Good News

In the Wall Street Journal Front Page

Domestic violence rate fell 50%
from 1993 to 2004, the Justice Depart-
ment said, citing no single cause. Na-
tive-American women suffer the most.

Too bad for the native american women, but YAY! for domestic violence being so incredibly way down.

YAY and YAY! that’s amazing news.

The new year is coming- oh my!

Boy oh Boy, is next year going to be busy.

I am in the lull week right now. This is the week when nothing much happens. We are basking in the afterglow of the Christmas lights we can’t bear to take down yet, and catching up on the sleep we know we won’t get on New Year’s Eve.

My job as video conferencing engineer is always light this week. Who wants to have meetings this week? Only crazy people, and they are apt to cancel.

I rushed in this morning (alone, since all the others are sleeping in) to be here for the only conference happening in the morning. It was scheduled for eight.

But it didn’t happen. It was cancelled late yesterday (after I left, which was admittedly early).

So, I have nothing until 10.

I am using the time to gather myself together in a tight web of organization. I am re-reading David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. I had been trying to use his system when I started this job a year and a half ago. But as it happens, trying to get organized when you have no clue about what you are supposed to be doing is harder than just trying to get organized.

Now, I think I know a little more about what I am supposed to be doing in this place. So, this will make it easier to do the things I’m supposed to get done.


I think my problem is that I have trouble determining which are the Someday/Maybe things and which are the Must things.

Allen says you should track the things that must get done at certain times and use his system to remind yourself appropriately instead of running around thinking of all the things you need to do that you can’t do right then. Like, reminding yourself to buy toilet paper when you are trying to fall asleep. Not a useful way to use your brain.

Anyway, I’ve always had a habit of working hard on things others might think of as impossible or too dreamy. I think it’s served me well in the long run, because I’ve managed to do a lot of impossible stuff.

Writing a book, for example. And nearly equally impossible, becoming a video conferencing engineer.

I completed a lot of stuff this year at work. Some stuff the boss didn’t think would ever happen. Some stuff the boss thinks is kinda a waste of time, but I know is gonna really come in handy.

Since I’ve finished a huge amount of project this last year for work, I will have to come up with some new ones for 2007. I think I’ll take it a little easier this year. Last year really kicked me in the kidneys.

But that’s just work. I’ve got a heck of a lot to do this next year that has nothing to do with work.

For starters, I am getting a new puppy in about 3 weeks. And Chris has been going on and on about how I will have to learn not to leave my shoes out. It hit me that I am going to have to have a new lifestyle that leaves nothing on the floor. That won’t be easy.

Then, there is the wedding to plan. Oh yeah, Did I tell you that Chris and I are getting married? This will be quite a time consumer. But I’m happy about it.

Then there are all the other things. I will be taking a spanish class. We will be doing some ship things. And there is the trip to Finland. Wow!

I am still anxious to make some progress on my current book project. I have lost some traction and I think I’m starting to gain it back, but the time thing.

I guess I better get organized fast.

Merry Christmas (in which I badly quote the Bible, South Park and John Lennon)

In the days of Caesar Augustus came the decree, that all the world should be taxed….

I’m quoting that from memory, but it strikes me that is a rather mundane and inauspicious way for the saviour to be born.

All the world should be taxed. And in order to keep things beauracratically in order, everyone had to go back to the town of their birth.

What a mess! There was not enough supplies or facilities for this to work out. A perfectly nice pregnant lady had to give birth in a stable.

Shamefull. Who’s in charge here?

Well, yeah. Unfortunately…Fortunately?–Jesus didn’t come to make the world run more efficiently. Maybe German or a Swede (the home of Ikea!) would have taken that on.

No, restoring love and mercy with supremem generosity was his job.

Oh yeah. Love and Generosity. Which means that the South Park kids were right.

Christmas is all about presents.

There are only three of us here in the house. Me, Chris and the cat. And I gotta say, Skellig doesn’t get that into christmas. Apart from trying to lay on top of the presents, he is not too interested in them. He is a cat of gratitude for small things.

A bowl of cat food, a clean box, and the toilet lid left up. Add a few scratches behind the ears, and he’s good.

So the presents that are piled high under the tree are really a testament to our generosity and relative affluence. Yay for blessings!

But, a not-blessing…Chris is sick. He has a cold and is sleeping.

We went out to lunch with Grandma and Judy (aka Mother) and Bryan. Chris couldn’t do much but prop himself up in the Marie Callendar booth.

