Monday, December 29, 2008

If - Rudyard Kipling

It is a very quiet day at work here today so I have turned my minds eye toward planning and thinking about the year to come. I've been working on my New Year's Resolutions and have been contemplating various thematic inspirations. Sometimes, rather than invent the wheel every time, we can turn to the inspiration of people who were far wiser and far more eloquent then we are. Which brought me in turn to "If" by Rudyard Kipling. I thought I would share it here if you are unfamiliar with the poem, or even if you are, it is a singularly powerful personal mission statement.

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I slept in this morning until about nine AM, which is late for me. I woke up once at about three AM, for no particular reason, stirred a bit and then fell back asleep. I must have needed the extra sleep because I was out like a light.

I had an interesting dream. I dreamt that I was going to a revival film festival and I was going to see a movie starring Humphrey Bogart called "The Magnificent Hush". The poster was classic film noir, black and white, with Bogart in suit and hat walking down a cobblestone alley, all shadows and light. It was a very vivid dream so I remember being excited about seeing a little known Bogart classic. I woke from the dream and I was disappointed that it was only a dream. There is no such movie. It did make me want to watch a Humphrey Bogart movie though.

Having slept late, I called a friend of mine to see if he wanted to get something for breakfast, but he declined. He has a relationship that has crumbled apart over the last couple of months and the stress has him very anti-social. He tends toward the anti-social side anyway, so his desire to pull in from the world is actually pretty common. His relationship problems are that usual mix of pride and miscommunication. I wish him luck and am wise enough in the ways of this world to stay the heck out of it.

Breakfast was cream cheese coffee cake (the last of it), coffee and orange juice. Then I came online for a while, chatted in AOL's Spiritual Insights room for about an hour. A good friend of mine there gave me a serious case of vacation envy as they are going fly fishing with friends over the New Year's stretch. I can fly fish, but I do not consider it among my major hobbies, but just thinking about it made me realize it has been a while since I have gone fishing - I went a couple of times last year, but that was about it. I think I am going to have to put "more fishing" on my new years resolution list for the coming year.

The sky was bright and blue and beckoning me outside, so I head out about ten AM. I went down to San Tomas Aquino River Park and took a nice long walk in the sun (it was still a little cool, but the sun on my face felt great). From there, I went over the AMC Saratoga theatre and took a chance on the movie "The Spirit". I admire the ground-breaking iconic work that was Will Eisner's "The Spirit". I admire the vivid visualization of Frank Miller. And I wanted to like the movie...

I like about forty minutes of it and what I liked were the minutes that were pure Frank Miller. However, as far as the whole movie goes - some of it just didn't work. So, I would recommend seeing it on DVD or free cable when the time comes, simply for the crossing of talent (Eisner and Miller) that it represents. Alas however, it is not a good movie.

After the movie, I walked over to REI Sporting Goods to see what they had on sale (mostly ski related stuff and winter clothing), then Staples (I was looking for one of the little accordian folders for keeping track of my bills). Ultimately, I did not get anything at either store. From there, I went over to the grocery store and stocked up on cupboard staples.

I need to make another trip sometime a little later this afternoon to get perishables, but my cupboard is stocked. Then, I stopped at strip mall that has a series of boutique stores and walked through it, partly to be in the sun and walking, and partly to see what was on post christmas sale. Each of the stores looked like it had been hit by a hurricane! All of the clerks and owners had that dazed "what happened to us" look. Retail is down overall, but they seemed to have done a brisk business.

Out of curiosity I asked at each store how they had done and the answer seemed to be pretty universal that they had done "better than they expected" in the pre and post Christmas phases. I took that as a good sign. (California, being the behemoth of a state that we are, tends to lead trends - I suspect we were the first into economic difficulties and will be the first out - assuming we don't go bankrupt because of our state legislatures inability to agree on a budget. Though, FYI, "budget chicken" is a familiar game here in CA.)

From there, I stopped at Goodwill, just to peek around and see if they had any hidden treasures, but I didn't really see anything. Again, my main motivation was to be out and wandering in the sun. From there, I wandered home, stopping at the liquor store to pick up some ice cream for a snack and the Sunday paper. The Sunday paper was long a ritual for me, but it was a ritual that I had gotten out of the habit of during last year and now I am trying to get back into the habit.

I am looking forward to the coming week. I only work three days and then I have a four day weekend. I haven't decided if I am going to do anything for New Years Eve. I dislike being out with the drunks, so my inclination is to stay home. Additionally, and in what is one of the big drawbacks of living in a major urban area at New Year's is all of the clubs double, triple, and quadruple their cover charges - just because they can. Even bars that normally do not run a cover charge run one on New Years. So, you end up paying twenty or thirty bucks just to get in the door of someplace you might enjoy. I pass.

All of that said though, sometimes I do like just...going out and watching the crowds on New Years Eve. So, I will probably make that decision when the time comes - but right now, the inclination is a quiet night at home, perhaps with friends, perhaps not. Now, I am going to eat my ice cream and read my paper.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Resolving Resolutions

2008 is drawing to a close. I am a "New Years Resolution" type of person, so I tend to take some time at the end of each year and the beginning of the next to review my resolutions from last year and make some resolutions for the new year. These are my resolutions from 2008. I tend to look at them and see what worked (successful) and what didn't work (unsuccessful). In between the resolutions I consider successful and unsuccessful are the ones that are either ambivalent (a little bit of both) or irrelevant (overcome by events).


1. Do something personally productive within my environment the equivalent of every day, and record those actions, so that I can see the activity going on.

I would rate this one as success. I was not able to do something personally productive every day - life and "The Project That Almost Broke Me" intervened and it was a brutally stressful year at various times - but, I consider it a success because I was able to maintain daily logs (of both work and personal items) through the year and both the process of keeping the logs and reviewing them were very insightful. So, though I did not success in the literal sense, the intention was highly successful.

2. Stay in touch with old friends. Create and maintain a communications/contact log.

I would rate this one as successful - the purpose of it was to not let my personal contacts fall into disarray because I was otherwise occupied and in that, I think it was a successful resolution.

3. Use mass transit the equivalent of once every ten working days. Resulting in a reduction of my commute foodprint by 10%.

Also successful. Between mass transit and virtual working I was able to meet and exceed this goal.

4. Take 52 day trips to different places in order to explore and expand my environment.

Not successful. I only managed to get out and about exploring about half the amount of time I wanted to. The intention of this resolution was to just enjoy the small paradise that I live in - I was able to enjoy it, but not as much as I would have liked to. On far too many weekends I was simply burnt out.

5. Aggressively support a specific charity through the year, one that engages you.

This one was not successful. I did more charitable support work in 2008 than in 2007, but it was not as focused as I would have liked. I may carry this one into next year.

6. Spend time each day in prayer and meditation.

Unsuccessful here as well. I lost a lot of focus during the year to stress (I would not hesitate to say 2008 was the most stressful year I have had in a decade or more - there were times when the work or personal life was more intense, but not more stressful.) One of the drawbacks of that level of stress was a loss of focus.

7. Engage in creative writing at a pace of approximately 1 page per day.

Unsuccessful - though I did manage to write far more than I had the previous year and I liked the quality of writing, it lacked the discipline and their were long periods of time when my inner voice was silent or muddled.

8. Learn 12 New Things

Unsuccessful as well. There was learning in the previous year, but too much of it was in the form of negative lessons - learning things the hard way - learning things to NOT do in the future. It counts as learning, but it missed the purpose and intent of the resolution.

9. Engage in some nest building activity every week, for 52 nest building things, and log those things so that you can track them.

Unsuccessful as well, but I definitely intend on carrying this one into the near year. At its root what I want to do is pay more attention in crafting the small portion of the world that I live within.

10. Journal on a daily basis.

Successful. That alone makes me consider the whole exercise a success. I did a very good job this year of observing and self awareness, which means I am entering 2009 feeling - good, feeling strong, feeling so very fortunate.

Christmas Day, Reflected

I had a nice quiet Christmas. If there was a theme it was low key. I went the Christmas Mass. I came home. I spent the day cooking, playing with the computer, watching movies on TV, reading, napping, and snacking - not necessarily in that order. I exchanged phone calls with friends and family. I hosted a small dinner where I served BBQ turkey, baked potatos, sweet peas, and peach pie for dessert. I spooled gently into the evening. In short, a simple and beautiful Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fertile Alliances

CANCER (June 21 - July 22)

To get ready for 2009, I invite you to fantasize in depth about the fertile alliances that might be possible for you to cultivate in the coming months. These lively, inspiring bonds could be with people you haven't met yet. They could be with acquaintances you barely know but would like to know better. And they could be with friends, collaborators, and loved ones you're already intimate with but want to become even closer to. The coming year has the potential to bring revolutionary advances in the quality and intensity of your relationships, so it will be smart for you to work hard on making that happen.

