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“I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid…”

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"I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid..."

Monday – 18 September 2017
In alignment with my rationale for #NBNThursday, today has most definitely been “a Monday.” That’s okay, this too shall pass. OK Go said so.

See? Told ya so.

Today started far too early. 5:15 AM early. I was in the office at 6:15. Much respect to those of you who are up, out, and making the doughnuts that early every day. The reason for such an early start was to handle last-minute prep for a week of meetings. In itself, that’s not so bad. It became “not-so-great” on Friday evening when – long after the day had been “done” – I was notified that said meetings were going to start at 10 AM, rather than the 2 PM we had originally been told. In short, our timeline for handling things just had four hours lopped off the top. As there was nothing to be done about it, I simply replied with “We can only do what we can do.” And then, I proceeded to enjoy my weekend.

“Enjoying my weekend” included, but was not limited to:

  • Judging a game tournament.
  • Watching the new DuckTales cartoon (and Star Wars: Rebels and Care Bears) with Team DiVa.
  • Going to the State Fair
  • Playing too few video games.

Fast forward (or would it be “rewind,” in this case) to this morning. We got the prep work out of the way for the influx of meeting participants with time to spare. Yes, there were a couple of glitches, but on the whole, we were done and life was good.

A few minutes after the presenters got started setting up for the day, we were informed that they were changing the configuration of one of the meeting rooms. Okay, fine. Whatever. Then we were informed “why” they were doing it: In the original configuration, only one of the projectors in that room was activated. That was news to me, but it didn’t preclude them from making the room work. As this news was being relayed, a coworker started laughing to himself. Naturally, I asked why. He proceeded to tell us that he knew of this idiosyncrasy.

I’ll pause here to note that he was here last week when we were setting up the room, but said nothing about it.

::: braincramp :::

Mischief managed. And external ire restrained.

The morning wore in afternoon with out much further ado. Thankfully.

And then, I saw this article: Toys ‘R’ Us could file for bankruptcy this week.

I was struck with a sense of nostalgic sadness. One of the first things that went through my mind upon reading the article was the childhood glee of trips to the TRU in Catonsville with either my mother or father. We may not have gone weekly , but there were definitely a lot of trips there. For me, those were the days of The Adventure People, Micronauts, and electric trains (mostly Tyco, when you could buy a decent train set – or just pieces – at your local toy purveyor). I remember asking my father to drive down “the roller coaster road,” a hilly back road ending at the Toys ‘R’ Us parking lot, which – if you went just fast enough – would send rollercoaster-like butterflies into the pit of your stomach. I remember wandering the aisles of the store, while my mother shopped at a clothing store next door. Hell, I still remember the 1970s commercial jingle – the long version.

Roughly a year ago, there were three (3) TRU locations in the Salt Lake Valley. One closed last November, the other closed a few months ago. The lone remaining store is down the street from my house. Yes, I still go there, but it’s not just for me, these days. Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed the quantity of some toy lines diminishing, while others have… not-exactly “flourished,” but at least survived. But it hasn’t felt like the same store that I used to visit as a kid for a long time. I’m sure that a fair portion of that is attributable to having gotten older.

There was no mention plans for the chain to close in the article, but like so many things, perhaps its time is nearing an end.

My inner kid still hopes that’s a long way off, though.

End-of-the-week musings

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End-of-the-week musings

Friday – 21 April 2017
Another week comes to an end.
And, apparently, it’s been a month since I dusted off the trusty blog. I really need to get better about this…

In short: It’s been a good – and eventful – month. The highlights of the month include, but are not limited to:

  • Going on a business trip.
  • Surprising my parents by showing up on their doorstep on the first leg of the trip.
  • Meeting some new coworkers on the trip.
  • Getting to visit with my uncle towards the end of the trip.
  • Coming down with some travel-related bug that had me down for almost a week.
  • The start of baseball season and the O’s getting off to a great start. Hopefully, they’ll keep some of this momentum through the season.
  • Meeting a Twitter and Facebook friend.
  • TRAINS!  Well, getting to head up to the train.. museum(?)… and one of my favorite train shops.
  • Traveling to Boise to visit family and friends over Easter.

