Category Archives: Paul

Somewhat Inauspicious

I am so much *NOT* a morning person, particularly as we approach the end of our first year in “work from home” (i.e., “live at work”) mode. If I don’t have to be “on the job” until 08:30, I’m not getting up at 06:30 or 07:00 so that I can spend 20-30 minutes commuting.

But this morning I had a dentist appointment.

I hate going to the dentist. I’ve had colonoscopies – would prefer them to the dentist. I’ve had kidney stones – okay, maybe that one’s a toss up.

So when I drag my sorry ass out of bed a full two hours early to go someplace I REALLY don’t want to be, this was the view out the back window:

Yeah, nothing threatening or inauspicious about that!

Is that a lens flare or a wisp of fog off on the left side at about the ten o’clock position? Or a massive solar flare that’s about to roast the entire inner solar system and reduce the Earth to a molten, smoking cinder?

If it’s “B,” does that mean I can go back to bed and blow off the dentist appointment? Or do I need to be incinerated with a shiny, bright smile?

Inquiring minds, don’t you know!

Leave a comment

Filed under Paul, Photography

Efficiency Strategy

Sometimes to get more done, and to be able to get more done in the future, even though you’re on tight deadlines NOW, you need to back off and do something else to make yourself more efficient. It might seem counterintuitive if you’re tightly focused on the goal and the methods you have to get there, but it’s a lesson to be learned about not losing sight of the bigger picture and being open to opportunities.

Case in point – it’s now been almost a year since the pandemic hit and many of us, myself included, ended up working out of a spare bedroom or odd space at home. When that crisis hit, and one crisis after another, we had to simply deal with it with the tools at hand. In my case, while I have a company laptop here for connecting to the server and accounting software there, the laptop with a single, smaller screen and fixed keyboard and trackpad isn’t the best form factor for me to get volume work done. It can work – it’s just not the easiest or fastest way to work.

However, I have my personal desktop computer here that is quite capable, has dual monitors, a full-sized keyboard, trackball, and so on. So I’ve worked out ways to get a lot of my work done on that computer, simply because it’s so much easier to work on.

But one thing I’ve noticed in the handful of times that I’ve gone back into the office is how much I miss my big 27″ monitors at work. The ones I’m using on my home desktop were picked up when my former office shut down about nine years ago, and while they were pretty cutting edge then, they’re small by today’s standards. They’re also slightly mismatched, different manufacturers, which is a little bit crazy-making in a dual monitor setup. But the price was right (they were being thrown out) and they work fine for what they are, so I’ve gotten used to it.

Earlier this week it struck me – I can do better. Those 27″ monitors today are about 1/3 the price of what those much smaller monitors were ten years ago. And I could use that extra screen space to get much more done, faster, easier…

The new monitors came in today, and while I’ve got deadlines, I took several hours this evening to NOT be working on those Excel files and deposit coding and data entry, and instead rearrange and clean my desk, move the old monitors out, and get the new ones in. It’s like a weight has been lifted, one that I didn’t even realize I was carrying.

Onward and upward! Work smarter, not harder! (Insert totally inappropriate non sequitur platitude here!)

 

3 Comments

Filed under Computers, Paul

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…)

Leave a comment

Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul, Politics

Buckle Up!

Wow.

I’ve still been busier than God all day – running an accounting department for a non-profit with an eight-figure annual budget means that this time of year is juuuuuuuust a bit hectic to begin with. And then the news alerts keep coming in making my phone sound like a pinball machine…

Here’s something I read from someone I trust (over on the social media side you’ll recognize her as someone I’ve been following and re-posting for about five years or more) and it explains a lot of what’s going – it’s an Extinction Burst.

So the next couple of weeks, i.e., the next eleven days in particular, could get very “interesting.” And by “interesting” I mean that there’s a chance that it could get “dangerous.” Even if it doesn’t come to that, it will most certainly be stressful and there will be moments when our lives might fill up with anxiety.

Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other.

Be smart. Be safe.

Breathe. Drink water. Get some exercise.

If you find yourself getting sucked into the crazy, it’s okay to turn it off. Listen to some music. (Probably not “Hamilton” or “Le Miz” right at the moment, if you know what I’m saying.) Read a book. Bing “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” (There’s probably crying involved with that, but it’s the good kind.) Watch the Chiefs march toward back-to-back Super Bowls.

Oh, yeah – wear your mask. Stay home whenever you possibly can. Isolate. Wash your hands. Don’t forget that in addition to the attacks on our brains and our psyches, there’s a pretty significant attack on our physical wellbeing going on.

I want all of you here, healthy, probably happier, on February 1st. And December 31st. And onward.

1 Comment

Filed under Health, KC Chiefs, Paul, Politics

Hair

Because I’m still too irate to speak rationally about yesterday’s events (i.e., the attempted coup at the Capitol by the “President” and his cult) to speak without massive amounts of screaming and obscenities (which I prefer to keep off of this site and use on social media instead) I’ll instead blather on for a few seconds about something else that’s been catching my attention the last few days while my brain is trying to revolt and not hear any more horrors.

Hair.

Now, one might think that given my preferred hair style, i.e.:

…and the way I accomplish it in these now nearly ten months of quarantine and lockdown:

…that hair wouldn’t be that big of a deal. After all, how hard could it be to just buzz it down to fuzz? (“BUZZ FUZZ!!!” Sorry, Paul’s brain is experiencing issues…) You cut it all down to one uniform, short length and it all grows back and stays pretty uniform and then at some point you repeat the process.

Right?

Apparently not.

There are either some assumptions in there that I’m not figuring out or my cranial follicles are conspiring to make me insane. Since the rest of the Known Universe is demonstrably working to make me insane, I suspect the latter.

But, what in hell am I talking about?

Well, first of all, let’s talk about the hair around my ears. (And you thought this was going to be boring!) That’s usually my number one indicator of when I need a new haircut since when it gets long enough it starts to tickle and bother me. Now, just a couple of weeks after a haircut, when I was very, very careful to buzz everything down to a uniform length, the hair above my right ear is long enough to be tickling and bugging me – but not my left ear or anywhere else. In fact, it’s still pretty short everywhere else.

Then there’s this SPOT up near the top of my head where out of nowhere in the last three or four days it’s had some kind of bizarre growth spurt and it’s about three times longer than anywhere else. I know for a fact that it was all cut when I last conned the clippers but now out of the blue it’s just almost freakishly long in this one little patch.

WHY? I thought that the pace of hair growth would be pretty uniform, but that’s apparently wrong. Or, again, conspiracy plus Universe equals insanity.

And don’t even get me started on my eyebrows. I believe it was John Scalzi who once referred to his as the “Thufir Hawat starter set.” That’s the track I’m on.

Is it an age thing? Am I doomed to spend the rest of my years unexpectedly sprouting in odd places?

Whatever. Maybe I’ll just start shaving it entirely again. I tried that once and found that it was bizarre (particularly the part down at the end, the incident with the towel) and too much work to maintain. But faced with this madness, it might be the lesser of two evils.

And why are there always only two evils?

Wasn’t this better than talking about politics?

1 Comment

Filed under Paul, Politics, Random Blatherationings

Did I Miss Anything Today?

Just yelled an obscenity as I realized it’s 23:52 and I haven’t posted today. I’ve been hunkered down with year-end and month-end deadlines from Hell.

Did I miss anything today? Anything exciting going on in the world?

1 Comment

Filed under Paul, Politics

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)

1 Comment

Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul