Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'status'

Devoid of Emotion

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun May 14, 2017 @ 9:20 am PDT

Today is Mother’s / Mothers’ / Mothers Day (How. To. Punctuate. ?.). I know this because of all the tributes to mothers being posted on Facebook. People talking about how great their mother was. Missing their mother for 30+ years. Missing her from 5 years ago. All these tributes.

I read them, devoid of feeling, for I tend not to think of my mother. I know I’m not the only one, as this post discusses.

This doesn’t mean there weren’t important women in my life. My grandmother (mother’s mother). My great-aunt (her sister). My aunts on my dad’s side. Godparents and family friends. (I’d add my stepmother to this list — my dad’s last wife — but by the time she came into his life I was already married and out of the house, so it was less of a motherly relationship and more just friendship).

But my mother? My mother was many things. Extremely smart. An astute businesswoman. A great accountant (one of the first women CPAs in California). A people person. She got along great at business parties.

But a nurturing mother who was always there caring? That’s not my memory. It may have been the case when I was young — I just don’t remember. It may have been the case early in the marriage, when she was raising my step-brother and I, when I was very young.

But the memory I have — perhaps from 8 or later — was the mother who was devoted to her accounting practice. The mother who left my care to housekeepers and her mom and other relatives. The mother who turned to drink and meds to deal with the pain after my brother died. The mother who yelled and faught. The mother who turned my bedroom into an office less than 6 months after I was out of the house. The mother who wanted the attention, and used emotional manipulation to get it — to the point where we had to cut contact early in our marriage. The mother who died on our wedding anniversary.

Mothers: Think about the lessons that your behavior teaches your children. You have the opportunity to set the example of what they will aspire to be, and how they will aspire to behave. Alternatively, you’ll be the negative example: the traits they consciously don’t want to have, the way they don’t want to behave. My mother taught me one major thing: I needed to do something different. My wife and I consciously tried to create a different relationship with our daughter, and I think we did.

Does this mean that I hate my mother? No. She did the best she could with her skillset and circumstances. By the time I was at a conscious age to remember the mothering, she was already consumed by the death of my brother, and her belief that it was her actions that caused it (it wasn’t, but step-mother relationships are difficult). So I don’t hate her, but I also doesn’t feel the depth of emotion that I see many express towards their mothers. My father, yes. My mother, no. I am, as I titled this piece, devoid of emotion. She wringed it all out of me.

So I think her for what she did raising me, and that we all survived. I think she would be proud of where I am now. I’m sorry our relationship wasn’t better, but I can’t go back and change the past and what happened. I’ll treasure the few good memories and move on.

Happy Mothers Day to those with great relationships and memories of their mothers. A tip of the hat and Happy Mothers Day to the other women in my life who provided the nurturing that I still remember positively.


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Observing Fandom

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Feb 22, 2017 @ 9:04 pm PDT

Driving home from picking up the vanpool van this evening, I decided to listen to a short podcast: the Ensemblist Unedited episode on BroadwayCon.*  Listening to it, I realized that I’m not a fanboy.
*: No, I can’t link to it directly. They are theatre people; they don’t know how to make their webpage such that one can link to a specific episode. Update: You can get the individual episode links from http://theensemblist.podbean.com — not obvious, but at least its something.

Perhaps I should clarify. I know many folks that love (or should I say, luuv) their fandoms. They obsess. They know every word, every lyric, every character, the smallest minutae. They cosplay. They go to conventions for their fandoms. This could be science fiction, comics, theatre, TV, you name it.

I understand their obsession. I just don’t get obsession. It is the same way that I view myself as a professional audience. Just as I can’t inhabit characters, I can’t obsession about things. That doesn’t mean I don’t know them well (although I typically don’t read or see shows multiple times with the same cast). I just don’t fall as deeply for them. I think that goes for the rest of my life as well: I’m not strongly outwardly emotional — I’m quietly emotional.

To those of you that get so into fandoms. Enjoy. I’ll just be over here on the side. Watching.


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Pissed at Water, In General

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Jan 17, 2017 @ 6:56 pm PDT

Today (well, this week) has been a day where I’ve been pissed at water, and no, this isn’t a Donald Trump “golden shower” joke. The only glimmer of a rainbow is that things are better than this morning, when I was majorly pissed.

I should point that that water and houses are a particularly problematic area for me. In our last house, we had a continual leak problem from our roofing heating/air conditioning unit, which wasn’t properly flashed during a reroof. We had continual sewer problems due to roots, and constant problems with caulking around a bathtub.

In our current house, we’ve had different sorts of water problem. There were continual sewer problems, eventually resulting in a collapse of the Orangeberg line and having to do a complete retrench and resewer a few years ago. There was the continual caulking problem around a tub, which was eventually replaced. The new shower has also had leak problems around the door (I think I’ve got that under control), as well as leak problems with its outside window that was installed upside down, and not sealed properly. Again, I think I’ve fixed that. We had a leak in our pool (also fixed), and I still suspect there could be one more, but it could also be evaporation.

So what got me upset today.

First, our reroofing has started in preparation for the solar install. Yes, right in the break in the atmospheric river. The roof was ripped off yesterday, and the rain starts Wednesday night. This had me all worried that they wouldn’t get the watertight layer installed in time, but they got that done today and should have the roof done tomorrow. Before the rain. But the gutters won’t be there for two weeks. Additionally, the DirecTV dish came down today, and thanks to the DirecTV schedule and the upcoming storm, won’t be back up until Saturday (my birthday). About the only bright side there is that I’ll have to miss the inauguration. Damn.

Then, of course, is the hot water leak under the slab in the center of the house that started three weeks ago. We just confirmed where it was, and the answer to the problem is…. a whole house repipe. In the middle of reroofing. The bids have ranged from $7.2K to $10K. Ouch. This morning I was worried that we would have to be out of the house the first night of the rain due to the water being turned off. … and thus not there to find any leaks from the new roof. Luckily, it turns out they will keep one bathroom up and running that night. Then it looked this evening like the start of the repipe would be delayed until Monday due to crew illness. Again, our contractor saved us (actually, one of his customers did) by allowing projects to be shifted so he could start tomorrow. Needless to say, I’m thankful for that, although these are very unexpected bills.

(I should also note that our shower door has slipped, meaning we can’t close it completely. They’re coming next week to fix that)

So keep your fingers crossed, or whatever is your equivalent, that we make it through to next week dry.

(Perhaps I should run away and join the circus. Oh, right.)


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So you want to get me a present….

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Dec 25, 2016 @ 7:00 am PDT

So you forgot to get me a present for the Christmas or Chanukah this year (and I know you did)? Don’t despair. Here’s what you can get me:

  • If you are someone who hates liberals, who despises Clinton and Obama: Please, give it up (or at least give up your online animosity towards Obama, Clinton, and liberals). You won the election, both Clinton and Obama will be gone from the elected political stage in a month. It’s not worth the anger. As for the Liberals, remember that this country was made great by people from both sides expressing their views and finding compromises that both could grudgingly accept, even if they found them a little distasteful. Liberals want this country to succeed just as you do (even though you might not believe it). Let’s tone down the animosity and the partisanship.
  • If you are Liberal, and/or utterly despise Donald Trump: Tone down the rhetoric. The hatred has quickly become one note, and you will come to realize it isn’t worth it — it may feel good now, but remember that it didn’t feel good when they did it to Obama, or when they will do it to the next Democratic President (and there will be one). What you do now is poking an anthill with a stick, and it doesn’t help the country. We should be respecting our President as much as we can, and being generally silent when we can’t. Note that I didn’t say agree. We should be continually working to rebuild our party(s), and insisting that Congress and the Courts do their job to uphold the constitution, limit the Presidency as the Constitution designed, and to investigate any malfeasance (as was done for past administrations). We should figure out how to find compromises to make this country succeed, instead of being small children and insisting that it is our way, or we take our toys and go home. As for Trump, we need to play to his ego, and convince him that he is at the crossroads of going down as one of the worst and most divisive presidents, or one of the greatest presidents who unified the country after years of intense partisanship. He needs to do the latter — abandon the tweeting, pick good and qualified advisors and cabinet heads and listen to them, and work to best serve not only those from the electoral majority states that won him the election, but those voters who are a majority of those who vote who voted for his opponent. He is better than that — he must be positive, not punative.

Folks, we all want this country to succeed, grow, and prosper. We may disagree on how to get there, but our goals (I hope) are the same.  How we behave on the network — at least many of us — does not help us get that goal. Don’t become the Internet 4Chan wants. We are so much better than that.

And that, friends, can be your holiday gift to me.

May all of you have the merriest of Chrismas Days (if that is your celebration), a Chappy Chanukah and a Gud Yom Tov and Chag Sameach (if that is your celebration), a blessed Kwanza (if that is your celebration), or just a relaxing day off of work while everyone else celebrates, thankful that the holiday music is finally coming to an end.


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Here Comes The Sun

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Nov 30, 2016 @ 12:01 pm PDT

userpic=donnaI’m someone who doesn’t like change. Well, I like finding change in my pockets; but in my life, less so. We’ve done minimal changes around our house since we moved here in 2005 — a burst before moving in, and then one bathroom. This month, however. We’re ch-ch-ch-changin’. Going from small to large….

Televisions. When we moved in, we got a standard definition DirecTivo. That finally died (although we’ll see if we can salvage anything off it). This resulted in us changing out the Tivo for a DirecTV Whole House DVR — a Genie. It’s been really neat. It led to us deciding to get rid of the 13″ CRT TV in the Media Room that had a bad flyback transformer, and replacing it with our 27″ RCA CRT TV, which could work with the amplifier better. We then went out and took advantage of a pre-Black Friday sale to get a 40″ Vizio 1080p HDTV. No, we haven’t upgraded to Blu-Ray yet. Not sure when that will happen.

Wall Oven. As I wrote the other day, our wall oven decided to have a board fail just before Thanksgiving, The part is no longer available, so over Black Friday I ordered a new Whirlpool Wall Oven from Lowes. We’ll lose convection, because there are fewer 24″ dual electric options nowadays, but still we’ll have a new oven. I was able to get a good bargain, and 18 months at 0% as well (making it a cash-flow level).

Solar. Three months ago, we had one of the largest DWP bills we’ve ever had: over $1,500 for power, water, and sanitation for the July-August period. Last month, it was over $1,200 for September-October. This got me seriously thinking that it was time to bite the bullet on solar. Why haven’t I done it before?

  • I was worried about anyone working on the roof.
  • I had heard horror stories about leases and the problems that ensure.
  • I had heard horror stories about getting connected to the LA DWP grid.

In the years since the solar industry started, however, process maturation has occurred. The connection to the DWP is now much easier, and there are plans in place for purchasing, rather than leasing, the systems. One of our credit unions does solar loans at somewhat decent rates (2.99% for 144 mos up to $75K, which is where we are at) and one of their approved contractors was a long-time roofing contractor before they got into the solar business.

We had them come in and talk to us. It turns out that we can get some additional credits for reroofing at the same time (which we would likely need to do anyway — the current roof is ~15 years old). We’ll be moving to an energy-efficient reflective roof (with new gutters that don’t leak). We’ll be getting a sufficient large system to cover our usage (50 SolarWorld 285 w panels with Enphase microinverters, with a system size of 14.25 kW, and estimated annual production of  19.2 kW total, for an electric usage offset of 103% (meaning we should be ahead 471 kW/year, given past usage). The cost is large, but we should be getting back about a third of it in rebates or credits.

This is a scary thing for me, but the numbers look like our savings will more than cover what the new payments will be (and we’ll re-amortize once the credits come in). I’ve got a few smaller worries — like relocating/reinstalling the DirecTV dish and the loss of power when they upgrade the panel. I’ve been reassured somewhat that things will be OK, plus I’m doing what I normally do when worried — I’m blogging about it.

Despite the worry, I know this is the right thing to do. With “global warming”, it is only going to be getting hotter during the summers here in the valley. Power usage (and my bills) would keep going up, and this will allow us to get ahead on them. Further, with the new administration there is no guarantee that solar incentives and rebates will continue (the President would have to balance his disbelief in climate change with the jobs and economic activity that the solar rebate programs create). Better to get them now while they still are in place.



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What do you mean you cooked the turkey, Charlie? (A Thanksgiving Tradition)

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Nov 24, 2016 @ 3:51 pm PDT

Today is the day when we are thankful for many thing. Home. Family. Loved ones. Stan Freberg.

Yup. Stan Freberg, who reminded us in his 1962 album “The United States of America” that this is national “Take an Indian to Lunch” week. I wonder if he would have to change the words these days, although the sentiment is equally true…

Take an Indian To Lunch

Take an Indian to lunch this week
Show him we’re a regular bunch this week
Show him we’re as liberal as can be
Let him know he’s almost as good as we

Make a feathered friend feel fed this week
Overlook the fact he’s red this week
Let him share our Quaker Oats
‘Cause he’s useful when he votes
Take an Indian to lunch

Two, four, six, eight, who do we tolerate
Indians, Indians, rah; rah; rah

Take an Indian to lunch this week
Let him sit right down and munch this week
Let’s give in and all do the brotherhood bit
Just make sure we don’t make a habit of it

Take an Indian to dine this week
Show him we don’t draw the line this week
We know everyone can’t be
As American as we
(After all, we came over on the Mayflower)
Take an Indian
(Not a wooden Indian)
But a real, live Indian
To lunch!

Stan Freberg also reminded us about how the first Thanksgiving really went…

The Luncheon Under The Trees

Narrator:Needless to say, the luncheon there under the trees was a great success, and a good time was had by Puritan and Indian alike. Everything came off beautifully with the exception of one minor catastrophe.

Mayor: What do you mean you cooked the turkey, Charlie?
Charlie: Well, I cooked the turkey, that’s all.
Mayor: You put our national bird in the oven. Is that correct?
Charlie: Yeah, well I, uh …
Mayor: And all of us had our mouths set for roast eagle with all the trimmings.
Charlie: Yeah, well I, uh …
Mayor: You did a thing like that?
Charlie: Well, the two birds were lying there side by side.
Mayor: The *turkey* was for the centerpiece, Charlie, I mean …
Charlie: Well, they looked so much alike that I, uh …
Mayor: Well, we blew it now. They’re all sitting down at the tables out there.
Charlie: Yeah, yeah.
Mayor: … starting on their little nut cups already. Just have to switch the birds, that’s all.
Charlie: Yeah, well …
Mayor: Serve them turkey instead of eagle. But it’s kinda scrawny-lookin’, isn’t it?
Charlie: Yeah, well I thought I’d stuff some old bread in it and make it look a little fatter.
Mayor: You do that, OK?

May all my friends and readers have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and remember the holiday for what it originally was: shopping later that evening at the Mall of Plymouth for those stylish belt buckles. Stay safe!




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Somehow, The House Knows

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Nov 23, 2016 @ 11:23 am PDT

userpic=turkey,turkeysSomehow, our house knows when it is almost Thanksgiving. We figure that it thinks we’re going to be having a bunch of guests, and therefore causes something in the house to fail to give us tsuris. Typically, this is when it chooses to have the plumbing back up. But we’ve replaced the sewer lines, so it is forced to be more creative. Here’s how our house has been sabotaging us this November:

The Wall Oven

The previous owners of our house installed a GE Profile dual-oven (one convection) wall oven before we moved in. Even thought we are not hosting a large family dinner, on Monday the upper oven decided to stop working. We called in GE for repair, and the electronic board that controls that part of the oven is no longer available. The lower oven (non-convection) is still working.

This, of course, means that we will be looking for a new oven — an expense we hadn’t anticipated, coming just as we are about to start the paperwork to put in solar and re-roof (purchase, meaning a large loan). This is one where you bite the bullet and do it, because you have to.


When we came home from a Bar Mitzvah in the Bay Area the weekend before last, we came to find our old DirecTivo was no longer working. It would start the boot up just fine, go to “Just a Few Minutes More….”, and then… snow, not even getting to satellite acquisition. Oddly, it still seemed to be recording and dialing out, even though it wasn’t talking to the TV (and, remember, it could talk to the TV during the beginning of the boot process). We were faced with the choice of at least a $150 repair, or just upgrading to a free Genie Whole-House DVR from DirecTV (although the latter would increase our bill by $13/month… the gift that keeps giving). We decided, as it was likely we lost all recorded programs, to bite the bullet and upgrade.

The first installer came out, looked at our three CRT TVs and our old amplifiers, and said that he needed additional parts. The appointment was rescheduled.

The rescheduled installer came out with the right adapters. He got all three TVs working with the new box. This led to a bit of a cascade issue: now that we had HD service to the boxes, we wanted to take advantage of it. One of our smaller TVs had a bad flyback transformer, making it impossible to watch. So we took advantage of a sale at Target (saving almost $100), and got a new 40″ LG HDTV. The 26″ that was displaced went to replace the 13″ squealing TV. I got everything rewired, and our system has been upgraded.


For the longest time, my wife has been using my daughter’s old Windows 7 laptop (the one she spilled pineapple juice on). It’s been mostly right after it was repaired, but occasionally the wireless or power is a bit flakey. She was going to switch to the smaller ASUS laptop that was running Windows 8.1 (upgraded to Windows 10), that my daughter gave up on after her boyfriend spilled water on it. We had gotten the motherboard cleaned, and it seemed to be running fine. Earlier this week, however, it just turned off. Only a flashing green power light, that when you try to power on just flashes faster. I think the power supply must have been damaged and finally gave up the ghost.

So, on top of everything, we’ll be looking for a new computer for my wife at the beginning of a new year.


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Living History, Pardnah

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 22, 2016 @ 4:38 pm PDT

Tumbleweek Township 2016userpic=faireThere’s a new Faire in Simi Valley, and we went to it today. Although, to be truthful, it isn’t really a Faire. However, it is Faire-like, and it is true to the spirit of Faire, and for something new, it is quite remarkable. It also raises some interesting questions.

It is Tumbleweed Township (FB), and it is a Living History event set in approximately the 1880s to 1890s in the West (actually, perhaps what Simi Valley was at that time). This event is put on by the same folks that do Nottingham Festival (FB), a new Renaissance Faire in Simi Valley in mid-November. Like Nottingham, the folks behind the event (Actors Rep of Simi Valley (FB) and the Simi Valley Cultural Association (FB)) are dedicated to doing Faire like it was done originally — that is, going back to the first days of the first RenFaire in Ventura County. That means a dedication to living history, and less of a concern about profits and maximizing revenue. As they put it on the Nottingham page:

Since the days after the Faire put on by the Living History Center left Agoura, there has been a desire to bring a more accessible regional Renaissance style event back to the Ventura County area. A group of dedicated volunteers from the community along with the Actor’s Repertory Theater of Simi and the non-profit Simi Valley Cultural Association set out to make that dream a reality. Nottingham Festival will recreate the magic and revelry of an Elizabethan faire and marketplace with street performers and stage acts that will provide entertainment for all ages. Craft workers and reenactors from various guilds will entreat you to experience a taste of the handicrafts and lifestyle of the 16th Century. Our hope is that you will be well entertained and maybe even learn a thing or two about the time period and its people. Proceeds from this non-profit festival will be granted to smaller non-profit agencies in the surrounding communities, as well as some set aside for the further development of the arts programs for youth.

Tumbleweed is an attempt to create a new living history event — this one set in a township in the 1880s and 1890s. There are still many Faire-ish elements: food booths, craft booths, stages, and music. However, the crafts are a little bit different, the shows a bit more cowboy-ish, and the atmosphere — as befits the Western ethic — a lot less bawdy. There is also — thankfully — a lot less fantasy aspects. No pirates. No fairys. No fantasy elements. The closest fantasy elements are Steampunk. It’s also pretty easy to garb yourself — jeans, flannel shirts, cowboy belts and hats work just fine. Just no guns. Only the actors get replica guns. Per the agreement with Simi PD: “There shall be no firearms or replica firearms allowed to be brought onto the premises by the public.”

Now that you know what the notion behind what Tumbleweed is, how was it executed? Pretty good. It was very small this year.  There were perhaps 8 food vendors: turkey legs, BBQ chicken and steak and veggies, kettle corn, sandwiches, shave ice, ice cream, coffee, and of course, mead, whisky, and cider. There were about 15-20 vendors: a few clothing, jewelry, soaps, crafts, and such. There were three stages with a small number of shows. There were a few guild-like exhibits, including a quilting bee. There were games of chance. There was also the “Grand Exhibition Hall of Famous Personages” — which is like the “Explorers Hall” at Nottingham with famous people brought back to life, from Jenny Lind to Annie Oakley to Kit Carson, to Sacagawea to… you get the idea.

So, the town was small and attendence was moderate — but the idea is great. A big problem with Faire is that there are so many of them, and they are all similar, and all explore the same history. This was a new historical area, and actually relevant to when it took place. Simi Valley and California epitomize the west, and towns like this did exist. With better publicity, they could be starting a new trend (further, I could image this being something that Orange Empire Rwy Museum could do quite well).

But there are dangers as well. What RenFaire has become is fantasy; it rarely presents true living history anymore. This is good, because it is accepting of all races and creeds (whereas the original Elizabethan time would be less forgiving). If there is any parodying of culture, it is parodying of Anglo-Saxon culture. When we turn to the old West, however, we run the risk of stereotypical “Cowboys and Indians”, of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and this can be a danger. While there was freedom in the West, it also created a stereotypical view of the Native American — and care must be taken. However, done right, it can present a true picture of the relationship between Western settlers and their Native American neighbors — different from what the movies might present.

It also created the question in my mind of what other periods of living history might be ripe for equivalent events — and how might this be done without cultural approbation. Other eras have been done — just look at the successful Great Dickens Christman Fair and Victorian Holiday Party (FB) in the Bay Area. Doing a Feudal Japan Faire would probably not be a good idea. But what about Europe in the Dark Ages, well before Elizabeth. What about the mid-East in Biblical times? What about a Colonial faire? All could be quite interesting — and educational.

Coming back to Tumbleweed Township (FB): Was it a success? I can’t speak to financially for the participants, but I think it is a great idea, and we’ll certainly be back. I hope it grows, for it is an era that is worth exploring.

Tumbleweed Township (FB) runs for one more day, running 10 AM to 5 PM. Tickets are available online or at the gate. The event takes place at 3855 Alamo in Simi Valley across from the DMV!


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