The Garden State is not a location.


I was born in Brooklyn.

It was in the year 2000 that my ex wife and I decided that we’d had enough of living in the city. The constant noise, dirt, crowds, attitudes and everything else was becoming a bit too much to bear on a daily basis. I believe it’s romanticized primarily because that’s what you do when you have no choice, but it’s not healthy. Combine that environment with an asshole boss and you have a recipe for premature death.

At first we tried looking just across the George Washington bridge to shorten our commute. That turned out to be a huge disappointment. The neighborhoods that were affordable were cramped and very close to industrial complexes. I believe we were in Roselle. This was during the summer and there was an ever present acidic toxic smell in the air. I was left asking myself how is it that these people are living here? Being from New York you hear the stories about New Jersey. Typically related to the crime in Newark or the stench on New Jersey Turnpike nearest to New York City. At that time, that was primarily my impression of how living in New Jersey would be. I was ready to give up until I spoke to a coworker of mine who also lived in New York and moved to New Jersey. She said to me you have to go further south if you want anything nice for a decent price. The real estate agent agreed, so my next adventure would take me further south down into Somerset.

We looked at two houses and my ex-wife was immediately sold on the second one without even going inside. It met all of our criteria plus the neighborhood was really beautiful and peaceful.

The only problem that remained was the commute. It would take a minimum of an hour and 45 minutes on a good day for me to get to work. This would also add an additional travel expense that I wasn’t too keen on. I’ll admit that if it were just left up to me, I probably would not have made the decision to stay, but seeing her being so excited about it, (we were also having issues) I felt like it would be therapeutic.

The previous year I’d seen The Matrix. There’s a scene where Neo wakes up and realizes that he is essentially a battery. That hit home with me. It eloquently personified how I felt about living in the city. Doing the same thing day in and day out, being plugged into the corporate machine with no sense of personal identity. That contrast was not fully realized until my first day of driving home from work to our new house. Once I got past a certain point on the turnpike it was like entering another dimension. There was this sense of order and calm that overcame me. I can honestly say this is something that I did not experience coming home in Brooklyn, leaving the work stress, dealing with the mass of people on the subway, and then going home and having to tolerate noise from neighbors. Day in and day out. For the first time in quite some time I was able to really think about myself. I became more centered. The quiet allowed me to contemplate what I was doing in life. Who am I? Why do I make the choices that I do?How can I bring this new sense of peace to other aspects of my life? It was in a word transformative.

I realized that living in the city I was constantly overstimulated. My brain wasn’t getting the breathing space to function nominally. I’ve come to realize that the meditative state should be the primary operating mode and not something you try to squeeze in to a few random minutes. It is in the garden of serenity where good ideas grow.

In keeping with tradition I am going to publish a couple of shots that I have taken since I last posted. I want to take the time to thank you for indulging me and hopefully enjoying the journey.

Done diddly done


That’s exactly how I feel right now.

My day job is that of a systems programmer. I was on call this past weekend, which means my day starts at 7 am on Saturday. This particular weekend I was working with my team to install software on the mainframe (yes they still exist). This resulted in an almost 8 hour conference call. If you’ve never had the pleasure of spending 8 hours in the phone with guys who have very thick Chinese accents, I suggest you try it as an alternative to lethal injection. I try. I really do, but their lack of flow and enunciation does something to the brain I would equate to waterboarding. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a bigot or any shit like that. I actually like these guys, but we need to find a better way to communicate. Add to this problems with the install that no one understood why was happening and the internal dread that if this shit doesn’t work, I will be getting called all hours of the night.

After this marathon of madness, I decided to take advantage of the weather and get some yard work done. I totally forgot to wear a facemask and I paid the price. My nose was completely clogged from the pollen which resulted in a sinus headache. Later that evening I decided to have a drink just to relax and passed out, only to be woken up at 2 AM due to a system problem ( I knew that shit was gonna happen). I was on that call until 8:30 AM. I was out of it all Sunday but I refused to sleep because I knew it was going to destroy my sleeping pattern. I took today off so now I’m in recovery mode. It actually turned out to be a rather beautiful day but I’m feeling kinda through. I went to my favorite spot at the marina to unwind and meditate. That was short lived. This area is apparently a favorite place to visit by people caring for groups of the mentally handicapped. I was in my zone when a large group came near where I was relaxing and started screaming and shit. One dude was yelling something about tortellini. I’m like no, this isn’t working so I came back home. It’s like the universe is conspiring against me.

