Friday, July 29, 2005

Being There is NOT Being There...

Recently I’ve been taxed to a limit, and I broke. I have spent over 12 weeks now, every one of them on the road to some destination. usually, my single serving friends are on flights between seattle, LA, or the ‘nerd bird’ flights to santa clara at 5:30 in the morning, typically 3-4 hours after I went to bed. at first one things this is exciting, an adventure. its something to look forward to., the excitement of new destinates and new places….but it takes its toll. after these few weeks (and a few more weeks of this schedule)….my life has started to unravel. but I also notice something else, an ability I have gained through age and experience to identify the problem and solution at hand. the traveling must go down. I am losing myself. and I wonder about all the other people who spend all their time in the air….who are they now, and what may they be running from? for if it has effected me this much, to the point that I can feel the darkening of my soul… the others feel it too? and what about the toll on the relationships around…does it speak to their strength or their weakness, both of the individual and the relationship, to sustain such a bludgeoning?

and I can see it, sitting right before me is one of those decisions…door #1 holds more travel, more ‘career growth’ and more exposure. door #2 holds those things I hold dear that its so easy to lose a grip on in these times. people close to me have noticed my absence, and notice it myself. BEING THERE IS NOT BEING THERE, and that was the creeping sensation I have been feeling on my back. but I know when I look into her eyes, that my absence has taken a toll, and is changing things in ways I do not want. and so I must fix it.

so I made some decisions over the weekend, on my trip to the water rafting town of Maupin, Oregon. and I made a few more on my trip to the ghost town in the eastern Oregon desert. and on the trip to seattle. I am appreciative of this time to contemplate my mistakes, for it will allow me to minimize them in the future.

I will take my priorities seriously: these are my friends, my family, and most of all those who depend on me. i love my work and would like to continue to do it constructively. and I must grow in new ways, ways that I have neglected, and this will allow both my relationships and my work to flourish in the way i desire.

I am glad I was raised the way I was….and to a large degree moved by heroes in hollywood. we can all choose who and what to worship, and contrary to popular belief they do give us things to aspire to along with the rest of the junk they toss at middle america. its about the courage and willingness to fight the odds of Rocky, the ability to perceive deeper in Dune, vice in excess in Requiem for a Dream, belief in the seemingly impossible in Creator. these things all burn inside you, like tattoos on your soul, and they shape you for the future. later, you recall these moments of time, these snapshots, and draw upon them for decisions that you must make as a man.

Book Review: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Freakonomics, by Stephen J. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

I read a relatively new book over my trip to Virginia and haven’t had time to jot down my thoughts. it seems this economist has taken the world by storm and found several phenomena that he has drawn a variety of conclusions that seem sensible at first. however, upon thinking about them, I start to wonder. for example, the sumo wrestlers cheating…could it be that the guy who had no chance to win the tournament just naturally reacted to this news and behaved a bit different than he would have? is it all that weird that people that come from uneducated backgrounds and are pumped priorities by capitalist messaging that they demonstrate willingness to subject themselves to financial duress in the hopes of extraordinary financial reward (hello….try grad school, its like the army but you work for the military several degrees removed). it’s the same freakin’ thing and I’m not at all surprised they make minimum wage at the bottom.

I guess in a way, I feel like I’ve been duped. and I’ve read this type of thing before. it’s a persuasive essay, and it’s the same style that C.S. Lewis used in Mere Chrisitanity. he explains things from his side and you’re just so swept away by the writers linguistic acumen that reviewers fail to use actual judgment in rendering a decision.

it was an interesting perspective, and an interesting read, but I find myself wanting of a critical dissection of several sections of his observations. captivitating me doesn’t mean I believe you. but I respect you, and it does mean I will listen to your side of the argument.

yes, good to read, but skeptically.

3 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Its All Politics

The full title is Its all Politics: Winning in a world where hard work and talent aren't enough, by Katherine Kelly Reardon, Ph.D.

