Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Stress Relief

So, back when I was in school studying to be a geologist, my Geologic Structures teacher was giving us assignments.  Mostly they were drawing lines to connect boundaries between rock layers.  Then to better differentiate between the layers, we were supposed to color them.  The best advice she gave us was to have a glass of wine and then draw our lines (connect the dots) and color inside the lines.

Yes, I was a college student learning how to color.

However, the trick with the wine was great because it kept your hand from shaking and gave nice smooth curves.

I've been trying to find things to break up my routine while I'm traveling.  I've been going to San Luis Obispo now every week since the last week of July.  I drive down Sunday afternoon/evening, stay at a hotel during the week, and then drive back home on Friday afternoon.

For those who aren't familiar with the distance, it's 3.5 hours without traffic.  With traffic, it can be anywhere from 4 to 5 hours.  I'm not looking forward to tomorrow's drive home.  One of the worst commutes I ever had was a drive home from a jobsite on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Back when I was with Kleinfelder, I was working at a site in Redwood City for the San Jose office.  At one point, the project manager wanted me to drive the samples to the San Jose office.  I told him that I didn't know where the office was, and that there was no way I was driving that far south and then driving back to PLeasanton to return to company truck, and then driving home to Concord or Pacheco (I forget where home was at that time).  It was a full day's work, and with the drive segments, I didn't get home until after 8:00 that night.

We are all hopeful that tings go well enough tomorrow that we have a half day of work.

Now, on top of this looming drive, I found out on Monday that a good friend and coworker has a sick father.  When she told me, I gave her a hug.  Then she said that he has pancreatic cancer, and I gave her another bigger hug.  Like my mom, his is inoperable, but fortunately discovered early.  The tumor appears to be only the size of a golf ball, and has not spread.  It is early enough that they are still waiting for the biopsy.

So add all of that together with the general background stress of the approaching holidays, high profile work, and being geographically separated from Jennifer, and I needed a distraction.  Reading has been okay, but I'm having trouble focusing and not falling asleep while reading.

So I've been coloring.

I've printed out some outline artwork from Deviantart, and have been coloring some of those.  However, Jennifer and I found a craft store nearby when she came down for a visit, and they had an amazing color-by-numbers book called Color Quest.  It's a not just about coloring by numbers, but it's also an experiment in tessellation.

And so using the cool new app from Google called Photo Scan, I took pictures of my chosen piece of work after each color was completed.

I will say that after the first two colors, I thought it was going to be a snake.

Anyway, it was mindful relaxation, and I fell a bit better.  I might be able to get back to drafting the changed map for the roleplaying game.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Why, oh Why?

Why do we do stupid things out of curiosity?

Why do we go looking at old pictures of friends and former loved ones?

Is it personal torture?  Mental masochism?

And when you find yourself doing it, and Joe Satriani ends up playing a song called "Saying Goodbye," isn't it just too much to ignore?

Chalk it up to loneliness, and being alone during the week for just too damn long.

Someday, I'll have a November free to regurgitate all these thoughts and feelings out uninterrupted.

But for now, just consider me mentally cutting.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Stross! Stross! He's our man!

So, I just finished (literally) Charles Stross' latest additional to the Laundry Files The Nightmare Stacks.  And it is bunches of fun.

The Nightmare Stacks reminds me of a Tom Clancy novel.  I've only read two of those, but it has that feel.  A reluctant agent caught up in things, tactical maneuvers, and technical specifications.  And reading about a dragon's technical jargon just makes me smile.

The favorite characters aren't in this one aside from side mentions.  Dr. O'Brien is seen in passing, as is the BLUE HADES Representative on her way to the pool in a wheelchair.  Bob Howard is unfortunately in Japan.  So the main character is Alex Schwartz one of the Laundry's PHANG agents.

But it's not a vampire book.

I was reminded of two fictional invasions while reading this.  One was a GI Joe cartoon where they go up against a group that uses biological versions of all mechanical devices.  The other is Sliding Albion from The Authority comic books.

A recommendation before reading this are Stross' short story "Equoid".

It's been a while since I've this much fun reading.

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