Analog PDA

I sometimes feel a little guilty for not having one of those fancy gadgety things for keeping track of my ideas, appointments, to-dos, etc. But I’ve always thought that a PDA would be just another expensive time sink for me. But then I came across this idea for the Hipster PDA at 43 Folders (which I bookmarked post-haste) and fell in love instantly. Just the perfect companion for my duct tape wallet! Both are homemade from cheap ingredients and exact a relatively low overhead cost. And it doesn’t beep at me or anything. Beautiful.

I prefer not to call it a “Hipster PDA” as I find the word “Hipster” to be fraught with undesired pretense. Maybe I’ll call my version a “Poor Man’s PDA” or a “Slacker PDA.” Maybe it’s my “Analog PDA.” Yeah. Well, whatever I call it, I’m already carrying one.

Wednesday Morning Guys

I’ve not written about my Wednesday morning group. Six or seven guys who meet at a local coffe house and share experiences loosely wrapped around the next Sunday’s scripture reading for Mass. I realized driving to work this morning, grateful to the brink of happy tears, how blessed I am to have a group of men to be honest with. These guys have been through some serious shit. Two have lost wives to illness, one has been to the brink of losing a child to cancer (and back), and that’s just for starters. They’re mostly older, so they’ve been through most of what I experiencing now. All have a healthy grasp on their own mortality. All have been through the middle life crisis without acquiring a red sports car or a trophy wife. All are, in their own fashion, a damn sight wiser than I.

When Jesus said “Blessed are they who mourn,” I think he was saying that those who have been to the abyss and back are a great blessing to everybody else. When you go through shit, you are naturally drawn to those who know personally what you’re going through. They are blessed gifts, the mourners, because they can truly empathize and you have to don’t feel so all alone because they are there. That’s how I feel about them. Blessed are the Wednesday Morning Guys.

Poem: They Also Serve

When I consider how my light is spent
E’re half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
Doth God exact day-labor, light denied,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best, his state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.
– John Milton

Having had wrested from me my own expectations for my medium term future on two fronts, having accepted what I thought was God’s Will – help this child, accept this commission – I was at His bidding (or so I thought) speeding over land and ocean without rest. Now I find myself waiting, yet again, for new direction. They also serve who only stand and wait. Good thing.

Back to Reality

Word in the cubes has it that I probably won’t get the management position. Lots of applicants with three “really strong” candidates emerging from the round of interviews. No word as to whether I’m one of the “really strong” candidates. So my chances are 33% at the very possible best. Now the people around me who’ve been talking me up are trying to let me down gently, telling me not to get my hopes up.

Like I told the interviewers, if I’m right for the job, then I want it, if not, then I don’t. What I really want is to find my place. Right now my job is to take all the low-priority, long term projects that nobody else wants to do. If we could just figure out a title for that job I’d feel a little better. Because it looks like I’m going to be stuck with it for a while.

Social Network Analysis

Faced with the possibility of having to become rapidly familiar with the dynamics of a group of people I do not know, and being a math geek at heart, I am intrigued by the concept of Social Network Analysis. Graph theory meets interpersonal communication theory. Here’s an online textbook I’m reading on the subject. So far I’m skeptical about how useful it is in the long run, it might provide me with a good way to organize my accumulating knowledge of a bunch of people I might be suddenly tasked to manage. Maybe.

If you want to influence a group of people, it’d be useful to know who the “hubs” and “boundary spanners” are. Maybe a SNA model could help somewhat. The idea even has it’s own academic journal.

Sick of the Future

I feel like I should write something. But what to write? There’s lots going on, but very little of it is light and entertaining, none of it is philosophical or profound, and none of my kids stories lately are very cute or “aww”-inspiring.

Do I write about our gut-wrenching decision about whether or not to adopt Speedy? The decision that CPS is forcing us to make this week? I could write tons on that. Actually, we’ve made the decision, but I can’t talk about it. Not yet.

Or do I write about the management spot I applied for at work? The one where I had my interview last Thursday and I’m told I did well, for what that’s worth? People tell me that my chances are strong, so strong that my manager is making contingency plans to divide up my laundry list of long-term, low-priority projects. Attending task lead meetings feels like attending my own wake. I feel so past tense. And I feel tenously future tense, waiting for the decision that will either snap me rudely back to the past or catapult me into a fish-out-of-water future in which I will be completely overwhelmed. It’s like, “Hi, I’m your new manager. Please teach me my job.” Do I want that? But then again do I really want my present job after being retagged and reshelved like so much returned merchandise? This contingent existence is mentally numbing.

All the while I am still hanging on to consulting projects where I am trying to help people think about the future. And I am personally sick of the future. I want to take refuge in the present.

And lately, in the present, I don’t have that much to write about.

This One Starfish

“When we get our spiritual house in order, we’ll be dead. This goes on. You arrive at enough certainty to be able to make your way, but it is making it in darkness. Don’t expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust, not certainty.” – Flannery O’Connor

When a six year old throws things and shouts that he doesn’t want to live with you anymore, you can dismiss it as rageful acting out. But when he’s calmed down and says the same thing, what is that? Can a six year old even make that determination? Somehow I doubt either possible answer. How do I act in the best interest of a kid who is so wounded he continues to wound himself? Do I really love him, or do I just love the prospect of helping him, or is there any difference? If I stick to my guns in the face of all logic, am I being faithful in love? Or just prideful and stubborn? How much certainty do you need to make your way?

It occurs to me that no one asked the starfish if they wanted to be thrown back. Maybe they liked the warmth of the sun and resented the hell out of the Boy. If so, was he right to save the starfish from themselves? Or did that only serve to make the Boy feel good? And would the Boy be in the business of throwing starfish if those starfish could sting him in their anger?

None of this makes any sense to me either. I’m just venting, rambling.

When you asked for more kid posts, I bet this wasn’t what you had in mind, huh?

Paean to the KX2

When my local coffee house was bought out, I was worried just a little bit. I mean, this was my place, you know? What were they going to change? Well, the name for one. No big deal there.

Then they changed the coffee. To Lola Savannah. Which totally rocks.

Then they started messing with the takeaway cups. Anyone who picks up coffee on the way to work knows the importance of the takeaway cup. It’s a safety issue. It’s an environemental issue. It’s a “don’t want to burn the crap out of my hand or wear little coffee drips on my shirt all day” issue.

Styrofoam is totally out of vogue and punctures too easily. Double cupping is way wasteful. Those little sleeves are better, but they’re still extra wasted cardboard that don’t play well with many cars’ cup holders.

You need a strong cup with a tight-fitting lid that will insulate sufficiently with one layer only. So, enter the KX2 . Great cup. The fact that there’s no annoying corporate coffee logo is a nice plus.

The only caveat is that the lid is so tight fitting that you need to pay extra attention to making sure you have a good seal when you put the lid on. So when you put the lid on your KX2, pay attention to what you’re doing (a good habit to practice in general, IMO). I know what I’m talking about here.

Anyway, whatever extra the new owners of my local java joint are spending on this baby is worth it. I’d pay a few cents more per cup for the KX2. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Nota bene, independent coffee retailers.

My readers took a vote

My readers took a vote. (Well, the two that are still left that is.) They want me to start posting again, “and not so much of that existential stuff.” They want the kid news, the funny stories, mindless trivia, daily effluvia.

I’ve not been much into blogging lately. I’ll try to do better, promise. Is anyone still out there? I remember back when I used to monitor my hit count daily. Ah, those were the days.

Pico de Gallo

A visitor writes “need words and cords to “Pico de Gallo Song”. any place where I can get just that song? Please advise. Thank you.”

Well, familiar as I am with song, I’ll do the public service of posting the words to the Pico de Gallo song by Trout Fishing In America. I’ll also note that breaking into the song in a loud voice works quite well to quiet a car full of bickering children.

Chorus:
Pico de gallo
You ought to give it a try-o
Even if you’re from Ohio
It’ll get you by-o
Don’t get it in your eye-o
Unless you want to cry-o
So come on don’t be shy-o
Eat some pico de gallo

It’s got jalapenos
I reckon y’all have seen those
They’re kinda hot for gringos
And probably flamingos
Just add some tomatillos
Onions and cilantro
Lime juice and tomatos
You’ve got pico de gallo

(chorus)

It was Cinco de Mayo
And I was down on the Bayou (that’s Bi-yoh to you northern types)
With my good friend Venus de Milo
We were watchin’ Hawaii Five 0
She wanted some French Fry-os
Or maybe apple pie-o
And I said why oh why-o
We’ve got pico de gallo

(chorus. Loudly, as now the children have finally picked up the tune and are singing along)

I don’t know the chords, but it sounds like a pretty simple chord progression. I only sing it accapella myself.