Sunday, February 6, 2011


Change. It’s such a small word with such big consequences. Some people like change and others not so much. I like the changing of the seasons. Though here in South Texas there is not much change to speak of in that area. But even so, after spending more than half the year with daily temperatures above 80 degrees, it’s nice to have a slight change come fall and winter. But I like the weather overall in this part of the country, so after New Year’s Day, I am usually thinking about when it will get warm again.

So could you say I like the weather change or I don’t? Hmmm.

I like to change the arrangement of furniture in my house every now and then. I like the different perspective it brings to a room. When I come into that room after the furniture has been moved around, it’s almost like I am living in a new space. So I got the feeling of new living quarters without the cost. Strangely though, I have recently acquired larger pieces of furniture which are much harder to move to a new location. My couch is bigger. My bed is bigger. Heck even the TV is bigger. So has success (in that I can afford bigger stuff) thwarted my ability to change? Wow—I just compared furniture to a psychological barrier to a life transformation. Either that was a sucky metaphor or I have some intense furniture!

But sometimes people like me who enjoy certain changes are extremely resistant to others.

Example I have been thinking about, hell, sometimes fantasizing and dreaming about, a new job. I know I am blessed and fortunate to have a way to make a living in this uncertain economy. But even in a bad economy, a person can be in a less than perfect job situation. And so the current lack of abundant jobs has been a reason for my lack of effort to make this move. My job situation can best be described as an emotional roller coaster. On certain days, everything about it is just fine. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy solving problems with limited resources. I enjoy providing quality goods and services for the customers I encounter. Those are the peaks in the roller coaster ride. But what I do not enjoy are the valleys on this ride. Those are the days in which, through no fault of my own, I am suddenly chastised because the rules have changed. And I was not informed of the rules change so I invariably break the rules. (I blame genetics for this, I really do. My family has been known to have bad luck for years. We do not win raffles; if a product has the possibility of breaking, it’s the one we buy off the shelf; and we stay as far away from Vegas as we can.) So of course, if rules change without my knowledge, I will find a way to break those rules, and then I am in trouble. So you can see that I should welcome the change for a new job, were one to present itself to me.

Well said job presented itself to me. And I resisted. As a matter of fact, I actually did more than resist; I turned down the opportunity. Now it was not the ideal job. And I am not looking for the ideal job. Hey if Google sent me an email or called me saying would I come to Mountain View to work for them, I could overcome just about any psychological barrier to get on that plane and say “C-YA!” to my employers. I don’t expect that job to present itself. But, due to some networking connections, a decent opportunity did present itself.

Like I said, it was not the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. There were some concerns I had such as I would have to give up a significant amount of free time prior to getting the job. Then once I had the job secured, I might have to work longer hours. But there were also many benefits to the job. I would office in artsy-fartsy central of SA. I would have a ton of autonomy. And I would be making connections with fairly wealthy people on a regular basis.

So what the hell was my problem? That is what I have been asking myself ever since I made the decision. Well that’s not completely true. I have had my good days on the roller coaster ride but hitting several valleys in a row (yeah I know that is not possible on a roller coaster unless of course, you hit a valley, then go lower, then go lower until you are underground—wait I think I just described my job. Hey I can still laugh about it!) has made me rethink my decision.

So what is stopping me? I know pretty much the situation on both sides. Staying means more of the same highs and lows, with the lows seeming to outnumber the highs for the last several months. Jumping into the new situation means some certainties and other uncertainties.

Ah there’s the rub, isn’t it?

It’s the fear of the unknown. If I stay at the present job, I know what can be expected. But that is only to some degree. But then again if something unforeseen happens, I can rationalize to myself that I was taking the best course I knew at the time. In the end, though, I am only offering an explanation to myself, no one else. So either way, if something unforeseen happens, I have to cope with it.

Sure there is less possibility of something unforeseen happening in the present situation. So it is safer, then, isn’t it?

