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Kethry’s Artwork

I am always amazed by Kethry’s artwork and her summer camp experience was to spend two weeks at the Crocker Art Gallery in downtown Sacramento, the capital of California.  The summer camp focused on nurturing her love of all things art and she has a talent and a skill that I could only dream of and which she inherited from her mother and shares with her Aunt Jessica.  I had forgotten about the camp, not soon after it ended and found this book upon the kitchen table.  The pictures barely do the drawings justice and your background music should be Chop Suey by System of a Down.

This is the cover of the book she made.

Back of the front cover.

First page.

Second page.

Third page.

Fourth page.

Fifth page.

Sixth Page.

Seventh page.

Unfinished eighth page.

Unfinished ninth page.

There were four completely blank pages including the inside of the back cover.

The back cover.  We let Kethry dye her hair using Kool-Ade.  Purple and red which she seems enamored with as most of her artwork and drawings feature women with red or purple hair.

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I am always amazed by Kethry’s artwork and her summer camp experience was to spend two weeks at the Crocker Art Gallery in downtown Sacramento, the capital of California.  The summer camp focused on nurturing her love of all things art and she has a talent and a skill that I could only dream of and which she inherited from her mother and shares with her Aunt Jessica.  I had forgotten about the camp, not soon after it ended and found this book upon the kitchen table.  The pictures barely do the drawings justice and your background music should be Chop Suey by System of a Down.

This is the cover of the book she made.

Back of the front cover.

First page.

Second page.

Third page.

Fourth page.

Fifth page.

Sixth Page.

Seventh page.

Unfinished eighth page.

Unfinished ninth page.

There were four completely blank pages including the inside of the back cover.

The back cover.  We let Kethry dye her hair using Kool-Ade.  Purple and red which she seems enamored with as most of her artwork and drawings feature women with red or purple hair.

I truly respect and envy people who speak fluently in more then one language and I truly wish my paternal grandfather would have taken the effort to ensure that I learned Hebrew and Yiddish so that I could speak more then one language and would have been enculturated in his culture.  I wasn’t and I only speak and write fluently in American English which makes me the same as an overwhelming majority of Americans.

I avoided foreign languages in high school because I hated school and disliked most of my teachers because they didn’t inspire me and I honestly felt that many were not truly masters of the subjects that they taught.  So when I started back to college, I chose subjects that I already has mastered and getting great grades was easy. I could slack and no one was the wiser.  Then I tried to take ASL and it was horrible because I disliked the teacher’s style and he had been doing it so long that he was phoning it in.  I dropped the class midway through.  I attempted it again a few semesters later with my best friend MooSe and I passed with a C.  The next semester he got in to ASL 2 and I didn’t and basically I have up on ASL because all my friends and classmates were in that class.

When I transferred to Sierra College and decided to try and go to UC Berkeley or UC Davis, the requirements over those d or Sacramento State were a bit more inclusive.  I needed a foreign language and the ASL 1 class I had obtained a C in wouldn’t transfer to the UC System for some reason. So last semester, I tried to get on to ASL 1 but the class at the time I could take it was full.  So,this ssemester I got in to ASL 1 and I have put everything I can in to doing the homework, studying and trying my hardest to learn this new form of communication.

During the first class session, I met Joe and we decided to be study buddies.  I have helped him and he has helped me and in the process we have become friends.  Tonight, leaving Sierra College to go to his house in Roseville, I could hear a nail in my tire as I drove to his house. When I got there, I promptly forgot about it because he texted me as I was parking to as how far away I was because we had a video due tomorrow for ASL, the final video of the semester.

After chilling for about an hour he asked me to do a beer run even though I don’t drink.  When I went to my car, the tire was flat.  I told him and I was concerned about how to get it fixed.  He called one of his friends and this guy came over and removed the tire from my Ford Escape and then took it and me to the gas station where we used the plugs and tool I owned to plug and inflate the tire.  He then drove back to Joe’s house and put it back on my car.  When I thanked him and asked how I could repay him, he told me that my helping his lifelong friend Joe with ASL, who called him, is why he came and that by doing that I was helping him.

My buddy James taught me that concept a few years ago when he gathered a group of my online friends to help cheer me up while I was dealing with the emotions and reality of my marriage ending and what seemed like my world collapsing around me.  He basically taught me that random acts of kindness, no matter how seemingly inconsequential could change people’s lives and thereby change the world when he changed mine.  I had thought I was going to get a job that didn’t pan out and I couldn’t afford the books for the classes that I was taking and my late application for financial aid delayed the disbursement of Pell Grant monies.  I would have went almost a month without a textbooks which would have made passing almost impossible.  James found out and bought my books for that semester and told me that he wouldn’t take any repayment telling me that my participation in Grumbine’s Political Most Pit now called The Original Political Mosh Pit and on his wall posts enriched his life.  We both created and run a comedy group where most of the active members have known each other in the cyber world since before Obama took office.

At some point during this time we have all supported each other and talked one another through break ups, divorces, deaths of loved ones and pets and horrible dates from Plenty Of Fish.  In this time I have learned something fundamental about these people that some of us refer to as the DD30 group because for a while that was the safe space for many of us.  It taught me that there are huge untrue urban legends that we believe about people starting with that screwed up concept that men are from mars and women are from Venus because it just is NOT true and the author got rich off of the idea that there are somehow fundamental differences in the psyche of women and men. Having sat back and watched conversations between women as they discussed everything from dating to how they “double-clicked their mouse.”

One of the side effects of growing up in a group home is that in many respects it was like the Isle Of Misfit Toys in that Rankin-Bass holiday special Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and that makes me less sensitive and less judgemental of people’s personality traits that might otherwise make people give up on friendships or not form them to begin with.  This trait is how I became friends with Joe because he has a bunch of them but they pale in comparison to how frequently and intensely he makes me laugh.  The irony is that studying with him and helping him learn ASL this semester has helped me retain what I am learning.  It has helped my confidence in making the videos we need to make for the class.

So as we were recording the videos, I looked up to see Joe’s friend watching me and my self doubt clicked in and I lost it.  He walked out of the room and I made him come back, because I had to push past that feeling.  The next time, the video was better but I forgot to fulfill one of the metrics, showing something in the video.  When I was finished he walked over to me and extended his hand and told me that it looked awesome and all I needed to do was breathe.

I shared my video above and I would.love feedback from #Deaf or #CODA people especially if they can understand me because that would be amazing words of encouragement.  I realize I sign like a kindergarten student and that’s ok for this level.  I love the idea of signing because I have seen videos of #Deaf people signing where sarcasm, snark and humor were far more apparent then in spoken English.  I think it is why I am such a huge fan of Sean Berdy,  Niles DeMarco and Marlee Matlyn because of how much pure and raw emotion they can put in to their signing and performances.  I hope one day to meet all three of them to thank them for entertaining and inspiring me.

On this day, ten years ago, I took my brand new car to work for the very first time.  It would get dubbed “The Toaster” by my friends in San Francisco.  I truly loved this underpowered box on wheels and it was fun to drive.

drivers

I had a meeting with a very important new client and they were very unhappy because their drive array began to die on my first day of work for the company.  My predecessor had only done the most minimum of upgrades on their hardware. The motherboard and drive array were damaged when the four year old power supply failed.

 front

When I arrived onsite, the owner of the business was irritated and kept mentioning that the corporate Lawyer was out of the office at a client but would be returning soon and they would be discussing their legal strategy.  This is a company that relied on it’s email and they now did not have access to it.  I patiently explained that I was not sure what was wrong but that I would figure it out and offer a solution as soon as I could.  He took a deep breath and walked away still annoyed.

 passenger

When I figured out the problem and explained it to him, he asked why only the hard drives were replaced and I explained that I wasn’t sure that my recommendation would have been to replace the current hardware with the most energy efficient and reliable hardware possible.  I had to take the server back to the Depot in San Francisco to Marin and a co-worker had to drive both of us and the server back.  The client called and wanted to meet with us on Monday to discuss this.   On Sunday, I went to Santa Clara Honda and this is what I got.

rear

On Monday when the meeting began, the client asked what I would do for their Network.  I explained what I recommended and that was two new servers, a backup device and server software upgrades.  The client eventually agreed to all new workstations and computers as well as Notebooks for the executives.  In total about $150,000 worth of equipment.  He then asked how they could be assured that I would not be like the last five Field Engineers and I explained about buying this car as I dropped the keys on the table and explained the job, their business paid my salary.

