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Hi There…Its Been a While

Posted by Sirdar on August 6, 2010

Hello.  Its me.  Its been a while.  Just about a year and a half.  A lot has happened.  Some good….some not so good.  But I’m still alive and mostly healthy.  The mind though is another thing.  Its been in a bad way for quite some time.  I think stress makes your mind work inefficiently.  That would be how I would describe it….inefficient.  Its working 1000 mph but in many different directions.  I’m thinking its starting to turn where thoughts are going in the right direction.  Only time will tell.

You know, its amazing what a person can go through.  I’ve gone through more in the past couple of years than I’ve ever had to deal with before.  I think once you go through some tough times you get a different perspective on things.  You think things are so bad, but in reality, there are so many that have it worse than you.

My dad, for example, is going through so much right now it is amazing he is managing.  Oh, you can see things are not well with him….but he is coping as best as he can under the circumstances.  But it is definitely taking a toll and I feel so bad that he is having to deal with the situation that he is in.  I just hope I can learn from his experience when I get to to his age and have to deal with unfortunate circumstances.

My Aunt.  92 years old.  Still going.  Not as nimble as she used to be but still going.  She is in a place where she doesn’t have to do much except wash her clothes.  It was tough on her before she moved in, but she figured it was about time to make that move and she did.  She is having some issues with her back, but with the therapy that she is getting, she is doing pretty good.  Her mind?  Pretty good.  The body could be in better shape but her mind is still going strong.  Hope it stays that way.  I haven’t had to do as much for her now and that is good for my sanity.  I’m happy she is happy.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself in the past couple of years too.  I’ve learnt that I need to deal with stress a lot better than I have.  Oh, I can still get stressed over things, but it doesn’t last as long and I’m learning how to manage it better.  I’ve been in many situations lately where it almost feels like I’m numb to it.  Its come to the point where sometimes I don’t care what happens…life will go on.  If you follow me in Facebook, you’ll know what type of hours I’ve been putting in at work.  Its just about time where things will start to normalize.  That is good.  Now to catch up on all my work I have at home.

Well….this is just a little post to say HI again.  I’m trying my best to feel better and get my mind in the right frame of mind.  Maybe its that dreaded Mid Life Crisis thing.  Don’t know.  All I know is there have been times I just wanted to get off the ride.

Anyway…hope you are all doing well.

Posted in Blog Things, Life | 8 Comments »

The Sirdar Chainsaw Incident

Posted by Sirdar on May 23, 2009

Ok…not quite a massacre.  In fact the carnage was hardly worth a mention except for the fact that it could have been prevented.  I didn’t follow proper safety precautions.  I always tell the kids to wear the proper safety gear (PPE – Personal Protective Equipment) when using machines or tools.  For example I make them wear ear protection and safety glasses when cutting the lawn.   Last week, I was picking up wood that I cut into the correct lenghts and I just happened to be wearing my chainsaw hardhat with a wire mesh face mask.  I bent over to pick up one piece and a small tree (sapling) that I must have cut, poked me in the face mask as I was bending over.  It was going straight for my left eye.  I don’t normally wear my hardhat when picking up the wood and the only reason I was wearing it was because I thought I’d grab a couple of logs to to take with me to where I was going to start hauling them out with a cart.  Lucky again that I was wearing that mask.  I think someone or something is trying to tell me something…..

Anyway, in response to Dawn’s post where she may have indicated that I was an Idiot, here is the results of the incident.

Damage to Coveralls

Damage to Coveralls

Just a Little Cut

Just a Little Cut

See.  Nothing Serious (Yes I was lucky)

See. Nothing Serious (Yes I was lucky)

All Cleaned Up

All Cleaned Up

I was sweeping under a dead spruce tree that I had raised in order to cut off the branches.  I swept, let off the throttle, and was taking a step to move over, lost my balance a bit and the chainsaw blade touched my knee.  Thank goodness it was slowing down and I didn’t have it on full throttle.  Yes, it was incredibly stupid for me not to wear my chainsaw pants. I was lucky this time. I’ve cleaned it out using Detol and put on a anti-bacterial ointment on it so hopefully there won’t be any infection.

This shows how easy it is for something to go wrong and why they have the safety equipment for people to wear.  I know many who would call it ‘sissy’ equipment.  Being out in industrial plant sites, people’s lives have been saved because they were wearing the proper safety gear.  I’ve learnt my lesson.  From now on….no playing lumberjack without my PPE.

