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January 21st, 2021

Maybe I’m Finally Understanding This

I’m sure most of the population has other, more pleasant hobbies and blissfully tuned out for 4 years, but some of us couldn’t do that. I’m not overstating things and saying I WAS PERSONALLY IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH DONALD TRUMP, but I think anyone who has had *that person* in their lives knows of the constant low level stress of wondering when they are going to wander into the room and just blow everything up with their latest nonsense. -Atrios, writing in his blog today

It’s odd because his tweet is about Trump, but this business about the constant low level stress of wondering when they’re going to wander into the room and blow everything up instantly reminded me of actually living that, and perhaps it’s knocked some sense into me that’s been long overdue. Something like fifty years overdue as a matter of fact. My entire childhood and a good part of my adolescence, and most of mom’s life I suspect, were spent in an abusive relationship with her mother (who I have often referred to here as my Bitter Baptist Grandmother) and I never really looked at it that way until just now.

It’s always been just…yeah that was her…she was like that. Now I’m thinking that lots of people see their abuser that way…not as an abuser specifically, but as just being like that. Someone who is always cranky and bad tempered. Someone who just seems to always be miserable, and wants everyone else to be miserable to. Someone you are always tip-toeing around, trying not to set them off, trying not to attract their attention. Because…that’s just how they are. Not abusers, just difficult people. And you avoid their gaze because you know what you’ll see in those eyes. People who are always making you tense up. People who make you feel small whenever they’re around. 

Yeah. Abusers. I’m sixty-seven years old and she still haunts my bad dreams.


Posted In: Life
Tags: ,

by Bruce | Link | React!
January 13th, 2021

You Have No Poetry In Your Soul Is The Problem

A friend linked me to this today…

Parler’s amateur coding could come back to haunt Capitol Hill rioters

By now, you may have heard of the hacker who says she scraped 99 percent of posts from Parler, the Twitter-wannabe site used by Trump supporters to help organize last Wednesday’s violent insurrection on Capitol Hill. What you may not know yet is the abysmal coding and security that made the scraping so easy…

People who know how to code are not all that difficult to find, though it is a specialized skill set. People who can do it well, as it turns out, are. And the problem for managers is you almost have to be as good at it as they are to know which from which when you’re hiring. But then these people would probably not have hired mostly on the basis of IT skills, but political affinity.

Call the above an example of Sturgeon’s Law. But also, if the last four years have taught us anything, it’s the kind of logical, clear headed thinking that makes a good coder is not a skill set very many right wingers have.

My personal experience working on code others have left behind tells me it’s not a matter of education…some of the most brick brained idiotic code I’ve ever seen came from people with their BS in Computer Science. It’s how well you can think logically and above all, clearly. There’s a limit to how well schools can teach that. It’s in a way, an art. And to paraphrase Marx (Groucho) right wing art is to art, as military music is to music.


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | React!
January 11th, 2021

Unity…Did You Say…

This from Steve Schmidt, co founder of The Lincoln Project, was I think, posted somewhere, maybe as a Twitter thread but I’m not sure at the moment, before the mob assault on the Capitol and well after the election, when you could hear howls from the kook pews about how could Biden have won so many votes when we saw practically no Biden signs on lawns or bumper stickers. Wasn’t it obvious why? Yeah…they knew damn well why they weren’t seeing much of that in their neighborhoods. All that ranting and raving and chest thumping was meant to silence anyone who might even be thinking of voting for Biden. But once people got into the voting booth, they made their silent voices heard.

Anyway…this was posted the other day on the Facebook page of the Lawrence County (Indiana) Democratic Party. I couldn’t have said it better…

No amount of unity efforts can erase what we’ve learned about our fellow Americans the past four years.

No, Biden’s rallies weren’t bigger.

No, you didn’t see many Biden flags on houses or Biden bumper stickers on cars.

No, you don’t know a single person on your street or at your church who supports Biden.

But guess what?

We’re here.

Biden’s rallies were small, because people who live in reality don’t want to expose themselves to the virus you continue to downplay or deny.

We don’t fly Biden flags because we don’t want our houses burned down.

We don’t put Biden bumper stickers on our cars because we want to avoid becoming targets for road rage.

We don’t trust you.

We’ve decided to minimize our interactions with people who cannot be reasoned with. This is for our own safety. In private groups – where you’re not invited – we share our bewilderment of your descent into madness.

We all have stories about how we’ve cut ties with you, our family and former friends, because we don’t want your hatred poisoning our social media streams. We can’t stand to listen to you vomiting the lies of your cult, day after day. You used to be different. We liked you. But now that we know what was inside your heart all along, we’ve decided you don’t deserve to know about our lives. We’ll skip family reunions, even after we get the vaccine. We’ll make up some excuse just to be polite.

But in reality, we just don’t feel like sitting around eating potato salad and making small talk with people who have such monstrous beliefs. To all the brothers and aunts and cousins and dads and neighbors out there who just can’t wrap their heads around what this means going forward, know that these scars aren’t going away anytime soon. We won’t be reaching out, and we won’t be mending fences. It’s not up to us to apologize for the wounds you have gleefully inflicted upon us and our friends. You poured the gasoline, you lit the match. You burned this to the ground.

So if we seem different from now on, I guess we are, in a way. We’ve seen your truth laid bare, and we’re horrified. I hope Trump was worth it.

 


Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React!
January 8th, 2021

Our Bodies Don’t Always Fit The Standard Models

Almost four years ago, I posted the following to my Facebook page after I read it on someone else’s page. I was trying to be helpful to the women in my life, and any lady who might see it.

A nurse has heart attack and describes what women feel when having one:

I am an ER nurse and this is the best description of this event that I have ever heard. Please read, pay attention, and send it on!…

FEMALE HEART ATTACKS

I was aware that female heart attacks are different, but this is the best description I’ve ever read.

Women rarely have the same dramatic symptoms that men have … you know, the sudden stabbing pain in the chest, the cold sweat, grabbing the chest & dropping to the floor that we see in movies. Here is the story of one woman’s experience with a heart attack.

I had a heart attack at about 10:30 PM with NO prior exertion, NO prior emotional trauma that one would suspect might have brought it on. I was sitting all snugly & warm on a cold evening, with my purring cat in my lap, reading an interesting story my friend had sent me, and actually thinking, ‘A-A-h, this is the life, all cozy and warm in my soft, cushy Lazy Boy with my feet propped up.

A moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, when you’ve been in a hurry and grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with a dash of water, and that hurried bite seems to feel like you’ve swallowed a golf ball going down the esophagus in slow motion and it is most uncomfortable. You realize you shouldn’t have gulped it down so fast and needed to chew it more thoroughly and this time drink a glass of water to hasten its progress down to the stomach. This was my initial sensation–the only trouble was that I hadn’t taken a bite of anything since about 5:00 p.m.

After it seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my SPINE (hind-sight, it was probably my aorta spasms), gaining speed as they continued racing up and under my sternum (breast bone, where one presses rhythmically when administering CPR).

This fascinating process continued on into my throat and branched out into both jaws. ‘AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling about what was happening — we all have read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of the signals of an MI happening, haven’t we? I said aloud to myself and the cat, Dear God, I think I’m having a heart attack!

I lowered the foot rest dumping the cat from my lap, started to take a step and fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself, If this is a heart attack, I shouldn’t be walking into the next room where the phone is or anywhere else… but, on the other hand, if I don’t, nobody will know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to get up in a moment.

I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the next room and dialed the Paramedics… I told her I thought I was having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum and radiating into my jaws. I didn’t feel hysterical or afraid, just stating the facts. She said she was sending the Paramedics over immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, and if so, to un-bolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see me when they came in.

I unlocked the door and then laid down on the floor as instructed and lost consciousness, as I don’t remember the medics coming in, their examination, lifting me onto a gurney or getting me into their ambulance, or hearing the call they made to St. Jude ER on the way, but I did briefly awaken when we arrived and saw that the radiologist was already there in his surgical blues and cap, helping the medics pull my stretcher out of the ambulance. He was bending over me asking questions (probably something like ‘Have you taken any medications?’) but I couldn’t make my mind interpret what he was saying, or form an answer, and nodded off again, not waking up until the Cardiologist and partner had already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral artery into the aorta and into my heart where they installed 2 side by side stints to hold open my right coronary artery.

I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling the paramedics, but actually it took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the fire station and St Jude are only minutes away from my home, and my Cardiologist was already to go to the OR in his scrubs and get going on restarting my heart (which had stopped somewhere between my arrival and the procedure) and installing the stents.
Why have I written all of this to you with so much detail? Because I want all of you who are so important in my life to know what I learned first hand.

1. Be aware that something very different is happening in your body, not the usual men’s symptoms but inexplicable things happening (until my sternum and jaws got into the act). It is said that many more women than men die of their first (and last) MI because they didn’t know they were having one and commonly mistake it as indigestion, take some Maalox or other anti-heartburn preparation and go to bed, hoping they’ll feel better in the morning when they wake up… which doesn’t happen. My female friends, your symptoms might not be exactly like mine, so I advise you to call the Paramedics if ANYTHING is unpleasantly happening that you’ve not felt before. It is better to have a ‘false alarm’ visitation than to risk your life guessing what it might be!

2. Note that I said ‘Call the Paramedics.’ And if you can take an aspirin. Ladies, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!

Do NOT try to drive yourself to the ER – you are a hazard to others on the road.

Do NOT have your panicked husband who will be speeding and looking anxiously at what’s happening with you instead of the road.

Do NOT call your doctor — he doesn’t know where you live and if it’s at night you won’t reach him anyway, and if it’s daytime, his assistants (or answering service) will tell you to call the Paramedics. He doesn’t carry the equipment in his car that you need to be saved! The Paramedics do, principally OXYGEN that you need ASAP. Your Dr. will be notified later.

3. Don’t assume it couldn’t be a heart attack because you have a normal cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a cholesterol elevated reading is rarely the cause of an MI (unless it’s unbelievably high and/or accompanied by high blood pressure). MIs are usually caused by long-term stress and inflammation in the body, which dumps all sorts of deadly hormones into your system to sludge things up in there. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let’s be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we could survive.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we’ll save at least one life.

*Please be a true friend and send this article to all you female friends.

Now I want to add something to all this for any gay males, and family and friends of gay males reading this. I can’t speak to the effect what I’m about to discuss has on lesbians or transgender folk because I am not one of these. But I am a gay male and I’m here to tell you that the above was how it was with my own heart attack in October of 2019. Mostly. I didn’t have the back spasms and jaw symptoms that lady did, but the sensation of having a very severe bout of heartburn was my experience too.

Almost four years after I posted this to my Facebook page, I had my own heart attack. In retrospect I should have kept this in mind, that it might, just might, hit me more like it does women then men. After all, I was, and still am, convinced that my sexual orientation is a matter of my physiology…that is, it’s how I’m made…at least brain wise. Perhaps, I sometimes wondered, there is more to it than just what’s going on in my brain. But when it finally came down I initially ignored the symptoms which could have led to disaster. What happened was for a moment the heartburn sensation became so severe…like it was a horse standing on my chest…it scared me and I called 911, still thinking there was a problem in my esophagus. I like my cigars and worried that this was the first sign of throat cancer. When the doctor in the emergency room told me I was having a heart attack it actually surprised me.

Pay attention to this my fellow gay males! My sense of my sexual orientation being wired into me physically, not as a psychological effect (distant father domineering mother blah, blah, blah…every bar stool blowhard bigot theory of homosexuality…blah, blah, blah…), has always been there. But as I’ve grown older I’ve had to wonder if there is more to it than just the grey matter. There is much better research going on now then there was when I was younger about gender differences in how disease presents and progresses, and in patient responses to treatments and medications. This is good for women. But gay males might need to pay more attention to this effect too, regardless of how cis gender we see ourselves to be, and how comfortable we are inside our male bodies.

Our physiology may be just slightly different enough from heterosexual males that it makes a difference in our healthcare.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
January 4th, 2021

Ahhh…First Morning Back To Work After The Holidays…

That morning cup of coffee really wakes a person up. Especially when the first mouthful tells you that you forgot to put the sugar in.

I like my coffee like I like my men. Sweet.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
January 2nd, 2021

Say Something!

A Coming Out Story – Episode 31 “Say Something” is now live…

…in which our hero gets a helpful nudge from his libido. Read it Here.


