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12/16/2014 - My Dad
G. Warren Westbrook
8/23/1924 - 12/13/2014
From his obit you would know that he was 90 years old when he died peacefully in his home, which is what he had wanted. He served in the Navy during World War II and then went on to graduate Yale. He worked for his father for a number of years until he ventured out on his own; first with a hardware store, and then with his own manufacturing company. He was in the Connecticut Legislature when I was young and was very active in church throughout his life.
But who was he?
His first name was George but everyone called him Warren, and for as long as I can remember, he always had a kind word for everyone and a kiss for the ladies. He genuinely had an interest in other people. He took great pride in his days in the legislature, politics as a whole, and after his days holding office were through, he worked the polls every year during elections. He was friendly to anyone he met. He had a smile on his face and a song in his heart most of the time, whether he was playing golf or singing in the church choir. He enjoyed telling and hearing good jokes. He was a tinkerer, always working on some project or another. He had memorized “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. Service and would recite it to his family every year around the holidays. He was a creative man, yet lived stubbornly by his routines. He did the crossword and cryptogram puzzles every day. He was smart, but not overbearing. He taught me how to stick up for myself, to go after what I wanted in my life. He taught me to think for myself. He gave me the freedom of becoming who I was going to be. He loved visiting new places, seeing new things, and travelled a lot with his wife and their friends. One of his most favorite trips was to Alaska, where my wife and I had been to this past August, and he enjoyed hearing all about it and swapping stories with me as recently as two weeks ago. When I was a teenager, he took me on a 3 week trip driving across our country in an RV during the height of the gasoline shortage, an adventure in and of itself, and he took pride to hear of all the places I have been to since. He was also a Justice of the Peace and he performed all of his ceremonies without charge to the multitude of newlyweds. He loved life, and because of it, he was a generous and loving man.
This is who he was to me, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
He was my dad and he was loved.
Donations in his name may be made to:
Wapping Community Church Music Fund
1790 Ellington Road
South Windsor, CT 06074
Here is a wonderful compilation of photographs, edited by Chris Andersen. Thanks Chris!
11/22/2014 - Pets aren’t Pets, They’re Family
There was a huge void left in my life after my German Shepherd, Keisha, died at the age of 15. I was never much of a dog person prior to her, as I had always preferred cats, but Keisha ended up being the epitome of a “man’s best friend.” I instantly became spoiled with her; her demeanor, her good behavior, and her eagerness to please, were traits any dog owner desires. I will forever miss her.
I say “I had preferred cats” like I don’t care for them any longer, but that’s not how I mean it. I have had cats in my life since childhood. Cats live with me today, I still love cats. My best buddy in the whole world next to Keisha was a cat named Marcy, of whom I loved for 16 years. She used to wake me up by licking my nose. She would greet me at the door, sleep under the covers with me or atop on the small of my back, she was almost always in my lap, she would lay-in-wait on the closed toilet seat cover and lick the water off of my legs after my shower (mmm, salty), and she followed me around much like Keisha did; they were both my shadows. She was my first pet that I was happy to call family and not just pets.
Saying goodbye to my family, Marcy and Keisha, hit me hard and I blubbered like a 5 year-old when they died.
I lost another cat of 13 years just this past week. Her name was Essie and she ended up having lung cancer. I had to have her put down during an unexpected, emergency, late night run to the vet. I got to say goodbye to her and I stayed by her side as she passed.
4/2001 – 11/2014
But I didn’t cry. I welled up for a bit during my drive home, but, and this is the main reason for this post, why wasn’t I more upset? Essie lived with me for 13 years and she was as much a part of my family as the other animals, so what gives?
Essie was tolerant when I picked her up and she wouldn’t try to squirm away. She liked it when I placed my forearm underneath her like a large cat lies on a tree limb. She loved a good belly rub and was playful on her own terms, but she wasn’t a lap cat who would just hang out with me. She always hated my other cat, Zeus, to the point where all he had to do was to enter the room and she would hiss and growl at him, which was funny and quirky and sometimes a nuisance. She liked curling up at my feet on the bed. She would screech (thus her name, Screeching Cat – SC – Essie) and screech for my attention, and then run down the hallway with her heavy paws onto my bed when she wanted to be pet. It all sounds like she was close to me, right? But I didn’t cry.
My fondest memory of her is when she came to live with me and Keisha. As a tiny kitten she would attack this 85 pound GSD by pouncing on her and playfully bite her thick furry neck. Keisha was so tolerant, she didn’t seem to mind one bit. So, see? I try to find reasons for being more upset about Essie’s passing and I end up reflecting more about Keisha.
So what is it? I feel as if I should be more upset than I am. I loved Essie. I miss her. But was her slightly less interactive demeanor (a typical cat, in other words) the reason for my nonchalant-ness over her death? It could be.
Which brings me to this next question; because with death hanging around we oft reflect upon ourselves; how will people react about me after I’m gone? Will they be as upset as I was with Marcy and Keisha, or will they feel sad only for a moment, shrug their shoulders, say that it’s just a part of life, and move on? So long. Farewell. No tears for you.
9/12/2014 - Who Owns the Moon?
According to Dennis Hope, he owns the moon and most of our Solar System.
As far as he’s concerned, he has found a loop hole in a charter written by the United Nations Outer Space Treaty where it says that no country may own the moon, but it says nothing about individuals.
In the early 1980s, Hope wrote a letter to the United Nations telling them that the moon was his unless they could come up with a legal reason why an individual could not claim ownership of the moon. He never heard back from them.
"I sent the United Nations a declaration of ownership detailing my intent to subdivide and sell the moon and have never heard back," he said, as quoted by usnews.com. "There is a loophole in the treaty—it does not apply to individuals."
Since then, he has sold more than 300 million acres of land on the moon. Individual, one-acre lots sell for $30.00 plus a “lunar tax.”
He has proclaimed himself president of the Galactic Government, a democratic republic which represents landowners on the moon and his other properties. Hope has also claimed Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter's moon Io, and Pluto (selling in its entirety for a mere $250,000).
According to National Geographic magazine, Tanja Masson-Zwaan, president of the International Institute of Space Law, said that the United Nations never responded because the treaty applies to both countries and its citizens.
Hope has ignored the Institute’s response, saying the time is approaching when landowners will be able to take advantage of their property. "I'm a private pilot, so I'd love to be able to fly the first craft there," he said. "As the elected president of the Galactic Government, one of my responsibilities is to build a city on the moon."
I’m at sixes and sevens over this.
On one hand, I am angered, outraged even, that anyone would take Hope seriously and would actually buy plots from him. No one should be able to own the moon, regardless of loop holes in some silly charter. This charter shouldn’t have been necessary to begin with. The moon, or any celestial body for that matter, cannot and should not be owned. At least not until we colonize those bodies.
On the other hand, why didn’t I come up with this? It is quite possibly the greatest idea anyone has ever come up with.
So if you believe Hope has a claim, and you want a piece of the moon, you may buy your property here: Lunar Land
8/29/2014 - Some Star Trek Fans Just Don't Get It
What is it with some Star Trek fans?
It seems odd to me in this day and age that fans of Gene Roddenberry’s space adventure set in an idealistic future, where humankind accepts one another no matter their race, creed, or religion, can be so mean and unaccepting of each other.
It should be like going to a concert, right? Everyone in the audience is different but they’re all there to share their love for the same music. Sure, some may like one song over another, but the audience sings along and has a great time enjoying the show … together. My glasses aren’t rose colored, that’s just how I like to remember the many concerts that I have been to.
But this is not the case with some ST fans. Instead of enjoying every aspect of the idea which is Star Trek, some fans feel the need to argue over factoids. “That’s canon!” Some quibble over trivia. “That’s not canon!” Some reduce themselves to acting like children by name calling people they disagree with. Some become belligerent when someone else likes one series over another or they like the “JJ-verse” alternate timeline versus the prime timeline, which quite honestly had nothing to do with JJ directing the film – if you didn’t like the alternate timeline then hang the blame on the writers and the execs at Paramount who okayed the script.
I get it. It’s perfectly normal whether you’re a Trekkie or Trekker or some other completely non-geeky self-title to like one series over another. I personally prefer The Original Series over Deep Space 9, but here’s the difference … I don’t go around bashing the fans who have a difference of opinion. True fans aren’t like that. True fans are waiting for the day to come, not only to travel and live among the stars, but to witness a day when people aren’t put down for being different or liking different things. The day will come when we will live Gene's dream, but only if we stop the pettiness.
Roddenberry is quoted, “Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day it begins not just to tolerate, but take a special delight in ideas and differences in life forms. If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.”
You call yourself a true Star Trek fan? Then start acting like one.
8/22/2014 - Off the Beaten Path
Two weeks in Alaska was a trip of a life time. I am so very lucky to have been able to experience the Last Frontier first hand. We went on a one-week cruise and then went inland for the second half. My wife enjoyed the ship more than I did, and I enjoyed the excursions and land tour more than she, but we both enjoyed everything. We saw tons of wildlife and got a feel for why people want to live there, but there is no way you would find me there in the winter time. The vistas were amazing. The snowcapped mountains were beautiful. The scenery was serene. The temps were in the high 70s, maybe even in the 80s, and there were times I wished I had packed shorts. I could go on and on about my trip, so I’ll just mention the highlights.
We boarded the Crown Princess in Vancouver, BC, a dog friendly city, and set sail northbound through the Gulf of Alaska.
A day and a half at sea brought us to Ketchikan, the salmon capital of the world, where we took a Lighthouse, Totems, and Eagles Tour on a small boat. There were lots of bald eagles, jellies, sea lions, and one lighthouse, but no whales even though Captain Rob called for them using his red trombone.
Juneau, Alaska’s capital, which can only be reached by boat or plane, was our next port and I got to fly in a helicopter to a glacier. Check both of those off of my bucket list! It was 45 degrees and windy up there, and I drank running glacier water, which was super cold and tasted pure.
Then came Skagway, gateway to the Klondike, where we had a Ghosts and Good Time Girls Tour led by the very entertaining Madam Stella V’Irgin from the Red Onion Saloon. I gave her a big tip at the end. *nudge-nudge* *wink-wink* We also drove up through White Pass into Crown Land, an area of Canada that stretches in-between customs.
Next, we cruised into Glacier Bay and the College Fjord where we saw lots of tidewater glaciers, whales, and a brown bear on the shoreline. This is where I received my request for some sugar-free vanilla mousse from Antonio, the head waiter, whom I had a man crush on. Only because I highly appreciated his attention to customer service! I swear I’m going to teach myself how to make it. It was delicious.
Our cruise ended in Whittier, an old army base, and we went through a 3 mile one-way tunnel on our way to Copper River Lodge via Anchorage by bus for 8 hours. Not much to do in Copper with only 5 buildings and a service station, but we had our first of many nature hikes, and I made like a big ol’ bear by donning a heavy hide. Grrr!
After another 8 hour bus ride to Denali Princess Lodge (enough with the 8 hour bus rides), we saw the 20,320 foot tall Mount McKinley, the tallest peak in North America, when we ventured into the Denali State Park. It is said that only 30% of the people who visit get to see the mountain and we saw it 2 out of 3 days. And we had our first moose sighting here.
We made our way to Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, not so bad this time with a 2 hour bus ride. This is where we went panning for gold with the Denali Gold Tours, run by Rich and Shelby. We had a blast hanging out with them. It wasn’t the fact of finding flour gold (little specks in a black pan), but they were real people. Shelby is Rich’s granddaughter and their rapport with one another was priceless. After being driven out to the middle of nowhere, attacked by anti-bugspray mosquitos, and eating a hot dog dinner by the side of the creek, they were clearly tired as they don't normally do late afternoon tours. Anyway, they became silly with each other. It was adorable and soon they had us caught up in their laughter until our cheeks hurt. At one point Rich slammed on the brakes. “Moose!” he cried. He turned us around, parked on the side of the road, and got us to follow him as he ran into the woods (Shelby stayed in the van). Sure enough, there was a moose standing off about 100 yards, and Rich raises his hands into the air like antlers and starts mooing at the moose. “Come here moose!” It was a riot. Luckily the moose paid him no attention. Otherwise, had it charged us, I’m sure Rich would have shot it with his sidearm.
The next day found us in Talkeetna, a town we were told that inspired the television show Northern Exposure. We drank beer samples from the Denali Brewing Co. and I ate king crab legs at the West Rib. The 3 hour train ride back to Anchorage was more comfortable than a bus, and it was a double-decker with a domed glass ceiling for optimal viewing. The narrator of this last leg of our trip had a laugh like Jennifer Lawrence which was amusing.
In Anchorage we found Humpy’s Alehouse where the portions were huge and then we went back to the Hard Rock Café, where we had eaten lunch a week prior, to buy me a t-shirt and a hat.
We stayed overnight at Captain Cook, a dimly lit place overlooking Cook Inlet, and flew home the next day. We had no issues or delays during our 2 layovers, but my luggage lost 1 of its 4 wheels.
As you can imagine, we had a great time. If I were to see Alaska again (and I would in a heartbeat) I would only change a couple of things. I would eliminate Copper River Lodge altogether and I think I would switch the weeks around and take the ship during the second week.
Care to see what I'm talking about? Have a look at my pictures on facebook.
7/31/2014 - German Shepherd Dogs
It’s funny how my brain works. I was thinking today about my late Keisha, 1997-2011, of how I will always miss her, when my mind brought to the surface a long ago memory.
I was just a kid, maybe 10, and the deep woods behind my Dad’s cottage on Lake Pocotopaug were my playground. One weekend I was romping around out there, probably playing Robin Hood or some such thing, when I heard a large animal fast approaching from behind. The sound of dry leaves crunching under a heavy foot was unmistakable. Was it a bear? Or maybe it was a wolf? I spun to see a huge German Shepherd Dog standing twenty feet away. He was beautiful, but I was alone in the woods and I was afraid at first.
We eyed each other, neither one of us moving; until I said, “Hi,” and then his tail started wagging and he came over and gave me as much affection as I gave him. We were instant pals.
He didn’t have a collar, so I urged him to follow me home. And he did. I named him Max and I pleaded with my Dad to keep him. I don’t remember what my Dad said, but I’m sure it was something along the lines of, “Let’s wait to see if anyone is looking for him.”
While we waited we did everything together. Max and I went swimming. I taught him tricks, one of which was to jump up and placed his fore legs onto my arm as I held it out. Max was taller than I was standing. He slept on my bed that night.
The next day we were walking along Bay Road heading back into the woods, when I heard someone yell out. “Prince! Here boy.” And Max started off toward the male’s voice.
“Max?” I questioned. I didn’t want to believe his name was Prince and that he was about to leave me. The dog stopped and turned back to me. The true owner called his name again, but Max didn’t move this time. He just stood there and looked at me very much like he had when we met the day before—his head tilted slightly, trying to understand the situation. With a heavy heart I said, “Go ahead,” and Max ran off without looking back.
I never saw him again.
My family had had dogs before, but Max was the first that I called my own. We were only together for 24 hours, but I believe he is the reason I am attracted to GSD.
7/10/2014 - 1960s BATMAN - the return of camp.
Holy comebacks, Batman!
Warner Brothers will be releasing all 120 episodes of the beloved 1960s Batman television series on DVD, Blu-ray, and HD digital download in November 2014. All episodes have been remastered and will feature bonus material.
With Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin; the dynamic duo defended Gotham City twice a week during its first two years and then weekly for its third and last season. Its campy style brought us upbeat 60s music and (then) current pop culture, with lessons like wearing your seatbelt, do your homework, and the importance of drinking milk. As a kid, I soaked it all up like a sponge.
Of course drinking milk was important, because Batman said so!
