Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Today Was A Holiday?

Yeah, just like this was a weekend…

There’s an Adam Savage video recently where he talks about skills he picked up or developed while making “Mythbusters.” (One of the finest shows ever!) The short version is that he got REALLY good at unconsciously knowing how to pace the work so that they could always just get done on time.

This time of year when I’m juggling three or four critical deadlines at a time with more waiting in the wings to jump in (think of it as a fresh set of legs coming out on the power play to kick my ass) I’m in the same spot. I don’t think I’m as good yet as he was. I’m more like “hitting deadlines…ish.” Nothing fatal (yet) but it would be nice to have a bit more slack built into the system.

But not fatal.

Yet.

(And it’s 39 hours and counting until…)

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Not At The Finish Line

I was thinking earlier about how drained and exhausted I feel on the one hand, while on the other hand being pretty satisfied with getting a LOT of things accomplished and done, while on the third hand being stressed as hell over some looming deadlines that are just kicking my ass.

My first thought was about the accomplishments, and I thought, “Huh, at the end of the actual marathons I’ve always felt at least a certain sense of success for having met my goals. I wonder why that’s not happening now.”

Then I realized that we’re not at the finish line. I can see it from here, at least in a certain sense. We’ve (almost) survived the horrors of the last four years in general and the last year in particular – just four more days to go. And I’ve met a LOT of those goals and deadlines – but I’ve got those others still to deal with. And as soon as those are met I’ve got a couple more lurking right behind.

So this is more like the 20-mile mark when you’re through Beverly Hills and Century City and past the UCLA campus and you’re just coming into Santa Monica. “Hitting the wall.” I sort of hated that.

But I always kept running. And tomorrow I’ll continue again.

Stay safe.

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Supersaturated

It’s been a day. And a week. And… Just keep expanding out from there, I guess. Between the holidays and work and the hangar and feeling like I’m being nibbled to death by ducks and ***LIFE***

Breathe. Slowly. Relax…

Those meditation apps like HeadSpace and Calm want you to get into your zone and feel a golden light filling you, as you’re present with every muscle and bone and fiber in your body, the light filling you up from your toes to the top of your head and then your being feeling as if you’re being suspended from a golden beam of light coming out of the top of your head…

There are days when all I can think about is how much I wish that golden beam was a twenty terawatt laser so that I can start melting things to slag. I’m not sure if that means I should give up on meditation those days, or if I need to spend eight or nine hours doing it. Could go either way.

Now I know how a supersaturated solution feels.

I’m sure tomorrow will be better. This, by the way, was not AT ALL what I sat down to write.

Go figure.

(Video from North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics)

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The First Monday After The Holidays

Not my favorite.

Monday’s can be problematic in general, as they are for many folks. Shifting gears from “relaxing” and “fun” for two days back to “working” and “stress” is a grind, and grinding gears is bad on your transmission. For me the normal Monday isn’t as terrible as it is for some, but that’s only because I tend to work a good chunk of the weekend as well, so I tend to only get a full weekend off about one out of every eight or ten. Not necessarily a better solution.

I forced myself to take a couple of days off during these back-to-back four-day weekends. Football has been watched, food (way, WAY too much food!) has been enjoyed, books have been read, a few chores around the house have been taken care of. But behind it all, lurking, no matter how much down time I take, or force myself to take, is the knowledge that I have the “to-do” lists from hell waiting for me.

Year-end, budgets, upcoming audits, deadlines up the yazoo – it will all be there first thing tomorrow. The next two to three months will be frantic, at best. Trying to put five pounds of pickles into a two-pound pickle bag, time management wise.

Of course, we continue to have the ongoing additional stress from COVID (still healthy! wear your mask!! STAY HOME!!!) and the political “Charlie Foxtrot” situation. There’s a reason that Kaiser Permanente was giving away a year’s subscription to the Calm app. We need it.

As Frost said, “no way out but through.” Just as true, he said:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
Smart dude, that Frost guy. Keep breathing, keep calm, read some Frost.

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December At Last

It’s one thing to have your head know that it’s December, but in a year like 2020, which for a significant portion of the populace has been the worst year of our lives, it’s another thing to have your gut know.

Yes, I know that other societies have gone through truly horrific years that are worse than this – 1939 through 1945 come to mind, as do 1914 through 1918, and I’m sure that the early 1860’s were no picnic. You get the drift. And individuals no doubt have years which are much worse with deaths of family members, natural disasters, disease, all of the above, and so on. But for my generation and the several that follow, as a whole, as an international, global society, 2020 has arguably been the worst of our lifetimes.

And now it’s almost over. There’s hope for 2021 with vaccines on the horizon, as well as a shift in the political winds. That’s not to say that something even MORE horrific might not do a jump scare on us all still, but in real life the odds seem to be against it.

So we’re in that last month. We’re locked down. We’re wearing masks on the rare occasions we do go out for groceries or essential tasks. We’re decorating for the holidays and doing Zoom meetings instead of huge holiday dinners and parties. We’re sacrificing and we can see, if not the actual finish line, at least the bell lap coming in just four to seven weeks.

(By the way, if you’re NOT wearing masks and NOT quarantining and NOT staying home from parties, then please eat shit and die, fuck off, then keep fucking off, then fuck off until you come to a gate with a sign saying, “You can’t fuck off past here” – climb over that gate, dream the impossible dream, and just keep fucking off forever until the heat death of the universe.)

[Yeah, I know, I should come out and just say what I REALLY feel and not hold back…]

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah…

Assuming you’re sane and intelligent and not a sociopath (which is a good assumption since you’re reading my site), then you will understand why I was so struck today in a staff Zoom meeting (or was it Teams? or Slack? or Skype? or Ring Central?) when it hit my gut that we are finally in December. It’s symbolic. It’s a marker, a signpost, a solid, tangible bit of evidence that proves that 2020 is almost over. And 2021 is hope…

Stay safe. December’s going to be okay in some ways, incredibly rough in others. But we’ll make it through.

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Paranoid Much?

I just got an email, not even spam, a legit email apparently, from DFW Airport, “Clean, Safe and Ready for the Holidays.”

Okay.

Aside from their need to use the Oxford comma, I have to wonder why I’m getting this. To the best of my knowledge I’ve never subscribed to anything asking for information on DFW. Yes, I’ve flown through there many times – who in this country who’s flown more than a handful of times has not? It’s a hub for just about every major airline except Southwest. And while it’s possible (I guess?) that at one point when I was there I logged onto a public wi-fi network or looked up a terminal map (that place is freakin’ HUGE) and inadvertently gave permission to get notifications and ads, why have I never seen anything from them before? I didn’t check, but I don’t think I’ve been through there in at least three or four years.

So maybe it’s random. Maybe it’s innocent. Maybe they bought the subscriber database from Aviation Week & Space Technology (I’m a subscriber) and they’re doing a spammy email blast. Maybe.

Or maybe…

I got a phone call this morning from one of my co-workers about something I needed to look into since she’s gone. She was at DFW, transferring planes. Does the cell phone + computers + internet + Amazon/Apple/Google/IBM group AI know the origin of that call and flag it with that data in turn being cross referenced with advertisers and spammers?

Probably not. PROBABLY not. I know there are a lot of whacked out conspiracy theories out there and all, but c’mon! How paranoid do you want to be?

But if we have our family Zoom Thanksgiving and one of the kids mentions a video game and I don’t even have a game console and don’t play video games at all and I’m not researching it for any gift ideas or anything else even remotely connected to it and then I get an email from them…

I might start to get suspicious.

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Mile 25

When you run the LA Marathon and you’re near the end, there’s a check point at the 40 kilometer point, which is essentially at Mile 25. There’s a little over a mile left, you’re near the coast (having started at Dodger Stadium and wound through Chinatown, downtown LA, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, and finally Santa Monica) and if you’re running a good race you know that there’s a huge sense of accomplishment waiting around the bend, and a chance to rest following that.

BUT… You can’t let up. You have to finish strong. If you’re running your good race and you want that great time and you want to meet that goal that you’ve worked on for months and months, you need to keep up the pace and earn that rest.

