Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Grain of Sand

I had a conversation today that changed my entire outlook on my life. Call it not wanting to jinx it, but I'd rather wait a while before putting everything down on paper. I need to give it time to settle in my mind. Could this be Plan B to the lunch conversation with my boss?

The best part about the whole thing is that it was a completely random conversation about a paper weight on a coworker's desk. It had nothing to do with life-altering realizations or deep philosophical topics.

There may be something to this after all.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On Second Thought

Looking back over the choices I've made over the last few years I've discovered that I'm a Plan B kind of person. It's not that my initial plans always suck, but my second ideas tend to be much better (at least in my mind) and are generally the ones I end up going with. And I don't mean Plan B as in a backup plan or the very next thought I have after the initial idea strikes me. It's more along these lines:
  • I decide on a course of action
  • I start putting it into motion
  • I discover a different way to achieve the same (or almost the same) goal, or find a completely different idea along the way
  • I abandon the first idea and go with the new one.
Almost 8 years ago I had the chance to essentially start my life over again. I won't go into the details but I found myself in the position to change location, start on a new career path, and get myself moving in a different direction. The initial plan was to move to Raleigh, find a job, and get myself back into NC State and complete a degree program. In the beginning everything was going according to schedule. I'd managed to make it to Raleigh and start hunting for an apartment and searching through the Want Ads for a job. But none of it "felt" right. I was back in Raleigh; I was looking in all the right places for apartments; I had gone by State and was stoked to get back into school; yet I felt like none of it was what I should be doing.

I was staying with my sister in Greenville and driving to Raleigh every day checking into things. I'd done this all week and hadn't found anything I wanted to settle with, so I decided to stop in and visit some old friends who had moved back to Raleigh a few years before. And over the course of one evening there I'd completely changed my direction. Instead of Raleigh, I was now moving to Asheville. The other parts of the original plan were still in place in some fashion, but the location had changed. And it all felt right. Welcome to Plan B.

Flash forward seven and a half years and I'm still in Asheville. I know I'm a completely different person than I would have been if I'd kept going the other way. I would have had a different job and different friends, and would have had vastly different experiences. But I chose to come here and have all of those experiences in Asheville instead and I don't regret a second of it. February of next year will be the 8-year anniversary of the move here and will be a milestone of sorts for me. I will have spent more time here than any other place I've ever lived. Even counting childhood. There's something about Asheville and the North Carolina Mountains that draws me in and makes me want to stay. Plan B is working out pretty well.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Had a pretty busy day yesterday. Work was fairly steady all day and I did some running around afterwards that put it around 7:00 before I got home last night. Not late by normal standards but for us hermits that might as well have been midnight. It's good for me though and helps break up my afternoon routine during the week.

When I did get home I decided not to turn on the computer. At all. If getting home at 7:00 was enough to disrupt my schedule, having no internet crashed my entire world. I know I'm addicted to being online, but you never really know how strong an Addiction is until you go cold turkey. I found myself having the same kinds of thoughts and anxieties as I did when I quit smoking cigarettes. Granted they were nowhere near as intense as the nicotine jitters, but it was a little disturbing to have them nonetheless.

It was pretty interesting once I realized what was going on though. The Addicted part of my mind kept trying to trick me into breaking...surely I could just log in long enough to check my email and nothing else, or I could come here and blog for a few minutes and then walk away, and the patented stand-by argument I use for everything: why am I doing this today; try this cold turkey thing tomorrow instead. I knew how to shut that part of the Addiction down since I've gone through it with nicotine but it was still a persistent little presence that kept popping into my head all evening.

Instead, I watched TV all night. Not much of an improvement since I basically replaced a computer screen with a television screen but it's at least a step in the right direction. I know I'm not going to be able to completely get away from being online (and I wasn't trying to by disconnecting last night) but I've got to learn to take it in smaller doses and stop letting it be where I spend the majority of my time. If I really want to re-join society and take command of my life I've got to control this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I got nothing this evening. It's been a pretty ordinary day without much excitement. Work was busy so it kept me occupied and made the day pass relatively quickly. And the after work routine has been run of the mill too. All in all a fairly bland day. No complaints though, even though nothing exciting happened it was still a very pleasant day.

