Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On-line Courses and Poor Scheduling...

Awhile back, I came across a web site that offered free courses.  edx.org is the URL.  There are tons of courses ranging from computer science, history, or cooking.  You can take the courses for free or pay for getting a certificate.  

I find that my schedule gets crazy every time I sign up for a course.  I signed up for the Linux Administration course and got through lesson 6, then had to drop.  I signed up for HTML5 and Python (taught by an MIT instructor) and ended up dropping both because there was no way I could spend time concentrating on the homework.

I have two issues.  This month has been pretty crazy for some odd reason.  Next, I wonder if I have some form of attention deficit disorder.  I am so horrible with just concentrating.  This could be part of my own personal issues with trying to clear everything in my apartment.

I can sit down and start going through the course, but I get distracted.  I have noticed that distractions at work are at a premium.  While I realize it is "work", the issue I have is that I am supposed to take all of these courses that the company has assigned to me by the end of the year.  I have blocked out an hour of time on my schedule, but peers keep scheduling meetings during that time.  I cannot decline them since I have to be there.  That whole situation leads me to the "You have Outlook and I show busy for that time period, why can you not reschedule for another time?" complaint.  Of course, that does not matter when you have people who go over your head to make you reschedule your daily meeting to fit their schedule and they still never show.  That is really annoying, but it never matters.

So, I need to figure out how to reduce the distractions and learn to concentrate better on listening/learning.  I honestly want to learn these new technologies.  I realize I have to work on my internal distractions as well as figuring out how to reduce the outside distractions.  I think due to overwhelming external distractions, over time, that is what causes adult attention disorder.  We have so much coming at us at one time and we are expected to multi-task all of the time.  The honest truth, multi-tasking does not work for humans.  To achieve the best work, 100% concentration must be applied.  Otherwise, the work only appears to be a half-hearted effort and no one wants that hanging over their head. 

Next week, I am going to work on restructuring my time.  It is just the hardest thing to do.  One can have all sorts of commitments, but if you cannot spend a lot of time on those, nothing gets done.  I figure something has to give somewhere.  Why does it always have to be me?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Trouble With Having OCD...

As a present to myself, I signed up for another Painting With a Twist class.  This time, the painting was a bit more complicated, but for some reason, I was drawn to it.  It was called "Walk in the Garden" and it was really pretty.

When the teacher even tells you that the painting is complicated, that should be a sign.  I was pretty happy with the last painting, but as I look at it, it is not quite as complicated as the one last night.  

Like the last painting, I took pictures of the painting throughout the various stages.  I did that, so that I could separate myself from what I saw before me.  At some point, I just was not happy with what I saw, either in front of me or in the photo.  Leaves on the trees were not large enough, the small stream does not really show up as in the sample painting, and crepe myrtle is not as bushy and pronounced.  Overall, when I look at it, it seems like something I would have painting in elementary school.  

That is where I hate having an OCD behavior.  I want it to look just like the example, but I know in my heart, this is my own handwriting.  My handwriting is different from everyone else, but that is not how my head sees it.

At the start of doing this painting, I was feeling pretty relaxed.  However, as the painting continued, I felt rather rushed to get pieces done.  Maybe 3 hours is not enough time to do this sort of painting justice.  I am not sure.  

So, my take away with this experience - maybe it was too soon for me to take on such a complicated project.  I won't let this deter me from trying again.  I will just try to gradually build up to more complicated paintings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What is Next?

Okay, so I am 49 years old. 

A lot of people think I am younger than I look.  I know that those who have known me say that I have not changed that much since they knew me decades ago.  I also look a lot like my own mother.

But, what is next in life for me?  

In the area of personal relationships, is there a man out there for me?  Maybe.  Who knows?  I have already been told by someone that I will never marry because I am too independent.  I have to be independent out of necessity.  Sometimes, when you are on your own, it is what it is.  But, I refuse to allow that person's opinion to rule my life.

What have I never done?  

I had this discussion when I was part of a mini-reunion with women I hung out with in my middle and high school years.  I have always wanted to go on a cruise.  I would love to visit the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany.  I would love to visit the wineries of California as well as seen the greatness of New York City.

I have always wanted to go to Montreal and be there for the yearly comedy festival.  I know that Denver has one, but Montreal sticks out in my mind the most.  I remember both HBO and Showtime spending time with the festival in Montreal.  First time I saw so many comedians, like Craig Ferguson.  At the time, he was named "Bing Hitler."  He was pretty strange, but brilliant.

I need to maintain my dedication on eating healthier.  Also, making sure I continue trying to get more exercise into my daily routine.  It has been difficult with the back issues.  Hoping that with the new PCP, something can be done for that and get away from the constant pain.  I am so fed up with that mess right now.  It is such a downer and makes me wonder if that is the reason why I feel I may be depressed.

