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July 17th, 2017

Having The Prom You Never Had

Wow…so many conflicting feelings about this…

At prom for gay adults, a second chance at a night worth remembering

Leland Gray, a 30-year-old manager at a local HVAC company, dreamed up the event and organized it in his spare time. So many of his gay friends had shared similar stories of regretting prom, just like he had. They’d been scared or confused or trying to be something they weren’t to please their parents.

“Doing it our way this time around.” That’s what Leland had written on the online page he created to promote the event a couple months ago.

He’d expected a few dozen people to come.

He had to cut off ticket sales at 250.

I’m not conflicted for the grownups still aching for their inner teenager to finally have their prom night. I’m happy for them. But who would I have asked…who would have gone with me…those are deep waters I might not want to disturb.

Had I lived in a time when gay kids could be open about it and figure out amongst ourselves who was a good match for whom, the dates we would have actually taken to a prom might surprise the adults we later became. But we did not grow up in that world, and my school was a small one. We had to hide, often even from ourselves because knowing could be fatal. It was survival. And that meant you couldn’t date, couldn’t even talk about it among your friends let alone your family, and couldn’t tell who was right for you, and who was not.

In a different world it might more likely have been some kid from another school that I met at the church Coffee Shop in Rockville, or elsewhere…maybe some gay teen social event organized by some caring supervising adults who just want to make sure that every kid gets a chance at that first magical romance. When you are few you have to network in ways others don’t. And it’s something else that grieves me to think about, so I try not to very much, that in that other imaginary better world I might have met that one special teenage heart that I never got a chance to meet in the world I that did grow up in, and now will never know.

There was no prom for me, and I don’t think there ever will be. But it’s good that some of us are reclaiming that ground now, while there is still time left. If you lucked out and settled in with The One, and the two of you didn’t have your prom, you should go organize one. It’s never too late to dance that one magical night.

by Bruce | Link | React!
July 9th, 2017

Notes On Train Travel

Last week I went to Walt Disney World on a wee vacation. I needed to renew my annual pass, and the July Fourth week seemed a good time to go. Florida is getting hot this time of year, but that just means the water parks will be inviting. But the road trip down I-95 and back isn’t fun anymore. There are more and bigger traffic knots these days. And where before I could just stop anywhere for the night and get a motel room wherever I happened to be just then, now it’s a race between me and all the other drivers to get the last remaining rooms. Last three trips down I’ve had to use the motel apps on my iPhone to make sure I could get a room at the town ahead of me. So between traffic stress and motel stress the road trip down wasn’t the fun and relaxing start and end to my vacation it used to be. Worse, last January coming home I hit a major snowstorm between North Carolina and Virginia that cost me an extra day travel and…almost…a car wreak.

So this time I took the train. And it was perfect, even allowing for the fact that we were nearly nine hours late getting back to Baltimore because of a derailment in Virginia. I haven’t traveled by train in decades. The last time was a trip down to Florida to visit a friend after he’d graduated from college and found a job in West Palm Beach. But before that, before Amtrak, mom and I traveled by rail down to Florida several times, to Lauderdale By The Sea. So when I stepped onto my train at Penn Station here in Baltimore it all came back to me. Well…most of it. And the fact is I haven’t enjoyed a Disney World vacation like this in too long of a time. So I’ve pretty much settled on this mode of transportation to and from Florida for the foreseeable future. Let me explain why.

  • Flying was pretty much out.  I have traveled by air many times on business, and where I used to enjoy the view from above very much, the airlines have made traveling such a miserable experience now I just don’t want to deal with it. I am not a very big guy and I feel cramped in those seats. I can’t imagine how big or tall folks manage it. And I keep hearing way too many airline horror stories. It seems as if not a week goes by but that some fresh new hell is being visited on passengers. The last time the Institute sent me somewhere (Boulder Colorado) I negotiated a road trip out of it instead of flying. Someday I would like to travel the world. I am seriously considering doing that by boat.

