Entry 08/07/2016 05:00:00 AM – Mentat 1147
Having failed to take a nap for a second time this afternoon, when I shambled my ass out of bed a little while ago, it had dawned on me that I couldn’t for the life of me remember the last time I wrote a diary entry that would go out to the world. The first question that came to mind was, “has it been that long?” followed closely by the stampede of, “if I can’t remember, it must be that long…” with, “nah, it couldn’t be…”, mixed with feelings that old age has begun to get the better of me, through the fleeting thought of Alzheimer scares. It was promptly concluded with checking one of the two sites that I routing visit (though rarely post to) confirming it was almost three months since the last time I had the gumption to posting anything to the world. Though you can tell by the numerical system I have traditionally used for my entries that it’s been a mere 59 entries since then. Eh, I’m not surprised really.
Some of the events that have occurred since the last time I sat down to write includes some of the following insanity:
For Emancipation Day, I have deleted my account from Deviant Art. The straw that broke the camel’s back on that was watching the management of a chat area I used to frequent either tripping over their tampon string or channeling the worst possible elements of Scorned Woman Syndrome. I watched with horror as my perspective of the place transformed to a niche area for sanity and artistic good nature to exactly as it’s been laid out on the Encyclopedia Dramatica entry. While it was a good 8 years there which I had been introduced to the site thanks to Damion — after that incident of ban-hammering people for the slightest transgressions — I felt it was long since time I moved on. While I’m in a lull when it comes to fractal art at the moment, my art can typically be found on WordPress and Flickr where I continue to maintain my presence even if it’s a shadow of my former self.
Thanks largely to the media circus of the Presidential Elections here in my country, I’ve been avoiding sharing my opinion on any of the normal sites that I still frequent as well: namely Twitter, Facebook and Google+. There have been times I’ve considered completely deleting my account from Facebook given my family and at least 1 friend has gone of their rockers and posting/re-sharing based on ad hominem feelings against the candidates. And there have been more than a handful of times none of them have done any fact checking their re-shares, which is enough to get my knickers in a twist as I’m sitting there and having to perform the fact-checking necessary for peace of mind. What’s funny is that I tend to either respond to completely superfluous wall-entries, or food if only to prove I’m still alive.
I think this dour attitude of mine started on Twitter when a former work-mate had been blasting tweets in a deluge fashion neither fact checking either, or worse, simply whinging for the sake of it, about government, about freedoms curtailed and even about first world problems. There had been numerous times during his tweet spamming that I thought about commenting sharply in his direction, “…if you want change in government, become an activist… don’t blast your woes in 140 characters hoping others will make those changes for you…” Instead, I tried out the feature of Muting and have been happier with the clear lack of noise and friction from that part of the world.
Consequently I’ve been doing the same on Facebook with moderate success. Still, the impulse to delete my account there exists even if it’s a bit quieter.
I have (once again) lost complete interest in television. While I don’t tend to watch too much I think I’ve completed watching to the last series finale two shows since the beginning of the year: Shadowhunters and The Flash. Daredevil I gave up after episode 3 into the second season because while Jon Bernthal was believable in his role of Frank Castle (Punisher), there was something off-putting about the intensity. I believe it had something to do with just how bloody angst-riddled the character was. I never got back into Jessica Jones because every episode I watched of that, I felt like I needed a bath… in Clorox… to get over the feeling of just how dirty I felt watching it. Anything else, I stopped my re-watches to try to get back into the shows after a long hiatus from them… All because of the amount of tropes I was catching in them snapping the back of my ability to suspend my disbelief with a sickening crack.
The biggest disappointment out of my television woes goes to Legends of Tomorrow having bailed on that show after the second episode. While I was sort of looking forward to seeing Arthur Darvill again since his departure from Doctor Who, the reality distortions of him playing Rip Hunter — (ex-)Member of the Time Masters — were just too much for me to separate the juxtaposition from Time Lords and Doctor Who. Well that and watching (Wentworth) Miller and (Dominic) Purcell being together since Prison Break also utterly distorted my ability to suspend disbelief as well.
Movies have suffered worse since March. While I found myself morbidly enjoying Henry Rollins’ performance in He Never Died, remember liking the humor of Deadpool, and waiting patiently for Brenton Thwaites to being shirtless in Gods of Egypt (it didn’t happen); my interest in Allegiant disappeared within the first five minutes when the movie had to establish that the outside world announced those living in Chicago to come out of the walls (which never happened in the book). Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice within 10 minutes where they had to retcon Affleck in the Metropolis destruction scenes from Man of Steel. I shut that movie off when there Affleck is, squatting down giving the girl a hug and looking all angry at the fight between Zod and Superman that recalled this skit from Jack Whitehall. Yep, I bailed faster than you can say, ‘off like a kelly-green, polyester prom dress…’ And as far as I can tell — there’s nothing on the horizon at the moment that I would want to see — and that’s not going to be changing in the months to come.
The deskside has been converted to Windows 10… finally. Two days before the deadline to boot. I wanted to do a clean install on the system drive without taking up more space with the messy conversion from Windows 7. I also wanted to confirm that with the Product Key I have for Windows 7 Ultimate would convert to Windows 10 Pro. It did. Well that and I wanted to ensure all the bugs I had experienced with Windows 10 on my laptop would have been completely smoothed out by the time I got it on the deskside. With it, I still have more than one language pack loaded in (English and Japanese based on my experience with both), Bitlocker, and the Policy Editor for passwords and password control (among other features too numerous to mention based on Active Directory skills I’m familiar with). Since installing Windows 10, I’ve also set the password locally (in spite of the mistake of installing an app from the Microsoft Store that had changed my login to my Hotmail account). So we’ll see if the password change reminder is working correctly with Windows 10 as it stopped working in Windows 7 a long time ago. Now all I have to do is get all the specialized words in the custom dictionary loaded back up… Something that never made the backup from the old system to the new. Eh, a small loss on the whole if I do say so myself.