Strangely enough, I have a similar situation with, well, trying to decide whether to buy a new truck. Yes it is not as life changing as a job. But I am still dealing with unknowns, all financial. Safe means staying with the present vehicle, though I’ve heard about problems with the model and it just doesn’t seem well put together. Fear means buying a new vehicle that I know will be better mechanically but I don’t know if my gas costs will rise.

Looking into the abyss, I don’t know what dangers lurk. But I know that adventures and wonder and good fortune make be hiding there. Until I leap, it’s an unknown. After I leap, it’s too late.

Or is it?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Gift that Keeps Giving

Divorce is the *gift* that just keeps giving. Just when I think that the majority of the surprises are behind me, one creeps in, kicks a few table legs so I know it’s in the room, and when acknowledged, says, “Guess what” I’m one thing you did not think of.

Because of FB, I get the opportunity to see my daughter’s thoughts, when she chooses to share them there. There has been nothing bad; on the contrary she is making comments about having fun in various activities.

My insecurity lies in the fact that she is having fun without me. She is having fun with her mom. Of course I want her to have a good relationship with her mom. With the way she was treated last summer by that person, I was not sure that was possible. Apparently it is. Again, that does not make me sad or resentful or even jealous.

My insecurity, and that is where this feeling originates, is because I am not sure I am doing whatever it is that I am supposed to do to make her happy when she is with me. The divorce course that I took warned against being a “Disney Dad,” that is, buying the child’s love and happiness with gifts. (Strange that this obviously has occurred enough times that it has its own phrase in divorce lingo. Strange, or sad.)

I am truly glad she is enjoying the activities. But I got a sense of guilt—was I scheduling enough fun activities also. And one of the activities was bowling, which is not difficult nor expensive. Another was having a friend over for a sleepover, or whatever 15 year olds call it today.

I guess I won’t find the answer by writing it down here. I will only find the answer by being present in the moment with her, and when possible, scheduling a few activities myself.


I had put this posting on this blog several months ago. I took it down shortly thereafter, but I really don't know why. So I am putting it up once more--unedited so the timelines are not correct for today.

Today is one month anniversary of the divorce being finalized. I thought final was supposed to mean final, as in no more hassle with that crap. But one month after the papers were signed there are still one or two things in a state of flux.

First because the ex decided to find an attorney from a fortune cookie or maybe in the bottom of a box of cracker jack (is that still made—hang on—googling—yes somewhere you can still buy Cracker Jack—good to know) we slog through the mess he made of the child support paperwork. Simply put, he did not file the correct forms or did not file all the required forms. Then to complicate matters, he is not responsive to anyone. He works on his own schedule. This has been one of the most frustrating parts about all of this. Not only do I have to put up with the hassle of continuing to communicate with the person I like least at the moment, I cannot get past the mundane tasks of the divorce. And why is this--because of her choices. So once again her bad choices affect my day too day life. Luckily I have a pretty good attorney on my side. At lease I feel like she knows what she is doing. So I am not without resources to get this solved.

I have not written about this part, but the emotional distress on me due to the divorce has been very little to nothing at all. This is because I felt the emotional connection was over a long time ago. My emotional hassles in all of this have been frustration at how she has handled issues which did not need to be handled so they were ugly or dirty, but that is how she chose to handle these things. And I hate the effect it has had on Linda. She has had to change schools, move to a different home and basically start fresh.

But it has brought Linda and me closer. So that is a positive.

What’s next for me? Opportunities are unknown but they are out there waiting. I embrace the new chapter.

New addition added on 01/23/11
In the end, my attorney was crap too. Apparently she cared until it became a hassle and inconvenient to care. I was almost to the point of reporting her to, well whomever one reports crappy attorneys to.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


For many years, my two dogs have lived outside. Their entire existence, except for the rare dash into the house, was the backyard. For dogs, they had a good life. They got fed each day, could explore the yard, bark at passers-by and chase a ball once in a while and got regular belly rubs.

But something was missing.

After my divorce I started thinking about maybe, just maybe letting them come inside more. My daughter moved out to live with her mother and took her border collie with her. The border collie was an indoor dog. So I already knew what to expect—some shedding (vacuum cleaners need jobs too) and the occasional muddy paw print on the tile floor.

The oldest dog, Pongo,, somehow sensed that she belonged inside. She would try to go into the house whenever she was near the door. Nah—she could not really “know” I was thinking about bringing them in.

Besides they have lived their entire lives of 13 years outside. Conventional wisdom said they were not house broken and as soon as nature calls, they would take care of business wherever they are, including the living room.

Then a trip the vet forced me to rethink this. Ariel, the middle dog, tested positive for heart worm disease. The treatment requires that the dog is kept very calm for many weeks, as long as three months. Okay, I reasoned, calm I could do. I could keep her confined to one part of the yard and she won’t have a chance to exert herself. Nope—not good enough according to the vet. She had to be inside, out of our extreme summer heat of 100 degree temps.

Well, that was it—she was going to move in if I wanted her to survive the treatment. This is not a problem—I could confine her to the kitchen area. If she made a mess, it would be easy to clean off a tile floor. Strangely, she never once made a mess.

The first night she was very confused. A lot of crying and pacing. Then she laid down. That was it. As soon as she was able to fall asleep on the “comfort” of the kitchen floor, she was an indoor dog.

As the weeks went by I felt really bad for telling Pongo, the oldest dog, that she had to stay outside all night while her “sister” could come in. Slowly I started letting Pongo come in too. Her acclamation to indoor life was much slower. She was very hyper every time I let her in, so much so that I could only handle about 20 minutes of this hyper dog before I put her back outside.

But I did not give up. I kept bringing her in and tried to let her get used to the space at her own pace. She would explore, sniff and find her way in this new world.

Then one day, it happened! She calmed down enough to actually lay down. Of course, as soon as I noticed this, she noticed me noticing her and got right back up with renewed energy.

Again, she and I were making progress, but she could still be a wild dog that had a habit of knocking things over. Back outside she went. I would tell her as she gave me the big puppy eyes (what other kind of eyes can a dog use on a person) that she could eventually come inside. Yeah she understood zero of that but liked it that I was talking to her in a calm voice.

Meanwhile Ariel was loving her new existence as an indoor dog. She had a bed and slept soundly through the night.

Then I tried giving Pongo her own space too. I put together an old blanket and a sheet. That was the step she was waiting for. Once she knew she had a space to call her own, just like the other dog, she was calm. Well, she was calm-er.

Okay we just lost several readers who closed the browser or headed back to Google to find a less crazy article to read.

Yes I said that Pongo realized Ariel had something she did not.

Now both of them are indoor dogs. Neither one messes in the house. Of course common sense is still needed. I cannot leave them in the house for many, many hours unattended. And I have to keep certain items out of their reach or behind a closed door.

As a writer, I despise clichés. I think a cliché is a lazy way to make a point. But I approached this whole situation with an old cliché in my mind—you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. These two old dogs either were never told to abide by that, maybe they’re not that old, or the saying is not true all the time.

I also learned something about myself. I had a desire to have indoor dogs. I wanted the dogs to be near me more hours in the day. I knew it would be good for them and for me. So, even though I was skeptical, I had a desire to make something happen. I acted on it. I planned. I tried some tactics that did not work. I tried some new tactics until I found something that did work. I did not give up. Now I have indoor dogs.

I wonder what else I can accomplish? Hmmmm.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Internet Radio

A friend introduced me to a new world online that I knew probably existed, but never, for some reason, went looking for it. Private, personal internet radio stations and radio shows. She told me she did a radio show once a week online. She sent me a link and I listened to the show. Her show is whatever she wants it to be. She plays music—any music she chooses—that she happens to own—and talks when she feels like it.

I knew this had to be 'out there somewhere'' in the expanse of the internet and I was surprised that I never had the curiosity to find it. I'll waste at least 20 minutes or more looking for the name of an actor in just one episode of some TV show from the 80s, but did not think to look for gems like personal radio stations.

Anyway, so what is the big deal?

The big deal is that this was happening in the early days of radio in the 1950s and 1960s. The biggest name of course was Wolfman Jack, but there were others too. These were the trailblazers who defied the laws and broadcast whatever they wanted. Later, there were many, many more who did this legally. The legal guys used small transmitters barely capable of reaching 10 or 20 miles, if that. But the idea was exactly the same—play a radio show of whatever you want, whenever you want.

Another friend of mine used to lament the fact that there are so few stations that do not cater to the mainstream but rather play the huge selection of great music that is available but not necessarily popular. If you listen to radio at all, you know this is true. Commercial radio stations play the popular music—sure there are different musical formats—but if it is a commercial radio station, 95% are playing only popular music.

The rationale is not hard to understand. Money is required to operate a radio station. The money to operate a commercial radio station comes from the advertisers. Advertisers want a return on their investment, that is, they want to sell more products or services due to their radio advertising. If only a few people are listening to the radio station, only a few will hear the advertiser’s commercials. No return for them means no money for that radio station.

But remove money from the equation and a whole new world of programming possibilities arises. Not only music, but news, sports, commentary, even public service information can be disseminated freely. However since the people providing such wonderful programming still have to make a living themselves, they won’t do this on a full time basis. It will only be offered as their free time permits.

However, this runs contrary to a need our modern society has created. Instant gratification. We don’t want to wait until the person giving us this wonderful, custom radio experience is able to do so. We want it whenever we feel the need.

Years ago, even before television news was available every day, if you wanted news, you waited until the daily newspaper was delivered to you. You might not know of a dramatic event until 24 hours after it happened. Strangely enough, that was okay back then.

Because of this instant-gratification need of ours, we overlook the fine radio programming that could be ours, if we simply were willing to wait. Teenagers in the 1960s had to wait at least till the next night to hear the music and personality they could not get on a regular radio station. Maybe we should be willing to wait for quality too and just enjoy it while it is available.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


This evening's blog will be about the creative people, present and past, who inspire me. My problem with not writing as much as I should have over the past several years is not lack of talent. It is lack of drive and confidence in what I have to say. When I really get into the writing, I'm good. I'm damn good and when I really try, it gets noticed.

So why don't I try more? Distractions in the form of job stress, fatigue caused by the job, family activities, and again that gnawing feeling that it is not worth a crap. There lies the contradiction. Two sentences earlier I said I am good. Then I say I feel like I am not good. So the answer is BIC time. For non-writers that is Butt-In-Chair time. Just plant the rear in the chair for a set amount of time and don't allow it to come out of the chair until that time is up. This method has been proven successful again and again and again.

And many of these creative people knew this or know this. Though they had a passion for their art, they would not have been successful if the distractions of life got in the way.

Syd Barrett; Benny Andersson ; Bjorn Ulvaeus; Ansel Adams; John Lennon; Gene Roddenberry; Charles Dickens; the writer of the Christmas commercial for Salvation Army bell-ringers; and of course many many many more.

Want to Be More Productive Today

Beginning day two—okay so really this is day three. I began showing cold symptoms yesterday and when it came time to blog, my heart was up to it but my runny nose told me to go to bed. But I told my nose that it would not allow me to skip a day; I would have to blog twice tomorrow, which is now today.

I felt somewhat productive yesterday. I worked on the character conversation more. I say 'somewhat' because that did not add any words at all to the book itself. However, it's possible that it did add words—the stuff I worked on yesterday could end up in the book. More to be done today, but I want to only congratulate myself if I make actual progress on the book.

Another voice inside my head tells me that what I am doing here is actually progress. That voice reminds me that many days and weeks go by during which time absolutely nothing is written. A writer is supposed to write, right? And I am writing. The voice needs to remind me that many writers out there write only blogs and many of them are successful.

Hey, if I could add something to the book and begin work on the freelance stuff at the same time, then I would really feel productive.