jakebe: (Default)
When I'm not hopping around as a jackalope online, I'm this chubby black dude who has a day job at a tech company. That much you know. I'm going to talk a little bit about what's going on with me personally here, but I'll try to be vague enough that there's not so much overlap between my fuzzy self and my chubby self. For so many different reasons, I'd like to keep those two buckets separate for now.
Last month, we found out that my company was bought from the venture capital firm that had been funding us up until that point. The official line was that it would allow us to progress on our vision without having to worry about money so much -- up until then, it was a bit of a struggle to make sure we had enough to do what we wanted to do, when we wanted to do it. Basically, we're in a fast-moving segment of the marketplace, and there's a real advantage of rolling out workable technology as quickly as possible while also making sure we refined what's already there so everything works smoothly. You know the saying "If you want something, pick two of the three: fast, cheap, good"? We were trying to do the impossible.
Anyway, there was a footnote of the buy-out meeting that there was another company that might have technology that would complement ours, and we could work together to create something really special. That was all in the planning stages, but they would have more information for us when it became available.
In the meantime, it looked like my position would be phased out after six years in an unrelated reworking of my department. So, in order to progress, I would need to dive into a more technical position. A plan was drawn up to document how to do all the things I was responsible for, divide my responsibilities among the rest of the department, and become one of the crew. I'd get a provisional title for six months, and after that they'd see where I was and bump me up to a full-fledged member of the society. So I was working towards that.
Then I was told that because of the situation with a potential merger, I wouldn't be able to move into that provisional position and would stay where I was. I should still plan to hand off my responsibilities and train for the more technical position, but on my own.
This week, I was thrown into a pretty intensive boot camp to learn the technical specifics of my software. This caught me by surprise. I'm actually excited to be thrust into this world that I never thought I could handle because of...well, self-image and anxiety issues, and while the learning has been difficult it's also been rewarding in its own way.
Long story short, there's a lot of change happening at the day job, which means that something has to give. I was gearing up to do a lot with a Patreon for serial stories that was set to launch this month, but I think it's better that I set that aside and focus on being the best technical worker bee that I can be. It also means that I'll need to pull back my admittedly ambitious writing schedule so stuff will be coming out a bit more slowly. That's fine -- it allows me more time to really dig in to something and make it good. Just because I'm just starting my million-word apprenticeship as a writer doesn't mean I can't consider those words more carefully.
For a while, I'll just need to slow down; focus on the quality of the working process and not the quantity. I just wanted to give you folks a heads up that might mean fewer journal entries for a little while and fewer Fiction Fridays but hopefully better ones.
See you folks on the other side!
jakebe: (Politics)
Learning how to navigate the minefield of work in corporate America has been a fascinating learning process. I'm learning a lot more about how to deal with a wide variety of different personalities with different goals, while still trying to get things done. It's frustrating, confusing, but ultimately I've learned that I'm really interested in it. I try to bring in a Zen mindset by reminding myself that the person I'm speaking with has their own perspective, and they've arrived where they have through a set of circumstances and decisions that make sense to them. If a behavior is baffling or illogical to me, I try to remind myself that it's only because I don't have the information that they do. Even if someone has a bad reason for doing something, it's still a *reason*. Most people try to do the best they can with what they have. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Still, there are a lot of times where I find myself digging in my heels on something. I'm a bit of an idealist, which is one of the worst things you can be when you're in a position of working with others to get things done. I get it into my head that there's a certain way things should be, based on my limited perspective and experience, and I'll draw a line in the sand. Once that happens, my coworkers are no longer individuals with their own ideas; they're obstructions between me and my goal. They're not people who have the same desire to be understood that I do. They're deficient because they don't hold the same values that I do. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where a coworker stops being a collaborator and starts being an enemy, but that turning point is a subtle but fundamental shift. That perception inhabits everything you do from that point on.

In the day-to-day business of making sure my job gets done, it's easy for me to get so close to my perspective that it basically overcomes my way of thinking. I'm almost positive that this is something that happens to everyone: you believe a few things that should be fundamental, objectively true, and you're baffled that anyone else could think differently. What's best for the department/company/nation/planet is obvious, so much so that anyone who disagrees must simply not be looking out for the best interests of the collective you're thinking about.

It's a short jump from the personal to the political, here. It's easy to think that our fellow citizens across the aisle must not have America's best interests at heart because, well, how could they? For Republicans, it must seem that liberals just want to bankrupt the country giving everyone free rides. Maybe to them, programs like the ACA (and Medicare, and Social Security before that) only contributes to a culture of entitlement that leads to a lazy, soft-working society. And to folks like me, Republicans seem like heartless assholes who are only concerned about themselves and have no sense of compassion or responsibility to the society we're all engaged in.

I'm perfectly willing to admit the biases I have due to the limits of my perspective and personality. It's difficult to remember just how subjective a lot of my "objective truths" are. I think the one of the basic problems in our society, political and otherwise, is the lack of ability to step outside yourself and remember that the person at cross purposes with you is actually just like you; you have the same goals, but vastly different perspectives on what those goals look like and how to get there. If we could understand what those goals look like to someone else, maybe we could stand a better chance at communicating with them and coming to some sort of compromise that gets us both closer to where we want to be.

I'll be trying to recenter my perspective at work to remember that my coworkers are collaborators, not enemies. Maybe there's a way to make my perspective known and understood, and reach out to make sure I understand theirs, too. Once we know what we're looking at, we can start talking about how to get where we both want to be.

Grindstone

Oct. 8th, 2013 10:09 am
jakebe: (Default)
I spent much of yesterday at work angry because of two people -- one a coworker in another department, the other a customer who was aggressively unpleasant to deal with. With the former, I feel like the work that I'm doing to help his department is being brushed off because they essentially don't feel like paying attention to it -- only for them to turn around and blame me when something blows up because they haven't. It's infuriating in a rather special way to be told "We didn't pay attention to your warning, you need a better warning system." The issue is being worked out higher up the chain, and my managers will let me know what to do from now on once it's all figured out, but...ugh. It's very difficult working with someone you feel like isn't doing their job and will do whatever it takes to avoid responsibility for the consequences. This is probably more a matter of my perspective than the reality of the situation, though. I'm just too close to my emotions to be objective about it.

I've been trying to spend a little more time away from the computer at work, just to keep stress levels down and get in a bit of walking to break up being so sedentary. It works well so far! I've still got this persistent little cold, though -- so I've been bombing myself with vitamins and tea. I can't wait for my nose to stop being a mucus factory, that's going to be so awesome.

With writing, I'd like to sit down and learn how to work with Scrivener (a novel-making app) so that I can start breaking down a few serials I have in mind for writing. Once I know how to properly use the tool to break down these really big projects, I can start determining how to parcel out the work. I think I'll begin with pre-writing, working on template character sheets for all of the principal actors in the story, then breaking down the meta-arc in all 13 episodes. Once I have an idea of how the general story moves, I can start to weave in individual character arcs through the story. I'm actually really looking forward to this part of the process; I haven't really tried to organize stories like this, and it'll be a great learning experience.

In the meantime, I'd like to try and catch up on my reviews for the Top 100 Movies. We just watched #10 (Singing in the Rain), but I haven't even put a review for #20 (Chinatown). If I can really push and get a good backlog of reviews going now, the work'll be easier on me when the holidays come around and things get even more hectic. I've got the drive, I'd better use it while it's there.

Stamina

Sep. 21st, 2013 11:57 am
jakebe: (Default)
I've been having pretty consistent problems with willpower. I'll wake up in the morning determined to make sure that the day is productive, and I start out on the right foot. Meditation, medication, clothes, rabbit, email, then work. Things go well right up until 2 PM, and that's when my resolve starts to flag. Things start to slip a little, I start looking for distractions, mindless activities to indulge in. If there are more things that require my immediate attention, it takes a lot more out of me, and it takes longer and longer for me to 'recharge' up to the point where I can do anything. By the end of work, I'm fried. The prospect of leaping right into a personal project or cleaning up the burrow just makes me shrug my shoulders. The idea of being somewhat conservative for dinner instead of gorging myself on every snack I can find feels like more work than I can handle.

I don't want to complain about my job, because I actually like what I do. But it's draining. I think I've mentioned this before, but just in case you're coming in for the first time -- I'm the support administrator for a company that sells a fairly complex suite of products. When cases come in through email and by phone, I intercept it and make sure we have enough information to act on it. I help determine the appropriate priority, make sure that a customer's issue statement is clear, remind customers (and coworkers) about proper processes and why they're there, when appropriate. Most days it feels like air traffic control -- at any given moment, I have to deal with any number of new cases, questions about existing ones, various projects that I'm dealing with, etc. etc. The project work is especially important to me, because it's interesting work that I find challenging. But it's basically my job to be interrupted, so I don't get a good chunk of time to work on that.

A lot of the time it feels like I'm talking a customer off a ledge, telling them why their issue isn't as important as they think it is. Or I'm doing battle with a coworker, telling them why this process is actually a pretty big deal and outlining the consequences if it isn't followed. Most of the time it simply makes our job more difficult; the coworker doesn't see TOO much of the blowback. Getting someone to care about something that doesn't personally affect them (especially when they have so much on their plate already) is a tough sell. But I need to make it.

I think that's the most draining thing about my job, actually; it's a low-level debate about what's important and what's not. A lot. I wish I were more gregarious and persuasive, and I'm working on that sort of thing, but I'm really not. I love talking about things that are exciting to me, but it's way draining trying to explain it to someone who doesn't immediately get it. At the same time, I'm a writer-wannabe. It's part of my deal, framing ideas and concepts in a way that people connect to. The part of my job that's the most draining is actually the part that helps me with my writing, so there's that.

But still, at the end of the day I feel really tired for just about anything. But all of my free time happens in the evening! So there's my dilemma. I can actually feel my willpower running out, where it's going to be an uphill climb just to do things that should be easy. I try to make allowances for this, of course -- I know myself well enough that those moments when I feel like I can take on the world won't last, and I'll have to struggle. And I'm torn about what to do with those times. Do I ease back a bit to give myself time for my willpower to come back? Or do I try to push through anyway, to write when I don't feel like doing anything? Something has to give; my schedule pretty much demands me to be productive in the evenings if at all.

So that's what's on my mind today. :)

Capsules

Apr. 17th, 2011 11:30 am
jakebe: (Meditation)
Happy tax day everyone!

Like everyone else expecting a refund of some amount, I did my taxes early. I always do -- I really hate the rush of people getting their taxes in at the last possible moment, making the post office (and any place that delivers mail, really) a nightmare on Earth. Maybe it’s a holdover from my Adobe days, where I had to send so many certified letters with return receipt it literally depressed me for a week afterwards.

My heart goes out to all of those who’ve had to brave the crowds this week, no matter what side of the counter you’re on. :)

There’s been a lot going on recently, but when is that ever untrue? I thought I’d give capsule updates on different aspects and kind of deep-dive into the rest later. If at all.

+ Reading
We’ve finally unpacked most of our books from the move, so I’m getting into it again. I found my Kindle (it was in my backpack the entire time!) and bought a couple things for it that I’m working my way through now. One is an ‘amateur’ novella called 2084. It’s one of those ‘alternate futures told from the perspective of interviews and journalist essays’ books, in the vein of World War Z or War Day. Instead of a zombie outbreak or limited nuclear exchange, the great catastrophe that befalls civilization is global warming. The idea is intriguing and in the right hands it could have been astonishingly prophetic -- I believe we aren’t doing enough to combat climate change, and in a couple of decades we’re going to start to see those worst-case scenarios come to pass.

Unfortunately, these aren’t the right hands. The writing comes across fairly unconvincingly, and it’s clear that this guy has a political axe to grind. It’s nowhere near as effective as it could be, and this is coming from the choir. I can’t imagine someone else on the other side ever taking it seriously. It’s too bad, because it’s an opportunity wasted.

I’m also reading Storm Front by Jim Butcher, the first book in the Harry Dresden series. A friend of mine is running a Dresden Universe game set in Buffalo, and I’d like to get a handle on the feel of the setting before I dive into the role-play. I’m only a couple of chapters in, but those chapters have just breezed by; it’s a quick read, and Butcher opens the novel pretty well. I hear there’s a tonal shift in the writing half-way through that makes it less fun to read, and I’m glad I’ve been tipped off to it. If it’s not as bad as I’m expecting, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. If it is, well, I know it’s coming.

I’m also reading (at last!) “Contraindications,” the dragon’s fun set of short stories that he might be finishing up soon. Once I’ve cleared a little more space on my reading plate, I’ll dive back into the massive backlog of comics that’s been steadily growing since the beginning of the year and then get started on Daniel Fahl’s Save the Day. For some reason, furry superheroes are a little difficult to pull off.

+ Writing
The writing hasn’t gone as well as I’d hoped, to be honest. Right now I’m working through a poem a day in honor of National Poetry Month. I’ve been managing to average a poem a day, though I’ve fallen behind every so often and have needed to catch up. My writing for blogs and short stories have suffered a bit as a result...not that I ever did that very much anyway.

In addition to the poetry I’m trying to write short essays (around 500 - 1000 words) in an attempt to have a more polished personal writing style. I’ve come to really enjoy the flavor of a lot of writing/personal blogs out there, and there’s no more sincere way to show that than trying to emulate it. Of course, that’s stalled a bit because...who wants to read about someone failing to live the life of a writer? It’s better to get some experience under your belt before you open up that can of worms, am I right?

Long story short, I’m working on a bunch of things right now, and I’m progressing on all of them slowly. I keep hoping for the day when I’m actually able to show this stuff instead of talking about it, and that magical time is inching closer on the horizon.

+ Diet
This is another thing that’s coming along slowly but surely. I’m sure I’ve talked about my stress eating before, and it continues to be my biggest enemy. I get stressed about work or writing or exercise, and that’s then the cravings start to rear their heads. And those cravings are a lot more difficult to deal with than they used to be since I’ve given up candy for the year. On the bright side, it’s forcing me to be more mindful of them and to make conscious decisions about them. It’s a lot more difficult to mindlessly eat a cookie if you know it will cost as much as dinner, calorically. Candy is a lot easier to write off, and depriving myself of that out means there are no easy decisions.

I still slip up quite a bit, but I’ve gotten a lot more anal about counting calories and holding myself accountable. I was doing pretty well there for a while, nearing 182 pounds, which would have been the lowest weight in years. Something happened, though, and I’ve retreated from that. Now I’m waffling between 183 and 185. Now that I’m getting pretty aggressive about eating in more often, hopefully the weight will come down.

+ Exercise
I’ve also gotten serious about training for the Bay to Breakers, which means running three times a week is going to happen, no matter what. If we stick to the dragon’s weightlifting schedule, that means exercise six times a week at least. I’m actually comfortable with that, even if I might complain a bit during some of the harder workouts. Back nights are never fun, and the long runs have gotten progressively more punishing. We just finished a six-mile run yesterday that just about killed me. Thankfully, there’s just a set of three mile runs for next week, giving us a bit of a break before we head into the home stretch. The next two Saturdays after our break week? A seven and eight mile run, leading right into Bay to Breakers weekend. I think I’ll take a full week off after the race before aiming for four mile runs three times a week.

+ Work
I don’t talk much about work, mostly because there’s a dangerous blend between my professional and personal selves happening there, and I don’t want to encourage anything that would blur the lines any further. Still, I think this is the most fulfilled I’ve been at any job ever. I’m learning a lot about how to get along with people, business processes, my own personal project management style, and how to push myself to do better. It’s really great to see myself growing into my role and having that growth be recognized by other people. I feel needed, which is immensely gratifying. That newfound sense of ability carries over to other parts of my life, so overall work is just making me a better, more focused person. I really dig that. :)

So that’s what’s going on with me in a nutshell. One of the things I think people don’t talk about enough here is how these journals really are meant to foster a sense of community and interaction. I think we’ve taken that for granted a bit, and now we’re sorely missing it now that the LJ community is starting to break apart.

That being said...what would you guys like to see in this personal journal? What sorts of topics do you find yourself thinking about most? What do you think would foster discussion and input? What do you find interesting? What can I do, if anything, to keep our little corner of the internet active and engaged?
jakebe: (Default)
I had to wake up at 5 am this morning to work the first of three eleven hour shifts this week. It's been a *long* time since I've been up this early, and I got about four hours of sleep to prepare for it.

Still, I'm a morning person through and through. Damn if downtown San Jose at sunrise isn't one of the most beautiful places to walk in ever. *sniff*

Now to work!
jakebe: (Work)
One of the most difficult things about my job is dealing with all of the people. The really strange part is that I really like most of the people I work with and serve, but every interaction feels like a test in some way. Did I anticipate someone's need? Did I read their mood correctly? Was that joke really as dumb as it sounded? Was I as helpful as possible? In some way, I see every conversation with someone as a challenge; I can be more present, more helpful, a better person.

In general, I like this way of looking at things. The constant striving to be better at what I do that makes the job interesting, gives me a source of pride, makes me care about it. Honestly, when you're working as a contractor (even a long-term one) for a tech company with a broad disparity between its regular employees and its temps, you have to take your good points where you can get it.

I start each morning fresh. I meditate, I listen to or read a poem, I think about the things that make me happy. I listen to a few of my favorite songs on the walk from where [livejournal.com profile] toob and I part ways at the University to work. I text a friend or two. I meet the Buddha at least two dozen times. I get in, I have breakfast, I read blogs and my horoscope. (A guilty pleasure, I know.) By the time I've done this morning ritual, I feel ready for whatever happens.

Most days, even during the worst rushes, I'm mostly fine. But my inward reserves are pretty drained by 4:30, almost all the time. Luckily, this coincides with a quick drop in the number of people I have to deal with. Adobe employees go home, and the temps who serve them are on skeleton crew. The one or two people who pop up are friendly and interesting, not-too-terrible distractions from my decompressing ritual of the afternoon. This consists of writing e-mails, chatting with a friend or two, and stretching out the closing of my little domain for the last 30 minutes of the day.

Then there are days like today. My morning routine was interrupted, and as soon as I got in the Service Center was in a fine state of chaos. Tickets for a local event were being given away for free, tickets to a local amusement park were being sold at a substantial discount, and the usual crowd of employees wanting to mail things or arrange meetings or get various perks on Mondays were crawling to get their stuff done. This combined for a perfect storm that made my little domain the place to be for just about everyone. On a normal day, even Mondays, I'd say we average 12 interactions an hour, spread out over e-mail, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations. I'd say today we averaged 40.

When things get really busy and I'm not prepared for it, the reserves deplete really quickly and despite my best efforts I end up pretty miserable by the afternoon. No matter how much I try, there's always some internal mechanism that tells me "That's enough dealing with people now. It's time for some quiet." This is an impossible need to satisfy when there are so many employees coming down for tickets and packages and whatever.

