Friday, October 31, 2008

Fog Shrouded Apartment

Fog on Street - I

Morning fog - alway cool.


It is dark.

The room is filled with the quiet sound of rain.

A soft flowing hush from outside the open window interspersed with the
sharper patter of drops falling from the eaves and splashing into the
puddles below.

I can smell the rain in the room.

I can taste the hint of rain on my tongue.

I lay perfectly still, cocooned inside the old heavy quilt,
temporarily warm.

I do nor want to wake up but realize that in the thought of not
wanting to wake up I am already awake.

The light in the room is pale and white reflected from the
streetlights outside streaming through the broad green leaves of the
tree by the window.

I can separate the sounds of rain now.

The steady hush as it hits the pavement.

The slightly sharper sound of rain on the roofs of the cars parked
along the street.

The hissing of the rain on the ceiling over my head.

The tapping of rain on the leaves of the trees outside.

The slight discordant counter-point of large individual drops hitting
the frame of a window.

A symphony of rain, intricate and interlinked.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The First Storm of the Season

In the last several days as I drove into work in the small hours of the morning I have meandered my way through a heavy fog, laying still across the city.

This morning the air was heavy with the scent of rain and the clouds were low and full. There was a bit of that cold wet chill.

Can you close your eyes and smell the rain in your imagination? That is the world that surrounds me now. Still. Hushed. Sprinkling.

Each moment is laden with the promise of rain.

Pure. Simple. Beautiful.

Thursday's Tale

All in all today was a good day. Work settled out and I wrapped a few things up and then got back to my regular tasks.

My mother is doing much better today though she is still in the hospital with pancreatitis, most likely caused by the fall. Each day is taken one day at a time.

Dinner was Swedish pancakes.

Tonight's plan is rest, relax, maybe do a little writing, and sleep.

We have the first real winter rainstorm sliding in over us - it started sprinkling tonight and we are supposed to get rain all through the weekend, so most likely my plan will be to keep it close to home, do a lot of reading, watch a few movies, do some writing and just chill.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And The Currents Of October Continue

Tuesday night I was out for a walk, moving quickly through the neighborhoods to the south of my apartment, when my phone rang. Normally, I do not answer my phone when I am walking because it ruins the rhythm (LOL - though, for the record I can walk and talk at the same time). But, due to hot work related issue I thought it might be one of my analysts, so I pulled my phone out of my pocket and glanced at the caller ID. It was one of my sisters.

I answered. It seems that sometime Tuesday afternoon my mother fell and may or may not had hit her stomach on a coffee table. When my step father got home she was complaining of having fallen and rubbing her stomach, so my step-father took her down to the IHS (Indian Health Service) hospital in Rosebud. My sister, who lives about ten miles away, met them there.

After the usual several hour wait, they did a CT scan and came to the conclusion that she may have bruised her pancreas or had pancreatitus. They gave her four mg of morphine for the pain and considered flying her out to Sioux Falls, SD. After further discussion with her primary care physician she was transferred to the hospital in Winner, SD, where they put her on IV's to keep her hydrated and keep her overnight to run tests.

It is always tough to be half a continent away when things like that happen, so all I could do was send a few prayers up to the universe, finish my walk, and wait. I exchanged calls with my siblings into the night and then fell asleep. Today, my sister went up to Winner. My mother is still in the hospital, mostly sleeping, and eating clear foods. They have her on 2 mg of morphine and according to my sister "some drug that starts with an N, but its not naproxin". They attempted to give her an MRI at the Winner Hospital, but my mother apparently refused to cooperate. (This doesn't surprise anyone as one thing we can be certain of is my family is...stubborn.). So, they are waiting for IHS to send them the MRI, but they do not think it is pancreatitus.

They should have more results tomorrow. My sister has lately been concerned that my mother is sometimes disoriented - but at this point I have to rely on her observations. Since I do not see her frequently, I can only judge by the times when I talk to her, about once a week, and she seems fine when I am in discussions with her. My mother is 72 years old, so she has seen a lot of life.

At this point I am mainly in a wait and see mode, waiting for the results from her doctor, and then we will go from there. It has been keeping me half distracted.

Layer on top of that I had a good hot one at work, a high visibility, short turn around data analysis that turned out to be a pure slam dunk on our part. It rarely happens, but all the pieces fell together like a jigsaw puzzle, and I turned it over today, got patted on the head, and left it to other people to decide what to do with the data. That was also kind of chaotic. So, all in all it has been a fast set of days this week. I think I am going to bed early tonight because I did not sleep too well last night, tossed and turned with my brain running down various side roads.

So, I can say pretty conclusively, it has been an interesting week and October is going out with a flurry. On the plus side, I have been reading the latest trade graphic novel in Bill Willingham's "Fables" series, "The Good Prince", Excellent as usual and I have been forcing myself to go slow, because I can blaze through one of the Fables graphic novels in a single sitting pretty easily.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Strange Currents Of October

Fall is often an introspective time of year. I know I feel that way and I know that many of the people I talk with feel that way. There is something in the season - perhaps the eternal influence of the end of summer, perhaps some shift in body chemistry as we prepare for the coming winter, perhaps something cultural that is deeply ingrained.

Personally, on top of the introspection of fall, I layer a profound sense of loss on top of the month of October. October is a time frame in which I often find myself contemplating the loss and memory.

Principle among those losses was the death of my father and my grandfather separated by only a few short weeks in an October many years ago. My father died of cancer and my grandfather of a heart attack. My father was 54 and my grandfather was 84 (it was my mother's father, my father's father, my other grandfather, died when I was very young, at Christmas, also of a heart attack).

