Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Photography: Sushi Boat Westgate, San Jose

Photography: Sushi for Dinner

Daily Life: When Flying Monkeys Attack

The working day started for me with a hard sprint through the morning.
I arrived at work to discover a server based problem in one of my
vendor hosted systems. When attempting a certain transaction customers
were hitting an undefined error screen. So, we did the preliminary
checks (where you quickly rule out obvious causes, document the error
conditions and sequencing, then capture the error itself), and then
notified the vendor. The vendors engineers jumped on it and resolved
it in about two hours - well within their service level agreements.

But, in the corporate world things tend to take on a life of their
own. My morning was spent answering many customer queries. For the
first half of the morning it was "yes, we are aware of it, yes we are
working to fix it, no we don't know when it will be fixed". Then the
second half of the morning was "yes, we are aware of it, yes, we fixed
it, and yes, we sent general system status notifications".

I swear I answered fifty variants of the same question. After I've
answered the same question the thirtieth or so time I have to start
resisting the urge to send out a general note that says something like
"we've successfully turned back the alien incursion, and we want to
insure you we remain in control of the corporate vending machine

If you haven't watched it yet - I would like to recommend the comedy
show "Better Off Ted", which my dear Rae turned me on to. It is an
amusing sitcom and anyone who has ever spent time in corporate America
can definitely relate to it!

I've finished lunch (a mediocre turkey and white bean soup) and am now
ready to wander back to the office and tackle the rest of the day. I
am craving sushi for dinner, so that is my tentative plan once I make
it through the rest of this otherwise cool and beautiful Wednesday.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daily Life: Subtle Variations

It has been a very quiet night and I have been wanting to write, but no single topic or incident or event of the day has leapt out through my fingertips. I've had an enjoyable little dinner and a quiet evening at home. There is a lot to be said for those evenings when nothing is going on.

I often remember the times when I was so busy that I dashed through the evening and I sure appreciate them. My eyelids were getting heavy earlier in the evening and then they seemed to rally for a while and now they are wandering back into the heavy zone. I suspect that when I curl up with a book and read for a while it will be a very small journey from reading into the deep embrace of sleep. I've been quiet since I came home and it looks like I am going to finish up with a little bit more of that stillness I have come to value.

Oh, I just thought of something to write about - so let me explore it a little before I fade off into a dream. When I was driving into work this morning I was thinking about the subtle differences that can shape two very different days. Monday I was feeling a little frazzled as I headed into the office - for no particular reason, just a little edgy. Today, I headed in and I was calm and collected. As near as I could tell there was no real difference between either the form or the content of the morning. Perhaps there was some intangible difference I could not discern - but it did start me wondering about the subtle differences in a day.

Life is a tremendously subtle thing. In any given day there are a thousand variations on the theme of the day. I wonder if there is a threshold that makes the difference between one day and the next, a subtle threshold that we can sense at some deeper level and response to it at a deeper level, and it, in turn colors our day. I would suspect there was. I would suspect that the difference between yesterday and today was one of those many subtle variations. I will have to think about that for a while as I wonder off to sleep.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Observations: The Second Time Around

I've had a song running through my brain most of the day so far (it got lodged there because I have the CD in high rotation on my iPod play list). It is from the Indigo Girl's new CD "Poseidon and the Bitter Bug" and the song is called "Second Time Around." The particular lyric that I have trapped in my head is:

"Here's what I find about compromise, don't do it if it hurts inside, cause either way you're screwed, eventually you'll find, you may as well feel good, you may as well have some pride."

I find that it comes close to explaining my position on compromise. It's not a rock solid position, but, in general, in the course of my life, I have found that for the most part, when you compromise (with the rare exception of when it is a true compromise - a true meeting in the middle), you will end up regretting it. It may be a small regret. It may be a large regret. Most likely it will fall somewhere on the middle of that spectrum. But you will regret it.

I find the sentiment holds true in both my personal life and my professional life. You may gain when you compromise. You may even be able to measure the gain and the gain may be greater than what you would have received if you had not compromised. But that seed is going to lay in there until it finds fertile ground and grows into regret.

In the early nineties I went through a protracted period of soul-searching where I found the answers to some of my questions - if not the specific answers, then the form of the answers to come. I came out of that time with a triple resolution that altered my life. I vowed three things to myself.

First, I vowed that I would never again do something I did not want to do.

Second, I vowed that if I was working in a job and I got up one morning and did not want to go to work (not in the sense of a single day, but in the sense that the work was wrong for me), that I would go in and resign that day.

Third, I vowed that I would do what I thought was the right thing to do in each circumstance, regardless of what other people around me thought.

The middle vow (about work) came out of the work environment that I had just exited at the time. It had been a good enough job - I worked with good people - but the work content had been grinding and soul-sucking. Do you recall that game you play as a child? Where you imagine you are an animal? I had been driving into work one day and come to the sudden realization that I had become a worker ant! I got up. I went to work. I did stuff. I went home. Repeat until your soul dies.

Since that was a larger item, I have never broken that particular vow. Armed with that vow I have always (since then) paid careful attention to work content, to what the position or profession required that I do, and since then I have pretty much consistently enjoyed the various manifestations of my profession.
The first vow I have broken several times, always to my regret, and I think that is why that particular lyric echoes with me. I won't go into the details of what breaking that first vow involved (they are mostly irrelevant), but each had the same framework - I did something that I felt pressured into doing. I generally knew that I was making a mistake as I did it, but I often felt I was making the best of bad choices.

The third vow I have also broken several times but there is a key difference between being compelled to do something you don't want to do (you take an action) and not doing something you feel you should have done (you do not take an action). All thoughts aside, what impacts us in this life are mostly the things we do and fail to do. If you fail to do something, you can "make up" for it by either doing it at a later time, or perhaps by doing an equivalent action later in time. If you do something - you cannot undo it. It is done.

So, I think my advice there, based on thirty years as an adult would be this -

"Here's what I find about compromise, don't do it if it hurts inside, cause either way you're screwed, eventually you'll find, you may as well feel good, you may as well have some pride."

Sharing: Octavio Paz

"To read a poem is to hear it with our eyes; to hear it is to see it
with our ears." - Octavio Paz

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Daily Life: I Washed A Fork

I just finished up reading the San Jose Mercury News on my Kindle 2 and thought about turning on the television, but it is a beautifully quiet evening here. I have the patio doors wide open and a circulating fan is moving a cool breeze around the living room. I thought that I would log on and write a journal entry since I haven't written much this weekend.

I thought what all happened over the weekend and what I could write about and I flashed on a moment that happened Friday that epitomized the weekend for me.

On Friday I was doing dishes and I washed a fork.

I was there, very purely, in that moment as I washed the fork. That was pretty cool. It wasn't enlightenment by fork washing (though, that would be a very zen thing). It was just washing a fork. It was just the purity of the moment. I think that sums up the weekend pretty well.

Oh yes, I did other things. Quite a few other things. I had breakfast with a friend. I taught a class. I went to a gathering of friends and ate good food. I watched Yojimbo on DVR. I caught up on episodes of "The Unusuals". I did laundry. I cleaned some in the apartment. I read some more William Gibson. I read the newspaper. I spoke with family. I spoke with friends. I wrote e-mails. I chatted a little.

But, if I were to sum up the weekend, I would simply say - "I washed a fork."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Photography: Helen's Pink Rose

Photography: Helen's Red Rose

Daily Life: Dream Fragments

I dreamt of a old ring
I dreamt of a donkey cart
I dreamt of a village pub
I dreamt of a wedding

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poetry: Mysteries in the Rhythm and the Rhyme

I hear the clink of a silver spoon
Spinning inside a coffee cup
I blink myself awake into the sun
I roll out of the bed and stand up

I slip into my old blue jeans
I button up my favorite shirt
I remember those wilder days
As I shrug through the morning hurt

Broken bones leave the echo
Of those moments trapped in time
Half remembered songs recall
Mysteries in the rhythm and the rhyme

I hear the sound of bacon in the pan
I smell the scent of biscuits on the rise
I hear the whisper of your feet
I hear the sound of your sighs

I find you in the kitchen dancing
Slowly across that hardwood floor
Stunned to stillness I stop and watch
Leaning against the open door

Broken bones leave the echo
Of those moments trapped in time
Half remembered songs recall
Mysteries in the rhythm and the rhyme

I think about the things I did right
I think about the things I did wrong
I watch you spinning on the floor
I watch you lost inside the song

You start when you see me standing there
Then twirl with a twinkle in your eye
You bare feet sliding across the floor
You pull me close inside your sigh

Broken bones leave the echo
Of those moments trapped in time
Half remembered songs recall
Mysteries in the rhythm and the rhyme

Daily Life: My Restive Mood Continues

I woke this morning in that same restive mode that I ended yesterday in. It dawned on me this morning that there may be a correlation with the weather. Over the last four days our temperature here has gone from 95 (Monday) to low 47 last night (Wednesday). That is a pretty impressive 48 degree temperature swing. According to the weather channel we are going to spend the next couple of days, through the weekend, in the high sixties and low seventies, but with sunshine.

I wrote extensively about Sunday earlier in the week - that was just a dang good day, all in all. I think that day has cast a shadow that is flowing across the entire week (in a good way). My restive mood is not a bad mood, it is just a restive mood and I can just roll with that. I think part of what may have fueled the mood as well was the deliberate decision on my part to not do very much as we moved through the heat wave. In life I have certainly learned that you do not fight the weather - you roll with the weather, you respect the weather, you accept the weather. The weather is the tiger and you are the tail as far as that relationship goes.

My thoughts were wondering all over the place as I started the morning and made that commute in. I drove down Williams and stopped at the coffee shop near Williams and Moorpark and saw a near collision between a big white truck and a small car. The small car was moving along at a good clip and the truck make a turn into a parking lot, but the driver of the truck made the turn without hitting his brakes - he just kind of slowed down in the lane and let the truck roll down to a slow enough speed to make the turn and the small car never noticed until they were right on the truck and then they did a hard brake and a sharp jolt to the side to dodge it. It would have been one of those pointless accidents where both drivers contributed. The truck driver should have signaled and the car driver should have been paying more attention.

I got my coffee and headed up Lawrence Expressway, listening to NPR for part of the while (the troubles of the auto industry), and then I switched over to the CD player and started listening to the Indigo Girls new album "Poseidon and the Bitter Bug" (which was released a few weeks ago - March 24, 2009). I really like it. I have listened through it a couple of times and plan on plugging in the ear phones and listening to it some more when the morning meetings pass by and the afternoon calm settles in. The commute in was mostly smooth, but my mind was all over the place, for a wide variety of reasons, having imaginary conversations, musing on things that often had nothing to do with nothing.

There was one particularly beautiful sight this morning. As I came up Lawrence (which runs north-south) I could see the mountains to the north-east of San Jose. They had clouds spilling over them in dark shades of gray. It was quite striking.

Then, just past Lawrence and 101 there was a three car accident that had traffic a little tangled. Once I got past the accident I got stuck behind a mosquito fighter of a car that was leaving a wonderful blue trail of gasoline smelling smoke behind it. Then I drove by the Sunnyvale dump, with the wondrous scent of methane filling the air. It was a short tour of bad smells!

I am spending most of the morning in teleconferences (of the type that I refer to as "listen meetings") where my primary role is to listen to the teleconference and keep an ear out for any interconnecting pieces that might impact my operations and to serve as an information resource if any questions in my sphere of influence arise. I am going to spend some time today (and perhaps tonight) exploring this restive mood I am in. Though I suspect the primary drivers behind it are the physical restrictions due to the bad foot and the changes in weather, there may be something else underlying it. Either way, it is a good excuse to be introspective today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Daily Life: The Evening Turns Restive

After two days of pounding heat it was much nicer today here in San Jose. It is cooling off outside and after a good dinner and a great telephone call, I opened the apartment all the way up and kicked on a couple of fans to get the fresh cool air moving through the place. It is very pleasant.

