Category Archives: General

Closing Doors

Back when I worked at the University I always looked forward to the yearly SuperComputing conference. And even after I got laid off I kept following it on Facebook and news feeds to see what was going on. Today it just seemed so beyond the scope of what I have time for, or ever will again, that I finally unfollowed.

Maybe the final straw was discovering that the 2019 conference is in Denver and I’ve just never been able to get excited about Denver. The biggest highlight of the event, for me, was the roaming of a new city. Maybe that doesn’t say much for my commitment to computing excellence. I did, actually, learn quite a bit from the scheduled conference plenary activities, but the exploring seemed to really open up my mind and kickstart my creativity. We barely got checked into the hotel before taking to the streets wandering up and down looking for a meal somewhere that wasn’t standard fare. Then whenever time permitted we’d aimlessly wander streets we’d never been down until we’d seen as much of the city as we could take in. We calculated that in the eight days we were in New Orleans we might have walked nearly 100 miles. I saw a lot of cities that way: Austin, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Portland, New Orleans, but not Phoenix. Phoenix was awful. When two cab drivers refused to take me to my hotel because it was after dark, I decided that the couple times I walked the mile back from the convention center, in the dark (cowardly cabbies), was enough.

I imagine that I’ll still check in on the top 500 supercomputer list every year or so to see who’s currently winning the race, but there’s something that seems so sad about the choice to close that door completely. I had thought that my career would at least keep me in that orbit and that some day I’d be one of the old geezers like I’d see at the conferences.

I also got to wondering how many other doors are still cracked open. I closed my Rock Climbing door several years ago when I realized I’d never do that again and gave away my rack. I’d thought my Magic The Gathering door was open, but when my friend’s son told me everything was completely different now I heard hinges squeal as it nearly slammed. I think it might be jammed on an old elf deck, though. The hand-me-down upgrade to my golf clubs sits in the basement. A couple weeks ago I accepted I’d never golf again, no matter how much I’d like to. I’m similarly mocked by the fancy new clicker bindings and boots for my snowboard that sit shiny in their 1990’s boxes.

Closing doors is a part of life, only you start to reach a certain age and the doors start getting closed for you, and the frequency accelerates alarmingly. And here I reach the second crux that, I believe, everyone needs to pass. Closing the doors, and especially, having them closed for you, feels like part of you dying, and seems to leave voids unfilled behind the doors. Voids where you’d been putting memories, but never again. Maybe this seems like giving up, or failure, but it really isn’t. It’s just an ending. Things end. Like finishing a good book. The book ends, and you can think about the story, and you can walk again it’s now-familiar pathways when you need that story’s reminders, but the story has ended.

If that was all there was to it, though, it would be tragic. But there are always new doors to open. And, believe me, I can open doors faster than time can close them. (I wish I could get this idea of learning to paint in water colors out of my head.) This is the Crux Part II, bracing open the closing doors wastes a lot of time and energy that could be better spent diving through unopened ones. This is not easy. There is a lot of pain in closing the doors. It’s like a friendship that shouldn’t have drifted apart, but did. Especially painful if there wasn’t any reason for it to have done so. Maybe we need to be continually opening new doors so that the wonder of exploration offsets, somewhat, the pain of closing the finished ones.

Salt Lake Comic Con 2015


If there had been a Comic Con here back in the day, I could see my life being very different. As it is I’m older and afflicted by crowds and I’ve not made any rational decision to attend such a thing. This year was a little different. My daughter, Kayla, had attended last years SLCC with a friend, and while a lot of it was kind of traumatic (between it being her first con and a lot of bumps that needed working out from the Convention organizational side) it did turn out to be a good experience for her.

I had enjoyed talking to her about what she did at the convention, and what there was to see. I’ve also shared a great many nerdy passions of my own with her and we seem to have a bit of a connection there, so for Fathers Day she surprised me with a ticket to this years Con. Also, so I didn’t have to attend alone (and probably so I wouldn’t tag along with her the whole time) she gave her mother a ticket as well. She was even so nurturing as to make sure our tickets were preregistered so we wouldn’t run into problems like she did in 2014.

