Friday, March 30, 2007

Responding to mr. singer's comment

Blogger peter singer has posted a critical commentary on a recent posting.

I respect his right to dissent, but I believe it is wasted energy on his part.

This blog is not intended to be a panoramic view of my life. It is largely a journal of someone trying to make sense of his past relationships and questioning whether a new course is needed for the future.

The larger question of man's inhumanity to man, beast, and environment is beyond the scope of this blog. With that understanding, his comments make about as much sense as someone berating a mystery novel for lacking a decent explanation of elliptic curve cryptography.

The blogosphere is a like a large bookstore (or a good independent bookseller, if you eschew the corporate chains). If you spend your time looking for treatises on how to achieve social justice in the Self-Help book section, you're going to be one very frustrated patron.

For the record, I am well aware of the suffering the pervades the world, and I devote time and energy to causes where I can make a meaningful contribution. I do these things quietly, and I don't feel the need to trumpet them from this space. I derive my validation from the difference it makes, not for the sake of gaining approval from my audience.

I took a look at mr. singer's blog, and I sense a pretty strong undercurrent of outrage at many things, by his own admission, he is at times consumed by hatred.

In closing my response, I'll pull out an excerpt from the works of Lennon and McCartney:

You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait

It's gonna be all right.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

An Ironic Vignette for Your Amusement

Many married moms, 10 times out of 10, would rather have a marathon cookie-baking section rather than do something spontaneous or fun with just her husband.

-- Anonymous, "Re: Single Moms / Why some husbands leave their wives", Best of [1]

In yesterday's post, I wrote:
This past weekend, she made mention of maybe having sex later on this week since it had been so long. I responded with a neutral "OK", expressing neither enthusiastic anticipation nor sarcastic skepticism. I knew better than to get my hopes up, and it was pointless to get indignant.

I was reminded of the excerpt above this week when my wife was busy baking and decorating three dozen cupcakes for the preschool co-op's parent education night for which the topic was how to discuss sexuality with kids, especially in their young years.

Some of the cakes were made from a German chocolate cake mix, and those were topped with toasted coconut and topped with those chocolate easter eggs with the hard candy shell, so they looked like little birds nests.

The other cakes were made with a yellow cake mix and topped with a large mound of yellow colored butter creme icing to make a beehive. Jellybeans were then attached to the hive for the bees, and slivered almonds served as wings.

The class itself was very helpful, and the featured speaker provided a lot of useful advice about how to deal with kids' questions.

Had I been really thinking, I would have asked Therese's question. I'm kind of surprised no one else did.

[1] -- DISCLAIMER: Quotation of the post does not mean that this blogger endorses the full contents of the post. Indeed the author goes over the top in several instances, so read with a tongue in cheek or at least a few grains of salt.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Coming up for Air

No couple can maintain a marriage solely in the growth cycle -- those who try burn out quickly. True, highly differentiated people don't see the outer circle as being terrifying, as do emotionally fused couples, and they enter it more readily. But even they need time for reflection and grounding.

-- Dr. David Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 358

This space has been quiet. A mixture of time demands has deprived me of quiet interludes that foster in-depth analysis. The process of self-confrontation continues, but it has been in the background.

Updating the Job Search

A few weeks ago, I sent out two more resumes for local leads, positions that seemed promising. I got a reply from one of the businesses, a recruiter who said my resume looked interesting and said that she would forward it to the hiring manager. I haven't heard anything since then.

In the next couple weeks, I will make two trips to the West Coast for interviews. The first will be early next week, up in the Pacific Northwest. The second will be two weeks thereafter, deep in the Silicon Valley. For the latter, the Drunken Housewife has kindly provided me with useful information on local public transportation, so that I can get from my interview to the airport swiftly, safely, and with a modicum of environmental sensitivity.

Another lead, located in a southern city known for its music scene, has surfaced after about a month of no replies. It is a contract-to-hire position for a subsidiary of one of the organizations that shepherds royalties to songwriters.

They have some technology that is used to identify song for radio airplay tracking, and they are in need of a developer who is penguin friendly, and indeed I maintained a dual boot development system for my work at my former employer. I may be doing a phone interview with them late next week. The job is about a five hour drive from my home.

There is one other lead, a small web company located in New England, but I'm not fully sold on that company. The guy I interviewed with had one of the geekiest (in the most socially inept sense of the word) phone presences I have encountered in a long time.

They have requested some sample code, which presents me with a quandry because it has been a long time since I wrote any sizable amount of code that wasn't protected by a non-disclosure agreement. I took this as a motivation to put together a small software project that could demonstrate some coding prowess.

It's taken me about a week so far, and there's quite a bit of work left to go, but it has been a good exercise because it is completely original code, untainted by any licensing or intellectual property baggage. A lot of time that would have spent blogging has gone into it, and it has kept me from stressing and obsessing over where the rest of my life is headed.

