Friday, December 16, 2011

Puerto Vallarta (Dec. 2011)

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15 photos from Puerto Vallarta.

Victor and I spent a couple of days in Puerto Vallarta last week, courtesy of Frontiers newsmagazine and My Own Concierge. Yes, I won this ground package!

The highlight for me was going on eleven ziplines high above a jungle river! Victor declined to do the ziplines. This was at Canopy Nogalito. More zipline photos are at the first link above.

Our stay at Casa Cupula included a great dinner at their restaurant, Taste. Check out the impressive menu.

The trip was too short, but we had a great time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mova globe


I received my retirement gift from JPL a few days ago. I didn't fully realize what it was / did when I chose it many weeks ago. It's actually pretty cool.
Someone else's video of it (0:47)

Friday, October 21, 2011

On competition: re-purposed genes

Recently, I commented on Kevin Kelly's Google+ post that began, "Somehow I am missing that Collection Gene that many people seem to have...." I wrote, "But you also collect IDEAS and CONNECTIONS and SPECULATIONS. (And you're very good at it!)" (I've been reading Kelly's work for decades.)

There are several common genes I either missed or have re-purposed....

Fortunately, I missed the all too common Addiction Gene.

I am also completely missing the Fashion Gene. I don't even understand what it means for one color to "go with" or "not go with" another, or why stripes and spots can't co-exist.

My favorite common gene to ponder, though, is the Competetive Gene. I was never very interested in competing in sports, but I came to understand that I was instead very competitive in gathering information. (That recognition of different types of competition is why I was so quick to comment on Kelly's post.) If I get a chance, I'll try to write more about that at greater length.

CicLAvia


On October 9, I did a bit of CicLAvia as a pedestrian. Above is a snapshot of MacArthur Park.

Debs Park

Debs Park, which I call "my big back yard" and where I hike all the time, was in LAWeekly's "Best of LA".

Solar energy

Something I've been saying forever: What if solar got the same subsidies as fossil fuels? (Click on the graphic on that web page to enlarge it.)

Catalina Island


I took advantage of this offer for a free trip to Catalina Island for my birthday.

More photos are here.

Retirement!

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I've just retired!

It's been my goal in life since high school to retire. (I've had the above cartoon on my bulletin board at home since it appeared in 1977.)

I've been fortunate to enjoy my work, but I've always wanted to work less.

I've always said that when I retire, I want to read, write, and travel. In recent years, I added exercise to that list.

I'm retiring now because I think I can swing it financially, and for my physical health, and for my emotional health.

Physical health: My first big project is to slowly lose about 60 pounds. Instead of exercising 2-3 hours per week, I plan to exercise 2-3 hours per day. So far, so good. And, if I can lose the weight, I'm hopeful that may get rid of my diabetes. I really couldn't put this off much longer.

Emotional health: I'm tired of only seeing Victor for a few weeks each year! (See "Why Victor Can't Visit the U.S.")

By the way, with retirement, there will be some changes to this blog. I hope to write more frequently. I'm going to include more personal posts like this one. And I'm going to let Google "monetize" it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baby steps into gay life ('75)

During my summer of traveling around Western Europe (1975), I felt free and totally unknown, and I played with being gay. I had accepted privately that I was gay, I avidly followed gay news, I had been a spectator at the Hollywood gay pride parade, but I hadn't told anyone or done anything.

On this trip, for the first time, I knowingly set foot in gay bars, I went to an all-gay porn shop, and I tried cruising. I never actually hooked up with anyone. Especially with cruising, I was frequently paralyzed by not knowing the "rules" (as well as not knowing the language!). I scoured Amsterdam's red light district twice looking for a male prostitute in a window, but I never saw one.

I kept notes on my gay-related activities on separate pages in my trip journal, and I ripped those out after the trip so I could show the rest to everyone. The gay pages went into my permanent personal diary, and I reviewed them for this note.

Cathedrals, monuments, and history ('75)

Transcribed from my travel diary from my summer in Western Europe in 1975:

[After visiting Notre Dame in Paris] With every additional monumental cathedral I see ... [I believe more strongly that] God's greatest cathedrals are his own natural ones.

So much of the stuff that Paris is famous for relies on historical, religious, artistic, and linguistic background that I lack to be appreciated.

For myself, it would mean more to see a Garden of the Symphony or Chapel of the Sonnet or Palace of Imperialism or Monument to Mercantilism with appropriate scenes depicted in the stained glass or the statuary and with a fitting degree of ornateness of design, etc. ...

[In Venice] I can't believe bare shoulders would truly offend God.

My dependence on language ('75)

Transcribed from my trip diary of my summer in Western Europe in 1975:

[Paris was the first time I had been alone in a place where I didn't speak the language.] Not knowing the language is going to be most educational. For a perpetual reader and listener like me, this throws me way off balance. My entire usual mode of observation, conversation, sign/ad/map/label/instruction reading, etc. is inoperative. I haven't fully recovered from the shock.

And I notice again how when confronted with a foreign language (any), I instinctively respond in any language. That is, I'm muttering bits of English, French, German, Spanish, even Hebrew.... It's as though my mind only has two channels: English and (all/any/every) Other.... I can't get past "Parlez vous Anglais?" if the answer is "Non." ... [or] understand an oral price or date or day .... The data that would most interest me in a foreign culture are mainly communicative – newspapers, TV, ads, speech idioms, casual conversation...."

[In Berlin,] There are very few English newspapers, magazines, and books anywhere. The stores that say "International Press" may have a few, but seem to specialize in pornography.

Western Europe trip - '75

In Regents Park, London


In the summer of 1975, against my grad school academic advisor's wishes, I went to Western Europe for about six weeks. I knew I wouldn't have a block of free time like this again for decades.

I visited London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Vienna, Munich, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam.

I used a backpack, a Eurail Pass, and I stayed in hostels and with friends of friends.

Oh, and in the photo above, that's one of my mother's purses I used throughout the trip, long before the popularity of the murse.

I kept a diary, including a detailed accounting of my spending. Here's the summary page – $1100 for everything, including air (click to enlarge):

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From my diary, here are a few excerpts about London:

[On my third day in London, ] I finally found a water fountain! Outside one gate to Regent's Park, there was a very nice one engraved, "Erected by the Municipal London Drinking Fountain and Horse Trough Association." And it didn't work!

I fell in love with the British Museum.

[I saw several West End plays,] ... Alec Guinness in A Family and a
Fortune
... Paul Scofield in The Tempest.

Three additional blog posts are also from my trip diary – about language, about cathedrals, monuments and history, and about taking my first baby steps into gay life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On boycotting Target (April '11)


This letter of mine was published in the Los Angeles Times in April 2011:

Only one thing can get me to return to a Target store: The corporation must routinely tell politicians, "We really like your economic and tax policies, but we won't donate to your campaign until you also support gay civil rights."