Saturday, February 26, 2005

Walter Mitty meets Adolph Hitler

The Yoga practice from the Thelema class has moved along to observing the thoughts without trying to change or control them. Just observe. The phrase I initially jotted down after the first time ding this was, "Floor show in the brain while doing yoga". I have since stopped calling it a Floor Show and started calling it a zoo. In my magickal journal I noted it was like a series of overwritten and overacted dramas, played out with me as the star of them all, acting a role that is an odd combination of Walter Mitty and Adolf Hitler. Having been forced to observe my thoughts like this may have changed what is happening in my every day mind. I am playing out fewer dramas and spending less time obsessing. For the past several months I have also had this same awful little 2-bar tune repeating in my mind, day and night. For the first time since it started, I realized a few days ago the tune was gone. This was something of a minor shock. The tune has since returned, but is less obtrusive than it used to be. I am also wondering if there is a connection between the yoga and my earlier complaints of some of my Monkey Boy reactions. I recognized my behaviors sooner and more completely than I am used to. In other words, I have been more self aware. I have also done better at asking myself how to change future reactions, and have come up with better answers. Having said this, I will probably by punished for my hubris by doing or saying something in the next few days that will truly mortify and appall me, maybe even getting me into a serious trouble with a friend or coworker. This will be the equivalent of the universe smiling, rocking back on its heels, and saying, "This is the real lesson, bub. The other shit was just a warm up."

Beverly is reading a book called The Brain and the Mind by a Dr. Schwartz who has also written a few books on OCD. It looked interesting enough, so I got a copy of my own tonight. The central thesis of the book is that the brain doesn't stop growing and connecting at a certain age. The adult brain has been found to have stem cells and to generate new cells, new neural connections, and new pathways. The way Beverly phrased it is that it is possible to get a new brain. Like the old quote, "If you want to be somebody else you'll have to change your mind." I also bought the CD Summertime Dream by Gordon Lightfoot. This was a pure and simple nod to nostalgia - this was one of the first albums I bought as a teen. When I listened to the album later I realized just how good it is. I found myself singing along with a few of the songs as if I had never forgotten them.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

To betray the Bread and Salt

The Web Migration project at work is ahead of schedule and is really being a turn-on for the left lobe of The Wombat’s brain. It has been ages since something at work has really reached out and grabbed my interest. Part of why I like this project is that it is coming together so well - better than I had hoped, and better than what I told the boss to expect. On Friday it want live for Alpha testing. Most of the HTML conversion worked as planned, and it looks sweet as hell. There is still some work to do on it, if fact there is a lot of work to do on it, but so far the conversion program has things over 80% of the way to where I want them. If I wanted to, I could take support live on it within another week. But then the bosses would expect that kind of action all the time. So I’m going to stick with the February 28 date and get it as pretty as I can before that. At least this way I don’t run the risk of being late, it will look like a good job, and I get time to do the shit I know I need to (but the bosses never see as important).

There is other news at work that isn’t really good in itself, but has nice timing. We are all moving to a common review date in April and I need to do the whole PMF process again, even though I did it just last November. It is a pain in the ass and I never enjoy it, but this time it will come right on the heels of my completing the Web Migration. Even better, we may be integrating the web search into Vision (our call logging software) and I have already figured out how to enable importing the solution from the Knowledge Base entry into the Case (call log) in Vision. I am seriously thinking this might justify having Denos reclassify my designation so I get paid more.

I was thinking a few days ago about my decision not to write too much about my Minerval, and especially about the content of the ritual itself. I used to look at stuff like this as being no big deal, laughing at the seriousness of the Occult Initiation thing. I laughed (or at least scratched my head) at the way people take it all so seriously and pretend it is all so secret (and that there is something to be had from playing the secrecy game). But something happened after my own Minerval. I think I am beginning to understand. The fact is that the ritual was no big deal, at least when taken from my old position described above. But in the study materials I got from my sponsor a few weeks ago there was mention of the fact that you get more from it if you treat initiation with respect, as if it really does mean something. Expectation forms reality.

Before the ritual, I had trolled the internet looking for the text of the ritual, but didn’t find it. The O.T.O. must do a good job of chasing down the copies posted on the web and getting people to take them down. Either that or there just isn’t much interest in the topic. Then about a week ago I was looking for instructions on making a Tau robe for my first degree (something that is surprisingly scarce) and stumbled on a file claiming to have the texts of all the O.T.O. rituals. So I downloaded it and took a look. The table of contents listed them all, right up through the degrees that a schmuck like I could ever dream of. As The Wombat sat there looking at the screen, something happened in his fuzzy little psyche. First he had to see if it was the real thing, so he ventured into the text of the Minerval ritual. It was the real deal. Now the dilemma had teeth. On the one hand I could just read the scripts and it would be no big deal (this coming from the pre-Minerval Andy). On the other hand, it would be cheating. To look at the rituals, to learn the secrets he had not yet earned, would be to betray the bread and salt. So I made my choice. I printed up the Minerval as a study aid, then carefully closed the file and vowed not to look at it again.

I suppose printing up the Minerval was hedging, but my initiator hasn’t been available for questioning. G. has also been a bit scarce. So I’ll use this as a resource until I can dredge up a teacher or two. Another reason for not looking at the other rituals is that I know how initiation is supposed to work and what it is supposed to do. If you go into it armed with the script, it is all lost on you. I don’t want to do this to myself. I want to get the full bang for my buck and let the rituals work with me as designed.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Collisions and Conversions

Last Saturday Michael (my son) and I went to get him a new bicycle. It was fun, and it was also nice not having to mess with Kathleen being in the works (she is in Colorado dealing with her grandmother’s funeral). We were going to shop around a few different shops, but there was a good deal on a Schwinn at Bingham Cyclery, so we bought it. Michael really likes it and I think he is taking satisfaction from having paid for it with his own money. But yesterday, on the ride home from school, he managed to crashed it. He reached down to adjust something while riding, went a bit off track, and hit the back of a trailer. He claims he was out cold for ten minutes. I don’t doubt the out cold part, but the 10 minutes may be a stretch. The bike also suffered a bit of damage, but the guys at the shop managed to fix all the important stuff, and didn’t charge for the labor. This was pretty damned cool, and I think they just made a loyal customer of me. In fact Kathleen went back there to get a helmet for Michael, not even making noises of going to Wally World to get one on the cheap.

There has been an interesting turn of events at work. I have been pointed to the task of pulling the Knowledge Base out of the current format and search program and converting it all to a web based search. It has been interesting. Among other things, I get to extract over 5000 individual entries from a single formatted text file and shove each of them into a discrete HTML file. If nothing else, it will be educational. Most of the work has centered around programming tasks, writing one conversion program for the database search engine and another program to create the discrete HTML files from a single text listing. Then there is programming the search screens themselves and adding a few features into them that the good people at Inference didn’t think of (or maybe they did and I’m just reinventing the wheel).