Today, I talked with my wife about the possible availability of relocation assistance for the job in the South. She got tense, almost teary eyed, and restated her position that she will not move. She said she understood that I needed to pursue these leads, but she said that she "wasn't strong enough" to make the move to anywhere.

The Circus that is Work

The past month or so has been coding intensive, and we're almost at the point where we can test to see if two sides of a network infrastructure can actually communicate. If that wasn't a big enough drain, the CTO conscripted me into the drudgery of standards group work.

This is stuff that he should have completed last fall, but he's overscheduled himself and dropped the work on me with about a week and a half before a meeting that he would present the findings to. I worked on it like a trooper, and sent the finished product to him a day before he wanted the draft materials. I have no idea whether he's even taken a look at it, and the technical meeting wrapped up yesterday.

I've managed to pinpoint what bugs the hell out of me about him. He is a textbook example of what software developer Joel Spolsky calls a hit-and-run micromanager. Quoting the author's own blog essay:
That’s where you micromanage one developer in a spurt of activity and then suddenly disappear from that developer’s life for a couple of weeks while you run around micromanaging other developers. The problem with hit and run micromanagement is that you don’t stick around long enough to see why your decisions are not working or to correct course. Effectively, all you accomplish is to knock your poor programmers off the train track every once in a while, so they spend the next week finding all their train cars and putting them back on the tracks and lining everything up again, a little bit battered from the experience.

In this case, it's not that he's busy managing other developers, because there is only one other developer besides me. It's that he is busy with too many things.

A lot of it is flying around the country, trying to do a sales pitch to potential customers for a software product that largely doesn't exist. I didn't realize the sheer extent of the vaporware aspect of their marketing until a few weeks ago when I heard him do the pitch on a conference call. He spoke of nonexistent features as if they were, things that he said he was going to implement months ago but still hasn't.

Today he IMed me saying that he needed a status report on my work by the end of the afternoon because he said they needed to do a dry run on Friday for code that they were going to drop out at a possible client next week. He has been out of the office all week this week because of that technical meeting and another meeting regarding intellectual property. Last week, he was on vacation with his family in Europe. Later in the day, I learned that there is a good chance that the meeting will not happen at all because there is disagreement within the customer's organization over whether this is a pre-sales visit that they will not reimburse us for or a consultation that is part of a still unsigned agreement.

I need to get out of this house of cards, lest I get paper cuts from the collapse.

A Rock Makes a Lousy Pillow, No Matter How Much You Complain

My wife and I have been coexisting, but there is no closeness. I hurt from the lack of closeness, but I don't desire closeness from her. When I described the situation to my therapist this week, she said it sounded like our relationship is in a holding pattern until more certainty emerges over the job search.

The last sexual interaction between my wife and me was six and a half weeks ago. The more I have thought about her remark about being more comfortable about touching me with my clothes still on, the more resigned I have become about any sexual reawakening ever happening.

This past weekend, she made mention of maybe having sex later on this week since it had been so long. I responded with a neutral "OK", expressing neither enthusiastic anticipation nor sarcastic skepticism. I knew better than to get my hopes up, and it was pointless to get indignant.

A week and a half ago, my sister-in-law called to vent about my mother. A week prior, my mother had told my sister-in-law that she was on vacation that week and would be available to help watch the kids if necessary. My sister-in-law took her up on the offer and scheduled two days with her. On both instances, my mother called back out of both appointments, leaving my sister-in-law scrambling at the last minute to find someone to look after the kids.

When my sister-in-law shared her frustration with her husband (my brother), he told her, "You know, that was pretty much the way she did things all the time when we were growing up." She would make a lot of promises upon which she did not deliver. I'm not talking about material things, either. I'm talking about time commitments, like coming down to visit after she and our dad divorced.

I affirmed what my brother said, using an ad hoc analogy. People would call you crazy for decrying the fact that a rock makes a lousy pillow. Yet, we find ourselves so many times getting insulted and injured because our expectations do not match the limitations of others. The solution sometimes, is to stop expecting.

A few days later, it hit me that this is true also for my wife. The low sex drive isn't hormones, and it certainly isn't because I don't help enough around the house or whatever other excuse she wants to offer. She goes out of her way to fill her life with things that crowd out intimacy.

A while back, my therapist said that it almost sounds like my wife has lost respect for me in some sense. She said that she's seen it in other couples, especially in cases where there has been some sense of breached trust. Perhaps she's refuses to let go of the phone sex stuff, even though that's over a decade ago. Or perhaps she can't bring herself to hide that she's repulsed by me in some way.

Her unwillingness to read up on the subject or even have a meaningful conversation about it says that she refuses to self confront, and the fact that she quietly quit her therapy gives additional credence. Contrary to what I foolishly believed last summer, there isn't anything I can do to force her to self confront. Any effort to do so will just make her more resistant. I can't make her have feelings she doesn't have.

The crux of Schnarch's teachings is that we have to let go of that desire to control our spouse. The best one can hope for is that the other person will reevaluate his or her position once we start to make unilateral changes that make the status quo unsustainable. And in the case of people like me who have been historically passive personalities, we have to ask, "How much value do we put on ourselves?"

For me, that involves looking myself in the mirror and asking, "You grew up with an unreliable mother, do you really want to spend the rest of your life married to a woman who is just as unreliable with respect to intimacy? Or do you plan to gripe about the pillow being too hard?"

My answer is, "No, I don't want that, and if I am to develop any self respect, I can't continue doing that." I realize that by trying to love my wife through one-sided self sacrifice, I am continuing a pattern of self loathing that was cast in my relationship with my mother. The problem is how I break that pattern without being vengeful or hurting my children. It's a puzzle that will become the focus of future thought.

My therapist said that my wife probably senses the changes in my outlook on things. The willingness to reach out further for jobs elsewhere is a definite break from the catering she's come to enjoy throughout the course of our relationship. That catering is why we live in an area where it's so hard for me to find a job in the first place.

This process of differentiating probably had its beginnings in isolated instances years ago. My therapist speculates that rather than becoming more differentiated, my wife has chosen to transfer her emotional fusion to her best friends, and that might be why she senses so much anxiety when I bring up the idea of relocating. The thought of breaking that bond with physical distance is so troubling to her that she's willing to tolerate the idea of me working someplace far away during the weekdays as long as she gets to stay here with the so-called support network.

When the time comes that I tell her that I can no longer continue in this marriage, I am certain that it will not play well with the relatives. In a more fused era, that alone was a strong enough deterrent for me to make leaving simply unthinkable. But the bottom line is this: her choice to redirect her fusion rather than break free of it tells me that she doesn't place much value upon the marriage other than the material security it provides her.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

2am Accepts Thinking Blogger Award and Passes on Others

Updated on 3/17/2007 at 11:19 p.m. to include a complete trace of the meme to my site.

Updated again on 3/18/2007 at 12:35 p.m. to make some corrections to the meme propagation calculation.

Earlier this week, I received word from the author of the Have the T-Shirt blog that she had bestowed upon me a Thinking Blogger Award.

A recipient may present this meme-based award to five other bloggers whose postings have made the recipient think.

I would like to thank the author of Have the T-Shirt for including me in her list. I derive a sense of fulfillment in knowing that the content of this space has managed to challenge or inspire others as they deal with the big questions of their own lives.

I also would like to thank the bloggers onto whom I will pass this award, for I don't believe I would have been able to dig as deeply into my own issues without having read their postings or comments that they left in this space.

Finally, I would like to thank the readers who don't have blogs but leave challenging and insightful comments here. You keep this from degenerating into a circus of self pity and renew in me the resolve to persevere.

And now the envelope please...

2amsomewhere's Thinking Blogger Award Choices

Getting an honorable mention is Fear the Wrath of the Drunken Housewife. I chose not to give the Drunken Housewife an actual award because she is not that fond of chained communication, and I consider myself quite fortunate in getting her to participate (without propagation) with the last one that I tagged her.

Feel free to visit these quality blogs.

Mandatory Meme Participation Language

Should you choose to participate in this meme, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging.

  1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to five blogs that make you think.

  2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

  3. Optional: Proudly display the Thinking Blogger Award with a link to the post that you wrote (available in silver or gold version).

A Little Bit of Meme Mathematics

High school level math text books that deal with logarithms usually feature a word problem on the propagation of chain letters. Blog memes function the same way. If the person starting the meme gives the award to five recipients, and each recipient complies, and the process keeps repeating, the number of awards for each round will increase exponentially (5^i, where i = the number of rounds of awards).

A question one might ask is: Assuming that every recipient participates and succeeds in getting five additional recipients to participate in kind, how many iterations would it take for the entire blogosphere to have such an award? To answer the question, we need an estimate on the size of the blogosphere and a formula for computing exponential sums. To get the former, I'll use a blogger's critique of the Technorati estimate made in August 2006. The latter can be found as a MathWorld encyclopedia entry. A little massaging gives the formula:

The left hand side of the formula is what we're trying to compute, and the right hand side is much easier to calculate. We can then equate the right hand side with our estimate of the blogosphere, which we call a.

The goal then becomes to solve this equation for M, which can be done with some algebraic manipulation.

Setting r = 5, a = estimate of 1.6 million bloggers, and solving for M, we get a value of M = 8.74. That means it would take about 9 rounds.

For those of you who think that this is algebraic hocus pocus, I've included a small C program that computes the sum using the brute force formula.

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
int i;
const double memeChildren = 5.0;
const double blogosphereSize = 1.6e+6;
double runningProduct = 1;
double runningSum = 0;

for (i = 1; runningProduct < blogosphereSize; ++i)
runningProduct *= memeChildren;
runningSum += runningProduct;
printf("round %d:, number of recipients: %e\n", i, runningSum);
return 0;

And here is its output:

round 1:, number of recipients: 5.000000e+000
round 2:, number of recipients: 3.000000e+001
round 3:, number of recipients: 1.550000e+002
round 4:, number of recipients: 7.800000e+002
round 5:, number of recipients: 3.905000e+003
round 6:, number of recipients: 1.953000e+004
round 7:, number of recipients: 9.765500e+004
round 8:, number of recipients: 4.882800e+005
round 9:, number of recipients: 2.441405e+006

The "e+nnn" in the recipient count is to be read as "times ten to the nnnth power.

So how many generations did it take for me to get awarded? I managed to walk the entire chain of posts back to the originator, and here they are in reverse order, from leaf to root.

  1. Have the T-shirt


  3. Iced Mocha

  4. Daily Piglet

  5. Ghost Stories

  6. My Grimm Reality


  8. The Fifth Column

  9. Original Man

  10. A Work of Art: Raising Our Exceptional Son

  11. The Journey

  12. Under the Mad Hat

  13. Bub andPie

  14. So Fast Away: Journal of a Joyful, Grateful, Manic Melancholic

  15. Life, the Ongoing Education

  16. CaliforniaTeacherGuy

  17. History Is Elementary

  18. another history blog

  19. Primordial Blog

  20. Sandwalk

  21. Greg Laden

  22. The Thinking Blog

Wow! 22 levels of award recipients separate me from the originating blog. That's more than double the best case estimate of 9 levels that I back-of-the-enveloped out in the original version of this post. It's interesting to look at the domains of interest for each blog. Along the way, one passes through a thicket of parenthood blogs, and as you get closer to the root, the focus shifts to education and science.

We all may be connected in more ways than we know. Paradoxically, that lack of awareness might be both a shame and a source of sanity, depending on where those connections lead.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Scratch a Lead, Pencil in a Date

This afternoon, I received word from the Really Big Online Purveyor (and More!) that:
After some serious consideration, the hiring manager has decided to pursue some other candidates for that particular role.

So it looks like that lead has run its course.

On the brighter side, Really Big Software Company in the Pacific Northwest has chosen Monday, April 2, to be my new interview date.

iTune, Therefore iAm (or: Radio, Someone Still Loves You)

Fellow Schnarchian M is for ${random_word_beginning_with_M}, the mind behind The Whaling Wall, has tagged me for the purposes of completing a meme in which she herself has participated.

The posting calls for the memeographer to list the top 10 songs played on his or her installation of iTunes. This is difficult for me because I don't rely heavily on locally stored music files for entertainment.

While I have my canon of favorites, I grow bored easily, so exposure to new artists and musical styles is a lifeline for my soul. I've always been, and probably always, will be a radio listener. The arrival of XM Satellite Radio took that love to a whole new level: no commercials, large variety, and deep play lists. The lack of repeats make a top x list hard to compile.

In the spirit of propagating the meme, I shall participate, but with a twist. I will list 25 favorite songs that I probably wouldn't have heard had it not been for XM. These aren't arrange in any particular order, so don't read preference into them.

  1. Zero 7, "Pageant of the Bizarre" -- Zero 7 is a suprising treat and a staple on both XM Chill (channel 84) and Hear Music (channel 75). My brother tipped me off to them about five years ago when I was lamenting the lack of mellow alternative music. Sia sings her part oh, so seductively, and the coda has an the air of a gospel testmonial.

  2. Junior Walker & the All Stars, "Way Back Home" and B.B. King, "Take it Home -- I put both of these songs under the same category because they are essentially the same melody with different arrangements and lyrics. Larry Elder uses the rare instrumental version of Junior Walker's recording as the intro to his radio talk show on ABC News/Talk (channel 124). I heard the B.B. King rendition on Bluesville (channel 74). I did some research and found that both recordings have common composers, so the similarity is no accident. Walker's version has lyrics that were supposedly written by Gladys Knight.

  3. India.Arie, "Purify Me" -- I heard this on The Flow (channel 62), an channel which is now only available via the service's streaming music site. I really want to like neo-soul, and it has grown on me over time. However, its instrumental minimalism just makes it pale to the richness of the 60s soul coming from Motown and Stax, let alone the Philly sound of the 70s. Oftentimes, the singers seem angry, depressed, or just plain detached. "Purify Me" restored my faith in the genre. It's upbeat and expresses so beautifully how the sensual can be elevated to a spiritual plain.

  4. Ray Lamontagne, "Trouble" -- I think I first heard this on XM Cafe (channel 45). If you're watching this season of American Idol, you probably saw Chris Sligh perform this song a couple weeks ago. Lamontagne is like the second coming of Paul Young, perhaps with a grittier, folksier edge. How can anyone say anything bad about that?

  5. Bitter:Sweet, "The Mating Game" -- I heard this track on XM Chill (channel 84), which serves up downtempo dance music. I'm not sure whether this song's horn track is original or sampled, but I love its audacity. Putting it crassly, if the sound were a woman, it would be Chloe Vervier in a red sheath dress and ankle strap heels. It's the essence of Austin Powers camp crystallized for the digital age.

