Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dreaming, I was only Dreaming, Of Another Place and Time, Where My Family's From

It's hard to find good tunes like Before the Lobotomy anymore, but every now and then words and music line up and you get a 5-10 minute episode of bliss --

Buddies of mine have asked me to catalogue a 'lessons learned' or better phrased 'thoughts thought' from my first stint out in the desert, I plan to create an abstract version of the push / pull tug-o-war that often keeps me awake on sentiments here after a few good nights sleep.  One day I might even try to write a book about it that no one will read.  I can't wait to catalogue this stuff.

Speaking of books, the book I'm reading now asks 4 key questions

1 - Can we identify the problem
2 - do we know our internal capability
3 - does anyone do this well internally
4 - if someone does it well, can they help --

the precursors added --

0 - do we even need to work on this --

or if you want to get philosophical

-1 - what are we doing here?

These questions nor the geopolical challanges that now occupy the flat world won't be figured out today, not even with all the red eye you can drink.

----

Instead, the focus is on returning home, getting super excited to see family and friends. 

Monday, December 07, 2009

Now when the roses bloom this year and our soul's up in our ears with some newer music sung in a strange place

It's that time of year for the top 10 albums of the year.  It's been a special year, music has been a best friend, the heart and mind open, the tunes plentiful.  A special nod goes out the to the gal from Colorado who's been my first and foremost filter for new music.  Below, a biased look of new music, old but new to me, and of course people that automatically make the list based on preconceived notion.

10 -- Green Day -- 21st Century Breakdown
 
Rockin' since 1987, the Green Day purists say the band has 'sold out' since its punk days, I say they've grown older with dignity.  It's all relative, Metallica gets hair cuts and still produce things like 'St Anger' and the world throws stones at them, Bon Jovi gets haircuts and sings 'It's My Life' and wins Grammies.  21 Guns, a mall punk'esque ballad is my favorite on the album, a double play on a couple and their relationship issues, and 21 gun salutes for lost lives.  Viva La Gloria is a tune that continues in proper fashion Green Day, lots of mood and tempo changes, pioneers in this 'Green Day' sound, many have tried, but it's not been duplicated. Did I say Green Day enough?  Lyrics span working class heros and the last of American girls, all baked into to the album to near perfection.

9 -- Fanfarlo -- Reservoir

For many weeks, my walk to work and walk home music, looking up at a bright desert sky, thinking MAN, everything is wonderful.  Comets tops the list of my favorite songs on the album, 'Cry Murder, cry what you like, Just let the comets be your guide,' and 'If you look at the horizon there is always something ducking out of sight,' two lyrics that catch me.  The album contains inspiring themes of hope, desire, and ambition.  Harold T. Wilkins's captures the spirit of movin' on with new adventures even when you think you're not ready (In a hot air baloon with a rusty nail, looking over your shoulder setting sail).  There's something omnipresent in a few of the tunes, something that captures the human spirit perfectly.  The back half of the album is solid, they're also approachable.

8 -- Sondre Lerche -- Heartbeat Radio

He's the simple truth, that's why it's hard to understand.  I've seen articles that try to pin a labels on him and his 'fancy chords.'  He is one of the absolute best in the business in a singer / songwriter context.  By means of listening to the words, you get a sense that this guy really gets it, the texture just works as always, a world class band supports him.  Sondre, the radio's perfect pitch makes me nauseous too, we know they'd vote you off American Idol or anything else like that in the prelims, and people would perhaps laugh, but that's OK, that's validation.  You've to this day made enough music to make me happy a lifetime, and I'm forever in debt for the continuing perspective you give me on life.  Like Lazenby has to be my favorite tune on the album, "Like a fairytale, with blood on every page my failures brought about some blessings someone must be watching out for me."

7 -- Roy Orbison -- Black and White Years

Think of it as the most exclusive cocktail party you could ever be invited to in your life.  If I were James Bond, I would have skipped a mission to attend this.  From the starting gate, Roy's perfect pitch belts out Only the Lonely, hence, instant bliss.  You know you're swinging a pair when Bruce Springsteen is your backup singer, and the back row of your entourage consists of people like Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt.  The DVD is pure magic.

6 -- Leonard Cohen -- Live in London

75 years old, still a kid with crazy dream...A man who has studied the philosophies and religions until cheerfulness creeps in.  A man who covers all the hard bases and uncovers every stone, understands the Freudian nature of $ex and violence, yet reasserts love being the ultimate disease and cure.  Seeing the man live this year was magical and enlightening.

5 -- Crooked Fingers -- Dignity and Shame

Sleep all summer, such a warm tune, the imagery that comes to mind is one of man and woman singing to each other, gazing into each other's souls, and constantly coming back for more as the proverb suggests, starting out with a fire and commencing to a slow burn.  Twilight creeps...I'd say it's a good way to represent typical night life from the lens of a 30 something, further affirming that I don't want to be that 'old dude' in the clubbing / dating scene.  Something about them reminds me of Roxette, and for me, that's golden.

4 -- Luna -- Luna's Greatest Hits

Guitar Harmonies are the gist of this band, I can't believe how tight and phenomenal they sound.  It's the party buzz sound, the sound that is echoing in your head at the party when you're having a good time and don't even know it.  Pop it in, listen, and every now and then you'll catch yourself going, damn, that's slick.  The instruments and illusion are what carried this band.

3 -- Blind Pilot -- 3 Rounds and a Sound

While working in an old busted up dictators palace, I'd have this on while troubleshooting various things broken.  Throw a capo on 5 and play derivatives of F and that's what I call the palace at night sound.  I haven't heard a finely produced album like this since Travis' The Man Who -- Blind Pilot's instrumental reverb coupled with crystal clear voice add nuance to the ever evolving trickery in making things sound good. Oviedo, Paint or Pollen, Two Towns from Me, and 3 Rounds and a Sound are the standouts.  Two Towns from Me echoes the sentiment of people in love, who would do anything for each other, even spend the night running two towns over for a visit.  Put in on repeat for months, you won't be disappointed.

2 -- Mason Jennings -- Blood of Man

The Field, Tourist, Sunlight and Blood of Man are what catapult this surprising very dark themed album to the top of the field.  At first glance Mason Jennings appears to be a 'NWB' Naive White Boy.  Once you get under the hood you have the most soulful balanced artist in the game.  Hands down 'The Field' is the best war song I've heard.  It's not political or ideological or abstract for that matter, it's purely emotional, raw, and hits the bottom line.  People die in war that other people care about, this song is an articulation of this -- Bob Dylan / Neil Young, and you have officially been 'one upped.' Although Mason brings out the electric guitar for the majority of the album, he's also true to his roots and songs of love.  The album very much reflects the true opposites of the unadulterated world, hope and despair.  Tell me where's your heart, now that it's stopped beating...it's right here, right here, right here....

1 -- (And by Blowout) -- Roman Candle -- O Tall Tree in Ear

Skip along with his wife and bro bring a sincerity, purity, simplicity and understanding to life seldom seen, but it is there in common voice if you care to listen.  At least every other line is metaphorical, and as it should be, he is a solitary man with his pride.  From the opener Eden Was a Garden to Early Aubade, the album has a flow, contemplative, curious and whimsical.  I could write a dissertation on what this gang from Chapel Hill does for me, but mentioning captain wafers and lipton tea in song takes the cake!

I leave 60% of my Iraq time behind with a shrug of the shoulders, these guys help me put ANYTHING and EVERYTHING into perspective, even this.

"And the last thing we'll leave is a love song for this vacant room sunk in the walls, and trapped like the ocean enshelled - with everything else we ever exhaled..."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Tell me what you think about this song --

Lots of abstract ideas floating around today -- Interesting what the mind thinks when there is no expectation from anyone, anytime, anywhere. -- I've always perceived speaking in absolutes was bad, but on the contrary, I find it easier to determine what's important with no expectation, -- rather acceptance. --

What about restaurants?  Ever think about, say, if the seating area is 500 square feet, how big does the kitchen has to be to accommodate a couple hundred people, etc - What's behind the curtain?

Trade Journals -- I recall a scene in The Aviator where Leonardo is playing the role of Howard Hughes, who is attending a holiday at girlfriend Katharine Hepburn's house.  The aristocratic  family asks Howard if he reads Vanity Fair, his rebuttal, no, I read trade journals.  He begins to talk about the bleeding edge state of the art engine in the new airplanes only to be ignored.

Game theory and candlesticks are something we bump up against every now and glaze over -- the more time you devote I'm assuming things like this get easier to understand.

Lots of meaning and lots of different subjects can be attained by the study of support and resistance.

