Disorderly Content


My Former Car - The Saga Continues...

And the plot is about as interesting as that other saga. But I digress...

After a week of no news from my insurance company regarding that collision that turned my Camry Hybrid into a rather unattractive lawn ornament, I finally had the call I was expecting. As I was led to believe, it's a stiff. So they're ready to pay me for it, and I get to buy something new or at least new-ish.

But of course there's paperwork to be sent in. Including the Certificate of Title, which I can't find. I knew exactly where I put it, but it's not there. Plenty of other paperwork but not the one thing standing between me and a new car. Including the purchase agreement and the brochure and even the paperwork for my previous vehicle, which goes back all the way to 1997. But Title I have none.

So after wading my way through tax forms and verifying it's gone, I get online to find out how to request a duplicate Title. And while I'm filling out forms I notice the option for something called a Paperless Title. And eventually a light dawns.

You see, California doesn't issue a Title until the lienholder is done, um, holding the lien. That should have happened four years ago but for some reason didn't; my credit union still shows up on my registration. So the reason I couldn't find the Title is because I never got it. Guess my memory of that colorful bit of paper was from my 1997 car, not the one from 2007. Which, if I'm right, means a quick trip to the credit union after the holiday to get them to straighten out my ownership so I can be an owner of said lawn ornament no more. And if I'm wrong, at least I can feel a little less senile about losing what I never had.


This is How Wars Get Started

This weekend I was in Reno for the Great Reno Balloon Race, a hot air balloon event I have enjoyed a few times before. This morning I had a rather disconcerting incident, which is why I'm blogging for the first time in a long time. No way I can describe what happened in a tweet.

Each day at the Balloon Race begins at 5 AM. That means arriving at the park and getting onto the field well in advance. This morning I was in place at 4:05 AM, with my tripod set up and my camera ready to go. Trust me when I say that I was pretty much alone at that hour. There was hardly anyone in sight yet.

The first event is called the glow show, where a few tethered balloons perform a light show to musical accompaniment. That's followed by the Dawn Patrol, a handful of balloons whose pilots are certified for night takeoffs. By this point the field was moderately populated, but not all that crowded. While the Dawn Patrol was doing their light show before taking off, I turn from another photographer with whom I am chatting to see a rather tall gentleman standing directly in front of my camera. And by directly in front I mean that; there was maybe a foot and change between him and the front of my lens.

I wait for him to move, or realize he's blocking me. When that doesn't work, I speak to him. And when that doesn't work I touch his arm and point out that he's in the way. That's when he tells me that he knows he's in the way. He intends to be in the way. He starts haranging me because I'm in the way of his children, who are lying on a blanket twenty or so feet behind me. We photographers with our tripods are keeping his kids from seeing the show.

Now let's ignore for a moment the reality that lying on the ground, you aren't going to get a good view of tethered balloons. Besides photographers, quite a few other people are also standing to get a good view. My first comment is that if he'd told me of the problem, I'd have been willing to move. He tells me that he can't be expected to tell ten photographers to move. I very quickly realize that he has no interest in solving the problem. No, he's pissed, and all he wants is to piss somebody else off.

(I will point out that it wasn't until later that I got his reference to ten photographers. He wasn't complaining about me personally, but me as one of the group of photographers. So why did he single me out? My guess is that I'm quite a bit shorter than the other photographers and therefore easier to intimidate and less able to tell him to fuck off without personal risk. So he's a bully and a coward, rather than merely an obnoxious asshole.)

Talking to him got me nowhere, and neither did my pointing out that I was already in place before he and his sleepy family arrived. His response to that: "Whoopdido for you." Classy and rational.

And of course now I'm pissed off. And grateful I don't carry a weapon, because in that moment I would happily have gone nuclear on his ass. Not proud of that, but I'm not proud of having to take his abuse either.


Losing a friend

Today I got a call from a representative of the Glendale, California Police Department. They found my cell number in the phone of my friend Kevin Kenney and wanted to know if I could point them at any of Kevin's family. It seems that he had died.

I first met Kevin at RIT in 1973 or 4. We proto-nerds in the Computer Science Department had begun to organize, and Kevin, though a Chemistry major, became one of us. We were nerds before nerds became cool, and if it been left to us, it never would have become cool. But I digress.

I lost track of Kevin after college. We ran into each other again in the early 80s at a printing convention in Long Beach, where RIT had a presence and decided to hold an alumni event. Our friendship really grew there, and for the next several years we did a lot of nerdly and not nerdly things together. Kevin had worked for a company that designed toys and videogames, which got us entry into the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas years before it was opened up to the general public. We played tennis - badly - three or four times a week.

A few years later I moved from The Valley to Silicon Valley. We kept in touch online and by phone. He introduced me to Farscape, and was responsible for my attending years and years of Farscape conventions over the years. He was the cause of many of my interests and obsessions, and, I dare say, I did the same in return. Neither of us was ever going to be one of the popular crowd. I think he was more okay with that than I.

We got more distant over the last couple of years. That was my fault, although I'd like to think that I forced him to confront some bad life decisions he'd been avoiding for a while. Whether or not I deserve any credit, he did get back on track and was doing much better. I don't know how he died; I suspect his health did him in but will wonder. But I mourn him; he was a good, kind and generous soul. He deserved better in life than he got. I hope I gave more to him than I received. It couldn't have been enough.

Kevin P. Kenney
1955 - 2010
Requiescat in Pace

Update 09/05: One of Kevin's remaining friends tracked me down yesterday via Google to give me the news. We talked about Kevin, and she filled me in on his last days. When I'd last spoken to him, he seemed to be making small progress on getting his life back on track. Sadly, it didn't last; his life became the particular kind of hell you can't imagine for anyone you know and respect. I'm angry that I didn't know, angry at him and at myself for not keeping an eye on someone so obviously troubled. But what would I have done? What could I have done? Am I my brother's keeper, especially when his real brothers weren't up to the task? Or was any help we might have offered too little to make a real difference? I'll be asking myself that for a long time to come.