Saturday, March 30, 2013

Vacation - Day Three - Wondercon

The day started on an inauspicious note.  We went to I-Hop for breakfast and were, ultimately, disappointed. The food was not up to standard, and it certainly was no Hickory Pit.  The service was mediocre. I'd eaten at this particular I-Hop before, so I expected a good experience.  We shook it off and spend some time driving around the area to get acquainted with it, then managed to get stuck in traffic on our way back to Wondercon. Proximity to Disneyland is not necessarily a good thing.

But, we arrived safely back at the hotel and headed over to the convention center to start the day.  We started the day in an excellent manner - with the panel for the History Channel's show "The Vikings".  It was great to see them in person and get to see some clips from past and future episodes.  I am a big fan of the show.  The only time I miss it is when I have something else that I must do - and then I promptly watch it on DVR as soon as I can.

Once out of the panel, we wandered the floor a bit, then circled back to the same room for a  panel that I was looking forward to nearly as much. This time, it was "Falling Skies".  It was also an excellent panel, again, a chance to see several of the cast members (the young ones) and then watch a few clips of future episodes to come.

Once that panel was finished, we walked back to the Marriott for lunch, those excellent spring rolls and a quesadilla, chased by a small piece of s seven layer chocolate cake.  After that, it was back over the convention center, where we'd hoped to see the Sony presentation over in the arena, but, alas, the arena was mostly full.  There were scattered seats down in the crowds, but I really didn't feel like searching for them, so ultimately we popped over the Capcom panel, where they were presenting one of their new video games - "Remember Me".

Then, a bit more time on the floor and finally I headed back to the hotel to make a couple of family related phone calls, while Tony went off to play Resident Evil: Evolution at the Capcom booth.  Dinner was room service and that brings me right here, right now.  All in all it was an excellent day here at Wondercon.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Day Two - Anaheim

I slept in a bit this morning, rising about seven p.m.. I eased into the morning with some coffee and a few final preparations before I headed off to Wondercon.  Tony picked me up at my apartment and we headed up the airport.  We lucked out in Economy Lot 1 and got a parking place right inside the gate.  That doesn't happen very often!

Smooth sailing through security, a sausage, egg and cheese muffin at Mojo's, then an hour and fifteen minutes of flight time to Anaheim.  The drive to the hotel from John Wayne Airport also went pretty smooth.  The room wasn't quite ready here at the Marriott, but that was okay - it gave us a chance to grab some lunch in the cafe.

We had some truly excellent spring rolls, and I think I followed it with the fennel crusted halibut, mushroom risotto, asparagus spears, and a tomato ragu. Did I mentioned tha thte spring rolls were truly excellent?  Well, the halibut was good, but the spring rolls were heavenly.

From there, we walked over to the convention center, picked up out tickets, and then walked the exhibit floor for a couple of hours - and a couple of miles.  It is a pretty sizable exhibit floor and we basically just did a fast walk. We stopped at one point to get a bite to eat - convention center food is expensive, but it was actually tasty.

From there, I popped back to the hotel room to call my step-dad and mom for the latest discussion of the family drama, which continues unabated.  From there, it was back over the convention center and I had hoped to catch the premiere episode of BBC's 'Orphan Black", but alas, it didn't happen.  So, we walked back to the hotel, which is literally right next door, and settled in for the evening, watching a movie off the hotels on-demand.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vacation - Day One - Evening

It was an easy day to start a vacation on. I lingered in bed, then met Tony for breakfast over at Goodies II.  Breakfast inside me, I swung home and spent an hour or so tinkering around, then joined back up with Tony and ran a couple of errands while getting ready for vacation.  I am basically set to go and tomorrow I just need to throw the incidentals into my bag and I am ready to hit the road - or the air, as the case may be.

We had lunch at Pasta Pomodoro at Santana Row and then took a wandering walk through Best Buy, just to see what the newest tech toys were.  From there, I swung back home and spent the afternoon printing off documents for the trip this weekend, called the ranch, did some incidental things around the house and then settled in to watch "Master and Commander" with Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany, an enjoyable movie.  I followed that up with several hours of watching my TomTom update.

Then, I finally heard from my nephew, who was transferred to the hospital in Rapid City, SD.  He is recovering from internal bleeding, as side effect of his illness.  Still, it was good to talk to him and he was going to call the ranch after he talked to me.  A close one, and we can only hope that he learns the lesson about staying on his medication and taking care of himself.

I Contemplate Cameras for Vacation

My plan for this vacation is to document it with photos and write as I.  One of the first decisions I had to make was "which camera am I going to carry with me".  I have close to half a dozen camera, ranging from a small point and shoot (a Sony Cybershot DSC W220) all the way up to my DSLR Nikon D3200. Deciding which camera(s) to take is always a balancing act.  They've each got their own strengths and weaknesses. One factor that comes into play is - I am going to carry it around with me, all the time, so weight definitely comes into the picture. 

Quality wise, the Nikon is the best of the lot - but, with extra lenses, it is also the most bulky and the most heavy.  Convenience wise, the little point and shoot is the go to camera.  After consideration, I landed in the middle and decided to go with my Sony DSC HX9V.  Short of the Nikon D3200 it is the most versatile with a 16x digital zoom and 16.2 megapixels.

What tipped me to it in this case are the 16x digital zoom and and the compact nature of the camera.  Additionally, this is a camera I have had for a while but I am not too comfortable yet. I need to put some serious time into this camera and this little trip to Wondercon is going to be a perfect excuse. It was a toss up between this camera and an older Sony DSC H50.

I love the ergonomics on the H50 and I've shot with it a lot - it is a very "quick" camera to use, but part of that is familiarity.  As I was sitting here comparing the two - I did realize that I was learning toward the H50 because of that familiarity and since one of the things I am aware I need to do in the larger scope of life is keep engaged and keep learning, I decided to go with the HX9V.  But while I was in the process of deciding which camera to use, I did take a set of images with the DSC H50 - this is a set of six Franklin Mint armor sets I bought many years ago and now are on a shelf on the wall.

Franklin Mint Armor Set

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vacation - The Beginning

Today was my last day at work as my vacation begins.  So, in an attempt to totally decompress, I am going to go completely off the grid, as far as work is concerned.  For the next two weeks I am not going to discuss work here on my blog.  For now, let me just say, it is a clean getaway.

Tony and Ty finished off the last of cleaning Tony's apartment today and then they met me for dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings.  Dinner was a variety of appetizers, which we followed by a walk through Westgate while Tony looked at a new suitcase, which I've currently got sitting here in my living room.  Since he had the last of his personal effects in his car, there wasn't room for it without effecting his sight-lines.

I am going to split my vacation between three places - a few days here at home, the weekend in Anaheim for Wondercon, then 11 days in South Dakota visiting the ranch.  I am looking forward to all aspects of the trip.  A bit of bad news, my nephew has been transferred to the hospital up in Rapid City and though he is still keeping the cone of silence down, he did give permission for his doctor to notify the folks at the ranch.  I will be keeping him close in my prayers - while at the same time I respect the dignity of his journey.

I have the new Blackberry Z10, which I've been playing with for the last two days, so that is going to be part of my learning curve for the period of time when I am on vacation.  I am contemplating taking only the smart phone on vacation as my only electronic device - I don't know if I will be able to successfully do it, because I do what to have my laptop with me on vacation, since that gives me the opportunity to do many things.  I will make that decision when the time comes.  I think I could travel light on the smart phone, but at the same time - I do have all these cool other toys that I love to play with!

The plan tonight is a couple of episodes of Whitney, then curling up with "The Lies of Locke Lamorra", which is very amusing so far.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Just A Little About Seven Thirty

It is just a little after 7:30 PM on Monday night and I'm sitting here in the silence of the living room, listening to the sound of the keys clacking on the laptop keyboard. It is a very pleasant evening.  My last several entries have been rather short and perfunctory, but I've been moving quickly through the days, mostly with an external focus.

Work is currently settled into what I would call the ordinary rhythm.  We've got everything in configuration lock down and now we're just waiting for the go-live date, which is going to be at the end of April.  That should be a mad weekend in it's own right. Right now, the main thing that is going on is the old game of catch-up as we try and make up for all the things that were set aside while we were so intently focused on project. That and I think everyone is probably breathing a sigh of relief and trying to settle into some ordinary working hours.

I have two days before I start my vacation, which is going to run from March 28th through April 14th, a little over two weeks.  I am going to split my time on the vacation.  Thursday I have a clear day off, with the intention of easing into the time off. Then on Friday, Saturday and Sunday I'm going down to Anaheim with Tony for Wondercon. I am looking forward to that trip and the chance to start the vacation on a strong foot.  Monday I will be back up in San Jose (returning on Sunday night) and then on Tuesday I am going to fly back to South Dakota for 11 days, from the 2nd through the 13th, a Saturday.  Sunday will be resting in San Jose, and then Monday the 15th back to work.

I am looking forward to the vacation and I am hoping I manage to get away clean.  Most likely I am going to take my secure ID so I can log into my work email remotely, but that is more for peace of  mind then anything else. I will definitely take my laptop because I am planning on spending some time writing and I am looking forward to that as well. Writing, reading, relaxing and getting some eyes on time with the folks.

South Dakota isn't without it's own share of drama.  My step-dad is finally home from the hospital and seems to be doing fairly well.  I've been calling him every day and talking to who ever is there.  My nephew, who had the severe medical incident at Thanksgiving of 2012 is back in the hospital.  He was checked in last night with internal bleeding (vomiting blood).  He has instructed the hospital personnel not to share any information about him and not to let anyone contact him, which, though it is something I may not agree with, is his right as an adult.  Who knows where that journey will end.  (In one of the rare times I censor myself, I just deleted two sentences here - perhaps if the time is right, a little later, I might restore them.)

The turn of spring has me slightly melancholy, but, at the same time, the turn of spring always reminds us of the process of rebirth. This life is really an incredible journey and, in our own way, we are all on it.  In the last several years I have spent a portion of time studying zen and, to my surprise, a lot of it has taken.  When I look at all the stress that has been surrounding me, I characterize it in exactly that way - all the stress that is surrounding me. It is not stress that is within me - or rather, when it is within me, I recognize it and let it fall away.  Amazing what happens to us in life.

My plan for the remainder of the night is - I am going to eat some chocolate (a rare indulgence), then I am going to watch "Bones" and from there, I am going to curl up and read a great little fantasy novel I started called "The Lies of Locke Lamorra".  I am a couple of chapters in and I have to say it is simply a great little story so far. If the author can keep it up, he has quite a tale on his hands.  I will write some more about the book a little later.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Straight Forward Day

A pretty straight forward day.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Coffee and toast to start the day, the latest episode of "Spartacus: War of the Damned", breakfast with the guys at the Hickory Pit, a walk through Fry's, three loads of laundry, a couple of games of pool, an early dinner, a phone call to the ranch, and now I am settled in just watching the evening slowly spool downward.  Beautiful.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wish Me Luck With A Movie

I  went to bed last night about 7:30 PM and slept a solid ten plus hours.  I worked virtually most of the day, with an hour or so away for breakfast with Tony at Goodies and a mid-afternoon pause for a conversation with my step-dad who is back on the ranch and settling in.  He seems to be doing okay.  Time will tell and I will back in South Dakota in about ten days and have a chance to lay "eyes on".  The plan tonight is pizza and a movie I have on the DVR that I have been saving up for a quiet night - Galatica: Blood and Chrome. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mexicali Grill's Salsa

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Before I Fall Asleep

All in all another very nice ordinary day.  There was a bit of hustle to start the day, but I had started early deliberately, so I could get a couple of tasks completed. Other than that, the day went well.  A productive morning, a simple lunch of fish and chips, then a relatively quiet afternoon. The commute home was smooth, I had a simple dinner, watched the latest episode of "Justified", called my step-dad, spent some time browsing through Flipboard on the iPad, and now I am contemplating slipping into bed early and spend an hour or so reading before I fall asleep.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rain and Continuum

It was another pretty good day.  A few ups and downs, but what I would normally expect from a working day. It was a little stressful at the end of the day when I got a flurry of requests for data as other people ended their day, but I was able to knock about half of them off before I called it a day and headed home and the other half should be easy enough tomorrow morning. My meeting schedule at work is pretty light tomorrow, so it should be a productive day.

I had a simple dinner tonight, then took a bit of a rambling walk through the neighborhood just ahead of the gentle rain that has descended and is splashing off the rooftops outside.  That is a great and soothing sound. I called my step-dad and talked to him for about a half hour or so.  He is scheduled to be released on Thursday, and he's looking forward to it, but slightly apprehensive, which is understandable. After talking with him I called the ranch and talked to Tom for a while and everything seemed to be going smoothly out there.

So, my plan is to ease into the night and watch the most recent episode of "Continuum" from the DVR. During that, I may write a nice long email.  Then, I will most likely curl up with "The Pattern Scars" and read myself to sleep.  I think I am going to set my alarm clock tomorrow, something I rarely do, so that I can get a jump on the day. I'm feeling productive in advance of the day.  Incidentally, if you like Science Fiction and you haven't watched "Continuum" on the SyFy channel, I happen to enjoy it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Today Was An Ordinary Day

Today was an ordinary day. That was an amazing little thing. It was the first Monday in recent memory where I did not battle severe stress points during the day.  I went in, I worked, I took lunch, I worked some more, I went home. Simply amazing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Last night I had a vivid dream that was mostly inspired by the book I've been reading, Caitlin Sweet's "The Pattern Scars". 

In the dream, there was a Sorcerer who was capable of entering peoples dreams and influencing the person through the dream.  Something had happened to me and I believed that it has been done by this Dream Sorcerer, so I went to another person with expertise on dreams who taught me the basic defensive awareness in dreams and painted a symbol on a dagger, so I could carry the dagger into the dream with me.

That night, when I laid down to sleep, I envisioned my dream self as leaving my body and standing sentinel behind the door.  Sure enough, late at night, the Dream Sorcerer slowly entered my room, except this time, I was ready.  I stepped out from behind the door and grabbed him across the chin, pulling as if I was exposing his neck.  He immediately raised his hands to claw at my hand and to protect his throat.  With his arms thus raised I stabbed him three times in rapid succession upward into the armpit, aiming to slice the axillary artery. 

He screamed in his dream self and in his body, back in chambers.  When he screamed and his dream self vanished I woke with a start.  I grabbed my spear and dashed out into the hall, running down the hall toward his room with everyone else.  As we burst into his room, he was sitting up in his bed, ghastly white, eyes wide with fear. 

I now had all the proof I needed as to the true identity of the Dream Sorcerer so, without hesitation, I plunged my spear straight into his heart, killing him instantly, pinning him against the headboard of the bed.  It was right after the death blow that I woke up.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Dream Door Opens

About four o'clock this afternoon I laid down to take a nap and ended up sleeping about two full hours, maybe a little longer, so I may be up later than usual tonight.  It was an uncomfortable nap.  I had the window closed, but while I was sleeping the apartment got nice and stuffy, so I awoke from a dream into a muggy, stifling room.

I had a deep dream, or I should say a dream that stirred deeply in my subconscious.  As I've gone through assorted life changes here in 2013, some of them, though they are on my waking mind, they have been pretty heavily suppressed in my dream world, 

Today was the first time that I dreamed of some of those life changes and, perfectly appropriately, I dreamed of them in the form of an email - since words were such an important facet of the last couple of years. I don't really remember the contents of the dream, or the details of the dream, but I woke with the feeling that the door to that part of my subconscious had been opened up and I am sure their are other dreams to follow as I process things.

My evening has been simple, I had a muffin with cream cheese for dinner, chased it with a big container of water, called Bill for a good conversation, and then have spent the evening watching a true classic "Little Big Man" with Dustin Hoffman and Dan George. It's an excellent movie. Now, I am going to wonder off and watch the rest of it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Quick Note About Work

Just a quick note to mark the end of the day.  It was a momentous day at work today - for the portion of the project that is under my sphere of control - we have locked down the configuration.  From this point out all of the work will be focused on getting the documentation caught up and preparing for cut-over.  But, for us at least, the heavy lifting is done. I hope I sleep deeply and soundly tonight, Lord knows that I need it!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dreams of a Mad King

So, yesterday I asked my subconscious for a dream with a stronger narrative thread - and naturally, my subconscious replied.  It was a  beautiful night last night and I fell asleep with all the windows wide open and the ceiling fan slowly turning. Then, as some point in the deep, dark silence of the night I dreamed of a mad king.

