Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year Gracefully Slips Away

Another quiet day. I spent most of the morning just lazing around the house, then went to the Texas Road House with Tony for a steak, then drifted home.  I watched a truly excellent movie to wrap of the year - The Fifth Element (Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich). That movie sits high my list of classics that I love - it is easy to watch and re-watch, which is one of the traits of a great movie.

I've also made a series of telephone calls and texts into the evening, wishing a variety of people a Happy New Year - T.R., friends and family.  My plan for New Years this year is to do exactly what I am doing - feet up, relaxed, and easy.  It is a good way to the end the year.  Tomorrow, I am going to start thinking about my New Years resolutions for 2013.  But tonight, I am just going to let 2012 gracefully slip away.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

An Incidental Day, With Lunch

I started the morning in conversation with T.R. about dreaming about Buddha. An easy going morning, breakfast at the Hickory Pit, a stop at Target, and a bit of relaxation at home. 

Then, we took Brandy out to lunch to celebrate her graduation from culinary school. We went over to Mandarin Palace, near the Oakridge mall in San Jose. It was an excellent lunch, the food was great, the company was great, and there was great conversation and laughter - all of the things that a celebratory dinner should have.

I drifted home and spent an easy afternoon watching TV, reading, and tinkering around the house. This evening has been nice and quiet.  I am currently watching a documentary on the Modoc War on KCSM.  It should wrap up about 9:00 PM and then the plan is to curl up and start reading "The King of Thorns", the sequel to "The Prince of Thorns". I am looking forward to just lingering through the day tomorrow.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chely Wright - Wish Me Away

I just watched an outstanding documentary this morning - Chely Wright: Wish Me Away.   It is an inside look at the singers decision to come out and become an openly gay country music singer.  It is a powerful little piece of film and did nothing but vastly increase my respect for her as a person and an artist. If you haven't seen it, I would highly recommend it.

It's an easy going morning today.  I woke up about three AM and couldn't go back to sleep, so I spend an hour of so reading the news on my iPad, then finally fell back asleep. Consequently, I managed to sleep a little later that usual, until about 7:00 AM.  Breakfast was simple, chased with coffee, and I was channel surfing when I stumbled across the documentary above.

My plan today is simple as well. I am going to meet my friends at Hickory Pit for breakfast, the run a few morning errands, then meet my friend Rick for lunch, then maybe catch another movie in the afternoon. I haven't decided which I am interested in, but there are several out there that are on the short list, including Les Miserables and the Cirque du Soleil 3D film.  I'm definitely looking forward to another easy going day.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Another Simple Day

Another simple day.  I slept in,  I woke and read.  I had a simple breakfast, then spent most of the morning just reading and listening to the odd bits of music. I went to the Cheesecake Factory with Tony for lunch, where I had an excellent piece of rib-eye steak. From there, I wandered the mall for a bit while Tony bought a new laptop, then drifted home.  It was a quiet evening with incidental household chores and Ancient Aliens. All in all, it has been a very pleasant day.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A very pleasant day, with traffic. I slept in a bit, then showered and watched a couple of episodes of Ben & Kate off of the DVR.  Breakfast was the huevos Mexicana's at Goodies II, then Tony and I headed up to the Cache Creek Resort and Casino for a day trip.

The traffic was a little heavy getting out of the bay area, but once we hit 505 north, it lightened up and was a quick enough trip.  We gambled and lost a bid of money, had a great lunch at the buffet, and then scooted home. The whole trip was pleasant and enjoyable, though there was one white knuckle moment.

We were just across the Benecia bridge when Tony went to shift from the left most lane to the next lane to the right - at the same time a semi-was moving into that lane.  The angle of it blocked Tony's view of the trucks blinker (which was on) and made for a purely adrenaline fueled couple of seconds.

