Sunday, July 27, 2014

Meditations After A Hot Evening

We had a hot day here in this part of California yesterday and the heat carried into the night.  I got, maybe, four or five hours of sleep, well after midnight.  Up until then, I tossed and turned in the heat, even with the windows open and the fans running. It is the still hour before dawn right now and the apartment has finally cooled down to about seventy-two degrees.  I don't think today is supposed to be as hot as yesterday was, so I am hoping for a better night.

I did something I haven't done last evening - I spent three or four hours writing. I enjoy writing but I simply haven't done enough of it in the last couple of months, perhaps in the last couple of years, so last night had its own pleasures, the pleasures of creation. Now, today, I will re-read what I wrote last night and I might find that it is not particularly good, but that really doesn't matter - what matters is I definitely felt the creative juices flowing, all as the result of an incidental bit of inspiration that happened during the day.  I need to move myself into a point where I am in closer touch with my muse.

Today should be a good day - at this time, here in the early morning, it is a wide open day.  I am going to meet the guys for breakfast at eight, then, well, the day is open and I may find something to do.  I've been wanting to get over to the coast for lunch for the last couple of days, but I have balanced that with the need to just relax and do nothing.

Though I miss going to Comic Con, I am glad I made the decision to keep this vacation simple and close to home. I needed the time in solitude, I learned from it, I learned some things about myself and had some interesting dreams.

Two nights in a row I dream about shapes and patterns - specifically about layering those shapes and patterns. I think I have had an awareness for a while that I am not committing fully to the things I am doing as I go through my days.  I am doing things, and I am doing things I enjoy, but I am simply not fully loosing myself in the moment.  That is what I am going to work on for the next couple of months I think - continuing the process of focusing, of being in the moment, and of investing myself in the things that I am doing.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Luc Besson's "Lucy"

I met my friend Don for lunch and a movie today at the Century Theater's at the Great Mall in Milpitas. I highly recommend it.  However, I think I do need to admit that I am totally in the tank for Luc Besson and quite partial to the charming Scarlett Johanssen.  I personally count "La Femme Nikita" high on my list of truly great movies.

Lucy was extremely well done - it is a curious movie, part science lecture (Morgan Freeman's character) and part pure Luc Besson action/adventure (Scarlett Johanssen).  Both parts are excellent and they meld together in a nice tight little story.  It is a very visual movie and I saw it, entirely by accident, in Century's XD format, which fit it perfectly.  I will definitely recommend it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Quiet Vacation

It is about 4:00 AM here in California and I woke up a short while ago.  It's not as early as it seems since I went to sleep last night about 8:30 PM.  It is nice at this time of the day - quiet, still, dark, and beautiful.  Dawn is still an hour or so away and I may lay back down here and read for a while.  I am entering the third day of my vacation and so far it has been nice and relaxed. Yesterday was an easy day.

I went out and saw the new Zach Braff and Kate Hudson movie "Wish I Was Here".  It was a very good. It was definitely a showplace for Kate Hudson, whose performance is the emotional core of the film.  The other cast members turned in excellent performances as well. I would recommend it if you are searching for a solid little movie.

Other than that, it has been a quiet and introspective time off, which is exactly what I was in the mood for. I miss going to Comic Con, but that is okay - this is the vacation I needed. I can always make Comic Con next year. It has been so nice to just coast through the days, doing only those things that arise naturally.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Quiet and Introspective Day

It honestly doesn't feel like 10 days since my last post. I was pretty sure I had posted something earlier this week, but it appears that I didn't post it this week - it was last week. Work has been pretty intense, but the project that I was working on has gone live, officially, on Friday, so I am looking forward to getting a little bit of my life back.

I was pretty quiet and introspective today. I was being careful of the words I used and the things I said, trying my best not to let any negativity creep in, trying to be in the moment and savor each one as best I could. It led to my being quiet, as I carefully considered each thing I said.  All in all though, it was a good day - nice and productive.  I managed to get through a bunch of small errands and a stack of email that I had sitting in the living room.  That was a good feeling.

TR is traveling for work for the next couple of days, so our contact has been sporadic (her work, in terms of time, is more demanding than mine when she is on the job). I am missing her a bit, but happy that she is at the work she does best. I am looking forward to her return.

As I went softly and slowly through the day today I watched an excellent movie off the DVR - The Hunter, with Willen Dafoe.  Beautiful, poignant, and a perfect example of what a good little movie can be - simple but not simplistic, a pure piece of story telling.  I was personally very impressed with the movie and enjoyed it a lot.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chaos, Ascending

So, there we are at work, lined up for a go live in about two weeks on a fairly major project.  The check boxes are being checked off, the final pieces of the puzzle are being moved into place - and - as I expected, at the last possible minute there is a hard curve ball flying in from the pitchers mound.  In order to coordinate with another group who has a project hitting the same technical space our management decides to advance the project a week. Suddenly, the available time to get everything lined up disappears.  We have just a little under a week to get all the pieces into place.  Fortunately, it is possible.  Difficult, but possible. The plane, on final approach, starts to shake from turbulence and there is a strong and unexpected crosswind...and I, I...

Feel exuberant.  I saw it coming.  Not this particular bit of madness but something of this nature so I held a bit in reserve.  I made sure that our top speed was being measured with my hand on the reins so that when this pony needed that extra bit of get up and go, it was there. I let go of the reins and barring an unforeseen accident we will cross the finish line with all things in good order.  Still, I do get tired of the madness and the stress associated with the sudden change has made folks, well, a bit testy.

Our functional project manager, who is otherwise doing a good job, is bouncing off the walls due to his own stress levels.  This is his first major project for the Evil Corporation so I am sure he wants to do well and that has got him spinning in all kinds of circles.  Our trusty project engineer, whom I had my own clashes with earlier in this project, is feeling pinned against the wall. The functional project manager had the same conversation I had with him - about who is in charge. That there simply just reflects the eternal battle against bureaucracy.  He is a good guy, he is just a little too deep into the bureaucracy.

The next seven days or so are going to be highly chaotic as we try to slide across the finish line. I am going to try and stay tight, stay focused, and keep a good sense of humor. It is always a bit of a struggle, since the stress will be flowing freely in all directions.  Fortunately, I am confident that we are ready to go, even if we are going into Chaos, Ascending.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Thoughts On The New Work Area

I think it has been quite a while since I’ve written anything from work.  Today is already starting out to be a strange day. I came into the office early in order to attend a pair of meetings, only to discover that the meetings have been cancelled, which suddenly alters the shape of the day.  Rather than immediately leap into the next task, I thought I would take a few minutes here to savor a cup of coffee and write a little note.  I am sure I had something to say when I started to write, but it seems to have slipped my mind, so I am going to have to go all free association on you here!

We’ve settled into the new building here at work and while the work area is nice, it has a few drawbacks.  First, let me focus on the good things about the area – though the building itself is a piece of junk (typical of many of our older buildings), the area we are sitting in has been remodeled and is not bad.  There is some natural light from a bank of windows along the east side of the area and the cubicle furniture has been built in this century at least. We are just across the courtyard from the main building and the cafeteria, so that has been a nice little treat and has led to more healthy breakfasts, along with the occasional donut run, which probably cancels out the healthy breakfast.

There is a serious drawback in the new work area though.  Basically, we are really stacked in on top of each other and the cubicles have low walls which means that there is no privacy.  And when I saw no privacy, I mean zero.  The area is shaped like an L and we are on the short end of the L.  There are ten people who sit in this area and basically any conversation that is held in the area might as well be held in the same cube as you are, you can hear everything that clearly.  This has created some friction and will continue to create additional friction.  There is no easy solution to it.  I am pretty good at mentally tuning other people out and I suspect that, in time, most of the people will adjust to it, but I also anticipate a good blow up or two before we reach any sort of equilibrium.

However, on a personal level, I am considering the whole thing to be a net gain and I am enjoying the new area.  For me, on a personal level, the presence of natural light makes a huge difference.  I used to crash into a hard wall in the afternoon, after sitting all morning without natural light.  Since we’ve moved into the new area I have not run into that crash.

