Sunday, February 18, 2018

Hollow Pursuits

2018 Give  Way!

When the city bleeds, there is a blue moon.
Super Blue Blood Moon
Adler's Front Porch
January 31, 2018

Press On (CB Ultra Remix) by Mandissa
One step in front of the other...

Thought Melody 41263.4. This was originally the actual title for this blog. That changed over the course of the month though, and it became Hollow Pursuits. February has never been my favorite month. Last month, I talked about an "emerald tree" conversion in my life and it's my hope this year that this will be the change I need. One step in front of the other. No looking back, no looking back. As I wrote about last month, I have struggled with my life with acceptance, fitting in and holding onto that. Is God teaching me something here in Chicago? What is my real purpose here? What lies ahead? Where do I start? This year has not started off favorably and I'm trying to keep positive. I'm seeing a therapist now twice a week; the sessions have helped some, but there still really is no comfort or "release" inside from all the anguish and disappointment. Anxiety still thrives somewhat and, yet, confidence is slowly coming back, I'm still filled with despair. Thought Melody?

"You do understand, don't you, that thought is the basis of all reality. The energy of thought, to put in your terms, is very powerful." Where no man has gone before. Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Traveler has come. I need to harness the power of my thoughts. It's not been an easy process and clearly I need God's help! I just don't understand myself! With the things He's shown me (miracles), like my Chicago Day 1973, November 15, and all the things here about Chicago, why do I doubt Him? It's interesting to note because this weekend, I put "Moses" in to watch on my TV this month. The people of Israel witnessed the fullest of God's miracles, but they repeatedly doubted Him and failed to rely on Him. They wanted to go back to Egypt after they crossed the Red Sea. That's my life! What must I do to change this "route." 2017 The Destination is There, but that destination was not taking me back to slavery to sin and doubt! The anxiety reigns in me. Clearly as I've written before, "that means a spiritual problem" and with faith. I can't tell you how overcome with hopelessness I have now. Return to the basic of life. I find myself just spending weekends alone and breathing. "When you feel life is out of focus, always return to basic of life: Breathing. No breath, no life." Mr. Miyagi, Karate Kid.

Float On by Modest Mouse
Bad news comes, don't you worry even when it lands

Good news will work it way to all them plans. Don't worry, even if things get heavy. Skip, Leap, Repeat! It's February again, and it's that February thingamajig again. Skip, leap, repeat! The last one in. I'm a wallflower, a forgotten puzzle piece in a complex puzzle. I just don't seem to fit in anywhere. I'm the last one in wherever I go. This has been a problem. Chicago has been that trend in my life. Everywhere I've gone, I am last in. Why is this a problem? Well, the groups before me are already closely knit and everyone knows each other, the jokes, the affinity of each other and so on. I never go with a crowd or a clique, so that creates my problem. Skip? Well simply put Feburary has Valentine's Day, a day in which I just skip mentally! Leap? Well, not this year so February will be shorter luckily. Repeat? Groundhog day. One year I chose this day at work to reboot forgotten servers which I dubbed "Reboot Your Server Day." If you can reboot a day, then you can reboot a server.

Damage then repair and healing! It's Emerald Tree!
Indiana Caverns
Corydon IN
July 18, 2013

Don't Stop Believin' by Journey
Keep on, keeping on.

Damage then repair and healing. It's Emerald Tree. I need this transformation now! Is anyone actually reading this? I highly even doubt it. Does anyone care about the words? No. So, it only matters to me I guess. Do people even like the photography I put in my blogs? I'll put it another way. I've seen some really shitty pictures in my life that get a lot of attention. So, it's I that is the problem. Writing and photography has always been self-expression for me. It's the only way I find some kind of release. Lately, I haven't felt like doing either. Even now, I'm forcing myself to do things I generally enjoy doing. Again, weekends are filled with dysania and overall "emptiness." I'm really facing a crisis now. I hurt internally.

"Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues."

I'm going to come out and say this here --- now, and I think I'm entitled to say it. I am definitely underrated!!! I see it.

Hollow Pursuits. Let me explain this with an episode of TNG. So why did I choose Hollow Pursuits as this month's blog title? Well, for one, I've put Star Trek: The Next Generation back in my Netflix queue this month and the last episode I watched was "Hollow Pursuits." Two, I look at how OVERrated several people's lives really are and they don't need to be. So keeping with "balance" theme of my life, this ties in with the "snubbed" 2018 goal. I watch my photography, career and life go unseen and unnoticed all too often! I see where the attention goes and you wonder why. You look at the overratedness (yes, I made it a word) of individuals, and it's a shit show! Nothing meaningful in their life -- or in my case photography -- but, yet, they get all the praise and attention. Is it truly deserved? So, why am I underrated in my life or in my work? Why don't I stand out? Why am I found in a corner or not in plain sight? Why? Well I know of some instances why. I keep to myself and don't get involved with crowds and groups. I don't like attention, and I hate cliques. Even going to my desk at work, I don't want people to notice me! So, maybe that needs to change. I used TNG episode Hollow Pursuits to describe this. I relate 100% to Barclay! Put this into a humorous perspective if you will. I feel like Bill MacNeil many times in my life...

"Bill MacNeil is adequate." Dave, reading a review of WNYX.
"It's not fair. The station is a reliable workhorse--but I am nearly adequate?!?"
Bill outraged even though the station was deemed adequate as well by that statement.

