Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Canada vs USA World Cup Hockey 2004 at Legendz Sports Bar in Grand Cayman
Tuesday, August 31, 2004 8:04:16 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Cayman | Pictures | Sports | Hockey#

It's good to be back at work. If the previous week hadn't been so stressful, especially at the beginning of the week, then I could have treated is as a little vacation, to make up for not taking any time off between jobs. By Wednesday I lightened up a little and went diving a couple times with Matty & Bert at Fisheye, and took Little Bucket out for a couple dives on Sunday as well.

From the minute I walked in the door this morning, people were happy to see me and smiling. I got hugs, I got “I was praying for you” and “good to have you back!” all the way along to my office. Even my biometric scanner seemed to caress my fingertip with a “good to see you” or so it felt like.

It's SO nice to work for a company that cares about it's employees for a change. It's such a 180° turn from what I've had to put up with for the last year or so. It's the type of thing that generates employee loyalty, rather than alienating them.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 7:48:32 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman#
Monday, August 30, 2004

My temporary permit is through and I'm back to work as of 1:00 this afternoon. w00t! for pictures from yesterday

Monday, August 30, 2004 9:12:51 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Pictures | Underwater#
Sunday, August 29, 2004
As per the request an international dispatch has been set up for the replacement of the hard disk drive, thus in some days time you will receive the hard disk drive.

So there we have it. within 24 hours, they've dispatched me a new hard drive, right to here in Cayman no less! Ironically in the meantime, this hard drive started working again, but I don't trust it anymore. I'll ghost it, swap and ghost back and carry-on. :-)

Went diving today, I'll post that and pics tomorrow

Sunday, August 29, 2004 4:57:10 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | #
Saturday, August 28, 2004

I posted the last entry at 12:31:02 this afternoon, a few minutes after my laptop took it's last breath, I switched the keyboard over to this computer and powered it up.

I went to Dell's support site after messing around looking up the stop code and disassembling the laptop and checking for any looe connections,and started a support ticket. I filled out the form and said:

This morning I noticed that Windows crashed a few times  then I heard this terrible grinding noise. the grinding noise slowed and stopped and then I got a blue screen of death. I turned the unit over and the fan was still spinning so with a sinking heart I realized the noise was coming from the hard drive. I shut the machine off and restarted it and it would not boot  Primary Hard Drive 0 was not found. I would like to claim this under my Complete Care warranty and have it replaced. I am currently in the Cayman Islands on business and won't be back in Florida for a couple months. Can I get the part replaced through a local service center?

I had a copy of it emailed to me, timestamped at 1:19PM. I got an automated response that my ticket was received at 1:21 PM that said that due to the current congestion I would get a response from a technician in an average of 2 minutes 51 seconds. It took them an hour, but that's still pretty good, and it's a Saturday. At 2:22 I got an email from Ashish at Dell Tech Support:

Sir, after going through all the information provided by you, I came to
the conclusion that hard disk drive of your system need to be replaced.
As per our records your system is under warranty and the hard disk drive of your system can be replaced. To help me in arranging a replacement of faulty part for your system, please provide verification of the following information:

and asked me for an address and phone number to ship out a new drive overnight, as per my warranty details. I responded with my physical address here in Cayman, and hopefully anew drive will show up on Tuesday or Wednesday next week (there really is no such thing as overnight to here... they call it International Priority and charge $35 for up to 15 sheets of paper in their envelope, and it takes a day, sometimes three)

This is the 4th Dell laptop I've bought since 1998, and getting treated like this is one of the reasons I'm a repeat customer. I've read horror stories about people who have just a BITCH of a time with Tech Support but every time I've dealt with Dell tech support, whether they had a Texan or Indian accent, I've been treated decently and promptly every time.

Saturday, August 28, 2004 3:16:28 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | #

Thank the merciful lord in heaven that I ghosted my entire hard drive a few nights ago before installing Windows XP SP2. It was also pretty brilliant foresight that last weekend I decided to spend the time and back up all my digital photos to CD.

