Attack of the 50-ft Woman…

In this, our sixth movie from the collection of various and sundry movie posters Bob has framed and hanging around our house, I found myself prepared for the worst. The kind of movie that I imagine going with a poster like this is not one that compels me. In retrospect, I didn’t find it that bad, which I guess is why it’s often characterized as one of those movies that’s “so bad it’s good.”

Random thoughts I had during this movie:

  • At about 45 minutes into the 65-minute film: “I’m concerned that we still haven’t seen the film’s eponymous protagonist.”
  • Once the giants appear: “Why are they sometimes opaque and sometimes translucent?”

    Giant_man
    Giant_woman
  • At the first glimpses of the giant woman, which only shows her right hand: “They sure are getting their money’s worth out of that huge paper mâché hand prop.”

    Nancy's hand
  • At the first appearance of the alien space craft: “Why are they calling it a satellite instead of a space ship or UFO?” (There is a short discussion about this in one of the FAQs on the IMDB page, if you’re interested in a possible explanation.)

In the end, the 2 things that bothered me the most were:

  • In the movie, they refer to the woman as a “30-foot giant,” but the very name of the movie is “Attack of the 50-ft. Woman.”
  • The poster for this movie is a scene that never even remotely appears in this movie. I mean the setting is essentially a rural one-stoplight town. The only infrastructure the 30-foot woman hovers over is the town hotel and bar shown in the bottom right quadrant of the collage picture below.

    Poster vs. reality

But as it turns out, there was so much more to be bothered by that I didn’t even notice. Here are some from the goofs page of the IMDB entry for this film:

  • When Nancy is normal-sized, she is a brunette with a short, styled hairdo. But when she’s super-sized, she’s suddenly a blonde with long curly hair.
  • Although the alien is a giant, when the sheriff and Jess go into the “satellite” (the alien spacecraft), the passageways and interiors are for human-sized inhabitants.
  • Clothes are sticking out of Harry’s suitcase as he hurriedly brings it out of the bedroom. In the next shot, the suitcase appears neatly packed. (I actually noticed this one.)
  • When Nancy is lying on the ground dead, one of her eyelids moves. (I sure wish I’d noticed that!)
  • About 40 minutes in, Harry is filling a large (~30 CC) syringe in an attempt to kill his wife, but after he and the nurse are shocked to see she has become a giant, he is only holding a small (~ 1 CC) syringe. (And Bob pointed out that nobody wipes the needle with alcohol before they use it.)
  • How Allison Hayes can be fifty feet tall and yet remain in a standard size room is never explained. (In her defense, she was lying down, so maybe the room was 60-feet long.)
  • The giant picks up Nancy’s 1958 Plymouth station wagon, throws it to the ground and, mysteriously, the Plymouth station wagon turns into a 1949 Chevrolet Station Wagon. Also, when the giant alien picks up the Plymouth wagon, the scene behind it, the still frame cut from the movie ad, is moved about to simulate the car’s movement. The slow motion action reveals the 1949 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Woody Wagon.

In the end, I’m glad I watched this to have an idea what’s behind the poster that I see practically every day in our living room.

An unidentified man…

Last night I listened to a podcast episode of Snap Judgment, called Counted: An Oakland Story. The episode was about how Oakland’s homicide rate has declined from a high point of 140 one year to 77 in 2017.

“And about those 77, we wanted to let you know about these artists, singers, students, activists, teachers—they are the Oakland family. They are what make beautiful Oakland, edgy Oakland, woke Oakland. Every loss, makes this place less special. So we’re going to do something a little different in this episode. We’re going to tell you who some of these people were.”

There’s a website associated with the project, and on its “In memory of” page each victim is featured—all with their date of death, some with sketches of them, and most with their names included. But 7 of them—with a sketch of either a rose or a candle in the place of their face—say, “Unidentified man.”

This morning I was still thinking about those unidentified men. How does that happen? And I wrote this short contemplation.


The unidentified man

I’m one of 7. I died in Oakland in 2017 on:

  1. February 15 or
  2. May 30 or
  3. September 28 or
  4. October 21 or
  5. November 23 or
  6. December 12 or
  7. December 16.

Imagine for a minute that you—yes you—are walking down the street, late tonight on your way home, and you get killed. Can you think of 3 people who could identify you? How about 5? 10?

There are so many ways to identify me, but they had no luck. No luck for me that my fingerprints or DNA weren’t in “the database.” And I thought that was a good thing.

I didn’t have good teeth. That wasn’t the reason there were no dental records to match. There were no dentists in my life.

I know why my family isn’t looking for me. There was no father, or mother, in my life. They had their own lives to live. And I was an inconvenience in them.

And don’t think nobody on the street knew me. I did know one other member of this club, a club none of us wanted to join. And that person definitely knew me. But someone got revenge on him for someone he killed.

My favorite member of the club? It has to be Jason. They said about him: “He actually didn’t live on the streets, but inside them. Inside the hollow cement pillars that hold up that off-ramp, where he made a room for himself—he even wired cable and internet inside with a projector, a couch, and a mini-fridge.” That cat was hooked up. I was not so resourceful.

But resources can’t help me now. At least I count. I count among the 77 of 2017—even as I lie in an unguarded tomb, unknown.

Riff on a connection mnemonic…

Like I’m sure a lot of people did last night, I thought about the old adage, “Spring forward, fall back.” But probably unlike a lot of people, this morning I contemplated mnemonics—those memory aids we employ for those things we do either so infrequently or that aren’t so meaningful that they’re hard to remember. A quick search on Wikipedia reveals these 9 types of mnemonics:

1. Music mnemonics: Songs and jingles can be used as a mnemonic. A common example is how children remember the alphabet by singing the ABC’s.

2. Name mnemonics (acronym): The first letter of each word is combined into a new word. For example: VIBGYOR (or ROY G BIV) for the colors of the rainbow or HOMES for the Great Lakes.

3. Expression or word mnemonics: The first letter of each word is combined to form a phrase or sentence — e.g. “Richard of York gave battle in vain” for the colors of the rainbow.

4. Model mnemonics: Some type of representation is constructed to help with understanding and recalling important information.

5. Ode mnemonics: The information is placed into a poem or doggerel, — e.g. ‘Note socer, gener, liberi, and Liber god of revelry, like puer these retain the ‘e (most Latin nouns of the second declension ending in -er drop the -e in all of the oblique cases except the vocative, these are the exceptions).

6. Note organization mnemonics: The way textbook and lecture notes are organized (e.g., notecards, outlines) can inhibit learning and recall or promote it.

7. Image mnemonics: The information is constructed into a picture — e.g. the German weak declension can be remembered as five ‘-e’s’, looking rather like the state of Oklahoma in America, in a sea of ‘-en’s’.

8. Connection mnemonics: New knowledge is connected to knowledge already known.

9. Spelling mnemonics: An example is “i before e except after c” or “when sounding like a in neighbor and weigh.”

I decided that “spring forward, fall back” is a connection mnemonic, and to that end I wrote this piece, which I call “Riff on a Connection Mnemonic,” because there just aren’t enough riffs on connection mnemonics, or any other kind of mnemonic, really.


A CONNECTION MNEMONIC

Spring forward. Going forward. Fast forward. Forward, March.

Spring forward.
Spring has sprung.
Sprung a leak.
Take a leak.
Take a break.
Break a leg.
Get a leg up on it.
Have a leg to stand on.

Going forward.
Going strong.
Strong women.
Women of color.
Color my world.
World peace.
Peace and quiet.
Quietly changing the world.

Fast forward.
Fast as lightning.
Lightning bugs.
The light of a thousand stars.
Star light, star bright.
Bright lights, big city.
City by the sea.
See the light at the end of the tunnel.

Forward, March.
Forward thinking.
Thinking too much.
Too much to handle.
Handle the hands on your clock.
Clean someone’s clock.
Clean up your act.
It’s a balancing act.

Spring forward. Going forward. Fast forward. Forward, March.

My 50th birthday

~Friday, 10/13/17~

Birthday day countdown

Here are 4 highlights of my life that stand out over these last 10 years. I just couldn’t narrow it down to 3—too much has happened this decade.

50 – 59 years old (2007 – 2016)

CELEBRATING TWO MILESTONE BIRTHDAYS. For my 50th birthday, I went to 3 places in Australia that were listed in the book, “1000 Places to See Before You Die.” One was in the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney, one was Seven Spirit Bay on a private island in the outback that you had to be taken to by private plane, and the third was Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. For my 55th birthday, I saw Barbra Streisand in concert in Brooklyn. It’s something I’d wanted to do all my life and had been willing to spend up to $1000 for a ticket. You can just imagine my delight when I scored a seat for $399.

RETIRING (THE FIRST TIME). On my October 13, 2014, I gave myself the birthday gift of a lifetime—I retired. My boss and my team were so gracious and supportive of my decision and they gave me a wonderful send-off, complete with limericks, haiku, and love. I enjoyed being retired for one year and three months, and then as it so often will, life happened. Eventually, I’d have the second biggest coming out in my life, coming out of retirement in February of 2016. You can read why if you’re interested.

LOSING A PARENT. On Tuesday, September 8, 2015, I had the hardest conversation in my life with my dad about entering him into hospice. He died three days later.

LEGALLY MARRYING A PHENOMENAL HUMAN BEING WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE A MAN. On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of same-sex marriage and that night, I asked Robert Anthony McVeigh to marry me, which he did on November 28th. With Bob’s family of 14 siblings, I picked up a cool 108 in-laws in one day, while he inherited a grand total of 8. We had an unbelievable November weather day and married in our backyard with heartwarming support from family who traveled near and far to be there, including my ex-wife.

Other reflections: Birth – 9 years old | 10 – 19 years old | 20 – 29 years old | 30 – 39 years old | 40 – 49 years old

The penultimate day leading up to my birthday

~Thursday, 10/12/17~

Birthday countdown

As I countdown to my 60th birthday tomorrow, here are 3 highlights of my life that stand out for these years.

40 – 49 years old (1997 – 2006)

CRUISING THE GREEK ISLES. In 1999, I toured the Greek Isles on the now-defunct Renaissance Cruise Lines. Our itineary consisted of two days in Athens, port calls in Santorini, Rhodes, Kusadasi, and one day at sea cruising The Dardenelles. It ended with two days in Istanbul.

A SURPRISE PARTY FOR MOM AND DAD’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY. In September of 2003, my sister and I organized a suprise party in Orlando for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We had invited several of their brothers and sisters to join us there, offering to pick up their 3-day, 2-night hotel tabs and dinner the actual anniversary night. We hadn’t told anyone that we were eating at Emeril’s Orlando , and since some of them came to the event from Fall River, MA, and my parents were born and grew up in that city, and that’s where Emeril is from, and we’re all Portuguese… well you can imagine how excited everyone was when we arrived there. I picked up the tab, which to this day remains the most I’ve ever paid for a dinner at $1503.00, which included the $364 tip. Worth every penny. Read about the details, including the exquisite customer service.

CRUISING ALASKA WITH FAMILY. In 2005, I went on an Alaskan cruise with my sister, my parents, my aunt and uncle and their daughter, and my aunt’s sister and her husband. The itinerary included: one day cruising the Inside Passage, a Ketchikan port call, a Juneau port call, a Skagway port call, a Wrangell port call, and a final day at sea.

Other reflections: Birth – 9 years old | 10 – 19 years old | 20 – 29 years old | 30 – 39 years old | 50 – 59 years old

The antepenultimate day leading up to my birthday

~Wednesday, 10/11/17~

Birthday countdown

As I countdown to my 60th birthday on Friday, here are 3 highlights of my life that stand out for these years.

Note: The coincidence is not lost on me of this post falling on National Coming Out Day.

30 – 39 years old (1987 – 1996)

TOUR OF EUROPE WITH OUR PARENTS. In 1987, my wife and I treated both sets of our parents to a 13-city bus tour of Europe with stops in London, England; Paris, France; Italy (The Italian Lakes, Rome, Ostia, Florence, Venice, and Verona); Innsbruck, Austria; Germany (Munich, Heidelberg, and a Rhine River Cruise); and Amsterdam, Holland. It was challenging at times, but so worth it as my mother still gets a charge out of saying, when someone mentions one of those European cities, “Oh, I’ve been there.” As I write this, it occurs to me that that was 30 years ago this year, and my parents were 5 years younger than I’ll be on Friday.

QUITTING IBM AND WORKING ON MY NOVEL. In 1993, IBM offered the first “package,” in which they paid employees to leave the company. Since my wife worked there, too, and we were DINKs (double income, no kids) making a ton of money, I applied for it and was accepted, taking a $30,000 payout to do what I wanted to do anyway—leave. For the next year, I worked on a novel, got as far as chapter 9, and then couldn’t figure out a believeable way to get my protagonist pregnant. Shortly after that I came out.

COMING OUT. One day in 1994, on my way home from IBM to our quarter-of-a-million house, in our BMW, I wondered, “Is there any way I could drive this ‘ultimate performance machine’ into that roadside ravine in such a way that I could be sure I wouldn’t have to live with an ‘intending to die’ for the rest of my life?” That’s when I knew it was time to start living my authentic life here. My beautiful, loving, and incredibly generous wife’s response to my coming out? “I’m so sorry that we live in a society where you’ve felt like you couldn’t be who you really are your entire life.” As we were packing to sell the house we’d custom built, we glanced at each other from the rooms on opposite sides of the upstairs shared bathroom while Whitney sang, “I Will Always Love You.” I can still tear up when I hear that song today, especially the lines, “Bittersweet memories – That is all I’m taking with me. So good-bye. Please don’t cry: We both know I’m not what you, you need…”

Other reflections: Birth – 9 years old | 10 – 19 years old | 20 – 29 years old | 40 – 49 years old | 50 – 59 years old

60th birthday trip day 6: Hyannis morning, home in the evening

​~Wednesday, 10/11/17~ I got up at 8 o’clock. I had breakfast across the street at The Coffee Table Café, having a sausage, egg, and cheese bagel and a cup of coffee.

Back at my room, I wrote out a couple of postcards and worked on my blog entry about the three highlights of my 30 – 39 years decade, arguably the most significant decade of my life until this past one, the 50 – 59 years decade. The three 30 – 39 years highlights were: 1) touring Europe with our parents, 2) quitting IBM and working on my novel, and 3) coming out.

I had asked for a noon, instead of 11 o’clock, check out and did so right at noon.


LUNCH

On my walk to the free shuttle at The Steamship Authority to take me to the park-and-ride to catch the Plymouth & Brockton bus to Logan Airport, I passed a place called Spanky’s Clam Shack & Seaside Saloon.

I decided to go in and have lunch to avoid the over-priced food at Logan airport, and I opted for the clam chowder and two stuffed quahogs, both of which were delicious.

Menu description:

Cape Cod Clam Chowdah: House made, New England style. Cup $6.49 Bowl $7.99

Clam chowder

Menu description:

Stuffed Quahog: Cape Cod favorite, house-made quahog stuffed and served with lemon.
$5.99 for one, or two for $9.99

Stuffed quahogs start

Me eating quahogs

1/2 quahog left

Inside the restaurant was this saying:

Happy as a clam sign

which always makes me think of the origin of the idiom: “Happy as a clam at high tide.” Over the years, it has been abbreviated to just “Happy as a clam,” which really leaves you to wonder why a clam is associated with being happy.


BUS RIDE TO LOGAN AIRPORT

I walked the rest of the way to the Steamship Authority, caught the free shuttle to the Hyannis Transportation Center, and waited for the next trip to Logan to leave. It was about 20 minutes late, and there were a lot of people waiting to get on it.

We picked up a bunch of people at the four stops along the route. When we got to the final one, in Rockland, there were three people waiting who couldn’t get on because there was no more room.

Although the bus advertised:

Bus provides free wifi and outlets

the outlets weren’t working, so my phone battery was desperately low by the time we got to Logan.


STANDBY ATTEMPT AND RUNNING INTO BROOKE

My flight to Raleigh wasn’t until 8:55 PM, but I was hoping to catch the 5:05 flight. I did get on the standby list, and made it to the gate on time, but there was one guy ahead of me on the list, and he got the only seat that became available.

