Saturday, November 23, 2013

Vacation - Day One

Today was the first day of my vacation.  It went pretty smoothly.  I met Tony, Bob, Brandy, Jobn, Cyrus and Tony at the Hickory Pit for breakfast.  Following breakfast Tony, Bob and I went to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire over at AMC 14.  A very enjoyable movie.  From there, I ran Bob home, them met Tony for pizza at Patxi's.  After Patxi's, I swung by Westgate and picked up a small duffle bag (Eagle Creek) - I've been meaning to get one for a while and today and the forthcoming trip seemed like a perfect excuse.  Then home, an easy evening, settled in and watching sitcoms off the DVR and now the latest episode of the Agents of SHIELD. My plan is to get a good night sleep and then just go as easy as I can through the day tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a traveling day and I am hoping it is going to go very smoothly.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Planning A Light Trip

I have three things left that I am trying to accomplish prior to leaving on vacation.  I started the day with four, but I managed to get one off my plate a little bit earlier in the day.  Each of them represents between three and four hours of work, so it will be interesting to see if I make it or not.  Of course, if I don’t make it nothing happens. Since next week is the Thanksgiving week, traditionally, by the rhythm of the business, we will accomplish nothing during that week since most of leadership will simply be gone.  Since we are in a top down environment right now that means everything will come to a grinding halt.  It will all patiently wait for me to return from vacation.

Speaking of vacation, I am looking forward to the trip, though it is going to be a relatively fast turnaround one.  That is fine - I spent two weeks in South Dakota earlier this year, so a far week at the holiday season will be enough of a visit for me.  I am sure my parents will wish that I was there longer - but in reality, from many prior visits, four or five days is about the proper length of time.  Much longer and you start to run out of things to talk about.  I am going to travel as lightly as I can, just to see if I can.  My intention is to travel only with Maximus, my backpack - a change of clothes, a small toilet kit, and I should be good.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's Already Thursday

It;s already Wednesday.  Two more days and then I start my Thanksgiving vacation.  I am looking forward to it. I'll be going to SD for the week to spend the holiday with family.  I hope the weather is good!  Fall in SD is usually not too bad, but they've already had one brutal snow storm - I hope it is a clean trip.

Work has been mostly busy but not productive.  We're way understaffed right now due to travel and vacations, so the first part of the week, the last three days, for me, have been nothing but putting fires out. I am hoping I'll be able to get a few tasks done tomorrow and Friday, but, honestly, my hopes are not high. This is a week or fire fighting, then off for a week and then, well, I guess I get to start all over when I come back.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Breakfast with a Red Headed Sparrow

It is a beautiful morning here in California.  I slept well last night, woke in the magical hour before dawn and watched the sunrise.  A hot shower, then coffee and pumpkin bread on the patio, savoring this fall morning. I was joined by a red headed sparrow who dropped down into the black oil sunflower seeds and seemed to be enjoying himself very much.  I fired off a few texts, then settled in to watch the morning news shows. I've got a simple day ahead of me.  My plan is to meet Rick and Tony at the Cheesecake Factory at noon for lunch, and I am sure I'll take a nice ambling walk through the Temple of Mammon afterwards.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Sum of A Thursday Morning

Okay, it has been a couple of days since I have taken the time to write anything. Lately, during the work-week especially, I’ve felt hard pressed for time.  I’ve started to write, but they were turning into work venting, so I stopped and set it aside for a while.  I thought I would take a few minutes this morning as my day starts and I get ready to slide into the flow of Thursday meetings to write an entry.  This is going to ramble a bit, but that is okay, I am in sort of a rambling mood.

Work continues in the throes of chaos, bad management, and reorganization.  I’ve heard a few hopeful rumors, but so far, that has been about it.  It is starting to develop a sort of “Ground Hog Day” feeling.  I spend some time over the weekend doing some dedicated thinking to the problem and I think that, in the end, I need to simply fight my way out of the corner.  I am going to take advantage of the opportunity to push for organizational and process change to try and get some relief.  I started the process this week with two pushes and I’ve already received one polite brushback.  I generally don’t respond to polite brushbacks, especially when I have the right of it.

Personal life has been going fairly well.  Health is good, latest eye exam with imagery came out exceptionally well and actually made my day. As a Type II diabetic the potential for eye problems exists.  So I routinely visit an opthamologist for detailed examination, the theory being that diabetic retinapathy is treatable if it is caught early enough. 

At my my recent visit, a week or so ago, the doctor told me that I could safely fall back to a 2 year rotation on the visits, since my eyes were actually better then they were when I first came to him in 2009.  We looked through the scans and that was pretty cool.  I felt like high-fiving myself at the end of the exam.

My friends are dealing with a wide variety of personal challenges and turmoil, but that is sort of the nature of the beast.  As a cohort we are in an interesting time I think, on the threshhold of feeling our age and moving into the next phase. It is kind of interesting to see how all of my friends are dealing with aging.  Denial seems to be a favorite tactic.

My folks are actually in the process of applying for an apartment in town, which is definitely the move they need to make in my opinion.  They need to get closer to the wide variety of services and service providers that town offers. The whole process is going to have a few bumps, but that is to be expected.  There is a lot of self questioning that goes on as they go through the process and I try not to let that keep me up at night.

All in all, that is pretty much the sum of a Thursday morning.  Time to turn my focus back to work and see what I can accomplish.  Thursday is usually one of my meeting heavy days, so I am going to get a couple of hours of good work during the morning, and then settle in for the long slide through the meetings.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Very Zen Weekend

It has been a good weekend.  It's moving at a nice and easy pace, yet at the same time it has been fairly productive. I had a wonderful three hour conversation with TR last night where we managed to cover, at one level or another, every subject in the book.  I love those conversations.

I slept deeply last night and dreamed, but it was a night full of ordinary dreams.  I woke up early this morning, rested and energized, and basically dove into the day.  Breakfast was simple and I chased it was some needed housecleaning, then I was off to the laundry.  The laundromat I usual go to has changed hands and the change is for the better - the place is nice, neat, clean and has an attendant now, which is outstanding. 

While the laundry was spinning in circles, I took a nice wandering walk around the neighborhood and enjoyed the sights and scents of fall.  Laundry done I came home and folded it.  I love the scent of fresh laundry.  From there, I kicked back and watched "On The Road", an excellent little movie.

 Because I dove straight into the day, it is only the early part of the afternoon and I have accomplished quite a bit.  That should allow me to enjoy the rest of the day, simply and purely.  It has been a very zen weekend.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Gift of Dreams

Let me start with the beginning.  Last night when I slept, I dreamed.  The subconscious is a wonderful place, it does all sorts of amazing things, and one of the things it does very well, at least in my case, in fuel my dreams.  Last night, it decided to fuel up my stress/anxiety dreams and then add a twist. I had a set of anxiety dreams that were three parts bad and one part good.

Part One:  I dream I am at a restaurant trying to get a sandwich for lunch and they keep messing up my order.  The first time,, they bring me the wrong sandwich.  I send it back.  The second time, they bring me the wrong sandwich.  I send it back.  The third time they bring me a sandwich - and I can't even say that it is the wrong sandwich because it looks like it has been stepped on.  I completely lose my temper, starting swearing and yelling and throw the sandwich into the kitchen.  They kick me out.

Part Two:  Fuming mad, I go outside to discover someone has stolen my car.  (In the dream, it wasn't my current car, but rather the old Cadillac I loved so much.)  I rant and rave about that.  Frustrated, I walk over to El Camino Real to catch the bus home.

Part Three:  The bus shows up.  Only it isn't a VTA bus, it is a bus like you would see in third world country, an old, beat up, multicolored school bus.  It is crammed full of people.  People inside.  People on top. People outside.  There is no room for me.  The second bus, same story.  This third bus...same story.  Angry and frustrated I start the walk home.

Part Four:  It is about a six mile walk home.  When I get within the last mile I turn down a street that will shave some of the distance off.  I get almost to the end of the street and it is all cut off by a ten foot tall chain link fence topped with razor wire.  I seethe. I turn around to retrace my steps.  In one of the nearby buildings, a man waves me over. I walk over, expecting it to be a security guard about to tell me to get off their property. Instead, he holds the door open and says "We've been waiting for you.  Your suite is ready." He escorts me to the elevator.  I am puzzled, but heck, it is a dream so I go with it.  I ride the elevator up.  The door opens into a luxurious suite with a giant jacuzzi tub.  A room service cart covered in delicacies waits nearby. And there, in the jacuzzi tub - the beautiful actress Milla Jovovich!

The subconscious is an amazing place. It took me through a journey of my stress - and then provided me with stress release!  LOL - outside of the sheer amusement factor of the dream, it was essentially a map of my stress and then a reminder of what I needed to do to recover from it - so the plan this weekend is a nice and relaxing weekend. I won't get the spa with Milla, but I do get the idea.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fast and Relatively...

I made it to the end of the day without a meltdown so I am going to put it in the win column. I've stopped for Swedish pancakes on the way home and that may, ultimately, have been the deciding factor. The work day was fast and relatively brutal and I'm glad it's over!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Just a Pause

Let me pause here for a moment at work and write a little something.  It is a beautiful day outside today.  The sun is bright, the sky is very blue, and it’s a wee bit cold out there. I am just back from a brisk walk around the building. I had intended to go for a longer walk, but it is a little bit brisker then I expected! I do love this time of year though - the cool and crisp weather that is slowly burned away by the sun, so it is balmy in the afternoon and cool to cold in the night.

Work has been its usual immensely chaotic self. I spent all day yesterday chasing a data anomaly in circles and I still haven’t managed to close the loop on it, though I can now at least clearly see the conditions under which it is occurring.  This is just an aside, but I have watched the ACA website debacle with amusement - being partially in that world, I can relate to the challenges they’re facing and trying to work their way through.  I can point to the whole thing on TV and say - “see, that is what I do for a living”, and then add “and about that chaotic too”.

I finally finished reading “The Name of the Wind” last night and I enjoyed it.  It was an interesting story, though I would say that, mid-way through the book it seemed to bog down, as if the story was trapped in a circle where the characters where telling you about things that were happening/going to happen - but it wasn’t really engaging.  It did pick up by the end and I am going to give the sequel a try.  Hopefully the writer will get a little better at pacing.

Then, I started a non-fiction book that interested me - “Conquest: Montezuma, Cortes, and the Fall of Old Mexico”.  Probably because I had just finished watching “The Fountain”, which includes a sub-story about a Spanish Conquistador, I thought it might be interesting to see what sort of non-fiction books there were out there about the subject.  I think it has been a while since I’ve read any pure non-fiction.  I am looking forward to it.

Okay, as for today at the office, I have two simple goals - first, I want to make an entire sweep through my email to clean it out and update it.  Given the chaos of the last couple of days/week, it is a wee bit out of control.  Then, the second thing I want to do is take the time to write some peer performance reviews in our system. Then, if that doesn’t exhaust me, I need to write my own reviews.  (I’ve never liked the process of writing your own reviews - that is, to me, just stupid. I am actually not a fan of performance review systems at all - I think they all fall woefully short of what they are trying to do.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Fountain and Reading Into The Evening

It's about three thirty PM on a pleasant, if gray, day.  The sun never really broke through, so there has always been that sense of impending fall through the day.  It is kind of nice.  I know I have said it before, but fall is my favorite time of year. I'll probably write that a few dozen more times before the season slides into winter.

I drove up to Fremont and had breakfast with Ty and Tony this morning, then ran a few errands with Tony before I turned back south and headed home.  Once back in San Jose, I took my car for a wash down on Prospect, then headed across the street to Westgate to run a couple of errands.  I stopped at Storables and picked up a pair of wire mesh baskets for the closet. After that I went for a rambling walk and people watching session around the shopping center, culminating in lunch at Sushi Boat.

From there, it was home for a short name, then I've been watching "The Fountain" on Blu Ray.  It's an excellent movies if you've never seen it.  (I guess it would still be an excellent movie if you had seen it too.)  It's about life and immortality and love and all kinds of big themes, with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz as the lead characters. It's kind of a trip, but in a good way.  It's also very visually rich and has an outstanding score.

I had a good text session with TR this morning and she's deep in my thoughts right now. I think one of the hard limitations we have to eventually confront and deal with in life is just how limited we are when it comes to helping other people carry their burdens.  Physical burdens we can help with, but all the other burdens the best we can do is love and support.

I called the ranch this afternoon, just before I started "The Foundation".  Things were going well enough (which is good enough when it comes to aging parents.)  They seemed to be in relatively good spirits.  They went into town earlier in the week and took a look at an apartment and then decided that they would fill out the paperwork to see if they could get in.  It will be an adjustment for them, but it will be an adjustment for the better.  Being in town they will be able to attain services much easier then out on the ranch, especially in the event of an emergency.  So, I have my fingers crossed that they follow through.

Okay, so, for now, I am going to settle in and take a long hot bath, then probably read my way into the evening.

I Watched My Father The Hero

I woke up this morning at 5:30 AM and it felt...right.  My natural body clock wakes me about an hour before sunrise. As we've slid into fall, with sunrise slipping back, waking up at 5:00 or 5:30 AM seemed like I was waking up too early.  So, this morning, when I woke up naturally about an hour before sunrise, it felt perfect.

I had a fairly good day yesterday.  Met the guys for breakfast at the Hickory Pit, then swung by Fry's for a walk through, then out running errands for a couple of hours.  I met Don for lunch at Outback, then swung back home and settled in for a lazy afternoon of watching TV and pizza.  I watched "Shout at the Devil", an old Lee Marvin and Roger Moore movie, set in Africa in WWI.

Then, after a brisk walk through the neighborhood, I settled in and watched one of my favorite movies - the light and delightful comedy "My Father, The Hero" with Gerard Depardieu and Katherine Heigl. It is an American remake of a French film and, personally, I think it is one of the rare cases where the America remake is actually better then the French original, though the original is a good movie as well, I think the America version is lighter and gets the degree of froth just right.

Then, I curled up and read some more in "The Name of the Wind". I am almost to the end, maybe twenty pages away, and I just couldn't make it before I turned off the light and went to sleep.  I fell pretty cleanly to sleep and then, as I mention about, I woke pretty crisply this morning.  I've already eaten breakfast and I am working my way through my morning cup of coffee.

I'm not sure what I am going to do today, but I do feel like getting out and about and doing some wandering in the sun.  This time of year is my favorite time - I love the warm days and cool nights, I love the scents in the air, I love the way fall feels on my skin.  It is a beautiful time of year.

Friday, November 1, 2013

I See Ender's Game

I thoroughly enjoyed Ender;s Game.  I saw it this afternoon over at Century 22, between a rambling park walk and a visit to the Apple Store.  I am an Orson Scott Card fan, I think the guy is a great story teller, and I am also a fan of the Ender;s series of books (my personal favorite is "Ender's Shadow", about Bean), so I was slightly nervous when I went to see the film.  There were so many ways they could have gone wrong.  Let me put my opinion like this - if you think of the novel as a pot of coffee then the movie is a cup of espresso.  It condensed and captures the themes and moral dilemma's of the book in the succinct format of film.  I followed the movie with another errand, then a nap, followed by a slice of pizza at Mama Mia's, then home again. T.R, is out tonight, so I am settled in front of the television.  I watched an episode of Elementary and now I am watching Guy Ritchie's "Snatch", a great little movie.