    Sara, Team DiVa, and Grandmother – Easter 2017

  • Watching Team DiVa hunt for Easter eggs while we were gone and seeing their surprise at discovering that the Easter Bunny had apparently left Easter baskets for them at our home while we were out of town.

I’m sure that I’m leaving more than “a couple” things out, but all-in-all, it really has been a good month.

Stray Toasters

And with that…

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye.
(Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, not “The Sound of Music”)

This is me, (more than) slightly annoyed.

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This is me, (more than) slightly annoyed.

Tuesday – 21 March 2017
This entry can be filed under “Some People’s Children…”

While doing renovations last year, our company added a cafeteria to our facility. The company that ran it couldn’t always keep up with the demand, so they are no longer here. Yes, this means that we have a largely unused space, but that’s another story.

Our Facilities Manager has done an outstanding job of coordinating with a number of local food trucks to have them fill the void. Today, we had a new-to-our-location truck, Bandera Brisket. They had walk-ups not only from our company, but from some of the other firms in the building, as well.  They didn’t know what the turnout would be, so they didn’t come loaded for bear. And they got SLAMMED. They showed up a little before 11:00 AM and, by the time I went out (12:20 PM-ish), they were out of many meats and some sides; I was the 5th or 6th person in line when they announced this.

The guy in front of me turned to me started complaining about “I came out here for brisket, but if it’s all gone before I get there, I’m going to be upset.”

SIDEBAR:
I understand having your heart, mind and taste buds all set for “Food X.” Been there, done that. I also understand that if you wait too long to go and get something, you might find that it’s already gone.

After the people in front of us were gone, he went up to the window and asked whether there was brisket. There was about 1/3 lb, which he got…
AND THEN proceeded to go on a diatribe about “If there hadn’t been any left, and he’d wasted his lunch time waiting for nothing, that he’d be mad…” Blah. Blah. Blah.

Let’s set the record straight on a few things:

  1. There is no requirement for us to have food trucks here.
  2. There is no requirement stating that you have to eat at the food truck, if one is here.
  3. The vendors didn’t know what to expect and it would have been foolish for them to come out here – for their first time – with a truck full of meat that didn’t sell.
  4. Put on your big boy pants and be happy that you have SOMETHING/ANYTHING to eat. Find a meat, ask them to cook it, pay for it, move on.

To me, these things all seem like easy concepts to grasp.
Maybe it’s me.
Maybe it’s Maybelline.

Either way, this comes under #firstworldproblems and it annoyed annoys me.

 

And, in the interest of full disclosure: I wanted brisket. I wound up getting their ribs – with a savory dry rub – and they were delicious.

Okay, rant over. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Tuesday.

New Friday Thing

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New Friday Thing

Friday – 10 March 2017
Another work week comes to an end.

 

It was a pretty good week, in all. Things happened. Stuff, too.

I neglected to post – or, rather, elaborate on – something from last week: Sara! and I went to dinner at Table X, as a belated Valentine’s Day outing without Team DiVa.

Table X describes itself as:

We’re a restaurant run by three chefs. We’re going to prepare you thoughtful, honest food without the fussiness of fine dining. In fact, we’re going to give you a new casual dining experience, altogether. Again and again.

We had encountered these chefs’ cuisine last year, at a pop-up dinner done in conjunction with Utah Opera’s production of Tosca. That – along with the idea of there being a new casual dining restaurant both outside of downtown Salt Lake City and not too far from our home – informed Sara’s choice on places to try. The restaurant seats about 230 people, has an open design, and has an air that combines a modern look with a touch of industrial design.

