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06/01 Direct Link
STEPHEN CRANE, BR#24

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
"It is futile," I said,
"You can never-"
"You lie," he cried,
And ran on.

When I was young and first read this verse I was inspired, confident I would spend my life as that man accosting others, aware they were lost, getting wrath as my reward. Today, when I consider my favorite verse, I cannot help but feel I am the one pursuing the horizon, although I've come to expect no stranger to care enough to stop me.
06/02 Direct Link
I have always loved to write: poetry, fiction, travel stories, angry letters. There was a time I could not get my pen to flow, now my brain won't stop. Not the ideas, just words. They come out of my brain like the line of clowns that tumble out of that tiny circus car. I try to express my gratitude, argue a point, or 'tell a little bit about myself' to a new group and somewhere around the forth rambling sentence a little voice says "You did it again". I can see it in their eyes, but seemingly cannot prevent it.
06/03 Direct Link

I dreamed last night of being in the airport, looking out at jets taxiing past my window as I patiently wait. For twenty years I raced to airports and waited for jets, living your life to someone else's schedule, then totally helpless to affect the weather, delays, connections, cancellations. Like my dream, I was always the man patiently sitting, watching the jets, waiting for my next available flight.

I had three hours of dizzy spills today, enough to keep me from washing dishes or driving the car, but not enough for the disability insurance to dispute my claim. Show proof.

06/04 Direct Link

We sold our home and moved into a cramped condo that we can now afford. For the first time, we are uncomfortable, and reminded daily that we have accepted a lifestyle we did not choose. When we argue, one must leave the house to allow both to calm down.

Our cat died in May, but had gone from having rooms full of sunlight to one cramped corner and two north facing, always closed windows. When he died, we decided it would be cruel to bring another cat here. We imagine, and can still hear, his footsteps when we call him.

06/05 Direct Link
Remembering Chicago I thought of Chicago today, and how I had visited so many times that I had favorite morning streets and favorite evening streets and favorite paintings at the Art Institute
(open late Thursdays)
and favorite office windows to look out and take pictures.

When it was warm we saw the Sox or Cubs and walked back across the bridge to the hotel. When it was cold I made the horrid pilgrimage to see comedy by myself as nobody would come with me

and I sat by myself
and laughed by myself
in a room full of laughing strangers.
06/06 Direct Link
A local radio station switched from easy-music to become a third Right-wing All-talk station. Two 24-hour blathering Republicans were not enough to pick between. Yet if we ask for "equal time" for an opposing point of view: Democratic, Socialist, Communist or Libertarian; we're told the marketplace has decided. But only Money has decided. Money bought those stations, and pays to disseminate its agenda. Rich companies buy the ads, for rich suburbanites to hear driving their SUV's to the mall. No advertiser wants a bus-riding welfare-recipient's attention. No collective of slave-wage earners can buy a radio outlet. There is no "free-market".
06/07 Direct Link
SAN FRANCISCO

We had been there dozens of times for week-ends, driving trips, and family come-alongs. In the end it was just six hours out and a red-eye home (with terrible connections after 9/11). Travel wanted us to stay at the Hyatt across from the office, but I watched the trolley cars wrap around the Embarcadero and head off to Fisherman's Wharf. Every morning and evening I would pay one dollar and be an office iconoclast as I watched the waterfront ride by for fifteen beautiful minutes. I told everyone my secret.

"They want us to stay at the Hyatt".
06/08 Direct Link
POUND OF CURE

I lost my keys.

Not just one key, or two.

The entire ring, including the little clicker that opens the doors and it turns out the stupid car key is incredibly expensive and can only be bought from a special store and I was told by the guy that I should buy another when we first got the car because if we ever lose one it would be difficult and expensive to replace if you only have one key.

I checked. I have "Get extra Smart-Key for New Car" on my things-to-do list,

dated six months ago.
06/09 Direct Link
When I drive in rush hour traffic, about every 30th car I see will have one or more Bush-Chaney 2004 bumper stickers. The same with 30 cars parked at the mall.
Why?

The election was over a year ago and there were a lot of hard feelings. For many there still are. Are they showing support? Is it more of 2000's "Get over it" campaign? Republicans never did get over Clinton.

I have new neighbors. I baked them cookies and they washed my patio furniture when they washed theirs. I finally saw their "W-04" sticker on their second car.
Why? (09/05)
06/10 Direct Link
We are sitting on a 'gold mine'.

It's a cute and quirky little town with a little post office and our favorite coffee shop and a small boat marina where we walk in the evenings once the heat and rains of summer pass. Our town is filled with quirky little houses that have slowly been bought as incomes, either now rented or owned by "old hippies" that paint them crazy colors or open them as craft stores.

Everyone wants to be here. They just approved tearing down another five homes to build another twelve condominiums that only millionaires can afford.
(09/05)
06/11 Direct Link
On 9/11 I was in Phoenix, so everything happened at 6AM. I was drowsing and a voice on my quiet radio was shouting "Get Up! Get Up! Turn on your TV!".

My company had consultants in WTC. One of our men fought on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. We had people on that TWA crash.

When the airports opened 3 days later, a hurricane was passing through Florida. But when I finally got home, nobody from my family had called to ask if I had been affected, although I had been traveling by air, weekly, for 10 straight years.
(09/05)
06/12 Direct Link
The accusations of "Racism" in post-hurricane New Orleans seemed pathetic and counter-productive to me. I do not believe that America has large-scale systematic racism anymore of the likes of Jim Crow laws, whites only drinking fountains, lunch counters or bus seats. Today's racism, where it exists, is more insidious, at a personal level, when someone chooses not to hire or promote, rent an apartment, buy or sell a car, ticket arrest or jail, vote or not vote for based on race. These things are personal, and rarely institutional anymore.

But woe be to anyone poor in America, regardless of race!
(09/05)
06/13 Direct Link
When I load my dishwasher, I take five seconds and brush each item under hot water first. Women are aghast. "Why don't you just wash the dishes by hand?" It seems crazy to use random hot water blasts when a sentient being places the targets initially into the shooting gallery.

This then too.

I confidently unload my dishwasher, but they take time to inspect the clean items to see if those random jets hit each spot. They will spend three times as long inspecting as I spend preparing. It makes no engineering sense.

You don't inspect quality into a product.
06/14 Direct Link
For twenty years I traveled extensively for business, different hotels every week, sometimes every night. Uncomfortable rooms, uncomfortable beds, lots of noises (slamming doors, voices, clanking). I carried a small radio with tiny "ear buds" to bed, to drown out those noises, and it worked great, with this twist.

If I listened to music (symphonic, elevator, classics) I stayed awake, interested. Instead, I listen to talk-radio, especially on subjects of no interest (college football, vitamin additives). With the volume low, I doze.

An unexpected result. When I wake-up, I know the current News / Weather / Traffic subliminally, and cannot explain why.
(09/05)
06/15 Direct Link
When I used to work, I did everything with Excel spreadsheets. Every project, budget, status report were in Excel. When HQ sent out spreadsheets, I would enhance them and send my "guerrilla" version to my team and friends.

Now that I am at home, I was lost the entire first year. They said "clean a different room each day". I finally implemented a factory visual inventory system for my laundry, canned goods, and oversized groceries and Excel scheduling spreadsheet with "dust ceiling fans", "replace DampRid", "refill JetDry".
(09/05)
06/16 Direct Link
A quiet voice on my radio told me Chris Schenkel died yesterday. You probably don't remember him, he was an ABC Sports announcer. When I was ten, I talked five people into subscribing to my local paper, and "won" a trip to a Saturday basketball game with twenty other paperboys.

Our chaperon was a goofy intern, and kept us last (to keep us together). When the post-game TV lights went dark, he hustled us down to the courtside press table. How we must have looked! Chris Shenkel made small talk. Our chaperon got a handshake.
(09/05)
06/17 Direct Link
When I used to travel on business I would get so mad at my wife. We had many unopened boxes in our living room, six years after we moved in. We spent our time in the family room and used the living room only for storage and my business items and for packing and unpacking me. Once a pizza delivery man asked "Just move in?" and I yelled after he left, but those boxes stayed until the day we sold that house.

Now I am the housekeeper and my living room is a mess. Some days you can barely open the door.

(09/05)
06/18 Direct Link
It was ten full years ago that I set and achieved my last big goal in life. That's really weird to think about. Eleven years ago we said "In one year's time we will have a new job, house, and every thing required to live in Florida". My son's birthday was the target, that we would drive locally to Disney World. We achieved that goal, (with three months to spare).

Oh, I've had little ones since then, I want to learn to cook, go to Paris, take a certain class, etc. But ten years since the last big goal. Hmmm.

(09/05)
06/19 Direct Link
When I was young, I could not sit still to watch a movie. My attention span was set to 28 minutes by Gilligan's Island, Batman, Adam-12, and The Monkees. I could never sit still, and "hated" movies except the grossest of comedies or action flicks.

During home-schooling, we wanted our son to see movies that taught moral lessons. Twelve Angry Men, Lilies of the Field, Gentleman's Agreement, Best Years of Our Lives. When the AFI list came out, we started methodically watching them. Suddenly I've seen over 300, often getting 4 at a time from the library. Who am I?

(09/05)
06/20 Direct Link
Business had me travel to so many places that I started a list, and then started figuring out where I had NOT been. At that time I had been to 95 of the 100 largest cities in the USA. I got sent all over, but never to Oklahoma City or Wichita, Kansas. My friends had been sent there, some several times, just not me. So as silly as it seems, we put together a driving vacation from Dallas, up through those cities, and back home to Florida. We ate Bar-B-Q, and visited Branson, and I got my two check marks.