The combination of the cooler evening and the relative quiet (with only the background hum of the fans) turned my thoughts restive. I had to double check that word in the dictionary to make sure I had picked the right one. Sitting here and thinking about it, I am sure part of it due to the stress fracture in my foot and the limitations it has placed on me. I have an extra layer of energy that wants to get burned off by walking or running, neither of which I am supposed to do for a while.

Now that I think about it, I have turned restive on the drop of a dime a few times in the last couple of weeks. I spent part of the evening going through notes on writing short fiction. I've been feeling the urge to write a few stories lately but they haven't quite come together to the point where I want to actually sit down and write (outside of this journal of course, where I have fallen into the habit of being fairly consistent about it).

Tomorrow will be my last day of work for a three day weekend, so maybe I will dedicate part of that weekend to writing, if I am in the mood. Since I was out and about all of last weekend, I am inclined to keep it close to home this weekend, but that can also change on a moments notice. There is nothing particular that is wandering through my mind tonight, no specific direction that it wants to travel in, just that general feeling...and I think I am going to blame the lack of physical exercise and the weather for it. Hopefully I can fall asleep at a reasonable hour tonight and if not, well I can power through tomorrow on coffee and the promise of a three day weekend.

Photography: Fine Feathered Friends in the Pool

Sharing: Biocentrism

My friend Don at work sent me this article about biocentrism and time.

Here is an excerpt:

But change is not the same thing as time. Everything we perceive is actively being reconstructed inside our heads. Time in this sense can be defined as the summation of spatial states--much like in a film--occurring inside the mind. So what is real? If the next mental image is different from the last, then it is different, period. We can award that change with the word time but that doesn't mean there is an actual invisible matrix in which changes occur. That is just our own way of making sense of things.

This is a link to the article.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Daily Life: It Was Hot, Real Hot

Yesterdays temperature hit 95 in San Jose, breaking a 103 year old
record high. Do we get a prize?

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: Wild Mushroom Soup

It's a quiet and productive day here at work. The morning was a four
hour set of back to back meetings that went fairly well. The afternoon
calendar is clear of meetings so I will spend most of it working on
the project that so engrossed me yesterday afternoon.

It's slated to be another hot day here, with temps up in the low
nineties in San Jose. Lunch was a particularly good wild mushroom and
rice soup, washed down with a bottle of Pelegrino. Then, a little time
to write this entry and I am going to read the Mercury News on my
Kindle. Techno-Boy!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, April 20, 2009

Daily Life: I Lost Myself

Something happened to me today that has not happened to me in a long time. It was kinda cool. It was simple - I was at work and I was working on designing a little piece of software for a project I have and I got lost in it. By lost I mean I lost track of time, I was so totally engrossed in it. I would have been going far to late had not one of the people who works for me stopped by to say goodnight, and then a moment later I got a text that also helped pull me back into the world. It has been a long time since I was totally engrossed in something and I lost track of time. It was pretty cool. I liked the feeling.

Daily Life: I Dream of Work, I Go to Work

I fell asleep last night and slept fairly well for about two hours and then woke. The heat was slow in burning off, so I tossed and turned and half-slept, half-dreamed my way through the night. I had a strange dream of which I only remember fragments. I suspect my dream life was influenced by the tossing and turning as I attempted to sleep. Oddly enough, I do not feel tired this morning, so somewhere in there I must have gotten enough sleep.

The dream itself was of little consequence - what I remember of it was I was trying to solve a computer problem - there was an application screen that had a confirmation button and a dismiss button. There was a transaction stuck in the application that would not move to the next step, regardless of whether you hit the confirmation button or the dismiss button and we were trying to figure out whether the application was broken or the record was corrupted. However, the dream itself was stuck, as I kept running through the same trouble-shooting steps - it was like the dream was a loop - it would run, stop, and restart and run again.

I woke a little later than usual, ran through the shower, had a quick breakfast, texted a bit, and then made the morning commute. Traffic was bearable, even though I was running a little later then usual. I listened to the Indigo Girls on the way in and watched the beautiful morning sun playing in the green trees along Lawrence Expressway. Now I've settled into the office and am about to start the day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Photography: Flowers By The Walkway

Daily Life: A Thousand Beautiful Things

It was a beautiful day here in San Jose and in the San Francisco bay area in general. We had what I consider to be the first truly spring day, and personally, I had a very, very good day.

I slept well last night. This is just a chronicle of the day.

I watched the sunlight unfold while sitting on the patio and drinking a cup of coffee.

I talked with an old friend I had not talked to in two months or so, which was very nice. For me at least, my friends, be they the ones just down the street or the ones far away are a central part of my world, and so when they are in it, in whatever way, it just a better and brighter world.

I stopped at the bank and pulled out some cash to spend today, thankful for the circumstances in life that let me do that particular thing.

I drove over to Starflower Lane to pick up my friends Pierre and Helen while listening to Melissa Etheridge's album "Brave and Crazy".

On the way over I had fierce thoughts, fierce like a fire. I enjoyed them. I thought about distant souls and how, if I could encircle them with that fierce fire, I would.

I thought how I loved people who understood simplicity. That is a rare gift if our world of complexities, but there move among us very simple people, and that is a very good thing.

Timmy (Pierre and Helen's alien offspring dog) was twitching up a storm when I got there. I may have contributed because I stood on the porch, rang the door bell, scratched on the door, and called their home phone while making moaning zombie like sounds. LOL - Timmy was purely ecstatic.