I wish I read this book about 7 years ago. too young and I would have failed to understand its significance, but after 7 years at the same place with the mentors I have had (you all know who you are), the information contained in this book has been internalized through experience. this is not to say its not worth the read or to have on one’s bookshelf as a refresher. in summary, the author contends that it is not what you know but it is who you know and how you relate to others that will have a greater effect on your success. based on my experience she is correct, and I’ve seen it in action. working at a large high tech firm I see absolutely brilliant people who are passed over because they lack political savvy. sometimes, this is an active choice, in others it is a motivational choice. the certain thing is that those who make thinking politically part of their lives generally have more success than those that don’t.

this book is written for people who are just starting out their careers or who have gone to public school and have noticed their career growth not as rapid as their peers. all the private school kids know this stuff already. and if you think you are going to make it on your technical talent alone, you are wrong and should listen to the dr.

one surprise in this book is the end. most business books end up being a few ideas in the first 20 pages, then beaten to death and double spaced to occupy an entire 200 pages. this author actually has some of her strongest and most useful writing for EVERYONE in the last 2 chapters of the book which I would recommend to EVERYONE and make it worth the purchase price and reading time. the rest of the book is a skim for those that have been around awhile but great stuff for the beginner type A who played too many video games as a kid.

3.5 out of 5.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


destiny is not decided by your weaknesses, but instead how you respond to those weaknesses once you become aware...

Monday, July 25, 2005

weekend in bend

we spent the weekend of july 23rd/24th mountain biking in bend, oregon. this is a shot of the crew after the first day hanging out at one of our favorite spots to go before heading back up to the campsite and crashing hard. there were over 10 of us, and everyone was in bed before 10:30 after our ride through phil's trail system!

this is the first photo posted with my new RAZR camera phone! i transferred it successfully using a bluetooth connection to my IBM T40 laptop. took about 10-15 minutes of googling and help systems to get it working. much better images tan the older 320x200 phones.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

my new motorola RAZR

bought myself a new black Motorola razr last week. I really invested in an entire slew of communication tools. since my previous 3 phones have all been nokia, IÂ’m very invested in their product lines and had to make the transition to the new phone, so hereÂ’s the breakdown:

$199 for the phone (I got a $50 credit by asking, so i actually paid $149)
$99 Motorola HS105 headset (works great so far, $20 rebate right now)
$25 for a car charger
$25 for a charger to keep with me for travel
$25 for a nice little case IÂ’ll use for awhile

so basically, I had to shell our around $375 to make this transition seamless as possible. however, steep learning curve, new phone, new bells and whistles, etc.

now, as I mentioned, the phone is absolute gorgeous and feels wonderful in your hand. I haven't yet figured out all the features, and there is some stupid AOL instant messenger stuff built into the phone, wired right into my start screen (how annoying can that be, and I thought this was supposed to be a status symbol...AOL?) anyway, the phone has been quite a conversation piece, as should any new piece of technology until the next coolest phone comes along in 2 months to knock this one down into the heap of progress in a throw away society.

the camera: I love the camera. now, I just have one with me in my pocket, I can just use whenever I feel. its empowering. and this is a full 640x480 image which is pretty darned cool.
the Bluetooth headset: so far, seems to work very well. the other day I was in a conference call for work and I was able to wander around my condo and leave the phone on the table in another room and it worked great. that was impressive. and to dial, its sweet, you can just push a button on the phone and say a previously recorded string (usually the persons name) into the phone and it will dial them. no more looking through the phone book, very excited about this feature. true, many phones have had this, but I just figured out speed dial on my last phone about 6 months ago so I am a late adopter of the voice activated technology. as I can tell this phone can stay inside my pocket while the headset can be the only device used for general calling purposes.

I still need to figure out how to xfer the images on the phone to my computer or over the phone's network. IÂ’ll post some images later once I figure that out.

travels to busch gardens

road a slew of roller coasters at busch gardens in Williamsburg, va. I haven’t ridden coasters in YEARS, so this was especially exciting. a few things to maximize level of fun: ride at night, in the dark, and in the FRONT of the coaster. that’s an INCREDIBLE rush. also, going at night is great because there are NO LINES. my favorite coasters were the alpengeist and the big bad wolf, which has a crazy 99ft. drop, which turns sharply at the bottom, a totally crazy rush. Another new ride was curse of the dark castle. this was a VR experience: using stereoscopic glasses you ride through a bunch of stereo displays as your cart moves to a set of displays throughout the ride. the climax is a virtual drop from very high up that felt VERY realistic. all in all a great experience.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

travels in virginia

I’m in Virginia for a week this summer to attend a wedding and do some visiting. A collection of random observations along the way:

7-11 middleburg, va:
in one small town in northern Virginia around exit 27 on interstate 66, we enter a small town. there’s not much going on there, which is part of its charm. I notice the rotund woman who runs the 7-11 as she spruces up the coffee area and we engage in small talk about the flavors they offer along with the various tools of personalization—various powders and liquids to dump into your mug to hide the taste of your coffee. it struck me, that me and this lady, we’re able to engage in dialog for 10 minutes, when we seemingly have nothing in common but coffee. like spectating sports for the simple minded, coffee is some kind of substance, like einstein’s ether, that allows us to travel across our sociological separation to find something in common. I see two young kids behind the counter, representatives of the future: register 1 is a bored teen who had previously explained to the older heavyset woman what activities were involved in closing the store the night before. register 2 contains the white boy rapper persona: speaking quickly but with long pauses in between his sentences, southern accentuated rapper boy goes into what he was up to last night with the mop and all, you know G.

at the 7-11, its just been so long since I’ve hung out in a convenience store, I think I spent 20 minutes in there…just soaking in the culture there. so many people wandering in from the neighborhood. when I was a kid in indiana the store was called quality quick and it was right down the street. we used to hang out there, grab ourselves a few 25cent little Debbie snacks (can you still believe they are a quarter???) and harass the employee. was open 24 hours, which means we could sneak out at 2am and wander down there and chat with the folks who stop by. most often it was teens buying smokes. they sold LOTS of twinkies and snack cakes too, and later in life we would find out why.

just outside the 7-11: two homosexual black males sitting in their mini van trying to find their way on a map (the homosexuality presumed by their public displays of affection). out in the street, car drives by with the dukes of hazard horn which goes off twice…America is fusing this tension together, the melting pot as dynamic as it ever was, and me…I’m off to spend the night in a house where nobody is home and the owners I’ve never met. all I’ve got is a combination to the garage door and a warning to not let the dogs out when I go in. in the morning, and I still don’t know the name of this hospitable suburbanite in northern Virginia, but if you’re out there, whoever you are…thanks!

travels at the 1763 inn in upperville, va (july 4, 2005) :

spent last night in a little inn in western virginia about 20 minutes from the w. va. border. turns out the inn was formerly owned by george Washington. western va. is beautiful. its quiet too. none of the suburban sprawl and traffic that permeates northern/eastern D.C. area. Apparently, we were instructed by the caretakers that the room had a resident field mouse that was not to be disturbed. anyway, it was a nice quiet place there, with a pond and everything, actually built in 1763. this place had character. no tv’s in the room (sweet) but a tiny little fridge in the bathroom. water came from the well out back…we were a long way from any sort of public water works potential. its exactly the kind of place one can wander to regroup and recharge. works been kinda insane lately, with my manager deciding to take another opportunity along with some other members of the team being out for one reason or another. I really only seem to feel I need a vacation about once every couple years, and this was one of those vacations, and the timing couldn’t be better since we just finished the mid year review process. anyway, having a few days out in the country like this is very relaxing.

during the day I took a short 4 mile run down the street here. its was more challenging than I anticipated, immediately developed a blister on my foot L. I hope this does not impact later running adventures.