Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wrath of the Titans - Pointless but Awesome

My review of "Wrath of the Titans" can be summed up very succinctly.  "Pointless but Awesome."  If you decide to go to this movie set aside any expectations and just plan on being entertained by an amazing piece of eye candy - and I don't mean Sam Worthington or Rosamund Pike.  The entire movie is a visual sugar cookie.  Don't think about about what is inside of it.  Just enjoy it.

Friday, March 30, 2012


There was a time when I led a life that was relatively uncensored. I was what I was - nothing more and nothing less.  Somehow, in the course of the last couple of years, I have found myself censoring myself more often then before. In my personal life, in my professional life.  I seem to be struggling to find a balance point.

There are risks involved in being uncensored.  The risk that you will be hurt. The risk that honesty will cause problems.  The desire to smooth out the social edges and the desire to not put yourself into a position where you can be hurt.  All of these are reasons, and there are many more, for us to censor ourselves.

But, in the end, when we live a censored life, who wins? Frankly, most of the people you censor yourself for could care less. We are the core of our own lives, but we are rarely the core of other peoples lives. We are, at best, a peripheral event that rises in significance and falls.  So, when we censor ourselves to smooth the edges, we run the risk of losing our center.  We run the risk of becoming that which we are not.

I haven't got any answers today. I only have the observation. There was a time when I led a life that was relatively uncensored.  Now, when I find myself censoring myself, I find that the core of me has been drifting.  I can see it, especially, in the lack of creative writing that I do.  I once reveled in the joy of creation, in the joy of writing, in drawing, in playing my guitar.  I am still thrilled by the act of creation, but I don't do it as often.  I make other choices. Those choices are farther from my core.  At my core, I love to create. The censor is always the enemy of the creator.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

High Point

There was definitely a high point today.  That was when I handed the final conversion files off to the vendor, having solved the last problem in the early hours of the morning, and then having constructed an ad hoc database to do some data translations.  It was a good feeling. I immediately wanted to take a nap.  Now, all that remains is the implementation, which is underway.  If the project is a plane coming in for a landing, we've passed the point of no return and the runway is rushing up toward us.  Indicator light or no indicator light the gear had better be locked down or we are going to slide in with a shower of sparks!  At this point, I am fairly confident the gear is locked down.  With that note, I am off for the night.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The 100th Hurts

I hate failing so much that if I am successful 99 times out of 100, I can focus almost exclusively on the 100th time, the one time I failed, even though the 99 other times were successful. It is a trait that makes me very hard on myself. Whenever I fail, I try to figure out why then try to alter my behavior to make sure that I don’t fail again. But I am human, I have my failures and my frailties. They hurt.

I struggled today to succeed on the project that I have been nurturing along for the last couple of weeks.  We are going live starting tomorrow morning with the final go live Tuesday, when the conversion of some 9,000 plus records are updated.  There have been about twenty total requirements related to the project and we had to negotiate some of them away, simply because the technology (and money) were not there.  We are going to go live with about a ninety percent solution – successful in nearly any book, but frustrating to me because it wasn’t one hundred.

I struggled today with my personal relationship because I failed to meet an expectation and an obligation in a place where I have failed before. That hurt her and that hurt me. I am going to bed tonight with a heavy heart over the incident.  99 out of 100.  And the 100th hurts.

Monday, March 26, 2012

An Arrow to the Eye

Over the weekend I was glancing through some zen related articles and books at Barnes & Noble and the chapter heading in one of the books was "An Arrow to the Eye".  It was basically about how we are blinded by concentrating on the wounds we've suffered, whatever they were.  I thought about that today as I moved through the morning.

My monkey mind can run away on the drive to work.  It is that place where I start to transition from my personal life to my work life and I start to run through the various things at work that irritate me, that confound me, that anger me and hurt me.  It is a list, a litany, a chant of disappointment - and there is really no reason I should focus on it.  I essentially like the content of my work, I like most of my co-workers, I enjoy my job most of the time - but during that morning drive, I have a hard time focusing on that good things about it. 

During that morning drive my mind focuses on the arrow to the eye.  Today, it took me about two hours to get over it, to get past it, to get around it and to let it go.  I found the mental exercise of removing the arrow from my eye helped me move past it, though that is no gaurantee that I will stay past it.  Each day seems to be a struggle in that regard.  Sometimes it feels like every day I get him by a new arrow, a new small indignity, a new something that just irritates me.  Now, in the course of the day, where a hunred things happen, I am really talking about only a handful of things - two or three, each day, but for reasons known primarily to itself, those are the moments, those are the things that I end up focusing on, and then they drag me into that place where my monkey mind is going wild.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sometimes The World Gets Loud

Moving through the modern world there are times when the world simply gets too loud.  I am having one of those days.  I had a nice brunch with friends, then ran a set of errands (Fry's, Home Depot, Barnes & Noble), then started to look around for a new watch band at a couple of different places.  As I did, I noticed that the world was starting to get too loud.

The ambient music in the stores, the sound of other peoples cars, the overheard conversations - all of them were just too loud. I took that as a sign that it was time to go home and try and find some pease and silence. I am not sure what triggers days like that, sometimes I don't think there is a specific trigger, that it just happens.  Maybe there is a threshhold where we have simply heard enough.  When you consider all of the artifical noises in our modern world, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games

The highlight of the day, for me, was seeing "The Hunger Games" with Jennifer Lawrence.  I am a big fan of the books, so I was looking forward to the movie and wasn't disappointed.  Pure escapism fiction at it's best and excellent casting in the talented Ms. Lawrence. I also count myself a huge fan of "Winters Bone".  If you liked the Hunger Games and you've never seen Winters Bone, I would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Another Delay

We hit another delay at work, slipped another go-live date because we couldn't quite get through the test cycle.  On the plus side, it gives me a window of time to work a coordination issue that needs about four to eight more hours of work. 

No one really to blame on this project - I was commenting to my friend Tony tonight that - if they had just given the project adequate time they would have brought it in at about the same time frame, with a lot less stress and drama.  It just reinforces my opinion that you should never rush things toward imaginary deadlines - let them flow at their own pace.

Slow and steady wins almost all the time.

It is a quiet evening at home, I am spending the evening watching the DVR and just easing into the night after yesterdays 11 hour work day.  I will probably log another long day tomorrow, just to close things out before I start a three day weekend.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An Amusing Mess

So, it is four working days later and the project I've been working on is essentially in the same place - no successful system test, no successful conversion test. This project was jammed through without adequate time or resources. There was no technical discovery phase. Each of three teams involved worked independently of each other and consequently, I don't think anything worked like it should have.

It is a classic example of an engineering project failing because the team involved didn't follow their own processes. Process, especially standardized processes, exist for a reason. When properly designed they insure that all the necessary steps are adequately done. Miss a step and you stumble - that is a simple adage and it is simply true.

The problems are purely technical - they are undiscovered features of the tools and underlying code that impact the functionality. In one case, the design is running headlong into a tangle of business rules prohibiting certain transactions. In the other case is has run into previously undiscovered data relationships. An amusing mess.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Inside John Wayne

I am sitting inside John Wayne Airport with about an hour and a half to pass before my flight back to San Jose.  They are currently boarding a flight to SFO, so there is a whole ine of strange looking people standing in front of me.  I am often amused by the varieties of dress you see when people are traveling - everything from high fashion to ultra casual - and most of that range is occupied by women.  Men tend to dress in a smaller tighter range that goes from casual to business - and that is about it.  Since this is the home of Disneyland, many of the people passing by are dressed in Disney Tourist (which is a distinct style, as anyone who has ever been to one of the various Disney parts can attest).

It has been a smooth morning.  I got a fairly good night sleep, a lazy start, a smooth trip to the airport and a quick passage through security, despite the fact that I had a small bottle of water in my carry on that I had completely forgotten about.  It is going to be good to get home this evening. One of the best things about traveling is coming home.  No matter where you have gone, no matter what you are doing, all journeys are about, eventually, returning home.

Wondercon was pretty enjoyable.  On the last day we saw a couple of presentations (Alcatraz, Fringe and Once Upon A Time), then hit the vendor floor. I picked up an autographed copy of "Y" at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund booth, then a pair of prints from Pascal Campion (check out his work at ).  Art-wise, it was a good trip for me and I ended up with a couple of things that are nice little additions to collection.

Even though the vacation has been pleasant, I had a tough time shaking work.  I managed to resist the temptation to log on and check my email - I will do that tonight when I get home just to make sure I don't have a cold walk into a chaotic Tuesday. I made sure that everyone had my cell phone number when I left for vacation, so there was always the opportunity for them to call me in the event of total chaos.  That they didn't leads me to assume that nothing arose that created a crisis that could not be handled.

But, to be honest, I didn't like that work intruded so heavily into my mind while I was on vacation. I am going to have to carefully think about that and about the days to come. In many ways I still fundamentally like my job, but I find myself in an environment that impairs that enjoyment.  It doesn't make the work harder, it makes the environment more chaotic and I spend a lot more time trying to work my way through all that chaos and less time doing what I consider to be productive work.

Though at times I hate to think about it, it may simply be that I have reached the end of my shelf-life at The Evil Corporation and it may be time to seek the next step in my career journey. I don't really like to think about that - but it may simply be the case.  All things come to end, so that all other things can begin.  It may just be that I am ending for the new beginning. 

As I've gone through the last couple of years, one of this parts of this particular journey has been my movement toward a more minimalist life style. It has been a journey of peaks and valleys - or surging change and slow contentment. It may be time that I consider minimalizing my career, consider changing it to something purer.  (Okay, appropos of nothing, a young asian woman just walked by wearing tiny tinkling bells, which stopped all conversation and everyone looked to see what the source of the noise was.)  I have plenty to contemplate in the coming days.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sir Ridley Scott

One of the cool things about attending events like Wondercon is a chance to see some artist you admire in a panel setting. Such encounters can happen informally (while wandering the halls, or standing in line at Starbucks) or in the panel settings, which range from the small and intimate to the big and burly. Today, I was fortunate enough to attend a panel with an artist whose work is always inspiring - Sir Ridley Scott.

He was at Wondercon promoting "Prometheus" with the writer and a pair of cast members, and he spoke briefly and took a few questions and showed the trailer - a typical type junket. However, since I consider Blade Runner to be one of the greatest films ever made, it was a thrill for me just to see him in person. Alien scarred my psyche, Blade Runner made me question what it means to be human - and who knows what Prometheus will do to me.  It was a very cool geek moment and, for me at least, the highlight of the trip.

It has been a nice little vacation - alternating between interesting and restful, which is what a vacation should be. It rained most of the day today, but I would characterize it as a rather light rain - nothing of epic proportions, which is what I was hoping for. I spent the day wandering the vendor floor and in the presentation panels, with a few breaks for a late lunch and an early dinner.  There is in insane line at the Starbucks here in the hotel - thirty to fifty people deep, literally all day long.  They are like legalized crack dealers with a monoply on the street corner.

I am sliding into the night following a nice hot bath. I am looking forward to a conversation with TR, who is getting ready to travel as well on her side of the earth.  Then, I think I am going to wind my way into the evening doing some reading.  Oh, I was going to pick up a copy of Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund booth, but there was a bit of a crowd there when I stopped by, so I figure I will swing by tomorrow.  I hope it is still there, but if it isn't, I am sure I can find something else worth picking up and adding to the collection.

Interesting, At Times Surreal

The morning is cool and rainy here in southern California.  I am currently sitting at the desk in the Anaheim Convention Center Hilton, having just paid my bills. (One of the things that is great about the modern world - electronic bill pay.)  I've had a lazy morning. I slept in until about 6:45 a.m., which is late for me, took an easy shower, breakfast at the hotel buffet, and now lazing into the morning with an extra round of laziness on order.  I may head down to the hotel spa a bit later in the day for a steam, but the bulk of the day will most likely be spent over at Wondercon, wandering around in a state of perpetual geek amusement and amazement.

We spent most of the day yesterday wandering the vendor floor - in fact, the bulk of it was in Artists Alley and in the Independent Press sections.  I picked up a couple of things - a pair of small prints by a wonderful artist named Erin Leong ( and the special collectors edition of "Romeo and Juliet - The War" by Stan Lee, Terry Dougas, Max Work and Skan Srisuwan. I scoped out a lot of the other artists, as I am in the mood to pick up another print or two, and there were a couple that caught my eye, but I will circle back over the rest of the show and spend some time delving deeper into their catalogues.

