Category Archives: My own little world

Oh. My. God. They elected HIM?

I live in my own little world

When I got 100% of my data back from the simultaneous hard drive crashes, I resolved to spend at least 30 minutes each day going through my million-plus pictures and videos and actually cataloging them.

I’m probably about 5% through the task. Right now I’m simply deciding which to purge.

I’ve never discarded images before because, as my wise old grandmother used to say, “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”

(I never bugged her about ending her sentences with prepositions….”

If I have five pictures, though, all virtually identical, I’ll choose the best one and chunk the other four.

I’m also looking for pictures that I can use as comment pictures, mostly on Facebook.

Comment pictures are always much more fun that typing text.

Following is a picture I found a few minutes ago. The facial expression is great but the picture was on the cusp of being a throwaway, which is why I created the ellipse to put the Wolf’s Guenon in. Adjusted shadows, highlights, blacks, contrast, and sharpness, and got something worthwhile.

Oh. My. God. They elected HIM?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Nazi America—I’m not all in

I live in my own little world

On April 15, 1993, I left College Station TX in the dead of night in a souped-up-lowered-blacked-out-windows-Flowmaster-exhaust 1989 Mustang GT. In the car with me was $5,000 cash and 100 CDs. I was headed to Canada to go to sleep, permanently. At the age of 38, I had lost any incentive to try to reconcile gay Russel with my Mormon (mom) and Catholic (dad) upbringing, not to mention the extremely conservative friends I had made during my four years at Texas A&M University.

It only took two days to get to Canada, but suddenly I was having fun. Not a care in the world and over $4,800 left to spend anyway, anyhow, anywhere.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I was having so much fun that I wound up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Spend 2½ days there having fun with openly gay people, two of whom were from Houston, had moved to San Diego in 1988 in order to do the same thing I couldn’t do, and were in Vancouver celebrating their fifth anniversary. They convinced me to give a chance to any big city on the West Coast. San Diego was my last stop, but here I am.

I managed to find the “Coming Out Support Group” and “The Center for Social Services.” That was a code name for “The Center for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Services.” In 1993 still, the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender were forbidden words, so much so that the phone company would not provide phone services to any company with those words in the name.

My office managers at my two businesses in College Station, and a long-time friend from Houston, sold my Texas assets, allowing me to consider myself retired at the age of 38. On to more important things.

I spent my days at San Diego’s gay beach (Blacks Beach), slept and ate in San Diego’s gay neighborhood (Hillcrest), and spent the rest of my time at The Center reading anything and everything about being gay in the United States in the 1990s. Being gay in San Diego at that time wasn’t easy but it was a lot easier than in Texas.

I remember one night I had partied at a gay bar in Hillcrest, believing that it was quite safe to be gay there. Sadly, it wasn’t. Seven rednecks had piled into a truck and driven to Hillcrest from East San Diego County specifically “to beat up some fags.” They chose a male couple who were walking home, hand in hand, from the same bar I had been at. I always thought that it could have been me because I was alone.

Although they were caught, I no longer felt safe. It took me several years before I would feel safe again. Society seemed to be making progress.

I came out to everyone, family and friends. Very few of my Mormon and Catholic relatives were accepting—der. The most accepting was my wise old grandmother, the same one who had adopted one of Utah’s greatest juvenile delinquents and gave him eight years of her life when she didn’t have to. My favorite aunt and uncle were absolutely despicable in voicing their hatred in letters to me.

Interestingly, my friends were much more accepting than my family. My new San Diego friends still were having difficulty believing that I was gay because I liked sports, had a Virago 1100 motorcyle, had a customized Mustang GT…. I seemed to be everything except the gay stereotype.

On the other hand, my Texas friends were like, “Uh, you didn’t know? We knew. You were always the most effeminate of our friends…. We didn’t care but we’re glad you’re still alive.”

I spent 11 months working on sexual orientation issues to the exclusion of everything else. In March 1994, I re-entered the work force through a temp agency. My intent was to work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday while continuing to work on sexual orientation issues the other four days.

The temp agency sent me to a company working as consultants in the cell phone industry, an industry that was booming in the mid-1990s. Somehow I wound up as a consultant working in Detroit, flying home to San Diego once a month. It was my first trip home, on May 26, 1994, that I met my soon-to-be lifelong partner, Jim, at the Coming Out Support Group.

We moved in together in 1995, commingling our lives in every respect—money, music, sports, life…. Well, I still don’t like the Lakers (Go Celtics!) or Dodgers (Go A’s!)….

We got domestic partnered (such an ugly term for love) when that became legal in 2003, and got married (gay married!) in 2008 when that was legal for a short six months. When the California Supreme Court ruled that our marriage would remain legal, we celebrated in Hillcrest. Then in 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality would be the law of the land. We celebrated again, in Hillcrest.

Society had come a long way. Little did we know that the hatred was still there. After the presidential election on November 8, I’m back to no longer feeling safe. I’m much older, can’t run anymore, and probably still look too effeminate for some people.

When Jim and I went out to eat Friday night for our Thanksgiving meal, I saw this little corner coffee shop:

Meshuggah Shack

Meshuggah Shack

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That’s the Meshuggah Shack in San Diego’s Mission Hills neighborhood. It was too dark on Friday to take a picture so I got up with the sun on Saturday and headed over there. After taking my pictures, and noticing that many people were watching me, perhaps thinking that I was a red-person-domestic terrorist, I walked up to the counter. A guy and gal both asked if they could help me. I said that I didn’t want anything other than to thank them for putting up the welcome signs. Then I put $20 into their tip jar and walked back to my car. I was crying, but I felt so good.

I keep thinking of a dystopian future where every commercial enterprise has to put signs on their businesses telling the public which people they will serve and which they will not. Those signs make it easy for hateful people to target specific businesses. Stephen King, are you reading me here?

While I currently work from home, much of the clientele for my business enterprises live in other states. Red states. And I know from internet message boards that they are only too happy to espouse the hatred and violence for others that our president-elect did so well. In order to make my business enterprises work, I need to meet people on a personal level. I am afraid to do that because I don’t want to visit those red states and those red people.

I really don’t know what to do. I’m trying to hang on, but as the number of hate crimes spikes in all states, it’s becoming more and more difficult to enjoy life, and I’m not 100% sure that I want to go back in time and live in a hateful society again.

If this is our president-elect’s idea of making America great again, I’m not all in.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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These are a few of my favorite signs

I livew in my own little world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

These are a few of my favorite signs (sung to “These are a few of my favorite things”). These are actual signs I have come across on my photographic expeditions throughout San Diego County:

Remote controlled locomotives

Imagine seeing a 100-ton diesel locomotive coming at you with no engineer.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Caution: Watch for pedestrians crossing sidewalk

I would be extremely cautious if I saw someone
crossing the sidewalk instead of walking on the sidewalk!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bee swarm: Please avoid this area

With such a beautiful sign,
I’m thinking this is not the first time they have had a bee swarm in that area.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Do not do anything!

Ooopsie.
Well, at least I wasn’t smoking,
drinking alcohol out of glass bottles, and burning pallets.
Burning pallets? Who does that?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Still a virgin? Call now!Just doing my civic duty to get people the help they need.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Clothing optionalHey, it didn’t say I couldn’t take pictures!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Deadly force is authorizedAnd THAT’s why they have a fence!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In case of earthquake, run for cover before facebooking about itAt least we can tweet about it!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Best real estate disclosure everBest real estate disclosure ever.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fight organized crime, don't re-elect anyoneBest. Advice. Ever.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yield to horsesYou’re not in the city anymore.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Beware of dogLest the dog take a bite out of crime.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grow dammitDoes this work for asphalt, too?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Surf naked, it adds color to your cheeks‘Nough said

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Judgment dayMissed again

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Someone is going to be dancing aloneSomeone is going to be dancing alone.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wine a bit. You'll feel better.But my wise old grandmother always told me,
“Don’t wine!”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

It changed my life

I livew in my own little world

In 1979, at the age of 24, I discovered that my juvenile record in the State of Utah was long, very long.

My juvenile problems resulted in the State, in 1965, removing me from the care of my mom and stepdad, and placing me in the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden. It was at “The Dee” where I met Barbara Hunt, an 18-year-old woman, also a resident, from Bakersfield, California. She befriended me and helped me write a letter to my paternal grandmother in Kingsville, Texas. A month later, my grandmother arrived at The Dee to tell me that she was going to adopt me and take me back to Kingsville. All she needed was my approval. Although it took more than just my approval, by Christmas 1965 I was living with my wise old grandmother.

As we walked in the front door of her home in Kingsville, I noticed a huge picture hanging over the sofa. Elements of the picture included the corner of a house, an elderly couple sitting on lawn chairs under an old oak tree, a dog at their feet, and flowers blooming in the gardens. That picture has stayed with me although it took me many years to figure out why. I now know that it showed what I wanted—a love of life, a love of flora, a love of fauna. When my grandmother died in 2003, my oldest uncle asked me if I wanted the picture. I did. Sadly, he never sent it to me.

A few years ago, during my career as a home inspector, the house I was inspecting reminded me of my grandmother’s picture. My camera captured it:

House & chairs

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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My favorite novels from 55+ years of reading

I livew in my own little world

The first school I attended was Lake View Elementary School in Brigham City, Utah (picture below, ca. 2011, from Google Street View).

Lake View Elementary School, Brigham City UT

The school library was separated into grade sections. I had read the complete Grade 1 section by Christmas of my first year and had to get the Principal’s approval to start reading the Grade 2 section. By the end of Grade 3, I had read the complete collection in the school library, except for the encyclopedias and atlases.

San Diego TrolleyPart of my reading success was my reading speed. The other part was my willingness to read anywhere, and that I still do. I have reading material with me whenever and wherever I go. Waiting on car maintenance at the shop? I read. Standing in line at the post office or grocery store? I read. Sitting in the doctor or dentist’s office? I read. Riding the Trolley? I read.

Time and Again by Jack FinneyCurrently, I am reading Time and Again, a 1970 work by Jack Finney about time travel. Being quite an interesting book with an interesting premise and plot, it is a good read, but my senior English teacher in high school would be appalled by his love of the dangling participle. (Oh, how I had fun writing that sentence….)

I chose it because of Stephen King’s recommendation on the last page of his book, 11/22/63, which now ranks as my favorite Stephen King book of all time.

At the request of an unknown person from a craiglist advertisement, here is a list of my favorite novels, books that I specifically remember from my life of reading, in alphabetical order:

  • 11/22/63 by Stephen KingAny book by Stephen King (or Richard Bachman). Stephen King has never failed to immerse me in his writing, to take me to other places, to make me think about the known and unknown, to wonder. The books that particularly stand out for me are 11/22/63, The Dark Tower series, The Stand, and Under the Dome.
  • The Box-Car Children by Gertrude C. Warner. When I read this at the age of 9, I already had it in my mind that my mom and stepdad didn’t love me. I could identify with these orphans.
  • Charlotte's Web by E. B. WhiteCharlotte’s Web by E. B. White. This book taught me an appreciation  for all life, regardless of how small (and some might say, “icky”) it might be. As my wise old grandmother told me when I was reading this book: “All life has a right to live.” To this day, when I find a spider visiting me inside, I capture it in a cup and simply move it outside so it can go on living, perhaps even becoming part of the food chain for life that is bigger than it.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. This is the only book that I have read multiple times—1973 as a high school senior, 1984 (to see how close Orwell came), and in 2013 after watching “The Hunger Games.”
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I wanted my own secret garden, a place where I could go to get away from the bullies at school and parents who did not love me. This book was the start of my lifelong interest in gardening, an interest that continued to develop under the tutelage of my wise old grandmother after she adopted me.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I did not read this book until 1995 after I had left Texas and moved to California. I was in the process of changing my life, and this book helped me change my perspective and understanding of the many different people around me.

As an aside, I do believe I’m back!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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It’s upside down. So what?

I livew in my own little world

One of my goals for delivering people for Uber and delivering packages for Amazon is to discover the nooks and crannies of San Diego County, the places where I have not been and probably would not go under normal circumstances.

With Amazon’s Prime Now service, I get to go to restaurants and stores that I definitely would not have gone to because I’m so stuck in my rut of a routine.

Yesterday, I had some pickups at Northgate, a Hispanic food market.

As soon as I walked in the door, there they were, two of them calling my name, begging me to take at least one of them home.

But I was working, on a time-sensitive delivery, and the register lines were long long long.

I couldn’t take time out to buy one.

Well, this morning, I went back to Northgate.

There they were, about forty of them, each wanting to go home with me.

Well, one did:

Pineapple downside up cake

Trust me when I say it doesn’t look like that anymore.

25% of it is gone. Poof! Like magic! Gone, gone, gone….

….and good, good, good.

As they might say at Northgate, “Bueno! Bueno! Muy bueno!”

I’m not a big fan of cakes, for the most part, me being a pie person. But I do love my pineapple downside up cakes.

My question, though, is, Why does a Hispanic food store have forty pineapple upside down cakes while regular grocery stores like Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs, Kroger, Food4Less, etc., have nary a one? Does Northgate buy them all before the other stores wake up? Do Hispanics really eat pineapple upside down cakes like that? Hmmm. Maybe I have some Hispanicity in my background that I’m not aware of….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Obviously named after me

I livew in my own little world

Back ca. 1993, I was sitting in Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans, during Mardi Gras, with my brother, sister, and mother. I had not seen my mom in 25 years at that time. As we were drinking Hurricanes, my mom said to me, “Russel, I have to tell you something.” Ears around the table perked up because it sounded serious.

“What?” I asked.

“I misspelled your name on the birth certificate,” she said.

“Huh?”

“It was supposed to have two L’s.”

I was 38 at the time.

I had never met another Russel using only one L.

Met a lot of people named Russell, though.

Well, yesterday, one of my Uber riders was going to an address on Russell Road.

Wrong!

He was going to Russel Road!

Proof:

Russel Road

Obviously named after me, yes?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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