The transient nature of life can often be maddening, people come and go, old friends new friends, motion without movement, thought leading to emotion and vice versa.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blinded by lovedust What did I see? A million, a billion, a trillion stars

Life is good, life is long -- desperately waiting for stimuli.  Chalk this year up as a time of learning tactical patience.  Robert life button pause, everything else on play.

Fast forward, I can't wait to be working IT generalist crap in Stuttgart while learning about the world, emerging nations, and all kinds of formulas and theories regarding free market capitalism vs. state sponsored capitalism in Prague. --

I look forward to sitting with a net book at a cafe in Stuttgart, I look forward to joining my 'classmates' on pub crawls and things like this in Prague.

Above all, I'm looking for a nice permanent address, at least for a year or so, something with indoor plumbing -- no guns, ammo, grenades, rockets, mortars.

Monday, November 23, 2009

happiness waits outside the gates, watching each thing we do

-- i really am happy here, sometimes it sucks though --
 
-- ate at an iraqi generals house last night, it was the first time i felt free in 197 days, i had a glass of hot tea, and some food with touch --
 
-- 3 weeks to the day i begin the trek back to civilization, for a while --
 
-- looking forward to seeing the family, catching up with friends --
 
-- looking forward to christmas eve rituals --
 
-- looking for cool things to do new years eve --
 
-- wanting to catch some gigs --
 
-- looking forward to doing a lot of listening --
 
-- exciting about sitting on a clean wood floor --
 
-- broadband!
 
-- walking around shiner and seeing what's changed --
 
-- a clamour about perhaps hitting up new orleans --
 
-- san antonio perspective
 
-- austin perspective
 
-- watching some live concerts on a bigger tv screen and laying on the couch --
 
-- watching my 5 dvd series on doing business in china
 
-- sitting on the front porch playing josh ritter and roman candle tunes
 
-- kicking around the soccer ball with friends and family
 
-- a good beer buzz early in the morning like cheryl crow --
 
-- schoolin' some folks at pool
 
-- hanging out talking with the family about nothing and everything
 
-- taking the family to mr taco, guadalahara (sp?), jaliscos, and other places to eat
 
-- buying pants and shirts that fit
 
-- having a night out with the bro in law and defining our typical 3 goals for the evening
 
-- seeing how the nieces and nephews have grown, changed, see the additions to their vocabulary, etc
 
-- catching up with the music collection
 
-- getting my shoes shined in frankfurt
 
-- drinking a das boot with the scooter store peeps
 
-- 1000 other things, the little details --
 
 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Like a wizard the sea, casts a spell of salty dreams on me, No more will I float - now I view my fate through a periscope

A contrary observation and stance gets you far in life.  What's on my mind?, The Kite Flying Society, T&A, and shorting gold --

Stance 1 -- The Kite flying Society's 'Where is the Glow' is an example of one of these stances.  Convention throws them aside, they have NO reviews on Amazon for an album that's been out almost FIVE years, they're not new, not only do they not make MTV or VH1, they don't even make the Indie rock magazine of choice, and they're not playing your favorite bar or festival.  The path of a deviant is lonely, there's nothing to argue about, b/c society at large forgets the relevance in objects, hence deeming them as not important to critique.  I compare this to a stock I sat on all summer, looking at the numbers (as I do lyrics of songs) and going, damn, this is perfect.  Sure enough, all of a sudden I'm up big.  I'm not going to win, or even partake in for that matter in most conversations that toil over weather something is hardcore or ironic enough, nor right or wrong.  Societies association of the object doesn't speak to me, the object has a conversation with my soul, and the brain follows.

Stance 2 -- NOT talking about T&A and high fiving with the gang is unique out here.  You always have to tolerate meat heads in the world, you just hope few and far between.  Yea she's hot, yea, blah blah blah, look how awesome I am talking about girls like this, I'm just IT!  The respect of women brings you closer to them, I would say that's a contrary view, especially out here in this cage.

Stance 3 -- Shorting gold is a play I'm looking at in the markets.  We always hear contrary rumors, one says India traded tbills for gold, others say Germany sold gold to pay down their national debt, who really knows.  I do know there's never a shortage of 'the sky is falling' people with 'sky is falling ideas', that suggest 'this time its different', that say, 'o trust me' that go 'my daddy is a banker, and he knows', etc, etc.  While these folks are watching infomercials on Superbowl advertisements that say to melt down your gold chains, we'll do it for 99 bucks and ounce, or buy the gold plate, b/c the GOLD plate has GOLD in it, it keeps its VAULE, GOLD GOLD GOLD.  The idea of owning gold is gilded, the shorties will pound it down, guess you could call it a 'beauty' of market forces.

The world decided to play the fiat money game sometime in the 70's, which has worked well, but every time there's a slight hiccup in the system, or their politician doesn't get elected, or whatever, the whole world comes crashing down.

The fiat game will come back to order, and the massive imbalance b/w gold and silver, and gold and energy, etc will all come back.  This assumes the balancing effect is just more than the USD.  The world as a whole is coming out of a growth slump and will return, decreasing the price of gold, and innovation and energy then again become center stage.  Short gold, long on energy and innovation, I'd say that's the contrary viewpoint.  THIS is the inverse of THIS, I'm going with the latter for 2010.

---------------------------
Random Rant on the Markets
---------------------------

Time dictates the patterns of the market, and not really anything else.  It's not about new product lines, or sales, or price earnings ratios, and all this technical stuff, however, the art and science behind these patterns seem predictable (support and resistance levels), I have some more time to perfect and automate these to the point where hopefully one day I'm sitting on the beach in Acapulco sipping a Rita making the rent.

It's been about a year since my brother in law and I had a contest on howthemarketworks.com.  My END OF US DOMINANCE portfolio = UP 92%, his US WILL RECOVER portfolio = UP 28%, US BLUECHIPS = UP 41%. That was then, the END OF US DOMINANCE portfolio train has left the station.  My thoughts for 2010, WORLD RECOVERS, and the burden will never be put on the US consumer again, which is a good thing.

My practical stance moving forward, half goes to the plan below, half goes to violently risky (but well thought out) bets on RED (China that is) --

-------------
Core Segment (25% Total)
-------------

Cash = 5% (Money Market)
Total Bond = 15% (US T-Bills)
Total US Stock = 20% (Spider)
Total Intl Stock = 60% (Spider)

----------------------
Target Market Segment (25% Total)
----------------------

20% - Gold - DZZ
30% - Energy - IYE
10% - Agricultural Commodities - DBC
10% - Real Estate - ICF
30% - Emerging Markets - EEM

Monday, November 16, 2009

When I was young my mama sat me down and told me how it goes, You'll walk the world but most of what you're looking for is under your nose

Today the term Celestial Bureaucrats caught my ear, made me laugh tremendously, so much so that I went out registered the domain name -- Interesting concept when taken into account what they actually are, perhaps after watching my 5 DVD set of doing business in China, I'll have a plan...if only i knew Mandarin.
 
In the course of my morning, another funny, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which brings new meaning to 'milf.'  These dudes are the reason I'm cutting the Southern Philippines out of a world tour.
 
Also thought about growing up and what it means, post pending -- In the meantime, I'm going to go enjoy some of this Baghdad rain Andy Dufrain style --

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spend my natural prime, thinking money and time, wondering where they go, and they go

YET ANOTHER pitch for Roman Candle, who's album has SKYROCKETED to perhaps my top 5 of all time.  They're talkin' to me, I'm listening intently and reading what they have to say, just so much to skim off the top.  It's truly like having a conversation with a best friend I haven't seen in a while, as if they went on a trip and came back and shared all kinds of perspective with you, minus the ego, glitz and glamour.
 
In the matrix of time, circumstance makes me think about folks who are fixated on money, contrary to popular belief, it really isn't myself.  A story that makes me cringe when I think about it -- I know a man from rural Shiner who amassed 77,000USD in his lifetime, only to die with it, all the while the family lives in near poverty conditions.  While it's a conscious choice to devote too many eggs to one basket, its beneficial to see those who are standing on one leg.
 
The Renaissance approach is a pursuit of balance.  From this standpoint it makes sense to 'quit while you're ahead', so to speak.  I recall leaving Austin Texas one blistering hot summer afternoon, a change of destiny, lots of cultural experience in tow and a wallet that was flat broke and busted.  I recall the anxiety of living with that imbalance.
 
These days, I don't look a gift horse in the mouth, and the tides have switched, now what I lack in culture and aesthetic is made up monetarily.  I've seen exploitation at it's finest, and it renders VERY unfavorable results on friends, family, egos and souls.
 
The imbalance either way sucks, and I'm happy to have been beached on two shores on the path of self discovery thus far.  I've learned many lessons on the path.
 
Next things to bake in are spirituality, This pursuit will take 20 years to a lifetime, and excited to continue the journey, the soundbyte that makes sense to me the most thus far, there is a god, you are not him.
 
Having a family of one's own is the perplexing wonder of cloud computing to me.  It's inevitable, progress, great perspective, etc. -- It's very scary to me having to be responsible for someone else, but for those of you who are, again, I tip my hat, y'all are awesome.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

round the world round the world is a tangled up necklace of pearls

The Woodface album was on rotation during my inclined run at the gym.  It's amazing the texture of a good love song, Neil Finn has it down better than most.  It's even got some pesky digs at us AmericansTime on Earth proves to occupy the same themes, with a wonderful baby grand telling half the story.
 
Mark Twain (who's now haunting the Mighty Mississippi with Jeff Buckley) once said that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
 
I've been doin' this bloggin thing pretty heavy for years now which has included a mish mosh of thinly disguised idealistic and egotistical blather.  I've always explore concepts of love to the same end, going off in some complicated metaphor of self knowing and knowing what I want with an underlying tone and action of self sabotage.  It's perspiration, that's for sure, and I definitely and defiantly back myself in a corner with idealism, and I probably alienate those who care about me the most -- *thinking about my sisters here* -- They probably read some of this stuff and go, yea, don't know what to tell ya.
 
I've spent my entire professional life aggressively pursuing a desired end state, an end state in which the journey was never the end destination.  Today it occurs to me I've never really put myself in a position to succeed at intimacy.  I used to think before you loved anyone else you had to love yourself; this has been proven a fallacy due to the loving yourself has a selfish connotation, the kind that doesn't promote a unity of sorts.  The new thought, you never know love till you surrender to it, I know in the future that that check box needs to be checked before hitting purchase, no exceptions, little looking back.
 
End state in intimacy allows personal battles to be fought where they need to be fought.
 
Bar hopping and fraternizing seems to be the same as channel surfing with 57 channels and nothing on, so the cliche goes, it'll come when you least expect it, etc, etc, etc -- Something I've found to be a fallacy, if you want it, you have to pursue it, aggressively if need be, throw out the skip in the record, throw out the victim, throw out preconceived notions, and most of all throw out all excuses and execute.
 
Looking at my friends and family, great people who got it down, I always use y'all as an example, you have taken the fight to other areas in life, living and loving it in tandem.  To those of you who are there, I salute you, its a long hard road, but fulfilling and new, providing that foundation to build empire (if you so choose to).
 
Things will change when I'm back in the free world, I figure this out as I go, I like John and Paul's rhyme and I like their history, and I want my history to repeat itself.  I'm a sentimental guy and I'll get that back, but it's going to require me moving past the Revolver and Rubber Soul portion of my life and on to Sergeant Pepper, and infinite metaphor of a different variety. 
 

Friday, November 13, 2009

I go to all the parties, I never have a good time, It's like we're acting out a movie, Mystery and Crime

As of late The Joel Plaskett Emergency's album Truthfully Truthfully has been on heavy rotation.  One tune on the album reminds me of a going to the local 'Circle K' to play Gyrus, Gun Smoke and Choplifter on big arcade games as a kid.  Mystery and Crime's texture reminds me of bad hair days, and a simpler life when 4 quarters for 4 games was one of the highlights of the week.  O but boy do those harmonizing guitars sound great.
 
From a literary sense I've been, as the quote says 'biting off more than I can chew and chewing like hell.  Books on the hook currently --

-- The Audacity to Win -- A political strategy book I've waited for with intent.  Reinforces that all politics are local, and finding your people and reaching out to them is just as effective as gerrymandering.  Winners are winners, I'd say we can learn from em' all ..--.. if we choose to do so. 

-- The Cluetrain Manifesto -- Great book on the psychology of digital conversation, although a bit dated provides a SOLID foundation that, to me, reinforces, technology = slam dunk, the blank canvas that it creates for you to paint on, well, that's another story.  One thing I find first hand to be true, It is soooo hard to break out of the initial anxiety phase in delivering prose, thoughts and ideas that are represented of yourself.  Your friends, family, employers, etc, etc are your critics, which by natural inclination makes you want to throw up barriers, barriers that lock you in to a mindset that's not per se of your own, but what your interpretation is of what others (your target audience wants to hear) --- What you get is a flat / sedate depiction of who you are, what you want to be, and a piece that is potentially boring, irreverent.  To quote a bad Wendy's reference, to me, the book not only asks 'Where's the Beef?, but let's frame the question in a way we can talk about it ... Don't write it well and walled up, write it open ended.

-- Fool's Gold -- Shows how some 30 somethings'  at JP Morgan that are good at 'credit default swapping' can really throw the world a breaking ball, the world swings and misses, by two feet.  Think the computer geek that rounds the fraction of a cent into his bank account is a crime, multiply that by a million and that's what gets by with 'innovative financial products.'  Bulls and bears are fine, but invisible hands, that's something else, the maggots in the system.  Knowledge is power, and as an individual investor, being aware of the silliness that happens, especially in small cap growth stocks, makes me shake my head in disbelief. 

-- The Post American World -- Not the popular spatter of typical intelligentsia or critics of the current administration as one may think.  It of course suggests the pie still grows, but a greater percentage is rightsizing abroad.  It suggests that America has been successful beyond its wildest dreams in pushing an agenda of democracy and open markets to dark corners of the world, now it has to open up even moreso to the game its mastered and continues to promote.  The US has the economics to do great things, the politics of the matter is a unique challange.

-- The Perfect Portfolio -- Doing your homework these days is not enough.  Looking at balance sheets, sales, cash flow, EPS and all these snappy technical indicators and a couple bucks will get you a bag of chips and a headache.  Back to those invisible hands and the role they play in manipulating the market is what makes predicting the market just as impossible as predicting the weather.  It suggests diversifying around 9 asset classes instead of the typical 3, and have a 'target market portfolio' for the shifting for the trends of the world today.  My target market currently is the Chinese Agriculture plays, CGA, YONG, CAGC, I've been happy with it, early next year (Feb / March), my gut says the tech sector will lead a faux recovery... In the age of derivatives, a fake recovery is equal to a real recovery, perception is reality, you look behind the curtain, there's another curtain with another curtain... how deep do you want to go with it?
 
-- Thinking Outside the Grid --  Pure and simple, the new power grid will be the greatest wonder of mankind one day.  Meanwhile Boone Pickins sells Texas wind to China.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I think that you're forgetting the blood that you'll be letting Has a price on it no one knows

Dad served in the Army, Prince Rupert as a postman during WW2.  We didn't get to talk about his experiences and travels, I'm sure it was an interesting time.  I certainly miss that fella, I wish he was still here, we'd have a lot to talk about.

The ironic nature of life on many levels lands me on top of the Victory Over America / Victory Over Iran palaces at a mass flag flying ceremony, a mixture of emotion that's made me sick to my gut.

Many times I reference a U2 song 'Running to Stand Still,' and think about the underlying tones and implications of many things on many levels.  It again makes me think of the Jerry Macquire brief 'the things we think and do not say,' and suffice to say I'm happy to think I tell everyone I care about and everyone who is special in my life how I feel about them.  Life tends to create abstraction as a coping mechanism for the things we feel and the things we can or cannot say.

Running to stand still is a popular sentiment in pop culture today which suggests an Iphone laden clan textin', blackberry'in, facebooking or twittering no matter the environment, venue or surroundings.  It implies a transient nature of a generation that cannot be satisfied.  Standing Still to run is a better analogy for the life lived out here.  We're in a race in which the words are echoed, 'read, set, go' and you're still tied to the starting block. The crowd laps you, throws a 'Hi' out, only to be lapped several times.  Once you've been released from the starting point, the track already has a groove in it, and often times it's hard to find that groove.  Many times you're left to pick up the pieces of wreckage, often times it takes time to re-integrate, turning your groove into their groove and / or vice versa.

Both running to stand still and still to running have distinct advantages and disadvantages.  Out here I miss out on instant communication.  On the other hand, time has permitted me to tap into the wisdom of the ages, unadulterated and without distraction. A mixture of both combined with the compounded interest of attention span is what I want to achieve from my time here.  De facto vibrancy and incandescence hopefully will follow suit as a result of this experience.

Some days are better than others anywhere you go or wherever you are, and people get lonely regardless of physical locality. Today I write on an occasion where feelings are a wash, or something else that I can't describe, or wish I had the vocabulary to articulate.

My rambling prose for the day, all over the place, detached.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in

48 laws of power has been on my mind since a buddy of mine has been reading intently.  Ran through the list and picked out my favorites, or at least the one's I have put emphasis on as of late.

Edge of the World, a nice little piece by Josh Ritter is what I've been toiling over on the guitar to occupy my time.  It seems to capture the essence of the life of a Spanish conquistador out at sea discovering new territory.  Imagination is wonderful.

