Monday, December 21, 2009

Daily Life: A Significant Day

Today is a significant day in my healing path. Last week when I went to the foot doctor he removed the stitches and cleaned the remaining dead skin and debris from around the wound site. It looks...good.

The surgery site is close up, the skin is mostly a soft pink with scar tissue (a nice jagged Y shaped scar). The infection has been cleared out. I kept the site covered and bandaged over the weekend to insure the small suture holes had a chance to heal shut - and today - today I can set aside the post-op boot, unbandage the foot, and put on a sock and shoe - an ordinary sock and shoe! In short, the healing process is well underway.

I will still need to be careful as I walk and still need to take it easy, but I can begin the process of returning to normal mobility. I have an appointment on Wednesday (the 23rd) with the orthotic specialist who is going to take the measures and mold of the foot for the orthotic device that will go into the boot and take the place of the now absent toe.

I think I am going to go out today and walk around (just a little bit) for lunch, carrying my cane and wearing my shoes!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Daily Life: A House Made of Glass

It was the first day in a long time that I have participated over at One Minute Writer. Here was my entry:

I would build a house made of glass, with walls of colored frost, a thousand shades, a thousand lights, a thousand imperfect places where I could dwell.

Daily Life: Slowly Healing

Well, I am slowly moving through the healing process here. The infection is cleared (the last sets of cultures have come back clean and the infectious disease specialist is going to discontinue to antibiotics at the end of this cycle, the middle of next week) and the surgery site is healing nicely. It is still partially stitched, but I have a doctor's appointment with the foot doctor later this afternoon and I suspect more, if not all, of the remaining stitches are going to come out.

I've been passing quiet and reflective days. Days spent reading, listening to music, watching television and movies, thinking, and doing incidental cleaning, sorting through the flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in boxes stored in closets. I am periodically astounded by the things I seem to hold onto because I think they might have some future value. I had opened one box and it was full of old computer parts and cords and accessories. I started to sort them and it dawned on me - they had been in the box for two years at least and I had not had any need for them. They made the short and glorious trip to the dumpster.

Because what I went through (the amputation of the toe) was a pretty significant event, several people have asked me what the lesson was. I haven't really thought to draw any great lesson out of it yet - in part because it was only five plus weeks ago and it still needs perspective to be interpreted and understood. There may very well be some significant life lesson buried in there, so penetrating insight waiting to be revealed, but I haven't rooted around for it yet.

The days pass quietly and gently and that is the way healing days should.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Daily Life: Thirty Two Degrees

Last night I went to sleep early - about 9:00 PM. I slept a solid eight hours and woke up at 5:00 AM. That is the disadvantage of going to sleep too early!

I had a busy day yesterday - I had an appointment with the infection specialist (the latest round of cultures came back clear) and then a holiday luncheon with my team from work at By The Bucket on Steven's Creek.

The luncheon was excellent. It was probably the busiest external day I've had in the last month and I am sure it contributed to my falling asleep early last night (and sleeping so well).

This morning was COLD for San Jose - it was below freezing when I woke up, which is very rare for this part of the country.

Today's plan is simple - do next to nothing and heal. (It is the general plan that I have been on for the last month and will be on for the next month or two. In general, I am healing well and recovering nicely from the surgery.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Poetry: Absolution

She came seeking absolution
For all the crimes she never did
She came seeking restitution
For all the times she ran and hid

She sees the twilight drawing closer
She sees the setting of the sun
She feels the years closing on her
And all she wants to do is run

She made her share of simple choices
Most of which she now regrets
She wants one last chance at glory
Walking on the wire without a net

She longs to hear the bells at midnight
As she dances to the Spanish bands
Watching her lovers body swaying
Waiting to feel him trembling in her hand

On the old brass bed she moves with abandon
Everything she was she left behind
She is lost somewhere inside her passion
Inside the fires of her mind

There are seven stars shining
In the darkness of the night
And the two lives that she lives
Meet in the palaces of light

I have no memory of writing this poem. I was looking for a clipboard today to fill out some insurance related forms and the poem was on the clipboard. It is clearly my handwriting.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Daily Life: Question Number Nine

To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

I find this question rather interesting in light of the long shadow cast by the last month’s events. But, let me tackle it anyway. I would say a very high degree. Somewhere in my teens I recognized the power of choice. Oh, I didn’t fully recognize it – and recognizing it is definitely not the same thing as exercising it, but somewhere at a young age I realized that I had that power. The freedom to choose, the freedom act – good old Free Will. None of this means that things always turned out the way I expected them to. None of this means that I was in any way freed from the constraints of incidents and accidents. It only means that I made choices – and those choices had results on the large scale outcomes of my life to this point.

Outside of the Ninth Question – I am on a healing path right now. I am out of work and currently disabled, slowly healing. The doctors continue to give me a good prognosis for a full recovery. The infection is gone. The x-ray’s look good. The wound itself is healing. This last week the doctor removed about half the stitches. If you visualize the wound as a Y, the only place that remains stitched is the juncture of the Y. I am now allowed to ease weight back onto the foot which is a tremendous relief. Just the ability to set the foot down and balance on it makes all the difference.

Yesterday, I had breakfast with Tony and Tyrone at the Hickory Pit, then later in the day went to see “The Road” over at Pruneyard Camera Cinema with Tony. (The movie was very close in tone and tempo to the book and was “excellent if bleak”.) Today I took the longest walk yet on the foot – I limped about a hundred feet to the mail box and back, moving slowly, moving cautiously. I am currently sitting, watching the end of Kill Bill Volume II, anticipating a phone call with my beloved T.R. shortly. When that wraps up, I am looking forward to watching the first episode of “Alice” on the SyFy channel. In short, another night, slowly healing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Daily Life: Surgery and The Greatest Toe

Well, it has been a while since I have written and truthfully it has been a short and quickly brutal couple of weeks. I am currently laying in the hospital, flat on my back, post surgery.

To make a long story short let me summarize quickly. A persistent infection in the foot lingered for a couple of weeks. After a trip to the ER due to an allergic reaction to Keflex I scheduled an appointment at a wound clinic. That was last Wednesday. I was admitted to the hospital, placed on an around the clock IV of antibiotics, examined, x-rayed and bone-scanned.

The testing revealed the infection was in the bone of the right big toe. Four days of antibiotics and Monday evening into surgery for the amputation of the toe and a portion of the metatarsal bone. The surgery went well. I am back in the hospital room and in good spirits, with a very good prognosis for recovery according to the doctors.

I am going to be laid up for a period of time (six weeks is a good ball park according to the doctor) while the foot heals. Right now I am completely off the foot (no weight at all until the healing has progressed). They will start PT and crutch training in a few days.

It's been a roller coaster ride but the worst of it is behind me (the rampant infection and the surgery). From here on out it is rest and heal, with naps.

On an amusing note, I was surprised to learn that the actual name of the big toe is "the great toe". I knew it was big - I just never realized it was great! My humor and sense of life are intact and I'll keep both as I move down the healing path.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Question Number Eight

Today was a quiet day at the office. I struggled to get out of second gear all day and I don’t think I ever made it. Fortunately it was a day that I could handle in second gear, so it was all good. I spent most of the day doing some application testing, corporate training, and working my way through my backlogged email. T.R. is on travel, so we had a great call about mid-day and then she was back to work. I am looking forward to talking to her tonight. I had dinner with Tony at Holder’s and then came home, where I am catching up on my television (watching Bones).

Let me drop straight into Question Number Eight:

If the average human life was 40 years how would you live your life differently?

Well, first off, being forty nine I would be dead, so the question becomes a moot point. I’ve never been much of a person to dwell on the many different choices that I could have made through my life. We then layer on top of that my faith in an immortal soul. The end result is I wouldn’t have done anything differently. We have all of eternity to do everything. We’ve done many things before. We will do many things to come. Then, if the quantum theory of multiple universes is correct, we ARE doing everything else, now, simultaneously, somewhere in the wilderness of space and time. That is kind of a cool thought.

I don’t have anything planned for the weekend. I have things that I would like to do – I am feeling a desire to head over to the coast and get lunch or perhaps wander for a while, maybe hit a museum somewhere. There are a lot of little things that I would like to do around the apartment to prepare for the fall, so I may tackle some of them. I am looking forward to a quiet and gentle fall, with ample time to spend reading and writing and reflecting. We will see if I can make that particular wish come true.

Oh, that reminds me – let me tell you about a very vivid dream I had last night. I dreamt that I was a District Attorney and that I had been responsible for a highlight profile prosecution of three sisters who had committed a particularly high profile murder. It was a tough prosecution but I was successful. One of the attorneys who worked for me came upon some potentially exculpatory evidence and turned it over to me. A short while later, another of the attorney’s went on an anti-religious rant, harassing various people in the office for their religious affiliations.