The longer I go without having some time to decompress, the more obviously miserable and harried I become. I know the customers can tell I'm having a bad day, which means I can't be as awesome as I'd really like to be, and that makes me feel even worse. It's never a good feeling when someone leaves feeling a little worse because of something you did (or didn't) do. Every interaction goes from being a challenge I can meet to being a reinforcement of failure. It's a feedback loop that doesn't end until I get to go home.

Who thinks this way? What's wrong with me? I get to the point where I want nothing more than to be away from everyone, but I also want to be comforted, held, told that it's all right. I just want someone to accept my need for quiet, but be there with me at the same time. This is the time where I need my friends because I'm just so sick of people. And this is an impossible thing to explain when I'm in the throes of it. "Be there for me, please, but shut up because I just can't bear to hear the sound of someone else's voice."

On the worst days, this is my hell. Trapped in a prison of my own devising, wishing for comfort but hoping that everyone will go away. There's got to be a way around this; at this point in my life, I don't think I can build the skill-set for more solitary work anytime soon. I like what I do, when I'm clicking on all cylinders, but it seems there's a faulty mechanism in my psychology that ensures that'll never happen.

The thing that kills me is there has to be a good way to deal with this. I'm sure this is just a matter of perspective, and finding the right one'll just do the trick. I'm sure I'll find it eventually, too. In the meantime, after days like today, the only thing I can do is console myself with the fact that tomorrow I'll have another crack at the whole thing.
jakebe: (Default)
I've been thinking about my job a lot, and why it's so...vaguely unsatisfying. Honestly, if I take an objective look at it it's not so bad. I'm making more money than I've ever made before. The people that I work with are, on the whole, nice, competent, interesting and diverse. The work that I do actually benefits the employees directly, and it does feel pretty good to make someone's life easier. On a good day, people are relieved, pleased and thankful. It's also really varied, so I don't have to do the same thing over and over.

The thing that trips me up, though, is wondering what it's all for. Adobe is a monstrous company, and it does an awful lot of stuff. I think it's fair, however, to classify it as a multi-media company. The machine is ultimately geared towards making multimedia products that can be displayed by businesses in internal applications, on the Internet, so forth and so on. It's been built for this purpose, and I can see the use of it, but it's not something I really think is necessary.

That's the ultimate problem; not that I'm a cog in a machine, but that the machine's ultimate purpose is one that I don't find particularly enriching for people. Even when I was working at a crappy mall job, I went home feeling more satisfied; I gravitated towards stores like Natural Wonders, The Discovery Channel Store and the Imaginarium, where all of the toys and gadgets and videos and t-shirts were geared towards learning more about the world around you, maintaining some sense of wonder. The types of people we would get in that store were very specific, and I enjoyed interacting with them; they were there because they liked the idea of something being fun and illuminating, and we were designed for that. I *loved* selling telescopes, and minerals; I could throw myself into learning everything about them because they were awesome. I was excited, and I could get other people excited. I was part-sales, part-teacher.

There's nothing like that for me at Adobe, and I miss it. I think moving to a library or university position works well for me because I can fill that role a bit more easily. I can get excited about what we're all doing there, because the ultimate goal there is one of enrichment. That's something I can get behind. Making fonts look great? It's neat, and more power to those folks who are passionate about it, but me not so much.

Of course, my opinion on all of this might change. I'm flighty that way. =:)
jakebe: (Default)
There's a bus driver on the 522 line who calls out stops -- wait, no, announces stops in the cheesiest radio voice imaginable. "Santa Clara Transit Station, home to the Caltrain, Airport Shuttle, coffee shops, the 18 and 68 lines...and more!"

He was feeling in a particularly good mood today. He kept making up fake commercials for Commuter Combat, VTA Cardiovascular Service PDAs, even a couple of filk songs about the perils of riding the bus. Normally I'd be a little annoyed because, hey, I'm reading here. But it was better than Ishmael, so hooray!

I don't want to say too much about the book before I'm finishing it, but the narrator has to be one of the dumbest people ever. It's like reading an episode of Blue's Clues. I'm just waiting for the end where he has to go to his Thinking Chair to work out everything he's learned. The concepts introduced aren't new, but they are interesting and good to think about. When you get right down to it, how much do you really *need* to live?

Coming back to work this week was a mistake, I fear. I was given a talking-to by the managers about a bunch of little mistakes that have come rapid-fire in the past few weeks, and given notice that our Big Giant Head Manager is now paying close attention to the goings-on of our little department. Which normally I wouldn't mind, because I know the work I do is solid, but there have been...things which give me reason to believe I'm not getting a fair shake here.

Which leads to other things. I'm 28 27 years old and I'm working as a contractor for a giant corporation. Not even a *skilled* contractor. This isn't what I want to be doing forever.

What *do* I want to do? My mind keeps coming back to books. When I get right down to it, nothing interests me quite the way books do. Working in a library or bookstore is just the thing. It's not glamorous or ambitious, but it's actively what I want.

The problem is finding work that pays well enough to survive here in the Bay area, which is a bit of a feat. I don't mind a relatively meager existence as long as I love my job. And I'm really not feeling this one.

There's also the possibility of veterinary medicine, or some kind of non-profit outfit, or finding a way to make service my work. Those would be nice too. The problem there is the same, though; good fulfilling work for me is almost never something that pays well.

Ah well. This is something I'll have to ruminate on a little bit more.

Black Star

Mar. 12th, 2008 09:44 pm
jakebe: (Hope)
Time: 31 minutes
Distance: 2.80 miles
Speed: 6.2 mph
Calories: 287

Lat Pulldown: 60 lbs.
Seated Row: 60 lbs.
Straight Arm Pushdown: 30 lbs.
Preacher Curl: 20 lbs.



The preacher curls are always the things that kill me. They're the last things I do, and the first set always goes just fine. Then I start having real trouble towards the end of the second set. Halfway through the third set I'm squirming and grunting and groaning, trying to let momentum pull the bar up to my chin. I'm wondering if I'm burning through the sets too fast, not giving the muscle enough time to recuperate. My arms feel really tight and I notice there's a slight bend to them for a while after I'm done.

Other than that, things are moving right along. The weight exercises are getting easier to do all the time! I'm reluctant to move up, though, because the weights tend to move in 20 lb. increments. Things could go from "Wow, this is easy." to "OMG MY BACK" far too easily.