Speaking of sea faring individuals, Ragnar Danneskj├Âld of Atlas Shrugged comes to mind quite often.  Complicated and interpretative symbolism surrounds the man and his mission, I often apply this thought not to the government vs. market fundamentalism sentiments, but rather day to day musings of politics and posturing and the push pull effect b/w a leaders engagement vs the white noise of the pirate.  The key is to be able to distinguish when a crack needs to be patch, rebuilt or exploited.

I suppose circumstance dictates which postures and law's carry relevance at what time. 

-----------------------------------------------------
The Six Laws of Power that Stand out to me Currently
-----------------------------------------------------

-- Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker. Seem Dumber than your Mark --

Seems the be the role I am in more so than not, sitting back listening going, 'o, that's how that works, wow, really, tell me more,' even if i don't agree -- then apply the information for what your judgement says is a utilitarian purpose

-- Discover Each Man's Thumbscrew --

Like Sayid torturing Sawyer in Lost, everyone has that pressure point.  I recall one tennis match I had in high school playing the first seed in the tourney, I was warming up with this guy and thinking 'Holy Shit', I'm going to get WAXED.  He had it all, UNTIL I hit a few to his slice type Steffi Graf backhand.  48 or so consecutive backhands later I won that match 6-0, 6-1 to the dismay of his onlooking family.

-- Despise the Free Lunch --

Last job we had meat, candy, cake, cookies every month, the tables of food were plentiful.  Although it was a 'pay meal,' I didn't care for it much at all.  Warren Buffet after purchasing a company once busted up the cigar smoking high five fest and said, 'we have work to do, we'll party when we earn it' -- Great deviant minds have articulated to stay away from that water cooler talk of company politics, its full of undertones of fear, backstabbing, threats and disappointments.

-- Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others --

How's the family?  O! You were a star cricket player in high school?  You like pullups?  I LIKE pullups too!  Finding commonalities is always more fruitful than finding differences.

Building grassroots campaigns is where it's at, and the institutional enemies of this philosophy don't even know that a battle is at hand.  A terrible man once said 'A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire,' and provided an example of how the poor will protect the wealthy.  The OPPOSITE of that is what is necessary, grassroots initiatives for the benefit of mankind.

-- Enter Action with Boldness

A wise man once said, and I paraphrase a paraphrase, 'You can either kill it or leave it alone,' I'd say a lot of people (management) go around kicking people in the junk, yea, it hurts and the recipient is hunched over for a while, but when he gets up, you just have a pissed off individual with a vendetta on their hands.

-- Disdain Things you cannot have: Ignoring them is the best Revenge

Finally, giving emotion to something is the best form of validation, ignoring them is the ultimate insult.  I used to think the sweetest revenge is to live well, however I've found fault in that -- by making an object, person or idea irrelevant is a win win in many cases.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Don't fall into all those sad stories you write, Your voice is so pretty When it gets caught in the right rhyme

A wise sage outlined the phases of life, and volunteers that I'm in 'Phase 2' -- First instinct says, damn, I should be further along, however, thinking about it I'm glad I'm past phase one and understand there are move levels to aspire to achieve.  A tip of the hat to The Veils --

I came out to the desert, and my friends jokingly say I have a girly french cap and hipster douschbag sweater (I don't think Kohl's had hipster douschbag clothes, but its all relative, and I stand corrected.)

In keeping with the literal fashions of the world, I offer the shirt, the way of dress, the way clothing is percieved in an office, and the company policy -- and move that through the phases of life.

----------------------------------------------------
Phase 1 - idealism - i'm going to change the world!
----------------------------------------------------

I'm out of Academia!  Yee Haw!  I'm going to take my nice little project and run it through the 'Systems Development Life Cycle' (SDLC) and I'm going cross reference it with all these key words and concepts, and I'm going to be the one that KNOWS, regardless of all the empirical knowledge around me.

My boss says I need to wear a collared shirt, I'm happy!, I'm officially 'white collar' -- I am dressing for the job I want, the job I have, and I will move up by providing 'valuable' input to these people in authorative positions.  I am a team player, I'm self motivated, I work great with a team OR by myself, I know all the right things.

Are my slacks nice enough?, I forgot to iron this one little piece, wow I hope no one notices --

------------------------------------------------
Phase 2 - screw it - the world cant be changed
------------------------------------------------

The SDLC hasn't been working out, my boss handed me a big clump of shit and said here, sculpt it.  So I've been sculpting away, all the while others have differing opinions on how the legs, hips, theighs and buttox should look, all the while I'm the one holding the sculpting tool.  OK, we'll make the butt bigger, yea, it does make a disconnect with how the hips and butt fit, ok, bigger hips, gotcha -- oo, now that's too hard on the knees and the pants don't fit, roger that, working on it right away.

You begin to awknowledge that world is a tactical nightmare of people arguing over semantics while never truly seeing the need to step back and have a coherent strategy for life, love, work and whatever else have you. 

Screw the company policy for making me wear a collard shirt, its not reasonable in these conditions.  The world is all about reason, right?  How can Kant be wrong, why aren't people seeing this?  I'll wear my pink and green long sleeve no collard shirt UNDER my nice collard white polo to say 'F You' to the system, yeat that's it.  I'll work around the system, b/c I'm sly like that, and they're not going to get the best of me. 

I'm smarter than that, yes-sir-ree.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
phase 3 - acceptance - the world may not change but i can still scratch my itches
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At some point do we all sit back and realize we love big brother,?  just like the protagonist in 1984? - I think there's a big portion of that --

You one day being to realize you have the illusion of freedom, but yet you're enslaved to your own devices, but that's OK.  I have BBQ, I have a good job, a great family, and people who love me.

That collard shirt looks nice on me, I think I'm going to wear another one tomorrow, just a different color.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
phase 4 - understanding - getting what you want is meaningless - wanting what you have that's the trick
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To fully understand this understanding phase is something I hope to achieve by age 50.  It's very very difficult, much moreso than the simplicity implies.

It means don't hate the players, hate the game -- and if you don't like the game, you can always opt NOT to play, or invent your own game.

It means hard work surpasses all games and shannagins, and you're always picked for the team based on merit, PERIOD.

To me it means framing reality in a way that accepts and embraces percieved shortcomings of people.  As in Goodwill Hunting when Robin William's tells Matt Damon that his wife once farted and it cleared the room...that and 1,000 other things made her special in the perspective of life.

To me it means knowing that I can hope on a plane anywhere and anytime, and it be a choice not a necessity in the quest for self actualization.

To me it means the grass will NOT be greener on the other side, b/c this is the side I'm cultivating, fertilizing, trimming weeds and rain dancing for.

To me it means turning family into friends and friends into family.

At the end of the day, I realize life is good in the morning, life is good when I go to sleep, and it really doesn't matter what shirt I'm wearing.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Watch as the cracks in the wall feel pain, For only patterns on a snake's back give us genuine fear

This morning I told my buddy I'm popping on Thirteen Senses and diving into my duties.  I explain to him that they're great 'mellow white boy sentimental' music, perfect for zoning out during a morning of mindless repetitive tasks.

Often computer tasks are similar to the good ol' Henry Ford assembly line method.  For car makers, when the door comes over, you have to put the inside and outside handles on, the window, umm, the lock, and the dressing.  For computers its an array of files and disks and other peripherals that you perform comparable activities on.  When you break it all down to the fundamental pieces it's manageable, and it can get as complicated as you can imagine.

An excerpt from the tune 'The Salt Wound Routine' reminds me that much of what we fear never comes to fruition, and often we're further away from the glass ceilings than we think.
---
And all this ground beneath my feet
Has decided not to crumble into the sea
I walked in a house, it smelt of paint
And the ceiling it has no trouble with me
---

Outside the big red sky is getting dim, shooting pool and talking, making new friends

30 years ago I'd wake up Saturday morning and watch cartoons, 20 years ago I'd wait for wrestling on Saturday night and playing Rygar on Nintendo, 10 years ago I'd be lying in bed nursing a hangover, today I wake up and go to work for 12 hours, coming off a 12 hour day, leaning into a 12 hour day tomorrow.

I used to think I was glad to have lived through a party phase of life, the older I get I wish I would have done more with those years.  Working the long hours out here has brought to my attention just how capable the body and mind are to accomplish more than I've ever expected from the past.  I used to think I was marching to the tune of a different drum and taking in the road less travelled, but in reality I've been on the same road as populist sentiment.

While looking outward to the world to frame geopolitical issues, I look inward to expand this vessel taking me on this journey.  I've found my perception to be constantly changing, life has been a perpetual dream piled on book after book of contrary viewpoints to be sorted soon.