A colleague of mine, Brooke Beasley, was on the 5:05 flight, and we chatted until she boarded. A guy next to us saw my Red Hat t-shirt on and struck up a conversation with his. He worked for Microsoft and was familiar with our Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® on Microsoft Azure and other Red Hat and Microsoft partnership products.

Since I had four hours to kill, I had some dinner, and then worked on my blog entries for yesterday and today.


THE FLIGHT

I was in seat 1A again, and the guy in 1C, seeing my shirt, asked me if I worked for Red Hat.

“I do,” I said.

“I just had drinks last night with my friend who works for Red Hat,” he said.

“Cool,” I said, “But I’m not traveling on business; I’m on a vacation trip here. I’ve just been on Nantucket for two days, Martha’s Vineyard for two days, and spent one day in Hyannis. I’m celebrating my 60th birthday, which is on Friday.”

The guy sitting in 1B, being talked across, took a quick glance at me, and then another hard look.

“Yes, this is what 60 looks like, handsome, and your day will come,” I thought.

My trip ended fortuitously with my two bags waiting for me when I landed, since although I hadn’t made the 5:05 flight they had.

And then, the best part of all, Bob picked me up.

60th birthday trip day 5: Martha’s Vineyard morning, Hyannis evening

~Tuesday, October 10, 2017~ I woke up before my alarm, and when I looked out the window I saw that the sun was about to rise. I set my phone camera to time-lapse mode and recorded it for posterity. What it looked like as it started:

Balcony sunrise still

Another sunrise shot


BREAKFAST

I waffled about where to go for breakfast (but didn’t have waffles)—between going back to the bagel place or the diner. Murdick’s won out. Today I chose a cinnamon and raisin bagel with some garden veggie cream cheese. Once again, the bagel was incredibly soft and delicious.

I took a seat at the counter that faced outside, and after a while a truck pulled up with a classic Portuguese name in the name of its business.

Medeiros Appliance


RETRIEVING MY CREDIT CARD

When I went to pay for my breakfast, I noticed that I was missing my credit card, so I walked back to where I had dinner last:

The Seafood Shanty

The hostess told me the bartender on the second floor would have any card left there last night, and I was greatly relieved when he found mine in his pile. I had to wait a minute for him to finish making two Bloody Marys he was in the midst of when I walked up, and I found myself drooling when he added the stalk of celery and two huge shrimps—cocktail style.

Back at The Harborside Inn, I captured the doors of two of the buildings that make up the inn, one of which is the one I’m staying in, The Ripley House.

The Chappaquiddick House

The Ripley House


ROAMING THE HARBORSIDE INN PROPERTY

I took some pictures of the harbor in the mid-morning sun and then walked around the conglomeration of buildings that make up The Harborside Inn and took some more:

Looking left from my balcony
Looking left from my balcony

Looking straight out from my balcony
Straight out from my balcony

Looking right from my balcony
Looking to the right off my balcony

My balcony
My balcony looking in

Looking to the left below
Looking to the left below

Looking straight out below
Looking straight out below

Looking to the right below
Looking to the right below

Hall door to my room
Room 417 in The Riply House

Stairway to my room
Stairwell to my room

Poolside grills
Poolside grills

The Ripley House (my room is the top, middle one)
The Ripley House


LUNCH AT THE DINER REDUX

On the way to lunch I stopped at Edgartown Books again to pick up a card for the mother of a friend of mine who has asked all of her friends to send cards to her mother for her 87th birthday on October 16. I passed this fabulous item on the way to the card section:

What would Jesus wear

I returned to the diner determined to have something other than seafood for lunch. I settled on the great American hamburger and fries and topped it all off with a coffee-flavored milkshake.

Hamburger and fries

Coffee-flavored milkshake


MAKING MY WAY BACK TO THE FERRY

While out walking around yesterday, I found the Edgartown Visitor Center, which is where the city bus picks up, and I found out that I needed to catch the #13 to Oak Bluffs, it came pretty much every hour, and the fare would be $2.50.

So, today, I knew right and where to go. The bus was a little late, but I was catching one an hour ahead of the one I probably could have made it in time on, for this very reason.

Back at the ferry, there was a huge tour group (at least 100, if not 150, people) waiting for the same ferry I was getting again. I listened to several of them having conversations, and in that short amount of time, I’d picked out a few people who would be getting on my nerves if I were traveling with them.

I made this facebook posting about one of them:

PSA: If you fancy yourself a talented whistler, and you do it all the time in public, I’m going to tell you what your friends won’t: It’s annoying as hell.

I did this same thing—being judgmental about people in a group tour—back in Nantucket at The Nantucket Inn. Ironically, I chose that hotel, and The Harborside Inn that I stayed at here on Martha’s Vineyard, because they were the accommodations used for a Road Scholar trip that I’d consider taking before deciding to book this trip myself.

I’m happy to say that this ferry ride was completely calm, I didn’t even think about being on a boat most of the way, and it was only an hour long.


THE HYANNIS HARBOR HOTEL

When the ferry started slowing down indicating we were close to port, I checked how far it was to walk to my hotel, because I knew it was close by, and I laughed out loud to myself thinking, “If only I could walk on water.”

Google maps walk from ferry to hotel

The Hyannis Harbor Hotel was right across the street from the pier we arrived at, which was great. I got this cute little map when I checked in:

Hyannis town map

Once in my room, I had a few cocktails—I’m committed to not having to throw away any of the bourbon I bought last Friday when I arrived—and I wrote for a couple of hours.

I loved that they’d thought to provide extra outlets for us gadget-loving people in such a convenient way:

Clock outlets


DINNER

At around 7:30, after googling “Gay Hyannis,” I set out to have dinner at emBargo—where Tuesday night is ½-priced tapas night.

On my walk, I passed the local library, which I so would have stopped in if it were open. I love visiting libraries in the towns I vacation in.

Public Library

I also passed the JFK Museum, which I would have stopped in, too, if it were open or if I were going to be in Hyannis longer.

JFK Museum entrance

I arrived at my destination, and I liked the way the sign emphasized the word bar in the middle of it. Where I’d seen it advertised, it was written as “emBargo,” which didn’t really capture it.

emBARgo sign

The bartender explained to me that not all of the tapas on the extensive list were half-price—that the ones that had an asterisk by them were not. Those aside, the list was plenty long enough to easily choose two that I wanted to try:

Tapas Littlenecks menua

Tapas Littlenecks dish

Tapas noodles menu

Tapas noodles dish

I considered getting dessert there, but I neither wanted anything that would stuff me nor break the bank, so I decided to wait. I asked the waiter if it was going to get “any gayer than this” in here, which would mean “gay at all,” and he laughed saying there was a drag show at 11:30 and that I should stick around.

Seeing how it was only 10:00, I didn’t want to wait around that long, so I left. Once outside I walked past a convenience store and got the hankering for an ice cream sandwich, which met both of my criteria—wouldn’t make me stuffed or break the bank. It was perfect.

Walking back to my hotel, I felt my back pocket where my wallet was and panicked, because it wasn’t there. I thought, “Oh my goodness; I must have left it on the counter when I paid for my ice cream sandwich.”

I turned around and headed back, but then felt down in the bottom left pocket of my cargo pants (so many pockets, so little time), and there it was. Whew!


LATE-NIGHT STORIES AROUND THE FIRE PIT

When I got back to the hotel, the huge sit-around fire pit was going (pretty sure it was a gas fire pit) and there were three people sitting around it.

They saw me looking, and said, “Come on over.”

There was one woman and two men there. From what I could surmise, the man and woman sitting near each other were both on the same tour, but weren’t a couple.

The other man sat opposite from them and only participated in their conversation intermittently, mostly to give his take on some matter of the local area.

Fire pit

Once the two tourists left, the night grew colder and darker as the remaining man and I talked about a number of things. He was a pilot who hasn’t flown for a year, because he’s out on disability with knee issues and his response time can’t be counted on in dire situations.

We commiserated about failing knees, as I shared about my two arthroscopic surgeries on my left knee, how aging in general pretty much sucks, and how we were both too familiar with elder care and the role reversal that often comes with it.

