Sunday, March 28, 2010


I'll spend a "big" wedding anniversary 400 miles from home, wrapped up in a client's annual event. For the client, the event is important; for me, my anniversary is much more so. But I am obliged to be there. I hope I can get my wife to fly in to meet me on our anniversary so I can at least take her to dinner on what will be a celebration of our first 30 years of marriage.

Every passing year, my resentment grows over spending time helping clients celebrate events that are far less meaningful to me than to them, while I sacrifice being able to celebrate things that mean a great deal to me. I almost allowed myself to ask that my sister's memorial service be delayed so I could attend a previous commitment...a client board meeting. Fortunately, I came to my senses and said my client's board meeting didn't merit a second thought. But I keep allowing myself to give priority to business instead of things that really matter.

It's not as straightforward and simple as it sounds. It's easy to say "family always comes first," but when following that principle could lead to the loss of business and, therefore, put the family in financial jeopardy, reality enters the equation.

There's a lot of talk in business circles about how business should always take back seat to important family matters. I think it makes some people feel good to give lip service to the concept. In reality, though, business generally doesn't give a rip about family...not when it comes to the bottom line. People tend to give lip service to family taking precedence only when it's convenient to do so.

OK, I have to look at my skepticism meter and see if I can't make some adjustments...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ansel Adams

Take a look at these Ansel Adams photographs. They were taken in 1941-1942 as part of a project for then Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, but the project got shelved due to the invasion of Pearl Harbor.

I wonder if this little girl is still alive and, if so, what she is doing today? What must her life have been like? It would be fascinating to try to find out who she was and to learn more about her and her family and the other people Ansel Adams met during his engagement to take those photos.

This is yet another gem I learned about courtesy of NPR. Who in their right mind really thinks NPR is a left-wing mouthpiece? Oh. Sarah Palin. Now it's all clear to me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

He was Screening at the Bottom of His Lungs

I've decided to share some images from my desktop. I have no particularly good reason except to try out my Jing software to see if its image-capture capabilities are suited to capturing and then displaying screen shots.

This first image is
the home page of my home computer. I created it so I could get quick access to all the places I like to visit frequently (or need to visit frequently) without using "Favorites." I hate favorites. They're a pain in the ass. I like my way better. Plus, I keep my HTML skills from getting too rusty.

This second image is the blog of a guy I've never met, but he shares my birthday so he can't be all bad. He and his wife (also a blogger and a woman who devours books like she's hooked on paper) live in Seattle. He is a kayaker, musician, and consultant who knows more than I do about accounting software and systems. You can visit him here

This a recent post by a blogger who is an incredibly talented naturalist, photographer, and author and who is living my fantasy of roaming at will. She in Arizona (or was last I looked) at the moment, but almost ready to head out to Nova Scotia and a place that will become yet another place I want to visit. You can visit her here

Here is a blog written by three crazy women, one of whom lives (for the moment) in Connecticut and, like the woman who writes the one above, is a free spirit. I like all three of them, but one of them, Ellie, is my favorite. She spends quite alot of time in a tavern and and in her Westy and enjoys libations almost as much as I do. So does her husband. You can visit these crazy people here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kneeblood's Principle

Ultimately, the truth about the universe, the undeniable, fundamental truth, is this: nothing matters. Nothing.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nuclear Winter?

March 21, 2010. The first day of nuclear winter?

Since I'm being daffy, here's a video I find particularly appealing. I've always liked Hoyt Axton's music.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Luther Mahoney Died Today...That's a Death to Celebrate!

I watched Luther Mahoney die today and it was positively delightful! I've wanted the bastard dead for quite some time. I didn't care how. I just wanted him dead. When I watched him die at the hand of a cop who had other options than to kill him, I was a little concerned...but my concern was for the cop. I didn't want the cop to be punished for killing Luther. While the cop didn't have to do it, it was was for the best. A jury trial for Luther would have been an afront to his many, many victims.

Actually, I would have enjoyed shooting Luther. It would have pleased me no end to have been his killer. I would have felt like I made a contribution to society. But I'm OK with the cop doing it.

If you didn't know Luther Mahoney, let me explain. He was an intelligent drug dealer in Baltimore whose business resulted in many, many innocent deaths. Luther was a character on Homicide: Life on the Street. That is one of the most extraordinary television dramas I've ever watched. It was cancelled years ago, but my wife and I have rented the DVDs and have been watching the entire program...every season. We're near the end now. Next up: The Wire. The Wire also is set in Baltimore and is said to be even better than Homicide: Life on the Street.

Epic Laziness

I should go into my attic today to find out what's making the noise and, more importantly, what's causing the horrendous odor. But my bones are creaking and my knees hurt. My eyes itch and ache. My mind can't get off work.

So maybe I'll wait until noon, then drink a very cold beer or two and watch the thermometer. Word is our 70 degree temperatures from yesterday will drop to below freezing today. It's already 38 degrees. They (you know, "them," "the others," "the predictor-people") are predicting snow. OK, maybe not beer. Maybe Scotch...but I'll have to go out to buy the Scotch.

My laziness today is epic. I feel like taking a eight-day nap. This is not good. I need the energy of an 8-year-old, yet I have the energy of an 80-year-old.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Partial Reduction of Intellectual Capital

"New Cancun"
Mexican politicians, it seems, are just as stupid and corrupt as their U.S. counterparts. Jalisco Governor Governor Emilio Gonzalez has labeled a massive new developmenet on the southern coast of Mexico a New Cancun, as if Mexico needed any more such playgrounds for American tourists. Jalisco's employee retirement fund, Pensiones del Estado (IPE), has provided more than $90 million to fund the $156 million purchase of 2965 acres in an area known as Estero de Chalacapetec, south of Tomatitlan, which is south of Puerto Vallarta. A private developer called Rasaland provided the remainder of the funds. Like other Mexican playgrounds for rich tourists, the New Cancun will certainly make a few rich Mexicans richer and will provide subsistence wages for Mexicans who will be courted to support the project through the use of lies and false promises of "middle class" incomes. The ecological damage done by such a large project are expected, by some Mexican ecologiests, to be significant.

Guess Who's Benefitting from Rick Perry's Enterprise Fund?
If you guess Rick Perry, you'd be right. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of reasons Rick Perry should not be reelected to another term as Governor of Texas. His Enterprise Fund is a pretty good one, though. A Texas Observer investigation revealed that "20 of the 55 Enterprise Fund companies have either given money directly to Perry’s campaign (through their political action committees or executives) or donated to the Republican Governors Association, a Washington, D.C.-based group that Perry presided over in 2008." Those 20 companies received more than $174 million from the Fund, $2.2 million of which was donated back to Perry and the Republican Governors Association. Tracking the money, which is no small feat, suggests that some of the grants from the Fund wound up in Perry's own pocket, or at least in his campaign fund. I'm voting for "the other guy."

Boston Blackie's Owners Charged with Felony Theft
One of my favorite burger joints while I lived in Chicago was Boston Blackie's. When I was there, the only one (as far as I knew) was on the corner of East Grand and St. Clair, but now they have several locations throughout the city and the suburbs. I read this morning that the owners (father and son) and an employee were charged with felony theft connected with a check kiting scheme. What a shame. I did love their olive burgers.

A $2 Million Demolition
Some people in Syracuse, New York are pissed. See, a crumbling building has forced the closure of some parts of I-81 in the northern part of the city. The building's owner has failed to repair the building. When parts of the building crumbled onto I-81, the city moved to have it demolished. It's still up, but it's days are numbered. I wonder if my Syracuse friend has anything to say about this?

Video Breath
Years ago, when Toys-R-Us was running a horrifically-annoying commercial with an equally-annoying commercial song, I rewrote parts of that song. And here it is, from memory:

I don't want to grow up to be a poisonous pig
'Cause they're ugly and they're hideous and they grow so fucking big
Instead I'll spend my time on hate and death and video breath
And play with my toys alone
I just don't wanna be a poisonous pig.

I was no more of a poet then than I am now.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Menacing Moon

Yesterday, I accused (silently) a client board member of being manic-depressive in the way she deals with me. I should have been speaking into the mirror. Last night I was at the nadir. Today, if a full-moon is the zenith and a new moon is the nadir, I'm at the waxing crescent.

It must be hell to live with someone like that. I know it's a horror to work with that sort of person.

This morning, I'm trying to think of things I can do to replace, or partially replace, my worklife. Something that will help pay the bills and preserve my sanity, or what's left of it. But what?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Being Happy

I can't come to this blog without thinking about my late sister. When I think of writing something, I wonder what she would say to me the next time we spoke; she read the blog, but only very rarely commented online...she reserved her comments for our phone conversations.

Today, I wonder what she'd say about my habit of writing about my perpetual unhappiness with my life in general. Would she tell me to buck up or would she, more likely, express concern that I'm putting myself at risk for stress-related illness. Her solution, of course, probably would be that I should tell my clients to fuck-off, sell the business or its remnants, sell the personal things we don't really need, pack up the rest, sell the house, and follow the road to whereever my dreams take me. She thought that would eliminate my problems. Would that it were so.

My sister never really understood the complexity of my business and how it's really impossible to just up and leave it. Well, I suppose it's possible, but it would haunt me forever if I did. And I think she just wanted me to be happy and hoped that I was right when I suggested, rightly or wrongly, that hitting the road and living an entirely new life would "cure what ails me." My sister was too intelligent to really believe my unhappiness would disappear the moment I became a gypsy. She hoped it would, though, and I think she expected it would move me in the right direction. I'm not so sure whether it would, though.

She was smart enough to recognize that the constancy of my negativity about my worklife was a sign that things weren't right. She knew that I had managed to box myself into a business and a career that were remarkably unsuited the person I am, and probably always have been.

She knew I did not like...almost could not tolerate...anyone being my "boss." Relatively early on in my career, I jetted to the top of some organizations where I worked, becoming the boss. But I was not really the boss. I learned that boards of directors were bosses. And they could take a dislike to me and end my employment. I learned that being in charge of staff was not to my liking. I realized quickly that I had little patience for people who didn't have the same dedication to the job I had, nor did I have much tolerance for people who didn't learn quickly and without provocation.

Yet there I was, the "boss" who was in a position in which I had to hold myself in check when dealing with boards of directors whose members were, in some cases and on their best days, morons. And I had to put up with managing a staff of people who frequently did not measure up to my expectations. Frequently it wasn't the staff's fault; it was the board, which limited my resources so that I was not able to pay people of the caliber I needed and wanted to work with.

When my tolerance of that environment ended and I essentially told one board to either back off or replace me, they replaced me. It didn't take long after that for me to decide that working for a board of directors didn't fit me, nor did serving as "number two" to another Type A. So I started my own business, which put me in the position of reporting to several boards...boards that were my clients. And from there it got progressively worse.

But I tried to overlook the bad side and I hired some staff who could deal with boards instead of having to do it myself. But I couldn't make that a universal situation, so I have had to deal with boards regularly. They're not all bad...not even the majority. But I allow the ones who are to upset me so much that I can barely tolerate making the trip to my office.

My sister would tell me to put my "many talents" as she called them to other uses, things that would take advantage of them but would make me happy. She regularly encouraged me to write, having decided that I was a good writer and knowing that I enjoyed it. But I only enjoy it sometimes...when I'm in the right mood. And that can be a rarity.

I've come to the realization that what I'm after is independence and change. I don't want to do anything for very long. A month or two or three and I'm bored and ready for something new. So, what I am, in fact, is a lazy, self-indulgent complainer who has been unable or unwilling to try to make the best out of situations that are simply requirements of life. I want things that are not NEEDED...they are just wanted. I want. I want. I want. It's so upsetting to realize that I'm just an aging, spoiled brat who's never been happy, despite having been fortunate in so many ways.

I have always had enough money to live a decent life. My wife is wonderful and loves me and puts up with me. My immediate family is composed of people who are good and who I love and who love me. But I'm not satisfied.

I don't want to go to work from 8 to 5 and push paper. I don't want to react to the wishes of people who want things I find offensive or morally corrupt.

