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April 7th, 2016

A Coming Out Story: Intermission – The Business of Tacos

Finished (finally!) another installment of A Coming Out Story. This is an Intermission to separate the first part of the story, which I finished with Episode 19, and what’s to come.Some of you may have already seen this one when I posted a link to the finished inks last Thanksgiving. I’ve since added the texturing and shading, and tweaked the dialogue balloons a tad. The shading really makes the artwork pop out I think.

The next part coming up is where the object of my affections and I actually begin talking to each other, and circling around each other in an age when gay kids were getting fed horrible lies about themselves from every direction. First crushes are hard enough for kids to deal with. For gay kids back when me and “T.K.” (not his real name) it was especially difficult. The worst of it was in 1971-72 there was no way you could talk about it with anyone. So you pretty much had to stumble your way around, trying to figure out what was going on inside of you, and then what to you do about this crush you’re having. How can you tell if the object of your affections is feeling the same way. One false move could be a disaster…for both of you.

That said, it’s not like it was a complete and total nightmare for me either. Mostly it was a lot of confusion. I can look back on most of it now with a sense of humor. Hopefully I can put some of that into the story going forward. What’s coming next is a short story arc wherein I finally break the ice with the object of my affections, after being tagged by the student newspaper to cover one of our football games.

But first, I figured I’d toss out here a little intermission of sorts…just to give anyone who’s still hanging on to this tale a wee taste of what’s to come in the second part. Enjoy. And thanks so much for staying tuned!

The Business Of Tacos


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April 5th, 2016

The Bathroom Predators of North Carolina

This from Daily KOS…

North Carolina GOP now in full-on delusional damage control after losing PayPal over HB2

Here’s the GOP spin…

“When Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts teamed up with a convicted child sexual predator to pass a radical bathroom policy allowing men to use girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms, the Governor warned her the legislature would take immediate action to protect North Carolina families. If Jennifer Roberts, [Attorney General] Roy Cooper and the far-left Political Correctness Mob she’s unleashed really care about the economic future of her city, they’ll stop the misinformation campaign immediately and start telling the truth about this commonsense bathroom safety law before more damage is done to the city she was elected to lead and the state Cooper was elected to protect.”

The transparent subterfuge here is the bill was about bathroom safety. “Bathroom Safety” was the window dressing. Hate mongering toward transgendered people was the grease by which they deftly erased every civil rights law protecting women and minorities in North Carolina, and for extra added effect, also nullified local minimum wage laws. You find yourself wondering if the African American members of the legislature who voted for HB2 understood they were voting to erase their own civil rights protections in state law. But there are people who will cut off their own noses to spite their neighbor’s face.

By now anybody who can read knows it went much Much further than bathrooms, and never mind that the bathroom issue was bogus as well. But here they are, still spinning a tale that it was just a bill to protect children from bathroom predators. You may conclude that they’ve managed to delude even themselves as to what they were up to. But no…this is how the culture war game is played. And more to the point, this is how hate corrupts the human spirit. If they’ve deluded themselves about anything in North Carolina it’s this: the ends do not justify the means. The means rather, foretell the ends. There is no path to the greater good that is paved with lies. That path leads elsewhere.


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March 29th, 2016

A Coming Out Story – Still In Progress…

Despite, or perhaps even Because of recent events, I am more determined than ever to continue and finish A Coming Out Story.  So never fear if the installments keep coming at irregular intervals. I have a paying job that needs my attention too. Plus many other things in my life. But this story is important, not just for my own satisfaction of getting it out, but because as I said some time ago, it’s a story of my generation. Not the only one certainly, but mine nonetheless, and worth getting out there. Because while gay kids have it better in many ways now then we did then, they still catch shit about what ought to be one of the most wonderful times in life…that moment when you discover love and desire. It’s a crime against humanity that it is turned into a nightmare for some of us, so that others can build their stepping stones to heaven out of our hopes and dreams. It is a crime against humanity to put a knife into a kid’s heart, just at that very moment they are discovering what love and desire is all about.

So I’m going to keep working on this. And for what it’s worth, I feel now as if I’ve been given permission to tell the whole story, without censoring myself.

Still working on finishing up the Intermission.  Here’s a sample panel. When the whole thing is complete I’ll put a link up to it here and on the main ACOS page. Then I get to start on a more funner mini story arc.

Tacos figure into this one too…

acos-intermission-1


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March 23rd, 2016

Baltimore Orioles! No…Not Those…The Other Ones…

The Baltimore Oriole is the state bird of Maryland. I’ve only seen one in my entire life. Until just a few moments ago.

