Vasa Deferentia Abrumpo, Inter Magis…

… Or, “Say goodbye to my little friends,” among other things.

Today was one of those monumental days. And here’s the short list as to why (in chronological order):

  • The first “official” men’s morning Breakfast/Bible study for our church
  • Launched a massive minor-point version release of our survey software at work
  • Got a vasectomy
  • Downed an Oregon Blackberry shake
  • My two oldest kids had a piano recital

Wait. What? I got a what?!
Continue reading…

Old 53, The Things Only Time Can Do

I think this is still my favorite texture picture I’ve ever taken. This is a slightly modified variant with some color burning and blur filtering. Just seems to have so much emotion and mystery.

Old #53 — The things only time can do

Infinity, Minus One.

Limits. Breaking. A little more tape, and some glue and I think I can stand another run. Fake being alive. Holding myself together and pretending the cracks are not there.

I can’t tell if it is dusk or dawn or if my orbit has shifted ever so slightly that I never noticed the light fading and the warmth dissipating fractions of a degree at a time until I’m in the arctic circle again, wondering how the hell I got here and wondering why I’m so fucking cold. Empty. Dizzy. Paralyzed. Staring down at my feet the entire time I’m wandering around looking for answers. Looking for reasons. Navigating my life by the cracks in the concrete. Looking for meaning and validation as a person, as a man, father, husband, worker, dreamer. I keep running into the same obstacles. I keep cutting myself off and tripping myself up. If it was raining hope outside, I’d run out there and suddenly have an umbrella to stand under. Nausea. Vertigo. I’m stuck in an infinite loop fixated on my feet trying to keep my balance. Working way too hard to make sure I’m stepping in the right place so I don’t crash all the while wondering where the right places to step are, as if making a mistake will cause the universe to crumble. Paint over the mistakes; put more glue in the cracks. All I see are my feet, occasionally catching her reflection in the water I’m trying to not drown in, mistaking what I see for reality. My emotions and thoughts spin constantly. Unstable. Circles. Circular. Cyclical. Dead. Fight scenes and games play themselves in my head making me wonder if anything is real. Comparisons torment my self confidence.

Not all parts of the loop are bad. It’s nice when my orbit takes me around the sun and I get lit up and thawed. Moments like those are addicting and invoke ill-fated endurance and stamina, perpetuating the cycle and in the shadows it’s cold and lonely. Behind the light of the moon and falling through space without any sense of direction or sense of being makes me sleepy. The stars are a blur and they feel so far away. Hopeless, tired, worn out and contemplating letting it all go. Hoping I get lost. It takes all I have to hang on lately. The hardest thing to do is wait for another revolution for my time in the sun, my blip on her radar; to wait for the warmth and the embrace and the kisses like drops of light on my face. Giving up, walking away and drowning in the muck and the mire and the mundane and the deafening silence seems better than waiting for just another moment of peace, fleeting awareness and the stifled affections of brilliance. Come on, baby, play me somethin’ like, “Here Comes the Sun.”

Too many times I tell myself, “This time around is different. Nothing’s gonna get me down. Nothing’s going to own me and make me feel the way I hate to feel.” And I say that after every time I end up feeling the way I hate to feel. Torn between my untapped potential with access to the power of creation at my finger tips and the despair that conquers in the gaps between the ways I feel around her. It is so hard to love her, and it is even harder not to. Her smile melts everything. Her presence invigorates me and kills me. If I’m lucky enough that she looks at me, like, really looks into me, my insides ignite and sparks light me up. And I’m in stasis anxiously waiting for it every time. Paralyzed. Impotent and disoriented. After more than a decade, she still lights me up. With one look, she can wake the slumbering super hero in me, or rip me into a thousand tiny pieces. And yet, here I am swearing again that I’ll not get down like this. That I’ll not let her make me feel like this. As if I’m some how feeling empowered enough to expect a different orbit, to create a different orbit, or like now I deserve a different orbit. As if she even knows what she does to me.

Trying to find that line separating love, devotion and self-deprication from worship.

How do I break my own infinite loop? How do I shift from a love-sick, paralyzed robot short-circuiting in my own heart vomit hanging on her every motion hoping soon that I might catch a brush of her hand that I can pretend was intentional, to a man with a mission, with a rock-solid purpose and a shit load of righteous passion and the means to act on it? How do I transform into the man she wants and needs instead of this poor chunk of dead drift wood I feel like I am most of the time?

I caught a glimpse tonight up on the mountain. It’s a simple solution. Too simple. It’s so simple but it takes effort and thought and dedication and all things not automatic. At least not yet. You see, I have to look up — lift my gaze higher than the circumstance in which I’m trying to keep my balance. Scan the horizon and realize that where I am is precisely where you want me to be and there’s so much more to where I am than fixating on my own attempt at not crashing. I need to look up and see where I can go, see where you are pointing for me to go. I have to open my eyes wide enough to see that I’ve traded the truth of you for a lie: there’s more than her in my view. I need to let you lift my chin up to see that the light I’ve mistakenly called her is you because I’ve placed her in front of you, again. She can only reflect your light — anything else will burn her up and leave me frozen, lost in the deep of space.

I’m sorry.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

My daughter observed the other day how weeds can grow in a crack in the concrete on a bridge and she thought it was remarkable how something can grow like that. I told her weeds grow when no one does anything. It takes effort and energy to grow good things and keep the weeds out. But weeds, they thrive in the absence of care.

Can You Tell Me What Time It Is?

Such a funny thing, time. Apparently, there is a time for everything. And a season for every activity under heaven:

A right time for birth and another for death, a right time to plant and another to harvest, a right time to kill and another to heal, a right time to destroy and another to construct, a right time to cry and another to laugh, a right time to lament and another to cheer, a right time to make love and another to abstain, a right time to embrace and another to part, a right time to search and another to count your losses, a right time to hold on and another to let go, a right time to rip out and another to mend, a right time to shut up and another to speak up, a right time to love and another to hate, a right time to wage war and another to make peace.

That’s from the Bible, in Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, and I have no clue what time it is.

So flighty and persistent and irreverent, time is. Plowing through everyone and everything in its path; leaving in its wake a mess of poor, rusted souls drowning in the ebb and flow of their own disproportionate shadows, fruitlessly triangulating their own flickering lights, akin to sleepy, hollow jack-o-lanterns long after the candy-crazed hordes have gorged themselves to the cusp of sugar-induced comas.

When time dissolves away the facade of what has or has not been done, how could it ever be undone? How would a person ever recover from such a devastating blow as realizing they’ve wasted the gift of time that time gave them?

So now what? Am I left in that place between asleep and awake desperately trying to make sense out of all that I’ve done and not done; all that I’ve said and not said — as if my life or someone else’s hangs in the balance at each fork in my road? Am I abandoned in this place where fear is god, and god is the notion that I missed an appointment… that the right times to do the right things have vaporized while I sit frozen in an ice storm trying to determine precisely when is the right time to do or say what needs to be done or said?

Gridlock. How critical it is to have a dependable clock.

The Root of the Problem

Sitting here unready for the day and the weekend to end tormented by a notion. An idea. Something to feel passionate about. Something to awaken my slumbering amusement:

How dare Aspen condescend and request Willow’s eyes to lift up… to open its arms to the heavens.

One, born to reach; the other, to wear its own gravity. How cocky and self-righteous, Aspen, with all those brilliant colors and shimmering leaves. How fitting, the ashen bark and cozy cliques. “Have you, Aspen, ever stopped to ask Willow, ‘Why the weeping?'”

This weekend we watched Invictus, a story about Nelson Mandela and his insight into the hearts and minds of his nation. One phrase keeps going over and over in my mind, “You criticize without understanding.”

I didn’t realize until I actually wrote it out just how opposing those two statements are… Mandela’s astute observation and my judgment of Aspen. I wasn’t prepared for this. I just wanted to write out a succinct, powerful, emotional statement, a one-liner that held me captive today and be done with it. But as soon as I wrote it I recognized the seedling of fallacy. That statement, that ignorant, gross miscalculation was all I had in my head when I sat down to write, realizing now that my most conscious thoughts from today have culminated into an overly judgmental statement based only on my perceptions and blindness that typically adorns the notion that deep down underneath everything, life has to be fair–as if I deserve whatever it is that someone owes me. I was wholeheartedly ready to run to Willow’s defense from Aspen’s persecution. I had adequately projected my own frustrations onto Aspen, convincing myself that I have the right to defend Willow. And my defense was going to be awesome. Ready? Here it is:

How can one tell another what to do, or what the other should be doing when both are so different and the only thing they have in common is the dirt they grow in?

Yeah. I know. Awesome! Right? Not so much. I couldn’t leave it. I just couldn’t ignore the problem I just created. Trying to get to the root of this, and being curious, and with never enough time, I took to the internets* to see if my anger at Aspen was righteous or self-righteous. I read up a little on Willow and learned a few things. Things like how Willow has medicinal properties for relieving aches and fevers. Its bark contains a growth hormone, and its roots are remarkable for their toughness, size, and tenacity to life. Yeah… tenacity… Willow has this unwillingness to let go. A tirelessness. This only became fuel for my fire against Aspen. Charging Aspen with having no compassion. Then I started learning a little something about Aspen. Turns out Aspen knows about treating aches and pains too. And I learned that Aspen is much older that it looks. Buried under its glamor and shimmer–under its youthful fluttering and quaking–can be millenniums of down-to-earth wisdom and a similar sense of perseverance. On one hand, there’s Aspen, jubilant and carefree. Hope based on knowing, almost to the point of undermining the very essence of hope. And on the other hand: Willow, solemn and aware. Beyond empathy.

