Various and Sundry

So, what’s been going on in my life?  What HASN’T Been going on?  I now present to you the random bits and pieces of thoughts that have been swirling around in my head lately.

  • I was puffed up and extremely humbled within the space of one hour this past Sunday.  X-Alt went back to prison, and before we did my new song, Ford Prefect said some kind words about my writing ability, for which I am most appreciative.  Yet, I wasn’t even the best songwriter in the room that day.  The men did a couple of songs for us, and there was one that had the hook: “I am more than flesh and bone”.  Y’all.  I can’t tell you how well this song was written.  The phrasing, the storyline, the hook – if I can ever write like that, then I’d call myself a writer.

I was taken aback by the men’s reaction when a speaker said “There are demons out there.  There are demons in this place”. Their vehement agreement made me shudder to think what they go through on a daily basis.

  • BTW, I’m here to tell you that the community is safe.  If any vagabond do-gooders ever tried to break INTO prison, they  would be stopped at every turn.  Somebody forgot to leave a memo about our visit at the front desk, and we sat there for well over an hour as the coordinator and the prison staff tried to work things out.  We knew the men were expecting us, and we didn’t want to let them down.  As a result, we got started late and had to cut things short.

As usual, I think we got more out of the service than the men did.

  • On another note, my kids and I have decided that if any of us is ever elected president, we will scrap “Hail To The Cheif”, and will instead have them play the theme song to “Good Eats” upon entering the room.  Or “Rock Me Amadeus”, with the crowd singing “We the people, we the people!” instead of “Amadeus, Amadeus!” 

Now I’ve given you an earworm I’m sure you don’t appreciate.

  • Lintilla doesn’t like lawn-mowing season, because it means she has to check me for ticks.  Now,this sort of thing was fun when we were 25, but …

 What?  I’m sorry, but being 43 years old, there’s now parts of me I can’t see on my own anymore.   You don’t want me to get Lyme Disease, do you?

  • Speaking of ticks, I’m working on a post that is sure to tick many folks off.  I’m still developing my thoughts, but it involves cliques and bullies in political discussions.  In essence, the way the right treats patriotism and the way the left treats compassion are two sides of the same coin.  Each side has bullies, and they are tolerated, even encouraged.  These “enforcers” will rhetorically beat into submission any who attempt to join their clique while not wearing the right “clothes”.  Stay tuned…

And no, I’m not whining.

  • I have an overwhelming desire to see the episode of Sanford and Son where BB King performed “How Blue Can You Get”.  It was also the first time I ever heard the name “Lipshitz”.  The memory of the way Bubba said it still makes me laugh to the day.

Did anyone else love that show asmuch as I did?

  • Bold prediction: The final three in DWTS will be Mario, Jason Taylor, and Kristi Yamaguchi.  That being said, Shannon Elizabeth’s waltz was simply mesmerising.  It was so beautiful it almost made you feel that dull, longing ache one feels when confronted with an indescribably overwhelming beauty.

The fact that I not only watch but actully like DWTS causes me far more ribbing than my Ugly Betty thing.

  • Something that affects me, both at work and beyond: I’m a “big picture” thinker.  I understand, I thrive on understanding complex systems and their interdependencies.  I can’t tell you how many times I can see clearly a whole end-to-end system, but I have the hardest time explaining what’s in my head to my single-task oriented coworkers.  I also seem to have the same communication gap outside of work with policy wonks.  We might as well be speaking Apache and Cantonese. 

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this roller coaster journey into my brain.  I promise, soon I’ll give you something a little less disjointed.

PS – I haven’t seen some of you in quite a while.  I think it’s time we remedied that.

PPSS – If there are any misspellings in this post, you can blame that on the fact that I can’t find the spell checker in the new WordPress text editor.  Next thing you know, they’ll expect me to do math without a calculator.  🙂

Such A Tease

I know, I know.  In this thread at MCB, I promised a post about what it’s like being a male DES baby.  And, I swear I will, hopefully today.  But there are two factors that are keeping me from completing that right now:

1) Today culminates the craziest two weeks in my professional history.  We’re finishing up a prototype of an application others said couldn’t be done in the time we were given, and later this morning,  I take the 3rd and final exam in my quest to become a Microsoft Certified Application Developer.  It’s by far the hardest exam of the three, so I have to study with what time I have left.

2) I want to do a little more research.  I can tell you the things about me that are “different”, and I can tell you why I think they were caused by DES injections while my mother was pregnant with me, but for the most part, I’d just be spouting off about stuff I don’t know much about, as usual. 🙂 

So, I swear it’ll be soon, but you’ll have to wait just a little longer to hear about fused bones, infertility, being touchy-feely and heterosexual at the same time, and other oddities.

And of course, tonight I have my usual busy Thursdays (live blogging Ugly Betty, then putting up a full recap before the episode finishes airing in the West).  It’s kind of crazy, but worth it.

My exam is at 10:30.  After I pass 🙂 , and my co-worker passes hers at 1:00, we’re going to “have a meeting” in “Building 5”.  For those of you who don’t know me, the corporate campus where I work has 4 buildings.  “Building 5” is the Outback Steakhouse down the street.  The “conference room” is the bar.

🙂

Whew – Let’s Catch Up!

I have this terrible habit of arranging my schedule so that everything important comes due at the same time.  I guess that’s why I’ve been mostly absent around here lately.  This week, I had to deliver a prototype for a major system we’re working on, and I discovered it is much more high profile than I thought.  I had another certification test to take today, and I’ve been furiously studying (got a 960, which means I missed 2 out of 42).  One more, and I’m an MCAD (Microsoft Certified Application Developer)

On that front, it would appear I’m being wooed.  I can’t say much, I shouldn’t say anything, but I’m a blabber-mouth. I might be facing a choice soon.  When you’re a young man, the security-pay dichotomy is a no-brainer, you take the risk and go with the pay.  It’s not so simple when you’re not a young man anymore.  Being 43, I believe my company is going to see me as a greater and greater target for downsizing.  Not that my company sucks – they have had many retirements lately, and that means that, in general, they let people stay around long enough TO retire.

But it’s a high-risk situation.  I make really good money for a man of my educational background, and a younger man could probably do the same work for less pay.  It’s just the way things are.  I have talent, and, if living in Nashville has taught me anything, it’s that talent ain’t that rare.

So, there’s something out there that I know for a fact offers more security.  I don’t know if it’s less pay or not, I’m guessing it is.  But, with each passing year, I run a higher and higher risk of losing it all.

On the other hand, I’ve never played not to lose.  But, I’d like to see what the other side is offering, at the least.

But enough generalities about work.  The band’s kept me busy lately, too.  We have two, count ’em, two gigs this Sunday, one in Cookville!  Good thing it’s a Titans bye week. 

Also, this is your first notice: X-Alt (including Ginger) will be playing another community coffeehouse at New Beginnings Fellowship on October 13th.  Y’all have to come out, we’ve prepared a rockin’ set.  I’ll bug you about it quite a bit more in the coming days.

I had an interesting parental situation come up yesterday, but I think I’ll put it in its own post.  I’ve always had a fear that putting my kids in surrounings where their peers come from families with greater household incomes would haunt us.  Never in my wildest dreams, though, did I imagine my nine year old daughter would one day be sobbing in the backseat of the car, grieving the general unfairness of life.  Nine.  I thought it would at least wait till middle school.  The only good thing is that I went through this before they did, and I can guide them through these troubled waters.

I’ll give you a hint: it was a fundraising contest, and my daughter worked her butt off.  But another kid’s parents simply wrote a thousand dollar check and bought the victory for their kid.  Trillian knows I can’t do that. Her class would have won the contest, had it not been for the cheating-shortcut-takers.  My kids’ school is chock full of kids of doctors and music industry types.  I’m just a corporate code-slinger, and Lintilla does her job out of a sense of service, rather than for the measly pay.

Sorry, I don’t mean to unload this on y’all, but I’m just mad at myself (because I put my kids in this situation), and mad at the world.  I’m taking the kids out to eat tonight, though, to celebrate their hard work, and my genius in passing another exam!

On a happier note, things are going well at the paid blogging gig, I’m getting more page views than I ever dreamed I would.  And I’m only about a third of the way to where they want me to be.  But, I’ve only been at it a little over a month, so I’d say I’m doing pretty well.

I’m really enjoying working with the smaller kids at church.  I had put that gentle daddy role on the shelf long ago, and it’s good to get it out and try it on again.  Not a single rolled eye or sarcastic remark.  They are actually starting to trustme now.  Their parents still look at me with suspicion.  A man?  Teaching small children?  How do we know he isn’t a pedophile? (That’s the vibe I get, at least.  Dang matriarchy).

Thanks for all the encouraging words about Lintilla’s upcoming surgery.  I feel much less scared about it after reading your comments.

Well, that’s enough for now.  I should have separated it into different posts, but it’s been so long, I figured I owed you a catch-up post.

Miller Time

Remember that scene in Stand And Deliver, when the testing service demands the kids re-take the AP Calculus test because their grades were near perfect (and the teacher Escalante also thought it was because his students had Spanish surnames)?

 Well, that’s how well I did on my Microsoft certification exam today.

I didn’t just pass it, I kicked its butt and left it for dead.  By my calculations, I missed two questions out of 43.  In three of the six areas of study, I got a perfect score.

I’m so excited; I’ve got two more to pass to get my MCAD, three more to get my MCSD (at which point Bill Gates will own my soul).

I’m not bragging, I’m just sitting here in shock.  I was an idiot last night, and didn’t take my Ambien (worried about being cloudy-headed today).  Well, whenever something’s happening the next day, you can be rest assured that my mind will be running a mile a minute ALL night, which happened.  I’m running on zero sleep.

So, I ingested so much caffeine and sugar, I came close to running around screaming “I am Cornholio!” at some points during the day.  So, that, along with the fact that all my studying didn’t seem to be “sticking” — I thought that would be a recipe for disaster.

Wow.

Now, I’ve come down from the high of both the caffeine and they joy of still being able to kick butt on exams.  I am exhausted.

I know I owe a few of you some communications, but I think I’m going to take a cat nap, then go get a beer.  I’ll see y’all on the other side.

Almost There

Regular posting will resume very soon. My extreme busy-ness will be over soon(or I will fall over dead – in either case, I will cease to be so busy).  I’ve got some really good stuff coming up.

Upcoming: a really good, informative political post, a few weight-loss trade secrets in answer to Eric (very high-level;  I’ll go in depth much more when I finally get to maintenance mode), my thoughts on vacation, and as usual, many reactionary posts in reply to your posts.

I’ve got one more very, very busy day tomorrow, but I might even get a post up when I get a moment.

The Vonage stuff should come tomorrow. I’ll let you know how that goes. 

I’ll try to get some photos of the new xB up tomorrow.  It is absolutely awesome.  Little things,like the iPod integration (you plug your iPod into a special jack and then “run” your iPod through the stereo).  I love the fact that you can adjust volume and switch songs directly from the steering wheel.  There are so many “little” things that are wonderful about that car.

And of course, Lintilla is the primary driver, so I now officially drive a minivan.  That’s right, I’m bad.

Saturday Randomness

I feel much better today, much more at peace.  Interestingly, that which was causing me so much stress at work is also the root of much satisfaction, something I haven’t had from work in quite a while.  My boss’ boss, the one who accused me of a coffee crime,has to be the most fickle boss ever.  Whatever shiny object is in front of him at the moment is “the most important thing on earth”, and whatever we are working on currently (which, not long ago was “the most important thing on earth” for which we dropped everything) must be put aside to make room for the new most important thing on earth.

This makes for a never boring work environment, but also puts my boss under a lot of stress.  Dancing as fast as you can gets a little tiring after a while.  Me? I seem to thrive in chaos, but if I have to work with people that don’t, their stress rubs off on me.

So, crazy boss man last week decided that all the extremely important projects we were working on (due in late June or early July) must be put aside do work on the latest most important thing on earth.  For you developers out there, he is asking for a major point upgrade to an existing complex system, coded, tested, user acceptance tested and moved to production in three weeks.  He wanted two, but logistically, that’s not possible (that doesn’t give the change control departments time to do what they do).

What gives me happiness is the fact that my group is so good, we’re going to be able to fulfill this unreasonable request.  Watching these folks work, being a part of it, has been a thing of beauty.  People who are so good at what they do they can accomplish the impossible are just fun to watch.  It’s even more satisfying when you know you are one of those people.

It’s a danged shame they’re going to break us up.  And I still think I need a change.  But the general unease I’ve had following me around the last two weeks has now abated.

We get our new xB today.  We think we have a private buyer for our old car; he is supposed to meet us at the car dealer (who will take care of all the paperwork, thank goodness).  However, we haven’t heard from him yet today.  If he follows through, it will save us about $2000.

We are going to make the switch to Vonage today.  It feels good to feel in control of these things; to have a little power over the big, bad company.  And it’ll save us about $40 a month, so that’s a good thing, too.

