Archive for November, 2011

Too Plugged In?

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

My world is shifting from feeling somewhat disconnected to way too plugged in. With the time-change between Canada and Austria, it is important I check my email first thing in the morning as well as late at night. And now that I’m trying to boost business in Europe, I’m getting mail throughout the regular workday as well.

In order to keep myself organized, I have my three email addresses on separate accounts (forwarding them to one inbox was way too confusing), so that means two web browsers open and frequent checks throughout the day.

I’ve installed TweetDeck so that I can see activity on my personal twitter account, work twitter account, LinkedIn, Facebook and various twitter searches (such as “Pug Pharm”) at one glace.  Update, retweet, repeat as necessary.

My Skype is on all the time I’m at the computer, so I see the online/offline activities of my contacts popping up throughout the day. I occasionally have more than one chat conversation going on at the same time.

And I don’t even have a smart phone yet! With my obsessive tendencies, this could get very scary very fast.

Christmas Season in Innsbruck

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Annie brought a friend over after school. The two girls played happily in Annie’s room for over two hours. When they started to get bored…and hungry…Markus suggested we check out the Christmas Markets, as they just opened.

In looking for a parking spot Markus parked farther away from the market than I would have liked, and I was all grumble, grumble, grumble until we walked out of the parkade into the opening festivities of the inner-city skating rink.

This is a relatively small outdoor rink used mostly for public skating for kids. Annie used to go all the time when we lived around the corner at the Delevo. But one of the larger local banks is the rink sponsor, and they sure do put on a great opening show. We only caught about 10 minutes but we saw dancers, figure skaters, fire breathers, a stunningly-dressed violin player, small pyrotechnics and a fantastic aerial artist. The girls were all wide-eyed with wonder. Impressive.

Then we walked through old town, marveling at the Christmas lights. There were zillions of people, a brass band playing from the Goldenes Dachl, and of course the market stalls. Markus and I ordered kiachl with sauerkraut and kiachl with cranberry for the girls (although they ended up eating half of our sauerkraut ones…good Austrian mädchens,) We snacked on honey roasted almonds and drank mulled wine. So lovely.

After dinner (is fried bread considered dinner?) we went to the main market where the girls went on the pony ride. On the walk back to the car they ooohed at the stuffed giants lining the streets and tried to guess which fairy tales were hanging up on the walls.

I absolutely love Christmas season in Innsbruck. It is a magical, amazing time, with so many things to do it is hard to keep up. Once we get a little snow up on the mountains, it will be perfect.


Thursday, November 17th, 2011

I don’t talk about work stuff much on my blog, but two interesting things happened today. (I don’t even have a work category!)

I was asked to write a guest article about gamification for a new blog out of the UK on the subject. You can read it here.

Also, Pug Pharm put out its press release that we have been chosen as the gamification platform for NASA’s new MMO. Press release on our website.

Fun stuff!

Birth Story

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

At Annie’s last parent-teacher meeting, the director of the school wondered if there had been issues when Annie was born. She mentioned it because Annie has a high need for physical contact and also to be the center of attention, and was suggesting that sometimes those early days can have a lingering effect. I believe probably a large part of that need is Annie’s personality that came hard-wired, but it got me thinking.

I asked my friend, Margriet, who is a psychologist, what she thought. She suggested I talk to Annie about what happened at her birth. I didn’t make a big plan, but a couple of days ago we were snuggling in bed and it just seemed like the right time. I told her how she was born and how Dad and Rebecca and I were so happy, and then I described the problems that happened. She was able to follow along and asked questions that showed she understood what I was saying and was curious. I asked her how she imagined she must have felt not really seeing her momma for the first couple of days of her life. She wasn’t as interested in the emotional part as in the story itself, so I stayed with that.

I don’t know how these things work, if those first memories are stored in the body or affect personality. I don’t think anyone can say for sure. But it felt right to talk to Annie about what happened when she was born, and I think the topic will come up again sometime, either by her or I initiating it. And it was a good process to start, because there are other difficult things I know Annie needs to know about her world as time goes by, and it opens up the path to discuss those times as well.

It also follows my very deep belief that you can’t shelter anyone, child or adult, from the difficulties or pain of life. You can only help provide the tools and strength to deal with it at the time, and work through it once it is over. Talking about the events and emotions that happen in life, both good and bad, is absolutely the first step.

Too Much Blogging

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

I’ve spent a good chunk of today writing a guest blog post for a gamification at work blog. Well, mostly editing it, as my original draft was 3 times too long. Yikes.

I’m afraid that has sucked my blogging spirit out of me for the day. Tomorrow I’ll try to write something in the morning when I’ve got more creative energy. Maybe I need a guest blogger…anyone? Anyone?

Grrrr…and Ohm

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I’ve starting about 4 different blog posts tonight and don’t like any of the ideas. I guess some days are just like that, lacking in inspiration.

I can’t even tell you about my day, as I sat in front of a computer working the whole time. I didn’t get out of my pajamas until Markus picked me up to go visit his uncle at 5:30 p.m.

I’ll have to resort to a random Annie photo.

I walked into the kitchen one day and saw this:

“Where did you learn that?” I asked.

“T.V.” she replied.

And they say television rots your brain!

Skiing 2011

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Nov. 13th and we have already managed to experience our first day skiing for winter 2011/2012!

It was a long, crappy week for us, so yesterday it just popped into my head, “Let’s go skiing!” Markus researched which hills were open, and this morning off we went. We had to drive 90 minutes to hit a mountain over 2000m high (Hochgurgle…what a ridiculous name!), but that was fine by me.

We had a great day. Both Annie and I needed a run or two to get back in the swing of things, but it was fine after that. At one point we were on a wide space, not too steep, which is my favourite place to ski as I don’t have to stress about falling over the edge of a cliff. I was having fun and picking up some good speed, thinking “I’m really moving”, when I look over and see my girl staying nicely ahead of me! She still does a lot of snowplowing, so she is going to be a speed demon once her technique improves.

The view from the top was stunning, and we tried to capture it with the iPhone.

Markus even tells me that part of these mountains are in Italy. Followers of my blog know that the proximity of other nations never gets old for me. You can take the girl out of Winnipeg…..

The day ended in tears of exhaustion, as many of our ski days do, but that is a fine trade-off for a day among the beauty of the mountains, fresh air, and fun with the family.

Laternenfest 2011

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

The Laternenfest at Annie’s kindergarten is always pretty much the same. So it is fun to compare the years: 2008, 2009 (which is just a brief mention and has no pictures, as Annie was having a total meltdown the entire time), and 2010. I can’t believe what a wee girl Annie was we we came to Innsbruck. Wow, what an adventure.

As I say, not much changes year to year. The kids gather around 4:00, close to sundown.

Annie and her good friend Emily. That is some height difference!

Annie favours the tight-lipped grin these days for photos…as you can see:

Then the teachers do their best to corral the children into a line with their assigned partner.

The kids sing their song (the same one Markus used to sing as a boy) and they all meet in the park pavilion. After a short speech, the children sing together in German and then in their other language (English, Italian or French). A brass band plays some pretty music and then we all have Lebkuchen and punch.

It always chokes me up a bit, maybe especially this year as it will likely  be Annie’s last Laternenfest. Nice memories to have of our time in Austria.


Friday, November 11th, 2011

Well, I can’t say that this was a great day…although the auto-generated title to this post is making me grin: 2011/11/11/11-11-11. I see why it is called corduroy day.

We are working on selling the cafe, and the negotiations aren’t going as smoothly as we hoped. All is not lost, but there will be a lot more backing and forthing than I had anticipated. NaBloPoMo suggests making three wishes this day. Right now I feel like wishing for stability, stability, and more stability.

Or maybe two times stability…and a third wish that my girl and I can always make each other smile.


Thursday, November 10th, 2011

I am dog tired tonight, so this blog post is going to be less than creative, I’m sure.

I didn’t know alot about Hamburg a few months ago, but two of my friends recently discovered love interests in the city, and both raved about it. I was curious.

Sadly, my schedule didn’t leave me much time to look around. The British Columbian trade commissioner in Hamburg picked me up about 15 minutes after I got into my hotel room and drove me around some of the more beautiful parts of the city. There are two inner-city lakes and lovely wide and green parks. Mostly I noticed the houses near the river. Huge mansions a few hundred years old line the streets and are just stunning. Obviously, the city isn’t hurting for money.

I was then whisked off to the Business Club Hamburg, where we spent quite a while getting set up. I don’t mind public speaking as a concept, but I do get very nervous a few minutes before my talk these days. Maybe I’m just out of practice. I spoke for about 20 minutes and then had varying success answering some tough questions from the audience.

After the presentation I did end up having several people come up to me to learn more, so that was positive. I stayed until midnight chatting with some interesting people I met.

The next morning after a couple of hours of reading in bed (lovely!) I was pinged to go for a coffee meeting. I rushed to get ready and check-out and then headed back downtown. Luckily the subway system in Hamburg is clear and relatively easy. (Certainly compared to London, which I find very tricky.) We talked shop for about an hour and then I went straight to the airport.

A whirlwind 36 hours, but worth it. I look forward to going back to the city when I have more time.