Back to the point of the blog and the TNG episode behind it. Basically, the episode shows a timid and shy Lieutenant Reginald Barclay that suffers with xenophobia. Due to his uneasy anti-social behavior, he retreats from his agoraphobic situations to his own world of fantasy. He escapes the perils of reality, and its dealings into the fantasy of the holodeck. This episode hit me on a personal level. I see myself as Lt. "Broccoli" many times and, though, I don't have a holodeck, I have had "seclusive tendencies," like staying home, withdrawing myself from crowds of people, work seclusively. What really struck me were his cohorts (the Enterprise crew). Immediately, without getting to really know the guy, they label him in a negative manner, even dismissing him as a failure they wanted no part of, and even having him transferred off the Enterprise. This is where Captain Picard steps in and denies the request. He was my only ally in this episode, and Barclay's only advocate thankfully (also Guinan). That's the part that hurt. No one took the time to look deep enough into his behavior. Sure, everyone had a job to do and there is no time for that sort of thing, but if you are going to work with the guy, maybe take some time to get to know the guy. Maybe that's all we need. I think a lot of us struggle with being a Lt. "Broccoli" many times in our life. Acceptance. We want people to accept us for who we are. We strive to get noticed in life. Many times, as in the case with Barclay, he felt he couldn't and therefore retreated to the holodeck where he knew he would be accepted. In the episode, the crew sees Barclay as insubordinate for being late and not performing his duties; what really was bothering him. 

Stay on Track! The Brown Line is out there!
Chicago Loop, Chicago IL
March 23, 2017

Luton Airport by Cats UK
CJ! Oooowe ooooo Luton Airport!

I was angry with the Enterprise crew for how they handled Barclay in this episode, mostly with Wesley Crusher. Why? Because many times in life, that's me. I'm "Broccoli." The part that made me the most angry in this episode was the Engineering "stand up" meeting. This hit me on a deep level. If there is one thing I despise the most, it's people that crave the center of attention. What's even more despising are those that egg it on! While that may not be the case here at the meeting with Wesley Crusher, it got me thinking about it more after La Forge states, "Ensign Crusher will putting in some hours with us this week as part of his training duties, so I'll be assigning him to assist you, Mister Myers. Be sure and teach him the difference between impulse and warp drive, please." With the team's snickering, note Barclay! He had no effing clue what that meant! And, what's even more noteworthy of this episode is Barclay was LAST IN! Yeah, he was late to the stand up, but no, I mean, he was "last in" on the team. I noticed how the group dynamic was already well established without Barclay based on La Forge's comment about Crusher's misguided ineptness in warp drive and impulse technology. Barclay, being new on the team, had no idea what that meant! Once again, I related to this heavily. I don't know why the writers decided to put that part into the script, but I took note of it and related to it immediately! Was Barclay supposed to stop the meeting and question Crusher's ability to work in engineering based upon the comment? Did it improve Barclay's feeling for inclusion and acceptance? No, once again, following this scene, he retreats to his fantasy in the holodeck to escape it all. Granted, Crusher might've been a "wunderkind" but Barclay was also just as equally bright and intelligent! The other thing that bothered me in this episode was Troi. She did not feel Barclay's lust for her or sense his fantasies of her? It's like she herself tuned out Barclay and would not open up truly! Again, did the writers do that on purpose? Or was it a goof? I'd like to see this as a lesson! Even those who claim to be empathetic can be a problem if they truly don't truly open up (or in this case want to understand someone). Unfortunately, I see this as Troi turning off and suppressing her empathetic abilities for Barclay and his deep cry for help! Sad. Even I could see what Troi refused to see.

Eventually his shipmates understand him and make an honest effort to make him part of the team and accept him for who he was, even after they surprise and catch him in his holodeck fantasy. This is clearly demonstrated at the end when the Enterprise is faced with destruction due to the matter, anti-matter injectors being jammed. In that instance, even La Forge doesn't know how to fix this as the ship steadily accelerates to a destructive speed. This is where I like Barclay the most. In that crisis, he shines and comes through with help from La Forge. He helps identify the problem. You see, Barclay is not a dumb fool. Actually, it's quite the opposite. He bright, intelligent and efficient. All he needed was confidence. Confidence doesn't just come from within. You begin to see it form in a crisis. Barclay was focused on the problem! And, with the help from his shipmates especially with them working together with him in the problem, Barclay discovered his confidence and assertiveness! Sometimes, it just takes focus, confidence, and help from your shipmates to get back on track. "Glad you were with us out here in the real world today, Mr. Barclay." The veil of Barclay's incompetency came off in that instant.

Chicago Riverwalk
The Loop, Chicago IL
January 5, 2018

Eighth Wonder by White Heart
I look into the mirror, have this silent fear...

Barclay and La Forge become good friends after this point and one place I really enjoyed watching the two of them in action once again was Star Trek: First Contact when they both were helping restore Cochrane's warp ship after it was attacked. Barclay even gets to shake "the Man's" hand, the father of warp drive technology. It is my hope this year to become a Barclay not a Broccoli. I've lived most of my life as a Lieutenant "Broccoli." In jobs, in friendships, and social circles. I'm always "last in" to groups, or social circles that are previously well established. A lot of times in life, I learn about people too late. If there is one lesson learned here. Some people are just not worth the spit I masticate with. That has been my folly here in Chicago the past couple new years. Most of the time, it turns out that politics become the wedge. I fall right down the middle with my political views, but if there is one thing I've learned in this big BLUE city here, people whine and complain a lot if no one adheres to their political views. I can't stand it! Do I accept the whining and complaining? That's been a trend here in this place! This last "fall off" last month says NO! In the end, the extreme political views of a supposed friend "gunned down" a couple friends of mine. I'm middle of the road. I've always tried to keep a balance in my life. I try to be a fulcrum in these situations, but these extreme politics here aggravate me the most! I'll say again. I'm magenta! I'm middle of the road in my political views!