Somehow I’d gotten the idea in my head to make a costume of the Winter Soldier for Halloween around Christmastime and began letting my hair grow out. This bumped the hair growth schedule a month, but I don’t think I would have quite made it, even by Halloween. And with the slipperiness of time being what it is, the costume didn’t even approach presentable until the last day of the convention.

But despite the crowds, and the logistics of attending, I went and had a good time. So much has already been written about this being the age of the misfit, and how the internet has given people a chance to connect no matter how obscure their passions that I probably don’t need to add anything to it. But there is something to actually being in a place that is filled with participants who don’t seem to feel compelled to follow conventional guidelines of when you look good enough to wear spandex, or whether you can be accepted for liking something that is outside your gender or age norms. The acceptance from the attendees seemed almost otherworldly (or even Disneylandesque), and the support, advice and encouragement of the celebrities was of a nearly palpable nature.

One of the panels we attended was one Kayla and her friend Stephanie pulled us into as we were just standing in the hall killing time. Those girls know how to make good use of their convention, and I’m glad they took me into things I wouldn’t have ever chosen. This particular panel was by the brains behind the Hillywood Show, Hilly & Hannah Hindi. The room was just under halfway full, but there were a couple hundred very vocal fans there. They showed some of the parody sketches they’ve done, and the productions were very professional. The question and answer portions of these kind of things usually kill me, but most of the ones I saw at this convention had some really great responses to what are usually fairly common “what’s your favorite character” questions. These two women not only showed gratitude towards their fans, but were very humble about the good fortune they’ve experienced. Their answers to the questions went beyond simple pat answers and expanded into motivations and ideas that were more nurturing to creativity than just satisfying of curiosity.

I’d really only chosen about 3 presentations for myself out of curiosity, and only one I really wouldn’t miss. I’d been looking forward to seeing Felicia Day since she was announced as a presenter. I first noticed Felicia back in 2007 through the online show she created, The Guild. I was playing an MMORPG at the time and it really fit nicely into that space in my life. I’ve seen her career grow through TV show appearances as well as her online projects and I’ve always felt the connection that she understands the multitude of people who feel like I do, kind of disassociated and an outsider.

Felicia spoke without a moderator, and really just jumped into the question and answers right away. She was very inspirational, although I’m not sure that was her intent, but she exuded an energy of creativity and I was quite taken with her direction to just take what you feel and go do something with it. She obviously does, with so many creative irons in the fire, that I would soon be overwhelmed by it. But I get a feeling, deep down inside, that I need to be doing something similar.

I’d been debating on whether or not to go get Felicia’s autograph. I figured I would probably take her new book and get it signed, but hadn’t gotten around to purchasing the autograph ticket. I’m not sure if Kayla sensed that this was something I’d just talk myself out of eventually, so she purchased a photo op with Felicia and invited me and Debbie to come along. I’m not sure how celebrities face the public, especially after they hit a certain level. It seems like it would be so hard to even leave the house, but maybe that’s just me. You only get a few seconds for your picture, and you get repeated warnings as you approach the photo sanctuary: “No Hugging, No Handshakes, No licking, or other weird stuff.” And then you’re in and out in a few seconds. I imagine it’s the only way to get through the masses of fans. As we set up for the picture Debbie was on my left and as I tried to swing my prosthetic arm around her I kind of ‘thunked’ her with it. The photo was snapped and as we walked off Felicia laughed and called after me telling me not to bang into her with my arm.


Kayla, Stephanie, Felicia Day, me and Debbie

I wish I’d taken notes, and if I go next year, I think I will take some sort of notebook, nerdy as that sounds, because I felt so inspired by most of the panels we saw that ideas were just flying. Maybe that’s what happens when you get some sort of critical mass of creativity in one location. I’ve experienced it on several times before, but never when I’m alone trying to come up with something to do.

I had visions of how the costume should be, and knew if I started on it early enough I’d be fine. I found the boots, pants, belt, harness, mask and goggles fairly cheap online and all months ago. I had several ideas on the arm and knew I had months to do it, so I could afford to mess up a few times and start again. Somehow time got away from me and I didn’t start on fabrication until August, but that still seemed like enough time.

