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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Before I settled on a Computer Science major,  I tried mechanical engineering for a while.

(editor’s note: I dropped out of high school my senior year, got my GED, and finished my first quarter of classes at John C Calhoun Community College before my senior class graduated. I figured I was ahead of the curve.

It took me thirteen years, five majors, and three wives to get a Bachelor’s degree. I was not ahead of the curve – I missed the curve and hit the ditch.)

In my Materials Science class, I recall that they said that stress was the load placed on a material, and strain was the deformation of the material under stress. Materials can be classified by how much strain happens over how much stress – a stress/strain graph:

stressoverstrain

I’m sick today. I’ve been hit with a cold that has knocked me out.

In discussing this w/my triathlon training group today, I found myself typing the following post:

Interesting; this last eight months are probably off the charts, stress-wise; Mom dying, hearing from my boss that I needed to find another job, putting the house in Phoenix up for sale, the job search, staging the house,  losing my job the day that the house sold, getting packed up and out of the house in about ten days, decided which offer to take, moving ourselves to Salt Lake, getting here and buying a house the first day, then two weeks on Isla Mujeres which should have been restful but we did five scuba dives and I wrecked the motor scooter (and had to get inside and outside stitches), starting the new job while living in a friend’s guest room, going to Pleasanton for five weeks of brain-melting tech training, while there starting triathlon training, coming back to Salt Lake to find out that the brain-melting was by no means over and picking up my training volume a lot.

Wow. Reading that, I’m surprised that I’m still alive – getting sick should be expected.  And on top of all that, ski season started – what, have days off when I’m not skiing? Are you crazy?

Given my spiritual disciplines, I’m probably better equipped to deal with this sort of stuff than most folks – there’s the old story about the priest in St. Louis who had helped the local drunks start the first AA group in that city. On the day Pearl Harbor got hit, Father Ed Dowling ran into one of the newly sober drunks, and was surprised to find him sober, level-heading and talking more about AA than about Pearl Harbor.

When Father Ed asked him how he could roll with a punch like that, the AA said “Well, Father, we drunks have already had our own personal Pearl Harbors, so this one doesn’t shake us up that much.”

However, I have a suspicion that being able to roll with punches so easily also means that I get myself into punchy situations with less caution, because I am not that worried about them (most of them – job stuff has always freaked me out). The guy at the gym who can bench press 300 lbs doesn’t say “I’ll just do 250, and keep things easy” – no, he keeps trying to bench 305.

But this year, I may have overdone it – as though the above weightlifter tried to bench 350 and found himself pinned under the bar, with it squeezing the air out of his lungs, keeping him from calling for help.

This leaves me thinking that I should take it easy for a while. But how would I do that? Can’t quit work – Ethel likes eating and paying the bills. Can’t stop triathlon training – there’s a Half Ironman in four months. Can’t stop skiing – that wouldn’t make any sense; to pay a Park City mortgage for a New Jersey lifestyle would be just plain dumb.

And I am not about to cut back on meetings – heck, I probably need MORE meetings under these conditions.

So the only possibility is – I have to kill Lucy, the World’s Dumbest Cocker Spaniel.

Okay, maybe that won’t reduce my stress levels much. But it’s worth a try.

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Here’s our dining room table, where we had our Christmas dinner last night:

diningtableEthel made her first-ever Prime Rib for our dinner, and it was bodacious. (Ethel would never, ever eat meat cooked less than medium well until she had Prime Rib at the Chop House at the Omni in Tucson on our 25th anniversary. This has opened up many culinary options around the Puckett house : )

After the meal, while we were cleaning up, I finished slicing the rest of the Prime Rib roast on a platter on the dinner table; I made a booboo, and splattered Prime Juice and Prime Goo over an area about a foot square on the table’s surface.

I picked up Lucy, the World’s Dumbest Cocker Spaniel, and set her on top of the table so that she could lick the table clean (the poor pooch was sitting there watching us eat prime rib while she got nothing; it was the least that I could do).

Ethel then made an observation – “Yep! We’re rednecks!” : )

Recently, I deleted my Facebook account again, this time over the Duck Dynasty brouhaha. Now, I don’t know a Duck Dynasty from a Duck Dodgers, but I do know that I got tired very quickly of the name-calling that was going on. One dear friend of mine said that she hadn’t seen the show, but that she understood that it was about some “six fingered rednecks”.

I”m a southern white (mostly) male. I don’t mind being called a redneck, but I have to admit that the “six-fingered” business left me feeling sorta icky-poo, with its connotations of inbreeding (or even incest? I can’t tell just how prejudiced and bigoted my liberal friends are, exactly : )

…I just checked on Wikipedia, and it seems that

Redneck is a derogatory slang term used in reference to poor, uneducated white farmers, especially from the Southern United States.[1][2] It is similar in meaning to cracker (especially regarding Georgia and Florida), hillbilly (especially regarding Appalachia and the Ozarks),[3] and white trash (but without the last term’s suggestions of immorality).[4][5][6]

By the 2000s, the term had expanded in meaning to refer to bigoted, loutish reactionaries who are opposed to modern ways,[7] and has often been used to attack white Southern conservatives. The term is used broadly to degrade working class and rural whites that are perceived by urban progressives to be insufficiently liberal.[8] At the same time, some Southern whites have reclaimed the word, using it with pride and defiance as a self-identifier.[9]

Well, I reckon that there is no question that I am a redneck.  I am certain that I am “insufficiently liberal” : ) …I don’t have six fingers, but I must admit to many mental deformities that must be of genetic origins, as my momma really tried to raise me right : )

….So I bailed on Facebook, and created a new FB account, one that can’t be found by my email address or other such info. The last time I got a new FB account, I immediately got two hundred friend requests, and it seems that most of those “friends” want to continually tell me how indignant I should be because of some current event, and how anybody who believes X or voted for Y or watches Z is an idiot or worse.

This always makes me cringe, because the (no doubt intelligent – very intelligent, since everybody else is stupid) authors of these posts don’t seem to understand that at least 40% of their readers fall into the demographics that they are insulting – I say that they “don’t seem” to understand that because I have to admit to the possibility that, no, they are quite well aware of how many people they might be offending, and that is there very intention in doing the posting.

(Sometimes it seems like folks in a certain mindset can’t simply have opinions of their own – those opinions have to exist in opposition to somebody else’s opinions, to keep ’em propped up. I have days like that, myself)

If you are an actual friend of mine, and want to “friend” me, but aren’t interested in telling me how stupid I am or my friends or family are, then ping me at my jimp AT fatcharliesdiary dot com email address.

That is, if you don’t mind hanging out with a redneck : )

UPDATE: Well, how about that – I realized this morning, during my quiet time, that I was talking bad about the folks who I see as talking bad about others. Ain’t that the way it goes, sometimes?

“If you spot it, you got it
And if is makes you mad, you got it bad”

Truth be told, the deficiency is mine- other folks can get away with that sort of argument, without paying any sort of penalty, but – analogous to booze – I abused that “privilege” to the point that such behavior has an immediate backlash on me.

So let me say it a different way – their behavior is not my problem. My inability to keep from reacting poorly is my problem. 

I do not know what’s best. I don’t know what God wants for anybody. I don’t know what the original framers of the Constitution intended or what Jefferson meant when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. I don’t know which side is right or which is wrong, and I don’t hold the moral high ground. I’m a DRUNK, for Pete’s sake.

I wouldn’t listen to somebody like me. Why should I expect anybody else to do so? : )

This morning, a link to a Henry Higgins quiz was making the rounds.

I call it a “Henry Higgins” quiz because, in the opening scene of My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins was telling people where they were from based on listening to them talk.

It seems that I am from the Southeast.

mydialectmap

The redder the area, the more that area corresponds to my speech patterns. Contrariwise, the bluer, the less correlation exists between the way them there folks talk and the way I talk. (for instance, the folks in Minneapolis or Boston are least likely to say “them there folks”).

Some confusions – for one thing, what I call a carbonated beveraged is a “soda pop”; of course, as an Alabamian, all such drinks are “Coke” (“What kind of coke do you want?”   “Gimme a Dr. Pepper”) but I spent some time in the Army; I learned to say “soda” and “pop”, and eventually they merged into a single term. But “soda pop” was not one of the choices I was presented with, so I said “other”.

And when I am speaking to more than one person, I will usually say “all y’all”, but that wasn’t a choice either – so I settled for “y’all”.

Interesting diversion here – I just used the word “garrulous” in a chat session, and a co-worker told me that I have quite the fancy vocabulary, especially for a southern man. I take no offense, as none was intended, but whence comes the notion that we Southerners are stupid?

Well, there’s nothing to be done about that, I reckon. At least, nothing that I want to do : )

…which is, indeed, a song by the Electric Light Orchestra, but is also a simple statement – that dang mincing music from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker seems to have taken up permanent residence in my frontal lobes.

nucrackingHere are Ethel and I with friends (who will remain anonymous, because I don’t have permission to name them publicly, and if you are photographed standing in front of a giant nutcracker, you might be just a bit shy about having it known all over the Internet) at the Capital Theater in downtown Salt Lick Silly, Oootah, after the ballet last Friday night.

I went to the Nutcracker because I’d never been to a ballet before, plain and simple. I figured that it would be interesting for a few minutes, and that then I might get in a nice nap in a darkened theater. We went to an opera ten years or so ago at this same theater, and that was my experience of La Boheme – okay, this is different. That’s interesting. Is it bedtime yet?

But, no, this ballet kept my interest the whole time.

How can people DO the things that these dancers were doing? And – perhaps more amazing – how can somebody stage something like that? I know how to type lyrics; I can read music with difficulty. But how does one record, in a meaningful way, choreography, such that somebody later on could read it and then direct it?

