Sunday, November 05, 2006

'F I were King of the Forest ...

Ten Things I'd Do if I were king of the forest ...

1. Repeal the USA PATRIOT Act and all it's follow-on legislation. Including the latest suspensions of habeus corpus and the military tribunals.

2. Repeal NCLB. We need to do *something* about Education in this country but it needs to be centered on Learning, not Accountability.

3. Along those lines, we need to re-tool the Economy to the Information Age, not the Industrial Age. We are never going to get those factory lines back and that's a good thing. We need to replace/upgrade that whole thing.

4. Restore Copyright to Life +25 years for individually held works and maximum 25 years for corporate owned material. A century is too long and it's not fair to the coming generations.

5. Healthcare has to be overhauled. If that makes us Socialist, fine. We can't have poor people dying because they can't afford antibiotics. It's ridiculous.

6. Bring the troops home and apologize to the rest of the world for the madness.

7. Repeal the bill that authorized the Iron Curtain South. That's billions of dollars we don't need to pay to KBR that we might be able to use to actually support the INS with personnel and equipment.

8. Cut the military budget by 10% and put the money into Pell Grants. It's insane that fewer than 25% of Americans over 25 have a college degree. I don't care what they get degrees in. We need 'em all if we're going to out-create the rest of the world.

9. Network is infrastructure ... If you want to provide network, you don't get to say who can use the pipes. Charge for the load if you want, but the price has to be the same for everybody not just the people you like.

10. Alternative energy production. Why are there no diesel hybrids? Why does public transportation suck? Where's the bio-diesel? What happened to ethanol? Why do we allow 15mpg passenger vehicles on the road? Somebody has to have some answers here and I know it's neither the automakers nor the oil industry. It's time we dealt with this.

Your turn.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Scarlet Letter 2006

It has to stop.
It has to stop now.
Feel free to spread the Scarlet Letter.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Electric Results

The bill has come in for the first full month of the "new conservation regime" for electrical usage.

The results are remarkable enough that the keeper of the bills IM'ed me as soon as she saw the balance. We've carved almost 200kwh's off the bill. That's about 1/6th of our energy. I was looking for a savings of 1/10h.

That worked. Time to look for more ...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Simplify, Redux

1200kwh/month is an amazing amount of electricity. That's 1.2Million watt hours. How can I be burning that much ... 40,000watt-hours a day.

For the record and because I need to establish it my own mind, a watt-hour is the amount of energy consumed by using one watt for an hour. It's an awkward abstract concept but I found that if I considered a 100W light bulb it became easier. If I leave 100W light on for an hour, that's 100 watt-hours. If I leave a 100W light on for 10 hours, that's 1,000 watt-hours ... or 1kwh. In one day our house burns the energy required to burn 40 100W lights for 10 hours .. 40kwh.

Also for the record, I don't have any 100W bulbs.

So, I want to cut down 10% of my electricity use. Not because it's expensive. Not because I pay a lot. Just because I don't want to waste it ... if that makes any sense.

We have a fridge. Pretty modern, not the HIGHEST effeciency going, but all the seals are in place and it's less than 15 years old.

Electric range. I don't cook that much. Unfortunately.

We have a washer/dryer and do about 5 loads of laundry a week for a family of 4. That's one load per person plus one for linens. We always run them full, use cold water. It's constant and necessary, so it's not going to matter much.

We have central air. We keep it on 80 and spend a lot of time in the cool basement.

So far, not much chance of manipulating these.

But it's funny what you see when you start looking.

I have a light in the rangehood. It's a 60W bulb. It's on at least 10 hrs a day every day. Without it, anything on the range is in the dark because of the way the kitchen is arranged. That's 600wh a day. I replaced it with a 15W flourescent that provides the same light as a 60W bulb. If I left it on the same amount, that would be 150wh per day .. a savings of 450wh. But now that I'm aware of it, I find myself shutting it off. Call it about 500wh/day on that one bulb.

The big lighting offender is in the main hall bathroom. It has one of those four-bulb fixtures that uses the globe-shaped bulbs - each is a 40W bulb. It's the first light the kids turn on in the morning and the last one they turn off at night. We shut it off during the weekdays but it's on at least 4 hours every evening. That's 4x40W or 160W. For four hours that's 640wh/day. I replaced the bulbs with 15W flourescents ... using 3 15W instead of 4. I just unscrewed one of the bulbs a bit and left it there so there's no open socket. The bent-tube bulbs look a little odd, but the light is perfect and four hours a day is 180wh instead of 640.

