Monday, August 18, 2008

Joyous Return to Active Duty

There are times in life when one gets tired of doing the same thing day after day and wants a change of pace. When local officials asked for someone to help with a project they were working on "for a few days," I felt my opportunity had arrived to do just that. I happily volunteered and reported for duty. Little did I know that "a few days" was really 2 weeks.

There are times in life when one gets tired of having a change of pace and wants to get back to doing the same thing day after day. The project has been consuming my life and my soul for far too long (hence the absence of posts for the last 2 weeks), and it's good to be back.

I'm sure that many of you are curious as to what the project was. While I can't go into too much detail, a massive database was being compiled of super-criminals (super-criminal being defined as someone who uses abilities or powers beyond those of average criminals, which really isn't that hard when you think about it). The database itself was fairly straightforward - compile a list of current location, known contacts and security level of the penitentiary to which they were sent. I began with the ones who are currently incarcerated (approximately 1000 names), since we have somewhat more information on them (Current Headquarters: Algonquin penitentiary, Cell block D. Locations of known henchmen: Cell block C, etc.) This process took several days, but was completed without much incident.

Then they gave me the list of the supervillains who have escaped from imprisonment or are still at large. Not to alarm anyone, but this list contained no fewer than 2,000 names and, for obvious reasons, little was known about their current location and contacts. This part of the process involved over a week of painstaking, mind-numbing research. As the project neared completion, I asked the commissioner if he had any additional requirements. This was a mistake. He immediately gave me additional information to seek out. I finally finished with everything an hour before my deadline, 2 weeks after I began.

I used the word "mind-numbing" to describe this process. After the first 2 days on the project, I began falling asleep in front of the station computer. Realizing I needed something to keep me going, I discovered Pandora, a free online music site that lets you create your own online radio stations, using a "seed" of an artist or song, from which it derives certain stylistic points to create a station. I quickly created a station for musicals (using Alan Menken and Sir Arthur Sullivan as my main "seeds,"), another for stirring, dramatic orchestra music (using John Williams), and a station for slower, more haunting music (using Howard Shore).

These kept me going for about a week. But I soon found that, by the end of my shift going in to week 2, even the dramatic strains of the Star Wars theme were insufficient to keep me on my task. I finally resorted to something quite different. I realized that the only way I would be able to complete the project would be to shut out all thought and emotion beyond that needed to complete my task. With a trembling hand, I moved my mouse to the "genre" based station, seeking a numbing form of music and made a selection. Thus it was that for the last week of my task, I spent several hours each day listening to the whining, grinding beat of techno. Shutting out all thought, all feeling, I became a machine, my fingers moving in time with the droning sound. Selling a piece of my soul to the beat, I completed my task day by day. It's good to be back.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Going the distance

Time for an admission here. There's a reason why I love flying so much, even though I may not match the super-speeders' mph. My legs just can't handle it - after just a few minutes, they start to hurt, I start to lose my breath, it's not pretty.

For this reason, when I have to run, I prefer to do it alone - avoid the mockery, that sort of thing. So when my wife offered to go running with me, I was less than thrilled with the prospect. While she's seen me at my worst, I still try to avoid reaching new levels of worst. Her 20 minute jogging goal seemed to me a proposal to do exactly that, since the old hams start to hurt at about 5 minutes. But, between Alba's insistence and the fact that we'd be using the action simulator (positioned next to an air conditioner) to do it, rather than heading outside in the hot summer sun, I soon found myself jogging by her side.

Yes, it was painful. Yes, I had trouble keeping my balance when it was done. But Yes, I did it. And I did it again (once again by her side) a few days later. It's amazing the power that a beautiful young woman can have in her husband's life.

Which classic Superhero are you?

Your results:
You are Superman
Green Lantern
Iron Man
The Flash
Wonder Woman
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz