Archive for the 'news and info' Category

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

Monday, September 18th, 2017
"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

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
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”)

Politically incorrect… or terminally awesome?

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Politically incorrect... or terminally awesome?

Thursday – 16 March 2017
Another Thursday begins here in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain.

Don’t nobody bring me…

Let the word go forth.

A month or so ago, I was introduced to a lovely/horrible game (read: “time sink”) called GeoGuessr by my friend, Denise. (Not sure whether to give her credit or blame for this…) Do you like pictures? Do you like maps? Do you like figuring out where on a map a picture is from? This is the game for you.

Thanks to this game, I have now discovered a place, in The Phillipines, where I either want to be buried or have my ashes spread:

C’mon, with a name like this, who wouldn’t want to be buried/have their ashes spread here!? No one. Well, maybe not “alt-right” supremecists, but that’s a discussion for another time and forum.

I think that the only thing that could possibly be better would be to either be buried with these or figure out a way to make them work with cremation/ash spreading:

I found them in a grocery store in southern Utah many years ago. Apparently, they still make me laugh.

Namaste.

New Friday Thing

Friday, March 10th, 2017
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.

Catching up.

Monday, February 20th, 2017
Catching up.

Monday – 20 February 2017
Today is President’s Day in the U.S.

For my President’s Day #morningcoffee picture, I used Lex Luthor. Because I could.

Today was a slightly busier-than-planned day, but still very good. Team DiVa, after sleeping in until after 9:30 on Sunday morning, were up at 7:30 this morning – Diana decided to play with the Kindle, while Vanessa decided that crawling into our bed was her best option. (To be honest, I still appreciate getting kid cuddles when I can, as I know that they won’t last forever.)

After breakfast (cinnamon rolls!), it was a kind of lazy morning… until 10:30, when I got an email from work.

<sarcasm>
Yay.
</sarcasm>

So, I did what any diligent IT guy would do: I made like Kool Moe Dee and I went to work. I got there and looked at the system in question, only to find that there was nothing wrong. At. All.

*grblsnrkx*

Back home in time to surprise Team DiVa with a trip to the theatre to see The LEGO Batman Movie. It was a big hit. (Sara and I enjoyed it, too.) Back home again before heading up to Park City for…

…dinner with Liz, a high school classmate:

With Liz (photobomb by Maya)

We met at the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, where Liz and her family are staying this week. It’s the first time we’ve seen each other since high school graduation. We had a nice dinner and caught up a little bit on the last three decades. (Man, it really seems like a long time when you put it that way…)

Diana, Liz, and Vanessa

 

Liz, Maya, and Michael

 

Diana, Maya, and Vanessa

After dinner, said our goodbyes and headed back to Salt Lake City. We got little ladies ready for bed, took care of a couple of chores, I caught up on a couple episodes of The Flash, including one that I somehow missed about three weeks ago.

And that brings us to now.

Stray Toasters

Tomorrow comes soon, I should probably start considering hitting the rack.

Namaste.

Saturday Night Musings

Sunday, January 29th, 2017
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.

“Burn Down the Mission…”

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
"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

Excerpt: Life with Team DiVa

Friday, January 6th, 2017
Excerpt: Life with Team DiVa

Friday – 06 January 2017
Not that this really comes as a surprise to anyone, but I love my kids.

Taking over one of my coworker’s desk…

Last night, after nearly freezing to death in the arctic tundra snowblowing the driveway and sidewalks, I talked with Team DiVa about their day and school and if they had any homework. “Fine.” “Good.” “This friend…” “We read…” You get the idea.

As they were getting ready to do their reading – and it still kind of blows my mind at how well both of them are reading – Vanessa commented that she couldn’t find one of her homework sheets. Being kids and not always the most keen detectives, I asked her had she looked in a couple of places: her backpack, the living room, the dining room. She said that she had and still couldn’t find it.

::: face begins contorting into a mask of despair :::

I told her that I’d help her look, and I did. And, she was right: Nowhere to be found. For the sake of clarity on my part, I juxtaposed Vanessa’s homework sheets with Diana’s. Lo and behold, Vanessa was missing one. Well, damn.

* cue: “MY WORLD IS ENDING” crying jag *

I looked at the sheet in question and had a minor epiphany. I told Vanessa not to worry, we’d make sure that she had her homework. I took a couple pictures of Diana’s homework, then I headed downstairs. I fired up PhotoShop and imported the pictures, did some (rough and crude) edits to remove Diana’s answers, and printed the pages. Triumphant, I returned upstairs!

Vanessa looked at the sheets, looked up, and said – as only a kid could or would: “The sheets aren’t supposed to be purple!” (Because I didn’t worry about color-correcting the pictures, there was a bit of purple tint to one of the pages.) This, too, almost led to tears. Sara and I assured her that her teacher would still accept i – even if it was the “wrong” color – she just needed to do the work.

Begrudgingly, she accepted this answer and did her homework… but she still had doubts that we actually knew what we were talking about.

Kids. Go figure.

 

Life, in a Nutshell

Thursday, October 27th, 2016
Life, in a Nutshell

Wednesday – 26 October 2016
Today marked my successful completion of another orbit of the sun while, simultaneously, eluding the grasp of The Dark Lady. In accordance with International Robert Neal Days past, I took today off from work. I also took the rest of the week off… because.

The past week was full. I don’t mean that in the sense of “I had so many things going on,” although, that’s not untrue. I mean it in the sense that I got to spend much of the week in the company of some rather fantastic people. The week started with breakfast with my high school classmate, James, and his family…

Breakfast with the Leventhals

Breakfast with the Leventhals

…then there was stuff and things in the middle of the week (mostly work)…

…capped off with a co-birthday celebration on Saturday with Alex and some of our friends. And if I want to extrapolate a bit and add this past Sunday, there was dinner with the in-laws AND Sara’s grandmother.

It was a good week. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if there had been members of my side of the family involved. (There’s a tentative “something” in the works for Thanksgiving along those lines…)

Today was a quiet day; Sara and the girls let me sleep in. And I did. Then, I proceeded to spend a leisurely day full of… well… a lot of nothing. And it was perfect. Later, Sara and the girls came home and took me to dinner at the local Outback Steakhouse. We then came home for cake and presents. The ladies got me a humidor and a box of RubySnap cookies. Win-Win!  I wound up the evening (so far) with a cigar, some whiskey, and an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There may even be some videogaming to close out the day.

Hello, 46. I look forward to getting to know more about you.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Memory Dump

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
Memory Dump

Wednesday – 12 October 2016
Stuff and things and whatnot.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Wait. That’s not a proper post. I really should do one of those someday…

I guess that since I’m logged in, I should make like Nike and “just do it.” Now.

*cracks knuckles*
::: deep breath :::

The past few weeks have been good. Work’s been interesting. The company I work for has been (officially) purchased by a larger entity. So far, things are remaining status quo. I also got to spend about 36 hours on the east coast, thanks to a business trip. I was pleasantly surprised at how “green” things still were – I expected to see far more fall colors. Oh, well. That was only a slight disappointment, to be honest.

Team DiVa continues to astound and entertain me.

There was even a seven-year-anniversary in there, too.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Hell: The Musical

Monday, July 18th, 2016
Hell: The Musical

Monday – 18 July 2016
It’s the day after National Ice Cream Day and, for my sin of gluttony, I think I’m going to Hell.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.

Yes, yesterday was National Ice Cream Day.
Yes, I did eat ice cream.
Yes, I ate “quite a bit” of ice cream.
(And, yes, there’s still a lot of ice cream in our freezer.)

But, those are not the reasons I probably have an eTicket to Hell reserved in my name. Like so many others, my road to Hell was paved with good intentions. And it even started so innocuously. Need proof? Here it is:

Earlier, I received an email with a link to this article: Incredibly Epic Statue of Ancient Chinese Warrior God Unveiled. And they weren’t just whistling Dixie (or any other song, for that matter); this statue is rather epic. Bonus points for truth in advertising. Seriously, check out this statue:

Guan Yu - photo (c) CCTV News China

Guan Yu – photo (c) CCTV News China

So, I’m looking at this statue when, out of the blue, a thought pops into my head:

Battle of the Titans: Guan Yu vs. Big Butter Jesus!

 

It proceeded to go downhill from there. Rapidly.

For the unfamiliar, here’s some information about Big Butter Jesus and here’s a look at His Oleo Holiness:

Big Butter Jesus - photo (c) The Huffington Post

Big Butter Jesus – photo (c) The Huffington Post

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s, quite obviously, a statue of Jesus… and it’s not made of butter.” You’re right. It is and it isn’t, in that order. So, how did it wind up with the sobriquet “Big Butter Jesus?” Because of Heywood Banks and this song:

So, yes, thanks to a couple of giant statues, Heywood Banks, and the way my mind is wired, I’m going to Hell. Handbasket. Gasoline draws. At least I’ll have something to listen to on the way there:

Namaste.

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

Friday, July 15th, 2016
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

Thursday, July 7th, 2016
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.

And this is how we kill a language…

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
And this is how we kill a language...

Tuesday – 21 June 2016
Excerpted from a conversation:

[11:48 AM] Dave1: Dave2, interesting. You said earlier “guessing another breaker needs replaced”, and that use of “needs + past participle” is quite localized to western PA. http://microsyntax.sites.yale.edu/needs-washed

[11:49 AM] Rob: Dave1: It’s not that localized. I hear it here all the time.

[11:50 AM] Dave1: uhoh, it’s spreading.

[11:50 AM] Rob: It’s fostered my “Whatever happened to transitive verbs?” question

[11:50 AM] Steve: dear god. we must stop it.

[11:50 AM] Dave2: oh….more likely is my shitty typing…I would have vocalized “needs to be replaced” or “needs replacing”

[11:50 AM] Dave1: There might be an Oregon branch of it: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/needs-washed

[11:51 AM] Dave1: “You’ll see that although it’s concentrated in the areas I just mentioned, it’s certainly not limited to them. For example, I was surprised by the number of people in southern Oregon and southern Idaho who reported hearing “needs washed” kind of sentences.”

[11:51 AM] Rob: Yeah. That.

[11:51 AM] Dave1: (red means ‘not heard’)

[11:51 AM] Steve: looks like the Dakotas are the only safe place left.

[11:52 AM] Dave1: isn’t that because there’s nobody there? 🙂

[11:52 AM] Steve: probably.

[11:52 AM] Steve: oh. and Maine

[11:52 AM] Dave1: the lobstahs kill anyone who says ‘needs washed’ in Maine.

[11:53 AM] dga: DFWTL.

[11:58 AM] Rob:Old furry lobsters.

[11:58 AM] Steve: Fury Lobsters.

[11:59 AM] Rob:Nick Fury Lobsters!

[11:59 AM] Steve: Fast and the Nick Furious.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go write a fan-fic about one-eyed, secret agent lobsters in obscenely fast cars….

Lady Day

Friday, June 17th, 2016
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.