Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts

Monday, January 17, 2022

Watch Party Watch: The Brain From Planet Arous (1957)




Watched:  01/14/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Firstish
Director:  Nathan Hertz

I'll tell this story again here, so...

The year is about 1978 or 79.  For reasons I cannot remember, my mom has to keep me busy while she deals with something else in the house.  I am about 3 or 4.  My mom does something she never does:  she puts me in my folks' room and turns on the TV and says "look at that til I get back".  I am left alone with a black and white movie on the TV.

The movie is well underway, I don't understand what's happening and then this shit appears on screen:


I lose it.  Giant floating menacing brains with glowing eyes are not something I yet take for granted.  

Saturday, January 1, 2022

2021 - A Year That Was

So.  2021.  It's been, once again, a hell of a year.

I just saw word that Betty White had passed, and we're all, rightfully, a bit put out.  As I said elsewhere, don't be sad Betty White is over, be happy that she happened at all.

Still, it's... a bit on the nose, 2021, to take Betty White from us just a few days shy of what would have been her 100th Birthday.  She was owed that cake and party.  We all needed her to have that cake and party.

I've personally had worse years in many ways, but 2021 was not a banner year.  Some of you know that I was layed-off in the summer and took a bit before I got back to work.  But when I do my annual "let's do the movies by the numbers" and you're like "holy god, that's a lot of movies" - friends, I had a lot of time on my hands that I did not want.  

Whenever I'm sad in this post, I'll post Hannah Waddingham to cheer me up.  


See, feeling cheerier already.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Post-Christmas Check-In and Andre




Hi all!  

I hope your Christmas went well.  

We had a good few days of festivities.  Thursday was Santa With Muscles Day, which... really, should never be repeated.  

After much COVID testing, we were able to host Christmas Eve for my parents and cousin, Jamie's Dad and brother (The Dug) and his wife, K.  Unfortunately we were in a gray area with my brother's family until Christmas Day, so we missed them on Christmas Eve.  

Cocktails, too much food, some jolly music and cheer was had by all.  It's also my cousin's birthday, so it's always a one-two punch of festivities on Christmas Eve.  As always, after parents left, we checked in with The Pope, watched some Hallmark, watched some Christmas specials, etc... it was lovely.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas.


Merry Christmas, y'all. 

May your day be a good one.  May you spend time today talking to those you love, in person or in any of the myriad ways we now can reach out.  

I'll be spending time with family.  After the past few years, that's the best gift I can ask for.  

I'm so, so lucky.  I hope you are, too.

If you need a Christmas hello, don't be shy about asking.  That's what this day is for.  


Monday, November 29, 2021

Signal Watch Christmas Music Playlist




Hey! 

Here's just over an hour of carefully selected Christmas tunes for you to rock to all month long. Play 'em in order and have an egg nog or cider and know The Signal Watch is giving you a confident nod and a lifting of the glass to share in your holiday merriment.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

New Music from Chromaplastique - "Why We Punish"

Long time pal and now PodCast contributor, JuanD, goes under the nom-de-plume Chromaplastique when it comes to penning tunes.  He's a longtime musician, and he's spent his COVID time making a bunch of new tracks.  

Juan was technically contributing for years now as the guy who wrote our PodCast intro and outro.

I'm partial to Juan's stuff, and I hope you will be, too.  His latest is a dreamy bit of electronic work with vocals supplied by another longtime pal, Nicole.  

Without further ado:


Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween 2021

May the Queen of Halloween bid you an Excellent All Hallows Eve

Well, 2021 is in the books at our house.  And we had a good one.  

Halloween sort of starts for me now in July as I start working on podcasts and actual Halloween night is pretty chill.  But we did 5 episodes of Podcast, five Watch Parties and I watched a bucket ton of Halloween/ horror stuff this year.  


Elvira would want you to trick or treat

Monday, September 20, 2021

PODCAST: "Miller's Crossing" (1990) - A Signal Watch Canon Episode w/ JimD and Ryan




Watched:  09/09/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown (well over 30x)
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Coen Bros.



JimD looks in his heart and joins Ryan to discuss a shared canon film. It's the third from the Coen Bros. and one that is seemingly being forgotten by the current generation of film fans. Join us as we twist and turn, up is down, black is white. We're talkin' about friendship. We're talkin' about character. We're talkin' about - hell. listeners, I ain't embarrassed to use the word - we're talkin' about ethics.




Music:
Miller's Crossing Opening Titles -  by Carter Burwell
Miller's Crossing End Titles - by Carter Burwell






Signal Watch Canon:




Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Disney Store is No More - 3 Summers in the Sweater

this probably isn't my store, but it's incredibly similar


My first two jobs were working for cartoon mice.

The first job, when I was 16, was at Chuck E. Cheese.  You can read up on that life-altering event at an old post at the first blogsite.  

I don't think I ever got around to writing about the three summers I worked for Mickey at The Disney Store in Houston, Texas.  Well, it seems The Disney Store is no more.  But in the summers on 1993- 1995, and Christmas of 1993, I worked part-time at the satellite representation of the happiest place on Earth.  

It's been a very, very long time since this gig, and as I age, memories tend to grow fonder.  Mostly, these days, I think about how that goofy job where I wore a cardigan and long pants in Houston summer of 98 degree days with 95% humidity, and I wonder how I'm not dead.  But I also think of it as the place that taught me the most about how to put on a game face with co-workers and customers alike, and you get better/ best results out of both.  It's not just stuff I use to this day on the job, it's stuff people pay huge money for in real life Disney Customer Service academies.  No foolin'.  

Saturday, September 11, 2021

9-11 Twenty Years On




It's been a while since I posted even an image to mention 9/11 on this blog.  

I was 26 when the planes flew into the World Trade Center and Pentagon and a plane fell in Pennsylvania, headed for somewhere else.  I saw online today that they now believe that plane was supposed to target the US Capitol.  As devastating as it was to see the towers fall and the footage of a plane slamming into the Pentagon, I can't imagine where we'd be had that plane headed into DC airspace, let alone reached its target.

At the exact time of the crash, Jamie and I were in a hotel room in Las Vegas.  She'd been laid-off, and I was still just figuring out a new job, and we were married for a year and a half. 

You can't really explain to young people, without sounding naive, that in the years before 9/11, the people on the news weren't always insane, and that they used to do actual, fact-based reporting.  Or that we knew our political systems was divided and a little broken, but we could agree on some list of fundamentals someone had to carry with them when they went to Washington on our behalf.  

It's hard to say that didn't fall with the towers.  

A lot of other things happened, then, too.  It wasn't just the endless cycling of footage of burning buildings and plumes of debris and ash filling New York's avenues.  

Friday, September 10, 2021

A Favor to Ask - Can You Read a Thing?




Hi.

I kind of figure the folks who follow this blog know me a little.  I've been doing this since 2003.  I've published something like 7400 posts between Signal Watch and League of Melbotis.  In there, there's been no small amount of writing and revealing of self.  

Since before 2003, on and off, I've noodled on a prose novel.  I'm in the last 1/4 of this thing, and can see the end on sight.  Which is exciting.  I can think about a second draft, I guess.


The ask:  Can you read as much of it as you stand?  And then send me whatever thoughts you have?  

You don't need to filter them - you can tell me whatever you like, even if it's "I hate it.  I hate everything about it."  That's fine.  It's not like, should this thing hit the light of day, someone won't say that online within 24 hours.

But feedback on confusing plot elements (and I am sure there are many), characters, motivations, scene and setting.  Any of it.  It's all feedback I can use.  Don't worry about punctuation and type-o's too much.  I always think people think I'm looking for a free copy-editor.  No, you're safe there.  

I'm looking at what works and doesn't work as a story or book.  

Monday, April 26, 2021

PODCAST: "Blade Runner" (1982) - a Signal Watch Canon episode w/ Ryan and SimonUK


Watched:  04/19/2021
Format:  BluRay - version - The Final Cut
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ridley Scott


More PodCast than PodCast, that's our motto! Ryan and SimonUK sit down and check our emotional response to this 1980's favorite of design and theme! There's nothing artificial about how we chase down one of the best of the sci-fi genre that defined an aesthetic, crossed genres, and asked the big questions.


Music:  
Blade Runner Main Theme - Vangelis, Blade Runner OST
Tears in Rain - Vangelis, Blade Runner OST


Signal Watch Canon:

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Goodbye to Scout

 


Today, very, very suddenly, we lost Scout, our dog of about 11 years.

I am definitely still processing what happened, and I expect the waves of ugly crying will keep hitting me, but in some ways, right now, anyway, I'm taking enormous comfort in that she suffered so little.

Just last night, she was doing exactly her usual routine.  She hung around while we were working in the kitchen and whenever we looked her way, she came in for a hug and then was looking for treats.  The night before she was playing with me in the yard while I grilled dinner, doing her favorite thing - which is picking up a leaf and throwing it in the air so we would cheer for her.  

This morning, she suddenly seemed not to be doing well after 9:45 or 10:00, and Jamie asked me to come down from my office and see.  I've learned not to rush dogs to the vet for every cough or twitch, but after watching her for a bit, I joined Jamie in her concern - but believed the issue was pain related to her legs or hips.  We had dropped her off at the vet by 10:50, and couldn't go in due to COVID restrictions.  Shortly, they told us that Scout had several tumors on her spleen, and one had burst - leading to the pain and discomfort.  At about 1:40, we spoke with the vet.  She would require major surgery, which might not go well.  And she was suffering kidney failure.  

We've done the "heroic efforts" route before, but I now believe the best thing - and hardest thing to do emotionally - is to not let your pet spend their final days, weeks, months or years in bewilderment and discomfort.  Had a few details been different today, we would have approved the surgery, we would be worrying about Scout recuperating at home.  But the cascade of what was coming meant a life in which I knew Scout would need surgeries and other treatments, and we'd likely lose her at any point over the next months, during which she would be unhappy. 

I knew she'd gone for a long walk yesterday, seen friends (socially distanced) over the weekend that she hadn't seen in a year, had seen our families in recent weeks... and we'd had so many adventures this year (I slept downstairs with her during the freeze), we wanted her final days to be her good days.  Her last mealtimes included grilled chicken, hamburger, and whatever else were eating.  She was living a good dog life.  It was the life we wanted for her every day, not just when she was ill or we were worried about her.

It's hard to explain - because all dogs are motivated by love and food, but Scout's entire personality was built around love.  She just wanted to be nearby, and available for hugs and not to cause a fuss.  She hardly ever barked, and mostly regarded people with cautious curiosity, and eventually deciding "okay, we're friends".  She flatly did not understand negative reinforcement - and I kicked myself every time I would get snippy at her for doing something that she shouldn't, because now there were bruised feelings and much apologizing that had to occur before she felt safe and secure again.  

The thing she absolutely understood and gave was love and kindness.

Scout and me among the firewheels


Maybe ten or more times a day as I puttered around the house, she'd slide up to me and walk between my legs so I'd lean down and give her pets for a while.  Sure, we went on lots and lots of walks, and she knew the neighborhood well, and would tell you which path she wanted to go on.  

But she never figured out "fetch".  In fact, some wire got crossed when Jamie tried to teach her how to play with Lucy, who was a retriever and never needed a lesson.  Scout wasn't interested in chasing a ball so much as picking one up and tossing it around, or pointing out "yes, here is the ball, I have found it".   Eventually, one of us saying "ball" became the only time she would bark.  Happily and enthusiastically, because we cheered her for it.  And she forgot the word was ever tied to her toy.*

We adopted Scout in the year after we lost Melbotis.  Lucy needed a pal, I generally believe in a two-dog house, and so we went to the ASPCA and walked around for maybe ten minutes when I saw her sitting at the end of her kennel.  I squatted down, and she popped up and came over to say hi.  Cautious optimism in all things with this dog.  In a room full of dogs banging off their cage doors, she was extremely gentle and sweet, and I figured: this dog will be good for Jamie. 

But, really, she was good for me.  Mel was brilliant by dog standards, and Lucy was full of personality and demanded attention.  Scout just needed love.  And treats.  And to play.  She learned our routines and insisted upon them - up to and including 10:00 PM walks in the summer, once the sun was down.  Which kept me moving.  But it's hard to say all the ways in which living with something that doesn't understand anger or raised voices makes you better, yourself. 

When we lost Lucy about three years ago, we figured Scout would be lost without her.  Lucy was the big sister and Scout followed her around.  But we quickly found out Scout was okay - she just turned up the attention she'd always given us, and seemed pleased not to have to compete, kind of coming into her own.  And, not knowing how long we had with her, that was okay.

I'll miss her gentle, polite spirit and earnest expressions.  I'm going to miss her delight at seeing me, and running right into my shins whenever I opened the door as she sought pets.  And how happy she would be when she'd slide between the coffee table and the love seat to get pets from Jamie while I rubbed her ears and face from the sofa.  I'll miss her prancing in the yard when we'd go out to spend time with her, or playing tag with her.  And, of course, the long neighborhood walks when she'd insist on one direction or another.  And in the last year when her hearing started to go, burying my face in the fur at her shoulders and telling her she's a good dog, making sure she could hear.  

It's not easy.  It never is.  I can't tell you how much I'll miss her.  

*our first dog, Melbotis, however, thought "toy" meant anything he particularly liked, including Jamie, as it turned out when one day I said "go get a toy" and he wandered over to Jamie.








Friday, March 12, 2021

In a Time of Virus: One Year Later


29.3 million cases of COVID.   Now over 530,000 dead as of 11:37 PM on 03/11/2021.

Since I quit writing posts we had an election, and Trump was shown the door.  But then we had an attempt at a violent overthrow of the US Congress as they moved to certify the electoral college on January 6th of this year.  You can look it up - it was very bad.  In the wake of the election loss, the GOP has more or less dropped the final bits of illusion suggesting they give a shit about democracy or decency.  Meanwhile, the Democrats remain the same spineless twits they've always been.  

Vaccines started appearing at the beginning of the year, and as of this writing, Jamie has her first shot, my parents and my brother have both of theirs, as well as my father-in-law and cousin.  The way they've rolled it out is intended to first serve the most vulnerable as the disease tends to hit, so first take care of older people and people with medical conditions.  But even as I write this, the picture is changing on a daily basis.  The White House is working on its plan to get vaccines available, and it seems to be actually working.  Meanwhile, the governor of Texas decided he's done with COVID and we're opening everything back up.  So, look for our numbers to spike uncontrollably for a while.  

Monday, February 22, 2021

Winter Storm - February 2021 Part 5


Well, Texas being Texas, it's now a high of 70-something degrees.  Skies are blue, and this is the weather people from out of state get duped into thinking we have all the time when they visit during the spring-times.  

Today is the first day that hasn't felt like a total disaster.  Yesterday I was still just sort of wandering around the house trying to figure out what to do and checking to make sure I wasn't spotting leaks or holes in the house that weren't there before.  And, the inside of the house was and remains a bit of a mess.  We've had a hard time keeping tidy during COVID to begin with, but add in our inability to just cook and clean with running, clean water, and it's all a bit of a mess.  

Jamie's dialysis situation is pretty solid.  She had treatment on Friday, and then again on Sunday.  And, today, Monday, she's back on her regular schedule at her regular clinic.  So, despite an ugly week of uncertainty, she's doing well, if a bit knackered.  She did some chores for about two hours yesterday and then tapped out, for which I could not blame her.  

I can't thank the nurses, technicians, social workers and others from Jamie's clinic enough.  While it was clear this was an improvised effort, she had multiple people calling her, giving her information and driving in awful conditions (and with minimal experience) to make sure Jamie and tons of othersothers could get the care they needed.  That's not nothing.

Austin Water has worked around the clock to restore water - and then drinking water - to the city.  Austin Energy did what it could, kept people apprised and got power back when possible.  Police, ambulances and firefighters stayed on duty.  And I have to assume university staff stuck around to feed the kids on campus.  I know there were also people on the UT campus keeping data centers going, keeping the heat on best they could - and power (UT has its own power plant.  No fooling.  It's at about 24th street).  

In my own neighborhood, people offered food, water, and.. maybe most importantly information and tips.  They helped each other out in countless ways that will be forgotten, but I was able to keep an eye on my own home and understand where we were at as the storm carried on as those in the know shared information about what to expect, what to do and not to do, how to deal with water heaters, how to care for pipes, etc...

Friday, February 19, 2021

Winter Storm - February 2021 Part 4

yesterday afternoon, the snow lost its charm


Well, Jamie finally got to dialysis.  You can read her account of the past week here.

With the water main breakages, etc... it's been all sorts of operations that have had to do without, and dialysis centers have been hit pretty hard.  She went from last Friday til today (it is Friday) when - normally - she's in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday every week.  

They were unable to run her for the full duration, as there are only a few clinics open, and this morning she was sent to the wrong clinic (at 6:00 AM no less) and then traversed the city on a path I would not have recommended with freezing temps and roads, but she made it, safe and sound.  Of her usual 2.5 hour run she did get 2 hours, so she should be good for a bit.  

Still, these are the 1,000,000 stories of "this went a bit beyond 'we shivered a bit'" that are going to be flooding out of this event.  

