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Category Archives: Personal

Facing The Abandonment Issue

In September of 2002, nearly four months after my 55th birthday, I became a father for the first time in my life. I was in China with Linda, who would later take me as her husband, to adopt our Aimee. Actually, since we weren’t married she had to adopt as a single mother and I was sort of along for the ride, though I was all in.

As part of the process, I had joined a Yahoo chat group especially for parents and prospective parents adopting in China. I also joined a group led by internationally adopted adults who were willing to share their experiences, as well as their admonishments.

I was very active for a while and what follows is one of my posts (from October of 2005) that is still being shared every month with prospective parents of Chinese children being adopted by people in the U.S.:

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Gosh, Gordon. You ask such simple questions. My heart truly aches (along with my head) contemplating what our children will eventually deal with as they grow older and their ability to understand matures and develops.

I agree with you, in that we can’t possibly settle the abandonment issue for them. As you say, they own it and we, at best, are innocent bystanders. (I won’t even discuss on this list what “at worst” might be for fear of provoking a firestorm of protest.) What I think we can do is respect them enough to let them take the lead, by becoming loving, attentive listeners. As they gather experiences and come to realizations about the meaning of their lives, we need to be there for them; nonjudgmental, understanding, and supportive. It doesn’t hurt to read about the experiences of adult adoptees (from their own mouths – or fingers) and their parents.

Even then, we have no guarantee they will be able to answer their own questions, or resolve the issues (real or perceived) they will deal with. As you know, I have been following the discussions on IAT for some time now. It has changed how I view my role as an adoptive parent and, at times, I find myself somewhat uncomfortable with it. I consider the discomfort part of my growing process for, as you also know, it isn’t stopping Linda and I from returning to adopt another child.

I know you and Patti well enough to believe you will give it everything you’ve got (and maybe a little more) to do right by your children. If you haven’t already, you might want to read Cheri Register’s book “Beyond Good Intentions: a Mother Reflects on Raising Internationally Adopted Children.” I hope others will contribute to this thread. I think it’s important to understand these issues as early as possible, preferable before one travels to China.

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“Daddy, I See Fat People”

I wanted to check out the new Black Bear Diner here in Simi, so I took Alyssa there for lunch today. I had checked out their menu and was a bit blown away by how calorious most items were, but knowing they serve cinnamon roll French toast kinda tugs at my very raison d’etre.

Unfortunately, when we arrived, it appeared the parking lot was full and there were lots of people waiting outside. Alyssa, who isn’t exactly shy, noted that all the people waiting appeared to be considerably overweight. She did not want to eat there, as she’s long been concerned with eating healthy and wants to eat more of a plant-based diet.

We ended up eating Vietnamese food at the Bamboo Cafe. She had chicken with lemongrass over vermicelli. She struggled with the veggies, but I admire her doggedness. As for me, I’m definitely heading there for breakfast soon. I’ve got to try that cinnamon roll French toast, probably with a side of bacon . . . and coffee, of course.


The Fifth Beatle

I’ve been getting more and more comfortable with Photoshop’s many editing tools, chief among them layers, cloning, blending, and various level adjustments.

I find politics, especially the clowns in the Trump administration, wonderful subjects for my efforts. For instance, recently the Attorney General, William Barr, responded to a question about whether or not he was worried about his legacy with the following:

“I am at the end of my career. Everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?”

Aside from his use of the filler “you know” four times in one sentence, I was stuck with the thought, “is he being stoic or nihilistic?” I’m still not sure, but the statement reminded me of a song by George Harrison. I found a pic of the album cover, researched then downloaded the proper font, and tweaked the cover like so:

I think he looks appropriately unconcerned, don’t you?


Prayer For The Pissant

In response to Franklin Graham’s call for prayer for Donny 2Scoops, I offer the following, inspired by the accompanying cartoon.

Here’s my prayer for Trump today:

Oh, God! Please make it so. Then tie him up, attach an anchor, and hoist him overboard. That’s my plea, Lord.

(R)amen.


Angst Was The Right Word!

I’ve started blogging again here at Systems Savvy and needed to do some research on my history doing so. I came across the following blog post on another, now defunct blog site, The Cranky Curmudgeon, which I wrote on October 29, 2008. I entitled it “Talk About Your Angst!” I forgot I wrote it and I’m somewhat amazed that my characterization of the Bush admin sounds quite similar to my characterization of the Trump admin. We’re doing something wrong . . . bigly!

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Barack Obama Makes a point during debate with John McCain

Well, here we are . . . what is it? . . about six days out from what I’m thinking is the most important election of my lifetime. Any election involving Nixon, Reagan, or either of the Bush gangster family was, of course, important, but this one – whew! After eight years of so thoroughly screwing up everything they touched, I am on pins and needles waiting to see if we get a brand new start at fixing things, or if we get something possibly worse than George Bush.

I think I need to explain something too. Although I take the position George Bush and his administration screwed up everything they touched, I think it’s important to note they did exactly what they had planned to do all along. The failures were not truly failures, as they fit into the general plan. Don’t think for one moment these criminals weren’t working toward the dream so famously articulated by Grover Norquist when he said his goal was to shrink government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

I have no doubt that is exactly what has been going on, especially when government means services for the people, as opposed to handouts for the well-connected. We have witnessed the most massive re-distribution of national wealth, certainly in my lifetime. Now, perhaps, we can see some of that bleeding stanched.

Six more days! I am on pins and needles. We so desperately need to take this nation in another direction; to back away from the arrogant unilateralism and the move toward the so-called “unitary executive”; the use of torture and the spying on our own citizens; and the outright flaunting of the Constitution when it serves the narrow interests of the administration.

Obama has created one of the flattest campaign organizations ever, thanks in large part to his team’s understanding and use of information technology. Let’s see if they can translate this knowledge into a new politics of engagement and involvement . . . and – dare I say – democracy.


Growing Old, Buck Buck

I’ve been blogging now for at least 13 years. My first post on this blog was on January 8, 2008. Prior to that, I had a Blogger presence I called The Cranky Curmudgeon, where I mostly vented about things that pissed me off and that I thought might piss off others as well. Those posts still exist. You can find the first of them, which I posted on February 23, 2006, right here. Some of them I reposted here in “Systems Savvy.” Prior to that I had another site on Blogger called “A Muse Me”. I can find the reason I said I was starting the blog, but I can’t find any posts and I have no recollection of writing—or deleting—any of them.

I had many reasons for blogging. Prior to starting my own blog, I was blogging internally at Rocketdyne and wanted to test my voice outside the firewall. When I retired in 2010, I realized there weren’t very many people my age who were active bloggers. I reckoned, in addition to offering my thoughts on Systems Thinking, social media for business, religion, and lots of politics, I thought I might shed some light on what it’s like as one ages and approaches the end of life. Not in the way folks have blogged about their terminal disease (as I don’t yet have one), but rather about the aging process when one can only guess at how it’s going to go . . . and the evidence keeps changing as time rolls by.

People who have followed this blog site for a while no doubt know that I have had surgery to have a melanoma removed from my lower back, as well as a few lymph nodes taken from my arm pit and my groin. I spent an awful lot of time out in the sun as a boy and young man, when the only thing anyone wore for protection from it was zinc oxide. When I used to surf we put it on our noses and lower lips. Otherwise it was things like Coppertone or baby oil with iodine in it. We were enamored with being tan, which meant we were “fit”. Little did we know just how damaging being out in the sun so frequently was.

When my family used to go for three and four-day weekends to Palm Springs, which was generally the only kind of vacation we got, I would invariably get a really bad sunburn on my shoulders and back, which required me to wear a t-shirt in the water for the rest of the time we were there. I remember my skin peeling in sheets and thinking how cool it looked, never realizing the damage I was doing to myself.

Fast forward to today. I was going to start this post off by using the term “chicken skin” because that’s what I thought people called what happens to human skin when one reaches a certain age and it becomes a bit parchment like. It’s also referred to as crepe skin. I am fortunate in that, even at almost 72, I have virtually no wrinkles on my face. I do, however, have a lot of wrinkles and other weird things happening to my arms . . . especially my arms, probably because they’ve received more sunlight over the years than any other part of me.

I mentioned this to my dermatologist and he said it’s just normal, aging skin. Nevertheless, the transformation is something I find fascinating, especially when viewed at through the magnification available with my iPhone XR. Below are two photos. Actually one is an enlargement from the other. I was sitting in my car, waiting for my younger daughter to get out of school when I took this pic of my arm. I actually used the magnifier, took the pic at the high magnification level, then pinched out to the whole photo, both of which I saved to my phone. Note the first one looks pretty normal, at least for a man of my age. Yes, it’s a bit wrinkly, sports a few freckles and moles, and may be a bit dry, but still pretty normal.

This second one, however, is (for me) a mind blower, especially when you look at my skin in juxtaposition to the cloth of the shirt I’m wearing. BTW – this is an enlargement of the inner elbow from the above photo. Even looking at my arm as I’m writing this, it doesn’t look anything like it does in this enlargement. I think it’s a combination of the magnification and the angle of the light hitting my skin. I still can’t get over how weird it looks, though.

So . . . any of you out there who read this and are in your thirties, forties, or fifties, here’s something really exciting for you to look forward to. You’re welcome!


They Grow So Fast!

Last weekend was my oldest daughter Aimee’s final dance recital in High School. Our local paper did a nice little feature, and that’s her in the very front of the line of ballerinas. She’s been doing pointe for at least her Senior year. I can’t believe she’s graduating in about three weeks. Frankly, I’m not handling this transition all that well right now.

Our Aimee’s Final Ballet Performance

I lost—and grieved over—the relationship we had when we adopted Alyssa, who required so much attention, and it was exacerbated by Aimee’s quiet nature. Part of me fears we’ll never be close (typing these words nearly brings me to tears). I’ll get over it, but there’s a part of me that worries I haven’t really been a good parent and it’s too late to do anything about it. Another part of me thinks I’m being silly, but it’s not helping right now. Hopefully, it’s just the gloomy weather that’s affecting me.

I posted this on Facebook and got quite a lot of wonderful replies, most of them assuring me that most, if not all, parents feel inadequate and many recounted stories of their own experiences with their children. I’m grateful for the friends I have on Facebook, many of whom are also friends IRL. Quite a few of them were with us when we adopted both our girls, so they have a special connection to us. In responding to some of them, I offered another picture of Aimee, which I think is gorgeous (as is she). I’m including it here as well. Both photos were taken with my iPhone XR, without flash, which was prohibited during the performance. They’re not close to being HiRes, but they’re serviceable.

Modern Jazz (or Something Like That)

The Irony is as Thick as the Karma

Venceremos Brigade-FBIWhen I returned from a two-month working journey to Cuba in 1973, the FBI showed up at my door with questions about my trip. I had been a member of the sixth contingent of the Venceremos Brigade, and a small part of my education for the trip was the admonition to politely refuse to speak with them, which is what I did.

It was a short, pleasant conversation. I told them I wasn’t going to answer any questions and they asked me if I was sure. I said “yes” and they said “have a nice day” and left. That was it.

My years of activism had brought me to the attention of many law enforcement agencies, chief among them the LAPD and the FBI.

All to say, there’s been little love lost between me and these organizations . . .

Yet I’m really looking forward to what James Comey has to say.


The Nothingburger Memo And Disappointment

After a couple weeks of breathless anticipation, endlessly hyped by Trump TV . . . er . . . Fox News, the ballyhooed Nunes memo was finally released, creating a giant thud as it fell flat on its face. After all the buildup and breathless hyperbolating over it being set to expose the worst scandal in United States history, it was a real let down, though you wouldn’t know that by the response of the Knucklehead-in-Chief or his band of merry sycophants.

As I have mentioned before, I’ve been spending time learning how to use Photoshop to create my own renditions of the news or other things that catch my fancy. I’ve got two of them related to this debacle. One I created is based on an earlier “confrontation” where something Mueller had done was written off by the right as a “nothingburger”. I’m afraid I can’t quite remember what that something was, but I obviously reacted to it. I didn’t do much; merely found a great shot of a hamburguesa tremenda, then added some words.

The second one took a bit more work as I had to create a series of layer masks to represent what I envisioned. Generally, I put these together, then post them to Facebook and, at times, to Twitter as well. I’m working on remembering to post them here too.

Here they are, with added captions.

NothingBurger

Wrap Your Mouth Around This Puppy

The Memo

Jerky is Such a Disappointment When You’re Expecting a Thick, Juicy Steak


Cheetolini Hard at Work

As I believe I’ve mentioned before, I’m teaching myself Photoshop. As far as I can tell, one of the most important things to understand and use is layers. This is one of my first creations where I was beginning to understand how to use layers to change pictures in both large and small ways.

May years ago I worked at a silk screen shop. Silk screening required the creation of (as I recall) four separate screens (layers) in order to create the colors of whatever poster was being printed. Those colors were the primary ones: Red, blue, and yellow . . . as well as black. If the poster called for orange, then the area to be that color was open on both the red and the yellow screens. Same thing for green, purple, brown, etc.

The thing I remember most about working there (I was in my very early twenties) was coming home higher than a kite at times. This was because we used a lot of toluene as a solvent for creating and cleaning the screens. There were days when I breathed in a lot of that stuff. There were no requirements to wear masks and I don’t think there were many, if any, regulations in place regarding adequate ventilation, etc. Now that I think about it, it’s a wonder I can recall anything about that job. I did enjoy the work, though.

So here’s an early picture I ginned up using PS. It consists of seven layers:

Cheetolini at Work

Where’s My Phone? I Need My Phone!


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