Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Duck...Knows

I walked out of my apartment to go to dinner and there was this duck.  I took a quick picture.  He has a great expression.  You know...he knows.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Semi-Random Thoughts On A Tuesday Night

Semi-Random Thoughts On A Tuesday Night

There are times when the best thoughts are semi-random thoughts - those little snippets of thought that wander through our brains.  For your amusement and insight here are my semi-random thoughts from a Tuesday night.

-Had dinner at a Chinese Seafood Buffet, a place called Happy Buffet, off Saratoga Avenue and Steven's Creek Boulevard in San Jose.  I had coconut shrimp, seafood ambrosia (a mix of seafood in a sweet cream sauce), vegetable fried rice, a steamed BBQ pork bun, salmon sashimi, and sushi (philadelphia rolls).  Washed with green tea. It was excellent.  Desert was some small pastries.

-The sun is setting and the sky is a peculiar shade of pinkish blue, with a cool breeze pulling the temperatures down into the sixties. I've closed to apartment up because I suspect it is going to get cold tonight.

-I am listening to Gov't Mule.  I'd heard several people whose taste in music discussing it in the chat room, so I bought a CD.  Personally, I had never heard of them before.  They are excellent and I highly recommend them.  It is interesting how good music can fill you up, just like a good meal.

-I started reading Elmore Leonard's "Killshot" last night.  I am a big Elmore Leonard fan.  He is a very good story teller.  So far, the book has been pretty good.

-Living in the Pacific time zone one of the continual challenges in the virtual world is calling your friends.  Often by the time I think to call them, as the evening is settling in, I glance at the clock and realize - it is already way past their bed time on a week night.

-Of course, amid everything else, the ordinary things of life continue to roll on.  I am going to spend part of my evening paying my bills - the ordinary bills - electricity, gas, cable TV, telephone, ISP, etc.  There is something comforting about the universal and ordinary things of life.

A Ghost In The Mountains

My Beloved Ghost

You were wandering through the California redwoods with me today as I hiked a cool mountain trail. The day was hot and the sun streamed through the trees in great golden beams, pillars that seemed to support the towering vault of heaven itself.

I climbed about 1200 feet on the trail, pushing as I moved, rapid and silent. I could feel the blood pumping in my legs, in my calves, in my thighs. I could feel my lungs opening, expanding, drawing in the air, expelling the air...not winded, but pushed.

At the top of the trail I stopped and sat upon a rock, gazing into the valley below, over the great green and brown forests. It was there that you joined me, my beloved ghost. I saw you moving swiftly through the woods, following the same trail. You were effortless in your grace, gliding as though you were part of that forest, part of that mountain, part of that small slice of eternity.

You emerged from the edge of the woods, you stood for a moment, half sun, half shadow, your eyes bright and alive. You saw me sitting there and you smiled. Smiling, like the cheshire cat, you faded, one sun beam after another, dazzling and beautiful and more alive than alive.

I sat there for a while, alive in the sun and the cool breeze and your memory. Then I took the trail down, into the world, where you are my beloved ghost - no more, no less.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Song of Sleep

The Song of Sleep

I haven't slept well for the last pair of weeks, mostly due to work related stress.  That lack of sleep caught up with me today. 

I went to sleep last night about eleven PM and slept the night through.  I woke up this morning about eight AM, got up, goofed around for a while - listened to some music, played on line, and then laid back down to read and fell asleep. 

I slept from about noon to four PM, then rolled out long enough to get some dinner.

I suspect I should be back on a normal sleep pattern tomorrow - but for tonight, my plan is to listen to the song of sleep again.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Web of Stars And Souls

The Web of Stars And Souls

I was thinking about a totally different subject today and my brain popped over on something that I thought I would share with you.  There are two things that leave me totally in awe, pure awe, when I contemplate them.

The first is the stars.  Lay on your back somewhere where there is minimal or no light and look up at the field of stars on a clear night.  I love doing that and when I do I am placed in a state of total sublime all consuming awe.  The vastness.  The distance.  Time. Space. Complexity.  Simplicity.  The eternal.

The second are souls.  Take a walk through a quiet neighborhood.  Look at each house. Think of the souls that live in or have lived in the house in the time that it has existed.  Realize the each one of them is the center of a complex web of human souls.  Each of those souls have wrapped around it a web of complexity that is equal to the web of complexity of you life.