My UPS of 8 years is beginning the slow process of dying the slow death and the battery is no longer working according to spec. While I’m sure that I could get a replacement battery for the thing (and install it on my own), the fact is that at least 2 of the plugs in the back (on the surge suppressor side) have suffered damage of some sort or another and are no longer operating properly so, it’s better to be safe than sorry. While the replacement UPS (same make and model) should be in sometime this week, I need to play extra-carefully running the PC and Air Conditioners in this house ensuring I neither brown-out or blow a fuse. When the house has a brown-out and tries to draw power from the battery as a boost, it will shut down the UPS (and the computer) abruptly; pretty much the same as a blackout. The alarms will sound, I will check to ensure it’s not a blown fuse and then I have to take 20 minutes to reset the UPS and then bring the PC back up. Not fun.
Summer has been annoying here in the Tundras of New England. There have been a few moments where the weather’s been beautiful for the summer months, there have been more times where the raging humidity has made it impossible for me to either sleep or exercise. While it hasn’t been as bad as I remember living in the South more than a decade ago, as I’ve become acclimated to the weather of the north — there have been more than a few moments where I felt like I should be melting onto the sidewalk because the heat and humidity. Since taking the medications for Hypertension, I swear I’ve become far more irritable with the high humidity than I used to be last year as I seem to want more comfortable temperatures around the house. Hence the want for running the A/C whenever possible. In fact, since I’ve become more used to taking these medicines and being more aware of the body changes, I could swear I can tell the difference between a Northern Thunderstorm and a Southern. Northern storms are wet, cooler and don’t have half of the amount of heat and ambient humidity as they are in the south.
Because of this and the fact that I’m warned against prolonged exposure to strong direct sunlight, walking has become a more difficult now than during the Autumn through Spring Months. Because of it, I’ve done my best to keeping busy when I can, and definitely adjusting my intake when I can’t. I’ve slacked more than I should and while I’m not getting 10,000+ steps a day, I try my best to keeping as active as possible with the 250 steps/hour challenge currently being offered. This has been making Moe pretty damned happy as he seems to like being picked up and held over my shoulder as I walk around the house. About the only thing he doesn’t seem to like is being in the rooms with A/C on. Something about it being cooler than usual along with the noise that they make seems to be off-putting to him, so off to the un-air conditioned bedroom he goes during the day. Doesn’t seem to mind the heat other than the occasional loneliness of me not being around so he’ll make his way out of there to check up on me.
And with that, I’ve covered everything — pretty much — for the last couple of months. Off to meet the day as I always do.. On the bridge of the USS Retrospect fighting enemies of the Federation or being a Tenno checking out the Origin System of the Orokin. I haven’t decided which as both entertain me more than television ever could.
Michael’s First Blog on the Net | One of many blogs, this one dates back the farthest
Entry 03/08/2015 07:36:05 AM – Mentat 899
At the end of last week, I found myself rather surprised that an acquaintance of mine has blocked me from Twitter and removed me from his feed. I found myself taking it rather personally because I was left without word as to why it had happened, and that it simply changed in the course of a couple of hours. I also took it personally because like all the sites that I frequent — from WordPress, Deviant Art, Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook — I usually discriminate based on the feeling that such acquaintances (and friends) are usually there to stay for the long haul. They often know that good and bad, I have an opinion and I’m going to share it. Be it affirmatively, be it as the contrarian that I often am. Be it off-sided, and sometimes even off-colored, I share it and try to do so eloquently (or in the 140 character limit of Twitter: Succinctly).
The straw that broke the camel’s back for this acquaintance: he posted one of this daily inspirational quotes. One from Steve Jobs.
My answer, while be from one of the more comic sites (Cheezburger.com) covered rather poignantly some of the epic douche-baggery of Steve Jobs in his years while he was running Apple Corporation and had his hooked sunk into Pixar Entertainment. Let’s face it — anything inspirational and/or prophetic from this man had to have been generated within the well known reality-distortion field that Mr. Jobs used to spin himself the messiah of all things Apple/Macintosh.
This of course wasn’t the first time. A couple of weeks before this acquaintance mis-attributed a quote to Thomas Edison of which I’m well familiar to that man’s douche-baggery during his years of feuding with Nikola Tesla, suspected that if he had ever said it, it was stolen. (I was since corrected by another of this acquaintance’s followers that the quote he had attributed to Edison had come into creation a few decades after Edison’s death).
I even commented to him as succinctly as possible (in a private communiqué) that he should do some research into some of the quotes that he was pulling to inspire his followers that from as these two — Edison and Jobs — are proof positive of the saying, “the rat race is over, the rats won”.
The thing is that I have equal rancor for not only Edison and Jobs, but Gates, Ballmer, (Michael) Dell, (Steve) Case and a host of others that people often try to paint as the pioneers of the Information Age. I don’t tend to put it all up front; I usually do it opportunistically based on whether or not they’re mentioned. Because from my perspective, it’s that often the quotes people attribute to many of these people as inspirational were often used in the middle of some of the most vapid PR campaigns generated in the 20th Century. Campaigns used to cover-up not only their vices and villainy, but much of the vices and villainies of the peers of their time. They also been shown to have relied on the strengths of others (Wozniak for Apple comes readily to mind; I know there was one or two on Microsoft’s side, but I can’t recall them off the top of my head) and took the credit for those accomplishments. But I’m not here to go down the dark and often barbed rabbit hole on this, I’m talking more personally…
Through the weekend while I was working through this surprise (and disappointment), I performed a quick inventory of this budding friendship and realized it was entirely one-sided. He never made a favorite nor commented on anything that I ever created. Even so far as never followed me to see what I was going to create next. He never showed any curiosity for anything that I made, wrote or talked about unless it was referenced directly to him.
This isn’t friendship Michael, I thought to myself. Far from it; this is one-sided.
I then took an inventory of this acquaintance’s actions and realized that with extremely rare exceptions, a majority of his actions and activities were the sort of self-absorbed drivel I would expect of someone wanting followers and fans. The sort of followers and fans that only have stars and likes (and favorites) to flourish, and ne’er an opposing word to anything spouted by this acquaintance. Looking at this inventory, I got the strongest impression, what he wanted were supplicants for his cult of personality… In order to make money.
I readily admit, I might be intentionally villainizing him in a method of handling the hurt and surprise in an adolescent fashion. So to balance this immaturity out (just a little) I’ll say something less villainizing: I don’t damn him for taking his talent and making money from it. Music-making is tough enough in this dog-eat-dog world. Lord knows I understand this intimately from fellow artists (painters, sculptors, fractal artists, jewelry makers, the list goes on) that the only time the kind of art I practice makes money when the artist (that created it) is dead. I applaud his attempts at generating revenue from it — even from a single song. I might not personally relate to his music, but others do and that’s something to be respected.
The thing is that I don’t respect his thoughtform that he’s been subtly creating, A thoughtform that I should blindly worship him. That I should be the visions of light, goodness and softness for all that he spouts to the world around him. For failing to being this vision, I should be punished (by exclusion) when I go beyond that myopic vision of how people should act around him. Because the last thing I’ll ever be is part of anyone’s advertising machine. (After all, I believe that if they or their product cannot sell itself, no amount of my pushing it will do the same). Nor will I ever see them as anything less than an equal: and being equal means that you get the good with the bad. The agreement with the disagreement. The praise with the criticism.
For another acquaintance from years gone by had hit the nail on the head when he commented on my personality and the years of crotchety, snarky and acerbic rebuttals from the likes of me on a public newsgroup when he said:
Merrick is Dr Leonard McCoy. The barbs! The barbs! Not to mention professional brilliance, sharp opinions and scathing wit! Nonsense–even of the superficially logical sort–will not go unchallenged by either of these men. Two of the most colorful characters on Star Trek and ATSTV, Bones and Merrick are in a class of their own. You gotta love the way they blurt out their opinions, devil-may-care, if you don’t like it, that’s just too damn bad! Original and unique, they will never go unheard. They may be masters of irony, but the most ironic thing of all is that underneath the acerbic jabs are men of great sensitivity and tremendous heart.
I never crafted this attitude, I simply was me — spouting (or sharing) my opinion. Debating against one side (or the other), trying to create balance through the actions of both sides trying to create a perspective. Critiquing what I was seeing as weakness in the hopes of garnering strength. Tearing down strength(s) when they appeared to be hubris. And most importantly working towards optimistic visions while cutting away from the dreck and dross to find the germ (of the grain) and gem (of the jewel).
So with all this — a door has been closed. Time to move on — into the world — continuing to be me.
And what door has been opened? Why just the sort of job I’ve been missing for years. Yes, it’s a tech support job. Yes, it’s something that I’m rather talented at doing. And most importantly; yes, it’s on third shift. You heard it here — I’m going to be Nightbreed once again. I’m going to be missing from my usual postings, commenting and usual Day-Walker shenanigans for the rest of the month, but after that what was done during the day will be done in the middle of the night. The best part is that it’s just over 3 miles (4.8 km) from the house which means that for the spring through the autumn I can walk it (in an hour), ride it (in about 40 minutes or less, it’s pretty even terrain from here to there) and avoid the butt-loads of traffic through the major streets at the butt-crack of dawn or late in the evening. Best of all, I can return to the usual giggles and guffaws of watching my fellow homo sapiens in the morning, being complete zombies as they head to work while I’m heading home to sleep.
I’ll tell the story about this — once I’ve started the job. Until then, that’s enough from me because I really don’t want to jinx it any more than I have than mentioning it here. I’m going to wander off for the time being. Off to play a little before I head to bed. Until the next time.
Entry 01/28/2015 07:47:35 AM – Mentat 863
So the first big snowstorm has hit the area and moved on. While I’m a bit hesitant branding it the “Blizzard of 2015” I can safely say it was a blizzard. While it wasn’t as bad as the Blizzard of 1978 that I can still easily recall, it was certainly worse than most of the snowstorms that we’ve had hit the area since I’ve moved back to the Tundras of New England in 2006. I know I’ll be going out there shortly, but refuse at the moment because I need to eat and then I need to have my coffee before I face any heavy activity that’s coupled with geniality with my neighbors. If I skip out on the coffee, the neighbors could face the Wrath of Michael™… An ugly monster that makes Michael Myers (of Halloween fame) look like Susie Homemaker. But I digress. The purpose of this is both observations and chastisements. To the media, to the Local and State Governments and finally to the Citizens at large. This is based on the observations and experiences I’ve had both as the teenager in 1978 and the middle-aged man that I now am in 2015.
While I know that compassion should be practiced in order to yield positive results, the issues that I’m going to address here require force, passion and strength to initiate the necessary breakings of bad habits in order to transform them to better habits.
To Channels 6, 10, and 12… To the local AM & FM radio stations that contributed to this… To the Producers, Managers, Meteorologists and even Directors that control broadcasting of this information to the general public. Doppler weather and all these supposed tools boasted on each of the channels that are easily access to all you — the meteorologists to get pinpoint weather accuracy — should be able to tell you when the storm is going to hit, how hard it’s going to hit, and what areas are going to be impacted the hardest. Yet today, you’re no more nor less accurate since the Blizzard that hit in 1978. You still have an equal amount of misses as you do successful predictions.
There’s a saying, “A meteorologist can be more than 80% wrong, and still keep their jobs…”
With this in mind, this doesn’t mean that for rating’s sake you should be broadcasting up to the minute news on the storm beating the brush like hunters to cause the public to fall into a state of panic. Sure, you’ve been fortunate… So far… that injuries and/or deaths have not occurred by the panic that was caused by the sensationalistic reporting of this storm as “The Blizzard of 2015!” and then continued to beat on that phrase like teenagers to a new slang word from Urban Dictionary (or for you business types like the new catchphrase of new technology).
But, it’s only a matter of time before the panic caused by this sensationalism does in fact injure or kill someone.
The fact is, as I have reached the half-century mark I have seen that the social climate has indeed been more prone to panic now than what I remember of the 70s and 80s. While I would like to find and blame a culprit to this (and know it’s not 9/11 in this case, but it did contribute), the fact is that it’s a scary world and the irresponsible method for reporting the news all for the sake of ratings smacks of harum-scarum. Yellow-Journalism. The kind of sensationalism that creates needless fear, uncertainty and doubt (of FUD as I used to call it in various discussions) and causes people to draw the wrong conclusions at the wrong times.
So you channels and the news teams that run those channels missed the call in 1978 when that blizzard hit. I get it. But at the same time it doesn’t mean that you — the people that bring such news — need to overcompensate each and every year since 1978 by scaring people needlessly and witlessly?
It doesn’t take much for you (the meteorologists, directors or producers), to look out the window, get out on the streets, even drive in traffic to see the panic your news reports of this storm have created. Hell, get an intern to report it back to you.
Taking my daily walk around 4 PM on Monday night, I saw the panic it was creating by the traffic jams, the stops ups, the bottlenecks and the panic-induced anger in drivers rushing to get out of the city (of Providence). The routine horn-blowing that I heard when I was walking Broadway was mildly amusing, but hearing it when I was coming up Federal Street was extremely sad given it was near constant and could see on the streets that emptied onto Broadway that the traffic had completely stopped.
Finally don’t put the blame for your lack of responsibility of reporting to the masses that follow you. Don’t blame them for the panic that was caused. You’re equally responsible for the blame for the panic created with the masses for those news reports, interruptions and “up-to-the-minute” weathercasts that went out from the morning when it was discovered a storm was coming to well after 6 PM when there was about an inch of snow on the ground.
If you don’t think you’re responsible, ponder this. Screaming “fire” in a crowed theater means the person doing that screaming is liable for all damage and/or panic caused by the participants at that theater. When it does end up being proven a death or a number of deaths were caused by your shield clattering about this weather — in the Litigious Society – It’s only a matter of time before someone gets it into their head to sue the channel they were watching. Do we actually have to wait until this happens before you channels (and the teams that run them) learn to cut back and learn sensibility? You might think that you’re protected by the First Amendment and the subsequent laws that were made to cover the media… But in a Mommy Government keep it up and watch how those rights that have protected you whittle down to nothing.
Local & State Government
To the current Governor and announcements made in the early afternoon. I understand that you wanted to feel responsible for the voting public in the coming storm. At the same time, declaring a state of emergency and also putting a travel ban into effect at midnight from early afternoon smacked of the same irresponsibility that the News had about beating the public into a frenzy. Strange, I know that a state of emergency can be called at any time, yet my experience with them up until the 21st century has been that it’s done after the fact and not before. You (and your office) are equally to blame for the panic that I was seeing on the streets.
Don’t get me wrong, for the most part the state government’s answering to the growing panic was good. Though, it could have been better. While my suggestions that I have in my head smack of violating the First Amendment of government interfering with the media, I think something needs to be worked out between the state and the news sources in acting far more responsible for the current good of the public instead of one source causing the fires and the other source trying its best to putting the fires out.
To the Current Mayor of Providence, before you go patting yourself on the back on how well you did, allow me to point out something that continued since your predecessor: Angel Tavares. That is the irresponsible allocation of city resources to the plowing of the streets of the City of Providence. From my house on Piedmont Street in Federal Hill, I heard plows going up the street (on Piedmont) with some regularity well past 10 PM when there was nothing more than a couple of inches of snow on the ground. Having woke up several times through the night, I saw well into the early morning little snowfall or drifting until almost 5 AM when it began picking up. When I was out attempting to shovel exits from my door and the door of the house at 6 Piedmont St (where my mother lives), I could see heavy plows (the size of dump trucks) routinely plowing Atwells Ave.
Sometime before 2:30 PM on Tuesday it appeared that a plow did make an attempt to go up Piedmont Street and stopped at 6 Piedmont causing a road block larger than a hook and ladder could push through; making it impossible to pass if there had been any fire on this street. Or even an ambulance if there were a medical emergency. Sure the fire hydrant that supplied this area of Piedmont street was in fact cleared, thanks largely to the high winds that whipped through the area, but would have been useless because of the wall of snow created by that one attempt would cause a stop and delay of the fire department trying to respond.
While it was nice that the trucks did resume plowing up Piedmont and Adams Street after 7 PM, waking up this morning, the residents saw that not only was the fire hydrant was completely buried but any sander that was plowing the street had the distributor for that sand and salt set too high and ended up sanding the banks of snow against the side of the road and not the road itself!
What a complete mismanagement of resources! As I said this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this. I’ve seen this in the years I’ve lived in the Valley and had to trudge up Federal Hill to make sure my mother was doing all right. Plows pushing about the streets when there’s little snow, and then disappear when the real storm starts. Because of this poor activity and mismanagement of resources, I get the distinct impression that the Department of Public Works was told to “look busy” at the beginning of the storm and then told to back off until much later.
This is how you save money? By looking busy when the accumulated snow is low to the ground and then disappear when the real storm hits?!?
Quite the change since I was in elementary school and through junior and senior high school (and after the Blizzard of 1978) when I recall seeing the plows out on the streets when there was more than 4 inches of snow accumulated on the ground regardless of the time. It didn’t matter whether it was 10 PM, 2 AM, 4 AM or any other time of the day and night. When it was a hazard to drive, the Department of Public Works was out plowing — regardless of cars (and parking bans) out on the street.
These employees knew of the hazards and the responsibilities of doing their job. They knew that it was potentially a 24 hours a day on-call job and worked them. They knew that it was also for the safety of the city and the residents coming in and going out of the city. And talking to a couple in recent years, I know that these plow operators smile when they mention how much money they get for being on-call. So it’s not a matter of initiative that they do what they do; it’s a matter of being authorized. So that blame falls on you — and your office — to getting it done correctly. While I might not be a fan of you or your predecessor, I know in the past other mayors have been able to “getting it done”, so it raises the question: What’s your excuse?
You want an attaboy? All right, I’ll give you one… For you, your office and the Department of Public Works for putting Adams Street back on the plowing map. While it seriously needs salting, both my neighbors and I have commented that this year, “was the best we had seen Adams Street in a long time…” Had your predecessor gave that road the same attention during his time in office, my mother wouldn’t have spent the first five months of the 2014 year in the hospital and housebound for the broken hip she had suffered from the 6 inches of snow and ice that were left on Adams Street last year for being neglected from routine city plowing because there happened to be no houses facing onto that street. Don’t worry though, we’re not the sort of people to bring the city to court for this neglect. We prefer to bitch about it when the time’s right. And the time is right.
This attaboy is conditional, of course, because the Department of Public Works is also responsible for the Atwells Avenue Bridge above Route 6 that always is a safety hazard for any pedestrians trying to use it as they make their way to the Supermarket during the winter. It has been done in the past by the offices that answer to you. I remember this from my teenage years and traveling to the Almacs that was at the bottom of that hill.
Because believe me, there’s a hell of lot of pedestrian traffic over that bridge at all times of the year. You, anyone from your office or from the Department of Public Works are invited to stop by the bridge to see the telltale signs of that walking traffic on the bridge as the footprints turn to ice from defrosting and refreezing from November to April.
That attaboy is also conditional in your involvement in motivating the landlords and property owners of the City of Providence for doing what is required of them for the sidewalk areas of the streets where their property is located. As I recall from growing up and living in several cities in this state that the landlord and land owners of any properly within the confines of any city are responsible for keeping their sidewalks — not just their driveways — clear for pedestrian traffic. I recall it being taught to me when I was a teenager that I had to shovel the driveway and sidewalks for my step-father’s house. Because failing to do so entailed fines toward my step-father to the sidewalks abutting ALL his property.
I know the initiative with fines (and prison sentences) work having experienced it first-hand being a tourist to San Francisco and Los Angeles and watching drivers stop the instant my foot hit the crosswalk on the street. This happened regardless of the color of the pedestrian crosswalk signal. Quite impressive given that we have laws here in Rhode Island that state the Pedestrian always has the right of way, and can still be hit by drivers ignoring the crossing pedestrian.
Post Edit: I just came in after assisting my 80+ year old landlord with clearing pathways through the snow for his property and he informed me that he had received a notice from the state that fines can reach upward to $500 for violations for not making a clear path on the sidewalks for pedestrians. This is several years old… Make sure – Your Honor – that you enforce these laws. Issuing such threats are useless unless you follow up on them by issuing fines against all transgressors, not the ones you can easily find. After all, this is the Information Age; if I can find he name and contact information of a landlord for a property in question, so can you.
The Rest (That’s the citizens of the City & State)
No amount of cussing or swearing can be done by me to express the level of disgust I have for my peers and the residents living in this state (and the tri-state area) that I encountered before this storm. The panic shopping, the panic driving to get home before the storm hit, the road rage I was seeing of people as they were stuck in traffic. The complete selfishness and lack of empathy that occurs during the storm. And no amount of being friendly banter or joviality after the storm is going to salve this disgust.
As I’ve said I’m 50 years old. More than 40 years of it has been in the State of Rhode Island. In my lifetime, I have endured 7 hurricanes, more than 12 tropical storms, more than a couple of floods, a couple of tornados (some of them here in the Rhode Island area), and in my lifetime of travel, a typhoon, a waterspout and almost had the pleasure of encountering a tsunami. I have survived these in houses more than a century old, in tents (yes, one of them occurred when I was a teen and camping with the Boy Scouts at Camp Yagoog when I was a pre-teen), when I was driving, leaving work to head home to Woonsocket in a little Datsun B210 that had as much weight and traction as a bicycle on an ice skating rink. And of course more snow storms, ice storms and blizzards than I could shake a stick at. Yes, including the Blizzard of 1978 when I had the pleasure of riding for my life in a bus on icy and slippery roads. Where the bus driver was Christian enough to say, “get on, I’ll get you home” when I never took buses to junior high school because I didn’t live far enough away from the school or my family couldn’t afford the fees along with the school’s tuition (this was Mount St. Charles Academy). So yes, I’ve survived through my fair share of storms.
I’m still alive. I’m still in good health and pretty sane through all these storms.
Yet the amount of panic and rage I was seeing was disgusting. Between people rushing to the markets for Milk, Bread, Eggs, Bottled Water and even Junk Food for the coming storm. To people screaming out the windows at the people in front of them when they weren’t moving fast enough. To people riding their horns thinking this will make those in front of them move faster.
At one point during my daily walk, I was telling the people screaming or yelling out the window of their cars or beeping their horns in rage that the traffic’s blocked all the way up to the on-ramps of the highway they themselves were aiming for. The dirty looks I was getting (for having a wan smile on my face) were amazing.
The thing is, this is New England! The weather here frequently makes local and national news. The calamities that come (and go) through the years is as tumultuous as it has been capricious. It’s the kind of drama remembered by ourselves, our grandparents and the old timers that have told us about what it was like when they were children. New England doesn’t have the sort of calm and lazy weather as San Diego has. As Florida gets when it’s outside of Hurricane Season. We don’t have the sort of calm 4 seasons weather written about in books, seen on our favorite shows on television, or heard about in stories. Sure, these idyllic seasons happen sometimes, but at the same time we New Englanders know about Mother Nature’s tantrums. And year after every year, like clockwork New Englanders panic because they’re like Chicken Little thinking the world is going to end because of some blizzard (in the winter) or hurricane (in the summer) or some flooding (in the spring) is about to strike. Like this is the first time it’s going to happen and proceed to act like Rhode Island is going to slide into the Atlantic with this (or that) storm’s passing.
I can deal with the whinging, the whining, the complaints that come with the threats of city and state stopping weather. This is New England — that’s what we do as well: complain up a storm about the things out of our control. But this panic? Ugh, it’s both tiring and draining. It accomplishes nothing.
Don’t like the weather? Think it’s better elsewhere? Fine. Leave. Find somewhere in the world to settle where you think the weather’s idyllic. Where it’s predictable. Where it’s what you want to look forward to. Because don’t for once think that this is the LAST time this sort of storm is going to happen in your lifetime. It continues to happen and has, long before The Year with No Summer.
You’re going to find where you thought was idyllic has its own issues. I can tell you from experience the mass migration of Midwesterners to the Atlanta area were quite shocked that Atlanta got snow and ice in the winter — worse than the state they left and made worse because the Department of Public Works there was in crappier shape than the area they left. Believe me, I told them when the Midwesterners bitched and moaned about the ice and snow that if they were looking forward winters with no snow and ice when they moved to the area that they should have kept going until they saw palm trees along the highway. Yes, the Ice Storms in the Atlanta pale in comparison to the ice storms we get here in New England. Four of them happened in the 10 years I lived there. Then there’s the heat (and humidity) of the South and Midwest. The mud slides and the forest fires of the west coast. The flooding and hurricanes of the Mid-Atlantic. Nowhere you go in the country is going to be the sort of “nice” you dream about. And best (or worst) of all, you’ll probably end up back here (like I did after a decade in the South), because yep… Something about New England always calls us home. Even if that call means coming home in a pine box.
So suck it up and deal with it.
Because you — the public — are as much to blame about this panic as the news that beat you into the frenzy they did with their sensationalism and ratings grab reporting the “Blizzard of 2015” every 10 minutes. Because of whatever delusions you had going in your head that such weather we just survived through never happens here. Or the delusion that makes you think this won’t ever happen again.
I’ll say this as I wrap up. Because if you’re reading this — you’re still here. You’re still alive. You still have power, and an internet connection, and television. You have heat, running water, and the ability to cook. Hell you still have some working phone in the house to contact others you care about to ensure they’re doing ok and/or heading to them to help them out if they can’t care for themselves. And if any of these comforts and amenities are out — if you’re older than 25 and younger than 80 — you know how to handle yourself through the lack until it’s restored. Because no amount of panic is going to make these things magically come back on. And not amount of rage is going to make people restoring those services move any faster.
So again, suck it up and deal with it.
And with that… I’m off… I need to use the soapbox I was on to help with kindling for the fireplace. Until the next time.
Entry 01/16/2015 08:59:04 AM – Mentat 852
Christ on a drunken rampage… You’d think I’d know better sometimes (but I don’t). I get into a discussion with some teenage bisexual girl about her inherent disdain about the use of the label bisexual and feeling constrained by the baggage associated with the word, struggles to find a better word to use. The conversation makes its way to a part about self-editing and how everyone does it. She of course denies that she does in her offline life yet does so online… All right… She’s wrong there, she provides proof that she does edit with the general public but she goes on anyway happily defining how it’s selective and continues to whinge about the limits of the word bisexual and tries to drum her point on and on trying to create a no-win scenario.
It naturally doesn’t work with me. I don’t allow myself to be limited by choices other people try to foist on me. If I don’t like the choices given to me, I have always made my own. I provided proof to this in the form of a brief story about as a kindergärtner I have always been ridiculed for my perspective.
The no-win scenario continues as she shifts the debate turns into some sort of attack against her and her bisexuality and how its an amateurish psychoanalysis. Seeing that answer I’m reminded all too keenly of the non-stop debates and battles with my ex Rick and no matter what I could possibly posit during the debate was going to be always wrong.
I typed the typical response: told her that if that’s what she thinks, nothing I can say will change that and the thoughts I’ve had on this will go untyped. I went further to wish her well and hoped for the day that she found a word that she felt comfortable with and moved on from there.
I find myself feeling like Roger Moore’s character in Ffolkes and his absolute disdain of women.
I am also reminded of a friend in New Jersey when talking to his daughter always said, “I should throw away my set of encyclopedias because you seem to know every fucking thing!”
I had worked up a rather good response, but because I’m tired of fighting a no-win scenario with someone that already seems to know-it-all, I’ve decided I’m going to put it here.
The plain and simple fact is, the baggage associated with bisexuality isn’t new. While there are elements of it that are unique, the fact is ANY sexuality other than heterosexual has come with its own depressing sort of negative baggage. Take for example when I came out of the closet back in 1979. It’s only 10 years after the Stonewall Riot (or the gay shot heard around the world). Being gay wasn’t glamorous. The baggage it had was ugly. Being forever alone when invited to friends and family parties, weddings, etc. Being STD (and shortly after) and AIDS carriers. A life at the bars with nothing more than one-night stands. I can never have a family or children.
The thing is I wasn’t going to have any of this. I wanted a husband. I wanted the house with a picket fence. I wanted the children and the pets (cats… not dogs… I always preferred cats). I changed my label to queer (in defiance) and went forward chasing my dreams. Back when I came out I was told by peers — straight and gay — I was a dreamer (at best) or delusional (at worst). Still I followed my dreams…
Fast forward 20 years and we see my dreams weren’t so delusional or the products of some demented dream. And while I can’t remotely claim to have revolutionized the social transformation and perception of the gay & lesbian community, I can take a little pride in the fact that I wasn’t alone in this. I had — in my own demented and stubborn way — helped it along small and humble as it was.
The thing is this woman that I ended up discussing and walking away from isn’t alone in her plight either. There are plenty of other people even if she can’t see them — going through the same struggles of fighting against the stereotyping and the baggage associated to being bisexual. While she might not be in contact with them, I have seen that they exist. Some simply bow to the pressure and choose a side (straight or gay) to make their lives simpler. Some stick to it and prove — through their actions — they are more than the stereotypes (and baggage) associated to the label.
I tried to explain to her that if she wants to fight against that stereotype to do so. Damned the torpedoes full steam ahead… Take a label that fit her and put her tits to the wind (as Bette Middler once said in a comedy sketch years ago). To listen to the sound of her own drum and march to it. After all, she did so when she defiantly tried to redefine the part of the conversation about self-editing (it was still wrong — everyone, even her self-edits — she just edits herself to the general public. But the point was she did so with the pride necessary to break other limitations). She had it within her to do the same against words she didn’t like or fit her.
There’s another saying that comes to mind in all this: “sticks and stones…” A word can only hurt you if you allow it. A name can only hurt you if you take it personally. If you succumb to the title, the label and feel negative (either in anger or in sadness) those labels have taken possession of you.
Was I hurt by the labels? The stereotypes? The baggage associated to the label? Damn Skippy. I’m human and not impervious to the name calling. And while I can understand the need for wallowing in that pain in that self-pity, but yet… somewhere along the line I turned it into an act of defiance. I would not and will not succumb to those stereotypes.