Can’t always be nice


It’s 1:11 AM and I can’t sleep. I’ve been on Twitter for a while and that it’s not working so I decided to post a blog. For some reason, I remembered this situation that I am going to share with you. A few years ago I was at work in the office. It’s a remote site that is rented space in a larger building. Because of this you have a mixed bag of people working there. This office was purely designed for people who live in the area. The reason I’m stressing that is because of where I live. We have a substantial Indian community in this area. By Indian I mean actual Indians from India. There were a few working in this office. I would only go there may be once or twice a week. The remaining time I would work from home. Anyway, there was an Indian woman working there that I would see occasionally in passing. Her desk was behind mine so when she would go to the pantry or elevator or what ever, she would pass my desk. Occasionally we would make eye contact and being the polite person that I am, I would say hello. Initially she would barely respond. I really thought nothing of it and maybe she was not a social person. As time went on I would see her more frequently. Each time I would make some sort of attempt to be social. Never disrespectful in any shape form or fashion. This went on for close to a year before this particular incident occurred that I am about to share with you. One day, as would happen on any other day, she was walking past my desk. I said hello and she said hello and smiled. I was taken aback actually because she never smiled. As fate would have it, not much longer after this, we ran into each other in the pantry. The pantry is a very small area so it kind of forces uncomfortable closeness. I was standing in the entrance waiting for her to finish using the coffee machine. Thinking I needed to break the awkward silence, I made a remark to her that it was nice to see her smile for a change. She gave off this vibe that made me feel like I was pressuring her into something that she was extremely uncomfortable with. So I just kept my mouth shut and waited until she left before using the machine. I thought nothing more of it than just her being her. Later that day I received an email from her. I thought to myself, this is odd. To my shock the email essentially stated that I made her uncomfortable and that she felt insulted. She mentioned something about cultural differences and some other stuff. But the essence of the email was to fuck off and leave her alone. I had a mixed blend of emotional responses to that email. My first was who the fuck do you think you are? The second was what could I have possibly done to evoke such a response? I literally searched my mind for every instance of us speaking and could not find one time where I was rude or out of bounds. My reply was short and simple, I am sorry that you were offended it will not happen again. Mind you, I felt like she was fucking crazy, but being it was in the workplace I had to handle this situation diplomatically. I mentioned this encounter with a friend of mine and their response was that in certain Indian cultures interaction with a woman is frowned upon unless she is a family member or a spouse. My response to that was, she’s in the fucking US. Here we speak to people out of common courtesy. If you can’t deal with that then I suggest you stay wherever the fuck you come from. That statement may sound racist, but I don’t think that’s it at all. If I were in her country I would respect their culture just like I would expect her to respect our culture. If the simple act of saying hello to someone is considered an egregious act then I think you need to live in a fucking cave.

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Home alone


I’m a systems programmer and I work from home 99% of the time. I go into NY for meetings and certain events about once a month. My job consists of writing code for automation on the mainframe computer and providing technical support for other programmers. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term mainframe, it’s simply a big computer that communicates with other computers. If you have ever used an ATM, then chances are you have interacted with a mainframe. The ATM can be thought of as the little computer that gets your information from the mainframe.
Among other things my job is to write code that brings the mainframe up, just like when you boot your pc. When your pc is booting it loads programs to give you the ability to use it. I write the code that loads those programs on the mainframe.
I also write code that monitors the system and sends emails and notifications if something is wrong. It can be interesting but for the most part it’s very stressful. Not due to the coding, but dealing with people. That’s a whole ‘nother story. Today I am focusing on working from home.
For the most part, working from home is good. I get to do house stuff occasionally while I work. The nature of my job requires me to be online the whole time. I spend a lot of time reading emails, making and receiving calls. It’s not a party by any stretch of the imagination. My job is extremely technical and requires extreme focus. There’s very little room for error and there’s a lot of work. A LOT. There’s days I will log on and work continuously until evenings, without a break. Sometimes I have to remind myself to eat. It’s gotten to the point where I have to set up calendar reminders to go to lunch.
My job also requires that I work on weekends. I have worked 12 weeks at a time non-stop.
Needless to say, it sucks for my personal life. I don’t get out as much as the average person does, which for me isn’t a huge deal as I’ve really outgrown the whole hang out scene, but one does require social interaction to stay sane. Spending too many hours sitting has also been proven to be deadly. To offset that I take breaks just to go out back or do something around the house, or get on the stationary bike and watch a bit of tv.
I like to cook which is not good all the time because it has made me eat a lot at times. To deal with that I now substitute meals with smoothies or home-made vegetable juice.
I live alone and that plays a major part in my activities. Working from home is good for people with families but there are times when those responsibilities can clash. I don’t like bringing stress into my home but there is little choice. To deal with that I only work out of my office room. This gives me a psychological barrier so that when I go out into the rest of the house it feels separate.
My job also requires that I am on call and that is where things get ugly. People expect you to always be available and they call you after hours for things that should be dealt with during work hours. Oh, I forgot to mention, my company is international, so I deal with people from all over the world. This means that you also have to take into consideration other time zones. It gets crazy at times but I have to say all in all it’s better than dragging my ass into the office everyday.