Birth.  Death.  Love.  Hate.  Hope.  Fear.  Joy.  Solitude.  Family. Friends.  Lovers.  Embracement.  Abandonment.  Fulfillment. Betrayal. Promises. Lies. Innocence.  Guilt. Midnight Movies.  Barbecues. Books. Children.

So, I stand in almost constant awe of those two things - the web of stars and souls.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ordinary Days - Part 3

Ordinary Days - Part 3


How do you spend your evenings?


I get home, I have dinner, I change clothes (that is an old habit, but I find that something as simple as changing my shirt can get my brain out of work mode and provide a clean break at the end of the day).  I might watch the news, or more likely, I will watch some other program that I recorded on the DVR.


After I have spent an hour or so unwinding, two or three times a week I will usually socialize with friends - either they visit me, I visit them, or we meet somewhere.


Almost every night I go out for a walk.  These can be short (a mile or so) fast walks or longer, more rambling walks.  I love to go for my walk right about the time the sun is setting, so I can watch the sunset.  I love the twilight times.


I usually log onto AOL and either chat or go wandering on the internet while I am doing the incidental things around the apartment.


I tend to use email, IM, and text as a connecting method to maintain contact with friends and family, in large part due to its convenience.


I went through a period of a couple of years where I was very telephone adverse, but that seems to have ended last year and I am now quite likely to pick up the phone and give someone a call in the evening, or receive a call.


Evenings are also when I spend time at my various hobbies - photography, writing, reading, movies, guitar, etc.  A lot of times when I am sitting on AOL, I am multitasking at one or the other.


How do you end your day?


I almost always end an ordinary day the same way.  I make sure I have a tall glass of water next to the bed.  I turn on the reading light. I sprawl out with a book.  I usually hope it is a good book, but books tend to be like people, even with references, you are just not sure what you are going to get.  I'll usually have two or three books going at the same time, on different subjects or in different genres, and depending on the mood of the evening I will wrap myself up in one of them.  I will usually read to the point where I can't keep my eyes open.  Then, I will close the book, turn off the light, and fall asleep.


Other Things


As I wrote this, I realized that there were a lot of other things that I tend to do during the course of an ordinary morning and evening - rituals and habits. 


For example, I often meditate and pray at some point during the course of a day - sometimes starting the day, sometimes in the middle of the day, sometimes at the end of the day. 


I almost always spend a little bit of each day checking my favorite web sites and blogs and online journals.  I have the Blackberry so I email or text back and forth with people off and on through day.

Being an extrovert, I socialize a lot during the course of an ordinary day - with friends and neighbors, with incidental people I meet during the day, with co-workers, etc. 

So, you now have kind of a feel for my ordinary days.  There is nothing spectacular here, nothing peak, nothing extraordinary.  Just the ordinary stuff that shapes us profoundly as we move through this life.

Like a lot of people my ordinary days tend to be "flexible within the frame".  The frame of each day is pretty much the same - what happens within the frame varies depending upon the circumstances.

It is quite possible to have peak experiences during the course of an ordinary day - I think everyone has one or two each day.  They see something cool.  They have a great lunch.  They have a wonderful conversation.  They hear a beautiful piece of music.  They make love. They know moments of sorrow and moments of joy.  They hit the perfect note.  They attain a personal goal.   They feel the runners high.  They laugh or cry with a friend.  They finish that great book.

Those fold into the mix that makes our days, both the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Personally, I think the key to happiness is NOT in the peak experiences - they're great, don't get me wrong - but the key to personal happiness is in the overall quality of the ordinary day - the baseline of happiness.  How we feel in the ordinary moments.


Ordinary Days - Part 2

Ordinary Days Part 2


What is your working day like?


I generally work a nine to ten hour day.  I work a 9/80 shift - that is one week I work five days and the next week I work four days, which gives me every other weekend as a three day weekend.  I highly recommend it as it is a big stride toward finding some semblance of work life balance.


Because I am in management, I spend between 60% to 100% of my day in meetings - daily status meetings, weekly status meetings, team meetings, project meetings, requirements meetings, analysis meetings, tactical meetings, strategic meetings, one on one meetings.  I review analyses, I write analyses, I write other documents, I schedule work, I review schedules, I direct work loads, I connect people and projects.


I do have task responsibilities of my own - most of them get done later in the day once the meetings have wrapped up, or they get done during the meetings.


But, if you were to imagine my day and you imagined me either sitting in my office (or pacing around) with a headset on, listening and talking, answering and asking - you would pretty much have a clear picture of what I do every day, more or less.  At any given time I am working two or three major projects and a dozen or so smaller projects.


One of the reasons I am so addicted to my Blackberry is it provides a much needed windowto the outer world while I am on meetings - both through the e-mail connectivity (you really can't call me at work, because most of the time I am on the phone already) and texting, and through the web surfing ability.


Besides the telephone, we also use a pretty impressive array of virtual meeting tools to share data.  Web cams have not yet be adopted fully, but that is only inevitable.


Do you take lunch?


The only time I will not take a lunch hour is when I have meetings scheduled back to back through the day - I routinely block the lunch hour off on my calendar and refuse to give it up, unless the requestor happens to be further up the foot chain than I am - in which case we serve our corporate masters.  I'll often go to lunch anyway and dial into the call with my cell phone and then sit there on mute just listening.


But, on any given day, it is a safe bet that I have gone to lunch.  Either I go with friends and associates, or I go by myself.  That break in the middle of a day full of meetings keeps me relatively sane and gives me a chance to talk about something that is NOT work.


When does your working day end?


Nine or ten hours after it started, so, usually I wrap it up around three or four PM Pacific Time.  Because I can work virtually, I will often go home and toss another hour or two onto the pile, finishing things up, or doing those things that need to be done for the next day.  Generally speaking though, I try to get a clean break at the end of the day.


What is the ritual and order of the end of your day?


I kind of take a look around, assess where I am at, see how I am sitting for the next day, and then ritually shut my work computer down and head for home.  My reverse commute is also pretty short.


On the way home I tend to run any errands that I need to run - stop at the grocery store, stop at the bookstore, etc.  Probably two or three nights a week I will also stop somewhere for dinner, or grab something to take home with me.



Ordinary Days - Part 1

Ordinary Days Part 1


Simply put, probably ninety percent of what makes us is the ordinary stuff - the very ordinary course of our days.  The peaks and valleys can be created and we have control over them through the big choices we make. 


The ordinary days are far more of a give and take between us and the world and the crafting of them is more of a delicate movement through our environments with many small choices that we make and that are made around us. 


So, I thought of a list of very ordinary questions, about the very ordinary things of our ordinary days. Then, I thought it would only be fair if I answered these questions so you can learn a bit more about me, if you were interested - about the course of my ordinary days.


Here is the list of questions that I thought of:



What time do you wake up?


I normally wake up about 5:00 AM Pacific Time.  I am, by habit, an early riser.  That habit pretty much runs through the ordinary days including the weekends.


What morning rituals or habits do you have?


My main morning ritual is coffee.  I tend to wake up crisply (a smooth transition from sleep to awake), so I roll out of bed, pad into the living room, and fire up the coffee pot.  On weekdays it isstraight from the coffee pot to the shower, on weekends, I might linger and wait to take the shower.


Do you wake and hurl yourself into the morning? Or do you linger?


It is rare that I linger - morning is my most productive time, personally and professionally, so I tend to hurl myself into the morning.  Every now and then I will purposely linger, purposely slow myself down.


Do you take the time for breakfast? Or do you grab a quick bite and dash off to work?


I almost always eat breakfast.  One of the big advantages of being an early riser is having the unhurried time in the morning, so it is a rare day when I skip breakfast.  Oatmeal with brown sugar is my breakfast of choice. I accompany it with a muffin, usually with cream cheese and chives.  Sometimes I will substitute a bowl of cereal (Total or Special K).


If you happen to see me online in the early weekday mornings, it is because I am eating breakfast and playing on the computer - reading or watching the morning news, responding to personal e-mail, maybe chatting online, etc.


How do your dress for work?


I am fortunate it that I work in casual to very casual work environment (common in IT), so I usually dress in a button shirt, jeans (or casual slacks), and casual shoes (my beloved Rockports). I usually wear light jacket - I have a favorite, a tan weatherproof jacket.  Sometimes I will wear a sport coat.  I will wear a suit every now and then, when face to face meetings with customers are on the schedule, but since most of my customers are virtual, that is a fairly rare occurrence.


What is your commute like?


I commute about ten miles (about twenty minutes), either on the Interstate (280 to 87 to 237), or on <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Lawrence Expressway.  Time wise, it is about the same either way.  Because I tend to go into the office early, I tend to avoid most of the morning commute and slip straight into work.


I'll pick a specific CD to listen to for a few days running, or for a week or so.  I usually carry about ten different ones in my car (a Saturn Vue) and will alternate among them.  Every once in a while I will listen to the radio, but generally, I don't.


Most days I stop at a coffee shop (either Peet's Coffee or the Coffee Bug) and pick up a cup for the commute.  I like my coffee black with extra blackness.  I prefer my coffee to be just coffee - nothing against the six million flavors of coffee and the specialty coffee drinks - I just prefer ordinary black coffee.


About two thirds of the way into work is Baylands Park.  I will often pull in and finish my coffee and watch the sun come up sitting on the hood of the car.  On other days I will do it from the parking lot at work.  We've got great sunrises here for the most part.


What is your work environment like?


I am an information systems analysis manager, so I work in an office environment.  I work in an old building (the building itself is older than me) and it is an old manufacturing building that has been, over the years, retrofitted for white collar workers.  It is not a nice place quite frankly, I do not like it, and never really have.  I joke that you step through the doors back into the 1950's and that the carpet is older than I am.  (We have truly hideous carpet that I believe the actual name of it is "speckled blue left-overs".)


Other than the color scheme and the age of the furniture, my office is nice enough.  It's on the small side, but it is neat and clean.  I have two pictures hanging - one is an abstract of a mountain valley, and the other is a large photograph of a mountain stream.  I've got a desk, a table, a file cabinet, an incidental table and a bookshelf.  I've got assorted trinkets around the office, enough to make it feel homey.


I've got two computer monitors (makes me twice as productive) and I have each of the backgrounds and screen savers set to different pictures, either ones people have sent me, or ones from my own collection.


Overall, my work area is a giant closet in one aspect - we are buried inside of the building, completely inside, so we have no natural light, at all.  We cannot tell what the weather is like outside.  Fortunately, it is fairly spacious with high ceilings, but otherwise it’s a giant closet. There are about sixteen people inside the area, scattered about in offices and cubicles, so sometimes the level of ambient noise rises up.


I've had better offices and I've had worse offices and this one lies somewhere in the middle.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom

The Forbidden Kingdom

I went out tonight with some of my friends to see a movie.  We selected “The Forbidden Kingdom” with Jet Li and Jackie Chan.  It is an excellent movie, visually stunning, amusing, with a classic mythic story line.  100% enjoyable all around if you are looking for an excellent popcorn movie on a Saturday afternoon.  It has my hearty recommendation.

It was a fairly ordinary Saturday here in San Jose.  My sleeping habits have been chopped up for the last several days.  I haven’t been sleeping well (work related brain spinning). Most nights I have slept fitfully – tossed and turned falling off to sleep, woke through the night, and then powered through the days on caffeine and will. 

Friday might was typical.  I fell asleep originally at about eight PM, then woke about nine thirty to was Battlestar Galactica (excellent episode by the way), then back to bed to read some in the historical novel I have been working on (“A Terrible Glory”, about Custer).  Slept about four and a half hours and then woke well before dawn.

I rolled out, made a pot of coffee, chatted online for a while then went to breakfast with friends.  After breakfast we swung by the Fry’s Electronics and I bought a new keyboard.   Several of the keys were starting to wear out on the old one.  I bought a Microsoft Curve – one of the ergonomic keyboards.  It has been interesting using it. I can touch type and as long as I touch type it works perfectly – but as soon as I look at the keyboard, I am lost and start striking the wrong keys.

After the electronics store I stopped and got my car washed, and then swung into Target to replace a spot mirror that popped off at the car wash.  I also picked up a new CD – Van Morrison’s “Keep It Simple”.  Then, I circled home, played with the new keyboard a little, then curled up and read and napped through most of the afternoon.

Then, off to the movie, and now home.  We ultimately decided not to get dinner after the movie, in part because everyone had snacked on popcorn, nachos, and assorted other movie junk foods.  My plan for the evening is to chat for a while, maybe watch a movie on DVD, then curl up with my book again.  I want to fight and try to stay awake until at least ten PM so I can try and reset my sleep clock, otherwise it is going to be a very long week ahead.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Inside The Thunder

Inside the Thunder


In the quiet

Of the night

I sit and wonder


The steel strings

Of my guitar

Inside the thunder


Your graceful ghost

Dances softly

Across the hard wood


I can smell you

In the night rain

The memory is good


In the quiet

Of the night

I sit and wonder


The steel strings

Of my guitar

Inside the thunder


Are you happy?

