Thursday, January 31, 2013
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Then I had a UPS incident - and this has actually happened to me before with UPS. I wish, when you ordered things, the shippers let me decide which carrier to use, because my experience with UPS has not been good. I'd ordered a jacket that was shipped via UPS, with an original scheduled date of the 28th. It never made it. The UPS site said it would arrive today on 29th, so I was home all afternoon, waiting for the arrival. It never showed - no knock on the door, no package delivered, nothing. About six PM this evening I went online to check the status of the package - and it said it was delivered at 2:35 PM and left at the door.
Uh, not a chance. I live in a small apartment and at 2:30 PM I was sitting in the spare bedroom/office specifically waiting for the arrival while writing on a work project. Nothing was delivered. So, who knows where the heck it was delivered too, but it certainly wasn't me. I even took a walk through the apartment complex to see if it was accidentally sitting at someone else's door. Nothing that I could see. So, I suspect that the UPS driver probably dropped it at the wrong street address. Which means, starting tomorrow, I have to go through the hassle of contacting the original shipper and having them file the claim with UPS. Normally, it would be an irritant (and it is), but I have had this happen with UPS before - where they claimed to deliver something, but they never did - and it's not like I could have accidentally missed it - I was sitting at home specifically waiting for it. Frustrating. And what is going to frustrate me even more is, if the vendor ships a replacement - they're probably going to ship it by UPS again. Okay, that was my UPS vent. I personally have better service with the USPS and Federal Express.
Okay, so let me sum up the three parts of my cranky - UPS (grrrrr), Work (grrrrr), Thinking About Work When I Should Be Sleeping (grrrr). I don't know what it is, but when it rains, it sure seems to pour in life. All right, got that out of my system.
I am going to go back online hear and do a small spot of work (a pair of configuration requirements) and then call it an early night and maybe try relaxing into the evening with a little writing or a little reading, something to break the relatively stressful routine that I've found myself in.
Monday, January 28, 2013
Point one that frustrated me was, as usual, a last minute change to a set of requirements - and no real reason for the change that have been made at the last minute. I didn't have a lot invested in it, so I will execute tomorrow. Point two was a potential change in requirements that I did not agree too, so I protested fairly strongly. We will see if anyone listens. I can implement, but I really think this particular set of requirements is a bad idea. Point three was a meeting about some upcoming testing and I got really frustrated because several of the people were not listening, they were simply talking over each other and not getting into the level of detail that we need to get into. All three are frustration points, but I am pretty zen today.
I will give credit to a nice sushi dinner and a meditative walk at about four in the afternoon. I worked from home all day, so that helped too. In the office, I have no natural light (our work area is deep inside the building) and here at home I have nice big windows for the sun to shine through. It's a much nicer environment here. When I find myself grasping at my job, I remind myself that there are many things that would be a nice change and one of them would be that our office space truly sucks. Almost any change would be a good change there.
So, tomorrow will be another day. And maybe another thirteen hours.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
After the movies I had a ham dinner over at Harry's Hofbrau, which was very filling. So filling that I came home and felt compelled to take a nap. Following the nap, I took a long, hot, soaking bath and then a hot shower, both of which managed to help me make it into this park of the evening. The clock seems to be slowly ticking away tonight and I am contemplating a wandering walk in the cool night. I haven't quite made that decision and its wrestling with the urge to spent the night reading.
It's pretty rare for me to censor myself here, but it happens every now and then - I just deleted an entire paragraph because I didn't like where it went. I have mentioned before that I have strong reservations when it comes to putting other peoples business out online in my journal, even when part of that "business" does, rightfully, belong to me. Additionally, there are things that I have specifically been asked to not write about, and I always honor those requests. In the paragraph I censored I didn't realize where it was going until I was already deep into the paragraph itself. So, censored, it remains silent.
I think there are times when I am reluctant to delve into deeper topics, in part because I do not like stirring those old still pools any more than necessary. There are other times when the words escape me. Yet other times when the words and the will are there, but I just want to spend some time thinking about what exactly I am going to say. This is one of the latter times. The words and the will are there, I just want to carefully craft what it is that I am going to say.
I did decide to work virtually tomorrow - I have seven hours worth of meetings, which almost always makes going into the office a rather pointless exercise, and I am expecting the arrival of a package from UPS tomorrow. I ordered a jacket online and it is supposed to come in tomorrow. So, with the combination of the two reasons, it will be a perfect day to work from home. That is one of the things that is nice about my job, that it affords me that opportunity.
In light of concerns about my aging parents and my step-fathers recovery from his fall, I've approached my boss about the possibility of going virtual in my work environment so that, if necessary, I can relocate to South Dakota. It is not in the immediate plans, but I suspect it may become more and more likely as time goes on. That is also one of those very deep subjects that I need to take the time and dwell upon. The challenge is when to pull that trigger - I would certainly like to be there to support my parents, my only concern is that I could very easily go through the relocation and virtualization process, only to discover that it wasn't necessary, or that I did it too early.
It is made more complex by the fact that I am eligible to retire in just over two years. This would be taking early retirement, it would mean a limited pension, but it would certainly be financially viable if I relocated to South Dakota. That is one of the factors that I have to wrap into the whole mix of thoughts. It is tempting to stay in place and let the decisions be made for me, but that does run contrary to the importance I place on making our own decisions and choices as we go through life.
Well, as you can see, it is an evening of a lot of questions and no answers - so I reckon I will wrap it up here and call it a night. I am sure the questions will remain into tomorrow.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Friday, January 25, 2013
It is a pretty amazing realization. Today, it came to me as a result of the general swirl of stress around me - so much of it is based on my expectations and desires for this or that outcome. When I set down those expectations and desires I find that core of peace inside of me. It is a good place to reside, in the simplicity of the moment.
I have a lot of things moving around me. The work project. The general work environment. Thoughts and concerns around career movement. My nephews illness. My step-dad's fall. My parents aging in general. My siblings lives. My Muse's journey. All of these things and yet, at the core of the them, they are pretty much beyond my ability to influence. They are going to unfold as they unfold. When these things start weighing too heavy on me, I return to the center - and breathe.
I had an intermittent day mostly - I lingered in bed this morning, reading. Breakfast was Goodies II with Tony. After that, I made a run through Target and picked up a handful of odds and ends that I needed. Home for a two hour planning teleconference. An easy afternoon watching a couple of musical programs off the DVR (Sade and Civil Wars Unplugged), then a rambling neighborhood walk, a simple dinner and episodes of Ancient Aliens and America Unearthed. An intermittent day, but a good day.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
In short, it was a productive day - even if I worked 12 hours, they were productive hours and that made them very enjoyable. One more day to go this week and I am sliding into a three day weekend. Most likely I'll be working over the weekend, because we are in that phase of the project. We are at the phase where grinding out the details is pretty much all that remains - and I am sure there are going to be some rocky days ahead as we make that final run.
Tonight though, I am going to curl up and make some project toward finishing The King of Thorns.I probably have an hour or so of reading left and then I will be finished with the book and ready to move on to the next. I have several collections of short stories that I want to read through (and that I have been peeking at in the pauses in my novel), including several that T.R. recommended. I just logged off work about twenty minutes ago and I am rapidly spinning in the direction of sleep. So, whoever you are and wherever you are, I hope you're having a good day.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Other than that, it was a pretty good day. I had a strange morning. I woke up thinking about the variety of things I needed to do and I wanted to do and I wondered why, sometimes, I have such a challenge getting started, getting motivated, getting engaged. It brings me back to the whole circle of discipline and focus and execution, which is all enter related. I also spent a lot of time today thinking about T.R., my family, and all the people in my life. I think tonight I am full of a million and one questions and no answers, so, for the rest of the night, I am going to let the questions go.
I went out with Tony today and we saw "Broken City" with Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It was a pretty good movie. A lot of the reviews I read said it was a miss, so I went to it with some low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. It is a pretty faithful film noir, faithful to the genre that is. I suspect that, for some people, without the black and white and the mood music, they expected an action or a cop show and it really isn't either. I'd recommend it.
With that, I am going to curl up with "The King of Thorns" and read myself to sleep. It is my short week, so it means I will work long days - and then mercifully have Friday off. I try not to think to much about all of the work that I have ahead of me because it puts me in a bad mood and makes me twist and turn at night. One thing at a time. One day at time.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
After the movie we grabbed lunch at Red Robin, then I went for a long walk, initially around the shopping center, then down through San Tomas Aquino park. An afternoon nap, a dinner of left-over pizza, an episode of America Unearthed and an episode of Ancient Aliens, then another walk through the neighborhood in the cool darkness of the winter evening. Somewhere in there I also answered several work email did some prep work for a working session tomorrow, and sorted junk mail.
My plan this morning is simple, breakfast at the Hickory Pit, then probably a bit of a walk-about, followed by a movie. I'm not sure which movie I am going to see, but finally we're running into a weekend where there are several options and I am sure at least one of them will be sufficiently amusing to keep me entertained.
I am planning on sitting down and writing a bit later in the day, so we will see how that goes, or if it becomes a day where I end up deliberately seeking nothing but simplicity.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Monday, January 14, 2013
I would categorize it as a typical working Monday - not without it's successes, not without it's challenges and at the end of the day - done. We get to do it all again tomorrow. Except not quite the same. In our lives, that sense of repeating the same day over and over is an illusion - each day is different, each day has its own set of nuances. I made a bit of headway today, so it felt like it was kind of productive.
I got home in the evening, had a burrito for dinner, watched the most recent episode of "Once Upon A Time", then did another hour or two of incidental work virtually, mostly scheduling meetings and running reports. These are the sort of maintenance related tasks that I would like to do during the day, but that always get pushed aside by the more important stuff, or by the stuff that other people designate as being more important. Whatever the importance was, at six p.m. I updated my time and called it a night, at least as far as work is concerned.
I then lit a pair of candles and spent ten minutes sitting in my comfortable chair in the living room and just breathing. It is a wonderful form of meditation and it was very relaxing and it is allowing me to move into this part of the evening with a clearer head.
I've been working on my New Year's resolutions these first two weeks and so far they've been going pretty good. I think I am doing better in regards to Body and Spirit and now so focused on Mind. I think it is because what I need to do to work on Mind is find something that I can focus on learning. Exercise, a better diet, meditation and prayer, those seem, to me, to be easier to attain then thought, then disciplined learning, then a focused approach to developing the mind. So, tonight, after I finish up with this entry, I am going to try and focus on learning something.
Of course, at this point, I have no idea what I am going to focus on learning, what I am going to focus on doing to expand my mind. It did just dawn on me that I could spend an hour or so reading the most recent issue of the New Yorker. There ought to be something in there that will catch and hold my attention. For reasons not entirely known to myself, but probably worth exploring, I don't seem to think of reading fiction as being mind expanding, even though it most definitely is. I think that's because I look at reading fiction as a very pleasurable activity and part of me seems to think that expanding the mind doesn't count if its fun.
I could also play a computer game. They are also one of those things that I don't think of as being particularly mind expanding, but, depending on the game, they certainly have that ability. I seem to think that studying should be a serious thing. That is probably a through back from other points in my life.
Ah well, more things to contemplate in my meditative times.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
She lays upon the warm stone table
Her luxurious curves and sensual lines
Covered in ancient salt, a statue
Where the rise and fall of her breath
Marks her among the living, dreaming
She trembles as the first bucket of warm water
Is poured over her body, sluicing
The salt away, stripping her with each pass
Revealing more and more until
At the end, she lays, naked and eternal
Her flesh, pale pink, glistening from the water
He watches her breathe, he trembles
From there, I headed out to meet Tony for breakfast, a few errands, some box shuffling, and then we went to see Kate Bigelow's new movie, the controversial Zero Dark Thirty, starring the immensely talented Jessica Chastain. Now, I will tell you, I think there is a great movie in the hunt for UBL, but, unfortunately, this wasn't it. There were two problems - first, there was a lack of narrative structure - the movie felt like a series of vignettes strung together. Then, second, it would have benefited from a far more aggressive hand on the editing machine - it simply ran on too long in many scenes.
I think that is a risk that happens with directors and authors when they become very successful. They get the ability to successfully resist or disregard the advise of their editors - and we, as the reading or watching public, suffer. All of that said, I did enjoy the movie, it was good - it just wasn't great. (I was a huge fan of The Hurt Locker.)
From there, I came home, took a hot soaking bath, and then a short nap and now I've settled in to watch the Golden Globes. Which I can do while multitasking.
I did watch a surprisingly good little piece of film last night - the SyFy Channel's mini-series "Riverworld". I'd watched it when it originally aired, but I was not terribly impressed at the time. Last night I watched it on DVD and I basically watched all three hours continuously. It was pretty good in that format and I would recommend it as a nice, user friendly, bit of Science Fiction - though of course, the classic novel is a source of constant amazement,
Friday, January 11, 2013
Then, a short nap, a bit of reading, pizza for dinner, a wonderful little call with T.R. and then an episode of Ancient Aliens. It was a TV watching day I guess and it must have been what I needed, because I sure enjoyed it. My plan this evening is an episode of America Unearthed, then back to bed with The King of Thorns.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
All of the events of our lives have a certain weight to them. As we go through our lives, we carry that weight. Sometimes those burdens are light - all the things we carry that we love, all of the things we carry for the people we love, all of those have very little weight. They have a joyous weight, even if they are difficult and challenging things. The burden of our lives comes from carrying all of those things that we do not love, or that we do not carry out of love.
I think it is very important in this world, as we make our way through it, to carefully consider what we decide to carry and what we decide to set down. We can be selective about the weight we carry. We can choose to carry the joyous things. We can choose to set down the burdens.
We don’t get to set down all burdens of course - some of them belong to us, for a short while, for a long while, and those we have to carry. I think that is part of the price that comes with this wild and beautiful thing called being human. But there are plenty of burdens that we pick up and carry and we simply do not need to - our anger, our hate, our fear, our resentment, our disappointment, all of this are unneccesary burdens. We should examine them carefully and set them down.
It may seem like a strange thing, but when we go through the process of setting down the burdens we don’t need to carry, we make room for the burdens we do need to carry and they become both purer and lighter. They are transformed into sort of a defining weight and they slip out of the burden category.
I think one of the biggest voluntary burdens that we carry is our attempts to live other peoples lives for them. Whether we attempt to persuade them or attempt to command them, we are attempting to alter the course of their lives. We don’t have that right, even for the people we love. Everyone has the right to make their own choices, to carry their own burdens, according to their will or fate or destiny or simple random choice.
We should always give our best advice. We should always provide our best counsel. We should provide both in a manner that is consistent with what we value, with what we hold valuable. Then we should let it go. Advice and counsel is a gift - whether they pick up the gift or ignore the gift is a choice and that choice is their to make.
This is not an easy path. But then, it is the difficult paths that take you to the most stunning vistas.*
*A brief but true story: Some years ago, while I was driving through the midwest, I stopped at Yellowstone for two days of sightseeing and hiking. As I wandered through the park in the fall, I stopped in a parking lot. There was a sign/trail marker there that pointed up the mountainside to an attraction and said it was a short hike away, maybe a mile or less. I slipped into my knapsack, tightened my boots and for about 20 minutes I walked up the side of the mountain. The hike was worth it - the sight was beautiful, and I turned around and hiked back down. I got into my car, drove further down the road, which twisted and turned up the mountain, and suddenly there I was. At a parking lot. About a hundred feet from the sight I had seen minutes before. Sometimes life makes you do things the hard way before showing you the easy way. Sometimes we just forget to look at the map.