I used to write often, lately I've lost or ran out of energy.  There's many new ideas I need to weave into the fabric of my existence, and I hope to be able to do some of that on the front porch in Shiner Texas in about a month.  Expand, then fill, then rearrange, I think that's how it works.  Read a bunch, let your mind go hmmm for a while, then take a break from all things written and digital, and see how the cards fall and frame it accordingly to what you think, feel and believe to be the truth.  External entities and knowledge will influence your path, but to me, self actualization boils down to what makes sense for you, then the biggest broadcast point comes with action and example.

I can truly see myself one day free, not from the immediate, but from the big picture.  It truly is a dream of mine to not HAVE to go anywhere, do anything and not have to follow the conventions of society and the working world, but rather engage where I want to and how I feel it appropriate.  When I'm an old dude sittin' on the front porch, I want to have a TON to write about.

'Know thyself' has been such an important phrase in my life.  It's always reminded me to look at people's reactions to my thoughts and actions, and let these reactions dictate which foibles of mine are charming and which are not.  While proceeding through life, I'm meeting many people of which I respect, of different mindsets and different ideologies -- and from this I learn more about where to go, what to do, and how to do it.  It's constant adjustment and tweaking that requires a lot of hard work internally.

I've learned to go where the communication and conversation is for insight.  The conversation has made its way to Facebook with a bigger portion of the population participating.  The scientifics of social media are there and fascinating, but put simply, there are people engaging and entwined in threads that would usually never speak or interact with one another.  It tears down walls, and at the macro perspective, as more people engage, it will solve a lot more problems than it creates.  It gives everyone an opportunity to engage with a low barrier to entry -- It gives an opportunity to showcase what they think and feel while allowing others to engage.  I gleam a lot of one liners and morsels of knowledge from the facebook community, seems to be the place where the conversation is these days -- instant digital communication will take some time to align with the world's fashions.

Friday, November 06, 2009

But the prefects all backed down, and they ran her out of town, Cause she drank and swore and spoke Out of turn, she was the village joke

Every time I pop in Belle and Sebastian's The Boy with the Arab Strap different metaphor grabs me, and the mind goes spiraling down some wonderful tangent.

Today is all about titles, and the people that have them.  They're used to define people – fence them in to areas of expertise and ideology, and give the perception of credence to some sort of structure.

We're rewarded today by having more titles, cooler titles, letters behind our name, all the while the institutions that hand out these letters and credentials turn their products into commodities, hence they become financial institutions.

We all know the Peter Principle, and we all know the 7 habits of highly effective people, but there's a lot more to the whole person perspective.

Individuals that have taken that balanced dive in personal life, spiritual, political, economic, cultural and scientific to start offer more in terms of holistic approach and long term strategy that WILL win the race, whatever that race may be.

To this day, I haven't found a title that was relevant in defining the character, ambition and vision in an individual, I treat higher titles with respect, but often times irreverent.

An organization where the barriers to entry are high and balanced among perspective, the reward is great, and the product isn't a commodity – that's what I'm shooting for --

Saturday, October 31, 2009

There are things I cannot forget, I wish none had happened yet, We were stronger than the preachers, We were wiser than the wall

Tonight as I kick back after a piece of 'America 'Heck' Yea' Halloween cake, I think about the artical I read concerning the conflict in Afghanistan.  Seems as though helicoptors are used to 'mermite' in ice cream and fried chicken to forward operating bases, and participants in the region look foward to 'karoke night.'

With such distractions, it's easy to take your eyes off the prize.  Objectives are defined, but they are difficult, time will tell if insurmountable, but as it stands I find it difficult to see the nationalization of these campaigns from the ground.

Lately I've been thinking about getting a new shirt or two, and some pants that fit.  I've been running in the morning, running in the afternoon, and the .5 miles to my chu I've been running full speed on the way home.  Guess kinda like gump, I can just see one of these 'spooky people' here go, wow, what's that guy's problem!?  I would think that Gump ran b/c there wasn't anything particular on his mind, so it just came to him -- I think I run b/c the ambiguity in the job and life have forced gridlock.  Gridlock in the same way you have a quadruple knot that's been tighened and tightened, and you have nothing but your fingers with no fingernails to get it undone.

Something Billy Bragg says, 'its just like being on a fast ride at a fun fair, the kind you want to get off b/c its scary, but when you're off you want to get right back on again' -- I think about that one out here, as we approach BIAP for our obligatory surf and turf -- that close to hoppin' on a plane, but then what?

Attitude is something you take with you everywhere, bring a bad attitude you'll leave with one.  Out here I have become and play the role of the quintessential 'nerd', that's how I came, that's the way I'll leave.

It's hard to get a 'read' on ANYONE out here b/c of the freakish nature of the roles and responsibilities.  What was this person like at 'home,?' I often find myself thinking. 

There's a lot of fraternization out here, but little cause for unity in hardship. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Well they're swapping pharmaceuticals in Mussolini Park And they're wigglin' and wobbilin' and dozin' in the dark

this week sees a wave of my friends off to friendly shores -- the transient nature of the people out here is strange and difficult but very fulfilling. i realize when i leave next summer very few of the people I've started this journey with will be around.

a wise friend said to cultivate relationships with the people, its all about the people. people are what make any situation dynamic.

a good buddy mine out here, in a farewell speech said 'do something with your time.' all kinds of time and all kinds of opportunities are presented to us on a daily basis, and most people out here capitalize on that in many ways. I've been learning patience, and that patience will allow me to seize not just opportunities, but the right opportunities for a bright future.

I feel strangely at home here now, I know the guy on the poster from the local shop, i know Rita at the coffee shop is from Kathmandu, i know where a lot of the Indian nationals call home. Comfort is in the little details. Finding beauty in the simple things, Thoreau is where I'm at mentally, although I won't physically follow that route for some time.

tonight i toast a big liter bottle of water to friends who are departing back to families, its not a goodbye, merely a see you later, and a sincere thank you for the perspective.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Since you've been asleep, We washed your purple veil, Called father daniel, Asked the undertaker for an extra day

Today was an old school David Garza day, which reminded me of my days as a COBOL programmer, trying to make relational magic with index files.  In those days, I tried to help build the better mouse trap so my company could sell doors and door knobs.

An underlying hardcore consistency in matters at hand is what I'm developing while hopping to and fro.  Consistency breeds emotion control.

Most things mundane, these things surreal /

** Apache helicopters partnering up to go blow something up

** the spattering of guns in the distance on the walk home

** 50 cal in the distance waking you up at night

I've come to really like the great attitude of the Ugandan people, and I look forward to visiting their country one day.
 
It's getting chilly'ish in the morning for the record --

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hurry home before the sky breaks out No point predicting things that happen all the time

Today doing my zombie walk to the communal shower facility I noticed der himmel ist grey, and throughout the day I was hoping to see the 3rd minute spattering of rain in the last 6 months, but to no avail. Even the birds seemed to think so, whilst sitting over the lake overlooking the bombed out Baath Party HQ building eating chicken fingers and potato wedges, they sang in jubilation at the chance of a shower.

The other two minutes of rain a few months back cleared the air, it was actually beautiful, or maybe I just thought so b/c I've grown ac costumed to this god forsaken climate and topography.

Sondre Lerche's new one has been spinnin' with me in the gym, along with audio books. What do people listen to in the gym, is it mostly 'pump you up linkin park is a roller coaster type music', or some sh*t with a 'beat' or whatever else have you?

I think about all the time I've logged on a treadmill over the last 10 years and go damn, its brought me a lot of sweat. I can recall the austin gym i worked out at, i can almost feel that sweat on my fat head. what can you do about a fat head? losing 30 lbs out here, now ppl say my head looks too big for my body...awwww, the perils of vanity.

metaphorically speaking, rain often comes with a bad connotation, rain in baghdad or sondre singing about it is beautiful and perfect. Tomorrow I believe I'm going to hit up some old Ed Harcourt to keep the pleasant singer songwriter going and to balance out Leonard Cohen's acid poetry.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

she was college educated with a phd, but she was always right and i was wrong, just another place i don't belong

strolling down amnesia lane i recall fastball playing a live acoustic show a block away from my inhabitance at the now defunct jupiter records. a brilliant show complete with keg beer and a timeless live cd.

don't ask me why that makes me think of families, however, and in random sentiment, i think of what a coworker says, 'who gets off the plane in baghdad and says 'family, we're home?'' so much depends on geography, so little depends on a lot of other things -- when i get a phd, that last sentence is what i'm going to use as a dissertation topic.

i think about how messy are the times that we live, the path of least resistance, one of a boisterous troll, but then i think about the global village we live in and think, we as a collective have this covered. (insert rainbows and unicorns and flowers and other visions of nice things)

what obstacle is there not great enough to conquer if you only just think it through, whats unreasonable after empathizing, what and challenge doesn't turn into an opportunity? i sat in the criticize everything and everyone group and i did ok, but when i joined the find a silver lining in everything group my life got exponentially better.

the world truly is flat, and i'm finding that what you make of it and what's at stake are that of personal responsibility and if you don't have that working, it makes no sense in questioning institutions or ideologies, just control what you can and move the stone, don't just do you best, that's not enough in this everyone gets a trophy world.

the planned luck to come out here and do some really good things, has been, and i HATE using the word a 'blessing,' from the blessing fairies. while doing so i miss my brothers and sisters, mummy and cousins and nieces and nephews a ton --

my time here will add some more value to my human equity, and i might even be able to get a one handed push up or two out of it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's easy to be easy and free when it doesn't mean anything you remain selfless, cold and composed

A common dilemma as a point to point traveller, where is the hub?  In a more concrete sense, if I have a flat tire, who do I call for help?