After that, the rest of the drive home was gravy.  So, here I am, with my feet propped up, watching a movie called "Catch .44" with Forest Whitaker, Bruce Willis, Malin Akerman, Nikki Reed, and Deborah Ann Woll.  It is an interesting little film noir shoot-em-up that Tony recommended.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Simple Notes from Simple Days

It's been a good Christmas vacation so far.  The holiday itself with simple and quiet - Mass, an easy morning, lunch at Holders Country Inn with Don and Tony, then Django Unchained at Century 22.  The faint echoes of A Very Tarantino Christmas echoed through my day.

I can definitely recommend Django Unchained - I'd go so far as to say one of Tarantino's best, technically. Story-wise, I think he will be hard pressed to beat the pair of Kill Bill movies.  But, Django Unchained is definitely worth the price of admission.

Today has been just as easy going - I had breakfast as Goodies II on Bascom, then ran a couple of errands, then came home for a lazy afternoon of movie watching on television and incidental house cleaning, with a focus on the living room, which is not reconfigured into my final winter configuration.

I've spent most of the evening so far watching "RED" with Bruce Willis, which is an amusing movie with an excellent cast.  I may watch another movie off the DVR tonight, or I may settle in and read some more in "The Prince of Thorns".  I haven't made that decision yet.

I had a nice little exchange with T.R. tonight, who is safe in the bosom of her family, telling stories into the evening.  Story-telling is an art and it is carefully nurtured.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Let There Be Light

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jack Reacher

I woke this morning to the sound of pouring rain, that heavy rush of a winter storm, with the deep and long rumbles of thunder providing a magnificent undercurrent. A wonderfully lazy hour with T.R. to start the day, then breakfast with Tony and Tyrone at the Hickory Pit, followed by a walk-through of Fry's, where I managed to only buy a Vitamin Water Zero and a package of mints.

Then, home for a few hours of  laziness and out to see an afternoon showing of the new Tom Cruise movie "Jack Reacher", with the wonderful Rosamund Pike and an excellent little supporting turn by Robert Duval. I was not enthusiastic about the movie, though Cruise is rarely bad - I had read the book and I just could not reconcile Cruise with the character of Jack Reacher in my head.  Still, I was willing to take a chance on the movie and I am glad I did.

I am happy to report that it was very enjoyable, Cruise was good in the role (was he Jack Reacher, uh, no - but I could accept him as an alternate universe Jack Reacher and ultimately that was good enough), and Rosamund Pike was absolutely luminous. All in all, an entertaining film.

From there, we grabbed a bite Buffalo Wild Wings, then drifted home. Tony stopped by and I helped him do a little research on his installation of dual video cards (sweet!) and then I settled in and watched the most recent episode of Fringe.  Excellent as well.

I am about to fire up the DVR and watch the guilty pleasure of my days that T.R. turned me on too - Ancient Aliens - and wander my way into the night, but I thought I would pause and make a quick entry out here.  I hope the rain pours all night so I can sleep like a baby.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Rambles

The Christmas vacation begins with an lazy evening at home, watching "Click" on cable, largely because I didn't see anything else on at this hour that I wanted to see - and it has the lovely Kate Beckinsale, and yes, Adam Sandler can also be funny.  I had an great little dinner over at Frankie, Johnny and Luigi II - the sausage Calzone, chased with a piece of Tiramisu. They have improved their Tiramisu but it is still no Mama Mia's. I am looking forward to the vacation.  I'd write more, but even my thoughts are sliding into relaxation this evening. Oh, one note, I started a new book - Prince of Thorns. Outstanding.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Golden Christmas Wreath

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One Black Dream, One Light Dream

Last night, I dreamt a black dream, quite literally.

In the dream I was driving through a strange city in my Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (I haven’t had the car in years).  I was in a part of the town where they had the road torn up for repair.  I had to weave my way through various obstacles and then cross a short section of road that was completely torn up. I could see it was muddy, but I figured with enough momentum I didn’t have to worry about it.  I started across…

Immediately upon crossing onto the mud I realized it was far more treacherous than I imagined.  The car skittered across the top of the mud and almost made it - but, just as the nose of the car reached the far side, the rear end of the car started precipitously dropping and in a matter of moments the entire car was sliding backwards and down.  A sea of blackness and cold swallowed the entire car. I had a split-second to get out, which I did.  I was instantly engulfed in the cold black mud.

