Author Archives: Rick Ladd

About Rick Ladd

Since my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2010, I have spent quite a bit of energy on developing work as a social media marketer for small business, a business manager for an AI software development firm, and as an editor/proofreader for a number of business books and a couple of novels, as well as a two-year return engagement at Rocketdyne from 2015 to 2017. I have decided to stop actively pursuing business in these fields and am now positioning myself to be a writer. I have done quite a bit of writing over the years, but I’ve never really attempted to make any money at it; at least not specifically. I’m starting out with a couple of memoirs and, currently, I’m studying the craft, creating a detailed outline and timeline, and honing my skills as a storyteller. Pretty sure I’ll be writing some fiction as well.

It’s Not Inflation-It’s Greed

I’m old enough to remember paying $0.25/gal back in 1968. Adjusted for inflation that would be $2.10/gal today. Clearly, the petroleum companies are screwing us royally.

PS – This was a first for me (>$100) and it was at Costco, where had can be up to $0.50 cheaper than most anywhere else.


Let’s Try It!

Ever since I encountered Malcolm X’s writings in the 60s, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the phrase “by any means necessary.” I’m reasonably sure what Brother Malcolm was referring to was the right of the Black community to defend itself, violently if necessary, against any and all attacks on their rights.

I’m also pretty sure a lot of people interpret the phrase as a general call-to-arms and an incitement to violence. I beg to differ. I believe the phrase should be interpreted (ironically) literally, i.e. whatever works is what we do if we want to make positive, progressive change in this country.

We have a tool available to us and we don’t use it very effectively. I’m referring to voting. Historically, since the early 20th century, less than half the eligible population has voted in midterm elections. In 2018 it was 50%, for the first time since 1914.

If you don’t think there’s a correlation between voter apathy and the quality of representation we get, I’ve got a Louie Gohmert to sell you.

Voting is a “means” at our disposal. Protests, demonstrations, general strikes are “means” as well, but they’re not mainstream and, therefore, are far more difficult to pull off. The whole damn country votes on (or, thankfully, around) the same day every two years.

I know there are those who say voting doesn’t matter. I’m sure there are plenty of cases in which that’s true, but that doesn’t make it a universal truth. Regardless, when 50% or less of the eligible population bother to vote it’s much easier for a small but organized and cohesive group to take over the governance of your city, county, state, or federal government. Maybe even your HOA!

Please vote. Let’s give it a try. Make sure your friends and family know how important it is. Not just in this upcoming election, but from now on. From The standpoint of availability and feasibility, it’s the most “necessary” means at our disposal. Let’s wield it intelligently.


Top Gun Fitbit

My buddy, Steve, treated me to a screening of Top Gun Maverick on Saturday for my birthday. Ironically, a day or two earlier, in response to a question posed on Twitter asking what fictional death affected me, I commented with a pic of Anthony Edwards as “Goose.” There have been quite a few, but his death in Top Gun really tore me up.

I’m hardly a movie critic, but I’ll offer this. My Fitbit HR5 measures my heart rate (among other things) and “awards” me points for a couple different levels of exertion. Although I was sitting still the entire movie, except for the occasional gulping of beer or munching of buttered popcorn, my tracker recorded about 50 minutes of an elevated heart rate. Make what you will of that.

I recommend the movie, but don’t listen to me. I’m a sucker for fast planes and dogfights — and vicarious emotional scarring.

GOOSE

Viva La Revolución Cubana

May Day in La Plaza De La Revolución

Forty-nine years ago today I had the honor of marching through La Plaza De La Revolución as a member of the 6th contingent of the Venceremos Brigade. I got to listen to Fidel give one of his shorter speeches (only about 2.5 hours, if memory serves.) The USA has been exceptionally cruel to the people of Cuba. They deserve far better, as do we all.


Booster #2 Was a Killer!

Last Thursday (April 28, 2022) I left work a little early to get my second Moderna Booster shot. The nurse who administered the dose told me the 15-minute waiting period that had been observed for all three previous inoculations was no longer mandatory and I chose to go straight home. I only live a couple of minutes away from the Kaiser location here in my home town of Simi Valley, CA., and I have never had a sudden, bad reaction from any vaccine in my nearly 75 years.

Image of syringe and vial saying "Common Sense."
Anti-vaxxers are Idiots

I enjoyed the rest of the day, slept well (my Fitbit tracker and app noted I slept well, giving me a score of 82, which is good, not excellent) and got up at 6:00 am to head off to work. I was fine until about noon, when my body started to ache a little I attributed it to the rather heavy packages I had assembled and loaded into a container to be picked up that afternoon by the USPS. I didn’t think too much of it, though I worried I may have injured myself in a way that would preclude my being able to do my job.

I began feeling uncharacteristically lethargic and my legs felt a little rubbery. Finally, after completing some tasks that needed doing, regardless of how I was feeling, I chose to come home early. When I arrived I was beginning to feel pretty bad, but I still didn’t connect it to the booster I had received the previous day. Friday evenings are normally reserved for a short trip to the gym, then an evening of dinner and craft beer with a couple of friends.

I decided to do something I hardly ever do; take a nap in the afternoon. By 6:30, a half hour before I normally go to the gym, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it and texted my friend and former colleague to let him know I wouldn’t be making it that night. I went back to sleep and, according to my Fitbit, slept for close to twelve hours.

Yesterday was absolutely miserable. I experienced both the chills and cold sweats. I was at times dizzy, nauseous, and had no appetite at all. At one point I experienced a strong sense of dizziness, despite my being nearly asleep and horizontal. When I opened my eyes, the room was shifting back and forth as though I was looking quickly from side-to-side, yet I don’t think my eyes were moving. It was one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever had and I couldn’t help thinking it was a precursor to something I did not want to experience.

My wife, bless her heart, kept trying to get me to eat, but I wasn’t having it. I think I really pissed her off by asking her to leave me alone, that I would eat when my appetite returned. I can understand her worry, as I had slept nearly twelve hours Friday night and hadn’t eaten dinner. I ended up eating nothing all day yesterday and, after sleeping over nine hours last night, I finally had a half cup of coffee, a mini baguette, and a bowl of salad a few minutes ago. I’m still a bit nauseous and still experience dizziness, but it’s subsiding with each passing hour.

I finally got up this morning and am sitting at my laptop in my home office. I was able to do my daily bookkeeping, something I wasn’t the least bit interested in yesterday. I’m also taking the time to record my experience here. My youngest daughter, after asking me how I felt today, asked if I regretted getting the second booster, as I had no reaction from the first one. I told her I regretted that it knocked me down, but not that I received it.

I was diagnosed with Covid-19 on December 29, 2020 and spent the first week of 2021 quarantined in bed, miserable as can be – but I didn’t require hospitalization despite my age and numerous comorbidities. I received my first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine on 3/22/21 and 4/19/21, which was as soon as they were available. I experienced some discomfort and flu-like symptoms both times, but they only lasted a day. When I received the first booster on 11/24/21 I experienced nothing I would consider a side-effect.

I think what happened has to do with how hard I worked on Friday. With all three previous vaccines I was not working and was able to either stay home or stay in bed and was in no way exerting myself for a day or two. This time, however, I was at work climbing, lifting, and walking far more than I was doing before. I’m thinking all that extra effort sped up the internal distribution of the vaccine in my body, and it reacted in a way that I had not truly experienced before.

I plan on getting up tomorrow at 6:00 am and heading off to work. Monday is generally our busiest day and I’ll have lots of lifting and climbing to do. I think I’ll be up to it. That weird-ass feeling I had with my vision happened a couple more times yesterday, but it seems to have subsided. I look forward to discussing it with my doctor when the opportunity arises.


Tuckums

THIS is the guy who’s complaining about the “declining masculinity” of the American male.