Now, as a nostalgic adult, I recognize many a star who appeared on the series: Frank Gorshin (seasons 1 & 3) and John Astin (season 2) played the giggling Riddler, Burgess Meredith played the waddling Penguin, and the great Cesar Romero brought life to the original Joker. There were three women who played Catwoman: Julie Newmar (meow! in seasons 1 & 2), Eartha Kitt (season 3), and Lee Meriwether in the big screen version. Actors like Victor Buono, Vincent Price, Cliff Robertson, and Milton Berle all gave over-the-top performances which gave the show its appeal.
Besides regularly appearing villains, whenever there was a climbing scene up the side of a building by use of the Bat-o-rangs, a guest star would open a window and have a little chat or tell a joke to our two tight-wearing crime-fighters. “Have a good day, citizen,” Batman would tell them, being always the polite millionaire vigilante.
Batman never "hurt" anyone either. Sure there were fight scenes, but not once did you actually see anyone punching another person. Anything remotely violent was covered up with comic-styled “censor balloons” reading POW! BAM! and KABOOM!
And just like with Micheal Keaton's or Christain Bale's Batman, watching the 1960s Batman again will bring a smile to my face. My girls may think it corny to today's standards in style and graphics, and maybe I will too, but that's okay. Will they think I’m corny for wanting to watch it? Will they consider it another one of Dad's geeky things to do? We'll find out in November ... Same Bat Station. Same Bat Time.
6/24/2014 - GOLF - why do I bother?
I play golf, but I’m not very good at it. I’m mostly a bogie and double-bogie player—that’s one and two strokes over par per hole respectively for you non-golf enthusiasts. I’ve never shot a hole-in-one or even an eagle (that's two under par). I’ve gotten birdies before, but I’ve never broken 40 for nine holes. So why do I bother?
First, I play golf because it gets me out-of-doors and into the fresh air. As long as it’s not rainy or cold, I like that amount of time where I can think that I’m getting some sort of exercise. Yeah, I ride in a cart, but my score always ensures my heart rate to go up.
Even though the game is stressful, frustrating, aggravating, annoying, tense, challenging, vexing, irritating, and can tests the limits of my patience at times, I still enjoy it when a single shot goes according to plan and it seems like I know how to hit that damned little white ball correctly. When I sink that twenty-foot putt, or chip in off the green, or have that monster drive, or hit out of the woods without hitting a tree, or end up with a score in the lower forties, it’s worth every cuss word ever spoken and every broken club over my knee. As crazy as it may sound, good and bad combined, golf is relaxing.
At almost half-way through this year’s summer season in the league, it has taken me five weeks to finally shoot under fifty for nine holes. Last year I was able to get my handicap down to a 9 (a forty-five average), but this year I’m a 15. So why do I bother?
There’s always room for improvement—a warehouse of space in my case. It’s social—it makes me interact with people who also question why they’re out there. It’s a game of a lifetime—my dad played his whole life up until this year and he’s going to be ninety in August. It can be competitive and casual at the same time with personal bests and others to beat (I’m highly competitive). With the handicap system, all players on all levels of ability get to play together—it’s an equal frustration opportunity. Also, as with all sports, it builds character. And I don’t have to think about anything else other than my next shot (or lack thereof) while I’m out there.
I just found out that my team is tied for points in the first half of our league. Yippee. Joy. If you could only see me smiling right now (insert your coin into the sarcasm slot when you recognize it). Yes, it’s bragging rights, but it also just adds to the pressure that is golf. I can’t wait to see my score this week.
All kidding aside, it’s a love-hate relationship between me and golf, but hey, let’s not forget the main reason why I bother; it’s because a bad day at golf is still better than a good day at work, and I’ll do it until I can’t do it any longer.
Hit ‘em long and straight!
6/5/2014 - An Indiana Jones reboot?
Please tell me this isn’t true. For me, no one else but Harrison Ford can be or will be the fedora wearing archeologist, Dr. Indiana (named after the family dog) Jones.
“Disney is looking at its long-term options for the Indiana Jones franchise,” said an unnamed source according to tor.com . “They feel that the series has huge potential on many levels.”
