Summer School

Just because one is on summer break does not mean one can not continue educational growth.

During the summer we prepare for fall and Christmas gifts by going to pick fruit to make jam and preserves. We have created some awesome recipes over the years and all call for local fresh fruit. We started out the season by going to pick blueberries at the local farm up the street from April’s house. This time Jasmine comes with us. There are rules to the picking of berries: 1) You must wear boots 2) Never pick from a bush another person is currently picking 3) Bring cash.

We go to the far end of the field where the underbrush is thick with blue because people with small children would stay close to the parking area not wanting to drag them that far.  We heard various remnants of voices so we knew we were far enough away from society and set to work. Halfway through filling our buckets, Jasmine wanted to move to another row.

April tells her there are plenty of berries from this bush that we can collect.

“Well I’m am going to leave some for someone else to pick and move on to another bush.” To which April replied, “Well that’s socialism and I’m a pure capitalist and I’m going to pick all the berries on this one then burn it to the ground so no one else can have any.”

Jasmine was aghast and moved anyway. April and I stayed and stripped the bushes clean in our area.

On our way out to pay, we saw more berries so we stopped to eat a few. There are 40 varieties on this one farm so we really should try them all.

Jasmine laughs and says, “How do you like those socialist berries now?” to which April retorts, “I tell you what, you might need another lesson in government. I’m still a capitalist and I’m going to eat them. If I want to I can go over there and steal that man’s bucket and show you what a dictatorship is.”

Jasmine’s eyes are wide with laughter. “You wouldn’t.”

“Watch me.” April walks over to this random man and takes his bucket. He is so engrossed in his job he doesn’t even realise he is now dropping them to the ground.

Jasmine asks me what I think about that as I am shoving another handful of berries into my mouth.

“They didn’t weigh me on the way in. $2.50 per pound.”

We did go! Click to watch!

The Finish Line

My skin feels like the dying petals of a flower, soft yet turning brown and falling off.

It’s almost that time again. Finals. Everyone loves and stresses this week. Luckily for me finals week does not conjure up feelings of anxiety as it does so many other people especially veterans. I am one of the rare people that thrives on the stress. I have studied all semester and I feel I should do well.

However, the universe had decided to attack me yet once again. I went to see my doctor a lovely woman who works at the VA clinic near me. I have private insurance but this woman and her staff are wonderful. I have not had a great doctor since I left the Army and before that not since my daughter was born. Doc gave me some steroids to “reset” my body into understanding I no longer have poison ivy. She and her staff had inquired why i had waited so long to come in and let them help me. True to form, I told her I just felt some Benadryl and patience would help. Anyway, 30 minutes and a shot later and I left to go fill a prescription. Now the side effect: the medicine the doctor gave me, is shutting down functions in my body. Great joy. Just once can the universe try to kill me at a convienent time?

I am sitting in an urgent care centre in a very nice neighbourhood because I am not dumb. I live in a rather congested area of the city and I know if I travel ten minutes down the road, I can be seen at a clinic on the outskirts of the suburbs by a fresh non overworked doctor and staff. The staff is so very pleasant. I love feeling appreciated and the concern from the nurse and doctor makes me feel guilty as though I should have taken better care of myself.

The doctor explains that the adverse reaction from the steroid can not be undone but can be alleviated somewhat. How? Drink water. Lots of water.



Here we go again…

Who picks the people? Where is Kellyanne Conway when you need her?

So I have talked April into going to main campus with me on a day she doesn’t have to go just so I can see the new candidate for a faculty position. If hired he will be teaching undergrads public relations.

We get to the campus early enough for April to get us lost which means I am getting thirsty. Luckily there are a number of organisations with booths set up on the quad giving away water, snacks and trinkets. Most are Greeks. They have crappy snacks. I find one that has cold water and take a bottle. The girls in pink, the table was pink, even the umbrella was pink. One of the girls looked as if she wanted to say something about my taking a bottle but did not. Another girl just said a forced polite, “You’re welcome” to my thank you as I nodded, grabbed and kept it moving. Really little girl. Did you think I wanted to be a part of your all white cast? Did you think I would waste time doing your homework in hopes to one day call you sister? She might need glasses. I am sure my horns were long enough for her to see quite clearly.

We arrived at the student union just before the guest of honour and the class. April was surprised. Of course it takes very little to surprise her as she rarely leaves her hole in the English department.

The instructor introduces the guest lecturer. I know its going to be bad as I tend to judge a book by its cover by the rules of the period in which it was written. Mr. Holt is a frumpy, old man. He seems more like a grandfather one would take fishing or a baseball game, not one who could spin tales.

Mr. Holt is very soft spoken. One strike for him. I have been blown up too many times so I need everyone to use their big boy voice. This seems to be an off request these days. I attempted to explain that to a professor last semester and he thought my moving closer would help me understand the mumbling coming from him, never mind the fact that he preferred to hide his lacemaking it more difficult to read lips. I made him angry by staying in the back of the class, a way to see the entire room and keep track of whom may be speaking. He was furious. He actually encouraged the other students to shame me into moving. I pretended not to comprehend to feces flowing from their overly used orifices. I have no need or want of their approval. Besides, what was he going to do? Fail me? I’m doing the best in his class. I read and complete all his assignments. Ok, I’ll see you next semester and I will have perfected how to make you uncomfortable.

April leans into me. “Did this fool just say MySpace?”

“Woman, I am glad he stopped talking about paper resumes and LinkedIn.”

The freshman have already figured out that they can goad him into listening to their stories about nothing and he will try to relate it to the subject at hand.

“He is so easily manipulated.” I look at April. She is no more paying attention too me than she is to him looking as though she has eaten a full turkey dinner and requires a nap. “April. April!” I lightly tap her with my foot.

“Why did you bring me here again?”

“Because I never come to main campus. You live here. You know where everything is.”

“Rachel, you owe me lunch.”

“I know.”

Mr. Holt finishes speaking and releases the class. I am ready to run before we get stuck behind the looking glass.

“Woman, why don’t they ever offer us a job?”

“Rachel, you’re black.”




James 1:19

We don’t call it gossip. We call it prayer session.

Our good Southern Christian upbringing means that April and I are constantly updating each other about the comings and goings of family, friends, acquaintances and whomever. Of course, we do not do this public for that would be gauche. We do it only in the privacy of our own castles and the grounds therein.

Since the advent of the internet and subsequently social media, we are at it even more. Sharing the latest ugly baby pictures to commenting on issues, to tweeting about Huckabee’s lack of patience for Comcast, social media has made gossiping far more efficient.

Lately, since I’m in a Mass Comm program, we have expanded all our social media consumption to the Nth degree. We have more jokes and heated arguments about the things people post or the articles that are shared.

“April! Woman! These people are out of control! Did you see that hot disaster Shirley calls a dress?”

“Looking more like she’s bring potato sacks back.”

“Jesus, forgive me, but I’m going to have to pray that she gets her new glasses soon. She went from Channel to rotten Idaho in one day!”

“How does one think to reuse burlap as a house dress for her own after church Sunday BBQ? Did she think it was linen? Maybe she was going to reuse the table cloth for a shawl. Rachel! Check out Mike Huckabee’s Twitter. This fool thinks he’s being put out! Everyone knows when they say 8 -5 on Tuesday that really means 1-4 on Thursday.”

“Hold on, let me pull up this stinking pile of garbage. I’m going to tweet ‘Welcome to my world’ or something. This guy thinks he can get service! Man you are no better than the rest of us when it comes to the behemoth that is Comcast.”

As I look at the 700 plus responses to this guy, I wonder why he doesn’t make one of his people sit there. They have people go get them coffee and dry cleaning, lunch and other odd personal requests, what’s the difference?


“April did you see the Senator from Florida that called his colleagues niggers?”

“Woman, he did that and then has the nerve to say he didn’t say ‘nigger’ he said ‘niggas’ As if there’s a difference. No asshole, that’s plural.”

“Oh yeah, he’s street now. He just upped his cred.”

We howled with laughter.

April turns to refill my glass and says, “Remember when Loki was wearing a blue bandana for some reason and I told him to take that shit off because we’re a Blood family?”

I almost spit my wine back into the glass. “He had no idea what was happening! We are living in the land of green [Army life]! He just needed the handkerchief for the landscaping duty for church group. Then he asked how he was going to be able to work outside without one!”

“So I’m in class and we are discussing Pre-Raphaelites, and the class had a problem with portraying Jesus in an unholy manner. So I sad  ‘Yeah its either the baby Jesus or thirty year old Jesus. Where’s teenage Jesus?’ and some girl says ‘Yeah, I’d like to see teenage Jesus.’ To which I replied ‘You can’t making a painting with Jesus, ‘Shut up Mary.’ The whole class was aghast as if they never told their own mother to shut up during the teenage angst years.”

“Can you imagine?” We quickly bless each other and say a prayer for all the poor souls.

“April, look what this fool posted to Facebook! He has the nerve to post he got his CDL and blacked out his city and zip code horribly. This guy!”

“Like we can’t find him! Hold on, I’m going to Google map it. FOUND IT! I’m going to message him a screenshot of the google maps address of his house.” April sends our friend the picture.

“Knowing that his city is on his profile and is is always talking about his town in bum fuck Pennsylvania.” I tell April shaking my head.

“Like he is going to be allowed in The Titty Twister with no hassles anymore.”

Hasselblad Headache

Whitney Pimpler is a real model. Too bad I was the only one there taking advantage of this and not asking her to do K-mart poses.

I decide to go to a workshop held by Hasselblad and Broncolor down in The Heights. It’s rare that these two companies host anything in Houston and for FREE. So of course I signed up hoping to get my hands on one of the latest medium format cameras they produce.

So I am perfectly on time to the event. Not surprising, it’s already semi-full of “professionals,” old white men. The youngest people there are working the event. The image on the screen shows us what they will be showing first. Stop action with a glass of water while dropping a cube through a tube. Beastie Boys playing “Fight for your right to party” like any of these people look much like party goers, more like capitalists, less like artists. One old man, around 70, looks as though he packed his brownies and is not sharing. He’s smart I wouldn’t share with this crowd either. His long white hair matches his equally long beard. I should have brought my extra battery for my phone and my iPad. This is going to be boring for the first half I can feel it.

While everyone else handles the equipment, I secure a seat free from obstruction. I sit in the far right of the first row of chairs. I have a clear view of everything. I don’t have time to be annoyed by tall, fat people blocking my attempt to learn.

They tell everyone to have a seat and start the presentation. Oh dear God in Heaven, not a fracking Power Point! The guy is telling us about how Hasselblad is still involved with NASA, though I don’t think that’s true. Last I heard they hadn’t done anything with them since the sixties, but who cares. Erin, the thin, black man has worked with them for a while and is super excited though it is obvious he did not put the presentation together. He stumbles through, barely able to control the laptop, spewing the history of Hasselblad. Blah, blah, blah. Nothing you couldn’t get from their website.

Erin finally finishes and has the stage over to David, a smallish, young Asian man about 34. David is presenting all about Broncolor (a premiere lighting company) and is the typical used car salesman saying, “I love [insert product]” over and over speaking more as a salesman than a demonstrator. His jokes are painfully awful and awkward. I laugh because no one else does after the fourth dud, more to myself than anything. This guy obviously failed public speaking.

A man is sitting to my left, the seat between us is empty. He keeps getting upset about not getting swag because he can’t project his voice farther than his nose. Use your big boy voice! I think while he scoffs at the man who gets a coffee mug. David can’t get the lights to stop strobing. He keeps saying he’s a nerd but he seems more like the village idiot than a Broncolor specialist. I pretend to enjoy this fool dancing for the town but my face can not hide my disgust. Of course, I’m probably the only one in the room not drinking the Kool-Aid.

