Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Doing your ZEN Laundry

There is also this story in Zen tradition where a student monk goes to the river to wash his clothes. There on the bank of the river he sees this 'master' washing his closes. Disturbed, the student asks 'Master, are you not free from this?' And the master quickly replies, "How could you ever be free from 'this'?", lifting his clothes out of the river.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's been a rough month

A couple days ago (Sunday to be exact), I got a call from my parents saying that my mom's brother had passed away. Actually, it was the third call of the night. The first was that my Uncle Ronnie may have had a 'mini-stroke' and he was admitted to the ICU (at that point they were packing up to leave). The next call was that he was in the ICU and that his heart may have stopped. The final, omninous call brought the news, which was not surprising at all. Things like this don't hit me hard initially, but this was the second death in a month and I'm not looking forward to any more.

Last night, I couldn't help think about Ronnie. He had a stroke nearly 10 years ago, and had not been the same since. He was always so happy, though. He was always happy to see you and would get upset if you didn't come see him. Oh, I can think of all the times my family 'didn't have time' to stop by and spend a few moments with him. To think of all those opportunities lost because we didn't have time, and it really hit me hard. Thinking about reaching my arms around him, and the times that I wasn't there too.

I think my generation is probably the saddest of them all, because we, at the influence of our baby boomer parents, may be losing site of what really matters. The quality of our social interactions is pitiful, we're greedy, selfish, and self-centered.

Through all of this, I hope to see Ronnie in heaven. That's all I really want right now, to see those gone before me again.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Conflicting Views

So, I was watching the WB show 'Everwood' last night with my wife. Normally these shows have a theme that runs through all the substories. I can't remember what that theme was, but one of the MDs on the show (can't remember his name, but he's the younger one from LA) went out with his extreme sports buddy. His girlfriend, who he lives with, didn't like that he was spending is only day off to take a dangerous downhill bike trail.

So this sparks a discussion that seemed poignant. The MD was miffed that his girl didn't want him to go, and the extreme guy was like 'that's why I'm single.' That seemed to be this guy's M.O., he liked being single and the illusion of independence that brings. He was basically advocating that the MD should stay as busy as he could, and make something of his clinic (like open franchises or something, which is a stupid idea). Seeing this conversation, I figured the MD would mount his bike and in a twist of fate fall down the hill to his demise. I mean, they're having this conversation about 'what's important', the MD agrees he should keep trucking (he's over worked and doing too many things, BTW) and that everyone else is stupid for trying to hold him down. Well, his extreme friend ends up being injured (He'll never walk again sort of thing), blames the MD for going to the trial with him (because the trail wasn't officially opened until the following week and it's some extreme thing that probably wasn't safe), and basically wants to die and blames his MD friend for ruining his 'life.'

So, in summary, because this MD was working too much his free time became too valuable. He planned weeks ahead to take the day off to do this with this guy, the trail wasn't opened so they he pressured the extreme guy into taking the risk that day, because rescheduling for next week wasn't an option, his girl was pissed because he planned to take this day off (out of his ultrabusy schedule, she'd been blown off for several weeks) without planning with her... Then they have this conversation where they guy's like 'you're not dead yet, keep busting ass to get what you 'want''.

I tried to summarize that as best as possible. So what does this mean to me?

I'm working too much. I'm constantly on the computer, writing, doing IT stuff, researching for stories, planning my own business stuff. I'm constantly detached from friends and family, trying to make something of myself... Be it more money to pay off my enormous debt (mostly from my stint at a private college but a little consumer stuff), or trying to switch careers to something less IT-centric... It's all pretty self-centered really, but it's all in the guise of taking care of my family.

In all of this, I've been struggling because I'm doing too much to really be good at any one thing. I try to look for advice from a variety of sources, movies, literature, my experience, my friends, my wife, and the Bible. I've prayed on it a lot, and had plenty of time to meditate on it.

In the end, I can only say that the best thing in life is to Savor it. Not devour or inhale your time, chasing dreams that will die before you do or with you. I keep looking back at the parable of the wealthy landowner (or farmer). This wealthy dude had a good crop, and decided to store all his crop in huge barns that he would build and he wouldn't have to work every again (sounds like retirement doesn't it). Well, he spent all his time doing this, and in the end his barns burned down and I think he died.

So, it looks like between all this, we should live each day, try to 'survive', and savor every second. If that means that I take the time and thoughtfully rake leaves, so be it. You will never ever be able to stop 'working', but if you take that work and try to get as much joy out it as possible, then you'll be ok.

I'm doing too much to savor anything, and I feel like I'm spinning my wheels and wasting my precious life without accomplishing anything, connecting with my friends and family, or really making anyone happy (not even myself).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ah, the Joys of IT

Working in IT is alright most of the time. That is, except when there is a major project to undertake.

So I had to work out the move of our datacenter switch. In a well documented environment, this is normally no problem. No one documents anything around here, so I spent 2 weeks collecting data and working out the plan. I also made the cables.

So last night, I started the migration with one other person (who was on call). What a freaking nightmare. I pulled an all nighter (almost 24 hours on shift) and still had to work from home. So needless to say, I'm tired. I still have to work another 6 hours before I can rest.

Oh well, it's not too bad. It's honest work, it's not like I'm taking what someone else has worked on, rewriting it and calling my own.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Cat 6 cable and TPS reports

Trying to make patch cables out of CAT6 cable just plan sucks.

Not only that, but I have no idea what I'm going to put on my 'TPS' reports for all this extremely productive work.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Going to Win

Alright, so we're going to win.
I'm not sure what that means, but it means something. I've been talking to my partner in crime about working on other projects.

Projects this, projects that... I got a lot of time to think about what's important while I was flying to and from, walking here and there. A lot of time to think that sometimes all these projects and schemes don't really matter, that in the end it's the time that we spend with our friends and families that really matters.

I mean, greed, ambition, lust (not in my case) and a million other things set themselves up as urges that must be fulfilled, like you're fulfilling a need, when in fact you're just feeding a bottomless pit with the wages earned through hours of effort. There is nothing wrong with being driven, but one's priorities are what are important...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

In my memory I wrote you down in ink

Wow, Spent the weekend at Winstock... absolutely fascinating.

Anyway, Let's endeavor to find solutions... Let's try to fix the machine.

Part of me wants so desperately to detach from this system, but deep down I know it's impossible and I like being a part of the larger system. It's just you wish that it wasn't breaking down, that the space between people wasn't getting larger, the field wasn't getting more competitive, and that people were not lonely, dejected, dispossessed, or alienated.

I tell you, there are people out there that have nothing, yet we worry about the latest cellphone, car, computer, purse, shoes, style, fashion, cuisine, and the list goes on and on. All while we're busy, consumer and obsessing about that we consume, people are suffering before us. It's a Siddhartha moment in a way. Unfortunately, that's a Buddhism reference, and for those who know the story, it makes sense.

Siddhartha Gautama was a prince, a prince who left the castle walls to find pain and suffering. In this, he determined that there must be a solution for suffering, so he meditated on it and thus Buddhism was born. Unfortunately, the parts of Buddhism that I've encountered in the Western world seem a perverse form of self-help. Self-centered basically. So, how is any other religion any better?

Most in actual practice are just as self centered, in some instances. Like you could say that it's all about extending one's own life, but that's a shallow shallow interpretation of what's at the core.

Look at the most misunderstood religions in the world, Christianity and Islam. I believe at Islam's core is the 'struggle' or jihad within yourself, to undo this conditioning and selfishness. However, it's extreme perversion and perhaps it's questionable foundation and it's evolution of Jewish traditions makes me believe it's foundless as a faith system.

