Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Day #201 (more or less) Whistles ... April Fool's Day + 22


  • national IT in Construction project
    • conference call re
    • solicited participation from Twin Cities companies
    • created LinkedIn group
    • registered Blogger name 
  • reviewed Skillport certificiation options
  • contacted LHH consultant...set date
  •  professional writing
    • multiple LinkedIn posts and commentary
    • Inc. Magazine article commentary


...more or less 4:00 AM...

About 4:00 this morning the nearby rumbling of diesel locomotives pulling long freight, the tanker cars from the North Dakota Bakken oil fields shortened my sleep. That was not all bad since I was in the midst of some sort of dream
where an intruder was in the house and I could not get free of my L.L Bean flannel sheets. Over the course of more than an hour the trains continued. In the daylight hours there are at least five trains per day, westbound, often 100+ tankers. Having grown up about 100 feet from the Rock Island tracks where the ever-passing freight trains and Rock Island Rocket passenger trains defined the boundaries of my childhood backyard playground and safety zone, I like the sounds, the rumbles, the track noise and the long and short of warning train whistles, and the awareness framed by an empty track, of something coming.

It's almost six. I'm going back to bed until the next series of whistles. Later today I'll undoubtedly be waiting on Victoria or Lexington, watching a passing freight, reading the manufacturer's and maintenance shop dates on the cars, interpreting the artwork and messages of far-away taggers, enjoying the sights and sounds, a delay for some, a show for me.

...more or less 3:33 PM...

Here's the Lexington Avenue prediction.


...4:55 PM...

This is on Snelling, 1/2 mile west of Lexington.  The car carriers were followed by tankers.



...and so it prediction of waiting on Lexington and Victoria was correct...Snelling was a bonus

 ...6:10 PM...this is a never-ending train day...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day #197 - What's on your mind? - April Fool's Day + 19

What's on your mind?

Facebook is becoming increasingly annoying with all the ads, promos and requests for this and that that I'm not really interested in, but I guess they do have to turn it into a money producing environment at some time.

This has been another long week, manifested in challenges to body, mind and soul.

A few days ago my Facebook post was the following:  "The floating carcasses from this winter's fish kill have formed the image of a large rabbit (as seen from the air) at the north end of the lake. How timely is that?"  My initial draft suggested that the floating carcasses looked like Jesus on the cross.  We all see the work of God (whatever your belief is) in many ways, but certainly someone would be offended.  I made this up.  What happens now if I actually do see Jesus in the windblown spring thaw?  No one reads this, so who, who would be offended?

Regardless of one's spirituality and belief index, inclination or lack thereof, this time of the year, if no other, is an opportunity to rejoice in rebirth, hope and forgiveness.  In that reflection 'rejoice' perhaps is the challenge, the charge.   I'm leaving further comments until after review of the following:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Day #195 -- "I got plenty of nothing." --April Fool's Day + 17

What's you plan...

My standard response over the past couple of months when asked about my plans has been "I'm working on that."  Frankly, that's become an increasingly lame and shallow response.  Certainly I've been working on a couple of writing projects but have not submitted anything for publication or review.  I repeat...that is lame.

Diligence is in order.

Plenty of nothing...

My better half referred to me the other day as someone with a little bit of free time on their hands, more or less.  That caught me off guard because I've been really busy.  March 15th through April 13th might have been deceptive because I was working on accounting/taxes full time, certainly with many more hours during that period than a FT position.  At the conclusion of that month, the point of sending off tax returns to the appropriate treasury offices I commented that I could work part time for any tax service next year.  A couple of months in the dead of a MN winter would be an appropriate time.  I'll check and see if there is any money in it.

Folk Art Projects...

Quite a bit of work is "in process" but in creative activities it is about ideas, techniques and seat time but it's
also about bringing closure.  The rooster standing over the ear of corn is great but far more salable with the envisioned hen on a nest.

Diligence is in order.

Scheduling Issues...

I like to write when it is quiet...with some music in the background.   There is plenty of quiet here in the morning, but now it's 1:00 AM and this is working pretty well.

I like to work on art projects "up north."  Currently that is about 25% of the time I'd like to commit.

Small business.  I'm totally sucked into the whirlpool.  It's a sea anchor...and another good opportunity.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day #191, more or less...April Fool's Day + 13

Major Distraction Tonight For Writing...

