Sunday, March 29, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
and non-citizens must drink iced coffee and eat lemon cake at sidewalk
tables. I know this is true because I just made it up and it is a
quantum universe after all.
sky, a temp of 65, and a slight breeze. I made the most of the morning
doing nothing. Breakfast, coffee, watching "The Mexican" on HBO.
Simply an excellent morning. I am going to head out in a few minutes
and drive up to Sacramento with a friend of mine to pick up a
motorcycle part and the grab some lunch. Depending on the traffic it
should be a five hour roundtrip, putting me home mid-afternoon.
Tonight's plan is dinner with the nephew and then a quiet evening. My
nephews birthday is Sunday so he and some friends of his are
celebrating tonight - I might join them for a while, but we'll see.
I'll make that call when the moment arrives. So, for now, I am heading
out into that beautiful morning.
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Thursday, March 26, 2009
I was thinking of happiness tonight as I drove home. I was thinking about how elusive some people find it. I am essentially a happy person. I tend to think that the natural human state, all things considered, is happiness. I think that sometimes in the hurly-burly of life we can forget that.
I have a simple formula for finding happiness, for dwelling in happiness. Simply choose those things that make you happy. It is simple, but not simplistic. When you find yourself in circumstances that make you unhappy, simply take a moment, stop, and see if you can determine what it is that is making you unhappy. You can use the "five why's" trick which is a pretty good exploratory tool for many things. You simply ask the question "why" five times. It pretty quickly strips away the superficial and gets to the heart of the matter.
I always recommend writing down the question and the subsequent answers. The psyche can be a slippery place. Once you've laid down the five answers to the five why's, take some time off and then come back to it. Then, as you look at each of you answers, ask yourself one simple question - is it a truthful answer? Often times we will find that rather than truthfully answering the questions we will be trying to shape and craft the answers to fit our preconceived notions, so expect to go through the process several times.
Additionally, as you use the technique to find the root causes of your unhappiness (or anything for that matter) you'll find you become better at it. You will learn to almost instantly recognize when you are trying to give yourself a convenient answer. It is also not unusual to be unable to reach the fourth or fifth why, by you have to keep driving. I think there is a human tendency to try and jump right to the answer.
Now, I think there are two types of unhappiness (just as there are two types of happiness). There is general (our overall condition which tends to remain fairly constant) and specific (the immediate condition which tends to rise and fall based on immediate circumstances and environment). It is obviously much easier to find happiness if your general condition is already there and it is just specific incidents and accidents that make you unhappy. Use the technique on specific moments of unhappiness and gradually expand it to the general condition as you become more comfortable with it.
It's pretty easy to understand and apply the process. The second trick, equally simple, but far more of a challenge, is to simply "do it differently". We humans are creatures of habit for better and for worse. We are creatures of patterns, patterns honed by repetition, patterns shaped by the uneven positive and negative reinforcements of life. Life itself rarely draws in bright lines. In life, most of the time, the lines are blurred and smudged together as we assign value to events and outcomes based on arbitrary standards that may vary. There is nothing wrong with that at all, but in terms of changing our behavior, it is something to be aware of.
We invest a lot in our patterns, so we are often very reluctant to change them. We are far more likely to keep repeating them and hoping for a different result, largely because we are unaware of the specifics of the patterns that determine the results. By carefully examining our patterns, by increasing our awareness of ourselves, we can find some pretty elusive things - including that elusive state of happiness, be it general or specific. If you are decidedly unhappy, give it a try. If you are not quite happy, give it a try. It you are mostly happy, give it a try.
Our natural state is the state of happiness. Returning to that natural state is simple. Challenging, but simple.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I believe probability is the language of the universe.
I believe pragmatism is the only philosophy that works.
I believe in free will and the transformative power of choice.
I believe that happiness is our natural compass.
I believe the human soul is eternal.
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thought I would take a few minutes and share it because it was weird
and I am going to blame Repairman Jack. (I just started reading "By
The Sword", a Repairman Jack novel by F. Paul Wilson.)
I dreamt I was in a French manor. It was late at night. A cabal of men
in dark suits had gathered for the presentation of Villier's Head.
This was an ritual designed to celebrate their triumph over there
greatest enemy and celebrate thier power.
The dream was very clear on the presentation being of Villier's head.
