Sunday, January 31, 2010

Seeing Through Shadows

A former friend of mind (I say that because I've tried to contact him for years and he never returns my calls, etc.) once wrote that my mother "saw through shadows." He wrote that in an appreciation and acknowledgement in a book he and another acquaintance wrote. It was an English composition book, I believe. I always thought he was referring to her ability to understand issues that were complex and "foggy." But now, I wonder if he was referring to the fact that she helped him proofread the book even though she had cataracts and was "seeing through shadows."

This entered my mind tonight only because I'm seeing through shadows in my left eye. It hurts like holy hell and I don't know why. Blink drops don't do any good. I can't go to an ophthalmologist tomorrow because I have to leave town until Thursday. Shit. But now I wonder what my former friend meant. What did those words mean? My mother helped the two of them by proofreading their book; did she see through the shadows of meaning, or did she shee through the shadows of cataracts and still offer good advice to them?

I need to know this. I just do.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I successfully cajoled my wife into going out for breakfast this morning. We went to The Deli-News, a very expensive deli. Two eggs, 2 pieces of sausage, some hash browns, and some toast for each of us...and a cup of bad coffee for me. $20. I'm not going to complain. I'm just not going back (at least not for breakfast).

Then, a full and productive day at the office.

Now, we're home and I'm drinking a Scotch and water...first time drinking one of those in my own house in 15 years or more. But I did have a few of them while I was visiting my brother in Mexico over the Christmas it hasn't been long since I've imbibed in the good stuff.

Attitudinal Alignment

I'm going to go out today and enjoy it, despite the fact that I have to spend it at the office and then do errands I'd rather not do. I'm not going to let my attitude ruin my attitude. And just to prove it, I'm going to try to cajole my wife into going out to breakfast with me before we go into the office.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

No Tengo Cajones Grandes

Just a few more days until I leave for Washington, DC. Monday, to be precise. I have as much interest in going to DC as I have in slitting my own throat...less, actually. And it's a long trip (relatively speaking, of course). I don't get back until late Thursday evening. And then I get to pick up the boatloads of work I did not do while I was out of the office. And then, the following week, I'm out from Tuesday through Friday. Only to return to even more bullshit.

I overheard someone speak tonight, on what I think was a reality show on television, about what's really important in life. And he gave advise that, as trite as it sounds, should be my marching orders. What he said, essentially, was this: "Don't put off what you want to do, not for another minute. For tomorrow you may die."

Why does it take me (and most of us) a lifetime to finally "get" it, only to find that it's too late to make the most of it?

If I had any balls, I'd walk in tomorrow and announce the closure of my business and my departure for an entire new life. But I guess I don't.

Monday, January 25, 2010

At the Moment

I spoke to a former boss today...he called me out of the blue. He retired on December 31 and is loving it. He said he has told his colleagues and former clients he'll be happy to have lunch or dinner or drinks with them and would love to visit with them by telephone, but he insists any such interactions must not include any conversations about the work he did or the associations he managed. I can relate so well to his restrictions. That's the aspect of retirement I most anticipate! Utterly erasing from my life everything about the day-to-day bullshit of dealing with clients and staff is so appealing.

Maybe I could do it...but I'd have to start dealing drugs or become a hitman specializing in right-wing fanatics to make enough money to pay my expenses, and that's definitely not on my radar at the moment. At the moment.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

ABQ Connection

There are many things to like about Albuquerque. I just found three more. First, I just learned that, here in the Albuquerque airport (ABQ), they offer FREE wireless internet. None of the "for your convenience, you can get internet access at the low, low fee of $79.99 per hour" garbage here. It's free. No charge. Costless.

Second, to go with the free wifi, they have long tables with sturdy chairs...and just in front of the tables, on the wall, are dozens and dozens of plugs. So (if I had not packed my power cord), I would sit here for hours working on my computer.

Finally, they sell Fresca at the outlets in the airport.

I take these to be signs from the bright side that I should move here. Despite the snow from this morning. And in spite of the cost of gas. And regardless of the cost of housing. The food has already convinced me that I have a deep connection to the culinary subculture of the area (though I probably want to keep my connection just as distant as it is now). Now, I find that I have connections to their airport management team.

I feel a magical giddiness sweeping over me...this could be... No, I can't let myself get too caught up in the glory of the moment. Not now. Not today.

