Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Dreams

Photo from a dinner theater from a few years ago. A friend commented that it looked like something from a David Lynch movie, which resonated. There is a dream-like quality to it.
I woke from annoying dreams a couple of times last night. Not nightmares, just nagging, annoying episodes which I am grateful to have no specific memory of. After going back to sleep, I woke in a better mood, but thinking it was Thursday, which will signify my weekend. Unfortunately it is not yet Thursday but the middle is holding and I still feel happy.

I have a fascination with dreams and I write about it significantly. I record them when possible, but most of the writings will never see the light of day, or at least not until I am retired and no longer have to worry that my online presence could affect my employment.

I have been at my present job long enough to accumulate benefits to the point that I can afford to take a day every pay period yet still accumulate Paid Time Off at a low rate. That is an amazing benefit and it occurred to me that I'm essentially on a 4.5 day work week, which makes me pretty happy. It's almost as good as a previous job I worked where we had a 37.5 hour work week, which came about because several of my coworkers were nurses (that is a normal work week for most nurses in North America). If we worked extra hours, this made it possible to get every other Friday off without using PTO. This isn't quite as good but on the other hand I am making about twice as much money in this job.

Happy. I'm trying to not get paranoid that it will all go away somehow.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Average to Angry Tuesday

Work has been flowing pretty productively but I allowed myself to get into another argument on Twitter last night. One of my replies, which I thought was nuanced, got viral and my phone is still going off this afternoon. Twitter doesn't do nuance. I'll eventually delete the two or three most controversial tweets but I'll leave them there for a while to make my tiny contribution to the ongoing discussions, if you want to call them that. Basically the topic is covered pretty well in this article (and series of Tweets, which fortunately still have not been deleted despite being several years old).

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/

Monday, June 1, 2020

Angry Monday

By George Shuklin (talk) - Own work, CC BY-SA 1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5521043

The Evil Kitty chewed through my mouse cable this morning. Yes, the cat ate the mouse. I'm on backup now but he's already shown interest in it too. I may have to go wireless.

In addition the entire world is trying to force us to join their revolution. I don't want any of it. The revolution is cancelled in my house.

I could be happier but at least I finally got a haircut. She took off a good inch. I think it went a solid 3 months.

Another short week ahead with Friday off, then I'm on call again. Grind.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Bicycling the Flagstaff Airport


There is a dusty fire road that circles the Flagstaff Airport that I've been wanting to check out. I found it on a Strava "Heat Map," which shows where other Strava users have traveled. After riding from my house on a series of forest roads and single track over to Highway 89A, I determined that the highway was too busy with vehicular traffic to safely bicycle so I crossed the interstate and found the beginning of the path in an industrial park. It's an extremely rugged "jeep road" but easily doable on a mountain bike.

It offers the best place for plane spotting that I have found. The security of the terminal area makes it inconvenient, but there are some great perspectives on the far side of the runway for takeoffs and landings, all outside the fencing. I got to watch two regional jets take off and one land. It seems tourism is back in session after the COVID-19 closures.

Solid ride. I have recovered from my Special Pain episode last weekend.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Friday at Last

Photo apropo to nothing. Ocoee Lake #3 in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The photo surely taken from a mountain bike trail.

The country is having another one of its periodical tantrums. Everybody needs to remember that violence usually begets more violence.

There are thunderstorms north of town this afternoon, looming but so far not raining here. Is that a metaphor? I'm withdrawn from the controversies as I have enough of my own problems.

It's been a busy 4 day week. It's Friday at last and I am planning to do nothing much this weekend. Sometimes that is best.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Cat on a Hot Tin Leash

I think I finally found my solution to the kitty running amok.
Young cats are adaptable. He doesn't like it but he's taking it better than I thought he would. I'm keeping it fairly snug right now but will probably gradually loosen it as he comes to see it as normal. Unfortunately he tried to climb the privacy fence into the neighbor's yard again (he's been over there twice before). The leash restricted him but apparently he hasn't completely gotten the point yet.

Very, very busy at work today.

Thursday. Brace yourselves, the weekend is coming.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Fine Young Cannibals

The Fine Young Cannibals provide the soundtrack for this afternoon's work session in my screen-door garage. Their second album, The Raw and the Cooked, was important for me for about 3 or 4 years from age 15 to whenever I graduated high school.

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18664465
FYC are most known for their huge international hit "She Drives Me Crazy." Unfortunately this is a misrepresentation of their music. The band was actually a 60s-style British Soul and Motown act, albeit with a few modern synth sounds and drum machines. The second track, and second biggest hit from the album, Good Thing, is a much better representation of their catalog.

I assume the record company got a pop producer to rework She Drives Me Crazy from whatever it originally sounded like into the beeping, clacking, synth-pop single that was released. The recording industry is a strange place but they made a lot of money.

In my opinion, the entire album is very listenable. Unfortunately they couldn't get along and did not continue producing hits.

Wednesday - keep going.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Lovecraftian Nightmares


I had to take a 10 mg dose of Melatonin last night to get to sleep, what sleep is provided by the fake half-lucid state that it sometimes invokes. This has sometimes been accompanied by psychedelic dreams but the ones last night featured endlessly changing images, especially faces rapidly transforming from normal to horror movie ghouls about four times a second, or so it seemed. Another feature though, was that time seemed to stretch so that I would look at the clock, fall back into the trance state, and then wake again and see only 4 minutes had passed. This is why I don't use melatonin more often. Sometimes it's harmless but other times it's a horror movie.

Nonetheless my week is off to a relatively good start, my mood is positive, and I am productive.

Another short week. Peace be with you and mind the melatonin.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Making Memories

Sunset Crater


Remembering a time
around 1987
when I wanted to be in this place
with someone I love
and have a picnic
and sit in the shade on the prairie
and look at the mountains
and now I have lived it


Remember also the fallen on this Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Special Pain

Ski area closed due to COVID-19. It's strange to think people were up here skiing and snowboarding around this time last year.

On really long, difficult bike rides I have sometimes experienced what I call special pain. I think this is the same thing that marathoners report around or after mile 20, when things start to hurt in ways that differ from normal exercise pain. For me, it is pain that is not like lactic acid burn, but sometimes takes other forms such as pressure, surging sensations, or deep disturbing pain in the large muscles. It also includes pain in unusual places that don't normally hurt.

I got that today but made it all the way to the top of Snowbowl Road. I'm home now and don't feel right and have difficulty walking. Usually elevating my legs for a few minutes is enough to get rid of this but it didn't work so I got the foam roller stick. I'm a little better now but I think two rest days are probably in order. I'm also looking forward to supper.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3506660051

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Death by Allergies

It's spring and I'm sneezing. Yet tonight there will be a hard freeze. I guess I'll put off the telescope for another day or two. Time to bring in the plants.

Walk this evening with lady, dog, and kids.


At the encouragement of my manager I decided to take off Friday so it's a nice, short week, and will be followed by another short week. One more day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Music for the Afternoon

One of the oldest CDs in my collection, and one of my favorites, dating back to the early 90s.

Seal's first album is one of the best debut albums ever, in my opinion. It must be appreciated in its context, which is at the end of the synth era of British pop music. Seal brought an element of soul to the format. It was a new sound at the time. I think it is his best LP. Like many artists, there was a vitality and youthful energy to his music that proved difficult to reproduce later, though maybe he didn't want to.

Production on first albums is frequently lessened, with more of a focus on getting good sound quality in the recordings rather than embellishing them with complex production and more instruments. I prefer this sound for almost any genre of music and could easily list a number of other artists with top albums as a debut followed by increasing bland material.

Seal went on to record a number of great songs after this album, and he sold a lot, but the music ran slower and less energetic for the most part. I still like his music though, and I think he has a great sensibility for melody and has a good, though unusual turn of phrase as a lyricist. He writes most of his own music and his catalog is very respectable.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Going Uphill

A view of Baderville from Snowbowl Road, my favorite local mountain to ride up on a bicycle.

