Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Time is fleeting 

(Sitting in front of the computer at the end of another busy day. C'mon lazybones, write something!)
Just heard this morning that another friend died. It wasn't a total shock--Erman was a frail old man, close to ninety if not over. Heh. What a line. He was physically frail--he had to lift his right arm with his left in order to shake hands. But a spiritually frail person wouldn't make the effort. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally--whatever you want to call it--Erman was a force of nature. I have no doubt that his funeral on Wednesday morning will be packed. And I wouldn't be surprised if I'm not the only one thinking that I need to be a little bit more like him, to carry on the legacy. Death pulls everyone off the game board sooner or later, but some of us leave our mark behind.

Anyway, so I now have the proverbial "one more thing" to squeeze into my week. I hate myself for that momentary gripe over the inconvenience. I wished I lived in a small, close-knit community, where a person's funeral would shut down the whole town. But such is life in the big city, junior. Get over it.

Erman's passing led my mind down other paths as well. He had a close brush with death about a year ago--or was it two? Anyway, at that time his mind was settled and he was ready to go. In a way, my family is doing the same thing as well, amidst the bustle of paperwork and painting and overtime. Bit by bit we're saying goodbye to the status quo. Sometimes it flows naturally, as we savor a holiday or the last days carrying out a responsibilty, knowing that we won't be doing it this way again for a couple of years. Other times it's a bit forced, as we try to make time to touch base with this friend or that, or try to squeeze in one more concert before we leave. Either way, we're very aware of the fragility of our routines, our relationships, our lives. Which things will survive the journey that's bound to transform us? It's a scary question, but for me, at least, the road ahead is worth risking it. I guess I just trust God to preserve those things that need preserving. Not quite like the proverb "I hold the gifts of God in an open hand", but maybe I'm getting a bit closer to that state of mind. Or maybe I'll look back at these words in the years to come and wonder how I could have ever been so dense. Time will tell.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Do I have to? 

Um, Joel obliged me to do this meme. I suppose I should question his authority to do this--I mean, can I lose my blogging license if I refuse? But heck, Joel's a nice guy and it won't keep me up too late, right? (Maybe I am a thought follower after all...) Anyway:
  • Three Names You Go By: J, Juanita, and Doodledums

  • Three Screen Names You Have: Hamburger Lad, um... that's all I use anymore

  • Three Things You Like About Yourself: I'm willing to listen, I generally respect people, and I like to laugh

  • Three Things You Dislike About Yourself: Lapses of self control, um... otherwise I get along quite well with myself

  • Three Parts of Your Heritage: German farmers, a career firefighter, and (so I'm told) a doctor

  • Three Things That Scare You: The current administration, my society's dependence on oil, and the depth of my own sinfulness

  • Three Everyday Essentials: Milk, clean underwear, and randy thoughts

  • Three Things You Are Wearing Right Now: blue jeans, a shirt, and glasses

  • Three Favorite Bands/Artists: Balkanarama, Atwater-Donnely, Glenn Kaiser

  • Three Favorite Songs At Present: Another Guitar by the Rainmakers, Listen to Me by Bill Miller, and Balkanarama's current "most requested song" (Roma, Roma or something like that)

  • Three Things You Want To Try/Do In The Next Twelve Months: go to China, aquire a functional level of language ability in Mandarin, and not starve my family with horrible cooking

  • Three Things You Want In A Relationship: Patience, affection, and forgiveness

  • Two Truths And A Lie: It's getting difficult for me to think, the library's parking lot was full earlier this evening, and my mistress is waiting for me.

  • Three Physical Things About The Opposite Sex That Appeal To You: curves, long hair (preferably dark), more curves

  • Three Things You Just Can’t Do: stop snacking, leave the web browser off, and think of a third item for this list

  • Three Favorite Hobbies: Reading, writing, and photography.

  • Three Things I Want To Do Really Badly Right Now: Finish this, go home, and go to sleep

  • Three Careers You Have Considered: Writer, computer programmer, and bookstore owner

  • Three Kid’s Names You Have Considered: Patty, Maggie, and Moth (or Patricia, Margaret and Timothy, legally)

  • Three Things You Want To Do before You Die: Nothing that has to be done--ready when You are, Lord!