Key to our Survival by White Heart
Turn back the page, to a glorious time!

I've been talking to a counselor this month, which is helping me somewhat. Sometimes we just need someone to listen. I'm usually a listener, but who listens to the listener? Since last January, I've been deeply depressed. The counselor confirmed this even, so it was not just me making it up. I have had no desire to do anything; photography, blogging or getting out on the weekends. It's been really rough. I did manage to force myself to clean my apartment last month and I have one room left in my apartment to "tidy" up. That would be my office.

2018 Goal: "Snubbed? Brushed off? Meekly stand out." Endeavor to find deep meaningful relationships, and people worth your time and effort. If it means eliminating a lot of people from your life, do it. This one ties in with "Identity Rescue." I've already taken measure to keeping those loved ones in my life but letting the other "clutter" go. Thanks Karen Sobolewski ... again!

Who am I? I'm trying to make the best of who I am. I've gone the extra mile these past couple months with my employment benefits to include seeing a licensed therapist. Let it all out! Yeah. I tend to bottle up my problems and I'm learning that it's not healthy and, with some encouragement from a friend and my manager even, I'm now seeing a counselor twice a week! Actually, this month, I went back to an old derelict of a Facebook profile and have redressed it for photography. Now going under the pseudonym, Rick Roberts specifically for photography (sorry, Mom), my goal is move away from the social aspect of Facebook altogether and use the redressed FB profile for photography. I intend to keep my blogging, Instagram and website going. The redressed FB profile will be used for photographers and possible clients. Identity Rescue? Well yeah sort of. This goal seems to tie in with the "snubbed" goal and it will probably tie in with the "twinkling of a shutter" goal. I'm going to make a bold, irrefutable observation here. I watch others and learn what overrated is. I see how I'm treated and I learn what underrated is. It's not fair. I've always been one about balance. 2018 Give Way! That needs to change! That ties in with my photography mainly, but also in personal life.

Magic Sarsen Stones
Avebury, Wiltshire UK
October 12, 2017

Wake Me Up by AVICII
Find meaning in people.

Song title actions? What's the deal? Is anyone really paying attention to the "song titles" that section off the blog each month? Do you hum the tune, go to YouTube to play it? They carry some meaning into what I'm writing and the Journey I take in the course I take in my life. I started this tradition in my blogs last year because of a nuance at work and work meetings. One of our head managers suggested making meeting invites using song titles, titles that would reflect the importance of the meeting lol. My first one was "To Serenade A Rainbow" because it dealt with Azure and Microsoft Cloud Technology! So, I've been trying to keep the VelocityEHS IT theme by sub-sectioning my blog with song titles that tie in with the text.

The one thing that "woke me up" this month is the value and TIME I am putting into wasted  relationships. It's effortless. It's wasting my time. It happened last month; it's repeating itself again THIS month. 2018 Give Way! Another subset of the VelocityEHS company goals is "make meaningful relationships." I actually made that a personal goal this year but I do have my company to thank for the enlightenment here! More of that later in this blog (about wasting effortless time in a debate), but I had a nice talk with my friend Rich this month after some recent events and my "dark night" last month. He told me when people go on about something and they think their view is the "correct" one, don't egg them on and feed their ego debating it. Let their ego deflate over time and you might win them back later when they come to their senses. Actually, I never thought of it that way, but usually when I'm going back and forth on something, I do watch the other side. When they get inflated with themselves, I diverge and fall silent (on deaf ears). I told Rich unfortunately that they might see that as they are "winning the conversation;" however, he said if they're human, they might come back to you and ask what they did wrong, thereby winning them over. He also said, "you're only wasting your time when you fuel the fire for their ego. You're not gonna get that wasted time back, and you're not going to win! Let them have the last word. As much as you want to get your two cents in, let it go." Made so much sense! Smart man!

Someone told me this month, "I read people all day," like they're a fucking expert or something. I dropped the conversation after that inference; this was a reference to my "dark night" and "need for attention" last month. That person was not there that night! They weren't inside my head. Again, more of that later in the blog. Rich just affirmed what I already must've know deep down about fueling an ego and not winning the debate. That's not me, nor is it Rich. I told Rich that is no accident we found each other in life as kids and have grown up together. It will be so fun to see him next month when I visit my Mom for her birthday AND for Shutterfest, which we've also talked about doing this year in St. Louis for April. It's no mistake our families have been linked together before we were a gleam in our fathers' eyes and when he introduced me to the Lord in 1992.

