Thursday, June 29, 2017

When in Danger ...

“not guilty of anything”

Last summer Philando Castille, a young black man, was shot and killed by a police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, in late evening, around nine o’clock, for a traffic stop … a broken taillight. Seven Bullets. A woman in the car live-streamed video immediately after the shooting … in it one can see the arms of the police officer, his hands, his gun.

Predictably, the killing sparked a public protest and public outcry; Black Lives Matter entered the fray.

Unpredictably, the District Attorney, after a lengthy – and presumed thorough – review of the case elected to press charges. Manslaughter. And two lesser charges.

The trial began recently; it ended with a ‘not guilty of anything’ verdict. I was conflicted in ways I didn’t know I could be. The TV news would present a portrait of Jeronimo Yanez and my heart would go to him. Manslaughter. Lock him up for some time? No … please … he’s a cop. He has a family. Just as suddenly I would think of Philando Castile, his girlfriend, the way he died. My heart went there.

No matter what else I might have thought of this, I for sure figured it was a tragedy of immense proportion.

A young black male died. He had a handgun, which he told the cop about, in his pants pocket. His girlfriend and her daughter were in the car and witnessed the shooting and dying. Among the things I wondered about: Will the girlfriend and daughter ever erase those images? If Philando was planning to harm Jeronimo with his gun, why did he tell him he had it? If the threat were so real and imminent, why did Jeronimo’s partner, observing from the opposite side of the car, jump back in such surprise when Jeronimo started shooting? Was this as reckless as it seemed? Should Jeronimo Yanez just walk away?

Let me be clear: when cops are in danger I don’t want them to be considering who will be second-guessing them or if they’re going to face charges. Their jobs are hard; I get that. Worrying about penalties when in danger makes both their job even harder and the danger worse. But still …

Here are my take-aways about this case: while Jeronimo believed he was in danger, that danger was not obvious to others ( specifically, those who saw the dash-cam video and his partner, who, I remind you, was looking into the car from the passenger side ); cops, by training, respond to danger by shooting the threat, the source of the danger; I don’t believe a white person in that car would have died as Philando Castile did. That is the ultimate tragedy here.

A column in the editorial section of our local newspaper spoke about “manning up” and accepting the jury’s verdict; it was the result of the justice system we have and we all should choose to live with it, whatever its tragic nature, for the sake of our society. A friend of mine, discussing the case, said essentially the same thing to me. And a case can be made for that view. However, I believe that, were “we” to have held that view when the society reacted against activists protesting segregation and ‘whites only’ facilities in the South, we would still have segregation and ‘whites only’ facilities in the South. I, for one, am very glad that has changed. Tragedies such as the Philando Castile killing do not have to occur and our society, I believe, must find a way to minimize them. “Not guilty of anything,” doesn’t even start to get us there.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

New Plan Progress #4

Things are going well.

Today, I claim victory.  On my last update I was 20 pounds over my then current guess at my ideal weight.  I've lost 10 pounds since then, and am now 20 pounds over what the more generally accepted charts say.  And the truth is, it doesn't matter.  I have some amount of weight left to lose, and I will for personal reasons.  But at this time, no one would describe me as overweight.  Today I'm done losing weight for professional reasons.

I've stopped carefully tracking my spending.  I know I could do better if I did.  I am doing very well though, and will be paying off one of my credit cards completely next month.  I continue exceeding my goal of $500 a month.

I think I'm doing fairly well at speaking clearly when talking to customers at work.  When talking to friends, I lose focus.  The point is to be able to speak clearly at work, and in a job interview, so I'd say I'm doing well.

I'm going to add grooming to this list, as I'm going to be taking Food off, having conquered it.  I'd like to learn to shave better, for starters.  I'm sure there's more I should be working on.  More to follow.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Convergence 2017 #2

Plans have gone awry.

