something like: "Baby. Now. Want one. Now." whilst tapping my watch repeatedly. I really don't want my friends to get the impression that I'm some crazed broody lunatic who's only interested in their babies because I'm so keen to have one myself. No really, I'm not. I just get such a kick out of seeing the mini versions of my friends. It's one thing to look at pictures of someone's baby (particularly someone you don't know well) and think that s/he is very cute. It's another thing entirely to hold a little person who was created by two of your good friends.

As an only child and unmarried, I've never been an Auntie Lisa. I am thrilled to be a pseudo-Auntie to my friend's babies, even if this means there will be several British children wondering why they have an Auntie with a funny accent. Paul's 8-year-old niece Grace sometimes refers to me as "Auntie Lisa, not just yet". How lucky am I to be surrounded by these great kids?

Still tapping my watch repeatedly, though.

Tuesday 23 March 2004

you mean it's not waterproof?

So I dropped my digital camera into the sea on Friday. Don't look at me like that; it slipped off my shoulder while I was dipping my toes in and it barely touched the water. Or so I thought. Now my camera thinks the lens cap is still attached when it's not, and the display screen now has a funky diagonal scrolling effect, making picture taking a bit of a challenge. The USB cable has also ceased to work and there are little bits of sand wedged in the microphone. On the plus side, the pictures on my memory stick are still intact. Yay.

This is annoying because I have some baby visiting to do this evening and I wanted to take lots of pictures. I am being forced to use my older digital camera, which is most uncool. It's only got 1.3 megapixels, for goodness sake! It's like having a mobile phone without a colour screen, 5 channels on TV, and a dial up connection. Hmph.

Did I mention that we're baby visiting tonight? Cannot wait to see Jack and Heather's wee one. Since no one's baby has managed to barf on me yet, I'm betting that tonight may be my lucky night. (And here I am wearing black.)

Monday 22 March 2004

my brain is still in bed

We managed to fit all of our purchases, luggage, dog, and dog-related items into the car and made our way home yesterday afternoon. My plants are still alive, but looking a bit morose. I'm jetlagged and sunburned (but only on my back and shoulders for some reason) and very glad to be home.

Even though it felt very familiar, there were many signs that we were definitely not in Canada. We saw a woman with a small dog in her handbag shopping in a mall. We saw too many overtanned middle aged women with bleached blonde hair and permanently surprised expressions. We saw several gun shops (and is it really a good idea to have a gun AND pawn shop? Doesn't that just tempt people to rob you of your pawned jewellery after purchasing a gun?). There was an ad for "stuffed French toast" from a chain restaurant, which looked like deep fried bread with whipped cream in the middle, covered in more whipped cream and powdered sugar. Every menu had a special low carb option, light beer is advertising itself as being low carb (it used to be low calorie), and stores were filled with low carb foods (I find it amusing that the low carb chocolates and candies contain exactly the same amount of fat and calories as their sugar-laden counterparts). Apparently, it's customary to tip 20% at restaurants. No wonder Americans think that Brits and Canadians are bad tippers.

Even though it wasn't a holiday, it was nice to be somewhere warm and dip my toes in the sea. And just like being on holiday, I'm now too fat to fit into anything that isn't completely elasticized.

Thursday 18 March 2004

i'm gonna soak up the sun

Ah, another day in paradise (if paradise consisted of a lot of concrete, Denny's, and about ten dozen Wallgreen's). It's been gloriously sunny today - I've admired it from my office window all afternoon. Tomorrow is our company's beach party (to celebrate the launch of our most recent product), which may sound like absolute bliss to some, but to me, it means having to appear in public with far less clothing than I would like. Does anyone really want to see a pasty Canadian on the beach? Goodness, no.

I miss Jasper terribly and I need to be back home, and preferably, I'd like to take our hotel bed back with us (and the weather, too). It's a very strange feeling being homesick for a country you've only lived in for 3 1/2 years, but I'm homesick nonetheless. Roll on Sunday.

Wednesday 17 March 2004

bring me a muumuu

If I eat any more, I will be the size of a sumo wrestler. Can't...take...any...more...of...these...American-sized...portions...

Salad. Need salad.