I haven't made a substantial entry in a while. There are many reasons for that, but the biggest one is simply I haven't felt like I have anything interesting to say. It's a constant source of frustration for me; my friends list is full of people living their lives and gleaning something from them, bringing them back and sharing them with the rest of us. There doesn't seem to be much insight for me recently.

Work is there. It's intense and demanding, but ultimately unfulfilling. What I do is glorified mail room; I make sure employees ship packages, or get the packages coming to them, or get whatever benefits they're supposed to. There are a ton of small things that need to be remembered, and there are always new things to learn, improvements to be made to the process. I'd like to think I do it well, and I can take pride in that, but ultimately...what does that mean? Am I really doing anything that betters me or the people around me?

It's occured to me that it's not so much the work that's the problem as the attitude behind it. Isn't the point making everything you do a way to better yourself and the people around you? Why develop big mystic practices around washing dishes, chopping wood, fetching water? If you get yourself out of the way, anything and everything can be the most important work there is.

So I've tried to think of work as such. It's only mail room, but, well, if approached the right way even accepting the mail can be something more. I still want to find a job that pays better, and fitsmore in line with my passion (God, I miss books!), but that's no reason I can't learn to turn this job into something that I can be proud of doing.

I'll try to update more frequently. There was an awesome weekend in San Francisco to talk about, and a weekly poker game I'm a part of, but that'll have to wait until later.
jakebe: (Default)
Despite being one of those plague-infested lapines at the moment, I'm here at work doing Service Centery things. I feel pretty good, though my throat is pretty raw and my voice is starting to go again. Still, it's nowhere near as bad as it was on Tuesday, so progress is happening.

The con and the flu combined to kill all writing and exercise over the past...whoa, has it really been almost two weeks? I hope to stem that tide soon.

For lunch today I'm eating a Budget Gourmet ziti parmesan (oh yes, you get what you pay for), some Total Hippie(tm) cherry vanilla yogurt (it's gluten- and gelatin-free!) and an apple...provided that I can actually eat all of that. If you really want to change your diet, just get sick.

I can see myself falling into this pattern, and it troubles me. Getting a cheap but undernourishing vegetarian TV dinner, some yogurt and/or fruit, some chips for lunch every day is not the way I want to go. For one thing, it's lazy. I had everything I need to make a pretty decent sandwich, at least, or a batch of beans and rice, but I didn't. Granted, I'm sick right now, but chances are all the food I bought is going to go bad before I get around to eating it.

The consistent struggle with a multitude of problems -- the food, the writing, the meditation -- can be linked to one major problem: the fact that I'm a morning person. When I get home in the evening, a *lot* of the steam's already run out. I thought shifting my work day to earlier would alleviate this, but apparently it hasn't. There are some benefits, to be sure, but it hasn't been working out nearly as well as I thought it would. Truth be told, I would rather be doing a lot of my stuff earlier in the day but I simply don't have the time to do it. I have to roll out of bed, get dressed, and catch the bus in.

I think in order for me to actually plan out my diet for the day, to prepare for it properly, I'm going to need more time. This means either getting up even earlier for my shift (which would be problematic all on its own) or requesting that my shift be changed back, which is the best option. I'm sure this will make [livejournal.com profile] toob delighted. ;)

Alas, it's going to take a little while for the changes to be in effect, unless Lamarr wants to take the early shift right now. It's something I'll have to talk about with a couple of people. But I think it's doable.
jakebe: (Thoughtful)
Time: 30 minutes
Distance: 2.67 miles
Speed: 6.2 mph
Calories: 272

Work so far this week has been an exercise in coping. There has been a gauntlet of things to get through since I've been back, and new things keep popping up all the time to distract me. It's like running a hurdle race where the hurdles keep changing distance, springing up and sinking back down randomly. It's not so bad as all that, but if I can't grumble a little in my journal, where else can I do it?

Anyway, things are mostly caught up on the work front, so I can actually devote most of my attention to those small fires that spring up throughout the day. There are a few things consistently going wrong, at least, so I can work around them pretty easily. I don't know how specific I should get, because I could get *really* detailed, breaking confidentiality and (more importantly) boring the pants off of people.

In other news, the 2008 Iowa caucases are in the bag. With most of the precincts reporting in at this point, Obama is projected to win the Democratic delegates with 38% of the vote and Huckabee is taking the Republican ticket with 34% of the vote. This is both good and bad news.

I'm no political analyst, so I'm not exactly sure how much stock to put into the results here. However, it's worth noting that the Dems are posting a turnout of 240,000 while the Republican numbers are around 125,000. This means that more people in Iowa voted for Barack Obama than they did for Mike Huckabee. If Obama can get that kind of thing in white-bread Iowa, then it's a huge feather in his cap. Imagine what he can do in other parts of the country!

I lived in Arkansas while Huckabee was governor, and I have to say it makes me pretty worried that he's gathering so much steam in the GOP. Truth be told he wasn't the worst governor ever, but he was quite firmly a conservative hypocrite who fostered a good ol' boy network in the state. The kinds of people who voted for Huckabee are also the kinds of people who are responsible for the explosion of megachurches and gated communities all over northwest Arkansas. The idea that he might carry the party just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. This primary is the best chance other Republicans have of wresting control of their party away from the religious right. Huckabee is definitely a step in the wrong direction. I'm not saying vote for Guiliani or anything, but...damn.

Are there any conservatives reading this? Who are you voting for, and why?

There's also a fairly big storm coming through the Bay area starting tonight and stretching on into Sunday. I think we'll be just fine, here, but I'm tempted to stock up on a few supplies just in case. The only flashlight I have are the small LEDs that attach to my keychain, but I'm sure everyone else has a lot more. And we have quite a few candles, should the power go out. It's enough to read a book by, but I'm not sure it's enough to cook a can of chili.

Happy birthday, [livejournal.com profile] brokkentwolf! I would try to roll you, but perhaps you will settle for lapinic frolicking instead. :)
jakebe: (Work)
Nothing's more embarrassing than being told by your boss that you've held a lead position for two months, and it's obvious that you haven't realized it. Ooops.

I'll start off the New Year being more in charge, I swear. :)
jakebe: (Flower Bunny)
I'm grateful for comfort food, today. Right now we have a fridge full of the all-time greats -- cold turkey, mashed potatoes, apple pie, and pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. The holidays have arrived in full force, much to my joy.

Today Ryan and I watched a couple of movies, played a video game or two, rested up and just enjoyed each other's company. Right now he's sleeping on the couch while I type, poor dear, because his back is giving him a spot of trouble. These extra two days were just what we needed to take it easy for a few days without worrying about getting right back into the grind.