I attempted to iscipline the attorney and it became very confrontational, so I started the process of suspension and termination. Then, the first attorney joined with the second attorney and they attempted to blackmail me into dropping the disciplinary action because the first attorney believed I had buried the evidence earlier. They thought they had me. But, as the investigation began to unfold the learned that immediately after the exculpatory evidence was given to me, I had contacted the Office of Professional Responsibility and turned the evidence over to an independent investigator. I swiftly termed both lawyers who had engaged in misconduct and attempted to blackmail me. The independent investigation into the exculpatory evidence turned up a witness – a witness who, rather than providing evidence to free the three sisters – provided the evidence that bolstered my original case.

I awoke glad that I was an ethical District Attorney. It was a strange dream, I am not sure I have ever had a lawyer dream before. I am sure the dream had its roots in a conversation TR and I had about honesty as well as recent Mercury News stories about investigations into the conduct of the local D.A.’s office. It all layered together and moved through my subconscious. It was a very cool and very vivid dream.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Question Number Seven

This week has pretty much flown by. Work is what I like to refer to as incidentally busy. As a corporation we’re starting the run toward the end of the year, which means there are a lot of incidental little things that need to be taken care of, not the least of which is the performance review cycle. As a manager, in addition to my own self-evaluation I have to write evaluations for all my employees. That is often a challenge and the company’s performance review mechanism is something I struggle with. I don’t like it. I don’t think there is enough variance in it to effectively and formally review the performance of employees. It is an argument that I will never win of course, but it is one that I have had on many occasions. That segues neatly into the question of the day.

Are you doing what you believe in or are you settling for what you are doing?

I often refer to the last fourteen years of my professional life as my accidental career. I was working as a contractor while in graduate school with the intention of pursuing a PhD in Criminology and further intentions of teaching – then I was assigned to The Evil Corporation on a short term contract and fourteen years later, here I am, deep in the middle of an accidental career, having temporarily set aside aspirations to higher education.

So, to a degree, there was a settling – however, in my case, it was a settling into something that I love to do (solve problems, resolve difficult issues, manage personal, do the impossible, the usual). I love what I do and that is not something I have been able to say in other jobs and careers I’ve had. Even my bad days are often good – and for me the bad days always involve people and clashing against the bureaucratic tendency to be, well, bureaucratic. Don’t get me wrong – I believe in rules, I understand the purpose of defined and disciplined process – as long as they serve an actual purpose. So, for me at least, the answer to the question is I am doing what I believe in, almost entirely by accident.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I call this "Lake Lawrence Expressway". Traffic was a bit of a snarl last night, with drowned cars, fallen trees and flooded exits. It was also a wonderfully wild and beautiful storm.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Daily Life: First Rain Storm

Today is the first real rain storm of the season here in San Jose. I enjoyed waking up this morning and lingering in bed listening to the rain fall. What a wonderfully simple pleasure. From there I was off to work in the first rainy commute day. It wasn't bad on the route I took, up Lawrence Expressway, but the radio was full of reports of closures and crashes. The work day is moving smoothly and productively. So far so good - I'm looking forward to a quiet evening at home.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Question Number Six

I think this is the first time I have really sat down to write in the last couple of weeks, which is unusual for me. Things were simply moving very quickly there for a while so I didn’t have the opportunity, but it looks like things are going to settle back in for the fall and I am looking forward to it. Fall is my favorite time of year – I love the warm days and cool nights. Here in California, once the rain starts back up, I will enjoy those quiet days inside, writing, reading, watching movies.

Question Number Six: If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

This is a tough one for me. I am basically a very happy person. I enjoy life and perhaps more importantly, I enjoy this life, the one I am living. I’ve carefully crafted it with a life time of decisions and a fair share of being able to exploit those opportunities that arise through chance. Chance always presents you with opportunities – chance presents moments when change is highly probable. What you do in those moments of chance is entirely up to you. I always encourage people to make conscious choices, make deliberate choices, make informed choices.

So, I think, at least from where I am sitting now, in this point in time, I would choose to do exactly what I do (manage information system projects). I love the challenge and complexities of my job. I enjoy the company of my team – the folks who work for me, the folks who work with me and the folks I work for. Heck, I even enjoy about ninety-nine percent of my customers.

Today’s point of joy was getting a call from one of my customers (the staffing manager of a business unit) who had a process/system question. They had implemented a new process and were having trouble matching the systems to that process. I carefully drew out her question and then forwarded it to my team for suggestions. Within an hour one of my team members had come back with a way to use the system so it matched their desired process change with a little creativity. I enjoyed it immensely and the excitement of the customer was contagious. So, in that way, my work makes me a very, very rich man.

Photography: Anonymous Room

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Poetry: Refuse

Refuse to follow custom
Refuse to obey
Refuse to follow rules
Refuse to comply
Refuse to wait your turn
Refuse to surrender
Refuse to let go
Refuse to listen
Refuse to be less
Than you
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Daily Life: First Day Back

First day back at work following a weeks plus days of vacation spent in wonderful South Dakota.

Somewhere along the way I seem to have lost the power cable to my laptop and my back up drive. When I got to South Dakota I thought I had left them here, but I've given the apartment a pretty thorough sweep and there is no sign of them. So, I suspect they got pinched as both were in my checked bag.

I could see swiping the back up drive, thinking perhaps there was something worth stealing on it, but swiping the power cord would have been pretty pointless, and there were other things more valuable in the suitcase.

We'll chalk it up to the strangeness of the universe. I won't file a theft report because I am not even sure they were in the bag. The power transformer was, but when I got to SD the cord was not - and I can't positively recall what I did with the backup drive.

It was encrypted and there was nothing of any value on it anyway. It is one of those small ones about the size of a deck of cards, so it might yet turn up, underneath or inside something. There is an outside chance it fell out of my bag in SD, I'll call and ask them to check under the bed in the spare room. (I am pretty sure I checked there for the cord, but who knows).

Other than that, not a bad first day back (and even the doesn't make it a bad day, all in all it was pretty good). I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Daily Life: Whose Story?

Life needs a certain narrative structure. We are at our best when we are telling a story with our lives. Often we find ourselves in a series of loosely intertwined vignettes that lack the essential elements of plot. In those times of life we are adrift. So pause for a moment and ask yourself - what story are you living? Perhaps more importantly - whose story are you living?
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Question Number Five

I am kicked back on a lazy Saturday afternoon having spent most of the morning and early afternoon running assorted errands. I’m watch a classic movie – “Captain Ron”. We were expecting a heat wave to start today but it looks like the Weather Channel has adjusted their forecast and pulled it down by about ten degrees, which means it will hot, but bearable. T.R. and I were talking about Captain Ron yesterday and that put me in the mood to watch it, so I have it fired up on the DVD. I may slip out and catch something in the theatre a little later in the day, but I haven’t made that decision yet.

So, here is Question Number Five:

What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

Well, I certainly don’t kid myself into thinking I am wise enough to re-order the world according to my wishes. I am sure the law of unintended consequences would rise up and take a big old bite out of my butt if I tried that. With that caveat, let me answer the question.

I am torn between an increase in compassion and an increase in communication. I think an increase in honest communication would be a major step in the right direction to resolving a lot of the intractable problems we seem to have in the world. If we could truly speak what is in our hearts, unafraid of miscommunication and manipulation.

In general, as humans, we communicate by telling stories. It is one of the methods in which we come to understand the world that we inhabit. We tell stories and depending on how effective we are at story telling we set the context, we exchange information and emotion, and we come to a better understanding of each other. If we are not particularly good at telling those stories (and there are many reasons why we are not) we often simply fail to understand each other. Much of the difficulties in life arise from the fundamental failure.

So, if there is one thing I could change it would be a change to make us all better story-tellers.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Question Number Four

When it's all said and done, will you have said more than you've done.

Oh, at least as I see it, I have definitely done far more than I have said at this point in my life and I assume that trend will continue. I've told a lot of stories about the things I have done in my life, but I would guess I have probably covered 1/10th of them in all the years I've been writing and talking. Often times I simply don't share things for a variety of reasons, so I don't talk about them.

For your amusement here is a summary of list of why I don't talk about things.

First, my formative work experiences were as a cop - during that time frame I learned to simply not talk about my life at work, it wasn't relevant for the most part and you really didn't want to share with your fellow cops the really stupid, amusing, illegal or unethical things you were doing. I also did not share all of the things I did at work in my personal life because they were either irrelevant (how many drunk wrestling stories do people want to hear?), confidential (as in ongoing criminal investigations or prosecutions), and horrific (the gruesome and heartbreaking details of some of things I saw and did).

From there, my formative work experiences have always involved a great deal of confidentiality, either in the terms of cleared work (I'm sorry, I could tell you about that but then I would have to kill you), or personnel confidentiality (no, I really should not tell you about the worker I fired because they were wandering around the office drunk and naked over the weekend), or business confidential.

Outside of the work, I grew up in a big family in a small town where everyone knew everyone else's business and it always kind of irritated me, so I learned to just simply not participate.

Then, there is a huge amount of power and wisdom available in a simple act - when you are in a crowd, listen, listen, listen, and keep listening. People tell the most astounding stories - if you are just paying attention. So, when I am in social groups I tend to just listen - a lot.

So, when it comes to the end of the line, I suspect I will have continued to do far more than I have ever said even with blogging and participating in online social media and being a pretty voracious e-mail author.

Photography: Rod in Hot Tub

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Question Number Three

I had decided to call today the first official day of fall in this part of California. We had an unseasonably early rain storm last night and so when I awoke this morning it felt like fall. That feeling lingered through the day. Work was productive but both low energy and low key. The evening was nice, a hearty baked potato soup and a sandwich, then a lazy evening playing on the computer and listening to music, followed by good conversation with T.R. Let me dive right into Question Number Three:

If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

Personally speaking, I don’t do many things I don’t like. It was a long journey to get the point where I can say that and it is a journey that I am still on. In the early nineties I was totally burnt out on many things and fortune conspired to give me an opportunity to take a rambling road trip of multiple destinations and multiple months and in that trip to contemplate, well, pretty much everything. Out of that trip came three simple decisions that have been guideposts for the rest of my life. One of those decisions was this – I would never again do anything I didn’t want to do. I’ve abided by that to a great extent. The few times I have not, I have regretted it.

Now, the second part of the question is a little tougher. For me the answer is this – there are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a week, so many weeks in a month and so many months in a year. The spirit may be willing and unlimited, but the world is limited, limited in resources, limited in time. As Ovid said – “Tempus Edax Rerum” – time devours all things. The limitations I feel are largely structural and mechanical limitations. For example, I may want to go to Las Vegas – but it takes a certain amount of time and consumes a certain amount of resources to do so, so I lay that up against my other choices, which are often equal in value to me, and I choose to do those things that bring me more happiness within the constraints of my resources.

Also, I will take a moment to disagree with the entire premise of this question – that life is short. As a matter of faith I believe that we are each possessed with an immortal soul that passes through this incredible journey for eternity. We have all the time in the universe. The experience of life is specific and local, but that life occurs within the framework of the quantum universe where all manner of strange and mysterious things can and do occur. I may not make it to Las Vegas because of the specific and local objects and events. But, in the big scope of things, that really doesn’t matter – I am sure that I will go out and have an equally wondrous time. The mystery and the wonder of the universe are everywhere. Everywhere.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Question Number Two

Let me write a bit about the day before I slip into the question. I am sitting in the living room watching the VMA awards on MTV and the heavy sound of a California Rain is filling the air. I am not sure how long the rain is going to last, but I love the sound of it. It was mostly a lazy and easy day. I had lunch with Tom at L & L Hawaiian BBQ in Campbell, then drifted a bit doing some incidental shopping. I followed that with a quiet afternoon at home and a quick bite of dinner. I had an egg white scramble with sliced tomato over at Holder’s. It was good and I was sincerely tempted by the chocolate cake in the display case, but that would have defeated the purpose of the egg white omelet. A quiet evening at home, some time online, a conversation with my dear T.R., then a second wind when the rain started to fall, so I thought I would write for a spell.

Question Number Two: Which Is Worse, Failing Or Never Trying?

Oh no question there at all for me. Never trying is far worse. Kipling, in his iconic poem “If” says:

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same…”

That pretty much sums it up for my point of view as well. Failure and success are two sides of the same coin and the coin is “trying”. Be engaged. Take risks. Succeed. Fail. Know the twin imposters and know their value. But always try. Always give it your best effort, whatever that effort might be. I have failed in the past and I have succeeded in the past and both of them, well, they simply are what they are. I am sure that in the future I will fail again – and again – and again. Hopefully, each time, I will simply get up and try again.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Question Number One

I came across a link the other day that was to a web site that listed “50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind”. I have no idea if they actually will free your mind, but I thought that I would work my way through the entire list as a set of writing prompts. This is Question Number One:

1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

I am forty-nine years old. If I did not know how old I was I would suspect I was in my late thirties or early forties. I had a wealth of experience – thirty one years since I was eighteen – and I feel that wealth of experience. I feel it in the sense that I have perspective on things. I feel it in the sense that I know the value of things (their true value in the greater cosmological and philosophical sense). I think that, without knowing my age, I would still have the sense of my age.

I had an experience late last year that was revelatory. I was talking with a friend of mine and we were discussing retirement. At the time, I had roughly twenty years until retirement (nineteen now, if I retire at my approved social security age). I sat there and thought about the journey of the last twenty years and I was rocked back on my heels thinking that I had – twenty more years ahead of me. I thought about all of the physical journeys I had taken, all of the psychological journeys, all of the emotional journeys, and I thought that I get to do all of that over again. It will be different events, different incidents and accidents, but it will be in substance another twenty year journey. That is pretty awe inspiring I think. At least it awoke in me a sense of awe.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sharing: Henry Miller Quote

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." -Henry Miller

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Poetry: Lost Minutes

There is a place off 11th Street
Downtown a little cul-de-sac without
A proper name and without a proper name well
It's not really there unless you
Take the time to look for it and time
Curls up there all those minutes where
We are paused awaiting other minutes
Waiting for the bus, waiting for the
Light to turn green, waiting for the
Waitress to bring us our pancakes, waiting
For the bored barrista to wrestle the steamer
Into submission, waiting for the dentist to find us, waiting
For the cop to turn off behind us, waiting
Well all those minutes waiting
They curl up there, in that cul-de-sac
off 11th street, downtown minutes
I swing by every now and then, gather
Them up, slip them into my pocket, program
Them into my Blackberry, stash
A few in the glove box of the old
Cadillac, hide some under the sofa cushions, they
Come in handy, all those lost minutes, though
I confess I mostly spend them to slow
The tamaleros down, so I can skip
Cooking and cleaning and instead, sit
On the porch with my fresh tamales and Jarrito's manadarin orange, those
Lost minutes seem to enjoy that, almost
As much as I do

Poetry: The Barest Recital

It is the barest recital of incidents
Little more that a list of events
Interwoven with a description of accidents
It is the narrative of a life writ small
Take the grandest sweep of passion
Take the profoundest kiss of the mysterious
Take the dazzling omniscient perspective
Reduce it down to a simple formula
One short line for each item of significance
It is the barest recital of incidents
But in the white spaces between the lines
It is a minimalist tapestry of power and glory

Poetry: Midnight Metronome

She would sit at the table her brow furrowed three fingers
Sliding back and forth the metronomic caress of intellect
In the silence of the late evening I could hear the rasp of her
Fingerprints on her forehead a soft wisp-wisp-wisp
I imagined she was massaging law school into her skin
I would make myself as small as I could drawing
On a piece of white paper with a blue graphite pencil
The skritch-skritch-skritch of the pencil counter-tempo with
That soft wisp-wisp-wisp of her fingerprints slowly wearing off
Some nights to amuse myself I would riff off her intellectual absorption
Filling the silence with wisp-skritch-skritch-wisp-skritch-wisp-skritch-skritch
I was never able to successfully reconcile the wisp and the skritch as
Law school split her in half one half the fierce intellect the other
Half that willowy brown-skinned woman who slept naked on her
Waterbed with the heat turned to a low boil even in August so that
Her skin burned when I touched it and so her fingerprints melted off
And she became someone I loved but simply did not know
In sweet irony I sometimes catch myself softly rubbing
Counter-tempo on the midnight metronome wisp-wisp-wisp

Poetry: Haiku - Crows

Harsh and brilliant sun
Burning through morning fog
Crows wearing sunglasses
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Photos: Five From The Weekend

I just updated my Flickr with a set of five incidental photos from the weekend. I have more to come, but these are the ones I uploaded tonight. Enjoy!

Daily Life: Summers End Approaching

Well, I had an excellent Labor Day weekend. The weather was beautiful and I spent the weekend focusing on being in the moment as best I could. All in all it was a pretty successful effort.

Saturday I went up to the Highland Games in Pleasanton, CA. I love that festival. It is definitely one of my favorites. In a quick summary:

I had breakfast. I listened to Isla St. Claire. I went to the opening ceremonies (the USMC Band and the 1st Scots Regiment band). I listened to the Browne Sisters and George Cavanaugh. I listened to Wicked Tinkers. I listened to 1916. I listened to Tempest. I snacked. I wandered. I snacked some more. I saw the Birds of Prey exhibit. I looked at all the beautiful Morgans. I watched the sheep dog trials. I stared at the Highland cows. (Cute little buggers). I took a lot of photographs. I visited with Pierre and Helen and Tony.

Sunday, I slept in until seven AM! That is late for me, being an early riser. I had a cup of coffee. I twittered. I googled. I went to the San Jose Tapestry Arts festival. I had lunch at The Loft downtown. I wandered home. I read. I watched TV. I had a great conversion with my beloved T.R.

