Thursday, December 31, 2020


Montezuma Well, in the upper Sonoran Desert, a rare oasis. It was full of waterfowl.

One of the best things about life in Arizona is the range of climates available with just a short journey by car. We have cool alpine climates within an hour drive of most of the inhabited parts of the state.

If you live in the hot part of Arizona, you have to stay indoors during most of the day in the summer. But you can easily find relief by driving uphill for an hour or so and getting to a place where you can be outdoors without dying of heatstroke.

The opposite is true. Here in Flagstaff, we get snow and cold weather, but it's viable to drive 40 minutes to the upper Sonoran desert and be outdoors in shirt sleeves. We went for hikes at Montezuma Well and the Woods Canyon Trail in the high desert on Saturday. A day later I was snowboarding on the high peaks.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Pajama Work Attire

I used to present myself to the world as a stoic, ascetic person, but this is just a notion. When I was young, I sought out uncomfortable situations that provided some type of adventure. For instance, I used to run whitewater in the winter. Though difficult, dangerous, and cold, I found it rewarding. The older I've gotten, the more I appreciate comfort.

I received a gift of pajamas for Christmas. There was a time when I would have considered pajamas either old fashioned, dating back to a time before central heat exists, or childish, as parents typically clothe children in pajamas to keep their small bodies warm. This was silly. Pajamas have utility.

I love pajamas. I didn't realize how much I loved pajamas until about 5 years ago. Prior to that, I'd had some pajamas but associated them with being hot and itchy, because I made the mistake of trying to sleep in them. Since the invention of central heat, pajamas are for wearing around the house, not for sleeping in. It's the most comfortable item of attire for the house. This lesson has become more clear in the era of work-from-home. I wear a more presentable shirt for teleconferences, but pajamas are my favorite winter pants for working in the home.

I don't sleep in them though. Pajamas are for work.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Development Hell and Contingency

By Source, Fair use,

The majority of movie scripts are never produced. Others that eventually get made spend years in "development hell," where they are passed around between production companies and rewritten, sometimes by several screenwriters. Some screenwriters even specialize in the process. These people are called script doctors.

Yet even when a script is deemed ready for production, it is sometimes subject to last second changes, and some movies start shooting without the ending written. Sometimes expensive sets burn down before shooting is complete, necessitating rewrites. Sometimes bad weather interferes with the shoot. Sometimes actors throw tantrums or even go on a personal strike because they think a scene makes them look bad or they don't think they got enough lines. Sometimes the budget runs low.

In one notorious case, Jamie Foxx refused to finish a location shoot in the Dominican Republic for the ending of the movie adaptation of Miami Vice. He had just won the Oscar for Ray and decided he didn't need to do anything he didn't feel like doing. To be fair, there had been gunfire on or near the set, so there was a question of safety. Having to rewrite the ending seems to have diminished the end product. I was disappointed because I like the world of Miami Vice, but I struggled a little with the casting of Colin Farrell as Crockett anyway.

I search for comparisons to my own creative efforts. I have many stories, essays, drawings, and paintings that I never finish. They are stuck in development hell. Some eventually get finished but many seem to be dead ends. I usually like the ones that get finished though.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Input Avalanche

Oculus Rift DK2
Source: Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

I'm drowning in a sea of information. My work setup consists of three linked displays running off a single computer, and it frequently isn't enough. The nature of my work is such that to solve problems, I frequently need information from up to 5 different applications, if not more.

This type of complexity begs for automation as a solution. I'm uncertain what the exact solution will be, but suspect it involves virtual reality. I'm not aware of any electronic medical record companies working on this for business applications yet. So far, all effort seems to be focused on computer games and entertainment, but I suspect it will come for all businesses eventually. We'll dictate into a virtual reality display but probably still use a mouse or similar. Will it be available before I retire?

Saturday, December 12, 2020


One of my hobbies is snowboarding, and it's very important to me in the long, snowy, cold winters of the high country. It's more than a hobby, it's an exercise regimen, both physical and mental. My personal psychology suffers if I can't get outdoors for more than a week. A gym or treadmill is insufficient for mental health.

The problem is that I hit my limit of risk with snowboarding on the intermediate ski trails. I won't be ready for a black diamond run anytime soon, and considering my age, that might mean never. My solution is to take up skiing. Skis are different from a snowboard in that your feet can move independently. On a snowboard your feet are bound to a single plank. Although there are many similarities between the two sports, control is very different.

I bought some ski boots a couple of weeks ago and rented skis today to try to remember how to ski. I've been skiing exactly twice before, one day in a group lesson, another day independently. To my relief, I seemed to pick up where I left off 5 years ago within a few minutes. Muscle memory is an amazing thing.

Unfortunately, I lack the muscle fitness so I tired fairly quickly. But I think I will continue with skiing, and I'm in the market for some forgiving, beginner-friendly, all mountain skis. It will keep me fit and occupied for a few more seasons, without having to move up into the truly dangerous terrain.

Saturday, December 5, 2020


You take air for granted until it's taken away and you have to think about every breath. It's a different life after you have to use the rescue inhaler. It's like rebirth or something. I just finished reading this novel that involves theology and I can't resist thinking of an asthma attack as the act of an ancient, capricious god from the Greek pantheon.

Really though, it's just that I let the cat sleep on my bed last night. It's just allergies.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020


Rare night snow at my old house in Ringgold, Georgia, 2008 . . . and a wave of memories washes over me.

Basically, I never get a good night's sleep. I've been that way since about puberty, and it is so rare for me to sleep well that I can't imagine life where I wake up every day feeling rested and refreshed. I have no idea why I'm that way. I use caffeine, but these days only in relatively moderate amounts. I've had a couple of dentists tell me they suspect I have a sleep disorder, but I decided not to pursue that. Apparently you can tell by looking at someone's teeth.

The problem with going to doctors is that they try to doctor you, and inevitably there are side effects or inconveniences that seem equal or worse than the original issue. This is one of those situations. They have a solution for sleep apnea, if that's what it is, but I don't like the looks of it.

I don't want to have to spend every night hooked up to a steampunk device, have to clean it all the time, have to not move around the bed as much as I'm accustomed to. I can't say I'm a great patient.