Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For God's Sake, Don't Make Eye Contact!

I was on the road for work today, which is to say that I went to Phoenix for a meeting. As usually happens on days like this, I spent the bulk of the day in airports, Lindbergh Field and Sky Harbor International, to be exact.

Today, I had to fly to Phoenix, got to the client's office, have a meeting and do a walkthrough of their new office to plan an installation. Along the way, we fleshed out the project requirements and roughed in the equipment list. My kit for this little adventure: a notepad, pen and pencil, digital camera, ipod and book for the plane. That's it. No laptop. No portable printers, projectors or any of the other crap I see people carrying around in the security line. What I like about traveling this way is that I can get through security without using the plastic bins, my briefcase is nice and light and, when I get to my gate, I get to be one of the few people who isn't buried in a screen.

I confess, I do carry a Blackberry, and it's a handy little fucker, but most days I'd just as soon hammer a ten penny spike right through its vampiric little silicon heart.

The fact is, as I watch people freaking out that they have to remove their bluetooth headsets to go through the metal detectors, or even better, spend an entire flight with the thing deactivated but still in place; as I watch them sitting in crappy airport gate chairs for hours at a time hammering away on emails and chatting into their little headsets, I wonder what's wrong with me.

I hate being connected. In fact, the harder I am to find, the happier I tend to be. I can go a whole day without my phone. I can go several without checking email. I've set things up at work so that they can run without me checking in constantly. When I do check in, it's usually because I'm bored, and not because they need me to do anything back at the ranch. It's this way because I made it this way. I am replaceable. We should all be replaceable. We should all be able to unplug, to be able to sit down and read a book without a bluetooth headset on, to look around a room or out a window and not at a computer screen.

I get productivity, I do. I get that we all have a thousand little things at one time that require our attention. What I don't get is why we think all of it is so urgent.

Maybe I spent too much time in the wilderness as a kid. Maybe I'm just a bad employee. Maybe I'm missing something and it really is cool to be that connected. I just don't get it. Text me a comment. If I turn my phone back on any time soon, I promise I'll read it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another Lesson Learned

So last Friday morning the physical therapist watched me jog around his parking lot, and he figured out that I stomp my right leg down and push it off as hard as I can while my left leg runs. Even after he clears me, I have to relearn how to run or I'll end up back on the table. That was 9AM.

At 10AM I find out that a device I installed a month ago has failed in the field, at about the worst possible time for relations with that client. Then I find out that our mail server went down Thursday night and no one noticed. I'm standing there, trying to figure out which fire to put out first, and still bummed about the PT results, when one of the guys walks in with another problem, and that's when this happened:

Yup, I threw a straight right into the anodized aluminum side of our server rack. Let me tell you something that I already knew. Metal is stronger than flesh and bone. I got off light with the skinned knuckles. I've cracked bones doing that in the past. I know just how stupid it is, believe me.

Which brings me to Dieu's annual birthday trip to Big Bear, which began Friday night. I considered bailing, since I was in no mental shape to be social. As it turns out, it's a good thing I didn't. Without going into detail about the weekend (if you're a facebook friend you can piece it together), I spent a day and a half teaching and coaching, which I actually like to do, though I forget how much harder it is than riding like myself. Seriously, if I'm teaching you or just hanging out on the green runs while you practice, it's because I want to. I know full well that I can take off, so don't apologize for holding me back.

Come Sunday I've got a choice: watch the Chargers game in the bar, or go back up the mountain alone and hammer the slopes. I guess I should digress a little here and mention that snowboarding is what I do when I really need to reset my head. It's time I use to take all the damaged and broken and off kilter bits and pieces of my life and put them back in order. This happens without me actually doing anything. The harder I go, the clearer it gets. I ditched everyone in the bar.

I charge a couple of runs and decide to drop onto Olympic, which is the only double diamond run. I stick my first couple of turns and then I hit the ice. BAM! Flat on my face, supermanning down the hill. This has happened before. I kick around a bit and get my board below me, dig in and stop, then lay there laughing my ass off for a couple of minutes before I get up and take this picture:

I took it to prove that yes, I do fall too. So I get up, stick a couple of turns and fall flat on my ass again. In the lift line, the lifty says "Making friends with the snow?" which I find inordinately funny.

I'm riding the chairlift up, pretty much alone, listening to the classic rock they're playing on the PA and right up in front of me, a hawk shoots out of the trees, spraying snow all around it in this cool falling cloud. I watch it flap and gain altitude and then it starts gliding in circles, ever bigger circles, in and out of the patches of sunlight coming through the clouds. Finally, I lose it over the ridge and settle back into my seat. Somehow, there's no more clutter in my head. All the shit, the noise and aggravation and apprehension, everything that scares me and makes me nervous, all of it was gone. Right there, somehow, everything was okay.

I rode through the rest of the game, thanks to a text from my brother letting me know how badly it was going, and met up with everyone after to drive home. So now I'm back in the world, and my calm has already been tested several ways from Sunday, but I still can't shake the feeling that there is in fact a way through it all, that all I have to do is find it. I'm hoping I can hang tough enough to prove myself right.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stress Reliever, Had To Be Done

So I'm having one of the worst days on record in a very long time, despite the fact that in a few short hours I'll be on my way to the slopes. Anyway, this made me laugh a bit, so I thought I'd share:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blog Division

What a shitty name for a band, huh? Sounds like a bunch of nerds with woodwind instruments. Anyway, in an effort to separate my fictional ramblings from the tri and life stuff that are supposed to be on this blog, I've started another one.

If you're interested, the URL is It's also in the blog roll on the right hand side of the page.

Now, I promise I'll try to keep this one on topic, or at least rooted in stuff that's actually happening.

'Til next time, kids.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sometimes I Scare Myself

I was going through some old files on my hard drive tonight, that isn't code for looking at porn. Anyway, i ran across something that made me laugh, so I decided to post it here. By way of context, a couple of years ago, I took a class in how to write horror fiction. One of the assignments was to write 10 opening lines/paragraphs for short stories. These were mine:

Ryan Mashburn
Horror Writing
Assignment 1: 10 Opening Lines
1. It’s not exactly like flipping a switch, you know, ending the world, but it is pretty easy.

2. “God damn it,” Claire mumbled, kicking the bloody carcass away from her, “Why do they always have to look so human?”

3. Have you ever seen the inside of your own body, without the help of an x-ray?

4. My eyes hurt, the way old scars do when it gets humid.

5. It’s raining outside, the kind of rain that makes you want to put on a straw cowboy hat, steal a Camaro and cross the border at sundown, looking for a beach where you can drink cheap tequila and pretend that nothing’s wrong.

6. The room smells like old blood and rotten leather.

7. You’re feeling it aren’t you? That little pang of excitement, the subtle aftertaste of fear. You think you can handle it. Take the chains off and find out.

8. I can honestly say I never believed him, never thought he was anything but a daffy old coot, until I saw him there, splayed out on the floor like a frontiersman’s bearskin rug.

9. When I was young, I would look up at the stars in wonder, dreaming about flying between them, about weightlessness and light speed; now I just wish the sun would never set.

10. I never would’ve pegged Bobby Smiles for a prophet, but the little fucker was right, he didn’t live through the day.