Pierre and I discussed the relationship between our hobbies and time. Time is a precious commodity. Spending it well, on the things we love, with the people we love, is an important aspect of life.

We waited for a table at the Cup and Saucer, standing in the morning sun. Definitely one of the thousand beautiful things Annie Lennox sings of.

On one of the tables outside there was a english bulldog with a bright pink collar. She seemed quite content to sit and watch people walk by.

I had Copenhagen Pancakes (Swedish pancakes stuffed with berries and cream cheese) and biscuits and gravy and coffee and orange juice.

There was a beautiful woman at the edge of my field of vision who seemed to have come to breakfast in a pair of pajames with the number 66 on them.

We swung back to their house to pick up a hat (planning a day in the sun). Pierre walked between the car and the hedge and got tangled in the bushes. Helen commented that she was usually the one who got tangled in bushes. I was...smiling.

Timmy, being twitchy, was secured in his leather gear to protect himself from himself while we were out. He looks like a little furry Hannibal Lector in his leather gear.

We drove up to the Harvest Festival at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds. The first thing that caught my eye was a t-shirt for a small child that read "Pooh is my homeboy".

I had my first cold festival beer of the year. (That means I paid seven bucks for a beer - it was cold, it was good, but it was also a seven dollar Bud Lite.)

We bought some odds and ends of popcorn and sauces and marinades.

We had lunch at the Blue Agave Club in Pleasanton - the food was excellent. The waiter owned exactly the same ring as the one I always were. (A set of concentric Celtic spirals.) I had the enjococado (a chicken in a creamy tomato guarillo chile sauce), a recipe that has been in the family that owns the restaurant for 100 years (at least according to the menu). It was excellent. I highly recommend it. I had a glass of ice tea and black beans and rice.

We wandered through Pleasanton for a while and then headed back home. On 680 there was a motorcycle crash. Several motorcyclists, CHP officers, and the tow truck were standing around. Traffic was creeping for a good thirty minutes or so. We were in traffic behind a National Guard Humvee and National Guard Truck.

We finally made it back to San Jose and stopped at Coldstone Creamery for ice cream. I had the Hunka Chunka Burning Fudge Sundae, with no almonds. Almonds were stalking me through the day. Breakfast (the Copenhagen pancakes) was covered with slivered almonds. Lunch (the enjococado chicken) was covered with diced almonds. The sundae normally comes with almonds, but I declined them.

I drove home listening to Annie Lennox. From there, I have been lazing, watching a little TV, playing with Google, and watching the sun go down. All it all, it has been a very good day. My plan for the remainder of the night is a quiet night of reading and idling.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Photography: Tortellini & Scallops ala Vodka

Daily Life: An Afternoon Note

A beautiful spring day here in California. I woke early enough, but
managed to conjure enough reasons to linger in bed for a hour or so. I
spoke with a dear one on the phone for a while. I popped into chat
long enough to say hello and muse at the demons that must torture some
folks. I went out and had pancakes with strawberry syrup and butter. I
went to an art gallery to see some works by the Dreamworks people. I
stopped at the music store to buy some guitar polish. I stopped at the
electronics store (actually two of them) and bought a cushioned case
for my Kindle. I stopped at Our Lady of Peace in Sunnyvale and took a
couple of pictures. I stopped at Comics Conspiracy and picked up a
graphic novel. Through it all Janis Joplin sang to me. Now, I've
circled home and I am going to take a power nap and then swing out for

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fiction: Fierce As The WInd

This was my entry into the One Minute Writer today, I enjoyed the little exercise, so I thought I would share it here:

Fierce As The Wind crouched in the scented cover of the Fairydusters along the edge of the sandy Sonoran desert wash, body stilled, unmoving save for her bright eyes that slow tracked the intruder. He was a fine looking lad, several shades of brown, with a vertical black stripe rising up from under his forearm and crossing his back, whose ears twitched with the stately dignity that bespoke good breeding. However, he was a stranger and as a stranger, dangerously close to the edge of her territory. Worse yet, he was cautiously approaching her mesquite beans and that, well, that was unacceptable among rock squirrels.

Daily Life: I Dream of a Box and I Think About It

I woke this morning from the fragment of a dream. I understood that it was a metaphorical dream even as I woke from it. I dreamt that I was standing in the middle of a cube. They cube symbolized a box but it took the form of a little metal screened cube that I have to hold magazines, except it was much larger. The posts that supported the interior frame of the cube were all glowing in a bluish-green light, like neon. As I woke from the dream I understood that as long as I drew bright lines around the edges of the box (the box being a metaphor for the self) and as long as, within the confines of that box, I did my best to be truthful and honest, then I would be doing the best I could and that was good enough. The dream did not seem to be triggered by anything specific - there were no external or internal reference points. It was as if I was reviewing something I already new, using the box with the bright lines as a metaphor for that.

I often think that, as humans, we can be very tough on ourselves - questioning what we do, questioning if it is good enough or frequent enough or - just enough. I try to remind people, just as I try and remind myself, that each event in our life is bounded by circumstances that are highly specific - internal circumstances and external circumstances - and that our actions and reactions and interactions are a product of those boundaries. We are who we are, where we are, when we are there - and though as a conception that might be easy for us to understand, in actuality, it can be a huge challenge. We review past events from the point of view of current knowledge - we look at what happened there from here. The view is usually different, sometimes it is quite different, and so the conclusions we reach are also often different. It is important to remember that the experience of life is very specific and very local, but the review of the experience of life is very general and very non-local.

When you are in the moment do the best you can in the moment and then - forgive yourself if you fall short of the goals and standards you set for yourself and try and let it go. We cannot change the past - it is done. We can change the way we think of the past. Perspective is a powerful thing and, in my opinion, we would all be better off if we remembered to make it a powerful and forgiving thing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Photography: Sunrise Through Bedroom Window

Daily Life: Wednesday Morning Rambling Thoughts

I had a strange evening last night. The winds were very high, strong gusts that rattled windows and shook the building, and it put me in a strange mood. It wasn't a good mood or a bad mood - it was just "a mood". Edgy might be the right word, though I am not sure.

