It’s Spring Soccer Time!

Miss K is delighted that it’s soccer time again! She says she prefers spring soccer because there’s less mud. I think she’ll be learning about spring mud :) On the plus side, there’s only games, no practices, and it’s a short season. So in a few months, we’ll have played about eight games, and we’ll be done. She really enjoys being out and active. Two twenty minute halves and a ten minute mid-game show, and I can go back inside where I feel safe again.

We took the dog to the last game and he wanted to know why all these kids were pelting around and he was stuck on the leash. And they got to play with a ball! I think he was slightly offended. But there were plenty of dogs who came by and visited for sniffing. So that wasn’t all bad.

She (Miss K, not the dog) is really getting great at riding her bike, too. I may have to do my running with her on her bike so she can go further than the two houses in front of us. We’ll have to see about that.

Circle Stays Unbroken

If your circle stays unbroken, then you’re a lucky man.
‘Cause it never never never has for me.

Ronnie James Dio

High School was lit by Dio and Led Zeppelin in some personal ways. But Dio’s words at the beginning of ‘Invisible’ were a special touchstone. I had a small circle of friends, and one was dying of cancer, one was being moved by her parents to some remote Alaskan town. And me? I broke my ankle and wound up moving here to Portland. My circle was shattered. I wouldn’t meet up with any of the fragments until I found Linda in a small Idaho town (and we’re back out of contact).

Today, my circle is expanded. The obvious reason is because of the Internet (and being an adult). I have friends all over the country. People I know who would stand at my back in a knife fight. Friends here in Portland, friends in Boston. I even have friends in Anchorage. But also because the rings interlock, or your circles intertwine.

What prompts this navel gazing?

There are some people in my circles who surprise me. Sean, a friend from College who is running a gaming store in Georgia now. When I met him, I didn’t go out of my way to talk to him, or commiserate, or what I would normally consider how you “make friends.” As far as I knew, we didn’t have much in common (other than a slight geekiness) and we didn’t go out and do stuff. But every time I ran into him, about once a month or once every two months, he’d remember me, he’d be excited to see me, and we’d have some good words together. Our friendship blossomed from those seeds he planted. But I don’t know why he chose me for his dirt.

I had coffee with my friend Chris. (Chris, if you read this, I’m not asking for an explanation). Chris has some technical challenges he’s facing at work and he thinks I can solve them. You can’t swing a dead CAT5 cable without hitting a web guy, but he thinks of me. We met through Drew, who had both of us working on his stuff (more or less at different offices), but I’m not sure what makes us click like we do. Yet, when he drives to town from Las Vegas, he wants to visit and chat. Sometimes it feels a little strange; why does Chris trust my judgement? What is in our songs that make them harmonize?

I have a bunch of terrific friends. Some, I can see the road to where we became friends (Erich, David T. David D., my usual crew) and some, the road comes up from a foggy dell, Chris B, Sean. Some are combinations of those (Matthew). I don’t appreciate any of them enaough. But the circle, if you want to call it that, isn’t really round, or even contiguous any more. It’s more like a fishing net with a bunch of holes in the pattern (no, I mean, a net should be regular but this net isn’t, not the normal holes in a net, don’t over analyze that analogy).

Spring escape!

Today is Saturday of Spring Break, the last weekend. And today, we escaped to Newport for the day. We got into town about noon and had lunch at Mo’s in the historic waterfront. Then, off to the aquarium. Yeah, kind of expensive this time of year, with taxes right here right now. But listening to the ooh and the aahs of the girls over everything from the turkey vulture to the sea lions, it was worth it.

We also walked along Beverly Beach with the dog. He loved it and kept trying to run in the sand. He didn’t like the waves much, they were large. It was windy, cold and wet, just like we expected.

We broke with our usual food and tried dinner at the buffet at chinook winds in Lincoln city. Never again. The smoke was too thick and we couldn’t taste the food. It was awful. Food selections were sub par.

A great day. We should do it again sometime.

March into Depression

I think I hate March.

March is the tail end of winter, and it is usually cold and wet. It’s the end of the dark days and you’d think with the equinox, that we’d be happier about the days being longer than the nights. But it’s cold, wet and Eugene had six inches of snow. It having been so dark and gloomy, inspiration for creating new things and building up on old things is at a low point. It’s hard to go into work, hard to talk to clients, even hard to pay bills.

On the plus side, I saw daffodils in the side yard this weekend. The dog seems to be feeling better. The kids are definitely feeling better; they’ve had colds for a few days and Miss B even had a fever.

A few months ago, running in the rain was a badge of courage. Today, it’s a badge of insanity. It’s cold, wet, and the raindrops are little frozen needles banging you in the face.

Spring break is next week, and I hope they find something fun to do. Any suggestions?

A Shirt With A Provenance

I’ll have to post a picture of this great shirt I got for my birthday. My moms know that I enjoy bright Hawaiian shirts and went out of their way when they were in Hawaii to get me one. They bought it from someone who sells “used” shirts, collector’s items. I have no problem with this because I usually tell people to get me one from Goodwill — what I want is some bright thing of color I can wear and that’ll look stylish over my large belly and above my shorts and sandals. Or above my jeans. The brighter the better – I’ve learned that I don’t need to restrict my bright color wear to only SCA events.