So… how dare Aspen not reach out for the hope of the heavens with all that it knows. And Willow… overly aware and burdened. You can’t stop weeping for those who’ve run out of tears. There’s nothing fair about this, but being fair is not what it’s about.

* tree information gleaned from Wikipedia here and here.

Amusement, Parked.

Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Life goes through cycles, just like the trip-hop I’m currently streaming. Repetitious. Revolutions with no sense of revolution. Loops and aural vertigo. And each new spin brings subtle changes which build upon the previous one or discontinue something else, fading it out. My current iteration brings something new for me. I think. It seems ghostly familiar, but it dissipates like a dream when I try to pin it down. Déjà vu. I feel like I’m stuck at a high RPM in a minimalist trance composition. A broken record. The droning, endless BPM is killing me from the inside out. Where is the piano kissing me with the words my soul longs to hear?

This all started a few weeks ago. Maybe it was a couple months ago. I don’t know. Maybe it was always there and I’ve just been in denial about it. Anyway, not too long ago, I casually asked a friend: Do you ever have days where you’re just not amused… by anything? “Hmph… yep, everyday.” she replied. Genuine. Smart Ass. Empathy laced with a twist of sarcasm, and a boat-load of cynicism. Somehow that seemingly insignificant question, an escaped convict of my mind now out running rampant through my soul, has not left me.

I cannot stop thinking about why my amusement is broken… I’ve no clear answers, only broad-strokes, superfluous themes and dusty stage props which, individually, don’t seem to matter; but added up they somehow account for this rift I’m falling into, or climbing out of.

I keep trying to either “fix”, or ignore this feeling. But it rapidly became the giant elephant in the middle of my room and I’m walking around pretending it’s not there while also being very well aware of its presence so as to be careful to not disturb it.

Sometimes to fix something, you have to rip it completely apart and rebuild it. I think this is one of those times. It’s messy and exhausting. I feel like I’m breaking and I need to get back to the opposite of breaking.

So for now, I’ll try leaving my amusement parked, over there, in that space on the side of this road while I step aside and try to catch my breath. A little time looking in from the outside might help. I hope so. Losing my amusement feels like burying hope under six feet of realism. Feels like dying… hmm… maybe that’s what seems familiar. Vague, I know. Melodramatic, yeah, I know.

An Atomic Mistake

My recollection is fuzzy. But I’ll do my best to fabricate the missing pieces such that detecting their absence would be improbable.

Fade through white.

We were working our way through the checkout line at the local * Megamart. A man was making his way upstream from the rest of us asking almost everyone something. Maybe he was asking everyone the same question, or maybe something specific to the askee. Regardless, he was getting the same answer, “No.” Some just shook their heads silently. Some answered with their faces, while others flat-out said it in an “Are you crazy?” sort of way.

It was our turn. Scruffy face. Long hair pulled back. Clothes that have seen better days. Hard to tell if he was pushing his thirties or pulling his twenties. Caucasian. Would have no trouble blending as a boardwalk regular down at Pacific Beach. Anxiously, “Do you have the device?”

The device… device? My brain tussled through all the possible things that could fit that description, trying desperately to understand what this very impatient man was talking about without risking my chance to give him an honest answer, or risking an undesired reaction for wasting his time. “Are you talking about this?” I reached into our shopping cart and pulled out a weighty silver canister (marked with various trefoil emblems) out from under some new clothes for the kids. Uranium? Plutonium? What the hell is this?!

“Yes! Yes. Shhhh…” Trying fruitlessly to contain his excitement, “How much do you want for it?”

“I don’t know. Maybe two or three hundred?” I was so perplexed about this situation. Why was this device in my cart? He gave me the cash — $300 — took the device and disappeared into the parking lot. We continued through the checkout and went back to our hotel room which, wouldn’t you guess, was also in * Megamart. The next 30 minutes or so went by as uninterestingly as possible. Then the room shook and the chaos started. All manor of city officials were suddenly everywhere, trying to get everyone out of the building, and out of the area. We packed up our things and realized our van was parked on the other side of the premises. “I’ll go get the van. Keep the kids with you. I’ll be right back.” I kissed Jen and headed out.

Half way to our van. I was stopped by some lady in a fallout suit directing me to turn around and get out of there. She held up a card with four stripes or sections on it with a stepped progression of magenta towards white. “See this? When this part turns white like this, it means the radioactivity is far beyond the tolerable level. You need to evacuate. Now.”

“Can I have one of those cards?” I asked her. She handed me one and reiterated that I need to be turning around and then her attention diverted to some other people who were also heading this way. I kept going past her, looking for our van. The air was thick and dusty… no, more like foggy. White-ish. The bottom stripe on my card was turning from deep magenta to a washed out tint and the words “Warning, radioactivity detected, level 1” appeared in that stripe. I kept going, covering my mouth with my shirt as if the fallout coated everything with the fine drywall dust from a construction site.

I found our van. I had trekked past it and had to double-back a bit. By now the top stripe had been activated and read, “Intolerable radioactive levels detected. Life unsustainable.” It seemed difficult to breathe. There was movement near the van. It was my son just wandering about, playing with some toy waiting for me to open the van so he could climb in. “What are you doing out here? Where’s mommy? Why are you not with her?” The questions rattled out effortlessly. He just looked at me and non-chalantly replied with a non-answer. “We have to get out of here! The air is poisonous!” I barked.

A television in the window behind me was tuned to the news with aerial shots of the area and all you could see was a white cloud and some outlines of buildings. Then they cut to security camera footage of the impatient man yelling at the entrance to * Megamart saying something about things “now being fair” and “that’s what you get for…[unintelligible sounds].” He was arrested. I think I passed out.

I woke up to a doctor pointing to an area of my chest on a sheet of film baffled that my cancer disappeared.

Logic And Style Sit’n In A Tree, K-i-s-s-i-n-g

This is nothing new… the concept and methods of using PHP inside of CSS has been gratuitously documented on the internets. So why am I posting this? Because.

At work, we use highly structured and dynamic CSS files which contain plops (yes, plops) of PHP to do things like automatically write the absurd cross-browser rules for rounded corners by only typing out <?php echo CSSFunctions::border_radius(6); ?> …among other things like reusable color variables and color blenders. CSS is powerful as it is. But without an inherent logic framework, hooking up with PHP makes CSS super. Side note: you can do browser detection with PHP and write functions that return the appropriate CSS rules for the beloved various browsers.

Okay, with that intro out of the way, onto my point: My current personal project — that I’ve been working on, on-and-off, for the last gazillion years — was using stock CSS files and I wanted to convert them to use these sup’d up CSS+PHP files (since I’m all into super CSS files now from work) but I could not get them to work!

Clarification: I could not get them to work the way I wanted them to work…

The cheap way to do it is to use an actual PHP file like this: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="styles.php" media="screen" />

And then you give that php file a header directive that tricks the internet machines into thinking that the linked file is oh, just your average run-of-the-mill CSS file: <?php header("Content-type: text/css"); ?> But, any self-respecting coder knows (perhaps at a paranoid level) that someone will look at their code and not be fooled as easily as the machines.

So an alternative method involves some web-server finagling via a little black magic and one o’ them there .htaccess files with some rules that look like:AddType application/x-httpd-php .css This tells the web server to not send the CSS files directly to your web browser but to route them through the PHP bucket first.

But this was not working for me! So after another round of searching for some kind of a solution, and for all you inter-web architects out there, I found this: AddHandler php-cgi .css Notice the “php-cgi” bit… not all web servers are set up equally. Oh, and I also learned that the difference between the “AddType” vs. “AddHandler” directive is like the difference between “Country Crock” and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” whatever that means. So this made it work.

Clarification: this made it work, but still not how I wanted it to work…

I didn’t want to force all my .css files to get PHP’d on. So I plugged in ‘.cssp’ into that special AddHandler line and then… cue drum roll… it didn’t work. But then…! I remembered to change the name of my CSS file to be ‘style.cssp‘ and everything was golden. :)

Clarification: It was more like silver. This is what made it golden:
<FilesMatch "\.(cssp|style)$">
SetHandler php-cgi
Now I can add any number of file extensions that I want PHP’d to the match array without bloating my .htaccess file!

The End.

With You

One day, about a thousand years ago, this song found me… dying, drifting away from my own life, family, love, passions and feelings one line of code at a time for way too much time floating like a ghost between work and home and back again. There’s so much in these lyrics for me about God and myself and Jen that sometimes I can’t decipher which part applies to who. Today is one of those times.

Somewhere, somehow, sometime ago
Back when the field was filled with snow
I hardly knew what I had to say
I hardly knew what I had…

I was with you when you were down, down, down… see you again
I was there, I heard you say, “Hey, hey, hey… Wish you were here.”

Sleep in, sleep well, sleep best alone
Don’t cry your eyes are made of stone
I hardly cared when you left me there
I almost left…

Deep down, wish you were here.

Listen to this song…

Words and music by: The Stars of Track and Field