Friday, June 29, 2012

Mr. Vogan

It was with a heavy heart that I learned today that a much loved and respected high school teacher back home, Mr. Vogan,  had passed away from cancer.  It still feels rather surreal and I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what to say.  Ron just seemed to be one of those figures in your life you figured would be around forever so his passing comes as a great shock.   I knew Mr. Vogan from way back when I was in grade school.  His youngest son is the same age as me.  He was just an all round friendly person and when I think of his big smile in my mind's eye, he makes me smile even after having graduated almost 20 years ago.

If there's one thing I'll always remember, it was Mr. Vogan's patience with me when it came to computers.  And believe me, when it comes to technology, I needed a patient mentor (I still do)  I couldn't even begin to count the number of times I ran to him in a panic thinking the computer or printer had eaten an essay or assignment.  Or the number of times I continuously hit the "print" button when the old dot matrix printer in the lab was out of ink, sending God knows how many blank sheets through the printer.  I'm sure I killed off a small forest during my high school years by doing this.

Mr. Vogan was one of those individuals that played such an important part in school life.  Truthfully, there were so many things that I wouldn't be able to list them all, though I know many of his former students would put his involvement with the many ski trips at the top of their list.

My sincere condolences to the Vogan family this evening.  To Anne, Jonathan and Stephen, my heart goes out to you.  Mr. Vogan was a wonderful, genuine man and he will be greatly missed. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Saw A Bug Thiiiiiiiis Big!

Generally speaking, bugs don't bother me too much. Unless the thing is attacking me in some way, I'm content to live and let live. The one exception to this rule though is the Tar Sand Beetle. Those things are HUGE. It's like getting bombarded by a 747. And they seem to be everywhere at work as of late.  They have this weird ability to make grown men turn into a whirling dervish.

I don't recall seeing many of them last summer and I generally don't see them around the house all that often.  My workplace seems to have become ground zero for them though.  "Tar Sand Beetle" isn't their real name.  But the White Spotted Sawyer or whatever you care to call it can make it a bit trying if they are around you for any length of time.  When they land on you they tend to stick to your clothing.   You can beat at them but they don't seem to get the hint that they are annoying you until you squish the little buggers.  I'll do my best to get a photo of one if I can but for now the above link gives you an idea of what the creepy crawlers look like.  Something in the bitumen seems to attract them.  They aren't actually dangerous and while they can bite, they don't inject anything into you, but if you've ever had one crawling up the back of your neck as I have, you tend to forget this.   A handy pair of wire cutters makes a good defensive weapon.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Small Contribution To The Local Arts Scene

For the past three months I've found myself working with a very different type of scaffolding (it's European didn't ya know?) out on site.  Although I'm not a builder, I know it to be quite versatile and remarkably light which is much appreciated on hot days such as we've experienced of late.  Because of these reasons and I'm sure a few more that are over and above my pay grade, this type of form work is often used inside cokers and other confined spaces, although it has many other uses in an industrial setting of course.

Okay, Darcy, you just finished your 6th of 11 10-hour days so why are you discussing scaffolding of all things??  Well here's why.  Earlier in the week I had to put together a small order pronto.  All I heard was that it was going for some sort of project at a local school.  This was the first order I can recall that was being off site to an non-industrial-type setting so I was a bit curious.  Since it wasn't a large amount of gear I just assumed there was sort of maintenance project on the go and thought nothing more of it.

Tonight I read McMurray Musings and interestingly enough I find out where that gear went.   It's being used in a local high school production at Holy Trinity High School.  The last photo in the post shows a great close up shot of the scaffolding.  It actually looks beautiful in a strange way.

The play itself, based on a collection of Holocaust-era children's art is entitled I Never Saw Another Butterfly.  In a strange quirk I had heard a grad recital a number of years ago in university featuring a song cycle based on some of these children's poems.  The music, written in 12-tone, is tortured and twisted at times but also quite haunting and compliments the lyrics wonderfully.  Such is the power of music that I can still recall snippets of the final song in my head more than a dozen years later.  During a trip to the Czech Republic 5 years ago I had hoped to visit the Terezin concentration camp where many of the producers of this art work perished, but sadly I wasn't able to get there.

