friendship and tolkien

I was thinking about the word friendship. Read the rest of this entry »

love of books

Books have always been in my life. Read the rest of this entry »


Two epic hours at the whiteboard in front of the executive committee assuaging their unfounded fears about disaster recovery and risk management. At last exhausted, the meeting over I sit quietly in the corner of the now dark conference room taking notes of action items. It is cool and quiet with just the empty chairs for company.

A woman walks by and peers in the glass windowed doors of the room, pokes her head in and asks, “Are you in timeout?”


I like my job. I am well paid, I have influence and can make a difference.  It is just that sometimes the machines are so much purer than the people.

Meetings consume most days.  Like high school, we progress from room to room to meet until the big hand strikes 12, and then off to the next meeting.   There is no bell now, we are already conditioned. The people are pleasant, but meetings seem to consume our souls.   Are we building consensus, removing roadblocks advancing the company or just rehashing and scheduling the next meeting?

Sometimes, after all the meetings when the day is done, I come back in and sit at my cubicle. The low lights and quiet hallways comfort me.  The living building houses many sounds which never seem noticeable in the day,  blowers coming on and off, creaks and groans of thermal contraction as the windows cool with the falling night.  Each mysterious sound might be the harbinger of  approaching monsters, but my cubicle is safe.

Irradiated by the ghostly glow of my two monitors, I log into various machines, selecting from those 500 plus servers that run the business, and tweak and tune. There are no politics here, no posturing, no empire building.  I ask, and if I ask correctly, they always tell the truth.   Where is that file:

  locate  limits.conf or

find / -print | egrep limits.conf

Cryptic commands that are like old friends, followed by

sudo vi /etc/security/limits.conf



To edit and change it. In the UNIX world there might be ten ways to change something, but it is always binary, two choices, it works or it doesn’t,   So I sit and type, my fingers often knowing the commands so well they spring forth without conscious thought.  Perhaps  this living language of technology, created so long ago by pioneers in the 1970s will soon fade into obscurity.  It may be so, but it is what I know.

I work late into the night, then I log out, and depart for the evening prepared to return the next morning.

wild and untamed

February 29th, a rare day indeed.  As rare as true love?

As for the 389 miles that separate us, let me transcend them through metaphor.

Who knows, perhaps our love will be greater than the untamed Sahara desert.

So epic and sweet that it is spelled dessert?


Sometimes,  I cannot sleep.

I close my eyes and imagine you

bathed only in moonlight.


My hand caresses you

from cheek to breast to thigh

as you come into my arms.


Sometimes, there is no need for sleep,

Just the moonlight, and you.






It is 08:00 and the sun is rising in the clear blue sky over Naperville.

The grass is painted by a billion tiny shards of crystal, soon to evaporate away. Back from  a morning ride, my cheeks a rosy red,  but now warm as I gaze out through my window over the back yard as it shares this sparkling  glory, I spot an opossum near the fence as it moves slowly but confidently toward the  house.

It walks with a purpose, placing each pad down as if the little frosty shards covering each blade of grass might slice it with tiny knives of cold.  It is big, with a white coat lined with grey, and a long slender tail.   Step by careful step, it comes closer, and I can see a thin fine snout.  I can’t help but think how pretty you are in your fine coat.  Did you get dressed up for your evening?  Have you been out all night finding a lover, and are just now come home to bed?

Sleep well little marsupial, just like me we will see what tomorrow brings.




My kids call them “Pearls of Wisdom”, and say they are more prevalent following champagne or  fine red wine.  But a young gentleman from India sent notice that he had just had a son.   Here is what I sent him.


Great news!

Remember, that as a father…..

From you he will learn strength, and whether to exploit the weak or lift them up.

From you he will learn how to treat and value women, in how you treat your wife.

From you he will learn respect and kindness and if they matter at all.

From you he will learn the value of hard work, or the lack of effort.

I am sure you will teach him well.

May these upcoming years be filled with laughter and joy.


I know it is cheesy, most “Pearls of Wisdom” are, but at least I didn’t quote Churchill to him!

must be the darn meds

We sometimes battle, and she lets me and my UNIX team know it.  I like that, you know where you stand.  Fair and honest are  all one can ask for in the workplace.   That’s why I took the time to walk down and talk to her about our latest issue.   She deserved it.

We talked for a bit, and I explained our point of view and she told me hers.  Once she saw that I acknowledged her issues, we quickly began to work through and come up with a plan, or the beginning of a plan.  It was a successful trip, the kind that saves you from an email war or management escalation when a misplaced comma turns a sincere question into sarcasm.

I knew she once had it.  Somehow I heard.  These things come like echos from a distant canyon, no source, no destination, but all about you.  We chat, she lived real adventures out West.  Almost of its own volition I realize I want to tell her.  When we pause and talk about the future it is the time.

“I don’t know if you heard, but I have cancer”.

I see the pain in her eyes, and she gasps and draws back covering her mouth with the fingers of her right hand.  “I can’t even say that word”, she whispers to me, and I realize how terrible is the foe that we both share.

This small grey cubical we sit in might be in the middle of the desert and my white board diagrams no longer matter or make sense.

She leans in and touches my left hand with hers, and we talk strategy, radiation, chemo, strength and will and hope.  She has my hand clasped between both her hands.  Softly but strongly, ” I am here for you, babe”.

I can’t speak and so just nod my head.  I feel the moisture gathering around my eyes and hope my glasses hide the glistening traces. Must be the damn meds.

We are back in the cube with the noise of business enveloping us.  One more little confab then I walk away to the next battle.


I had been thinking about bullying  since I saw that cared deeply about it.  Here is the first of three  true stories about bullies from 35 years ago in a small town sixty miles east of Cleveland, Ohio.  We would have been ninth graders, king’s of the junior high, about 14 years old.


She had rich black hair that hung down to her shoulders.  Farm raised and bred, she was a big girl, a fully mature woman amongst the children we were, but never admitted to be.  Different, she dressed modestly with long dresses, which I almost always remember as blue,  sometimes with a knitted  shawl draped over her shoulders, a spider web of blue yarn.   Her eyes were gentle and kind, and I don’t recall I ever heard her speak.

There were sixty of us in the band, and she was brass like us, but not like us.  We were the coronets and trumpets the spark and spunk of the room and we surrounded her.   Chris, the star of the football team, Michael and I footballers of less glory but equally as cocky, and Bob the first chair sat behind looking down on her, the others flanked her, like destroyers escorting a harmless merchant in a flotilla.   Mr H_ the instructor was out and like a tornado arising without reason or warning, it began.

Bob with his stutter sent the first dagger, “You p-p-p-pig”, loud enough for us all to hear, but quiet enough so that the other fifty chattering kids would never notice.   Chris was next in with his buzz saw laugh, as he threw taunt after taunt at her.   The others jumped in and began pelting her with wads of paper, spitballs, and more taunts and names.

Debra just bowed her head and began to shrink, her shoulders rounding, her arms closer in, as if each word took more and more of her away, leaving less.   I sat and did nothing.   I could have stopped it, but had not the courage.  Her kind eyes searched for a defender, and found none.  I heard Chris gather his spittle and launch a huge hawker on her back, and the white slime hung over the weave of her shawl.  My eyes were transfixed by the motion of the spit as it moved down the woven web of the shawl as if it were alive, when I heard Bob spit.

Then it was over.  Mr H was back and with a wave of his hand the warmup scales began in their precise beauty and order.

Many years have passed, and in them I have occasionally been able assist or stop something before it gets out of hand.   But it never atones for the time I failed to act.