The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, September 30, 2008



The days are getting shorter. It’s cooler. It’s definately cooler at night. We enjoy building a fire in the backyard on a cool evening to wind down from the week. The leaves are starting to change color. Autumn is certainly here.

My youngest daughter had a volleyball tournament over the weekend. After struggling a little in the morning, they mowed everyone down in their path to win the whole thing; repeating as champions of this particular tournament.

A friend who is a dad on one of the other teams later posted the tournament results on a local volleyball message board. At the end of his post, he stated that between his two daughters, he had been following high school volleyball for the last 6 years, and with his youngest being a senior, this was his last visit to that venue. He went on to thank the organizers for their hospitality over the years.

For years I’ve been saying that with my first daughter, we’ve been accumulating a lot of first, and with the younger one, we were accumulating lasts. It was with his note that it really struck me that unless she does indeed play in college, she’s almost done playing organized volleyball. Even if the team should make it’s way all the way to the State Championship in the post season tournament, it’ll all be over and done with in approximately six weeks.

This fact hasn’t sunk in yet with the seniors. When it does, I expect to see a lot of tears. My daughter has been playing since 5th grade, and has invested a lot of herself into becoming a very good player. If she plays in college, she’s only delaying what is as certain as the sunrise and sunset.

Firsts, lasts; the pages turn and we get on with our lives.

My oldest daughter is still trying to land a job. The economy in general, and particularly here in Michigan is just very bad for a job seeker. I can’t fault her on her efforts. She’s doing the work; it’s just that even doing the work, you can’t guarantee the outcomes. She keeps grinding away. With any luck she’ll land something soon. She is getting a lot of life lessons now which will stick with her for a long, long time.

Many of my customers have had really severe headcount reductions, and some have been very brutal in the way they were handled. Many of the young men and women have only known relative prosperity in their working lives. It’s not uncommon for a young engineer and spouse to have both been working and bringing home a good check, in a large brand new house, with two new vehicles in their driveway. Now, well, there’s a lot of stress in the air.

She’s seeing the tough times now, and will have a better chance to be prepared in the future, when the next cycle comes around. All’s well that ends well. I would rather she tastes the bitter before the sweet, rather than the other way around.

Speaking of the economy, I’ve just recently reread Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This book, and Taleb’s second, The Black Swan, are most appropriate for our current economic times. It’s not often that a book really effects the way you look at things. These two have for me.

Speaking of books, as we’re heading to October, I wanted to read something for Halloween. I’m starting a little early, because things come up and I don’t always get through books as quickly as I would like. Right now I’m reading an annotated edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker. It’s called The Essential Dracula, and the annotator is Leonard Wolf.

My Taijiquan training is going well. It’s nothing for some of the young guys who have nothing else really going on to make several classes a week, and get very good, very quickly. For myself, I go once a week at the most. Sometimes I have to miss for various reasons. I just attended my 50th class. In that time, I’ve learned and begun to refine the 108 Standard Form; the 54 Round Form; the standard supplementary exercises of Wu style, the 24 Forms, some other supplementary exercises; and at least the outward form of 5 of the 12 types of push hands. Not too shabby. When I get to 100 classes, I think I’ll be well on my way in my practice.

When I practice regularly, I feel great and my mind is clear. When I don’t, my knees hurt and I find my monkey mind becomes pretty active.

Several years ago, I went through a period where about every other month I was going to a funeral. The parents of my friends were all getting up in years. Over the past year, most recently a few weeks ago, I’ve gone to several more. There aren’t many of the parents left. This is the passing of generations. For some of us, we are now the older generation of our families. It takes quite a bit of doing to wrap your head around that one.

The job is going well. I’ve been there a little over six months. Low car sales is hurting our billings, but we’re picking up new future business. When people start buying cars again, we’ll be fine. I had the one trip to Japan during the summer. Now management wants us to go to Japan or Europe twice a year.

Finally, this fall my wife and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We had a beautiful Indian summer day at the end of October when we were married. At our reception, the band picked a song on their own for our wedding dance. The one they picked was “If It Don’t Work Out.” No kidding. Who needs fiction?

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