Sunday, August 28, 2011

Come On, Irene

The little hurricane that could: Irene. My friends along the East Coast blogging and tweeting and Facebooking their every waking hour. Mandatory evacuations potentially affecting an area with a population forty million. NYC shutting down its subway. A seas of boarded windows. Obama in some kind of Death Star Control Room, warning people and pretending to devise response situations. Then, she sputters out. Come on, Irene! Only  a million folks without power? Winds dropping down to CAT1 level? And yet the media is covering it as if Irene were the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Every single station and live show with their own footage and their own reports leaning into the wind. Anderson Cooper standing up to his ankles in rapidly draining flood water, calling it "a boring rain." Same thing on every damn channel. You can see the disappointment on their eyes. They needed some carnage and wholesale destruction to distract us from everything else happening these days.

If Irene entered the Gulf Of Mexico, you'd only be able to find detailed information online. And nobody other than The Weather Channel would send a report to cover it. Would anyone honestly care if the Gulf South gets crushed again? But, oh, God forbid, NYC is endangered! And Wall Street might flood? Washing up the corpses of our 401Ks and retirement accounts. Credit Default Swaps and Collateralized Debt Obligations bobbing to the surface. They've been dead a while though. And instantly stink up the thick New York air. Didn't we bury those toxic bastards deep enough? Won't see THAT on the news, though. Just enough East Coast misery to make the West Coast forget it is circling the drainpipe of bankruptcy. Nevermind that we've got Hurricane Double Dip Recession peeking over the horizon. We can't find any of those invisible, bearded, religious ninjas we've spent trillions defending against, so now maybe we'll have to declare a War On Weather! Those terrorist winds hate our freedom. Lightning wants to convert us to sharia law. And hail has declared jihad on our car windshields. So let's pony up about $50B for Irene and see where we can waste some more tax dollars. But keep your eye open for Jesus. Fox polls show their viewer still favor his return. He is coming back to end taxes, raise employment from the dead, and cast Obama's Healthcare Reform down to the Liberal Hell where it was conceived. Can we all join Perry and Bachmann in an AMEN? Amen.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Night. Non-stop.

Some days never end. Thankfully, this was an endless Saturday.

Started with a trip to the gym. My first visit in over a week. Back and biceps. Then a long hour in the pool with Meg. That girl is part mermaid. And she never gets tired of me hurling her through the air. I gorilla press her as high as I can manage. Sometimes she has to be 10' up. Always screams on her way down. Making a splash twice her size. I never held my breath that long. Or swam so well. She'd still be swimming twelve hours later if I didn't have her check for Wrinkled Feet. Not sure how much longer that trick will last. But it still works, for now. If her feet are wrinkled, it is a sign from God. And she listens to that!

Ate at Cici's pizza afterwards. Liam always complains when we try to go. Have to say, he's right. It is cheap ($5 for me, $4 for Meg) but not exactly the most diverse selection, aside from the actually pizzas. I was hoping I could avoid the carbs and bulk up on some salad. No such luck. The salad was dull as a slug, didn't even have cheese, and the pasta sauce tasted like a heavily processed canned product. But, Meg did get a balloon and the manager performed a magic trick. She was happy. So I was happy. Her bar isn't raised quite as high as mine. Plus Meg said Cici's brownies were excellent. Still. Might be a while before we go back there.

After a couple of hours of babysitting, I concluded the night with some business-based drinking at The Quarter, in Gulfport. Bunch of issues to sort through. Some critical decisions and clarifications. Interesting stuff abounds. Just have to find the time and energy to make it all happen. But could be some exciting stuff if it lives up to the promise. Great drinks at the Quarter, as always. And a fine fine chicken sammich from next door.

Excellent Saturday night. Even if it was non-stop.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dog Days

Home last night. Just before midnight. Entire day wasted on travel. Lunch of peanuts and pretzels high over the prayer field of Texas. Dinner in the form of overly expensive, excessively spicy Chinese fastfood overlooking a runway in Atlanta. But so damn good to be in my own bed. With my old schedule. Up at six with the kids. Jostle them off to school. Early to work. Try and catch up. Meetings. Meetings. Meetings. Practice sessions and writing for my Woodstock tribute next week. New phone rapidly approaching. New storage en route. A quarter million in other hardware juggled over head in the form of paperwork and project plans. More than four hundred emails. Up to my waist in them. Finger numb from hitting delete. Costumes. Schedules. A storm on the horizon. Approaching the grim anniversary of Katrina.

