James Martini archive

Category : Family (18)

Three years of silence

Categories: Family, Journal, Social Media
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Published on: August 5, 2018

I’ve been disconnected from social media for two years now. I still occasionally shitpost on reddit but that’s a habit I’ve largely broken myself of. I find, however, that I do need to find someplace to write things down that is both isolated enough from the internet that I don’t get much traffic but public enough that it’s accessible to the people who matter so I’ve dusted off this old wordpress blog. I shuttered it about the time I withdrew from most social media engagement and put the house in AR up for sale for the move to OR; too much to do, too little time.

Going back through the posts and republishing what had been previously made private simply reaffirms that keeping some form of journal is a good idea. I’ve been reminded of things I’d forgotten and identified trends and behaviors that you don’t see in your day to day grind. The short notes about life with my wife and daughter are what took me most by surprise. The reminders of how my little girl has been growing up and how much I love my wife hit hard.

I don’t get the last three years of silence back. I don’t know what I’ve forgotten but the value of keeping some sort of journal, even if it’s just to jog my own memory, is clear.

There’s never a can of spinach around when you need one

Categories: Family, Journal, Social Media
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Published on: January 6, 2014

I try to stay away from facebook but it’s simply too good of a tool for staying in touch with people. The problem is that it’s a really easy way to stay in touch with people and is turning into a means of broadcasting opinions on subjects which, honestly, are forbidden from polite conversation for a reason.

I read and I hold my tongue. People I love and respect say things that I would absolutely refuse to pass unchallenged over dinner or a beer and I hold my tongue. People a know tangentially say things which would get them stabbed with a butter knife if they had been spoken in my presence and I hold my tongue. And then I can’t hold my tongue anymore. I’ve had all I can stand and I can’t stand no more.

The problem is that my outbursts are making a wreck of my wife’s friendships and she’s pleaded with me to start writing in a blog rather than continue to ensure that we will die friendless and alone. I’ve never been good at listening to someone say something stupid and then go off and write a blog post about it. I tend to get into people’s faces. It somehow feels more honest. But, for the love I hold for my wife and for her mental well being, I’ll again try to redirect my spleen here rather than use it to power my low orbit ridicule cannon.

Ten seconds, twenty years ago

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Published on: November 20, 2011

One afternoon in the early 90s I was walking on the 3rd St Promenade in Santa Monica with my friend Heather when I heard what can only be described as the sound of unadulterated joy. A little girl, about three years old, was getting her face licked by a friendly dog and laughing like only a child can laugh. It was my memory of that moment that eventually led to my wife noticing me and eventually to having a daughter of my own.

I’m going to go tickle her now.

Persistence of memory

Categories: Buddhism, Family
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Published on: October 6, 2011

Emily was interested in amnesia today when I picked her up from school. She got around to it by asking about automobile accidents and brain damage but eventually settled on amnesia; what it is, how you get it, what you forget and for how long. I can’t say I’m an expert on brain damage but we spent the drive to her choir practice discussing memory and it’s loss.  One thing that she asked that particularly stood out was her question of whether you changed who you are if you lost your memory. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation went (it’s like rain on your wedding day) but here’s the gist of it.

We’re always changing. Who I am now, this moment, is slightly different from who I was a moment ago but is quite different from who I was ten, twenty or thirty years ago. We don’t notice the changes because they’re small but they do add up over time.

The other side of that coin, however, is that my memory of who I was yesterday, last week, last month and last year acts as a guide for who I will be tomorrow. I remember being a daddy and an engineer and a Buddhist yesterday so there is a very good chance that tomorrow I will continue to be a daddy and an engineer and a Buddhist. Remembering who I was yesterday, I’m going to get up in the morning and go into where I worked yesterday, life is very much the same. The chance that I’ll get up and go get a job making coffee at Starbucks is pretty slim.

But what if I’d lost my memory and didn’t remember who I was or where I worked? The chance that I would go out and get a job working as a java monkey is going to be a lot higher. I like the way coffee smells and, not knowing I have the skills of an engineer, it might seem like a good thing to do. Without the memory of who I was yesterday there is suddenly a much larger chance that my life is going to take off in a wildly different direction.

But that’s just my job, where I live, what I think my name is. Is that really me? Will I still be grumpy in the morning if I don’t remember being grumpy? I could see her trying to work out what part of who I am was left when my memories of who I was were gone.

The drive ended at that point but I think we’d agreed that I’d still be grumpy in the morning.