A few minutes ago, I heard this weird vibration/grinding noise coming from my laptop (which is only since January old) I thought maybe it was the fan, so I flipped it over and the fan was still spinning. I put it back on the desk, and the grinding slowed and then stopped. Then I got a Windows Blue Screen Of Death. I shut down the machine and powered it back on. When I should have heard/sensed the hard drive spinning up, instead I heard that grinding sound again. BEEP BEEP Primary Hard Disk 0 not found.

Dead. Dead Dead Dead Dead Dead. I've got a support ticket generated with Dell already, so hopefully they can get me a replacement drive lickety-split. The only photos that I lost were the ones I just took yesterday, and aside from the one in the last post, they all sucked anyway. :-)

Saturday, August 28, 2004 9:31:02 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | #
I don't know what it is about that girl, but when I dive with her, we see turtles.
Saturday, August 28, 2004 8:53:11 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Pictures | Underwater#
Thursday, August 26, 2004

HR called me and said that Immigration is going to look at my permit again. That's the good news. The better news is that they're going to give me another 90 day temporary while they look at it again, and that I'll probably be able to start back to work on Monday or Tuesday.

More info soon, and a pic of Jules the Turtle Magnet with a huge Hawksbill Turtle when I get back.

Thursday, August 26, 2004 12:02:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman#

Nothing new to report as of yesterday... spoke with HR last night and they're going through the motions and waiting for Immigration to get back to them. It may take up a week and they'll let me know as soon as there's any news.

That said, I'm going diving this morning. If I get any fab pictures, I'll post em when I get back.

Also, my email server is acting up, so if you've emailed me in the past couple days and haven't gotten a response, that's why

Thursday, August 26, 2004 4:40:45 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman#
Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The person who Immigration said was a better candidate for the job told the company today that he(she?) was not interested in that(my) position. Now it's up to Immigration whether they'll review my application again or if they have to re-advertise the job and then let me re-apply. They should know more tomorrow, so I guess tomorrow will be like today. Other than that, well I had a good play with the birdies this morning and a nice long workout at the gym this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 2:21:02 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman#
Monday, August 23, 2004

So this has been a particularly crappy month for me. It started out with getting in a car accident in a shopping mall parking lot. The guy ran a stop sign (well a rolling stop, but that's the same as not stopping at all) and we hit each other corner to corner. I was looking the other way, because that's where I was turning, and he came from my left and our cars touched corner to corner. My lowest estimate was $900 damage. new front bumper (ot got ripped) new turn signal, corner lamp and a couple hours labor & paint. The insurance company said it was 50/50 fault, so they gave me HALF of my lowest estimate and half of his lowest estimate, and took ALL of both our no-claims discounts away. I saved a few hundred dollars by buying the parts myself at and shipping them down on Cayman Airways Cargo. It still came out a couple hundred dollars more than what the insurance company gave me.

Last weekend Jenny and I broke up. We've been together about a year and a half, and living together for about a year. The silver lining to that big, black, dark cloud is that we broke it off before it got to a breaking point. We're still good friends (we're actually still living together til the end of September when our lease is up) and that's a good thing, because this can be a really small island and it really sucks if you have animosity with an ex and are always running into each other at bars and restaurants and functions and share a group of friends.

Just when I was looking forward to recovery, both my bank account from the accident, and my newfound-best-friendship with Jenny, I found out on Friday that my work permit was denied by the Immigration board. Since my temporary work premit expires right... about... now at midnight that effectively gave me about a day's notice that I was out of a job. I stood in line at Immigration this morning (what a horrible experience that was) and was able to get a Visitor's Visa for a whopping SEVEN DAYS. I can get that extended next week if I stand in line again, and drop $50 bucks on it. I should know more tomorrow morning. Depending on the outcome of the next couple days, I'll have some tough choices to make coming up. If it looks promising, I'll stick it out here and try and support myself on my last paycheck. If it's a lost cause, I have to start making preparations to move out of the Cayman Islands.

I started going through my belongings today, just in preparation and came up with a huge long list of stuff that I need to sell before I leave, if that's what I have to do. From little things like cell phones and accessories all the way up to my car and computers and wireless networking gear and some diving equipment.

Hopefully there's a happy ending to all this in a few days, or at least some reassuring news that I don't have to leave. It's ironic that 6 months ago I was so ready to move to the US or back to Canada, but now that I don't have a choice in the matter, I don't want to go. I keep thinking of the short spikey-haired blonde in the first Matrix movie who's kinda intoning “not like this.... not like this...” right before her plug gets pulled. Friends are more like family when you're in an expatriate community so some of my extended Cayman family: George, Inaki & the boys at The Ranch have all offered me space to store my crap if I have to go home for a few weeks or a month or two to get my work permit straightened out.

I'll post more tomorrow when I hear from HR & my boss.

Monday, August 23, 2004 9:08:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman#
Sunday, August 22, 2004

So rather than email bad news to everyone, I'll put it here.

On Friday morning I was advised that my work permit was denied by Immigration. They haven't said why, and they don't have to, which sucks. Either one of two things has happened... one is that my former employer, our of spite, has poisoned my name at immigration. Not only is that considered lying and beneath contempt, but by putting those words down on official documents, it constitues slander. Karma's a bitch though, so they'll get what's coming to them eventually.

The other thing that could have happened is that a Caymanian wants my job. This job was advertised back in April. I applied for it, went through the interview process, the job was offered and I accepted it. They advertised it again in the paper, to see if anyone who has precedence was interested in it, and there wasnt anyone.

All of a sudden about two weeks ago, I find out that my permit has been deferred... they've put it aside til the next meeting, basically. That happened a couple times, a couple times, and then all of a sudden, there's someone who's interested in the job, right at the wire. Friday comes around, basically with 24hrs remaining on my permit, and they tell me it's denied.

So what does that mean for me? For starters, Monday morning I have to go down to Immigration and stand in line for a few hours and get myt passport stamped in as a visitor for a few weeks (I'm going to ask for Sept 30th) During that time, I have to get all my affairs in order (i.e try and sell my car, my household effects) and make arrangements to go somewhere else. All the while paying rent, eating food, consuming resources with no cashflow coming in.

Hopefully this gets sorted out in my favor, and I'll know more on whether that's even possible tomorrow. In the meantime I have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I've been going through my things this weekend, making an inventory, and deciding what to sell, what it's worth, making up for sale lists, and seeing what I can give away, pack, ship etc.

My three options for the near future are (if this situation doesn't get sorted): 1) Take the job in Tampa I was offered about the same time which is still open and available to me. 2) Go to Denver and upgrade my technical certifications. 3) Go back to Vancouver and cool my jets for a few weeks or so and see if this situation works itself out.

Following the “there's no such thing as bad publicity” axiom, my name is going to be dropped around immigration tomorrow by about 10-15 different people. I called in a lot of favors, and talked to a lot of friends who have friends and relations on the Labor Board and Immigration/Work Permit board. Hopefully at the very least, I can find out WHY it happened, and then formulate a response/plan based on that.

I don't know what I'm going to do yet at this point, and I'm not going to make any decisions until I hear from work tomorrow after I go to Immigration.

Sunday, August 22, 2004 4:09:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Rants#
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Is it just me, or is watching the drama unfold (or not unfold) between the NHLPA and the League with their negotiations and threats of a lockout for this season about as fast-paced as the part in The Return of The King when the Ents are having a little chat?

“So? are we going to war?”
“We've just decided that we should have a chat about it”

WTF? They've met for hours twice now... Once in New York and once in Toronto and they only thing that they've agreed on is to MEET AGAIN? What kind of shit is that? It reminds me of the poster on Consulting: “If you're not part of the solution, there's a lot of money to be made in prolonging the situation” Too many asshole lawyers are involved and they've all got to make sure they hit their billable hours, at the expense of all the hockey fans.

