Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tapped and Sapped

WARNING: Geek humor in first paragraph.

I am sapped of energy right now, too many mental cycles consumed by the anxiety daemon. It is times like this that I wish I had the root password for my brain, so I could shut the damned thing down or at least renice it to a lower priority.

Heeding the advice of both blog comment and private e-mails, I am tracking down a family law attorney to set up an initial consultation to figure out what might lie ahead should I opt for the relocation.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Did Somebody Say "Separation"?

My wife did, after a discussion of the job offers late yesterday evening. Well, it was more of her venting her anxieties and grievances. I tried to listen to what she was saying and acknowledge of her feelings without getting defensive, hostile. I certainly wasn't going to cave in to her pressure.

She said she had been hoping the Online Payment Subsidary offer would have been a lowball offer so that she "wouldn't have to play the bad guy."

She started crying.

She first said that she feared for our marriage if I took the payment subsidiary offer over the startup on the north side.

She said she wanted me to take the north side startup, and she thought I had my heart set on the online payment job.

She then said that if I took the payment subsidiary offer, she and the girls would stay behind.

She then said that she didn't see how me coming home every few weeks would be any different from being divorced.

She said that I wanted the payment subsidiary job because "they had stroked my ego."

She restated her position that I was just an unhappy person, that I could probably benefit from medication, and that there were others who thought so, too.

When I asked her who else thought this, she said her best friend and her husband, and she said her other best friend, who is a child psychologist, probably would say so, too.

I asked her whether she could see how I would be unhappy. She then asked me to explain why I was unhappy. I said that I felt like I had to get up early, go to a job with an uncertain future, work a long day, come home to do not much of anything except for chores. And that I felt like I was unable to do anything outside the home because all of our money is overspent. I worried that if I took the startup position, we'd probably have more of the same.

She then turned very tearful and bitter.

She told me that if that was the way I felt, she didn't need my money. She'd go out and find a job of her own, maybe two. She said she was a strong person and a good mother and would go on welfare if she had to.

She then said, "You need to decide whether to separate, because I'm through."

In an earlier time in my relationship with her, this would have been more than enough for me to back down. Tears, guilt, termination -- the unholy trinity of manipulation. Now I just see it as emotional abuse. She has assumes no stake in the success or health of the relationship. I am the problem.

The words of Murray Bowen remind me that this is exactly where I need to be:
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.

I have not invested this time and effort to be "inconsequential".

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Sound of Hard Packed Seaborne Ice Grating Against the Ship's Hull

This morning, the computer trade press ran a story about a large middleware company's plans to release a product that does pretty much what my employer was aspiring to do.

What makes this all the more painful is that my employer's leadership was telling us late last year that they were in talks with said company for a future sale.

I kicked a link to the news story to my coworker, and he seemed to agree that this bodes ill for the future of the company.

My Blog, My Magic Box

I’ve got a magic box
With twenty-seven locks
And inside I keep all my secrets
I pretend that it is closed so nobody knows
When I get inside and go for a ride

That I can fly higher than everything
Just watch me now, I’ll show you how
My magic box has wings

And I can fly higher than everything
Got a smile on my face
I’m a rocket ship in space
I can do anything
'Cause my magic box has wings

-- Laurie Berkner, "Magic Box", Buzz Buzz

God, I love her harmonies. I just want to fly away.

I Need a Drink and a Quick Decision

I probably shouldn't feel this way, but I do. I FEEL CORNERED!!!

I suspect that the local, yet long drive, startup is probably getting antsy to hear from me soon.

The formal offer from the Online Payment Subsidiary of the Big Auction Company arrived in the e-mail today, after I called the HR guy to touch base with him. He said that a member of the relocation team should be reaching out to me real soon now.

I also called the recruiter for the New England Online Dating Service (and More) to see where they stood. It has now been four weeks since I interviewed with them. I got his voice mail and left him a message asking for an update because I had one offer that needed a reply on very soon.

My authentic self says, "Say 'no' to the local. Say 'yes' to either of the other two. If the online dating service doesn't come through, say 'Hell, yeah!' to the the online payment service. If the wife still won't support the decision, see if they'll let me take the Silicon Valley spot, which pays a lot more, and use the extra money and paid time off to come home once a month for a few days."

Countervailing this is a deep sense of guilt and obligation, wondering if I'm just insane or selfish. The strength of this counterforce has kept me in check for a long time, and it has not lost strength. The difference is that the "go for it" side is pushing harder than ever. The tension is causing anxiety that I can barely regulate.

Monday, May 28, 2007

When is a Spouse Avoiding Intimacy?

Comments to the last posting have stirred up an interesting discussion...

Tom Allen wrote:
For the longest time - like, for about 10 years of our marriage - Mrs. Edge was on all sorts of committees, worked full time, did all sorts of baking and stuff. Her friends used to call her "the next Martha Stewart". I used to call her "June Cleaver on Steroids."

It took a long time to figure out that she was doing most of this as a substitute for intimacy.

This brought reactions of skepticism from Cat:
...I am just curious did your wife admit to you that she was doing most of it as a substitute for intimacy? Does it still have to be either or. If a wife is interested in those things she isn't interested in intimacy or her husband? Is it outside of the realm of possibility to be Martha on steroids and genuinely enjoy it?

and the Drunken Housewife:
As a stay-at-home mommy, I'm a mix of over-achiever and lazy slob. My daughters each have beautiful quilts I made them on their beds, which were huge projects. I make them the best Halloween costumes I've ever seen. And my cooking... I'm the best non-professional cook anyone will ever meet...

I don't do that stuff to avoid intimacy with my husband.

I suspect that this area could slide quite easily into overgeneralizations, so it might be worth backing up a bit and asking Tom to clarify what events led him to his conclusion.

I don't think that passionate dedication to kids or a cause is necessarily an intimacy dodge, but it certainly can be used that way, much in the same way that husbands use long hours at work or sports to stay away from their wives.

I can't articulate any criterion, other than outright disclosure by the avoider, that could be used to identify this unambiguously. But based on my own experiences, I think that there are some implicit indicators.

  1. The degree of involvement in the avoidance activity is so deep that it results in the routine neglect of prior key division of labor commitments.

  2. The avoider seldom initiates intimate activity.

  3. The avoider is not fully engaged during intimate moments.

  4. The avoider uses shame, hostility, and denial when the partner tries to have a discussion on intimacy

I'm sure Digger Jones could probably work this in with his studies of the low libido personality.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Critique Worth Noting

Anais writes in a comment:
How can you call a woman who bakes, assembles and decorates four 16-inch double layer cakes in one week "lazy"? Mind you, I think her energy is misdirected, but we all need a hobby, right?

Anais is right on this. I really shouldn't call her "lazy", because these cakes are serious projects. To give you an idea of the detail, I've included a snapshot of tonight's opus.

To be more accurate, she regularly engages in these kinds of activities at the expense of normal household tasks, like cooking meals and keeping up on laundry. It is also costly in terms of materials (cake mixes, marshmallows, powered sugar, eggs, shortening), and to the best of my knowledge all four of these cakes were made gratis, so they benefit only her friends, the preschool co-op, and her ego.

And Now for Something (almost) Completely Different

... in which I quote something written by someone other than David Schnarch.

I took a baby step in the direction of giving myself some time out of the home this evening. My mind was in a state of clutter, worried about what I should do about the whole job/marriage thing, and this weekend is packed tight with family obligations: a make-up birthday party Saturday, another birthday party on Sunday, and then possibly another family gathering out of town on Monday.

The make-up birthday party took place at a location about an hour and a half away We left around 9:30 a.m. and didn't get back home until 4 p.m. My wife had decided that wasn't enough excitement, so she invited the birthday girl to come back home with us and spend the night, since our older daughter is only about a year younger than her.

When we were trying to figure out plans for dinner, I told my wife that I wanted to go to the local bookseller for a couple hours to spend some time thinking. I said that I would go once the girls had gotten settled in to watch their movie. She hesitantly agreed.

After we got home from dinner and the girls were watching their video, I was on the computer catching up on news. My wife was working on cake # 4, and I had already helped her roll out a big mass of marshmallow fondant into a thin layer she could use to shroud the cake.

About every 10 minutes, she'd tell me to come look at the cake and tell her whether it looked okay. I tolerated this up until the third time. I told her that I was getting tired of being called in so frequently, saying it was grinding down on me. She got quiet, and said, "allright," as if I was depriving her. She then said, "Aren't you going to go out like you said you were?" I said that I was going to wait a bit longer, perhaps when the kids were down for sleep. She said in a guilt-inducing voice, "It's OK, you can go." So I did.

I spent about an hour and a half there. Originally, I had thought about just getting a cup of coffee writing, but I had printed the store's weekly coupon and brought it with me. I picked up a few titles from the self help section and made off with them to the coffee bar, and leafed through them.

One of the books was Why Your Life Sucks: And What You Can Do about It by Alan Cohen, and I wound seeing enough amusing and relevant information that I wound up taking home a copy.

Perhaps the most biting piece of information I saw while skimming the book was in "Reason 10: You Forgot to Enjoy the Ride", p. 185. The subsection was titled (get ready to cackle, Anais) "You Live in Your Head".
You are never going to figure it all out, so you might as well give up trying and enjoy yourself. The reasoning mind is never fully satisfied: it will keep seeking for things to dwell on like a car radio scanning for stations but never stopping on one. Eventually you will come back to where you started and wonder where you have been.

That pretty much sums up my experience throughout this blog, but especially moreso the past week or so. Reading further...
The mind makes a superb servant but a lousy master. If you filter your experience through your intellect, you will strain out of the real." You can dissect your experience into oblivion,. Perhaps you have heard about the two psychologists walking down a hall, and as they pass one of their colleagues. He bids them, "Good Morning" and keeps walking. The two take a few more steps and then one psychologist turns to another and says, "I wonder what he meant by that."

There are also a lot of other goodies in this book, especially about respecting intuition and not trying to prop up relationships that aren't working.

As I returned home, I noticed my wife's best friend's minivan parked in front of our house. I came in, admired the finished cake, and then found them sitting in the family room talking. Her friend stayed around for a little while longer. I socialized with them, and then the friend left.

I asked my wife whether her friend had stopped by on the way back from shopping. I knew that the friend had made plans to go to the mall earlier that evening. She said, "no" and that she called the friend to come over because, she "needed someone to make sure the cake looked okay." Her tone was that of a victim, the narrative of whom was that it was my unsupportive nature that forced her to resort to such desperate measures.

In keeping with Drunken Houswife's toxic metaphor, I think it's time I started looking into best practices for safe and legal disposal.

Friday, May 25, 2007

If I'm Going to Feel Like a Walking Disaster, Why Not Make the Most of It?

On the drive home last night, I was reminded of Cat's recent posting about her plans to see the Police in New Orleans as I listened to "Demolition Man" on Fred (XM 44).

It brought back memories of two decades past. Is it just me, or was there a time when it seemed like everyone was recording this song? Manfred Mann's Earth Band and Grace Jones come to mind.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Some Stolen Poetry, An Omen, The Two Offers, My Own Private Demon, Four Cakes, and a Fruitless Conversation

It's time to break the writer's block and get some clarity.

The Stolen Poetry
"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief

-- Bob Dylan, "All Along the Watchtower", John Wesley Harding

Ain't Bobby so cool? (ducks incoming projectiles from Hootie Haters)

The Omen

This morning, I think I was witness to some sort of omen. At our office park, there is always a plethora of Canada geese nibbling here and there, thanks to the retention ponds which grace the premises. While taking a break to look out the office window, the other developer summoned my attention and asked me, "Are those vultures out there?" I rose to look and verify. Lo and behold, they were indeed vultures. All I could think was that word must be getting around about our company's financial condition.

The Two Offers

I have two solid job offers on the table.

The Payment Subsidiary of the Big Online Auction Site has extended a verbal offer for their site in the sprawl of the Southwest. I received word of this via phone on Friday of last week. This follows a phone conversation that I had with the manager out there a week prior.

The offer appears to be about the same as what they were offering for the Silicon Valley, except for the salary. The base pay is about 5/6 of what I would have made in the Silicon Valley, but it is 1/3 more than what I make now. Once you factor in the obscene cost of my current health plan, the number jumps up to 50 % more.

This also doesn't include the quarterly bonuses or restricted stock units, which are chunks of company shares awarded free of charge for employment duration.

Right now, I'm waiting on the written offer, which should have arrived on Tuesday of this week, but has been held up because the person who does these things has been out of town the past few days. I'm told by the HR person that I should be expecting an e-mail by tomorrow at the latest.

