Digging Out   (2017Jan29)


Sunday, January 29, 2017                                        1:00 AM

Spencer gave me a music book for Xmas—piano arrangements of works by Joe Hisaishi, a famous composer of anime films by Studio Ghibli and video game music, he’s also issued some albums. I’m loving getting to know this stuff—the melodies are fantastic, but bear with me—it’s not every day I get new sight-reading material and it’s still unfamiliar ground. I plan to post covers of every piece in the book, eventually.

I’m still digging myself out from under the profusion of photos received and recordings made during the holidays and the rest of this month. Today’s posted videos include one from a month ago, and three from a week ago—but they also include over one hundred photos that I’ve just gotten to processing. So, nothing in today’s posts is recent except the effort.


You’ll excuse some of the holiday photos—there’s still mostly nothing but baby pictures, so you can live with a few ornaments. That baby gets cuter every time I look. I barely listen to myself play the piano on these videos anymore—I just gaze at my adorable granddaughter and remember her recent visit.


It’s been a long week—but I used the time to get my backlog cleared, so it wasn’t a total loss. I needed to have a lousy day or two, just to convince myself that photo-shopping picture after picture was a pleasant enough way to pass the time, compared to the rest of what was going on around me—so, there’s no cloud but has a silver lining, once more.

I long to return to a time when I play for the camera, process the video or videos, and post them to YouTube—all in the same day. This playing catch-up is for the birds—and I’ve got a crick in my neck from repetitive keystrokes during the hours of photo-shopping. I’ve gotten to where I prefer receiving videos of the baby, rather than a slew of photographs—much less processing involved for five minutes’ worth of background graphics.

Enough shop-talk. Sometimes, I swear, I type just to hear myself think. This blog is supposed to at least try to be interesting.

The Child is Tech-Support to the Man

Sunday, December 08, 2013                8:01 PM

FamPh 302

Super-Spencer! The grasshopper has become the master! My computer suddenly decided that logging in as myself was a system error—it’s amazing how electronics can find an infinite number of ways to piss a person off—I’ve been at it (electronically) since the Bicentennial and in all those 37 years I’ve seen a lot of computer errors, but this was a new one.

FamPh 532

I messed around with it for a while, but not being able to login as ‘xperdunn’ (the only login with Admin powers) I was stumped as to how to fix it—Spencer came upon the scene and offered to help—what a man, huh? So, I went back to bed and Spencer worked on the problem—late that night, and all the next day, and the next… He forum-ed and he downloaded and he searched the internet—although the problem was a common one, the only people on the ‘login/sys error’ forums were systems managers—so when he finally found a fix, it turned out to be only valid for Win7-Professional, whereas I, like an idiot, had Win7-HomeDeluxe or whatever it’s called.

GregNJoXmas2004 026

Now, I’d spent years as a systems manager and I knew how lonely and desperate the search for solutions to new errors can be—the worst ones had me searching and trying and banging my head against the wall for days. At some point, I’d lose the ability to think about anything else; I’d lie awake and try to make sense of the kaleidoscope of pieces of information, trying to determine what was pertinent and what was noise.


And here’s the weirdest part: when I finally found a fix and got the whole system up and running again, I’d have gone so deeply into unfamiliar territory that I wasn’t quite sure exactly how I’d fixed it. Strange, right? But that’s what happens. If the problem recurred, I’d almost have to start from scratch to fix the thing—the only ‘easy’ error-fixes were the ones that happened so often I became familiar with the fix.


And, while I was a little concerned about not knowing exactly how to fix something I’d just fixed, I was still a long way from the rest of that office, the people that just hung out and waited for the Geek to fix the computer. Those folks could be a mixed bag—some resented me not fixing something instantly, some were very grateful that I had finally restored the computer, and some didn’t care one way or the other. More importantly, none of them had the slightest idea what torture a new error can be—there’s no guarantee that I’d find an answer (although, somehow, I always did). It was impossible to take a break from an error problem since it kept everyone else sitting around waiting for me to do my job—if I sat around, even a few minutes—I’d get the stink-eye from management, i.e. ‘how dare I?’

JDFM 006

I taught Spencer a lot about computer fixes—he was interested, so I’d walk him through what I was doing—even before he was out of grade school. We used to get phone calls from grateful parents of play-date friends—they’d say, ‘We’ve been trying everything to fix our PC and your son just pressed a few buttons and fixed the whole thing.’ It made me ridiculously proud of him—I could barely contain myself.

FamPh 255

But now that my brain is on permanent vacation, I can’t deal with such things like I used to. And to have my boy find a real killer error’s fix for me—I just can’t tell you how happy I am. And I’m pretty happy about having my computer back, too.


In Which I Make a Spectacle of Myself

What town was I in? Nelsonville, aka Cold Springs, NY. Where? On Main Street.

Jessy’s dog, Tuesday (the ring-bearer) and our son, Spencer, and myself had just been driven there by Karen, Claire’s Mom. My Mom, Ethel, had already arrived at a nearby hotel, where she shared rooms with my niece, Danielle, Kathy’s eldest, and Danielle’s daughter, Boston (the flower girl). Our neighbors, Harlan and Sherryl, were there. The rest of the forty-odd wedding party were Burrs from South California.

They had excused me from the rehearsal dinner so that I would be fit for the wedding—and Claire had gotten a sudden case of shingles, so she stayed home, too. If my Mom hadn’t made it, Jessy would have had no family there! I felt bad for Claire—between her work and her courses and helping Jessica with wedding arrangements, she’s been busier than a one-armed paper-hanger. So, I figure the shingles were stress-induced. Now that it’s all over, I hope she can find a little ‘me-time’ again.

So there I was, walking down Main Street on a busy Saturday afternoon in a tuxedo with bow-tie and two-toned (black and white) shiny dress shoes. People were shouting at me, “Hey, nice suit” and “Looking dapper, there” and so forth—I had never felt so exposed in my life—and I wasn’t quite sure where I was going. I wandered into a bed and breakfast and asked if Jessy was there and, for a miracle, the lady said, “Yes, she is. Come on in.” So I stood there in the foyer and I guess I was a little winded—she looked at me solicitously and asked if I’d like to sit down—which I suddenly realized I very much wanted to do—and asked me if I wanted a cup of tea or some water—which I suddenly realized I needed almost as badly.

So she disappeared upstairs to the girl’s party that brides-getting-dressed always seem to become. I sat in an armchair sipping ice water and dreading the long walk up the street to the library where the wedding would take place. I didn’t want to walk that far, but as father of the bride I felt obliged to escort her wherever she went in her bridal gown—and she was walking up Main Street, so I was too. In the event, it was five of us, including the beribboned dog, walking through town and causing quite a stir.

At the library I ignored all the stairways and what-not, focused on being the ‘arm’ Jessy was ‘on’. The service was surprisingly long (considering it was secular—I would’ve expected it from a Catholic wedding service) and then it was back down the hill, but it was dark, I was no longer obligated to escort anyone—so Claire and I walked down rather slowly. I was running on fumes at this point.

We got to the reception, an illegal storefront with no liquor license. As soon as I walked in, the sonic assault made me dizzy—O, do I hate loud music in a small place when I’m expected to make small talk with strangers—OMG, as the kids say. I soon retreated to the sidewalk again, had a smoke, and steeled myself to re-enter. Before too long it was time to eat, and then they danced. I had to do the traditional Father-Daughter dance—but I can’t dance, of course, so I just went from side to side, trying to lift my feet off the floor a few times just to make it officially ‘dancing’.

But Jessy was so happy and so loved and really enjoying her own wedding—something much rarer than you might think—it was a pleasure just to hold her in my arms, regardless of my awkwardness. And she had told me, days before, that the father-daughter dance would be my last mandated activity, so I was relieved to be close to the ‘finish line’, if I can call it that. I would miss the bulk of the reception, including the cutting of the cake, and the after-party—which I assume only the young people had the energy for.

Today, if I remember correctly, they are on their way to Cancun for their honeymoon. Jessy had been married once before, alone in Vegas, to an army recruit who spent most of their married years in Iraq—and this ceremony had much more of an air of permanency about it. I hope that remains the case—they are wonderful people, the now Mr. and Mrs. Burr, and life is so much nicer when you have someone to share it with!

And me? Well, I have a renewed appreciation for lying in bed and watching TV all day. And something about this wedding made me feel that Jessy was taken care of, parentally speaking—and that’s a great feeling. Now, all we need to do is find a girl smart enough to see Spencer as the beautiful man he is…

Tag Summer (Journal Entry of August 17-21, 2013)

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Saturday, August 17, 2013                 11:19 PM

It’s difficult to say how I feel tonight. It was such a beautiful day. Just perfect, with the sun shining and a few little clouds just there for ornamentation. And our yard looked like a store that had had its walls removed. All our tag sale stuff was on rows of tables and some on the ground, upon tarps. The clothes had a little hanging area with all the sizes marked on the different stacks of shirts and pants. People came early and stayed late. I stayed out of the whole process—if they asked me, we’d never sell a thing—or I’d give it away.

British Museum

British Museum

But our lovely Jessy made a nice wad towards her big wedding in the fall (the preparations have gone on for months—damn all those ‘bride-zilla’ TV shows). I’m to be fitted for a tux—Spencer, too. Looking forward to seeing him in a suit almost makes up for having to rent and wear a tux, myself—besides; I have to give the bride away.

Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum

But the down-side is that, as summer reaches its full glory, its end draws inevitably near. The way the weeks slip by for me, it’ll seem like no time at all until the wedding, the end of the year holidays—and there I am, in the dead of winter. Optimism, as you can see, is my forte.

But tomorrow, whatever’s not sold gets carted off to good-will or wherever. They’re even selling my Buick Le Sabre 2000 (with the HUD {heads-up display} and the genuine leather seats) because we don’t want to get it fixed ourselves. After a day of motor-heads discussing this and that beneath the hood, the upshot was the battery would be charged overnight, and an attempt to start it will be made in the morning.

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

I’m glad to see it go—it looks so beautiful in the driveway (I’ve always liked that car) and it’s painful to see it just rust out there. Besides, my driver’s license has lapsed, a couple of years back, and the car was always being borrowed, as unused vehicles often are—the only thing ‘mine’ about it is the insurance and registration (all the responsibility and cost, and none of the driving).

H-O Trains at the Museum

H-O Trains at the Museum

I’ve no doubt someone will decide to take it off our hands and, if necessary, tow it away. I used it like the proverbial little old lady from Pasadena—except for other people driving it, it’s practically mint. But, of course, there were the other people, so it’s just ‘in pretty good shape’ for a 13-year-old Buick. Old-people stuff is the pits—you know, if you have to stop driving as a young person, it’s a matter of ‘how long until I can drive again?’—but for me, it’s ‘my driving days are over’.

Porsche Museum

Porsche Museum

But it was just great to have both kids (only they’re not kids anymore) and Claire and I, and our neighbors, Harlan and Sherryl, just hanging out in the front yard all day. Some people came to say ‘hi’ more than to shop, so we had several ‘how long’s it been?’- type encounters throughout the day. O—and Claire’s mom brought by her blondie brownies (OMG—she’s hard to beat, baking-wise).

Spencer’s old Legos were all gathered in one spot, about ten big bags full and several large boxes besides—a veritable leaf-pile’s worth of Legos. I wish we could say that lots of little kids had fun with them throughout the day but the truth is someone came by very early and bought the whole pile—o, well. Toys go fast at tag sales.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum

Now all the unsold stuff is under tarps, awaiting day two of the monster tag sale. The funniest part about it is Jessy—she would be right at home in a middle-eastern bazaar, dickering and schmoozing, glad-handing and organizing—she’s amazing. She could command troops, I think, if the conditions ever arose.

Natural History Museum London

Natural History Museum London

Every once in a while I’d catch a glimpse of something, like my marimbas, drumsticks, and ukulele, or my oil-skin jacket, or my serape—and I would just bite my tongue. After all, I couldn’t say I’d used any one of those things in a long time—or anticipated using them anytime soon—but they’re just the kinds of things I feel possessive about. So, in my head, I let it all go. I’ve found that if such things are sold without me seeing them go, I never miss them—so I just pretend I don’t see them.

I’ve always had a knack for extrapolation—I often see the elbow heading for the juice glass in time to move the glass—but I am, sadly, best at the bad extrapolations—for instance, I can see where this could easily be the last time, or at best, the last time for a long while, that the four of us will be sharing the house and seeing each other every day. It’s so nice, I can’t bear the thought of it ending.

So fires and floods, coast to coast, and I don’t care. I live here and here is very nice right now—I feel bad for the troubles of others, but I’m not going to dwell on the news from far away, especially bad news from far away (is there any other kind?)

kscvc atlantis

kscvc atlantis

I’m enjoying re-reading the works of Ian Banks, one of my top sci-fi writers, ever. I’m having so much fun with music I have to keep telling myself to back up my recordings, for safety, but I’m too busy making new ones and, somehow, that seems more important. And I’ve come to accept that my writing will never be in the form of a book, will never be popular reading, and will, therefore, never make me a penny—nothing new there, except for the end of the fantasy that it would ever change.

Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry

I am consoled by the freedom I feel now, writing whatever I feel like writing, not worrying about my interface with the real world. God, do I have a shitty interface with the real world—I am flush with all kinds of wonders and conceits that have no practical value—but my ability to meet people, converse with people, convince people, or ‘close’ on people is pitifully weak, damn near non-existent. I have spent too much of my life in situations where my optimistically existential world-view is never challenged.

New South Wales Art Gallery - night

New South Wales Art Gallery – night

I’ve become so comfortable in my sectarianism that I’m liable to say all kinds of impolite things that I should keep to myself when in the company of faith-based society—which is still most of society—and which will be a long time changing, in that respect. If I had stayed in the mix, held a job, interacted with other people all day, I would have never had the chance to become so impatient with everyday phrases like, ‘I’ll pray for you’; ‘It’s God’s will’; or ‘They’re still watching us from heaven’—you know the sort of thing.

British Museum

British Museum

I can watch “Saved By An Angel”—but for me, it’s a comedy. I can watch Hallmark movies—firstly, because I love the corn, the really tall corn—but secondly, because they make serious movies about God and Santa Claus, which is kind of where I am with the whole thing.

Photographers' Gallery, London

Photographers’ Gallery, London

Come to think of it, when people of faith watch Hallmark TV-movies, do they see the ‘God’ ones as real and the ‘Santa’ movies as a silly kid’s fantasy? How could that fail to cause cognitive dissonance? I think the execs over at Hallmark are invested in faith-based and fantasy-based messages—after all, they are the folks who made holiday cards and gift cards and get-well cards absolute necessities of our society. Even after the Roman Catholic Church had removed St. Valentine’s Day from the church calendar, the folks at Hallmark were still interested. How could they resist? A holiday that pretty much mandates a greeting card, or a handful, even?—Hallmark bravely said, ‘No, St. Valentine stays’!

The point is, whenever that kind of loose talk about the spiritual world gets bandied about, I say nothing. But I’m still feeling something—I just know that no good can come from criticizing someone else’s belief system—but I still have all kinds of comments just begging to be let loose. I get frustrated and impatient in such company and I soon reach a point where I have to walk away.



There are some mental gymnastics involved with being a secular humanist—one must keep in mind that religion is still very much a real thing for the other people, one learns some very subtle responses to ‘I’ll pray for you’, etc., and one inevitably edits the subject out of any discussion about other things—because it’s a big thing to most people, and the original subject would be forgotten in the ensuing argument over God.

Louvre at Dusk

Louvre at Dusk

I already had some limitations, back in my normal days—I had no patience with bigotry or sexism and I would never just let it slide. It’s surprising how strong the reaction is from people who aren’t used to being called on their ignorance—it should be as obvious to them as it is to me that reactions that strong are born of defensiveness—that they know in their hearts they are wrong and are just mad at me because I ruined the ‘fun’.

Field Museum of Natural History

Field Museum of Natural History

So, lots of arguments at work, or in a bar—and this was before I went from agnostic to full-on anti-religious. I hurt myself with this behavior—a more stable person would roll with the waves and let things slide—but I have been neglected, misunderstood, and even hated in my life—I did not like it and I can’t stand to see it happen to others.

I used to do crystal meth—I just couldn’t believe the change it made in me—I would snort some speed and the next thing you know I’m introducing myself to strangers, having conversations with people, enjoying being in a crowded bar or at a party. Those were the days—but they weren’t me, not really. Only under the influence of a strong drug could I act like other people and be comfortable with a social scene. But the supply dried up, and suddenly everyone was selling coke—that was the end of my enjoying being in crowds…

Main Display Tile View

Main Display Tile View

Follow up:

The Tag Sale was just as good on the second day, Sunday. Someone actually got the Buick started, and promptly bought it and drove it away.

It’s Wednesday now and most of the leftover stuff has been carted off to charities or the junkyard.

The yard is mostly a lawn again. Jessie made a big pile of dough. Everybody’s happy. I’m still reading (same author, different book). Claire’s gone off to her literary ladies gathering. Spencer just picked some cukes and a little basil from the backyard garden—cukes taste delicious. Every summer we get both our own garden’s produce and the subscription Claire has to an organic farm that brings in a mixed crate-full each week.

Summer is so good—we really ought to make it longer.

Gallery Cité

Gallery Cité

Not My Best Moment


Friday, May 31, 2013                  11:53 PM

Running outta cigs. Back hurts in a hundred different places. Tired. Anxious. Not my best moment. Could be worse—I could be in Oklahoma, where the wind comes screaming down and rips your house out of its foundation and relocates it two miles south of where it stood. Some Musical that would make—

“O, what a beautiful morning,

O what a beautiful day.

I’ve got this wonderful feeling

My neighborhood’s blowing my way….”

I shouldn’t joke—there are people in danger even now, especially in Moore. There sure are a lot of natural disasters—Volcanos erupting—Ice Caps melting—Earthquakes and Tsunamis—Tornados—Wind storms—Hurricanes and Coastal flooding—Islands being evacuated due to the rising sea-level—Droughts…and they say a big Cicada army is due this year or next.

Of course, Mom Nature has her helpers—she didn’t melt those caps and raise CO2 levels all by herself.  Our pesticides are killing the bees. Our junk is creating floating islands that choke the ocean—when the trawlers aren’t overfishing it, that is. Big Agra is trying to replace real food with mutant vegetables, irradiated seeds, and cows on steroids. The junk we inhale, ingest or drink is so full of impurities that kids are showing increased asthma and allergies. And the families living near power lines are sprouting cysts from every square inch of skin. It’s a travesty.

But none of that is important. Only money is important. It will remain the most important thing in the world until it can no longer buy what doesn’t exist—meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, potable water and breathable air.

But, as long as I’ve got your attention, check this out:





and here’s another–I left in some of the talking at the beginning, so I called it: