Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Daily Life: The Cool of the Night

The cool of the night
Like crisp sheets slips over you
A dreaming embrace

Sent from my iPhone

Daily Life: Children of the Night - SHUT UP!

Silence is a precious commodity in our modern world. It is rare we can reach the point of true silence unless we are enclosed somewhere or isolated somewhere. I am craving a certain silence today and I suspect that the craving is going to be mostly denied. Here at work, between the chattering of voices, telephones reading, keyboards rattling, construction in the building, loud conversations in the hallway - well, silence seems a rare commodity.

When I find that I cannot attain silence, I can often attain a small degree of the same need by putting in my earphones and listening to my iPod. It is not silence, but it is mercifully free of the assorted distractions that come from working in an enclosed area with multiple people, including a few who have irritating voices, either in tone or mannerism.

Today, I am craving silence. I just flashed on the movie Love At First Bite, with George Hamilton. There is a scene in the movie where, awakened by the howling of wolves, Dracula arises from his coffin, blinks, and shouts: "Children of the Night - SHUT UP!". It is a funny little movie if you have never seen it before.

Poetry: An Ocean of Chance

An endless current
Has tangled our worlds together
An ocean of chance

(My entry today over at One Minute Writer)

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, June 29, 2009

Daily Life: A Tad Hot

It is chasing 10:00 PM here in San Jose. We are having a spell of warm weather that is supposed to last through the end of the week - days are in the low nineties and high eighties, which is hot for here. I had been running the AC more that I usually do, so tonight, when I made it home, I kicked open all the windows and fired up the fans to get some clean air circulating. They are whirring away fight now and I am sure if my apartment had wings it would take off.

It was a quiet day at work today with a triple set of time consuming challenges that rose up, a customer request, a mistake during a deployment of code, and a server problem - the full gamut. Fortunately, because it was a quiet day, they were all resolved rather smoothly. After work I swung by the grocery store and met my friend Tony at Johnny Rockets (Tony had dinner, I had ice cream and a brownie), then picked up some odds and ends and swung home.

I spent most of the evening reading - I am nearing the end of Assassin's Quest and am letting it stretch out - I should finish it by this week and then I plan to be on to Dean Koontz's "Relentless" - I am looking forward to it very much as I have heard from two other Koontz fans that it is very good. I have about three weeks until I start my vacation - a full two weeks plus off. About half of it will be spend in San Diego at the ultimate pop-culture event, Comic Con San Diego, and the rest of it will be spend at home - I am definitely looking forward to both parts of the vacation! It has been a long stretch since my last vacation that was longer than an extended weekend, though in all fairness I have made it a point to take several shorter, more local, vacations, it's just not quite the same.

I still feel semi-blocked when it comes to writing - I have a couple of stories I would like to tell, but they are just not coming out - they are in there, sort of hovering. I get a feeling they are going to hover a little more and then come pouring out all at once, which will be kind of cool.

Poetry: Haiku Upon Waking

I glimpsed your face
In the sun dappled leaves
That woke me today

-For T.R.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Daily Life: My Favorite Farah Fawcett Memory

It was the summer of 1977. It is hard to believe that it was over thirty years ago. I had gone from St. Francis Indian School to Philips Academy at Andover, MA for the summer semester on an exchange program. I went with James Murphy (always James, never Jim) and Leo Little Bald Eagle, on scholarships. It was, for me, a journey into another world. I'd gone from the poverty of the reservation* to the insular world of a private prep school in the space of an airline flight, my first. We were housed in dorms there on the campus and I had a small simple room that opened up onto the stair landing. There wasn't much in the room - a bed, a desk, a dresser and a pair of chairs. It was nice though. The window looked out over the front porch of the dorm.

It came to my mind yesterday with the death of Farah Fawcett. I recall that iconic poster on the wall of my dorm room, there at Phillips Academy. I was just looking at their website. It took me a moment to orient myself (I oriented off the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, were we would often sprawl on the lawns. The Commons, where we ate our meals. The Gelb Science Center, where I had a class in Animal Behavior. The Tang Theatre, where I saw one of the first plays I can recall. The Bell Tower. I also had classes in Fencing (LOL - with swords, not for cows and horses, I was a master of that later by the time I went there and could string barbed wire with the best of them, as the small scars on my hands attest).

