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  Random scratch marks in the digital dirt...

March 28, 2004


He's back! The little kid who I used to bounce on my knee, or throw around in the pool is back from Iraq. He's not so little anymore...

Our regularly scheduled poker game was interrupted when the news that Daniel and Maeci were going to be in town hit the wires. A little planning and some favors called in netted us the makings of a great homecoming party. All of the family was there with a few neighbors and the regular poker crew in attendance.

I guess that I expected to get one of those bone-crushing handshakes from him when he walked into the room -- the bone-crushing bear hug threw me totally off balance! That little kid now towers over me, and a year in the desert has him in excellent shape. I don't think that I'll be throwing him around in the pool anymore...

We didn't get to talk much about his experiences over there -- just a few oblique references were made and I was left with a general feeling that life pretty much sucked over there. But the guage that I always use is the eyes, and his were clear and as light-hearted as ever. Of course his wife was always close by, and how could the world ever become clouded with Maeci around!

I found out from her that she's taking college classes in photography. Most new brides would be ecstatic with a place setting of their favorite china. I wonder what she'll think about the kinds of presents I prefer... Oh well, best to wait and see if this is really where her passion lies.

It was great to see Daniel again, and in such great spirits. I can't wait until the cruise so that we can really spend some time together.

Posted by mjwoods at 10:32 PM

March 27, 2004

Little Bird

03:00 and I'm wide awake staring at my screen here at home. Just finished with a series of calls to and from work -- nice to be responsible for software that I have no way of accessing. There's a secure system for you! Sometimes I swear that the 3rd shift operators just get lonely and want someone to talk to...

It doesn't appear that sleep will find me for a couple of hours, if then. It will be interesting to see how this will affect my tennis match today at Ridgelea -- perhaps I can take a short nap between games? Thank God it's a doubles match today! I don't know what I did to my left leg during Monday's practice (though three doubles sets and two singles sets might have had something to do with it), but it hurts like the dickens. But experience tells me that nothing is torn -- must be some of that old age stuff again...

So while I write away I think I'll listen to some Jerry Jeff Walker, seems to fit my mood presently. C&W music is tailor made for that wide-awake, 3 o'clock in the morning feeling.

I purchased a copy of Viva Terlingua back when I attended Texas Tech back in the early 70s, and it was one of my favorites at the time. It was a welcome reprieve from blasting my eardrums out to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Little Bird was, in my opinion, the best track on the album. I recently purchased the CD in a fit of nostaglia -- 'ol Scamp Walker sounds just the same...

Little Bird (Jerry Jeff Walker)
Little bird come set upon my window sill
Sat there thru the pourin' rain
I watched that little bird upon my window sill
I saw my thoughts of you go by again

Picture of my face on the window pane
Is it tears I see or is it rain?

I remember how we talked before we said goodbye
To young to notice the world outside our door
And how we laughed and said our love was free
Like birds that fly the winds
Well the rainy day made me think of you once more


I have no regrets about the past I see how young we were
When our world was love and life was but a thought
Many things go many ways and many times but once
Our lives have passed and that love is but a thought


So as the thoughts go tumblin' back I wonder how you loved
Wonder if you've seen that little bird
I wonder if he's sat upon your window sill
I wonder if you'll ever hear these words

Isn't it weird how sounds and words can transport you back to another time and place. Part of me can almost feel that little dorm room back in Lubbock with all of that dust everywhere. But this song also serves to bring back memories of a more contemporary nature. Funny, that normally doesn't happen to me.

Later today I'll get to see my nephew Daniel and his wife Maeci. This is a surprise visit -- I didn't expect to see him until June 12th when the whole clan embarks on the cruise out of Galveston. Mayan pyramids, snorkeling in Cozumel and whatever one does in Belize -- I can hardly wait. I'm toying with the idea of attempting to get The Teenager Formerly Known as Bailey to get her "C" card with me so that we can scuba in Belize. I know that I'm game.

Scuba? Sometimes I wonder if I have a death wish. Well, at least I won't be jumping out of an airplane this weekend like three of my co-workers will be doing. I kind of like the idea of exploring at two to three atmospheres as opposed to flailing away at 15,000 feet.

Sleep beckons finally, even though my destination is the couch. I hate the on call rotation, and pray that my pager is silent for the rest of the weekend. But pagers come with the territory along with the stress and conflict that is normal for this job. However, all of the negative baggage that comes with this job does make vacations just that much more enjoyable!

Posted by mjwoods at 03:57 AM

March 03, 2004

Things To Come

Finally, a relaxing evening spent at home. Daughter was off playing with the church orchestra. Wife was playing games on the computer and I was watching the Dallas Stars playing with their food. I love it when they dominate a game like they did tonight. I also love it when I have no work to bring home from the office. Alas, this is about to change.

As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times they are a changin’,” and they’re changing in a big way at work. We’re changing the underlying technology behind our application to something a bit more modern, and all that I can see ahead of me this year is a lot of pain. Implementations of this magnitude are generally planned and mapped for at least a year, and then a pilot system is implemented using a small subset of data. Of course, the business wants this thing installed and running before the year is over, and the software vendor hasn’t even delivered a working system. Beta releases of software are bad enough, but alpha releases are just disasters waiting to happen. “Hey Rocky, want to see me pull a rabbit out of my hat?” will be our project manager’s slogan! We even have a Russian woman in the department – perhaps I can get her to say “Moose and Squirrel” a couple of times. She looks nothing like Natasha Fatale of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame, but her accent is dead on.

The last time I walked into one of these projects I nearly lost my wife because I was away all of the time. Technology may prove to be a blessing this time around – a lot of the overtime can be done from the comfort of my home office, and I’ve got all the necessary tools to get the job done right here. And the folks on my team are very creative, even when working with stone knives and bearskins. We’ll survive, and we’ll deliver a working product. Sigh… It looks like it will be an interesting summer…

Posted by mjwoods at 10:50 PM

March 01, 2004

Before I Get Old

I’ve sometimes wondered if Pete Townshend ever regretted writing those lyrics in My Generation, “Hope I die before I get old.” Growing up in Richardson Texas in the late 60’s and early 70’s they made sense to me – they still do. But with close to fifty years of perspective on life, I’ve concluded that “old” is a state of mind. I look at my father-in-law, Irving, and see a man well into his 70’s who is just as young and fun loving as I’ve always been. He’s had too much fun in retirement to even think about getting old. Oh sure, he’s lost a step or two and I could probably beat him in racquetball now (but only just barely). Golf and his grandchildren keep the fires stoked inside of him, and there’s too much to do now for him to consider stopping.

I started to consider today what it would take for me to prevent growing old. I’ve got a pretty comfortable existence here in Flower Mound, but it’s a bit dull and not fulfilling in the least. So I started a list of things that would be neat to accomplish before I grow old. Some are attainable but some probably aren’t.

  1. Ski a black diamond slope at least once in my life. If it doesn’t kill me, I will be able to say “been there, done that, got the T-shirt.”

  2. Get my scuba certification and start joining Janie and Jaleh in all the fun.

  3. Travel to Greece. There’s no special significance to that desire other than I’ve always thought that it would be a fun place to visit.

  4. Drive a Top Fuel dragster at least 250 mph in the quarter mile. OK, this one is one that’s probably on the “not attainable” list. I’d settle for a couple of hot laps at the Texas Motor Speedway.

  5. Hike to the summit of Mauna Loa and witness some extraordinary sunrises and sunsets.

  6. Learn open water sailing and navigation.

  7. Travel to a foreign country for a while and do mission work.

  8. Make a meaningful difference in someone’s life that I’m not related to.

  9. Find contentment in life, even in spite of its disappointments and sorrows.

Well, this is just the first draft – I’m sure that I can come up with more as I contemplate the topic. Yes, most of it is self-centered, and I really need to work on those “giving to others” activities. But it’s a start…

Posted by mjwoods at 12:34 AM

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