(09/05)
06/21 Direct Link
Its hard to remember that almost three years have elapsed since I've traveled regularly. That was great, traveling "on expenses", having a skill that is delivered on the road. What a life! To see the country and the world. To see people in their hometowns. To see the geography and cultural anthropology of America was wonderful.

But the Wal-Martting of America had already made much of us the same. I used to say I could tell a person's home state / province by their accent. But in eight short years, accents had all but disappeared. So had good paying jobs.

(09/05)
06/22 Direct Link
My son and I went grocery shopping today and (what luck) the closest spot was blocked by an empty cart. We watched two solo drivers pass it by, then I idled while he jumped out to clear it.

Suddenly, the ENORMOUS Lincoln Navigator in the second spot hit reverse and nearly crushed my trunk. I was forced to pull forward, then move again out of HER way.

It struck us simultaneously. This 98 pound bitch thought nothing of wasting the world's oil, of bullying my car, and it had been her empty cart we had to jump out to move.

(09/05)
06/23 Direct Link
For ten years now, every Saturday morning I wake up and listen to my local fishing show. Now hear this: I don't fish, I own neither rod nor reel, nor like the sights, sounds, or smells of fishing.

At night I insert walkman earphones and drift off listening to talk-radio. Saturday at 6am, the familiar sea-bell and sea-shanty rouse me and I lay in half-slumber and learn about today's tides, where the grouper are biting, if muskies are in the inter-coastal, and to always show respect to shore fisherman "because you don't have to own a boat to enjoy fishing."

(09/05)
06/24 Direct Link
The first time I went to NYC, I was so frightened. I drove in, arriving on Sunday at 6am. I drove around, took pictures and left by 10am. I was panicked, on adrenaline the entire time.

Later, I drove locals from the NJ office to see the Mets at Shea. Next, I drove visitors from NJ to a Yankees game (with my Hertz Neverlost!). I slowly became acclimated, driving downtown at night to pick someone up, or drop off documentation.

Eventually we had our long-weekend of Museums (on frequent flyer points). But we never made it to the Macy's parade.

(09/05)
06/25 Direct Link
One Christmas there was an "emergency" and my schedule was cleared so I could spend the first two weeks of January in Calgary, Alberta. To save expenses I was to stay over the week-end.

The winter solstice is December 21st but nothing prepared me for the fact that Calgary is so far north the sun didn't rise until 9:30am and set just after 4pm. I walked to and from the office in darkness Monday then learned to see sunshine you must go out at lunch.

Nothing prepared me for the arctic cold (-40 that day). But that was my job.

(09/05)
06/26 Direct Link
I had a week-long consulting engagement in Little Rock, and on Monday I was asked my plans for dinner. "I really want Bar-B-Q", I said, "where's the best Bar-B-Q in Little Rock?"

I thought this question would be funny, as it started a hoopla among the client team. With four passionate suggestions I said, "Don't argue, I'll try each of your favorites."

So each morning, I dutifully reported which Bar-B-Q I visited, what I had, then rated the sauce, the meat, etc.

I started that week CRAVING Bar-B-Q, but couldn't eat it again for 6 months. Ahhhh, living on expenses.

(09/05)
06/27 Direct Link
When I was young my mother complained that we boys never turned our dirty laundry right side out or emptied our pockets. I once stood with her at the washer as she explained that she had no time, it was our job.

"I just wash them with whatever's in the pockets", she said.

I thought about her words and advice she'd always given me. "If your going to do a job", I told her, "you should do it right."

She slapped my face.

I often think about that day. Today I spent 20 minutes turning dirty clothes and checking pockets.
06/28 Direct Link
It's funny, but I love my coffee (and my beer) "medium".

I hate dark Columbian and French roast. Don't even ask about espresso and turkish. Yuck! The same goes for Dark Ale, Amber Bock, or for that matter Pale Ale or Coors Lite!. My first coffee was Maxwell House, my first beer was Carling's and Michelob. I add enough half and half to make my coffee the color of a Kraft caramel and a half spoon of sugar for a touch of sweetness.

I love fruit flavoring: Einstein Brother's Chocolate Cherry Kiss (or add a coconut shot), SamAdams Cherry Wheat.

(09/05)
06/29 Direct Link
When I watch a movie filmed in a city, I always look past the characters to recognize the locations in the background. If I'm by myself with video, I'll pause, rewind, freeze frame.

I have learned not to point out anything I notice, this ruins the movie for everybody (but me).

I do this for current movies and ones from the 1960-1970's (I love when I recognize where buildings have been torn down or airports have been completely renovated). I especially watch for movies from the 1940's to sense "simpler times" and try to imagine living in those places.

(09/05)
06/30 Direct Link
I can't believe my first month is over. I'm embarrassed to have spent so much time talking in a flat first person diary. It seems when I peck at my keyboard daily I end up rambling about myself.

I so wanted to spin words, write fiction and short poetry -- but I haven't written anything at all in so long I may have to clear my rusty writing pipes before such things can flow. I know right now I have 30 more stories (for October) just like these, and just like my own father bored me with when I was young.

(09/2005)