Monday, January 31, 2005

Music in my Head

All I hear, in the background of my thoughts these days, is Marvin Gaye: "Mother, Mother, there's too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother There's far too many of you dying. . . Oh, what's going on, What's going on?" You know the song, or you should. I know that the context is not the same, but between the natural and personal disasters of late, and the daily death toll from Iraq, I’m just, well, not even sure what I’m supposed to think and feel anymore. Even my sustained employment has been made uncertain in the last couple of weeks, the implied contract of a full paycheck in return for my promise to show up when I'm supposed to has been voided. What’s Going On?
I want to believe, with the faith of a sixth-grader who says the pledge of allegiance proudly, that we are paving the way for self-determination and democracy, despite the Iraqis’ own efforts to blow each other and us back into a state of ignorance. Increasingly, I just want our young people to stop dying. And I sure as hell want to stop teaching our children to torture those that are powerless into whatever it is we want them to do. Talk about sending mixed messages. Which one do you think will be remembered, longer? I used to make TV repair calls to a clientele that included a fairly large contingent of Holocaust survivors here in town. I can never forget seeing the tattoos on their forearms, with the smallest inkling of recognition of what that might represent. What scars are we creating for Iraq? "You see, war is not the answer, For only love can conquer hate . . . Don't punish me with brutality. . ."
I know, you’re just supposed to keep on keepin’ on, and that’s what I do. Keep the faith. Hang in there. I’m proud of , support, and thank God every day for those who place themselves in harm’s way for me. I’m for freedom. I can’t help but think, though, that people who don’t want to be free, or can’t see it for what it is, don’t deserve it until they do. That’s the difference between Brezhnev and Gorbachov. "Oh, you know we've got to find a way To bring some understanding here today. . ."
I’m just saying.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Road Less Traveled

I didn’t know what to do. I was standing in the street. I really wanted to just walk down the hill, get into my car, and drive home to my wife, two kids, and the afternoon I had planned. Instead, I walked across the street into the building and took the elevator to the 8th fl.
I found him in the hallway, with her Dad. I was really here to see him, to offer whatever support my words and physical presence could provide to a man about to lose his wife. His children sat at the end of the atrium. "How’s it going," I said; nothing else to say. "This sucks." "Yup." "Let’s go see her," he said.
We entered the room, and he leaned over, kissed her, and told her that I was there. I held her hand and tried to tell them both how much they had meant to me and my family, their faith and encouragement to us as we battled our own problems, that we were able to share and support each other a little. I felt what was either a spasm or Jerri respond with her hand, I will never know for sure. I’d like to think so, but I’m a skeptical guy. I’m not trying to paint a romantic picture. I looked at her, knowing that it was probably the last time I’d see her. Her head was turned to the side, as I’ve been accustomed to seeing her, at church, at parties, here and there with groups of friends. I tried to burn her profile into my memory. Even in this condition, she is a graceful beauty. As much as it still hurts, it was a privilege to hold her hand and be present with her.
We left the room and returned to the hallway, windows open to the bay. It was a clear day, I could see the Coronado Islands. I have come to deeply respect Brad, our common backgrounds and suffering have given us a way of connecting past the awkward things that most people say. We are two intelligent, able men who are powerless against these forces, and I hope that I in some measure return the strength that he provides me. As we spoke of our different-but-connected perspectives on life, I looked out over the city to the water. The water. The water that had taken so many lives just a couple of weeks ago. This wave was only going to take one.
I left him, and went home to my wife, 2 kids, and the afternoon I had planned. I learned of her passing, last night, as I write this this morning. I am saddened, and will continue to greive for her, but I am glad, today, that I did not take the easy path. I do so hope that you are in Paradise, today, dear Jerri.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Computer Karma and Backups

I am a firm believer in both. As someone who has had a near-Information Systems career (I never mastered the secret handshake, so I don’t get to go to the seminars where they chortle over "Petals over the Rose" and drink Jagermeister and Red Bull at the same time till their heads hurt), I consider myself "computer-savvy." Which means that I can talk about computers the way guys used to talk about cars. "I been thinkin’ about upgradin’ my P4 at 1.6 Gig, ya know, should I go with the Celeron 3.2 or stick with Intel? Hafta get another motherboard, but then I could go SATA and that would kick ass. . ."
As such, I have the privilege of often helping others, as well as helping myself. This can have serious, detrimental consequences with relationships; to forget a friend’s birthday is one thing, to lose all of their children’s baby photos is quite another. I do do a better job of protecting others’ data than my own; I’m getting better at backing up my own stuff, more often. While I’ve found that one can often mitigate the course of general entropy in the universe, which includes computer problems, disaster usually strikes at a point where and when it is least expected, or desired.
I managed to goof up my Dad’s computer last Tuesday, while trying to troubleshoot a problem. I did so, foolishly, before making a backup. I’d only managed to mangle the operating system, Dad’s data was still o.k., so I did a backup THEN. I put the files on my hard drive, and went to bed.
Next morning - Jury duty. I get up and push the "Power on" button on my computer, intending to copy some MP3 files onto my Pocket PC to pass the time in the jury room. No boot. No reboot. UNABLE TO BOOT FROM DRIVE. PLEASE INSERT BOOT DISK AND PRESS ENTER. I’m thinking that things aren’t so great in the computer world. How’m I going to explain this to dear old Dad?
Sigh. Off to the courthouse, where I at least have a couple album’s worth of songs, but then one earphone pulls apart when I abruptly remove it to hear some inane announcement. Monophonic just doesn’t cut it. But I digress. Later, back at the data center –
I was able to recover all but the last week of my computing (the important parts had, thankfully, been sent to clients upon completion, whew!). Restored Dad’s system from a year-old backup (thankfully he doesn’t tweak his system around the way that we "savvy" folk do), and his data from Tuesday’s. All's well that ends, well, well.
I’m now back to daily backups – it is the gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A Quick Program Note

Thank you for checking in. I'm told that I'm averaging about 5 visitors a day, I'm pretty pleased with that, even at this low production rate of mine. I have to say that it's been hard for me to work up a good gripe lately, I just keep thinking of all of the people just looking for safe drinking water on our planet right now - it just shuts me right up. We were talking last night about some of the depravity and exploitation that these events seem to expose, compounding the natural disaster to create wider human tragedy. The spectrum of our abilities to both uplift and degrade each other, often in the same moment, is simply overwhelming me.
I've added an RSS feed for those of you that know what that is; I'm still looking for a decent, free reader to find out for myself. Let me know if you've found one.
And, as always, any answers to the above questions would be sincerely appreciated.