Sunday, December 31, 2006


I'm a time addict.

I think I always have been. I calculated at an early age in elementary school how old I would be when the year 2000 occured. (27) for those counting. Now at age 34, time still has very real meaning. I could go into all of the cliches about how time is moving faster as I'm growing older (which it is) but that wouldn't be helpful in explaining how very real time is for me.

I visualize time. I keep track of where I am in a year by visualizing months on a horizontal loop sort of like a Mobius Strip. I'm standing on January looking across the loop to June and July. Somehow January always feels like "south" to me (probably having to do with the Sun).

This concept also applies to weeks (Sunday is opposite Wednesday/Thursday) and to the day, although daily time is visualized in a vertical loop that spins...sort of like the big wheel on "The Price is Right."

This is how I go about keeping my mind organized. I use calendars and my Palm Zire 72 to keep events in order, but when I'm organizing in my head this is how I see time.

With further reflection, I recognize in myself how obsessed with time I am. I was really happy working for Delta Airlines in the early 1990s because everything had a timetable. Planes left, and they came in, many times late, but at the end of the day...they all left. Time was completed. I had picked up habits of examining my watch every 15 minutes to check what time it was. It wasn't until years later when my friend Christopher finally told me to quit checking my watch that I even noticed the habit.

Today I don't even wear a watch. Although this is because my previous watch would only hold a battery charge a couple of months before it ran down.

My favorite escapism into fiction is time travel. Not only Doctor Who, but also the Issac Asimov tale of the Foundation Trilogy takes place over thousands of years.

I suppose with the new year it always affects me to be more responsive to time.

I think I need to buy a new watch.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas and All That

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. It has been a very busy week. Not especially difficult, but busy.

Work is going as well as can be expected. I'm more at peace with the decision making that is going on. It is nice that our engineering department is great to work with and really wants to be a team, rather than looking at increasing power or worth.

Christmas has come and gone and 2007 is right around the corner. Crazily enough, I didn't proof-read our Christmas Cards as thoroughly as I thought I had and labeled them as "Merry Christmas 2007". I've always been a forward future thinker.

Last Friday we spent some time with our friends Lori and Justin and Gary and Kathy and my parents and sister. We usually get together for chili and have a nice quiet dinner. Alexander played on the floor with Gary for almost an hour and a half making all of their plush animals sing Christmas songs. Lori, along with her business partner Becky, own Hot Chocolates.

Saturday saw us work on cleaning the house, finishing wrapping presents and then going over to Chris and Erika Uggen's house. Our friends Michael and Krista have recently returned to Texas from several years living in Virginia and West Virginia and we got to meet their 10mo old son, Charlie. Alexander played well with Jacob and Shelby Uggen and we all had a great time renewing our friendships. Christopher and I have been friends since we were small babies living across the street from each other on Marie Terrace in Arlington. We've been friends with Michael almost that long as well.

Sunday we had church early and then Alexander was a "boy angel" during the evening service's Christmas Pageant. They sang carols and Alex even was able to wear wings and a halo. Nona and Grandaddy and his Aunt La-La came to watch the pageant.

Christmas Day saw a happy Alexander with his new kitchen playset, some board games, a set of Star Wars Galactic Heroes, a new "big-boy" chair for the dining table, and an igloo tent for playing upstairs. We had a lovely lunch with my parents and then went to go see Todd and Jenny Carlson and her parents for the evening.

Tuesday night we had our annual pot-luck with my high school friends, and last night (Wednesday) I went to The Flying Saucer in downtown Fort Worth with several of those friends. We started the night off well, when the waitress announced as she came up to our table (with 8 guys there):

"Wow. You guys are huge!" - meaning we were a large group. We definitely took it to mean that we were great men of enormous talent, worth, intellegence, and most likely... endowment.

I had St. Arnold's Winter Stout and really enjoyed the evening.