The old area was down right depressive and here, in the new area, I have yet to feel that sense of depression and frustration.  Now, part of that might have been an artifact of the old organizational structure as well – the curse of poor leadership, but we are through that dark phase of my career here at the Evil Company and we seem to be in a better place.  Our new leadership seems to be competent and I am hoping we’re able to work with them and put the structures in place to upgrade our operational capabilities.

Monday, July 7, 2014

There Are Moments...Robert Henri

"There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual - become clairvoyant. We reach then into reality. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom." -Robert Henri

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Trip to Mount Diablo

I took a nice little day trip today, sort of a first road-trip to break in the Jeep.  Don and I drove up to Danville for lunch at Santorini and then, from there, up to the summit of Mount Diablo.  It was a nice drive, a climb of about 3,500 feet from the valley floor to the summit.

This is the observatory at the top of the mountain.  It is pretty cool, if you are into these old stone type structures, which I happen to be.  The view from the summit is very beautiful, a wide and panoramic view of the entire Bay Area.  The picture below is just one direction...
From the summit, this view is looking north. The column of smoke you see in the distance is the current wild fire that is burning in Napa Valley - a long, long way away. It is an amazing site to see.  After the trip to the summit, we headed back to San Jose and I got home in time to enjoy a simple dinner and ease into the evening, relaxing as deeply as I can.  My plan tonight is to curl up and read myself to sleep again.
I am currently reading this book, which is pretty entertaining...I'd recommend it.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Deliver Us From Evil

It was very nice to have the day off. I tried my best not to let the monkey mind get too firm a grasp on me, though I had an "oh my god what a horrible industrial design" moment at the AMC Mercado in Santa Clara, in regards to their snack bar lay out. 

But, I recovered after watching a fairly good movie - Eric Bana and Olivia Munn in "Deliver Us From Evil" - an exorcism movie about a NYPD detective that was fairly well done for the genre and had half a dozen jump moments, plus rock solid performances by the cast. I'd recommend it if you're into that type of movie. 

I followed the movie with a stop at Fry's to look at a new computer, the next major purchase I have on my list.  I want to go to an ultra-light with 3.0 USB connections. I was considering a Mac Air for a while, but a lot of the new ultra-light laptops are just as good, as far and weight and durability, so why mess with a new OS. 

After spinning through Fry's I dropped Tony off to pick up his car, then grabbed some lunch and stopped at a sporting good store and picked up a pair of very light hikers. Then, a quiet and easy afternoon at home, watching the DVR. 

I watched "The Counselor" and now I am on the third episode of "Band of Brothers".  I think I am going to watch the episode and do some assorted inner errands here at the house before I call it a night.  TR and her family are out at a concert and sound like they are having a great time.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Like Dew...

Like dew that vanishes,
Like a phantom that disappears,
Or the light cast by a flash of lightning-
So should one think of oneself.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Trauma Kit

I am a person who is prepared.  I thought I would share with you the contents of the trauma kit I carry in my car, under the passenger side street.  The kit is designed to deal with two life threatening wounds simultaneously. It was assembled after a dream where I was trying to care for multiple gunshot wound victims. I am a firm believer in the importance of being prepared - even if you go through your entire life and nothing happens - you should be prepared.

The bag is a blue Eagle Creek mesh packing bag, double sided. It was purchased for size, shape, and durability.  One side is packed for severe trauma.  The other side is packed for routine first aid instances.
So, what have we got here:
-Top left, two large 16 square inch trauma sponges, designed to treat severe blood loss, as in a torso GSW.
-Bottom left, three Israeli combat trauma bandages, intended to stop bleeding from GSW's.  Their wrap around, cinching design means they can also double as tourniquets if necessary.
-Upper left center, two HALO chest wound packs, designed for treatment of a penetrating wound to the lung.
-Bottom left center, six 4x4 sterile gauze sponges.

