Holiday travels

I’ve never been much for holiday travels. I rarely came home for the holidays when I lived in California, preferring to visit in January when things were calmer. That said, I’ve really come to love my annual post-Christmas trek to Virginia Beach over the past six visits.

I started this “new tradition” in 2012. The university is closed that week, so I always have the time off. That year, i decided that Virginia beach would be a good option. I’d been threatening to do a week there in the winter ever since a mildly drama-laden trip to the area with the ex a few years earlier. I figured I could get a nice room pretty inexpensively and just hang out reading, relaxing, and looking at the ocean. I like the beach in winter–and really hate it during the summer. My regular vacations tend to be anything but relaxing; I’m pretty actively exploring most of the time with very little downtime. Plus, Virginia Beach offered a nearby urban setting were I to get bored with all that relaxation.

It seemed perfect. And it was.

I still look forward to that my holiday beach trip every year. I strike a good balance of inertia and activity, and I’ve found a few restaurants I really love (notably this one). I usually polish off a book or two and often end up seeing a movie at the Naro. And I watch Perry Mason reruns on MeTV. It’s great and gets me in the right frame of mind to start the new year at work.

It’s strange how that whole area has almost come to seem like another home base to me. It joins Toronto and Los Angeles in that elite group, though its two big brothers are sexier and more exciting.

 

This year, I popped back via Richmond so I could do some research there. I always enjoy being in Richmond too, and have always thought it might be an interesting place to live should the opportunity ever arise. Ironically (since it was the capital of the Confederacy and all) Richmond feels to me like the specific point where the South stops being the South and starts being the urban Northeast, with rowhouses, walkable neighborhoods, and a different cultural feel. Of course, many might disagree with me on that and suggest that its a very vanilla sort of place. Sorry…

But yeah, I like it. And evidently, I like holiday travel a lot more when it’s not cross-country and doesn’t involve airplanes.

 

New year, new databases

I’ve spent New Year’s Day migrating about 50,000 images into Adobe Lightroom CC, after many years of using an assortment of Apple’s photo management tools. I’d hit the point where I realized I would soon have to give up iPhoto, and had in fact already migrated several sets into Photos.

But I really fucking hate Photos. While it’s great for the average user who just wants to look at pictures from his phone, it has several glaring weaknesses for anyone who applies any serious degree of metadata to, say, a research photo collection. Its file system is an inscrutable train wreck. It does not actually write certain of its metadata into the image files. The goddamn face recognition that you can’t turn off drives me to distraction. Then, when I realized today what a hassle it would be simply to download a video from my phone with the file format and creation date intact, it was the last straw for Photos.

Add to all this the fact that it’s actually easier to migrate an iPhoto library than a Photos library into Lightroom (and the fact that I have free access to the whole Creative Cloud platform through work) and you arrive next to me on the couch as I was having my Spam, rice, and eggs this morning. That was when I decided that today was the day to make the jump (though I’d test-migrated one library several weeks ago). The old iMac has been plugging away for almost five hours now and I’m at 47%.

I’m doing all this, of course, so I can be involved in a major migration of digital content both at home and at work. As of last month, I chaired a committee that recommended moving from CONTENTdm, the incredibly expensive digital asset management my digital collections unit currently uses, to Islandora, an open-source platform. This migration (which will involve about 750,000 items) will pretty much define my next year at work. We’re one of the bigger installations to make this move. It should be fun.

I guess I didn’t want to be bored at home at the end of the day…

When it’s not really a war

My boss at the first job I had in high school was a member of a Christian sect that does not celebrate holidays. He would very loudly and rudely point out this fact to anyone who innocently wished him a “Merry Christmas.” Suffice to say he was not a very effective ambassador for his faith. It may also be largely because of him that I have such a hard time understanding why anyone would be upset by someone wishing them “Happy Holidays” or something similar. Really, why would you be upset by ANY such greeting if it’s shared in a friendly way?

I have friends who celebrate any number of different holidays at this time of year and I’m happy to accept any greeting they offer, because I try not a jerk like my first boss and because I recognize that whichever holiday I may celebrate is not the only available option.

I do not have a problem with businesses that want to express an inclusive greeting that can be appreciated by all their customers. I do, however, have a problem with anyone who snaps back “Merry Christmas” (or any other greeting) as more of a weapon than as a sincere wish. I think they’re sort of missing the point.

That said, enjoy whichever holiday you celebrate. Or none at all. I’ll do the same.

There. That was easy.

About nice, friendly white supremacists…

I’m of several minds about the controversial New York Times piece on the friendly neighborhood white nationalist racist prick. I recognize that the article did go a long way toward “normalizing” his behavior, though I think it stopped short of being an apologia. That said, I also believe that there is some validity in demonstrating that racist nutjobs can be your neighbors and can seem like “nice people” until you learn what they really stand for. And I think there is a significant part of the population that doesn’t realize this.

I’ve written about Oleene before. She lived right across the street from me and seemed to many people to be a very nice lady, a good Christian, and the kind of person you’d want watching your kids during the day. But as one of the kids she watched, I realized that she was not a nice lady at all. She was horrible. She said things about people of color that make my skin crawl to this day; these were awful, hateful, and — in retrospect — violent things. She was a despicable human being and, despite having known her since childhood, I couldn’t make myself attend her funeral when she died. I used to try to excuse her, but by the time she died, I didn’t feel any sense of loss at all.

But yeah, she seemed like a sweet little Christian lady until she started talking about anyone who was different from her. And ultimately, it wasn’t just people of different races or ethnicities. Not surprisingly, I never quite fit the mold of what she thought a boy should be interested in. I wanted to read and draw and use my imagination and learn things. She constantly pushed me to go outside, pick up a ball, and act like the other boys and stop being so “silly.” She minimized and ridiculed everything that mattered to me. She made me think there was something wrong with me, and I grew to hate her for it. As I’ve also said before, Oleene and the “moral” evangelical hypocrites at Vandalia Christian School are two of the main factors in my transformation from Bible-toting child to atheist adult. Suffice to say, none of these folks provided me with a model that was in any way “Christlike” nor something I could imagine dedicating my life to.

The point here, though, is that she just seemed to blend in with the neighborhood, and I don’t think anyone ever really exposed her or called her on her bullshit (except maybe me, when I hit my rebellious years). She was an evil, hateful person who wrapped her nastiness in a cute wrapper of Christian belief and Southern sweetness. And she’s not alone. In fact, there are a lot of her around. And they, like Tony Hovater, need to be exposed. The Times may not have done so in the best way possible. Someone should.

When I’m 64 (or 74 or 84)…

Ten resolutions for the senior citizen version of me:

  1. I will retain some sense of urgency in my life. When in line at a restaurant or store, I will recognize that even though I may have no schedule or pressing commitments, the people behind me probably do.
  2. I will not retire without having some idea of what I will do with my time. (I don’t think this will be a problem.)
  3. I will enthusiastically purchase a hearing aid when and if I need one. Fuck vanity.
  4. I will not become a racist, right-wing nutjob (i.e. an evangelical Republican).
  5. I will try to avoid ever thinking that 4:45PM is the ideal time for dinner.
  6. I will not discuss my excretory functions with anyone but healthcare providers.
  7. I will have some fucking dignity and not chase after boys in their twenties.
  8. As long as I am able, I will continue to travel alone.
  9. I will continue to appreciate new and interesting music and media, and I will not complain that all culture came to an abrupt end when I was 25.
  10. I will not watch “Wheel of Fortune.”

Feel free to comment on my success (or lack thereof) in ten, twenty, or thirty years.