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  Random scratch marks in the digital dirt...

May 26, 2003

A Pain in the... Knees?

There's just no way around it -- my body just plain HURTS. Looking on the bright side, however, I'm secure in the knowledge that what I'm feeling right now is much better than I'll feel in the morning...

Bailey finally talked me into taking her to the club today to hit some tennis balls. Before long, she'll be hitting consistently, but until then it's shots that barely make it over the net when I'm on the baseline (we haven't covered drop volleys yet), shots that sail over my head when I'm at the net (we haven't covered lobs yet, to the best of my knowledge), shots that go left when I'm on the right, etc... If I didn't know better, I'd swear that she was doing it on purpose.

Oh, I was nice to her, and hit shots at a pace that she'd have a chance of hitting back. Er, unless she hit wide to my forehand -- I just can't resist belting one cross court when that happens. The new strings are great, and the increase in tension that the pro put on them really improved my control and allows me to put a lot more topspin on the ball without drilling it through the back fence.

But now it's time to follow the advice given by a former friend, and start taking some meds to dull the pain. Tomorrow is a work day, and I've a lot to get done.

I managed to stay away from work for most of this holiday weekend. Two hours on Sunday was all that I allowed myself. I dread this phase of a project. You plan, design and test, and still the unexpected happens. Every evening that I had something planned last week was ruined due to work. Well, that's the career that I've chosen, and that sort of stuff comes with the territory. Rather than gripe about things, it's best to just work through it and pray that it's enough.

One more week of school for Lil Bit, then she's off to Dallas for a mission trip with church, then Baylor for band camp, a few art camps in there somewhere, then marching band boot camp. We may even work a vacation into the schedule if we're lucky...

Yes, my body aches, and reminds me of a wonderful afternoon spent with my daughter that I love like no other. I'd call that a fair trade...

Posted by mjwoods at 10:49 PM

May 16, 2003

Miles To Go

I cannot remember being this tired in quite a long time. Everything is hitting me at once -- home, work and now school...

Denise volunteered us to be chaperones at a school dance this evening. Thank God this is the last one of the year! I can remember how pathetic an experience it was when I was in junior high -- girls on one side, boys on the other. Thirty-five years haven't altered the social norms much, except now they have cRap music to dance to. But things started to get out of hand when the boys started the mosh pit, and the principal had to get on the PA and tell them to calm down. At least the music improved after the principal told the DJ to, er, cut the cRap...

All of this on top of little sleep. I worked until 02:00 this morning, and had to turn around and go back to the office this morning. I should probably put in a few hours this weekend, but right now I just want to relax and not think about anything in particular.

Unfortunately, my mind is racing right now, thinking about those million things that need to get done. Perhaps I'll just go down to the club tomorrow, get my racquet back from the pro and see how those new strings feel. Tennis anyone?

Posted by mjwoods at 11:49 PM

May 13, 2003

Detroit or Buffalo

When I was in high school, my sister Nancy worked at a local record shop. One of her perks was being able to take home the demo albums after the store was done with them. What a eclectic mix of music! Most of it too weird, but there were some gems to be had. Paul Butterfield was one -- my first exposure to the blues. Then there was Barbara Keith...

I loved her debut album, Barbara Keith, and played it all the time. Alas, after countless moves and getting tired of lugging around tons of vinyl albums I unloaded my collection somewhere along the way. It's taken me years to replace some of that collection, but some have been lost forever.

The other day, in one of those long random marches through cyberspace, I happened on a web site for the Stone Coyotes -- Barbara Keith's band. And she'd re-recorded my favorite song from her debut album, "Detroit or Buffalo." It took me about a minute to order it off of Amazon.com. It's playing in the background here now while I'm rambling on, sounding not too different from the 1972 version...

People expect you to fall
Hit that same old wall
Really they don't want to help at all
They talk behind your back today
Shake their heads and say
"Well, I always knew that girl would come to no good anyway"

Better pack up and go
Detroit or Buffalo
Anybody want to know where, you don't know
God knows, everybody got to go sometime
And I'm taking this train to the end of the line
Missing every mile that friend of mine

Week three at Citi finds me getting settled into the routine of life working for a large corporation. Things that didn't bother me as a consultant are starting to irritate me. Decisions made at 30,000 feet are having a negative impact down here at 1,000 feet. Thank God my coworkers are as insane as I am -- humor, even as dark as ours is, allows us to get through the day.

And I haven't been too well myself
A lot of time upon the shelf
Saying that I don't need help when I do
But I'm going to be just fine
A lot of friends, a little wine
Still I wish I could see you again sometime

Killer has been very quiet lately -- says there's nothing wrong, just busy. I can only imagine what it's like to put your mother in a nursing home, and the work involved getting all of the financial details ironed out. Still, I miss my emails from my friend, even though I understand what's going on.

