prog: (Default)
One of the reasons I wasn't accepted into grad school in 2002 (if I might make an educated (ho ho) guess) is that I had literally no clue about what I was getting into, and made many mistakes, surely enough to make my application look quite unattractive. Half of the reason for that is because I was too young and stupid to realize that I had built up a pretty good network of friends to ask relevant questions of, but the other half, it only just now occurred to me, is that I grew up in a household that only barely grasps the concept of higher education.

My mom went to college, but did so as woman circa 1950, so I assume that only went so far. And my dad nominally went to college as well, but did so on some kind of military ticket (he labored stateside as an enlisted Air Force cadet though the Korean War), and he didn't enjoy it and got out as soon as he could. As I prepared for my freshman year at UMaine - the same campus he'd attended - he broke it to me that that college would be a cold, hard, and boring time that I had to endure out of necessity. We were both surprised when I took to it much better than that. (And that there were no communal showers in the dorms any more. That was a real shocker to both of us. You don't know how long I spent that summer coming to terms with the idea of communal showers.)

Ricky went to a military college, so whatever; that's in a different plane of reality. Peter, then, may have been the first person in our particular lineage to attend a four-year program of the sort I'd recognize, though at a college I wouldn't otherwise have ever heard of, and with no particular post-graduate ambition. And finally, after my own graduation, there was full assumption from my own family that I was done with school forever, because what else was there? As I didn't have any college-based friendships close enough to survive the trauma of graduation, I had no reason not to assume that as well. And so it went.

Anyway, all this comes to mind now as I reflect on a conversation I had with Peter earlier this week. Amy and I spent Monday day-tripping through Maine, visiting members of my family where they each lived, since I wasn't going to see them on Christmas this year. For our third stop, we took middle-brother Peter and sister-in-law Janice out to dinner. While chatting, Peter asked about what Amy was up to academically, knowing only that she was "in college" in one way or another: "What's your major?" After Amy gave him a cogent summary of how she's working towards her master's degree in library science at a graduate program at Simmons, Peter paused to process this, and then said "So, that makes you a... junior, right?"

He nodded and made appropriate ah-yes-of-course noises when gracefully corrected, but I still think he has no concept of education past undergraduate school. And neither did I, up until I moved to Boston, years after my own graduation. So, yeah.


Jul. 19th, 2009 12:18 pm
prog: (tiles)
Ricky came back with a report of Trouble, at the local church he visited for Mass this morning. During "the Peace", the bit in the service where congregants take a moment to semi-ritualistically offer handshakes and say Peace! to their immediate neighbors in the pews, Ricky saw that a little girl near him seemed to be ignoring him, so he tapped her on the shoulder. This was apparently met with some disapproval.

I explained to him that he really shouldn't touch people he doesn't know, ever, to say nothing of touching children. He immediately got argumentative, starting with "It wasn't a touch, it was a tap," and he insisted on reconstructing the scene, with me role-playing the girl (and then receiving what I'd describe as a light, four-fingered flail on the shoulder). "I was treating her like I would my own daughter!" he finally said.

Ricky's thought-paths, and hence interactions with other people, will always be fractured, in ways like this.

Going downstairs to finish our Bezique game now, before I escort him back to the bus station. He's pretty steamed about this and muttering continuously about how nobody understands what "Peace" means any more. I'll just nod at this.
prog: (Default)
Today was Ricky Day, which we've celebrated more or less annually since 2001. As with every year, I meet it with a mix of warmth and resentment. I like seeing Ricky doing well, and I like to contribute to his well-being. But it nevertheless has the weight of Family Obligation on it, and it writes the whole weekend out from under me.

This year's different because of my cohabitation situation. [ profile] classicaljunkie has met Ricky before, though (in fact we visited his apartment in Bangor in the fall of 2007), and is usually the first one to read the postcards that he has, since then, been addressing to the two of us together. She's been an excellent and patient co-host, helped by the fact that she can (in fact, must) frequently slip away to the upstairs office to work on her strict-deadline studies. I've been doing a little of that myself (observe my writing of these very words), and Ricky, for his part, has been a fine guest.

I think that he's less prone to "trouble" lately - his term for getting stuck in awkward social situations with strangers due to his communication problems. Which is to say: He's overcoming these problems, little by little. It's been a long and hard road for him, to recover this far. Go Ricky. Before his visit, I was recounting to Amy the many truly awful years directly following his head injury, when he was random, frustrating, often outrageous and sometimes violent and scary. In the more than 20 years since then, I can squint and see that as being a weird and broken kind of forced infancy, and maybe it took him the length of a second childhood and adolescence to learn to be an adult again...

Anyway, I was able to use the different living situation to negotiate a reduction in the length of his visit, so he's hanging around for about 48 hours this year, instead of the traditional Friday-to-Monday stay. So I'll be seeing him off tomorrow evening, back to South Station.
prog: (Default)

Ricky thought of this joke while in confession recently, and he insisted that we pause a Netflix viewing of "A Man for All Seasons" to tell it to us:

King Henry VIII sought absolution for his sins. The priest or bishop or whomever ordered him to say some Hail Marys.

"How many must I say?" asked the king.

"10 to the VIII!"

Ricky is now asking if he can use my iPhone to check his email, which he hasn't looked at since 2001, and got throuh the Bangor Library somehow.

Posted via

Happy Xmas

Dec. 25th, 2008 11:08 am
prog: (Default)
Arrived at Fairfield yesterday. Sometime after I made the Zipcar reservation I became determined to shift my mind into a more graceful posture for this visit, a loose kung-fu pose of good cheer and readiness to casually flip any bad crap over my shoulder and onto the mat behind me. And really, I've been having an okay time! And truth to tell, it helps that Ricky's in fairly balanced humors.

Tried to teach the family Ticket to Ride yesterday. Ricky took to it quickly, and as with other games I could tell he liked it because he started telling stories within the confines of the game's rules. He'd draw additional train-car cards not because he needed to build up his hand, but because his men at the switchyard were getting restless with only one car to work on. Since TtR has such a narrow set of possible actions, you can play like this and still play well. When we play Batttle Cry or Memoir '44, he makes tactically terrible moves that give his opponent an advantage, but it furthers the story he's telling so it's OK by him.

I understand now that Ricky's much more interested in rules than gameplay as a whole. This is related to how he became enamored with Catholicism a few years ago, adopting many of its practices - regular mass, the rosary, confession, all of that - and continues to stick to them diligently. So much rigorous ceremony, things he can do every day! I can see the relationship between this and the small, reality-confining space of a game's ruleset, for one with a mind like RIcky's. It's a relief for him to step into, a way to tune himself down for a while, and I can't blame him for being more interested in exploring the rules than trying to win.
prog: (tiles)
Short news article on Erik's accident, from back when it happened three weeks ago. A couple of days ago, he had just transferred to a rehab clinic, when he was felled by a pulmonary embolism. Just one of those things.

My friends: drive defensively. When bicycling in traffic, drive very defensively. Please.

You know what, even if you're just walking around where cars are, please keep up that peripheral vision. My brother Ricky got smacked by a bus a few days ago (also driven by an older person), if you can believe that. Fortunately all he suffered was a broken arm. He was just walking around by the Sea Dog in Bangor when he saw something big, and next thing he knew he was in a hospital bed. Geez.
prog: (PKD)
Ricky: Is [[ profile] doctor_atomic] still working on precognition?

Me: [affirmation, with correction - she is a cognitive scientist.]

Ricky: Yeah. No "Minority Report", huh?
prog: (khan)
[ profile] classicaljunkie, Ricky and I were in my apt on Saturday evening. Ricky announces that he's going to Shaw's to get some sour cream, and leaves. CJ and I, who hadn't been alone together in a week, take advantage of our short span of solitude. About when we'd expect him to come back, Ricky re-enters the room to announce that he's going to Shaw's to get some sour cream.

Uh, sez I. Hadn't he just come back from doing that?

No, sez he; he had been in the kitchen, one room over, praying on his rosary.

Wait, Ricky's Catholic?

Kinda. He more or less spontaneously started acting like a devout one a year or two ago, I think after hearing a Mass on the radio and liking what he heard. During his most recent two visits he's overcome his fears of strange neighborhoods to brave the 10-minute walk from my apt to the nearest Catholic church for Mass.

I gather that he takes comfort in all the rigorous structure of observant Catholicism's many repetitive prayers and rituals.
prog: (Default)
Ricky's leaving tomorrow afternoon. It's been a fine visit. You may have seen a post I made a few hours before he showed up on Friday, detailing some concerns I had; several hours after meeting him at South Station he was acting so wonderfully together that I regretted the post, and eventually went back and privated it.

He did say a handful of politically poor things to me, but at the same time he mixed happily with every manner of humanity that the Greater Boston Area had to offer him. I think his notion of "Arabs" (as he calls them) is something like many Americans' notions of "Communists" a half century ago; not so much a type of person as a sort of invisible, monstrous infection which could be inside anyone, and you can't know one until the moment he's blowing himself up at you. So while he is quite terrified of the "Arabs" in his mind, this seems to have zero effect on how he acts towards or around anyone, regardless of appearance. My fears were groundless.

Some of my misgivings also because when he was at his worst, circa 1990, he was so racist that he was like a grotesque parody of a racist. He shocked my parents, who are racists of the more casual stripe that peoples' parents tend to be. He even made my dad's obligatory racist friend kind of uncomfortable, when he got going with his talk. I can't pinpoint when he gave all that up, but golly gee you would never imagine he was ever like that, to see him today.

More later; all is well, sleep time now.
prog: (Default)
I finally called Ricky back just now. He wants to come down for Art Beat this year. We went to only a little bit of 2005's (2006 being the Ricky-(and-art-)free Volity Year) but he has only good memories of it, as well as sadness that he didn't buy "that piece with the string". I don't remember this.

I do remember feeling a little antsy when he was trying to have a conversation with one seller about her stuff when it was clear that How much is this? was the only question she wanted to hear. Ricky does not pick up on these things. It is too bad that it makes me antsy, but it always does.

Anyway, he's how tentatively scheduled to be staying at my apt for that weekend. We will probably hit the MFA too so he can enjoy its courtyard, where he hasn't sat in a long time.

In other news, I finally cleaned my keyboard this afternoon. I didn't have the article author's specialized scrubby tool, but I did have a whole lotta Q-tips and some Windex, so I got most of the gross (and I do mean gross) matter off the base. His sandwich-baggie method of mass key-cleaning worked like a charm.

Sadly, as a fan and frequent user of mammalian skin and hair, it's bound to get all gunked up again soon enough unless I invest in a cover thingum. [ profile] karlvonl recommends this one. Maybe!

Also, the AC is up again. Whirrr. $$$$. eh
prog: (Default)
As I write this I'm on the train on my way to visit [ profile] doctor_atomic amid her studies at Rutgers, where her job seems to mostly involve exposing babies to visual stimuli, and then writing grant applications about it. This is just a lil vacation; I haven't traveled for pleasure in a very long time. (I can't count last year's Origins.)

My mother does not understand this trip and is sure that something sinister is afoot. She asked if [ profile] classicaljunkie is "allowing" this, and insinuated that perhaps the doctor hasn't told her bf. (In fact, he is catsitting for me.) I reminded mom that she's been a very close friend of mine for more than five years. I think this just made her more uncertain. "Maybe you should bring Amy with you."

My dad is not batty as my mom but nonetheless wanted to warn me that Rutgers has a reputation as a wild party school and I shouldn't drink too much. I told him OK.

This visit comes only a few days after the thon, which she came up for. (She comes up a lot anyway, since the bf is here.) Let us speak of the thon. I shall direct you to a post from Spatch for a nice description of the event as a whole and another from the doctor that summarizes all the things we saw in this particular festival. As she notes, the films both short and feature-length were deliciously varied this year. I hope that the tradition of mixing shorts into the annual program continues!

This leaves me to mention random things. It was a mixed start for our little group. OK, our big group; there were seven of us at once point, which is the largest thonning party I've had the pleasure of; I'm used to a rotating crew of two or three. When we arrived our chosen section was already checkerboarded with people, but some oldsters who overheard our predicament gladly rearranged themselves to clear out some contiguous seats for us. "Hooray for fandom!" said I. (Though to be quite honest I am not sure of the thon's place within SF Fandom proper. It seems to exist largely independent of the convention circuit.)

Once we settled in and Forbidden Planet started up it became clear that we had another problem: a chatty cathy sitting directly in front of us. As Spatch notes in his post, some audience participation is OK, but running commentaries not so much. This fellow, a middle-aged gent sitting by himself, felt the need to crack wise after I-kid-you-not just about every third line of dialogue, and he was extraordinarily unfunny. Also a little creepy, since he was addressing all his remarks to a couple sitting two seats to his right (who laughed politely each time) and finished each bon mot with a self-satisfied little "Hm hm hm hm!" Here's a little sampler of what I can remember:
On-screen activity Dude's chatter
A line about boarding a tram to be taken to "the residence". The residence? The Residence Inn? I'd stay there! I've stayed there before! Hm hm hm hm!
Someone asks Robby the Robot if he is a robot. No! I'm Marilyn Monroe! Reincarnated! Hm hm hm hm!
Referring to a chained prisoner, one character instructs another to "remove his bonds". Did he say "remove his bottom"? Hm hm hm hm!
A woman hands her shoes to a man for safekeeping. Sniff 'em! Hm hm hm hm!
I shushed this guy about three times over the course of the thon, and to his credit he stayed shushed until another film he found chatterworthy started up. I don't like shushin people at this event coz I'm not the quietest person in the theater myself, but this was just beyond the pale. But once we discovered the Power of Sssssh we were able to stop worrying about him and enjoy the movies so that was OK.
Back to family: my niece Colleen is in a kind of trouble. It is the kind of trouble you're in when you're, what, 22? 24? and completely clueless. She'd be a slacker if she had a family able to support that lifestyle, but instead she's just sort of a vagrant, bumming around her mom or grandma's house or sleeping in her car in between, broke and directionless. (Her family is also broke but at least they're anchored.) Who knows what to do about that?

On the train I listened to my backlog of voice mails of Ricky talking about his daughter's most recent misadventures. He suggested I email her or something just to send her some cheer, so I sent her a text message right there from the train, telling her about my trip and the rain outside and how I hoped all was well. She pinged me back a moment later to assure me that it was so. So that much is nice, at least.

At the doctor's apt now and it's almost dinner time. Cheers!


Jan. 17th, 2007 01:49 am
prog: (Default)
Thanks, all, for the birthday wishes.

Ricky asked me, as he does every year, how it feels to be N. Instead of saying something like "Same as it felt to be N - 1" I said "I think it's gonna be a really good year." And I meant it!

Ricky's birthday was a few days ago (he's 51 now) and mom got him mandolin lessons, which is a bang-on typical good-intention bad-execution mom-gift. He enjoys playing with his mandolin, though he doesn't actually play music on it, he just mechanically plucks doink-doink-doink through the notes on the page. It pleases him, and for some reason Shadow likes it too; she will often come watch.

Lessons will frustrate him, and I worry that he will confuse and disturb his teacher with bizarre talk borne of this frustration. I doubt he will get past lesson two. (If it were 10 years ago I would further suggest the alternate possibility that he might end up seducing the teacher, if she were female and silly, but he doesn't do that anymore.)

He's also going to fly to visit mom and dad for a bit in Florida and I worry about that, too, making a security risk out of himself by talking weird at people. I console myself to think that people like Ricky must fly around every day and it's not like you hear about flights getting grounded daily because of them. mumble

I think the solution to the teleprompter thing involves using Final Cut to make a simple QuickTime movie of the text to read as upward-scrolling titles, just as if they were end credits, and then play that on the monitor behind the camera. No page controls needed. Really, I can't think of why that wouldn't work, with just a little practice to get the speed right.
prog: (zarf's werewolf)
Because everyone likes kitty-cat updates.

• She's stopped hiding all day long, especially since I partially cleaned out the dining room, making it a lot more open. She likes to come in and hang out while I'm working there, looking out the window or batting toys around the floor. Presently she'll go tuck herself into my bedroom closet and sleep off all that hard work. While she still comes out to greet guests, though, she doesn't stick around for them. Maybe people come over only during naptime. (This being more or less anytime the sun is not out.)

• She is both catnip-philic and laser-pointer-philic, the latter of which is a new experience for her. She likes laser-play so much that she recognizes the pointer itself and gets excited when she sees me picking it up. I will have to remember to give the pointer to my parents when they collect Shadow in March. (Maybe. I fear Ricky freaking out over it and throwing it away to protect my parents from blinding themselves, then lecturing me on giving them a deadly death device. Driven by a strong sense of fealty as well as clinical paranoia, he's often like an over-protective mother to them.)

• Shadow's kind of barfy, but no more than I really expect for cats. At least she has the good manners to do it while I'm there to see it, and on hard surfaces. Interestingly it's been a different color every time.

• Though her aim is true, she doesn't bury her poops, or really even scratch up the litter at all. I happened to have some incense so I've been burning that to counteract the smell. So now my house smells like it has both hippies and cats in it. (Yes I am aware that one is supposed to regularly remove the poops, thank you. The cat is very productive, is all.)

• Does kibble go bad? I ran out of the dry food that she came to me with and have been feeding her from a big bag left over from the Zuby era. She's been eating it up fine.
prog: (Default)
Over Xmas I told Ricky that I sometimes blog things that he says, and he likes this. Just now, he asked specifically that I post this, recited to me over the phone:

Once a captain, once an officer. Once a recognizable conscience, always a captain.

This is bouncing around in his brain after he listened to an audiobook about naval officers. I really don't know what he means by it.

The phrase "recognizable conscience" has been a major point of obsession with him for a couple of years, and he's been struggling to define it verbally for others' benefit. He knows what it means but can never put it into words. When he tries he inevitably gets lost in a labyrinth of half-constructed metaphors, one fitted to the next. People who know this habit tell him that it's cool, he can try again later, and he'll say OK.

Dad update

Dec. 15th, 2006 11:26 pm
prog: (Default)
My dad is gonna be OK. While waiting to see the specialist again, he'd been put on a specific diet-n-exercise regimen, and his condition has improved. They say that he's in no danger of losing the leg now, and my parents have been cleared to go on vacation in Florida next month. They haven't been down south in years so they're very pleased with this.

I'll be taking care of Shadow while they're away. There was some weirdness with Ricky spontaneously wanting to take the cat up to Bangor instead, and he phoned me and asked if he could do that. I had to tell him repeatedly that it'd be a better thing to talk about it as a family during my Christmas visit. I think mom has since rewired him, though, to hear her tell it.
prog: (King of All Cosmos)
I found a large cache of CDs I apparently skipped over when I went all rip everything some time ago. I feel like ripping them now, and lo I do so.

Sadly, it's not hard to see why I overlooked this stuff in my first pass-through. I am listening to Mr. Bungle's Disco Volante album now and keep muttering "ugh this is bullshit" to myself, but soldier on regardless because of the undeniable nostalgic kick.

Did I actually like this a decade ago? I must have listened to at least the first half of the album many times, because I am singing (or anyway making noises) along in my head as it plays back now. It's got some moments, but they're literally just moments. It's just audio slapstick, and not really enlightening.

Man, those were lonely years.

(I like the first Mr. Bungle album from 1991 but Ricky's second wife's son ran off with it a long time ago and I only have a few tracks from iTunes now. Baw.)

(Ha ha ha I wonder how many people I just confused by that statement. Apparently my writing about Ricky carries an implication that he's younger than me, to some people. Not so.)

Is there a way to quickly get back to the Now Playing screen when navigating around iPod menus? It goes back by itself if you leave it untouched for several seconds, but too many's the time I'm bopping around in the menus and happenstance demands that I adjust the volume ASAP.
prog: (Default)
I succeeded in fetching Ricky's parcel this morning. It's corduroy pants. Are these allowed? I don't think I've worn corduroy pants since 1984.

Now that I look again I see they're a couple of inches too short on the inseam so I guess I can beg off for that reason. I shall pass em along and make someone less picky happy, I think.

I love getting stuff from him anyway, even if I don't always keep it. Reading my "ricky" tag, I see I still owe him that PKD book. Whoops, gotta get on that.
prog: (Default)
"I'm gonna stay here, and stay square. And hope for a new rectangle."

Joking reference to his refrigerator, which has a faulty seal and which he hopes his landlord will replace or at least repair. He called last night to talk about mom n dad and also read me the postcard he wrote to the landlord to describe the problem. No part of it sounded off-kilter, and I told him as much. This pleases me but it is not astonishing; he has always met with much more success ordering his thoughts in writing than in speech.

His friend Jim doesn't like his new zombie-meds so he started drinkin again, and Ricky is disappointed with him. Also his dopey buddy Russell's been hanging out in his apartment too much, and he confesses to me that sometimes he makes excuses to keep him from coming over. This strikes me primarily coz mom's often made the very same confession to me about Ricky visiting them. Doh.


Sep. 12th, 2006 12:07 am
prog: (PKD)
It came to him, for reasons nobody is quite sure of, to invest in a tombstone for himself. I mean, an actual hunk of polished granite. I didn't think to ask if he's had it inscribed yet. At any rate, this decision was met with some controversy but what's done was done and Peter helped drive it to our parents' house, where it now rests in a wheelbarrow in the basement. Nobody wants to talk about it but Ricky is pleased that he pulled it off.

He's moved past being actually frightened about what he calls "the door incident" (mafia device and all of that) and is now feeling concerned about how frightened he was - the right direction, as far as I'm concerned. He feels he really tweaked his VA social worker when describing the incident to her. "She gave me a look like, you know, from the back of the choir. I mean: freaky." Ricky wonders if he should schedule an appointment with a psych[iatr|olog]ist he's worked with before. It would mean spending money, is the thing, even with Medicare.

His friend Jim is on some kind of new heavy-duty meds that makes him a zombie, and Ricky's bummed out about that. This isn't the goofball friend who thought that the smelly liquid might be ebola; that's Russell. Russell's doing fine.

"You sound good," I said to him. "Yeah, I sound good," said he. I told him I'd mail him Clans of the Alphane Moon. I think he'll enjoy it. I may warn him ahead of time that it's got (as [ profile] doctor_atomic put it) some rather archaic notions of mental disorders in it, as these things often rub him the wrong way... but he's read enough PKD by now that he probably wouldn't mind much.


Aug. 27th, 2006 01:14 pm
prog: (tiles)
Reminder that Ricky is very highly dependent on his drugs: he messed up his dosage schedule recently, and immediately concluded that one of his neighbors used "a Mafia device" to squirt a foul-smelling liquid under his door. He was worried that it was Anthrax, but when it didn't immediately kill him his buddy suggested that it could be a slow-onset kind of Ebola. This freaked Ricky out and he tried to tell various authorities, non-authorities, and people he met randomly on the street about it, with predicable results.

He told me all this on the phone the other day. I told him that this was all just a lot of paranoid thinking, wasn't it? and he said yeah, yeah, you're right it is, OK.

I should get into the habit of calling him regularly, I suppose. Maybe once a week, make sure he's staying on the line.

June 2014

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