Posted in Advice, Embarrassing, Home Life | 16 Comments »

Enjoying the Holiday

Posted by Sirdar on April 21, 2009

So….we are away on holidays.  Were staying with friends in Abbotsford.  Took the Mac with us so we can have everything with us.  Went to White Rock today.  The weather was beautiful.  I see back home it is supposed to turn cold….again starting tomorrow.  Does it ever end?

At least we have people looking after the home.  We have some pretty good neighbours.  Were hoping for some people to drop in to say “hi” to Lucy Lu as she gets lonely if someone doesn’t go visit her.  We fortified the fence….so hopefully she doesn’t figure out how to break loose before we get back.

Tomorrow we go to visit my nephew at his new place.  Then on Friday we head to to Vancouver Island….and off to Comox to visit a friend that I went to high school with.  We graduated in 1979.  Sunday we go to Sidney to pick up our son from his sailing trip.  Then we head back to Abbotsford and spend Monday with our friends again.  Tuesday….the 12 hour trip home.

It is sure nice to have a place to call home…when you are not at home.  Anyway, time to get back to…holidaying :-)

Posted in Family, Friends, Holidays | 6 Comments »

Can’t Sleep

Posted by Sirdar on April 14, 2009

It doesn’t happen very often, but there are nights I just can’t sleep.  I don’t have insomnia as it isn’t chronic.  However, Sunday night was a bad one.  I remember looking at the clock at 3:48am.  And I don’t believe I fell asleep before that.  I eventually did as my alarm woke me up at 5:50am.

The funny thing is that I wasn’t alone in not being able to sleep.  I told my Department Head about me not sleeping Sunday night and he said he didn’t sleep much either.  He just couldn’t get to sleep and it sounds like he had a similar amount of sleep as I did.  Others also said they couldn’t sleep.  Odd that there were at least 5 people who said they couldn’t sleep.  Maybe it was the long weekend and people just didn’t want it to end.  Maybe it is the stress of work these days with no budgets and short deadlines…people are kind of stressed.  Who knows.

Well…obviously we got through the day.  My Department Head and I went out for East Indian food for lunch.  I love East Indian food.  Most East Indian restaurants around here are buffet.  I really don’t like doing buffet…because I always have to get my money’s worth.  Lets say lunch didn’t help me stay awake in the afternoon.

Today, I felt more tired than yesterday even though I got a normal night sleep.  I’m guessing my sleep bank is a bit short.  Tonight….going to bed early.

On the plus side….I love that new CPAP machine.  I never used one with the humidifier and my ears and sinuses haven’t bothered me since I’ve been using this one.  I had Sleep Medix send an estimate along with the diagnoses and letter from my doctor to get a new machine approved by our health insurer.  Its around $2700 so I am hoping they are going to cover it.  They said they would as long as I send in the things they wanted to see.  So, my 1 week trial with the test CPAP machine ends on Thursday.  I’m hoping to get a new one on Friday.

Anyone else had a hard time sleeping on Sunday night?

Posted in Health | 6 Comments »

The Breath of Life

Posted by Sirdar on April 12, 2009

I have sleep apnea.  Actually, I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  Here is a link for more info:  What is Sleep Apnea?

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a potentially life altering and life threatening disorder that occurs in approximately 4% of men and 2% of women. It is a disorder whereby there is complete or partial obstruction of the airway during sleep. As a result individuals have disrupted sleep which may result in excessive daytime sleepiness and if left untreated may lead to further health related complications. Although OSA is fairly common, it often goes undiagnosed, however due to the morbidity and even some mortality, we need to familiarize ourselves with associated symptoms and available treatment options.

I was diagnosed in 1995 and have had the same CPAP ( Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) since then.  Last Thursday, I went to a place called Sleep Medix.  They lent me a new machine that will measure what pressure I require.  It is an auto adjusting type that….adjusts based on my needs…apparently.  It also comes with a built in heated humidifier.  And one other thing….It is QUIET.   It makes mine sounds like an air compressor.  They have new masks too that are a lot more comfortable.  Me thinks I will be happy with my new machine.  Plus, my health plan at work pays for it :-)

Signs and Symptoms:

Individuals may present with one or several of the following signs and symptoms when screening for possible Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

* Snoring
* Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
* Decreased Memory/Concentration
* Depression
* Morning Headaches
* Waking with a Choke or Gasp
* Personality Changes/Irritability
* Hypertension — elevated Blood Pressure
* Nocturia — frequent nocturnal washroom visits

One of the reasons I went to check out a new machine is because I have been very tired…..for quite some time.  I didn’t think that I was getting enough air pressure.  I think I was right.  I’ve woken up the past couple of mornings feeling like I actually had a good sleep.  That sure feels good when that happens.

I would recommend that anyone who even thinks they have sleep apnea should get tested.  You will feel so much better after you get your CPAP machine.  And now that they are much more quiet than they were many years ago, it is even easier to use.  Some people can’t get used to having the mask on, but if they keep it up, they will get used to it.  I can’t use the ‘normal’ masks as I don’t get a good seal.  I use the nose pillows and found they give me the seal I need.

Know of someone who has sleep apnea?  What has been their experiance?

Posted in Advice, Health | 6 Comments »

The Mind is a Wonderful Thing

Posted by Sirdar on April 7, 2009

What makes up my mind?  Oh ya….that grey matter between my ears.  Or Dawn…..probably more likely Dawn :-?

I don’t know what is going on but I sure have a lot going on inside my head.  For the last two nights I’ve woken up around 2:30am…and I’m wide awake.  Gahhh!  Like I need that.  I do eventually get to sleep but it sure makes for a tiring day.

I can tell you that I do have a lot to think about….again.  If it isn’t work that is getting my mind going, it is….other things in life.  I had a couple of “episodes” and the Doc wants to check a few things.  I have a four tests scheduled for the next couple of months but the MRI on Thursday is probably going to be the one that really determines if the Doc is correct or not.  Or at least it will show if there is any damage.  I’m just wanting to know what is going on.  If he is right, then at least we can work on preventing worse “episodes, as worse would be very worse.

Its funny that his suspicion didn’t even enter my mind.  I was thinking more like the first signs of Alzheimers or some other neurological disease.  He is thinking TIA – transient ischemic attack.  After reading the symptoms…ya…it might have been that….but it might not have been that.  A guy at work had an actual stroke last year and he is back to work.  Ya…you could tell that it still affected him when he first came back, but he is doing great now.

It may not be TIA…in fact it probably isn’t that.  But at least the Doc is taking all precautions to rule it out.  One thing that I am impressed with is that I saw him last Thursday….the MRI is set for this Thursday.  I think that is pretty good.  It used to take months to get an MRI around here.  Seems someone figured out how to bring down the waiting list.

I’m actually feeling better about the situation today.   I was reading how the advances of medicine allow stroke victims to have complete recoveries.  I didn’t have one and I may not ever get one, but at least my doctor is looking at things so that I may never get one.  That is definitely a positive.

I know this sounds like a broken record, but I’ll get around to see you again.  At least you have Dawn to read :-)

Posted in Health, Life | 8 Comments »

Back to Normalcy

Posted by Sirdar on March 28, 2009

….whatever normal is.

I had my first two days of normal hours at work on Thursday and Friday.  The construction packages are getting out in time and all is good now.   It feels like I hardly worked those days.  In some ways, it was a bit like I didn’t work.  I had to get my brain back into my normal job and catch up to what I was supposed to do for the past few weeks.  That just means going back through my task list and rechecking my emails for tasks that I have been asked to do.  For the most part, there isn’t too much that I can’t catch up with.  However, upon my return, I learnt that I have been volentold to be a trainer for two of the twenty training modules for the division….which is between 1200 and 1300 people at the moment.  It should be fun :-D

