September 6, 2011

Old dogs and older chidren... lunch today.

I sat in the company truck today, in the park, on the edge of the ballfield and watched a young man, maybe twenty.
He was throwing a disc, up into the wind and back, and sometimes the old black dog would get it and sometimes the man would walk to where it lay, pick it up, walk back to his starting place and toss it again.
The old black dog was a Labrador of some kind, female, just a hint of what might have once been dinner for a passel of pups swaying below her as she walked. Not quite very very old yet, but not far from it.
Sometimes she's just walk off, called by some unseen smell, some random memory, some need to wander that none of us will ever know, but always she came back to the man.
This happened often enough that I wondered for just a moment if the two of them were together at all or just some chance meeting at the edge of the ballfield.
Even fifty yards away, however I could see the love and concern in the man's body language, the never quite letting her get out of sight, the hoping that just one more time she'd get the Frisbee. Sometimes she did, but she didn't run after it.

The man as I said was in his very early twenties, perhaps actually twenty, that time when the world both comes to a sudden stop in one way and rushes away uncontrollably in others. He must have had this dog since he was a small child, the bond was simply too seasoned for anything else.
A weekday outing to the park to throw and retrieve seemed to have suddenly become precious and there was sadness upon him as well.
We, all of us, lose as we grow older. Loved ones, Pets, Homes, innocences too many to number but for a man who may have begun the journey of many disparate responsibilities only recently, this man was showing the weight.
While I was looking away the young man got in his old carry-all truck and was going to leave the park at the edge of the ballfield.
He had trouble starting the truck, got out and lifted the hood. A quick slap and wiggle and he was back in the truck. A roar as the engine caught, and he began to roll.
I hadn't seen the dog loaded and it didn't seem to be in the passenger side of the cab, so once again I wondered if I had been wrong about the relationship. I am often wrong about relationships.
As he got closer I saw the old dog standing between the seats, just behind the man, in a way that a dog person knows is out of training and love far more than plopped down on a bucket seat ever would be.
I had stopped staring out of politeness when he had become aware of me watching sometime earlier. I had taken to looking to see what was going on then out to the middle distance we all watch so much in open green areas.
As he passed me, in a way that said to me that he knew that I had seen and understood too all that had happened, he lifted his hand from the wheel. Also as he passed he gifted me with a much older mans gesture, nodded thank you as well. I think he knew that I would not have left that old dog there if he did.
Some hours later, my shift done, the long ride home complete I pulled into my yard and looked for my aging dog. She has stopped coming out of the shop at the sound of my truck since her arthritis has gotten worse. But when I lifted the latch on the fence gate into her quarter acre of the yard she appeared at the door of my workshop and wiggling like a somewhat stiff puppy came to greet me.
I thought of many treasures, most gone, some to go yet, but most of all the furred heart in front of me.

May 4, 2010

Almost 20 years of my life.

I worked, ran, built and fixed small to medium sized printing businesses.

I managed, worked, rebuilt, on one or two occasions got fired from, got hired back to, and worked my youth away on various types of equipment.

Stopping now and then to deal with the office twit who always seemed to be assigned the job of managing thousands, some times hundreds of thousands of dollars of graphics and printing.

I learned about computers because there was no one to ask, I learned about bars for a quick fix for people.
I learned that no matter how hard I worked or how smart I was I was riding a dying horse and one day a woman came to pick up her laboriously, damned difficult to produce business cards which we were all quite proud of and said, "oh…. Gee,…. It doesn't look like it did on the monitor".

A week later I was doing tech support a hundred miles away, glad to drive that far, making forty percent more money to start, and triple in a year what twenty years of my life had bought.

Not too long after that I heard James Taylor do this song.

Printing usually wasn't boring, but it had a sameness after awhile though we worked to one-hundred-twenty-fifth of an inch and I could see that with my naked eye.

As I told people for years to come, "the first twelve or fifteen years were sort of interesting".


January 24, 2010

From April 2008

Time, labor, and materials.

A few weekends ago the 'boss' and I shot a wedding in Alabama.
Usually it's someplace on or near the Gulf, up around Santa Rosa beach, but this time it was a goodly drive up US 231, the east, some little podunk town that looked to be mostly horse money.

Lisa drove her SUV and I went in the 'redneck sportscar' my little made in Tennessee Nissan truck. We rendezvoused about the same time at the GPS loc that we'd agreed on and went out of this little town to "The Farm", she'd been kidding about HEARING the capitals in that for a week.

It was  nice ceremony, but over done for my taste but that is just me. I prepped and handed the cameras, popped batteries on the forty count, held slaved strobes and fill cards…  All the things a decent assistant does for a commercial shooter.

