First Daze

The last thing I remember was the close up of patient’s eye.  Everything was copacetic right up until the surgical instrument extracted the metal filing.  My blood galloped to meet the floor and my body, the traitor, was helpless but to follow.

I was reawakened as classmates struggled to upright me.  “Are you okay?  You don’t look so good.”

“No, I’m fine.  Eye injuries just make me squeamish.”  The momentary humiliation stung.

“Mr. Dyck.  You’re excused for today.  Tomorrow, we start the real course material.”

How could I protest after being unceremoniously unseated on my first day?

I had been warned about the gory nature of the shop’s safety film and its aim to scare safety mindfulness into freshmen.  Putting forth my bravest face, I had grossly overestimated my ability to muster mind over matter.

I stumbled woozily onto the bus while fumbling to produce my monthly pass.  Defeated, I slumped into the seat and burrowed my head into my jacket.  My eyes stared blankly at the pedantic transit advertisements.

The transit meandered its way to my home with ceaseless stops and starts.

The girl seated in front of me looked around with a gaze that differed than most.  When had she gotten on the bus?   The Camwest Center?

With the most devilish grin from ear-to-ear, the girl turned to face me.

Next Stop

 She clasped something in her left hand.   A similar substance was on her cheek.  At first glance, I guessed chocolate.  The whiff that followed clarified otherwise.  It was a defecating matter!

My stomach contents ejected upward while my hand grasped desperately for the next stop rope.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

With breakfast in my mouth, I rushed the rear door.  The ride stopped.  I exited, expelled, exhaled, and embraced fresh air.  Sweet fresh air!

My composure was nearly regained as the next bus arrived.  Once boarded, seated, and mildly relieved, I couldn’t help but notice the constant trickle of passengers from the earlier bus, all being picked up along the way.

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The above is my response to Trifecta: Week Seventy-Eight where this week’s word is pedantic (adjective)

1 : of, relating to, or being a pedant(see pedant)
2 : narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned
3 : unimaginative, pedestrian

The challenge requires my response to be between 33 and 333 words.  The word must be used once in its third definition.

My response’s story idea stems from a real-life situations experienced by my roommate on either his first or second day at SAIT (over 20 years ago).  Good or bad, it was the first thing that sprung to mind when I looked up pedantic.

The Farewell

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Leave it to me to get all sappy about the ending of a TV show…  As you may or may not know, this was the last season for NBC’s The Office.  Eight and something-something seasons later, the show’s finale aired last night.  It didn’t disappoint.

Seinfeld is the last significant television finale still etched in my memory.  Nearly everyone I ever know who watched Seinfeld felt the same annoyance I felt towards its final episode.  How could such an epic Thursday night tradition have ended so poorly?  It still turns my stomach to think about it.

Conversely, The Office couldn’t have ended better.  It left me smiling, laughing, saddened, but most importantly, it resolved the story(and unlike Seinfeld, didn’t leave you wondering if the show you’d watched for so-long might have only been half as good as you remember).  I was one of those few people who followed the show from season one.  Over the last week, I’ve been asking my peers, mostly co-workers, if they happen to watch The Office.  Once again, I’m one of the few.  So nine seasons later, what’s changed?   Now at least everyone knows of or about the show, even if they don’t watch it.

Back in spring 2005, the concept of The Office was new and novel.  It immediately peaked my interest with its documentary feel and character camera interviews (like soliloquies or confessions caught on tape).  And it was about work, and those were the days when I actually felt passion and worth just going to work.

The Office made a second season, and its fandom at my own workplace grew (likely because I was avidly promoting it).  Using my VCR, I would faithfully record the show on Thursdays, and during Fridays’ lunch break, my co-workers and I would bust-a-gut laughing out loud while watching the recording.  Like Miami Vice (Friday nights of my youth), Saturday Night Live (Saturday nights of my youth), and Simpsons (I can’t recall what night of my youth), watching The Office with a group of people makes the experience that much better.  Maybe like in a theatre or cinema, viewers feed off of each other’s emotions and reactions.