One last thing, we've always kept the furnace fan on to circulate the air from the basement thru the house. I don't know what the fan is rated at but if it's as little as 20W, that's 20W times 24 hrs - 480wh/day. I'm not sure how much we're saving.

The last big electricity hogs are the computers.

Some of you know that I have a fairly extensive network in my house and the four of us have at least one computer (I use three). It's difficult to say what all these badboys use for juice. The powersupplies are rated from 200W up to 400W depending on the machines and I usually keep them -- and their monitors -- running 24/7. If they pulled full rated power, the normal computer load in the house would be 1200W plus another 500W in monitors. I am pretty sure they're not pulling full loads because if they were, just the computers would require more power than my electric bill says I'm burning (40.8kwh/day).

So I'm shutting down some of my boxes. I'm gone from the house for about 10 hrs a day, sometimes longer. I've started shutting down computers and monitors during the day. that's not QUITE half the day. And it's not time when the computers are under load. But it's something. I'd shut them off at night, too, but that's a much shorter time -- only 5 to 6 hrs -- and they do their scheduled maintenance and downloads at night so they kinda have to keep running. I'm wondering if I really NEED three computers or whether I could shut down one -- perhaps the one with the largest power consumption -- and only bring it up say, when I need to use it.

At the end of next month, I'll know if it's doing any good.

In the meantime, I'm doing something. It's a little thing, but it's a start.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Simplify, Simplify ...

Recent readers will note that I've been going thru a kind of late-life crisis -- s sort of mid-course correction phase between entering middle age and senior-hood. Part of it is because I finished my Ph.D. a couple years ago. Part because of my father's passing. Part because of some uncertainty in my job.

Nothing like a little flux in your life, eh?

One of the issues that's come up is how much "stuff" I use. It's a kind of think globally, act locally issue at this point, but it comes from an ongoing conversation with my friend Donal. His recent thinking is about the growing disparity between the rich and the poor -- a kind of "how much is enough" question. The issue is one of personal ethics. The basic question is "What kind of mind set says that it's ok to earn $30,000,000 a year (or more) when there are people in your company that earn $30,000 (or less)?" Is this ethical? How about moral? How much is enough?

Which got me thinking about my personal situation. Is it right for me to earn what I earn when so many earn so much less? I'm not in the $1million range by a long shot. Even with two incomes we aren't going to make a million in a year, but we have a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. I think we've made good choices -- we have a modest home, low credit card balances, only one car loan at a time, and some retirement savings. We're far from extravagant altho we have our guilty pleasures -- my wife collects anime cels, I have my computers.

Which gets back to consumption. On an average day, our family of four burns 40kwh, about 3 gallons of gasoline, and 3 cu ft of natural gas. The water meter says we go thru 10,000 gallons a month (a number I find horrifying). We're spending as much on food as we are on mortgage every month. So, turning my own question back onto myself -- how much is enough?

Global income figures say that 1/7th of the world population -- about 1 billion people -- lives on less than $1/day. In the US median income is someplace around $45k and the "poverty" level is about $30K depending on family size. Look at that again. Remember that "median" means half the people make more and half the people make less. Notice the narrow margin between 45K and 30K. One other significant number is that the mean income (the average of all families) is about $70K. With a mean above the median, a lot more people are below the mean than above.

Call me a bleeding heart, but that seems wrong.

The question is what to do about it? The "clean your plate because children are starving in Asia" rationale is a bit ... feeble. Cutting back to save money is, perhaps, a viable notion. If I can save $40 a month on a salary of $4000, is a 1% reduction in expense significant if it causes significant inconvenience? What about an ethical argument?

Is it ethical for me to consume even one more gallon of gas than I need to simply because I can afford it? Am I weird for considering that I may not be entitled to it?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The New Communism

Last night I watched Good Night and Good Luck -- a wonderful bit of propaganda about Edward R. Murrow and his battle with McCarthy in the 50s. It helped me articulate some of the malaise that I've been fighting for the last few weeks.

