Saturday, January 31, 2009

Teaching and Learning

I spent the day in the twin pursuits of teaching and learning. The
twin pillars of wisdom and life. I very much enjoyed the day. The
weather was spectacular and the entire pace of the day was stately.

I talked over the triple dream of last night and have come to the
conclusion that it to was a dream of identity, a fairly consistent
dream theme for me this year.

I have nothing major planned tomorrow, but I will definitely slip out
at some place in the day to enjoy the sun if the weather permits. I am
inclined toward catching a movie tomorrow, but I haven't decided which

For now, at the end of a very good day, I an going to curl up with my
Douglas Preston book and read myself to sleep. Tomorrow I am going to
sleep in and start the day in ultra lazy mode.

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She never burned for me...

"She never burned for me. No matter how many times I set myself on
fire for her, she never burned for me." Harvey Keitel, "Life on Mars"

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Three Dreams of Maine

I had a strange set of dreams last night.

Through the night, three times in succession, spread apart by several
hours, I dreamt I was trying to make travel arrangements to get to
Portland, Maine on short notice to attend a wedding.

I have no idea whose wedding it was supposed to be.

It was not a frantic sense of trying to make the travel arrangements
but a sense of being deeply engrossed in the task.

I didn't wake from the same dream each time, but rather from different
dreams of the same subject.

That was a different dreamscape - I don't recall having ever done that

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Simple Potato Sausage Casserole

Simple Potato Sausage Casserole

1 Small onion sliced fine
1 small green pepper sliced fine
8 red potatoes, scrubbed and sliced fine
4 sweet Italian sausages jsliced fine
Rub butter to grease a 1.5 quart casserole dish
Layer in potato, onions, peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
Layer on sausage
Add a quarter cup water
Bake covered at 350 for one hour
Uncover and bake an additional 30 min

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Vast Indifference of Heaven

The Real and the Unreal

The experience of life is specific and local.

That is a strange thing to try and wrap your brain around in this quantum universe of ours.

We occupy a very specific location in space/time called "now".

Now is the only thing that is real. All the rest of it is unreal.

The past is done.

The future is an undifferentiated sea of potential.

The choices we make in specific and local space/time are largely independent of both the past and the future.

As we flow into the future we choose specific potentials from the sea of space/time.



What specific potentials are your choosing from the sea of space/time?

I choose moments I enjoy.

I choose moments of happiness.

There is a beautiful California sun shining out there today. I chose it.

Pretty cool huh?

In this moment, right now, what choice are you making?

Is it the choice you want to make?

If it is not, why are you not making the different choice?

"All life folds back
Into the sea
We contemplate eternity
Beneath the vast indifference of heaven..."

-Warren Zevon, "The Vast Indifference of Heaven"

The Pangrac Effect


I was trying to think of something significant to write today, but I couldn't really think of anything. It is just a very average and ordinary day here in San Jose. work has been relatively sane.

I've spent most of the last couple of days in meetings. The evenings have been relatively quiet and enjoyable. (I spent most of yesterday evening catching up on "24" episodes I had on DVR, so I can say I am up to speed on the latest adventures of Jack Bauer!)

It has just been a nice and quick week. The month of January is almost over and all in all it's been a good month. I only had one day of stress.

We had a customer report a data problem at work (an expected value was not appearing). I documented it and relayed it to the technical team. I asked for a specific fix (to the problem itself) and a wider investigation into root cause.

We meet daily and discuss technical challenges as they arise. In the daily discussion I was overruled by technical management and my functional management. They agreed to fix the specific problem but felt that the "science project" of investigating the root cause was too broad in scope.

I disagreed because of what I call the Pangrac Effect. The Pangrac Effect is named after a former analyst I worked with. He found a small data problem and brought it to my attention. I took a look at it, thought it was just a fluke, fixed the specific problem and moved on. A few weeks later, he ran into another one. I fixed it.

Then, it arose on the third time and I peeled back the onion - and it got really, really ugly. Underlying systemic data corruption. Ongoing for several months. Effecting tens of thousands of records. Took scores of hours to fix.

I learned the lesson. Treat every reported data anomoly as if it was the tip of an iceberg. The Pangrac Effect.

So, in the meeting, I registered my objections and was overruled by functional and technical management. I was frustrated and stressed out, so to deal with it I reviewed my actions. I had done everything I needed to do. The assignment of other resources (beyond my team) is beyond me. I objected to the decisions and gave my business reasons. I let the frustration go.

Then, today...guess what rose up and took a big bite? Yep, the Pangrac Effect. The "science project" is now underway.

I've been busy through January, but more importantly, I have been successful (in my assessment) at focusing into the moment I am in. Pulling things in. Staying local and specific. Not letting things outside of that locality to distract me or to pull me out of the moment. Far from perfect, but better than last year.

I don't have anything planned tonight. I am thinking about making a potato sausage casserole tonight and spending a quiet evening at home. I am planning on going out and seeing "The Wrestler" tomorrow at a matinee and then probably getting some lunch at one of the restaurants in Santana Row. I've got a couple of options there.

I've nearly finished Michael Fick's "One Bullet Away" (The autobiography of a Marine officer and his experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was the officer in charge of the Marines whose story is told in "Generation Kill", an excellent book and an excellent HBO series now on DVD - I highly recommend both or either.) I finished Michael Crichton's "Next", which it turns out I had already read some years ago - I realized that about half way through the book, but I just keep going. I started reading Douglas Preston's "Blasphemy".

So, tonight is shaping up to be a nice home cooked meal and another quiet evening watching a movie on DVD or reading and writing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thirty Six Degrees and Cold

Thirty six degrees and cold
This morning when I woke
I dressed in gray slacks
And a white shirt
And a gray sweater with
Thin red horizontal stripes
Across the chest
My concession to the cold
Was wearing my warm wool socks
Inside my black Rockports
I drove to work
Stopped for a cup of coffee
Listened to KQED and then
Beethoven on my iPhone
I parked in the time before dawn
When the eastern sky was
Several shades of blue with
Hints of red and orange
At the horizon line
The air was crisp in my senses
And as I walked from the car
To the office
Under a row of winter trees
I loved the feel of
My breath
Rising and falling in my chest
Filling me with a sense of
Thirty six degrees and cold

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Art of Greg Martin

I was wandering the internet tonight, clicking the "Next Blog" button at the top of the page and I wandered, eventually, on this site - The Gallery of Greg Martin.  There are some astounding images there, I spent quite a bit of time just looking at them.  I think that is one of the things I love about the internet - the potential it holds to take you someplace wonderful with the click of a link.

Remembered Conversations

Something in the evening
Led me through memory to
Remembered conversations
Exchanged among friends
Casually, incidentally, easily
Carefully and carelessly woven
Thoughts, hopes, dreams
Loves, losses, gifts
A tapestry of all the colors
Of lives in conversations

Dangerous and Beautiful

Looks like a wicked ice storm bearing down on the upper south. Good luck to anyone in it’s path! Fortunately, in California, the only ice we know is in our frosty margaritas. (Incidentally, if you have never seen “The Ice Storm”, directed by Ang Lee, it is an excellent movie.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Brilliance of An Ordinary Evening

After I left work today I ran a few errands (bank, post office, tax preparer) and then swung home and went back to work virtually for another pair of hours, working on some data research for a customer. I was planning on doing laundry at the apartment, but other people apparently had the same plan.

We have four washers and four dryers in our complex (in two small laundry rooms, one on each end of the complex). Every once in a great while you find two open together, but usually, like tonight, the opportunity arises for one machine at a time. For light loads and incidental laundry, that if fine - but I had four loads I wanted to do tonight. So, I had the choice - I could do them here, in succession, taking all evening, or I could head out to the laundromat.

Now, I happen to like laundromats - so it was an easy decision for me. I packed up the baskets and headed out. I go to the laundromat in Westgate West, across for Bikram Yoga and the California Fencing Academy and just around the corner from Orchard Supply Hardware. With the exception of a woman who left as I was arising, I had the place to myself.

Four loads of laundry in at the same time (dress shirts, dress pants, sweaters, and blue jeans) - then 24 minutes to kill. I walked around the corner to OSH and picked up some more detergent (Tide Free) and some Bounce sheets. I got a bottle of Hi C Orange Soda and sat on a bench outside of the laundromat until the timer in my iPhone went off, then I went back inside and moved everything over to the driers.

36 minutes. I walked over to Boston Market and had the meatloaf dinner, with mashed potatoes and the squash stuffing, with a small spice cupcake and a glass of ice tea. The meal came with "southern style cornbread". I wasn't sure what made it southern style, because it was basically just cornbread. After dinner, I had eight minutes to kill, so I walked the long way back to the laundromat.

It was (and still is) a beautiful California evening. The sky was a brilliant shade of blue and crystal clear. The sun was a rich warm gold. There was a slight breeze, cool to the skin, that cleared all of the particulates of urban smog from the air. Each breath of air was refreshing. I walked past the California Fencing Academy (no class, just a bunch of kids running around inside and parents sitting on benchs, probably waiting for class to start) and Bikram Yoga (which did have a class going on, but they appeared to be in the resting part of yoga - they were all just lying there staring up at the ceiling).

I timed it perfectly - walking into the laundromat just as the timer went off. I spent the next thirty minutes carefully hanging shirts (ten), pants (six), blue jeans (3) and sweaters (3). The sweaters were not quite dry, so they are not here in the house, sitting on the back of the couch, finishing the drying process.

As was was walking through Westgate West I happened to glance up at the green expanse of the Santa Cruz Mountains. They looked lush and beautiful, flush and green for the preceding weeks rain. There is a trail that runs from the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains, near Castle Rock Park, all the way down the southern slope to the ocean. It is a full days hike - I thought about that trail. I think I will hike it here in the spring, once we get more consistent good weather. Right now, I am sure, from the rain parts of the trail are soft and mushy and treacherous.

I was loading my car when a car pulled up, drove past me, and then backed up. There were two young women in the car. The driver rolled down the window and asked where Bikram Yoga was. (If they had looked out the other window they would have seen the big white sign and all the people inside, now doing yoga positions.) In a playful mood, I really had to resist the temptation to give them very involved directions that would have sent them all the way through the Westgate West complex in a giant circle and brought them back to right where they were.

Instead, I just smiled and told them to look to their right. Sometimes I am...benevolent. I am feeling benevolent tonight. I am in a good mood. It is a gracious, lush, beautiful California night. I have a closet full of fresh clothes. I have a fresh sweater for tomorrow. I seem to have successfully shaken the sluggishness of the morning in favor of the brilliance of the evening.

A Sluggish Day So Far

It has been hours since the day began and I feel like I am finally gaining some clarity. I made a mistake last night that had unintended consequences. I stayed up until about midnight reading. I woke up about three for no particular reason. I woke up at five when my nephew was heading out to work. There was the decision point - I should have gotten out of bed when my nephew left for work. But - I thought - I can squeeze one more hour of sleep out - so I stayed in bed. And now, most of the morning, has been a journey through the monkey mind, full of distractions.

I woke at seven from a dream of trying to administer a yahoo email list. I wanted to just do a bulk update, it was an easy thing - but it was the wrong thing to do. I knew I had to go through each of several hundred records one by one. When I woke up, I could not shake that list from my mind. The strange thing of course is - there is no such list. I do not administer an yahoo email lists - but it was a real dream and the challenge of the task stayed in my mind and I could not quite shake it on the drive into work.

I got into the office and hit the wall of meetings that is sometimes typical of a Monday morning. I have basically been in five (going on six) hours of meetings. The last one is wrapping up and I am going to go out and get something for lunch, then come back and try and salvage some productive work from the day. In the ten minute windows of time between meetings I've gone and done a quick walk around the building to try and get some blood flowing, hoping that will help pull me into a more alert stage, but it really hasn't worked. I feel - sluggish, lacking clarity, today. I think I just need some more sleep.

But, of course, that means when I go home tonight I am going to be tempted to take an extended nap, which will cascade into the nights sleep. So, instead, I think I will go out and do something after work tonight, in order to keep the rhythm going, so that I can fall asleep naturally at some point during the night. I do have an errand to run - I never did get my laundry done yesterday, so that is a good thing that will keep me moving this evening. But, all in all, so far today has been sluggish.

Believe Nothing - Buddha

Believe nothing on the faith of traditions, even though they have been held in honor for many generations and in diverse places.