THIS GUY. LOL! 🤣🤪😆


Psychedelic Republicans

Unopened, so I’ve never seen what these cards look like.

While cleaning out the remaining drawer from a really nice solid wood dresser I purchased when I was living in Playa del Rey around forty years ago and gave to Aimee to use in her bedroom, I found these. Psychedelic Republicans.

Subtitled “Seriously Groovy Trading Cards”, these cards were distributed in three different packs of 8 cards each. The card fronts show purple-haze inspired altered caricatures, and card backs give parody facts. I’ve never opened them, so I have no idea what most of them look like.

The red pack is Series 1, which contains: George W. Bush, Orrin Hatch, Lynne Cheney, William Rehnquist, Trent Lott, Richard Cheney, Laura Bush, and Colin Powell.

The blue pack is Series 2, which contains: Jesse Helms, Donald Rumsfeld, Antonin Scalia, Rush Limbaugh, Condoleezza Rice, Jeb Bush, Henry Hide, and John Ashcroft.

The yellow pack is Series 3, which contains : Karl Rove, Ann Coulter, Ari Fleischer, Katherine Harris, Clarence Thomas, Pat Robertson, Strom Thurmond, and Dan Quayle.

I found two complete sets offered for sale online for $100. Mine aren’t for sale … yet.


On Comrade Tuckums

I encountered this photo on Twitter today. Call me crazy, but I think Tucker Carlson is the most powerful proof available that, when it comes to issues of meritocracy and fairness in employment, it only matters to a lot of white people when people of color are hired or appointed to positions of respect and value.

Look at how the entire leadership of the Republican Party—at least in the Senate which, ostensibly, is the more deliberative and balanced chamber in Congress—treated Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearings for an appointment to the Supreme Court.

Despite her being the most qualified person EVER in the history of the Court, with the notable exception of three Republican Senators, the entire Republican Senate voted against her being confirmed.

Then we have Tuckums (my favorite name for him, thank you Joy Ann Reid) whose full, working class name is Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson. Tuckums would appear to only be qualified for his position at Fox News due to his bright, shiny whiteness. He’s done absolutely nothing other than bleat out the knuckle-dragging hatefulness that characterizes today’s so-called conservatives.

Comrade Tuckums Carlson
Comrade Tuckums

True to form for a group that has perfected the art of gaslighting and projection, it’s Comrade Tuckums who is the beneficiary of affirmative action; the same kind of affirmative action white folk have been complaining about the decades, all the while benefiting from its unfair application to them and theirs. I’m hopeful someday he will be seen for the fraud he is.


What Are We Afraid Of?

A quote from Howard Zinn regarding the power of the people
Power To The People

This has been my pinned Tweet since last November. I think the concept scares the crap out of most people. We have the power, but lack the organization and, perhaps, the will to use that power. Things will change in a heartbeat if we rise up. The question seems to be, how do we go about doing that? Supporting unions is one way, IMO. Voting can be pretty helpful as well, especially in local and state contests.

Building an economy and a society that uplifts instead of denigrates, that offers real support instead of behind-the-back snickers, and that creates opportunities for all isn’t beyond our reach. It does, however, seem to be beyond our imagination. The biggest bogeyman of my time—the “Red Scare”—is alive and well, and it’s still the biggest impediment to progress, IMO.


Attention to Detail

So, I’m out in the garage polishing some wood boxes and thinking about what I need to do to make this into a functioning workshop. I go to the fridge and take out a can of Stone Brewing’s Tangerine Express Hazy IPA and as I’m opening it I notice something I had not seen before. In fact, I can’t recall ever seeing anyone do what they did.

What I’m referring to is a very small “addition” (by subtraction) they have made to the opening tab on the top of the can. See if you can figure out what I’m talking about from these two pics. I know it’s not exactly earth-shattering or, in the long run, important at all, but I’m nevertheless impressed by their commitment to their brand. I see it as a gesture of respect for their market.


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