Another thing that got my attention was the music; of course, everybody knows The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, that mincing, ching-ching-ching bit that sounds like it is a duet between a xylophone and an oboe. But what surprised me was how many of the tunes that I hear every holiday season are excerpts from the Nutcracker’s score.

It was delightful. I’d even see it again – but not right away : )

So I’ve heard from a friend and a wife that I should update this blog.

Well, my first quick answer was that I got tired of talking to myself. Of course, that’s not true – I do it all the time. But at least when I’m muttering to myself, I don’t have to type. And I never worry about spelling or punctuation.

But my second answer is simple – there’s no good news.

I’m working from home today, here in the Office of Ouch.

homeofficeThings here at the new abode are a bit strained. We haven’t settled in yet; there are still boxes everywhere. The paint has made it through the first floor and to the stairwell, but bogged down shy of the downstairs bath and going up the stairs.

We’re busy. We are both commuting to the office every day, and we’re not used to that; Ethel hasn’t commuted in eight years, and I’ve only been working in the office two days a week, at most, for the last four years.

I’m training for that *&^%$#@! Half Ironman, which takes some time and energy. And ski season has started; it’s under way enough to give us plenty to ski (and use up valuable energy) but there’s not enough snow yet for there to be really good skiing.

Silas is in Oregon, and seems to be doing well, but we missed him at Thanksgiving. And now Floyd and family are moving – from Arizona back to the Southeast. This is unsettling, to say the least.

So things in my home and family life are not settling down.

And then there’s the office.

I’ve been home from California for almost two months.

While I was in class, everything was fine – sure, it was mind-bending material, and sometimes it frustrated me, but I knew – because I heard it from my instructors and from my colleagues – that I was ahead of the curve. One instructor went so far as to tell me that I was picking it up faster than anyone else, and that I would be a star when I got back to my group.

Well, I’m back in my group – been there two months. And I’m no star. In fact, after two months, I am very, very discouraged; I’m getting some work done, but not nearly as much as I would like, and a lot of that work is getting kicked back because of bugs. The process here is more complex than any I’ve been exposed to before; it is very rich and powerful, but that also means “danged hard to learn and keep straight”.

And I have to admit it, out loud: I’m getting the feeling that those around me are getting tired of my slowness. They aren’t saying this; in fact, they are saying that it’s NOT the case.

I should trust what folks say, sure. But, at some point, I have to admit that communication takes place on many levels, and peoples’ words often carry what they WANT to believe, but their body language and voice inflection tend to indicate what they DO believe. And I have ignored those cues before, to my eventual dismay and disappointment.

So I don’t want to talk about this stuff. Some of the above issues have the potential to work themselves out; many of them will benefit more from benign neglect (i.e. “let go and let God”) so it doesn’t do to discuss them or focus on them. I’d rather practice active denial, and it’s difficult to do that while admitting to the existence of the issues.

And some of the issues – such as the kids’ absence – are simply things to which we will have to become accustomed. We are not about to move to Alabama or Oregon – heck, how, exactly, would we decide which place to move to, if we were to do such silliness? Besides, we no longer fit in Alabama, and we would NEVER fit in in Oregon.

And some of the stuff – like the job – are things I don’t want to say out loud, because “diseases desperate grown, by desperate appliance are relieved, or not at all” (I *think* that that’s the Bard, but I may have misquoted). And I don’t want to think about just how desperate those appliances might be.

So I get to the office this morning, and I see Auburn stickers all over my cube:

stickers

They also removed the Bama shirt and hat from the skeleton, and replaced the shirt with an Auburn  jersey.

As it happens, today is the first real snow event of the season; thus, I’m the only one who made it in to work, for the rest of ’em stayed home. (No, I don’t know why I’m the only one in the office. I drove from Park City in the snow, in a BMW Z3 with snow tires; if I can get here, ANYBODY can get here : )

So there’s nobody to tease me about the AU stickers; there’s also nobody to whom I can explain that, no, really, that’s all right – if Alabama can’t win it all, then I hope that Little Brother can.

Of course, for Auburn to get into the big game, two things must happen:

1) Either FSU or tOSU has to lose their conference championship game (tOSU losing wouldn’t surprise me; there isn’t anybody in the ACC, though, that can hang with FSU)

2) Auburn has to beat Missouri in the SECCG.

Now, given the Georgia game, and the Alabama game, currently I’d say that Auburn is playing with house money, and rolling 7s every time. EITHER of those games would be the “wow what a lucky way to finish a game” scenario; both in sequence is Just. Plain. Crazy.

So maybe Auburn is currently incredibly lucky – or, maybe, Auburn has already used up the last decade’s (and maybe the NEXT decade’s) worth of luck.

Oh, well. If Auburn can’t win, then I hope that FSU or tOSU loses, and Missouri can play for the Natty. SEC, y’all!