Friday, July 31, 2009
I've updated my Flickr photostream with a new set of 10 photos I call "Santa Cruz Incidentals". I took the images a few weeks back when I went down to Santa Cruz for lunch with Don on a lazy weekend day. This is one from the set. I hope you enjoy them.
I haven’t written much lately – I think this particular vacation was driven by a strong need to just get away from many things and turn the brain off, mostly. The San Diego Comic Con was an excellent time, at it always is. The city of San Diego was also an enjoyable place to spend the time. But, all in all, it is good to be home.
We got back into San Jose on Wednesday and then I spent most of yesterday morning lazing around and the afternoon running incidental errands and stocking my pantry with groceries. Then, I had a nice home cooked meal and settled in and watched a little TV, then closed the day out with a phone call. I thought about writing last night but I just wasn’t quite there. It seems to me like for this vacation I just needed a vacation from everything, including writing. But, the good news is, I have come back and am feeling truly rested and recharged.
I was just contrasting this August with last August when the stress was nearly breaking me. One year later and I am sitting in the cool and quiet living room, listening to those birds chirping, and very relaxed. Once again, after a nice vacation, it is good to be home.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
we'll be running behind the curve today - not sure what that will mean
in terms of traffic and parking, but we will see.
Today is the final day of the con, so the event schedule is light.
I'll spend a good portion of the day wandering the exhibit and vendor
floor searching for those hidden treasures.
All in all it has been a very enjoyable weekend, but as usual when the
con draws to a close - my feet with be glad to spend several days in
the propped up on something soft position.
I've kept incidental notes through the convention so I will share some
specific observations a little later. I've only opened my laptop once
since the convention began.
Sent from my iPhone
Friday, July 24, 2009
Petco and then walked over to the Omni for breakfast. Breakfast was
good, thought Tony reported that his hashbrowns tasted like salmon,
which is probably not the most desirable hashbrown taste.
We're starting the day with the aforementioned Farscape panel.
Farscape was a Sci-Fi original series that ran several years and was
Today the panels are mostly organized around mainstream media -
television and assorted movies, so we'll spend the day weaving in and
out of those panels. As usual, because many events run in parallel,
choices have to be made. My first choice was between this panel and
the Stargate Universes panel. Tough choices, but I am looking forward
to the day.
Sent from my iPhone
Thursday, July 23, 2009
starts in about 25 minutes. The crowd was relatively sane this
morning. We parked at Petco Park (home of the Padres) and walked over,
about a quarter of a mile. As we waiting to cross Harbor, a long train
of people dressed as vampires went by, promoting Chris Angel's latest
show. I grabbed took some pictures and will upload a couple a little
There was an amusing moment at breakfast, at a diner along Hotel
Circle South. A Japanese woman had taken a seat at the counter and
ordered her breakfast. Upon it's arrival she reached into her bag and
pulled out her camera and took a picture of her food! Yes! It is good
to know I am not the only one who takes pictures of his food.
Sent from my iPhone
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
at Janet's in Alpine. I had read that it was the best place in San
Diego for breakfast. Once again I hang up on the word best, but it was
I had the country Benedict (poached eggs, sauage, on a buttermilk
biscuit) and Tony had the Spanish omelet. I am happy to report that
the reviewer did not lie. Both were excellent.
We ate breakfast being watched by dead deer hanging from the walls. I
think they were casting accusing eyes at me! Or, that may have been
the long table of cops next to us. Either way it was a good breakfast
and a pleasant drive into the desert mountains east of California.
That is some rough looking country.
Sent from my iPhone
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
the clam chowder and it was very good. Best is a pretty high standard
and so I am going to have to try some other clam chowders while I am
here. Dinner was very good all in all, followed by a quiet and
relaxing evening at the resort.
Sent from my iPhone
Monday, July 20, 2009
I slept late for me, until about 8:00 AM, then came online for a while, then made a light breakfast and settled in to pay bills, cover the rent, make some banking adjusts, read the mail, and print out my itinerary for the San Diego trip, making sure I have all the confirmation numbers for air, hotel, car, and convention. (That is sure one convulutedly long sentence.)