Decision and circumstance have had not per se and alienation effect, rather a natural distancing effect to me and even my inner circle of friends.

I see that ever pending decision, when do I rejoin the ranks of reality, or should I stay in this realm and see how deep this all goes.

My course of living life in a vacuum has brewed a contempt of the way our citizens frame the pillars that hold our civilization together.  One man's opportunity is another man's threats, we eek forward as a nation.

How can one tell when everything is in its right place and when, as a collective over the long term, you short change yourself for immediate and instant gratification?

Balance in life sits on the top of a pinhead, satin pillows all around to rest happily and comfortably, so why this fixation with the pain on my throbbing feet?

With additions to your color pallet of perspective, preconceived notions and ideologies fall by the wayside and you are dragged back to the middle, gaining autonomy along the way.  No one is your enemy, everyone is an opportunity.

There's a fine line b/w being a sociopath and someone who genuinely cares.

 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And Tuesday just might go my way, It can't get worse than yesterday, Thursdays, Fridays ain't been kind, But somehow I'll survive

The benefits of casual dress is when you tuck your shirt in, people go, 'whoa, where did you come from?'

Throughout my career I've been able to eek by with casual dress.  My last job, I would come to work wearing an 80 dollar designer tee, hence getting reprimanded by our site lead, all the while two guys down from me the gentleman was wearing a camouflage shirt.  Never saw the logic in why my shirt didn't suffice but the office camo flew.

In the era of 'loose capitalism,' you will hear of the green headed dude with that tats working IT at the prosperous bank.  Fast forward 20 years from the tech bubble, IT has 'tightened up' so to speak, this guy may still be there, or he could be back at Planet K.

In similar circumstances, in the land of abundant jobs, the squeeze in white collar private sector jobs will come.  Regardless of if you're wearing a designer tee or a suit, the producer will get / keep the job.

The age old cliche of recession proofing your career during the bull market holds true, I think there's still plenty of pie to go around for those who are skilled with the fork.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Fill up these four walls with old melodies, let me know if the big light is shining on me

In the private sector, you get rewarded for on time and under budget, in the public sector, you're rewarded by building an empire.  You NEED more time, you NEED more resources.  Private sector, money is the bottom line, public sector, lives are often the bottom line.  Why the disparity in efficiency?

I keep telling myself it all comes down to personal motivation and responsibility, and for every 'hero' that lives up to their paycheck, there seems to be 3 or 4 zeros.

Hence, a typical email that gets things done has 5 to 25000 people in the cc line, in hopes of finding that person who does not go out of his or her way, but merely do their job.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

In a dirty little room in a nasty little world

A page out of Viktor Frankl's book --

 

You always can make the best of the day and look at the bright side of things, or you can troll around and complain about any and everything.  These complainers I've learned to avoid like the plague.  What's been replaced is a new perspective on everyone I encounter during the day, work, the walk to and from, the gym, and other random scenarios.

 

Everyday walking to work I see 'up there' ranking servicemen and women, and even despite the 'everyone gets a trophy' awards that seem to be given out like candy, people do, for the most part earn the stripes, or whatever other distinguishing marks.  I'm surrounded by smart people with a lot of potential.

 

Walking to the showers every day I see 'Frances,' an Indian 'TCN', third country national, someone I wish spoke more English, but I DO know that he loves James Bond and the Transformers.  A simple smile and hey buddy go a long way, we start off the morning with a smile and brighten each other's day.  I can only imagine it's ingrained in people like Frances's head to call everyone 'sir', I consider it a score that he tells me 'Hey Dude!.'

 

Similar, the servers on the main line in the DFAC, from a distance away, they see me coming, they smile and go HEY HEY HEY, b/c I smile and ask how their day is going and have a great day in return.  I only wish we had more time to speak, everyone has a story to tell.

 

The gym, two people, one a beautiful girl, who wears the face to society of 'hey pervert, quit looking at my butt.'  I'm sure she has a story to tell.  And then there's the guy we call the 'perfume palace pimp,' the guy who's in the gym 4 hours a day, and if he's not fixing his spiked hair in the mirror, he's checking out his bicep.  They bring spice to the place, and their presence always makes me smile.

 

At work when you get the right people around a conversation, times get whimsical, as they should be when parsing through something big.  The greatest joy is when someone brings contributing elements to conversation and progress is achieved.

 

I hang around to get the full effect of the night crew, all good people.  I've had the pleasure to make friends with people here by just offering reassurance and acknowledgement that they are there.  It often blows my mind how simplicities of acknowledging your fellow humans goes so far.

 

My buddy Bob once said, I used to not think I was a people person until I met Rob.  I guess people skills are something I reluctantly have and that's the way it should be.

 

So tomorrow, I'm going to wake up, meet and greet these people again, we'll exchange smiles, pleasantries, and ideas, and my time here will continue to fly by, and I will be sad to leave one day --

 

Wherever you go, there you are right?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Intelligence is dangerous, A virus of the brain you pass around, Dumb It Down

The new killer of society as we know it, the attention span deficit.  I *think* Einstein said something like 'I'm not the smartest, I just stick with things longer.'
 
Weather it be ridding Afghanistan of barbarians, concurrence on health care legislation, that extra 10 pounds you want to lose, or simply that book you keep puttin' off reading, the seeker seems to be a fleeting element in modern society.  While I think in context of history, the human race has been better off than it ever has, the pending issues need attention span more than anything.
 
News happens everyday, regardless of if there is something relevant to report or not.  The fine folks in the media who have to get the advertising dollars, or page clicks or whatever new and ingenious monetizing technique out there are giving you everything you need to know in nibble sized chunks of opinionated who-hash.
 
The next evilution could be in fact OW, My Balls, round the clock fun and excitement.
 
Why Democrat or Republican and why not 'affairs of the state,?'  Why Christian or Muslim and why not 'spirituality,?'  Why cake or pie and why not cake AND pie, why science or religion and why not 'the search for the truth,'?
 
Attention span, I wonder how many people use it for their benefit and how many are content with polishing rails.

All the Japanese with their yen, The party boys call the Kremlin, Slide feet up street bend your back, Shift your arm then you pull it back

It's about 64 days before touch down in Cairo.  I am excited to see the city and all of its splendor and trash.  I can't wait for a 5 star hotel on the Nile, and hot air balloon over the valley of the kings, and why not a good cheesy pyramid laser light show!
 
It's amazing I've been playing the game 'Civilization' since I was probably 12, so I know Egyptian culture through that lense.  Amazing a Civilization so advanced for the time, all along the Nile.  Strangly enough I've been reading with fascination about silt and the Nile.
 
What's exciting is that it'll be my first jaunt through a muslim country, I hope to get at least a decent view of the cultural divide that exists.  I want to go off the beaten path a little bit, but not too much.
 
I can always see the pivot points in life, and this trip culturally will be one of them.

Friday, October 02, 2009

This time, This time, Turning white and sense dire, Pull up, pull up, From one extreme to another

Austin City Limits music festival goes on this weekend, and I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be having some brews with friends. in 100 degree weather.

I think of the festival scene that seems to have in recent years sprung up around the states.  This is a time of charlatans that dominate the festival scene, we as an indie collective soak up every drop.

Thinking about if I was a gazillionaire, what festival would I set up?  Where, when, and who?

For starters I'd say Geneva Switzerland, perhaps sometime late August.

On Friday -- It would be 'my favorite band day' -- all the heavy hitters, Billy Bragg, Sondre Lerche, Ben Folds, Crowded House, etc culminating with a performance with Neil Hannon and the Divine Comedy.  I'd say, Neil, GO NUTS, you need a 100?  200?  people in the orchestra, you got it!

Saturday -- We'd call it beautiful nostalgia day, one in which Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen with an acoustic guitar minus the e-street band, Dylan circa early 70's and others.

