Category Archives: Nuts and bolts

two years

Sort of continuing my last post . . .

Originally, I was going to write about my last week and how stressful it has been making preparations for my wedding with Sepi. This is not a political blog.

I may develop that further but for now I want to acknowledge the second anniversary of my public writing here.

Two years and two weeks ago I put up my first post on this blog. This post is number 277. If I’ve done my arithmetic right, that’s a post nearly every three days on average. That’s remarkable especially since the last three months have been much less often than that.

Thank you to my loyal readers and commenters. You are few but very meaningful. I’m going to try to write another post tonight to bring my average up. (Just kidding.)

timeliness

I’ve often wondered what would be the best frequency for posting here. It’s not a news site so daily is a bit much, although I toyed with the idea for a while. In my head, anyway. In fact, long time readers know that I rarely post two days in a row and I don’t think I’ve ever posted three days in a row.

Droughts are more common. I’ve often gone a week without making a post but most months have had at least a half dozen. I’m not going to go back and generate statistics. I’m making a point about the last two months. Well, since March 1st, about 7 weeks. Since then, I’ve only written five posts.

The March 1st post hints at the upheaval in my life that occurred that week. Since then, I have been re-evaluating everything and writing pithy commentary on my life just hasn’t been in the cards. Next week, I’ll be going up to Washington to visit Jeremy and his family. I’ll also be seeing Peter and Nanci in Spokane as well as my cousins Dan and Nettie. I don’t have any high expectations that I’ll be posting from up there but I have hopes of breaking the log jam and being able to post more often when I get back

busy

I’ve been really busy lately. That’s partly why there haven’t been very many posts, but only partly. The negative reaction of the person I thought was my friend to a post I made has rocked me. Most of what she said in comments on this blog I did not allow to be published because they were raw personal attacks that did not leave room for discussion. Comments must be civil.

I thought about it, though. I take responsibility for my actions and don’t want to hide behind administrator privileges just to make me feel better. The post in question was only seen by three people that I know about (who reacted to it) before I removed it. Her reaction has been much stronger, I believe, because she has seen I have a new woman in my life.

I would like to talk about her but I am cautious after my experience writing about Rose. I will say her name is Sepi. I met her last fall and we’ve been spending a lot of time together for a couple of months now. My earlier post about charged words was inspired by our conversations. Are we ‘dating’? Are we ‘seeing’ each other? Do we ‘love’ each other or are we ‘in love’? Is she ‘mine’ or me ‘hers’? Words can be confusing, or misleading. Our conversations have been lengthy and are ongoing, I believe that is the best part of our relationship. Partly because of the upset around the blog post no subject is off limits. Early signs are encouraging that we have established a strong basis for a good relationship.

One of the most encouraging signs is being busy. Sepi has gotten me out doing new things, meeting new people. For years, my concept of busy was working a lot. Now I am able to do more things socially and it has been a revelation.

I am returning the favor the best I can. I took her to my jazz band concert and today she will be meeting Mom and Dad and other family members at Teresa’s birthday party. There is more to come on both sides.

Here’s a picture of me in my St. Patrick’s Day tie ready to head out for the jazz band concert:

Rose revised

I wrote a post on Monday about Rose. I thought it celebrated her and my relationship with her. Rose felt otherwise. In fact, Rose was furious with me. Although she was very angry, she told me not to take it off the blog. So I left it. I thought she might leave a comment but she has not. After hearing from other family members that the post was not what I thought it was, I have now removed it.

So everything I thought I knew on Monday is in question. The solid relationship I thought I had with Rose is in tatters. My whole concept of this blog is in disarray. What can I write about? My thoughts?I think about other people. Other people are part of my life and thus my thoughts.

I wrote a post last week based on Zach’s journals. I quoted extensively from his writing. Zach almost certainly never intended his journals to be distributed. Am I trespassing on his rights?

I had a good talk with Sarah today about some of this. She told me she keeps a journal but does not expect anyone else to ever read it. She has asked me before to not be included in this blog. I’ve told her I don’t think that is possible. She is an even bigger part of my life than Rose. How can I not write about her? I certainly would not betray any confidences. I try to be discreet, with Sarah especially but also everyone else I’ve written about. Maybe I should have been more discreet writing about Rose. Everything I thought I knew is in question.

Why am I writing this blog? For me? For Zach? For Rosalie or Noah? For their children or grandchildren? For someone I might meet someday? I told Sarah that I have had great pleasure reading letters and journals of our ancestors and I thought my descendants might enjoy doing the same. Yes, I want to be remembered. I think the only way for humans to continue to survive is to share their experiences with other humans. It’s kind of cool to write and have the potential for a large audience but the same potential can be frightening. There are literally no restrictions on who might read these words. And, although I put a copyright notice at the bottom of every page, the reality is that these words would be ridiculously easy to copy and re-purpose.

I’ve kept a journal sporadically for many years. I have writing from my high school days. Perhaps I should look it over with an eye towards posting it here. Perhaps it would drive the few readers I have away. I thought when I started this blog that I might engender some discussions. That has not happened. I’ve gotten some good comments and other feedback but no discussions. No one has ever gotten angry with me about a post like Rose has.

I have a few days off work. I will be thinking on all this. Everything I thought I knew is in question.

charged words

my

mine

has

have

love

These I put on a list a couple of days ago. But I’ve been mulling this idea for a long time. I don’t think I have any grand conclusions, though. Try these out:

my wife

my car

my father

my house

my dog

my job

my son

that chair is mine

those papers are mine

be mine

My brother has two children

My mother has a piano

My aunt has cancer

My neighbor has a television

I have a girlfriend

I have a guitar

I have a sister

I have a book

I love Mozart

I love Seinfeld

I love potato chips

I love you

post SoundBox post

I had a lot of ideas for posts last week as I was working SoundBox. My schedule wasn’t even that onerous. I had every night off except Friday and Saturday and Saturday I had the day free. Wednesday night I had a union meeting so I got home late.

But no posts got written. Sorry about that. Now I have a week (mostly) off so I’m hoping to catch up here. At the moment the well is dry, however. I’ll be back shortly . . .

writing

Writing is mysterious and beautiful. Good writing is hard. From somewhere I remember a quote from a 18th Century writer of a letter. At the end of a 20+ page letter to a friend he apologized for going on so long. He said he didn’t have time to write a brief letter.

Or something like that. The point is that it takes a lot of time to arrange the chaotic ideas running through one’s head into organized sentences that someone else has a chance of understanding. In this blog, I try to think before writing, thus most of my entries are relatively brief. 20 page letters will not be read by 21st Century readers. Now in the forums sometimes I see ‘tl;dr’. Too long, didn’t read.

I found one previous reference in this blog to the American writer James Gleick. His book Chaos has been a long time favorite of mine. At Mom and Dad’s the other day, I spotted another Gleick book: Genius, The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, and filched it. I had read it before, some years ago, but I thought it was worth another reading.

This morning I opened it and almost immediately I was struck by the quality of the writing. In the Prologue, Gleick tells of a meeting in 1948 of the world’s best physicists:

In the annals of science it was the last time but one that these men would meet in such circumstances, without ceremony or publicity. They were indulging a fantasy, that their work could remain a small, personal, academic exercise, invisible to most of the public, as it had been a decade before, when a modest building in Copenhagen served as the hub of their science. They were not yet conscious of how effectively they had persuaded the public and the military to make physics a mission of high technology and expense.  . . . Next year most of these men would meet once more . . . but by then the modern era of physics had begun in earnest, science conducted on a scale the world had not seen, and never again would its chiefs come together privately, just to work.

pictures of Zach

I’m going to say that I don’t have any pictures of Zach in my apartment newer than about age 10. I have my little ‘shrine’ with Hobbes and some other little things of his but photos of him as an adult still make me wince.

I’m mentioning this because of the page I created on FaceBook. The purpose was to allow people who want to follow this blog to get notifications when I make a new post. I know there are sexier ways to do it but I couldn’t figure it out in a few minutes and FB was easy.

It works well enough. I suppose if you are reading this and hate FaceBook and want notifications you should contact me and I’ll work something out.

Anyway, FaceBook is all about promoting ‘clicks’ so I am constantly getting notifications that I can get more visitors to my page The Zach Project if only I . . . well, pay them money essentially. I don’t read them, to be honest, because the notifications always have pictures of Zach in them and I find that I always look away and scroll down as quickly as I can.

Zach speaks

I’ve used this title before and I’ll probably use it again. It’s a good title for when I quote from his journals, methinks.

So I looked in my little database tonight and I saw that Zach had a journal entry for today’s date, January 13, in 2013. Going to my folder with all the journal files, the first thing I saw was a filename with today’s date on it. Something called The Wayland Living Room.

Perhaps I should explain something first. What I’ve done with Zach’s journals is to save each file as a PDF with a name that indicates the date range of that file. In this case, Zach had a .doc file on his computer named The Wayland Living Room. I looked inside it for a date and then put the date at the front end of the new PDF file I created from it. In theory, nothing is changed except PDF files are harder to edit if someday I choose to release them. For the date format, I use yyyymmdd. Again, in this case, the file was dated January 13, 2013 so the new file name is 20130113 The Wayland Living Room. This way, they all sort out in the order they were created and it’s easy to find something by a particular date.

OK. So The Wayland Living Room is a document detailing rules for a fantasy sports league. There is nothing in it specific to any particular sport. It defines a Fantasy Leadership Council (FLC) responsible for ‘Maintaining the continuity and integrity of all Wayland Living Room (WLR) fantasy leagues.’

It goes on for five pages and is not my subject of choice. The FLC is comprised of four individuals: Zach and three others. If any of the other three individuals – who I am not going to name here – wish to have a copy of this, please contact me privately. I will be happy to share it with you. It is not of interest to me tonight.

Now, looking further in my list of file names – remember, I know the entry I want is from January 2013 – I see 20130108 – 20130519 Corleone Spring 2013. Uh oh. Corleone is Zach code for work related musings. These are often heavy with bullet pointed plans for situations at work and criticism of colleagues. (He’s plenty critical of himself too.) As I look through this document, I realize that my wonderful database which took me months to complete is not complete. I never went through the Corleone documents. Aieee!

The Corleone file has entries for January 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, and 15th (and more), but no 13th. We’ll set those aside for now, although I did get them into the database.

Is there another 201301xx file? Yes, there is! And it has an entry for this date in 2013! It starts out with:

It feels like eternity since I last wrote in here, mainly because I was only in Atlanta a week ago (crazy) and because this past week of work was relatively busy and my mind was pretty engaged with it all week, and there was a lot of mental energy expanded.  That’s a long way of saying it was a relatively satisfying week of work.

His previous entry was January 6th, a week earlier.

After some talk about exercise, basketball, finances, Rosalie, and movies, he has this to say:

I’m not sure where I found this article but it was talking about STEAM curriculum, which is a play on the Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math, but adds Arts.  I did a little research and it seems like the STEAM concept is being promoted by a faction from UCSD and the surrounding area that is mainly some ph.d’s and a few other education individuals.  Their website talks about how STEM curriculum is myopically focused on one side of the brain and the workforce needs to have more balanced individuals.  It’s a simple concept really and basically the antithesis of the STEM movement but it’s the first time I’ve ever come across any organized usage of the concept or things related to its practical implementation.  Will be interesting to monitor its growth…

An article that I read over the break from Forbes that compiled the “top 10 brain science and psychology stories from 2012” which discussed several interesting concepts: receiving a compliment is like receiving a cash gift, with regards to how our brains respond and two people working on an issue may not be better than one because with two, it breeds overconfidence.

family communication

I haven’t written here in almost a week. As usual, there are many reasons, but one big reason this past week is that I’ve spent a lot of my writing impetus writing emails to my siblings. Last year I wanted to get a new car for my mother. I thought my reasons were good, and I talked it over with both her and Dad. We did some car shopping but it got put on the back burner sometime last fall.

Word of this car shopping got out – it was never a secret – and soon questions were being asked, help was being offered etc etc by my siblings. At some point, I decided the best way to keep everyone informed was to send out a blast email after I got back from a visit with Mom and Dad.

I think it’s been quite successful. Lots of discussion has been engendered that otherwise would have taken place over months, if at all. In fact, one comment I made in an email got back to Mom in a way she didn’t expect and now there’s blowback. Not from Mom, but from another sibling, who feels we are going behind the backs of Mom and Dad.

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time explaining this or that or defending myself. Now I’m trying leverage all of that into a blog post!

The six of us are lucky that both of our parents are still living and living by themselves in their own house. The problem, if you want to call it that, is that all good things must come to an end. Dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. No one knows how that will progress except that he will continue to decline. Mom is in good health now and takes care of Dad with few problems but she is nearly the same age as him so the margin for error is razor thin. All of us help as we can but there are more and more issues that crop up that concern all of us as a group.

For me, the solution is easy. I like to write. I write about my time with Mom and Dad and send it out in a blast to my siblings. This gets everyone the same information at the same time and allows (assuming consistent reply alls) a good discussion of the issues.

I don’t know. Nothing is perfect. Not all of my siblings like to write like I do so it’s harder for them to chime in. If we were to try to do group Skype conversations (for example) it would be agony trying to find a time that would be good for everyone.

The best news is that all of us respect and like each other. I’ve heard stories of other families . . .