31 August, 2008

Perspective

There is an old saying that was oft quoted in my youth: I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.  It was quoted, with an attempt at zen-like authority, to try and make me accept the way things were merely because someone else had it worse. 
I never really agreed with it, any more than I agreed with the argument that I should eat my brussel sprouts because there were starving kids in China.
It was obvious even to my untrained mind that my actions would have no impact on the hunger of kids around the world and, though hunger is the best spice, the hunger of some faceless child with whom I had no emotional attachment  was not enough spice to make the brussels sprouts on my plate any more palatable.
This ‘acceptance by comparison’ is such a bad philosophy from so many angles.  Primarily, it is because any philosophy worthy of its salt should pertain to anyone who chooses to embrace it and it should work in crisis as well as calm.  If the only way you have learned to accept your situation is by finding someone who has it worse than you then you then it will fail you at a most critical time:  when you happen to have it, in actuality, worse than anyone else. 
Secondly, this philosophy is just the flipside of another pitiful form of existence.
Though many people succumb to it, both subconsciously and consciously, few can successfully argue that envy is a good thing to embrace.  If we can only define our success by how we stack up to others we are destined to be unhappy most of the time.  This is not to say that competition is a bad thing, and I am not against keeping score.  But, in the end, the only person against whom we should measure ourselves to define our success is the person we were yesterday and the person we will create tomorrow.
A personal philosophy based on comparison is what gives us people who are obsessed with keeping up with the Jones’ and people who relentlessly put others down to hide their own lack of self esteem.  It gives us people who abuse power because the only way they can feel powerful is to make others powerless.
I think we can agree that being obsessed with what someone else has is not good.  Most people would agree that being miserable because someone else has a bigger house, newer car, or higher salary than we have is foolish.  I am certain that we can agree that the person who steps on everyone else in order to make themselves look bigger is a grade A asshole.
Is not being happy because I have something that someone else does not just the other side of the coin?  Isn’t dealing with the hardships in my life only by saying, ‘At least I don’t have it as bad as that guy’ a faulty path to acceptance?  Isn’t it just as shallow?  Being able to accept the things we cannot change is important, but it should not be based on how bad someone else has it. 
Acceptance is the price we pay for maturity, for composure, and for peace of mind. 
We shouldn’t use someone else’s misfortune to pay the bill.
Namasté,
Sisyphus
 I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet.
And so I asked the guy if he had any shoes he wasn’t using.
—Steven Wright

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

Mercedes Benz, Janis Joplin

29 August, 2008

< ol >< li >< /ol >

  1. The very first day I was supposed to report for work, I got hit by a truck.  There wasn’t very much damage; the guy just didn’t expect me to actually stop at the stop sign.  I didn’t want to be late, so I just told the guy I wasn’t worried about it if he wasn’t, and we drove off.
     
  2. Most of what I did the first week was just read a lot of books.  TCP/IP protocols and ATM over ethernet protocols.  I sat in on my first meeting with the Director, and we talked about the new firmware version that is rolling out around Thanksgiving.  The marketing section at this company is much like in a Dilbert strip, it seems.  I liked that they didn’t sit around talking about what they couldn’t do, though, and focused on what could be done.
     
  3. All this week I have been working with P, helping to design one of the smaller test beds.  I have been learning to read schematics of large scale network infrastructures.  Then we designed the changes that must take place for the new firmware to be tested.
     
  4. I came up with my first brilliant idea: how to incorporate two disparate types of cards so that they can share a stream instead of routing them separately.
     
  5. I got my first paycheck yesterday.  $500 net for one week. 
     
  6. Brenna has had a pretty shitty attitude the last week or so.  I am not sure what her problem was.  This weekend she is all lovey dovey, but I came home Thursday to find she had shit in my sink.  The litter box is cleaned regularly, so I am not sure what that was about. 
    Maybe Angelina was using it and Brenna just couldn’t wait?  She was about to piss on the carpet one time, also, for no apparent reason other than she felt it was a good place to pee.  I am glad she is in a better mood so I can reinforce her good behavior instead of scolding her for stuff I want to change.
  7. The first week I was so tired at work, trying to get used to the fact I was back in the corporate world.  I had some insomnia, and that didn’t help.  I would come home and pretty much pass out.  Last week was better.  I would come home, swim for an hour, then cook dinner and clean, then watch the Colbert and Ferguson from the night before.  I go to bed at 11 and get up at 5:30.
     
  8. I think I have been celibate quite long enough.  Now that I am around women in their twenties and early thirties it is more appropriate for me to get back into the mix, I think.  I have nothing against the ladies with whom I went to school, they were just too young for me.
     
  9. The car is holding out, so I will put my paychecks in savings for a month or so before I buy another car.  I still have to pay off the (awesome) washer and dryer I gaver myself for a housewarming present, too. 
     
  10. I will buy some more polo shirts and some slacks, though. The first week I was overdressed. I don’t mind it so much, but I don’t want to appear haughty.
     
  11. I get along with everyone with whom I work, but the relationships will likely not progress into anything more than colleagues. They were all talking about BBQ this weekend to celebrate the opening of college football (they are all fanatical) but no one asked if I was interested. The other co-ops get together to do stuff, but they are all many years younger than me.
     
  12. This weekend I am creating icons in Visio for all of the equipment they use and I will embed information like part numbers, etc, so that it will streamline the design process. Some of them still use graph paper. Maybe I am not that old…
     
  13. I thought McCain’s choice for VP was pretty transparent, but I don’t have so much faith in America that I don’t believe it might work.
     
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Namasté,
Sisyphus
  
Let me explain.  No, wait.  That would take too long.
Let me sum up.
   –Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride
 
I was caught
In the middle of a railroad track
(Thunder)
I looked ’round,
And I knew there was no turning back (Thunder)
My mind raced
And I thought what could I do?
(Thunder)
And I knew
There was no help, no help from you (Thunder)
Sound of the drums
Beatin’ in my heart
The thunder of guns!
Tore me apart
Thunderstruck, AC/DC

24 August, 2008

Humpty Dumpty

Andrea used to get so mad at me because she couldn’t understand my mood swings. She never understood how I could talk so animatedly about something, act like I was so excited about it, and then turn around and be completely down-trodden, ill content, and dispirited.
She didn’t see how hard I was trying to control my attitude, the only thing I felt like I had in my control.
One of my favorite quotes by my buddy Abe is that he noticed that "people were about as happy as they made up their minds to be." I tried to take that to heart. I figured that if I set my mind to it, I could walk through Sheol with a smile on my face.
But try as I might, sooner or later the Universe always slammed home to me just how badly my life sucked. I drew no solace from the Book of Job. That just pissed me off more.
Sometimes I think I must be at least slightly schizophrenic (and at other times I am certain we are not) because it seems I have a constant argument running in my head. A constant affirmation, "You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you." A constant admonition: "Don’t be such a pussy. Quit being such a fuck-up."
Is it because I never had a mom and I felt I was never good enough for my dad? I don’t know. I always figured I would be past all that by now. I don’t know why sometimes late at night I find myself wallowing in self recrimination instead of resting peacefully knowing that tomorrow I will live another day of my life.
Is Paris Hilton a bigger waste of space specifically because she had the resources to do so much more and yet she squanders them? I think so. And, thinking so, I allow myself to twist the knife a little harder in my own gut.
I know now the army was never a good choice for me. Even though I was good at it, it was the damaged part of me that responded to it. I could take all the abuse they could dish out, and still I could show compassion to my men. I think I was simultaneously trying to prove to my dad I was tough enough and show him the type of father he should have been. I was a better father to my troops than I ever have been to my own kids. Daniel Day Lewis is good, but he still couldn’t capture all the anguish.
I abandoned my kids.
I abandoned my troops.
I walked away from everything that mattered.
I felt like nothing mattered.
Everything mattered too much, and I couldn’t handle it all. 
I cracked under all the external pressure when I no longer had the strength to match it from within. I collapsed under the differential.
The rest of this life I’ll be picking up the pieces.
I fear they will never fit.
Namasté,
Sisyphus


When illusion spin her net
I’m never where I want to beAnd liberty she pirouetteWhen I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettesWho close their eyes, but still can seeNo one taught them etiquetteI will show another me
Today I don't need a replacement,
I'll tell them what the smile on my face ment



Solsbury Hill, Peter Gabriel

23 August, 2008

Captain Acronym

Angelina still acts like a squirrel on crack. I suppose she will for quite some time. I don’t really mind except when she decides she must attack the shoes I just shined or climb the pants I just pressed. It is such a switch from the beat-up and terrified little kitten I rescued from the police station. It is a nice switch.
We play fetch; it is one of her favorite things. It also allows me to study while also giving her attention. A balled up piece of paper thrown out into the hall results in her pattented sprint-pounce-attack (A+⇒ ,then X+Y, for those playing the home game), followed by a severe disemboweling. Then, after the wily crumpled paper beast is subdued, she drags it back to me for the next round.
Brenna gets into it once in a while, but she is more of a grappler. She dominates Angelina on the ground. Sometimes I can’t tell if the grooming she is giving is a punishment or an act of neighborliness. I had my face cleaned violently like that a few times when I was a kid. Didn’t make me feel loved.
The job is going pretty well. Most of last week (minus the orientation) was spent trying to get ramped up on networking procedures. I am assigned to the product qualification department of the carrier network division this term. Before they release a new version of firmware for their products, PQ builds huge test (simulated residential grids) beds in order to verify that the new version doesn’t break. After we build the grid, we populate it with varying levels and types of transmissions by writing scripts to simulate the traffic the network is supposed to be able to handle. Then we measure throughput and do it all over again.
They are getting ready to roll out a new version of the TA5000, which is my product line. It is a DSLAM, or a dedicated subscriber line aggregation module. A DSLAM is one of the components you see in those big grey boxes the cable and telephone company have in the neighborhoods.
Simply put, it multiplexes signals going out of the district and multiplexes signals coming into the district. It also provides dual tagging of the IP packet so that the server can provide different levels of service over the same line. It serves other functions, as well, but those are the ones I think are primary.
Most of my learning is coming out of books right now. Next week they will have all the specs they need to start building, and I will start my hands on learning, for which I am quite excited. I don’t mind reading books, but I like doing even better.
The company itself is a good company, and I think I will like working there. Dedicated, intelligent, and laid back. They are pretty socially responsible, also. I don’t fool myself that they are not ultimately after a profit, but I believe that a company can do both. Actually, I think that a company can make a more sustainable profit if it treats its customers and employees with respect and dedication.
One of the things I did not know about Adtran before the orientation was that, back when the tech bubble burst about a decade ago, Adtran management all voted to take pay cuts instead of laying a single employee off. That was pretty impressive, to me.
And they gave out free ice cream sundaes Friday, which makes them very popular with the Lollipop Guild as well as myself.
Namasté,
Sisyphus

22 August, 2008

< ul >< li >< /ul >

  • New job – love it
  • New coworkers – super cool
  • New boss – laid back
  • New duds – spaceman spiffy
  • Spaghetti carbonara – extremely tasty
  • Sysiphus – extremely tired

14 August, 2008

Working, walking, reading, and watching

I have settled in to a comfortable groove at work and am able to be more myself.  Though I am still on my best behavior, of course; I am a professional.  Also, I remain cognizant of the fact that I am more liberal than my colleagues.  What a shock that computer engineering isn’t renowned for its population of aging hippies.
So, I keep my comments about politics and religion to a minimum, and don’t go looking for an argument.  And I know better than to joke about religion, sex, or politics in a business environment.  That doesn’t mean I won’t enter into a debate if it is really necessary.  But I generally just focus on the task at hand rather than making my usual slew of sarcastic and sacrilegious remarks.
But my sense of humor is not restricted to the genre of the Daily Show, and it is good to have laughter around me.  I have always loved being able to make people laugh.  I have always thought that it was one of my best traits, my ability to juggle an intense focus at work and yet never missing a chance to impart a witty rejoinder.  Since I am both a clown and a workaholic I think I strike a good balance.  If I were too much of either, I wouldn’t be a good worker.
I went hiking the other day with my downstairs neighbor and her son.  It was pleasant.  They showed me some very nice trails in the area to go hiking; the mountains near here are gorgeous.  Not as high as around Asheville, NC, but still quite peaceful.  My neighbor also has some new age-y beliefs, so she also showed me where the metaphysical shop in town was; which was nice.  I was almost out of my sandalwood oil.
I also picked up some polished jet; I had never seen anything like it.  It looked like hematite, but was light as a feather.  Stiff as a board, too, probably, since it is fossilized wood.
I’m kind of frustrated that some of my favorite shows are not returning this fall.  At least Bones, House and Terminator are coming back.  I do detest the Fox network (ptuh!) but those are some good shows.  The rest (Heroes, Friday Night Lights, Lost) I suppose I shall have to wait until spring.  It makes me sad, because I actually have more time working than I ever had as a student.  I spend more time away from home, but I have no homework, other than that which I assign myself.
Speaking of which , I am reading an interesting book which proposes the Universe is a quantum computer.  Programming the Universe, it is called, by a professor of quantum mechanics.  It is surprisingly easy to understand, and I highly recommend it.
I picked up a copy of David Allen Coles Getting Things Done and I think I will try to implement it in my life.  I could always be more organized.  Time management is more important than money.  You can never borrow more time.
Namasté,
Sisyphushidden hit counter
Conventionality is not morality
–Charlotte Bronte
Why follow me to higher ground?
Lost as you swear I am.
Don't throw away your basic needs:,
Ambiance and vanity.
December, Collective Soul
It is quite embarrassing to me, as an American, to have the president saying things that advertise his total lack of self awareness and hypocrisy.  Even if his words did not apply so accurately to him it is a little pathetic to hear him try to take the moral high ground in any international dispute.
It is like Jim Baker railing against adultery or Dick Cheney touting gun safety.
He is, of course, speaking about the conflict in Georgia.  While I applaud the man’s desire to denounce the oppressive moves of a man like Putin, I still have to shake my head in disbelief at his choice of words.
Does he really not see how they apply to what he and his cronies have made our country?  Does he not see how we have been bullies?
It must take a lot of effort to remain that ignorant.
Ignorance and Arrogance and Power is a very dangerous combination.
Namasté,
Sisyphus

12 August, 2008

Alchemy

I know the big story this Olympics is Phelps and his quest. And don’t get me wrong, I am impressed as all hell by his ability, as well as that of his mates. The Men’s 400M Medley Relay was probably one of the most spectacular finishes I have ever had the pleasure to watch live. And I shared it with my best friend, so double gold star moment for me.
But, if I am honest, I am more impressed by a bronze than all the golds so far.
I am talking about the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics team. Raj Bhavsar, Justin Spring, Jonathan Horton, and Alexander Artemov, in particular.
I have always liked the gymnastics. To me, the quintessential gymnast is the paragon of grace and beauty that humans can achieve. And my interest was further piqued when I first heard of Raj Bhavsar and how his dreams kept getting snatched from him, but he refused to give up.
As a matter of fact, two of my favorites were only alternates until the Hamm brothers had to withdraw. And though Raj Bhasvar’s performance was not truly spectacular, in my opinion, it was a solid performance on which the team could rely.
Speaking of solid performances, Johnathan Horton was simply incredible in everything he did. His routine on the high bar took my breath away and I didn’t see how it could be bested.
And then Justin Spring got up there. Justin was a wild man making leaps and flips that defied gravity as well as the imagination. And his dismount was a triple somersault that he absolutely stuck, inches from the edge of the mat. How he could stop that much forward momentum without so much as a tiny hop boggles the mind.
At the very beginning, with the full team, people were talking about how the team would be lucky to get a bronze. After two primaries fell out because of injuries and they brought in the second string, most everyone acted like the team was just lucky to be there and thought their chances for a medal were nil.
Everyone except the team, that is. Not only did they qualify for finals, after the first half of the rotation they were in the lead. But China has some incredible athletes, and they lost the lead after China did their stationary rings and high bar routines.
And then, at their last event, the pommel, they ran into trouble when Kevin Tan faltered and Raz performed below par. The third contender, Alexander Artemov, was always iffy. He is brilliant when he is on his game but is prone to making large mistakes in the clutch. That is why, initially, he was only an alternate. He wasn’t even going to get to compete.
A lot of people might have let that set them off their game. And after the first two poor performances on their last event in the 2008 Olympics, there must have been a tremendous amount of pressure on that man. I think everyone expected him to choke.
Except him. Yesterday he was just incredible.
I don’t mean to take away from the momentous talent and achievement of Phelps or any of the other competitors, from any country. But the men's gymnastics team impressed me the most. I like stories where they rise above adversity. Michael Phelps is incredible, I won’t argue. But The 2008 Men’s team was simply inspirational.
counter free hit unique web
I once did the backstroke in a black speedo.
People thought there was a shark in the water.
–Craig Ferguson
Look…If you had one shot
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it…
Or just let it slip?
Lose Yourself, Eminem
(It amazes me how hard it is to find Olympic finals videos on YouTube. NBC must have a team working around the clock making them take them down.)