Weather today (9/18/07):
Chilly morning in the lower 50s followed by a crisp afternoon in the mid 70s; slight breeze throughout the day. A bit of haze is starting to creep into the air obscuring some of the more distant peaks but overall a very clear day.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Of Raccoons & Fast Food

I had my first sighting of a live raccoon "in the wild" this afternoon. I was over at the Smith's pet sitting and had stepped out into their back yard, heard this weird whining/grunting kind of sound, and saw this guy. He climbed up the tree as soon as he saw me and stayed there long enough for me to run grab the camera and snap a shot. I was a little concerned about him since I'd had a nice conversation with the Smiths before they left on vacation about rabid animals and a black bear that's hanging around nearby. Rocky scampered down the tree and ran off pretty quickly after he posed for the picture though so I don't think he was rabid. Still, a close call...I almost died.

A few days ago I was sitting in the drive-thru of Hardee's staring at the interstate exit nearby, and had a flashback of sorts to childhood. Back in the 80's, we used to drive through this area of the state on our way to my grandparents' house in Alabama and would often use this exit as a pit stop on our way to, and back from their place. There's a McDonald's, Shoney's, and a Waffle House here, along with several gas stations, so it's a good place to stop on your way through the mountains. Little did I know that I'd be living off this very exit 20 odd years later, but that's a topic for another time.

I remembered sitting at one of the places we'd stopped at on a trip through as a kid, and staring at the interstate like I was doing now and having the same thoughts. I watched all the cars zipping by, noticed the people around at the restaurant and the exit, and wondered about who all these people around me were. I thought about the thousands of decisions and circumstances that had to occur in all of our lives to bring us together at this one particular point on the road at this instant in time. For a few brief moments all of our lives were connected to this one tiny little spot in the world. It made me realize how intricate life is and how all of us are connected to each other in some fashion, even if it's only for a few seconds as we pass each other on the road heading in opposite directions. It doesn't matter who we are, where we're heading, or what we're doing at the time; our lives all touch each other in some way.

Then I took my Hot Ham 'n Cheese combo (with a coke) and went home.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Last Call

What a beautiful weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect, 50s-70s with a nice cool breeze blowing pretty much all day and night. The all-day rain we had on Friday and the lower temps made Saturday gorgeous. With all the windows open it made for great sleeping weather. Twas 61 degrees this morning inside the apartment and it felt fantastic. I'm hoping this kind of weather holds and it doesn't get hot again this year. I'm ready to break out the blankets and quilts and settle in for Fall and a nice, snowy Winter.

It was a friend's birthday on Friday and we were planning on going out for a bit to celebrate, but I pulled my usual routine and chickened out. She called me back on Saturday and talked me into going though, so I spent the night out on the town. It's been a very long time since I shut a place down for the evening and left as they were turning out the lights, but I had a great time. She's already talking about heading back this coming weekend, and I might just have to take her up on it. I've got to get over myself and start going out into public and socializing more often. I don't particularly want to do it until 3am every time I go out though.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

This Again?

Had lunch with my boss today. We talked about a couple of new people that have been recently hired and are starting work next week. We also talked about me going back to school and getting an engineering degree so I could eventually get my PE license and become a Professional Engineer. I've been getting the impression from him lately that he wants me to do it and today pretty much confirmed that. Thing is, I don't know that I want to. I mean, I'd love to get me engineering degree since I never finished it the first time around, but I don't know that that's what I want to do. I know I've got to do something to change things around or I'm going to be stuck in mindless jobs for the next 25 years. At the very least, this has given me something to think about and give consideration to again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Tired today, and not exactly feeling too well. I only got about 3 hours of sleep last night, and most of that happened after 2:30am. No real reason why I was up so late, I just wasn't sleepy enough to fall asleep before then.

Of course it made for a very bad morning when I got up, so I called in and took a day off. I missed my Lunch-n-Learn today, but hopefully someone got a brochure or toook notes on it and I can catch up on it tomorrow. If I'd gone in and had to sit through that presentation for an hour at lunchtime I probably would have nodded off anyway. Spent the day napping and watching several episodes of "Rescue Me" that I picked up through NetFlix. It's a pretty good show; I can see where all the hype for it comes from. I didn't watch it when it first premiered on FX, and if I had I doubt I would have kept up with the show. I had to watch the first 3 episodes before I got a good feel for the show and got invested in some of the characters. After the first 8, I'm hooked and will be using it as my NetFlix filler for the next month or so as I work my way through all the seasons.

I've been using shows like that from NetFlix for a while now as a big part of my TV watching through the week; especially in the summer when nothing's on. So far I've made it through all of the seasons of "Deadwood", "Weeds", "Oz", "Queer as Folk", and "Carnivale". Once I get through with "Rescue Me" I may check out "The Shield". Of course now that the Fall TV Season is about to kick off I'll have more to see during the week so my NetFlix will taper off to just weekend viewing.

TV and the Internet as hobbies and time wasters...welcome to the future.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Well the universe paid me back for yesterday's unexpected quickness. Today was almost unbearably slow. Clock-watching, surfing the net, emailing...nothing made the time pass faster. And it's only 7:00pm, so I still have quite a few hours left in the day.

Talked to the vet today and told him I'm planning on letting things just play out with Shelbe the way they are and will be passing on the surgery. He's drawing up a price quote and after-care package for the drug therapy in case I change my mind, but at this point I'm set on the decision I've made. I don't think surgery or chemo will give her a good enough quality of life considering the after care she'll need and all the side effects that accompany it. He gave me a ballpark estimate of 5-7 months for her time left if we let the Cushing's and diabetes run their course. There's always the possibility that she'll have more time (or less) than he predicted, but I'm already preparing for sometime near the beginning of 2008.

Here's hoping I can find something online/on TV/ or in a book that's a little more uplifting to occupy my time for the next 5 hours or so.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Free Food

Today was one of those unusual started out extremely sluggish and I just knew it was going to be a slow one. It was the kind of morning where you stay in bed as long as you possibly can before you have to get up and start the morning processes. And even when you do pull yourself out of bed and get moving, you're still going in slow motion. But somewhere along the way time seemed to slip by and the day was suddenly over. I wasn't very busy either, so it wasn't a case of getting caught up in something and losing track of time. The day just kind of happened.

Work was a typical day; phone calls, faxes, and idle chit-chat until 5:00 rolled around. We have what they call a Lunch-n-Learn scheduled for Wednesday. Someone is coming in to discuss contract document changes for some construction stuff that the State now requires, and they'll be telling us about it and providing lunch. Extremely boring stuff and I'm not really looking forward to it, but hey it's a free lunch. I can sit there for an hour or so and listen to someone speak for a free sub and chips. I also have a lunch meeting planned with my boss on Thursday so that means a second free lunch this week. Yeah, I should probably be focusing on the work aspects of it more, but I really enjoy food.

And speaking of food, I enjoyed grilled steaks this evening with the Smiths. I'm watching their pets for them again over the next week and a half while they're vacationing, and Nancy was kind enough to have me over for supper. The steaks were perfect and it was a nice evening spending time with them and their kids.

For a day that I started out dreading, it ended up being not so bad.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


I survived my first solo camping trip last night (solo human anyway, the dog was there). I've been wanting to do that for a year or so now, and finally made myself go ahead and do it. Even so, I put off heading out until later in the afternoon and the site I had planned on using was already full of people. I ended up driving a few miles further down the road and found an empty spot. I'm kind of glad I didn't stay at the original place as the new one I found was more open and private. The site was off an NC Forestry Service dirt road named Cathey's Creek Road. It's located in the Pisgah National Forest and the area is packed with hiking trails and waterfalls.

The experience wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Not that I expected it to be bad or anything, I was just a bit apprehensive about spending the night by myself in the woods and was pleasantly surprised by how good it made me feel. It was a bit chillier than I expected but overall it was pretty fun. Granted, if the dog hadn't been there I doubt I'd have slept more than a few minutes at a time. The mind tends to wander off pretty quickly when you're alone in a pitch black tent in the middle of the woods. And trust me, my mind can wander into some very freaky places if I let it. There were quite a few times when various serial killers, bears, and Eastern Puma were going to suddenly tear into the tent and torture, maul, and/or eat me. And don't even get me started on what was going to crawl up out of the stream and, finding a colorful tent in its favorite napping spot, would tear me apart in a limb ripping rage. But once I reconciled myself to the fact that Shelbe would probably hear anything coming up on us quite a bit sooner than I ever would, I managed to fall asleep.

I'll definitely be doing it again soon and I'll plan things out a bit better beforehand. For one, a nice warm blanket will accompany me next time and not just jeans and a sweatshirt (yeah, I had the sleeping bag for warmth, but Shelbe claimed that as soon as she stepped into the tent so I had to "share" it with her...not going to kick the poor dog off the only soft, warm thing available to sleep on after all) . Plus I'll need to replace one of the tent poles since I managed to snap it when I was packing up camp.

All in all, a very good experience for me and I'm glad I did it.


As this is my first post, the links to right will point you to my pics page on Flickr and to my Video page at YouTube.