Are you smiling?

Are you sleeping?


Are you wanting?

Are you needing?

Are you dreaming?


In the quiet

Of the night

I sit and wonder


The steel strings

Of my guitar

Inside the thunder


In the quiet

Of the night

I sit and wonder


In the flash

Of the lightning

I watch you dancing...


 At night, in storms, the veil that separates us from the eternal is gossamer thin. 


Music is a bridge to the eternal.


Sometimes, in the night, in storms, time and space fall away and we reach out and touch each other. 




The spirits of those we have loved and those we will love.


Sometimes, they dance. 

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Art Is Not Chaste

Art Is Not Chaste

I have spent most of the day thinking off and on about Picasso's comment - "Art is not chaste..."  (online I have seen it as both "not chaste" and "never chaste"). I am not sure where my thoughts are going surrounding it, but they are slowly spinning around it.  I will probably wonder about it for the duration of the week.

Is there such a thing as chaste art?  Yeah, I would think there has to be - despite Picasso's observation or wish.  Art itself is simply too large to be defined by any restrictive statement.  In my mind art is all and art is beyond all.  There is a breed of art that embraces the unchaste with vigor - and I appreciate that as art as well.  The realm of human experience is broad - far broader than we usually imagine.  Short of the strictures of good conduct in a society, all experiences have within them that delightful tangle of virtue and vice.  To deny the sensuality of virtue is the same as denying the sensuality of vice.  Both are essential parts of the human experience.  Both are relative experiences and subject to interpretation. 

What one rejects as a vice another may embrace as a virtue.  What one embraces as a virtue another may reject as a vice.  I wonder at the things that we have rejected as either virtue or vice that we have yet to experience?  Blake's road of excess immediately pops into my mind.  I know that in my excesses I have stumbled upon some wisdom.

The core of all wisdom is, I think, to keep it simple.  Not simplistic.  Not to succumb to magical thinking.  But to pay attention to the details.  This is especially true of our relationships with other people.  If we take just one extra moment to pay attention to the simple things about each other - the simplest things - how great a change would we see in our lives?  In their lives?

This was actually a surprise revelation to me as I wrote this entry.  I was primed to agree whole heartedly with Picasso.  I like the sentiment.  I agree with the sentiment to a great degree.  We, as humans, need to embrace that in ourselves which is unchaste.  If we reject it, we deaden ourselves to the world around us - to a huge aspect of it, we cut it off, we shut it down.  We deny the full range of experiences of life.

Now, we all have our free will, so we can engage in those behaviors we determine as virtue or vice, to the degree we wish.  We should always use and trust our own judgement and our own instincts and our own choices.  Embrace the art that is not chaste as easily as we embrace that which is chaste.  Embrace each in it's moment.  Find the edges of your experience and push them, as far or as little as you are comfortable with.  You may reinforce your opinions and your judgements. You may discover the palace of wisdom.  You might just have one hell of a good time.

Life is Art.

Art is not chaste.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

An Afternoon With Picasso and Goya

An Afternoon With Picasso and Goya

It has been a very good Saturday.

I started early, like I usually do.  I rolled out of bed a little before six A.M., following a good night sleep, waking from a dream of Australian cowboys riding a cow and running away from a landshark.  It was a strange and entertaining dream and set the course for the day.

I set a cup of coffee to brew while I ran through the morning shower, turned on the stereo, and came online to check my email and visit my favorite chat room.  It is kind of like going to your favorite coffee shop.  You get to talk with people you know and don't know, people you love and don't love, about subjects you may or may not care about.  I always find good company there with the morning denizens and a chance to (type).  All from the comfort of my living room as I watch the California sun rise.

I love Saturday mornings that are low and lazy, no hurry, no pressure.  Just friends and music and coffee. 

Around about nine o'clock I went over to meet some other friends at the restaurant where we often gather for a ritual Saturday morning breakfast.  It is almost an extension of the morning chat experience, except over breakfast and face to face.  It is a grounding ritual for me - a chance to slow down and stop and spent time with friends over a good meal.  Following breakfast, I stopped by the Fry's electronics for a rambling walk through the magic land of technological toys. I picked up a Pat Metheny CD and a couple of magazines.

From there, it was a quick couple of errands and then I met P. and H. to go to the Home & Garden show at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.  I have neither a

home (I live in an apartment) nor a garden, but I enjoyed wandering around and just looking at the various stuff.  I have long been impressed by the new state of the art shower and bath systems.

After that rambling walk, we went to downtown San Jose, to the San Jose Museum of Art.  We went to see the etchings of Picasso (Dreams and Desires) and the etchings of Goya (Caprichio).  I am not a huge Picasso fan, so I found that portion of the exhibit interesting, but not particularly alluring.  There was a great Picasso quote as part of the exhibit though.

"Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art." Pablo Picasso

I love that and it echoed in me - "Art is never chaste."

Goya was a far more fascinating exhibit.  Goya is unflinching in his approach to his subject in Caprichio - the corruption of the nobility, the state, and the church.  The subject matter is often explicit and brutal.  Some of the pieces were powerful enough that they had an emotional impact on me, they made my stomach churn.  It was as if Goya heeded Picasso's quote, in a reversal of time - Goya was decidedly and rightfully unchaste.  If art has any value it has the value of looking at the world with an unflinching eye, whether it beholds that which is beautiful, that which is whimsical, or that which is brutal.

Both Picasso and Goya were traveling exhibits so no photography was permitted within the halls.  At the end of the exhibit, as we sat around a big table and gazed through some of the books of caricatures, we drew our own caricatures.  I drew a man with a corpulent head tumbling off his shoulders, dressed in a suit, surrounded by the instruments of our materialist media driven society - bling, TV, and my beloved crackberry.  H. drew a picture of someone sinking into beneath the waves.  P., the only one of us with any real drawing talent, started and stopped and drew nothing.

We walked through downtown San Jose to Hawg's Seafood bar for dinner.  I had crab cakes with a cajun sauce and a bowl of clam chowder.  P. had fried calamari and a bowl of clam chowder.  H. had a grilled ahi tuna salad.  We all sampled and shared and I brought one of the crab cakes home with me. 

I took P. and H. home with a promise to circle back together tomorrow and go to the San Jose Flea Market.  As I dropped them off my friend T. called and wanted to see if I wanted to get together and see "Street Kings".  I agreed. 

Since I had about an hour and a half to kill, I stopped at Barnes & Noble and bought a book on the history of the guitar and another CD (Indigo Girls "Swamp Ophelia").  By sheer luck of timing L. had sent me a email with the title of a song she had quoted that morning that had caught my eye - and I that I had missed her giving in chat - "Language or the Kiss" - which is on the Swamp Ophelia album.  I wandered the bookstore and the music store for a while, just browsing, and bought a collection of short stories (Best Erotica of 2008), edited by Susie Bright.  From there, I drifted over to theatre.

I sat in the parking lot as the sun set and listened to the song with the stereo in the car turned up.  If you have never heard it, I would highly recommend it - it is simply a great song.  It was nearly the perfect capstone to a nearly perfect day.  Friends, Art, Food, Music, beautiful weather, and wandering. I am not sure life gets much better than the simplicity of that.

The movie, well, it was enjoyable Hollywood fare.  The dialogue was over the top and hit about every cop movie cliche you could in a single movie, but the cast (Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker in the leads) was good and it was a pleasure to watch them chew the scenery.  I would not see it again.  I would advise folks to wait for the DVD (there by damning it with faint praise).

From there, T. and I stood outside and talked for a while, then I headed home.  It was hot when I got home so I kicked open the windows and balcony doors and fired up the fans to bring the temperature down.  I logged on and am pretty much ending the day as I started it - online.

Just one good day, all the way through, beginning to end.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Coffee In A Submarine

Coffee In A Submarine

Because I dream frequently and vividly I have long been fascinated with dreams and with the intersection between dreams and the waking world.  There are thousands of books written on the psychological, spiritual, and metaphysical implications and interpretations of dreams.  Personally, over the years, I have come to the conclusion that dreams move along three primary vectors.

The first is the psychological vector - dreams as the working processes of the subconscious, related to and inspired by the conscious activities we engage in.  I think these are the most common type of dream. Sometimes they are significant messages from the subconscious to the conscious.  Sometimes they are just "ordinary processing".  For example, I routinely dream of work and work related items.  I routinely have very ordinary dreams.  I dream about taking my car to the garage.  I dream about doing laundry.  I dream about conversations I have had with people.  I dream about places I am going to go or have gone to.

