Monday, June 30, 2008

FYI: Kevlar Tires Are Heavier...

This was one of those "If it can go wrong, it will" kind of mornings.

I woke up late.

I zoned out over breakfast.

I started to feel nauseated just before leaving for work... on my bike...

Shortly after the ride began, I realized that my cycloputer... cyclocomputer... eh, fuck it, odometer wasn't working. I think when they installed the new, kevlar tires they knocked it askew. Anyway, no readout. This would have been no big deal before but, now that I'm used to gauging my speed through the lovely, computerized interface, now I was all fucked up! Was I riding too fast? Too slow? Was I pacing myself? Was there gravity? I DIDN'T KNOW!!!

Crap. Oh well.

Then, as I reached the Pond... well, what used to be the Pond... what they now call the Honda Center - the Honda Center, like I could bring my Civic there to get serviced! Service this, bitches! - anyway... where was I? Oh, right. When I reached the Honda Suckmydick, I realized I had forgotten my water. Son of a... but, no time to thing negative thoughts - because shortly after that, I realized that I was going much slower than normal. The clock on my odometer was still working and it was telling me I was slacking bigtime! Thing was, I was pedalling as fast as I could. In fact, I was already sore! I wasn't halfway there and I was already sore! So, I hunkered down, dug in, focused... you get the picture... but it didn't make any difference!

Normally, the ride is enjoyable, invigerating... but I spend this morning pushing myself. Not stopping. Not coasting. I just kept pushing until, as I exited the river trail with only minutes to spare, I finally had to admit it wasn't me. It was those new, damned tires.

I wanted to call Vicky to tell her but... my phone was dead.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Morally offensive...

A drunk captain.

A poorly designed ship.

A company that believed it was above the law.

All of these things came together to create one of the worst ecological disasters ever: the Exxon Valdez.

We all saw the images nearly two decades ago, the devastation that an oil company who couldn't be bothered, that used single-hulled freighters, that just didn't care - Exxon - we saw what they did. They were found guilty and told to pay $5 billion in punitive damages, a drop in a bucket for them, next to nothing for an oil company, and they fought it. Later, that amount was cut in half. Now, the Supreme Court - you know, the judicial body who is supposed to protect justice - lowered it to next to nothing. A mere $500 million. What is that? How does that compare to the kind of money Exxon (now, Exxon Mobile) makes? First quarter profits for these fiends was over $10 billion. They could have paid the original from the profits they make out of price gouging.

What does this mean?

Well, Exxon has gotten off scott free for one of the world's greatest ecological crimes in history. They don't have to pay much to the people they harmed. They don't have to pay anything for the environments they harmed. For all the dead and diseased, they pay nothing.

And we let that go. We give them that pass. We say it's okay to destroy the environment. We do this because we so desperately need our gasoline so we can drive our cars so we can also destroy the environment.

We are all complicit in crimes that go so far beyond our comprehensible scope that we can't even feel the guilt. Our children and their children will suffer. We'll be long dead and people will still suffer for our crimes. You can say that's blowing things out of proportion. You can say you do your best to cut pollution. You can placate your conscience with whatever lies you find necessary but when it comes to something as horrifying in scope and affect as the Exxon Valdez, we say there's no guilt. Nobody was really hurt. No damages need to be paid.

We deserve this.

I just hate to see technology sit on its laurels…

Sure, XXX is great. I’m a big fan.

But what about XXXX??? Whatever happened to XXXX???

Come on, porn industry! It’s the 21st century!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

All my heroes are dying…

First, Spalding Gray. Then, Kurt Vonnegut.

Now, George Carlin has died.

I’ve always found myself attracted to truth tellers. And George Carlin, especially with his album “A Place for My Stuff”, inspired everyone I knew and shook me with the truth. I never recovered. I found myself listening to him passionately, up until “You are All Diseased”. I have to say he sounded like he fell for all the post-9/11 bullshit for a while but I’m happy to report that he came back around to the truth.

And now, he’s dead. We won’t have him to tell us the truth any more. But we can continue to listen to his truths. We just won’t get any new truths. Just the same old truths. We’ll have to make up the new truths, being careful not to lie.

