Details on the New Job

Sunday, November 28, 2010 | | 0 comments

The big news in my life is that I recently started a new job. I'm now a Communications Specialist at a very well known company in my area and I'm very happy with the way everything has been working out. Since I presume that there is interest in knowing the details of my new gig, I'm going to provide as much here as I can. If I've misjudged the level of interest from my faithful readers, then won't I feel silly.

Where?: Large and growing company that everyone not living under a rock knows about. They have policies against employees commenting online and in blogs, so I'm going to refrain from naming them.

What do I do?: I do a lot of writing! Blog posts, emails, executive communication, letters, you name it. I also design, manage and monitor online tools such as blogs, wikis, portals and websites. I haven't done much of that as of yet, but it's coming. I support a number of different teams with their communications needs, so I've been sitting in on their team meetings and I'm ready to be a consultant when I'm given the opportunity.

The commute?: In the morning it's about 20 or 25 minutes door to door (a dream commute for me). The evening drive is more of a...ok it sucks. I leave early enough in the morning to miss the traffic and I leave exactly on time at night to hit all the traffic. Drive home takes at least 45 minutes and I've had a few drives of an hour or more in my first few weeks. It's not as bad as commuting to Toronto, but it's not supposed to be like this where I live.

The people I work with?: Are great. Bright, friendly, helpful, welcoming. I couldn't ask for more.

New thing for me?: Wearing a security badge and having to swipe it everywhere I go. I'm afraid I'll forget to bring it one day and won't be able to get into the building. While sitting in my car, security will worry that I'm blogging about them and I'll have to make a run for it.

Really new thing for me?: How much this organization cares about protecting its sensitive information. It makes perfect sense, especially since in my role I hear about some important things, but other places I've worked didn't seem to care that much. If you see me on the street I won't be able to tell you anything. There's a chance I may have to pretend I don't know you.

How's the coffee?: Not bad for office coffee.

Cafeteria in my building?: There was in the first building, but not in the second. That's right, I've moved in my first three weeks.

Dress code?: Business casual and casual Fridays. I blew it on my first Friday and didn't do the jean thing. I made up for it the next Friday by wearing a mesh t-shirt...ok, that didn't really happen.

Most embarrassing moment?: I was returning to my desk from the stairwell and took a wrong turn. I walked down the wrong hall and several people stopped to watch me as passed their desks. When I got to the end of the hall, I realized it was a dead end and the same people watched me as I passed their desks in the opposite direction. Really tough to look like you belong after you do that.

Orientation?: Yep, full day, first day. I sat with about 50 other new hires. At my table there was myself, a guy named Ray and three people whose names I couldn't hear or understand when they introduced themselves. I may lose touch with those three. One of them had just moved from India and asked me why everyone was wearing little flowers on their jackets. I don't think they celebrate Remembrance Day in India.

Best thing about my job?: Getting to do what I love to do (writing).

Which is better, this job or looking for a job from your basement?: Definitely this job. :)

So far it's?: Great. Really, really great.

Disney Trip Day 8: Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and Not So Scary Halloween Party

Thursday, November 4, 2010 | | 0 comments

We had one last day to enjoy Disney. Originally, our only plans were to attend Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in the evening, but since we had the whole day, we decided we would also spend a few hours at Animal Kingdom. And, if we could make it to Magic Kingdom early, we could go on some of the rides we'd missed the other day, before the Halloween party started.

By this point in the trip I was so exhausted I couldn't even feel the exhaustion any longer. To pack this much into our last day seemed perfectly reasonable and I don't think I even complained.

The first ride of the day was the Kali River Rapids. Signs everywhere warned us we could get wet, even soaked on the ride. What they didn't say was that only some riders would get soaked and yes, of course that rider was me. But who doesn't like to get soaked and have to walk around with wet clothes all day? Again, that would be me.

Next up was Kilamanjaro Safaris. It's a fun ride through an animal park, and if I didn't live 15 minutes from African Lion Safari, I would have thought it was great.

Disney has done a great job of building an authentic-looking African market at Animal Kingdom (I say this as a veteran of zero trips to Africa, so it's possible that my endorsement is meaningless), and if I wasn't still soaked to the bone, I would have enjoyed the atmosphere they created.

After lunch we rode Expedition Everest. The highlight of this ride is climbing very high to the top of their imaginary "Everest," only to stop, then race backwards down the mountain, through a darkened tunnel where some riders were horrified to see the legendary Yeti nearly attack our vehicle. I was not horrified, as by this point in the trip I was quite tired of racing through darkened tunnels and was staring at the floor, fighting a growing feeling of nausea. I'm sure the whole Yeti experience would be more fun if I wasn't still soaking wet.

The last ride for us at Animal Kingdom was the DINOSAUR ride. In this ride, prehistoric creatures attack you from all sides as you race against a giant meteor that will surely kill all dinosaurs and Disney patrons if we aren't able to get out in time. I found this ride to be extremely frightening and not great for young kids. To be honest, it was almost more than a soaking wet, nauseas dad who only moments before not seen Yeti was prepared for.

We took our leave of Animal Kingdom and I noticed that our Wal-mart stroller was beginning to fall apart. Although we had spent very little money on the stroller, it did seem to me that it should last more than a week. As this was our last day, the idea of abandoning the stroller completely at the end of the day seemed to be growing on me.

Here's what I know about what happened next. We arrived at Magic Kingdom. We went on some rides we had enjoyed earlier in the trip. We also enjoyed some rides for the first time. I've completely lost track of which rides belonged to which day, so I'll only talk about those that have not been discussed in previous blog posts. This problem could have been avoided by blogging closer to the time, but what can I do about that now?

In no particular order we enjoyed Monsters Inc Laugh Floor (very funny live show), Stitch's Great escape (great special effects, but frightening for the kids) and Space Mountain (pitch-black tunnels, head down, when will these things end???).

The park closed for all but those of us who had purchased a special ticket to attend Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. The kids changed into their costumes (my son was a skeleton and my daughter was a corpse bride) and we made the rounds to collect two full bags of candy. There was a Halloween parade, led by the headless horseman, and the kids just loved it. The magic castle was the scene for a show featuring all of Disney's villains and if I wasn't really tired at that point, I would have thought it was fabulous as well.

Somehow I was able to convince my wife and the kids that we should take our tattered stroller and head back to the hotel. We had packed as much into this day as was humanly possible and could say that our entire Disney experience had been wonderful in nearly every way.

We slept well that night.

Thank you Disney...we'll be back.

Disney Trip Day 7: Typhoon Lagoon

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | | 0 comments

There are two water parks at Disney: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. We weren't sure we were going to have time to visit either park, but decided the day before that it might be nice to cool off and do something different, so we put Typhoon Lagoon on our agenda.

As with all things Disney, Typhoon Lagoon is huge. There are slides for little kids, not so little kids, adults and really foolish adults (little did I know that I would soon fit into the last category). They have the world's largest wave pool, with six-foot waves that sweep you away every 90 seconds.

But the thing that really drew me to the park was the opportunity to snorkel with sharks. I have been fascinated by sharks for as long as I can remember and I've dreamed that someday I might actually get to swim with them. I should note that many of these dreams are nightmares where I'm attacked by a great white, but the fact remains, they're dreams. This was my chance and I could barely believe it was happening.

There was however a small problem.

I. Can't. Snorkel.

If I'm getting stuff off my chest, I also can't talk about blood or needles without feeling faint, I've never been able to see the hidden image in those pictures, no matter how long I look with unfocused eyes, and I can't iron a shirt to save my life. But none of that mattered on this day, except my inability to snorkel.

Snorkelling is defined as "the practice of swimming on or through a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped tube called a snorkel, and usually swimfins. In cooler waters, a wetsuit may also be worn. Use of this equipment allows the snorkeler to observe underwater attractions for extended periods of time with relatively little effort."

My own definition is somewhat different: "Snorkelling is the practice of putting on a mask and inserting a snorkel into my mouth and immediately starting to hyperventilate. Any and all attempts to calm down will be met with escalating hyperventilation and all details of underwater attractions will be learned only through the reports of other snorkellers."

And so it was at Typhoon Lagoon. My wife and the kids put their masks on, faces in the water and were eager to swim with rays, colourful fish, and reef and hammerhead sharks. I put my mask on, face in the water and began my comical act of trying to drown. There was no way I was going to make it work, so I got out of the water and watched my family live my dream.

The rest of the day was much better. We spent a lot of time in the wave pool, the kids being thrown backwards, disappearing under the water for what felt like an hour, emerging with huge smiles on their faces and saying "let's do that again!" Now that I've been to a wave pool with waves every 90 seconds, every other wave pool will seem like a giant bore.

The water slides were lots of fun and the kids never tired of running up yet another set of stairs to hit them all. The lineups were short or nonexistent and we raced each other to the bottom.

The main attraction is a slide called Humunga Kowabunga, where riders shoot down five stories in a pitch black tunnel. Neither of my kids were able to ride (height restriction for my son, cowardice for my daughter), but they somehow convinced me to do it and report back.

I wasn't aware of the "pitch black tunnel" component until it was too late, so with water pelting me in the face, I travelled at ridiculous speeds and half hoped that I would die before reaching the bottom. When the tunnel spit me out, I was partially on my side, trying hard not to flip onto my face, with my bathing suit nearly ripped off my body. I'm sure I was a sight and a half and the kids screamed "Daddy, do it again!"

Fat chance kids. Fat chance.