Monday Monday

I met Helen for lunch today at the Varsity Pub. She used to work with me in Leamington, but has moved on to greener pastures. We met up to catch up with the gos. I’m impressed with her new direction. She has given up smoking, is dieting, and running again. We tallked about a great many things, but I want go into any of it here. I experienced a bit of sycnronicity while at the Varsity. Last night I was researching courses on creative writing and then today, just as I was leaving the pub, a brochure caught my eye. On a whim, i picked it up and took it back to work with me. Later, I flicked through the brochure only to discover…a creative writing course starting tonight at Warwick University. I called up admissions and got myself registered on the course. So far the course looks promising.

I Be Chillin

I’m feeling sound right about now…I’m sat in my ugly pea-green lazy boy chair with a cup of Joe and some Tom Petty cranking in the background…Ace.

“I used to live in a 2 room apartment….neighbors knocking on my wall…”

It was hard getting mentally back into work after having such a grand four day weekend. Something about them there four walls closing in on me makes me want to scream….Hey but work is part of the game we play so as my airborne instructor used to say, “Drive on Airborne, Drive On!”

Besides, I can’t complain especially when my friends and fellow soldiers are sucking it down in the desert fucking with a people who don’t want to be fucked with. The sooner we get the hell out of there the better.

Peace

Long Way Home

I decided to take a path I have never walked before. The path led me through a big playing field bordered by houses and a cemetery. I always get a sense of my own mortality whenever I come across a cemetery. I see the rows and row of neatly lined grave stones and think how many of those people got what they wanted out of life. Did they get to the end and say damn, I can’t believe it’s all over and I haven’t even done a fraction of the things I wanted to do. I never took that trip I always dreamed of. I never wrote that book or painted that picture or kissed that girl. And now I will never ever get the chance because here I stand on the doorstep of my end with no more time left to do the things I always talked about doing.

I learned on the broken stoned fence and stared at the graves. In front of me was a freshly dug grave. One I image they were going to be putting a coffin in soon. It was dug to the right dimensions. The hole was covered by a piece of plywood. One day that hole will be meant for me. What will I have done with the time I have been given?

There was one particular grave that struck my interest. Nick C was the name written on the black marble headstone. He was born in Dec 1954 and died in 2002. On his grave stone was written, “He who dies with the most toys wins and he certainly won.” Or something to that affect. There was also a smaller stone set about midway down casket. From where I was standing, it looked like it said, “oops.” I was intrigue to know who would right “oops” on their grave. And what could it mean? I decided I need to see this grave up close, so I hopped the fence and walked over to it. As it turns out the stone actually said “coops.” Of course I don’t know what that means either, but from what the family has written on the headstone I can only assume that this person had a happy life.

I made my way home along a route I never been. Even though I knew I was in no danger of being lost, I still had that feeling of wondering where will this road lead. Should I turn back and take a road I know? What if this road leads me somewhere I don’t want to be? Even as these questions raced through my mind, I still couldn’t help but continue to walk forward into the unknown. I eventually connected with a road I knew and walked on home stopping for a brief moment in “Leap Wood.” What a magical name? The sign read, “To the Friends of Leap Wood.” I paused by the little stream running through Leap Wood just to collect my thoughts.

Reality TV Dating

Here is something I wrote a while ago, but I can’t remember if I ever posted it on the old soulcruz weblog. I decided to post it again because of all the reality dating shows kicking around on the television at the moment.

Somebody help me out here. What the fuck has the world come to where men and women have to turn to reality dating television shows to find a date. MR Right is ITV’s latest dose of “aphrodisiac television.” 15 desperate women will compete for the affection of some can’t get a date on his own putz. The Sunday Times described him as a cross between James Bond and MR Darcy. Admittedly, he is a rather good-looking guy, but looks must not be everything if he has to get his women from some overzealous TV producer. He’s got looks and money and proper grooming. He was a British army major. He was equerry to Prince Andrew.

Have guys forgotten how to talk to women. Or have the ladies become so independent and picky that no guy is MR Right for them. Perhaps, we men have become the wimps that the likes of Susan Faldi has declared. We’ve lost our caveman instincts to go out and club the woman we want on the head and drag her back to our cave and make her a baby making sex toy who happens to be able to cook and clean and pour a beer with a good head.

Or maybe the “flirt coach,” Tracy Cox has it right in that we are on some sort of self-actualization trip looking for the perfect relationship with our ideal partner. The truth is this ideal partner doesn’t exist. Never did and never will.

But what about the sad sacks who watch these programs. Talk about not having a life. How do they expect to find a partner sat in front of the Television helping to glean some nugget of hope from the silly cows who willing strut their stuff on national television trying to win the affections of some dope who if he were any sort catch wouldn’t be appearing on the show to get a girl.

What is so hard about modern dating that has men and women flocking to get on these shows or participate in text chat or join singles club and comb the Internet looking for love.

Supposedly young men are facing a crisis of masculinity while young women are confident, solvent, go-getting wonder women.

Petruska Clarkson believes men are in retreat and in serious trouble.

Are men in retreat? Are women all that confident and go-getting?

Everyone seems to be looking for love in all the wrong places. You need only stroll down the magazine isle of your local WHSmiths or Barnes and Noble and scan the front covers of the so called “Lad’s magazines” or the women’s magazines to be struck by the open me headlines that fill the front cover with titles like, “100% Sexcess Rate: How to get her from the street to the sack,” or “Sex: be better than the average guy,” Do these article really hold the secret to finding and getting MR or MRS Right.

Have we forgotten how to communicate with each other without a long checklist of pick up lines or smart things to say to attract the opposite sex? You know, you see a girl that catches your eye, go up to her and start a conversation.

I think what has happened is that we are so busy thinking about the long term outcome of any potential relationship that we never fully connect with the person in the present. Instead taking a keen interest in the person at the precise moment in time, we are constantly thinking about future events while we are talking. Thoughts like, “I wonder if she puts out” or “Man will I get to fondle her breast one day” or “Does he have a high paying job” or “Is he successful in his work” or “He seems to good to be true—he must be gay or married.”

I say simply talk to the girl. Ask lots of questions. Probing questions. Light questions. Heavy questions. In short just ask questions. Engage in the seductive art of conversation. Conversation is like ballroom dancing – sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. But never dominate the dance.

The Tide is Turning

My computer war is starting to turn in my favor. I am typing this note from deep inside my bunker from a fully functional wireless Internet connection. The fortunes of war began to turn my way after an enemy mole was discovered deep undercover working at PC World in Coventry. Due to misinformation and general lack of care, the mole sold me the wrong gear, then when I brought it back on Sunday, told me I would have to buy another £60 piece of equipment to sort the problem. Luckily the part was not on hand and wasn’t due in until today.

On my way to the front lines I had fully determined to return the bogus piece of kit and take the loss (a false loss I might add, the guy told me I would have to pay a 10% repackaging fee). I went into the PC World trenches fully prepared for a bloody fight, but the soldier on duty turned out to be extremelyt helpful. He happily exchanged my dubious piece of kit for the right specs and all had to do was pay the difference in price between the two units. This turned out to be only £15. Give that soldier a medal!

I am now wireless. Ye ha!

And If That Wasn’t Enough

My little computer war continues. For those of you trying to email me, you may have noticed that my emails are bouncing like bad checks. I found out today that the hard drive at my ISP crashed and they have been having trouble restoring the data. They have informed us that the battle continues and they are doing everything in their power to combat the problem. Of course, I’m still stuck without my primary email account. Anyway, if you need to reach me, then do so at claylowe@yahoo.com

Devil in the Details

I’ve been having a devil of time trying to get my wireless network up and running. At the moment all the devices seem to be recognising each other, but my laptop refuses to connect to the Internet as provided by my desktop PC. On Friday, when I first set everything up, it worked for all of 5 minutes and then bam…something happened and I lost connection and haven’t been able to connect again since. Then to make matters worse, I was up until 4 a.m. trying to fight of some nasty computer viruses. So needless to say computers are not my friends at the moment.

I was away for most of the week running some courses at Bricketwood. We had an absolute blast. I even went so far as to don my old army battle dress uniform to add a little army style attitude adjustment for the outdoor activities sessions.

I also got to spend time with a mate of mine I haven’t seen for quite some time…well almost exactly a year. We had some pretty deep conversations about life and the pursuit of happiness. I’m feeling more motivated then ever. Even more so considering I spent all of yesterday at the Ordance Survey’s Outdoor Show at the NEC in Birmingham. I had a chance to listen to Mike Harding, Alex Huber, Sir Chris Bonington speak. Absolutely awesome!!! I’m a bit rushed tonight or else I would go in to more detail. The bottom line is though, if you are not doing the thing you love to do [work-wise and life-wise] then you are wasting your time, and time is something none of us can afford to waste.

Blackbirds in the Mist

I’ve been on the road the last couple of days…running a training workshop in Hemel Hepstaed. I get such a buzz from these workshops because of the exchange of ideas and thoughts. Lot of fascinating discussion arise over the course of the 2.5 days. I finished up the workshop by 1300 and then drove further south to meet my boss for lunch at Bricketwood. She flew down from Edinburgh this morning and since she was in the area, we wanted to get together and catch up on where we are with our project.

I’ve picked up a new hobby…one that I’ve thought about starting before but never quite got into it. I’ve taken up poker…Texas Hold’em poker to be exact…the same style of play they use at the poker world championship held in Las Vegas each year. The mechanics I understand. I even have a small strategic grasp of the game. I’ve started playing on line at both Yahoo and Empire Poker, which is an online casino site. I don’t play for real money. The pyschology of the game is interesting. There is even a behavioural style model for poker players. I won’t say which quardrant I fall into least I should ever get in a game with any of you.

My tickets for the Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show arrived today. The show is a good gathering of everything outdoors from expeditions, to adventure sports to adventure travel. Plus there are lots of outdoor vendors there to sell their wares. I’m hoping to catch a fgew of the seminars and pick up some gear. I’ll have to keep a tight watch on my wallet as I have a weakness for buying outdoor gear. There’s just always to be that one cool gadget or piece of the clothing that would be just fantastic to have as a part of my kit bag. Outdoor shops are almost as bad for me as bookshops.

Oh yeah, I’m also on the look out for an adventure van…think Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine meets the Camelback edition of the Land Rover.

What Men Chat About

So apparently men spend most of their online chatting time talking about only four things. According to an MSN survey of email and chat rooms (are they secretly reading our email?) men talk most about current culture to inlcude sports and music, money matters, social activities to include what they are going to do on the weekends, and general banter. I’m surprised sex didn’t show up on the list. Especially since DR Stephen Whitehead, a gender expert from Keele University and noted author of a new book on men, asserts that men think about sex, work, and sex in that order.

And what does the fairer sex chat about most online? Apparently they yap about feelings, relationship matters, gossip, and food. DR Whitehead contends women think about relationships, relationships, and relationships in that order.

DR Whitehead suggests there are 27 different types of men. I had a gander at the list and I think i would classify as a Jester type, which means I love laughter and an audience but am prone to being melancholy.

The British are being battered for their drinking culture. Binge drinking has dominated the headlines this week. But the headline that has to take top prize on the subject read, “A combination of sex, alcohol and cheap motorcycle hire are killing many British tourist.”

And finally, what have we become when Marge Simpson is considered to be the ideal mother role model….

Strange Day

I spent the entire day on another planet. Oh I was here in body, but my mind and most definately my spirit were in some other place. Death’s Other Kingdom perhaps, or standing by the River of Dreams or perhaps I went to the Edge. At any rate, I was completely out of focus. I was so out of focus that things seemed clear, if that makes sense.

You say you want a revolution

You say you want a revolution
Well we all want to change the world

I’m feeling like starting that revolution I’ve been hinting at for time now. I’m in one of those moods where I feel like rebelling against the establishment…mainly because it just doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. Alain de Botton has a new book out called Status Anxiety. He puts across some interesting points about what drives us to achieve. His basic premise is echoed in what sociologists have observed, “that we work hard and try to achieve for two reasons: money and status.” We seek status because we want to feel loved. Botton explores the status side of the equation. Personally I’d opt for the money side so I can buy my freedom.

Instead of buying my freedom, I can become a revolutionary instead.