I had a pleasant enough evening. I got home from work and had dinner (garlic mashed potatoes and a spicy beef dish that I do), followed by a bowl of ice cream. I tried reading but wasn't into the material, so I set that aside. I came online for a while, checked a few sites, peeked into chat, watched for about ten minutes and decided I just wasn't into it. I watched some History channel but couldn't get into it. I washed some dishes. I cleaned the bathroom.

It wasn't until later in the evening that I started to settle out - about the time the wind died which is why I am blaming the wind. From there, I enjoyed a telephone call that included ruminations on love - no conclusions, just thoughts and observations.

Then, I watched "Fringe" (excellent TV by the way if you are not a Fringe fan), and curled up and read another chapter in William Gibson's "Spook Country". I've read two chapters in Spook Country so far and I am "trembling at the gate". I want to find a quiet day and devour the whole book in one setting, but I am pacing myself so it will last at least a couple of days.

I love William Gibson's writing - I don't always enjoy his novels, for plot reasons, but he is a very talented writer. I mentioned previously that his "Mona Lisa Overdrive" is one of my favorite novels, and I also have a very dog eared copy of "Neuromancer", which I have read multiple times.

I slept pretty well last night, waking at sunrise from a strange little dream. I dreamt that I was in a store and back in one of the corners I found a small stack of little metallic helicopters. I bought one as a gift for a child, thinking that it was an unusual gift because that particular company actually never made that particular helicopter. I have no idea what the significance of that is, other then I may have been channeling the news about the potential discontinuation of the Presidential helicopter and the withdrawal from bid of the CSAR-X helicopter as the new administration re-draws their defense spending priorities. All in all a strange little dream though.

So, the office is quiet this morning and I am anticipating a productive day. I'm contemplating taking a little leave this afternoon and maybe heading out to see a movie in mid-afternoon. I haven't done that in a while and if today is quiet like yesterday was it may turn out to be a perfect day for it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sharing: A Brilliant Little Piece of Prose

Sharing: I read this today was just terribly impressed. This is a brilliant little piece of prose from

"Language, humanity's primary enabling technology, evolves out of the crucible of collective agreement. The words that society chooses to use as signifiers of new concepts are not capricious. They have the power to reveal. There is a reason that the word "social" is being applied as a prefix everywhere--from social media, social computing and the social Web to social capital and the social enterprise. This planetary skin of networked communication that links us together is also reshaping the way business is conducted. Why are we seeing the rise of all things "social"? Why are people so taken with poking one another, summarizing their experiences in 140 characters or becoming fans of Coca Cola ( KO - news - people )? (Don't laugh--Coca Cola has 3.5 million fans on Facebook). The answer follows the old punch line to a crude joke--"Because it can." Why is our society massively adopting social technologies? Because we can. Human beings are innately social. We are designed to share and connect with others. Period. What's more, we are born into cultures that provide a blueprint for how to communicate and organize. We know how to join a conversation at a party, meet new people and make decisions and organize in a social setting (with varying degrees of competence). Because we can, our innate desire and capacity to socialize is migrating to a platform (the Internet) that has breathtaking scale. The observation that these activities are meaningless, time-wasting or trivial misses the point entirely. Much of our day is dedicated to these activities already (tipping your hat to the neighbor, sharing a small experience with a coworker, sharing pictures of your kids with the receptionist). If you are wondering why people spend their time poking their friends on Facebook--stop. You are just seeing previously confined social activity being exposed to a larger audience." ( 04/14/09)

Poetry: Hush

There is an art to stillness
That we seem to have lost
Somewhere on the road
Somewhere in the rush of traffic
Within the maze of highways
All leading to the same place
I remember quiet mornings
Tangled with a lover
Her finger on my lips
Her voice with its slight husky timbre
Her fingers sliding across my face
"Be still."
Her form melding to mine
There is an art to stillness

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Daily Life: Easter Sunday

Well, all in all, it has been a good Easter Sunday. I woke early this morning and went to Mass, then circled home. I was supposed to meet a friend of mine for breakfast after Mass, but at the last second he called off. I spent most of the morning relaxing at home. I came online and had a brief and pleasant chat in Spiritual Insights. I wrote a couple of email, including one to one of my brothers, whose birthday is today.

I called my mother and spoke with her and my step-father for a while. I did some incidental cleaning around the house. I played guitar for a while (and that just reminded me I need to get some guitar polish - I was cleaning both of them the other day and barely had enough). I exchanged Happy Easter text with someone dear to me, which made me simply happy. I watched Danny Boyle's "Millions" on HBO-HD.

Then, taking a look at the clock and estimating the time to dinner, I went out and saw "Sunshine Cleaners". It is a relatively short movie and it is pretty good - it is simple, hearfelt, and amusing and poignant. I would recommend it.

I had an early Easter dinner with friends, simple, tasty, and enjoyable and now I have once again circled home. On the way home I stopped and bought a pair of throw pillows for my couch and a little wrought iron stand for paper towels. Very domestic of me.

The apartment complex is going to come through tomorrow and change out the windows, so I have some last minute shuffling about of stuff that I will need to remember to do. (I have some used electronics gear that I am going to donate to the Salvation Army.) I will carry it down and load it into the back of the Vue tonight and then drop it off on the way home from work tomorrow.

I was debating whether or not I would work virtually tomorrow, but basically decided that with the construction crew coming through, it would be best if I was elsewhere. I am usually reluctant to let people into my apartment unattended, but this particular set of work is going to be handled by the apartment maintenance crew, not a contractor, and the maintenance crew (an older gentleman and his son) both live here, so they are a known factor - and they are not going anywhere if something disappears.

It is a very beautiful day out there today - the sky is very blue, the sun is shining warmly and there is a nice cool breeze blowing. I have the apartment windows and patio doors wide open right now and there is a very pleasant breeze blowing through, rattling the blinds.

In short, it has been a beautiful Easter day. I hope other people have enjoyed the day as much as I have. I don't really have any plans for the evening - dinner was in mid-afternoon so I am definitely tempted to eat something light within the next hour or so, otherwise I will be going to bed with the rumblings of appetite! I might do some incidental things this evening, but I may not. I have finished my "Repairman Jack" novel and am about to start William Gibson's "Spook Country" - I count his "Mona Lisa Overdrive" as one of the greater science-fiction novels I've read.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Daily Life: The End of the Day

The day slides to a close having watched Danny Boyle's "A Life Less
Ordinary". If you've never seen it I would recommend it.

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: A Lazy Day

I slept in this morning and then proceeded to basically laze my way through the day. Breakfast was a Mexican cheese omelet, coffee, toast and orange juice. Lunch was chicken noodle soup. For dinner I am going to meet my nephew at Chevy's down at Westgate on Saratoga.

I had intended to go to a movie this afternoon - I have been meaning to see "Sunshine Cleaning". I actually left to go to the film, but got sidetracked on the way and ended up running an incidental errand and then heading home. I spent the afternoon reading, sorting through a plastic bin of junk (most of it got thrown away).

I watched a cute little movie I had saved on the DVR called "Just Looking". It was amusing and touching and enjoyable. I don't know if it is as good as "Sunshine Cleaning" is supposed to be, but I haven't got the reference point yet. It is an older film (1999) that I had never heard of before. I happened to come across it one night while I was setting the DVR to catch another movie and recorded it - finally getting around to watching it today.

My plan tonight is pretty simple - dinner with Tom in about forty-five minutes and then circling home to watch the season finale of "Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles".

Daily Life: I Sleep Great

I had an amusing experience last night. I woke up about 2:00 a.m.,
fully awake, laying in the darkness of the bedroom. I had one very
clear conscious thought. I thought "Man, I am sleeping great!" Then I
promptly fell back asleep.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Daily Life: It is a quiet Thursday evening.

It is a quiet Thursday evening. The rain outside is falling softly and
steadily. Just the faint scent of it floats into the living room.
Dinner was simple, potato pancakes with a dollop of sour cream. I
watched an episode of "The Unusuals" I had saved on the DVR - it was
interesting and enjoyable and seems to have potential. I've been
sitting here since then reading The Economist (last months edition
that I have had laying around). I've contemplated actually doing
something, but I am a little to lazy for that. I've got a plastic bin
of things sitting next to the chair that I have contemplated sorting
through. I am still contemplating it. My thoughts tonight have been a
quiet rambling walk through the realm of the senses. Though I have no
set plan for tomorrow, I am sure whatever unfolds is going to start
with a long lingering debate in the morning on when exactly I should
make the effort to get out of bed.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Photography: Brooding Storm

Daily Life: Thoughts Slipping Through A Busy Day

Today was quietly busy here at the office. We're working on a large scale project (a data integrity problem) so everyone has been tightly focused and is crunching numbers and playing with data algorithms, trying to bring order from chaos. We had a hot deadline for a portion of it of close of business (COB) tonight, Pacific time, and we are going to make it. It won't be perfect, but it will be significantly better, and we'll make more strides as we go forward.

One of the challenges I run into as a manager is I often have to force myself to pull back and let my people do their work. Sometimes when the boss tries to help the boss just gets in the way. I have also had to resist doing my Donkey (from Shrek) imitation. "Are we done yet? Are we done yet"?" I know how irritating I always found that when I was an IC (independent contributor).

However, I did run a stand up status meeting a few minutes ago and it looks like we are all green.

Don't you love it when I lapse into corporate-speak? It is a language all it's own and that is even without the acronyms. Start tossing in the acronyms and it becomes a truly alien language. That is actually the whole point - tribes (and organizations) define themselves by sharing a common language. It is a way of quickly identifying who is part of the in group and who is not.'

Weaving in and out of my work related tasks I have had a variety of thoughts running through my head and I am pausing here at work to enjoy a cup of coffee and write them down.

I spent some time today thinking about self-censorship, specifically in terms of blogging. I try to avoid it, but I actually wrote two entries today that will never see the light of day. One was pretty much a pure work vent, letting off steam. I wrote that one, went to lunch, came back, reread it, laughed and deleted it.

The second one I wrote while at lunch and it was an attempt at exploring my tendency to self-censor. It arises out of my reluctance to take someone else's business "to the street", which in turn arises from my strong sense of privacy. Now, that in itself is a little strange - I am generally a very open person, as far as "me".

Where my privacy filters lock down is where other people are involved. I treat virtually everything that is told to me as a confidence - even when it clearly isn't. I am overprotective of it. I tried writing for a while about why that was - but, what I wrote was ultimately confusing and self-serving, so other than a few rolling notes, it also promptly ended up in the delete bin.

Lunch was unsatisfying by the way - a mediocre tuna salad and plain cottage cheese. Nothing looked particularly appetizing at the cafeteria.
I also now have the added pleasure of a stress fracture in my left foot. I have often written about my love of walking and urban hiking. On Saturday when I was in SF we covered a lot of ground and when I got home I noticed bruising and some pain when I rolled my foot, so I stopped by the clinic on Sunday and they took a look at it and taped it. They could not do the x-ray on Sunday so scheduled an appointment for yesterday. I stopped in on the way home, they shot my foot, and then called this morning. I have a stress fracture on the third metatarsal bone.

Fortunately it is not too bad (the doctor said "a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10"). It is only painful if I roll the foot laterally (which twists the bone). They've given me a bracing sock and a space boot. The space boot is this plastic contraption that I can wear if it gets painful. They did not recommend a cast or crutches. They just said be careful when walking and don't exercise walk or run for six weeks. I could swim or use a recumbent exercise cycle (one that doesn't put weight related pressure on the foot), so I may get a temporary gym membership. I can also stretch and do yoga and lift weights from a bench (nothing that requires me to stand and life weights), so I might spend the next six weeks working on flexibility and doing high rep, low weight bench exercises and a lot of sit-ups. I joke that I am too old to get abs of steel, but I can strive for abs of aluminum.

I am going to return to work and then contemplate something simple yet delicious for dinner, based on the unsatisfying results of lunch.

Daily Life: I Dream of Emptiness and Acknowledgement

I had a curious dream last night. I dreamt about a red and black box
that was divided into four chambers. In two of the chambers (the top
two from the point of view in the dream) were small ivory netsuke. The
bottom two were empty. I woke from the dream with the realization that
the bottom two chambers were empty because the netsuke that belonged
there had not been acknowledged. Once they were acknowledged they
would take their places and the chambers would not be empty.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, April 6, 2009

Daily Life: Lyrical Sunrises and Metaphorical Thefts

I was in a strange thought space this morning on waking. It was a cool California morning. I had spent a while yesterday cleaning and re-arranging the furniture in my apartment bedroom. The complex is coming through and replacing all of the windows with double-paned windows so they have asked that we move all the furniture away from the windows, so the workers can have access.

Since I enjoy natural light I have a tendency to arrange the furniture in my living spaces around the windows. Rather then wait for the two day notice, I thought I would take a more leisurely approach and clear everything out of the way in advance. I finished the main bedroom yesterday and of course the changes have impacted the "feel" of the bedroom. Not a good thing or a bad thing, just a thing.

The end result though is that the bedroom has a decidedly different feel, mostly due to the angles of light. I woke up this morning and opened the curtains and let the morning light flow into the room and then just kind of laid there and looked at it - trying to decide if I liked it or not. I'll most likely re-arrange everything once the new windows are in.

Anyway, in part because of the different light, I felt lyrical this morning. The feeling still sort of lingers. Feeling lyrical, as I drove into work, for some reason I started thinking of the things I've stolen in my life, metaphorically. I am still sort of in that imaginative space and I am curious to see what flows out of it - or whether it fades through the day without producing anything significant.

The work day has been moving along pretty smoothly and I am about to head out the door for lunch. Once I finish lunch I have an afternoon full of detail work that I will need to tackle, so I've blocked off the calendar and plan on ignoring my telephone for a couple of hours this afternoon. After last week, I am going to try and focus on keeping this week on an even flow, if at all possible.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Photography: Crabbed Stuffed Salmon at Gilberto's

Photography: Lighthouse Point - Santa Cruz

Photography: Maggie's Cafe

Photography: The Bar in The Four Seas

Photography: Dim Sum

Photography: Chinatown SF

Poetry: The Democracy of Sin

Pick your pleasure
Pick your poison
Cast your vote
In this democracy of sin

Everything you ever want
Everything you ever need
Every single dark desire
All you have to do is bleed

Televisions pretty pictures
Painted in lies and gold
Beautiful little butterflies
They’ve all been bought and sold

Pick your pleasure
Pick your poison
Cast your vote
In this democracy of sin

Wander in the bright lights
With a troubled eye
Searching hidden places
Where the shards of truth might lie

Dazzled by the mirrors
Blinded by the fairy tale
Deafened by the pretty songs
That hide the banshee’s wail

Pick your pleasure
Pick your poison
Cast your vote
In this democracy of sin

Everything you ever want
Everything you ever need
Every single dark desire
All you have to do is bleed

Dazzled by the mirrors
Blinded by the fairy tale
Deafened by the pretty songs
That hide the banshee’s wail

Pick your pleasure
Pick your poison
Cast your vote
In this democracy of sin

Commentary: The other day, for some reason, the phrase “democracy of sin” popped into my head and has been riding with me ever since. Last night, I was strumming on my guitar and wrote this while working my way through the evening. It is a far bleaker piece then my mood actually was, but it is what flowed out around the phrase. The phrase is still turning in my mind, so I would guess that I am not done with it yet.

Poetry: Forty-Five

(Written in 2005)

I woke up yesterday
And I was forty-five
Like a bullet,
Spent and wasted
My dangerous days
Far behind
I am the ashes
Of a fire
Burned out long ago
I am the memory
Of desperate glory
Faded in the mind
Now the wind blows
And it stirs me
Now the rain falls
And it washes away
The sins of reckless youth
Sacred time
Is always flowing
Like a river
Through the desert
The shattered violence
Of a bullet
The raging fury
Of the kindled blaze
Immortal Glory
In the moment
Never lost
Never gone
I woke up yesterday
And I was forty-five
The same old sun
Brings the dawn
The same old stars
Bid the night farewell
This is my heaven
This is my hell
I wrap my arms around you
I hold you tightly
I woke up yesterday
And I was forty-five
Like a bullet
Spent and wasted
My dangerous days
Far behind

Commentary: I was cleaning out a box the other day and I found a steno pad. Forty-five was written in that steno pad and I recalled writing it nearly four years ago now, when I actually was forty-five. I have been in my life equal parts saint and sinner. I have warred with God and I have warred with Man and like Jacob at the foot of the ladder I have certainly wrestled with my better angels. I like to think they won and I became a better man. But, sometimes I wonder if I simply tired out. We are, the sum of us, all of those things we have done and failed to do. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Daily Life: Heading to SF

Well, my plan today is to go up to SF for lunch with my friends Pierre and Helen. Every now and then we like to get together and go to Chinatown for Dim Sum. Today is that day!

The weather is beautiful, it is crisp and cool and bathed in blue skies and sunlight, so it should be a nice day up in the city. I am sure a few tens of thousands of other people are waking up and thinking the same thing - so it might be a bit of a crowd. Fortunately, as an addicted people watcher, I enjoy the crowds, so I am looking forward to the people watching as well.