The last bit of wisdom came to me in the late 70s (about the time I came out) that went: There are three kinds (of people)… The wills, the won’ts and the can’ts. The wills accomplish everything, the won’ts oppose everything and the can’ts won’t try anything. I promised myself I would be one of those that will. And haven’t stopped since.
And with that I’m through proselytizing. Off to shop for ingredients for a slow-cooker recipe I want to try out. Until the next time.
Entry 01/11/2015 09:18:19 AM – Mentat 846
As I sit here this morning while I wait for my coffee to brew and debating whether I should enjoy an English Muffin for the mid-morning break, I was struck with an interesting thought as I reviewed a conversation with someone on one of the dating website I have a membership with… That thought being: When did we (as a people) become so parochial?
Men on the dating site seem to be completely uninterested with any sort of communication with anyone outside of a specific driving range (which seems arbitrary based on personal tolerances for driving distances); so much so that they will ignore any comments, notes, compliments or assertions made in their direction. The man I mentioned moments ago is getting ready to make a transcontinental pilgrimage to a city that I had spent some time in has made it pretty damned clear in his profile that he wants to shed not only his possessions but any emotional entanglements old and new for this trip. In fact the primary reason for his conversation with me has to do with my knowledge of the area he’s moving to. Whether it’s going to continue from there remains entirely to be seen; though I suspect it’s going to end as abruptly as it began. Watching the dance of people that I see and encounter (here in the Tundras of New England) they seemed determine to only pay attention to whatever is in their immediate vicinity and often ignore anyone that falls outside the qualities to determine validity (sight and more importantly touch).
I’m not talking about the family we’re born into. Blood is thicker than water and all that, but let’s face it — unless we’re totally alienated by that family we’re born into, we often keep in touch with them regardless of the distances. No, what I’m talking about the family of choice that we create, establish and reinforce when one reaches adulthood and ventures out into the world.
I recall from my history and literature classes in high school, stories from the Renaissance when the postal networks were establishing and how people would maintain both correspondences in love and dalliances as well as the various letters involving friend and equals, swamis (gurus and other religious teachers) and their disciples, as well as teachers and students. Many of these non-romantic letters going well beyond the lessons that brought them together to establishing friendships that lasted as long as those to people closer to home. As for romantic correspondences, there have been books written about them that rivaled the sort of love that comes from meeting someone closer to home. It had become a continued (and eventually established) form of communication for romantic, platonic and professional communication through the expansion into the world and into the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
I have my proof in the treatises of Alice A Bailey that correspondences and written communications had reached midway into the 20th century. Written communications that continued to be there well after the establishment of telegraph and telephone communications in the latter part of the 19th/early part of the 20th centuries. Even though radio communications were here at the time, it’s not really used (which had been more for military and transportation services than for the everyday “Joe”). And yes, even through the advent of the CB Radio fad of the 70s.
Yet something shifted toward the end of the 20th century. With the establishment of the Internet for households of the common man and heralded the dawn of the Information Age, this had a way of opening up the world to everybody and allowing them communication with people halfway around the world as equally and easily as across the street. It had given an extension on an expiring thoughtform that had been created in days gone by. That is to say, there had been a brief revival of the concept of the long-distance love affairs. Of writing e-mails (along with Instant and Real-Time Communications) with someone one found mentally and emotionally attractive across the vastness of miles. Yet somewhere near the dawn of the 21st century that novelty wore off. With the ability to obtain instantaneous information and coupled with the growing skepticism and cynicism (based both on personal experience and word of mouth) that the person you might be talking with might not be where they’re saying they’re from or even who they actually are; the mindset changed into a sort of common sense rule from looking (and perhaps even reaching out) globally to only dealing with folk locally. If there is any such global interchange it is done publicly and casually, much like those of a fan or casual follower with no more interaction than to either sing the praise of who they follow or to respond their approval in the forms of likes, re-tweets or simply watching with words unsaid.
I see that there are exceptions to these new rules. Those folk that have made relationships work in spite of the distances. And while I knew of some folk — straight and gay alike — in the last 20 years work beyond (or perhaps in spite) the distances between them, I seem to have noticed since the inception of the 21st century it’s more the acts of the young. But these of course are only the exceptions. Not the general rule…
So it raises the question… Well several questions as I sit here and review what I said versus the thoughts I still haven’t committed to writing: Is long-distance correspondences (romantic and/or platonic) an instrument for the young?† As we (humans) get older, more weather-worn, more skeptical and of course obtain more baggage along the way, do we lose the necessary naïveté and faith that make such long-distance correspondences possible? Do we become more parochial as we get older wanting our gratification, satisfaction and perhaps even our continued ability to learn something only to be done from a local perspective?
Or it is something more intrinsic? Does the everyday man simply lack the elements of (blind) faith, (long-distance) trust and of course the fortitude of character and determination to making such romantic and platonic relationships (regardless of the distance) work?
If the last supposition (posed in the form of a question) is indeed true, what does that make me? Exceptional?
For even at the half-century mark, I continue to maintain contact with those that are willing to continue correspondences regardless of the distance. Friends that I have never met, I continue to strike up conversations with them whenever possible. In Canada, in other parts of the United States (Florida and California for example), occasionally even farther than that. I continue to put out the feelers for new communications in the hopes that it will flourish into something more than just casual and more importantly — personally distant. I continue to do so, sight unseen… When mood or common interests seem apparent, I am trying to make that connection. By listening and sharing either in earnest or in humour, with insight, with sagely advice handed down to me by my grandmother and with whatever observations and opinions that I form on my own I offer it without hesitation in the hopes that it will build the bridge necessary for friendship to flourish.
If I am the exception to the rule, why does it often feel like I’m on some parapet, soap box or mosque tower projecting my thoughts out into the void and yet no one seems to hear the underlying message? Or worse… With the common sense handed down to me and my inherent ability of working in means and averages (I never went into statistics, but I admit having a modest grasp of it), are the exceptional so isolated that they are all crying out in some form or another and simply not being heard? That there’s just the right sort of distance between these voices that they cannot hear each other?
In conclusion, as I said to Mr. James Radcliffe, so I should take my own advice… I have thrown this stone into the pond with this entry. Now I just need to wait — patiently — for the ripples from this action to reach all parts of the pond.
Until the next time.
† (I’ll exclude professional because money drives that and there will always be that for self-employed individuals and companies.)
Entry 12/03/2014 06:40:38 AM – Mentat 811
Nothing like completely screwing up my sleep patterns in one day. I laid down early last night listening to Psychobabble and then the Relic Radio Podcasts that I collected yesterday. Ended up listening to the first one (from the Science-Fiction collection) from beginning to end (20 minutes), then when I moved onto the others (Thriller, Suspense and the straight on podcast), I fell completely asleep during each and every other podcast afterwards. Oh sure, I woke up at the end of each and every one, start the next, get comfortable and then **BANG** out like a light once again. So all in all I drifted in and out of sleep during each of the podcasts. I remember listening to the last of the podcasts at 11:30’ish last night. I stayed up for a couple of hours then went back to bed only to wake up again at 10 to 6 of which I’ve been up since. Sure, I got something like 9+ hours of sleep, but thanks to the program I’m using, it doesn’t count. Bloody annoying that… But that’s what happens when one is working with a program and all the various quirks that it comes with.
Now that my mother’s home from the doctor’s office and about to start her morning chores on ironing what little clothes that need it, I’m sitting here having a rather interesting time trying to come up with the energy for some of the thoughts that I’ve had watching and listening to some of the various podcasts, YouTube videos and stray thoughts that usually assail my mind during the early evenings and especially when I’m taking my 2.5 mile (4.02 km) walk through the neighbourhood.
I’ve continued to mull over the lack of “neighbourhood” in the urban sprawl of Providence and in its place is what retail companies think “neighbourhood” should be. Especially now that my walk routine’s changed a little bit and surfaces along Atwells Avenue near to De Pasquale Square. I mean Broadway has never truly felt like a neighbourhood. It’s almost always been completely renovated from Residential to the sort of Commercial zoning synonymous with Doctor’s/Dentist’s Offices and… ick… Lawyers. What little retail stores while being a Ma & Pop of some sort or another, don’t really give the feeling of a neighbourhood store (that I remember from my childhood). About the only exception to this is the Sutton & De Pasquale Street block on Broadway (where DASH Bicycles is). Between the bike shop, the gaming store and the “corner” pizzeria there, it definitely has the right sort of “neighbourhood” feel I used to get when on the Hill 20+ years ago.
But Atwells? No sir… Taking the walk through the neighbourhood here and what I remember of the neighbourhood when living here is near completely gone. Sure, there’s the old tattoo parlour and Sicilia’s Pizzeria at Dean Street.. Sure there’s the corner mart diagonal from it… Sure there’s even Caserta’s on Spruce (a block off of Atwells)… But the rest? Ugh! Restaurants and Boutique stores up the ass and especially in De Pasquale Square itself. There’s some stores that I remember from 20 years ago — but they don’t seem to be open much anymore. Like the old Federal Hill Liquors (which the security shutters are closed on all the time), or the Jamaican Dive Restaurant (where the laundry I used when I was living with Darin used to be).
What’s worse about it is the fact that with the invention of the leaf blower — a lot of these trendy boutique store have the nasty habit of blowing everything away from their store fronts, instead of putting it in one pile to pick it up (and throw it out). This of course leads to a metric shit-ton of various flotsam — leaves, paper trash and bags) to end up in the neighbourhood immediately behind and around the storefronts to look polluted… And more importantly changing the various old-age and character flaws of the neighbourhood to look… Well, more depressed than it should. It’s sad really… Having moved up from the Valley (just a few blocks difference) and what I end up in is hipster and trendy hell.
As the saying goes, “the more things change… the more they remain the same…” At least when it comes to the conformity of retail…
Then there’s the other thoughts I had yesterday during my walk on how much has changed with being a queer in the new millennium. I remember back in the mid 80s, the generation before me had been blaming my generation for dropping the torch that was handed to us. I remember vividly at the time my generation had been accused of “resting on our laurels” by not continuing fighting for the rights of LGBT folk in the USA.
Sure, when it came to getting states to pass laws for domestic and partner benefits (and turned it into a hell of a fight with the hydra forcing groups & activists to approach companies instead of states), DADT has come and gone… DOMA is being stigmatized and given of feeling of being a blue law as Domestic Partnerships has been passed in many more states. Or my personal favorite, watching how coming out episodes went from “After School Specials” to Coming out become statements of the every day on YouTube. Of seeing queerfolk being queerfolk without the mockery, the spectacle and even the mockery from 30 years ago… Love & Hate and annoyances…. Or my personal favorite the bickering that happens in love. You know what I’m talking about when it comes to every couple: the really intense sort of comments (snide or otherwise) made at the other that makes anyone watching extremely uncomfortable. I don’t mind them of course, they remind me of the times when I was in a relationship and know it’s not as bad as it looks.
I know there’s still a really long way to go… A hell of a long way to go still… But perhaps what was always needed was viewing it all from the every day instead of when I came out 35 years ago and only being a taste of it given to middle of nowhere America in the form of news snippets on Gay Pride. Make them see it’s not all about deviations and parades… But instead the everyday and the ordinary… Even if folks like me see the color that might be missed by everyone else.
There were a couple of other thoughts, mainly the sort of thing that I find myself reminiscing about things in my personal past. Like how Battey Street off of Broadway seems to have gotten longer than when I was living in the neighbourhood. Or how the houses in my neighbourhood are certainly weird and wild and of course pre- and Post-Victorian odd… With sections of the building jutting out or the wild window work (like some of the houses I’ve taken pictures of during my 2012 picture of the day and might again for 2015…). Or how many of the houses have preservation plaques on them (especially on and just off of Broadway). Or finally the quirkiness I seem to stumble across while I’m walking…. like the church off of Tobey that has French Services (this is a predominantly Italian & Spanish neighbourhood now).
That about it for the time being. Off to simmer a thought or two. Until the next time.
Activity Since Inception
Some of My Mad Scientist Work