11 November 2009

6.6 - No title, and for good reason.

This post has no title. I usually start with a good title and work from there--but not today. In her efforts to get me blogging again, my wife has been offering up potential titles all morning, and none of them are even slightly good. At the very least none of them sound anything like anything I would ever say--or write, for that matter--so the lame mess above is what you get.

The generic topic is, of course, "away." I could--and might--make note of how appropriate a topic it is, since it's been a year and a day since my last post. But to dedicate the whole post to blathering on about it would really defeat the point of having a blog, which--aside from the inevitable ranting--is (IMNSHO) to give your readers a bit of something to think about. Carrying on about how I've been "away" is just lame (not unlike me at the moment) and not worth thinking about, so we'll end that right here.

Since the focus of this topic is on things that occur "not at home," I have little to write about, as I have not left my home since returning from knee surgery this past Friday afternoon--thus the lame reference above (the lame lame reference, as it were). It seems as if there may be many interesting things going on in the world, but I am perfectly happy to hear vague references to them from my perch on the couch.

My time on the couch has provided ample time for reflection, which is tremendously appropriate as we approach the greatest holiday of the year: Thanksgiving. I'd like to think that I am adequately appreciative for most things in my life, but I am also quite confident that--for example--the effort my wife has undergone to ensure my comfort and happiness despite my situation will never be adequately recognized. It doesn't mean that I'm not appreciative, just that there's only so much you can do.

I am increasingly thankful for much that usually goes unnoticed and unappreciated--at least by me. Everything from driving to cooking, standing to showering, and sitting to sleeping has garnered fresh appreciation from me. I won't spoil your search for your own unnoticed and unappreciated things to be thankful for, just be aware that much of what we have to be thankful for definitely falls into the realm of the mundane. Boy, could I use a little mundane...

10 November 2008

5.6 - It came from beneath the sink... Again!

It's been one year since my last "Home" post. Seven posts a year makes me... well... not a very good blogger, but since the master bathroom isn't in significantly better shape than it was one year ago, I have much bigger issues.

Fortunately, there are two holidays in my immediate future. First of all, Thanksgiving is coming. Thanksgiving is, by far, the greatest holiday. For our family it is a week-long celebration that is pure joy. It is all about two things: family and food. Throw in a strange variety of games and contests, and add in discussions on a wide variety of disparate topics, and it is the most enjoyable week in my year.

The second holiday in my immediate future is Veteran's Day. This holiday is important to me for many reasons, but unfortunately the focus this year is on what I can accomplish, since I'm the only one in the house that gets the day off. I need to make some progress on that bathroom. Wish me luck...

22 September 2008

4.6 - Last shred of hope

I suppose that four months of job woes at the top of the blog is enough for anyone.

Much has changed in the last four months, some good, some not so good.

The one thing that remains is baseball. Seven games out; seven games to go.

It's time for a miracle only the Yankees could ever envision pulling off.

20 May 2008

3.6 - Trepidation Redux

I've been at my new job for seven months now. The best indicator of how it's going is probably the several boxes of work stuff that are still in my car that I expected to make its way from my old desk to my new one. I suppose that I feel that taking them in is a waste of time.

I took a purely technical software development job, since most of the management positions available were hybrid positions—half management, half technical—and some of my tech skills were a bit outdated. I figured I'd take a step back to get up to speed.

The technical part is going fairly well. I'm learning stuff and gaining experience—exactly what I expected. What I didn't expect was how frustrating it is to be a manager in a technical role working for a management team that doesn't seem to really get software development in a culture that's designed for failure.

With the domain knowledge needed here, it probably takes a year just to have any idea what you're talking about (notice I'm not there), yet the turnover rate is astounding. We lost three really good developers—cool people who were great to work with—within two months of my arrival—and the guy who interviewed me was gone before I got here. One new hire lasted a week. This week we're losing another developer, so of the four of us that remain, only one has been here longer than me, and the other two are plotting their escape.

It was the right job at the right time. That time is quickly fading.

If anyone is looking for a software development manager... <sigh>

13 May 2008

2.6 Larry, Moe, and Curly

It doesn't really matter what's printed on my ballot. Given the current choices, I'm writing in Ron Paul.

The time for R3VOLUTION is now.

11 May 2008

1.6 ...and ye shall find.

Topic #1 has become a problem for me lately. I tend to stall out when I get to it—in this case for almost two months. It's not for lack of material or lack of interest. It's because the things I want to write about tend to induce others to label me a "seeker," and frankly that is tremendously annoying.