I greatly enjoy riding my bicycle up mountains. Although it is a mountain bike, and meant for dirt trail, I usually prefer to ride mountains on pavement. I like trail too but not for going uphill. In my opinion, it is more dangerous to ride on roads than to be off on some mountain biking trail. You can't get hit by a car on a trail. On the other hand, it is certainly a more enjoyable surface to ride upon for such an undertaking. Climbing on single track is truly exhausting. By climbing on the road, you can climb much longer and get into that state of flow that is sometimes called the Runner's High.

In the sport of bicycle racing, there are different disciplines. This is an analogy to track and field where some people are good at long distance running, others at short sprints, others still at long jump, etc. When I got into bicycling (as an adult) I hoped to be a "mountain specialist," because I loved mountains and enjoyed watching the mountain stages of the Tour de France and Giro D'Italia, but that was not meant to be. I enjoy climbing but I'm not good at it at all.

If I were into racing, which I'm not, then I would have been a sprinter. Using the Strava smart phone app, I learned that I can put out tremendous wattage for a short distance but climbing doesn't work as well. To be fair, if I were racing I would definitely maintain a lower body weight and presumably be better, but I still think I was born to be a sprinter. That's the way it was with running, and it seems to be true for bicycling as well.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3468992647

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Masses

Fisher Point. It looks empty here but it was anything but.

We went hiking yesterday and there were literal crowds of people on the trail. It is a reasonably popular location but things were ridiculous. I've never seen that many people in that particular place before and hope to never see that many again. Unfortunately I think it may be a sign of things to come. Flagstaff is a very popular place. and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in North America. That's why I moved here and it's why there is a housing boom going on.

I believe that the growth will continue long term and eventually there will be urban corridor with a similar population to Tucson, perhaps 200,000 or more. It will run in a rough T-shape along the interstates, occupying whatever non-government land is available, and the popular trails will be packed like those in greater Phoenix.

Fortunately, there is a lot of government land around so there should still be opportunities to spread out and probably new trails will be constructed.

This dude turned 1 year old yesterday. He's matured up wonderfully but I haven't trained him to not climb the fence yet.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Tyranny of Spring in Flagstaff


Blue skies every day. High temps in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit. It's terrible.

I now associate being indoors during the day with work. For some reason I'm languishing with it right now. Fortunately things are starting to get back to normal in healthcare, as much as possible under the circumstances. I have plenty of things to get done and much of it requires endless hours of concentration and learning new things, which is a continual process in my line of work. I'm feeling end of career exhaustion this week, yet I am still in the middle of my career.

I'm sitting outside, and the neighbor is in his garage shouting at Siri to get him the number for a nearby casino. Ain't life grand?

The work week is over, and my latest cycle of being on call is over. I will breathe a sigh of relief to last all weekend.

Summer is within sight and the high country beckons.
The high country of the San Francisco Peaks last summer. Recently it's been much less cloudy.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Cats and Doors and Roads

One of the few unpaved paths in my neighborhood winds through this small block park, which as you can see, is on the way to the mailboxes.

I had a very productive work day yesterday but it didn't end well with the usual end of the day requests that interrupted my workflow. Nonetheless, I got it ended and moved on to watering the potted plants out front at which time the cats escaped and the youngest almost immediately ran across the street, where he knows he is not permitted to go. Another cat went across the side alley to trespass on the neighbor's property. I was too lenient and trusting with them. I do not allow my cats to roam and this neighborhood is not the appropriate place for that, it being against the HOA rules and city ordnance.

Cats can be trained but it is very difficult compared to a dog and sometimes it's so difficult as to be impossible in the practical sense.

At least I got a walk in the neighborhood in the afternoon. It's mostly concrete but there are a few paths that go through small piney parks with some shade. It's better than nothing in the era of work-from-home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Fire Season

We got a little rain last weekend. At my house it turned into a steady drizzle. This is better than nothing but it won't get us through the many weeks remaining until the Monsoon arrives in early to mid-July. Hopefully it will be better than last year, which was dangerously dry. I've seen the relative humidity as low as 19% over the last couple of days.

