Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Tome for the Holidays

The storms have come and gone, society is rebuilding and here in Florida we are recovering. The looks of shock and loss are fading from the faces of the overwhelmed citizenry here in Florida after one of the worst seasons in history. And yet, now that the press has gone and things are going back to normal, people are continuing with their lives, the elections won't return for another four years leaving us in peace again. Oh yeah, we're rebuilding from the hurricanes too. Amazing, despite four storms (five actually, but only four really caused us problems) and damage that was repeatedly visited upon the same, poor victims as well as many others, the press and even locals that hadn't lost their homes focused on the elections. And while this holiday season has many, many people who are truly blessed with life, family and friends despite their neighborhood being blown away, the Democratic faithful are still too busy fuming to be concerned with their fellow man.

While I could use the expression finger pointing, I would have to use the caveat that the finger was pointing straight up at the end of an arm at full extension while the driver was roaring away at high speed. Yeah, that finger. Seems to be a popular sport on the roadways this holiday season. Roar up upon someone at a high rate of speed, then give them a bird for daring to be there on your roadway. You couldn't see them ahead of you as you were doing touch and go's down the interstate? Just go around them? Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you too. The traffic here in the Tampa area really isn't that bad yet, but already, with the influx of people moving into the area (I'm one of the recent imports myself) there are the people who are so important that they rail against those others between them and their banal emergencies. If you're that important, why are you driving yourself? Shouldn't you be in the back of a limo while your driver sweats the traffic? Or surrounded by a motorcade? If you're driving yourself or driving a car less than, oh, say $150K, how important can you really be? Once I've gotten more involved in my new community, I'll have some limited importance to the peoples lives that I'll be able to improve through my service. But, I'll not be as important as the guy driving the ambulance to the hospital with someone's life at stake in back. Nor the fire men responding to a fire or other emergency where their knowledge and service are required. Nor the teacher on their way to encourage young minds. I work for a large corporation, people there value my skills, yet, I don't consider myself so important that I need to roar up and down the interstate, cursing and swearing at people for daring to slow me in my pursuits.

I'll be the guy holding the elevator for you. Offering to help you carry something, letting you into traffic or offering you my seat when you look like you need it. Not a saint, nor even close to always being a nice guy. But I try, regularly. Making the world a better place in as many little ways as I can, as often as I can. Living life and enjoying it as best I can and trying to help others do the same.

The children are coming out to visit for Christmas. It'll be good to see them again. They are witty, mostly charming and young. Old enough to be in college, one finishing up grad work and the other in the middle of undergrad work. Still, young. They really haven't seen a lot yet, not on their own. Fortunately, for a great deal of their lives they were traveling around the world as military dependents. Living and seeing different cultures and people. They know that there is a great, big world out there with people whose culture, language and ideas are not like theirs. They also know that that is okay, part of what makes the world a great place to be. They also know that there are people out there for whom no amount of time outs are going to cure them nor deter them from their ways. So, we'll gather together as family, enjoy each others company and the fact that we can gather, free from want for the basic necessities.

Whether you celebrate this as the secular spendfest known as the "Holiday Season", a more traditional Judeo/Christian holiday or celebrate none but are around some of us Americans that do, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope that you and yours have good times with family and friends. Spread the cheer and fellowship even if for a few days. It won't kill you.

As for me, while there may be some debate on the issue the feeling remains the same. Happy Birthday Jesus.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


As it should be, the mundane and the trivial are the topics of the day. Maybe some future anthropologist will discover this and gain some insight into the day-to-day routine of this one specimen. And then again, maybe not. After all, it's not like this is the sort of thing that will be discovered at the bottom of some forgotten well. Maybe the layers of strata will be long lost archives of tapes from backups or some server sitting folornly forgotten in a corner until some grad student finds it while looking for some storage space for their work. Or some future version of a CS student doing postgrad work on ancient systems digs up these logs of ours and passes them on to his girlfriend, who's an anthropologist.
Somewhere along the way, some sysadmin will move the data along to a new machine because it's always been there and there's room and bandwidth anyway, so why not? Like long lost photographs of the mundane, there will be these snapshots of time in the lives of ordinary people who belong to this layer of strata. Similar to the early business records found on ancient Babylonian clay tablets that allowed us to get some idea of early mankinds life. Absurdly mundane, yet they provide an valuable insight to how the average business owner conducted business. Some things never change and a successful, small business owner of today could probably tell a lot from looking at these business records from long ago. And that is what they provided us.
As we perform that same service now, as we store snapshots of our lives online. Some are providing portraits of madness as they deal with life and the multiplicity of choices and agony of endless decisions. Some provide an insight into the endlessly fascinating ability for the human mind to find ways to hate their fellow man. Man's creativity for war is exceeded only by his inventiveness for hating his fellow man. As if we don't already have enough ways, looking online you find endless variations and assortments of hate. Sex, lifestyles, inventiveness, pets and the list goes on. Or just normal ramblings at the end of the day. Some prolifically so, some not.
But, there are a lot of blogs out there like mine. Hey, this is what I did today. Life isn't bad. I'm not rich and famous, but I live, love, cry and laugh. And write. Speaking of which.
Looking for a house here in Florida is an enlightening experience. The wife came in from Texas so that we could look together now that I've covered some initial ground and have at least some idea of where we may go. Just in time for her first hurricane party and hurricane. Here I am, less that a month in Florida and I've already seen three hurricanes. I have a friend that was stationed here while in the military and only saw one after several years of living here. Hmmm, c'est la vie. After living through several big earthquakes in California, experiencing my first blizzards in New England in the winter of 77-78 and seeing numerous tornadoes in Texas, what's one more set of natural events? Of course, it's easy for me to say, we only lost power, not a home with all of our lives there or an actual life. Still, while not driven to run back to Texas, I've been impressed with the raw wind power of a hurricane. It's given us pause to insist on a well built house. And, with things not looking like we'll have them resolved before the holidays, we're already looking at having the kids up to New England for Christmas. Get the whole family together in one spot. Next year, we'll have everyone at the new casa, whether we build new or buy existing. Between now and then is a year in which another hurricane season will come and go, possibly impacting us severely, probably impacting us somehow even if only through a loss of power. I'll be in a community working with the local emergency services to help provide communications support. And building a new life in our new home.
Not exciting, not important and definitely not the final, authoritative word on something. Reading numerous mass media sources, you get the impression that we're all supposed to be incredibly pompous and self-important. Full of ourselves and our importance with our little stake of virtual real estate. Can I just owe you instead? How about I provide insight into one life that is relatively stable and okay despite the minor trials and tribulations of daily living. You can always move on to the important ones after you've touched the baseline.

Monday, August 23, 2004

One man's best friend

"How do I miss thee? Let me count the ways".
I miss your smile, gentle and ready
I miss your happy countenance, dependable as the sunrise
and just as bright
I miss your sense of humor, always ready to play
I miss your constant presence, like a comfortable bathrobe wrapped around me
I miss the spryness of your step, like an eternal child running ahead and looking back
I miss you coming downstairs to remind me that it's time to sleep
I miss the way you try to knock your sister into the pool whenever she runs by
I miss the way you come in to join me when the thunder rumbles, my perpetual baby
I miss the way you just need to be near me, as I need to be near you

I could go on, but dilute it with the telling.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, a lament by any other name would be as poignant.

I can tell you that her passing is not the end of the world, not on a par with Mother Teresa. Military service taught me that the passing of any gentle, loving soul leaves the world a lesser place that it was at the beginning of today. She crept into my heart, years of us sharing life and really paying attention to each other, getting to know each others likes and dislikes.

She was a dog. She was on her last day at the pound when my wife brought her into our home, with us for 7 years until this morning. A dog, eat, sleep, repeat. Yet, we got to know each other, I knew what she liked, she knew me. We knew each others foibles and strengths. She looked for me, stayed with me on the days that I worked from home, looked to me for company during thunderstorms and sometimes just because. I liked to play, she liked to play. She would talk to me for no reason and I with her for no reason. She loved to ride with the window down, head in the breeze, tongue and ears flapping.

She'd get sick, needed surgery, had health problems. I'd clean her wounds, swab out her ears, drain and treat her sores. Gently yet firmly, getting it right the first time so that she didn't need to endure the discomfort any more than was necessary. I don't know that she ever forgave us for trading in our water bed for a different bed (ask her, she'll tell you it's her bed). She was good at getting rid of rats that made the mistake of entering our yard. She taught my daughter's kitten to carry things in her mouth like a dog, eat dog biscuits and growl when some one approached the house. Sadie would sleep with Kaylie between her paws, long after Kaylie stopped being a kitten, the two amigos.

You don't have many real friends in life. And though I've had dogs as pets most of my life, it's been as an adult that I've appreciated them as fellow inhabitants. Even then, not all of them. They have distinct personalities, like us. And like us, not all become quite as close. In life here, it's rare to really connect with someone. Sadie has been one of them, after my children and wife, maybe because they can communicate better.

She forgave me my trespasses, as I forgave hers. Now my friend is gone. While I'll never hear her step again, the jingle of her collar on the tiles in the cool of the bathroom floor and the glint in her eyes with a smile on her face. She'll be with me always. For already, I hear her step and jingle, see her smiling face and for as long as I live, I'll always have my friend.

Hey Sade's, want to get the mail?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Conversations in the woods

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? This is normally discussed as either being a pure physical act of generating a sound, straight physics regardless of perception or as the perception of sound as being integral to the act of being sound.

If you have the ability to say something to the world and you do, have you said anything? The current meme is that the blogosphere is where news really is. Power to the people. As if everyone that wanted one had their own printing press. Like exercise treadmills that many have, gathering dust in the corner. Or, set them slow, eating a snack, drinking a soft drink while they stroll.

And yet, we save random snapshots from our lives, which provide insights to common life from a period. A simple snapshot of my father standing in front of a house he lived in during the 1930's in Minnesota is fascinating to me. And might be again to a researcher on families of German immigrants to the U.S. back then. Yet, it doesn't contain the same drama of pictures of from Spain during the same time frame or shots taken of a large field in Nurnburg on selected nights.

And so, if you say something mundane, you open a window on your life, your family, your culture and yourself. Some rant, some rave and other rail against the machine. They're flamed, fanned, praised, quoted and ignored. Some have shown that leaders have feet of clay while some are the epitome of what this medium is about.

What will I do? I'm not Gutenberg, nor Hemmingway either. I'll update this periodically and add my breeze to the wind issuing from the blogosphere. And I may not make a sound in the forest.

But that's okay.