Monday, September 11, 2017

Due to the stress levels this year my ability to focus has taken a big hit.  I see it in a variety of places and at a variety of times.

I usually sleep well, but when I wake, I wake to a racing mind. It's not racing toward any destination. It's just racing.  Often it's filled with throwaway thoughts. It takes me a while to get it under control. Sometimes it will settle of its own accord. Other times I will have to deliberately pull it in with meditation.

When I start work there are times when just the act of starting work is very difficult.  There are other times when I am able to start okay.  Sometimes I can get fairly deeply into the day before I get derailed.

It doesn't take much to derail me.  Something unexpected.  Something trivial.  Something irritating.  Whatever focus and motivation I had just goes away and I find myself caught in a mind-loop that won't let go.  The monkey has his hand in the jar and is not going to let go, even though he is trapped.

I can see it in the evening, at the end of the day, when I just want to stare blankly at the wall.  Once I stop for the day that is it, I'm done.  Consequently I am losing a good section of time where I am most personally productive - the evenings.

Another place I can see it is writing.  I have been having a hard time writing with any sort of attention to detail. It is far to easy to let myself be distracted and then nothing.

I know that part of it is the mind/body healing from the high levels of stress.  I know that eventually I will make it through and return to a time where focus comes more naturally, more easily.  In the interim though it is irritating me.

So, let me just finish this up and post it.  Then we will see if I can focus back and pull myself out of  my focus-free mind.  Let go monkey! Let go!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Days Have Passed

I just noticed that it has been a while since I have written.  All things considered that is understandable.  The days have passed - they have been busy with the post-death activities and trying to catch up with work activities.

I pretty much spent the last weekend in a semi-coma, catching up on sleep and being generally exhausted.  This week (as far as Tuesday has gotten) has been pretty ordinary and in general things will swing back toward an ordinary rhythm in the coming weeks.  I am scattered and behind at work, so there is a lot of catch-up to do there.  There's also a lot of incidental bureaucratic BS that I have to plow through in the working environment and sometimes I am having trouble staying focused.

I think that I should be in better shape at the end of the week.  I am not sure if I'll get caught up on things at work, but I keep plowing ahead there.  So, this turned into a short entry, but that's okay.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


I'm physically and emotionally exhausted right now.  Fortunately, I've got a three day weekend ahead of me, so I am looking forward to some serious recovery time.  I need to just get off the grid and sleep, eat, stare at the wall, listen to music, and wander in the forest for a while. I need several nights of good sleep and the opportunity to pivot back to my normal sleep schedule, which has been wholly disrupted the last months/weeks as we went through the dying process with my friend.

Anyone who has been through that process knows how exhausting it can be, between the emotional and physical requirements, it is one tough road.  The road is done though. In the aftermath of such events you're glad that your friend is no longer suffering. There is a sense of relief - relief in that their suffering is over and relief that the particular journey, for everyone involved is over.

Mainly, I just need to curl up and sleep, so I am heading off work to do that in exactly eighteen minutes.  (LOL even in a state of exhaustion I am still borderline OCD and need to stop work at the top or bottom of the hour.)

I've been avoiding work meetings today and avoiding commenting when I am in those meetings because I know that the filter between what I am thinking and what I will say is, at this point, badly damaged. I did manage to get some work done, but I have fallen behind on other projects, so there is a lot of stuff that has been simply stacking up. 

I also know, from prior experience, that when I am in this state of exhaustion I am prone to react disproportionately to things.  Things that would normally roll off my back - won't.  Things that would normally not bother me - do. It's kind of a dangerous place to be.

Over the years I have seen the damage that families can do to each other as they go through the dying and grieving process, so I have been sensitive to that.  There is still some damage being done in his family, but that is a burden I can't bear for them.  Once the dust settles I can counsel them toward forgiveness and reconciliation, but that is about all I can do.  I'm sure I will write more about it in the coming days, because wherever you go through this process there are always lessons learned - both general lessons on dying and specific lessons on the things that are done or undone that could have been handled better.

Meanwhile through, the foggy tendrils of exhaustion are firmly rooted in my brain. So, I will get some sleep, and then when I wake up I think I am going to order a pizza.  My end of the work-week ritual is usually pizza and a movie off TV or the DVR, so as part of getting back to normal, that's my plan tonight, after my nap.  That is assuming that my nap doesn't turn into "to heck with it, I'm going to sleep for sixteen hours straight."  There is about a 50/50 shot of that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

On Life, On Death

On Sunday my friend Bob passed away after a two and a half year battle with cancer.  He died at home, with his daughter, myself and my nephew present.  He passed away quickly and died in his sleep, resting peacefully.  As such, it was a good death.  I am heartbroken and will miss him dearly.  He was among the first of my California friends when I moved here thirty plus years ago and I've known his daughter all her life, from the time she was an infant in arms.  He is survived by his daughter and his grandson.

My mind is a swirl of things, which is normal after someone I love has passed away. I am sure they'll start to sort themselves out.  Since he was released into hospice about ten days ago it has been a flurry of activity as we rotated sitting with him, taking care of him, and just being there for him.  They were long days with little sleep.  Last night was the first truly good night's sleep I've gotten for quite a while and the first day I feel more like myself. 

There are other things going on in life right now, but they are all minor compared to Bob's dying and death.  Soon enough I will settle back into the normal flow of life. Soon enough.  Meanwhile, my dear friend has pierced the veil and now knows the great mystery.  I am sure he is embracing it fully. Here, behind him, life will simply go on.  That is what life does.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Brown Dirt and Tons of Stuff


It has been a busy week.

We've been cleaning over at Bob's house for the last two days.  We have made a lot of headway. I imagine the house hasn't been thoroughly cleaned for several years at least.  At one point I found a box of mail from 2003, so it probably wasn't thoroughly cleaned since then.  We've got enough junk to fill a 20 yard dumpster, which we're going to order today.

In the last two days we've hit the major junk filed areas - the atrium, the kitchen/dining room, and the living room.  Stripped them all the way down, threw out a ton of stuff, mopped some very brown floors, cleaned some furniture.  Today's plan is to finish up the kitchen and start working down the hall toward the bedrooms.

Meanwhile, in the work environment I've got a project that I am going to have to delay again - we just can't get it to work, it's one step forward and one step back.  Every time we get something resolved, we run into another problem, like peeling back the layers of the onion.  So, as I go through the day cleaning at Bob's, I am going to be cutting back and forth to work to see if I can kick this project into higher gear.

One of the frustrating things about the project is, due to the way the bureaucracies of both companies work, it has been virtually impossible to get all the players on the phone at the same time.  Really, I suspect we could resolve it if we could just get everyone to sit together on the phone and go through it step by step in real-time, but everyone is so overwhelmed with other work project we just can't seem to make that happen.

I'm pretty badly frustrated about it and it's causing me a lot of stress, which is layering on top of the other stress, so I am cranked pretty high right now.  But, I know the secret to getting through it is to just keep the head down and work through it, as painful as it is.  One of my frustrations is that some of the resources (people) involved seem to bump into a problem and then just stop and wander off and do something else.  I always hate slamming people at work, but I am reaching for the big hammer.

Meanwhile, I just keep reminding myself to breathe.  Simply breathe.  Head down, keep moving forward.

Outside of that, things really aren't going to bad.  It has been nice doing to physical labor over at Bob's place, so that has been enjoyable, though I swear I've inhaled a ton of dust bunnies and spider-webs.  I've got a quick work related meeting shortly, then I am going to go over and dive back into the work at Bob's.  I'll take my work computer with me so I can see if I can kick the project forward at the same time.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Just Throw It Away. Just Walk Away From It.

It's been a fairly decent Monday here.  It's about the normal level of work chaos for a Monday. There are a lot of meetings stacked up on a single day so it really means that I am lucky if I get an hour or two of clean work.  I already spent one of those hours this morning and I should be able to spend another this afternoon after I wrap up the meeting I am listening to right now.  It is one of those box checking meetings that large corporations have to have.  I'm not a fan of them but I understand their necessity in a complex work environment.  My primary objection is a lot of times they are not functionally necessary.  This one may be marginally necessary, at best.

I've taken three days off this week, Wednesday through Friday, to help Brandy do some cleaning over at Bob's.  As usual, the two of them are out of sync, but not to badly. Brandy wants to get a dumpster and through a lot of stuff away and Bob is balking.  So. we've settled on kind of a hybrid solution - we'll clean, bag and stack in the side yard and then make the decision on whether to rent a dumpster from there.  My only question is around the size of the dumpster - ten yard or twenty yard.  I'm not sure they have that much "stuff" to justify a twenty-yard dumpster.  It might be a ten yard or it might be a couple of pick-up trucks worth.  If it was up to me, I'd be ruthless - but it is really easy to be ruthless with other people's stuff.

I think they'll end up in a better place once the get the full sweep of the cleaning done - just visually and aesthetically they'll notice a big improvement.  I know I have in the times when I've ruthlessly purged my own stuff.  I went through a mini-purge a while ago and ended up keeping some stuff, but, as usual, after a couple of weeks I realized that I didn't need it - that I should have thrown all of it away.  Just close your eyes, throw it away, and realize that most of our junk is pure sunk cost.  Money we spent at one point that we'll never get back.  Just throw it away. Just walk away from it.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cool Morning and Steady Work

We had a bit of heat yesterday with the temps up in the mid-nineties.  It was the first true sweep of summer heat and I actually enjoyed it after that long wet winter.  This morning is very pleasant and very cool and the day should be ten degrees cooler than yesterday, into the low eighties, with further cooling tomorrow.

Work is fairly quiet this morning so I think I should have a productive day in that environment.  I started the morning with a long presentation of new functionality from one of the vendors (I'm listening to the teleconference as I type - I am familiar with the new functionality, the briefing is more for our customer set and our new management.)

I am looking forward to the weekend.  I've got lunch planned with my friend Ty on Saturday.  We haven't got together in quite a while, so I am looking forward to the conversation.  We're planning to meet at Olive Garden about halfway between our locations.

Other than anticipation of the weekend there really isn't much going on today, just a day of steady work.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Let's Start The Day

I've got about 15 minutes before I'm going to officially start the work day. It's going to be a challenging morning. I've got a pair of meetings that have the potential to turn confrontational, but I suspect they'll go smooth enough, especially since I'm the only one that knows what is going on. In short I should be able to deflect or defer any serious criticism.

I had a sleepless night. I went to bed about 9:30 PM and then tossed and turned for a while before I dropped off. I woke about 3:00 AM, then tossed and turned for a while before I got up. I've deliberately tried to keep the morning low key and simple in anticipation of the stress that's going to unfold over the course of the next couple of hours.

First thing I'm going to do when I start the working day is spend an hour and a half methodically going the the elements of a process I have to brief on at 8:00 AM. The briefing is scheduled for an hour but I'm not sure it's going to take that long.

Immediately on the heels of that meeting I have what we call the "tools" meeting, where I've got to brief on two overdue projects that have been hampered by constant fire fighting. That should go okay because basically we're almost there and I have a small window left to close on the items.

So, that's the day that lies ahead of me. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tuesday is Quasi-Tranquil

It was a busy weekend, mostly with personal items, but otherwise pretty nice.  I had a bit of epic sleep on Sunday.  I got home from running assorted errands about four PM and laid down to take a nap.  I slept for an hour, woke up on the alarm clock, reset it and slept for another hour, then simply gave up with the whole napping concept and just went to sleep.  I slept until about midnight and then woke for an hour, watched the first episode of "American Gods", and then fell back to sleep for four hours.  Once again, I certainly needed that sleep!

Monday was a bit of blur with the usual work related chaos, but today has been smoother. In the rhythm of work, for whatever reason, I am also light on meetings on a Tuesday, so I actually get a chance to get things done.  The morning has been productive and the afternoon should be as well.

We're heading into the high 80's here in this part of California, so that should be nice, especially after the long wet winter.  We definitely broke out of the drought this year and everything is pretty amazing and pretty green.  Which of course plays heck with the allergies, but that is okay.  I enjoy the green and I enjoy the bird-tribe that congregates on my patio.  They are endlessly entertaining.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Adventures of a Human Being

Quite frankly, today I am exhausted, frustrated and overwhelmed, mainly in the working world.  Back in the late January and early February time frame we had two senior level project managers quit on short notice (both because of the exhausting and frustrating work load).  As a result of that my organization absorbed their work load with the promise of additional resources to replace the lost people.  Well, fast forward to the end of April and there are still no replacement personnel yet.  So, essentially two of us absorbed the work of two other people with no reduction in our already existing workloads.

Then, when you layer into it that, as an overall organization (the project teams, technical teams, and customer teams) we seem to be stuck in permanent fire-fighting mode, it's just exhausting.  You can hear the exhaustion and frustration in people's voices on teleconferences and you can see it in the tone of a variety of communications. 

Now, I've been through times like this before and I know that the trick to getting through them is to just keep your head down and keep swimming.  But, lately it has been difficult swimming. I need to roll over on my back and float for a while. I've got a couple of days of vacation coming up around the 10th, so that should provide some relief. But today, it's exhaustion and frustration.  I'm going to meet with my manager a bit later in the day and vent.  I know she's trying to get those extra resources (she's as exhausted and frustrated as everyone else is) but I guess I just need to vent.

So, let me pivot away from the work environment.  (It's always amusing to me how just writing down your frustrations. Those three paragraphs have helped release some of the stress, just that small period of time floating on my back.)

I've really got nothing to complain about in my personal life.  It has been going well enough. The heavy workload has squeezed some of my personal life out, but I am still getting some good personal enjoyment time - some good reading, some good movies, some good conversations and socialization. I'm even getting ample time to write. So, in that aspect, my personal life as a human being is going pretty good, it's just the work frustration that has a pretty firm grip on me.

Today is Friday however, so I have the weekend ahead of me and I am looking forward to that.  I am going to drive up to Fremont on Saturday and have lunch with my friend Ty, who I haven't seen in a couple of months.  I am looking forward to that.  I also want to spend some time minimizing (i.e. throwing crap away) in my apartment.  Strange, but there always seems to be "more stuff". It's like I have a teleporter in the closet that mysteriously makes stuff appear.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Need Blood Flow To Brain

I had a pretty productive morning and then I slammed into the wall here at work.  I am torn right now between the need to refocus and the need to just give up and take a nap!  I thought I would pivot over here and write for a bit hoping it increases the blood flow to my brain. 

I think it's wrapped in the nature of what I do that it's equal parts rewarding and frustrating.  When the frustrating part starts to win that is when I slip into a fugue state where I am working, but I don't feel like I am making any progress.  It feels like I'm moving but not going anywhere.  That is the spot I find myself in right now, so I am hoping thinking about something other than work will kick-start the brain and let me steal a productive afternoon back.

I just noticed that it has been almost a week since I've written out here so I thought I would play a little bit of catch-up.  I had a good weekend all in all.  I only did a little bit of work on Friday morning, mostly watching email, before I slipped into the three day weekend.

Three high points pop out at me as I'm sitting here and looking backward.  I spent about two and a half hours on the phone with my friend James in Oregon on Saturday night.  That was a good conversation and long overdue. We talked about dang near everything, LOL, but mostly around our shared love of fantasy and science fiction in all it's various pop culture forms.

Earlier on Saturday I went out and saw "The Lost City of Z".  That was an excellent movie.  It was fairly long, but you didn't really know it.  It starred Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattison and it's based on the true story of based on the life and disappearance of the English explorer Percy Fawcett.  He was exploring the Amazon and attempting to find a lost city.  He didn't - or if he did he died before he could come back and report it.  I had read the book and enjoyed it, so I was primed for the movie when it came out and the film definitely lived up to my expectations.

Then, on Sunday, I saw "Split", the James McAvoy and M. Night Shyamalan film.  I got to say, definitely a recommended movie.  A worthy addition to both men's filmography.  I won't tell you too much about the film because I think with Shyamalan's films you have to see them to appreciate them or understand them and all the discussions about them often set your expectations off.  However, in this one, he delivers and I absolutely loved the ending scenes!  I am all in for the sequel.

Monday and Tuesday it was a pair of very full days.  I worked and, well, work was work.  Then in the evenings I went over to my friend Bob's house.  On Monday I was there awaiting the delivery of a power chair I had ordered for him - which didn't show up, so he and I sat around and watched a pair of older movies.  The chair finally arrived on Tuesday, so I popped back over to help him set it up, but they had already managed to get it squared away by the time I got there.  I am told that assembly was pretty straight-forward.  So, I spent most of the evening visiting with him anyway, then headed home.

Tonight, I am planning on no going anywhere.  I am due for a quiet night at home and that is the plan for the night.  Well, this helped and I feel like I've got the blood flowing back through my brain, so I am going to take a short walk and then pivot back to the work computer and dive into the 50+ email I've got waiting for me there.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

And Then It Was Thursday

The week has been moving by at a rapid clip.  Work was a wee bit busy - we were down to about fifty percent of our staff capacity (conferences, vacation, leave) so my email exploded all over my desktop and I am still trying to accomplish things and dig out from underneath it.  Nothing critical, just a high volume of stuff.  Stuff makes the working world go around.

I'm coming up on my regular three day weekend and at this point I am planning on taking all three days as clean days off just because I need them. All the critical stuff will wait until Monday because, and here is one of the vast secrets of the corporate world - most things that get called critical aren't. Most dates are imaginary and pulled semi-randomly from the calendar "just because". I try not to let them get to me and just keep working steadily.  We do what we can do with what we have.

On the personal side on Monday I took my friend Bob (cancer) to an MRI appointment and then I was poised to pick him up from chemo last night, but they ended up admitting him for a few days due to internal bleeding.  I spoke with him in the hospital and he seemed to be in decent spirits, all things considered.  I ordered him a power chair a little earlier in the week and it should arrive Monday and he's finally agreed with the idea that he needs a good wheelchair (he has an old crappy one that he's been using but you spend half the time fighting the wheelchair) and a good rolling walker.  Fingers are always crossed there.

Other than that, due to the volume of work I haven't done much on the personal side this week.  Mostly I've just been focused on work and the other obligations of life.  It seems that I used to have more free time, but reading back through my blog, that wasn't the case. I've been complaining about time for years.  Maybe it is just something I do.

Right now, I am going out and getting some lunch here as soon as this teleconference I am wraps up. I'm kind of hungry and I seem to have recovered from the french fry issue earlier in the week, though, like anytime you get a spot of bad food it takes a couple of days to recover from it, so I ate lightly and blandly over the last couple of days.  On that note, I hope your day is going well.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Don't Eat The French Fries

Here is the first thing on my mind. (Warning, Semi-Graphic Content)

Don't eat the french fries!  So, it was a pretty productive morning at work.  I got up, got online, ran through my email, handled a few small things, and then put together my to-do list for the day.  Weaved in and out of a couple of meetings, then stopped for lunch.  Ran out to a local burger joint and got a cheeseburger and some fries.  Came home.  Ate the above.  This wonderful thing that is my body said "nope, uh uh, don't like that" and violently expelled what I assume were bad french fries - probably bad oil at the burger joint.  Ending up taking two hours to lay down and let my stomach settle down, but I am feeling better and back at work now - yet the warning remains - "Don't Eat The French Fries"!

Other than that wonderful experience it was a fairly good weekend.  It was cool, blustery, and rainy here for the Easter holiday, but that was fine.  I managed to relax and enjoy the weekend.  My nephew Tom is staying over at a friends place for the last couple of days (and hopefully a couple of more days after that) so I've had the apartment to myself.  It has been nice.  I've missed my solitude since he moved in so I have been enjoying it while he has been temporarily out of the place.

On Saturday I went out and saw "Ghost In The Shell" starring Scarlet Johansson. Now, the movie has been critically panned and bombed at the box office but, I have to say, it was pretty good and pretty faithful to the source material.  There was a lot of criticism around it for white-washing (casting a white actor as a Japanese character) but that never really effects me simply because as far as I am concerned it's fiction - cast whoever you want in whatever role you want, just make a good movie.

I am a fan of the original graphic novel and I will say the movie is very faithful, both visually and thematically, to the look and feel of the graphic novel.  In discussion with my friend Don after the movie we both agreed that there was one large problem with the film -thematically, the story it is telling (what does it mean to be human) is twenty plus years old and has been told and retold in many other novels and films, so there was nothing new or thought provoking there.  I wouldn't rush out to see it, though it was spectacular in 3D, but I would catch it when it comes out on cable or on-demand.

Now, time to pivot back to work and see if I can knock a few of the other things off my list and make some headway against my email backlog.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Was Full

Well, Friday was a full day, so it was enjoyable in that respect.  I got a good night sleep and had an interesting dream about a long lost love.  Morning was soft and rainy with a gentle start.  A cup of coffee, a bowl of oatmeal, and then I logged onto work for a couple of hours - really long enough to process incoming email, answer some questions, check a couple of things, and then it was off to the office. 

I actually physically went into the office today for a laptop replacement.  We replace out laptops on a two year schedule, so now I am into a new HP Ultrabook with Windows 10.  That took about two hours, but it went smoothly.  The part I am most excited about there is it has Cortana and Dragon Naturally Speaking - whoo hoo - I have been wanting to get Dragon on my work PC for a long time but previously it was not available for our work computers.  I am looking forward to see if it impacts my productivity. 

After the laptop replace I swung by the office and cleaned out my old office.  Though I work entirely virtually now for the last year and a half or so, I still kept an office space for those rare times when I had to physically go into the office.  They've moving my work-group to another building so I've let go of my space.  I didn't have anything of value left there so most of it either ended up in the shred bin or in the trash can.  I brought a few small personal items back home with me. 

After cleaning my office I met Don for lunch at Black Angus in Milpitas where I had the prime rib, crispy shrimp, a baked potato and a wedge salad.  It was a fairly excellent lunch and a good conversation with Don.  From there I came home and found a surprise gift from work.  Our VP sent out a note telling everyone to go home at 2:00 PM local time to get a jump on the Easter weekend.  I liked that - it has been a long time since we had leadership that actually cared about the human aspect of work - so I took that as a very good sign. 

I took a brief nap, then back up for dinner, which was pizza and tasty.  From there, I wandered into the evening with incidental tasks around the house and the DVR. In short it has been a good start to the Easter weekend.  I am about to wrap it up and curl up with a book and read myself to sleep, so whoever you are and wherever you are I hope you're having a good night/day.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday Wrinkles

I'm sitting here at my computer killing a bit of time before I officially call it an end to the day.  It was a busy one, but not too bad all in all.  I was productive, just not as productive as I would like to be, but I would still consider it a fairly good workday.  Things are moving, slowly and steadily, forward.  Not as fast as everyone would like but that is often the case.

One piece of feedback I continually give to my upper management is that they are responsible for assigning resources to projects, I just work with what I am given. If they expect a certain result, then they need to make sure they make it explicit and provide the proper resources, otherwise they are kind of floating out there based on my decisions and evaluations of what is necessary and what is unnecessary and I tend to be pretty ruthless about throwing things into the unnecessary bucket as far as work is concerned. 

A high percentage of our resources are consumed creating bureaucratic artifacts that are only done because someone, somewhere, thought it had to be done.  It is a waste of resources if it is not a business necessity that either is required by law or regulation or provides value add to the product for the customer.  Where at all possible that kind of BS short be ruthlessly driven from your systems and processes.

Outside of the working world I've had a pleasant enough day as well.  My nephew (who lives with me) is out with friends so I have had sweet and blessed privacy through the day.  He's usually not underfoot, but he is omnipresent.  It is good to have him out of my space for a while at least.  Simple privacy holds a high value to me.  I am not even doing anything that requires privacy - I just enjoy my own company and peace and solitude.

I am kind of hanging out waiting for a call from my friend Bob.  He has chemo today and asked me to give him a ride home after the treatment, since they won't let him take a cab.  I told him sure thing and now I am just waiting for that phone call, which should come in around 5:30 PM or so.  Since it is 4:30 PM now, I might run out and get a bite to eat while I am waiting for that phone call.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Quick Quick

Just a quick note as I wrap up the evening here. A basically good day with some ordinary frustrations but also some ordinary successes. In short an ordinary day. Had a good conversation with TR tonight, which was proceeded by tamales from Gloria's. I'm looking forward to curling up and calling it a night with a good book to lull me into sleep.

The picture is an image my brother sent me of a cliff dwelling somewhere in Navajo country. Pretty awesome if you ask me. (My brothers a park ranger for the Apache tribe down there and works protecting heritage sites like this.)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Three Days In Spring

It's Sunday evening about 6:30 PM. I thought I'd take a couple of moments and write. It was a pretty good weekend all in all.

Friday was technically my day off but I spent three or four hours working some problems at work. After I wrapped that up – neither one was actually resolved they were just moved forward - I went out and met Don for lunch at Outback. I had the Alice Springs Chicken, one of my favorites. We then went over to the Café Society for coffee and conversation and mostly talked about stem cell therapy. Afterwards I wondered home and spent a mostly quiet evening reading and writing.

I fell asleep late on Friday night and woke up early on Saturday morning – about 4:30 AM. It was a pretty clean wake up so I just got up and read my way through a quiet morning. About 8 o'clock I went out and picked up Bob and we went over to the Hickory Pit for breakfast. Bob was moving a little slow but he was otherwise in a good mood. After breakfast I ran a couple of small errands and then circled home.

I spent the afternoon cleaning, reading and binge watching the Americans. I'm all caught up now. That's a great show, the acting is outstanding and the stories are good. Keri Russell is quite wonderful in it. Since I watched five episodes and that pretty much took me through the entire day. I had a good conversation with TR and managed to fight off sleep until about 9:00 PM, when I zonked out.

Sunday I slept in until about 7:30 AM, then got up, scurried around a bit, and went to Palm Sunday mass. After that I met Tyrone for breakfast, then swing by Bob's to visit. Had a good visit with Bob. He was having trouble with his equilibrium. We spent about two hours in conversation on a beautiful day.

Then home again, another spot of cleaning, and then I went out to do a couple loads of laundry, including the linens and light jackets. There were a lot people at the laundromat so the people watching was good. I got home and I've spent the evening watching "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" with Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton and Famke Jensen. It's an entertaining movie and it's easy on the eyes. It's a good way to end the weekend.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Here I An Still

So, tonight after work I turned off the TV, set a time, and dedicated an hour to reading.  I finished up a poetry book by Mary Oliver (who I always get confused with Jane Olivor) and then read a couple of pages in Josemaria Escriva's book "The Way".  For those who aren't familiar with him he was the founder of the Catholic Order of Opus Dei.  Both reads really helped me find the still point of the night. 

Today was a "come to Jesus" meeting at work, which was part of my stress load.  In our last block release I had two projects that I delayed because they were not ready for release. In my imagination I conjured a lot of sturm und drang for the meeting.  In fact though, it went very smoothly. I explained why I delayed the projects, the reasons for the delay, and the response from leadership was "okay, that makes sense".  I've got a good imagination and sometimes it gets away from me imagining negative scenarios. It is a trait I am aware of and that I try to counter with limited measures of success.

So, now that we are through the block release we just have to close on these two projects and then we can pivot over to the July block release.  I am sitting much better for the July block as the lead time is wider.  The last release had a very tight lead time - we know better, but periodically we can't avoid it and we suffer because of it.  Hopefully, there will be less suffering in this next block release.  Though, if you go back through this blog and read entries from years ago you'll find very similar entries.  It is a function of being a project management that you're always locked in battle with the inherent conflicts between resources and schedule.

Other than that, it was a nice day.  We've got a bit of rain coming in, but the afternoon was very pleasant, the bird tribe was very entertaining, and the day had it's bright spots.  Tonight is the latest episode of "The Expanse" so I am looking forward to watching it on DVR tomorrow.  I will probably save it for tomorrow night and then do my usual routine, which is to order pizza and enjoy the show.  Also, exciting of exciting - Archer comes back!  In you are not an Archer fan, or if you've never seen the show before, it comes with a high recommendation from me

On that note, I am going to wrap it up and call it a night.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Discordant Sunday

The day started normally. I went to breakfast with Bob and Tyrone. Breakfast was good. I had a Santa Fe omelette. Then, we walked out and Tyrone noticed a nail in the sidewall of my right front tire. That derailed any plans I had for the day.

So I popped over to Goodyear and got a new set of tires (the old ones were warn). That took about two hours. While they worked on it I walked over to Santana Row where I sat at Starbucks and people watched waiting for Don to join me for lunch. I have to say there are some pretty people that frequent Santana Row on a Spring Sunday.

Don met me for lunch at Rosie McCann's, where I had bangers and mash, which was pretty tasty. We had a good conversation and then I walked back to Goodyear to pick the Jeep up. I'm now in a good set of tires with an 80,000 mile warranty, road hazard, and pre-paid rotation and alignment. A bit pricey, but I'm happy with it.

I wandered home from there and tried to take a nap, but the incidental sounds of an afternoon kept me from dropping very deeply into sleep. I got back up about 4:00 PM and made a couple of sandwiches for dinner. Then I idled away the time watching some ancestry show with the actress Courtney Cox. It was interesting.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do tonight - I have some work I could do but I'm not really in the mood. On the other hand I've got a fairly good shot of energy, so I might actually accomplish something. Like...being really lazy! Just kidding - I may bag up some things to through away and I may log on to read email and send some meeting notices. Or I might not.

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Good Saturday

It's been a good Saturday. Work wise I pulled 2.5 million rows of data to be moved into another system. It'll probably take us all week to get it into the other system, but it will be there soon enough. It's a project step I've needed to take for a while, but I just haven't been able to get there, so I'm feel pretty good about the major step. A day late and a dollar short, but well done anyway.

I had breakfast with Bob and then headed out for a drive through Los Gatos and Saratoga. It was a pleasant excursion and Bob was feeling pretty good. We checked out both Lexington and Stevens Creek reservoirs. Both of them looked pretty cool filled with water and surrounded by greenery. There were a lot of other folks out doing the exact same thing.

I got home and spent my time working and catching up on the DVR, a handful of sitcoms and then "Romancing the Stone" with Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. I consider it a classic, though I'm not sure it really qualifies. It's still an enjoyable movie though.

I had a nice conversation with TR tonight about a wide variety of subjects and with plenty of laughter, so that was very enjoyable. I'm settling into the tail end of the night now, watching the clock tick off the final hours of the evening.

I finished up reading Neil Gaiman's collection of Norse tales. It was enjoyable but I'm afraid I can't highly recommend it. It's really just a collection of Norse tales. I would have liked it more if he'd dramatized it and told more character driven tales. Still, a solid 8 out of 10 as far as Norse collections go.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Expanse

An easy evening so I'm relaxing and watching the latest episode of The Expanse. I've read the books and I'm enjoying the series immensely.

Work was pretty straight forward today. I've managed to knock a couple of things off the list this week and I'm hoping to hammer a couple of more off tomorrow. I've got two projects that are going to go partially live or live with problems and I'm just going to have to ride the tide there. I should get much closer and have a much clearer picture tomorrow, especially if I get the quiet day I'm hoping for.

Other than that I'm doing okay. On the personal level not much going on. The high level of work has kept my personal adventures or misadventures to a minimum. The weather has been beautiful as Spring unfolds around me. I've been loving the return of the various denizens of the bird tribe. They're always entertaining out there on the patio.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Mania

I was primed to let go of a full-scale vent about midday today. Everything in the universe was under my skin. I actually took a break from work and sat down and started writing. Furiously writing. They weren't exactly pleasant things.

Writing them down and then releasing them helped. Finally breaking through a logjam at work helped. A bit of lunch helped. My stress was banging off the walls and every little thing was waiting to let go.

The currents are still running deep inside of me and I suspect I'm going to fight the same battle again tomorrow, though hopefully not as bad.

Tonight though I'm having a small snack and planning on curling up for a while before sleep with Neil Gaiman's retelling of Norse Mythology. I hate to say it, but so far I'm underwhelmed. I'm hoping it gets better. So far I'd have to rate it as a mediocre retelling. But I'm going to figuratively cross my fingers and keep reading.

Let's see - every day has a high point and, though I had to dig a bit to find it, there were definitely a few great moments. Two things popped immediately to my mind. I had a great conversation with TR tonight, which always helps to soothe my soul.

Then, at sometime mid-morning the mockingbird made his triumphant return. He was sitting in the fruit tree across the street running through his repertoire of bird songs and other urban sounds, which includes his imitation of a car alarm. Last year they nested around the corner. I'm thinking it would be pretty cool if they nested just across the street.

I also had a very pleasant hot bath a short while ago, which was very soothing and sandalwood scented. Then, writing this has helped soothe my soul a little, so as days go, though it had its horrible moments of stress, it was, at the end, a good day. And that's all I ask for at the end of the day. Here's hoping for sweet sleep and pleasant dreams.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday Slides By

Friday was my day off at work. It was a completely slack day. I slept close to a total of 12 hours Thursday night into Friday. After being up for a while and writing the last entry here on my blog I went back to sleep and slept another six hours, waking up at about 830 in the morning. I can't remember the last time I slept that much. I must've needed it.

I had three dreams, all of them traveling dreams, one of them a film noir train traveling dream with grand hotels in the middle of America. I think it was influenced by her film noir dream that TR had during the week and shared with me.

Today was a good day, Saturday that is, and it flowed relatively smooth and productively. I slept in a bit, waking up at about 7:30 AM, and then picked up Tyrone for breakfast. Bob wasn't feeling up for breakfast since he had chemo earlier in the week. After breakfast Tyrone and I went over to enterprise rental car and he pick the car up to last him for the coming week while his motorcycle is in the repair shop.

From there I ran a couple of small errands – stopped at the auto supply store and picked up some Rain-X, stopped at the drugstore and picked up some essentials, swing over to LensCrafters and order a new pair of sunglasses, then ducked into target and picked up some eyeglass cleaning stuff. After that I headed home for some lunch. I tried to take a quick nap but wasn't successful, probably because I got enough sleep in the last two days that I didn't need the nap.

So, I swung over to visit Bob for a while and spent about an hour with him watching bits and pieces of movies as this is habit to joke among multiple movies on TV. Oni kept us company but was it a testy mood. She did not want to get petted, but she insisted on laying right next to me. She wanted company but only on her terms which is always a cats prerogative. Afterword I swung home and settled in to watch some stuff off the DVR – Elementary, Last Man Standing, and Dr. Ken. Dinner was pizza.

Then I ordered an enjoyable movie on demand – Jane Got A Gun, with Natalie Portman. I think Natalie Portman is a great actress so I usually catch her movies when they're in the theater, but I don't know if this one got a release or if I just missed it. Either way I like the movie, it's an understated western with the big climatic gun battle and a satisfying resolution at the end. I'd recommend it if you like Natalie Portman or westerns or both.

Since and I've been sitting here moving DVDs from their cases into a binder. I don't have many DVDs left and the ones I had were mostly in a black case. It's my intention to dissemble the black case and throw it away. It's a display case I've had for a long time, that I inherited when an old roommate got married. It's a nice display case but it's a little damaged - so it's future is a sledgehammer in the dumpster, all in my quest to minimize, minimize, minimize.

Amusingly, in my collection of movies, about a good 20 of them have never been opened. I was going to sit here and open them but it dawns on me that I might as well just throw them away since I obviously didn't watch him in the first place. On that note I'm going to finish off that task and then call it a night. Until tomorrow!

Friday, March 24, 2017

One O'clock

It's one o'clock and I'm up watching an episode of Modern Family. I was a bit mentally exhausted at the end of a rich four days of work and so I crawled into bed at a little after 6:00 PM and zonked out. Zonked out being the technical term for falling straight into a deep sleep. I slept for a good six hours straight and woke up a short while ago.

It's kind of a beautiful night out there, cool and quiet. It's been a long time since I've been awake at this hour. Strange the cycles we fall into. Of course, like most people my cycle is very traditional, driven by the requirements of the working world. It's easy to forget what it is like to be free of the artificial cycle of the industrial world.

Work continues at a high cycle and I've got a couple of small projects on the edge of slipping and I've spent the last two weeks running a pilot project that's very time consuming. Work itself is full of many small cycles and when they don't line up there is a lot of turmoil. I'm wrapped in that turmoil right now. I'd like to be free of it. I'd like to move through days without constantly losing the present to concerns of the future.

Deep thoughts for the middle of the night, but that's what the deep night is best for. I'm going to head back to bed here shortly, read a bit, and then fall back to sleep. It should be a good three days off, even though I will choose to throw some more hours at work.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Logan and The Tome of Bill

I'm feeling kind of fenced in today. Though it was a good day I feel like I ran through it. Just a little too much to do and not quite enough time, both on the personal level and in all the things that orbit around me. All I know is to dig in and dig out. I'm feeling more relaxed here in the evening as I get ready to call it a night, but the day itself carried a little to much stress. I'm glad to shake it off. Hopefully I'll get a good nights sleep and wake up with a new perspective.

Stress aside it was a fairly good day. I woke early and had a decent breakfast with Tyrone. Bob wasn't up to getting out today, so I'll circle around and take him to see Logan at some future date. Speaking of which I saw Logan today. Great little action movie. X-23 has been a favorite character of mine for quite a while and I thought they did a good job of bringing her to life on the big screen. I'd definitely recommend the movie.

On that rather short note I'll call in a night and curl up with the novel I've been reading - The Last Coven (Tome of Bill #8) by Rick Gualtieri. The whole Tome of Bill series is an entertaining set of humorous urban fantasy books. That's another thing I'd recommend today if you like funny urban fantasy. I'll write more about the series at another time. For tonight, I'll just curl up and enjoy it.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

The End Is Important In All Things

The title of this entry is the last line spoken in one of my favorite movies. I wrapped up the day with a double header of movies - one old, one new. First, I watched "Blood Father" with Mel Gibson. Then, I watched "Ghost Dog" with Forrest Whitaker. An excellent little pair for a pleasant Saturday.

I started the day with breakfast with Tyrone, the stopped to stock up on cleaning supplies at the store. From there I spent an hour or so at Bob's watching King Kong (the one with Adrian Brody and Jack Black). Afterwards a quick cheeseburger for lunch, then a post lunch walk. From there, a nap, then making dinner of macaroni and cheese (very tasty if I say so myself). Then my little movie double header.
A very nice and relaxing little day. The plan for tomorrow is to see Logan with Bob and Tyrone and do my best to be fully present in the day.

The Hagakure plays a significant role in the movie Ghost Dog. It is one of those simple and profound books that has the potential to alter your world view if you're in the right place for its lessons to move you. I know it has been a constant companion of mine since it wandered across my path many years ago. I'd hit recommend it if you're looking for something to read.

On that note, I'm going to wrap up the day and slip into bed with the book I'm reading right now. Hopefully I'll read myself off into a good nights sleep.

Remember - the end is important in all things.

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The Song of the Wild Geese

I managed to get a good nights sleep last night. That helped improve my mood greatly. This morning is kind of gray and cool and we got two more waves of rain moving through next week – but spring is coming! The wild geese have been flying overhead in the morning. It is always a beautiful sight.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do today. I'll meet Tyrone for breakfast here shortly, and then after that I'm inclined to take a chance on a movie of some sort. We are supposed to go see Logan tomorrow – by we I mean Bob and Tyrone and I - so that's off the list of potential's for today. But I'm sure there's quite a few other movies out there that I haven't even seen yet.

I've got ample small things around the house to do if I elect to just have a quiet day at home. On the other hand, after all the hours I've been working, I am half tempted to go out and just wonderful a while. I haven't done a museum walk for quite a while now. Specifically I was thinking about going up to the Triton in Santa Clara.

Well, we will see what the day has in store. Let me finish up this cup of coffee, and I'm gonna head out and put some gas in the car, and pick up Tyrone for breakfast. The rest of it I'll just take as it comes.