Rocking the Shamrock with VelocityEHS IT
Shamrock Club
River North, Chicago IL
October 11, 2016

A Cleveland friendship forms in Chicago. The Luton Airport section is a "tip of the hat" and homage to my friend Chris Johnson for being a great help to me when things turned sour for me last month in January. His hometown is Luton UK. He was also responsible for helping me plan my 2017 Destination England trip last October. I often find it hard to find the friendships with meaning like the ones I still have today in Cleveland. Well, I'm happy to say that although Chris is from Luton UK, we both live in Chicago, I found our friendship in the heart of Cleveland OH. This is saying a lot! I still have several friendships. Chris and I met at IPsoft when I was hired there in January 2015. We developed a friendship right away on 2nd shift! To some misfortune, he left the company shortly thereafter but that didn't end our friendship. We maintained a friendship and that extended into my employment to VelocityEHS where he helped me get in with him there. That happened late 2016. I say the friendship was found in Cleveland because, for one, the friendships that I've made here don't last. If Chicago has taught me one thing is people in Chicago whine and complain. Although the city is built on resilience, I've had the misfortune of meeting people that whine and complain in their politics. The last straw with this was January and it made me think about finding meaningful relationships here in this blue city. I'll say it one more time! I'm MAGENTA!!!! I root for the Cleveland Indians! I don't want to hear you whine and complain about your politics and your sports' teams. If I'm going to form a real meaningful relationship, it will not include those two things! So, if you really want to get to know me, put your political views and your sports' interests away! I don't care and I will be sick if you force that crap on me! Chris has been a real good friend. We're both INFJs something I learned recently. Maybe that's why we're friends, and having such a rare personality type.

2018 Goal: "Identity Rescue." With Identity Theft this year, this involves many things. Stop being in crowds of people that make you alone. Not only does this reflect on my own identity theft in October, but also with who I am as a person and the 2017 goal about resilience. Thanks fellow INFJs, Chris Johnson and Tim Fargo! 

2018 Give Way! Shalom! Israel! This year I might plan a trip to ISRAEL! I picked Israel simply because this year, one, I want to experience the DIVINITY OF GOD, not some alien force! What a good way to walk in the footsteps of the Lord but with an Israel trip. So, here's hoping I have some money in my budget for this! Last December, I composed a YouTube Video of my photos in 2017, including . I've been on a photg hiatus lately, and I hope that I can get my motivation back to get out and take photos. It might just because it's cold outside. In March, I've already marked PTO to go see my Mom for her birthday. Also, in April I want to mark off time to go to Shutterfest with my friend, Rich. 43 days away as of now, composing this blog. After those events, then I'll know more about going to Israel this year. I'm still paying off some of my trip last fall to England.

My photos in the year...
2017 The Destination is There
Final Destination

2018 Goal: "We are VelocityEHS." This goal covers job success, health and vitality. It's a subset of my career goals with VelocityEHS. My company has very humanistic goals, the only company I've worked with that has goals that make sense as a human being and common sense, not just for a company but in everyday life! "Be humble" and "Choose simple" are two I'm pulling out of there to focus on the most. Thanks VelocityEHS!

I'm not Satisfied by Fine Young Cannibals
Trying to make my mark. We are VelocityEHS.

2018 Give Way! We are VelocityEHS! I picked this goal because the work values our company has in their mission statement speak to the very human existence. Goals like "choose simple," "be humble," "form meaningful relationships," etc. They all actually tie in with my 2018 goals. I picked out "choose simple" and "be humble" as my two company goals to focus on. Work projects and reviews. I had my yearly review this month and I was overjoyed to see how I've been doing over all. I honestly didn't go in there with any expectations, other than a performance review. I was happy to hear that I was exceeding in spots and that I have a new manager as well. It was happy to hear that two people got promoted on our team. One is my new manager. So, it was well-deserved. Both actually. When it came down to mission goals, I really like our company goals. They're goals that you would (or should) strive for in everyday human life. If I were to sum up February work, it would be in in this: "There's nothing worse than a bleeding PowerShell session." On top of all that, I got a 4% raise and an annual bonus! It was good to see the bonus amount until Uncle Sam got a hold of it, lol.

My new manager and I had a sit down session this month to go over goals and management. He expressed an interest in me to step up and pursue more automation and making things simpler in standard operations. It was also good to hear that he has plans for me, and the projects would come. There are still some projects from 2017 that need to be closed out. One of the things I was rather proud of was integrating PowerShell with our alerting system for customized alerts. The alerts fell into these values:

foreach ($database in $databaselist){
write-host "Database: " $database
if ((Get-MailboxStatistics -Database $database | Where-Object {$_.DisconnectDate -Notlike $NULL -and $_.DisconnectReason -like "SoftDeleted"}).Count -gt 0) {
    $mailboxes = (Get-MailboxStatistics -Database $database | Where-Object {$_.DisconnectDate -Notlike $NULL -and $_.DisconnectReason -like "SoftDeleted"}).TotalItemSize.Value
    $mailboxCount = $mailboxes.Count
    foreach ($mailbox in $mailboxes) {
        $itemSize = [Decimal](($mailbox).ToString() -replace "(.*\()|,| [a-z]*\)", "") + [decimal]$itemSize
        $softDelete = $itemSize
    [decimal]$softDelete = [math]::round(([convert]::ToDecimal($softDelete) / 1GB) ,2)
#$final = [String]$mailboxCount + " (" + $softDelete + "G)"
$value = (Get-MailboxDatabase $database -Status).AvailableNewMailboxSpace.ToString() -replace "(.*\()|,| [a-z]*\)", ""
$value = [math]::Round($value / 1gb,2)
$dbsize = (Get-MailboxDatabase $database -Status).DatabaseSize.ToString() -replace "(.*\()|,| [a-z]*\)", ""
$dbsize = [math]::Round($dbsize / 1gb,2)
$disk = (Get-WmiObject win32_logicaldisk -ComputerName $server | Where {$_.DeviceID -eq $drive})
$diskSpace = [math]::Round(($disk.Size/1GB),2)
$diskFree = [math]::Round(($disk.FreeSpace/1GB),2)
if ($error) { ...

"Choose Simple!"

This was the main section of the script. One thing I learned in Exchange remote PSSession is that I had to add the "replace" switch to the value to strip off the non-numeric characters. The .Value.ToGB() would not take in the remote Exchange PowerShell. This was designed to help available space in our mailbox dbs, available disk space, and soft deleted items. I already foresee a lot of automation and PowerShell stuff for 2018 with how intense it has been this month. That's good for me though. In fact, my new manager said let's try to simply the onboarding (onb) and offboarding (offb) process and design an interface for this, much similar to the one I designed for Broadvox back in 2009, using C#. The interface probably can all be done with PowerShell so he recommended reaching out Dev for details on VisualStudio and if it includes PowerShell libraries. I told my new manager about that because I had shown him a ways back what I did to help onboarding with the previous company. I related how that manager was very similar to our manager. I told him "he allowed us to be creative in our jobs much like here." I expressed how I like that and that our team gives us that creative ability to explore our technologies and try new stuff. I also expressed a desired interest to delve more into Microsoft Azure in 2018 and that he would set that as one of my goals. Right now, my knowledge of technology is rather limited, and only through the hybrid deployment our company did last year with "To Serenade A Rainbow" project.

We are VelocityEHS
Merchandise Mart
River North, Chicago IL
October 5, 2016

Isolated onto my own island. I'll start with my "last in" problem. No, work projects are all fine! Work is work and it will always be there. Work has been busy still and I'm going to say this again: I'm still finding it very difficult fitting into our TechOps team. There was something that hurt me the other day at our company wide meeting. I arrived early to the company meeting on the 19th floor of the Mart. I purposely tried to get up there before everyone crammed into elevators to go up, but mainly, because I wanted to find my own seat near the back by the A/V booth. Two guys on our team were helping setup the A/V equipment previously. Well, then it happened. The whole TechOps team arrived at the same time. What really bothered me is that I was isolated from them and no one wanted to sit next to me. Yeah, it hurt! Not gonna lie, even after I joked and said, "I don't smell." Still no one from the team would sit by me. Yeah, it hurt. So, I just sat there and kept to myself while everyone else talked together as a group. It made me feel really alone and it hurt. I made an appointment to talk to the counselor afterwards and it was the night of our after-hour work so I couldn't go home at quitting time like everyone else.

It bleeds. Powershell Blood.
Feburary 13, 2018

After the meeting was over, I quickly left and went back to my desk to work while everyone else went to the game room for snacks. I was working on something anyways. The loneliness continued more because now everyone was socializing in our office space. So loneliness turned into aggravation. I didn't take a break for the day so I left my desk, and went downstairs to Protein Bar in the Mart to get a drink. I sat in the food court by Protein Bar and texted with my friend Rich and my Mom. I sat there for awhile, more than a half an hour. I was going to be staying late for work, and I was hungry anyhow. It was nearing quitting time, so I hoped that everyone in our team would be leaving soon so I could go back upstairs to work and prepare for the after-hour work. There were a few stragglers mainly my manager another teammate. The teammate questioned me, "Eric, you're still here?" I replied, "Yeah, after hour work tonight, so I'll be here for awhile." He was nice to me and I felt better after he acknowledged me. The point I guess I'm making with this is that people might say I'm overreacting here with how I felt, but if you were to live my life how it's been for 44 years, you might understand. Walk a mile in my shoes! By the way, the after hour work went fine but we all learned some new issues to work on and fine-tune from it.

Celestial Alignments at the Stone Circle
Composite Photo
Avebury, Wiltshire UK
October 12, 2017

Lazy Days by Eithne
Seclusive Tendencies

Going back through 2017 photos. I haven't really gotten out much since the new year to do photography. The desire hasn't been there. The counselor confirmed with me that I am indeed going through depression; however, that hasn't stopped me from sprucing up my new Photog FB profile under Rick Roberts. I'm also spending more time in Photoshop. You'll notice a couple composites in this blog. I hope you do lol. Remember, our moon isn't that big lol. I've been practicing with the moon. I did this in my Avebury photos if you notice. I took a previous picture I did of waxing crescent and super-imposed it over my Avebury photos, carefully making sure the bright side of the moon faced the sun obviously. This allowed me to experiment in Photoshop with levels, and distortion. To make the moon almost invisible, I used those elements to, one, make the moon appear BEHIND the clouds and, two, the levels to make it appear "dim." The original crescent moon was too bright for this composite. Next, I played around with the exposure settings by selecting each of the stones in the picture to make them appear "magical" and pulsating with energy. I hope I was able to create the effect here for anyone looking at this.
2018 Goal: "In a twinkling of the shutter." Shutterfest with Rich. Photography. Continue on with landscaping and portrait shoots. Develop (no pun intended) business relationships, find ways to market, sell my photography, and start a new FB page strictly for photography contacts and clients. "Eric R. Chatham" is a brand name. Make it one! Thanks Richard Trigg.

