Saturday, April 30, 2005


Can we tawk?
Another brief detour off the boulevard from my current series to post a smattering of anecdotes involving things I’ve been thinking about lately which have absolutely nothing to do with me mowing my lawn.

This is for the most part a diary post. I entitled it Confluence because it seems that there are so many streams of circumstance and thought now converging upon the river of my life that I just fell I have to stop and record them.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m a flake
I can assure you I will be the first one standing in line at CompUSA the day they open the doors to begin selling a Brain-Dump interface device that allows you to transfer your thoughts directly to digital data. That way I’ll be able to blog without interruption, never allowing myself to be distracted by things like, oh…life?

I’ve apologized so many times before, both to my blog readers and to myself for saying I was going to post a story and then end up either not getting around to it or getting distracted by other things. I know you all understand that ultimately I’m writing for myself and really shouldn’t feel any pressure to “put out.” But by the same token, the consistency I discovered (much to my own surprise) in writing so much last summer — when I was posting 4-6 times a week — was such an accomplishment for me, that I feel as though I’ve let myself down lately.

So I’ve decided that I will simply stop saying when something will be posted, because I’m really starting to feel like the boy who cried wolf. And please don’t tell me to stop beating myself up over this. Don’t worry — I really don’t lose a lot of sleep about it, yet it bugs me nonetheless. I want to be consistent. My personality needs this kind of consistency. This type of thing plagues every part of my life — it is something I always need to work on. But all the same, I’m gonna stop making promises externally, while trying my best to keep them to myself internally.

Isn’t it ironic…don’tcha think?
I have to laugh just a little at the way things have turned out with regard to blogging and my online existence as this person known as AJ. As you may remember, I’ve talked before about the other circumstance in which I use this online moniker, which is a direct link to how I discovered in the first place. Lately a few interesting ironies surrounding all this have come to the fore.

I chose the name for my blog based on a running joke with another group of friends I hang out with on a message board while listening to a particular sports talk radio host on the radio each day. This particular show used to be syndicated nationally on ESPNRadio, but after a contract dispute last year between the show’s host and “The Worldwide Leader,” it is now broadcast exclusively on a local Baltimore AM ESPN affiliate (and also via tape delay on XM Radio). However the live broadcast is streamed over the Internet, and that’s how I’ve been able to continue listening.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always had a relatively high profile among the listeners to the show because I’ve been fortunate enough to have a number of my e-mails read by said host on the air over the years. At one point there were even a couple of instances in which listeners actually signed my name to their own e-mails in sarcastic protest because, as one wrote, “that’s seems to be the only way to get an e-mail read around here.”

The irony is that my blog, which I never expected to become what it has, is still undiscovered by any of my message board buddies (one of whom maintains a site himself, dealing specifically with the daily goings-on of this radio show). I had fully expected at least one of them to find my blog, and “get” the joke referenced by the blog title. But now that my blog has become so personal and my thoughts expressed in it so intimate, I’m not really sure that I even want them to find it, although they could so easily, that each day passing in which I’m not outed boggles my mind.

What brought this issue up is the fact that over the last month or so I’ve noticed that my blog is receiving an ever-increasing number of hits from Google searches. Most are random hits involving my story titles and the references I have a tendency to make toward pop culture phrases and figures within them. I like coming up with that kind of stuff, but not so that more people will find me — oh far from it — I just like to make things clever and sometimes humorous to offset the often-serious nature of my story content. I really don’t want to draw attention to myself necessarily, but I’m not exactly hiding from anyone either. I like flying under the radar a bit, and I like maintaining a certain amount of anonymity, although should I lose that, the way I write or deal with my subject matter probably would not change much at all.

However, concern about being discovered is the very reason I have not actually mentioned the name of said radio sports talk show host here in this post, and here’s why. This group that I’ve been involved with for nearly three years now has arranged to have a golf trip this summer so that we can finally meet each other. We thought it would be cool to ask said host to come and be our guest of honor, since he’s the one who brought us all together in the first place. Much to our delight, he has accepted — and that, we didn’t really expect. However something else we didn’t expect was the fact that he would mention it on the air! We certainly didn’t want to advertise this thing, due to the number of other listeners whom surely would wish to get in on the action (said host has an incredible cult following, largely due to a very popular program on ESPN TV which he co-hosts, and a recent CBS sitcom based on his life).

I really don’t know what he was thinking, but he has now mentioned the outing on the air several times over the past few weeks. This has precipitated a ton of e-mails from people all over the Eastern Seaboard asking if they could get involved.


The good news is he knows it’s a closed list and has never said anything to indicate that anyone could just show up and play. He has however received a half-dozen solicitations from area golf courses offering their facilities — with most of them offering them for free.

And then last week, just out of the blue he blurted out that he wanted me to co-ordinate it all. The original line of communication had been via a combination of myself and one other member of our group who was local, but the other guy gladly handed the responsibility off to me when he heard said host’s pronouncement on the air.