On another note, I’ve been trying to work my way through Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I find his writing to be brilliantly jarring. I can read his stuff in small dosages, so it’s taking me while to finish.

The King and the Duck come out of semi-retirement

Last night, in a shameful show of disrespect, Richard “the Duck” Watson talked smack repeatedly as he boasted about his ability to handle the rock and take Clay “the King” Lowe to the hoop anyday, anytime, anyplace.

“I think he’s been drinking to much Sterno,” said the King. “Everybody knows ain’t no mug got more game than me.” The King, looking cool and confident, responded to the challenge.

The last time these two legendary figures of playground basketball met was over a year ago. The Duck, a little younger and faster than the King, had racked up an early lead and seemed to have had the game in the bag. But the King, ever the consummate professional, showed the youngester how the game was really played and shattered the Duck’s hope of fame an glory in a 12 to 10 victory.

“That was a fluke, anybody who was there knows that I dominated that game. King knows it, that’s why he hasn’t been back out on the court with me since. He’s been runnin scared,” said the Duck.

“All I’m saying is, if I were a bettin man…and I hope all you bookies are listening, I wouldn’t put my money on King. When we step back out on the asphalt, I guarantee victory will be mine. And you can print that!”

When asked about the Duck’s flatulent mouth, the King had no comment. He just coolly leaned back in his chair, made a graceful arch of him shooting a basket, and let out the sweet sound of “swoosh.”

The King and the Duck will take to the court within the next month. The time and the venue have not been decided yet. Watch this space for further details.

My Mind

My mind is a muddy river.

What I’ve Learned

I’ve enjoyed reading the last two issues of Esquire magazine. The What I’ve Learned interviews, in particular, have been inspiring. Jack Nicholson had some insightful words to pass on, as did Ozwald Boateng and Danny DeVito….I admire their dedication to their craft…the single-minded drive to be the best in their chosen field. They have the warrior’s attitude of come back victorious or come back on your shield.

Splish Splash I Was Taking a Bath

I’ve been busy trying to get the edits done for the rockumentary i’m working on for Slowjet. I’m flying up to Edinburgh tomorrrow night, so I really needed to get at least the first cut done. I was up till late last nite, but it was worth it. I now have the first cut done…assembled as an mpeg and ready to present to the band Monday. Ahhh….how I love the pressure cooker…that reminds me of an old Alice Cooper lyric…

“One spastic explosion…two pressure cookers go insane…It makes me act crazy…I shiver but I love this game…”

I have some research to do this morning for another project I’m working on, then it’s off to the Bear Rock for a little indoor climbing, followed by dinner, movie, and a few pints.

peace

Floodgates

My mind is racing, but my body is tired. I’m a firm believer in planting nuggets of information in my subconscious mind and letting the info percolate. The subconsious mind always finds and answer and usually the answer comes to you when you least expect it…like today, I was sitting at my PC at work. It was nearing quiting time, when suddenly the idea floodgates just broke and ideas started flowing out.

So my mind is racing now from excitment and trying to get the ideas down on paper.

My body is tired becomes I ran 5 miles today, which I haven’t done for a couple of months. Since my last race, I have only been doing short 2 – 3 mile maintenance runs. But now that I have a new adventure race looming before me, I have ramped up my training. I like this feeling….the feeling of having physically exerted myself to a limit. It’s a feeling of ecstacy…a high…relief…relaxation…all rolled into one.

Anyway I sense that I am going to run completely out of steam early tonight, so I better get gone because I have a lot of things to still do before the lights go out.

At the Mercy

I was at the mercy of technology today. I had my whole day planned before going into work and then wouldn’t you know it, my user ID was blocked and I couldn’t log on to the network. Thus I was out of action PC-wise until after lunch. And of course, most of what I had planned to do was dependent on me being on my desktop PC. Luckily I had my laptop and could do some unplanned work.

I bought a book on Adobe After Effects from Borders. I want to use After Effects in the post production phase of the new rockamentary I’m working on. After Effects is apparently one the industry’s standard work horses so I thought i’d learn it.

On the adventure race front, I have my first recruit for the team. Laura has confirmed that she wants to be a part of the rebirth of Team Taranis. I still need 2 other members, so if there are readers out there who are interested in Adventure Racing, let me know. The race we are training for is set for 24 – 25 April with Ace Races. The race is over 2 days and has 5 legs – xcross cycle, mountain bike, night navigation, canoeing, and trail run. The race will be in South Wales. Please let me know asap if you are interested. You don’t need to be super fit…just have a good attitude and be willing to give your best and be a team player.

Catch Up

The past week has been a virtual whirlwind of activity. I was up in Edinburgh to meet with my new boss and discuss our near and long-term objectives both from a business standpoint and a personal development standpoint. I’m fine with the business objectives, but always seem to struggle with the personal development objectives. Why? Hmmm….probably because i view personal as personal and business as business. I like to keep work and personal life separate. I suppose if we changed the term to professional development, I could handle that…

I have been working on articulating my philosophy of life which loosely breaks down to this:

  • Be loving, sympathetic, concerned, respectful and helpful with others; not greedy, or controlling or aggressive.
  • Work hard to solve the problems we face; not follow the past, or merely dream of the future, but to do something now.
  • Enjoy the simple, available pleasures of home, relaxation, and friends.

My life goals in terms of values and purpose can be summed up as:

  • An exciting life
  • Inner harmony
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Social recognition
  • Freedom
  • Happiness
  • Wisdom

And my personal characteristics or how I want people to view me as:

  • Honest
  • Broad-minded
  • Imaginative
  • Cheerful
  • Helpful
  • Forgiving
  • Responsible
  • Capable
  • Independent
  • Intellectual

I suppose this is a tall order, but at least I have an ideal for which to strive for…

On another note…

While in Edinburgh, I started working on my second Rockamentary for a local Edinburgh band called Slowjet. I’ve got about 2 hours of footage that I have to edit down to 5 minutes. Looking forward to it.

Here are some random thoughts from my notebook over the past week:

  • Flew into Edinburgh. I like being in transit…the anonymous feeling. It’s the opposite of Cheers..nobody knows your name.
  • It’s half-term in England and it seems like they’re all here. The hotel is packed with them.
  • There are two women sitting on thestairs in front of me. The black haired one is giving the platnium blonde a neck and shoulder massage…cheap thrill for me as i drink my beer.

Okay…that’s enough of that.

Edinburgh

I arrived in Edinburgh last night around 2200 having spent more time in the Birmingham airport than I’d wanted. The plane was delayed due to a failed generator. No complaints…best that they fix these kind of things on the ground then have a problem in the air.

I’m staying at the Holiday Inn right next to the Edinburgh zoo. My window look right onto the zoo grounds. Friends have warned me to be prepared to be awakened by strange animal noises in the night. But seeing how I can sleep through the end of the world, I doubt if i’ll hear anything. In fact, given more snoring record, I’ll probably be of a disturbance to the animals!

Anyway, time to get back to work…

Mr Fix It

Ruth says I’m lazy. I say I just have no patience for building or fixing things. My definition of lazy is someone who sits around and does nothing all day. The last thing I want to do is sit around and do nothing. I prefer to be outdoors and active…rock climbing, running, competing in 11 hour adventure races, climbing mountains…well you get the point. I see domesticated duties as an intrusion on the precious little free time I have outside of work. Why turn a wrench, when I could be climbing Scavenger or some such route. I say, let a mechanic turn the wrench, after all that’s what he gets paid for. Why am ranting about this?

Well I spent the greater part of Saturday helping Ruth’s dad change the front and back brakes on our car. I was happy to let our mechanic do it, but Ruth’s dad is a born grease monkey and enjoys banging around on cars. I don’t. Still, I felt obligated to pitch in seeing how it was my car. I spent 5 frustrating hours grunting and groaning, pulling and pushing nuts, bolts and springs. There were a couple of times I thought we were going to have to call the AA to rescue us from a sea of brake springs that refused to go back together.

End the end, we did it. We over came the gods of metal and machines, and in the process, saved about £250.

Sunday

I got back from Bristol early this afternoon.

I spent the afternoon unpacking and repacking my suitcase. I’m off to Scotland for a week. Unfortunately, it’s not a leisure trip. I’m there to meet my new boss.

Can’t hang out here to long, I leave for the airport in about 10 minutes.