Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas.

Be safe and if you are traveling watch out for the other drivers as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm special not odd

Quite a few years ago I wrote an article called “I'm Special Not Odd” and it was about dealing with allergies and specifically food allergies that I have. The title was from a conversation with a parent about her son and his allergies when she said he was odd. To me having food allergies isn't odd, because so many people have them and I said to her, that he wasn't odd, he was special.

You see, for me dealing with my food allergies has been a challenge because I was 35 when I was first handed an auto-injector (Epi-Pen) and was told it was something that I was going to have to deal with for the rest of my life. What I didn't realize was that the first food allergy wasn't going to be the only food allergy that I was going to end up with. Now I go out and eat and if it is a new restaurant it becomes the challenge of asking all the various questions to make sure that I am going to be safe eating. My allergies are shellfish, pineapple, raspberries and cottonseed so of course not a lot of the common allergies that people seem to understand. OK, the shellfish is one of the top 10 food allergies but the rest aren't so they are harder to deal with when eating out.

Pineapple was something that I loved to eat growing up and now I have to totally avoid it. I have discovered that pineapple is used in quite a few barbeque sauces as a sweetener. Now I didn't think of that until eating some ribs and wondering why my mouth was getting very itching. After asking we discovered that the restaurant had changed their brand of barbeque sauce and their new one had pineapple in it. Yes I learned the hard way where pineapple could be found.

Raspberries are something that I also loved growing up and we even had raspberries bushes out the backyard which I loved. The bushes were actually planted so that I could go out during the summer and have berries ready to eat. Well, now I can look at all those raspberry bushes that people have and know that I just have to avoid them for the rest of my life.

Shellfish was something that I found out the hard way and it was by eating wings at a restaurant and the kitchen had used the same tongs to pick up my wings as they had used for some shrimp. Yes cross-contamination was how I discovered the shellfish allergy. We traveled down the east coast quite a few times while I was growing up and one of my favourite foods was scallops when we were visiting my aunt and uncle. Now, I can look at all the shellfish and seafood and avoid it because I don't want to have the allergic reaction.

Cottonseed was the challenging one to find because it hasn't been very well identified in a lot of food. I have finally found out that it is in some oils and even some steak seasonings so a challenge to find. I have had to find that one the hard way sometimes but at least now I have figured out where it is used most of the time and just avoid those foods. No seasoning on steaks when eating out and only eat fried foods if it is a known oil and no shellfish is fried in it. Well, since starting to write this blog I found out that even some peanut butter has cottonseed oil in it.  Now the search starts again for me to find food I can eat.

So see, I am special and not odd really. I just have some challenges that other people don't have but I have learned how to deal with them. I know that there are still chances of developing other food allergies but I just have to watch what I eat and ask a lot of questions when we are out at a restaurant.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Observing others

It is so much fun sitting and watching the people around you. Some people seem to have the appearance that they are very important and must let everyone know that they are around. Other people will sit very quietly and you will barely notice that they are around. I enjoy just looking around and seeing the different type of people that you can see and in some cases the people that you can hear. 

There are people that still very still and then there are the people that seem to never sit still and are either crossing and uncrossing their legs or they constantly are swinging one of their legs. It is interesting just sitting and watching the movement of others. What makes it very frustrating is when you are sitting in a row of seats with a person that is constantly moving and they are bouncing your seat as well. The bouncing of the seats is something that can really get to me when I am trying to read or write because it makes it very difficult.

Another movement which is fun to walk is how people walk. There are those that seem to walk with a purpose and those that seem to be trying to disappear into the background. I know that when I do a lot of my walking I walk with a purpose so that I can show some confidence. In some cases if you walk like you want to disappear you can be taken advantage off. Walking with a purpose simply means just walking with your head up and looking around and where you are heading, and not looking at your feet.

Being able to observe others around you can even help you figure out what type of person you are out in public. Being aware of your surroundings can really help you keep out of trouble because those people don’t like it if you could identify them.

I had a situation where I knew that if I traveled at a certain time I wouldn’t be someone that was confident of my surroundings so I decided I was best to avoid that situation. Knowing how to avoid situations and even get away from these situations can assist you.

Look around next time you are out in public and see what type of people you see. Also look at yourself and see what you see about yourself and you might be surprised.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Have you noticed that in the world today there are so many acronyms and you almost need a dictionary just to keep track of all of them. Could you imagine the size of the dictionary that would be required for the acronyms. Even with the various ones I see through IT it would be rather large.

When it comes to acronyms the challenge is that the same two or three letters can be used for a bunch of different things. We ran into a situation a while ago with one simple acronym meaning something that we didn't expect in the IT world. Now the one I am talking about is DC. No I am not talking about the District of Columbia in the states but three different meanings in IT that I know of.
  • DC = direct current, domain controller and data centre

That is only one of the many different acronyms that I have found that in IT there can be more than one meaning depending on who you are talking to. What gets me is when people throw in the various acronyms thinking that the person they are talking to understands the term they are meaning. We have been in many different conversations and of course I had a different meaning of the acronym then the person saying it meant.

When you are writing and using the acronyms especially in a document or email, it is very important to define the term and show the acronym, after the term, at the beginning of your document. This ensures that everyone has the same meaning that you are intending them to be thinking of. In the case of DC it was used in an entire document without it being defined and it took us the longest time to realize they were talking about Data Centre as we had never head DC used that way before.