One thing I need to do is get a passport.  If anything, it is a start.  Here is a bit of a dream vacation.  Go to New Orleans and take a cruise from there.  When I return, stay in New Orleans for a few more days and take in the sights and such.  I think that would be fun.  I probably have to plan that out a bit more, though.  Something to give thought.

Final Year in My Forties...

This year, my birthday has not started quite on the right foot.  First, my father needed my help with clearing out the house.  Let's just say, there is a lot of stuff and it is going to take a LOT of time to clear it out.  Nothing will get done in 4 hours time.  I spent most of the time clearing out trash, getting rid of clothes that I have no hope of getting into or were not my style, and just observing all that we, as a family, had accumulated.  It is pretty overwhelming.  That was Saturday.

On Sunday, I spent the day with my father and his girlfriend at her house.  My father cooked a pork roast, as he is so proud to do.  It is one of those things he really likes to do and my mother was the one who helped him get the hang of barbequing in the early years of their marriage.  As with anything, my father has gotten better at barbequing over time.

His girlfriend made me a pizza sized chocolate chip cookie with pecans and had "Happy Birthday" and my name written on it.  With the business concerning the house, we do not see eye to eye because she is a go-getter and I have no room to take on any of the stuff I would like to take.  Mind you, I live in a 2 bedroom apartment.  My mother would give me tons of stuff to take home and I finally had to tell her I no longer had any room.  Truth is the truth.  I was honored that she had gone to that trouble for my birthday.  It was a very nice thing to do.

My father's girlfriend's step-daughter came over for dinner.  I learned that she was a realtor, so while everyone sat around talking, I asked about some advice for a first time buyer looking to buy a home - was getting a foreclosure a good idea?  The step-daughter explained that I was better off buying a house that was recently built or a brand new house.  This way, I could maintain the warranties for the appliances and such within the home.  I explained that I have no money to put down 20%, which would keep me out of PMI.  We looked at homes north of where I live - in smaller communities, where I know I could find a reasonably priced home.  I got her phone number since she did not have any cards, so I can call her for help.  She was much more helpful than another friend I have who is a realtor.  Granted, my father and her step-mother are together, but we are still just acquaintances, so we can maintain that "business-like" relationship.  Do not get me wrong, I like her step-daughter, but I really do not want to cause any issues.  Last thing I want is to cause a lot of drama.  However, I appreciate her kindness to work with me.

So, the weekend went okay, but being in the house really brought out a lot of emotion in me regarding my mother.  Everything in that house was something to my mother.  I do not see it as junk, but "stuff" as George Carlin would put it.  I hated it when someone made the comment that we had so much junk in our house.  All I could think of was my mom and what was special to her.

Monday was the big day.  Finally, I am 49.  My last year to be in my forties.  Wow - I remembered when I turned 40.  I had looked in the mirror and made some realizations regarding life.  What I had wanted to get accomplished in my 30's had not happened:  No husband or family, no house, no children, or hope for any personal relationships.  Next year, I will probably reflect on what has changed, good and bad.  Right now, I feel it is time to try to purge and try to open up life for new experiences.  I have been doing a little of that, but there are other things hindering my ability to do more.  Those things have to be cleared out of my life.  My next post will be my year plan of things I want to get done, so that I can make the next decade more interesting.

I will say this - I have been trying to look at the positive things that happened to me the past two days.  I say that because what I had planned did not turn out at all as I had wanted.  I figure I may be too selfish, but in some way, not really.

The parts that sucked:
  • Digestive system is not playing well with my plans
  • Friend is worried about losing her job; forgo eating at a special restaurant for Red Lobster to be the "listening post" 
  • Same friend states good or bad news on following day, we would go out to eat at a nice restaurant to celebrate my birthday a day late.  However, bails out at the very last minute.  I realize that her area is going through an ovehaul, but there was no definite information regarding her specific job
The positive points I am looking upon:
  • Had a wonderful lunch at Uncle Julio's with a retired co-worker - great laughs and conversation
  • Red Lobster waiter gave me a free bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce to celebrate my birthday
  • Got another friend to go out to a nice restaurant to celebrate my birthday
  • Nice restaurant gave me a free slice of their chocolate mousse layer cake - plate had written on it "Happy Birthday" and a single candle lit so I can blow it out
  • The friend that went with me has worse issues than the friend who bailed.  She may only be around for another 6 months before the cancer in her body completely takes over.  Also, she has very little money right now due to fighting that fight, so I made sure she enjoyed the meal as much as I did - I paid and was happy to do it.  I was going to go by myself, but her company was much appreciated.  If anything, I just hope she enjoyed the evening as much as I did.  The running joke was her just asking for "Filet Mignon" - no other meats interested her
In regards to the friend that bailed out for dinner, I feel it is time to take a break again.  She was worrying me about getting an email at work when I am off for the week.  I had to check my own email as well as contact my boss and a former boss to ask about the email.  I thought it would be best to forgo my own plans to help calm her down - I figured there was some sort of reorganization going on - possibly lay-offs.  However, while we worry, we have to continue with life.  Sort out your plan B and get comfortable with it.

I understand, but at the same time, I get all of this "I will go"  "I feel better", then last minute "I do not want to go."  Probably just as well, but I really dislike the late invites and such.  I just need to learn not to be so nice.  This is something I will write about - how I need to not let others bully/push me around.

So, today, I will try get some work done around the apartment, go out to eat lunch, come back and do more work on the apartment.  I also have some edx.org home work to do.  I am going to make the most of the rest of the week I have.  That is all any of us can do.  In the meantime, I will be praying for a friend of mine in Houston trying to get a medical issue resolved.  Maybe I might even take in a movie.  I have not been since March with my friend from Germany.  I think it is time.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

No Words...

I sat here for about an hour and wrote up an article regarding why an opinion is a judgment and how formulating an opinion is being judgmental.  I wanted to address how social media affects those who make stupid mistakes.  Also, how our beliefs cannot possibly be forced upon others.

Granted, this is not 1984, but the microscope on what we do and say is more focused than ever.  When do we take a step back and really look at issues, rather than acting impulsively on them?

People are people.  What goes on in today's world scares me to death.  It is nothing for someone to hide behind the computer screen and totally ruin another person's life.  Is that what we have become - more vindictive than forgiving?

Problem - there is not solution to the issue and that is sad.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Rolling Stones - Post Show

Whoever said that "Rock and Roll" is for the young, should say it is for the "young at heart."  That was exactly what I felt I attended the Rolling Stones show here in Arlington, TX (Dallas, TX for those of you who like to combine the Metroplex).  Young and old were both rocking out to songs that will always remain classic.

The two times I had been to see the Rolling Stones, I was late.  I missed the opening acts and the beginning of the show.  This time, I made every effort to make sure I was there on time and not miss a single beat.  My plan paid off immensely.

I got to where I needed to park about an hour early.  Once the parking was opened, I got parked and sat in the car for a bit longer.  I knew it was quite warm outside and wanted to make sure I got maximum cooling before my long trek to the stadium.

I got to my gate around 5:45 PM.  The schedule indicated that the gates would open at 6:00 PM, so that should not be very long.  It just felt like forever due to the heat.

The vast group age ranged from 7 to 8 year old all the way to 70 somethings.  It was quite impressive how this band had affected such a diverse group.  I was proud to be part of the crowd.  One couple, who was older than myself, had driven down from Odessa, TX to see the band.  Another couple, probably my age, had driven from Weatherford, TX.  Many others had driven from Austin, San Antonio, and even Houston.  This would be the only Texas stop on the Zip Code tour.

It took awhile before we were allowed past the gates.  It seems that the scanners for the tickets were not working.  I find it difficult to believe that a security staff person would recommend a group walk all the way around the stadium to get in on the other side.  Just the idea of it really made me crazy.  However, that attitude changed when the staff decided just to rip off the tickets, rather than scan.  I had no issue with that, but I needed some water.  I was already drenched in sweat - not my favorite way to be.

Once I was past the gates, I immediately got a tour guide.  As I told a friend of mine at the show, I stopped getting t-shirts because I could never fit into them.  Of course, I remembered, I have a friend who makes quilts and that was something I could have done - have a quilt made of the t-shirts.  I will have to keep that in my back pocket, but the tour guide satisfies my need to have something from the show.

While standing outside waiting to get the tour guide, I could feel blasts of cool air coming from inside the stadium.  I thanked God for that.  I was already melting and my make-up was running down my face.  I have decided that one simply cannot have decent make up and sit out in the Texas heat for any length of time.  It is a total waste.

I went into the stadium and it was overwhelming.  People everywhere and it was so HUGE.  First thing I needed to do, locate where my seat would be.  Second, get something to drink and eat.  Luckily, my seat was close, so not much of a walk to get to it.  Next, a consession stand was nearby and I got a drink and pretezel.  I went back to my seat to observe the stadium and the crowd.

About 8 PM, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals started their part of the show.  I was blown away by the group.  I found myself rocking to every tune - the band played 6 songs and they were very impressive.  The short set list was:

Never Go Back
Hot Summer Night
Ah Mary
Empty Heart
Alive Tonight
Nothing But The Water I
Paris (Ooh La La)

I highly recommend checking out the band.