The play runs again tonight and tomorrow afternoon and sadly I'll be at work and will miss these performances  Still it was cool to find out about my minor contribution to this theatrical endeavour even if I'm the only person who really knows about it  Normally, putting kits away isn't exactly thought-provoking work but I have a feeling that this on might be just a little different.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Arboreal Surgery

A hectic work schedule has meant putting off many things I'd like to get done, one of them being some much needed pruning of the backyard tree. It looks amazing when it blooms but had slowly accumulated a lot of dead branches in the time I've been here. This was partially due to a nasty little dump of snow a couple Springs ago, mere weeks after I took ownership. A couple of large branches at the top snapped and while I was able to fix some of the damage, there were a lot of other branches I just never got around to dealing with. (They tended to be covered up nicely by all the healthy stuff) The one side of the tree was so weighed down and fattened by the weight of the snow that I feared the tree was a goner. Fortunately, it proved to be much more resilient.

I had actually started pruning a couple weeks ago but had gotten side tracked. I did manage to prune some of the larger limbs at the back that were hanging over a couple of neighbor's fences no doubt adding to the amount of leaves they had to rake and creating an eye sore as well. One branch was actually starting to wreak havoc the fence in my back corner so it definitely had to be cut. That's about as far as I got however, until this evening.

I picked up my hacksaw and ventured forth.  I'm not actually sure what kind of tree it is but I was starting to look a tad hideous.

I was a bit nervous but managed to hack off much of the remaining dead limbs and cut a couple large drooping ones so that I can now walk to the back of my deck without having to duck my head and bat leaves out of the way. I always felt as if I was fighting my way through some exotic jungle. Anyhow, while it didn't seem like I cut off that much (I only worked away at it for perhaps 20 minutes) I did notice a huge difference.  A broom helped knock down quite a lot of little brown keys that were all dried up and just hanging around underneath the newer growth.

 Here are a couple of  "before" shots.....

And here is what it looked like after it's little tree haircut so to speak...

Now I have much more sunshine on the deck....and the tree has a lot less dead weight to it.

Ah hacksaws! Is there anything you can't do?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sometimes, posting a video on YouTube isn't the smartest thing to do

Like many others, I was shocked by the story of Karen Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor who endured a 10-minute harangue by a group of what I can only describe as feral children, which was recorded and posted on YouTube.

I happened across the story on a work break while I was getting my daily news fix and really couldn't believe what I was reading.  I checked out the video once I got home and was simply floored.  Truthfully I couldn't watch the whole thing as it brought my blood to boil.  Truthfully, my gut instinct was to grab a steel tube from work and beat all these young punks senseless.  Ingrates!  Honestly, what possible pleasure do these punks derive from berating a 68-year-old widow? How sad that they have to harass an senior to prop up their obviously rather fragile little egos!

I hope the principal, the school district and other authorities come down on these kids like a ton of bricks.  I get tired of hearing this garbage about how punishing them will only make them angry or will damage their sense of self-worth in some way so well, its best not to punish the little darlings.  Rubbish!    The real world doesn't work that way.  When you do wrong you pay a price.  Period.  Unfortunately, there is too much hippy psycho-babble about how we should just treat them with kid gloves.  I guess we can see how well that's worked out for society.

So how do I think they should be punished?  For one, kick them off the bus.  Have them figure out how get their own butts to school.  Not that they are learning much in the way of morals and common sense there anyway.  Come to think of it, from my experience a school bus is considered an extension of the school so school discipline  should apply here.  As a parent, I'd say expel the little buggers.  I certainly wouldn't want my son in a school environment with these clowns.  And finally, since they obviously aren't getting it from home, give these kids community service, LOTS of community service. Preferably in a retirement home or with war veterans.  Perhaps then they might learn some empathy.  Our seniors are not to be treated as garbage.  They are valuable.  They have years of experience and wisdom these brats just might profit by.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

No Grand Vistas Here....and I'm Totally Fine With That

With rain in the forecast I wasn't as adventurous this morning as I'd have liked to have been, choosing to do some birding a little closer to home.  I checked out a couple small storm ponds nearby but other than red-winged black birds there wasn't anything terribly interesting.  Red-winged blackbirds can be quite aggressive in defending their turf and I found myself being dive-bombed by one particular fellow before heading off into the bush.  I did, however, manage a half-decent shot of a Brewer's Blackbird.


A little further along, I happened across a few trails behind some houses. Some thoughtful person had set up some bird feeders behind their property along the treeline and I spent several minutes watching some chickadees flutter about as well as a purple finch. Just as I was about to leave a Blue Jay caught my attention and I spent a few minutes tracking amongst the trees. This was a welcome sight as it had occurred to me earlier that I had yet to see a Blue Jay so far this season.


After trying in vain for several minutes to get a decent photo, I left the trail and continued along behind some houses to a road and a marshy area on the other side. This is an area I've been to a couple times before, but am only now beginning to appreciate. There are a number of beaver dams here and while I didn't see any beavers I managed to locate a breeding pair of Common Goldeneyes, a Mallard (which I can now add to my year list!), a Solitary Sandpiper, and what I think may have been Red-Breasted Merganser (female), though it was quite a distance off, even with my binoculars so I can't really be sure. The female Goldeneye is faintly visible in the photo below.


True, this may not be the most scenic of areas.  The landscape doesn't jump out at you like a mountain, a waterfall or some other grand vista for which Alberta is known for, but it's a relaxing place to see.  And I'm never disappointed when I head over there.  There is always something interesting to see.


Strange Invader

I happened across an interesting story of a rare muskox sighting courtesy of a local online forum I frequent and thought I would post it here.  Muskoxen are one of those quintessential northern creatures and a rare treat if you happen upon one, though its a good idea to keep your distance as they can be rather aggressive and unpredictable.  Imagine the lodge guests' surprise when news of a muskox sighting surfaced.  A rare treat indeed.

I wasn't lucky enough to see a live muskox when I lived up in Nunavut since I spent my entire time there on Baffin Island and these animals are found much further west. I'm not exactly sure where North Leland Lake is though I have heard of it.  This is the first time I've ever heard of a wild muskox making it to Alberta although this fellow would still have to travel quite a distance to reach us here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Angry Skies

After a few warm days we may actually get a big storm tonight.  The forecast has been calling for thunderstorms the past few days but so far nothing has materialized.  This photo doesn't quite do it justice but I was hoping to get a quick shot of the darkening sky outside the house without getting rained on.  Given the finicky nature of the weather we seem to get here, I'll just have to wait and see if things get interesting.  At any rate, at least I made it to the store and back without getting soaked.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Inmates Running Amok in the Asylum aka A University Degree Doesn't Necessarily Confer Common Sense

I hadn't initially planned on blogging about the case of Mr. Lynden Dorval. In case you aren't familiar with the details, Dorval is an Edmonton high school physics teacher who was suspended by the Edmonton Public School Board for (horror of horrors) giving zeros to students. It seems story just keeps getting more interesting and I've been playing it over in my mind the past couple days. At any rate, it is an important issue and one that looks as if it won't drop out of the headlines too quickly.  Because really, it shouldn't.

This issue deserves to be discussed and debated. A healthy education is a valuable thing in a democracy. I'm sure there are many school board officials that would prefer it be quietly swept under the rug. I also wonder where the Alberta Teachers Association is in all this? It seems to me they are little more than a political lobby group. Shouldn't they be defending this guy? After all, assuming he's spent his entire career in Edmonton, he's been paying them union dues all this time. Perhaps I should phone up the ATA and ask them. In all likelihood, I'll just get the standard line of "We are not at liberty to comment on this matter," or some or such nonsense. I do think we have a serious problem here. Education is becoming divorced from reality. Its really one of the reasons I haven't pursued a Masters degree myself. I don't think the average person is all that interested in boring theory and really, do I want to spent a year writing an academic tome that in all likelihood will just sit collecting dust in a university library? In the real world, I've encountered situations similar to Mr. Dorval's. No, I was never disciplined for them but I did find it frustrating. And it wasn't just in Alberta that I've encountered this.

Rather than fix issues and help students achieve a standard, why are education officials taking the easy way out by lowering standards?  Attention, Edmonton Public School Board.....the real world doesn't function like this.  You can produce all the academic tomes, journals, studies and peer-reviewed gobbley-gook you want, but you can't change reality.  In the real world, there are standards and expectations.  If you don't meet them, you fail.  A simple concept, yet one not so easily grasped by education officials in Edmonton.  I can only assume that these people were the slackers that barely made it through the system themselves.  The ones that showed up for class and put some pride and effort into their work must have been the ones that went on to become engineers, doctors and skilled trades people.

One of the criticisms I heard a lot was that the education system doesn't prepare students for the real world.  I don't see how this kind of garbage helps.  Challenge them to meet their potential.  Don't molly-coddle and dote on them.  The real world certainly won't do that.  There is a big difference between encouraging and supporting students and simply letting them "get by".  At my work, if someone doesn't bother to show up or is too lazy to put in effort, they get fired.  At my work, if people take short cuts or lack care or don't pay attention to what they are doing, people get killed.  I don't think I'm over-blowing things here.  Kids have to learn that deadlines and best effort are important things in life and school should ingrain this.

It's always amazed me that the simplest of concepts in life get forgotten or misunderstood once some people get that university degree or that big promotion.  Or in the case of some principals, superintendents or school board officials, once they've been in a position of power for too long and surpassed their "best before" date.

With a little digging, I found the actual suspension letter written to Mr. Dorval by his superintendent. You can find it here. My favorite part was the bottom of the first page....

.....when clear practice expectations and guidelines, also based on accepted philosophical and pedagogical reasoning, have been authorized for mandatory implementation.....blah blah blah.

Pushing  students through the system and not giving them the mark they earned, even if they do no work, is "based on accepted philosophical and pedagogical reasoning"?  Are you kidding me? Who in their right mind accepts this nonsense?   Thankfully, my son won't be attending any Edmonton school and have his mind and character polluted by this crap.

The superintendent of Edmonton Public Schools is a man by the name of Edgar Schmidt.  Public officials are supposed to be accountable.  Obviously, this is beyond you. Sir, you're a moron.

I also found a survey by this school board, examining all matter of things, from school services to how welcome parents felt in the school.  The part that stuck out for me is found at the bottom of page 5 regarding how useful students in grades 10-12 (which are high school grades in Alberta) found their report card.  According to the numbers, only 71% to 74% of students found their report information useful.  No wonder, when you replace a "0" with  some silly phrase like "unable to assess" or some such.

I could go on but I'm sure I've made my point, if only to call attention to this issue.  Critical thinking skills, common sense and reality have left the building as far as education officials in Edmonton are concerned.

Thank God there are students out there who succeed despite the efforts of education officials to screw them up. This young man gets it, and has begun a petition to support Mr. Dorval.  Good on you, young man.  Shake up the ossified idiots in our education system.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Manly Fort McMurray, Bag Bans and Arboreal Orgies

One of the statistics I've always heard had to do with the extreme gender imbalance here in Fort McMurray.  Depending on the source, men supposedly outnumber women here by a margin of 2 to 1, 5 to 1 or even 10 to 1.  Given the nature of most employment here, I suppose it can be expected that we will be a few notches away from a 50-50 balance.  Since I'm not a 20-something frequently the bars here, this isn't something I pay all that much attention to.  While perusing the morning online news, I did  come across a couple reports from last year's census.    Here's one from the National Post. Yes, we do have a gender balance here.  But it's no where near what you've probably been told.  According to the latest numbers, 54% of our population here is male.  A bit high, but I really don't find it that big of a deal and certainly nothing like the imbalance I've read or heard spoken of.  Fort McMurray I'm sure gets called lots of things.  I suppose you can now add "Canada's Manliest City" to the mix.

I had to chuckle to myself as I read further that the city of Cobourg, Ontario has the largest imbalance in favour of females (53.6%).  For  those not in the know, I grew up within an hour's drive of Cobourg.....and now I'm way out here. Oooops.

On another note entirely, I read with interest that Toronto will be implementing a plastic bag ban starting in January 2013.  And from what I've read they aren't too happy.  So much for progressiveness I guess.  Here in Wood Buffalo, we've had a plastic bag ban in place since September 2010.  Come on Toronto!  You can do it!  Truthfully, I don't really think about our ban all that much anymore and it's only on my mind at the moment because of a few articles I read this morning about Toronto and the fact that I had to do a quick grocery run after work.

Finally, while waiting for the bus the past couple mornings I noticed these strange yellow rings on the pavement.  I'd never seen anything quite like them before and was curious.  What exactly were they?  Did a bunch of neighborhood  dogs decide to join forces and mark their territory all in the same spot?  Did a mustard truck crash?  Yes, strange thoughts go through my head at 5:30 am.

A closer look tonight after work and while much of the circles had since vanished given the recent rain and wind we've had, there was one small line left at my bus stop.  As it turns out, its nothing more than tree pollen, washed into the street from the rain.  Nothing more than an arboreal orgy as we head into summer.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Adventures in Landlording...the Sequel

As it turns out there is a small addition, an addendum, if you will to my post from late last week about my unkempt basement dweller.  Coming up the driveway yesterday I noticed my garbage cans seemed a bit askew as if some unknown creature had been lurking around and digging through them.  The tops of the bags were ripped open but there wasn't any garbage on the ground, so I figured, well, at least the ravens were kind, me being an avid birder and all.  I've seen the mess they can make when they find something particularly tasty in an unattended garbage can.   Thinking nothing of it, I straightened my garbage cans up and went inside.

A couple of my tenants had the day off so I chatted with them in the kitchen as I went about my end of the day routine.  One of them told me there had been a rather unexpected guest.  I was just about to tell her I had seen the garbage cans and was happy the ravens hadn't made a disaster in the front yard.  But no, the guest had been none other than my ex-tenant.  Apparently, both my tenants had been out on the back deck when they heard the front door open.  They were perplexed as it was a good hour before I regularly get home.  Mr. Ex-Tenant came right in and used my washroom off the kitchen.  (Yeesh, he could have at least used the upstairs and admired the new vanity since it was his rent money that had mostly paid for it.  Some people!)

He then opened the door to the basement to go to his old room and it was at this point that my tenant caught up to him.  Turns out he was missing something.  Understandable considering the unorganized mess he had left behind.  What he was missing was a memory stick for his computer.  A very pricey one evidently, $500 as I was told, and he just had to find it.  Well, my tenant told him, good luck finding it since the room had been cleaned out.  The only place it could possibly be was out in the garbage.  So outside he went and dug through my garbage.  Technically, I suppose it was his garbage since both bags contained the detritus of his room.  Lucky enough for him, he found what he was looking for though hopefully not before digging through some pretty disgusting stuff.

I wouldn't really call myself a vengeful person, but in this case I couldn't help but crack a big smile as I pictured all this in my mind.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Yesterday I arrived home and grabbed a copy of the local newspaper out of my mailbox.  Normally, nothing terribly exciting but this time was different as the paper contained a special insert entitled "Voices for Change".  Dated June 3rd or 6/3, it was dedicated to the victims of Highway 63.  I took the insert with me to work this morning and was reading it, appropriately enough, while on my bus to work, traveling Highway 63.

A bit of background on the progress, or lack thereof, on the twinning of the highway for those who may not be familiar with it - In 2006, following an election a government spokesman said during an interview that the government was looking at a 5-year plan to completely twin Highway 63 between Fort McMurray and Grassland.  The following year that nice little 5-year plan became a 7-year plan.  A maximum end date for completion was given...2013.  In 2009, the government changed their scope and timeline even further, as it was announced that a mere 36 km stretch north of Wandering River would be completed by the fall of 2011.  To date, NONE of these promises and plans have seen the light of day.  All this has led up to last month's protest I blogged about a short time ago.  The latest is that one of our local MLA's has been appointed as "special advisor" to the Premier on this matter.  His recommendations are due to be presented on June 29. And so we continue to wait.

The insert was full of small quotations from people in the community voicing their concern about the highway and giving their reasons for having a safer Highway 63.  A couple of my favorites, because I use the highway on a regular basis to get to work and back were these...

"I need a safer Highway 63 because I will not let my husband, brother, cousin, friend or neighbour stop living while he's trying to make one."  

"I need a safer 63 so that I return home each night to my family.  Too many families have members that will not be returning home."

"I want a safer Highway 63 because I don't want any child looking to the sky (like little Timmy [the youngest survivor in last month's tragedy who lost his entire family]) and asking why mom and dad left him behind."

