Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

No Context For You – November 20th









Frustration. (Maybe. Actually frustration might be more like a faded orange. “Red adjacent,” but missing the urgency, the life, the adrenaline, just keeping the bittersweet memories.)

So many strong emotions, so much energy spent keeping them in check, hidden, safe, not allowing the danger out of control.

A red day…

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How much of our world is random? How much can be planned for and foreseen?

(Image from RandomOrg app)

How much control can we have and how much do we just think (incorrectly) we have?

Despite all of our best efforts and intentions, how much is every decision just a bet with incomplete information and inaccurate assumptions?

And most importantly, does it matter? Do we just need to push on, doing our best, getting up when we’re knocked down, refusing to give up even when we know the game is random at best, rigged against us at worst, because for all of that it’s still the only game in town?

Yep, one of those deep thought nights. Sorry for being boring and “emo.” Just doing the best I can and pushing on.

But it would be nice every now and then to get a clue that it’s all working and not just a completely random outcome of 13,700,000,000 years of molecular Brownian motion and a handful of laws of physics.

I guess that’s what religion is for, and we all I know I’m not going down THAT road. Been there. Done that. It’s worse.

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Define ‘Deadline’

As I may have blathered on and on about for the past several weeks, it’s been one of “those” times when I’ve been up to my eyebrows in 24/7/365 (or is it “25/8/366” for these?) deadlines on several fronts. Primarily at work and then at the CAF SoCal hangar and from there all of the other little daily deadlines.

Tonight I finished the fifth and (for now) final of the “super gigantic mega oh God we’re all gonna die!” deadlines. I made them all, but it got me thinking about how some folks need to be more explicit about the exact details of the deadline. You know, for people like me!

One of them at work was quite clear – we have a 17:00 meeting on this day with a number of VIPs and it would be “very bad” if we didn’t have that stack of documents ready.

No sweat! After weeks of work, I printed out the final versions for me and emailed them to others on team a full eight minutes before the meeting started. There may have been some hysterical laughter released at the absurdity of it all.

At the other end of the spectrum, the CAF project had to be done “by end of day 9/20/21.”

There’s a fair amount of wiggle room there in my universe. Business day? Or am I still good at 23:59:55? Pacific time zone or Central? That’s important, gives me a whole three more hours!

That got done tonight at 22:20 PDT, so by my definition, I made it by a full 1:40! If that doesn’t fit in their timetable and they meant 17:00 CDT, well, whose fault is that, huh?

Hopefully I’ll finally sleep well tonight. Mañana, y’all!


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Adrift On The Calendar

I’m so glad that my watch and phone tell me what day and date it is. I realize that I’m now totally dependent on them to keep track of such things since my brain and body and schedule are so overbooked that I can’t spend the energy or the brain cycles to track such things myself.

In some ways I feel like the crew of that ship in “WALL-E” where they’ve forgotten how to walk or move independently. And like in that film where there’s a malicious, evil entity that has manipulated them to go down that road, we have the GQP and the Death Cult right-wingers and conspiracy nut jobs who are pushing us to spend so much time stressing over their bullshit that we’re losing our ability to keep track of little things like the date. We have so many bigger fish to fry.

Do you remember a “M*A*S*H” episode where BJ Honeycutt was messing with Winchester’s clothes, subtly a little at a time having them taken in or let out, convincing him that he was gaining or losing weight? That’s what our electronic devices could do, adding a few minutes to the work day here, taking a few days off the holidays there, putting an eighth work day into the week (“Wait, wasn’t it Tuesday a couple days ago? Why is it Tuesday again? Whatever…”) Forget about “watching the watchers,” is anyone watching the watches?

The only reference I seem to have is, “How many days until that next deadline? And the one after that? And the two next week? Wait, they’re THIS week?! Shit!!!”

The good news I guess is that I’m more or less keeping up with the deadlines, at least the ones that are critical and for which I’m getting paid. The volunteer gig? Might be letting a few slip there.

I think the French have a phrase for that.

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Make Art – August 29th

For those of us who will have an “interesting” week ahead and may experience moments of incredible stress.

When those moments come (and they will), you can “Set SCE to AUX” (and that might well be the correct action to take out in the real world) but in your head, think of a scene like this or some other peaceful place you would like to be, perhaps with who you would like to be there with, and take a deep breath, hold it, let it out, and then get back to the crisis (it will still be there, unfortunately).

You will persevere and succeed.

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No Context For You – August 25th

“Set SCE to AUX”

If you know, you know. I don’t think I’ve shared that story here yet, but it’s not hard to find online if you’re curious. It’s fascinating. For this context, let it suffice to say that NASA and the Apollo 12 crew were seconds away from having a very bad day, but that command saved the day.

It’s been one of those weeks so far. No one’s dying or anything like that, but some days you just work way more than 8 or 9 hours and during all of that time it’s like you’re trying to fit ten pounds of pickles into a five-pound pickle bag. So you can start screaming…

…or you can set SCE to AUX.

And some days you’re flicking that switch between NORM and AUX until your fingers are blistered.

Still standing, still fighting, still upright & taking nourishment. Until tomorrow!

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Complex Textures

High level perspective – a bit of worn and extremely weathered log from the Mount San Jacinto State Park.

Closer perspective – an almost infinitely complex, fractal-like surface formed by strictly random, natural forces.

Alternate perspective – part of the biological cycles of an infinitesimally small speck of a planet, third rock from the primary star in a semi-deserted, backwater part of a completely average galaxy, one of a few million billion trillion completely average galaxies, returning nutrients assembled together over a century or more back to the soil and the next generation of plants and critters.

Private perspective – stunning beauty “hidden” in the world around us, “hidden” only by the fact that 99.99% of my fellow hikers walking by don’t even bother to look, let alone see.

Personal perspective – getting this wrapped up in grokking a rotting log, using all five senses, and then feeling the imperative to share with everyone probably indicates to most that there was (or is) “mood enhancing” medicinal self-medication involved. Nope, just a natural high, that John Denver school of zen, getting in touch with the Universe on a very personal and intimate level.

Or it was oxygen deprivation from being at 8,500 feet.

Either way, it was the finest kind.

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Staying Ahead

Staying ahead of the aircraft – it’s a mantra when learning to fly. Flying with just one pilot, no copilot, something’s always happening or about to happen and to be safe you always want to be anticipating what’s next and being ready for it. Don’t react to what the plane’s doing, or the weather, or upcoming radio calls or course changes. Stay ahead of the aircraft.

Same thing in daily living is a good plan of attack. Whether it’s at the office, going hiking, going on a trip, or anything else. Stay ahead of the…whatever. Be proactive, not reactive.

That transition from “vacation” back to “normal” has had its challenges these last three days. My main feeling, particularly at work, is that I’m reactive, discombobulated. I need to get back to being proactive and recombobulated.

So, tomorrow. Work smarter, not harder.

Kick ass, take names.

Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.

Use your clichés, they’re your friends.

And don’t jump unless you’ve got a parachute or a honkin’ big cable attached to your back. It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end.

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After The Three-Day Weekend

It’s back to work. *sigh*

Coincidentally, it’s also back to the office for me, at least for a couple of hours.

In the last fifteen and three-quarter months I’ve been back in my office maybe five or six times, but it’s always been on a Saturday as I was coming home from the hangar. My office is right next to the freeway so I get off, drop off documents or pick them up, then get right back on the freeway at the next onramp. Easy peasy! But there’s never been anyone there. While I’ve seen everyone on a regular basis in one Zoom meeting or Teams call after another, I haven’t actually seen any of my co-workers (all of whom I really enjoy working with, as unusual as that might be for some, sadly) in 15.75 months. Which is REALLY weird, because I had only been working there five and a half months when the pandemic and quarantine hit. So I’ve now been working remotely three times longer than I’ve been working in person.

But things are opening up a tiny little bit, and while I’ll most likely be continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future, there are a couple of small things that finally need to get taken care of in person, so it’s back to the morning commute! At least for a day.

Have you ever visited a town far away where you grew up and gone back to drive by your old house? Yeah, I’ve done that in at least five or six places. (Not to mention the Pomelo house that we moved out of three years ago after 27+ years, since it’s less than a mile away.) It’s going to be odd like that.

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Lessons Learned

First of all, when the dashboard of your car starts giving you a warning message that says the battery in your key fob is getting weak and needs to be replaced…

…change the freakin’ battery. They cost about $2 and it takes about thirty seconds and can be done without tools or any handyman or handywoman skills at all!

Secondly, the clever designers of modern cars apparently all assume that a significant owners will ignore Lesson #1 and will end up being out someplace when that final erg in the battery goes out and their car won’t start, the doors won’t lock or unlock, and NOTHING will work. So they put in failsafes.

Most of these key fobs have actual, physical keys embedded in them, keys which can be removed and used to lock and unlock the doors. (I knew that already.) Some (like Hissy, our Honda Fit) allow you to use that embedded physical key to be inserted into some secret slot on the dashboard or steering wheel and start the car. But Volvos don’t. However…

On Volvos, there’s some sort of very low power, very close proximity chip embedded in the key fob (probably like those RFID tags that they hide in clothing and DVDs and Blu-Ray packages to keep them from being shoplifted) so that if you physically hold the “dead” key fob against the “Start” button in the dashboard, the car can be started.

Very clever, these engineers, assuming that sooner or later (and probably BOTH) I’ll be an idiot!

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