Saturday, December 31, 2005

Playing to Your Weakness

It's New Year's Eve. Maybe I should wait till tomorrow to think about resolutions, but I'm not doing much else at the moment.

Are there more futile traditions than the New Year's Resolution? How many have you kept in your life? In previous years, I tried. I would make a deeply meaningful resolution, often keeping it to myself, but really being earnest about it. Never meant squat. Think about it, you pledge to wipe out this deeply rooted part of yourself, to grind smooth some groove you've been wearing into yourself for your whole life. Starting this arbitrary day. Talk about built to fail.

I closely observed an exception in 2005. My wife resolved to get more organized, and she did. She didn't become a paragon of order, but she made real progress, dragging me part of the way with her. Credit given where it is due.

I've given up on this approach for myself. I had given up last year, and so I made a trivial, fun resolution. Cause you think you could do that. I resolved to remember jokes. I don't remember jokes. I hear a joke, I laugh or don't, and its gone. I succeeded for maybe 3 months. I had like tripled my cache of jokes. By this December 31st, I've forgotten them all. I didn't resolve to save the world or fix my greatest flaw, just get better at something I suck at. Again, planned to fail.

So I'm working on a new strategy for this year. I have a recent success as a model. I decided it wouldn't hurt me to dress a little more nicely on occasion. I can decide that, but the groove, the habit, the vision of I have of who I am, it doesn't' give up easy. So I played dirty.

I have this pattern. I buy two pairs of jeans. I wear one of them almost every day until one or both wear out. I buy two pairs of jeans. Repeat. A few months ago it was time to buy two pairs of jeans again. I bought one pair of jeans, and one pair of kakis. One moment of strength set me up for months of virtue. I hate to shop. I'm always behind on laundry. I won't go buy another pair of pants till one wears out, and I won't do laundry often enough to keep clean alternatives to the kakis. I'm stuck. I wear them once or twice a week. I played to weakness, instead of relying on strength.

You see where I'm going. I'm trying to devise New Year's Resolutions based on this strategy. If suitable, I'll share them with you, once I've dreamed them up.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Gentry's Hammer

Current formulations. These laws apply to the creation of laws, I've noticed ;-)

Gentry's Hammer To be good at something, you must first be bad at it.

Gentry's Scythe Everything that is not fundimental is a distraction.

Gentry's Anvil Fundimentals are simple and hard.

A Scattering of Clowns

My wife and I have carried the bedtime story into adulthood. When we go to bed, we read out loud before turning off the light. It is interesting how often there is a slip of the tongue, an error somewhere in the processing between eye, brain and mouth. One of my earlier posts in this blog was one of those. Here's another.

Last night I'm reading out loud and what I read was:

...a bitter winter wind from the northeast blew in a scattering of clowns...

Obviously it was written as "clouds," not "clowns."

Monday, December 26, 2005

A Post About Strategy -- on that other blog

Consistancy is the big challenge posed by blogging, to me. Both in time spent writing posts, and in ideas for posts. I've written a post over on EgoBurp on strategy for dealing with the boom and bust cycle.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Commit to the Asking

Browsing, some friends and I discovered Alix Olson's spoken word. I'm digging it. Between us we have her CD's Independence Meal and Built Like That on the way. From what I've heard of the samples on CDBaby, I'm excited to hear the rest.

One line that gets me every time I hear it. It comes from the track "Unsteady Things" on Independence Meal.

I prefer to give to those who commit to the asking

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Remove Tire Tracks From Skin

There have been no referrels to this blog that were searches for any variation or segment of "remove tire tracks from skin." There have been referrels that were the result of searches for "big ass angel" and "Steve Owen." You can see for yourself by clicking on the "Site Meter" button in the footer of this blog.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Phrases that people search for

Plotting the crooked path to this blog. Luke turned me on to Site Meter. It is one of the exploding number of "services" on the Net that allows you to use it by simply pasting a little javascript into your web page. It provides traffic statistics. Really handy if you have a blog hosted someplace like Blogger and you don't have another way to get those stats.

Some of the neater information you get from from Site Meter is what the referring sites where that brought visitors to your page. Luke brought this to my attention when he remarked that he had seen a referrer to one of his posts was the result of a search, and that the search terms that brought the visitor to his blog were surprising. Another of our friends, Matt, suggested it would be fun to seed articles with terms just to see how many people might be searching for them. I'm doing that in this article with the phrase

remove tire tracks from skin

If you are reading this post and you were indeed brought here by a search that found that phrase, I hope you aren't too annoyed that there is no information here on how to remove tire tracks from skin. Grin along with us, eh ;-)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Battlestar Galactica is bluring into my life

A few days ago I found myself examining the power relationhips in Battlestar Galactica, looking for some clues about power relationships in my job. Seriously.