The hotel has been nice - the room is very modern and spacious, the shower is great, and the hotel itself has been a treat.  They have an excellent lobby, perfect for hanging out in and people watching, they've got a good little spa, they have a nice pool, and they have some nice outdoor spaces.  When I have needed privacy for a personal phone call with T.R., I've gone out to the Lanai deck - it has been pretty nice - just kind of wandering around the courtyard in the cool night air, gazing around at the wealth and diversity of hotel dwelling humanity. There are a lot of tourists here (due to the proximity of Disneyland), so the people in the hotel are a mixture of four different groups - the Wondercon attendees, Disneyland tourists, some sort of Auditor training at the hotel itself, and the attendees to a high school volleyball tournament.  It has made the people watching portion of the trip interesting and at times surreal.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Travel As Liberation

I'm on a short trip for pleasure. My friend Tony and I are down in Anaheim for Wondercon and other vacation type activities. It was a smooth trip down and as we traveled I wondered about this. When I travel I always wonder why I don't travel more.

There is something liberating about travel. It's a profound and subtle sense of being somewhere else - a metaphysical sensation born from a physical sensation. Travel awakens within me the sense of possibility that is often lacking in the general course of the day. So tonight, I will fall asleep in the arms of possibility.
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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Waiting for the Weekend to End

The last week has been a whirlwind of work and incidental things - mostly work.  I've got a project that is aimed (somewhat unsteadily) at going live on Thursday the 15th - while at the same time I am trying to transition my former responsibilities off my plate.  The result has been work days that pass in a flash, with the usual array of work frustrations and stressors.  I am anticipating much of the same this week, in part because it is going to be a shorter than usual week.

I took Monday off so I could take a friend of mine in for an angiogram early Monday morning and then give him a ride home six hours later when he is finished.  Layer on top of that I have another appointment of my own at 1:30 PM Monday afternoon regarding the cracked callus on my foot.  Then, on Thursday I am going to fly down to Anaheim for a short vacation (and a chance to go to WonderCon).  So, I am anticipating that this week is going to pass in the blink of an eye - a very busy eye, but the blink of an eye either way. I am going to try to move quickly and efficiently through it, with a heart of compassion.  That is going to be the best that I can do.

My evening has been pretty simple - I checked work email to see what sort of developments happened over the weekend (nothing of significance except continued testing) and to try and get a jump on the week to come.  I am currently watching "The Walking Dead" on AMC, which is a pretty enjoyable show.  Once it wraps up I think I am going to slide into the evening with quiet reading and contemplation and waiting for the weekend to end.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Week Settles Out

It has been a week spent mostly at work, with quiet evenings by choice.  Given all the hours I've worked in the last two weeks, this week I made it a choice to put in a full day and then simply go home and enjoy a quiet evening. Work has continued to be chaotic, but going home in the evening has helped.  The work stress has not been bad through the end of the week, in spite of the peak early in the week - and that peak really didn't have anything to do with project work.  It was more related to some structural issues within the corporation that only happen once a year (raises and performance management), so I should be good for the rest of the year, unless I manage to work myself into a self-induced frenzy.

I spent most of the week working on a project that is supposed to go live on the 15th, which ran into a succession of technical glitches due to poor communication (and the subsequent poor design).  We managed to work our way through two of the challenges and we're now face up against the third - we may have to disconnect it from the rest of the project, but I can live with that, since the key requirements will be met. I'll probably end up doing some work on Sunday, but I am not planning to do any tomorrow.  Tomorrow, I am going to run a key errand in the morning, which may take a couple of hours, and then in the afternoon head over to a friends house for a round of games and socializing.

Tonight I am planning on a quiet evening at home, maybe slip into bed early and continue reading.  I haven't had enough time to read lately and I would like to rectify that.  Next weekend I have a pair of doctor visits scheduled to bookmark the week - podiatrist on Monday and internist on Friday, then on the following Monday I am going to take my friend Don into the O'Connor for a heart exam. Then, following the end of the week I am off to Anaheim for Wondercon.  I am looking forward to it, even though it is the weekend that the project I am working on goes live, so there is a good chance I am going to take my work laptop with me, simply so I can do some work over the weekend when I am there.

However, right now, I am looking forward to tonight - a quiet tonight spent watching the DVR, reading, writing and with T.R..  It is a beautiful night outside and I am looking forward to it being a beautiful night all the way through - I am in the mood for it.