For those who weren't around - or aren't aware - in the early 50's, Senator Joseph McCarthy whipped the nation into a frenzy over the Red Menace. People found themselves blacklisted, and even prosecuted, for holding ideas that were outside the narrow range of what McCarthy and his cronies considered to be patriotism. It was not uncommon for children to be blacklisted for their parent's beliefs and for others to be persecuted on hearsay without recourse to any kind of due process beyond the kangaroo court called the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

During this time, the majority of the press sat silent. The Fourth Estate failed the American public by refusing -- under pressure from the administration and fear of retaliation -- to publish the stories of the abrogation of civil rights and the egregious erosion of liberty. Anybody who questioned the methods or legitimacy was, de facto, un-American and became a target for the Committee. It took Edward R. Murrow and CBS News to break the back of McCarthy's power by shining light on the abuses of the committee until Congress was forced to act by censuring him fo abuse of power.

Today Terrorism is the new Communism. The parallels are staggering.

The president and his cronies have created an environment where people can - and are - being prosecuted for where their parents come from. Legitimate American citizens are having bank assets frozen, are being banned from re-entering the county, and are subject to rendition. Thousands of American citizens find themselves on "no-fly" lists and individuals with similar names are being swept up in the net, prevented from making legitimate and legal travel within the borders of the country. The Congress has passed legislation to require that all Americans obtain and carry identity papers within the country. They are proposing to erect America's Iron Curtain across the southern border of the US. All in the name of keeping the country secure. The government is out of control and the witch-hunts are under way. Just like they were in the 50s.

And the Fourth Estate has let down its public obligation again. Mainstream media has been dumbed down, news budgets reduced, and newspapers are being turned into tabloids. The general concensus is that the American public doesn't want to read -- and wouldn't understand -- about the complex issues that face the nation. And it serves the administration well to keep the public uninformed.

So the parallels with the McCarthy era are uncanny. But unlike the 50's, we have no Murrow, and it gets worse.

Now, evidence is surfacing to support what many of us suspected all along. The 2004 election appears to have been stolen by the Republican party. The evidence is largely circumstantial, there are no photographs of hands in stuffing ballot boxes, no video of shadowy figures tampering with voting machines. But the statistical analysis of the voting patterns, the reports from election observers on the ground, and the unlocked doors represented by voting machines that were less secure than the average PC have created a "smoking gun." If the cookie jar is empty, the obvious suspect will be the 7 year old found unsupervised in the room. God's Own Party sure looks guilty because the 2004 election's cookie jar was very, very empty.

Therein lies one important source of my personal discomfort. I feel powerless. I know that the world is a dangerous place, and I recognize the need for a government to provide for the citizens collectively what they cannot provide for themselves. But my government is out of control. Most rational Americans appear to agree with me, but I appear to have awakened to the danger too late. When the election process can be subverted so easily, the winner will not be the candidate who gets the most votes, but the one with the best black ops team. As a citizen, my voice has already been silenced in the polls. By writing this I have violated the USA PATRIOT Act by criticizing the government. Secret Service would appear at my door and take me into custody. If I were to be declared an "enemy combatant" I could be held without charges and with recourse to due process. I 'd go to jail, directly to jail, and I wouldn't collect $200. I wouldn't even get a phone call for the NSA to tap.

This is not America, but I don't know how to stop it. And it's making me -- quite literally -- sick.

Friday, May 12, 2006

People Person

While sitting in the San Antonio airport a couple weeks ago, I turned to my boss and pointed out a FedEx cargo plane taxiing past the windows. "If I were gonna be a pilot, I think I'd rather fly one of those."

She looked at me strangely.

"Think of it," I said. "No passengers to deal with. You fly it where it needs to go. No backtalk."

"You're *such* a people person," she told me.

Another comment that's been echoing in my head is from a conversation I had with a fellow student a couple years back.

"You never let personal feelings get in the way of a decision," she told me.

I don't think she meant it as a compliment.

As I'm looking back over my last few posts, those comments have been taking on heavier weight.

Did anybody else notice that I didn't include time for family in my ideal schedule other than as an interruption? Somethings out of whack here.

Back to dark ponderings.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Intermission: Can I die with that...?

I spent most of my life considering options with the final criteron being "Can I live with that...?" Will I be able to continue my life and look in the mirror ever morning and not hate the guy looking back? And way too often, the answer was "Yea, sure. I can live with that." I'm a very forgiving guy.