In reality I know what happens. I end up getting hung up on a detail and instead of working past it I kind of duck it for awhile until I’m pressured enough to tackle it head on. In the end I had paint-drying issues and was forced to concede certain particulars I had wanted. I ended up hand-painting some detail that I’d envisioned either stenciling or actually sculpting into the surface. The night before I sat with brush in hand, tacky paint under fingertips trying to decide if I could make it work, or if I shouldn’t risk it and just go with plain silver. I’d seen several Winter Soldiers in the first two days of the con. Some with store-bought costume arms. Some with tinfoil or duct tape ones. I finally found the courage from those other courageous nerds and the words of Felicia day and just dove in and did it.


(not quite) a Browncoat

While wandering around my web neighborhoods this morning, I ran across a list on about 10 ways of looking at firefly. I think the X things about <whatever> is kind of a weak premise to begin with and there seemingly no limits to which this device is used on the web. To me it seems a little bit of a slap-dash (to borrow an apt description from my boss) way of throwing together an article with as little effort as is possible, but I must admit that at times I do get sucked into them. After all, who doesn’t want to compare their own ideas with someone who is going to lay down a delineated list? In most cases the list seems to be the limit of the consideration given to the topics and no further attempt is made at analysis. Cracked seems to be one of the better exceptions to this rule as their webiste seem to subsist on these lists, only with more depth. (I got sucked into the memes that went viral before the internet list as I was verifying the url)

The Io9 article seems to be a prime example of what I dislike about list articles, it’s brief and superficial and doesn’t do justice to a great show. I do have to confess, at times I spend an inordinate amount of cycles contemplating Firefly, but I’m not what I’d consider a “Browncoat”. I’ve found myself immersed in a learning project lately that is decidedly Firefly-centric and has caused me a lot of contemplation about the nature of the short-lived series.

To say Firefly lacks depth isn’t accounting for the fact that it didn’t even get the first season completely aired before it was cancelled. I think Joss’  following Fox project “Dollhouse”  is a good example of how a more complex second season could have followed had Firefly been given the chance. Both the first seasons of Firefly and Dollhouse were just laying groundwork for the character arcs that were on the way. Unfortunately Dollhouse also just started to get good before they got the axe and had to wrap things up in a hurry.

That being said, were I to have written the Io9 piece, I would have said that the points I think Firefly was (or potentially would be) examining were:What makes up a family?
In the family theme we have the obvious Brother/Sister and Husband/Wife crew members, but we also have the crew as a family and the lengths that Captain Mal as the stern father figure will go to defend his family even when it runs against his stated intentions. Mal, the righteous outlaw, is contrasted with Inara, the potential mother and heart of the group, a law abiding citizen with a profession of a legalized prostitute that Mal finds immoral. The crew, like any normal family, may not always get along, but under dire circumstances they tend to pull together to help each other out.What does it mean to have faith?
In the expository scene we have Mal, a rebel Sargent on the losing side of a civil war briefly praying before running into battle. We are given the suggestion that some time later (likely through the defeat of what he considered a righteous cause) that Mal has lost his faith as he declines to participate in Shepherd Book’s saying of Grace over the communal meal, even saying he’d mind if the prayer is said out loud. Ironically, the most unrepentant criminal in the group, Jayne, even bows his head during the silent prayer. On the other end of the spectrum we have the Holy Man who has fallen in with thieves and has trials in his own beliefs. In the first episode Shepherd Book ends up confessing to Inara, in an ironic twist of roles, that he let the man he swore to protect get killed and he wasn’t sure it was the wrong thing to do. We even have a small setup on the science vs. religion front with the relationship between Shepherd Book and the troubled genius River as Book tries to explain that, “you don’t fix faith, it fixes you.”

What is moral?
This topic alone could be split into its own top 10 list. We have several comparisons of moral inequalities from the most grandiose as “when is it moral for governments to impose their will upon those that do not want it” in the case of the civil war where the Alliance of the core planets defeated the outlying Independents who wanted to live a life free of big government interference. Scaled down we are also given example after example of the petty fiefdoms and oppressive oligarchy’s that take root where the arm of the Alliance fails to dominate.