  • Three People Who Have To Take This Quiz Now: I'm horrible at delegating

  • Take me to your leader 

    Well, I suppose I should write something, that being one of the essential components of maintaining a weblog. Overwork and lack of sleep has drained my desire to write, but I shall make the attempt nonetheless. I had started to struggle with a post recapping the various events of the past few days, but fortunately, I happened to find a topic that was completely different.

    I picked up a job which was a book cover. In the process, I happened to read the "about the author" blurb. It touted the author of this particular tome as, among other things, a "thought leader". Now that intrigued me. Thought leader. Sounded like corporate-speak B.S. However, I was curious if this was an actual accepted concept, or if the copywriter was feeling a little creative the night she or he wrote the blurb. So, I googled the phrase "thought leader". There were quite a number of hits, the first one fitting my needs quite nicely. Elise.com defines a "thought leader" as: It then goes on to say how you can become a thought leader by getting smart and kissing up to journalists and all that.

    Now my first reaction was to consider this the height of bogus-ness. A true thought leader, I reasoned, should not have to advertise the fact. But upon further reflection (as I had to remove an extra spot color and reprocess the file, and hence had another moment for contemplation) I recognized that my reasoning was faulty. True, one can have great intelligence without recognition. But that's only the thought part of the equation. Leaders, of course, need someone to follow them, otherwise they are just poor sods talking to themselves. So I humbly recognized that once again I did not know more than the experts.

    I also realized that any ambitions I may have toward being known as a thought leader were hopeless. Well, actually, I don't have any such ambitions, which is why I can safely predict that such ambitions would never come to fruition. I mean, I certainly dig the thought part. I enjoy being knowledgeable when I can and all that. But leader? Nah. I don't need people following me. I don't mind helping people out, but if a week goes by and nobody seeks my wisdom, I don't panic and start calling journalists. When given the choice to lead, follow, or get out of the way, I certainly avoid choice number one.

    Of course, that also led me to speculate on what a "thought follower" would be like. A smart person who takes orders from someone else? I suppose most of us have been there. That can be a pain when your leader is lacking the "thought" modifier. And then there's the, um, well, what would you call it? The only succinct label that comes to mind is "thought anarchist", but that implies an intent to disrupt the activities of the other two. "Thought get-out-of-the-way-er" is more accurate, but doesn't lend itself to a snazzy seminar title. Oh, well, if I were home I could check my thesaurus, but I'm not so I won't. Maybe some semantics thought leader might stumble across this post someday and solve the problem.

    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    Voices carry 

    Bleh. Swamped at work, swamped at home. But as much as I want to head home and crash, the desire to post is stronger. I must have picked up an addiction to this writing thing.

    Anyhoo, a bit of an oddity: Within the past week I've received two e-mails from people who have discovered my original website. (I'm not linking, as it would reveal my secret identity to the world and make my loved ones vulnerable to my enemies.) (Or however the line goes.) One person was job hunting and must have been researching Bloatmeal. I had a page that mentioned the company name and she stumbled across it. Anyway, she shot me a mail asking for some info on the shop and local prepress scene. The second person was a college student writing a paper on the book Nisei Daughter by Monica Sone. She (the student, not Ms. Sone) found a "review" I had written back in 2002, and sent me a mail asking if I thought the upbeat tone of the book contributed to people trying to minimize the injustice of the Japanese Internment. Of course, I wasn't too busy to give her my two cents on the topic. (Sleep? Who needs sleep when I have caffiene and aspirin?) Anyway, it was all very weird. I'm used to the very occasional response to those words I launched into cyberspace so many years ago, but never have they fallen so close together.

    Saturday, April 09, 2005

    The idea not taken 

    As I was leaving for work yesterday--planting a kiss or two upon each member of the family--I don't consider the frogs part of the family--Bunnah asked the question, "Where do kisses go? Do they go down your throat?" I'm guessing she was joking. Three, four years ago, it would have been a serious philosophical question. But joke or not, on the way to work I was mulling over the phrase.

    "Where do kisses go?"

    The clinical answer, of course, would not do. One could start talking about moisture and evaporation rates and all that, but where is the poetry in that? No, such a question deserves to be handled with creativity and affection.

    An essay on the subject would be nice--perhaps something about love spreading through one's cheek, down to the heart or something like that. Nice and warm and fuzzy.

    Or perhaps something humorous. A child's tale, chronicling the investigations of a pint-sized scientist and her assistant as they attempt to observe and document the various kisses that occur around them.

    Lots of potential there. But alas, I don't have the time to do anything with the idea. If anyone else wants to take it and run with it, be my guest.

    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    Show me the way to go home 


    Busy night tonight--another campaign has started. So it shall be days and days of boxes and CD labels, with enough variations to require new files but not enough to be interesting. Oh, well.

    Anyway, I'm going to skip a real Meetup report since a) I'm tired and b) Tommy Williams at Tommy Blogs did such a fine job with his report. I'll just echo his sentiments and say that it's worth attending. (Even if they wait until I leave to discuss science fiction.)

    Tomorrow, er, later today, we have to get some more passport pix taken--six each!--and mailed off to China. I guess the school probably needs to apply to get us the appropriate visas or whatever. Given the number needed, I called around to see if I could find a cheaper price than the $7 per pair we paid last time. Surprise! Turns out I was getting a bargain. So it's off to my regular photo lab, Paradise Wedding Studio, to get the job done. That's Paradise Wedding Studio, 2607 S McClellan St in Seattle. (Hamburgerland has received no advertising revenue from the preceeding plug. Just good service from nice people.)

    Wednesday, April 06, 2005

    About that Meetup... 

    I'm too tired to write up my obligatory post meetup report, so for now you'll have to settle for the condensed version in haiku form:

    Meetup at Crossroads
    Lunchtime with Eastside bloggers
    I should eat something

    Sunday, April 03, 2005

    China Weekend: Sunday 

    Today, we made our first initial support raising presentation. It was at our own church, so of course it's tempting to call it a dress rehearsal. The day began painfully. Sunday comes early enough on a normal weekend and daylight savings time helps that not one bit. Noodles was a bit depressed, since she spent a portion of yesterday fussing about the China finances. Even though we had contacted a number of people and received a lot of encouragement, we had yet to garner penny one of the required funds. To me, it was not yet something to fret about, but Noodles was seeing this as a lack of confirmation of the whole scheme. If the money doesn't come in, my plan is to sell the house and fund it ourselves, her plan is to reconsider it all. Wouldn't you know it, two people handed her checks today--before the presentation yet! Crisis averted. (or at least deferred) Anyway, after church we made our spiel and answered questions. It was nice, since we were amongst friends, but it was also odd to be spilling our guts about why we want to do all this. While we've been musing the idea for years, it hasn't been something that has come up in everyday conversation. Suddenly a number of friends became a lot closer. (assuming they don't run away screaming from such weirdos in their midst) So it was with joy in our hearts that we headed home to lunch, a nap and... oh, yeah, I was going to try and work on that newsletter.....

    China Weekend: Saturday 

    Ah, Saturday began with such promise. My services weren't required for weekend overtime, so I thought I had a free day to do something--play with the kids, fiddle with our newsletter, fetch some home improvement supplies, maybe even make a comic book run. But before I got really moving, the FedEx truck arrived with a special delivery from the Sauerkrauts. The long promised psychological surveys had arrived! These were supposed to be included in the first mailing we had received from them, but had been delayed. (I forget the reason.) I put those aside for the moment and first gave the girls their "Daddy Time". One must have priorities, you know. Bunnah was satisfied with playing a game of Life, but Poodlepums wanted transportation to Capitol Music to buy herself a music book. Noodles wanted to tag along to buy a guitar book (guess which instrument the children have been dragging out of the crawlspace?), so "Daddy Time" became a family excursion. For some dumb reason I got the notion that this would be a good time to pay off the violin we've been renting, since we needed to purchase or return it before we left for China. It must have been my predilection to spend money on music. When it comes to buying musical things for the kids, the wallet springs open. If they wanted to buy, say, baseball gear or something, I'd be combing the thrift stores and rooting through dumpsters before darkening the doors of a sporting goods store. And even then I'd be questioning the need for such extravagance. Something musical, however, it's "Sure kid, whadda ya want?" Anyway, we went to the store, paid off the violin, purchased the music books and I lusted after such essentials as music software, a half size guitar for Bunnah and a mandolin. I have had no long term desire for a mandolin, it's just that it was hanging right there at the end of the aisle and, gosh darn, it's such an interesting instrument.

    Anyway, we returned home, had lunch, and then Noodles and I dove into the psychological exams. I haven't filled in so many circles since high school. Two were general psych profiles (one of which we got to answer for our spouse as well!), one was geared toward cross-cultural adaptability and the fourth was, well, weird. It was a clinical assessment, for people with serious psychological problems. I was answering false to all sorts of questions such as "I still feel terrified when I think of a traumatic experience I had years ago" and "I know I've spent more money than I should buying illegal drugs." Some of the queries were downright bizarre, such as "I was on the front cover of several magazines last year." My first reaction was to laugh, but then I sobered up as I considered that some poor soul probably had just such a delusion. (I'm assuming the question was designed for someone who was delusional. Perhaps I'm wrong and the test is merely designed for people like Martha Stewart.)

    A couple of hours and a case of writer's cramp later, I was free to do something.... except that I remembered that I had to write up some financial reports for church. I also took the time to balance my checkbook and make that final payment on the flurshugginer porch. Suddenly paying off the violin seemed like an ill timed move. (Of course, I suppose it wouldn't kill me to carry over a balance on the credit card for once.) Finally, it was time to do the dishes and head to bed. The day ended on a bit of a downer, as I fussed over finances and set the clocks ahead in anticipation of losing an hours' sleep.

    China Weekend: Friday 

    Seems like the highlights of this weekend were all tied in with our China excursion. On Friday morning (I know, technically not the weekend yet, but I hope you'll let it slide) we went forth to apply for our passports. Noddles' and mine expire next year, so we need to renew them. Poodlepums' expired a few years back and Bunnah's Chinese passport doesn't count. So we trucked on over to the bank to get some necessary documentation, then down to Paradise Studios to get our pictures taken and then over the hill to the post office to submit the applications. It was very reminiscent of our adoption trip--filling out forms and writing checks, all in anticipation of an overseas adventure. (And of course, seeing old pictures of the young'uns was a special delight.) Of course, back then the finances weren't as tight and writing the checks wasn't as painful. But things went smoothly and all in all it was a pleasant productive morning.

    Friday, April 01, 2005

    Help Wanted 

    I mentioned, back at my lastMeetup Report, that some journalists from the Bellevue Reporter were in attendance. I was curious as to whether I would get a mention/photo or not. Well, I haven't read the article yet, but from what I hear, it's out and I'm probably not included. From all the evidence Google was able to amass for me, it seems like the only person to get a mention is this woman who's claim to Reporter fame is the fact that she's "having an affair with a married man".


    I'm sorry, but I just can't take this anymore. I mean, there seems to be two types of bloggers out there--those that get a large following and those who seem to be content to write for their own amusement. I tried to join the ranks of the former, to get people to read this. I've told friends and family about this blog. I've included a link in my message board signatures. I've posted my blog at places like Seablogs. I've commented on popular blogs. None of it--NONE of it--has done a bit of good. I can't even get a lousy mention in a local paper. I am so tempted just to give it all up. Just pull the plug, let the heart and soul poured out here to vanish, unmourned. But I just can't let it go. Whether it's a sign of emotional strength or serious dementia, there's part of me that still has a hope that with a bit of effort or creativity I can catch that hook, find that in, to make people pay attention to me.

    I have come to the point where I realize that I can't do it alone. The public doesn't want Hamburger Lad. To them, I'm just a slimy mollusc to be trod upon. If I'm going to win their ear, I must hide myself. I must wrap myself in sensation, something to draw in a people daily bombarded by words and images. So, if I can't beat them, I will join them. I can use the Bellevue Reporter as a guide. They want adultery? Very well, adultery is what I shall give them.

    Um, that is, if I can find a mistress. That's my problem. Characterization is one of my weak points as a writer. I don't think I could really make up a good fictional paramour. So I'm putting out the call for any woman out there who would like to have an affair with me, so I could write it up in the blog here. We don't actually have to, uh, you know. We could just exchange steamy letters and pictures and stuff. But actual you know might make for greater traffic. And, of course, if you have your own blog, then we could do a He Said, She Said type thing. That might even be preferable.

    Anyway, if any of you ladies could help me out, I would be very appreciative. Just leave a comment and a link and we can set something up. The one thing is that we need to hurry. I'm a bit nervous about leaving this post up where my wife might see it. So this offer will end at midnight tonight, April 1st. Thanks.