Breakfast was a simple omelet, coffee and grapefruit juice while listening to Annie Lennox's "Bare" and now Chris Isaak's greatest hits. I like the way this particular day has started to unfold.

I have the new Sony H50 camera, so I am going to take it for a test spin in San Francisco today. I'll see if I can post a few pictures from the iPhone while I am up there. I hope everyone out there is having a day as beautiful as this, regardless of where you are.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Daily Life: The Remainder of the Day

Once I managed the reset process I was able to salvage a large portion
of the afternoon. I managed to knock a couple of medium sized items
from my "to do" list and get some productive closure at the end of the

I drove home and celebrated with a nap. Dinner was a simple cream of
mushroom soup. I spent a quiet evening watching television and idly
playing my guitar and writing. I am planning on going up to Chinatown
tomorrow for lunch, so I am going to curl up with my Repairman Jack
novel and drift into the sweet embrace of sleep.

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: Friday Spins Stressful

Today started out pretty smoothly. I got a good night sleep, I ate a good breakfast, had my morning coffee, logged on and watched chat for a while, then drove into work. Traffic was light and it was a truly beautiful morning here. I got into the office and dove right in…

There was where I went wrong. I was trying to do to much to fast. I unintentionally started building my own stress level up. After about two hours I realized that it was quickly becoming a very stressful day.

So I stopped. I took a deep breath. I took another deep breath. I went for a walk inside of the building. I came back and went to a pair of teleconferences. I called one of my key customers and asked for a little time - he agreed without hesitation. Now, an hour or so after realizing my stress level was sky rocketing - I am settled back down to normal.

I am going to go out to the Sneha Indian Buffet on Lawrence for lunch in about twenty minutes. The food there is very good so I am looking forward to it. Then, I am going to come back to the office and try to make some more headway against my workload - but I am going to do in calmly, clearly and focused.

It amazes me sometimes the amount of stress we ultimately inflict on ourselves.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Daily Life: An Epitaph for Lady Radcliffe

There is not an eye in Radcliffe tonight
No matter how mean or base
That does not shed a tear
For the death of our dame
Even the sea itself weeps
Even that great gray moon
Glistens with a silver lighted tear
Let all hearts be with mercy turned
Let all hands be with kindness inclined
Let each of us, man, woman, child
Be, with her love, knighted
For she knew that which was noblest
In each soul, no matter how lost
No matter how far from home strayed
And that in us, she loved
And loving us, was so loved by us.

"An Epitaph for the Lady Radcliffe, dreamt and written upon waking
from a dream at midnight"

-Last night, at midnight, I woke from a deep sleep, grabbed my iPhone
and wrote the above almost in it's entirety. It flowed out. I wrote it
down and then promptly fell back asleep. This morning I corrected a
pair of typos. I have no idea who the Lady Radcliffe is (or was). I
will take some time today and google a bit.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Daily Life: Three Days Later

Well, time can fly under certain circumstances. Sunday was a good day - alternating between lazy and productive.

Monday started out as a good day, but by noon I had a splitting sinus headache. It felt like someone was poking me between the eyes with a sharp pencil which made concentrating at work impossible. I came home early with the intention of taking some allergy medicine and a nap, but it turned out to be a long nap. I managed to swim out of my groggy state about six p.m., long enough to wake up, eat something for dinner, take a shower, make a phone call - and then go back to bed.

Tuesday was an all day meeting (a career counseling training session), followed by a corporate dinner at Fontana's in Cupertino, which was excellent. It did make for a long day though. The dinner was excellent (I had one of the specials, a penne pasta with scallops, mushrooms, and fresh basil, followed by the Chocolate Decadence dessert). It was good to socialize with some of the members of my extended work team (about half of my extended work team works virtually, so we get together once or twice a year, all things permitting). It is always nice to see the people you work with virtually in person. I got home and basically fell into bed though - it was close to a sixteen hour day by the time it was over. I capped off the day with a great telephone call and then I was out like a light.

Wednesday (today) I went into work at about six a.m. in order to put the finishing touches on a presentation that I gave during a working session with our upper management, outlining a project that we are undertaking this year that has been several years overdue, designing and building a very task specific information management system which will interface with another system. The two systems are designed to provide a looped reinforcement framework for operational information exchanges. In non-corporate speak that means it will be two systems that will contained related data which will be cross-referenced and allow for real-time storage, retrieval and analysis. I've been wanting to do it for a while and now is the perfect opportunity.

Following another long day I came home tonight, cooked a simple dinner, watched "Chuck" on my DVR and then paused here for a few minutes to write. It has been a good week so far, but I have managed to cram forty hours of work into three days, so my eyes are kind of heavy right now. My plan for the evening is pretty simple - I am going to watch a little TV, see if I can find some energy to write, and if I can't, then I am going to curl up early with a book. Tomorrow is going to be a challenging day because I am now two and a half days behind, which means tomorrow will be spent reading several hundred email, sorting them, and deciding which ones to act on.

The career session was a little canned and a little to heavily populated with pretty boxes (and for me, a guy inordinately fond of power point to say that, it must have been pretty bad). They did present some good tools but by and large it was mostly rote as far as such sessions go. The working meetings were far more productive and helped provide me with some clarity as to the overall direction for the coming year, explaining some of the things I had observed. There was an awkward and uncomfortable moment for me, but it was one of those moments where that feeling was because, when asked, I did not dance around and instead named names and expressed my opinion. That is always a little awkward for me because I tend to think that naming names is usually counterproductive, especially given the variance in perception.

In this case though, my personnel had reported to me rude and borderline unacceptable behavior from a customer and I felt it was the right thing to do. I am not sure what is going to come it, most likely nothing, but it had to be done. Time will tell. I could have cured a problem or made a corporate enemy. Wouldn't be the first time and won't be the last in either case.