So now I’m talking to golf courses, hotels and restaurants getting bids on accommodations and greens fees for 20 people…and my head is spinning.

It’s gonna be a helluva lot of fun though…

But the irony thickens in that my interaction with this outing has potentially raised my profile among the show’s listeners to an all-time high. And that is the chief reason that I’m not mentioning his name. I know they may find me eventually, but I’m not going to necessarily help them out.

Flashing in Atlanta Update
I’ll probably augment and repost my blog entry from last week when I was in Atlanta for Macromedia (or should I say Adobe) Flash training, and had a delightful time having dinner with EvilScienceChick and her beau, Kev. However I wanted to make mention of the training part of it here, just because it goes along with all the things I’ve been talking about lately.

The training was hard for me, and I mean HARD. I was one of only two non-programmers in the class of six. I really struggled to keep up. However I’m excited about the potential impact it could have on my career and my day-to-day work habits, as I will have to make it a point to study and refine what I’ve learn on my own in order to really burn it into my brain. This is a huge deal for me and I know it will change my life.

The impact it will probably have on blogging is true to what seems to be a consistent theme cropping up in my life. It’s my coming to terms with the fact that I’ve been coasting in my career for the past five years or so. I’ve been stuck in a tech-rut not of my own making, but yet I’ve done little more than simply complain and hope that someone will listen and help me out of it. Now there’s certainly more I could say to fully explain all that, but this is supposed to be an anecdotal post, right?

The fact of the matter is that I am pretty much my own boss as far as responsibility for my tech knowledge is concerned. I am looked upon for solutions to keep my company’s corporate web site functional and in step with current web technology. I have not done that due to the disconnect that has always existed between my department and our company’s revolving IT presence (consisting of two outsource companies and finally an in-house IT department in the last six years). They have never given me the time or support for web tools that really do what we want them to do. Because of that it has always been relatively easy to pass the buck when my boss asks why we can’t do this or that.

And now I’m getting the vibe that perhaps they think it’s me and not IT who is holding us back. Whether or not my paranoia is justifiable, it is high time for me to step up and claim what I want for myself. Over the past 18 years I had always prided myself for being ahead of the curve technology-wise, but in the past five, I have fallen horribly far behind.

To make matters worse, I’m going to be 50 years old next year (ohmigawd did I just say that?) and there’s nothing less secure in today’s marketplace than an inadequately skilled fiftysomething.

So the long and short of it is this: I need to work my ass off this year, if not to reinvent myself completely, then at least to reestablish my viability in the eyes of my boss and co-workers. All that to say, I will not be blogging from work much if at all. And knowing myself as I do, that means I won’t be blogging much at all unless I can somehow conjure the will to do it at home, at night, and that very much remains to be seen.

I hope no one takes this as any kind of announcement that I’m quitting my blog or anything of that nature. I am most definitely not. However this just goes along with my earlier resolution to no longer make promises and then routinely break them both to you and myself.

In essence I suppose I’m searching my own soul for answers to the question of “what truly are my boundaries?” and “where am I going as a person in this life?” Y’know when you’re a member of the generation that once cried, “never trust anyone over thirty,” it’s a damned freaky proposition to consider that you’re rapidly approaching double that age. And retirement, or whatever your dream of the notion was, is literally just around the corner.

As my boyeee Magic Johnson always used to say as he led his LA Lakers teammates into the 4th Quarter of an NBA basketball game, “It’s WINNIN’ time!”

That time has now come for me as well.

“The dream police, they live inside of my head…”
I can’t remember whether or not I’ve talked about it much (perhaps I did briefly in a post last summer but I’m too lazy to look it up right now), but I’m dreaming again. And that makes me very happy.

There was a period of several years when I could not remember my dreams. I don’t know if that has any bearing on anything, yet it disturbed me a lot. I’ve read that a lack of dreams can be due to not reaching REM sleep, the period in one’s normal sleep cycle when most dream activity occurs. It’s said that sleep deprivation reduces more than just the amount of rest your body receives but also the ability you have to achieve that deep, REM Sleep State.

Well I know for a fact that I’m sleep deprived, but I just can’t seem to make myself go to bed any earlier on a given night, regardless of whether it’s a weekend or weekday. And now that my dreams have returned, at least to a greater extent than they have been for the past several years, I really don’t know what to think. I’m not getting any more sleep than usual, yet I’m waking nearly every morning with the memory of one or two dreams. They memories of them are normally vivid at first, but as usually is the case they fade rapidly into mere ghostly impressions within a matter of minutes.

Some are erotic, some are graphic and breathtakingly beautiful, and some are out-and-out demonic (like the one I had last night — YIKES!). But they all have one thing in common — they always make me smile — just because I can finally remember having them. I feel so much more alive when I dream. So much more full of hope. Who knows why? And more importantly, who cares?

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep

Through the desert of truth
To the river so deep

We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams

We're all carried along
By the river of dreams

In the middle of the night

From: In the Middle of the Night
Billy Joel, © 1993

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