I see God's interaction throughout human history as having a few KEY corrective moments, that's all the river of time really needs. All God needs to do is place is hand at the right points and we, by our very nature, take care of the rest. So, Moses pulled the Jews out of Egypt and formed his chosen people to bless the rest of the world through an extreme set of direct tests and interventions and punishments. I mean, who else is going to straighten out a society other than God? So, once the Jews started ignoring God and paying more attention to the law (it must be an ego thing, like look how good I am), God sent his Son. Again Corrective action... So Jesus was like, 'your priorities are all screwed up, the Kingdom isn't where you're looking, suckas.' Then, in another corrective action, gave himself up for sacrifice at the hands of Romans, there by telling his Father that the Law's eternal debt is paid and that these humans are worth saving, despite their flaws and weakness.

If one of us suddenly became as perfect as Jesus, think about how condescending and judgemental we would be? Instead, Jesus, the Son of God, gave His life for us, giving us eternal life. Chew on that a while.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Pressure

We've spent so much time plugged into the advertising system, having cheap money, and being bombarded with images of wealth that we're constantly looking for ways to 'get rich.'

That makes accurate and thoughtful career and life planning so difficult. We're conditioned to desire that which we cannot have and trained to attain it even at the sacrifice of freedom (especially financial).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A little calmer, a little more focused.

So today for some reason, I'm starting to feel a little calmed down. I am realizing the value in my education as more than a token degree, and even if I don't use the degree to get a job, I can use the education to build something for myself.

Nowadays, it seems as if people don't really care about a college education so much as a college degree. If I never finish my final theory class, and I really any less qualified than a student who did? We need to put an emphasis back on the increase in knowledge and skills represented by a college education, and worry a little less about the prestige of finishing the program.

Not that I encourage dropping out, but rather I commend those who put actual effort into learning something from a class instead of just learning enough to pass the class.

It is with this in mind that I intend to work on a few project concepts that will allow me to use my current skillset and education to earn a living. Instead of finding a contemporary job, perhaps I could create something for myself, while providing for my family in the process.

What the heck?!?

So, yesterday I was asked to create a list of trade shows our team should attend in the next six months. So I create the list and email to my boss. No sweat right? She looks it over and it's all good from what she tells me. Then I send the list to my colleague with a short note. This morning I look in my inbox and lo and behold my list has been reformated slightly (maybe a column add and a bold here or there). My colleague decided to forward this list to our other team members and to take credit for it.

See, it's crap like this that is making it hard to work in positions like this. My other job is the same way, I've got overzealous competition trying to undermine everything I'm doing without having the understanding that I do. Unbelievable. In that case, it's like one guy wanting another's projects because of the projects' prestige, without having the knowledge to do it. At the same time, this said 'guy' is trying to turn my name to mud so that he can further undermine me. Ridiculous!

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Plan

So here it is:
work on family biz stuff
maintain at fulltime
maintain at parttime until the video project goes live

Then maybe once the family biz takes off, the fulltime can go by by and the parttime can become fulltime. That means I have to maintain a good relationship with the parttime and not piss them off.

Yea, when you're like me and have tons of projects, you get tired of working all the time. I've got stuff coming up that will take a lot of time, and I don't spend enough of my precious minutes with my family as it is.

Come in, close the door.

So today, I realized that I am getting unreasonably stressed about my future, and more specifically my career situations. I am getting a token degree in communications, learning all sorts of interesting things even though I have no aspirations of finding a job in media or the like. I've decided that I can do grad school, or possibly a second undergrad, before kids come into the picture, etc. My recent considerations have been:

- Law School (be a lawyer, or something like it. 3 years of school)
- Nuclear Medicine (undergrad - 1 year of pre-reqs, then 2 years of school, if I get in)
- Nursing (undergrad - 18 months of school since I'll already have a degree) - already ruled out after talking to a nurse about her job
- Be a Cop, get a Masters in Criminal Justice (but I'm not all that interested in being shot, and no cop lives up to the ideals of the job, so I feel it would be a constant let-down by my coworkers)

Perhaps I am just watching too much T.V. lately. After watching an episode of "Grey's Anatomy," I'm all gung-ho about the medical stuff. After performing well on a test in class, I'm all for the Law School thing (or perhaps just the process of taking the LSAT). My current job is great, but it is less than satisfying, and I know that I can do better (in both my level of accomplishment at work and my financial rewards) but lack formal qualifications.

Deciding I needed to take a break and focus myself, I found an abandoned office, and shut the door to think. After a few minutes, I felt more centered, even though I accomplished nothing tangible. However I am beginning to realize that we often settle for mediocre tangible results instead of waiting for promises with much higher yields.

I want to build a village

All I need is a few million dollars to get the development off the ground...

We'll build a planned community, create a mainstreet, get everything within bicycle or walking distance, build a small grocery store or something, maybe an eckerd and a few smaller stores (boutiques?). Maybe a park here or there, perhaps get the local government to occupy space for an elementary school.


Ok, so I mentioned that we're all living in this 'machine,' and I didn't really elaborate on what that means.

So, If you look throughout history, something in the past 50 years has changed, especially for those living in the developed world. I believe for the first time, an entire generation has been raised without concern for 'survival.' I don't know what else to say at this point, but think about it.

Your parents (the baby boomers) didn't grow up with air conditioning, video games, the Internet, and widespread TV media. And our generation is stranglely identified solely by our economic habits, especially our consumption habits. Isn't that strange? What are the implications of these things? Our we less social as a generation? Are we greedier and more self-centered with years of relatively easy lives (compared to the generations before us).

Right, we went to dinner the other night for my wife's birthday. We went to an Indian restaurant, which was a new experience for many. But at one end of the table, there were nothing but complaints, "Oh does it have 'curry' in it? I don't like 'curry." and some of their food was undercooked and even after it was fixed, many would not eat it. Generally, I felt like they were a bunch of whiners, but I can't really say that I'm not. They seemed picky, but I can't say that I'm not.

Picky? hmm

Sunday, November 06, 2005

In the machine

Eh, what a weekend....

I went to a funeral today. It was very sad. My wife's classmate had died of cancer, she was very very young. Simply tragic, within a few short days she was given a grim prognosis and was taken from us. Peace be with her and her family.

So, it took all this to make me realize that we're all just trying to live in this big machine. It's a struggle on three fronts, social, economic, spiritual, but we all must do it. It's neither fair nor easy. All we really want to do is Live.

If you ever get a chance, check out the movie "To Live." It's based on the lives of this Chinese couple who live through the communist revolution and into the latter part of the twentieth century. It's probably one of the more poignant illustrations of how our basic human desires are often at odds with the flow of society and perhaps even how misguided societies can become. We're all trying to survive in this system, and it's a system that's often at odds with our desires. I decided to rename the blog to "Man in the Machine" to highlight this sentiment. Perhaps something good will come of this.

Deep down, I wish to fellowship with my family and friends forever. I want to walk and talk with them. I want these things, but all I do is work myself to death, chasing emptiness and vanity. The writer of Eccelesiastes was right.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Eh Friday!

Well, This weekend is going to be loads of fun!
Tomorrow is my wife's b-day... hurray! Wishing her a good year of course! She's not the indecisive slacker that I am, but that's ok. That's why I call her my better half.

Anyway, I asked my brother-in-arms to join me on this not-quite-personal weblog (geez, i hate that word).

Today's Career Thought for the day:
I went to Sam's Club to get a cake for tomorrow. I sat down to eat a slice of cheese pizza, and watched people. I'm a people watcher. It's interesting to peek into their lives. One guy was buying a case of orange juice! You see families go by, or people with families, and you have to think: They seem to be working out just fine. Nice to know not everyone is a slacker.

Changing Careers

I've always wondered what it's like for a Pirate to change careers.

Anyway, it goes to show you what's important. Get some education AND experience! Don't forget the value of communication skills either!

What is Flip Flop?

When you're a real slacker, you often find yourself thinking of new careers that match your slackerdom. Flip Flop is all about helping you live out your indecisiveness through us. That's right! If you can't make up your mind about something, follow our musings to the ultimate path: inaction!