-Top center right, in succession:  1 roll of athletic tape. 1 roll of duct tape. 1 Buck Knife. 2 triangular bandages. 2 packs of nitrile gloves. I CPR kit (includes airway and protective shield). 1 small container of Vaseline.*

-Bottom, center, right: 1 small container of Vaseline.* 1 EMT pack (1 pair of high tensile shears, 1 medium EMT scissors, 1 small sharp pointed scissors, 1 large hemostat, 1 small hemostat, 1 pen light)

-Bottom right:  2 sterile 4" gauze rolls.

-Johnson & Johnson Travel Safe First Aid Kit (with a few additions, mainly in OTC medications to cover a wide variety of temporary conditions - Ibuprofen, Advil, Bufferin, Benadryl, Electrolyte Replacements, Imodium AD, Alka-Seltzer, a few more durable bandages, a pack of butterfly enclosures and two sterile scalpel blades.)

-Top upper right: Two 1 gallon Zip-lock bags** and two Cureaid anti-viral facemasks.

*Vaseline is a very efficient tool for stopping small bleeding wounds, especial to the face and scalp. Professional fighters use it all the time.

**A simple zip lock bag is a great first aid tool.  It has multiple uses.  First, it can be used to deal with a sucking chest wound (a poor man's HALO), second, in a pinch it can be used as an improvised glove (mitten) to handle things (bleeding wounds, vomitus, fluids) in an emergency, and finally - get the gallon size because it can be used as improvised eye and face protection in the event of spurting wounds. It looks goofy but simply pull it over your head, down over your face, nose and mouth. Leave the bottom open and there is no danger of asphyxiation (try it yourself to make sure you're comfortable with it.)

Today, I Battled Mara

Today I fought Mara.

It was a chaotic day, from the beginning until now.  Let me just run through it quickly.

1. I started the day with a 7:00 AM meeting.  It probably took the meeting presenter twenty or thirty minutes to get the technology to work correctly - and then had to rush through the remaining thirty minutes.

2. I had an appointment for a contractor to come out and do some work in the 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
window, so I stayed home. Then, the contractor was late - I was just leaving when they arrived, but that through off my schedule for the rest of the day.

3. In order to facilitate the contractors work I moved my car out of the garage onto the surface street.  (This one sounds simple enough, but it is coming back a bit later...)

4. I accepted a software update for my personal iPhone.  It failed.  And wiped out my phone which compelled me to have it recovered and restored, a slow and laborious process.  Fortunately, I had a good and recent back-up.

5. At work we log out test case results in a piece of software called Quality Center.  Quality Center would not work for me today.  It showed that the test run window was open - but it wasn't.  I spent an hour on the phone with technical support and they could not figure it out.

6. Lunch was good - three minute eggs and western cheddar sausages.  All protein.

7. My afternoon meetings moved pretty smoothly and I managed to get a few tickets advanced.

8. As I was sitting there I heard the sound of the street sweeper passing outside. I slipped on a pair and shoes and...yep...parking ticket for not clearing the car off the street on sweeper day.  Fifty dollars.

So, here I am, waiting for the end of the day - relaxed and amused at the battle with Mara that consumed most of the day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Simply Avoid Writing About Work

I am still trapped in this place where I am spending too much time writing about work.  I am trying to break out of the habit, but I seem to be struggling with it.  I think it is because, at the end of the day, writing about work is easy and superficial.  It effectively prevents me from writing about the deeper things that are happening in my life.  I think I am going to have to meditate on that for a while.  And, perhaps, simply avoid writing about work.

I Try To Be Present

I made the decision this morning to try and be present, as authentically present, as I could, given that I anticipated a chaotic day at work. I wasn't perfect, I wasn't anywhere close to perfect, but I did well enough. There was a part of it that definitely amused me. 

Shortly after I had made the decision to try and be present through the day, to try and move softly and deliberately. the electricians showed up.  Two of them.  Then, all around me they climbed up on their ladder, with their drills and tools, and adjusted the lightning.  Loudly.

Still, in spite of  the interruption, I was able to stay present through most of the day - or at least aware of the times when I was venturing off center.  I think I am going to try and repeat the exercise tomorrow and see how it helps me move through the day.