TheOfficeUKI’ve watched and appreciate the BBC’s The Office, but not nearly as much as States-side recreation.  Looking at each adaptation of The Office TV show, they differ so much as to practically exist on different planets (not just continents).  The intro scene into the BBC version seems sad, nearly dismal if not depressing, and the intro cinematography makes the show almost look more industrial than about an office.  But credit indeed goes to Ricky Gervais for creating the concept and for getting the whole idea rolling.

So what made The Office different from other television sitcoms?  It was the characters and the setting.  The personalities on the show were both believable and yet over-the-top funny.  So often, the show’s characters could seem so real, down-to-earth, and relatable, while other times you knew the story writers were taking you on some wild goose chase.  And their stories played out in an office space where just about anyone might relate.  Other times, the first person filming of scenes left the viewer actually feeling like part of the cast.Quad_Desk

What will I miss most about The Office?

I’ll miss the emotion that Michael Scott could awake in me–at times I just couldn’t help but root for him because he was the ultimate underdog.  Other times, he would leave me cringing or bubble up with anger.

The cast, while looking more like average folks, rather than Hollywood supermodels, had the ability to capture the viewer’s attention (and often their heart).  At different points in the story, substance rather than superficial made me appreciate each personality for who they were (or developed into).

Watching The Office often ended up being therapeutic… helping me appreciate the quirky nature of working with others, and to realize that the craziest day at my work seldom matched the madness portrayed on the TV show.

A few of my favorite scenes from The Office:

Megadesk
Quad Desk
Booze Cruise
Lip Dub Intro
Princess Unicorn
Finer Things Club
Dwight’s Concussion
Jim playing Call of Duty
Holly doing Yoda Impression
Michael Scott Paper Company
Death Bus (actually called Work Bus)
Michael Scott’s wearing a Woman’s Suit
Creed coloring his hair black to look younger
Identity Theft — When Jim steels Dwight’s look.
Holly, the new HR person, thinks Kevin is retarded
Andy sings to Angela with backing from the friends on phones
Dropping a water melon from  atop of the building onto the trampoline
Dwight reading the speech Jim wrote for him at the Paper Sales Conference

(and too many more to list)

So after spending nine years tagging along, thanks  for the smiles, stories, and laughs!

Do you have a favorite scene or storyline you related to in The Office?  Leave me a comment 🙂

Farewell Mr.Klein

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When I was in later elementary school, Mayor Ralph Klein came to visit my school’s Pioneer Days.   That was my first memory of him.  I don’t remember many details about Pioneer Days, nor anything about what he said that evening, but I certainly remember Mr. Klein.  As one might expect, the Mayor made an address to the full gymnasium of families.  Being in grade school, full of energy, and most interested in all things play, I  never took note that after the event, Mr. Klein patiently stayed to interact one-on-one with the oodles of parents.   On the way home that evening, my own parents remarked to each other how Mr. Klein had opted to meet and greet instead of bowing to his handlers’ wishes for him to depart for their next appointment.  My parents’ observation left an impression upon me.  Ralph Klein was a man of the people, and if the people wanted to talk, he was there to listen.

In early High School, a casual friend named Chris Burnie bragged about how he was chastised by the actual mayor, Ralph Klein, for making out with his girlfriend on the steps of City Hall.

A couple years later, a girl I was dating happened to live a couple doors down from the Klein’s home in Calgary’s Lakeview Community.  That relationship didn’t last, and sadly we never ran into the Kleins while walking her neighborhood during those warm summer nights.

The first time I ever voted in a provincial election, Ralph Klein became Premier.  Friends, out of the country during the election, came back stunned to discover that King Ralph now ruled Alberta.

Other friends I made while working in Halifax remarked to me about how offended they had been at Ralph Klein’s statement about how those “eastern bums could freeze!”  It turns out that he wrongly gets credit for saying it, but actually never did say it (as reported here in Macleans).  Never the less, it does indeed sound like something Ralph Klein might say;  he was a fellow who spoke his mind and seldom worried about being politically correct.

