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Hello There and Welcome to My Photo Album and Travelog

This page is where I put the latest pictures of me and my endeavors. It got its start as a personal ad page when I first got into the online Longhair world and was originally put up on GeoCities. Since starting my own domain I have adapted this page and changed it around a bit.  It is still my photo album and still serves my needs for a web based personal ad photo page but now it will no longer just focused on the Longhair images.  Off of this page are other pages which highlight my various interests in various things - and there a lot of things I'm interested in.  I'm an aviation buff, I'm a history buff, I enjoy good architecture, and I have found that the leather/ SM/ fetish world speaks to me on a very deep level.  So, the pages I've put up here reflect all that.  Look for updates as they occur.  I try and stay pretty busy but I don't always have the photos to prove this.  When I do, and when I have the time, I will put them up.  Until then, sit back and enjoy the show.


New Year New Photo

New Year New Photo

I prefer to stay current.  Not that you could tell that from looking at how often I update this place of late.  But, I do what I can when I can.  For a while now, almost a year actually, I've been without the mustache and goatee that I'd kept on my face for many a year.  As the shorn look is my new norm, I felt it appropriate to update my main photo to acknowledge that.  But, it had to be done right.  The old photo was a good one.  The composition was spot on, the background was great, and I wanted to duplicate all that.  This took some searching. 

The old photo was taken back when I lived in the duplex on Commonwealth and I no longer live there so I couldn't right use that as a backdrop.  And I'd only myself to take this new shot.  So, I hunted for the right setting and found it, luckily enough, near where I live.  The location is in the back parking lot of the Kohl's there at Balboa and Genesee.

I knew from the old photo that a late afternoon sun would be what a I wanted.  The angle would be right to give me lighting that was both from the side and warmer than if coming straight down as at a mid-day shot. 
The wall behind me runs more or less east west and and since the backdrop would be more or less in line with the light, there'd be no huge shadow to contend with.  Thus the locale was about perfect for me needs.

So, this weekend I got a fresh haircut, made sure to shave close, got out there right around 16:15 or so, backed the truck up, set up the tripod, triggered the timer and started taking the shots.  I was hoping for a duplicate of the original but didn't quite get that exactly.  Oh well.  This is close enough.  And it'll do for now.  First update to the typical "profile pic" / headshot.  Yay me!

New Year's Day 2012

New Year's Day 2012 atop Mt. Soledad with Mom

Another New Year's Day atop Mt. Soledad with Mom.  2011 was a mostly upbeat year for me.  I was employed, steadily, from April until mid-December. While Cymer's end of year shut down in mid-December did me no good, I do at least have work awaiting me in January when I go back there.  That is something new as I've not had a job to start the New Year for the past two New Years.  Hopefully, 2012 will see me gainfully employed for each of its twelve months.  That too would be something new for me as I've not had a full year's worth of steady employment for almost four years now.  Helluva way to roll into my 50s but, there it is.  Any way, Happy New Year!
Bunnied Up
Bunnied Up! August 2011 and I'm "bunnied up" for the first time in my life.

Yay me!

Since April I've been working at Cymer here in San Diego.  They're a high tech manufacturing company right here in America's Finest City - and I'd never heard of them.  They've been around for a quarter century now and got their start by using lasers as light sources for the photo-lithography process used to make integrated circuits.  Pretty cool stuff.

And they're making things.

And they're exporting them.

Right here in San Diego!

Yay Cymer!

In August they delivered the first of a new generation of systems and they needed as many hands as could be spared to get through that part of the process.  The science had been done, the engineering had been done, the tool assembly had been done, the tool testing had been done.

Now it was time to pack it all up and get it shipped to China.  And I helped.

The manufacturing area is a "clean room" as even the slightest bit of dust, particulates, or even the oils from a person's hands, could contaminate the workings.

So, even in order to just stand inside the manufacturing "lab" itself you had to put on a full "clean room standard" outfit.  This consisted of the "jumpsuit," booties to cover your shoes, surgical gloves, a hood to cover your hair and, were I working with the optics, a face mask to catch the moisture from your breath.  As Cymer makes lasers, you also had to wear special laser safety goggles.

For some reason, someone must've thought that when you were "gowned" like this that you looked like a big white bunny rabbit.  This, minus the floppy ears and bushy tail.  Hence was born the slang "bunny suit" for this outfit and the term "bunnied up" for having to wear it when working in the clean room.

I'd never had call to be in a clean room before.  Much less to work in such a room.  One thing I quickly found out was that wearing a bunny suit was not a terribly pleasant thing to do if it involved doing anything more than standing still.  The suits don't fit very well as they're generic in size (Small, Medium, Large) with snap tabs to make up the difference in ranges.  Mainly though, due to the need to prevent even perspiration from getting through them and into the clean room, the suits proved impervious to sweat.  That meant you could get really hot wearing them doing even the lightest of physical labor - like turning a wrench or lifting electronics into place.

After a couple of hours of being bunnied up the novelty wore off and the banal drudgery of it came through.  And I only had to do this for but a few hours and not as part of my regular job.

Still though, I was VERY glad to have been able to help out and am thankful for the unique experience it availed me.  Plus, it makes for a really odd looking picture!

Yosemite
March 2011

Winter in Yosemite Valley.

Ann pulled off an outstanding weekend.  She set up rooms at The Lodge in Yosemite Valley for us and for her daughter and her family.

March was supposed to be far enough into spring that the weather should've been nice, clear, sunny and warm.  Instead, the days preceding our trip up there saw one of the worst late season snow storms Yosemite Valley had seen in years.  They'd only just begun restoring electrical power in the valley on the day we arrived and we had to get into the valley itself via convoy since the only road open was but a single lane.

The visuals though were beyond awesome.

The first full day in the Valley was a quiet snow covered bit of wetness as it was still snowing but the temp was high enough to make it melt rapidly.  It started clearing the following day and by the time we left on Monday it was nice and sunny - with lots of snow still on the ground.

I could really see why so many folks have felt Yosemite is so special a place.
Yosemite in Winter

The visuals of being that close to mountains that high with such stunning rock formations everywhere you turned really made for a wonderful experience.  I got lots of great shots that weekend.

Ann's grandchildren were a real treat.  We took them out on that first day and helped them make this snowman. 

Lower Yosemite Falls Earlier on that first day we all did the short walk from the Lodge over to the Lower Yosemite Falls.

Even with the mist and clouds and the wet snow and the cold it was still a beautiful thing to see.




New Year 2010
Us at New Year's Dawn 2010

Up early and over to Mt. Soledad to feel the first light of 2010 upon us.  My Mom and my love, Ann.

As we turned to leave we were reminded that Mt. Soledad is indeed a War Memorial.

New Year's Reveille 2010

He played it well.  And being surrounded by all the remembrances of individuals who served was very poignant.  Through my tears, I thanked him for his service and his remembrance.

2009 departs...

In the distance we saw the last Moon of 2009 setting to the west.  I do not miss it.  During this year I have met my love, Ann, but the year, overall, has not been one that I would seek to repeat.  Hasten then, the new opportunities of 2010.




Xmas 2009
My Mom came out for a week or so over Xmas this year.  This, as is her want when it get abysmal back there Back East.

This year, my Ann joined us.

Ann and Mom

I got out my Santa Hat and did the Xmas thing as well.

Mom and I

I really like this shot.

Mom and Ann at the beach

And my Mom did quite well with this one:

Me and Ann at the beach

Fox Hunt 2009
November 2009 saw Ann set up her first "Fox Hunt" for her LA Ponies and Critters group.  It was a blast!

Fox Hunt 2009!

This event was held at a campground up in the Los Padres National Forest north of Los Angeles.  We arrived the Friday afternoon before the event and staked out our claim on the area.  We got our bitchin' cool new four person tent set up - replete with its "LA Ponies & Critters" group banner - and set up camp otherwise.  Another member of the group, Larry, turned out to be a real pro at this sort of stuff.  His tent was bigger, sturdier, and he even had some cool LED party lights which he set up for the evening!

We had a fine time that afternoon and early evening but found that it got really, really cold up there in those mountains!  The next morning we had to punch through the ice to clean our dishes!

Frozen dirty dishes

By about mid-day we had quite the crowd gathered.  Ann was a whiz in organizing all this.  She brought out the bubbly - both sparkling cider and champagne - and took part in the "Stirrup Cup" where we toasted to the "hunt" as the "fox" set out to hide from the "hounds" and ponies.  This was lots of fun.  I don't have release to use the shots of the event but that might come in time.

Mutant Pine Cone Once the fox had been run to ground and "de-tailed" we came back and toasted in her honor and then we had our hunt banquet.  Jerry was quite the chef for all this having driven up from LA just for it.  That afternoon we also found this mutant pine cone.

The Hunt's Feast consumed, we packed things up and headed back to LA.  This was a really successful first outing and we all are looking forward to more such play.  It does help that the scenery was nothing short of awesome!

Awesomeness!


A Day at the LA Zoo
Early August of '09 saw me enjoying a day "up in the valley" with Ann as both her daughter and granddaughters were in town.  Meeting up in their Burbank neighborhood park we eventually made our way over to the nearby LA Zoo.  It was a fine day with family and I was happy to be part of that.  Even more unusual on this day, and something which made it all the finer for me, was that I was able to snag an image of Ann which I could put up here on my site!  Wonder of wonders!

Ann and her grand daughter

That's my girl.

Fame
Coming back from SF Pride I encountered this whilst sitting at the gate for my flight.

Fame

I've no idea who the guy is in this shot but he's apparently really big in the Philippine entertainment world.  Really big.  As he sat there across from me, first one couple, then this crew came up to him with their cameras and cellphones drawn and beseeched the lad for his picture.  At this particular point he was already on the phone with someone as this group descended upon him and began snapping away.  The three of them traded off their cameras and cellphones and their sitting next to him.  All the while he was just trying to finish up his phone conversation before boarding his flight.

I hope he's getting some kind of extra special reward for his fame because from my perspective it doesn't look worth it.

In any event it was a kinda surreal moment there while awaiting my flight.  The lady sitting just out of frame to the right in this image also thought it priceless and asked me for a copy of the images I snapped.  Being the oh-so-digital guy that I am these days, I downloaded the images from my camera and right there and then emailed them to her using the wireless broadband digital modem I have.  Yeah, I do tech!

SF Pride 2009
I made it up to San Francisco in June to attend the SF Gay Pride March that year.  Ann was part of the leather contingent in her Beauty pony play mode pulling a carriage.  She'd done the same thing the previous year but did so with her rider being her trainer, Rebecca.  The folks running the parade and the leather contingent were so impressed with their human pony drawn carriages that they asked them all back - but this time they'd have leather dignitaries as their riders.  This turned out to be the current Mr. San Francisco Leather in one carriage and a leatherwoman of some renown in Ann's little Shetland Pony carriage.  I went along to enjoy the weekend with her and to help out as she went the length of the parade route pulling that carriage.  It was lots and lots of fun.  The three carriages, "Mistress Liliane's" was the third," made quite the spectacle as they went up Market Street on that day.

Beauty on Market

That's Ann / Beauty there in the clear latex catsuit with the blinders set aside her bit and that's Nyna Kaiser of the Alameda County Leather Corps (ACLC) holding Beauty's reins.  In the background is Mistress Liliane in black and holding her black lace parasol.  Off to her left is the third of the carts and this one contains its driver, the lass in the cowboy hat, and Brandon Clark - the current Mr. San Francisco Leather.  The rest of the folks in this shot were either puppies and their masters (that bunch in the upper left of the image) or were part of Liliane's contingent.  Liliane was also the one who organized this whole shebang so she gets mucho credit for pulling it all together such that it'd be pulled off so well.

Among other things, Liliane knew how to work the camera and crowds quite well.

Working it

Ann worked things quite well on her own, thank you very much!

Prancing pretty

Even the national media was enthralled by all this:

Ready for her close-up

At day's end I had one exhausted pony girl.  All that pulling up Market in the warmth of a San Francisco summer's day had been quite the effort for Beauty.  We peeled off the latex cat suit, showered, and got some much needed grub.  All in all this was a fine way to have some great pony play fun at the event and I was glad to have been able to help out here.


New York In June
Not quite two weeks after going Back East to see my Mom I once again went well east of the Mississippi.  This time it was off to New York where Ann flew me in for the weekend to see her as she worked her way up through the Northeast.  It was a wonderfully romantic thing and a fun way to spend our weekend together.  We aimed to do but one "big thing" each day I was in town and thus not rush ourselves in the process.  Neither of us were there that weekend to do anything other than see each other.  And if we happened to see some sights of the Big Apple then so much the better.

The first of these that Ann and I decided to see was the Statue of Liberty.  I'd never been.  Now I have.

Lady Liberty

I was rather moved at all the symbolism and history behind this landmark.  The French gave the statue to us as a means of protesting their lack of liberty back home.  France was a monarchy at the time so this was an oh-so-subtle means of thumbing their noses at the bastards in charge back there.  I'd thought it was to denote all the immigrants we happily received.  Well, yes but... Most of those immigrants weren't from France.  So the political spin now makes more sense.

The lady the figure was modeled after was sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's mistress - not his wife - and that caused no end of stink at the time.  I like the idea that liberty is not some prim and proper thing but messy and embarrassing to the powers that be.  Also, the nation has changed a bit since the Statue was set up.  At its dedication back in October of 1886, women were prohibited from attending the event.  The ceremony to dedicate the statue about liberty for all was restricted to men only.  Women in this country at the time had not the liberty to even vote.  I love historical stuff like this.  Looking around at the Statue today I saw other changes:

Liberty's Security

Given today's political climate it's no surprise that security is now a heightened thing.  The same human vermin who thought it appropriately symbolic to destroy the World Trade Center and the Pentagon wouldn't bat an eye about destroying this other uniquely American symbol.  Hence the security cameras festooning the thing.  Hence also the security checks present down at the Battery where you boarded the ferries to head on out to Liberty Island.  I can see checking for bombs and such.  I can see checking for guns and such.  You might even make the case for checking for "weapons."  But they even prohibit anything that can be classified as a "tool" from being taken along with you.  So, if you happen to be one of those folks who always carries your Leatherman with you on your belt then you'd best leave it back in your hotel room or else it'd be confiscated by the authorities.

In my case it wasn't a tool but rather my Kershaw Vapor that came to grief.  Now, I did know that there was gonna be security checks there before boarding the Ferry.  Fine.  I figured they were but looking for bombs or guns and certainly not a knife with a blade that is all of three inches long.  Well, had my knife been a non-folding thing then I would have had the option of walking back out to the grounds of Battery Park and secreted it somewheres for me to retrieve at a later time.  Or had I been an active duty military type or law enforcement type they would've simply let me through with it.  However, I'm neither of those things and nor did I have the option of hiding it outside.

You see, my Kershaw Vapor fit their definition of a "gravity assisted" knife and is thus illegal to possess in New York city.  Heaven forbid that the public has access to any such "infernal" device as a knife that you can flick open with your thumb!  The idiocy of such a prohibition is but one more indication our governments want us all to be but unarmed sheep in their presence.  In any event, me and my Vapor soon parted ways.  I've since purchased a replacement via eBay but the whole thing still rankles me considerably.

One of thing I learned about my time on Liberty Island was that if you want to do more than just gaze admiringly at the Statue of Liberty from a distance then you must needs purchase a "Monument Pass."  These are the special and limited tickets that allow you to get up and inside the Statue itself.  Without those you are only allowed to walk around the outside of the thing.  That's nice but no substitute for actually being able to do more.  A lesson learned.

When we went out that morning to go to the Statue of Liberty we were all business.  We had a specific time to get there and get to the Island.  Thus we were real direct in getting to the Battery and then in line for our Ferry departure.  Coming back however, such was not the case.  So, we had some time to take in some of the other things that Battery Park have to offer.

Among these were the battery of Lady Liberties.

Lady Liberties

God bless the free market capitalist system!  Here you not only had an opportunity for a truly tourist trap moment to commemorate your Statue of Liberty experience but you also had a choice of different Statue of Liberties with which to enact your tourist trap experience.  Yeah, it was simply to much to resist.

Yeah, I did it

So, I didn't resist.

I'm da man!

I figure if you're gonna be mired in a cheesy tourist trap moment then you'd best fully embrace it.  So, that I did.  I've pictures of Ann in full Lady Liberty Tourist Trap moment but she's threatened me with a dire fate ere I post them.  Thus I think they'll make fine leverage for extortion at some future point!  :)

That Saturday night in New York Ann pulled out all the stops.  She'd set up a town car to take us down to the Battery earlier in the day and then had it come 'round again to take us out to Central Park that evening.  It's destination then was for our evening's horse drawn carriage ride through Central Park.  She'd even procured a bottle of fine champagne and had it chilled in the hotel's kitchen in anticipation of our excursion.  We dressed up, climbed into the limo, headed off, and arrived 59th Street across from the Plaza Hotel.  That's where the hansom carriages line up and accept their fares.  Ann was soon out and walking the line of horses to find one which spoke to her in the right way.  This quickly accomplished we were on our way.  And no, I did NOT take my camera along.  I wanted to spend not a single moment behind the lens for this experience.  It was well worth it.

The evening was a pleasantly warm and nicely humid one.  Not hot nor muggy but a wonderful inner city summer's night.  The park itself was absolutely gorgeous in its vibrant green lushness.  Our ride was a fine and wonderful and truly romantic a thing.  I was very, very happy to have such a person in my life who could orchestrate such a thing as this and that is my Ann.

After a wonderful loop throughout the park and with enough time for us to polish off that bottle of bubbly our ride came back to its starting point.  We dismounted and happily thanked and tipped our driver.  I walked up to the horse who'd been our means of motivating the cab that evening in order to thank him as well.  I still had the bottle in my hands so I bent down to set it down.  At that point the horse took that opportunity to "give me a kiss."  That consisted of a full-on lick upside my head.  This, from a horse who'd been working up some lather in the evening's heat and had been but recently munching on a bag of feed.  To say I'd been slimed would be an understatement.  Getting horse spit slathered upside your head is a rather unique experience.  I can't say that I'm up for any quick repeat of such.  However, at that moment the only thing I could do was laugh.  I mean, who could I get angry at?  The horse?  The driver?  Ann?  Me?  And what harm was done?  True, it was horse slime spit all over half my head but you know, I can't say that affected my soul and nor did it ruin my shirt.  So, I laughed.  Ann did to.  After, pausing a moment to be sure I wasn't angry or anything.  And it was funny.  Even as it was gross.  I did have to tell her to NOT stick her hands in the goo that was coating half my head.

Back at the Algonquin hotel, Ann's digs for the weekend, I quickly decamped up to the room and got that horse kiss wiped off my head.

Horse Kiss

That towel should be a clinically white piece of cloth.  What you see there is the remnants of that horse's kiss replete with its spit, mucous, and chewed on horse feed.  All of which had only to recently been on my head.  Ah, romance!