Sunday -- The b-side band day, likes of the bluetones, snug, mando diao, thirteen sense, jj72 -- throw my two current favorites roman candle and blind pilot in -- with headliner roxette
 
-- of course we'd have to have some belle and sebastian in there too --

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

fast cars, fine a$$ these things will pass and it won't get more profound

My nocturnal behavior of late afforded me the opportunity to finally watch 'meet joe back', 12 years after its release.  I had no idea Joe was death, and no idea I would enjoy the movie so much.

The first scene is striking yet tragic for hopeful romantics; striking b/c it can always happen, tragic b/c people are victims of societal devices.  People get so close yet so far.  The girls says something like 'It's so true it's scary.'

Later the father tells her daughter this --

Love is passion, obsession, someone you can't live without. If you don't start with that, what are you going to end up with? Fall head over heels. I say find someone you can love like crazy and who'll love you the same way back. And how do you find him? Forget your head and listen to your heart. I'm not hearing any heart. Run the risk, if you get hurt, you'll come back. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love - well, you haven't lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven't tried, you haven't lived.

--
This idealism of the finest sort is why I continue to walk alone.  If I'm chasing something abstract, so be it, the quest will last a lifetime.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How I want that mystery, Let me dive 'til I believe, I had a dream you were two towns from me Got to sleep, spent the whole night running

Running on about 3-4 hours of sleep today in lieu of musical schedules.  I once read that eddie vedder used to stay up for days and then go surfing, hence writing songs like Alive.

I think many things have come to life in my subconscious which are floating up, changing habits and perceptions.

I see life back home more vibrant, and I often become anxious to re-engage, however, too much too soon.

Often I've pondered the difference b/w wanting and needing someone, here I'm developing a super clear delineation b/w the two as they pertain to my future.  There's not much I need moving forward, just to be understood, practically and potentially.

--

The physical texture of this situation is what's hard to describe.  There is no allure, excitement, aesthetic -- rather a drab tapestry that fades into the distance.

I've seen enough t-walls, dirt roads, and brown skies to last a lifetime.  The sunrise is beautiful, more so than back home -- at night, when the full moon rises, BAM, great light.

Monday, September 21, 2009

So, if you sit down heavy with your pen and ink, Or you’re talking to yourself while you’re scrubbing the sink

It's been a long time since I've clung to a band like the past few months with Roman Candle.

What makes me gravitate towards them?  Clear, concise lyrics -- While reading amazon review I see the album bashed because of the literal nature of the lyrics, and how that tends to get annoying.

My response, not everything has to be so damn ironical.  Next thing you know someone will bring a live duck on stage and squeeze a quack out of it at the opportune time, in much awe of the iphone laden crowd.

I think about the media and their fear factors and survivors and the slippery slop that they constantly have to slide down to up the ante.  Politics, religion, the economy, relationships, photo shopped objects of your affection, you name it, its been polarized, sensationalized and altered.

I've made a concerted effort in life to be one of those that SLAMS on the breaks of this nonsense.  Life is a balance between patience and tolerance, and people who understand that usually make balanced and informed decisions.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Four times is once too much for love That's how many times the clock struck, I wandered home, saying your name

Often I think about what would some of my musical heroes (Billy Bragg, Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy, Sondre Lerche, Ben Folds, the gang from Belle and Sebastian, and of course Neil Finn of Crowded House) do out here staring at this ambiguity everyday.

I'm certain their imagination would keep them company, and this point would be a stark point of contrast for life moving forward.

Often I'm thrust back to vivid imagery in the past. I recall 10 pm sunlight at Park Bar Edinburgh Scotland, walking home at 4 am speaking to a roughneck working in the rugged land up north.  I recall a gal telling my friends they danced like wildebeests, and the perfect 4 leaf clover made on the top of my Guinness by the barkeep.

Flash forwarding I'd love to experience rain falling on a lonely tenement, as in Belle and Sebastian's Get me Away from Here I'm dying.  I will add that to my color pallet in Eastern Euro one day while focusing my studies on building micro economies in a globalized world.  It's hard looking forward, getting caught up in daydreams; while the mind is grown, my immediate environment is a perpetual skipping record.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

So we can walk around and we can laugh all night, it's hard to fit a lot of years in a Friday night, cause there always seems to be something left to say

15 year class reunion next year.  When I was a younger lad I couldn't wrap my head around this sentiment.  I once read that at your 10 year anniversary, you show up in a BMW and say, hey, look how cool and successful I am, at 20 years, you show up in a minivan and check the ego at the door and actually have more fun.

I look back at the strange trip its been since graduating 27th out of 44 class of 1995 Shiner Texas.  I got accepted to the fine Texas State University on academic probation and proceeded to make the deans list first semester b/c I finally read the f*cking manual.  After that, my attitude was 'I don't need to stinking study too hard.'

Today I know there are many things that require you to put on your thinking cap.  I have always been quick to cast stones on different ideas and agendas where a supporting nudge in the direction of choice would have been much better.

I spend my days learning about growth, the game we thrust on ourselves; its seemingly the only barometer for defining success.  I like money -- One track mindedness brings us to this day.

I will spend my time and energy interjecting sustainability and aesthetic into our one sided definition of virtue, as a product of this, I'll win big time at the game we play.

Fast forward to 15, 20, 25 year reunions, I will have stories to tell and I hope to be able to share them with someone.  Conversation with someone who gets you is the biggest factor in human happiness.

Toasting to world peace, Baghdad Iraq --

Monday, September 07, 2009

Tenants of the house, Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season

Switching between Bon Jovi's New Jersey album and dailylit.com's TS Eliot poetry samples leaves me with a nice balance for the day.

That's what you got here in Baghdad, scenarios and environmentals that will condition you for a bright future.  I've come to really like it out here, although I don't want to stay a day longer than needs be.

The body out here develops attributes like that of a date tree; needs little water and provides a nice fruit.  My will power will be fully tested when back home drinking from the fountain of plenty.

It's amazing whats at the post exchange, everyday commodities like toiletries and basic foods on one side, and electronics of all sorts on the other.  Has society become that ingrained with technology as to need it alongside bread and water?

This experience has made me cherish moments back home.  I miss waking up hangover-less with a cup of green tea, shower, and access to 'mp3 blog Saturdays,' days in which i troll the blogs for new music and listen whilst preparing for day, weekend, week, month, and long term goals and visions.

Here you have your work life and sleep, and time for gym and chow here and there in between.  The downtime comes in very short segments, and your tolerance for even the most moderate personalities is tested.

I doubt after this experience I'll ever have the conviction to raise my voice at anyone (as if I really ever have).  Life's too short for that, as the quote says, an argument just interrupts a good conversation.

This is a dry country (not county), and its been 120 days since I've had a beer.  I'm looking ahead to predict consumption patterns when returning to reality, my prediction, only on special occasions, and days that end in 'Y' don't constitute special occasions.

I ordered 5 new retail for 72 dollar Lacoste shirts on ebay for 125.  Why?  Because the 7 $12 gap shirts I brought out for the occasion have shrunk, I believe the washing method is drenching your clothes in boiling water.  According to the documentary 'Iraq for Sale', each bag of laundry runs 99 bucks to wash.  You sure could buy some viagara for that money back home.

I came out here and couldn't do one pullup, now I can do 7 in a row.  I came out not knowing what a 'dip' was, now I can do 30 in a row.  I walk 1 mile to work and back twice a day.  I do the wimpy treadmill for 30 minutes on a good day, 28 on a bad one.

The average temp since touchdown I'd say is about 110.  Often you have these storm type atmospheres, where back in Texas would be followed by rain, here there is no rain.  A buddy of mine said it sprinkled in March for a few minutes, and there was a sort of rain last October, a festive occasion in which scores of people whipped out there digital cams to take pics of the concrete.

The stench, filth, litter and civil disobedience can be at times uncanny, but much is kept in check by keeping the money flowing to company coffers.

When I look back on this 10 years from now, what I'll remember is valiant effort against monumental issues, having no idea how its going to all play out --

Saturday, September 05, 2009

I Can't Say for Certain Honey Where I'm Bound, Got no Rich Relations got no extra time

But there's one thing I've learned for fact, There's a Music You can Only Hear When You're Starting from Scratch

I let the beautiful words of Roman Candle fill my Bose noise cancelling headphones, I get whisked away to what I'm almost sure will be a more elegant time in life.

Tonight I think the pros and cons of integrating the past vs starting from scratch.  Often you mistake a blank piece of paper for one that's been written on too much and too often.

First I think, society makes it hard for one to start from scratch.  We have our affiliations, groups, families, friends, ideas, preconceived notions and environments.  On the contrary, we always wake up to a new day, we have opportunities that surround us everyday, and we make conscious decisions weather to partake or ignore.