Went running last evening, a usual activity for me on a Tuesday evening. It's beautiful but windy and slightly cool for this time of year. It was a fairly good run and I think I can start pushing the distance next week.

In case you want to know what it looks like running near my house. Mostly this.
Ponderosa pines on Woody Mountain Road. This is a famous dirt road for training. I have passed Olympic calibre runners on this road. They were going more than twice as fast as me, and probably twice as far.

Half way through this week. Still working, writing, exercising, loving.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

What Day is It?


I haven't been to a store in a few days and had a three day weekend last week. I feel like the weeks are starting to run together again. Next up is Memorial Day. That can be a landmark for the summer. 

I'm trying to decide if I should risk flying this summer to visit family. It's an interesting question, considering that I have asthma. Now is probably the time to buy tickets. Actually a few weeks ago was the time but I didn't act on it for obvious reasons.

I spent much of the morning figuring out why my network account kept getting locked. We tracked it to processes running on my old laptop, which is now being used by my coworker. I'm almost certain I have seen the last of that.

Small victories.

It's Tuesday. 3.5 days to go.

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Hell of Password Security

Source: Wikimedia

I'm lost in the Hell of Password Security today. My work account keeps getting locked even though I am logged in and happily working normally. This implies there is some process somewhere on some device trying to use the wrong password and it just keeps trying until the account gets locked. I have had to call our help desk 4 times so far. I'm not a fan of the "keep retrying" strategy when a login fails for software design. To be fair, it works most of the time, but then this scenario comes up. From talking to our help desk people, it definitely happens to other employees too.

Individually, this happens to me about once per year and I'm unsure why exactly although it is my habit of having several different devices logged in at the same time: physical machines, Citrix desktop session, Teams clients, and Remote Desktop to multiple servers. I logged out everything I could find but it hasn't stopped so far. It makes for a long morning if you are trying to get anything done.

I also got called in the middle of the night last night to work on something that I had no access to fix. Then followed a long sequence of hot potato with the ticket as to who should fix it. It was terrible because I had sedated myself and could barely stay awake. The work week is off to a bad start.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Thunderstorms

I live within 10 miles or so of the Mogollon Rim, closer if you count some of the tributary canyons that run down into Oak Creek Canyon. Due to the way storms frequently approach from the southwest in these parts, this leads to the strange phenomenon that I can sometimes hear thunder down in the Sedona area even when Flagstaff is about to receive snow. Since I grew up and lived most of my life less than 1000 feet above sea level, I find this strange. I'm sure I will never get used to having such different climates within such a short distance.

We have predictions of thunderstorms for today, Mother's Day 2020, but I haven't heard a single rumble of thunder, despite radar evidence of rain everywhere except my neighborhood. It's going to be a long, late-spring of high fire danger. There are some nice clouds though.

[Edit: as soon as I published this, I went out into my fenced area with my cats and soon felt static electricity in my hair and heard thunder. Ain't that the way it works?]

Love to my mom, and all the other mothers, including my girlfriend, my sister, my brother's wife Tiffani, and my stepmother. I also haven't forgotten my grandmothers and great-grandmothers even though they are all long gone.




I setup a fan yesterday in my garage screen porch and my youngest cat was initially scared of it. Soon he was chewing on the power cable, because young cats have to try biting everything.

Another work week coming. I enjoyed my time off and I'm ready.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Productivity

Bismarck Lake. This is the most water I have seen in it.

I decided to get rid of my previous, rambling post about reason. It wasn't well thought out although there is a thesis in there somewhere.

My three day weekend is running as planned, though thunderstorms are predicted for tomorrow. I put my day off to good use.

1. A beautiful hike with my wonderful girlfriend
2. Washed the winter salt off the car. Hopefully that does not mean we will get another snowstorm, but if we do, then I will try not to drive in it.
3. Washed the polyurethane floor of my garage. It isn't perfect but it looks better. Hopefully this is not a double jinx for snow.

I'm not superstitious, except when I am.

4. Much cleaning and organization in the kitchen. I don't think that can jinx anything.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Work from Home Infinity

How is working from home going? The cat keeps putting things in full screen mode.
Of course, I'm trying to train him to not get the keyboard, but he sees it as a way to get me to touch him or pick him up. 'Round and 'round we go.

I finally missed a day of day blogging but not troubled by it. It was inevitable and I don't want this to feel like a chore.

Running last evening after work. It was a pretty good run, but that might be because it was a flat course. I use a tracking application to measure my run and record the geography. It showed something interesting. It was a little warm last evening and I slowed down during the part of the run that had direct exposure to sunlight. I was feeling it while running and it is reflected in the statistics.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3410859131

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

On Complaining

Cherohala Skyway in 2013. These are likely the Unicoi Mountains.

I tend to be a very critical thinking person. The problem with this is that it can take a turn from critique into negativity. It's usually best to think proactively and use critique as a tool to avoid problems. We are in a time when it is difficult to stay positive all the time.

Planning my next outdoor excursion is one of the best things I can do to keep myself from falling into endless negative criticism of myself and everything around me.

I had to go into the office this morning to pick up a couple of things. One of my coworkers was in there working. She has been hospitalized with an illness unrelated to the Coronavirus. It put things into perspective. Others have it worse than me. I have it pretty good.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Voting by Mail

Photo from the Dry Lake Hills, 2018.

I find it strange that voting by mail has become controversial all of a sudden. We've been doing it for years and as far as I can tell, there are few if any documented cases of voter fraud. I prefer voting that way, as it is a hassle to have to go somewhere just to vote. Also, I have experienced some issues with polling locations being switched around at the last minute, or setup in very inconvenient locations for the district. I doubt they would pull that with the neighborhood I live in now but it happens a lot with low income neighborhoods and student-heavy apartment complexes.

On second thought, maybe that's why it is now controversial. There are people who really want to prevent citizens in certain categories from being able to vote and voting by mail makes that difficult to accomplish.

Went to the dentist this morning, which had been rescheduled previously due to the coronavirus. And now I have a headache.

As Bob Geldof once asked, "Tell me why I don't like Mondays?"

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Not Every Ride is a Good One


Many of these elite athletes say they believe that their worst training sessions provide the most value later. That may be true, but when you are mountain biking for fun it would be better if the ride was, well, "fun." They can't all be good.

I had such a ride today on a section of the Arizona Trail. I think the real problem is just that I'm not in shape for bicycling yet this year. It is difficult to train in the winter in Flagstaff's climate so I generally just don't. That means every spring is difficult.

Honestly I can handle being the worst mountain biker in Flagstaff but I wish I wouldn't have gotten into such a bad state of mind that I forgot to enjoy being in the forest. That's the only thing that makes it seem like a waste.

I am on the sofa trying to recover, and so far there is nothing there. I'll just have to force myself up to get something to eat.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

New York Strip


I'm very good at cooking filet mignon but I haven't mastered the New York Strip. The last two times I have tried searing it with just salt and pepper but it isn't working out. The outside is char-crusted, which is good, but the middle is nearly rare and mushy and the fat doesn't render. While cooking this one today I was certain it would be overcooked after resting in a foil tent, but instead it was chewy, yet browned on the outside to the verge of burning. I'm not doing something right. I think I need to use the oven to finish it, not sure. I have a couple more in the freezer and I will definitely take a different path next time. I'm pretty sure it will involve butter, just like the filet, but also different application of heat.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Architecture and Social Media

I'd love to get a photo with no car in it sometime. This is from 2017. I have never seen a modern church that was this attractive.

I've become interested in architecture over the last decade or so. There are some great accounts to follow on social media that will fill your feed with beauty.

