Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Catching Up

I have a cold. Nothing severe - all upper respiratory so far - but enough to call in sick to work.
So I've been using Remote Control to work on computers at work. My God, when I was in High School, computers didn't have hard drives. Computer Science taught us how to punch out paper cards as "programs". And now I can take control of a computer at work as if I'm sitting there. Telecommuting (in order to telecommute properly, you have to be drinking coffee and sitting at your computer in your underwear - it's a rule).
I'm paying dusty bills, cleaning stuff up, and stringing new network cable. Since my home is little more than a crash-pad, it is not a nice environment. There's no room. One of my friends said I'm "The mad scientist of computers." My main room is a computer lab with every flavor of Windows, Ubuntu Linux, a MacBook, laptops that work and laptops that don't, bins, shelves, and cabinets of parts, books, books, and more books (less than half about computers).
This is the same lab where, as a machinist, I built a lab from computers I rescued from dumpsters, taught myself all about networking and computer maintenance/repair, quizzed-out on exams, and got a white-collar job paying twice as much.

I'm not much of a reader or watcher. The idea of watching baseball or football - and doing nothing else - appalls me. "You mean... JUST watching??? How do you do that?" I'd have to hold still and not interact. I'd have to log some real ass-time!
Runners World? Trail Runner Mag? I have been given copies of those but I barely glance at them. I'd rather run than read about it. I know there are "inspiring" stories, stories that help us avoid injury, run faster, etc. But still, I'd rather just do it than read about it. Part of it is that as I've gotten older, I care less about how well I'm doing stuff and more about just doing it. So I donate the magazines to my local Kaladi coffee shop.

It's days like today when I'm sick (and in the future as I get decrepit) I will plug away at the stack of unread books that has gotten so high, it fell over a couple days ago.

My son is 18. It will probably be another few years before he's done with school and under his own roof. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, but the apple did roll a long ways, and it continues to roll. He loves the outdoors, but he's more into music than athletics. I at least have him lifting weights. He is an incredible musician. Okay, the music is not my choice, but he writes his own music and engineers it too. He has friends, both at school and across the Internet, who send him parts to songs. He builds the songs with multi-track recording software and a mixing board. Then he burns the CDs and distributes them. He wasn't given any lessons with any of this stuff. He is completely self-taught.
I've spoiled him with stage-quality musical instruments. I remember trying to learn snowboarding with a half-assed board. I still don't care about snowboarding. Maybe if I'd had a real snowboard?? Trying anything with a "toy" instead of the real thing can turn you off to something. I figured I'd buy him one decent keyboard when he was a kid. If he liked it, great. If not, I could sell it or give it away. His ADHD brain took right to it. So every year, I bought him more stuff - all stage-quality. Roland, Squire, DigiTech, Korg,... And every penny well worth it. While other kids are getting high and drunk, he's writing and mixing songs.
Yet his passion is cars, not music. He wants to be a mechanic, but also wants to design and make his own cars. I guess he wants to be the Dick Rutan of automotive.

I've tried to show him through the way I live my life that limitations are most often figments of our imaginations. That's what running ultras is all about - showing him that the impossible is possible. If we perceive a limitation, we should be realistic and honest about it. It's okay to accept certain limits, but don't fictionalize excuses for why that limitation is being practiced. We decide how we want to live, which direction we want to go, whether or not to achieve, what to achieve. To achieve our goals, we need priorities. I don't believe in parenting in such a way as to impose myself onto him. He is he. I am I. He needs to find himself, build himself, and live his life. But there is one thing I selfishly insist on trying to imprint him with: It's all about people. It's okay to have goals, and to charge forth, destroying or ignoring whatever obstacle gets in your way - except not at the expense of people. I'm no fan of religion, but I do believe that the value of our lives is equal to our contributions to humanity. If I imprint nothing else on him, and he is different from me in every other way, I will feel like a successful parent.

Now look what happens when you mix free time (ass-time!) with cold meds... I just rambled all over myself - and now you.


  1. This is the best you've written. May be because you are not in a hurry to get out the door, or build another computer:) It's an awesome insight in your life. And you kid is great, Mr. Apple Tree. Roll on, man. But when you deicde to pair down in your main room - invite me. I am a Master in decluttering:)
    p.s. I give away my Ultrarunning mag at club runs, and I have read may be 5 pieces in the last year's worth. I wasn't even subscribed the last couple of years, but got it this year as a gift. I do read books, though, on the bus and on a stair master when can't run. I also watch TV for an hour at night with fam - it's larry's thing, and I will blame him to get me hooked on HDTV as a fam-get-together=pass-time-before-bed:)

  2. just came across your blog. cool stuff


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