If you are going to use acronyms please make sure that the people that are getting the message will know what abbreviation you are using. Even if you are in the same industry remember that the meaning that you are using may not be the one that the receive is thinking of.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Organizing your work area

Clean desk top

Have you looked around lately and noticed that the area on your desk and around it was getting a little out of control? Well, I did and decided that it was time to do something about that.

Of course my desk is used for a number of things both for the home office for myself but also for the personal stuff so a lot of stuff ends up on the desk and around the desk. I have to admit that just sitting and looking at the desk was getting very frustrating.

Over the last week I have had a project and that was to find the top of my desk because I had room for my computer and that was about it. I use a laptop so that meant I didn't have a lot of clean space on the entire desk area which wasn't good.

I was looking at different websites to see how they would recommend setting about cleaning up an office area and organizing it and I came to the conclusion that the best person to decide how to set up an area is the person that is going to be using it. Yes I probably took little bits of the different ideas but after a lot of work I came up with what was going to work for me and now I have a clean desk and am going to start tackling all the other areas around the desk.

Now you see that I do have a lot of different things on my desk besides a second monitor and a scanner. Those are other reasons why I never really have a lot of room on my desk but at least now I have room for my coffee cup and some other things that I can use while I am working on a project.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Juggling many projects

I think all of us have days where we sit and wonder what we really accomplished at the end of the day. There are also days that we can sit back and feel very good because we have had lots of accomplished during the day.

One challenge that I know I face some days is not being able to stay focused on one project. Yes it is the juggling the different things that I should be doing and doing a bit of everything instead of completing one task at a time. I think we all have days like that when just bouncing around between tasks seem to work better than staying focused. In the long run you end up getting all the tasks done but it is a slower way of doing them.

I know that I have my to-do-list that I keep and that is one way that I can try and start focused. My to-do-list is something that I try and keep up-to-date but there are times that even that doesn't get completed very quickly. The to-do-list can even sometimes get out of control because of the number of things that really should be on it.

One thing I have found that works when I am juggling many projects is to break down the projects into smaller tasks. Of course a lot of the tasks aren't very big but at least you can see that you are getting something done instead of feeling like you are getting nothing accomplished. The juggling of the multiple projects doesn't help in a lot of ways because each time you jump between projects you are spending time rethinking each of the tasks because of just working on one until it is done.

Now what I am going to attempt to do over the next couple of days is to focus on one project at a time and see if I am able to get things accomplished. The juggling will continue as I await for answers from other people but if a project is under my total control I am going to try and get one done at a time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Public Transit

Have you ever taking some time to really look around when you are on public transit and to observe other people and what they are doing? It can be interesting to just sit or stand and watch other people around you and see what they are doing. Here are some things that I have seen on the public transit.

1. Bags don't pay for a seat – so many people decide that the bag or bags that they are carrying deserve a seat and they put their stuff on the seat beside them. The bags didn't pay a fare so why are they taking a seat from someone that has paid a fare. I know that if the vehicle is crowded and I see a seat occupied by stuff I ask the person to move the stuff so that I can sit in the seat.

2. Take up too much aisle space – I understand that we all need to carry stuff on public transit but try and keep it as close to you as possible. The aisle is for moving around so the stuff needs to be either on your lap or tucked in very close to you.

3. You paid for one seat, please take one seat – So many people when they sit down seem to spread out between a couple of seats. What I am talking about is how many people make sure it is very difficult for anyone to seat beside them in a seat. Either they spread their legs so that they are blocking part of the seat or they sit between the two seats so that no one can sit beside them.

4. Take your garbage with you – so many people will leave the newspaper that they have been reading and simply just drop them on a seat as they leave the vehicle. I have also seem people leave their empty beverage containers and other garbage. There are recycle and garbage bins that this stuff should be put into and not left to make a mess.

5. Priority seating – priority seating are for individuals that require them and not for the able bodies person. If someone gets on the vehicle that requires the seat and if you are seating it in and you are able bodies you need to move and let the other person sit down. I have seen people just look down and pretend to not see the person that really needs the seat. I love the drivers that make people move so that a person requiring the seat can get it.

6. Your music or conversation is for you not everyone else around you – so many people are listening to music on transit now. The only thing that really bothers me is when I can really hear the music when someone is using headphones. If I can clearly hear what they are listening too it means it is way too loud. The other people are the ones that watch videos on their mobile devices and don't use headphones which isn't right and it is against the transit rules. Conversations are the other thing that get me especially when young people want to carry on a conversation with someone at the other end of the vehicle, either move together or want until you are off the vehicle to carry on the conversation.

7. Door ways – doors ways are for entering and exiting the vehicle and not to be blocked just because you feel like standing there. I have seen so many people get on a vehicle and just stop just inside the door not thinking about anyone behind them. The other people are the ones that move in but then move back into the door ways and take up the door way and make it very difficult for others to enter or exit the vehicle.

As you can see I have had some interesting trips on public transit. I do take the time to watch the people around me because you can learn so much just by watching people. Please remember that when you are taking public transit to be considerate of the people around you as you never know who is watching.