It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again

Categories: Buddhism, Family
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Published on: August 20, 2011

I’ve been an asshole today. It started out okay, I went out this morning and picked up donuts for my daughter and also surprised my sister-in-law and niece with some as well. There was some confusion regarding what Jyllian wanted and what I thought they were called so I picked her up a big cinnamon roll. Pickings were scarce and the bakery was like a combination mob scene and Running Man food riot.

Anyway, I was feeling all good about myself and puffed up with what a good Dad and all around great guy I was when I brought Jyllian coffee and the cinnamon roll. What I didn’t remember was that she’d gotten sick after eating a cinnamon roll a couple weeks before. She said “ugh” as her stomach rolled over and handed the plate to Emily which completely let all the air out of my inflated self esteem. I didn’t get the praise and accolades I was looking forward to. How dare she!

With my vanity wounded I barked out something that inadvertently hurt her feelings and went downstairs to nurse my bruised ego. I ended up working out in the yard; mowed the grass, cleaned up dead leaves, watered the plants and moved the woodpile to it’s new location, holding on to my anger and wounded pride the entire time. I finally had to come in as it was after noon, over a hundred degrees and I was flirting with heat stroke.

After a shower and some water I sat down in my office to finally have a cup of coffee and that cinnamon roll while I read only to find that Zak had vomited hair into the top air vent of my desktop computer. All the anger came rushing back and I spent the next hour cleaning my office and generally barking at anyone who came within twenty feet of me. I got my office clean but made my daughter cry and barked “I’m not angry!” at Jyllian which would have been funny at any other time.

The girls went out to go swimming while I continued to work on my office and clean up the house. With the quiet and lack of targets for me to blame for my assholery I had to admit that I was the one acting out and that my girls had been trying to find a way to help me feel better.

I’d love to say that I’ve learned and grown from this experience but to be honest this isn’t the first time I’ve just been a general ass to everyone around me simply because things weren’t going my way or I’d had my pride stepped on. Next time maybe I’ll pull my head out of my ass a little more quickly though.

I txted Jyllian an apology and spent some time hanging one of the strings of prayer flags she and Emily got me for Father’s Day which have been buried in the general chaos of my office. I also made space for another present that Jyllian got me, my Buddha Board, by putting my desktop machine under my desk where the cat can’t vomit on it as easily.

Tibetan prayer flagsI’ll hang the second string soon but have to trim the evil holly bush with the sharp leaves before I can get a clear run from the house to the tree. I’m sure there’s some lesson lurking in that statement but, to be honest, I’m a little too wiped out at the moment to try being profound.

Achievement Unlocked!

Categories: Family, Fitness, Gaming
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Published on: August 14, 2011

I’ve tried a number of ways of staying motivated when it comes to exercise and other long term goals. I’ve written the goals out, stuck them to my wall, put reminders in my phone, just about everything recommended to self motivate but in the long run it’s usually failed. I even tried recasting the activities in my mind as ‘leveling up’ various stats i.e. the gamer’s fitness program.

Looking back, everything I always achieved at had some sort of cert, diploma or other badge of completion at the end. When playing MMOs I always set my eye on the high end achievements and every session attempted to make some progress towards that goal. The more difficult the achievement the more I wanted it. The Loremaster? No problem. Hand of A’dal? Now we’re talking.

A few weeks ago I really didn’t feel like going to the gym. I wasn’t sick or anything, just being generally lazy but I went anyway. When I got back I posted the following on Facebook: “Achievement Unlocked: I Lift Things Up And Put Them Down.” It got a few odd responses from friends who either didn’t play video games or hadn’t seen the Planet Fitness ad. I didn’t realize it at the time but I may have finally hit on the perfect motivational tool for hardcore gamers.

I like gaming for the relaxing pass time that it is and don’t get overly wound up by pvp losses or wiping in raids. I enjoy pvp and raiding for themselves and while motivated to win I can accept losses as part of the ebb and flow of the game. Achievements, however, are another matter. A list of achievements does something deep down in a part of my brain that is obsessively neat and ordered. I will choose an achievement and work towards it with each gaming session. I won’t make myself unhappy with grinding but each achievement comes with a set of goals and each play session allows me to take a step towards those goals. In short, it focuses and guides what would otherwise be unstructured game play.