Once that was done I popped out and had lunch at El Burro in Campbell and then stopped at Marshall's and got a new suitcase. My old large suitcase has probably over a hundred trips on it and is ready to be retired. Marshall's happened to have a nice Samsonite on sale at about half price, so I picked it up. Because I have traveled a lot in the course of this life, I am very good at traveling very light - this trip is the exception. I will travel light on the way down, but I will definitely travel heavy on the way back, so I have to make sure I pack in such a way that I have space for my acquisitions on the return trip.
My friend Tony asked me the other day if I was looking for anything particular on this trip to the San Diego Comic Con and I had to think about it. I would like to add a couple of acquisitions to my collection, but I don't have anything particular in mind. I've decided to redecorate my apartment and so I might look for a few quality pieces while I am down in San Diego. Time will tell. I will start packing this afternoon, with the intention of packing everything but the electronics gear. That will get rounded up and packed tomorrow morning.
All in all it has been a very good day (and that followed a very good weekend), so I am excited about flying down to San Diego tomorrow morning. I will spend the evening at home, just relaxing, packing slowly, and doing those last minute chores that will insure I return to a comfortable apartment. Which means running through the fridge and throwing things out to make sure I don't come home to a science experiment gone awry.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Well, today was nice and relaxing day. It started with a good nights sleep and waking from a dream where I was rescuing a beautiful blonde from a circus wagon in a deep wooded forest. She was being held captive in a circus cage (like the kind you see lions and tigers in) in the camp, which was in a deep wooded area. The circus wagons were scattered about, as were tents and caravans, and the area was lit by low burning fires, banked against the night. There was really nothing dramatic about the rescue itself, I basically just walked in quietly and freed her. It was a vivid dream that I enjoyed though.
Then, morning coffee and toast, a bit of time online and I was off to have breakfast with my friend Tyrone and Tony. It was a good breakfast and good conversation. From there, a stop at Fry's Electronics (I picked up a lens cleaning cloth).
I was supposed to socialize with friends during the afternoon and evening today, but I called it on account of impending heat. I did not want to get trapped in. It was a wise decision on my part, the heat soared to mid-nineties. We then popped out and saw a movie (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) which was - okay. It had structural problems and pacing problems, but was otherwise a solid addition to the Harry Potter franchise.
After the movie, I slipped home in the heat, fired up the air conditioning, had some lunch and watched "Dirty Pretty Things" on DVD. It is an excellent movie if you have never seen it. I highly recommend it. It is a drama about immigrants in London and black market organ transplants, starring Audrey Tatou and Chiwetel Ejiofor, directed by Stephen Frears. From there I took a nap, spend some time reading "Blood Engines" by T.A. Pratt, then wrapped of the evening with a great conversation with T.R..
Now, it is slipping past 10:00 PM and I am going to wrap it up shortly and call it a night. My plan tomorrow is to sleep in, maybe go to Mass (if I wake up early enough), and then spend the day doing the incidental things to prep for vacation - make sure the refrigerator has no potential science experiments, run a couple of loads of laundry through, and generally just get things in order. I like to have things cleaned and in order when I return from vacation, specifically so I do not have to deal with them on return.
There were no great insights today, but it was a day intended to be entirely without them. When I start my vacation it usually takes me three or four days to get unwound and unwrapped and into true vacation mode. I often suspect that it is the first Monday on vacation when it really sinks in, otherwise it just feels like a typical weekend. All plans for tomorrow are subject to change at the spur of the moment, which is one of the great parts about being on vacation!
Friday, July 17, 2009
I made a pot of coffee and toasted some wheat bread, slathered with strawberry preserves and then came online for a while, to move slowly into the morning reading #haiku at Twitter. I talked with T.R., which always makes my day. Then, unexpectedly, there was a knock at the door…
Fortunately, it was not a zombie, an alien or a S.W.A.T. team. (Though, in San Jose, we have “Merge” and not SWAT. I am not sure what MERGE stands for. I am sure it is something sufficiently scary.) It was my nephew Tom, checking to see if I wanted to go get some breakfast and then catch the movie “The Hurt Locker” at a matinee. We had talked about it early in the week, but had not really confirmed it. However, one of the great things about vacation is that, when we are freed of the confines of the clock, we can simply say “Yes” and go.
