Happenstance Encounters

I live in a 5 bedroom house where we we all have rooms and share a common area. Encounters with housemates is rare. Today I ran into Bill in the hallway. I had not seen him for almost a month. It dawned on me that we all live these exceedingly private lives and though we share kitchens and bathrooms; we rarely have social interaction or visit. Never has someone knocked at my door and said,

Hey! You got a minute to talk about things?

Instead each person is in an orbit of their life and travels that orbit in singular determination. This creates a bit of discomfort when you first encounter a housemate and I think both persons are not expecting or requiring the resulting discussion.

We stumbled on for words and for those words not said. Kelly, the new housemate, fits in well the way we all live. She is a private person as well. She has been living in the master bedroom for about two weeks or so I think. I may have seen her twice. Others come and go in their monastic ways. Holidays and weekends come and go. Their lives are taken up with entering and leaving the house and if a chance encounter happens; the result is that nervousness and discomfort that comes from two people not really wanting to share.

Its a strange thing this happenstance encounter. I also fit in well. I come and I go. I don’t make demands. I do the things I have to do. There are some unwritten rules when you share a room in a house. Basic things. Like,

  1. Don’t make feeble conversation in the hallways unless you have a point to make.
  2. Clean up after yourself.
  3. Wheel out the garbage cans and take them back in.
  4. Don’t block  a car in the driveway.
  5. Be sure you know the wifi key. New people will ask for one thing only and that’s it.

There are probably more things and I know them. The others in the house have different things. They know them and I don’t. And that’s okay. Because our encounters are only happenstance.

Stranded in Starbucks on Sunday

I moved over this morning to Starbucks to read news on my iPad Pro 9.7 device. After years with Android devices from the early days, I felt the need for a break from some of the business as usual stuff that goes on there. The last device I had were two different Note 7’s which left me bitter and disaffected. I had no real phone for about a week while I cast about for a replacement. In previous work I had used an iPhone and iPad Air 2 and it was only okay. I don’t think then that I had had enough and wanted a basic sea change to a thing without carrier bloat, upgrade issues, OEM/ODM apathy. Where to go? 

At the current work using AirWatch, IOS devices are heavily favored and I can use the native mail and calendar app which is worlds nicer than what exists now on Android there. The Android choice is the AirWatch Mobile email application. That one application sucks at a level that basically made me rethink the whole OS thing. It operates completely exclusively of the native calendar so one has to see events in completely different applications. Why? Why make Android users second class citizens? 

So I moved to an iPhone 7. Not the plus. Just the 7. I thought at first I would suffer from size of display frenzy and not be able to deal with the smaller phone display size. Not true! The phone size works in so many good ways. It fits in the pocket, easy to carry when walking, battery life is stellar on it. Soon thereafter I bought the iPad Pro 9.7 because if you do want a tablet what else is there basically? Now I just bought a refurbished iPad Pro 12.9 device to play on. They are cheapening up with holidays and new versions coming. Now I get a few things on this side of the OS wars. I considered this before stranded in Starbucks. First thing, there are no winners and losers in this stuff. A person picks a thing or things because she can use them. Its about use and functionality for that use and features for that use. If a thing only comes in at XX percent and you need YY percent why would you consider with the use case? Gizmos and devices are not cheap granted but we are talking about your being more productive and using a thing which fits your use case. We are all tool users whether its an obsidian projectile point or a iPad. But these same devices create the same thing back one us. They create a wider world and net for us to gather in and they affect us as much as we them. They allow us a view into a world which should not be limited by your choice.

Imagine traveling the world for a year with only one device choice to make. I would definitely not bring a smart phone. All the sim cards and the networks and stuff. I would depend on a device with WiFi and at a screen size that is useful but not overwhelming. One that is replaceable and does not depend on bunches of inter-twined DLLs and INI files that can break at a moment’s notice. One that does not cost an arm and a leg and lets you use an ecosystem of tools. I’ve thrown out things like Macbooks and Surfaces and really the choice is on a device that is smaller and more flexible.

