February 1, 2016 § Leave a comment
November 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
Having passed the half century mark I am subject to a few quirks and quarrels. For instance, it is now unlikely that I will ever be a professional sports follower. Also, I find video games to be stupid, cell phones unnecessarily ubiquitous, and Facebook mind-destroying. People shouldn’t drive when they can take a bus, or to rephrase, people shouldn’t drive. I think consumerism, greed, hypocrisy, and ignorance are all heads on the same monstrous body we know as commerce.
My opinions, especially at this hour of the morning, may seem draconian, but they are here for you to read. I’m just one person with one brain, wobbly sleepy synapses, having just gotten up after a bad dream about going to work at Starbucks and being put on frappucino duty, thinking about how annoyed I am that for ten seconds yesterday in the break room at work I watched an alleged journalist accuse liberal pols of sending the message that “voters are dumb”. I winced, but then I realized that among my thickly huddled beliefs is this little pipsqueak in the back:
American democracy has long been overtaken by corporate interests and, more specifically, the individuals who profit from them. Conservative politicians are only in it for the money, unless they are so naive as to think that they are actually fulfilling some moral manifest by foisting their sexist, racist, homophobic visions on a community that is actually trying to live and work together in harmony.
So, yes, it might be true that I think people who vote against gun legislation and for open carry, who deny climate change, who deny women their reproductive rights, who think only straight people can have a family, who continue to buy gas guzzlers – thereby maintaining the profit margins of oil companies who “own” the destruction of the planet, who view the ideals of liberty and justice as only pertaining to themselves, who teach kids that evolution is a lie, who feel a sense of entitlement so strongly that they grab and keep everything within reach and take it away from others, who do not want to pay taxes because “it’s my money”, who wish America was the way it used to be (when? in slavery days? before suffrage? when it was run by a bunch of rich white thieves? oh… wait that’s now…), who mistake media visibility for integrity, who mistake bully tactics for morality, who mistake racist propaganda for journalism, are dumb.
But that’s only my opinion.
November 7, 2014 § Leave a comment
Ikea and their ilk, in their practice of keeping the particle board manufacturers in business and the sidewalks blocked with almost once-useful hunks of computer workstation, may have stuck such pursuits out behind the shed, but the pleasures of building-your-own will never fade. Anyone who has ever taken a shop class from an instructor who could thump you in the chest with his shortened index finger for not wearing eye protection will attest to the pride that may be taken in the conversion of a pile of pine into a shiny new shelving unit or a do-it-yourself doghouse. My dad taught me how to do many things and sanding was one of them. Instrumental, however, in my handyman education, were the stacks of Popular Mechanix and other DIY materials that accumulated around the basement.
After 30 years of apartment dwelling it is a relief to be in our new home, hanging pegboard downstairs and installing shelves in the closets with my own two hands (all fingers still intact, as of this writing). Every weekend I look down the stairs wistfully at the basement clutter, mentally mapping the solid teak rec room and the mud room with a view. And the shop: a good, solid workbench with a mounted vise. A table saw. Pegboard everywhere, with hanging tools silhouetted in red. Mini floods dousing the area in pure and clarifying light. And I, in shop glasses, Red Wings, and well-worn Pendleton, humming along with the radio executing one masterpiece of mid-century handcrafted genius after another, as found in the pages of Workbench, 35 cents / March-April / 1968.
November 4, 2014 § 1 Comment
There are three in particular, ongoing, since last week: Beethoven’s 7th Symphony- II Allegretto, Lalo Schifrin- Renaissance (from the Marquis de Sade LP) and The Kinks- Village Green. There are similarities, in mode and even melody. I can hear the strains of a potential mash-up (that’s an idea straight out of 2003) but more to the point, one psychological instance of music seems to trigger the other so they ping-pong from tune to tune. Of course, it’s not like I’m listening to the entirety of any piece. The experience is a little more like a very limited radio playlist that only has a few songs on constant rotation. They are pleasant companions and can be set aside for external music but when there is nothing else pressing the talkback, the melodies emerge from their little holes in the mulchy recesses and start spinning their tunes. Ohrwürmer.
In my new job, which shall remain nameless, I listen to clandestine radio broadcasts on a telephonic earpiece meant for monitoring the frustrations of faraway colleagues. Low fidelity, but considering that only a couple of decades ago I would stay up all night with a shortwave Grundig just to get a quick sample of BBC World Service (what a way to be introduced to Apache Indian!) the experience is comforting more akin to strapping a transistor radio to my head. Except I can listen to BBC Radio 3 on this transistor. I won’t advertise the streaming platform service here, especially because I find their own campaign incredibly obnoxious. But in a long ago place, such magic was only dreamt of. Then again, so was the notion of speaking to faraway colleagues real-time kvetching.
With my radio headset (I imagine myself in a trench on the Maginot line, wading through the detritus of war, listening for a friendly word from Tokyo Rose, or the latest from Creedence, or anything to get me through another night of shelling) I allow the worms some time off, which they repay in the early morning hours by surviving and growing stronger, inviting more critters to join them in this cozy head. And not just music, but ideas and impulses.
August 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
Now that JR is in daycare twice a week, her mother and I can afford to alter our conflicting work schedules to spend one out of seven days together at home with kid and dog, and if not at home at least out in the world of culture and beauty. We have some grand plans- museums, daytrips, tide pools, church, zoos, etc. After a couple of slow starts (house cleaning and Ikea Sundays) we are finally out the door today to Gold Country for a friends’ wedding. We have a dog sitter lined up and a nice new pink sun hat for JR.
I work from home sometimes devising crafty archival software implementations and other DP efforts. Although it has more to do with making myself available to take care of JR, I find it to be productive time- especially late at night. Only the whirring of drives and the occasional dog snore can be heard as I pore over my directories and xml schema. Once in a while I hear something from the bedroom- if JR needs more milk I pop up and grab it and get back to my desk. No other interruptions. These are the benefits of working from home (or elsewhere entirely- I recently arranged a collection of digital data sitting out on my in-laws’ back porch in rural Florida watching the cardinals flit back and forth across the garden.)
I am lucky in that my spouse (a librarian) understands my enthusiasm for my work, and that she also knows a rabbit hole when she sees one. If I need to talk out a description problem, she is there to provide a professional opinion. Also, she alone can shake me out of work mode and make me get into some walking shoes when I have stared at the screen for too long. She is my inspiration in many ways.
JR can’t read or write code yet, but she likes to sort watercolor markers and put them into her yogurt bucket. She is a good dancer and likes to sing, so we play music together whenever we can, she on atonal autoharp, I on banjo. I look forward to our future conversations and adventures, including today’s.