Also included are photos and memorials to those who have been killed in recent years on the highway, including those involved in the most recent tragedy back in April, in which 7 were killed (8 if you include the unborn child involved).  There is also a time line dating from 2000 to the present giving the dates of all the tragedies on Highway 63 that claimed lives.  I got curious and counted just home many needless deaths there had been.  I counted 122.  The causes and circumstances were many...head-ons, collisions with moose, t-bones, multi-car crashes, collisions with large trucks.  In the end there are just too many. Too many lives cut short.  Too many devastated families.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Adventures in Landlording

Since the start of the year I decided to do what many here out rooms.  And I must say off the top that it's been a great experience.  Aside from the obvious extra income, it's been nice to meet people from different walks of life, hear what brought them here and about their various jobs in the oil sands.  I've actually only had one tenant who didn't work at site somewhere.  The other benefit of being a landlord is that I see it as a testing ground for a dream of mine a bit later in life, which is to own a bed and breakfast.  True, renting out rooms and running a B&B aren't  exactly the same but I like to keep a good home and I like to keep my tenants happy.  Affordable housing, or lack thereof, is a challenge here.  We aren't exactly in the most affordable housing market here as a quick online search of real estate prices here will easily demonstrate.  Besides, while I'm hardly in a mansion, there is quite a bit of space for one man and a cat so why not spread the wealth?

OK, so I've set this up and you know all is not always bliss, so let's get to meat of the story.

So, as I said off the top, it's been a good experience overall.  I work hard and generally keep to myself so it was important to find tenants who understood that.  And, I've been rather successful.  My current tenants have told me horror stories crazy room mates and living conditions that make me cringe.  Unfortunately, I occasionally screw up though as I did have one rather interesting tenant who was, shall we say, accorded himself rather slovenly.   So why would I break down and rent a room to said person, you are no doubt wondering?  Essentially, I knew the guy from work (yes first mistake right there I know) I decided to give a guy a hand.  I once rented too after all.

Now, if I have one character flaw, people who know me would say I'm too kind-hearted at times, and yes, perhaps a touch naive.  I like to think that a hand shake still has meaning (mistake number two) but as I know now, that is rarely the case these days.

To cut a long story short, I can breathe easier tonight as said slovenly individual has now vacated.  The breaking point came when I broke up a small "party" late one evening on a work night.  Yeah, I'm a kill-joy.  Granted there was only one other fellow, a friend of my tenant, but I wanted to nip things in the bud  since I have to get up at 4am for work.  Fast forward a couple days later and I arrive home to find party man passed out on my couch.  His friend (not the one mentioned earlier) was passed out in my tenant's room downstairs.  Anyhow, I was working and my tenant wasn't (hardly a surprise I suppose) and I arrive home to discover this....

Not impressed, obviously.  Thank goodness for rubber latex gloves and garbage bags.  Among the many beer cans, cigarette butts and other detritus, I did find about a dollar in loose change though.  The carpet was rather gross but I managed to get the worst of it cleaned up, though I suspect the carpet will eventually have to go.  I'm letting some carpet deodorizer work its magic, though I'll need more, but at least it smells a bit better.  

Now, I know what you're thinking.  Damage deposit?  Unfortunately, no. I  didn't ask for one when he moved in (mistake 3), assuming I could take the guy at his word.  So while I'm furious with my now ex-tenant I have to say I'm a bit disappointed with my own lapse in judgement.  Tough life lesson, but not the end of the world.  I think this room just doesn't want to be rented out as the two previous tenants in it were also a bit on the difficult side.  Lesson learned.

Now, as I said, my other tenants are fantastic.   While I arrived home to a disaster in the basement, I also was met with a much better sight in my upstairs bathroom as a tenant took the time on his day off to install my new vanity.  (He was up working on it at 5am this morning shortly before I left for work.)  I bought the vanity some time ago but it just got put on the back burner for awhile. This is what the old vanity looked like.


And here is the new one. There is a bit of finishing work to do, mainly where the old one was attached to the wall and there is a small gap on the floor to the left since the vanity is smaller than the original, but these are minor cosmetics. And I can now get some new flooring and put in and do some painting which will give the room some much-needed zing.


So there you have it. Some people are just jerks, but some people are awesome. Time to throw on a little music and relax a little now that the day's drama has ended. Ah the drama. At least no one will ever accuse me of having a boring life.