  • Time is not critical when it’s your vacation. Or at any rate it shouldn’t be. Your vacation ought to be a time when you can forget about the clock and just let time pass and the days be whatever they will be.  One of the most common complaints about passenger rail travel is here in the United States the trains are frequently late. More about that below, but for now just hold this thought: time isn’t always critical. For my vacations I just want to forget about the clock and let my day be whatever it is going to be. And by the way, this is why I maintain an annual pass for Walt Disney World. It gets me a whole year to be wherever I want to be in the parks, whenever I feel like being there. It takes the pressure off needing to get the most for your money out of your tickets. This trip, I booked a seat on the train and didn’t particularly care when it got me to Orlando, just so it was sometime during my check-in date. For the trip home I scheduled a train to get me back to Baltimore a day early, as I have always done on my road trips, because I like having that extra day to unpack and relax at home before heading back to work.
  • You can get a room of your own on a train. This was a big deal for me. It’s what makes train travel utterly unlike any other mode of overland transportation, unless you are very rich. Even doing the RV thing isn’t the same, because you’re driving that thing down the highway and you can’t just park it anywhere you want when you need to rest or sleep. Amtrak offers these little spaces called Roomettes, which are basically just barely big enough to two people. But you get privacy and the ability to take a snooze whenever you feel like it and you’re not in a cattle car full of other noisy people and the lights don’t go out until the conductor says they do. If you can afford it, there are full sized sleeper rooms with their own private bathrooms and showers. On the east coast routes the Viewliner roomettes also have their own sinks and toilets. On the long distance western routes the double decker Superliner roomettes don’t have sinks and toilets, but those cars have three bathrooms on the first level and one on the second. All the sleeper cars have showers the roomette passengers can use. 
  • Long distance trains have dinning and lounge cars. If you get a room on the train, meals are included. You make your reservation for a seat in the dinning car and when you’re seated you get asked your room number and they give you a ticket to sign and that’s it. But remember to leave a tip all the same! The food on my train to Florida and back was excellent. If you have a room you can ask your car attendant to bring you your meal (tip your car attendant at the end of your trip!). But a big advantage trains have over everything else but ocean liners is you can get up and walk around, stretch your legs and move about. And the roomettes are pretty tiny, so it’s nice to be able to get out and take a stroll from time to time.

    The Amtrak lounge cars these days are your basic snack bar and some seats for reading, fiddling with a laptop or smartphone, or just watching the scenery go by. I was hoping for a bar that served mixed drinks too…this was standard for lounges back in the golden age of passenger rail service, but not so much now. I judged from the menu that all they had were a few assorted miniatures and no cordials, so I skipped it. If you have a room you can pack your own liquor and snacks, which I did. But watching the scenery go by was so entrancing I never bothered opening my bottle of Grand Marnier. (That bottle’s been to Florida and back twice now and not been opened, poor thing…)

  • The train was not that much more expensive. Make your reservation early enough and the prices are very reasonable. I worked the numbers…a roomette only cost me a couple hundred more than driving it would have accounting for fuel, food, wear and tear on the car, and motels along the way. And now I’m being driven, I can just kick back and enjoy the scenery the whole way. And having the room of my own basically eliminated the worry about getting a room at the end of my day’s travels. My room was traveling along with me.

    If you think you can handle coach the tickets are very cheap and you still get most of the advantages of having that train you can stroll around on, and the dining and lounge cars. The dining car isn’t exclusive to the people with rooms, coach can use it too, but it’s pricy if you don’t have that room ticket. So alternatively you can get your basic snacks, hot dogs, chips and soft drinks in the lounge.

So that’s my rational for taking the train to Florida now, and for the foreseeable future. I will probably still do the road trip thing for my western travels. Next month I’m driving to Kansas to visit a friend and see the solar eclipse. But for now…I’m loving the train.  Here’s some more notes on that…

  • It’s not for everybody. I was introduced to long distance train travel when I was a young boy, so a lot of memories all came back when I boarded that train and for me there were no unpleasant surprises. But I can see where it might not be so much for others. The big thing is the motion of the train would take some getting use to. Doubly so if you’re doing an overnight, whether in coach or in a sleeper. You would think gliding along over two shiny steel rails would be the smoothest ride on earth, but actually it isn’t. The rails have switches, intersecting sets of tracks, and various other joints and dings that make themselves felt as you ride. And sometimes the track beds aren’t in the best of shape. That’s because of a fact of life regarding rail travel I’ll go into more below. But my point now is riding by train can seem a lot like sea travel. The train rocks and rolls. It moves side to side, and when you’re walking from one car to another and the train hits a curve you need to be ready to steady yourself. You develope your train legs, much like a sailor gets their sea legs. And much like a set of sea legs, your train legs will persist for a while after you have deboarded.