I was walking across campus to go get lunch. I was crossing a pedestrian bridge over San Martin Drive when I heard something moving in the undergrowth below me. I looked down and saw something move. It was a bird. At first I thought it was a robin, but something didn’t look right. It was a close match for a robin, but noticeably smaller, and with bright white blazes on wings that were much Much darker than a robin. Then I saw two more. They were digging through patches of old dead leaf on the ground by the university president’s house, looking for their own lunch I suppose.

No..it can’t be, thinks I. So I watch carefully. There could be no mistake. Oh my God, thinks I, three Baltimore Orioles! Those are three Baltimore Orioles! I’m looking at three Baltimore Orioles! In Baltimore!

What a Baltimore Oriole might look like:

baltimore-oriole-c-kimberly-king
Photo by Kimberly King from the Massachusetts Audubon Society page

 

 


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March 22nd, 2016

Left Brain, Right Brain, Silicon Brain…

Browsing through my local network folders I stumbled on some old BBS message files and an associated log file that made me realize I had written my own NNTP client way, Way back in the day. I had completely forgotten this. So I went looking through my old source code tree for the source. It was a program I’d named TRILOBYTE. Back then I was into naming my programs after obscure critters.

I finally found it and looked over the code to see if it jogged any memories. It’s kinda disturbing I didn’t remember this one At All. But there it was. It was a riff off something I’d written in another modem program’s scripting language that basically just logged onto a service, downloaded all the new messages on the boards I was interested in, uploaded any replies I’d previously placed in an upload folder, and then logged off.

I’d written it in VB1 it seems, but I think looking at the main source file I had a DOS version I’d worked on first. It contains my first ever state machine code to process the NNTP transactions. I know it worked because I have folders with USENET news articles in them this thing downloaded, and reply files it successfully uploaded according to the log files. Writing my own NNTP state machine, with nothing more than the protocol documentation to guide me, was actually a pretty big accomplishment for back then. I’m a little concerned now that it completely dropped out of my memory.

I can still recall coding my first PIM software (I called it “Beetle”)…and “Owl”, which was going to be my own weird client/server take on BBS-ing. I’d developed an entire system based around the concept of a message board warehouse where instead of logging on and reading and writing online you would run a program that quickly connected, downloaded all your new messages and email, upload your replies, and then disconnected. You would then read and write offline. It was a solution for the days when long distance phone charges were high and most amateur BBSs were single line and if someone was hogging the line nobody else got in. I figured if I could create a BBS system that reduced connection time to a bare minimum it would make connecting to out of state, maybe even out of country BBSs cost effective and feasible. The Internet pretty much wiped all that away by the time I finished developing my new system. So it never really got much past the early prototype stage. Such is life.

I’d completely forgotten I wrote Trilobyte. And it had some pretty nifty code in it too. Some of it probably came from the client part of Owl. There’s the Twit filters and Scud Topic filters which were things I’d implemented in LOGMOP, a PDS Basic program I’d written to clean my BBS message file downloads of flame wars and idiots.  It was lost to the grey matter, but there in the silicon. I wonder if this is some sort of new evolutionary path we’re all going down now…


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March 19th, 2016

Love Them…Even If They’re Not Loving You Back Right At This Moment…

I looked out my bedroom window this morning to see a beat up car parked in the alley behind the house with a pressure washer hanging out of the trunk. The car looked abandoned so I went to check. Two older men were in the alley further up and the younger of the two (he looked to be in his forties) was cursing up a storm. These two and several others were working on a neighbor’s house further up the alley. She’s doing a big home remodeling job and these were her contractors.

Okay…fine…the car isn’t an abandoned junker, it’s just some guys doing work on one of the houses here. As I walk back to my backyard the younger guy follows me a short distance away, still cursing up a storm. He’s angry at the older man, who is apparently his father. So this is a father-son home improvement team. There seems to be discord in the company.

So he’s following me back to what I assume is his car, all the while complaining that dad doesn’t know crap, dad isn’t treating him right, dad never takes his side in an argument. Dad is old and cranky and set in his ways, he says to nobody in particular, and he doesn’t know crap and he never takes my side. I’m his son, he’s supposed to take my side every time.

Yes…he really says that. No, he’s not some entitled youngster he’s a middle aged guy and from the look of him life has been a long stretch of bad road. You would think by now he knows it doesn’t always work that way. I get back to my backyard gate and he looks at me and says, “Right? That’s how it’s suppose to work…right?”

And I look him in the eye and say, “My dad died robbing a bank.”

