Friday, November 30, 2012

Working for the man every night and day

Today was a happy day.

It's also been a very long day. I volunteered for the first generator standby shift, which means my workday pretty much goes from 7am to 12:30am. The upshots are that I get a day's pay at x1.5, but even better, I get tomorrow off. Three day weekend!

I'm sitting in the freight entrance because it's the only place in the building with heat. If I have to turn one of the main switches on, I get to wear the flash suit. Whenever I do (and of course everything is OK,) I make a point of saying (in my Marvin Martian voice,) "Where's the kaboom???" Fortunately for everyone, like all my jokes, this never gets old.

What does get old is having to sit and meditate in a port-a-potty when it's freezing cold. I can't decide which I hate more, having to take an old-fashioned sit-and-think in a port-a-potty when it's freezing at night, or during a hundred degree day in August. Why choose? I can be an equal opportunity hater.

I'm in the sub basement now. It's 11:17. The new water pumps aren't working right. Every once in a while they ask me to check the amperage. I have not been asked to play with the control wiring - yet.

Yay, I'm out of here. Happy days, my friends.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday Thursday...

I went to the East Village last night to hear an old high school friend (Jen Starr-Talsmat) perform some old jazz standards. I haven't heard her sing since she and my sister Elena were in Harmony Trix in the nineties. It makes me feel good to see my friends living their dreams.

Advertisements fail to mention that while 4G is as fast as wi-fi, it also sucks your battery quicker than a vampire who's cheating on a diet at 5:59 in the morning.

Waiting at the front end of the subway platform with the majority of the other riders so we can all cram into the front of the E. This is so we can all be next to the giant escalator at 53/Lex to change to the 6. A woman bobbing her head to music blasting in her headphones just ripped one out. She looked around for a second before resuming her bobbing. Sorry lady, but just because your headphones drowned out the sound of your gas for you, it doesn't mean they did for the rest of us.

Oy, I finished the Doctor Who audio "Dark Eyes" last night and forgot to download a new one. I always felt bad for Paul McGann, since he only got to be Doctor for one television episode. Still, he does a phenomenal job on audio.

Sigh, I need to figure out how to find intrinsic joy in this job again.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cerebral Oddities

It's cold and dark this morning. What do I expect, it's almost December. I'm still working downtown. At least I'm inside, though the smell of the sub basement is horrible. They say they've tested the air, but that was a week ago. It reeks like rotten eggs. I'm happy to be working, not happy to be cold, filthy, and in the gloom all the time. Sigh, enough of the pity party, I'm happy to be able to bank some cash, though I have no idea how long this will last.

Something bizarre happened last night. I had a slew of depressing dreams, then woke at about two in the morning. I lay in bed, full of worries (job, health, kids, friends, feeling trapped) and I imagined I was talking to The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) as if he were my therapist. I fell asleep and this became a dream. He interrupted me and said "Don't you remember? You set the game to "I am death incarnate" for the challenge. Just change the settings to "please don't hurt me." (These were the difficulty settings for Duke Nukem 3D, if I remember.) A sense of happiness and peace flooded over me. I relived my previous dreams, and this time, though not exactly happy, they were hopeful. The thing of it is that what gave me the sense of peace wasn't "changing the difficulty setting," it was the knowledge that I had chosen it myself.

Isn't the brain weird?


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Boldly Going Forward...

I read an article recently about a proposed warp drive. The idea is that if space/time can be distorted in front and behind a vessel, it could be propelled faster than the speed of light. This is a practical but boring solution. Douglas Adams came up with the Infinite Improbability Drive (change the laws of probability so that something as improbable as faster-than-light travel can be probable,) and Harry Harrison had his bloater drive (stretch the ship like a rubber band, and when the nose has reached its destination, relax it forward in the same direction.) I've had some ideas in the same vein:

The Perception Drive: This one is the easiest: convince the astronauts that they have achieved light speed. If they're sufficiently sure of it, then objective reality won't matter.

The Escort Drive: Einstein once noted that a second on a hot stove feels like an eternity, while an hour with a beautiful woman can go by in a second. Therefore, if the ship is co-habitated by your dream woman (or man, if that's your thing) relative time will pass instantaneously.

The Alternate Universe Burn: The problem with faster than light travel is that the faster you go, the more your mass increases. Therefore, more and more energy is required to accelerate. Pushing an object past light speed would require more energy than is available in the entire universe. However - if, as quantum physics suggests, we live in a multiverse of uncollapsed possibilities, those infinities of universes with alternate outcomes could be burned as fuel, making faster than light travel possible. The downside is that there's always the possibility of astronauts in another reality burning up this one.

Any others?


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gobble Gobble

Good morning. I'm getting up in a few minutes, then I have to hop in the shower and cattle prod the younglings awake. We have to go through Brooklyn and Staten Island instead of Manhattan because of the parade, so I want to go as early as possible, at the butt-crack of dawn.

Speaking of the parade, I hope they take out Elmo and bring back Underdog.

I go to bed exhausted and with my muscles feeling like they've been wrung out to dry, but I'm too tired and too lost in my thoughts to sleep. I really need these next few days to recuperate. Actually, I need one of those wacky inventions from Muppet Labs, like a machine to give me a massage. (Then it would just do something bizarre and make it rain, or something like that.)

I hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving. You are a good person, and you make this world a better place. Thank you for caring, thank you for being here.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Can't Believe I Made It!

Thanksgiving is almost upon us! Today is going to be short, only eight hours. I have so much to be thankful for. It's been a good life. I have good friends and family, I've had dreams come true. Maybe I even made one or two come true, who knows? But there is one thing above all others, something I get up every morning, fall to my knees, and give thanks for: The fact that somehow I - and my entire generation - survived the '70s and '80s without disclaimers in commercials.

We watched animated toys... and somehow... we did not think the toys were real. There was no subtitle on the bottom to tell us, we just... knew. It's so frightening that we were trusted to use our own judgement. No one warned us that post-production tricks such as speeding up or slowing down the film did not mirror reality. But against all odds, we coped. And when we reached adulthood, there was - for a brief time - a point when we did not have to be warned that commercials with cars flying through the air across pits of flaming vipers used professional drivers on closed courses.

How did we survive without being warned that commercials are "dramatizations"? Every day, I am thankful that I made it through the early '90s without assuming drinking beer would magically make scantily clad bimbos appear. My brain might have imploded from the disappointment. But worst of all were the De Beers ads. I was young, I was impressionable... I came so close to buying a diamond, thinking it would transform me into a silhouette - hopefully with the ability to cloud men's minds. If only there had been a disclaimer!

May your weekend be full of happiness, Turkey, and shopping. Me, I'm looking forward to whupping my parents and little sister in pinochle. Peace out.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just One More Straw

What is wrong with people? I came across this article about a man who committed suicide after the recent election, scrawling "Fuck Obama" across his will. Most of the comments on this page and on similar pages reporting this story are obsessed with the political connotations. The kindest ones say they feel sorry for his family, but what do you expect when people fall for the hysteria of the GOP? 

Jesus Christ people, no one commits suicide because of an election, the same way kids don't kill each other because of video games, and people don't scream at retail workers because a book is not on sale. They do it because they're hurting so much they can't figure out how to stop hurting. It's a horrible thing that devastates those left behind. Many times the surviving family members can't even discuss it because their own pain is too great. 

Depression is a very real thing. Some people deal with it every day. They manage to stay strong for everyone else on the outside while on the inside they're being torn apart. Such people deserve love, compassion, help, support, and admiration for their strength. And those who couldn't bear it any longer deserve understanding and respect, not obsession over thier political slant.

"Be excellent to each other."



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ye Gods!

So here I am, lying in bed again, except this time it's Saturday morning. My arms and legs feel like someone has wrung them out like soggy towels. I spent yesterday in the financial district dragging cables for a generator down Broad Street and carrying the ends up ladders over and over. At least my back is OK.

The radiator next to my head is gurgling. I keep thinking it's raining.

I'm going to grow my goatee back for Movember - or does that have to be just a moustache? I think I'll just keep it forever, then. One day Doctor Who will need someone to play the Master again. I want to be ready.

So much to do today, so little I want to. Thanksgiving is coming. I am thankful for the friends and family who love and support me. I'm glad others have those who give love and support when they need them.

Today is the day of the Roman god Saturn. Before that it was the day of the Greek Titan Chronos. I'm surprised they were never renamed for Christians. Saturn was a god of prosperity, so I guess it will be a good day. I'm going to go offer up some crops.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gay Marriage - the Bane of Alien Prudes

So I'm trying to figure out this whole gay marriage thing - or rather, the uproar against it.

Let's start by saying I'm agnostic, which means I have no idea if god exists, and if he / she / it does, what the deal is. But it seems to me that a universally accepted truth amongst religious people is that god created everything and everyone. So why would he create people to be gay if being gay is evil and wrong? Does he just want people to spent their life torn and tortured? Isn't love supposed to be a good thing? I just don't understand the logic behind it, and in addition to the capacity for love, god gave us a capacity to think.

OK, the Bible says homosexuality is wrong. So what? It also says the Sun goes around the Earth. The nearest thing I can figure is that it all comes from the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. Just for fun, let's take the Erich von Däniken apporach and assume that the angels in that story were actually aliens. What if a ship of sexually repressed aliens came down to Earth, went to visit the old-testament equivalent of San Fransico, and some guys tried to get it on with them? The cosmic prudes got pissed off and nuked Sodom and Gomorrah off the face of the Earth, stopping briefly to turn a poor old lady into salt just out of spite. Ancient man makes a bible story out of it, and gay marriage becomes evil. Just think about it. If only the aliens were a little more comfortable with their own sexuality, we'd have gay marriage today, no problem. Hell, gerbil love might even be mainstream.

I have to admit, I've always been confused by homosexuality, because it makes evolutionary sense that we would want to procreate the species. But what if gayness is actually a natural social defense against overpopulation, keeping the sex drive going in the gene pool without filling up the planet with even more mouths to feed? Maybe god even had a hand in making that happen.

Something to think about. Either way, for fucks sake, love your children, whatever their preferences are.


PS - Google - fix your damn comment-spam filter. It's annoying.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lying here under the covers, getting ready to venture once more into the Bronx tomorrow. It's cold. When I was a kid I loved being cold. I imagined that was my super power, being able to survive any coldness. Now I just want a little goddamn warmth and sun.

Last night I dreamt I was engaged to a goldfish.

Years seem to go by faster and faster. I had a long talk with Jeff, one of my best friends, today. I don't know when he became a wise person, it was like talking with Yoda. When we were in high school we used to go to movies, then sit in his car in my driveway and talk for hours. Friends like that are rare.

I need to get my sleep. Wishing everyone well out there. Sweet dreams. Of goldfish.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

IF: Tree

Please click the image for higher resolution.

The Illustration Friday word this week is Tree. This was an idea I had for an animation, sort of like a short version of Fantasia. I have so many ideas and so little time. Here is a pencil test from an earlier scene. Enjoy!


Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm watching Adventure Time with Joe and Amanda. Her tonsillectomy that was planned for tomorrow had to be rescheduled. I'm happy to be working, but not happy about being reassigned to the Bronx. I'm not looking forward to trudging a mile from the subway to the job with all my tools on my back. I had a three day weekend but all I wanted to do was sleep. It's very easy for me to fall pray to seasonal affective disorder.

I recorded my lines for Harry Strange today. I found a great tip online, to make a microphone pop filter from a nylon stocking stretched over a coat hanger. It worked amazingly well.

Is Simon Jones the voice on the new Time Warner Cable commercial?

The new Adventure Time episode has started. If you had one wish, what would it be?

I just woke from a dream. I was on a space ship, and it had been on the verge of destruction. The other astronaut and I were best friends. We were the last of the human race. We made it to different life pods. We made it off the ship before it exploded, but blasted out in different directions. Our only hope was that somewhere nearby was an alien race that would rescue us. We only had a day of air left. I was desperate to steer my pod back towards my friend, so that no matter what, we could keep talking in the darkness.

Going back to sleep now.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

I'm watching Spongebob with Mandy. I would take the kids to my parents to get them out of the apartment, but they still don't have power. I've been moved to another emergency job in the Bronx. I hope they're not twelve hour shifts and they have heat. I have to record my lines for Harry Strange today, I wish I could be there in person, but Georgia is a bit of a schlep. Maybe I'll take the kids to see Wreck it Ralph tomorrow. I haven't been able to spend more than an awake hour a day with them all week. I don't know how long these emergency jobs are going to last, I just have to make what I can while I can.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

We'll eat a lot of broccoli and drink a lot of beer.

I'm completely pooped. When I got out of the subway at 8:30 tonight, there was a line for the bus going around the block. I walked two miles in the storm on sidewalks that weren't shoveled. I passed three buses that were broken down on the way. A livery cab pulled over and charged me $10 for the third mile. I know he gouged me, but it was worth it.

I can't beleve that in a few hours, I'll be forty. Actually, in ten hours, I was born at 8:20, more or less. I think that's what it was... When I was young, there was a plaqe on my wall with my date of birth and time - it had a porceline baby in blue pajamas (with a cute bare butt sticking out of the rear-flap, of course.)
Some parts of my life have been sad, but there was a lot of happiness in it that I'm thankful for always. I'm halfway up to my father's age, and I have children of my own. There's so much unexpected joy I never would have imagined would happen. Life is a beautiful thing. I've been lucky to have family and friends that I could believe in and look up to. Thank you for being in my life. You are good.

Here's to the next 400.



Good morning my friends. I'm on the bus right now, blasting Dethklok in my earbuds. I'm thrilled to be working again, not that thrilled to be working twelve hour shifts in a filthy flood-damaged hospital without any heat. (The fact that the clean up crew wears environmental protection suits including respirators is also less than encouraging.) But I know there are so many people who are enduring no power or heat 24/7 right now, so what right do I have to kvetch? And now there's a North Easterner on it's way... oy.

It's frightening how much affect sleep can have on depression. There are times I've gone to bed feeling like my heart was trying to turn itself inside out, and I woke in the morning feeling bright and peppy. Being responsible for my own feelings is such a bitch - I can be very irresponsible at times.

Hey look, the good cop won!


Monday, November 05, 2012

"I'm back... and I'm beautiful!"

I'm on the train back to New York after spending half the day with some friends in Pennsylvania. The union called me at 5:15 pm to tell me they have a job for me tomorrow. Although no details were given, I'm assuming it's some sort of emergency work due to The Wrath of Sandy. I'm thankful to be going back, but I wish it had been on a day that I wasn't out of state. I'm feeling some anxiety and apprehension. I'll have time for a quick shower and a once-over of my tool bag when I get home before I crawl into bed. But it will be good to have something to focus on and feel like a useful human being again, even if just for a little while.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

I want to lie shipwrecked and comatose...

Today was a good day. I volunteered with New York Cares again, working in a kitchen and serving food to needy seniors in midtown. I'm always in awe at how, even though most of them are homeless, some of them dress up in the best clothes they have when coming to a kitchen on a Sunday; patched dresses and suits with tattered lapels that are threadbare but as neat as possible. They're holding on to their pride and dignity even though life has treated them like a baby treats its diaper. What right do I have to complain about anything?

Many of them are very proud of their age. They want to talk with you and tell you how they're eighty-six or ninety. It's a badge of honor. Some are easy-going, some demand more applesauce, some will tell you their life story in Spanish even if you don't understand it. Like most of us, they just want someone to listen.

The woman I was partnered with in the kitchen wanted to talk about the upcoming election all morning. I don't know, I just don't care right now. It all seems to me to be such a good-cop / bad-cop game. So much is going on I just feel numb to it. It's funny, because I used to argue politics all the time. Priorities change, I guess.

Here comes the rye twist: After I left, a man in a yellow kasaya approached me on my way back to the F train. He handed out a token with an image of Buddha on it and offered me "The gift of peace." He then handed me a little book and asked would I put my name in the book of peace? I said sure. I wrote "Tony" and "NY" for my address. Then he pointed to the last column and said "Donation?" I handed him back the token and apologized for not having any cash (that was a lie, black karmic mark.) "Anything?" he said "Five, ten dollars?" I just shook my head and smiled and he took his token back. Did I wipe out this weekend's good deeds of choice by not doing one for the sake of guilt? Possibly, but as the saying goes, at least when I go to hell, I'll know most of the people there.

I'm going to bed soon. I spent the evening the usual way, playing Civ with the kids and watching Red Dwarf. I'm very proud of Mandy, she has the song almost down pat. Next we'll have to work on the Black Adder theme.


Saturday, November 03, 2012

Those icy fingers up and down my spine

7:00 am - I didn't get much sleep last night, I kept waking every hour. I woke at 5:40 when my alarm went off. It never ceases to amaze me how my mind works. If I wake in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (not the reason I kept waking, just for the record) I get up and do it. But when my alarm goes off and Louis Prima sings "That Old Black Magic," I have to struggle with everything in my soul not to hit the snooze button and slip back into numbing blackness for just a few more minutes.

12:45 pm - On the M back to Flushing. The Manhattan bound F was packed to the gills this morning. I shudder to think what the week is going to be like. I spent the morning with City Harvest, giving out produce to hurricane victims and the otherwise needy in Astoria. It was a nice day for it, being outside. It's simultaneously hard and inspiring to see people keep going when they've lost so much.

9:06 pm - Watching Adventure Time with Mandy. I'm volunteering some more tomorrow, but I don't have to get up as early. Here's hoping everyone's going to church and doesn't need to get to Manhattan at the same time as me. Goodnight. 



I'm lying in bed, the reassuring hum of the a/c fan buzzing at my feet. I've always had a thing about brown noise when I sleep. When I was in the army, I used to lie in bed and pretend I was on a spaceship, and the hum of the fan was the engines. Housing is turning off the fans for the winter on Monday, so I'll have to use my laptop's noise machine.

I've given up on pretending I'm on a spaceship.

I spent an hour on the phone trying to get JCPL to go to my parents and connect power back to their house. Family friends who are electricians rushed over and replaced their broken meter pan. (Unfortunately I don't have a New Jersey license.) However, the township has to inspect it before JCPL will hook up the power, so my parents have to stay in the dark at least until Monday. I'm thankful they have good friends and neighbors to care for them.

It's late and I have to get up early. Wish me luck with the MTA tomorrow.