And my favorite construction/audio/video/computer/philosophy consultant is going through a bit of turbulence right now. Four words -- James is an ass. You're much better off without him. Time will let you see that, eventually.

Better pack up and go
Detroit or Buffalo
Anybody want to know where, you don't know
God knows, everybody got to go sometime
And I'm taking this train to the end of the line
Missing every mile that friend of mine

Isn't that sooooo appealing -- just to be able to pick up an go somewhere for a while to sort things out? But not very practical I suppose. This time of the year is so busy -- work, Bailey's school year winding down, tennis, Bible studies, yard work -- life!

It's hard to open up the door
Like you've done so many times before
Sometimes you think you just can't do it anymore
Take a chance and take a train
Out into the pouring rain
All you've got is your suitcase full of pain

Well, that's a bit over the top, isn't it? I can balance all of the pain, disappointment and hurt in this life with the sheer joy of listening to my daughter playing an English Horn solo in band, or hearing her oboe come through clear as a bell in the orchestra at church. Sure, I wish some things had worked out differently in life, don't we all? But as bad as things have ever gotten in my life, it's still been great to be alive. Things work out as they should, and my life isn't over yet!

Better pack up and go
Detroit or Buffalo
Anybody want to know where, you don't know
God knows, everybody got to go sometime
And I'm taking this train to the end of the line
Missing every mile that friend of mine

­lyrics by Barbara Keith, © 1972 EMI Publishing

I received a nice complement today about my web page from someone that I haven't seen in close to thirty years, yet whom I remember like it was yesterday. It never ceases to amaze my wife that I can remember every lyric from every stupid sitcom from the 60s and 70s, but can't remember to tell her that her sister called this afternoon. Oh well, I've given up trying to explain that I'm wired differently. Some things you just have to accept...

Posted by mjwoods at 08:23 PM

May 06, 2003

Like A Deer Caught in the Headlights

Week Two at Citigroup started off much better than Week One, except for the mandatory orientation at work yesterday. The way that the session leader went on, I was sure that the day would end in a group hug. But I endured it, and managed to get home at a decent hour instead of collapsing on the couch when I got home. During dinner, Don called and told me to grab my tennis racquet and meet him at the club. I knew what to expect, yet I still went. Call me an optimist...

I hate the first of anything in the year. The first time to mow the lawn is a beating. The first swim in the pool turns my lips blue because the water is so cold. And the first time on the tennis court is a portrait of frustration.

When I arrived, all of the courts were full, but two of his buddies got a court before us, and asked us to join them for some doubles. I haven't touched a racquet since the fall, and it showed. No timing, no serve, knees that refused to bend and feet encased in concrete.

Ah, but it felt great to be back on the court! This was my first time to play outdoors at the DFW Hilton. Nice courts, but it's a bit disconcerting to toss the ball for a serve and catch sight of a 747 on short final. They kind of blot out the sky when they're going that low and slow...

Of course we just couldn't spend the evening practicing groundstrokes -- we had to play three sets. Surprisingly enough, my serve wasn't a total disaster. Very rusty, but I managed to get quite a few over the net and into the correct box.

But along with a rusty serve come rusty strokes and poor tactical decisions on my part. Yeah, I know that I'm supposed to cover the middle when you get pulled wide to the right Don. But I was comfortable standing where I was in those concrete shoes. I was sure that you understood -- I was still in shock over that volley that I scrambled to get back over the net earlier. Yes, it made it over the net. Very shallow in the opponent's court. In the middle of the court. About shoulder high. Absolutely no velocity. A sitting duck...

Yes, I suppose that I did look like a deer caught in the headlights right before the ball was smashed at me. It's funny to remember it now, and it was a good lesson to remember -- always angle towards the side and use a drop volley. And if all else fails, at least turn the body to present a smaller target!

It felt great to get out and work up a sweat. My strokes will return soon. It looks like it will be a fun summer...

Posted by mjwoods at 11:05 PM

May 03, 2003


Well, it appears that I have survived my first week as a regular employee at Citigroup. I didn't expect to see much overtime this soon, but managed to put in a bit this week. Sadly, most of it was around the 2400 to 0200 timeframe...

Nobody likes to work it, but it's a necessary evil in info tech. I'm not going to complain about it however. I'm not even going to gripe about the overtime pay that I missed out on because of the change in my status. It was babysitting, pure and simple, and done from the comfort of my office at home.

Ariba! It's the weekend. Finally! Time to rest and relax... except tonight is the "official" birthday sleepover for my daughter. So instead of sleeping, I'm up blogging and hoping that the ceiling doesn't come crashing down. Well, they seem quiet enough right now, but I'm expecting screams at any moment due to the scary movies that they're watching right now.

I can't believe that my daugher is fourteen years old. The years do fly by! I pray that the next few years aren't as rough for us as it has been for other friends of ours with older children. The war stories that they tell are frightful.

Posted by mjwoods at 10:59 PM

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