I don’t like to talk too much about work on here…but I can talk about our industry (Engineering) and in many ways how fortunate that I am with the company that I am with.  With the global economy tanking, our customers have of course been very cautious, as they should be.  Unfortunately, their cautiousness affects us.  Lets face reality, no company is going to have people sitting around waiting for work and paying for them to sit and wait.  Many engineering firms in our area have had, percentage wise, many more layoffs than we have had.  I don’t think we have had even 10% yet, where other firms have had 30% or more layoffs.  I think there are a few reasons for that.  We are the largest firm in our city, and I do believe our company is the largest in Canada with over 7000 people in major cities across Canada.  When we were bought out about 2 years ago, we joined a very large worldwide company who wanted to get into our industry here in Alberta.  They were most intereted in our work within the oilsands business.  We at the time were wanting to expand our business presence outside of Canada.  So, the two companies met and one bought the other.  The company that bought us believes in workshare.  When you are bidding on multi-billion dollar projects, that takes people and in most cases, one office doesn’t have the capacity to do the whole project by themselves.  So, they workshare with another office.  We have already worked on a couple of workshare projects and we have more starting up.  That keeps people employed.  We are doing more diverse projects in other parts of the world.  That would have never happened if we didn’t join the firm that bought us.  Our local management team saw the potential of workshare and have embraced it….which can’t be said for some of the other divisions.  They saw the potential of workshare and that is keeping us from having to lay off as many people.  Kudos to them for their forsight…and that is why I am fortunate to be where I am.  That doesn’t mean it is all rosy…as there may still be some layoffs, but not as many as it could have been.

  Tip:  After clicking play, click the HQ button for clearer video and better sound.

So, I’ll be back to reading and commenting again soon…on here and on Facebook for those of you who have me as a friend ;-)

(PS: “I am not an engineer….I am a human being!!”  :lol:  In reality….I am an Instrumentation Technologist 8-) )

Posted in Life, Work | 9 Comments »

Just Sayin’

Posted by Sirdar on March 18, 2009

I’ve noticed my activity for blogging and Facebook is in direct relation to my stress level. If work gets real busy or other things…the last thing I want to do is go on the computer for hours on end as I do that at work. If things in life are bothering me, again, the last thing I want to do is spend hours on the computer.

For the past few days I’ve been staring at documents on paper and on the computer….all…day….long. My eyes are tired, my body is tired. I do a lot of reading most days anyway, but now I really have to concentrate and the deadlines are coming fast! I don’t mind really as it is what I used to do. It takes a bit to get back into the swing of things and it does make the day go faster. And it is only for a couple of weeks…or less. I get to bank the overtime so that is good.

I haven’t been around to visit anyone lately. Sorry about that, but I’m just not very social right now. But I will be around again soon. At least you still have Dawn to read :-)
Hope you are enjoying some nice weather. It is finally starting to warm up. Looks like we are going to have some + temperatures for a little while. + temperatures? Temperatures over 0˚C for a high. It was -15˚C this morning.

Have a great day!

Posted in Blog Things, Life, Weather, Work | 7 Comments »

Techie Post: A New Toy

Posted by Sirdar on March 7, 2009

Well…I guess it wouldn’t really be a new toy per sé.  For Debbie and Joy, and probably a few others, I’ll save you reading this techie post, …..blah blah blah blah.  Blah blah blah.  Blah blah…..   See, thinking of your well being :-)

As much as I love our iMac, as much as I like Pages in iWork, as much as I love OpenOffice as an office alternative, the world works in Microsoft Office.  Office was pretty much the defacto standard a number of years ago with the only viable alternative being Corel WordPerfect.  WordPerfect is still around but Office with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Access, and of course Outlook is still the defacto standard today.  We use the Office suite including Outlook at work, as do most of our customers.

Its not that Microsoft Office is the best out there, but it is the one that most are familiar with.  There are things that Office can do that others can’t, but OpenOffice can do things that Microsoft Office can’t.  Each has its own proprietary format too.  That just makes things even more complicated.  If you look at all the alternatives to Office, all of them say they are compatible with Office.  Well…yes and no.  For just simple formated documents, maybe. But add a few more complicated formating styles and you will see that it isn’t quite the same when you open them in Office.  Add a few tables in Word, play with them in OpenOffice and save it back to a .doc, and open it back in Word and you will see that things are not exactly what you were expecting.  In Excel there are a few differences too.  For example, in OpenOffice you can Sum as many individual cells as you like.  In Office, you are limited to 30.  Both are not limited for of a range of cells though, so those aren’t a problem, just picking individual cells.   I found this out the hard way when I was working on a spreadsheet at home and sent it to work.  It wasn’t a work document but one I use for tracking our lottery funding for our department leads.  I had to manually move a bunch of cells to another row in order to Sum the row.  Hey, someone has to do it :-)

So, I broke down and got Microsoft Office through a program at work that our company has provided for us through Microsoft.  Hey…when there are over 35,000 employees and you buy a lot of Microsoft products, I think you should get a few perks.  It cost me $30.72 Canadian dollars for the Mac version.  I thought it was supposed to be more, but maybe it is for the Windows version.  Anyway, it is a pretty good deal in my mind.  Looking at the features it came with, the equivalent on the Mactopia site is $399.95 Canadian for the Retail version or $299.99 Canadian for the download version.