Tuesday 16 March 2004

it's nice to be nice

Everyone at this office is so nice. They smile at you when you walk past them in the hallway. They say, "Hihowareya?" when you see them in the kitchen. One of the big cheese's assistants has been so helpful, I feel like I should bring her a bouquet of flowers every day. People want to take us out for lunch (and 10 other people want to come along). Colleagues offer to find us interesting things to see and do during our week here, and one has offered to take us on a tour of the Everglades on Saturday (unfortunately, we won't really be around that day).

It's really nice to be around people who are so...erm...nice. Maybe living near a beach in lovely sunshiny weather makes people a bit friendlier. Maybe it's just how Americans are. The friendly peppy perky "Hey guys! I'll be your waitress tonight! Isn't that like so super duper cool?" kind of attitude can be a bit much for those of us who hail from more reserved countries, but I like how people aren't afraid to make small talk or give you a smile.

I am having a nice day, thanks.

more kiwis, more!

Congratulations and lots of love and smoochies to Jack and Heather, who added one more Kiwi to the Cambridgeshire population this morning! Welcome to the world, Rebecca - we can't wait to come visit and lavish you with pressies.

Way to give birth, Heather! *pumps fist into the air going "woowoowoowoowoo!"*

Monday 15 March 2004

land of the free and home of the bagel

After a relatively uneventful flight (i.e. barely any turbulence, hurrah), we have landed in the sunshine state. And we have shopped. Oh yes. Day two, and we've already done the big Denny's breakfast, a meal at the Outback, and a whole shedload of shopping. Happy days, indeed. Although the sun seems to have buggered off for our visit, it's lovely and warm and our team has a convertible (herein known as "The Pubsmobile").

I like being here. Certain things and places are familiar and there are a few Canadians running aboot the office. We were greeted with many smiles and warm handshakes, and everyone said that I sound soooo English (much to the amusement of my British colleagues). I once again heard Canadians claim that their accent sounds so much softer than the Americans and a bit "Scottish" (I'm sorry, my Canadian brothers and sisters - you do sound American and not at all Scottish). The Americans were very surprised to hear that the English think Canadians hate being mistaken for being American (they didn't understand why anyone would find it insulting). I had a lemonade while sitting outside on a breezy patio next to the water during lunch, and that makes me happy. I don't even feel jet lagged today.

Now if only the sun would come back out to play.

Friday 12 March 2004

one last one before we go

Well you know my name is Simon,

and the things I draw come true.

Oh the pictures take me take me over

Climb the ladder with you.

Thursday 11 March 2004

get our yer crockpots

Tosha's stalking me. I swear, I blogged about this first. ;)

a noun is a person, place, or thing

In the shower this morning, I was thinking about all the shows we used to watch as kids. It was early and I was a little sleepy, thus the odd train of thought.

Feel old and reminisce with me, won't you?

  • Davey and Goliath - I never realised that this was supposed to be religious. All I knew was that it was about a boy and his dog, and the boy got into all sorts of wholesome trouble such as eating too many pies and feeling ill (or maybe that was an episode of Gumby.) It was on a variety show called "Rocketship 7" with Commander Tom (who was actually a weatherman and not at all a real commander). The Simpsons make a reference to it when Santa's Little Helper asks Bart, "What's the matter, Bart?" with the Stevie Wonder-like head movements we knew from Goliath's animation.

  • Electric Company - only North Americans who grew up in the 70s know that Morgan Freeman was the Easy Reader before he ever drove Miss Daisy.

  • Schoolhouse Rock - Also parodied on The Simpsons every now and then, I maintain that this was one of the best ways to teach children. Its creators knew that kids absorbed stuff in short, commercial-style segments set to music. 30 years later and I can still sing most of these songs from start to finish. This is where De La Soul got the sample for "Three". The Schoolhouse Rock Rocks CD is also rather amusing.

  • Zoom - I can still remember the zip code "oh two one, three fouuuuur". I sent them art. They never showed it. Bastards.

  • Vision On - I love how ads here still use the gallery music. I sent them art. They never showed it. Bastards.

  • Don't Ask Me - With Magnus Pyke (you may remember him from Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science"), Adam Hart-Davis, and David Bellamy. A very fun science show (if there can be such a thing) that explained things like why you appear upside down on the back of a spoon.

  • Various animated programmes that now make you go "WTF was that?" - Barbapapa, Jeremy ("I'm a bear called Jeremy! I can do most anything!"), Hattytown Tales (a UK reject), Willo the Wisp (I never understood why Mavis the Fairy sounded like a drag queen until recent years), and Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings (odd that none of my British friends remember this one).