Believe nothing because many people speak of it.

Believe nothing on the faith of the sages of the past.

Believe nothing that you yourself have imagined, persuading yourself that a God inspires you.

Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests.

After examination, believe what you yourself have tested and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Brilliant Ciphers

I paused the day
At a small diner
Where I ate apple pie
And vanilla ice cream
Read Frank O'Hara
And listened to "Duke of Earl"
I thought
That the sum total of all our experiences
Made us
Brilliant ciphers

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

I woke in night possessed stillness

I woke in night possessed stillness
Heard the hushed voice of a lesser god
Murmuring in the rain overflowed gutters
Somewhere inside that voice another
Sung a nursery rhyme in the lilting
Accents still in my heart
Since a nearly forgotten winter in Osaka
When I would wake at night
And listen to Miho singing
Her aged Grandmother to sleep
Mother and child entwined and tangled
Uninvited guests at the Foxes Wedding

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Three Thoughts On Saturday

Sometimes your friends can convince you to do things that you are really only marginally interested in.  Today, I went and saw the movie "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" with a friend of mine.  It is not necessarily the movie I would have selected...but, for what it was, it was.  With some things, if you put your brain into the proper space, you can enjoy them for what they are, and this movie was definitely that case.

Sometimes, the sound of a human voice is a magical thing.  An early morning call set the tone for the day, soft, slightly husky with sleep and all in all so very pleasant.  That is the power of something as simple as a human voice.

Sometimes, those first minutes of the day set the tone for the day.  I logged into my favorite chat room on AOL (Spiritual Insights) this morning and spent an hour in just some very pleasant conversation.  I had to leave after that hour to join my other friends for breakfast, but the conversation was eclectic, funny, and playful this morning and that set the tone for the day beautifully.  The room was discussing the child like sense of wonder - and that was the perfect conversational song for me to leave the room on and start the day.

Those are my three thoughts for the day.  It was cool to cold and gray to rainy here in California today - but, as set in the first hours of the morning, it was a wonderful day. I had a moment in the afternoon where it seemed as if it was swinging toward the somber, but a nap and a few chapters in a book and some poetry swept that aside.  Dinner was at a local Chinese place - lemon fish, vegetarian fried rice, crab and cream cheese wontons, spicy pork wontons, and hot and sour soup.  Excellent.  Simple excellent.

Today was book-marked by two excellent meals - and I have another day on this weekend to go. Tomorrow is going to have to be a day of errands (laundry, some house cleaning, grocery shopping), but that seems like it will be the perfect course of the day.  Because of the weather I am inclined to nap, so when I came home for dinner I was looking at the clock - it was in that dangerous time - when a nap threatens to turn into a full nights sleep, and if it does then you wake up at four AM and stare at the ceiling.  So, I am powering through the evening by writing a little in my journal, writing a little outside my journal, and watching Mythbusters.

Perfection for Breakfast

Breakfast was cream cheese and blueberry French toast washed down with
a tall glass of orange juice. Perfection.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Tale of the Monkey Mind

I seem to mention the Monkey Mind often enough that I thought I would write a little bit about it for those that are unfamiliar with the concept. It arises from Buddhism and is culturally engrained in both China and Japan.

Ann Pizer describes it as "The monkey-mind jumps from thought to thought like a monkey jumps from tree to tree. Rather than existing in the present moment, the monkey mind focuses on one thought after another, and these thoughts distract us from existing in the present."

The monkey mind, at least my monkey mind, is capable of evoking some pretty powerful emotions that have no correspondence to the current moment, sometimes no correspondence to the real world at. They can be entirely thought-constructs. If you have ever had an imaginary argument with someone about something that never happened and most likely never will happen, then you have felt that monkey mind at work.

There are a lot of other places the monkey mind likes to jump out of. If you are in a relationship and struggling with the battles of a past relationship, that is the monkey mind. If you are at work and bearing the wounds of a previous job, that is the monkey mind. If you see something you don't like in one time and space and then carry it into the next time and space, that is the monkey mind. The monkey mind loves to pull you from the present by distracting you with the not present.

Personally, a huge step for me has been recognizing the monkey mind and simply knowing that it is there. Knowing it is there is a good step toward working its way toward the true experience of the present.

Waking Cranky

I woke up this morning and I was muddled. My monkey mind was spinning a dozen thoughts around and once and I was on the verge of being cranky - I slipped into crankiness at a few points as I went through the morning. I don't think there was any real justification for it, it just was.

There were specific triggers, but they were incidental things - I watched myself as I bumped into them and felt the crankiness spinning up. I focused and pushed my way through it. As I hit each trigger event I stopped, I took a deep breath, and I made it a point to DO something about it. It did not necessarily relieve the crankiness, but it did make the apparent point of the crankiness pointless.

There was a redemptive moment, a phone call, a voice mail, an image that cascaded into other images and served in part to reset the morning. But, the morning has continued at the verge of being a cranky day. It is the crankiness of things undone that need to be done. It is the crankiness of the unsettled things in life. As each arises, they are sorted into those that can be done and those that cannot be done at this time (this space, this place, this influence).

I am going to lunch shortly, the Grand Indian Buffet, and I hope the crankiness falls aside in the comfort of friends and good food and the cleansing wash of the California rain.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sleeping & Fun and Games with Parasomnia


I am an early morning person. Furthermore, with rare exceptions, I never use an alarm clock. I just decide what time I want to get up in the morning and I wake up. In those rare exceptions, I use the alarm clock if the consequences of being late (such as a missed flight or a missed teleconference) are high.

I have parasomnia disorder (sleep walking, sleep talking, loud noise syndrome) so for a while when I was younger I went to a sleep specialist. They could not do anything about the parasomnia (it is just is), but they did help teach me how to go to sleep and how to wake up. It seems strange, but they taught me a couple of things that really made a huge difference. I will share them with you.

First, when you are going to sleep, lie down, close your eyes. Breathe deeply and count backward from ten with each breath. As you do this, tense and release the muscles in your body, starting with your extremities (feet, calves, thighs, hands, fore arms, upper arms). Just tense them, hold for a few seconds, and release them. For whatever reason, it makes me fall asleep and sleep deeper.

Then, when you awake (regardless of how you wake), just lay there in bed, and count upward from ten with each breath. Then, get up and lightly stretch your entire body - and then start the day.

The really big thing I learned was to respect your own natural rhythms. Go to bed when you are tired. Get up when you wake up. Nap when you want to. We live in a hugely complex and demanding society that presents us with all sorts of unnatural tempos, many of which are subtle and complex. Part of re-learning to sleep well is simple learning that it is okay to ignore those unnatural rhythms.

We humans invented time, so anything that has to do with a clock is an unnatural rhythm. Now, of course, we have to concede to some of the demands of modern society - but, we can structure our lives in such a way that we can minimize those distractions.

Fun and Games with Parasomnia

Of all the assorted symptoms of parasomnia, the strangest (to me) is loud noise syndrome. Basically, what it means is when you are just about to drop off to sleep you hear a loud noise. In my case, it sometimes sounds like someone shouts right in my ear, other times it sounds like a fast gaggle of voices, and still other times it sounds like the roar of a jet or the cascade of a crash. The first couple of times it happened (probably in my twenties) it scared the heck out of me, especially when it took the form of someone shouting or the gaggle of voices. For me, it generally happens when I am over tired.

The other thing that I frequently do is sleep talk - sometimes one side of what is apparently an entire conversation, other times just random phrases. The sleep talking may or may not coordinate with any dreaming events.

The Dream of the Round House

It rained here last night. I enjoy the sound of rain pouring down on the roof and the splashing off to the ground. It fills the world with a soft rushing noise and it soothes me. Rainy days are contemplative, intimate, introspective days best spent in the company of gentle people.

When I woke of this morning I woke with the memory of a house. I dreamt that I had walked a short distance through a mist shrouded morning, through some lush green trees and shrubs, into a clearing at the center of which was a small hill.

Perched on the summit of the hill was a round stone house. It was pretty big, two stories tall and in the style of vaguely New England Colonial (the large square windows, the large squared off doors). I had a sense of age from the house, but not too much age. There were no modern features visible (no lights, no lighting, no antenna's or satellite dishes).

The house itself was still and silent. Here is a subtle nuance. I had a sense that the house was empty, but not abandoned. More so that it was incidentally empty, like whoever dwelt there was simply not there at this moment in time.

Wrapped around the house in a clockwise direction was a black wrought iron staircase, made a glossy black by the mist. I was walking with a man who was older than I, but not significantly so, and he was dressed in a vague colonial New England style (a woolen frock coat) and he had long hair that was tied back by a single bright blue ribbon with a pale blue trim.

We went up the stair case and on the roof of the house there was an observatory - a small one, really just a large round room with an iron dome that opened by a hand crank. The observatory was closed. The person I was with was excited to show me the features on the roof - the observatory, an observing platform that had a sweeping view of the clearing the house was in, a small intimate breakfast type nook with a hand cranked dumbwaiter, and a small garden. The garden was winterized, the plants carefully wrapped, buried deep in snow. There was an array of copper pipes that flowed through the garden area and then warmed the soil, which in turn kept the plants from freezing.

That was pretty much the sum of the dream. There was nothing else going on, just a still mist shrouded morning and round stone colonial house with an observatory on the roof. I woke from the dream to the sound of rain and jotted down a few notes from the dream so that I could remember them today.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Finding Rod

Among the other patterns of dreams I've had over the last couple of weeks I seem to have been dreaming about computers and the internet a lot. Nothing specific, just the sense of having woke and dreamt of the computers and the internet. That is kinda...weird. Of course, it dawns on me that it might be an extension of the communication dreams I've been having.

I've spent the last two years (actually, a closer to three) under the shadow of two very big and highly stressful projects at work. In 2006 we started a big project that replaced a core system with an outsourced vendor hosted system. I was brought onto that project late and so played the infamous game of catch up and squeaked my portion of the pie under the wire - it involved an way to much overtime. That project ran through 2006 and culminated in November of 2007 with a successful roll out. I followed that up with The Project That Almost Broke Me, which culminated for me in December (and I am slowly spinning off it as I close things and hand them to the team that has O&M).

Now, at work, we are sorting through and lining up the projects for 2009 and I have a few, but none of them threaten to be either the size or the scope of the preceding two (of course, the year is young). When I am work now I actually feel like I accomplish things during the course of a day. I am working full hours and a little overtime, but the workload feels manageable, which is great.

That has sparked my New Year's resolutions which are all largely external resolutions - I thought that was a curious pattern that emerged as I wrote them down, but it is definitely something that I feel I need - I have a powerful need to be outside and doing "stuff".

Adjacent to that is the need to spent some quality time "inside" - reading, thinking, praying, meditating, contemplating, writing. Overall I think having been badly unbalanced for the last coupe of years, I feel the need to return to balance. I think that I am on the right track for that, but I think only time is going to tell there.

One of the strange things that I thought of is that there are people in my life who have only known me in that relatively high stress time. There are whole aspects of my personality that they simply have not seen at play. That is kind of a weird thought and it made me wonder, of those same friends and acquaintances, how many of them I have an equally distorted picture of - having only known them through a certain period of their lives. Would I recognize their "other selves"? Will they recognize my other self? As I return to my normal patterns and habits and happinesses, will they see that change in my as a change for the better or for the worse?

Let me give you one example - I am a huge fan of the impromptu road trip. They once (three or four years ago) made up a significant portion of my life - just, toss a bag in the car, pick a direction and wander. I've laid some memorable road trips on in the course of my life. I have actually driven through every state in the US, every state in Canada, and most of Mexico. I once drove from San Jose to Quebec - and back - in a weeks vacation (and yes, it was mostly spent on the road). But, in the last couple of years, the farthest I have driven has been Lake Tahoe (which is only about four hours away). I could tell I was starting to return to my old self when I made my last trip to Lake Tahoe - my friends were up there and I drove up over the weekend and combined visiting with them and going to Hot August Nights in Reno on the same trip. That was nice.

I used to spend several hours a week at the library - just stopping there on the way home and reading random books and periodicals. I haven't done that in a long time. Because of the heavy workload, there have been rather large aspects of my life that fell by the way side, that were just put on hold, as I struggled through those twin projects.