  6. Janiva Magness, "You Were Never Mine" -- I heard this gem once on Bluesville. It's a tale of unrequited love, and it conjures up echoes of Dorothy Moore's classic "Misty Blue". The contrast is in the keyboard accompaniment. The piano of "Misty Blue" makes me think of a woman weeping in a city park with a light drizzle falling from the sky. The organ of "You Were Never Mine" makes me think of a woman in a smoky, brick walled bar, washing her sorrow away with a glass of hard liquor sipped slowly. You can hear an excerpt at the artist's website.

  7. Peggy Scott-Adams, "Help Yourself" -- This is another Bluesville find. The lyrics are a monologue from a betrayed wife to her husband's other woman. It is a resigned, rather than rageful, confrontation. Oh, she gets her digs in at both parties in the philandering pair, but they are delivered in a backhanded way. On the same album is a track called "Bill", where she talks about her discovery that her husband has been involved in a long time affair... with his best friend Bill.

  8. Sam Phillips, "Baby, I Can't Please You" -- The Easternized sound of this song's refrain makes it a prime earworm candidate, but I don't care. I crank the volume when I hear it.

  9. Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, "Loving the Highway Man" -- I heard this song on The Midnight Special program, which is carried on XM's Village (channel 15). Both of these women have accomplished much in their own right, but the combination of their voices certainly must have been the most divine combination since peanut butter and chocolate. The best part is that you don't gain weight or get heartburn from listening to this song.

  10. Will Putman, "Maximum Angle of Repose" -- I heard this on the Village as well. This folk singer from Alaska spins a tale of suburban midlife introspection, using a term from the field of mining engineering that's as compelling as it is unlikely. The song's touched a chord with me back in the fall of 1995 and moved me to spend a while on Google trying to learn what the term angle of repose meant. It refers to the slope of a pile of granular solid material (like sand) after it has settled. I don't have any hard evidence, but I think Putman may have lifted the term from a novel by Wallace Stegner.

  11. 101 Strings, "Whiplash" -- I heard this on XM's lounge music channel On the Rocks, which regrettably is available only on the streaming service. This one is will appeal to the kink minded readers of this blog. This instrumental features the occasional sound of a whip cracking, followed by a woman's moan. Quite daring for something recorded in the late 60s.

  12. Moodswings, "Spiritual High" -- This dance groove first graced my ears while I was listening to Fred (channel 44), the deep classic alternative music channel. The samples of black choir singers creates an uplifiting air that transcends hipness.

  13. Norah Jones and Wyclef Jean, "Any Other Day" -- Hear Music gets the credit for this one. The song was a joint effort put together to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief, and I believe it's only available from Rhapsody. It's an interesting departure from the jazz style recordings that have made her a household name.

  14. Neko Case, "Star Witness" -- Neko gets a lot of spins on Hear Music, but she's more of an alt country singer. When she's put in an echo chamber, Chase is as chillingly haunting as the fading purple pink sky of an early October twilight. All that's missing is a bonfire to huddle up next to.

  15. Mazzy Star, "Fade into You" -- I've known about this sultry song for years, but thanks to Hear Music, I now know its title and artist. I have long since forgotten the context in which I first heard it. I think it was probably background music to something my wife may have been watching on TV. Wikipedia's entry for Mazzy Star affirms this by saying:
    "Fade into You" became a staple of mid-1990s teen dramas, movies, and represented the kind of gentle ennui that was missing from the more aggressive angst of grunge.

    To me, it is the soundtrack of someone seducing me.

  16. The Jazzmasters, "So Much in Love" -- First hear this on Watercolors (channel 71), the contemporary jazz channel. I think this is what the blogger of The Whaling Wall calls "white-people-jazz". For those of you who thought that Paul Hardcastle's musical career ended after his mid-80s hit "19", you are sorely mistaken. He's carved out quite a successful niche recording smooth jazz both under his name and the Jazzmasters moniker. Helen Rogers' smooth voice graces a polished groove. Also worth a listen is their cover of Steely Dan's "Do it Again."

  17. Keb' Mo', "Keep it Simple" -- This is the most amusing critique of the complexity that technology and consumerism have visited upon modern society since the Boss recorded "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)". As I listen to him sing the first line of the song... "Two cars, three kids, six phones"... I can picture the look of bewilderment on his face before he says the word "six", as if he is saying, "How in the hell did this ever happen?"

  18. Susan Tedeschi, "Tired of My Tears" -- You'll find Tedeschi's recordings filed under Blues, but this Ray Charles cover is pure, old time, seein'-the-light soul. How soulful, you ask? The backup band sounds as if someone had found a lost recording of Booker T & the MGs playing a Holland-Dozier-Holland joint. That's it, Memphis meets Motown! Tedeschi sings it with so conviction that by the end you'll be promising your stereo you'll never lie to it again.