We had breakfast at The Skillet in Campbell, then ran a few errands while we waited for the matinee. We stopped at Fry’s Electronics so Tom could pick up a movie (he was looking for “Born in East L.A.”). I picked up some odds and ends for my upcoming trip and some electronic cleaning supplies.
From there, we stopped at Stevens Creek Surplus and I picked up a day pack. My old day pack is nearly twelve years old and has logged thousands of days and hundreds of hours and was on its last legs. It is now officially retired. It has been replaced by a brand spanking new High Sierra “Stretch”. I also picked up a package of heavy duty socks. San Diego will involve a lot of walking, both at the Comic Con and just as a general part of vacation.
Next we stopped at Big Five Sporting Goods and I bought a new pair of Speedo’s. Before you get all excited and start visualizing, it is a trunk style swimsuit. Leaving Big Five, we went over to CineArtes theatre in Santana Row and saw “The Hurt Locker”, directed by Kate Bigelow. It is a drama about an E.O.D. (explosive ordnance disposal) team in Iraq. It is an excellent and engrossing movie, well written, well acted, and well directed. After the movie, we popped down to Westgate Shopping Center and spent a little while drinking smoothies and people watching. Tom had to go to work, so I dropped him off, then stopped at the grocery store and picked up some ice cream (Sheer Bliss) and some Yoplait yogurt. I figure that the yogurt cancels the ice cream.
Once I got home, I carried my loot into the house and then took the new swim trunks for their inaugural swim. I am happy to report they are comfortable and worked perfectly fine. By luck of the draw I had the entire pool to myself, unusual on a hot day. After that, I slipped back inside the apartment, turned on the air conditioner, and have been reading Tweets and the news online. I’ve yet to decide if I am going out for dinner of if I am going to cook something simple up. I have a craving for Italian, but just haven’t decided if I am going to cook or let someone else do the cooking. All in all, it has been a very good first day. I posted some pictures earlier from my iPhone. Tonight the plan is to continue the slow fall into pure relaxation. My friends are getting together tomorrow to socialize and grill, so I am going to make an appearance over there later in the afternoon.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I just finished reading an article on how to make the iPhone battery last longer. Turn off the push, turn off WiFi, turn the screen brightness down and turn off the GPS location feature. All of the feature can be turned on if you need them. the iPhone battery barely makes it through a working day, so I suspect I will need to pick up an auxiliary battery if I expect it to make it through a vacation day.
One of the things I am looking forward to while on vacation is a chance to write with some degree of leisure. I have a stack of notes of things that I want to write about, but just haven't had the keyboard time to explore them to any depth.
I've also got about 20 boxes of assorted "stuff" left in my apartment. I want to take a day or two while on vacation and ruthlessly sort through them, disposing of some and donating the rest to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. I've been thinking about redecorating the apartment while on vacation. It's not that impressive of a chore, it will probably only take a day or two of hard work - it is a two bedroom, one bath apartment, so there isn't exactly a lot of space. Since I tend toward spare and simple when it comes to interior decorating it should be fairly straightforward.
I am looking forward to the San Diego Comic Con. It is always a wonderful experience. However, if you have crowd phobias, then I would definitely not recommend it. It is sold out - a total of 126,000 memberships. There will be lines to stand in line so you can stand in line for the other lines. But, that is part of the fun. I have been looking at the Con schedule to decide what I want to see, do and participate in, but I won't make the actual hard decisions until the last moment.
Today, now, here - I am trying to stay focused, move smoothly through the day, and start my vacation. And oh, did I mention that have become rather addicted to Twitter? Twitter is cool - there is an astounding amount of data flowing around out there and some of it fascinates me. I tweet regularly in #haiku (basically, micro-blogging in haiku form). I am going to gather some of the haiku I've written that I like better than others and reprint them here. Once the day is over my plan is to, as I told my dear T.R. a while ago - eat, tweet, sleep.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The heat and pollen have me sneezing quite expressively this morning. I suspect I am composing the Symphony of Allergy.
T-Minus 1 Day, Seven Hours, Forty-One Minutes to the start of vacation.
Whispering as a method of not attracting attention fails miserably. It only draws further attention to the conversation you don't want anyone to hear. Speak in a normal voice, than, most likely, your conversation will simply be lost in the background chatter.
I love the sun of summer, even if it is making me sneeze.
I often move through the course of a working day and think "okay, exactly how tough can this be"?
Did you ever notice that, ninety-nine percent of the time something goes wrong, it is usually due to something very simple, at the very base level, that went wrong?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I heard this song for the first time today and I was very impressed. The artist is Sarah Bareilles and the name of the song is "Vegas". Here is a link to YouTube.
Sarah Bareilles "Vegas"
Hope you enjoy.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Imagine a formless place…
Inside of it dwell the many parts of our imagination. All of the things we know. All of the things we've experienced. All of the things we've found in the sensual world. They all reside in there. Periodically, a force moves through the void. This force is the will, it is spirit of the imagination. It may be a single muse. It may be many small muses working in concert. They reach into the formless place, they find the things that are stored there, and they start the process of stringing them together. Through the process of creativity they bring the forms of narrative together into poetry and prose.
A thousand, ten thousand, maybe more stories are formed and shaped and queued up to be released into the waking world through the creative power of writing. It is an inexhaustible well of inspiration. We may periodically reach in and pull something out. We may periodically find that the muses have done a very complete job of assembling the objects of our imagination into a cohesive architecture. We may struggle to write a simple sentence, a single paragraph, the most basic of narratives. We may find that the muses have delivered to us splendid garments of whole cloth, entire wardrobes of imagination. It is from this formless place, from this well of imagination, that all of the stories we have told and will tell spring.
If you find yourself temporarily bereft of a coherent narrative, if you find that the stories or poems are not quite there, just relax. Form always flows out of formlessness. The well of the imagination is never empty. Sometimes, what we simply need to do, is find our way into that well and then, simply, sit. Sit and let the strange muses and the ordinary muses do their work. Trust that they are actively assembling something magnificent. Trust that they are building vast cathedrals of splendid materials.
We are simply human. We all go through life together, we all share a common path, we all know the same richness and depth and breadth of life. Our senses each day fill to the brim with the threads of life, awaiting the simple or complex weaves that pull them together. There is stillness inside the void. Rather than struggle against it, simply relax, take a deep breath, and let the muses do their work.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
So, I glance at the clock and think "I'll head home in about ten
minutes". The phone rings. I answer it. (Nooooo - never answer the
phone when it is almost time to go home!)
"Can you check something for me? I think the system is down."
It was. On the plus side I don't actually have to do anything. I
opened the trouble ticket. I called the vendor. I sent two status
email. Otherwise, I am just sitting here with my feet on the desk day-
dreaming and reading #haiku on Twitter.
Sent from my iPhone
I've started to think a little deeper about what I need to pack and that led me to an amusing moment. I was counting the chargers I need to take with me…
-Personal Laptop Charger
-Bluetooth Headset Charger
-Canon H50 Charger
-Canon DSC9 Charger
-Amazon Kindle 2 Charger
-Electric Razor Charger
Now, technically, just looking at that list, I could leave the Kindle and the electric razor behind. But, why? That is one of the good thing about what is essentially a "Stay-cation" (I am not leaving California). I also tend to not really worry about the clothes I pack - San Diego is a major metropolitan area, if I need anything, I can get it there.
I also started to think a little deeper about what I am going to do on vacation, other than eat, sleep, drink and stare at things. The organizing principle behind the vacation is the San Diego Comic Con, the ultimate pop-culture destination, where a 100,000+ people are going to gather celebrate "all things geek". Comic books. Graphic novels. Television. Movies. Among many, many other things.
I was reading on Twitter the other day that it is estimated that if you walk the entire floor of the San Diego Convention Center, past every booth on the Exhibitors floor - you will walk a total of ten miles. That sounds about right to me. I tried that one afternoon two years ago and given the crowds and the distance, it literally took me all afternoon (about five hours, including a stop midway for lunch).
