Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summing It All Up

Fight The Plague

This is an interactive blog. Please read through it and then add your observations in the comments section. This blog is posted in two different places Blogger and MySpace Please leave your comments on the MySpace page (it gets more traffic).

I have often times made reference to a term I call 'compression'. It refers to the concept that the world is getting smaller. Not just in the number of people on the planet, but the way that we all interact with one another. When I was a child growing up, India and China were a world away. It would take weeks to get there and cost thousands of dollars. Today, an e-mail or a picture can be sent to India in 5 seconds and cost nothing. This has a global way of affecting how we think, act and perceive things. Like it or not, we are moving toward one global consciousness, to the horror of most of our governments.

With this in mind, there are some of us that are lagging behind the rest. I don't' expect us all to be brainiacs and figure out all the minutia in a complex world, but come on folks, open your eyes. The world is changing, either get on board or get out of the way.

Like most folks, there are things that just tick me off on a regular basis. Simple things that just don't need to happen. They happen through ignorance, and with each passing day I come closer to purchasing a cattle prod to jab into the ribs of some of these people:

Conversations in hallways

You are walking down a hallway, or exiting an elevator or entering a building and low and behold, there are two people blocking the flow of foot traffic because they just HAVE to stop and discuss something really important. The fact that they could take 3 steps to the side and be out of every one's way never crosses their mind. They are in their own little important world and the rest of us don't exist.

Life in the slow / fast lane (see the Material Wealth blog)

In the desert southwest where I live, it is still the 'wild west'. We have pretty big freeways around here to handle the huge number of people that keep moving here, but folks still drive on them like they were dirt roads. The left lane is just another lane. It isn't used for passing or any other such nonsense. If the speed limit is 75mph, and you want to sit your butt down in the left hand lane and do 85mph, then there can't be anyone else on the planet that wants to do 90mph. That just wouldn't be conceivable in their pea-sized brain. Sadly, people going faster do exist and I am one of them. I have car that will do 110mph without even breathing hard, and you are just annoying me whenever I drive it. Try looking in your rear view mirror sometimes you jerk! (and don't give me a hard time about 85mph we are both speeding....everyone speeds around here, we don't fund the state infrastructure enough to hire adequate police and all the drivers know it).

The 'group' conversation on your Cell phone

There is nothing better than to go grocery shopping or browse through the local Barnes and Noble while listing to someone on their cell phone (or worse yet, Bluetooth Headset) talk about their most recent medical procedure or discuss what their offspring are going to do now that they have been released from prison. Just because the person you are talking to is hard of hearing or has a crappy phone, doesn't mean we all have to hear about it. Try and look up the meaning of the word politeness as I lock you in your car with the windows rolled as you talk on the phone to your girlfriend about your hemorrhoids.

Dealing with other's mistakes (see retribution blog)

I can't recall how many times (I really can't) that I have been given a task to perform, that first involves trying to figure out how the last person assigned to the job screwed it up. If someone didn't do their job right and got fired (or worse yet, got promoted), why does it fall on the next person climbing the ladder to fix their mistakes. If they got fired, their supervisor should be fixing these problems. Because they weren't.......supervising. If they got promoted, yank their ass back down to their old desk and tell them that their job is on hold until they finish their last one. This passing the buck mentality is starting to really become a drag on my work ethic. I think I need to take my cattle prod for a walk in the Human Resource Department.

Taking risks (it's OK, hit the reset button)

Daily, I am bombarded by people asking me how to do things. As if I walked around with a Jack-Of-All-Trades PhD stapled to my forehead. I don't know how to do that much. I am just not afraid of taking risks. If I yank out a bolt and the whole machine comes apart and falls to pieces, it just means that the project will take longer, it doesn't mean you are a failure. And honestly, most things these days have built in obsolescence anyway, so you are going to have to buy a new one sooner or later. Might as well figure it out while you got it. Life is full of risks. If you don't take them, you really won't advance very far. When all else fails, unplug the sucker and plug it back usually solves a world of problems.

Marketing your life away, you NEED that Hummer (see the Urban Assault Vehicle blog)

Restless Leg Syndrome.......when the hell did this become a disease that you can talk to your doctor about AND get medication for? Are we to believe that our ancestors that came across the ocean in clipper ships and crossed the prairie in covered wagons died by the thousands because they didn't have Claritan and Requipe? Can I get a drug for my terminal stupidity? I am sure someone is working on it right now. When did marketing stuff that is so over the top become such a norm? There have always been Dusenbergs and Rolls Royces, but since when did we all have to drive Hummers and Ford Super Duty Pickup trucks with 400hp? What floors me is the fact that what we see on television is considered normalcy. Is grown men driving as fast as they can around a circle really considered a sport? Why is it that a 7 foot tall man can put a ball through a metal hop and make 40 million dollars a year, but a man that goes through 8 years of college and internship to become a brain surgeon is only paid $200,000 a year? One saves lives in anonymity, the other puts balls through hops to the cheers of millions. Do Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan have agents that promote bidding wars to see which tabloid will pay the most for pictures of the 'client' passed out on a park bench with a bottle of Jack Daniels? You bet they do. The media is a circus and we keep paying money to laugh at the same clown jokes over and over. I should probably stick a cattle prod in the television....if not Rupert Murddock.

The space around you affects others, be aware of it.

In the compressed society, you might think you have space, but you don't. In the city, almost everything you do has an affect on others, you just don't perceive it. I used to walk to work. It is a 45 minute stroll and I took my iPod with me to give the world an edgy if not surreal soundtrack. I quickly learned that you have to constantly look around to makes sure there aren't bicycles coming up behind you, drunks passing out at the wheel and running up on the sidewalk, stray barking dogs chasing after you and police helicopters flying overhead. This thing we call human society is a dangerous place,. If you are going walk / drive around in it, be aware of what is going on. I don't want to be the one that has to haul your ass out of flaming overturned vehicle because you didn't see the train coming.

If you have a problem, be clear and concise about it. (FIX IT, doesn't do it for me)

I don't care who you are. If you have exhausted all your brain power and still can't get the car to start, the television to come on, or the door to unlock, then ask someone else to solve your problem. But if you do be clear and concise about what the problem is. If I get one more e-mail or phone message saying "May application doesn't work, what wrong?", I am going to go postal. If I could solve your problem(s) with that little tidbit of information, I sure wouldn't be working where I am. I would creating new and perfect worlds with my omnipotent abilities. There is an art to error reporting....sadly, the public school system hasn't added it to their curriculum, thereby assuring me job security till I die.

Talking in the bathroom / Sauna (see the Steam blog)

In the compressed world, there are few places of refuge. My garage is one. But outside of my tool shed, there are few others. Places that I can seek refuge to try and sweep up my sanity in the dustpan of life are the men's room stall and the sauna at the YMCA. So when I am in them, dreaming of that Polynesian beach with me and my topless wife, PLEASE don't come in and start talking to your buddy about your stock portfolio or your hot new girlfriend. These are hallowed places, holy places....they aren't bars with Jukeboxes. Come in, shut up and do your business and then leave. I don't want to be an unwilling participant to your most recent trip trip to the doctor to get some Requipe or your weekend at the Hummer dealer.

Ordering fast food by number (not by item), that is why it is fast food....otherwise go to Denny's.

Here is a little prank you can play. I do it all the time. Go into a fast food restaurant (go inside, not the drive thru) and ask for one of the combo meals by number and ask for it 'here'. As in, "I want a large #2 for here." The pimply-faced cashier behind the counter will give you a total, and then ask you, "Is that for here or to go?". It happens every time. These folks aren't paid to think or know what they are doing. They only go through the motions. They are automatons, little fleshy robots. Fast food is just that, Solyent Green, served in Styrofoam and cardboard. It isn't supposed to be good for you and it doesn't taste good (although the media tells you it does). If you go into one of these places, give them a number, pay your cash, tell them for 'here' or to 'go' (after they ask you) and move on so the next hog in line can step up to the trough. These aren't places where you can have your food 'prepared' for you. These are unskilled, illegal workers for the most part that only know how to make 2 or 3 items......if you want something special....go to Dennys, or Cracker Barrel and eat off some real plates with silverware.

Don't assume people aren't busy......not all 'work' requires movement.

I spend a lot of time staring at my computer monitor. It looks like I am not doing anything, but you would be wrong. I am usually trying to figure out why the data on my screen is total garbage. Either I don't have a table linked correctly in the query, or I haven't created a formula right, or the data has been input by monkeys and I have to figure out which monkey did it. Even though I am not dancing around my office like a Mohamed Ali, I am still working, and it often times gives me a headache. So when my coworkers hop skip and jump into my office and interrupt me to solve one of their little problems, it totally disconnects my train of thought. They don't see that, because they assume that since my arms aren't moving, I am not really working on anything important. So think of it this way....the next time a brain surgeon is operating on your daughter and you don't see his hand moving around, just walk right into the operating room and asking him how the coke machine in the lobby works.....I am sure it won't affect your daughter in the least.

A straight line is not always the fastest route

I used to work in the insurance business. I adjusted accident claims. Which means I argued with lawyers and documented guilt or innocence a lot. If you want to avoid half of the accidents you will be involved in during your life, here is a simple tip. Don't make left turns. If you are pulling out across traffic and making a left turn across oncoming traffic, you are going to get hit. It is the law of averages. Make a right turn with the flow of traffic and go around the block. It only takes about an extra 20 seconds of your time, and will save you a world of hurt and money. This concept is thinking outside the box. Many people have the illusion that the quickest way to get someplace is a straight line to it. If that were the case, then nature would make all rivers straight and all trees would look like pencils. A roundabout route, following the path of least resistance is often times the fastest and safest route. Think outside the box, much of what you have been trained to think is false, chart your own course. The media doesn't like you to think this way. They want you to get in your Hummer, drive to McDonald's, stand in line while talking on your cell phone and then order it 'your way' while everyone you have almost run into or walked over waits for you to get out of the way.

That is all the things that I can come up with today, but I am sure there are others. I encourage you to write yours in the comments section below. If I ever write a book or leave a long rambling suicide note, I will be sure to give you credit for your input.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Urban Flyer

Humming down a sidewalk.
Emissions free

Tree lined streets
with rough pavement
Barking dogs
and the smell of wet grass

Wind at my back
An extra 3 mph
With a watchful eye
for cross traffic

Up and over
Pedestrian bridge
Vaulting the freeway
Where thousands wait

Skirting past the sleeping drunk.
Hindered by the traffic light
My own little third world
Isn't such a bad place

(a homage to my $70 electric scooter salvaged from the thrift store. With only a mile and half to my office, it is the best commuter vehicle I have ever owned.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Its All The Same

One of the problems with the human experience, is that we tend to have tunnel vision. We see and experience things in our own time and fail to see how things were done in the past (which got us here) or how the things we do now will be perceived by future generations.

We don't 'live' across time, we only exist in the hear and now. Our lives span history but we don't tend to think of it that way. Hence, the famous saying; "Those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it."

We see the angry old man yelling at the children on his lawn and think, "What a jerk". We don't think of what got him there, or what experiences made him that way. We see the cute and cuddly baby crawling across the grass, giving chase to a puppy and don't wonder if his parents are doctors or drug addicts. So much of our perception is based on hope, expectation and instantaneous reaction to what we see. As a society, we don't tend to scratch the surface much.

I have been doing a lot of cataloging recently. Scanning old film, video (in various formats), pictures, slides, etc....trying to organize them and make sense of it all. I have a lot to scan. I have taken literally thousands of pictures in the past 20 years. There are also the pictures and film that my parents took and the pictures from my wife's family as well. I have been scanning all of them.

One particular album had me fascinated. It was a book of black and white prints that were taken by my father when he was a young man. Before he was married, before he met my mother, before he was 'dad'. I scanned these pictures at a very high resolution. When they appeared on the computer monitor they were huge, sharp and clear. Not the little two inch by three inch photo in the album. Suddenly they burst forth with detail that I had never noticed. For the first time I saw the slight smile, the glint in the eyes, little things in the background, the texture of a leather jacket.

As I scanned them a mosaic emerged. A picture that I had never seen. There in black and white is my father as a young man. A rebel, carefree, optimistic. He was good looking and he looked cocky. He was probably a trouble maker. Terms that I would never have used to describe him when I was growing up. When I was a child he was always DAD. Stable, dependable, fair, compassionate, a good provider and a mentor. But that wasn't the man in these pictures. As a teen he looked rebellious, a go-getter, ready to take on the world. He had no worries and not many things scared him. He was at the beginning.

Looking at those pictures, I realized that life is the same for all of us. I had lived the same life growing up. I had gone through the same things. Once I was cocky, carefree, and a rebel. But I didn't see it at the time and I probably don't appear that way now. I didn't know that those experiences would get me where I am today. That the choices made back then would set my course. My father didn't know it either. He was just like me, and I am just like him. I got into a lot of trouble to, but I made it.

For a glimpse back at the way life was (and how much it has and hasn't changed) I have uploaded all of my fathers pictures onto a web-page. These are all black and white photos taken between 1935 and 1945. They offer a rare glimpse into the time just prior to and during World War II. My father was a flying instructor in the Army Air Corp and there are many pictures of him both in the service and as acivilian. Many of the photos have comments written on the back and these were scanned as well.

To view the pictures, just click the picture at the top of the blog, or go here.