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Attachment is suffering. Desire is Pain. I desire to be left alone. When that desire is thwarted, witness the pain I inflict upon myself.

I open my eyes this morning and find myself alone in bed. The overcast winter morning illuminates the room in a soft dull bluish light. The bedclothes are warm and invite me back to slumber, but several nagging realities wake my reluctant mind: the aching of my full bladder, an uncomfortable tightness in my chest as I had forgotten to take my asthma medication before I went to bed, the gentle whining of the dog in his crate. A thankfulness registers in my mind that it is Sunday and that's my company issued Blackberry has not rung during the night. Still, I do not feel at ease.

I look up at the alarm clock on the headboard. 7:14 AM. I turn my head look to my Blackberry, I pick it up. I press a button and the screen appears. One message and several Facebook alerts. I check the alerts first, barely reading them dismissively. I then check the email. It is just the Siemens Energy and Automation weekly bulletin that I get every Sunday morning. I set the Blackberry back down.

Yesterday, while bringing home the groceries with my wife, the Blackberry went off. It was the ring tone that I had assigned to work and to my co-workers. I told the person on the other line that I would call them back after I had put away the groceries. During the remainder of the trip home and the actual putting away of the groceries, I attempted to suppress the irritation of being disturbed once again on a day off. I rationalized with myself, trying to convince myself that becoming irritated is only going to harm myself and that I will accept what ever which will come next.

Another part of my mind counters, "Damn it, I've got plans tonight! I am going to go to The Penny Road Pub to see half of the band Trouble. I had better not have to go into work."

By the time I got a chance to call him back, I have failed to suppress a bad mood. I call the co-worker back. My co-worker has "done everything that he can think of," to resolve a problem on Line 4 with a safety tab sealer. Think about that the next time you pull the safety seal from your newly purchased product. To my relief, I am able to gain a pretty good educated guess at what his problem is. I calm down, put the matter out of my mind, and set myself to Facebook to see if anyone wants to go with me to the show.

About a week ago I was fired from my band. The main reason that they gave me for letting me know was that during the three years that I had been in the band I was unwilling to compromise on a dire action that they wanted to go song wise. And they were right. I offered no apologies in this, I am really dead set against playing the garbage that passes for heavy metal on today's radio. Yet, my dismissal came as a surprise to me. We all enjoy playing the old school heavy metal, and have been enjoying the beginnings of a real following in the Elgin area.

As I am discussing my future prospects about starting a Kyuss cover band with some acquaintances on Facebook, making plans to go to the show tonight, my cell phone rings again.

Instantly, temper flares as I answer the phone.

"Well," my co-worker begins, defensively, "I did what you told me to do and it did - not - work."

Exasperatedly, I counter, "Well, I don't know what you expect me to do about it..."

"Well, I've been working on one thing after another on this line and I just don't know what to do anymore."

"Look. If you are frustrated and you have been working on the line all day, why don't you let another of the guys take a look with a fresh pair of eyes, then?"

"Okay, Stuart," he ga-rumphs defensively, "bye."

Now I am pissed off. More than pissed off, I also will not know if the issue is resolved until 7:30, when I will get the maintenance log report on my Blackberry. IF my co-worker includes that detail in the report . And IF someone does not call be back before 7:30 to tell me that they have not figured it out and suggest, in some manner, that I come in to work.

So I stay anxious throughout the evening. I am not meeting up with the guys at the show until 11 PM. Of course, the band that I want to see does not go on until 11:30. I am an old fucker. Why cannot bands put on an early matinee, and then play a late show, like Elvis Presley in Las Vegas. If it is good enough for the King, it should be good enough for half of Trouble!

I really want to start a Kyuss cover band. This band Trouble has a fan base which shares a common demographic with Kyuss. I put together a flyer with tear-off tags that has my email on it,


I have been reflexively checking my Blackberry every fifteen minutes or so. Nothing about the issue that the co-worker called about, but around 6 PM, I get copied on a message about an issue on another line that we were having the past Tuesday.

Last Tuesday was my LAST day off, having worked the previous Sunday. This is going to be the arrangement for the near future: every other Sunday I work. The Tuesday following that Sunday I get off, which is a perfect opportunity to return to a yoga class that I enjoy. So, this past Tuesday, while I am enjoying my yoga, my Blackberry is going off repeatedly in my car. The remainder of the day, I spend on the phone with work, on-and-off trying to resolve their issue before coming to the conclusion that the folks who built the machine, in Switzerland are going to have to go online with the machine via Ethernet to figure out what is wrong with it. This also entailed that I had to go to bed at 5 PM so that I can be in at 3 AM to work with the Swiss.

The following Wednesday morning I begin, at 3 AM, to un-do what my co-workers did mistakenly, only to find that I could not reproduce the issue that they had. We got some pointers from the manufacturer's representatives about what to look at, but concluded that until the issue came back, that there was nothing to do.

To tie my hands behind my back, the people who manufacturer the machine refuse to give us a copy of the program, citing intellectual property rights and safety concerns. So even WHEN (not if) the issue returns, I have to rely upon them to go online if we need them diagnose THIS particular issue.

This WHEN turns out to be around 6 PM. I call up my bosses-boss, who sent out the email to all of the management and myself, to explain the issue as just illustrated. He informs me that the issue returned twice in the past shift, but they were able to recover immediately. However, if we were to not be able to recover from it, he wants to know what we would to do?

"I really do not know," I tell him, "I never actually saw the issue. I posted what the representative gave me about the issue, but it really does not have a corrective action for the issue. I wrote down his phone number in Switzerland, and the Ethernet is hooked up to machine, but I doubt that they have someone available to help us on the weekend."

My bosses-boss's kids are caterwauling in the background. It is his weekend with his kids. I try to remember if it is my bosses weekend with his kids as well. I do not have any kids that I have to share in a divorce, so that means that I am fucked. By the default benefit of having no kids to take care of, which would prevent me from going into work, my schedule is shaped by other peoples' decisions to procreate.

My bosses-boss also gets a thrice-a-shift update, every shift, seven days of the week, until he expires of a heart attack or gets fired. Whichever comes first.

"Mike, did you get any work in your report about the tab-sealer on line four?"

"No, nothing. Last I heard, Greg was still working on it and had contacted you."

For the next ninety minutes, I sit watching a documentary about the musician Sixto Rodriguez while I obsess about these two issues. Pushing them out of my mind at this point is an impossibility. Anxiety mounts.

Finally, 7:30 comes and the end-of-shift maintenance report is published. The issue with the problem turned out to be a bad terminal pin in the connector for a pneumatic solenoid. My day was ruined by a bad terminal pin. No, my day was ruined by my own mind, my inability to calm my mind and to let my anxieties run away with my emotions. And now I have this other potential issue handing over my head.

I am in a bad fucking mood. I am continuing to allow the possibility of going into work, to ruin my evening. I cannot go online with the PLC, but still I would have to go in, I obsess, just so that someone is working on it. "When the call comes," I prepare the dialog in my mind, " I will tell them that I cannot come into work tonight, but I can in the morning."

Yet, I am going to get home very late, maybe 1 AM or later and I am going to be tired in the morning. I hate to be tired. I hate even more to be tired and having to go to work. What if I cannot sleep? What if they call me in the middle of the night anyway? Maybe I should just go to bed now and then I will have gotten a good night's sleep in case I do have to go to work? At this pont I would not even be able to enjoy the show tonight. But I have people who are expecting me to meet them at the show! And what about my aspirations to start the cover band and the opportunity to put up my flyer and to network with people who might want to start the band with me? FUCK!

By 8 PM I have made myself sick with anxiety. I really do not want to go out now. My wife and I have not even had dinner yet. We agree on a sushi joint with a takeout menu and I agree to pick up the food. I take her car which has no windshield washer fluid so I stop at Wal-Mart for some. After filling up her reservoir, I cannot get her car's hood to latch. It must be frozen!

This is the last goddamn straw! I try to maintain my cool, to hold in the rage. I drive to the takeout place and after picking up the foo, fail to latch the hood once more. This time I loose it. I am sure, that someone in the dark cold parking lot was like, "Oh, man! Look at that dude flipping the fuck out!"

I get home and tell my wife of the issue. We try to spray some WD-40 on it to loosen it up, but the latch remains frozen. We agree that maybe it will loosen up in the daylight tomorrow morning. Inside, I inhale my dinner without tasting it. I then log on to Facebook and apologizing to my acquaintances, I bail on them.

I took a hot shower before I went to bed last night and I tried to calm down. I felt ashamed for bailing on these guys, and on myself. When I crawled into bed, in the warm blankets and in the darkness, I breathed my self to sleep with a fading prayer that my phone would not ring, that I could escape the torments of my own emotions in the forgetfulness of slumber, if just for another night.

I have a routine of listening to podcasts during any mealtime, so that I'm constantly immersed in a flow of new ideas. I can chow down on information while refueling my body. Howstuffworks.com publishes several podcasts that explain, of course, how stuff works and feeds my appetite for knowledge. SALT / Seminars About Long-term Thinking from longnow.org flavors my outlook with a longer term perspective. Cspan's BookTV / After Words is usually too political for my tastes but still makes it to my list whenever they manage to teach me something about a system in the world that I haven't heard about. Skeptics Guide to the Universe has a quiz that I always look forwards to. Radiolab has taken storytelling and science reporting to a new level. It's like listening to a radio drama from the golden age of radio, but in MP3 format and about science stories. New York Academy of Sciences is full of interviews with compelling stories about research, and they've just started a series on the Seven Deadly Sins.

Recently, a SALT podcast from a few years back gave a history of fusion power and its somewhat tarnished history. Sure, we won't be seeing palladium-based cold fusion reactors anytime soon, but there is enough interest and funding to fuel legitimate research. The newest approach is inertial confinement, where fusible hydrogen isotopes are held in a tiny pellet and hit with focusing laser beams. When the lasers hit the outside of the pellet, the outer layer heats up and implodes towards the center. The high temperature and pressure are enough to replicate the conditions found in stars, and coax some of the nuclei towards fusion.

So where is the inertia in this inertial confinement system? It's because the pellet is sitting there. It has inertia. The gas doesn't move anywhere until something acts upon it, like, say, hugely powerful laser beams.

And then its time for bed. All of this is sitting somewhere in the inbox of my brain before I fall asleep.

I dream.

Someone is showing me a hair clipper. They aren't speaking, they're just holding out this hair clipper that they want me to use.

“Here, trim your hair.” They seem to broadcast towards me from nowhere.

“How? This thing doesn't look like the one I'm used to.”

“Just turn it on.”

“OK. But how are the blades going to shear if they aren't attached to anything? Won't they just flop around in space and drift apart?”

I'm trying to point out the weird configuration of the blades at the end of the trimmer. A normal hair trimmer would have two serrated blades, one fixed to the handle and the other shearing back and forth to trim hairs. This one has two blades, but they're arranged differently than what I'm used to seeing. Instead of having one blade firmly attached to the handle, it's on a rubbery extension that pushes out into space. It can move back and forth, like the cap on a springy door-stop or the tip of a fishing rod. The other blade is on another metal rod and attached to the vibrating mechanism in the handle.

“Here. Turn it on. It works.” They suggest again.


I turn on the hair trimmer, and it seem to work. Since one blade is on a rubbery extension, its inertia keeps it in place relatively still while the other blade reciprocates next to it. The flexible extension prevents the blades from being pressed too hardly into the skin.

I wake up.

What was that all about? It takes a while, but later in the day I imagine that the ideas from the fusion experiments had found their way into a new design for a hair trimmer. I guess this is the meaning I can take from the dream, or that I need to shave.

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