Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Sands of Time

If a person could rewind time, would they follow the path not taken?

From the moment we crawl until the time we pass to the grave, a multitude of choices rise before us. Day by day, we make decisions as we march forward. Sometimes we pick a path because it is safe and we give little thought about how it will impact our future. When we make choices based off what feels safe, are we doing ourselves any favors? Could a person achieve the unthinkable had a different decision been made?

As a middle aged zombie, I wonder? Could I have contributed a fiction book of worthy quality had I pursued a career in writing literature rather than writing software? Nurtured and polished after years of usage, what would those latent writing skills be capable of? As a software engineer, what will I contribute that lasts beyond my days? Or what if I had opted to show my vision of the world around me through a camera and film? Would people have something to watch and enjoy long after I am no more?

We can't rewind time, but we can try to make the most of our days. While people frequently say “Make the most of each and every day”, the real world is more complex than that. We can't just throw caution to the wind, stop making our house payments, and go base jumping every day. But we can try to push aside that which is unimportant and live life as if each day is our first in a wondrous world. Do no fear the path which has shadows of uncertainty. Because when all is said and done, if we strive to be our best, an inner light will shine brightly enough to chase the shadows away.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Relaxing under a Shade Tree

The only thing sitting under a shade tree around here are my implements of destruction. The task-master says: "You're here for one reason and one reason only... to work!" Welcome to Gulag Number Nine!

Todays agenda at Gulag Number Nine:

1) Wake up at way to stinking early AM. Have the most painful cramp in the calf of my leg that I have ever experienced. Eight hours later, I still have a limp I'm hiding as a result of the darned thing. Talk about painful!

2) Go to work but skate out early around 1:30 PM. It's Memorial day weekend after all. Three days of labor in the yard are up on deck. Sweet!

3) Stop at a home improvement store on the way home to buy concrete for the path and mortar to set the stones in place for the bench foundation.

4) Make a trip to a garden nursery to buy a couple of plants. Before leaving, purchase a cubic yard of compost for landscaping.

5) Unload the cubic yard of compost as it rains on my thinning hair. Curse you thinning hair!

6) Enjoy a visit from brother Lyle and my Mom. :D Mom always has a big smile on her face!

7) Dig up two square meters of sod from the yard using that trusty ol' pick.

8) Mix up a batch of concrete to add another segment to the garden path. Yellow brick road it isn't!

9) Take a few fleeting moments to add a plant to the landscape - a very funky looking sedum.

10) Collapse in exhaustion and hope tomorrow is slow to arrive. :D

Lesson to be learned? Life never stops!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Fountain of Youth?

On occasion, an inspirational idea, be it aesthetically pleasing or an abject failure, strikes as our brains start connecting images we've seen at various points in time. Connect the dots as it were. In my case, an image of a weeping wall triggered an light-bulb moment.

A weeping wall is a water feature where a trickles of water from point sources drizzle down a concrete wall. The minerals in the water source stain the wall with the passage of time. And these stains add the artistic character which can be quite pleasing.

In my case, once seeing the weeping wall, I thought, "That would look pretty cool in the yard somewhere." But I couldn't come up with a good location so I filed the idea and went about my business.

Several days later, while roaming about in a garden center, I stumbled across a unique water fountain.

While quite interesting, the price tag was not. It's construction was something that didn't look overly complex so being the devilish sort, the first thing that came to mind was to snap a series of pictures for my nefarious purposes - imitation. After all, isn't imitation a form of compliment? :D

Still, i had no concept of where this would fit in my garden, so once again, it went into that file-13 I call a brain.

Once again, the flow of time marched forward. And as one would anticipate as they read this article, I did indeed find a location I thought would be quite fitting.

Ah, but the original fountain idea just didn't feel quite right for this. So I sat on the bench and eyeballed the wall for a bit. Different variations of the fountain buzzed through my brain. Perhaps I could bore holes in the brick and hide a pump on the inside of the planter box. Ah, but the bricks are of such a color that any mineral stains would pretty much blend in. None-the-less, the idea of hiding the pump in the flower box felt like a keeper idea. Back to the drawing board for a while longer it seems in regards to the fountain itself.

