Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A visit from an old friend (CORRECTED)

ORION 12/22/07.  The Weather Underground
I greet the arrival of my old friend Orion in late October with mixed emotions. Seeing the great hunter approaching confirms that fall has arrived, the days are getting shorter, the nights longer and colder, and the trees are losing their leaves. Still, its good to see him again.

The constellation Orion is a winter constellation here in North America. In mid-October I can just make him out coming over the Eastern horizon around ten-o'clock at night. By mid-December he is well established high in the Eastern sky by ten. In mid-January he is directly over head at ten.

Besides being the harbinger of fall and winter, Orion's familiarity and regularity does bring a certain degree of comfort. The reddish star Betelgeuse, the three starts (sometimes called the three Kings) of his belt, and the stars and nebula that form his sward makes Orion one of the most interesting, recognizable and beautiful constellations of the winter sky.

ORION:Mouser Williams,wikipedia
Orion brought a travailing companion with him this year. The red planet Mars passed through the constellation Gemini into the constellation Orion this winter. Mars got the closest to Earth it ever gets, and was at its brightest, on December 18, 2007. It is now receding and will not be as bright again until 2016.

I think of Orion as being an old familiar friend. He will be visible from my balcony for another couple of months before his annual visit is over. I will miss him when he's gone but I will gladly welcome the greening of the trees and the long warm days of summer.

Picture credits:
All other pictures are my own work.

The information ref. Mars being it's brightest was incorrect and was based on misinformation. Mars got the closest to earth, and was at its brightest, on August 27, 2003; it will not happen again until year 2287. See: Closest_approaches.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Common acts of living #2 - Laundry day

I'm not making any profound statement here. This is just an observation of one of the many common acts of living. Doing laundry.

The original video was 4:58 but I sped it up 200%.

Throwing-up, doing laundry and going to the grocery store are three of the things I dislike the most. Isn't life hard!

The calendar in the background is the "2008 Chi Chi Larue's smut" calendar - January.

Monday, January 21, 2008

My Existential Crisis

Something has been agitating me for some time now. I can't quite put my finger on exactly what it is that's been bothering me. I am middle aged and rapidly approaching the end of my most productive years so I might be having some kind of Existential Crisis.

Looking around You Tube it appears that I'm not alone. Over the last few weeks I've come across several videos that describe an existential crisis of some form. Most of the Vloggers were between the ages of 19 and 21. Some of them have mentioned feelings of depression and loneliness while others have talked about not knowing what they wanted to be or do with their life and career.

All of the videos struck a deep cord within me. I recall that I too went through a period of depression, loneliness and not knowing what I wanted to do when I was 20 something. It was that time in my life when I was leaving childhood and adolescence behind me and entering adulthood. It was a period of great uncertainty. Will I have friends? Will I have a lover or mate? Will I fit in? Am I any good? What do I have to offer? Can I make a difference?

As I think about my own anxiety and the issues these other vloggers are facing a couple of things stand out. First are the issues being faced: intimacy, efficacy, skill, goals, objectives, mission, purpose, vision, values and beliefs. Can I trust people? Is the world a safe place? Will I fit in? Can I give and receive love? What kind of world do I want to live in? What role will I play? Am I able to fill that role? How do I do that?

The second is the timing of our respective "crises". While I'm not there yet, I can see the end of one stage of my life approaching and the beginning of the next stage coming over the horizon. The other vloggers are likewise transitioning from one stage of their lives to another stage of life, but I think the issues are pretty much the same. The only real difference is they are looking at the issues from the front while I'm looking at them from the back. They are asking "Will I be successful?" while I am asking "Have I been successful?" The questions are the same only the context is different.

To be truthful I can't actually list my values or beliefs. My parents, my religious background and my schooling were to have helped me ask and find answers to those important questions. But, I honestly can not remember ever being taught about beliefs, values, vision, purpose, mission, objectives and goals when I was growing up. Most of what I've learned I learned after I graduated. Perhaps I'm being unfair. When do you teach about goals and objectives? When is the best time to write a personal mission statement?

I learned about Journaling after I graduated. If I knew then what I know now, I would set aside one afternoon a week to think about beliefs, values, vision and mission. And, I would write my thoughts down in a hand written journal. I would spend a couple of afternoons dreaming about how I would like my little part of the world to be in 20 or 30 years and I would write that down in my journal. After awhile, I would try to summarize it all into a short coherent mission statement or credo. While I'm writing in my journal, anytime I thought of something I wanted to do, I would list that as an objective and I would routinely verify that my objectives are in-line with my mission, my vision and my values.

Does this all sound unrealistic? Perhaps it is. It is after all "If I knew then what I know now." I know that those people who I hold in highest esteem and have done the most for society knew exactly what they valued most and they had a mission.

I know that the older I get the fewer do-overs I get. If I knew then what I know now, I would try to do things differently. I would try to have a better understanding of my beliefs and values and have a clearer vision of how I want my future to be. I guess it's never too late but I seriously doubt that I have any do-overs left.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Common acts of living #1

My day is comprised of a number of common routine acts that I do without thinking about them. I get up, fix coffee, bathe, shave, brush, dress, etc. A shave and brush before bed is just an example of some of those common every day acts of living.

Preparing for bed. A shave and a brush.

Hay, this is high art folks! Original was 3:44. This is sped up 200%.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Here today gone tomorrow and what I had for lunch.

I had a really good holiday break. I sat around in my underwear and bathrobe and did absolutely nothing. No pressure or deadlines. My time was my own. It was just what I needed. It felt great!

I bought a new camera. A little Casio pocket digital camera that also takes videos. It works pretty well. That wasn't the only thing I bought. I'll just say I had more than one lapse in judgment over the break.

There was a rather unsettling event at work this week. One of my colleagues was relieved of all of his duties. That is kind of scary. It could have been me! I understand why it was done. But, It really reminds me of just how tenuous my own position is being an "at will employee".

I didn't know I smack my lips like that. That is really annoying! I need to find a way to stop doing that (and not just when making videos!)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Out with the old in with the new. 2007 year end

Today is the first day of a new year. It also means that the south end of the blanket is another year shorter.

2007 was an exceptional year. It offered many opportunities to test and strengthen my personal integrity and perseverance, and provided many opportunities for personal growth. It also came with a promotion and new title at work.

There have been a lot of problems at work for the past several years. Low morale, hostility, even some sexual discrimination. For the past year a group of us has been meeting for several hours every 2 weeks to address these problems. We've had some very intense meetings, and have learned much about ourselves and each other. Everyone in the Division went through a series of workshops and I think things are a little better now but there is more to be done.

Personally, during 2006 and 2007 I had let the apartment where I live become very cluttered and disorganized. In the spring I signed up for an exam cram class to prepare for a certification exam in Information Systems Auditing. I was really excited and looking forward to the class but as the class progressed I found it increasingly difficult to stay interested in it. It wasn't a difficult class and I already knew most of the material.

One Sunday afternoon I was listening to an audio book called "The Art of Aging" by Sherwin B Nuland. I don't remember what he said but I had an "Ah Ha! or a Eureka! moment. A moment of clarity. I suddenly realized why I was feeling so down and burned out, and why I had become so disinterested in the certification class. Between e-mail, more responsibilities at work, the hostility and morale problems at work, my own life issues and the class - I had forgotten what was important. I had lost focus. I didn't need another certification and e-mail isn't really that important - it's an interruption. What is most important is to take care of myself and to be the best person I can be and to do the best job I am able to do.

This epiphany brought immediate relief. I immediately dropped out of the class and set to work on cleaning up the apartment. I felt great!

One of the best experiences of 2007 was when my oldest brother came to town. He took me to see a professional Baseball game! I had never been to a Pro baseball game before. We saw the Rockies and the Mets play - the Rockies won. I had a really good time. It was a real highlight of the year.

Other highlights of 2007 include my promotion, the Unitarian "Standing on the Side of Love" service at the State Capital October 14th, and Eddie and Glens ring dedication ceremony.

I usually don't make New Year resolutions. But, I do here by resolve to place empathy, kindness towards others and civility above all else. I also want to rededicate myself to being a valuable employee at work.

Oh, and I need to be more faithful at doing my leg exercises, lose weight and stop smoking.

May we all have a great 2008!