Friday, March 17, 2017

On Friday, I Shake It Off

Well, that was a pair of days.  Work is very chaotic and high volume at this point and it is taking a toll.  The last pair of evenings I did get some time to relax and unwind, but as of this morning it wasn't enough. I had a sleepless night with an interruption that made me very cranky.  When my alarm woke me this morning I had to hit the snooze button and get some more sleep.  It helped, but not a lot.

Additionally, I've had some entertaining interruptions the last two days layered on top of the work load.  My friend Tyrone had his new motorcycle stolen from in front of his apartment three days ago (on Wednesday).  Fortunately the police recovered it a few blocks away - because the thieves who stole it crashed it and was trying to fix it on the side of the road. 

As they were trying to fix it, they broke into a car on the side of the street to see if they could get some tools.  The owners of the car heard the commotion and called the police.  The thieves got away, but not before the daughter of the homeowner shot some video of them.  Now, most likely, they won't be caught - but the odds are good the police will be able to pull a case together if they can identify the suspects.

So, I've given Tyrone a ride home from work the last two days since he is without transportation.  I'll probably pick him up again today, but next week he's going to have figure out another solution.  It's about a two hour trip to pick him up and take him home and then make it back to my home and that is a big chunk of the day.  My plan today is to browbeat into spending some money and renting a car.

I often joke with people that MY life is pretty straightforward and drama free.  What stress and drama I have tends to come from the stress and drama in the people around me spilling over into my world. I'm a pretty resilient person and I see my friends sometimes struggle with rolling with the punches of life.

Here is the way I look at it in a nutshell.  Life is a rough and tumble game. You're going to get knocked down. You're going to get battered.  You're going to pick up some bruises and scars along the way.  The trick is to understand that it's not personal. It's just life.  Shake it off and get back into the game.

So, with that little pep talk for myself, today I am going to shake it up and get back in the game.

Simon and Garfunkel - The Boxer

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Like The Dude, I Abide

The chaos was not quite as bad today. I did have some periods of time where I got some actual work done. That's always a good feeling. If I had one principal complain about the high work rhythm it's that there never seems to be an end or a sense of completion. It is like fighting the ocean, there is always another wave coming.

Our wave crested on Monday. They announced that our current director would be leaving at the end of the month and we were being moved into an already existing organization. Continuity matters when it comes to organizational effectiveness. I have to say, honestly, that I've never had good continuity at the upper leadership levels since I have been with the evil corporation for 19 years. The average director seems to last maybe a year and a half. Oddly enough the director that lasted the longest was pretty horrible, both as a professional and as a person. Maybe that's what it takes to survive the Game of Thrones in corporate America.

I keep my head down and I keep working and I move in the shadows. Damn, I sound like some kind of corporate ninja. The sad thing is that from my point of view the director we just lost was actually one of the better ones. She knew the business, she knew the functions, and she seem to be a decent human being. Now, I know nothing about the new director, he's relatively new so I have my fingers crossed that he's at least as good. We'll find out!

One advantage I have is that I'm already across the threshold for early retirement. So, to a degree, I could care less what happens. If things turn bad I just move on and start the next chapter of my life. It's a very good position to being. Knowing where the escape hatch is and having my parachute on lessons the stress significantly. It does not make it vantage, I think the working world will always carry a layer of stress with it, but it makes the impact less because I have options.

So the sun keeps rising, the moon keeps falling, the tides come and go, and in the land of flying monkeys, like The Dude I abide.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Spot of Tea

Chaos Tea would be a good name for a band.

It is a little after 7 o'clock in the evening here in California. The workday was as chaotic as I expected. I had a solid block of meetings from 8:00 AM until 1:30 PM. That is always brutal on a Monday because everyone tries to hit the deck running and email are flying all over.

I made it through the day and tomorrow's calendar is fairly clear, so I've blocked out some time for what I called Project 125. It's the number of backlogged email I want to try and get through.

I wrapped work around 5:00 PM then popped out for a bite to eat at a local dinner. It was tasty and quite which is exactly what I was looking for. After dinner I circled back home, restocked my tea box, and made myself a nice cup of Harrowgate of London Orange & Lemon tea to savor as the sun sets on a beautiful evening.

My mind is kind of exhausted from all the mental gymnastics of the day so my energy is running a bit low. Savoring a cup of tea has restorative powers, even more so when it's coupled with the poetry of Mary Oliver (which I always get confused with the music of Jane Olivor).

So, with a cup of good tea and a good book of poetry I wish you, dear reader, all of the good things in life - and tomorrow is another day!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Strange Days

These have been strange days.

If I had to sum it up in a nutshell - over the last year or so I've lost a lot of focus. Between the work overload and assorted bits of chaos in my personal life I became cluttered. I've been working this year to regain some of the clarity I've lost. My motivation has been low. When all it seems you're trying to do is move sand dunes you tend to get tired of shoveling sand.

This weekend was pretty good, though I moved through it under the shadow of work. The weather in this part of California was stunningly beautiful and a welcome relief from the long wet winter. It was nice just wandering around in the sun.

I met up with Tyrone at the Hickory Pit, then swung over to visit Bob for a while. It was a nice visit, all things considered. Brandy swung by my place during the day and dropped of several servings of chicken tortilla soup from her restaurant. After that I ran a few errands and then met Rick for lunch down at an Asian Fusion place. I had a miso glazed piece of sea bass that was truly outstanding.

From there I swung home and spent a lazy few hours watching a movie (Killing Me Softly) and then The Simpsons. My inner clock is still off due to the switch to daylight savings time today.

I'm not looking forward to work tomorrow because the chaos level is going to be pretty high. But, it will be a good day otherwise and I'll get a chance to work on my detachment from expectations and cognitive focus on attaining key steps in a wide variety of projects.

It's weird because I know all kinds of tricks and techniques for controlling workflow, detaching from expectations, and attaining clarity - I'm just struggling to implement them.

On that note I'm going to call it a night and curl up with a book to read myself to sleep.

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