Despite a short break "up north" for some quiet writing/creative time I've made the mistake of accompanying those tasks at the moment with a really good AC/DC tribute bank on the Satellite TV.  Bonfire is causing me to act a bit like...I say this AC/DC concert attendee.

April 15th...

Forty-seven years of filing taxes is a challenge.  Thinking back to my first return in 1966 when I worked two jobs (Dairy Queen & Berglund's Sporting Goods) it seemed complex to complete the forms, not making any mistakes and attaching the W-2s.  Thinking back, now I believe that you completed two forms, one for yourself.  Once again hard to believe but that was before convenience copiers, actually those were the days of mimeograph machines and ditto masters.

This year was the most complex of all of them in part because I also did a year's worth of business accounting, federal and state business filing and federal and state personal filing.  In my quest to be something different I think I'm going to get a temp job doing taxes next year since I probably have broader knowledge that most twenty-somethings who do that.  

The Depth of Commitment...

After several weeks of tax stuff I found that I was staying up too late, waking up early with thoughts of something I missed or had to check out (curses to TurboxTax for the 1099-B Box E form unavailability).  Mornings seemed to demand caffeine despite my attempts to cut back.

Is 5% good?  What if 5% honesty, 5% sincerity or 5% commitment were the mainstays of our individual character.  That would be pretty lame.  Wide receivers or NBA forwards operating at 5% would soon be seeking other employment or venues.  

Defining goals and making concrete plans to get there or at least make progress requires much more than a 5% effort.  Obviously I'd not planned on April Fool's Day being the mid-point of a year-long transition.  I'd not thought of it.  Had I thought of it it would have been a good benchmark.  Figure out your new life by April Fool's Day.  I'm going to give myself until the middle of May or so to have a concrete plan.  Taxes, teeth and miscellaneous have been important prerequisites.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day #185, more or less A.K.A. April Fool's Day +7

Maybe A Coat Day, Maybe Not...

The snow is disappearing but now the eight to ten feet of frost is oozing up like an overflowing pot of boiling pasta.  One wishes it would stop but the only way to make that happen is to commit to a mess.

While in the sun the coat came off but it was back on when the wind blew or while on the non-sunny side of anything, including big leafless trees.  Daylight remained at 8 PM but that needed a coat.

Overbooked on WED...

Small business responsibilities dominate the majority of the day tomorrow but am spending the evening with a potential consulting client

Tax Time Is Winding Down...

Despite a few quirks I am an advocate of TurboTax Business and personal software products.  Doing your own work allows you to be creative about the past and the future.  Those avoiding this part of business are missing out.  It's much like having someone else think creatively for you or asking them to read a book of interest (to you) and asking them to re-cap it for you.

I should be done by SAT PM.  Whoo hoo.

LHH & My Dentist...

The dental office called.  Obviously they are working the insurance side of this and want to get started that tooth #20 crown.  Crown is probably a regal-sounding name for something that eliminates tooth substance and commits you to something that will, at best, last 15 years.  New jobs and most jobs these days last about three years.  At 63 I'd like a job for exactly three years.  Apparently I am of attitude and chronological age that puts me at a perfect spot.  I'll call the LHH guy next week.  I've been pondering the kind of job I want and ...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Day 184, more or less & April Fool's Day +6

Traveling West Towards Home

Heading west from Chicago in I90 was just as interesting as the inbound trip.  Freeways speeds were about 85 in 55MPH zones and about 75 in 45MPH zones.  The traffic was light but one certainly became a slow-moving hazard and target at anything close to the speed limit.  One does have to travel with the faster crowd to avoid being overrun.  Picking your peers both challenge and support you.  You don't become competent driving at 85 anywhere if you are at the posted limit and you don't create well if you only copy.


Everything west of Rockford on US 20 is big agriculture, exclusively corn.  Not a fence line or head of livestock was to be seen.  The barns were gone or collapsing and the shortage of machine sheds and outside storage of equipment identified this as an area of big, big fields and contract planting and harvesting.  In another web presence I follow a guy who writes under the moniker of Independently Speaking.  He, too, was this kind of farmer, and now, renting out his land, does not consider this farming at all but simply a step in the process of agriculture defined by corn for feed lot beef and high fructose corn sugar; it has little to do with feeding the world.