These are the dog days of summer. A time where old hound dogs like me are so hot and tired we sit panting and drooling. Trying to catch our breath. Trying to think our way out of this tarpit of heat and sweat and heavy handed profanity. But thinking gets us nowhere. We have to muster the strength to chase down our meals. Even under the glare of an August sun. It is feast or famine these days. And even if I'm short on sharp teeth, this dog still has some bite left in him.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Leaving Las Vegas

Las Vegas is too much for this old computer dork. Too much drink. Too much food. Too much skin. Too much looming sin. I really WANT to enjoy myself. But I feel guilty. I don't feel like I deserve such delicious treats. Or extra time in bed. (6AM in Las Vegas is 8AM to my internal clock.) I should keep watching my diet. Spare my liver. Actually commit to some training. But I do none of those. Thus, Las Vegas is one, long, non-stop cheat on every private promise I've made to myself. And the city knows it. Knows I'll cave in. With my wallet. With my waistline. With my every waking moment. Its laughter thrums like all-too-distant cicadas.

I do enjoy one thing: the people. So many names I've only known through email or IM. Meeting them in person is always interesting. Even if I'm older than some of them. Even when they inevitably confess, "I thought you'd have more of an accent." Hey, we do have running water and electric lights in MS, you know? Not all of us sound like Haley Barbour.

How these people resist the temptations of this city is beyond me. Don't they see it? Are they somehow numb to the scope and screams and and shot glasses and chink chink chink of slot machines in every conceivable corner? I'd live paycheck to paycheck. Never go home. Or bother changing clothes. Like some sort of living dead geek. But all these folks are immune. They've built up a tolerance. Me, I'd be an addict if I didn't escape.

I'm ready to be home. Far fewer choices and temptations. Boring food. Boring drink. No sign of skin or sin. I like my life simpler. Less tempting. Nothing to think about. Just slow Southern habits moving in endless gray circles. There's a comfort in my tedium. Maybe I don't have as many options back in the balmy depths of South Mississippi, but I have no guilt, plenty of time to train, and a healthier relationship with my liver!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Narratives Of Las Vegas

I'm fascinated by the many narratives of Las Vegas. The obscenely vast scale. The unsustainable dreams. Sleek beautiful serpents coyly eating their own tail. All these slow gray dreams crawling across the same space, fighting for too much attention. You may miss them if you blink. And I blink too much.

My breakfast so perfect. And so impossibly cheap. A three egg omlette. Add ham. And tomatoes. And spinach. Almost too light and fluffy. My fork barely finds purchase. While I eat, a gang of 20-something hipsters mix ranks with a gang of silk suited businessmen. The hipster leader in a bright pink Polo shirt. Drinking bourbon at seven thirty in the morning and speaking non-stop French. Four other hipsters at a different table, like children cast aside during Thanksgiving. The adults sitting around Pink Shirt are all in black jackets and short on hair. French for everyone. I'll never know the depth of their story.

Polish off my omlette while watching three awkwardly skinny Asian girls wandering through the lobby. Their dresses too short. Their hair too tussled. Impending hangovers obvious in their step. I'll never know what they were doing while I slept.

On the way to the office, I catch a ride with the only cabbie that knows less about Las Vegas than I do. Pilot Road, I say. Pee low, he said. Pilot, I repeated. Pie lots, he said. End up typing my request into Google Translate on my Blackberry. Technology turning my slow Southern drawl into Arabic. GPS appears to be the same in any language. And off we go.

Thai food for lunch. Ping Pong. Really. That's its name. A dive by Las Vegas standards. Lovely, by mine. Open architecture. Clean lines. Lots of natural light. And just the right amount of spice on the Thai dishes. Good service. Great food. Cheap price tag. Just my style. And speed. But this is Las Vegas and nobody can slow down for very long.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Memorable Day

Approaching midnight but Las Vegas still sweats through one hundred and three degree temperatures. Thirty five floors below my floor-to-ceiling windows: people are playing golf, a plane lands every three minutes, and there is no end to the traffic on the ever-under-construction streets. This city never catches its breath. It is too big. Lumbering ever forward with too much weight on its spine. Inertia and alcohol and an unfulfilled promise of instant wealth. If you play enough, you're told, eventually you win. Everyone here keeps playing. Waiting for that jackpot to hit. My theory states: you can't lose if you never play.

Four hour meeting at eight this morning. Two hundred and some odd computer geeks gathered under one roof. Won't do the math on the cost. Too many zeros there. Not including the food or coffee or transportation or facilities costs. Lots of cheering. Plans about plans. Implied promises. Requests for continued patience.

Then a financial wizard I admire says the oddest things. The economy is doing well. Concerns over Europe are overblown. The threat of a second recession is mostly empty. Leaving me wondering if I'm living in an odd distopian fantasy or he is. One of us is wrong. But I'm a computer dork and he's a high ranking financial professional. So what are the odds on me winning a debate with him? Hopefully he is right. I'm just not seeing it.

An earthquake outside Washington D.C. today. No, really. The capital shook and was evacuated after a 5.8 quake. Nobody notable injured. My buddy Peter verified he had survived via text. Unfortunately the White House remained intact. And I'm sure Obama will find a way to make this Bush's fault.

Libya has a historic turn as unrelenting rebel forces push Gadhafi out of the Libyan capital of Tripoli. The opposition claiming victory. Loyalists putting up their own resistance. New casts of nothing but gunfire and tracers. More revolution crawling Westward. How long until it comes to our shores?

And a Cat 3 or Cat 4 hurricane dragging along the Eastern seaboard.

All coming together to make it a memorable day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Future In Already Here

In the 90s, William Gibson wrote: "The future is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed." Twenty years later, I'm sitting in a thick swirl of modernity, expensive paranoia, and hyper-connected technology that has transformed today's American airports into a Lucas-esque Creature Cantina.

Bluetooth equipped businessmen dragging their streamlined Mobile Sales Platforms behind them. Public announcements every ninety seconds thanking me for being the airline's "Partner In Security." My fellow Southern rednecks waddling between crowded waiting aisles, praying for an extra-wide seat to magically become available. And at the High Tech Anti-Terrorist Checkpoint, an unarmed micro-army of minimum wage, tattooed Post-Tweeners assure me that the "non-invasive" porn scanners will not record the images, nor share them on Facebook, and my naughty bits are blurred so that they cannot determine scientific width or girth of my naughty bits. But that doesn't make me feel any safer from the invisible religious ninjas they've been protecting me from so effectively for the past decade. Fortunately, my obedience and an extra $25 per bag rewards me with access to a Starbucks, semi-clean bathrooms, and optional $3.95 worth of wireless connections.

So, here I sit. Typing and waiting to launch skyward. This is our new America. The future is already here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Own Rome

I am fortunate. I usually like my job. Pretty high on the ladder. Lots of leash to wander around and do what I need to do. Folks depend on me. Treated fairly. Given responsibility. And respect. Usually that is all good. But bad days at work can be really bad days. Which never seem to end.

Today, for example. There were fires raging through my own Rome. Vendors trying to line things up. People needing support. Departments needing support. I'm getting hit with emails. And phone calls. And tickets. And alarms. And instant messages. All made worse by servers that are puking up their gut, endlessly rebooting, or locking up with a Blue Screen Of Dead. 

Ten hour day. Twelve? I dunno. Fixed most of the woe. Fled the scene as quietly as possible. Saw the kids for maybe an hour. Had some left over lasagna. Didn't train. Fighting off odd preludes to a vertigo attack. And generally did nothing productive with my few remaining moments away from the bed. 

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day at work. But if there's fire, I'll be fighting it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Visiting Meg's Classroom

Somehow I'm forty and my beautiful little girl is in rocketing into fourth grade. Meg is part dancer, part artist, part actress, part singer, and part athlete. All bundled together into a redheaded atom bomb. I don't think there's anything that can stop or and nothing she cannot do. When I grow up, I want to be like her!

I rushed home from work and ended the day visiting Meg's classroom. She showed us her journal full of drawings, an "All About Meg," poster (complete with big-eyed Molly) and a hand-made 3D rendering of her "perfect meal." And afterwards the entire class went outside to bury their version of a time capsule. (Which they'll unearth at the end of the year.)

She's growing too quick. Exploring so much of the world. Finding stray pieces of reality and completely remodeling them around her. I get caught her gravity sometimes. Waiting to see what she comes up with next. What she'll write or how she'll interpret music into her own modern dance. Life is never dull when Meg is involved. If only she could remake the world for everyone the way she's remade it for me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

On Running

I don't like running. Cindy likes it less than I do. And today, we ran together.

Run - N - Tri is staring up a new "Couch To 5K" program. Designed to take you from the sofa to a real 5K run in eight weeks.

Today was the first day. About 20 of us showed up for some stretching then 60 seconds of jogging followed by 90 seconds of walking. Rinse and repeat. For twenty or so minutes. Added up to almost a mile and a half.

I hung with Cindy. She did great. We weren't first. But we weren't last. It made for a great sweat and excellent way to end a Monday.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Cravings

Trained again this afternoon. Later in the day. Hotter, but more prepared. Far better swim More focus. And energy. Did 1320 meters, without stopping on the far side.

(Quick side note: Bumped into Varnado at the gas station. Hello. Hello. Good to see you. You, too. You've lost weight? Something like that. Okay, bye. Bye!)

Did not WANT to bike. But I biked. Terrible headwind on half of the trip. Like pedaling through syrup. But I found a good pace for myself and nailed it. Came in last yesterday, came in first today. Another small victory for my collection.

Craving protein the rest of the day. Grilled up a chicken breast. Made another spinach & lentil omelet.  Easy and exceptionally num.

And thus was my weekend of training and sweating.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Morning

Six in the morning. The mind is willing. But the body is weak. Not firing on all cylinders as I hit the water. Too much mental noise. Only three of us swimming. I'm too slow to draft them.  Doubts lingering behind my eyes. Fear simmering slowly. Up from my belly. Thinking about everything except swimming. No focus so fear. Just reaching out and dragging myself through the lake, ten thousand times just to make 880 meters.

Follow it up with an equally pitiful ride. Chewed through my inertia by the midway point. Couldn't find the right gear. Or a second wind. Relegated to last place. Of six riders. Couldn't get comfortable or keep up. 

Started to cut my ride short. Wanted to throw in the proverbial and meet everyone at the cars. Made the motions, but a hundred feet later told myself not to give up. Just finish it right. Regardless of what place I'm in or how long it takes. Just practice. None of that matters. Just go the distance. And do - not - quit. 

So I didn't quit. I turned around again. Back on the course. And eventually, I finished.  Not the pace or performance I wanted. But I didn't quit. So I'll chalk it up as another small victory. Need all of them that I can get!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Meg's First Night Away

Meg's friend had a birthday party. And some twenty 4th grade girls were all invited to spend the night. Meg, however, has never stayed over night anywhere other than with us, or Gigi.

Until tonight!

Cindy and I have both phones turned on. And we've been expecting the call any moment. But it never happened. So it looks like this will be Meg's first night away from home!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Omlette

Six in the morning isn't my best time for culinary experiments. But I tried anyway. Sauteed the spinach in a little oil. Beat up an egg. Pour it on top. One lone egg didn't go very far. So I added a second. Then the lintels. Everything turned the right color. Eventually.

Spatula'ed it off the skillet. Paired it up with some sriracha and a protein shake. Little fresh ground pepper. Wanted some sour cream. And a bunch of cheese. But didn't want the risk of affecting my morning workout.

Overall? Not bad. Not the best breakfast I've ever had. But certainly one of the best I've made! I am not too fond of the lentils. They're pretty damn  boring. But tomorrow I'll give it another shot. Maybe put the spices on the INSIDE of the omlette. And I'll start off with two severely beaten eggs.

If nothing else, at least I tried something new and fixed it all myself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What the hell are lentils?

Trying to make gradual improvements to my eating habits. Read that legumes (ie: beans) are a great source of protein and fiber. Unfortunately the only beans I actually like are pork & beans, or bbq beans. So a bit of research reveals that lentils are not only low in carbs, but they're second only to soy beans in protein. One problem. Not only have I never tried a lentil, but I've never even seen a lentil or attempted to prepare one! But, why let something like inexperience and a fear of new foods stop me?

So I bought some lentils. Plan to make a spinach & lentil omelette in the morning. See how that does. Probably have to spice them up a bit, but at least one day I'll be able to go to glory knowing I tried lentils at least once.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Eating Habits

Most of my lunches look like this:
  • Ham or turkey on whole wheat
  • Small salad
  • Cup of water
  • Bonus: tomato soup (if available)
  • Bonus: grilled/baked chicken (if available)
  • Bonus: grilled veggies (if available)
Usually, it is just the sandwich and a salad washed down with water. Very boring. Very mundane. Almost to the point of maddening. I look at hand made pizzas every single day. And I want a slice. I look at fried foods every single day. And I want them. I see deserts every single day. And I want TWO! I get my water from a dispenser with almost 10 different sugar-saturated drinks. And I want that, too! All of it is effectively free and endlessly available. I could pick up a whole pizza and take it with me and do it every day. 

But I know what it costs me. The price my health pays. I realize if I scarf down that slice of pizza, I have waste a couple of miles of bike work. If I enjoy that double cheeseburger the lunch lady wants to grill for me, I obliterate an hour of swimming. And I could easily drink over a thousand calories worth of Coke in one sitting, if I didn't know the price. 

So every day I sacrifice my tastebuds. I turn my back on my palate. I skip the pizza. And I skip the friend mozzarella sticks.  But my waistline and my energy levels thank me. Every day.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Tri Training

Swam at Robinwood Lake. First time in three weeks. And it turned out to be one of my best swims to date! Had it in my head to do a lap (down and back) without stopping. Usually I'll go across, catch my breath, then come back to the start. Today, I did three laps without stopping on the other side. 1320 meters all together. And likely had more to give.

But, we went biking. I was sweating by the time I put my helmet on! Then we did 20 miles. 17.9MPH average. Rained briefly. Sweated a lot. All around great training day.

Now if only I can get my running up to speed!