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April 4th, 2020

Keeping An Open Mind About It

After the heart attack, the cardiologist told me it was normal to be worried that every tiny little twitch and odd feeling in my chest was a precursor to another one. Everyone feels that way he said.

So now we have a plague virus that in some ways acts initially like a cold or flu. And every little sneeze, runny nose, dryness of throat and cough, makes you wonder…is this it? And oh by the way, it’s allergy season here in lovely central Maryland.

Also, I was informed recently that one or more of my daily heart meds can cause dry coughs as a side effect.

I keep thinking these days more than others about something I read long ago in one of Bill Mauldin’s books. He’s one of my heros of the political cartoon form, served in WWII and is known most of all for his Willie and Joe cartoons. I can’t find the exact passage just now, but he related how during his service in WWII he’d asked an infantryman once how he handled the constant stress of being on the front line and knowing he might take a bullet at any moment. The man said the trick was keeping an open mind about it. He told Mauldin that if you became certain you were going to die, or certain you would make it out alive, you’d probably end up doing something stupid and then getting yourself killed and maybe everyone around you too.

So…that advice from a man in the worst sort of harm’s way, keeping an open mind about it, keeps tapping me on the shoulder whenever I start getting anxious about anything. It may seem strange, but it’s what I kept in mind way back when I was interviewing for my first real job as a software developer for Baltimore Gas and Electric way back when. I had no degree and no expectation that it would amount to anything at all. Surely there were lots of other better qualified people than I competing for this position. But I went through with it keeping an open mind about it, and to my complete surprise it paid off. And now here I am.

Keeping an open mind about it every cough, every runny nose, every sneeze. It is allergy season after all. There is too much uncertainty now, but there are things the experts generally agree work and are preventative. Those recommendations keep getting updated so we have to keep paying attention to the latest updates. Just don’t get fatalistic about it in either direction. That isn’t helpful to you or anyone else.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
March 29th, 2020

I Love My City

Took a socially safe walk around my little Baltimore neighborhood. It’s grey and damp and chilly this morning, but at least for now while we’re allowed outside I need my walks. It’s not hard to stay a safe distance from everyone. Most folks outside these days are walking their dogs.

This was new…

 

My first thought was somebody’s trying to upstage one of Hampden’s neighborhood easter eggs, the legendary David Bowie bust. I’ll keep a watch to see if the window dressing changes.

I love my city..


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by Bruce | Link | React!

We Can Do It!

Via Tom Tomorrow. Lotsa WWII Posters about travel and rationing and pitching in at the home front are suddenly getting dusted off and shown…

 

Now just replace the photo next to the fan with one of a son or daughter in scrubs and you have a COVID-19 poster.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
March 22nd, 2020

Tales From The Plague…(continued)

My car is a diesel, a Very Nice three litre V-6 bi-turbo Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan. I bought it for their legendary longevity and fuel economy, which is nice for road tripping. But diesels don’t like being parked and not running for very long. Last time I let that happen when I did take it out it threw a check engine light and went into a kind of limp mode, that I was able to trace to a possibly stuck exhaust gas recirculation valve. After driving it a while the problem went away and hasn’t returned. Since I live within walking distance of work, and to most everything I need on a day to day basis, not letting the car sit for extended periods is something I have to manage. Usually that’s a nice weekend day long pleasure drive in the countryside. Now that we all need to stay indoors as much as possible due to COVID-19 that’s not really do-able.

The car has been sitting since last Tuesday afternoon when I took my house sitter to the train station for his return home. So today I figured I’d take it for just a short drive up I-83 to Shawan Road and back while we’re still allowed to leave the house. The idea was simply to at least get the engine up to temperature, and give it enough of a drive that if the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) needed a cleaning cycle it could get a full one. I can always tell when it’s been doing that right when I turn it off because it smells like something’s burning. Which…it is. But it’s supposed to be.

My street is more full of parked cars this morning than last, which I guess is good. Out on the highway traffic was exceptionally light…nearly non-existent…which is also good. The big electronic traffic billboards were all telling us to Stay Home, and it seemed this morning that most people were.

I felt reasonably sure that I wasn’t causing any problems by taking the car out for a routine maintenance drive and back as I never left the car until I got back home. At some point we may be officially told not to leave our homes at all and then I don’t know what I’ll do about the car. You folks with all electric cars you can charge at home have it pretty good right now, though I suppose gasoline burners don’t suffer as much from just being parked for extended periods like diesels can.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
March 21st, 2020

Tales From The Plague…(continued)

Krugman this morning…

 

This is what I’ve been thinking the past few days. All week long the street has been full of parked cars during what are normally business hours. My neighbors on either side of me have to work. One is a nurse, the other works in a homeless shelter. Some neighbors further down are retired, but the rest normally drive to work in the morning. Last week they all stayed home. Just this morning my end of the street is nearly empty of cars. Saturday morning is a typical time to go grocery shopping. People at the other end still look like they’re staying in.

A friend posts on Facebook…

“My introvert gene is saying, ‘Now you know why I am here. I saved countless numbers of your ancestors from plague.” This is just another step in ongoing evolution.

Heh…yeah. It’s almost spooky how well I’m taking the new reality. My employer has mandated work from home for the time being, and I’m content to stay home, but I need to at least get out and take a walk around the block periodically. It’s good for my mental health though I’m sure, that I can still continue to do my usual workday work even if it’s here at home. Work from home is easy for me to do…mostly. I have an office laptop here at Casa del Garrett, with the secure VPN software installed, and I have good broadband internet via the Comcast borg. There’s coming a time however, when I will have to go into the office to do system testing that cannot be done remotely. But that is being deferred for now.

My introvert gene is coming in very handy now. I’m lucky in that my winter stocks are still pretty good and I don’t actually need to go shopping and won’t for weeks. I have a house with things to do, deferred housework, work in the art room, film to develop and scan. I recently subscribed to Disney Plus and Curiosity Channel.

Plus I am an only child, and we onlies are almost preternaturally good at keeping ourselves company. When I need human company for the duration, social networking is fine by me. It was a lifeline when I was a young gay man, and I was an early adopter. I can definitely get through this without going mad. But I worry what Krugman there is worrying about. We need to flatten the curve for now, as much as possible.

I’m a heart patient. I’m fine, it wasn’t nearly as serious as it could have been, and I’m taking my meds. But if my heart starts acting up again, it would be nice to have an opening at Union Memorial. I probably won’t need it considering how good I’m doing…the stents seem to be settling in nicely. But it is a worry.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
March 20th, 2020

Tales From The Plague…

This came across my Facebook news stream this morning…

7 Family Members Test Positive For Coronavirus, 4 Dead

I’m thinking this is probably how my family in Pennsylvania felt way back when that killer flu was starting to make its way among their neighbors. But this is a different world, with a Much better understanding of virology, and how to treat people who become sick. And there is an expectation we have today, that they probably did not, of a vaccine, even if it’s many months away.

But still…right now we are in a very not good place with this…

I’m so very lucky. I’ll go into detail about that later…I really need to use this space to document how things are going during the struggle to contain and work ourselves through the COVID-19 outbreak. But that I have a job that allows me to work remotely and keep drawing a paycheck and paying my bills is a big part of that luck. So many others aren’t in the situation I am, particularly restaurant and service workers who live paycheck to paycheck. Government needs to help them, but given our current political reality here in this country I have no idea what is going to happen to them and it makes me angry.

In the meantime, a couple good links to beat back despair: Here’s a good, sober, reasoned and hopeful outlook from the man who helped defeat smallpox what to expect next…

The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming

And this speech by German Chancellor Merkel is a stunning example of leadership in a democracy. It is humane, logical, reasoned, and speaks to the heart and soul of her people. But also, to all of us, really, who believe in civilization, science, and the human status. I can’t help watching this and grieving for all we have lost here in the United States, as a culture of believers in the American Dream, and bearers of the torch of democracy and progress, since Reagan sold us on the shining city on the hill, where all that matters is getting yours and to hell with your neighbor.

