It’s on my Calendar…

Checklist 4

The accusatory reminder is sitting there.

“Blog,” It says.

“About what,” I think to myself.

“That I have nothing to say?”

The reminder is implacable. I should just delete the little bastard, that’d show it. Consign it to the digital hell of forgotten “To Dos”.

But as A friend has reminded me and several well renowned authors have said;

Write anything, just write daily.

Okay, I’m writing. 

The internet is an interesting thing. I was able to distract myself from writing for a whole hour. I was suddenly curious about an old High School friend. Actually, he was my best friend. I may have found traces of him, but doubt seriously that we’ll ever re-connect. 

That relationship ended in a weird way in 1980 (I think). I honestly don’t remember now. I just remember thinking as I watched my friends back receding from my view that this was probably the last time I’d see him.

Then I got busy living my life and I assume he got busy living his. 

Through the years I’ve been curious about him and how his life had gone. I tried sending a letter or two and the occasional Christmas card. I don’t know if they ever found their intended recipient. These items were sent with paper and an actual stamp, but there was no reply.  I suppose I had an answer in that – there was no reply.

Nonetheless I’ve been curious through the years. 

With more and more data and personal information being stored and made available on the internet, it’s a lot easier to locate someone from your past. They don’t even have to have a social media account. Public records can go a long way toward letting you find someone.

Regarding my long lost friend… Either he was arrested for domestic battery in 2002, OR he’s living in a nice house, in the town that we grew up in working a blue collar job. The latter is, I think most likely. The second result’s age lines up more closely.

Thinkstockphotos 162406124

The mug shot is striking in its similarity to the face I remember.

However, I think it highly unlikely that the police would be off by 5 years on the person’s age.

Perhaps it was a relative…

Not that an arrest record would be a reason for me not to re-connect. Multiple arrest records would be another issue.

This appears to be a one-off, and God knows I’ve had my knock down drag out fights with significant others over the years. Had some of those fights happened while I was living in an apartment… Well, then probably a mug shot of me would be gracing search results on the internet too.

The legal definition of Battery is surprisingly vague. I could see slightly rough sex being considered battery. 

I could easily imagine doing the same thing this week, that you did last week where your partner was really into it. Only to find out that your partner wasn’t into it today, and was flat out pissed off. Next thing you know, you’re having unflattering pictures (Front and Profile) taken.

I wonder what it would be like to re-connect with my friend. Would it be like no time had passed, or would the time and life experiences be so different that the gulf simply could not be bridged?

Would we each be disappointed with the effort? Is it better to let sleeping dogs simply lie?

The question is…

Do I want to put this on my “Bucket List” or not? Given that we’re both as old as we are if this is something I’d like to do, I should probably get on the stick about it. I’d hate to drive all that way only to lay flowers on a grave.

Something to ponder, I suppose.


Oh Look!

I can now check blogging off the list of things to do today.

Huzzah!

We need to be touched

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We intuitively know this, but with the hustle and bustle of our ‘work a day world’, it’s easy to forget this simple fact.

Massage can fill part of the void, if you’re living alone and aren’t seeing anyone. 

Contrary to popular belief, not every massage is a vehicle to have sex and not every masseuse or masseur is a prostitute using a clever (or not so clever) disguise to take money for sex.

Although I have been fortunate enough to have a number of massages that ended with me being invited to spend the night. However, that was something that two consenting adults entered into as adults, and no-one was “on the clock”. We were just two people having a good time and the vibe was right.

torso

I’ve had an equal number of massages that ended with me getting dressed, saying, “Thank you” and leaving.

My point however is that If we’re not touched, and acknowledged we start to become a little strange. Our needs aren’t being met and we sometimes become antisocial, or extremely needy. I’ve been both, sometimes simultaneously. 

On a subconscious level we know we need social interaction and a subtext to that is that we need to feel the warmth of another person’s touch. Lots of folks use the sterility of the internet to fill the need for interaction. Twitter, Facebook, and the various dating sites or chat applications have made millions of people feel relevant, perhaps even loved. But I think that the folks feeling “loved” because they have a bunch of “Likes” or thousands of followers is demonstrative of a sort of twisted adaptation to feelings of isolation.

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This point has been recently brought home to me. 

I talk to people all day long, I help people and move on to the next person in need. You’d think I’d have enough interaction to feel fulfilled. 

I don’t. 

Those people that I help are ephemeral. They’re just voices on the phone and most of the time they’re very needy. By the time I’m done with my day, I’m tired and really don’t want to talk to anyone else on the phone. So I entertain myself with the TV until it’s time to go to bed to get up and go back to work.

It doesn’t help that I work odd hours and weekends. By the time most people get to work, I’ve already been working 3 or 4 hours. The oddness of my work schedule has advantages and disadvantages.

The advantage is that I usually miss the stupid traffic of the San Diego area. The disadvantage is that I’m home mid-afternoon and “normal” people aren’t available. When “normal” people are available, I’m heading to bed.

When I’m done with my day, I’m tired. It’s more emotionally tired than physical, so it’s easy to be isolated, and allow that isolation to continue.

130813 263472 LA Dive Bar HMS Bounty Bar

I could stop someplace for happy hour but have you spent much time at a bar at 2PM in the afternoon?

Trust me, it isn’t pretty; not the kinds of people you’re likely to meet and develop healthy friendships with. Bars in general are dimly lit for a reason!

Gyms are better but even there, you’re dealing with folks that are probably not going to have time. They’re squeezing in a workout before they go on to the next thing; picking up the kids, heading to work on their own odd schedule, or in some cases just creepy people looking for something else entirely. 

Sauna

I’d been going along for months (possibly years off & on) fooling myself into believing that I was OK. Then because I was in some pain I went and had a massage.

Another person touching me slammed into my consciousness like a sledgehammer. I wanted, needed to feel the warmth of another person. I needed to hear that other person breathing and smell them. I needed the full 3D experience and to know that I was, in fact not alone.

A week or so later, I had the distinct pleasure of having a friend visit, and again I was struck by the power of someone else being physically in my space. It was comforting and settling and again hit me upside the head that I’d been too isolated for too long.

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A few nights later, I went out with a coworker that I enjoy being around. We had drinks, ate and laughed. I realized that even simple (non-work) interactions are very satisfying, while not very intimate or sexual, its far better than the cold interaction of words or pictures on a display.

All of this brings home two undeniable points. It’s not good to be isolated, especially in a crowd. And I need to find another job that pays better and is not on such an isolating schedule.

Social+anxiety1

All of this is to say; if you’re feeling isolated, or lonely, turning to the internet is probably not the healthiest source of “connection”.  Close the laptop, put the phone down, and turn off the TV. That’s what I’m going to be doing and hopefully I’ll be able to provide some pointers to finding something fulfilling over the next few months.

Happy Birthday Devil Dogs!

Usmc day

Admittedly, 

I have a soft spot for Marines. I was never in the military, but when most of your friends (serving and not) are Marines you really can’t avoid it. You also tend to remember certain events. 

My Calendar has a list of notable events; Achievements in Space Travel, beginnings and endings of wars, Presidential addresses that made a difference by reverberating down through history, notable historical events, and even infamous events.

Each year, when the Marine Corps birthday rolls around, I always smile and find that I’m in a pretty good place.

It’s the same feeling you get when you remember a dear friend’s birthday. 

At this stage in my life, more of my Marine friends have passed from this world, than remain.

Knowing that The Corps is marching on and has another year under its collective belt gives me comfort and an odd sense of stability.

I find myself adding appreciation for the sense of stability, to the long list of things I thank the USMC for. 

To the Marines who will be celebrating today;

Party Hard, Be Safe, Be Smart, and bottoms up.

Happy Birthday Old Friend

I’ll be raising a glass to you later tonight.

I forget the damdest things.

Nostalgia

Nostalgia can whitewash a lot of things 

We forget why we left an area. Or how glad we were when we left a job. Soldiers forget how happy they were the first day they put on their official uniform, or how relieved they were to take that uniform off.  Mothers “forget” the 28 hours of labor, and focus instead on the joy of bringing another life into the world, until child number 2 is a month late & it’s August and 104F in the shade; Then it’s “what was I thinking?”

Uh Oh Morning After

Divorcees sometimes forget the reason they got divorced until they wake up in bed together and all the old patterns start re-asserting themselves.

I have a friend who had a rough breakup with a long term lover, many years ago. I cared about both of them and considered them both my friends.

The guy in this couple has been and still is my friend and for that I’m grateful beyond words.

