Category Archives: Muse Vessel

A place to keep my muse.

An Early Fall Evening Walk

I heard reports of snow as far south as Denver. Fall is creeping down from the Great White North, but here in Texas Summer still weakly grasps for the Earth, holding ground against the inevitable season. Some mornings it gently rains, some afternoons the temperature climbs to 90°. Today we experienced both.

The sun seems closer in the Southwest. It lazily crossed the clearing sky, determined to dry the lawns and buildings and sidewalks and streets, sending so much moisture airborne. A breeze would make it pleasant, but all day the air was still. The late evening atmosphere sticks in your hair and precipitates on your cheeks, closing around like a womb.

Through the morning’s vaporized rains, with the sun just below the horizon, Adrienne and I set out for a walk. Dusk was quickly deepening into night, bringing yet perceptible relief from the surroundings. We strolled the neighborhood softly rapt with one another and conversation.

Our course led us by a low area where the rainwater runs out of a small wood into a gutter under the sidewalk. The year-round water makes habitat for papyrus sedge and passion flowers and amphibians that splash in the pool when you approach too noisily. As we passed Adirenne stopped.

“Sweetie, look!”

I broke my search for frogs and brought my gaze up to see. At first there was nothing but low shrubs against a background of trees. Standing still as the air around us I waited. Then I caught a wink of low yellow light in the middle distance. “Fireflies.”, she whispered.

Against the dark background of the forest the insects were impossible to see until they revealed their presence with a brief luminescent glow. Within moments dozens of rising lanterns winked in the night. Silently they droned in the moist air, oblivious to the two spectators their mating signals also attracted. I watched quietly waiting for one to silhoutte against the sky close enough to catch.

Spying one, I carefully reached for it drawing my closed fist between us. She bent close to look, but my open palm revealed nothing. For the first time in long minutes, I looked at her.

She stood perfectly still except for eyes that darted over the glen, sparkling with each firefly. A big gap-toothed smile brightened the whole of her face. In that instant the natural beauty around me seemed a reflection of the look on Adrienne’s face. The moment lengthened and I would have liked to stay in it forever.

We lingered at our private fireworks show a while longer not wanting to leave. It seems the longer you stand still, the closer responsibilities of the day press against your mind. Nudged forward, we clasped hands once again and resumed our walk. Looking back towards the creek, Adie proclaimed “Best night ever!”

An Important Distinction

I was listening to a Motley Fool podcast yesterday where one of the commentators made a quippy remark that really resonated with me. To paraphrase:

It is important to recognize when you are smart and when you are lucky.

I feel as though I’ve led a charmed life. A loving wife, great family, interesting friends, fulfilling hobbies and the piece of mind to take life’s challenges in stride. Some of those things are because, I like to think, of my intelligence and some are fruitful happenstance. Some things are a combination and I’ll wager that Adie was smart while I was lucky when we started dating.

The obvious question is how do you differentiate? Perhaps a good way is to honestly and objectively analyze situations. One thing to accept is that it is not something that I can do by myself.

Being smart enables you to spot and seize advantageous situations – something like making your own luck. To follow the reasoning a little further seems to indicate that there is no such thing as luck. Good things come down to your ability to see imbalances and use them. Why should I care if events in my life are a result of good preparation or alignment of the stars? Does luck exist?

There are many things out of my control from acts of Nature to being born. Even though they are out of my hands some of these things I can predict and prepare for. It is the unpredictable, uncontrollable events comprise my luck.

A final point: why do I need to learn this lesson? Between making smart decisions and being lucky, one is repeatable and one always runs out.

Two Principles

Recently I struck upon two principles that, I hope, will guide my decisions.

Nothing in life is maintenance-free.

Seems simple. However it is also simple to settle into routine and take things for granted. My car needs periodic work, as does my house and health, but less obvious to me are relationships and knowledge base. The maintenance may be easy and infrequent but I must keep it in mind perhaps and even schedule it like three-month oil changes.

Being average is mindless and above-average is easy. Becoming good takes hard work.

I can get by most of the time with doing something and not thinking about it too much. I am an average yard-mower because I just walk back and forth across the lawn and that does the job in a reasonable amount of time. My health, on the other hand, is above average because I put effort into exercising and eating better than most. I am good at my job because I’ve been in the industry for a decade, read in depth, and dedicated much time to improving myself.

So what?

My goal is to evaluate my activities with these principles in mind. It now becomes important to identify the things I need to do to maintain my life and put time into keeping up the things I want. Adrienne and I have a shining relationship, but we had not discovered how we polish it until recently. I will also decide what level of effort I want to exert on these activities. It is okay for me to be an average lawn-mower and have above-average health. In the end, I would like to be good at my life, which takes effort, planning and deep introspection.

It’s My Birthday

My thirty-third birthday approaches, arriving on the 22nd of October. I always get thoughtful presents from family and friends, but this year I have a specific request. Instead of buying me something, please make a donation to one of my favorite charities in the amount you would normally spend on a present.

If you would like to wish me a happy birthday I will throw a little party on the 25th. If you can’t make it personally please send me a card at my new address:

2001 Cobblestone Ln
Bryan, TX 77807

I know spending money is sometimes hard to come by, especially in these uncertain financial times. Apart from missing family and friends my life is going well, so I would like to do something for the greater good. Please help me out.


Closed the Deal

This post is just an update for regular readers (if anyone is subscribed to my RSS feed). We closed the contract on the house three days ago. Our apartment is partially packed and I am moving boxes to the house this week. On Sunday we will get friends together to move the heavy furniture, making that evening our first night there. Adrienne and I are quite excited.

A peek at the new house

I am excited to announce that we put in an offer on a house in Bryan, not far from A & M. Built in 1994, measuring 1762 feet square with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths. The sale listing says the style is “traditional”, which is probably the best someone could come up with.

The general and termite inspectors came out yesterday to do their thing. I followed the general guy around while Adie took pictures. Cobblestone Lane is a short road, ending in a cul-de-sac with the house nearly centered at the end. The lot is irregularly sized, something of an hexagon, about a quarter acre. Approaching, you see this panorama.

Click for larger images.

On the left is a wood-trimmed drainage gully that could be mistaken for a stream with the accenting bridge. The yard is wooded with mature trees shading the house in the evening. The entryway is cute, I hope the owners take the statue when they go.

The front door opens to the living room with a substantial built-in bookshelf on the left. The fireplace is gas.

To the left is the dining room and kitchen, delimited where carpet ends and new tile begins.

The kitchen is adequate with an electric range (bleh) and decent counter and cabinet space. It looks original leaving room to bring it up to modern standards.

The dining room has these great windows looking through the sun room, out to the back yard. There I am with the inspector having a look at the slab foundation. The sun room is a strange addition, but will be nice for growing tropical plants.

Off the kitchen is the two-car garage. In there are laundry hookups, access to the attic, the water heater and breaker box. Through the dining room is the master bed and bath. The master, like the other three bedrooms, is modest, but sufficient in size. The bathroom has a double sink and twin closets.

The remaining three rooms (front to back: library, office, guest bed) are opposite the living room, making for a nice split-layout. They are all modest in size.

The best thing about the place is the back yard. The lot backs up to a heavily wooded drainage area meaning and it is our understanding that there will be no development in that area. The landscaping is subdued and slightly neglected, yet remains charming. Fountains and small ponds dot the back yard, but all are in need of some work. The deck was probably built with the house and needs replacing. It is still functional however, so we can tolerate it while saving up to build a new one. The back yard is east-facing meaning the house shades it in the evenings, making it a great place to sip iced tea after work.

South-side yard:

North-side yard. Behind the camera is another large shed. The AC unit you see here will probably need replacing while we own the home, making it the first thing we will save for.

We are excited about the place. Neither inspector found anything alarming, and the general inspector gave it a “good shape for its age” rating. If escrow and financing go according to plan our new address will be:

2001 Cobblestone Ln
Bryan, TX 77807

More updates as they happen.



That is the view out the fifth-floor men’s room window at the Varisco building where I rent an office. The picture does not show it well, but there is a scar of graffiti clearly visible in the middle distance. See here?
That little f’you is near about three stories up in an alleyway. I doubt people on the ground would notice it if they walked down the alley. In addition to making a poor location choice, this “artist” picked just about the lamest, most generic phrase in the vandalism handbook. Amateurs!

It takes a good deal of restraint to keep myself from climbing up on the opposite roof of the Dollar General, spray can in hand, to vandalize my own pointedly witty retort. Here is my cathartic e-tort. Fuck you, too!

Beer & Philosophy

A professor stood before Philosophy 101 with some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. As before, the sand filled up the remaining space. He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous yes.

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and proceeded to pour them into the jar effectively filling the space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the Important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children, your friends, your favorite passions – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

“The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car.

“The sand is everything else — the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Take time to get medical check ups. Take your partner out dancing. Play another 18. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal.”

“Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.”