Focus

I went a little out of focus over the last few days. I tend to do that when I’m on the road a lot. I lose my routine, which I suppose is not a bad thing. It’s so easy to become as stale as a 10 day old chicken in a meat grinder. The only routine I hate interrupting is my physical fitness routine. I usually take my workout gear with me when I’m traveling, but the grind of the road takes the umph out of me. I did manage to go for a run once while I was in Edinburgh last week, and boy am I paying for not running the other four days. I ran 2.5 miles today and it hurt. Usually I can run 2.5 miles in my sleep, but today I felt every jarring slap of my feet hiting the pavement. And don’t even get me started on the stitch i got during the run, or the cramps I got while doing situps. You would think, I was a rank amateur.

I’ve restarted my 0430 morning meditation sessions again. My mood for the day seems to be more stable when I spend time meditating in the morning.

I spent most of today buried deep within the bowels of my laptop. I’m under a pretty tight deadline for this elearning module. The projects not going quite the way I’d hoped, but then they never do, do they? I reckon I have another 2 days designing before moving into the test phase.

Back Home

It’s good to be home again. I thought I would get a chance to write from the road, but the opportunity didn’t arise and I didn’t make an effort to force myself to find an Internet connection. I did keep notes in my paper diary. The three days in Scotland were kind of touch and go. Here is a summary of the last three days:

Wednesday

  • Flew BA instead of Flybe.
  • Didn’t like BA’s blatant display of class discrimination.
  • Had a rare moment of social conciousness – vowed not to fly BA again to protest their blatant class discrimination.
  • BA served food on the flight (Flybe doesn’t) – changed my mind about flying BA (they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach)
  • Lost my faith in man.
  • No suits, no ties; fuck shareholder value.
  • Desperately needed a coffee.
  • Maybe it’s not so bad being Joe Average.
  • Spent the day planted in front of a computer that belongs in a museum.
  • Trying to designa 21st century product with 1980’s technology.

Thursday

  • Lovely Scottish hills – would love to live close enough to mountains to see them from my bedroom window.
  • Searching for a story to plot and write.
  • Hotel restaraunts are peculiar; lot’s of loney diners – they should force us to sit together get…what would be the harm in getting to know another fellow human being
  • One to one with my boss
  • More time stuck in front of dinosaur PC
  • Thought about sticking a fork in my eye
  • I had dinner with an old friend at my favorite restaraunt in Scotland – Jimmy Chungs
  • Worked into the night on new elearning module
  • Didn’t pack and should have

Friday

  • Packed in a hurry
  • Worked for a 4 hours in the office; left to catch flight home
  • Saw a big Hill-Billy Bob looking man in a sky blue tie-dyed short sitting crossed-legged with no shoes on a chair to small for his big body
  • Pissed off at the media showing the same pictures of abuse over and over again
  • Pissed off at the US Soldiers who have disgraced and tarnished the reputation of the service I once proudly served in and still cherish
  • Home Sweet Home

Things Forseen

Time to ready myself for another week in the corporate salt mines, at least the week is only 4 days; today was the May Day bank holiday in England. I will be on the road this week, which is a good change of pace. Tomorrow I am in Sheffield for the day designing content for an elearning module. Wednesday I fly up to Scotland to work with my boss for a few days. I hope I get the room facing the monkey cage again. Or myabe not…they make an awful racket early in the morning.

The Heart of the Matter

I spent the whole of the day reading The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Greene.
“The Heart of the Matter” is the sad story of a man tormented by an inability to live up to the dictates of his religion. Deputy Police Commissioner Scobie begins the book as a rare subject, an English colonial policeman in Africa not on the take. He is cursed, however, with a wife who constantly, if not always overtly, reminds him that the life he has provided for them is beneath her. Louise Scobie is one of those Catholics of the mid-twentieth century that believes things like missing mass on Sunday is a mortal sin, but unfortunately can’t bring herself to “avoid superbia” as the nuns used to admonish schoolchildren in the fifties and sixties. In other words, Louise is a snob. When it’s announced that her husband won’t be promoted when the commissioner retires she simply can’t deal with the shame of it.
Most of Scobie’s capacity for love died several years earlier at a boarding school in England when their nine-year-old daughter was taken by a sudden illness–the difficulty of communication and the fact of World War II prevented him from even attending the funeral–and the third person narrator notes how he retreated into his job, but “[t]he less he needed Louise the more he felt responsible for her happiness.” Louise does see Scobie’s struggles, even gently accusing him of wishing she were dead. He responds, as he always does, that her happiness is his priority, and promises to find a way to pay for her passage to South Africa, where she’ll be able to be with friends and without the ignominy of not being the new commissioner’s wife. The only way to find the money is to borrow it from a well known but smooth Syrian crime boss who likes Scobie because he can trust him to be incorruptible.
Crossing the proprietary line of borrowing the money flows into crossing the mortal sin line as Scobie takes up with a much younger woman. While he grows to love Helen, whom he meets in a hospital while she recovers from nearly dying in a shipwreck, he cannot love what he sees himself becoming. Scobie’s struggles with despair are moving and genuine, even as the reader perhaps wishes Scobie were just a little bit smarter than he is. If he were of course, he wouldn’t be Scobie, never able to attain his desired simple life where he can do his job and feel loved and loving, redeemed and free.

