Category Archives: Writing/Editing

A Surprise!

As I’ve noted previously, I am working on a couple of memoirs and my autobiography. In doing so, I’ve been conducting a bit of archaeological research on my two current computers’ contents. I have a PC laptop and an iMac. The laptop is going on three years old and the Mac was purchased around June of 2010, right after I retired from Rocketdyne, though it crapped out while it was still under warranty, and the CPU and most of the other components were replaced with those of a newer model.

Something I hadn’t been thinking about much was that I had moved all of my personal files from my years at Rocketdyne, as well as a lot of writing I did while I was there that isn’t worth their energy to call protected IP. At any rate, I’m encountering things I had long forgotten existed and I’d like to share some of them.

This is a press release I’m pretty sure I wrote tongue-in-cheek, but I’m not sure what happened with it. It was, if the file metadata is correct, written in early February of 2006, a little over 14.5 years ago. I can’t recall the last time I read a physical copy of the L.A. Times.

For Immediate Release

In an amazing display of ineptness and communications failure, and for the third time in almost as many weeks, the Los Angeles Times’ home delivery department, Ventura County division, on Sunday, February 5, completely mismanaged the delivery of the Times Sunday edition to the home of a Simi Valley family.

For years, this weekend edition, complete with both the opinion section and numerous advertisements and coupons, has been delivered to the Ladd family double wrapped in plastic and sealed to protect it from being soaked by the sprinkler system which, unfortunately, drains water in the exact location where the paper seems to be most conveniently placed by the L.A. Times’ intrepid delivery person.

Approximately four to five weeks ago, and without any explanation or reason which would be immediately apparent to the Ladds, the paper started being delivered with one, unsealed plastic bag. This difference, however, was not matched by a change in location used to place the paper and, the laws of physics and water being what they are, the paper wicked up enough liquid to add several pounds to its weight. As a side effect, it made reading the articles and advertisements contained in the Times virtually impossible.

Up until the 5th of February, subsequent to calls to the Times’ Customer Service automated telephone number, a new paper has twice been delivered within the promised 90 minutes. The last time brought an apology and a promise to see the paper was sufficiently wrapped and it was, in fact, delivered dry on January 29th. However, the following week, on February 5, the paper was once again single wrapped, and soaking wet by the time it was retrieved.

Richard Ladd immediately called the Times’ Customer Service automated telephone number, once again pressing the button to inform the electronic system that there was, indeed, a delivery problem involving an automatic sprinkler system and a wet newspaper. He then entered his phone number and street address, and was informed a new paper would be delivered within 90 minutes.

As of midnight, at the beginning of a new week, the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times had not been delivered to the Ladd family, causing them to wonder if they shouldn’t just throw in the towel and cancel their subscription, opting instead to read the paper (assuming they even care any longer) on the Internet, and either celebrating or bemoaning (they are currently not quite sure which it should be) the continuing slide of print media into oblivion.

– END –


A Return Engagement

I quite accidentally came across an old Facebook post, which I’m pasting in below, that I wrote and shared a little over six years ago. I’m a little ashamed (embarrassed might be a better word) that I announced my intention, only to not complete what I said I had started. I truly had started but, shortly after doing so I was approached by a former colleague at Rocketdyne and was offered a job.

Here Comes the Bar Mitzvah Boy

Since my primary goal at the time was to bring in enough supplemental income to allow us to maintain our modest, yet comfortable, lifestyle, I dove into the job head first. I had also gotten an editing gig shortly after the post, which took a great deal of my time and overlapped with my return to Rocketdyne. For a couple of weeks I was working up to 13 or 14 hours per day.

So, here I am six years later and I have begun serious work on what I used to think were my memoirs. This past Wednesday I woke up thinking I needed to better understand the difference between a memoir and an autobiography. After a moment’s worth of research I realized I was not working on my memoirs; rather, I was working on my autobiography.

A Favorite Award

I have, therefore, decided I am now working on three projects. The most ambitious is my autobiography. Ancillary to that effort are two subsets of my life, which I will write and publish as memoirs: one surrounding my experiences of more than 50 years of drug use and what I learned about myself and others; the other about my experiences with the Peace & Justice movement during the late sixties and early seventies and how it’s affected my politics and my philosophy of life.

I had done a fair amount of work on an outline, which currently consists of 158 entries (many of which are partially written, some recently and others copied from blog posts that are relevant to the subjects I cover. Many of the blog posts need to be somewhat re-tooled to fit the format of either a memoir or an autobiography, and much needs to be added, but I’m currently at almost 16,000 words. My Peace & Justice movement project is currently at nearly 3,800 words, and my drug use project currently consists primarily of a reasonably thorough outline.

Some Political Collectibles

Previously, I was deeply concerned about our household income. I am not as concerned now and a couple of things are driving me to complete these projects reasonably soon. The first is my age and the age of others who were substantial parts of my life. As far as my political activities back in the day go, at least three of the people I am writing about are no longer with us, with two of them passing in the last few years. I was hoping to interview them. That’s no longer possible. Fortunately, they’ve all left a legacy and there’s plenty of material for me to glean from and help me remember the activities I shared with them, as well as others who we worked with who are still available.

The second reason isn’t directly related to my age, but is nevertheless a result of it. As I’ve written about previously, I have what are called “essential” or “familial” tremors. There are three areas in which these tremors affect those who suffer from them: the neck muscles (my mother was a “bobblehead”); the vocal cords (think Bette Davis); and the hands. My experience is mostly with my hands, though on occasion I can swear I feel it coming on in my neck muscles as well.

You Can Call Me Reverend Ricky

I want to finish these projects before I can’t type at all. There were times, during my two-year return to Rocketdyne, when my left hand was shaking so badly I couldn’t log on to my computer. I had to enter my user name and password with one finger on one hand. There are times when my left hand shakes so much I can’t possibly type like I’m used to.

I’ve already contacted a half dozen people, including former roommates, a former girlfriend, and my first wife. They have all not only expressed a willingness to be part of this, they have already provided me with recollections I had forgotten, all of which will surely improve the quality of the stories I plan on writing.

My Brother’s Wedding With Me Officiating

So I’ve set a goal for myself. Currently, it’s 500 words per day but I’m going to probably up that to 1,000 words per day. It’s not really all that difficult once I get going, especially since my outline now is quite thorough and all I need do is tell my stories. Another goal is to, as I mentioned in my post of six years ago, stand up a Kickstarter campaign to see if I can raise any money. I don’t need a lot and I think I have a fairly interesting story (actually stories) to tell.

For the first time in my life, this IS my job. If nothing else, I will leave a legacy for my two daughters, to whom these works will be dedicated.



I am on the verge of taking on what I believe to be an important project. I’ve been thinking about it for well over a year and I have discussed it with several old friends who were part of the experiences the project will speak to.

I plan on writing a book. It will be a combination of my memoirs, as well as a history, of a part of the peace & justice movement, specifically in Southern California, from about 1968 until 1973. At the time I was part of a group of amateur, yet reasonably well-trained, people who provided much of the security for rallies, demonstrations, and numerous cultural events. We provided building and personal security, including occasional armed bodyguard work, for people like Jane Fonda, Daniel Ellsworth, Tony Russo, a group of Vietnamese students studying in the U.S., Roger McAfee and family (they put their ranch up for Angela Davis’s bail after Jonathan Jackson’s disastrous attempt to break his brother, George, out of the Marin County Courthouse), Mrs. Salvador Allende, and cultural groups such as Quilapayun, Arco Iris, and Holly Near – to name a few.

The book I propose to write would be a combination of my memoirs and those of many others (some of whom I have recently contacted and who expressed great interest in seeing this happen) who I worked with. I was a member of groups such as The Peace Action Council with Irv Sarnoff, The Indochina Peace Campaign with Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, and Bruce Gilbert, Vietnam Veterans Against the War with Ron Kovic, as well as individuals such as Dorothy Healey, Frank Wilkinson, and others – many of whom I will need to do some research on to refresh my memory.

Part of this piece will be aimed at setting the record straight. Part of it will be pointing out the many sacrifices lots of people made in speaking and acting out during that time. We thank members of the military for their “service”, regardless of what they did and what their motives truly were, yet the people who risked so much during those difficult times were – and frequently still are – vilified as traitors and un-American. I’d like to help set the record straight.

Those of my friends who have any experience or thoughts about those times and the activities I will be addressing are welcome – actually, encouraged – to share them with me. While I am willing to read, even address, contrary opinion, anyone who attempts to engage me in frivolous argumentation will be asked to stop and, if that doesn’t work, will be unfriended. I am interested in useful, thoughtful opinion even if it doesn’t agree with how I see or remember those days, but only if it helps me understand my perspective more completely. I have a well-established POV after all these years and I’m not interested in useless argumentation over its validity.

This also means I will be incrementally backing off of Facebook; posting far less and paying less attention to others, even with the all-important mid-term elections looming. I want to get this done while I’m still able to and I will have a lot of reading, interviewing, and writing to do. I’m also thinking of using Kickstarter to raise some money so I don’t have to worry about further depleting what savings we’ve managed to accumulate prior to my somewhat forced retirement. I’m thinking, if a guy who’s merely making potato salad can raise $70,000, I might be able to find enough interest to get $15 – $20,000. I’m anticipating the need to travel for some interviews. Many of the people involved at that time likely won’t be available via online technology.

I will probably share this more than a few times in the next couple of days or so. Knowing there’s only a small percentage of my friends who will see this at any given time, I think it will be useful to share it at different times. Please forgive me if I annoy you. Feedback is, of course, more than welcome. I’ll also be sharing my progress as I go along.


A Forgotten Limerick

Rep. Steve Watkins on Twitter: "Just finished up on @FoxNews at their  headquarters in New York City on @ANHQDC talking #Syria and #impeachment.  #KS02 #ksleg #FoxNews… https://t.co/HXS6jAq6we"
My Guy!

As I’m searching for material for the three books I’m now working on, I have to reconcile the reality that I’ve spread my work out between two computers: the iMac I purchased when I retired from Rocketdyne in 2010 (and which was essentially replaced by a newer model – by warranty – in 2013); and the HP Laptop I’ve been using for the past two years plus. I’ve even purchased a separate copy of Scrivener, which I’m using as my writing software, for both operating systems.

At any rate, I’m copying and moving things around and, as I was copying some photos and other stuff, I happened upon this limerick, which I thought to share. I write them on occasion, and I know I’ve shared a few of them here in my blog over the years. I wrote this one in December of 2013 so, maybe I’ve posted it before . . . but I don’t think so.

Fox newscasts, so chock full of hate
Render truth an impervious gate
They so often dissemble
We can’t help but tremble
With hope they will soon meet their fate

ADDENDUM – I just discovered I not only posted this before, it actually wasn’t even a year ago that I did so. I don’t know whether to be dismayed, or heartened, by the fact I used the exact same title as I did this time. <Sheesh!> Therefore, I’m leaving this here as a testament to my declining cognitive functions . . . maybe. Here’s the link to the last time I posted it: https://rickladd.com/2019/10/31/a-forgotten-limerick/


Compensation? Maybe

Every since I developed my essential tremors it’s become increasingly difficult to type, especially on my iPhone. The tremors don’t affect me all the time, but often enough to be uncomfortable and, occasionally, they’re strong enough to make it virtually impossible to touch type.

GBoard Helps a Lot!

There are two things that make it easier for me. The first is using GBoard, which is an app that allows me to emulate Swype, which allows me to touch the first letter of the word I want to “type” and then move methodically to each following letter in the word, stopping momentarily on that letter so the algorithm can identify the letter I wish to use.

The second is its ability to predict the word I’m spelling out, which can be quite useful when I’m carrying on a conversation or responding at length to a tweet or FB post. These two things are truly valuable for my ability to continue using my phone to effectively communicate.

However, I’m beginning to think my phone is really getting to know me. The other day I wanted to type the word “cuck” into a tweet and it wanted me to change it to “fuck.” Then I went to type “dude”in a FB comment and, after I had only typed “du,” it suggested “dumbfuck.”

It’s nice that it’s getting to know my personality, but I’m beginning to worry I might be swearing a little too frequently. I’ll have to give it some thought.

Naaah! Fuck it.


Better Understanding The Franchise

We’ve taken voting a little too much for granted, methinks. That would include yours truly, though I have never missed a vote since June 4, 1968, my 21st birthday. I think I made the mistake of believing all that mattered was that I voted and I encouraged those close to me to vote as well. I’m pretty certain that’s no longer good enough; probably was never good enough, but it took the tender ministrations of the tangerine shitgibbon to make it clear we need to take the franchise a bit more seriously.

What, perzackly, that entails is unclear to me, but I’m sure a lot of us have ideas and many are already working on it. That’s what VR and GOTV are all about, no? But I am thinking a little beyond those two things, which we’ve been doing for a long time. We need to talk more about what it means to be an informed citizen. We need to find ways to present it that aren’t tres wonky. Therein may lie the greatest challenge.


Thread Embed (Test)

WordPress just added some new functionality to their platform, which is where you’re reading this right now. Now I can insert one tweet from a thread and there’s a command to “unroll,” which imports the remainder of the thread. With this test I uploaded the first of five and all were imported easily with the “unroll” button. I’ll have to try one where I first upload a tweet from the middle (or the end; maybe and the end) and see how well it works from there.

===================

I joined Twitter in March of 2008. Back then I was studying social media as a method for my organization (the Space Shuttle Main Engine team at Rocketdyne) to communicate more effectively. NASA was already using it for the teams that were preparing the orbiter for its . . . /1

next flight, and it was def saving them money and time. I never tried to get followers; they just followed naturally, esp since there were so few users at the time. When I retired in May of 2010, my use of Twitter changed and for a while I didn’t use it at all. Cue . . . /2

the election of the dipshit-in-chief. Everything changed for me. I wouldn’t say all my posts were political, but surely a majority. I’d like to see for myself, but a week ago—after 12 years—my account was suspended. My ~2700 followers gone. Everything . . . gone. I . . . /3

wasn’t even told what I did or said to have received such a harsh punishment, with absolutely no recourse other than a chance to send a short note defending I don’t know what. Perfectly legal, yet anathema to our way of life in the U.S. So . . . this is my feeble return . . . /4

to #Resist here on Twitter. I could use some followers (God! It pains me to even ask) and I will follow back if you’re not a Trump supporter. TIA! /fin

Originally tweeted by Izzy Wladovsky (@retreado) on 23 June 2020.


“Corona Virus Blues” | Don McAlister’s Blogsite

Written by my former (and last) manager at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, these are contemporary blues lyrics. The tune is up to you. If you know 12 bar blues, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to gin something up.

Written by Don McAlister, 6/28/20 as a standard 12 bar blues song.

When this all got started
We didn’t have a clue
‘Bout how crazy things would get
And change everything we knew.

At first it didn’t seem that bad
The danger wasn’t clear
Then cases started popping up
West and East, and then right here.

And now it was a crisis
Affecting me and you
We got it bad
Corona Virus Blues!

CHORUS: We got a virus out to kill us
And it don’t care ‘bout who
And the only way to slow it down
Is to change the things we do.

We gotta stay six feet apart
And cover up our faces
Stay away from bars
Only eat at takeout places.

We’ve been hunkered down for months now
Watchin’ movies and the news
Yeah we got it bad
Corona Virus Blues!

Some folks got tired of hearing
What they should and shouldn’t do
And they protested and said
It was time to loosen rules.

Gov’nors felt the pressure
And opened up some places
But still asked us to distance
And cover up our faces

But it got out of hand again
Careless gatherings and booze
Infections started spiking up and
And now we’ve still got Corona Virus Blues!

(Repeat CHORUS and end)

Source: “Corona Virus Blues” | Don McAlister’s Blogsite


Working Remotely? Here’s Some Help

The need to address the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic may have done more to accelerate the digital transformation many have been working towards for years, than all of the bitching, moaning, hand-wringing, and pearl clutching heretofore expended on cajoling knowledge workers to adopt and adapt these technologies.

Five years ago I served as the developmental editor on the 2nd edition of “The New Social Learning.” I had the pleasure of working with the co-author of the 1st edition, who was the principal author of the 2nd, Marcia Conner. Marcia is one of a handful of people who recognized the need for, and the power of, such a transition . . . and this book was an attempt to help leaders and organizations move forward to adopt these new ways of working, and working together.

I recommend this book highly for everyone who is now finding themselves either working at home or dealing with today’s need to be more “distanced” from our colleagues. There’s a wealth of good info here. I urge you to check it out. It’s about far more than just learning.

“The Workplace Has Changed. At this moment, your people are already learning through social media. They’re reaching out and connecting in powerful ways. The question is, can you recognize, appreciate, and take advantage of the power inherent in this new level of communication? Do you want to facilitate or debilitate? Do you want to play a part in what and how people learn? Or do you want to try to stop them? Will you restrict them? Or will you free them to do the work they were hired to do—and will you do it with them?”


From a Friend

This is a poem a friend of mine in Ohio posted on FB yesterday. I asked her for permission to share it, as I think it’s powerful. Hope you get out of it as much as I did.

Eric Garner & George Floyd in Heaven, Before Their Black Police Victim Grief Support Group Meeting

“Hey, man.”

“Hey.”

“Nice to meet you…Well, you know what I mean.”

“I got you.”

“Philando brought you to the meeting?”

“Yeah. You know. We both from Minnesota.”

“Yeah. It’s nice to have somebody from home you can hang with… Well, you know what I mean.”

“I got you.”

“You from New York, right?”

“Yeah.”

“You must got a ton of homies up here.”

“My daughter is up here, man.”

“Oh…yeah…that’s right.”

“Yeah, man.”

“My bad…I ain’t mean….”

“It’s all right, man. You ain’t do it.”

“It’s crazy, you know?”

“Yeah.”

“I always thought about dying, you know?”

“Yeah.”

“I always knew the time would come, and I would have to go.”

“Yup. It’s the way it is.”

“I just…I never wanted one of them to be what took me out.”

“I hear you.”

“It’s fucked up.”

“Beyond.”

“You born with the white man’s knee on your neck. You die with his knee on your neck.”

“With his stick at your throat.”

“You walk around scared of your own skin and your own bones – how Goddamn breakable they are.”

“Like you toothpicks and tissue.”

“You live a whole life and never get to fucking breathe freely.”

“And then you get here and…”

“It’s better?”

“You’re safer. No more body, no more beating.”

“But?”

“Angels ain’t omnipotent, you know? We can’t do shit but put the thought into the person’s head.”

“So we gotta do it. We gotta do it, man. We gotta get them to stand up. We gotta get them to fight for it.”

“For ‘it’?”

“Freedom. They say they want it. They gotta get off they ass then.”

(c) Michelle R. Smith 2020


Shit Fahr – Ahm Gittin’ Hire

Little by little I’m moving all of my posts from my old blog, The Cranky Curmudgeon, which still exists as a Blogspot site. This one is a bit over 14 years old, posted on 10 March 2006. Can’t say I’m particularly proud of these verses, but they are what they are, i.e. part of my “collected works” so to speak. Anyway, you be the judge. Frankly, the whole idea of Cowboy Haiku remains a bit strange, IMO.


The Latest Example of a Time-Honored Tradition

I was reminded there’s a whole lot of Cowboy poetry out there nowadays. A quick Google shows lots of links. Here’s the first one returned http://www.cowboypoetry.com/. Anyway, I just wanted to be the first to publish a few Cowboy Haiku. I don’t have titles for them; they’re fresh off the ol’ keyboard. Here ya go, pard. Hope ya lahk ’em.

This cowboy wears spurs
They will jingle all the night
If he gets lucky

My hat does not fit
Perhaps it is because
My head is swollen

Blood on the saddle
Could it mean I really have
Hemorrhoids to boot?


%d bloggers like this: