Awful day.  Just awful.

At work it was annual review time and there’s never enough money or accolades for those deserving of money and accolades.  At one point during the week I actually thought I might be cracking up.  Like, there’s too much to do cracking up.  Because I had a full eight hours of work every day, I have not checked email (no, like really not touched it) since Monday.

When I last checked, there were close to nine-hundred unread messages in my inbox.  I’m not exaggerating.  Nine-hundred.  I have allocated the first six hours of tomorrow morning (this week I have been arriving around 6am to get some extra hours) to killing the inbox.  I will find a private place where people can’t get to me and I will respond to mail all morning.  Six hours of email.  This is how I make bread.  This is my worth.

The day reeked.  Reeked.  I hated it but I struggled through it with folded hands, propriety, and a smile.  Tonight was beer with an old friend.  Reparations, perhaps.  It was a welcome nightcap to the day, and set me in a much better mood for the end of the evening.  Actually I feel great.  I am eating potatoes out of a ziplock back with a fork.

Sorry no writing this week.  Remember, it reeked.


deadbeat baker

For a lark on a bored rainy Sunday Keaton and I decided to bake together.

I don’t know who likes baking together more… because, man, I get some serious enjoyment out of it.  I like “teaching” Keaton how things go together to make other things, and we enjoy experimenting with recipes by brainstorming what might taste good as additions.  This Sunday we kept it simple and made sugar cookies.  Partway through rolling out more dough-balls and baking the ones we’d already put on sheets, she wondered if adding cinnamon might be good.  “Let’s try it,” I said.  I let her work a liberal sprinkling into the remaining dough.  When we’d rolled a few more balls, Sharaun got home and suggested we use cookie-cutters to make some cool shapes.  Keaton chose hearts.

In the end, the hearts were too thin and burned in the time it took to cook the regular cookies.  Even that was OK, though.  Gave me a chance to explain about the beauty of trial and error.  Next time, we know that rolled-out cookie-cutter cookies are too thin and only need to bake for about half the time.  Live and learn.

Now if only the recipe hadn’t made five-thousand cookies.  Sharaun, the more diligent of us in the realm of calorie-limiting, has been steadfastly ignoring them.  Meanwhile I feel I have an imperative to consume them… I’m responsible for their existence, after all.  I don’t want to be a deadbeat baker.  I’ve got the Tupperware thing right next to me, a little glass of milk on the arm of the couch to my left, and I’m wondering how many times one person can lie to themselves about “Just one more.”

Gosh, I sound like a chick in this thing.  I’m gonna go smoke a cigarette and drink beer and watch sports.


new headphones again

I ordered a pair of new headphones for work.  My old ones are beginning to disintegrate, or biodegrade, or simply disassemble themselves to protest the long working hours.  Every few years I need a new pair.

I would estimate that at least 60% of my workdays are spent in meetings.  I’ve written about it before, but meetings are a large part of what I do.  Of those meetings, probably 75% are taken via phone.  This means that I sit at my desk with a little wireless headset, muted, often only distractedly paying attention, listening for keywords while trying to get real work done at the same time.  Sometimes I have to give 100% attention, maybe 40% of the time.  That’s a lot of percentages, and it makes me think there’s an equation in there which could give me an idea of the ROI I get from these things.  But I digress.

When I’m not on meetings, I’m listening to music.  I log onto the Subsonic server I have running at home and I stream tunes right from the machine in my closet.  While it never really happens, you can bet that if there were a day where I had zero meetings that that’s also be a day where I listened to nearly eight hours of music.  There are no moments, aside from meetings, where I’m not listening to music.  Because music is so ever-present in my working day (heck, in my waking day, for that matter), a good pair of headphones is essential.  I paid $80 for this latest pair.  German jobs; an audiophile rig although I didn’t realize this when I bought them.  They just looked comfortable and I like comfortable.  I don’t want active noise cancelling, but they have to be over-ear (“circumaural,” says the package) and they need to have padding at the top so they don’t dig into my bald head.

I am trying them out right now as I write.  Sharaun is watching American Idol but the room is dead to me.  I’m using Grooveshark to evaluate a bunch of new records which I’ve heard people say are good. They are comfortable and they sound good so I’m happy I bought them.  I’m not happy I spent $80 but I suppose if you amortize that over years I hope to use them before the biodegrade or disintegrate or whatever it’s not bad.

Why even publish this?  Makes the month count look better.  Goodnight.

home from oregon, that is

Hey happy Tuesday internet.  Or Wednesday.  Whenever this gets posted.

Spent most of the night working on the blog I setup for Keaton to document the RV trip.  I get pretty silly about making it look and feel just so, and tend to spend way yonder too much time tweaking.  I think, however, that I got it just how I want it.  I also spent time mucking with my cellphone and laptop, getting things just right so we’ll be able to use the cellular signal/network to post from the road when there’s not a proper internet hookup available. I like to think that I’ll have energy and desire to update the page as we travel, but I also have doubts.  And again, yes I am obsessed, quite so.

Flying home yesterday we were the Van Winkle family. Each one of us, from the biggest and strongest down to me took advantage of the snap-quick flight from Portland back home to sunny California.  Cohen napped in Sharaun’s arms and Keaton fought it as long as she could, long enough to get her apple juice – you better believe that.  I was out with my paperback in my lap, I never even cracked the cover, and Sharaun with her head on my shoulder.

Three times on planes now I’ve had a front row seat to a guy having a stroke.  It didn’t happen yesterday or anything, but when I fly now it almost always crosses my mind sometime during the flight.  It’s a horrible sight, the muscled rigor and robotic vomiting and bulging full-of-fear prisoner’s eyes, stuck in a body that’s plain-out short-circuited.   I once watched it happen to a gentlemen just behind me and across the aisle, his wife was seated next to him and was first to notice something was amiss.  I turned to look as I heard her calling his name, at first with simple curiosity and later, by the fourth or fifth time unanswered, with panic ’round the edges.  You know that special “thing” you have with your mate, the “thing” where, with just a glance or maybe even conversation over the phone, you can tell something’s not right.  I imagine this wife having that feeling about as intensely as one can as she began to realize her husband was stroking out.

The poor guy was as stiff as a board, muscles standing out in knots like his whole body was a Charley horse.  His fingers were clutched in claws, and I could see his slacks straining against his clenched thighs.  His teeth were clamped shut but his lips were parted just a little in this confused and pained expression.  And his eyes, maybe that’s why the memory is so clear in my head, I can see his eyes.  I remember at the time, as I stole my quick glance at the poor man and his wife, that there were two likliehoods behind what I saw in those eyes.  One, the man’s eyes were the only part of him still “connected” and outputting the right readings.  Two, his brain had shut down and frozen them as they were, stuck.  Either way, they bulged and just looked terrified.  At the time I could almost read them, “Oh dear God what is happening to me?!  I can’t talk; I can’t move; there’s an electrical storm in my head.”  He vomited copiously through clenched teeth.  All this I saw in the span of one or two quick backwards glances; I didn’t want to treat it like entertainment.

Once in the third grade Sarah Bean had an epileptic seizure in class.  I was off to one side of the room and only heard the commotion, not really seeing the action.  I can remember Mrs. Forinash talking to the aide in the room, hollering about, “Hold her tongue!  She’s choking on her tongue!”  At the time I thought choking on your own tongue seemed about the most impossible notion in the world to me.  Everything turned out OK, however, but it’s another one of those indelible things scored into my gray matter.  Sometime shortly after Sarah’s mom came into the classroom and talked about epilepsy and what a seizure is; I remember being fascinated.  Poor Sarah Bean, whose body had turned against her, just like these unlucky fellows whose relays and synapses revolted on them while we shared a flight together.

I honestly have no idea where this all came from.  Something about flying home from Oregon.  So… maybe I meant to say, “We’re home from Oregon.”

And… we are.  Home from Oregon that is.  Goodnight.

if i ever get it by the collar

Sharaun’s at the gym, pre-dinner.  She cooked half of it, readied.  Then she caught her spin class.  I tried a spin class once and found it daunting; I had to fake some of the effort, I couldn’t hack it.  Never went to another one; prefer self-motivated gym activities (laziness, to be sure).  Keaton and Cohen are on the nursery floor, rolling around playing with each other.  Well, as much as a four year old (one week left, I’m gonna count every day before the Lord takes another year) can play with a seven month old.  She’s wonderful with him, really, keeps him entertained and watches out for him.  I’m listening to a 1968 record called Salvation by a band of the same name.  A San Franciscan outfit that lasted long enough to make two records of psychedelic rock, had one hit with an A-side called “Think Twice.”  Obscure, but pretty good.

What a squandered three-day weekend.  A buddy asked me to go camping with him and his son in Death Valley, said to bring Keaton and the kids could have a blast.  The drive would’ve been long and the time in-country short, which is just the sort of “camping” trip I despise, but now I wonder what we might’ve missed.  Oh I had a lot of fun.  Hung out with friends, spent time with the family, a lot of good times.  But maybe camping in Death Valley would’ve been spiritual or removed from it all.  That stupid leave-it-all-behind nirvana I’m always after.  The same nirvana that I’ll be chasing to every day’s horizon behind the wheel of thirty foot RV come June.  Maybe that same nirvana I’ll be hunting until the end, or maybe not.  I’ll let you know if I ever get it by the collar, I sure will.