One of the things I am definitely looking forward to this year is spending time indulging that part of me. Centering. Finding Rod again. I remember that guy and I kinda like him.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Notch Back

One of my New Years Resolutions has been to try and take things one notch back.  What I mean by that is to try and slow down a little, try not to be multi-tasking all the time, try not spent too much of this moment in the next moment.  So far, I have been fairly successful at it.

I had a solidly good day at work today - it was busy, in and out of different meetings, dealing with customer issues, the usual stuff of the working world - but it was the good kind of busy the kind where the day passes quickly and when it closes you feel like you accomplished something.  That is always a good feeling - feeling each moment pass fully.

I got home tonight and had a simple dinner, then watched a little TV (the new show "The Beast" with Patrick Swayze), did dishes, and am now waiting for Fringe to start.  If you are not watching Fringe, I recommend it.  It is an excellent show.  As I wait, I thought I would drop online and make a journal entry.

I don't think I had any particular insights today other then to recognize, internally, the value of my approach of one notch back.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Murder of Crows II

A quiet hour or so at home and a good conversation with someone special managed to reset the day for me. I swung back our and ran my forgotten errands. I stopped at Target and picked up some odds and ends (lemon honey cough drops, hair conditioner, hand sanitizer and John Cusack's "War, Inc."). I walked those back out to the car.

I walked over to a sushi restaurant and had a light late lunch - California Roll, Rainbow Roll, Saki Salmon sashimi, a bowl of Miso soup, and a cup of green tea. I walked over to the shoe store (time to replace my running shoes), but they did not have the particular model I was looking for in my size. Then, I spent the next hour wandering around in Barne's & Noble - and incredibly, I walked out without buying anything - only because the lines were very long and I figure I can always go back there in the evening one of these weeks.

I wandered the shopping center a bit just to stretch my legs and people watch and then walked back to the car. I considered driving over to Macy's (I have a gift card that I got for Christmas), but ultimately decided that is Westgate, a rather small mall, was crowded - then Valley Fair, a very large mall, was going to be a zoo. I am sure the sunshine had a lot of people out and about doing exactly what I was doing - wandering.

So, I wandered home. I watched the John Cusack movie I mentioned above - pretty good - typical Cusack fair, witty, clever, sarcastic and truthful. I have been contemplating dinner, but haven't really decided if I am inclined toward anything. I had a bowl of French Vanilla ice cream while watching the movie, which took the edge off of any hunger pangs. I considered ordering pizza, but decided against it.

I took a long hot bath, with lavendar bath salts, lit by candle light. It was very relaxing and centering. It is still relatively early in the evening, so I am going to see if there is anything worth watching on TV later in the night, if not, I may toss in another movie. I am looking forward to a quiet night at home, nice and relaxed. I might make a phone call or two later into the evening, but I haven't decided on that - I will make that decision when the time comes.

A Murder of Crows

I am not sure what it is about the universe that it seems, at times, to be trying to keep you off balance. Just as one thing seems to untangle, another seems to tangle. It shifts one direction and then with little warning it shifts in the other direction. I am not sure what causes it, I am not every sure why, but it shifts.

I've started the year with a motto (Calm, Clear, Focused) and a focal point (the Three Treasures of the Tao - Simplicity, Patience, Compassion). When ever the universe throws a curve at me, I reside in the three treasures and I try and stay calm, clear, and focused. I am not always successful, but so far this year I have been more successful than not, and that is a good thing. It seems to me that the portents of this year are good - I am looking forward to it, I feel well centered and ready for it to unfold. I think I am having a very - I don't know how to describe it - day.

I woke up this morning and lingered in bed, dozing and half-dreaming as I went into the morning. I made it a point to take a little extra time and bow my head in prayer. I went online to chat but had some difficulties staying online - after the fourth "sudden death" of an AOL session, I figured it was the Gods of Chat telling me "not today".

It was kind of frustrating because there I have a few online friends who are "weekend only" people and I always look forward to talking to them, and I couldn't. But, sometimes in the flow of things the universe does not give us what we want.

Then I had - I don't know if miscommunication is the right word - but a not good communication with someone who is dear to me. As a guy, my instinct is to fix, but there are things that are beyond me to fix and I have to let the universe take care of them, residing in the three treasures of simplicity, patience, and compassion. I think this is the patience part - things in this world unfold as they unfold and there really isn't anything I can do about them. I would if I could, but I do not seem to be able to. I am not sure what the lesson is there except - patience.

So, not satisfied in that arena this morning, I pulled back - I started up the stereo and have spent the morning listening to Sting. I watched "Alama" (the new one, with Billy Bob Thorton as Davy Crocket), then I re-watched Friday night's episode of Battlestar Galactica.

I ran my nephew into work because I needed to run some errands, including picking up a prescription - but of course, I forgot the prescription here at home. So, I dropped Tom off and stopped to gas up the car (which was the point at which I realized I had forgotten the prescription).

So, I circled home and have picked it up and put it in my wallet. I popped online to check my work email (I have people working this weekend and I thought I would check in and see how they are doing - everything is going smoothly). I thought I would check my home email (nothing there).

So, I then decided I would take a few minutes and write a journal entry before I headed back out to run those errands.

Despite the incidental frustrations of the morning, the day is still falling clearly into the "good day" category. It helps that the sun is shining - something about the warmth of the sun that can make any day nice.

We go through life and often find it is best to simply focus on the good things, the simple things, that make the world such a stunningly beautiful place. Simple things like friends and the sun shining on a cool California day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Playing to the Crowd

"If you play to the crowd you risk losing your core."

My subconscious is talking to me pretty frequently through dreams so
far this year. I've spent the first two weeks of the year with
consistent dreams of identity and communication. Last night was no
different. I don't remember the substance of the dream, but I awoke
with the above phrase resonating inside my mind.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sorceror (Fiction)

I was tired.

I was living on the watch.

I had slept three or four hours a night for the last run of days. I had lived in hotels and airports and airplanes. When I slept it was not the deep restful sleep of dreaming but rather the fitful sleep of exhaustion.

I was floating. I floated out of the airport. I floated down the highway in the rental car. I was closer to home than I had been in a long time. I pulled into the parking lot of St. Louise's hospital just after midnight.