If you are not familiar with it, I always enjoy Rob Brezny's "Free Will Astrology" columns in the Metro.

And Then, After Lunch

I stopped at a small deli and had a roast beef and cheddar sandwich, on wheat, with tomatoes and mayo. It was good, simple and filling. After that, I stopped at Lucky on Mathilda Avenue and picked up some odds and ends for tomorrow (specifically, a cream cheese coffee cake for daily munching and an apple pie for dessert).

I am back in the office now and it is still very slow, as expected. I picked up the Metro (our local alternative press newspaper) and I will spend a bit of time now reading it.

Sometimes We Need To Get A Sandwich...

Well, it is the day before Christmas.

It is very quiet here at work. I got one email this morning, from a customer, thanking me for a piece of work I did yesterday.

The phone has rung three times.

I read the entire San Jose Mercury News from front page to back page.

I am going to head out and get something for lunch in a few moments and maybe when I come back I might actually have a coherent thought or two to share.

But it is one of those days where coherent thoughts are optional.

I spoke with my step-father today. My aunt Marie passed away after being removed from life support. The funeral will be in Rapid City, SD on Monday, December 29th. A tough row for her family, but Aunt Marie never regained consciousness following her accident.

A little later in the day I might take the time to write about her and my memories of her and her family.

But, for now, I think I am going to go out and get a sandwich. Life and death are like that. They are always flowing. And sometimes we need to go get a

In Harmony

In harmony with the Tao,
The sky is clear and spacious,
The earth is solid and full,
All creatures flourish together,
Content with the way they are,
Endlessly repeating themselves,
Endlessly renewed.
-Chapter 39, Tao Te Ching
Stephen Mitchell Translation

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And The Day Turns Quiet

I was looking forward to today. I knew from the rhythm of previous years that it would be quiet at work. After the stresses of 2008 and "The Project That Almost Broke Me" - I was looking forward to today.

I was not disappointed. I came into the office about 7:00 AM and there were three other cars in the parking lot. I got to my desk and logged into my computer and after I sorted through the incidental email I found myself down to two actionable email.

It took me fifty two minutes to resolve both of them. Ahhhhhhhh. I worked at incidental things through the day, supporting my analysts and supporting the one customer who contacted me directly.

I went out to lunch at the Grand Indian Buffet on Lawrence Expressway with my friend Don. I had a superb chicken marsala and an excellent potato and pea curry. We talked about a wide range of things, just conversation. If there was a central theme it was about what to do as we got older.

After lunch we stopped at Fry's Electronics and looked at the big screen TV's and then wandered back to the office. I have one more actionable email. I took care of it.

I spent the afternoon cleaning out the flotsam and jetsam of last year from my electronic files (that is a big job - just to give you a rough idea, I receive and send about 20,000 email a year.) I worked a couple of tickets with my analysts (it is nice to dip down in the trenches and actually have the time to teach them new tricks).

I contemplated Christmas dinner (I am going to do a barbecue slow cooked turkey breast, mashed potatoes and stuffing, and vegetable - keeping it simple and tasteful is my plan).
It is now about three thirty PM and the day is winding down. My email and the phone lines are silent. Tomorrow is going to be even quieter.

For the first time in years I am ending the year with ONE ticket in ITSM (our task management system) and the only reason that ticket remains is the customer decided to delay it until sometime in the first quarter of 2009. I am positioned, professionally, nearly perfectly to enter the new year.

On the personal level the positioning is also very well. 2008 was a brutal and stressful year on several levels - personal and professional - and it simply feels nice to slid into 2009 with no turbulence, not carrying any particularly heavy baggage into the new year. Oh, I know that every year has its challenges and I know that 2009 will not be any different - but, I learned a lot in 2008 and I suspect that those lessons, as long as I remember them, will stand me well in the coming year.

