Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"I want a new drug..." -- Huey Lewis and the News

Caffeine just doesn't seem to do it for me anymore. I just finished up the last few shreds of that precious Italian coffee I lugged back all the way from Casirate, provinzia di Bergamo. That was marvelous coffee, what the experience of drinking coffee ought to be. Never mind that it was decaf. I will be hard-pressed to find anything from the local supply that can equal the aroma, the flavor, and the spirit of that coffee. Starbucks? PFFFFFT!!!! I don't even know why I return to that place again and again. Their daily brew tastes terrible, like burned rubber. Forget the espressos... the horror of sipping a Starbucks espresso is just so indescribable! The frapuccinos are tolerable, but beneath all that froth lurks a chemical cocktail of food coloring, artificial flavors, and a sackful of sugar. And they serve all this garbage in huge cups, as if trying to get you to puke on their shit so you'll know better than to come back.

"I love the java jive and it loves me..." -- the Manhattan Transfer

I'm not that much of a coffee drinker. But I've arrived at where I can tell good coffee from bad coffee. Speaking of coffee, this Java thing has just got me stumped, and good! When I picked up Microsoft's Visual Basic, it took me all of three days to get the drift and become productive. I was churning out itsy-bitsy little programs. After a month I was generating gargantuan, full-scale enterprise applications.

But if Visual Basic were a woman, she'd be a bitch, and a real whimsical one at that. Pretty, and reliable most times, but not quite there when the going gets tough. Like Monica Lewinsky. I'd been hearing a lot about Java. If I were to believe all that's written about it, and if Java were a woman, she'd be a reliable toughie. Like a Demi Moore, maybe, or a Hilary Swank.

So I did what any I.T. person in need would do -- I dove right into the murky waters of Sumatra, and took a go at Java. It's been three weeks now. And I still don't know what the heck I'm doing. I mean, I have a general idea of how the danged thing works, and I can follow the programming logic. But I just can't seem to get enough of a grip on the entire system. I still haven't gotten my little test programs to work! Oh, well...

"If at first you don't succeed -- SUCK AGAIN!" -- Los Tres Pogis de Anos

Monday, February 07, 2005

"I shall return!" - Gen. Douglas MacArthur

And so I have. Two years is a long time, especially by human standards. If I live to be eighty, two years would constitute 2 and a half percent of my entire life. The 700 or so days that constitute two years is time enough to make great things happen. I wish I could say that the reason I've not been able to keep my journals here up-to-date is because I've had my focus and my energies and my talents and my competencies monopolized and consumed by something great, something that will eventually, when completed, define me as the great and inspiring human being I have always believed myself to be.

But here's what really happened...

I messed up. The last two years have been a stark, painful, tortuous life lesson for me. In these last two years I have descended into the depths of my miserable existence and stared face-to-face at my own putrid failure. When I started this blog two years ago, I whistled as I thought to myself, "This must be the bottom rung of my pathetic life. It can't get any lower. Things can only get better." But things didn't get better. I had counted on the law of averages to come to my rescue like the cavalry charging down the hill. Because things had been going so bad for so long, I wrongly rationalized that the statistics were henceforth in my favor. I eagerly awaited the upturn.

Here's a lesson for all those, who like me, smugly wait for the wheel of life to sweep us off the pavement and bring us back up to the apex of its next revolution -- it doesn't happen that way, folks! My problem was, I still had not learned my lessons. I was still making the same mistakes, still making the same poor choices, still practicing the same bad habits. I was compounding my own woes, digging my own grave!

"That's why they're called lessons -- because they lessen from day to day!" - Lewis Carroll

And so I'm back. Stronger. Higher. Faster. With much more wisdom tucked under my belt. That's what I believe, anyway. Hey, a person's gotta have somewhere to start, so give me a chance to redeem myself. I've swallowed my ego, bitten the bullet, and now I'm back to being a humble employee. I've still got dreams of launching my business empire, but while I'm working on the foundations, at least I've got regular pay to keep me and my family well fed. I constantly tell myself that I haven't really sold myself out to the enemy, I'm learning from the masters, and my talents are on loan while I go to school.

(music: The Theme From "Rocky")

"Now... 'scuze me while I kiss the sky..." - Jimmy Hendrix