NoToxicFriends

While I’d known my male friend the longest, nonetheless I reached out to the female half of the couple in friendship, and pulled back a stump where my hand had been.  Then I remembered that I’d always thought she was a bit toxic. I realized that her toxicity level had gotten out of control and that was probably why they broke up.

I sometimes wonder how she’s doing but it’s not important enough for me to track her down. Given her toxicity, it’s probably not worth my effort.  I remember the good times, hope she’s well,  appreciate the years of kindness and laughs prior to their breakup. My mind automatically glosses over the bad spots.

Generally, when we meet people who are toxic to us, we don’t hang around them. Sometimes we allow them in our lives because of others who are important to us. The toxic wife, or husband of a family member or best friend for example.

Punching Bag (c) nataliedee.com

Sometimes people we love aren’t toxic when we meet them. Then we fall in love, or build a friendship and that person becomes toxic to us or we to them. That’s the hardest situation.  We can choose not to see an aunt that’s a bitch, the people we’ve purposefully allowed to get close to us on the other hand are far more difficult to deal with. 

Our emotions are confused and we think about the effort and time we have invested and we think, “Maybe it’s something that will pass.” Often the toxic behavior does pass and things go back to a comfortable loving supportive relationship.

Other times, acceptance of the toxicity is treated as “Signing up for a full seven courses.” 

Either the other person thinks you’re saying they’re right, or they give it no thought at all and continue using you as a punching bag. It’s a no win situation, and once that behavior becomes the norm, no amount of love, correction, resistance, disagreement or all of the above is going to change it.   The path from there on is simply pain and more pain. It’s possible to love and care for someone but be unable to take the pain.  

Words have Effects

I’ve found myself in that situation several times in my life and I’m always slow to let go. I keep hoping for things to get better. The reality is that they don’t.

I’ve recently re-evaluated several relationships and have concluded that they’re toxic to me.

This re-evaluation was funny (in a gallows humor way) because I floated what I was thinking by a couple of friends who said, “OH THANK GOD!”  

They didn’t want to interfere in my business because they knew I had a great deal of love for these toxic people but as outside observers they could always tell when I’d had toxic contact because I wasn’t myself.  One friend suggested that over the years I’d given these relationships too much weight and spent way too much time trying to win approval. “Approval,” they added, “that would NEVER be forthcoming.”  

toxicwaste

As an example, they asked, “When have you been complimented on, congratulated about, or encouraged in, any of your successes or endeavors by these people? If they’re just tearing you down or making you feel bad about yourself, they’re bad to have in your life.”

It’s a valid point.

“What about love?” I asked.

“Love is encouragement and validation. Love is someone caring about you and liking you for who you are right this moment and also who you were in the past and seeing the difference. Love is someone telling you you’re wrong and forgiving you in the same moment for your mistake. Love is empathy, compassion, joy, and happiness when the phone rings, or an email arrives showing that person’s ID”

Kind people

“Love is not dread, or always being made to feel like there’s something wrong with you.”

We forget why we distanced ourselves from certain people too.

I’d purposefully kept these toxic folks at arms length because I’m pretty generally happy with who I am, and they in the past have tended to bring me down.  Finally, after many years and a lot of patience and soul searching, I’m letting go of the toxic people in my life.   I realize that toxicity runs both ways. I may be toxic to some people but not others, I’ll understand if you don’t have me on your holiday card list. It’s Okay I get it, no hard feelings.

We should surround ourselves with people that bring out the best in us, and in whom we bring out the best.

That’s what I’m going to do from here on out.

And then there’s this…

Ouroboros

I sometimes find myself in the most interesting discussions.

This one came about when a Friend asked how a couple of interview / tests had gone in the past week. 


Group

Friend:
Any news?
 
wwducat:
Nope.
 
Friend:
Sorry, does that necessarily mean anything?

wwducat:
I don’t think so. There were a LOT of people taking the tests, the last test had six essay questions. I think it’s simply about them grading the tests and as you know essay questions are highly subjective.  My guess is that there were at least 50 – 60 people total competing for the positions.

ISP Server Racks

Friend:
None more qualified than you

wwducat:
Based on the conversations I heard prior to the testing, these folks were Seriously qualified!  Fierce competition.

Friend:
Were they all for the same position or were there other positions being tested then as well?
 
wwducat:
All for the same two positions.  These guys knew their stuff every bit as well as I do and much better in some cases, because like me they’d been in the trenches.  Some of them knew stuff about fibre optics that I never thought to ask.
 
Friend:
That surprises me.
wwducat:
Others in the group knew configuration of really high end routers, the kinds of routers that your ISP uses for entire cities.
 
Friend:
But you have the user relations experience.

Get Out

wwducat:
Yes I do have user stuff.  Surprised I don’t know things? Believe me that shouldn’t surprise you, it’s normal.  In technology, you tend to get specialized. You bring some things to the table and others bring different abilities. Successful teams hand off tasks to the person or persons within the group that is best suited to perform those tasks. 
 
It’s an almost organic thing, which is why it hurts so much to be layed off or transferred.  You lose contact with those parts of you that you are as reliant upon as your left and right hands. Then you have to find another team where you can be an integral contributing member.  That’s the problem with a lot of “outsiders” including management, they don’t look at a team as an entity, they see only the parts.
 
Friend:
So alien to me since I work so much alone.
 
wwducat:
My specialization / Talent is user interfaces. Either in communicating for the team or in testing software that the users access. I’m usually the coordinator of resources, and the “go to guy” to obtain resources so the team can move forward.

Buss & Tag Terminators

I understand the technology, and leverage that knowledge to help the team. I also am usually the team historian and the guy that members of the team brainstorm with when they’re stuck. 
 
Because I’ve been around forever and Can relate everything I’ve ever encountered to the new stuff I help by providing new perspectives or a different view of a particular problem.  That function requires building trust between myself and the team members.

Friend:
And trust is critical.

wwducat:
Very! I have to be willing to tell them that I don’t know something, and ask that they explain it to me. And they have to be trusting enough to lower their guard and admit they don’t know something or that a problem has them stumped.
 
Then we put our heads together and call upon other resources from the team directing our energies toward a resolution. No one is criticized or derided about it. The focus is about all of us doing our job and learning in the process.
 

Cabling Evolution

Friend:
That’s a team.
 
wwducat:
These abilities are not shown by tests, or speaking with HR representatives. The only people that get it, are people that have been there, themselves.
 
Unfortunately over the past 10 or 15 years teams aren’t often perceived as entities, they’re seen as individuals and any person that appears flawed is replaced instantly, often without telling the team. This results in critical data being lost. I’ve referred to it as Tribal Data, because sometimes things are done in a particular way that is not immediately obvious to an outsider.  Those “special” things are done because they work not because they’re part of a policy or procedure.
 
When you have a lot of churn in corporations or a stressed group of individuals who never become a team, fewer people have ever had the experience of team work.  
 
Instead they’ve only dealt with Machiavellian machinations that lead to promotions and raises by eliminating people in your way.  These kinds of office politics have become commonplace and the sense of teamwork is becoming more rarified.
 
Wait!?!!? Isn’t that kind of like the academic world?

Friend:
Too much so.
 

Bad Boss

wwducat:
It would be a cruel irony if american businesses were falling behind, not due to degradation of skills but instead due to the most negative lessons learned in institutions of higher learning.  Especially when so many college graduates can’t seem to write a cogent sentence.
 
Friend:
But the academy is becoming more of a business- money driven and sales defined
Some of my colleagues argue grammar is a vestige of colonial patriarchal oppression. And they’re teaching writing.
 
wwducat:
So we could be looking at a college, business, college, self perpetuating model. Oh crap whats that snake thing eating it’s tale?? Ouroboros! that’s it.  A never ending  cycle of education & business eating and creating itself at the  same time.
 

Plato

Friend:
Education now is the process of technical training.
 
wwducat:
Sadly from what I’ve seen, in general the technical training isn’t all that good.
 
Teach me how to find things, teach me how to teach myself, teach me philosophy, and ethics, teach me that learning is a lifelong pursuit not an end state,  teach me that independent thought is equally important to equations and sums.
 
Friend:
To think critically, to express yourself effectively, to know where to go to find information.
 
wwducat:
Teach me the value of duty, and honor, and how bad choices lead to bad things and that there may be shades of grey but that the best choice is the choice that is mostly white. (Meaning good, not the great white way.)  
 
I’m such a dinosaur,  I’ve held many of these philosophies to be true the majority of my life.
 
Friend:
And that life is more grays than black and white.
 
What does that make me?
 