There are subtitles for those of us who don’t speak German…I only know a few phrases. Watch, and feel your belief in the human status renewed. We don’t have a central government now that can speak to the spirit of mutual fellowship and duty within us, but we can at least take heart from those in other nations that do, as they once did back when we still stood for something worth fighting for…

 

 


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

Warm Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Nice weather over the weekend in Charm City. The Calico approves.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Warm Lazy Sunday Afternoon
February 16th, 2020

A Coming Out Story…Intermission 2…(continued)

Continuing with the Intermission, wherein I’ve sought answers about my sexual orientation in the bookstore, and purchased Doctor Pompous J. Fraudquack’s The TRUTH About Homosexuality…and I begin to read…

Intermission – What I Learned About Homosexuality. . . And Myself (Part 2)

I’m going to interleave this little story arc with the one I’m currently presenting, so if it gets a tad confusing blame my poorly developed storytelling skills. But this is where it’s all been building to. The subtitle of the cartoon is after all, The first person you come out to, is yourself. For some gay kids that isn’t easy, and it especially was not back in 1971.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story…Intermission 2…(continued)
February 15th, 2020

The Tao Of Love And Automobile Maintenance…Not Exactly In Harmony

Mercedes-Benz USA has some advice for the lovelorn this Valentines Day…

Yes…of course! A German boyfriend who is everything I ever wanted, good looking, solid, reliable, goes the distance, and a great ride, but periodically requires me spend thousands of dollars on him for maintenance. 

I don’t think the word for that is boyfriend.

A few days ago the cabin overhead lights in my car, a 2012 E350 Bluetec, went out. The map lights still worked, as did the rear cabin overhead light. But the main overhead light up front, just in front of the rear view mirror went out. The lights (there are two) are inside a ceiling panel with switches for the map lights, the rear cabin light, the sunroof and the emergency call system. Everything else was still working so I figured it was either a bulb or a fuse.

The other day I took the car to the new Mercedes mechanics I’ve been using in Westminster. They’re the folks who did the couple grand DEF tank heater replacement for about 500 bucks less than the dealer quoted and gave me a two year warranty on the repair which the dealer would not. I’ve been using them ever since and regard them highly. Today I was wanting my usual between regular service interval oil change, plus an inspection for the road trip to California I’m taking in March.

I got a call from them shortly after I got back to the office. They were recommending replacing some coolant hoses and a few other simple items. Then they got to the overhead cabin lights. It wasn’t a bulb or a fuse. There was an error code on the entire front ceiling control panel. It would have to be replaced. Cost: about a grand. The part was that expensive, I suppose because it controls all that other stuff too.

Mind you everything else is still working. It’s just the overhead cabin lights that aren’t. So…dig it. One-thousand bucks just to get my overhead cabin lights working again. This is what comes of jamming everything onto a single electric panel that nobody but Daimler can make because of the proprietary firmware embedded into it.

I found a source for one second hand, presumably from an accident car, for $75. This is versus the $750 the part costs from Daimler. For $75 I can take a chance on it working. Installing it is a bit tricky, but not beyond my means. But there is a catch. Having all those other features in it may still make a do it yourself repair impossible. One gotcha could be resynchronizing the sunroof. From what I read in the Mercedes forums some people get the sunroof synced on the first try. The steps for doing that are pretty simple. But other people never get it right. Then it has to go to a certified Mercedes mechanic with the certified Mercedes computer diagnostic and programming equipment. My mechanics have already told me they won’t work on customer supplied second hand parts because of liability issues.

So anyway…about Valentines Day this year…Dear MBUSA, I appreciate the thought…really…however…

The object of my affection and I are going through a rough patch these days. And the car too.  I really need to stop letting Germans get me twitterpated.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Tao Of Love And Automobile Maintenance…Not Exactly In Harmony
February 12th, 2020

It’s Not A Lifestyle And That’s Not Your Argument

Mat Staver: ‘Ex-Gay’ Bans ‘Force People Into An LGBT Lifestyle’

“Over 80 State and local governments have passed laws which effectively force people into an LGBT lifestyle,” Staver wrote on his group’s website. “Liberty Counsel is representing some of the victims of these morally shocking and deeply unconstitutional laws…”

First of all, there is no LGBT Lifestyle. That is the language of bigots. What we have are lives, and they compass all the possibilities of the human experience. Staver is admitting here, that he cannot see the people for the homosexuals. But there is something more to this. Something a tad duplicitous…

“Imagine that someone has come to you desperately pleading for help that you know you can provide. And imagine that you had undergone years of schooling and training, developing the skills and tools necessary to help that person and that you’re professionally licensed in this very field. You’re licensed to provide help, but God has called you to this work. But the law forbids you from helping because government bureaucrats, blinded by the LGBT agenda, want that person to drown in their misery.”

This will not be the argument they actually make in a court of law, since it hinges on ex-gay therapy actually being a benefit and not at all harmful, and there is ample evidence to the effect not only that it Is harmful and zero scientific evidence that it actually works. No. Note that “God has called you”.  The argument they will make in court is a religious freedom argument: that the religious beliefs of the therapists give them the right to dispense such treatments whether or not they are harmful. This is how the religious right hopes to nullify our civil rights laws.

But I would Love for them to go to court and make the argument that ex-gay therapy is medically sound and should be permitted on that basis. It would be another Proposition 8 trial debacle. Let their experts get up on the witness stand and defend their junk science. But they won’t dare, any more than they did during the Proposition 8 trial. The witness box is a lonely place to lie.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on It’s Not A Lifestyle And That’s Not Your Argument
February 9th, 2020

Memo, To The Lords Of Silicon Valley

What is your purpose? What is this brave new world that you are taking us to? Do you even know? Is it a place that merely exist in a set of principles? A belief system that will deliver us to a better world that you can’t precisely define, but you know will be better than the one you are taking us further and further away from? Do you even know where it is you are taking us?

Today I settled down to install the new version of the tax software I’ve been using for years. Alas, so I’m told under the shrink wrap, it does not work with the current version of one of the operating systems on one of my household computers. But I’m lucky in that I’m somewhat of a techno geek, plus I earn my living in IT. So I have several computers in my household network I can choose from. When I started the installer on the other machine I chose to install it on, I got a popup telling me that next year I’d better have updated my OS or I wouldn’t be able to use that one either. 

It’s not so simple though, because the latest and greatest versions of the operating systems, even Linux now, require the latest and greatest hardware. The least expensive solution then is to just take my taxes to a brick and mortar tax service, otherwise I’m paying over a thousand bucks just to use the next version of the tax software, which only costs me around fifty bucks. Oh I could get a cheaper computer I suppose, but then it’s only good for a few tasks and not the things I usually use my computers for, such as photo editing, artwork, and of course the software development tasks I perform for a living. I’d need to buy another one eventually to do everything else I normally do on a computer. A cheap computer then, is actually more expensive than a good one.

I have updated hardware in mind for sometime this year, but the budget isn’t there for it Right Now. And there is a reason I’ve dawdled over doing it. Several actually.

First, there’s the time consuming task of migrating everything over to the new computers. I mitigate that somewhat by storing my data on a network drive. But that applications and their configurations need to be migrated. Then I need to reconfigure the new computers for my network. That should be easy but with a variety of different operating systems it can be a little tricky. Then there are all the changes to the user interface I will need to learn. It takes time for it to stop being a constant struggle. Then, more critically, there are all the applications I depend on that the new versions of the operating systems will break. This is why I sweat blood over every security update.

The biggest culprit here is Adobe. Once they decided to force their users onto a software rental policy, where you must pay a monthly fee to keep the software activated, a lot of users, myself included, decided just to stand pat on the last perpetual licensed version. But that is not a sustainable practice, as evidenced by the notice on my tax software that it will shortly stop working on the older operating systems. Plus, Adobe is looking for ways to turn off software you’ve legitimately purchased, to force you into the population of renters. I had my Windows version of Photoshop bricked when Adobe decided, after letting me use it for two years, that it was a bulk license that had expired two years previously. So I’m actively looking for alternatives to all my Adobe artist’s tools. But that involves relearning an assortment of new user interfaces and again, that’s time I don’t have a lot of to spend at this stage of my life.

Which brings me to my main point. I’m close to my retirement years, and living on a fixed income therein. Going forward, I’m not going to have a lot of money to keep spending thousands of dollars every three or four years for the latest and greatest hardware, so the latest and greatest operating systems can run on it, so I can spend even more money on the latest and greatest versions of the software tools I use, so I can keep doing my artwork, or perhaps earning a bit more income as a software developer. And I’m in a good place compared to a lot of my fellow Americans, elderly and not. I appreciate that in the rarefied bistros and boutiques of Silicon Valley, income levels are a wee bit different from the rest of the country. But do you even take the occasional walk outside of your comfort zones? I mean, other than going to a tech conference somewhere?

I ask again, what is this brave new world you are taking the rest of us to? Let me take a step back: Why should anyone want to own a personal computer? What are they good for, that anyone would want to bring one into their household? Can you even make a case for why anyone should want to own one? There are good reasons to want food…and clothing…and a roof over our heads. There are good reasons to want health care, a decent education. There are essentials. Then there are nice to haves. Then there are luxuries. Where do you say the personal computer fit into this? 

I know what I can say. Let me say it with a story I’ve told here before. It takes place in the 1980s. Back in the early days of the personal computer. Back in the days of the Commodore C64, the Atari 400 and 800. Back when IBM produced the PC, and then the XT. Back in the days of MS-DOS. Back in the days of modems and the first dial up computer bulletin boards. Probably before some of you were born. 

I was a user on a small, single line dial-up BBS, whose sysop graciously added a gay echo board to the mix after I came out on a different board. It was the first time I had access to the wider gay community beyond my suburban neighborhood. Before that moment, the only access I had to any sort of gay community was a seedy local bar I wasn’t comfortable going into, and the yearly pride fests in downtown Washington DC around DuPont Circle.

It was a revelation. Here we all were, not just from all over America, but all over the world. There were linked BBS systems in Britain, in Japan, in Brazil and Ireland and the Netherlands. It was a chatty, gossipy, fun place. I got to know other gay people from all over the world, in a setting that wasn’t a dingy bar. And what I saw were people, all different kinds of people from all walks of life. We were human beings. The stereotypes fell away like tattered paper in the wind. 

One day, we got a post from a BBS in the Netherlands. It was short, and to the point. I can still vividly remember every word…

Hello. I’m 14 years old. I think I might be gay but I’m not sure. How did you know? What was it like for you?

That was it. That was all there was to it. And then something amazing and wonderful happened. From all over the world, or as much of it as we had connected at the time, this kid started getting coming out stories. Not the part where you come out to family and friends: the part where you come out to yourself.

The stories spanned the entire spectrum from awful to hopeful. Some got disowned, others accepted. There were tears and laughter, there was struggle and pride. You saw it all, day after day, post upon post. I posted mine, and read every one of the others. It went on for two weeks to silence from the original poster. Then finally they said something…

Thank you. You’ve all given me a lot to think about.

And that was it. We never heard another word from the kid. If a kid they were. Even then you had to know it could have been anyone. Perhaps someone trying to see if we were all a bunch of child molestors ready to pounce. Perhaps just a young teenager confused and worried. But I knew for certain watching that entire exchange, that for everyone posting their story, there were maybe dozens more watching raptly, hungry for those same answers.

And I saw it then. I saw what this technology had done for us, and that we would win this thing after all. When I came out to myself in December of 1971, everything I knew about homosexuality, and about what it was to be a homosexual, I had learned from the heterosexual majority. All the books, all the newspaper articles, all the pop culture representations on TV and the movies…everything I knew about homosexuality I had learned from heterosexuals. And now, thanks to this technology we could talk among ourselves. We no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes anymore.

That is what the personal computer did for me. For us. 

More specifically, that was what MS-DOS and an IBM PC I built from parts did for me. That is what modems and a dial up BBS systems running on 1980s hardware and software did for us. Yes, yes, the technology has improved greatly since then. You can do so very much more with a personal computer now, than you could back then. But…what for? To what end? What is the purpose being served, that could not have been served as well, if at all by those first personal computers and the software that ran on them, that we all have to spend a thousand dollars and more every three or four years or we’re kicked back out of the revolution due to lack of funds? What happens to anyone now, who could still benefit from the personal computer, but can’t keep spending this kind of money so frequently, and throwing away hardware that still works just fine, it just can’t run your latest and greatest software anymore. The hardware isn’t what’s dying, it’s your software that’s killing it. And that’s not all it’s killing. All those gay kids in the middle parts of the country…you know…where the main streets have been dying for decades…where the pulpits thunder at the homosexual menace, where the bullies prowl the school hallways and doors get slammed in gay faces because religious freedom…what happens to them now? What happens to the elderly, the shut ins, the low income workers struggling to make a better life for themselves? Can you even see the rest of us?

Tell me oh lords of silicon valley, what your latest and greatest hardware and software can do for me, for any of us, that can compare to what MS-DOS and it’s like did for many of us back in the 1980s. Yes I see a lot of shiny new bells and whistles. But what does it all amount to? Is the world any better for it? A thousand dollars plus every three or four years better for it? Really? What is your purpose? What brave new world are you taking us too?

Think about it…maybe…while you’re sitting on your billions in market value?

 


Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Memo, To The Lords Of Silicon Valley

Never Blame The Server For The Kitchen

I’m at the Texas Roadhouse in Hunt Valley, waiting for my usual Texas Roadhouse dinner. For a chain they do a very good house margarita, and I like the chicken critters. You get a couple sides along with that, and I always get the mashed potatoes and gravy, plus either corn or green beans. My cardiologist might not approve entirely, but it’s not something I go out to eat every day. I always eat at the bar because this gives me, the solitary diner, people to talk to.

Tonight I’m waiting for a hour for my food. Thank goodness the margarita and the bread rolls came out right away. First the servers get very apologetic, then a manager comes over and apologises too. It seems they’re having some wee trouble in the kitchen. An order very much like mine comes out of the kitchen, but goes over to someone else at the bar who refuses it. He had an order like mine but not exactly…I’m guessing one of the sides was different. I watch it go back to the kitchen wistfully. They can’t just give it over to me since it’s been served to someone else. Health code I reckon.

I wait, and I wait. Servers and manager are apologetic. I’m a regular there, if not a daily one. They know me not only by name, but by the food I always order. But besides being a regular, I also have a reputation for friendliness. I was once in their shoes, many, many years ago. I did the teenage burger flipper thing back in the early 70s. I did service staff work behind the counter at various jobs. I faced the public. I make six figures now, but I was raised by a single divorced mother back in a time when women made maybe sixty cents for every dollar a man made doing the exact same work. I remember. I remember that I never felt disadvantaged, though by some measures I probably was. I remember the optimism of those times, despite the ongoing cold war, that trickled down to even people such as us, living on a single mother’s income, living in cheap apartments and utterly dependant on public transportation to get anywhere. The future was full of promise back then, even for the likes of us. Not anymore. That mom could raise a boy and that boy could get a decent public school education even then, while nowadays people working service jobs are struggling to make ends meet working two or three jobs and their kid’s education is going into the toilet because baby Jesus cries whenever evolution is taught makes me Angry. I give the service staff every break I can when I’m a customer. But there is even more to it at this particular moment.

Eventually my food comes, and it’s as expected. I have a bunch of these cuisine ruts where I just want the same old thing because the same old thing is actually pretty good, and tonight late as it was the food is pretty good and I am satisfied. While on a road trip or vacation I will avoid the big chains because why bother travelling and then just eat what you can always get back home. But at home I will reliably go for the familiar, though I try more often now to make that a local business rather than a chain. So I’m happy, and the staff is busy with the next problem, because tonight the kitchen is serving up a lot of problems. The manager has told me a lot of kitchen staff didn’t show up that night, and I think to myself but don’t say it outloud, that maybe they’d have fewer nights like this if they paid a decent wage. But that isn’t their call when you answer to a headquarters far away, which in turn answers to some hedge fund somewhere.

I ask for my check. I have a handy smartphone app that calculates tips. My innate math abilities are why I kept a slide rule handy at all times way back in the day, and a smartphone now. The manager has graciously given me a free meal tonight because I had to wait an hour for my food. The margarita is all that I’m paying for tonight, because Maryland won’t let them give alcohol away free. Carry Nation would object to their serving it at all so I’m fine with that. Thankfully, the check shows me what the food would have cost, had I been charged for it. I add it all up, consult my tip app, and figure what the tip would be had I been charged for the food too, add that to the bill, and hand some cash over to the server with an explanation that I’m tipping for the full amount.

My server is stunned…oh you don’t have to do that…  Yes I do. Because some years ago I reconnected with my high school crush. Because I found out he’s still making a living as a waiter earning tips. Because I’m a geek and I did a little research on the working lives of waiters. Because I was floored to learn that they’re exempt from the federal minimum wage. Because I happen to know that the people working behind the bar here at Texas Roadhouse, and waitering the tables, earn about three dollars an hour. Because at that wage the tips stop being a gratuity and become the difference between paying rent and putting food on your own table or having to choose between the two. Because I am old enough to remember a time when a single working mother could provide for herself and her boy on 65 cents on the dollar for every dollar a man made. It wasn’t a fabulous life but I never went to bed hungry, or out the door in dirty clothes. Because I am angry and I don’t want to be. Because enough of my fellow Americans keep voting to make this a reality for their neighbors and I am goddamned certain that many of them have had lives similar to mine. Where did you people bury your fucking conscience?