When it comes to God, the "who," "what," "where," and "when" are the easy parts. Even the "how" isn't really a stretch when your God is as big as mine. This leaves "why" as the only truly interesting question. The first four questions are answered in Sunday School, when we learn all the Bible stories. "How" seems to be a study of the attributes of God. "Why" is huge—and largely unanswered.

Sure there are some decent answers to some of the "why" questions, but most of those lead to more "why" questions. The stock answers to the big "why" questions are lame, and usually come with the added "God's ways are above our ways..." line. I don't like that one bit.

Being the nerd that I am, everything always ends up in some kind of bad car analogy, so here goes...

Some drivers know enough about their car to get from point A to point B and generally keep their car running pretty well. Generally speaking, if it ain't broke, they don't fix it, but if things start to go poorly with their car they go to someone who knows more about their car than they do, and they get it fixed. If these drivers ask why the car was not working and how it was fixed, the answer they get doesn't necessarily make much sense to them, but they nod and pay and go back to their motoring ways. These people also seem to have a certain disdain for backyard mechanics.

I think many people look at their religion the same way, and they expect the same behavior out of me. They get offended if I ask tough questions, and they question my faith if I want to know "why." Does it really indicate a lack of faith in my car if I look under the hood? How is it offensive if I want to understand why my car works as it does, when that understanding can make me a better driver? Should I really apply the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mantra to my religion? Billions of people do, and they certainly don't agree with each other. Most of them are wrong—they have to be. They only think their religion ain't broke.

As we are created in God's image—and armed with the knowledge of good and evil—answers must be within reach.

The search for "why" is the greatest undertaking of mankind and is the source of most of the adventure in life. If I must take on the label of "seeker" to explore the question, then I will wear it proudly.

May I never cease seeking out answers wherever they may be found.

12 March 2008

7.5 - The Five-Year Plan

A couple days ago, I called the family together for one of my famous family meetings. It was, as intended, a short family meeting. I simply wanted to introduce a topic so they could begin to ponder it. I plan to revisit the topic in a few days after everyone has had a chance to mull it over.

The outcome was not exactly what I had hoped for.

The topic was simple enough: a five-year plan.

I simply asked each one to think about where they expected to be in five years so we could work together as a family to get everyone to where they wanted to be—physically, socially, spiritually, educationally... all that.

I thought it was pretty straightforward. My daughter will be 21, probably out of college and just getting into a career. My son will be 18, hopefully mid-way through his first year of college. My wife, I expect, will be doing largely what she is doing now—writing some, teaching some, wondering if whatever she is doing is really what she wants to be doing—that sort of thing, and I figure she'll pick up some new activities, like begging for grandchildren (until she realizes that it would make her a grandmother, then she'll be torn).

I expected my kids to realize that maybe they should start making some changes now to help them reach their goals—or maybe what they really need are some goals. I expected my wife to start thinking about her personal dreams so that maybe we can start to work on making them a reality.

As for me, I had already started thinking about it. My five-year plan involves a significant chunk of land and maybe a garage with a loft area (to make weekend trips to "the property" kind of like camping without fighting weather or dealing with setting up tents) and a few motorcycles. Maybe a cool project or two. A big garden.

Unfortunately for me, I also mentioned some other things, like the coming recession, the falling dollar, hoarding silver, electric cars, and getting off the grid. I think I also said something about windmills.

After that it wasn't pretty. The aftermath was a combination of mocking and depression: "Oh, no, you're not one of those people, are you?" "What will I do without my babies?" "I don't know what I want to do with my life!" "Are you going to start stockpiling weapons, too?" "I have no skills." "This makes me rethink everything I'm doing."

Yikes. In the few days since this event, the mocking has subsided a bit, but the depression has lingered a bit as well. I suppose some good has come of postulating a question. It seems that my daughter has embraced the culinary arts, while my son may be going the music route.

My wife continues her quest for the perfect direction, but has now peppered it with musings regarding new children to call her own, apparently aware and concerned by the grandma angle, but no less fearful of life without kids.

I don't know if we'll ever get back to the second half of that conversation. I just don't know if I can subject myself to it again. In any case, it was educational, and it certainly made them think.

I suppose what I've learned most is that it's best to think about the future quietly and alone.

08 March 2008

6.5 - Calgon

Four months since my last entry. I think that qualifies as being away. I have reasons. They may not be valid, but I have them.

A quick check of my posts from four months ago reveals that I was working on the master bathroom, supporting Ron Paul, trying to deal with a new job, and teaching my daughter to drive.

A quick check of my life now reveals that I'm still working on the master bathroom, still planning to vote for Ron Paul (I'll have to write him in. What other reasonable choice is there?), and I'm so frustrated with the new job that I'm about ready to start looking for another new job.

At least the daughter is driving pretty well.

I realize that the "Away" topic is supposed to be about... well, whatever I want it to be about, but the idea was to supply witty/insightful/sarcastic commentary regarding things observed when not at "Home." Sadly, when I look "Away," most of what I see is depressing or frustrating. I'm sure this falls short.

In the world "away" from my "home," the country is electing complete idiots to run the place, the media has taken over thinking for the masses, and the financial system of the US is falling apart as we watch.

In the world "away" from my "home," the tax people are holding my refund because of a form they lost. I faxed them the missing form, and when I called a week later to make sure everything was ok, they put me on hold for half an hour (until 5:02 PM) and then told me I really needed to talk to their business office, which closed at 5:00. Several days and several phone calls later, they finally acknowledged receipt, and now they say they'll get to processing the no-longer-missing form in about a month. (They say they put a "priority" status on it. That's why it will take "about a month." Before they put "priority" status on it, it was going to take "more than a month.") It only has two numbers on it that aren't zero. It took them more time to tell me how long it would take than it would have taken just to process it. So I wait.

In the world "away" from my "home" that I call "work," we are supposed to be... nevermind. Let's just say I'm beyond frustrated, and half my meeting notes are notes to myself on things I should change on my resume.

And now tonight I get to lose an hour of sleep.

I'd better go to bed before those nice young men in their clean white coats come to take me... away...

06 November 2007

5.5 - It came from beneath the sink

OK, so that's one of my favorite fake horror movie titles, but in my case it's pretty close to accurate. Not the sink, though - the tub. And the it is... um... me.

Posts have been rare lately as I have started a new job, have plenty of work to do with promoting the business, and—as the title would indicate—have been working on replacing the tub in the master bathroom.

The current state of things is that the tub is in place, but not connected. The walls around it have been stripped to the studs. I replaced some rotten wood, and have some rebuilding to do. The drain is almost complete except for the part where I go under the house and cut off an old fitting and glue the last three pieces of PVC together. That's what I should be doing now. I'm stalling.

The whole issue is of greater importance because starting Friday and running through Thanksgiving, we have three sets of relatives coming to visit: my parents, my in-laws, and my sister-in-law (and her family). It will all be wonderful—except for the part when there are eight of us trying to get a shower in the one remaining bathroom.

So... my mission is to have the tub operational tonight, and the shower working by tomorrow. It won't be done, mind you, but it will work. There is a lot of tile work and such in my future, but if there is water coming from the showerhead and all that water goes down the drain, and I'm done by tomorrow night, I will have accomplished my mission.

OK, enough stalling. Cover me. I'm going in...

23 October 2007

4.5 - Shotgun

It would seem natural to use this episode of the "play" topic, to talk about how I'm getting ready to sit out on the patio by the fire watching the Yankees play in the world series, but I can't. There are issues.

First, outdoor fires have been banned here due to lack of rain. Second, the Yankees aren't in the world series. Third, it looks like the Yankees won't even exist after George gets through firing (and insulting) everyone.

So... I'm preparing to watch the world series from my couch, rooting for the Rockies (my second favorite team is whoever's playing Boston).

While I wait for the series to start, I have taken on a new extreme sport: riding shotgun with an inexperienced teenage driver.

There is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush when "No! Don't! Stop!" is heard as "No, don't stop." Or when "You are a little too close [to the edge of the road]" is interpreted as "You are a little too close [to the center of the road]."

I don't know how the feeling compares to an attempt to break the Cannonball Run record (NY to LA in 31:04!), but I'm thinking it might be close.

I probably should go ahead and order the replacement passenger side mirror now—I can't see it making it through too many more of these excursions.

12 October 2007

3.5 - Relief and Trepidation

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." - Seneca

Today is my last day at a job I've had for seven years. I don't think there is anyone in the building who has been here longer than I have.

I am sad.

I am relieved.

Monday is my first day at a job I just don't know enough about. I really don't much like being the new guy.

I am anxious.

I am apprehensive.

Today I feel bold, brave, and empowered.

Monday I will feel nervous, fearful, and confused.

Today I am surrounded by friends.

Monday I will be surrounded by strangers.

Today, and on Monday as well, I will go home after work.

I'll be ok.

10 October 2007

2.5 - Hope for America

I have recently noticed many events of tremendous significance. At first glance, they seem irrelevant, meaningless—even boring. I contend that they are not.
  • My Ron Paul 2008 bumper stickers came yesterday.
  • I put one on my car.
  • There was not enough space in the non-wiper area of the rear window, so I actually had to put it below the window on the actual painted surface.
  • I have only seen about 10 bumperstickers relating to the 2008 election. All of them have been for Ron Paul.
It's a short list—it could easily be longer.

These events are significant because:
  • I donated money to a political candidate.
  • I don't put stickers on my car unless I have to.
  • Especially not on the paint.
  • I'm not alone.
These events are significant because they are far outside the norm. I have noticed that when my actions change, and there is any early indication of similar changes in others, the overall effect of the coming shift is enormous.

There are things that I like that aren't popular—but I don't expect them to be. There are also popular things that I don't like—but I understand why they are.

I am rarely first on board. I'm not the first to get a cell phone, first to get broadband, first to like (or hate!) a company, or first to embrace any new technology. My "everybody is going to want one of these" or "why does anybody do business with that company" moment is usually pretty well timed. My interest usually occurs just before the tipping point to mass acceptance. I don't usually notice it until well after the fact.

I have agreed with some political candidates in the past. I've engaged in discussions on political issues and the positions held by those running for office. I've voted for libertarians that I knew could not win. I've seen my chosen candidates summarily dismissed by the media, effectively silencing them and making them largely unknown to the voters.

Until recently, I simply had to admit that the politicians that I could support simply weren't going to win. Even when I agreed wholeheartedly with a candidate, there was just nothing to be excited about. This is different.

Very different.

08 October 2007

1.5 - Not your father's God

Recently I have been accused of advocating views that are opposed to Christianity. Maybe that's not quite accurate. Perhaps the accusation is more that when the Christian perspective on some subject is being touted, I can be relied upon to give voice to the opposing view. This is particularly of concern to some when children are involved.

Some believe that this is due to a personal crisis of faith. These people are wrong.

While I certainly have my share of issues, belief in God is not currently one of them and my faith is strong. My issues are with all the human interpretations that I've been led to believe that may or may not be accurate—those I'm working through.

Because of my issues, I suppose I find it unconsciously necessary to ensure that alternate views, opposing ways of thinking, and the world's perspective on the subject at hand are examined.

What I believe has in the past been what my parents, my church, and my school believed, and for reasons that weren't always clear, but were never questioned or allowed to be questioned—or at least it seemed that way to me. I want to believe what I believe for better reasons and with a willingness to examine the alternatives. If my belief can't stand up to questions, what good is it?

How can I "be ready always to give an answer for the hope that is within" me, if I haven't prepared for the questions? How can I love the Lord with all my mind if I refuse to use it?

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of religions. The vast majority of those who practice a religion do so because they have been taught to do so by their parents. Most are discouraged from seeking truth, and are even taught that to seek truth outside of their religion is sin.

Any religion that discourages its followers from examining all the religious views of men, including those that say there is no god, must be afraid that there is truth to be found elsewhere. If there is truth to be found elsewhere, should it not be sought?

If my God is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I fear no opposing view—I welcome it as one more opportunity to showcase truth and refine my beliefs. Much of what is impressed upon us religiously as children is unimportant—actions born of convenience or tradition rather than truth. Many things I have believed in the past have fallen away. The important things have not.

While I certainly want my God to be my children's God, I do not want my children to choose Him for that reason alone.

25 September 2007

7.4 - The End is Near!

Pay no attention to the title—ok, well, maybe *some* attention—I'm just trying to take advantage of a trend I've noticed. It seems that of my seven topics, the two that garner the most response are "God" and "The Future." I must semi-logically conclude that people are really only interested in the Apocalypse, and the rest of life happens only as a means of reaching that most interesting end.

Since this falls sort of neatly into "The Future," here we go!

So, are we destined for some kind of apocalyptic end?

God-fearing folks (not all of them, mind you) have believed that theirs was the last generation for 2000 years now. Every generation could point out all the reasons why the end was near. I have a copy of "88 Reasons Why Christ Will Return in 1988," if you care to see it. I believe the sequel was called "89 Reasons..."

What is the point of an apocalyptic vision of the future? Is it a tool used by religion to keep the populace in check, on the edge of their seats, ready for judgement at any time? Is it the perceived natural conclusion of increasing political turmoil used to maintain some semblance of world peace? Is it simply a great device for science fiction? (Post-apocalyptic sci-fi rocks!)

Is the end of the world the end of the world, and if so, is it close enough to care?

I know what I was taught. I know what I've observed. I know the many opinions of others that have been relayed to me. I've studied all the theories. I've read many of the books.

Regarding the future and my personal end the conclusions are quite clear.

I'm going to be working on the house.