The second is the spiritual vector - dreams as a connection between the spiritual and temporal worlds.  This one is a little to big for me to tackle here, though I will wrestle with it in another essay.

It is the third vector that dreams move down that I wanted to write about today.  The entertainment vector.  The Dreaming Channel.  The Rod Entertainment Network.  I think that some dreams are purely entertainment.  As human beings we have the incredible ability to play.  We have the ability to entertain ourselves.  Even what appears to be passive entertainment (watching TV, listening to music, watching movies, reading, chatting online) is a highly interactive process on a mental level.  We project ourselves into the medium that we are passively observing - we move into an imaginary world.

I think our dreams are sometimes the same process, minus the external stimuli of mixed or mass media.  We tell ourselves stories in our dreams.  Entertainment dreams range from the very ordinary to the very strange.

Last night I had one of the dreams that was entertainingly strange. My dream life has been popping this spring, for a variety of reasons.  I have had some interesting, strange, and very cool dreams that have moved along all three vectors.  Last night was a busy, fun and chaotic evening.  I got my car back from the garage (it was out for a month with a burnt transmission), I spent some time learning a song on my guitar.  I popped online and chatted a couple of times.  I cleaned my laptop. I logged on from home and did some work.  I went for a twilight walk.  I stopped and watched the NCAA Championship Game. (I rooted for the Tigers, they lost. The outcome was not good, but the game itself was a lot of fun to watch, and involved much screaming, cheering and yelling.)  I read some from a history book I have.  I read some from a novel I am reading.

My dreams followed the same pattern as the evening.  They were chaotic and all over the place. I dreamt about basketball.  I dreamt about guitars.  I dreamt about walking through the neighborhood.  Then, I dream I stopped to visit someone (a dream person, not someone I knew).  They lived in a trailer park.  Except...

Their trailer house was a submarine.  A submarine on wheels.  It was very nice.  Not too big, all glossy and shiny and black.  They invited me in for a cup of coffee.  We climbed up the ladder onto the deck of the submarine and then went down through the conning tower, climbing down the ladder into the dining room.  They poured me a cup of coffee and then gave me a tour of the submarine.  Inside, it was tight and close quarters, but well designed and well decorated - lots of shining hardwood, gleaming brass, glass and nautical themed decorations.  The living rooom area was great - thick plush carpet, quiet, a great little high tech home entertainment center.  One of those places that is just comfortable to spend some time.  We sat in the living room and drank coffee and chatted about the advantages and disadvantages of living in a submarine in a trailer park. Then, I crawled out the torpedo tube to get outside, dropped down to the grass and resumed my walk through the neighb!

Now, I suspect Freudians are currently salivating to interpret the significance of my wandering around in a big, glossy, black trailer park submarine, but I think they would miss the point.  It was just a cool dream.  It was an entertaining dream.  My dreams during the night were mostly dreams of daily things and then the dream cycle ended with coffee in a submarine.  That seems to me to be very ordinary.  Doesn't everyone's dream end with coffee in a submarine?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Everyone Needs A Magnificent Obsession

Sunday night I had a dream.  I don’t remember what the dream was when I woke from it.  I am not sure what sparked it.  But, I woke with a specific phrase stuck in my brain, very clearly and very crisply.  This was the phrase

“Everyone Needs A Magnificent Obsession”

Now, I am not thinking of obsession in the negative or the eccentric sense.  (The other night in the chat room the entire room went off on a multi-hour riff on – lint.  Lint is an eccentric obsession, but I do not think it rises to the level of magnificence.)

What I am thinking of is more in the sense of an artist who spends countless hours practicing to capture just the perfect sense of light and space in a painting.  Michelangelo was magnificently obsessed.  Picasso was magnificently obsessed.  Another example would be a musician who spends thousands of hours of practice time to perfect their instrument. This is another magnificent obsession.  Andre Sergovia.  Sharon Ibsen.

I guess I am thinking of a magnificent obsession in terms of a central organizing principle.  Something we are excited todo before we go to bed.  Something we are excited to do when we get up in the morning.  Something that, when we have the free time we are passionately engaged in. 

I am not really sure I have such an obsession – and pretty sure that if I do, it does not rise to the level of magnificence.  So, having never had a magnificent obsession, I think I am going to search around and find one and nurture it for a while and see where it goes.

I have talked about the dream and the idea of a magnificent obsession to folks I know for the last week and I have gotten some interesting feedback.  Some people focused on the external appearance of eccentric behavior.  Some people suggested the things that they are looking for and would be obsessed with.  Some people suggested the things that they thought I would be interested in becoming obsessed with, based on their knowledge of me.  All great discussion so far, so I am enjoying the dialogue while I search about for my own magnificent obsession.  It may ultimately be something simple. 

For example, I play guitar. I would describe myself as competent.  Nothing worth bragging about, nothing that would stand out in a crowd.  Several of my friends suggested I dedicate several hours every night to practicing and take the skill to the next level.  I draw fairly well, some suggested I take that to the next level.  I like to write, some suggested I dedicate serious time in that direction. 

They are all excellent ideas and I am mulling them around.  Mulling is how I generally approach things.  I learned that from my parents – if you are going to make a decision – take your time, mull it around, let it settle, and then decide.  My mom says that all of the bad decisions she ever made in her life were decisions that she made too quickly.

So, if you have any ideas on what would make for a magnificent obsession, I would be curious to hear them.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hidden In The Walls (Rain Quintet Part V)

Hidden In The Walls


If you listen, hidden in the walls

You can hear the subtle voice that calls

I am standing here, I will not let you down

Just turn around, Just turn around


You wake up with the morning sun

You step outside for that early run

The fields are wet and glistening

The wind is calm and listening


There is splash of flowers near you

Bright and shining with the dew

You can feel your body start to glow

You can feel your heart start to grow


It's been a long time since you felt this way

It's been a long time since you came this way

You turn at the junction and start home

You smile to think of coffee and foam


If you listen hidden in the walls

You can hear the subtle voice that calls

I am standing here, I will not let you down

Just turn around, just turn around


You run a little harder, picking up the pace
On that empty road you find a piece of grace
You hear a lone guitar softly in your ear
Fingers on forgotten chords so far and so near


You remember what it felt like to love

As you watch the crows swirling up above

One again your feet are swift and sure

As if you found the philosophers cure


You've got miles to go and you know it

You've got years on you and you show it

But it doesn't really matter any more

You're ready to open that long sealed door


If you listen hidden in the walls

You can hear the subtle voice that calls

I am standing here, I will not let you down

Just turn around, just turn around


(Hidden In The Walls is the last poem in the Rain Quintet.  The previous poems are Rain, Seduction, Walk Away Lover, and Days Without Faith).

Days Without Faith (Rain Quintet Part IV)

Days Without Faith


The sun tastes bitter in the morning

Remembering the glory we once had

Moving through the searching days

Trying to change the good to bad


We see the hopeful smiles of strangers

We wonder at the serpents coil

Cynical and jaded, tired and faded

We struggle in our daily toil


And the days without faith

Are darker than the night

And the days without faith

Are bathed in bitter light


Where once we were lovers

We stand and fall alone

Where once we were flesh

We are now just breath and bone


In every whispered word

We hear a sophisticated lie

In every soft caress we feel

Something curling up to die


And the days without faith

Are darker than the night

And the days without faith

Are bathed in bitter light


We are the faithless and the fallen

All that runs inside is ice

We are the crying saints

Caught up in our sacrifice


We are angels without mercy

Spreading ruin and fire

Burning down on our lives

Inside a flaming pyre


And the days without faith

Are darker than the night

And the days without faith

Are bathed in bitter light


(Days Without Faith is the fourth poem in the Rain Quintet.  The previous poems are Rain, Seduction, and Walk Away Lover.)

Walk Away Lover (Rain Quintet Part III)

Walk Away Lover


Two lives are intertwined

They are moving side by side

Neither one is open

Both have things to hide


Listening to each other

They lie awake at night

Two lonely bodies

Present but out of sight


They wonder where they went

They wonder how they lost

They wonder at the prices paid

They wonder why the cost


Just walk away lover

Just turn your back and go

Just walk away lover

Pretend you'll never know


Maybe they were learning

Maybe they just tried

Maybe they were burning

From some hidden fire inside


They count the mistakes

They tally up the lies

They learn the terrible secret

They know that love just dies


Maybe they're just tired.

Maybe they meant well

Maybe they were liars

Maybe things just went to hell


Just walk away lover

Just turn your back and go

Just walk away lover

Pretend you'll never know


(This is the third poem in the Rain Quintet, the previous poems were Rain and Seduction.)