Tonight (Thursday) is the Texas Aggie game at the Holiday Bowl. Gig 'Em Aggies.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Making Brownie Trifle

You know, sometimes even simple things can be ok. I am going to get through this hiccup at work. Tonight, Alexander was a terrific boy. We played videogames. He took a bath without complaint and went to bed really easy. He's a terrific kid. This is a photo of him helping Meredith make brownie trifle for our friends coming over the other night. He got to stir the chocolate pudding and also lick the spatula.

Simple Pleasures. I need to have a good Christmas to remind me of that.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Lets all say this together...this week was supposed to be the "happy week." I was working on contributing to my happiness level this week by working on personal relationships and attempting to feel better about myself and my situation.

So that was working for a short time. Up until Friday afternoon. I should have known something was up when my boss was insistent to go to lunch with me. .

I should have known that something was up when the engineers were whispering on the other side of the room.

So. The Big Boss has decided to remove 60% of the job I'm working (reviewing plat submittals) and place them into the oversight of the Engineering Department. Must be implemented by the first of the year. Without any type of discussion about how efficient (or inefficient) the current process is. Just change it.

My boss feels like it is an opportunity for us to focus more on the long range planning aspects of the city we work for and not having to deal with the day-to-day stuff since 90% of the development review is engineering based. AND we have to also bring back the developer to the DAC meetings even though we have increased the efficiency of getting comments out to the developer from 4+ weeks from application to less than 2 weeks. Guaranteed.

I can handle criticism. Hell I was that guy that after a particularly bad rehearsal during a stage production that the director told me to make sure when I went home that night to take the razor blade down the wrist along the forearm and not across, because it was faster that way. I can handle that. Oh...and that statement last post about "able to handle a crisis" yeah, that still works, but only when I can clearly define what the problem is. Flat tire? - done. Bleeding profusely from a head wound? - Been there, done that. Amorphous issue with development review and pronouncements of micro-management without explanation? Not handling quite so well.

What I completely can't stand - and this stems from previous posts, so get ready - is the anticipation of problems. If you have an issue with me. Tell me. Then I can get over it and either apologize or get out of the way, because pussy-footing around me just makes me resentful and angry.

I used to lie as a small child. Mostly to make people like me. Mostly to gain some sort of sympathy with me, because I had a hard time being a worrier.

Lying got me into trouble. Lying as a small kid made the situation worse and never did achieve the results I suppose I craved at the time.

So I quit. I made the decision to stop lying to people one day and I did it. I can honestly (ha) say that I don't lie and I haven't lied (except for telling the 3 year old about Santa Claus) since I was a kid. So when people aren't completely honest with me. I feel let down and resentful. That's politics. That's life. I just hope that it works out like my boss says it should, otherwise, I'm going to have to get the resume back together again. What a pain.

Its 11:26pm on a Saturday night and all I feel is angry and tired.

I once wrote something during college that I've kept in a drawer somewhere since. I titled it: "All I want out of life is a unique thought" I wrote about how every thought that people have has most likely been thought before by someone else. The law of probabilities has to take it into account. The best inventions are those built upon the ideas of others. But I want an "A-Ha" moment. A jumping out of the bath moment. A hanging a picture over the toilet and slipping and cracking your head on the seat moment. (If you caught that reference you're watching WAY too many movies) Something all to my own. That isn't asking too much.

"There are those who believe that if anyone ever figures out what the universe is for, and why we are here, that in that instant, the universe will collapse in on itself and be replaced by something even more inexplicable. There are still others who believe that this has already happened." - Douglas Adams.

At least the bookcases will be here tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Path to Being Happy - My Dad & Star Wars Legos

I've had great evenings the past two days. Tuesday night, Meredith and Alexander went to La Leche League meeting in Denton and I was left to fend for myself. I'm still feeling "off" from my illness a week ago, so I wanted to go get some nice chicken salad and pita bread for dinner. I went to the grocery store near my parent's house and not only was their chicken salad sitting there with a solid film on it but they didn't have a pita in the place.

Feeling sorry for myself and mad at the store, and generally bummed out about work, life and everything else, I went to my parent's house where my Dad was watching TV. My Mom was out for the evening, she keeps herself constantly busy, and I just sat and talked with Dad for a couple of hours. But what made the evening great was a couple of things:

1. We worked out how to hook up his $5 set of TV rabbit ears to his 42" Samsung DLP HDTV and get local HD channels at a touch of his remote. He has had a sour relationship with Charter Cable the past several months. They couldn't get his cablecard to work correctly. Both he and I were tickled that we got his TV to work on both the broadcast air channels and the cable channels he does have.

2. We talked about his hobby of doing small metalwork sculptures. Frogs, lizards, flowers and butterflies are his favorites. I've been telling people for years that it takes an artist to work with metal like he does...especially to take a beaten vehicle and put it back together correctly and have all of the original lines of the car look exactly like they were first constructed. He is an artist, and his current work only shows it to everyone.

These two things Tuesday night did a world of good for me to feel better about myself. I've been questioning lately why I keep finding the negative aspects of my life so self-fulfilling. I'm tired of being the worry guy. I've worked hard the past 16 years to get through college and professional life to complete projects ontime and at my best effort. I have a nice life because of it...but I'm not enjoying it as I could be. I'm constantly in worry that it will come crashing down.

But it won't. And if something bad does happen, I'll get through the crisis like I always do. I'm great when things happen. I'm focused, organized and methodical. I've rushed to car accidents without a thought in Petaluma CA. I don't freak out at a crisis. Its the anticipation of a crisis or problem that kills me. Its a form of stage fright - what IF I screw up? I've been out on a stage and blown a line. I've experienced it. I didn't die and now, 10 years later, who knows or cares?

I've got to have a better life. It's the only way I'll get to feel better.

So after hanging out with Dad for a while, I went to Market Street in Colleyville. Bought a lovely chicken and artichoke salad, a green pea salad, and freshly baked pitas, then went home and watched a great show on TV. Meredith and Alexander came home and we had a nice evening.

Then, last night Meredith made a lovely dinner, Alexander ate it without complaint and as a special bonus, he and I went upstairs to the game room and played with Daddy's Star Wars Legos and built an AT-ST. If he continues to be good, we'll get to build other ships as well.

It was fun. It allowed Meredith the time to finish writing her final for her class she's teaching and get prepped for running her Weight Watchers meeting. The best thing about that I feel good.

I need more days like this.

And I'm going to get them.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas went well. Check out the flickr site for the photo. My mother thought I look very authentic. Alexander didn't recognize me even sitting on my I measure that as a success.

The most funny thing of the evening was the Choirmaster coming into the Sacristy (backstage area of the Church) looking to turn off the lights after her evening organ practice and was startled to see me in full St. Nicolas regalia. Beard and extremely tall carboard mitre and everything.

She did say that she wasn't sure if she was having saintly visions or not.

Friday night we went to the annual Midwest Section Awards Banquet at the Legends of the Museum at the Ballpark in Arlington (those who are sell-outs can call it Ameriquest Field). It was a nice evening. I've enjoyed the past several (especially at the Fort Worth Zoo two years ago).

I also met with my second job boss on Thursday and have found out that the comprehensive plan project we've been working on is due in mid-January. We'll get it done. I just wish it wasn't over the holidays.

I've been enjoying doing consulting work. Not only for the financial aspects, which are considerable, but also for the opportunity to be "on the other side" of things. I've only worksed professionally as a public official. Now I also have the opportunity to represent clients and to get some experience in meeting expectations of those clients while still having the relative safety of my position with the city. As long as my work in Burleson is not interfered with, I do not take any work that would compromise my postion with the city and as long as my boss in Burleson knows and understands my other committments, everything is hunky-dory. I'm too much of a worry person to attempt to push things to the edge.

Tonight I've worked on the plan. Cleaned the house yesterday. Don't have any other responsibilities. I'm sitting in front of the fire and watching the Cowboys game. The first time I've had the chance to watch a full game all season either pro or collegiate.

I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Christmas Decorating

Alexander has decided that Christmas Decorating is definitely one of his new favorite things to do. We had a time trying to convince him that not all of the ornaments should be placed at a height no greater than 32" from the floor. The artifical tree we bought looks nice. Its perky.

I think we're almost complete with the Christmas Shopping. Its been an expensive year. As I previously posted, we had lots of other expenses that we didn't know we're coming (along with the house) and just this week spent $500 to have the driveway gate and garage door repaired.

We've been watching the Bass-Rankin Christmas specials on ABC and ABC Family channels this week. Its been fun watching them with Alex since its the first time for him to have seen any of them.

We watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Year Without Santa Claus (with Snow and Heat Misers!) and tonight the Santa Claus is coming to town show with Bing Crosby.

I did take a photo from inside the house. I still need to get a hang of taking night photos without shaking the camera. I used my tripod to take a photo of the Christmas Lights on the outside of the house, but I still got the "camera shakes" to the photo.

Tomorrow I'm going to be playing my second year as "St. Nicholas" at our church in Denton. They have this event every year for the small kids. A couple of years ago they had another member of the church play the role and he turned out to be a little surly. So last year they asked me if I could do it. It turned out that I was pretty good at it. The kids at least enjoyed it. I knew many of their names, a lot about the toys they were asking for and whether they got along with their siblings (at least at church) or not. Alexander is going to participate as well this year. I'm not sure if he will recognize me or not from under the fake beard they have me wear, but he's pretty sharp. I bet he picks up on it quick. Meredith at least will be there to way-lay any attempts to remove the beard by my son.

I'll try and have some photos of the event up tomorrow night.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

First Weekend of December

So the weekend didn't start out too hot. This week I started trying to lose some weight again by getting up at 5:30am wolking a mile to two miles and then coming inside to make a fruit smoothie and then taking a shower. I would be on the road to work with a nice smoothie about 7:00am.

Friday I went out in the cold and walked, came home, and made an apple smoothie with a dab of soy milk that smelled slightly off.

Later that afternoon, I had the worst stomach pain I have experienced. I was relating to my coworkers that if felt like being kicked in the stomach...which I had experience as a child when walking around the wrong end of a cow at my Grandfather's ranch.

I missed my boss' birthday party and drove immediately home where I was promptly sick for the next six hours.

About 10:30pm Meredith called our nurse hotline with our insurance to talk about the possibility that I was having appendicitis. Luckily, the pain was beginning to subside enough somewhat for me to sleep. But most of Saturday and today, I've been really sore.

Yesterday evening I did feel better enough to take the gang and go buy a new artifical Christmas tree (pre-lit). It looks really nice by our fireplace. We also went to the Colleyville Chamber Christmas celebration. They held the event behind one of the major shopping centers instead of the town center...which I though was a little odd. We attempted to get Alexander to take his photo with the Santa Claus there, but after thinking it was a good idea, became much more sullen as soon as he was sitting there. So we got a photo of a sullen Alex with a smiling Santa. I think Meredith is going to attempt another run somewhere else with a bigger excitement level.

At the end of the event they had fireworks consisting of mostly ground shots. Alexander was scared by them, especially some which tended to scream as the burned out. He did tell us in the car that he liked "the red ones."

Today we went to church and dropped Alexander with the Church's youth group for the afternoon so we could do some Christmas Shopping. There was one particular DVD that I've been looking for as a gift for someone and every store I went to was out. So I'll go check tomorrow.

Tomorrow the guy is coming to fix our garage door opener and our gate which was damaged over the weekend...and hopefully we'll finally get the last of the furniture we ordered in September, so I can get all of the boxes out of the dining room.

Congrats to UCLA for beating the dreaded USC and really messing up the BCS poll standings. A&M are going to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on the 28th. Meredith and I were going to have people over to watch the game. Unfortunately its an afternoon game (3pm) on a Thursday so we won't be able to do much. So we'll root for Rice and South Carolina as well.