Big Ball o’ Random (or small pile of unassociated items)

1. Kelly made me realize that i did not put out the word on Lucas. After writing about it here, i never closed the loop. He is doing great. His stomach was pretty much settled by the time i got back on Monday. The vet visit on Tuesday was super and he passed all his various blood work and other tests. It was just a simple upset stomach with no larger issues related. That is what i suspected, but it always nice to get more definitive analysis.

2. Last weekend’s trip to NOVA was fantastic.  It was better than i could have imagined it would be.  I am not finished processing and feeling and remembering – but it was a great time.  The music was awesome, and seeing old friends was hard to describe – in a good way.  There are many people who showed up that i did not get to spend much time with, and there were definitely folks missing, and other friends that i did not get to see – but that is kind of the nature of trying to fit twenty plus years of catch-up into one weekend.

JS, TS, NR - photo KAB
NR, KAB, LT, KM(R) - photo some guy we got to snap a shot

Aside from seeing old high school buddies, i got to re-connect with some “newer” friends as well. When i lived in Annandale in 2006/7, Lucas and i made many friends through the Mason District dogpark, but there was one family we bonded with deeply and almost instantly. The whole circumstance is strange in that two less-than-social dudes met, bonded, and have stayed great friends. Like many situations, the dogs had a lot to do with it. Lucas will get along with just about anyone, but he has had few great dog friends. There were a few other street dogs or dogs that got loose regularly that he played with as a puppy before he joined my team. Of course he loved Guthrey. But Fox is the first dog since Guthrey that Lucas really seemed to love. And, Fox was the same way. He also liked to see other dogs, and could get along fine, but had really only had one other dog friend before Lucas. Who knows what the factors involved really are.  Did the dogs know that Mehdi and I had few friends and though we liked being alone, we were also lonely? Did the dogs simply like each other regardless of how the bipeds felt? Is it something deeper but ephemeral – that because these dogs chose us individually, that we were predisposed to like the same kind of people? Is it a combination? I don’t know, but i am glad it happened. I met Mehdi’s wife and we all became close.

N, L, G - Chimbo RVA 2002(ish)

As things do, we drifted apart a bit once i left for India and i had not really gotten back together with them since i came back to the states. In the interim, Fox passed and they have two new friends now. Not being able to bring Lucas to see Mehdi and Maria was the big downside of leaving him home last week, but i still think it was the right call. It was excellent to see my old friends and to meet the new dogs and go on some of our old walks. It did not take us long to discuss and then move past “the missing years”. The stuff i wrote above is of course “the good parts” version of the story. Not that there were problems between us, but that was not a very good time in my life – which is a different story – or a part of much longer story.

FOX - Mason District Dogpark - 06/07

3. La Traviata arrived and i have really enjoyed listening to it this week. I was planning on continuing to refine my Spanish skills (and vocab!) this year, but i may have to hit an educational detour to learn more about the lyrics to this opera. I only know a handful of Italian and have not used it since 1992. But that is quite a decision to make. I love this music and wouldn’t it suck to discover that the lyrics are trite! It is hard to imagine in this case, but let’s face it, most musicals are trite… My mom asked me recently if i wanted to go see a high school musical with her.  She has one private student that she has been teaching for about 8 years, and this girl was making her singing and dancing debut. I asked my mom, “what show is it?” She said, “The Music Man!” I told her, “No. Mom, that is a terrible show.” Which is true. I was in it. Like most musicals, it was fun to be in – and i believe we performed it well – but, like Tim Kelly adaptations, that does not make it a good show. Anyway – i am trying to decide whether or not to learn more about what is happening in La Traviata.

4. One of my very smart friends misused ‘comprised’ in a recent online self-published venture. I spent a few days trying to figure out how to deal with this. I am not a grammar or punctuation or even spelling Nazi like some of my smart friends. But the proper use of words themselves is one of the areas of language that i do care about. Comprise is one of my pet peeves. I do notice and get bugged by the common faults – their, there, they’re and such. But they generally make me less fussed than a misuse of ‘comprise’. People who mess up with something like ‘there’ and ‘their’ may have never learned the difference, or may be lazy, or may have difficulty proofreading. But comprise ain’t one of your common everyday words. It is one of those book learnin’ fancy words. I do not assume that my friend was attempting to put on airs by using the word, but i see this error all the time and generally, it is someone trying to sound smarter than they are, or trying to make their argument sound fancier, or more authoritative.

So here is a good rule of thumb, a fast and loose usage guideline for you folks. ‘Comprise’ means ‘made up of’, ‘consists of’, or ‘composed of’. There are many specific cases we could go through, and i will be happy to address any if you send in your questions, but the most common mistake is people saying ‘comprised of’. As you can see from having just read the definition, saying ‘comprised of’ is like saying ‘composed of of’ which sounds a lot less fancy and authoritative than the user is probably going for. “The US is composed of 50 states.” “The US comprises 50 states.” Those two sentences mean the same thing. That is probably enough said.

Wrapping up now as i want to finish some research and preparation then head down to Maryland for a quick look at REI (i got my 2010 dividend in the mail), and then some hiking.

– – In the next episode –

Exercise update

Spam Bin update

an informal poll on the issue of discussing hiking equipment

2011 Legs!

I had a great run today.  1.59 miles.  9’28” pace.  I felt like i could have gone further, but i made it up the hill without slowing down too much and decided to quit while i was ahead. Hopefully this will leave me cramp free tomorrow and ready to run again.

It was sunny and pleasant, about 60 degrees and i ran in shorts and a T.  There were several other runners out there doing it and not a few nice looking ladies. Given that this is a little college town, with a high school almost on the campus, it would be wise to verify whether or not these gals could even drive – but i have always been a fan of nice scenery on a run.

I made a change for this running season – headphones! No i did not buy any more equipment, i just used my gear to add music to the mix and i think that helped me out.  I stayed mentally loose instead of focusing only on the run and the pain and the pace.

I used my good ole (new-ish) Dr Dre in-ears. I slapped on my winter ear warmer thingy and that kept the gear secure.  Which looked something like this:

Fashercise!

I made a “running” playlist, loaded that onto the old 120 GB iPod classic and set out with that just in my hand.  About half a block in, i slipped the iPod down my shirt, and that worked great for cord management.  I had no cord or road or footstep noise. I also slapped on the super light Ironman sunglasses i got before Mexico. My Nike+ gear still works fine.

The whole package (but i only ran with one iPod)

Back to the mentality – I enjoyed the ‘now’ of the run and was not trying to escape the experience.  But having something else to help give my thoughts a nudge was nice.  I followed thoughts brought on by the changing tunes.  I am an album guy, but i did something i have never done before and would not ever do under other circumstances – i used “shuffle”.

So far, the “Running” playlist has albums by:

RPG – Ratt – Iron Maiden – Wolfmother (*Note – listen to “Dimension”) – the only two White Stripes tunes i like – T Rex – The Stooges – Soundgarden – Pixies – Nirvana – and Metallica

It kicked off with RPG “Right On”, then The Stooges “Gimme Danger”, into Nirvana’s “Nevermind”.  I had a lot of thoughts of Richmond and being on the road with RPG through the first two tracks and then – with just the first notes of Nevermind, into my head pops, “Because i am crippled and i wanna listen to Nirvana!” Which was interesting since i just re-loaded the first four seasons of Friday Night Lights onto my computer to begin a re-watch in preparation for April 15th, the NBC premiere date for the final season.

Good times!

*Note – we stay spoiler free over here at The Bone of Contention so keep your direct tv season 5 secrets to yourself – for now 😉

Yesterdays (in keeping with the recent Billie Holiday theme)

The past few days have been pretty weird.  There is a cloud of multi-flavored nostalgia following me around – sometimes it rains good memories, sometimes bad feelings, and not a few lightning storms of unresolved issues.

I sent two emails to family members to follow-up on some thanksgiving conversations.  One dealt with web design and made me think about my guys in India and my success and failures there.  Our corporate websites and domain names expired quite recently and were not renewed.  I have not really done much with any of those companies in two years, and the websites were not very good – they served more as examples of why I chose to leave than as examples to steer international customers to our shop – but it is still sad to see them go.  I do still talk with my partner Ram regularly and we still talk about and share business ideas, and I do still plan to start more companies outside the US, so you never know what may happen in the future.  The patient was on the table for a long time before anyone had the guts to call it, but the “death” of Red Bananas is still sad.