I could list other losses and incidents of loss that stacked up in the month of October, but I won't. Suffice it to say that it a time of contemplating life and death for me, both on the personal level and on the wider cultural level, with Halloween (All Souls Eve and All Saints Day).

That combination has some strange effects on me. First, it does make me emotionally sensitive to all kinds of loss. It means that sometimes, with little or no warning, with minimal triggers, I can easily spin into a deep and dark mood. At the same time a greater sensitivity to the fragility and eternity and beauty of life itself rises up in me.

It is a season of strange currents. It is a season of simplicity and beauty and grace and sadness and joy and memory. It is drawing to a close as we slip into the final week of October. I know from many years prior that I will rapidly slip out of October and slide into winter, which in California means rain and rain and a little more rain with some extra rain in case you weren't watching.

Winter is also a season of long slow rainy days spent curled up with a good book or watching a classic movie (or a new one). Winter is the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Winter is the season of driving to the Sierra Nevada's to see the snow. Winter is the season of going to the coast to watch the wild storms crashing into the shore. Winter is the season of a long mountain hike in rain drenched redwoods, where you reach the far point of the hike and realize you are soaking wet and have several miles to go to get back and wonder what the hell you were thinking? Winter is the season of a lazy weekend day spend sitting in a mirror staring at a painting for hours.

So, for all the strange currents of fall, for all the moods and memories of October, I love this time of year. It has a certain quiet hushed vibrancy, as if just under the currents it was thrumming with life. It seems at times I can hear the heartbeat of fall, soft, somber, and powerful. For all its moods, I love these strange currents.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Twilight Gods

Gave me the gift of this particular sunset tonight as I walked with
Van Morrison in my earphones...

Seeking Simplicity

Seeking Simplicity

I woke up this morning with a resolution on my brain. I am going to
try and consciously seek simplicity this week. I need some simplicity.

"Do whatever comes your way as well as you can. Think as little as
possible about yourself. Think as much as possible about other people.
Dwell on things that are interesting." Eleanor Roosevelt

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Not Holding

Another day ends and I am sadder and wiser. I am happier and I am more of fool. Sometimes, that is how life works. Let me tell you a little about the day.

It started well. I woke up, I padded around the house a little, then I decided to go back to sleep. I slept, curled in my warm bed, until the golden sunlight of a California dawn flooded the room and pulled me from my sleep. I came on line and chatted in my favorite room, with the strangers and friends who reside there. Some of them are strangers, some of them are friends, some of them are friendly strangers, some of them are strange friends. Some of them I consider very close to my heart, others are just people I barely know.

I met my friend Tyrone at the Hickory Pit for breakfast. I had a nice country omelet, with ground sausage and green onions and cheese. I washed it down with coffee and conversation. I came home for a while and send a few email and the circled back out to pick up groceries.

I watched the UCLA and Cal State game (Cal State won - whoo hooo!). I cooked baked cream cheese chicken, garlic and parmesan potatoes, and sweet peas. It turned out excellent - the chicken was perfect, breaded in crackers, lemon pepper, garlic powder, and parsley. The chicken was succulent and juicy.

I watched "The School of Rock" with Jack Black, an excellent little movie, one of Jack's best. I sent a few texts and email. Then, as I was sitting there watching the finale of "The School of Rock", I took an inside pitch that fanned me back from the plate hard. Yes, that is a metaphor in code, and I may, at some point, share with you what it was - but for now, it is too close to my heart, so I will keep it inside of me where is it safe.

So, I sought comfort where I can often find it, walking empty streets in the company of the twilight gods who have been through so much with me. I walked out, down along Williams Road to Starbird Park, through the park and down the street to Payne, and then back in a big circle. The circle brought me along the front of Maple Leaf Plaza, past Yaz. Through the big plate glass windows I watched the diners as I walked by, surrounded by white table clothes and white china and crystal glassware, then I walked a few blocks and turned toward home.

I went down on the quiet streets. I passed the Vampire Guy's House (there is no vampire there, it is a giant old Victorian mansion, walled off, a remnant of the days when Santa Clara Valley was ranches and orchards - we call it the Vampire Guy's House because it resembles the house where a vampire lives in the game Oblivion, which is popular with my friends.) I walked through the dark portion of the street, where it curves and puts me on the street where I live.

While I walked, I thought of the years and the miles that had brought me here. I wandered down the webs of life, with all the branches and intersections that glisten palely in the moonlight. I thought about holding on and I thought about letting go. There is point where holding becomes grasping. I have in this life learned to hold to that point...and then to open your arms and let go.

Years ago, when I was in some dark times, when I was struggling, I had written a sign on a white piece of paper and taped it to the back of my living room door, so that I would see it every time I left. It said, simply - "Do not be less then you are." It was an admonishment to myself. It hung there for a long time before it was no longer needed.

It seems to be a lesson that I learn and relearn in this life - perhaps it is the core lesson of this life for me. I have often been characterized and characterized myself as a rock things and people crash into. I am - simply who I am. I have been down the path of compromise. I have tried it. It doesn't work for me. I am not good at compromising. I will hold but I will not grasp. I will hold until the time is right to not hold. Then I will not hold.

So, as another day ends, I am not holding. You know the curious thing about not holding? When you are holding your arms are closed. When you are not holding, your arms are open. So here I am not holding, with open arms. The night is cooling. There is a soft breeze spinning through the apartment. In the dark of another night I find that once again, I am who I am.




A paradox, even to myself.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Pride & The Glory...Almost

I really, really wanted to like this movie a lot. LOL - and that should tell you enough about what happened right there. It had some good moments, it had some good actors, but they never quite pulled it together. It felt mostly like a set of scenes strung together without a compelling narrative thread. Some of the scenes were very good, some of them rang false. There is one scene, toward the end of the movie, that is simply completely out of place and relatively stupid.

I enjoyed it, because I tend to enjoy most movies, but it is not a keeper by a long shot.

Lunch on the other hand was very good. I have no real plan tonight, I am just going to flow into the night and see what unfolds.

Notes From The Day

The day started simple and lazy. I slept in until about eight a.m.,
which is very late for me. I rolled out of bed, padded around for a
while, brewed a cup of coffee, and came online for a while. I visited
my favorite chat and I just could not connect. I watched chat scroll
by - I thought about typing this...and that...or that...

But, just could not find the thread. So, I wrote and read email, I had
a great discussion with im, then made a phone call, and managed to
pass a pleasant morning, pleasantly.

So, I then ran through the shower a second time, and restarted the day
with a chorizo omelet and coffee cake at Hobbee's. In a few minutes I
am going to slip in and see "Pride and Glory" with Edward Norton and
Colin Farrell.

After that, a stop at the bookstore...

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sunrise Today

Cool. Crisp. Beautiful shades of blue.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thoughts on a Gentle Day

When I am writing, I often plumb my memory of the immediate for a hook, something to start the writing process. It usually tends to be a sense memory and from there - a topic often unfolds. Other times is flows out a specific event - either a peak event or a valley event - a good moment or a bad moment.

So, I was sitting here, taking a break from work, thinking about writing a journal entry and I ran through my sense memories of the day. Nothing really stood out. It has also been a day without a real peak or valley moment - nothing extraordinarily good or bad…

And the moment I wrote that last sentence I realized there was a peak moment. It was a gentle peak. Very early this morning while I was in the shower someone dear to me called and left me a voice mail.

It was a simple voice mail, gracious and humorous and sensual, all wrapped in a few short sentences. It made me smile, made me laugh, and gave me a bit of a thrill. I have noticed even as I sit here recalling it that the corner of my mouth has curled in a smile.

All in all it has been a gentle day. It is wonderful to say that. I subscribe to an email list that sends out daily quotes and small articles of a spiritual nature. It is non-secular, no particular religion or bend, just a collection of quotes. There is almost always something inside of there that I enjoy.

Today, it was a quote from Sophocles.

"One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life. That word is love."

That is a perfect quote for a gentle day. The other day in my journal I had written a poem about small gods. I also love the small god of gentle days like today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Morning Sky

We have had a parade of beautiful fall mornings the last couple of weeks and today was no exception. I was on the highway on the way to work this morning in the hour before the dawn. At one point in the commute I turn to the north east for about ten minutes. The sun was rising off behind Mt. Hamilton and there were high wispy clouds. The clouds were shades of soft red. The sky overhead was dark and there was a ribbon of light blue on the horizon, fading quickly into deeper blues. I reached the office and parked behind the building and then sat there listening to Annie Lennox and drinking my coffee and thinking just how damn beautiful the world is sometimes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The God Of Small Things

I love the God of small things.

The god of chocolate shakes.

The god of wispy white clouds.

The god of the scent of lavender.

The god of the taste of butterscotch.

The god of Annie Lennox's voice.

The god of a strangers smile.

The god of the twinkle of eyes.

The god of worn blue jeans.

The god of clean sheets.

The god of fingertips.

This god.

Sent from my iPhone

The Mercy Of Monday

I just liked the title - it has actually been a pretty good Monday. I got a good night sleep last night and woke fairly crisp. The morning went smooth, traffic was good, the weather was crisp and covered in early morning fog.

I spent the first five hours of the working day in meetings and then went to lunch. Lunch was so-so. It was a tomato bisque that was a little granular (I would have preferred a more creamy bisque) and a tomato and mozzarella salad with cherry tomatoes that we just not quite ripe. A disappointing lunch all in all.

Somewhere either yesterday while doing laundry and house cleaning or last night while sleeping I strained my left wrist. I am fine with vertical movement of the wrist but have a limited range of motion when it comes to any horizontal movement. I have a nice little bruise underneath the skin on the outer side of the wrist, as if I hit something with it, but I can't recall any specific blow. I suspect I somehow got it twisted and slept on it.

I had a good weekend all in all. Friday night I went down to the local sports bar and had a beer and a shot of Jim Beam (I don't drink much) and sat and watched the Sharks playing hockey for a while. I left earlier then intended because the noise was getting to me. I have a weird sensitivity to noise - I do not mind loud noises (as in music, etc.) but chaotic noises as in twenty excited drunk people talking at once just irritates me. I am much more a lover of quiet places I guess.

Saturday, I met friends for an early breakfast and then…watched plans disintegrate. Originally, there were five of us planning to go up to SF and one by one through the week everyone cancelled - but me! So, around about ten AM I started out for SF. I took my time driving up, just wandering, stopping at various places, parks and overlooks, to just - enjoy the day, and it was a beautiful one.

My "more or less" goal was the DeYoung Museum. Traffic was stop and go on 19th, as it always is, and the area around the DeYoung was packed. There was some sort of festival going on at the Concourse, so there were a few thousand extra people in the area. I ended up parking across 19th and walking over.