I have an offer in writing for the Startup in the Upscale Shopping Mall. They have been so kind as to offer me about 30 % more than what I'm making. Their health plan is much cheaper, too.

Given that I'm emerging from a startup in the midst of death throes, I'm a little gun shy to jump onto another. It is reassuring that they've gotten an unusually large chunk of dough for their first round of financing. Plus it's leadership includes people who have started a company and shepherded it to sale, which is more than I can say for my current managers.

The other downside is the commute. It would go up to 30.5 miles from the current 25.7 miles, passing through another stretch of highly congested traffic. It is unclear just how flexible they are with work hours.

I was hoping by now that there would be three offers, but the New England Dating Company has been slow to reach a decision. It's been three weeks and two days since the interview took place. I've been placing calls to the recruiter once a week for a status update, and he says that I'm still in the running, reassuring me that if they had not been interested, they would have told me so right away.

During this week's phone conversation, I let the recruiter know that I have two offers pending and that I would like to get some guidance on whether they believe that I would be a good fit.

I have a feeling that I'm going to need to make a decision soon.

My Own Private Demon

The imminence of a decision gives me a chance to segue into a confession of sorts. Recently, the Drunken Housewife wrote about her Dark Flirtation with Selbstmord.

If my demon did have corporeal form, I'm pretty sure it'd look something like Kelly Clarkson did last night, but that's beside the point.

(2am pauses to take cold shower because he doesn't smoke.)

(deep breath)

My demon is the belief that nothing short of a full scale revolution in my life on the personal and professional levels will make authenticity possible in my life. In concrete terms, this means gaining a job that pushes me to my fullest potential and promises long term growth, even if it involves moving far away. It also means giving up on my marriage because it is such a hopelessly out-of-balance arrangement.

The demon whispers that my life is ticking away, and I've wasted too much of it already. The age of forty is less than two years away, and see both my father and father-in-law in situations of deep physical disability before the age of 60, brought about by stroke. I think about the stresses I face in having to maintain a wife who is as lazy as she is asexual, wondering if the same fate awaits me.

What makes things so tricky is that the demon's words contain kernels of truth. My life could use a dose of personal heroics to restore hope in the future, but I question the urgency of the demon's voice. The demon comes to me with the far away job offer and says, "This is your last chance! It will usher in the revolution you need. You'd be a fool to turn it down."

The demon is adept at Google, and it brings to me articles like "Middle of nowhere: Loneliness of the Midwest network start-up", a depressing survey of software startups in the Midwest that ran in Network World in August of last year (emphasis is the demon's).
Experts say what's missing in the Midwest is the entrepreneurial culture found in high-tech centers such as Austin, Boston and San Jose. Cities such as Chicago, Columbus, Detroit and Indianapolis don't have enough experienced entrepreneurs and can't attract them from outside the region.

The first thing a venture firm will do if it is investing in a Midwest start-up is to move the company," PricewaterhouseCoopers' Lefteroff says. "You can't recruit out there, so it's hard to build these companies. . . . If you're an entrepreneur or a scientist and you get recruited into a market like Indianapolis and the start-up doesn't work, there are no other job opportunities out there. In the Bay Area, there are more job opportunities than people to fill them."

I even fantasize about sitting down with my wife trying to explain my struggles, talking about how we're headed in very different directions, that it's no more right for me to force her to live my route as it is for her to demand the same for me. I implore her to seek dissolution of our marriage through mediation, where we draw up a plan that will allow her and the kids to live comfortably in the short run. As the kids grow older and enter school, the spousal support will phase out with the expectation that she will be able to provide more for herself.

My conscience confronts the demon, saying that I once witnessed the dissolution of a marriage as a child, and that I would not wish it on anyone. How could I leave behind the two little girls who jump for joy the minute I walk through the door after work, beckoning me to pick them up and hold them? Surely they deserve better than that.

The demon replies, "Suit yourself, but mark my words, I will be back in a few years. But this time I won't be in thigh high boots and a short skirt..."

(2am takes another cold shower, while the demon shakes its head.)

The demon continues, "Yes, I'll be here when that feeling of eschewed guilt festers into bitterness and resentment so strong you can taste it, and the only thing that will be able to wash that taste from your mouth is a bottle of liquor or the kiss of another woman's lips. Even then, that might not be enough, and you might find yourself in a mutual suicide pact with the Drunken Housewife."

It's at this point when my soul crumbles in a feeling of entrapment, torn like some third rate Pontious Pilate and not a bowl of water in sight.

Four Cakes...

Some of you may have doubted my posting about my wife's baking habits. This week proved to be another case-in-point. She is baking and decorating four, yes four, large cakes in one week's time.

The first cake was baked on Saturday, and was meant for a birthday party on Sunday, to be given in honor of her other best friend's daughter's fifth birthday. Unfortunately, that party got postponed until this coming Saturday. Not to worry, her regular best friend made use of it by taking the cake to her daughter's school on Monday in honor of her daughter's 8th birthday.

The second cake is a graduation cake for the preschool co-op where my wife serves as Vice President of Education. This one is graced with the names of the graduating students and marshmallow fondant mortarboard caps. It was completed this evening for Friday's ceremonies.

The third cake is a replacement for the first cake, prepared Friday evening and served early Saturday afternoon at the make-up party.

The fourth cake is yet another cake for the 8 year old, which will be a party involving relatives, held at a local playground on Sunday.

All of these cakes are two layer 16-inch cakes. It suffices to say that my wife is stressed and quite unpleasant around the kids and me.

And a Fruitless Conversation

The fruitless conversation took place late Saturday night, early Sunday morning. I was gloomy looking, and my wife asked me what was wrong. I tried explaining some of the things that had been weighing me down... her refusal to take an active role in pleasuring me during sex, my worries about our financial well being, my feeling adrift in life, etc.

Her response was the usual defensiveness, deriding my concerns as the product of an overanalytical mind. She blamed my lack of sexual satisfaction on Passionate Marriage, saying that she had been tempted to throw the book away because I treated the book "as some sort of Bible". I asked her how she could have formed such a negative opinion about the book without having read it. I don't mention it much to her. She then said she probably wouldn't understand the book even if she tried to read it.

She asserted that I would be unhappy no matter how many times she "jumped my bones" a week, and then made a mocking remark about how she's a "lazy fuck". I've never used those words around her.

I said that I had gotten confusing signals on why she was unwilling to touch my genitals. I noted that at one time she said it gave her anxiety. Another time she said it was just killing the mood. Yet another instance, she claimed it was because I was hairy. She said that there's no one cause.

In response to my concerns that she was turned off by me but couldn't admit it, she said that there were some things that she found sexy, like when I am happy or when I wear cologne. She said she didn't know why she had become so unwilling to do sexual things with me. She rattled off some possible causes, our inability to get pregnant, the stress of adoption, deaths of relatives, and other things.

She then tried to put me on the defensive, accusing me of hiding masturbatory activity from her while she slept. I admitted to doing it, but I wasn't trying to keep it secret from her. I just didn't think she wanted to be awakened by it. Moreover, I was not going to allow her to dictate to me what I could do with my body.

On the money front, she said that she had done "the best she could" when we were sinking, and that I was part of the blame anyway. She also contended that we weren't as bad off as I said we were because we still had about $1,000 in the bank.

She said that she hoped that we could follow the example of my aunt and uncle, who have stayed married for almost 30 years, in spite of financial hardships (he was laid off several times), and how they were so close with their kids, who are now grown and out of the house.

On the job front, I told her that I had sold myself out too many times in the past by making decisions based on fears... fears of failure, fear of others' disapproval, etc. This time, I was going to make the decisions based on what I wanted. She said it sounded like I was putting too much emphasis on myself and taking the rest of the family into account.

The conversation ended on an uneasy silence between us. Somehow, I felt like the demon was watching this conversation and smiling.

A few days later, she got a call from the former therapist saying that she had been re-added to the health plan network so they could start going again. I don't know when she will start going, so maybe there's some hope there. The conversation from Saturday leaves me with little hope that she will self confront and come to terms with what's bugging her.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Google as Tool of Mass Humiliation

The Drunken Housewife has issued a request to her readers. She wishes to be Google bombed.
I think it would be hi-larious if my little hobby blog were deemed, by the sacred measures of online commerce and search engine statistics, to be more important than the online presence of an award-winning, publicity-gathering, venture capital-spending high tech company. You, my dears, can help me achieve this goal. Just jam some link to somewhere where the precious little spiders will creep over it. Put a link on a blog, a bulletin board, a comment somewhere... flattering, unflattering, in English or not, it's all peachy. If this blog advances in pagerank, I'll be oh so motivated to thank those who made it all possible for me to lord it over my husband; why, I'll just slave my little fingers to the bone typing out little stories for y'all.

Forgive me, Anton, for I know not fully what I do.

I have a long post in the brain, but it hasn't coagulated yet, so you'll have to wait at least a day for some weighty substance to return to this space.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Roles Played, Roles Dreamed Of

What do you want us to do, dress in drag and do the hula?

-- Timon, The Lion King

I received word from the author of Low Blood Pressure that I have been tagged with a request to answer the following question:
So, it's been awhile since we've had a bit of tag in the neighborhood. Has anyone else played, in HighSchool or later? Or wished, either secretly or publicly to be a simple character in a musical?... Tell us who you played or would like to play...if only for one performance...who would it be?

In my high school years, I was involved both with the Drama Club and summer youth workshops for the county's community theatre group, with a total of five stage roles and one assistant directorship. Here are the roles I played.

Malforce, The Clumsy Custard Horror Show, community theatre, 1984 -- One could describe this play as some sort of Fractured Fairy Tale. The role I had was small, a two-faced trusted advisor to a "dull witted and insipid, but definitely not stupid" good king who meets a rather painful demise at the end. However, I did get to kiss the cheek of one of the actresses for the play, which was kinda cool.

Mr. Beaver, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, community theatre, 1985 -- The worst part of this role... the makeup. I really hope there are no surviving negatives of my performance. The best part... I won an award at the next year's community theatre end-of-season meeting. It also marked the beginning of a typecast, wherein I played the roles of mentors, somewhat transcendental in nature. I also coined the unofficial cast slogan: "Where in the hell is Cair Paravel?"

Mr. Trevor, The Humpty Dumpty Complex, high school drama club, 1985 -- My debut in the high school leagues involved a play about an angel who develops feelings for the human he's been assigned to guide. Continuing the typecast, I landed the role of the senior angel, who supervised the conflicted angel. Most valuable lesson from the experience? Learning the word conundrum.

Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh, community theatre, 1986 -- OK, so this doesn't quite fit into the stereotype of immortal or mentor. But at least I didn't have to dress up as an animal. I wouldn't have minded the part of Eeyore. Unofficial cast slogan: "Winnie Say: BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! I wonder why he does."

Stage Manager, Our Town, high school drama club, 1987 -- This is the role of which I am most proud, save for my really bad New Hampshire accent. The part was demanding, requiring a vast amount of memorization. Fortunately, I had a director who knew this play forwards and backwards and really knew what the play was all about. He provided me the much needed guidance to become the character. Oddly enough, last fall, I was passing through the hallway of the office building where I work, and I had a chance encounter with someone who worked in a neighboring office. She recognized me, but I had trouble recognizing her. It turns out she remembered me from this play. She had played the role of Emily. One of things I recovered in the post Christmas hometown trip was a poster for the play, signed by members of the cast.

I guess I should say a few things about roles I would like to play.

The only stage play role that comes to mind would be the role of Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey. I've always been a fan of Jimmy Stewart, and I think I could pull off the role of a harmless, yet likable, eccentric.

I've never had much of a singing voice, but if someone put a gun to my head and said, "Pick a role!"

I guess I'd have to go all out in drag and say Tanya from Mama Mia... just so I could do a kick @$$ rendition of "Does Your Mother Know?"

Changing the Blog's Tagline

I've changed the tagline of my blog from the "existential phoenix" simile to an excerpt from Julia Grey's essay on heroism. It's a set of phrases that I'm running through my mind as I approach a critical point on the two choice dilemmas of work and marriage. There is still time, but I need to really, really, really hold onto myself. If I'm operating with a pseudo-self, it will not withstand the pressures ahead.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

2am Explains the Photo

Train leaving on Track 5 for Anaheim, Azusa, and Cuuuu-ca-mon-gaaa! (pause) Doesn't anybody want to go to Anaheim, Azusa, or Cucamonga?

-- the voice of Mel Blanc, The Jack Benny Program [1]

The comments from my last post made it clear that perhaps the question was a bit too broad. I apologize, and I promise not to go all EuroPosh on you since this blog isn't being read for college credits.