I knew that I was very close to drowning and I fought the rising panic. I knew that I was literally seconds away from death.  But, I also knew that in order to survive I had to very slowly and very carefully “swim” my way to the surface of the liquid mud, which I did successfully.

I woke from the dream thinking I haven’t had a dream that as clearly symbolized the level of general stress I have been under in a long time - drowning in the cold and black.

Then, interestingly, when I went back to sleep I followed that dream with a cool dream.  In the second dream, I was in a movie theatre (like the Centuries in San Jose), sitting there watching a double feature.  There were some people sitting around me, familiar strangers, who were sharing a big bag of red licorice whips. It was a pleasant experience.  

After the movie ended, I walked out and then walked down the rain slick streets, shiny and beautiful at night, to my car (my current car) which was parked by a restaurant, like an old Bakers Square.  I went inside to get a dinner of comfort food and I knew that I was going to meet friends there, though they had not yet appeared.  It was a perfect California winters evening.

Every Day - Wolfgang Van Goethe

"Every day we should at least hear one little song, read one good poem, see one fine painting, and - if at all possible - speak a few sensible words." Wolfgang von Goethe
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Service at Tao Tao

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Waiting for the Tropics

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Aren't We All Amazing Creatures

I enjoyed my little break from routine yesterday and I thought I would repeat it again today.  I came into the office early this morning so I could get a jump on that day - mornings tend to be the most productive time for me.  By the time I get later into the day I am often tired and irritable and that makes productive work difficult until later in the day.  The constant stream of interruptions from the ordinary course of business makes any measured approach to the day very difficult. I often wonder how much other people have to deal with the interruptions as well. I know they are common in my division, but I wonder if other divisions do a better job of controlling them.  It may simply be a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence.

My thoughts this morning are flowing around two things - expectations and control. They are both deeply intertwined. Control is one of the primary methods we use to try and insure that our expectations are fulfilled.  We want certain things to happen, usually based on our own needs, however base or noble we perceive them.  We then reach out and attempt to influence the course of events, attempt to drive them toward our expected outcomes. Often, we attempt to drive them there by command, by coercion, by the judicious application of force. Yet, thousands of years of observational experience, distilled and passed down to us as the wisdom of the world, tell us that force only works in the crudest sense.

I tend to be a person who divides things into two parts - yes and no, good and bad, creative and destructive.  I think the middle ground between these poles is pretty small - sometimes it is a razor blade upon which we are trying to juggle a world view. I think that, when we do not have an accurate perception of circumstances, when our perception is strong influenced by Maya, it is very easy for us to slip into the land of unmet expectations and all of the things that come with it. The better we perceive what is real, the more likely our expectations are going to align with what is real. It would then seem to follow that if we want our expectations to be met, we would have a higher chance of success if we aligned them with what is real.  Then, if we use the real to influence the real, we have a better chance at increasing the probabilities of success.

It is definitely a brain tickler to be spinning around inside my head today.

On other fronts, T.R. is back from Charleston and they are settling in for Christmas.  I was able to spend some quality time with her last night that I very much enjoyed.  My nephew was hoping to be discharged from the hospital today, so my parents drove up from the ranch, but there may have been a wrinkle thrown into the middle of that. Last night my nephew had rather severe stomach pains, so this morning they had run him through x-ray and then shot him up with morphine. Who knows what the outcome of that all is going to be. It is in part the events surrounding my nephew that have me contemplating issues of expectation and control.  Various people involved in the process have various expectations and wanted outcomes and yet, with the exception of the actions they take as individuals, there is very little they can do to control the process.

To me, when you are faced with this kind of circumstance, the question becomes - what are you willing to do to influence the outcome toward your expectation.  If the most you are willing to do is express your opinion and hope other people do the things you want them to do, then you have a relatively small chance of success.  The deeper you get into the reality, the closer you come to perceiving reality, the more likely you are to be able to influence the outcome. In the arena of expectations, victory goes to the person who is most willing to get deeply, deeply involved in the reality of the situation.  That involvement often comes with a very high cost in term of surrendering your own personal set of illusions to fully embrace reality.  Maya disapproves. So we attempt to control the unreal (reality as we would like it to be) with the unreal (actions that are not aligned with that which is real) and crash into the world of unmet expectations.