I will blog through it of course I did last year as well (pop back to July 2008 on the archive over to the lower right and you can read some of those entries). Me and about ten thousand other people will be blogging and twittering our way through it. It is almost impossible to describe, but you will see it on the evening news and read about it in your local newspaper and I will be in the thick of it. Or, sitting exhausted on the sidewalk somewhere drinking a Starbucks iced mocha I stood in line for thirty minutes for.
The official program schedule of events is supposed to go up on the web sometime later today, so I will begin the process of mapping my path through the time-space quantum reality that is better than any circus! Because of my love of the written word, I will be analyzing it to calculate which writers I will be able to listen to. Last year, it was F. Paul Wilson and Dean Koontz. I am definitely looking forward to a similar prize this year.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The Aspen Ideas Festival
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I dreamt my living room was a chat room and that all my furniture was chatting. There was this particularly obnoxius lamp that irritating everyone in the chat room. I watched it for a while and I suddenly realized it was not my lamp - it was the magic lamp from Disney's Fantasia.
I like Fantasia but I haven't seen it in years, so the appeareance of the lamp was a little strange. But, on thinking about it as I drove into work this morning, I can easily see where the fertile subconscious was tilled and the lamp turned up.
I am going down to that ultimate pop-culture fest, the San Diego Comic Con, for vacation. It is, of course, the celebration of many things from popular culture, including comic books, graphic novels, and animation - of which Disney remains the American King of Animation. If I think of animated movies, the first ones that pop into my mind are the Disney classics of my youth.
One of my early movie memories is going to see "The Jungle Book" at the Elks Theatre in Rapid City, South Dakota with my brother Dusty and my dad. In was a winter night and after the movie we went to the diner next door and had apple pie and hot chocolate. It is a very good memory.
Monday, July 6, 2009
It was yet another beautiful California morning, nice and cool, some high clouds to the east, a pretty sunrise and a smooth commute into work. Work itself has been quiet and productive. I suspect the quiet comes because many people are probably either on their summer vacations or on an extended weekend from the 4th of July holiday.
I've been thinking this morning about writing and writers block. For me, writers block usually takes the shape of simply not being able to write that first sentence or that first paragraph. My mind moves around with all the potential ideas to write about but they just don't seem to make the trip to my finger tips to pour out on the virtual paper.
I can sometimes power through it by just sitting down and starting to write. Even if it is nonsense words or phrases or sentences, once I have physically started to write, then the ideas themselves will come flowing out down the same path. So, often what I will do is open a document and simply start writing.
"The sun is shining outside…"
"My shoes are snug on my feet…"
"My coffee cup is off white and has a US Savings Bonds decal on it, I got it from a bond drive at work a few years ago…"
As I move through the process of writing just very ordinary things I find that I can often keep flowing into writing more significant things.
When it comes to external distractions, I find that sometimes I can write through them without even noticing. Other times the external distractions serve to pull me off center and make it more difficult to putting the words on paper. That is not exclusive to writing though, I find it often happens in the office as well. Sometimes the external distractions pass by unnoticed. Other times they gain a disproportional weight and drag me to a point of inactivity as I wait for them to pass.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Then, as I was puttering around the house, I happened on one of my favorite movies on HBO. That movie is "Fierce Creatures", with Kevin Kline, John Cleese, and Jamie Lee Curtis. The sequel-that-is-not-a-sequel to "A Fish Called Wanda", I must have seen "Fierce Creatures" a dozen times or more over the years. It is one of those movies that is better with each re-watching. It is sweet and funny.
If you have never seen either one of them, I highly recommend them. Chronologically "A Fish Called Wanda" comes first and then "Fierce Creatures". However, you can watch them in any order - content wise there is no relation between the two movies (though, "Fierce Creatures" has several inside jokes that you will miss if you haven't seen "A Fish Called Wanda"). They are referred to as "the sequel that is not a sequel" because they have the exact same cast, just in different roles, and in that rarity among movies, "Fierce Creatures" manages to capture the spirit of "A Fish Called Wanda".
