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.

Thanks For Nothing, SCE!

Listen!
You can hear the wind howl
And feel it shaking the house
As the dog's quick to growl
And is shushed by my spouse.
Patience!
SCE proactively turned off our power
Last night at 7 was when it went dead
Hoping now in the kitchen the milk doesn't sour
Yet the butter I've found is so easily spread.
Worry!
It's not just the reefer I worry about
It's more than the food that might spoil
It's my iPhone's ability to let me shout out
When its battery gets low on oil.
Resignation.
So I sit here and wait for my phone to go dead
And try to ignore angry thoughts in my head
Cause they told us the power won't be back 'til tomorrow
And I've little to do save to drown in my sorrow.

Thankfully, the power came on an hour or so after I finished writing this and nothing spoiled. We got lucky, IMO.


To The Mall, Then.

I took my kids shopping today. Their mother’s (that would be my wife’s) birthday is in two days and they needed to buy a present for her. It’s kind of frustrating; they either don’t remember or don’t care, depending on how things are going, and I’m horrible at remembering these kinds of things. Nevertheless, I did have it together enough to work out a time and date on which to take them.

Should Have Taken a Photo, But This One Will Do (Shows Just How Empty The Place Was.)

We sort of snuck out of the house so Linda wouldn’t see us leaving, though I’m pretty sure she has a good idea of what we were doing. We headed over to Target, where I thought for sure they’d be able to find something for her. I found a parking space (it was crowded) and told them I would wait in the car until they had picked something out, then they could text me and I’d come in and pay for the item(s) they’d decided on.

Fifteen minutes later I got a text saying they couldn’t find anything, so I told them to come on out and we’d go somewhere else. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many places to go, what with the Covid restrictions tightening because some of us are too stupid to understand science, and too selfish to care about others. We drove to the Simi Town Center, our local, primarily outdoor, mall that has been struggling ever since it opened. We walked around a bit, but just about everything was closed; many of the storefronts were empty.

We finally ended up at Marshall’s, where we had started and my oldest didn’t want to wait in line to get in (we would have been third in line.) When, after walking around for a while, we returned we were sixth in line. Regardless, it didn’t take long and within about 10 minutes we were inside. I knew Marshall’s had, in addition to clothing, lots of decorative and household items and that’s where we looked. We ended up finding a few nice things we’re hopeful she’ll like. I’m thinking she’ll just be happy they got her something.

I’m also happy I remembered. I’ve always had trouble remembering birthdays; I’ve even forgotten mine. Years ago (10 and a half to be pretty close to exact) I posted my thoughts about Facebook making it easier for people like me (maybe “men like me” would be more correct) to recall birthdays but, as I’ve got enough friends that at least one—sometimes three or four—will be celebrating on any given day, I’ve come to the conclusion I just can’t afford doing it each and every day. Relatives and close friends are different, yet I even forget or pass over wishing them a happy birthday. Maybe it’s right; maybe I’m an asshole. I’m not fit to make that call.


The 1984 Olympics

I don’t think I’ve ever shared this photo before; at least not here in Systems Savvy. In 1984 I had a friend whose parents had purchased tickets to the opening ceremonies of the Los Angeles Olympics and to a day of track and field events. This friend’s mother got very sick and they knew they would not be able to attend, so they offered the tickets for sale at face value. That was $200 per ticket for the opening ceremonies. According to this site, in today’s dollars each ticket would have gone for slightly more than $500.00.

So, I was thirty-seven years old and making really good money at the time, and I purchased those tickets and invited my brother to attend on opening day. We headed over to the Memorial Coliseum early, found a place to park and, since we were there early, we managed to find a nice dive bar in which to have a drink prior to entering and finding our seats.

The picture was taken as the final participants, the “home team” as it were, the United States had pretty much entered the venue but was not yet off the track and in place in the field. The Coliseum itself was impressive, as it had been renovated and freshly painted. I believe the Olympic Torch was brought into the Coliseum by Rafer Johnson, who ascended the steps with it to light the flame that burned at the top of that column you can see above the portion in between the two Jumbotrons, one of which showed the name of the nation that was currently entered the field and the other of which showed its flag.

In writing the above paragraph I had to look up and make sure I had spelled Rafer’s name correctly. In doing so I discovered he died four days ago. I don’t recall hearing anything about it. How sad. He was an Olympic Champion. I can’t help but think this is at least in part because a certain someone is constantly sucking up all the oxygen in the country, and the media (for the most part) just keep salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. It causes me to wonder two things: 1. Will they ever learn? 2. Will I live long enough to see it? My suspicion is the answer to both questions is “No.”


Justice Matters – 12/05/20

Here’s another episode of Glenn Kirschner’s informative vlog on the state of our justice system. While I’m not quite as sanguine about how the system is holding up against the assault of Trump and his Zombpublicans, it is heartening to look at how thoroughly the Trump/Giuliani efforts to overturn the election in the courts have been rebuffed.

The concurring opinion Glenn reads and discusses in this episode is, as he points out, especially powerful because the Judge who wrote it was President of his law school’s Federalist Society chapter and comes from a tradition of conservatism. After reading a little about him, and based on the quality of argument in his dissent Glenn discusses here, I’m of the opinion he is more closely allied with the never-Trump wing of conservatism.

In case you’re interested in the actual opinion, I have embedded the official .pdf file issued by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which contains Justice Hagedorn’s consenting opinion. I think it’s worth noting this was a 4-3 decision. I find it a bit frightening there were three justices that though this case had merit. We’re nowhere near out of the woods. Then again, in most respects most of us have never actually been out of the woods given the true nature of our nation’s government and history.


I Most Def Can Tell a Lie!

Most of us know by now that much of the folklore surrounding our nation’s first president is apocryphal, but I suppose there’s some value in hyping those qualities we consider good and valuable. Surely, although it is no doubt untrue, the thought that our preeminent Founding Father was an upstanding, decent, and honest person is useful for setting expectations.

Of course, whatever those expectations had been, they’ve now been essentially torched by the deeply flawed person who has been cosplaying as our president for nearly four years. Donald John Trump is a classless, phony buffoon. That he managed to con tens of millions of people into believing he either cared for them and their lives, or that he was competent enough to actually do anything that would materially improve their lives, does nothing to rehabilitate his reputation as the most dishonest person to ever “serve” in that office.

This graphic was a simple observation I committed to Photoshop as I was learning how to select portions of photos to layer on top of another photo. Nothing spectacular; just a minor statement of reality.


Goya Vey Ist Mir!

I have mentioned before that I have a lot of Photoshop work I’ve yet to share, though I have shared them on Facebook and Twitter; just not here on my blog. So, I thought I would share these two related images. They were, of course, inspired by the Grifty-Family-In-Chief’s professionalism and ability to avoid the appearance of impropriety in their daily lives in the White House and as the Executive function of the United States of America.

Both of these photos were originally used by these two criminals to push products for the Goya label. Frankly, I don’t even remember why (and I’m too lazy and pressed for time to research it right now; maybe I’ll come back to it) but I think it had something to do with the owner or CEO’s support of Trump.


Thoughts on Adoption

The Whole Fam Damily

I haven’t written much about my experiences with adoption, specifically International adoption, because I decided long ago that my daughters’ stories are theirs and to reveal specifics about them is not my place. However, there are some aspects of our journey I feel comfortable about sharing.

When my wife and I decided to adopt, after some research and communication with a couple of friends we knew who had gone through a similar experience, we decided to adopt from the People’s Republic of China. We were quite fortunate to be introduced to an organization that arranged Chinese adoptions, and that organized the entire trip, including working closely with us throughout the process, including translating documents and accompanying us through every necessary step.

When we began the process we also discovered there was a Yahoo group dedicated to those of us who were using this organization, which was called U.S. Asian Affairs. We used it to introduce ourselves to the group and, over time, to learn about the process and the lives, as well as the hopes and dreams, of the other families who had traveled or who we would be traveling with, as well as those who would be adopting subsequent to us.

When we were in China, at the China Hotel in Guangzhou, I spent nearly every free evening down in the sports bar, where they had a couple of computers set up and I could send emails to the group, apprising them of our progress and how were were feeling. I also continued to communicate with others for several years afterward, am still friends with many of those with whom we traveled, and also belong to a Facebook group that kind of took over for the Yahoo group.

Even though I’m no longer using the Yahoo group to communicate, at the beginning of each month approximately ten emails are sent to everyone who’s a member. Of those ten, three are from me. I’d like to share them (I may have shared one or more of them sometime in the past 14 years, but I can’t remember and don’t want to search) here. This first one is from October 12, 2005. Our oldest was a little over four years old and it would be another year before we adopted our second child.

The post was in response to a question another parent had posed, which was “Maybe some of the referrals come with information that stretches the truth, but I think that the act of being placed in our loving arms is not quite as wonderful for these girls as it is for us. Give them time.” Here is my response:

This has to be one of the most important, and profound, statements I have read on China33 in some time. We must, repeat must, remember what these children have experienced. Each of them has had to suffer two major, life-changing upheavals. The first was being separated from their birth mother (no matter the circumstances under which it took place); the second being taken from either a foster family or the only real home they have known.

We have to control the tendency to see our good fortune in finding them as the only interpretation of these events. We must fight against trying to impose our perception of reality on them. I believe the wisest thing we can do is try and understand their lives from their perspective. They may not be able to give voice to it, and their memories are almost always pre-verbal, but that doesn’t negate the powerful emotions these events evoked.

I have watched our Aimee nearly shut down in situations that were similar to the evening she was placed in our arms. A room full of children, adults, noise, and pandemonium. Even an open house at pre-school has greatly unnerved her. However, with every day she has grown a little more secure in our existence as a family and now, at over four years old, she is finding her place and blossoming like we hoped for her.

The most important thing we can give our children is the knowledge not only that they are loved, but also that they are respected. I can’t emphasize this enough. Remember the concept of “walking a mile in their shoes.” By all means, revel in the joy of finally having her in your arms; the ineffable depth of emotion you feel when holding or even just watching her (or him). Just keep in mind that you are the lucky ones. If our children were truly lucky, the conditions leading to their abandonment would not have existed, and they would still be with their birth family.

Remember, one day they will be all grown up, and they will almost certainly be at least curious about why they were separated from their birth family. You will be doing both them and yourselves a great service by keeping that day in mind – always.


Evolution

Another quite simple Photoshop effort, though all this is is a compilation of a quote I’m fond of and a photo of what is referred to as the pillars of creation, located in M16, the Eagle Nebula, over thataway.

The Pillars of Creation

If you study cosmology, and you’re not blinded by any particular religious dogma, it becomes clear that our evolution as a species (the human one) draws a gravity-assisted line from the first hydrogen atoms to who we are now. That we have reached a point in our evolution where we have been able to understand how we and our universe came about and developed over billions of years, I find every bit as awesome as the thought of some bearded white dude thinking us up out of nothing. Actually, I find it more awesome.

Understanding cosmological (read, primarily, stellar) as well as biological evolution is, to me, far more beautiful and compelling than anything I’ve learned from all of the world’s religions, including the one I was raised in (Judaism) and the one I was surrounded by (Christianity). I find it far more compelling and reasonable and, again for me, all the proof I need that we don’t need a “God” or “Gods” to explain how we came to be and where we’re headed.


Trump Channels Saddam

Trump’s Presidential Transition Efforts

Nothing says you truly love your country quite like working overtime to destroy every shred of cooperation and comity, essentially implementing the Iraqi policy following their withdrawal from Kuwait in 1991.

This is a simple meme I put together with Photoshop recently. Each day that passes since the election, Trump and his administration prove repeatedly how little they care for the nation they pretend to serve.

I’ve not seen anything even slightly similar to what’s going on, even as I compose this post. Trump is anything but a patriot; in fact, I would offer he’s engaging in sedition, if not treason. He’s certainly acting like a domestic terrorist.

Can’t wait ’til he’s gone. He is the absolute worst president in the history of the United States. Hands down!


A Little Love For The Eagles

Glen Frey and Joe Walsh

My first memory of The Eagles is from 1972, the year they released their debut album, Eagles. I can remember the first time I actually listened to the words of “Peaceful, Easy Feeling.” I was living with my brother, my best friend, two close family friends, and the brother of one of those friends in two small, suburban houses in North Hollywood, California.

I had returned to SoCal from a year or so living mostly in the Bay Area; Berzerkeley to be exact . . . for most of the time, and I had been healing from the damage a licentious lifestyle can do to one’s body. I had a used VW Bug and, at the time, my brakes were shot and I had to drive slowly and with a great deal of forethought to what was occurring ahead of me (my parking brake worked OK, so a combination of paying close attention, down-shifting, and parking brake application did the trick for a couple of weeks, until I could afford to get the brakes fixed.

Eagles – Debut Album Cover 1972

I had already become a committed Feminist and was deep into educating myself and the five young men I was living with of the righteousness of supporting women’s equality (along with other forms of combating injustice.)

I was driving my VDub when the song came on the air. Given my precarious brake situation, I always attempted to drive down streets I knew were quiet and seldom had much traffic, so I was driving lazily down a mostly empty street and enjoying the music on my radio. It was the second verse that caught my attention:

“I found out a long time ago, what a woman can do to your soul. Aw, but she can’t take you any way you don’t already know how to go.”

Peaceful Easy Feeling – Eagles 1972

When I heard the first sentence I remember thinking, “Shit! Here we go again. Men blaming women for their troubles. Crap!” Then I heard the second sentence and was relieved to learn they had inserted a bit of honesty into the observation. I felt much better about how much I enjoyed their music.

One of those friend/roommates of mine went on to become the road accountant for the Eagles for a few of their world tours. He and I were living together in Van Nuys and I recall him being out on the road quite a bit with them. He also toured with Boz Scaggs, Toto, and later on became part of Billy Joel’s entourage for perhaps a decade. He did well, retired young. He also ended up getting sued by Billy at the behest of (as I was told) Christie Brinkley, who believe he had been taken advantage of by his management company, of which my friend was a member.

He was very hurt by the accusations and, fortunately, the case never went anywhere because if was based on the same kind of evidence we’ve lately seen being used by Rudy Giuliani in his epoch attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 General Election.

I’ve long been a fan of the Eagles’ music, but I’m not a “fan” of anyone. I’ve been around fame a bit. Growing up near Hollywood has that effect on most of us; we run into celebrities just going about our lives. I learned early to leave them alone and to respect their privacy.

I have friends who follow the careers of several people they admire and whose work they enjoy . . . closely. I don’t do that with anyone. However, music is something I enjoy and I found the music and lyrics of The Eagles deeply compelling. Since I’ve not paid much attention to their lives, other than listening to their music, I was completely unaware that Glen Frey’s son, Deacon, as well as Vince Gill, had joined the band. Below is a link to a video of a show they did in Atlanta.

It’s a little over two hours and I haven’t listened to all of it yet, but I’m familiar with every one of the songs with the possible exception of “Those Shoes” and “Walk Away.” This is kind of a way for me to save the video for any time I feel like listening to one or more of my fave tunes.

I have to add that seeing Glen’s son, Deke, perform in his place brought a tear or three to my eyes. I’ve always been somewhat of a softie (even wrote about it here, and here) and, it seems, as I am getting older and contemplating the end (which I’ve also written somewhat extensively about) I find myself feeling the loss of people who have entertained and/or enlightened me—especially if they’re younger than me—more painfully than I used to experience such things.

The video also has links below which will take you directly to whatever song you wish to watch/listen to. Keep in mind, as well, this was clearly recorded by a fan and the quality is not what you would expect from a well-produced, high quality production. It’s quite serviceable, however. Enjoy! I sure do/did.


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