Thursday, July 14, 2016

Entry 4077 The Milestone of Three Decades

A personal milestone is on the horizon...every day brings it closer to reality.

I've known of its approach for some time; and when it arrives, I suspect nothing will--for all attempts and purposes--be any different. Well, not in a physical, palpable sense.

It was on June 22, 1987 that I departed Western PA--the only home I had ever known--for the Great Southwest and my adopted new home of Tucson, AZ.

I arrived there on June 26, around 3 pm. This was the start of the second portion of my life, I suppose you could call it, although at the time I didn't necessarily feel that way.

However, as it has turned out, that was exactly what it was.

So the milestone that will occur in 2017--next year--presumably on June 26, will mean that I will have been relocated in Arizona for as long as I had been my entire life in Pennsylvania.

This might not mean much on the surface to many or even most people. But it gives me cause to reflect.

It will have been 30 years since I arrived here...and, I left PA when I was 30 years old.

As you can probably imagine, I have two sets of memories. One, from the first 30 years...and, one set since June 26, 1987. The two don't overlap, because even when I would return to PA to visit it was with a different mindset--it was always a place that I USED to live.

Because of the person that I am, given to reflect and re-reflect on the passage of these last 29 years...I will revisit memories, thoughts, ideas; and likely more tangible things like places, music, photographs, and so on.

I have not written much on James Anonymous these last few years. Most of my prior entries had to do with the struggle to find romance and/or some sort of contentment. Well, as I have said before, that thankfully has taken care of itself. And, in 2012 I started a more "current events" weblog called Brood Coffee Talk that I had devoted much time to. In fact, I posted something there every day for about three quarters of a year. There were posts on current news events, some on sports, my favorite music videos...and tech. There were lots and lots of posts on the then-upcoming Windows 8 release, the latest on the Android OS, and the like.

Around that time I was also ghost-writing for a tech blog and getting paid very little for it...and, someone close to me suffered a life-changing injury...and, I finally found something similar to what I used to do for work.

The end result of this is that I suddenly had a lot less free time; and going right along with that, also got kind of burned out over the whole thing. While I wrote a couple of things there in the past few years, for the most part I had largely put that aside. (I did recently add a new entry, but it's based on previous ones.)

'James Anonymous', on the other hand, has been redesigned. As I mention in the "Introduction" sidebar, Xanga has pretty much gone under. I was able to download my JA content in 2014...about a month ago I brought it here to Blogger (Brood Coffee Talk is on Wordpress). It's been restored with all its entries intact.

Of course, this all intersects with my opening premise. In the course of the next few months I'll be relating stories and recollections here of the last 30 years, if for no other reason than to preserve them.

There are memories that, despite the passage of time, are still rich and detailed. Saturday nights spent sitting having drinks with friends at the (Fabulous) Foothills pool in Tucson...early dawns spent driving in the winters of Northern Arizona...investigating new towns and locales.

I'm looking forward to sharing it all with you.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Entry 4061 More on "Exile on Main Street" (Entry 4057)

Here's a sort of validation for anyone who really needs it..."Rolling Stone" magazine just published a "Special Collector's Issue", "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time." The Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street" ranks 7th in this poll.

(The albums ahead of it: 1--Sgt Pepper's; 2--Pet Sounds; 3--Revolver; 4--Highway 61 Revisited; 5--Rubber Soul; 6--What's Going On.)

(I'm a big fan of the Fab Four...still, while I certainly agree that "Pet Sounds" should be at least in the Top 5, and so should "What's Going On," I'm not certain that I'd put 3 Beatles records before "Exile.")

Anyway--open that book and right there on Page 3, the Introduction, by Elton John--he says it. "'Exile on Main Street' is the finest rock and roll album ever made."

Say what you want about Sir Elton, but there's no denying the man knows music. I'm not particularly a Stones fan, but it's been what some of us have been saying all along.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Entry 4075 Mr Scooterpants!

I mentioned--in Entry 3911 A Prior Love of Travel--that one of the reasons I did not want to be away from home any more was the new kitten we had found, on April 14, 2010, just two weeks old (and let me say that she has grown up to be quite the pretty young lady!) Sadly however, last April--within a two week span--we had to put down the two cats I had had for what was then 14 years, Lowell and Goldwater. There are pictures of them mixed in with other photos from my home in Latrobe, PA...and later on in Tucson, AZ here.

