The first real snow of winter blankets the ground and the funeral party huddles tightly under their canopy. The casket holds a sailor that I never knew. It’s draped with the American flag. I wonder to myself if the kid that performs these same honors for me will be as nervous…
Stand by… Ready.
I slowly count off the six movements in my head. Half-right face, step out with the right foot, tap the butt of the M14 on the ground, go to port arms. I make sure not to throw the rifle through my gloved hand. It’s slippery.
The click of the safety being released.
The three of us in the firing party moved in sync, assuming our firing position (but don’t rotate your shoulders) and awaiting our next command.
For this being the first time we had done this, we somehow managed to fire the three rifles simultaneously.
I remember my eyes filling with tears for a moment as I stood saluting while Taps played. I couldn’t help but think of my friends that had received these same honors. I was sad, but proud to be able to do this for them and for the gentleman who had passed on. I hope I get this opportunity again in the future.
Way back when, back in the days of living in Jersey, I had put together a nice little budget box for all my computing needs. It had the guts enough to play the computer games of the time and handled pretty much anything I cared to throw at it. The case had some LED light rails running up and down the sides which warranted its name: DISCO.
Here are the specs:
Processor: AMD Athlon XP 2500+ Barton 1.833GHz (OC’d to 2.2GHz)
Motherboard: ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra
RAM: Kingston ValueRAM 512MB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 333 (PC 2700)
GPU: PNY GeForce5200 128Mb AGP
Storage: Maxtor 80GB 7200 RPM IDE Ultra ATA133 / ATA-7 3.5″ Hard Drive
CD-RW: Rosewill 52x
All packed inside a DYNAPOWER USA 86B2 Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case w/ 430W Power Supply
Over the course of its life, I eventually upgraded to 3GB of RAM and VisionTek Radeon HD 2600XT 512Mb.
DISCO provided me hours of gaming, video, and other entertainment. Despite being ancient and outdated, it was a workhorse that, in my opinion, handled some stuff it never really should have been able to. DISCO was the first machine I had ever built and I’d always had some nerd-pride for my accomplishment. Sadly, the digital grim reaper came looking for DISCO this last Tuesday. It had crashed on me and was having a hard time starting back up. I opened it up and gave it another go, and it let out the last of its smoke. I’m guessing something in the power supply went screwy because all of the hot leads coming from the supply were melted and exposed, or it could have been something in the video card pulling too much power. I don’t even know. Heartbreaking, right?
It’s always the first three miles after taking a hiatus from actively exercising that makes me want to roll over and die. My last recorded run was in September and three miles might as well have been twenty. This semester got so chaotic, running got pushed to the side and from there things started to slide. Now that I have a break I have the opportunity to get routines back.
I pulled my WOLVERINES basic training hoodie over my head and got to it. The ground was cold and unforgiving. Snow stirred atop frozen asphalt and made my old shoes slip. The air, cold and biting. I hacked. I wheezed. I puked, eventually. This isn’t surprising, though; if I run within four-to-six hours of eating, I will chuck no matter what. When I finished, I took a deep breath and realized that I wasn’t dead yet, so I’ll push harder tomorrow. It was a good run.
I’ve been drawing up an exercise program that I plan to start at the beginning of the semester. I’ll need to start building my aerobic capacity before starting on that, and hopefully throw in some core work. Perhaps all this exercise science stuff might come in handy, after all?
I’m back to where I started with my fitness goals, 194 with 20 pounds to go. Time to make like a gymnast and get back on the horse. :)
Final Thought: I’d kill you for a double-double animal style right now. Just sayin.
You want me? Fuckin, well, come and find me.
I’ll be waiting… with a gun and a pack of sammiches.
— Talk Show Host by Radiohead
I watched Romeo + Juliet tonight to break the silence while at work. I love this song, and particularly that it sounds like he says “sammiches,” which is how they’re actually supposed to be pronounced.
Time to leave work, sleep, and try to remember what normal feels like. I think the ending of the semester feels as strange as the last couple weeks have felt and I don’t know if I’m transitioning very well.
This morning started late and in a hurry. With a 7am final in mind, I woke up (thanks to a kick to the face from THE Aislinn Grace) at 6:58 – plenty of time to get dressed, skim over my notes, and make it the ten miles to school before the professor handed out the test. Right? Right… right.
I am a little sad to see biomechanics go – it was a class that I understood and had a real interest in. It has been put to bed and now it’s time to move on to the next final exam: physiology. Time to hit that book like a mofo.
I was able to go home between school and work today, which was nice. I miss my family terribly. It also gave me an opportunity to shower and shave before a meeting with my boss.
Almost done with work. So tired. Here’s to making it home in one piece!
This week is finals week. Just a few tests and a project to finally turn in and we can put this semester to bed, for better or for worse. Oddly enough, I find myself strangely wondering how I had gotten to this point. Had it been sixteen weeks already? Sixteen Mondays and Fridays, and the days in between. It almost seems like it was just last week that I was fighting the wait-list program to get into classes I needed in order to someday finish this damned degree.