There was no way I could pass up watching "Fierce Creatures" again, so I made myself a brownie sundae and settled in for two hours of sweet, delicious, good spirited fun. They really are a pair of astounding movies.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
green tree outside the bedroom window. A light snack of toast and
strawberry preserves, a pot of good coffee. I played with the computer
and got distracted by following TR on Twitter and posted to #haiku for
the first time! LOL Twitter fascinates me.
Then, breakfast with my friend Tyrone at the Hickory Pit. I ran a few
morning errands, then a lazy, amusing, enjoyable afternoon with my
circle of friends at Pierre & Helens, including dinner. I called it an
early evening, drove home to dodge the traffic.
I had a great conversation with TR, and then planned on watching a
movie. I watched part of a lifetime movie called "Wisegal" with Alyssa
Milano, but kept nodding off.
Now, I am sprawled in bed reading while fireworks crackle outside,
some near, some far. I am reading Koontz and will most likely drop off
in a few chapters. I am looking forward to tomorrow, it should be an
excellent summer Sunday.
Sent from my iPhone
Friday, July 3, 2009
I logged onto work and did some production validation of a bit of software code that was released today (that went smoothly), then answered some work emails and consulted with one of my people who was working on a project.
After that, I ran through the shower, had toast and coffee for breakfast, then logged online to play for a while. I ended up getting totally lost in google images looking at, among other things, pictures of hands with my dear T.R. When I say lost, I mean lost - I think I spent three hours doing it! Now, I have finally broken out of the grasp of google and am going to fix something for lunch and watch a movie. It is a very nice and very lazy California day.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
It has certainly made the time fly by. This week is a classic example - I am three days through a four day and week and it seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. In ten working days I will start my vacation and be blessedly free of work for a remarkable 17 straight days (counting the overlapping weekends). I cannot remember when hung that much time off on a single thread.
Additionally, for the first time is about five years I am going on vacation without a major program, project, or problem hanging over me. It the previous years when I have gone on vacation I have always had to take my work laptop, so I could attend meetings, teleconferences, review data, etc. This time - I am leaving it behind!*
There have been some unintended side-effects though. In addition to the aforementioned flow of time I also suspect it is related to my feeling that I am not writing as much as I normally do, nor as diversely as I normally do. Often, especially when I was home, I would have the laptop fired up while I was doing other things - I would write while watching a movie, or I would write while playing guitar, or I would write while eating dinner.
I am pretty sure that in the space between spaces I was carving out an extra hour a day or more to write. The other observation is this - I seem to be one of those people who is both more outgoing and more productive when I am crunched for time. I suspect it is because the time crunch means I have to be better at managing my time and carve out specific blocks of time to do those things that I want to do.
I can also attribute part of the feeling of a lack of productivity to the iPhone. The iPhone has a touch screen key pad and, in my experience with it, it is no where near as convenient or as quick as thumb typing on the QWERTY keyboard in a Blackberry or any other device that has an actual keyboard. The iPhone is fine for firing off short notes and texting, but for anything longer, it is just not as good - it is purely hunt and peck. On the Blackberry I could write entire paragraphs and long documents with ease.
Finally, I think there has been a third influence and that is the Amazon Kindle 2. I am already a rather voracious reader and the convenience of the Kindle 2 has definitely increased the amount of time I spend reading - if you can afford one, and you are a voracious reader, well, I definitely give that device both thumbs up. The application that allows you to read your Kindle 2 books on the iPhone also gets a big thumb's up from me. Basically what it means is that, wherever I go, I have the current book I am reading with me. I am sure some of the time that used to be spent in incidental writing has fallen over into the incidental reading category.
So, I am single tasking, time is flying, and I am enjoying myself but trying to figure out how to carve more time to write out of my day. I am pretty sure it is just a matter of applying some discipline and focus and over the next couple of weeks I am going to try and move over into that space. I think that is really the only tweak I want to make in my 2009 New Years Resolutions.
*It is more of a psychological thing than anything else, I will take my personal laptop with me on vacation and I'll be able to access work email from there via VPN, but it will be a different feeling because I won't HAVE to do. Funny how that single phrase "you have to do it" can turn into a burden.