In the dream, the Mad King was my enemy, yet he could not move openly against me (or against his other enemies), so instead, he devised a series of rigged trials, the purpose of which was to kill his enemies.  The language of the trials was always carefully neutral, indeed, it even made the king sound like he was benevolent - but winning the trials, and winning three trials in a row, was designed to be impossible. When the Mad King ordered you into the trials, it was always phrased as a gracious invitation so that, if you refused, the King and his allies could claim to be insulted and declare you as his enemy and kill you that way.

In the first trial, it was an "even up match of skills with the spear and shield", except the Kings Champion has real armor and a real spear and I was issued a wicker shield and a very light spear.  There was no chance of defeating the Kings Champion in straight up combat, but I was able to win the contest by out maneuvering him, and then using the light spear to slip between his legs and trip him - once he fell, I was able to get on top of hit and get my knee on this throat and choke him out.  The Mad King was not pleased, but praised me for my cleverness.

In the second trial, the King gave me a belt of silver, phrased as a gracious gift, and all I had to do was don the belt, and then jump out of a boat and swing across a small lake to thank the King.  The belt was heavy enough that if you tried to wear it or carry it, it would take you to the bottom of the lake and drown you - and if you let go of it, you would arrive on the shore without the Kings Gift, an insult that...well, you get the picture.  Here, I was saved by the fact that I can swim like an seal.  Okay, maybe a very big seal.  (LOL - and I will at the end of this entry tell you of something that reminded me off.)  So, I went into the water, which was about fifteen feet deep and gently sloped.  I let the belt carry me down, then I dropped it, went straight up, got a big breath of air, went back down and walked across the bottom of the lake carrying the belt.  I would surface, breath, dive, walk ten steps, surface, breath, dive - until I crossed the lake with my Kings Gift.  Again, the King was angered by my defeating his trial, but there was nothing he could do about it.

As the final trial, the Mad King sent myself and another person into the woods to fetch some silver acorns that grew on a certain oak tree deep in the woods.  I knew that once I had  the silver acorns, the man with me would kill me and claim I tried to steal them.  Since he was armed and I was not, the trap was that either I would be killed trying to steal the acorns, or I could defeat him and head back to the Mad King with the acorns - and be put to death for attacking my companion.

I was done playing the game.  We were scarcely ten feet inside the deep and dark woods and I picked up a convenient oaken club and bashed him alongside the head, then stripped him and tied him up.  I then took his clothes and gear and ran to the oak tree, stole the silver acorns, and as I woke from the dream I was making a run for it through the forest.

Now, I will spend a few days interpreting the dream - though it is pretty descriptive of the work environment I find myself in, serving a Mad King and expecting sanity.

*Okay, I mentioned that I swim like a seal - it's true - I love swimming and I take to the water like a seal.  When people would comment in on my swimming, I would tell them I used to be a part of an elite Navy unit.  "You've heard of the SEALS?  Well, we were the WALRUSES.  We were like the SEALS, only fatter and lazier."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Better Day Than Expected

Today was a better day then I expected.  I started the day with a work schedule full of meetings - five hours of meetings, from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM, so I knew that I would have to settle in for a long day. I think that is one area where our expectations can come in handy. 

Since I knew what the shape of the day was going to be, I was able to prepare, both physically and mentally, and as a result of that preparation the day itself went pretty smoothly.  I even managed to finish an audit task that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish this afternoon, and then promptly volunteered to help another employee finish the same audit task, which I will wrap up tomorrow morning.  I thought about doing it tonight from home, but decided that I would not push it - it was a good day, I will accept that and move on. 

My plan tonight is to read some more in The Pattern Scars.  I am about two thirds of the way through the book and probably two or three hours of continuous reading from the end.  It has been an interesting story, but it is a little slow and meandering at points.  I think that is a risk in fantasy and science fiction novels - sometimes the author just gets wrapped up in describing the world they have so lovingly constructed that they forget to move the story along.  To me, it is all about the story - tell me a good tale and that forgives many sins.

It was a beautiful and balmy day here in California.  Tonight is simply gorgeous, about seventy five degrees right now, an hour after sunset.  I've got the patio doors wide open and the windows wide open and a single fan spinning in the hallway to insure a smooth flow of air through the entire apartment.  Even though the weather is so nice, we are still in winter here - and we'll most likely get two or three more rain storms before we reach spring, but the plants, trees, and flowers are already rushing toward spring and blooming.  Like I said, simply beautiful.

Lately my dreams at night have been full, dense and crowded.  I would not call them anxiety dreams - more like they are simply very complicated.  I wake and all I remember are dream fragments.  My subconscious is definitely churning in frenzied circles and we'll see if the dreams take any coherent form over the next couple of days.  Though the fragments are interesting, like stories, I much prefer the dreams that have a strong narrative center.  I guess I even prefer life to have a strong narrative center now that I think about it.

I spent about an hour on the phone with my step-dad tonight.  He is in the final two weeks of his stay at the convalescent hospital and he should be released to home sometime around the 20th. He is looking forward to it and he is definitely in much better shape then he went in.  Hopefully he learned the all important lesson about staying on his medications and watching after his own health. He and Mom are seriously contemplating moving into an assisted living facility there in Winner and I am all for it.  It will allow them to keep their independence and yet at the same time have some services provided to them or available to them.

The whole question of aging parents is a difficult one for me, as well as for many people. My instinct is to charge back and to take charge and help - but, I am fortunate enough to realize that isn't the solution.  Yes, I am prepared to give them whatever assistance they need, including moving back to South Dakota - but at the same time, it is not something that you can force on them, they have to choose it, and it would doubtless involve some complex negotiations on the part of all parties because they are not yet at the point where they need someone to run their lives for them, All they need at this point is some assistance - and being headstrong, like we all are as a family trait, that assistance is going to have to come on their terms.  As much as I'd like to make decisions for them, I can't and I shouldn't.  As John-Roger said, "We must allow other people the dignity of their journey."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sliding Into The Evening

It was a fairly productive Monday at work today.  I worked ten hours through the course of the day, taking lunch and a break for dinner and a pair of errands at the end of the day, then circling back around to finish up a few extra items.  Last week, when I didn't do anything but work a standard nine hours a day, was exactly what I needed. I feel more recharged today.

I battled my Monday Monkey Mind pretty well today. It was doing the usual dance of negativity. It is kind of amazing how the mind works, all of the negative sentences that flow through it during the course of the day.  I spent most of the day aware of it and actively engaged in counter-measures, such as affirmations and meditations.  They worked and tomorrow is a new day.

Tonight, I am sliding into the evening with a call to my step-dad who is doing fairly well and moving steadily toward release in two weeks. With that under the belt, I have been watching "The Five Year Engagement" with Jason Segel and Emily Blunt.  It's a little slow and some of the jokes miss - but it has it's moments and they are both talented actors, so there is some joy wrapped up inside of it.  I haven't shaken my melancholy, but I today it was held at bay by the business of the day.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Simple Day, With A Touch of Melancholy

Another easy day, though not without a touch of melancholy. It is a beautiful winter day here in California, with the taste of the approaching spring. As I moved through the day my thoughts turned, here and there, sparked by the slightest things, to melancholy and loss.  Not overwhelming, not all powerful, just those soft and bittersweet moments of loss and longing.

I had breakfast with my friends at the Hickory Pit, then a trip through Fry's, then I picked up a coffee table my friend Tony has lent me - a nice one, but a loaner only. It was a bit heavy so it took the extra hands to get it down from Tony's place and then up into mine.  Once here, I polished it up and placed it - it is nice and it fits right against the dividing wall between the kitchen and living room.  I had an incidental table and a printer stand there before and so it is definitely a visual improvement.

