But Bruce Willis gets clocked and is okay…

He got hit on the head, but he still wins the fight - right?
He got hit on the head, but he still wins the fight – right?

Years ago, I was watching the show Northern Exposure, and in one scene, a character was saying how he didn’t believe Bruce Willis’ character could have sustained all those head traumas and kept going.

He had a point. I wasn’t yet aware of TBI and its role in my life, but that comment did stick with me.

Fast forward 20-some years, and here I am, with a much better understanding of it all.

And yes, I concur. Bruce Willis plays a lot of characters who get hit on the head and recover promptly — and never show any sign of slacking off. Knowing what I know now, it’s highly unlikely that so many of the characters we watch in movies, t.v. shows, and video games would be able to stand, let along continue to function, after the hits they take to their heads.

Meanwhile, parents have delegated the raising of their children to television, movies, and gaming, leaving them to “learn” about life through a warped lens that has nothing to do with reality. That, after all, is the draw — it has nothing to do with reality.

But do the kids know it?

I’m not saying things are so much worse now, than they were when I was growing up. I grew up watching Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner blow each other up, smash each other under rocks, and do all sorts of violent things to each other — and then keep coming back for more. I grew up watching Muhammad Ali pummel his opponents, floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee, with nary a thought about how that might affect him and his opponents later on. I watched Speed Racer and all sorts of other cartoons where the characters were getting creamed regularly, but just bounced up and kept going.

Is it worse today? I’m not sure it’s ever been great.

The difference that I see, is that all the entertainment-based activities are producing physically weak and vulnerable kids who may be pushing the envelope in organized sports. They don’t have the same core flexibility and strength that we developed 30-40 years ago, just by being outside and active. Nowadays, you’ve got kids who languish in front of consoles and screens most of the spare minutes of their lives — only to be sent out sporadically to play at levels that are arguably more demanding than any when I was growing up. There’s certainly more padding, more helmets, more focus on speed and strength.But there’s less actual strength underneath that.

Back when I was growing up, you played because it was fun — not because it was your only way to afford college and have a decent life.

But now, kids are woefully unprepared for physical exercise, and whey do dive into it, they’re pushed to limits that would have seemed ridiculously extreme, three decades ago.

Then again, Bruce Willis does that sort of thing all the time.

And he’s fine. Right?

The littlest change is setting me off

Ooops – they did it again. “Upgrading” something that seemed fine to begin with

Okay, now I know I am tweaked and nervous about my upcoming job change. Firefox has just updated their browser style / interface, and I am freaking out on the inside. I try to stay calm and take things as they come, but this is yet another change I was not expecting, and as good and fine as it might be, it’s still pissing me off.

Why does everyone have to change everything… all the time?!

I mean, c’mon people – we don’t always have to have the best and brightest and newest and improved-est thingamajiggie on the face of the planet. Some continuity might be nice. Some of the old stuff still works fine, and we stick with it, regardless of your “Upgrade Now to Get What’s New!” prodding. I still like Windows XP — it just works. I still prefer music on CDs — the sound is better and richer than MP3s. I and many others still love classic Coke… in classic style glass bottles. People actually LIKE having some things stay the same, and from where I’m sitting, Firefox was working just fine, the way it was before.

Okay, so maybe there are additional enhancements that took place behind the scenes that I don’t know about. Maybe this new look is more “modern”, and it makes all the magpie-minded hummingbird-memory-span teenagers of the world take Firefox more seriously, but is that who should really make the decisions about what works and what doesn’t? Heaven help us.

Anyway, enough of my rant. I am stressed, because of the crazy movies I’m playing in my own head about giving notice tomorrow. I am really doing a number on myself, and it’s got to stop. I need my strength for tomorrow — to be calm and centered and confident, and have a plan that will show the way forward in the transition time. I need my strength for the next two weeks — and beyond — so I can navigate this change and do it well.

There are going to be a LOT of people who are extremely put out because I’m leaving, including some who consider me a mentor and an advocate for them. In fact, I AM a mentor and advocate for them, and when I am gone, who will be on their side? A lot of folks are going to be going through a lot of grieving emotions, so I’ve got to stay strong, keep my strength up, keep my head on straight, and steer a direct course through the storms to get through this transition time in a calm and centered manner.

The good/bad part about this, is that there are folks whose future success depends on my performance. And now I am leaving. At a very critical time. But that will never change. Folks are locked into a continuous cycle of perpetual agitation and upgrades and improvements and radical changes that require everyone to be ON … all the time. If I use my current status as a reason to stay, I will never, ever have a chance to move on. Because my situation will never be any different. At all.

I’m not the one who decided to have only one person in charge of any given critical function in the organization. It makes for a lot of personal power, but it’s not very practical. I don’t want to be part of an organization that depends so heavily on the “Army of One” mentality, where one person handles everything in one specific “sector”. It’s actually an organizational issue — there are multiple instances where the company has only one person (manually) doing a job that is critical to the business, but nobody thinks of adding staff. The company is more geared towards individual wishes and whims and consolidating personal power and influence, than collective success.

That’s a recipe for disaster, from where I’m sitting.

So, there’s really nothing I can do to save them from themselves. I’ve never been able to do that — though I’ve tried.  God knows, I’ve tried.

Anyway, eventually I will calm down about the Firefox change. In my experience and observation, it’s still the best browser around.

IE is a horror and has been slammed by many security experts, including the Department of Homeland Security. There are so many things wrong with Internet Explorer, I don’t have room to list them all here.

Chrome is all very sexy and whatnot, but it eats up so much memory on the system. Every time you open a new tab, it adds a process to what the computer is doing behind the scenes, rapidly eating up memory. It’s a system resources hog. And all the “intuitive” Chrome features are … well… not. Plus, it can be hard to customize. It’s fine, if you’re a web developer — it has a lot of features you need when you’re building websites and apps, especially mobile apps. It’s great for that. Then again, Safari is even better, so I’m not sure why Chrome is so beloved — perhaps for the same reasons GoDaddy is beloved. Awful product with real limitations, but the sheer force of numbers of people who don’t know anything better, who are suckers for a good marketing campaign, and who just do what everyone else is doing has made them into pet favorites.

That’s fine. It’s actually always been that way. The mob has typically ruled, and decisions in the market-driven world are dictated by sheer mob numbers. I’ve never been an integral, integrated part of the mainstream world, I’ve never listened to the mob, and I’ve always been on the outside a bit, so there are a lot of things that I’ve disagreed with over the course of the past 48+ years.

And I’ve always had difficulty with change, which is ironic, because very little has ever staid steady in my life. I’ve changed schools and classmates many times, I’ve moved around a lot, I’ve had a bunch of different jobs (close to 20 employers, total, over the past 25 years), and people and situations have come and gone from my life like a cosmic revolving door. I’ve also had to adjust to a bunch of TBIs in my life, and there’s no change like a brain change to make your life more interesting.

So, one would think I have gotten the hang of it by now.

At least, I would.

And in fact, maybe I do have the hang of it, but I’m just in this old, outdated mindset that tells me I still have a problem with change. Yes, I am sad to see things change. Yes, I am sad to be leaving a lot of people whom I’ve worked with very closely and very productively over the past four years. Yes, I’m concerned about what this might mean for my future prospects, and I’m concerned about backlash at work and possible retribution by people who are upset.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to do a bad job handling this change. Being uncomfortable and nervous doesn’t mean that I’m not capable of making the switch. No matter how good the circumstances, there would never ever be a good time for me to go, or conditions where everyone around me would be fine with me leaving — unless, of course, I was doing a truly shitty job. And I would never willingly let that happen.

So actually, now that I think about it, the fact that this is so hard, is a sign that I’m doing something right. It means that I am a top performer, and I am a valued and trusted member of the team (at least, I’m trusted for now). It doesn’t mean that I’m doing something wrong — on the contrary, it means that I’m doing something right. And in fact, it’s time for me to do something right for myself, not only for the company.

I really have sacrificed a great deal for this company over the years. In the start, it was worth it to me, because there were benefits and payoffs, and I had very little to do with people on the other side of the world who had their own ideas about how things should be done. But over the past year and a half, things have gone rapidly downhill, and things seem pretty much unredeemable to me. If they were redeemable, I’d hang in there.

But now I have an opportunity to go somewhere else. Somewhere better — in significant ways. I know there will be some things that will be the same, or worse, but at least I’ll be doing it only 20 minutes from home, with ample time in the mornings and evenings to catch up with myself. So, whatever foolishness happens at work — and there usually is a lot of foolishness, since people work there — having the extra time to rest and relax and have some time to do other things for myself, will go a long way towards buffering all that.

I’m still feeling conflicted about leaving, as you can tell… talking myself through what I already know to be true. I just need to settle my mind, and calm myself down. Do some measured deep breathing… and trust my own judgment. Not get set off by all manner of distractions, settle into a “trusting mindset” like pro athletes and top performers do, when they are facing an extreme challenge, and rely on my inner resources to guide me through.

Overthinking this is not helping. It’s tweaking me even more than need be. Things are probably going to be pretty challenging for the next couple of weeks, so I’ll just have to settle in and do my best under the circumstances, not drive myself crazy trying to solve everyone else’s problems, and make what recommendations I can, to move things forward after I am long gone.

Once I start this process moving, and things are rolling right along, I’m sure I’ll hit my stride. As is often the case, the anticipation is even worse than the real thing. So who can say what will happen?

Just gotta stay positive, focus on what IS, instead of what movie is playing inside people’s heads. And be smart. Use my noggin.

Calm down. The new Firefox isn’t so bad, after all.


When in doubt, watch samurai movies

Hulu is a wonderful thing. They have a bunch of classic samurai movies, which are just the ticket for when I’m feeling low and wiped out. I’m not sure what it is about samurai movies, but there’s something about them that both really takes me out of my inner turmoil and malaise, and also puts me in close touch with the intricacies of human life.

Yesterday, I watched “Sword of the Beast” a 1965 classic which I really enjoyed. I had a little trouble following who was what and how they related to each other, but overall it was a good experience.

I also watched a little anime, but that was less satisfying, partly because it was shorter and didn’t go very deep. I’m finding, as I go along, that I need more and more depth in my life. Less Facebook and Twitter, and more classic novels. Less sitcoms and more documentaries. I’m really getting into “Iconoclasts” from the Sundance channel. There’s something really comforting about that show, because it reveals what’s beneath the surface, and that’s a rare thing, in this world.

Maybe that’s the thing with samurai movies – they really get beneath the surface, in my opinion. They show individuals grappling with personal challenges in the face of overwhelming odds, tyranny, oppression, deceit and trickery, and sometimes impossible situations. And through it all, how you handle yourself, how you represent your corner of the world is the most important thing of all. It’s a far cry from the standard fare we get from the usual network t.v. – which I cannot even watch anymore, thank you very much.

No matter how beautiful the people are, no matter how rich or powerful or intriguing they may be, there’s just not that same … substance, that you find in the old samurai classics. And honesty? It’s almost like the modern world idolizes trickery and deceit, treating it like it’s a virtue, rather than a demeaning fact of life that must be overcome by good people. When did we get so cynical? When did we stoop so low? Since when is that kind of behavior a good thing? I just don’t get it.

Anyway, I’ve informed people at work that I’ve got the flu and I’m out for the week. I’ll be unavailable till Wednesday, then I’ll check back in with them at the end of the week. That should give me enough time to settle in and get some things sorted out. Sleep. Rest. Eat and drink and chill, and just let myself get better.

And dream of better times… better days… better behavior in the face of overwhelming circumstances… not just dreaming, actually, but working towards it. Always working. Onward.

Taking good care

Source: computix's photostream

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I do (and do not) take good care of myself. One of the ways I take care, is by eating good food. Lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as a balanced mix of protein and starches. And of course, I need sweets, too.

Chocolate has become a very good friend of mine. Not the specialty kinds with chilis and all that, but really strong, dark chocolate, with a minimum of 85% cocoa.

Good stuff.

Last weekend, I did not take very good care of myself, in the food department. Of course, it felt wonderful at the time — my spouse was away, so I went “off the reservation” and ate spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, garlic bread, chips, and soda(!). And I ate baked goods, too. Poundcake. Muffins. All the things I know better than to do.

I did it anyway. And I watched foreign films, which my spouse hates — they don’t do well with subtitles, which for some reason don’t bother me. Reading them causes me to miss about half the movie, but somehow I don’t care. I like the cadence of foreign languages. I feel like I’m traveling. I was on my own for the weekend, so I indulged.

And I paid for it for days afterwards. Not only did I gain back some of the weight I’d worked hard to lose, but my body felt sluggish and, well, blah. And I had another flare-up of joint pain, which hadn’t bothered me for some time. I could definitely tell I had strayed from the Good Path. But at the time, having a meatball sub smothered in gravy and melted cheese, and a bag of barbecue potato chips and a can of soda, was pretty friggin’ awesome.

So, I paid. Oh, well.

Whenever I see my neuropsych, the last thing they say as I’m leaving their office is “Take good care.” I also work with someone who says that when they part ways with someone. I usually say, “Oh, I will,” but I rarely stop to think about what that means.

Taking good care, to me, means making an extra effort to care for yourself — to care about yourself. It’s about devoting your focus and attention to yourself in ways that will sustain and support you. Very important. If we don’t take good care of ourselves, who will?

Tonight I’m “flying solo” again, but much as I crave it, I will not have a meatball sub. I will finish the leftovers from lunch, while I finish up my work for the day. I will take good care.

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