The long hot…

Record high temperatures, flowering trees, chirping birds who really need to shut up…

The long hell of spring and summer is coming. Sigh.

I always get a little depressed this time of year (usually in March, but sometimes in February when we have a warm spell like this) because I know the summer season will arrive soon, with all its sunshine and pollen, its stinky cut grass and humidity, and its general unpleasantness. I think it goes back to when I was a kid and started dreading the time of year when I would be expected to play outside on occasion. I don’t like playing outside, especially in the summer when it’s miserably uncomfortable.

Interestingly enough, I do like walking around extensively amid the built environment (i.e. in big cities) in the fall and winter. That’s pretty much the only time I like to be outside. Otherwise, that whole winter hibernation mode thing works just fine for me.

Oh well. Set the AC on sub-arctic. The bad weather months have arrived.

Valentine musings

Random thoughts on that most annoying of all holidays:

  • Other than the years when I was long-term coupled, I can only remember one time in my life when I was actively dating someone on Valentine’s Day. I was 20 years old at the time, and didn’t much care for it. I don’t even remember how he and I celebrated the big day.
  • I have a friend with whom I spend a lot of time. We’re often told we seem like an old married couple. When I think about it, I realize that (1) we frequently eat at the cafeteria, (2) she criticizes my driving all the time, and (3) we never have sex. So yeah, we pretty much are just like an old married couple.
  • As Valentine’s Day civil disobedience options go, this one was a pretty cool (if soggy) one to be part of.
  • The suckiest thing about middle age is that no one gets crushes on you anymore. I don’t care about the romance particularly, but the ego boost was always nice. Not that it happened all that often even before I hit middle age…
  • At least I’m not having a Valentine’s Day colonoscopy this year.
  • Screw the candy. Give me pie. And apple fritters.

What a difference 4624 days make

According to the Date Duration Calculator, today marks the point where I’ve lived back in North Carolina for as long as I lived in California. That works out to twelve years, eight months, and change.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

I thought this was it going to be deeper and more wordy. Maybe later…

I’m going to Nova Scotia…

…and you probably aren’t.

I never thought my work would take me to Canada’s ocean playground. Surprises are nice. I’ve already envisioned a scenario where Chris Murphy from Sloan is home in Halifax visiting family, we meet downtown, he decides he likes boys, we fall in love, and I get another chance to immigrate to Canada and go on tour as a band wife.

Since that probably won’t really happen, I’m just going to be excited about hitting three new provinces in a part of Canada I might not otherwise have visited.

Awful new show

I was watching TV last night and I stumbled on to this really stupid reality show.

The lead singer from A Flock of Seagulls (who has aged really badly) was onstage with the guy who played Eddie Munster and some other really creepy guy (Kirk Cameron, maybe?). He was just sort of babbling and his voice was really annoying, plus the weird guys behind him kept clapping for no apparent reason. So I changed the channel. But the same show was on EVERY FUCKING STATION.

I hope it gets cancelled soon.

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.