Posted In: Life

by Bruce | Link | React!
January 1st, 2021

Oh The Difference A Decade Makes…

On January one, twenty-eleven I was into my second decade at Space Telescope and amazed to be starting work on James Webb.

Barack Obama was president of the United States and it seemed like that long darkness that was the Bush years was over and the nation had been restored to sanity.

I was several years into ownership of my first Mercedes-Benz…a cute little white ‘C’ 300. By the end of 2011 I’d trade it in for my dream come true car…a Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan.

I was a decade into home ownership…a cute little Baltimore rowhouse, a dream I never thought would ever come true. It was within walking distance of where I worked, grocery stores, shopping, restaurants and bars…everything I needed for my day to day life.

I had reconnected with my high school crush after decades of searching for him, and he started flirting with me again just like he did back in high school and I was walking on air again just like I did back in high school. But it was even more terrifying than it was back then because he was deeply closeted and married and I really didn’t want to get in the middle of that. Later that summer of 2011 some sort of personal crisis happened, he dropped out of sight for three months, and when he reappeared he sat me down and we had the strangest miserable conversation I’ve ever had with anyone, and that includes the time someone on mom’s side of the family assured me less than an hour after we’d laid her body to rest in its grave that I couldn’t be family unless I was the same degree of Christian they were.

So it’s a decade later…

I’ve lived through my first heart attack and an atrial fibrillation that sent my heart rate to over 210 beats per minute. EMT told me she’d never seen a heart rate as fast as mine just then in her entire career. 

The Mercedes diesel sedan is paid for.

My little Baltimore rowhouse is still mine, but only halfway paid for. It’s value has increased with the building of many matchstick “luxury” townhouses (they stop calling them rowhouses after the first hundred grand…) nearby. I have a lot of work planned for it this coming year, including new storm doors, a pull down ladder to the roof hatch, and repairs to the front porch tiles. There’s at least two more planks in the backyard deck I’ll be needing to replace. I might have the old carpet taken up and see what condition the wood floor is in…neighbors have had theirs refinished and they look very nice. Also on the wish list is new counter tops and kitchen cabinet doors. And a parking pad. With a charging station. Maybe.

My high school crush and I are not speaking to each other and I’m wondering if fate didn’t actually deal me the lesser of two miseries because I discovered that we’re not very compatible. My sense of humor grates on him, which is probably a cultural difference more than I’m fine with my sexual orientation and he isn’t. But it was his attempts to constrict me into something a little less exuberant after I’d spent decades freeing myself from inhibitions and self doubt beaten into me by schoolyard bullies that really grated on me. I began to feel like I was being suffocated. There’s accepting yourself, your whole self, and there’s accepting that some people will hate you for being that person, even down to the things you can’t help being. By the time we’d reconnected I’d accepted both those things so thoroughly that I think in retrospect it unnerved him. I had to be reined in and I am constitutionally unable to be that.

Oh…and my fellow countrymen elected a racist grifting con man to the White House, and now having lost reelection because he was such a crappy president, is now trying along with the republican party to end The United States of America so he can remain in office in perpetuity. Who would have thought that the party of god fearing patriotism would burn it all down they moment they thought they had a good chance at it.

I’m still working at Space Telescope, in and out of the Mission Operations Center, and now I have a bit of the upcoming Roman Space Telescope, named for Nancy Grace Roman, NASA’s first chief astronomer, who paved the way for space telescopes focused on the broader universe.

My regrets are, as usual, focused almost entirely on matters of the heart. But I think I’m somewhere now that I can see a bit more clearly, that all the what if’s I’ve tormented myself with all these years don’t matter a whit. Nothing I could have done would have changed anything. Let me share a bit of geezer wisdom with you, acquired by yours truly at great personal cost. It’s not how well two people get along that matters, it’s how well they don’t get along. Never mind how perfectly in sync they are politically and intellectually. It matters not that their laughter delights, that their smiles linger. How complementary their personalities are while they’re both in a good mood is of slight importance. When skies are blue everything is easy. It’s how things go when the skies darken and you can hear thunder in the distance. That is where you can see their future. How deep the threads of fondness and desire weave is but a passing moment. To paraphrase a certain someone, happiness is like farting…it stinks for a little while and then it’s gone. It’s the bad moods that matter. How do two people deal with anger. Is the reflex to go to their separate corners and sulk for a while and then have fierce makeup sex, or is it to hoist the Jolly Roger and start lobbing cannonballs?