When I mentioned that my birthday was coming up on Friday, he shared, “Mine was a couple of months ago and my mom died that day.”

The preantepenultimate day leading up to my birthday

~Tuesday, 10/10/17~

Birthday countdown

As I countdown to my 60th birthday on Friday, here are 3 highlights of my life that stand out for these years.

20 – 29 years old (1977 – 1986)

GETTING MARRIED. I got married at 20 to a 21-year-old woman, whom I truly did love, even though I knew I was gay at the time. It seems hard to believe nowadays, but I truly didn’t think coming out was an option, and I truly believed I could “make it work.” We had a lot in common—both military brats, both Catholic, both with the same financial aspirations and willingness to work and save to achieve them. We really were a good team—right up until we weren’t. I’m grateful for many invaluable lessons I learned about being in a relationship, most of which transcend gender and time. See wedding pictures from another time and place.

STARTING A CAREER. I got hired by IBM right out of college, and I remember that first day, Monday, May 19, 1980, taking the Alexander Drive exit off NC-147 in the Research Triangle Park, turning into IBM, and thinking, “I have arrived.” Over the course of 21 years there, I would do programming, test software, manage 9 software testers, work on quality (Six Sigma, The Defect Prevention Process), track service tickets and test fixes, become a member of the network performance team in IT, and then work on the IT communications team. In the later years, I would become an information developer writing software documentation and eventually become an editor.

GETTING A VASECTOMY. At age 29 and 9 years into our marriage, we’d known all along we didn’t want kids, so I got a vasectomy. The Duke surgeon wanted me to get permission from my parents, which of course, I refused to do. I said, “I no longer get permission from my parents to do anything.” On the day of the procedure, with my legs up in stirrups and my junk pulled through a hole in a sheet, the surgeon said, “We have a group of interns that we’d like to watch the procedure, if that’s okay. Having already attained “maximum shrivel factor,” and with the valium beginning to kick in, I said, “Why not? Pop some popcorn and give them all front row seats.”

Other reflections: Birth – 9 years old | 10 – 19 years old | 30 – 39 years old | 40 – 49 years old | 50 – 59 years old

The propreantepenultimate day leading up to my birthday

~Monday, 10/09/17~

Birthday countdown

As I countdown to my 60th birthday on Friday, here are 3 highlights of my life that stand out for these years.

10 – 19 years old (1967 – 1976)

GETTING MY LICENSE AND GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL. I learned to drive on a car with a stick shift, and I got my license as soon as I could at 16. One time, as a newly-licensed driver, I parked in the inclined driveway of a girl’s house, and after we’d kissed for about 30 seconds, I opened my eyes to see that we’d rolled down the driveway and into the street because I’d had my foot on the clutch instead of the brake. I graduated 4th in my high school class in 1975 to Pomp & Circumstance and our senior class song, which was Stairway to Heaven.

GOING TO COLLEGE AND THE FIRST TIME FEELING LIKE AN ADULT. I didn’t do very well on my SATs (verbal higher than math—no surprise there), but I did get accepted into East Carolina University. I initially planned to major in Music before switching to their Math with a Computer Science Option degree. This was before there was a separate, accredited Computer Science degree, and I “wrote” Assembly and Cobol programs on an IBM punched card machine and later learned to program a PDP-11 computer. The first time I felt like a bonafide adult was shortly after moving into a dorm, when someone asked me to play tennis at 10 o’clock on a “school night,” and I realized it wasn’t “too late to do that” if I wanted to, and I didn’t have to ask anyone permission anyway.

WORKING MY WAY THROUGH COLLEGE AND BUYING MY FIRST CAR. For the first two years of college, I rode a bicycle from my dorm to Burger King, where I worked 40 hours a week at $2.37/hour while carrying a full class schedule. I once got a ticket for riding my bike home from work with no light on it after dark, and I remembered being outraged that someone working as hard as I was “just to make it,” would be “penalized” in that way. Then, I bought a brand new 1977 Toyota Corolla, and my car payments were $79 a month.

Other reflections: Birth – 9 years old | 20 – 29 years old | 30 – 39 years old | 40 – 49 years old | 50 – 59 years old