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.

The Travel Best Spent

Travel is like precious coins. Each time we decide to go, we spend a few on a destination. We should choose so carefully because the place we end up may not be what we bargained for and what the trip itself led us to believe. For many years I traveled for work across the Pacific to places like Sydney, Vietnam, Japan, India, Singapore. In the case of India, I lived there for almost an entire year in 2009 and visited quite often from 2008 to 2011. I stopped in Singapore just as often since the flights all ended there but also because we had an office there and I managed a team that crossed the Pacific from Fremont to Singapore to Chennai.

But it was the travel most of all. The getting there. Those moments where I was not here or there. In 2011 sitting quietly in Changi Airport with a bagel sandwich and coffee with no real place to go but a walk. In most places it was the walk which somehow accompanied the work. Each place had something to give as long as I had something to give.

Truth be told I have not traveled to Asia since 2011. Sometimes it feels horribly wrong. Like I am missing a thing which I took for granted for so many years. Most of all, I think its the gut wrenching feel of getting old and not seeing the places that were in-between the other places which marked my life. We don’t get years back and I lost some through divorce and not standing up for my rights. Too late, I mutter sometimes. Too late to get them back and my body ages. It reminds me of a song lyric from Cat Stevens,

Miles from nowhere
I guess I’ll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there

Look up at the mountain
I have to climb
Oh yeah, to reach there.

Lord my body has been a good friend
But I won’t need it when I reach the end

Miles from nowhere
I guess I’ll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there

I creep through the valleys
And I grope through the woods
‘Cause I know when I find it my honey
It’s gonna make me feel good, yes

I love everything
So don’t it make you feel sad
‘Cause I’ll drink to you, my baby
I’ll think to that, I’ll think to that.

Miles from nowhere
Not a soul in sight
Oh yeah, but it’s alright

I have my freedom
I can make my own rules
Oh yes, the ones that I choose

Lord my body has been a good friend
But I won’t need it when I reach the end

I love everything
So don’t it make you feel sad
‘Cause I’ll drink to you, my baby
I’ll think to that, I’ll think to that.
Oh yeah

Miles from nowhere
Guess I’ll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there.

–Cat Stevens or Yusuf Islam, Miles from Nowhere

So it captures it all but it still leaves some essence of it all. I’ve made the rules and I have freedom. I just have lost and gained and found myself. Now I will still leave for those miles and find Asia beyond another door that is closed for now.

Travel is like coins well spent my friends. We have only moments to use them and each trip is like a bank of memories with pictures forming the horizons, words becoming the currency, memories stretching from then to now. Spend wisely that budget and remember its never the destination although it counts. Its the movement that my soul and heart and mind requires. The walking of a path in Tokyo or a sidewalk in Kyoto. Elections and winners and losers are just harbingers. Its truly where the feet find themselves on concrete or dreams.

Sunday Morning Coffee and Trains

Today the clocks flew backwards an hour and gave me an extra morning hour. The morning instant coffee is steaming and local news streams by thanks to my OTA antenna in the window of my room. I listen hard for the morning train. I live close to railroad tracks and numerous times each day I hear a refrain. It always takes me to other places where I’ve ridden the rails. A few times here to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Portland, and Eugene. In other places I’ve ridden along from Chennai to Mysore, India and from Tokyo to Kyoto on the famed Shinkansen.

On one of the rides to Portland for a walking trip, I met a cast of characters in the Amtrak dining car where its community dining. Sometimes doing this hardly any conversation is passed but this time we had the person from Fresno, the young man from Bristol England, the older gentlemen from New Zealand, and me. We were cautious at first but soon explored world history and prehistory and travel, the wonders of the world both ancient and now, and the things intrepid travelers discuss. It was a wonderful 2 hours where we knew none of us would ever see the other again. Finally the train was stopping in Portland. My stop. We all shook hands and it was that moment of departure and I’ll remember it forever.

Trains and people and the main moment is not arriving but the getting there. Surely travel by train is not about the destination but the act of it all. You spend moments not suspended in a capsule 30k feet above the ground or heroically driving and cursing with road rage stumbling beneath your stoic surface. Instead others drive and let you enjoy. Soon the worries blend away and you are engaged seeing northern California melt away into the beauty of southern Oregon or down the coast finally to the ocean and reaching Santa Barbara. Its all beautiful and different each time. Each train trip is a different fantasy and reality. Its not for all of us. Some require purposeful travel where its the destination. I’m sorry for those people. They have never learned.

Never learned to listen for the train whistle and the hobo call to travel and reach the path and not the end.

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.

There’s always a time for Tech

Way back when, I walked a few dusty roads down in the western Mojave Desert. I got to see things which perhaps others never have. Fantastic and mysterious things in the desert. Things seen sleeping in a sleeping bag under the stars. Belly filled with homemade chili and too much warm Bud beer. There I saw stars shoot overhead and the dark sky was like a blanket twisted all around at the buttes. I would fall asleep sometimes perhaps remembering that others walked the same place thousands of years ago and I as the archeologist then wanted to find their passing. Perhaps a tool that was used to kill or scrape a hide. Maybe a painting on the side of a cliff that was their blog on their tech and on a chance or planned encounter with an animal that then filled their bellies and became their midnight stare at the sky.

