Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Decisions As I Go

I've reached the end of a fairly nice day and I thought I would take a few minutes and write.  I can see by my entry count that October has been a pretty slim month for entries here in my blog.  I am going to blame my excessive work habits for most of that.

T.R. and I have dropped back to email communications for a while, so I am having to adjust to that, especially here in the evening, when I enjoyed talking to her so much.  But, given all that she has had on her plate over the last couple of years, I fully understand and support any decision she makes.

I am still reading through "The Name of Wind" and I should finish up in a night or two.  I might even curl up into bed a little early and push the rest of the way through the book tonight. I'll make that decision as I go.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Time to Savor the Time

Weather-wise, it's a beautiful California evening.  I had a simple dinner of sliders with bleu cheese and a salad, chased by a small piece of chocolate cake, an indulgence.  I've got an episode of "The Blacklist" off the DVR running and my plan tonight is to split my time between personal things and working some back logged email. I've got a three day weekend coming up and I am actually hoping to take all three days off.

It's been a long time since I haven't worked on the weekend - either hours of actual keyboard time or hours of thinking and planning around work. I definitely feel like my work has become a big intrusion on my personal life and I am not really sure how to work my way around and out of it.  Today was a classic example - I am behind the eight ball on various project related things and yet my own management keeps assigning me additional things and telling me "this is a high priority - do this right away" - and I am sure on the flip-side of the day they'll then want to know why I didn't finish my other projects.  It is a challenging environment, that is for sure

I would like to find my way out of this particular wilderness, but I am not sure how.  My upper management (whom I hold in low regard) asked for feedback on how to resolve some of these issues and I took the time to write up my suggestions.  At the end of the day, they halfway implemented one of them.  The reason, I think, is because it is not a problem they experience, they doubt the reality of it.

Well, let me return to this beautiful California evening and settle in to enjoy my television show.  Time to savor the time.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Brilliant But Bleak

Saturday was spent with my friend Tony as he bought a new car. I was the designated chauffeur, which meant I spent most of the day sitting around, people watching, sports watching, and drinking car dealership free coffee (which happened to be Starbucks for the most part). Tony eventually settled on a new Ford C-Max Hybrid.  It is kind of a cool car.  Not necessarily the car I would have chosen, but we are different people. Tony liked it, but like most people he was crashing into a little buyers remorse today.  We'll see how that goes.

Sunday I met Tony and Ty in Fremont for breakfast at the Classic Diner, then Tony and I caught "The Counselor", the latest Ridley Scott film, written by Cormac McCarthy.  Outstanding film.  Typical McCarthy in tone and subject and masterfully directed by Ridley Scott.  I would recommend it if you are a fan of both, otherwise beware that it is a rather bleak film. Brilliant, but bleak.

From there, I came home and loaded up the laundry - five loads worth.  I headed down to the laundromat in Campbell, loaded the big machines up, and spent the afternoon doing laundry and reading SciFi magazine, with a brief stop at the sporting goods store (they did not have what I was looking for) and then Nob Hill for a grocery run.

Home, folded and hung laundry, a simple dinner of a big green salad, an episode of Elementary, a call to the ranch, then an episode of The Walking Dead. I exchanged some text with TR, who had a long day and remained tightly in my heart and my thoughts through the day.  Life sometimes gives us long days.  I know I have had my share, so I can relate. I often wish I had the ability to bring peace to other people - but it is beyond my ability.  All I can do is love and be compassionate.

I'm going to wrap the evening up with another episode of Elementary (I've got two more on the DVR), then perhaps some reading in "The Name of the Wind", and maybe a spot of prayer or meditation, or perhaps both.  Tomorrow is another day at office where I get to pick up that particular set of burdens.  But, for tonight, I am going to leave it laying right there.

I think I fought off a low grade cold or flu over the last week because I was low energy during the day and then flat out sleepy at night.  I went to bed early multiple times through the week.  But, tonight, I feel pretty good - my energy level is about where I would expect it to be at this time in the evening, in this time of the year.  That is kind of a good feeling.  I am curious to see if the energy level runs constant through the week.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dreams Inside Boxes

Whew.  What a week.  I sure didn’t manage to accomplish much, though I did a lot of work.  I was mostly fried from the long hours of last week, so I entered this week in a state of near exhaustion.  I could feel it in the evenings.  Monday night I slept extra hours.  Tuesday night I didn’t sleep because work had me totally stressed out.  Wednesday night I slept extra hours.  Thursday night I tossed and turned in a strange dream about boxes that was probably work related, though not necessarily.

The metaphor of boxes extends across life. Basically, in the dream, I was in a sort of post-traumatic stress condition where I was experiencing life in boxes.  Each aspect of my life had its own box and was moving independently of the other boxes.  Movement among the boxes was very sharp and distinct - inside one box, then inside the next box, then the next.  When inside each box the perception of the other boxes was that they were not real. Because they were unreal what was happening inside of them did not affect me in the box that I was currently residing in.  It was a strange and vivid dream.  I woke from it about 2:00 AM and the feeling of being in a world of boxes persisted until I fell back asleep, then I slide through a normal dream until my alarm clock woke me.

I think the boxes are an apt metaphor for my life at this point. Not intentionally, I believe in a holistic approach to life, but I think that the sheer volume of stuff has led me to compartmentalize a wide variety of things to keep them from spilling over. But, in the act of compartmentalization the core itself becomes fragmented.  You are trying to protect the core but instead you end up breaking it into pieces.  That is how I feel right now - I feel fragmentary.  I need to take the steps necessary to pull everything back together and be a more integrated whole again.

I’m not quite sure how to get there from here. Because I have been moving so fast I’m really feeling the need to just have a quiet weekend and spend some time thinking and meditating.  I haven’t been able to pull that off for a while.  Sometimes I enter the weekend with the best of intentions, but then, by the time the weekend is over I haven’t really accomplished anything.  I get the feeling that if I just got a couple of more days of good sleep I would catch up and feel more centered, but I am not sure if that is true.  Oh, I could definitely use a couple of more days of good sleep, but I am not sure it would affect the fragmentation.  Though I would certainly be less sleepy.

With the coming weekend I am going to try and sleep deeply and make a little headway against this particular challenge. I do realize that one of the things I have to do is stop wasting my time doing the things that are not giving me any rewards. I often feel like I spend way too much time waiting to do things and waiting for things to happen and I really need to just get moving and keep moving according to my schedule, not according to other peoples schedule.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chevy's Tortilla Chip

Chevy's Salsa

Huevos Mexicanos

I Vent

What a week. I was actually going to write something for the blog last night, but couldn’t.  I opened it and sat there and stared at it for a while, then closed it.  I worked 58 hours last week and paid for it this weekend.  Monday I was burnt out and under the weather. I had to call off sick from work and then spent the entire day sleeping with a head cold. I came into work yesterday, managed to sort through all the stuff that had stacked up from Monday, and then went home last night and couldn’t sleep because one of the work related things was stuck in my mind.  I have got to filter through it and decide what my response is going to be.

Work is tough, again, the fall out of incompetent management.  We are running as fast as we can in all different directions, with no one in control.  There are days when I literally don’t know what I am supposed to be doing because I’ve been pushed and pulled in so many directions.  One of the things that I’ve been struggling with lately is our daily customer service load.  We are split between two primary tasks - task one is our project work and task two is our customer service work. 

Our management simply fails to understand the degree to which the customer service work - one customer at a time, one issue at a time - eats into the hours.  Last week, when I was filling in for my boss and worked the 58 hours almost all of it was customer service work, answering specific inquiries and responding to specific issues.  The end result is I am, once again, very far behind in my project work - and still not caught up on all the customer issues that came in.  I am purely and simply burnt out.  I am taking protective measures this week - I am only working my scheduled hours and I am not going to work at all during the weekend.  I may need to continue that into next week in an attempt to get some semblance of normalcy back.  It is rough to be this burnt out and one of the worst parts is, due to our crisis in leadership, there is no way out that I can see.  It is terribly frustrating!



Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Self-Inflicted Illusion

It’s been a brisk week. My boss has been on vacation so I have been filling in for her and, since some other team members were also on reduced scheduled, I’ve caught a lot of incident traffic coming across my desk.  It has made the time pass quickly, but it has also been kind of chaotic and stressful.  I’ve got one task that is haunting me because a.) I don’t know how to do it and b.) it’s overdue.  I am hoping that I will get an opportunity today and tomorrow to get spend some serious time looking at the issue.  I get the feeling that once it clicks I’ll be able to complete it quickly, but that could that could just be a self-inflicted illusion.  So, in a near collision state with a self-inflicted illusion, let me return to the working world.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Good News on a Monday

So I see I managed to drop a couple of pictures out here during the last week, but that was about it.  It was a busy period of time, that is for sure.  I entered Monday after the weekend with the feeling that I had enjoyed the weekend, but I certainly had not achieved anything.  That is not entire true, but that is the feeling.  So, let me catch you up on what has been going on.

Let’s start with the biggest news first.  I do not have to relocate to South Dakota.  After examinations, x-rays, and consultations with a hip surgeon it was decided that my step-father did not need hip surgery after all.  The root cause of his intermittent pain and “hitch” in his hip was tendon based, so they are going to go down the path of cortisone shots (for the pain) and physical therapy (for the hip). 

That was good news for both of us. He doesn’t have to go through the hip surgery and I don’t have to go back to SD for an extended period of time - at least not now.  Of course, with aging parents, that is subject to change at any given moment, but the longer the inevitable day is delayed (the longer they stay functionally independent), the better prepared I will be, both psychologically and financially, for that day.  All in all though, that was good news on that front.

I had a nice weekend and saw a pair of movies.  Let’s just say they were very different movies.  I saw Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips” and I saw Danny Trejo in “Machette Kills”.  Inside of their genres they were both very enjoyable. I am sure I did other recreational related things during the weekend, but I feel as if the days passed to quickly and I never got the chance to relax as deeply as I would have liked.  Not that it was a bad weekend - just not the weekend I particularly needed or wanted.  I have to accept that some of that is directly related to the choices I make, so there is no blame to be assigned.

I did upgrade to the iPhone 5C and, finally, in the face of the inevitable tide of history, abandon my beloved Blackberry.  I was a huge fan of the Blackberry devices and platform, but the writing is clearly on the wall.  The King is Dead.  Long live the King. The iPhone 5C is pretty nice and there were a lot of misadventures wrapped into actually getting it, mostly involving store clerks for whom the smallest complexity was show stopper. 

But, eventually, I found a store where the sales person knew what they were doing and I was able to get into the phone.  I’ve done a partial set-up, put my key contacts in place, but I still have a lot of information that I need to move off the Blackberry on onto the iPhone.  I’ve had bad luck with the automated processes that the cell phone vendors use, so it is something I prefer to do myself.  That will be my evening entertainment for the next couple of days I think.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pure Honey

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dreams of Steel

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Today My Meditation Skills Will Get A Work Out

I think I need some stress free time.  As usual it seems that the world is spinning around me though I am in a relatively stable place.  I guess it is invoking a sense of vertigo which is probably combined with a sense of helplessness from being unable to influence that spin.  The end result is a tight stomach and a very active monkey mind.  Today is no exception.  The monkey mind started on waking and walked right into the shower with me, then sort of hung around and poked at me through breakfast.

I always wonder why I let it get inside of me and bother me like that?  These are things that I have minimal influence over. About all I can do is extend a helping hand and even then that can only have an influence if someone reaches out and accepts the hand.  Otherwise, I am left spinning with my hands extended, wanting to help but unable.  From there, I continue to spin until my stress levels get very high.

I find myself almost continually writing about my stress here.  I guess at some point this became my stress journal.  That is not necessarily a bad thing because usually, like now, writing about my stress allows me to process it and move through it more smoothly without bottling it up and feeling the pressure build inside of me.  Still, between the work and non-work stress I’m banging off the walls pretty hard.

Here as the office the main stressor is generally the fact that we remain overbooked for work.  The classic dilemma of too much work and not enough hands.  Add on top of that the lack of process discipline from the top down and it sometimes feels to me like it’s a recipe for disaster of one form or another.  We seem to be unable to influence the decisions that are made that influence our daily lives.  That is not just a perception, but rather what happens when you find yourself in a top down micro-managed world. I keep expecting those above us to wake up at some point and realize how much damage they’re doing to the company, but I don’t see it.  I think they are managing to hide the self-inflicted damage inside the outer turmoil in our working environment.

Then, in the off work stress the main thing that is in front of me is my pending relocation to South Dakota for an extended period to help care for my step-father following his hip surgery.  He has a meeting today to get images taken and then a meeting tomorrow with the surgeon, from which point they are going to schedule the surgery.  Oddly enough that is also a stress point.  There is a possibility that the actual surgery itself is tomorrow - I don’t think so - but it is possible.  This possibility exists because they scheduled the appointment and no one though to ask details about what was going to happen in each appointment.

I’ll survive all the stress of course.  It mainly is what it is and since there is little that I can do to influence it, it’s definitely an exercise in zen detachment.  I sometimes seem to come up short in that exercise, but I suppose that is the learning cycle.  Today is going to be another exercise in detachment or attempted detachment. I am sure that I am going to have to put my meditation skills to good work today!


Monday, October 7, 2013

A Day On A Pendulum

Well, I am sliding into the last hour of a fairly typical working Monday and I thought I would pause for a few minutes and send a quick entry off.  The day was the usual Chaos-On-A-Monday that we know so well, combined with the semi-usual Rod-Has-Slammed-Into-The-Wall-Monday.  In short, an ordinary day.

I read a good quote this morning that I shared with my team members and I thought I would share it here as well.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is mere tenacity. The fears are paper tigers.” - Amelia Earhart

I thought that was an interesting quote and since I am locked in battle with a few of my own paper tigers. I’m really engaged in an internal wrestling match with the challenge of aging parents and the potential impacts on my life.  I find myself swinging back in forth wildly, like a pendulum gone mad.  One day I am in this position, the next day I am in another position and then on the third days - well - who knows where the heck I’ve landed. 

Sometimes that pendulum is even swinging at a much faster pace, an hourly pace, a minute by minute pace.  I am trying to decide what the right thing to do is, but I am also trying to figure out, I think, who defines what the right thing is.  It’s never easy.  There are a lot of inner complexities involved.

Then I simply remind myself - trust the universe, stay true to yourself, and everything will work out well.  I wonder sometimes is I am too attached to my current job, too attached to my current life - even though, at times, I find both that job and that life to be less then what I would like to have.  In all cases I know that it is about the decisions I make, but that doesn’t make those decisions any easier to make, nor does it make the answers to those questions any clearer.

So there I sit today, on the pendulum, swinging back and forth.




Sunday, October 6, 2013

Three Days and Ready

I am now ready to relocate to SD on three days notice.  It will take a day to prep, close, and pack. It will take two days to drive there.  So, as far as semi-rapid deployments go, I am set.  Since I am going to drive I can travel heavy and the heaviest item in my plan is my workstation - a bracket, two monitors, keyboard, mouse, computer, power supply.  Other than that I will travel light.

I've been making the psychological adjustment necessary for the journey and I've got myself in the right space for it as well.  The main thing I find myself struggling with is reacting to scenarios that have yet to become real.  That is always a recipe for stress. I am as flexible and prepared as I can be for the immediate known future is going to present.  Life always unfolds unexpectedly.

Outside of that, it has been a pretty good weekend.  I went out and saw the new movie, "Gravity". I highly recommend it.  A great performance by Sandra Bullock and some stunning visuals. Definitely see it on a big screen and definitely see it in 3D.  I am looking forward to some of the movies that are slated for fall release, LOL, though if I am in South Dakota it may be a while before I finally get to  see them.

 My evening has been a simple fish dinner and two episodes of the new show "The Black List" with James Spader.  I definitely like it.  Spader is an excellent answer and I love to watch him work.  I also have to admit I have a thing for characters like Spader's and to see an actor like Spader in that role is just excellent.

The Fountain

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Old Game of Catch Up

It's been a while since I've had a window to write.  Since learning about my step-fathers impending hip surgery, I've been prepping my apartment here in California for an extended period away. I've been giving everything a hard scrub, mop and vacuum, and straightening things and putting them away.  When I travel, when I get home, I like to come back to a clean and neat place so I can relax.

Bill had an appointment today, but it was for an exam and MRI's.  He'll go in and meet the next Thursday and they'll decide on a schedule date from there. So, I have essentially another week to get my ducks in a row and that will be fine because, truth be told, I don't have that many ducks. Getting ready is pretty simple.  I will be traveling light when I go.

The last two days at work have been very brisk, but very brisk with small things - a lot of which I've knocked off, but a lot of which are still stacked up.  I hope to make some good headway tomorrow and then, once again, I am going to have to carry some work into the weekend.  It can be frustrating if I let it get to me.

This morning I was distracted, mostly thinking about Bill, and I realized midway into the morning that I was not authentically present, so I stopped, meditated for a while, and then pulled myself into the moment.  From there I was able to make a very productive day out of it.

At home this evening I had a nice dinner, then cleaned the kitchen and washed all the counters down.  I still need to mop the kitchen floor, but I think I will do that tomorrow or Friday.  I followed it up with some texts with TR and then some phone calls with my family.  Now, I've settled in and I am watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." on the DVR.  It is Joss Whedon and of course I am completely in the tank for Joss.  (Incidentally, it has one of the actresses I think is immensely talented and vastly underrated - Ming Na.)  So that pretty much brings me up to the moment.  I am going to decide whether or not I should go to be early tonight or perhaps do a little work related email after the show is over.

I am reading a pretty good book - "The Name of the Wind", which is the first book of "The Kingkiller Chronicles".  Based on what I have read so far, I would definitely recommend it if you're a fan of fantasy. The author is Patrick Rothfuss.

Starting A Reflective Day

Just a quick morning entry as I am getting ready to go to work.  Today is the day that I expect to here from my step-father on the scheduling for his hip surgery.  Based on that, I will make my plans accordingly.  My gut is tight and my inner stress level is pretty high. I am going to try to keep a tight focus and move as smoothly through the day as I can. I'll try my best to be authentically present through the day.  My thoughts are also on T.R. who has carried a lot through the last years.  It is going to be a reflective day.