And of course those Canadian gems like Mr. Dressup, Polka Dot Door, and Friendly Giant. I feel old now.

Wednesday 10 March 2004

squeaky wheels

In all my years of being an employed person, I have discovered that at every job, there is someone who is chronically Very Busy. So busy, that they must tell you about it every time you see them. If you ask them a question, they preface every answer with, "I'm SO busy right now" and flap their hands in an exasperated manner until you say never mind, you'll ask someone else. The funny thing is, in reality, none of these Very Busy people are actually doing much of anything. They just make themselves seem really, really busy.

Here are some tips for appearing Very Busy (and thus, very important).

  • Whenever anyone approaches you with any issue, no matter how trivial, react as if they have just asked you to calculate pi to 22 places whilst juggling chainsaws.

  • Start every sentence with any of the following: a deep breath followed by a lengthy exhalation (like you're trying out a technique you've learned in an anger management class), the rolling of one or more eyes up towards the ceiling, and/or the phrase "I've just been in a killer meeting" (even if you are in the toilet at the time).

  • Phone random people throughout the day and when they answer, say "I can't talk right now! I'm too busy!" and hang up.

  • Don't brush or cut your hair. Or change your clothes. People like you don't have time for personal hygiene.

  • Always have your office door closed. No one will ever know that those lengthy, important phone calls that keep you occupied for 8 hours a day are really conversations with your stay at home wife, asking her to tell you what's on television and provide a brief description of all the shows you're missing by being in the office.

Tuesday 9 March 2004

it really is so much like The Office

So I just got off the phone with an Engineering Services guy in our US office. I couldn't access a file in one of our document libraries because whoever created it hadn't set its status to "publish". ES guy said (mistaking me for the person who made the error), "You gotta actually publish the file so that people can see it. That's the whole point of Sharepoint. So that you can share documents. *snort*"

Ah, so much like Comic Book Store guy.*

*("Are you the creator of 'Hi and Lois'? Because you are making me laugh!")

...aaaaaand relax

I came across a large chart in a book the other night, explaining all the various symptoms of pregnancy along with alternative explanations for these symptoms (i.e. if you're not actually pregnant). I found it rather amusing (maybe that's not really the right word for it) that almost all symptoms could also be attributed to stress. For example:

Symptom: Menstruation ceases

Causes: Pregnancy, increase in physical activity, stress

Symptom: Nausea

Causes: Pregnancy, illness, stress

Symptom: Headaches

Causes: Pregnancy, vision problems, stress

So for those of us who've spent a good deal of time feeling stressed, pregnancy should be a breeze, right?

i bet you couldn't feel a pea under that

The hotel we're staying at in Fort Lauderdale has something called "Heavenly Beds" in each room: "The all-white, 10-layer bed includes a custom-designed, pillowtop mattress, a down blanket, and a down comforter, all topped by five queen- and king-size pillows." No actual room for any human beings, but man, that'll be one comfy bed.

Apparently, "The Westin Heavenly Dog Bed" is also available. That would last approximately 7 seconds with ours.

ever so lonely

From a tech writing newsletter I received recently:

WritersUA is running a poll at the moment, asking: "How many of your team members are also close friends?" So far, 40% of respondents have said they have *no* close friends in their team and 38% have said they have only one or two. This should prove to be no surprise to those who have heard of the concept of professional loneliness. This is a state of self-imposed limits, caused by the world of niches and specialisms that we live in today.

So it's your duty to befriend a technical author today. Bring chocolate.

In all seriousness, I found these results to be rather surprising. Almost all of my close friends are current or ex-workmates. Even though we've only got two authors at this office, I would consider my teammate a good friend (even though geography makes it very difficult to socialise outside of work). If we lived closer to our Chalfont office, I would definitely socialise with the authors based there. So why is there so much "professional loneliness" in our field?

Monday 8 March 2004

i'll be humming this all day

This has been going through my head today thanks to Gary:

See my vest, see my vest,

Made from real gorilla chest,

Feel this sweater, there's no better,

Than authentic Irish setter.