I was fortunate to be an Albertan when Premier Klein sent out those infamous Ralph Bucks.  I can’t recall how I spent my $400 prosperity cheque, but it sure made my friends and me smile.  I still smile when I think about it.

My Uncle, who retired and moved back from Japan a few years ago, has facial features that remind me of Ralph Klein.  I appreciate both my Uncle Les and Former Premier Ralph Klein, and for different reasons.  Strangely, whenever I look at one of them, I’m often reminded of the other.

In Ralph Klein’s later years, things seemed to catch up with him.  I remember when in 2004 the news reported about his plagiarism in essay writing.  Disappointing as it was to hear, this wasn’t a surprise to me.  If Ralph had been my a friend or relative,  he definitely would have been the last person to ask about citing references on a paper.  I was also never surprised when Klein’s alcoholism occasionally reared its ugly head in the media.   Did we honestly expect differently from a fellow who ran his first shoe-string mayoral campaign out of St. Louis Hotel & Bar?  Along with the good also came the bad.  Flawed like one of us, once again, he was indeed a man of the people.

I’m saddened to hear that Ralph Klein passed on.  He wasn’t a typical politician, and not even a typical guy, but he was good for Alberta.  I doubt any parents are pointing to Ralph Klein as a role model for their children, but while he was alive, he reminded me that even average fellows can do amazing things.

I earnestly hope that Ralph knew Jesus.  I think eternity would be more interesting with a fellow like him around.

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Ralph Klein Park
Image by http://www.carlosamat.ca

2013. Tuesday’s Grey and Wednesday Too.

Friday, I’m in Love

On the opening weekend, my family and I went to see the Hobbit.  My kids loved it.  My wife thought it was a bit too violent.  My nine-year-old son delighted in the fact he’d just been to a 14A movie (and that “he was only  age nine!”).  Yep, in his mind, he’d pulled a fast one on his dear old dad.  I had to laugh thinking back to seeing The Lord of The Rings at some midnight showing with friends and co-workers, long, long before my son had even been conceived.

It was in the moment, that I realized I’d been to see the movie with my friend Chadd; the same fellow who departed earth for heaven this last year.  That brought a moment of sadness.  How could so much had happened between then and now?  It made me wonder if there’s film showings in heaven.  It would seem a shame to see the other three films and then to miss the Hobbit.  Or is the business of heaven, what I imagine as pure fun, simply too distracting?  For a few seconds it was mind boggling.  But life waits for no one and time marches onward.

New Year’s Eve always seems anticlimactic for me.  Maybe it’s because past New Year’s Days seemed blue to me.  Or in the lyrics of The Cure, this year “Tuesday’s Grey and Wednesday Too!”  Yep.  I imagine Wednesday, my first day back to work  (real work that is), will seem a bit grey.  *sigh*

Welcome 2013!  I know that not all the days will be blue or grey.  Some days will definitely feel like Friday, and being in love.

2012, I’ll always be thankful for a wonderful Christmas spent with loved ones.  And to my friend who departed this mortal life too soon, thanks for helping me remember just how precious each person and friendship can be.  And for every crumby thing that happened in 2012, thanks be it that I can leave you in the dust with reassurance that “This too shall pass.”

So in 2013, I pray God make every new day his reminder that the business of love, His Love, must remain my most important focus.  Matthew 22.39

Thanks also to Loy Valera for the cool design found here…

http://beta.threadless.com/product/1589/Friday_I_m_In_Love/tab,guys/style,shirt

Deserting and Dissolving

I work in IT.  That is, that I attempt to solve people’s technical challenges.   Presentation audio/visual work (AV) is my least favorite part of IT.  Anything technical involving a presentation in front of people, more specifically clients,  has a huge potential for screw up.  Projector bulbs can (and will) burn out,  USB memory sticks can (and will) lose their drive partition, and public address sound systems can (and will) give ear-piercing feedback.  About the only thing worse than doing AV in your own office is doing it offsite instead.

A few weeks ago my employer was hosting their annual charity golf tournament.  I’d been at the same golf course one year before, in its club house banquet room, fighting with its sound system, irked to discover it was insufficient to drive sound for the charity’s multimedia presentation.  Fast forward one year later…  and I’m going to the same club house, but this time trying to improve options for multimedia sound.

For a few weeks, I tinker with computer speakers around the office.  It occurs to me that we could rent some AV equipment, but the point of the tournament is charity.  The more money spent means less money for charity, Calgary’s Homeless Foundation.  To make matters worse, I hear that this year the golf course has been nickel and diming for all the extras.  This just strengthens my resolve to find a no-cost option.

At home, I happen across my wife’s old JVC KaBoom Box.  When Karen taught aerobics in Ottawa, she used to haul it along to community centres and gymnasiums.  It’s gun-grey ugly, but if memory serves me right, the sound output is awesome!  I test the AUX port and its 52 watt speakers don’t disappoint!  But wait, what’s this black gunk on my hand?  The rubber guards on the speaker ends are sticky?  I can’t for the life of me figure out what happened to it.

After a bit of research on the net, I discover that other JVC owners have encountered something similar sticky situations.  Chemically, the rubber ends on the stereo became unstable during the last decade .  I end up taking the stereo apart and scrubbing the rubber goo from the speaker guards for a good couple hours.  Thank goodness for Sunlight soap and scouring pads.  Now the boombox isn’t just ugly, now it looks vintage ugly with a distressed finish.  More importantly, using the JVC the presentation at the golf tournament goes off without a hitch.  The president of the charity even thanks me for making the presentation run so smoothly.

Dissolving.

I’ve been trying to put my finger on the word for some time now.   I couldn’t figure out what was happening between a couple beloved friends and co-workers at my not-so-loved Purple Prison.  Like the JVC’s rubber speakers, my friendship with these co-workers has been changing.  What was once solid now seems to have broken down and disappeared.

I’ve heard it once said that some friendships only last for a season.  School friends fill my mind when I think of seasonal friendships.  A while back, I’d written an entry about being stuck on a Deserted Island.  In the article, I’d named two co-workers who I held in high regard. and even indicated that we had really gelled.  It seems that was also for a season because somewhere along the way, the gel was dissolved.  I still think well of both people, but am a bit lost to know or understand entirely what happened.

Previously, I had written seven reasons why I wanted them there on that desert island with me; Sense of humor, transparency, sensitivity, empathy, common interests, diversity, and trust.  From my list of seven, almost anything could be removed without huge implications, except for the last.  When trust erodes between friends, the rest become difficult, strained, contrived, and too often impossible.

And maybe there’s the lesson.  At this point, not blame nor cause really matter any more.  When trust dissolves, the friendship, the closeness of the friendship, pretty much ends.  It was a great for a season, but saddly, even the best of seasons come to a close.

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Yesterday, I sent out a message to forty something friends on facebook letting them know that our friend and colleague, Chadd Milke, had been taken home to be with the Lord. In the last twelve hours, my mind has flooded my thoughts with memories of my dear departed friend…

Chadd and I go back a long time–even before facebook. We first met working for Blessings (BCM) back in the late 90s when, newly hired, he came to visit me at the Saskatoon store. At the time, Chadd was going to assist in managing the newly opened Winnipeg store. Right from our first meeting, I could tell that Chadd wasn’t cut from the same cloth as me, but I liked him immediately. Most people found Chadd to be a very like-able fellow.

A couple years later both Chadd and I would move to Edmonton, him from Winnipeg, me from Saskatoon, so we could both work at BCM’s new Support Centre offices. There Chadd’s friendship blossomed with his co-workers (Chris, Joy, Trisha, Janet, Christine, the Bobst girl whose name I can’t recall, Felix, Jim, Ruth, Sharon, Erin, Annie, Paul, Sheri, Sarah, Larry, Janice, Mark, and others I’ve forgotten–my apologies to you).

In those days, work felt like family. We had our good days, we had our fights, and we had challenges, but Chadd was one of those people who made going to work fun! He had a great sense of humor, and for those of us who invested our friendship in Chadd, we got to know one of God’s especially created personalities.

To say Chadd was a “music guy” would be an erroneous understatement. That fellow always amazed me with his passion for music. Many people have commented to me about my diverse and eclectic tastes in recorded music–Chadd’s interest, knowledge, collection, and appreciation makes me look like an amateur. And he knew artists and artists knew him too! I consider it a privilege to have introduced Chadd to at least one musician, Jesse Cook, considering that he introduced me to hundreds (if not thousands).

But Chadd wasn’t just into music; he loved reading books, and meeting and interacting with their authors. I recall he even was friends with Brock and Bodde Thoene, and Gilbert Morris (I think that was the fellow). Chadd was the most well read “music guy” in our business. Chadd also loved going to popular media and cinema–I recall going to Midnight Movie Premiers, like Lord of the Rings, with him and other friends from work.

In my work life, to amuse myself and try and lighten the mood, I dream up “camp’ names for my coworkers… If you’re lucky (or some might say, unlucky) I’ll share them with you. My camp names for Chadd included… Chadd the Milkman, “who always delivers”, Cha-Cha, Chadd-man-of-mystery, Mr. Rhondo, Chaddzilla, and Chad Solo ( I’m pretty sure he hated the last one the most since it was in reference to Han Solo from StarWars… Chadd would have nothing to do with StarWars; He was a Trekkie through and through).

There is no doubt that I got on Chadd’s nerves from time to time, but he was always very gracious and kind–truly a brother who modelled the fruit of the spirit. Chadd was also one of the most dedicated employees I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. His work ethic rivaled that of my mother, and she’s one of the hardest working people I know. A significant part of BCM’s success in those heyday years were built with Chadd’s sweat and tears. One warm summer afternoon, Chadd received one of the only Support Site award I ever recall being given–he won (and indeed deserved) to be The Support Site Employee of the Year.

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Eventually BCM sold, and the Support Site family was fractured with those who would move to Chilliwack, and those that move on to other things. For those of us who moved to Chilliwack, Chadd included, what we arrived to seemed like a TV Big Brother experiment gone wrong. The entire support staff was packed into two offices and a lobby, while the new headquarters underwent a complete renovation. Working in such tight quarters was challenging for all of us, but my Mom would later share with me that it was especially difficult for Chadd. The fact that all of us made it through with our sanity in-tact was only by God’s grace.

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In Chilliwack, I gained a new appreciation for Chadd. My kids were growing up, and Chadd was growing up in his own way. One of my favorite memories with Chadd was him going trick-or-treating with my kids, Mr. Woodward, and me. Jana and Justin, loved hanging out with him–he might as well have been their Uncle Chadd. When things wound down for me at Blessings, and my family moved back to Calgary, there was Chadd to say good bye.

Over the past few years, Chadd and I have connected by email and facebook, and I always appreciated how he’d bring new music to my attention. Even though we wouldn’t see each other face to face again, with Chadd, it always felt like he wasn’t that far away.

I think that Chadd was like that for many of us in that he had a unique friendship with each person. I’m sure my experience was different that yours, but it makes me appreciate how God uniquely created each and every one of us.

Chadd, rest assured my friend that you will be greatly missed, and that you made a bigger mark on lives than you might have imagined!  It was a pleasure spending time with you here on Earth, but I look forward to meeting you again in Heaven, and hearing about what great music awaits me there. While you’ve gone on ahead, I’ll be praying for your family and friends who will be missing you greatly.

Your friend,

Lane

Missing Chadd

Deserted Island

Before I started writing this piece, I thought I was going to write about being stuck on a desert island.  As I began my writing process, it occurred that I might have chosen the wrong word.  Did I actually mean a deserted island?  It wouldn’t be the first time I had chosen a wrong words–nor will it be my last.

I also didn’t want to leave an impression on my wife that I would rather be stuck in a tropical paradise with other people, not including her.  The island I was trying to portray was something more… LOST-like, but without all the crazy stuff (only what I’d heard since I only ever watched the first episode).

Upon Google defining both desert and deserted island, my friends at Wikipedia indicate that both are indeed   “A desert island or uninhabited island is an island that has yet to be (or is not currently) populated by humans.”  This was exactly what I was attempting to describe…  basically stuck in the ocean (kind of like Tom Hanks in Cast Away).  This desert island post stems from a discussion with two great coworkers at my beloved Purple Prison, GaoRong and Coralie.

(In my own experience) Friends seldom become coworkers, and friends that do, typically don’t remain friends after laboring together.  Most coworkers remain coworkers–fused into a “professional” relation by place, position, and situation.  Other coworkers end up as adversaries–too bad for them because life is too short for that kind of conflict.  Occasionally, a few select coworkers gel together and actually become friends in the workplace.  This last group is the ones that often make work enjoyable (and more bearable).

Gel-ing coworkers can often  have goofy conversation about work, popular culture, personal experience, and life in general.  These friendships are typified by a genuine interest in each others’ lives.  Really great friends at work can even discuss politics, religion, and another forbidden topic that I can’t seem to recall (I think it was sex, but since I haven’t anything too interesting to mention about that, we’ll it’s never been an issue).

While wondering about those three forbidden topics, I ended up Googling this article from money.usnews.com:  40 Topics You Can’t Discuss At Work  Wow!  Take away all 40 of these topics and some people might have nothing much to discuss… My own new favorites from their list include…

  • (10)  The progress, or lack thereof, of your therapy   (if I could afford therapy, I think that I would want to talk about it.)
  • (11)   Your blog URL  (this seems obvious, considering my topic today)
  • (29)   The state of your undergarments (never even crossed my mind, that’s a good one.  What about ripping the crouch of my pants at work?  Does that count?  Because “that” actually happened last week!  Breezy!  Too much said?)

The fact someone actually took the time to articulate these 40 things makes me worried about the average worker’s ability to use their discretion *sigh*

I know amongst my friends at work, sometimes the conversation turns to kidding.  Occasionally this kidding involves silly ways we tease each other, and sometimes the teasing can get into cutting or sarcasm.  Sometimes this goes too far, so much so, that  when a person, like me, is trying to give a real compliment, it doesn’t get taken seriously.

In one such conversations, to get my point across and demonstrate I was being genuine,  I suggested that if I had to pick only ten co-workers to be stuck on a deserted island with, both of these coworkers would be in my list of ten.  My point of this statement was to indicate that each coworker was the type of person that I would want with me in that hypothetical circumstance.

And truthfully, both GaoRong and Coralie are the type of co-workers that would make my list of top ten islanders to be stuck with on my imaginary island.  This isn’t to say they’d be perfect island-mates, or that we never experienced a personal spat before, but rather that despite the good and the bad, they are stand-up people, the kind I would prefer to have with me in a rough patch.

So thinking about my hypothetical deserted island, what would you say about your own coworkers?  And what would your coworkers say about you?  What defines the kind of person that each of us would want with us in just such a situation?

Thinking about GaoRong and Coralie …  Why would I want them there with me?

  • Sense of humor (and the ability to laugh at oneself).
  • Transparency (the ability to really be yourself, and to not worry about people seeing the “real you”).
  • Sensitivity (good friends are attune to what’s going on).
  • Empathy (Maybe the grind of our Purple Prison has naturally brought us together).
  • Common Interests (music, popular culture, personal experience).
  • Diversity (different life experience, an interest to learn from each other).
  • Trust (not worrying that anyone will be getting “thrown under the bus”, and heaven forbid it happens, knowing there’s forgiveness afterwards).

Last Friday was a good reminder about why I picked GaoRong and Coralie to be my island mates:  Thanks to both of them for staying late to help me with all 28 international packages despite being finished (and permitted to go home)… you two are the best!

So in the scheme of things, where you work, would your coworkers be stuck on a deserted island with, or without you?  Why do you think that is?