Once settled in, I ran back out and got my car washed (I was overdue), then home again and a quiet afternoon of reading, thinking, and watching a few shoes off the DVR. Brandy is going to make French Onion soup tonight at 6:00 PM, so I am going to swing through the grocery store and pick up a baguette and some mozzarella cheese.  I am also going to pick up the ingredients for an instant monkey-bread recipe that I am going to try.  It is pretty simple, so I will see how it works out.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Keeping The Day Simple

It was the first off Friday I've had in a long time that I actually took off.  I did work a bit twice in the day, reading and responding to email on my work Blackberry, but otherwise it was a clean day off.  I woke fairly early and started the day with coffee and toast and a quiet hour reading.  From there, I went to Goodies II for breakfast, followed by a stop at the bank, then a stop at Office Max. That was chased by a regular doctor's check up (all is well), then a bit of a wander checking out a different laundromat then the one I usually go too (I wasn't impressed). A pause from noon to 2:00 PM to see Emperor (with Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox - enjoyable, interesting, well done - but all in all a light narrative). Anther two hours at the laundromat, doing several loads of laundry, then dinner from Tsing Tao (Tsing Tao Fried Rice and Honey Walnut Prawns). Home at about 4:00 PM, a call to my step-dad, and then a couple of hours watching "Letters from Iwo Jima" and now "America Unearthed". I guess I would have to call it an enjoyable, busy and productive day. But simple. Pure and simple.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thursday Winds Down

Well, it was a tough day I work.  I had a rough morning as, yet again, requirements change according to whims at the last moment. Very frustrating and I am sure the frustration crept into my voice more than once.  I managed to make it through the day.  It is just damn hard to work up any enthusiasm when you're constantly trying to hit a moving target.

So, let's pull out of my work brain for a bit. It has been a pleasant enough evening, with the sound of rain ushering me through the last hours of the day. I had pizza for dinner (the first time since the food poisoning incident, though from a different pizza joint), then spent most of the evening either in conversation (nephew, step-dad) and watching three episodes of "Spartacus: War of the Damned", which brings me up to day on that particular series.

I think I am going to head into an early bed tonight, read myself to sleep with some more of "The Pattern Scars" and try to get a good solid night worth of sleep. I went to an optometrist appointment yesterday and I've got an internist appointment tomorrow - so I guess as I wove in and out of too much stress and exhaustion this week, it was a doctor week.

I am not sure what I am going to do tomorrow, but I actually have a whole list of things that need to be done - laundry, a serious round of household cleaning, maybe some purging, and half a dozen incidental errands that need to be done.  There actually should be enough stuff to keep me busy through the weekend.  I kept my work hours down to four 9 hour days this week, deliberately and with intention, so that I would get a chance to relax and try and catch up on my sleep.  It seems to have worked - though I am still battling stress at work, I do feel more rested.  I think a solid weekend of resting is going to help  me a lot.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It was a good day, all in all. Work went smoothly, I made some progress, and I actually got to watch my leadership say "no".  I did have to go to a rather stupid all hands meeting, but then I tend to find most all hands meetings to be a waste of time.

 Lunch was pretty indifferent.  

In the afternoon I flexed out of work early so I could go to an optometrist appointment to get an eye exam, order a new pair of glasses and another years worth of contact lenses.  I got a pair of reading glasses this time around for when I am spending a lot of time working on the computer.  I am wearing them right now.  They give me a nice array of options for those long days. Normally, I wear a pair of invisible line bifocals or contact lenses, but there are times when my eyes are too tired from work and my contacts are irritating my eyes, and yet I still have a lot of work that needs to be done - in those cases is where the new reading glasses are going to come in handy. The bifocals work fine, but for long term work I find that I give myself a stiff neck because I'm tipping back slightly to keep the computer screen in focus.

I also managed to write a nice long email to my sister today, which was pleasant. I think text is a great way of communication, but its more like incidental bits and pieces of a real conversation, so it is nice to both write and receive an email every now and then. My plan tonight is an episode of Whitney and then the rest of the evening reading The Pattern Scars.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

An Elementary Evening With Pattern Scars

A very ordinary day at the office, which was very nice. I ran into a bit of a wall today as I maneuvered through a series of back to back meetings. I often feel that I could significantly improve my working day if I could just figure out how to go to fewer meetings.  Unfortunately, I find myself deeply engaged in a company that has a strong culture of meetings.

Outside of work, I cam home tonight, took a nap (interrupted again), then a nice hot bath, then a pair of family phone calls, and I've spent the rest of the evening watching three episodes of Elementary back to back.  That is an excellent show - Lucy Liu and Jonny Miller have great chemistry and it's a well written show, full of the quirky details that I love in television or a movie. Once I finish this last episode, I am going to spend the rest of the evening reading in "The Pattern Scars", which I am about half way through.

The Ranks of the Insane

I thought I would quickly share a quote from Marcus Aurelius:

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tonight Is A Mood

I am in kind of a mood this evening.  I think it's because I am feeling more and more like myself in the aftermath of my wonderful adventures in food poisoning. I came home from work and laid down to take a nap, but it was mostly interrupted. Dinner was a bowl of soup, chased by an apple filled granola bar. Then, a pair of phone calls (Mom and Step-Dad) along with a pair of episodes of Justified.  When this last episode ends I think I am going to read into the rest of the evening. I am not sure what my mood is about and I am not even really sure what the mood is.  But it is a mood and it is there.

I Contemplate Attachment

I was contemplating attachment today. Attachment is a sticky thing (bad pun intended). We attach ourselves to things, to objects, to conditions, without being conscious that the attachment is forming.  One moment we are not attached.  The next moment we are attached. In yet another moment we are no longer attached.  It is a continual testimony to the transitory nature of life.
I’ve been wrestling with work attachment here in 2013.  I really find myself torn.  I enjoy my work (the substance of it), I enjoy my co-workers (with the rare exception). I even like the work I do in the greater strategic and metaphysical sense. I happen to have a very bad director, who may or may not be reflective of very bad VP’s above her. Inside of this world, I find myself measuring my attachment to my job.  When I step back, when I take a deep breath, when I settle in I realize that I should not be attached to it.  I realize that the attachments I have to it are very tenuous. But when I am in the moment, when I am right inside the hurly-burly of a working day I sure react as if I am attached.  Physically, psychologically and emotionally I am attached and when those strings get pulled, I dance. It is almost involuntary. It is such a strange thing.
We’re currently going through our performance appraisal cycle and the company recently adopted a new process and that new process is pretty much a dismal failure, lacking transparency, furthering distrust, and serving to demotivate and divide employees.
I guess one of the things that always amazes me is how people can make such terrible mistakes.  How they can start out with good intentions and then go so terribly awry.  Our system has two components - absolute performance (did you attain your objectives, how did you get there, etc.) and relative performance (how did you perform against other employees is similar positions).  It is the relative performance that they have so badly mangled.  Process wise, the employees provide input on their absolute performance, which is them supplemented and bolstered by their manager. Then, the whole thing goes to the Director level for the directors to sit down and determine the relative performance factors. It is this later part that is entirely opaque to the individual contributor.  We have no idea what goes into the decision, or how other people we are compared to are rated and why - we simply are told our rating.  We don’t even know what the rating criteria is.  It is an amazing disaster of a system.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Semblance of Something Ordinary

I think if I have an overall feeling right now it would be - mostly tired.  Mainly tired from the aftermath of the food poisoning.  Though I am much better, I feel like I am catching up on my sleep.  I am generally trying to push nine or ten hours of sleep a night.  I deliberately kept this weekend as low key as I could in order to get the maximum amount of rest and relaxation out of it.

On Saturday I saw the new Dwayne Johnson movie over at Cupertino Square and followed it with dinner at TGIF.

On Sunday, it was breakfast with the guys and then we spent most of the day getting Tony's large things moved out of his apartment and up into the new shared apartment in Fremont that he is moving into.  It went fairly well for a move, all in all.  There was me, Tony, Bob and Pierre and his new roommate Dan and his wife.  There was enough hands to spread the work around, though Tony still has a lot of stuff to move, the bulk stuff is over to the new place.

From there, I came home, tried to take a nap that kept getting interrupted, then watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead (excellent as usual).  There is a new show coming on the History Channel that starts tonight that I am going to watch - "The Vikings".  It looks like it might be pretty interesting. Then, an early bed and a good night sleep, probably with a call to my step-dad mixed in there somewhere.

 My plan is to keep things very low key this week and do my best to catch up on my rest and my sleep and get my life hammered back around into a semblance of something ordinary.