On the other hand, following these accounts has made me aware that the generational debate over modern architecture continues. There are these camps that advocate for and against modern architecture. Although I have sometimes admired individual examples of modern architecture, I generally think it's been a mistake. There are more bad examples than good, and it's apparent that the modernists are not motivated by beauty, but by other considerations, especially personal fame and legacy. They want to leave their mark, and that is why there are so many experimental building designs that are both independently ugly and clash with the surroundings. They have more in common with graffiti artists than traditional architects or artists.

They also have something in common with research scientists. There is a culture of fame-seeking among architects that reminds me of my too-many-years spent on campus. Most of the scientists I came in contact with seemed preoccupied with name-dropping. They liked science certainly, and believed in their work, but mostly they wanted to leave a legacy and be known for what they did. Same thing with architects.

I suspect most architects are somewhere in the middle, but social media amplifies disagreements because it gives all the camps equal ability to reach a lot of people, even if the camps are small. It's a megaphone for extremism. Observing these people throw bombs at each other on Twitter is entertaining.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Laps of Blogging

I'm kind of proud of my persistence with blogging although I've had trouble keeping the content as short as I intended. I'm a rambler.

Still here, still crossing off days of the week. Grinding away on COVID-19 related work at the hospital. Next week will be another short one so I have something to look forward to.

The skies have been thinly overcast most of the day, but it's still lovely spring Flagstaff weather. Except the ever present wind whispering (roaring) through the pines. I call the April winds in Flagstaff "The Winds of Comedy" because they are so strong you can sometimes lean into them like a Charlie Chaplin silent movie.

The snow line is retreating up the peaks.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Camel Day on Camel

Source: Wikimedia

Guess what day it is? It's Wednesday, and I live on Camel Drive. Now that we are working from home, it's a double camel day, a Bactrian camel.
Source: Wikimedia


Working on a variety of things now but frustrated by a vendor who plans to setup HL7 software interfaces with no specification. It's less common than it used to be but continues to happen. Why do healthcare software companies think you don't need a specification for HL7?

Then there are the opposite type of companies: those who realize there is a lot of money to be made in healthcare IT and get into it with no prior collective knowledge of healthcare. They will have a specification that is incorrect or otherwise not useful. One of the biggest fallacies in software dev/engineering is the belief that a programmer need only know how to program and need not have subject matter expertise to develop software for a particular customer. This is completely false.

If you don't have the knowledge in-house, you will spend years learning how healthcare works before you can competently build anything of significance. It isn't the same to just hire a few people with previous healthcare work to consult (like nurses), though that is better than nothing.

On a positive note, I'm already thinking about my next day off.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Monday on Tuesday

I made a trip to the nursery yesterday with a gift certificate from my girlfriend. I may have gotten a little carried away but this adds a little color and interest to my life.

I took Monday off to recover some morale but it's too soon to say if it worked or not. I'm generally in a good mood today but struggling to get a bunch of computer equipment working that I brought home from the office over the weekend and things are busy.

I'm having cravings for McDonald's again. In the era of quarantine, it's the worst. I've been trying to limit takeout food to once per week. This has resulted in about 8 to 9 pounds of weight loss over the last 5 weeks. I'd love to lose another 5 pounds but it's proving difficult.

Back to short posts for today. I'm too busy.

Monday, April 27, 2020

A Science Fiction Dream

A photo I took of the Orion Nebula last year through a 6 inch Celestron telescope.

I had a strange dream last night that was a continuation of a previous dream from a couple of nights ago. I was in a reality TV show that constructed a ridiculously small rocket to launch our 3 man team into orbit. The capsule was so tight we are all going to be stacked into a pyramid shape with no space to move around. I was going to be on the top of the pyramid with a little pedestal barely big enough for me to lay on with my feet propped up above my head. There were vague plans to rendezvous in orbit with another mission and go on to Mars or somewhere, the dream wasn't specific about that.