As an Atheist, I’m kind of glad he died, in a way. If there really is a God, it’s good to know that Carlin’s going to be up there to call “bullshit!” Imagine it, Carlin up there, talking to God, explaining to that prick just how stupid it is that a God who loves us all would put us in Hell for all eternity simply for the crime of not “loving him” enough. That’s the problem with God, he was stupid enough to create truth tellers like Carlin who aren’t afraid to go “up” there and call him a prick.

Now, before I finish, just one thing… to all my other heroes… STOP DYING, ALL RIGHT? Seriously. I’m talking to you, Firesign Theatre! I’m talking to you, Garrison Keillor! I’m talking to you, Al Stewart! I’m talking to you, Woody Allen! (Oh, and Woody, make a good movie before you die, will you? Your recent crap has been a stinking pile of turds and I’m not shitting you.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Frigidity and the City…

Vicky and I just got back from seeing the third-trimester abortion that is Sex and the City: The Movie. To say it’s awful surely shows disrespect for such monstrosities as The Love Guru. That said, I spend two and a half hours of my life trying to decide just how to describe this “movie” and here is that description:

Sex and the City is like watching a small room crowded with fat, sweaty homosexuals masturbate to reruns of That Girl. Only, they never cum. Episode after episode passes like distended colon while they continue to masturbate, getting sweatier, jiggling fat, while you’re forced to watch.

I didn’t like it.

At the end of the day, this movie is nothing more than a militaristic, selfish, self-absorbed attempt to blame men for everything, even when it’s not their fault. Look, men are fucked up – I’ll grant you that. But this movie doesn’t even have the sense to aim for the big things, like war and global warming. Everything else, though, is open game. If a woman gains weight, it’s a man’s fault. If she lets herself look like shit – man’s fault. Neglects her husband – man’s fault. Acts completely irrational – man’s fault.

Meanwhile, the biggest fault I could find was in the man in my shoes – for wasting money on that that garbage pailed fetus of a film.

Probably won’t be buying the DVD…

Friday, June 20, 2008

Amber Rubarth's 23...

I'm just posting this one because she's so great.

Another Perfect Sunset provided by Amber Rubarth...

I found this song on Amber's My Space page today and I felt that it went perfectly with something I've been wanting to say.

I found out someone had Googled Deanna the other day and what do you think they found on my blog? Some smartass remark, of course. What else would you find? It occurred to me that I have never talked about how very lucky I have been to have some incredible women in my life. From Teresa to Vicky, Julie to Rosa, both Cindys, a couple of Tammys and others, too - I've been a very lucky guy throughout.

I heard this song about another perfect sunset - after another - and another - and they've all been perfect. I'm planning on enjoying many more with Vicky and I appreciate all the perfect ones I got to share before.

Thanks, Amber. For putting it to words.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My bike! My bike!… I’m a fucking nerd…

So, I picked up my bike last night.

It had been cleaned and lubed, all tuned up. It looked as good as new! Also, it had a new backlight and headlight and a cool, new computer. The computer will work as a clock and thermometer, speedometer, odometer, etc. etc. etc.

I can’t wait to try it. This weekend, my plan is to ride to the beach, which is easily 10-15 miles one way from our house. I’m going to leave early in the morning and, when I reach the beach, stop for breakfast.

So, what am I doing, writing about this on a Thursday morning? I’ll be honest with you; this is like my public shame! I’m becoming a middle-aged bike nerd! I’m okay with that… I guess… because it contributes to my health and losing weight – and all that shit.

But still, even as I feel this joy over the prospect of going to the beach, taking the longest bike ride of my life (which is saying something considering how much I rode as a kid), and preparing to commute to work on my bike, there’s a part of me (we’ll call him Smoker Ken) who leans back and laughs at the prospect – because I am just so uncool.


Oh well.

It could be worse. It could be a Segway.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Looking at tomorrow through yesterday's eyes...

Sometimes, these blog entries are just a way for me to write something I think is cool.

For instance, this past weekend I was driving with Vicky and I mentioned to her how I've felt myself changing ever since I quit smoking. This weekend, by the way, was the first time I used that phrase: I quite smoking. It's daunting, kind of scary, but I think after six months - and that day is coming soon - it's going to be hard to say I'm just taking a break. Anyway, I've felt myself changing since the day I decided to stop and the reason I have felt it is because I am fighting it every step of the way.

I said to her, "I'm looking at tomorrow through yesterday's eyes and I'm afraid of what I see."

Then, I thought, "I need to write that down..." Of course...

So, what do I mean by that, anyway? It seems to be that the most difficult changes in life come from within. They're often not about jobs or location, the projects we work on or the things we do from day to day. For me, at least, the most difficult change is the one where I say, "I'm going to do this and I'm probably going to be the only one who appreciates it." Quitting smoking was just the first step. The big change is not just stopping my self-destructive behavior but ending the part of my life that was dominated by self-destructive thoughts.

I mentioned Can language the other day and how I was trying to change my language from Can't to Can. This is a part of that. I guess, in a way, it's also a step closer to Buddhism. It's accepting reality and actively participating in the world I inhabit. For instance, my job sucks; I don't need to tell you that. Normally, I'd fight it, get sick, stay home, make things worse, get sick, stay home, etc. etc. etc. This time, I've decided to accept that life is often unpleasant and do the best I can. Here's another example: Rosa. I've missed Rosa for nearly a decade and have made myself emotional and mentally sick by not accepting that. So, why don't I just accept it, accept what I've lost with what I've gained, stop trying to have it both ways - you can't be happy while constantly grieving - and embrace what's real?

Because the man I was yesterday is looking out of today's eyes and doesn't want to give these things up. Change comes with certain challenges. But accepting today and letting the past have it's due is a part of that. Again, nothing I do with directly affect anyone else - but, perhaps, if I can be a better person, a more positive person who embraces life, maybe people will see me that way and see me as I really am. Or, maybe not.

Either way, what's important is how I see myself. With today's eyes, not yesterday's.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I’m a middle-aged man. I ride a bicycle…

When I was a teenager imagining my life in my 40’s… which wasn’t often, believe me… I tried to think I’d be just a little closer to “cool”.

A tiny bit.

Just a little.

So, when I tell you that I took a 16 mile bike ride today, realizing that it means that I spent my morning – from 6:45 to 8:15 am – riding a bicycle… that’s not exactly “cool”, is it? That’s not even on the cool side of dorky.

Oh well.

At least, I didn’t crash.

Now that would have been sad…

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Remember those freedoms we once cherished?...

I'm hearing rumors this mornign that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of restoring habeas corpus. They've taken a step in that direction, at least. They have ruled in favor of Gitmo detainees having the right to a fair trial... imagaine that.

The win was by a very narrow margin. There are still four justices who don't believe the United States is a country founded on the rule of law, sadly enough, a fact that should give you nightmares. But a narrow victory is still a victory and I'll take it. Next, we should look into restoring habeas corpus for all those detained by the US... including citizens!

I'm hoping Obama makes a big deal about this because I'd love to see McCain dissent. He's doing a great job so far telling us that oil companies need tax breaks, the rich need tax cuts, and the youth need a war to go to...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Electric cars once roamed this land...

This morning, pulling up at the gas pump, I noticed that the guy before me had put in $100 worth of gas. A hundred bucks! He'd put in just over 22 gallons, so I figured he had one of those gas guzzling, SUVehemoths.

When I put gas in my car, I never put in that much. I fact, I find it hard to put in more than $25.

Which I did today.

Got me just over 5 gallons.

Where's my electric car?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

14 miles and what do you get?…

I was out on my bike yesterday. By the end of the day, I’d put in 14 miles. What the hell was I thinking?

My fat gut, for one. Listen, if I’m going to have to keep this job where I can’t focus on developing my career skills (because I was sold a creative project management role and ended up in menial data entry) and I can’t focus on my writing (because I’m packed into a small cube space with two other employees and my boss), I’m going to have to start focusing my energy somewhere else. Since I quit smoking in December, getting healthy has become important to me and I figure that’s a good place to put my energy.

At least, I did until I was six or seven miles out. Then, all I could think about was what torture devices these bikes are! And my bike isn’t that great, either. I see these guys on their recomfy bikes and think, “That’d be a nice place for a nap…” Mine has a seat that you just can’t sit on for long and handlebars and that at just the right spot to be painful when you try to shift your weight forward.

But I was also thinking about how I used to do this with far less complaining. I’d take the river 8-10 miles down to the Newport Beach or Warner an easy 10-12 miles to Sunset Beach. This isn’t that new… trying it when I’m old and fat, well, some things you just shouldn’t want to discover.

But then, I got to the farthest spot out, where I decided to turn around, up by Yorba Regional Park. There was a little “rest stop” off the trail, with shade and benches and water. I stopped and peeled off my gloves, removed my helmet, took off my backpack, and started guzzling water. Nearby, a group of four older folks, easily in their 60’s, were taking a break from their ride, and they all looked like they were invigorated rather than beaten. Okay, okay, I thought. I get it. Every term we use to describe ourselves or our condition is fleeting. Old? Fat? Crappy job? I could die tomorrow so I best make the most of the time I have. I’ll keep at it and I’ll do the best I can at my job… and I’ll look for another one. The miracle of life often comes in the little pains of daily existence.

Speaking of little pains – the day after a 14 mile ride is filled with miracles!!!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The word is “shitty”…

At the risk of this blog becoming “Ken bitches about this shitty new job” – 24/7 – well, let’s go.

I thought it couldn’t get any worse than making them understand in the interview how important school is to me and then having them be completely inflexible about my work schedule to the point where I won’t be able to make it to class. I thought it couldn’t get any worse than my two-faced son of a bitch boss acting like we’re pals in front of people and then having him ask me into conference rooms and offices where he conveniently yells and threatens me. I thought it couldn’t get any worse than him taking credit for my ideas and then accusing me of not doing my job. I thought it couldn’t get any worse than being told that my job would be writing ad copy when it really turns out to be data entry. I thought it couldn’t get any worse than being yelled at and insulted by three foot tall Chinese woman for not volunteering to work over the weekend. I thought it couldn’t get any worse than being hired for my skills as a writer and then being told I might get some remedial tasks if I prove myself over the years.

It’s worse. I called EDD today to see if I could get out of this shithole job and reopen my unemployment claim, for which I had (there’s a hint) three months remaining. Nope. The way they look at it, I have a job – I’m no longer jobless – it doesn’t matter how shitty it is. So, I’ve got to remain at this new job no matter what until I find a new one.

Feeling pretty shitty right about now…

One of those bosses…

One of my co-workers said about my boss, “He’s above us.” That’s the attitude where I work, that if someone is in a higher position they are superior. You can imagine how well I fit in.

Here’s an example of how this works… or doesn’t…

One Tuesday, when asked about the inconsistencies on our data sheets, I suggested they create some templates to follow so that all of their data sheets followed the same corporate branding, look and feel. It’s marketing 101 and this company is still back in remedial English. So, my boss laughed, told me it couldn’t be done, and assigned me the task, overloading my schedule so I couldn’t get it done that day (even though I told him that it could take weeks).

Wednesday morning, I arranged a meeting with the Art Director to get his input and discovered, at meeting time, that my boss had hijacked the meeting to include himself and several other directors. Then, he took the credit for deciding we needed templates and began with, “Now, let’s start with the first line and work our way down.” He actually wanted everyone in the room to make a decision regarding what would be on every data sheet, line by line, in that conference room.

Chaos ensued… of course…

After about fifteen minutes of everything being out of his control, he turned to me and said, “Well, you had some ideas. Why don’t you talk.” Just like a child.

So, I told them. When creating templates, you begin with the lowest common denominators, lay out your common ground, and then start looking at differences. Lay out your big picture first before you make detailed decisions. You know, exactly the opposite of what my boss was doing. I did not mention his ineptitude or his terrible attitude. In face, I complimented him, tried to butter him up some, because I knew what was coming.

After the meeting, he held me back with that faux friendliness of his, shut the door, and began screaming about how I made him look bad. Mind you, I never forced him to try to take credit for my ideas before they were finished – I’m sure he’ll know enough to do that, too, when the time comes.