Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The First Official Un-niversary

This is the first year that I am not married on the anniversary of my marriage. It would have been 14 years today. I do not mourn the loss of my marriage. I did at one time, but no longer.

We were folks who got married for a host of bad reasons. We made a go of it for a bit, but the cracks appeared early on and just got worse. Even if my ex had not been gay and a philanderer I doubt it would have survived.

So, happy Un-niversary to me!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Blood Bonds

I am a blood donor. Not as prolific as my father. My Pop was O Negative and they would track him down to donate ever 56 days. No telling how many gallons her donated in his lifetime.

My blood type is much more mundane, good ol' A Positive. I manage organizing my employer's blood drives with the Red Cross. We have one per quarter at three separate sites where I live and work. We collect about 600 pints a year or so.

I am an irregular apheresis donor, too. There was a time when I went almost every two weeks, but after a while my arms hurt more and more from the frequent donations so I toned back. Then I stopped. I went this Saturday morning for the first time in over a year. It is a significant time commitment, about 2 - 2 1/2 hours. Other than the needle sticks, it is generally an easy process. They have a decent selection of DVDs to watch while one is in the chair.

I opted out of the movies on this visit and listened to podcasts. That turned out to be a bad call, as I kept drifting off to sleep. It is kind of comfy in the chair, heating pad on my lower back and covered in a think cotton blanket. It can be a chilly process, as they keep the room fairly cold and the blood cools a little as they run it through their machine to extract the platelets and pump the remainder back into the other arm.

I enjoy donating for another reason. A member of my immediate family and a member of my extended family require regular platelet donations. It is not feasible for me to travel where they live to donate, nor is it cost effective for the Red Cross to ship my donation to them. But someone in their areas are going to the effort to donate for them, so this is my way of giving back to those that help keep them alive. It seems the least that I can do.

A fair number of people cannot donate do the exclusions that limit donors. Other people cannot handle the process of donating and pass out. I used to be that person, and to this day I cannot watch the needle stick or  look at my arms at the needles and tubes without getting woozy, and I have been donating for over 25 years. But if you can donate, and find the time, it is appreciated by the people that need whole blood or platelets.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Observations from the Men's Room at the Office

Here are a few reminders for you fellas:

1) Feel free to zip up before stepping away from the urinal. Nobody wants to see what you're packing. Well, some may, but I am not one of them. Feel free to take that extra second to to put everything back in place before getting back into traffic.

2) Take an extra moment and leave your coffee/soda/lunch outside of the bathroom. I know you are attached to whatever you brought in with you, but what made you think that leaving it by the sinks was a good idea. Really? And if I see you dropping off food/reclaiming after taking care of business, odds are I am never going to lunch with you, eating at your home, etc.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pine Pollen

Spring has arrived in the Deep South. There are many trees, flowers, bushes and other flora in bloom. Shades of green are replacing browns all over. The weather is warmer, and rain is frequent.

One of the things that comes with the season is pine pollen. We have a lot of pines throughout the South, and they tend to produce a fine, yellow powder that coats everything. I look forward to opening the windows at home, enjoying the breeze and the temperate conditions that will only be with us for short while. Pollen challenges my patience, as I must dust every day to keep my home from looking like Miss Havisham's.

I am one of the lucky ones and I don't suffer from many of the allergies that others fight. I do get the occasionally stuffy nose and itchy eyes, but I know it is nothing compared to what some go through this time of year.

At least winter is gone.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday I'm in Love

Well, not really in love, let's be clear. But I am excited about the possibility of a weekend with Spring weather. It is supposed to be in the 70s from now through Sunday, with clear skies.

I am in the office today, but it will still be nice when I leave for the evening. I plan on dropping the top, putting on my sunglasses (yes, they are prescription because they have to be and I really dislike contacts and I cannot stomach the thought of corrective surgery), and then take the long way home to Little One.

We have plans tonight. Little One and I are volunteering to assist the skating club with helping ready the facility for the weekend's competition. I do enjoy volunteering. Most of the ongoing work I do is with blood causes. I manage the quarterly blood drives for my company in 3 locations, and I also help with Be the Match registration and getting folks on the National Bone Marrow Registry. Some anonymous donor several years ago saved the life of a family member (for whom I was not a match) and I will do what I can to return the favor.

Saturday will be spent at the ice rink. I am sure we will be tired when that is all finished, so we will probably just eat out and then crash. Sunday I hope to also spend outside. There is an off-chance that I friend and her kids my stop by for a bit on their way to the beach, so I hope we can make that get together happen, if only for a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Middle Age Crazy? Maybe...

"Today he traded his big '98 Oldsmobile
He got a heck of a deal on a new Porsche car"

To be clear, I have not now, nor ever, owned an Oldsmobile. I am not opposed to Olds but I just have never owned one. I did get a heck of a deal on an older Porsche car. In fact, last week, I pulled the trigger and purchased a 911 Cabriolet. It is a 996 model, for those of you who are Porsche-philes or just car buffs. For those who are not, it is a first generation of the water-cooled Porsches. Purists often prefer the older air-cooled versions.

I had been looking for a long time for one of these, and, in fact had about given up my search and had been seriously considering purchasing a 1988 Alfa Romeo Spider. A pretty car, but with none of the power or handling of the German car. I might even go so far as to say that Alfa has cleaner lines, but that is about it. The Italian roadster offered manual steering and an anemic 115 horsepower.

The little car I purchased is silver. It has a few miles on it, but not many considering it's age, and less than half what I have on the Saab, which is several years newer. I found the car in Charleston, South Carolina. A couple of weekends ago I made the trek to see the car. I took it for a spin around town in the rain. It was a delight to drive. I spent the next four hours examining the car, calling friends and experts with questions about it, and reviewing the service records that had been maintained with the vehicle. 

I walked away from it that rainy Sunday, determined that I needed a couple of days to do some additional research and really think about it. Two days later I made the purchase. That was eight days ago. It will be Saturday before I have the chance to return to the city and take possession of the car. 

I am looking forward to the trip. I have wanted a Porsche for about 30 years, when I first encountered the 944 Turbo. I came close after to college to buying a 928S4 (I bought a BMW convertible instead). But the desire to have a true performance car was always in the back of my mind.

Call it a mid-life crisis. Look at the me, the middle-aged guy in the Porsche and sneer and make snide comments. I really don't care. I will enjoy the car. I will enjoy the throaty rumble of the flat-six as i push the pedal on the right into the carpet and flick the car into some corners on some sleepy road in the Deep South. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Office Algebra

If Jud drinks two (2) 20 oz. Diet Dr. Pepper's, one before and one during, a two hour conference call on regulatory compliance, how long until his bladder explodes? (please show your work)

Extra Credit:
1) If I were to leave my desk to visit the loo, how many seconds would it take before a senior manager would ask me a question on the call that I would then miss?

The Return of Finicky..

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

System(s) Failure

Technology of any sort, can be a delight, from the simplest machines to most complex bits of computerized automation. Heck, technology sent humankind to the moon but also sent other astronauts hurtling to their doom.

In my life, cars, cell phones, the cable box and computers are the bits of technology that frustrate me the most.

Cars I take for granted and expect them to work and reliably and get me from A-Z with gasoline, regular oil and other fluid changes and the odd tire replacement and brake job. But when the car is on the blink, then life changes remarkably. I am currently a one car enterprise, which is unusual. Normally I have the daily driver and then the former daily driver which is now the backup "hoop-dee". My daily driver is currently going through the change, and as I believe I have mentioned, I need a new daily driver. I will keep you posted.

Cell phones - oh, where to begin with this love/hate relationship? I like having a phone. I like the ability to communicate with family, a few friends and the local delivery food joints. Sadly, this is also the device that  work uses to contact me at all hours of the day and night. And why does every dang app have to send me updates? Really? I want to use your service at my convenience and not be bombarded with every little tidbit that CNBC and Politico think I have to know right this second. It goes without saying that I don't use Twitter, as I think it would make me even more mental.

The cable box that I had with DirecTV was a wonder. Easy for me to use, set up recordings, manage them, etc. Charter seems to have taken a different approach and wants me to curse at their silver box of frustration.  And I really don't like getting up to retrieve the remote that I have thrown at it, either.

My job is really not supposed to be too technical, and yet everything I do revolves around systems I don't own (and programmers I don't manage) working properly. When one of them goes wonky, my world spirals out of control quickly. My email is bombarded. My phone rings. Text messages come a'flying.

Such is life I suppose.

Monday, February 4, 2013

On Humor, Snarky Comments and being an Ass

The internet and its various methods of communicating to the world, whether publicly via Twitter or Facebook, privately in email, or semi-privately as on a blog such as mine can lead to issues.

In the past, on a former blog of mine, I got into it with a fellow blogger who read me the riot act for being a whingy middle class white dude with know idea of what life was really like. I had known this fellow online through our mutual blogs for a couple of years. He was very opinionated (I daresay even more than me) and more outspoken. He called me on the carpet. In retrospect, I think he was quite right. We continue to swap stories and communicate to this day. I value his insight into my little musings.

Another time a very smart and sassy teenager took me to task for what I thought was a humorous comment on her blog, and to which she took a few jabs at me. She was much more clever than I am witty and had quite a laugh or two at me.

It nice to have a certain anonymity here on the blog. I don't have many readers, and several that are know who I am. Maybe not well, but they at least know me. Some of them do know me, at least via my online presence on social media. A few I know in my daily existence. I would leave it to them to estimate if I am more or less myself on here or someone else altogether. I know that on social media I, like many others, try to craft a certain persona and only draw attention to those aspects of my life that I am proud of or want to share. I am sure that there is a lot in my life that they might have a prurient interest in but that I try to obscure and certainly would never publicize.

I can be snarky in my comments and posts, both here and elsewhere. Sometimes they are attempts at humor. Other times I may be an ass, whether intentionally or just because I haven't really thought through my actions.    To quote Puck,
" If we shadows have offended, 
2275Think but this, and all is mended, 
That you have but slumber'd here 
While these visions did appear. 
And this weak and idle theme, 
No more yielding but a dream, 2280
Gentles, do not reprehend: 
if you pardon, we will mend: 
And, as I am an honest Puck, 
If we have unearned luck 
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue, 2285
We will make amends ere long; 
Else the Puck a liar call; 
So, good night unto you all. 
Give me your hands, if we be friends, 
And Robin shall restore amends."

As I court jester I fear I would have lost my head long ago.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Car Shopping

I have been scouring the Internet for months looking at European cars. Mostly Porsches, but also the odd BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar. I really want one.

Rationally, buying an older car of foreign manufacture is not a wise fiscal move. Having previously owned an old Land Rover and a BMW I have felt the sting of labor bills and the costly replacement parts.

It might make more sense to buy a new, cheap American or Korean econobox. But they are soulless. I cannot make an emotional connection with those vehicles.

What about a Honda or a Toyota, one might ask. The rugged dependability of those brands does appeal to that part of me that likes things to work with little conscious thought or effort. But I am not wild about them.

So my thoughts return to the cars from Europe. A BMW M5 with a manual gearbox. Maybe a 650i with the bizarre rear end. The newer Jaguar XK is sleek, but the residuals are scary. The SL500 is a nice car, but the body styles vary a great deal year to year, and the headlights look odd. Porsches are what I truly lust after, but am I setting myself up to become a statistic of I purchase a car with that much power and grace that I would be lulled into trying driving maneuvers that I would never contemplate in a lesser vehicle?

Let us hope that the Saab continues to find its way to work and back each day and that I continue to add to the car fund until I make up my mind and don't rush to buy something out of desperation or passion. The hangover from buying a car can be worse than a bad night out drinking.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

And Now, the Weather

It has been gray and rainy for quite some time now in my lil patch of the Deep South. I am certain that this is not the sort of thing that the Chamber of Commerce is pleased with, and I imagine that in some dimly lit office downtown there are people even now drafting memoranda to the National Weather Service seeking an explanation that does include any heretical references to "global warming."