It’s a new decade and I’d tell myself it’s all for the best and I probably don’t know how good I have it really, except I don’t know if I’ll still have a country when it ends. Or how much longer I have to live. That first heart attack really focuses you on that question. The upside is, as I wrote previously, you stop giving a fuck about a lot of things you probably never should have in the first place.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
December 31st, 2020

Happy Same Old New Year!

Tom Tomorrow (aka Dan Perkins) is a cartoonist I’ve followed avidly since I first saw his cartoons in the local alternative weeklies (many of which have gone belly up in the print news devastation). I love his strip This Modern World, and when I needed a new host for my own personal website I did an nslookup to see who his was, thinking that if they were cool with his cartoons they’d be cool with mine and my blog.

He suffered a divorce a few years ago and he’s occasionally bled about it on twitter. Apparently it was sudden and unexpected. This thread he posted today this New Year’s Eve speaks to me so much…

“Three years ago today I was crawling out of the wreckage of a previous life, moving into my new apartment in New York on the coldest day of the year, absolutely no clue what lay ahead…”

“Some of it was very good and some of it not so much … and then we got to March, 2020 and everything sort of flatlined…”

“I wasn’t expecting to live the life I have now, but … it’s definitely been interesting. And sometimes, really good!”

That is so much me in many ways. And yet, my situation could not be more different. I reckon that speaks to the universal human condition. I didn’t suffer a divorce, but that’s because I never had the lover. The breakups in my life did not happen after years and years of peace and joy and happiness. So they would not have been as wounding. I suppose. Instead the wound was a never ending cloudy drizzly sky I somehow became accustomed to. A constant ache from a place within that should not have been so empty for so long. There was nothing in my romantic life to loose. But I lost everything. And now I’m 67, and given my own set of recent events, health-wise, I’m not sure I have a lot of life left.

Loosing both parents changes you. Old age changes you. The first heart attack, or whatever that first serious brush with death due to an aging body is, changes you. In some ways for the better. You kinda stop giving a flying fuck about things you probably never should have anyway. The regrets you’ve carried with you all this time get shuffled and re-arranged, and maybe some of them weren’t all that worth carrying around anyway. Baggage is dropped. But then fresh baggage is picked up along the way. It always is.

It’s odd in a way for me the elder man to be watching how the younger ones deal with their life’s knife wounds in a way that teaches me how to live with mine…at least a tad. I wasn’t expecting to live the life I have now, but…it’s definitely been interesting. And sometimes, really good! Yeah…I can relate. And especially to a previous tweet he put out there about how nobody wants to hear about getting kneecapped by love…probably because they’ve all been kneecapped too at some point and nobody knows how to deal with it. Yeah…I can relate. Absolutely. Somewhat.

And here’s the thing…all those times in my life when I’ve been asked/challenged/preached to, in the context of a discussion relating to my sexual orientation, if I had it to do over would I still want to be a homosexual…in the expectation that of course I would choose to be a heterosexual…all those times I may have stared back at them like they were from another planet…what’s going through my mind just then is You’re heterosexual and you’ve lived your entire life in that world and you’re trying to tell me that the grass is greener on Your side of the fence?? What have you been smoking all this time?

I’m sorry for what happened to you Mr. Perkins. I’m sorry for what happens to all of us. Somehow we manage. What I learned in 2020 is romantic alienation did not prepare me at all for imposed alienation. This is worse. In a world full of broken hearts at least we had each other…

“…but man I miss the possibility of a weekly hangout in that dive bar.”

…and our favorite local bar.

Here’s to the new year. May the day come quickly when we can at last all be brokenhearted together once more.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
December 24th, 2020

Happy Holidays Hon!


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!

Should I Not Have Done That??

Apparently I’ve been misunderstanding the purpose and usage of Mercedes windshield washer fluid ever since I had the ‘C’ class.

It’s winter here in the Free State (that’s a prohibition reference…), and snow, sleet, and rain mixed with road salt means you can barely drive a mile without hitting the wiper blades and a washer squirt. So you use a lot of washer fluid this time of year. Best to stock up and maybe even carry some spare in the trunk.

When I bought the ‘C’ class back in October of 2007 I vowed to give it everything the factory said. This involved not just the usual factory specified servicings, but also using only Daimler approved things like Mercedes anti-freeze (its a weird blue color, I suppose just so you know it’s not the stuff you get at Manny, Moe and Jack’s). As it turns out, this extends to the wiper wash fluid. It’s like buying an Apple computer or smart phone: you aren’t just buying a product, you’re buying into a Culture, a complete Ecology. And it’s not just a specific Mercedes-Benz washer fluid you need to use…there are summer and winter mixes. I could swear I was told initially that they were additives you mixed in with the usual store bought blue washer fluid stuff.

After I’d bought the ‘C’ class I found out about the summer/winter washer stuff and asked the dealer for some. The guy behind the parts counter gave me one a little 40ml flask of “summer”, and told me to just mix it with a gallon of regular washer fluid. So from that moment on I assumed it was an additive you mixed with the usual store bought washer fluid. When winter came around I asked for the winter mix and apparently they just sold me summer flasks and told me it was winter…basically selling me me what they had in stock instead of what I asked for. Last year they even told me that the additive you got was now for both summer and winter.

This year (dealership has since changed hands…) I asked again for the “additive” and was told all they had was summer. I told the guy behind the parts department desk that I’d been told previously that summer and winter were now one and the same. He shrugged and said I could use it that way here in Maryland, but they’re different and if I wanted he could order me the winter stuff instead.

Well I’m a do it the right way kinda guy so I said sure go ahead please order me the winter stuff. How many, he asks. I did a quick mental calculation based on 40ml flasks and asked for six of them. Then I leave a little ticked off and thinking the previous parts guy was just selling me what he had instead of what I wanted and I’d got bamboozled. I got the call this morning that it came. Six 1 litre bottles.

WTF???? So I go home thinking now I have a lifetime supply of winter additive. The bottles are cheerfully international, with pages and pages of safety warnings in every language you can think of and I can’t make heads or tails of how much of this stuff I’m supposed to add to washer fluid. I’m trying to decode the pictogram instructions and they don’t make sense. It almost looks like…wait a minute…is this stuff concentrate instead of additive??

I do some Googling. Sure enough…it’s concentrate, not additive. You mix it with water to make a quantity of washer fluid. Those little 40ml flasks of the summer stuff are enough to make a gallon of summer temperature washer fluid. You mix the winter stuff with water according to a chart for how low you expect the temperatures to drop. I had no idea until just today.

I’ve been doing it wrong this entire time. Well it didn’t damage anything at least. A one litre bottle of winter solution concentrate will make me two liters of working solution that protects the system down to -4. It really never gets that cold here in Maryland so it should be good enough. There are less expensive products out there that claim to work better, and even de-ice better, but a Mercedes-Benz is just different enough from the usual that I’m really very reluctant to use anything but what the factory approves, even in the windshield wash. If that makes me a sucker so be it. I’m still in love with this car.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
December 16th, 2020

Winter Driving Tip

A co-worker put this up on her Facebook page…

 

Auto-Correct strikes again! But this actually works. Pretend you have a lovely quadruple decker frosted layer cake on the front seat you just spent big bucks on for someone’s birthday…


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!

Still Magical…If Not As Wet…

Renewed my Walt Disney World annual pass today. They’re no longer offering the pass that bundles in the water parks, so I spent a tad less this time. I also got a small refund in the mail for a portion of the previous pass for the time the water parks were closed. I suspect the water parks won’t be reopening for quite some time because of the plague, and let’s face it a water park would be like a human petri dish for that damn virus.

Also, they’re still not selling new passes, only renewals. I’m guessing that’s another way of keeping guest numbers down for the time being.


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by Bruce | Link | React!

Liberal Leave…Did You Say…?

Heh…just got a text alert that Liberal Leave has been enabled at the Institute starting at 10:30. This of course, only applies to staff that had to be physically at the Institute today. For the rest of us, it’s still a work day regardless.

