Storm.

A very impressive storm came through the area yesterday evening. It’s rather fun getting to know what Monsoon Season is like here in southeast Arizona.

Some reports showed wind gusts around 75 MPH. We had a couple of cactus skeletons behind the house come down, as well as one of the trees. None of this did any damage and this morning we cleaned up the mess, as well as swept debris off the porch and gazebo.

This was our first test to see how water tight the house really is. The leading window into the storm leaked a bit but that’s already been recaulked. Otherwise the house held up very well.

The National Weather Service is predicting thunderstorms all week for our area; perhaps we’ll continue to be treated to Mother Nature’s show.

Caturday.

Truman is very comfortable in home and with the family all living together. We had guests this week and he was a gentleman for the most part. He’d retreat to a secret location when he had enough of the younger humans that were visiting. We’d usually find him stretched out on the floor of our bedroom.

I find it charming when he stretches out like this; it’s a display of trust. Or perhaps it’s just comfortable.

Working From Home.

I’ve successfully worked from home over the past decade. When the pandemic lockdowns came about early last year it wasn’t really a change of working pace for me, as I just kept doing what I do from my home office. Others throughout the company were not familiar with working from home and so they had to make adjustments, but after a couple of weeks we were all communicating and collaborating just fine and all went well. In fact, our company found productivity actually went up during the pandemic. Maybe it’s because people realized that working from home allows for better pacing, less water bubbler chat, and reduced distractions.

Tech companies are now finding that many of their employees want to continue working from home. Some companies are not pleased with this and are coming down pretty hard on bringing people back to the office. I attribute this to a lack of management skill or creativity; in the tech world it’s pretty easy to determine the output levels of remote employees on your team. In team lead positions I’ve rarely had an issue that needed to be addressed and on the one occasion I had someone doing something they shouldn’t have been doing during normal business hours (trying to work and drive Uber at the same time), it was easy to figure out what positions must not have really been necessary to begin with.

I’m keeping an eye on the work from home policies of tech companies and considering their practices when making tech related purchases. I know Tim Cook from Apple wants folks back in that giant spaceship they built in Cupertino. They spent billions of dollars on the place. It’s a shame a sizeable number of employees don’t want to come back to being full-time in the office. And, reducing commuting time, and subsequently the carbon emissions associated with commuting, is better for the environment.

With the right attitude, creative leadership, and a clear focus, we can help clean up the environment by reducing commuting times and subsequently reducing carbon footprints. I’m hopeful many companies will reconsider outdated practices and do better with embracing Working From Home.

Cock Fights.

Virgin Galactic’s Sir Richard Branson and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos are duking it out as to who can get to “space” first this month. I put space in quotation marks because they’re not orbiting the planet or anything; they’ll both be getting to the very beginnings of space and very briefly leave the Earth’s gravitational pull.

While I certainly understand the “cool” factor of flying to space like this, I’m not sure I understand the scientific benefits. When SpaceX provides a ride for astronauts to the International Space Station or launches satellites or brings payloads to wherever they need to go, it’s for science stuff. Or, in the case of Starlink, they’re making the Internet available to remote locations. And that’s rather cool (aside from the pollution it’s providing for astronomers). When the likes of Sir Richard Branson or Jeff Bazos go up, it’ll be to say “look what we can do” and is essentially an expensive amusement park ride. Yes, there is innovation required to make these events occur, but just imagine how the world would benefit if the funds for these joyrides were used to help combat hunger or homelessness.

I really like Sir Branson and Mr. Bezos are just trying to outdo each other, much in the way muscle cars were raced in the mid 20th century. With these two I don’t really care who gets to “space” first.

I just wish the human race could win from these endeavors.

Memories.

11 years ago (and some change), the family was out to dinner for the evening at Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, New York. Our dear friend Scott is now living Minneapolis-St. Paul and we miss seeing him. Perhaps circumstance will bring him to the desert soon.

Holiday?

This day off from work doesn’t really make sense to me, this day after Independence Day. It’s a work holiday and I suppose I should be relaxing and enjoying the time off but in actuality I’m just kind of sitting around waiting for the work week to start tomorrow.

Perhaps I need to learn how to relax.

The fireworks were yesterday. The parades were yesterday. The barbecues and the adult beverages and the little worry of getting enough sleep because it’s all holiday: all yesterday.

I’m a little surprised folks didn’t want to have the long weekend Friday to Sunday instead of Saturday to Monday. I mentioned this to my husband; he indicated having Monday off gave us a day to recover in preparation for the work week. I suppose. He doesn’t need to worry about recovering, he’s retired.

I guess it’s nice to have the time off today. Perhaps I should just focus on the here and now and not concern myself with the upcoming work week.

Words.

“Mr. Wing, do you know what a homosexual is”?

The 10th grade biology teacher’s voice boomed through the room with this question posed to me; it was his way of gathering control of the class for the next 41 minutes of 6th period and since we were apparently to talk about the importance of the prefix “homo” in the scientific world, the disheveled man apparently thought it humorous to fixate on me and ask this question that carefully treaded a line. The girl to my right, we’ll call her Jeannine, laughed at me. I’m not surprised. She wasn’t known for being an exceptionally nice person. To be fair, it was a nice change of pace to hear her laugh because usually she was crying about something or barking out with a special amount of bitchiness one can find amongst high school sophomores in the 1980s. To my left, my table mate, we’ll call her Lori, whispered “asshole” under her breath, just loud enough for me to hear her word of support. I turned beet red, stammered more than usual trying to formulate something, anything to come out of my mouth, and feverishly wished for the kid at the table in front of me to have a seizure or something. The rest of the class laughed, the word faggot was shared once or twice and I was asked that very same question by various members of that class for the rest of the week. This is the stuff sophomores live for. The teacher had control of the class, I did not, and I was humiliated.

I do not forget these things. It rings as loud in my head in 2021 as it did in late 1983. I imagine most gay men, especially those of us of a certain age, have not forgotten instances like these. This is what we grew up with. Welcome to growing up gay in the Gen X set.

“Well let’s face it, John will have a hard time being gainfully employed”.

Another nugget of wisdom, this time from a fellow classmates in Ethics class, which was in the latter half of my junior year of high school. This time it was 4th period and I really just wanted to go to lunch at 11:04.

“Why not?”, queried the teacher, who, at the beginning of class, had instructed us to arrange our desks in a circle so we could debate things like whether or not a functional homosexual like I apparently was destined to be (calm down Mom, I wasn’t a ‘functional’ homosexual at the time) was a good or bad thing for society. Would our gayness cause the fall of the United States. (Spoiler alert, it did not).

“His mannerisms and way of speaking are going to prevent serious employers from hiring him”, was the response.

I don’t know what happened to that classmate after high school and I don’t really care to Google him to find out. Why waste the bits? Who knows and who cares. In the moment I looked for support from another classmate, we’ll call him Mike, that I really knew “to be on the team” (he is and we actually shared a kiss a couple of years later) but he turned on me with the rest of them, laughed, and made detrimental comments. That was probably the first time in my life that I wondered if I was going to be anything at all and if I wasn’t going to be anything, why continue the charade? Was my life worth anything?

The teacher of that class had to dash off at 11:04 to do some Vice Principal duties, but he checked in with me at the end of class and asked if I was OK. When he saw tears building in my eyes, after the longest 41 minutes I’ve probably endured in my life, he told me I was a good guy and asked another teacher to have a chat with me in his office to get me grounded again. He knew I was mentally not well. I can safely say I probably owe my life to that other teacher. Her name is Karen O’Brien. She taught Special Ed, but through talking with her she helped me find my worth again that day and honestly probably doesn’t even know the depth of the impact she had on me that day. She talked me off a psychological ledge. Years prior to this she had put as her caption under her photo in the yearbook, “People – they fascinate me. I haven’t met one yet that didn’t impress me”. Words to live by. I think of her often. I should probably send her a thank you note someday.

Why do I share this? There’s a number of reasons. First of all, what we say matters. Whether we say it out loud, in print, or anywhere on the Internet, our words are making an impact, whether positive or negative. We might not know it. We don’t know the state of mind of every person that is going to read what we type or listen to what we say. We should never lose sight of this. The two incidents I talk about are from decades ago, yet I remember all of these things as if it took place yesterday. My frame of mind is better about all of this, but I still feel the sting. These things, and countless others during my school years, have made a permanent impact on my life experience. Am I better for it? Over 35 years, I can probably say yes, but it took a lot of soul searching, and that very important talk with teacher Karen O’Brien, to keep me going.

When I hear members of Congress calling one another “Communists” or spouting out provable falsehoods just to rile up a crowd I can’t help but think how much negative impact those words are having on the country. When I see people touting things like “Straight Pride” or all the bad things that will allegedly happen to gay people because of who they are, I worry about those that don’t have a Karen O’Brien talking them off a psychological ledge.

I share these things because the distance of time and the subsequent experience of life has safely moved me beyond these negative events in my life. Weirdly, I’m probably a better and stronger person because of them.

Let’s use the right words. Let’s send positive energy into the world. Let’s not use negativity to command a room. Let’s be one of those people that impress others.

Impress each other in a good way.

Sidecat.

Truman has never been one to cuddle. He’ll sleep on the foot of the bed or he’ll situate himself nearby, but unlike other cats I’ve had over the years, he’s not one to get all cuddly with his hooman.

This morning he settled in next to me on the breakfast nook bench as I was eating breakfast. After giving my arm a quick nibble to announce his presence, he cleaned himself up and fell asleep next to me. I was surprised to see him this close.

He likes me to be close by but don’t smother him. If he was a human he probably wouldn’t be much of a hugger.

Bisbee.

So we went on a long road trip. When all was said and done we drove about 410 miles. The farthest south was the Mexican border at Douglas, Arizona. The farthest east was Lordsburg, New Mexico, and the farthest north was Safford, Arizona.

We covered a lot of roadway that went through a lot of rural desert. It was a hoot and a half.

We started out by following Historic US Route 80, which is Arizona State Route 80. US 80 was replaced by Interstate 10 west of mid-Texas, but there’s still plenty of ways to drive the old roadway. ADOT is kind enough to post the route with Historic US Route signs.

I’ve started a small collection of service station uniform shirts. I occasionally wear them when we are on road trips.

Our travels brought us to the former mining town of Bisbee. The area has been rejuvenated as an “arts town”. We stopped for lunch and walked around the quaint downtown. It was a very pleasant experience.

The restaurant was part of a collection of shops in a multi-purpose Art Deco style building. There were knick knacks and doodads from the era.

Overall we had a lovely time. We are really enjoying exploring the desert.