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Some people work best in a quiet room.  No distractions, nothing to pull their attention.  They can focus on business and be brilliant.  I'm not one of them.  In my world, silence is death.  The hum of an airplane's jet engines is a lullaby.  A TV playing in the background is akin to a warm crackling fire.  In the office, it's a softly playing radio.  Classical music.  Minimum commercials, none at all if possible.  I’m an easy target as my ears never seem to tire of the classical "warhorses".

Living down here in the bottom left hand corner of the US, classical music radio stations are in short supply.  No, correct that, there's one station, that's it.  No options, live with it.  It's a schizoid little public radio station that straddles the border between the US and Mexico.  In an effort to appeal to all, they alternate from English to Spanish when introducing musical selections.  I have to say that you haven't lived until you've heard Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italienne pronounced in Spanish.

And so, the other day when static replaced the spot on the dial where my little classical companion resides, I was bereft.  Silence (well, except for the regular bitching by my project's administrative assistant).  No recorded announcement explaining the outage.  Nothing.  Nada.

Two days later, my classical buddy was back!  You'd think that they'd broadcast a "sorry listeners, a hamster died and we couldn't transmit" statement.  Same multilingual selection introductions.  You have to wonder if they just assume that nobody would notice their absence.  Well, I did.


Feb. 17th, 2010 10:50 am
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In the great pantheon of bear runs, there have always been three - San Francisco's IBR along with the events in Chicago and Orlando.  Years past have seen me as a regular at IBR although I have been a slacker over the past half decade or so and have not attended.  'How much have things changed?' I wondered.  As I had been planning one of my regular jaunts to Sodom-on-the-Bay anyway, being part of IBR this year seemed to make lots of sense.  Or did it?

IBR moved to a new hotel this year and if there was a high point, it was the hotel.  A short stagger from public transit, the hotel was modern and minimalist.  Staff seemed efficient, courteous, and organized.  I'd decided to splurge on the higher priced upper floor room and scored a lovely space on the 31st floor looking north towards the high rises of downtown with glimpses of the Bay in the background.  My 'Club Level' room came with obsessive/compulsive service including early evening checks to ensure that my room was perfect and to offer turn down service including wrapped chocolates (dark chocolate, it's good for you, don't burst my bubble) on the pillow.  When I called down one evening for a couple of extra towels, I returned to my room to find the bed freshly made and the bathroom spotlessly cleaned.  It may not be a luxury property but they did deliver quality.  Score - 10/10

As to IBR, I'd expected that the economy would take its toll and it did.  Registrations were down to about half of that in past years.  Non-registrants, who had in past years shown up in droves, also seemed to be staying away.  As a result, events were sparsely attended, seeming all the more so in the hotels large function rooms.  Saddest of all, there was no casual gathering spot (the old Ramada's lobby was perfect in this regard).  This year's "Barbary Coast" theme captured no one's imagination.  Score - 3/10

I'll admit that I didn't rush to attend the various in-hotel organized events.  The first night's meet and greet was dismal.  Sister's Bingo wasn't as bawdy as in the past.  Totally by chance, I found my way into the filmmaker Kevin Smith 'lecture' scheduled, I gather, at the last minute and thought it passable fun.  IBR always seems to have drama of some sort.  This year's was Smith's ejection from his Southwest return flight (a quick web search will find you all sorts of details on this including Smith's own blog on the subject).  I was told by a couple of the Vendor Maul exhibitors that sales were way down, perhaps not even break even for some.  The overall vibe felt tired and desperate.  Score - 5/10

I didn't attend any of the dance/play outside venue events as I'm not a lover of deafening music nor into casual encounters.  I did minimally stop in at the Death Star and the Egret.  The former appeared full but not sardine as in past years.  The latter (which I gather will be closing at some point in the next few years) didn't appear lively by any means.  Score - N/A

As I had to return to work on Monday morning, I missed the contest itself but did have plenty of time on the way back to SFO to ruminate on the weekend.  While the economic downturn cast dark shadows over IBR as it has nearly everywhere, I found myself agreeing with those that claim that bear runs are past their prime.  'Bear' is less a subculture and much more mainstream as evidenced by Kevin Smith's upcoming Bear Nation documentary.  Is it still necessary to scream "we're special and we're here!"?  No, I'd say not.  BOSF and other such organizations are not to blame.  Time's change.  Not much to see here, folks, move on.

Will I attend another IBR?  Unlikely.  But then I never was much of a joiner.  Well, except for square dancing.  But that's another sordid tale for another time...
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Today was one of those days. Lots of plans, all sorts of things I wanted to get done. And I've accomplished, um, maybe part of one of them. It's been a GREAT day.

Why is it that doing nothing can be so damn fulfilling? I love the feeling of accomplishment. It drives me crazy when I see something I should have done but didn't. But today's 'me' day was downright perfect. And it's left me wondering why that is.

Do we set too many expectations for ourselves and burn out? Is putting our whims as a priority somehow wrong? Should I feel guilty at wasting a perfectly good day when I could have possibly answered the problems of the universe? Or at least gone to see a movie?

But I don't feel burned out. I don't think it was wrong. And I try never to feel guilty. But I do wish I'd gone to see a movie. It was a very, very, VERY good day.

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About two hours east of Seattle through a pass in the Cascade Mountains is Leavenworth, a former mining town gone tourist trap in the bakery/wine shop/kitsch direction. It was our destination yesterday in a day trip away from the cozy home of my best friend.

As our small SUV hummed its way along the interstate past mile after mile of pine trees, snow covered hillsides under a hard bright sun in a nearly cloudless sky, I found myself wondering what ran through the minds of the area's original explorers as they made their much slower path across these peaks. Our road was a six lane highway, dry and clear, the traffic moved fast. What was it like for those explorers, unaware of where their journeys might take them. Was danger around the next corner? Would they beg for a warm dry cabin like my rear seat in the car? Would they push onward and upward as we were? No maps for them, no GPS, no highway signs guiding their way.

It suddenly occurred to me that about a month earlier I had crossed between two other peaks, these formed by volcanoes, one currently dormant, the other softly active. Placed in the middle of the Pacific, they must have presented a much different challenge to the explorer. The hills climbed more gently to the point that given time, one could walk across them today without strain. There was much less mystery to their meanderings. Their destination much clearer and in view more quickly. Was it therefore less rewarding when they reached the shore on the other side? I wonder.

As we made our way to Leavenworth, I tried mightily to find a metaphoric parallel to these two mountain ranges and the explorers who crossed them for that first time. My limited creativity offered few suggestions although it did occur to me, perhaps too tritely, that we are all like those explorers in life. Some of life's mountains are steep and frightening, other like gentle waves in a calm sea. All take us to new places we've not seen. In rare cases, we turn back, defeated. But for most of us we move onward, through our emotional forests, looking for the next mountain to climb, hoping that the path will be easy and clear.

May we all face such paths as we move into another year. May we all continue to be explorers of new lands and of ourselves.
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So, OK, I haven't posted in a while.  Fine.  I have a note from my mommy right here (which is interesting as she's been dead for over 20 years).

And what have I been doing in the last couple of months?  Traveling.  A lot.  Some for work, some to see friends. 

El Paso

A day trip in late October for work.  Conclusion - don't go to El Paso again.


Another work trip, three days in all.  Technically I was just north of Albu-quirky, in Rio Rancho, one of those instant town kinds of places that seem to pop up almost overnight.  Memories of the trip are very positive.  Incredibly nice folk no matter where I wandered.  Albuquerque had a squeaky clean feel to it yet it's a city with a lot of history.  Had the good fortune to eat ('dine' is too fancy a term) at Mannie's, a local diner-esque joint, with the ever charming [livejournal.com profile] billeyler and [livejournal.com profile] abqdan.  After dinner, we moved onward to the Bill and Dan mansion for a brief stop.  I'm glad I upgraded to the full dollar tour as it included a visit to the Shower-From-Hell shrine which featured a dazzling array of spray jets and controls.  It makes you yearn to be dirty.  We then ventured outside again for an Albuquerque by night tour ("over there in that dark area is the river...").  I hope to get back for another visit one day soon, maybe in daylight.  Imagine!

Hawaii - Big Island

Off to the rock for the Turkey Day holiday to spend some time with [livejournal.com profile] mfpatterson, his partners Earl (LJ challenged for the moment) and Mark/[livejournal.com profile] mark_link, and at least three dogs and six cats (although they seemed to multiply and divide into more as the week progressed).  I need to do a separate post about the journey and why living in such a place is far from an endless supply of palm trees and umbrella drinks.  Who knew that an evening coqui frog serenade could be restful?  But it was!  Seeing some of the folks I most care about on this planet made the trip very, very special.