11 August, 2008

Of beans and business casual

My beans are finally finished, and now I am wishing I had made some corn bread. Corn bread just goes so well with my pinto beans, but I wasn’t thinking when I rolled out of bed this morning and got the beans to cooking. Maybe I will make some after I run my errands. I make it with a touch of honey in a large cast iron skillet and the edges get so crunchy.
Crap.
Now I really want some.
My dad used to say, “Want in one hand and shit in the other, then see which one fills up first.” Quite the sage, that one.
I am gonna go hit a few of the thrift stores and see if I can find some nice dress shirts. Sometimes it takes some searching, but I have found some nice van heusing or arrow dress shirts before that were in excellent condition for like 3 bucks apiece. That is worth the effort to search, since I have the time right now.
My neck and shoulders got bigger and most of the dress shirts I have are about a half size too small now. I can fit, but they feel too tight. I think I have to go shopping even if I can’t afford it. Hopefully I can make a pretty good dent in what I need at the thrift store.
I also want to find a nice pair of black captoe shoes, and maybe some wingtips. I can spitshine even an old pair to make them like new. I guess I better get me some lysol to disinfect the insides if I find any at the thrift store.
Not that I am likely to find shoes my size in the thrift store. I have short little duck feet. I guess that means I am hung like a duck.
I am trying to figure out a new hairstyle; I have just been leaving it shaggy and messy while I was in school, and especially this summer while I was a beach bum.
Well, I never went to the beach, but it sounds better than ‘pool person’.
I am tempted to go back to a flat top; I always looked good in one of those. I saw Matchbox 20 on Soundstage the other day and was thinking I could get away with how Rob Thomas wears his now that it is shorter. I also look good in a caesar like George Clooney used to wear.
If it seems I am thinking about my clothes too much, it is just habit. Whenever I got to a new unit, I would always take extra care making sure my uniform was immaculate and my haircut was sharp. It made the transition easier. It added a small bit of confidence that helped assuage my nervousness at being out of my comfort zone.
At least then I always knew what I was gonna wear. Einstein had a good point. Maybe I should just get five white shirts and five black ties….
Namasté,
Sisyphus
hidden hit counter
Your Business clothes are naturally attracted to staining liquids.
This attraction is strongest just before an important meeting.
–Scott Adams
My parents taught me what life was about
So i grew up the type they warned me about
They said my friends were just an unruly mob
And i should get a haircut and get a real job

Get a Haircut, George Thorogood

10 August, 2008

Hooked on the ice

Not meth.
No.
This stuff makes meth look like children’s cough syrup. And not even Tussin makes me feel so good.
I’m talking ’bout the ice pops. The frozen tube of goodness. And not that fancy shit, neither. This is the stuff you can get for a dime apiece in big fish-net bundles at wal-mart.
Normally I would stay the hell away from anything that cheap and stuffed into fishnets.
It started out casually, I just picked up one bag when I had gone in to get some shaving cream. Why did they have to put them right in front of the self checkout line? They know what will happen!
Drug lords.
I thought they would last me all summer. I told myself they were only for special occasions. Only if I cleaned my plate, did my chores, and exercised. But I started making little excuses to have another. And then I started having them even if I hadn’t done all my chores yet…
And then I started eating them two at a time. I was gorging myself on them so quickly I couldn’t even waste the time to go back to the freezer for another. Every time I went to Wal-mart I was getting more; terrified I would open the freezer and find out it was empty.
Wal-mart has made me an ice whore.
Just look at those luscious colors…
I tried to enter a twelve step program but, unfortunately, when I started, I was only eleven steps away from my freezer and I never had a chance to finish.
How lucky am I that I already had my screening test? My urine would be a bright purple if they wanted to test me now.
Namasté,
Sisyphushidden hit counter

Just because you got the monkey off your back
don’t mean the circus has left town.
—George Carlin

Pussy Galore

I took Angelina in to get her second round of vaccinations today. She was a trooper. Brenna was even concerned about her when I brought her back. Or maybe she just smelled the other animals on her. Either way there was a detailed inspection conducted by the feline matron of the house when we returned.
The vets have two kittens for whom they are trying to find homes. One is jet black and simply adorable. Though I already have two, I am sore tempted to become a cat herder. Even though Angelina plays with Brenna, it might be nice for her to have another kitten running around with whom she can get truly rambunctious. She definitely has more energy than Brenna. Brenna has a lot of forbearance, but she doesn’t like to play all the time.
I am supposed to have some company soon, along with small animals, so i couldn’t make a commitment today. But I told the receptionist that if they don’t have a home by Monday, and I don’t have company, then I will take one. I have a fifty pound limit on pets, and I think I will be safe with three cats.
Unless I let them eat lasagna,
I want to thank everyone for their kind wishes. This place is kind of like a steam valve for me. Used to be if I was stressed I would internalize it. All that internal pressure made sure I never collapsed under the strain of my life, but it wasn’t healthy. Now, when things are starting to get me down, I can come here and whisper that I am a big pussy, and then I can get over whatever it is that is bugging me.
Thank you all for your support.
Namasté,
Sisyphus
hidden hit counter
I get by with a little help from my friends
–John Lennon
Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don’t work
Keep coming up with love but it’s so slashed
…and torn

Under Pressure, Queen

07 August, 2008

Kigiin

I am seriously broke right now. The move took all of my savings, and I am down to only about $300 to my name. And I still have a few bills to pay. And Angelina needs her next round of vaccinations.
I also need to have enough gas to drive to work for two weeks before I get my first paycheck. Goddess help me if the car picks this time to quit on me. If I can just get a few more months out of it I will be golden.
I need to figure out what outfits I have that are fitting me currently that are suitable to wear to work. I should have enough stuff to last me til get paid and can update my wardrobe. I have a few really dressy business casual outfits I can wear the first few days and I have two or three pairs of Docker’s and some short sleeve button downs; a few polos. Hopefully I can get ten outfits out of everything I’ve got without too much repetition.
I was planning on going shopping before work started so I had some new stuff that fit the shape I am in now, but the security deposit that should have gotten here last week ($300) has yet to arrive.
I don’t mind being poor, I just don’t like it when there is stuff I need to do and I am not sure I will have the cash on hand to accomplish it.
I am stressing out, a little bit. I feel isolated and alone, and it kind of sucks. No, it sucks a lot. I don’t want to turn in to that creepy cat dude that lives upstairs.
I have met some people down here but I haven’t done anything with anyone at all. I don’t think the drum circles count, because that is just a community thing. It is no more social than going to eat at Denny’s when it is crowded.
I guess I am stressing out a lot.
My mental state makes the money situation more of a burden than it really is. I will have enough to cover all the current expenses. I just have nothing to fall back on.
I live too much of my life with nothing and no one to fall back on. I have good balance, working without a net, but it makes me tired.
Sometimes I want to to belong so bad I can’t breathe.
Namasté,
Sisyphus
hidden hit counterMarge: Oh, this is the worst thing you’ve ever done.
Homer: You say that so much it’s lost its meaning.
–The Simpsons
I keep a journal of memories
I’m feeling lonely, I can’t breathe
I fall to pieces, I’m falling
Fell to pieces and I’m still falling
—-
All the years I’ve tried
With more to go
Will the memories die
I’m waiting

Fall to Pieces, Velvet Revolver

06 August, 2008

I'll see you in the lists

Things I like:

Having two cats that play together almost constantly.

It is terribly cute to watch Angelina trying to coax Brenna into playing. She will sit there and attack Brenna’s tail, and Brenna will just look at me and roll her eyes. But then she gets up and they spend an hour chasing each other all over the apartment.

Having the National Geographic channel in Hi Def

I have always been a whore for documentaries, now I feel more like a high priced call girl.

Having a pool so close to my front door

I know I’ve listed it before, but it remains one of my favorite things. I am up to thirty laps freestyle, ten each of breast stroke and reverse fly before I have to take a break. I never realized how much I missed swimming.

Cabbage

I know, sounds weird, but I like it. I needed to start eating more leafy vegetables, and I like cabbage in my stir fry. But one night I just had the munchies, so I started making this pseudo-slaw out of cabbage, and it was quite good. Then I started adding tuna so I could increase my protein intake, and I have been eating the hell out of it:
  • 1 tbsp each mayo and Dijon 
  • salt
  • pepper
  • can of tuna (drained)
  • two cups of diced cabbage
  • a dash of vinegar
It is my new post workout salad.

Having a big balcony

All of my plants are just loving all the space and sunlight they get, and the cats like being out there, also. At first I was worried about the little one taking a giant leap (fearless), but she seems like she won’t do that now. I am gonna get a whole bunch more plants come fall when the nurseries have their closeout sales.

There are a few things I don’t like:

“sell by” dates

When I was a kid, the date told me when I needed to use the product by in order to guarantee freshness. Now the date tells the manager when they need to sell it. The labels should be there to help the consumer, not the store. I know there is a time period after the product had to be sold in which it can be used and still be considered fresh, but I cannot find a good list anywhere by which to decide. I don’t like to taste my food to find out if it has gone bad.

People who don’t put their carts in the stalls

OK, there are a few cases where I can be forgiving of this, but for the most part people are just being lazy. And they are not even ashamed of their laziness. Fuckers.

“Breaking news” when no one knows what the fuck is going on yet.

Why not just wait until you have a story to start reporting it rather than advertise your ignorance? For that matter, ever since news became expected to turn a profit, I have disliked it. Back in the day (it was a Wednesday, by the way) news was something that a station did in order to have the privilege of broadcasting. It was a public service. I think I might have to do a research project on when all that changed and see if I can correlate it to anything else.

But there are also some things I love:

SunshineLaughterHaving a purring cat sitting over my shoulder.

Namasté,
Sisyphus
PS Milk and cookies to anyone who can reference the title without looking it up…hidden hit counter

05 August, 2008

hush hush

When I write I am typing the words in my head; a soliloquy that, up to a few years ago, was never given literal voice. I talked to myself, but never out loud. Never in print. Now when I write it is like taking dictation for the little dude in my head; luckily he never talks faster than I can type. I wonder sometimes if my typing skills improve what would happen to the voice in my head. Would he speed up?
His voice changes sometimes, depending on the tone in which I am writing. When I first started writing it was always in the tone of a mad prophet. Much of what I wrote might not have made sense to anyone who did not live in my head. Too many obscure references and inside jokes. Too many thoughts chased down too many rabbit holes. Very few of them ever captured, but all released unharmed.
Sometimes he takes the tone of voice of the crusty old staff sergeant, especially if I feel a good old fashioned ass chewing coming on. It may be a sad testament to my state of mind that I am my harshest critic. It may be pathetic that sometimes I must chew my own ass out to get off my cot and get moving, but it is effective. When I give voice to the Sergeant, action always followed. Mostly he talked to me like an instructor carefully trying to guide me through the twisting, tangled and often overgrown paths of my mind. Lately he has been talking to me in a Scottish accent.
I think I have been watching too much Craig Ferguson.

04 August, 2008

Baking is my nemesis

Baking is my nemesis.
It is an evil, cruel dictator that refuses to grant me entrance into its court. It is the last bastion of the castle of culinary arts.
It has thwarted me time and again. I cannot count how many of my attempts have ended up more like adobe brick than fluffy goodness. I have yet to be able to make much more than a simple corn bread.
I have always wanted to be able to bake because nothing is better than fresh baked bread. My step mom was a huge bitch but my memories of her are nonetheless sweetened by the cinnamon rolls she used to make.
So, to balance out all the geekiness in which I am submerging myself, I have the guitar on one side, and I have decided that baking will be on the other. I mean the failures are still pretty cheap. Flour and eggs and baking soda or yeast. I can afford failures.
But before I jump into breads, I thought I would spar with muffins. Thus, armed with an old episode of Good Eats, I decided to try my hand with a recipe I devised.
I had accidentally gotten a can of pumpkin pie filling instead of just pumpkin. I also had some bananas that were looking at me the wrong way. They needed a good mashing. I suppose I am the only one that talks shit to my potatoes or bananas when I mash them, but you should try it. It is very empowering. You should hear how quiet the produce aisle gets when I walk in the store.
Dry:
  • 4 cups baking mix
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Wet:
  • 15 oz (vol) pumpkin pie mix
  • 15 oz (about 3 large) mashed very ripe bananas
  • 2 large eggs
Using the muffin method, I mixed all the dry together in one bowl and all the wet together in another, and then I introduced the wet to the dry, mixing just until moist. Then I filled some greased muffin tins 3/4 of the way full and sprinkled a simple streusel on top. I baked them for about 16 minutes at 400 degrees. It made 24.
Holy hell they are good. The oven will learn who is boss, if it is the last thing I do.
I was gonna share them with my downstairs neighbor lady, Cheryl, and her son, but though the taste is great, the texture is a bit off. She is a nice lady, so I’ll have to figure something else out.

03 August, 2008

¡Marijuana no fumar!

I just got finished watching Meet Bill. It was a pretty decent movie along the lines of American Beauty but without the violence or borderline pedophilia. It had some pretty good scenes.
Like AB, though, what it did have, and what bothered me, was the ganja.
It seems like all of these coming-of-middle-age movies are selling the same prescription: your life sucks, you don’t like your job, your marriage is falling apart, and you are out of shape? Smoke some weed, bro!
It doesn’t make any sense to me. Is it because part of my solution to my midlife crisis was the exact opposite? The thought of introducing a chemical substance to induce a positive change in ones life seems ludicrous in light of my history. Positive change can only come from within and, especially later in life, it takes a tremendous amount of focus. Marijuana is not known for its focus inducing quality.
I do see how it implies a ‘lightening up’ so that change can occur, but it is false. It is like having to have a few beers before being able to get on the dance floor. It is a juvenile reaction to the stress of change or discomfort.
I used drugs and alcohol as a child to cope with not knowing who I was and not having the balls to withstand the pressures of my home life enough to create myself into who I wanted to be. I didn’t even know who I wanted to be, so I just became what I saw at home. I certainly did not stop drinking after I joined the Army.  Years later, I had to give those things up before I could even think of becoming the man I want to be.
I don’t understand why Hollywood sells the idea that if you want to change who you are, then you first have to act like a teenager again.
It is not about getting back to who we were. It is about becoming who we were meant to be.

02 August, 2008

CLI: Hunts Vegas

Well I have finally figured out how to use WINE enough that I have loaded some of my programs from XP onto my Linux drive. Not many, really; it is amazing how good the open source programs are. I find I don’t miss that many Windows based programs at all.
I haven’t found a Linux based typing tutor that I like as well as Mavis Beacon so I still use that. But virtually every program that I use on a daily basis, geek and otherwise, has one that is as good or even better that I can use for free. I can’t believe I spent so much money on my Windows programs.
Even with my student and military discounts over the years, I am sure I have spent well over $1000 dollars to keep me in software applications. Of course, Windows is a much more advanced platform for games than Linux, but I really don’t play that many games on the computer any more since I got the PS3. I got tired of playing strategy sims and they are the only genre in which the PC really shines. And since the PS3 can have a keyboard and mouse hooked up to it, there is no reason they can’t come out with awesome strategy sims for the PS3.
They have developed a new electronic memory pad that can be used to make roll-up keyboards for laptops or customizable ergonomic gamepads for consoles. The possibilities are really endless with a little velcro and ingenuity.
I sort of went into sham mode after I got comfortably settled, and am still trying to get things set up the way I like. I haven’t really been doing a whole lot with the apartment the last week or so. After I got the new kitten I spend most of my time being non-productive. But the last few days I have been getting back into it, so it should be orderly enough for me to feel comfortable sharing pictures soon. Messy bookcases are the bane of my existence. I did buy two extra bookcases, and that has come in handy.
I decided to put all my area rugs back in storage until the kitten learns where she can scratch or I get her declawed. She is a climber. I really have not had a kitten as rambunctious as she, ever. Very active.
None of my drapes fit the new windows, and I don’t have the cash right now to buy new ones, yet. All the windows here are set next to adjoining walls, so my hanging hardware doesn’t even fit in most places. All my windows at the last place were in the center of a wall, and so I could use ornate hardware. But Angelina would just climb them if I tried to hang anything right now, anyway. I changed her name to Angelina, because she has beautiful eyes and she is so very feisty.
I watched a great movie the other day that I had never heard of. TiVo saved it for me because it thought I might like it. It was right. Oh, TiVo, you know me so well. It was called Freeway with Keifer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon. It was really a stellar performance by Reese. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t like her pieces.
PS
If you are travelling with your personal electronics make sure they don’t have anything on them you wouldn’t want your mom to see. Department of Homeland Security just announced they have the authority to seize, confiscate, search, record, and distribute any of the information on any of your portable electronics without cause for any reason whatsoever in their fight against terror. Thanks, America, for being such pussies that you let this happen. Do you feel safer now that Big Brother is watching?

01 August, 2008

Every success is built upon the willingness and the ability to
do better than good enough.
–unknown
When danger reared it’s ugly head
He bravely turned his tail and fled. (No!)
Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about (I didn’t)
And gallantly, he chickened out.
        The Ballad of Sir Robin, Monty Python

If I’m honest, I am getting pretty nervous about going to work. I mean, I am excited and all, and the money will certainly come in handy, but I am still shaky. I have never really had a civilian job.
I worked for Home Depot for about three weeks after I moved to Independence after they retired me. I was still kind of fucked in the head, though, and I quit. I might try to sell myself the idea that I just wanted to be able to quit somewhere, but really I just stopped going to work. I didn’t really plan on quitting when I got the job. I hit a wall and I just didn’t leave the house for about two weeks. In Missouri, a right to work state, that is equivalent to quitting. Any place else would have fired my ass. And I didn’t care, at the time.
I used to get in these zones where nothing mattered. I really didn’t care about the big picture at all. I still ate and took care of myself, because it isn’t that I want to die. It is just that I don’t give a shit about anything.
I felt that I had lost everything; everything that I believed in turned out to be a lie. And in comparison to everything I have done and all the sacrifices I have made for an idea that was false, I have difficulty mustering the desire to do anything else.
But I desire less the thought of giving up.
So I trudge on. 
Uh, trudging.  You know trudging?  The slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in life except the impulse to simply soldier on.  --Chaucer, A Knight's Tale
I tried to find something that would keep me fascinated, that would allow me to use my brain in a good way. I thought maybe if I kept my brain occupied it wouldn’t go down old paths and get me into trouble again. I know it is my fault that I get the way I do. I don’t blame the world for my defects. It is up to me to learn how to deal with it.
But now that I have thrown everything away that I had built in Rolla to come down here, and I start work in two weeks, I am getting nervous. I don’t feel like I know enough yet. They said they would train me, but what if I am not good enough?
I am afraid they will find out I am not as smart as they thought I would be. I am nervous about having to report to work at a specific time. I skipped classes if I didn’t feel like going to them. Not many, but enough to know that I still had issues. But work is not the same as school. Only my marks get hurt if I missed classes.
I feel kind of pussified. I am more nervous now competing against all these other interns that I was when I first started going to school. School wasn’t really a competition, but work will be. Work always has been. I have never competed in anything not military related for the last 20 years. Well, I did enter the writing contest…
I can’t let myself get bogged down in my discomfort, I know. I just have to keep at it. I tell myself it is ok to be nervous, but I can’t let it get to me.
I may not succeed, even if I try my best, but I know I will not succeed if I do not try.
But it’s still scary.