I've been sitting here at the computer taking the virtual tour. I have fond memories from that summer, as it was probably my first real exposure to the world beyond the reservation for an extended period of time. I can recall going downtown to shop at a small bookstore, built into a house. The Science Fiction/Fantasy section was in the attic and it was there, during that summer, that I bought and read Edgar Rice Burrough's entire "John Carter, Warlord of Mars" series of books. It was also there that I checked out and first read the Lord of the Rings (having read the Hobbit the summer before, oh, about a hundred times). I recall an ice cream shop downtown as well. Mrs. Barrett, an English teacher at St. Francis Indian School, was from the area and on several weekends she had us over to her mothers house to BBQ and to play in their pool. (I think that was probably the first time I ever swam in a personal swimming pool as well.) I remember we imprinted a duckling for animal behavior glass and I named mine "Ham". I remember how much fun it was learning to fence. I also learned to play tennis that summer.

Some very fond memories, tinged with the bittersweet. Leo died several years later in a car accident back on the reservation. James, last I heard, was married, living in Colorado, and still working behind the scenes in television. I have no idea what happened to Mrs. Barrett, but I have very fond memories of her and our other English teacher at St. Francis, Ms. Weed. They managed to instill in me (as did my family) the love of reading and literature that remains with me to this day. Two years later one of my sisters attended the same summer session. She has equally fond memories. Except, she got hit by a car crossing the street and spent several weeks living at Mrs. Barrett's mothers house as she recuperated.

*The Rosebud is one of the poorest places in America, but when you grow up in that poverty, you simply don't realize it. Though it may be economically poor, it is also rich in ways almost unimaginable - tradition, beauty, family, a profound sense of place.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Daily Life: The Simplicity of Beautiful Things

Midway through the day I decided I would have dinner al fresco
tonight. The weather is perfect for it. Highs touched eighty, low
probably into the sixties. The sun is golden, the skies a vivid blue,
the mountains a deep shade of lush green. I sat at a table with a red
checkered table cloth.

The waitress was a slender woman, verging on lean, indeterminate in
age, shoulder length brown hair, hazel eyes, a face with character, a
wry smile, a New York accent, just enough wrinkles for her to have a
lived in air. She was dressed in black shoes, black slacks, a white
shirt, a black vest. The only variant from her uniform her belt,
broad, leather, black with silver rings and, like her face,
comfortably worn.

First was a tall glass of iced tea. Second an appetizer of fresh
tomato, Greek olives, mozarella cheese, drizzles with a basil olive
oil. Third a four cheese pizza, fresh, warm, with delicate flavors
spun together. For dessert, the magic - Sheer Bliss Mediterranean
Coffee ice cream, delicately mined from the tin with a tea spoon.

The end result, the simplicity of the beautiful things of life. Good
weather, good food, good company and love traveling down strange

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Daily Life: Num Lock, Egg Drop Soup, and Noil Silk

Well, it took me a while to figure out how to turn the NUM LOCK off on this laptop. In the course of learning that I managed to find out how to put it into battery conserving sleep mode! I guess we learn something every day.

I woke this morning for a dream of noil silk (a type of raw silk), of great bolts of it draping and cascading. It was a visually powerful and charged dream. The dream pretty much set the mood of the day for me and I moved through the day with an strong sensual awareness. Work went smoothly, productively and quickly. Lunch was a simple egg drop soup (not the best I have ever had, that honor usually goes to Tao Tao in Sunnyvale, where they make an excellent egg drop soup. I wrapped up the day reviewing a couple of training modules (all in all a vast improvement over what we have in place now), so that was good focus time. I like those moments in work where you lose yourself.

Dinner was a chicken Caesar salad and a bottle of sparkling water at a local restaurant, then a quiet evening at home. I spent most of the evening reading the last of the Robin Hobb trilogy I have been working my way through, called “Assassins Quest”. It is also an excellent read. I about twenty five percent through it and I will probably dedicate another hour or so to it tonight. I’ve also downloaded the Kindle application for my iPhone, which has me doing something I used to do years ago but fell out of the habit, which is read on breaks and at lunch during work. That is speeding me through the novels a little faster.

Then, I have Dean Koontz’s new novel, “Relentless” waiting in the hopper. (That is actually a tribute to Robin Hobb – I am a huge Koontz fan and when he comes out with a new novel he is automatically bumped to the top of the list – and in this case, he wasn’t – because I want to see how Hobb wraps up the Assassins Quest.)

It is a beautiful evening here right now. The day was hot, in the high eighties, and now it is dropping off into the seventies, heading straight into the sixties. There is still a band of soft gray at the western horizon and a few stars are peeking out. I’ve got all the windows open, there is a cooling breeze drifting through the living room, and having had a good conversation with my dear T.R., I am wrapping the night up with a little bit of writing and “So You Think You Can Dance”. It is a guilty pleasure for me, and I tend to be fond of guilty pleasures.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Daily Life: Are You In Over Your Head?

“If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
T. S. Eliot

I shared the quote above today with several people, including those folks that work for me. I thought T.S. Eliot expressed something very important that people, including me, sometimes struggle with. There are definitely times when we want things to just go smoothly, we'd like the pace of change to slow down, we would like to just ride a constant current through life. Life and the universe often have another opinion on the whole subject.

However, I think the above quote hits right to the core of it all. If you are not stretching, if you are not pushing yourself to the edges of the envelope, if you are not trying to clamber over the walls of the box life has settled you into, how do you know what you are capable of? Good management, good mentoring, good leadership, good teaching and good parenting all have this in common. They seek to encourage people to reach beyond themselves and to be taller than we really are.

Years ago, when I was lost and trying to find myself, a large part of that journey was trying to figure who I really was. As anyone who has ventured on the journey of self-exploration rapidly discovers, it is a lot harder than it looks. Starting with the mores and norms of our general society we wander down through the specifics of our subclasses and subcultures, all the way down into the tiny little daily habits that infuse our life, we are often shaped very much by the environmental influences in our lives.

We often discover that there are many things in our lives that we do or fail to do because of external influences that we did not deliberately consent to. We may dress a certain way because we perceive that is the way we are supposed to dress. We may cling to a certain job because we have convinced ourselves it is the best job there is. We may not seek out a new position because…well you get the picture. We conspire to hide the internal self in the camouflage of the external self.

There are a lot of reasons we never reach out to the world to measure ourselves against it, to see how tall we are. Many of them are very good reasons and involve that intricate balancing act that is life. But, often enough, they are default decisions. We do not measure how tall we are simply because…we don't. So, that brings me to wonder today - how tall am I? How tall are you? Are we in over our heads? Why not? My answer is simple, on reflection - I am not as tall as I could be. I am not in over my head. Finally, I really like T.S. Eliot. Smart guy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Daily Life: Three Days Later

Well, I had an excellent three day weekend. About 9:00 a.m. on Friday I drove over to Pierre and Helen’s. I amused myself packing that morning. Here is the scenario – I am driving across the city, about ten miles from my apartment, where I am going to spend three nights. You would think it would be simple – a few changes of clothes, the usual traveling toys, the Kindle for reading. Well, I end up taking four baskets of laundry (might as well do laundry over the weekend while I am there), three laptops (work laptop for Monday or anything that arises over the weekend, personal laptop one because that is the primary laptop I play with, and personal laptop two (my old Mac) because I want to move some data from the Mac over to the personal laptop, specific some photo files loaded on the Mac. Then of course, to support that hardware, I have to take the assorted chargers. Three laptop chargers (I forget one, we will get back to that later in this entry), my iPhone charger, my Bluetooth charger, my camera charger, my electric razor charger, my Kindle charger. Then, I take some movies that I want to watch (including Season One of “The Big Bang Theory”), I take a game I want to play (Resident Evil 3), and I take two software packages I want to load (Photoshop and Sony Audio). My suitcase is pretty much entirely packed with electronics accessories. It is a good thing I brought four baskets of laundry. In short, I have enough stuff in the car, you would think I was going away for a much longer trip! All this from the guy who prides himself on his ability to pack lightly and quickly.

Once I settle in though, it was an excellent semi-retreat style weekend. Friday was nice, Saturday I took Timmy (the dog) out for a hike. Of course, Timmy is a small dog so his idea of hiking is walk a hundred yards and then have me carry him the rest of the way. Fortunately he is small enough that you can drape him over the shoulder and he can stay comfortably perched there. (Small note – someone really needs to invent doggie Tic-Tacs. Timmy could use a whole box of them.) Then, in the afternoon I socialized with friends, which was very nice and relaxing. Saturday evening was quite – I watched the movie Knights Tale (the rock and roll jousting movie starring Heath Ledger) and some incidental televison and then read deeply into night. Sunday was the pure retreat day. I spent most of it playing on the computer and watching The Big Bang Theory – which, if you have never seen it, is a sincerely funny television show. Both Saturday and Sunday I came online and made my way through the morning wandering chat and surfing the web and laughing, both with the things I saw and at the things I saw. Sunday evening I cooked some tortellini, conversed with family and friends, and the later in the evening watched “Mama Mia”, which, I have to say, I found surprisingly good.

I woke this morning with a great phone call from T.R., and then went off to log on and attend a teleconference briefing for management about forthcoming changes in our benefits packages at work. From there, another quick pair of meetings – and then the battery on my work laptop conked out. Followed in short order by the battery on my iPhone. I plugged to iPhone into the wall and loaded Timmy up and drove home to get my work laptop charger. Timmy went absolutely insane, running through the entire apartment and crawling into everything, all the while frantically sniffing. When his whirlwind scent tour was completed, he seemed quite content. We drove back across town and I stopped to pick up a deli sandwich for lunch. Now, it is nearing 1:00 PM, lunch is finished, and I am sitting here in the cool morning listening to the fish tank bubbling, Timmy snoring, and birds singing outside. Not a bad weekend at all.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Daily Life: Working Lunch

I had a working lunch today with some of my co-workers at Mexicali Grill over in Sunnyvale, near Mission College and the AMC Mercado. It is a beautiful California day here (there is that word again). The temperature is 79 degrees, there is a cool breeze off the San Francisco Bay, and the sky is a very vivid blue with high wispy clouds.

I had the Snapper Veracruzano for lunch, served with rice and refried beans, fresh tortilla chips and fresh guacamole, all washed down with tall glasses of iced tea in good company. Things like that make life well worth living - the simple pleasures of it all. I've a few hours of work left, with no meetings scheduled, so it should be a quiet and productive afternoon. Then, I will be slipping into a three day weekend, with the first day of summer officially falling on Father's Day, the 21st. I've already sent my Father's Day card, as well as a birthday card for my mother (her's in on the 23rd).

Based on conversation at lunch I had to go out on YouTube and find the theme to Cold Case Files (Nara by E.S. Posthumus). One of my co-workers has the song as the ring tone on her cell phone and it rang during lunch, which prompted a round of name that tune.

Daily Life: Lunch at Mexicali Grill

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Daily Life: Just Another Day In Paradise (With Clouds)

I drove to work this morning at the leading edge of dawn. The skies were soft gray with the faintest tint of rose along the edges of the clouds. The highway was mostly empty at that hour, so the drive was smooth and pleasant, sipping coffee and listening to “Posiedon and the Bitter Bug” by the Indigo Girls. The album has some excellent songs on it.

The parking lot was mostly empty, a handful of cars, other early risers. The morning was quiet and productive, with forward movement on all items. Lunch was a walk down the street and a simple potato and bacon soup with a Blackcherry soda. The afternoon also managed to stay quietly productive.

I drove home and met my nephew Tom for dinner, then came back to the apartment for an easy evening of wandering the vast expanse of the internet. Google is an amazing thing – you can start with a simple search and start clicking through links and wind up in the most astounding places.

The sun is just now edging toward the horizon in a cloudy sky. I have the patio windows open, but the sky itself is kind of a high hazy gray. I was hoping for some sunshine on clouds for a photo opportunity, but it is not going to happen tonight. The bright indirect light through the clouds mostly washes everything out.

I’m nearing the end of “The Royal Assassin”, which is at a page turning place right now, so my plan tonight is to finish it up. I am waiting on a phone call and then it may be any early bed for me tonight.

Two more days of work and then a nice three day weekend house-sitting. I’ll take my laptop, my Kindle, and a few movies and am looking forward to a quiet weekend, sort of a semi-retreat.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Daily Life: The Soft Tangles of Memory

In a garden, overgrown and neglected, filled with the rich scents of blossoming flowers and decaying vegetation an old stone god stands, half shadowed by cypress trees, deep within the green vault of their lush embrace. His eyes are neatly incised with the illusion of pupils and that illusory gaze stares into the middle distance which lies somewhere at the edge of the encapsulating boughs.

There is a soft and terrible sorrow in his blindness, the sorrow that is born of not knowing. It is the sorrow of the father and mother of the prodigal son. It is the sorrow of a lover, lost, who cannot find thier way home and fears that, unlike the wandering Odysseus, there is no faithful Penelope waiting in Ithaca.

I make my way through the garden carefully and find a spot on an old stone bench, near the forgotten god. I open my day pack and pull out my lunch, a sandwich, a peach, a pair of butterscotch cookies, a bottle of water. I eat in silence, communing with this forgotten god, searching for an appropriate gift.

In the end, I rise up and place one of the butterscoth cookies in the space of stone beneath his feet and I tell him a story I once heard, that story faithfully relayed by Ovid who spoke of the youth Cyparissus who by the accident of chance killed a beautiful deer, a beloved pet of Apollo. So great was the boy's grief at the accident that Apollo could not console him, and in Ovid's words, the tale ends here:

"Praying in expiation of his crime
Thenceforth to mourn to all succeeding time.
And now, of blood exhausted, he appears
Drain'd by a torrent of continual tears.
The fleshy colour in his body fades,
A greenish tincture all his limbs invades.
From his fair head, where curling ringlets hung,
A tapering bush, with spiry branches, sprung,
Which, stiffening by degrees, its stem extends,
Till to the starry skies the spire ascends.
Apollo saw, and sadly sighing, cried,
'Be, then, for ever what thy prayer implied:
Bemoan'd by me, in others grief excite,
And still preside at every funeral rite.'"
-Metamorphoses, Ovid

I rise and shoulder my pack, brushing the earth and fallen vegetation from my pants. I stop by the statue and for a moment I reach up and rest my hand on that part of him within my span, his finely formed leg, the corded muscle of his calf, smooth and cool under my touch. I bow my head and with my hand upon the statue of this old god I pray to the God Who Is Mystery. It is a wordless prayer, a thanksgiving, for the soft tangles of memory and all of those beautiful phantoms that reside there in. For a moment my eyes find that middle distance he gazes at, somewhere in the green vault of the encircling cypress and I see there wonderful things, among them Penelope, waiting faithfully in Ithaca.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daily Life: Meditation on the Virtue of Doing Nothing

Or, in the case of this weekend, next to nothing. I spent most of the weekend just doing whatever incidental thing popped into my mind and spending a large amount of time doing nothing, and I have to say, it was very nice. I only went outside a couple of time - breakfast with a friend, a movie late Saturday afternoon (The Taking of Pelham 123) and then, about an hour or so ago, an early dinner with another friend over at the Cheesecake Factory. Beyond that, I read, I watched a couple of movies on DVD, I read some more, I napped, I took a hot bath, I got lost in Flickr and Deviant Art, and that was about it. It was just a very good weekend for doing next to nothing. Next weekend I am going to house-sit for my friends Pierre and Helen (and dog sit the infamous Timothy Lector). I am planning on pulling the world in after me. I am going to head over with some movies to watch on the DVD (though, they have a movie collection that rivals mine), something to read on the Kindle, and my laptop, and then I am going to spend the entire three day weekend doing next to nothing again. In light of the heavy work flow of the last couple of years, it seems a wonderful luxury to indulge in inactivity. So, I am savoring it as best I can.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Poetry: Sometimes I Struggle

There have been times in my life when I have struggled. I have struggled with the world around, with the inanimate and the animate, I have wrestled with stones, I have opposed the will of water, I have contested with God and Men. Some of those struggles I won. Some of them I lost. Some of them I struggled until the sweet darkness of exhaustion laid me low, to wake, to struggle again, to sleep, to wake, to struggle until it was all I knew. Then I would sleep, having no knowledge of winning or losing, deep and dreamless sleep from which I awoke, uncertain if I was awake or dreaming. I have found scars on my body and my soul and never known where they came from, what their cause was, what they signified. Some of them are small and hidden and healed, scarcely visible in the half-light of memory. Others are deep and ugly and lend their form to the shape of me. Then there are times when I have not struggled, when I flowed through the rivers of life as smoothly as a glistening otter, or a trout, submerged in dark shadows and scarcely visible to the eyes of those of us who are earth bound. There are times when I have blossomed like an oak, green and brown and expansive and ancient, my boughs reaching widely to embrace all of the earth and the creatues of the earth. Those days have formed me as well, painted my face with smiles and tears and soft visaged awe. I am all of these things and I am none of them. Sometimes I struggle and sometimes I do not.

Sharing: God Speaks to Each of Us - Rainer Maria Rilke

God speaks to each of us before we are,
Before he's formed us then, in cloudy speech,
But only then, he speaks these words to each
And silently walks with us from the dark:

Driven by your senses, dare
To the edge of longing. Grow
Like a fire's shadowcasting glare
Behind assembled things, so you can spread
Their shapes on me as clothes.
Don't leave me bare.

Let it all happen to you: beauty and dread.
Simply go no feeling is too much
And only this way can we stay in touch.

Near here is the land
That they call Life.
You'll know when you arrive
By how real it is.

Give me your hand.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Daily Life: 7.5 Minutes

Today at work I spent the day in small things. It was not a deliberate choice, but rather the result of circumstances. My manager is on vacation, so I was filling in for her. One of my analysts was on vacation so that redistributed some of the daily work load. My lead analyst was in the final stages of a block deployment, so I was taking her daily calls as well.

It the space of a normal work day I dealt with 67 unrelated items. They ranged in complexity from writing a complex data analysis string for a strategic partner to explaining to someone where they could find a document they were looking for. At the end of the day it turned out that I had dealt with a different subject once every 7.5 minutes.

The day passed in one long blur. About midway through it I realized I was probably not going to get anything complex accomplished, so I just settled in and rode the shallow choppy waves. My work is often split between three distinct areas and that is one of the things that can make it so challenging. There are the short choppy waves like today, there are the deep cyclic waves of projects, and there are the items related to managing personnel. I have great folks who work for me and we have worked together in different iterations for years now, so many of the personnel issues that other managers have to deal with (the internal bickering, the pettiness, the small minded meaness) simply do not exist in my organization, for which I am thankful, but there are still the daily issues of managing personnel - coordinating workload, coordinating schedules, assisting with priorities, change management, etc.

As long as the three forms of my work have a divider it is manageable. When the dividers evaporate and I am having to deal simultaneously with all three forms, then it can become highly stressful - steer a project, answer a detailed time sensitive question, and deal with personnel issues all at once, well that is a challenge. I am thankful that this year has been busy but manageable. I actually came out of the short choppy day today in a good mood, energized rather than exhausted by the flow of the day. Tomorrow should be relatively quiet - is the A Friday, so most folks will be out and I can, hopefully, focus on a couple of the "deep cycle" things I have on my plate.

Stress is relative of course. I went to lunch today with my friend Don. Don has a fairly stressful job himself, but when he joined me he made the comment that he had rented the movie Defiance (with Daniel Craig and Leiv Schreiber) and that quite obviously stress was a relative thing. If you haven't seen the movie I would recommend it, it is a good drama. Here is a link to the IMDB entry for Defiance. Don is right of course, all stress is relative. We might have work stress, but at the end of the day we shut down the computer, drive home into the beautiful California evening, and enjoy the lives we live here in this small slice of paradise.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Daily Life: Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Okay, lunch was a Vietnamese Chicken Noodle soup. Except, uh, I have no clue what made it Vietnamese. It was chicken and noodles and vegetables. It looked like ordinary chicken noodle soup. It tasted like ordinary chicken noodle soup. Maybe there was magic in it that I just didn't see. Maybe naming it Vietnamese soup was a calculated marketing ploy. I guess it is just hard to say. It was good soup though and that is what matters.

My brain was refusing to settle into anything specific this morning. It was mostly just merrily jumping from topic to topic to topic, all with minimal intervention from me. I am going to blame a good night sleep, a vividly visual dream, and an early awakening into a beautiful California dawn.

I find that I often use the word beautiful to describe the weather here. I largely do that because it is true. This area has just astounding weather. Even our bad weather is beautiful. We have a tight and temperate weather range here, with the only real variation being the occasional hot spell and the occasional long drenching winter storms. Between the two of them though they probably only account for about two months of weather, maybe less. That leaves us with ten other months where, for one reason of the other, it's beautiful. It is a terrible burden, but I like to think we bear it with grace.

I came into work early this morning with the intention of leaving early and running a few small errands. I had planned on running them last night, but once I got home I came to the conclusion that I was done for the day and spent a very nice and very quiet evening at home. It was one of those evenings where I scarcely bothered to turn on the television and never turned on the stereo. I read deeply into "Royal Assassin" by Robin Hobb. I had a great telephone call with TR. Then I drifted deeply into sleep and dreamed the very vivid and visual dream.

I've been turning something over in my mind for the last couple of days. I am thinking about "telling other people's stories". Often, in my journal, I restrict the stories I tell to my own stories, in part because I am not really comfortable taking other people's business "onto the street". What people I know are experiencing or have experienced are some pretty great stories. I encourage them to tell them, to write them down, to surrender them to the world, but most folks decline for one reason or the other. What I have been thinking about and mulling over and may write more on later is this - is it appropriate to tell someone else's story? If so, what are the parameters within which it is appropriate? What are the protocols for telling other people's stories? I don't have any answer today, just mulling the thought around.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Daily Life: A Golden Sunset

The day is ending with a golden sunset and I am looking forward to curling up with a book and going to sleep early tonight. I woke up a little too early this morning - I had a small raft of incidental things to deal with at work and I figured the extra hour or two would help. It did - I ended the day in a better place than I started it and that is always progress when it comes to life in the corporate world.

I was a big fan of Joss Whedon's "Firefly" television series and I loved the movie "Serenity". Earlier tonight I was over at Sci Fi Wire reading and I googled the actress Summer Glau (who played River Tam in Firefly and Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles) to see what she was doing next, now that the Terminator television series is finished. While I was out there wandering the internet I found this button above. If you were a fan of the series, you will understand why it is very amusing.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Daily Life: A Day of Small Things

I've been moving through a day of small things. Somewhere between last night and this morning, in my relatively small apartment, I misplaced the leather holder for my iPhone and my Bluetooth headset. I am sure where they are I set them down together and I am sure I had both of them when I came into the apartment last night. I am also sure that I will arrive home this evening and both of them, most likely, will be in plain sight and I will wonder how I managed to miss them this morning.

That got me to thinking about small things today and that thought stream was reinforced at work. I often spend a significant portion of my day in teleconferences. That is part of the life of a modern manager in a large company. When I am on teleconferences and they start to run long I will often walk over to the conference room and pace in circles. On a long teleconference I can easily walk a mile or more in repeated circles, first one direction and then the others. In the conference room there is a narrow place where the chairs around the table make for a narrow passage past a copier/printer.

Today, I stopped and pushed the conference table a few inches to one side, widening this little passage way to something that is comfortable to walk through without bumping into a chair on one side or the copier/printer on the other. That sort of crystallized my small things thought stream. As near as I could recall that was always a narrow passage area. Why didn't I slide the table over a few inches before? I've been in this work area going on two years now and I am pretty sure that passage has been narrow for the duration of that time. I am sure I've bumped into either the chair or the printer/copier a half a hundred times or more.

It just has me wondering how many other small things there are that I should do, that I need to do, that I would like to do - but just haven't done them because as single items they don't rise up high enough on the list of things that need to be done and they are definitely not on the list of things that I want to do. Maybe I should take and dedicate a day to wandering around my spaces and just - doing the small things that catch my eye.

I have flirted, at times, in my mind, with the idea of radical simplicity. Striping everything extraneous out, clearing my world of almost all of my "stuff". The challenge I have always run into is - I fight that urge within myself to store things for a rainy day. Never mind that when that rainy day comes, for the most part, it will not be stuff that I already have and instead be an excuse to get more stuff. Yes, I am dangerously close to channeling George Carlin there! Anyway, that is what I contemplating today as I move into the afternoon. I've finished my morning meetings. I've got the typical Monday correspondence and telephone calls cleaned up and I am ready to tackle the "to do" list. The sun has burned off the morning fog. I don't have anything planned for this evening, so I may take advantage of it and swing by the Laundromat to run a couple of loads of clothes through and get dinner at the deli down the street.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Daily Life: Sunnyvale Art and Wine Festival

Today was the second day of the Sunnyvale Art & Wine festival, so that was the centerpiece of the day. It has been an excellent weekend and I am wrapping it up relatively tired. I awoke early this morning, spend some time online, wandering the wilds of the internet, and learning to use Tweetdeck (for Twitter) with T.R. It was a good morning, that ended in high spirits.

Then, I went up to the festival with Pierre and Helen, had a nice lunch at Tao Tao in downtown Sunnyvale, wandered the festival and looked at the arts, crafts, and people and took some pictures. (I will transfer the pictures from the camera to Flickr sometime this week - with the new computer I have to instally Adobe Photoshop on it, which I have not got around to yet.) After the festival we stopped at Cupertino Square for ice cream at Coldstone Creamery and I picked up Volume 11 in Bill Willinghams "Fables" series at Legends.

From there, I swung over to meet Tony at Carrows for dinner (Belgium Waffle) and conversation about our favorite topic - science fiction! Then, I swung home, watched an HBO movie about Winston Churchill starring Brendan Gleason, took a hot bath and an unintentional nap. I swear, I just laid down for a moment and slept about an hour. Woke up for a phone call and came online to make this journal entry, and now I am going to go read myself to sleep. It is going to be a short read since I am already fighting to keep my eyelids open.

All in all it has been an excellent summer weekend here in San Jose.

Photography: Delicate Blossoms

Friday, June 5, 2009

Daily Life: Friday Slips Past

I slept in this morning for an extra pair of hours. The last week pretty much flew by on falcon's wings. Things were what I often refer to as "incidentally busy". Incidentally busy is when many small incidents occupy a lot of time, but you reach the end of the week and looking back you cannot put a finger on any one thing that took up the time.

After sleeping I came online for a while and wandered the internet, spending time in chat and time googling and a very pleasant morning in conversations with T.R.. About eleven A.M. I finally got rolling. I went out and got some lunch (a spinach salad with some chicken florentine), ran a couple of errands, and then circled back home for an afternoon nap. Despite being interrupted a couple of times during the nap (they are re-landscaping the front of the apartment complex, so several dump trucks full of dirt and rock made an appearance) it was a very good nap.

I had dinner with Tom at Frankie, Johnny & Luigi's and then we swung up to Fry's Electronics to look at movies. Tom picked up a pair - "Outpost" with Ray Stevenson (a.k.a. Titus Pullo from HBO's "Rome") and "Night Watch" with Ewan McGregor. Tom is a huge Ewan McGregor fan. I picked up the directors cut of one of my personal favorite movies (though it is not to everyone's taste) and that is "Brotherhood of the Wolf". I looked at a couple of other movies but decided what I really need to do is take an evening and update my movie inventory. I have a sizable movie collection and I have periodically bought movies I already owned.

Then, I slipped home about sunset, had a nice phone call, and then settled in to watch a movie. I tried to find a movie called "Final" on HBO, but it does not seem to be running here, so I made a note to check for it next time I am at one of the movie stores. It is a psychological thriller with Denise Leary. I watched the last hour or so of "Saving Private Ryan" on HBO, sent an email to some of my friends and I plead guilty to doing something I rarely do - a "cc multiple people with the same email because I am too lazy to write to each person individually".

I always dislike doing that, but sometimes it has to be done. Now, it is about fifteen minutes after ten, so I am going to curl up with "The Kings Assassin" by Robin Hobb and read myself to sleep. I am looking forward to Saturday and Sunday - our weather is supposed to be gray, cloudy, and cool, but today, though cloudy, was actually pretty pleasant.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Daily Life: A Bit More of Birds and Books


To dream of chirping and/or flying birds, represents joy, harmony, ecstasy, balance, and love. It denotes a sunny outlook in life. You are experiencing spiritual freedom and psychological liberation. It is almost as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.


To see books in your dream, indicates calmness. You are moving toward your goals at a slow and steady pace.?Books also symbolize knowledge, intellect, information and wisdom. Consider the type of book for additional clues. The dream may represent your calling into a specific field of work or an area that you need to devote more study to.


Well, I had a little bit of time in the inbetween and I went over to Dream Moods (thank you Cynthia) to check on the meaning of birds and books in a dream. I've posted the interpretations above for each of them respectively and I have to say I was pretty amazed at the accuracy of the interpretation from Dream Moods to capture the "mood of the dream". I woke from the dream of birds reading and discussing books in my room in a very good mood - definitely a sunny outlook on life and definitely a great feeling of wonder and calm. The morning of the dream I was talking to my dear T.R. and she imagined the dream as "chikadee's with chapbooks" and that image is also a delightful one to visualize.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Daily Life: Quick, Check Your Expiration Date

I was reading Live Science today and I came across this article - it seems that friends have an expiration date! It said that "Half of all friends are replaced every seven years!"

I immediately checked my expiration date. It seems to have worn off, so I have no idea what it is. That made me think of one of the greatest movies ever made - Ridley Scott's "Bladerunner". If you have never seen Bladerunner you should immediately rent it and watch it. It is a simply brilliant piece of film.

One of the key plot points is that the androids (the beautifully damaged "Roy Batty" as portrayed by Rutger Hauer) has a pre-programmed life span of seven years from their "incept date", the date on which they were created. The movie itself is a brilliant exploration of what it means to be human and what it means to love. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Daily Life: A Quick Shower of Rain

Shortly after I finished the last entry the skies opened up and gave us a quick ten minutes of heavy down pour, so now the apartment, which is wide open, smells of summer rain. Simply beautiful.

Daily Life: Decommissioning Two Computers

I have not been a prolific writer in the last couple of days. Most of my free time has been spent in configuring the new laptop and decommissioning the older laptop and tower. It is kind of astounding the amount of electronic “stuff” we keep around. One of the things that added to the overally length of time it is taking me is I go into a specific folder and then, rather than simply back the contents up and delete the folder –I start to read thing and look at things. It is a lot like cleaning out the boxes in the closet. It is easy to do – as long as you don’t look into the boxes! I have set aside some of the older things I have written, from long before I ever had the online journal, and I will clean them up a little and share them here as I go through the folders. Tonight though, my plan is simple – an early trip to bed, some reading, and then a long night of sleep.