Leaving Do

A Few of my good friends are moving on from the office and on to new adventures. Darren is moving on to work in the big city of London. Phil is setting sail for Japan to teach English as a foreign language, and Tom is going to travel around the world for 5 months.

In true British style, we had a leaving-do (any excuse will do to drink beer, wine, and spirits). We rented out the party room of the Jug and Jester complete with full bar.

The Jug and the Jester carries a lot of history fo us; When we first started putting together the joint-venture 4 years ago, the Jug was the place we’d all meet to release tension built up over the long hard days of getting the joint-venture ready for launch day. We would absolutely go hog wild (think National Lampoon’s Animal House). It was good hard clean (well maybe not so clean) fun.

So much has changed over the last 4 years when the project first started. The sun is setting on the end of an era. Many of the original members of the joint-venture have moved on and the last of us are starting to trickle out. The place is barely recognizable now. So many new faces populate the place.

Anyway, we had an awesome turn out last night; even people who’d long since left the venture returned to see Darren and crew off. It was good to see some of the old familiar faces. I suspect I will not be long in joining them….

New adventures await….

My Vocabulary

Couldn’t resist seeing my limited vocab.

soulcruzer’s Word Usage
1. the (281) 26. about (29) 51. like (17) 76. right (10)
2. i (205) 27. up (29) 52. when (16) 77. will (10)
3. to (192) 28. do (28) 53. has (16) 78. many (10)
4. a (164) 29. get (26) 54. back (16) 79. king (10)
5. of (151) 30. as (26) 55. there (16) 80. their (10)
6. and (138) 31. had (25) 56. not (16) 81. women (10)
7. in (91) 32. your (24) 57. then (15) 82. his (10)
8. my (83) 33. this (23) 58. how (15) 83. book (10)
9. on (72) 34. out (23) 59. by (15) 84. life (10)
10. you (72) 35. an (23) 60. they (14) 85. because (10)
11. have (65) 36. been (23) 61. want (13) 86. game (10)
12. that (56) 37. all (22) 62. into (13) 87. i’m (9)
13. is (54) 38. so (22) 63. got (12) 88. can (9)
14. for (53) 39. from (21) 64. 5 (12) 89. were (9)
15. was (49) 40. would (20) 65. sex (12) 90. things (9)
16. it (40) 41. one (20) 66. just (12) 91. new (9)
17. be (39) 42. some (20) 67. never (12) 92. done (9)
18. are (39) 43. i’m (19) 68. 2 (12) 93. know (9)
19. with (38) 44. ever (19) 69. i’ve (11) 94. race (9)
20. or (36) 45. time (19) 70. say (11) 95. our (9)
21. what (35) 46. work (18) 71. most (11) 96. here (9)
22. we (33) 47. if (18) 72. men (11) 97. adventure (9)
23. me (31) 48. last (17) 73. today (11) 98. down (9)
24. but (31) 49. who (17) 74. no (11) 99. 4 (8)
25. at (30) 50. he (17) 75. go (10) 100. money (8)
Username:
Word Count by Hutta.

The Alchemist

Once in a while, I come across a book that speaks directly to my soul. Yesterday I read such a book. I would urge you to read this book. The messages in it were so powerful, I could not put the book down. I had to read all 177 pages in one sitting. The book is called The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Read it.

Win-Win

I learned the art of negotiation today…well actually just the basics. I went on an negotiation and influencing skills course as a part of my new role as a training relationship manager. We negotiate every day sometimes without realising we are doing it. I would say up until today, I’ve never really applied any sort of formal process to trying to get something, be it money, resources, or time from anyone. My usual habits is to walk into a meeting lay my position on the table and hope for the best. But there is much more to the game then this. And I’m looking forward to putting my skills to work…perhaps I’ll start with a pay raise…

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.