Sunday, August 30, 2009

Poetry: Crickets Dream

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

Daily Life: The Men Who Stare At Goats

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

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

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

Daily Life: Two Hot Days

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

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

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

Daily Life: Back in Blackberry

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

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

I won't slam the iPhone too hard here, for what it was, it was nice. Perhaps for someone with different use patterns than me it is fine. But I sincerely missed the querty keyboard and I missed the overall better experience of the Blackberry. Just let me say "it's good to be home".
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Poetry: Cormorants

Cormorants nesting
Encircling weave of cat-tails
Kingdom of feather

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: Kings and Queens

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

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

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

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

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Daily Life: Luxurious Crickets

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

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

Monday, August 24, 2009

Daily Life: The End of the Day


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

Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Poetry: Haiku - Gyre Falcons

Night has descended
there is a fierce tenderness
gyre falcons nesting

Daily Life: Just Sunday

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

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

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daily Life: Sunset on Fire

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

Daily Life: Mostly Errands

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

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Daily Life: Luxurious Crickets

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

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

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Daily Life: Unexpectedly Hot

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

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Daily Life: A Dark, Cool Morning

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

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Poetry: Soft Witness

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

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Sharing: Sleeping with Frank O'Hara

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

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

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Poetry: I Dream in Color

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

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Daily Life: Morning with a Margin of Error

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 17, 2009

Daily Life: Thoughts on Writing

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

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

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

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

I am looking forward to that.

Daily Life: The Grace of Future Days

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

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

A good prayer for a Monday morning.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Daily Life: Nothing Lingers Undone

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

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: The Art of Robust Napping

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

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

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

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Daily Life: A Smooth and Fast Thursday

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Poetry: I Woke This Morning

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

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Poetry: The Songs of Other Days

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Daily Life: The Simple Beauty of the Day

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

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

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

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sharing: T.S. Eliot on Poetry

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

T.S. Eliot

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Daily Life: A Simple Day Ends

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

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Daily Life: Today I

Started the day in a hot tub of bath salts.

I ate a smoked turkey, tomato and cheese omelet.

I drank coffee.

I got the car washed.

I stopped at the drugstore.

I got the oil changed.

I stopped at the AT&T store.

I stopped at the bank.

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

I stopped and had more coffee, with coffee cake.

I came home and wrote.

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

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

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Photography: The Keys to the Kingdom

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

Daily Life: Nick Bostrom

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Photography: My Street

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

Daily Life: This Weekend

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Daily Life: Closing The Day

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

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

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

Photography: The Magdalena

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

Monday, August 3, 2009

Photography: Two Watches

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

Daily Life: Hot and Sour Soup

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

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

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

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Daily Life: Thoughts At The End Of Vacation

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

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

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

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

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

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