Back when, I traveled to Asia in 2011 with a Motorola Xoom tablet. It was great. I had the best of a few worlds. It was easy to carry and I got WiFi all over and tethered it to my phone in Chennai with a sim card that my friends there arranged for me. I could probably have done without the phone and just relied on WiFi but I also wanted the Google Maps thing in Singapore and my phone was an unlocked Nexus device so it was easier. Now sitting stranded with my Latte I think a single device is best. My choices are simple ones. I think a Chromebook would be a fantastic choice. We’re talking cheap here and with access to an ecosystem I use a lot. I can replace it easily with another of the same kind, a different kind, etc. An iPad Pro 9.7 with the smart keyboard is another natural choice. Smaller, faster, able to be packed easily. I don’t see a compelling Android device out there now. Tablets of the old form factor are going away I think. At some point we will have converged devices that fulfill many functions. Lets be honest though. On the road, why cannot I use Skype or Google Voice for those calls I need to make? No need for the classic phone with more WiFi. 

Now I sit here wondering about that life on the road. Stranded at more Starbucks with the people coming and going with Christmas sweaters. Then there’s me. I sit here with the latte and I wonder about the tech choices we make. Do we do them knowing that we will actually be using these things or is our alliance and love to the device itself and not what we want to tap into. Its a fact that Google develops and releases IOS applications which let me be very productive. My journal lives in Google Docs shared across everything. My little budget spreadsheet is the same. The whole Google Docs suite is sweet. It does exactly what I need to use. I do have MS Office applications installed but to what end? I don’t use them on my tech except for some work stuff.

Now I’ll let you all pause and look at what your hand carry is. Does it fulfill or do you do it out of loyalty to the operating system?

On Hiatus

I read this on the popular blogs or used to. The big guy blogs would every so often go on hiatus or decide the time had come for a makeover. Content would be static and perhaps the normal blog page with all its descending content would be replaced with a sign that claimed the author or authors and the theme were being updated. I never understood this rationale but I think the real message is that authors run out of things to write about.

What do we start these things for and why do we keep at them even in the face of moderating readership and people veering away to other content. Here are a few reasons why we keep at it.

  1. We write blogs because we enjoy them and get some kind of thrill or satisfaction from doing so. We don’t care if others read or not. Its the writing of it. The catharsis of it that rewards.
  2. We like to promote an ideology, theory, technology, belief. Witness the tech and news blogs out there which favor or diss a thing.
  3. We don’t care if others read them or not. Very unlike blogging in its heyday when you were given authority by who linked and you gave authority by linking to others
  4. We want some kind of connection with others that read or write. Some would say we need connections to be real so we write these things to inspire that connection.
  5. We still count visits as successes, reads as mandates, likes and hearts and mentions as inspiring. We like it when someone favorites a post or mentions us on social media or praises or even blames us in places. We publicize our posts on various sites to encourage that connection. Maybe we want to write illimunating things to the visitors and let them see that we see.
  6. We write these things for none of those reasons. I’ve been doing blogs for 10 years or more now and had my self-hosted wordpress site with the same name since 2005 or so and before that on Advogato. Sometimes I don’t write at all.

And the reasons seem to go on forever why we do these.

I only write a day a week or so now. Perhaps I’ve reached the zenith of the things and then perhaps I question the entire thing and wonder if I should simply put this instance on hiatus. I don’t have a good reason to do that since often I don’t understand why I write here myself so I will continue.

Seasons

This is definitely the season for many of us. The season for family, for food, for sharing. People travel great distance for the season of all of that. Flying, driving, training. Its all grist for the great season mill. Here’s a bit of a backstory from my limited experience at not doing any of these things during the season.

Awhile back, I worked at Microsoft in Silicon Valley doing a data center thing. Its in a great location in Mountain View and restaurants and other diversions are close. Walking was great there too. It borders Moffett Field and the many walking trails around where some variable tech giants are. I would drive up Highway 82 to find a place to eat on occasion and one time I went to a Sizzler because I could. I am not a huge Sizzler fan but I like the salad bar and some of the food choices are good. I sat in there and watched the people come and go. Dawdling over my salad and waiting for my steak. I watched people come in and go. Then it dawned on me that just about everyone in the section I was in were single older guys. Had I found the home for old divorced guys in Mountain View and Palo Alto? Is this where the guys go that have no place to go? I know about that first hand during the season because I’m one of them. Everyone sat and appeared to studiously avoid eye contact but every so often their gaze would wander up and eye contact would ensue. I felt certain I had found the home away from home for old divorced guys. It was uncomfortable yet fulfilling because I too was one of those guys. My friend Bill said I had an “etcha sketch” and some of the lines from the days before had been erased. Being at that Sizzlers it dawned on me that some lines never erase. Were these guys lonely? Did they really want another relationship, friendship, boon companion? Someone to share a moment and the moment yet to come? So I left the Sizzler after eating. All of those 5 to 10 single guys just sat there eyes downward pointing. Waitresses flew by. Food delivered. I left.

As I remember this, later I would drive by and find that the Sizzler had closed. What happened to all those guys I wondered? What happens when the one place these wounded survivors go to is taken away? I also found a few other possibilities were closed up the road like Fresh Choice and others. Perhaps now these guys found a fast food restaurant.

I found that McDonalds seems to be a home for another set of characters years later. Retired guys by themselves gather for coffee, politics, watching young women arrive and leave. Nothing has really changed with the seasons. Now I sit there sometimes and do the same. I like to watch. Participating during the season is another thing. I’ve been told on Quora its easier for me to move forward and find another person.

But I’ve never wanted to so the story of Sizzlers has stuck by me and I’ve remembered those rather uncomfortable moments when we all shared a moment in a restaurant that’s gone.

The people may change but the seasons don’t.

Thanksgiving 2016, Starbucks, a Room, a Story

Its come to me a few times that this blog is really about stories and considerations of things which have been news, views, or subterfuge in my life. After all, we only have a single point of reference we really know and that’s what we experience. We cannot put ourselves in another’s body and experience their stuff. That’s a good thing I think. For all the altruistic and worldly thoughts we have on this day, giving thoughts to dispersed family and friends, wandering in and out of reality in a room just big enough for a single person; I’ve realized. Realized that life for me is personal sized. There is enough room just for me in it. My friend Free now has a friend that shares the moments. There with him to take the thing he built and enjoy it. I have not built anything and I have nothing to share so this Thanksgiving is much the same as the ones since about 2011 after I returned from all those trips to Japan, Singapore, and India. A strange mix of holidays and less joy at them. Perhaps to enjoy these holidays in the fashion before where family gathered and enjoyed the food, you need to have that less than desired family. That extension which I have left behind. Now its Starbucks.

Starbucks in the morning on Google Wifi, on a iPad Pro 9.7 inch. Writing this blog post at this time, at this place. The classic coffee cake still is hot and the Latte steams still and the people are absorbed in phones and news and personal reflections. Starbucks has been and will be a place to escape to for me. A place to have people around but not engaged with them. Does that seem strange? I guess I need every so often to see people I don’t know and secretly watch them engaged in their phone and tablet behaviors without having some kind of interaction. Starbucks does that for me. I can leave my room in Newark California and engage yet not. That gets me to the succession of rooms I have been either happy or less than happy to live in.

At the current state, the living conditions are good. The house is clean and everything works. I’ve upgraded to a larger upstairs room that can hold more stuff. I got rid of the Japanese futon and got a Tuft and Needle bed which really suits me for sleeping now. I spend more time in that bed than sitting at the desk in the chair I put together. Prior to this room, I lived in a small room in the same house. That was also okay. It taught me a thing or two about what it takes to live and how I could live just about anywhere in the same space. A single person does not need boatloads of space to really live and even excel. There is a sublime difference between living and excelling. I’ve crossed that Rubicon. The Rubicon is a story for me. A story I’ll share about a time long ago. Maybe you stop reading now and decide I am an ambling blogger with no real purpose. That’s okay. You are still reading. So now the story.

Back in other days, I stumbled the deserts, the foothills, the buttes, the mountains of the southwest, west, northwest as an archeologist. Not an Indiana Jones archeologist searching vainly for the golden monkey head. A desert and arid ecosystems guy primarily interested in small team hunter-gatherer use of environments, how these groups traversed, used, and exploited through trade, social systems, group interaction, and tools. The archeological record as an instructor used to tell me is incomplete. One cannot excavate ideas but the material remains let scientists build hypotheses and then test them. If you perchance find a pacific seashell bead in the middle of a Mojave desert archeological site, question is how did it get there? But bigger questions too. What does it mean for group interaction, trade, technological reach? A little bead carrying so much story! We can build the back story though. So once as I ambled across the deserts, my friend and mentor RWR invited me to travel along to the annual Society of California Archeologists annual meetings. We drove and drank and ate together because that’s what you do. We got to the hotel and had to leave to buy more beer because the beer in the bar was way too expensive for a bunch of archeologists. There was a sign that said beverages not allowed in the bar from outside. That sign turned up missing or not considered as Mark brought in bottles and bottles of beer to the bar. Suddenly, archeologists were not paying dollars and dollars for beers but Mark was providing more and more as he went back to his car. The hotel staff was dumbfounded. The mortuary science fellows sharing the convention were astounded. We were all drunk. We sat at the bar with the pirated beer and one of the mortuary guys asked what we did. The archeologist we were with intoned with false sobriety,

You put them in the ground and we dig them up

Then our meetings started and we heard the crossing the rubicon reference. The person giving the big speech carefully told we should be prepared to cross that rubicon with science. RWR and I were mystified. We did not know what a rubicon was or that we should cross it. We left for the bar where Mark was still handing out the beer. Finally the hotel staff got wise and told us we had to leave. But we were residents there we told them. Go to your rooms they told us. So we left for the rooms. Mark fell asleep in his car. I woke up on the floor at 3am. 

It was all good. I had crossed the Rubicon and ended up on the floor.

The room at a hotel in Fresno

I drove down to Fresno with my daughter today to see a supposed boy friend. That person bailed and would not meet me or show up to have some time together. I remember turning 18 and being sorely disappointed in the quality and quantity of my relationships. I wanted more and perhaps different. I wanted better quality. But relationships are not that way and I’ve learned after my years of marriage and divorce that the whole relationship thing requires a bartering and trade where each person arrives at a point ready to give and take and its done freely. If its not done that way, its not a relationship. Its more like the other person taking advantage. Then the person knows that the game of establishing that person to person contacts is fraught with danger, disappointment, and risk. I have learned I am not good relationship material. I am egotistical, narcissistic, and selfish and those are my good qualities. I don’t give a damn about other people for the most part. A few have crossed my path I care about and that I still do. Lets face it though as you get old, the whole friendship and relationship thing is so much harder to establish and maintain.

Why? Why does it become harder? For me its because I am more demanding. I require more trading and bartering and arriving at a known good point before I will open that kimono. Think about dear reader or two. What is it about relationships that make them good for you, that make them bad, that make you want to rip the feeling apart?

So here I sit in a hotel room in a seedy part of Fresno. I watched the hookers walk by earlier in their short skirts with that one thing that has transformed generations of people. I watched a guy going through the trash getting plastic at the 7-11 I stopped at. I heard the car horns of the upwardly mobile shopping center where my daughter became one of the disappointed and disaffected and probably learned that sowing the seeds of that mystical man to woman thing is dangerous and often the path leads to ultimate disappointment. 

And such it is and has been and always will be. I’ll drink a Fosters beer and watch college ball tonight and sleep the drunk sleep again. Work has claimed me even on weekends. But I have one thing now which I lacked for those years of the enforced marriage relationship. I have myself and I have a measure of joy at doing what the fuck I want to do. I work because I love work at the current place. I know one day that will move beyond and I will traverse another path. A solo path that does not depend on another to produce limits. I know I am limitless and I am fragile and fraught with bad emotions and states and feelings. I am me and I don’t need to append to another to find joy in the days of life.

Sorry to burst your bubble that I am not an altruistic and charitable human being. You can stop reading but I won’t stop writing. I will continue to explore the travels of Mike and find things which amuse, amaze, baffle, and disappoint me.

When I Walk

When I walk, I:

Consider the flow of the air against the trees and the cool wind blowing down the streets swirling the leaves. I watch the sun setting forth to a night of stars and lately clouds that battle those same skies for purchase. I hear the lonely hoot of the coming night with far away car horns and voices of families inside homes with the food cooking and I remember.

Remember what it was like before and what I gained and lost with divorce. How I lost the kids but found them again and how I lost a person who I thought I knew for the better of 20 years. I still remember the moments and the years where I persisted living in misery and the jobs came and went and there was no joy.

Think and listen and feel and wonder and I am a Quora of answers and questions self-posed. Walking frees  me to do these things like nothing else. I can think of a moment of realization and loss and mystery. The listening surprises me and feelings often about work persist. I wonder why a person I work with has no assertiveness and is willing to take crap from another person when I would probably leave.

Those are some of the things when I walk but there are more. There is a life spent moving one foot in front of other in cities like Sydney, Kyoto, Singapore, Santa Barbara, Tokyo, Portland, Seattle, Eugene. Walking vacations that came and went where I walked and felt those cities. I never knew all of them. Another block away was something else but I remember a sleepy block in Tokyo and a bustling street in Sydney. A quiet park in Singapore and bustling bike filled sidewalk in Kyoto. Many steps taken in moments of walking steps in the tens of thousands. Then I was back. I always came back.

Walking is not about going and returning to me. Its not a solemn duty with a fitbit counting the steps. Its my own statement of meaning and it never can be yours.

Because when I walk I just am. I don’t want or need or pretend.

When its Sunday Morning, we excel

And not word and powerpoint either. We sit at the McDonalds for breakfast on their wifi. Read the news and continue to test the keyboard inputs for the ipad pro 9.7 device we are not using to make our lives more fun. Yes “we” means “I”. I am branding this as ours because I felt like it. I’ve tried a few keyboard setups with the ipad pro including those that do smart connectors. I’m not a convert to those. When we get to bluetooth keyboards the Logitechs seem to rule. Perhaps a review is inevitable on Amazon for the specific model I am using. Maybe not.

My main message is on this Sunday with the rain falling and the sky threatening I’m feeling the need to walk. Its been two days and this old body needs that release rain or shine. So this afternoon I’ll go forth, get wet, and enjoy it immensely. Laundry and chores can wait on my only weekend day this week. 

Work

There is always work and I’m fortunate to have what I have. I left another place that was a disaster for this place. The old place regaled me with dress codes, no working at home, strange rules about the team I supported. Nothing made sense and I am not a good travel advisor or planner. I don’t do good when people add “other tasks as assigned” and then tell me that those tasks are really meant to test me and I failed on so many fronts. So I said screw them and their tasks. I found another thing and its better and it turned to full-time and it made life much better for me. In another two weeks I’ll be done with the migrations I am held to and I’ll shift groups to the PMO team that wants me. All is good in the land of work. Lets talk

Play

Because play is as important as work. To make work matter you need play. Play is like the other side of the brain coming up for air and questioning the facts of work. It makes you want to walk, to run, but mostly to want the experience. But without work, play would be a meaningless experience. We need play and most definitely Play. The big Play is the one that makes the mind and soul and feelings come together on a Sunday morning with no real responsibilities and duties and all day to do them. I don’t need another to do Play. Its not linked to another person complaining or telling me this is not fun or Fun. Nope. Play is a personal thing and it lets the mind and body jettison the old things and tasks and milestones and lets a person simply be. I don’t think we understand it completely yet we need it

I’ll leave this here for now and see if anyone ever finds the new place I’m blogging. I’ve blogged other places for over 10 years. I had my own self hosted wordpress site with the same name. I’ve blown things out and realigned them so many times. This site is meant to stretch to a new thing which is out there. We get old but we never lose the desire to find a thing out there. I’ll re-plan the plan because a plan is just that without goals. Goals are not there without milestones along the way. And when the milestones all reach 100% its time. Time to fly boys and girls.