When I got 100% of my data back from the simultaneous hard drive crashes, I resolved to spend at least 30 minutes each day going through my million-plus pictures and videos and actually cataloging them.
I’m probably about 5% through the task. Right now I’m simply deciding which to purge.
I’ve never discarded images before because, as my wise old grandmother used to say, “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”
(I never bugged her about ending her sentences with prepositions….”
If I have five pictures, though, all virtually identical, I’ll choose the best one and chunk the other four.
I’m also looking for pictures that I can use as comment pictures, mostly on Facebook.
Comment pictures are always much more fun that typing text.
Following is a picture I found a few minutes ago. The facial expression is great but the picture was on the cusp of being a throwaway, which is why I created the ellipse to put the Wolf’s Guenon in. Adjusted shadows, highlights, blacks, contrast, and sharpness, and got something worthwhile.
I have been an avid reader since about the age of five, at least. I had started piano lessons under mom at the age of two, and she told me when I was five that when I started school “next year,” I would have to take lessons for a second instrument. Before she would approve the second instrument, I had to write a research paper on the instrument or someone proficient with the instrument. I chose the violin and decided to write my paper on Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. I was a big fan of The Nutcracker. Mom was always taking me to the library so I could work on my research, and that’s when I fell in love with libraries.
I go often to the various branches of the San Diego Public Library and the San Diego County Library. If I’m ever homeless, just look for me at the new San Diego Central Library. Looks like this:
Throughout the years, Stephen King has been my favorite author. Sadly, though, I gave up on the last two books of his that I tried to read, “Bag of Bones” and “Lisey’s Story.” I gave “Bag of Bones” 227 pages before calling it quits, and “Lisey’s Story” got 100 pages; 100 pages is normally my standard for giving a book a chance. I had started “Bag of Bones” first, and since it was by Stephen King, my all-time favorite author, I kept giving it “one more chance” before I finally said, “No! Enough is enough.” When I became disenchanted with “Lisey’s Story,” I figured that if I could call it quits on one Stephen King book, then none of his other books deserved any more chances than I was willing to give anyone. So “Lisey’s Story” got 100 pages and that was it.
I still have quite a few King books to read but with two consecutive disappointments, I have decided to take a break from King.
My husband, who has worked at bookstores all his life—Borders, Brentano’s, Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, and Warwick’s—gave me a pre-published advance reader’s copy of a Lee Child novel, “Night School,” a Jack Reacher novel. It’s so new that it’s not even in Wikipedia yet! I liked it so much that I decided to read all of the Jack Reacher novels before returning to Stephen King.
My second Jack Reacher novel was “Gone Tomorrow.” Took me three days to read it. It’s very good and Child’s writing style with lots of dialogue means that it’s easy reading, too.
So, back to the library.
I decided to check out two books. First time I’ve ever done that outside of research. I came home with “61 Hours” and “Nothing To Lose.” I started “61 Hours” yesterday morning and finished the day on page 74. I already know I’m going all the way to the end.
On April 15, 1993, I left College Station TX in the dead of night in a souped-up-lowered-blacked-out-windows-Flowmaster-exhaust 1989 Mustang GT. In the car with me was $5,000 cash and 100 CDs. I was headed to Canada to go to sleep, permanently. At the age of 38, I had lost any incentive to try to reconcile gay Russel with my Mormon (mom) and Catholic (dad) upbringing, not to mention the extremely conservative friends I had made during my four years at Texas A&M University.
It only took two days to get to Canada, but suddenly I was having fun. Not a care in the world and over $4,800 left to spend anyway, anyhow, anywhere.
I was having so much fun that I wound up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Spend 2½ days there having fun with openly gay people, two of whom were from Houston, had moved to San Diego in 1988 in order to do the same thing I couldn’t do, and were in Vancouver celebrating their fifth anniversary. They convinced me to give a chance to any big city on the West Coast. San Diego was my last stop, but here I am.
I managed to find the “Coming Out Support Group” and “The Center for Social Services.” That was a code name for “The Center for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Services.” In 1993 still, the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender were forbidden words, so much so that the phone company would not provide phone services to any company with those words in the name.
My office managers at my two businesses in College Station, and a long-time friend from Houston, sold my Texas assets, allowing me to consider myself retired at the age of 38. On to more important things.
I spent my days at San Diego’s gay beach (Blacks Beach), slept and ate in San Diego’s gay neighborhood (Hillcrest), and spent the rest of my time at The Center reading anything and everything about being gay in the United States in the 1990s. Being gay in San Diego at that time wasn’t easy but it was a lot easier than in Texas.
I remember one night I had partied at a gay bar in Hillcrest, believing that it was quite safe to be gay there. Sadly, it wasn’t. Seven rednecks had piled into a truck and driven to Hillcrest from East San Diego County specifically “to beat up some fags.” They chose a male couple who were walking home, hand in hand, from the same bar I had been at. I always thought that it could have been me because I was alone.
