Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Good and Bad news

Well yesterday I got some bad news and today I got some happy news. I'm not sure which to start with. I guess in the interest of increasing the number of people who read to the end of the blog I'll start with the happy news. After a long difficult and scary pregnancy I have a new nephew as of this morning. His name is Wade. Hahaha, just kidding I know that it's Ward (that's an inside joke). By all accounts both baby and mother are doing fine, so as you can see outstanding news. Not sure if I'll have the time to visit them in the hospital, but we'll have to see.

The bad news... Well there's this couple that my wife and I have known for at least ten years if not more, and he worked at the same place I did for the last 8+ years. Well anyway they're getting a divorce. This is one of those couples you would have never picked to divorce in a million years. Unfortunately things turn on a dime and the things we thought were rock solid end up having feet of clay. Obviously it's not my place to get into all the sordid details, but lets just say that nothing that happened made me question my loyalty or friendship to the husband and I intend to give him every help I can.

Of course the really crappy part is that they have five kids. Normally I'm pretty opposed to divorcing when you have kids, but of course every time I say that I come upon a situation where there's really no other option. This is one of those cases, but it doesn't make me any happier about things. Anyhow, it is what it is, and life goes on. It does put things into perspective. I was feeling fairly put-upon recently with all the demands being made on my time, but it could be worse I could be in my friend's position...

It could always be worse...

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Boredom is something that occurs with alarming frequency in most people's lives, and yet as far as I can tell it hasn't ever been the subject of any scientific rigor. We have no anti-boredom drugs (which might not be that remarkable if we didn't have drugs for just about everything else) there are no boredom counselors, no professional ennui advisers, no medical centers with one-way glass where scientists induce boredom and study it's effects. Do monkeys get bored? I seem to remember reading something about them getting depressed. When every other difference is stripped away (tool-making, awareness of others, celebrity worship, etc.) is boredom what truly separates us from the animals?

I think I'm more susceptible to boredom than average. I suffer from what I imagine is the same low level ennui most people do, but occasionally factors align and my boredom goes from being mild discomfort and frustration into an overwhelming impulse to scream. This happened to me last night. I don't necessarily blame the event I was at, I think much of it was just the stress of everything I need to do, and the feeling that while I was watching the half-hour power-point presentation (composed mostly of pictures, and bad music) I could have been doing those other things. In any event, in case you were curious, I didn't scream, though I may have mentally swore once or twice. I tried to distract myself by counting up to 242 in trinary with one hand, but that doesn't kill nearly as much time as you would think. Maybe I need a better method. Suggestions are appreciated.

Ennui is a French word meaning "a lack of cigarettes and wine"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I missed yesterday because I was furiously trying to get some urgent tasks taken care of in time to go home and grab a nap before the play. I mostly failed in that endeavor. I say mostly because after getting everything urgent out of the way and making sure I was completely ready to go to the play I laid down (wearing my coat, with the tickets in my pocket, ready to jump up and walk straight to the car) and rested for about 15 minutes.

The play was a mixed bag. My wife didn't like it because she felt no emotional connection to any of the characters. I thought it brought up some interesting points and that the dialogue was well written, but in the end I thought I'd be the victim of a bait and switch. The Wikipedia entry for the play says it:

...concerns the relationship between an American professor at Yale University who was a proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and her British fiancé's father, a habitual womanizer who is opposed to it.

So I went in hoping for a lively discussion where both sides of that very thorny issue went at it. Instead it ended up as two hippies (one actual, one sort of a post-hippie) arguing one very limited aspect of the question while basically agreeing on 95% of the issues.

Now I confess this is a pet peeve of mine. I really feel that there's a dearth of intelligent conservatives in contemporary media/art, so I feel the disappointment keenly when I go into something hoping to find one of these rare creatures only to encounter the same fauna I always see. I also confess that I may be expecting a level of balance from the play which was never intended by the playwright, but I also have this tiny, vague but persistent suspicion that from his myopic standpoint the play was balanced, that he covered what he felt was the entire reasonable spectrum of opinions and that everything else was just insanity...

Insanity, now there's something I can get behind

Monday, January 21, 2008


Today is a holiday, for most people anyway (I'm going to still end up in the office for around 9 hours). Since the kids don't have school I decided to catch up on my sleep and sleep in. When I woke up I discovered that it had snowed quite a bit while I was being lazy, and that there was about 9 inches of snow on the ground. Generally I'm favoredly disposed to snow. I think it's pretty, I like skiing (when I get the chance), I like the cold. But when I'm shoveling off my unnecessarily long driveway I have a real hard time recalling the good qualities of the stuff.

In the end it took me around an hour and a half to shovel the walks and the driveway. So in between sleeping in and shoveling (and painting a pinewood derby car) I didn't get in to the office until pretty late. So I guess I'll be staying pretty late to make up for it. Course even on the days I show up early I generally end staying pretty late, that's just the nature of the beast at this point. My wife asked me yesterday how long I thought the really long hours was going to last. I had to tell her I wasn't 100% sure, but that hopefully once I got caught up from December and the holidays that it would settle back down. We'll have to see. At the moment I'm really motivated to work, so I figure I should take advantage of that, since generally I'm what you might call "The Avatar of Sloth".

I'm also the Avatar of Vexation

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Well I'm watching the coverage of the SC Republican primary. Of course as you probably know Romney and Clinton already took Nevada. Even though McCain is up by 5% they haven't called it yet. I guess some of the areas which haven't reported are potential Huckabee strongholds. In any case I'm definitely a political junkie, and I find the primaries particularly interesting because they're so disorganized. Since the Constitution doesn't cover political parties the whole primary process is extra-constitutional and as a result there's lots of weirdness.

Of course not all of the weirdness is interesting and amusing, some of the weirdness is downright infuriating. In particular New Hampshire and especially Iowa piss me off. I'm very sympathetic to arguments that smaller states do a better job of vetting candidates than larger states, but it shouldn't be the same two states every time. Numerous bad policies can be traced back to Iowa's power in the primaries. And then there's the actual process of the caucus, which ends up being a democratic process only in the most vague sense of the word.

In the time it took me to write this they called the race for McCain. I think that pretty much means the end of Huckabee. If he can't win in the south he's basically done for because he's definitely not winning in the north or west. I was kind of hoping that Thompson would pull it out somehow. I know that a brokered convention would make the ugliness of Iowa look like a supermodel, but it would still be incredibly interesting, maybe we'll still get lucky.

Democracy is like sausage making...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pleasant Surprise

I've spent a lot of time over the last several months negotiating a deal related to the new business I'm starting. Unfortunately I can't yet go into any details on the deal, suffice it to say that the company I was negotiating with had never done anything quite like what we wanted, so there were numerous issues that needed to be overcome before we could finally sign, which we did on Tuesday. Obviously after so many months of hammering out the details and going through several times when I thought we would never reach an agreement I was pretty happy to finally get it done.

At my old job (actually it's not quite old yet I'm still on salary until Monday, and then I become a consultant, but I'll go into that more in a future blog) it was against policy to accept gifts larger than $20 (I think that's the right price, could have been lower) from vendors. You can probably easily figure out why, they were worried that large gifts could end up working as a bribe or a kickback. Fortunately we have no such rules or qualms at my new business...

You may be wondering what the two paragraphs have in common, well today two iPod shuffles (one for me one for the CEO) arrived as gifts from the vendor in celebration of closing the deal. I'm definitely excited about it, though I'm not sure I'm the ideal recipient. Mostly I sit in front of a computer all day, and though I always have some music on, I can just play it from my computer rather than using an iPod. So what I may end up doing is using them as an incentive for some of the guys I'm working with (i.e. if you can finish X by the end of the month you'll get an iPod shuffle). We'll have to see, perhaps I should give it to one of my kids to enhance their coolness. Lord knows with me as a parent they can use all the help they can get.

All because I’m white and nerdy...

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I realize I haven't blogged in quite a while and for those who've been forced by my long absence to start reading Harry Potter fan fiction in a vain attempt to fill the void I apologize. I've sort of had an unstated New Year's resolution to start blogging regularly again. I've put it off until now because I wanted to have a clear path ahead of me, so that when I started blogging I could continue to do so regularly from then on out. I think that today is that day, in fact I'm so confident that I'm going to whip out my favorite "bold new direction" quote:

                                     ...that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all—here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'd jump the life to come.

The quote comes from Act 1 of Macbeth at the beginning of Scene 7. Macbeth is trying to talk himself into killing King Duncan, and if you look at any critical discussion of this phrase you'll see a lot of talk about how Macbeth is considering the affect the murder will have in the afterlife. For example a few lines before he wonders if the "assassination could trammel up the consequence" (not only a great image, but Shakespeare also coins the word "assassination" as well, how cool is that?) and he also talks about "the life to come". Now I have no doubt that this is what Shakespeare meant, and that this is the meaning we're supposed to extract, but I've always taken a different meaning from this quote.

Rather than taking "the life to come" to mean the afterlife, for me the quote has always held more power for me if I imagine that "the life to come" just refers to his hope of a new phase of his mortal life. That he hopes the dagger stroke which ends Duncan's life will be the final act of his old life, the old life where is is not the king, and be the instrument of jumping from the shore (i.e. "bank") of his old life to the new life, where he is the king.

I've often felt this way (not the murdering people to claim their throne aspect.) I'm always hoping that my latest goal, or my latest job/project, or my latest idea will be so revolutionary that I will jump from my old busted life to my new glamorous life. But of course it isn't, there's a lot of reasons for that, perhaps the biggest is that I don't have an "old, busted" life, my life is actually pretty good. I have an awesome wife, four amazing kids, enough money so I don't have to worry, great friends, etc. Another reason it doesn't work is because progress is almost always gradual and only rarely cataclysmic.

Still I don't think it's a bad idea to make grand declarations of how you're going to "jump [to] the life to come". Sometimes you're like Sisyphus and you're at the bottom of the hill with a boulder, and you need some kind of motivation to start pushing it up the slope one more time, even though you know that eventually it will slip out of your grasp and roll back to the bottom. And declaring that "This time it's going to be different this time I'm going to lose the weight/finish writing the book/write in my blog every day" is a great way to give yourself the motivation necessary for that first push. And who knows one day you may actually get to the top of the hill, and the only way to do that is to start at the bottom one more time.

Screw your courage to the sticking-place