The next day dawned and saw us off on another adventure.  This time it was to yet another New York landmark.


Empire State


I'd been there before.  Back when I was in high school.  That was a while ago.  So, this was almost all new to me.  A lot has changed in the decades since then.  The building's ownership has changed hands several times and the new bunch that runs this joint have taken a cue from Disneyland and done their best to make the place a major tourist attraction.  This, replete with endless looping lines to get up and into the building's observation decks.  When last I was there the only lines for that were up just below the Observation Deck itself and those lines were truly short affairs.  Now?  Now it's like waiting in line at Disneyland for the Haunted Mansion.  You went up one escalator from the ground level and that started the process.  First you ran through the maze of roped lines to get to the ticket counter.  Then more roped maze lines to get to the security checkpoint.  Fortunately they didn't seem to care ere you had any tools or non-explosive weaponry on you.  Then it was more maze lines to wrap around the circumference of the building to get you to the elevators.  Those elevators took you up to the upper level maze lines.  There it was more roped maze lines to channel you around and around to loop around the building and back to the elevators.  This particular bank took you up to the Observation Deck itself.  Finally.

The view from on high was about as spectacular as I remember it.

View from on high

That's the famous "Flat Iron Building" in this view.  I got some rather nice shots of Ann up there taking it all in but she vetoed all of them.  So, I'm stuck with this shot as proof that we were there:

Me at the Empire State

Coming in off the Observation Deck we found that the Zeppelin Waiting Lounge was now available for viewing!  That was uber cool so we hied ourselves off to it - after paying a modest fee for the "privilege."  Originally, the spire of the Empire State was meant to be a mooring mast for airships which were then the fastest means of crossing long distances.  The idea had great appeal as it meant that travelers could disembark right in the middle of New York and thus do so in the height of luxury. 

Zepplin Lounge

The unanticipated winds induced by the skyscrapers put paid to that idea.  However, the 102nd floor observatory remained.  It was recently refinished and reopened to the public.  The view from that much higher is better as you're a full two hundred feet higher than the Observation Deck.  It is but a single elevator which runs up to this level and it's one of the oldest functioning ones left in New York city as it requires an elevator operator to run the thing.

Elevator Operator's Station


I just thought it was uber cool to hang out for a bit at this level since it was otherwise such a rarely utilized place.

102 levels up

After getting our feet back on the ground we hiked over to Times Square to take all that in.  The place has become a world unto itself.  The New York authorities have decided to close off some of the more oddly shaped bit of streets that comprise the Square and convert them into pedestrian parks.  They've even seen fit to provide lawn chairs for folks to park their butts and take it all in.  While we didn't put our butts in one of those chairs we did enjoy the spectacle of others having done so.

A parked butt

At the very least this made for a more unique urban experience.  The sheer volume of the commercialization of Times Square was pretty impressive.  Fun to visit, yes.  But, like the rest of New York, best taken in small doses and always with the option of escaping it. 

Thus, that I did as I was soon thereafter back on a plane and flying out to LAX to end my weekend with Ann in New York.

Boston In May
Memorial Day Weekend 2009 saw me doing something recently unusual for me - I was back in Massachusetts on that day.  Normally, my Back East trips have been in the depths of winter.  Usually Turkey Day or Xmas or somewheres around that time frame.  Back East when Back East is but varying shades of gray with the only green to be seen being that of the pine trees.  That's pretty enough but kinda lifeless.

This year it was different though.  My Mom had pointed out how long it had been since last I was out there to see her and I had both the money and the time to correct that.  So, correct it I did.  I availed myself of the Holiday Weekend's extra days and hied myself Back East to God's Country (as Massachusetts must be since Boston is surely Heaven On Earth.)

I'd forgotten just how green Massachusetts can be.  And green it was.  Lush and full and green like SoCal only gets in early, early spring just after the winter rains and before the summer's heat which renders our environs into a pretty uniform shade of burnt brown.  The vegetation was lush and explosive in its sheer abundance and vitality.  I really do miss that.  That Memorial Day Weekend also happened to be about as perfect one, weather-wise, as you could get.  Cool and rainy one day, nice and warm and sunny and humid on the next.  Not oppressively humid like DC or Atlanta - or Huntsville - is during the summers but humid enough to remind you why all those green plants thrive in the locale.

Mom by the DUKW
My Mom and I tried doing "something" each day that I was in town.  Up first came a "Duck Tour" through the city.  The company that runs this operates a number of DUKW's - amphibious trucks of WWII vintage - on tours throughout Boston and out onto the Charles river.  This was about as touristy as you can get but it was "something to do" and it was fun.

The day started rather cool and blustery but within a few minutes of being aboard the "Liberty Teresa" things had warmed up nicely.
Me by the DUKW

The Duck Tour company has hit upon the idea of having their tour guides be comic personalities while on the job.  Our "conducktor" (i.e. our driver-guide) was the "former animal control officer Ray Beez" and was quite good at his job.  His knowledge of Bostonian lore and trivia was extensive as was his knowledge of Boston's history.  Even though I grew up just outside of Beantown and still call Massachusetts my home state I still learned quite a bit about Boston that I previously knew not.

The big fun of the Duck Tour though was getting into the water of the Charles river itself.

Getting in to the Charles river

This takes place over on the Cambridge / Charlestown side of the river and just down from the Boston Museum of Science.  Along the way to the river the tour made sure to take in some excellent views of the new Bunker Hill Bridge (a.k.a. the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge) and it is a worth sight.

BHB

Soon though, we were in the wet and enjoying the scenicness it availed.

Boston skyline downtown

And even some of the more iconic of Boston's icons:

Iconic icon

There were a lot more things to be seen on the tour that I got photos of but these few will do to get the point across.  One particular image though is something of a classic for those folks from Boston and that's the Hancock Tower.

The Hancock Tower

I've always liked this building and remember when it first went up and when the building's architects began learning about wind induced structural flexing in large scale structures.  That's a technical way of saying they learned how to keep the building from swaying so much in the wind that it popped its windows out.  I think the Hancock Tower looks a whole lot prettier without large sheets of plywood covering the holes those popped windows left.

After we finished our Duck Tour excursion we found ourselves still with some time left in the day and also being in downtown Boston so my Mom suggested we head over to the ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art.  This was but a hop, skip, and a jump away from Copley Square via the T - Boston's outstanding subway system.  This system affords some rather unique and interesting visuals.

Copley Square T Stop

We went from one of the oldest parts of the T over to the newest part as we exited at the Courthouse Station on the Silver Line.  The Courthouse Station in particular was rather grand and oh-so-modern.

Courthouse Station "tracks"

To me, a subway station is supposed to have train tracks and such.  In this case however, they were absent and the subway "train" was actually an electric bus.  The thing ran on a dedicated, underground and covered tunnel but it was still odd to see this set up.  I'd imagine it was much less expensive to set up this way.

Courthouse Station visuals

The ICA is just a short walk away from the Courthouse Station and is down on Boston's waterfront.  Apparently, the location was severely underdeveloped until quite recently.  This no doubt being why the ICA was able to score such an otherwise primo location and set itself up there.  The building that the ICA constructed for itself is a nicely modern and contemporary thing as would befit an organization that's all about being modern and contemporary.  I took some scenic shots of the waterfront whilst I stood on the ICA's deck and this shot of a rather unique feature of the ICA building:


Architectural feature

I would've liked to have taken more photos of the inside of the joint but, being an art museum and all, they had a "no camera" policy.  Ah well.

Shepard Fairey Obey Icon 1996
The featured exhibit during the time we were there was "Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand."  He's the guy who came up with the "Giant" / "Obey" posters that got plastered all over urban landscapes since the early 90's.

His "urban graffiti" was damn near ubiquitous.  It was visually bold and soon became iconic.  The message he was driving home with his Giant / Obey series was very, very anti-establishment. 

No surprise, he was also vehemently anti-Bush, anti-Republican and anti-capitalism.  His iconic style was very much a modern version of the classic Soviet propaganda posters of the 20's through the 50's. 

I knew the guy's works only through the graffiti he splattered all over the place I'd no idea he'd done much of anything else.  His showing at the ICA remedied that.  It turns out that Fairey also has a bad case of hero-worship for any and all terrorists, murderers, and nihilists - so long as they're of the political left and spew the appropriate leftist political lies.  Fairey had a whole series of leftist terrorist "heroes" from the 60's and 70's up on display in classic Soviet / PRC iconic style.
It turns out that Fairey is also the artist behind this bit of adulatory political imagery.  And it fits right in with his hero worship of all the other leftist thugs, killers, and terrorists.

I thought the irony here was immense.  Fairey made a name for himself by depicting Republican and establishment figures in a lampooning fashion whilst also "recognizing" the "achievements" of the left's heroes of the past.  So, come 2008, Fairey puts up Obama's image and does so in a way which was indistinguishable from the lampooning images he did of Bush over the past eight years.  Yet now Fairey expects us all to take the image seriously and all worship it in the same manner which he expected us to despise his imagery of Bush.

I also found it amusing as all get out that this "man of the people" artist actually stole the image that his "Hope" poster is based on and that the guy who took that picture, Mannie Garcia, had to file suite against Fairey to get him to admit that he lifted Garcia's image and used it without credit.  I think it perfectly fitting that this iconic image of our current president is one based on theft and lies.

Oh, and in recent news, Fairey got himself arrested - again - for vandalism as he sought to blight the landscape with more of his graffiti.  Calling it "art" doesn't change the fact that it is graffiti, that it is plastered on other people's property without their permission, and nor does it change the fact that Stephen Fairey makes a lot of money through the sale of his artwork and thus, every piece of it that he plasters is but more advertising for his business.

Obama Hope 2008
Gehry Stata
The next day Mom and I decided to attend a performance by the Blue Man Group.  First though, we dropped by the MIT Campus to check out their new Stata Center.  This is the architectural feat rendered by Frank Gehry - he of the Disney Concert Hall fame in LA - that now graces where Building 20 used to be on the MIT Campus.

He likes creating non-rectilinear shapes to his buildings and this works quite well here.  Hopefully, this building will be just a "procreative" for MIT as was the previous "temporary" structure.

Of course, we had to get the obligatory "we were there" photo shots of ourselves as well.
Gehry Stata

I had thought that the Blue Man Group was but a traveling thing.  Aside from their Las Vegas show.  And thus I was surprised to find that they've several "permanent" shows scattered about with Boston being graced by one such bunch.  My Mom was game for the jaunt so off we went.  The show itself was very percussive, quite humorous, and also wordless - at least on the part of the Blue Man men.  Lotsa physical comedy and physicality to the performance.  It was quite the spectacle and I recommend it highly.  I still have a piece of the paper towel they doused the audience with near the show's end.  My Mom enjoyed the event as well.

Mom and the Blue Man Group

Exiting the Blue Man Group show we decided to walk for a bit through Boston Commons and then on up Newbury Street.  This meant, of course, that we'd stroll by these fine things:

Swan Boats in Boston Commons

The Swan Boats have been part of Boston's culture for over 130 years now and are another one of those uniquely Boston icons.  The day in the park was beautiful and just the thing for an early summer's excursion.  The park itself was quite beautiful and more than a few folks were availing themselves of it.  That included this bunch:

A Commons Wedding

No doubt this wedding party was having the ceremony right across the street from where they were going to later have their reception at one of the many hotels bordering the Commons.  The setting was wonderful and picturesque indeed.  So much so that Mom is getting better at taking my picture in such a place.

The next day we decided to take in the MFA. 

Museum of Fine Arts

My Mom has long enjoyed heading down to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and today was no exception.  Especially since this particular day was a "free" one in which a corporate sponsor had agreed to pick up the tab of all who clambered about its halls.

On this visit she hooked us up with a tour guide since it had been some several decades since last I was at that museum.  This proved a wise choice.  Even though the tour was abbreviated and vigorous it was still quite informative and well worthwhile.  It covered a whole lot of ground. 

Some old guy who was a sharp dresser
Our tour took us from this portrait of this American Revolutionary here on the left...

...To this very nicely composed portrait of a woman of means with her daughters here on the right.
Some old gal who wasn't that sharp of a dresser

Sumatran sculpture
There was a whole series of these large stone sculptures retrieved from south east Asia and the like.  If I recall correctly this one was from somewheres around modern day Sumatra.

About as odd however, was this gent.  He was one of the "security guards" there in the Museum.  I sat spell and watched him for a bit.  Odd indeed would be a good description of his mannerisms and body language.
This was not our guide

Eventually it was time for me to head back to the West Coast.  Before I left though, I had to take in my Mom's handiwork in her yard.  She's been living in her house for over a decade now and aside from all the work she's done inside the house she's also done a whole lot outside it as well.  Her landscaping and gardening has wrought wonders from what used to be a pretty nondescript sandy lump behind her house.

Mom's garden

Behind where I stood to take this picture was even more of her work.

Budda In The Grass

Aside from turning the back yard into a lush thing of beauty she's also made the place more accessible in the process.  This has involved using so many paving stones that she's taken to calling it the Appian Way.

Appian Way

I was quite happy with my trip Back East over Memorial Day.  It was quite the change for me to be reminded of how green and vibrant New England can be when it's not in the depths of its usual cold and gray winters.  It was also good to see my Mom and see how she's worked to fill her life with things which are both creative and which bring her job in the process of creating them.

Without Warning & Birmo

In early February John Birmingham made he way down to San Diego as part of his "Without Warning" book signing tour.  I've "known" John for some several years now as I found his online residence once I read his first alt hist / science fiction tale: "Weapons of Choice" and ate it right up.  I particularly liked the fact that John not only had a blog with which he would post about his books but that he was also quite active on it and enjoyed conversing with his fans on it as well.  I found him very approachable and had quite a number of excellent online conversations with him and other folk gathered there as well.  That was five years ago.

Since then, John has continued to pump out a number of excellent tales that have been a real joy to read - and to discuss on his blog,  Cheeseburger Gothic, as well.  Over the past year or so John began developing a new tale: "Without Warning" and its arrival in the US was going to be a much bigger deal than his previous series, the "Axis of Time" books.  Since John is now a "name" author in the US, his US publisher decided to send him 'round on a US book tour to help pump the book.  John is an Australian, you see, so it's not quite the simple thing to arrange all this.

I was really stoked when I learned that John was going to include San Diego as part of his overall tour.  Timing being what it was, I was out of town when John was scheduled to come through.  No matter, I just left work early that day and hoped in my car to beat feet down to SD.  I'd set things up with him to take the man out for a "feed."  That's Aussie-speak for taking him out to dinner.  This to was no simple thing as John is a published restaurant's reviewer in Australia as well.  So, no Salmonellae laced  corner taco stands for the Birmo!  I think I succeeded as John  both cleaned his plate and  didn't wind up sick afterwards.

I then brought John up to the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore where the evening's signing would take place.  That was fun.  The gathered crowd got to hear some rather keen insights on the writing business and John's personal history as to how he got into it and all.  I never knew about the "Underwear Tour" but that's a tale for another time.  The gang at Mysterious Galaxy had a good time as well. 

John Birmingham and the Mysterious Galaxy Crew

That's John there on the right looking rather dapper in his leather jacket and that's Patrick hiding behind the blown up cover of John's latest book.

It was a fun evening.  After the signing I took John down to the Gaslamp and we wandered around a bit taking in the nightlife of a weeknight in San Diego.  I eventually dropped John off at his hotel and retired back to my swanky pad in Clairemont.  Despite John's suspicions I did not drive straight back to LA that night.  I really didn't.  I got a night's sleep in a did the deed early in the AM the next morning.  Really.

SWLC
My first gig for SM&A up in El Segundo took me through the Xmas / New Years holidays.  I was grateful for the work - and for the pay that the work generated.  I started attending various SM / fetish events up there in LA with the "Bondage Ball Hollywood" being but one of them.  I also hunted around for other SM events to take in and decided to hit up the Southwest Leather Conference.  That leather weekend event took place in January out in Phoenix, Arizona.  I'd heard that SWLC - as the conference in known - is a very "woo woo" thing as it's heavily focused on the spiritual aspects of SM.  I'm not a "woo woo" guy but, I had the weekend free, there was no other leather event going on that I could hit up, and a couple friends of mine said they were going to be there.  So, I went.

Truth be told, I was rather bored.  I found the event did indeed have a heavy "woo" quotient and was very, very light on the "practical" side of things due to its "theory" focus.  Were the "theory" stuff more about things I was interested in then I would've been more involved.  They weren't.  They were all about the "woo."  Fair enough.  That's what the event is about so I can't complain that the folks who are running it run it like they advertise they will.

I hung around the playspace Friday night and enjoyed the crowd. Good thing I could enjoy a crowd like that as the place was quite packed pretty tightly with folk. That was good though, as it made for a lot energy in the space. Saturday night I chose to take my “disco nap” while the Master & Slave contest was running. Had I chosen to endure the experience of sitting through another leather title contest I know I would not have been a happy guy come time to play afterwards. I knew a couple of folks who were competing – George and his slave, Toy from LA – and was rooting for them but I knew myself well enough to have stayed away from that part of the event.

Saturday night I chose to wear my Dehners, Jodhpurs, beret and black pirate shirt. With the big Heartwood at my hip and with my CHP style gloves on, I was feeling well ready for anything that night. Upon strolling down to the party I noticed this woman in a clear latex body suit over which she was wearing a full-on pony girl rig. This, replete with blinders, snaffle bit, and reins. I thought it a tad odd that there was no one around holding the other end of those reins but I figured she was rushing to get to the individual so lucky as to take her in hand.

I walked around the playspace a bit and took in that night’s activities. I spied a number of the contestants who seemed to be playing in the dungeon with no small sense of relief for having finally put the contest’s stress behind them! I went back up to my room, retrieved my toybag and came back on down for another lap or two around the dungeon. Eventually, I decided to step out and see who was hanging out in the hallway outside the playspace. Upon stepping out into that hallway that ponygirl I’d spied earlier, walked up to me and handed me her reins.

Now, I might not be the smartest guy on the planet and my ability to miss the rather blatant forwardness of some individuals is pretty well known. But when a lovely lady crosses a room to stand in front of me and puts her reins in my hands, well, even I can catch on to the intent there!

I’d not done much pony play. In fact, I’d done no pony play. Especially with me being the ones holding the reins. It involves using to much gear. I’m not much into objectification. In particular, I’m not into “human animal” play as I wanna play with other people, not animals. And I’ve thus never given it much thought.

But I gotta say, it was no small turn on for me having this fine lady prancing at the other end of the reins I soon had wrapped around my hand!

I walked her around a bit out there in the hallway. This, primarily to get some idea of what would be involved in controlling another human being in such a set up. She was wearing a pair of hiking boots on her feet while her hands were in some hoof shaped gloves. That plus the clear latex outfit, her blond hair back in a tight braid, and a nice horsehair tail coming out from the back of her harness. She was fully rigged up and ready to go.

In fact, she was hot to trot. Literally!

I took her back inside the playspace and did a loop through it. That was fun but somewhat limited. The place was even more crowded by that time and I wasn’t as comfortable with the reins and having her in such cluttered confines. So, back out into the hallway did we go.

There, I decided to take her down to the hallway’s end for some water. I told her that I wanted some nice and high prancing steps that would show her off as the pretty pony she was. I got an enthusiastic nod on that one! I gathered up the reins a bit and gave them a snap to get her moving. She was soon prancing sprightly about ten feet ahead of me as we worked our way down the hallway’s length.

This actually turned out to be quite the turn on for me. I was surprised and pleased at that. I hadn’t considered such play would have that effect for me. I guess the control, the objectification, and the visual aspects all combined in the right way. And I’m glad for it.

By the time we got to the far end, my pony girl definitely needed her rest. She was sweating nicely and had worked up a bit of a lather. Getting water past that bit though was something of a problem. We worked it out such that she wouldn’t choke on it though she did make something of a mess in the process. But then, ponies usually do when they drink. At that time it was off for another run back to the other end of the hallway. By this time I had more of a feel for the reins and we went a bit faster. It was still a lot of fun.

Back at the other end, I saw that Beauty – her pony name – was about spent. I brought her up short and told her to relax. Soon enough, I had unclipped her reins and had her kneeling before me while I next removed her bridal rig and bit. I liked how she was sweating through the openings of her latex outfit as well.

With her coming back out of her “pony space” we soon realized we actually knew each other! We’d dated back in 2000 or 2001! At that time, she was just barely edging into the scene and I was very much focused on other things than bringing a newbie along. We both laughed at the experience she’d gained in the years since! Later that evening, we put some of that experience to practice as well.

She and I wound up spending a good chunk of Sunday together. It turns out she’s still in the LA area and is also into fetish modeling, among other wonderful things, and thus I might have now connected / reconnected with a new playmate up in LA as well. Yay me!

Sunday afternoon I attended the “Dance of Souls” event. This is about as “woo woo” as it gets and is the thing which truly sets SWLC apart from other leather events. As the event program guide describes it:

“The Dance is about people bringing their focus and energies together for good intention. This modern primitive celebration is uniquely created through the energies of the voluntary participants present within a scaffolding of cross cultural spiritual traditions which involve temporary piercing, drumming, chanting and dancing.”

Set up in the same rooms which were used for the playspace, the Dance had a bank of tribal drummers making the beat for the event. Individuals within the space could either “Witness,” “Dance,” or assist. Folks would sign up to assist the Dancers in various ways – be it piercing them or coordinating the music or making sure the water coolers and snacks were always stocked. The piercing could involve anything from small incisions through which fishing line was run and then balls or bells hung off that, all the way up to pretty hefty metal hooks punched through deeply into the skin. These hooks were then tied off to some stout rope and that tied to snap-links. Folks doing such hook piercings did so for “hook pulls” in which they’d attach that snap link to the wooden frame in the center of the room and then lean back to bring the rope taut. The weight they put on it pulled the hooks and fired up sensations within them through that tension induced pain. Or, they could connect the snap links together and pull on another person’s hooks while pulling on their own in the process. Or they could simply have someone hold onto the rope and pull from there.

The folks with the fishing line would gain their altered headspace by the kinetic action of the implements they had hanging off the fishing line. This Ball Dancing would bounce those balls and bells around and with each jiggle and bounce it would fire up the sensations throughout the body.

The intent here was to work yourself up into an ecstatic headspace through the intense physical stimulation that resulted from the tension and impact through the piercings in your skin. The driving beat of the drums helped with this. The dancing of everyone around you helped with this too. The combined energy of the crowd was the final part to it all. The goal was a sort of combined and controlled frenzy where everyone built upon everyone else’s energy and headspace.

Just walking in the door to the room I felt the energy wash over me. It was a pretty powerful thing. I had some idea of what I’d expect here and I was not wrong in my expectations.

Back in the 90’s I used to set up the workshops for several LeatherFest San Diego conferences. Among the many topics I got on the various year’s programs were a bunch about SM Spirituality, SM Shamanism, Modern Primitivism, and the incorporation of Body Rituals into SM play. Richard Wolfe was one of the first guys I learned of who had information about this to present. Fakir Musifar was another. I had them both down, among others, to conduct the workshops and demonstrations about this subject. Even back in the mid and late 90’s this stuff was about as rare and as “out there” as you were gonna get in the leather/ SM/ fetish world. Back then, even the most hardened sadists would blanche at the idea of running large hooks through your chest muscles, tying the hooks off to a tree branch above you and then hanging your entire body weight on those hooks until you either passed out or the hooks ripped out through your flesh. Fakir, however, had been doing exactly just that and had been doing it longer than I’ve been alive on this planet! So, there was some history here and it was a fascinating thing to learn.

Thus, walking into the Dance at SWLC I was not unprepared for what I encountered.

This all may sound kinda gruesome and “heavy” as far as SM play goes. But “heavy” is always a relative thing as one person’s “heavy” play is another’s light foreplay. And if you can get past the temporary piercing bit, the end result is not gruesome at all.

When I was in Huntsville, for instance, one lady I knew decided to do a hook pull suspension scene for her birthday. Her sixty fifth birthday! She wound up with four large hooks in her back to spread the load and thus avoid any one of them ripping out. She was still flying long, long after her feet had touched the ground from being raised up into the air by those hooks. It was a wonderful thing her and her partner.

If you’ve the ability to channel that level of intense stimulation into that ecstatic headspace then the resulting experience can take you to some truly wonderful places mentally and emotionally. I count myself as being lucky that I’ve been able to go to such places in some of the SM scenes I’ve experienced. As a result, I had some clear idea of the benefits of this Dance and knew why so many there were so intent on Dancing as deeply as they could.

What I did see there was wonderful. Some folks were utterly blissed out and very, very high from the sensations. Some of those folk had no piercings in them at all and had gotten to that mental headspace just through the “contact high” of being around so many others doing the same. Plenty of folk were flying as a result of the Ball Dancing they were doing with all manner of balls, and bells and such strung to them through their flesh. And there were plenty of men and women there with hooks deep through their skin, their ropes taught and absolute joy radiating from their bodies.

I stood to the room’s edges taking all this in. I was just a “Witness” and not a “Dancer” at the event. I didn’t want to get in the way of anyone. This, due to health reasons – those piercings and hooks were “open wounds” through the flesh - but also to give them their space for their joy. Even at the edges though, it was a powerful experience. I watched and enjoyed and reveled in the beauty, the agony, the joy, and the beautiful joyous agony the Dancers were experiencing. I saw one master / slave couple do their own dance. They both had hooks set deep into their backs and ropes tied to those hooks. At one point, the slave had knelt down in front of her master, laid her hands out in front of her and her head upon the floor. He had then hooked his rope to hers and leaned back. This pulled both their ropes taught and I could see the hooks in her back gather the flesh there from the strain. Even though his rope was over his shoulders, and thus that took some of the weight off his hooks, there was still ample stress there and I could plainly see the pain each such pulling was yielding. Yet, in that headspace, pain was the last thing either of them was feeling.

Instead, the joy and intensity and union of the two of them was an awesome thing to behold as they danced together that way. There was a balance between the two that spoke volumes as to the depth of their relationship. That sort of intensity brought me to tears just watching it.

I was glad for that to.

I looked around and saw much more of such intensity and joyous agony and ecstatic headspace.

Part of me was flabbergasted that this event could be taking place in a national hotel chain. Yet, plainly it was and has been for some time now. The hotel staff was amply aware of the nature of that Dance and had no qualms about it. I watched one of the hotel workers quite dedicatedly go ‘round the room refilling the many water coolers set up there. His concern was making sure his hotel’s guests were provided the full measure of the hotel’s professional service. I was impressed by that. The young guy wasn’t gawking and nor was he blanching at what was going on around him.

I stayed at the Dance for perhaps an hour or so. It was an emotionally intense thing for me even just “Witnessing” the event. Eventually, my new LA friend and I made our way out of the Dance and recouped a bit out by the lobby of the hotel.

Are such things for everyone? No, I doubt that. Even for some folks who are looking for such intense physical experiences, being in the midst of such a widely diverse crowd could be off-putting. Some folks there at the Dance were approaching it from a neo-Pagan perspective. Some were approaching it from other, more traditionally religious perspectives, some were doing so from a Native American perspective. This, whether they were of such heritage or not. Still others sought joy through the experience while others attained catharsis. I watched one lad weep in heaving, wracking sobs as a result of the stimulation he’d attained from the hooks in his back. I watched one lady leaning herself back almost horizontal with the hooks through the skin of her breasts thereby holding almost all her body’s weight as she danced herself into a blissful frenzy. And I saw some folk there, pierced and participating, who were only doing so for the benefit of their partners and who “weren’t into this woo woo shit” otherwise.

Me? I dunno. I’ve plumbed some of such depths and I’ve savored the realms I’ve found when in such an ecstatic headspace. I also know how much work – and it is work – it takes for me to get into such a state. I don’t know if I’d be able to do so in such an environment. Even were I able to do so with a one on one session, so many other people being there might be too much of a distraction. Or, it might make it even more magical. I dunno. I do know I shan’t rule such out. I’ve to much experience in the scene and with myself to rule much of anything out these days. The flipside of such experience and knowledge of self however, is that I recognize such a scene and play is not likely to happen any time soon with me.

Eventually, the Dance was over and the event wrapped up. I was somewhat surprised that the Dance takes place on Sunday evening and is considered the “closing ceremony” for the weekend. That is a helluvalot of energy and headspace generated there. And to have to bring it to so soon a defined end seems at odds with the effort taken to generate it. I would think a Saturday night Dance would be better as that would allow the rest of the evening and all day Sunday to recover. But, that’s just me.

On the whole, this weekend’s event was a good one. I made a wonderful new connection / reconnection that I am very happy with. I got to “witness” a unique, powerful, and beautiful Dance that was inspiring and awesome to behold.

I will have to exercise more care though, to be sure the events I attend in the future are ones which have more interesting things for me within them. The focus of SWLC wasn’t practical enough for me to hone my SM skills and nor was it sufficiently theory based for me to find any new realizations about them either. This isn’t a failing of the event, it just reflects its focus and where I am at in the scene these days.

I don’t know if there is any leather weekend event out there which would fit that bill for me. But, since I am still “new” to the leather event world these days, the search for such will thus continue.

Life in LA

Wow.  I am MUCH happier up here than I was down in San Diego.  There is so much more going on up here in Los Angeles!  And I'm muchly grateful for it.

Shortly after getting myself situated up here in El Segundo I began casting about finding links to the various communities I wanted to be part of.  And there are many such communities up here.  I found Threshold, I found the Lair, and I began sampling all of it.  I reconnected with one of the fine lads I'd originally connected with back at Sampler earlier in the year.  In short order I managed to leave my mark on the boy and that pleased both of us.

I also found and visited as many hobby shops up here as I could.  The best that I've found thus far has been Military Hobbies out in Orange.  They've an excellent selection of kits and books and the couple that run the joint are both into the hobby - yes, she is as well!  Their prices are quite competitive and they sport a number of science fiction / anime kits on their shelves.  If ever you find yourself out there please say hello to Jim and Lindy Woody for me.

Truck Work

Mid-November of '08 saw me cooling my heels in San Diego whilst I awaited my next assignment with SM&A.  Luckily, I'd not long to wait.  But, while I was waiting I put my time to good use.  Among other things I did - aside from luxuriating in the nice dry heat of a San Diego November, was get my truck worked on. 

For several years now I've put up with having a leaky gas tank on my Ford Ranger.  Specifically, a leaky fuel filler line connection.  I'd insert the gas pump nozzle and start things flowing.  Pretty soon things'd be flowing onto the pavement as well.  Initially, this didn't happen all the time.  Then it only happened if I was applying pressure in a certain way when holding the gas pump nozzle.  Then it would happen if I left the auto-shut off click when filling.  Then it just was happening all the damn time.  I'd put this off as long as I could.  Whilst away in Huntsville it simply wasn't worth my while to spend money fixing up my truck since I only used it four or five days a month at most.  Mid-November '08 saw me expecting a El Segundo posting where I'd be driving my truck all the time.  So, fixing it was a must.  And, fix it I did.  Or rather, I had the Ford repair shop at Kearny Mesa Ford do the work for me.  I specifically asked them for the replaced part back.  And that I got.

Corroded fuel filler line

Having this thing replaced set me back a considerable amount of change.  It was worth it though for peace of mind if nothing else.  The left end of this thing is where the gas cap screws in and the right end goes into the fuel tank itself.  The corrosion is visible just after the first metal band clamp there on the left.  The rubber is completely broken.  The new part solved the leaky fuel problem and left me a much happier camper as a result.

Back to America's Finest City(tm)

I spent about another week or so in Huntsville transitioning off the proposal and packing things up.  It felt very odd to depart the place that I'd been "living" in for over half a year.  Nothing major or deeply troubling.  Just a tad odd.  The folks I'd met in the Huntsville kink community were quite friendly and all of them regretted my having to leave, hoped I'd be back soon, and wished me well in my travels.  Their hospitality and companionship made quite a bit of difference during the time I was in the Rocket City.

A weary traveler a IAH
On the flight back I got to see some fairly odd things.

Some of them were odd things I saw on the ground while waiting for my flight...

... and others were odd things I saw on the ground while on my flight.
Odd things on the ground

And that was about it.  I got back to SD in mid-November and by that month's end I was working again.  This time up in El Segundo.  For whatever reason, I didn't feel quite as compelled to take many photographs while there.  So, you'll just have to take my word for it that I was indeed there.  I do have to say that the view out the windows from the R-9 office tower were quite spectacular.  Looking north the view extended out over runway 25L of the LAX complex.  Out in the distance to the north and east are the mountains that run north of Los Angeles.  At this particular time of year I found them frequently capped with beautiful blankets of white snow.  They made quite the vista looking out over metropolis at their feet.

At December's end my Mom came out on her annual jaunt from the frozen North East.  Among other things, this time we came up to LA to take in "Gershwin Alone" at the Geffen.  If you've a chance to catch this performance as it goes around the nation you should do so.  It was top-notch excellent.

And that about wraps up my days in 2008.  I'm adjusting pretty well to the life of a consultant.  And so long as the work keeps coming, I think I'll keep in that "pretty well" mode.

Black Rose

In late October I zipped up to DC to take in my first Black Rose event.  I'd heard much about this weekend long leather / SM / fetish conference and decided to finally check it out.  I'm l gad I did.

I was particularly curious about the event as the organization which puts it on originally sprang from PEP-DC (People Exchanging Power) back in the mid-80's.  That was the very first SM group I found and began my path into the scene through.  Lotsa history there.

To make things all the more fun for the weekend, I had some "distractions" from the moment I fired up my cellphone at Washington National Airport (I REFUSE to call it Reagan National, I used to work there when it was just Washington National and just Washington National is all its gonna ever be for me!)  Upon getting my cellphone turned back on and hearing the voicemail waiting for me, I learned that I was now essentially out of a job.  The program I was working on down in Huntsville had decided that they'd essentially run out of cash and thus needed to cut back.  So, away went a bunch of SM&A consultants.  And I was among that bunch.  Yay me!  So much for being there through Xmas - as the SM&A site rep assured me.  Oh well, that's but the nature of the work.  I decided that there was damn all I could do about the work situation so I focused on the event and reasons which drew me to DC.

I've no photos from the event itself as they did NOT allow photography of any kind there.  While I can understand that, I found the DC folks in general to be far more uptight than elsewhere.  To much government work will do that to you. 

I managed to have some very good encounters while there.  Not the least of which was with this Dragon who knows how to polish boots with a beautiful energy and knows how to dance to my pain even more beautifully.

While I couldn't take photos of or at the event there was plenty of things outside the event that were worth a few pictures of.  So, come Sunday afternoon I did just that.  DC was my home for seven years back in the 80's and I still feel quite the connection to it.  Walking around outside the convention hotel I got back into that a bit.

My hotel room
See that big tree there?  My hotel room was right above it.  No, really, it was.  I think that'd be patently obvious!  Really.

Of course, if you're gonna walk around DC taking photos you gotta take at least one of the Capitol Building.  And, sure enough, I did.  This one however, is not from the Mall view.  It's over by Union Station and looking at the building from the northwest.  There's plazas, gardens, fountains, and sculptures galore around DC.  It truly is the "Monumental City."
The Capitol
What really caught my eye, structure-wise, this time around was Union Station.

Union Station

This place was just up the street from the hotel and thus readily available for my photography.  It was also a handy thing to have around as Union Station has a very well developed food court and the grub there was both better and a whole heckuvalot cheaper than the grub the hotel was putting forth.

I really like the vistas that the neo-classical Federalist style of Union Station's architecture provides.  This runs from inside:

Inside Union Station

To outside the structure:

Union Station looking one way

Union Station looking the other way

After having my fill of Union Station photos I decided to move on to my main target - the National Air & Space Museum.  When I lived in DC I'd spend hours wandering through this place.  Some days though I'd spend but a brief couple of minutes in it - just long enough to lock my bike up outside, run inside to the repeater for the Atomic Clock at the Naval Observatory, and reset the time on my watch to it.  I've not been back to the Air & Space Museum for a while so I wanted to see the changes there.  I was not disappointed.

I found this display to be very, very fitting.

Spaceship One and the Bell X-1

That's the Spaceship One there on the left and its right next to the Bell X-1 on the right.  I am always awed by stuff like this.  The Bell X-1 was the first plane to exceed Mach 1 in level flight.  That is, the first to go faster than sound.  Today, supersonic flight is a routine thing.  Back in '47 however, the "sound barrier" was a scary and lethal thing which some scientists thought simply could not be exceeded by any manned craft.  Chuck Yeager proved them wrong and that's the plane he did it in.

I think it high compliment and truly fitting to see the Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne placed next to the X-1.  Burt Rutan's creation is the first privately funded and built vehicle to reach outer space.  Previously, only government funded and operated machines have done that.  The privatization of space travel is one of the bright hopes for our future.  And there's Burt's handiwork leading the way to it.

Very Fitting Indeed

Also fitting is what you can see in this view.  On the left and above is the Voyager aircraft.  That's the first plane to fly around the world unrefueled.  That is an awesome accomplishment and one which nearly cost the lives of the plane's crew a couple of times over as they achieved it.  In background here you'll note SpaceShipOne there out in the main hall.  On the right in the photo is the Apollo XI Command Module.  That's what Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins flew in on the first manned mission to the Moon's surface.  This is heady stuff here.  Most designers would be deeply honored if anything they even worked on briefly was accepted into the Smithsonian's collection.  Here?  Here Burt Rutan has not one but two of his designs, his creations, and his thoughts turned into reality at the Smithsonian.  And not just stuck in some filing cabinet or warehouse.  Instead, Burt's works are given pride of place next to the other icons of man's dreams of flight turned real.  That is an amazing honor.