While this may be true, I don’t think they should do it. Indy is an icon. And the movies were done so well that they will stand the test of time. What Disney should do is, like their animated movies, is place the masters in a vault and re-release them every seven years as remastered classics (okay, maybe not the 4th one – Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – I wouldn’t buy that one).
Disney is already continuing on with the Star Wars saga, but imagine if they had done it as a reboot instead?
If the problem they’re facing is running out of ideas, they should redo Labrynth. They could make it darker with CGI characters instead of muppets and without David Bowie’s crotch getting in the way of his acting. Shit, that thing was sticking out there so prominently it was like Kuato from Total Recall (1990).
They could also redo Willow or a multitude of other Lucasfilms movies, which they now own the rights to.
Or hey! How about something new? Something fresh? I know of a couple of screenplays which are up for grabs. :o)
5/18/2014 - Top 10 Monster Movies
I found myself in a quandary when thinking of this list, because I needed to determine what denoted a monster movie first. If you believe everything found on Wikipedia, they say that any movie that has a "monster" in it is a monster movie, which technically is correct I guess, but I can't believe it's as simple as that.
For example, just because Ghostbusters has the Sta-Puff Marshmallow monster in it, does not make it a monster movie for me.
In fact, even though wiki also states that "monster movies usually fall into sci-fi, fantasy and/or horror genres," which I do agree with, I also believe there are certain monster movies that should fall into their own genre.
When I think of monster movies, I don't believe that Jaws or Pirates of the Caribbean or Aliens or Monsters Inc. should be considered in the same list of monster movies as wiki does.
Therefore, given my criteria, here is my Top 10 list of what I consider to be true monster movies, which are in order of date released and not by personal rank.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
King Kong (1976)
The Fly (1986)
The Mummy (1999)
King Kong (2005)
I have not yet seen Pacific Rim (2013) or Godzilla (2014). The latter is what prompted this blog. If you have seen either one of them, please let me know what you thought.
4/17/2014 - Leaving the Old Tech Behind
“The only thing that does not change is change itself.” ~Unknown
Technology is growing exponentially every day; giving life to new products as fast as we can imagine them, and with this the death of things we once took for granted.
I suspect that if the recent past shows us anything at all, it is that the latest technology won’t be around for very long. So, here are some of my predictions of what will disappear in the not too distant future.
Personal checks – why bother with the hassle of writing out checks or balancing your check book, right? Automatically pay your bill straight from your checking account. Go ahead, trust the system. No sir, not me. As long as they’re available I will always pay my bills by placing a check in the mail, but a lot of people have switched to paying electronically, and the more that people do the less likely personal checks will be around.
Keys – I imagine every lock will soon become personalized with biotech technology; thumbprints and retinal scans. They already have some of these for cars and laptops to prevent theft. How long before your house becomes keyless?
Compact Discs – do you remember vinyl records? Not old enough for those? How about 8-track tapes? No? Do cassette tapes or CDs ring a bell? My now 5 year old doesn't know what any of these things are. Everything is moving to electronic media stored on mp3 players and Cloud systems, so say goodbye to your CD collection stacked in towers against the wall - soon they'll be obsolete.
Paperbacks – eBooks are outselling paperbacks. And if we wish to reduce our carbon footprint further, we’d better plant some trees instead of chopping them down for pulp. As an author, I have given way to this lifestyle and promote it - I offer an extra story at the end of the electronic version of Eat My Shorts.
Privacy – almost all of the UK business districts have closed circuit television monitoring your movements in and out of doors. Granted, not everywhere here in the US is to this extreme, but just look around at your busiest intersections, and look at how many stores threaten us with the use of camera surveillance. Want to sunbathe naked in your back yard? Just think about Google Maps updating its maps via satellites before doing so.
And that’s only five of so much more. Dont believe me? Just think of all the other stuff which has disappeared by way of the dodo bird just in the last fifty years: rotary telephones, black and white TV, Betamax and VHS, Laser Discs, turntables, reel-to-reel tape recorders, transistor radios, pagers, typewriters, dial-up modems, zip drives, slide projectors, floppy discs, Polaroids, telephone booths, analog TV, and many, many more.