Corporate morality seems to also be present in the form of the ubiquitous Blue Sun Corporation, whose logos adorn billboards, t-shirts and labels throughout the series. We are led to believe that Blue Sun had something to do with River’s physical and psychological transformation as she reacts negatively to the Blue Sun logo in a pair of instances in violent fashion. From this we can infer that there would have been more of an arc of storyline on the morality of the corporate influence on an individual’s freedom.

On an interpersonal level we have examples of how morality guides the greater arcs of the individual characters. Mal sees himself as a sort of Robin Hood, but in the end many of his exploits benefit not the poor, or even his crew, but the criminal middle-men who hire him to do their dirty work. Yet, scraping by as they do, he often jumps to fulfill missions where the profit to himself is scant, if nonexistent through some ideal of what is right. Simon gave up a lucrative and prestigious career as a surgeon for the love of his sister, but what he sees as his duty to family supersedes any personal considerations. The mercenary, Jayne, sees everything through the filter of personal profit and openly refuses to act in anything but a selfish manner, even to the detriment to those around him. Inara makes her living as a high-class licensed prostitute that most of society accepts amorally if not semi-religiously. Mal continuously reduces her status to “whoring” and at one point in the series Inara accuses Mal of hurting his own prospects for criminal activity by staying away from profitable locations to keep her from plying her trade. Yet Mal tries to keep Inara’s reputation clean by separating her involvement from the rest of the crew’s illicit activities

The pastoral isn’t always idyllic and the technological isn’t always liberating

We have the tendency to look at the past through a nostalgic filter of a simpler time when men could live free, often without giving much consideration to the hardships of lives lived without the benefits of technology we experience. Also, we frequently don’t see the chains with which we are bound by the technological wonders that do provide our lives with such ease. As the crew of Serenity moves between worlds we are offered glimpses of both the technologically brimming core planets where everything is monitored, analyzed and policed, and the backwater fringe worlds in dire need of basic medicines and necessities. We see slavers and bureaucrats, criminal kingpins and secret agents and are confronted with the fact that no society on either end of the technological extreme is without its drawbacks.

Firefly offered a unique blend of Science Fiction and Westerns, two genres that offer freedom from the constraints of normality to evaluate our existence. Sci-fi traditionally inspects what it means to be human, and westerns give the freedom to evaluate the components of a society and how individuals relate to the structure our communities provide. Together with morality as a fulcrum, the Firefly universe provided a complex scale to measure our own expectations of the world we live in while being entertained by a rich, imaginative environment with the freedom to explore nearly limitless sociological combinations.