All of this was interrupted when we were approaching our launch date at a remote site in an open field with no one else there (which is senseless of course, as dreams often are). It was night and we started seeing strange lights in the sky. It looked like moving beams of rainbow and later clouds of rainbow appearing, shimmering with color, changing into wine-colored mist, and disappearing. We also saw lots of "fast movers." If you have ever looked at the night sky in clear weather,  you can see satellites orbiting the earth. They appear as fast moving stars. There are a surprising lot of them. This was amplified in the dream. They were brighter than any I had seen and the night sky teamed with them, and the numbers grew. Some were in trains like SpaceX's Starlink satellites.

We started to argue. The leader, whose name I think was Peter, still wanted to launch. I said to him, "We can't launch up into that. Why did I ever let you talk me into this?" Soon things in the sky got out of hand and we started to see giant, dark silhouettes crossing the sky, seemingly lower to the ground. I had this thought that it must be some type of alien invasion and then one of the giant dark silhouettes came close enough that I could see it was a huge mass of fish, like from the ocean. There were sharks, whales, dolphins, giant sea bass, swordfish, and many other fish silhouettes, all in fast moving clouds, close to the ground. It was at this time that I noticed our launch site was near the sea. I imagined that aliens were stealing our sea life.

The dream pretty much ended at that point and I know I went off into other dreams later but can't remember them. I have no idea of the meaning of the dream, if it has a meaning, but there were a few things from the weekend. I had seen a YouTube video title "Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind," though I did not watch it. I frequent astronomy sites on all of my social media and there is much discussion and photography of SpaceX's Starlink trains, and I watch videos that discuss the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) somewhat regularly.

Weird night.

I took the day off today as a morale booster. I had a great mountain bike ride from my house up onto Observatory Mesa and out onto a huge prairie with views of the core of the San Francisco Peaks and A1 Mountain. My legs are dead but there was plenty of solitude. I guess this post has gotten a little long.

Don't worry, I had a helmet, I just took it off for a couple of minutes.

After coming back down from the mesa I took urban trail out to Route 66 past this abandoned ranch. I love these native stone masonry structures that are found around the region. They remind me somewhat of similar construction in the Pennsylvania Amish communities, although the rock looks different.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Church

After I started dating my girlfriend, she invited me to attend her Lutheran church. I grew up in a Pentecostal evangelical denomination of Christianity called the Assembly of God. It was a fundamentalist church and very different from a Lutheran church. Although I have never gone over to atheism, I have not regularly attended church in decades. It's been a significant change for me.

In the time of the Coronavirus disease COVID-19, the services have moved online. Currently they are not live-streaming but instead compile a web page with a series of video and audio recordings as well as scripture to be read. I have persisted with viewing these and it helps to provide some sense of normalcy.

https://www.sothflagstaff.org/WP/

When I was growing up, church was this marathon of religion that lasted for hours on Sunday morning and frequently ran over into the afternoon with prolonged, improvised sermons, altar calls, and much begging for money (beyond the tithe).

In contrast, Lutheran services are calm and run like clockwork. I find the "contemporary" Lutheran service to be extremely easy to attend.  They take almost exactly one hour and the "message," as they call their sermon, is rarely longer than about 10 minutes, usually less. The message is almost uniformly positive. Lutherans do not dwell much on sin, which is a change for me, and I struggle with it. My world view is constructed differently. The core of my personal Christianity is contained in the idea that sins are acts of evil and people must repent for them. Lutherans seem to believe in original sin, but do not place much emphasis on personal acts as individual sins.

I basically like the church although I do not consider myself Lutheran and not currently considering conversion. The return of church to my life is providing rhythm to my weeks and I find that helpful under the current circumstances.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Saturday Cooking, Writing, and Walking

I'm surprised that I have persisted this long in dayblogging, but the lock down means there is a lot of time for contemplation, and it's unusually quiet since I live alone. I have often enjoyed writing through long periods of my life and I seem to take small enjoyment from these short and quickly written posts.