So they bought me a shirt that normally sells for about $150, but it was used, so it was nowhere near that. That’s more than my running shoes. Even used, that’s more than any four pieces of my wardrobe. And it’s a collector’s item. This shirt has a provenance, like something you’d see at an antique store. But on the other hand, it’s a seriously cool shirt and I can’t wait to feel it on my body.

I can’t even wear my $30 silk shirt without worrying about dumping something on it. This is probably residue of a job interview I had at Pacific Coast Fruit a million and a half years ago, where I stopped at the Day Care and collected a good luck hug from Ms B that came with a mouthful of ketchup all over my white shirt. I got the job anyway- Don must have been blind.

What else did I get for my birthday? My friends Rachel and Bob got me a shirt from Woot and a fantastic watch/heart monitor thing that will be interesting to use on my runs. My family got me some t-shirts, a copy of The Wise Man’s Fear, and some shorts. And David showed up with some beer! It was a great birthday.

The Thespinator

Miss B is enjoying the Pirates of Penzance. That is to say, with her foray into High School, she’s taken the stage with their production team and she’s playing in the theater.

I’m beside myself with glee, and pride. But mostly, happy she’s doing something she enjoys. I figure that the more extracurricular activities she gets, the more involved she gets, the more she’ll get out of High School. Also, the more she does stuff “outside her head,” maybe the more she’ll feel like doing that when she’s an adult too.

It’s hard though, not seeing so much of her. She’s gone in the mornings to go to school, and now that we’re in the final week before performances, she’s at school until 9pm. When she comes home and does her homework and goes to bed (because she’s just a little worn out.) So, happy and also sad.

Just like the theater masks!

A Lone Extrovert

Being a good parent for Miss K is challenging. She likes to talk to people, she likes to play with people. She loves being outside and playing. She does not like being left alone, entertaining herself, or solo pursuits like coloring in her room.

I, on the other hand, as well as Ms B, want to be left alone when we come home from work. We’re “all peopled out.” And while Miss B is fine with that and happy to entertain herself, and fly under our radar, Miss K comes into the kitchen to talk to me, or runs around with the puppy in the house, yelling at the top of her lungs. She plays soccer in the living room, hoping someone will play with her. She wants to go to the store with me, or wherever I happen to be going.

When I come home I need to shift my focus and give her some company. She’s like the puppy – if I leave her alone, I’m sure she’ll turn to destructive behavior and chew something up. And then I need to keep in mind that she’ll go to bed at about 9 when she gets tired, and I can have some quiet time then. But without that shift and that reframing, I get pretty grumpy when I have to talk to people. Even a delightfully engaged (and engaging) seven year old.

Running Butt-Sniffing

I’ve recently decided that it’s ok to talk about myself as a “Runner.” I mean, really- I’m running three times most weeks, I have a goal of 500 miles in 2012 (which is totally doable if I can keep my average above 10 miles a week or 3.5 miles a run). And one of the guys in the office said that he’s a runner too.

There’s this thing we nerds do, establishing credentials, I call it “Technical Butt-Sniffing.” It usually sounds like “I develop web sites with PHP and MySQL” and then the other nerd says “Oh, really, have you heard of Rails?” and the first nerd says “Yeah, it’s ok but can be a pain to deploy for the first time to a shared host” and then they laugh together because they both have an idea of the other nerd’s aptitude. If you’re not following the analogy, it’s like dogs meeting at the park. You can see the process play out in every social group.

So, back to running. One of the guys in the office said “Oh, really? I’m a runner too!” and then … I’m at a loss. I read running blogs or websites and I don’t really know how to talk to another runner. And I had to stop myself. The first questions out of my mouth were “Oh, really, how far do you run? How fast do you go?” Because those are the questions I ask myself (for the record, about 3-5 miles per run, about 11 minutes per mile). But those are also judgement-laden questions. I don’t really care how far or fast he runs, I just want to have a conversation about running and our shared experience of, you know, putting our feet to the ground in some careful pattern of broken falling.

So I stopped him, and said that. I said “You know, I don’t really care how fast or far you run, but I do want to establish this rapport. What questions do I ask to make a conversation, so that we can talk about this?” And he responded with “Why do you run?” which is a great question. Also a great butt-sniffing question. So I asked him, why he runs. He runs because he can do it right after work and it works out great for him. Another guy in the office runs because he hates any other form of exercise. And we could all talk about that. (I run mostly because I’m cheap and running I can do with shoes and anywhere.)

What if other conversation-starters did that? “I build websites with PHP and MySQL?” “Oh really, why do you build websites?” It sounds much less like you’re passing judgement. Pretty nice, huh?

Couldn’t Happen To Me

Well, that was a mistake.

I’m pretty lax on “card security.” I order a lot of things online and I use my debit card in lots of places. I suppose that’s going to have to change; I went to balance my checkbook today and found $250 in fraudulent charges originating in Canada.

I’ve never even been to Montreal!

After a ten minute stress-filled call to Keybank, the card’s been cancelled, the charges have been disputed (and the phone operator was very helpful about specifying which charges I disputed. Guy, seriously, anything in Canada? It’s fraud!). I have to file a police report. And in 10 business days or so, I’ll “probably” get my money back. They even denied one $250 charge, although I’m not sure why Key let the others through.

I’m not sure where the numbers leaked. It’s possible, though unlikely, that whomever stole the numbers also stole other personal info and opened an account somewhere else. I have to contact the credit report places and put an alert of some sort on that thing too.

What a pain in the patootie. But it could have been much worse.