I woke up and googled. The most prominent historical figure I found
was George Villiers - the 2nd Duke of Buckingham. He seems to have led
an interesting life. Pity about his head.
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Monday, March 23, 2009
wicked bout of stomach flu that kept me up all night in a half way
Yesterday was a day that will ultimately inspire the writings of other
days. I tried writing about it a couple of times today but I am
emotionally too close at this point.
So, in the shadows of a personal tempest and the aftermath of stomach
flu I did everything I could today to stay focused and centered. It
wasn't easy. I wanted to spin off center a couple of times, but didn't.
That is one of the advantages of age and experience - perspective.
When I am feeling sorrowful it is a fairly simple thing
for me to reflect on those far, far darker places I've been through.
It does not lessen how acutely we may be feeling something, but it
does place it in perspective.
The present is what it is. The future will unfold as it will. We are
but ships on the seas of fate, our course is not decision, but destiny.
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Sunday, March 22, 2009
With a single shaft of gold
Streaming through the window
That woke me from
An arcane dream
Filled me with an
But a storm was gathering
Swept in with fierce winds
A Shakespearian Tempest
From the Bard's pen
With ink the blackness of night
Still it batters
The roof, the shutters, the door
And I, I shall draw on my coat
Venture into it
Soon enough, soon enough
At the risk of being
The storm, I have been
This cold wind that sears
Through my heart
Chills the blood within me
But I have also been
That morning shaft of golden light
Which I am by the
End of the Tempest
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Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
(This was my entry over at the One Minute Writer for Friday Fiction, hope you enjoy.)
We started back tracking the animal to see where it came from. Ultimately, the back track led us far deeper into this rough and forbidding terrain. The woman was a very skillful driver as we negotiated passage through rock and hillocks. There were a couple of times where I was climbing tightly to the roll bar for fear that the Jeep was going to overturn, but she always successfully kept us right side up.
After a few miles of heading in a southeasterly direction we came upon another dead horse, lying in a small valley between two hillocks. We left the Jeep there and unpacked two large backpacks of equipment and set out on foot. We moved very cautiously, crawling to the rim of each ridge and peering over it. We continued this way for several miles before we reached a point where the ridge we were on fell off to a great still lake.
At the far side of the lake we could see a compound of buildings. We made our way cautiously down the side of the ridge to a position near the edge of the lake. We hunted around for a while and found a cave that gave us a position of good shelter and an unrestricted view of the compound across the lake.
We spend several minutes putting together what looked like a pair of surveying lasers on heavy tripods. Both devises were connected together with cabling and joined in a control mechanism. The woman turned the device on and calibrated it with the control. Then, we put on amber goggles and something that looked like a lightweight hazmat suit. I knew (in the dream) that they were to protect us from radiation burns.
Looking at the compound across the lake through the amber goggles we could see that it was surrounded by some sort of energy shield. The woman turned on the device and began playing it across the energy field. Every time she did the compound erupted in invisible anti-aircraft and anti-missile fire. At first, it was very targeted and controlled.
The woman would run the device, the compound would fire back into the air, and we repeated the process several times. Each time the fire from the compound (twin flashes of light, spinning off in all directions) became more and more furious. I realized that what the woman was doing was spoofing an automated defense system on the compound. What every signal she was sending was being interpreted by the automated defense system as an attack and it was responding accordingly.
After spoofing the defenses several times the woman did it once more, this time provoking a furious cascade of fire that lit up the night sky and then suddenly…ended. A moment later a single drone skipped overhead at low altitude with the quite roar of a muffled fan-jet engine, leveled off over the lake and unleashed two missiles, which arced out and stuck the compound, destroying it. I realized what the woman had been doing was depleting the compounds automated defenses so it was vulnerable to attack. I understood, in the dream, that this was all part of a secret (and invisible) war that was going on with hostile aliens.
It was a very cool dream in an almost complete narrative.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
It is in the warm sun that caresses the skin through the cool breezes. It is in the white flowers of the trees. It is in the star jasmine blooming everywhere. It is in the sound of kids playing soccer in the courtyard of the apartment complex. It is in a lazy rambling walk, listening to Madeleine Peyroux on the iPod. It is in the clean breeze floating through the apartment. It is in the strangers in the parking lot of the grocery store trying to tie the kayak down on the roof of their Honda. It is in the flock of high school kids in white t-shirts and black shorts running through the neighborhood. It is in the old African ladies standing in front of the building, gossiping, who smile and wave as I pull into the parking lot. I love it.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
"But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places we can still sense the source: a play of pure power that - when you feel it - brings you to your knees."
That got me thinking about what brought me to my knees today...
I began the day in a prayer. I woke up and the first thing I did was say a small prayer of thanks for life and for the day. Sometimes I wake up and my first impulse is to take a moment or two and drop to my knees beside the bed.
I often pray as I move though the day, usually short little prayers of gratefulness. My own little way of saying "Hey, God, I just saw that! That was cool!" I think life continually surrounds us with mystery and majesty. All we need to do is take a few moments to notice it.
There are times though when I feel the necessity to pray on my knees. Part of it is a Catholic upbringing of course, but part of it is a tremendous sense of humility. I love God. God and I have a complex relationship that spans decades. Sometimes we've been close and sometimes we haven't. I consider God as a constant companion who is always there with me, wherever I happen to be. God is mostly silent. It is the comfortable silence you find with those that know you. The silence where words are unnecessary.
God, Life, Creation, Nature, Mystery - they all just fill me with a tremendous sense of awe. It is that sense of awe, wrapped in either the grandly complex or the simply sublime that sometimes brings me to my knees. It doesn't drive me to my knees. It doesn't force me to my knees. It brings me to my knees. I want to go there. I want to kneel in humility before God and simply say - "I saw that. That was far to cool. Thank you." Then we high five and I get on with the day.
Two nights with short and choppy sleep. One night with what was
probably too much sleep. I'm moving through the day mostly on autopilot.
I went out to lunch today. I walked over to the cafe. I walked around
and looked at everything. Nothing appealed to me. I gave up and
started walking back to the office. About halfway back it dawned on me
that I was...really hungry. Appealing or not I had to eat something.
So, that something turned out to be a turkey tarragon soup. And that
turned out to be more of a celery and onion tarragon soup that may or
may not have actually had anything to do with turkey. It was edible.
After lunch I came back to the office and I am now sitting here on a
training teleconference that is drawing to a close. It was relatively
boring. Once it ends, I am going to go out and take a short fast walk
and hope a little bit of bloodflow helps. If it doesn't I am
definitely destined for a nap a the end of the working day.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
awake. I am here. I am blinking. I am typing. I am drinking coffee, so
I must be pretty close to being awake. Getting up for work yesterday
knocked my sleep pattern around pretty hard. I slept through the night
last night in an hour and a half cycle. Sleep, wake, sleep, wake,
sleep, wake and then get up and go to work. Actually, considering the
lack of sleep I feel pretty bright eyed and bushy tailed. I am sure
there is a wall waiting for me out there somewhere, but I think as
long as I stay focused and on task, I should make it!
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Monday, March 16, 2009
crisply and cleanly to sleep last night, so I was relatively bright
eyed this morning. I logged on and worked virtually for a pair of
hours as I had my morning cup of coffee and a hot bowl of oatmeal. I
spilled milk on my shirt, which necessitated a change of clothing and
a second shower.
The crisis of the day was resolved, so I ran through the shower and
then started my morning commute. I was early enough that traffic was
mostly light and the commute was smooth. I was listening to Melissa
Etheridge as I drove through the morning darkness and I thought of the
vast "commonality of the commuter". All of those millions of people
who were doing exactly what I was doing - with minor variations.
For some unfathomable reason it made me think of Liszt's Variations on
a Theme of Bach. If you are unfamiliar with it, Liszt takes the
descending bass lines from the opening of a Bach sonata and expands on
it. It is a beautiful, if tortured, piece of music.
Once in the office I have settled in for the day, which should be
fairly routine. One of our customers is out for a three day meeting.
My boss and a couple of my analysts will be attending and I will be
holding down the fort while they are meeting so my day should pass
I've been struggling against a bit of writers block the last week or
so and it is starting to feel like it is going to break free this
week, so I am looking forward to that - I am curious as to what is
going to pop out.
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Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday itself was pretty busy. I chatted online a bit in the morning, then went on an errand with a friend of mine to pick up a wood lathe he'd boughten. I was little more than hired muscle. After that, I was off to teach a class. From there, I socialized with friends and made the quick run home. At home, I spend some time on the phone in a great little conversation, and from there, a late dinner and then I fell asleep.
Today, I didn't really do anything. I basically just lazed around the house. I didn't have anything that had to be done and I didn't have anything that needed to be done, so I did nothing. I read, I wrote, I surfed, I watched some movies on TV, I listened to the Pogues. I went out to dinner with my friend T.S. at Frankie, Johnny and Luigi II in Westgate, then stopped at the store on the way home to pick up a new halogen lightbulb, some bread and some milk.
It is surprisingly nice to have a weekend where nothing significant happened. I noted on the calendar that it was the Ides of March. I thought of Shakespeare. I thought of Caesar. That was about the extent of any deep thoughts I managed today. I highly doubt I am going to manage to pull another deep thought out of this brain before it turns off for the evening. I highly doubt I am going to try.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I was on my knees and there were two men standing near me - one was the executioner and the other was the witness. The execution method was to stab me through the heart with a spear, but it was obvious to me that the executioner was unsure of how to best do it. So, I was telling them how it was done.
The best approach I told them was to hold my left arm up above my head, for the witness to hold it tightly and to brace my body against his thighs, so that I wouldn't try to pull away from the spear. Then the executioner was to take the spear and thrust it in through my armpit at a slight downward angle.
If he made sure the spear blade was horizontal to the ground, it would slip in between the ribs and make a clean wound, severing the brachial artery on the way to the heart (which in itself is quickly fatal). I assured them that it would be relatively painless for me if he thrust quickly.
It was vivid dream - and I thought two things were interesting in the dream. First, I was not afraid or apprehensive about being executed, but rather I was concerned with the form of it, I was concerned that it be done correctly and efficiently. There was no sense of injustice. I obviously felt that, whatever the cause of my being executed was, it was a just cause. Second of course, I did not actually dream I was being executed, I dreamt I was about to be executed.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Work went pretty smoothly today - I came in early to get a good jump on the day because I had a block of meetings in the middle of the day and it worked out well. Besides getting a chance to see that stunningly beautiful moon I managed to resolve a few customer issues that had been lingering. There is also always one big advantage to coming into work early in the morning and that is the nine hours of a normal work day end in the early afternoon, giving me plenty of time to wander my way home and laze into the evening - which is exactly what my plan is tonight.
My nephew Tom, who has lived with me the last year and a half, moved out on Friday. He didn't move far, he just moved into a shared duplex with a friend of his about a half mile away (a ten minute walk or so). I am sure I will miss him at some point, but right now I am relishing having my own space back. It is…very nice. That is one of the reasons I am looking forward to going home in the evening. Does that make me a bad person? LOL - no, I don't think it does. There are plenty of other things that can make me a bad person, so that one doesn't even register on the scale of good and bad in my book.
My plan tonight is pretty simple - I think I am going to order a pizza, open the blinds so the sun floods the living room, and read and write my way into the night. I will most likely monkey with the camera for a while. I may pop online and wander the chat rooms for a while. I may do a little incidental cleaning in the house. I may do all of the above or I may do none of the above. I love those kind of evenings where I have nothing that has to be done burning at me.
(Update: Pizza has arrived, I am going to settle in, eat pizza and watch a National Geographic program on Blue Whales. An excellent start to the evening.)
Monday, March 9, 2009
As I have gone through the process of online journaling I have discovered that there are things in my life that I simply don't write about or I don't write about them often and I thought that having a bit more formal of an organizational structure would help me chronicle those areas. Over the last year I have read some very good journals (very good being a highly subjective thing) which exposed me to the wide variety of possibilities within the medium.
I considered starting additional blog's, but in reading about blogging I encountered quite a few online writers who tried it and then abandoned it because they found themselves neglecting one (or more) of their alternate blogs. I haven't totally abandoned the idea yet, but at this point I am not inclined to go there. So, I am going to give this a try and see how it works.
I spent a couple of hours cleaning the kitchen, pretty much top to bottom, including the refrigerator, the stove top, and the oven. I cleaned all the counter-tops and cupboards as well. At the end of several hours I had a very shiny kitchen and a very empty refrigerator.
From there, I packed several baskets and headed down to the Laundromat, where I did several loads. In between loads I wandered around Westgate West and just peeked into places. I stopped at OSH and bought a new pad and cover for my ironing board.
When my laundry was finished I packed it up and went home and then circled back out and went to Safeway to restock the aforementioned refrigerator.
Interwoven through the day were telephone calls and emails from friends and family and loved ones. All in all, in the scheme of things, I considered it one very nice day - well spent in very ordinary things.
The shift over to daylight savings time didn't really affect me on Sunday, but I felt it this morning when I had to get up and come into work. Even now my eyelids are drooping a bit and I am in need of a nap.
The morning here at work has been fairly busy - not chaotic, but verging on the chaotic. In other words, it has been and continues to be a typical Monday morning. The sun is shining brightly out there and the sky is a brilliant blue, even though it remains a bit on the chilly side. It was forty-four degrees when I drove into the office this morning and now the temperature is hovering around forty-eight degrees.
Our long stretch of rain was starting to get to me, like it usually does. As much as I like the rain, I am often very glad when it is finished and the sun light returns. With the switch to daylight savings time I am exciting about getting the evenings back! I love walking and it is much nicer taking that walk when there is still a little bit of sun to enjoy. All neighborhoods look alike in the dark. In the subtleties of the twilight each takes on its own magical characteristics.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
times, got a drink of water and then went back to sleep. I finally
rolled out about nine a.m. and took a shower. I fired up the coffee
pot, made a bowl of Special K, and then went online and chatted for a
while. Some of the chats were pleasant and others were the usual
drama. In short, an ordinary morning.
The gift of the day though is the sun beaming from a bright blue sky.
I am currently sitting in line at the car wash with a couple of dozen
other people who also thought "today would be a great day to go get
the car washed". This car was has a coffee shop, being California and
all, so soon enough I will have a cup of hot coffee in hand and I'll
be sitting in the sun and basking.
And as quick as that - I am! There is a cool breeze blowing out of the
west, but the sun is brightly shining and the blue sky is beautiful. A
wonderful day for wandering.
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Friday, March 6, 2009
I woke from a dream of work that I promptly forgot.
I was paged by Jessica Rabbit.
I lounged in a warm bed.
I finished Christopher Moore's "Fool" and laughed and giggled myself
awake and now have a strange desire to have a pet monkey who is French
and named Jeff, after the famous French ruler Jeff, the Queen of
Now I am going to take a shower and start the day.
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Thursday, March 5, 2009
the stalls at the farmers market on Kooser. It was a bright day, the
market was crowded, it was clear and hot and I was in shirt sleeves.
The sun was warm and wonderful. I woke from the dream into a gray,
cold, and rainy California morning! I was disappointed to say the
least. The first day of spring is the 20th and I suspect I am ready
for the sun to make it's triumphant return.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2009
It kind of amazes me how much environmental sounds can impact us - I would say that, for me at least, in the office environment and in the home, discordant sounds are disorienting. Fortunately, at home, I can usually alter the soundscape by dropping something into the stereo, by turning something on or off, by moving from one room to another. It is not quite that easy in the office, though, to a smaller degree I can do the same thing.
I wonder if there is any book or seminar that teaches a person on how to either create a soundscape or to improve thier soundscape? It seems to me like it would be a natural subject - though, I must say, I am not particularly a fan of new age style of music - I prefer my music with lyrics, since I tend to be so powerfully driven by the stories wrapped inside of songs. Though I like music, if I run through my list of favorite performers, it is often the lyrical content of their songs that attracts, holds me, and draws me back time and time again.
"No, history is everything that is current and in the past."
"What about the future, is it current, because the future is there now?"
"Well, no, it's there now but it is still in the future."
"It's currently in the future than?"
"Yes, history is everything that is current and in the past and is not
in the future, even if it is currently in the future."
"Okay, can anyone actually repeat what was just said, because I am
currently confused and I suspect I am going to be confused in the
I wish I could make stuff like that up. I suspect sometimes I work for
Abbott & Costello, LLC.
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009
had a few phone calls, I just get back online to check email and maybe
chat a little - and the rain storm wins. I lose network and a few
minutes later power.
It suddenly becomes a perfect evening for reading Christopher Moore by
the hurricane lamp! The glow of the lamp, a good book, the stillness
and the sound of rain. Sometimes this world is a beautiful place...
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