Category: Uncategorized


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.

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.

Social Networking Bullies

Steven Grumbine is attempting to destroy my online reputation and assassinate my character over the last blog post.  Read this and you decide if Mr. Grumbine is the man he purports to be. He runs “Grumbine’s Political Mish Pit” on Facebook.

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I got heated over something in Grumbine’s political mosh pit, of which I have been a member for over 6 years and an admin for almost as long.  I have never had a problem with people in the group before this and all the controversy took place in the Admin group discussions.  Nothing was said to Steven Grumbine directly and I wasn’t bashing admins or the group.  He kicked me from the admin group and the mosh pit without so much as a good bye.

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I asked him about it and he said he did not do it, someone else did.  Even though the rules say we aren’t supposed to just kick people.

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Rather then admit what he did and admit it was fucked up and violated not just his own rules but what one would expect from friends, he doubles down and blames it on another admin.

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Except that admin is also on my friend’s list.  And when asked, she flat out denied having any part of it.

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When confronted with the fact Leah told me she didn’t have anything to do with it, he reaches for Angela as the source, even though he told me to talk to Leah.  At that instant, he is suddenly at work, even though he seems to have time to continually post in the pit and discuss shit in other groups.
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This came up when I tried to reply to his last message.

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Clicking learn more made me realize that now, I had been kicked from the group and blocked by someone who had previously professed brotherhood and friendship. Kind of ironic, that when confronted with his patent dishonesty he brings up Angela and then does this even though Leah is my friend and I asked her myself.

This is the kind of person and friend he is.  It left me feeling worthless and like shit and he wasn’t man enough to own i since he did it.  I wouldn’t have posted this or handled this, this way, but he sort of forced my hand.  I know when others have been treated this way the behind the scenes character assassination kicked in to full gear.  I want people to know exactly how this came about so that people can form their own opinions.

Zachary Larson

One of the reasons I chose California was that it was because it was 2862 miles from Baltimore because it provided a buffer from the manipulations of my mother but at the same time that distance has been a burden as well.  Especially when tragedy strikes, like when my mother died in 2011 and I had to fly back for her funeral and wake.  Luckily I was in a position then to afford to do this but not now and I can acutely feel the distance and how it has effected my relationship with my family, especially my nephew Zach.  Oh, Bean, why?  Bean, that was a nickname his mother, Danielle, my middle sister, gave to her son after he was born.  Everyone called him that as a baby and even as a teenager, I still called him that when I went back for the funeral.

Zach Larson Facebook

Not long ago, Zach came out and told everyone that he was gay.  It was not really a surprise to anyone and it did not change anything, really.  Except the bullying, I am sure.  Which caused Zach to have a bunch of other issues as it usually does.

A couple of weeks ago, on a Monday night, Zach decided that an end to the bullying was all he wanted, all he needed and used his belt to hang himself in his bedroom where his mother found him.  Too late.  And I am trying to process the tragedy and the emotional tidal wave that has resulted from his decision which I feel was selfish and wrong.  I fully embrace my anger at him for making that decision while I feel the vacancy that the knowledge of his exit from this world leaves and like the hole left when a tooth was pulled as a kid, I cannot help but stick my tongue in it.  A friend of mine said once, that the worst part about getting older are the number of celebrities, people, friends and family that we mourn because they are no longer a part of this world.

I haven’t really blogged since the end of the summer semester, and I was photo blogging almost daily and I stopped when I decided to make changes in my life regarding friendship.  I have MooSe to thank for that, because through his actions he has shown me that I am not wrong in expecting my friends to tow the line in the friendship.  This added to the fact that my youngest sister promised me a digital SLR which never materialized and I cannot really bitch because I only expressed a desire for one and she offered me her old one.  I had really, really wanted to do more photo blogging and when the camera did not arrive, I just did not start when school started.

Part of this was probably the malaise and sadness I have felt about the health issues Moose’s wife has been dealing with.  He’s become my best friend and she is my friend too this raises the level of empathy to the point where it is acute.  When MooSe leaves after the Body Fitness class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Algebra and Anthropology class remind me acutely of where he is and why he is not there.  This sort of saps my enjoyment and desire to be there as well but I am committed to the classes.  I just need to hunker down and devote more time and effort to doing the homework and studying.  So far, I have an A in the Anthropology Class and a B in the Algebra class.  I think I have a B in the ASL class too, although I want to bring both the ASL and Algebra grades up to an A.

So, this blog did not turn out the way I thought it was going to, since I was writing what came to my head without a real outline or a plan.  I just felt the need to write something to assuage Mykl who keeps encouraging me to blog more.  Blog more.  Blog More.

Then while I was lamenting my lack of funds for tasty munchables from Starbucks, Chester Cheetah came walking in and I realized my munchies were causing me to hallucinate.  Right?  That’s my story, and I am sticking to it.

Cancer….

So, I am no stranger to cancer, having had a girlfriend develop a lump in her breast and at the same time she was diagnosed with breast cancer she was also diagnosed with Lupus.  So I understand how devastating this diagnosis is and when my friend told me that his wife had recently been diagnosed, it sent me reeling.  What do you say to your friend?  I’m sorry sounds so damn contrite.  So I simply said, anything you or her need, anytime, day or night and I will be there for you.  This is the kind of friend I am, the kind of friend I will continue to be even when people I have treated this way decide not to treat me this way because this is the kind of person I want to be, this is how I want my friends and family to remember me.

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This is me sitting in the Student Center at ARC doing homework, writing this blog and restoring data.  It is kind of funny to me that there are so few students here on Fridays and that there are so few classes here on Fridays.  Here’s to a good weekend.