Gravitional Quantum Physics

wwducat:
You’re T-REX!
 
I’m probably more like one of the smaller Raptors.
 
Friend:
I’ve had to learn about life being shades of gray. I was taught it is all b/w.
 
wwducat:
Oh respective histories are similar, I too had those lessons. While I think there is  value in a B/W philosophy and it should really be the “Ideal”. 
 
Practically speaking, humans are not computers, and not all situations lend themselves to a binary outcome.  There is always fuzz in the stuff to the right of a decimal point.  AKA Chaos theory.
 
The best I can do it navigate toward the white and get as close as I can before the time element collapses on a particular choice / outcome scenario. 

 
So That’s how some of my day gets spent. Nonetheless it makes for an interesting blog post.

There are times when I just want to scream!

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And not in a good way!

I’m a bit ADD. I know, I know, that’s become an overused cliché catchall that everyone and their brother uses to excuse anything from a hangover to a stroke.

Hear me out. I’ve been like this my whole life, and for me, this is completely normal. I’ve adapted to being this way because I’ve never know any other way to be. There are times when the ADD presents challenges, loud noises, crowds, bright flashing lights, can really mess with my calm and freak me out. Most of these challenges are manageable. If I feel myself being overwhelmed I’ll find a quiet spot to collect myself and then I’m good to go.

imagesOne of the biggest challenges ADD presents me with is listening to someone talk. If they have something to say and they keep on track I’m fine. If, however, they meander and pause the main thread of their story to fill in useless details or give me background that they should have given at the beginning of the story, then I’m likely to stop listening. In the worst case, the person doesn’t notice my eyes glazing over and they keep yammering.

This is usually when the ADD becomes a real problem. I respond first with annoyance, then hostility, then outright anger. The poor fool telling me, whatever they were telling me has no idea what they’ve done wrong or why I’m pissed off.

Images

Believe it or not, I feel guilty when I lose control and get angry because of the way someone is telling their story. It’s not fair to the other person. As far as they’re concerned they are telling a nice coherent little tale.

To an ADD person it’s annoying tedium. I can explain, I think using the following example.

The church made, because of the rummage sale, the church made, the donations to the rummage sale this year because, because of estate donations allowed the church to make,  One estate donated a teak modern dining set that was worth about 5000 dollars it went at silent auction for 2000, it was one of those Danish modern designs, I don’t know who bought it. The usual amount that the church makes on a rummage sale is $15,000 or so. This year the church made, oh there was a lot of very nice estate jewelry some of it brought in a lot higher than expected prices. This year the church made $30,000 although the final total isn’t in yet.

The story could have been summed up simply.

The church doubled it’s usual rummage sale income this year due to a number of estate donations.

Then if I was interested I could have asked what the total dollar amount was.

benefitsadhd2To an ADD person, the story, as first presented, is like fingernails on a chalkboard. The constant teasing about how much the church actually made, is annoying as hell.

There’s another level though that’s worse for the ADD person. It’s that for every one of those pauses we pause a stream of thought and start another one. Pretty soon your 2 minute anecdote has us nearing the maximum capacity of our brain power.

Think of it like trying to compute orbital mechanics of the entire solar system and keeping all the variables in your head.

Unknown 2

This is, I think part of the reason we ADD folk don’t like watching the late night news, it’s the constant teasers. If the 10 o’clock news really wants to piss of the ADD crowd; tease us for an hour and then never get to the story!

“Stay tuned to find out why your penis is at risk”

The way my brain works is probably best described as a corral of skittish horses. I have tons of thoughts running all the time and it requires an effort of will to harness those thoughts, put blinders on them, and then hitch them up to the wagon of a project I’m trying to do.

Unknown 1

A conversation like the story above tends to have an effect on my thoughts, that’s similar to what you get if a rattle snake suddenly appears in a corral full of skittish horses. After the chaos and dust clears, you’ve got horses spread to the four corners of the corral and none of them are going to do any work for the rest of the day.

I live with a person that tells stories like the example above.  That pisses me off by itself. (Come to think of it, my stepdad tries to lecture on science and technical stuff the same way; no wonder I dreaded asking him questions when I was in school!)

Unknown

What really pisses me off is when I catch myself telling stories the same way.

My ability to write today is gone. I’m going to go outside and run the weed whacker. I will avoid holding a fluffy pillow firmly over someone’s face.