With that noted, I headed back to the hotel and a wind down of the weekend.  I don't know if I'll be back to another Black Rose but I'm glad for the connections I made at the one I did attend.

DomCon - Atlanta

In October of '08 I made my way back to Atlanta.  This time it was for the DomCon - Atlanta event.  This is put on by the same folks, Cyan and crew, who put on DomCon - LA each year.  Unlike at th LA event, I made sure to get myself a room at the site hotel for the weekend.  I also made sure to take the "northern" route from HSV to ATL and it was much better.

DC-A is a good deal smaller than DC-LA.  It's a newer event and even though the Atlanta metro area has exploded in size of late it still is but a small patch of ground compared to LA and its metro area.  So, DomCon Atlanta has some catching up to do with its LA sister event.

Still though, the crowd there was fun, friendly - for the most part - and there was plenty of eye candy about.  It was also interesting for me to see just how much the leather / SM / fetish community in Atlanta had changed since I lived there in '89 / '90.

While there I caught up with these two fine gents:

That's Gabriel on the left and Lee on the right.  When I took this picture Gabriel was in about the last full month of his twenty first year.  His mane caught my eye straight aways.  I was flattered that I caught his eye to.  We've kept in touch since and I'm glad for that.

Lee there on the right is busy at work.  No, he's not working it with Gabriel.  Instead he's there manning his booth.  Lee is part of the crew which runs "Marvelous Mayhem" out near Stone Mountain, Georgia.  That's just a tad east of Atlanta itself.

I first met Lee some years ago at an IML and picked up a really cool leather arm sleeve / harness thing he was selling.  Then I met him again earlier this year at DC-LA.  Over the summer I got in touch with him to make me some leather jodhpurs and I was very pleased with the results.  They've now become the "signature" leather gear for me just as my leather lace-up cod piece pants were back through the 90's.
Gabriel and Lee



Folsom 08
September saw me zipping off to SF for its Folsom Street Fair and weekend.  I try and make this annual event as often as I can.  This year I scored a hotel room right on Folsom and I had an excellent time.  Having a room right there meant I was able to do several "costume changes" through the course of the event's afternoon.

The day's start
Costume Change 01
Costume Change 02
Costume Change 03 at day's end


DragonCon 2008

Back shortly after I landed in Huntsville and realized I'd be there for a while I began looking around for things to do whilst I was there.  Looking ahead, I realized that there was DragonCon over in Atlanta and that it would be taking place over Labor Day Weekend.  If I was to have any weekend I could be relatively certain of having off it'd be Labor Day Weekend.  Thus, I made plans to attend this huge science fiction convention.  And when I say huge, I mean HUGE.

DragonCon bills itself as "the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the US."  Having now been there, I can attest to the essential truth in their words!

The convention takes over not one, not two, not three - but four downtown Atlanta hotels.  Four of them.  Filled.  Filled entirely with SF / Fantasy fans.  As I type this entry in February of '09, the four main hotels for DragonCon 2009 are now all sold out.  This, some six months out from the actual event.  And DragonCon has been doing this for years now.

I only figured out that I'd be able to attend DC in early June of '08 so I was very much SOL when it came to scoring a room at the convention rate.  Hell, I was luckless scoring a room at any rate.  At least so back in June and July.  Come early August though, I learned that the Hilton Atlanta had rooms available - at their premium non-convention rate.  Well, having been to enough cons "back in the day" I knew that there was really no substitute for having a room on site at such events.  So, I sucked it up and booked it on the double quick.  On the whole, I'm glad I did.  Having a room "right there" made the event that much more practicable.

Come the weekend I packed it up and headed east.  Well, I headed south south east as I followed the route that AAA had mapped out for me that cut at a slight diagonal down through Alabama until I reached the 20 and could cut straight east.  The lady at AAA Alabama Huntsville assured me that this was the best route.  This, even though Route 1 was a direct access road that went through one little town after the next.  Well, she lied.

It may have been the shortest mileage wise but the route was an exercise in frustration as it went through stop light after stop light, town after town, and plenty of traffic that was rolling little faster than I could walk.  I wanted to strangle that AAA woman!  Eventually, after about five hours of driving, I got into Atlanta.  Later, I learned that most folk in Huntsville preferred to take the 64 up and across through Chattanooga and then down the 75 into Atlanta.  That route is some thirty or so miles longer but Google lists it as taking but ten minutes longer to traverse.  Over my stay in HSV I had occasion to hit Atlanta twice more and I found that "northern" route to be a helluvalot faster and far less aggravating that grinding through the length of Alabama via what are essentially just glorified back roads.  Grrr....

Anyway, I checked in to my hotel, tried my best to shed the hours spent fighting through Labor Day Weekend traffic on the roads, and then headed out into the fray of the Convention itself to get my event registration.

Did I mention that DragonCon is huge?  Okay, I just wanna be sure that point is clear.

Three of the four host hotels are all next door to each other.  I spent most of my weekend at DragonCon shifting between my hotel, the Hilton, to the Marriott Marquis, and then over to the Hyatt Atlanta.  Primarily it was between the Marriott and the Hyatt though.  The Hilton didn't have nearly as inviting a lobby as the other two.

Everyone who's been to DragonCon always mentions the lobby of the Marriott Marquis.  And they're right to do so.  If I had to envision what some far future exotic luxury space liner's interior would look like - the lobby of the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta would be it.

I don't know who the architect was for this beauty but they sure got it right.

The shapes are all wonderfully curving and semi-organic.  The interior space it contains is vast and it's being open all the way up makes for an awesome vista no matter where you are.

Over the years quite a few folk have availed themselves of this space in unique ways.  There's been bungee jumpers leaping off the upper balconies.  There's also been parachutists parachuting down from those upper balconies.  Yeah, the hotel goes up that far and there's enough space inside its lobby for all that.

This place makes for THE perfect setting for a science fiction convention hotel.

In comparison, the Hyatt's lobby seemed rather dowdy in comparison yet it to was pretty futuristic in its day.  The after hours events for the Con took place mainly over in the Hilton's lobby bar and the Marriott's lobby in general.

The crowd here was always heavy and thick with eye candy galore.

I took over five hundred pictures while at my first DragonCon.  I shan't include the all here though!
Marriott Marquis in Atlanta

What I will include are just some of the highlights and more interesting images I found while at the event.  DragonCon is not just about science fiction and fantasy.  Just about anything and everything media related also can be thrown in.  Costuming is very big at DragonCon and the creativity some folks showed in this was really impressive.  Subjects here ran the gamut from your traditional sci-fi tropes to anime to fantasy to comic book to humor to movies to recreationists to just about anything else you can imagine.

Two John Waynes
I mean, where else but DragonCon would you be likely to find not one, but two John Waynes?  And both with the same painted lady at their side?






Flying Spaghetti Monster
If it was a unique form of absolution you sought, one which was otherwise unobtainable from conventional religion, then perhaps the Flying Spaghetti Monster is your god of choice.  If so, then your god was at DragonCon.




Software CD Pirate

Or perhaps a bit of piracy was more your thing.  Of course, this would have to be an appropriately modern piracy with an appropriately modern pirate.  This fine gent here on the left fit that bill admirably.
The Dark Tower as a Wide Load

The breadth of creativity and humor displayed by some of these costumers was wonderful.  This one brought all that together nicely.  I had to laugh when I saw this and had to get a photo of it.  The guy wearing this rig had a very easy time of it as he really didn't have to move around much.  Folks ensured that by being a constant stream coming up to him seeking his photograph.
Great Makeup!

Here was even more creativity and artistry.  This costume was mostly painted on and was a work of art in and of itself.  The additions of the "flesh hair" were perfectly blended.  Back in the 80's I did black and red face paint for my USSMC camo at some of the cons I went to.  Thus I've an appreciation for the effort this woman went to in this outfit.  It was truly splendid to see.
Airborne!

This fine lad here was quite the recreationist.  This outfit was one of but several he sported over the course of the weekend.  The first one I saw him in was that of a Chindit. This, replete with the appropriate British jungle rifle and, if I recall correctly, a Kukri as well.

In this instance he was wearing the full kit of a US Army Airborne Captain set to make his next parachute jump into enemy territory.  All authentic - right down to the brown leather Corcoran "jump" boots.  The dedication to the details here was quite impressive.
Rebel Ground Crew
Damn, but I about pissed myself laughing at this one. 

What we have here is an excellent example of creativity and humor combined.  All in a nice and simple package.  I saw this guy standing in the Marriott lobby holding these two batons with the lights at their tip.  A brief inquiry as to what the deal was and he began waving those batons in sync and it thus became apparent.

This guy is portraying one of the Rebel forces "ground crew" from Star Wars.  I mean, after you've just blown up the Death Star and flown back to your secret Rebel Base you're still gonna need this guy to guide your X-Wing fighter into its landing spot!  Perfect!

Not all of the outfits were humor or recreation or even specifically sci-fi based.  Some of them were but "everyday wear."  Well, sort of every day.  Take this fine lass here on the right.  At six feet two inches in height, this woman would cut an imposing figure in any event.  Striding around the convention in her leathers and carrying that whip however, she struck a commanding figure as well. 

I first encountered her on Friday night when she was dressed up as a "construction worker."  As part of her costume she had these two really big hammers.  Yeah, that's right, hammers.  Two really big ones.  No, I'm not kidding.  They were hanging from her belt.  Yes, actual hammers.  You know, tools for hammering nails and such?  Why, what else did you think I was referring to?
Amazon

But then, it wasn't all just imposing and commanding either.  She turned out to have quite the attraction to this big furry red critter here.  You might recognize him as being one of Bugs Bunny's long time foes from many the Warner Brothers cartoons of the 40's and into the 50's.  DragonCon had a lot of that walking around as well. Amazon and the Monster
Kilt Blowing
Then there was this bit of fun.

Jennie Breeden started this up some several years ago at DragonCon.  She noted that there were a goodly number of guys running around in kilts at that event and decided to have some fun.  So, she showed up with a leaf blower and tried to get a rise out of the kilted lads.

Over the years this has gotten a bit more formalized.  Now, instead of her chasing after the guys, they all come to her.  Smart woman, that.

Jennie of Kilt Blowing fame
The fun starts at Midnight was a "Running of the Kilts" across the bottom level of the Marriott's lobby.  Dignified?  Um, no.  Amusing?  You damn betcha!

Then comes the actual "Blowing of the Kilts" portion of the festivities.  I had a lot of fun doing this.  No small part of it being due to how Jennie got "frustrated" using that leaf blower in trying to get my leather kilt to do much more than billow a bit.

That's Jennie here on the left looking appropriately "embarrassed" at it all.  Yeah, right...
I really liked this guy.  In case you're not a fan of Babylon 5, this gent is dressed up as Londo Mollari, the Centauri Republic's ambassador to the Babylon 5 space station.  The man nailed all the aspects of the character.  From the hair crest to the Napoleon-esque attire to the overly grand persona.

He also was completely without fault in being overjoyed to let you take his picture or pose with you as others did.  He even had "Londo Mollari Centauri Republic Ambassador" cards printed up with his Earth-bound email address.  He only sought a copy of the photo in return.  It was characters like him who really added to the flavor and fun of the event.

Londo Mollari Welcomes You to DragonCon!
Also adding to the event's flavor was this bunch.  DragonCon is so damn big that they have a costume parade.  Outside.  On Atlanta city streets.  That runs for about an hour or more.  Yes, they have that many costumed characters and floats to make it that long. 

Among the more organized are this bunch: The 501st Imperial Legion - Vader's Fist.  These guys are as much "recreationists" as is the Chindit / Airborne lad I listed above.  Their numbers make for a pretty impressive sight.  They're hardly alone though.  Also in the parade are a whole bunch of Spartans from the "300," plenty of Ghostbusters, no few Cylons, General Zod - who was then running for President, Speed Racer in his Incredible Mach 5, a bunch of zombies, a full-up Racoon City News Network Mobile 8 news van - and if you know anything about that than it has to be kinda scary to see that driving around, almost all the know Stargate SG teams, a whole company's worth of US Colonial Marines - along with their pet Alien as a mascot, Herbie the Love Bug, and a whole bunch of others.  Made for quite the spectacle.

Stormtroopers on parade
On the whole I had fun at DragonCon.  I caught up with a few folks I knew from my time at the Baen site.  But that was about it.  I didn't really get "into the groove" of the event until it was just about over.  Having now "done a DragonCon" I'm better prepared for going back to do one again.  I'm not saying I will nor that I won't.  I'm just better prepared for it if I do.

Me being who I am, I also considered this gem one of the highlights of my trip. 

M-103 Heavy Tank

Found this beauty alongside the highway on the way back to Huntsville.  It's a gate guardian parked outside a local VFW hall.  This is an M-103 Heavy Tank from the 1950's.  It was designed to be America's answer to the super heavy battle tanks the Soviets had fielded after WWII.  Prior to the M-1 Abrams, the M-103 was as heavy, as big, and as lethal as it got for the US arsenal.  Unlike the Abrams, it was relatively underpowered and nor was it widely employed.  They didn't make many of these beasts and thus it was quite the surprise to see this one here.  It should, by all rights, be in its original dark green camo and not this "Desert Storm" scheme the VFW lads threw on it.  However, at least it's painted and thus they're taking some degree of care of it.

After making this stop it was another hour or two back to the Residence Inn and the end of my DragonCon weekend.

SF Fun

In August I headed off to SF for a nice weekend with Simone.  The flight out from HSV was through some rather crappy weather into Houston.  Due to the late inbound flight and other delays I barely made it to the gate before the bird took off.  Unfortunately, the only seat they had left for me was up in First Class.  It was either accept that or wait until the next SFO bound flight and that wouldn't have been for many hours.  So, I sucked it up and suffered through a first class seat all the way into San Francisco.  Sometimes life can be hell.  Truly.

This particular flight headed off into the setting sun and flew through some truly beauteous clouds.  With my new camera in hand, and having scored the window seat up there in front, I was able to get some rather first class cloud shots from my first class seat.

Cloud shots

While in SF that weekend Simone and I had more than our share of fun.  We even were able to take in a Ren Faire held in SF's Golden Gate Park.

I'm having fun.  Really Yes, I AM having fun.  Even in this shot.  I'm actually having quite a bit of fun.

Really.

Among other things we did in SF was head down to a Scottish store in the Financial District of Sf where I picked up the Glengarry I'm sporting here in this shot on my left. 

I was looking for something to go with my kilts aside from the beret I had been wearing.  This rather large and formal Glengarry works with the kilts quite well.

I also found that there's enough space under that hat to hide quite a bit.  This can come in handy when I've no pockets or what have you to stick my wallet and such.

Functional fashion, no less.



Wonderfest 2008

One of the more interesting things I got to do whilst in Huntsville was take in the Wonderfest convention.  No, this didn't take place in scenic HSV.  In fact it took place up in Louisville, Kentucky.  That wasn't to far from HSV, actually, just about three hundred miles or a five or so hour long drive north.  As this was gonna be about the closest I'd be to a Wonderfest and as I'd nothing else going on that particular weekend in July, I figured I'd pile into the rental car and head north.

Wonderfest is a rather unique convention here in the US as it is all about sci-fi and horror related models and toys.  There are other model conventions but those place much more emphasis on "conventional" model subjects and far less on media related or science fiction model subjects.  At Wonderfest it's always all about those subjects and nothing else.  You won't, for instance, see a single model kit of yet another Bf-109 or Spitfire or Mustang - unless they happen to have been prominently featured in some science fiction or horror film.  The specially modified P-40 from the "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" might make it in but that'd be about it.  Thankfully.

Instead, you will likely find a whole bunch of Star Trek models, a whole bunch of Star Wars models, and whole bunch of highly detailed figures and sculpts of various sci-fi, horror and manga characters, and a whole bunch of subjects derived from Japanese anime.

What really drew me to Wonderfest was the fact that it has been so long talked up at one of the primary places I like hanging out at online: the Starship Modeler discussion board.  This is a place online that I've been participating in for over a decade now.  During those years I've come to know quite a few of the folk who also hang out there and who run the place as well.  "Come to know" that is, as well as you can know a person you've never actually met.  Going to Wonderfest would change that however, as I'd now have the chance to actually meet some of the folk I'd been interacting with for a decade.

I didn't really plan on being at Wonderfest though.  At least not when the rest of the crew on the Starship board were making their plans.  For a lot of them, Wonderfest is a really big deal.  They spend a pretty massive amount of time preparing for it.  There's models aplenty to build for the contest, supplies aplenty to stock up on for the different contest, and money to set aside for all the cool schwag that's available there.

After an early start followed by a looong drive north, I pulled into the hotel up there in Louisville.  A quick turn then followed and I was over to the convention hall where Wonderfest was taking place.  There were workshops going on all day but I wanted to check out the vendor's room and models on display.  Upon arriving there I found this guy guarding the door.

Gort for sale! In case you don't recognize him, this is Gort from "The Day the Earth Stood Still."  Well, at least its a potential Gort. 

He just needs a bit more finishing and then a few coats of silver paint.

And a supra-destructive heat ray-of-death mounted behind that visor.

Oh, and for the record, this Gort is from the original film version.  Not that travesty from last year with Keanu in it.  The less said about that disgusting exercise of film making the better.

I don't know if they found a buyer for this Gort.  He looks like he's able to be broken down into smaller, more transportable parts.  Even so, I don't think anyone who flew out to Wonderfest would've attempted checking those bits.

Now, for true fans this wouldn't be a problem.  Nor would there be any problem with finding Gort a proper place to be displayed in back in a true fan's house.

Now, aside from Gort there in the Vendor's / Display room there was a buncha other fine items.  The vendors had their wares out in force.  I was hoping for a wider selection or perhaps a deeper one but what was there was pretty damn good.  This, especially if you were deep into the "mainstream" alternative media subjects.  No, that's not an oxymoron to note things that way.  Most folk who are into this stuff are not into all of it and are usually into just certain aspects of it.  There's folks aplenty who are into anything and everything Star Trek or Star Wars or Anime.  Usually, but not always, such folk don't cross their interests.  That is to say, someone who's really into Star Trek subjects probably isn't going to be into Star Wars or Anime subjects nearly as much.  Not exclusive, not all the time, but they usually don't have enough time to devote to their primary interest as it is and thus the other sub-genres get the short shrift.

So, if it was the latest Star Trek model you were after or the latest "Aztec" pattern mask for the Star Trek kit you already had or if it was the latest garage kit of Queen Amidala's silvery spaceship from Episode II (or from Episode III for that matter) then you had plenty to choose from.  So to was the case if you were looking for that perfect figure kit Dr. Jekyll or of Spawn or of Sailor Moon.

There was also art work for sale, memorabilia for sale, collectibles for sale, and so on.  HobbyLink Japan was there and they did a brisk business with their anime kits straight from Japan.  Federation Models was there and had quite a bit else to move other than their Gort figure.

For me though, there wasn't as much of interest.  I've long ago settled on 1/72nd scale for the bulk of my models.  That avails me of a large number of kits in most of the subjects that interest me - planes and tanks - but puts most of the rest out of bounds.  I'm also not all that into Star Trek subjects so all the 1/350th scale starships there didn't catch my eye.  And I already have enough 1/1000th scale - my scale of choice for such subjects - starships that I need no more.  The figures and such on sale also were not my thing.  They're nice to look at but I'm not much into that aspect of the hobby.  So, there was but a limited amount of items on sale which I was much interested in.  And even fewer of those were things I could afford!

Over on the display side of things I found much more to be intrigued with.  I really like the creativity, artistry, and skill that goes into making these models. 

2001: A Space Oddysey - Discovery
On the left here is a rendering of the iconic XD-1 Discovery from the film "2001 A Space Odyssey."   That film came out in 1968 and Wonderfest had the film's 30th anniversary as its centerpiece theme.  There was an additional display of other 2001 models as well as some full-size props and such to go along with it.  Pretty damn impressive.

Equally as impressive was this beast here on the right.  This is a home-built labor of love and depicts the Battlestar Galactica from the original TV series from back in the 1970's.  The detail that went into this model is an awesome thing to behold.

Battlestar Galactica The Original Series - The Galactica
Alien Mothership
These two images show some of the original subject matter creativity and skill that I mentioned above.  This model, or models actually, are wonderfully done.  In addition to an excellent execution and finish, they're also lighted and jammed with all sorts of little detail gems.

The little ships docked here on the right are just one example of those details.  Do they look familiar to you?
Alien Mothership detail
Of course, not all the creations here were things of such intense hyper realism.  This bit of whimsy here is proof of that.  I think this is what happens when a car modeler gets some sci-fi into his blood and cuts loose.  The result as a classic update of a classic hotrod that turned it into just the sort of "car" we all wish we had parked in our driveway!
Auburn Aero Car

Aside from the goodies for sale, the models on display, and the many workshops being presented, for most of the Starship Modeler folk at Wonderfest the highlight of the weekend was the "Iron Modeler Challenge" held on the Saturday night of the event. 

This is a multi-hour long party with food, drink and plenty of model bits with which various teams gather to create the most noteworthy assembly out of those model bits.  I wandered around this "Challenge" and took it all in.  I was surprised at the amount of tools and equipment so many folks brought with them to ply their skills.  That was inspiring for me to develop my own MMMC - "Mobile Model Making Capability" so I could partake of my hobby while on the road.

The "Challenge" is also a social event and it is there where I met the most number of Starship Modeler folk that I'd conversed with.

As I'd only decided to attend the event a week or so prior to its happening, and as I wasn't sure I'd be able to get away from work that weekend, I'd made no prior announcement of my plans.  Thus, everyone there was quite surprised to see me.  Some were kinda shocked.  Others were rather pleased.  It took some folk a bit of time to warm.  But, it was worth it overall for me.

Sunday morning I got going early and drove on down to the Louisville Slugger Museum.  I'm not a baseball fan but I know an icon when I see it and I knew that I couldn't pass this one up.  So, short order I was parked across the street from the Museum and got my shot of the Museum's giant Louisville Slugger Bat.

Louisville Slugger Bat I also made sure to get across the street and put my hands on the thing.

Thus, I can honestly say that, yes, I have touched the giant Louisville Slugger Bar in Louisville.

I touched it!

Yes, I did.

Once back at the Convention I made sure to take in the 2001 panel held by these two guys:

Keir Dulla and Gary Lockwood

That's Keir Dullea on the left there and Gary Lockwood on the right.  The panel presentation they gave was fascinating.  Aside from the enormous amount of details, insider observations, asides, and history they brought forth, it was also fascinating to watch the two of them interact.

They were obviously good friends but they were also obviously vastly different people.  Keir seems every bit the reserved intellectual.  Lockwood, by contrast, seems every bit the earthy extrovert.  They were both very much Type A Personalities and seemed eager not to let the other one best them in telling some tale of their histories.  It was a friendly rivalry but plainly a rivalry.  Considering the immense cultural impact 2001 has had on all of us, getting to meet both of these guys was a real treat.

I stuck around the Convention for a bit after that.  I bought a couple of things and connected with a few more folk from the SM site.  I did not envy Griff's many-multi-hour drive back home to Little Rock.  It put my five or six hour drive into perspective!

At that point I was back on the road south headed to Huntsville.  On the way down I decided to stop off and take a gander at the official National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky.  The Museum had yet to open at this point so I just drove around its outside and such.  I did get a couple of shots of semi-trailers full of freshly created Corvettes being driven down the 65 past the Museum.  A nice touch, that.

In the course of my driving back and forth over that weekend I also came to realize one of the merits of air conditioning - less fatigue.  I had decided to help pass the miles by calling some friends on my cellphone as I drove.  To do so however, I had to roll up the windows in order to hear and be heard via the ear piece.  In the heat of summer that meant I had to fire up the AC in order to keep from baking while talking.  Even once I was done talking - or in some cases, where I was out of signal entirely as Verizon doesn't operate in Kentucky - I decided to keep the AC going.  When I got done driving I realized I wasn't as tired as I would otherwise have been from such a time in the vehicle.

Back in San Diego I preferred not to use the AC in my Ranger.  I preferred this so much that when the AC motor seized I simply bought a shorter length of fan belt and left the thing in place.  This means of course, that I've to keep the windows open as I drive.  I simply put up with the wind and road noise in the process.  Now I realize just how fatiguing that continuous sonic impact can be.  So, I now have as one of my goals the replacement of that AC motor and the recharging of my truck.  A lesson learned.


Huntsville
At May's end I got my first assignment as a project scheduler consultant working for SM&A.  It was off to Huntsville, Alabama.  And this proved an adventure.  It also proved quite the learning experience for me.

I was originally told to expect to be out there for three months, my job authorization listed four months, the SM&A site rep told me to expect six months and I talked to other SM&A guys out there who were already a year into their own three month deployment.  So, it could be anything.  I just had to learn to be flexible and take it as it came.

My "digs" for my time in HSV (that's the airport code for the Huntsville International Airport and it's also a lot easier to type that then keep on typing out Huntsville) was this fine establishment.

The Residence Inn Huntsville

Living in a Residence Inn was not half bad.  My room sported its own little kitchen with an electric stove top , a nuke, and a dishwasher.  My room would be tended to on a daily basis, if I wanted it so, and the place had a exercise room, a little pool, a hot tub, provided free Web access, provided free breakfasts and also did free "social hour" meals several nights of the week.  The food was usually of a quality you'd expect for being "free" but that was fine.  The place also had a gas fired grill for guests to use and I learned a lot about cooking meats on it.  Eventually, this took the form of my buying a little meat temperature sensor thing to tell me when I'd cooked things long enough.  Prior to having that I'd essentially burn the stuff just to be sure.

When I was getting set to "deploy" to HSV a number of folks, upon learning my destination, expressed their sympathies by telling me that Huntsville was so... nice...  Gee, thanks for that damning faint praise.

Once I got there however, I found that there was a lot to be said for Huntsville.  HSV actually is a pretty interesting place.  A lot more interesting and cosmopolitan than most folks think.  I attribute this to there being a whole bunch of rocket scientists in Huntsville.  And that there's been a whole bunch living there for more than half a century now.  Rocket scientists being rocket scientists, they tend to get bored if there's not interesting things for them to do when off work.  Thus, HSV soon got a first class university and a whole bunch of other institutions which would normally only exist around a much, much larger metro area.  The big, big aerospace and defense businesses centered around HSV ensure this will keep going.

NASA has one of its major centers there and the US military is focusing its ballistic missile defense work at the Redstone Arsenal there in Huntsville as well.

That, in fact, is what got me to HSV.  I started work at Boeing on their Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) contract.  It was fascinating stuff for me.  You know those "interceptors" in Poland which the Russians are getting so upset about?  That's the stuff I was involved with.  Interesting to be working on something so immediately relevant to world events.

Also at Huntsville is the US Space and Rocket Center.  This place boasts not one but two Saturn V rockets on display.

Big Iron - Saturn V Rocket

This one above here is the one they have outside.  It makes for one helluva landmark.  They usually have it nicely illuminated and it is, by far, the tallest structure for many miles around.

It also happened to be but a couple of miles away from the Residence Inn there and I decided to hit the place up on the first weekend I was in town.  I got there just as the museum was closing so I just snuck around the grounds outside.  They've got an awful lot of big iron out there!

One example of which was this Atlas missile they had still in its transport cradle.

Atlas on its side in HSV

This must've been recently put outside or freshly refurbished as it still had quite the mirror sheen to its metal.  This thing was America's first workable ICBM and it was what put the Mercury astronauts up into space.  They also used to be manufactured just a few miles away from where I live in Clairemont out in San Diego.

Before I left for that day I simply had to get this shot here:

Under the Big Iron

That's me there standing right underneath one of the Saturn V's five main engines.  The mouth of that thing is some twenty or so feet above me.  To this day, the F-1's are still among the largest and most powerful rocket engines ever produced.  Their maw is enormous and very, very impressive.

And damn, I need to have trimmed my nose hairs before taking this shot!

In short order in HSV I got myself my very first laptop computer.  Thanks Mom!  This enabled me to stay connected with the world I'd left behind when I rushed off to HSV.  I also got myself into the mode of being a "road warrior" in that I learned how to and got the gear in order to take my laptop with me as I traveled.  Here's some of that spread out in one of the traveler' kiosks at the HSV terminal.

Madoc Pope - Road Warrior!

Over time, I really grew to dislike traveling through HSV.  The airport is a destination and not a major one.  Oh, its a constant one due to all the government and aerospace business there but not one of sufficiently heavy volume to warrant much of any "real" passenger jets being used.  As such, most airlines only flew in regional or "commuter" jets.  These were but slightly larger than the "puddle jumpers" I used to kick off the ramp at National back in the 80's.  Most of these were "1 and 2" configurations inside.  That is, a window seat, an aisle, and then the two other seats per row.  Standing up in the aisle of these things meant I was rubbing my head on the ceiling.  Cramped and uncomfortable was the watch word here.  That, and tight for carryon space.  I was glad that the hubs they connected to were usually but an hour and a half away.

Of course, the time that I arrived in HSV, May, meant I got to deal with the piping hot air temperatures of an Alabama summer, the sopping wet humidity of an Alabama summer, and the torrential downpours of an Alabama summer.  Most days this happened all at once!  That didn't make for pleasant flying in those jet powered puddle jumpers.

One nice thing about the small size of HSV was it made for a rather "intimate" airshow experience when they held their annual event.  Aside from the static aircraft displays, they had the Blue Angels on hand.  I missed the Saturday performance as the weather looked to crappy.  I made a point of ignoring that for Sunday and went out with camera in hand.  I was really surprised at how close I could get to those birds.

Blue Angels at HSV

Back in San Diego at MAS Miramar there's no way I could've been so close to one of the Blues.  At least not without some special - and expensive - "chalet" pass or something.  At HSV I was but a hundred feet away or less and it would've been awesome to have stood there as they fired the birds up and done their show.

Among the several bits of warbird eye candy was this World War Two B-25 Mitchell bomber.  She sure looked purty and I've plenty of close up photos of its features.

B-25 Mitchell bomber

Also out on the ramp was an Air Force F-15 up from Florida, I think, and I just had to get this requisite shot.

The screw that holds it all together

I always get a kick out of this.  For many years, the F-15 Eagle was the world's best fighter plane - bar none.  A Mach 2 capable super jet that costs millions of dollars and sports nothing but the most sophisticated technology on Earth.  And what is up at its very tip?  What is it that holds the plane all together?  Why, a Phillips Head screw!  Of course!

Whilst wandering around the other static displays, one of the typical Alabama microburst downpours rolled right across the runway and tarmac.  Stuck out in the open as we all were, we had no other place to go for shelter than under the very planes we'd been gawking at.

And lemme tell you, airplanes make lousy weather shelters when you're standing outside the things!

A carrier deck experience while on land

The only advantage to crowding underneath the plane's wings was it afforded some degree of shelter to the rain coming down.  At least until the rain started blowing sideways.  Even huddled together like this and getting soaked through as we were it was better than trying to stand out in the midst of the storm.

Storm at HSV

Actually, it was kinda fun.  I mean, you could stand there and bitch about it - and still get soaked through - or you could make the best of it.  For me, I realized that this was as close as I'm ever likely to get to experiencing what carrier deck operations are like in adverse weather.  So, I thought that was pretty cool.  I also knew that this microburst would have rolled through soon enough and that the typical Alabama sun would then return and its heat would dry us all off on the double quick.  And, sure enough, that's exactly what happened.  I was then looking forward to the Blues starting up.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  It turns out that those of us stuck out on the ramp of the airshow, and not "safely" inside one of the several pavilion style "chalet" tents they'd set up for the paying crowd, were actually safer.  At least safer than one unlucky child who happened to be in the tent which the storm blew the tent's AC unit over and on top of him.  He died from that.  And the rest of the airshow was canceled as a result.  None of us knew that at the time and were a bit miffed at the cancellation as the sun was out and the weather then perfect for more flying.  Such is life.

On one of my bi-monthly trips out of HSV, I made it back home to SD and bought myself a new digital camera.  This one being a full on SLR with a "real" lens set up.  The old Nikon Coolpix 995 had given me years of stellar service but just couldn't compete with the Sony A200 I picked up at George's Camera and Video in North Park San Diego.  One thing I like in particular about the new digicam SLR is its ability to take a bunch of images in rapid succession.  This, being something the old Nikon just didn't have the horsepower for.  The photo of the Blue Angel Hornet above, is the last photo I took with the Nikon.  And the photo of the Residence Inn Huntsville, the one at the lead to this section, is among the first I took with my new camera.

Eventually, my time in HSV came to an end.  I worked out there for just over six months.  Fittingly, on my last weekend in Huntsville, I went back to where I started - the US Space and Rocket Museum - only this time I got there early enough to take it all in.

This time I focused on doing the Davidson portion of the Museum as that's where they have the Saturn V laid out on its side.  This makes for a mighty impressive display.

Saturn V inside

The Kennedy Space Center has its own Saturn V center and it to has one of these beasts indoors and on its side.  The difference though is that the folks at KSC did their exhibit after the Space and Rocket Museum's and thus realized that it'd be more impressive if they fully suspended the rocket from above as opposed to only partially so as here.  This makes it possible to have the rocket much closer to the floor while still being well clear of it.  It also allows the viewer to be that much closer and overwhelmed by its presence.  Still though, this exhibit is damn impressive on its own.

And it was a nice way to say goodbye to the place I'd lived in and worked at for over half a year.

Dom-Con LA
In May of '08 I went up to Los Angeles to take in the Dom-Con Los Angeles event.  This was my first time there.  It differs from other such leather / SM / fetish weekend events by having pro dommes as its main focus.  This lent an interesting atmosphere to the place.  The crowd was mostly het with some bi folk there and very, very few gays.  Almost everyone there was a fetish player to some varying degree.  Very, very few folk there were from what one could readily identify as being from the leather community.

Also, as befit the event's focus, there were an abundance of professionals there.  Some were there to learn, some to have fun, but, for the most part, they were there for work.  The convention provided and awesome marketing opportunity for them and the ones there made sure to work that pretty intensely.

I went up for but the day.  I was just starting things with SM&A and I'd yet to be placed on my first assignment so my cash was rather tight.  Thus I didn't take out a room or buy a full registration to the event.  Hell, I didn't even dress for it.  Thus, I looked ever so much the tourist whilst walking around at it.

Me and Lou Ann

Still though, I had fun there.  The eye candy was awesome and it was a good way to meet folk who are in a different aspect of the scene that I've yet to explore.  I'll be back to another of these.


LLC 12

I was recently up in Sodom-By-The-Sea to attend this year's Leather Leadership Conference.  This was the twelfth overall LLC and the second one held up in San Francisco.  I went up for it even though I'm no longer nearly as involved in the political goings on in our leather community as I once was.  I went to try and reconnect with some of that and also went in order to both reconnect with some old friends and perhaps make some new ones as well.  I've more to say in regards to what I think of the Conference but that's more fitting on its own page:  The Leather Leadership Conference 12.

Here I'll comment on some of the interesting things I encountered whilst up there.  For the first I'm indebted to Michael Blue's sharp eyes.

A Sheep Native of San Francisco

Yeah, I know, you gotta have some sharp eyes yourself to see this one.  I took it with the "camera" on my brand spanking new cellphone.  Look closely at the rear leg of this little stuffed sheep.  This was in a mattress store along Van Ness just a block or so away from the LLC host hotel.  This was part of a Serta Mattresses display and I guess they wanted to make sure the little guy didn't get away.  I also guess the plastic pull-ties on his other legs weren't enough for their tastes so they used a bit more heavyduty hardware.  You gotta admit, the image of a San Francisco sheep secured in place with a pair of handcuffs is rather fitting...

Now, these next two are rather esoteric and therefore you're gonna get extra bonus points if you can peg them straight away.

First from the inside looking up:

Looking up

Next, from the streetside looking down:

Streetside looking down

This familiar to you?

I was sitting in that room awaiting the exam tech to come back in a finish the testing session run by the SF City Health folk.  As I sat there I looked up through the glassed ceiling and watched the light patterns change as folk walked across it on the sidewalk above.  It was kind of surreal.  And I could only speculate what doing scenes would be like in that room with such light effects as well.

I didn't unlimber my regular camera even though I had packed it along with me for the weekend.  I was just too busy for picture taking - thanks Simone!


2008 Begins

As I write this, dawn here in San Diego is little over an hour past.  I made the effort this year to head on over to Mt. Soledad to take it in.  That's the first time I've done this.  I also brought my camera along.

New Year's Dawn 2008

Getting up to Mt. Soledad wasn't as easy as I expected. There was a landslide back in October that took out a chunk of Mt. Soledad Road and that made for a detour.  But I had enough time on hand to get up to the peak in time and set up.  You can click on the image above there for a full north to south view.  The actual dawn looked like this:

Dawn 2008

As proof that I was there and that I didn't just grab these shots off the Net from someone else, there's this:

Me At Dawn On Mt. Soledad in 2008


2007 In A Nutshell

2007 was an eventful year for me.  In March I started working at ViaSat and had great hopes for that place.  It is a growing company and was chock full of young professionals.  I thought I could put roots down there just like at SAIC - only better!

Come June, Julia and I decided we'd gone as far as we could with each other.  Three intense years had gotten us both to that point.  Over the last weekend in June her youngest, Jacob, flew out and helped her drive back home to Oklahoma City.  Julia and I had packed her big stuff into a shipping trailer and then the rest of it into her Firebird.  That car was packed to its gills with her stuff, Luna, Jacob, and her.

A few days after she left I wound up parting with my gallbladder as well.  Lotsa fun, that.

A month or so later however, I was up and running about recovered fully.  I made it up to Orange County and took in the International Plastic Modeler's Society National Competition.  There was some awesome work displayed there.  Among the things I liked the most was the "What If?" display of the 1949 Schneider Cup Race.  The entries were all WWII warbirds put to floats as per the terms of the Schneider Cup.  This made for a lot of creativity and some very beautiful designs and color schemes came about.

IPMS Nationals 2007 1949 Scheider Cup exhibit

IPMS Nationals 2007 1949 Scheider Cup exhibit

The photos above are but a small taste of the ones I clicked through while there that weekend.  For more, and for more details about it all, head on over to my IPMS Nationals 2007 page.


It was no small adjustment getting used to being by myself.  My dog, Buddy was a big help to this.

Buddy helping

Yes, he's helping there.  Really.

A more conventional picture of Buddy

For what ever reason, Buddy never mugged for the camera as much as Luna did.  So, it was unusual to catch him in a really cool or funny pose.

Sometimes though, I got lucky...
I got lucky

In October two longtime friends of mine made their way down from San Francisco.  Bill and Larry are guys I first met online back in the 90's.  I met Bill via the Longhair groups I found back then.  I met his partner, Larry, via our interest in boots.  Larry runs Hotboots.com.

I was really happy to be able to host them during their stay down here in San Diego.  Having friends that I can show my hospitality to is important to me.  These guys fit right into that and that made me happy.

Having them around made Buddy happy to.

Bill and Buddy

That's Bill there with Buddy.  Larry just sat back on the couch and looked on.

Larry looking on

I think Larry was just hooking up his WiFi television receiver to his laptop.  Both of these guys are "old school" electronics types.  Their mutual interest in Ham Radio is what initial drew them together.  They've been a couple of decades now.

Come December my Mom came out to spend Xmas week with me.  It was an escape from the New England cold and always a nice thing to be with her.  Among other things we did was head up to LA and take in the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

There's a buncha neat stuff tucked in around the outside of the Hall and it's very much worth visiting.  Here's a shot of us out back of the place taking in the sculpture garden.

Mom and I at the Disney Concert Hall

My hair was just getting long enough to be in the "shaggy" stage.  The sculpture behind us was composed of thousands of shards of broken china.  Interesting composition.

And that, in a nutshell, wrapped up the year.



Lost Friends

2007 did not start on an upbeat note friendwise.  On New Year's Day a good friend of mine, Roadkill, lost his partner, pluG.  I didn't know pluG all that well but I knew Roadkill well enough to tell that pluG's being in his life made him happier and that was enough for me to know pluG was good people.  Julia and I attended the celebration of his life the following week.  Helluva way to start the year.  About two weeks later it didn't get any better. pluG
Jeff Burnam
Friday the 19th saw Jeff Burnam finally be overwhelmed by the multitude of things affecting his body.  Back in October at Sampler he had a really sore back that no amount of massaging could help.  Turns out that was a side effect of the tumors growing in his back, one of which had wrapped itself around his spinal column so thoroughly that it was impinging the nerves there and was also next to impossible to remove.  This was Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and they only found it very, very late in the process.  Chemo and radiation followed and Jeff was in the hospital from November on.  Julia and I got up to see him there.  Twice.  The first time was when he was in the Oncology ward.  The second time was when he was in a "reverse isolation" room in the ICU.  I lost it then.  I held it together, barely, while in his room but lost it as soon as I was out of his sight.  That was on a Sunday.  By that week's Friday he was gone.

His service packed the pews.  I think the church was listed at 400 seating capacity and it wound up be standing room only.  Typical for Jeff.  In the decade and a half that I knew him I can't recall anyone ever having an unkind word to say about the man.  He was that deeply and widely loved.  The folks gathered there were ample evidence of that.  We were also there for Boss.  I can't imagine what it would be like to have a life partner of that many years taken away from you.  The pain in Boss was obvious for all to see but he held it together long enough to get things done that needed to be done during the day.  He has lots of friends at hand to help him with this and Julia and I are honored to be among that number.

Two weeks or so later we found ourselves back at the same emotional spot.  On February 9th, another longtime friend of mine died.  Scott Greene was a man I knew here in San Diego for only slightly less time than I knew Boss and Jeff.  Scott was always around.  And he was always a smiling, happy man, and he was always with David Janisch.  Always.  Another pair made for each other.  Both had a similar irreverent outlook on life and both enjoyed collecting the offbeat.  They collected a lot of offbeat things.  I know this firsthand as I helped them move some of that offbeat stuff from their apartment to their house.  It was an experience...

I knew Scott had been ailing come the late fall of '06 but I'd no idea just how ailing he was.  On that day in February Scott decided he'd finally had enough and slipped away.  His death was a surprise to many of us.

Scott Greene
A few days later his remembrance was held at the house he and David owned and had truly made their own.  The remembrance took place in their backyard, the site of many a Halloween Party, and it was a place Scott loved to be in.  The lush vitality of the place was something he and David worked quite hard at and it showed.  Michael McKeon helped tie the event together, literally, with a "red string of life" which he ran throughout the house and throughout the backyard.  Clipped to the string were hundreds of photographs of Scott and David.  In every one you could see the joy the two had with life and each other.  He's another man who I still have a hard time accepting that he won't always be around as usual.

New Brakes
2007 Brake job After the Holidays I set aside some time to do some work on my truck's brakes.  They were making that wonderful awful grinding sound when I applied them so I knew it was high time to put in new pads.  No rocket surgery here and since I now had some experience from doing this sort of thing, the new rotors and pad installation went much more smoothly.  I swapped out the rotors as they'd become warped.  This made for a rather unsettling shimmy when I put on the brakes.  I checked around and found rotors for outrageous prices.  Robert's, where I used to always go wanted over $300 for a simple brake job.  Simple to them means removing the rotors, turning them on a lathe, and then repacking the front wheel bearings, replacing the rotors, an then putting on new pads.  Even with buying two new rotors and all the supplies I needed for the job I don't think I even came to a third that price.

Interestingly, it turns out the last time I worked on my brakes was also in February.  February of 2005.

We Got A New Dog
After TamiyaCon the months went by pretty quick.  Our landlord/property owner got done renovating the other half of the duplex we lived in.  Those renovations cost him much more than anticipated.  So, he decided to jack up our rent by 30%.  Right nice of him, eh?  We'd barely been there six months and he pulls such a stunt.  And this was for a 700 square foot two bedroom duplex.  Well, we sucked it up as we didn't have the cash in pocked to move right then.  But a couple of months later we did have the cash and we had the place.  In a heartwarming bit of irony, the guy decided to show up one day with a bouquet of flowers in hand as an apology for all the construction work noise he'd been making during those renovations.  Julia and I accepted those flowers from him and I handed him our thirty day notice that we were moving out.  Come October of '06 we found ourselves in an 1,100 square foot two bedroom house out in the suburbs.  This time around we got extra hands to help us move and that went much better all around.  We were still getting settled into the house a month or so later when we were out one night buying some dinner to take home with us.  As we pulled out from the hotdog stand in the  Clairemont Village shopping center we saw this dog running loose along the sidewalk.  No collar but no hurry either.  He seemed at ease as he loped along.  Julia's a sucker for this sort of thing and we simply had to stop.

Buddy

We asked the folks at the hot dog stand if they recognized the dog, they didn't, but they thought he might belong to someone who shops at the nearby 99 Cent store.  So, we checked that out as he was headed toward there anyway.  No one there recognized him.  So, I bought a collar, put it on him and got him in the truck with us.  He seemed to have no problem doing that.  We got him back to our place and had some hesitancy about how he and Luna would get along.  He was also a Pit, was older, and was neutered.  There didn't seem to be a problem between the two of them so we finished eating our chow.  Then I took him over to the nearby animal clinic to have him scanned for any chip.  No luck there either.  So, it was back in the truck and home for the two of us.

We set up a bed for him in the living room but he seemed to want outside more than in so that's where we found him in the morning.  That day I put up "Found Dog" posters throughout the area where we found him running around.  We then put notices in the paper and lit up the SD Animal Shelter.  No way were we going to hand him over to them.  As a Pit, he'd have a black mark against him right off.  He was also older and an unknown quantity as far as his behavior goes.  So it would most likely be a brief stay there before being put down.  We got a hold of Beth Gruff, from whom we got our Luna, and she was real helpful with suggestions for where to put notices and spreading the word around.  After two weeks of this however, we got no responses to our ads. And we decided to keep him.  He seemed to respond to Buddy well enough so that's now his name.

Our Buddy

We were worried how well he and Luna would get along but that turned out not to be a real problem.  He and Luna soon were romping all over the house.  Amusingly, Buddy kept trying to mount Luna.  First off, Buddy is fixed.  Secondly, Luna is not only also fixed but she's never gone into heat to begin with.  So, she hadn't a clue as to what he was trying to do.  She took it as another form of play.  Soon, she would try mounting Buddy as well.  This, replete with thrusting hips and all.  She's a quick learner even if she's clueless.  The two have now become quite the pair and Luna has found herself to be much stronger and dominant than Julia and I ever thought she'd be.

Fitting In


TamiyaCon '06
April of '06 saw me up in Aliso Viejo to take in another TamiyaCon.  I was a bit more prepared this year, I had cash in pocket which was very different from the '05 event!  I also took a whole bunch of pics of the hardware and models on display.

The Sherman

This was pretty damn impressive.

On display here is a Sherman tank.  The was America's preeminent tank during World War Two.  It wasn't the best tank in the war but it was the most numerous tank used by the US and the UK.  Thus, what it lacked going up against Nazi Panthers and Tigers it made up for in overwhelming numbers.  For its day, this was a big and heavy machine.  Parked just a few feet away from the tank was America's latest bit of heavy iron, an M-1 Abrams.  As an indication of size, an entire Sherman could just about fit on top of the M-1's engine compartment alone.  While the Sherman wasn't the best tank in the world by the time it stormed ashore at Normandy, the M-1 is the best tank in the world today.

As much as I like the M-1, the Sherman stole the show.  It's no small feat that this sixty plus year old machine even exists - let alone is able to move under its own power.  Yet, that it does.  At one point during the day the Sherman's crew decided to fire up its big honkin radial engine and let it run for a bit.  That was a unique experience.  I've heard the M-1's engine run.  It's a gas turbine and has a particular wail as it works.  Not so the Sherman.  That thing had a deep growling purr, as is typical of radials.  That's a sound you do not hear every day and coming from a half century old tank you hear it even more rarely.  It was music.  Pure music.

And that old engine puffed out an awful lot of smoke.  All of which wafted all over those kids and their fancy new M-1.

Also on display outside there was a US Army half-track from WWII.  I've always like the lines of these machines and it was bit of eye candy to see one on display here as well.

Halftrack

Going inside there was plenty to see.  I find it very inspiring to look upon the creations of other modelers.  Some of these are absolute jewels and things of beauty.  This Zero, for instance, was truly stunning.

Polished Beauty

Its creator was there and was rightly enjoying the attention for his work.  This photo really doesn't do the model justice.  He used metalizer polishes to create a model that looks the world like a true metal beast and not a bit of injected styrene.  It wasn't at all surprising to see him among the winners that year for his creation.

Among the many other models on display was this one:

Swallow's Nest

Dennis Gerber made this one.  It depicts a Me-262 undergoing a bit of maintenance in the field.  If you look behind the chains hanging down from the crane assembly you can make out a jet engine.  This was one of Dennis' creations and was an absolute jewel.  The whole thing was exceptionally well done.

I took over a hundred photos at this year's event but thought these few would do the job of depicting the highlights from the weekend.




Something You Don't See Often...
A rainy day in March of '06 brought forth something you don't very often.  Especially not just outside your own front door.

Rainbow outside your front door

Sometimes You Never Can Go Back...

Well, I'm not the only on 'round here who believes in making changes!

Back in November of '05 Julia and I had to move out of the house we were renting in Normal Heights.  I'd been living there since the fall of '96 and, while the place was hardly perfect, it was my home.  Unfortunately, it wasn't really my home, it was just the home I was renting.  The real owner was someone else.  Someone who unfortunately died of a heart attack in the late summer of '05, leaving his worldly estate to his sister.  She lived in Chicago, not out here in California and decided to sell her brother's properties rather than try and manage them from afar - and also to help pay the estate tax that came due with the inheritance.  In any event, when all this finally came down, Julia and I had to get out and find new digs.  Which we did and which, all told, are much better digs than what we'd been living in.  This, if not more expensive digs.  At the very least however, there's one thing that the new place doesn't have which the old one did and which I shan't miss - mold.  The old Benton Place house was riddled with it and I know that couldn't have been healthy.

Well, aside from all that, I still have an interest in what would become of the house I'd lived in for so long.  Longer, in fact, than the owner I'd been renting it from.  Back in February of this year Julia and I dropped by the house of some of our old neighbors, Robert & Robert.  They're great guys who also have a Great Dane and they'd befriended us as their dog, Uma, had befriended our dog (our Damned Dog) Luna.  It was good to see them and catch up.  One of the things we caught up about was the fate of our old digs.  It was kind of hard not to do this as we had to drive by the old place to get to theirs and the changes the new owner had been making were, well, not on the subtle side.

Here's what I saw that day.

5112 Benton Place - from the front

There are times when you actually can't ever go back.  This is one of them.  The new owner of the old house decided that it made more sense to raze the place then try and fix it up.  I can't say as I blame him.  Still though, it was striking to see.
I stood across the street to take this one.  Unfortunately the dumpster blocks some of the shot but the effect still comes through.  The roof is gone, the south walls are gone and the yard is torn asunder.
Quarter view from the south east
Quarter view from the north east
Here's the place looking from the north east.  From this perspective, I think the new owner was intending on keeping some of the place intact.  Perhaps trying to get away with calling it a "remodeling" instead of a completely new build.  Otherwise I'd be hard pressed to explain why he kept intact the stucco around the power connection and the power connection itself.
This is what's left of the front door and its front steps / porch.  It's just a mound of dirt now.  The front door of my old house was actually a pretty hefty bit of woodwork and it was rather nice, except that it was masked by a really cheaply done wood framed screen door.  All that's gone now.
Front door
Why?
I don't get this either.  The house has been gutted.  The roof torn off, the wall opened up, the kitchen ripped out, the flooring ripped out.  The garage razed, the driveway and patio broken up, the stucco ripped off the house, the walls so demolished that their remnants needed to be propped up by lengths of 2x4's - yet they chose to keep two of the windows in place and untouched.  With all the demo'ing going on it must've presented something of a challenge to have kept these two expanses of glass in place and untouched.  Yet, here they are.  These are what's left of the newest things which were in the house.  I've no idea why Don, the former owner, decided to have the windows all replaced on the old house.  Yet he did.  And here are the only two windows left in the entire house.  Go figure.
Living room
Looking into what's left of the hold house.  On the left here is what was the living room and the front bedroom.  There'd be the chimney obstructing most of this view here.  That was one of the less charming things about the old house as the chimney was slowly peeling away from the house.

On the right here is a view into the rest of the house.  The living room, bathroom (you can see the plumbing stubs sticking up there,) and back bedroom are what would've been in this shot.  That, along with the kitchen and floor!
Open inside
Front bedroom window
On the left is a view through what was the front bedroom window.  That's where I had my "office" set up.

On the right here is a view of just some of the termite damage and dry rot which afflicted the old property.  The house had originally been built back in the 1910's or early 20's.  It had settled a bit and not been all that well maintained over the years.  In such a mild climate as San Diego's you can get away with such poor tending to for a while.  But not forever.
Termite damage
Since last I took these pictures, Robert told me that the house has now been completely razed.  Nothing but a scrapped lot now exists.  It'll be interesting to see what the new house looks like.  My guess is that the new place will be a bit bigger than the thousand square feet of the old house.  To do that it'll have to expand to the south side of the property and that'll mean that the postage sized yard the old house had will disappear.  Back when I lived in it and had daydreams of "what would I do with this place were it mine to do with" that's what I thought of.  The garage being razed was a no brainer.  I was somewhat amazed it was able to remain standing, what with the condition it was in.  But standing it does no more.  That'll make the expansion easier.  We'll see.

More Changes
Change is good.  Change or die!
Change is good.  Change or Die!

Well, with that in mind, there's been some changes 'round these parts.  As I type this, I'm reveling in the fact that the third full week of my new employment has just ended.  And it ended with my first regular paycheck too!  Damn, but that feels good.  It's been too damn long since last I held down a regular job.  Hopefully, I'll not have to go through filing for unemployment again any time soon!

This new company that I'm working for, Sayres & Associates out of Bowie, Maryland, seems an excellent match for me.  I'm working for them as one of their employees while they're "contracting me out" to Lockheed Martin.  Thus I get all the benefits that come from being a staff regular employee whilst also getting all the benefits of being a contractor as well.  Believe me, I appreciate this opportunity and am glad for the work!
There's also been a few other changes in these parts as well.  Most visibly, is my hair.  I'm no longer a Longhair.  After some five or six years of being one I decided that it was time for a change.  I cut off my mane back in November of '05.  I do miss it at times but not enough to regret having made the cut.

I grew my hair out long because it was something I'd always wanted to do and had never before had the chance.  Once long, I kept it long for several years.  I liked it.  Others liked it.  And that was it.  For a few years at least.  After that however, I grew tired of it.  My identity has never been wrapped around the fact that I had long hair.  Long hair was but a part of me.  I did intensely dislike the anti-Longhair comments that I would encounter from time to time.  Some of them were flatly thoughtless and reflected quite negatively on the person making them.  I also appreciated the compliments on my mane as well.

But, the decision to cut it off was mine.  Julia wasn't happy with it but she knew I wasn't happy with it either.  Having my hair that long took a lot of extra care on my part and it also was a pain at times.  Some times literally as keeping it back in a ponytail could give me a headache from the tension on my scalp.  I also didn't like having to wear a bandanna whilst driving just to keep the hair out of my face.  Now, with the short hair, that's no longer a problem.

Right now I've got my hair in a crew cut.  And at this length it'll likely remain for a while.  I will let it grow out to something less severe but I'll not be going for a mane of hair any time soon.  Like I said, change is good.  Change or die.  So, I changed.

It's gone!

Xmas 2005
December of '05 saw my mom come out here for Xmas once again.  Here stay was brief but much appreciated.  Among other things, she and Julia finally got to meet each other.  That was good for both.  Julia zipped back to OKC for Xmas day with her boys and their family, thus leaving my mom and I out here in America's Finest City to enjoy the Holidays.  On the to-do list this time around was checking out the skating rink at Hotel Del Coronado (called the "Del" by those of us in the know...) and enjoy a day at the beach.
Ice rink at the Del
This is one of those quintessential California moments.  Here it is in San Diego, out on the beach on Coronado Island at the Hotel Del Coronado, palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze, the sound of the surf murmuring in the distance, people enjoying the nicely warm weather, and donning their ice skates...

Go figure!

