Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Decisions, decisions (while blindfolded)

How does a person make a major decision about their life? What sorts of thoughts and feelings should be brought to bear when one is at such a crossroads? How zealous should one be about their work, and how should work be weighted with the rest of their life? What is important and what would a balanced situation be between working to live versus living to work? I suppose this not only varies for each person, but also changes with regard to the circumstances and environment surrounding each person as they move through life.

Though I have a number of options I'm still looking into for my next bout of employment, or at least I think I have them as options-it's hard to know for sure, I do not really know how I would go about making this decision if I actually knew that all of them were on my plate this very day.

Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am. A reluctant enthusiast and part-time crusader. A half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the West. It is even more important to enjoy it while you can, while it’s still there. So get out there, hunt, fish, mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the Griz, climb a mountain, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and elusive air. Sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness of the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves. Keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive. And I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in safe deposit boxes and their eyes hypnotized by their desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.
–Edward Abbey

That sounds like a good proposition, Ed. Now how do I find the balance? It would be nice to not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Historic Summer

Settle yourself down, and hearken to me as I spin a tale of an age long past. The year was 1999, and I was in the waning days of my third year of collegiate studies for my B.S. at the University of Kansas. I was planning on spending the summer taking thermodynamics, and I needed to find some sort of basic employment to earn a little money while living over on Daisy Hill in one of the residence halls. I found such employment at the Southwind 12 movie theater, and though it was a pretty mind-numbing job it did have the benefit of free passes to as many movies as I could watch. We even got to screen films the night before they opened, and it was quite a summer to have free access to the silver screen.

Some of the better films that came out that summer of 1999 were The Matrix, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, The 6th Sense, The Mummy, and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Some fairly middle of the road movies released were Eyes Wide Shut, American Pie, and The General's Daughter.

There were a few pretty horrible flicks that I also was glad I didn't have to pay anything to see, which included Deep Blue Sea, The Haunting, and (it burns, it burns) Wild Wild West. Yes, such depths to which Hollywood will stoop were plumbed all too often that summer.

The last movie I screened as an employee was The Blair Witch Project, which was a lot of fun. Nobody had seen it yet, and everybody on the theater crew was pretty "into" the viewing experience. One girl cried through a lot of the movie, and had to leave the theater near the end, as she was so freaked out. When we walked out to the lobby after the film's disturbing conclusion, we found that outside the building was enshrouded with a thick fog. It was so thick that we could barely see the first rank of cars in the parking lot. That was a good, creepy way to bid "adieu" to my summer as an employee in the motion picture industry. I actually had finished my summer class and was headed out to Colorado for a camping trip during which I visited the Great Sand Dunes, hiked up Mt. Elbert, and white water rafted a stretch of the Arkansas River. I borrowed my parents' Eureka brand tent, which also happened to be the same model that the kids in The Blair Witch Project used. Everything is connected...

Anyhow, the real highlight of this summer was the fact that on May 19 a little film titled Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace debuted. I had made the effort to keep myself totally ignorant of spoilers about the movie. Over the months leading up to the debut, I had not watched any of the previews, looked and read nothing about the movie online, and generally done my best to make it to opening day without knowing the least bit of what was in store for me once I headed back to that galaxy far, far away. I took one of my friends to the afternoon screening at the Southwind 12, and had a wonderful time. That evening, I didn't have to work, so went to a much bigger theater (the Westglen 18) near KC with a bunch of my friends. Being the total Star Wars nerd I am, I went on to see The Phantom Menace another 15 times over the course of the summer of 1999. I, like the Mackenzie Brothers, did not know when to call it quits, eh.

A double-bladed lightsaber! Now I can die a happy man!

Anyhow, I freely admit I thought the movie had its ups and downs, but you have to give it to TPM that its climactic lightsaber duel was probably the most athletically and technically impressive of that shown in all 6 films. It was enough to put me back in the theater time and time again, even if I'd nod off for a while during the middle of the movie.

Anyhow, what brought this all to mind was a trip back up to Lawrence this weekend. My brother and I went to Liberty Hall and saw the buddy road trip comedy Fanboys, which I think any self-respecting Star Wars fan would be remiss to not seek out in theaters or when it comes to video. It was a nice reminder of those lighter times.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Keep on keeping on

Hi all,

The strength of a man's virtue should not be measured by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts.
~Blaise Pascal

Well, another week has passed, but I feel no closer to any sort of positive resolution to this quest for employment. It increasingly seems like some doors may have closed for the time being, and for who knows how long. It would be reassuring to know they aren't irrevocably closed, but time and tide wait for no man. I, being merely a man, therefore cannot and do not expect any sort of special treatment. It would be nice to get another chance to demonstrate my work ethic and adaptability, though. I do have some lofty goals that I would like to keep chasing.

You may not have any extra talent, but maybe you are just paying more attention to what you are doing.
~Alan Shepard

At least I'm keeping busy enough not to be quite this bored yet...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where, oh where, has my little dog gone?

Well, our 17-year-old basset hound Sadie has been MIA for over a week now. We've been keeping a weather eye for her, but no dice. She definitely had a good life here in the country.

Many a rabbit she chased. Seeing that dog at full speed was a thing of unsurpassed beauty. Sadie had ears so long as a puppy that she'd trip on them walking uphill. She had these great crooked legs with big old paws, as well as that lovely mass of excess flesh that helped her oh-so-capable nose work its wonders.

As an adult, Sadie's bark was a deep, chesty one, and it was always fun to hear her get excited when on the hunt in her younger years. Unleash the hounds!!! She definitely slowed down as age did its thing, and she eventually developed a whole network of nests and napping spots that would be carefully cycled throughout the day (adjusted for wind, of course) as the sun and shade moved across the yard.

Being gone for over a year to the South Pole made the changes that advanced age had wrought upon our little friend pretty obvious to me. While I was away she lost most of her sight and hearing, and she would do a lot of walking in circles out in the yard. It was sad to see that the old hound that would come put her chins on your leg, when sitting outside, in search of food or scratchin' had changed so much. There were no more ecstatic greetings with the tail wagging the dog as you got out of your car. She lived a long life, and I choose to believe she decided to check out on her own terms. The little yapping puppy and the wizened hound will live on in our hearts and memories. Farewell friend.

Other than all the smoke from pastures being burned in the area and finishing my income tax preparation, there is not much else to report from here. Spring is trying to shoulder winter aside, but we have been having some relatively cold temperatures at night. I'm still essentially in the same holding pattern on the job hunt. Oh well, chalk it up as a learning experience.

We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! We may conjecture many things.
~John Wesley Powell, The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons