Friday, June 23, 2006

Surgery Epilogue


Well, I'm home. The day went very well...though did have its moments of pain. As a matter of fact, Mr. Tylenol the 3rd is the only thing keeping me going right now.
The one thing I'm most happy about is the fact that I was not sick following surgery. Not even a stomach flutter. I had been worried about having a technicolour yawn all over the recovery room. One little victory.
What sucks the most? My right arm is immobilized for a week. I'm typing this with my left hand....hence what is destined to be a short entry. I am going to fiddle with some of my voice recognition software tommorow so may blog more then. Just wanted people to know that my arm is still attached.
Stay handy!
Tim

Todays the day


Finally, the day has arrived. This morning I am heading to Southlake Regional Hospital to get my shoulder fixed. So, I finished my last coffee about 1/2 hour ago (normally I'd drink tea, but I cannot have milk - bloody vegans must run the hospital), and am hanging out with my son...whom I have discovered is getting to be pretty freakin' fast! One minute we'll be on one side of the house, and the next moment I realize he's on the opposite end of it. I'm looking around for Jeff Goldblum to see if he's built a teleporter pad in the house. Since he's nowhere to be found (must be off filming another television pilot), I must come to the conclusion that Nathaniel has some cheetah DNA in him.
The kid is growing up fast. He doesn't walk yet, but is already driving. He cruises around the house with his Little Tykes pushcart, and he takes no prisoners. Anything in his way is roadkill. The cats and our ankles suffer under his mighty wrath.
Nathaniel growing up is one of the reasons I am excited about having surgery on my shoulder. As he gets bigger and coincidentally, heavier, he will be more and more of a burden to pick up. If my shoulder was not fixed, then there would reach a point where I just could not do it anymore.

Unacceptable.

I want to be one of those fathers who is able to place his kids on his shoulders, and throw them up in the air (hopefully catching them), and all those cool 'daddy' things that kids look forward to. Having both shoulders functioning at 100% will ensure that this happens.
Next, gotta get the knees fixed so that I'll be able to race with him. But that's another story.
I'll post later and let you know how the operation went.

Friday, June 16, 2006

He doth Protest too much...

I had my first professional acting gig in ten months last night. I don't normally take background work, but as the industry has been soooooo slow lately, I took it to keep my agent happy. A company is currently shooting a mini-series for CBC about the Protestant Reformation, and I was booked as a 16th century vagabond...drinkin', smokin' and gettin' laid whenever and WHOMever was available. You could call him one of the hippies of that era.

We shot at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto, in the Half-Way House - which was setup like an ancient gathering hall. Between the multitude of candles, the chimney stoked and a smoke machine setting up the atmosphere, it got to be a pretty hot hour or so. I enter with two mugs, one for myself and the other for the rebel-rouser. I sit down, laugh and drunkenly chat with others at the table, then once the rebel gets up and starts yelling and tearing pages out of a book (assumed to be the bible), I go to one of the girls at the table, pull her up by the shawl to get a quick snuggle, pull the shawl off of her, throw it to a friend and then lead her out of the room for sights and pleasures unseen. Should look good on camera. Hence the unseen bit.
I'm not 100% sure when the series is going to be on, but I'll keep my ear to the ground and will report back once it is released. it'll be a short scene - the entire series goes over a 300+ year period, so there won't be too much focus on some drunken 16th century gits. It was a fun shoot though, and the cast and crew were a pleasure to work with. I'd do it again...but would still prefer some principle work.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Meet The Illiterati