3/30/2014 - Most Memorable Movie Quotes
Even when a movie is not the most memorable, sometimes they can still have a lasting effect on our lives if they contain one quote (or more) which becomes popular.
Some quotes can take on a life of their own in our everyday lives as they become integrated into our culture as responses to real life situations, either as a means to better explain what we're feeling or just as a joke among friends.
Right away, if someone says, "I coulda been a contender!" from On the Waterfront, you know that they feel robbed of a chance to have done better because the opportunity to do so has been taken away from them. In the hundred years of film-making, some quotes have endured the test of time and are still in use today - at least in my circle of friends. Or perhaps a quote just defines a character that everyone recognizes and by our quoting them, it is our way of finding commonality with each other, like when we emulate famous roles, like James Bond, when he is often quoted, "Shaken, not stirred."
Below is a list of my most memorable movie quotes with the movie titles listed after. Without peeking, can you guess what movie they come from?
3/23/2014 - Voyage of the Glaciers -or- Alaska: The Last Frontier
Cruising Alaska; I am so looking forward to this trip! I've always wanted to do it, but when I was initially thinking of something special to do for my 50th birthday, it completely slipped my mind. I consider this b-day to be a milestone, so I wanted to cross something off of my bucket list, and this trip will take care of not 1, but 3 at once!
I thought of flying to Vegas, not because I like to gamble or that I love the place so much that I wanted to go back, but because I want to experience zero-gravity aboard the vomit-comet. The problem: I can't see spending 5k for only 8 minutes of weightlessness. Someday, maybe, if one of my books ever gets a movie deal.
I also want to pet a tiger someday. I researched this a little and there's a place called the Lujan Zoo in Argentina that's been getting positive press for letting visitors get close to their large feline residents (let me know if you've been). But that's not really a vacation for the family (meaning I don't think I'd be able to convince my wife to go with me, and although I probably could get away with going alone, bucket list or not, I chose not to at this time). Maybe I'll keep this one in my back pocket for my 60th birthday.
Jeannine, my wife, is the one who mentioned cruising the Alaskan coastline. Thanks for the reminder, honey, and happy birthday to you too.
So, after a few phone calls to Princess Cruises and their travel agent, Carol, we have booked a milestone vacation. Being excited about it, I wanted to share our itinerary with you. Here is what awaits us for the end of the summer...
Day 1: fly to Vancouver, BC
Day 2: set sail on the Princess Coral in a balcony stateroom
Day 3: a day at sea
Day 4: port at Ketchikan, with an excursion on a smaller boat to see local wildlife and the Totem Bight State Park.
Day 5: port at Juneau, with an excursion for me to ride a helicopter to, and walk around on, a glacier. This will take care of two bucket list items in one outing (the third being the trip in general).
Day 6: port in Skagway
Day 7: Glacier Bay National Park
Day 8: College Fjord
Day 9: Anchorage and Whittier, with ground transportation to Copper River Lodge
Day 10: Copper River Lodge, with a 25 mile drive excursion to explore the interior wildlife with a dog sled demonstration and ride after
Day 11: transportation to Denali Wilderness Lodge
Day 12: Denali Wilderness Lodge, with an excursion to the Denali National Park, home of Mt. McKinley, and transportation to Talkeetna for a night at the McKinley Lodge
Day 13: a 3 hour ride by rail through the Alaskan wilderness back to Anchorage
Day 14: fly back home
Nice, right? This will be the longest vacation I've ever taken, even beating out my trip to Greece/Egypt which was 10 days. I'll probably need a vacation after my vacation just to wind down.
2/19/2014 - Acronyms
Some acronyms are cool, especially when they make everyday words. Here are some examples which you may or may not have known about because they are so commonly used in their shortened version that we may have forgotten their true meaning:
Laser = Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
Scuba = self-contained underwater breathing apparatus
Interpol = International Criminal Police Organization
AIDS = acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization
JPEG = Joint Photographic Experts Group
BBC = British Broadcasting Corporation
USA = The United States of America
Nabisco = National Biscuit Company
Radar = radio detection and ranging
Cyborg = cybernetic organism
Vitamin = vital amine
Car = carriage
But with instant messaging and chatting within apps and on web sites, and texting on smart phones, pods, pads, and who knows what else, we’re spinning out of control. We’ve become so pressed for time (equate that to lazy typists) we’ve gotten to the point where it has become its own jargon, a.k.a. cyberslang.
You has become u. You are has become u r. IDK is I Don’t Know. K is Okay.
1daful means wonderful. TTFN is Tata For Now or BB4N Bye Bye For Now. Sure, there has always been DUI, BFD or BRB, but BTWITIAILWU*? Really?
Try this on for size:
“GTGB. PAW. SH. DFWLU.”
Which is an actual sentence in cyberslang and it translates to:
“Got to go bye, parents are watching, shit happens, don’t forget who loves you.”
How are we (as adults) supposed to know what any of these internet acronyms mean? Holy Moly! It’s like learning a whole new language. Well, fear not panicky parents and/or wannabe acronymitists (ACRONS** for short), here’s a website to help you; a decoder ring should you need one ... NetLingo
YWIA! And as always, thanks for reading!
*By The Way I Think I Am In Love With You
**Yes, I made that up
1/31/2014 - The Artist Within
I had an instructor at Paier College tell his class once, "Eight out of ten of you won't make it in the field of art." Nice, right? I wish I could go back and tell him what an ass he was for saying such a thing. A real motivational speaker, that one. NOT! If I could remember his name I would call him out directly, but since I can't, it will have to suffice for me to say that I would tell him not only have I been doing art for all these years since, but I've been getting paid real money to do it too. So there!
I knew that Fine Art was not a direction I wanted to go in. You end up only in gallery showings (if you're lucky) and end up charging wondrous amounts only the wealthy can afford, all because the gallery takes such a hefty cut, and unless you have made a name for yourself or are dead, your art won't sell. You've heard of the starving artist? This is where that comes from. So, I decided on Graphic Design, but I soon learned that if a client didn't like a color or theme, you would be up all night redoing the piece to meet an advertiser's deadline (this was before Photoshop or Illustrator, where a click of a button could change the whole color scheme). This was also not for me. Maybe, I thought at the time, that instructor was right.
After Paier, it was the latter side of the mid-80s. The building industry was booming, so I became a draftsman. Not for an architectural firm paying minimum wage, no, but for the Hartford Wire Works Company. They manufacture wrought iron fences, wire mesh partitions, window guards, and the like. The job was a cross between architectural and mechanical drafting. I liked it a lot. Not only was I good at it, but I was fast and accurate. But, after being laid off for lack of work two times, I told them, "No thanks," when they asked me to come back a third time. "I can do your work from home," which is what I did for them for the next fifteen years as a part-time gig.
At the same time that I told Hartford Wire thanks but no thanks, I landed a job at Pratt & Whitney as a technical illustrator. And I've been doing it ever since. I am proud to say that my work has travelled across the globe, literally. Not many know it's my work they're looking at, but I'm okay with that.
I've made a solid reputation for myself over these nineteen years at P&W. I am at the top of my field, and I participate on two international committees because of it. Being a technical illustrator has paid the bills and has kept a roof over my head. The only complaint about it would be that it doesn't placate my creative side. For that, I've created personal art work on the side and have taken up writing. I have sold a few art pieces to magazines over the years, not to mention designing and creating the art for my own book covers.
I've done all right for myself in the field of art, regardless of what that instructor had said to me so long ago. I'm glad I didn't fall into his trap of despair and move on to some less artistic field. Maybe he was one of "those who can't, teach, and those who can, do." Either way, art is subjective and anyone who loves to be creative shouldn't stop what they love doing just because some loser makes a loser's remark.
My advice is forge ahead. Do what you love most, never ssh the artist within, even if you don't make a name for yourself, even if someone else tells you won't make it, do it anyway. It will all work out in the end.