The install was pretty much like any Mac install that has an installer package.  For those using Windows you won’t know that for many Mac software installs, it is as simple as dragging the program to your Applications folder.  And to uninstall them, you drag the program from the Applications folder to the Trash.  Thats it.  With an installer, it does it like a PC install in many ways.  And, in typical Windows installs, Office automatically takes over as the default and associates all the files it can as Office files.  Mac installs don’t normally do that.  You have to do the association manually so that way you can try it before you decided to make it the default.  Sigh….the default was OpenOffice.  However, since I purchase the software and intended it to be the default, I am OK with it taking over….this time.

One of the first things you notice is that they have made the programs look a lot like Pages, Keynote, and Numbers in iWork.  The interface is very much the same.  If you are familiar with iWork programs, you will feel right at home.  Interesting that they also use the floating window with all the formating tools in one place just like with Pages.  I like that as everything is right at your fingertips.  It also has something called Microsoft Project Gallery.  It has many templates from which to start your documents; brochures, business cards, calendars, CD labels, coordinated forms, events, flyers, home essentials, labels, ledger sheets, marketing, resumes, stationary, etc.  If you have used Pages on a Mac you will see that it has many of the same/similar templates and maybe some additional ones.  I have iWork ’06 but I believe iWork ’09 has more templates than the ’06 version.

It also comes with Entourage.  Entourage is the Mac equivalent of Outlook.  I opened it and it started up a wizard to have it import all my email and settings from an existing email client.  We have been using Apple Mail for quite a while now.  Actually, we switched when Thunderbird was separated from the Mozilla project and they decided to concentrate on Firefox.  Thunderbird has been kept up to date by another project.  Oh well.  Sorry…got off on another tangent.  Anyway, after if imported my emails and accounts from Apple Mail, it wanted my passwords for the accounts.  Wasn’t sure I wanted to do that yet so I didn’t didn’t fill that in.  It imported most of my email accounts except one.  Of course that one is the main one.  It copied over the kids emails, but not the main one.  That was odd.  It also didn’t bring the rules that I had set up in Apple Mail.  It has of course the Calendar function.  If I was working from home and needed to connect to work, this would be very good.  But, the Mac already has a calendar function, so wouldn’t be needing it.  I don’t know if they sync or not as I didn’t try to find out.  It has pretty much everything that Outlook has and one more feature.  Something called My Day.  It looks like a little pop out widget that syncs with the Calendar.  Kind of cool, but maybe a bit redundant.  I guess it is a smaller footprint than Calendar on your screen.   I played with Entourage for a bit and even had it download some email, but decided I didn’t want to use it.  I know that I would finally be able to read the Outlook/Express emails better in Entourage, but I would be concerned that it will be like its Windows version where it comes to security.  One of the first things that Office did when it was installed was ask me to download a security update that would prevent someone from taking over my computer.  I don’t have, or need yet, a virus scanner.  I sometimes go online and do a scan at TrendMicro, but that takes all of 10 seconds.  That being said, I do believe Microsoft is doing their best on security issues and have improved substantially from a few years ago. Even Macs, and Linux, have security updates.  Kudos to Microsoft for trying their best to fix the problems that they created :-)

In the end I have a program that works with 90% of all the files that might be sent our way.  Yes, OpenOffice did most of that too, but now the documents will definitely work on everyone’s system.  Plus, now the kids will be using Office for any of their school work and will be more comfortable when they go university or college.

We got sent a file recently with a .wps extension.  OpenOffice tried to open it, but it couldn’t.  I thought it was a WordPerfect document, but in fact it was a Microsoft Works file.  I found a free online converter and saved it to a .doc and then we could read it.  IF I had Word, it would have opened it, but I just got Office yesterday, so a bit too late.

If you have anything to add, please do.  If you have a question, please ask.

Posted in Advice, Computers, Work | 6 Comments »

Happy Birthday to my Beautiful Girls

Posted by Sirdar on March 5, 2009



It is that time again. March 5. The day that two very important people in my life have their birthday.  Dawn and Z.

Happy Birthday girls!!  Hope you have a great one.





Posted in Birthday | 12 Comments »


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