Saturday, November 22, 2008

heavy d

i'm at day 11 of my new vitamin d regimen.

i think it's helping.

coming out of a crazy, stupid-busy, pressurized last 4 months, i had every reason to be ecstatic. the bolus of work and conferences was behind us, to rave reviews. and the unlikely candidate i supported for president? he actually won.

you'd think that would warrant a few moments of giddy joy or at least some simple satisfaction, wouldn't you? instead, there was nothing.

no highs. no lows. just this droning hum of indifferent in-between.

somewhere in this timeframe, a colleague noted that while the fall glut of work had passed, the winter nimiety of work was already upon us. and that we had some pretty cool projects coming up.

it was true -- we have an embarrassment of job security and professionally gratifying work at spaceneedl sprockets. and i could not have cared less. it just looked like drudgery to me.

what the hell is that? it's no way to live, that's fo sho.

about that time, coincidently, i learned that a deficit of vitamin d has been corrolated to seasonal affective disorder and depression. and that people in northern climes often don't get enough vitamin d due to the dearth of sunshine.

huh. i've cut a lot of d-rich dairy out of my diet over the past few years. and i hardly ever get outside anymore. when i do, i'm usually covered head to toe in layers of fleece.

the takeaway appears to be: no sun, no fun.

but wait! there's another possibility. it's called dysthemia, a long-lasting, low-grade depression -- kind of an ongoing, functional funk.

yes, that sounds about right. i'd characterize it as a constant just-going-through-the-motions, unenthusiastic, "whatever" kind of existence.

who needs that? not i.

so i'm taking the vitamin d. i think i notice a difference beyond a placebo effect. i'm feeling better about things. of course the fact that i'm taking the next nine days off to stay home with my children may have something to do with that.

either way, i'll take it. because while i don't expect a steady state of bliss and chirpy bluebirds to accompany my every step...i think i deserve a little sunshine once in a while.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

close to home

ex-employee: you know, i'm just old enough to be flattered by the term, 'early retirement.'
employer: that's wonderful...what a lovely line. now, if there's anything i can do for you...
ex-employee: well, i certainly hope you'll die soon.

mrs. spaceneedl works for a global technology company.

they make all kinds of products, from well-known consumery stuff to completely obscure, opaque medical stuff.

the missus is the smart one in the family; she works on the medical stuff. and because she's the smart one in the family, she also brings home the big money.

i'm an evolved male, so i have no problem with that.

the problem, in this scenario, is that her company is laying people off.

they're killing projects and kicking people to the curb. the layoffs are arbitrary and unrelated to length of service or past performance. if you were one of the unfortunates to be working on a defunded project, you were also on the list for involuntary cessation.

here's the kicker: mrs. spaceneedl's project was one of the ones that was cancelled. miraculously she still has a job.

apparently she was on the list of future former employees, but her boss saved her. she almost literally had one foot in the unemployment line. now she faces the anguished task of telling 15 people they're out of a job.

on the one hand, we feel very fortunate. on the other, we feel very unstable. we're a two-income family, and are not set up to sustain a one-income scenario. particularly at a time when the phrase "the steepest economic decline in decades" has entered the vernacular, the stock market is crashing, and the jobless rate has hit 6.5%.

this time last year we went to the little needls' school auction and spent a bunch of money. we rationalized it because it was for a good cause. this year we're not going. still a good cause. just not a good time to spend money we're not sure we'll be able to replace.

big picture-wise, this is how a tenuous situation turns ugly. consumers stop spending, producers stop manufacturing, borrowers stop borrowing, banks stop lending. suddenly a recession turns depressing.

perhaps this level of angst is unnecessary. maybe we're overreacting, and maybe we'll look back and laugh whilst sipping expensive champagne.

that'd be nice.

for now, we're just thankful to have a fridge that one day might chill some celebratory bubbly.

in the meantime, we'll wait. and watch. and hope.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


i work with an african-american woman from chicago.

earlier today i told her i was worried. that i had no faith in americans to do the right thing.

she said she had faith. and that she began celebrating the day obama won the democratic nomination, because she never thought she'd see such a day.

she said no matter what happened today, tomorrow would be a day to celebrate.

she was right.

about everything.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

what really happens II

welcome to the hotel california. you can check out any time you like. but you can never leave.

they tell you "what happens in vegas stays in vegas."

what they don't tell you is that vegas is the land of the living dead. and the reason nothing leaves is that the city eats your brain.

i know. i saw it myself. i believe i escaped because i was doped up on nyquil the entire time i was there. the medication and my underlying illness lent me the pallor and demeanor and mental acuity of the undead. so i was free to wander, unnoticed.

back in the day i occasionally traveled to las vegas for "fun." to meet some buddies, play some golf, and donate some money to the local economy. also to ogle young women. for the record, as mentioned, this was back in the day. pre-mrs. spaceneedl.

even then, i sensed the undead around me. haggard, disheveled blank-eyed, they'd shamble aimlessly through the casinos, careening from table to table. on the golf course they'd run their carts into palm trees, and spray tee shots into the desert terrain.

(of course, by that standard, i was one of them.)

that was then. now, it's orders of magnitude worse. fabulous temples and monuments to the undead have proliferated across the landscape. expansive casinos, still filled with sinus-eating smoke, lure the living and not-so-lively alike. the dealers and pit bosses, possessed of an evil somnolence, greedily sweep the tables of living (if not livable) wages.

and the customers hand it over, without protest.

i don't gamble often. we can't afford the luxury, and the missus wouldn't sanction it even if we could. but trips to vegas are few and far between, so i don't feel too much remorse over a rare game of craps.

i enjoy the game. thus, even in my debilitated condition, i was ready to throw some money down and throw some dice around.

the undead chased me away.

every table i approached was surrounded by them. people with unhappy expressions, exhaling smoke, mindlessly throwing chips into the void. no one showed any sign of life, let alone any indication they were having fun. the young people looked old, the old people looked dessicated.

i stood there with my stack of chips, taking it all in, vainly looking for an oasis of life anywhere in the pit. at one point, i almost joined in anyway. can you believe it? i was thisclose to knowingly and willingly becoming one of them.

maybe the nyquil wore off at just the right time. maybe a better angel lit on my shoulder at that very moment. maybe there, on the brink, some deeply buried neocortical survival instinct kicked in.

i left the casino, and left town the next morning. i still had my money, still had my passport to the land of the living.

but it was entirely too close.

"what happens in vegas stays in vegas."

yes. of course it does. but not in the way they want you to believe. and not in a way you'll like.