Saturday, December 31, 2005

Fortune Cookie

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

....but this certainly helps.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Over the weekend in a rented cabin in Lake Tahoe. It would have been the first time the child units Rei and Anna would have been exposed to snow, so we were looking forward to this for a long time. Alas, the weather did not cooperate, and we got rain. Tons of it.

So...rather than do the sledding/skiing/snowboarding thing, we spent most of the time there holed up indoors and drinking hot chocolate. And watching Dumbo and Nemo over. And over. And over again. I gotta admit that by the end of the second day, I started to emphasize with Jack Torrance and felt the itch to grab an axe and come bursting through the bathroom door.

Just then, a diversion! I was approaching the door, garbage bag in hand. It was one of those flimsy black plastic kinds with no handles, so you had to be careful lest one side tears and you dump all 46 used hot chocolate paper cups and assorted halfheartedly consumed snacks all over the floor. At any rate, right as I turned the knob, I froze. Maybe 10ft (for those outside the US, that's equal to 3m, 1.7 Swiss faden, or 0.9 pants wetting) from where I stood slouched an adult grizzly bear. He (or she. In my panic I forgot to ask) was a big bugger, easily the size of a kitchen fridge. He heard the twist of the knob and slowly turned to face me. We made eye contact. For what seemed like an eternity, we locked gazes; I was forced to experience the majesty of nature and how small my existence is when faced with evidence of something so primal. In turn, the bear probably had equally compelling and profound thoughts...likely summed up as Eat/No Eat.

Luckily, Grizzly chose the latter option, turned around and got backed to its task of rummaging through the trash dumpster. I quietly set aside my rubbish bag for later, quietly closed the door, and watched Dumbo again.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How wars start

I read an article this morn about how the the variances in local dialects makes business transactions difficult even within the same country. This made me recall a conversation I had, back when I worked in Tokyo eight years ago. {Flashback sequence, trigger wavy visuals and harp-strumming music}

"So how are you adjusting to your first month in Tokyo?"

"okay I guess. There's a ton more people than I'm used to, my entire flat is literally the size of my old bedroom in NY, and we work 14 hours a day. Yeah I'm a little stressed."

"Sorry to hear that. Have you made any friends?"

"Oh yeah, I've been going to a Health Club after work, and met some nice people there."

"...I see."

"Different kinds of folks than the ones back in the US, but at least I know we're all there for the same reason. Makes for easier conversation anyway."

"Maybe you should find another hobby?"

"How come? Nothing wrong with getting a good sweat going! It's a great stress-reliever and really energizes me. I get sore sometimes, but still, I go almost every other day!"

"I...I..have to go. I need to speak to your parents."

"okay, tell mom and dad I said hello."

I was a little puzzled at the reaction, but gave it no further thought. Days later, I found out at work that languages have a funny way of growing stale when one is not plugged in, so to speak. In my geographic isolation in the suburbia of Rockland county, New York, I had not realized that the word "Health Club" came to mean "Brothel" in Japanese slang.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Dallas Ft. Worth; 10:12pm

So my flight is delayed again. No big deal, par for the course. They let us off the plane, with an explanation that "nothing to be concerned about. One engine is...uh, loose." That's probably a technical term designed not to confuse us laymen with fancy words like ,"forgot the bolts that hold the right wing to the fuselage." I did feel a little uncomfortable that all the crew vacated and were standing 100ft from the plane, but that's just fatigue making me jumpy of course.

At any rate, I'm thankful for a chance to stretch my legs. Entertainment was presented by a fellow passenger, red-faced and belligerent, arguing with the gate attendant.

"Everytime, I fly, you guys do this! What is the problem here? Why is this happening?!!! I demand an explanation!!!" Of course, all of us realize that the delay is the sole responsibility of this one gate attendant, and that she holds the power to make things better - she may even be able to provide a better hairpiece to this argumentative gentleman. To her credit, the attendant remains calm and let's Soon-to-be-dead-with-a-stroke-Angry-Man sputter away into incoherence. We board soon after and we go on our merry way.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Little Voices in My Head

Today was one of those days. I didn't want to talk to anybody; I wanted to be heads-down, glued to a monitor, turn off the fluorescence, and tap tap tap away at my keyboard in quiet passive aggressiveness. Heck, if I had made the concession to wear a Linux T-Shirt, my mood would have allowed me to blend in with the more technical coding-types in the building. I dunno what it was, but I was just in a snippy state of mind; I'd respond to friendly good mornings with a WHAT????

This is most unhealthy. And not the best way to keep my printouts and photocopies from being dumped in the recycle bin.

That's when I stumbled upon Innovation of the Highest Sort. The lowly bluetooth headset can be used as the Tech Worker's Mosquito repellent. As long as the blinky blue LED flashed in my ear, I found that most people would start to talk to me, but quickly pull back: "Hey did you watch the game last ni...whoa sorry, you're on the line." Even better, as long as I muttered something under my breath or nodded now and then, I didn't even have to be engaged in a phone call! I felt a little touch of insanity creeping up on me as I mumbled to myself and occasionally rocked back and forth in my chair, but the blessed silence was well worth it!!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

And knowing is half the battle

There he was! One of the folks who inspired one of my earlier posts. The paragon of multi-tasking, the one-man booster of the nation's productivity numbers! Just like when I saw him six months ago, this undoubtedly high-powered exec had his bluetooth headset on and was dispensing his wisdom while running a 8 min mile on the treadmill. Not to eavesdrop or anything, but I just wanted to bask in his greatness, so I started to run on the machine next to his. I hoped to catch some snippets or hints on how I might achieve success as well. I ran slowly, at a leisurely 9min pace, so that the sound of my own breathing won't mask the utterences from my guru neighbor.

huuuuh huhhhhh hhh ahhh ahh tomor huh roow or ahhuh Fr-Friduhha huh ayy...

A fortune-cookie piece of sage advice if I ever heard one. Perhaps I will have it embrolidered or framed.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Gassius Clay

Going up the elevator in the Fairmont hotel. I had parked my car down the street (waaaaay down the street, as it turns out, as I mistook the Hotel where the meeting was supposed to be and parked a few blocks away), so I rode the elevator from the ground floor. Six or seven Silicon Valley tech types board. They all have khakis on, a cellphone clipped to their belts; a few have bluetooth earpieces on with those blinky blue LEDs. Like a flight of lemmings, we all instinctively face the same direction, and stare silently at the Floor Display number. And then it happens. Barely noticeable at first, but then, like bad cologne, the odor wafts throughout the cramped quarters of the cabin. For the record, it wasn't me. We all notice, but we all maintain a poker face and continue our vigil of the display. Some squint slightly as a sign of discomfort.

After an interminable amount of time, the car arrives at the Lobby floor. All but I pour out into the fresh air. The look of relief on their faces are unmistakable. I need to get to the 1st floor, so I stay on. But right as the door is about to slide shut, a woman squeezes in. She too catches a wiff of the lingering odour. I see her flash a look of disgust at me. I want to shout, Hey Lady it Ain't Me! There were six other guys in here! It's one of them!! But that would only make me look more guilty of the crime. I am framed. I am mortified. The elevator arrives on the 1st floor and I scurry out, head hung in shame.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Happy Monday

An inspirational bit on a Hallmark card I received from the local sporting goods store.

"When your feet are in the right place,
your mind will follow."

During my run this morning, I stepped in a nice steaming gift from a local canine.

The cosmic implications are mind-boggling.

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