Free Leaf

"Don't gain the world and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver or gold..."

Location: Falls Church, Virginia, United States

I have a lot more questions than answers, but I just keep asking. I constantly want to leave, but somehow manage to stay. I am both perfectly happy and completely miserable because of it. I think I am misunderstood but that could just be a huge misunderstanding, either way I guess the best way to put it is, "I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong."


I Watch Entirely Too Much TV

In all honesty, I don't really feel bad about it but I realize that it is a bit of a problem. I have a show I can watch everyday of the week, which is fine but my Wednesday is now slipping into Thursday and my DVR might malfunction soon from overuse. Last fall there was one show that I watched consistently and all others I pretty much watched if I caught them. But something happened during the Summer that has made me a TV addict. Well, it was two things really, first being the whole TV show on DVD thing, and second being my Digital Video Recorder. Over the summer I got hooked on the OC and Lost by watching all the episodes on DVD, working from home I was able to do this rather quickly and was hooked, so now I have to watch all the episodes as they happen. (Sidenote: I actually liked both shows much better on DVD, I am not sure if that is because I could actually watch them back to back or because this season just isn't that good.) So, the DVD's got me hooked on a few new shows then the DVR allowed me to get into some more that were on when I normally was watching something else, now I'm up to 3 shows at 9pm on Wednesdays.

This is a little long but here is what I am watching, feel free to question my choices or the sheer amount of time I spend with the Idiot Box.

Sunday: I watch Grey's Anatomy and Adult Swim. Grey's is one of the best shows on television and Adult Swim although I don't like there current lineup is still the best place for late night TV.

Monday: The lightest night not on the weekend, I only watch Las Vegas on NBC. Decent show that I got into because I love the real Vegas but the show has not been that good lately. Monday is a pretty weak night for TV though so this show stays in my rotation.

Tuesday: A once really strong serious night is now a really strong comedy night. I started out the season watching Bones and House on Fox, both great shows of the medical mystery drama genre, but since Fox changed its schedule to accommodate Idol and NBC brought back Scrubs I have been watching back to back episodes of Scrubs on Tuesday nights followed by CBS's new show Love Monkey. Not sure if it will make it but the lead character is the same actor who played JDs brother on Scrubs so I figured I would give it a shot, its not bad, but I bet it wont make it, its not for a CBS crowd. All this and soon House returns to Tuesday which means I will have to record and watch that or Scrubs on Wednesdays.

Wednesday: 5 shows, that's right 5. 3 of them at the same time, I had to watch 2 this morning before I went to work. Which is why I think I have a problem, but I am ok with it. At 8 I watch a show I am too embarrassed to list by name, but its about two brothers who play basketball and one of the female leads is a former TRL host. After that I watch Veronica Mars which I am not embarrassed about at all. Then I round out the night with Invasion at 10, that show has really grown on me. But today I had two shows waiting for me on the DVR, Bones(which moved from Tuesdays) and Lost. Lost is not as good as it was on DVD but Bones is really good despite starring the guy who played Angel on Buffy.

Thursday: Only 2 shows to watch and they made my life easy by moving from the same time to 8 and 9 pm. Smallville, the show I have been watching for 5 years, the only show I made it a point to watch all through college is on and doing very well, even if the 100th episode really pissed me off. And of course the OC, as someone who grew up on 90210 twice(I watched it the first time around then again when it went to reruns on FX) I didn't want to give this show a shot until my roommate made me watch the first two seasons. I don't even really like this season but I have to keep watching just because something good might eventually happen and because I think the writers have made Summer into the ideal female. Seriously, she is really smart, but acts like a ditz, very feminine but a little firm, just girly enough to not bother you and be kind of cute about it. Plus she can be silly which is hard for a lot of people.

I don't watch any TV on Friday or Saturday consistently. If I happen to be in on Friday night I will usually avoid TV but I do sometimes watch Numbers on CBS. Does liking 2 shows on CBS mean I am getting old? Please no one answer that. As far as Saturday I don't even know if there is television on Saturdays once the Fall is over, I have never watched anything other than College Football on Saturdays. So that is it, I am done ranting about my addiction.


Sundance Shorts

I was checking out the Sundance film festival site today when I came across two very good shorts. They are worth checking out so give em a shot.

The first is called the Pity Card, and I find it hilarious. Its about a guy who takes a girl on a date to the Holocaust Museum.

The second is called The Tribe, which is kind of funny and informative. It is a history of Barbie and the Jewish people.

You can check out the whole list of films available online here.


Weekend Revelations

Lately the more significant events in my life have occurred on weekends. Obviously, during the work week its hard to accomplish much between doing actual work, getting to the gym, eating 6 times a day and of course watching the absurd number of TV shows I currently enjoy. So, I have made it a point to fully enjoy my weekends, this weekend was pretty packed and made me realize a few things. Here they are in order of occurence:

1. I hate computers:
This is a real problem for me since I work for a computer company. But I have come to the conclusion that nothing stresses me out more than my computer. It could be that I have to be on it 10 hours a day or that 90% of my contacts with the outside world are attained through it but I swear something is always wrong with this machine.

2. I am too old and too normal for Punk shows:
After the incredibly stressful afternoon I had on my laptop I was really looking forward to getting to see a concert. So, shortly after work I headed into DC and met up with a friend before heading to see Less Than Jake. Now, my friend and I might not have been the oldest people there but I would bet that only 10-15% were of legal drinking age. But it wasnt so much that we had out grown the band but rather that the younger fans didnt seem to have the energy and enthusiasm that we did when we younger. The fans definitely took away from the show and the band seemed to give a lackluster performance as well. The final result, as of today I will be more selective when deciding what shows to see in the future.

3. People you used to know really can surprise you:
I don't have a pic for this but I really wish I did. After the concert we decided to go grab a few beers since the night was still young and we were close to a few good bars. While hanging out in the basement of The Big Hunt discussing the interesting art on the walls we were approached by a girl we could not recognize. This gorgeous young lady then after I think realizing that we werent sure if we knew her decided to call both of us out by full name. So, being a little embarrassed but finally pulling together the memory, we struck up a conversation. Turns out the amazing woman in front of us had once been a young girl who dated one of our good friends. I remembered her as a cute, innocent looking girl but now she is very grown up beautiful and seemingly intelligent person. I don't think our friend who dated her saw the potential there but I have certainly learned my lesson, don't burn bridges, you never know how someone from your past is going to turn out.

4. The best place to meet people in DC is the Metro:
Both Friday and Saturday nights required a lot of time on the trains and they always lead to some interesting meetings. On Friday night while riding home by myself I met 5 German au pairs. Hilarious conversations ensued and numbers got exchanged. Then Saturday night my roommates and I ran into the same group of girls(not the German girls) on our way out and our way back in. Which led to more interesting situations. So, if your single goal for going out is to meet people you are wasting your time at the bars. From 2 - 3 AM the Metro is the best place to meet someone, it actually makes a lot of sense, everyone is already a little drunk and the metro is quieter and less crowded than any bar. Plus once you are on it there are no distractions other than people reaching there stop before you are ready to say goodbye.


Snow is still fun

This picture was taken early Sunday morning at the end of a long night. I have no idea who actually took the picture and I horribly edited out the friend that was in it with me since I was not sure she wanted to be represented here.

It was actually about 9 degrees when we left the bar and it was snowing, the drunk fools I was with were making snow angels and throwing snow balls at each other. Nothing is funnier than a bunch of 20 something Florida kids acting out childhood dreams that they never got to have. Most of us have been out of Florida for long enough to have gotten over the snow excitement, but as soon as you get a little alcohol in ya it comes right back. So there I am freezing, hungry and loving it.

The scene last weekend in NY was actually nothing compared to my roommates first winter in the snow. This is what happens when three kids from Florida get together in a DC winter.

Notice we had to use the entire neighborhood worth of snowfall to create our 5' snowman. Albert was a good snowman, he will be missed.


Coming home can make you miserable

Have you ever had a weekend so good that when you return to your normal routine you are just miserable? That is pretty much how my Tuesday is going. I took advantage of MLK day to get out of town and see some friends in Brooklyn. The weekend was certainly amazing, good food, good friends, a tolerable hangover, and only slight travel problems. But more than just having a good time away from home I have realized over the years of visiting in NY that I have really fallen in love with the place. There is just something about it, an energy, an excitement, a pulse that few places can match.

I have been to many places in the country and I have lived or spent extended periods of time in a few but none have excited me. I have been in DC for about a year and a half and there is absolutely nothing that thrills me about it. As a city it doesnt offer anything spectacular to those who could care less about being "On the Hill", here celebrities are crusty old Politicians who are almost all corrupt and pretty boring. Here bars close at 2, the metro closes at 3 and outside of Steak and Egg there is no such thing as late night eats. As someone a few years out of college its not like I need to get wasted every night, I did plenty of that in school, but I am also not ready to give up on enjoying the rest of my twenties. DC and the suburbs around it are great for my married friends, the people who want a home, a dog and kids to take to soccer games. But for those of us not ready to settle in this place kinda sucks. Coming here I thought one of the redeeming qualities would be my interest in politics(Poli Sci major and all) but I really don't want to live in a city dominated by the stuff, I have had a few too many political debates in bars or on late night metro rides. Those are arguments you never win and I think I'd much rather argue Dylan or Springsteen over arguing Hilary or McCain.

But its not just a dislike for DC that I came home to, its the realization that whatever it is I am looking for isnt here. I actually have no idea what I am looking for but I am crossing places off my list that dont have what I want. I guess what I want right now is interaction, I figure sometime later I will have all the time I need to be a hermit. One of these days I hope my desire to continue moving will stop, I would really like to feel home somewhere but having never felt that maybe I wont ever find that place. Maybe it isnt a place, maybe its an idea or a person or many people, who knows? I certainly dont have the answer, but when your favorite book is On The Road and your favorite song is The Wanderer its hard to imagine a life where moving on isnt on the list of things to do. Soon DC will be in my past and I will have somewhere new to explore and enjoy until I realize that I am only happy when I am looking for somewhere else to go.


More randomness

Work has been somewhat busy for me this week so I haven't had as much time as I would like to dedicate to writing or other pursuits I prefer to working. On top of work a friend of mine has recently started posting on a message board that I frequent and his enthusiasm for starting online arguments has been a huge distraction for me. I have been posting on some of these boards for two years and probably dont have a single enemy, in one day EK has plenty. It has been fun to read if nothing else. And of course more distraction for me has come from the return of some great TV shows after the winter hiatus. Its been a big week for my tivo, Las Vegas, House, Scrubs, Lost and Invasion all came back this week, with Smallville and the OC coming back tonight. I'd say I watch too much tv but I work from home, so I have no problem having the tv on while I am working.

Hopefully, I will be able to get back to my most recent interest; connecting the philosophies of the Buddha, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan into one cohesive framework. I know that sounds ridiculous but trust me they all present ideas that can coexist very well and I probably would be further along if the three characters weren't so complicated.


Random thoughts after a random weekend

So the first work week after the new year came and went bringing us back to the weekend. With everyone back in town it seemed natural to get out for a while. However, Friday night came and went and I decided to stay in. I had friends heading out but for some reason I have found myself less willing to go out on Friday nights. I am not sure if it is a religious thing or just a winter thing. May just be a lack of desire but I find myself more and more concerned with observing Shabbat even if I am still not going to services.

So while Friday night was reserved for personal reflection we did get out on Saturday night. It was the last night in town for two of my co-workers. They started IBM with me a year and a half ago and are now being relocated to Huntsville, AL. We headed out to Adams Morgan, checked out Millie and Als, TS Muttlys and Aylum. Of course, I got the recently inevitable question from the bouncer, "hey man, you military?" I hear this way too much now. Its kind of funny because I do work with the Army but I feel like I am letting people down if I just tell them I an IT nerd who works for IBM. The night eventually ended with giant slice, an Adams Morgan tradition. These pizza slices are the size of your head, absolutely, ridiculously huge.

Which leads me to Sunday, love lazy Sundays and not just the awesome short that has spanned the internet. Speaking of which if you liked Chronic of Narnia check The Lonely Island. I spent most of my day recovering, didn't successfully accomplish that until around 4. By then I felt well enough to head to the store and begin cooking. Cooking is another thing I have been doing in much higher frequency lately. Finding new healthy recipes and making some of my moms old favorites has become something I really enjoy. Tonight I went old school, made a huge batch of my Moms Barbecue sauce, Baked Ziti, and a steak and broccoli. The baked ziti should last me all week, its great to have around. Hopefully I can come across some more recipes to add to my rotation. Anyway, back to another week of work.


Ariel Sharon

My greatest concern since I read of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's second stroke was for his health and his family. Say what you will about his flaws, and he did have many, but the man was a force and it is a shame to see such a force taken down like this. Since first hearing of the stroke last night there have been many mixed reports, some saying the PM had already passed but as far as we know he is still fighting although may be severely brain damaged. It is obvious that his political life is over and the prospects of a normally functioning retirement are also most likely gone should he survive. On a personal level I saw my grandfather go through this and live a shell of his own life for the few years after, so this strikes a chord with me and makes me feel terrible for him and his family. My prayers are certainly with them.

With many mixed emotions and concerns I have spent a lot of time looking over the internet and catching updates on television. What I have found has made me very sad for the prospects of peace in Israel and the conscience of some evangelical leaders. Starting with Pat Robertson, that nut job has the nerve to blame anything bad that happens on the people it happens to. G-d does not punish people who are trying desperately for peace by giving land to an impoverished people. G-d does not punish poor people in New Orleans because of what the tourists go there to do. It amazes me that this man is still on television and that people actually still listen to him.

Unfortunately, there was more negativity to be spewed through the media. The President of Iran threw his opinion on the air saying he hopes Sharon dies. Then they go to a nice video feed of children passing out candy in Gaza to celebrate the possible passing of Ariel Sharon. The lovely feed ends in what I assume was a young Palestinian man saying, "He should have had to die painfully." Isn't that sweet. After all these years that Israel has been a modern State in the middle east the old saying is still true: There will only be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews.

What happens next in Israel is now a great unknown but for now my thoughts and prayers remain with Ariel Sharon.


Return to the Routine

For most this week marks a return to normalcy after spending half of December in a holiday daze. For me, its a bit worse, living in DC means pretty much everyone you know is from somewhere else, which means those who choose to stay here for the second half of December are greeted by a ghost town. Making matters worse is when you work for an IT company that prides itself on telecommunication. When I was hired at IBM I was told that my laptop would be my office, nothing has ever been truer. This also means that around holidays nearly the entire young workforce of IBM disappears to wherever it is they came from to spend time with family and get the brief relaxation of working from home.

So, today when I awoke to my roommates leaving the house to go back to their respective offices for the first time in weeks I realized that today truly marked the return to routine. But, not for me, my routine hasn't changed, I haven't returned to my office because I have no office to return to. I am a work from home employee, one who did not go home to visit family over the second half December like everyone else. So, I had no brief change in my daily life, I have nothing to return to. You see, my routine is so tied in with my everyday life that holidays and work can't change it because as much as I would like to try to not let it happen working from home has made work and personal life blur together so much that there is very little difference between Saturday and Wednesday.

Most people would love to work from home, and I was one of those people before I actually started to do it. On occasion working from home allows one great freedom but overall I think it takes away your sanctuary, it is very hard to make a home separate from work when your laptop is always near by. But, the worst part is the ambiguos feelings that working from home gives you. You lack personal contact with co-workers, your only contacts with your superiors are usually done through email or a rare phone call. You may work too much or too little but its hard to tell, because being home makes it so hard to differentiate work from normal life. At the end of the day I try very hard to guess how many hours I have worked and take out the time I spent doing things that did not involve work but it gets less clear everyday. So, here is to the routine, the one we were given the freedom to create for ourselves or the one handed to us. Right now I despise the one I have made for myself and in the future when a routine is forced upon me I will surely long for the days when I was on my own schedule.


A few things

Don't have a lot of time but wanted to put down a couple of thoughts.

1. New Years Eve has to be the most overhyped night of the year. Its ridiculous how much money and effort people put into a night that revolves around a ten second countdown. And its not even like we are sending people into outer space at the end of the countdown. Completely ridiculous.

2. Apparently, the US is concerned about Iran, which is great and I will reserve any judgement until more info is released.

3. It's Gameday. Gators v. Hawkeyes in the Outback opens up a great day of football. The season is almost over and I look forward to enjoy all of the remaining games.

Go Gators!!!!