I find myself waning. Bored with his rambling on about stop action. 1/10000th of a second. Yeah, yeah, but I don’t do beer ads and even so it would be cheaper to buy a stock image. Finally he asks for a volunteer and I jump at the chance. More to keep myself awake than my interest in dropping a plastic cube into a tube. I do it four times. The first three times he doesn’t have the laser pointed correctly so the camera doesn’t fire. Of course he says I was bumping the table. HA! Dude, I can’t even get that close. This demo does not make me want to buy Broncolor. As a gift? Yes, I’d take it. I’ll stick to my Bowens which I’ve aptly named Bowie. Bowens makes a great product at a marketable price. This mess is far over priced.

Finally we break for lunch and I am able to leave to get a coffee and return in time for sandwiches and chips and the Phocus training. Phocus is Hasselblad’s alternative to Adobe’s Lightroom. I deem it “Lightroom Lite’’ as it is free and does almost everything Lightroom does. Don’t go getting rid of your Creative Cloud anytime soon. This is not going to replace it anymore than iMovie will replace FinalCut. The woman presenting the software and all its features is a good looking young black woman named Star. She is incredibly knowledgeable though most of the room can’t follow how to load a picture into the software. I feel bad for her having such a dumb crowd to present a software overview. It is painful for me to hear some of the dumb questions they ask. I was very interested in Phocus mobile then realised it won’t do any of the editing on the mobile app, just basic browsing and rating of your images or controlling the camera. Moving on…

After Star is finished, they bring back David and he goes over more lighting. Finally they bring out the models, two good looking kids. We are able to play with whatever. Of course, I forget that I’m wearing my father’s invisibility cloak and am trampled and shoved more than a little bit. I speak with Star and she assures me that they are not leaving any earlier than scheduled. I am pleased. I am patient. I can wait. Then when I get a camera, no one will let go of the lighting remote. So I decide to take out my camera and play while I wait and hold onto the Blad. Hey, I have my card inside it so wait guy. I manage to wrangle a remote from one of the old men only to have one of the presenters tell me he needs the camera. I follow him back to the table where the cameras and lenses are stationed. He proceeds to give out two other cameras. I am patient once again. After ten minutes I point out that my card is in this camera and ask if I could test it. He reluctantly gives me the camera. I hunt for another remote for the lights. Once I get it, the lights don’t fire. Then the shutter does not release. WHAT IN THE NAME OF MARY MOTHER OF GOD?! I wait for Star to finish helping someone. I still have my camera slung across me. I decide to snap some photos in the meantime. David does not like this. I speaks to me in the harshest of tones. “I don’t like the way you are cradling that camera. Can I have it please?” In that split second I say to him, “Boy, you do not know to whom you are speaking in such a manner. I can not only cradle this camera, shoot with my camera while carrying yet another, in a fire fight while slicing a mother fucker’s throat all without getting your nasty blood on me or my equipment. Take it. It doesn’t work anyway.”

David is shocked. He steps back. Yes, the old bird is a U.S. Army Veteran and has every right to be here just like the guy spilling water all over your precious 100mm. But he is a man. I guess that’s it.

Erin gives me a t-shirt. Yay. I tell Star it was a pleasure meeting her and her presentation was flawless.

I look at David. He scurries away like the rat bastard is has aspired to be. I smile, wink and leave.

Time to go to a real class.

Live at the Santuary!

In case you missed it watch me speak with some young gamers about college life on<a href="; style="padding:2px 0px 4px; display:block; width:345px; font-weight:normal; font-size:10px; text-decoration:underline;">Watch live video from D0min03ffect on</a>”>Twitch!

The Original Mad Man

Getting a kid that likes to constantly be on the move to sit for a few questions is daunting at best.

So Loki came home this weekend! He is getting stationed abroad so every chance we can see him it’s pretty much game on. He went straight into the Army after high school. This kid has been in almost all my films. What can I say he comes cheap, Burger King and a Coke. He always had an expressive face so he was perfect for acting. One would think that would get him into trouble in the military, but no. He controls his face better than a Vegas poker master. This kid is good. However, he tells the truth, so be careful what you ask him. He will not lie and can not grasp the concept of telling you a non truth. He will withhold information. Loki! Where are all the sodas? To which he would reply, “I haven’t seen them lately.”  So I thought it pertinent to ask him a couple questions while I had the chance.