I did not get a chance to see our Super Blue Blood Moon on January 31st. Ssshhhh! I didn't want to s say that right away with the picture in this blog heading ha. The sky was overcast. I got up early to see the western sky, mainly outside my back porch. The moon was too far over the horizon for a good photo with it in its blood state. Ssssoooo, knowing that I had originally viewed the Super Blood Moon (Sunday Bloody Moon Day) on September 27, 2015 at the "Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam" near Lawrence Beach, I used THAT photo to super-impose over a skyline photo I did of Chicago, carefully trying to place the blood moon in the same direction it would be viewed the night of January 31st. Next, I made the sky blood like to give it an ominous effect. In fact this photo is the heading photo to this blog. I have also used this photo for my wallpaper at work lol. Enjoy the photos but, hopefully, you're reading too! Along with the Photoshop practice, I have gone back through my photos in 2016 and 2017. Also, I've bee backing up all my photos to external hard drives and storing in my strong box with all my other user data. I've been doing this since last August. This process is being done with my Apartment Overhaul project. Since January, I've been throwing stuff out, and putting important stuff away. This has included all my photos too. The strong box is nice and friendly to the External HDDs too. The casing is concrete, not metal!

HDD organization and HDD backups to Strong Box!
February 18, 2018

Aside from my seclusive tendencies, and Netflix weekends, I've also been hanging out with a friend on some weekends too. We've met a couple Saturdays for dinner at Roots in Ravenswood and Barba Yianni in Lincoln Square. He's been great to hang out with and talk to. We pretty much have the same personalities, and in those times, we discussed what we would like to do in 2018, including the upcoming "Chinese Lunar New Year Parade" in Chinatown. As far as other weekend activities, I've just been putting on Netflix. As already mentioned, I have Star Trek: The Next Generation in my queue and I also watched The Fellowship of the Ring. Usually beginning February, just after Valentine's Day, that's when I start posting Lord of the Rings' updates on my Facebook Page. I've been doing that for 11 years now. This year it's been kind of sparse due to repeatedly de-activating my Facebook profile and working on my photography profile more! I am hoping for warmer weather soon.

2018 Goal: "To thine own self be true." 2017 was a year of doctors and health issues. Not only continue with a healthy lifestyle of exercise, dieting, weight loss, but becoming a better coach to my health issues and autoimmune disease. Thanks Dr Kenneth Gong and Dr Jang-Mi Johnson!

I've been proactive with seeing doctors for, not only my mental health, but for my physical health. I can't tell you how painful it has been most mornings getting out of bed, including weekdays when getting ready for work in the morning. It hurts! I'm hoping Taltz helps my auto-immune deficiencies and that warmer weather comes soon. Also, I'm hoping my counselor at Augustyn will find some group therapy session for me. That was the last thing we discussed, including going down to once a week after last month's "dark spell."

One more room to clean! I have one more room in my apartment to clean up. The Office! This one will take some time. All the files I have now are going to be stored away. I bought some office supplies on Amazon, so I'm hoping this week I'll get them so I can start storing old files and putting out fresh file folders in my file cabinets. I have a stack of old bills, medical documents, and such all stacked on my desk or that need going through. I've finished organizing my photography as well and storing old HDD backups in my strong box (just in case). I keep my checkbook ledger, financial data, and such on HDD. Maybe the first weekend out of my apartment will be the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. I might go with a friend if not by myself. Also, the next server project at home is going to be setting up RAS! Apparently one of the Windows Updates last year killed my RAS setup on my "Windows Server 2012" server. The server is complaining about another NIC for it, so I am going to build out another RAS in my virtual environment at home and adding two NICs to get around it. Eventually, I want to upgrade my virtual environment at home to vCenter 6.5.

Drake/Central Park Alley Sunset
Albany Park, Chicago IL
February 11, 2018

Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay
The Silmaril of my Dreams

I'm just going to get this out now. I don't have a Valentine or someone to share it with. Each year, I post this poem I wrote for her, that far off distant lover in the corner of the sky. The poem was based off a story in the Silmarillion, the story of Eärendil and Elwing. I also love gazing at the night sky! Reading that book 4x, I still can't get everything out of it. BUT I did get this...


My ship sails ever into the heavenly night sky
Into the sea of stars that are up so high
Towards the distant shimmering star so prominent
I will finally reach you, your light so dominant

You glimmer so radiantly neither waxing or waning
Since the beginning, there you are ever remaining
You bid me to seek you out and find your glow
That your life and spark will fill my soul

You guide my course onward to hold your hand
One day this long quest will reach an end
I've dreamt and seen your beauty from the start
When I looked into your night sky, I see your heart

One day our paths will finally meet
Until then, good night my glimmering star, my sweet.

Happy Independents' Day! I haven't met her yet, but today I met with my counselor and we discussed Valentine's Day. I told her that I'm usually disappointed but shared this poem with hopes that she is out there. As much as I love stargazing and staring into the endless night sky, I attributed that to a soulmate! Corner of the sky? The corner seems like a forgotten place. It's not in plain sight.  Seldom do we look in a corner for something we desire. We look ahead; usually it's something we need or have forgotten that is in the corner. A corner in the sky? Is such a thing possible? Oh, there you are! It just infers that it's impossible to have corners there but yet, there is a corner and it's forgotten? That was what I implied by the title. At the same time it's impossible to have corners in the sky, but yet, we forget and it's not in plain sight. That's my problem with love! That's why I look to the corner because it's not in plain sight for me!

2018 Goal: "Stop setting a goal to find love. It's out there." It's taken 11 seasons of X-Files for Mulder and Scully to get the truth and they still don't have it all. I will be signing up for the full membership on eHarmony but I need to stop making it goal. This almost sounds like a conundrum of a goal, but I know how I see it in my head lol.

I also had to explain to her the importance of the silmarils in the Silmarillion, how there were three; all lost except the one that Earendil bore on his forehead, sailing off with it over the horizon into the undying lands where it remains today as the evening and morning star (Venus). One reason for the conundrum of the title. I thought the same. Search because she's not going to be in plain sight, but I have to pay attention and be proactive at the same time. Life has taught me one thing: Unless I make the effort, nothing is going to happen. I remember the analogy my Dad gave many times about "being in neutral gear" even demonstrating that when teaching me to drive stick. Ha! Go out and do. Nothing comes to you without you making an effort (sailing into the night sky from the poem). I always hate when people say "stop looking, she'll come." Well, if I'm not paying attention, will I miss her then? Or is she going to smack me in the face and say "here I am?" So I don't follow people that say "stop looking." If I'm not, I might miss it! To put in simpler terms an example. My mindset for doing the meetups was to meet friends NOT find my soulmate. So, I wasn't looking (but part of me was). How do you explain that? Yeah, the mindset was friends. Logic spoke that seeing as I have few here in the city, but deeper was the soulmate. So I was looking but I also wasn't. Remember, Galadriel's gifts to the Fellowship? She gave Frodo a phial of light from the silmaril.

"Farewell, Frodo Baggins. I give you the light of Eärendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light to you in dark places." February 16, Galadriel.

I relate the "joy" of the night sky and her soul as one. One thing I look forward to when going to see my folks is that "endless, night sky deep gazing" I do. They live in rural Hinckley OH. I mean I just stand there almost seems like forever and just gaze up in awe on clear nights! Yes, it chills me to the bone and there are a few that could relate. I call it celestial porn addiction. A year ago, when the sky was so crisp and cool here in the city, one winter night, I stood on the stoop of my apartment building and was so amazed to see the sky light up with my favorite constellation Orion and others -- here in a LIGHT POLLUTED city! When I was in Avebury UK for my trip last year, I saw even more where I was at. I saw the Milky Way and it felt like I was swimming in the sky just gazing up there. You see why I relate her soul to the night sky now? Lol. In fact, when I was in Avebury those nights on my trip, I failed to see that beam of light being projected from the center of town (ala Children of the Stones), even though I could plainly see the "Great Plough" in the sky, lol!

My Valentine Date
Celestial Porn!
Albany Park, Chicago
Avebury Wiltshire UK

This was the first year I didn't hide on Valentine's Day. Usually I hide, but this year, I showed a little expression and some hope. The counselor helped. When asked about my eHarmony profile, I talked to the counselor about the progress. So, when getting stuck on my eHarmony profile, I asked a woman to help me. I can't write about myself on these dating sites. You get to a certain point before (for me) it seems vain. Everyone has their own opinion of me, whether good or bad. So, she asked me why I picked her to help. She's already in a relationship, but I said "well, you are what I'm looking for in a woman." The gleeful response back from her gave me total re-assurance I did the right thing! So, here's hoping. I know I say this all the time about paying into stuff, but now I can budget for this every month. I don't make millions of dollars, but a "love life" should be in the budget I think. So, the issue I'm facing now is some backlash in my dating endeavors, telling me "don't rush" and "wanting a relationship." So, one, what relationship doesn't start with "I want" no, not "I need," but I want. None that I know of. They are all wants. Next was something that someone said to me that really struck a nerve. "Don't rush this." I know, don't let one person stand in your way, right? The fact was that I've been really supportive of this person in all their success.

Everything Counts by Depeche Mode
The contract still intact. It's a competitive world.

Everyone is different. I don't fit into a box, and I know a relationship is not a magical fix to whatever problems I have. I never would say it is. We all have different walks of life. Every time I've discussed my "love life" with this person, the impression I get is back off and stay away. After much consideration, I don't need to hear that discouragement and misdirection. If that person is not going to stand behind me in my success, then I need to re-evaluate who divulge my problems to. I've been talking to a counselor now. The fact is I've stood up for this person and have been extremely supportive of their success bothers me, and they're being a roadblock to me. Many times in the past, it's mainly centered around their success. No relationship is perfect. I've never given an honest go at one. Like my parents before me once said, "you kids didn't come with instruction manuals. You're all different and we treated you all differently. We had to wing it many times with each of you and you were all different." Same with a relationship. Trial and error. Maybe I've just been lazy for those 20 years. The people that I've been ensnared by in a relationship are toxic narcissists, animal/kid haters and the such. I've not been given a fair shot at a real relationship, and I've always had unrequited love; I already know I move extremely slow FOR A GUY! I'm an INFJ. So, I know I'm not rushing. To have someone say I'm rushing just makes me think that they have no idea what is really going on in my life, what I need or what, or that they've taken the time to fully understand my side, not theirs. When I make an effort to shine, I'm pushed in a corner, or held back. I see this. THIS same thing was happening with my photography recently. That's another story. Now I'm getting this in my love life??? How do you want me to react? Let it roll off my back? I want people to cheer me on in my journey, not tell me "don't." Sure, I need to proceed with caution, but don't give me the impression saying "don't rush." I guess from now on, I'll be careful who I ask for advice. That person treated me like an exception. To everyone else, it's fine to have a relationship, but for me it's taboo. They treated me like this prior to my January 19th incident last month. Support me and encourage me to succeed, and don't kick me when I'm down. That's all I'm asking here. That's what friends do.