Los Angeles

Really not a visit but a trip up with my good friend Dan to wander the LA Auto Show.  My itch for things automotive was well and truly scratched.  Prettiest car at the show was the Fisker Karma.  Never has a four door sedan looked so seductive.  Hands down winner of the "Only a Mother Could Love" award went to the Porsche Panamera.  Ugliest.  Car.  Ever.  Amazing too how $8,000 of extras will render the interior a 1950's cabin cruiser look-a-like.

Ran into [livejournal.com profile] animbear and [livejournal.com profile] redbeardedblond while in Porscheville and had a lovely chat about lust objects, some of them automotive.  Richard's Tales of Auto Sales were especially entertaining.

San Francisco

Another weekend in Sodom-on-the-Bay.  I was reminded what Bay Area rainy weekends are like.  VERY reminded.  It is indeed an enchanted kingdom, if a bit soggy around the edges.  Ran into [livejournal.com profile] fuzzygruf and [livejournal.com profile] double_ohsteven at, wait for it, Starbears.  I think they have specially reserved seating these days.

Palm Springs

This coming weekend to see a former co-worker, George, and his partner of 30+ years, Neal.  Always fun, always lots of good food, always a pleasure.


Off for the XMAS holiday to see the other half of the 'family', none of whom are on LJ, the slugs!  I've been to Seattle during this time of year on a bunch of occasions.  Yeah, it rains, yeah, it can be way too cold.  But the place has a visceral roughness that fits the season.  All those hunky bearded mens...

After all that travel, I intend to let my luggage relax for a bit until after the first of the year.  For a few days...

On Family

Nov. 21st, 2009 02:20 pm
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I find it relatively difficult to talk about my family and childhood.  It wasn't a horrible existence nor was it particularly happy.  I also figure that nobody needs to hear another dysfunctional family story.  But in this season of family oriented holidays (and after reading posts of friends who I greatly respect), I thought I'd unwind and unburden myself of some of the baggage.  As always, the "Page DN" button can be a great ally in such circumstances.

My father's childhood was, I believe, something of a rarity at the time (the 1920s and 30s).  A broken home that resulted when one partner (my father's father) walked out.  My father's older brother chose to take the 'no strings' life while my father became the responsible one.  When I was a child, one of his regular lectures involved a reminder that he'd gone to work at 14 to support his mother and had still managed to take some college courses.  It caused a lifelong rift between my father and his brother.  The upshot was that I never knew much of my uncle and his family.  My father, like many depression era kids, embraced responsibility.  "You should be proud to have a job and be able to put food on your table" was his mantra.  Coloring between the lines, never taking risks, was his thing.

Mother, on the other hand, was a rebel.  Her traditional Brooklyn, NY Jewish roots gave birth to an outspoken independent woman who admired those that took the road less traveled as Frost so well described.  As a teenager, she joined a young Communist with her equally defiant friends (akin I imagine to being a hippie in the 60's), which infuriated my grandmother to no end.  Mother told me many times of coming home after a meeting to find her mother waiting on the front steps of their brownstone building and as often as not, would be slapped in the face for her insolence.  Mother, the rebel she was, was encouraged by such treatment.  It was the basis upon which she raised my sister and I.  There was always a push to be our own persons, to do what we wanted to do, the more unusual, the better.

What kept my parents married for over 50 years has always been a mystery to me.  Two very different personalities with diametrically opposed life philosophies would seem toxic.  However, they never fought as far as I know.  And they never showed much affection towards one another or to my sister or myself.  In hindsight, our home seemed a sterile place.  My father was a workaholic, using his job to hide from life and family.  High emotion was reserved for those times when my sister or I would venture outside my father's tightly defined lines or when my mother's college degree in Jewish guilt was used for discipline. 

My sister and I (she's five years younger) had next to nothing in common and fought continuously over the years of our youth.  She was the athlete, I was the intellectual.  I loved science and math.  She was artistic.  I attended college and (somehow) attained three engineering degrees.  She attended college in one or two semester bursts under pressure from my mother to do so and as a way to avoid working as my father would insist she'd do if she wasn't in school.

