We do what we must because we can...

Drive-by blogging, nothing really to say other than that I think "Still Alive" is probably the theme song for 2011.

Here's to seeing what 2012 brings.

In dread silence reposes

My parents cruise. A lot. At this point, they've been to every continent and, if I recall, every nation. They go to small villages, climb isolated mountains, and walk on beaches far from the trappings of modern technology.

All across the world, in small places, on top of hills or in the shadows of cliffs, there are grave stones, carefully tended, and usually some old man in a faded uniform who lives in a nearby shack or hut or old building.

And on a plaque nearby, some version of the phrase, "We remember... and we thank you."

Above these stones, waving gently in the breeze, you'll see the flags. British. Austrailian. And the ol' Stars and Stripes of the United States.

I'm often conflicted on the notion of supporting those in the military. I believe that killing is never a morally valid option, even when it's the best option available, and often people seem to sign up to participate for all the wrong reasons. We get into unnecessary wars for political reasons and sometimes do more wrong than we are trying to prevent.

But on Veteran's Day today, I'll offer this statement: to those who fight for the rights and freedoms of others, who defend the line that should never be crossed, and who bear the moral cost of decisions that are not right but may be the best ones that could be made... To you, whether military or civilian, where living or dead, I salute you.

Stress lines

Okay, it's been almost a month, and that's a little ridiculous.

Tons happening, but a lot of it "not fun". Mostly work stuff - we gave presentations in a project we've been working on for the last four or five months, so that's done. I'm going out of state to have a meeting with someone high up in a tech company who may be interested in partnering with us on Sunday, so, we've spent a lot of time prepping for that. And I'm having quite a bit of frustration working with certain individuals in my company.

So, yeah, not fun. Oh, I also get to give my self-assessment for the year, and looking over the numbers that my boss gave me for my last assessment, this isn't likely to look good. Though, I have to take that with a grain of salt - apparently, the last assessments prior to that were "so positive" that people were actually yelled at. "We can't have everyone exceeding expecttions," is one quote I heard. Gotta love corporate culture. We also had a conversation with some of it, and some of what she "dinged" me for is cultural difference.

- Let me explain that. I'm a programmer at heart. When developing code, we don't worry about the easy stuff - it's easy. What we worry about, extensively, are the things we don't understand at the start, because those are the things that you can't incorporate into the system as a whole and are, therefore, most likely to bite you in the ass later. So, most programmers mentally review an idea, toss out all the "easy" stuff, and bring up all the potential roadblocks - not to stop the conversation or to say "we can't do this", but because we have to have at least a basic understanding of how to get around them when we start.

Social workers, on the other hand, spend most of their time working with people on emotional or psychological issues. There, the best approach is to generally focus on the positive and deal with the "bad stuff" when you get to it. This helps people not fall into depressive loops and such.

So, I'll sit in a meeting with them, and most of them are all, "yes, we can do this! yay!" and I step in with, "This point here might be a problem we have to look at; we have no plan for dealing with it," and everyone thinks I'm trying to stop the show.

I explained this to her, and then to them, and everyone understands it now - that I'm not being negative, I'm actually being positive (if I was being negative, I wouldn't say anything and let them fail) - but I still have "tends to be negative in meetings" on my review.

Oh well.

On a more personal note, a paleontologist I know from online flew in from Paris (via PA and NV - don't ask), and we pal'd around for a few days. Awesome guy, and it's a blast walking through a place like the La Brea Tar Pits and having the guy next to you know more than what is written on the placard about pretty much everything. Sample comments: "Oh! We dug one of those up in Poland last year." "They always get the taxonomy on this wrong, it's not really a - [video states that they changed the family] ah, they updated it, good." "This is really cool, they only made this find in July and it's already on display here!"

Also, I finally got to hang out a bit with my language geek friend at UCLA. So, that was fun.

I also got back into World of Warcraft, since my consulting project's ended and I have the time once again. We'll see how long this lasts.

Nothing on the dating scene. Changed things up a bit, added a new pic, see how it goes.

Back later (hopefully not quite as much later).

Ten Fifteen

Typical Saturday:
Sleep 'til 10 or so.
Get up, throw on my workout stuff, hit the gym for 30-45 minutes.
Back, down a protein shake, shower, do consulting work for a while.
Maybe run some errands.
4ish, get "dressed" and head out for the evening, back by 1 am or so.

Typical Sunday:

Well, that's not really true. I actually do most of my consulting work on Sundays. But I usually space it out so I can relax while doing it.

So, it's October now. Next weekend is Blizzcon. In early November, I seem to be going to Redmond to meet with people at Microsoft for work. Those two should keep me distracted enough until Christmas and my trip to Guerneville.

Uh, let's see. I've been working out steadily for 3 months, and I'm roughly half-way to one goal for the year, so I may actually make it by NYE. That's the "bench press my weight" one, which is a huge deal for me since I've always had crap for chest strength. The 10% body fat one, not so much, but I'm more concerned about building and maintaining mass than about losing fat at the moment so that's okay. Doing both simultaneously is really really hard for anyone.

Nothing much else to mention. Nothing yet on the dating front. Roomie came back. Parents are on another cruise. A friend's script has been approved for purchase by a major production company. This is life in SoCal.

Fly away home

So, I got a frantic IM from the roomie today:

i need to talk to for 10 mins on the phone..I need a favor, like now

(I'm underground, so my cell doesn't work here)

So, I called him up. He's going off at angles, but I finally manage to get out of him:

1) Someone looked him up through an FBI database
2) His dad did "something stupid".
3) He has to get to Ohio, immediately.

This is from someone who, to my knowledge, hasn't spoken to anyone on that side of his family in maybe 20-30 years.

He was being obviously evasive, so I didn't push. He's been out of work for a while, though, and needs my financial help getting there. So now, he's got a one-way ticket to Ohio (he can't tell me, yet, when he'll be ready to come back), and tonight I'm going to give him some pocket money and help him through packing (he hasn't been on a plane in probably 10 years).

Of course I'm curious as to what's got him so frantic, but he'll tell me if/when he's ready. My job right now is to play the "good friend" and help make sure he doesn't fly off (literally) without something critical.

It does mean I'll have the apartment to myself for a few days, though.

Hey, did you know you can fly from LAX to Ohio for less than $400 at the last minute?

Speaking the language

So, here's something random:

Yesterday, in an elevator at the office, a colleage asked me, "So, where in London are you from?"

I stared at him blankly for a moment. "London?"

"Yes," he replied, "isn't your accent from London?"

"Uhm, I was born in West Covina. I've lived in L.A. County all my life..."

- Perhaps, here I should interject.

Most parts of the US have distinctive accents: it's pretty easy to tell a southern drawl from the long vowels of Boston, across to Chicago's harshness, past Minnesota (like most things) and it's American/Canadian blend, over to Seattle's lazy blur, and the odd intonations of Southern California.

I have none of those. Apparently, from what I've been told by a few English instructors, I speak with a distinctive mid-Atlantic accent - which is an artificial blend of British English and New England English, and doesn't come from anywhere, but which I probably picked up watching old movies and news broadcasts as a kid. I also speak very quickly, which is something no one else in my family does.

It leads to a lot of confusion. Most people outside of NYC assume I'm from NYC, simply because of the speed. NYCers always think I'm from - well, somewhere else; they never seem to be able to agree (I've actually been asked to slow down by people from NYC - a fact of which I'm oddly proud).

This is the first time I've been accused of being from London, however. To be fair, the person asking is from an Asian country. And, again, the mid-Atlantic accent is a deliberate blend of Britich and American accents. I've just never had anyone make the British connection to it.

I bet my friends from London would be amused.

The cheatsheet

Mentioning Harry Potter as the only book you read: 2 stars
Mentioning Atlas Shrugged or Ayn Rand as a favorite book/author: one star
Mentioning The Fountainhead as a favorite book: we'll see what else you write, but automatically costing you 1 star. At least it's a better story.
Posting up numerous pictures that aren't rotated correctly: Lose 1 star
Posting up numerous pictures where you aren't smiling, or where you're (non-ironically) flashing gang signs: 2 stars
Posting up only one picture, and that picture:
- Contains multiple people with no indication of who you are
- is sideways, and not artistically
- is of you in your underwear
- doesn't show your face
... 2 stars
Putting your astrological sign in any essay box without making a joke of it: 2 stars
Indicating serious religious or "spiritual" inclination: 1 star
Only posting a picture, with no or very little text: 3 stars (which is my version of "we'll check back later")

Okay, yes, I'm probably a dick.

Anyway, things are going pretty well. I just paid 11k in taxes (yay consulting!) for the quarter, some of which was "catching up" since my job got extended. Seriously, I'm so done with this mentally. They keep coming up with problems under the "you need to fix this" banner, 90% of which end up being "I can't fix this; you need to tell your users not to be idiots" situations. I'm all for making things as idiot proof as possible, but when you ask for extensibility and control, you automatically lose some lock-down capability.

Real work is still good. Some potentially interesting things that are slowly moving up to "very interesting" and may be approaching "totally cool" by the end of the year. Of course, part of the potential results is that I may be designing myself out of a job, but if that's what happens, so be it. Damn the torpedoes, and full speed ahead.

Social life - as the above perhaps indicates, it's been interesting. I've gotten a few hits, no actual meet-ups yet but I think at least one may be leading up to that. But, I'm picky and not really in a rush, so that's perfectly reasonable. I'm not stressing about dating - it's just not that important.

I'm also getting ready to plan my NYE trip. To where, I have yet to decide. That's part of the fun.

Fitness: I'm down to 163, and I'm definitely showing tone. Hit a plateau for a week or two, but it's dropping again now. I finally talked the roomie into coming down to the gym with me; he didn't do much but talk, but at least I got him into it. Next is to get him to start working out.

That's it for now. I really need to post more than once every 4 weeks.

... Oh, one last thing. DADT ended today, and guys are already coming out. Fucking awesome. This guy recorded coming out to his dad over the phone. As a friend of mine put it:

At 3m25s, he asks his dad if he still loves him. I can hope for a world one day where no child will ever doubt the answer to that question because of their sexual orientation.

I can't help but think of this line from the Ode:
... For we are afar with the dawning
And the suns that are not yet high,
And out of the infinite morning
Intrepid you hear us cry—
How, spite of your human scorning,
Once more God's future draws nigh,
And already goes forth the warning
That ye of the past must die.


Nothing major going on.

Weight wise: I've lost 6 lbs in 2 months, and I'm definitely getting some muscle. The roomie looked at me the other day and said, "Wow, you've almost got breasts." Not exactly encouragement, but whatever. I don't entirely trust the numbers on my scale's body fat reading, but even if it's only approximate, I'm losing almost exclusively fat in that weight. So, that's a good thing. Means I might be decent by December.

The car's all nice and happy. I've decided I'm getting the suspension system done next, because it's at 100k miles (as of last night) and I've never had it worked on. I also got it cleaned, so it's -literally- shiny.

The resort I like up in Guerneville has a cabin open for Labor Day weekend. I'm trying to decide if I want to head up there. Well, actually, I'm trying to talk myself out of wanting to go up there. I really ought to stay home and get some work done. I've been goofing off a little too much on the consulting stuff.

Being an adult has its drawbacks.

I joined a dating site. We'll see how it goes. I swear, though, if I see one more person list Harry Potter in their "favorite books" section, I'm going to have to break something.

The price we pay

My car's been neglected for a while. First, the new job and the horrendous commute before I moved made getting it to a shop on a weekday pretty much impossible. Then, once I moved, it's been fairly non-stop with other commitments that mean I can't be without a car for a day.

Finally, after getting back from Montana, I dropped it off at the shop last night and got a ride from my best friend into work today.

Status report:
Two bad catalytic converters. Yes, my car has two, and they both need replacing. I figured I'd gotten bad gas at some point in the past since a few things went odd, but that cleared up. Or seemed to, anyway. Plus, I'm at 100k miles (just shy), so it's about time anyway.

A bigger concern is that they said the engine had almost no oil in it. Now, yes, it's been a while since I had an oil change (probably too long), but I swear I checked the oil levels either just before my vacation or just after, so it's been max 8 weeks and more likely 6 weeks since I looked, and it was fine. So, that's a little concerning. They're going to flush it, load it with HQ synthetic, and have me flush it again (at no cost) in 2k miles or so.

Lastly, front brakes, but that's not a big deal: pads are under warranty, so it's just labor.

Total cost: about $2500, most of that the converters (which are about 900 each). Luckily, I don't need new tires yet, which would be another $1k. But that'll probably come up in the next couple of months (especially as the weather gets rainy towards the end of October).

It's also a really good feeling to know that spending $2500 to get my car fixed isn't a big deal: I'd actually budgeted for about $3k, not including tires. So, while I'm not happy about the oil thing (hopefully it's just a "wtf" freak occurance and not indicative of some larger problem), I'm actually not upset over the cost.

And my toy will be all spiffy again. Well, as soon as I get it washed, anyway...

And go my own way

So, getting ready to fly home.

Interesting trip in the "something different" sense. I think I know how this friendship thing with the guys will work out: basically, not at all. I'll stop "bugging" them, and I'll likely never get a note or message from them. No blame attaches; I just don't see any interest (socially) at all from one of them, and the other seems more of a "out of sight, out of mind" type. I may be wrong, but years of making these kinds of connections can't be discounted.

Still, it was a nice break to do something unusual. I can't say I regret coming. I have to force myself outside my comfort zone more often. And, they seemed to be glad I was here, at least for the party.

This coming week is going to be pretty dull. Hopefully, anyway.

Big Sky Country

In a matter of hours (literally - 12 hours exactly from now, my plane takes off) I'll be on my way to Montana for the weekend. Should be fun. If nothing else, it's "something different", and as another Richard (fictional) once said: Never refuse an invitation.

I got the guys a Hawaiian "care" package - things like coffee, candies, nuts, lotions, a CD, etc. - since it fits in with the Hawaiian theme. The fun part, of course, is packing around this rather large box in my luggage; luckily, the weather's supposed to be great so I won't need to take any bulky clothes. Otherwise, I might have to pack two cases, especially as I'm taking my tripod (which is itself pretty bulky).

It's also the perseids this weekend, so hopefully Big Sky Country lives up to its name and I can get some decent shots. I'm going to try a higher ISO and see if I can get more vibrant shots without the trace lines. I think, on my camera, I can go up to like 3200 without any issue. So, we'll see how it works out.

Sirius Rising

Wow, been a while.

When last we left our adventure, I'd been in the new place a week. Well, it's approaching a month now. Last night I made my first "real meal" - not from scratch, though. I bought these pre-seasoned Jamaican jerk shrimp at the store (frozen, just sautee 'em up and go). I also got a rice cooker, some wild rice, and a bunch of snap peas. Cooked the rice, steamed the peas, made half the shrimp (had 12, so made 6) - oh my god, it was good. I may actually have to start cooking.

Roommate came in and had some of the rice and approved. He did make "gagging" noises when he saw me munch a clove of roast garlic (which I also made last night). I managed to talk him into trying it, and his response was, "What the fuck? This is really good!" So, I've made another convert.

I'm still working out every other day, and there's definite progress being made. My weight's staying about the same (which is good) while my body fat percentage is going down slowly (which is great). I'm also actually starting to get some definition to me, which is frankly amazing. I still have a long ways to go, of course, but it's nice to be at least headed in the right direction.

Speaking of heading in directions, I'm taking a day off and making a long weekend of next weekend: the 12th I'm flying to Montana for a wedding reception for the guys I met in Maui. Should be fun. I'm just not sure if I should be bringing a present or something.

Summer's finally decided to rear its ugly head in the form of 95+ degree days and humidity. I think it's getting cooler by the weekend, though.

Since I'm flying to MT this month, I probably won't be doing anything major for Labor Day. I might go on a day trip somewhere, just for fun, but I'm blowing a grand on one trip already and should probably "take it easy".

It's dangerous to go alone

So, I've been in my new place officially over a week.

I like it so far. I'm taking advantage of the weight room daily, and I love having my own place to do my own stuff. Even having a roommate isn't horrible; he's being very good about the "it's my place/I call the shots" attitude I have. Heck, I'm even running around most of the time in the nude and he hasn't batted an eye (but then, I told him about that before he moved in, and we've gone on trips together so he knew my propensities before).

I am looking forward to when he moves out, though, even though I know that's not until January. I'll stick with the original commitment just because I made it and I know he needs the time to get his financial house in order, but this is definitely not going to be a long-term roommate situation. I'm actually hoping he manages to get himself together faster and can therefore move out early.

The consulting company wants me to keep working until October. I said we'll make it through middle of August and see how it's going. Frankly, I'm burning out on it. It's great money, don't get me wrong, but it's a lot of work/hassle when I'd just like to relax. Having two jobs is tiring, no matter how much money you make.

The new place helps with that a bit, though. Since I'm not driving as far, I get more "down time". Also, with the gym downstairs and even room to spread out my bench and free weights, I'm burning through some of the stress in workouts. I don't know that there's a lot of difference yet, and I don't expect there to be, but I certainly -feel- a fair bit better. I'm also eating healthier, as I've got a fridge and my own kitchen. Haven't really started cooking much, but I can get the kinds of things I like - which tend more towards "snacks" than "meals" anyway, things like pita and hummus or small salads or such.

I'm also trying to adapt myself to the whole "if you can't carry it, don't get it" mentality of grocery shopping, since I'm usually walking to/from one of the nearby grocery stores. Which also means more exercise, more fresh air, etc. The weather's also been cooperating, as I've only had the A/C running two days out of 10.

Haven't really unpacked much, but also haven't really furnished the place. I don't want to set anythign up in the living room until I get an area rug, and I think I know what I want but there are logistics issues (such as making sure someone's home to receive it). For the bedroom, most of my clothes are hang-up-able; what's not is in the "sto-away" beneath my mattress, so I don't really need a dresser.

I haven't even bought a desk for my desktop - but that's a different thing. I've actually decided to do something I've wanted to do for a while: build a kind of lounge chair/console for my home computer. The chair gets delivered tomorrow; its frame is 2" steel pipe, so I can mount things to it pretty easily. I have a rough idea of where I want to go with it, but I'll know more when it arrives.

Anyway, that's the drive-by for the day. Maybe interesting things will start happening and I'll have something to post about.

A dreamer who slumbers

(This poem means a lot to me; for a variety of reasons, it's resonating especially well lately. Enjoy.)

Ode - Arthur O'Shaughnessy

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample a kingdom down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself in our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

A breath of our inspiration
Is the life of each generation;
A wondrous thing of our dreaming
Unearthly, impossible seeming—
The soldier, the king, and the peasant
Are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present,
And their work in the world be done.

They had no vision amazing
Of the goodly house they are raising;
They had no divine foreshowing
Of the land to which they are going:
But on one man's soul it hath broken,
A light that doth not depart;
And his look, or a word he hath spoken,
Wrought flame in another man's heart.

And therefore to-day is thrilling
With a past day's late fulfilling;
And the multitudes are enlisted
In the faith that their fathers resisted,
And, scorning the dream of to-morrow,
Are bringing to pass, as they may,
In the world, for its joy or its sorrow,
The dream that was scorned yesterday.

But we, with our dreaming and singing,
Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing:
O men! it must ever be
That we dwell, in our dreaming and singing,
A little apart from ye.

For we are afar with the dawning
And the suns that are not yet high,
And out of the infinite morning
Intrepid you hear us cry—
How, spite of your human scorning,
Once more God's future draws nigh,
And already goes forth the warning
That ye of the past must die.

Great hail! we cry to the comers
From the dazzling unknown shore;
Bring us hither your sun and your summers;
And renew our world as of yore;
You shall teach us your song's new numbers,
And things that we dreamed not before:
Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,
And a singer who sings no more.
If I won the lottery, I don't think I'd move to Maui.

Don't get me wrong, I love it here. I just think that a big part of what I enjoy is being on vacation here, not just being here. If I lived here, had the normal responsibilities, etc., I don't think it'd be the same.

In fact, I think the perfect life for me would be a "permanent vacation": traveling constantly, never staying somewhere more than a month or two, maybe having an apartment in L.A. to come back to once in a while. Something worth considering as I'm a week away from moving. Obviously I'm not in a position to afford such a lifestyle, but at least I know what to aim for.

Something else to think about - that really isn't the kind of lifestyle you can live when you're in a relationship.

Sometimes the carrot is the stick

Dammit dammit dammit.

Why do I always end up in this situation?

2 hot guys flirting with me most of the day. They both want me to hook up with them. Great.

Problem 1: they just got married. Literally, yesterday. Even that isn't so much an issue, since they're both consenting.

Problem 2: I have work I have to do at 4 local time; if I hook up with them, there's no way in hell I'm making my conference call. I also have a tour at 8 I have to be ready for, an hour away.

Problem 3: they're probably leaving tomorrow while I'm on my tour. They might stay an extra night. They haven't decided yet.

Fuck. Sometimes being responsible sucks.

Cardboard boxes

Wow, been a while. Thought I'd published something since the beginning of June.

So, I've started packing - more for the move than the vacation. Packing for a vacation in Hawaii actually requires more planning from the techical side than from the textile side: throw a half-dozen bathing suits, a pair of flipflops, and a bunch of sunscreen in a suitcase and that's that. On the other hand, I'm taking two laptops, two cameras, 5 lenses, a tripod, a monopod, associated chargers and such... there's probably something very wrong about that, but hey, it's my vacation.

But yeah, I've started packing for the move. I managed to fit almost all of my normal-sized paperbacks in a single box; it's a damned heavy box, mind you, but it's one box. I also got all my music CD cases in another. I'm going to try to get a box or two packed every night this week before I fly out on Saturday (... it still hasn't sunk in that I'm flying out on Saturday...), though I can't really pack up clothes and such until I get back.

We'll see how it all goes. I'm just starting to feel the anticipation, but I'm also under a lot of pressure at work and with the consulting job, so I don't have a lot of time to think about it. It'll probably all hit me while I'm relaxing in the hot tub.

Connect around their walls

Alright, finally got the security issues from the office sorted out; it kept blocking my login, so I could post or comment as "me" on anything.

Anyway, updates on things:

I'm going back to Maui for my birthday. I may have said that. Everything's planned out; I'm taking it easy this year, only one "trip" planned and that's a private tour so should be fun. I swear I'm going to make myself get to the top of Haleakala this time, and I'm even going to try to go up in the middle of the night to get starfield shots (assuming the weather's decent and the moon cooperates). It's hard to believe I'm going to be there in 3 weeks (from tomorrow).

Apartment is still in pending status waiting for the existing tenants to move out. That should be done in a week or so. I'm trying to plan out things like internet service, but I'm not entirely sure what all the options are. There are sites you can check for availability, but I don't entirely trust them.

The consulting job is a bit of a nightmare right now, as that's supposed to be going live the Monday I'm in Maui. It'll probably be ready by then, but we'll be cutting it a little close. However, they're driving me crazy with conference calls. I've been on calls literally every morning this week - and even with it only being a 4-day week, that's sill 7 hours of conference calls. That's ridiculous. I'm burning into "rollover minutes" on my cell plan (luckily I have thousands, so it's not costing me anything).

I'm sure things here will get far more interesting after I move in (36 days, not that I'm counting).

The Final Frontier

Space... in the "floor" sense.

So, I'm in the final stages of leasing. I've been approved, they've verified my information, etc. I'm waiting for a copy of my renter's insurance to prove my liability coverage; I'll likely have that this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Then, I sign the lease.

It's a decent place. Not perfect, but I never expected perfect. Still, it covers all the bases, and it's in a pretty nice building: salt water pool, rec room with pool table and foosball, weight room, dry sauna, laundry facilities on every floor (just outside the apartment, actually). I'll be on the top floor in an inside corner with a small balcony. It's also about half a mile from Old Town Pasadena, which is nice.

Speaking of, it's got a walk score of 85, which is really what I was most looking for. Not only are there four grocery stores (Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Gelson's, and Vons) within a half-mile, it's a couple blocks from the metro station going downtown or to work, and only 10 miles from the office if I decide I want to bike.

That's a huge thing for me: I'd like to be able to drive only when I want to head to LA or something. On a day-to-day basis, I can walk or bike everywhere. Don't get me wrong, I love driving and I love my car. This isn't even really an environmentally-conscious thing (though that's a nice bonus). Mostly, I just want to be more centrally located in an urban environment. We'll see if the reality lives up to the expectations.

I also wouldn't be moving in until July 9th, but that's not a huge issue. I'll be getting back from my birthday vacation on the 4th, so that's pretty good timing.

Kind of funny timing, actually. Five years ago, I bought myself a car for my birthday. This year, I'm getting an apartment. Nothing like thinking big, eh?

Assume the position

So, tomorrow's the rapture. I've heard accounts that it's going to take place at 6 p.m. local time. Bummer; I'll be in the middle of Pirates then. Not that I necessarily expect to go to heaven. If the fundies are right about God, then I wouldn't want to go - the old "laugh with the sinners" thing.

Of course, the best thing would be if all the fundamentalists got pulled up to their place of perfection and just left the rest of us the hell alone.

I woke up this morning to some kind of rash under my eye. The only thing I can think of is that I was looking at this awesome hibiscus plant at an apartment complex last night; maybe I got some pollen or something on me. However, I played with hibiscus in Maui and never had an issue.

Regardless, I'm staying home a bit to see if it goes away; the last thing I need is to have this get worse and not be able to drive or such.

Always something new.

Slow-motion capture

Bah, been too long.

Well, not really. Nothing new or interesting to report. I'm still apartment-hunting. The funds I'd been waiting for didn't come in until late April, so that delayed things a bit. Now it's a matter of finding the right place at the right price; it's not impossible, and I have a few leads, but it's a slow process.

Beyond that, it's been same-old same-old. The consulting job I've probably mentioned has ramped up a fair bit in intensity; that's the main reason I haven't been blogging: I've just been too busy with that. It's not interesting work, and unfortunately it's getting to be downright annoying as over and over things fail to happen when they should. All the timing pressure eventually gets dumped on my shoulders, but I'm a big enough boy to dump it right back.

Since I still haven't moved out, my moratorium on spending money is still in effect. As such, I haven't booked anything for my birthday yet. This may mean limited options when I do get around to it, but, well, I made this rule for a reason... blowing it now would be counter-productive.

I'll try to get back into posting regularly. Hope folks are still out there.

Random stimulation

So, it's late, it's been a long weekend (I worked a decent portion of it), and I'm tired. But, I'm also hyper.

I'm what is clinically called "ADHD"; I don't necessarily think of it as a "disorder", but that's what it's called. Anyway, most people don't generally notice because I'm pretty much *always* sipping a soda (usually zero-cal) and that takes the "edge" off; see, stimulants actually act contrary to how you'd expect in many people with ADHD, and in my case, they actually help me focus. It has to do with activation thresholds and such.

When I'm at home, I tend to drink water or ginger ale, neither of which has caffeine. No caffeine for a day and I start to get hyper/distractable. Of course, no caffeine for a week and the ASD-type symptoms start coming out; I don't get grumpy, per se, at least not after the first few days. I do, however, get far less social (hard to believe, I know) and far more precise.

One time I got to that stage when a few years ago when I was kicking off my first big diet: I didn't drink anything but water or juices for a month. I felt great and got a lot done, but I was only sleeping about 4 hours a night and my coworkers later told me they wanted to kill me. Apparently, in my "normal" state, my productivity skyrockets and my empathy drops below zero.

So anyway, on Sundays, by the end of the day, I'm usually starting to feel it. Sometimes, it's not so bad. Sometimes it's really bad. Tonight, it's moderate. To counteract it enough to get to bed, I'm sipping a cup of Kona coffee. Which is very weird to most people - I'm drinking a cup of coffee to help me sleep rather than keep me awake. My mom's the same way, though.

Just a random note for the night. Hope everyone had a good weekend, and has a good week.

Pre-planning meeting

Okay, I admit it. I may be swinging over to the dark side.

I actually went to Craigslist.

(Please forgive me)

So, the deal is that I'm starting to look at apartments - or, to be more accurate, starting look at places to look for apartments. That's the trouble, really. Most of the places you'd look just don't have that many listings for where I want to be, or when they do they're on the high end. That's because they usually charge the rental companies to list or fees when a place is rented through them, so only the higher-end places will afford it.

I've probably been through 10 or 15 different sites and options, and they all have variations of the same listings. So, I decided to go the more local-rag-mag route. I figure Craigslist falls in about the same category (at least for rentals).

So, yeah, that's the logic. And boy howdy does it seem to be right. I mean, there's probably less "management" of the listings on Craigslist (there're a lot of duplicates), but there are so many more listings that it doesn't matter. I'm not quite ready to start hitting the pavement - I need to wait a week or two for funds - but at least now I've got a lot more options.

... Everyone here's probably getting sick of me writing about moving and/or debt. So, here's something different.

Where should I take my vacation this year? I've already scheduled off 6/25 through 7/4, so I've got 9 nights to play with. Here are some of the options.

1) Go someplace I've been and like (namely, Maui, Guerneville, or Big Bear)
2) Go someplace similar to a place I've been and like but still local-ish, but to where I haven't specifically been (like, Yosemite, Florida Keys, maybe the Caribbean)
3) Go someplace completely new (?)
4) A staycation at (hopefully) my new apartment

So, (1) is obviously the safe option. I've actually checked out Guerneville, and the resort I like is all booked up (already!), so it'd have to be Maui or a cabin in Big Bear. I just don't know if I want to go back to Maui again. It's fun, and it's relaxing, and there's still a couple of things I want to do there, but it's pretty expensive (and I should be spending most of my money on the new place, at least for a while).

(2) I've been seriously considering. Namely, I've been checking out clothing-optional gay resorts in Key West and Ft. Lauderdale, as well as some stuff in the Caribbean. Still expensive though not quite as bad as Maui/Hawaii, and mostly new.

The problem with (3) is that, with most of the places I want to go and haven't been to yet, I haven't been to them yet because it takes so long to get there that a week's vacation isn't really enough. Plus, now we're talking really expensive, especially since I like flying first class. I suppose I could change it up and go to NYC or someplace like that (I generally don't "do" cities on my time off).

The adult answer would be (4). It's the cheapest and the most practical. But part of me is tired of being practical and wants a little bit of silliness.

I think I'm leaning towards Maui again or somewhere like Florida, if only because I feel the need for a full-body tan and, frankly, I don't do enough "gay" things. I'll have to keep an eye on flight prices to Maui; I actually might be able to swing a free flight one way with the miles I have on Hawaiian, so that's an option too. To Florida, I could almost guaranteed swing a free flight (I've got almost 90k miles on American).

Anyone have other suggestions?

Out of the blue (green?)

Yay for free money!

... well, not exactly.

See, I quit my last job on 12/31/2010. This had nothing to do with closing the year out or a free holiday or anything; it was simply that my new job's healthcare started 3/1, and I wanted my COBRA to be in even month increments.

A side-effect, however, is that I technically finished out the calendar year. This means that, by the book, I qualified for my bonus. Now, I'm a realist: the old company was not thrilled with me quitting, even giving 3 weeks notice, so I placed the odds of getting my bonus as "close enough to zero that you couldn't slide a piece of paper between the two."

Well, an ex-coworker who is in the old HR department, who I'm decent friends with, and whom I've been helping with issues that have come up since I left told me a few weeks ago that she was submitting my bonus paperwork; it didn't mean anyone would approve it, but it was worth a shot.

It was approved. So, I'm getting an extra few thousand dollars that technically I earned but never expected to receive.

This means that, as of tomorrow morning, my credit card is completely paid off. By the time I get my next consulting check, I'll be $4k-5k in the black and *really* ready to move out.

Which means I need to ramp up my housing search faster than I'd expected - a good thing, yes, but now that it's really going to happen a little nerve-wracking. Oh, well, just need to bite the bullet and do it.

You know, it's a little odd when you've planned something for a year and it actually happens, ahead of schedule even. I feel like I've won a small pot in the lottery, but it's all been planned and arranged.

We're havin' a heat wave...

So, we have this big presentation we're supposed to do for the department yesterday. I decide it's probably appropriate to wear a suit.

Of course it ends up being the hottest day in 6 months, to the point of breaking records. Of course.

It's April 1st. I won't pull any jokes; I've never really been into it. I have, of course, helped a few others plan out things: my job, after all, revolves around coming up with ways of getting things done. We'll see how bad the fallout is.

However, first of April also means I'm that much closer to moving: this month I start actively looking. Time to sign up for all those rental companies, dig through magazines, and in general spend a lot of time being disappointed in offerings. I want to have an agreement signed before June if at all possible.

I don't think I mentioned this last time, but I actually did the responsible thing (horror of horrors) and went through my credit reports. Everything seems to be in order. They don't give you an actual score (at least not for free), but running the data through a quick estimating system put me at about 750ish - and that was still with a heavy-ish balance on one card at the time of my last statement. I've paid even more off and will have it completely paid off by the middle of April, so I assume a credit check won't be a problem.

(I'm actually thinking of celebrating a little when I get my card paid off. I'd go on a shopping spree, but that seems a little ironic...)

This weekend should be nice enough to get out of the house and do something. I'd love to go hiking - just have to find a trail to hit. I've got a book of them, so, it's more a matter of picking something and going than anything complex.

Other than that, it's springtime in Los Angeles. The sun is shining, the grass is green, the orange and palm trees sway... er, wait, that's a Christmas song. Anyway, for all you folks getting pounded on by the snow storm today, just remember: it's 70-something in SoCal, and I'll be having lunch in the park. So there. Nyah.

Sunshine peaking through

Well, it's raining again, but at least I'm not sick.

Or less sick. That bug I got (whatever it was) lasted a full week. I haven't been that ill since 1999; even the H1N1 last January wasn't that bad. I don't think it was a flu, though, because I never got the typical soreness-headache I get from the flu.

Yesterday was the first day I came back to work (this being a hospital, they're a little anal about the whole "infectious diseases" thing), and I was exhausted by the afternoon. Today, not so bad. I still have a little bit of the sniffles, but I'm being careful with tissues and such as well as using hand sanitizer (which I usually abhor, but in this case I'm doing it for others, not myself).

It'll be raining this weekend, but oh well. I'll probably be sleeping.

... When I'm not working, anyway. I think I've mentioned my consulting gig; it's starting to get busy, which means the next few months are going to be pretty hectic for me. Oh well, they're paying me. Or, at least, they should be paying me - she's not quite late with the February payment, but if I don't have something by Saturday I'm going to send an email to check (she will be late by the 1st). I'm a bit axious for this check, because it's the last one that'll hit my statements before I start apartment hunting and, since it'll lower my debt-to-credit ratio, it'll improve my credit rating. Plus, you know, I owe quarterly taxes by the 15th.

Moving. Yeah. I'm starting to "look" online, getting narrower ideas of where I want to look and where I should (not "can", but "should") afford to live - and, luckily, the points that overlap between them. I think I can get a decent place in the $1400 range in a neighborhood I like; I've found a few places with everything I pretty much want for that.

The "downside", of course, is that I'm going to have someone living with me for the first few months. I promised a friend that I'd give him a rent-free place to stay for 6 months so he can try and rebuild his finances. So, I'm not quite going to have the free lifestyle I want, but it might actually be a good thing: this'll provide a bit of a mental buffer between old and new. We'll see how it works out. He's not going on the lease or anything, paying no rent, and bringing in no (or very limited) furniture, so there's no doubt about the fact that it's my place, not his. He's okay with this.

We'll see if we're still okay with it at month 3.

Spring has sprung

The west coast is drowning, and I'm sick.

Been a while since I've posted, but then, not much has happened. Well, not much locally.

I came down with some cold-from-hell late last week and still have it; the on-call nurse said I don't need to see the doctor unless I get a fever, nausea, or chills. So, I'm just working from home and being mostly miserable.

We had 6 inches of rain fall in 24 hours yesterday. Yeah, it broke all sorts of records. We're supposed to be getting showers on and off until Wednesday, when another storm hits. Since we were over the annual rainfall "budget" before this storm, we're going to be well over after the next one.

Finances continue apace; I've started looking at online listings to get an idea of what's realistic and what isn't. I've found a few properties in or around the area where I want to live that are almost perfect.

Straight on 'til morning

You know (or maybe you don't), an intrinsic part of my self-image is childhood. I don't mean I think of myself as a kid - even when I was a kid, I never had the chance to think of myself as one. Or, well, rarely, anyway.

Actually, maybe it's because I didn't have much of a chance to be young that I forever feel locked in time. I constantly wobble back and forth between adulthood and childhood, but I never really belong in either.

Today, I was an adult. You can't get much more "adult" than filing a 20-page tax return or opening retirement accounts. I have a few friends I hang out with regularly, and none of them can believe the sheer complexity of my financial planning - four IRAs, multiple jobs, juggling loans and credit cards and such to maximize dollars. To me, this should all be common-knowledge: maybe it's just because my mother's a CPA that I know how to manage credit and such, but to be honest, I don't think she and I have ever had an actualy conversation about it so I don't think that's it. Apparently, though, most people don't know the basics - like the notion that it may not be in your favor to pay off a low-interest debt, depending on what rate of return you could make on investments. It's just basic math, but I guess it's not obvious to others.

Yesterday, I bought a pack of mini-cupcakes from this store in Malibu called Crumbs. It's an actual cupcake store - it's pretty much all they do. I don't really know why; I don't necessarily like desserts. But after writing all the checks and putting stamps on all the envelopes, there was something freeing about being able to stop being an adult and munch on a little cupcake for a few minutes. The kid got to come out and play.

One friend mentioned that he felt like he had Peter Pan syndrome - he never wanted to grow up. I'm not sure how you'd classify the boy who grew up too fast but then spent the rest of his life slipping back into that child-like state once in a while. I just get the urge to buy one of those bubble-blowers and go sit in the park, or build sand castles on the beach, or even just stare at the sky and try to see shapes in the clouds.

I suppose it's handy to make enough money and be responsible enough most of the time that I can afford to be irresponsible or silly others. Maybe that's the key - that we have to grow up, but just enough to fool everyone.


(Okay, last one for the day. Think of this as making up for lost time.)

I tried to run from 'neath the clouds
but all I found was rain;
It wasn't until I drank the drops
I found the sun again.

I tried to shelter from the wind
but wound up tossed and blown;
Not until I rode the breeze
did I find the calm had grown.

I tried to hide away from cold
but ice was everywhere;
As soon as I played in the snow
I found the warmth in there.

I tried to turn from darkness
but no light would shine so far;
And then, one day, I faced the night
and finally saw a star.

... from the archives

(I wrote a while ago that I found some of my old notebooks. The following is from around 1997, and fits a little with the theme of the last post.)

It isn't quite a color,
not exactly a shade,
It's not a hue or brightness
or a contrast to be made,
It isnt' really mute although
it doesn't make a sound
A presence always felt
even if it's never found
It comes and goes at will
although it never really leaves
And I can't say that it's credible
though everyone believes
It's something less than nothing
meanwhile nothing less than all
And of the greatest magnitude
even when it is quite small.

Show me a man who has never loved, and I'll show you a man with few worries and fewer hopes. Our greatest scar and greatest inspiration is the broken heart, for only through giving ourselves away can we ever really have a chance to be whole.


... I'd gaze into the sky at night
And wish upon a satellite
So far away it twinkled bright
And played a star for me to see....

I just read a post by Justin where he talks about watching the stars with the boy he loved but could never have. It reminded me of that stanza, part of a larger poem I wrote years ago; most of the rest isn't very good, but those four lines have stuck with me for 20 years now. The only other line I remember, the last line, is: "A lilac bloomed, the star shined on."

You see, I wrote that poem the day I realized I was gay - I mean, the actual day, within hours, of realizing I was attracted to guys and what that meant. The lilac, therefore, was me - or at least that side of me. I didn't allow myself to be very emotional when I was a kid for a variety of reasons, so this whole concept of "attraction" was a big deal.

The star, though... I grew up in East L.A.; even after moving to the suburbs, the city lights were often bright enough that all you could see were the brightest of stars and satellites. I had to make do with what was available at the time.

I think we all wish on satellites ones in a while. We all allow ourselves to pretend (or at least hope) that someone or something is different than it actually is, even when we know better. We see the truth, know its essence, and still make the wish. We have to, if only for a while, pretend it's a star.

I don't see that as a bad thing. It's the basis of hope, of dreams, of aspirations. Yes, we can cause ourselves heartache and pain, but sometimes even that has its uses. And sometimes, once in a while, a satellite can play the part so well that no one need ever know it isn't really a star.


What makes you you?

I had a discussion with a friend tonight. He's older, with a grey/white beard but still (mostly) brown hair. He dislikes the way it looks but adamantly refuses to dye it. "Older men who dye their hair are vain," he says, seemingly ignoring the fact that caring about how one looks is vain whether one does anything about it or not.

A few minutes later and in a completely different conversation, he mentions that he would never wear a "flowered shirt"; this comes up in the context of a luau, where "luau attire" is generally requested. He asked me if I'd ever wear a flowered shirt, and I mentioned that I actually wore a bright aqua-marine shirt to the luau I attended; no one seemed to care. "I'd never wear a brightly-colored shirt," he says. "An attraction to bright colors signifies a low IQ."

When I tied these two concepts together for him, he seemed taken aback and, instead, shifted the argument to "it's just not me; I wouldn't do it." I didn't push the issue any further, but it raised an interesting thought.

How do you define yourself? I mean, I've lightened my hair in the past; I think, in general, I look better as a blonde but don't always have the ability to get out in the sun where it lightens naturally. I also wear a widely varying array of styles in clothing. I don't consider either thing to be a significant characteristic of who I am as an individual.

Nor do I think it vain to change something about yourself that you don't like - or, at least, not in a negative way. That is, after all, why most people work out, lose weight, dress how they dress, shave, get their hair styled a certain way, etc. I think those things only add into who I am in the sense that they help portray how I want people to see me - that want or desire is significant, not the actual presentation.

I suppose self-esteem also factors into it. One excuse he gave was "other people would think I look funny", to which I replied that I didn't care what other people thought. "Then why do it?" he asked. "Because I like it," I told him. He still didn't seem to grasp the difference.

Oh well. I suppose it's "to each their own", but it still seems like a strange perspective to me: insisting on not doing something you want to do for fear of being perceived as if you're doing it to impress others. Seems to be a catch-22 to me.

On an entirely different note, it's quite literally freezing outside right now. I shut off the sprinkler systems so I don't wake up to ice sculptures in the morning. And no, I'm not watching the Oscars.

Under the weather

It's supposed to snow here this weekend.

I realize to most of the country, that statement isn't really significant - considering I know people whose multi-story houses were quite literally buried, a few inches on the ground is more of a joke than a calamity.

This, however, is Los Angeles - or near-enough, anyway. We had a little bit of snow the weekend of New Year's, but it was almost summer weather there for a month or so. It's been colder lately, and this weekend we're supposed to have the magic combination of another monster rainstorm combined with sub-freezing temps at the 1600' range.

That means snow on them thar hills, and that I'll be trapped for the weekend (I live at about 1800', but the passes from here to pretty much anywhere go up to at least 2000'). That isn't necessarily bad, of course - nothing like a forced weekend at home to relax. But it'll be unusual anyway.

On the home front, I've slipped into my big-boy pants long enough to make significant progress towards getting all my debts paid off and moving out (to less snow-prone areas). I'm still on the original targets I set, which involve apartment-hunting in late March and April, and moving before the end of May. It may not seem like much, but for someone who makes a good living explicitly so he doesn't have to grow up, playing "adult" for any duration is pretty exhausting.

I can't wait to be done with all this "responsible behavior" crap and get back to being silly.

Lift and tuck

Well, it's been a while.

My lack-of-consistent-posting is mainly due to the new job. [Insert Company Here] (I may abbreviate that as [ICH]) keeps me pretty busy during the day with stuff I actually like doing, especially when compared to the old company where I spent 80% of my time sitting around waiting for the disasters that would occupy the other 20% (but take 100% of my energy). Here, I'm busy doing moderately-difficult things most of the day.

So, whereas at the old company I had time to goof off (and in fact spent a good portion of any day "goofing off", since I was constantly in a hurry-up-and-wait mode), I don't really have that now. Which is good, of course, but also means I generally only get to blog at night.

So, anyway, that's the sob story.

I think I mentioned before that I'm getting back into working out. I've acquired, over the years, a decent dumbell set and a barbell; that means I can to a lot of stuff at home. However, the one thing I always wanted to work on and always found difficult without the proper equipment was my chest. You can only do certain exercises that efficiently target the chest muscles, and many of those require a bench or other equivalent so you can lower the weights down to chest level.

Well, I finally ordered a folding weight bench. It'll collapse down and be stored under a bed or in a closet or something, but it'll still do the job of letting me do real dumbell presses (and even has various inclination/declination settings).

Since a lack of progress in the pectoral region is usually what disuades me from exercising, here's hoping I can really stick with it this time. I'm not looking to get muscle-man buff, but I think more definition than I currently have would be a very good thing.

Please wait while we direct your call

Nothing much today.

I feel like my life is partially on hold. This always happens when I prep myself for major decisions in the not-too-distant future: it isn't so much a buildup of anticipation as an attempt to not focus so much on what is potential. If that makes sense.

It's like this: I made the mistake of mentioning to friends that I'm thinking about moving. Now, whenever we hang out, they start asking me about the kinds of furniture I'm going to get and whether or not I'm going to throw house parties. Whereas, from my perspective, I don't even want to think about it more than absolutely necessary until I'm actually ready to start looking. I'd much rather deal with the options I really have than fantasize about what could be and then need to deal with unrealized fantasies.

But that also means that, until I get to the point of actually having done it, I'm really not ready to start to think of "what comes next"... which means I'm in a kind of pending state for a lot of things. At least these events are "when", not "if": I've set things up so that, even if delays occur, they will happen. That's something I'm very good at. So there's an end to the waiting period in the not-too-distant future. I just have to be patient.

On a more "responsible adult" note, I finally got my financials taken care of - the 401(k) is being rolled, I've got my IRA set up, and my SEP is in progress. I made a comment to a coworkers that it felt a little wrong to be planning for retirement when I'm only 33, but that I supposed it was the best time to make such plans. She salved my ego by insisting on seeing my license, because there wasn't any way in hell that I was over 25.

Alright, so, I can be a "looks like 25 and has 3 retirement accounts" kind of guy. Throw in the sports car with the stuffed frog in the back seat, and you've pretty much got me pegged. I even wear my sneakers with a suit and vest. Chris Knight eat your heart out.

Up with which we will not put

Another week done and over with.

(Random thought: My head just automatically spun that into, "Another week with which we are done and over." I think I've been spending too much time editing documents.)

(Random thought 2: The real question is this: how many people would even recognize that the original phrase is, in fact, grammatically incorrect? It's at times like these that I wonder where rationality ends and irrationality begins.)

I seem to expect a lot of people - at least in the opinions of those people, anyway. I suppose that really isn't fair, but it's also instinctive. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that, while I know I'm an odd duck in many ways, I always assume that everyone I meet is at least as capable as I am in general areas. I mean, for the most part, I have no special training or advanced knowledge in anything; I just read a lot. Everything I know is out there and readily available to everyone else.

