Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The annual ball

Day 126.

Spent last weekend at the annual statewide gathering for the DeMolay boys.

Imagine a mixture of 250 teenage boys and 25 teenage girls, trapped together for 4 days and 3 nights in a luxury hotel, far away from their own homes, hyped up on sugar and caffeine, and simply thrilled to stay up all night talking with each other.

Now imagine that you have been given the thankless task of coordinating and enforcing the "evening curfew rules" for said teenagers ... for ... all ... four ... days.

Of course, I had help (thank goodness), in the form of other adult volunteers, but since I was the coordinator, I ended up staying awake each night to make sure that things went smoothly. (Going to bed at 3am each evening, getting up again at 8am each morning, and doing the same thing again that night). To say that I was tired after the end of the weekend would be a gross understatement - in the end, I was completely and utterly exhausted.

But - enough about me.

The real focus of the weekend is to bring all of these young people together for fun, recreation, competition, some seriousness, debate, celebrations, award ceremonies, crowning achievements, lots of good food, and of course - the Annual Ballroom Dance.

My guys had a wonderful time (they were perfect angels this year, really!!), and the group came together on a much deeper level after all was said and done. The young ladies were charming and beautiful, and the event was really well planned; it was probably the best DeMolay event that most of those kids had seen in their lifetimes.

Wait - there's more to it.

The boy who was elected as leader for the coming year had made arrangements with a local charity to shave his head. (The purpose of the charity is to create wigs for little kids who have cancer, because they lose their natural hair when they are undergoing chemotherapy). Anyway, the idea is that people with long hair can donate their hair to this organization, and the hair will be used to make a wig for a kid. People like me, whose hair is too short for a wig, usually just contribute some cash to the cause.

I'm not a rich man, but I try to give whenever I can, and I had decided in advance to make a contribution in honor of this young man who was having his hair buzzed for a good cause. I watched in admiration as he went from long-haired, to nearly-bald.

After he was finished, the elected girl's leader sat down, and my heart dropped. She decided to follow suit, and have her head shaved as well. I recall the event in slow motion. Long blonde locks falling in clumps to the floor. Frankly, I was in awe. Sure, it takes some guts for a guy to walk around with a shaved head, but not nearly so much as it takes for a girl to do the same thing. This was one of the most self-less, courageous, and spontaneous acts that I have ever witnessed, and I was not alone in my assessment.

One by one, the other kids followed suit. One by one, they traded their finely combed hair for grizzled baldness. The music was thumping in the background, and the crowd cheered everytime a new bald head emerged. It was spiritual, magical, positively hypnotic. It moved me inside.

Thank God for teenagers. They seem to be lost in a self-absorbed haze for most of their lives, but on those very rare occasions, when they drop the attitude, get serious, and really commit themselves to helping a worthy cause - beautiful things can happen.

Anyway, this turned out to be a really inspiring weekend, and I was thankful to be part of it. {Moments like these remind me of "why I decided to be a volunteer" in the first place. Thanks for the inspiration, kids - you are all heroes in my book!!}

Monday, July 30, 2007

Family reunion 2of4

Note: this entry is a continuation of a previous entry

... So I stayed up all night, bought the cheapest tickets I could find ($1000), packed my things, and headed for Dallas.

Unfortunately, I missed the first flight. (Oh yeah, do you remember my self-professed promise to be on time for everything from now on? Well, it appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds).

I first met up with my brother "C" - he and his girlfriend and daughter picked us up at the airport. (It was a test of patience, since my plane was forced to sit on the runway for 20 minutes after we landed).

First stop was McDonald's. [In case you didn't know, Texas has the sweetest tea - and I mean "tea so sweet that it's hard to taste the flavor of the tea through the sugar" - the sweetest tea that I've ever encountered.] Caught up on small talk, and called my mom, who was still enroute from Oklahoma. I love my brother "C", and it was good to see him again.

I was mostly there to visit my mom's side of the family, but since we had some extra time to kill, I talked my brother into paying a visit to our "other" grandmother (and uncle) - people on my dad's side of the family.

We didn't have a phone number for them, but my brother knew exactly where they lived, so we knocked on the door, unannounced, and hoped for the best. To my surprise, we were welcomed in and treated like heroes (despite the fact that I had allowed 20 years to go by without a single card, letter, or phone call).

My grandmother opened up about a lot of things. She talked about our heritage (we have some Native American aka "American Indian" blood in us). She talked about her passion for writing, and described some of the books and poetry that she had written over the years (this came as a surprise to me, and reaffirmed by belief that some traits really are genetic). She talked about the psychic abilities that seem to run in our family line, referring to them as "spiritual gifts". It was an illuminating conversation. They say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and it was clear to me that we had more in common than I could have otherwise imagined.

My uncle seemed to be doing well. He and I were pretty close at one time. He was a cameraman for a small but successful film company, and this eventually inspired me to try out the film business myself. [I starred in two films in High School: one written by Dane Marti, and another by Ruel Murphy. Both films did really well; one of them even won second place in the state amateur film competition. Ah, memories.] He talked to me about creating a film together someday. Who knows? Might be fun.

After what seemed like hours, we finally left and went to the "big reunion" with my mother's family. Met up with my grandfather, some aunts and uncles that I hadn't seen since I was about eight years old, and some cousins that I couldn't remember at all. Everyone remarked about how good it was to see me after all these years, etc., etc. My grandfather told me about his days as a photographer for the Navy (I always loved the pictures of the battleships that he took from the nearby harbor). Then, he went into detail about his days as a preacher, and how my parents met during one of his sermons. He asked about my sister [she's fine, but she wasn't able to make it to the reunion]. He asked about my dad [he's fine; he can't make it either but he sends his best regards]. He told me about the wife he lost last year to heart failure. I waited until a quiet moment, and thanked him for taking care of us kids while my mom was in the hospital. He's basically a decent man, trying to do what's right. He's made some mistakes, but he's okay. I wanted him to know that I appreciated him for who he was.

Night fell, and we decided to visit my half-brother "S", who lives about an hour from Dallas, in the country. It was so late that one of his kids had already gone to bed, but it turned out to be a really nice visit anyway [I got to meet "S" and his family for the first time last year. I was sent to Dallas on a business trip, and they came to visit me at the hotel. He looks a lot like me; so in other words, a very handsome man, and he's got a very calm demeanor (aka "nice guy syndrome", like yours truly had at one time)]. Anyway, the kids hit it off really well, and us adults just hung out in the cool night air and talked and talked and talked, until sunrise started to creep over the horizon. It really was a good time.

I only had a couple of hours before my plane to Denver was departing, so I made my last visit to my other half-brother ("J"), who had brought his son along. This was the first time that I seen "J" since he was about two years old, so it was nice to finally meet him in person as an adult (when our parents divorced, he went to live with his dad, who was formerly my step-dad, and I went to live with my real dad; so we ended up being raised in totally different parts of the country). I didn't get to spend much time with him, but we exchanged email addresses and I plan on writing to him soon.

I boarded the return flight less than an hour later, and I was back in Denver just in time to get my presentation finished for work the next day.

Although I had reservations about going to this reunion, I'm glad I went anyway. It felt good to connect with my long-lost brothers, and I feel like I was able to say goodbye to my grandparents (just in case, you know). I know that I'm never going to be as "close" to the family as most of them would like me to be, but at least I can drop in every once in a while, and it's nice - really nice - to be accepted for who I am and to feel like part of a family, even if only for a short time.

Little did I know, that two more reunions were going to be coming my way in the near future ... <to be continued>

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Angel calls


"Talking with you is sort of the conversational equivalent of an out of body experience."

Monday, July 16, 2007

I hate mechanics

Day 111.

