Monday, October 27, 2008

Love, Amour, Liebe, Amore.

No matter how you say it, it means the same thing. Love is one of the more complex emotions. It doesn’t always manifest itself in the same way. It can mean different things to different people in different circumstances. Within the realm of ‘love’ there are many levels of love that one exhibits towards others. For example, you love your pet, your car, your kids, friends, and favorite food, your significant other.

Love for me is the feeling that you have for that special someone. You know that they make you happy. You see them and can’t help but smile. It is hard to explain. She is like the drug that you always want to have; you look forward to your next fix. When you want a late night snack, they’re there to share it with. Love is knowing that you have someone to hold on to during the tense moments of the latest thriller film and someone’s hand to hold when the tender parts feel close to your heart. Love means breakfast in bed; slow passionate kisses; spending time with your best friend; talking about nothing in particular but enjoying every minute of it; a hug after a long day; laughing at the world and how crazy it seems sometimes; feeling that you are the only two people in a crowded restaurant.

Certain endorphins are released when you are in love. It may be difficult to prove that people who have love in their life live longer. But would you really want to be part of the control group? Something that feels that good can’t be bad. People in love tend to be happier and patient. For love means patience. The Beatles said it best, ‘All we need is love’.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Devil's Party

So, I figured that it's close enough to Halloween to put some more appropriate music on my player. Come back often as the music is on shuffle, or just change the song manually to your favorite. I think that my favorite song on this playlist is the Ghostbusters theme track. It has that cool edgy 80s sound like so many Huey Lewis and the News hits. And that could be because it was basically a rip-off of their song 'I want a new drug'. It is a great movie; probably still one of my favorite Bill Murray performances.

I also enjoy The Nightmare Before Christmas. I am a fan of most Tim Burton films, but this is one of my favorites. Last year, my wife and I went to go and see the new 3D-version that was released in theaters. The film has taken on a bit of a cult following though. And for as much as I enjoy it, I still do not have a Jack Skellington t-shirt or hoodie; but I'm thinking about it. LOL

So, however you plan on celebrating Halloween this year, have fun and keep it political. No, seriously, my wife and I were contemplating going as Sarah Palin and John McCain; she's got the look and just needs a wig and I can wear a suit, flap my arms like chicken wings, and say 'My friends'. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Can Hippie. Can You Hippie?

I’ve been, I’ve seen, and I’ve smelled. The hippie way of life has something to it. But the biggest thing that appeals to me is the simplicity of it all. My life (or city life) is pretty complicated.

They walk, bike, and love their Subarus. Really. I have never seen signs on the doors of a bank that say ‘No bikes allowed’. Usually they say ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service’, or ‘No weapons allowed’. The other unusual sign is ‘Leave your pipe at the door’. No, I made that one up. But maybe that is the secret to the carefree and laidback attitude that so many hippies tend to have. I hear the home-grown is best, but keep watch for the Federales.

Everyone that I ran into was so helpful and friendly. Now some of this may come from the small town stereotype and coming from a large city it stands out to me more; I am not really sure. But it was a nice change. Cars slow down and wait for you to cross the street; strangers hold the door for you. I get tired of the bitchy ‘I’m better than you and I’m going to show you how’ attitude. People are different; some are smarter than others and definitely more so than I; others make more or less money at the jobs/careers that they have chosen. Does this really have to mean that we can’t get along and even have to be curt and rude to each other? I saw a bumper sticker today that sums it all up. ‘Don’t worry…Be Hippie’.

Monday, October 20, 2008


So, I am traveling again; this time to Durango, CO; the hippy village in the mountains. First, I had to get here. The only direct flight from where I live is on a small 38-passenger plane. And the plane is a Bombardier Dash-8 200 Series turbo-prop. Yes, commercial airliners still use propeller planes for regular routes; I’ve just never flown on one. It was loud, bumpy, and my seat was in front of the exit row so did not recline. Other than that, it was a normal 2 hour flight. I do have to admit that it was kind of cool to look out the plane window and see the propellers slowly spin and then gain amazing speed. And after we had taken off, to see the landing gear rise up into the engine enclosure; just like you see in the movies. If I had a whip, leather fedora, and linen shirt unbuttoned to mid-chest I would feel just like Harrison Ford in an Indiana Jones film. Of course, it would be the original (or maybe Temple of Doom) because it was the best; it’s all about the snakes.

As I pull up to my hotel. The large marquee out front has written ‘Welcome New Mexico Department of Health’. Wow, I thought, the department had to leave the state to have a convention. Oh well, maybe the hotels in New Mexico didn’t meet the department’s strict requirements. I turn into the parking lot and see that the marquee has another side. On the other side is written ‘Welcome British Petroleum America and Southwest Republican Women’. I’m not sure if the two groups are meeting together or just a coincidental run-in on the hotel sign. Then the thought occurs to me, maybe Gov. Palin is scheduled to appear and the groups are destined to become WRONG (Women Republicans for Oil and Natural Gas). Either way, I am looking forward to finishing out this week and getting back to my family. Don’t forget to vote.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Staff Meeting at 9 o'clock

Most people have experienced that feeling of dread at work; staff meeting. You see the memo in near the time clock or in the break room, you get an email, or the best way…word of mouth. Staff meetings are an unusual phenomenon. I find that most of them fall into two categories: self-praise and reform.

First the self-praise; these are the meeting where management gives themselves and the minions they govern props for meeting metrics that they themselves established. This could be in terms of quarterly profit, call or sales volumes, or customer service ratings. The managers are great for having carried out the vision and appropriately delegating responsibility to those capable of carrying out the mission. The employees are great for showing up to work, doing what they are getting paid to do, and not drooling on themselves…too much. All in all, everyone wins; well mostly the managers as their bonus scales tend to be a lot higher when goals are met.

Next are the reform meetings; these encompass training or recommitment to established goals. Again the managers are front and center. This time on the condemning side; those who were delegated to did not comply, step-up, or believe in their mission. The managers still have the vision, but the employees must have drooled too much. So, we need to recommit. Or perhaps you need more training to help you know how to do your job. Nothing is better than having your boss (who doesn’t really know what you do or how you do it) instruct you on the dos and don’ts of your job. Either way you feel reenergized about work when you leave.

Now, regardless of which type of meeting you happen to be having they have one thing in common…refreshments. The food of choice for meetings used to be donuts but this has changed; I think that you will find bagels still the more popular choice. This is odd as bagels tend to be higher in calories than donuts and require a spread, but that is another post. Back to the bagels; we had bagels at a recent meeting; a bakers dozen (why exactly that is 13 rather than 12 I am not sure) in a pre-established variety from the bakery; 2 blueberry, 2 asiago cheese, 2 honey wheat, 3 cinnamon sugar w/raisins, 3 plain. There were also two tubs of cream cheese; one plain and one pumpkin spice. When the call was over, and the remnants cleared from the conference room there were 3 bagels left. All three were plain. I’m not sure why they were all plain; maybe they were the bottom ones; it was a gross oversight; maybe no one likes plain anymore. You decide, but if you need an example of how a meeting at work should go look HERE.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And I Ride A Bike

It has been 3 months since I bought a motorcycle. I am nearing the 4000 mile mark. I can hardly believe it myself; further evidence of the amount of driving I do for my job. I still love it. For those who have never experienced, it is difficult to describe. Imagine riding on your bicycle, but faster and without the effort. I used to do a good bit of road cycling. My favorite part (aside from the great workout) was riding along unencumbered by windows, a roof, metal, plastic, and upholstery. I was close to the ground; gracefully gliding along dangerously aware of my speed and direction. I wish that I could ride more often, but time is a precious commodity and scare in supply. Sorry, my economics roots coming out.

On a bike, you perceive normal things differently. On the way home from work, I passed the local international (oxymoron?) airport. A large 737 bearing the Southwest flag passed overhead not more than 150’ off the ground. I have driven this portion of freeway in a car before and experienced the same phenomenon. You see the plane out of the passenger window; then it’s gone with a slight rumble over the drone of the local radio station, and then it reappears on the driver’s side almost on the runway. No big deal, I know.

Let me relay how it was on the bike. I see the plane off to my right on the approach. I hear the engines approaching. The gear is down and landing lights are on. As the plane passes overhead, I glance upward at the belly of the plane. Did I mention that this is going home traffic and that we are stop-and-go? It is huge. I suddenly realize that you don’t normally see the underside of a plane from such a close distance. It resembles that of a .45 bullet. (I can see why the parallel between the terrorist planes of 9/11 and deadly weapons is so strong. Planes provide a invaluable service in modern society. But just like guns, in the wrong hands can yield disastrous results.) As the plane moves to my left and toward the runway, I can feel the rumble of the engines. Traffic is stopped; so I continue to watch. The massive flying tube of aluminum gracefully glides downward and makes contact emitting a small cloud of smoke and a brief high-pitched squeal from the tires.

My wife went for her first ride on the bike, or any bike, this weekend. A little scared at first; she liked it. Riding with someone is different too. In a car, they sit next to you and your interaction is like that of sitting on the sofa at home. On the bike, you share the same space; are in constant contact with each other; work together as a team in balancing and turning the bike. I look forward to more rides and great experiences with her. If you don’t have a motorcycle or know someone that does, go for a ride on a bicycle. You have the same sensations, but only slower and with a greater sensitivity to the sounds around you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pieces of Flair

Do you know who you are and do you let others know it? That is the question of the day; a big one, I know. I like to think that I do an okay job of letting people know who I am and what it is that I believe in/stand for. There is a lot of pressure to play the B.S. game of ‘putting on a good show’ so that everyone thinks you are ‘normal’ or at least working with the flow instead of against it. Most people that ‘know me’ are either members of a close network of friends or the readers of this blog, as I bare it all here. However in person I am just not willing to put myself out there, in the proverbial sense, to just anyone; I withhold. My problem and another post.

Life is full of little circles. You live in one, work in another, and exist within an expansive set of them. For me some of my circles are as follows: husband, father, employee, man, citizen, pro-choicer, environmentalist, lover, conserver, Mormon, recycler, voter, motorcyclist, pacifist, and believer. Each of us has our own complex set that we operate within. At some point, or perhaps multiple points, we establish priorities; even changing some of the circles we call ours; further evidence that we are not static but dynamic individuals functioning together in the complex network of society.

I am reminded of a scene in the film Office Space. The character Joanna, played by Jennifer Aniston, works as a waitress at the popular chain restaurant Chotchkie’s (a parody of T.G.I. Fridays). If you have been to Fridays, then you know of the obnoxious buttons that the employees cover themselves with; I’m not a fan. But anyway, Joanna is told by her boss that she must wear a minimum of 15 pieces of flair (buttons) on her uniform. She wears 15. But her boss believes that she should self-express with more pieces like that of a coworker who dons 37 pieces of flair. She is pushed to the point of resorting to a universal piece of flair…’the bird’. I wish it were that easy sometimes. But then again, Joanna was fired after that. It takes guts to buck the system. For the rest of us, have as many pieces of flair as you want, but no one says that you have to show them to anyone. Individuality is a virtue not a vice.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shell Shocked!

So, I’ve been feeling nostalgic today. Not quite sure why, but it’s the truth. My kids watch cartoons sometimes; they’re not the same as when I was young; much better graphics. There is a channel called Boomerang. They show classic throwback cartoons like Yogi Bear, The Smurfs, Richie Rich, and The Jetsons. They are still funny even in their not-so-politically-correct ways. Anyway, so this ‘back to the days of young’ feeling that I am having made me think of another totally awesome cartoon…The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

I love the unlikely story of radio active ooze leaking into the sewers; four unsuspecting young turtles come in contact it (and somehow survive, but if they died that wouldn’t make such a good premise would it?) and mutate. They are now human-sized, intelligent, and under the tutelage of Master Splinter who himself has become mutated through contact with the same ooze, but is full of wisdom and awesome ninja skills. He takes the four would-be ninjas, Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael, under his care to create a team of protectors of the New Yorkers that despise them so much. What is it with Superman, Spiderman, and the like getting the love/hate treatment from their resident city folk? Sorry, another post.

They are radical! Okay, that one was a bit much. My favorite is Donatello. He is virtually the co-leader with Leonardo but cool with letting him think that he’s calling the shots. And how is a walking stick that can kick some serious butt not the coolest weapon? If you haven’t guessed, I watched the cartoon, played the Nintendo game, and saw the movies. The first was the best, but number two (Secret of the Ooze) had the Super Shredder and Vanilla Ice; plus the debut of Bebop and Rocksteady. So, it couldn’t be all that bad, even if Ninja Rap was. So, if you’re feeling a little retro just remember…Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Heroes in a half-shell, Turtle Power!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Hall of Mirrors

I was sitting at work diligently doing what it is that I do, because I'm efficient like that, when I was interrupted by a loud 'thud' at the window. Now, I'm used to noise at work. Next door a large commercial building is under way. So to hear the roar of the crane's engine, the crash of metal beams, or the occasional foreman's yell was not unusual; but this noise startled me. I looked up just in time to see a disoriented bird retreating from his encounter with the window to a nearby tree. Wow, I thought, what a dumb bird to run into a window like that. That was the end of my thoughts.

Later, I was walking around the building and noticed that most of the windows had dusted impressions left on them from where birds had come in devastating contact with them; like chalk lines telling the 'where' but not the 'why' or 'when'. I stepped back and looked at the building again. The windows are of the standard commercial type that resemble mirrors during the day. So, it wasn't that the bird was just dumb (even though the brain power of simple fowl may be debatable) but rather that he did not know that the window was not what it seemed. To him, it was open space extending into the sky; another path to where he was going; visually unobstructed.

Life is a hall of mirrors. It is that feeling when you are going along in life thinking that where you see ahead of you is where you are going; and that the way to get there is by following the path that you are on. But every once in a while, you hit a mirror. Just like the bird who is stopped dead in its tracks, stunned by what had occurred, you go from 60 to 0. But then what? Do you examine the mirror to try to understand if it is real, why it is there, and what it means or do you turn another direction and continue your journey? I envy the person who can turn and continue in a new direction at the same pace. I feel that after the first 'smack' of a life mirror, one is more likely to proceed cautiously as to minimize the pain and/or embarrassment should they run into another mirror in the future. Optimism is the key, I think; glass half-full and all that.