Time As I’ve Known It

Britany, The Fox and I got home just in time Sunday to have dinner with the family. Mom follows the southern tradition of serving pork and black-eyed peas to ensure good luck in the coming year. So we also indulge in that tradition—so far my life has been pretty damn good, so maybe there’s something there.

We listened to two different Rachael Maddow podcasts on the drive from Atlanta. Ultra and Bagman. Both were excellent but a bit depressing. Politics in these United States is and perhaps always will be corrupt. It made me realize that in my lifetime only two presidents have been free of scandals — Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. The rest were shady as fuck.

As of this morning, I started a deep dive on Silicon Valley to root out and correct copy edit errors and make a few tweaks. In the next couple of weeks I will also dust off Webb to find out where I left off and re-familiarize myself with the characters. I intend to pursue both projects simultaneously. Will see how that goes. It’s a lot—along with trying to take care of body and mind and raise a small dog and keep the man (woman) happy at work. And build a house. And just live life.

The Jungle Fox and I have been doing a lot of hiking. I call it hiking because it sounds more adventurous than walking. But mostly we just walk around the local municipal park a few times. Marti likes to wander through the hardwood trees and farm fields adjacent and I stick to the path.  It’s nice walking in the cold mornings. Bracing. Time to reflect—which is important for all of us.

Marti is now sporting a cone head for the next 10 days. It is a pathetic sight seeing a dog wearing a safety cone. But Martini had her birth control surgery yesterday and hence the cone. It will be a long 2 weeks for all of us. We got very little sleep last night as she was nauseous and expressing her opinion about the cone. I guess if she was not able to sleep, her view was we should be able to sleep either. But this will pass.

And lord knows I don’t need a gaggle of baby Jungle Foxes roaming around the estate.

A pro football player had a heart attack on the field. And the world stopped turning. Social media is aflame with thoughts and prayers. It’s the conversation in bars and talking heads on cable and networks. President Biden called the guys mom and dad. The game is postponed indefinitely. His charity raised $8M while he was in hospital. A huge statue is already being erected in his likeness and the stadium is being torn down. Okay—that last sentence is not true.

So……..Really? Tens of thousands of people die in the US every day. People have heart attacks even in the stands at sports events. 15,000 children under the age of 5 die every day from hunger or poverty related diseases. 15,000. Can you imagine 15,000 young dead bodies on your front lawn every single day and then the next day and the next. Why isn’t this headline news every fucking day? 

I’m not taking away from this family’s tragedy. But if you are a perfect stranger and never met the man—but are compelled to put pen to paper to express sympathy or toss up a prayer, why not do so in the name of the  innumerable children who suffer for weeks and months and years and then needlessly die because our capitalist system favors the wealthy over the poor. Or any one of the other millions of people suffering and dying that you also do not know. Why choose this one random stranger to focus your sympathy on. 

As Bukowski said ‘Nobody suffers like the poor baby’. 

I’ve finished Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Demon Copperhead’. Excellent book. Maybe as good as ‘Poisonwood Bible’. I listened to some of it in the car ride but also have the hard copy. So I read when not in the car. Or sometimes listen while cooking dinner.

It’s a sad book for sure. But also very illuminating. The central themes are poverty, Appalachian life in the 80’s and 90’s and that also means the opioid crisis. And Demon is in the middle of it. An orphan who runs the gauntlet of that childhood existence. As a good book should, it brings many things to the surface that challenge and educate. The reality that the circumstances we are born to are a massively influencing factor in how our lives play out. This is something that is easily forgotten in a society where the wealthy, who were nearly all born into that privilege, make the rules and control the media and most of how society functions. They will have us believe that the poor and disenfranchised, when they inevitably grow up to have difficult lives, have simply made bad choices. People should make better choices, like their children, who are blessed with excellent pre-natal care, early childhood education, strong and positive role models, excellent nutrition, excellent education, stable home lives and ultimately good university and then a job with friend of the family et al. 

It’s deeply embedded in our collective society. And you feel it of course—when you were raised to some degree in marginalized circumstances. The feeling of being raised poor never goes away completely. We spend a good part of our lives trying to prove to others that we are good enough. Are smart enough. If we find ourselves in decent circumstances we keep a watchful eye over our shoulders, waiting for someone to come ask us to leave. To remind us we don’t belong. I know this to be true.