During the intermission, I saw my former high school trigonometry teacher and co-worker from my IBM days.  It was so great to reconnect.  The funny thing is that my former teacher had been attending a lot of the same concerts I was attending.  My friend from IBM, this was the first time to see her in almost 25 years - she still looks great and just love her attitude.  I miss people like that - they are fun to work with and make work life enjoyable.

About 9:30 PM, the Rolling Stones took the stage.  Granted, my catalog of Stones music lacks, but I grew up listening to them as my mom was such a huge fan.  So many songs that others are so tired of because they are played so often, like "I Can't Get No Satisfaction", but I never tire of them.  I still jam to them because they are ageless.

The set list for the show was:

Jumpin' Jack Flash
It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)
Let's Spend the Night Together
Tumbling Dice
Doom and Gloom
Moonlight Mile
Rocks Off
(by request, preceded by a… more )
Honky Tonk Women
(followed by band introductions)
Before They Make Me Run
(Keith Richards on lead vocals)
(Keith Richards on lead vocals)
Midnight Rambler
Miss You
Gimme Shelter
Start Me Up
Sympathy for the Devil
Brown Sugar
You Can't Always Get What You Want
(with The University of Texas… more )
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

The one song that was left off this list was the band playing George Strait's "All My Ex's Live in Texas".  The crowd went wild over that.  I loved that the band tipped their hat to George Strait and I am not a George Strait fan.

You would think that these guys might slow down a bit, but Mick was running all over the stage.  He is definitely the poster boy for staying in good shape.  Watching Keith, Ron, and Charlie playing, the men were all smiles - they were having a blast playing and the backing band was doing it as well.

I ws blown away by their performance of "Bitch", "Happy", "Midnight Rambler", "Gimme Shelter", "Sympathy for the Devil", and "You Always Can't Get What You Want."  "Gimme Shelter" has always sent chills down my spine and one song I remember from when I lived in Little Rock, AR back in early 1971.  However, the goosebumps when Mick and Lisa Fischer did the song was all over my body.  I was in awe.

The University of Texas of Arlington choir did such a wonderful job singing on "You Can't Always Get What You Want."  I smiled and cried a bit because my mom would recite that song when there was something I wanted and she knew I had no business having it.

Of course, you just cannot have a Stones concert without the obligatory "I Can't Get No Satisfaction."  It was quite a night.  I walked out of the stadium on such a high.  I did not feel old - I felt like that 25 year old that is locked up in my head.  As I said, the band and music are ageless - it will never grow old only wiser.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Rolling Stones - Pre-Show...

Tonight, I will be seeing The Rolling Stones for the third time in my life.  Back in 1981, my parents bought the pay-per-view show for me and I was allowed to invite a couple of friends for viewing.  I had really wanted to attend the concert, but my mom was not very keen on the idea.  In 1989, I made it a point to see the Rolling Stones.  I did it again in 1994.

Now, do not get me wrong.  My mom was a HUGE Rolling Stones fan.  If she had been able to deal with masses of people and such, she probably would have went.  However, ticket prices and so forth just made no sense to her.  Heck - the ticket price for tonight probably would not have done much for her, either.

I will say this much, I am sitting in the back of AT&T Stadium and the ticket price for my ticket is not much more than what I paid in 1994 to see the Stones at the Cotton Bowl.  I remember that show - my friends and I got rained on all night, but we had a blast seeing Mick and the boys.  When I got home, my mom was waiting to hear all about the show.  As I said, she loved the Rolling Stones.

I look at going to see the show as another tribute to my mom.  I know that the band will play some of her favorite songs.  I can imagine seeing her dance around to "Get Off Of My Cloud" and "Under My Thumb."

Yesterday, I thought back to some of the shows I have been to see in the past few years.  Eric Clapton, The Who, and The Rolling Stones - all artists that my mother loved.  I would go see Steely Dan, but watching a concert in the middle of July heat at the old Starplex is not fun.  I remember seeing Depeche Mode there in July 2001.  I had gotten a ticket close to the stage - I got lucky.  Once the band started playing, I was up against the stage with everyone else and it was HOT.  Not just humid, but HOT.  By the time I made it back to my Beetle, all of my clothes were drenched in sweat - even my blue jeans and underwear were soaked.  Not particularly nice feeling, but it was a great show.

Today, rather than wearing the flip-flops as I did for Jimmy Buffet, I will be wearing my New Balance walking shoes.  Much better support and comfort for a long walk to and from AT&T Stadium to my car.  I should be able to make my step goal for the day today - I am pretty sure I have a mile or so to walk.

With any show, I am looking forward to seeing this one.  The Rolling Stones are a true testament to the longevity of Rock and Roll.  These men are in their mid-70s and getting up on stage to rock it out.  They are not doing it for the money - all of them have plenty of money.  These men are doing it because they love it.  They love to perform for their fans and they get energy from that.  That is what makes them so special.  They are what keeps rock and roll fans forever young.