Note that I'm not siding with the league or the players, they all need to pull their frigging heads out of their asses and get this done. Either that, or have a parade down Madison Avenue, Red Mile, Yonge Street and Robson Street and televise it (with play by play and the glowing Fox Suck Puck) with the players wearing black shirts with “SELLOUT” and “CORPORATE WHORE” in big white letters and the league and owners with curly tails, big ears, piggy snouts and pink bodysuits. At least I'll have respect for them showing that they have the courage of their convictions.  Admitting that “2.5 million dollars a year just doesnt put food on the table” with a straight face in front of their fans who can only go to one or two games a year because they can't aford $90 for a ticket, ($180 or more unless you go alone) $20 for parking, and $6 for a beer? And Im not talkin about a GLASS OF BEER, Im talkin' bout a paper cup!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004 12:47:31 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Rants | Hockey#
Friday, August 13, 2004
We got the "All Clear" yesterday, and then Charley went and spanked Cuba and tore off some roofs and downed some trees, picked up steam and SKIPPED category three and went right to 145mph Cat4 and went ashore near Ft Myers beach in Florida. Now that that's said and done, TD#4 is on the way, and TD#5 is supposed to be a hurricane by the time it hits Jamaica next Tuesday
Friday, August 13, 2004 2:40:58 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Cayman Gov't has issued the "All Clear" signal.
Thursday, August 12, 2004 11:40:29 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
What do you mean you're done?
Thursday, August 12, 2004 9:35:36 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
Charley's eye is currently 56 miles away from the airport on Grand Cayman, as of 7amEST
Thursday, August 12, 2004 6:28:07 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Strongest winds should be around daybreak tomorrow morning
Wednesday, August 11, 2004 4:01:48 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
Gov't has closed it's offices as of 1pm, all non-essential staff here is being turned loose shortly.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004 10:15:25 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
The track has been adjusted again, and shows that it will strengthen to a hurricane class 1 this afternoon and pass between us and the Sister Islands tonight.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004 8:07:10 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
Wednesday, August 11, 2004 4:58:47 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
It really is eerie.. there's NO wind, the stars are out, there's very minimal wave action along the beach... Hurricane Watch declared at 7:00
Tuesday, August 10, 2004 8:55:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
The declaration of the "Warning" denotes that tropical storm conditions are expected to affect all three Cayman Islands within 24 hours, that is, by tomorrow (Wednesday) evening. If TS Charley continues its current path, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman can expect to begin experiencing tropical storm force winds of 39 to 74 mph by early Wednesday night, with the centre of the system expected to pass 25 miles to the south of Cayman Brac at around midnight (Wednesday).
Tuesday, August 10, 2004 4:38:35 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
The 5:00EDT advisory changed the track of Charley significantly and is now poised to angle up between Grand Cayman and Little Cayman almost passing directly over Little Cayman
Tuesday, August 10, 2004 1:35:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
Tuesday, August 10, 2004 10:14:17 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
Monday, August 9, 2004
First tropical storm in the Caribbean Basin recorded today...
Monday, August 9, 2004 11:13:19 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane | Links#

Two teams had test flights this weekend that didn't quite work out for them. Armadillo Aerospace (the guys who made DOOM, DOOM2 and now DOOM3) had their rocket crash during a test flight on Saturday resulting in a “total loss” of the vehicle. Seems like they had some trouble with the warmup phase and then ran out of gas during the flight. “Oops.”

The other one was right in my (old) backyard in Washington State. According to the Seattle PI, this one (as well) could have been saved by a parachute (this rocket actually had one but it failed to deploy) but instead crashed and is a total write-off.

Monday, August 9, 2004 8:27:54 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | WWW#
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