Saturday, May 26, 2007

flying is beautiful

Al Gore, I know why you succumb to mighty hypocrisy by complaining about global warming and flying around in jets.

Flying is fun.

Now, to be sure, flying coach on Alaska Airlines where I hear the same songs over and over again before the flight isn't TOTALLY cool. I don't want to hear "I Believe I Can Fly" ever again if possible but since I've got two more business trips down to L.A. later this year I'm going to hear that stupid song at least two more times. I got it in the first half-minute that the guy believes he can fly. And I can't help noticing that Elvis can't help falling in love with me just before every flight and finally made a crack about it to one of the flight attendants who smiled. She had to put up with it more often than I ever have.

Whoever that loser is or was who did a slowed-down version of that Buddy Holly song, screw you, man! You ruined a fun upbeat little song about teen love by turning it into a laconic self-congratulatory ode to ... I don't know, 70s soft rock. I'm not even a big Buddy Holly fan and I just want to break the instruments of the people who messe with that song.

But flying is still beautiful. Feeling the mild force of gravity pulling you back as the plane accelerates to take-off speed. Awesome. No, really. I wanted to be a pilot since I was maybe nine years old and never had the eyesight for it. It's weird to think about because when I was about six my parents flew me and my siblings from the Northwest to ... let's just see the breadbasket of America ... and I was terrified. I'm sure I was the most obnoxious shrieking, crying little kid the people on that plane had ever seen or heard and my parents must have told me in no uncertain terms they were embarrassed by me being so afraid. Well, a few years later and I wasn't afraid of flying anymore and relished any excuse to be on a plane.

Even stuff like turbulence on a plane is fun! I'd rather be on a plane that buckles in turbulence and thereby proves the plane is pliant and not some stick to be snapped in half than to have the plane be totally fixed and rigid and eventually be some stick that snaps in half.

So business trips can be lame but flying is cool. Even Al Gore knows that.

At least we're not seriously considering banning all night-time flights as the British (or some of the British) have proposed. Some Brits are suggesting people have fewer children so as to avoid contributing to global warming. If this sort of progressive just never has kids, never gets on a plane, and avoids using fossil fuels then how will these ideas be passed on to succeeding generations?

They won't.

I have grown tired of doom-saying from both the left and the right over the last ten years. Bill Clinton didn't institute martial law and take away all my civil liberties. When people who detest Bush 2 make the same claims I find it a little tough to believe them. Clinton was elected to a second term and is still unable to run again. I anticipate that happening with Bush 2, too. Clinton and Bush have more similarities on things like the environment and foreign policy than the haters on either side seem eager to notice. Clinton's handling of the former Yugoslavia doesn't seem to have been so different from anothe rmilitary venture that attempts to institute a new approach to government and social order in a region torn by centuries old ethnic conflicts exacerbated by the stupid foreign policies of colonialist European powers. :)

It sort of seems like the next presidential race is going to come down to people attempting to distance themselves from a war they voted for without formally declaring war (if memory serves). Congress seems like a strange branch of government sometimes, often wishing to simply not do what it is supposed to do according to the Constitution (and then finding ways to either blame other branches for not doing what they're supposed to do); or trying to get other branches to do what they should do themselves; or even have other branches overturn things they do that aren't constitutional. I'm not sure how anyone can or should run in 2008 with the position of having voted for permission to use military force but now distancing themselves from said vote. John Edwards was the only one I might have given a pass for the "I was young and dumb and that's why I voted 'yes'."

But in the end no one in Congress DESERVES a pass because if the President asks permission to use military force why didn't Congress go one further and discuss a formal declaration of war? Congress has been abdicating its constitutional role in deciding when formal sancation of military power is called for, and this for decades. What I find most annoying about Congress is that they whine about presidents doing what Congress keeps letting them do. Whenever the United States eventually falls according to whatever the Lord assigns through providence will historians look back and guess that the United States, as a political structure and social unit, dissolved slowly because Congress wasn't doing what it was constitutionally designed to do? Letting the president wage wars and the courts develop legislation the political parties didn't want to pass for fear of getting sacked at the polls? Decrying the expansion of government at election years and then keeping the status quo when it was self-serving?

I didn't really want Bush in office back in 2000. I thought both parties had demonstrated that the wealth within the party's constituents and adherents had picked the candidates rather than the candidates who might have been better. 2000 was a race between two white guys from families in the South who got their money from oil. I began to joke around some friends that a vote for Gore was a vote for war because of the Democratic track record on military interventions post World War 2 that never involved a formal declaration of war by Congress. Republicans did it, too, but not on the scale of Democrats, at least not until the last 20 years and even then not until more recently than people seem to think. Both parties are equally guilty on this overall but find it mighty convenient to blame the other party. As I've blogged earlier, Jesus was crucified by the vote of a bipartisan committee. I get tired of the Pharisees and Sadducees and temple authorities all pointing the finger at each other as though they didn't call for the death of Jesus themselves.

return to L.A., a corporate culture and my blood sugar

I can't say that this second mandatory business related training trip was that much more useful than the first but developing rapport with my mostly equally-bewildered colleagues counted for something.