Had to get my car repaired this weekend (major big time repair). The brakes were squeaking - I mean all the time, even when I wasn't pressing the brake pedal. So, being a reasonably smart guy, I took it to one of those places that advertises on the radio all the time "we charge only $99 for a complete brake job because we really care!". That sounded nice to me, cause the last mechanics I gave my car to didn't care about me at all! So - I left my car in their capable hands, went to the nearby shopping center on foot (hence the gift for Angel), and watched the new Harry Potter movie with Steven. After 4 hours, the head mechanic finally called (in the middle of the movie, of course), to tell me that my car was basically a death-trap, that they had found dozens of parts that could fail at any moment, and that they just wouldn't feel right about letting me drive my car one more mile unless those parts were fixed. They would be happy to help me out for only $700, which was a bargain, considering my life was at stake. Unfortunately, they were about to close for the weekend, and they didn't have the parts for my car in stock, so I would have to leave it there for a few days, but if they ran into any problems they would let me know.

<Yeah Right!> My momma didn't raise no dummy, so I said "no thanks", signed the papers <they make you sign a form stating that they warned you about your car being a total death-trap and that you amazingly refused all of their attempts to save your life>, and I drove my squeaky car back home.

Next day, I woke up early. Since the specialists couldn't fix it, I called my own expert - my Dad (hey, don't knock it, he knows everything about cars. I know everything about computers, but he's the car expert). Anyway, he confirmed that would be able to fix it in a couple of hours, if I could get the parts, but not until - let's see, checking the schedule - two weeks from this Saturday, Hmmm.

Well, two weeks sounded like a long time to drive around with a "screeching banshee" of an automobile, so I decided to take things into my own hands. I opened the phonebook and called every auto repair store in town that was open (not many are open on Sundays, mind you). I narrowed the list down to 2, and picked the one that was closest to me. Arrived there early, and told them the ridiculous experience that I had the day before. Ha ha - we all had a good laugh. These guys wouldn't do that to me, of course not! They were professionals, and they weren't out to sell me anything that I didn't want. They would be happy to do the work same-day, but they didn't have the parts I needed in stock, so they'd have to do some calling around.

"What about this?" I asked, "What if I buy my own parts and then just pay you to install them for me"? To which the lead technician replied, "No problem! We would be happy to do that for you, because your happiness is what we strive for"! Wow - that's nice to hear. Those other guys were just greedy; they weren't looking out for my happiness. These guys seem so much more sincere. Yes, I like this plan - why didn't I think of it earlier?

Drove to the parts store and found EXACTLY what I needed in about 5 minutes flat. I told the guys at the parts store my funny story about the two different shops, and neither one of them having the parts for my truck in-stock. Hee hee. We all laughed. The parts guys are always on MY side. They always have what I need; no excuses. And the total charge for all of the parts I needed? A mere $350. Hmmm - that seems like a lot, but oh well, it's better than $700, and the quality of the parts is going to be MUCH better of course. And since teh installation is only going to cost $120 or so, I'm still way ahead! How smart I feel to have taken this option! I am no fool. I am a smart man. Good for me!

Back to the repair place - yup I have all the parts. Do you still have time to do it today? No problem. Here to serve you. Please sign here and we'll get started right away. Ummm - how much again? $550 for the whole thing. Five hundred fifty? for labor only? Yes, you see, the rpcie we quoted eariler was for a standard brake job. You have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and unfortunately that costs extra. Well, hmmmm. What if you only installed the front brakes? (I can wait a couple more weeks for the back brakes. Mental note to take Dad out to dinner soon). Sure, no problem. $350 even. Okay - the weekend is almost gone but I have the parts and I want this thing fixed - let's do it.

My shopping experience:
Advertised price =$99.00 for the whole system
Quoted price = $700.00 for the whole system
Final Price = $700.00 for a job half done
Wasting your weekend haggling with mechanics? - priceless.

I dated a mechanic once. She was awesome. (With cars, that is.) My Dad is sort of a mechanic too, even though he's never worked as one. Other than that, I have no use for mechanics. In fact, I think most of them are scum.

Sittin' by the dock of the bay

Went down to the lake yesterday. It was right after sundown, and the beach was empty. I've always felt at peace around water. I love to hear the waves lapping at the shore; I love to see the lights bouncing over the water. I love the smell of the air. It felt good. The days have been pretty hot lately (between 35 and 40 C), but the nights are still pleasant - especially when the wind blows across the water. Mental note to spend more time there.

I've been missing good conversation recently. My closest colleague at work left for another job, Adam bought a house and has been sleeping there for the last week, and Angel has been too busy to call for almost two weeks. That's three people who used to converse with me on a very frequent basis, and all have suddenly gone missing. <sniff>

Got to spend some time with Steven, though. We're currently exploring the world of "Half Life 2", and that's been pretty fun. (Let's face it, he likes to play computer games more than he likes to do anything else, so if I really want to spend some quality time with him, I sometime have to get down to his level). Speaking of which, have you ever heard of the Llama song? (We watched it about 20 times before we found the backwards version, which is even more strange!) Okay, one more for the 18 and over crowd: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles song - backwards! <too funny>

Adam's absence over the last week has been both a blessing and a curse. I like having the house to myself, but I wish he was here to help me with my workouts, and as I mentioned earlier, I kinda miss the morning conversations during the morning run. I've been lazy the past week - only worked out 3 times the whole week (hard to stay motivated with everything going on around me).

Got another trinket for Angel. {I can't help myself - I see something nice, and I want to get it for her. Maybe I'm just too old-fashioned for this world. Dying breed - literally.}

<sigh> I miss her voice. She wrote a nice email message, and I should be happy with that, but I still miss her voice. Why do I miss her voice? I wish I didn't. I wish I could be strong and independent and not care -if- or when she calls again. I'm not strong in that way. I wish I was, but I am not. I can be strong in other situations and with other people, but not with her. I don't know why.

I'm going to spend more time at the lake. Maybe the waves will tell me the answer.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Silence - Part 3

This space has been intentionally left blank.

Friends of old

Day 108.

One of my very best friends came through Denver last weekend.

He and I were really close in High School. In fact, we seemed to do almost everything together. We forged a bond that has lasted for countless years (yeah, okay, I could actually count them, but I don't really want to know, okay?)

"Luke" has done really well for himself. He's played a big role on a big project at a big medical center (in my old home town of Saint Louis). He's got a very attractive new girlfriend, and he seems to be a really good father.

Luke is a quiet giant. He always has been. He is without a doubt the most gentle and trustworthy man that I have ever known. We had a lot of fun in High School ... strange to think of it now, but I suppose he and I were "Leaders of the Pack" back then. [The "pack" in that case consisted of a bunch of geeks from High School and DeMolay, but we were all good friends. We we ate a lot of Lasagna, we flirted with a lot of waitresses, we had a good time, and nobody got hurt.  - -  Hmmm - - Better change that to say that nobody ever got "critically injured". - - Of course, there was a close call with that one automobile accident, and then there was the fight with the football team, and the night somebody spiked the punch, and ...]

Anyway - it was great to see him again.

Some people are friends for their whole lives, it seems.
Even when they live in different cities, and follow different dreams.
You were more than a friend, you were really a brother.
Dang, I wish I could find something that rhymes well with brother.
It's true, I'm not a good poet, but I wanted you to know.
You're a really good friend, and I - guess I love ya, bro.

Steven's mother-land

I called my sons' mother last night (aka my ex-wife). It was the first opportunity for me to use the nifty speakerphone speaker in the kitchen, so that was a plus. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I also got some small pleasure out of waking her up early (there's an eight hour time difference, so it would have been approximately 6:30 her time). Hee hee.

She wants us to come for a visit this year (again). Not sure if I will go this time; although she nearly always insists that I escort Steven to make sure that he behaves around her. At some point, I will have to remove myself from the picture. I have done my best to help them understand each other, but he's 18 now. If they still haven't learned to respect each other's boundaries and to get along nicely (without me there as a peace-keeper), then perhaps they never will. I hope they can work it out. They have been getting along much better over the last few years than they ever did before, but I still have doubts. I see so many similarities between them, and I think they could develop a deeper bond, but up until this point, they haven't really gotten to know each other (sadly for both of them, she left before he was old enough to talk). They both count on me to keep the conversation flowing, and I do so because I want them to learn to get along, but I can't always be there to play that role; they need to work it out for themselves.

Anyhooo. Nice conversation. Steven's half-brother is learning English at school, so the two of them got to speak to each other without an interpreter (first time!) Between his brother's English and Steven's German, a casual observer might have had a hard time understanding them, but they understood each other just fine.

I get the feeling that Steven will eventually move to Germany, just so he can get to know them better. He was born there, and I've done my best to teach him about the culture just in case he decided to go back one day. (I haven't done a good job at teaching him German, but he knowsenough now to make it easy if he chooses to study it later on).

Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if I had stayed in Germany when my military career was over (I had the choice). I probably would have gone to college, become an engineer, stayed married to her, had a couple more kids, and purchased a motorcycle (BMW of course) . I'd be a big, fat, beer-drinking Bavarian. Yep.

Instead, I decided to move back to the USA, where I feel even more like a stranger. (Please understand that I love America, but sometimes I wonder if the people of this country will ever learn to love and honor each other the way that older cultures do).

All in all, I have no complaints. Things happen for a reason. Being here was good for me. I wanted to give my son a stable childhood, and I did that. He's a good kid.

Which reminds me ... Steven got his first job this week! He's going to be a security guard at the local sports arena (believe me, he's well-qualified for the role). Kinda makes me proud and relieved and a little sad all at the same time. My baby is almost grown.

I'll have to think about the trip to Germany. It would be fun if I could bring my fantasy girlfriend (have you ever slept in a castle, princess?), but the chances of that happening are extremely slim. Maybe I'll send Steven to Germany, while I go to Mexico. Now that sounds like a vacation!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Patience is a virgin

Day 106.

"Seems like everyone else has a love just for them,
I don't mind, we have such a good time, my best friend
But sometimes, well, I wish we could be more than friends."

"Tell me do you know? // Tell me do you know?"

"I can understand that you don't want to cross the line,
And you know I can't promise you things will turn out fine,
But I have to be honest, I want you to be mine."

<...Corinne Bailey Rae,"Breathless"-Lyrics-Video...>

Me + Nicole Kidman

I took a quiz tonight ... "Which celebrity personality is your best match"? I should have taken note of the fact that it was sponsored by "Oh!" (I think it's a television channel for women), but I didn't ... until afterward. Anyway, here is the result:

You scored as a Nicole Kidman
You are like Nicole Kidman! Like Nicole, you are modest and unassuming. You like quiet hobbies, such as sharing a home-cooked meal with loved ones, shopping on a weekday when malls are not packed, and yoga. You take care of your health and you are very sensible for your age. You are rather calm and rational because of this.

Geez - I always thought I was more the Elizabeth Hurley kinda guy?

All men are idiots

Guess what I did? Okay - I'll tell you. I bought myself a shiny new phone this weekend! It's a nifty little cordless model (don't laugh, all of the other phones in my house are the cord-type). It also has caller ID, which makes me feel oh-so-hip.

So anyway, I purposely got one with lighted buttons so I could turn off the light before I call her. (For some reason, I like to be in the dark whenever we have our long talks).

I spent almost an hour painstakingly programming in phone numbers for all of the people that I might call. I went to sleep Saturday night staring at my new phone. I was so proud. I just KNEW that she was going to call, and I could tell her about it.

Sadly, I woke up the next day, and the phone was dead. Yes, you heard right. Completely and utterly dead. No dial-tone, no click, nothing at all.

The voice in my head started saying "you get what you pay for", and I was lamenting the fact that I didn't spend the extra 5 bucks for a better model (that's right - five lousy dollars, you cheap bastard - and you would have had a phone that actually works!)

Then a thought occurred to me.

What if ... uhhhhhhhh ... oh yeah ... oh boy .... do I feel stupid.

I flipped the light switch mounted next to my door and - poof! My new phone started working again! {I plugged the electrical end of the phone to a "switched" outlet}. Man, good thing nobody was around to see me being an idiot. They might have laughed at me (or worse, they might have described the episode in detail in their blog!)

Makes me wonder - did I miss her phone call? [I doubt it, but wouldn't that be ironic?]

And the most pitiful part of this story? Instead of rearranging power cords or buying a new power strip, I have now trained myself to leave the lightswitch "on", which means that I have to reach underneath the lampshade to turn my room light off.

Would it be sufficient to say that "all men are idiots" ? Hint: I'm living proof.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Small wonders

MAJOR victory at work today. I finally held my own with the big boss. He did his usual thing, hitting me with a barrage of pointed questions. But this time, I was ready. I did not give up. I stayed cool and calmly spoke my truth. This time, he got it. He understood. The result is that my team has about half as much work to do, and an extra month to get it done. Yippee!

I keep forgetting to mention - I've lost a total of 30 pounds so far. My pants were getting so loose that I couldn't keep them up any longer. My belts had been cinched in as far as they would go. This left me in sort of a quandary. (Keep in mind that I'm only halfway to my goal, so any pants or belts that I buy right now won't fit me in another two months.) I didn't want to buy a bunch of clothes that I would only wear for a couple of months, but I knew that I couldn't continue wearing clothes that didn't fit. The final solution? A quick trip to Wal-Mart and $50 later, I have some very cheap (one could say, disposable) clothes, plus two belts that can be cinched down to any size that I happen to be. When I'm too small for them, I will simply donate them to a charitable organization, and viola! I now have clothes that fit, I didn't have to pay too much for them, and I can give them away (guilt free) when I get too small for them. [Genius, I think].

Received some nice comments about this blog, which made me feel awfully good about myself (there are at least two people that enjoy reading my drivel - thanks to Bev and Michelle). But then I started reading other people's blogs, and I am once again humbled. There are so many good people out there. Good people that have to endure awful things. I feel simultaneously thankful for myself, and sad for them. Why can't bad things happen to bad people? If I was God, that's certainly how I would do things...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Under the glass

Day 103


My existence comes down this ...
silence and then no silence, with more silence than not.

I swim in language. It is like liquid to me. Clear as water, I can see it, I can taste it, and I can manipulate it at will. (But I cannot breathe it in; I need air for that.)

In my vision, I am encased in a metal tube, barely able to move. The only source of light is above me, but the light is diffused. Inches above my head, there is a pane of glass covering the entrance to the tube. Above the glass is water, clear water. When people talk to me, the water flows in a constant motion. In some cases, the words are bright and colorful. When this happens, they cause the water to change its tint for a moment or two before being washed away. In most cases, the words are clear and colorless. Words are exchanged, but my mind is in automatic mode. The words pour out between me and the other person, but I can seldom recall what was said.

People speak with me quite often. I can see their distorted faces peering through the water and the glass, looking down on me, but not really seeing me. And then, every once in a while, someone like HER comes along. She comes near, and the water and the glass seem to disappear. I can see plainly, and I know that she can see me too. The stale air that surrounds me has been replenished, and I can breathe freely again. At this point, the words have stopped flowing, but I am glad for the moments (which sometimes turn into hours) of freedom.

Then she leaves, and my watery tomb is re-sealed. I am surrounded again, looking out through the glass and the water. Giving in, and taking out. The flow. The clear tide. The familiar cycle.

At times like these, I am left to digest the words she has spoken. They melt in my mind like cotton candy. Sweet and then gone. Pure and simple, but short-lived. I savor them during the in-between times.

Why do I let my guard down for her? How can I open myself so completely to her, when I know that the experience will be over so quickly? Wouldn't it be better to keep things as they are? (Perhaps then, I wouldn't feel so suffocated when she's gone.) I can't breathe anymore. I have to get out. I have to break free.

But what then? I cannot live on air alone. Take me out of the glass, and I will lie on the floor like a dying goldfish. Breathing yes, but unable to survive on dry land. These words, my language - they sustain me. I cannot do my job without them, and I cannot survive for long without my job. I need the flow of words, I know this.

My problem is this ... now that I have tasted fresh air, I do not believe that I can survive without it. Wait a second, redefine that. I can survive, but it is only survival. It is pure, primal, and mundane survival; nothing more.

I look up into the water above me. There is no movement without conversation, there is only stillness. I long for reprieve. I yearn for her presence. I can't wait to breathe again.

Rescue me, princess. Rescue me from this tomb. Set me free, if only for a few moments. I long to hear your voice.


Mister Goldfish

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Goodbye Friend

I lost a good friend today.

Naw, "LOST' isn't quite right ... more like "said goodbye". I held steady and true, but it wasn't easy. She was my right-hand man, my confidante, my partner. She was the better half of a dynamic duo, and I will always admire and respect her for everything she stood for, and for all of the things that we were able to accomplish together.

I knew her for just over one year. She was called in to help out, and she had almost no experience in my line of work. For the first few days, I saw a "panicked" look in her eyes. I'm sure that on several occasions, she was tempted to quit and never look back.
But she didn't. She stayed with it. She was courageous. She held on. Her fortitude impressed me. It still does. So I reached out, took her under my wing, and reassured her that everything would be all right.

A year later, and she is a brilliant diamond, ready for anything that life can throw her way. There is nothing more that I can teach her. She is ready for the next challenge. So, as it happens in life, our paths are no longer joined. She accepted a position with another company, and now I have to say goodbye.

I have worked many places, and I have made some good friends along the way. I count myself fortunate to have worked alongside each of these good people, and I am honored that they chose to work with me and often directly for me. It is a special bond: master and apprentice, mentor and protege', teacher and student.

Those who love to teach others will be quick to tell you that the experience is never one-way. We always learn from the people we teach. The exchange is exhilarating.

I dedicate this page to all of the friends that I have made at work. (You know who you are.) We made a great team. We had a lot of fun. The work was hard, but we gave it our best, and we did a really good job. We deserve to be proud of the work that we did; we were damned good.

To the following people - "It was an honor to serve with you. I would gladly do so again if given the chance."

The KHS Crew, PFC "D", Spec-4s "A" "D" and "T", Sergeants "M" "R" "S" and "W", Captains "Dan" and "Bob", Major Tom, "Marky-Mark" and Miss "L" at BRI, the best and the brightest at Whizbang and CW. My homies at Blackstone. The KPCO tekkies, the national security folks at KPIT, the top-notch teams at MBI and Echo, and my blood-brothers "K" and "L".

The work doesn't last. (The companies don't even last!) But we were there. We have the scars to prove it. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for being there.

Still ... It is always sad to say goodbye.
My friend.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Day

Day 99

July 4th - the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence here in the U.S. of A. This is our biggest national holiday, a time to pause in the midst of summer and reflect on all of the wonderful freedoms that we rmjoy (and too often take for granted).

They call this "Independence Day". Being a man that loves language, I read a little deeper into the meaning of that phrase, and have turned it into a more "personal" holiday.

The thirst for independence runs deep in my veins. So - on this day, every year, I try to become do something that will make me more liberated and free than in the previous year. Sometimes I do this by challenging my fears (in fact, the first time that I celebrated my personal independence, I decided to go "bungee jumping" with my father, my brother, and my best friend. It was indeed, a very liberating experience, since I have always lived with a tremendous fear of heights).

Today, I declare my independence from one of my worst habits. Those of you who know me can bear witness to the fact that I am almost always late, no matter what the event, or how much time I have to get there. I'm not extremely late, just a bit late, but since it seems to happen all of the time, the people around me have come to expect it from me. Although I appreciate the fact that they are willing to accept this shortcoming in me, I don't like thinking that I have become predictable, and I don't like thinking that they have to make special accomodations just for me. Therefore, I have decided to make a change for the better. I am going to endeavor to be on time, for everything, to the best of my ability, from this day forward.

There it is - in writing - you now have proof (I have no excuse now).

Happy Independence Day, everyone!