My sister, classically, moved out of my parent's home rather spectacularly.  She had somehow scraped up the money to fly to Los Angeles from New York to see friends, went to a party and was unexpectedly offered a job (which she was sure she'd love and of course didn't - but that's another story).  She picked up the phone, called my mother and instructed her to pack up her belongings and send them to LA as she had decided to move her life there.  I'm not certain how my father reacted (I'll get into why in a moment) but my suspicion is that he was somewhat relieved as he and my sister had had a 'fire and dynamite' relationship for much of their lives.

For myself, again in hindsight, I tried to be the 'between the lines' son my father wanted yet also attempted to dance to my own tune as my mother wished.  It wasn't an easy road.  I ended up in therapy in my teens and believe that it helped me grow greatly as a person.  Right or wrong, it amped my independence.  At around the age of 23, after I had moved away from home and was self-supporting, I realized that I could never be myself if I didn't move out from under my parents psychological roof.  And so I did.  In the following years I cut effectively all the ties I had had with my parents.  Was it the right choice?  Damned if I know.  A doubled edged sword certainly.

And so the twisted tale that is my life was forged.  No life lessons to impart.  No great hilarity nor great sorrow.  Just average, I think.  With show tunes.
rickps: (Tutu Boys)

As an unrepentant theater addict, I could argue that a show is much like a cake.  To obtain the best product, one must demand the highest quality ingredients, pay slavish attention to each preparatory step, provide just the right amount of time baking in the oven, and offer a stellar presentation to those that sit down to the feast. 

Using this rather lame analogy, last night's presentation of Bonnie and Clyde at the La Jolla Playhouse could be called half baked.  The ingredients are good - music by Frank Wildhorn (his prior confections include Victor/Victoria, Jekyll & Hyde, and The Scarlet Pimpernel), book by Ivan Menchell (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), lyrics by Don Black (too many accomplishments to mention), and direction/staging by Jeff Calhoun (Grey Gardens, Big River).  All were in attendance last night with Calhoun delivering a charming ad lib welcome before the show began.  Strong performances by leads Laura Osnes/Bonnie and Stark Sands/Clyde.  Songs that largely deliver on the 1930's feel of the time.  Clever, yet simple staging.  The production has real quality. 

So, half baked, eh?  Yep, but not for the reason you think.  Much like peeking into the oven before baking is complete, there are only hints of what may get served on your plate.  Last night's performance was, in fact, only the second open to the public.  Calhoun's intro made it clear that what we were to see was not the final product.  It seemed clear that some aspects of the show worked well while others were weak and clearly needed more baking time.

Will Bonnie and Clyde be a success?  No way to know.  But it was certainly a treat to be in the kitchen.

El Paso

Oct. 29th, 2009 06:42 pm
rickps: (Travel)

Thoughts following my one day work trip to El Paso -

It's a tired old city in what appears to be an unappealing part of Texas

Buildings over 3 stories must be considered skyscrapers

Mexican food was passable

El Paso, ahem, International Airport resembles Tara AFTER the fire

There are more military per square foot than I've ever seen.  And they all look 15 years old

Bearish types seemed in great abundance.  My unreliable gaydar kept pinging

...and the best part of El Paso - boarding the plane to leave

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Life's little coincidences continue to amaze me.  This week's example...

I know a total of two gents who drive trains for a living (one is LJ's own [livejournal.com profile] cuboz). 

Both are gay.  And if I may say so, both are charming handsome men.

I met them independently of one another.  Meetings were years apart.

Both live in Sydney, Australia.

I learned that they, in fact, know one another.

The statistical probability of this coincidental association is vanishingly tiny.  I say it again... amazing.

Or maybe I just like trains...

Time Out

Sep. 21st, 2009 03:08 pm
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I've always had a slight obsession (I wonder, is 'slight obsession' like being a 'little pregnant'?  But I digress...) with clocks.  Wind up clocks.  Alarm clocks.  Mantle clocks.  Grandparent clocks.  If it ran with a spring, I was and am intrigued (OK, fine, grandparent clocks work with weights.  Jeez, you're so technical!.

When I was a child, no clock escaped my grasp.  I'd pull off the back of my latest captive so I could see all the little wheels and gizmos go round.  In my child's mind, I figured that if I stared and poked at those whirly things, I'd understand how they all worked.  It was then I learned two key life lessons - (1) Parents lack a sense of humor; (2) Things disassemble a lot easier than they go back together.