The nurse at the desk patiently explained the whole concept of visiting hours to me. I used my Sorcerers tricks to persuade her to pretend the rules didn't exist for me. She would not make the decision alone and had to call her supervisor.

I pretended I was human long enough for them to decide I was human and I moved past the artificial barriers of bureaucracy and took the elevator to the third floor where she was in a recovery room.

We were lovers once and we ended badly in a tangle of betrayal, blame and anger. We found a fragile truce in the years that followed. I do not think we ever truly fall out of love. We change and they change and the world changes. Loves loses its significance in the scheme of things.

She was frail and nearly invisible in the sterile room. She was never a big woman - small, slender, and compact were all accurate descriptions of her. She was substantial. She was always "there". She had presence. In that white room she was only a shadow of what I remembered. Her hair was still lustrously dark, a thick braided rope of night. Her skin was still translucently porcelain. But it was porcelain laid carefully across a gaunt memory.

I picked up a chair and carried it across the room and set it near the bed. I kept my coat on, even though the room was warm. I had a gun on my belt and explanations in my wallet, but I preferred not to deal with the questions that always follow, so I kept the jacket on. The weight of the gun was the weight of the world and I think that it was that weight that bore down on us and pulled us apart.

Her right hand lay on the sheets. It was frail and bore the bruises from repeated I.V. lines, though there are none then. There were other lines and tubes that ran into her and through them moved fluids. I carefully picked her hand up and cradled it in mine. She was flesh and bone, but aren't we all?

Her eyes flickered open and I saw that bright robin's egg blue that stole my heart and tangled my soul. She is in her eyes and within her eyes she is still electric. A smile flickered on the corners of her mouth. I remembered the softness of her kisses, impossibly soft. I remembered the harshness of her words, where, in anger, she cut quick and deep. We are all of those parts of us, good and bad. They are the sum of us.

Her hand curled slightly in mine and she squeezed it a time or two and then let her hand lay still there. She could not talk. Tubes ran down her throat. She simply watched me and I remembered all the other times she watched me. I remembered when those eyes sparkled and I remembered when they flared.

She lifted her hand from mine and found the center of my chest. She tugged at the buttons of my shirt. I stood up near the bed and unzipped my jacket all the way and unbuttoned my shirt. She rested her hand on my abdomen and pulled at my t-shirt. She reached across her stomach and touched the bandage on her side - thick, heavy, taped in place, covering a tube from which drained…death perhaps.

I knew what she wanted. I pulled my t-shirt up. Her slender fingers flickered across my skin, cold and impossibly light. She traced the set of scars there.

I remembered the conversation from years ago.

We were sitting at the pool in the Monterey Marriott. She was under the umbrella, sheltered from the sun, sprawled in a black one piece bathing suit. I was fresh from the pool, sitting on the chaise next to her, toweling myself dry. She was watching me with those eyes. She sat up and reached out and laid her hand on my side, her fingers tracing that same set of scars.

"Did you ever notice that the smallest of the scars nearly killed you and the largest of the scars saved your life?" She paused. Her eyes peered into mine. "I wonder, when we are done, if we will be small scars or large scars."

She kissed me and stood up and took a few quick steps and dove into the pool before I could answer.

Years later, in a hospital in Morgan Hill, I put my hand over hers and trapped her hand between the warmth of my skin and the warmth of my hand. I leaned down close to the fragile shell of her ear and I answered the question she never asked all those years ago.

"You ripped my heart out and left the largest scar of all."

She smiled and closed her eyes and fell back asleep.

On Monsters

I was walking back from lunch yesterday talking with my friend Don about the noise water heaters and furnaces make and I had a memory that made me laugh.

When I was young (probably around five or six, maybe younger) we lived on Jackson Boulevard in Rapid City in a small house - three bedrooms, one bath, and a full basement. To enter the basement you went down a rather steep, straight, wooden staircase. I was in the basement on some errand or the other and as I was leaving the basement I flipped the light switch off and started up the wooden stairs.

The water heater came on - with a thump…thump…thump-thump-thump-thump.

It sounded exactly like someTHING running up the stairs behind me! I screamed and dashed upwards hands and feet scrambling. Once at the top of the stairs of course, I realized what the cause was (perhaps my parents or one of my siblings explained it in fits of laughter). I laughed today with the memory - and I can still recall that moment of sheer terror as I fled up the stairs, pursued by the monsters of my imagination.

Now, all these years later, I laugh about it. But, stop and think about it. Of all the childhood incidents and accidents, that one sticks out strongly in my mind as me being truly, blindly, terrified. Through the years that have passed I have been scared, I have known moments of terror, but that one is extremely vivid. I am not sure if I was ever truly that afraid again in my life and I think about that and realize that it was a pure form of terror - the pure terror of the imagination, which can conjure far greater monsters than the real monsters of this life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


"When we have hope, we discover powers within ourselves we may
have never known. Once we choose hope, everything is possible." -
Christoper Reeves

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, January 12, 2009

A quote from Thomas More

...(To) take something from yourself, to give to another, that is
humane and gentle and never takes away as much comfort as it brings
again. Thomas More

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Communication Dreams

I woke this morning from a dream about miscommunication. In the dream I had sent an email to a list of people. The purpose of the email was to call out my top ten watercolor paintings from the show I went to at the Triton Museum of Art over the weekend. The show that I had particularly gone to see was the 2008 Statewide Watercolor Competition exhibition.

If you click on the exhibitions page you can see the description of the exhibition, which was very impressive (especially since I have minimal painting talent and I know that watercolor can be a challenging medium to work in).

In the dream I had called out my top ten paintings from the exhibition. I had cc'ed multiple people with the list and got a somewhat irate response from one person, demanding to know why I had sent them a list of paintings I didn't like and what was I implying about their painting. I was puzzled in the dream so I looked at the email and saw that in the subject line I had written something like "Top Ten Reasons I Don't Like Watercolors" - when I meant to type "I Like".

Outside of the dream I have no idea if the person who responded to the dream email even paints - I don't recall them ever mentioning it. I woke from the dream with that sense of how easy it is to get our communications tangled with people.

But, outside of the dream I had an enjoyable Sunday evening. I had a very nice phone call with a friend and then spent the rest of the evening watching the Golden Globes. I have already written about Slumdog Millionaire a couple of times, so I was glad to see it win - well deserved for a spectacular film. After the awards show was over I curled up in bed and read a bit (Michael Crichton's "Next") and then drifted off to sleep.

