Friday, December 25, 2009

Time warp to last summer - Lackland Air Force Base

Last summer the family traveled to San Antonio for Michael's graduation from basic training. On the road, I made a few short notes on the theory I would flesh them out later. It is now "later". The original notes are in bold, and the flesh hangs loosely beneath them.

Why the females took my attention
A healthy percentage of the trainees are female. Whenever I saw a group of them, I had to stop and stare. My attention was drawn mainly to their faces. It seemed they were all just so damned attractive. (But not in THAT way. It was all in the healthy and wholesome way.) I was asking myself what made these young women grab my attention. What made them so much more remarkable that their sisters who were out infesting the malls and clubs? Then I figured it out...

No makeup. Hair drawn back. Heads held up and eyes forward. I COULD ACTUALLY SEE THEIR FACES.

Numbered urinals
During one of the events, we were informed that if we needed to use the bathroom, we would be directed to a specified bathroom facility in the barracks. Sure enough, being an old man with a small bladder, I had to pee. So I entered the door. At each landing of the stairway was a trainee directing me to the next segment of my journey and ready to respond to my smallest question or need. I was impressed.

Then I arrived at The Head. As soon as I entered, I saw that every urinal (and sink) was numbered with a sticker like those used to mark room numbers on doors. Only in the military....

Military order and chain of command vs. them damned civilians
A number of the events we attended required large numbers of civilians to organize themselves, whether to settle into a venue or to move from one place to another. Every time, it was chaos, confusion and frustration. How many times does someone have to hear the words 'excuse me' and have someone squeeze past before it dawns on him that he is standing in the middle of the path, and he should move his ugly ass to the side?

I compare this to the trainees and their cohorts. When they did something, it was ordered and precise. And if one of them ever did park his ass in the way, he (or she) was bludgeoned with the club of common sense in short order. How refreshing.

The critical mass of teenage girls

On the flight home, the plane hit rough weather coming out of Denver. It wasn't bad at all, but that didn't prevent the teenage girls around me from squealing and screaming. (It was a Lacrosse team traveling home to Oakland, CA.) Why all the histrionics, I wondered. If it was one teenage girl, she would have been silent - or maybe let out one short squeak of alarm. If two or three had been sitting together, there would have been a few such squeaks or squeals, followed by embarrassed giggles. But when you have thirty of them sprinkled about the aft section of a 737, you have achieved critical mass. The inhibitions associated with being in the minority go away, and their hormone fueled alarm is given full voice.

The beer bottle on the hill
I have no recollection of what this note refers to. But I will let it stand. It seems so "zen".

Friday, December 11, 2009

Making up for Lost Time

I am finally rid of The Evile She-Cat from Hell. Oh....that's right. I Didn't tell y'all about 'TESCFE'. Well......

Silly me. I volunteered to adopt a cat from a 'friend' who was moving. Alas, the cat is a breed that doesn't work and play well with other cats. And I already had one of those "other cats". Sill, silly, me.

Long story short....

New cat makes war on old cat. Old cat becomes basket case. Human achieves state of "Holy Piss-Off." New cat is returned to 'friend' from whom it came.

Right..........

Now that we have made it past THAT nasty little episode, the old cat is making up for lost time by sucking as much attention as possible from The Human.

Lucky, lucky human.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

.......

There is a greater meaning in all of this.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Still not-drunk

The previous post continued....

Last night I engaged in two other actions that are perfectly normal for me when drunk, but very odd for being sober. Again, I had nothing to drink.

The first action was putting out a fire. One of my neighbors thought it a good idea to burn leaves in a barrel behind the apartment. He then thought it an even better idea to leave it unattended. So I knocked on the door to ask him to put it out. When I got no answer, I circled to the back, found a hose and put it out myself. For me, normal behavior would have been to fume and do nothing.

The second action was throwing out a CD. It was part of the CD of the Month club from KRCL some years ago. It came up in rotation to play and, halfway into the first track, I said, "This really sucks." I then pulled it out of the player and tossed it. I NEVER just throw out CDs.

The second action relates to a topic that has been gestating lately: the "Tyranny of Stuff". But that is another post.

(Oh yeah....and I have been losing weight. Again - I have no idea how or why, I just am. How odd.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

All the fun of being drunk

I think something was dislodged in my psyche somewhere in the last few weeks. I have departed from my normal routine and I am acting drunk.

In normal headspace, I am what the comic refers to as "The Button Down Mind." I have lists and schedules and routines that dominate my life. I maintain a list of my lists (not really, but it sounds good). Several years ago, the lists came into being as tools that helped to focus me. But, over time, the lists took on lives of their own. They began so suffocate me. I found myself thrashing (in the computer hard drive meaning of the term). I spent more time being locked into the meaningless - shuffling things from list to list, or agonizing over the priorities - and I wasn't actually getting anything done.

(Damn, that sounds horrible. Was it really that bad? I don't know. I will ask myself again in a few months.)

About a week ago, I came home, looked at the state of my living space, and just got pissed off. Since then, I have been ignoring the lists. Instead, I have been applying my energies to the things that catch my eye (or my brain) and say, "Yes. We have been pissing you off. You hate us and you want us to change."

This is not a new behavior for me. But it is a behavior that I normally engage in only when slightly drunk - just drunk enough to lower my inhibitions a bit, but not drunk enough to achieve apathy. (Hmmmm..... "Achieve Apathy". Fits right in there with "Military Intelligence", "Religious Right", etc.)

It feels good.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Just enough O.T.O. - A little more Thelema

So I posted a "Gripe and Moan" about how I was sinking too much energy into Horus Oasis, and how that was getting in the way of my Will.

The IAO131 asked a pointed question.

Dang. Don't we just hate it when people ask us to THINK.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Recharging the Batteries

Tomorrow is Gnostic Mass.

I am going to be deacon, and I am providing the Cakes of Light. So I had a baking session earlier. I am quite pleased with the results. I take my 'recipe' from "She Who Opens", this being the same woman as "She who bakes without written recipes". I will confess to one batch at the start of the year that was a bit crunchy. But excepting that single mistake, they have been flawless.

The Priest and Priestess for mass have never worked together before. In my mind, they live on opposite sides of many spectrums (age, personality, blah, blah). I am not alone in this perception. But everyone I have talked to is looking forward to this mass and is predicting some wonderful results. And I get to stand in the middle of it all and play conductor.

Now - this post seems the polar opposite of my last post. But it sheds light. The Gnostic Mass is what drew me into the O.T.O. When the fate of Horus Oasis was hanging in the balance (or so we thought), my reason for stepping up to help save it was that I wanted Gnostic Mass in my life.

Last month I was priest for mass. When we were done, the priestess told me the following: "I was going to call and cancel. Life has just been SO crazy and I just didn't have the time or energy. But I didn't cancel, and I am glad. I have NEVER regretted being a part of Mass." I feel the same way. Gnostic Mass recharges my batteries. It keeps me going for another month. I can bitch and moan about other aspects of playing with the O.T.O., but I swear an oath at this moment: I will never bitch and/or moan about Gnostic Mass.

PS - Mass of the Phoenix tonight. Ouch (I am such a wimp). This time I did it REALLY SLOW and stopped at each line and action to really think about it. Most enlightening.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Too much O.T.O. - Not enough Thelema

On October 10, Horus Oasis held a first degree initiation. The current initiation team had never done a first degree before, so there was much to learn and memorize, much to set up and test, much time to spend getting the whole thing ready. It pretty much ate my life for the three weeks leading up. Then there was clean-up to do in the few days following. At the end of the ordeal, I was ready for a break.

Wrong.

Cleanup was on the 13th. O.T.O. coffee on the 16th. Discussion group on the 20th. Gnostic Mass on the 24th. Etc, etc, etc. And so the schedule goes through the month of November.

During the lead-up to the first degree, I deferred personal projects and obligations to other people. They came home to roost this last week. So, if anything, I am busier and more stressed (and further behind) now than I was before.

I am not happy. This is not what I thought I was signing on for. To be blunt, the O.T.O. is currently an obstacle to my pursuit of my own Will. I have joked with a few people, "This Thelema thing sounds interesting. If I wasn't so busy with the O.T.O. I would check into it."

I am not happy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First Degree

Last night we wrapped up a bit of a project in Horus Oasis. But let me start closer to the beginning.

On October 10, Horus Oasis held a first degree initiation. This was a larger event than normal because it was a 'first time event' for all of the officers involved and for many (but not all) of the people involved in setting up and taking down the temple.

For those of us doing it for the first time, there was much work involved. We got to memorize scripts, work out choreography, and wrangle equipment. Serious work started in early August. Even up to the morning of the event we were still refining some of the details. But, now that we have done it once, future first degrees will go much smoother. Even as we bring in new officers and helpers, there will still be the experience of the cadre to draw from.

Last night we (me, Warren, Beverly, Holly) took down the last of the first degree temple, then restored the gnostic temple. For me, this closed the event. There is now room to breath.

We are looking forward to Minervals in November and February, then a Third Degree in April. We have done Minervals before, and the ritual requires less work. I am informed by the initiators that I will not be allowed to officer in the Third Degree. (We'll see how that works out.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Playing Hookie

Yesterday, the alarm went off at 5:00 AM - just as it always does. And, just like I always do, I got out of bed and silenced it. Then, with a headache, cotton mouth, and churning stomach, I set the timer for another 20 minutes and fell back in bed.

After 20 minutes, my head still hurt, my tummy still turned, and my mouth was still dry. I fell back into bed and held an internal debate over whether to call in sick.

Two hours later......

The Fortune 500 Company sent out message last week reminding its multitude of minions not to come into work if displaying symptoms of the flu. I rationalized that this applied as well to Swine Flu as to Brown Bottle Flu. I called in sick. I then showered and dressed and asked myself a question: "What do I need to get done today?"

Three things came to mind. The first was to clean up a wax spill in the Temple of Wombat. (What is it with pagans and candles?) So I set to this task, then decided the entire temple needed to be cleaned out and re-assembled. I hauled out boxes and folders and totes and stacks. I cleaned and dusted and sorted and filed and cursed and banished and repaired and eliminated. I then put the Temple of Wombat back together. Finally, when the floor cover was back in place, I performed the lesser hexagram ritual to re-establish the working space.

So far so good.

The other two task I planned for the day went undone. Cleaning the temple took all day. But when it was all done, I felt good. I was motivated again.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Birth...

Take the time and effort to pull down "Magick Without Tears" from the internet. In it, the 'Man of Earth' degrees of the O.T.O. are described.

Yesterday, Horus Oasis pulled off a birth - a first degree initiation. I played a role as an officer. I also did much in the way of setup and take-down.

Life is good. At the same time {sarcasm alert}, this thing called "Thelema" sounds really interesting. Someday, when all of this O.T.O. shit is no longer monopolizing my time, I would like to check it out.

*Sigh*

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Trespassing

I spent the morning cutting down trees on the OTHER SIDE of the property line. Yea me!

It was actually at Kat's place. The other property is a rental, so the owner doesn't really care. The trees are chinese elm growing in the strip between the carport and the fence line. With a new fence going up, the REALLY BIG WEEDS need to go.

I guess I am sort of weird when it come to tools. Most real men would fire up the Stihl chain saw with the smoke belching two stroke engine. Not me. I drag an extension cord out and plug in the 20 year old Sears electric chain saw.

Yes. Electric. An electric chain saw.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_07134011000P?keyword=electric+chainsaw

You have NO IDEA how many times this thing has paid for itself over the years. No gas. No oil. No goddamn pull-start. Just plug the sucker in and start chasing the neighborhood cats.

Step back, take stock, and get ALL SORTS of pissed off

I have been fighting like hell for forward progress in my life. But the harder and longer I have fought, the stiffer the resistance has been. There came a point in the last few days when I stopped fighting - for just a little bit - and took stock of things. Then I decided to get just one damned bloody thing out of the way before taking up the fight again.

Get the wireless working. Or replace it with a cable.

So I started on the project, hoping to use the old wireless, in its final throes of death, to get the job done. I had to reset the piece of shite at least ten times. Then I threatened it. Then I slammed it against the wall. (That last one got its attention.).

And now....finally....I have wireless the works. I have internet access the way a true man us supposed to have internet access.

Next weekend I am going to take the old Linksys bridge to a special place in the back yard and I am going to pound it into a thousand pieces with a sledge hammer.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Spam and Potato sandwich

Explanation in advance to prepare you for an awful detail to come.... Kat and I used to fry up Spam and eat it with a bit of honey. The combination of nitrates and sugars could not be resisted.

Take one small potato. Peel. Slice lengthwise into thin slabs. Place in frying pan, lube with a bit of olive oil, low heat.

Cut a few slabs of spam to match the potato slices. When the potato is about half done, add the spam.

On one slice of bread, apply a thin layer of mayo.

On the other slice, something sweet. I was out of honey. But I had grape jelly. YOU WERE WARNED.

When spam and potato are done, build a sandwich and eat on the front porch. In plain sight. In front of the neighbors. (You are, after all, a middle aged bachelor and you have no shame.)

Note to self: Toast the bread next time. The darned thing was a bit limp and hard to handle.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Where ARE those damned saucers?????

Another X-Day comes and the saucers don’t show up again. How long must we wait? I'm going to have a word with Rev. Stang about this...

Purification. The Tao offers no resistance. The way is easy to travel. (…or something like that. It was sitting under the tomb at Gnostic mass last weekend, when I was priest.)

Life has just become too hard. In many areas, between where I am and where I want to be, I can see no path. Or, if I see a path, it seems to be filled with obstacles or restrictions. But there is something in my head that tells me this reality that lives only in my head. The paths are all there, and they are all broad and easy. I just refuse to see them. I suppose this is made worse by related facts: I want too much; I can’t focus on one thing to completion; I mourn over things not done; I dither and wallow in indecision; I have begun to overuse semi-colons in my writing.

In June I set goals for working out and for spiritual practice. About 1/3 of the way through the month, it all fall apart. Worse, I lost ground. Too much alcohol and self pity. Approaching Gnostic Mass last weekend, I realized I was fighting it too hard. I was gritting my teeth and tensing up and being the worst sort of mammal in my reactions. I remembered, for the hundredth time, that it just doesn’t have to be so hard.

Aside – I am listening to Speaking of Faith. It is a rebroadcast of the role of play in life. I remember my last conversation with friend in which I was accused, not for the first time, of not knowing how to have fun. It fits the theme of loosening the hell up.

I will choose two things that must happen, two that should happen, and two that would be nice to happen. Then I will, when I find myself acting or thinking counter to these things, speak to myself a word, phrase or sentence that will set my course back in line with my will.
  1. Must – No alcohol.
  2. Should – No overeating.
  3. Nice – Clean my surroundings.
  4. Should – Learn the O.T.O. first degree.
  5. Nice – Establish daily practice.
  6. Must – Stop dithering.
It was interesting making that list. I wrote the six items first, then I went back and assigned the priorities. Setting priorities was much more challenging than creating the list. There is a tension between what my emotions tell me to do and what my brain tells me to do. In essence, if the two ‘Must’ items are done, a great door is opened to the other items. I will make up the words or phrases to set my focus as I go along. One word about the alcohol: It is there mainly because when I drink just one beer - even a Utah, mass market, 3.2 percent beer - my focus goes all to hell, and I spend the rest of the day wandering around accomplishing nothing.

“It is tough when you conclude that you just don’t have the resources to take care of something, especially something you care about, and you have to just walk away from it.” I said something like that to a friend as she was telling me about Jaimie, the dog that went to California with the 'real owner'. She knew the dog would be neglected, but needed to let her go anyway. After the conversation ended, I realized it also applies to me and some of the things and people I have been putting energy into. It was most painful when thinking of Holly and Beverly. All of the progress we made in the last few years cleaning the house has been buried under new piles of junk and kruft.

Gnostic Mass last weekend. It was good mass with good energy.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Return to the garden

I had a sort of epiphany a few weeks ago. It was the perfect time to start a garden. I was tempted to start one of my own, but I knew it would be folly. I looked forward to the summer and could see I would have no time to care for a garden. I had a sense of loss.

I looked at all the things getting in the way of having a garden and realized most of them are not of my choosing, and are not reflections of my will. They are things imposed on me, either by other people or (mostly) by my own foolishness. I resolved to not let this happen again. I will have a garden next summer. A large and luscious garden. I will spend the next several months resolving the issues that prevented a garden this year, and building the discipline to reject new impositions that will thwart my will to have a garden.

So mote it be.

Nothing like a good horse

Nearly 20 years ago, Kat and I went to the local Schwinn shop and purchased bicycles. Since then, she has barely ridden hers while I have put countless miles on mine. I got a Woodlands, in medium blue. Last summer the bike was stolen from the porch. Since then I have been doing two things. I have been looking for a bike to replace it, either new or used, and I have been looking for my bike (on the chance that it is still in the neighborhood). My search for a new bike has been frustrating, because I seem to have two choices. Something that is quality, but with suspension and whistles and bells, none of which I want, or a basic frame that also happens to be cheap shit. Nothing I look at is what the old bike was – a solid non-suspended bike with good running gear and a reasonable price.

About two weeks ago, I spotted “my” bike a few blocks away. I was sort of planning to sneak over and see if it was really my bike and if I could get the serial number from it. But yesterday I saw a yard sale at the bike’s residence, and the bike offered for sale. I stopped and checked it out. It wasn’t really my bike. But it was the same make, model, color, and running gear. I gave it a test ride to see if it responded as my old bike did. It was like coming home. They wanted 30 bucks for it, and I paid up. The woman sort of sniffed about being sad to see her old friend of a bike go. But it will be going to a good home. I plan to keep it for years to come. I also plan, starting today, to keep it locked up.

Work Sucks

It seems as if management at work has embarked on a program of protracted and constant demoralization. Three rounds of layoffs are at the core of it. For me, moving between jobs is a part of this, along with having work thrown at me with no training or instruction on how the hell to do it. In some cases, being free to make up your own job is a blessing. This is not one of those cases. Then – obviously disappointed that they weren’t important enough to be laid off - a small number of people quit. There are no signs they will be replaced.

On top of all this, a further blow is being administered. By the end of June – so the rumors say – development will have moved back to the main building. Our current arrangement is pretty sweet. We are in space that offers plenty of elbow room and some amenities. Being across the street from the mother ship, we are close enough to communicate with the rest of the company when we need to, but far enough away to be buffered from constant interruption. (When development was previously in the main building, interruptions became bad enough that they finally had to lock the door during business hours and appoint one person as a gatekeeper to handle communications with sales, support and training.) I am already conjuring up visions of the extreme measures we may have to make to buffer ourselves.

Another factor is just the physical space. We will be losing the elbow room, our own lunch room, the conference rooms, etc. We will be pressed together cheek and jowl. And – worse still – there is a rumor that my team, the NXT developers and QA, will actually be sharing space with four trainers. I am not looking forward to this at all.

Visitors, Coffee and getting back on track

Today I am writing at the new coffee shop on the corner, where the old Cash Saver gas station used to be. They have been open about a month. It’s nice to have a place like this so close. It is also nice to see the property being put to good use. I talked with the owner’s wife a few days ago. She is the walking. breathing definition of MILF, with a daughter the same age as my youngest. Knowing this, I will carefully keep a safe distance.

Kate and Angie made a visit to Utah last weekend. They were here to attend the wedding of a niece. I got to spend a good part of the day Friday with them, then more time on Sunday. Friday was spent eating good meals, taking Tim up the canyon, then collecting Sally and Jeanie and hanging out at the new coffee shop talking. Despite Kate’s complaints, she still looks good and is a delight to be around. Tim becomes less feral the older he gets. With Angie losing her job, and the last of the severance package going away this month, they may be losing the house in Arizona. If that happens, they talk of moving back to Utah. I wonder if that will have us picking up the relationship where it left off, or forming a new one to take its place. Either way, I can’t picture the two of us just choosing to ignore the presence of the other.

Horus Oasis continues to vex me. I’m just not cut out for this Body Master thing. It is too much work. At the same time, I have trouble letting go of things and having other people do the work. I guess these statements form the core of one of the lessons to learn from this experience. Once I learn them, I will learn other lessons, then re-learn these lessons, and so on.

Last year, I had a few months during which I established a firm daily practice then recorded the results in a magickal diary. I noted that, even if the daily practice drew no marvelous results, just this habit of doing and recording made it a “good” month. Earlier today I got out the notebook I was using for this purpose and set down my goals for June. I will be doing the following, for a minimum of 20 days in the month.
  1. LBRP (or Daily Ritual).
  2. Either Yoga or Tai Chi (‘body work’).
  3. Work out.
I add working out to this because my weight never dropped from when I ballooned up to 200, and in fact has started to creep up a pound or two since then.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Smokin'

When my father was a young man, he and a brother stole a pack of cigarettes. They took them into the yard, hid behind a bush, and lit up. Their mother caught them. She asked, "You want to smoke?" The question hung in the air for a second, then she said, "Well then, you'll smoke." She then supervised as they finished off the entire pack.

Needless to say, these two young men never became smokers.

(They later asked their mother how she had found them out. Her answer: "There was only one bush in the yard with a cloud of smoke over it....")

When I was about twelve years old, I found a pack of Marlboro light 100's. I kept it for a few days, contemplating my options. Finally, I took them to my father. I told him I wanted to try them and see what it was like. (Realize - this all happened in a faithful Mormon family.) He found me a pack of matches and directed me to the back yard.

A few minutes later, green faced and convinced of the evil of cigarettes, my father told me his story. He knew enough to tell me to "Go For It" knowing what the result would be.

Not a smoker. Never will be.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I take it back

My bitch and moan from yesterday? I get to take back much of it.

Even as I posted, I realized I was being harsh. The person who called me wasn't saying, "This pisses me off and I want......". Instead, he was saying, "I think I need to talk to this other person, but I need help doing it in a way that doesn't cause offense or division." This is a very adult attitude, and I was wrong to complain about it.

I got a followup e-mail from this person. It showed them to be even more of a responsible adult that the picture I portray above. I need to spend an evening with with this crusty grouch, getting drunk and engaging in mutual bitching and moaning and whining. It will do me good.

Babysitting

I am minding my business last night (still savoring certain recent memories) when I get a phone call from a member of Horus Oasis.

"I'm upset with the actions of this other Horus Oasis member..."

Blah, blah, blah.

OK - The concerns are valid. The caller didn't want me to fix things, but was wanting insight before approaching the other person. They wanted to resolve the issue without any toe-stomping. This is all good. But.....

...for crying out loud, people. I am a Body Master of an occult organization that is supposed to be enabling us to get in touch with our higher - and hence BETTER - selves! I am not a babysitter, in charge of a bunch of middle aged preschoolers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A lesson on focus

I made it back to the gym today. Yea me! This is the second time since I got home from Texas and came down with that cold last month.

I can tell I am out of shape. My first trip to the gym, after 20 minutes I had to switch from running to walking. On this trip, I was ready to make the switch at 30 minutes. (My workout runs 40 minutes.)

But then something happened.

A pair of young ladies entered the section of the gym in front of my workout station. As one of them lay down on the abs machine, her shorts fell to the side and I saw the promised land shielded in white cotton. Yea, verily, it was more panty that I have seen in months. It was just the portion of the panty I would view if given the choice. Yum. It was beautiful.

For the next ten minutes of my workout, as the two girls continued to tempt me with occasional glimpses of white, my attention was no longer on my toiling legs or burning lungs. There was no call to walk instead of run. No. My attention was elsewhere.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cleaning house

The frenzy continues.

The Gnostic Mass equipment was all packed into the car and will find a new home tomorrow. Michael's possessions have been sorted and boxed and shoved into a corner. The newsletter for Horus Oasis has been reviewed.

With all of that, I still feel as if the day was only a partial success. No workout. Cat boxes not emptied. Dishes still dirty.

My hope is that the Mass Equipment is out of my airspace forever. With each load that walked out to the car, I felt less weight on me and more freedom in the house. My fear is that it will all manage to come back. We will see.

Michael will be home for Christmas, so he can sort through the boxes then. I think most of his stuff is here to stay. Too good to throw away, not good enough to drag into enlisted housing.

The renters are moving out of Kat's basement this week. We are supposed to make repairs this weekend. It isn't going to happen. Too many other things to do in Salt Lake and Tooele. So it look like my evenings next week are all going to be spent with cleaning and repairs at the rental. This may also scuttle my plans to resume my workout schedule.

There is too much life in my life and not enough living.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New sleeping arrangements

The old bed just wasn't doing it for me anymore. It was a homemade frame - for one of the kids, and meant to be first installment on a bunk bed - and held the mattress between 4 and 5 feet off the ground. I guess it was nice being able to put shelves and a small desk underneath. But 'something' changed and I spent the last three weeks avoiding it and crashing on the king size bed in the guest room.

So yesterday I took it all apart. This evening I performed surgery, put it back together, and I now have a bed that sits only about six inches higher than standard. It is something I can fall into instead of having to climb into.

I was never really utilizing the space under the old bed anyway.

I think cleaning out the temple space a few weeks back unplugged something in my psyche. The bed is just the latest in a small flurry of activity. I just wish I had more time to put into me, and less committed to not-me.

Getting traction, losing sanity

I am understanding now why they moved me to QA at work. I was finally able to latch onto something that allows me to build and run detailed reports, suck the results into a spreadsheet, then hunch over and examine the numbers while mumbling profane words and phrases. I have found my calling.

My first task in QA is to help develop reports our customers use to analyze sales and to compare against national averages. So far I have found the causes for damn near every discrepancy between the new reports we are building and the older reports we are basing them on. Better yet, some of the problems I found are problems with the OLD reports that no one else ever caught. It feels good to finally feel useful.

In other news, Horus Oasis also is gaining traction, but that isn't all good. The demands on my time are increasing, and I have no time to spare in the first place. Also, some of the increased demands are wonderful for the other people involved, but are doing nothing for me. I put energy in, I get nothing back out. (Instead of the O.T.O., I could be talking about a woman.) I think I am doing more from a sense of obligation and plain inertia than from desire. This is not good. I must spend time thinking about this.

On the other hand, with new people coming on board, they could be in a position to take some of the load in a reasonable time - assuming they don't get scared or bored before we carry their limp bodies out of their First Degree initiations and carefully nurse them back to health.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bachelor Chow

How to make Bachelor Chow.

Open a package of pinto beans that has been sitting in the south cabinet for....years. Dump into a large stew pot (12 oz??? 16 oz???).
Add much water, turn heat on low, walk away from it.
Have a friend in the O.T.O. call you about a plumbing emergency.
Turn off heat on your way out the door.
Drive north 50 miles, fix the damned toilet, drive back home.
Drain water, refill, turn on heat.
Get drunk.
Turn off heat and leave to soak overnight.
Sleep for 10 hours.
Drain water.
Add whatever was left in that bag of brown sugar that has been sitting in the south cabinet for.....years. About a cup.
Add two 12 oz cans of tomato sauce that have been sitting in the basement for...years.
Add contents of three Papa John's Pizza red pepper packets.
Prepare rice (2 cups rice that ahve been sitting in the basement for.....decades, 4 cups water) with rice cooker - the bachelor's best friend.
Dump rice into stew pot with beans.
Stir well.
Spoon into those damned 2 cup Glad containers that the ex-wife gets for free because they have lunch meat in them.
Freeze or refrigerate.
Take to work.
Microwave and eat in front of co-workers, causing them to pity (married) or envy (not married and can't cook) you.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Course Correction

Last night was an odd night. I had a visitor, and I could tell from the first moment how the evening would end. It wasn't the ending that was in line with my will. But I allowed it to happen anyway.

Events unfolded in orderly and predictable steps, and at any step I could have stopped and said, "This is not my will." But I did not.

It is a lesson learned. This morning I cleared my temple space. I created a large pile of laundry, and did much cleaning. I did what I could to clear and clean my living space. I am now putting my space back together.

A black candle burns in the Temple of Wombat. It was lit after banishing, and before re-dedicating the temple.

The 'what happened' part of the night is not the point. It could have been nothing larger than allowing the visitor to put Depeche Mode on the stereo when it was really my will to listen to Rush. The point is that the wants of the other trumped my own will.

Measures must - and will - be taken.

Friday, April 03, 2009

200 Grand and counting


It was episode 11, season 17 of The Simpsons. Principal Skinner gazes out the window of his office, to his car. It is, we learn, a 1995 Toyota Camry. 1995 was, according to Seymour Skinner, a good year for the Camry.

When I saw this the first time a laughed. I was proud owner of a 1995 Toyota Camry. I am still owner of this car, and today it turned over 200,000 miles (I-15 Southbound at the north Lehi exit).

I have put a fair bit of money into preventative maintenance for this car. But when I try to think of what has broken then been repaired, I come up blank. Do light bulbs count? The brakes needed work, but that was wear, not failure. Same with the struts. Try as I might, I can't think of a single repair of the "it broke" variety that has set me back more than 20 bucks.

The best $400 I put into this car was for a trailer hitch and a 4 by 8 utility trailer from Harbor Freight. Picture this. 800 pounds of "stuff" in the trailer. 12 hours of driving, across the Salt Flats and Nevada, over Donner's pass, then to Oakland, CA. Even with the trailer, I did better than 30 miles to the gallon. The car took it all in stride - just another day's work, just another commute.

As I once said to a friend, if you can't do it with four cylinders, it isn't worth doing. And the Malkuth-mobile has 2.2 liters of smooth, determined power running through a 5 speed manual gear box. Put it on Cruise Control and drive to the edge of the earth.

Killing the Joy

So here I was, moving into the new job. I got the news on Thursday, made plans on Friday, and moved to the new desk (in another building, across the street) on Monday.

Tuesday was starting to learn the ropes: getting to know the tools, the procedures and the personalities. So far so good. I even ripped a few tasks off the waiting list and did something useful with them.

Wednesday was setting up the new PC. This is nearly as fun as a physical move. Then I started into yet more testing, running parts of the new GUI through the paces. I was actually feeling productive.