Being sharp business folk, the owners of the Del installed a temporary ice skating rink out on the beach side of their massive hotel.  It made for quite a sight.  And it drew an awful lot of folk who paid money for the experience of skating by the beach at the Del.  Can't say as I blame them!


As this was an ice skating rink, the folks at the Del did observe proper ice skating rink propriety - i.e. they had their own Zamboni machine!

True, it's but one of the hotel's many golf carts rigged up with an ice scraper and smoother assembly but, hey, every proper ice skating rink has to have a Zamboni machine - homegrown or otherwise - in order to be consider a rink worthy of the name!
A homegrown Zamboni Machine
Mom at the Del Xmas '05
Aside from enjoying a nice winter's day at the beach, the main thing that folks come down to the Del for during Xmas to gawk at the big Christmas trees the Del sets up in the hotel's lobby.  A tourist trap for sure but it is nicely done and the setting makes a nice jaunt for the day.  That's me mum there on the left and me here on the right.
Me at the Del Xmas '05


Toby Comes To Town

Late August of '05 saw Julia's eldest son, Toby, come out for a quick weekend's visit with us.  He had a break in his med school studies and needed some quick time off.  The flights out from OKC were cheap enough and it had been long enough since last he'd seen his mom that it made good sense to give a go.  This was Toby's first time out to America's Finest City and we all enjoyed his being out here.

Diedre Toby and mom on Coronado Beach

That's Diedre, one of Julia's clients, there on the left and that's the Hotel Del Coronado (called the Hotel Del by those in the know and called the Del by those really in the know) in the background.  The day was bright, sunny, warm and perfect to head out to the beach.  Toby even got his feet wet in the mighty blue Pacific.  All in all it was a good day with kin and friends.



Gaylaxicon 2004
After a dry spell of over four years the world finally saw another Gaylaxicon.  This time the event was held here in San Diego and that makes it the first such gay & lesbian science fiction convention held on the West Coast, period.  As it was in my backyard I thought I'd drop on by.

Aside from being a fun event all on its own, there was also the presence of my friend Kevin and his partner Andy.  They'd driven down from San Jose to attend this event as trying to fly down would've been problematic given all the gear and costumes they'd brought with them.  Both Kevin and Andy are very much into costuming and also throwing good parties at conventions.  This time was no exception.

The guests of honor at this year's Gaylaxicon were author David Gerrold, performer Virginia Hey, and artist Joe Phillips.  Virginia has had a long career in performing genre roles with one of her first appearances being in the Mad Max 2: Road Warrior film as the "warrior woman" character.  Her most recent bit of sci-fi acting was in the Sci-Fi channel's "Farscape" playing the blue alien woman, Zhaan.  Ms. Hey was very charming and it was fascinating to listen to her tales from behind the scenes of her career.

David Gerrold has been earning a living as a science fiction writer for most of his adult life - and that's no small achievement.  As put in the Gaylaxicon program booklet:

Hugo & Nebula award winning author of The War Against The Chtorr, Jumping Off The Planet, The Martian Child, The Voyage of the Star Wolf, The Man Who Folded Himself, When HARLIE Was One,  and "The Trouble With Tribbles" episode of Star Trek.

I first discovered David's writings when I picked up a copy of "Yesterday's Children" back some years ago.  It was a tautly written bit of hard SF that was very well done and a tale that stuck with me through the years.  Recently, the book came up in discussions on the Starship Modeler site.  We were speculating what the ship in that tale, the Roger Burlingame, looked like with the intent of perhaps making a model of it.  I had to hunt down a replacement copy of "Yesterday's Children" as my original one had become lost in the seas of time (and of moving clear across the country too!)  Reading through it I found there were precious few references to the shape, size or structure of the ship.  Thus the project stalled.

So, when I discovered that the good Mr. Gerrold would be at the con' I made sure to bring my copy of the book and also to bring along my questions.  Well, as it turns out, David did indeed detail _exactly_ what the Burlingame looked like and even went to the extent of having models and CGI made of it.  This, in an effort to bring his tales to the screen.  Now he and I have even more to talk about.  Hopefully it will just be my enthusiasm for the subject which prys loose this info or otherwise I might have to procure him another redhead (to make up for the one which the Gaylaxicon staff _failed_ to procure for him at their event!)

One other fun thing at this convention was its Masquerade.  This is a little costume ball/ show and while a bit impromptu this time around, Kevin and Andy were able to find some folks who were very creative and willing to share some of that with the rest of us.  Among the entries were these two:

Emperor of the Universe!
On the left here is the "Emperor of the Universe."  Inspired by Asimov's "Foundation" series, this was a charming bit of costuming that was both fun and simple to do.

On the right here was something else entirely.  This woman clearly is deeply into costuming and her outfit was very impressive.  I'm not sure exactly what the inspiration was but the result was wonderful to see.  Check out the fur boots/ feet.  No, not terribly practical but it had a lot of wow power.
Very cool!

Of course, Kevin being Kevin, had to have at least _three_ different costumes to go through while he and Andy did their MC'ing duties for the Masquerade.  His first outfit was a fun spaceman bit - replete with helmet, backpack and working radio! 

Underneath that was his next outfit.  Kevin was "Gary" and Andy was "Ace" of the "Ambiguously Gay Duo" from the  Saturday Night Live skits.  The audience got a real kick out of the quick change in costume and also at how well Kevin filled out his superhero outfit!

Of course, he couldn't leave well enough alone and soon was back out on stage in his third outfit.  This was as "Jungle Boy" in a zebra stripped outfit that showed a lot of skin.  The crowd loved that too and Kevin even got Joe Phillips to do a sketch of him in it the next day.
That Ambiguous Duo

After the Masquerade it was up to Kevin and Andy's room for their cocktail party.  Kevin was still in his Jungle Boy outfit (imagine that!) and served up some really spiffy glowing cocktails!

All in all this was a good weekend and a nice way to get back into the "Con going" business.  I'm not sure when the next SD or LA convention will be but I'll be keeping an eye open for it.  At this one, as I was a local guy who went home to his own bed each night I didn't have to worry about pacing myself.  That's something which I guess this guy made a mistake with as he decided to catch some shut-eye in an odd way and an odd place!

OKC
April's start saw me off to Oklahoma City to spend some time with my Julia (who looks even better in person!)  This was a good thing for the two of us and we both enjoyed the intimacy and the intensity.  We also got a chance to enjoy a wee bit more of what OKC has to offer.  Among other things, one of these gems was the Crystal Bridge.
The Crystal Bridge Botanical Garden
This is a rather unique structure.  Inside it contains several micro-environments all of which are very lush and exotic gardens.  There's a "semi-arid" zone, a tropical forest zone, and even a "rain forest" zone with actual "rain."
The inside of the Crystal Bridge
The place is quite spectacular and well worth the $5 admission.  There were a whole bunch of little critters skittering around and the plant life was beautiful to behold.
Alas, my stay with Julia was eventually at an end.  These partings have gotten harder and harder.  This time around I flew on Frontier/ Continental and that routed me through Houston instead of the more usual DFW or Phoenix.  Continental has just upgraded their Terminal E building to include not only some very unique shops, but also a _real_ coffeeshop (Starbucks doesn't count) which allowed you to actually sit down and enjoy your brew.  As I had three hours to kill between my flights, I really appreciated this amenity.
As part of its outfitting, Terminal E also has some rather unique civic art displays.  The most obvious and stunning of which was the "Video Ring" astride the main hallway.
Video Ring doing its stuff
The "Video Ring" consists of eighty large television monitors which are all synced up to display a truly wonderful series of abstract images replete with a soundtrack to boot.  The end result was quite entrancing.  As it was placed up in the ceiling, I have to wonder just how many folks even bothered to notice it.  I've found that a great many people never - ever - bother to look up and see what it right over their heads.
Perhaps it was the oddness of the "Video Ring" which put me in the mood but while I was waiting around I was struck by a little idea/ concept for a bit of "character development" personal writing.  A brief little thing which would be odd but very descriptive of someone I might create in some fiction piece.  A brief paragraph or so which would be unique, illustrative, offbeat, and very descriptive of the character's unique outlook on life.
He had an odd little personal habit when he was traveling via airplane.  While in the airport terminals, between his flights, he would go into one of the airport restrooms, find a stall, sit down to do his business in it and then take a photo of himself as he sat in that airport bathroom stall.  He always traveled with his digital camera and over the years he had amassed a number of these images.  Whether he ever also pointed the camera down toward his feet is something I've long speculated upon but the only airport bathroom stall photos he's shown me are his arm's length self-portraits.  Perhaps this series of private moment images taken in public spaces will be of documentary use to someone, someday, somewhere.  In the meantime I simply added the habit to the list of all the other odd things I came to know about him.

With that in mind, I simply could not resist the urge to see what such an image would look like.
Strangeness in Houston
Yes, that is pretty odd.


The Salk Institute
In March my mom came out to San Diego and stayed with me for a week.  Among the many things we did during that time was to head up the coast a bit to take in the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Trail.  My mom enjoys birding and this little jaunt suited us both perfectly.  On the way back from that I took her over to the Salk Institute in La Jolla.  She'd recently heard about the architect of this site, Louis Kahn, and had expressed a desire to see while she was out here.

The Salk Institute in La Jolla is a place I knew of and also knew it to have some stunning vistas.  It's located square atop the Torrey Pines mesa just north of La Jolla itself and it's also right next to the Torrey Pines Glider Park.  I'd seen the north face of the building but not its central plaza.  Suffice to say, that plaza was awesome.
The Salk Institute
The good Mister Kahn had designed this building back in the early 60's when bare concrete was considered the height of modernity.  What has served to make this building still be so beautiful is the style and composition with which Kahn executed his design.  The two office towers/ workspaces on either side of the courtyard/ plaza serve as visual bookends and perfectly frame the courtyard.  The also serve to bring your view out to the blue sky above the Pacific.  It is a stunning effect.

While concrete is predominant in the structure, Kahn well used other materials.  The plaza surface is an interestingly textured stone and he also incorporated wood into the sections of the office units to either side.  At the far end of the courtyard is a series of waterfalls which provide an elegant terminus for the structure while also staying out of the way of built-in vista above.

Enjoying the view
Immediately adjacent to the Salk Institute is the Torrey Pines Gliderport.  I'm familiar enough with this place as you have to drive past it to get to the parking lot above Black's Beach.  It's been a while since I made the clamber down to Black's but that is something which is always on the agenda.  In the meantime though, there's also the vista which being at the edge of an oceanside mesa can provide.  The hang gliders and parasails are also quite beautiful to watch as the silently glide back and forth at the mesa's edge.

A parasail gliding along

Varekai
While my mom was out here in March she also took me to see the latest Cirque de Soleil show, "Varekai."

An E ticket for sure!
This is how the Cirque de Soleil website describes their Varekai show:

Deep within a forest, at the summit of a volcano, exists an extraordinary world—a world where something else is possible. A world called Varekai.
 
From the sky falls a solitary young man, and the story of Varekai begins.  Parachuted into the shadows of a magical forest, a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures, this young man sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary.  On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered.
           
The word varekai means "wherever" in the Romany language of the gypsies the universal wanderers. This production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai.

Personally, I think they should fire their copy writer for that description was almost enough to make both my mom and I pass on trying to see this show.  It's a good thing that the Cirque folks have such a good rep or else we wouldn't have gone.  As it stands though, the show was absolutely awesome and well worth the price of admission.

The acrobatics were stunning.  The choreography was brilliant and the entertainment was all first class.  I'm also a sucker for any sort of gymnast or dancer and the Cirque de Soleil has both in spades.  One number which particularly impressed me was what they call their "Aerial Straps" routine.  In this, two beautiful men came out and did an aerial routine using just straps hung from above.  These two men were dressed in these scanty little skin tight latex outfits that were configured such that they were mirror images of each other.  This well highlighted their awesome physiques and beauty.  The moves the two of them did were very impressive from a technical and artistic perspective.  They way the two moved and the fact that it was two _men_ engaging in such moves where it would otherwise be a man and a woman doing them, made this number extremely sensual as well.

The show finished up with what they call their "Russian Swings" number.  This consisted of two overgrown and super-stylized swingsets being paired on stage with a whole platoon of acrobats jumping onto them, swinging them around, and then leaping off of them.  They lept off of them to be caught on the stage, they lept off of them to be caught up on a platform on the stage, they lept off of them to be caught by two huge banners - and they lept off of them to be caught by the other swings as well!  Looking at these lads doing all this I was both amazed and completely convinced that these guys were absolutely starkers!  It was beautiful to watch though.

In the end, this was yet another highly entertaining and wonderful show to take in.  I recommend it highly.  I'd have photos of all this but they've a strict "no photography" requirement at their shows.  So you'll either have to make do with the photos they've on their site or go see one of their shows yourself!

2004 - The New Year
I'm a happy guy!

That's me there on the right.  And those marks are my first set of trophies in too long!

Come the first weekend of the New Year I spent some time with a long time friend of mine, Brian, up in OC (Orange County) and some of that time was spent in his dungeon.

The marks here are part of the tale told by the tails of his flogger.  It was a nice and intense scene and the flogging wasn't the most intense part of it either!

What really peaked things out, and revealed a new facet of myself to myself and to Brian, was the sort of play which would make Roger proud.

It's been well over a year and a half since last I went under and much closer to two, actually.  I really, really needed that and am glad for it.  I'm also glad to have been part of that scene as it involved more than just Brian and I and was deeply pleasing to all of us.


Folsom '03
Another year and another Folsom Street Fair has come upon me.  I took a bunch of pictures there this year but this year's bunch is a smaller one.  For one thing, I've been there enough times that I no longer feel the need to photograph everything that moves.  For another, I had company.  I was up in the City with Julia.  It was her first time in San Francisco so I had the double pleasure of enjoying her company and getting to show her some aspects of the City I enjoy so much.  One photo we took up there did stick with me enough that I thought it worth sharing here.
On the Golden Gate during Folsom Weekend '03 That's the same guy in each of these photos.  They're both taken at about the same place, doing about the same thing.  Hell, even the jacket's the same.  Between these two photos though there's a span of some ten years.

On the left is the forty one year old  Madoc enjoying a bright and windy day on the Golden Gate during Folsom Weekend,
September of 2003

On the right is the thirty one year old Madoc enjoying a bright and windy day on the Golden Gate during Folsom Weekend, September of 1993.
On the Golden Gate during Folsom Weekend '03

A lot has changed between those two photos.  Quite a lot.


A Good Day
Me and the Spirit of St. Louis
This was good day.

I recently had the pleasure of taking in the celebrations of our local international airport's seventy fifth anniversary. On Saturday, August 16th, Lindbergh Field threw itself a party to note the passing of that many years. As part of that party they even flew in the world's only replica of the Spirit of St. Louis.

There are other full-size versions of the Spirit and I think there's even one that is flight worthy but there is only one replica of the Spirit of St. Louis and it is that because it was made to the original plans, using the same materials, constructed in the same fashion, and I think that even some of the same men who made THE Spirit of St. Louis helped in the construction of this one. All of that took place back in the late 70's when Lindbergh Field celebrated its 50th Anniversary. For the past two and a half decades that replica sat in the San Diego Aerospace Museum enjoying pride of place. For the 75th shindig someone got the bright idea to spin the prop again and have it take flight. It was a sight to see when it did.

I now have those photos up and on The Spirit of St. Louis page.  That page was also the first one I worked up not using Composer to do all the heavy lifting.  Instead I got in there and played around with the HTML directly.  It was an awkward and slow thing but it was something that's nice to know how to do.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new page!



Summer in San Diego '03




Interesting combo with these two pics.  On the left here is a shot of me all Fetished up at the August Club X Social.  I'm wearing my new Dehners, my "new" leather Utilikilt-style kilt, my leather corset and my new leather arm sleeve I ordered at IML.  The boots truly are new as I bought them just this year, the corset was given to me (thanks Marie!) last year but the leather arm sleeve is the newest of the bunch as I ordered it at this year's IML.  Of course, it is all but invisible in this photo.  So, I'll just have to take some more shots!  The leather Utilikilt-style kilt is something dear to me as it belonged to Richard Chatterton.  He had it made at the same place the corset was done, MacLeo's Sexy Leathers here in San Diego.  Richard had seen my black Utilikilt, liked it, bought one of his own, and then asked Mac if she could make one in leather.  Well, she could and she did.  With Richard's suicide earlier this year, his leather and kink stuff became Gayle's.  Once the dust settled a bit and some of the pain had eased, I asked her of her plans for the kilt.  In short order it was in my hands and I took it back to Mac for her to take it in a bit.  Now it is something which I can wear and I enjoy doing so.  I particularly enjoy the fact that it was not something I got "off the rack" but rather is something more special than that.  The piece now has a distinct history to it and it is a history which I am both quick to tell and glad to have been a part of.  None of which is any substitute for still sharing times with Richard but we can only do what is possible in this world.  So, having a link to him through this bit of hide is the possible and that is what I'm glad to be able to do.

The pic there on the right is of myself and Gayle at this year's SD Pride.  I decided to do something different and something a wee bit more comfortable to wear on the hot summer's day that is typically an SD Pride.  I picked up this leather pride flag sarong while I was at South Plains LeatherFest this year.  I figured that pride festivals and leather events were about the only place I could get away with wearing such a rig and I was right.  I also figured that such a rig would be very comfortable and I was right on that one too!  I had to get a picture of myself wearing this get-up (thanks Caryl!) and Gayle was perfect to grace the shot.

Of the two of us in that photo I am by far the more comfortable as Gayle was not only wearing all black but those pants of hers are leather and she was also fresh out of the leather pride tent which was extremely hot inside, as usual.  Me, I just strolled around in my Tevas, and enjoyed the breeze - in many ways!



IML 25
Welcome to IML 25
Well, I'm back from IML's 25th Anniversary and I'm slowly digging my way out from the expense of that soirée!  I had fun at IML - as I usually do - for why else would anyone keep going back if they didn't?  However, it wasn't the fun I'd hoped to have nor was it the fun I was seeking at that event.  As such, I don't think I'll be back to another IML.  Not soon and maybe not ever.  Still though, it was worthwhile for me be there at IML 25 and I've a few things to share about it.


Richard Chatterton
It's been a few months now so the pain has ebbed a good deal.  Back in January a good friend of mine decided that the depression he'd been living with for years was no longer worth fighting.  That he chose to end his life rather than continue that fight wasted everything else he could have done with his life and his death has been a loss for all of us.  Richard is the first friend of mine to have taken his own life and his death pained me deeply.  I've more thoughts about this on a page I've set up about him that also features some of what others had to say about Richard Chatterton. Richard Chatterton

 

War
Beth in her chem-war gear aboard the Nimitz

The woman in the photo above here is a friend of mine, Beth.  She's serving in the Navy as a Journalist Petty Officer Second Class (JO2) and is part of the crew of the US Navy aircraft carrier the Nimitz.  The Nimitz just deployed and Beth, as part of its crew, deployed with it.  The Nimitz is headed to war.  So too is Beth.

For over a year now we've been talking about the coming war.  For over a year now we've known it is coming.  We've speculated, endlessly, about the war.  As most of us have no direct effect on it we've now taken to speculating about the speculating about the war.  In person and online we've debated this.  We've discussed the "big picture" about it all.  We've examined and debated the necessity, the strategy, the tactics, the goals, the objectives, the policies, the rationale and the justification for the coming war.  Through it all, this has remained a strictly "big picture" thing and rather abstract because of it.

I'm now forty one and that means I'm too old to serve in the military.  I'll most likely never see combat.  If I do see any fighting, for instance if we suffer another terrorist attack here at home, it will only be as a civilian and only if I'm unlucky enough to be caught up in it at random.  So, as much as I have talked about the war and as much as I've participated in discussing it with my friends and online the whole thing has remained rather abstract and distant for me.  Not so for Beth.

Beth too will most likely never see combat firsthand.  Aboard a carrier, as a military journalist, and as a female in the Navy, she will most likely never even get close to the actual fighting.  True, a carrier, due to its awesome capabilities, makes for a prime target but it operates in the middle of an entire fleet of ships who's sole duty is to protect their carrier no matter the cost.  There's also the fact that our enemies have no real navy of their own and aren't really considered a threat to our Navy, at least not in any conventional sense.

The rig that Beth is carrying and wearing though does reflect the fact that there is a threat which the Navy does think is real enough to warrant some individual protective steps even aboard a carrier.  The rig is a MCU2P gas mask and is the latest and greatest in CBR protection. A gas attack might not be detected in time to adequately seal the ship against it.  So, all the crew now have to have their protective gas masks at the ready for just this eventuality.  This may be a pretty far fetched thing and may be more reflective of the chickenshit that naturally occurs when a peacetime military is suddenly confronted with actual war.  World War Two started out in much this same way as everyone was fearful that the other side would suddenly use a gas attack.  Within a few months the order went out to have the troops stop having to lug their gas masks
around all the time.  This coming war may or may not be different.

Hopefully, this will as close as Beth gets to an actual threat while deployed.  About the only folks aboard the Nimitz who will face any close combat dangers are the aircrew it deploys.  As the war unfolds the ones who will bear the brunt of this will most likely be the pilots of the Marine F-18's as they provide close air support to the troops on the ground.  Even if we blow Iraq's air force out of the skies and silence all their air defense radars there will still be large numbers of ground based anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) to contend with.  Just like in the last Gulf War, this AAA will manage to damage and shoot down some of our aircraft.  As part of the Nimitz crew Beth will have to deal with that like all the carrier crews before her who saw some of their fliers come back aboard in pieces or in bags.

I got a chance to spend some time with Beth before she deployed.  As we sat there discussing things in that coffeehouse I was struck by how unreal the whole thing was.  I've known a number of active duty and ex-service members.  I know a number of Vietnam vets.  I know some folks who served in Desert Storm.  I also know a bunch of active duty folks who have either shipped out already or are standing by to do so.  Beth is the first female I've known facing this.  That made it all very odd to me. 

As we sat there talking about her imminent deployment, about the world, about what might happen, and about what she had to do in the few hours before the Nimitz sailed (things that any sailor would have to do before shipping out on a multimonth deployment and with but a few hours to do them) I looked over at a group of folks sitting at a nearby table.  About half a dozen or so were gathered there.  I noticed they'd a pile of antiwar leaflets on their table and I saw that they were planning their next antiwar demonstration.  All very earnest and impassioned.  The majority of the folks there were white hairs all easily in their 50's and 60's.  Just as earnest and impassioned even as they looked every bit the stereotype of the "mature" hippy from the 1960's.  All were at least twice Beth's age.  The contrast was stunning and deeply ironic to me.

As I said, I'm pretty aware of the "big picture" and I realize that whatever happens it will most likely have little effect on me directly.  It will also have little effect on the antiwar protesters gathered in that coffeehouse that night.  Not so Beth.  And not so any of the other folks I know who are soon to be fighting in this war.  That made the whole "big picture" all the more remote and all the more unreal.  What was real is that people I know, people who are my friends, people who I have reached out and physically touched, will soon be involved in making that "big picture" into reality. 

Whether you agree with the war or not, these people, these real people, these friends, will soon be at war and in war to a degree which we here at home can not experience or even fathom.  Our abstraction will be their reality.  That was a very sobering thing for me and it was a very saddening one too.

I have some pretty strident views about the coming war but I'll not get into them here.  My site is not a "blog" from which I pontificate about any and all things.  There are plenty of other such sites which do that job well enough.  I just wanted to make known that there are real people involved in the coming fighting, people who I know personally and people who I have called my friends.  No matter the rationale or the outcome of all this I just want them - all of them - to come back from this war safe and whole.

  


Fakir
Fakir and I

Wow

I was very, very impressed by this.  The photo above here was actually taken back in April of '02 and it is of myself and Fakir Musafar standing beside a photo he had taken of himself back in the early 1950's.  This photo was part of his collection on display at the Fahey/ Klein Gallery during the showing he had there that month.  The photos he displayed were all ones he had taken himself.  In many cases they were also of himself.  The one between us here is one which I found particularly amazing. 

I have known of Fakir for some many years now.  He is one of the people credited with originating the Modern Primitives movement and he has been instrumental in exploring the altered  consciousness rituals "primitive" cultures and introducing them to modern Western culture.  You can read more about him by heading over to his site: Body Play

While all of that is noteworthy in and of itself, what really struck me here was what this particular image conveyed.   Titled "Mother's Room" it was taken in 1954.  Fakir was born in 1930 in South Dakota and began practicing this sort of stuff on his own way back then.  This particular photo is one he took himself of himself.  Those things hanging down in front of him are a bunch of lead fishing line weights hung through the skin of his chest.  He rigged it all up himself.  The actual photo displayed in the gallery goes further down and shows the string in his right hand as he is pulling it to throw the shutter on his Brownie camera.  In 1954.  The very personal and intimate nature of that image is really powerful to me.  Here this young man, hardly more than a kid, was in his mother's room, in South Dakota, practicing what was then, and is still now, a very arcane and rarefied set of activities all designed to alter his consciousness and expand his vision.  This, back in 1954.  Almost a full decade before I was even born.  Pretty powerful stuff!

This was also very real stuff.  The majority of the photos he took of himself were done back in the days when he was likely the only guy in America doing such things.  So, he was taking those photos for himself and only for his own use.  Very personal, very private, very real.

Fakir's showing took up only part of the Fahey/Klein Gallery, the larger space was occupied by a showing of Greg Gorman's latest works.  The good Mr. Gorman is a well and justly accomplished photographer and his subject matter for that particular showing was a man who was pretty enough, in a rather pouting and unaffectedly affected manner.  The contrast between Gorman's works and Fakir's was very, very striking.  Gorman's were nice enough but seemed far less than real when compared to Fakir's.  Fakir's images could be just as commercially minded as Gorman's but, for the most part, weren't.  They were also more about real people living their lives in a more real, more intense and more "alive" fashion than anything Gorman's works were able to portray that night.  The difference between Fakir's "Mother's Room" and Gorman's "Greg, Sicily #110" were night and day and I'm thankful for it.


 


Inferno XXXI
Kickin back at the Compound

This was supposed to be a summer of my "rebirth" in the men's leather community.  Or perhaps the summer of finding myself again.  In any event, it was also the summer I went back to Inferno.  Inferno is a week long leather/ SM/ fetish event put on by the Chicago Hellfire Club.  Divided into two sessions, this men only event is a SM extravaganza the likes of which exists nowhere else in the world.  I counted myself to be very lucky when a friend sponsored me to my first one ten years ago.  I still count myself as lucky when a different friend sponsored me to this year's event.  Enough time had passed that it almost became a completely new event and it was like I was new there myself.  So, it is possible to regain your virginity!

I had gone to this year's event with the general goal of attaining a catharsis through some particularly scourging experiences.  That is what I had done the last time out there.  This, and come away with some wonderful trophies that would hopefully not heal away before I got a chance to show them off at Folsom some two weeks hence.

Instead, I found myself on a different course and one which involved some truly wonderful and sensual experiences given to me at the hands of some truly gifted men.  I count myself very fortunate to have shared such time with them as I did.

But then, that is why I went to Inferno in the first place.

I related this to another attendee, Roger, and he summed it up by repeating a sig line from some of his emails; "Success never happens as planned."  I like that.  It certainly fit here.  I did achieve success at this year's run.  Not the success I went there for initially but success none-the-less.

This picture above is something of an inside joke.  The guys who run Inferno are rightly protective of the event's privacy and the privacy of the individuals who attend it.  I came out in the morning on the last day of the run with the hopes of taking some pictures of the site.  Even as it was being struck it was still an impressive sight.  However, the CHC has some pretty clear rules about that and my desire to take pictures of it all was a desire not met.  Still though, a personal picture of me at the event was something which could be achieved. 

There is one spot on the event grounds which is something of a social area.  At this spot there are a series of wood tables set out under some trees and a bunch of chairs placed out there as well.  This affords those who frequent that area a place to sit in the shade and watch the goings on go on - both around them and throughout the rest of the grounds.  It also afforded me an excellent place to kick back and relax.  And that I did.

I am not a particularly fast player.  I knew this and that is why I booked myself through both sessions.  A good thing too as my first play date wasn't until the last night of session A and I only played four times, in total, throughout the entire seven days of the run.  This, compared to some guys who's dance cards were full even before they got to the event!  As a result, I managed to spend a lot of time up there by those tables, kicked back in a chair, and taking it all in.  I thought a photo of that would be a perfectly suitable way of showing what this year meant for me. Roadkill also managed to capture an image of me "kickin it" up there by the tables.

This year's run was particularly noteworthy due to its almost complete lack of rain.  In most years you can count on at least one rain storm making itself known to the folks at Inferno.  This year they weather was very warm and damn close to perfect for all but the last few hours of the run itself.  Even then, the rain and wind was brief and everyone soon got back to having fun.

Jerry took this picture of me on the Wednesday morning which marked the end of session B and of that year's run as well.  It was early yet and rather cool - hence the sweatshirt.  I'd also already packed and put away all my leathers - hence the sneakers.  Otherwise I'd either be in just my jeans or my shorts and always with my boots.  This was my "Inferno Casual Look" to mark the run's end.

It was ten years since my first Inferno and my second one,  It was worthwhile for me to go and I'm not ruling out ever returning to another Inferno but, given the way the gay men's leather community has changed, I don't think I'll be returning to Inferno any time soon.
 


Utilikilt Night



Yup, I was there too! It was a cold and stormy night....

Well, it was cold at least!

Back in February of '02, someone at the Club X Monthly Social someone had the bright idea of declaring it Utilikilt night.  Someone also had the bright idea of declaring January's Social that as well but I was the only Uk'd guy to show up wearing one.

Well, February was different.  There were a whole bunch of guys in their fancy Utilikilts. In typical fashion, that particular night happened to be one of the coldest ones of the year so far. I was glad to be wearing my leather jacket and to be standing out in front of a store that makes it its business to sell hot beverages (as most good coffeehouses do, Diedrich's being no exception.)

It all made for a fun evening.  You can see more about the Utilikilt night and about my Kilted experiences by heading over to my Kilt page.



An Interesting Aside
(August of '01)


In late August of '01 a friend of mine from Saudi Arabia returned from his latest visit to his home there.  Aside from his own excellent company he also brought along a full kit of the finest Saudi gentleman's clothing.  First there is the ankle length cotton robe, the thawb.  While nice and comfortable enough, what really made the outfit unique is the headdress.  The ghutra is the name for the piece of attire that most Westerners first envision when they think of what Arabs wear.  It is the most distinctive piece of traditional Arab attire.  It is also very simple. 

A ghutra is just an outsize square piece of cloth, folded diagonally, and then placed over the head.  It is held in place by a rope band called an iqal (or agal.)  Included under this is a skull cap type of hat called the tagiyah.  Some individuals simply dispense with the ghutra and iqal and only wear the tagiyah.  I'm not sure if this is more informal mannerism or just a matter of individual style.

While simple enough in concept this garb is a bit involved to get right when worn.  The most complicated thing for me is that the iqal atop my head did not fit.  It was too small.  I had to hold my head in a perfectly level position or else the iqal would fall off.  That would cause the rest of the headdress to come with it.  That, in turn, is not how a Saudi gentleman would be seen in public.

What the well dressed Saudi gentleman is wearing this year...

My friend said that I could pass for a Saudi prince.  Apparently there are some fair skinned Saudi nationals in the Saudi royal family.  While I am not too sure of that, it was fun to wear this outfit.  Yes, you can be "regimental" when wearing it and in a hot desert climate I would imagine that is a distinct advantage.

That black thing in my lap is a whisk from Egypt.  It is designed to keep the flies away.  Pretty handy for other things too.

I had hoped to wear this attire to a Halloween costume party.  Being a genuine article I thought it would make more of an impression.  Well, that idea is now pretty much a lost cause.  I still have the outfit though.




August 2000


Victor's Photo of me taken in San Francisco on August 11th 2000
This bunch of photos are ones that I took while up in San Francisco for about a week in August of 2000.  A good friend of mine, Frank, was traveling off to New York to teach some classes and he offered to let me stay in his place while he was away.  That is pretty damn hospitable and he didn't have to ask me twice!

The photo on the left here was taken by another friend of mine, Victor Arimondi.  I met him at an art expo in Los Angeles a couple of years back.  Victor is an artist and photographer, among other things, who lives in SF.  While I was up there in August he snapped these photos in between our eating lunch and catching up on each other's lives.

It had been a couple of years so we both had a lot to say.  Among other things, Victor has been busy painting and photographing those in the City around him.



Room with a view Victor Arimondi Copyright 11 August 2000

This is the second shot Victor took of me that day.  We had just sat down for a lunch of the salad that he had made and he found the camera in his hands before he could pick up a fork.  This from an artist.  Go figure!

The salad was wonderful,  the wine delicious and the company excellent.  Victor has an apartment on Market Street near Duboce.  The view out his apartment window was quite nice and the building he lives in is one of the grand old apartment buildings from "Mexican Art Deco" period of the 30's.  It really reminded me of some of the older and grander apartment buildings in Washington, DC.  That is to say, it had a sense of style and formal elegance that most modern buildings have dispensed with.  It was nice to see some of it still around though.

In the fall of '01 I learned that Victor had died during that summer.  I was saddened by his passing but was glad to have known him even to the limited extent I did.  Lately I have learned that there is a gallery up in SF which is showing some of his work.  Perhaps I'll go through that the next time I'm up in the City.

Hellooo? Victor Arimondi Copyright 11 August 2000
This is actually the first picture Victor took of me in his apartment.  He liked the way my hand framed my face.

Back to full color and back out on the Golden Gate


Me on the Golden Gate. It was a very windy day but it was also a glorious one and perfect for taking in the sights from the Golden Gate Bridge.  In this shot I was trying to hold my head in such a way as to have the wind blowing the hair off of my face.  The wind was only partially complying.
That is better than not complying at all as in this shot below!


Longhair + strong winds = a mess!

That is Andy there on the left.  The same Andy as from the Folsom 99 photo down at the bottom of this page.  He has kept his head shaven while my hair has grown much longer since then.  A nice "progress" shot.
 
On the right is another shot of me fighting the wind on the Golden Gate.


The Start of it All!


Me and my friend, Andy, at Folsom 99 This image on the left here, was taken at Folsom 99 with me and Andy, the lover of a good friend of mine, Kevin.  I think it is interesting because my head was as shiny and shaved as Andy's as recently as of March '98.  That is when I stopped shaving my scalp and went for the growth.  This picture reflects just a year and a half of that.
The photo below here was also taken up there at Folsom 99.

Me at Folsom 99

These two images above here are the ones that started it all.  This was back in the summer/ fall of 99.  I had recently found the on-line Longhair community and was enjoying the discovery.  I have long wanted to grow my hair out long.  A variety of circumstances prevented me from being successful at this - all of which were job related.  For most of the 90's I was either unemployed or under-employed.  The "Defense Drawdown," "Peace Dividend," California recession and the nationwide recession of the early/ mid-90's all combined to make my employment here in America's Finest City(tm) a rather iffy thing.  In order to maximize my chances of being employed I had to look the part of an eminently employable personage.  That meant keeping my hair short.  There were a couple of times when I felt secure enough in a job or felt I had the time otherwise to start growing my hair out.  In each case things changed and I had to change with them.  Well, now no longer.

I have been working at the same company as a salaried employee for several years now, the longest single span at one place in all my years in San Diego.  Not only am I feeling very secure here, I am also working in an environment where such Longhair is not a factor in my employment.  There are a couple of other guys working here who have hair as long as mine so I am not the only one.  A comforting thing.

Back in the summer of '99 I was reveling in both my hair growth and in finding others like me.  The Longhair community seemed rather strong and it was all very hi-tech and therefore very cool.  I jumped in with both feet and made a go of it.  One of the things I recognized early on was the need for a place to "hang" a picture of myself with my Longhair so that others could see it.  There is nothing like a picture to clearly convey things.  So, made sure to get some pictures of myself when I went up to Folsom that year.  My hair had grown out to an acceptably long length and I also attended a Longhair party the night before the Street Festival itself.  So I was very much in the Zen of the moment.

Upon returning from SF I immediately set up my site on GeoCities.  It was exclusively devoted to the Longhair community.  Over time I posted more images of myself and my growing Longhair.  I also posted images of other Longhairs I found attractive and of the Longhair events I attended.

After many months my fascination with the whole Longhair community ebbed.  I am still interested in it, and Longhair on a man will turn my head faster than most anything else, however it no longer occupies the same elevated place in my focus.  Of late I began expanding the site to include my interest in the leather/ SM/ fetish world.  I have been part of that community far longer than the Longhair world.  I am also looking for men to play with and perhaps something more.  I was looking for that when I set the site up and the site functioned well as a web based personal ad now I have moved that function over to my own domain.

In the coming months I am going to be revising this page and the pages on the rest of the site as well.  I composed them all using the Composer software that comes with the Netscape Communicator suite.  Priced to sell and pretty functional.  This works fine for doing the basic stuff and makes a real good way to start out.  However, I would like to do something more with this site so I am looking into other software packages.  As my skills increase I will apply them to making this site more in line with the way I want it to be.  In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the show!




If you would like to know more about me, then ask me directly.  Just click on my email address here: 
email me

In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your "stay" at this site.  Check back again to see what new images I have added.  Until then, stay well, play hard, play safe, and have fun!

Madoc

This page was last updated on: 30 January 2012  


Unless otherwise noted, all photographs and images on this page are copyright protected property of Madoc Pope.  If you would like to use any of my images you must contact me first before you do so.

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In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your "stay" at this site.  Check back again to see what new images I have added.  Until then, stay well, play hard, play safe, and have fun!

Madoc