Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Weather Outside is Delightful

It's almost noon on a semi-lazy Saturday. The rain is coming down pretty steady now. It's a cold rain. I know because I had to go out and rescue a cat that fell out of the window and then got scared. That was pretty amusing. I didn't see the cat actually fall, but then to see Mr. Big-Tough-Boss-All-The-Other-Cats-Around mewwing pitifully unsure of what to do next. It has quieted down, some, though. Rachel's down for a nap and Lori's at the store. It will soon pick back up, though. In the den, I've moved everything to the center of the room and covered with plastic. As soon as I'm done with my break (drinking some nice hot coffee my parents sent) I'll go find the blue tape and cover the floors with plastic and then begin priming the walls while Lori makes goodies. Simultaneously, Lori's mom is at her place also making goodies. Later today we'll take them to local fire stations. Usually they do it on Christmas day, but it was just too hectic this year. So it's a nice quiet relaxing moment. I look forward for more of these kinds of moments, sitting in a comfy chair holding my mug of coffee and staring blankly out the window at the rain once we get to Seattle. As for now, back to the coffee and then back to work.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Tip of the Day

Ok, this is an easy one. Just file it away for the next time you find yourself in this situation.

IF... you rear-end someone.

DO NOT get out of your car and start explaining what it was that was taking your attention away from the road.

NO ONE BLOODY CARES.

Instead, be apologetic and start offering money.

(Since I know you'll ask... the Santa Fe takes a licking and keeps on ticking. A quarter-inch scratch is all you'll see from the jackhole in the Cherokee who drove faster than us at one point coming up to the Festival of Lights.)

Headache Inducing Fun

The site (link above) is somewhat interesting -- this guy in Germany has created flash images to show 60 different visual illusions and phenomena. Some of these caused me headaches, but overall, it's very interesting.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Maybe I'm not creative

My creative writing is sad. Or at least my little "120 seconds of lit" concept is. I seem to always do the same thing -- try to hint at something and then tell you in the end what it is. I don't know if that's predictable or formulaic or what. I'm going to have to think about this...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Another day, more not done

Today was a really frustrating day at work. I learned second or third hand of a bunch of work that would soon be coming my way by people who didn't understand my job. Someone tried to work on something that affected me but gave up halfway through and went home unbeknownst to me. In the realm of diet, I did rather poorly. Though given the choice at dinner I had lemonade instead of a soft drink. It was a small price, but it was a start.

As we were leaving Rachel's school friends called who we've been trying to connect with for the longest time. We told them of our plans and they said they had toyed with the idea of Portland themselves. They seemed happy for us, but with twins coming in a matter of days, they were also disappointed that we wouldn't be around to see more of their little ones' new lives.

The visit kept us out until Rachel's bedtime so I'm not sure how much work, if any, we'll get done tonight.

120 Seconds of Lit 3

That was a funny place, he thought. That's not normally where you'd expect. He shrugged and shuffled off to get some coffee. He wondered if maybe he was just imagining it. He rubbed his eyes. Nope, it really was a cat. He measured out the coffee, poured it into the coffee maker, added water and pressed start. He cocked his head and stared at the cat. The coffee maker began to hiss as the coffee began brewing. He wondered if he should try to dislodge the cat or if at some point the cat would let go and fall from the ceiling where it hung, scared by who knows what.

(The words "cat" and "coffee" courtesy of Lori.)

2006

My friend Mark's asking on his blog what people's plans are for 2006. Of course, this is something I've already been thinking about, what with my summary of 2005 and the fact that everyone thinks retrospectively at this point in the year, but also projects optimism and hope.

So what's 2006? It's the year of me. At least on here, it will be. My goal is to be more retrospective, and to more frequently assess how things are going. I'm hoping at the end of 2006 when I go back and read what I've written over the past year, that I'll see more consistency. To be sure, life will change and things will occur, but I hope I can accept them into the context of where I'm going, rather than allow them to bat me around the room like a pinball. I will not flit like a butterfly, I will not careen like a car out of control bouncing from guardrail to guardrail.

The themes have all been there... family/friends, health/diet, spirituality, career, creativity/hobbies, current events, but I hope that in the new year I can more accurately capture them here in this blog and keep a more even keel, be it calm waters, or pounding through ice caps, that this new year will be the year I put the pieces together.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Now, Now, Now

Looking back over the year, I realized how much effort I put into a diet earlier in the year and how excited it was, it seemed like one I could stick to, until Rachel's birthday came along and I abandoned all hope after that. (Because I'm dumb.)

I realized why diets fail me so much. When my car looks awful, or I need to shave, or I get behind in the bills, I can quickly get caught up. Of course, each time I resolve to not get so shaggy, not let my car get so dirty, or to sign in to money more than twice a month. Even haircuts... my hair is too long right now, but this weekend I can go to Supercuts and everything will be set straight, my problem solved in less than 10 minutes.

Sadly, diets don't work that way and my problem with patience and lack of willpower make it difficult. Perhaps those are excuses, but they are also reality.

I'm gonna try to get back on the wagon, in small steps. No major radical change like Kevin's plans for the new year, but I'm gonna start small. I'm going to give all of the Reeses peanut butter cups that I got for Christmas to Lori. She really likes them a lot more than me, and if I give them to her, they're not going in my mouth.

In reality, I didn't do so poorly over the holidays. Don't get me wrong. I did horribly. But at the same time, I didn't really gain any new weight. I did the usual yo-yo to the exact same weight, though this time I did lose and gain more just to get back to the same spot. The worst part is we gave away the exercise bike, planning to buy a new one once we've moved.

So let's see what I can do with my poor willpower and lack of patience. If Seattle is a new start, let's see if I can get a jump on that in the next two months and actually have something (or less of something) to show for it by the time we move.

Cheers.

2005

My friend Kevin did a year-end recap of his life, excerpting his own blog to look back on what has happened. I thought it was such a great idea that I immediately made plans to copy the idea. Why not? Everyone from Comedy Central to MSNBC.com will have a year-in-review. What I quickly realized is how many things actually didn't go anywhere. For a few months, I was faithful to a diet. A few times I attempted to break the mold and be creative for creative's sake. The only common thread among the blog was probably unhappiness and reminiscing about a different time in my life.

I reconnected with people I hadn't spoken to in years, I encouraged friends to start and maintain blogs. (Why no new posts, Allison?) I provided my own commentary on a lot of news events, whether you cared or not. My blog wasn't well read, but that's ok with me. I know that the people who read it are close to me and mostly weren't people next-blogging in order to leave me comment-spam.

At the beginning of the last year, I announced that I didn't like resolutions. I never have. But in what now looks infantile and stupid, I closed out that post by saying

But, if I must, maybe I will resolve to be more awesomer than I was last year. I don't know how possible that is, but that's something I can shoot for.

Looking back, that has not happened. There were good times and bad times with the wife and I think in our current plans we've reconnected, built momentum and are really strong and tight right now. I hope to keep that up into the new year. The little one grows in leaps and bounds, almost daily amazing me, but certainly, bringing me joy by the hour. I've really come to appreciate family, especially family that was new to me 6-1/2 years ago. I've really come to love the idea of big families and look forward to next year when we are able to regularly surround ourselves with lots of family.

The job situation is still troubling. I think the single biggest topic last year was my dissatisfaction with my job. In some ways, perhaps that's to be expected. Not so much the dissatisfaction, but how much my blog looked at it. For most humans, we're defined by our jobs. Usually one of the first questions we ask each other upon introduction is "So, Bob, what do you do?" Now, I'm at a crossroads. I do not have an answer to that question. I am job searching in one state while my current employer considers the idea of having me telecommute after the move. Were I to accept, I would continue to work for an employer who gave me a lot of grief this past year, but it would be for a greater good. On the other hand, I'd be breaking my own rule, something I wish they would adopt, but so far they haven't.

But the move to Seattle is exciting. And very scary. As we move into the final week of December, we have a lot of work to do. The laminate hardwood floors in the den and dining room are done, the hardwood refinishing in the rest of the house is done and looks so beautiful. All that remains for which I need outside help is the kitchen cabinets and new linoleum. The rest is all on us... repainting trim, patching some damage to a wall, erecting new walls, replacing a door and quite a few light fixtures, hanging curtains and the list goes on and on. And then there's the need to probably find a new job, the first long-distance airplane trip with the baby to house-hunt.

But how did I get here? Here's a quick look back.

January - Was it the start of something? Was it foreshadowing?
...But I find it interesting that people down here underappreciate Seattle because of the rain. But as I write this, I can imagine Seattlites cursing me. Shut up! We don't want the California people up here! Shut up!...
February - This month saw me get a year older, fully into my thirties. It rained again, and I felt homesick for life in the late 90's.
...I wonder what it would be like to live somewhere where it rains all the time. I remember a lot of rain in Seattle, but I don't remember it ever being like this. Apparently, statistically, it usually isn't. I guess I would own some sort of coat that repelled water, to start. I do have to say that the rain sounds really neat outside right now, now that I'm happily back indoors and very quickly getting really exhausted. It is nice to have the hot water heater (I still need to fashion a new exhaust pipe) done, it seems to much more open in the garage without the large box taking up space. Despite the project taking way too long, I think he knew what he was doing and I don't think it will explode or leak all over and make our house moldy, so that's good...