[From "The Simpsons", of course]

Sunday 7 March 2004

the waiting

Heather and Lisa are due anytime now, and I think it's safe to say that both of them are eager to get this show on the road, so to speak. I'm so excited for both of them, and I am so looking forward to seeing pictures (Lisa) and our first visit (Heather). Gary and Ruth are coming over with baby Naomi today, and I can't wait to hold her. Is it strange to have such emotions for a baby that's not even yours? Or related to you? Hormones. I blame hormones.

I was reading another one of my pregnancy books last night, and felt especially moved by the sections that described the various stages of fetal development. I felt myself smiling at the bits about baby hiccups and how babies have "nap times" even before birth. I really want to get pregnant now. Really. Now.

Hormones. I blame hormones.

Friday 5 March 2004

anyone interested in a short black-haired coat?

Please tell me that this is supposed to be humorous:

Thursday 4 March 2004

oh, the irony

Is it just me, or is it kind of amusing that one of our security specialists leaves his PC unlocked when he's not at his desk? Am so tempted to send a naughty email to the entire company from his computer, but shall refrain.

viva italia!

It looks like Italy wins as (one of?) this year's holiday destination(s?). I spent last night reading through the Rough Guide to Italy (they really are the best travel guides I've used - accurate and helpful), and an Italian/English phrasebook. I can now say things like "sono cana-dAY-zee" (I am Canadian) and count to ten. Go me!

I like planning holidays, I do.

Wednesday 3 March 2004

and you thought your passport photo was bad

Tosha's Unflattering Photo Project is making me giggle like a loon. Go see.

i can feel my collar getting whiter

So we're off on a business trip to our head office in Fort Lauderdale in two weeks. This is My Very First Business Trip© and I must say, I'm kind of giddy at the thought of company-paid hotel accommodation, meals, and flying in something other than economy. It's also rather nice that Paul and I needed to go during the same week (they needed to use up some travel budget money before the end of March), so it'll make the flight there and back a lot more bearable. As some of you may remember, I'm not keen on flying. Or rather, I'm not keen on turbulence. Flying is fine. It's the dropping out of the sky bit that annoys me.

Tuesday 2 March 2004


Move along; nothing to see here.


I don't know if I'm a worrier by nature, but I do know that I think too much. In my younger years, I tended to dive into most anything head first without a second thought (I still do this sometimes) but now I plan. Whether or not I actually stick to those plans is another matter entirely, but I do plan. I don't like to be surprised unless it involves an enormous diamond ring, winning lottery numbers, or George Clooney popping out of a birthday cake. It's probably strange to make plans for babies we haven't even conceived yet, but it makes me feel better; more prepared somehow. On the downside, it also means that I am starting to fret about things that are a long way off yet.

I am still in a quandary about the whole working/not working/working part time thing. All I can do is save up for any maternity leave now and just see how I feel when the time comes.

I'm on day 18 of my cycle and there's been no temperature shift yet. I promised myself that I wouldn't turn into a maniac about charting (I've seen enough obsessed people's messages on various pregnancy web boards to deter me), but it is a bit disheartening. I have a fear that years of being on the pill, my current age, and my wonky cycles as a teen/young adult means that ovulation is unpredictable. Or nonexistent.

I'm going to be 35 at the end of this month. I didn't really care about that until I realised that by the time we're ready for baby #2, it might be too late. I'm not even sure how long it'll be before we start trying for baby #1. And then how long it'll be before baby #1 is born after x months of trying. Gaaaaaaahhhh! *tick tick tick tick tick tick tick*

Otherwise, I'm peachy thanks.

Monday 1 March 2004

kid fears

When I was little, I was afraid of several things for various reasons (mostly due to an overactive imagination and a few too many snippets of horror films I caught on TV while being babysat). There are a few things that still give me the heebie jeebies, such as monkeys, clowns, and puppets.

Imagine my horror when I saw this. And these. Gahhh.

when i grow up

When I was little, I wanted to be a singer and an actress. I used to sing into a skipping rope and I would sometimes pretend to be a panelist on Match Game (Blankety Blank to you UK people). When I was 7, my friends and I pretended that we were Charlie's Angels (I was always Kelly because I had long dark hair), and when I was a pre-teen, I thought Fame and Flashdance were the best films ever. I took dance classes for years and went to theatre camp one summer. I was in many plays, school assemblies, and other various productions throughout my youth, and got to sing three times in front of an audience (once solo).

I never did become a singer or an actress, but I can entertain kids for hours with silly voices.

What did you want to be when you grew up?