I’ve long ago recognized the association between my obsession with work and my desire to feel valued by others. To feel valuable. Worthy. As in not minimized or invisible. In our society, we are first and most prominently measured on our means. This is a not particularly healthy trait—for me to embrace this societal dysfunction. But we only have so much swag in our deepest selves and the imprint from those early years remain a powerful influence many decades later. 

Last weekend I was set to spend 5 days at Black Dog Ridge. I have projects to complete and more and more that place wants me there. So off we go; the Jungle Fox and I. Except 4 hours in to the 4.5 hour trip I realize I had forgotten my laptop. It’s impossible to convey my anxiety at not having my laptop at arm’s length. After some fretting I decided to try to live without the machine for 3 days. I muddled through work on Friday using my phone, which is far from ideal. I deferred important things until I returned. It was hell but I miraculously survived 3 full days without my computer.

Saturday morning, I scoured the house for pen and paper. I needed to write things down. It’s just something I do. How else to document all the silly little observations I make each day. After going through every room, I finally found an old but working pen at the bottom of a box of electrical supplies and cut some squares of paper off the big roll I had brought to protect the floor while I was staining the trim. So I wrote for 30 minutes or so, most of it nonsense that would not find a permanent home, but the process is important to me. 

Some food for thought from an excellent article in New Yorker by Stephen Witt.

 Soon, in what many consider the most bizarre scientific result of all time, the physicists realized that whether an electron behaved more like a particle or more like a wave depended on whether or not someone was observing it. The field of quantum mechanics was born.
At the root of quantum-computing research is a scientific concept known as “quantum entanglement.” ​​Entanglement is to computing what nuclear fission was to explosives: a strange property of the subatomic world that could be harnessed to create technology of unprecedented power. If entanglement could be enacted at the scale of everyday objects, it would seem like a magic trick. Imagine that you and a friend flip two entangled quarters, without looking at the results. The outcome of the coin flips will be determined only when you peek at the coins. If you inspect your quarter, and see that it came up heads, your friend’s quarter will automatically come up tails. If your friend looks and sees that her quarter shows heads, your quarter will now show tails. This property holds true no matter how far you and your friend travel from each other. If you were to travel to Germany—or to Jupiter—and look at your quarter, your friend’s quarter would instantaneously reveal the opposite result.

Stephen Witt, The World-Changing Race to Develop the Quantum Computer, December 2022

So……just let your mind chew on that for a while.

Seems there is so much more to this universe and other universes and our existence than we can really even imagine. It makes the ‘what’s the meaning of life‘ question seem trite. Although, now that I think about it, I suppose my behavior is different when being observed so why not other things?

I came across a draft from a post from 2021 that never got published. This was while working on the Brookfield Assets Management gig in Cleveland. Nice folks and a good project.

There is a real beauty and truth in observing people who are very good at their job. We sat in multiple meetings the past few days to discuss cutover planning. In Fixed Assets, there are two very smart and capable older ladies who absolutely ran circles around their consultant counter-parts. They showed up prepared and already understood all the steps they had to take to convert and validate data, shut down the old systems and validate all transactional data when the new systems came up. It is complicated shit but these ladies were all over it. Quiet, confident, capable and articulate. Same thing in Accounts Payable and Commercial Lease Management divisions. All led by super smart, hard-working, clever women who have been here for years.

A real beautiful thing to see in a way. The executives are mostly men, except for my boss, Katie, who is the CIO. But these women are all tremendously respected for what they do. I even made them all hot ham and cheese croissants one day–just to show my appreciation for their knowledge and hard work on the program.

Work is so central to our identities in the modern environment. There is validation in being good enough at something that people will pay you to do that thing.

Visiting mom and dad the other day and dad presented me with a copy of my wine list from Senang that he had swiped once when they were visiting.

No other news of note

Humbly Submitted

2 thoughts on “Time As I’ve Known It

  1. I remember that wine list. 🍷

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    1. Ha. Brings back some memories eh? Happy New Year! Hope all is well.

      Like

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