For dinner, we selected the Chef’s Tasting Menu, comprised of five (5) courses:

  • Red Beet Curry
  • Cabbage Toast
  • Scallops,
  • Christiansen Farm Berkshire Pork, and
  • Pecan Tart with homemade Pecan Ice Cream

Let me start by saying that I was leery of a couple items on the menu: the Beet Curry and the “Cabbage Toast.” I am not a fan of beets, nor have I been since I was very young. And the idea of a “cabbage toast” was… intriguing, but set me a little on edge. However, as the Prince song said:

…but it was Saturday night,
I guess that makes it alright.
I said, ‘What have I got to lose?’

The curry was served with cauliflower florets. It was flavorful and not at all what I expected. Sara! commented that it as most likely because they were not pickled beets (like from a can), which I abhor. I happily ate the entire course.

Next up: Cabbage Toast. This was a house-made sourdough, topped with a kelp cream/butter and a red cabbage jam. My first thought, upon hearing “jam” was of a pulped, processed spread. I was wrong. This was… simply… cabbage. And it was excellently prepared; I ate almost all of it.

The next course was scallops. I was all-in for this one, as I love scallops, yet never seem to order them when we’re out. (That, and the fact that I have some issues with getting seafood in a landlocked state.) The scallop – singular – was topped with a small portion of ham. Added bonus: Sara! isn’t a huge fan of scallops, so she gave me at least half of hers. (WIN!)

Course Four was the pork loin. Again, I was happy to try this. And I wasn’t disappointed. It was served with celeriac and red cabbage. It was tender and juicy and just seasoned enough to extract and enhance the flavor of the meat. NOTE: At the beginning of dinner, Sara! asked if she could make a couple of substitutions, because she doesn’t eat pork. For this course, they brought her the Winter Vegetable Stew. It was presented with the vegetables in a bowl and the broth in a separate ramekin, poured at the table.

For the final course: Dessert! This was a slice of pecan tart, presented with house-made pecan ice cream. It was the perfect finish to the meal. Sweet. Sticky, yet somehow slightly crumbly. Just right.

In all, I was quite happy with the meal, the atmosphere, and the service. Our waitresses, Rikki and Haleigh (“HAY-lee”), were attentive and responsive to our requests. While not on the “let’s do this every week” I would gladly recommend dining there.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Saturday Night Musings

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Saturday Night Musings

Saturday – 28 January 2017
Happy Chinese New Year!

Another week comes to a close. Between being sick earlier in the week, having a vmware host decide to go on break – and take a few servers with it – in the middle of a workday, and the political shenanigans that have been going on here in the U.S., I can honestly say that I’m glad to have it in the rear-view mirror (or back-up camera, for some of you).

This isn’t to say that the week hasn’t been without its bright spots. Thankfully, there have been a few.

Stray Toasters

And that’s all for now.

Namaste.

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

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“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

Monday – 16 January 2017
It is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States.

martin-luther-king

On this Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service, we reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through a national day of service across the country. Share your story of service throughout the day on social media using #MLKDay and follow the impact on all of our official accounts.

mlk2005_noline

This year, I’m borrowing an idea from a former coworker, that will allow us to not only do something in/for our community, we can do it with Team DiVa: We are baking brownies and delivering them to the officers at the local police station. And, we are again seeing things for donation, as service to our community.

If you’re a parent of a young child and looking for a way to help them learn about Martin Luther King, Jr, I once again recommend Brad Metzler’s I am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Can Change the World).

IAmMLK

 

Please take some time to reflect on the day and what it means and how we can work to bridge the gaps between us to build better relationships, a better country, and a better world.

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Burn Down the Mission…”

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"Burn Down the Mission..."

Wednesday – 11 January 2017
Yesterday was a troubled day. I was of ill humor for the better part of the day, thanks to external forces.

I resolved to bend. Not break.

I also had a seemingly all-too-rare John Stewart moment (1, 2):

Some bridges are need to be burned.

Reflecting on that, I even carried the thought further: Some bridges need to be burned – not only to keep you from going backwards – to keep others from dragging you back.

I also realized that in some cases, I don’t just want or even need to burn the bridge, I want to do it so the bridge burns and those on it are purged in the cleansing fire.

I’m not looking back, but I want to look around me now.

Despite being overcast and rainy and this morning’s comedy of errors – I overslept, spilled a LOT of water on the floor while trying to change the water filter in the refrigerator, and spilled a bit of coffee on myself right before leaving home – today has been much better and I’ve solved a work-related problem that contributed to Tuesday’s irritation. These are wins and I’ll gladly take them.

Stray Toasters

  • This weekend, I stumbled across the Wisconsin-Purdue basketball game and decided to watch it. About 1/3 of the way into the first half, Vanessa came in, sat down, asked what I was doing, and who I wanted to win the game. I explained that I wanted the Boilermakers to win and why – I went to school there. She was so surprised/excited by this, for some reason, she raced out of the room to tell Diana. Mission accomplished, she came back and watched most of the game. Enthusiastically cheering when Purdue scored, not-quite-booing when the Badgers scored. Diana came in for a fair portion of the second half. It was great. We might have to attend a local game and see if that holds their interest as much.
  • Sometimes, working with  a view of the mountains and the airport’s take-off/approach path doesn’t totally suck.
    • Last week, I saw Southwest Airlines’ Maryland One landing. Sure, it’s not really a little slice of home, but it was close enough for me. It surprised me, though, as I didn’t know that SWA was still flying unique liveries like that. I’ll have to keep an eye out for others.

      picture (c) Smithsonian Institution

  • Stan Lee – and other guests whom I wouldn’t mind seeing – was just announced as coming to Salt Lake Comic Con FanX in March…
  • #AlwaysForward
  • Everything really is awesome: The Daily LEGO Project finds the whimsy in everyday objects
  • The Jackal
  • I’m almost done with Dragonflight, the first book in the “Dragonriders of Pern” series. I’ve been enjoying it, despite a few questions I’m sure that almost any Pern-related wiki could answer… but I’m hoping that they play out in the story.
  • 5%
  • I can find music by Yoko Kanno and/or “a band called The Seatbelts” on Spotify, but neither of them are Cowboy Bebop-related, unfortunately.
  • I might play with my trains a bit this evening…
  • …there might even be whiskey involved.

.eof

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

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Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Wednesday – 07 December 2016
Today is the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

pearlharbor

Take a few moments to remember those who died and those who fought.

Veteran’s Day 2016

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Veteran's Day 2016

Friday – 11 November 2016
Today is Veteran’s Day.

veterans_day_poster

 

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. 

On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Congress had declared the day a legal federal holiday in honor of all those who participated in the war. On the same day the previous year, unidentified soldiers were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a resolution that the “recurring anniversary of [November 11, 1918] should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations” and that the president should issue an annual proclamation calling for the observance of Armistice Day. By that time, 27 state legislatures had made November 11 a legal holiday. An act approved May 13, 1938 made November 11 a legal Federal holiday, “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’”

American effort during World War II (1941-1945) saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history (more than 16 million people); some 5.7 million more served in the Korean War (1950 to 1953). In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

In the United States, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, while parades and other celebrations are held in states around the country. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day–a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American servicemembers who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans–living or dead–but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

excerpted from History.com

I would like to take a moment to thank all of those – and especially my family, friends, and extended family – who served our country, both in peace and in wartime. I appreciate your sacrifices so that I can live in a country where I can reap the benefits of the freedom for which you fought.

I would also like to leave you with this article, first printed in Esquire in 2010: The Things That Carried Him.

 

Namaste.

September 11th: Fifteen Years

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September 11th: Fifteen Years

Sunday – 11 September 2016
Today marks the fifteen years since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as the downing of a plane in Shanksville, PA. (Last year’s post)

Please remember those who died, both in the attack and those who gave their lives trying to rescue/save those in the affected areas.

911IntroGraphic
September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance

Namaste.

Life in Black, White, and Blue: One Week Later

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Life in Black, White, and Blue: One Week Later

Thursday – 14 July 2016
It’s been one week since I wrote Life in Black, White, and Blue. In that week, I’ve had a number of people read it and thank me for giving a voice to my feelings and casting it out to the world. Some have even asked if they could share it with others; I happily said “yes” to those requests. I was also deeply touched and honored that they thought enough of what I had to say to want to share it with others. Hopefully, something I wrote will help someone else be able to address their own uncertainties.

This week has been better. And I have a few things to say about that. (Surprise!)

In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night… 1
Those are the first two lines of the Green Lantern Corps Oath. (I’m a comic book fan, but there really is a point to this.) The GLC are, basically, space cops. Members of the Corps are chosen for their ability to overcome great fear. Their weapon is willpower.

Let’s explore that for a moment: People chosen not because they don’t fear anything, but because they can overcome their fear.

What could we do if we didn’t fear each other?
What could we do if we had the will to stand up for – and with – other?
What could we do if we chose to not let our differences divide us, but instead found things within each other to lift up?

Do you realize how powerful we’d be?

We would be unstoppable.

We only have to let go of our fear.

You can’t have something for nothing, you can’t have freedom for free… 2
People are protesting. To voice their frustrations and to hopefully have that frustration heard and acted upon. And they have done it despite the very real possibility of being arrested. Why? Because, for them, freedom of the body is a small price to pay for the freedom of their souls. Because it’s worth taking a stand, not only for themselves, but also – possibly, especially – for those who can’t.

We ain’t got no time 4 excuses, the promised land belongs 2 all… 3
There are inequalities in our system and, partly because of that, we’ve become polarized:

  • Black (or just “brown”) vs. White
  • Rich vs. Poor
  • Those with power vs. Those with none and/or no voice

I found a couple of items today that made an impression. One was an article from Henry Rollins in L.A. Weekly, excerpted below:

If white America experienced a fraction of what black America deals with regarding law enforcement, incarceration, the court system, employment and countless other facts of life, they would immediately and collectively lose their minds.

…and…

I’m an educated, Caucasian, heterosexual male. Does this ensure I will have success and live the American Dream? Obviously it doesn’t, but it damn sure drops me on second base with a great opportunity to steal third.

The other was a Facebook post from Molly Suzanna, recounting her experience after being arrested for a traffic stop when she was 19, excerpted below:

This arrest is still on my record. It doesn’t prevent me from anything but I do have to explain felony charges when I get pulled over or apply for a job.

I have never publicly told this story.

I tell it to you, today.

And here’s why:

If I were a black man, I would be dead. Plain and simple. Pretty white girls don’t get shot during wrongful arrests. Not any that I know of, and certainly not me.

You can’t deny white privilege and what it affords you. To deny it is to acknowledge it exists, that you are privy to it. You don’t see it because it exists for you.

Something is very wrong in this country. There is a sickness. Black men (and sometimes women) are dying. They are being gunned down. For no discernible reason, and at an alarming rate, by white officers.

Seeing these two points of view – from people who are not Black and who have realized the advantages a privilege that is a by-product of the fickle finger of fate and genetics have given them – gave me hope: Hope that there are people out there who get it and are willing to put their stories out there. And hope that change can happen.

And the knowledge that they fear is a weapon to be used against them… 4
Knowledge is power.

  • Knowledge of our rights and how to exercise them.
  • Knowledge that we can raise our voices to call out the things we refuse to stand for any longer.
  • Knowledge of that there is a lot of work to be done, but that it’s worth it to build a better world.

Properly applied, knowledge can combat the problems we see on the news and, for some, in our neighborhoods.

Be well.

Namaste.

1Green Lantern Corps Oath, DC Comics
2Something for Nothing, Rush
3 – We March, Prince
4The Weapon, Rush

Life in Black, White, and Blue

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Life in Black, White, and Blue

Thursday – 07 July 2016
I usually denote Thursdays as being “No Bad News Thursday.” Today is not one of them. The news – and social media – are full of nothing but bad news today.

Quite frankly, it’s been wearying. A heavy, ponderous weight that even Atlas would be hard pressed to bear.

Before I go further, I want to state the following:

  • This may not be pleasant for some to read. I refuse to apologize for that.
  • If you have something you would care to address about something I have written, do so.
  • I have friends and family members – black and white – in law enforcement and military. I respect the job that they do. It is no small undertaking to go to work and not know, with absolute certainty, that it won’t be the last time you come home. The last time you see your family. The last time you kiss your spouse. The last time you hug your kids. The last time… for everything. Yet, they suit up, walk out the door, and put their lives on the line to protect the peace and safety we hold dear. Every day.
  • There are problems with our system. The words “The land of the free and the home of the brave” appear to mean different things for different people. That’s ironic and unfortunate in a country that was founded on the principle that “All men are created equal.” Yes, that was by mid-18th Century standards, but the meaning and the intent were clear… even if it took another 100+ years to (mostly) fulfill that promise/premise.

With those things stated, let’s begin.

I am a man in my mid-40s.
I am a Black man in my mid-40s.
I am a Black man in my mid-40s, with a wife and two children.
I am a Black man in my mid-40s, with a White wife and two biracial children.
I am a Black man in my mid-40s, with a White wife and two biracial children, living in America.

These are truths and the facts of my life.

I woke this morning to learn that another Black male had been killed by a member of their local police department. This occurred less than forty-eight (48) hours after another man, hundreds of miles away, suffered the same fate. There names were: Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. To borrow a line from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:

“No, they’re not just names. We must remember that.”

These were men. Men with lives and families. Men who were promised, by the founding fathers of this country, the right to “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This is a promise that failed them. Lives and liberty cut short. The pursuit of happiness unfulfilled.

I do not live in either location where these tragedies happened and the only “eyewitnesses” I have are the video footage from bystanders of the incidents and the news media. According to what I’ve read and seen, both of these men were minding their respective business – one selling CDs outside a neighborhood store, one on his way home from the grocery store.

As I stated above, I have family and friends who wear the uniforms of peacekeepers. They chose to undertake a job that puts them at risk. The essence of their jobs can be distilled to this: They put themselves in harm’s way – on a daily basis – so that we can feel safe. So that we can be safe.

That’s not my job. Distilled to its essence, my job is to push buttons and see to it that computers work. It could also be extrapolated that my “other job,” that of parent and caregiver, is to ensure that my children have a safe and loving environment in which they can grow and flourish.

As a Black man in America, I am subject to a level of suspicion and scrutiny that my friends who are not “persons of color” are not. Yet for a difference that is, literally, skin deep, that scrutiny can often be taken to the level of “guilty until proven innocent,” a gross perversion of the law. My mother and mother-in-law had a “conversation” on social media earlier today, during which my mother expressed the following sentiment at one point:

Rob is my first born…I love him more than words can express. I continually pray for his safety/well-being.

When I read that, it nearly brought me to tears. My mother worries – genuinely worries – about me and forces beyond our control. Because, she too watches the news and sees the too-often unnecessary deaths of men my age and/or younger. Snuffed out for no apparent reason beyond the abusive use of power.

Any loss of life, especially for senseless reasons, is heinous. Just because I am Black, does that mean that my life, hopes, and dreams are worth less than someone else’s? No. But, looking at the news and social media today, I’d be hard pressed to find proof to bear that out. According to this article and this article, as of July 5th, since the beginning of 2016, at least 532 people have been killed by the police and as of this morning, 136 of those were Black. For the record, July 7th is the 188th day of the year. That means that a Black person has been killed almost daily by police since the year began. The Guardian provides an interactive database of statistics of “People killed by the police in the US” that can be found here.

Going by the Guardian’s count, 261 white people were killed by police — the highest total out of any racial group. But data also shows that black people and Native Americans are being killed at higher rates than any other group. – ThinkProgress

Let me note that I in no way mean to diminish their deaths or the deaths of anyone of any other ethnic background. I sympathize for their families and loved ones. But, theirs isn’t my paradigm.

