Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

Farewell Perspective

9 December 2011

Dear J-

Under normal circumstances you’d be able to see the upcoming lunar eclipse from North America only from Alaska and northwestern Canada — it’s going to be right around the time that I usually get up for work anyway so I might take the opportunity to get out and take a few pictures if I can remember to get up. The Sun, Earth, and Moon will line up in a way that the shadow cast by the Earth will fall over the Moon for roughly an hour starting around 4:45 local time. I’m not sure what it will look like to us here in San Diego but I intend to find out; I remember trying to catch prior eclipses and whining to be let backk into the house: it’s cold, it’s boring. One thing I didn’t know is that the lineup occurs at least twice a year so it’s not as though the event is rare by any means.

It helps me put today in perspective, after all. People change their jobs all the time and leave their comfortable haunts in order to pursue a number of reasons: money, power, fame, love, growth. I asked myself earlier this week if it was the right decision and I stick by the answer: a thousand times yes. Yesterday they broght a cake around and had me come up to give a little silly speech before they walked me out the door. I don’t know that I have any particula insight or words of wisdom to impart that these folks don’t already know — after all, everything I know is something I’ve learned from them — but this is what’s important:

I haven’t worked in too many places in my nine years on site: there were the four years I was a budget analyst (Excel jockey) and then the five years as a procurement engineer, so I don’t think I have the experience to say definitively. I’ll say this, though: the time I’ve had here I’ve always admired how well the four groups that make up our procurement organization work together. As many times as I’ve heard that I’ll be missed because of the help I give you should know that I’ve gotten as much or more help from everyone else throughout the years; it’s easy to say that I’ll miss you the rest of the group too but I mean it: we are a family here — sometimes a loud, contentious family, and we don’t always agree, but we work spectacularly well together for our customers and I’ll always be proud that I was a part of that.

Mike

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Anger Management

20 May 2011

Dear J-

You find yourself making excuses — and worse yet, having them sound increasingly plausible in your ears — when it comes down to effort and rigor, whether exercise or work. It’s time to go. Something needs to change before I drive myself nuts over these minor things that I should just be a good soldier about and nod yes’m, yes’m. This morning I can’t say whether it was with secret relief that I discovered the flat tire or not — I would have loved to ride my bike and will use that for an anger sink some days — but I had the chance to slow down instead of rushing all preparations this morning. The dog ate my homework. The tire was flat. That doesn’t sound too bad, right?

If you let them things can spiral out of hand in an instant: you agree to a few little things and if you fail to see the intentional (self-inflicted) humor in your situation then the joke really was on you. Fail to laugh and everyone else will be more than happy to laugh at you. If the only solution is to run away from that then I hope your shoes are laced up tight. Most days I’m running so late that I don’t have a chance to get my shoes tied before stepping out the door. I’ve become a lumbering slow target in ecent months, happy to let things slide and delighted to just be present.  What was that about letting it get the better of me? Where’s my goat? If you got my goat then I’m a gnu, but this isn’t news to anyone.

Sometimes it helps to get it out theere in some form or another. If I don’t want to be on the hook for everything then I didn’t need to volunteer for it. My pathetic need to be liked has made me happy to be on the receiving end of everything and frankly I’m just tired of it; it’s easier to say no now than have to try to explain all the things that didn’t get done later. If I spent enough time worrying about myself and less time wondering what other people think — after all I’m not psychic and I surely can’t plant thoughts in other people’s heads — I’m sure the change I need is within me and my means. Say it out loud enough and I might even convinve myself of it.

What I do need to remember is this: how do I want figgy and Calcifer to remember their childhoods? Is it even a possibility that I should be the remote, hard-to-please figure? Should it come down — shojuld it ever come down to having a young voice plead with me to just be happy? I’ll know that I’ve gone too far at that point, but what saves me from driving off the cliff? I need to learn to trust my conscience and help me ignore the swirling anger.

Mike

Native Tongue

22 January 2011

Dear J-

There was a brief moment of shining clarity this afternoon — the kids & I were in Irvine with their cousin and aunt at a playground and of the three groups that passed through while we were there only one spoke English. The other languages were Korean and Mandarin. My sister-in-law asks me what language I think in — for me it’s English but I understand Mandarin pretty well — and I think it’s amazing that in my lifetime we’ve reached the point where it’s not always English everywhere all the time.

The paranoid among us will worry about what other people are saying, but let’s face it: they’d worry whether or not they understood the words that are spoken. Based on my unscientific understanding of two-thirds of those encounters I’d say we really have nothing to worry about, it’s just whatever tool comes first as the most expressive wrench in the box. I don’t know whether to be elated or dismayed that English comes up for me, but I am excited to know that one size doesn’t fit all.

Mike

P.S. Er, take that, Rush!

Diffident Strokes

17 September 2010

Dear J-

Still standing, though undoubtedly not for much longer after a full day at work and school, of a sort. For some reason my Fridays are consumed by meetings, where there’s all kinds of Dilbert-esque grotesqueries popping up to confront me. In one of them one of my friends — we took all our initial training courses together and suffered through the same tests — chaired a meeting but got run over by the senior engineers and managers always willing to inject their own interruptions into the stream. In another we sat around and discussed how things were without actually taking actions back to fix them.

I suppose part of me sees how my peers with comparable experience are getting along in their careers and is a bit envious: their investment in time has paid off with increased recognition and responsibility while I feel much like the same monkey drone that first stepped through those warehouse doors four years ago. I speak up in meetings to note how those parts are coming along, yes sir yes sir right away now.

And yet I find myself waving to people all the time when I’m walking around, getting stopped on stairs and laughing, always chuckling over some strange happening we shared or spent. I remember growing up and walking with my dad around campus, he would point out different people, call their name out, and wave; I was amazed. I thought that he knew everyone in the world. It’s not until you work in a big company like this that you begin to understand what a small world it is, and how easy it is to measure success in different indiffident ways.

Mike

Idle Hobby

30 May 2010

Dear J-

Marian Hossa is playing for the Stanley Cup for the third straight season; whether or not the third time’s a charm for him has yet to be seen, but he’s off to a decent start for a guy who’s played the maximum number of games three years running — no one’s questioning his legs. The only questions may be about his mercenary nature — it’s his third team in three years. If you’re also a Survivor fan, you know about the self-proclaimed greatest player ever, Russell. He calls himself that because he’s gotten to the final pool, where a jury of his peers selects the winner, two seasons in a row. To get there he scrambles and stabs and generally plays a scorched-earth game that leaves no room for sympathetic peers who’d vote for him — indeed, he was shut out of the votes this last go-round.

There’s no denying that Russell is a canny player who can outplay his peers in straight-up competition, but doing it in a way that leaves people smiling, not scowling — that’s the real trick. It’s not easy to compete at the highest level, but there’s a skillful way to do it versus blundering your way through like a rhino. It’s impossible for me to say if Marian Hossa’s teammates feel the same way — such is the nature of free agency and modern sports that you can’t exactly fault a professional athlete for seeking what works best for their professional career — but I can certainly see how they might feel betrayed if he keeps moving on year after year in his quest to finally hoist a Cup. If karma is any indication (or at least precedent) then I’d say the Flyers have a Cinderella date with destiny this year.

It’s funny that we’d even try to impose the same values we carry in life on games — television reality shows or athletic contests. There’s a whole different set of rules that govern there, and we can’t hope to understand it in a vacuum; on the other hand, trying to understand those things doesn’t make much sense, does it? Devoting an iota of time to trying to comprehend the essentially absurd is a foolish reaction, isn’t it? We all honestly have better things to do, but we also can’t be doing those things all the time — it’s why there’s going to be an audience who wants to know Marian Hossa’s motivations, who understand the significance of Ceti Alpha V, folks who care whether you shoot at f/1.4 or not.

Mike

Mundaneday

22 February 2010

Dear J-

It’s back to work with me this morning; funny how six days away can feel both like forever and never at the same time — the amount of unread inbox junk will make it feel like I’ve been away for years, but my watch only shows a few days have ticked by. At this point it’s too soon to make a judgment, but early results are that the surgeon from Scripps is far better than the one from Sharp (or perhaps the pain management has improved in the last five years), as I remember needing every single one of those days off the last time I had this done; I was mostly back to par by Friday this time.

Perhaps we are keeping her too distracted; yesterday and Saturday we pumped a steady stream of movies through to banish thoughts of the intermittent showers through the day, and the results were that we didn’t catch a single accident before it was too late. Yet I know that it’s the way we should be going about it; I can’t help but think that by this time, the diapers are more a convenience for us than for her, as we’re teaching her nothing new by keeping them on. The next trick will be getting things arranged for overnight, but we can’t look too far ahead at this point.

Rainy days and Mondays — especially when they’re the same — always give me the blues, according to the Carpenters; it’s hard to describe what it feels like to be speeding north this morening. Excitement, perhaps, tinged with dread; apprehension, fear, and optimism. First day of school stuff, then; looking forward to seeing everyone again, but maybe under more pleasant circumstances would be nicer.

Mike

Meatball Stew

3 August 2009

Dear J-

I remember reading some of those first LiveJournal blogs; each entry was accompanied by a status bar on top, charting mood and music.  Right now I have the Suzanne Vega song from Pretty in PinkLeft of Center — running through my head (you’re welcome, by the way).  Although we have two eyes, one of them is usually dominant — I’ve talked before about being cross-dominant (right-handed, left-eyed), which has caused no end of grief when bowling (I make a wicked, unintended hook to the left), archery (slapped my face with the bowstring), and photography (I end up spending for a motordrive not always because they sound cool, but also to avoid having the winding lever poke me in the eye).