Then, while laying down the garden path, another lightbulb effect hit me. If I lined the semi-round area beneath with EDPM rubber and had fountain head hang over the top of the flower box draining into the basin, it might look pretty good. What's more, last year, I had stumbled across these in a stone yard:

My concept was to place a pair of these on top of the wall, route a copper pipe through the mouth and let it dump into the catch basin. Sadly, the dragon heads were not to be had. Someone else had designs on these critters as the dragon heads were no longer available. Looks like time to think for a while longer. Hmm, it would seem good things take time. Considering the pace of this sub-project, by the time I finally implement the idea, I'm definitely going to need the fountain of youth.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End is Near

So there I was, Friday night and me with no hot date. Same as always. Dead tired from dealing with things like an encounter with a person who has extreme cultural background differences from mine (rephrased from my earlier gnashing of teeth style statement), I decided hit the hay. Snoring in moments, the chaos stopped briefly. That is until my body decided to say, “Wake-ey Wake-ey!” at 2:00 AM in the morning. Oh the joy of insomnia.

Now around 2:00 AM, there's not much on usually except infomercials or M-TV glitz. Tonight, was a bit of an exception though as one of those wonderful cheap B-grade science fiction flicks was in progress. In this case, I was blessed with viewing “The Day the World Ended”.

Saved from watching the drivel on M-TV, I felt a bit of gratitude even if I couldn't sleep. Settling in to my already settled in state of a failed attempt at sleeping, I watched the campy acting. Ah, some good ol' fashioned Corman goodness. One thing can be said about films of this era, not only were they filmed in black and white, but the portrayal of good and evil mirrored the sharp delineation of light. No muddy gray evil-good guys or charcoal stained good-nasty women – no sir! The villains are easy to spot. And not only that, but the good guys triumph to boot. Sweet Sugar-Ray Leonard... it's a TKO!

While B-grade films like this might not hold up to the standards one expects from films today, it still has net value. And there's something to be said about black and white film. The artistic feel of it is simply awesome. So while I'm not really going to cover the content of the film, I'll say this: I had a bit of fun watching the film even if the acting was stiffer than an over starched shirt. Thank you Roger Corman – you made insomnia a bit more tolerable.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Liberty and Justice for All?

Indulge me for a moment as I tell a tale of two different people I've encountered during my past. While neither were, are, or likely ever will make history, they had a lasting impact on my life. Both shared something in common, something which I am compelled to discuss. Let's start with the latter encounter, a district attorney involved with trying cases in the downtown Seattle municipal court. A little background is necessary to help paint the picture.

Like most citizens, I've been called in for jury duty. During my tour of potential jury duty, I spent the majority of my time in the waiting area until late on the afternoon on my final day. Being interviewed as a possible juror on a trial of a suspect accused of stealing a pair of shoes from a department store, I listened to the opposing attorneys probe the candidate jurors with questions. When my turn arrived, a question was posed by the prosecuting attorney about whether I would believe the word of a police officer over that of a citizen. I answered in my own way, but was silenced before I could complete my response. None-the-less, the entire court room understood my stance. During the final selection process, I was one of the first to be dismissed.

Now, let's move backwards in time, to another encounter I had with a schoolmate during my young adult years. Early one morning, a number of my classmates and I congregated in the school cafeteria for coffee. One member of the group made a statement about the legal system and punishments. He proclaimed his opinion clearly and without hesitation. I shall paraphrase his statement to communicate the point:

“Anyone who commits a crime against a government official or civil servant must be dealt with in the most severe possible manner above and beyond the justice which is administered for a common citizen. The criminal must be made an example of.”

While I attempted to argue the issue, it was clear my opinions were not welcomed by the group as a whole. My comments were met with satirical jeers and rude comments by the majority of the circle.

One might ask, what do these two different scenarios have in common. I will use words from one of the most influential documents it the history of United States to point out my anger, hostility, and shear frustration with people like these two people I had the displeasure of encountering:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...”

These incredibly deep words speak volumes. As an American citizen, I recognize not only what the forefathers of this nation intended, but I also fully understand the sacrifices made by people like my father who endured inconceivable hardships during conflicts like World War II to ensure the freedom for people like myself. Way to go Dad! You're a bigger man than I will ever be. But the universe loves a balance. For all that is good, there is that which evokes feelings of intense anger in my heart. While the district attorney I mentioned might very well claim, “I'm merely working within the system”, I would be remiss if I didn't point out the trial of John Demjanjuk. I'll leave it to the reader to draw conclusions here. As for my prior schoolmate, I have no question about his lack of understanding in regards to the Constitution of the United States. Our country was built upon the concept that no man or woman is above another. I'll close by saying this: Freedom, appreciate it, support it, and give honor to all those who sacrificed to maintain it. Fight ignorance to the very end!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Love is in the Air - Take Two

Dang, every single place I look there are symbolic images :D

There's something in the air alrighty... this time it's spores. :))

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Love is in the Air

My heart, it pounds,
my breath is short.

My eyes, they weep.
Are these tears of joy?

Oh certainly it must be love.
No, wait... it's only pollen.