Friday night we did dinner and games with friends.  Had an old-man’s fill of beer, four, and woke the next morning with a headache.  Sad stat of affairs, that.  Saturday Sharaun was working a race (like taking official times and handing out water or something) with a friend, so the friend’s husband and I took ourselves, and the four children left in our charge between us, out to an early breakfast.  Breakfast turned into a day of leisure hanging around the house together, even once the ladies got back.  That afternoon we took the older kids over to the college practice field and launched model rockets.  They played on the softball field (it was muddy and loose from all the recent rain) while we packed up the equipment.  Sunday we gave a little praise to the Creator and had another fine home-cooked meal courtesy of friends.  Monday, Monday we did nothing.  Met friends for lunch, attempted to take the family bowling (place was packed, every lane taken and an hour wait), and read a lot of my book.

Been a while since I wrote something like this… the boring “what we did” thing without flair or fiction or whatever.  At least it’s words and words are what make this site go.  Goodnight.

let’s not trivialize

I’m really bothered by my posting frequency.  I used to get four days a week, now I’m getting two or maybe three.

Work shoots some nights in the foot, making even a limping attempt hard.  Other nights I simply re-prioritize.  Maybe playing a game with Sharaun and Keaton or reading instead (reading consistently is such a fleeting thing for me that I choose to feed it first).  Tonight it’s work; although the 8:30pm meeting isn’t as “disruptive” as some of my later ones.  It’s OK; I’m earning a wage and all and that’s a good thing.  One of the many other nights, I spent outlining.  I want to write a book; have wanted to for some time.  I’ll probably never finish, but I got an idea.  A friend of ours is doing it, or maybe has done it by now, I find that encouraging.  All my ideas were limp, but then I got inspired.

Did you know that Cohen, our other kid, the new one with the still-soft skin and still-soft hair and still-toothless gums, can roll over now?  He can.  Been doing it, like a boss, for about a week. I think that this is, probably, a bit “behind schedule” as as American parents say.  Although I find the notion of child development adhering to a strict “schedule” somewhat presumptuous and maybe a little insulting (can babies be insulted?).  I’ll tell you what, Cohen himself could care less; I’m confident of that.  You get into that kid’s brain and you read his thoughts as he hears you say to another mom, “Yeah, he’s rolling over now.  A bit behind, I know,” and you’d hear that kid think, “‘Behind’ what, fool?  I just rolled over, did you not see that?  This is the greatest single achievement of my life.”  So let’s not trivialize; my kid is amazing.


maybe the wine did help

It’s not “writer’s block.”  It’s not.

It’s a day filled with too many other things, most of virtue, sure, yet “other” as compared to writing.  A shame, because I love writing and get all bummed when I can’t do it (either because of lack of time or writer’s impotence; the dreaded ‘ED,’ essayist dysfunction).  But you’ve heard it all before.  I got glass of wine, 6oz, I measured the pour first in the marked measuring cup (because ounces, bravely “out” and batting for both teams as liquids and solids, have always escaped my comprehension as a meaningful measurements).  There are apparently some ~130 calories in it.

A single calorie is something like the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of some defined measure of water one degree, maybe that degree is Celsius, maybe Fahrenheit; it does matter.  In what surely has to be some of the most convoluted math ever, if you burned this 6oz (wet ounces!) of wine, and placed one gram (or whatever) of water above the resultant blaze… you’d apparently raise the temperature of that water by some “meaningful” number.

The wine was an attempt to maybe whet the pen, or keyboard.  So many great writers are also great juiceheads, you have to wonder if there’s something to it.  I will never forget the feeling I had reading The Sun Also Rises (who cares if you’re supposed to underline that per MLA standards, I think underlining on the web when something’s not a clickable hyperlink is stupid; italics is more effective).  It’s such an alcohol-soaked tome, you can feel the pervasive state of drunkenness that enhances the clique (maybe fogs them, too?).  It’s funny, I’ve told Sharaun before how, when I read books about people who are abusing substances, like The Sun Also Rises and On the Road and Ham on Rye and The Naked Lunch, I feel an undeniable draw, almost a longing or an envy or maybe a sense of “what-if” wonder.  Same thing watching terribly depressing movies like Leaving Las Vegas; there’s something dangerously attractive (to me, at least) about selling your soul to the junk.

I don’t think this is what they call an “addictive personality” or anything.  If anything it’s more akin to how young boys dare each other to jump over big holes or spraypaint cursewords on their math teacher’s van (looking at you, Desi) – some kind of “bad is fun; broken rules are thrilling” adolescent mentality.  But anyway it doesn’t matter, I’m not here to write about my fatal attraction to mood-altering chemicals, I was writing about how I poured some wine to see if it helped me write… better.  I suppose better is subjective, and I don’t need to conduct a scientific experiment to tell you that there’s definitely some BJT-esque saturation region where the sauce wrecks and ruins the creative process, so… is there a conclusion here?

In the end I don’t think the wine helped, but the idea of drinking wine to help did help, so maybe the wine did help.