...I've come to realize that I've missed a few things and not even realized it. One, I've missed driving at freeway speeds. My morning commute in the carpool lane maybe gets up to 35. My evening commute, not that fast. Two, I miss driving my car. Most of the time I drive my wife's small SUV; I don't get much time behind the wheel of my Intrepid. Three, I miss driving after dark. Married with a kid kind of limits how often one can just get on the road at 11, 12, 1 or 2 am. It just doesn't happen, it's too hard to find a solid reason. And finally, as much to my surprise as anyone's, I miss the valley...
March - Apparently the sun came out in March...
...But now, when things are going really well, I'm not sitting here going "What could I have possibly done to deserve this?" Sure, I made an extra effort to be really nice and grateful to the AAA lady and the tow truck driver last week when I had to have my car towed, but I still drive to fast, get irritated too fast and probably spend a little too much time each morning at work reading the day's headlines. I really can't have done anything to deserve this, nor could I possibly believe that I had anything to do with this. It could be God, giving me a period of sunshine, or it could just be life going smoothly for the moment. Or, it could be part of my attitude... the thing about trying to be nicer and more social to people, beyond what it takes to conduct a transaction. Or maybe it's just a nice time....
April - Was the world about to end? That was the fear of a dream recounted.
...From the room, we could see the ocean. There were dark angry clouds in the sky. Pure white clouds or steam stretched from the ocean to the clouds. But, there was one opening. In that opening, the wind kept whipping up and swirling trying to form a tornado. It would, but kept loosing steam almost immediately. There were lots of silver birds flying around the area and you could see just the purest blue through the opening. Someone said that it was the kind of color you could see after a nuclear blast. But, we were facing the Pacific so I didn't know what that meant, or even what I was looking at....
May - Apparently in May I tried again at weight loss... it was my best attempt to date, a really great strategy called "There Will Always Be More Cake." The idea was that I would identify all of my problem foods and then each week I'd only be allowed to eat one of them if it was offered. That did actually last awhile, but not actually produce any results whatsoever. I may try it again, though.
...The family's been sick and the really twisted hours didn't help any. Nor did access to mostly bad-for-me foods. Even though they were supposed to be off-limits, I ate cookies, ice cream and doughnuts last week, and consumed several dark sodas, mostly just at the end of the week when everything went screwy. And, I paid for it. Probably about half my gain was lost (or half my lost was re-gained, depending on how you look at it.)...
June - Diet continued to be a big issue, but I also began to wonder if I was doing the right thing at work.
...But I'm wondering lately if it really isn't my purpose in life. Sometimes lately, I've started feeling like my purpose in life is to sit down and shut up. I could continue to see what was messed up, continue to know the best answer for solving it, but that it was not my place to try to fix it, that I should just accept the mediocre, the broken and the less-than-optimal, just as the rest of the world accepts it, often blindly missing the fact that things could be better. It's very unsatisfying....
July - The downhill slide continues...
...Every day my colleague and I waste so much time fantasizing about quitting. Although I'm not sure if he's being serious or not. I know he's at least half-way serious. He's lucky, that boss isn't his boss. My other boss is his boss. My other boss shows up in the office for maybe 20-60 minutes a week, spends most of that time on the phone working on consulting gigs and always leaves us hanging because he doesn't fully trust us, so all of our tasks are waiting for him to finish stuff. But his wife's a flight attendant, so he gets free flights, and he buys alot of stuff for work on his own credit card and gets reimbursed but gets to keep the Hilton points, so he's always flying places and stuff and we never know where he is. And his boss is completely oblivious to that fact. It's pretty annoying...
August - I finally give up...
...Which is why I've adopted a new motto for work. I DON'T CARE. I am not on leadership. I do not possess independent thought. I am a robot. I will do as i'm told, to the letter of the law. There is no spirit, there is no correction, this is no other possible way that could possibly be better, because if there was, someone else would have thought of it and told me to do it. I will not think for myself. It is a hard pill to swallow, and I'm finding it actually takes more work on my part to disengage my brain when I arrive at work. But I'm trying. It's a sad, frustrating world I'm trapped in....
September - And in September, I challenged God. Give me some kind of sign. The absense of a sign (anything!) means it's over. Led to some lively debate over whether or not God works so obviously in people's lives, butI don't think anything was ever solved, but I did take the lack of anything whatsoever as proof. A separate moment later on never made it into this blog because it was still under wraps, but maybe I should recount it later today since people keep asking about it.
...Crunch time. God, I already told You this in prayer, but I'm gonna put it here, too, in case You're reading blogs today. 40 minutes. If I don't have a super-huge-major completely-obvious no-doubt-about-it sign that You need me here at this job at this church, then I'm moving up the timetable. I cannot believe that it's in Your plan for me to be here and miserable. I need some beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt-proof that you need me here, or it's time for me to move on. 36 minutes.....
October - In the end of October, it did. I couldn't say it then, but the decision had been made. The clock started ticking. Even the blogs changed colors to symbolize that things were changing and I closed down the LA Traffic blog.
What if everything changed? I think that would be good.
November - The beginning of the end as we unravel things. This month I also started a separate blog where I can speak a little more freely about things I don't want to haunt me later. Nothing about it is tied to me and this is the only time you'll even hear me mention it.
The ambience of Islands is wonderful. I've lost track of how many different ones I've been to, but the experience is consistently great, a terrificly done tropical escape from the world around us. Last night we had dinner at the Islands in West Covina. It was sort of a last hurrah for us. Islands, we'll miss you.
December - The pieces were there, but cohesion was still lacking as the month began, though the picture began to become clearer as the month progressed.
...It feels like the impatience has come to an end, that we're now rushing madly towards something. It's like we were shown the box, and then it was poured out from the top of the Space Needle. All the pieces are there, but the task of getting them all togther seems both daunting, scary and nearly impossible. I know for my part, I have not been working hard enough. It's been really stressful and I've taken breaks when I could have been working on it. I'm worried that I'm not good enough and my failure is what's going to keep it from all coming together. Not to mention that we're trying to squeeze the contents of a 1,100 square foot home into much smaller amounts of space as we clear rooms to have flooring done or redone. And everyone else is sick. It's all very draining....