Although they were caught, I no longer felt safe. It took me several years before I would feel safe again. Society seemed to be making progress.
I came out to everyone, family and friends. Very few of my Mormon and Catholic relatives were accepting—der. The most accepting was my wise old grandmother, the same one who had adopted one of Utah’s greatest juvenile delinquents and gave him eight years of her life when she didn’t have to. My favorite aunt and uncle were absolutely despicable in voicing their hatred in letters to me.
Interestingly, my friends were much more accepting than my family. My new San Diego friends still were having difficulty believing that I was gay because I liked sports, had a Virago 1100 motorcyle, had a customized Mustang GT…. I seemed to be everything except the gay stereotype.
On the other hand, my Texas friends were like, “Uh, you didn’t know? We knew. You were always the most effeminate of our friends…. We didn’t care but we’re glad you’re still alive.”
I spent 11 months working on sexual orientation issues to the exclusion of everything else. In March 1994, I re-entered the work force through a temp agency. My intent was to work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday while continuing to work on sexual orientation issues the other four days.
The temp agency sent me to a company working as consultants in the cell phone industry, an industry that was booming in the mid-1990s. Somehow I wound up as a consultant working in Detroit, flying home to San Diego once a month. It was my first trip home, on May 26, 1994, that I met my soon-to-be lifelong partner, Jim, at the Coming Out Support Group.
We moved in together in 1995, commingling our lives in every respect—money, music, sports, life…. Well, I still don’t like the Lakers (Go Celtics!) or Dodgers (Go A’s!)….
We got domestic partnered (such an ugly term for love) when that became legal in 2003, and got married (gay married!) in 2008 when that was legal for a short six months. When the California Supreme Court ruled that our marriage would remain legal, we celebrated in Hillcrest. Then in 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality would be the law of the land. We celebrated again, in Hillcrest.
Society had come a long way. Little did we know that the hatred was still there. After the presidential election on November 8, I’m back to no longer feeling safe. I’m much older, can’t run anymore, and probably still look too effeminate for some people.
When Jim and I went out to eat Friday night for our Thanksgiving meal, I saw this little corner coffee shop:
That’s the Meshuggah Shack in San Diego’s Mission Hills neighborhood. It was too dark on Friday to take a picture so I got up with the sun on Saturday and headed over there. After taking my pictures, and noticing that many people were watching me, perhaps thinking that I was a red-person-domestic terrorist, I walked up to the counter. A guy and gal both asked if they could help me. I said that I didn’t want anything other than to thank them for putting up the welcome signs. Then I put $20 into their tip jar and walked back to my car. I was crying, but I felt so good.
I keep thinking of a dystopian future where every commercial enterprise has to put signs on their businesses telling the public which people they will serve and which they will not. Those signs make it easy for hateful people to target specific businesses. Stephen King, are you reading me here?
While I currently work from home, much of the clientele for my business enterprises live in other states. Red states. And I know from internet message boards that they are only too happy to espouse the hatred and violence for others that our president-elect did so well. In order to make my business enterprises work, I need to meet people on a personal level. I am afraid to do that because I don’t want to visit those red states and those red people.
I really don’t know what to do. I’m trying to hang on, but as the number of hate crimes spikes in all states, it’s becoming more and more difficult to enjoy life, and I’m not 100% sure that I want to go back in time and live in a hateful society again.
If this is our president-elect’s idea of making America great again, I’m not all in.
Perhaps the thing I like best about blogging is getting to know so many people—without having to drive to an airport, park the car, stand in line to go through security, go through security, stand in line to check baggage, stand in line to get on the plane. I dislike standing in lines. Dislike them immensely.—and getting to know what bothers them, what interests them, their families and friends, and even what ails them,
So here’s a story about what ails me and how I found satisfaction from someone who recently followed me. I don’t remember who, sadly, but I’m sure I’ll run into them again.
I was born and raised in Deep South Texas. It’s pretty sunny down there. I always have enjoyed the sun, to the extent that some of my friends call me a Sun Bunny. When people asked me what makes me happy, I used to say, “Keep me south of Interstate 10 and I’m pretty happy.” Interstate 10 runs cross-country from Los Angeles CA to Jacksonville FL. 2,460.34 miles. Lots of sunshine south of Interstate 10.
Since I’m a guy, we’re allowed to summarily run around without shirts, and that was my preferred attire for running around. Now, at the age of 61, I am paying for all that beautiful sunshine. Well, as my wise old grandmother used to say, “You can pay now or you can pay later.” I chose to pay later, and later has come.
I am one great big collection of keratoses, both seborrheic keratosis and actinic keratosis. These things itch. I scratch them. I scratch until I bleed. Sometimes they bleed spontaneously, especially from actinic keratoses on my scalp. Getting a haircut can be bloody, traumatic, and embarrassing, so I don’t get a haircut anymore. I cut my own hair while standing in front of a mirror. Hey, it does save money!