As of today, I’ve lost 45 and a half pounds.   My goal was 50 lbs before we go on vacation, so the chances of my reaching that goal are slim.  I will not weigh next Saturday, I’ll save that for our departure day.  More than likely, I’ll be off by 1 or two pounds.  But 48 lbs is no small feat, so I’m not going to nitpick.  If I lose at least 3 this week, I can say with confidence that I reached my goal.

And that was just the first goal.  Not that I’m going to lose much more weight, but I have some firming up to do.  I was hoping that getting down to 175 would mean no more love handles, but alas…  I can pinch an inch. (Remember those ads?)  Well, maybe 3/4 inch.  It’s much better than the three inches of fat I used to be able to pinch, but we all have this picture in our heads of what we’d look like if we were totally in shape, and little love handles are not what I had in mind.

But, I’m not sure if even an “in shape” almost 43-year-old man can have a sculpted body like a 23 year old.  It may be impossible; this might be as good as it gets.  But, I’m going to keep trying and see what happens.

I’ve gone from 225 to 179 (hopefully 175 by the 5th).  I’ve gone from wearing size 42 – 44 to size 36 – 38 .  I’d bet I could wear some 34’s, especially by July 5th.  My face looks like “me” again (abeit a little older).  So, I’m not going to beat myself up, and I think what I’ve accomplished should be celebrated.  It just doesn’t mean I’m “done”.

When I do break the 50 lbs lost mark, I’ll post several “how I did it” posts, unless y’all say they are too annoying.  You’d be amazed how non-drastic the changes in my life were.

I will say this:  if you are a man without health conditions that keep you from exercising, you definitely don’t need allii or surgery to lose significant amounts of weight.  I can’t speak for the women, but I daresay 20-30 lbs isn’t out of the question, using the same methods I did.

But, keep in mind, I’m not saying I think that certain sizes are ugly or not healthy.  Anybody that knows me knows that I don’t feel that way.  This was something I wanted to do, to see if I could do it.  Yes, it seems like I obsess about my body, but that’s because I’m a goal-oriented person.  I set a goal, and by golly, I was going to meet it come hell or high water.

Plus, in general, the way skinny Slarti is treated is astoundingly different from the way fat Slarti is treated.  Especially by strangers.  I suspect (how the heck should I know ?) that I do not wear extra weight well, that I am quite the unattractive “big” person, and a not too bad looking when I’m smaller.  I don’t know, but that theory might explain things.  And it may be shallow for me to want that (good treatment and courtesy), but I want it nonetheless.

Ford Prefect, his wife, Brooke and I are singing the offertory at “big church” (the two traditional services) at Belle Meade UMC tomorrow.  Considering the drama of the last two years, this is a big step toward healing long-held wounds. 

X-Alt is playing next Saturday at TBG Coffeehouse in Ashland City at 8:00, for those interested.

 Anyway, I think that’s enough news for a Saturday.

Bad Day

When I got married, my boss at Pizza Inn did me a favor and promoted me to assistant manager (a job with actual benefits), and shipped me off to Murfreesboro.  Before I left the old Bellevue Pizza Inn for my new life, he took me to the side and said:

“The secret to being a good manager of people is sizing up each employee  and deciding whether they respond to a kick in the ass or a pat on the back.”

Let’s just say, my current boss hasn’t figured that out yet.

My coworkers and I did screw something up.  Nothing in comparison to the reaction we got.  And I got it twice; once early, then once again when my coworkers came in (I have quite early hours).

I’ve learned that I haven’t changed a bit since middle school.  When I was a youngin’, and my folks would yell at me, I would get my revenge by…cleaning the house.  I would bury myself in completing a task I knew would make the people that yelled at me happy, and then some.  Maybe I subconsciously thought it would make them feel guilty.  It always made me feel better to immerse myself in housework, though.

I did the same thing today.  I did more coding today than most programmers do in a week.  I put us WAY ahead on a project we just got saddled with. 

I am one weird dude.

Maybe it was my way of saying, “This is how good I am – you don’t want to drive me away”.  I already have people from other departments making my job very “un-fun” for the first time, ever.  We’re meeting with a bunch of them tomorrow.  Yummy.

And now, my own department.  My list of allies grows thin.

Vacation is two weeks away. Normally, I’m not an “unwind” kind of vacationer, I’m a “get out and do” kind of vacationer.  But between now and then, I have several projects coming due, both at work and at home. 

For the first time in my life, I’m going to go on vacation not as an adventure, but as a way to get away from it all.  I don’t like feeling like this.  Not at all.

Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll be in a better mood.  Sorry, y’all.