Saturday, February 9, 2013

A few thoughts on the anniversary of Mom's death

Mom died on Saturday, February 11, 2012.  By day, that's a year ago yesterday.  By date, it's a year ago tomorrow.  In future years, I'll almost certainly think of it by the date, but because both feel significant to me now, I'm splitting the difference and writing about it today.

To no one's surprise, I still miss her.  I have to assume--and hope, really--that I always do.  She was my parent, the one constant in my youth.  Whatever else she did wrong, she was always there.

What does surprise me is the way the pangs of loss hit me.  I can now go a few days at a time without thinking about the fact that she is dead; that ability to forget and move on is natural and good.  (I would have guessed a year ago that I'd heal faster.  Shows what I know.)  Most of the time, when the loss washes over me, it is mild, a pain slowly receding.  Every now and then, though, in a conversation or sometimes completely unbidden by anything external, it will hit me like a punch to the stomach, a breath-stealing blow that leaves me stunned. 

I know I no longer have a mother, but like a little kid, sometimes I just really, really, really wish I did.

A line that has run continuously through my head for the last few days and that I used in a small toast at dinner with friends last night, sums up the lesson I am currently trying to take from Mom's death.

Let us cherish those we love, for we will never have as much of them as we want.

My advice to you, and to myself, on a winter Sunday, on the middle of the two anniversaries of my mother's death. 

the Scared is Scared

Good advice for us all, in a video Sarah turned me on to.

the Scared is scared from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.

We all too often forget to think of good things, of things and people we love.

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Bullet to the Head experience

I don't know if I'm a weirdness magnet or if I just pay closer attention to my surroundings than most folks, but I sure do manage to run into my share of odd stuff.

Take tonight, for example.  I wanted to de-stress by taking in a dumb action film.  Stallone's new (and tanking) Bullet to the Head fit the bill perfectly.  I didn't decide to go until late in the day, and none of the few people I contacted were interested in accompanying me.  No problem.  I am completely happy to watch movies (in the theater or at home) alone.

Off I went. 

I settled into my seat, my usual small (movie theater small, meaning 32 ounces) Coke Zero in hand.  I was the third person in the theater.  The other two were a guy two-thirds of the way up and a guy in the top row.  I sat in my usual spot: the first raised row, where I could put my feet on the bars in front of me.  As the first trailer was winding down, a man and a woman entered together and sat to my right and in the row immediately behind me.  The man looked happy; the woman looked put-upon.

About two-thirds of the way through the film, too much Coke Zero got the better of me, and I headed to the bathroom.  As I stood, out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of the couple behind me.  The woman's hand was moving in the man's lap.  She saw me see her, made an odd face, and quickly pulled back her hand.  The man immediately covered his lap.  I averted my gaze and headed for the restroom.

When I returned, her hands were folded primly in her lap.

I resisted the urge to give them a thumbs-up.

As far as I'm concerned, given that she was willing not only to accompany him to this movie (which the look on her face as she entered made clear was a sacrifice), but also give him a hand-job in the second row, she was aces in my book.

I do think, though, that a more isolated row might have been a better choice, as would a jacket on his lap.  Maybe a few tissues. 

Oh, if you're wondering about the movie, it was exactly what you'd expect, including a final fight between 5'8" (he claims 5'10", but I don't buy it), 66-year-old Sylvester Stallone and 6'4", 33-year-old Jason "remake Conan" Momoa, in which both wielded fireman axes.  What's not to like?  Face it, if you're even considering this movie, you already know if you'll have fun attending it.

Though entertainment from the audience can certainly liven up the evening.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On the road again: Silicon Valley, day 6

Early morning wake-ups are my kryptonite.  When I know I have to wake up in the sixes, I sleep poorly, awaken many times throughout the night, and am always tired when I finally have to hit the shower.  The fact that I go to bed late doesn't help, of course, but the fact remains that single-digit wake-up calls ruin sleep for me.  I clearly need to work on this area.

Despite that, and despite the joy of hitting the 101 in the morning, everything went smoothly in my journey from hotel room to checkout to rental car to airport to check-in to gate.  Amazing.  I was so pleased by my steady and uneventful progress that when the woman in front of me in security blocked all passengers for several minutes while she fiddled with her just-screened belongings, I didn't say a word.

No upgrades were available for me today, but I was lucky enough to get an exit-row seat on the first leg, so I could work the whole flight.

After that flight, my connection time was long enough that I was able to stop into a nearby Red Mango and enjoy their delicious berry parfait.  I'm very lucky I don't have one of these franchises anywhere near my house. 