Monday, January 7, 2013
My work pillar of stress was invoked when we discovered a problem in the design of one of the components of the project. Basically, we had designed around the vendor software doing X, we had confirmed with the vendor that the software did X, and then were we actually got into test - we discovered that it was doing Y and that it couldn't do X. It was quite irritating. The vendor is working at finding a way around the problem with a redesign and we're meeting regarding it again tomorrow.
My family pillar was touched by family being family. We are nothing if not a stubborn lot and I think that part of the way for all members of my family to lower their stress levels - and mine - is for them to simply take a deep breath, find the moment, and life their lives. I am profoundly influenced by the quote from John-Roger that I am fond of, where he basically says: "We must allow people the dignity of their journey". It is a simple saying, but it is a difficult thing to do.
Free will means that we all have the freedom to make choices. I think it is important that we allow people the freedom of their own choices, even when we disagree with them, even when we would make different choices, even when we are convinced they are making the wrong choices, or, that more common item - where we think we would make better choices then they would. Or when we think that we are making a better choice then they are.
Free will is an interesting thing. It allows us to shape the universe itself with our choices. But, at the same time, it allows us to shape the universe itself with our choices. I think if we want our free will to be treated with dignity and respect, even by people who disagree with the choices we make - then we need to make sure we extend that same courtesy to other people - and I think that is the core of what John-Roger is getting at.
I will have to contemplate that some more as I wander off to sleep tonight. My plan tonight is a call with T.R. and then to curl up with "The King of Thorns". It has been any enjoyable set of books - the second one is a little too non-linear in my book, but not enough that it is going to stop me from reading it and looking forward to the third book in the series that comes out this summer.
And oh, I have some credits racked up in my Audible account, so I think I may drift over there tomorrow and see if I can get a book or two. I sure have an ongoing and passionate love affair with reading, one that has been with me all my life and will doubtless stay with me for the rest of it.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Saturday, January 5, 2013
From there I drove up to the Great Mall and met Don to see "Promised Land", the new Matt Damon movie. It was...beautiful fluff. I think there was potential there - good actors, good director (Gus Van Sant) and a potentially interesting subject, fracking. But, it wasn't really a coherent story with characters that you could invest in. It was more a collection of scenes acted by good actors, but with cookie cutter motives. After we came out of the movie we stopped at Outback to have lunch (mmm, Alice Springs Chicken) and I realized I had seen the movie before - only done much better. It you want to make the comparison then I recommend you catch one of my favorite movies - "Local Hero". Corporate outsider comes to quaint village to secure leases/easement for the evil corporation to build a facility that will destroy the village and it's quaint way of life. Except "Local Hero" has far more interesting characters and a better story.
After lunch, I took two laps of the Great Mall (it's a mile around on the inside), weaving in and out of the crowd and people watching and talking with Don. From there, I drifted homeward and stopped at Office Depot on Stevens Creek to get a new desk for the kitchen and to check out what they had on sale for monitors. I lucked out and got both a desk and a monitor on sale. The monitor was the display monitor, but it is pretty nice and in good shape and the price made it irresistible. The desk is exactly what I was looking for - a small to mid-sized desk for use in the kitchen. When I first moved into this apartment years ago, this is where I had the computer desk sitting, in the kitchen and over the years it has migrated to a variety of other places. Right now, the spare bedroom is set up as a home office and I wanted the extra desk out here for incidental use, or for when I wanted to move about the house and get a different light.
The desk assembly went pretty smoothly - there was one corner anchor on the actual desktop itself where the plastic insert was damaged, so ultimately I finished the desk without anchoring that corner down. There are enough other anchor points that the desk is very stable anyway. But, tomorrow, I may stop at OSH and see what they have that would allow me to jury-rig something to fasten that computer down.
It was definitely an interesting day - I got my Mind, Body, and Spirit thing in and I feel pretty centered and balanced. I woke this morning with a phrase from a dream running around inside of me, and I'll share it with you here. "Forgiveness is paramount for Happiness". Seems to be a pretty straightforward bit of dream insight and I can think of more than a few circumstances in my life where it might be relevant. In light of the hour, I think it is time to curl up with my book - "The King of Thorns" and read myself to sleep.
Friday, January 4, 2013
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
I enjoyed Christmas this year. I did feel some residual guilt for not going back to the ranch in South Dakota, but when I made the decision not to go back this year I knew it was the right decision as soon as it was made. There was just too much going on to make it a relaxing trip. It would have been hurried and stressful. Staying here in California was the right thing to do.
It was fairly quiet at work today, for the first day back after the holiday, largely because I suspect a lot of people are still out and won't be back until the seventh. The parking lots at the plant were about half full. Normally what happens at work is there is a hard ramp up into the second full week, then we hit our stride. I spent most of the day simply playing catch up from all the incidental things that happened while I was out on vacation. I'd say that, by the end of the day, I was fairly caught up.
Tomorrow I want to dedicate some time to getting organized for the coming year. I have to figure out methods and processes to keep from getting overwhelmed and stumbling into that particular form of paralysis that comes about when you have so many things going in so many directions at once you don't know where to start.
Normally, when I get into December, things slow down enough to allow me to reflect on the year that has just passed, but I didn't have that option this year. We sprinted right up to the Christmas holiday - and then we didn't so much stop sprinting as we simply collapsed from exhaustion. So, that self-review process, which takes place in both the work environment and the personal environment, is going to have to take place here, in the beginning of January.
I will certainly share the process and outcome of that analysis here - for your amusement and bemusement. Tonight though, I think I am going to spend the rest of the evening reading. I bought a magazine, on writing, a few months ago and I've been carrying it around with me ever since. I want to sit down and leisurely read it, to see what information I can glean from it, to see what tips and tricks I can learn - but it seems that I have never had the opportunity to truly focus on the magazine for the last couple of months. I've looked at, I've set it by the chair, I've set it by the bed, I've carried it back and forth from work, but I've simply never had the window to read it. Well, tonight, I read.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
I have the general framework for my 2013 resolutions. I am going to make 2013 a year of balance, where I focus on the three major aspects of life - mind, body, and spirit. I am going to make it a point, each day, for the next 365 days, to do something each day to enrich my mind, my body, and my soul.
There are a variety of ways I plan on doing this:
Mind - in terms of the mind, I want to alter the diet of information that flows into my mind. That is going to mean reading and writing more purposefully and more deeply. That is going to mean being more deliberate about the media I consume, how I consume it, when I consume it. That is going to mean trying to engage my mind more by playing challenging games, doing challenging puzzles, and staying focused on them.
Body - in terms of the body, I want to be more conscious of my diet and more purposeful in exercising, but at the same time, be gentler with myself as well - make sure I am getting enough sleep, make sure I am getting enough quiet time, make sure I am getting enough relaxation. It is going to mean eating more purposefully as well - both in content and quantity.
Spirit - it terms of the spirit, I am going to spend a little bit of time each day in meditation, and dedicate a little portion of each day to prayer. I am going to incorporate spirit in more of my daily considerations and activities, and simply try to move through the world with a more spiritual focus.
All of these can and will be intermingled - some of them go very naturally together. For example, I may focus more on Tai Chi practices, since that is an excellent mingled of all three. I can learn more (mind) about spiritual subjects (spirit). There is a lot of opportunity for cross pollination in these three areas.
I think what it comes down to in the new year is the more deliberate pursuit of balance in my life, all across the board. It will be challenging of course, because there are always outside pressures that are trying to push us off balance and sometimes they can be almost overwhelming - but the art of life lies in the trying. We accept that we will not always succeed. We simply focus on always trying. I kind of like that as the mantra for the coming year. "Always Try".
Also, since one of the things I truly love doing is watching movies, I am going to keep a yearly count of all the movies I watch from beginning to end, to look back at the end of the year at what I watched and when. I've already started the year by watching two movies that I enjoyed - one new and one slightly older. I went out today with Tony and Tyrone and we saw "Les Miserables". It was an enjoyable depiction of the play and within it the performance by Samantha Barks stood out. Then, I came home and as I moved through the afternoon I watched the very excellent Prometheus. A good start to the year, movie wise.