My personal grind has been a little stressful as of late; I've taken on a new position at work that basically means a bit more responsibility for the same pay. I don't mind this, but I'm really starting to feel the sting of being a contractor for a large corporate company. I miss the less rigid structure of the small company, and I might return to it once my contact is up next June. Anyway, my schedule's changed so that I'm getting up before 6 every morning to open up the place where all of the real employees come to get their perks and mail stuff off. We're a nexus for a bunch of different departments in the company. It's pretty neat, even if there's a lot to keep track of.

My coworker and friend is off to another department now that he's trained me, and his presence is definitely missed; he makes the job look easier than it is because he's that good. It sucks that he's going but he's in a better place now, where he can chase butterflies through waving emerald fields as much as he likes.

Well, at least he can take breaks and lunches whenever. ;)

Anyway, I'm learning the ropes in the position right in time for the holiday shipping season, which is ungodly busy. The work has been ramping up steadily the past couple weeks, and I had my first jaw-droppingly stressful day earlier this week. I've known this for a long time, but I really don't deal with stress well. I have to get better at being relatively unflappable; or else all of those corporate employees will just eat me alive. They can sense weakness, you know. They taste fear in the air.

Other areas are faring pretty well. I've gotten a semi-regular writing practice, though it's still not to the point where I'm writing every day. Well, I *am* writing every day, but I'm not working on stuff that is meant for public consumption every day. There, that sounds better. :) I'm rather pleased with the way it's been going; the story I'm working on has been flowing pretty naturally, and while I do hit snags occasionally and some editing will almost certainly be necessary I don't feel like it's a monumental waste of time and words. It's not Shakespeare, and most of you will never, ever read it, but still...it feels good to get out.

My D+D game is on a small hiatus while one player is out of town, which is fine; it gives me time to work out a few of the kinks in the story so far. It's really involved work, but it's been an absolute joy to do; my players are good, I think they're engaged in the situation and their characters, and I really love the world that I'm writing in. I'm already germinating ideas for other modes of storytelling; a possible comic book, a collection of short stories, that sort of thing. We'll see whether any of that goes anywhere sometime soon. :)

Right now, though, it's time for a cup of tea and the second half of a movie. Tomorrow I run, I promise.
jakebe: (Gummi Bear/Geekery)
Time: 25 minutes
Distance: 2.14 miles
Speed: 6.2 mph
Calories: 214

Today I'm grateful for solitude. I've been taking a little time out to myself recently, and it's helping with my mood and perspective by leaps and bounds. I'm able to think a bit more clearly, be more considerate of others, and get on top of things I've always been meaning to. Unfortunately, being a regular contributor of this journal is still elusive at best.

There's no way to say "I need space," it seems, without offending someone, or causing them to think there's a problem. Of course, there's also the possibility that I haven't been using my time alone wisely until now; a lot of the time I'll use free space to talk to folks online, where I'll quickly become overwhelmed again. No offense to all of my Net-friends, because I love seeing you, but I really have to learn the trick of making alone time *actual* alone time.

Anyway, today after running with [livejournal.com profile] mut I took a bit of time alone to stretch and shower. Instead of thinking about all of the projects I wanted to do (and am making snail's progress on) or social things I have to do, I just...stretched and showered. I noticed the ceiling while lying on the floor. I paid attention to the way my muscles tensed and pulled (I seem to have significantly tighter muscles on my left side; I'm wondering if there's any reason for that...I am right-brained for starters). I enjoyed being wet, and the scratch of the shower scrunchie on my skin. Even that practice, for 15 minutes, was enough to make me feel loads better.

Today I worked from open to close, from 6:45 am to 6:00 pm. Our fearless leader tried to come in after a wisdom tooth extraction and just couldn't hang. I can't blame her; I likely would have taken a four-day weekend for something like that. But she's a trooper; she's the mother of three children and her husband works, too. She's a pretty tough lady.

The day wasn't bad, though I can tell it's the holiday season without a doubt. :) I'm working in the Service Center right now, which if you didn't know is a special place where all of the real Adobe employees get information and quite a few of their sweet perks. But I'm not disgruntled, no sir. I'll take my meager pay and no vacation or sick leave and be happy, mm-hmm. ;)

I'm getting a lot more comfortable in the position, though, and that's what counts. Now that I'm not stressing over how to do the job properly, I can actually focus on getting to know the people who walk in.

There are other things I'd like to talk about, but they will have to wait until tomorrow. :)
jakebe: (Default)
Thanks to a couple of throwaway comments the blue fox made to me this morning, I've been learning about all sorts of interesting linguistic stuffs. Like the accusative case. Apparently we don't have one of these in English any more. We've also lost the dative case, though it survives tenaciously in a few dark corners of the language.

"Methinks," for example, which basically means "it seems to me." "Me" is the dative form of "I," while "think" is a sort of cousin of "seem" in old English. That's...damned cool. It makes me want to use the word as an indirect "Save the Dative Case!" rally, but I don't think I could get away with it without sounding like a complete and utter yutz.

Work is mostly fine, though there are a few causes for worry and/or frustration. Perhaps it's because I've applied (and interviewed!) somewhere else, and I've been waiting for an answer about that all week, but this week in particular has been very difficult to get through. The acres of cookbooks and the crush of personnel and operations changes might have something to do with that, though.

Writing has stalled yet again, and I've been trying to find ways to get it going again. There are things that are definitely killing momentum, and a great deal of them are directly my fault. Time, alas, doesn't quite permit me to go into what they are, but...I need to have a stronger willpower than I do, let's say.

I'm trying continually to be more present. Part of this is training for my prospective job, which requires a professional and courteous demeanor at all times. It's forced me to pay attention to how I interact with customers at Bookbuyers, especially in the afternoons and evenings, when I'm more likely to be tired and a bit less careful. Attempting to be perpetually present is also *really* helpful when I'm taking on new projects; actively willing myself to shed the mental baggage of a particularly trying job (like, say, packing about two hundred cookbooks onto an already full shelf) makes each new job easier to deal with. Even if it's essentially the same thing (putting too many new books in an already full space), it feels like I'm coming at it for the first time. Which makes it easier to focus on, say, getting the job done. It makes a difficult day significantly better.

Still, I'm being a horrid Buddhist in all sorts of ways. I can't seem to get around to meditating every day, even for five and ten minutes. When I remember, I try to make walking to and from bus stops a sort of kinhin, but just sitting is something I always have trouble with. Again, the willpower comes in. I just don't have it. And I don't think I've stumbled upon a successful way of acquiring it. I don't want help with it, because...well, I should be responsible for my own improvement, right? It's kind of cheating relying on others to force me into being a better person. I'm starting to think about 'solidifying' my practice in some way, either by joining a sangha or taking the precepts personally (which would mean...well, nothing, but being more mindful), or...something.

Now, work.
jakebe: (Default)
I thought I would be able to get some writing done tonight, but for whatever reason it hasn't quite worked out that way. So here I am, posting in LiveJournal instead!

Personally, there's a bit of frustration with myself; it's nothing new, which is perhaps the most frustrating thing of all. I am learning and growing and changing, of course, but a lot of my worst habits are still here. I knew this would happen when I moved to California; despite the new setting, wherever I go, there I am, and I'd be fighting many of the same old battles I've been fighting for years now.

That's not to say the battles aren't being won, here and there, slowly but surely. It's just not happening at a rate I would like to see. :) Ah well, beggars can't be choosers.

One of the things that have helped me immensely recently is simply being aware that everything I do throughout the day is a choice I make. A lot of things I do merely from habit. I get up, I stumble to my computer, I check my e-mail and LiveJournal. These are choices that I make. Unfortunately, they're choices I've made so often in the past that I no longer have to be aware I'm making them. The basic form of consciousness is all that's required, and motor memory does the rest. ;) It's difficult to remember, especially in those first few minutes of being awake, that there's always the choice to spend my time in a way that makes me feel better afterwards, and on those days when I manage it, that's a good thing. More often than not, however, sloth wins out.

Work is...well, work, and I'm facing a small dilemma with that.

I work at a used bookstore. As with any retail position, especially one that's as dependent on customer influence as ours is, there's a great deal of change. That I can handle to a fair degree; I like to consider myself pretty flexible, able to roll with the punches as they come.

Since the promotion to General Buyer, however, there's been a never-ending series of crises and protocol changes that makes it very difficult to find footing in my position. One week, someone needs to take off. The next, a new hire says he can't shelve any books on doctor's orders; the next, another worker gets stricken with debilitating allergies and misses quite a bit of time; the next, it's announced that there's going to be a massive personnel shift to accomodate an important person being moved to the online operation; the next, it's determined that we'll add a day in which we buy books from the general public; the next, it'll be something else, and so forth and so on. There's hardly been a week where the crew hasn't had to deal with some significant interruption or change in how things are operated.

The boss seems to think all of this change is necessary for the business to stay viable, and I don't disagree. I simply think we'd be able to implement it better once we get ourselves on a solid footing first. The online operation, according to him, has to meet a certain goal in one or two months, or else we'll be in serious trouble. The bookstore might not live to see another year kind of trouble.

Nonetheless, I love the job, I love the work I do, I love the people I do it with, even when they're flaky, and illness- and injury-prone. :) And while I love variation in my work, I don't love the ever-increasing workload (it feels something like a "competency tax") and especially the shifting schedule that might be coming my way this summer.

So, there's an opportunity to get a job at another company. There are several advantages: while it won't have anything to do with books, it requires strong customer service and communication skills, which I have in spades. It's with a fairly large computer company, so there's no danger in suddenly being out of a job because the business has gone under...at least not anytime soon. Two close friends work for the same company, one of them in the exact same position, so there's no worries about 'fitting in'. And the job provides ample opportunity to learn a very different range of skill sets, both as part of the position and in 'downtime' I might have.

Down side? It pays a dollar less, at least initially. It's more-or-less a contract position, meaning I'd have to...re-apply every year. It's in a corporate environment, which I have no experience for, and...well, it feels like I'm joining the drones a little bit.

So, chaos for the sake of staying with what I know, or change and upheaval for something more stable but...significantly different? Every time I think I've made up my mind, something comes along to bring it all into question again.

I suppose I am counting my chickens before they hatch; I go in for an interview on Monday, and I likely won't know whether or not I really *have* a dilemma until later next week. Er, wish me luck. Whatever that means.

Day Three

Feb. 23rd, 2007 05:43 pm
jakebe: (zen-coyote)
The craving for sweets has mainly surfaced as a need to buy *something*; usually I have a cookie or cinnamon bun with my coffe, or chocolate as a small reward for getting something on my 'to-do' list done. Without these small bribes to myself to rely on I've been a little unfocused and lethargic at work. It's interesting to note, actually, that I had somehow managed to turn my addiction to sweets into an impetus to work hard. :)

I've been trying to shift other foods into the snacky realm that cookies had once occupied, but those mini-boxes of raisins are already starting to lose their effect. ("These would be so much better if they were covered in chocolate," I always think to myself.) Mostly, I've been trying to think of ways around my self-imposed abstinence; stuff like banana bread and carrot loafs are technically baked goods, so they can't really be considered sweets. So far I've managed to dodge the moral grey area, but who knows how long I'll hold on. I've compromised a bit and had a croissant with butter and a little single-serving packet of strawberry jam.

Speaking of work, things are going pretty smoothly. I had my first buyer's meeting yesterday, and we spent the entire 90 minutes interviewing a person for my music dept. position and shooting the breeze about various projects that are in various stages of completion, and our repositioning the jobs into distinct 'teams'. It's a far cry from the cigars and single-malt Scotch I had been envisioning, to be sure. It also left me with only 20 minutes for lunch/dinner before I had to take the register. Grr!

Van Lear Rose by Loretta Lynn is a fantastic album, and don't let anyone tell you differently. :)

Writing is coming along! I was planning to spend my lunch hour getting in my minimum quota, but for various reasons (read: falling into the Teen Titans graphic novels instead) that didn't happen. I'll have to be extra-vigilant about getting the writing done at home instead, which shouldn't be too big a deal. I still have a lot of the story to write if I want to have it done anywhere close to Monday, and I haven't even started on the homework that's been assigned for it. But I work best under the pressure of a deadline. Really. *twitch*

Minigolf tonight, the first game of the new year! Wheee! :D

Day One

Feb. 21st, 2007 01:53 pm
jakebe: (Default)
Happy Ash Wednesday, everyone!

For the next 40 days or so, I'll be abstaining from a good majority of sweets; this includes all cookies and cookie-like confections, most chocolates and fatty desserts, and fruit-based gelatinous candies. I might make the occasional exception for a fruity pastry or something once a week. In place of all the cookies and such I normally eat, I was thinking of learning about what sort of fruit is in season this time of year and stocking up on dried raisins and cranberries, that sort of thing. Also, microwave popcorn is your friend when you can't have Twix. :9

Ryan suggested that I not only focus on the abstinence part of spirituality (because you have to admit, that's the part that gets the most press) and try to replace any negative activity I give up with a positive habit. I like the idea, so I'm making a pledge to write at least 500 words every day throughout Lent's entirety. I figure if I manage to keep up with this, I'll finally start hacking away at all the backlog for stories I've got building up!

Last night we had beans and rice and ground beef for dinner, in honor of Mardi Gras. It was pretty good stuff, especially when paired with Key Lime pie. Yum!

Work is being worky; I'm slowly settling in to the whole promotion thing. Everything officially switches over on March 1st, and after that I have no idea what it is I'll actually be doing. They're hiring a full-time music person to replace me, so I assume I'll go back to shelving books at least some of the time. Non-fiction paperbacks would be a great section to start in with, since it's pretty much the entire bookstore in miniature. And, according to the fellow who'll be leaving that section up for grabs on March 1st, it's one of the best sections in the store!

Still working through Mark Twain's Letters from the Earth. Between all the writing and TV watching and (admittedly) online socializing I haven't had much time to read; usually what I get is the bus ride to work and back. This is another reason I haven't been biking very much to work. It's productive time, but it leaves a bit to be desired as far as exercise goes. I might take up running again to fill in the gap, along with stretching exercises and crunches and the like. How hard can that be?

Anyway, Twain is really impressive in almost every topic he takes on. He's got the gift of gab, that's for sure. ;) I'm really curious about the circumstances surrounding his complete dismantling of the writing of James Fenimore Cooper (The Last of the Mohicans). One minute he's writing down a bedtime dialogue between himself and his daughters, the next he's just tearing this guy apart. What gives?

Today I was on phone duty when I got a call from a UPS guy in the back; they tend to call when they make deliveries so they can be let in. The guy had a package, specifically sent for me at my work address. Buh? I sign off on it, tear it open right there in the hallway and lo and behold, it's a wine-tasting kit thing from [livejournal.com profile] theottsel! It's a mucho-awesome surprise, I can't wait to get home and try it out. :D Thanks a lot, you!

Today's creepy message from the mini-box of SunMaid raisins I've been snacking on: "A handful of raisins is like a bunch of smiles in your mouth." For some reason, imagining this reminds me of Sprite's Sublymonal advertising campaign. Don't ask me why.

The Oscars are Sunday! Wow, that snuck up on me. This'll be my first Oscars away from Arkansas (*sniff*), so I'll be thinking of Virginia and crew a lot this weekend. I have my theories about who'll win and why, and if I can manage before the envelopes are opened I'll put them up. The Best Picture race should be really interesting; there's nothing that really jumps out from the pack, buzzwise. You can knock a few out of the race by process of elimination (Little Miss Sunshine?, but at least three films have a legitimate shot of taking it.

Oh! Speaking of movies, there are new reviews up on [livejournal.com profile] 2guysreviews. Let us know what you think!
jakebe: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] toob is down south somewhere, finally getting the training he needs for his new job. I've been missing him lots since Sunday, and I'll be *very* happy to have him back tomorrow. :D Ahhhh, Lost and Heroes on Friday night with the best otta in the world. :D :D

[livejournal.com profile] dnapalmhead came over on Sunday and crashed for a few days, post-insano refinery job. It was really great to hang out with him for a while, catch up and chat and everything. He showed me City of God, I showed him Pleasantville, both knocking a hit for our fave movies. He also showed me "Tyrannosaurus Debt," which I had never seen. Anthropomorphizing the national debt is a fabulous idea, especially under this administration. It's growing out of control! ;D

Tuesday night we had dinner with Duncan at an Indian buffet. It wasn't bad food, actually, but the wine left a lot to be desired. To compensate we bought *more* wine and chatted up until late in the evening. Wednesday DNA ninja-vanished for all parts easterly (aww!) and we hosted a poker night at our place that night. [livejournal.com profile] seamusyote ended up taking both tables, though [livejournal.com profile] rikoshi *really* wanted that second one. Next time fox. :D

Today I finally caught up on some much-needed sleep, and I've been just bumming around for the most part. It's the first bit of downtime I've had in a little bit, so I think I'll enjoy it by being totally slothful.

At work, I told the asst. manager that I couldn't afford to keep working there for the pay I was getting, and she told the big boss, who either feigned ignorance and completely forgot about it when I told him about it at the beginning of this week. (At this point, either one of those could be true.) Long story short, I applied for a 'promotion' that was opening at the store, and it looks like I'll definitely be getting it. The pay is a lot better (though, according to Tube, not what I *could* be getting somewhere else), and it puts me in with the actual business of a used bookstore. I'll learn how to tell a good book from a bad one, the histories of publishing companies, how to price a book for buying/trading and selling, etc. etc. Since this puts me on track to become intimately involved with the used book business, I'm kind of excited about it. We'll see how it works out.

With writing, it's been...non-existent since NaPoeWriMo ended. Well, virtually; I've been working on a bit of macrophilic fiction but haven't gotten very far, and the short story I'd like to submit to the writer's group sometime in the next month or so hasn't grown any sort of legs yet. I have one draft finished, but it's awful and only works as a foundation for what I really want to do with the story. Now that things seem to be calming down a little, I can start working on both of those finally, really getting in touch with the characters.

Lent is coming up; I just remembered thanks to a friend's tip. I don't know how people from other religions feel about non-adherents nicking their holidays and practices and rolling them up to a mish-mash of personal spirituality, but I insist on doing just that anyways. This year, I think I'll give up sweets and cookies precisely because they've become my personal vice over the past year. To replace them, I make the vow of writing every single day. Maybe I could have a personal Mardi Gras of an ice cream social/book party. :D

Because I've changed my Netflix account to be merged with Ryan's, I'm afraid I've lost my friends list. I do really enjoy using the Friends feature, but I can't just throw up a nifty page to join with folks; I have to send out each invitation via e-mail. So, if you guys could either throw up your address in a comment or just mail me directly at jakebe at g m a i l d o t c o m, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Now, to have lunch and continue touching bases with people...hooray!

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