A lot of walking and a ride on the tram later, and I was at my gate.  We boarded only ten minutes late, fastened our seat belts, closed the door...and sat.  And sat.  And sat some more, as the pilot had maintenance investigate a potential problem.  The issue proved to be a flaw in the rudder, which I am quite pleased they found before we took off.  After an hour on the plane, though, we got off, sat around, and eventually headed to another gate where a new plane awaited us.  I was happy to have a new plane, of course, but the long delays were no fun. 

Eventually, though, they told us to board this sold-out plane, a process that had previously taken 40 minutes, and they told us that we had only 17 minutes to do it or the crew would "go illegal" and we'd lose this plane.  I wasn't at all sure we could do it, but we did, with two minutes to spare. 

We landed in RDU more than two hours later than the original schedule, but at least we made it.  I'm happy to be home for a whole three days.

Monday, I head to Austin. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

On the road again: Silicon Valley, day 5

The highlight of an otherwise work-filled day was a superb dinner at Chef David Kinch's Manresa.  As I blogged about dinner on Saturday night of the Cayman Cookout, my one experience with Kinch's food there left me unimpressed.

Dining at Manresa changed my impression entirely.

The meal was simply world-class.  Every single course was delicious, beautiful, and thoughtfully composed.  Each first bite of a dish brought smiles and moans of pleasure to all at the table, and each last bite left us craving more.  Even the dessert courses, frequently the great weaknesses of otherwise stellar restaurants, were perfect, delicious and complex and beautiful--and thematically in keeping with the emphasis of the rest of the dishes on local products and nature.

We were lucky to get a kitchen tour afterward and to speak briefly with Kincher.  He was gracious, unhappy himself with how that Cayman Cookout meal turned out, and great to talk with.

I cannot recommend Manresa too much.  I already look forward to the next time I have the privilege of eating there.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On the road again: Silicon Valley, day 4

Today's travel stupidity comes to you courtesy  Yes, this morning I met my colleagues, headed out of the hotel to the self-park garage, and completely failed to find my rental car.  Because we were in a hurry, we took the car one of my colleagues had, but, boy, did I feel stupid.

We did easily find the car when we arrived back at the hotel after our last meeting of the day.

Apropos only of travel, I walked once into Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto on a cold winter night, heard this song from Outskirts, their debut CD, bought the CD, and began my long love of Blue Rodeo. 

The audio here isn't great, but so it goes; for that, you have to buy the CD.  You should own it anyway. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

On the road again: Silicon Valley, day 3

I've decided that because I cannot comment on the big things that occur on these work trips, almost all of which involve, well, work, I will instead periodically rant on the little annoying shit that gets in my face as I travel.

Such as hotel bandwidth.  I know that business hotels deal every single day with hordes of bandwidth-hungry businesspeople, but I don't care.  Those same hotels charge each of us a bloody fortune for our rooms, and then on top of that they typically levy another annoying fee (in today's case, $12.99 per day) for the privilege of connecting to the InterTubes.  For that sum, about a quarter of most folks' monthly Internet access plans, one gets bandwidth circa 2002, enough to do your email (slowly) and browse the Web (slower still), but not enough to move around big files or generally enjoy the Web as you do at home.  Hotels, we want our bandwidth!

Such as bathroom details.  I appreciate that this lovely Marriott might not want me to have to see my spare roll of toilet paper, but surely this room's designers could have found somewhere to put it that was actually in the bathroom.  But no, not these folks.  Instead, they put it on top of the closet, which you can reach only by leaving the bathroom and stepping into the entryway.  Great thinking, that bit.

Such as housekeeping staff who cannot recognize their hotel's "Do Not Disturb" signs.  That must be the problem, because why else would they knock at random times to see if you might want your room cleaned--even though that sign is hanging on your door?

Such as drivers on the 101 who despite the law, despite the traffic, despite all good sense, weave in their lanes and endanger our lives as they look down at their phones and text.  I want a front-mounted paintball gun that fires a shaped charge that upon impact with the offending vehicle spells out DANGEROUS DRIVER. 

Ah, the joys of business travel. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

On the road again: Silicon Valley, day 2

I spent most of today either sleeping, working, or changing locations.  I have to confess, though, to watching the Super Bowl commercials--well, all but the first hour of them--as I worked.  From what I saw, this year's crop was not one of the better ones, though of course the spots I missed might have been the true stars.  I unavoidably caught some of the game, which seemed to be a good one, despite the long power outage just after the second half began.  I've never been a football fan, though, so I could not get but so involved. 

Tomorrow, I begin my second week visiting clients on the road, and the second week in a row away from home.  It's not my favorite way to live, but it's hard to complain about getting to stay in a nice hotel in a (comparatively) warm and sunny place.

So I won't.


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