Acting Up

My musings, thoughts, rants, and discoveries. - Scott Maddock

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Location: Redmond, Washington, U.S. Inc. (Formerly U.S.A.)

Back to Blogging

I haven't blogged here since 2012. Why am I making a stab at it again?

I realized two things about social media I wanted to get away from. First was that I was often using it as a journal, which is boring and maybe TMI for those platforms. Secondly I was using it too much for my taste, so that I felt like a tool for marketers rather than using social media as a tool for my ends.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bring It On ... Uh, Later!

It's kind of funny. When I start writing on one project it gets me going on other writing projects. I watched Bridge to Terabithia this weekend, and it got me rolling on a story I'd started at least ten years ago. A similar setup to the movie I'd just watched, though I don't intend to kill off a principal. It's a different exploration from the movie, but similar in framework. Now, that somehow charged me on several other projects which need some attention.

I'm thinking about the other stories, three in particularly. What is interesting about this for me is the one I just started is a novel format. I'm still more focused on scripts overall. I've noticed my writing has changed the last several years. I think the same is true for a non-script format. My narrative is more action driven and tighter. When I use imagery, which I like doing, I pick one image which will convey what I am looking for and move forward. More confidence I suppose, in both myself and the reader. I like to think it is better writing, and if my nephews want to read it and don't think it sucks that will be pretty telling.

All said and done, I had a languorous weekend. A few small errands, and relaxing. I still got some work done, mowing the lawn and making some inroads on cleaning up inside the house. I didn't burn myself out, so the ball keeps rolling. It is getting continually easier to throw things out, and I'm contemplating renting a dumpster before the nice weather is over. Especially if I can include (mildly) hazardous waste. There's old gas driven garden equipment and electronics I'd love to get rid of. It really is getting a little ridiculous. I used to have 4 different recycle bins, now I'm down to two (which is a bit of improvement), one for lawn and garden waste, the other for plastics, papers, and metals. Being able to simply toss everything to go in a single bin would be great.

I've no sympathy for our waste management company. They're subsidized crooks. When someone set up a small collection service for construction sites they had their pawns in the county prosecutors office make up some bizarre charges to shut down the service to enforce their monopoly in an area which wasn't covered in the contract. Waste Management weren't even losing the business entirely, as the service still had to bring it to the transfer station, but they made it easier (and cheaper) for the customer by handling the bins and pickup. So, if they can't compete in the marketplace, hire a prosecutor -- the republican way I suppose. (Yes, it was that blatant.) Meanwhile, this untouchable monopoly has hugely expensive ads. If you don't believe it watch a Mariners home game for ten minutes. What the fuck are they advertising for? It's not like we could choose a (non-mob) competitor. GRR.

Back to the languorous weekend. I didn't get a lot done, but enough that I noticed. My goal is to be able to host a group for an evening in a month, without having to move stuff around. I want the area already clean, with so I'm not simply moving clutter around. No more shoving stuff to Peter to clean Paul. You know what, I'm finding that by taking small steps I get impatient and exceed the modest quotas I set for myself. A better approach than the frenzies which burn out the cleaning module buried somewhere deep in my psyche.

Saturday Beth and I saw King Of Kong. It's billed as a documentary, and terrifically fun to watch. They play a little fast and loose with facts, and give it a bit of a reality show overtone, and in the end it's just a flat out fun and funny story. There's a debate raging in the antique video community. To them, I'd say if it bothers you so deeply you may need to get out a little more. I didn't think it was completely accurate when I watched it, nor did I care. It was simply great fun and I hope it brings in some awards. A fun story, instead of a boatload of cgi special effects which are looking progressively cheesier as our eyes learn the tricks. You know what would be hysterical? Interviewing people who have these deep feelings about the inaccuracies of this movie. The movie itself was fun because of the video game quest, and most of the humor was derived from people taking the quest too seriously.

This coming weekend I want to get more done on the house. Also, get my motorcycle running. I bought I new ignition switch, and all I need do (I hope) is install it. I'm friends with the mechanic, and he told me the trick I'll need to get out the old switch with it's breakaway screws, and gave me the extra hardware (machine screws) I'll need to install the new one. He's a nice fellow, and like me probably values courtesy above demands in business dealings. Also, I need to patch the roof. During last Winter's storm a falling branch jabbed a hole through the shingles. Luckily there was enough fir and hemlock needles that the water didn't get in the house. Now that I've cleaned those off and found the damage, I'll need to fix the hole which would have likely caused me problems this year. Somehow I don't think that was covered by the warranty. An easy fix now that I've figured out I can be comfortable on my roof. It's not too steep a slope, so my fear of heights doesn't click in too badly.

Kind of meaningless stuff here. And I don't care. No apologies from me. (Neener, neener, neener.) I'm actually rather pleased. It's fun to be running around doing cool stuff (even if you don't think it's cool, you damn Philistine). Still, a little down time is a blessing. Of course I timed it with one of the few surges at work, and didn't get to all the loafing and house work like I'd wanted, until finally after two months I'm getting around to... Nothing. So, I hope for some more weeks of inanity. Ennui. Boredom. Yeah baby!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Had a great week. Last Thursday had dinner with my friend from B.D.'s World at Bamiyan for Afghani cuisine. Terrific food, and a little pricey. Our waiter was terrific as well, and reminded me of Serge, but was many times better in every way. He made you smile. I don't see how you could not enjoy your time there.

Friday was a short day, not by much. Enough to get out of the office early and be on the road for a short vacation with the family at the Duckabush river, adjacent to the Olympic National Park. It was a beautiful night, the Milky Way standing out as though it had been lightly spray painted on the heavens. I watched for meteors as I waited for sleep on the deck. It was a short wait, but I still saw some shooting stars which left short lived glowing trails across the ebony sky.

The next day I had to run into town to pick up a sleeping bag. In my packing I forgot that last trip into the house and made do the first night with some blankets which the family's owning shares of the cabin keep up there. The first little burg, Hoodsport didn't seem to have any so on to Shelton. A lovely drive along Hood Canal. All the old dry goods places in Shelton are vacant. Two streets of nice local businesses put out of business by WalMart. I did all my other shopping but still had to go to WalMart or spend another couple hours on the road to get sleeping bags.

Second, maybe third time in my life in one of those cesspits. Why is it most of the customers look to be morbidly obese or underweight. Something about the place gives me the feeling I'd imagine a crack house would give you, though that is thankfully a simile born in ignorance of the latter. One thing that I can say for sure, is the fumes emanating from cheap plastics gave me a ripping headache. I kept the visit short and managed to get out of there pretty quickly. Hopefully that will be the only time this millenium -- next time I'll make the two hour drive.

After the beautiful Friday evening, the steel barometer running the length of my tibia told me foul weather was likely on it's way. Yup, my second vacation this Summer, and the second one enjoying myself in the rain. It cleared up as I was packing Tuesday afternoon.

Don't think I didn't have a great time. I had a blast. My sister's family, two of my step sibling families, and majority representation of the other step sibling familyies were all there. It was great seeing them, and even greater to see the nieces and nephews. Reading, playing, talking with infants to adults. It wasn't long ago I dreaded having kids bring me books to read. Now it is a dream come true. I even bring my own books. They were in a cloth shopping bag on the floor, and it wasn't long. It was quite a surprise though it should have been obvious kids would see them before I broke them out. We all knew we were having fun -- I brought along books and they brought them to me. I think that adds a bit to the enjoyment when you know it something all are enjoying.

The older kids, three adults and one seventeen year old were great to talk to. Far ranging thoughts going to new areas for them. An exciting place to share, giving fresh perspectives on those same things for me. The biggest surprise is they came to watch their younger cousins when we were reading, and I suspect like the older adults they liked listening to Dr. Seuss too. The older adults were a little more circumspect in collecting around Dr. Seuss. I picked areas where there weren't people congregated to start reading, but they kept getting crowded after I started.

It is fun to play with voices, and I didn't hold back when other adults wandered in. That is my little personal triumph. My biggest stage fright for that kind of thing has always been with family and friends. Going on without pause or concern is a big change. One of those things you later wonder why it ever bothered you in the first place.

You know the saying, "You can choose your friends but not your family." I don't go along with that. There are any number of people I don't see in my family. My mother and her brothers, by my choice. My brother and his kids by their choice. My folks (Dad and my step mom), my sister's family, my step siblings and their families I see and stay in contact with by choice. I don't think you can attribute this to the extended step families which have become more predominate over the last fifty years, as nuclear families used to be much larger. You do get to choose your family. Of course, I don't have much of a line between family and friends, other than most of my unrelated friends don't have kids. So, I got to spend the weekend with my chosen family.

At the end of the long weekend with my chosen family my allergies started acting up. I suspected it was a result of eating a bit of food with small amounts of dairy or wheat. That was part of it, but mostly because I was coming down with a cold. Better than catching a bug at the beginning of a vacation.

I made some of my modified chicken soup (atole), but instead of okra I used diced summer squash and I mad a lot for those nights when there was food I needed to avoid. The nephews and nieces were cautious. Habanero, red/yellow bell peppers, and squash didn't sound appetizing to them. Well the pepper's bite mostly disappears in the process as it is part of the stock. It was a hit, and didn't have anywhere near the leftovers I expected. Then they kept getting bowls for hefty snacks the rest of the vacation. I brought some black bean soup as a back up for them, but it got ruined during the reheat. It was frozen and while thawing it burnt so badly it tasted like charcoal briquettes, and I was worried people would have to make special meals for the fussier eaters. No need to have been worried.

I had a great time, one of those gatherings where you get to spend a little time with everyone there, and are happy to see them all. I think the younger nephews and nieces were glad of the adult companionship. Some weren't sure what to make of me, but after watching their cousins they relaxed very quickly, realizing silly voices mean play. It is fun for me, and fun for them to have someone who doesn't have to focus on their own kids, and who crave the older people to connect with for a while.

I did feel badly at one point, but quick enough to fix the situation. When the first of the families were leaving, we were steeped int the ritual of packing the car and saying goodbye's for 15-30 minutes. It does go on a bit, but is still fun. My stepbrother Kevin was heading out and one of the younger nephews was acting out a bit, so I distracted him with a couple simple stage combat moves, to keep his boredom from getting the better of him. Before I knew it, I had pretty much all the kids and most of the adults focused on how to make it look like you were punching someone in the face or nailing them in the groin in a safe way. As soon as I realized I'd totally drawn focus, I stepped aside to say so long to Kevin, and the kids were left to their own devices while we finished up our goodbye's and the kids joined in again as they really started to leave. Aside from my embarrassment I think it worked out well, and kept a nephew or two from getting time outs while their Uncle Kevin was leaving.

Tuesday afternoon I packed in the early afternoon to head home. I like to get home with time to relax and get a good night's rest before returning to the grind. I did just that and got to work mostly relaxed on Wednesday. You know, there was something that irritated me that day, but quickly seemed humorous and now I can't even remember what it was. It's beginning to feel like I'm getting back to normal. Maybe my next vacation (in just 2 weeks!) will actually have sun filled skies. I'm going to try going up to Canada again. This time I'll be more sedentary. That is, I'll have one destination and spend some time writing. More if the weather prevents kayaking or horseback riding.

I remembered my irritating, then humorous event. I was drinking my morning coffee, which is black as Satan's waistcoat. (I don't really picture that simile, but I've always liked the sound of it.) On the last sip I felt something non-liquid. Like a bit of jello skin and as I'm spitting back into the cup I'm thinking, "Now where would that come from? I don't add anything to my espresso, and it certainly doesn't have time to form a skin. Besides there's no dairy. Ewww!" It was an earwig. Spit. Spit. Spit. How did it get in there? All I could think of was the hole in the spout of the holder for the little metal sieve. Well I learned something. Earwigs have soft shells. Because of the scary looking pincer arrangement on the tail I'd always assumed they'd be hard shelled. Nope. They're pretty soft, at least when they're cooked.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Cuppa Two

Not many real political ravings lately. I got to a point where I felt like it has all been said. Unlike the paid for conservative

mouthpieces, I get tired of repeating the exact same thing over an over. I did write a thank you letter to my congressman, Jay Inslee for pushing an impeachment investigation into the AG pretender Gonzales. I also wrote a letter to Speaker Pelosi, stating my feeling that the only way we can reestablish the rule of law and the constitution and our international reputation is to impeach the president and vice president. I asked her to rethink her position, as that is the only way I'll believe the democrats want to repair the damage instead of seizing the dictatorial powers the gop has been building. I told her if she doesn't have the courage to take a risky yet necessary action I will make my biggest election year donation ever. All to one person. Cindy Sheehan. I believe we need to return this country to the liberty and courage it was founded on, and thus far meekly noisy people like Pelosi, and poll followers like Clinton don't give me much hope.

There. Done for now.

When I saw No Reservations Tuesday night, even with the physical discomfort from the nasty stomach upset I was aware of a longing. The main character who is the guardian for her deceased sister's child, finally begins to connect by getting her niece involved in her work. It reminded me of my admiration of functional family businesses as a kid. Also of the fact that I don't have many like that in my life. I've never been much of a part of the lives of my nephews or nieces. The uncle that some of them like for going to plays or operas with, but not much more than that. I think I'm closer to many of the nephews and nieces from my first Stepmother, than my immediate family. Don't really know why, but I suspect it is habit. I was active duty in the Navy when they were born, so was not available. There was the start of the habit. Partly my own doing, as I've never been much for writing letters, and this was before they were on E-mail.

It's been awkward, as I try to maintain a balance in the number of invitations I extend trying to land between seeming pushy and aloof, even though I suspect the majority are simply ignored. Bottom line, I figure I probably won't ever see much of them once they're adults since I rarely see them now. I tried for a couple months to give one of my nephew's the Vanagon (without stating the intent), but couldn't get a return call. Then it occurred to me, that it wouldn't have any meaning to him, and likely would just be a junker in his eyes. It was a strange realization. I thought at the time it should cause some sadness, but I just couldn't find it.

The movie brought that back. I'd like to find someone I can share my joy of theatre with. My Dad did it for me. Then it hit me. I have. When I read and talk with the fourth graders I do just that, using books. The same with my step-nieces and nephews. I was caught in "I oughta'". "I oughta'" be doing cool uncle stuff for my nieces and nephews. My step siblings and A.G. Bell Elementary have given me that gift, as well as a few friends. I think that is the one of the biggest lessons of my forty's. Don't wait for life's bounty to arrive. Find it.

There are still those pitty-pot times when I feel like I need more friends. Now, there are also times I feel I have too many friends to keep track of. When I'm on the pitty-pot there is that balance to remind me I'm being self-indulgent in a bad way. Now I wonder why it is I thought making new friends was so daunting? Probably a fear that it wouldn't always succeed. There was a moment in time, probably 1999 when I started taking the initiative. I invited people to social gatherings, and celebrated those who came instead of fretting over the larger number who couldn't.

Having more friends, and being a mentor for young people. I do, yet I still have the longings. I think it is my hint to keep on living. Don't let inertia set in. Find life. Not wait for it.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cuppa One

I wasn't really too tired yet, so I made a pot of decaf. No sense whacking myself out to maintain my little release night tradition.

Well, this morning I tipped the bathroom scale at 206. Or rather tip-toed. Getting on the thing slowly will generally make it read a little lighter. Not what I consider a very good reading. As I did so I had a happy memory. A year ago when I was at 256, it was only due to that tip-toeing, as I didn't want to pass the 256 mark, which is a significant number for us geeks. Even worse I didn't want to creep back over 260 like I had several years ago. So, even though I don't really consider myself at the 206 mark by that scale, it does reflect a lost of fifty pounds for the last year, what I hoped for on my birthday. I was thinking I was two pounds short of the mark, so that was a nice little birthday present I gave myself.

My Dad left me a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday!" on my voice mail, and several of my friends have wished me "Happy Birthday!" Rachel and Beth, thank you again, as well as any of you who read this but haven't let on. Well, while I'm still on hiatus for a bit, the rest of you local folks who read this occasionally I'd enjoy the opportunity to catch up with you over dinner (or lunch).

So I was feeling lucky today. Monday for dinner I had some of the chicken soup I'd made the previous night. It was yummy, but I do have a note to self. "If the habanero peppers are over twice the size I used in the past, use half as many." Not unbearable by any means, but for chicken soup I like a more subtle bite. The extra pepper made the bite happen up front, instead of as a chaser. Funny it didn't seem any spicier over all, just when you notice the bite.