Space Nuts

I was just over 5 years old in December of 1972 when my dad sat me down with him in front of the TV. He told me it was going to be the first time a rocket carrying astronauts took off at night. I’d been crazy for spaceships ever since I could remember. I had Apollo print pajamas and a sleeping bag sporting sputnik’s. I remember it was special because I could watch this one with my dad. It’s funny, I even remember where the TV was sitting, but for some reason I don’t remember it being in the winter. It’s funny the things you remember as a kid.
Today the Shuttle Discovery took off on its last mission. Peripherally I was aware it was coming up, but when I saw a news article saying it was today, my productivity at work shot out the window because I discovered NASA streams the launches online. I called up the NASA website a couple hours before launch time and saw them strapping in the last of the astronauts. I was pleased to find that most of the commentary wasn’t the inane dribble of tv talking heads, but mostly live radio chatter with some explanation by a Kennedy Space Center official.
I tried to just listen to the audio while going about my other work, but I kept getting sucked back in by all the little details. The crew that was buckling in the astronauts wore their mission patches on the tops of their hats so the cameras could see the patches as they are standing while the cockpit is aimed heavenward, so the camera is pointed down. The harnesses that the white-room crew wear to clip in their safety lines has the primary tether access on the shoulder, rather than the back, so they can wear their oxygen tanks and not have them in the way. And my favorite, they said one of the astronauts “…worked at KFC for 5 years before she became an astronaut.” I had a mental double-take at that before I realized that KFC probably stood for Kennedy Flight Center, and not the chicken place.
Time ticked away and, as interesting as it was, I was getting a little impatient for the launch, and I vividly remembered asking my dad why they couldn’t just “light it off”. A small piece of the ceramic heat-resistant tiles came off when removing the protective tape around the door. A glass slurry was used to patch the hole and we heard discussion of how that patch cleared the rules for repairs within specs. The radio chatter with flight control started ticking off more completed items off the checklist above the 400 mark about then. The detail of our downtime checklists have stirred a bit of pride in me at work in their detail, but these were pretty complex and infinitely more thorough.
I had shared this time-killer with my team in an email, and every so often Sam would come to my cube, or I would run to his with some exclamation at the developments. Before the planned hold at nine minutes one of the downrange communiques reported in a rather stressed voice that there was a problem with downrange monitoring and they were a no-go. Flight control stepped in calmly and asked them to work on fixing it.
I was awestruck contemplating the bulk of the procedures involved that I hadn’t considered before. I’m fairly anti-bureaucratic and have done my share of scoffing with news reports of the boondoggle that goes on in any government agency, but in this case I found myself struck with wonder at the balance that has been achieved in safeguarding not only the lives of the astronauts and crew but the huge monetary investment of the mission. A valve was discovered to be .9 degrees outside the allowable differentiation in temperature. The area was checked and showed that one side of the valve was sitting in sun and the other side in the shade. A little discussion showed that fit in with an allowance that could be made regarding natural elements causing temperature differentiation.
The countdown resumed at nine minutes with the downrange still broken. An agreement had been made that the countdown would continue as planned until five minutes to launch and a window could be held a further five minutes to resolve downrange problems before scrubbing the attempt. In a dramatic climax you would expect from the movies the clock ticked down to fifteen seconds left in the window before the hurried commands were given that cleared the error and allowed the count to resume. The cone over the nose of the main fuel tank retracted slowly and the control surfaces and engines gave their final computer-aided tests, swiveling back and forth in a pre-programmed dance almost as if eager to leap from the pad. Flight Control gave the word that the launch area was being bathed in water in some sort of acoustic dampening procedure to withstand the launch stresses. The count hit zero and the sparking ignition sequence lit. For two seconds Discovery hung trembling and with my heart tight in my chest Launch Control said the word “Go” and like it had been unleashed Discovery began to climb.
And again I was five years old and trying to hold back tears at the roar and the light propelling a handful of people outside the safety of the Earth. I was struck with the accomplishment of putting together in working order such a broad spectrum of knowledge that we can move men to an extremely hostile environment and support them there and bring them back again.
In the end I was a little sad at the thought that there are only two space shuttle missions left. Maybe NASA will undertake great projects again, but the step back to single use rockets for supplying the ISS as well as the push for commercial companies to step in to that role also seems to be the ending of an era. Looking back to that December night when, with my dad, I watched a black and white tv and dreamed of being an astronaut, we didn’t have any idea that the Apollo 17 mission would be the last time that man would go so far into space for more than 40 years. Maybe the hope is with commercial space ventures and a reboot of competition to push back the boundaries once again, but I was always a NASA kid.

How do you know?

I want something.
I don’t know what it is.
It has caused a bit of trouble, including almost getting kicked out of a car in the middle of the Mojave…
In 2006, I decided I could, with a little help from my friends, build a largish garage to replace the one that was falling down and end up with a studio of my own. I really wanted that studio.
The studio is not done yet. If I really wanted the studio, wouldn’t it have been finished by now, despite the tumultuous few years I’ve had? It is close, if I only had some money I could get the insulation and drywall done…
If I really wanted it done, wouldn’t I have the money to do it?
I have a digital video camera on my desk.
I thought I needed to have it because I had so many ideas for little movies and this new youtube thing sounded like it might catch on.
I don’t think it got 5 hours usage and it’s quite dusty.
The video editing software I bought with it won’t install on any current version of windows.
I could probably repeat this scenario a hundred times, and not just with material things. My education butted my wants up against reality several times. Even after I found myself in a respectable career I decided I could finish a degree that wasn’t pressing me to use it daily, but could just be an enjoyable aesthetic enhancement. I’m reasonably close to a couple degrees.
It turned out I really didn’t want that, either.
Or, at least that’s my assumption.
It could be that I just don’t want anything, but it seems like there is some sort of pressure there.
Not knowing what I want really causes problems when people are trying to decide where to eat. Some of my friends and my wife have mostly learned to deal with it. It’s not often that I’m craving anything specific, I just get hungry. And I don’t often run up against a place I don’t want to go to. When Debbie found out after ordering pizza that it would be my 5th pizza meal in a row a while back she got a little angry. “Why didn’t you tell me you’ve only had pizza since lunch yesterday?!” Well… For one, I like pizza, and two I didn’t have to decide what to eat. Left to my own devices I often had dinners of microwave popcorn and soda. Or more frequently several trips to the fridge to find the same nothing inside and then off to bed.
But I digress.
Some questions can bring me to a screeching halt. “What do you want for your birthday?” is quite a show stopper. “Do you want to go to a movie?” is an easy one, the answer is always yes. However, “What movie do you want to see?” is fairly problematic. That question is closely related to “What do you want to eat?” But for some reason, with a movie I often care.
Right now I don’t know if I want to finish this entry.
That’s not unusual, I often have 3-5 unpublished entries floating in limbo that eventually meet a bad end in the lightcycle arena, or something.
And it wouldn’t be the first time that I thought I wanted to write about this topic and ended up being wrong.
Maybe it will be the last.

2011 Resolutions

So I don’t make resolutions. I find it kind of silly to hinge change on a single day, and on a day when everybody else is doing it as well. Maybe it’s just that latent rebel in me that also wouldn’t let me read Harry Potter or listen to Green Day. Maybe this year is different, though, or maybe it’s just that it’s an 11. I like 11’s.
So here’s how it’s going down. I resolve this year to make resolutions. New Years is as good of a time as any, and I think I’m adult enough to know I’m in a constant process of evolution, but there may be something to setting a few clear goals at the beginning of the year and follow up on them at the end.
To begin with here were my handful of goals from last year that definitely weren’t resolutions.

Continue reading 2011 Resolutions

Analysis Paralysis

I can’t help but think I’ve used this title before. I feel like I’ve been in a holding pattern spinning and waiting for my clearance to land, only with no other traffic ahead of me. I’ve got so many things I want to do, combined with all my responsibilities I really can’t seem to get started for deciding what comes first. I get my mind set to do something and before I can start I second-guess the best plan of attack and put it back on hold while I try to decide all over again.
I took today off work and actually did accomplish a little around here, and that’s a start. I moved a lot of the scrap wood cluttering the basement to the garage and I got the old kitchen cabinets that the Hallman’s replaced when they did their kitchen in too. They’ll probably work good for garage storage if I ever get the insulation and the drywall (and their respective inspections) done. I’m too afraid of getting stuff in there and then having to juggle things around while I do the finish work, but I don’t really have the money right now to attack more than one problem, and I have too many that need attention; which brings me back to needing to move stuff so I can get started on one project or another.
I made the temporary post and got it installed under the centerline beam in the basement to help support the sagging kitchen floor, and moved the jack to the front of the house to get the last of the adjustments made so I can hopefully start on the living room floor before too long. I was telling Jack the other day that I’ve been in my house for 10 years and it still feels like that first apartment when you moved out of your parents house and had the thrift-shop furniture and cinderblock-and-pine shelves. Before I got married I had my kayak in the living room for 2 years because I didn’t have anywhere big enough to put it. Sure, it made a conversation piece, but it’s not like I got enough company to justify it.
Somehow, I also got a week out of sync. I thought I had one more week until the Clay Arts Utah Potters Workshop with Brian Jensen, and that it was going to work out great because it would be on spring break Saturday when the studio would be closed and I couldn’t work. Now I have a bunch of stuff languishing in the studio that I won’t be able to finish unless I take a day off next week too. I may have to take one, though, I don’t think most of it will last more than a week without drying out.
And speaking of Clay Arts Utah, I don’t think I’ve posted anything about my new position. I was nominated (and ran uncontested, I guess) for the Secretary position for the next year. We had our first officer meeting a couple weeks ago, and I think it’s going to be a good thing for me to have to have responsibilities associated with my membership so I actually get out and see what’s going on in the community. I really need some sort of gallery representation, or at least get my online presence going because I’m kind of stuck artistically too. I keep making the same stuff over and over, and while I get a lot of wows from people that see my stuff I think I need something more concrete that will force me to grow a little, or maybe even give me some incentive.

12:30 on a school night

It’s windy, and I can’t sleep. Looking out the back door, the flag at the church a block away is blowing west hard enough that it looks like a school child’s drawing of a flag. My maternal grandmother hated the East wind. She told me as a child that a strong East wind blew a brick off of the chimney and it hit her. I thought at the time that was a funny reason to not like a particular subset of air movement, but whenever I notice that a strong East wind is blowing I think of that story now. There has always been something unsettling to me about wind out of the East, even before I was told that story. I don’t know what it is, maybe there’s a part of my subconscious that expects the general weather to move from the West and gets riled up if it encounters something contrary to its expectations.
It sounds like the random junk in the driveway is clattering around, which is funny because I’ve moved it all inside the garage. On Friday I even gathered up all the spare lumber from the build and moved it into a semi-organized pile near the back of the garage in expectation for this weeks storms, and I even managed to get a couple lengths of rain gutter hung up. It’s almost strange to look out the back and not see the big silver tarp looming over the back corner where the sheeting lay for almost a year. I really wanted to get more done before a lasting snowfall, but it looks like this may be it.
To be honest, though, this has never been a good time of the year for me. Not anything to do with the holidays in and of themselves, but from when the days start getting noticeably shorter the dark depression hangs over me. I often wonder if it’s as silly as being afraid of the East wind. Does it hit because I expect it to come with a sun that doesn’t rise very far above the horizon?
This year has even had an added bonus. The first cold and stormy day I found a pair of gloves in a hat and bundled up to go to work. Something in the combination of the extra outerwear and the snow took me back to the January before last when I was going for my chemotherapy every weekday, and for a few minutes I had a reaction just like I was back on the Interferon. They had told me that I needed to dress extra warm and take precautions so I didn’t get sick, because the chemo would have me weakened anyway, and if I got sick then my immune system would have to fight two battles, or something like that. Normally I don’t wear anything other than a coat, and in High School I even toughed it out a couple years in an unlined Levi jacket. Maybe it’s my way of saying that if it’s not winter, then I won’t get depressed.
Anyway, when I would go for the infusion I wore a nice coat that Jack gave me when he ungrew out of it. I’d also put on gloves, a hat and scarf. Something about the ritual of it every morning was comforting and unusual. Combined with the pain of the treatment and the cheerfulness and compassion of the Huntsmen Cancer Center staff it made a complex impression on me that I think is embedded in my already turbulent winter gestalt. There’s something really confusing about a feeling that makes your joints ache, your stomach fall and puts a happy smile on your face at the same time. But I hadn’t expected the feeling to hang on this long, and for some reason I don’t remember it happening last year.
And maybe that’s why sleep just won’t come right now. The East wind is blowing and I fear that somewhere out there lurks a brick with my name on it…

Groundhog Minute

So I’m coming back from taking Debbie her lunch and I’m passing some angled parking and someone backs out, so I let them de-park and start to move forward when someone else starts to back out ahead of us. The car I just let out speeds up so the new backer cant get out, and swerves way around them exaggerating the danger and whips off down the lane. I let the second person back out and we proceed down the line when the exact same situation happens a second time and the new person ahead of me swerves around and pulls off into the sunset leaving me to wait a third time for someone to back out.
Just another example of why I dislike going out in public. And it’s not even Christmas yet.


Now it’s not unusual to hear one of our cats growling, but it is weird when it persists for very long. I was sitting here playing my little game and Norman, the Siamese child was growling and being angry. I ignored it for a few minutes, but when it didn’t go away I went into the kitchen to see who was pestering who. I should have known something was up because there were two puffy cat-children looking out the back window and not at each other. But I was thinking about how close I was to getting Elath to 39 and just thinking they REALLY wanted out. As I reached for the handle I saw a gray shape outside the window and thinking it was Stan I almost let it in. Lucky for me I got a second glance before opening the door, because the nose was a little long and pointy for Stan, and I don’t remember him having a black mask, or him being a big raccoon. I swear for an instant the bandit smiled at me, and then him and his friend slunk off around the side of the house.
I was a bit worried about Stan being out there, because he thinks he’s a mighty hunter. I don’t think he could have taken these guys, though. But he eventually made it in and is happy on my lap, trying to keep me from telling this story so I’ll scratch his head some more.