tranquility, interrupted

My extended Thanksgiving weekend was, on the whole, a peaceful, tranquil affair. We had an excellent repast on Thursday, followed by turkey leftovers with Mrs. Geek’s family on Friday evening. Saturday showed all the signs of being more of the same, until I decided to make my usual Saturday morning phone call to my parents. My Mom and Dad abruptly ended the call when my Mom got fed up with something that my brother-in-law was doing and felt it necessary to get into a heated, noisy argument with him.

I’ve written before about how my sister and her family are living with my parents until they get back on their feet. While my brother-in-law has caused everyone some anxiety during his time under my parents roof, my parents usually like to keep a lot of the details under wraps. They (correctly) reason that we can’t worry about what we don’t know about… though Mrs. Geek and I seem to spend a fair amount of time wondering if there isn’t something we could do, or how the health of our marriage compares with that of my sister. So, it was something of a surprise to hear things suddenly boil over while we were on the phone together. They told me that they would call back later.

After several slightly anxious hours of waiting through Saturday afternoon and evening, I called my parents back. They were just returning from an evening out with friends of theirs. My Mom and I spoke carefully at first, each trying to feel the other out about how this incident was perceived. We then gradually opened up, and I spoke with my Mom for about an hour.

I can’t go into the details, but things are not going well. Though there are no formal plans in place, my sister and her husband appear to be preparing to go their separate ways. I don’t know quite how to feel about that…

Perhaps bittersweet is the best word. I am glad that a trying relationship for my sister and my immediate family is ending, but dark days lay ahead.


I have nothing to do today. Well, nearly nothing… we have to go have dinner with Mrs. Geek’s relatives to help devour the leftovers. Beyond that, I have pretty much nothing I need to do.

I need the time off. The work from the last few weeks has been eating away at me. I’ve felt so tired recently that I find myself forgetting how I want to finish sentences while I’m speaking them. My digestion is off. The only thing that’s kept me going is nervous energy.

Turkey Day with our friends D. and J. was a fine time. They served a dinner in about four courses: some horsd’ouvres, a soup course, the main course, and a dessert course. The first course consisted of bread and pate and various savory pastries with a charming riesling. The soup course was a butternut squash soup with a very nice viognier. The main course was a delicious heritage breed roast turkey and side dishes with a good pinot noir. The dessert course was a pumpkin cobbler and some pecan pie with a dessert wine. We watched the movie Love Actually between the first two courses. We also played a hilarious game of Apples To Apples. I brought the pecan pie, some twice-baked potatoes and a selection of single malt scotch, which we consumed after dinner.

a deep cleansing breath

My weekend was a like a deep, cleansing breath. It was a pause between moments of frantic chaos. It was nice, and very appreciated.

I did not have high hopes for much peace in the immediate future as Friday approached last week. Everything was one technical crisis after another. To top it all off, Fate somehow decided that the networking request we’d put in, oh about a month ago, was finally going to be fulfilled at 2pm on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Since I was the only one around to do much of the work, I ended staying in a computer lab at Company O. until about 10:30pm on a Friday night.

My plans for Saturday were to return to my old grad school stomping grounds to see J., get my hair cut, and visit with a grad student who has my old job (more or less). The afternoon turned out to be a wonderful bit of nostalgia. The grad student lives on campus about two buildings over from where I lived when I first arrived from the Land Of My Birth. We spent a couple easy going hours with me explaining some of the bits of how the system I helped build, and he helps to maintain. He then took me out for a beer on the other side of campus to thank me for my trouble. We walked there and back, and I was reminded how absolutely, positively lovely the campus was… and how many good times I had there.

As a small added bonus, I found some nice canvas grocery shopping bags. I don’t like paper or plastic grocery bags… they just seem to build up around the apartment, and I always forget to bring the plastic bags back to the store to be recycled. I first hopped on the canvas bag train almost 15 years ago, and I still have those bags. I’ve gotten more bags in the interim, but recently damaged them by forgetting that canvas bags are most definitely “line dry only”. A lot of grocery stores around here have stopped carrying them… even though nearby municipalities are threatening to tax grocery bags because of their contribution to the landfill. They carry these things made out of recycled plastic fibers that feel flimsy to me. In any case, I found some great canvas bags, with a nice bright, colorful image on one side.

Sunday was dedicated to a major sporting event. A member of a local sports team was retiring… and we decided to attend the game where his retirement was celebrated. I was not in the best of moods to be amongst a large crowd of screaming fans… but I had a good time. I didn’t yell or scream at all, but it was a good game to watch and it’s always fun to see these things live instead of in your living room.

I also made the mistake of visiting an audio listening room in a nearby electronics store. I got to hear a side by side comparison of the mass-market stereo speakers (by a reputable maker) that I own with those in the next two higher product lines. Wow. My speakers really sound kind of muddy in comparison. *sigh* It gives me a case of gadget envy… but there’s not much I can do about it. I haven’t been spending much time listening to music on the speakers I have. I also don’t have the money. So, I have to be an adult, and recognize that better speakers, like a performance car, are outside my reach right now. *double sigh*

In the end, the weekend was a very pleasant distraction. I was able to break routine in a good, low stress way. It gave me the perspective I needed to dive back into the chaos of this week, to get me to Wednesday and the start of Thanksgiving vacation.

another open letter to Britney Spears, from her navel

Dear Britney,

You go girl! We finally decided to break up with Ol’ Stupid Head Kevin. I don’t know how we ever stayed with him as long as we did. He has the most foul mouthed little navel… I could barely stand getting near it whenever we had sex together. What ever possessed us to get together with him? I’ll bet it was our left breast, whispering all sorts of bad advice into your ear — I know that sounds bitchy, but the left breast and I haven’t been on good speaking terms for nearly a year now. In any case, good riddance! We’re free!

I heard that Ol’ Stupid Head has copies of our honeymoon sex tapes that he’s willing to sell just to line his pockets. How did we let this happen? Were’nt those tapes supposed to be locked up in a safe somewhere? I know, it’s the left breast talking again. She probably said “Oh let him take them on the road, while he’s lonely on his concert tour.” I’ll bet Ol’ Stupid Head was showing those tapes to his posse in his hotel room… when there wasn’t some tramp there to distract him.

What I say next has got to fall into the category of “tough love”: don’t let Ol’ Stupid Head get the better of you with those sex tapes. I know that there are going to be a ton of people around you who say “But that tape will kill your career!!!” Did a sex tape hurt Pamela Anderson? Did a sex tape hurt Paris Hilton? Did that smutty book and banned music video hurt Madonna? Did those messages on Eminem’s machine hurt Mariah Carey? I think not.

No, the only reason that people might be worried is because they cling to a false idea of the Britney mystique. They want to remember the adolescent Britney in the “Hit Me Baby (One More Time)” video. Or they want to remember the virginal Britney who went out with Justin Timberlake. Let’s face facts; those days are past. We’re mother with two small children who had her own reality series in which she discussed her favorite sexual position with her entourage. Plus, with all the clothes we’ve worn, there’s not much skin that the public hasn’t seen at this point. The only thing you have to worry about is if the public will think that sex with us is boring… and our concerts are all about the simulated sex (*sigh* not the singing). The Britney mystique has to change.

Let Ol’ Stupid Head go. What’s he going to do once he releases that sex tape? You can sue him for the proceeds, since it could materially damage your image, and is community property. After that, he’s only got a career in porn… maybe… and he’ll never get a judge to let him have custody once that happens.Let him rot.

So cheer up! We’re on the mend now! It’s new day coming!


Your navel.

another day, another bad job interview

I had another job interview today. I don’t think it went well. The position was for something that I know I could do… but is not in my primary area of interest or expertise. So, I was a little nervous going into the interview. I was also concerned that I was going to have someone with a heavy foreign accent interviewing me… which does not help matters when I am already nervous about the outcome. In the end, the person interviewing me spoke English with a thick Chinese accent, and we couldn’t seem to arrive at a meeting of the minds on the solution to one of the technical questions she posed. I probably wasn’t explaining myself well. *sigh*

I feel like I have a handicap when it comes to looking for work. I know a lot about several different things… but I don’t seem to be enough of an expert in the exact two to four things needed to get the kinds of positions that I am applying for. My broad range of skills seems to be something that is a real asset to Company O., but I guess I haven’t found the right job listing yet… because no one else seems to see things my way.

a new morning in America

I need to apologize to you, Sir. You came on our program a while back and I suggested to you that the Democrats should propose some sort of platform of decisive action and you said “No, we’ve got these doorknockers we’re going to put on people’s homes.”
– Jon Stewart to Howard Dean on
The Daily Show

, Nov 8, 2006

After feeling pronounced disappointment in the level of competence and scruples displayed by many of our national elected officials, I was quite pleased to wake up yesterday morning in an America where the Democratic Party gets to contribute to the national agenda. I am even more pleased in the time since to see that the Democrats will control both Houses of Congress come January, not just one. True, they may screw up this opportunity completely in the next two years, but I like the way that the Democratic Party generally leans than the Republican… making their screw ups more palatable to me. At the very least, some of the fat, lazy bastards in office, drunk on power have finally been kicked to the curb.

I recall reading some time back that the Democratic Party election strategy for 2006 would be to focus on local messages, rather than a unified, sweeping ideological mandate. There were many in the liberal left I think who saw this as a retreat; they wanted to make some grand articulation of liberal ideals that everyone could believe in. In restrospect, this choice seems to be a somewhat clever piece of campaign jiu-jitsu. Knowing that Karl Rove loves to run an extremely negative campaign, the lack of national message provided less fuel for the fires… and the Republicans were forced to run on their record.

Of course, I also think that the Democratic Party had also lost its will to go out and practice some good, old-fashioned press-the-flesh style politicing. The party had too long relied on organized labor and other proxy organizations to get out the vote. Those groups are still important, but so is meeting people, knocking on doors, and making phone calls. As Howard Dean noted in his interview with Jon Stewart, the Democratic Party kind of forgot how to go out there and go ask people for their vote. Certainly, many of the newly-minted, incoming members of won because they put people out there on the ground, and in the community. That’s how democracy should work.

I hope that everyone is ready to roll up their sleeves and start working on creating a better government. God knows, we need it.


There are a lot of things I wish I could be discussing here today. My hopes that today’s election could bring about some kind of change and my thoughts on electronic voting machines after seeing the documentary Hacking Democracy on HBO over the weekend are but two of many issues on my mind of late.

Sadly, the biggest thing on my mind is my personal finances. I don’t want to mention many particulars, but I discovered yesterday that Mrs. Geek and I have a large bill to pay. The size of the amount we owe and the source are causing both Mrs. Geek and I some anxiety. It made for some rather tense discussions between us last night.

The situation could be much worse as far as the money is concerned. The last few months have been good, financially. We have some savings to draw on, and this all can be dealt with rather quickly. It knocks us a few months back in terms of what we have saved. I just regret that we have to pay at all… it was all probably avoidable.