So what's next? I'm going to try to get back to the diet, back to the creativity, and maybe some more regular introspective and real posts, not just commentary on the news.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas, one and all

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I've never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it's December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the treetops glisten,
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright.
And may all your Christmases be white.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Little House of Horrors

Ok, I'm cancelling HGTV and DIY Network from my satellite company, not renewing This Old House magazine (a gift from my parents) and throwing away all my tools.

Victor has made me hate home improvement, contractors and all things change related.

We are hoping to stay in our next home for 20 years. This one we had hoped for five-to-seven, but that didn't work out now, did it? I'm sure that during that time we will again embark on home improvement projects. However, this time we will be smarter, and willing to pay more. The workmanship on the laminate floors that have been laid is great, the work on the drywall plastering isn't. I am hoping for good things with the refinishing of the hardwood floors.

Yesterday we had to leave work early and come home and box things up because Victor is a bully. He tells you one thing on the phone and then tells my mother-in-law something entirely different. I don't know if he thinks we won't talk to each other. But he also hides behind the language barrier, speaking really unclear and broken English and has a really awful headset on his phone that makes him even harder to understand.

Then when the carpets were pulled up, there was a big section in the middle where you could not have done a worse job patching a hardwood floor if you had tried, as well as a bunch of stuff stuck to the flooring. They're sure it will all come up and that they can successfully repair the damaged area(s), but I'm wondering if someone was killed here. Probably just too much CSI, but just weird looking at the marks on the floor.

I'm also struggling with the feeling of inconvenience, stress and loss of freedom. Basically I feel like it's a whine but I am also suffering from really poor sleep. All the moving meant that I had Burger King for lunch and Taco Bell for dinner. Lots of soda. We're (3 humans and 4 cats) now living in a 250 square foot room with boxes towering around us while another 250 square foot room is filled to the brim with boxes. The dog also lives in there. As does a fully decorated Christmas tree, now hidden behind a bunch of boxes. Lori's gonna have my head if we're not able to put everything back in its rightful place before Christmas.

Those feelings are a struggle because I know that there are lots of people who don't have houses. I don't just mean someone in a foriegn country, or even a homeless person, but even people we know who want to buy a house but can't. We have an extreme luxury... we have a house. Add to that good enough credit to be able to pay people to make it even better so we can sell it for even more money. It just makes me whining feel petty and stupid.

I guess I'm going to need to resolve today to fight through the sleepiness, maintain a great attitude and be grateful for all that we have, but really not think about the house, because even without the house, we have our health, good weather, each other and if it all comes down to it, I could sleep on the couch in the garage, the other couch in the carport, or either of the two cars.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Northward, Ho

The news is now official.  