Cooking in the morning: breakfast casserole of my own improvisation.
white rice
diced russet potatoes
sliced mushrooms
diced onions
ground beef
Worcestershire
Cayenne powder
eggs
salt
fresh ground black pepper
shredded "mexican cheese" (cheddar, monterey jack, quest quesadilla, asadero)
butter


  • Rice steamed in advance and set aside
  • Potatoes pan fried to near done in advance
  • Mushrooms and onions sautéed together in advance
  • Ground beef browned in advance with salt, pepper, light Cayenne powder, and a dash of Worcestershire
  • Everything added together with more salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Eggs whipped and poured on and stir
  • Oven preheated 350 degrees F - bake about 45 minutes
  • About 1/2 tablespoon of butter put on top and cheese sprinkled on  ~5 minutes before the end


The rice was an experiment that I couldn't say entirely paid off. It broke down and contributed to what I will describe as a cake-like consistency similar to a frittata or quiche. Of course, that isn't entirely a bad thing but not what I was looking for. Perhaps it need not have been pre-steamed all the way.

Hiking this afternoon with the lady at Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Area.


Afterwords I had to go into the office and pick up some computer equipment for working from home. I even loaded my ergonomic desk chair into the car. It was weird in there. Somehow you can tell that nobody has been in there for more than a few minutes for several weeks. I'll set it all up when I go back to work on Tuesday. Yes, I'm taking a long weekend. They have asked us to use PTO every pay period to help the company financially but my morale has been lagging anyway due to loneliness. I was already planning to take a day off. Hospitals that are hard hit by COVID-19 are struggling right now, and we are being hit harder than any other hospital in Arizona. It's a humanitarian tragedy but we are doing what we can.

Fear naught.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Friday at Last


I have a screen door on my garage. My youngest cat, Shadow (I know, a stereotypical name for a black cat), figured out how to get through the screen, by sliding under the edge of the "door-within-a-door." This is annoying because the bottom of the screen simply fits into a slot but is not secured in any way to allow it to retract to the side. As a consequence, I have temporarily duct-taped it along the bottom. I will try to come up with some permanent solution that doesn't prevent the door from working.

Now that the weather is finally warm in Flagstaff, I am enjoying working from home a little more, because I have this place I can work and enjoy the fresh air.

This girl is 14 years old today. Ok, we don't know her precise birthdate but this is the estimate.
Griselda (A.K.A. Zelda)
I guess I'm on the topic of cats today, so might as well post this.

Happy Friday to me, and it will be a 3 day weekend. Back to work.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Thursday Crazy

I'm feeling a little crazy today.


I sometimes experience symptoms of autism, something I used to hide very carefully, but now I've reached middle age and care much less how others perceive me. Today it has been raging for some reason and I'm fidgeting in my chair and my hands won't sit still. I'm unsure why it is bad today but the COVID-19 restrictions on movement mean I have been working in my house for weeks now. I also have not been able to spend proper time with my girlfriend, who maintains a separate household. I think both of us are experiencing both work strain and a strain on our relationship. Working from home is ok but there is no sense of normalcy. This situation calls for simple persistence in the face of complex stresses. Keep going.
Pushy cats do not help with the work from home environment.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Dayblogging

New house construction has muddied the alley behind my house (not visible but on the left at the end of the alley) accompanied by regular jackhammering. I think they will be finished soon but will move over to the next block to continue filling up the few remaining available lots.


I'm going to start trying to post more regular, daily blogs here to see what it generates. These will no longer be lengthy, carefully composed writings, but just brief notes left behind as a trail of breadcrumbs. I think this will fit in with my new work lifestyle of working from home, which eases the mental transition from work to personal life (or blurs the boundaries). I find myself working on a rolling basis, starting early, finishing late, but interspersed with numerous breaks. I do not think this means I am less productive than I was in the office, but rather it is a resumption of how I used to work when I was younger and just getting started in IT.

I've had to guard against too much sedentary time. The cats seem to feel entitled to supervised outdoor time, the only type I allow, and it has been costing me time for walking myself. The weather has finally gotten nice in Flagstaff, and I am enjoying working out in my garage with the screen door deployed to secure the cats and keep out most insects. We'll wait for the obligatory last snowstorm of the year, which usually comes in May, then we should be ok for a few months.