But tech was wrapped around this. The tool, the making of the tool, use of the tool. Lets go one step further though. How the tool got there and how that complex silicate chert became a staple of use. Not just an accident of stone mind you. This was a planned thing and people wanted that stone. It was not just stone. It was trade and social values and economies. I believe stone meant so much more than just a chance encounter with an animal. It was tech. Tech that refined and built and then the tech was traded and did it again.

Think about how we do it now with tech. We use tech but it uses us too. We trade in it and it moves about across cultural boundaries through at jet speed. The speed of ideas that transform and build tech. We are surrounded by tech and it empowers and deceives us. We believe we have made it and we are the owners of tech. Tech is a mysterious mistress though and it travels its own arc across the heavens and is not owned. Ideas are never owned and tech means travel.

Remember when you see an idea out there and you are in that sleeping bag and the stars dance and sing and the beer was warm. Tech was there too. It may have not made the stars and sky but it may have allowed those others that walked the path to shoot and scrape and trade and become more.

Such is the way it is to live a life of tech.

Adventures with a Macbook Air

I decided to buy a newer laptop than the usual things I get. I went for the early 2015 Macbook Air 13.3 inch screen. I have not been a person historically that has wanted one but we all need to have new things to learn in our lives. The Air has so many nice things and a few less than nice things that I will continue to use it and learn it. The things I like are the responsiveness, design, touchy feely stuff, and the fact you get rsync, a terminal, and other goodies with it by default. It also has a familiar yet unique feel when using it and it is taking me time to get used to its use. Some things are radically different so I am  learning slowly, experimenting, seeing how it works. Some things I don’t like. It only has a 128gb ssd drive in it so I will be looking to replace it next year. That seems very small when applications like office are multiple gb of themselves. Meanwhile I can use it though. I still have about 80gb free.

Some of the things which take getting used to are how packages are installed. I guess I am too used to the bad side of Windows and the lesser bad side of Linux. OSX installs things differently. I don’t know that I dislike it.

Its also a very clicky draggy thing. I like that but it takes some getting used to. Things that swirl away that offer different views in the UI. The three little red, yellow, and green menu buttons. All different yet if you have used a PC, you can find yourself at home.

The laptop pairs up with my iPhone which is different. A word about the iPhone is in order I guess. I am a longtime Android guy. I profess to loving that form factor so much. But then the Note 7 came along and I had to trade in two of them only to find out it was discontinued. At that point, I wanted something I could just use, that would get updates, and would have a nice package selection. I also wanted the preferred alternative for company mail which is IOS. So I switched. I have looked back more than once when I see a new android phone coming out. It does grab me. But it does not hold me any longer. I am far from a Apple lover. I probably distrust and hate Apple more than ever but I also acknowledge that its a platform I can use day to day. Now with the Air laptop, I extend things to another direction there. Perhaps I should just buy the Apple Watch 2 :-).

Anyways, after a few weekends of work and migrating applications from one data center to another; its all come to me that I want some stability in things. I want a form factor that does not burst into flames, that is pleasant to use. A platform I can extend but not embrace. Make sense?

It don’t matter if it doesn’t. This is my techno revivial and not yours 🙂

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. 

Technology Changes Us

There’s a subtle and not so subtle shift to the effect and impact that technology has on our lives. I’ve become pretty certain that open source enables change across the board. It seems to create, build, and widen transparency of use, adoption, and then it allows us to change it while it changes us. That’s power folks.

From my archeological perspective, I remember when I did that science and even art looking with wonder at basic tools like projectile points and other flaked stone tools that people skillfully and artfully made. But I believe that the stone tools changed us and we changed them. They gave us the ability to hunt and kill but they also widened trade networks, encouraged verbal and non-verbal histories to develop, and also created the need for artisans and craftsmen to get better. People did not start out skilled at using that hard stone called chert to make things or sharp obsidian. It was a two-way thing. We and it created the change.

Lets get on to modern change though. We have two prevailing mobile operating systems I believe and each offers a thing to us. I’ve been doing the android thing for years. I’ve enjoyed it but a thing has started bothering and perplexing me. We seem to not have the vehicle of change enabled with the OEM and ODM vendors. They do not empower the change but only sell the devices. We don’t see the wonders of Nougat on relatively new hardware. Some will never see it. Then we have Apple or IOS products. These products are centrally controlled and that can be a good thing ™. It allows our devices to be maintained and managed and updated by Apple which means the whole timing and pace of change is simplified. Its not a choice between a walled garden and an open view any longer. There are bad things out there which can cause problems to our devices and our use.

The real thing has always been use. What device or platform can you use with the most decisiveness and speed? What gives you the change and then you propel yourself as an agent of change? I think we all need to feel a change to stay focused and fresh and be able to see a new thing. The Note 7 made me see that I had beaten down that path repeatedly and I think I’ll change a few more things.

To make phone land survive, I received an loaner iPhone 7 128gb model today to replace my Note 7. To be honest, I’ve been considering a sea change of devices anyways. Sometimes the whole ecosystem I find myself in seems tiring and the challenge seems to leave. Perhaps this is the proverbial projectile point change and then all the changes that come about with the projectile point I am feeling.