With the forecast for snow being tossed out yesterday, children had hopes as high as on Christmas Eve hoping against hope that somehow snow would fall and school would be closed. No such luck. The morning broke rainy and cold, but the local forecasters were adjusting their models and tried to pinpoint the exact moment when the rain would turn to snow today.

We shall have to wait and see what happens. I like an occasional fall of snow. I prefer it to occur overnight, so I don't have to drive in it with the mighty throngs of fellow Southerners who have no idea how to drive when there is even a hint of snow.With my luck, though, whatever snow the descends will be about the time that I leave work, and the drive that normally takes 30 minutes will take hours. I can even imagine commuteres telling tales of their heroic trek through an inch (or less) of slush, and how poodle was even eyed as dinner in case a Donner party situation were to occur on the interstate.

Stay warm and dry, and if you see my car, steer clear. I won't have the traction control on because I need a thrill.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Nerd Chronicles, Part mmxiii.xii

 Or, "How I Spent My Christmas Vacation."

You might think that the recently divorced Jud would be the scamp and up to some sort of mischief that would bring a tear of joy to the eye of Bacchus, but no. I was, to use the vernacular, "getting my nerd on."

After Little One headed off to spend time with the EW, I hopped in the car and went off to the land of the palmetto, the low country boil, and shrimp and grits to do some research. I spend a couple of days in the state archives, assisted by a helpful and friendly staff, paging through volumes in the stacks, digging in the microfiche cabinets and looking for images of centuries old documents.

The sense of excitement and giddiness that I felt at times can be likened to that of a child at Christmas, as a piece of data fills a gap in knowledge. A hunch is confirmed - or dispelled - but then the truth is known and proven. One answer led to many more questions. My mind was often racing faster than I could take notes.

I would hop off from the microfiche reader and rush to the computer, look at something else, grab the pad, and then head to the map room to locate some ford in a small river in a district that no longer exists but has been split into counties. The time flew by. I took few breaks. I spent lunch eating in my car, or down the street at the waffle hut, drinking bad coffee and refilling my LDL cholesterol.

I took my dinners sitting at the bars of local eateries, a pint of beer or a glass of scotch before me, straining to read poor copies of documents from 1795 and making notes on a legal pad. Fortunately I was thoroughly engrossed so that no fellow patrons or bartenders tried to make witty banter with me. I felt curious glances at times, but chose not to be drawn into inane conversations with these passersby.

I also visited the state university's library and remarkable map collection, adding to my wonder and respect for librarians, archivists and their craft. I don't have the patience for all of the cataloging, arranging, filing and storage, but I do appreciate that they do, and have done it so well for so long.

After two days and nights, I headed out to find a Revolutionary War site where one of my ancestors had trod. I spent the best part of a day wandering along the river, trudging across muddy fields and wooded paths. I spoke with the ranger several times. As I was the only visitor enjoying the park that day, we had time to talk in depth about the formal research that has been conducted on the site over the years, the documentary history of the battle, and the state of preservation of the site. My father had been a park ranger, and it isn't too hard to tell if a ranger really loves what they do and if they really know much about the site where they work. This man was a student of his site. He had been there for 12 years and was well versed in its history, research, and the period as a whole. I was impressed.

I took lunch on the porch of the visitors center, eating cheese, crackers and an apple. It was a cold winter's day, fairly gray and windy, but beautiful nonetheless. Late in the afternoon, after an exchange of email addresses with the ranger and a parting wave, I headed towards the coast.

I went to a coastal city rich in history. I had known of it more for its importance in the Civil War, but it possesses a history much richer and deeper than that. The dichotomy of the present and the layers of the past was great fun. Amazing, fresh seafood was to be found, and the sun decided to come out and dance upon the water. I sat for some time watching boats sail in the harbor, dwarfed by a container ship that made its way in from parts unknown with its load of cargo.

I spent my New Year's Eve writing in the hotel. I had a ground floor room, so I heard the chirps of people locking and unlocking their cars all night. I was asleep early, probably by 2200. In the morning, I rose, went the gym, nibbled at the usual complimentary breakfast fare, then hit the road for home.

It was the best holiday I have had in years. I hope to have more and similar travels in the not too distant future.