My plan tonight is pretty simple - I am going to stop at Safeway on the way home and pick up some odds and ends to prepare for the holiday and the holiday weekend that follows (all intending to keep it low key, so I am making sure the fridge and cupboard are stocked with tasty things).

Once I get home I plan on going online for a while and playing and writing some Christmas email and sending them out. I am feeling reflective tonight and that is a good feeling. I haven't decided what to have for dinner, so I may run out and get sushi. Sushi is always my fall back position when it comes to dinner, in part because I like sushi, but also because you belly up to the sushi bar and have a wide variety of selections - the whole gamut of taste senstions. (Can you tell I like sushi?)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dinner With Strangers

On the Internet

"the Internet leads to a sort of conscious narcolepsy.."

Heard on NPR in conversation with composer John Adams on Forum.

Sent from my iPhone

Mourning Emptiness

Of all the things I have lost
Of all the things I have lost
I cherish only their loss...
It strikes me as strange
I do not miss the things I have lost
I only feel the hole they left
When I mourn the loss
I am mourning the emptiness

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Weight of Blankets

Preparing for bed
I open the cedar chest
And pull out another blanket
Wool, blue and white and
Several muted shades of red
I spread it over the comforter
Then open the covers and slide in
The sheets are soft and crisp
And the blankets weigh down
Settling around me with
The gentle burdens of life
All of the things we carry
That buffer us from the cold
Of a winter's night

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Dust of Snow

by Robert Frost (1923)

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Winter At Santana Row

I've updated Flickr with a new photo set, a series of pictures taken while I was out seeing "Slumdog Millionaire" at Santana Row in San Jose. I think they capture the feel of a California winter quiet nicely.

It was a quiet and relaxing day here, just gentle and easy I slide into the holiday season.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Day of Simple Things

Today was a good day. I lingered in bed reading Ted Hughes "Selected
Poems" on waking. Then I took a hot shower. I spent most of the
morning drinking coffee and orange juice and chatting online. It was a
pleasant morning in chat, with subjects ranging from insects to
explosives to elephants! Sometimes the seques are amazing.

Then, I had tamales for lunch at Maria's, followed by one of the very
best movies I have seen in a long time - Danny Boyle's "Slumdog
Millionaire". I highly recommend it. After the movie I went to Borders
on Santana Row and bought the new Koontz novel and the movie "Romance
& Cigarettes". I wandered a bit more, took some photo's, and circled

Dinner was pork chops and rice pudding. Then I watched "Sanctuary" and
"Stargate Atlantis". I chatted a bit more and made a phone call with a
great little conversation and am now going to curl up and read myself
to sleep. The great things in life are simple things and today was a
day of simple things.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

20 Seconds

I read the other day that
frequent hand washing prevents cold and flu
"they" said you should
wash your hands for 20 seconds
I stood in front of the sink
and started the water running
I tested it until it was warm
bordering on hot
I rinsed my hands
I hit the soap dispenser
I washed my hands and counted
from 1 to 20
20 seconds is a surprisingly long time
I lathered my hands
Washing them thoroughly
The back, the palm, each finger, the thumb
When the 20 seconds were done
I rinsed them under the hot water
Until the soap was gone
I think "they" would be happy
I was mostly amused
with clean hands

20 Seconds

I read the other day that
frequent hand washing prevents cold and flu
"they" said you should
wash your hands for 20 seconds
I stood in front of the sink
and started the water running
I tested it until it was warm
bordering on hot
I rinsed my hands
I hit the soap dispenser
I washed my hands and counted
from 1 to 20
20 seconds is a surprisingly long time
I lathered my hands
Washing them thoroughly
The back, the palm, each finger, the thumb
When the 20 seconds were done
I rinsed them under the hot water
Until the soap was gone
I think "they" would be happy
I was mostly amused
with clean hands

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It is night, and cold
The streets are painted black
With the freshness of rain
Reflecting the curtained lights
Of a thousand extraordinary lives
Warm within his red anorak
Miriam's Little Fox weaves within
The ripples of fragmentary conversations
Carelessly unleashed to ramble
Amid the zephyr eddies of the
Storm children of yester-hour

Sent from my iPhone


Yesterday morning when I woke early I headed into work through the rain. It was a cold and steady rain that painted the streets black and reflected the amber glow of the streetlights. Walking across the parking lot to my office I walked down a sidewalk covered in fallen leaves. The leaves were soaked from the rain fall.

As my feet kicked them up there was that wonderful fecund scent of decaying leaves mingled with the sweet scent of new fallen rain and that faint tang of the sea from the San Francisco Bay. Everything smelled crisp and clear and clean. I was dressed for the the weather - gray t-shirt, business shirt, gray cable sweater, Columbia rain jacket. I was snug and warm inside my clothing and the morning was simply beautiful.

At lunch I walked down the street to the Boomerang Cafe. It was cold and blustery, with the wind pushing and pulling at me. For lunch I had a bowl of Southwestern corn chowder and a tuna and green onion salad with a bottle of Pelegrino. My friend Don and I discussed imaginary money in a lively conversation. After lunch I walked back to the office. A few minutes into the journey the clouds opened up and pelted me with fast, cold, stinging rain that in another few moments turned to sleet.

The sleet popped off my coat, striking with a certain violence. I held my hood with my hand to keep it from blowing off and the sleet stung my hand like small angry white insects. My shoes and my pants were quickly wet from the rain and the sleet. As I walked I watched the sleet bouncing off the sidewalk and listened to the rushing sound it made. I was warm inside my coat and able to enjoy each moment of it.

That evening, on the way home, I stopped at Borders bookstore to look for a certain movie. They did not have the movie I was looking for but their computer says it is at another store, not that far away, so I will swing by there tonight. I came out of the store and stood in front of the door for a little while.

The rain was pouring down. It was heavy, cold, drenching. A young mother went by pushing a child in a stroller. The mother was dressed for the weather and the child was a small bundle of coats and blankets, with a tiny little face and bright blue eyes peeking out. The child extended a small gloved hand in and out of the canopy of the stroller, playing with the falling rain.

Later that evening, I sat at home, curled in my favorite chair, reading a novel, drinking a cup of hot vanilla chocolate and listening to the rain pouring down on the roof and gurgling as it flowed through the gutters and down spout. Rain filled the day and filling the day it filled the sense of the day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Strange-In-A-Good-Way Monday Morning

Every day begins the night before.

On Sunday night, after a relaxing and lazy day, I ate a big bowl of homemade chicken soup, I watched a little TV, I wrote a few email, I had a nice conversation on the phone with someone dear, I read a chapter in my novel and fell asleep to the sound of rain falling on the roof and gurgling in the downspout.

I fell asleep early.

At about 5:00 AM I woke to a scent. It took me a moment to figure out what it was as I lay there in the darkness. I could hear someone moving through the apartment. I could hear music playing softly. I glanced at the clock and noticed the hour. I recognized the scent - it was Axe body spray.

My first thought was a cranky one. I thought about getting up and asking my nephew what the heck he was doing up at 5:00 AM spraying Axe when it was a Monday morning. My assumption was that he had stayed up all night and now, rudely, woken me in the morning.

Then my brain slowly clicked in. My nephew works all over the clock, based on need, and I remembered he had told me he was going into work at 5:30 AM Monday morning. I realized that he was just getting up to go to work, and there I was willing to get up and be cranky.

But, I also discovered that I was pretty much wide awake because I had fallen asleep early the night before. So I rolled out of bed and told him about my morning thoughts. He laughed and promised to go easy on the Axe!

My apartment has a square lay out. The living room, dining room and kitched are in the front half and the two bedrooms are in the back half, with the bathroom between the bedrooms. there is a small corridor that leads from the living room to the bathroom and bedrooms and on one side of that corridor is the furnace and on the otherside a coat closet.

The intake vent for the furnace is near the floor. It is an efficient little place - but the furnace intake catches scents and pushes them up and through the furnace into the bedroom. With the cold weather right now, my nephew blasted himself with his Axe and the aerosol fell to the floor and was sucked into the vents!

I had an early morning meeting today, so I rolled out, drank some coffee and got ready to head into the office, then I dropped my nephew off at his work place on the way in. He is fortunate in that he works just a little over a mile from the apartment so it is either a five minute bus ride or a thirty minute walk.

After I dropped him off I drove into work, stopping at the coffee shop on the way in. It was a cold morning, raining intermittently after a night of fairly heavy rain and the city streets were black and glistening in the amber glow of the mercury vapor street lights. Because of the early hour traffic was very light so the drive in was beautiful and pleasant.