In my teens, my mother inherited a mantle clock from her parents.  The beast looked right out of the Addams family and emitted sounds that only Morticia and Gomez could love.  Some 15 minutes before the hour, it would commence grinding and groaning, readying itself for what could very well have been its last attempt at ringing the hour.  And then, when the hour finally arrived, it would moan rather mournfully and 'bong' out the time.  Bong is probably too kindly a term as all of the inner workings would vibrate along with the coil of metal "bell".

That mantle clock came to us with one mechanical foot in the grave.  It begged to die quietly, dust covered on a shelf.  When it wasn't running too fast or too slow, it would inexplicably stop at random times in silent protest.  My mother, from whom I inherited stubbornness, would allow no such foolishness.  She cradled the clock in her arms as I drove (Mom never drove a car if I was around, and for good reason, but that is another story) to the home of a local clock fancier who, it was believed, would perform some miraculous cutting edge surgery that would not only raise the dead but also transmute the chronologic sows ear into a timekeeping silk purse.  It never happened, of course.  But I do remember vividly that the guy's home was covered floor to ceiling with clocks of all shapes and sizes.  I'd probably have decimated each one with my trusty tools were it not for his large lumpy and overly friendly dog, Digby who refused to leave me alone.  Smart dog.  The mantle clock had all the time (or perhaps it lacked the time now that I think of it) in the world.  It waited until my mother finally lost interest and allowed it to slip into eternity in its own little dust covered corner.

In the years since when I've had money of my own to burn, I've flirted with running hog wild and buying all sorts of watches and clocks, but I never have.  I wear the same watch each day, a 20 year old Seiko Kinetic for any who might care, and am thrilled that it reliably keeps excellent time and doesn't look all that bad.

And then, this past weekend, I succumbed after a decade of procrastination and frugality and purchased a lovely Chelsea maritime table clock...

Weighing a trifle less than the planet Jupiter, it ticks softly away.  At the half hour it insists on brightly chiming the bells of the naval 4 hour time cycle.  Crafted by what I'm told is a famous Boston area clock maker, it appears ready to tick into the next millennium and will likely outlive me.  It makes me smile.
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You know, when Michael Jackson passed away, it didn't impact me all that much.  The angst and hand wringing which splashed like a tidal wave all over the news following Jackson's unexpected death struck me as equally over-the-top as was his headline grabbing lifestyle.  Michael's music was always around as I moved into adulthood.  I particularly recall watching the Thriller video again and again, noting that this was one of the few performing artists who could sing and dance.  And at the same time!  His parting was a brief frigid gust of wind on an otherwise warm day.

Hearing the announcement of the death of Mary Travers last evening following a long battle with leukemia garnered a much different reaction.  The table of my musical life had had a leg removed.  No more was that silky voiced princess of folk's iconic Peter Paul and Mary to be heard again in live performance.  No more perfect harmonies.  No more songs of protest.

Why such a difference in reaction, I wonder?  Jackson was, by far, the bigger and longer lasting star.  More people around the world know the name Michael Jackson.  Both punctuated my musical life with sweet melodies.  In comparison, PP&M will never be remembered for their dancing while Michael's will never be forgotten.  But when Mary sang... This was vocalizing.  This was what harmony was all about.  With Peter and Paul, this defined the stunning power of the vocal group.  Those who know me well know that music is air for me, silence is abhorrent. 

It's a lot quieter today.

Mary, I'm going to miss you.  Greatly.
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Mary Travers of Peter Paul and Mary

1936 - 2009

The song is love

Pizza Pooh & Magpie
rickps: (Mommie Dearest)
What better way to break my LJ dry spell than with a rant...

I tend to be a non-joiner when it comes to internet chat groups.  For me, they're addictive time drains.  But, I decided to try out Facebook a couple of months ago, just to see what all the hype was about.  And what have I learned?


  • The “improved” FB web page has a headache inducing layout.  And no “how to get the most from FB” tutorial.  Why?  I dunno.
  • What possible interest to anyone but the player is there in Mafia War, Lollipop, Farmville, ad nauseum announcement postings?  Or is this the equivalent of web junk mail?  I apologize to my good friends if I don't do handsprings because they reached Level 37.
  • Why would a complete stranger who might have already friended someone you do know ask to be on your Facebook?  And they’re in Turkey.  And they don’t even post a picture of themselves.  If they already have 700+ friends, is it reasonable to expect that they’ll actually read anything I might post?