Since my last post, it occurred to me that the compression shirt I got was so detailed, and so well made, it would be half a costume on it's own.  That is, if the costume didn't require any headgear or weird props; green lantern, for example.  Then it hit me.  Nightwing.

There is a Nightwing television show in the works, and a fan panel at the convention.  Plus, he's known for being the hot one.  A Nightwing compression shirt, plus a black body suit, would be all I need for a Nightwing costume from the neck down.  Then I'll just need the mask.  So I bought what I needed online.

The first disappointment was the Venom costume.  I bought an extra large, and I'd need to be about a foot shorter to fit.  It's not even close.  Asian sizing, I guess.  Venom is out this year.

Then the Nightwing shirt arrived.  It wasn't a compression one like the previous one I purchased.  Plus this extra large was at least two sizes too big.  But all is not lost.  I plan to cut the emblem off of it, and attach it directly to the body suit.  And the body suit is off amazon.  If that's not right, it can be swiftly swapped out.

As for the mask, I'm making it out of acrylic paint and liquid latex.  It should be pretty cool, and fun.  I have everything I need.   I'll post pictures when I'm done.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Whom do you Believe?

“The President is not a liar.”

It is easy, and entirely appropriate, to paint President Trump as the less believable party in the Trump/Comey dispute. ( And he himself is fond of pointing this out: “They’re out to get us … “ ). That may be possible … but I think it is because of his habitual lying.

I saw candidate Trump mock a disabled journalist. I saw him deny doing it.

I heard him
say – or perhaps only read that he said, “I fired him for his handling of Clinton’s emails.” Later, “I fired him because of Russia.” Still later, “He’s a nut case.”

To this I wonder, “If he is such a nut case, why didn’t President Trump let him go ( much ) earlier?”

( And this doesn’t touch the contradictions between his stories about this and the stories of his surrogates, who said, about Comey’s firing, “He followed through on the advice of Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein,” while he himself said, “I was going to do it regardless.” )

After the media reported that President Trump had divulged secret information to Russia, I heard, or maybe only read, President Trump’s spokespeople deny that he had done so. I heard President Trump admit, “I divulged classified stuff, but it’s OK. I’m the President.”

I heard President Trump tell John Dickerson, “The FBI is in disarray, a total mess. Everyone knows it.” I heard an FBI spokesperson, to set the record straight, tell a Senate committee that the FBI is not in disarray and it had faith in Comey.

Paul Ryan offered excuses for President Trump’s asking Comey to back off the Russian investigation. I’m thinking, “He must not have gotten the memo claiming that President Trump didn’t do that.”

I heard a female presidential spokesperson not named KellyAnne Conway declare to members of the media, “The President is not a liar.”

OK, then, “Why would she have to say that? Was it the same reason Nixon said, ‘I am not a crook’?”

President Trump tweeted that Comey had better hope there were no tapes of our conversations. When each was subsequently asked about this:

Comey: “I hope there were. Yes. Please!”
President Trump: “I’ll answer that question sometime in the future.”
( “Right after he  divulges his tax returns?” )

The abuser who engages in Gaslighting Abuse engages in “… a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity.” This happened to me, a bit, as I wrote this.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Costume Contacts

I've learned that changing the color of your eyes has surprisingly low impact to your appearance.  This is because people mostly don't actively notice the color of your eyes.  I mean, it may be in the back of their head, especially if you're a model or something.  I've gone from brown to black, and brown to gold, with no one noticing.

But what about a costume?  I'd say making your normally colored eyes another normal color is worth about 1% of the total costume.  Not worth it even a little.  Now if your trying to look like someone with bright red eyes, or mirrored, that's different.  There are also sclera that cover all visible parts of your eyes.  These types of change are very necessary.

But there is another type of change that is very necessary.  Some characters don't wear glasses.  In fact, most don't.  Venom, for example.  Last year at Convergence my new costume was Benny from Fallout; New Vegas, and I wore it with my glasses.

The problem is I don't have a prescription for contacts.  The reason is, I don't need one.  I think I look better in glasses.  And even if I wanted them, there's no need for a special prescription for them.  Corrective lenses need to be less specific as they get nearer to your eyes.  The prescription of your glasses is more than plenty unless you have a weird curve to your eyes, which I don't, and that does not change.

The United States Daycare Service disagrees.  They classify contacts as drugs for some reason.  To be clear, if you get the wrong contacts, you say, "These feel uncomfortable, I think I will take them out."  But this is the world I live in.

Last year my plan was to give ten online contact sellers my regular glasses prescription, and hope one didn't notice.  This plan was so successful that I had to wear my glasses to Convergence last year.

This year, I did fifteen minutes of poking around the internet, and found a place that ships to the US, and doesn't ask to be sent a copy of your prescription.  This was a better plan.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Walter Emerges

“You’re a ‘Walter’.”

Thanks to both a conversation with and a post by my friend Benjamin, this story occurred to me.

I grew up as Wally Jost. Today, it kind of gives me the willies … truly … to say ‘Wally Jost.’ It reminds me now and reminded me then of ‘Wally Cox,’ also known as a milquetoast Mr Peepers from a sitcom of a long time ago. Or Wally Cleaver, the Beav’s big brother. Neither of these was the sort of person I wanted to be.

While I never did like the name ‘Wally,’ I didn’t like the alternatives, either. Walter sounded way too formal; who did I think I was, Walter Cronkite? Walt was OK but, along with my last name, seemed to get tangled up around my eye teeth when spoken. “Walt Jost
was too staccato. And if I wanted to be known as ‘Walt,’ I figured I had to introduce myself as Walt Jost. “Hi, I’m Wally Jost; call me Walt,” was lame. Or so it seemed to my sensitive teenage personage.

And so I lived as Wally for many years, through High School, College, Graduate School, and the first few years of working in my profession. Then I met the love of my life … we made beautiful music together
( figuratively speaking … as you know I’ve been taking voice lessons for about 15 years and have advanced only past raw beginner ). And she said to me, ‘You’re not a Wally.’

Tell me something I don’t know. I know that, but … “

“You’re a ‘Walter’,” she asserted, and assured me Walter was not too formal.

I tried it out; I liked it. I told people at work, my friends, “Please call me Walter. I never did like Wally and I’m doing something about it.”

At first there was a snicker or two, mostly swallowed ones. But it did not take very long; at age thirty-something I was “Walter Jost,” no longer “Wally Jost,” to mostly everyone.

As might be expected, or suspected, among the people I know, my family had both known me the longest as ‘Wally’ and was the hardest group of people to convert. My mother had a particularly difficult time … I frequently heard ‘Waltie’ come from between her lips when she was attempting to say my name. Eventually, however, even she used my preferred name … most of the time, at least.

According to, it is a strong name, “From a Germanic name meaning ‘ruler of the army’.” That is how I came to feel about it … a strong name, not a formal name. According to the same website, the popularity of the name peaked in the late eighteen hundreds and then waned, 

 becoming a rather unusual name today. That also suits me.

Now the most annoying thing that happens about this is when I’m in a large group. We’re milling around and one of the members looks at me and says, “Hi Walt. Thanks for coming.” ( Please note, “Wally” is not an option any more. )

I will, or might, say something polite, like, “Please … it’s ‘Walter.’ Nice to be here.”

And the response from the speaker, or perhaps another who’s witnessed the exchange, is, “Hey … it’s OK, but maybe you should be glad to be remembered at all.”

And, of course, that is correct. I am glad to be remembered … but I would still like to be remembered by my name, the one I strove so hard to own.

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Convergence 2017

Convergence is upon us again.  It's 5 weeks away.  Do I have my costume?  Sort of.