Then came Thursday, and some news. One of the guys on the other QA team gave his two weeks notice. This left that team much shorter on resources than my team. How to plug the hole? Hire someone? No way. Move someone over from support? Not even. Wait! Let's move Andy!

Being jerked out of the new job just as I am feeling productive is demoralizing. Having to wait a few weeks for the guy I am replacing to actually go away is even worse.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Feeding on the flesh of the dead

The second round of Layoffs hit last Thursday. My morning began with a meeting with the boss. I knew my life was about to become interesting when the conversation started with this: "First, I want you to know that you still have a job." That was encouraging. But the tone was already obvious, and I knew this sentence would be followed with my favorite word: "But...."

"But your job has been eliminated."

After a few days thinking about it, I see what happened. Each department was given a number of heads to cut. Development looked at the big picture and realized one of our number was doing work for another department. That was me maintaining the Knowledge Base for customer support. So they started the process by deciding they could no longer afford to be so generous, and dropped my job, pulling me back into the department.

Then they looked at the people to cut. There were two rumors that went around, that seemed to reinforce each other. The first was that any person who developed a bad attitude or let performance slip in order to punish the company would be fired on the spot - no second chances. The second rumor is that the heads cut in this round were chosen based on looking at performance and attitude. In the next few days this was fleshed out, with the stories of individuals filtering through. This person passed up training opportunities. That person refused to take calls from other queues. The other person hung onto old ways of doing things instead of moving on to the new tools.

That last person was actually two people, and I am going to replace them. "Two for one sale. Buy one Disposable Wombat and get the work of two QA specialists." What bothers me is that one of the two QA people fired was a friend of mine. It made me a bit sick to know I am replacing him. I am taking the work of a fired friend, feeding on the flesh of the beloved dead.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Quick Math

Let's do some quick math...

Start with 100 Billion dollars. If you slice that up into chunks of $50,000 each, how many slices do you get?

Two million.

In big round numbers, how many Americans lost jobs in the last quarter?

Two million.

How about this for a stimulus plan: Put every person who loses a job on a $50,000 personal bailout. Assign an expiration to the bailout, where it pays full for a year, then decreases to nothing through the second year. Pay a $10 to $20 grand 'buy-out' bonus for each person who trades the bailout for a real job, then keeps it for a year.

So right when I finish the previous paragraph, the boss pulls us aside for a quick conversation. We laid off a few people today, in response to a small decrease in our customer base and revenue. That's the bad news. The good news - I still have my job.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Meatspace makes Headspace

The hopeless mood of yesterday carried over to today. But the resolve to get up and do SOMETHING also carried over. Laundry, cleaning, etc.

In a few minutes I will be heading to Kat's to work on a few small things, then a serious talk with Shannon (who is busy self destructing). Then to Tooele to put more energy into the house. Tomorrow is back to work, without coming back to sleep in my own bed. Then the gym, and home, and back .... here.

I realized as the struggles of the last few days that much of it is tied to this place. The mind ties a place to the actions and emotions most commonly experienced in that place. So I left the place and went to a new place. I got into a good headspace. When I returned to this place, the place itself brought me back to the old headspace.

Time to clean house?????

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A faint, ominous sucking sound

The train pulled into the station at 5:35 AM. Myself and three of my four bags got off the train and went home. The bag left on the train was a pretty useless bag with a travel pillow and a book in it. The travel pillow was used once and kept stabbing me. The book is already replaced. But it wasn't the greatest way to start my return to reality.

It got worse.

As soon as I was home, I went back to bed, then got up again at 10:00 AM. After morning ablutions, the sucking sound started. Joy, motivation, fresh outlook, optimism... All swirling around each other then getting sucked into the void. I lay down on the bed and thought....
  • The monkey wants to curl up in a ball and hide from it all. With a bottle of beer.
  • If I hide from it all, when the day is done, I will berate myself to having done nothing.
  • If I get up and do things, when the day ends I will berate myself to not doing enough and for doing the wrong things.
  • If I get up and do all the right things, and do enough things to feel it is enough, then I will know I entered a time warp where the work of three weeks happened in a single day.
Sometimes I hate my head.

So I got up and did stuff. Sure enough: not enough, and wasted time on stupid stuff. But at least I did stuff.

2009 is not going to be an easy year. It will be a year of much change, and I think I will come out of it well. I will learn some interesting lessons. But it will not be an easy year.