After waking from the dream I sort of stumbled and bumped my way through the morning - banged into a couple of things, couldn't find a couple of things, got frustrated by a couple of things and then made it out the door. Fortunately the commute into the office was smooth. My calendar is relatively light today, so I am anticipating a nice Monday at work.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Perfect Day

I am sitting in my car with the windows rolled down and the sun
shining on my face. It feels very good - that combination of sun and
breeze that makes California a small corner of paradise. I have two
loads of laundry in the dryer. I just finished a late lunch of
homestyle meatloaf, cornbread stuffing and whipped potatoes with
gravy, washed down with a tall glass of rootbeer. Ahhhhhhh.

It has been a nice day here. I went out about mid-day and have spent
most of the day just wandering in and out of the sun. I am not sure
what the temperature is, feels like the mid to high sixties. There are
some high wispy clouds.

At this moment, I am well with the moment and enjoying it immensely.
Who knows what the next moment will bring, but I am looking forward to
it's arrival. I am going to walk down the street to Orchard Supply
Hardware and see if they have anything for sale on there dollar days
sale that I have to have.

While I am there I will engage in the great hobby of people watching.
It is a perfect day for it.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Very Cute Star Wars Video

One of the SI roomies shared this with me tonight.

It is great - Star Wars - as explained by a three year old.

Saturday I Went To The Triton

I spent most of the day just wandering in the sun. Sushi for lunch. A haircut. A car wash. A stop at the hardware store. Barnes & Noble. Big 5 Sports. The Triton Musuem.

I took some pictures while in Santa Clara, at the Triton Musuem - the link above takes you to an updated set of them on Flickr.

Met my nephew and my friend Tony at Ringer Hut (a Japanese Restaurant) for dinner. I had the chicken teriyaji bento. It was excellent. After dinner, we stood in the parking lot and watched that incredible moonrise. It was simply stunning.

Made it home, watched Jr. Bonner (Steve McQueen, directed by Sam Peckinpah - probably the best rodeo movie ever made). Tom and Tony headed out to see Slumdog Millionaire (which I had already seen). My nephew Tom says Danny Boyle changed his life with "A Life Less Ordinary", so I am fairly certain he is going to like the movie.

Myself, I opted for a quiet evening at home. Took a nice long hot bath. Watched a couple of episodes of Two and A Half Men. Watching an episode of House.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Morning Fog

This morning the fog swallowed the world - it was cool.

Today's Train Of Thought

I woke this morning with a train of thought running through my head. The train was something like this...

When we are young our parents try to teach us the wisdom they have learned over the years.
When we are adults we try and pull what wisdom we can from the things we experience, often not understanding the how's and the why's of it all.

When we become old, we find that the wisdom we had rejected in our youth and sought in our middle years has settled upon us, and it is often neither what we were taught nor what we sought.

I think that is the natural course of things. I am not really sure why it was on my mind when I woke up this morning. I don't recall coming out of a dream or anything - it was just a train of thought that was running through my brain.

I drove into work this morning in a very heavy fog. I like the fog (even though it slows traffic to a standstill). I like the otherworldiness of it. Today the sun burned the fog away in the blink of eye and we have been gifted with a cool, but bright, California day.

The weather forecast for the weekend is more sun and more blue sky and I am definitely looking forward to it - I will want to get out there and do some basking. Maybe find a big rock somewhere and lay on it like a giant lizard. I always threaten to do that at the office - find a bare patch of concrete and sprawl out and just lay there in the sun, but I usually manage to restrain myself.

I am looking forward to the weekend, though I don't have anything specific planned, I am sure I will be out enjoying that sun somewhere. Next weekend I have a four day weekend (my normal 9/80 day off and the holiday). I am looking forward to that as well.

The speed at which times passes is always kind of astounding to me. Tomorrow we will already be ten days into the new year. Somewhere on Sunday 1/100th of the 2009 will already be gone. As a guy obsessed with counting things - that is pretty cool.

I am going to chalk today up to one of those ordinary days that I love so much. Hope your day is ordinary as well, whoever you are, where ever you are.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Illusion of Mountains

When I leave the office I drive west down Highway 237. A portion of the drive gives me a nice view of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Last night, due to the nuances of atmosphere and distortion the mountians appeared to loom up into the sky, as if they were far greater than they really are.

I enjoyed the illusion of great height for my beloved Santa Cruz Mountains and it made me think of other illusions of mountains.

I thought of the troubles and challenges we sometimes face, how the angle of our view, the conditions of our environment, the tricks of perspective can all make those mountains seem massive. They can appear, to us, from our limited perspective, as towering edifices of stone and forest. And yet, when it comes down to it, they are only a few thousand feet tall.

When you climb in those mountains, no matter the weather conditions, no matter the perspectives, no matter the illusions and the tricks of the eye - they are still the same height. The daunting trails of a wintry day are the same trails of a summers day.

I think that is something to keep in mind when we deal with mountains and the illusion of mountains in our life.

*And now, for something completely different. Are you familiar with the old chestnut that, if there is a big enough earthquake, California will fall into the ocean? The faults along the coast of California are upthrust faults. California is not receding. California is growing. In the event of a major earthquake - it will get taller and rise farther from the ocean.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Truth of Us

Red leaves falling
Through the evening sky
Slowly going down
Like the dreams we'd spun

Red leaves lying
In a field of stone
The truth of us
Is just flesh and bone

The truth of us
Is just flesh and bone

There's a sea bird flying
On the evening winds
Riding on the current
Of all our sins

There's a sea bird spinning
On a sky of blue
Every single dream
I dream of you

Every single dream
I dream of you

The smell of rain
Lingers in the air
The memory of summer
Lingers in your hair

The smell of rain
And the coming night
Hunger in your eyes
And a shining light

Hunger in your eyes
And a shining light

Two lost lovers
In the evening winds
Riding on the current
Of all our sins

Riding on the current
Of all our sins

Two lost lovers
In a bed of stone
The truth of us
Is just flesh and bone

The truth of us
Is just flesh and bone

An Article on Happiness from WebMD

I was looking at something else and I stumbled across this article on WebMD. I thought it made some good points, so I decided to share it here. It lists six barriers to happiness and the solution to overcome those barriers. I pretty much agree with what it says.

Happiness Barrier No. 1: Complexity
Solution: Simplify

Happiness Barrier No. 2: A Breakneck Pace
Solution: Take a Pause

Happiness Barrier No. 3: Negativity
Solution: Let go

Happiness Barrier No. 4: Despair
Solution: Stay hopeful

Happiness Barrier No. 5: Suppressing sadness
Solution: Feel the real

Happiness Barrier No. 6: Navel-gazing
Solution: Connect with others

Colors of Fall 3

Colors of Fall 2

Colors of Fall 1

The Tao Stills The Monkey Mind

I woke this morning and the monkey-mind was doing a dance inside my head.

I made it a point to take a few minutes this morning and meditate on the here and the now, a few minutes to try and still the monkey mind and be where I was, not where I was not.

I opened an email from a list I subscribe to and one section of it contained a quote from the Tao.

It resonated with me as I attempted to still the monkey mind.

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, and compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and in thoughts you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself you reconcile all beings in the world.”

– Lao Tzu (Chapter 67, Tao Te Ching)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Elusive Thoughts

There are times when I sit down to write where the thoughts remain elusive. It is as if the thoughts themselves are not yet differentiated among themselves. They are there, they are moving about in their orbits, but they remain half glimpsed under the waters of a vast and still lake, currents, whose existence is only revealed in a drifting leaf on an otherwise undisturbed surface.

I think this evening is an evening similar to one of those still pools. I am enjoying it, sitting here, just watching that stillness. It is cool outside, nearing cold. The apartment is filled with small noises. Sometimes the rush of the heater fills the air with a soft white noise. When the heater falls quiet I can hear the small sounds. The ticking of the clock in the kitchen. The slight noises the freezer makes. The miscellaneous sounds from outside.

Well, I don't want to push the metaphor to far. It has been a nice quiet night that I have wandered through, reading, watching Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles on the DVR, in conversation with a dear friend, eating ham and bean soup, chasing it down with Neopolitan ice cream and a tall glass of water.

Not a bad night for elusive thoughts.

Perhaps a night crafted specifically for elusive thoughts.

Dreams of Identity

I woke this morning with a dreamt fragment. The dream was of a woman
whose husband had passed away. She had always believed him to be a
survivor of the death camps. However, after his death she, by chance,
saw a photograph that appeared to be him, except he was wearing the
uniform of a camp guard. The next fragment was of a bitter young man
who lived in seclusion in the English countryside. The reason for his
bitterness and seclusion was that he bore an almost complete
resemblence to an infamous criminal. Both dream fragments seemed to
hinge around questions of identity.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Art of Alfonse Mucha

Are you familiar with the art of Alfonse Mucha? My friends Pierre and Helen had a coffee table book of his work that they had received for Christmas, so a small portion of my day yesterday was spent gazing at it. I was very much enthralled with this particular piece, called Les Saissons (The Seasons). I thought I would share...

Three Stones Set On Flickr

I updated my Flickr site with a set I call "Three Stones" - I had posted one of them here a little earlier.

Carol Alt Stole My Friends Wife...

Okay, I had one of those weird dreams on Saturday morning that made me wake up laughing. In the dream, my friend Pierre's wife Helen was four months pregnant and Pierre had called me to commisserate - because his pregnant wife had run away with the supermodel Carol Alt!

I told Pierre and Helen about the dream at dinner last night and we all got a good laugh out of it. I have no idea why I dreamt she ran away with Carol Alt. I hadn't even thought of Carol Alt consciously, but of course, in our media saturated society it is entirely possible that I had seen or passed by her image or heard her name in the context of some half heard news blurb.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Course of an Ordinary Saturday

Today was a very good day.

The focus of the day was largely external.

After lingering in the morning over coffee and toast with cream cheese
and strawberries I spent a little time writing I went over to help
some friends rearrange their garage.

I should learn to be careful of the things I volunteer for!
Rearranging the garage mostly consisted of climbing up and down a
ladder about a hundred times.

I am sore now so I am definitely going to feel it in the morning! I
will be limping and walking slow. Tonight's plan is a hot soaking bath
before curling up to read.

After the garage we had dinner at Chevy's (chicken tamales, rice,
refried beans, sweet corn tomatillo and a chiquita sundae), we watched
the movie "Forbidden Kingdom". It is a modern cheesy Chinese sword
movie - with Jackie Chan and Jet Li. It was enjoyable in the company
of friends.

I drove home and passed or was passed by three CHP cars, so they were
definitely out in force. I was hoping to talk with a dear friend
tonight but I am afraid the cruel math of time zones means they are
snug and sleeping a country away.

Time zones can be vexing.

My plan tomorrow is breakfast, mass, laundry and maybe a matinée, then
some quiet time writing and working on my new years resolutions.

Tonight though it is time for a very hot bath and a good book (I am
finishing Dean Koontz's "Your Heart Belongs To Me" . Unfortunately it
is no Odd Thomas. It is enjoyable but not his best.)

Sent from my iPhone=

Friday, January 2, 2009

Dream Upon Waking From A Nap Today

Dreamt I was at the old ranch south of St. Francis and it was a dark
night and we were fighting off the alien invaders. Then, in the second
part of the dream I was here in California and my nephew was an air
crewman and was getting ready to go off to fight the aliens (hints of
a generational war). There were towering black thunderclouds rolling
overhead and high in the sky you could see gold pinpoints of light
swooping in and out of the thunderstorms and I told him "look up,
tonight you can see the gods battling for heaven and earth". An FA-18
swept overhead low enough to read the printing in the side and to
rattle the entire apartment.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The First Day

If the first step into the new year sets the tone for the remainder of
the year than I like this year already. I started the day with the
visual feast that is the Rose Bowl parade. I had a nice breakfast at
Holdens. I ran a handful of incidental errands on a gray but pleasant
day. I talked with a couple of friends. I took a long nap. I had a
great conversation on the phone. I ate a big bowl of chicken soup. I
watched a little television and now I a curling up in bed with a good
book and planning to read myself to sleep. I am planning to sleep
tomorrow until I am done. A very auspicious start to the new year.
Happy New Year and welcome to 2009.

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