Frontier Restaurant and the World of Albuquerque

Awoke to a white Albuquerque, with plenty of snow still coming down. Ignoring that, we jumped in the car and went to the Frontier Restaurant , an old place with plenty of character in the University of New Mexico neighborhood. We had huevos rancheros, Frontier style (with a couple of over-easy eggs, red or green salsa (red for me, green for my favorite wife), beans, and several huge flour tortillas). The place is worth making a trip's old and gritty, with no table service...order at the registers and pick up when your number is called. I love the place!

The other option was a place much further away; and it didn't open until 9:00 am, which I consider an affront to breakfastry. Maybe lunch.

We leave this afternoon around 5. Fortunately, thanks to my membership in whatever membership club this hotel recognizes, we got a late checkout (2 pm). So, we're off to explore Albuquerque.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick Trips & Uncle Sam's Insensitivity

Today started with a "free" breakfast at the hotel. Then, west on Highway 60 toward the Very Large Array radiotelescopes we visited during another visit. But after going only 36 miles west, the climate changed; snow, frigid winds, and slushy roads. I think the altitude changed by about 1800 feet, too, contributing to the weather.

So, back to Soccoro to visit the Mineral Museum. Then, lunch back at the Owl in San Antonio (where we had ordered green chile cheeseburgers yesterday, but were given burgers with no green chiles). Today, we got what we ordered and they were good. The waitstaff was utterly incompetent, though, and did not seem to be at all interested in representing the cheesy little dive in a more customer-pleasing way.

Then, north to Albuquerque, where we just got a room for the night and my wife instantly opted for a nap. I'm ready to explore, if she'll just get up.

I have been unable to stop myself from checking email and it's a good thing I have. Multiple issues surfaced that would have utterly ruined my Monday had I let them wait. On the other hand, I feel like I'm not on a break but, instead, just away from my office during work hours.

Why won't Uncle Sam let me retire early and give me full Social Security benefits? It's because he's a stinking bastard who deserves to have his throat slit and have "his" money emptied out of all the banks and put into mine.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Mexican Tingo

Our first thoughts this morning were about breakfast. So we went to Cecilia's, a little Mexican place in Old Town. We both had burritos; machaca for my wife, carne adovada for me. I took photos; will post later. The place is worth the trip.

Next up: driving south. Maybe Soccoro, maybe Truth or Consequences, maybe south and west to Silver City. Too bad we're flying back Saturday.

I'm in the mood for a six-month road trip. But NOT in the Pontiac G-6 we rented last night after we got in. The car is a "full size" car; full-size if you're a starving dwarf.

We expect to have rain and snow most of the next two days. Such is life. I can live with it.

I feel good! I could engage in a dance with Australian wild dogs (the tingo), I feel so good! Hence the title (courtesy of my friend Ellie, who coined the meaning of the word (though I'm relatively certain tingo is also a Paraguayan tea...).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Feeding Lions

Last night, I had dinner with a group of people with whom I do business, plus the spouse of one of those people. The spouse, who I'd met several times before, had seemed like a nice-enough guy; not the sharpest person on the planet, but affable.

But my opinion of him changed last night when I brought up the Haitian earthquake and that I hoped large-scale humanitarian aid efforts would reach all the victims before it was too late. This guy responded that he believed the quake was god's vengeance on the people of Haiti for worshipping false idols! I was stunned. This guy and his wife CONSTANTLY talk about being "blessed" by god and about god's plans for them...and he thinks "god" is punishing Haitians for not believing in him!

If I weren't sitting at a restaurant surrounded by clients, I think I would have expressed my opinion that this moron should be euthanised for even THINKING such thoughts. But I didn't. Instead, I pretended to be a "believer" and argued that a merciful god would not do such a thing. He spewed back the clap-trap that he had been fed at his deep east Texas black baptist bible-banger church. At every step of the way I refuted his arguments, but he kept responding with "well, what CAN'T be disputed is what god said about..." I gently reminded him that whatever version of the bible he was reading was 1) translated from the original language, quite probably by people who are not PERFECT in their understanding of both languages; 2) written, in the first place, by mortals who very probably embellished their stories a good bit; 3)subject to wildly varied interpretations of the VERY SAME WORDS, depending on who had the most to gain or lose from its message; and 4) contradictory from version to version, story to story, and message to message.

His preachers had filled his mind with this drivel at "Sunday school" and he was not buying my opinions. He was steadfast in his belief that Haitians are simply paying the wages of sin. I told him I was contributing to the relief effort because I didn't care about their religions or lack thereof, I simply felt compelled to show some human compassion toward people who desperately need help

When I got back to my hotel room, I wrote a vitriolic post on the topic on Facebook, but then decided this morning to remove it really didn't belong there. But it belongs here. And my nice Christian friend from last belongs in a cage with lions; my compassion does not extend to him.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Broken Pipes and Golden Cleaners

We got home about 4:45 this afternoon. As we neared our house and I saw water flowing along the side of the street, I wondered aloud to my wife, "I wonder where all that water is coming from?" Then, as I turned into the alley I saw that it was flowing from my backyard. And it was pouring out of my garage onto the driveway. And I knew. A water pipe had burst.

Last night's temperatures had dropped to the low teens, but so had they the night before and we didn't have any trouble. But today we did. We were only gone seven and a half hours (at the office, to my chagrin), but it was enough.

There were two inches of water in almost the entire northern half of the house. The carpets were soaked. As I stepped on the carpet that looked dry, I felt my foot sink into the carpet a couple of inches and water almost sprayed from beneath my feet.

I was able to turn off the water quickly, but the damage had been done. We got a plumber to come out relatively quickly to fix the broken pipe (for $225), but we still haven't heard from nor seen the people from Service Master (who ostensibly should have called us within an hour after our insurance company called them and should have been here within four hours). I guess a lot of people have the same issues and the company is busy. Until they come extract the water, we'll be sloshing around a very wet house.

The exterior wall of my house, in back where the plumber had to tear it up to find the broken pipe, is hideous and will need some expensive repair. Who knows how much time and money the carpets and related water damage will cost. Like the plumber (who spent less than an hour), I suspect the Service Master people will give me a bill that suggests they are golden.

Oh well, we still have a nice warm place to sleep tonight and eventually the water will disappear and all will be normal again. But forgive me if I complain just a little.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Over the Hill at 49

Today, I celebrated the last year of "youth" of one of my staff members. Her 49th birthday is tomorrow and she thinks it's her last year of youth. So I told her, yes, it's the last one. When you turn 50, I suggested, your bones quickly turn into powder and you begin drifting off to sleep at 6:30 pm. I think she actually thinks there's a switch inside us that is triggered at 50; it causes us to have dinner at 4:30 at Luby's Cafeteria and we climb into rocking chairs and ease into our much-needed 12 hours of sleep.

We'll see what she's like in a year.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Streams of Unconsciousness?

I was "friended" on Facebook, a few days ago, by someone with whom I went to high school. I asked her had been going on in her life for the last 38 years. She gave me some flip response, saying she would need to drink a cocktail or write her memoirs to get started, so I suggested that she get in touch with me the next time she swilled a cocktail or published her memoirs. She did not respond. Maybe my response was construed as unfriendly; but I just wasn't in the mood for games.

I intended to start the new year with a better attitude and a more friendly demeanor. Well, as I said in my last post, the year begins when I say it begins, so I still have opportunities to behave better.

There was some success yesterday when I did not tell the president of a client association to back off and shut up. That's progress. I simply suggested to her that I could get my job done better and in a more timely manner if she would spend her time talking to someone else...but I really was more diplomatic than that.

Yesterday I wrote the first few paragraphs of a prospective autobiography, in which I will describe what it was like planning and then carrying out a behavioral modification program on a guy who caused some undeserved grief for a relative. The key is making it all look like an accident; and I will.

Tonight, dinner included the world's best salsa, chips, and canned sardines in salsa picante. Not a particularly healthy meal, but tasty.

UT is playing Arkansas tonight; I'm proud I actually got the teams right. One of the teams will win and there will be joy and despair across the city tomorrow. Why this is, I do not know.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dos mil y diez o veinte diez

Whatever it is, it's 2010. A new year. A new decade, or maybe one year shy of a new decade. An opportunity to mark the beginning, or the end, or both.

I don't yet have any New Year's resolutions, at least none that have any basis in reality. But I will. And when I do, they will be significant. Very significant. Things will be different. I will be different. And different will be good. Very good.

In the interim, I'll devote my time to getting my wife's eye infection, or whatever it is, behind her so she can start the New Year feeling better and in a better frame of mind. After all, the New Year begins when you decide it does and not a minute sooner. Our New Year may begin January 4 or January 20 or March 29. When it does, it will be the start of a spectacular New Year.

I hope you who read this have a spectacular New Year, as well, whenever it began...or begins.