The Illiterti
Meet The Illiterati
I was writing a grandiose blog entry telling the entire history of how our group came to be, but then w.blogger suddenly decided to commit suicide 3/4 way through my post. I'm disgruntled, tired and my fingers are sore from typing.
So, I'll paraphrase, and may re-write our history tomorrow. If my fingers stop smoking.
The group (Eric Luvisotto, David Wichman, Alexis Davids and myself) had our second show at The Bad Dog Theatre tonight, and it went very well. Bad Dog Theatre
We competed Theatresports style against The Sweater Sisters, and had a great time in three sets; first playing Typewriter (inspired by money, Dinosaur Eggs and the nation of Togo), followed by Compressed Day In The Life (A Catshoot - literally a photo shoot for cats), to be closed with an open scene (Playing Hookey).
Personally I felt we all did fantastic tonight. I know I was a lot more comfortable than our first gig, and we gelled well as a group. However, only one team may win the match, and the other team had more friends in the audience voting for them (though we only lost by 0.6 points).
The format of this show was better than the first time too. The first time around was a three team match, where only the judges awarded the points (ala Who's Line Is It Anyway. Now that they've whittled it back to two teams and given the power back to the audience, it feels more and more like a real Theatresports match-up.
In my less than humble opinion, the four of us are a great team, and I see us getting better and better with each gig...I just hope the others agree with me and aren't whispering let's cut that Tim guy, he's deadwood.
Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to be pursuing some more shows outside of The Bad Dog for us to partake in...but until such an event happens watch for us at The Bad Dog Theatre - Midweek Mayham in a couple months (about when the rotation of teams finds us a spot).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Automated stupidity

When my current employment overlord requested that I leave the world of consulting behind to work for her new fledgling department, it was with the understanding that my skills in software automation would be put to good use. The need for regression testing was paramount in the process adopted from our UK brethren, and I was promised my own then considerable body weight in software tools to get this done.
Then things went insane.
"A testing department, you say?", was the word spoken all over the company. "WELL, that's a strange idea, I mean - our programmers are immortal genius' who never make mistakes. Let's fill these testers plates with all one million ongoing processes, it'll be easy work, since all our code is emaculate."
Needless to say, my time to build these automatic packs and scripts disappeared faster than an Enron executive with a passport. Initially, I was asked to help with manual testing at the same time that I was also needed to build tracking tools to handle the truckloads of defects being discovered by our team (to the company's surprise). Soon, our team began to grow, and I was needed to build tracking tools to track the team. Considerable time was spent building sophisticated reports for the upper management to glance at briefly, scratch their heads in wonder, and then file away under "Didn't happen, don't want to know about it. Launch the code anyway."
Over a year and a half went by. Then suddenly, the hammer came down from my boss's boss. "Uh, that Tim guy you have there...wasn't he supposed to be building the regression packs?"
My boss, in a shining moment of wisdom, answered back, "Well, yes. But even when he does, and writes the 3 billion test scripts that will test our systems up and down...who is available to make any fixes that would be found from his tests? Every company resource we have is working 200% allocation as it is!"
I never discovered their answer to this, but I assume it went something like, "Oh, don't worry....we have loads of money to hire all new staff to fix this stuff. We just don't have any places to put them, or people to train them." (The last bit was probably mumbled quietly).
So, I was asked to build my first scripts, starting with a project to test postal code territory changes. Total built scripts for this project - 21732. Amount of scripts that winrunner can run per day (on average) - 400. Time given to test - 5 days. Do the math...doesn't add up. So, I made the executive decision to randomize the scripts, so that it's really doing a sort of hunt and peck test. Not 100% efficient, but with one PC running this stuff for about 10 hours, what else can I do? I can't even just let it run 24/7 as I'd like to, because they take the QA environment down at night.
Next problem encountered...what do I PERSONALLY do while my computer is running these scripts. It's busy...I can't use it. So, after much pressure from myself, my boss has assured me that I will get a second PC to allow me to do my other jobs (ie, write more regression pack scripts). However, it seems kind of moot to do this, because apparently I will not be able to log onto this new PC. Seems the new Security chief at the company has written the decree (without apparent exception), that staff can only use their NT logon's once - no concurrent logon's permitted. Also, generic ID's have been banned. So...I get a nice, shiny new paperweight on my desk...OH JOY!
When I told my boss that this was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of, she told me, "Well, he has a mandate", to which I shot back, "Ummm...SO DO WE!!! Why don't we push back for once instead of letting them walk over us." She said, "Ok."
I didn't trust my boss to phrase the business case properly, so I wrote it for her...and I expect a fun time to watch the fur fly and for exec's to decide whos' tape is reddest.
The crap makes my eyes burn...I'm thinking of sticking out my thumb to get a ride outta here.
The saddest thing is, I have been informed that my position is apparently so important that they are hiring a second automations specialist...so that there will be two us sitting around staring at our computers screens.
Maybe the other person will know how to play bridge...I've always wanted to learn.

Back with a fervish

I'm back.
My circumstances are not unique, so I won't go into too many details about the loss of a muse, but after a rough patch in February I just lost any ambition I had to write. Stuff happened, and I sort of shut down for awhile. Happens to everyone once in awhile.
Other than for a few bumps in the road, I've been eyeing my keyboard more and more lately, and the muse in my head has been waking up. I have ideas, and need to force them out. No promises for anything life altering, but you never know what might come out of this noggin' o' mine.
Let's tie up the loose ends...what the hell have I been doing for the last four months?
Well, to connect to the last posts I wrote...Jasper Station was postponed. The timeframe was obscene and unacceptable. It came inches away from causing permanent harm to my marriage. And I let it.
Why?
That's a question I had to ask myself, though it took awhile. My wife asked it many times.
I'm a theatre geek. No doubts there. Have been for well over half my life. I'm so ingrained in the theatre community that when I'm asked to do something, no matter how tight the deadline, I pull through. I've been into everything over the years - acting, directing, producing, graphics, websites, advertising, tech, stage management, set painting and even executive council. I love to be asked to do things.
I have a hard time letting go.
I'm married now and have a child. I need to let some of it go. Not all at once, and not all of it forever. Just need to handle less at a time. This means I have to push back a bit on schedules and be willing to turn people down when necessary. It's not THAT hard...it's just a two letter word....'N...n...n...no'. Ok, not that easy either...but I'm learning.
To fill the artistic void left in my heart by Jasper Station going away, I took on a smaller but amazingly fun role in 'No Sex Please: We're British", with South Shore Theatre. This fit the bill a lot more. The schedule was lax, the atmosphere was fun (for the most part), and I was onstage in my underclothes. What more could you ask for in a show?
In the world of improv, I have not returned to school for a few months, but have been filling that void with a couple shows with my group The Illiterati. We perform at The Bad Dog Theatre during their Midweek Mayham shows whenever we get spots. In fact, we have a show tomorrow night.
Back to Jasper Station news. Theatre on Main has acquired the services of Steve Thomas, who wrote the music for the show, to begin as Musical Director (whether he sticks it out or passes the torch is yet to be seen). They reheld auditions a couple weeks back, and I recently discovered that I have been recast as Sterling...with a show being held in November. NOW THAT'S more like it with timeframe. I'll have the summer to learn all the songs and dialogue, and we will begin rehearsing in the fall.
Nathaniel first birthday
Nathaniel turned One year old on June 1, and the party was planned for the 4th. Well, expecting many young children to be present, the dire need to build a fence came into the forefront. So, with the help of my father-in-law Stefan (ok ok, more like his work with help from me), we have a 200 foot long galvanized steel fence running along the canal. So, no worries now about fishing ANYONE out of the water in any shape or form. It looks nice, and will probably raise our property value quite a bit, based on the safety factor alone.
Running up to the 4th was a bit of a worry, as it rained quite heavily right into the morning, but the day itself turned into a glorious day of BBQing, cake eating and friends gathering. All worth it.
Stefan and I are still working on the property. Now that the fence is up, we are spending some time levelling the property with dirt acquired from our front garden (which we plan to patio stone in). It's a lot of tiring work and the yard currently looks like a warzone but the final result will be very rewarding.
Finally, after a very long wait, I go under the knife on the 23rd to get my shoulder fixed. They're going to open me up, clean the bone spurs out, decompress the joint, and fix any potential tearing that may exist. Recovery time varies depending on what they discover in there...could be in a sling for a couple days, or could be in for weeks. Since I'm right handed, and it's my right shoulder being fixed, it's going to be a bitch to do any writing, typing, etc; And since I drive a standard car...ooo this ought to be fun. Let's hope for the short recovery option.
Well, that's a short synopsis of where I've been. Now, let's just see where I go. Hope to enjoy the ride.