This left Miercoles with no play partners...she seemed okay with that, for a while. I soon noticed that she depended more on us for playtime, which was okay except we weren't here much during the day. So, In September of last year, we adopted a partner for her...we went to the Arizona Animal Welfare League and picked out Cashew (as he was known then), an adorable two month old male kitten whose markings were so similar, you would think he was either her brother or that she gave birth to him.

The poor little guy had a very rough start...while at first he was fine, after a day or so we noticed he was having real trouble chewing his food...and he made small whimpering noises while he slept. He had lost almost all of his energy...though we had kept the two of them separated for the first few days, they were soon playing energetically with each other. That is, until he got sick...then she kind of turned on him when he didn't feel like playing back. It turned out that he had Calicivirus, and from what we read on the Internet, he likely had it when we got him at the AAWL.

I was furious...while it cost us almost $800 (not including his adoption cost), I was more concerned that the poor kitty was suffering greatly...he had an ulcer on his tongue that must have been very painful, making it very hard for him to eat. Additionally, his system was weakened enough that he also developed a bad respiratory infection, which also attacked Miercoles, resulting in another large vet bill to treat her.

How could he have been allowed to come home with us, with this condition?

Supposedly all animals are examined before they are released...certainly there had to have been some indications that he wasn't well! I expressed my concern by a telephone call to the AAWL...which was not returned. I sent several emails, finally receiving a response that, essentially, the AAWL was not and could not be held responsible for Cashew's condition, that Calicivirus was common in shelter animals, and there was no indication that he had it when we got him. There were many stories on the Internet about entire shelters that became infected with Calicivirus, and all the animals had to be put down. This can be serious business.

I was furious...all I wanted was a simple apology: "Yes, we're very sorry that this has happened. Perhaps we need to be more careful in our screening and release procedures. Please accept our apologies." What if a little boy or girl had been given a pet like him as a gift? Imagine their disappoinment! Imagine the family who has no patience and simply returns him, which is bound to be more traumatic to him.

Eventually, after several emails in which I threatened to not only withdraw our financial support but also refuse to give them a good reference (we had already made several good-sized donations in the past few years), I got an apology...well, sort of. It was worded close to the way I had wished for...and it only took three emails back and forth to receive it!

My official position regarding this matter is as follows: in 1998 my then-girlfriend and I visited the AAWL and adopted Lowell and Maynard, a several-month-old kitten that she took with her a year or so later when we broke up. I have never had any complaints about any part of that adoption experience, and indeed went back with my fiancee last September to choose Miercoles' new companion.

Will we still support them with donations? Yes--the service they provide as a no-kill shelter is invaluable. Will we recommend them to others looking for a new pet? Yes...providing that you INSIST that the animal be THOROUGHLY examined (or, as thorough as the AAWL is in their examination). Ask many questions! Maybe, take a look at the prospective pet yourself, learn the signs and indications of possible illnesses, and choose accordingly.

Recently Cashew has gotten a new name, which was pretty hard to finally come up with. I believe that while you can name a pet whatever you want, it's their traits and characteristics that really should determine its name...and the one that finally evolved for him is R J Scooterpants.

The "R J" comes from Robert John, who scored a hit record in the 70s with "Sad Eyes". Our little guy has eyes that are never completely wide open--his eyelids droop down a bit at the top, making him appear sad. It also can stand for Running and Jumping, which he does a lot, and the reason why he got the name Scooter. (He also got it after the sick rabbit in an old Minute Maid TV commercial). The "-pants" part is because when he runs, his gait is such that he looks like he's wearing a pair of pants that are too big for him (if that were even possible!).


There are pictures of Miercoles here...as well as those of Mr Scooterpants.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Entry 4057 Rock and Roll Like It Was (And Is)

I just finished listening to "Exile on Main Street", the total number of times which must be in the high hundreds--which doesn't sound like a lot but really is, unless it's the total number of times you've told someone who's very special to you that you love them. You can't do that nearly often enough.

This is--in my humble opinion--the finest rock and roll album ever made...and yes, believe me, I know that takes in a lot of ground (but there are some close seconds). It's got blues, soul, gospel, a bit of country--the mix of which is what started rock and roll in the first place. Not completely polished at times (or at least, that's how Jagger and Richards wanted it to sound), the urgency of the music and sheer GET OUT is one of the things that really makes this recording stand out.

The other thing can be summed up with six words: Venetta Fields, Clydie King and Sherlie Matthews. The superb blending of their voices' rich soulful and gospel tones really helps push this album to the top. The three can also be found on other recordings, such as Steely Dan's "Can't Buy A Thrill" and Graham Nash's "Songs For Beginners".

They started a singing group called The Blackberries in 1973 and recorded an unreleased album. Since then they have mostly appeared separately on many and varied recordings. For example: on a recent VH-1 retrospective on Pink Floyd, Ms. Fields talked about being a part of the first "Dark Side of the Moon" tour in 1973 and her contributions to the 1975 record "Wish You Were Here".

These three women--collectively and individually--have done much to shape the music we know and love.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherlie_Matthews

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Entry 3911 A Prior Love of Travel

I've said on here before about how I've traveled...how it's been a huge part of my life for 20 years now. The excitement of every day being different...starting the day in one small town and often ending it in another.

A life in hotel rooms, and dinners in--and from--restaurants. While others might find it tedious or lonely, for me it was just the thing.

It's easy to have such a life when you're alone, with no family or relationship or children at home. I once worked for a boss who kept wanting me to work just in my local area...I told him that he should take advantage of my situation while I was still by myself and could travel, because once that ended so would my traveling.

And, eventually, that is what happened.

A few entries ago I wrote about the great relationship I rediscovered...unlike previous ones in which I was often gone, traveling for my work, I would not want to be away for four days at a time like I always used to be.

And, there's another thing: this adorable kitten that was found last April in the parking/carport area where we live. She was just two weeks old, eyes barely even open.

I'll write more on this later on, in more detail, and with pictures as well. For now, let's just say I have fallen completely in love with this wondrous, precious and adorable little kitty.

Beyond just missing her--if something happened to her while I was gone, I could never forgive myself for not being there. It's very different--for me, anyway. It's almost like she's our little girl, but in a kitten's body.

It's like we now have the child we always wanted--when before we didn't get that chance, and thought it was gone forever.


--Sent from my Newton MessagePad 2100

Monday, January 31, 2011

Entry 3908 Welcome to the Modern Era!

The day I've been waiting for since June 11, 2007 has arrived...I am now the proud owner of an iPhone...an iPhone 4 16GB with AT&T as a carrier, to be exact.

I chose AT&T (amongst many other reasons) at least partly because I heard a few kind of unsettling reports about some unannounced changes planned by Verizon, seemingly timed to coincide with the official iPhone launch on February 3, 2011. Things like, well, this, from ARSTechnica, January 14, 2011:

"It's official: Verizon is ditching its "New Every Two" program and changing its early upgrade policy. Rumors began spreading earlier this week that Verizon had told sales reps to stop pushing the services, and Verizon has now confirmed with SmartMoney that this is indeed the case, and it will affect both new and old customers."

I worked for Verizon Wireless--first in Customer Care and then Technical Support. You know what they say about working at a restaurant--many times, with the things you see, you wouldn't want to eat there.

Another reason I chose AT&T was that Verizon’s CDMA network doesn’t allow simultaneous voice calls and data transfer (AT&T’s GSM network does)--from ARSTechnica, January 10:

“This is obviously a personal usage scenario, and many people who already use Verizon seem to have no problem with this limitation. There are some ways in which this roadblock can get annoying, though. For one, Verizon execs confirmed that the iPhone won't be able to get push notifications while you're on a call, so even if you're not surfing the Web, nothing that uses data will be able to notify you of anything until you hang up.“Secondly, the voice calls will interrupt anything you're doing over the data connection. So, if you happen to be downloading an app or using Verizon's personal hotspot feature to share the 3G connection over WiFi, receiving a phone call will mean that you'll have to choose between interrupting everyone's WiFi connections or simply ignoring the call.”

I got my iPhone on Thursday, January 20, 2011...since then, I've been busy with daily life occurrences, work, that kind of stuff. Plus, I wanted to spend a week with it and get a better feel for what it's like to...well, to have an iPhone.

How is it? Well, it's pretty much great. There's nothing bad about the experience (at least so far), except unlearning how to do things the BlackBerry way, and learning to do them more intuitively with the iPhone. It loads web pages much faster, makes it much easier to read email, and is just all-around more of a pleasure to use. No longer do I have to put up with the awful trackball experience like my BlackBerry 8500 Curve had--there aren't many things more frustrating than a broken mouse/trackpad on your computer...or when you try and move the Curve's trackball and...nothing happens. Without that trackball--like without a mouse or trackpad on your laptop--you're dead in the water.

Prior to the Curve, for several years I'd had a touchscreen Windows Mobile phone ...so when I got the BlackBerry in August 2008 I wondered how I would adjust to using a pointing device instead of just touching the screen. I reasoned that my laptops weren't touchscreen, and I've their trackpads for years, so what's the difference?

As I found out with that frequently broken trackball, a lot. I tried the fixes on the web...soon I grew tired of those repair attempts and would just drag an alcohol-soaked Q-tip over the trackball in the direction that it failed to work...eventually it would start up again. But of course, I don't carry alcohol-soaked Q-tips around with me, so there would be times I'd be somewhere and it would fail to work. That would mean, no email...no way to return a call...no way to access most of the phone's features. You see the problem.

Due to service contracts over the last few years with my wireless provider (Sprint), I've been unable to purchase an iPhone...either a new model had just been introduced (and I'm a believer of the philosophy "don't buy version 1.0!"), or I was in the middle of a contract. So I waited (often not very patiently) for the right time to come.

Of course, there was always the hope that Sprint would pick up the iPhone...after all, the Verizon rumors had been in existence from the day the first iPhone was announced, and there has always been a feeling that once the exclusivity agreement with AT&T ended, all sorts of additional carriers might get involved. (We've since learned that Apple anticipates shortages of the Verizon iPhone--on top on its existing struggles to keep up with its current AT&T demand--so there will likely not be any new carriers announced at least until they're able to get ahead of that supply curve.)

I'd like to take this moment to dispel the rumor that I only wanted an iPhone because it was from Apple. I wanted it because it's a well-functioning machine, brilliantly thought out and engineered. It does what it's supposed to do--you decide whatever that function is--and then does it better and more intuitively. Hmmpf--well, that sounds like most Apple products for the past 30-some years.

Was it like I expected it would be? Well, since my only prior experience was a few minutes with showroom models at the Apple Store...I suppose that answer is: yes. I know for example that something as simple as the iPhone's really genius voicemail setup has been one of the many joys of this experience. One thing I haven't had is any of the infamous AT&T "spotty service coverage" problems...no dropped calls, no poor signal...at least, not as yet. Looking at the AT&T Coverage Map, I can see there's likely some areas that will be problems here...I just haven't gone there yet, apparently. Possibly, even...I won't.

Except for the daily use of text messaging, email and phone calls, I haven't played around with the iPhone all that much. Finally the other evening I was able to take the time and find, evaluate and download/install a few apps from the Apple Store. I'm not a person who plays a lot of video games, but I've been told that there's at least a few game apps that I'll *have* to try on here...I won't be able to put the phone down, I've been told.


As someone who fourteen years ago spent nearly all his leisure waking hours playing "SimCity 2000" on the first Sony PlayStation for months.

I fear that addiction.

Entry 3901 A New Way to Share Experiences

It's been some time since anything's been added here...yes, all is well, and (no rhyme scheme intended) there's much to tell. For example: A company I had been with for more than 6 years has gone under and called it quits. Life's still great--well, mostly (you know me, I'll find something) ;). My current relationship is still going strong (more on that later). And, I have a new way to post entries here.

That last one--it's through email...while that's always been an option, it's usually been my way to sit down and just crank them out from the Mac laptop...you know, smoking cigars, drinking 7&7s, that whole thing. Well, I also have a Newton MessagePad NT2100 that I can use to email entries. I've had it for some time...just learned about the emailing entries part.

"Okay, so what's a "Newton MessagePad NT2100", you ask? Well...it's by Apple Computer, circa 1997...arguably the best thing about it is the amazing handwriting recognition (HWR for short). It's the ORIGINAL "PDA" (the then-CEO of Apple coined that term when it was introduced)...it's kind of big, as handheld devices go.

It's the grandfather of the iPad...yes, that's how important it is. The lessons Apple learned from the Newton, it applied many of them to the iPad.

What this means is I can write something down and send it by email here to Xanga, from the Newton...and it'll be posted. That's, "write it down"--literally yes, with my own handwriting--which it converts to text.

Much more can be found on the Newton here, at another website I have just for it: http://www.newtonphoenix.org .


There will be more to follow...a variety of different things, in the near future. Stay close.