The oral thing

I deal with oral history interviews as part of my job almost every day. I’ve digitized them, transcribed them, catalogued them, and created metadata about them. But tomorrow morning, I’ll be an interviewee for the first time. That will be a change of pace. I will be discussing my…ahem…trailblazing role as an LGBTQ (or whatever the hell the acronym is this week) student at UNCG in the 1980s for a student documentary of some sort.

I have this horrible feeling they’re going to be disappointed.

I pretty much got through most of my “coming out” issues before I even entered college–which may actually be of some interest, I guess, since that was less common in those days. All in all, I walked into a pretty squishy leftist environment as a freshman so I didn’t really experience a lot of discrimination and drama per se. I suppose I’ll talk about a few minor skirmishes I had with some people who didn’t appreciate my rather strident “activism” at the time and maybe about some things involving kiddie politics and the radio station and our growing awareness of AIDS. I could mention the fact that I somehow became everyone’s favorite person to “come out” to, so I heard a lot of stories from people who didn’t have it as easy as I did. And there was my friend who committed suicide by jumping out of a ninth-floor window in the library.

But even thirty years ago a lot of my thoughts on the subject were related to my dissatisfaction with what some people called “gay culture” and I’m not sure how that will play in this interview. We’ll see. I’m mainly disappointed that I’m not allowed to wear a black shirt since I’ll be shot in front of a lack backdrop. I almost always wear a black shirt, dammit.

Take off, eh?

Having finally worked out some details at the office, my annual Canadian road trip is now finalized for the last two weeks in October. I’d prefer not to do it so late in the month but I’m playing host to a meeting (organized by someone else) to go over our statewide contributions to the DPLA, and that pushed everything back a bit.

I still haven’t decided whether to do through Pittsburgh and Buffalo or through Detroit on the way up. I also haven’t pondered whether I’d prefer to stay in my old standby in Leslieville/The Beach or spend a hundred bucks more ($20/day) to be right in the middle of things at Bloor and Yonge. I’ll probably make the latter decision tonight. The former can wait.

It’s been a long time…


…since i’ve had a cute boy stare longingly at me. Does it detract from the experience that he’s only doing it because he wants food? No, not really.

Now it’s my turn. Maybe I’ll go stare longingly a waiter somewhere and see if he’ll feed me. My guess is that I’ll probably still have to pay…

Randomly Sunday night

Thoughts while doing laundry and eating surprisingly good low-carb butter pecan ice cream:

  • We’ve documented that I’ve become something of a neat freak and a much more attentive housekeeper over the past several years but I’ve also become a much better (and somewhat more creative) cook. If I were ever going to get married again (ain’t gonna happen BTW) I might make someone a really good wife.
  • I am beat. I didn’t sleep well last night; I had really weird dreams all night, probably brought on by the death metal show I was at earlier in the evening. And I moved another load of stuff this afternoon. Thus the  long and introspective post I’d planned is on hold. Fuck introspection; I’m going to sit on my ass and watch a movie.
  • I may actually get to see one of my favorite Canadian power pop bands while I’m in Toronto in a couple of weeks. That would be nice.
  • Did I mention that I’m beat?

Pictures after the jump, if you care… Continue reading “Randomly Sunday night”

I missed the road to Reno

Two and a half years after splitting up, I’m still finding annoying little pieces of paperwork that need taking care of in order to fully dissolve my former relationship. This time it was the insurance. I’m wondering if he process would have be been more or less streamlined if there had been an actual marriage certificate and divorce decree involved.

<facebook rant>The aggravating thing is that marriage confers a whole slew of rights and protections with the stroke of a pen. Same-sex couples have to negotiate, sign multiple legal documents, and jump through any number of other hoops in order to get a FRACTION of the same rights and protections. If the relationship ends, we then have to go through the whole process in reverse. All this to preserve the “sanctity” of an institution that any male-female couple in the country can enter or exit pretty much on a whim, relatively speaking.</facebook rant>

Fortunately, it ceased being traumatic for me quite some time ago. Now it’s just fucking annoying.

Great day otherwise, though. Had a meeting with my colleagues around the state about contributing to the Digital Public Library of America, followed by a software experience where everything actually behaved as expected (and as planned). That was a nice change of pace.

And I have a surprisingly open calendar tomorrow so I may be able to get some actual work done before my vacation.

Mmmm. Canada…

This is what it looks like when websites die

Screen shot 2013-10-18 at 10.32.19 PM

I built this site years ago when I was still doing freelance work. It was never one I was especially proud of but at least it used to work. It’s been on a death spiral in the years since I gave it up and has finally degraded to the level you see here. It amazes me that a large company like Fox Broadcasting (which purchased the station earlier this year) would let something like this remain active as the station’s only web presence. Why not just shut it down completely?

I’ve half a mind to call them and offer to log in (I’m sure my old password still works) and at least pull the plug since they obviously either don’t know or don’t care how to do it themselves. For a fee, of course…

Au Canada


I’m off. Next week. At some point.

I’m intentionally leaving my schedule a little open on this trip for purposes of spontaneity. I have a nucleus of (nonrefundable) days reserved in Toronto but nothing else, which will alllow me to decide on the fly whether to spend more time there or venture toward, say, Montréal for a few days. I may land in New England somewhere along the way and knock three more states off the list. I haven’t really even decided what day to leave.

Should be fun.

Completely unrelated: Why is Google serving up ads for Japanese porn sites here? I’ve never been to a Japanese porn site and I don’t think I’ve really ever discussed them on the site either.

Day 1: Greensboro to Pittsburgh

After checking the weather, I decided to leave today rather than tomorrow so I’d have a sunny day in Pittsburgh. That meant I left at 4:00 and rolled into the Red Roof Inn just before 11:00. The drive, which I can still pretty much do in my sleep, was extra exhausting tonight and I’m actually a little sore. But the particularly dark part between Summersville and Clarksburg was made bearable by a really good set on CBC Radio 3 (streaming Canadian indie rock to the world).

I miss Pittsburgh. It always seemed really homey to me despite the baggage that came to be associated with it. I love the newspaper and the food and just the whole feel of the place. In many ways, it’s the antithesis of San Francisco. I’m excited to actually be spending some time here again.

Tomorrow will bring:

  • Breakfast at Barb’s Country Kitchen or Ritter’s.
  • Lunch or dinner at Smallman Street.
  • Maybe a stroll through South Side and Squirrel Hill.
  • A bookstore or two.

I’ll probably leave Tuesday morning for Buffalo and the border. Unless I don’t.

Day 2: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh just gives me the warm fuzzies. It feels strangely like home and it makes me happy being here. I was worried a one point that this might not be the case anymore and I’m very relieved that I didn’t turn out that way. It’s such a great and wonderful place, full of personality and wonder and actual nice people. Plus the cutest boys in the world go to Pitt; it must be an entrance requirement.

Today brought breakfast at Barb’s and lunch at Lindo’s, picture-taking in South Side and book purchases in Oakland. I didn’t sleep well last night so I’m being horizontal in my room for a while before heading to Squirrel Hill of dinner and my obligatory visit to the kosher Giant Eagle. I’ll probably drive around a bit more tonight and then hit the bed fairly early so I can get up, have breakfast at Ritter’s and head north to see Sarah in time for a late lunch. And then…Canada.

I envision a longer trip to Da Burgh soon.

And I’m pissed that I missed the giant rubber duck.

Day 3: Pittsburgh to Burlington

Coming to you from Canada, which always adds an extra layer of contentment to my life.

It was really cold this morning, especially after a short sleeves kind of day on Monday. Breakfast in Pittsburgh was followed by a relatively uneventful drive to visit my friend Sarah outside Buffalo. I’ve known Sarah for more than sixteen years now. It’s kind of cool that I’ve been doing this long enough that new friends I mentioned meeting via the site way back when have now become old friends I’ve now known on both ends of the country. It was great seeing Sarah; we had hot dogs at an incredible joint and just sort of hung out, if not for long enough.

Then came Canada. I’m always mildly tense at the border due to my strange immigration status, but there were no big issues other that a friendly warning that my residency obligations will become an issue soon if I’m to retain that status.