 

NOTE:  This blog was recreated from backup files from a self hosted blog posted the day it happened.

So it has been more then two years since the last time we saw each other and we didn’t part on the best of terms but deep down, I never thought that our not speaking would last this long.  In the last 23 years, when you were on vacation was the longest stretch of time and that was only because I was living halfway across the continent in St. Louis.  So much has happened in the interval, so many times that I wished that I could talk to you about it.  I mean over those years you and I have shared so much and you have been such an integral part of my life.

Cassidy died a few years ago and Jerre isn’t doing so well and I was sure she was going to go last weekend.  She could have gone already for all I know.  I have friends but none that I will ever be as close to as I am you.  We have stood by each other through the good, the bad and the ugly in the past and this time things got all fucked up and emotions and hurt feelings led to anger and suddenly I hear Yoda….

Kethry asked about you on her birthday when we went to incredible John’s Pizza and for the rest of the night, my mind was trying to find a plan, a way to get to run in to you so we could talk.  I figured once time had passed we would be able to work things out.  I had such hope and excitement when I saw your truck parked in the driveway, because it created the opportunity only to have it dissipate as I missed you by like a half an hour.

See, I can’t help myself, I see something funny, read something interesting or watch something on tv and it reminds me of a conversation that we had in the past and suddenly I want to talk to you.  Then, as the reality of how lonely I feel without my best friend and I wonder if you feel the same way, if or how often you wish we were still that close and still best friends.  See, regardless of what transpired that night, I know that I have always been a good friend to you and my presence there was continuing that task.

When your truck appeared Rachel said you were moving somewhere in Nevada and when your truck disappeared, I assume you came and have now left California?  I would love to hear from you sometime.  My number is the same and while I know your number hasn’t changed, I texted you once and never got a response, when you returned my stuff.  I guess the lack of any reply or any kind of response should tell me all that I need to know, it definitely speaks volumes that you left your truck at Rachel’s and didn’t contact me at all.

I can’t and won’t change who I am, so I will continue to have random moments when I wish I could talk to you, I realize that’s love and that the silence is your choice and not mine.  Maybe one day while we are both living, something will bring us together.  Until then, I will just avoid the full moon 🌙 which always awakens the lunacy.

Happy F—king Birthday

I just turned 47 and my age doesn’t really bother me and I rarely thing about it unless someone asks or says something that makes me feel old.  I also don’t usually get excited about my birthday and really haven’t since my Grandmother died right before I turned 21.  I didn’t go out drinking the night I turned 21 because I had to work, my after work celebration consisted of the bar tender at the trendy restaurant in Dublin, Ohio called Doodles made me a cocktail after closing and cleanup had been completed.  Thus ushered in the era of legal drinking.  Afterwards, I was like, I waited all this time for this?  Being an adult sucks.

Image result for et

The only bright spot in this years otherwise abysmal birthday came from Rachel and Kethry and Haplo.  Rachel with her trinkets gathered off the bargain rack at Target and Kethry because it is her birthday too.  So I get to become a child again for that moment and celebrate with her.  This year was incredibly hard because money was even tighter then usual since I was so sick last year.  So a few days before my birthday, of course my cell service got disconnected from lack of payment.  Well, I could still use the phone and google voice, Facebook and Wifi to keep in touch and social network even without service.  I was coping.

Image result for john's incredible pizza

Then my phone shut off on Monday afternoon and I lost even that creature comfort.  It’s like I just keep getting kicked because now, not only do I have to pay for the delinquent phone service, I now, also have to purchase a new T-Mobile / Metro PCS compatible phone and then send the old one away to ZTE to repair or just send it away and wait for it to come back.  Turn-a-round time isn’t usually too long, although it often costs about $20 to send it via Fedex.  The carrier’s insurance was a viable option back in the day and I gladly paid for it, but over time the benefits have decreased while the associated fees and charges have increased.

Last Saturday Rachel, Haplo, Kethry and I went to Incredible John’s Pizza in Roseville for Kethry.  It’s a better fit for kids then Dave & Buster’s although it still costs the same when you factor in the cost of the buffet.  Sadly, the Buffet is at the bottom of buffets and the pizza pales in comparison to say, Round Table and their buffet.  When you factor in all of the insanity that comes with crowds and it can make you stop, slap your hands to your face ala McCauley Culkin in Home Alone and scream from the rudeness of people just cutting in front of you or worse you just lose it and let out a scream reminiscent of Edward Munch’s famous painting, The Scream, when you see someone stick their dirty, disease ridden fingers in something to take a taste.

Man at bridge holding head with hands and screaming 

Sometimes, all you need are friends and family to make everything seem better.

So, over the last few years I have been backing up the photos taken on my phone to the cloud.  Google started doing it automatically with Picassa and then with Google + and now with Google Photos.  I would see it happening and turn it off in the past but a spate of broken or lost or stolen devices made me realise how valuable this service is.  So when I found a repository of pictures that I copied from my device to free up space, I decided to add then to Google Photos.

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Google’s artificial intelligence program looks at the photos, identifies people, places and things and then makes animated gifs, enhanced photos or slide show movies from them.  It is actually a pretty cool when it created something totally unexpected.

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This animated gif was created from all the attempts to get a good picture.  It’s rather comical to look at and puts a smile on my face as I remember that day.  Point Google Photos.  Sometimes it creates something so totally random and bizarre that it’s hilarious and that’s even even better then the good stuff it makes.

So when I saw this video in the Google Photos Creations section, I couldn’t help but laugh because I couldn’t figure out how it choose those photographs.  So, I decided to share it with Facebook using my Android device.  All seemed fine until I got an email from Facebook about the video being a copyright infringement.

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So, imagine my surprise to this because all of the pictures and I would assume Google used open media or such for the music.  So, I clicked the link to see the details.

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I clicked the link to restore the video and provided all of the detailed information like my full name, physical address, email address and telephone number.  They also made me “sign” it digital affidavit style by typing my name.

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Success.  I just have to wonder if there is meta-data that lets Facebook know that the Google Photo AI created it and this was just a way to thwart the competition.  I dunno why it triggered the violation but conspiracy aside, online companies are guilty of this kind of behavior.  Microsoft intentionally.displayed a scary, vague message when you installed Windows 3.11 on top of Digital Research’s competing Disk Operating System or DOS to keep people loyal to the Microsoft brand.

So, I had been taking quite a few OnForce and WorkMarket jobs lately.  Anything that paid $50 an hour or more then $80 in total.  Yeah, I am a Technology Slut and whore my skills out at less then pizza delivery wages.  See, America has this whole huge network of outsourcing that lets people sit back and exploit those who are between jobs or lack recent applicable employment to seek other employment.  They often violate the Employee / Employer versus Contractee / Contractor relationship.  Very few of them calculate travel distance, time, gas mileage and wear and tear on a vehicle.  There are many situations where there are consumables that must be eaten by the contracted individual where there is no real mechanism for requesting repayment.

OnForce was the first, it basically acts as a middle-man between labor or people who are seeking work.  The buyer is a company that needs boots on the ground in a state and area where they have no other employees.  Most of the time the work is emergency break/fix of a production system.  In the majority of the work it is retail point of sale systems and the signature capture (Credit Card) machines.  Some buyers are better then others, some have gotten placed in a management position over a nationwide upgrade or roll out and just lost the ability to support people in the field.

I paid OnForce to do a background test and a drug test a few years ago.  Some buyers require this, others do not.  The contracts come through from the buyer and they often act as your support although sometimes they just act as a middle-man between you and the retailer you are performing the work for in house IT Department.  Sometimes they just collect pictures and signed worksheets to prove the work was done.  In cases like this, checking in requires two or three telephone calls and checking out requires two or three calls and as many e-mails containing the consumables. 

This is necessary because so many of the contractors were pizza tech’s, everyone knows one.  It’s someone who is “good with computers” and their solution to everything seems to be to reinstall Windows and not install updates.  It’s someone with no ability to function in a real IT department because they don’t understand production environments.  Many of them taking jobs where they barely understood the terminology being used and ultimately fucked things up more then they were before.  Suddenly the job comes through with a higher spend limit and a bunch more controls on the how’s and the what’s, often making it possible to work essentially for free.

So when the job says $50 an hour for up to 2 hours, at 2.5 hours the buyers get difficult about increasing the spend limit.  Even though their check out took half an hour.  Now, this $100 will get taxed about 15% by OnForce who take a fee like our cyber pimp and then fees for Workman’s Compensation and Liability Insurance in case I fuck some shit up.  Suddenly, it’s $85 and I have had buyers take two weeks to pay and the Pimp doesn’t do anything until it hits extremes.

WorkMarket is another and this one added the humiliating procedure of “applying” for work.  I think OnForce has added it as well. You have to submit in. writing why they should hire you.  There are more and more jobs that come through at less then $50 an hour that need a three or four hour drive one way.  It is only a matter of time before the California Department of Labor gets asked to handle a dispute between the contractor, OnForce and The Buyer.  Somewhere in there either the buyer or OnForce is going to be considered an employer.  Suddenly a lot of rules concerning pay and such come in to play.  The Labor Department is who handles contractor disputes like this.

Now, several larger companies like AT&T, Comcast, Charter and several other global companies send contractors in to people’s homes with just the standard background check and drug test.  Sometimes they don’t require it.  California requires you to have a license for small appliance repair appliance repair as well.  The problem is that these background checks can miss things in other states.  There are potentially violent criminals doing the repair work for these companies.  I refuse to do in home stuff as it always makes me feel awkward.

Seriously what if I have to fart or I need to go to the bathroom.  Especially having to take a shit.  I hate taking a shut unless it’s a private bathroom where I can drop fat man and little boy.  Bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  That was a text exchange between MooSe and I one morning with him repeated saying TMI or Timmy.  He was looking for me on campus and I was taking a dump.  I explained that after dropping the little boy, another bomb appeared in the chute.  But I digress.  Yes, I made an atomic bomb poop reference.  You read it and laughed.  Don’t hate me.

So, this is the poverty indentured servitude I have endured of late.  I am reluctant to take even seemingly easy jobs because the middle-men are usually half-assing it.  They schedule jobs on California up until three PM.  They get to work at 8am EST, hour for lunch and out the door by 5.  That’s 2pm here in Sunny California.  They are nowhere to be reached.  You try the retailer’s help desk and they have no answer either.  The end user, the store manager begs you not to leave then fucked like this.

After half an hour of calling and adding notes to the work order and even emailing I call the appropriate pimp.  Some buyers use bother pumps often pricing differently through each pimp and placing different terms.  The pumps always do the same, leave a note in the ticket and try to call the buyer.  Now, sometimes the pimps act as agents for the buyers so they are the buyers and the pimps.  These are often the worst because I am not sure any agent I have ever spoken to has had an IT Support background.

Many times I am asked to present myself as representing another Company.  Sometimes I have letters I printed on my ink jet printer authorizing me to work.  I rarely get questioned and most take it at face value since the parts came from UPS and corporate office has emailed about it.  Sometimes I get overzealous managers who want to know the step by step details.  I have had others watch me like I am going to steal.  I usually ignore the employees and perform the functions I have been asked to do.  It is scary that there are so many people handling the financial security of major retailers and your information.  The Target breach was a man in the middle attack.

Back when Covered California went online, I registered for healthcare and took whatever the state gave struggling, working people below the poverty level.  Such is the life of a college student.  I received an insurance card and never used it.  Then I got sick Saturday, October 3, 2015 with cellulitis and a call to the insurance company nurse line directed me to the Emergency Room at Mercy San Juan Hospital in North Sacramento County.

I spent 7 hours in the ER awaiting a room and medical attention and as assaulted by a security guard but once I made it to the room the staff and service and treatment.  They were attentive to my mental and physical needs.  So, they saved my life by using strong antibiotics to reverse the crawl of sepsis up my legs.  I realize this will be paid for in full by my insurance carrier.  They sent me home with paper prescription for the pain killers as they are controlled by strict laws.  The two others for antibiotics were sent to the closest Wal-Mart.

Picking up the prescription from Wal-Mart yielded no out of pocket expenses by using the card, this is the reason I chose Wal-Mart.  I know about the evils of the corporation but under these conditions, it was closest and it was free.  It only took 30 minutes for them to fill the prescription. Two incredibly strong antibiotics, one twice a day for ten days and the other four times a day, every six hours, for ten days.  So in ten days I should be infection free.

Dear Dad Diary

Hey Dad.  It’s a Tuesday afternoon and I just got out of class and I am unwinding before I do homework. Yeah, Dad, me, in college and get this, I have really good grades.  Even in PE classes.  No shit. I have dreamed about reuniting with you at some point and while the locations change the atmosphere is always the same.

See Dad, I have reached a point in my life where I have few regrets, few things that truly cause me any grief.  I am and always have been able to be totally honest with myself about everything.  After I left home the second time Dad, it was all me and it was hard and it was tough and painful and fun and exciting and I made it.  Thanks to you.  You see Dad, you taught me well.  You inspired me to never fuck up in a way that I had to apologize to you through glass.  I didn’t want to let you down.

I have two kids Dad, a daughter named Kethry and a son named Haplo.  Haplo is so much like me Dad, and I imagined him at various ages interacting with you like Josh or Susan or Zach.  I am not writing this to guilt you, rather to let you know that we miss you and that if you want it, there is always a place in our lives for you.

See, Zach and I had become friends right before he died, starting when I came back for my mom’s funeral.  I understand why you didn’t come even though every cell in my body wanted it.  Dad, Zach loved and missed you to the end.  My biggest regret with my mother is allowing her to somehow make you feel like you had to choose.

Jessica and I have always been close and talked, she called Michelle who called me to tell me about Mom.  I stayed with her while I was in Maryland.  I talked to her a lot over the last 15 years.  She and I have discussed you and she loves and missed you too.  Jessica has three children, two boys and a girl.  I met the two boys when I was in Maryland, the adorable girl was just born.

Danielle has a son who was born shortly before Zach died.  Zach is a family tragedy Dad and has put as big a gap in my heart as big as when Sonny died.  I really and truly wanted to be sitting outside in the garage listening to 98 Rock, smoking and drinking beer with you every night for months after that.  I wanted you to tell me about Zach.  I wanted you to just be, well, you Dad.

You taught me things Dad, that I didn’t realize I had learned and found myself doing them and questioning why I was that I realized where I learned it.  I have had many of my friends tell me I am a good friend and I learned that from you.  I learned how to be a good man, by watching you.  I took your advice and never screwed up, because I never wanted to let you down.

When I first met you, I really didn’t know what to think of you.  Then my mom pulled that shit and sent me away again and for most of my life, I thought you had something to do with it. It’s like not only finding out Darth Vader is your father but he also cuts off your hand.  Then, we were talking right before I left Baltimore and you told me how she told you.  See, Dad, I realize now, mom manipulated and controlled all of us to an extent.  She used each of us to manipulate the others and control then too.

Jessica and I were talking one time and she told me that she hated you.  When I asked why she said because she was afraid of you and when I pressed said it was because you were an alcoholic.  She said she had to spend her tweens in her room hiding.  Through the conversation, and questions I helped her realize Mom made her afraid.  See, I realized this when I left home that night after our last talk, Dad.

See, mom used to do it all the time when I lived at home.  Passive aggressive war on terror like fear mongering.  You were on your way home and I should go to my room so as to avoid you because I know how you are…. I know how you are?  Yes.  Sometimes a little bullish and awkward but never threatening.  Overbearing but never making me afraid.  But at the time her feigned anxiety and manifested concerns created a panicked flight response.  We went to our rooms.

I learned from you by your actions and those actions often taught by self-inflicted shame.  One time you came home drunk, Mom was in the hospital.  The police dropped you off, she was on the phone and did her magic.  I didn’t answer the door.  A few months later we were at mom-mom’s house and Uncle June came home drunk and stumbling.  I watched how lovingly, respectfully and gently you took care of him and I was shamed.

When I realized later how she had manipulated our relationship, I had this dream of visiting before you two separated and drinking a beer or better yet, smoking a joint and telling you all of this.  See Dad, if you hadn’t of been who you were, when you were the it wouldn’t have rubbed off on me.  I wouldn’t be the man I am today.  I love you and really and truly want to you to know that.  Life is short.  Hopefully Aunt Sandy shares this with you.