feren: Feren is silly (Zhivagod_Feren-Silly)
In this case it was a curiosity about pronunciation that was running through my head. The question that my brain was chewing on was silly (as it always is) but strangely maddening.

Daddy. How do you pronounce that, in your neck of the woods? I find two ways that come to mind. First, "dah-Dee." Second, "dahd-E." It's two syllables either way, but it all comes down to where the emphasis falls.

[Edit @1550CT 1/10: No, this isn't a subtle hint to anything! This really is the sort of stuff that runs through my head when I'm awake at 3 in the morning.]
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
I had planned originally post something lighthearted this morning -- shortly after I woke up I caught Ra doing something cute that I thought deserved to be shared. After I got online and checked the news, however, that plan has been slightly altered.

I worked ridiculously late last night on an issue that had myself and the entire UNIX engineering team in the data center until almost 2300 hours. Given the time of night I decided I might as well take the Tollway home -- it's not like there would be any significant traffic at that hour. It was remarkably quiet on the roads and I made good time. However, on my route back home I drove past this accident. As I figure things I probably came by the scene about two minutes or so after it happened. As I was approaching the turn of the ramp from I-88W to I-355S I saw there was what looked like a mini-van on the left side of the ramp with its lights off and hazard blinkers on. I was a little perplexed by this: why somebody would choose such a poor -- nay, dangerous location to pull over at? Even when it's five past 11 at night the risk of somebody hugging the curve too closely and clipping you or your vehicle on that ramp is incredibly high. As I got closer it became evident why somebody would do that... I saw the guardrail on the South side of the ramp had been mangled and there was a car laying on its roof behind that. Then my headlights played over something far worse -- a body on the side of the road, with somebody crouched by it. It took me a second or three to process that as I drove by.

Once I realized what I'd seen I understood why somebody had pulled over in such a bad location and I followed suit, throwing the Expedition onto the shoulder and punching on the hazard lights. Grabbing my cell phone I called 911 and started to get out of the truck to walk back and find out what was going on. A dispatcher came on and, once I described my location she interrupted me by asking, "Is this about the overturned vehicle on the ramp from 88 to 355, with the ejected passenger?" I said yes, it was. "Paramedics are already en-route. Are you a witness?" I told her no, I had not seen the accident happen. I asked for confirmation that crews had been dispatched and, once she said yes, I thanked her and disconnected. It took me a second or two of sitting in the truck to hear the sirens of the approaching emergency vehicles, but once I did I realized there was nothing more I could do. I have no training to render aid, so I wouldn't have been any help there. Somebody had already called for emergency services and they were with the victim already, following any instructions the dispatcher might have to give so I wouldn't be any help there. I had not seen the accident as it occurred so I couldn't provide any reports about what happened. The dispatcher I'd spoken with had assured me help was enroute and had not asked me to stay. The conclusion I was left with was disheartening, but logical: the only thing I could do in that situation would be to get in the way, so I might as well take myself and my truck and move on so the emergency crews would have a place to park. I figured this was a big enough incident that it would be reported in the papers and sure enough, it was.

I find that I keep coming back to the above analysis of the situation: The guy already had a good samaritan there with him, 911 had already been called, I didn't see the accident happen, I have no training and would only have gotten in the way -- the last thing an accident needs is gawkers. So I ask myself, why does it bother me that I did not stay there until the paramedics had evaluated him and he was transported to the hospital? Is it a case of survivor's guilt arising from my previous medical problems, or maybe because I was up until almost 2 AM this morning doing more work-related things (meaning I put in a twenty-three hour long shift)? Exhaustion does funny things to our emotions and sensibilities, after all.

No good answer is presenting itself. I guess I'll focus on the tasks at hand around the house and make sure I'm available in case our site in Utah has any problems moving into the new, permanent offices. Once that's done I'll be heading off with my friends H&G to go see a property that might be up for sale shortly. I'm being told I have to see it to believe it, so I might as well go take a look if I'm done with my other obligations. Tomorrow: one of the final weeks of bowling league!

Sooner or later your feet are gonna touch the ground
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
Tonight, during a commercial break for Invasion, I made a stop in the guest bathroom. While I was in there Ra wandered by the door. Following whatever strange instinct it is that makes felines do what they do he diverted into the littlest room and demanded my attention before he started investigating the area (I guess when you're a cat things demand constant re-investigation). When he wandered behind the door to sniff around (I usually keep the door open when I'm not entertaining guests) it spawned a most curious and unexpected memory for me...

With startling clarity I remembered a time a few years ago when I was living in Hoffman Estates with [livejournal.com profile] twanfox. This was a little bit before [livejournal.com profile] cabbitattack joined us -- maybe a year or so before she moved in with Twan. I had adopted Ra from the shelter and the little black cat with the white patch certainly seemed comfortable in his new demesnes after a few weeks. You could tell that kitty knew he owned me -- meowing imperiously, sleeping wherever he wanted (usually between my ankles when I was trying to sleep) and constantly getting into trouble as most kittens are prone to doing. One thing I learned quite rapidly, however, was that I had to remove the "springs" from certain doors in the apartment (you know them... mounted at a bottom corner of a door, used to keep it from smashing into the wall if you open it too forcefully). Not only was the door to my room quicky de-springed, the one in the bathroom followed shortly after as well. Why? Because when Ra was locked into those rooms for whatever reason he would demonstrate his displeasure at such an unjust incarceration by batting and pawing at them. His favorite trick was to bend the spring back until he couldn't hold it in place anymore. Once they'd reached the "point of no return" the spring would fly free of his grip with that annoying "SPROINGGGGGGGGGG!" sound that was astoundingly loud and reverberated in ways I couldn't begin to fathom. Sadly what used to amuse us endlessly when we were children was now the bane of my existance! As I was no longer a child (and I was overworked and undersleeping) such distractions were far from welcome in my household -- especially when I was trying to catch a nap on a Saturday morning. Removing the springs only inspired Ra in other ways, not the least of which was his attempt to master opening doors by jumping up and grabbing at the door knobs. But it was that distinct "SPROINGGG-GGG-GGGG!" sound that pulled the memory to the surface for me, and I couldn't help but grin.

Ra doesn't do that anymore, but as he was exploring around behind the door he did step on the doorstop and it made a faint, half-hearted imitation of the sound that use to haunt me at 3:30 in the morning.

As a friend once said, "Those were the (bad old) good old days. Don't you wish you had them back?"

Give me a ticket for an aeroplane
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
It's been ten years, so I should write a retrospective about my time at Holiday Sports. I've mentioned it in passing enough times that I might as well just fill up a few journal entries about it ... otherwise I'll end up forgetting about all the different things that happened back then, from trips to Perkins to ice fishing with Brian and his brother on Lake Mille Lacs over New Years 1995. The thought of forgetting about those 16 months actually scares me some because I really did enjoy working for them and I miss the people I worked with. It was probably one of the happiest periods I can think of since I entered the workforce. Perhaps that was because of the simplicity of the work?

The secret is to know when to stop
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
Once a year we set aside time to observe the bravery, sacrifice and commitment of the countless individuals who have served in the nation's armed forces. For generations these souls have labored, in times of peace and times of conflict, to guard us both abroad and at home and to right that which was wrong. They have risked their freedom and their lives so that we may have these things we hold sacred for ourselves and our fellows. May their sacrifices never be forgotten and may the countries they worked to build and protect never be turned astray.

We are thankful to those who have served and given so much. To the men and women currently in harm's way: you have our gratitude, our prayers and our wishes that you may be returned safely and quickly to those who await you at home.

Thank you, grampa. Thank you, dad.

Of holy war and holy need
feren: I AM THE MAN (jen)
Things sometimes happen that are random and completely unexpected as we move through our lives. The people I know and call "friends" are all intelligent, and like myself, they try to be aware of everything that's going on around them. Despite our best efforts, we are sometimes caught by surprise by the world around us. Events unfold that are out of our control. Sometimes the things that surprise us are unpleasant and not at all what we want. Sometimes they are incredibly pleasant and, while unexpected, are exactly what we may need (or want, at least on a subconscious level). When we encounter those moments we feel our spirits lifted by them -- with good cause. They're notable events.

These little things are far and few between. When they happen, they should be delighted in. They should be treasured.

I had one of those moments today.

This revelation brought to you by at least eight shots of Maker's Mark.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
Tonight, while I was taking the trash and the recyclables out the curb (sometime around 9:16 PM or so), I saw the first firefly of the season. I had just gotten a bag full of garbage and used cat litter out to the end of the driveway when I happened to look up. My timing couldn't have been better, because just as I did a firefly buzzed by and winked his light. I was so startled I dropped the bag and stood up to squint, because I didn't really recognize what I had seen. He flashed again once more and then disappeared into the night.

I stood out in front of the house for something like ten minutes after that, just waiting to see if I'd see any more of those ghostly green lights. I didn't, but that's okay. While I was out here I had time to enjoy the weather...tonight it's teetering upon the edge as it can't quite make up its mind between being "spring-cool" or "summer-warm and a little bit humid." The weather, along with the sighting of that lone firefly, caused a few memories to tickle the back of my brain. One of the strongest ones was from about 20 years ago, when I spent a few weeks in Long Island, where one of my uncles lives. I was at my uncle's house, and spent an entire evening running around his yard and catching fireflies in a jar. Another memory was of a much more recent time: when I was living in Wheeling with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet, I spent quite a few of my nights (when the weather would permit it) standing outside and just staring at the stars and the moon. Back then I was thinking about somebody. Now, when I do the same thing in the back yard of my own home, I think about those memories. Maybe that's weird, maybe it's some sort of "meta-zen" when I think about memories of thinking of people (I think maybe I think too much).

On the topic of Ra: He seems to be doing well. In the time that has elapsed since my last update about him there have been no accidents that I've been able to discover. The daily tending of his litter box shows he's still passing urine, though it's hard to tell if he's passing as much as he should since I cannot accurately gauge his water intake. The other problem is that I'm not able to get a good sense of if there's still blood in his waste -- his litter just clumps around it and leaves no hints. I may put down a plastic cat pan liner and sprinke No-Sorb atop it to see if I can get a sample. Since he's finished the first week of antibiotics I want to make sure I'm not seeing any extra colors that shouldn't be there.

Here's to keeping fingers crossed.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
Imagine, if you can, my complete surprise at this entry from [livejournal.com profile] chebutykin. What started out as a look back on the history of a piece of form-molded plastic turned into something much, much deeper. This has to be one of the most thoughtful, touching introspectives I've ever read.

I'm really pleased that somebody has such fond memories of me.

Thank you, Cheb. For everything.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
I haven't written in this for a while, mostly because of the same old complaints -- too busy with work, etc. That changed today. I'm forcing myself to make whatever time is necessary in order to write this entry. This is important to me, if only to serve as a warning when I look back through this journal in the future. As I set out to write this I don't know if it will be a brief entry or a long one, but I have to write it anyway. It is imperative -- I need to get this out of me.

When I started work today, I was not expecting it to be anything remarkable or different from the usual day to day routine of the office. Mostly I figured it was just another week, with another split shift and set of overnights as I work on the Big Initiative To Fix Voice Over IP. I'd only been sitting at my desk for an hour when an e-mail came in from my new manager (my supervisor was promoted last week to fill the position that had been left open when AC was released from the company). I cannot express my surprise and dismay when I opened it and saw what was written inside it.
To all,

Bogie died this past Friday, I learned about it through Sunday's Obituaries which SW passed on to me. If you have any interest in reading it, I have a copy in my office.
I sat in shock for a minute, just staring at Outlook. I couldn't believe this news. Part of me wanted to deny that it was real, to claim that it had to be some sort of horrible mistake. After I gathered myself I went down to DR's office and without asking his permission stepped in, picked up the paper and turned it over. There it was, black ink on grey newsrag -- Bogie's obituary. I read through it twice, then put it back on DR's desk and returned to my cube without a word. As I sat down I felt something inside me shatter. It wasn't the dry break of a stick or a branch, it wasn't even the sound of a dam breaking. The only way I can describe it is to say that, in my mind, it was as if something more fragile and eloquent had been defenestrated from a highrise.

I'd written about Bogie here a few times before, referring to him as The Incredible Farting Coworker, because that's exactly what he was. The irony (thick and crunchy style, for those of you who like it that way) is that all of his gas was due to the cancer that was eating up his digestive tract from the inside out. But we didn't know that, back then -- we just thought he was an eccentric coworker who couldn't stay awake in meetings and needed to lay off the broccoli and cheese soup. It was in February of 2004 that Bogie went to the doctor for an examination after some alarming things started happening to him ... and he never came back to the office. I learned he had taken a medical leave of absence from work after being diagnosed with cancer. First he was on short term disability, then on long term disability... and once the long term disability insurance ran out, DeVry quietly let him go. At that point he had to fend for himself, taking odd jobs wherever he could and paying whatever he had into COBRA so as to continue with his treatments.

In that 2004 entry I wrote that the doctor was giving him five years at the very best. The best obviously didn't happen -- Bogie only got one. From everything I've been able to find out, that one year was of very poor quality and was filled with a lot of pain.

I've had a lot of death around me in my 27 years on this planet. I've lost grandparents and neighbors, cousins and friends. Strokes, old age, suicides, massive infections, accidents. I've seen somebody's brain laying on a highway. I've been witness to somebody burning to death in a vehicle as the rescue crews struggled to cut the wreckage open. I'm not trying to pass it off that I'm so jaded or cynical, so ice-cold or removed that the passing of another human being doesn't affect me... but that impact has been dramatically reduced by all this. I've lost too many people around me, I've been on too many emergency medical calls with my father, I've been in too many funeral processions... something has given me a sort of emotional barrier towards most of what goes on in this world. Bogie's death, however, struck me deeply. I feel that there are two reasons for this. First, I have acute survivor's guilt. I've struggled for over a decade with this. I still cannot fathom while those around me with cancer are taken from us when I was allowed to live. My father's friend Tom passed from cancer around the time I was diagnosed to be in remission. Tom was a father, a husband, a volunteer and one hell of a firefighter. He had a small hobby farm of a dozen acres or so not far from where my parents' farm is. I lived, Tom passed. I couldn't reconcile it. I still can't. Each successive friend, associate or family member whom I've lost to cancer has put me squarely back in that same mindset. I'm confused, lost and without answers as to why I'm still alive and this other person isn't. It seems like there's no rhyme or reason to it at all. Simply put, it upsets me greatly.

Maybe that's the real bitch of it. If there was at least some sort of discernable cause and effect it might be easier to take into oneself.

When I read that obituary I was immediately seized by a wave of guilt that threatened to completely wipe me out... but that wasn't the only demon I had to face this morning. I also had to face myself. I had to face the fact that I felt terrible because of my actions towards Bogie -- or, more accurately, my complete lack of them. On and off for the last six months I've said to myself and others around me, "I should call Bogie tonight," or "I'm going to call Bogie tonight," or "I'm going to swing by Batavia, look Bogie up and see how he's doing. I bet he'd like some company." Yet I never did any of those things. Bogie... was a lonely guy. He was divorced and had no children. He lived alone in an old house in one of the more removed suburbs. He had nobody to keep him company but his two cats, and he doted on those cats the same way I dote on Ra (His cats were mentioned in the obituary, actually; I will post tomorrow as a reminder to myself. It's hard for me not to draw a bit of a parallel between Bogie and myself because of some of the things we shared in common). Because of that isolation, I know he would have loved that contact, yet I never took the 30 seconds to pick up the phone and make that simple call. I didn't make the 30 seconds nececessary to dial a number and say, "Hey, Bogie, we haven't forgotten about you over here, man."

Well, no phone calls now without a spirit guide.

I've got a serious self-hate going on at this moment. It's been going on all day, actually. I'm absolutely furious with myself -- rabid, blind, directionless rage is all I feel when I think about the fact that I let Bogie die like that. As I told a few friends this morning after composing myself, "Alone and forgotten is no way to go, man." I cannot believe that after Bogie left DeVry for his treatment and surgery that none of us ever said anything to him, never took the time to make that call or send a card. It's like we eliminated him from reality, or rewrote history to make it so that he was never here.

That's wrong.

That's criminal.

To add just one more stick of dynamite to the cheerful little bonfire of self-loathing I've got burning in the pit of my soul, I couldn't even attend Bogie's funeral. As he died on Friday, the funeral was today at 11 AM. Since I only found out at 8:30 there was no way for me to make any arrangements... I couldn't send flowers, I couldn't take time off to go to the service, nothing. I'm a fucking survivor of cancer and I couldn't even be there to apologize and tell him how sorry I am that I failed him as a human and as a friend. I wanted to tell him I was sorry I had forgotten and procrastinated and left him alone in these last few months. I wanted to say goodbye to him.

I have a lot of regrets in my life, both small and large. I am going to take away a lesson from this, and if anybody can learn from my mistake here, learn this: do whatever it is you're thinking of. Don't hesitate. Don't wait. Say what you mean, say what you feel, tell the other person. Seize that moment, because if you wait it's going to be too late and they're going to be gone. You will regret it... and it's those regrets that will kill you in the end. It truly is the lingering death of a thousand cuts.

Shit, I'm crying again.

Since I can't seem to write anymore, I'm going to close with this...

Bogie was a lot of things. He was a veteran and served in the U.S. Air Force with distinction. He'd been a garbage man and a taxi driver. For a number of years he was the SysOp of "I CAN" BBS, a board focused on serving the disabled and senior communities near Chicago. He was crude and lewd, he was intelligent and funny. He was eccentric, but was a hard worker and he knew Solaris inside and out. He was a great asset to DeVry. He loved his cats as if they were his children and did everything to keep them happy and healthy. He was a good man.

May you rest well, Bogie Bugsalewicz. I promise I will not forget again.

At the end of an endless circle, I know what I'm searching for
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
Today was somewhat productive if nothing else. I did my usual thing at work, dropped off all the misdirected mail I'm receiving with the realtor, broke down some boxes from the move and put the backdrop up on my fish tank after trimming it to size. I also had the questionable pleasure of moving my old Sun Ultra 2 machine (the second "panther" server in the series of machines to carry that hostname) and various accessories (including one hernia-inducing APC Smart-UPS 2200) out of my coworker's apartment and into the Blue Room of Death. My back is a screaming montage of pulled muscles and slipped discs.

Other things that I did this evening included sorting my recycling, cleaning up an incredible amount of Ra harf and hanging some more pieces of artwork on the walls of Z'ha'dum. I'm so exciting.

Before I get ready for bed I find myself plagued with a number of different thoughts, and while this flood of cogitation is a bit unnerving I still welcome it because it provides a much-needed distraction. Tonight the thoughts are covering a wide range of topics and include excitement that my 6.1 surround speaker set has arrived at last (I pick it up from the UPS office tomorrow), a rant that I want to write (pretentious people can suck on a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse), some self-doubt (take this life and... keep it?) and the familiar tingling sensation in my stomach that I have come to identify as longing for the "good old days" (that in many ways were not-so-good). I wonder if I'll have any interesting dreams tonight.

Roam if you want to
feren: I AM THE MAN (fcy2k)
Sometimes I feel very vanilla.

That is all.
feren: I AM THE MAN (contemplative)
Looking back on today, if I were to summarize it I could almost make it out to be a fortune cookie or a horoscope.

You will wake from a dream so real you will always remember it as the first time you touched her.

A filling meal will rekindle fond memories.

A conversation with a friend will bring unexpected laughter.

Great change is nigh.

And that would have been my horoscope for today.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-angst)
William Blake said "It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."

That's something I'll be dwelling on for a long, long time.
feren: I AM THE MAN (pantherhead)
There's a song by Blue Oyster Cult called Goin' Through the Motions, and it feels particularly apt here.

And we're going through the motions
Yeah, we're going through the motions
Yeah, we're going through the motions
Going through the motions

That's pretty much what I'm doing at this point. I'm going through the motions, playing it off as if everything is under my control as fate carries me where it will. Forces I only barely understand are slowly turning like immense cogs, rusty machinery grinding into life around me even as I write this. In a way it's awe-inspiring and in other ways absolutely terrifying. What sort of golem have I summoned into being, and do I dare try to tame it? I draw some small comfort from the advice my father gave to me, and it's advice that I think served him well when he was in Vietnam and drawing fire. It's an old axiom that's doubtless been around far longer than I can imagine, but that age serves to give it weight -- if there wasn't an innate truth to it I believe the phrase would have expired long ago.

Pray for the best.
Plan for the worst.

Thank you, Dad. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. If I'm lucky I'll have many more years to learn from you. I wish I had started learning sooner rather than later, but I guess it's only after the son has made his own mistakes that he can come to appreciate the knowledge of the father.

Love was the winner there
feren: I AM THE MAN (contemplative)
It snowed tonight. I didn't think that I would have missed it as much as I have, but... I did. Seeing it snow tonight brought back memories of early November mornings in the extreme Northern parts of Minnesota.

When you are alone in a tree, isolated from the rest of the world by mile upon mile of forest you can actually hear the snow when it touches the ground.

As annoying as it can be.... Its wonderful to see the white blanket covering the earth again. Maybe I'll have a white Christmas after all.


feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)

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