Yesterday, while working on this website, I thought it might be funny to include an Achievements page like those found in most MMOs and on XBox. I jotted a few down and found that as I went more and more came to mind. Joke achievement lists I’d seen on the internet were looked up and merged in and I started looking at expanding the list beyond just fitness. The list currently stands at 24 achievements and is growing.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal but I’ve spent thousands of hours playing games and pursuing achievements over the past few years. That’s thousands of hours of training my mind to hold on to a goal and to shape my actions towards achieving it.

I put the list up yesterday. As I went about my day today I realized that the list was in the back of my mind and that I was sorting out what could be done in the short term and what needed a long term siege approach, which achievements could be worked on simultaneously and which ones it wasn’t feasible to do at the same time. By plugging my goals into the same achievement/reward model I’ve been trained to pursue by MMOs it looks like I can leverage years of conditioning to accomplish real life goals.

I’m pretty sure that after reading this my wife is going to hack my wordpress account so she can add housework achievements to the list.

I secretly envy Wil Wheaton’s beard.

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Published on: August 14, 2011

Me: I should probably shave before church.
Jyllian: Maybe
Me: I don’t know, the stubble does make me look roguish.
Jyllian: …
Me: It’s all right, you can say yes.

The Wife’s Desktop Melts Down

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Published on: August 11, 2011

After an unrelenting, record breaking succession of 100+ degree days we finally got some rain and a little thunder and lightning to go with it. My yard is no longer threatening to spontaneously combust but the gods of rain exacted their price: my wife’s desktop computer.

The lightshow started after we’d already gone to bed and neither of us thougth to shut down and unplug all the computers. Apparently hers was still awake and doing some software update when we’re guessing a power spike scrambled the hard drive like my morning eggs. It refused to boot and diagnostics mentioned some vague error regarding the hard disk.

Unfortunately, my wife is the archiver of all the digital photos and video and not all of it had been backed to an external drive. If we don’t get the disk up and running we’ll have lost a significant amount of the summer’s photos not to mention the other documents that were not backed up to the external drive.

She’s spent a chunk of the evening attempting to get the recovery CDs to get her to a prompt from which we can chkdsk the filesystem but recovery CDs are apparently a sick joke and do not appear to be independantly bootable. I was able to boot to linux and confirm that the disk is working but couldn’t mount the data filesystem as NTFS has an heroed.

Next steps:

  1. Attempt to boot using my Win7 DVD to get a recovery shell
  2. Failing that, I’m pulling the drive out, mounting it in my desktop to try and chkdsk it from there.
  3. UPS with power conditioning. Surge suppressors are like thin gauze to the power fluctuations rampaging through what is laughingly called a power grid here in NW AR.
  4. NAS or a RAID 5 fileserver for backups. I’m thinking about putting a rack in my office closet to host a reasonably robust file server and router/proxy to keep Emily off 4chan.

Bridging the gulf with EVE

Categories: Family, Gaming
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Published on: August 10, 2011

I never talk to my brother which a lot of people find strange because we’re twins. I don’t really know what it is but  it never occurs to me to pick up the phone and call him. It works the same for him. No big deal really. I love him and sometimes think about him but we never pick up the phone.

EVE OnlineSo one afternoon I posted a random error message from EVE online to my facebook page: insufficient power. About an hour later my brother responded with another warning from EVE online: I cannot set a waypoint to the same location twice. We’d been playing the same online game for years.

A few days later I logged into EVE and had an email from my brother so I added him to my watch list. A couple days after that we happened to be online at the same time and started chatting. Mostly a little catching up but he recommended that I look into joining his corp.

A few days after that I’d applied to and been accepted to his corp. Since then I’ve had more communication with my twin than I’ve probably had in the last five years combined. I know what he’s up to with his college and internship, how things are going with his kids and generally have regular conversations with him via corp chat and our personal channel. I’ll probably get him a headset with a mic for christmas so we can actually talk to each other.

After decades of only rarely speaking I now have frequent chats with Scott and he’s even on board for my guild/social experiment idea in Star Wars: The Old Republic when it launches.

Cemetery ducks

Categories: Buddhism, Family, Life
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Published on: August 14, 2010

Spent some time feeding the graveyard ducks with Emily in the morning. The ducks and geese were generally well behaved. As we left I noticed that someone had broken the face off a small Buddha statue that is near the back “entrance” to the cemetery.

Errands and cleaning followed by a visit from Laura, Cedar and Sam.

Spent some time in the evening recovering lost notes for Memento. The virtual machine is gone but I set up a new wiki for project notes and identified a couple books to read.

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