kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Today, one year ago, was literally one of the worst, most terrifying days days of my life.

If you haven't been "under the gun" for a tornado, or otherwise affected by a major natural disaster, it's hard to explain what the terror islike. You know it's coming, but you don't know how long it will last or how bad it will be. The feeling of absolute helplessness is the worst.You are totally at the mercy of Mother Nature, and whether or not she decides to fuck up your shit is a stroke of the divine. None of yourpreparations matter. All you can do is take cover and pray to God that he spares your life, let alone all your shit.

 
My memory of that day will forever be Sarah and I cowering under blankets in the downstairs bathroom as tornadic cell after tornadic cell passed us by. I had my laptop in the bathroom while we streamed weather. It was so loud in there, with the wind and rain pounding. And when the power went out, we weren't even sure if it was because we were about to die or what.

It would be a few days of no-power before we would finally decide to bail and spend awhile in Nashville before things leveled out in Huntsville.

You can read more of my thoughts and memories of the 2011 Super Outbreak here. In short, the tornado and the aftermath of it was a life-changing few days. The things I thought were so important before suddenly didn't seem so important.

Anyways, it just seemed like an appropriate day to look back.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
It seems like a lifetime ago...

I was working at my first real career type job - a junior programmer for a transit company. All summer I lusted over a 2000 Ford Focus. And, if there was one indispensable soundtrack to that "last summer" before I left for Auburn, it was the Titan A.E. soundtrack. 

It was only 12 years. Why does it feel like a whole different life, and a whole different person?
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
About ten years ago (summer of 2002), while I was working in Yellowstone National Park, I took a lot of time that summer for personal reflection. The the rocks beside the Snake River and the roof of the cabin where I lived became close companions of mine. I took a lot of time to examine where my life was at that time, and there were a lot of things that I didn't like.

Towards the end of the summer, based on my reflections, I started writing a short series of notes to myself. I titled these "Personal Initiatives" and set out what I wanted to change and how I was going to go about doing it.

There were probably 50 or so entries. Some of these were fairly arcane and maybe even silly. Among them:
  1. Get rid of my acne by washing my face twice a day.
  2. Wear contacts any time I'm not at home.
  3. Take better care of my teeth.
  4. Get in better shape.
  5. Pursue financial independence and keep a budget.
  6. Get better grades and get at least a 3.0 from that point out.
After I returned to Auburn that fall, I looked over my Personal Initiatives from time to time. And it occurs to me what a good motivation this was for me. As evidenced, my near term goals in many of my initiatives I achieved within the next 3 years. I never earned less than a 3.0 after that fall. I was financially independent in 2004. I'm in better shape now than I was.

Not only that, but my plans gave me goals. Even the arcane ones ("wash your face every day") gave me little things that I could do to feel like I had accomplished something every day. Not every goal had to be in outer space - I could accomplish 5 things just by walking out the door each morning.

Of course, some of them I completely blew too. There were a lot of entries about future planning that involved me becoming a pilot. Some other entries concern wanting to have a family (not there just yet...). But overall, I would say my success rate for my personal initiatives in 2002 to today is probably close to 75%. 

The reason I'm thinking about this is that I kind of feel a bit like did in the summer of 2002. Lost. Listless. Unsure of what I want in my life but unhappy with where I am. And without a plan. Every day I get up and go to the same job and do the same things I've done for the last five years. Then I go home and do the same thing each night. The cycle usually never varies. Now, to be sure, my life is much better than it was in 2002. I'm married, a homeowner, active in my community. But that seem creeping, nagging unhappiness is still there. 

Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of taking an entire summer off to work and reflect on my life. But I'm seriously thinking that it might be time to write down some more personal initiatives. Having passed 30 now, I can't help but feel that I've entered a new stage of my life and, if I don't want to spend this entire decade listless and unhappy, that I have to begin to plan some things out and set some goals for myself.

Yes. I think it's time for some more Personal Initiatives.

Latitude

Jan. 17th, 2012 04:02 pm
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Fold back the morning and bring on the night
There's an alien moon
That hangs between darkness and light
Latitude, between me and you
You're a straight line of distance
A cold stretch of black across blue
Latitude

It always interests me what memories a song will pull up.

This song is pretty much all about high school for me. I listened to the whole Made in England album a lot while touring Europe with the family in 1998. Continued to listened to it for much of the following year, to the point where I could nearly recite each song. Believe, Made in England, Belfast, Latitude, Lies, Blessed.

I'd love to see Elton John in concert.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
On this day, ten years ago, I created an account on a site called TigreJournals, which was run by a friend of mine. But I needed to test it. So I created a post called "Test" with the content of "The cheese is good today." That post is here.

"The cheese is good today." It was an in-joke that, hell, even people on the site wouldn't get. It goes back to my freshman fall at Auburn, when I was in the Intro to Engineering course. We made heavy use of the WebCT system, and there was a semester long running thread on the WebCT discussion boards about how good cheese was. Being that there were like 100+ people in this class, it got stupid long after awhile. Even the professor got in on the fun. He'd even say things in class like "are we going to actually discuss this, or just talk about cheese."

My blogging experiences actually go back further than that, to Open Diary, where I kept my first few blogs. I wish I could still go access those, but they've long since been purged. Over the years, I've moved. From TigreJournals to LiveJournal and, most recently, to Dreamwidth. But all the data is here. Ten years of crazy life experiences, from a 20 year old college sophomore to a 30 year old married engineer, my blog documents the ride that was my twenties.
kiranlightpaw: (auburn)
When I was still in high school, my Dad took me to Auburn for a football game. I'm thinking this was about 1997 or so. While we were there, we dropped in one of the rooms in Foy Student Union, where cake was being served to celebrate the 80th birthday of Dean James E. Foy. The same guy who's name was on the front of the building.

Then, this frail 80 year old man got up on a chair and lead one of the loudest, most inspired renditions of War Eagle I'd ever heard before or since.

You would be hard pressed to find anyone who was more of an Auburn Man, and anyone who lived the Auburn Creed the way Dean Foy did. Dean of Students for more than a quater century and still actively involved with the University right up until the end.

Dean James Foy passed away Friday afternoon at the age of 93. I can't help but think that, somewhere in heaven, Dean Foy is standing on a chair leading a War Eagle and Jim Fyffe is screaming into a microphone.

RIP Dean Foy and War Eagle!
kiranlightpaw: (oldschool)
In keeping with my "10 years since..." theme this year...

On this day 10 years ago, I loaded almost everything I owned into a hatchback and drove five hours and two states away, to start a new life in a town I had only visited before.

I was living with a guy I knew from my local area, and I had just gotten the car a few days before I left. It was a manual transmission, and I was still learning how to drive it. We left that afternoon because we weren't going to be able to move into the dorms until the following morning, so we decided to leave and stay at a hotel. I remember having real fun trying to master the manual transmission in stop-and-go traffic on the downtown connector in Atlanta. We ended up staying in a hotel in LaGrange, Georgia, for the night and then, first thing the following morning, we drove to Auburn to get checked in. I was so excited!

The following morning, my Dad arrived from Tennessee with a few other items I'd forgotten. We went to Lowes in Opelika and bought a big rug for the room, then went about setting everything up. We also went to Kroger - the one on Dean Rd. - and he nicely bought me my first round of groceries.

And then, he left. And that was the only time I teared up slightly as the enormity of being "on my own" for the first time finally hit me. In order to get my mind off it, I hopped on my bike and biked around campus a bit. To give you an idea of what it was like then:
  • All those fancy new dorms weren't there, and there wasn't even parking in most of that area yet. Where the "Village" dorms are now was the drill field, and there was an old airplane hanger. A section of Wire Rd was a one-way street from just past Donahue to just past Roosevelt.

  • Thach Avenue ran all the way through campus, and you could drive on it all the way too.

  • Where all the parking is at the Western end of campus now was the old Village dorms. I eventually met a few people that lived back in there.
I remember biking for hours all over the campus, just taking it all in. I eventually ended up eating at Milos (where the Chik-Fil-A is now) because the Student Union wasn't open yet.

After all the time and all the dreaming, this was it! I was here!

That night I got my computer hooked up. Remember when I fired up Napster - yup, the good ol' days of Napster - and being massively shocked when an MP3 downloaded in about 10 seconds. I had gone from a "high-speed" ISDN line at home to the University's stupid-fast WAN. Hell, I'm just now getting back to the speeds I could draw when I lived on campus.

I remember that MP3 was "Desert Rose" by Sting, because I had heard it in the car while driving down and made a mental note to download it.

One of my biggest regrets from my years prior to about 2002 or 2003 is that I didn't take nearly enough pictures. I wish I had taken a lot more, frankly, because I love looking at the memories. Here's a handful of shots that I do have from those first few weeks.

Read more... )

It's amazing I can remember everything about that day. The sights, the smells, the sounds. I remember what I was wearing and everything that I did. Hell, it still feels like it just happened, and I have such a hard time realizing that it has really been a decade since that warm summer day.

The next four years would take me places I never thought I'd go, and I'd meet people I never thought I'd meet. I'd go from being a nerdy kid to a mature (well, mostly) functioning adult over that wild period. But, for me, this is where it all started. My first step into the bigger world.

Hoarding

Jun. 28th, 2010 01:51 pm
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
My latest television interest has been the show Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC. Come to think of it, it may be the first show I've watched on TLC since Wonders of the Universe in the mid 90s.

If you haven't watched the show, it's a show about compulsive hoarding, its effects and treatment. In watching the show, you begin to understand that the hoarding itself is not really the problem, but a byproduct of deeper psychological issues - most often obsessive-compulsive disorder. Almost every person on the show exhibits characteristics of various mental illnesses. There was one lady who couldn't handle people even touching anything in her house despite it being so full you could barely walk. She'd break down into tears and panic attacks if you even moved something.

The thing I find interesting is that, on the show, the hoarders are overwhelmingly female. Not trying to sound sexist or anything, but after watching about 10 episodes or so, I can think of 2 cases they've profiled where the hoarder was a male. I'm kinda curious as to why that is - it would be a great study for some academic to undertake.

It also got me to thinking. My grandmother was a hoarder. They didn't have a term for it back then - they just called them pack rats and dismissed it as harmless. I remember as a kid going to her house and there were whole rooms of the house that you couldn't even go in and could barely get the door open. When my grandfather died, my mom moved in with her and spent the next few months cleaning out the house so they could sell it. It wasn't as bad as some of the people on the TV show, but it was definitely bad.

And I know that I have some hoarder tendencies too. Why the fuck have I kept every pay stub from every job I've worked in the last 10 years, for instance? I have no idea, but they're filed away in my records box/filing cabinet. But at the same time, I know I can be like this and I constantly fight against it. Thus the reason we took two truckloads worth of stuff out of the attic and got rid of it. I'm forcing myself to get rid of things I will probably never need again (four parallel cables? really?)

However, one area where I continue to be a digital pack-rat - or computer compulsive hoarder, depending on how you look at it - is in files. I keep pretty much every file I create, and work hard to preserve what I already have. I've written before about going through boxes of floppies to preserve whatever I find on there. I now have gigs and gigs of random data covering 15+ years - papers I wrote in high school and college, old journal entries and stories, etc.

Lots of neat stuff, to be sure, but is it still hoarding even though it doesn't clutter up my physical life? I'm very close to maxing out a 1TB external hard drive with stuff, and if I lost it all tomorrow I'd be pretty fucking distraught.

I probably wouldn't off myself or anything, but it would definitely ruin my week.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
It never fails to amaze me how a song can bring up a memory. In this case, one from a little more than six years ago. Hell, I even blogged about it.

I was on my way to spring break ... my last spring break as a college student. As the story goes...
I got on at the Wire Road exit (#42) and started crusing. For about 15 miles it was great and then we hit traffic. Seems a semi decided now would be a good time to catch fire and block three lanes of traffic, so traffic was coming to a standstill. Only the girl in the Nissan a few cars up didn't notice it and rear-ended a Corolla.

Being the nice guy I am, I stopped over to help. The chick was very, very cute, wearing but a black corset, ribbon around her neck, and a pair of jeans. I wanted to bend her over the car and ... nevermind. But I behaved and comforted her for about an hour and a half while we waited for the State Trooper to get there.
It's funny. I can't believe I didn't post this in the entry, but I still remember peeking in the back window of her busted car, and seeing a copy of Frank Herbert's Dune in the her partially open bag. We spent the time waiting for the State Trooper to get there discussing Dune and other science fiction classics (I myself was working on some Heinlin at the time). Then, once the State Trooper got there, we said goodbye and I got back on the road.

In my blog post about spring break a week later, I dedicated the lyrics to Bowling For Soup's Girl All The Bad Guys Want to her.

I never even got her name. I guess it just wasn't meant to be at the time.

I wonder what ever happened to her...
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
As of today, it has been exactly 10 years since I graduated from high school.

One of the big regrets I have is that I wasn't actively "blogging" at the time, nor did I bother to write much beyond the scraps that I've been able to recover. My LiveJournal only goes back to Christmas of 2001, so I'm missing high school, the "final summer" and that first year and a half of college from my writings. Unfortunately, those very memories are beginning to fade. I really wish I still had some of that early stuff around, to provide more insight into my thought processes at the time.

I do, however, still remember my graduation day. All my family was in town to watch me walk across the stage. I graduated from a huge high school, and there were more than 250 people in my graduating class. But, being one of a number is not necessarily a bad thing.

That night, I went to this "project graduation" thing - basically a big party thrown by the school PTA to give the kids something safe to do instead of drink. Frankly, I'd've rather gone home, talk to Mark, and play on the computer, but my Mom made me go. Still, it wasn't all bad - they had a "casino" set up, where all the games were rigged to always award us, and I won enough free meal coupons at Burger King and McDonalds to give me free meals for the rest of the summer. These would come in handy while I was at TCT.

OMFG TMFI! )

Wow. You know, I really can't believe that's where I was, and that's who I was, ten years ago. It doesn't even seem real anymore. Like that was a different life, and I was a different person.

So what has the intervening 10 years been like?

"A long strange trip" wouldn't even begin to summarize what it's been like - and many of you have been here to witness it with me. Going from being an 18 year old punk kid, away from home for the first time, through all the madness that was my years at Auburn, to my first tentative steps into the real world, to where I find myself now.
"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be."

- Douglas Adams
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
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I normally don't answer these all that often, but this one struck a chord, so let me relate a little story to you.

I was harassed and picked on a lot through middle school. I was a wiry, gangly kid without much mass. Glasses, interested in nerdy things like reading, roleplaying and computers (and, yet, strangely, also in sports ... figure that one out).

Anyways, the school I went to had a "parental responsibility zone" around it, which is schoolspeak for "no bus service if you live within a mile and a half of school." Since we lived just within that radius, every afternoon, my Mom would come and pick me and my sister (who as attending the adjacent Intermediate school) up after school. We'd always wait outside in the common area around the traffic circle, where there was a large brick and concrete sign with the school name on it. I used to love to sit on top of the sign, as it was partially shaded.

One afternoon, I was sitting on the sign waiting for Mom to come pick us up. I was reading, if I remember correctly, and suddenly I felt myself fall forward. Someone - we'll call him Todd, because frankly I don't remember his name all that well, even though he'd been one of the lead bullies taunting me for years - had given me a running push off the sign. I saw him running past as I fell.

As I fell, I gashed the side of my face on the corner of the sign, spilling blood everywhere and leaving a scar I still posses today (to the right of my right eyebrow). And, of course "no one saw it happen" despite there being probably 40-50 other students waiting outside, all within 30 yards of all this.

All I could do is hold the side of my face, covered in blood, and stagger back inside the school to the nurses's office (who thankfully was still there). In an era before cellphones, a teacher had to flag my Mom down outside to get her to come inside and take me to a doctor to have it fixed. I would eventually need stitches (I believe it was five) to close the gash in my face. Left a nasty black eye, too.

Since "no one saw it happen," no punishment was ever meted out. And, with only two weeks left in the school year, there was no real point anyways.

So we start the next year, and he picks up right where he left off. Harassing me. After two weeks of putting up with Todd's shit, we were sitting in science class and he reached for my shirt while the teacher wasn't looking, intending to give it a pull and probably send me over backwards in the chair. At this point, though, I'd had enough of his shit. I'd taken it for two and a half years. Enough.

I turned around, and I beat the motherfucking shit out of him.

Right in class. Right in front of the rest of the class and the teacher (who had to pull me off of him). I dove over the table and landed three punches before being pulled back: one socked his ear, one gave him a black eye, the last one broke his nose. It was like Hitler invading Poland - it happened so fast he didn't have time to react, and didn't land a single punch on me. The whole thing lasted probably 5 seconds, but left him lying on the floor.

The interesting thing, though, is what happened next. I was taken to the principle's office (while he was taken to the nurse). At our school, it was school policy that, no matter how the fight started or ended, or what it involved, both parties had to be punished.

After waiting for about an hour, I received a week of after school detention (3pm - 5pm) ... while he was suspended from school for a week. I suspect my teachers intervened on my behalf because, all that week while I served my detention, some of them would stop by and see me and bring me candy, and the detention monitor "somehow" let me read Arthur C. Clarke instead of a math book (I actually read the first two Rama books in detention that week). When I got home that afternoon, I got what could only be described as the most half-hearted lecture ever from my Dad. I believe his final words were "next time you want to do that, wait until you get off campus."

So what lesson did I learn from all this? That violence is the answer? No.

I never got in another fight in school, mostly because I didn't need to. Todd stayed well away from me for the rest of school, and pretty much everyone else who had been harassing me quit.

The lesson I learned - and it was a positive one - is that you have to look out for yourself and stand up for yourself. No one is going to do it for you. And, the sooner you start doing things like that, the less likely you will need to resort to violence at all.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
This weekend Sarah and I were cleaning out the attic. It's the first time I've truly parted with anything major since moving out of home ten years ago - nothing like going through ten years worth of accumulated junk. I kid you not, we took two pickup truck loads worth of junk out - one went to Technology Recycling, and the other is going to Goodwill.

We also built shelves to hold what was still there - sentimental stuff (a few boxes of college and fraternity stuff, and a box of high school stuff), Christmas decorations and stuff we can't store elsewhere in the house due to lack of space. All in all, a productive weekend.

In one of the bins I came across a stack of CDs. I set them aside and started going through them once the work was done. Unsurprisingly, most of them were audio mix CDs. I never burned a lot of data CDs, but in a time before I had an iPod (or an iPhone now), I used to burn CDs to listen to in the car or in a mobile CD player. And there were four or five mix CDs of various stuff I burned while in college.

Full circle from burning them years ago: I went through each one and created a playlist in iTunes to match the CD.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
And I'd promise you anything for another shot at life
Imperfect boys with their perfect lives
Nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy...
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
You know, I remember when Livejournal was, more or less, the center of my online social life. Almost all my friends were on LJ and posted regularly. Especially in "the fandom," it seemed like it was almost a requirement. It was easy, because it was the only thing I had to keep up with. Hell, even when I'd go to a lab at Auburn, LJ was the first thing I'd hit.

These days, my attention is [not so] equally divided between:
  • LiveJournal

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • A handful of other sites I visit every so often.
Each of these services seems to have their groups of users that don't overlap very much. That is, a lot of people I know on Facebook (which is mostly family and friends "outside the fandom"). Twitter has its own group of people I follow. And then there's LJ, which has always been here. It's just strange how most of these groups don't overlap except peripherally.

It's almost like social networking overload, and I wonder how much more I can subdivide my attention.

Note to self: figure out a way to backup my LJ in case they croak.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
It seems like a lot of people are considering this the end of the decade. Considering that we didn't start with a year zero, it's technically hard to justify considering this the end the decade. Still, as is often the case, popular sentiment wins out over technicalities, so I'll consider it true that we're about to roll the clock off the first decade of the 21st century.

I remember how this decade began: in my parents' old house in Tennessee, with some of my friends. Y2K was the big worry at the time, and I remember my friend Tripper, seconds after the ball dropped, flipped the light switch on and off and pronounced "still works!"

Fuck it went by fast. And, at least for me, I look back and see a decade long, incredibly strange journey. More than any decade in my (admittedly short) life up to this point, this decade changed me. Or maybe it's because, this time, I was conscious of the change and able to more or less independently affect change along its course.

With that in mind, let's look back at what the 2000s have been like:

Kiran's Life: 2000 - 2009 )

So yeah, it's been a pretty crazy decade. One that started as a wide-eyed teen in the mountains of Tennessee and ended as a twentysomething married software engineer in Huntsville. Along the way, earned a high school diploma and college degree, went through 7 jobs, 5 cars, 3 states, countless movies and places to lay my head.

And you know what? There aren't very many things I'd change. It's been a hell of an adventure, and I hope the next 10 are just as crazy.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
The project that began last week - tagging all 1,843 LiveJournal entires I've made since December 2001 - is finally, and at long last, complete. 310 tags now cover that entire time period for easier reference. It was a great voyage through the last nine years of my life, and I find that, each day that goes by, I'm glad I've taken the time to write down over all these years what was going on in my life at that time.

Back in 2004, just before my first MFM, I was musing on music (as I often do) and wrote this:
Did you ever notice how a song that you once hated and couldn't stand you now like?
I followed it up by mentioning a few that came to mind at the time: The Spice Girls - Say You'll Be There and Duncan Sheik - Barely Breathing.

It occurred to me today, as I went shopping for some new clothes to wear (see my previous entry about not having much left to wear), when another such song popped up on my iPhone. At least one song I didn't care for that, in the intervening years, I've come to like: Maroon 5 - Harder to Breathe.

I think at the time I hated it because it was just freaking everywhere at the time. One of my annoyances with the Clearchannel radio world we live in now is that, when a song has the potential to be popular, every radio station everywhere drives it straight into the ground by playing it seemingly every other song. That's what the station(s) in Auburn were doing at the time with this song.

But ... I think that, precisely because it was everywhere during my senior year at Auburn, every time I hear it now, that's what I think about. Which may explain why I like it now.

So what about you guys? Are there songs that you didn't like when they came out but now do?

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