Monday, April 11, 2011

Twenty Eleven (so far)

scampers along rather quickly....massive work travel keeps me away from WV mid-winter through spring. Eleven weeks of sunrises from Gulfport, Virginia Beach, Hatteras, and Nice (France!) ...were all spectacular but alas poor kitty Josta was abandoned with Megan. Yeah, it was rough, stressful and full of opportunities to scrutinize the ugliness in people..... but what the hey, I intend to remember the good bits in my Alzheimer years.

But, this is not a 'work report', I do enough of those already. Nah, it is about the stuff that gets woven idle chit chat with strangers. Making a side-trip to Daytona to hang out with Mark, Charlotte and the boys from Mississippi was special. Road-trippin' with with my sisters in Europe was fantabulous and doing good work for customers who matter make all the difference....and helps me deal with your average run-off-the-mill irritant.

As a friend once said "It is what it is".
The end of the trip was capped off with a revisit to Merlefest with old friends and before I knew it I was home in WV. C'mon summer!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I don't think I'll ever cut it, neither as a priest nor bartender. This, despite my trusty "Do not mess with Drunks" rule by which I faithfully abide. A rule, I might add, that has served me quite well; call it self-preservation-through-conflict-avoidance.

Each morning I peel the kitty cat off me and tell her to behave as I head out in search of dragons to slay. I ritualistically join fellow caffein-aholics at our neighborhood watering hole with a cheery greeting from Wally, Fred hollers a slightly accusatory "You're late!" capped with a polite nod to the breakfast club. Regulars notwithstanding, one never knows who might slide up alongside ya at the bar. Judging from his innocuous chatter, my neighbor today appeared friendly enough; or so it seemed. For some, the ring of a cell-phone also summons an imaginary cone-of-silence; think reverse-elevator-silence. Personal laundry is splattered, Gallagher-like, in grievously stark detail to all within earshot before being dispatched over the airwaves. My affable counter-mate is suddenly transformed into something possessed; a seething, ranting, bitter ex-something forecasting grand malevolence for that (once cherished) person on the other end of the phone line. I felt like a reluctant voyeur to this one-sided, insipid tirade.
For others, it seems neither alcoholic nor cellular catalyst is required to trigger an unprovoked, uncensored marathon confession. Is it me? Last night, exhausted to the verge of tears, I flew home beside one such individual. His depth of objectification (and some derision tossed in for good measure) of the opposite sex bordered on being unfathomably comical. No amount of hail marys would've helped this poor soul. Have we no inside-voice no more? While typically non-confrontational, I was seriously at risk of running afoul of my own rule. Sadly, I must take this opportunity to apologize for being a wuss and not HTFU in front of the raving lunatic in 17F.

In either case, it felt like I was being flashed and merely stood there, mouth agape, rather dumbfounded....(rant off)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Truth in advertising; just musing

Last night, as I was being lulled asleep by the president's speech in Tucson I couldn't help but feel just a splash of national pride as the swell and heave of his words rallied the sad, weary people to applause. The power of words, be it claim, assurance, or comfort is impressive..... Barely an hour earlier I had assured a friend of the structural soundness of a certain product emblazoned with 'Made in Malaysia'. My shaky delivery was backed by the feeble touch of true conviction......

Enroute to Tampa, I bumped into a couple from my native land. We chatted a little about the weather but, curiously, your typical reminiscing didn't ensue. You know, the kind of "You're from where?", "Remember this?", "Is whatever still there?" conversation. Not that they weren't nice or nuthin'; but sometimes you just 'let it be'. They retreat to passing commentary in cantonese while I traipse off to harass the lady at the smoothie counter. Oddly enough though, the next fella I talked to declared himself, rather proudly, a WVU alum and a paisan moment was to be had; he was picking up what I was laying down. We were practically high-fiving, perhaps to the chagrin of the airport-worn travelers about us. Funny how in the former, the claimed kinship rang hollow while in the latter, well not so much a stumble.

It is far too early for me to wax nostalgic; really, really I'm barely through a mid-life crisis! But in these battle-weary days, it was easy to succumb. Yes, yes...looking back not forward. I told my new friend about my (catholic) high-school science project back in the early 80s. With the help of dad (miss you), I built an artificial heart. Jarvik 7 it was not but there was plexiglass, atriums, ventricles, mitral valves....the works. It impressed me. Yet the kid who won the fair had a far simpler, yet more engaging display. He, with help of family from across the border in Johor, had brought vats of latex and a clothesline adorned with cylindrical, porcelain molds. His subject: "Condoms can stop AIDS". It was technically trivial, slightly provocative but superbly timely. Over the years, I’ve had the lesson repeat itself (again and again), perhaps it has finally sunk in.

In a moment of emboldened, unmitigated surge of self-worth, I quietly declare myself “Not so bad”; after all I’m still a Libran.

So to my new pal Lilly, “Buatan Malaysia”, have no fear; it’s pretty teguh !

Saturday, November 20, 2010

duckie goes to Maryland

I recently smiled, grinned and chortled my way through Eric Weiner’s ‘Geography of Bliss’ and somewhere within Eric accuses us Americans for being quite obsessed by the business of happiness and that we, more than anyone else, expend sinful levels of energy worrying and chasing after this elusive state. Really? Ritualistic, rarely paralyzing, whole-hearted introspection seems to accompany fall and luckily I’m often too busy to afford much energy for this indulgence.
Remember the suicidal leaves in Monty Python’s ‘Meaning of life’? Well this past week we had a real life skirmish with a similar, hardly funny, real-life equivalent. Our exemplary, yet fragile, team was a hair’s breadth from disintegration; leaving each of us to retreat to our own solitude to contemplate the consequences. What makes us happy? With work at least, the usual suspects get trotted in, each getting a spotlight minute. Money; oh yeah, that’s an easy one. Recognition, thoughtfulness and some regard for the future round up some horribly non-empirical formula for ‘job satisfaction’. Preservation of the team resonated in our skulls; maybe Spock croaked it out best, “The needs of the many…. Is this it? Is one’s career defined solely by the collective accomplishments of the team? After all I never really ‘got’ the whole “Army of One” concept. But, as luck would have it, the week wasn’t going to end without a dash of Libran-inspired balance. Friday evening, I got to wish bon voyage to our company’s first retiree. Larry graciously, confidently bid us farewell while gently entreating us to someday trace the trail he was about to hike. Here was a man, clearly at the summit of Maslow’s pyramid, this was his day; the culmination of career measured not in decades but in the gathering of friends all at once sad, happy and tearful for his future. So no, no, we don’t get to eventually write our life’s chapters cloaked in the shadow of the Borg collective. Perhaps resistance is somewhat futile, but it does not mean individualism and personal accomplishment are sacrificed either. Congratulations Larry and Betsy; feel no pressure for the role models you fulfill for the rest of us!

p.s. hanging out with my two snortfully, boomy, hilarious work-sisters, Amy and Angel, was super-swell.... as well :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Duckie goes to a rally

a last minute dash to DC with buddy Sam to take in Jon Stewart's rally for the (hopeful) moderates. I said to Sam, "this is like a music festival....minus the mud"....
Dad always promoted moderation in all things, and here was a huge rally promoting that very could I not attend? But like Stephen Stromberg's Post commentary concluded...while the diversity was indeed gratifying to see but there was much promotion of personal agenda. This, in itself, was not particularly worrisome, but the sea of posters included a sprinkle of us-vs-them intolerance. I suppose to hate back when hated is an unsurprising reaction.

More picsises here

Monday, October 11, 2010

and before you know it....

The red-eye is rough, Megan saves me from the baggage carousel, Janoskis for breakfast, cat-nap and back to the job.......twas fun, rest of the pictures here