02 January 2017

2016 A Year in Review

It's been quite a year.  The previous twelve years I've written this blog, I've been based out of Georgetown, Kentucky, and I worked at Lexmark.   I've added many things in that time: A wife, a step-son, two daughters, and 2 houses.  Through it all, I remained in Georgetown and worked at Lexmark.  As I write this, both have changed.

Set your wayback machine for Jan 1, 2016 and let's see how I got here.

January 1st saw us in Indianapolis, Indiana, with the whole crew visiting the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  The museum was great, but in the back of my mind I had a feeling of change coming.  Lexmark had put itself up for sale in October 2015, and things within were highly uncertain.  Whenever I visited a new city, I constantly asked myself: "Could I live here?"  With regards to Indy, I said, "Yes" and kept it in my mind.

When I returned to work in January, a pall hung over things.  Management was more flinty than usual, and we sound found out why.  They announced a Voluntary Reduction Program (VRP), which would close on March 1st.   If you wanted out, they'd buy you out.

What followed was a surreal period for me.  I saw many of my colleagues wrestling with staying or leaving.  As a nominal part of "leadership" I did my best to get people to stay, but my words rang hollow; my heart wasn't in it.

January became February and I had an enjoyable time with my daughters at the Her Knight Dance (a Daddy/Daughter dance at Keeneland in Lexington), then February became March and it was decision time.  Final day to sign-up.  "Go time":

  • Wife: "So, what's your decision?"
  • Me: "I feel like God wants me out of here."
  • Wife: "Well, you should probably listen to Him."
At 9am that day I was a Lexmark employee with a bright future with the company.  By 4:45pm, I'd signed and submitted my paperwork to leave.

Thereafter followed a period waiting to find out if I'd been accepted to the program.  They didn't have to take me, but they did.  I was going to be leaving and I'd need to find a new job.

From there until April Fool's Day, my last official day, things were pretty bizarre.  A few "going away" lunches, a decreasing trail of work, cleaning out my cube, and saying goodbyes.  My last day was hard, turning in my beloved MacBook Pro and all my equipment.  At the same time, I was on the job hunt.

What followed is well-chronicled in my blog.  I had two job offers almost immediately, both obtained via some personal networking.   I declined both; I still wonder if that was wise.

At the same time, a long series of events had transpired at our house at 1007 Walker Way in Georgetown.  We loved the house, but it was over 30 years old and it needed some maintenance.  In particular, we'd replaced the water heater with a tankless, gas-fired unit.  We loved that "endless hot water" feeling, but turns-out this was poison for the house, allowing granules of calcified hot water into the system.  In particular, the thirty-year-old faucet and shower in our downstairs bath became inoperable.  

Not knowing if we were moving or not, we entered into a contract in January/February to remodel the bathroom, so now we faced (A) selling the house and (B) said house not having a downstairs bathroom.  It would only get better from there.

So, as March ended, I was out of work for the first time since I'd been 19.  I didn't know it, but I wouldn't work again until July 5th, my start-date at Amazon.  I had a quarter of this year off work.  During that time:
  • Learned to love Red State BBQ in Georgetown
  • Multiple Job interviews
  • Worked on getting the house ready to sell
  • Followed-through on our Disney vacation plans
  • Trips to Austin to interview and find housing

The second half of the year is a blur of settling-in here, getting used to Austin (somewhat), and working here at Amazon.  Looking back on it, it's really amazing that all this transpired in only a year.

I'm older, fatter, grayer, balder, and generally more sallow than I was when the year began.  I sleep much more, but I don't get rest like I did in Georgetown.  I'm learning lots here at work.

What I've done this year, I've done out of obedience, with the general understanding that it wasn't for me, but for my family.  They're much healthier in a warmer, drier climate.

05 December 2016

Monday Mope

As I type this, it’s 8:44 am, and I just drove 30 minutes in 10 miles of pouring rain to start the week on 4 hours of sleep.

I went to bed about 11:30, but didn’t fall asleep until nearly 1am—very unusual for me.  Like an overtightened bolt, I felt my corners round-off just a bit yesterday, the torque warping my mind just too much to sleep.

There’s much to consider, globally, nationally, and within my own hearth.  Much I can do little about.  Globally, there keeps being more of us, and our impact on the planet worsens by the year.  Humans certainly seem less education, humane, and trustworthy than we did even 10 years ago.  Perhaps my eyes are just open to our own debauchery, my naiveté burned away like so much slag from God’s refiner’s fire.

I can’t recall Donald Trump.  I can’t unsay some of the things he’s said.  I can generally watch in horror and pinch myself every time I hear the phrase “President-Elect” attached to his name.

I’ve found myself watching lots of post-apocalyptic films from my childhood.  Stuff like the horrifying “The Day After” and the thrillers “Damnation Alley” and “By Dawns Early Light.”  Any nuclear war scenario there is too horrible to contemplate, much like a Roman of 150 A.D. likely couldn’t comprehend the Dark Ages and Germanic Conquest.  Like them, I’m not sure I’d want to survive to see the aftermath.

Theologically, I’m having tons of trouble with “The Problem of Evil” as it’s termed.  Watching those movies I mentioned reminds me that we’re still yet roughly 45 minutes away from annihilating ourselves.  Among hundreds of other atrocities we might commit, that an all-good (“omnibenevolent”) God would allow Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical weapons to exist boggles me.  We could commit planetary suicide, and God seems powerless (unwilling?) to intervene.

Perhaps that was the plan all along, to create a sentient race of beings so broken they annihilate one another.  Or, as The Bard put it:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. (Macbeth V.5)

Other evils weigh, of course, from the car crash this weekend that claimed two pillars of my hometown community to my own family’s health issues. I’ve done my share of “Why, God?” questioning in the past few weeks.

16 November 2016

Macro-Tweet: I live in Texas, now?

Some things are too long for a tweet, to short for a short-form essay.  I like to think of them like "macro-tweets."   Some have taken to posting paragraphs or even whole positions on twitter in the form of:
And so on.  That's an abuse of the platform.  Longer-form should be somewhere else.

End preamble. 

* * *

So Maria and I have abandoned swimming for the moment.  I don't know why exactly, aside from we don't have an indoor pool membership and the outdoor pool we have is rather....variable...with regard to temperature.  I went to swim about 400m with an air temp of 48 degrees back in September, and part of my body just went:  "You're nucking futs, dude."

In lieu of that, Maria and I are walking every morning.  Typically a one-mile circuit right outside our front door.  In the back of my mind, I hope we'll graduate to jogging, but for now I'm simply enjoying the time with my daughter.

We talk about many things, some mundane, some profound.  It's a simple human pleasure to talk to your family in a idle, relational way.  Being present in a moment is a struggle for me.

So, on our morning walks I had one of those things I call a "snap-back" moment.  I define that as "Being wholly present in a moment with the benefit of perspective."  I've had a few of these in my life, usually preceded by, "Holy shit!"

  • Holy shit!  I'm in college!
  • Holy shit! I'm married!
  • Holy shit! I'm a dad!
Today's "Holy shit!" moment was, "Holy shit!  I live in Texas!"

It's been a year, well a bit more.  My old company putting itself up for sale....the announcement of a voluntary exit program...the snap decision to leave that'd been coming for 7 years...unemployment...self-imposed exile in my own house...flying all over the country to find a job...selling the house...leaving our son behind....moving.

It's all unreal somehow, like some sort of dream.  Any moment, I expect to wake-up and go back to work at the only real employer I'd ever had.

Holy shit.  I live in Texas.

14 November 2016

So That Happened....Election 2016: Where Now?

Last Tuesday night was surreal.

The data all indicated that DJT had no chance in hell of becoming president.   He never polled above 42%.  Then...the returns rolled in.  The NBC anchor team already had their through-line prepped:

  • "Did he lose the election on day one, calling immigrants rapists?" 
  • "If he loses Florida or North Carolina, he's going to have a long night."
As the hours wore on, it became clear that we were at the very end of the bell curve, amid Nate Silver's 15% chance that DJT could win.  I became more and more despondent, realizing that of the two bad choices, the Chaotic Evil was going to be the electoral victor.

I don't have more to offer than the deluge of think-pieces since Wednesday morning.  Democrats are largely out of power everywhere now.  The majority of governorships, state legislatures, both houses of Congress and now POTUS are Republican.

I should be happy.  After all, I'm a (moderate) Republican.  I've disagreed with the overreach of both the Supreme Court and the Obama administration.  I've decried his tendency to "act alone" on nearly Imperial terms.  He acted more like a dictator than a President, exercising powers not seen since Lincoln (Civil War) and FDR (Great Depression).  This election could be seen as a broad-based rebuke of that overreach.

Yet, I mourn the result.  Why?

Trump shows all the signs of a Fascist.  He lacks the cunning of a Hitler, but he certainly shows the charisma mixed with incompetence of Il Duce, Benito Mussolini.  He wants a cult of personality, a broad feeling that he can fix things and "Do What Must Be Done."  There's little evidence he's thought-through anything aside from displacing the current power structure.

For some people, that was enough.  Clinton certainly didn't provide any sort of vision aside from that.

My twitter feed is full of my friends in the diaspora from Kentucky, and they're scared and angry.   Whether they're immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ, they see "their country" slipping away.  

If those fascist portents come to pass, then everyone's country is slipping away.  We couldn't be invaded, but sure as hell can give away our freedoms to people who promise security.  

So, I'm just taking some time to be sad.  I'm praying for our nation, which at times has been a City on the Hill for the world, a refuge for the forgotten and oppressed, a place to start a new life.  May God grant it continues to be so, and gives us leaders of vision.

God bless you all.

04 November 2016

On the 2016 Election

Whatever happens over the next few days, I'd like us to remember we're Americans.
We've surmounted Monarchy, the burning of the capital, a war between ourselves, mountain ranges, slavery, polio, Fascism, Communism, presidential assassination, Watergate, 9/11, pet rocks, and several sub-par Metallica albums.
People tried to take our freedom. "Over our dead bodies!" we cry. And so it was.
We will gladly give it away, though, in fear and hate, vilifying our neighbors.
I care about what happens next Tuesday, sure. However, what happens in the days and weeks thereafter is what history shall remember.
May Lincoln's summary remain true: "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Blessings be with you all.