Since the Botanical Gardens were on the way, I stopped and spent about two hours just wandering around the gardens, sitting on various benches, soaking up the sun and the beauty of the gardens.

Then, I went across the street to the DeYoung (cringing as I passed the concert that was mostly…distortion…there should be a law that requires all free concerts to have an actual sound engineer). It was my first visit to the new DeYoung and I must say, architecturally speaking, I was very impressed - it is a visually powerful building.

My first stop inside was…lunch. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, yogurt, and a brownie, washed down with organic lemonade. It was actually fairly good for museum cafeteria food. Then, I spent the next several hours wandering the galleries and exhibits and the building itself. A good museum (and the DeYoung is one) has a timeless quality about it, so I wandered and I looked and I sat and I explored. My favorite exhibit was an exhibit of Mesoamerican artifacts. Some pretty astounding stuff.

Sated, artifact wise, I wandered out onto the Concourse and checked out the free concert for a while. Not my genre of music, but the crowd seemed to be having a good time. From there, I walked back to my car and came home. I must have walked eight or nine miles, most of it in broad looping circles. I got home that evening, goofed around for a while, watched some television, ate some dinner and fell into bed and asleep about eleven PM.

I slept straight through the night, waking crisply at sunrise (just a little after 7:00 AM). I wake at sunrise pretty much regardless of when I go to sleep, so with the sliding approach of fall, I tend to sleep a little later - at least until we fall back with Daylight Savings Time (November 2nd this year, mark your calendar).

Sunday was a sedate day, lingered in the morning watching football and reading, then spent the afternoon doing laundry, and Sunday evening went to dinner with my friend Tony at Flames on Winchester (where I discovered that every Sunday the owner makes his mothers Greek chicken, rice and lemon soup - outstanding!), and saw the movie Max Payne. Do not rush out to see the movie. It was enjoyable, visually impressive, but also an entirely predictable movie based on a video game, so be forewarned. It's an action/popcorn movie - brain optional for attendance.

Then, I can home, wrote the previous entry, chatted with a friend online, chatted on the telephone and called it an early night to read and drift off to sleep.

Let me share a pair of links to the DeYoung and the Botanical Gardens.

The DeYoung:

(Oh, and the website shows the Maya Lin sculpture - that is pretty dang cool - you would not think so just reading about it - but it has presence. Technically the exhibit doesn't open until the 25th, but they were in the process of assembling it and it is mostly done.)

The San Francisco Botanical Gardens

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Fall Night

The movie was short. There were only the barest bones of a plot to give the Hero an excuse to follow the scripted course. You knew the Bad Guy the moment he appeared on the screen. The Leading Lady was stunningly beautiful. The Supporting Characters were appropriately quirky.

I walked out of the theatre into the fall night. Santana Row was across the street. It was lit in various shades of neon and mercury. The night was velvet in its blackness, all trace of the stars lost behind the clouds. It was cool, cool enough that I zipped my jacket shut as I walked across the parking lot. My car was sitting there alone underneath a street light, clean and silver. A single landscaped tree, strategically placed in the expanse was its only company.

I took a deep breath of the air. It smelled like rain. I crossed the parking lot in a slow purposeful stride, drinking in the sensual champagne - the dance of light and shadows, the scent of rain and fall, the feel of coolness on my face, the lingering taste of Black Cherry soda, the quiet hushed sounds of urban life. I shook hands with my friends and wished them a good night.

A perfect fall moment. I wish I could capture it. I wish you could have been there. I share it hear only imperfectly. A pale imitation of the moment. Perhaps it is enough that you can, from your memories, close your eyes and call the sensuality of it into your senses from somewhere deep in the well of memories.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Carefully gather everything together
In one place
Measured into the proper proportions
When the moment arrives
You cannot wait…you cannot wait
Warm the butter at a
Until the moment when it is
To Melt
Plunge the brown sugar in
All of it
At once
Plunge it in
Then stir it
Until it is all uniformly wet
Then slow down
Slow down and stir it
Very slowly, infrequently, unexpectedly
Make sure you get every curve
As you stir
Watch the changes closely
Until it become molten
Like lava
Then hesitate, hesitate
Just before it turns liquid
Pour in the cream
Whisk it
Firm, fast, fierce
Until it is all liquid and smooth
Then bring it all to a boil
Let it cool
Just a bit
Taste it
Then add salt and vanilla extract
And taste it again
With each pass
Taste it
Until on your tongue
You have the rich creamy
Taste of butterscotch

Winter's Approach

Years ago I came to a place
Where it is the rare leaf that falls
As winter slips along the coast
We stay green
We become greener yet
As the rains rush off the sea
Winter here is lush, cold, gray, green, and

Notes On A Beautiful California Morning

It has been a very beautiful morning.

I woke up about 5:30 AM, while it was still dark night outside, brewed a pot of coffee, ran through the shower and dressed for work.

I had that first cup of coffee while watching the morning news and eating a piece of coffee cake I had carried around in my briefcase since the day before. There is something to be said for briefcase coffee cake.

I headed into the office about 6:30 AM, stopping at the coffee shop for that vital commute cup of coffee. (Notice that coffee often seems to be a morning theme for me?) Because of the early hour traffic was mostly very light on the way in.

Nature was presenting a spectacular dawn vista.

The sky was filled with high wisps of clouds along both the horizons, to the south and north. The sunlight was hitting them and they were a wonderful cascade of rose red to the softest blush red.

