January 31, 2012
About, oh, 31 days ago, I made a resolution to take more pictures. I think I've done okay but it doesn't hurt that I got a shiny new iPhone for Christmas with a bitchin' camera and Instagram app. Yesterday I decided that I'd document my day. And here it is.
You can squint really hard or you could head to my Flickr stream to see them embiggened.
Are you a picture taker? Or do you own a camera that rarely gets dusted off?
January 30, 2012
My 2012 Bentley
I don't talk about work much. That's on purpose. While I enjoy it, frankly I think you'd find the details boring. But not long ago I talked about a Big Work Thing that lasted about a month and a half and sucked the life out of me. As it turns out, I learned something from that experience that surprised me a little.
The Big Work Thing was something that most wouldn't consider a lot of fun. It can be quite grueling. And it's something I have to admit I live in a little bit of fear of being asked to do. I'm sure accountants feel the same trepidation about an approaching tax season.
It doesn't matter what the Big Work Thing was. Think of it as building a car from scratch. I was given some parts and plenty of help but it had to be crafted by hand. The nuts and bolts were there but the engine and transmission had to be assembled. The well-appointed interior had to be measured and installed. The stereo had to have precisely the right sound. The paint job needed to sparkle and the chrome needed to shine. Everything had fit in just the right place and there were really no instructions provided.
This particular Big Work Thing wasn't just your average, run-of-the-mill Honda. No, this Big Work Thing was a Bentley, huge, highly complex, with lots of moving parts and pieces. And I pulled it off.
Here's the thing - I'm not scared anymore. Another Big Work Thing rolled across my desk yesterday. I didn't bat an eye. I just took charge of the garage, organized all my parts and workers, and started assembling. There's a certain - and, if truth be told, massive - amount of pride I take in this.
The other day, Mia and I had a long talk about what it means to learn things the hard way. It's rare when something is best and most effectively learned the hard way but this was one of them. That and the fact that sometimes you just have to trust yourself, believe that you're good at what you do, plow forward and ask forgiveness later if it turns out you were wrong.
Haiku For Monday #399
I'm pretty convinced
that winter took the year off.
Balmy in these parts.
January 27, 2012
The Weeklies #202
The Weekly Mental State. Frazzled (which is rare) and confused (which is not).
The Weekly Beer. Centennial IPA.
The Weekly Read. Ed McBain's 50+ volume 87th Precinct series has been recently reprinted. Now, I'd never read anything by McBain but I figured I should give him a shot. I'm so glad I did. The Con Man was a great police procedural but what's more remarkable is the wonder way in which is was written. McBain had a fantastic sense of humor that he wrapped around his stories though that humor didn't detract from the seriousness of the stories or the people in them. It was a brief book but he painted his characters so wonderfully I can see how they compelled people to read 50 novels about them. This is a fantastic book. I'm already reading my second.
The Weekly Music. Remember Nada Surf? No? You should. They just released their latest, the wonderfully titled The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy. It's chock full of alt-goodness. It's got hooks aplenty and is smart (though not quite Hold Steady or Fountains of Wayne smart). Define thumbs up.
The Weekly Television Addiction. Restaurant Impossible.
The Weekly Quote. "Even when there's a fire in Mitt Romney, it's just a weird electrical fire." - John Stewart
The Weekly Question. Do you know of any way to insert more hours in the day? Please?
January 26, 2012
I get an absolute ton of junk in my inbox. I'm not talking spam. That gets filtered, carted off to some deep recess of the internet, and I never know it's there. No, what I'm talking about are the product pitches, the unsolicited guest posts, the product review opportunities, and the pseudo-public service announcements that outnumber my actual comments by about three to one. I don't really mind. I know where the delete button is. But occasionally something comes through that catches my attention.
Your readers could help save a 4-year-old's life.
That's a hard subject line to ignore. Especially since I have an almost-four year old. So I read the email, clicked the link and read a little more. I read about Kyle, his aplastic anemia, saw his pictures, read about his love of whales and I was hooked. Kyle isn't asking for money. All he's looking for is a bone marrow donor...and people to spread the word.
The world doesn't need product placement or reviews or random bloggers pimping the latest Disney flick. The world needs Kyles.
January 25, 2012
The (Super) Powers That Be
Owen is obsessed with superheroes almost as much as he's obsessed with Star Wars. If there was a fictional universe in which superheroes, Jedi and Sith Lords co-existed, his head would explode.
The other day I asked him what his superpowers would be if he had them. He told me walking backwards. He'd be Walking Backwards Man. Apparently he and I need to do some brainstorming around the relative awesomeness of potential superpowers. I've already identified a few for myself.
Flying. I'd definitely like to fly. It would be awesome. Plus, I hate airplanes so I'm thinking that if I knew how to fly I could end up in Paris without starting to smoke again.
Hypnotism. I'd be able to hypnotize anyone, on sight. Using unparalleled mind control techniques, I'd turn bad guys into good, right wrongs, and force shitty drivers into giving up their licenses and buying bikes.
Singing. I realize it's not a superpower but every superhero has to have a real identity and mine would be a rock star. My voice would be an odd combination of Chris Cornell and Peter Gabriel. I would tour extensively but only when I wanted to and every fourth album I recorded would consist of covers of lesser-known, horribly underrated bands who needed the exposure.
Oh, and I'd poop money.
What would your superpowers be?
January 24, 2012
I awoke at 3:15 AM to the pitter-patter of little-girl feet. Those little-girl feet were attached to a little-girl body who very quickly and stealthily crawled into bed next to me, patted me on the shoulder and fell fast asleep. She was, no doubt, worried that I'd send her back to her room. I didn't have the energy.
I awoke at 4:15 to the pitter-patter of little-boy feet. Those little-boy feet were attached to a little-boy body who navigated his mother's side of the bed and, quickly and stealthily, crawled into bed on the non-Mia side of me, picked up my arm, placed it over his body and fell fast asleep. Then snored.
My kids excel at snuggling. Mia sets the bar high but Owen could go pro. And when they snuggle, they both have to be as close as is humanly possible. Which is why I woke up at 6:10 in a somewhat surprising amount of pain with a wrenched back, twisted next, a boy in my liver and a girl in my spleen. And Beth in Owen's long-abandoned bed.
Then my alarm went off. Despite the pain and the fact that I hadn't really had any sleep since the fateful hour of 3:15, I just stayed there. I was sandwiched between these awesome little people. They were cuddly and warm and they only wanted to be close to me. And I was okay with that.
Some days it's the little things. Some days it's the big ones. Some days it's both.
January 23, 2012
He's A Mean One, Mr. Gingrich
I need someone to explain the political appeal of Newt Gingrich to me. I just don't get it. And his win in South Carolina made me feel as if I was truly missing something.
As I see it, Gingrich is an egocentric, hypocritical, divisive, ethically-challenged cry-baby with a penchant for leaving critically-ill wives. And - full disclosure - I saw that while a part of me can't help but like the guy. Granted, it's a small part of me.
Now, many of these things cross over from opinion territory into the Land of Fact. Which should really scare Republicans hoping for a 2012 win. To nominate Gingrich is to lock up a win for Obama. And while I don't think there's any candidate who can beat Obama, at least Romney has a fighting chance. Also, I can't believe there's a serious political battle between people named Newt and Mitt.
I ask you - what am I missing? You know where I stand and I promise I'm not trying to pick a fight. I'm just trying to better understand.
Haiku For Monday #398
Today I choose to
be positive...at least for
now. Things change, tides turn.
January 20, 2012
The Weeklies #201
Have a listen or - download it or stream it in your browser - if you'd like.
The Weekly Beer. 21st Amendment IPA.
The Weekly Transportation Disaster. As I said the other day, I'll readily admit that I have absolutely no urge to take a cruise. But the whole Italian cruise-ship capsizing debacle cemented that reluctance.
The Weekly Read. I went old-school this week and downloaded a copy of Edger Rice Burroughs' A Princess Of Mars. The copyright's lapsed so it was wonderfully free. Now, there's a lot of Hollywood buzz around the new John Carter movie coming out from Disney that's based on the Burroughs series so I figured I should check it out. Sure, it's old-school science fiction but amazingly it holds up very well. I'll definitely read more.
The Weekly Video Awesomeness. Christopher Walken reads/reinterprets Where The Wild Things Are.
The Weekly Music. Gazpacho is an oddly named band. Especially considering that they're Dutch. But for an oddly named band, they record intensely beautiful albums. Night is a perfect example. The problem is describing it. Sonically, it's gorgeous. One of the best produced albums in existence. The vocals are haunting and the instrumentation precise and impactful. Beyond that, I'm at a loss for words. You'll just have to experience it for yourself.
The Weekly Television Addiction. I've mentioned Breaking Bad, right? It's hopelessly addictive like the meth the main characters manufacture.
The Weekly Question. How much attention have you paid to SOPA? And who do you think is right - the entertainment companies or the tech companies?
January 19, 2012
Time Stand Still
This month marked my ten year anniversary with my company. That's an amazingly long time if you really think about it. (I did. And it's a really long time. And that's a good thing.)
I went out with three friends the other night. We met for dinner after work. We're all very busy. It was amazing that none of us had to bail. We all started out in the company together around the same time. We all did similar things, advanced in mostly similar ways. Two of us are still there, two have gone to do other things.
I spend a lot of time here sounding old, saying things like time sure flies. I sound like a broken record. But, seriously, the pace of life continually astonishes me. Ten years and all the milestones that came along with them - marriages, kids, promotions, departures - is an amazingly long amount of time that seems to have passed by in a flash.
But you know what was awesome? Really, truly awesome? Catching up with three good friends, picking up conversations where you left them years ago, and reminiscing about times you'd almost forgotten. It was like - for a very brief time - ten years hadn't passed at all.
January 18, 2012
Do you cruise?
I've been watching this whole Italian cruise ship fiasco. It's pretty amazing. And how often do you see a massive cruise ship on it's side in the water?
I'm not the cruising type. First, I'm not sure I want to spend any length of time on a boat. Second, I don't like people enough to be trapped with them on a floating hotel crammed into a too-small room being told what to do. Introduce the element of, well, capsizing, and I'm pretty much done.
So, do you cruise?
January 17, 2012
No one ever half-asses a social media account. They either embrace it or allow it to lapse into disuse. For me, Facebook and Flickr are my go-tos. I use Instagram on my phone but only as a means to edit and post mobile shots to Flickr. I use Goodreads since I've forgotten to write book titles down upon completion. I've all but abandoned Google+ and Twitter.
And now I've gotten myself a Pinterest account.
If you don't know, Pinterest is basically social list-making. I don't know why it's so compelling but it is. And it's kinda fun. So far I've got lists covering a wide variety of stuff, from my favorite movies to the fact that Celine Dion creeps me out. And once you make those lists others with similar tastes come out of the woodwork. Not only is it fun but it's marginally validating.
So, check out my Pinterest site and let me know if you want an invite.
What social media sites do you actively use? And which ones have you abandoned?
January 16, 2012
Blankets seem to get named in my house. Not ordinary names like Frank or Ed. Frank is actually an imaginary British guy I made up who always tells my kids "I'm Frank and I like sausages" in a cockney accent. Ed was the name of my toilet in college and my University of Texas hat. No, the blankets are sensibly and obviously named.
For example, my big blue blanket that I've had since college is Big Blue. The blanket that a friend of the family made for Beth when she was a little girl is called Mommy's Blanket From When She Was A Little Girl. The giant red fuzzy blanket is called Big Red and the massive king-size comforter with all sorts of odd paisley designs is called Big Whatsit.
Two (or more) years ago, Mia gave up her princess blanket in favor of Big Blue claiming she would sleep under it forever. She thought it was cool that I'd used it in college and had it for, oh, 20+ years. She loves it and I'm happy for her to have it. Owen claimed Mommy's Blanket From When She Was A Little Girl six months ago. And because he's like me and likes to sleep under a dozen layers of stuff, he claimed Big Red last week.
The problem? Big Red was mine and, as mentioned, I like to sleep under a metric ton of blankets. So now I'm forced to sleeping under Big Whatsit with Beth. And I don't mind Big Whatsit nor am I averse to sharing with my lovely wife. But still...I miss Big Red.
Haiku For Monday #397
Sleep, sleep tonight and
may your dreams be realized.
We should live the dream.
January 13, 2012
It would be wrong of me to try and come up with The Weeklies. Every item would somehow be related to work. Because that's what I feel like I've done non-stop for essentially a month and a half. So that would be really boring for you.
Not like me writing about work is chock full of awesomeness.
Yes, I have back-to-back meetings for four hours followed by the obsessive need to catch up on all the email that I ignored for so long. But I'm done. As of close of business yesterday, my Giant Work Project is done.
Who needs a drink? I'm buying.
January 12, 2012
At the end of the day today, my Giant Work Thing will be done. Yes, after a month and a half of near-continuous work, I can sleep.
The other night when I rolled in late - just before the kids went to bed - Beth told me how they'd complained that I wasn't home for dinner. She told them that 98% of the time I am home for dinner and that we're all extraordinary lucky because of that. And she's right.
I've got a great job that I like and I'm good at. I get challenged to do things I wouldn't ordinarily do and supported so that I'll be successful. And that's not counting the support I get from my biggest fans at home.
That said, all I really want to do at this point is hit the couch, watch bad 1950's sci-fi movies for a few hours with a six-pack of beer.
January 11, 2012
Two more days. Yes, two more days of the Big Work Thing.
Thank god...any more would surely kill me.
(Yeah, so, totally sorry about the lack of anything remotely interesting but, well, as I tell my kids, you get what you get and you don't get upset.)
January 10, 2012
Dear Toilets of my House,
Oh how you betray me, oh toilets. I thought we had a good relationship. I peed in you. I flushed. You made everything go away. Now, I don't know exactly what I did but it seems that you've organized some sort of massive strike, some sort of workers revolt. Not a single damn one of you works with any - uh-hum - regularity in our house. One of you runs constantly for no apparent reason. Anoh
Not a single damn one of the four of you works with any sort of - pardon the pun - regularity. One of you runs constantly for no apparent reason. Another pipes up a few times after every flush. One randomly drips onto the floor. The last one, well, two words: ball cock. Yep, ball cock problem that I'll be damned if I know how to fix without ripping it's guts out.
Yesterday I had about 562 conference calls in a row about this Big Work Thing. By the end of the 325th I really had to pee. So I pulled the plunger that stopped the ball cock from working, put the lid on, opened the seat, peed, flushed, closed the seat, put the plunger back in and put the lid back on. Hell, I damn near just peed in the sink to save myself the trouble but then I realized that I wasn't drunk and waiting in line at a Kiss concert so I rethought it. But it was more complicated than peeing needed to be.
So, please, toilets, let me know what I can do to mend the fragile relationship we have.
Yours in Christ,
January 9, 2012
Four more days. Just four.
In four more days the massive project that I'm working on and am responsible for will be over. I've worked almost every day (including my birthday, Christmas and New Year's) since early December and I'm beat. Absolutely, truly beat.
But there are just four more days.
Please excuse the sporadic, nonsensical or absent posts between now and then. This is truly a sprint, not a marathon.
Haiku For Monday #396
Morning came way too
early. Please tell me this is
all just a bad dream.
January 6, 2012
The Weeklies #200
The Weekly Number. 200! Yep, it's the 200th episode of The Weeklies. You can't tell but I'm dressed in a tux drinking champagne at, what, 7:00 AM to celebrate. You'll just have to take my word for it.
The Weekly Read. I like Lisa Gardner. A lot. She writes some really solid mysteries and thrillers that don't read or feel manufactured and generic like so many do. The Neighbor is another great one featuring detective D.D. Warren. It's odd that what I liked so much about this book was the characterization of a little girl and her relationship with her dad. I have no idea of Gardner has kids but she clearly has a little girl somewhere in her life. She nailed the dialog, the attitude, and the little-kid elements.
The Weekly Ailment. My neck isn't working. I'm sure it's a combination of stress (you can't believe the week I've had) and sleeping in Owen's bed (it as a middle-of-the-night moment of weakness). But it hurts like hell.
The Weekly Podcast. Yeah, I keep running into things like work and work and even work that keep me from recording a podcast. I'll get back to that soon.
The Weekly Rude Awakening. Tuesday hit me like a ton of bricks. Goodbye holidays, welcome back real world. The only issue? I worked pretty steadily throughout the holidays. Big work project. That might kill me. Might.
The Weekly Questions. I have iTunes gift cards and no idea what to buy. So, what should be on my wish list?
January 5, 2012
I have a weird habit. When I'm working - on the phone, reviewing something, whatever - I find a piece of scrap paper. I rip off a piece, roughly square, maybe an inch or so by an inch or so. Then I roll it up between my thumb and index finger. I roll it over and over again until I'm pretty convinced it's stuck that way, like I had a paper fusion superpower (which, by the way, would be the lamest superpower ever). I do this until it completely falls apart (which they inevitably do) or I lose it (which is what usually happens).
I'm not sure why I do it. I'll chalk it up to a nervous habit. Let's face it - I don't have a lot of vices left. I don't smoke (I quit that almost seven years ago). I can't drink (that's generally frowned upon during the work day). Chewing gum makes me more nervous, not less. I don't have enough room in my office for midget tossing (plus? loud!).
What are your weird habits? Come on, spill.
January 4, 2012
Beth and I were channel surfing night before last and we ended up watching Intervention. For those of you not in the know, Intervention is just want it sounds like. They profile some addicted soul then stage an intervention.
It's an utterly heartbreaking. I mean, really and truly heartbreaking. And all I could do was think about my kids repeating holy fuck how do we make sure this never happens? in my head over and over again.
More frequently these days I'm positive that my kids live in a bubble. I know this because Beth and I actually hand-crafted that bubble. Made in America. Built to last. But kids can't live in a bubble all the time and be healthy. They don't experience the world that way. No matter how terrifying it is, they have to. To an extent.
We hear a lot of talk these days about the 1% or the 99% but we don't hear about the 50%. You know, the half of all kids in the country who go to bed hungry or the vast population of people living under the poverty line. Therein lies the dilemma. We talked with Mia a lot this holiday season about those who don't have as much as we do. I'm not sure Mia needs to know the truth but she can't think that everything is always unicorns and rainbows either. Bottom line - our kids need to realize that they're lucky not because we, as parents, have egos that need to be stoked but so they can grow up to be compassionate people, so they can give time and effort and energy to helping those that don't have much and contribute to a world in which the gap between eating breakfast and not isn't quite so vast.
The only way to do that, I guess, is to tell your kids the truth that they can handle and let them do with it what they will how you've taught them. The rest is up to them.
This parenting thing is hard sometimes. I suppose it won't get any easier any time soon. There will be boys and parties and girls and car keys and any number of things that will scare the crap out of me. But that's what we signed up for.
January 3, 2012
You Say You Want A Resolution
I usually avoid resolutions. I have a hard enough time doing whatever it was I planned to do over the course of a single day. Trying to set goals for a whole year seems like crazy talk. But this year I have, indeed, set some resolutions.
1. Exercise. I pretty much sit on my ass at home and at work. This needs to change. I weigh more than I ever have which actually isn't much of an issue for me but I fell, just, well, meh.
2. Eat right. This kind of goes with #1. And I already eat okay. I stopped eating pints of ice cream years ago, don't eat meat, and avoid most things with sugar. But there are still to many times when I settle for whatever's quick and easy as opposed to something that actually has, you know, nutrition.
3. Take more pictures. Last year the fact that I owned a camera (three, actually) seemed to have escaped me. I've resolved to take pictures every day, even if they're just quick shots with my phone. You can follow my progress here.
So, there they are, my goals for the year. Think I can pull it off? How about you? Got any resolutions you want to share?