    I’d forgotten that last as I arrived at Walt Disney World. I had a rental car waiting for me at the station, and I drove it to my hotel which was just across the street from Disney Springs. After I settled into my room I took a walk over to Disney Springs to get my annual pass renewed, when I suddenly began to get wobbly feet. It felt for an instant as if the sidewalk was moving, or I was loosing my balance. Then I remembered. Oh…yes…the train is still moving… 

    It all came back to me as a pleasant, lovely even, re-experiencing of a childhood joy. But I can see it surprising and maybe even disturbing others. And especially so if you’re doing an overnight. If the sensation of being in motion would keep you from getting a night’s sleep, then maybe long distance train travel isn’t for you. The train rocked me to sleep and I loved every minute of being on my trains there and back. Your mileage may vary, but let me say this: if you can manage it, there is nothing else quite like long distance train travel and you owe it to yourself to experience it at least once. You might come back for more.

  • There’s a reason why our country has substandard passenger train service compared to other developed nations, and even some third world countries. The rail companies came first, before the automobile, before the airplane, back in a time when travel was by foot or by car or by boat if there was an available waterway. The railroads were the miracle of the industrial age and they bridged the continent, made it possible to move people and goods from one coast to the other in mere weeks that once took wagon trains months, if they made it at all, and ships having to round Cape Horn but only if the weather and the sea looked kindly on your ship. The rail companies were the wonder technology of the age. And they were, and have always been, privately owned for profit corporations whose rails were private property. During the western expansion the rail companies (like a lot of companies back then) were predatory as all hell, and much of what came to be government intervention in the economy came about as a reaction to that predatory capitalism of the times. But the rail companies goosed the economy with their ability to move people and goods at fantastic speed and the nation grew and its economic infrastructure grew along with it, but in that same capitalistic mode where everything in the economic infrastructure was privately owned.

    Then came the Great Depression and the second world war and for the rail companies two significant things changed. First, there was Dwight D. Eisenhower, who before he became president, before he became leader of the allied forces, was a soldier on a convoy traveling along US Route 30, or as it was called, The Lincoln Highway.

    From a military perspective that convoy was a disaster. Bridges could not accommodate the equipment, long sections of the road were unpaved and equipment kept getting stuck, the convoy traveled at a snail’s pace. Good thing they weren’t rushing to reinforce a battle line somewhere. Years later Eisenhower, a soldier in that convoy, now the supreme commander of the allied forces in Europe, led his armies into Germany to defeat the fascists. And there he beheld the Autobahn. It must have seemed to him like he was seeing a new world. And he knew right away why Hitler had it built and it wasn’t to give German drivers a faster more scenic way to get from here to there.

    Years later as president, he pushed for something like it to be built here in the U.S.A. and so the Interstate Highway System came to be. And also why the island of Hawaii has an interstate highway. Yes, it’s a state surrounded by the Pacific ocean. You can’t throw a bridge across it to the mainland. But no, the Interstate is not pork barrel. Look at H-1 on the map. It’s on the island of O’ahu, and it connects the military bases, airports and naval port. It is a fundamental part of the specification of the Interstate highway system, that its roads, bridges, and tunnels can support and accommodate tanks and other military equipment.

    But why goodness gracious that also means it can support passenger cars. And…heavy trucks. And now the rail companies have competition over freight traffic from the trucking industry and passenger traffic has an alternative to long distance coast to coast rail travel. Motels began to spring up along the Interstates. And restaurants and truck stops. And it was built with taxpayer money, for public use, to be owned by the people of the United States. And since the great depression, that public ownership for a public good wasn’t considered unusual or immoral anymore. Except by a certain subsection of the American pews that never got over or forgave FDR and his communist New Deal. But there was another blow to come and it came from the sky, once again by way of the Germans.

    The jet airplane. And once again the military beheld a new world, and once again they made it happen, and once again new businesses followed. And the airports and the air traffic infrastructure that serviced the new jet set were built with public money, to serve a public good because now the public good wasn’t a dirty thought anymore. Except among the usual suspects. And now the rail companies, which once counted their passenger lines as status symbols, allowing travelers to cross the country in mere days in comfort and luxury, began losing money to an industry that could fly passengers coast to coast in just a few hours. It took another decade, but it was the end of the grand passenger trains. Bulk freight was the one area they were still profitable because no other mode could compete there but the freighter ships and they had to take a detour through the Panama Canal to go from coast to coast. So the rail companies, instead of competing with the new modes of passenger transportation, bailed. And you could have seen it coming because their business model from the beginning was about preventing competition, not meeting it head-on and winning customers. Where the Super Chief ran, no other railroad could because the railroad owned that property. Same for the California Zephyr. Yes they both ran from Chicago to California, but by different routes servicing different points along the way. Competition such as it was during the western expansion was for territory because if you had territory you controlled the traffic there. Rail companies gobbled up huge tracts of land, largely to keep other rail companies out so they could charge the local farmers and ranchers whatever they damned well pleased that the market would bear. So when actual competition hit them they walked away from the market altogether.

    I think they could have done it. They had enticements the others simply could not match if they wanted to exploit them. But actual competition was not in the cultural DNA. 

    Which is why we have Amtrak now. Otherwise there would be no long distance passenger rail service at all. But it’s also why Amtrak is at a disadvantage compared to passenger rail service in other nations, and why the airlines and the auto industry and all the ancillary service industries for the road traveler are doing a good business, while passenger rail is hanging on by a thread. Elsewhere, that public money for public good thing isn’t considered immoral. Here it’s a deeply held religious belief that government should not interfere with business. Well…for the public benefit. For private profits it’s just nature’s way because what else are congressmen For? It’s no random happenchance that the man remembered most for saying “The public be damned” was a railroad tycoon (he was complaining about having to run a city passenger line for less than costs because his competition wanted those passengers too). For decades since Amtrak was established the republicans have been trying to kill it like they’ve been trying to erase everything about FDR’s New Deal because socialism. Sure air and highway travel are way more massively subsidized than Amtrak ever was. But the trucking industry, the auto industry, the airline and aircraft industries, the hospitality industry, all have money they can throw at congress. And so can the rail companies which hate Amtrak because it’s using their rails and that’s not only socialism it’s big government stealing from private property owners. Amtrak only has its passengers to speak for it. But so far that’s been enough to keep it running. 

    But not enough to build it into a world class passenger rail service. What we have now is good…much Much better than it was when it was first established and all it had was the cast off equipment the rail companies didn’t want anymore. The new engines and cars are wonderful. But it all runs on a set of privately owned rails and the rail companies don’t give a shit about passenger traffic.

    The rest of us need to. In all the talk about fixing, repairing and maintaining the national infrastructure, we need to pay more attention to the rail infrastructure too. But that’s a problem because of the nature of how it all came to be. The rails were and always have been private property. The rest of the transportation infrastructure is publicly financed and publicly owned. Difficult as it is in this era of Donald Trump republicanism, it’s still lots easier to have a discussion about what to do about the highways than it is about the railroads because the railroads were never a public resource and they still have that public be damned thing in their DNA.

    Milton Friedman, the darling of Randians everywhere, famously said that the only responsibility a corporation has is to increase shareholder profits and that everything else is socialism. We as a nation need to get over that mindset. Big business in this country is subsidized by the public in nearly everything it does and if that isn’t socialism too then nothing is and socialism is just a scarecrow they wave around when they want the public benefit without the public obligation. It’s time private industry acknowledged that no corporation is an island, and gave some equal concern to nurturing the democracy and the social infrastructure that made their business and their profits possible. There is after all, no free lunch.

 

by Bruce | Link | React!
July 5th, 2017

I’m Sorry

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I wasn’t braver back then. It might have made a difference in both our lives. Maybe.

 

by Bruce | Link | React!
June 6th, 2017

Health Fair Notes

One of the nice spiffs of working in a place that actually cares about employee health and wellness is they have an annual Health Fair here, where they set up booths you can visit and get various simple but informative tests done. They had one today at work, and I went to some of the booths/tables. There was a new one that gave you an overall “inside the body” age, based on weight, body mass, body fat percentage, skeletal muscle percentage, visceral fat level and resting metabolism. It gave me an inside the body age of 49, which I’ll happily accept (I’m 63). Other tests were pretty good also, including happily the cardiac recovery test which had me doing vigorous step exercise for three minutes. I am not a high burn exercise kind of guy and was proud just to have finished the test (my knees aren’t shot yet), but they gave me a solid “normal” grade so there’s that too.

The general consensus was that even though I don’t do much formal exercising, the fact that I don’t smoke (cigarettes) and my day usually includes at least a couple miles or more of walking (back and forth to work when the weather is good, and an evening walk around the neighborhood before bed), that’s kept me in pretty good health despite the fact my job has me sitting down a lot. Also my vertical Baltimore rowhouse has me doing steps a lot. No…seriously…a Lot. Fact is, even at work I get up a lot and go talk to people rather than email or message them because I fidget too much if kept seated for too long and won’t sit still. Just ask any of my elementary school teachers. Plus I got a FitBit to remind me to get up and take a walk in case I get zoned out doing code work or documentation.

So I’m in pretty good health for my age. Which is something to think about whenever I get to fretting over it because it’s so horrible on mom’s side of my family tree.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Health Fair Notes
June 1st, 2017

Young Pride

I can’t wait for them to finally release this short film. That kid…  He really takes me back…

in a heartbeat pride

Happy Pride, everyone!

The month of June is often considered LGBT+ Pride month to commemorate the Stonewall riots which occurred in June 1969. Because of this, many LGBT+ Pride events are held around the world during June to celebrate love, diversity, and acceptance.

Have fun, stay safe, and celebrate love this month!

In A Heartbeat – Animated Short Film

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Young Pride
May 31st, 2017

The Internet Highway This Morning

covfefe south of the boarder

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Internet Highway This Morning
May 24th, 2017

More Heartbeat…

From the In A Heartbeat Facebook page

Hi everyone! Thanks to our Kickstarter backers we were able to work with a Spaniard composer we had only once dreamed to work with, Arturo Cardelús. His music has elevated our film in indescribable ways, and he has uploaded a piece of it for you to listen in his youtube channel.

We were also able to fly to meet him in LA for the live recording session of the score, which we’ll be sharing more with you later.

Check it out and give him some love…

Excuse me…I have something in my eye…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on More Heartbeat…
May 17th, 2017

This Was So Much Me…

heartbeat-lede 

Teen Vogue posted an article about a new short animated film I’ve suddenly begun following closely…

“In a Heartbeat” Short Film Features a Boy’s Heart Chasing the Guy of His Dreams

Around a few weeks ago, the internet quietly fell in love with In a Heartbeat, a short film about a closeted young boy who falls into the treacherous situation of possibly being outed: by his own heart. In the production, the lad’s heart pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams.

It started out as the thesis project of two seniors, Beth David and Esteban Bravo, studying Computer Animation at the Ringling College of Art and Design. They started a Kickstarter fundraiser so they could get money to pay for a music composer and sound designer. The link to the Kickstarter was only posted on their personal Facebook page but it took off and they got funding beyond their wildest dreams, all of which they’ve been putting to use on their project. 

I can see why, just from the bits and pieces they’ve shown. The short won’t be released until next month…they’re hooking it to Gay Pride. But the premise is something that…as is being echoed all over Facebook…gives you all the feels.

Even someone my age…or especially someone my age, who grew up in a time when gay teenagers were simply not allowed to have crushes, let alone see our lives and our struggles to find that special someone reflected on the screen. I’ve been trying for over a decade now to put my own Coming Out Story out there…in dribbles and drabs as I can find time to spend at the drawing board. These two filmmakers have captured the essence of it…all the terrifying joy of that first crush. A closeted young boy falls into the treacherous situation of possibly being outed by his own heart which pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams…

That is brilliantly clever, and it was so much Me…and probably lots of other gay folk of my generation as well, and also those that followed. The closet isn’t just one door but many; and that first door out is often the hardest one to open.  As the subtitle to my cartoon story says: The first person you come out to is yourself… I remember so very well that terrifying yet magical time when my heart was more ready than I was to know.

 in-a-heartbeat-sm

Yes…it seems to have worked out better for the kid in this animated short than it did for me. But that’s art, which as Picasso said, is a lie that makes you see the truth. Gay kids of my generation seldom got the happy ending. I sure didn’t. And yet despite all the heartbreak and disappointment I’ve endured since that first magical crush, I can still look back on it fondly and gratefully. It Was magical.

I can’t wait to see the entire thing. In the meantime…here’s the first official trailer. Their Facebook page is Here.

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on This Was So Much Me…
May 6th, 2017

Rite Of Spring

It’s spring, and I’m now two weeks into the spring diet routine and comfortably back into my 31 waist blue jeans again. I realize dieting is very hard for a lot of people, but for me it’s basically don’t eat sugary treats, eat only when actually hungry, and then only those very bland foods I had as a kid and a young adult of very limited means. Dieting is painful to me, only to the degree that I have to go back to food that bores the hell out of me. But I hear this is a common complaint. It also reminds me of how uncertain I was about my future, and that without the lucky breaks I had I might still be living in someone’s basement eking out a living doing odd jobs.

When I started making a good living as a contract programmer I could easily splurge on all the nice rich calorie laden food I couldn’t have when I was younger. Around that same time the pounds began to mysteriously accumulate. I went from 120 to 160, and a 28 inch waistline to a 33 inch one, and those pants were beginning to feel tight. I put it down to an aging body. Mom was a small, thin as a rail woman before she had me. As she got older, she got heavier. Her dad, according to the photos I have of him, had the same pattern. I figured it was my fate too, and just let it slide.

Then one day I found my high school crush and he asked me for a photo. For reasons unknown around that same time I decided to try and get my slim figure back again. As it turned out what was killing me was mostly sugar, and when I tried to cut back I was surprised at how addicted I’d become to it. When I was a teenager I could snarf down all the candy and cookies and cupcakes I wanted. Apparently you can’t keep doing that in middle age.

So I’m back in my 31s now and feeling good about sticking to the diet the rest of the month. The routine is I get my waistline back by summer and I maintain until the end of the year and stuff your face holiday season, which coincides with winter and staying indoors most of the time and being less active season…and so the waistline expands…then it’s back to spring dieting again… So I’m told lots of people subscribe to this plan.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Rite Of Spring
April 29th, 2017

Onions Onions La La La…

I feel sorry for this guy. Really.

Middle-Age-Waiter-Going-Nowhere

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Onions Onions La La La…
April 24th, 2017

Wish You Could See Your Space Cadet Kid Now Mom…

Got a chance to sit for a few moments in the test director’s seat this afternoon, in the Flight Ops room, and talk with White Sands on the NASA voice loop during a test of JWST data links. I’m still in training for this slot, and won’t be single-handedly directing tests for a while, but it was so very cool to be talking with other ground stations on the NASA loop…nervous first timer though I was…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Wish You Could See Your Space Cadet Kid Now Mom…
April 23rd, 2017

The Science Of Shadows And Light

I went to the March for Science in Washington D.C. More about that later. But I’m back home now, and the first thing I did naturally was offload my digital photos onto the network drive. I’ll put them into Lightroom in a bit and post a new photo gallery later. The rally was taxing enough on my sixty-three year old body that I had to bail out before the march actually happened, and retreat to my hotel room. But I got a bunch of good shots at the rally on the Washington Monument grounds so I’m happy.

Later, after my legs recovered a bit and I got some energy back, I took a dinnertime walk around D.C. and snapped off a few shots with the mini Hasselblad (Sony) of what was left of the march ephemera after all the crowds were gone and the streets were nearly empty and it was still drizzly because I’m a weird old fuck and I was in a gloomy mood just then. If you’ve seen my art photography here you know what was coming. And I wasn’t sure even as I was taking those shots whether or not I wanted to include them in a gallery of shots of the March for Science. What comes out of me at those times when I’m doing it for the pure art of it is pretty dark. I can see that photographic eye in everything I do and I don’t really like it. But it’s worse when I’m not working on a theme or an event. Then it’s the pure inner photographic eye that comes out. I was pretty sure none of that belonged in a gallery with the science march.

As I wandered, I found a street sign…one of those historical markers D.C. has been putting around town. This one told me the studio of Mathew Brady was nearby  on Pennsylvania Avenue, and that it was relatively unchanged from when he lived there. So I tried to find it just to nod in fellowship to whatever memories might still be lingering there…

Mathew B. Brady was one of the first American photographers, best known for his scenes of the Civil War. He studied under inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, who pioneered the daguerreotype technique in America. -Wikipedia

But of course it had no marking plaque or even a street number over the door so I’m still not sure I saw the right one. But something had drawn me there. Obviously since I’m at the March for Science, I count myself as a person of science. But I am also an artist, and those two sides of me were excruciatingly difficult to reconcile when I was a teenager, until I read Jacob Bronowski’s little book, Science and Human Values.  I try to be rational about things, but there are moments when I feel moved by a spirit I have no name for. That was one of them.

I am not a camera, the camera is me. What comes out of it is me. But also what was actually there. The reality within and without. The cold grey drizzle. The nearly but not quite empty streets. What I saw. How it made me feel. In no other art are both those things quite that literally true. The photographic image is fixed by light entering the camera and it exists in a fixed time and place, but the what the photographer sees is within and timeless. Brady was the first to show us what war looks like via the camera’s unflinching deterministic eye. But it was also a mirror held up to ourselves. This too is human. In retrospect it was a perfect sort of serendipity being drawn to Brady’s studio that evening because probably no other art owes as much to science as photography. Chemistry, optics, the physics of light. The camera shows us what was there, and in the process tells us what it is to be human. Whether or not we want to know it.

 

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reflection-sm

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Science Of Shadows And Light
April 5th, 2017

Unstuck In Facebook Time

Something Facebook kindly threw in my face this morning, because it loves me: how it was before the Crisis (or whatever it was, I’ve no idea, I was out of the loop…) Of Summer 2012, after which our conversations could no longer be private.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 9.01.04 AM

So it goes as the Tralfamadorian’s would say…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Unstuck In Facebook Time
April 4th, 2017

Best Happy Hour Ever!

Here’s what I did during Happy Hour last Friday…

jwst_visit

How was Yours?

(I’m the guy in the orange Mountain Parka on the right…)

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Best Happy Hour Ever!

Just…Love Each Other…K?

Mom often asked me growing up if I regretted not having siblings. I never doubted that she loved me, but she told me often about wanting four kids, two of each sex. It didn’t work out that way for her. I always told her I was fine being an only. It was the truth.

I speak often of my brother, who I love very much, but he’s actually my half brother on dad’s side. Mom and dad divorced when I was two, and dad remarried (that one didn’t work out either). So he had two boys by different wives, and we are both first borns, something only half brothers can be. But I chafe at the term half brother. I think of him as simply my brother, who I met once briefly when we were both teenagers, and reconnected with years later as adults. We get along very well, sympatico I would say even, as only two first borns can.

But deep in my core I know that I am temperamentally an only. There are a great many myths about us…that we are self centered and selfish and vain…that we don’t socialize very well…all that. Some of it is false, some of it true but not in the way people think. We’re not so much self centered as self motivated, because there was no sibling competition to deal with in the home. But vanity is something a parent either nurtures or arrests in a child. Having 100 percent of your parent’s attention is a double edged sword, especially in a Baptist household. I got unconditional love, and whenever something bad happened mom always knew who did it because there were no other suspects. We learn to socialize just a tad differently: I had to make friends outside the home just like anyone else. But I had a room of my own all my life. That only child indifference to the herd is often misinterpreted as misanthropy. We love company, but don’t instantly wilt without it. We onlies are almost preternaturally good at keeping ourselves company.

I’m telling you this by way of saying that the mechanizations of big families with lots of kids often mystify me. It’s a life I never had and I’ll be forever on the outside looking in at these families. I know this. And I know when there is trouble among them I need to keep out of it, even when, or especially when, a friend is involved. At the moment the family of a friend of mine is going through a rough patch. A parent is in very dire health, and the kids all love the parent, just not each other.

I know some of the specifics of the trouble between them, and I can’t blame some of them for feeling the way they do about the others. But I wish they could just love each other. And I guess they can’t.

I’m in my 60s now, and I’ve seen many different kinds of families, some that are amazingly tight and others like radioactive material that just doesn’t want to stay together. I understand it and I don’t. Life is short, the universe doesn’t care, we are all we have to care for each other. But humans aren’t very good at that in the aggregate. We evolved on the east African plains and we are a kind of pack/tribe animal deep down inside. But the rational mind needs it’s privacy to function too. We need space to think, and to calm down so we can think. Mom often asked me if I regretted not having siblings and I always said I was fine with being an only. Maybe that was stereotypically selfish of me. But I would absolutely have that life again. A room of your own isn’t only peace and quiet and sanity whenever you need it, I think it allows you to learn how to calm down and let go of it when people are making you angry.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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