I explain some of this to my server. At least times have changed enough now that I can tell the story and not reflexively change the gender of my high school crush in the telling. My server thanks me profusely and assures me my high school crush would be happy too. Well I don’t know about that, we’re not speaking anymore. My love life is an empty pit. But at least I still want this to be a better world.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Never Blame The Server For The Kitchen
February 8th, 2020

Smartass Phone

Listening to my iTunes library while doing my cardio therapy workout. I queue up the Swing playlist. While I’m on the most difficult (for me) machine, the iPhone helpfully starts playing Glenn Miller’s take on Song Of The Volga Boatmen


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Smartass Phone

The Devil Wears A Respectable Republican Cloth Coat . . .

I said it once before (on twitter) but it bears repeating: Bret Stephens is bad but he’s just the frat boy who yells dumb stuff at women, pulls Cs in his classes, and coasts through life on daddy’s money and connections. David Brooks is the fraternity president who lies to the cops about the pledge’s body they stuffed in the chimney.

One thing that I’ve had the misfortune to learn as I’ve gotten older is that some people are bad. Not bad on the outside/good on the inside, not “flawed”, just bad, irredeemably, sociopathically bad. David Brooks is one of these people.

Doug at Balloon Juice.

That learning as you get older, or more specifically accepting, that some people are just rotten to the core, as my bitter Baptist grandmother would often say, is one of the sadnesses about old age. Also one of its benefits.

It seems like a cop-out, just writing some people off as irredeemably, unchangeably, bad. And it’s true that you should always allow some degree of uncertainty about it, even if microscopically small. We are neither gods nor angels equipped to pass eternal judgement on anyone. But when someone tells you what they are, and does it again, and again, and again, and again, it’s probably time to start believing them. The benefit to being old is you stop being so shocked to see it in someone who looks so very respectable on the outside.

I’m a gay man. I came out to myself December 15, 1971, after my high school crush put an arm around my shoulders and I went into the stratosphere. It was magical. I was twitterpated. I have never doubted ever since that there is nothing wrong with us gay folk. But the world I was growing up in back in the 1970s had a different view. And ever since then I’ve seen probably hundreds of decent, respectable Sunday Go To Meeting people take that belly flop into the sewer with their eyes wide open every time the facts collided with their cherished prejudices. The difference between the kid I was and the oldster I am now is I believe it when I see it.


Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Devil Wears A Respectable Republican Cloth Coat . . .

Here Comes Valentine’s Day Again

This is for all the Valentine’s Days I missed out on. Because it’s hard to date when you’re growing up in a world that throws a torrent of abuse at people like you. Because all the nice boys I was attracted to were too terrified to be out, let alone proud. Because righteous people needed our hopes and dreams for their stepping stones to heaven. And because “people who look like that want people who look like that.”

My entire purpose in doing A Coming Out Story is it’s a message in a bottle to whom it may concern, that gay kids need a break. Let them have that magical first crush. Let them have their prom nights. Be the one who tells them “you’re alright kid.”

—-
“No, Mama, I wasn’t “recruited.” No seasoned homosexual ever served as my mentor. But you know what? I wish someone had. I wish someone older than me and wiser than the people in Orlando had taken me aside and said, “You’re all right, kid. You can grow up to be a doctor or a teacher just like anyone else. You’re not crazy or sick or evil. You can succeed and be happy and find peace with friends — all kinds of friends — who don’t give a damn who you go to bed with. Most of all, though, you can love and be loved, without hating yourself for it.”

“But no one ever said that to me, Mama. I had to find it out on my own, with the help of the city that has become my home. I know this may be hard for you to believe, but San Francisco is full of men and women, both straight and gay, who don’t consider sexuality in measuring the worth of another human being.

“These aren’t radicals or weirdos, Mama. They are shop clerks and bankers and little old ladies and people who nod and smile to you when you meet them on the bus. Their attitude is neither patronizing nor pitying. And their message is so simple: Yes, you are a person. Yes, I like you. Yes, it’s all right for you to like me, too…”


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Here Comes Valentine’s Day Again
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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This page and all original content copyright © 2015 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

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