Monday was a hugely lazy day. I ran a few incidental errands. I had dinner with Tony. Other than that, I spent most of the day just reading, listening to music (I was on an opera kick Monday), and napping. I am getting quite good at napping. It is a skill.

Today at work was relatively quiet (I kind of expected that with it being a short week). I weaved through the day, stopped for sushi on the way home. For there, I had some Sheer Bliss Dark Chocolate Ice Cream and watched "Warehouse 13" and "Ghosthunters" on the DVR. (Ghosthunters is running as I type this.)

Life is at it's best when it is simple, uncomplicated, and enjoyable. Those three words would describe the weekend in a nutshell. I am working a short week this week, all of three days - I had Monday off (Labor Day) and I have Friday off (regular 9/80 off). T.R. is traveling, so we are going to weave our way in and out of talking as the week unfolds, but I am confident we'll be able to find the time.

All told, it has been a great couple of days and I am looking forward to the last few weeks of summer. It has been a great, externally focused, summer.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Poetry: Chain Haiku - The River

Little White River
is slicing through Grass Mountain
tumbling and sandy

As a child we swam
in those warm shallow waters
beneath cottonwoods

All of my cousins
in our gym trunks and blue jeans
like slick brown otters

Lanky teenagers
we played at life and love
next to the river

Years later a cop
would park on the bridge above
mourning for strangers

Memories tumble
in that whispering river
that graced my youth

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Daily Life: Killing Bugs

Overheard today in the office:

"There is a little bug that keeps bothering me. When I try to kill it, it disappears."


"Well. If you tried to kill me I'd disappear too."
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Poetry: Crickets Dream

One thing I learned
crickets dream in delta jazz
dark bars late at night

Daily Life: The Men Who Stare At Goats

It is a beautiful morning here, with breakfast accomplished, laundry laundering and a tall cup of coffee near by.

My nephew Tom recommended a movie to me the other day so I went on line to check out the trailer. The movie is "The Men Who Stare At Goats" staring George Clooney, about US Army psychics in the Iraq war. The trailer looks hilarious!

I am not sure what I am going to do today, but I am sure I am going to enjoy it - and that is a good space to be in
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Daily Life: Two Hot Days

Well, we stacked a pair of hot days back to back. Yesterday caught me a little off guard and cooked me to the point of being medium to well done. Today hit the ninety degree mark at 11:00 AM, so I had the common sense to stay in and stay cool, with the exception of dinner. There is supposed to be a break in the heat tomorrow, but we'll see.

I'm reading a brilliant book recommended by T.R. - "A Literate Passion", a collection of love letters exchanged between Henry Miller and Anais Nin. I just started it today and I am already dog-earring it and underlining some of the passages. I love it already.

Tomorrow should be a low and slow day and I'm looking forward to it. Depending on how the weather goes I may get out and wander about, but other than a load or two of laundry, I haved got anything planned. Tonight I have the windows wide open, the fans blowing, and I am going to curl up and continue reading "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" by Steig Larsson.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daily Life: Back in Blackberry

Ahhhh, it is so nice to be back to the Blackberry. The iPhone had its charms, but it also had its frustrations. For my usage patterns the crackberry is simply a far more functional device.

I sincerely missed the wonderful querty keyboard and the joys of thumb-typing. I am amazed at how quickly it has come back to me. Now, there are still plenty of things to relearn with the crackberry, but I am sure they are going to quickly come back to me.

I won't slam the iPhone too hard here, for what it was, it was nice. Perhaps for someone with different use patterns than me it is fine. But I sincerely missed the querty keyboard and I missed the overall better experience of the Blackberry. Just let me say "it's good to be home".
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Poetry: Cormorants

Cormorants nesting
Encircling weave of cat-tails
Kingdom of feather

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: Kings and Queens

Well, that was relatively irritating. I typed and sent an entry from
my iPhone and it seized up. I am about to abandon the iPhone. For my
usage it simply is not a stable platform. It is very buggy.

I finished reading "The Dogs of God" last night. It was a pretty good
book, though, in the end I think the author took some liberties to
support their theme, but not significantly.

I followed it up with a dream that I was developing a blog for
Ferdinand and Isabella and in the dream I was worried that the result
was "to catholic". The dream blog looked good though.

The day is moving relatively smoothly after a gray and cloudy start.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Daily Life: Luxurious Crickets

I have had a phrase spinning around in my brain since the weekend when I woke up with it in my mind. I want to write something about it, but my brain has yet to settle on what to write. The phrase is "luxurious crickets". There is a story or a poem in there percolating around that phrase.

I spent most of the day today in meetings, including a two hour virtual training session to get certified on a software upgrade to a product I don't actually use, so you can imagine how tough it was to stay alert. Fortunately, I had a copy of Frank O'Hara's "Meditations in an Emergency" with me, so it helped to pass the time. He is an astounding poet. If you are not familiar with him, then I would definitely encourage you to find a copy of some of his work and indulge yourself in the art of a master wordsmith.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Daily Life: The End of the Day


It is nice to reach the end of a great day. Work was smooth and
productive. The evening was warm fading quickly to cool. Dinner was
pepperjack cheese stuffed chicken breasts with roasted red potatoes
and baby carrots, followed by a dessert of Sheer Bliss Bon Bons. A
quiet evening at home listening to Goldfrapp, a bit of Twitter,
conversation with T.R. and now I am going to curl up and read some of
"The Dogs of God". I have left over pepperjack cheese and two
potatoes, so tomorrow I see a scramble of eggs, potatoes and cheese on
the breakfast menu. I sometimes think that the true joy of life is in
the simple things. Food, friends, music and books. Well, in this case
a book on the Kindle, but it's the words that are written that matter.

Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Poetry: Haiku - Gyre Falcons

Night has descended
there is a fierce tenderness
gyre falcons nesting

Daily Life: Just Sunday

It's been a good Sunday all in all. A nice relaxed morning, breakfast
of scrambled eggs, diced chiles and Mexican cheese, with buttery
cinnamon toast, black coffee and orange juice.

From there, wandering at the Palo Alto Art & Wine festival, then
lunch, a stop at the grocery store for canned goods, home to start the
AC and then back out to do the laundry. The laundry is in the dryer
right now, to be done in a little over thirty minutes. So, a little
time writing this, a little time reading on the Kindle, a little time
hanging and folding and I should be home shortly after five for a day
well spent and a restful evening. I think a hot bath and some tv time
are in order.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daily Life: Sunset on Fire

Well, it is the end of a very nice day. As I was turning the AC off tonight and opening the windows for the evening this is the sight that greeted me. A spectacular sunset (courtesy of the fires in California).

Daily Life: Mostly Errands

Breakfast at Hickory Pit with Tyrone, a stop at Fry's, then the bank
(cash), Target (a new power strip, Gain, and iced tea), then Safeway
(stuff for chicken breasts stuffed with spinach and pepperjack cheese,
with red potatoes and corn), then home. Considered going to see
"Inglorius Basterds", but the timing was wrong. Opted for a bit of
Twitter with T.R. and then curled up to read a few chapters in "The
Dogs of God" and nap.

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: Luxurious Crickets

It is a beautiful morning here. The sun is yet to breach the horizon,
so the morning has a soft grayness to it. It is about sixty four
outside, welcome relief from last nights unexpected heat.

I woke this morning with a phrase in my head. That phrase was
"luxurious crickets". I have no idea what it means, or how it got
there, but I like it.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, August 21, 2009

Daily Life: Unexpectedly Hot

Friday ended unexpectedly hot. The temperature was chasing 88 by the
time I got home, so I fired up the AC in the apartment and then popped
back out for dinner. I met Tony down at Holder's and had one of
favorites - breakfast-for-dinner, in this case Swedish pancakes, eggs
and hash browns. Then, home for a quiet evening, time with T.R., and
an episode of Numbers. I was tempted to watch "The Secret History of
the Bra" but I thought there were some things that, as a guy best
remained a mystery. Now, I am going to curl up, read a few chapters of
"The Dogs of God" and drift off to sleep. I am looking forward to the
weekend. I feel energetic. I feel like doing "stuff". We will see if
the feeling holds through to tomorrow.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Daily Life: A Dark, Cool Morning

When I woke this morning it was very dark, very cool and very still. I
lay there for a long while just being inside that dark, cool, still
moment. It felt like the entire world was paused, waiting to start and
that any sudden movement would break the sanctity of that moment.
Eventually I did move. Eventually I started the day and moved through
it, from there to here. But I never moved until that moment was done.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Poetry: Soft Witness

Cold sliver of moonlight
Scattered spray of starlight
Soft witness of dream sleep

Sent from my iPhone

Sharing: Sleeping with Frank O'Hara

I've been reading "Meditations in an Emergency" by the poet Frank
O'Hara (thank you T.R.). If you are unfamiliar with his work I highly
recommend him. He was a brilliant writer and a keen observer of the
human condition. Last night I read a few pieces and then fell asleep.
I woke up in the morning, sleeping with Frank O'Hara. Some how I think
he would have gotten a kick out of that.

"Curiousity, the passionate hand of desire. Dead, or sleeping? Is
there speed enough? And swooping you relinquish all that you have made
your own, the kingdom of your self sailing, for you must awake and
breathe your warmth in this beloved image whether it's dead or merely
disappearing, as space is disappearing and your singularity."
-Sleeping on the Wing
-Frank O'Hara
-Meditations on an Emergency

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Poetry: I Dream in Color

I dream in color
Sometimes vivid
A woman in a
Yellow sun dress
Against a French blue sea
Drinking cocktails
From an emerald
Green glass
Sometimes subtle
That golden tint
Of a buttercup
Smeared along
Translucent skin
Against the softest green
Of moonlit grass

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: Morning with a Margin of Error

Somewhere in the middle of the night I woke up and closed the bedroom window, drawing the heavy curtains, plunging the room into a deeper shade of darkness then tumbling back into sleep. I woke again shortly after six AM, buried in the comfortable warmth of my Egyptian cotton blanket, reluctant to open that cocoon to the morning chill. I drew a deep breath and rolled out. Barefoot I padded across the floor into the hot embrace of a morning shower and then, wrapped in a towel, I stood before the mirror and shaved.

I dressed simply, black jeans, a blue button down shirt with white pinstripes, and my gray sport coat. I gathered the incidental things of the working day. Belt, wallet, watch, key-ring, cell phone, employee ID all find their proper places. I skip my morning cup of coffee at home, knowing I have a meeting first thing in the morning and there will be plenty of coffee. Then, out of pure habit, I stop at the coffee shop on the way into office for a peach Danish and a cup of black coffee. The usually quiet shop is full, packed with workers from the construction site across the street, rebuilding the Chinese restaurant and bar that burned down late last year.

I stop in the parking lot to admire the morning. It is crisp and cool, sixty degrees and the morning sky is very gray, with a heavy August fog. The Weather Channel says the morning fog will burn off and we will climb into the low eighties. I savor the morning and savor the coffee and pause to text T.R., who is traveling today. Then, I climb back into the Saturn and slip onto Lawrence Expressway for the drive into the office. I listen to the news on NPR, the ongoing health care reform debate. I wonder at the inability of people to actually sit down and talk to each other instead of at each other.

My office reflects the morning coldness as well, so I settle in, put on the headset, and start the morning meetings. I multi-task through the first meeting since it is mostly a "listen to what we have to say" meeting and my role is as an information resource and not an active participant. I am there to answer any questions that might arise within my area of expertise. No questions arise. One meeting under the belt, I hang up the phone.

From there, I work my way quickly through my morning e-mail queue, reading, sorting, deleting, and responding. I drop three items into the "action required" folder. One request for information, two requests for trouble-shooting assistance. I realize it is probably time to bring a sweater or two into the office and put them into the file cabinet with the change of clothes I always keep there. The bottom drawer of my file cabinet contains two changes of clothes. There is a set of casual clothes and a suit. There is a small shaving kit with the basic toiletries. All are tucked into a small soft-sided athletic bag. It is basically a traveling kit and it allows me to travel with almost no notice and it gives me a margin of error in the office.

I will tell you a quick and true story of that margin of error. It is another morning, in another place. I am wearing a suit, waiting for a meeting to start. I pour myself a cup of coffee. I walk over to the window and stand at the window, looking out over Moffett Field, watching the planes taxi along the runway. I feel sometime wet on my chest. I glance down. My tie is dangling straight into my coffee cup and drawing the coffee up across my white broadcloth shirt. That is a margin of error.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Daily Life: Thoughts on Writing

I haven't been writing as much lately. It has been a result of two distinct but inter-related choices this year.

The first was the choice to not multitask. Previously, a routine evening at home involved firing up the computer and then puttering my way through the evening, writing, chatting, reading the computer as I also watched television (either a regular program or a movie). When I have caught myself doing that this year I have deliberately stopped and asked the question "which do you want to do"? I've usually decided to watch the program on television. I haven't really watched any more television that I usually do, but I have "watched" the television or movie while I was doing it.

The other was the choice to focus "externally" this year more than normal. Quite often this year I've made the choice to go "out". Now, out may simply be as far as the patio or the courtyard, but more often than not it has involved wandering on weekends, both near and far. I've enjoyed it immensely. (It has also resulted in two foot injuries - the stress fracture earlier this spring and now I have a cracked callous on the my right foot, most likely caused by over-compensating for the stress fracture.)

There is also a third factor that comes into play. I am, this year, this summer, content. Content in a lot of ways. Contentment in turn means I don't feel the powerful compulsion to write. Oh, I am still compelled to write, it is just not as powerful a compulsion. What I have done this year is take a lot of notes, fragments, episodic incidents and articulate accidents and compiled them in a series of notebooks, both real and electronic, with things to write about. I am sure as the fall closes in and the weather starts to tighten with the approach of La Nina I will find myself with long sweet days to spend writing.

I am looking forward to that.

Daily Life: The Grace of Future Days

I woke this morning with a prayer on the edge of my consciousness as I
came up out of sleep into the cool predawn hour.

"Dear God, thank you for the grace of future days."

A good prayer for a Monday morning.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Daily Life: Nothing Lingers Undone

The white noise hum of the fan draws a cool breeze through the
apartment, relief from the heat of the day. A single light fills the
living room with a soft glow. The taste of vanilla ice cream lingers
on my tongue. My skin feels slightly flushed from the sun. The memory
of the sunset, a canvas of red, orange and gold lingers in the eye of
my imagination. Nothing lingers undone in my mind, the weekend draws
to a smooth close. A soft bed, crisp sheets, and a good novel await.
My heart echoes the words she whispered in my ear, her voice slightly
husky from sleepiness. I love that tone, that timbre. Good night. In
every sense of the word.

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: The Art of Robust Napping

Today I worked on perfecting the art of robust napping. I am sure I haven't quite successfully perfected it as I anticipate many a future day of practicing, but today was a day of dedicated practice. I think I took four distinct naps today - mid-morning, mid-day, mid-afternoon and mid-evening. I feel like a Hobbit of Napping.

It has been a good and relaxing weekend. The only things of note I did this weekend that pop into my mind in my post-nap state were a pair of movies I saw. On Friday I saw "District Nine", an independent low budget science fiction film about aliens in South Africa. On Sunday I saw "The Perfect Getaway", a thriller about couples hiking on Kaui, where one of the couples is a pair of killers. Both of them were good genre films. No academy awards in their future, but solid and well made in both cases.

My plan tonight is a long lingering bath and then watching a little television and close the weekend out very deeply in relaxation, so I can lunge into Monday. Well, okay, I probably won't lunge into Monday, but there will be a spring in my step when I get out of bed tomorrow morning. I am relatively sure of that.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Daily Life: A Smooth and Fast Thursday

Last night, after I got off work, I picked up my nephew Tom and met my friends Pierre and Helen at Kazoo Sushi, on Winchester, in San Jose for dinner. As usual, the sushi was excellent, and I knocked off five assorted varieties. My favorite was seared salmon, with mango, and a tiny dollop of tartar sauce. I washed it all down with miso soup and then chased it with a little tray of vanilla cream bon-bon's. It was an excellent dinner. We laughed, joked, and enjoyed a good conversation around the array of tasty treats.

From there, I dropped Tom off and then drifted home. Had a great phone call with T.R., then watched "Prime Time: The Outsiders" about two different men who were bonding with or rehabilitating lions in Africa. Let me say for the record, they were both crazy. I have a general rule - avoid animals that can eat you. I think it is a good rule. T.R. has Rule #1. If you see a wild animal outside - stay inside. That rule would also apply. However, it was a great show with some astounding footage. While I was watching the program I snacked on some strawberry ice cream. Once it was over I crawled into bed and red - oh, about ten pages in Michael Moorcock's "Stealer of Souls", a collection of his early short fiction, including several Elric stories. I am about two thirds of the way through the collection - most of the stories I had read before, so it is more a visit with an old and comfortable friend.

I fell pretty quickly to sleep, I dreamt without remembering what the dreams were, and then woke at dawn. It was a cool morning with a vivid golden sunrise glistening in the green tree outside my bedroom window. The start of the day was crisp and clean and the morning has been a cascade of meeting after meeting. I have thirty minutes for lunch, so I am going to do a quick walk down the street for a fast soup or salad, and then back to the office for two more meetings, the into what will, hopefully, be a quiet and productive afternoon. From there, it is into the three day weekend.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Poetry: I Woke This Morning

I woke this morning
to the rich scent of nature
plants, living, dying

Sent from my iPhone

Poetry: The Songs of Other Days

The sun tumbles to the sea
The fire rises into the night
We gather together once again
We sing the songs of other days
The tales that we remember
The lessons that we learned
We weave the images in smoke
We craft the tapestry of dreams
The cry of lover's lost and found
The whisper of secrets shared
We spin the voices spell
We murmur the mythic words
The sun tumbles to the sea
The fire rises into the night
We gather together once again
We sing the songs of other days

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Daily Life: The Simple Beauty of the Day

The last several days my thoughts have been circling around the subject of beauty and the appreciation of beauty. Our ordinary lives are filled with moments and incidents of astounding beauty, if we slow down enough to notice them. For the last two days I have been consciously finding and appreciating those moments. Let me share this mornings beautiful moment.

On any working day I have two regularly scheduled status meetings, back to back, each an hour long. I settle in with a cup of coffee, put my headset on, and listen/participate for two hours. Today, the first of the two meetings wrapped up early and I found myself with an interval of about twenty unexpected minutes.

I walked outside, to the front of the building, were there are several green wrought iron benches. I took a seek on the bench that is the farthest south. It is nestled back between two Japanese maple trees. This morning it was cool, with a brisk breeze off the south end of the San Francisco bay. The sky was a pale shade of blue and high above, within that blue sky, was view of a pale waning moon. High overhead a silver and blue passenger jet winged its way toward some distant destination, glinting in the sunlight. It was a perfect, beautiful moment.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sharing: T.S. Eliot on Poetry

Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.

T.S. Eliot

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Daily Life: A Simple Day Ends

The best days are simple days. I realize that is a value statement and a judgement and an opinion, all wrapped in one, but it stands. The best days are simple days. Today was a simple day. Nothing fancy about it. Just a beautiful and simple day spent in sparkling company.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Daily Life: Today I

Started the day in a hot tub of bath salts.

I ate a smoked turkey, tomato and cheese omelet.

I drank coffee.

I got the car washed.

I stopped at the drugstore.

I got the oil changed.

I stopped at the AT&T store.

I stopped at the bank.

I stopped at the bookstore and bought "Of Love and Barley" by Basho.

I stopped and had more coffee, with coffee cake.

I came home and wrote.

I read a little Anais Nin, Frank O'Hara and Dante on line.

Now, mid-day I nap. I do not wonder why.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Photography: The Keys to the Kingdom

My key ring. I keep it stripped and simple. Apartment, car, mail box and book store.

Daily Life: Nick Bostrom

I was reading a piece of his work that relates to my work (information processing) and thought I would post a link to Nick Bostrom's web site.

If you feel like challenging your brain by reading the work of an Oxford scholar, you can not go wrong with Bostrom's work. His website contains links to articles that are designed and written for either scholars or lay persons. He has an icon coding system on the web site - try one of his lay articles and if it is easily digestable, try one of this scholarly articles.

I was reading his draft paper on Information Hazards. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Photography: My Street

I came home from work tonight and found my street covered in a fine white gravel as the city resurfaces it. This street figures prominently in every ordinary day - I live on it and if I go anywhere this is the street that begins and ends each day.

Daily Life: This Weekend

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Daily Life: Closing The Day

It was a good Tuesday. At work I continued to make my way through the backlog of email and managed to reach the bottom of the pile. What remains are the issues that actually require me to do sometime (about 1 in 20), so tomorrow will be spent making follow up phone calls.

After work I went out to dinner at the Super Buffet on Saratoga and Stevens Creek and had a tasty selection of Chinese and Japanese food. Company for dinner was my nephew Tom and my friend T.S. After dinner, nothing fancier than a quiet night at home, some playing online, a wonderful conversation with T.R. and then the near silence of this very moment, where I am sitting in front of my computer, having just uploaded the picture of my little Magdalena figurine, drinking a tall glass of ice water and watching the night wind its way down.

If you were to ask me what a blessed day was, I would describe a day such as today, simple, ordinary, and enjoyable.

Photography: The Magdalena

Another little piece of me. This is a miniature I received from an artist at Wonder Con in San Francisco a few years ago. I was wandering the Artists Alley and he had this little figure on the table. I admired it (I am a fan of the Magdalena character in Top Cow's comic books) and he gave it to me. It normally sits on top of my movie case and looks down over the living room.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Photography: Two Watches

A little piece of me. A photograph of my pair of watches. There is a larger version of it here, on my Flickr photostream.

Daily Life: Hot and Sour Soup

The first day back in the office has gone smoothly. 380 email are
stacked up but I am already half way through them and I should be able
to hit the bottom of the stack by the end of the day. A pair of
routine morning meetings and then...

About an hour of personal time spent talking to two insurance
companies regarding the accident in San Diego. The calls went
relatively smoothly and we'll see how it all pans out and where the
ball settles.

I paused for lunch, hot and sour shrimp soup, and then I will head
back and tackle that stack of email. Not a bad day at all for the
first day back.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Daily Life: Thoughts At The End Of Vacation

Well, two wonderful weeks of vacation are drawing to a close. All in all it was an excellent time. There really were no bad spots. There is one (just one) incident that happened during vacation that I wish hadn't. On the day we were leaving San Diego, as we were leaving the cafe where we had breakfast (the Mission Valley Resort), my friend T.S., who was driving the rental bumped an older Kawasaki that was parked behind the rental car and tipped it over. No problem, we all had insurance and Tony was on the rental as a driver. He reported it to his insurance company, who in turned called me. Since the car was in my name, I have to now report it to my insurance company. T.S. was out of town for the weekend and his agency called me on Friday (and I got the message late Friday night), so I will give my insurance company a call on Monday and figure out what all needs to be done. In the scope of things a minor inconvenience. (Two year ago on the same vacation T.S. threw his back out, tore a muscle, and ended up spending most of the vacation laid up in the hotel room and was ultimately in physical therapy for several months - that was a bad vacation. This was just a bump.)

The San Diego Comic Con was excellent as it usually is. I got to see many different panels (and I will provide a list for your reading amusement a little later in the week). There were only two panels that I wanted to see that I did not manage to get into and in both cases it was a "no fault" kind of thing. I made the decision that I would rather not spend the time standing in line. I missed seeing Terry Gilliam and I missed seeing the Boondock Saints II panel. If you have never seen The Boondock Saints I highly recommend it. It is a great movie and has become something of a cult classic over the years.

The weather is San Diego was nearly perfect and outside of the convention we had a great time as well. I really liked the hotel we stayed at (The Town and Country Resort) and we spent three days in different museums - two days the Maritime Museum and one day the Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park. I would have liked to have spent more time museum crawling up at Balboa Park, but there are limits. It was the first vacation I have had in several years where work didn't call or where I did not have scheduled work, so that was great as well. It was remarkably stress free. I am sure dealing with the insurance companies is going to be a bit of a hassle, it always is, but if I rated the vacation on a scale of 1 to 10, it still comes in at a rock solid 9.9 in my book.

My next trip, probably in two months, will be a week back to South Dakota. That is always a fun trip, visiting family, and September is a good time to go, since it is before the arrival of winter and the after the departure of summer. The only drawback to the SD trip of course is the lack of functioning internet and cell phones in the region! But, as usual, that is actually probably not a bad thing.

So, to sum it up, I am ready to head back into work tomorrow, where I will make the rounds of my analysts and ask two questions. "Is anything on fire I need to worry about." and "Are there any angry customers lying in wait." I expect negative answers on both counts, so I will settle in with a carafe of coffee, so nutritious snacks, my iPod, and work my way through the several hundred e-mail that I am sure are eagerly awaiting my arrival.

Tonight the plan is a simple one. I am going to read myself to sleep and get a start bright and early on the new day.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Photography: Santa Cruz Incidentals

I've updated my Flickr photostream with a new set of 10 photos I call "Santa Cruz Incidentals". I took the images a few weeks back when I went down to Santa Cruz for lunch with Don on a lazy weekend day. This is one from the set. I hope you enjoy them.

Daily Life: Home

As much as I love to travel there is something about returning home that is wonderful. I am sitting in my living room, paused on a break in incidental house cleaning and boxing some things to take to the donation center. The patio doors are wide open. The windows are wide open. The morning fog is just starting to burn off and patches of blue are making themselves visible. There are birds chirping outside. There is a cool breeze flowing through the apartment. I started the morning with coffee and yogurt and conversation with T.R. It is simply a low key beautiful day at home.

I haven’t written much lately – I think this particular vacation was driven by a strong need to just get away from many things and turn the brain off, mostly. The San Diego Comic Con was an excellent time, at it always is. The city of San Diego was also an enjoyable place to spend the time. But, all in all, it is good to be home.

We got back into San Jose on Wednesday and then I spent most of yesterday morning lazing around and the afternoon running incidental errands and stocking my pantry with groceries. Then, I had a nice home cooked meal and settled in and watched a little TV, then closed the day out with a phone call. I thought about writing last night but I just wasn’t quite there. It seems to me like for this vacation I just needed a vacation from everything, including writing. But, the good news is, I have come back and am feeling truly rested and recharged.

I was just contrasting this August with last August when the stress was nearly breaking me. One year later and I am sitting in the cool and quiet living room, listening to those birds chirping, and very relaxed. Once again, after a nice vacation, it is good to be home.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Daily Life: Sunday in San Diego

A relatively quiet Sunday morning. Slept in a little late today, so
we'll be running behind the curve today - not sure what that will mean
in terms of traffic and parking, but we will see.

Today is the final day of the con, so the event schedule is light.
I'll spend a good portion of the day wandering the exhibit and vendor
floor searching for those hidden treasures.

All in all it has been a very enjoyable weekend, but as usual when the
con draws to a close - my feet with be glad to spend several days in
the propped up on something soft position.

I've kept incidental notes through the convention so I will share some
specific observations a little later. I've only opened my laptop once
since the convention began.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, July 24, 2009

Daily Life: Friday at Comic Con Begins

The morning is off to a good start. We drove downtown and parked at
Petco and then walked over to the Omni for breakfast. Breakfast was
good, thought Tony reported that his hashbrowns tasted like salmon,
which is probably not the most desirable hashbrown taste.

We're starting the day with the aforementioned Farscape panel.
Farscape was a Sci-Fi original series that ran several years and was
well received.

Today the panels are mostly organized around mainstream media -
television and assorted movies, so we'll spend the day weaving in and
out of those panels. As usual, because many events run in parallel,
choices have to be made. My first choice was between this panel and
the Stargate Universes panel. Tough choices, but I am looking forward
to the day.

Sent from my iPhone

Photography: Farscape 10 Year Anniversary Panel

This is the flyer for the panel we are attending - actors Ben Browder
and Claudia Black will be featured.

Photography: Farscape Panel Room

This is a typical mid-sized panel room. We're early and the line was

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Daily Life: Thursday's End

A very good day, if a tad long, wrapping up and heading off to sleep.

Sent from my iPhone

Presentation: The One Ring - Hobbit

At the San Diego Comic Con, in the One Ring/Hobbit panel. The panel
starts in about 25 minutes. The crowd was relatively sane this
morning. We parked at Petco Park (home of the Padres) and walked over,
about a quarter of a mile. As we waiting to cross Harbor, a long train
of people dressed as vampires went by, promoting Chris Angel's latest
show. I grabbed took some pictures and will upload a couple a little

There was an amusing moment at breakfast, at a diner along Hotel
Circle South. A Japanese woman had taken a seat at the counter and
ordered her breakfast. Upon it's arrival she reached into her bag and
pulled out her camera and took a picture of her food! Yes! It is good
to know I am not the only one who takes pictures of his food.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Photography: Deck of HMS Surprise

Daily Life: Breakfast at Janet's

We drove the thirty minutes or so east of San Jose to have breakfast
at Janet's in Alpine. I had read that it was the best place in San
Diego for breakfast. Once again I hang up on the word best, but it was
very good.

I had the country Benedict (poached eggs, sauage, on a buttermilk
biscuit) and Tony had the Spanish omelet. I am happy to report that
the reviewer did not lie. Both were excellent.

We ate breakfast being watched by dead deer hanging from the walls. I
think they were casting accusing eyes at me! Or, that may have been
the long table of cops next to us. Either way it was a good breakfast
and a pleasant drive into the desert mountains east of California.
That is some rough looking country.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Daily Life: Anthony's in San Diego

Dinner was crab cakes, cole slaw, baked potato and ice tea. I tried
the clam chowder and it was very good. Best is a pretty high standard
and so I am going to have to try some other clam chowders while I am
here. Dinner was very good all in all, followed by a quiet and
relaxing evening at the resort.

Sent from my iPhone

Photography: Lush and Green

Photography: The Resort

Photography: Wrought Iron Reflections

Photography: Gazebo at the Resort

Photography: Town and Country Resort Lobby

In San Diego, awaiting the arrival of friends to go out and get dinner
at a place that brags "the best clam chowder outside of San
Francisco". I must verify these claims.

Photography: Waiting

Monday, July 20, 2009

Daily Life: A Memory Makes Me Smile

In conversation with my dear T.R. tonight the subject of antique bed warmers came up. It stirred a old memory. My grandparents lived on a ranch in South Dakota, near a place called Corn Creek, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. On retirement my grandfather and his brother has built a small two bedroom house seventeen miles from the nearest paved road. The attic was a dormer, a single room, with several double-beds. When we visited, if it was winter, or simply cold, grandma would prep the beds with the old bedwarmers and we would would dress for the night downstairs and then, once sufficient time had passed to warm the beds, we would dash up the stairs and dive into the warm beds. We would stay there, snuggled together, until dawn. At dawn, we would all dash back down the stairs and run for the bathroom.

Daily Life: Vacation Day Four 3:00 PM

Today is moving by at a quick clip. Yesterday was a very nice vacation day and an extremely ordinary day. Today is mostly filled with the incidental errands that have to be done at the start of a vacation. I have a checklist. It is good to have checklists. There are people who use checklists and people who do not use checklists and I have both types on my checklist.

I slept late for me, until about 8:00 AM, then came online for a while, then made a light breakfast and settled in to pay bills, cover the rent, make some banking adjusts, read the mail, and print out my itinerary for the San Diego trip, making sure I have all the confirmation numbers for air, hotel, car, and convention. (That is sure one convulutedly long sentence.)

Once that was done I popped out and had lunch at El Burro in Campbell and then stopped at Marshall's and got a new suitcase. My old large suitcase has probably over a hundred trips on it and is ready to be retired. Marshall's happened to have a nice Samsonite on sale at about half price, so I picked it up. Because I have traveled a lot in the course of this life, I am very good at traveling very light - this trip is the exception. I will travel light on the way down, but I will definitely travel heavy on the way back, so I have to make sure I pack in such a way that I have space for my acquisitions on the return trip.

My friend Tony asked me the other day if I was looking for anything particular on this trip to the San Diego Comic Con and I had to think about it. I would like to add a couple of acquisitions to my collection, but I don't have anything particular in mind. I've decided to redecorate my apartment and so I might look for a few quality pieces while I am down in San Diego. Time will tell. I will start packing this afternoon, with the intention of packing everything but the electronics gear. That will get rounded up and packed tomorrow morning.

All in all it has been a very good day (and that followed a very good weekend), so I am excited about flying down to San Diego tomorrow morning. I will spend the evening at home, just relaxing, packing slowly, and doing those last minute chores that will insure I return to a comfortable apartment. Which means running through the fridge and throwing things out to make sure I don't come home to a science experiment gone awry.

Photography: El Burro - Campbell

Huevos con chorizo for breakfast.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Photography: The Dryer

I wonder if my clothes enjoy tumbling around in the dryer?

Photography: Laundry

Sooner or later, everyone has to do laundry. It helps that I have a
laundry fetish and actually enjoy doing laundry.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Daily Life: Vacation Day Two 10:07 PM

Well, today was nice and relaxing day. It started with a good nights sleep and waking from a dream where I was rescuing a beautiful blonde from a circus wagon in a deep wooded forest. She was being held captive in a circus cage (like the kind you see lions and tigers in) in the camp, which was in a deep wooded area. The circus wagons were scattered about, as were tents and caravans, and the area was lit by low burning fires, banked against the night. There was really nothing dramatic about the rescue itself, I basically just walked in quietly and freed her. It was a vivid dream that I enjoyed though.

Then, morning coffee and toast, a bit of time online and I was off to have breakfast with my friend Tyrone and Tony. It was a good breakfast and good conversation. From there, a stop at Fry's Electronics (I picked up a lens cleaning cloth).

I was supposed to socialize with friends during the afternoon and evening today, but I called it on account of impending heat. I did not want to get trapped in. It was a wise decision on my part, the heat soared to mid-nineties. We then popped out and saw a movie (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) which was - okay. It had structural problems and pacing problems, but was otherwise a solid addition to the Harry Potter franchise.

After the movie, I slipped home in the heat, fired up the air conditioning, had some lunch and watched "Dirty Pretty Things" on DVD. It is an excellent movie if you have never seen it. I highly recommend it. It is a drama about immigrants in London and black market organ transplants, starring Audrey Tatou and Chiwetel Ejiofor, directed by Stephen Frears. From there I took a nap, spend some time reading "Blood Engines" by T.A. Pratt, then wrapped of the evening with a great conversation with T.R..

Now, it is slipping past 10:00 PM and I am going to wrap it up shortly and call it a night. My plan tomorrow is to sleep in, maybe go to Mass (if I wake up early enough), and then spend the day doing the incidental things to prep for vacation - make sure the refrigerator has no potential science experiments, run a couple of loads of laundry through, and generally just get things in order. I like to have things cleaned and in order when I return from vacation, specifically so I do not have to deal with them on return.

There were no great insights today, but it was a day intended to be entirely without them. When I start my vacation it usually takes me three or four days to get unwound and unwrapped and into true vacation mode. I often suspect that it is the first Monday on vacation when it really sinks in, otherwise it just feels like a typical weekend. All plans for tomorrow are subject to change at the spur of the moment, which is one of the great parts about being on vacation!

Photography: Morning Angles

Friday, July 17, 2009

Photography: Little Pink Houses

Daily Life: Vacation Day One 4:20 PM

I thought I would take a little bit of a different slant on this vacation and journal each day as it flows by. This morning I woke with the dawn, the sun slanting in through the tree outside of the window. The tree is starting to turn lighter shades of green as we move through the summer, so the light that fills the bedroom in the morning has a different tint to it – equally beautiful, but different from the lush green of spring.

I made a pot of coffee and toasted some wheat bread, slathered with strawberry preserves and then came online for a while, to move slowly into the morning reading #haiku at Twitter. I talked with T.R., which always makes my day. Then, unexpectedly, there was a knock at the door…

Fortunately, it was not a zombie, an alien or a S.W.A.T. team. (Though, in San Jose, we have “Merge” and not SWAT. I am not sure what MERGE stands for. I am sure it is something sufficiently scary.) It was my nephew Tom, checking to see if I wanted to go get some breakfast and then catch the movie “The Hurt Locker” at a matinee. We had talked about it early in the week, but had not really confirmed it. However, one of the great things about vacation is that, when we are freed of the confines of the clock, we can simply say “Yes” and go.

We had breakfast at The Skillet in Campbell, then ran a few errands while we waited for the matinee. We stopped at Fry’s Electronics so Tom could pick up a movie (he was looking for “Born in East L.A.”). I picked up some odds and ends for my upcoming trip and some electronic cleaning supplies.

From there, we stopped at Stevens Creek Surplus and I picked up a day pack. My old day pack is nearly twelve years old and has logged thousands of days and hundreds of hours and was on its last legs. It is now officially retired. It has been replaced by a brand spanking new High Sierra “Stretch”. I also picked up a package of heavy duty socks. San Diego will involve a lot of walking, both at the Comic Con and just as a general part of vacation.

Next we stopped at Big Five Sporting Goods and I bought a new pair of Speedo’s. Before you get all excited and start visualizing, it is a trunk style swimsuit. Leaving Big Five, we went over to CineArtes theatre in Santana Row and saw “The Hurt Locker”, directed by Kate Bigelow. It is a drama about an E.O.D. (explosive ordnance disposal) team in Iraq. It is an excellent and engrossing movie, well written, well acted, and well directed. After the movie, we popped down to Westgate Shopping Center and spent a little while drinking smoothies and people watching. Tom had to go to work, so I dropped him off, then stopped at the grocery store and picked up some ice cream (Sheer Bliss) and some Yoplait yogurt. I figure that the yogurt cancels the ice cream.

Once I got home, I carried my loot into the house and then took the new swim trunks for their inaugural swim. I am happy to report they are comfortable and worked perfectly fine. By luck of the draw I had the entire pool to myself, unusual on a hot day. After that, I slipped back inside the apartment, turned on the air conditioner, and have been reading Tweets and the news online. I’ve yet to decide if I am going out for dinner of if I am going to cook something simple up. I have a craving for Italian, but just haven’t decided if I am going to cook or let someone else do the cooking. All in all, it has been a very good first day. I posted some pictures earlier from my iPhone. Tonight the plan is to continue the slow fall into pure relaxation. My friends are getting together tomorrow to socialize and grill, so I am going to make an appearance over there later in the afternoon.

Photography: Tom Reading

Photography: Waffle

Photography: Morning Coffee

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Photography: iPhone Old Photo App

Daily Life: The Last Working Day Before Vacation

I am winding my way through the working day, weaving in and out of teleconferences and a mandatory ethics class. (It strikes me that, if you have to make the ethics class mandatory, isn't that a bad sign?)

I just finished reading an article on how to make the iPhone battery last longer. Turn off the push, turn off WiFi, turn the screen brightness down and turn off the GPS location feature. All of the feature can be turned on if you need them. the iPhone battery barely makes it through a working day, so I suspect I will need to pick up an auxiliary battery if I expect it to make it through a vacation day.

One of the things I am looking forward to while on vacation is a chance to write with some degree of leisure. I have a stack of notes of things that I want to write about, but just haven't had the keyboard time to explore them to any depth.

I've also got about 20 boxes of assorted "stuff" left in my apartment. I want to take a day or two while on vacation and ruthlessly sort through them, disposing of some and donating the rest to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. I've been thinking about redecorating the apartment while on vacation. It's not that impressive of a chore, it will probably only take a day or two of hard work - it is a two bedroom, one bath apartment, so there isn't exactly a lot of space. Since I tend toward spare and simple when it comes to interior decorating it should be fairly straightforward.

I am looking forward to the San Diego Comic Con. It is always a wonderful experience. However, if you have crowd phobias, then I would definitely not recommend it. It is sold out - a total of 126,000 memberships. There will be lines to stand in line so you can stand in line for the other lines. But, that is part of the fun. I have been looking at the Con schedule to decide what I want to see, do and participate in, but I won't make the actual hard decisions until the last moment.

Today, now, here - I am trying to stay focused, move smoothly through the day, and start my vacation. And oh, did I mention that have become rather addicted to Twitter? Twitter is cool - there is an astounding amount of data flowing around out there and some of it fascinates me. I tweet regularly in #haiku (basically, micro-blogging in haiku form). I am going to gather some of the haiku I've written that I like better than others and reprint them here. Once the day is over my plan is to, as I told my dear T.R. a while ago - eat, tweet, sleep.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Daily Life: Flying and Falling

Did you ever notice that dreams of flying and dreams of falling feel
the same?

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: Quick Thoughts In Succession

Just some quick thoughts in rapid succession on a Wednesday morning:

The heat and pollen have me sneezing quite expressively this morning. I suspect I am composing the Symphony of Allergy.

T-Minus 1 Day, Seven Hours, Forty-One Minutes to the start of vacation.

Whispering as a method of not attracting attention fails miserably. It only draws further attention to the conversation you don't want anyone to hear. Speak in a normal voice, than, most likely, your conversation will simply be lost in the background chatter.

I love the sun of summer, even if it is making me sneeze.

I often move through the course of a working day and think "okay, exactly how tough can this be"?

Did you ever notice that, ninety-nine percent of the time something goes wrong, it is usually due to something very simple, at the very base level, that went wrong?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sharing: Sarah Bareilles "Vegas"

I heard this song for the first time today and I was very impressed. The artist is Sarah Bareilles and the name of the song is "Vegas". Here is a link to YouTube.

Sarah Bareilles "Vegas"

Hope you enjoy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Observations: Writing In The Void

I've mentioned a couple of times that I am encountering some basic writers block. It is not that I am not writing. It is more that I am not satisfied with what I have been writing, either in terms of quantity or quality. I had mentioned it the other night in my circle of friends. I had said that felt like I was trying to write out of a void. What I meant was that I was sitting down to write, but when I reached into myself to find the story or tale I wanted to tell, I was reaching into a void. The will is there. The time is there. The words are there. The form that those words must take is not. One of them suggested that rather than trying to write OUT of the void, I try writing IN the void. So this is a run at that.

Imagine a formless place…

Inside of it dwell the many parts of our imagination. All of the things we know. All of the things we've experienced. All of the things we've found in the sensual world. They all reside in there. Periodically, a force moves through the void. This force is the will, it is spirit of the imagination. It may be a single muse. It may be many small muses working in concert. They reach into the formless place, they find the things that are stored there, and they start the process of stringing them together. Through the process of creativity they bring the forms of narrative together into poetry and prose.

A thousand, ten thousand, maybe more stories are formed and shaped and queued up to be released into the waking world through the creative power of writing. It is an inexhaustible well of inspiration. We may periodically reach in and pull something out. We may periodically find that the muses have done a very complete job of assembling the objects of our imagination into a cohesive architecture. We may struggle to write a simple sentence, a single paragraph, the most basic of narratives. We may find that the muses have delivered to us splendid garments of whole cloth, entire wardrobes of imagination. It is from this formless place, from this well of imagination, that all of the stories we have told and will tell spring.

If you find yourself temporarily bereft of a coherent narrative, if you find that the stories or poems are not quite there, just relax. Form always flows out of formlessness. The well of the imagination is never empty. Sometimes, what we simply need to do, is find our way into that well and then, simply, sit. Sit and let the strange muses and the ordinary muses do their work. Trust that they are actively assembling something magnificent. Trust that they are building vast cathedrals of splendid materials.

We are simply human. We all go through life together, we all share a common path, we all know the same richness and depth and breadth of life. Our senses each day fill to the brim with the threads of life, awaiting the simple or complex weaves that pull them together. There is stillness inside the void. Rather than struggle against it, simply relax, take a deep breath, and let the muses do their work.