I'm still pursuing my dating endeavors because I specifically put love life in my budget this year. Either you support me and encourage me to succeed or just back off. Either way, I'm trying. The nearest match I had was Milwaukee. Right now, I'm pretty pissed off that, instead of people encouraging me to TRY, they're putting up road blocks and kicking me when I'm down. So the day after this...

Hopeful Horizons
Sears Tower Clouds
Museum Campus, Chicago IL
June 21, 2017

Getting Taxes Done. I had an amazing lunch break getting my taxes done at the Thompson Center, a couple days after Valentine's Day. No, not the refund part either. The woman that did my taxes said something rather encouraging in spite of the backlash I'm currently facing in the "love life" situation. We were talking about our faith before the filing. She pauses a minute looks up at me and says, "God is going to send you your wife." It caught me off guard. Then she repeated it. "God is going to send you your wife. Not girlfriend. Wife. You just wait. You're both going to find each other broken." The hair stood on the back of my neck. I had only mentioned my faltering faith to her nothing else. She was very pleasant. She then said, "something was telling me to tell you that and you needed to hear it." The part that got me is when said "'d find each other together BROKEN." She meant that we'd both find each other at our lowest. I asked. No, not taking this as gospel truth obviously but it was so refreshing to hear after some backlash I'm getting on dating again.

Don Quichotte by Magazine 60
No señor, Don Quixote y Sancho Panza no estan aqui!

People need to understand something here. I've been accused of being an "attention trap" recently by someone I thought would understand what I was going through now. It's made me rethink whom I share details of my life with from now on. The person that accused me of this rubbed my "dark night" in my nose from last January and made me feel like this is all my fault for wanting attention. A cry for help is wanting attention. The thing that hurts the most here is the fact I had this person's back in a situation that made her feel a certain way, a certain way I warned her about previously with a mutual acquaintance of ours. This has emotionally charged me. Let me explain...

A couple years ago, we were both working with someone that was very two-faced. The problem came first to me. This guy we both worked with was really mean and cruel to people and the worst of it is I absorb so I was getting all that negative vibe from this dude. This dude would make fun of people behind their backs and would really belittle people. He would talk down to them. He was doing it to me -- behind my back. He and another guy would work on my shift together and it was nearly impossible to work with the two of these guys together because they would make fun of everyone and talk down to co-workers to each other, including me. The atmosphere was so stifling when these two were together, making it nearly impossible to focus on work. It was hurtful, very hurtful. They both didn't care. Well, that guy finally left the company so it made work a lot easier after that. I later left that company for VelocityEHS. The problem comes in with the person now who is accusing me of being an "attention trap." I told that person exactly how they both made me feel and how impossible it was to work with them. That person retorted (like how they are now, accusing me of being an attention trap) and said I was crazy and that I was jealous of them. That person reacted the same way they are now. I wasn’t jealous (far be it) but it was insisted I was. I knew exactly how I felt and it wasn’t jealousy. That person insisted I was being jealous of them.

Well, almost a year later, the both of those guys were doing this to THAT PERSON and making fun of their success, belittling of that person's talents. It was the exact same scenario for me and they were doing it again to the person who made me feel like this. It made that person feel awful, like how I was. That person approached me almost a year ago and explained what was happening. That person confirmed exactly how I felt with those two idiots. The thing is I didn’t say “see I told you” to that person accusing me now. I was understanding of what happened and stood up for that person whether they deserved it or not. I was a friend, well I guess I was. Well, that’s why I’m upset now. I think back to that, and with how that person is treating me now, it just makes me mad that they only see what they want to see, and allow their ego get in the way. I also felt like telling that person, “maybe it will take you to contemplate suicide to understand how I feel. Maybe then you’ll see a cry for help is a cry for attention.” And, with recent "silence" on my part is only going to get that person to believe they are right and that I am the one with the problem. Frankly, I went silent on this issue because I didn't want to further inflate and be trapped by the ego. So, you know what? That's TWO PEOPLE this year I've had to face whose egos overshadow themselves. Meaningful relationships! I'm sticking to my guns on this goal now! I'm not going to be trapped by that!

A photog buddy of mine
Chicago Riverwalk
May 14, 2017

Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam
Lawrence Beach
July 6, 2017
August 7, 2017

Imagination by Erasure
Portrait Photography kicked-off!

2018 Give Way! With this year starting, I've made some strides with my portrait photography even joining a couple "Photog Groups" on Facebook. I've started sharing my photos from last year, mainly the ones I took with the "Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam" and getting some good CC back on the photos. At the same time, I'm looking at other people's work and CC to help me. I'm hoping that this year I'll get to re-visit that as I get more experience! The photos I did at two of the jams last year made me rather proud off some the composition. They were all pretty much candid shots, not planned. I just snapped when I saw something. I think that reflex is important because it made me think back to the last minute wedding I did last summer. It was reflex that got me the shots I liked, and the wedding couple liked. I didn't direct; however, with that being said, photographers are also directors, so that's where I'll need to practice more. The one Facebook group I joined was for beginners and looking at other people's work is going to help me in the end!

Well that's all I have for now...

THANK YOU AGAIN to all who took time to read and enjoy some photos. See you all next time...


2/18/2018 20:18....

 2018 Give Way!

This blog's Spotify Playlist:
2018 Give Way | Hollow Pursuits

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My Life starts at the Chicago Water Tower!
Mark 0, 0, 0, 0. The last 0 is for the time parameter
Keeping a train of thought and keeping on track.

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