 Maybe there is a redeeming value to Facebook but I don't see it.

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The always entertaining, if not necessarily correct, Wikipedia, notes that Typhoid Mary was a nickname given to a woman in the late 1860's who, while not contracting the disease herself, spread typhoid to many of those around her.  I'm beginning to identify with Mary of late.

In the past couple of months, I've come to realize that the vast majority of those that I consider to be part of my inner circle of friends and close acquaintances are facing significant life issues.  Collapse of relationships, personal tragedy, life-threatening health issues, I seem to hear about another every day or two.  My heart goes out to these folks.  None deserve what has befallen them.  I find myself struggling to remain positive and offer what support I can.  It's not been easy but it's all that any of us can do.

At 60 and counting, I consider myself to be amazingly fortunate.  With a few blips, my health has been good.  I'm not in a relationship but don't have massive lingering angst from my partnering/dating past.  While I would question whether I've ever been particularly well balanced mentally, I'm no worse off today than I have ever been.  So, like Mary, I'm marching onward while so many around me are not.

It all makes me pause and climb onto my well-used soapbox... For all those I know that are in stable relationships, are healthy, gainfully employed, and so forth, remember those that are not so lucky.  The ever present tiny bumps in the road we all face don't appear so big when compared to the Everest's that others are climbing.

It's sad though that this is one Typhoid for which there will never be a cure.
rickps: (Pee and Poo)
As some may know, I've been working in the same basic field for the past 25 years or so. While the company name on the paycheck has changed from time to time (due to corporate reorganizations, acquisitions, changes in employment, and so on), my career has been fairly monolithic. Neither a good or bad thing, it just 'is'. About 10 years ago, I came to a somewhat shocking realization - upward advancement, while tempting, didn't necessarily make me happy. I managed somehow to find a level (project manager) at which I'm, in all modesty, quite good and am quite well regarded.

So what's wrong? My current work assignment isn't making my socks go up and down. It's nearly all routine, much is a repetition of tasks I've performed before. I'm bored and frustrated.

And I currently work in San Diego. Heaven for many but a short stroll from hell for me. This is not a condemnation of SD, it's a nice place with nice people. But like a steady diet of vanilla ice cream, it's sweet but ultimately unexciting.

The Bay Area works for me. Even after living there for 10 years, I never tired of each new day. A weekend visit leaves me energized. However, after applying for a number of Bay Area jobs outside the company, I've been unsuccessful at returning. I suspect that I've set some sort of record for coming in second. Standing after each knockdown blow is increasingly difficult.

Which brings us to yesterday. While checking the list of job openings I came across one with my current employer in the Bay Area, much to my surprise. Pay is right, location is right, I know and believe that I can work with the gent that would be my supervisor. I believe that I have an extremely strong chance of winning the prize. So why isn't my application in a landing pattern over someone's desk? Because the position is an upward step into a relatively high stress, work 'til midnight four nights a week kind of job. Will I win San Francisco but not be able to enjoy it?

It is a puzzlement.
rickps: (Movie)

I detest meme's and lists.  Really.  While there may be some bizarre fascination in sharing your ten favorite positions for clipping your toenails, I tend to resist such postings.  Except for this one...

Over this past weekend while in conversation with some friends, I uttered the conversation killer question of all time... "What are your 10 desert island movies?"

Yes, I went there.  And here's my list:

  1. All That Jazz
  2. Blazing Saddles
  3. Citizen Kane
  4. LA Story
  5. Ordinary People
  6. Rear Window
  7. Schindler’s List
  8. Steel Magnolias
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird
  10. Twelve Angry Men

 Bonus Disk – Twister (special effects)

I offer no apologies for my blatant lack of taste or appalling conversational skills. 

rickps: (Professor Frink)
Way back in February when we were all a lot younger and much more innocent, I posted a dull little ditty about my addiction to gadgets, the more complex, the better.  It was a happy little post, full of humorous anecdotes and clever witticisms.  Great reading... if you're in a coma.

But there was a dirty backstory.  You knew there was, didn't you?  Nobody could own so many state-of-the-art technical marvels and not suffer from something worse than dwindling cash.  Yes, I've learned...

There seems to be an axiom regarding technogeekery.  One must never reach a point in life when all those gadgets are simultaneously working as advertised.  One device or another must be afflicted with some mysterious malady which renders the devices tech support team speechless except to say "we've never seen that before". 