A friend of mine posted this picture on facebook today:
And it got me thinking… Yes, yes it is stressful. The last weeks of this semester were likely the most stressful of my academic career, to be followed by the second most stressful time that I can remember, with the third most stressful time winning the bronze medal in this race. Of which, I’m certain that when I find myself in the middle of a firefight, that it will take the number one spot. It makes no sense to try to invalidate someone else’s stress because I’ve been through something I perceive as more stressful. Let people experience things and keep the “Oh yeah, well, my stress is worse” to yourself. We all know it is; this isn’t a hard-time pissing match.
Getting back on track, having turned in papers and projects, tackled finals here and there, and prepared for those that are up-and-coming, the pressure of the last few weeks has left an imprint – almost an empty space – in the back of my head. Almost like noticing when the hum of the air conditioner has turned off when you didn’t realize it was there to begin with. School has been such a driving force in my life, consuming so much of my day every day, that I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with myself over the next few weeks. I look forward to my family time, and hopefully the sounds of that will fill the empty space left by the missing fire-alarm-esque humdrum of school. I just wonder if this feeling of something missing will go away before the new semester starts. Perhaps it’s just the nyquil talking, and this “something’s missing” is all just a figment of my imagination.
It’s kind of funny how life works in crazy ways and messages that are intended for us come from random places. When people recognize this craziness, they (we) often attribute it to a higher power, fate, God, sheer dumb-luck, or combination of any of these things. As for myself (since I can only really speak for myself), I’m often too caught up in the day-to-day chaos of life to pick up on these messages to be able to apply them. Luckily, this last weekend was a little different.
Sunday was filled with a six-hour (six. hour.) marathon of the Oprah Winfrey Network, where during one of the sections of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday she had a gentleman on by the name of Rev. Ed Bacon. To preface this a little, I was having a hard time absorbing everything that was talked about for a number of reasons, but this particular morning I could only really latch on to one concept at a time and chew on it for a bit, then snag the next concept I had heard and mull that over, and so on and so on. That being said, one of the concepts I managed to grab onto was something to the effect of “see yourself in others.” For example, when you’re pissed at a busy waitress at a restaurant for taking too long to refill your drink, recognize that you have also been overwhelmed in your life, so understand the waitress’ plight and show some compassion… at least, that’s what I took from the message.
So, Monday night I was at work frustrated and cursing MSSQL, MySQL, a client in China, SQL backup scripts that are trying to modify my MySQL users table, and computers in general, when a colleague of mine who works remotely in China asked if I could help him write a report for the software I support and that he sells. I politely IM’d him back that I couldn’t because I was in the middle of a project, then growled through my teeth, “[So and so], you F&$*ING IDIOT, write the damn report yourself!” Kind of harsh, right?
The shift I work is kind of difficult. I work an awkward swing shift, where I get an hour-and-a-half window where if I need help from our developers or educators or even my own supervisor I can actually get a hold of somebody. Otherwise, I’m out of luck and have to fend for myself.
I paused for a long moment in the relative silence after cursing this guy. My heart sank a little. In this moment I realized that he has it just as hard as I do, if not worse, when it comes to getting help with our overly-complex software. Beyond that, I realized that he doesn’t even have access to write the report he needed. He certainly didn’t deserve to be called an effing idiot (even if I didn’t say it to him) just as I wouldn’t deserve to be called the same if I were in his shoes. I recognized how much room for improvement I have when it comes to seeing myself in others. I suppose recognizing where I went wrong is the first step to making the right decision (or reaction in this case) next time.
Part two of my story also happened on Monday, but this time the message came from a web broadcast from last week that my wife had been encouraging me to watch called HugNation. Towards the beginning of last weeks broadcast he mentions a concept called “Pronoia” which would be the antitheses of paranoia. In other words, pronoia would be the overwhelming belief that the universe is conspiring in your favor, which paves the way to gratefulness for the things that we have. For example: you’re alive today, many things in the universe are working together in such a way to ensure that you’ll be alive today, and that’s pretty much a good reason to quitcherbitchin right there.
That evening, a friend of mine at work was having a rough day: A meeting he had really invested a lot of time and effort into didn’t quite turn out the way he wanted, he was running into issues with his computer at work, and he was generally downtrodden from who-knows-how-many other things that had gone wrong throughout the day. He looked up at me at one point and said, “Kris, do you ever get the feeling that the universe is working against you?” Trying not to sound apathetic to the things that were bothering him, I did my best to explain the concept of pronoia, and that while things weren’t exactly going swimmingly for him at the moment, a lot of things in the universe were working in his favor and that it’s important to keep the things that we’re grateful for in mind. It seemed to, at that moment, help a bit.
I’m grateful for these messages that have come my way (through much encouragement from my wife:P ) and for my opportunity to share them. I just hope that in sharing them, that they can help affect those that hear them the same way they’ve influenced me. In that spirit, I challenge any friends, family, or strangers who read this to do the same – take a moment when you’re frustrated to see yourself in the person you’re frustrated with to identify the connection you share with them, and show the compassion you’d hope to receive. Then, take a moment to notice the things that have worked in your favor today and be grateful for those things.