  19. Dar Williams w/ Ani DiFranco, "Comfortably Numb" -- As heard on XM Cafe. I'll probably get accused of sacrilege by someone for saying this, but this rendition simply blows the original out of the water. The way DiFranco's voice wraps around Williams' as they sing "There is no pain" is an out-of-body experience.

  20. Sarah Vaughan, "Peter Gunn" -- You've probably heard an instrumental version of this classic in the movie The Blues Brothers, or maybe you've heard The Art of Noise's quirky cover. I didn't know the song had lyrics until I heard this version on Real Jazz (channel 70). I think Chevrolet used a snippet of it in one of their TV commercials a couple years ago. Just listening to her deliver the lyrics to the tempo of the song wears me out.

  21. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, "Alone Again Or" -- Hear Music introduced me to this gem, a cover of a 60s song recorded by the group Love. Boy, do they make it their own. Hoffs hasn't lost her touch over the years. If you've heard Sweet's work with Sean Mullins and Pete Droge under the name The Thorns, then you know it's going to be good.

  22. Terence Trent D'Arby, "She Kissed Me" -- Prior to hearing this rocker of a recording on Fred, I had only heard D'Arby's pop hit "Wishing Well". This was a pleasant surprise because it is as hard driving as it is bawdy. After the second verse, he's improvising with some notes that showcase an impressive vocal range. If it weren't for its lurid lyrical matter, I think an American Idol contestant could hit one out of the park with a good rendition of this song. Better yet, imagine Gina Glocksen testing TV taboos by taking that one on?

  23. Joss Stone, "Don't Cha Wanna Ride" -- Another Hear Music sighting... I guess this one was recorded because someone thought that there weren't enough songs set to the tune of "Soulful Strut".

  24. Nouvelle Vague, "Dancing with Myself" -- Give Billy Idol a sex change, a dose of lithium, and drop him in a Wayback Machine set for 1927. That's the only way I can describe this group's cover of a Generation X song that is timeless in its own right. Also worth a listen is the group's cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart".

  25. Rufus Thomas, "Old MacDonald" -- Every once in a while, I have to change the radio over to XM Kids because I'm schlepping my older daughter to preschool on my way to work. That's where I heard this Stax stalwart's version of a childhood standard. It's a great way to introduce the young'uns to Memphis soul.

Feel free to critique the listing, especially you, Cat. If I get enough energy, I'll come up with a similar list of obscure non-XM songs that I cherish.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Anyone Know Where I Can Get an Autoclave for a 1,500 sq. ft. House?

It has been a difficult week somewhere.

Wintertime birthday parties for small children are perfect exchange mechanisms for all kinds of virii and bacteria. I should have known that taking our kids to two such engagements in a weekend would all but guarantee a household pandemic. That was a week and a half ago.

The featured affliction induced runny noses and fever in the kids, first in our older daughter early last week, then with the younger daughter a few days later.

It started to take root in my wife late last week, causing me to postpone a much awaited interview trip out to Really Big Software Company in the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately, they were graceful enough to allow me to reschedule. The advice columns on mention it, but certainly playing the role of disease vector is belongs in that perennial list of big interviewing mistakes.

The plague has visited itself upon me this week, and I'm preserving my humanity with a steady regimen of zinc lozenges and a fizzy cold relief medicine that just hasn't been the same since the FDA banned phenylpropanolamine.

I survived the third and final phone interview with Really Big Online Book Seller in the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday. I should be hearing back from them within the next week whether I make it to the next round. That could be a request for a work sample or possibly an invitation to the headquarters.

The Silicon Valley Online Auction Payment company wants me to come out for an interview, too. I'm half tempted to e-mail Sober Husband and see if he wants to sneak off with me for some sort of carnivorous culinary delight. And, you're reading this, Drunken Housewife, you'll be proud to learn that I've been coding in both Java and C++ as part of my job these days.

The national job search is certainly pushing a two-choice dilemma to the fore. This past Saturday, my wife reiterated that she does not want to move and wants me to get a job that allows me to shuttle home for the weekend instead.

She said that she fears she will hate me if she has to give up her support network and move far away, and she also fears I will hate her if I am forced to reject the offer because she won't move. She described it as a "Catch 22" situation. Had she read the excerpts of Passionate Marriage that I gave to her three months ago, she would know that this is a normal process in marriage. I am standing my ground as an act of differentiation.

For those of you who think you've had a lousy week, consider my wife's best friend, who just got back from a week-and-a-half trip to the Phillipines. She started to fall ill just before her return to the States. Today she was admitted to the hospital for what they believe to be typhoid fever. When you undergo something like that, I suspect that environmental regulations don't seem so bad after all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A New Twist on Tom's View of Schnarch?

Tom Allen once wondered whether Schnarch's writings could be, "misconstrued to be an emotional 'Ayn Rand-ianism'". With that in mind, this finding proved to be amusing indeed.

I did a Google search on the term "unsupportive wife" and turned up a reference to a character from Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. I've quoted the relevant excerpt (bold emphasis is mine).
Lillian Rearden

The wildly unsupportive wife of Hank Rearden. They have been married eight years as the novel begins.

Lillian is a frigid Moocher who seeks to destroy her husband. She compares being Rearden's wife with owning the world's most powerful horse. Since she cannot comfortably ride a horse that goes too fast, she must bridle it down to her level, even if that means it will never reach its full potential and its power will be greviously wasted.

Lillian also serves to illustrate Rand's Theory of sex. She believes sex is a base animal instinct and that sexual indulgence is a sign of moral weakness. She is incapable of feeling this kind of desire, which she believes testifies to her moral superiority. However, according to the theory of sex Lillian's lack of sexual capacity results from her inability to experience value in herself; she is therefore unable to respond sexually when she experiences value in others.

Lillian tolerates sex with her husband only because she is 'realistic' enough to know he is just a brute who requires satisfaction of his brute instincts. In section 161 she indicates that she abhors Francisco d'Anconia, because she believes he is a sexual adventurer. Lillian Rearden appears in sections 121 and 161.

Makes you go "hmmmm", doesn't it?

Scary as it May Be, the Path is Right

Things continue to shuffle along on the job search.

Last week I had three phone interviews and two in-person interviews. It suffices to say that the combination of this and a busy work load has left my mind a bit on the crisp side.

The National Search

Things have progressed to the point where the potential number of out-of-town in-person interviews exceeds the number of days with which I am comfortable taking off. It's gratifying in the sense that I have generated a lot of interest, but it's also frustrating that I can't explore my options to their fullest. It's a two-choice dilemma I didn't anticipate when I started this job search.

The big software company in the Pacific Northwest has gotten the green light from its legal team to invite me out to their headquarters for a day of interviews. I fly out this coming Sunday afternoon. I plan to meet with some friends who at one time worked for my ex-employer. They have expressed a strong interest in helping with getting oriented should I get an offer and take it.

Tonight I learned that I have made it to the third round phone interview for another big company in the Pacific Northwest. They have asked me to get back with them for additional phone interview times. If I clear this hurdle, the next stages are a work sample and then the on-site interview.

I had a short initial phone interview with a company in the Silicon Valley that is a subsidiary of a really big internet auction company. It went really well, but I have no idea what the rest of their recruitment process looks like.

I've also reestablished one of the contacts that I have out on the east coast to see if there are any consulting roles that might allow me to travel between there and here during the week. This is my good faith effort to see if there are any feasible Far, Far Away Lite jobs out there for me.

The Local Search

On the local front, I had a second round interview with an independent software vendor on the northeast side of town. The first interview had gone well, and this one was to be more technical. The guys who were assigned to interview me were just downright obnoxious. I know that some companies use stress inducing interview techniques to see what you're made of, but I don't think this was the case. It was just their personalities. I also spoke again with the guy to whom I would be reporting, and he sounded like he was concerned with whether I would be willing to take on a maintenance programming role. I left the office with a bad set of vibes.

I spoke with the manager again by phone on Friday to clarify my understanding of the position, and the more I thought about it, the more it sounded like a backward move. I was going to be taking on the role of cleanup guy for legacy code. Moreover, I learned that maintenance developers didn't usually migrate into the head branch group.

Today, the HR guy called me to tell me that the were going to give me an offer and said he was sending me the paperwork for the offer. I told him that I don't accept offers without sleeping on it, so I would need time to look at the fine print. He agreed to accommodate me on that. The salary was well below what I was hoping for. My pay would go up only a few K from what it is right now. They said they would sweeten the deal by expensing the cost of COBRA coverage until my benefits kicked into full gear (90 days on the job).

I had an IM conversation with my wife this afternoon on the offer and said that I didn't think I was going to take it. She wasn't happy. She hasn't been happy at all with me the past week. The high frequency of evening phone interviews probably doesn't help.

When I talked with her on Sunday night about my travel itinerary for next week, she gave me a facial gesture that was far from enthusiastic. She whined about having to fend for herself with the kids for two days in a row.

She's also been reminding me that she doesn't want to move, saying that she fears we will get out there, I will be unhappy with the job, and she will be all alone, without her support network.

There is a growing strain of outright unsupportive behavior from my wife, and it's been disheartening. I can understand the fear of change, because I've not been the most adaptable person in the past. But we're barely making it here, and we live in an area where it's hard for me to increase my earnings in real terms because the demand for my skills isn't there.

I am reminded of a comment left by Dad's Life blogger John writes:
I am watching intently to see how you handle your self-imposed deadline. For me, deadlines have come and gone, but have always caused me to make decisions about how to move forward. As your two issues progress, I can't help but be reminded of my father. Many times he had opportunities to move ahead in his career, and just as many times he was stymied by my Mom's refusal to relocate from their house. PERIOD.

My Dad is old now. He's an old and unhappy man. He has regrets. And I know that not pursuing his opportunities are on the list of regrets. Yes, relocating a family is difficult. But through communication and sensitivity it can be handled.

Don't throw away your opportunities to make life better for your family based on one person just saying she won't go.

In the back of my mind, I have been worried about becoming that embittered man because I feel like I haven't been operating at my full professional and creative potential. The interest from nonlocal employers has been a stark reminder that I have a lot more opportunities than I originally realized.

I think her resistance is more than her just losing her preschool friends. Seven years ago, she was able to leave a set of friends behind and move here to be closer to her very best friend. And two and a half years ago, she tried to get us to move to a new subdivision where her friend was thinking about moving to.

That dynamic surfaced again this week. Her friend has been overseas since Wednesday of last week and won't be home until Monday. They have not been able to converse by phone because the long distance rate is very expensive. On Sunday, she said she has been really grumpy lately and wondered if it might have something to do with her missing her best friend.

I think deep down, she is running into a two-choice dilemma and would rather have me sacrifice my own growth to preserve her level of comfort. I believe that she has an emotional connection to that friend that is fundamentally stronger than her feelings toward the marriage or me. But she can't bring herself to admit it because it would run the risk that I might not want to live under that situation, so she maintains a fog of ambiguity.

Up until recently, she could get away with that because I didn't have the backbone to preserve my integrity. Things have changed over the past year.

As I face the two-choice dilemma of my career path, my wife is being pushed to face a dilemma she's been dodging for a long time with regards to our marriage. Some might look at this and ask if I am behaving recklessly. Admittedly, this is a scary space because I am in uncharted waters, but I think that based on my reading of Passionate Marriage, I am definitely on the right path.
Differentiation take resilience and motivation. Don't expect your partner to support and encourage you onward. Your partner will always "be there" for you, but not the way you anticipate. He will be stimulating your development -- but you will probably wish he wasn't. Murray Bowen noted that the differentiating spouse is not getting anywhere unless the partner is saying, "you're ruining everything":
When someone attempts to be more of a self in a relationship system, the absolutely predictable response from important others is, "You are wrong; change back; if you don't, these are the consequences!" In fact, if such responses do not occur, one's effort to define more of a self are probably inconsequential.
(Schnarch, p.375)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Few Sidebar Changes.

Update on the "Accidental Submissive" Posting

The webmistress who put a link to my website posted an apologetic comment saying that she has since removed the link. Last weekend, we exchanged e-mails. I let her know that I was not offended by her decision to link, but was puzzled by the association with submissive males. She explained how the linkage came to be. It was a reader referral. I said that she was free to post the link again and I asked for permission to add her blog to my sidebar. I have her consent to do so, so she is now on board.

Sic transit gloria erotica

I should also note the passing of the Ringfinger blog, which was written by frequent poster elise. I have confirmed through private correspondence that the posts are gone and that she is done with the blog.

Two More Additions

I have added links to Probitionate in Situ and Restoring the Covenant on my sidebar to reflect my current blog reading list. The author of the latter is husband of the blogger behind Therese in Heaven.

Beware of Control Freaks in Disguise

Spill the Beans writes:
I am attracted to nice guys. I promise. The control freaks are now the ones who make me run.

I would like to add a caveat regarding this remark because control freaks can appear outwardly as nice guys. Granted, these guys aren't the dark, looming, Berlioz listening, Sleeping with the Enemy variety, but they can cause you much consternation.

Here is how the racket works. If a guy operates under the assumption of three flawed beliefs:

  1. It's not okay for me to really be myself.

  2. A woman's approval is the end all/be all of existence.

  3. It's not okay to have wants or needs, let alone go about taking care of them.

Then he will use (1) to apply (2) to indirectly meet the needs in (3). The net result is what therapist and author Dr. Robert Glover calls a covert contract. The guy showers you with nice acts with the hope that you will do something in return and then gets all bent out of shape when reciprocation doesn't happen.

At first you might not realize it's happening because it feels so good to be pampered and spoiled. And by the time he starts to get cranky, you'll probably wonder what's wrong because his unstated expectations may not have occurred to you.

If you've grown up in a family with poor boundaries and relatives who do favors with taut strings aplenty, you might even stick with this guy because the pattern feels familiar.

The best thing you can do is call him on the behavior, and if he can't own up to it and learn to self-validate, dump him. Don't let him drain you emotionally.

2am Puts Hands Up and Steps Away from Jukebox

The last couple of posts invoking music have brought out some strong feelings from Cat both under alias and out in the open, Anais, Tom Allen, Have the T-Shirt, and probitionate . Lest this space turn into a competitor for Joe Flirt's retro bar, I'm going to hold off on the lyrical references for now. I hope everyone has managed to purge their aural consciousness of any earworms that the last few posts may have caused. We now move on to reader mail...