And immediately his tone changes. Hey I’m sorry mister…yeah we’ve had bad times too. Well maybe dad isn’t so bad after all, even if he is old and cranky and set in his ways. We part amicably, I wish him well.

Love your dad, even if he is old and cranky and set in his ways. You never know how its going to end.


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March 16th, 2016

Trust

Madam Calico on my front porch steps, in the afternoon, after work…

madam calico

I’ve had a few head butts lately, and some body rubs, if I just sit there and don’t attempt to reach a hand out to her. I’ve been letting her dictate the level of proximity, rather than trying to get closer myself. I don’t think she’ll ever let me actually touch her. But she’s reached a point now where she’s willing to sit very close and occasionally slide up against me as she passes by. Up to this point its been rubbing up against every object on the porch, the chairs, the railings and the door when I open it, but never me.

Still won’t stay inside the house for very long. She’ll come in on cat curiosity and look around…she’s even wandered upstairs once. She investigates the furniture and anything new I’ve brought into the living room, like a bag of groceries for instance. But pretty quickly she gets a look on her face like Oh Dear God What Am I Doing???  And then she bolts. I’m trying to get her to understand that I will always open the door for her. But that lesson might never take. She’s afraid. That’s probably a good thing for a street cat to be in the city.

I was hanging out on the front steps smoking a cigar and saw something laying in the street that looked like a neighbor’s cat had been run over and I panicked and ran to it. It was just a black plastic bag of some sort. My aging geezer eyes decoded it wrong. And a fear I have now that never goes away probably added to the illusion. I’m never getting over it I suppose…


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March 13th, 2016

At The Range

This is a part of me I know some folks may find disturbing, but so be it. I like to shoot guns. I have a few of my own. It’s not like I have an arsenal or anything, just a few handguns and rifles. It’s never been that big an interest with me that I spend tons of money on it, and it was more a thing when I was a younger man who couldn’t get enough of things that go bang. And that’s really the essence of it with me, and I suspect, with a bunch of us. It’s not about Dirty Harry fantasizing or anything like it. It’s about another elemental part of the human psyche. Fire.

Fire. I was the kid who turned off the lights in his bedroom, threw open the blinds and raptly watched every thunder and lightning storm that passed by. The louder and closer the bangs the better. It drove mom crazy. But I knew as so long as I watched from safely inside it was okay. I was that teenage boy at the quarter mile racetrack watching the fuelers blast down to the finish line in a glory of fire and smoke. Nighttime races were the best because you could see the fire coming out of their pipes as they idled at the starting line, and then leaping into the sky as they raced down track. I was the kid who smuggled in out of state firecrackers and set them gleefully off on the fourth while my friends kept an eye out for approaching adults. I was the one who built and carefully tended the camp fires at the end of a day’s backpacking, or in the fireplace of our winter break ski shack, then watched it raptly through the night.

But I’m a geek child, not a psycho. And the geek dives into their interest with an intensity of spirit that, yes I know, can be off putting to others. But sometimes that’s exactly what is called for, especially if what lights your fire, is fire. You learn the nature of the fires you wield, and how to keep yourself and the people around you safe. I don’t want anyone getting hurt. I don’t want to get hurt. It’s no fun if anyone gets hurt. Those people who, they say, go to races hoping to see a crash mystify and appall me. What I want to see is mastery of excessively powerful engines and Newtonian forces. I want to see them surfing the fire. Likewise, I am disgusted by nearly everything I hear nowadays from the so-called gun lobby. By now I suppose a lot of people who enjoy this sport are. We’re not all Ted Nugent.

I recently got a membership at a local pistol range. At 62 I qualified for the geezer level discount which cut the cost of a year’s unlimited range time neatly in half. “Unlimited” in this context could be a tad misleading; time at the range is limited by the cost of ammo, and for one of the large caliber handguns I have, a Smith and Wesson model 25-5 (chambered for the old 45 Long Colt, cartridge. As I said, I like big bangs), it’s Very expensive. A box of 50 rounds cost me 40 bucks the other day. Another box of 50 45 ACP rounds cost 25. It’s a much more widely used cartridge. The Long Colt dates back to the black powder days. It’s the cartridge of the famous Single Action Army Colt of the old west…the one you always saw in the movies. There was actually a nicer 44 Smith and Wesson top break gun sold back then but it’s the Colt that’s the classic western movie gun.

So I had my Model 25-5 and my Colt Officer’s Model at the range this morning. And I’m writing this blog post now for the benefit of everyone who thinks all you gotta do with a gun is point and shoot. No. Just…no. You have to practice.  Bunches.  And to my shame I hadn’t.  Well…not with mine.