I had been using apple cider vinegar with “The Mother” to control them. It does that, but I’m pretty sure you know that vinegar stinks, which encourages one not to use the stuff.
When I was visiting blogs the other day, a new blog I visited was talking about apple cider vinegar and suggested an alternate. The alternate is Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. I checked at the health store and it’s $21 or so for 16 ounces. I found it at Walmart for $13.88, still three times as expensive as apple cider vinegar. I splurged. I’m pretty much willing to do almost anything to get away from vinegar.
The instructions say that a little goes a long way, and it does. Like Brylcream, a little dab will do ya. It does smell like coconut but it’s not overpowering, probably because it hasn’t been processed to smell like coconut; it’s extra virgin.
It goes on much better than skin lotions like St. Yves. It is not greasy even though it’s an oil. It leaves the skin feeling smooth and silky. No itching, no scratching, no bloodletting. I’m sold
But wait! There’s more!
Zoey the Cool Cat has what the vet termed “dry skin.” At certain times of the year, like right now, she scratches. She will scratch herself bloody, especially around her eyes and ears. She scratches so hard that she will scratch all of her eye and cheek whiskers out if I don’t do something. The vet advised me to give her a bath twice a year, which would be now and in May or so. But let me tell you about the first time I gave her a bath after that vet visit.
My doors and windows are open except when I’m not here. With Zoey the Cool Cat’s first bath, she howled like there was no tomorrow. She likes to scratch, too, as she is howling. It took 20 minutes to give her a bath. About 5 minutes after I had finished and dried her off, the front doorbell rang. Two police officers were at the door. There had been a report of screaming coming from my condo. I couldn’t help but chuckle, which did not please the officers. I explained that I had been giving my cat a bath, why I was giving the cat a bath, and produced a wet Zoey the Cool Cat as Exhibit One. One of the officers chuckled himself, saying kind of under his breath, “Been there. Done that.” Ever since then, if Zoey the Cool Cat is going to get a bath, the doors and windows get closed, the blinds and curtains get drawn, and the music gets played a little louder.
Fast forward several years to yesterday. Zoey the Cool Cat is scratching herself bloody. It’s time for a bath. But wait! I wonder if Extra Virgin Coconut Oil would make her feel as good as I do. What the heck. It’s a natural oil so I thought I would try it on her little eyebrows. I put a little dab on each eyebrow yesterday at 2:00 p.m. and rubbed it in.
Did it work?
Yes! Resoundingly! Zoey the Cool Cat was the most peaceful kitty ever yesterday. She didn’t wash the coconut oil off, and she never scratched yesterday, not once!
So, Zoey the Cool Cat and I are sold on Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, what I call EVCO for short.
If you have any sort of skin condition, or you’re simply tired of those man-made skin lotions full of man-made chemicals, try Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Let us know your results. And if you’re the blogger who blogged about apple cider vinegar and EVCO, well, I owe you a margarita!
When I was but a juvenile delinquent of the age of 8 living in Brigham City, Utah, I skipped second grade one day and went with a friend to see Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.” I already had developed a fascination with birds and couldn’t understand why my mom and (step)dad wouldn’t let me go see the movie. This, of course, was prior to films being rated, so it was up to parents to decide what their children could watch. Even though I still was young, impressionable, and brainwashable, the movie did not dampen my love of birds.
I am fortunate to live in San Diego because of the San Diego Zoo and the Zoo’s Safari Park. I have seen birds that I never would have had the opportunity to see if I relied on seeing them in the wild, birds like flamingos, shoebills, and various species of eagles, owls, condors, and vultures.
Necking flamingos at San Diego Zoo
Shoebill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Milky eagle owl at the San Diego Zoo
I also am fortunate to live in a coastal area like San Diego because there are over 500 species of birds that can be seen here on a regular basis, some of those stopping by while migrating on the Pacific Flyway.
Possibly my five favorite birds that can be seen on a daily basis roaming around the outdoors are pelicans, great egrets, snowy egrets, great blue herons, and black-crowned night herons.
Snowy egrets at play at Santee Lakes
Brown pelicans enjoying the view in La Jolla
Great blue heron with morning meal at Mission Bay Park
One-legged black-crowned night heron hanging out at SeaWorld where food is plentiful.
When I first saw that black-crowned night heron I thought it was just standing on one leg, but herons don’t typically do that; they are not flamingos. That’s when I noticed that it really did only have one leg. Sadly, birds with just one foot or one leg are common here in San Diego because of all the fishing. They get a foot or leg tangled up in the fishing line which cuts off the circulation and eventually the bird loses that foot or leg. Here is a brown pelican with a missing foot probably due to fishing line entanglement:
If you’re a fisherperson, please dispose of your fishing line properly. All docks have disposal bins with lids on them so that our precious wildlife can’t get tangled up.