My buddy posted a quote on facebook that said something like, 'life is a book, and for those who don't travel only read one page.'  I couldn't agree more. 

Travelling allows one to start from scratch and broader horizons.  While the experience allows you to flap your wings, it also enables you to distinguish different harmonies.  John Lennon and Paul McCartney had amazing harmonies; while we can't sing like these legends, we can develop these harmonies in our conventional lives only if we are able to acknowledge and distinguish their existence.

Eastern Europe has been my blank page for some time.  I'm allured to a much simpler life - the big box stores, advertising that subconsciously tries to manipulate my thoughts, and the game, as described by Neil Strauss is all too much.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

don't play neil young, don't play bob dylan, just let some high school emo rock band start versing and chorusing

Being deployed is much like prison, lots of time for reading and exercise.
 
My current favorite philosopher / statesman, Cicero of Ancient Rome, considered one of the most versatile minds of the time.
 
the books for the time, 29% done, 71% to go --

I have the keys in my mind, but no car for a while, probably a good thing -- 

You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation, You got a brand new soul,mmmm, And a cross of gold, But Virginia they didn't give you quite enough information

Something you won't hear in mainstream media who is entertaining and pitting American vs American in ideological battles.
  • The biggest market drop in 15 months seems to be because the institution investors in Shanghai decided to initiate a big sell off.  The Shanghai index is largely off limits to foreign investment.  It's grown over 50% this year, and now has contracted 23%.  What it certainly means is that we as a nation are losing the ability to hedge.  At one point we were the Atlas that the free world could trust for growth and stability, we've lost that trust, time will tell if we'll ever get it back.
  • Anytime something big is purchased on credit, (house, car, lots of consumer debt) it gets bundled into collateral, which usually lands in a US Treasury bill, which most of the world owns at a cool return on investment percentage.  China has a 1.7 trillion dollar credit, if our tbills don't hold their value, we both lose.
  • Our money machines in this country are going overtime printing money.  The reason, someone has to spend, we can't just act like their aren't any implications to the mass consumerism stoppage.  China sees our printing presses going and does the same but in double time, thus begins their transition from a more export based economy to a more consumer based economy.
  • China has been looking outward since the 70's, after a very sad history century under Chairman Mao.  China Road is an excellent book that catalogues all the onion layers of the developing nation as they integrate their people and religions; Confucianism, Islam, Buddhism, atheism and the rest.
  • Opportunists have been heading east, people who strive for stability have been heading for the Euro
  • A quote from China Road goes something like this, "We've ran the race and reached our destination and now have poured ourselves a big cold one, out east, the journey is just beginning"
It's something our great nation is forgetting, "Live together, Die Alone"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

They drive the same road drifting over to your side

Your dreams will become part of the future and coincide with the past, You spend all your time by the radio waiting for the signal, But inside, you’ll always feel the same, even when you wake up.

Lyric from Fanfarlo's tune Harold T. Wilkins, or How To Wait For A Very Long Time

--
I ponder the motivation for writing. I like...

1 -- Parsing through 600-1000 RSS feeds in my feed reader, I've come to appreciate prose that's going somewhere. Ranting facts, regardless of truth is certainly merits for snoozing. Reading boldface that has relevance / good title is great, which would allow you to sniff the info, then decide if you want to take the plunge.

2 -- Reading personal accounts, especially of friends. I can count my friends on one hand that keep and maintain a personal blog. A few take that hard look inside, those people I feel very close with emotionally even though we're miles away.

--
Keeping in the spirit of bullet point #2, I've been probing for years and plopping that out on the internet as fodder, learning about myself, giving others a lens into what's going on in my mind.

Seems like I've been going in circles lately without chasing any tail, no pun intended.

However, call it what you will, I believe these personal sentiments all add up to one big goal, or one big coincidence, all you have to do is keep chuggin' away and meander that river in the right direction.

My boy Brendan Benson has a new album out, and like he says, all it takes is a Tiny Spark, and I'll be writing with purpose and theme, till then, how bout' another concentric circle outward.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Trading gossip with the twilight creeps, Killing the flowers that were planted for you

Rounding out the month Ramadan here, I bet the Mosques are full.

I keep going back to this amazing piece by Neil Postman about Technology, something that was written I believe in the 80's, but rings true now more than ever.

Technology enables.  For those who aren't familiar with the capabilities of technology, you get 'greats!' from people who have a vision.  While there are many resounding 'GREATS!' out there in the world, the contrary viewpoint suggests, 'wow, this has many implications that possibly haven't been taken into account.'

Postman says we know everything the 18th century didn't know, and we forgot all it did know.

The other day I was heading the DFAC with some comrades, I pull out the iphone and begin to play a game of risk.  A friend says, 'what the hell are you doing?,' implying thier presence isn't good enough for you to leave the phone alone.  Back home its always been a queue for me to exit stage left when someone begins to play with their phone, and I've always tried to extend that courtesy to the next fella.  Next time I'm out with mates and dates and friends, I'm not going to text, tweet or facebook at the expense of company.

It's amazing the sheer volume of content out there, and amazing how diluted it has become.  Post a quote from a Roman philosopher, you get nothing back, post 'I farted' and you get 13 responses.  Idiocracy has come true.

The new web technologies, esp. twitter is a mechanism that lets you expose your inner soul, so as the tag line says, and a rhetorical questioned posed for all, are you going to trade gossip with the twilight creeps at the expense of the figurative and / or literal flowers that were planted for you?

 

 

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Well my wife still respects me even though I really misused her, I am having an affair with the random computer

Coming to the desert has given me TIME.  Time to collect, time to plan, time to gather, time to access.  Sorta like the weekend getaway but much, much longer.  Complaining about the enviable or things unchangeable has become a thing of the past.
 
Once my time is up, I plan to explode in the direction of my next goal, the next plan, and do more than strive for the extraordinary, but take that next step, doing it decisively and with great conviction.
 
While moving in that direction, finding like minded people is tough.  One day the white noise left my head, which lead to malaise in body and spirit.  Overcoming these personal mile markers is the ultimate triumph in human spirit.
 
While striving pragmatically towards a goal or mission, personal prejudices almost always shine through, diluting the goal to something in your head that's manageable.  For instance, if your pursuit is the almighty dollar, things like politics only become an excuse for the weak: Mark Cuban says, 'Getting rich is the most patriotic thing you can do, and it's a hell of great problem to have.'
 
We're living in times like Mark Twain suggests, 'where you're more loyal to a political ideology than you are the country', if that's what the populous wants, that's what they get.  Issues in the world today transcend politics, and if we don't we refuse to accept that, someone else will take the ball and run with it.
 
Sensationalism is what's been killing the pragmatic mind in America.  Words that you hear on the news, the speculative frenzy of media lies and twists, and the dumming down of every problem into a sound byte that's digestible by pop culture.  'Hey, look what I saw on tv, hey, look what my favorite pundit said, or even hey look what i read.'  Somewhere in the hearts and minds of all of us, regardless of if we're a plumber or a computer guy, we're now the subject matter experts on health care, global warming, jihad or any other issue currently at hand.
 
The opposite of sensationalism is ideas.  The idea virus shy's away from sensationalism, and as society evolves and clumps together, who wins is now who speaks the loudest and uses the most absurd words to exclaim their point.  Meanwhile the idea bubble will form somewhere else, and the money will follow.
 
What it means for me moving forward:  Ideology doesn't play nearly as huge of a role in my goals as relativism and transcendentalism.  This mindset has allowed me to have conversations from all spheres of ideas from smart people that I'd never sit at the table together, for arguing ideological semantics is destructive to transcendental thought.
 
Regardless of your definition of progress, we will do so when the mass demand it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Deal me in and I'll pick my cards up off the floor I'll see a lucky coin And raise a pack of lies

Was thinking about toasting here's to life, but I can't stomach a near beer tonight.  Instead a big fat piece of cake, China Road and Flight 666 on my off time while sitting at work.
 
Tonight I think about the meaning of success, and the varying levels.  Music for instance, artists used to get a record deal, sell out stadiums and enjoy phenomenal fan bases.  Now in the digital era and the abundance of talent and availability, what defines the new Metallica, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, etc.
 
There's songs that reach pop culture b/c its all they can digest, songs that reach a plurality b/c they speak to the heart of something substantial, and there's a new breed, something more abstract, that's meaningful yet impersonal and in subtle ways painful and abrasive.  Not painful and abrasive in the sissy Linkin Park way (its like a roller coaster, its scary on the surface, but in reality good family fun.), but rather something that's defining a mindful yet confused faction of society.
 
Success is where you set the goalposts, for as New Rules puts it, "In a network, the more opportunities that are taken, the faster new opportunities arise" -- no chance in keepin' up.