Ceremony, Set, Establishing, and Family(s) shots [[[gawd I hate shooting weddings!]]], done she told me "you can stay and eat or boogey" I chose to boogey.

Headed for Tallahassee as a side trip, not too far even though away from the target which was home. There is a decent Chinese buffet with good California Roll type sushi there that is close to the Barnes & Noble and Borders AND the Harbor Freight store, the three nexus's of my interest in Tally.

I hadn't eaten all day and it was early enough to miss the evening crowd so I went to the buffet first.

Mike and Penni and I hit this one in December when we got together a week or so after Mom passed away, and it was OK, but just OK..
When I went there in mid-May it was much better and I was enjoying a quiet leisurely meal when reality shifted.

It was like being high… for those of you who missed (or refuse to remember), the 60's or 70's,  I could describe the experience  like having been an outpatient somewhere, and finding that as the drugs wore OFF things looked odd and HEY there is a incision here in me!

It was one of those times in life when things seemed to get a little too sharp edged, and sound took on a different character than usual.

I blame the sushi and the company…

Dead ahead of me about three tables down with no other seat taken, there was a couple; she a hefty, gawky college girl; he a slim and well dressed guy, maybe a grad student, a little older than the girl.

To my right there was a table with three large, well dressed Black ladies who had purses you could hide a fully loaded Uzi submachine gun in each. I have NO idea why that image popped into mind, but like I said it was an odd early evening.

The college couple were doing some negotiating.

"So.. Based on a scale of say, one to eight," (why the hell EIGHT, I thought), "where would you say we are, relationship-wise?" she asked the possible grad student..


The Black ladies to the right were discussing what I finally figured out was the missing member of their usual group.
A lady who was off on this Saturday planning a wedding… and not her first.

--and the possible Grad student replies:

"One to eight???" [shrug], "I'm not even sure HOW to answer that one!"

--and the handbag ladies:

"She been married enough!" "DAMN! It were me and I was gonna get married again I'd just slip outa town to Vegas or Biloxi or somewhere!"

--the gawky BIG chick says

"Well, never mind the numbers, just think of 'US' in logical terms and tell me what is going on!".

-the oldest of the handbag ladies replies:

"somebody need to TALK to that girl!"
Handbag lady with the strawberry hair answers her:
"SHE-IT, you KNOW what she's like… it'd be a fistfight of words before you got one sentence out!".

--now the possible Grad student is starting to squirm:

"can't we just eat our dinner and go to the play?" I really don't feel up to all this right now!"

--and the handbag ladies:

Oh YEAH! She got SOME mouth on her! 'member when we came in here and she didn't like the food!?! I coulda crawled under the table.

At this point, gentle readers, I had had enough.
I got up, paid my tab, headed for the truck and went to the Borders bookstore where life stays safely between the pages.

December 28, 2009

Dirty little secret of 'government' health care.

It is pretty simple really.
Outside of capital investment such as a CT Scanner or a huge lab, the item which in almost all cases the LARGEST cost of ANY business is always wages/labor.

America has offshored almost all of its manufacturing capability since the end of World War Two.
Manufacturing was the holy grail of working class wages, driven by  "organized" labor and rising standards of living brought on by these decent (if mundane and boring), jobs. Factory labor was often the PRIMARY source of tax revenue, and municipal income.

Then the sharp pencil kids figured out that Japanese, Koreans, Indonesians and others would do the same job for three or four CENTS on the dollar that American labor was charging. A 'new day' in profiteering was begun.

As people began to complain about losing family incomes... another voice was heard from.

Enter stage left those that while reaping the benefits of the increase of dividends on the bottom line made public pronouncements of how WE somehow 'owed' it to these people to raise THEIR standard of living. These same people that were crying in other countries milk neglected to mention that vast numbers of Americans would lose the only decent paying job that their families had EVER had.

Time passes. People adjust. Some retire or are RETIRED forcibly. Some die from Lung Cancer, Silicosis, other things brought on either by the job or by the lifestyle made possible by these jobs and simple human cussedness.

A new generation arrives. Jobs are FOUND for them, specially those with the wherewithal or gumption to morph thru the government training systems and come out degree or certificate in hand.

The new holy grail of American labor? Wait for it..... HEALTHCARE.

NOW in order for the stage left folks to consolodate POWER wich is the ONLY goal of politics a huge RUSHED push is made to get 'universal healthcare' IMPOSED, even though a quick read of all the plans SHOWS that it won't be "universal".

So... back to point 'a'... the LARGEST cost of ANY business, and make NO MISTAKE about it 'heath care' IS a BUSINESS is always wages/labor.

All those kids that went into the medical arena are about to be factory workers, EXCEPT instead of the jobs going AWAY they will be DRAFTED at some lower form of compensation, whether it is simply fewer of the 'gravy' billings that everyone has gotten used to OR some form of government IMPOSED fee structure.

The fat cats will never lose a dime but the nurses, the radiologists, the clerks and the maintenance people will see a drop in the standard of living BEYOND that their parents did.

And this time???? where will THEIR kids go for work.

December 18, 2009

My first experience with the shortfalls of academia.

My first experience with the shortfalls of academia.

It was May 5, 1961 and I was in elementary school.
Alan Sheppard sat atop a Redstone Rocket in what was then Cape Canaveral, Florida. I was in Port Orange a scant 35-40 miles down the Intracoastal Waterway, a block or two from the water.

In years to come I stood on my dock and watched the Double , then Triple manned test ships lift from the Cape, often able to hear and feel the roar. I saw every Moon shot from that dock and listened to Uncle Walter telling us about the brave new future.

Back to that morning in 1961, the powers that be had  jammed about 160 of us into the auditorium to look at a grainy, black and white picture on what had to have been a nineteen inch teevee.

When the view was far better in the real world outside.

Things have not improved much in academia.

December 10, 2009

Ghosts of eBay.

In about 1963-4 we went back to Colorado to get Grandads, (Dad's Dad), old Dodge. We took it home to Florida when he moved in with my Uncle in N. Carolina.
Moms Mother had a 1961 Chrysler too with the big fins on the back. she drove along with us.
About two months ago I got this postcard off of eBay for a couple of bucks of the little motel right up near the house.
The more I looked at it the more it nagged me till I blew it up.
The FIRST NIGHT we were home, for reasons I no longer remember, after going back to get the car, we stayed at that hotel...
This was shot early in the morning!
what are the ODDS?!?!?!

December 1, 2009

When morning comes.

November 26, 2009
Today begins the second year without a family of any kind.
Oh Mom actually died the thirtieth, just her and I here alone.
In spite of all of the Hospice, and the former long-time hospice nurse, Renda that used us to ego-up,... assurances that it wouldn't happen that way.

But it is today, by my choice, that I choose to begin the second year.
It was Thanksgiving afternoon that I decided to put that hospice bird in,
For something to keep busy with as much as anything,
and almost the last time Mom spoke to me.

She came back from where she was going... to visit here,
looked up at me from the hospital bed in the living room and said, "what's going on?"
I had already had to explain to her three times that she was dying,
And I just didn't have it in me to do again so I said "I'm cooking a Turkey".

"What the hell for?" was her reply.
"It was thawed out and not enough room in the freezer for it"
Was my answer, and she was gone again.
I finished cooking that day, stayed awake for two more,... deathwatch alone.

The last thing she said to me hours before she died was,
"I'm so worried about leaving you here alone",  she'd been assured I wouldn't be…
When she was bright-eyed, sitting at her craft bench working and asked directly.
By someone who made now admits proudly she made no effort at all to do so.

Mom kept the blood pumping, the breath going till
It was no longer my birthday, did not leave me with that,
as well as the assertion that according to Renda I wasn't worth any effort in ANY way, from someone so selfish as to come into our lives, then denigrate them and leave BOTH of us hanging knowing full well what they were from the start, simply to feel good about her own.

Friends tell me not to dwell on this, and most times I do not,
But as I told the woman who spent ten years with me recently, NO ONE is more amazed that I survived all this relatively intact than am I, and no one could have anticipated such interweaving.

I did my job, I completed my mission, I did not shirk.
Mom was terrified for me at the end and even though it added to my burden I  lied and told her "It's OK, I've met somebody…"
Once again, two years on, when morning comes I will be alone.

Now... if I bring this up I am scorned by the perpetrator as interfering
with her LATEST happiness and threatened with legal action for telling the truth.
Shunned by that sorority of women that caused John Updike to state
“How do you write women so well? I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability.”

There have been others here since, for I'm not shy, or terribly ugly,
But the thought that someone would do that to another in that kind of stress simply to make themselves feel good about themselves, released by $3500 in job bonuses...
That would give a stone pause, in pursuit of companionship.

Night after night the dog and I watch Law & Order on teevee,
Monster after monster paraded to 'justice',... almost universally male.
Because advertisers know that women hold the purse strings
For the soap and sneaker culture that teevee runs on.

But often now I wonder, having run off all applicants
Who makes the monsters?
Who breaks the men?
And perhaps John Updike was understating the situation.