I was listening to Warren Zevon on the radio and just enjoyed the drive in immensely. Since I came in early I got a good start on my email and voice-mail queues before beginning the morning cycle of meetings. One of the advantages of starting the day early is that it will end early - by the time I go to lunch at noon it will be three quarters over. So, let me return to the working world with one of the Warren Zevon songs on "Mutineer".

"Piano Fighter" by Warren Zevon, 1993, Zevon Music, BMI

Mom and Papa bought a Chickering
Every day I'd sit and play that thing
I practiced hard;
it was more than a whim
I played with grim determination, Jim

Someone called Piano Fighter
I'm a holy roller, I'm a real lowrider
Hold me tight, honey, hold me tighter
Then let me go, Piano Fighter

I worked in sessions and I played in bands
A thousand casuals and one-night stands
Here on Thursday, gone on Friday
Heading down the Dixie highway

Someone called Piano Fighter
I'm a holy roller, I'm a real lowrider
Hold me tight, honey, hold me tighter
Then let me go, Piano Fighter

Maybe I'll go to Reno
Nobody knows my name
I'll play Claire de Lune in a quiet saloon
Steady work for a change
Ain't going down that long, lonesome road
Ain't going down that long, lonesome road
Got in trouble down in New Orleans
I must admit that I was strung out, painted in the corner of a limousine

Someone called Piano Fighter
I'm a thin ice walker, I'm a freelance writer
Hold me tight, honey, hold me tighter
Then let me go, Piano Fighter
Someone called Piano Fighter

I'm a holy roller, I'm a real lowrider
Hold me tight, honey, hold me tighter
Then let me go, Piano Fighter

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Gift

I dreamt that I was in a museum gallery. A very large room with
hardwood floors and white walls, well lit and spacious. In the center
of the room was a long wooden table. On the wooden table was a thick
wooden block and on the wooden block was a silver mortar and pestle.
The docent told me that in the mortar was the most valuable gift the
museum had ever received. It was filled with red earth. It was a
certain type of clay that, when powdered, was the main component upon
which many paints were based. Priceless and yet simple.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, December 12, 2008

Music - Natasha Josefowitz


As I lie next to you
I am your violin
All smooth curves
Waiting to be played upon

As you lie next to me
You are my bow
Straight and thin
Rigidly poised
In expectation

Slowly you fine tune my body
Listening for the different sounds
Our music makes
As your bow glides
Over my body

At first tentatively
Testing the chords
Then gently
Plucking at the strings

Until the soft humming
Becomes a duet
Then a string ensemble
Some brass joins in
Finally the full orchestra
Explodes in a symphony
Of cymbals and drums

The applause is silent

-Natasha Josefowitz
"Passionate Hearts: The Poetry of Sexual Love", edited by Wendy Wentz,
New World Library, 1996 (Tenth year edition 2007)

Sent from my iPhone

Sushi To Go

Just got home from a quiet-but-busy day. Stopped on the way home at Sushi Totoro, so I am now sitting here with a bowl of miso soup, California rolls and Philadelphia rolls. We have a cold front rolling in with the promise of showers over the weekend so I am looking forward to a nice quiet weekend spent - hanging out and just enjoying the quiet things in life. I have a couple of new books to read, I have a couple of loads of laundry to do, and I have a collection of movies from which I may take my choice. This weekend I have planned to have no plans - just take things as they come.

I spent most of the work day troubleshooting a problem that cropped up earlier in the week and they (meaning the developers) thought they had found the root cause - except - it turned out to be not the root cause. LOL - not only not the root cause, but at the end of the day I am pretty convinced it had nothing to do with nothing. (I did find the root cause after a couple of hours of methodical testing). I always like when that happens. Even though as a manager now my role is no longer purely technical it is nice when I put my technical skills to work and out perform other people. That is the part of me that is inherently competitive - it is good to be good.

I am almost finished reading Jack Higgin's "The Killing Ground", a Sean Dillon novel. It is decent, a well plotted if formulaic thriller that I latched onto when I was visiting my folks. Next up (novel wise) is "A Painted House" by John Grisham, which I also pinched from the folks. I tend to like John Grisham novels and my step-father Bill recommended this one very highly.

My mother was in and out of the hospital again, this time with a bleeding ulcer. She is now back at home. After she was released from the hospital they spent a couple of hours in a furniture store looking a new chairs (my sister and I offered to buy them new chairs for Christmas). My mom say's that they tried about twenty different chairs - but still have not decided on what to get. They both have features that they want in a chair and they could not find a chair that met exactly what they wanted so my sister is going to take them up to Pierre, SD in the next couple of weeks to look at another furniture store. (That is the challenge of living in rural America - many of the things we urban dwellers take for granted - i.e. multiple furniture stores - simply are not there.)

There was an amusing exchange - my mother is trying to convince my step-father to get one of the chairs that has the automatic lift - that eases them in and lifts them out of the chair. My step-father refuses, because he's "not that old yet". My mother thinks he is. And immediately after telling me that she told me "but, I am not old enough to need one yet, but Bill is". My mother is actually older than my step-father. I suspect she conveniently forgot that.

I am planning on going out with friends on Sunday morning to see the Keanu Reeve's remake of "The Day The Earth Stood Still". Like me, my friends are huge Sci Fi fans, so whether or not the remake is any good is not particularly relevant. We will see it because it is. Zen Sci-Fi. After that the plan is to go to Hawg's in Campbell for lunch (an excellent sea food restaurant). Saturday is pretty wide open, beyond our routine breakfast at the Hickory Pit, also in Campbell.

I am of half a mind to sort through my CD collection this weekend - I have a new CD bookcase (have had it for a while) and I think the rainy weather might be a perfectly good excuse to spend the day indulging in music. My mood is good tonight, so who knows what sort of things the weekend will hold. I've been meaning to set aside some time to write, but just haven't been able to get to it, and this weekend might turn out to be the perfect time for it.

So, I am slipping into this Friday evening in a good mood, with excellent sushi and miso soup, with the Christmas tree twinkling, with Annie Lennox playing (Bare), and with the heater keeping the apartment nice and warm against the encroaching storm front. And I happened to notice that Charles Bronson "The Mechanic" is on TV a little later tonight...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008



Something caught my eye
Just enough to pull me
Distract me
Draw me away for a moment
A spark that flickered and
Never became a fire
And later, much later
I cannot remember
What caught my eye
But in the vaulted heaven
Of memory
That spark still dazzled

Sent from my iPhone

Inside A Flower Photo Set On Flickr

Last summer I was out for my evening walk. I had walked a three mile course - out from my apartment, down Will Rogers to Saratoga, up Saratoga to Payne, down Payne to San Tomas Expressway and then cut back through toward Starbird Park. As I turned back on Williams Road I turned into the setting sun and along Williams Road there was a row of flowers next to the sidewalk. The sunlight was perfect. They glistened in astounding beauty. I was carrying my Sony DSC9 in my pocket (my usual companion when walking), so I pulled the camera out and took this photo's on the macro settings. I did not Photoshop them at all - just took the images, trimmed them for size and originally posted them on in my AOL photo bucket. Even looking at them today I find them to be dazzling in their brillance. The full set of 8 photos is here on my Flickr photostream.

Here is one of the images, my favorite - I think that particular one has a sort of earthy elegance that I find hypnotic.

Two Musical Artists Discovered

Rae recommended Rachel Yamagata to me - I had never heard of her, but she has some excellent work. Here is a link to one of her songs on YouTube. This is a slow and delicate piece, but her work ranges pretty widely from the delicate to the passionate to the explosive. She's been added to the list of artists to explore.

I was wandering around in Flickr and clicked on a link to this artist - Roisin Murphy. I've listened to several of her songs over on YouTube and I like her. I've added her to my list of artists to explore.

Dawn - Last Saturday

Taken on my morning run, dawn, last Saturday. At this point I am
actually running...with donuts. Hint. It is not a good idea to take
the route on a morning run that goes by the donut shop.

Monday, December 8, 2008

12 Things In A Box

I was reading my friend Sparkle's journal and she references an little exercise that I thought appealed to me. Imagine that you have just met someone new and to introduce yourself you present them with a box that contains 12 items that help the individual know you. I am simply going to dive right in...