But I am not perturbed by any of this. Just curious as to whether businesses may finally get on board with work from home more broadly after the plague has passed by. Sure…no more snow days for many of us. But then no more rush hour traffic jams. Fewer accidents and traffic fatalities. Less wear and tear on the car (let alone the driver). Office space and all it’s overhead can be parsed down to only the essential staff. Not everyone can benefit from this, but lots of workers can, and if nothing else getting them off the highways and public transport is surely a good thing.


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by Bruce | Link | React!
December 12th, 2020

Once Upon A Time…

I remember skies
Reflected in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams…

I played this Moody Blues song lots after it was released in 1986. I’d moved on from that first tragically magical gay teen high school crush by then, and was busy impaling myself on the second big crush of my life. But I was also beginning to learn by then that you never really forget that first one either. When Morgan Jon Fox asked me if I was willing to chip in some funding for a short he was making The One You Never Forget it was as much because of my own feelings for that time in my life as that Morgan is an amazing filmmaker that I did it. But unlike the boy in Morgan’s film, I never got to ask that first one to the prom, let alone take him. It was 1971. Even in a better world where gay teens could do that I’m not sure I’d have been the one he said yes to. He was a catch. I’d have had competition. And I was just this scrawny little geek from the other side of the tracks.

I had no idea where he was…I imagined that he’d gone back to the South American land of his birth and was having a wonderful love life of his own down there. I knew I’d just have to live with it, but at the same time, whenever the chance arose, I would make inquires, throw little messages in a bottle out to the emerging computer networked world. Are you out there? Do you remember?

This one, and Ringo Starr’s Photograph really hit me with how it felt that he just suddenly vanished from my world, and I had no idea where he went, or what he thought about the times we managed to spend together, once upon a time. So of course they made it to the While Working On A Coming Out Story playlist I’m building. When I have something I’m satisfied with I’ll share it here. Like one of those embarrassing cassette mix tapes us kids used to give to our crushes back in the day.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Once Upon A Time…
December 9th, 2020

Horrible Draftsman Is Horrible

 

Last two panels of the last strip in episode 31. Notice all the erasure marks on the one on the left. No kidding, I really am a hunt and peck draftsman. It probably makes it a lot more work than it would otherwise be if I had more formal training. I just eyeball everything. But there is a method here to my drawing a figure and you can see a bit of it in the panel on the right.

I start with a bunch of circles and ovals and draw some rough grid lines over them and then start fleshing things out. Circles and ovals for the head, arms, abdomen and hips, a kind of odd triangular form for the chest and rib cage. It gives me a start on where to put things. I have no idea where I came up with this but it’s something I’ve used to help me get a figure drawn for ages. I suspect it’s stuff I’ve pulled from various artist’s guide books over the decades. A kind of desperate dumpster diving for an art education.

Note the bit of tracing paper I’ve taped to that last panel. This is my crutch. This panel was, for me, a complex pose, and I needed to get it just right for the gag at the end of the episode to work. I made several starts on it and wasn’t satisfied with about half of it, but the other half was in the ballpark. So I layed a bit of tracing paper over the part I liked to try various solutions for the part I couldn’t seem to get right. Doing this, I can just toss the paper overlay when I see myself backing myself into a rut, and just start over fresh on another piece of tracing paper if I needed to. I can also move the tracing paper around to see if adjusting it this way and that makes it any better. This saves me from potentially erasing all the way through the drawing below it in a struggle to find the right lines…like I almost did on the left panel (which I’m still working on…). When I get something I finally like, I’ll stick the tracing paper Under the drawing, trace over its lines to complete the drawing, and put it aside. Sometimes I just leave it there when I put the paper I’m going to do the inks over it.

There was more work to do but I know when it’s time to just stop for the night and see what I see when I look at it again with fresh eyes in the morning. Which I did early this morning. I think I have it all good now.

So now it’s on to the inks. The pencils are the hardest part of the work for me, and the most time consuming. And the part I’m always the most afraid of. But I think I’m finally learning that if I just keep struggling with it eventually I get it right. At least I’m getting more confidence in that.

Soon I’ll lay another sheet of the same art velium over this one, stick them both on the big LED light board, and do the inks. That way…and again this is all because I’m really insecure about my drafting abilities…if I screw it up I still have the untouched pencils and I can start over with a new sheet of art velium. It seems the pros all just ink right over the pencil lines. I will never have enough nerve to do that.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Horrible Draftsman Is Horrible
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