My colleagues from work are trying to fix things for a bunch of ungrateful college applicants, and we're having trouble on the IT side as - hey, there's no water for cooling our data center (why we aren't in the cloud - do not get me started).  There's *massive* spikes for electric consumers who were on flexed rate plans (I saw a story about someone who will pay $3800 for this week's bill alone), and the water damage to property is going to be flat out insane.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Winter Storm - February 2021 Part 3

Scout ponders the inevitable slowing of all atomic motion

If you're on the outside of the freeze occurring in our Southern States - and, in particular, in Texas, it's very hard to explain the insanity of the past week.  And, I imagine, you have to do a lot of intentional empathizing to care.  Texans have a semi-earned reputation for being natively hateable, and anything bad that befalls them is schadenfreude.  

The truth is - we *are* in fact dealing with the results of bad policy, hubris and a lack of foresight.  All the stuff you'd expect from the blowhards and braggarts who've run the state for decades.

And it's costing lives.  The closest I can compare this to would be - a hurricane or similar event taking out Washington, Oregon and most of California, including LA, but leaving San Diego just fine.  

Texas is huge.  It takes 12 hours to cross from Texarkansas to El Paso and 13 hours from Texhoma to Brownsville.  That's 29 million people.  Houston is currently listed as the most diverse city in the country (don't believe it?  Go hang around the Univ. of Houston campus), and while it's easy to think of morons like Rick Perry as the face of Texas, it's not the reality on the ground.  Good people and many kinds of people live here.  

We're in an unprecendented weather event - it's not just been record cold in intensity, it's also record cold in duration.  I assume the precipitation is also record level.  I've never seen more than a dusting of snow in my decades in this town.  If we can't see the grass, we think it's a blizzard.

One common misconception I've seen is that we just need snow plows.  Well, what that this were so. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Winter Storm - February 2021 Part 2

the neighborhood pond is frozen over

Since I was in college, way, way back in the 1990's, I've heard nothing but how the power grid in Texas was outdated and needed overhauls, improvements and extensions.  Some of that has happened, but this being Texas, the loads has been focused on the load the state requires during the summer.   Texas summers can see weeks on end with temperatures in the 100's, and if you don't provide AC, we'd all likely die of heat stroke.  There's a reason Texas was sparsely inhabited by ingidgenous people and Mexican settlers when Anglos set their sites on Texas in the early 1800's.  

Anyhoo...  what we haven't worried about a whole lot has been extreme winter weather.  Most of the time, we get into March and say "man, it never really got all that cold this winter."  I mean, we've had cold winters, and icy spells that kept us off the roads, but it was never a question of "hey, why is almost half the state without power?  And why is it different street by street?"

Because, yeah, two streets over in my same subdivision, people had power this whole time.  Go figure.  And I have no idea why we currently have power and others do not.  

Anyway - hearing that Texas has an outdated grid isn't new.  Now add in Texas' booming population and energy needs.  We've added millions of people every decade for some time.  I believe the last two decades saw about 4 million new Texans for a total of, like, 8 million new people.  And not a whole lot of new sources of power.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Winter Storm - February 2021 Part 1

Scout figures out snow

We're in the middle of a rough winter storm.  Polar vortex nonsense.

Click here for pictures

Honestly, it's been kind of rough.  We lost power Monday at 2:00 AM, it came back on around 11:30 AM Tuesday - so 30-odd hours without heat while the temperatures never got above 25 and dropped to 7 over night.  The house has done a better-than-expected job of retaining heat, but entropy is a sonuvabitch.  

Mostly yesterday I ate dry and snack foods.  I used the Moka Pot sent to me by Steven H for making coffee.  We cooked up some chicken sausage for dinner and got in bed at 7:00 under 5 blankets, wearing 4 layers each.  We finally decided to go to sleep at 10:00.  

Our plan was to lock oursleves in the bedroom with Scout, but she became very scared in the dark so we let her sleep downstairs.  I don't think she did sleep, because she's been sleeping today.  

The power came back on at 11:30, so I immediately lit our gas fireplace, which wouldn't light before without electricity (lesson learned on that one - light that one if there's a threat of loss of power).  One of our pipes had frozen, so I went to work with a hair dryer, and I think I fixed it.  

Anyway - we're all right.  But with two more storms coming, the roads are bad now and set to get worse.  The biggest problem is Jamie's dialysis, but I have high hopes we'll get her there and get it sorted.