It was Tuesday that I felt so bad. I don't think it was the soup, as I'd had some the night before. Now I'll now for sure I guess. I think it was from having two handfuls of fresh cherries instead of one. Or maybe from overeating a bit, but I suspect the former. It felt like a toxic reaction, as my kidney areas hurt. I hated to throw out the soup I'd worked on, as I thought it especially good. Now I'll find out for sure. I'm a little nervous as I was in quite a bit of pain on Tuesday, but it is worth finding out if it was a reaction to the cherries or overeating. I've had this discomfort a few times the last few years and I want to figure out what it is for sure, so some risks are called for if it means avoiding reruns. Though in this case I lost a couple pounds, which put me at the total weight loss I hoped for today.

That was a couple hours ago, and it was as tasty as I recalled and I'm still feeling pretty good so my hopes are high. Well, it's about time for another cuppa.


It's a quiet night so far, as we upgrade Expedia. I don't have any projects going into this upgrade, so unless I'm needed for troubleshooting, it could be a laid back evening. I don't have my old officemate Fahim, whom I really miss. Here's an example. We had lunch a while back in the on site cafe with Gurmit. A Muslim, a Sikh, and a lapsed christian. The only reason it is worth mentioning is we talked of our faiths. I came away with the feeling that they very best of all three are a common thread. Sadly, the very worst of all three there is another darker common thread.

Right now in the middle east we're seeing the very worst of two of the faiths at war over oil profits, using the most vicious elements of the faiths to sustain hostilities. I expect that will always happen. Two men in the news this week show how the vile becomes part of our national identity. Murdoch and Gonzales.

Well that's a dark way to start my 50th birthday blog, even if it is working a double shift. There is a happy reason for it. I find I sometimes focus on the ruin perpetrated by such small greedy vermin. The United States may collapse in my lifetime. Without some sanity the Murdoch's and Gonzo's of the world will surely destroy the United States. Their short sighted and greedy amassing of wealth for themselves or their masters has finite limits. I mourn for what our country once was. I don't know that I'd mourn much for the loss of what it has become, rather for it's inability to recover. That (I hope) temporary lack of respect for my very nation is not what makes me happy.

What makes me happy is the human spirit. The ability to have lunch with Fahim and Gurmit, people I my government would sooner intern than listen to. We, each and every one, can and mostly do rise above our governments. It gives me hope and cheer, and as I look to what the next fifty years will bring I believe the pleasure I have had in being acquainted with these men will weigh more heavily than the reviling I feel towards our corrupt and belligerantly evil leaders. If it turns out there is a Hell, won't those sanctimonius demons be disappointed. Now, there's another happy thought.

I guess I'm feeling in a half full kind of mood. The empty half, the empty shirts and hearts destroying our country, and razing countless others are there, but today I find I'm focused on those whose life and hearts are full. Most of us, thankfully.

Well, time to start up the coffee pot.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My Eyes Too

Tomorrow I turn fifty. To celebrate? I'll be working a double-shift day for a release cycle. Luckily I'm ahead on hours this week, so that will make it kind of short, so instead of a Noon until 4am workday, I can slide in around 4pm, and make it only a 12 hour day.

I'd planned to arrange for a local park, for a barbecue and invite my friends, getting a mix of old friends, theatre co-workers (theatre geek friends), and day job co-workers (high tech geek friends). A nice eclectic mix. Haven't yet reserved a pavilion or park shelter. I tell myself it is because I want to have 50/50 party. Losing fifty years, and losing fifty pounds. I didn't figure I'd be fifty pounds lighter until the end of the month. Of course it may be a wee little tiny itsy bit of denial.

As luck would have it I woke up just before 5am on Tuesday, with a painful gut. Like someone had kicked me hard just below the belt buckle. It wasn't until after work that I felt able to more time at the desk than the porcelain throne. I even saw No Reservations (a chick flick, but I really liked it) that night without having to leave the theater, though it was mostly a matter of pride and pain. Still hurt quite a bit yesterday, and not quite right today. All that goes to explain how I accelerated the last five or six pounds so that I will actually have lost fifty pounds on my fiftieth birthday. Of course, some of that will probably come back for a while...

If it's a slow night tomorrow, I'll probably write some birthday musings.