Judy said, “Too bad you are sick. You are the one who loves Christmas so much.”

He does. He is an exceptionally loving and thoughtful gift-giver. He plots early and long to give unexpected but perfect gifts that people will enjoy.

His family is a good challenge to him. “Good” because they are impossible to buy for. HIs Grandmother will return nearly ANYTHING.

But even so, he has found good things for her.

But this long rambling Christmas post is mostly to say, Christmas is about loving generosity.

Generosity does not have to be with material things. Can we have loving generosity towards each other’s faults? Why not? Let’s get over the crabby-I-Haven’t-had-my-cup-of-coffee-yet attitudes of our co-workers.

Or even when we must confront people for inappropriate behaviour, let us find a generous way to do so.

Imagine. It’s easy if you try.

5 things people might not know about me

I got tagged with a meme. Kemal challenged me to share 5 things that people might not know about me.

But aren’t I an open book by now? I’ve been writing this blog for nearly 5 years. What could I possibly have to say that people don’t know about me?

Let me think…

1. I drive a stick-shift car.

2. I wired my first walkman to a set of speakers because I couldn’t afford a stereo

3. I can ice skate backwards better than I can forwards.

4. My brother was born on the same day as me, but 2 years earlier.

5. I dance like a maniac

Long stories

In the Eastern Sierras is a very salty lake–Mono lake. It is saltier than it used to be. It’s smaller than it used to be.

That’s because Los Angeles, quite some time ago, began sucking away the fresh water that used to flow into Mono. Los Angeles was thirsty, and also needed the water to grow cows and oranges.

Because Mono lake wasn’t getting water to refill itself, the waer level went down. And something incredibly beautiful showed up.


The waters that flow into Mono lake mingle and react in such a way that makes a sort of mineral snowflake. Those mineral snowflakes flow around in the water, and eventually settle or attach themselves to stuff in the lake.

And tufas grow up like ghostly monuments.

This is my metaphor for my thoughts. Some of my thoughts float around in my consciousness, being of some kind of substance that doesn’t fade away. The ideas and insights, or questions, float around looking for a place where they fit. And eventually, they end up making their own place to fit. A place–a tufa–that doesn’t really fit anywhere, but is still a kind of cool something.

I read once something that may not be true. I can’t’ confirm it on a quick perusal of the internet, but I like the story, so I’m going to tell it. Take it for what it’s worth.

Egyptian cotton was pretty much the best cotton around for a super long time. Maybe as long as it took to find america and fill it with cotton plantations.

It was the best because it had the longest fiber. Cotton is useful for being made into thread, and the thread into fabric. But to make the thread, you have to spin the fibers together.

As I was told, the Egyptian cotton was the best because their cotton had the longest fiber. When the fiber was short, the thread would be all fuzzy and thick. But when the fiber was long, it spun all tightly and smooth. You could have super-fine, satiny almost, cotton fabric.

And people didn’t even want to mess with cotton if it wasn’t long fibered. That is, until a particular cotton spinning machine was invented to do the work mechanically. THEN the thread could be twisted tight enough, even when the fibers were stubby.

I’ve been thinking about my stories, and my thoughts. I have a lot of thoughts and stories. YET, I am not posting about them on my blog, or telling other people about them.

Why not?

Like the tufas, I am not sure how to explain what I’m thinking about. I’ve been thinking about certain stuff for a long time. And I’ve arrived at some structured ideas and concepts with all those thoughts.

But to explain them, and to share my mental tufas…well…It’s not that I wouldn’t love to do so…but…that brings me back to the cotton.

But to explain the cotton, let me tell you another story.

When I started at my current job, I realized almost immediately that I was joining a group that talked about themselves a lot. More than any other job I had ever been at.

These people talked a lot about stuff that was not work.

And I couldn’t quite deal with that. “Small Talk” was what I thought. I just can’t quite do that. I rummaged deep into the topics that are appropriate. Sports? the Weather? The news is dangerous, because that delves into politics and that could get too deep really fast.

So basically, I didn’t talk very much. I pretty much avoided my co-workers, because this sort of conversation was too much for me.

But I didn’t quit. And eventually I got sick of trying to keep to a line of “Appropriate.” I wanted to talk about whatever was on my mind. And if they found me weird, so be it.

So, I decided to start telling a story. I got a little way in, and the phone rang. So of course I dropped it.

But after the call was finished, the guys said, “Keep going.”

I started up again where I had left off, and kept on with my story.

The phone rang again.

And they finished and said again, “keep going.”


I realized that most of my life, I had had this experience. I would begin to tell stories and get interrupted before I could finish.

There were only a very few people who could sustain interest through my long trains of thought.

Those are my dear dear friend. You know who you are. I will love and cherish you forever.

But for those who didn’t hear the ends of my story…Maybe it’s because I abandoned my attempts. I maybe have given up telling it too soon.

Remember the cotton? Maybe my threads are long. Maybe my threads are fine and marvelous and desirable, a part of a superior experience.

For sure sure sure my stories and thought-trains are long.

And like the tufas, they are often curiously formed.

For example, this very blog entry is long and curiously formed. But this is the way it came to me, and I am choosing now to share it with you all.

It’s Chrismas…The goose is getting fat

It is getting to be christmas time.

My house is in desperate need of cleaning.

I hesitate to go get the tree, because the time could be used to clean up the wreck my house has become.

if I go get the tree, it will take time. I will be exhauseted by the time it’s done, and the house will still be a wreck. In addition to the drifts of cat hair all over the floor, there will be a new sprinkling of needles.

It makes me tired.


let’s move into a hotel until christmas.

In addition to this, i feel guilty. I have no right whatsoever to complain. I had monday off. I could have used the time to clean. I don’t have children, which means that the mess I have is all my very own.

I would be upset with Chris for not helping more with the fetid pile my house has become, but he is suffering from success with his little ships. Lots of orders! yay! He barely has time to be civil to me.

In fact, civility has been at a low.

I feel stressed and guilty for it.

Chris wants to get the tree tonight.

All assignments must be turned in by the due date to recieve credit

It’s coming to an end, this year.

Time for me has been flipping like pages in an animation book. FRRRRR! watch the little mouse move.

These are days, which I am supposed to be seizing, are maybe slipperier.

But I have accomplished some things this year. I guess…What I am remembering are the things I have not accomplished. That credenz needs finishing.

And when exactly am I going to finish the herb garden?

I have always beenn somebody who turns in assignments early.

I better hurry up, because the deadline is looming.

modern monument


Originally uploaded by murphy_h2001.

Before Chris and I moved into this house, I lived in a condo. It was a 4 story building, and I lived on the second floor.

The first floor was actually the basement, and that is where we parked our cars. It was also where we had a storage space. We kept a lot of stuff in the storage space.

I remember when Chris moved in, and I had to make room in the closet for not only him, but also all his business inventory. We discussed what could reasonably be put in the storage space, which was admittedly huge.

“Why don’t we put all our luggage in the storage space?” he said. “We don’t use it all the time, and when we need it, we can go down and get it.”

We put my luggage in the storage space. And then I always used his rolly bag when I had to go on a trip.

The thing was, the storage space just seemed outside of our path.

This is how I began to understand about human territories. Just like creatures in the woods, we have our trails we follow. And even if a certain thing is not far at all from our territory, we may still never go to see that thing. Because it’s ‘out of the way’.

And the storage space was out of the way. It just was.

This range of territory can be especially true in Los Angeles. This huge sprawling populated area is close to everything and far away from everything. When I lived in Los Feliz, Pasadena seemed very far away. It was not actually far away, but it seemed easier to get to Canter’s Deli than Vroman’s bookstore.

Los Feliz was more or less in the middle of things. But I do not live in the middle of L.A. anymore.

I live in Claremont. That’s definitely not the midle of Los Angeles. But it’s kind of in the middle of the populated area of Southern California.

Kind of.

But my new hometown, in combination with my new job, has widened my territory. I have to go to a lot of places not. There are a lot of places that are no longer out of the way.

I spend a lot of time on freeways.

Which brings me to my point:
Freeway are beautiful.

I mean really, These are amazing works of architecture. They soar, and often have 5 different levels of street. Each one has it’s own particularities.

It makes me think.

Remember the part in the Lord of the Rngs movie, where Aragorn and the fellowship of the ring are passing through the Valley of the Kings? These enormous statues of kings, carved out of the sides of mountain, loom over the group as they float on the river?

I feel similarly about these freeway overpasses. They are majestic.

And that leads me to think. How much money are we spending on these things? They are not cheap. And if we are already spending money on these extremely useful stuctures, why can’t we make them a little more beautiful?

Look at the photo I have included. It’s on highway 15, between L.A./Orange County and San Diego. I love that bridge. It’s gorgeous.

Why not do more of that?