I’m staying in Burlington tonight and tomorrow so I can explore Hamllton and some of the other surrounding cities and towns. Upon checking into the hotel, I found myself acting as translator between the desk clerk (who spoke no French) and the couple in front of me (who spoke no English). That was kind of surreal and not really something I expected to be doing. I hope I didn’t misunderstand and that they really did want a double room with prostitute and a large order of fries.

Gonna read my paper and go to bed now.

Day 4: Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener, and Waterloo

As i was sitting in a nameless shawarma joint run by a Chinese lady and an Irishman in a strip mall in Waterloo tonight, I had this really strong sense of how much I like my life, how much I still love exploring, how middle aged i don’t feel, and how glad I am that I very much prefer to travel alone, since no sane person would really want to put up with my version of travel anyway.

Breakfast at a diner in Burlington, followed by a quick tour of Hamilton (both on and off the mountain), lunch in Dundas, and a brief return to the hotel. Afterward, I ventured northward to Guelph, Kitchener, and Waterloo. The latter two towns, I think, merit further exploration. I probably should have stayed up there (my original plan) rather than in Burlington/Hamilton. Next time I’ll follow my instincts.

Random thoughts:

  • Why is Canadian Fresca (which I love) so different from American Fresca (which I hate)?
  • I was pretty excited to find gas for $1.17/litre today. Things are relative.
  • There is a shockingly good selection of used books at the Value Village thrift store on Dundas Street near Highway 6. I was very surprised.
  • I usually get used to saying “washroom” rather than “restroom” just in time for my return to the US.
  • it snowed today for about five minutes. There may be more.
  • in addition to all the shiny new Targets that used to be Zeller’s, there are now Big Lots and Dollar Tree stores in Canada, the latter having upped its maximum price to $1.25 north of the border.
  • Mmmm. Érable…

Toronto tomorrow. I’m looking forward to ditching the car for a couple of days.

Day 5: Burlington to Toronto

Breakfast at the Skyway Diner in Burlington proved to be the cheapest and one of the bet of the trip so far. I got out relatively early and was in Toronto before noon. Fortunately, I was able (a) to park right in front of the hotel for check-in and (b) actually to check in three hours early. My room is huge, it has a view of sorts and the place is really nice and well-located. My only complaint is that it has the lowest toilet I’ve ever sat upon, in what is also a very small bathroom given the size of the room in general. Seriously, I keep tripping over the potty en route to the shower.

After checking in, I walked down to a shawarma joint on Yonge Street (OK but nothing special) and the Annex to buy books, see Honest Ed’s for maybe one of the last times, and generally commune with the spirit of Jane Jacobs on Bloor Street.

I walked down the street to Fran’s for dinner a bit later. Had a Monte Cristo sandwich, just because it sounded so old-fashioned–as if it might come with a carrot salad and a pack of cigarettes on the side or something. The waitress was amused.

Not sure if I will venture back out. There’s supposed to be rain and snow tonight.

Dear stupid kids down the hall…

I really don’t give a damn if you want to smoke pot. It’s your brain and your lungs. But could you please not do it in a nonsmoking room on a nonsmoking floor, so the rest of us don’t have to smell the nasty shit? Your clue for the night: Setting it on fire and inhaling it, no matter what the substance is, is pretty much the definition of “smoking.” It’s just as toxic and just as annoying whether it’s marijuana or tobacco.

So stop it.


Thank you.

Random thoughts from Canada, eh

I’ll get back to the daily trip entries soon, but some random thoughts for late at night:

  • Why did I never think before about seeing if there were white noise apps? There are, by the way, and I’ll tell you how effective they are tomorrow. I think I’m going to opt for “airplane cabin” tonight.
  • Watching two bored-looking guys get bound together with any number of nonbiodegradable substances (cellophane, trash bags, duct tape…) to the tune of “Ghostbusters” has a certain whimsy about it–unplanned, I fear.
  • That whole “eliminating pennies” thing? Brilliant.
  • McDonald’s hummus wrap and Wendy’s falafel sub: Two things that really exist now in Canada. This is a good thing, right?

Bed now. I actually have plans both for lunch and dinner tomorrow, which is more of a social calendar than I’m used to.

Days 6-8: Toronto

I am absolutely exhausted (I tend not to take relaxing vacations) so this will be quick and dirty:

  • I did head back out Thursday night for a very overpriced beer. Got hit on more than once which is a nice ego boost for an old geezer, and spent quite a while talking to two very adorable youngsters, neither on whom hit on me, but both of whom were very nice.
  • Breakfast Friday at the Coach House, followed by some explorations downtown and along the Queen Street West corridor, including lunch at Falafel Queen. I love Falafel Queen.
  • Dinner in Greek Town, then a little walk, and a subway ride down to Dundas Square for more book browsing.
  • Saturday brought rain so I used it as my car day. Did laundry out on the Danforth, had lunch in Leslieville, and did my traditional drive up the length of Yonge Street.
  • Had an incident in the parking garage here at the hotel when I returned (fortunately not with another car) so I have a small repair to take care of on Monday. Thus I skipped seeing Sloan in Milton and opted for a stroll to the scary queer bar. I did not stay long. It was much ore fun on Thursday when there were many fewer people and much better music.
  • Slept later than usual (9:15!) and ran some errands this morning.
  • Had lunch with Mark, who was also visiting this weekend by coincidence, at the Coach House. Marked the first time we’d been in the same place in more than two years.
  • I walked around a bit afterward but suddenly realized I was really worn out so I came home and took some much-needed down time. I should really do that more often when I travel.
  • Dinner at the Thai place near my hotel with a friend from San Francisco who now lives here. That was nice.

I’m still pondering how the rest of the week will play out. It may depend on whether I can get my car fixed tomorrow. For now, though, it’s bed…

Day 9: Toronto

Couldn’t get my car fixed yesterday because the part (a passenger-side mirror that has to be ordered and painted) would take so long that I would have to spend several extra days here. It’s not a huge deal; I can live without it till I get back.

I was in a mood on Monday and it was making me inecisive. I’d planned to stay in Toronto until my car was fixed and then head home by way of New England or something. But I also felt like I wanted more time here. So I basically drove around a good while pondering what to do and feeling increasingly apprehensive about my ability to make a decision. Ultimately, I decided to spend a few more days in Toronto in a cheaper hotel outside the core–probably the worst compromise I could have made, but what the hell…

Realizations after all that drama:

  • I get really indecisive when I’m tired, in a mood, very unsure of myself, or all of the above. No surprises there.
  • I also get indecisive when my expectations of something (e.g., the annual fall road trip, dinner, how to spend a long weekend, etc.) are too high. I guess I’m afraid I will screw up something important. And by being indecisive, I often do.
  • I think this trip was too long. Or maybe I should have left it less open.
  • I obsesses over things and second guess myself way too much.
  • On the other hand, when I know in my gut that something is a colossally bad idea, I should listen to the aforementioned gut and just not do it.

Anyway, enough introspection. Every trip has a day when I end up eating cruddy fast food. Yesterday was it, but I redeemed it with dinner at the Tulip in Leslieville. I also visited the actual beach (rather than just the neighborhood) and took my “Honest Ed’s was sold today” selfies.

Wednesday brings exploration in the environs. I may make it as far as Barrie.

Day 10: Toronto and Barrie

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Breakfast a the hotel this morning, and then I headed north toward Newmarket (home of Tokyo Police Club, if you care) and Barrie. Barrie was quite pretty. And pretty boring. It was the perfect place to go for lunch and an hour of exploration before returning to civilization so that’s exactly what I gave it. I use these side trips to give me some perspective and to remind me that Toronto is really what’s interesting here, which could be an issue should I ever exercise my option to relocate.

Coming back into the city, I explored the northwest corner, where every fucking street is apparently under construction. I spent a few minutes in the Annex, stopped on Broadview to take some skyline shots, and then stumbled upon this magical neighborhood on Gerrard Street full of Indian restaurants. And dinner was lovely.

Random thoughts:

  • Canada must be the only place in the world where rap songs refer to Neil Young.
  • I hereby declare that the new Arcade Fire album (that came out today) is good enough that I almost forgive Canada for allowing Nickelback to continue living.
  • That’s really all I have.