I still need to learn from my sister. She adapted to a life of relative poverty and she liked her life. She did things for others and make their lives happier. In her life, she had to adapt to being confined to a wheelchair. She didn't need to feel the freedom to hit the road; she adapted to the constraints life and circumstance placed on her.

My sister tried to teach me that I have what it takes to be happy, that all I have to do is to do what makes me happy. I wish she could have taught me what that is, what makes me happy? Maybe if I just knew what that was, I could be as good a person as she was. Until then, I suppose I'll just complain and bitch about life. What the fuck is it that makes some people like that? I don't like those people. How the hell did I become one?

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Yesterday morning, we held a memorial service for my sister, who died February 19. I say "we," but my niece is the one who did the lion's share of the work of organizing it. She did a magnificent job. My niece and my nephew, her brother, were two of the many people who reaped the rewards of being dearly loved by my sister. My niece lives in the same city where my sister lived, so was able to see her often and benefitted from being near her aunt. And she dearly loved her aunt, and the work she put in to arrange the memorial service showed it clearly. While she and her brother were deeply affected by my sister's death, they were more deeply affected by her life.

My sister was a Catholic, and so is my niece. So it was fitting and right that my niece arranged a service at the Catholic church, though some of my sister's siblings are like fish out of water in that setting. Despite my atheism, the words and actions of the priest and the religious ceremony of yesterday's service moved me. The music...Ave Maria, Amazing Grace, and How Great Thou Art were exceptionally moving and, remembering how much my sister loved that music, made me cry. Some other things moved me even more.

My ex-sister-in-law, my niece's mother, delivered a eulogy that was nothing short of the perfect remembrance of my sister's life. Despite having split from my brother many years ago, she remained close to my sister and her presence was yet another testament to how my sister affected people.

She spoke of all the thousands of thing my sister did for others, from giving people shelter, to handling income tax preparation for people unable to do (or pay for) their own, to making raggedy-ann dolls for children who desperately needed a bright spot in their otherwise dull and dreary and poverty-ridden lives. She described my sister's love of her brothers and sister, and her niece and nephews, and she spoke of the things my sister did that were natural to her but invisible to most others who never saw all the good she was doing. The eulogy described my sister as someone who just naturally helped was just "what she did." One day I will post that eulogy here.

Something else that moved me was the presence at the service of my sister's doctor, who had been her primary physician for ten years or more. He spoke to several of my siblings about her, describing her as "brilliant" and as someone unlike anyone else he had ever known. He said he could talk to her about things he had never been able to with other patients, personal things outside the doctor-patient relationship. "I don't know if you realize how much she did for people. She got things done," he said, "when no one else could," going on to relate an incident in which he had told her of another financially-strapped patient who needed a motorized wheelchair but apparently did not qualify or could not get through the red-tape of getting one. "She didn't need to do anything about it, but she did." He said she got the wheelchair for the guy in a matter of days. "I don't know how she did it, but she did. She was remarkable." I had heard my sister talk about her doctor before, describing him as someone who was not in the profession for the money but, instead, for the opportunity to serve. His presence at my sister's service was a tribute to her, and a tribute to him as well.

Other people who made their way to the memorial service spoke volumes about my sister, too, though the people did not speak. At least three people confined to wheelchairs were there, people my sister had helped in one way or another. I had met one of the people, a man who's probably in his forties, at my sister's apartment not too many months before. Since I had seen him, he had undergone a leg amputation. I remember him wheeling in to the room when my sister had opened the door, looking sheepish as my sister dressed him down for failing to get tax documentation to her earlier so she could help him file his return. Yesterday, when I spoke to him, he said "I don't know what I'm going to do without her." He meant it; he was lost without the help that my sister regularly gave him just to get by in his daily life.

I don't know just how I'm going to do it, but I'm going to keep my sister's legacy alive by doing something to continue her work helping people, particularly people in the apartment building where she lived. The building is for people over age 62 and the mobility-impaired; all residents pay a significant percentage of their income in rent. I want to do something to carry on my sister's work. I'm not going to replicate it...I won't even try...but perhaps I can honor her memory by honoring what turned out to be, in a very real way, her life's work.