Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My life has been taken over by facebook!

I write this entry into my blog for a couple of reasons. 1) now that I linked the RSS feed to my facebook profile, I am going to see if this indeed automatically updates when I post this entry: and 2) to appeal to anyone out there to learn if there is indeed a 12 step type program for those who have adopted facebook.

It all started innocent enough. I had heard of facebook and myspace, and figured they were solely the domain of the young and wired. For those of us who remember when a computer was actually used to compute things, we enjoyed the convenience of e-mail, the joy of digital photography and a few other perks, but this machine was primarily used to manage business contacts, cook the books for the business, and that sort of thing. Not the "ubber connected" generation that seems to have been born with a PDA implanted in their left palm.

A barbershop buddy of mine, Dan Jordan, Lead Extrordinairre of The Perfect Gentlemen, Hi-Fidelity and countless prior quartets, sent me a note inviting me to join facebook and become a "friend". Okay, says I, what's the harm? That led to invites from all over the Far Western District of Barbershopping; now there was a curious and interesting way to keep a little closer contact with some of these guys I only get to see a few times per year.

About the same time, those who created and run the Yahoo Group for my high school reunion wanted to move the group to facebook. Well, I was getting used to the application, so I said I would help out and be a "co-administrator".

I have witnessed facebook grow like a cancer throughout barbershop harmony singers. Invites sent to me, I send to others, I find myself joining fan groups of all sorts of quartets, discussion groups of different aspects of barbershopping, and instant messaging with guys all over barbershop land. I am learning more tidbits of some of these folks than I ever had hoped to know!

Now the high school reunion thing has exploded as well. Not only my class but a general group of all who graduated from good old Piedmont High School in Piedmont, California. Sub groups like one honoring the recent passing of a legendary music instructor or a roundup of who shopped at the local drug store in Piedmont. And now instant messaging with people I haven't known in thirty years!

This has all the characteristics of the proverbial double edged sword. While this explosion of new information is amazing, it is also time consuming. I want to reaquaint with old friends... or folks who were merely periferal characters to my own rites of passage.... but it is a major time bandit!

Someone commented on a picture I posted, so I must answer that. Or I tagged someone else's picture. And it must have a response. Someone made a pithy or salient argument, and one worthy of a little verbal parrying. Or out of the blue, here comes someone for whom I hadn't thought of in these thirty some-odd years, excitedly telling me he just mentioned me to someone last month. (I can think of few higher honors!)

So my screen time has gone up of late. Not only doing billings, sending business correspondence, and the other fun stuff on the computer, but a whole new aspect that was not in my life just two months ago. It can be overwhelming at times.

Don't get me wrong. Not complaining, but trying to be philosphical with my own self. I can manage this thing.... I think. I guess I just have to remind myself of one a minor but memorable James Bond quote from Goldfinger. "Discipline 007, discipline"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Movin' on the west side

It is about 2:20 in the morning, and I have been awake close to 24 hours straight. But I feel very little in the way of "tired", even though my physical body took one of the greatest beatings it has taken in a while.

Today was moving day. Well, to be honest, the last month was moving day, little by little moving our worldly possessions into our new place. A few totes after work each day, bookcases strapped to the top of cars, but today all the "big stuff" came over, and the beginning of winding down the old place.

I had vowed not to participate in any economic downturn, recession or whatever financial malaise has taken hold of our great country. It might mean I work a bit harder, a bit more creatively, whatever it takes, I would make it happen.

We were the fortunate recipients of a situation with friends who's house would not sell at a reasonable price, even though they had committed to relocating. We are leasing their house, stewarding much of their possessions while things settle down three quarters across the country.

For Rachel and me, it is a big move. For ten years I had been in a duplex/condo which had been near perfect for a single guy. Enter my lovely wife and now at three cats, we were doing our best to deal with 950 square feet of two bedrooms and one bath. Love each other as much as we do, but there is just so much space each individual needs.

With the help of my good friend Jeff (whose esteem was greatly raised even higher today), we managed to lift, dolly, struggle most of the behemoth pieces of furniture into a two story house. (someone please tell me who designed the laundry closet upstairs? Hauling a washer and dryer up two flights? But that is a story for another day, and frankly, if that is the worst problem we have in life........)

Rachel cooked her first dinner in our new place, and it was wonderful, even if we ate it with plastic cutlery as the silver has not yet been unpacked. She is fast asleep, as two of the cats who are getting used to their new surroundings. The little girl, Emily, is having great fun in her new place, loving the stairs to scamper about; I guess she is as wired as I am.

Sunday brings more work unpacking, and more cleanup of the old place. Maybe when I have a bit more in me I will write about the whole psychological set of gymnastics one goes through in a process like this. Meanwhile, here are some pictures taken as we moved in. Link to gallery

Saturday, May 3, 2008

High School Musical Chairs

In my last entry, I loudly complained how hard it would be to keep up with this thing! That was nearly two months ago! Between business ramping up for the season, focusing my political writings on a forum, and actually doing some of the household work needed, the blog becomes a low priority. There is an arm's length list of items to cover on both logs over the last two months, so I will try to catch up with both. Look for some barbershop harmony stuff over at Ramble Notes.

I had pretty much cut all ties with my hometown of Piedmont, CA. That was a tough time for me, I probably took the concept of adolescent awkwardness to a new extreme. And I was just as happy to "run away" from the painful memories. But as they say, you can run, but you never can truly hide. One attempts to reinvent one's self, and to some extent that does work. Maybe that is the fuel that ignites the desire to succeed, the desire to work harder and "prove them wrong". But maybe it is more important to prove one's self "wrong", or at least wrong-headed about the past.

A few months ago, I was contacted by maybe the one person I could say was a true friend in that era. Rob and I ran cross country together, played in band together, sat in his room listening to Monty Python albums together. After high school, he went off to college, I stayed in town and in junior college. He went off to start a beautiful family, I remained single. We sort of went our separate ways.

But after about 20 years, I receive an e-mail note from him, titled "Long ago in a far away galaxy", and an apology for being a "slacker" and not staying in touch. I had spent so much energy trying to run from the past, I could hardly believe that someone actually wanted to contact me! WOW!

So Rob and I began an exchange of e-mail notes, catching up on family, work, the impending marriage of his daughter and the running success of his son. I hadn't seen him in twenty years and he invited me to his daughter's wedding!!!! DOUBLE WOW! Unfortunately, the schedule did not permit my attending, but we have vowed to get together and chat about old times, etc.

Here came the real whammy. Rob forwarded the notice about our high school's 30 year reunion. Twenty years ago, the Ten Year reunion, there was still no shortage of pain from the past, so in attending, old wounds did get reopened, even if unintentionally and certainly not by anyone but me. Hence, the desire for the complete break with the past.

In our cyber-age, informational things get accomplished so easily. As a part of the reunion planning process, one of my classmates had set up a Yahoo Group to help plan and do some preliminary communication. So, of course, I joined to get in the loop. I cannot tell you how good it felt for the host/moderator to offer me a warm welcome to the group. We had been sort-of friends in the day, both in music and drama together, but not exactly close mates. But the notes I have been trading with him revealed that he, too, had the same sort of insecurities I had, the same desire and need to make peace with the past and forgive all the pain of that time.

Over the last couple weeks, I have had to take a good long hard look in the psychological mirror, and ask myself just what was going on back then. Of course, one can't change one's past, one can only accept it for what it was. Maybe now that I am stronger, I can look at the past and filter out the pain and just see the good. Maybe the feelings I felt back then were not nearly as drastic as I wanted to make them. Maybe, despite the chip on my shoulder and the feelings of complete inadequacy, people did like me. Or maybe they wanted to like me, but I had such a hard heart and big walls around me that I never allowed people to reach out to me. I was so damn desperately seeking approval that I never allowed myself to accept the friendship and acceptance that was mine for the taking. (whew, I am choked and tearing up as I write this. Probably the "heaviest" entry to date.)

Well, after refilling my cup, scanning in and inserting my senior photo, the tightness in my throat has subsided. That "Scrooge-like" visit with the ghost of the past hurt, but also was revealing to me. As I had said in the earliest entries to this web-log, things kind of come out, the post "writes itself" if one just opens up and lets the words flow. And true to my concept, save for spelling and obvious grammar issues, I am not going to edit for content. It's out there in the open, the soul has been bared, and there is that catharsis in putting it out there.

I am excited as can be about the upcoming reunion. Twenty years ago, I attended with the attitude of "look at me now". But in a couple of months, I am going to attend with the attitude of "I want to look at you now". Twenty, thirty years is a long time. At our souls we are the same people we will always be. But in how we look at the world, and how we react to it, we can change, and hopefully for the better.

As long as I get my act together and keep up with the posts, I will happily report back from the reunion in July!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I knew it would be tough to keep up with this thing

Good Grief, it looks like this is down to a once a week entry! And nothing salient to offer. Well, not completely devoid of ideas, but they have been pretty much confined to a political forum in which I participate. GoldTalk is where I have done most of my political writing; and when I established this web-log, I wanted to specifically stay away from politics. Those who know me well, know that I have been -- to a greater and lesser degree -- a political junkie. But I wanted to explore what else I could do with the written word here. Only go to Gold Talk to look at what I submitted, if you are ready to see where I stand politically. If you agree with my politics, you will like it. If you are from an opposing political stance, you will probably disdain what I have to offer.

At some time I will expand on this, but GoldTalk is where I met Rachel and that provides for a wonderful story in itself.

Hopefully, I will find some time this week to vent my mind on some more stuff here!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tandem Blogs!

As I hinted on last entry, Blogger recovered a web log I created five years ago and never used. Ramble Notes will be devoted to my barbershop harmony experiences. If you care about stuff like that, take a look (linked in above)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A touch with my past

On this rainy day, I have found myself rapt to the on-line coverage of the Amgen Tour of California. This professional bike race approaches the length and challenge of the Tour de France, and seems to be earning a similar prestige. Bike racing is one of those esoteric sports that is as much mental as it is physical. But today the physical is not only highlighted but challenged to the extreme. The riders started in Seaside (near Monterey) and raced down coast Highway 1 to San Luis Obispo 135 miles away. They started at 10:00 AM, and it is now 4:30 PM, and the race is in its last 20 miles. The biggest factor was the weather, with rain and wind in their faces the whole trip. Many of the 120 starters have retired from the race, one even being taken to the hospital with hypothermia.

The technical folks behind the coverage have offered up something wonderful. Almost too good. In the past, I had watched European racing in edited and condensed form. Between two moto-cams and one helicopter-cam, I have been able to follow this thing from start to finish. (link)

Fifteen years and fifty pounds ago, I tried racing bicycles for a few years. It was a frustrating experience. I loved to ride, loved the camaraderie, but never could get my legs turning quite fast enough. Being a bigger guy, I had some value as a "draft horse", the guy that all the smaller riders could get behind, breaking the wind for them. Plus, in exchange for speed, my endurance was very good indeed. As long as things were flat, long, straight and possibly into the wind, I was of value to the racing team. While I was the last up the hill, I was a pretty gutsy descender, and could catch on, or pull other stragglers with me. One year, the team awarded me "Best Draft" and was given a six-pack of Miller Genuine Draft!

Some day I might expound more on the racing thing, but suffice to say, I burned out, couldn't touch a bike for years. A couple of years ago, I bought a pair of used mountain bikes for Rachel and me, and we have enjoyed them, taking to the road or trail with no desire to train or race.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend, who...

Amazing just how things get around the web so fast. And if you are the source of the "thing", you get temporarily elevated to celebrity status! Last week, a couple of old locomotives with some historical value were scrapped here in Oakdale. For those reading who are not fellow Hack Amateur Historians of the Sierra Railroad, I won't bore you with the details, but it seems like I was among the few who got pictures of the demolition.

As a courtesy to my fellow Hack Amateurs, I posted a Picassa Web Album to a couple of discussion forums I haunt. Within a few days, apparently the link had made its way on to other forums and logs, and I started receiving requests to use some of the images for websites devoted to that particular branding and style of locomotive. I don't consider myself a photographer, just a guys who takes pictures and occasionally gets a good one here and there, so I had no problem with sharing my photos around. I guess if I made my living with a camera, I might be less inclined. But a long time ago, I gave up on the idea that anything posted to the internet was anything less than a de-facto public domain, so I don't let myself worry about it too much. Frankly, (and back to the self editing issue) I have to know, that if I offer my writings to the World Wide Web, I shouldn't write anything that I may have to account for later in life. Especially if I believe what the Tin Foil Hat folks tell me that John Ashcroft -- in his retirement -- is personally reading every bit of e-mail and web-log post I create!

It's been a week since I posted, and time is tight this morning as well. Glad to be generating revenue again, but the balance must be maintained. Soon I will be following up on things I wrote about earlier, including the singing Valentines, Boris and the other cats and my internal struggle with the whole concept of "Blogging".

Oh... and by the way, the company that hosts this web-log informed me that I had created an account three years ago, and I never really used it. I think "Random Notes" will be devoted to my experiences with Barbershop Harmony. That should be fun. And if I really keep up with all of this, I may never get any sleep! As a local talk show host has proclaimed "Sleep is a Lousy replacement for coffee!"