For the last couple of years, tho, my bottom line has shifted to "Can I die with that...?" It's not as morbid as it sounds -- well, ya .. ok .. probably it is -- but the idea is that I feel like I need to be thinking about what it'll be like in that last month or hour or minute. If I look back over my life, will I regret making the choice I'm making? Was it something I decided because it was easy or pleasant or desirable, but ultimately wasn't the choice I'd make because it was Right?

The options are complicated by 20/20 hindsight of course and you never really know if your decisions are the right ones. But if you knew you were going to die this afternoon, would you still do what you're planning to do this morning? A lot of days with "no" as the answer means something is wrong.

Leslie thinks I work too much and she's probably right.

But I feel the clock ticking and there's so much I'm going to have to leave undone as it is. I *do* need some downtime ... no question. But if I were to die this afternoon and I took this morning off, it just wouldn't feel right.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Step 2: Where am I at the moment.

So. I need to know where I am now ... how far do I need to go to get where I want to be?

My daily schedule isn't actually too far out.

5am Rise

This varies between 4.30 and 5.30 and I never use an alarm clock. I have an hour to clear the overnights and set up for the day.

6am Start transition to Office.

Because I pick up kids from school, I need to get to the office early and get in as much time as I can before mid afternoon.

7am-2.45pm Office time.

Sometimes I take a lunch. Most days I just walk over to the student center and get something to take back to my desk. Lately my boss and I are trying to walk more at lunch by trekking to a local sandwich shop.

2.45-7.30pm Kid time. Dinner time. Karate classes.

My wife goes to work late so she can drop them off at school. I leave early to pick them up and fix dinner. The spousal unit, bless her gizzard, is not a cook. Luckily, I am, so I fix dinner. (Confession: we eat take out too much. I don't like it, but the logistics of making meals that the kids won't eat are killing me.) My girls study karate at the local dojo. Sometimes they don't like it, but I see how it's helping them and I make them go. What that means is 4 nights a week, I'm at the dojo with one or the other of them.

7.30-11pm My time.

I need to put in an hour on work stuff here to "make my eight" and wrap up whatever loose ends my brain can still process. I don't get too anal about it because I usually work 7 days a week. It's easier to stay in the zone than jump in and out of it. I'll spend several hours on the weekends thinking, planning, and -- lately -- mindmapping in between household chores and such.

I have a monthly subscription to the local video store and for a time, I was catching up on movies in this time slot. I also like to watch some anime here. While I don't necessarily enjoy all of it, there are some shows that have been fabulous and the cultural differences between US and Japan tweak my noggin.

11pm Bed Time.

I prefer to go to bed at 10 because 11-5 is only 6 hrs. Unfortunately, I more frequently push it to 12, leaving only 5 hrs sleep a night. It's been like that for years so I'm not sure how serious it is. Lately I find I need a bit more sleep than that. Over a week, the sleep deprivation builds up and I wind up being groggy at in-opportune times. I find myself napping in the car while waiting for the kids at karate, or nodding out in my chair in the evening.

The only way this really changes on the weekend is we don't have to deal with school or karate, and I don't go to the office. My work is largely in my head and I have almost as good a connection in my house as in my office. The only real difference is the uplink speed is a bit faster at the office. My set-up is such that I always have all my tools at hand at all times. I like it that way because it means I can take advantage of various inspirations whether or not I'm "at work."

The reality is that I'm always at work, even when I'm chaperoning the kids scootering in the park. I don't carry a computer, but I do carry a cell phone and mp3 player.

My 7 year old asked my wife if I were depressed because I never leave my desk.

Interesting question.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Step 1: Imagine It

The first step toward the future you want is imagining what it might be. Somebody said that. I'm not sure who but it seems like a good start.

So, what would a 'day in the life' be like if it were the perfect day?

5am: wake on my own. no alarm clock. I do this now so we're already on the path. Grab a cuppa from the fresh pot on the sideboard and head to my work station. I sip my coffee and contemplate the view from my various windows. Ocean? Mountains? Ocean, I think, but anything with a vista will do. Right now I spend my life in cellars. Spend an hour or so clearing the overnight correspondence.

6am: morning walk -- half an hour -- contemplation time.

7am: breakfast

8-12: writing
12-1: lunch on the veranda
1-2: nap
2-5: students and clients
5-7: dinner
7-10: r&d
10: bed.


Of course this gets interrupted with kids, spouse, yardwork, and car repairs, but as a "Daily Default" it feels pretty attractive.

One every three months I want to go somewhere. Convention, visit a friend in another part of the world, take a week off to go fishing. I don't know. The what is an 'ad hoc' but the DOING is the thing.

Normally I'd say this looked pretty boring but my "cognitive life" is massively consuming these days. I can't stop thinking about -- puzzling over -- pondering various things. How to get Education in the US back on track? How to get paid for doing good work? What is the fundamental shift in society going to do to the nature of work and career paths? Little stuff like that.

This notion isn't fleshed out enough. I haven't finished imagining but I need to publish this so I can see what it looks like. :D

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Year Ago

I'm a couple days late getting this post out. I've had a head cold in my brain and it's made me kinda squishy between the ears.

A year ago Monday, I got the call that my dad had died in the night. I was expecting the call and I wrote about it last April. There's nothing like being 50-something and having your mortality waved in your face like that. I expected that it would be a kind of wake up call for me.

I'm not sure that it was, because looking back over my first year as an orphan I don't know that I've really done anything better than I've always done. Heck, I'm not sure I've even done anything differently -- better or worse. I'm pretty sure it's not because I'm completely satisfied with the way I live my life.

And I know it's not because I'm a peace with the world. The closer I get to the end of my time on it, the more angry and frustrated I get with it.

Start with the little things like finding/making/carving out the time I need to write/think. Or take my daily walks - which I miss dreadfully but which are pushed back so I have more time to do -- what? Read blogs? Discard email spam? Patch computer programs? Fix stuff? Break stuff?

Heck, I haven't watched a movie in a month or more! Last thing I saw was an episode of Battlestar Galactica from season one.

Move outward to the kids and their school which aggravates me beyond almost all bearing because of the insistance on protecting kids from learning while penalizing schools and teachers for failing to perform. Which reminds me of the Ninny-in-Chief which just infuriates me more. School policy aside, how can he SERIOUSLY be thinking of nuking Iran??

But I digress.

Too much doing. Too little thinking.

Too many messages. Not enough comprehension.

Stephen Downes has retired to an island to think.

Will Richardson has gone over to the dark side.

People all around are echoing my "wtf!?" on a variety of fronts.

I've 20 years left. Maybe.

I need to think how best to use them.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Ok. I don't usually get into the whole Oscar's thing. I keep track of best picture because usually it's something I've not seen and I try to catch up when it comes out on DVD later. This year I'm ahead of the game.

I saw "Crash" a couple weeks ago. I won't spoil it for you by giving away any plot details, but this is a movie about stuff that almost happens -- a kind of a cross between "there but for the grace of God" and "somebody's watching over me" meme. It was kinda interesting for the interlocking plot twists, but I saw that gimmick on CSI a long time ago. By and large I pulled it out of the dvd player with an "oh hum."

The reason I bring it up is that there's another movie with the same name that has a heck of a lot better plot and character development. It's also got a lot more sex and violence so I'm not sure what that says about me. It's not a movie you'll want to show in Driver's Ed class -- or any class for that matter, unless it might be a Graduate Seminar in Abnormal Psych. These people are sick ... but the movie itself is fascinating for what it says about America's automobile based culture. If you have to choose between the two crashes -- and you don't have to worry about kids seeing it -- I'd recommend the older one.

But that's just me.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I Passed 8th Grade Math

I don't know if I should be proud or not ...

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Life's Proportions

I just noticed that my life has taken on a new proportion.

Do other people measure their lives in proportion? Like, when I turned 34, I noted the change when I'd lived more than half my life on my own...having left my parents' house at 17 to join the service and never going back. Last year marked the point when I'd spent half my life with my spouse.

In '87 I moved inland. Up to that point, I'd spent my entire life - 35 years' worth - within the smell of the sea. I spent summers as a boy in the tide pools along the coast of Maine. I remember visiting the "ocean" branch of the family -- the Gilliams, and Wallaces, and Pyes -- those who actually made their living from the sea -- and wondering how my branch could have given up the ocean and gone to farming, and eventually the factories.

I'm not that far removed, truth told. My grandfather Wallace was a lobsterman in his early years altho took up the new fangled Electronics trade in the 40s. My grandfather Lowell, and his father before him, however, were landsmen -- farmers who raised cows and planted potatoes and corn. My father left the farm in favor of the factory where he was able to provide well enough for us growing up -- although we did keep a large garden which kept us fed through the leaner times.

But growing up in rural Maine, the ocean was just "over there." And not just any ocean, but the North Atlantic. When you go to the beach -- Popham, Pemaquid, Old Orchard -- you're not talking about any enclosed area of water but the North Freaking Atlantic. Standing there and looking east, you're looking at Europe with nothing in between.

My whole personal identity, my self image from boyhood, was Downeaster. None of these prissy Boston Lowells, but a by-God Mainer -- and a Mariner once removed. I even paid my dues upon the briney -- first as a dragger boy, and later aboard a Coast Guard Cutter in that same North Atlantic. The saltwater in my veins carries the distinctive flavor of the cold, and rockweed, and clam flats. When it's silent, in those rare moments when I can hear my own body, I hear the sounds of the ocean I grew up with and the sussurus of the winds in the pines along the rocky headlands.

But I just realized, my proportion has shifted. A third of my life, I've been inland now.

Not that there's anything wrong with being inland. The Great Plains are amazing and the Rockies have an almost cliched majesty. From where I'm sitting now, I can walk to where the Oregon Trail once passed - altho in honesty it would probably take me a week! Cowboys once lived in my neighborhood and coyotes still howl in the night. For a Yankee, a Downeaster, this is pretty nifty stuff.

But, it's not me.

I miss the smell of the ocean -- the clean iodine smell of the rock and sand, the pungent soup of brine and mud and reeds, even the diesel fumes and bilgewater reek when the fishing fleet gets underway in the morning. I'm feeling neither "fish nor fowl" as we used to say -- not part of this Western culture, nor any longer part of the heritage passed down from father and grandfather and before. I sang sea chanties to my kids when I bathed them as babies, but they're just funny songs to them. They don't mean the same as they do to me -- they're not the link to the past, not an anchor for identity with the rode trailing into the past.

And because I see they cannot share the link -- have not the stuff with which to knit identity that includes more than a minimum of what I can pass on to them -- I begin to doubt my own identity as well. My anchor in the past has started to drag on a sandy bottom and I find myself wondering who I really am.

The proportion can still be said, "I lived most of my life within the smell of the sea." But that proportion is shifting -- and the more it shifts, the less I am who I was.

I wonder who I'll be.

Friday, February 03, 2006

An Odd Day

As I left the video store today and crossed the parking lot, a woman crossed in front of me. I'd seen her in the grocery moments before -- so striking that she stood out in the sea of faces. Dark haired, well dressed, late 50s maybe -- devastatingly attractive. As I unlocked my car, she looked up and saw me looking.

Deer in headlights.

I wanted to buy her a cup of coffee and talk. So badly I shook. The conversation spooled in my head between two heartbeats like some movie loop where the guy gets into the elevator with the girl and has this great experience only to return to real beginning -- stepping into the elevator and not speaking.


"Um! Hi! Can I buy you a cuppa coffee?"

"Do I know you?"

"Well, no. But I saw you in the grocery store a few minutes ago and here you are and ... well. I thought I'd like to buy you a cup of coffee. Maybe you could tell me about yourself."

"What do you want?"

"I just want to buy you a cup of coffee and talk with a fascinating stranger for 20 minutes and pretend that I'm not a 50-something, paunchy, balding father of two with a mortgage, a car payment, and bad skin. I just want to step away from the ongoing drama that is my life and see if there's something else out there that doesn't involve lawn care, house paint, and worn carpets. I thought -- perhaps -- you might spare 20 minutes to tell me about your life and then walk away and never see me again. And then I can go home and unpack the groceries, assure my very insecure spouse that I love her, and perhaps, have a fresh outlook on what passes for reality."

"You don't want much."

"Actually, I think I do. And I'm wondering if it's too much."


And the movie keeps rolling.

She walks by and I don't speak. I get into my car and drive home thinking I'm some kind of idiot for (a) wanting to speak (b) failing to have the courage (c) betraying, somehow, somebody ... Knowing how stupid it is -- how much being approached by a strange man in the parking lot might have frightened her.

And I get here thinking I'll write up a nice little post -- first of the new year -- and I find a comment from the woman I thought I should have married but who had the sense to follow her own path.


An odd day all around.