We're heading  
to the great white north,  
or points nearby.  

Early next year  
we'll be relocating to Seattle.  

:)  


If the horrid home renovation project ever gets done and we're able to list the house.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Maye Case So Far

THEAGITATOR.COM -- Lori first told me this about this a few days ago, but I found this great website today that kind of summarizes the important parts. Basically police raided two sides of a duplex late at night on Dec. 26, 2001. They were specifically after a guy living on one side who was a drug dealer. He was arrested without incident and a large quantity of drugs were immediately siezed. The raid on the other side did not go so well. A cop busted into the bedroom of a man who opened fire, killing the cop. The black man's 18-month-old daughter was also in the room sleeping at the time. According to reports people started shouting "police!" and he immedialtely dropped the gun and raised his hands above his head and surrendered. The guy was stolen, but police are sure he obtained it legally from a friend. He had only been living in the duplex a few weeks. The white cop's dad was the police chief. According to reports, it's somewhat unclear as to when the second duplex was searched, several times are written and crossed out. Eventually it says that the search yielded a small bag supposedly containing drugs and three smoked cigar buts with traces of drugs in them. The man who was arrested as the drug dealer was never actually charged as a result of the raid. The other man, however, is now on death row awaiting execution, though everyone who's talking about the case believe he's innocent, that he was defending himself and his infant daughter (Rachel's age) at the time, that police did not identify themselves before raiding his apartment, or if they did, he did not hear them because he was asleep. More...

Monday, December 12, 2005

What's Wrong with this picture?


Two things:
(1) If you read the caption to the right of the photo, it was too late by the time you got to the disclaimer.
(2) They need to update their advertising code, it should be fairly simple to eliminate items that have the "picture not yet available" placeholder graphic showing. I mean, who's going to click on that?

And, just a reminder, if you click on that story, and then you read the "Turkeys" article, you'll get to read what I wrote on page 2.

Another Dream Squashed

MSNBC.com -- It was supposed to be a new contender, it was supposed to shake things up and be a signal of things to come, that the old guys didn't own everything. Well, I guess it didn't pan out. Yesterday the other-other mega-media corporation, Paramount, announced that it was puchasing DreamWorks SKG (sans animation). More...

Vote for Megan, pt. 2

Megan won!

Thank you so much for supporting Megan and voting for her in the office makeover contest at MSNBC. We checked the Web site this morning, and she won the first prize of $10,000 to use in her classroom.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8985887

Thank you for helping out. She couldn't have won without you.

Stephen

Friday, December 09, 2005

Freaking Scary

href="http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/12/06/1102182227308.html">THEAGE.COM.AU -- Scientists in Florida extracted 25,000 neurons from the embryo of a rat. They were suspended in a solution on top of electrodes. The bonded together and then, via the electrodes, were taught to manipulate a flight simulation program on a computer connected to the electrodes. More...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wasteland of Impatience

"It's in the waiting that God prepares for our dreams to come true."
That was a quote from a sermon I heard with the title above. I thought both the title and the quote were really great. They came from a the pastor of a college/young adult service in Virginia near DC.

Their college/young adult service was started the same year as ours, but theirs is now over 1,500 weekly attendance and ours is less than 100, nine years later. They both meet at the same time, Sunday nights, and theirs has the added benefit of sometimes being held or not held because of temperatures below freezing and/or blizzards. The pastor who started that service was originally from a big church south of us here in L.A. and only took that job after a lot of prodding and calls from the church back east. He's now back in the southland at another church where he's the senior pastor. The guy who retired from being that church's senior pastor is now our church's weekend teaching pastor while we look for a new senior pastor. Small world, eh?

Anyhow, all this has made me think of the logic puzzle with the nine dots arranged in three rows of three dots. You're supposed to draw four straight lines, without lifting the pen, and cover all nine dots. If we just stare at the dots, it's impossible. But if we think outside the square, suddenly the answer becomes very clear.

It feels like the impatience has come to an end, that we're now rushing madly towards something. It's like we were shown the box, and then it was poured out from the top of the Space Needle. All the pieces are there, but the task of getting them all togther seems both daunting, scary and nearly impossible.

I know for my part, I have not been working hard enough. It's been really stressful and I've taken breaks when I could have been working on it. I'm worried that I'm not good enough and my failure is what's going to keep it from all coming together. Not to mention that we're trying to squeeze the contents of a 1,100 square foot home into much smaller amounts of space as we clear rooms to have flooring done or redone. And everyone else is sick. It's all very draining.