The Sci-Fi channel has a series that is a reimagining of the grand old series, Battlestar Galactica. I say "grand" because I was a fan of the original, in all its cheesy glory. I held off watching the new one for a long time, but I heard too much positive feedback to ignore it. When I finally checked it out, I loved it.

The new version is a much grittier, realistic show, and the characters are pretty real. There is a lot of exploration of the relationship between the civillian and military aspects of the fleet, and also inside the military itself. Good characters, good actors, good writing. So at lunch at Spuds on saturday I realized I was sitting there thinking about the power dynamics in Battlestar Galactica and what they might teach me about the power dynamics in my life.


My rapacious heart,
my uncertain hand,
I am saved by my lack of audacity.


Just some words I heard recently that I liked.

From that masterpiec, "99 Red Balloons",
open up one eager eye

I heard this one in a Steve Owen song, though I know that its one of those phrases that has come down to us in the form of cultural heritage:

Tommorrow is a day that's promised to no man

The first Steve Owen song I heard has as part of its chorus:

The world is a tuxedo and I'm a pair of brown shoes

My fashion IQ is low, and I only recently learned that you don't wear brown shoes with black pants. I heard this at just the right time in my life for it to strike me :-)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Found a poem, Kipling's "If"

My friend Matt recently started a blog at Blogger, and he choose for the title, "Filling the Unforgiving Minute." One day when I hadn't quite remembered the URL yet, I did a search on Blogger for "unforgiving minute," to find his blog. I was surprised at how many search results there were. Turns out the phrase comes from a famous Kipling poem, "If." I didn't know it. It is quite something.

This might be the most quoted part:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Cigarettes and Musk

I am walking down the frozen food isle of the grocery store, and I pass through a cloud of scent: cigarettes and musk. The chrome and glass freezers, the white floor, dissolve and I'm in another place in time and space. No, several places at once. One is a particular dorm room, with a particular young woman. She's the smoker. Another is the stairwell of that dorm as I've just walked through a cloud of cigarettes and musk and stopped in my tracks, mirror image in time of this moment. One is a lake shore at night, my heart trying to pound its way out of my chest. There are others. To call them memories, no, they are then and now simultaneously.

This happened to me last night. I blinked hard a couple times, literally, returning to the "present moment" that my mind can deal with for more than a few seconds without going into a tailspin. 15 years later, my god. And I picked up the frozen blackberries Jae wanted for desert the next night, tonight, when we have company. And I walked back to my house, vivid in its warmth after the cold of outside, and my wife, my very favorite human, and I think about how poor we are for having to live our lives serially, frame by frame.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Over attention at fancy restaurants

Yesterday was my Mother-In-Law's birthday. Priscilla likes nice restaurants, in the fancy way, so her and Dave and Jae and I went out to dinner at a nice steakhouse. It is not my big kind of thing, but it can fun occasionally. One thing drives me nuts, though, the constant coming and going of the wait staff.

I admit, I want them to fill my water glass every few minutes. I drink a lot with meals. But the picking up this fork and the delivering of this spoon and the procession of little plates to go with the bread and the appetizer and the salad, give it a break already. It constantly interrupts the flow of conversation at the table, and makes me really uncomfortable. I feel like I should say, "Thank you," every time they perform one of these little interruptions, but like I said, it gives the evening this weird staccato flow. And if I ignore them, I feel rude.

I know, that's how it is supposed to work at these places. It's my hangup. Am I the only one who feels this way?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

This Cold -> It's and ill wind ...

This cold has been kicking my butt for several days. I managed to drag myself into work because saturday I'm the only person in my position who works, but I'm doing the bare minimum. But its an ill wind that blows no good. Spent a fair bit of the day with my feet up and listening to music.

My brother Luke introduced me to a great Internet radio station, Boot Liquor Radio. They played a song that I liked, " a Pair of Brown Shoes", by Steve Owen. I checked out the whold cd, the Turlock 2, at CDBaby It is a little hit or miss, but there are severel gems.

On the fun side are, "Close Enough to Shore", and "a Pair of Brown Shoes." On the somber but eerily cool side are "Like a Wedding Band" and " What Makes the World Go 'Round"

more about Gentry's Law

Still thinking about the title. Occam's Razor is partly cool because of, "Occam", of course. Short of changing my name, I can't do much about that part. The other part though, "Razor" is so much cooler than "Law." I can work on that.

In Occam's Razor, "razor" both sounds cool and describes the law. The simplest explanation is the likeliest. That slices through so much crap. Can I come up with a name that has the same attributes?

How about, Gentry's Hammer. The law tries to pound into peoples' skulls a truth they don't want to accept.

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