The sky was a very pale blue, deepening in shade from east to west. There were faint traces of gold lining some of the clouds.

With the coming of fall, the crows were flying in flocks. Several large flocks of black birds spun through the morning air, silhouetted against that varied blue sky.

I paused in the parking lot, as I usually do, to finish my morning coffee and watch the sunrise. It was simply an amazingly beautiful morning and I am glad I had the opportunity to simply sip coffee and watch it unfold.

The ordinary things in life are pretty extraordinary.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

All The Worlds A Stage

I was thinking today about the interchange of people in a chat room. As I have mentioned before, I am a "regular" in AOL's Spiritual Insights chat room. I visit others, depending on how the mood strikes me, but inevitably I circle back to my chat "Home" (if you are on AOL, feel free to stop in say hello - we've got the whole spectrum of people there, from the great to the near great to the not so great).

Over they years, I have come to conclusion that the best metaphor for chat in performance art. (I have joked that chat is like performance art, only without the performance, or the art.) There is a huge element of improvisational acting going on in any given chat room. The actors come in - they may have prepared for the performance, they may have not prepared for it - they may be ready to portray a familiar character, they may be ready to portray a new character.

For some people this acting process is overt, campy, and played to the bleachers. For others this acting process is far more subtle, played with depth and meaning. Some seek to play heroes, some seek to play villains. Some have cast themselves as the protagonist, some the antagonist, and many are quite content to play the wide array of supporting roles.

Now it isn't to say that people are not genuine, open and honest in chat - many folks are. But one of the things that has always fascinated me with chat is that all that ever appears on a chat screen is the result of a deliberate choice - the choice to type a line of words and hit the enter key.

(Stream of consciousness is a specific art form and though what streams out may appear spontaneous, with the exception of an excited utterance, it is not - the actor makes the deliberate decision to not filter and to just flow - but the deliberate decision was made at some point).

If you understand chat as performance art it is a lot more enjoyable. If you understand a chat room as a stage onto which anyone can climb, at any time, and launch into whatever role they want to portray - in the course of a single session we can see everything - comedy and tragedy - unfold simultaneously.

Some folks are portraying your basic "slice of life". Some folks are playing at vaudeville. Some folks are portraying Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. Some folks are bringing their best Macbeth. Some folks are re-enacting Midsummer Nights Dream. You can see Death of Salesman, Peter Pan, True West and A Long Days Journey Into Night all tangled together, at once.

It is pretty astounding stuff! There are some folks who are reading their lines without understanding what the lines are about. There are some folks who are so deep into method acting they have lost themselves in the characters they are portraying. There are some folks who are typecast and who are essentially playing the same character over and over and over. There are some folks who never break the fourth wall. There are some folks who constantly turn and wink to the audience. There are roles of joy and roles of sorrow and every role in between - and at the core of it, just like at the core of the theatre there are…

The play is about humans connecting with humans through the universal medium art. Ah, the play is the thing! Now, this is all a metaphor of course - so it is important to understand that and keep it in mind.

In closing, I want to say just one more thing about the performance art called chat. Art is at its most powerful when it is honest, whatever it is portraying. The audience (and in performance art, the audience is often part of the art itself) senses inherently what is honest and what it not. To call something an act is not to demean it in any way - but to elevate it to the art that it is.

We all act as we go through life. We all play many roles at many times. A very few people manage to take their life down to the core - but are they revealing their true selves? Or are they just the best and most consistent of actors? Those actors who can own a role to such a degree that all other performances of that role are compared to them? Because in this performance art we have the opportunity to play so many different roles - who we truly are does come through. Tiny bits of us revealed in each performance. Little pieces of the jig saw that make up the puzzle of us.

Now, you may have read through this and rebelled at the thought of you as an actor. You might be thinking "Rod, I am not acting when I in chat! I am genuine!" I agree.

That is the beauty of life as art. We are portraying ourselves. We are not acting in the sense of assuming an artificial personality. We are acting in the truest sense of the word - in that we are undertaking very specific actions to portray, for an audience, the course of things - a story, a tale, a reflection, a memory, a portrayal, an emotional state bound by time and space. That is the stunning beauty of it. That is the endless fascination of it.

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

William Shakespeare, "As You Like It", Act. II.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Idle Thoughts While Working Virtually

I've been working virtually today. I woke up and just felt a general malaise. For the last couple of days I seem to have had just the leading edge of a cold - not enough to be sick - but just enough to feel run down. I am clear through the day, but I have been waking up with the morning sniffles. So, I thought I would make a pre-emptive strike against it today and spent the day drinking juice, taking Vitamin C, and eating chicken noodle soup.

I've spent most of the morning on teleconferences and I have one more to go. If you ever want to imagine what it is an information systems manager actually does - picture a lot of teleconferences talking about stuff and reading and writing a lot of email about other stuff - and you will not be very far off.

I often tell the story that when I was very young (less then ten) my father was a construction manager for a company in Rapid City, SD. He had an office with a round window and spent his day doing paper work. I can remember very clearly going to visit him at his office and behing enthralled by the paperwork. I can remember going home and...playing...paperwork with my siblings. If only I knew...

It is another beautiful California day - the sun is shining brightly, the sky is a very vivid blue, and it is cool and crisp out. As I sit here writing, the soup is heating up! Being an information technology worker I have the option to work virtually at my discretion. Sometimes working from home is more productive (less incidental interruptions), but I am basically a social person. I could not work virtually for an extended period of time - I like being around other people to much.

I did have an amusing moment this morning. I was hosting a teleconference and the gardeners showed up to mow the lawn in the courtyard of the apartment complex. Now, keep in mind this is a patch of grass that is about fifteen feet wide and thirty feet long. That is it. Nothing more. They mowed it...and mowed it...and stopped and took a break...and mowed it again. It was pretty amusing since each pass of it took about ten minutes and they managed to stretch it into an hour long job - with a break.

I am slowly adjusting to the move here from AOL Journals. I managed to get the counter installed last night. It was one of those things where...I knew how to do it...but I just couldn't seem to do it right...and then I figured out that...if I put it on, and then actually clicked the submit button, it would work! Sometimes, when I am doing something, I just need to stop, step away, and come back and the answer is right in front of me.

I often relate a work story - I had been struggling for several days with a technical problem that had a bunch of people stumped. It seemed to me that the solution was right there in front of me, but I could not quite tease it out. After a twelve hour day I gave up and started to go home. I turned my computer off, packed it up, and went out the back door of the office. As I walked across the parking lot I notice a rock in the middle of the parking lot, so I picked it up and threw it off into the unpaved portion of the parking lot.

As that rock arced through the sky, the solution to the problem suddenly popped into my brain, complete and concise. I then turned around and dashed back into the office and started the computer again - all the while trying not to lose the solution! It is pretty amazing how the brain solves things.

Well, I am going to settle in and enjoy the soup, take a little time for lunch, play online for a while and probably poke at the journal settings and see what else I can do to get it where I want it to be.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Valdez Is Coming

It is a quiet evening here in San Jose. I am sitting at home, drinking a tall cold glass of ice water, watching Valdez Is Coming with Burt Lancaster, a classic western. Watching westerns is a soothing balm. There is some element in classic movies that just seems to be lacking in a lot of modern movies - not all - just a lot of them. I think a lot of it has a lot to do with the pace of the story telling. In the older movies they take more time to develop the story and characters and since I tend to be a very story driven person, that appeals to me.

It is a balmy night here. After a great pot roast dinner (make in my slow cooker, simmered all day), I took a two mile walk around the neighborhood. At the farthest point, just as I was getting ready to turn around, I ran into two of my neighbors, pushing strollers and trailing a gaggle of kids. That was a nice surprise, so I turned and walked back to the apartment complex with them.

I've noticed that lately I have been very externally focused - nothing wrong with it - just a little different. I've been writing lately, but not finishing anything. That is fine, sometimes when I write it takes a while for the writing to pull itself together into something I like. I was reading an article earlier in the day about writing - what the author described as his process of writing novels is that at first he spends time (a couple of months usually) writing about what he is going to write about. Describing thing, explaining things, writing character biographies, writing first person character material (as if one of the characters was extrapolating on something). Then, when he has written about the novel and the characters and the story for a month or two, usually between 100 and 200 pages, he finds that he knows the characters, environment, circumstances, voices, view points and motivations well enough that he begins the process of actually writing the novel. He does not so much plot the novel, but rather fills out the context the novel falls into. I thought it was a pretty interesting approach.

I think I will mull it around and give it a try and see what comes out of it. I have a novel length story that I have been trying to figure out how to tell, so we'll see what develops.

Another Link

Here is another site I stumbled on that I found enjoyable and



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Neil Gaiman

I thought I would share this link. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite


I hope you enjoy it!

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Tuesday At Lunch

Tuesday At Lunch

Lunch is split pea soup and tuna salad, with a macaroon for dessert, all washed down with a bottle of San Pellegrino. Pretty simple and straight forward.

The morning has been relatively quiet here at work. I've had a handful of meetings. I've got a clear calendar for the afternoon so I am going to review some long set aside email. I am sure most of them will end up in the OBE folder. (Overcome By Events - meaning they are no longer relevant because of events that happened since they were sent.)

It has been a beautiful fall day. The sun is shining brightly but the air is crisp and cool. I must profess an undying love for fall. There are so many things that make it my favorite time of year - the weather, the smell, football, the change of seasons, the long twilights. I find all of them simply magical.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

A Few Images

Just thought I would share a couple of images from a Da Vinci exhibit I went to at the San Jose Tech Museum on Saturday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Mystery Of October

Deep inside the late October night
The quiet clink of whiskey and ice
I open the window, turn down the light
The piper was paid his asking price

Remembering those drives along the coast
The warm days the cool nights
I am not sure which I miss the most
Of all the things we did without the lights

If we could have stayed there on the road
A quiet motel a sleepy little town
I wonder at the story left untold
Before our lives came tumbling down

Wrapped inside the mystery of October
Tangled up inside of love gone astray
Wrapped inside the mystery of October
I wonder how we lost our way

There is no answer inside this glass
No answer in the soft scent of fall
Soon enough every secret comes to pass
Sometimes we roll the dice and lose it all

Wrapped inside the mystery of October
Tangled up inside of love gone astray
Wrapped inside the mystery of October
I wonder at the next love come our way

Wrapped inside the mystery of October
I wonder at the next love come our way

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sum of a Friday

Well, all in all, it was an indifferent Friday. I slept in later than usual (which often leads into my indifferent days), spent some time online, then went out and ran a couple of errands, caught a movie (Body of Lies with Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio, directed by Ridley Scott), then met some friends for an early dinner at Holdens. After dinner, I ran a few more errands and then circled home. Spent some time on the telephone talking to my mother, and then went out for a nice long walk through the neighborhood.

In hindsight, after I starting writing this entry, there were several high spots during the during - a good morning conversation with someone dear to me, the movie (I always like Ridley Scott movies, he is a very good director), the conversation with my mother, and then the walk. It is a beautiful California night out there - a pure fall night - cool and crisp, and I left just at the trailing edge of twilight and made it home well into the dark.

Then I decided that a nice root beer float would be a fine finale to the evening, so here I am, drinking my float and writing. That is not a bad way to wind your way toward the end of an evening. I have been contemplating writing all day, but the ideas are just kind of swirling about, not entirely formed, so we will see if I actually decide to do any creative writing tonight or not. Meanwhile, let me continue to enjoy this float.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

So, There We Are...

Well, the migration from AOL Journals was successful. Glad I made it! I will be playing around with the tools and such and see what we can do here. I look forward to reading everything, and I hope this all works out. It will be interesting to see what additional tools and options we have available to us over here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Fall Today the morning was crisp and cool and clear and it smelled of fall. That is a wonderful smell. I am often astounded by the power of scent memories. Fall is rich with them. Even here in California the change is...sensual alchemy. So, if you have a moment, pause and enjoy the sensual alchemy of fall. Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

San Tomas Aquino Park

An ordinary day at work. Stopped and got my hair cut on the way home. Had pizza for dinner. Went for a walk along San Tomas Aquino River Park (the photo above is from the park). Watched the debates. Ate some ice cream. Worked a few items in my work email queue. Now, just unwinding.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Three From The Museum

Here are three of the items I saw at the Cantor Arts and talk about in the entry below, just so you have a good visual reference.

The above image is "Age of Bronze"

Seamstress At A Window

And Whisperings of Love (this is the one I bought the small print of).

An Assorted Entry

Well, it seems like a while since I have sat down and written a journal entry that wasn't quick and specific.  It seems that I have been externally focused for the last couple of weekends - a strong need to get out and go, to ramble, to spend the time doing...things.  Those things have not be particularly purposeful - often they have just been things.  This last weekend was a classic example.

Sunday, I woke up, watched the morning news and chatted online for a while. Then, I drove down to San Jose and met some friends for breakfast - we went to the Cup and Saucer. I had hash benedict (basically an eggs benedict with hash instead of ham), orange juice and coffee. From there we drove up to the Fall Festival in Los Altos. 

The Los Altos Fall Festival is a smaller festival (small being relative of course) so we only spent about two hours there. The best part of the festival was a display of classic cars - I took some good pictures there.

From there, on the spur of the moment, we went up to the Cantor Arts Museum at Stanford and saw the "Treasures of New Orleans" exhibit.  It is an exhibit of a wide variety of pieces on loan from the New Orleans Museum of Art.  It was kind of an odd exhibit, mostly bits and pieces without a real central theme.  However, I love art and though the exhibit seemed to lack a central theme, there were some excellent individual pieces. 

Rodin's "Age of Bronze" stood out, a nude bronze statue of a young Belgium soldier.  It is a pretty incredible piece.  I am not sure if it was on loan from New Orleans or from the Cantor Arts permanent Rodin collection.

The other pieces that particularly resonated with me was Whisperings of Love (Bougeureau), Woman in the Reeds (a bronze by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse), and Seamstress at a Window (Renoir).  I bought a small print of Whispers of Love at the Museum store.

Renoir's a particularly powerful piece as well. Very simple, very...charged...for lack of a better term.  It is amazing what an artist can do with paint and canvas.

From there, we went to The Prolific Oven in downtown Palo Alto for a slice of cake.  It is a great place, the cake there is excellent and they have a very wide variety. 

Afterwards, we stopped at a comic book shop and I picked up a pair of Fable's trade paperbacks to add to my reading collection.

Then, I took my friends home back to South San Jose, circled home, took a shower and then popped out for a couple of errands.  The evening was spent at home, with pizza, followed by a great little phone call with a friend. 

All in all, an externally focused day.  Today was a good day at work - busy enough to make the time fly, but sane enough that it flew by productively. After work I went out and saw "Burn After Reading" - skip it - it has a few good moments but is otherwise very slow. A clear miss by the Coen Brothers, whom I usually enjoy.

So, now I am at home, relaxing, watching the sun set, listening to the sounds of the courtyard below, and finishing up this journal entry.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Where Rod Lives

I have often spoke of walking through the neighborhoods at dawn and at twilight.  I googled this satellite picture and just thought I would share it with you all.  This is my neighborhood.  If you look at the block A in the center of the picture, I live just to the right of there in one of the larger apartment buildings.
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Went out with friends tonight to see Appaloosa, with Ed Harris, Viggo Mortenson, and Rene Zellwegger. It was an enjoyable western with a couple of funny moments (and whether or not they were supposed to be funny). I would describe it as simple, spare and amusing. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, October 3, 2008

How To Lose Friends...

Quick movie review. Just saw "How To Lose Friends And Alienate People" with Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dundst and Megan Fox. It is an enjoyable light romantic comedy - sweet, with some very good laughs. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sense Memory

Today I had the sense memory of a pure moment. The car skidded to a halt along the road and I opened the door and hit the pavement running, my boots pounding, my legs pumping, the sun slamming into me hot and fierce. I reached the shoulder, steep and rocky, and saw my prey at the bottom of the slope, in a sprawling fall that raised a red puff of dust. I slid down the slope, my boots dancing across the unstable rocks, skittering downward, pulled by gravity, impelled by speed, dancing and sliding until I reached the bottom.  Somehow I kept my feet, though my body was twisted and contorted, I made a stutter step or two, lined out and poured on the speed. My prey had scrambled to his feet and was digging in, trying to run, trying to build speed, but momentum and youth were on my side and I overtook him in twenty yards.  At the last minute he tried to turn and fight, but I bowled into him and tangled his legs and we went down in the red dirt, me on top. A brief struggle and he was handcuffed.  I left him laying there in the dirt while I stood up and brushed off. Puffs of red dust rose with each slap of the hand.  I lifted him to his feet and dusted him off as well.  Words can scarcely describe the purity; the rush of blood, the fire of adrenaline, the muscles pumping, all wrapped in a game as old as time, as old as Man. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Restless Night

I tossed and turned last night. I woke up about every two hours, with memories of dreaming, but no memory of the specific dream. I am going to blame last nights burrito! Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Crow has seven daughters, the youngest of which is Pin. Pin's eyes shine with intelligence and wit. Pin's feathers glisten as though moonlight dwells within them. Pin is fast and strong and brave. She is Crow's youngest daughter so all of this is her birthright. Most of all Pin is quietly clever. So it is that Pin, nestled deep with the boughs of Young Redwood, watches Waterbug and Miriam's Little Fox with glistening eyes. Miriam's Little Fox is the lover of Crow, whose love is fierce and all consuming and unrelenting. Pin has her mother's love in her veins, in the spread of her wings and in the strength of her heart. Pin has taken many lovers and consumed them in her passion. She has eaten their lust and battered their desires and left the broken in the dust, staring dully at the sky. Such is the very nature of the daughters of Crow. But Pin has never known the love that lies between her mother and Miriam's Little Fox. That love is mystery to Pin. That love is a curiosity to Pin. In her curiosity Pin is clever, so she watches. What Pin watches she sees and what she sees is a perplexity. She knows it has something to do with her mothers love. She sees it in the play of Waterbug and Miriam's Little Fox. It is in the nature of the curiosity of crows that they will break things to see what secrets they hold. This stirs inside of Pin. It stirs but is unrealized. In it dwells the cruelty of Crow, who is her mother, and who is casual in her cruelties. But Pin is clever and the clever are rarely casual and Pin, the youngest of the seven daughters of Crow is the rarest and cleverest of them all. Being the rarest and cleverest of them all, Pin is never casual. Curious yes. Cruel yes. Casual, never. So Pin takes wing and taking wing watches and watching watches over Miriam's Little Fox. Pin's bright and curious eyes are Crow's eyes. So what Pin sees Crow knows. But sometimes, just some times, Pin blinks and when Pin blinks Crow blinks and Waterbug has taught Miriam's Little Fox to spin around three times in the blink of an eye. Though Pin is the cleverest of crows, there are things that Miriam's Little Fox can do in the one turn around that are astounding. For when in comes to clever, clever is to foxes what cruel is to crows. It is what they are. Of foxes, Miriam's Little Fox, beloved of Crow, is the cleverest of all. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

I Am Being Stalked By A Crow

I am being stalked by a crow.  It is no ordinary crow. 

A few nights ago, as I was laying down to go to sleep tonight, a fictional character appeared in my imagination.  I recognized her instantly.  She is Pin, the youngest of the daughters of Crow.  I spent some time writing a bit about her the night she appeared in my imagination - but it was not so much a story as it was a vignette.

Then, last night, a crow landed on the branch outside my bedroom just at sunset and stared into the bedroom until the night fell.  At dawn this morning, as I was driving into work, there was a lone crow sitting on the telephone line at the corner, over the middle of the road, silhouetted beautifully against the vivid blue sky of dawn.

I suspect that Pin has a story she wants me to tell and I am now searching for that story.

There were other things hovering in the air when I woke up this morning as well - four news helicopters.  Seems the bar down the street, across from the coffee shop where I normally stop, burned last night. They had all the traffic on Moorpark diverted, so I had to take an alternative commute, circling back up and around and on the interstate.

Other than that, it was an uneventful day.  I had a nice lunch at the Mexicali Grill in Sunnyvale with L.R., who caught me up on the events in her life.  Let me just say - I am glad that my life is relatively uneventful. It is amazing what perspective does to a person. L.R. had the unique experience of being woken from sleep the other night to the sound of three pipe bombs exploding in her husbands pickup. Two cars were damaged and shrapnel peppered the front of the house. Fortunately, no one was injured.  Life is full of choices. Some of the choices we make are...not the best.  I am just glad no one was injured, because it could have easily turned out other wise. A small piece of metal, accelerated at a few thousand feet per secord, well - the difference between life and death is razor thin.

So, I come home tonight to my quiet apartment, where the greatest danger to me, personally, is indigestion from the burrito I am planning to eat shortly.  Where the most excitement in my life is being stalked by a muse of a crow.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Small Changes

Several times in the last week or so I have had to power through a case of writers block.  Where I sit down to write, where I have something I want to write about, where I get started and then just got - nowhere. It is starting to frustrate me.  I was in a strange mood last night - almost quarrelsome - and for no apparent reason that I could determine, just because I was.  I wanted to run around and poke people with a sharp stick.  Not maliciously, well, not totally maliciously. It was more like I was upset by the status quo and just wanted to change things up. I think I should follow up on that instinct over the next couple of weeks. Changing the small items of daily patterns can be a good thing.  We tend to think of change only in terms of large scale change, but it is often the small scale changes that have all the impacts. I know that and I need to focus on that and make some small scale changes. Sent via BlackBerry by AT