That particular tale of woe has nothing to do with wanting a more portable camera, though; I already have one that the folks on the van think is much too large (my daily-carry Sony V1) compared to the shirt-pocket cameras of today, and what they say has been, so far, true — there are no collectible point-and-shoots (closest so far would probably be the Panasonic LC1 I sold towards getting a real lens).  I’ve just been thinking lately about situations that might justify a belt-carry camera, and I know there must have been some advances in point-and-shoots since the circa 2003 V1.  Plus more stuff on my belt makes me more like Batman, and that’s generally a good thing (for me at least; for those who have to be seen with me, well …).

Yesterday after the zoo, which I managed to overlens myself for (too much, too big, too long) again, we stopped by IKEA for lunch; theVet helpfully pointed out that I could have saved myself the extra dollar for five extra meatballs since figgy wasn’t going to eat her portion anyway (we are encountering stiff resistance at mealtimes lately, but as they say, no kid this age has an eating disorder — they’ll eat when they get hungry enough).  We intended to walk around and despair at the clever Swedes’ use of small spaces (bottom line, unless I start getting rid of, oh, everything, we’re not going to have a tasteful IKEA home), but she had to try out this chair and that sofa, sprawling out on chaises and chasing the next ottoman and cushion accessory set from each neighboring living room.  It was marvelous and maddening, and if I hadn’t taken only the gigantor camera set, I could have caught those memories for later use (“See how crazy you were?”).  That’s why you put up with imaging less than state-of-the-art; convenience trumps quality when you need your hands free to participate in life, not just watch it go by.

Mike

20/20

30 June 2009

Dear J-

If you want to count it as such, this is also the twentieth (!) anniversary of me starting a journal for my time in high school — what started out as a document chronicling our misadventures trying to retrieve a fifty-cent boomerang using forty-dollar shoes (we never did get boomerang or either pair of shoes back).  I’ll leave it as a trivial footnote and as an excuse for another useless entry linking to random thoughts.

WALL-E is one of the movies receiving regular rotation lately; as a devotee of Rotten Tomatoes and the internet in general, I like to seek out opinions contrary to mine (I happen to love it) to try and understand those poor, misguided souls who disagree with me.  There’s not a ton of contrary opinion, but most of the criticism centers on the anti-humanity aspects — the robot love story, the degraded blobs in hoverchairs — and I can’t say I disagree with them entirely.  Although it’s hard to identify with robots and the ridiculously lazy humans, you either find it grating and precious or charming and unique.  I am in the charmed camp, but I understand why folks are turned off by the anthropomorphized automata — we run into our good friend the uncanny valley again, only with different thresholds for different folks (I wonder what they thought of Robots).

Another random thought:  growing up, Public Enemy had a couplet that went “Elvis — was a hero to most / But he never meant (crap) to me,” something I’ve been thinking about in the wake of the news about Michael Jackson last Friday.  Again, it depends on which side you want to play up — the musical innovator, or the drug-addled wreck of later years (take your choice, MJ or Elvis, both Kings in their own right), but you can’t separate those two sides.  Both were integral to making them the men they were; if they had worked less, would we still be talking about them today, or would they still be amongst us, not dragged down by those self-destructive tendencies?  Does the success fuel destruction, or just enable their means?  I’ll have to talk more about it later.

Finally, I wanted to share Jeffrey’s blog, which I ran across while looking for an online EXIF viewer (I saw some nice photographs and like the equipment whore I am, wanted to know what lens was used), in particular these two recent entries on a theme park where kids can play at grown-up jobs.  If you recall, one of the highlights of our trip to Palm Springs last October was watching figgy go through the play grocery store in the CDMoD — you could see the fascination in her determined shopping-for-the-apocalypse (milk!  potatoes!) — but to set up a whole theme park for that is sheer brilliance.

Mike

Step Into Wide

11 October 2008

Dear J-

The nice thing — and the curse — with SLRs is that you’re always fiddling to get precisely the right sort of framing.  I’ve been trying different focal lengths, as I’ve found a few reasonably priced Leica R primes and the cheap Nikon-mount glass keeps a fair number of telephoto and tele zooms on the camera when I’m at the zoo or taking pictures of jet fighters overhead.

But when it comes down to people pictures, I’m finding that wider is better, and even the 35mm Elmarit-R (70mm equivalent field of view on a 35mm film SLR) has me backing up a little further than I’d like.  It’s time to get a real wide-angle; it’s time to invest a little more into the Olympus system, and that means getting back two exposure modes and a lot more automation (autofocus?  what?).  I’m therefore punting some gear that hasn’t seen daylight for a couple of months and looking forward to getting an actual meant-for-the-camera lens, finally.  You know, getting up to the current day in the real world is tricky.

Mike