Scheduling a service call will always fix whatever is wrong.  For a week or until you begin to forget that there was ever a problem with the device.  When the failure does re-occur, it's usually announced by a mushroom cloud of smoke and debris akin to Hiroshima.  Which always voids any warranty.

Live with any gadget for a week and you'll suddenly realize that the damn thing would be near perfect if the manufacturer would have only (fill in the blank).  But they didn't, who knows why.  And then in six months time, suddenly, every similar device on the market comes standard with (fill in the blank).  Which makes you feel like a doofus for buying so soon.

And finally, the less you like a gadget that you've foolishly acquired, the more reliable and bulletproof it will be.  Upon your death (usually from apoplexy brought on by gadget failure), this unloved device will be placed on your grave by someone near and dear to you.  Where it will work flawlessly until the end of time.  Or the batteries go dead.



Jul. 6th, 2009 08:09 am
rickps: (Professor Frink)
A question to all those Mac-istas out there...

Favored LJ cliient?  Do tell!
rickps: (Default)

Although it's hardly a unique story in the gay community, my father and I weren't friends.  Shortly after I turned 22, he and I stopped communicating.  In retrospect, I think it worked out for the best for us both.  But here, the day after Fathers Day, I'm recalling the car he drove for more years than I care to remember.

(Not quite the faded green, way too shiny, and missing the andiron bumpers but close)

My father purchased new a 1953 Ford 2 door 'Customline' coupe, his first car.  A nondescript dark green, the paint faded almost immediately due, he insisted, to an experiment by Ford gone bad.  It was a serious no-nonsense vehicle, little flare, no clever optional equipment that would have made it collectible.  It was before the era of the huge fender 'fins' of the 50's although the tail lights resembled two gunsights I always thought.  The car fit my father somehow.  If we needed to go somewhere, it was in that Ford.  Snow, rain, cold, Long Island summer heat, the steel lump that powered the beast rumbled its way along the miles, my father at the wheel, his face calm but stern as he maneuvered through traffic.

My memory of the car is rusty because the Ford in later years seemed more rust than metal.  My father's practical streak extended to making the car "safer" by adding gigantic chrome bumpers, front and rear that looked as if they'd been stolen from a mansion's fireplace.  I think he was proud of those andiron monstrosities because they spoke of his infallible logic (at least in his mind).  And like the rest of the car, they rusted, gaping holes in the corners.  My father ignored them.  The car ran and that was good enough for him.

His stubborn insistence that the Ford would survive for all eternity knew few bounds.  When the body of the car began to settle, the passenger's side door developed the habit of flying open unexpectedly.  My father's solution - wrap a thick mesh dog collar around the door pillar and it's rear companion holding the door shut under all circumstances.  However, it also meant that when the family traveled, we entered and exited like circus clowns, all from the single functioning door on the driver's side.  It also meant that the front and rear windows needed to be rolled down sightly to make room for the collar.  When it rained, those unfortunates on the passenger's side got wet.  In winter, the cold air would blow around the interior, fighting the heater's attempt to keep us all warm.  But the Ford started and ran.  My father was satisfied.

And so the years slid past the Ford's flanks.  A little more rust accumulated each year.  The abundant chrome accents of the era slowly lost their gleam.  But it ran on and on.  When we moved to a slightly more upscale community, the Ford came along, looking out of place next to driveways filled with gleaming late model glamor land yachts.  Finally, as much with people as with mechanical devices, the Ford would unexpectedly stop running from time to time.  After a particularly frightening cut-out on the Long Island Expressway, my mother finally insisted that Ford needed to go.  When the new car arrived and the Ford was driven away for the last time, I think my father felt the loss more than the rest of us.  His faithful friend was gone.

Yesterday afternoon I mused how much that Ford and my father were similar.  Nondescript, no nonsense, practical to a fault, never sacrificing functionality for flare, fading slowly into the background, yet rumbling through life while staying between the lines of society.  His few quirks tightly strapped shut to keep us inside.  I don't miss my father, but the memories remain sharp. If a little rusted.

rickps: (Professor Frink)

Apple-savvy user query...

Yes, after a lifetime as a PC owner, I'm contemplating purchase of an Apple MacBook Pro (likely the new 13" laptop).  My question is regarding software and specifically, what is "must have".  I've already determined that I should purchase Parallels Desktop.  Beyond that, I've no idea.


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