I spent a portion of this afternoon talking with a friend who works as civilian support staff for a police department. She said that she feels like:

…I’m caught between defending the good cops and defending “offenders” to the not so good cops.

and

I’ve found myself realizing that we haven’t progressed as a society, and these shootings are not isolated incidents. It scares the hell out of me. And I don’t know where to start to fix/help.

What needs to happen? Change. What form should that change take? I don’t know. But, I would love to see the hatred and fear that separate us and seem to be driving us farther apart transformed into something that can strengthen and forge us into something far better than we’ve seen in far too long. And I would like to see accountability levied against those who wield their power as a divine right rather than as civil servants and defenders of the law.

Be well.
Treat yourself – and others – well.
And let’s find a way to come together and show the world that we are better than this.

Namaste.

Lady Day

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Lady Day

Friday – 17 June 2016
We’ve made it to the end of another week. Selah.

My friend, Dave, posted a link to the following article in a chat a little while ago:

The tongue-in-cheek way the women of Google are responding to a shareholder’s sexist comment

Synopsis:

The women of Google have come up with a clever, tongue-in-cheek way to raise awareness about gender equality after an investor made a sexist remark at the company’s annual shareholders meeting last week.

Now other Googlers are standing up in solidarity by designating this Thursday and Friday as “Lady Day.”

The idea sprouted in an email group for alums of a Google leadership-development program for women. One employee suggested that they should all change their titles to “Lady ___” in acknowledgment and lighthearted protest of the incident. As in “Lady Systems Engineer,” or “Lady People Analytics Manager.”

As of now, more than 800 Googlers — women and men — have changed their job titles in the company-wide directory or in their email signatures.

I recommend reading the entire article.

Google also came up with a new graphic to help illustrate the point:

So, for the day, you can refer to me as “Lady Systems Support Engineer.”

Solidarity – along with equality – is a pretty awesome thing.

Namaste.

Serious Question about NC House Bill 2…

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Serious Question about NC House Bill 2...

Monday – 02 May 2016
Something came to mind a few minutes ago and I am trying to wrap my head around the legal shadings surrounding it.

Let me back up and say that I think that NC HB 2 is one of the more idiotic, bigoted and offensive laws that I’ve heard of being proposed, let alone one that has actually been enacted. So, if you’re a fan of this law, you might want to ignore the rest of this post.

In broad terms – and according to the letter of the law – users of public single-sex, multiple occupancy restrooms must use the bathroom that matches their birth gender identity, correct?

I have two 4yo daughters, who I am not about to make – or allow, really – go into a public restroom by themselves. Multiple reasons. But, if I take them into the men’s room, am I in violation of the law?

I was talking this out with my friend, Chris, who pointed out the following:

Chris
Tricky. THEY would be the ones in violation of the law.
I think it has an exception for kids under a certain age, but I don’t know what age that is.

Rob
Right, but there’s the whole issue of them being not of age, so wouldn’t responsibility/culpability fall back on me?

Chris
You know, I’m not sure how that works. If they’re 12 and burn down the school, you’re not criminally responsible, but you might be on the hook for civil financial penalties.

That being said, there is an exception for: To accompany a person needing assistance

For me, that’s part of the problem: The girls are fully capable of going without assistance, for the most part; they are, however, too young to go unaccompanied. And, for example, on nights when Sara works and I take them out to dinner, they have to go to the men’s room to use the bathroom.

Chris responded to that with:

And yeah, I see nothing in the law specifying an age. Now if you tried to take them into the ladies room, I think they’d be more likely to try to enforce it than vice versa. But it seems to me that, technically, they don’t NEED assistance and so they would be in violation if you took them into a men’s room. Probably no judge would uphold it, but it would be a hassle for sure.

So, if I were to bring the girls to visit their grandparents in NC and we were to go out and I wound up having to take them to the restroom, would I have to worry about someone getting their dander up and trying to drag me to court – or even jail – because I had to take them to the “wrong” bathroom?

Food for thought.