To be honest, when I took this photo some 20 odd years ago, I was taking it for purely referential reasons. The operational aspects of the railroads in my hometown provided me with a great deal of fascination and mental preoccupation. I took pictures of trains and the infrastructure needed to help them move, and I read extensively about both. I never envisioned the scene having any allegorical value. With appropriate cropping, it takes on symbolic value.

The Literal Elements

The photo is a north facing view of a grade crossing a couple miles south of my home town. The rail line is a branch line, seeing only two through trains a day and a local. In a less highway centric time, this line hosted a major passenger train that ran from Chicago to Miami -- The South Wind

Just shy of the grade crossing is a signal used to regulate the movement of trains on the line. The signal is called a position light, gaining its name from the fact that it uses the alignment of lamps to emulate the positions of the semaphore signals that they replaced.

The signal is lit, but is is hard to see anything other than a couple of the amber lensed lamps. The reason that it is so hard to see the lamps clearly from this angle is that the mirrors and lenses are aligned for optimal visibility at a higher level of elevation a longer distance away. Keep in mind that the engineer would be seated almost ten feet from the ground.

This purpose of this signal is to serve as an early warning to the oncoming train. A little over two miles north of here, there is a crossing with an east-west rail line. The crossing is protected by a similar signal.

The signal in the photo could tell the train to proceed at normal speed, or it could tell the train to proceed with preparation to stop at the next signal. Freight trains, which can be over one hundred cars long, can require over a mile to come to a complete stop.

The signal is powered by the small gray control box just to the right of the telephone pole. You can see the power line drop running from the right of the photo to the pole. The power drop is the only reason that this telephone pole was spared the fate of its brethren, thousands of other glass insulator bedecked structures that paralleled the line.

I don't know when the railroad stopped using the phone lines, but I suspect that it was in the early 70s, as the railroad started to close the stations along the line. By the early 80s, the bare copper wires were clipped, and the poles were removed from the right-of-way.

The Symbolism

The scenery... flat, rural, agrarian, symbolizes my past and the place from which I came.

The rail line... operable, yet only a shadow of its significance, represents the course of my life in recent years, that sense of feeling adrift.

The viewpoint is northward, looking away from the south. Unfair as it may be, the term "south" has a negative connotation in slang. Something breaking down is referred to as "going south". Likewise, my journey in this blog is an effort to reverse the stagnation and degradation of my life.

The signal... ancient, fixed, authoritative, yet unclear. It is a symbol of my search to derive certainty from something outside of myself. The inability to see the signal clearly from the given viewpoint represents my inability to reach a conclusion by raw logic or established wisdom. Even if I was to know the signal's indication, it would do no good. In fact, the indication shown in this photo was Caution -- a diagonal row of three lights descending from left to right, with a single separate light below. There is no definite Proceed or Stop indication from which certainty may be derived.

The unseen crossing... drawing near, yet still unseeable. It represents the choice I will need to make with respect to my family and my career. The east-west direction of the other line represents opportunity, something that is commonly associated with the westward direction in American culture. On a more literal level, some of the more radical choices I could make involve moving far westward.

The lone telephone pole... isolated, seemingly out of place. It represents the loneliness anxiety that I face in making my choices. Only my online readership and my therapist know the fullest extent of my ponderings and the choices that lay before me. None of my real life friends are aware, and I'm not even sure if any of them would understand. My sense of connectedness is derived from unconventional sources via channels unseen.

[1] -- If you want to hear a snippet of the "Train leaving on track 5..." line, listen to the first few moments of this Frank Deford essay on NPR's website.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Overanalyze This

I was digging through some old image scans and happened across this image, which I took sometime in the mid 1980s. Clicking the image will take you to a higher resolution version of the image.

Here is your chance to go overanalytical on me. Let me know what message(s) are being conveyed by this image via your comments.

Hint: If you don't know what the black thing with the yellow light is, take a look at this introduction.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Athens, GA, is a Long Way from Cuba, but R.E.M.'s Crucifyin' John Lennon

Bad cover for a good cause.

Call me a curmudgeon, but I think Stipe et al. were much better back when they were with IRS Records.

Monday, May 07, 2007

There Should be a Law Against it by Now

On my way back to the office, listening to my XM radio, the following question came to mind: Did the world really need an acoustic version of Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop"?

I now know why the stray cat cries.

Eat, Shop, and... Code?

I think that I'm turning into an interview whore of some sort. Today, I had another in-person interview.

This one was with a better funded start up located in the county just to the north of mine. I submitted an application in response to an ad being plugged on our local newspaper's website. My wife had noticed it and thought it might be interesting, so I threw my name in just to see if I would get a bite.

Sure enough, I got some interest, and I did a phone interview with them in the middle of last week. That went well enough to move me to the in-person technical interview.

The interview ran a little over an hour, with three people present. They presented me with two programming questions and a design question. The first question was very easy. The second was a little more computer sciencey, but I got my way through it, and they said that I managed to avoid the pitfalls that usually trap others. In the third question, they presented me with an existing object model, and I was supposed to propose changes for improvements.

After the interview completed, the three interviewers retreated to another room to make a decision. Several minutes passed, and the lead interviewer returned to ask me whether I thought it went well. I said that I tend to get a gut feeling that I could have thought my way through a problem more efficiently, but I thought it went okay. He said, "Actually, you did really well."

That won me about a half an hour with their CTO, who asked me some questions about what I had been doing and what my aspirations were. Then he told me about the company's structure and answered some questions I had about the company's direction.

I have a feeling that they're going to make me an offer.

Upsides... Sounds like the stuff they have in mind for me will be challenging for me, valuable for them, and horizon broadening for my skill set. They appear to be well funded, so the pay will be somewhat better. Downsides... Eight more miles of commuting through a stretch that is notorious for congestion. No 401(k) (haven't had that since my last job) at least for another year.

The big irony? The startup's offices are located in a new upscale "lifestyle center" mall, replete with... you guessed it... restaurants and retail. If they had a hospice, we'd have ourselves a trifecta. Alas, some ironies are too rich for reality.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

My Employer is Doomed but Will Not Die

This is kind of whiney rambly, but bear with me. I've been wanting to blog on these things, but I never get around to doing it, so this is more like a brain dump.

It's been about nine months since I started getting the feeling that my employer's long term viability was in question. As the company shrank from eight to four, and then almost three, I have accumulated more and more concrete evidence. The past month has been a really strong reinforcement.