Aren’t well all amazing creatures?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last Night I Wrestled With Maya

I needed to work on my elasticity today, so I thought I would take a couple of minutes between working on regression testing and attending a meeting to write an entry for my blog.  It’s been a pretty ordinary morning here at the office. Once every three weeks a vendor releases upgrades to their software so we run through a fast cycle of regression testing to make sure that all of the core functionality still works as intended. My portion of that testing passed with flying colors this morning, so it was time consuming but fruitful.

Last night was not a good night for sleep. I spent most of the evening in family calls and they were not the most fruitful. One of the things that happens to people, as they go through any sort of crisis, the crisis allows our better angels to rise up.  Then, Maya begins to rise up and counter whatever action they took or planned to take.  I know from the years of dealing with Maya in my lifetime that Maya is unrelenting and unforgiving and, like water, seeks every crack and crevasse, worms its way in and cracks things open through its relentless pressure.

As the people around us succumb to Maya, then the pressure on us becomes greater and greater as well.  The people around us are one of the entry points for Maya in our lives. It can certainly be a struggle to not allow that to happen.  Recognizing Maya for what it is remains a huge part of that journey.  Recognizing Maya does not free us from reacting or acting because of it, but the awareness gives us the glimmer of hope.

On the wall next to my desk I have a white 3x5 note card.  On it is written one of the things I learned in “The Buddha Walks Into A Bar”.

“May all beings enjoy happiness and be free from suffering.”

*Maya - in the zen tradition, maya denotes that it is not a form of self-deception to acknowledge the physical world as real, however, the deception occurs when one assumes the physical world to be the only permanent reality.”

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Am Human and Attached

I watched the season finales of Dexter and Homeland today. Both of them are awesome television - it is pretty amazing what can be done with the medium these days.  However, I always say that with the immediate caveat of - whatever you like on TV, rest assured that for someone else it's the stupidest thing they've ever seen.  For what it is worth though, for my money, Dexter and Homeland are as good as it gets though.

It was  typical Monday at work - I managed to get some things accomplished and then lost the bubble of the day to unfolding events.  One of the skill-sets I possess is complex data retrieval and analysis for legal investigations.  It is an interesting skill set and I enjoy the investigative aspect of it.  I do find it frustrating that it is always "oh my god, we need to know the answer to this right away" - so, it is complex requests on short lead time. I lost a good part of the day to that sort of event today.

Dinner was a simple cheeseburger and onion rings, in large part because I was too lazy to cook when I got home tonight.  Then, I ended up spending most of the evening on family phone calls.  Two under my belt, my nephew in the hospital and my step-dad out at the ranch. I am going to try one more in a couple of minutes - my mom was napping when my step-dad called earlier, so I promised to try and call back a little later.

My nephew is starting the slow approach to the runway to get out of the hospital and the question is rising up where he is going to land as an initial destination.  That is a discussion that has the chance to become heated, in part because, like most family things, it is one thing layered on top of many layers of other things. That is going to make some stressful days ahead, so I am going to have to practice compassion for all beings. I have to keep practicing it because I am definitely not good at it.  I am human and attached.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Another Nice Day In The Bag

Another nice day in the bag.  Breakfast at the Hickory Pit (ah, the power of habit).  From there, I took a walk through of Best Buy and then swung by the Apple Store at Valley Fair.

I find the Apple Store to be a cult like place, full of people with glazed eyes - none of which stops me from owning an iPod and an iPad and considering buying a MacAir.  My friend Tony is also looking at the MacAir. I like the idea of the ultralight laptop and the MacAir seems to be the top of that breed.

From there I stopped at Safeway to stock up on groceries for the coming week. 

Then, I headed home. I had planned on watching a movie off the DVR but ended up spending the afternoon on a pair of family calls. I tried to take a nap, but couldn't quite get to it. Dinner was Patxi's and then a walk through Barnes and Noble, where I actually managed to get out without buying anything. 

The evening finds me with my feet propped up, watching the SyFy Twentieth Anniversary Special.  I plan on writing a little and reading a little and easing into the night. I feel like calling off sick from work tomorrow, except of course I am off work all next week, so I probably won't. 

Oh, I am also on call for Jury Duty as well.  I already called in for Monday and now I have to call in between 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM tomorrow and work my way through the entire week on call.  I kind of hope I get called in as it will be a nice break in the routine of the last couple of months.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Movie Review - The Hobbit

I saw "The Hobbit" today.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I would put it at a solid 8.  I'd definitely recommend it.  It loses two points - first, for violating Rod's Rule of Action Movies - which is "faster is not better" and the second for being two indulgent is a wide variety of establishing scenes and shots.  It would have benefited for a more judicious editing. 

However, even with both of those sins - I definitely liked the movie and I would definitely recommend it.  In fact, I would take that a step farther and say is was actually better then I expected.  It passed The Watch Test with flying colors.  (The Watch Test: The sooner and more frequently you check you watch, the worse the movie is).  In this case, I checked my watch about two and a half hours in - but it was not a movie quality check. It was more of a "okay, I drank the large diet coke, can I make it to the end of the movie..." check.  I did, though, find it was amusing to watch the mad sprint for the bathroom on the part of a lot of the spectators.

Cate Blanchett is barely in the movie, but I love her as Galadriel.  I count myself as a Cate Blanchett fan, she's an incredible actress.  Richard Armitage is outstanding as the dwarf Thorin - he brings a certain gravitas to the role that clearly sets himself apart from the other dwarves, which is consistent with the character, the character is forged from a different metal then the rest of them.  Martin Freeman shines as Bilbo and of course, how can you possible go wrong with Ian McKellen as Gandalf?  So, again, all in all, I recommend The Hobbit.

After the movie, we popped over to The Flames on Winchester for a post-movie lunch and conversation and, by and large, my friends enjoyed the movie as well. I had a great chili burger and then headed home for the evening.  

Once home, I tinkered for a bit, then took a hot bath, traded texts with T.R., and have now settled in to watch a couple of old movies off the DVR for the rest of the evening. It is a beautiful late fall day here, cold and rainy, perfect for a quiet evening at home.  Oh, and I had a decent conversation with my nephew, whose moving slowly but steadily down the road of recovery.  The degree and extent of his recovery will remain to be seen, but I keep my fingers crossed and keep him in my prayers.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Dude Abides

It's a cold evening outside here in San Jose.  I am kicked back on the couch, with my laptop in my lap, watching one of the great movies of the Coen brothers - The Big Lebowski.  It seemed like a good choice for the day. It is one of those movies I truly love. So, ending with The Dude, I am wrapping up a very lazy day where I went out for breakfast, stopped for an errand or two on the way home, and then spend pretty much the entire day relaxing, watching the DVR, and reading - the exact same thing I am going to do tonight.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Amazing Subconscious

It was a relatively quick day today - about eight hours of meetings with some work accomplished during the in-between times.  All in all though, it was a good day.  I was a little frustrated by the time I reached the end of the day, but that is not an unusual thing. The small frustrations of the day add up and by the end of  the day they are carrying a certain weight. Then, if you drop something else on top of them it may be just enough to break the camels back for the day.  Just enough to take me past the tipping point.

But, then, the day is done and I head home to start the three day weekend.  I am sure I'll do a little work over the weekend, but not much - hopefully it will be mostly planning and such.  With the overload of meetings and tasks there has been very little time for simple thinking - and thinking is so crucial in an information job.  It always amazes me when I encounter people who do not understand that.  But then, LOL, I do work for an incompetent Director, so I guess that should not surprise me too much.