And, I welcome any serious discourse on the matter, especially from anyone who lives in NC.

A few thoughts on family and funerals…

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A few thoughts on family and funerals...

Wednesday – 05 April 2016
I am writing wrote this on an airplane. I spent the last three days at home in Maryland. I went home for a grandparent’s funeral – my stepmother’s mother. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but it is never pleasant. Of my step-grandmother, I can honestly say this: At no time in the forty odd years that my father and stepmother have been married, she never treated me differently than any of her other grandchildren. Ever. And she was a loving great-grandmother to my girls, as well. She was a lovely woman and a genuinely good person. She will be missed. Greatly.

grandma anderson

Taken a three years ago…

I didn’t make any concrete plans while I was in Baltimore… for the most part. Of course, I was going to get crab cakes – living in a landlocked state made that something of an imperative. But, I also wanted to get together with a few people, schedules permitting. That part worked out reasonably well. I wasn’t able to connect with a few of my former classmates, but I was able to spend time with family. And, that was fantastic.

Sunday night, when I got in,  was able to spend three-plus hours talking with my father and brother. Opportunities like that are far and few between, as we live in different parts of the country. The conversation ranged over a number of topics, but it was great to just be able to sit in the same room and talk with the two of them.

Monday, after the funeral proceedings, I went out to visit an aunt and uncle. I didn’t them that I was in town, nor that I was coming out for a visit. That might sound a bit presumptuous, but I have what I consider a very good reason for that:

Before I moved out west, I would occasionally take a day trip to my paternal grandmother’s; she lived about three hours from where I lived. I would show up and there would be a spread of food laid out for me. I appreciated that, but hated that she went to the work for me to be there for an hour or two.  So, I stopped calling before heading to her house. That served a few purposes:

  1. She didn’t worry about me being on the road,
  2. She didn’t spend part of her day preparing a meal for me,
  3. I got to give her an unexpected surprise, and
  4. If she wasn’t at home – as happened a couple of times – she didn’t feel bad about missing me AND I got a great afternoon’s scenic excursion out of the deal.

So, as I noted, I didn’t tell my aunt and uncle I was coming by. This turned out to be equally fortuitous. Apparently, my aunt was having a kind of a “down” day and needed a boost, which she said my visit provided. (WIN!) I also got to sit and talk with them for a couple of hours, which was fantastic. I got to hear a few stories about when I was little and I was also treated to a story from (and about) my uncle that neither I nor my aunt had heard before.

Tuesday was a little more open-scheduled. We slept in and then met another aunt and cousin for lunch. We were going to go to one of my old haunts, but it wasn’t open for lunch. My sister suggested a nearby option, that also had seafood. Good call. Actually, excellent call. After that, my brother and I decided to walk over to the Inner Harbor and do a little shopping. We also had a chance to talk one-on-one, face-to-face. We also walked up Federal Hill, to get pictures of the skyline.

The Inner Harbor (taken from Federal Hill)

The Inner Harbor (taken from Federal Hill)

 

That evening, I made plans to meet my god-sister at her parents’ house. We talked for about an hour and a half, before she had to leave. After that, I sat and talked with my godparents for the next four hours. Again, I got to hear stories and learn a few things. I consider it time well-spent. By the time I got home, it was well after midnight… And my entire family was still awake. That was a not-so-minor surprise. And we proceeded to talk for the next couple of hours.

This morning Yesterday, my parents, siblings, and I went out for breakfast. I can’t recall the last time that the five of us – just the five of us – were able to do that.

Breakfast with the family...

Breakfast with the family.

It has to have been nearly twenty years, if not more. Again, time well-spent. We said goodbye to the ladies at the restaurant and headed to the airport with my father. All too soon, my time at home was at an end.

Despite the reason for us getting together, I had an amazing time with family and extended family. It also punctuated how valuable they are to me. It also made me even more appreciative of the fact that Sara, the girls, and I were able to go to Boise over Easter and visit her grandmother… who has become my sole remaining grandparent.

Namaste.