Here are narratives about my own life, from as far back as I remember to present, and some essays on themes I develop on this site through the many “links and comments” pages. The memoir essays overlap the family history essays somewhat. There are also some sidebar essays (posted as blog posts) about various special interests along the way, or things I’ve concluded about the world.
I realize there’s not likely much of an audience for these memoirs, even among my relatives. At the same time, I would have been interested in such stories about my ancestors — but aside from my father’s photo slides, I have no clue, no documents or narratives, of what their lives were like, my father’s, my mother’s, my uncle’s, my grandparents’ — what they thought, what the world was like in 1950 or 1900. So even if no one cares about me, perhaps my relatives, or anyone else who finds this site, will find the photos and essays here of some interest.
- Personal Timeline
Birth in 1955, family moves, schools and universities, jobs, Locus and other SF contributions, historical events along the way.
- Apple Valley Landings (7500 words)
“The place where I grew up was like an alien planet. Or what I came to think of as the equivalent of an alien planet.”
- Personal History, 1962 to 1977: Santa Monica to UCLA (11,100)
Elementary school, junior high, high school, college.
- Personal History, 1977 to 1982: UCLA to Rocketdyne (3360)
Looking for a job, job with the county, finding a ‘real’ job
- Personal History: 1982 to 2012: Working at the Rocket Factory for 30 Years (8830)
Space Shuttle, Space Station, Software Engineering, Process Improvement
- Personal History since ‘Retirement’: 2012 to 2020 (2230)
The layoff, contracting, moving to Oakland, projects
- 2020 Heart Attack (7340 words)
- 2021 Heart and Kidney Transplants (2500 words)
- Apollo 11
- Apple Valley History (1060)
- Bicycling (2090)
- Growing Up with Books (1200)
- My Father’s Books, and Cambridge Illinois (660)
- Academics (4050)
- My Religious Upbringing, Such as it was (3580)
- Sidebar: My Sect Is Right and Yours is Wrong, Obviously
- To be written: my take on the claims for religion and existence of gods
- Boy Scout Paraphernalia (350)
- Family Dynamics and Social Withdrawal (400+)
- Astronomy (1090)
- Books (2540)
- 15 Ways of Buying a Book, Part 1 (3570)
- 15 Ways of Buying a Book, Part 2
- How I Use Bookstores, Past and Present (11 Apr 2022)
- Ron, Ken, Howard (26 Jun 2019)
- Science Fiction: Locus, Conventions, Locus Online, Sfadb.com
- Myst Games (2190)
- Thoughts About Family Pics (545)
- About My Heart Attack and Hospital Stay (7300)
- Pseudo-Science and Science (split these?) (1730)
- Science Fiction (includes Locus discussion) (3760)
- Music — partly what music I’ve liked; partly how I came to like it; partly about my own tentative musical skills
- Model cars and spaceships
- Stamp collecting
- Bullets Dodged (9 Nov 20) The main reason I didn’t die of AIDS in the 1980s.
- My Experience with 2001
- Frequency Interactions, about my early journals
- The Radio at Sunset
- The Stars Have Names
- Visiting Endeavour in 2013
- Cleaning Out the File Cabinet (26 Jun 2019)
- Play and Stranger Danger (6 Sep 2018)
- Hawaii, July 2000
Archived on the Locus site, this is an “editorial” I wrote about attending a science fiction convention in Honolulu, followed by a four day side trip to the Big Island, with Charles Brown (the editor/publisher of Locus), decorated with my earliest digital camera photos.
- Alaskan Cruise, 2008
My partner and I left Seattle on a cruise up the Northwest Coast and into Alaska, as far as Skagway and Glacier Bay. The ship’s wifi was poor, so I have only three brief posts: Vacation Notice — Alaska Cruise, Cruising Alaska, and Home from Alaska. Not mentioned in the posts, but we met a gay “throuple” on the cruise who happened to live near us the San Fernando Valley, and stayed friends with them until we move to the Bay Area (and still keep in touch with Perry R via Facebook).
- Hawaiian Islands Cruise, 2010
My partner and I, and his two sons, took a week-long cruise among several of the islands, with a preliminary stay of a couple days on Oahu. I wrote brief daily posts on my laptop from our room or cabin: Makaha, Waimea, Ilikai, Kailua, Haleakala, Kilauea, Kona, Hanalei, Na Pali, Honolulu Airport, Return to the Mainland.
- Mediterranean Cruise, 2016
Our most recent, as of 2020, cruise, from Lisbon to Rome over 10 days. Again I tried to do daily posts from our cabin, and took photos, though did take the time to include them in the posts. (Maybe I’ll post a separate page of them.) Lisbon; Lisbon: The Tour, the Tower, the Castle, and Dinner; On the Boat; Cádiz; Málaga; Alicante; Sundry Observations; Palma de Mallorca, and Further Sundry Observations; Barcelona; Marseille; Monte-Carlo; Genoa, Florence, Pisa, Rome.
After writing these essays and posts in 2020, during the first year of the pandemic:
- First, that the early experiences that shaped my life came early on, and came almost entirely independent of any direction my parents (in particular my father) tried to impart. I’ve thought about this on the occasions when I’ve wondered what it would have been like to have a child. I suppose that most parents want to instill their children with their own values, as a way of preserving them; in effect, to create as-close-as-possible duplicates, since they know they’re not immortal except through their descendants. It works sometimes, half the time, I’d guess; but the other half the time children diverge or rebel in one way or another, because they discover things their parents did not know, or simply to establish themselves as independent people and not merely copies of their parents. So I’ve long realized that you can’t direct a child’s interests or beliefs; at best you can expose them to as many options as one can, and hope that…something strikes. Something that gives their own life passion and self-purpose.
- Second, more philosophically, acknowledging the contingencies of events that results in one’s adult life and beliefs, realizing how easily things might have gone differently, undermines the illusion of destiny or purpose or goal, and instead helps to appreciate the world as it is. Life is not predestined. Values and beliefs are contingent on circumstances. We do the best we can with the circumstances we’re dealt; the measure of a person is to what extent they blithely accept their childhood circumstances, or become open to the world and learn that there’s more to that world than their parents and ancestors realized. This is the arc of human history, at least for the few who can do this.
- “A child is born into a world of phenomena all equal in their power to enslave. It sniffs—it sucks—it strokes its eyes over the whole uncountable range. Suddenly one strikes. Why? Moments snap together like magnets forged in a chain of shackles. Why? I can trace them, I can even with time pull them apart again. But why at the start were they ever magnetized at all. Why those particular moments of experience and no others, I do not know! And nor does ANY BODY ELSE!” – Richard Dysart, the psychiatrist in Peter Shaffer’s play and film “Equus”.
- “A man’s work is nothing but the slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” – Albert Camus