About three weeks ago the CTO decided to do some maintenance on the servers that are hosted at a third party co-location facility. He shuts down the machine that acts as our source code repository and then can't get it to power back on. So he hauls it back to the office, where he is able to power it back up but warns us that we need to back up our code just in case it goes down for good.

So our company's intellectual property was being hosted on hardware now known to be unreliable. Moreover, it was on the company's private network, so now neither developer could access it from home.

I asked the CTO if he could punch a hole in the firewall so that we could then at least access the repository that way. He said it would require making arrangements with the DSL provider, and that it would take a minimum 1/2 phone call, but he'd get it done. It never happened.

Last week, he talked about moving the revision control server from his desk to a server closet in the company. That didn't happen, either. Why it didn't isn't totally clear to me, but I do know that the CTO and the other developer wasted all of Friday that week trying to figure out how to make the CEO's brand new Blackberry phone access her e-mail on the company's Lotus Notes server.

Further adding to my stress was the lack of hardware with which to test my code. The network protocol involved is supported by a wide range of devices, so the CTO suggested we test it on a switch on our internal network. He said it should support it. I located the specs on the product and determined that it did not support that protocol. It was a lower end version that supported only a web administration interface.

He then set up a spare laptop to provide another test device. When it came time to test my code, that laptop's hard drive had gone bad. I wound up rigging my work desktop PC with some tweaks to be the test device.

The big code drop/demo for which I was on the critical path has been put on indefinite hold. The company with whom we were trying to secure a deal started to hem and haw about the cost of the work estimates.

Earlier this week, our CEO traveled up to meet the person who was apparently in charge of the decision. She said that they're stalled on some internal snags that have arisen on another project. Moreover, the company is in the midst of a nasty battle with an activist shareholder, so management is paralyzed.

It's all probably for the better because the engineering staff at that company still hasn't sent the use case that we were supposed to use for my demo. I've been coding blind in the meantime, trying to guess what they might need.

Also part of that code drop was supposed to be a similar Java product that the CTO had supposedly written a couple years ago. I asked him for a copy of the source code so that I could model my C++ implementation on it, thereby maximizing interoperability. He said that it was up in the source code repository. I searched for it but only found a skeletal implementation that did nothing but idle for so many seconds. I asked him to see if he could search his own computer, just in case he never checked it in. I've heard nothing about it since. I suspect it was vaporware.

Another item on our work plan was the implementation of some modules that the CTO was responsible for. He's been promising that he'd do these things for months now, going as far back as last fall, but he never gets around to doing them. I don't think they ever will get done.

With the big deal on ice, they have been trying to schmooze out a new short term deal with a friend of our primary angel investor. I have no idea how our product will help that customer, and judging from my conversation with the CTO, neither does he. I think they'll do whatever consulting work it takes to get some money, just to live another day.

I need to get myself in an environment where things get done... SOON!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I Really Need to Leave Here

I wrote this in a comment on someone else's blog last week, but I'll note it again because it ran through my mind as I took the family out to lunch and ran an errand.

I have long expressed exasperation that almost all of the jobs in my field of work in this metro area are on the other side of the city, some 25 miles away. Getting there by car requires passing through two or three traffic jam bottlenecks that can eat up 40 minutes to an hour each way, and to use the city bus system would requires over 2 hours of commuting time each way.

The overwhelming majority of commercial activity on this side of town falls into three categories, restaurants, retail, and hospitals. If there was a motto for this area, it would certainly be "Eat, shop, and die."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Some People Seek Power for All the Wrong Reasons

Here is the transcript of an IM conversation between my wife and me. Edited portions are bracketed in parentheses and italicized.

wife 5/4/2007 11:29:31 AM) : (our older daughter) is still in a mood.
me (5/4/2007 11:29:39 AM) : What set her off?
wife (5/4/2007 11:34:36 AM): i want (well sort of) to go to the mall to see if applebees, fridays, etc will give donation but I am not sure if i want to go with (our older daughter)
me (5/4/2007 11:35:11 AM): Do you not have enough prizes for the (preschool co-op fundraiser)?
wife (5/4/2007 11:35:17 AM): i don't know what set her off
wife (5/4/2007 11:35:28 AM): we have a decent amount. i just wanted more
me (5/4/2007 11:35:58 AM): Look at it from this standpoint...
me (5/4/2007 11:36:53 AM): Would getting donations from any of those places result in an elevation of proceeds from the fundraiser itself? That is, do you think you would get more raffle tickets or higher attendance if you did?
wife (5/4/2007 11:37:14 AM): no i was just hoping to win more
me (5/4/2007 11:37:28 AM): Ah.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Small Update on Wife's Therapy

My wife had her third weekly therapy session on Tuesday. Last night, she told me that it looks like things won't be working out with her because the therapist won't be covered by our plan anymore. No word on whether she will seek out another therapist. It may be a moot point if I change jobs soon.

A (Job Interview) Date With an Online Dating Service

I've been sitting by the fireside
Wondering where my strength is going
Looking through the mirror of life
Trying to find out which way the wind is blowing

But my heart keeps pushing me backwards
As I jump aboard that 747
Ridin' high I got a tear in my eye
You got to go through hell
Before you get to heaven

-- Paul Pena, "Jet Airliner", New Train[1]

The song above, with its references to air travel, midlife blues, and the coasts served as a self-soothing mental track as I made a trip out to an East Coast-based Online Dating Service on Tuesday. As my outbound flight neared its destination, it hit me that I had been to two bays on two coasts in a little over two weeks, and both areas are alluded to in the song.

Like most of the job leads that have gone far for me, I didn't come looking for this one. A recruiter called me up a couple months ago pitching the position. The perks sounded attractive... high end hardware, Linux, nice salary.

I did the first phone interview soon thereafter. The guy's phone presence was cartoon character nerdy. I remember thinking, after I finished with the phone call, that I would loathe working under someone with that kind of personality if it was as bad in real life.

Soon thereafter, the recruiter called me back, and he said they were impressed and wanted a code sample. I didn't have anything to offer that wasn't covered by some intellectual property restriction, so I asked if they could give me a some time to come up with an original work. They agreed.

I spent a couple weeks in late March using spare moments to put something together, using some input that I had solicited from them via the recruiter (how's that for a spec?). At the time I really wasn't interested in delivering a something specifically for this employer. Rather, it was to have something that I could show to other prospective employers as well.

By the end of March, they started to get antsy, wanting to see the code. I sent them what I had done (about 5/6 of the way to completion). I also provided an explanatory e-mail describing the design of the code and where there could be room for future enhancement.

Surprisingly enough, they came back a week or so later and said that they wanted me to do another phone interview. This interview took place a couple weeks ago, and it was much more laid back. I got a veiled description of the project, and it sounded intriguing because it would require some non trivial-engineering work.

A few days later, they notified the recruiter that they wanted me to come in to town for an in person interview. Flight arrangements were made last week, and so there I was.

The day started really early. I had to get up at 4 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. nonstop flight. I was at their offices just before 9 a.m. The first part of the interview was with the two guys with whom I had phone interviewed. To my relief, they guy with the nerdy phone presence wasn't nearly as bad in person, although he was wearing a T-shirt that suggested a penchant for role playing games. The other interviewer was stuck in traffic, so I had to wait for about 15 - 20 minutes.

Once the second guy got in, they took me into an unused office and described a network software problem and asked me how I would go about designing the solution. We spent over two hours in discussion, as I brought up questions to narrow down specifics and constraints.

As I got more information, I talked about some of the things that one could do to create a solution. Near the end, they acknowledged that the problem was actually a disguised version of the project they had in mind for me. It was something that had the potential to bring in lots of revenue for them, and I would be at the ground floor.

We broke for lunch, and they corralled some of the other developers to head out to a nearby restaurant. This is the point where I began to see some cause for concern.

I was riding with three other employees, and en route, we passed a Catholic church, which apparently had a grade school as well. A procession was taking place, with some students, a few of whom were carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary. They started to make crude remarks about the scene, and as we idled in traffic, one of them says to another, "I'll give you a $100 if you run out there, grab the statue, and bring it back." Uproarious laughter ensued.

The exchange left me with a bad impression. I'm all for tolerance of different viewpoints. They have a right to harbor disdain for a particular religious belief system.

What bothered me is that they would choose to express that disdain in such a juvenile manner in the presence of a guest who may or may not be of that faith. It smacked of bad discretion, the kind that puts a company under the scrutiny of the EEOC.

There were some other conversational topics here and there during the lunch hour that reinforced the notion that some of these guys haven't progressed emotionally beyond the level of high school sophomore at best. If I had to guess, some of these guys look to Johnny Knoxville as a role model or cultural icon.

After lunch, there was a big group interview with the other developers who quizzed me on my skills and work experiences. Nothing too difficult, although I started to feel a little anxiety over not having had experience with developing software designed to work under very heavy traffic loads.

That worry would carry over into the next portion of the interview, which was with the founder and CEO of the company. He talked about his vision for the company, which was to grow well beyond the bounds of their current focus.

He also talked about wanting the best people for the job. He said his experiences in building a technology based business taught him that it was very important to have people he could trust. It was also important for him to have people who could do things, not just think about them.

He also talked about his philosophy of the workplace. He believed in giving his developers The Best items to get their work done. And he wanted to have the infrastructure in place to allow his employees to do their work regardless of geographic location. To that end, he said he had an agreement with big office rental company so that he could get office space wherever his talent wanted to work.

He asked me how I felt about the project that they were pitching. I expressed interest but was concerned about the lack of experience with high volume traffic. I told him that I would not try to oversell my skill set. On the other hand, I brought to the table a track record of learning new things well beyond my formal education, and I found the prospect of learning new things to be very enjoyable.

I wrapped up my interview right around 5 p.m. It had been a long day.

The takeaways from the experience... The company has interesting work to do, and I saw first hand that they guys get very nice stuff to do it with. The office arrangement would allow me to work without relocating. I would just need to travel out East every once in a while. Moreover, their infrastructure for collaborating will be quite impressive, including huge LCD TVs for use as electronic whiteboards.

The downside is that some of the people I would be working with can be annoyingly immature. With the exception of another developer who is consulting for them remotely, I would be a domesticated old codger among a pack of hyenas.

[1] -- If they lyrics look somewhat familiar, you're not mistaken. This song was recorded using a different musical arrangement and some different lyrics by the Steve Miller Band. Pena wrote the song and recorded the original back in 1973. His version is a bold bluesy groove that makes Miller's rendition scrawny by comparison.

Reading Blogs on the Sly

Given the subject matter of this blog, I suspect that some of my readers are reluctant to keep a bookmark for it. For those who would like to keep their blog hidden, you might want to take a look at Google Labs' Reader application.

It is a feed reader that I'm finding very useful for tracking updates to my ever growing reading list.

If you're new to Atom and RSS feeds, here's are some tips. The URLs for Atom feeds on Blogger hosted on are of the form:

Wordpress blog feeds look like this:

If nothing else works, look for a feed icon on the blog's homepage or try something like:


Post Mortem on the Online Payment Company Job Offer

After much gut wrenching reflection, I called the HR person at the Online Payment Subsidiary of the Bay Area Online Auction Company on Monday afternoon and let her know that I would be turning down their job offer. Before I delve into the reasons and described what happened thereafter, I wanted to offer a less serious look.

Top Ten Reasons 2am Turned Down the Job Offer

10) Had vision of Burt Bacharach proclaiming that there really was no way to San Jose. The song was just a hoax... one big, cruel, horrible hoax.

9) Bay Bridge overpass collapse put crimp in plans to buy fixer upper in Oakland and commute from there.

8) Would have been required to give up my blog in order to satisfy the "drama free" requirement for most room rentals.

7) The blissful thought of not having to dress up for work for the foreseeable future was just too much to handle.

6) Found out that "help with sale of home" in new employer's relocation package really just meant "free listing for auction on website".*

5) Worried that abundance of sunshine might make me too happy to blog.

4) Couldn't think of any cover stories to explain to my wife how I was getting so much information about relocating to the Bay Area.

3) Suspected that ridership of Caltrain might slip from strictly professional use to recreational, then finally to full blown addictive abuse.

2) If I moved out here without the wife and kids, the Drunken Housewife surely would have hunted me down, taken me captive, and forced me to listen to Dr. Laura episodes every weekday afternoon until Iris Ueber Alles' next birthday, after which I would have been hoisted up as a pinata to serve as a warning to any other restless carnivorous Midwesterners who dared to infiltrate the realm.

And the number one item is...

1) The cost of rebranding the blog as 11pmsomewhere to account for the new time zone was too prohibitive.

A More Serious Discourse on the Matter

Now that we've dispensed with the lighter fare, let's dig into what really drove me to turn down the offer...

It came down to whether this move would benefit the immediate family as a whole.

The offer was on the edge of six figures plus bonuses. Gross base go gross base, it was about 1.6 times what I am making now. However, I pay a lot for health insurance because the startup I'm with now makes me eat half of my own premium and 80 percent of the family premium. When you subtract that out and add the bonuses for the new job in, it was about a factor of 2.

However, in the Silicon Valley, that is a pittance. In the land of really pricey real estate, that's not enough to afford a single family home in a decent neighborhood and reasonable commute time to work.

The HR person with whom I was working was kind enough to put me in touch with her husband, who is a real estate broker and does relocation assistance. He sent me some detailed stats for the area, including breakouts for the average and median sale prices of homes in each community. Not one of the towns in Santa Clara county had a median or average price below $700,000.

When you start doing the math to figure out what kind of paycheck you would have to bring in, assuming that you're not doing any unsustainable kinky financing, the low $100Ks for a salary doesn't make the cut. I asked the realtor whether it was pretty much a given that one has to have two incomes to keep afloat, and he said that was pretty much the norm. If someone managed to do it with one income, it was because they had inherited the house.

My own findings seemed to match the findings of a regional economic report, titled Life in the Valley Economy: Silicon Valley Progress Report 2007 that got some press in early April.

In perhaps the most well-known example of the fiscal squeeze put on the Valley's residents, the report details that between 2000 and 2005, the proportion of households spending more than half their income on housing grew for both renters (from 18.3 to 22.8 percent) and homeowners (from 9.6 to 18.4 percent). Even though home sales have fallen 26 percent since 2004, home prices have yet to end their upward climb, as the median price for single-family homes grew from $521,240 in 2000 to $775,000 in 2006.

The idea of us both going to full time employment was a non-starter. Even if she were to get out there and work 40 hours or more a week, her earning potential is well below mine since she doesn't have a college degree.

A Second Chance
I got into an elevator at work and this man followed in after me. I pushed 1 and he just stood there. I said, "Hi, where are you going?" He said, "Phoenix." So I pushed Phoenix. A few seconds later the doors opened, two tumbleweeds blew in. We were in downtown Phoenix. I looked at him and said, "You know, you're the kind of guy I want to hang around with."

-- Steven Wright, except from "Jiggs Casey", I Have a Pony

When I communicated my decision to the HR person, I made it clear that my decision did not turn on compensation, benefits, or the working environment. Indeed, all of these things were quite nice, and for them to pay me enough for us to live on my income would have been way more than my market value.

The HR rep then came back with a suggestion, asking me if I would be willing to work at their other office in the Southwest. The plus is that it would be a more reasonable cost of living. The minuses would be that it is still far away, gets really hot there, and the rapid growth has contributed to sprawl and congestion.

She asked me if I'd be willing to talk to the hiring manager there, and I agreed to do so. I played phone tag with the other guy for a day or so, and I finally got in touch with him on the way home from work on Wednesday evening.

He gave me some background information, acknowledging that I wasn't the only one who had run into the cost of living barrier when interviewing. He said that I would not have to go through another interview cycle like I did at the headquarters a couple weeks ago. There would probably be an informal meeting with some members of the team, and then an on-site visit to let us decide whether this is someplace we'd like to move to.

So that lead has seen near death and revival.

A Personal Myth Emerges
I have a dream, a fantasy
To help me through reality
And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness still another mile
-- ABBA, "I Have a Dream", Voulez-Vous

Julia Grey's unfinished essay on heroism asks the reader these questions.
How could you turn your story into an uplifting movie, with the happiest ending possible? (No fair saying "a fairy godfather makes me rich" -- the story has to be driven by YOU and your character.)

That imaginary movie is your personal myth, the one you'll base your ethics and behavior on in the future.

My job search has reintroduced me to air travel, after about a six or seven year hiatus.

My least favorite part of flight is the taxi. Unless you fly a certain route frequently enough and know where the takeoff will occur, so you're forced to sit there watching the cryptic signs pass by, along with the occasional alternating, flashing yellow lights.

I find myself wondering what all the signs and lights mean. I wonder if the meetings that standardized these things were as mind numbing as computer standards committee meetings. I keep promising myself that I'll Google these things one day, but I never get around to it.

My favorite part of flight is the transition from taxi to takeoff. You either love or hate that moment, when the airliner makes the turn onto the runway, and you hear the jet engines rev up.

The acceleration to V1 gives me a rush every time. Although I know that you're going to be airborne by the time you reach the end of the runway, I play this little game in my mind, fantasizing about the uncertainty of the outcome. If you watch the side of a runway, you'll see large numerals that count down to "1" as you get near the end. They serve as a dramatic element that fuels the thrill.

It occurred to me over the weekend that these two aspects of air travel are metaphors of my journey in this blog. They become a guiding myth to propel me forward.

For a very long time, the progress of my life has resembled that of a taxiing airliner, slowly plodding down long strips. I have been a passive passenger, wondering when the taxi will come to a halt.

The crucible is my attempt to finally become airborne. Now it is not a matter of equipment. I have demonstrated my skills can get me a much better job.

Rather, it is a matter of preparation. The offer I received almost two weeks ago put me in an awkward position. I was faced with the task of trying to put a 747 into flight using a regional airport runway. No matter how many mind games I would play with myself to work down the anxiety, I knew that it was probably impossible to shoot for that goal now.

Maybe the alternative location will work out. With less of a housing burden, I will be able to match better my airliner with a runway, and have a greater chance at hitting V1.

Passengers, put your tray tables and seats in the upright position and turn off your electronic devices.

* -- The item about help with sale of home is pure fiction. Their relocation package , although quite generous in real life, does not include sale assistance. If you get an offer from them someday, don't go complaining that you didn't get this in your package while some anonymous armchair philosopher blogger did.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What Can Google Tell Us About Gender Neurosis?

Maybe this is me being over-the-edge analytical, so alternative interpretations are welcome.

ABC News is running a feature devoted to the question of determining whether a spouse's sexual orientation is other than advertised. There's a few token references to men being married to closeted lesbians, but the bulk of the article is addressed to women.

This prompted me to do a a few searches to see whether there might be similar content addressed to a male reader. I used the phrasing "Is your..." as the basis. Here is what I found:

Google phrasenumber of matches
"Is your wife lesbian"1
"Is your wife a lesbian"5
"Is your wife gay"3
"Is your husband gay"about 26,000