Sunday night, especially this Sunday night before Thanksgiving, remind me of that feeling. It’s been a tough year in many respects and there has been a LOT of work put in on so many fronts. But I can’t let up yet – this next weekend there will be rest.

Here’s to a short week and a long weekend to come.

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Grandmothers

Someone mentioned their grandmother in a very moving and touching Twitter thread (she had come out to her family, terrified that they would reject her, and her grandmother in particular had done quite the opposite) and I got to thinking about how I never knew either of my grandmothers much.

My maternal grandparents both died before I was born (the result of my mother being near the bottom of the sibling list of a BIG family) and my paternal grandmother died when I was only four or five. (There’s a family tree around here somewhere, but who has time for that?) My few and hazy memories of her are probably more from the pictures and movies I saw of her than any actual memories of my own.

So if you have grandmothers, and they’re one of the good ones who are kind and thoughtful and giving and caring and nurturing and not one of the bad ones who torture their kids and make them sweep the ashes and cinders out of the fireplace and poison them with apples (I might be mixing my Disney metaphors badly here, but I’m really, REALLY tired) then give them a hug for me when COVID’s over and you can do that without infecting and killing them. In the meantime, just give them a call and tell them you love them.

Grandfathers, too. Same rules about good vs. bad, just substitute in some gender appropriate (or in this case, appropriately, some gender neutral or inappropriate) examples.

Damn, I’m tired. I need a grandmother to tell me it’s going to be all right and I’m doing great. And then give me cookies.

Mmmm, cookies…

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That Moment, November 10th Version

That moment when it’s been another frantic looooooooong day and there’s no end in sight and you’re absolutely on your last nerve and all of a sudden your phone just starts screeching with one of those “EMERGENCY ALERT!!!” notices…

…so your gut starts going “PANIC! PANIC!” while your brain says “Bye Bye!” to reality and all you can think of as you teeter on the verge of hysteria is:

And now, back to our regularly scheduled FY21-22 budget marathon.

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An Extremely Fine Line, Indeed

A friend from high school sometimes referred to certain “odd” classmates as “easily amused.” It seemed appropriate at the time.

On the other hand, especially as I’ve gotten into my later decades, I’ve developed a major appreciation for the ability to maintain a childlike sense of wonder, particularly in regards to some of the simple things in life.

Today I had an experience that I initially thought was full of childlike sense of wonder, but my brain shouted at me that I was just easily amused, and it occurred to me that the difference between the two states might be an extremely fine line, indeed.

The subject in question was water temperature. Specifically, water temperature gradients in an insulated sports bottle.

Here’s a quick, crappy picture of said insulated sports bottle:

(This is my Angels bottle – don’t worry, OF COURSE I have a Chiefs bottle! But this is the one that amused/amazed me today.)

So, fill it with ice and water (or any other fluid) and it will keep it nice and cold for hours. Ditto for hot chocolate or soup, they’ll stay hot for hours. Thermos bottles have been around since I was a kid, had one in my lunch box in first grade way back before most of you were born. It works as expected and designed.

Let it sit for a day or two and forget that you put ice and cold water in it and you’ll have 18 ounces of room temperature water. As expected.

But somewhere in the middle there…

I’ve noticed a number of times that there’s a middle ground where if one picks it up without undue jostling, pops the top, turns it over and chugs it, you can very distinctly taste the room temperature water first, then getting several degrees colder, and then by the end getting much colder water.

On the one hand, that’s what I would expect as well in a “big picture” sense. Fundamental fluid dynamics says hot fluids or gasses will rise, cold ones sink. So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the top water in the bottle, which I drink first when I turn it over, is warmer, and the bottom water, which gets drunk last, is cooler.

What DOES surprise me is that the temperature difference is so distinctly noticeable. It’s not a subtle difference. Secondly, I’m surprised that the water stays differentiated by temperature even as the bottle is picked up, opened, and upended. I would think that there would be enough disturbance there to mix the water and destroy the effect.

Yet the effect is there – I notice it all the time.

So – childlike curiosity and wonder at the simple facts of our bizarre existence on this dust mote in the infinite cosmos? Or, “You’re easily amused!”

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