Category Archives: Paul

Little Victories

Sure, the entire world’s going to Hell (*waves broadly at US & UK politics and global climate change and EVERYTHING*) but you have to take joy where you can find it, a bit of satisfaction in every little victory.

In my case, the bane of my existence (well, one of them, sorta) has been a quest to reset the freaking “Maintenance Overdue” warning message on my car’s dashboard.

For the most part it’s a lovely car. A 2011 Volvo C70 convertible, a lot of fun to drive, comfortable, nice handling, a big enough engine to make it go “zoom” when needed, and always fun to drive with the top down. Not always practical to drive with the top down, but still fun.

Except for one stupid, frustrating, nagging, and expensive problem. Which still isn’t fixed after a couple of LONG stays at the dealer and way, Way, WAAAAY too much money. But it’s drive able. If I’m okay being frustrated, and nagged, and poorer for the experience.

Which in turn means that I’m not taking it back to the dealer for routine maintenance. I would rather have my eyeballs eaten out by rabid fire ants than go back to the dealer.

But I’m not stupid about maintenance. It needs to be done, and it has been. Just not by the dealer.

Then, even though the vehicle had been at the dealer not too long ago during the last desperate attempt to get the stupid, frustrating, nagging, and expensive problem resolved and had had all of its regular maintenance done then, this warning shows up every time I start the vehicle.

More stupid. More frustrating. More nagging. I’ll be damned if it’s going to be more expensive.

The internet can answer almost any questions, right? So I searched. And found three or four varying sets of instructions for resetting the warning. It’s got to be some combination or sequence of “push this, do that, hold this button for five seconds, turn the key, wiggle your ears, pat your head, rub your tummy” and it resets the electronics. Right?

Right?

Wrong.

None of it worked. I’ve tried every day or two for weeks.

So I got online with Volvo. They won’t tell me the reset sequence is. Bastards!!! All I got from them was, “take it back to the dealer, they’ll do it for you.” (I may have to send them a box of rabid fire ants.)

I finally buckled and called the dealer and asked for guidance. They said to bring it in. I politely (i.e., without mentioning the rabid fire ants) said that couldn’t happen and asked again nicely if they could put a mechanic on the phone or could email the instructions. Nope, they can’t do that.

BASTARDS!!!

Today, again, I tried to reset the code when I left the office. Maybe I had seen something in one of the online sources that had a hint of something to do that was a tiny bit different (“hold the button until just the third or fourth flash of the “i” icon”), but whatever I did…

IT WORKED!!!

So go ahead, world! Fall apart! Oceans rise! Continents sink! Comets smash into the planet!

I’ll die happy because tomorrow morning when I go to work, all I’ll see on my dashboard is the time and temp and how many miles until empty.

Little victories!

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Fear Passes

I wrote a few weeks ago about wisdom from the science fiction classic “Dune” and the famous quote about fear.

I’m not sure that the fear which inspired those comments has passed so much as it was always there and I’m passing through it.

It’s not a trivial distinction.

The former concept is passive – just endure, hold on, survive, and the fear will pass through you. The latter is active – move yourself through the fear, one step at a time, until you come out the other side.

The former leaves you with little agency or control. The latter is empowering.

The former can leave you feeling like a victim or survivor. The latter can lift you up to feeling like a conqueror.

I’m not through it yet – many adventures lie ahead. But I’m finally to a place where I can start to embrace the coming adventures instead of dreading the perceived ordeal to get through it.

I also hope the next time (there’s always a next time) I can remember that the anticipation of that perceived ordeal turned out to be much worse than the actual ordeal. And having come through what I hope is the worst of it, that I’ll remember the feeling of success and accomplishment that can be waiting on the other side.

Ideally it would be best to somehow have that memory of success (let’s call it “confidence”) deeply ingrained at a cellular level. But I’ll settle for having my head remember it, even when my gut doesn’t.

It’s sort of like a colonoscopy these days. In practice, the procedure itself is a piece of cake compared to the day of prep leading up to it. And the anticipation of the prep once you’ve done it once is far worse than the actual prep. (Which is not to say that the prep doesn’t totally, 100,000% suck.)

Lesson noted. Possibly learned.

Time will tell

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First Do No Harm

Fog.

Confused. Lost. Angry. Frustrated. Directionless.

Maybe it’s the anniversary. Maybe it’s today’s news. Maybe it’s all of that and more.

It’s a roller coaster. Some long-term battles have been won. Some decisions and deadlines are coming like a runaway freight train.

What to do?

Take a deep breath. Pause. Nothing needs to be done this second. Let the gut unclench a bit. A memory comes. A piece of advice, shining dimly through the fog of confusion like the most distant of beacons.

“First – do no harm.”


So instead of angst & fog and confusion, let’s share some pictures from our Sunday BBQ. It was a nice gathering. There were some old favorites and some new adventures on the grill. The gas held out juuuuuuuuust long enough to finish.

It all came out well, even the adventures. More experimentation and experience is needed on the tri-tip. Practice, practice, practice.

The season started to the sacred BBQ vestments were brought out of storage. I was having a good time…

…and not thinking about fog. Or the news. Or decisions.

Somewhere in the middle is a path.

Somewhere in the fog.

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Wait, I Posted “Adult Content”??!!

This morning I got an email from Tumblr.

The problem I’m having with the hallucinations is that they’re apparently not the “fun” or “colorful” kind – they’re the ones where I go wild and crazy and post adult content on my site but don’t remember it.

Wait – do I even HAVE a Tumblr account? Half wondering if this was some very clever and sophisticated phishing scheme, I clicked on the link to see what “adult content” I had posted.

C’mon, folks!! Even if I hadn’t been wearing pants when my phone went rogue, this STILL wouldn’t have been “adult content!” “Objectionable,” sure. “Disgusting,” possibly. “Nauseating,” without a doubt. But “adult”???

So I disputed the characterization and figured I would get a decision in about three weeks. Maybe.

Three seconds (literally) later, I got this.

Wow, I feel much safer now. Don’t you?

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The Wisdom Of “Dune”

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Frank Herbert, “Dune”

I distinctly remember reading “Dune” for the first time. I was a high school senior and took a college-level night English literature class that focused on science fiction classics. I remember being just totally blown away by the scope and sweeping story line, but also with some of the more philosophical concepts and the detailed politics and strategies between the different factions.

The quote above was always the best and most memorable of all.

These days, fifty-four years after publication, you can get it on T-shirts and memes – in high school you could order posters of it to hang next to my Led Zeppelin posters.

Fear has its place. There are lots of things in life that are worthy of fear – hopefully most of us don’t encounter them on a regular basis.

Irrational, unnecessary fears are a problem. Too many of us (myself included) can get slowed down, even paralyzed into inaction at times, tied up in knots over fears of what might or might not happen in the immediate or near future.

Courage and confidence can be overwhelmed by such fears. The mind can believe us to be helpless when we are not. The gut can get twisted into knots when there’s no immediate danger, or even true danger in the short term. Problems? Yes, up to our asses in alligators some times. Danger and crises? No, they’re not real alligators, it’s just a figure of speech.

There may be problems at work, at school, with our health, with our families, and they may be serious. Are they an actual “DANGER” this minute? Today? Next week? If not, why be tied up and wasting all of that nervous energy today?

And we’re usually not without resources, not without alternatives, not without options. Sure, getting from here to a better place might well involve a gauntlet of truly torturous ordeals – but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get there. And if we’re already being tortured on a daily basis just dealing with our current day-in, day-out shit, isn’t the better long term plan to be working through those ordeals toward a better place.

The gut doesn’t always agree or understand. But the head needs to remember. Don’t let fear dominate. Let it pass through you. And then move on, with the head in control, not the gut.

At least, that’s the plan and good advice!

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My Leg

Today started out pretty much where yesterday left off.

That’s not good.

It was a “busier than God” sort of day on top of it, and a long 11+ hours at the hanger.

That’s not necessarily good.

Then when I got home there was craziness from the job site.

That wasn’t good at all.

But I was stubborn. I kept moving. I made it out the other side and might have made some progress.

That’s good. Finally.

I have no idea why my cell phone camera decided to take a burst of 22 photos of my leg while I was driving.

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Paper Or Plastic?

They say one should never make a decision in anger. (They also apparently say you should never make a promise when happy, but that sounds like bullshit.)

Tonight, I shouldn’t be allowed to answer the question that titles this post.

I know it will pass. But like Spock in the first JJ Abrams “Star Trek” after Kirk finally gets under his skin (and his planet and millions of his people including his mother have been killed – details) I’m probably better off counting backwards from 1,000 in German.

That’s what an adult would do.

Eintausend

Neunhundert neun und neunzig

Neunhundert acht und neunzig

Neunhundert sieben and neunnzig

Neunhundert sechs und neunszig

Neunhundert fünf und neunzig

Neunhundert vier und neunzig

Neunhundert drei und neunzig

Neunhundert zwei und neunzig

Neunhundert ein und neunzig

Neunhundert neunzig…

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