Political History

Yesterday I passed through Freeport, Illinois, which became the capital of Stephenson County in 1838.  The second Lincoln Douglas debate occurred here in 1858.  Stephen Douglas won the debate and retained his Senate seat.  One of his answers on slavery became known as the Freeport Heresy and alienated the South splitting the Democratic Party and leading to Lincoln's election to the presidency in 1860.

Personal Activity

Working the craft.

Day 182, more or less / April Fool's Day +4

The big deals in life usually occur pretty close to home.  Things like "I woke up thinking about this" or "I had this idea in the shower" or "It was right there in front of me."  No one ever says "I had this great idea when I was in Hawaii" or "I wrote this wonderful poem/article/short story/book outline while we were in Paris...or at at major league sporting event or an Oscar winning/nominated film."

I think bad things happen like good things.  Sometimes it's something you've worked at, like the failure or success of a child because you are a bad or good parent.  Sometimes it's fate...something fell out of the sky and you happened to be at the connecting point.  Today I drove about 500 miles and the only near death experience I had was about two miles from home.  In the far past I wrote and edited "Minnesota Crash Facts" for the State Department of Public Health.  The experience today bears out the facts I wrote about 35 years ago.

A Second Perspective on Today's Drive
The following is my Facebook post summarizing the day's drive:

Driving safely to Chicago translates into 69 in a 65 zone to Madison, 75 in a 65 zone from Madison to Milwaukee and 80 or so in the 55~65 zone from Milwaukee to Chicago. The patrol seems focused on stopping Audi's, Mercdes's and BMW's traveling at 85+.

A Third Perspective on Today's Drive

the start...

the end...

Professional Work...
While sitting still or driving at 4MPH on I94 I had a productive conference call with a collaborator regarding IT knowledge sharing.  It's good and bad that he has taken a job but we've agreed our concept merits pursuit.

Still trying to work a collaborative effort w/ a former lean process improvement vendor, as well.

General Thought...
I need to write every day.  At the moment I'm sitting where my son wrote his PhD.  Perhaps he's left some writing Karma in the space.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day #180, more or less / April Fools +2

If you are going to fall on your face when abandoning your commitments it's probably a good idea to make it a major face-plant.  A person close to this experience said writing every day would be a challenge.  My every day has a lot of things that I do without failure...waking up at 3 or 4 AM and pondering what 7 AM will be like....eating...thinking this particular day will be different...spending a bit more time thinking about the things I'd like to do or need to do than I do on the things I'm actually doing...getting in a rut rather than out of one, etc., etc., etc.

Excuse #1

Dental work should not really be an excuse.  My regular dentist poked and prodded, asked if this hurt or if anything bothered me ( I mentioned the impending invasion of the Crimean peninsula by Russia) or if I felt this -100F cold thing she was pounding on my teeth.  Given my lack of response she said I had a big molar with resorption near the jaw line.  You can look it up if you want.  Not wanting to part with that tooth that had been with me for a long time I tested my dental insurance plan and got a 2nd and 3rd opinion and then I emailed xrays to two children of friends who were in dental school.  Apparently the sanctity of the jaw bone is big deal.  No one knows what resorption is caused by of if it spreads, but the tooth had to go and I guess I'll consider an out-of-pocket implant at some point.

Resorption is very common in cats.

This excuse covered at least two weeks of the past month.

Excuse #2

 Winter has as firm a grip on my life as it ever has.  The Norwegian 50% of me is resigned to life in a forever Zone 3, where nothing thaws, we eat caribou all the time and summer is a very brief period of thawing muskeg and caribou and dogsled poop.. 

It's APR 3 and we're getting 10-12" on top of a log of other snow that has not melted.  My better half just told me to go out and shovel so that I could get out tomorrow.  Why do I want to go out?

The spring of 2013 included some good snowfalls in May and I found this April Fool's day snow of 2009.  It's all expected.

The weather is not a good excuse.

Excuse #3

I've been working on writing my book(s).  This is a lie.  Other than a few Facebook and Twitter qwips I've been a creative writing slug.

Excuse #4

It's good to set goals.  I had about ten or fifteen goals.  Not reaching all of them is not a failure.  Even one of fifteen is good.  I've done that.

Excuse #5

Ten thirty-seven PM is not a good time to write.  My excuses are getting more lame and sentences shorter.  Tomorrow I will write (since I'm not shoveling any more this winter).