Last year I was thinking about getting a Prince Adam costume.  It looks good, and suits in general look good on heavier people.  Plus a major release of a new live action Beauty and the Beast was planned in the next year.  That makes it topical, but it also means you can expect some Belle's.

Then around January I went to buy one, and realized that Prince Adam would have a different outfit in the new movie.  Did it look better?  Even if it did, what if the movie sucked, or had some sort of controversy?  I held off.

Then, February first I started losing weight again.  So far I've lost 18 pounds in 18 weeks.  At this point I'm less than 25 pounds overweight, and can expect to lose another 5 before the convention.  My chest has also gotten a slightly better shape because of all the push ups.  So where does that leave me?

The charts say my ideal weight is 156.5 pounds, and my current weight is 179.  If I lose 5, that will make me 18 pounds overweight at the time of the convention.  Is that low enough to wear a lycra Venom suit?  Maybe.

But what if I can lose 10?  10 pounds in 5 weeks is doable, and not unhealthy.  And is my ideal weight 156.5 pounds?  My chest is 44.5 inches.  It looks to me like the average man has a 34.5 inch chest.  Maybe my ideal weight is a little higher.  If I got within 10 pounds of my ideal body weight, and hadn't gone with something a little more form fitting, I'd be kicking myself.

So I've decided to hedge.  I got the Venom costume, but it's the $30 one.  The $120 one would look more like Venom, and less like a guy in a lycra bodysuit, but I'd be thrilled to death to "just" look like a fit guy in a bodysuit.  I think there's a 50% chance I'll pull it off, and I can afford to put a $30 costume in a drawer if it doesn't work out.

In addition, I got some digital print superhero shirts.  They're cheap, and will look good at my current weight.  A few of them, and the Venom costume will cost about half of a Prince Adam costume.  Plus my previous year's costumes are looking great.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Technology Teaches Me

It’s been only a little over thirty years …

Tom sent me an overnight UPS package from the center of the state on Thursday before Memorial Day. It was important, of course, otherwise he wouldn’t have sent it overnight. The actual transaction with UPS was handled by his office assistant, Sherie ( names have been changed ). Tom sent me an email, ‘the package is ready, let us know when we can send it,’ I responded, ’we’re ready, send it,’ and Sherie sent an email, ‘the package is on its way, you should have it by 10:30 tomorrow.’

The next day came and went without the arrival of said package; I knew both Tom and Sherie were out of the office … I figured they were each getting a head start on Memorial Day weekend … so I didn’t contact them. As a courtesy, however, the next morning I sent each of them a note that the package had not arrived.

“Sherie will consider it Tuesday,” Tom wrote; “she’s at her uncle’s funeral. He died suddenly; young; sad; children.”  I sent her a brief condolences email.

A couple of things happened, then, on Tuesday morning … the doorbell rang, and UPS delivered the package, having taken five days ( including a 3-day holiday weekend ) to do so. I got an email from Sherie, ‘UPS said the address was not recognized … we have your correct address, don’t we?’


I retrieved the package, which was wrapped in clear plastic but had an address label pasted outside the wrap. There was my address, as clear as could be: 5843 E. Kelvin Pkwy ( not my real address ); I unpeeled the address label to see the address entered by Sherie before submitting for delivery: 5843 Kelvin Parkway East. To my eye, and I’m sure to yours, these addresses are substantially identical. But to a computer they apparently are substantially different.

Ellie and I had always preferred the ‘Kelvin Parkway East’ version of our address; we seem to be alone in this preference. … Items addressed to that form of the address were frequently delivered with the E. Kelvin Pkwy address on an address label mounted over the original. When we’d ordered something online and offered that version of the address, the website would provide the other form as an alternate and let us choose one. Entering 5843 Kelvin Parkway East in the search bar results in Mapquest’s taking you to 5843 E. Kelvin Pkwy.

It’s been only a little over thirty years that my wife and I have lived here, and, thanks to technology, it seems I’ve finally learned my address.
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