And even though it happens a lot, it's always a bit of a shock - always - when people fail to grasp something that to me seems just an extension of existing concepts. It's like, the whole world knows how to count to 12, but if you point out to someone that they can just add one more and get 13, that person looks at you like you're the second coming of Aleister Crowley.

It's even more jarring when they're highly educated. I mean, I know that a lack of education doesn't correlate to a lack of intelligence - I like to think I'm living proof. But it would seem to be more plausible that the presence of education - especially advanced degrees - should imply at least moderate capability if not brilliance. It's easy to be intelligent and skip school (some might argue that it's imperative), but it's hard to imagine defending a thesis without having above-average intelligence.

Alas, such seems to not be the case. I am, on a day-to-day basis, surrounded by people spewing diagnoses, chemical formulae, and treatment options the way TMZ discusses marital affairs, and yet these same folks get the deer-in-the-headlights look if I mention basic concepts. Like, "hey, you've got all these documents - why don't you put them in a database so you know what you have?" Or basic marketing concepts like convincing someone they have a need and that your product is the best one to fill it. Or being up information theory to statisticians, or psychology to administrative staff, or economics to social workers.

Seriously - do most people never venture out of their chosen field at all? A lot of this is stuff I've never even had an active interest in; you just pick things up as you bounce through life. How can someone work professionally for 40 years and not have an entry-level understanding of marketing?

Anyway, it's been entertaining at least. And I got my first paycheck at the new company, so yay for that.

No movies to see this weekend - at least, nothing I really want to see. I even dug through all the art theatres looking for something interesting. Instead, I'm watching a few gay movies online - thanks for the suggestions btw - and just chilling. We saw "The Green Hornet" last week, which was just as silly and campy and entertaining as I thought it'd be.

I've also been watching season 1 of Glee, and while I have to skip a few things - some of the "drama" is too over-the-top, even for me - overall it's cute. Well, cutesy, but still cute.

I'm not sure why I'm watching all these shows suddenly, other than the vague notion that this is how I get my "gay" on and that, for some reason, I'm feeling the need to do so. Maybe I'll get a little flashy this weekend when I go out, draw some attention.

Anyway, I suppose that's it for now. I think I'm off to read a book - short stories by Saki. There's nothing like a Clovis rant to bring out the giggles.


Everyone's unsure of something.

We all have insecurities. For some, it's looks. For others, it's intelligence. It might be how we dance, how we walk, how we sing, how we smile.

It might be that we don't know what we want to be when we grow up. It might be that we don't know remember how to be a kid. It might be that, one day, we wake up and look around at the life we thought of the prior day as completely normal only to not recognize anything, to wonder where this all came from and where it's all going to lead.

It might be simply wondering if we ever really woke up.

No one has all the answers; we're lucky if we can figure out the questions. The important thing is that we keep smiling, keep singing, keep walking... keep dancing. It's the only thing, really. If we run away in the times when we might be inadequate, we'll never have the strength to face the times we really are.

And we will be. We're all flawed. We all come to some point where we simply aren't good enough, aren't fast enough, aren't smart enough. We'll take the chance, and we'll fail. It's in the cards.

But you have to learn to not be afraid of it happening. You have to learn to spin it to something else, something positive, so you can get back up and try again.

The most significant moments in your life aren't when the world is cheering for you. They're when the cheering stops, and the only way to end the silence is to cheer for yourself.

And maybe in the echoes you'll hear a few of us cheering right along with you.

... to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

Wow, it's been a while. A bit of catch-up, then.

* Job's going well. Relatively speaking, I guess. The problem I'm finding isn't that I don't get along with folks or that I'm feeling lost or useless; quite the contrary, actually. In my first week at the office, I "accomplished" a half-dozen tasks that, to me, are pretty minor and I only really did because I didn't have my computer or software set up; however, a few individuals in specific positions of power have decided I'm the best thing since banging two rocks together created sparks.

This has good points and bad points - and the bad points *are* the good points. Apparently, I've caused a minor ruckus, in that a lot of people are asking if I can help them out with things that my department chair doesn't really want me working on (yet, anyway). We'll have to see what the fallout is.

* The consulting job isn't really doing much yet. I've gotten up early a few times for conference calls, but that's about it so far. I'm not likely to see any real work from it until next month. Still, they're supposed to be paying me, so I need to find out *when*.

* Speaking of paying, apparently I make too much to contribute to a Roth IRA - which is a stunner for me, since I've never been *over* the maximums for that kind of thing. I suppose that's another good/bad thing. So, I'm talking to financial counsellors about what to do with my 401k. I need to decide pretty quick here, though.

* I gave my best friend tuberculosis. Luckily, he'd already been tested.

* Guerneville was fun. Hot-tubbing in freezing rain is fun. I need to go back again, but it'll be a while before I can take time off. Oh well.

* A friend of mine is going into a pretty major meeting tomorrow about a screen play. Hopefully it works out well for him, though I probably won't have anything I can say about it for a few weeks at best (until the contracts are signed, if they are). Still, if you believe in that sort of thing, throw whatever mojo you can his way. He needs it.

* I'm working out again - starting out slowly, as always, and trying to build up. I really ought to be watching what I eat, and I think I'll break myself back into that habit as well. With the work situation stabilizing a bit, I can start planning things like lunches better.

* I find myself searching for decent gay movies to watch. Netflix doesn't have nearly enough on instant play. Just so people don't suggest them, the ones I like (and have seen): Beautiful Thing, Trick, Get Real, Latter Days, Parting Glances, Jeffrey, The Curiosity of Chance, Shelter, "Patrick, 1.5", Camp (not really gay, but soooo gay), pretty much all the "shorts" collections out there... I think that's most of them.

... That's probably it for now. Hopefully I'll be able to get back into reading and posting regularly, or at least more often than I have been (which has been once a week at best).

Anyway, we now return you...

To-do list

I don't "do" resolutions. Too often they're vague admonitions reminiscent of parental scolding: do this, don't do that, lose weight, eat better, and you might try calling your mother more often. They're ambiguous enough to provide no real path of execution but specific enough to make us feel bad for not meeting them. Besides, my mother's on MSN, so we chat all the time.

I do, however, set goals for myself - not just at New Years, but all the time. It's part of the mapping process I do in my head, and while I can't always fulfill them on the original schedule, I can almost always actualize them eventually.

So, based on the things I see coming down the line in 2011, here are some of the plans:

* Pay off all debt (should be around February / March)
* Move closer to L.A. (April-ish)
* Visit at least one country to which I've never been - likely something in the Caribbean for my birthday
* Get back into my workout routine - I fell out of it with all the stress and traveling this last quarter

Those are the solid plans. There are other things I'd like to do - hiking more, going camping at least once, try and get into swimming, learn functional programming, that sort of thing - but those are just ideas. We'll see if they happen.

I think, though, that in general my life is on a good track. I suppose that's the best anyone really should hope for.