Me and RamKamal - family celebration at an employee's house
Me, Vijayraj, Ramkaml, and Govind - the birth of Red Bananas

I played some harmonica during thanksgiving which led to a discussion that revealed that a few folks did not know I played harmonica in a metal band for a few years.  So, I wrote a brief thing on being in a metal band and gave a link to the band’s MySpace page which has a few sample tracks, one of which has me playing harp. I had to find a very brief way to mention in the mail to my cousin that this MySpace site does not have my name anywhere.  Truthfully, I am not really sure why that is.  We had a very nice run together.  Things got a little tense between two of us towards the end of my run in the band, some of it musical/band related – some of it personal, but I don’t get it.  So, it just brought up memories of bad times a little more than good times trying to figure out something that I don’t think I ever could figure out.  I try to focus more on the good memories; touring, performing, bathing in creeks, cooking food in parking lots on camp-stoves, feeding XstraightXedgeX kids, coining the catchphrase we put on our business cards “…the straight edge metal band that drinks”, performing on the radio live, playing CBGB, getting to open for Sliang Laos!, and all the rest of the great shows and good times.

I have been thinking about a few cyber-reconnects with folks from the past recently.  Some are comical and fun and some can be confusing.  I have two cyber friends that one could qualify as long lost loves {the loved from afar, love your best friend, never really worked out kinda loves – not the other kind(s)}.  Sometimes it is a little tempting to drop the “so what the hell happened” bomb, but that is actually way more fun to think about (which is not a lot of fun) than it would be to do.  I have been on the other side of some somewhat similar coins, and have actually put some time into thinking how I might answer such a question as well as wondering if I should prepare and freely offer up this info, and the answers just are not fulfilling for the “injured” party.   What can anyone say: I just did not love you, I did not love you the way you loved me, I was a stupid kid and wanted some hot semi-random sex more than poetry and flowers, i did not know you cared, i did not know i was that important to you, your intensity scared me, I did not realize it was such a big deal for you, I know you think you loved me but you did not even know me, I was a big fat faker and did not really know who I was, you did not know who you were, seriously – how could you have loved me, you are great and I was in a terrible place, this is great but i learned i do not want it – take a few minutes and you can continue to fill in this list, none of the answers, even the deeply true ones, provide comfort or itch that place inside you that still needs scratching.

One of these lost loves was with a lady who did have some real problems and seems to be doing very well today.  It makes me really happy to see that, and it makes me want to say that, but I don’t have confidence that I can do it without in the end (or the middle, or near the beginning) turning it around and making it about me – or the me I was then, which by default, makes me try to make her into the her she was then, and that is (in simplistic terms) the person in the time that was having the troubles that I am supposedly so glad that they have overcome?!  And it all gets twisted and fracked up pretty quick.  So, I step away from the keyboard and just be happy from afar.

In part I bring up the “love stuff” because I did get that call recently – the “what in the hey-heck-ho-de-do happened” call and I am not entirely sure how to respond.  This kind of area is one of the only ones in which I have issues wrestling with “the truth”.  In almost every circumstance, I do believe that the truth is the best policy, if for no other reason than it gives you less stuff to remember.  But there is some distinction between leaving things out and lying, and I never know how to deal with this.  When I look back, it seems that all of my “high-minded” attempts to save someone’s feelings by hiding some of the truth did not work out too well.  But this is a different kind of thing.  I am not so much troubled by trying to obfuscate real issues to ease the blow, I am struggling to leave out stuff that is probably not useful or relevant but just hurtful (though entirely true) that I am tempted to say out of my hurt and anger.

And, I have not been in this situation for some time.  I have only really dated two people since about 2000 – one in 2006 for a few months, and one for about a year from 09-10.  There was also one brief fling in the early aughts, and one false start in a long line of false starts with a recurring love interest from high school in 04, and what could have been a complicated sticky international potentially un-requited love mash-up in 05, but – for once – I kept my mouth shut, silently loved from afar, and enjoyed the friendship.

All of these things are fogging up my brain and I am trying to figure out how to vacuum up the thoughts, send them to the right place and make room to get back to work at looking for work.  The situation is getting desperate now as I continue to run out of money and lose sanity living with my folks.  I am still on my most recently developed timetable and things can still fall in line if I manage to hold down my end and put forth appropriate effort, but like sands through the hourglass, these are the times that try men’s souls – or however that goes…

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