-A small bundle of prairie grass.
-A pair of cowboy boots
-A laptop computer
-A camera
-A guitar
-A collection of Ted Hughes poetry
-A copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
-A length of rope
-A picture of my family
-A pen and blank notebook
-A Van Morrison CD
-An Indigo Girls CD

Okay, I fired that off without too much thought, those were the things that popped into my mind. Sometimes I find what flows quickly out of us is best, or at least, perhaps, most revealing.

Today's Observation

Eating a macaroon and playing with your iPhone results in a messy
phone, but in no way deters macaroon eating.

Sent from my iPhone

Every Day...A Whole Lifespan

"Every morning, particularly, can be seen as a rebirth. The day is young, we are full of energy and have a whole day ahead of us. Every moment we get older and are tired enough in the evening to fall asleep and die a small death. All we can do then is toss and turn in bed, and our whole mind is dreamy and foggy. Every day can be regarded as a whole lifespan, since we can only live one day at a time; the past is gone and the future may or may not come; only this rebirth, this day, this moment is important."

-Ayya Khema, "When the Iron Eagle Flies" from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pictures on Flickr

I just opened a Flickr account so I can share more of my photographs. This is a link to the set I just uploaded, taken at Thanksgiving in South Dakota.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Colors

Noticed this splash of Christmas colors while I was out running
errands this afternoon. It seems that nature is putting on her
Christmas dress!

Sometimes The Night Will Call

Sometimes the night will call
Sometimes the darkness fall
Sometimes you take a chance
Sometimes you lose it all...

I was standing in the shower, the second time for the day, after an
idle morning and the verse above popped into my head. I always like
that when it happens. Sometimes inspiration arises almost complete and
almost without warning, Sometimes you can trace back a tenuous thread
- a word, a phrase, an image, a thought. Other times the inspiration
is just there.

The same holds true for the muses that inspire us in this life. Often
you will never know where they came from. You will never know when the
spirit of a muse is going to descend on someone you already know. It
is just astounding and magical and I like the way it works. Maybe that
is why I always wander around in a perpetual state of amazement and

Sent from my iPhone

The Tale of a Scar

I was a child, maybe four, maybe five years old. My brother and I were playing in tag in the living room. I ran behind the rocking chair and he jumped onto the rocking chair. It rocked. It hit me. It knocked me across the room into the livingroom window frame. It laid open my forehead. Years passed and I have gathered my share of scars, including a much longer one that crosses that childhood scar at an angle. When I look in the mirror in the morning and see those two reminders of life, it is the smaller, older scar that makes me smile and think of my brother fondly.

(If you look over to the links on the right hand side you will see a link to a blog called One Minute Writer - this entry was original posted there in the comment section in relation to one of the daily prompts.)

Noon On A Slow Friday

I woke up this morning and I peeked around and then I rolled over and went back to sleep. It just seemed to be the right action in the right moment. Of course, when I woke up an hour later and was groggy from to much sleep, LOL, well, I doubted the wisdom of the original decision.

A lot of things in life are like that I think. They make perfect sense in the moment that we do them and then further downstream when we are dealing with the consequences of those decisions, we wonder at the rightness of them. But, I think that the rightness of a particular decision belongs entirely in the moment and many of the threads of causation are imagination filling in the blanks between events. Our minds can easily connect dots where no lines exist.

It is shortly past noon now and I am slowing falling into the day. I am not sure I am going to do anything of any significance, but I am going to do something - maybe. It might just be a perfect day for doing nothing (as I ignore the dishes in the sink from breakfast). Sometimes ignoring things is an art as well.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Palace of the One Eyed King

It is actually one of the Moffet Towers buildings in the morning fog
today. The fog was very heavy...

In The Land Of The Blind

I was sitting on a meeting today at work and that quote popped into my
mind about "in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king".

The conclusion was ultimately one of those things that truly irritate
me. The decision was made to remove a functionality from the users
because the perception was that it was not being used correctly. There
was no quantative data and no method to validate it's success or
failure in place. The decision was based on anecdotal evidence and
inconvenience. Grrrrrr. LOL - I felt like saying "uh, we're analysts
right? Do you think we should maybe analyze some data?"

"I know what the data says, but I am going with my gut on this one..."

Some times the gut is very right. Some times the gut is very wrong.
The best decisions are those where analytics and instinct line up. The
gnomes deep in the machinery have a very different view of the kingdom
than the one eyed king in his palace...

Sent from my iPhone