I have also gotten advice from two good friends that one key to living in Los Angeles can be summed up thusly:

Don't drink the water.

More to the point, don't drink the tap water. Ever. Bottled water. I know there are environmental worries that bottled water is so Amerian and irresponsible. Los Angeles tap water sucks. You can drink glass after glass and it might never slake your thirst.

On the other hand, I'm starting to wonder if that's a sign of me having blood sugar problems rather than Los Angeles tap water being awful. It doesn't have to be a strict either/or here, though.

I didn't get nearly as much reading as I had planned on getting done over the week. The whole slowly building rapport with co-workers couldn't be ignored even by me and I have to admit I don't tend to care about mingling or building rapport with people in general in a lot of ways. But I did manage to finally read Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. Perhaps I can blog about that later but right now I don't feel like I have a ton to blog about it. It IS 3am after all.

I suppose reading a book about death has gotten me thinking about mortality. Diabetes runs on both sides of my family and both grandmothers died of complications related to diabetes if I recall correctly.

I shouldn't be finding myself so unable to concentrate, learn, and remember things lately but that's where I'm at. My best guess is that it's a blood-sugar issue and a potentially serious one. I discovered that having beef jerky to get some protein in my system was initially successful but disastrous a couple hours after I had the food. By contrast, having yogurt helped keep me moderately alert for hours before I had any other food. So chalk that up to being a gimme that the salt content must have dehydrated me or something so that the initial protein boost benefit was decimated by salt. The more water I drink the more clearly I'm able to keep focused but it presents the problem of having to go pee that liter of water I had earlier in the day.

To me blogging is not an inherently personal enterprise or it shouldn't be because broadcasting your personal experiences shouldn't be anyone's business (except perhaps by sending emails that are not necessarily that secure). But here I am, anyway, blogging about something I normally don't like to blog about, anything particularly "personal".

Why do I find the idea of divulging personal information in a blog so distasteful? Well, I feel it's needless to explain. Still, I guess I'd have to chalk this up to the belief that the internet should be a resource for information that may interest or help people and I don't see how divulging information of a purely personal nature in something like the blogosphere usually does that. I can't say I've got better things to do with my time than read the blogs of friends or family even though it's true that I hardly ever read blogs by friends or family. It's not meant as a personal slight against them--they just have my phone number and email address already so I don't see much reason to convey personal things on a blog I could convey to them.

But since I've not been blogging because of business related travels and because I've made discoveries about my health as side effects of dealing with what I'd have to call the corporate culture's approach to food I find myself writing about this stuff even though I hadn't planned to. Some corporate cultures have some bad legacies in terms of food, at least for me. The carbos and caffeine approach of "continental breakfast" is a major pain in the ass. After seven years in this company setting with not nearly enough exercise it seems to have exacted a frustrating toll on my brain. It's reminding me the hard way that advice to avoid caloric drinks and exercise consistently is advice I should have taken from a doctor five years ago. I did, sort of, but not enough and not consistently enough. But I'm still relatively young (33) so it's not as though I don't have some time to get cracking on this.

The first business trip was awful not just because the training was mostly worthless to me but also because that first trip I felt like my brain was dead weight until MAYBE 5pm, right when the training was over. I began to discover patterns that were signs of sleep apnea but also of things that suggest my blood sugar is screwed up. This last trip has just wrapped up and I felt better this week because I began to deliberately avoid carbohydrates in favor of vegetables and protein. This has had some pretty dramatic results in my ability to remember and learn things this week ... or at least it would if the training this week wasn't just as semi-useless as the other training period before it. I have, to use an analogy, been inducted into the beauties of a phone book that has addresses and phone numbers but no names. There are also some late-breaking discoveries that have my colleagues justifiably freaking out that a vendor is planning to set up a huge project based on what the vendor understands to be the needs of the client and not on the actual needs of the client.

I could wax at a small length about how and why this has happened but I really don't want to since it's all proprietary stuff anyway and because I just got home. I didn't pick up Lawrence of Arabia, Patton, and Spiderman 2.1 last weekend to come home THIS weekend and write a whole ton about a business trip I didn't really like. Then again, this wouldn't be blogging if everything I blogged reflected on things I was carefully thinking about.