Monday, January 30, 2006


One more little observation for the day. I was wondering around the coffee shop and noticed something a bit strange.

Even coffee shops have their share of sad drunks.

Now, I don't think these guys are actually drunk. They seem to have taken on all of the characteristics of an alcoholic. They sit, hunched over there coffee or coffee-like beverage, staring off into space with a strange and lost look in their eyes. There's this strange haze, induced by that fix, the fix of caffeine.

The eyes seem to betray a look of longing. Looking for a past, full of happier times and populated with the people yet to be harmed by this awful addiction. Lonely, they drown themselves in hot, tasty, coffee goodness.

Almost Empty

The movers came this morning. Odd to stand by, feeling useless, unnecessary, as they moved everything out.

Well, almost everything.

I still have to move my clothes, some personal items, the remains of the linen closet, and my A/V equipment. A small list, really.

Still, it seems as though this step is over. Sure, I have a few things to do to finalize the move - cleaning, mostly. Even so, it feels done. I'm able to relax a bit before the last push.

I did have a small party last night. Mainly for ballroom folks. Actually, it was the first and last party at this place. I will say this, though: It's not that hard to through a relatively informal party. It was a good way to see a bunch of people before I go.

Another odd thing about this whole deal: people seem to think that I'm not coming back at all. It's as though I'll never see anyone again. I don't think that's true, since I'll be back in a month, at least for a little while.

It is nice to get those goodbyes. You never know...

Sunday, January 29, 2006


I'm starting to get the sense that I might be just prattling on about absolute nonsense. It's like I've gone all Abe Simpson on my meager readership:
Like the time we went over to shelbyville during the war, I wore an onion on my belt....which was the style at the couldn't get those white ones, you could only get those big yellow ones.................Now where was I........Oh yeah, the important thing was I was wearing an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time, you couldn't get those...[1]
I at least feel that, for the most part, I tend to keep a rather coherent structure on my posts. I have been accused of prattling on about nothing. I have, in fact, in the past railed against the use of blogs as a way to just talk about nothing. Am I a hypocrite?

As For Things to Prattle on About...

I'm close to done on having things packed up for the movers. I'm need to get everything finished up this afternoon. There are a few things they won't be taking, so I don't have to work about that stuff too much. All that's really left to do is my clothes for storage, my records and home office. Three more days...

I haven't really been able to think about the trip very much. This move has sort of sucked up all the worry. I have, at least, booked myself a room for the first few nights. That takes all of the worry out of me. It's the summer season there, so I was a little worried that I had waited too long to make those reservations. Getting the room so easily actually assuages my fears that I'd have trouble finding places for the rest of the trip.

Well, when it all happens, I'll tell you all about it. In rambling detail...

[1] Ok, so I know this is from The Simpsons, but I have no idea which episode. They all kind of run together on me. Like that time I tried to make omelets with only oil and margarine. It was back during the Great War. I'm not taking that one against the Germans, but the Big One, you know, the one with the Germans. Well, anyway, we couldn't get eggs during that time, up at the front. All they would ship us was cooking oil,margarine, and these little tea biscuits. Well, we saved those biscuits for our afternoon tea. We learned how to drink tea from a British unit that was stationed just north of us there. They were a crazy bunch, with their "Cheery-o's" and "Pip-pips." Well, anyway, that was the summer that Private Doyle broke his one teacup, because he hadn't learned to keep only his pinky off the cup...


Friday, January 27, 2006


I frightened myself off the other day. I was just a little bit too ranty. Spending too much time reading new and information at this day and age's rapid, instantaneous pace had caused my to just plain pissed off.

So I went on walkabout yesterday.

Really odd, needing to get away from doing...nothing. I think that doing nothing has gone to my head. I had worried that about a month into this whole business I would start to go crazy. I think that's true, to some extent.

Things I've become obsessed with:
  • Number of views of my flickr account[1]
  • Email[2]
  • Writing about nothing[3]
  • Downloads of various TV comedies that I would prefer to watch on my own time[4]
What I needed was to force myself away from these mild OCD tendencies and go walkabout.

It was an absolutely fantastic January day yesterday, another good reason to get out side. Forty-odd degrees, sunny, spring-like, half expecting to see roller-bladers come round every corner.

It was refreshing, really. No TV. No Internet. Admittedly, no packing, but I needed a break from that, anyway. Long walk, though. I hiked on up to downtown from my apartment. Twenty-eight blocks of pavement-pounding goodness.

It did remind me that I need few things. First, I need to get back in the habit of carrying a little notebook and pen. More often than not my best ideas come along when I'm walking around, looking at buildings, people, parks, and what not. When I used to have a little notebook, I'd be able to pull the notebook out and see the idea for the crap it really was. Occasionally, there'd be a gem in there.

Another thing I noticed, is that I really need to write by hand more. I did bring a journal with me (I know, why not use that for ideas? Not really convenient to pull out the larger book-sized writing pad when I just want to write down something like "Is the grass greener due to a lighting effect?"). My hand cramped up after about a paragraph. The rest of whatever it was I wrote looks like it was writing by a three year old[5].

Finally, I learned one more thing on my walkabout: After twenty-eight blocks of pavement-pounding goodness, take the bus home.

[1] Please, please go look. I need the view count higher. Need it.

[2] I should really check that. The three different mail alert tools might be wrong.

[3] You're reading it.

[4]Which, by the way, The Office on NBC is actually rather good. Steve Carell is no Ricky Gervais, but who is? They play too very different characters. Once you can get past that, it's a pretty enjoyable show.

The structure is also a little different due to the port to American TV. There is more character development, even with the boss. I think American viewers, these days, seem to need even the worst characters to grow and change. In the original series, the only way that David Brent could grow as a character was to have major change happen - i.e. be made redundant.

Other than that, it has a pretty decent cast, and keeps some of the best parts of the original (the awkward looks at the camera, keeping the majority of the action in the office or at office functions, people so odd, that they're normal).

[5] Which, in fact, it was. I hired the first person I could find that I could dictate to. It happened to be little Timmy Jones, who would probably be upset that I said he was three. For the record he's three and a half.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Getting Angry

Since I have a lot of time on my hands, in the mornings anyway, I've been reading a lot of news. I've also been following the blog of a friend of mine, which covers a lot of political and legal news. Here's what's beginning to take shape: a really angry person.

Frankly, I'm starting to get pissed off.

There's the war (which really isn't a war, it's an "Authorized Use of Force" - we live in an age of doublespeak). It's a mess that's only now trying to win the hearts and minds of the American People. We're stuck in it, so now we should start to care about it.

Then there's the NSA eaves dropping issue. Now, I agree with a lot of commentators, that all the people that are under surveillance are suspected terrorist operatives. They're bad guys, sure, but that doesn't mean that their right to a warrant should be ignored. It's a slippery slope. Once we start down that path, what's stopping people from pointing fingers, going on anti-terrorist witch hunts. It has the potential to become McCarthyism all over again.

Then there's the torture debate. That one really gets me riled up. I'm pissed off about the fact that there even was a debate in the first place. Even so, if were going to have the debate, let's start off with the fact that torture provides little to no useful information. In other words, it's all about just hurting someone for the sake of hurt. We're supposed to be the good guys, right? One of the necessities of being the good guy is not doing what the bad guy is doing. Again, it's a slippery slope. We start by torturing possible terrorists, we follow up by torturing war prisoners, we end up torturing American citizens. War's all about innovation: innovation in weapons, supplies, policies.

The debate was won, but then the President, quietly, signed a statement that basically says, that's great and all, but I'm still going to do what I damn well please.

Which brings me to the whole issue of unitary powers. It was the only thing that concerned me in the Judge Alito senate hearings. Basically what it boils down to is more powers for the presidency. It undermines the whole system of checks and balances. The thing[1] that Bush signed about the torture debate is one great example of the fact that this administration wants to do what it damn well pleases.

I operate under a theory that it only gets worse before it gets better. Things are starting to get really bad. Aside from the issues listed above, there's the prescription drug plan issues, the Jack Abramoff scandal, and other things. All these things are adding up, making people mad. We need to get people mad to make change in the administration.

The one nice thing I enjoy about my friends blog, is the fact that he backs up all his assertions with articles and statistics, cited in a strict manner, only adding his commentary on the outside. I've been a bit ranty[2] here, but I've been feeling that way about it this morning.

[1] Which, I wish to God I knew what it was called. It made me so made that I couldn't remember it.

[2] Interestingly enough, being ranty has its advantages. Maybe it's the caffeine, maybe it's the anger, but I've typing like a maniac (and probably sounding like one as well). Or maybe it's that I'm actually starting to get really concerned about these issues and the direction that the US is moving. I've got time on my hands, maybe I should start doing something.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

In Earnest

Now with the existential crisis-type entry behind us, we can get back to a simple, and oh, so interesting descriptions of my Exciting Life.

Packing has moved in to the forefront of my activities. I decided to start with the hardest bit first: the kitchen. I'm not usually one to try and tackle the hardest thing first. I normally like to get into a groove, and work my way up to the harder bits. Another thing to feel good about, with respect to the move.

But packing up the kitchen does leave me wondering: what the hell am I going to eat? I guess I'll have to <twist my arm> eat out.

Boxes. I need more boxes. Not for big things, as I seem to be getting rid of a lot of the bigger things. If I haven't used it, nor see myself using it, it gets tossed, or given away. I do have a lot of books. A lot. Of. Books. Too many. And I can't part with them. Well, OK, that's not quite true. Some of them truly were crappy. No point in keeping those. But I still need to deal with them.

Aside from packing, I've been reading a lot of comics lately. In particular, I've really enjoyed the Hellboy comics. Damned good stuff. That Mike Mignola really knows how to put together a great comic. Great use of shadow, and, as action comics go, it has some of the best writing I've seen. Then again, I've never really read a lot of action comics.

One thing I've noticed about comics, though is that they leave very little room in the end for conclusion. That seems like my kind of speed for writing. I've always been terrible with conclusions. Now if only I could draw...

I have been trying to figure out what the hell to read on my trip. I like to be covered for reading material on a long trip but a month might be too long. I've been thinking about picking up some popular physics books. There are two (apparently) really good books about the forefront of the field, both by Brian Greene. The first, is The elegant Universe, which was made into a Nova mini-series. The second is a follow-up (?), The Fabric of the Cosmos. Elegant Universe takes on quantum physics, and the truly bizarre natures of reality, where Fabric discusses things on the macro scale. Both cover subjects I was heavily interested in as a young lad, growing up in the Midwest.

So coming back from a minor existential crisis seems to have left my writing all over the board.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Better Call the Calling Off Off

I find that it's really hard to start things right now. New ideas, new activities, new relationships, anything and everything seems hard to get started. Part of the difficulty is the fact that I'm already getting started with a big change. Having this time deadline is frustrating. I know that anything I start is only for a limited time.

A friend of mine is moving into a new place. In order to save some money between moves, moved out of her place a few months ago. For the first few months she put off trying new activities by reasoning "after I move in to my new home, I'll start X." This resulted in a bit of a stagnation. After shaking off this feeling of stagnation she decided that there was nothing preventing her from starting anything.

It not like she was leaving the country or whatnot.

That's the toughest thing for me, I think. I'm leaving the country. Sure, it's only for a month, but then another month or two after that.

After that...I don't know. Maybe things won't be the same. People will have moved on with their lives. Perhaps I won't fit in any more.[1]

Or maybe I won't come back.

I've this dream in the back of my mind to live and work abroad for a time. It's a bit of a romantic thing, I think. Spending an unspecified time in Paris, for example. Becoming just that familiar with a language, culture and place where it's like home.

I don't want mislead anyone, here. I really like Minneapolis. It's one of the best little cities in the country. But, it's a big world, out there and my feet are getting itchy.[2]

What does this all have to do with getting started with things? Well, I think the worry is two-fold. First the above mentioned insecurity that people will just move on with out me, or that starting some new activity will be useless (I'll forget it pretty damned quickly, I think). The second on is the whole (remote) possibility that I won't come back. If I don't start anything, perhaps there will be less incentive to come back. Maybe I want to be freed up to drift about, a leaf in the wind.

Or perhaps, simply, I just have enough on my plate. This traveling is serious business. I can't be taking on new things at this time. There's just no time, no mental and emotional space.

Yeah, sure, I can tell myself that. Or perhaps I can just try things, and see what happens.

[1] Holy crap, that's a lot of insecurity pouring out, right there. Let's rein that in there, cowboy.

[2] Believe me, there's is not a cream for that. The travel itch is only curable by one thing: more travel. In high doses. Once yearly. It's chronic, you know. Comes around when you least expect it, or need it. You'll be comfortable in your little life with your little routines and little entertainments and, then, bam, your feet start to itch bad.

To prevent this from happening to you, avoid all travel writing and photography. Particular virulent strains can be caught from National Geographic or study-abroad students. If you have been in contact with either of these in the last twenty-four hours, contact your travel agent immediately.

This has been a public service annoucement from the Travel Addicts Society of America (TASA).

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Crazy Woke Me Up

The Crazy woke me up, this morning at four AM. I woke up to a running catalog of everything I owned that still needed to be boxed up or specially handled. Some part of my brain (apparently the one that handles organization - we don't really talk that much, only when dealing with desktop icons, or filesystem layouts) was listing out everything and then addressing whether or not it needed climate controlled storage. Thorough, complete, methodical, crazy.

I have a ton of old disk drives of various sorts. I have a few too many old computers. How am I going to handle the cold storage of those things? I hadn't really thought about my old fencing gear. Haven't used it in years, but I can't really see myself getting rid of it. Same goes with the Lego Mindstorms set. Such a cool idea for a toy, but I never really used it. Maybe I should give it away to charity, or a friend of mine.

It took about an hour to quit cataloging. I don't even really have that much stuff, so I 'm sure there were some repeats. I think it was just my weekly freakout. Nothing to worry about. I have plenty of time, over a week really. I guess that's my brain, for you. An hour or two of really worry and then I get on with things.

Trapped, Again

I spent all my time yesterday within five blocks of my house. I walked to the coffee shop. I walked to the grocery store. I played video games (well, ok, game: Civ IV - time and soul sucking addiction[1]). My only "people time" yesterday was dinner and Lost with a friend of mine. Once again, saving me from Crazy.

Stupid car.

I thought Honda's were supposed to be reliable (warning: rant a comin'). Damn piece of junk, if you ask me. Every year, I have to put in at least two grand of work into the damn thing. I'd be better off buying two-grand car, once a year. Now that it's all fixed, I still have to find a place to park the damn thing for the month.

Ok, ok. That's enough bad-mouthing the car. I have it back. The breaks are so sensitive, I had to relearn the amount of pressure they need. They are nice. I've always thought "stop on a dime" was just an expression, but now...

[1] A little more on the subject of the game that is Civilization. Back when I was in college, the first Civilization had been out for a while, it's sequel coming pretty soon. A good friend of mine was a history major, so I loaned him my copy of the game. I stopped by his dorm room the next morning, and there he was, still playing, a little wild-eyed and obsessive.

He asked me to take it away from him. Please, oh, please, just take it away.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What's That Sucking Sound?

Call it Murphy's Law. Call it Luck. Call it Fate. Call it being at the Wrong End of the Probability Curve. Call it What You Will. It never fails that once you decide to quit your job, something major[1] breaks.

In my case it was my car's breaks.

Nothing is more unsettling then the feeling one has when a break line has sprung a leak. They work, sort of. Imagine that your stopping distance increases threefold, and your pedal doesn't feel effective until it hits the floor. Like I said, unsettling.

Granted I needed to replace my rear breaks: rusted rotors and no padding. They must have still had a little life left in them, as they saved my ass on sunday night from slamming into a parked car on 35W. After that, they decided to give up the ghost[2].

I was smart, though. I actually planned for this. I was having automotive troubles before I quit, and so there's money for this. You just never know what it's going to be. It always surprises you.

[1] major (mã'jər) adj. 1. expensive

[2] "Give up the ghost" - I've got to tell you, that is a great phrase to use when describing the death of machines.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Holiday Blues

I think it has to do with the fact that it's a holiday today, but this place is crowded. I mean packed, people practically hanging from the tin ceiling.

All I want on a Monday morning is a quiet cup of joe.

I'm surprised by all the people, really. It's MLK day, after all. Not really one of those holidays that I've ever had the day off. But I suppose it's all the people who get bank and postal holidays.

The nice thing about today is this: I think I've turned that corner. I'm not really thinking about work anymore. Slowly, my mind is freeing up resources in order to work on other things. I'm actually able to read technical stuff and not frame it with my previous projects.

This is a big step. It like getting over a bad habit or a failed relationship. It's that moment where you know that you're free to get on with things. Granted it took a little longer than I expected, but really two weeks isn't so bad. I've heard a theory about relationships, on this score. It takes about a month per year in the relationship to really get over it. Perhaps, with work it's the same, only in weeks. I had been at the company for two years, so two weeks make sense.

It terms of future work, I had something really interesting mentioned to me the other night. It would mean cutting travel short after Argentina, which I'm not sure I'm willing to do. If the job is compelling enough, though, I'll have to consider it.

Too early to tell...

What's This Tango Business, Anyway?

Brilliant Tango
Originally uploaded by pschwarz.
Here's a small sample of tango. I was out at the Loring Pasta Bar earlier today[1], and decided to see how pictures in a club would turn out.

Not too shaby...

[1] I've never been clear on the whole yesterday-today thing, when it comes to describing things the previous day, but before I've actually gone to sleep.

It's madness, I tell you

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Yo Hablo Español

I've been trying to finish up this biography of Alexander Hamilton. I've really been enjoying it, although it has been a really dense, slow read. There are an incredible amount of revolutionary-era historical facts, so many that I have had to stop and think about them each in turn, marveling at how much was missing from high school history.

Now that I've actually finished it (ok, honestly I have about ten pages to go) I can work on one of my original intellectual goals for this month: refresh my Spanish language skills.

They are downright dismal.

I remember bits and pieces. Fragments of the language float around in my memory: simple sentences about how little I understand Spanish, mostly bob to the surface. This is not surprising as I learned all of this when I was in high-school (and quit before I was a senior). That's a little over ten years ago, for those of you who have no idea how old I am.

Really, the way I see it, I just need to refresh my memory on how to conjugate verbs and a few phrases in order to get a hotel room or a meal. Anything else, I think I can get out of my phrase book. On top of that, I just need a bit of courage to say things, well anything, really, to people. The toughest thing is getting over that fear of saying something stupid in a foreign language.

Of course, given that my Spanish is dismal, I'm sure to say something really stupid. When I was in China, I was unable to pronounce anything, which really had me not trying to say anything after a while. The key was that I tried. Same deal with French, although my pronunciation was a little better (so I never really gave up with that one). With Spanish, I may have more of a barrier to speak in that I think I should know more. A few days there, and I'll probably be OK.

Now preventing myself from saying something stupid, that's another story altogether. I have enough trouble with that in English...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Flipped Time

I've discussed this with a few other friends of mine who are not working at the moment and I've found that there's a certain way that time is flipped about. Our busy hours, socially, are at night, our relaxed time is during the day.

I've been rather socially active, having something to do most evenings (tonight, not withstanding). During the day, however, there's been a remarkable amount of down time. I spend some time packing, planning, etc, but, in the end, it's mostly just quiet time.

Take, for example, the fact that I only did some moving yesterday. The evening was spent wall climbing, followed by taps and apps until 12:30. Longer than most of my days, really.

Of course, I've asked other friends of mine how they deal with the time. They simple say that they sleep through most of the day and then go out all night. This doesn't really work well for me, actually. I don't do so well sleeping with sunlight. Maybe I need exhaustion.

On another note, it also seems like the fuel that's been under this particular fire is starting to dwindle. I don't feel quite as free with words as I did at the start. Perhaps, it has to due with the fact that I'm at a point where things are set. Tickets: done. Storage space: done. Movers: done. All that's left is packing and waiting.

Perhaps, with those things out of the way I can spend more time thinking on other things. Like how many surgeries has Ertha Kitt had to get her face that tight. You know questions for the ages...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Future Plans

I've been asked a lot about where I'll be headed after Argentina. I haven't thought about it too much, really. But I would like to travel more, than just for a month, otherwise, this whole moving deal really won't amount to much.

I've a few ideas, both of which sit a little bit on the side of expensive. I'd like to do one of two things (or both - we'll see). One of which is to go to Scotland, the other is to trek across Northern Europe (Germany, mainly) and make my way over to Prague, Budapest, etc.

The first results from many descriptions of Scotland's beauty. I've heard tell tales of the amazing qualities of the Northern most parts, namely the Orkney Islands. Perhaps a scotch tour or two would be good, as well - I've always been curious what a barrel of scotch looks like after eleven or twelve years. I'd like to spend a little time hiking around in the highlands, although it would probably not involve overnight stays.

The second option is really from a desire to see more of Continental Europe. Germany is one of the countries I've often lamented not visited on my first whirlwind tour of the Continent. I've also heard wonderful things of the above mentioned cities as great examples of Central European cities, not overwhelmed by excessive tourism (although, Prague as had a surge of tourism in the past five years and is apparently not the great find it once was). If I'm really ambitious, its also tempting to dip into Russia, but I understand that getting a tourist visa is getting a bit more difficult.

So that's a few ideas for the moment. I think either of those should encompass a long lay over in Reykjaví­k, just to say that I've been and enjoyed (great music scene). Apparently there are some really good airfare deals if you take a long stay in Reykjaví­k on the way.

Current Plans Maturing...

I finally leased a storge space yesterday. It seems strange that I should be able to fit all of my possessions into a 5x15x9 space but, according to the mover guy, I can.

This has lead me into packing. That really starts to bring the feeling home that I'm shutting down this chapter of my life. There's a small pang as a result. Minute, really. I'm not terribly broken up by this whole experience. I need the adventure, actually. My life had become to predictable, to blasé.

It also really shows me how much crap acquired over the last three-plus years. I've added half again as many books, too much computer junk to name, furniture by the roomful.[1]

So now begins the joy of throwing things out. I really feel good after moving. There's a purgative effect that really gives one a sense of well being. Now, I have only the things I need.

That is, of course, never the case but, at least, it's closer.

[1] This leads me to wonder about the rate at which we acquire crap. Is there a simple economic formula to this? With consumerism at it's current unabashed exuberence, does the rate of acquisition follow the same rate as that of consumer spending?

Since most people are spend, rather than saving, does this mean that the average amount of crap is on the increase?

Based on the 2003 consumer spending statistics, people spend roughly 10% of their annual income on things that I consider crap-acquiring areas (home furnishings, entertainment, apparel). If a correlation is to be made, that means an annual increase of 10% in crap.

Now, given that I've been acquiring this crap for the last three years, that means over 25% increase in stuff.

In my case, however, I had to furnish 75% of my apartment in the last three years (I had a futon and a TV stand to begin with), so my acquistion level is more like 125% or more.

Wow, it's amazing the number of percentages one can come up with when a few statistics are used.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I have been pretty regular about this whole blogging thing-a-ma-jig, which has me pretty pleased with myself. I'm not one to pat myself on the back too much[1] (quite the opposite, really. Anyone who knows me would probably say I'm a little too self-deprecating - then again, that sounds almost like self-praise - wow, this is a hard little circle to escape), so I'm not really praising the content, merely the regularity. It's sort of same way that government employees are promoted: based on time of service, not skill.

Everyday also has had a little something of interest that could be said about this whole experience. That is until a was trapped here at home, waiting for the UPS guy to show up with my new camera. It's really hard for anything interesting to happen when you won't even let yourself out for a cup of joe.

I really find that I'm not terribly stimulated to write if I haven't seen the outside of my apartment. Point of fact, I have already been out and about today and, therefore, able to write. You'd think that the crazy of being inside would compel me to get it out on paper (or on blog, as the case may be), but it does quite the opposite. I feel this need to be constantly entertained, and engaged mentally, but in a way that is not purely creative in my mind.

I think this is one of those mental blocks, however. I think as I distance myself from work more, I'll be able to put out more and more drival on the page as I see fit. Or maybe it's just the way my mind happens to work. Every writer seems to have a different need in order to get themselves into a creative spirit. Some write immediately in the morning, to spill things out as the came in the nighttime. Others need to mull them over for the day, letting the ideas ferment with daylight and oxygen.

Or, perhaps like myself, they need to be fueled by much, too much, caffeine. Makes the fingers limber.

[1] But, apparently, I am one to overuse the phrase "I'm not one to X, but..."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

What Day Is It?

I've found something that I'm actually uncomfortable with. I'm already starting to have trouble remembering what day it is. I'm bothered by this when I'm at home, simply because everyone else I know is still well aware of the days of the week.

I don't have an issue with this when I'm on the road. It's par for the course really. You only need to remember that I have to a plane to catch two days from now, or on such-and-such a date, but the day of the week is really irrelevant.

Days of the week are only really important for two reasons. First, for work. Knowing when it's Friday, knowing when it's Monday, knowing when it's Sunday night and one has a Monday morning looming, rearing it's ugly head, like the hangover Saturday had made it a miserable Sunday to begin with.

Work helps to keep those days organized. More often than not, the week is planned. This project needs to be finished by that deadline. Some meeting with whatshisname is on Thursday (make sure not to miss it, and find who he is - that's embarrassing). To add to this organization, one's weekends are planned with happy hours, snowboarding trips, and other things crammed into that small space of time that everyone is granted as a reprieve.

Having all this organization makes the time go by at a rather accelerated pace. There's no time to slow down since there's always seems to be not enough time. It's nice to slow down, and take the time. It's amazing how much time there is when one is not working. That's going to be a huge slap of reality, when I do go back to work. I'm sure I'll be ready for it by then.

I said there are two reasons for knowing the days of the week. The other is only for about seventy-five to ninety percent of the population. One needs to know when to go to church, temple, or whatever one goes to for their spiritual needs. This hasn't been a concern of mine for years. Only that I know now to avoid any conversation about what I do with my Sunday mornings.[1]

Sunday does, however, have a lot of nice reasons to center a week around. There's time spent with family, time spent relaxing, time spent watching football (either kind really). It seems to be the one day of the week where no one is particularly obsessed with time.

Perhaps that's all I really need to do is to let go of being obsessed with time. It's just as hard to give up as being addicted to work. Time is an arbitrary business.

...and I've got it in spades...

[1] I realize, of course, that I'm violating the whole idea of not talking about my lack of religion. I'm interested in religion from a Sociological perspective, but I'm not interested in it from a practicing perspective. I've just stopped thinking of it that way.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Tread Softly

I've noticed one serious problem with this whole vagabond thing. How do I describe my time now? What do I tell people I do?

I was out last night dancing. Since social dancing involves meeting a large number of new people, you often have to have that brief little interview style introduction: where are you from, what do you do (or if you are a student, what do you study), followed by a dip or a turn and a "thank you for the dance".

What I was finding was that responding with the phrase "I do nothing, right now" got some really odd looks. I tried to change that a bit by using the phrase "I'm on sabbatical" or "I'm on holiday," but, still, this had some bizarre responses. The end of dance "thanks" were really awkward, usually followed with an "err...good luck with that...whole...thing."

More so with people I know, when I describe the fact that I just upped and quit my job, do I get strange responses. They range from really congratulatory ("That's cool. I'd love to do that.") to jealous ("You bastard. I'd love to do that.").

The first one is easy to deal with; just nod, smile and say something resembling a thank you in an oddly muffled and embarrassed way. The second, on the other hand is a bit more sensitive. Depending on the person I either smile impishly, perhaps raise an eyebrow (you know, generally my usual attempts at looking charming), or I try to avoid the subject all together.

Which is why I think I need to come up with a better description of this whole thing all together. I have a few ideas but, of course, suggestions would be welcome:
  • South American Economic Stimulation Trip
  • Exploring New Locations for Offshore Development
  • Training with Argentine Monks in the Ancient Art of Tango-fu
Ok, so the last one might not be that plausible, but I might just have to start using it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Confessions of a Workaholic

The first step is always admitting you have a problem. So here goes:

I'm addicted to my job.

There, I've said it. It's out. I feel a little better.

I've just checked my work email. I've done it once a day since the start of the week. That's definitely a sign of addiction. I shouldn't be concerned with things anymore. Really, I shouldn't check it. I should try to ignore the impulse to check into how that GPS code ended up, or whether or not the corporate strategy is on track.

Of course, if you spend three years of your life working at a place, it's really hard to just give it up. Small companies are inherently addictive. Most people I know either try them briefly and go back to large stable companies, or, like me, thrive in the small company environment of instability and overwork. My dad is one of the latter. The apple certainly hasn't fallen far.

One of the things I'm keeping in the back of my mind is to start my own startup when I return from, err, sabbatical[1]. What that requires is coming up with some really good ideas, and then finding some money in order to actually do them. The problem is that I'm still attached to the old ideas of my last job. The addiction is preventing me from doing my own thinking on the subject.

I know that it takes about a week to get over work[2]. But I wonder if it takes longer than that when you know that you won't being going back to work after two weeks. When you are one a vacation of normal length (about two weeks, in my opinion) you can forget about the work issues, because you know that they'll be there when you get back. But what about when you're not going back? How do you just let go?

Time, I guess. Time heals all, they say. I'm sure that's true with work addiction, as well.

Now, if only I could find a twelve-step program...

[1] I love the term sabbatical. There have been a lot of articles on the subject as more and more highly skilled, highly educated, or highly placed employees are getting burnt out with there current work.

[2] See this lengthy piece of drival for my thoughts on this whole subject.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Who Are All These People?

I had this strange notion that there would be this empty world out here away from work. I imagined that I would be this lone patron of the gym and the coffee shop. There would be more silence, less bustle, more clear air.

It turns out it's not the case. There are a crap-load of people on the outside.

Where do all these people come from? Are they taking breaks from the jobs? Are they all retired? Did they all quit their jobs in order to travel?

The gym can be pretty easily explained. I was there pretty close to the lunch hour. A lot of people take breaks to work out midday. Heck, even I used to do that when it used to be really convenient.

But the coffee house? Sure there are a lot of older people here for there afternoon visits, cups of coffee, time out of their homes. But what about all the young people? There are quite a few people who look to be roughly my age. I'm going to guess that they're students. Or, maybe they could be people who get to work from home. If that's the case, I need to find out what they do. It's seems like a good gig to work from home (or a coffee house, in this case).

Maybe they're all aspiring writers who have quit their day jobs for no particular reason. I wonder what that would be like...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

First Day

First day. So far, so good. It's a Tuesday, and I'm sitting here in the early afternoon drinking coffee. Brilliant.

I have realized that I am going to need to manage my time in a reasonable fashion. I've to make sure that I've goals for the day, week, month etc. Otherwise, madness will ensue.

A few things for the week:
  • Find a storage facility for my shit
  • Find find some movers to move my shit.
As for today, I'm going to buy a camera. I really wanted to get one of those really small ones for putting in my pocket and giving me the ability to discretely take pictures in bars and whatnot (so I can take pictures of all the tangonistas...what?). I would like to become a better photographer, so I'd like to get the camera sooner than later. It'll give me more time to play around with it here, maybe practice a bit with the local tangonistas, add some shots of Minneapolis.

Mostly, I've taken pictures while I travel and I always thought that to do really interesting photography one had to have a really fancy camera (SLR, ton of lenses, etc). I recently watched Born Into Brothels, which is a very good documentary about these children from brothels (how's that for broken homes) who are being taught photography by this American woman. They were given very simple 35mm point-and-shot cameras and take some really fantastic pictures.

I feel inspired to take more pictures. Thanks, red light kids.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Mild Case of the Freakouts

I did actually freak out. Just a little bit. I stopped by a friends house briefly, just to say happy new year, etc. on Saturday. As with most people I've run into, he asked me how I feel about it. I explained (as I have to everyone else) about how it hadn't it yet, probably not until Monday.

And then it hit me.

A small bit, a bubble really, of panic slid out from that part of my brain that usually is brimming with anxiety. My heart began to race, my breathing quickened. I really suddenly needed a drink.

Now, I'm not normally one to need a drink to calm my nerves but, damn, it helped. Just one was all that was needed. That is really the remarkable thing about all this. Maybe it's a sign of maturity. I had a momentary lapse in my usually calm demeanor, and it was reset by a glass of random red. After that, no more worries.

It seems like it should be one of those things that I should continue to worry about. I never let myself worry about travel. I tend to forget about the whole trip until I get on the plan. I really think it's a defense mechanism. Sort of like the way that we forget pain so as not to paralyze us from doing anything else in life. If I had to think about it I would never get on that plane.

Now the plane ride, there's a place for some anxiety overflow...