I am definitely looking forward to the weekend and I am going to start it with an easy night, some reading, then sleeping into the morning.  Last night I had two work related dreams.  First, I dreamed that I was in one of the bad meetings that have characterized this project - no agenda, no control, people talking over people and ignoring the conversations around them. That dream was followed by a dream of me yelling at people on the phone. I thought it was odd that first, I had a dream that built up the stress - then I had a dream that released the stress.  The subconscious is a pretty amazing place.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chasing The Last Hour of The Day

I am chasing the last hour of the day.  It was a long one. I started at 4:30 AM with email review and then basically moved from meeting to meeting through the day, with a pause for a department luncheon, then back to meetings.  All in all, twelve long hours in the day.

I stopped for a burrito on the way home, then unwound by cleaning the kitchen sink and the bathroom sink. I think I needed the zen flow of it.  I watched a pair of sitcoms off the DVR and then basically decided I was finished for the day. I am going to head for bed shortly, curl up with a book, and probably manage to last an hour or two, if I am lucky.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In The Land of Development, Process Is King

Today at work I played a truly Machiavellian game in order to get some forward movement on a portion of the project.  We have one portion of the project where three different teams are working on an integration - the Evil Corporation and two vendors.  This is a part of the project that ran into schedule delays due to poor planning and feeling were high and hostile by the time I got involved.

In order to make the integration work, it was necessary to get down into the nitty-gritty details and line out each individual data element - however, because of the delay and the fact that all three sides were pointing fingers at each other I could not get them to do the detail work.  Each group was playing highly defensively, waiting for the other groups to make a move, so they could dodge any blame.

After several fruitless meetings last week where we struggled to get even the most basic questions answered I spent the weekend reading a massive chain of email trying to figure out how to break through through the logjam. The answer was in the changing tone of the emails.  As they progressed through time I could see the tone changing to more accusatory, more defensive, less productive,  until the reached the point where I had been brought in, which was the point of near total meltdown.  Everyone was waiting for someone else to go first, so that if something went wrong they could point a finger at someone else.

So, I over-reached my authority and went first - I wrote up a set of requirements and announced - this is what we are going to do, this is the condition the data is going to be in, this is the place we are going to send the data. You all need to be ready to pick it up when it gets there.  Then, I spelled out, in some detail, what I was planning to do. 

Of course, it was wrong, largely because I was making it up out of whole cloth - but one of the vendor rose to the bait and said "that's not right", which opened up the door for me to simply say "tell me exactly where it is wrong, and what change needs to be made to make it right".  They tried to dance, but I just drew back to my original proposal and said "absent detailed input, I am making a best guess and doing it this way, and I have no problem documenting it as a best guess in the lieu of more detailed information" - and that was enough to prompt, first, the two vendors to talk to each other, then the whole team to get talking.  When I left tonight, I have two thirds buy in and one third outstanding.

It was pretty Machiavellian, but it was the only thing I could think of to break through the positions that everyone had hunkered down in. Sometimes a stalking horse serves a good as well as a real horse.  Of course, none of this would have been necessary if we'd actually followed any sort of good engineering process from the beginning.  What appears to have bitten them on this end of the project was that no one wanted to do the grunt work - and everyone preferred to assume that someone else was doing it, so there were no detailed documented system requirements.

When it comes to software development, process is king.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Simple, Simple, Simple

Another very easy going day during which I did next to nothing of any significance and then went out for pizza.  It has been the most relaxing weekend that I have had in a while and I am grateful for that. I am winding out the last hour of the day with a cup of hot chocolate and the novel I've been reading. Simple, Simple, Simple.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It has been a fairly good Saturday, everything considered.  I'd normally run through the list of what I did today, but, just imagine me easy going and relaxed and you'll have a very good picture. 

I am winding into the evening now and I'm shortly going to be wrapping up the last load of laundry.  I usually don't do my laundry here at the complex, since there are limited machines and more than a load or two can be very time consuming, but I wasn't doing anything else of any significance tonight, so I am running three loads through one after another. 

The last load is blue jeans and they are washing right now and in about seven minutes I am going to walk down and move them over to the dryer.  It's one less errand that I'll have to do tomorrow. I would like to go out and see a movie tomorrow but there really isn't anything that is crying out for me to see it, which is odd for this time of year.

I haven't decided if I am going to watch a movie or read into the evening yet. Right now I am mostly inclined toward reading, but that could all change in a couple of minutes. I have "The Golden Compass" sitting near the Blu-Ray player, so I may slip it in and enjoy the movie. I liked the original and I was certainly hoping they would do some of the sequels, but at this point it doesn't seem like they are going to.  Considering one of the major characters was Daniel Craig, he might be a bit hard to get now days, seeing as he is James Bond and all.

One of the reasons the movie was on my mind was last night I saw part of "The Kingdom of Heaven" with Orlando Bloom and Eva Green, and Eve Green is the Witch in "The Golden Compass". Which lead me to think "gee, I haven't watched that movie in a while" and decide to set it out for when I was in the right mood.  And now that I have been writing about it for a while, I am suddenly much more in the right mood for it.  So, after I move the jeans over into the dryer, I think "The Golden Compass" is coming on to watch.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Fought The Math and the Math Won

I am home and probably in the most purely relaxed mode I have been in several months. We had some fast breaking project news today.  The project is comprised of three parts - one part was mine, another part I am now deeply involved with, and a third part I am peripherally involved with.

Last night, my part went live - and today, they finally bit the bullet and have pushed the other two parts back into the early part of 2013. Neither of them was ready to go - both of them have serious technical problems that come from not following good engineering processes. 

Once they announced the schedule slip, you could feel the audible sigh of relief from the assorted team members - the most important thing that the slip buys is time, precious time. With time, then we can make a good effort to get the other two parts of the project back on schedule.

So tonight, when I got home, for the first time in quite a long time I was able to just settle in and relax.  There is still plenty of drama moving out there on the family front, but only involves me on the edges and I can, mostly, set it aside and let them work it out.

The next challenge in the work environment is going to be to see if we can rapidly get organized to make the most out of the time that was bought.  My perception is that neither of the parts of the project that got delayed were seriously out of whack - just the lack of good process control meant that their were assumptions and mistakes made in the early parts of the project that could not be recovered from quickly enough in the later parts of the project.

So, I have a fairly simple plan tonight - I am going to take a deep breath, I am going to watch a little bit of TV, I am going to curl up with my book, and I am going to sleep tomorrow until I wake up.  I do have to go into the office tomorrow, but I am going to spend the day working on a pair of data retrieval issues from our normal operations.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Persephone Is Having Sex In Hell

"Persephone is having sex in hell..."

I have a new poet (new to me at least) who has captured my imagination - Louise Gluck. On recommendation from T.R. I ordered "Averno" from Amazon the other day and it arrived tonight - I spent most of the last hour reading the first half of the collection, and then I had to force myself to set it aside so I didn't finish reading it all in one night.  So now I am splitting my reading time between  "Averno"...

And "Among Thieves: A Tale of the Kin" by Douglas Hulick.

That is the way reading works - when it rains, it pours. 

I am enjoying both books immensely, even though it meant that I set aside Orson Scott Card's "Ruins" because if it was going somewhere, it was going too slow.  I may pick it up again later and give it another try - it's pretty rare when Card disappoints, but, alas, it does happen.

Broken Sky

This was the view as I commuted homeward last night, a beautiful and broken sky.
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Though busy, the last two days have been good, on several levels. Spent some quality time with T.R., was productive-though-frustrated at work, and the nephew has been moved out of critical care to a regular hospital room and I've had the opportunity to talk to him. Speaking of which, I am going to call him shortly and hope to have a nice little conversation.

The project at work is still drastically out of synch with reality, but the laborious and painful process of dragging it back into some semblance of normality in underway.  Many a deadline has been missed and I find myself actually hoping that their are consequences and then hoping that those consequences land on the right people, perhaps heavily. How a director can be so far detached from reality and still retain their position is totally beyond me.

I have a handful of project related things ahead of me this week and I suspect I will actually be able to get them accomplished.  I haven't worked any excessive hours this week - and I am not planning on working any. The price of those long days is very high and unfortunately I think it is being paid by good people. As a leader, that type of thing irritates me.  The fundamental responsibility of management is managing resources and the tragedy is, when management fails, it is often those resources that pay the price.

I was planning on watching some TV today, but in the last couple of minutes I've decided against it.  Instead, I think I will make a couple of phone calls, then settle in with my novel and read my way into the night.  There are a couple of sitcoms that come on around 8:00 tonight, but I'm not sure if I am going to watch them - I will make that decision when the hour approaches.

I have my Christmas tree and some decorations, except the full sweep of lights, up, so there is already a bit of a Christmas feeling spreading over the room, which I am enjoying. We have one more California rain storm stacked up to make a sweep through the bay area, so I think I will wait until after it has finished it's run to put the lights up.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday's Chronicle

I made today an easy day. I slept until about seven a.m., then woke to the sound of heavy rain.  I laid there in bed for a while savoring the sound, that quiet rush of water cascading off the roof of the apartment building, the steady hiss of the rain on the street outside, the occasional loud pop of a large drop against the bedroom window. I rolled out of bed, splashed through the shower, had a cup of coffee then sat and thought and meditated and otherwise enjoyed the rain.

Breakfast at the Hickory Pit with Tony followed.  The restaurant itself was only half full, due to the heavy rain, and it was dark and gloomy outside.  After breakfast I swung over to Target to pick up some odds and ends, then a stop at Michael's and Ross for the same reason. I took a leisurely walk around the mall and people watched for a while, before heading home to a quiet afternoon.

I spent the afternoon split between family calls, true crime stories on the History Channel, and setting my Christmas tree and decorations up.  The only thing I haven't done yet is hand the lights.  I am going to have to wait until the rain stops before I do that, since on the outer string I have to use duct tape to hold the lights in place. My Christmas tree looks great though, I will have to take a picture of it and share that picture with you all.

I took a short nap about three in the afternoon, but actually just kind of laid there, not quite napping, not quite awake, simply admiring the colors of the tree outside the bedroom window, since the afternoon sun had broken out.  About four p.m. I went over to meet Tony for an early dinner at El Burro in the Pruneyard.  I had enchilda suiza, chicken, with rice, beans and cheese.  It was heavy and filling meal, but because I had skipped lunch, it did not weigh me down.

From there, I took a walk through Barnes and Noble (and managed to not buy anything, but I did take pictures of the covers of a couple of books so I will remember to look them up the next time I go through there), then drove home to watch the season finale of "The Walking Dead".  Outstanding bit of television, all in all, and a great mid-season finale.

The rest of the evening is going to be "Once Upon A Time" and then reading.  I am anticipating a full week at work with two main problems that I would like to solve in the early days of the week. One of them is about eight hours of just grinding through details, so I am going to try and clear my calendar so I can deal with that.  I am holding out the hope that, hour wise, it will be a regular week.  And not the regular 12 hour week, but a regular week.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


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California Rain

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An Unspecified Morning

I woke crisply this morning, which is the primary sign of a good nights sleep.  If I dreamed, I don't remember the substance of the dream. All in all though, it was a nice sleep and I've kind of segued into an easy day.  It is raining outside, here in San Jose, but that is nice in its own way.  I don't have anything planned for the day.  The usual breakfast with friends at the Hickory Pit, then I might slip out and see a movie or shoot some pool.  My intention is to ease through the day as simply as I can.

My nephew was moved out of critical care last night, into a regular room, so we will see how that goes. Always keeping him centered in my thoughts and prayers.My family, otherwise, is doing well. I decided to cancel my Christmas trip back to South Dakota due to work obligations and a need to keep the stress levels down and under control.  I could feel the waves threatening to crash over me and decided to take a few proactive steps to lower that stress level.

I seem to be in an introspective and unspecified mood today.  We will see what that translates to in the course of the day.  For now, I am going to start the process of getting ready to head over to the Hickory Pit for breakfast.