madness and euphoria

I believe I have mentioned here several times that I am job hunting right now. Mrs. Geek and I want to relocate to a different area where housing is much more affordable. I am trying to find a job that will let us do this.

The big news around here right now is that I got an invite to come and interview from a software company in the area where we want to live. It’s a big company, one that you most definitely have heard of. I would potentially be working in a division of the company that is a good match for my background and professional interests.

How do I feel about this? I am alternately euphoric about this level of interest in me, and feeling slightly ill with nerves. I feel optimistic about the possibilities, but then I look at the reading list attached to the interview offer (yes… there are a selection of classic and semi-classic computer science texts that they recommend cracking open before the visit) and wonder if can I really pull this off. The fact that this all possibly could actually happen also is starting to sink in… and that takes me outside my comfort zone, making me anxious.

I tossed and turned last night, fixated on dreams where a potential employer was asking me to show up either for the interview or the first day of work (I don’t remember which) in a dress. An ugly, floral print summer dress with shoulder pads.

Oops… did I say that last part out loud? Oh well.

a quiet, productive day

I worked from home today. I needed some time away from the hustle and bustle of the office. I needed some quiet space around me, time to let my thoughts out of head. It seems that I’ve been running from one crisis to another at work, and moving from one meeting to the next. I needed to make it all stop.

Today was all that, and quite productive too. I am rather amazed at how productive I can be from home these days. That is to be expected though… when you spend significant effort trying to make machines in a computer lab accessible to colleagues half way around the world, going a few extra miles from my desk at work to my desk at home is chicken feed.

Today, I worked on an internal white paper, re-installed an operating system on a server, filed one software bug, worked on another… read, researched, and even did the odd bit of instant messaging.

I wish more of my days were like today — productivity and ease, all at once.

take that, oliver stone!

I happened upon a very interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times today by Gerald Posner. Some previously-unknown home movies of John F. Kennedy’s motorcade in Dallas have surfaced. The movies show the Presidential limousine passing the cameraman about 90 seconds before it made that infamous turn past the Texas book depository and passed into destiny.

I hope the movie makes Oliver Stone livid. I won’t go into all the specifics, but it turns out that a bullet hole in JFK’s shirt and jacket at the back of his neck is one of the lynch pins of the “magic bullet” conspiracy theory that ol’ Ollie had Kevin Costner go on and on about in JFK. The hole was too low, the conspiracy theorists said. It must have been made by another bullet from another gunman. Well, the film clearly shows that JFK’s shirt and jacket were bunched up by the car seat toward his head.

Beyond all that, the film is beautiful. It captures some of the best images of Jackie Kennedy taken on that day in her pink coat and pillbox hat. Seeing that, I get a flash of what must have been so exciting about the heady days of Camelot. They were a beautiful couple… even knowing now about what their private lives were like. There was a glamor, an energy about them that seems seems in the flat, poorly dressed politicians and policy wonks of today. Rest in peace, Jack and Jackie… you are beyond our crushing grasp now, except in our fading memories.

the “normal” one

I got some sad news about my soon-to-be ex-brother-in-law over the weekend. One part of his plans for the immediate future was to go back to school to pursue a career as a high school teacher. To this end, he started attending the spring 2007 semester at a local university to get his Masters in Education. The semester started about three weeks ago. He withdrew from the University last week after receiving some critical feedback from his academic advisor. We don’t know precisely what that feedback was, but he was able to move out of my parents’ home using student loans. This move has left him with few material possessions (much of his and my sister’s stuff was destroyed by water damage in a storage unit last year), no income, and absolutely no prospects. He seems bent on self destruction.

Mrs. Geek and I have discussed this news a lot. Part of what we keep wondering is why my sister stayed with this man for such a long time. During one such conversation, Mrs. Geek said (comparing my sister and myself) “I’m glad I met the normal one”. I almost visibly winced. The comment seemed rather harsh, but I understood what Mrs. Geek was talking about. I’ve certainly had my share of bad dates and romantic misadventures, but I think I chose well when it came time to marry. My sister chose someone who set off warning flags with me and my parents almost as soon as we met him — my Mom told me about ten years ago that she worried what would happen if my sister and her boyfriend (now husband, soon ex-husband) had children. She felt that he might not be able to handle it and self destruct. The actual circumstances were a little more complicated than that, but that statement essentially describes what happened.

I find myself trying to empathize with my brother-in-law. He’s facing bleak choices… and doing so without a lot of the support network that I have. It has to be hard, but several people have suggested that he needed to get some help and deal with the personal demons that have brought him to this point. He didn’t heed that advise and he is cut off, continuing down a path that apparently leads nowhere. My poor sister and her son. This man is always going to be a part of their lives. I hope he finds a way up from rock bottom soon.

checking my karmic credit rating

Mrs. Geek and I are heading to the Winter open house at Winery R. with friends on Sunday. This event has not been good to me during the last two years. Last year, I got in an auto accident. Two years ago, I spent the day with wet socks and the feeling of cold water sloshing between my toes thanks to a faulty pair of shoes and a lot of rain. I need to mind my p’s and q’s this weekend — history is against me.

maple syrup memories

Some of my earliest memories seem to involve maple syrup. During my parents’ visit over the holidays, my Dad reminded me that my Mom, Dad, and I would go to 9AM Mass on Sunday and then out afterward for pancakes when I was very, very young. The pancakes were something of a bribe — my Mom is not one to rise early on any day of the week, much less Sunday. I don’t consciously remember any of this… but I do remember passing the pancake place when I was very young and saying “why don’t we go there anymore?”.

Thinking about that always reminds me of an early memory that more directly involves maple syrup. My Mom did occasionally make pancakes on Saturday morning when I was small, and that involved real maple syrup with melted butter. That eventually stopped when the rhythms of the household changed and my Mom resisted any entreaties to get up early on weekend mornings. I have to suspect that this is due to the fact that my sister must have finally started on regular food… my Dad can pour cold cereal as good as anyone, and there was little reason for my Mom to be awake.

The purchase of the maple syrup on a number of occasions was also memorable. We used to go a farm where it was made. I remember very early on that this was done under relatively primitive conditions… the evaporator was in one room of the sugar shack, and the wood-fed firebox was in another. It was a dark, moist place in my memory, but smelled wondrous. Eventually, production facilities were upgraded and made more visitor-friendly. The new place was bigger, cleaner, and had fluorescent lights… as well as a small store for selling syrup and maple sugar candy.

All of these memories were brought into focus recently when I was reading an article about using maple syrup in cooking. I was very interested to see that Canadian epicures have divided maple syrup into 13 flavor families, and 39 subfamilies, with a total of 91 flavor attributes. There is even a “syrup sommelier” at the Loew’s Hotel Vogue in Montreal, who holds maple syrup tastings.

Me, I love maple syrup and all, but I won’t be making a pilgrimage to Montreal just for the syrup. No, I am drawn to maple syrup for both the flavor and the nostalgia my earliest days… which I indulge whenever Mrs. Geek and I have brunch on the weekend with sherried french toast or buttermilk pancakes.


I had a nightmare last night. That makes two since Christmas. This is rather unusual for me. I don’t often have nightmares.

Both were what I would call “dream narratives”. Though I played a role in each dream, I had some perception that I was merely character in it… as if I was watching a movie.

The things that scared me about both dreams were more atmospheric than anything else. In the first, I found myself somehow following a ball through underground passages that seemed to have carvings in on the walls with some kind of Mezo-American motif. The passages were lit by a mixture of electric lights and candles that started to flicker and go out. It was all very Blair Witch. In last night’s dream, I found myself in a maze of lit warehouse shelves much like you would find in a store like Costco. Here I was supposed to meet someone, who had led us astray, into an underground cache of illegal or illicit goods. The dream concluded when we got word that a disaster had occurred above ground and a jet of water shot out of one of the walls.

What is going on in my subconscious mind? I’m sure Freud must have written about dreams like these, and if not Freud, then Jung. I seem to be like Theseus searching for the Minotaur. That’s got to mean something.