Visiting my brother in California, he’s taken me a bunch to ranges he’s a member at, and I’ve shot his guns there and was very pleased with myself at how good my aim was with them. But those weren’t my own guns, and it lulled me into thinking I was still good with my own, even though I hadn’t practiced much with them lately. This morning I took the Smith and the Officer’s Model to the range. I hadn’t shot either one of them in years. A friend of mine used to take me to his pistol range as a guest and back then I shot it and my other guns a bunch. But he got into skeet and I take more pleasure in shooting handguns. So I didn’t follow him into that. And for a long time my guns just sat, and got the occasional cleaning, inspecting and oiling.

So I load the Smith and take aim at a bulls eye target and half my shots initially miss completely. Eventually I figure I’m low and to the left and make some adjustments. The Smith has adjustable sights and I thought they were sighted in for me. Maybe five years ago they were. Not now. Eventually I’m putting most of my shots in the black and I move the target back some. But my groups are all over the place and I’m not happy with myself.

Then comes the Officer’s model. Every friggin shot from my first clip misses the target completely. Mind you, I’m shooting at a target only 15 feet away. Eventually I figure out I’m shooting low and to the left with this gun too and I make adjustments and finally get my shots mostly in the black again and I move the target back some. But I’m even worse with this gun than the revolver.

So I pay my bill and leave the range and in the back of my mind I’m thinking about all the morons I seem to be reading about every day now who shoot themselves or shoot someone else and it’s obvious they think a gun is just another adult toy like a fast car or sex and it’s all so Easy…you just point and shoot…just like John Wayne! No. Just…no. Jim Wright, a writer I follow on Facebook, has wisely said there are no gun accidents. He’s right. Drunk driving isn’t an accident either. You get yourself or others hurt by not following the rules. And treating guns like fetishes in a culture war (I’m using the word in its religious sense) practically guarantees people aren’t going to pay attention to what the gun actually is and that’s how people get hurt.

But I hadn’t been paying as much attention as I thought either. So I had my lesson for the day. If I’m going to keep these things in the house, I need to practice with them regularly. As I said, it’s about fire. The fun is in the mastery of fire. If I’m not going to maintain a level of mastery I might as well sell them and be done with it. Otherwise they’re just dangerous weapons sitting there in the gun safe slowly becoming even more dangerous if their owner can’t even hit what he’s aiming at. I have an alarm system. I have a shotgun. I don’t need more than that for home defense. 


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March 12th, 2016

Trust

Madam Calico and me hanging out on the front porch.

madam-calico-and-me-sm

It’s taken me five or six years to gain this level of trust out of her.


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Friendship

When a straight friend from back in the day calls to let you know an old episode of Black Sheep is on and a young Peter Frampton is in it, because he knows your taste in guys…

peter frampton

 


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March 10th, 2016

Like A Good Neighbor…(continued)

Came home to find a letter from the Maryland State Insurance Commissioner’s Office, telling me that they’d convinced State Farm to cancel my car insurance premium hike and refund the money Plus Interest.

I’m stunned. After I mailed off my form protesting the hike, back in October, I heard absolutely zilch back from them and figured it had just been conveniently lost in the bureaucratic shuffle. I would have expected at least a notice that the form and been received. But it was dead silence. Five months later they tell me I won.

Well this is good, but I hope State Farm doesn’t think it means I’m sticking with them. I was in the middle of exploring other options for car and home owner’s insurance when this letter came. There are lots of companies out there offering cheaper rates for the same coverage or better. And I am not at all happy that my local State Farm Agent dropped a clause into my home owner’s policy exempting damage from collapse. I have a flat roof and that is the one thing you absolutely need protection on if you have one of those.


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Not What It Used To Be

While staying at the Walt Disney World parks I would make extensive use of my annual pass. It basically gives you freedom to wander around the parks without worry about when your tickets expire or which park you’re allowed into that day. So if I was staying at Boardwalk I’d start my morning with a walk down the path to Hollywood Studios…

 

hollywood studios walk-sm

 

…and make my way to The Writer’s Stop to get my morning coffee and a danish. The Writer’s Stop is a nice little coffee shop/bookstore tucked in a corner of Hollywood Studios, themed as a studio writer’s lounge/hangout.  And now it looks like they’re going to close it, another one of my favorite places in WDW, to make way for more Star Wars stuff.  I can’t really blame them. Star Wars is hot right now. It’ll bring the tourists in…and the money.

I’m probably not going back to Walt Disney World, largely because it’s not as much fun if I have to remember the fight I had with a certain someone every time I go back. But there is also this, and I discussed it the other day with a co-worker who is also a big Disney fan: it’s feeling less and less every year like Walt Disney’s World, and more like Disney Corporation’s World.

I think when I started going back in 2008 I was just seeing the last fading light of Walt Disney’s influence on the parks. It was something special to me because I’m old enough to remember watching TV when Walt Disney was still alive and when I walked into Epcot that first time it all came back to me. But in the years since they’ve bought Star Wars and they’ve bought Marvel, and while those are all fun things they’re not necessarily Disney things. I don’t think that much matters to the boardroom anymore. Those of us who still remember Walt Disney are getting old.

It’s still the Rolls Royce of theme parks. The nearest competition can’t even come close. But I wasn’t a theme park kinda guy back in 2008…I only got talked into it by a certain someone, and then, to my surprise and delight, only dived in because I remembered Walt Disney. I don’t need to keep coming back anymore, if it can’t at least still be his theme park.


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March 9th, 2016

Summer’s Coming…

I’m feeling Wonderful. Aren’t breakup fights supposed to make you miserable? Well…we weren’t boyfriends, just, for a while, casual long distance friends, never to be anything more than that. But we had a past. I would have walked through fire for him. But not into the closet for him. That turned out to be the sticking point.

Yeah it hurts. But not badly at all, as it turns out. Mostly it feels like I have my life back, like it’s been reset back to before the time I found him again, and everything I had then and everything I felt then, I have back now. I’m not kidding…I’m feeling ten…twenty years younger. (grin) Now if I only looked it.

I came back home and the weather here in Charm City is feeling spring like and I’m really looking forward to summer. It’s stunning to realize I wasn’t before. It was just something that was out there. Now it feels like the open road beckoning. Like life always felt.

IMG_0017


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March 8th, 2016

Home Again…Peace And Quiet…

Back home just now after my excellent Disney World Adventure. I’m going around waking up the house now from its slumber. Water turned back on, hot water heater lit, Internet connectivity re-established, car unpacked…

Peace and quiet. You get it by making an authentic life for yourself, realizing that those moments of actual peace and quiet that come your way, like most things in life, the good and the bad, will come and go in their own good time.

So you deal with the drama as best you can, which you can because you have lived an authentic life, and you have learned how to cope, not how to act like you’re coping. And likewise you navigate the hardships, the pain, the disappointments. And you relish the good things, and all the joys life brings to you, large and small trivial and sublime. And you enjoy the peace and quiet when it comes, while it is there.

But if you go looking Specifically for peace and quiet you’re not making a life, you’re building a cocoon. And pretty soon the cocoon is a prison. And then…a coffin, from which only the dust that could have been a person emerges.

Word of advice das Submissive


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Cost Is Relative

Few things in life make pampering yourself more sensible than hostility from your high school crush. So my last vacation day I went to the Brown Derby to hang out with the other stars and have drinks and five star food and stuff…

 

brown derby

I love this place. Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World is one of my favorite theme parks for the way part of it tries to be like the Hollywood of the 1930s/40s. I love the art deco main street, at the end of which is a reproduction of the last of the three Brown Derby incarnations. You walk in and you feel like you’re there. Well…except for all the other guests making it painfully obvious this isn’t 1930s Hollywood.

It took almost 45 years for my first high school crush and I to have our breakup fight. The advantage to waiting so long is at this age I can handle the emotional swings of it better, plus having some real life experience under your belt gives you better aim when you’re throwing shit back in someone’s face. So for this special occasion I went and ordered the Good Steak…

kobe beef dinner

You’re looking there at the most expensive dinner I’ve ever had, or ever will have, because it’s not bloody likely I’m ever spending that kind of money again on dining out. (100+) But as it was a special occasion it was worth it. How does a steak dinner get so expensive? Simple. You add the 25 dollar Kobe beef option to the already expensive Brown Derby steak dinner.

It was Delicious! Everyone should have steak this good once in their lives. Well…if you eat meat anyway…

It was almost exactly when my server set this down in front of me my phone buzzed and I saw I got another lying harangue from das Submissive complaining about how unruly I am, (just for you hon!) and that we shouldn’t speak anymore because a closet needs peace and quiet. Time was I’d have canceled my vacation and gone back home in tears. This time I settled down to a nice steak dinner.

“Corpse food”…I think the vegetarians call it.  Yes.  Quite.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Cost Is Relative
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