The Serial Hobbiest

I am a serial hobbiest. I pick something up and learn what I can about it and that usually results in tools and equipment that just kind of litters up the place. Don’t get me wrong. I usually convert the skills I learn into something else. My most recent foray into a new hobby was Mead making. The wife loves the mead I make so I’ll keep doing it, but there isn’t much to it and if she didn’t like the mead or if she couldn’t drink it for some reason, I wouldn’t probably do it. I have been into music, I’ve been into sculpting, I’ve been into role playing games, etc into infinity and all the while I pick up skills or knowledge that comes in useful in other areas or hobbies.

With the mead hobby kind of slowing, I’ve picked up my next one. FPV Drone Building / Flying. I’ve been interested in Drones for a wile now because of another hobby…. Youtube. I have yearned for the sweeping camera angles that the likes of Casey Neistat get regularly. The issue is money and those things aren’t cheap. The alternative I’ve found is not really an alternative at all. FPV or first person view drones are used primarily for racing and “freestyle” which, while they do make beautiful videos, they’re usually much faster and less sweeping than one might think of drone footage to be.

In addition to learning how to fly the thing, I will also be learning to build them. There are several electrical components that, when put together, form the “stack” or the brain of the drone. I’ve learned quite a lot about flight controllers and power distribution and soldering techniques without actually having the equipment. I have also discovered that I will also need to get a Ham Radio Operator’s license to fly an FPV drone legally as they broadcast a signal in the certain band the FCC requires licensing for. DJI drones and the like use wifi so it’s a different animal. I will also need to be registered with the FAA and pass the FAA part 107 ground pilots test in order to make money from drone footage. It keeps getting better and better.

The future of the hobby aside, I’m still excited to get my controller and play around with a simulator first and then start the build. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Language still fails…. What is racism?

Addressing the failing of our understanding of our own majority language in America, English, is a difficult task. We speak it so we understand it, right? Language, all language, fails to encompass experience… that’s the one thing it was designed to do. Take the following:

Racism – The belief in the superiority of one race over another, which often results in discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity.

Alright, anyone who says “There’s only one race… the human race” is trying to convince themselves they’re not racist. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to convince yourself you’re not racist then you’re probably not. No one is born racist. It’s an ideology that spreads to those who are disenfranchised or feel they’ve been marginalized. It’s a favorite of those who feel like they should have power or authority based on a chance set of criteria culminating in their birth (i.e. privilege) but they don’t have that authority. It is doctrine and has to be passed to others. No one wakes up racist one day without a cause. But let’s figure this out.

Race – A race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society

“Viewed as distinct by society” is the problem in that definition. Race is not the color of your skin, it’s a social convention and should be given as much weight as it has which is precisely none. As a society, we give stock to certain ideas and then those ideas resonate and amplify until we’re separated. We are a people because we are in this neighborhood, this city, this state, this country. We need to choose to be different and be o.k. with that or choose to be the same and by doing that, we eliminate race.

Ethnicity – An ethnic group, or an ethnicity, is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, society, culture or nation.

Ethnicity can’t be eliminated as easily as race nor should it be. Ethnicity is a point of pride. I’m proud to be Scottish, Italian, English, and French. Those cultures sing to me through time and I enjoy learning about them and experiencing Italian food, Scottish traditions, English fortitude and French attitude. It’s not a color thing it’s a self association thing. People in the same patch of Earth, or having ancestors who did, identifying with one another and sharing a culture is beautiful and deserves to be preserved for posterity.

Bigotry – See prejudice – Prejudice is an affective feeling towards a person or group member based solely on that person’s group membership.

It is natural for a human being, being tribal in nature, to be bigoted towards those who are not like one’s self. The problem lies with the depths to which you let this natural proclivity control you. If you hate “the gays” because you’re not gay, then there is something wrong with YOU not them. It’s OK not to be gay. Why do you care if someone else is. It’s OK not to be black or Hispanic or an alien… why is it any of your business? If you’re not going to a drag-show review of Roots performed to tejana music, then you’re set and shouldn’t care. If you do care, if it really bothers you, you can always say to yourself, “Why do I care?” and through analyzing that, figure out what your issues are. They are YOUR issues. Bigotry is instinctual and we, as reasoning human beings with free will, can deny instinct for the betterment of our society… with one exception.

When we think of Bigotry, we think racism. When we say race, we usually mean ethnicity or at the very least, skin tone. If we can separate and correct our thinking about our language, maybe we can be better to one another. Maybe we can start to understand each other better and maybe, just maybe, we can stone to death the racists so we won’t have to have this conversation again.

Confession – If bigotry is hatred of a member of a group because of the membership in the group, I’m a biogot. I HATE racists regardless if they’re in a particular club of racists, a solo racist, a son or daughter of the confederacy, a clansman… regardless of the club affiliation, they’re in the “group” of racists. I have tried to get over this bigoted view point by analyzing why I dislike them so much and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s OK to hate racists. It’s the one exception to the “stop hating people who aren’t like you rule”. Acceptance and tolerance should only be extended to those who are generally accepting and / or tolerant. Being overly tolerant of another’s views, correct or not, can be damaging.

LGBTQ Rights Infringed Upon at Southwood Highschool

I am not one to jump on band wagons or rush to the aid of a cause…. usually. But let me tell you a story –

I have had friends an relatives die in drunk driving accidents and when I was a kid, I wanted to do something about it. I started the Student’s Against Drunk Driving groups at Southwood High School in Shreveport Louisiana. With the aid of Mr. White, the sophomore councilor and a few teachers, we held events, went on trips, raised awareness, and even got the media involved. We made a noise and made a difference. This was 1991 – 1993

Fast forward to now… 2018. I saw a Facebook post about my former high school and I get angry. Apparently, Mr Roberts, the principle at Southwood is not allowing a transgender student, Kami Pham, dress in women’s clothing in the yearbook photos or walk with her senior class as a young woman. A call went out, thank you MIchael, to have people write to Principle Roberts – jroberts@caddoschools.org – directly or to sign the petition at change.org

I did both – Below is the email I sent Mr. Roberts for what it’s worth.

Good morning Mr. Roberts,

My name is Palmer. I graduated from Southwood in 1993, founded a S.A.D.D. chapter there, and enjoyed my time there as a student. It was a shock when I heard this morning that your administration, and not to put too fine a point on it, you yourself were not affording a transgender student the same respect and right of expression I was allowed when I was a student there.
I understand completely your probable point of view; the “What If” scenarios that you might have been presented with or are imagining might be a bit extreme. I can also see the “slippery slope” argument of “if this / then that” that you might be forming but let me put it this way – This young lady, Kami Pham, was unfortunately born with a different sex organ than she should have been. She’s not asking to come to school dressed as an animal, nor is she concealing her identity, nor is she being provocative in any way.
I know the cost would be too great to reprint yearbooks, but for God’s sake, the sake of decency, the sake of the promises you made to yourself as an educator and the students you serve in that capacity, let this poor girl walk with her class mates in a manner she feels comfortable and let her make the memories we all have.
It goes beyond embarrassing photos of our youth. I am sure you as I regret a lot of photos from childhood like dated clothing, hairstyles, etc. easily dismissed. For a trans gender person later in life, a childhood photo of a transgender woman as a boy in her youth can be disheartening and a reminder that she was not allowed to be themselves once. Kami has a right to look back at her high school photos and a video of her graduation and see the young woman she was and remember how she was allowed to express herself.
Regardless of how I feel, how Kami feels, or even how you feel personally, protect your student and her future and allow her to be who she is, just for a little while, as she walks with her class.
Thank you

Welcome to my mead hall ye warriors!

I am plagued by passing fancies. I have always flitted from interest to interest and never really had what I would consider a hobby. I used to play roleplaying games but that takes more than me. I used to be in the SCA and learned a lot about medieval culture, sewing, archery, etc. but grew away from it. I don’t look at my artistic pursuits as much more than a way to kill time these days and I write so slowly, I don’t think any one of the three novels…. novellas…. short stories… whatever they are…. could be considered a hobby. I’ve tried a lot of different diversions and I throw a good deal of attention into them, learning about things associated with said diversion and even going so far as to achieve some low level of mastery of whatever it is I’m trying to do. I never perfect anything and I usually move on to another interest pretty quickly.

I think the thread that connects them all is in the learning and researching of the thing I’m doing. The problem is, when I’ve researched something to the point I feel like I can do it, I try it and then I loose interest either because it’s not really as interesting to do the activity or it’s isolating in some way and while I’m an introverted homebody who enjoys every second I can get alone…. If I’m enjoying something I want to share it.

This leads me to another hobby I’m developing and one that’s even more odd given the subject of the activity since I’m not a drinker. I’m brewing mead! Years ago my friend Evan and I tried our hand at making wine but it never really went anywhere and I didn’t try again. A long while later I was reminiscing about those days and thought about giving it another try but never got around to it. Well, life being cyclical, here we go again. My first batch is bubbling away filling my office at home with the sweet aroma of yeasted honey. It’s a little like fresh baked bread and sweet honey butter.

I don’t know how it will turn out, but the research has been a lot of fun. I’ve gathered recipes, learned the differences between a show mead, a melopmel, and a methaglen. I have watched some very entertaining videos on the subject and it’s all fascinating. One problem… there won’t be anyone to drink it. I figured out the sugar content for a 12 oz glass and the wife is not interested in such a “sweet” drink. The wines she enjoys are way dryer and lower in carbohydrate and even the beers she will have once in a blue moon are HALF the carbs.

I still plan to feed this brew to our friends if it turns out, but I don’t know how long I can sustain the interest. It will be fun to do while I’m doing it. Suggestions for the next hobby?

If you know what this is, you can try some when it’s done.

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Brain retraining

I prefer to sit in the background and kind of lurk in most situations both figuratively and literally. I don’t stand out in a crowd if it is large and diverse enough. I blend well with most social groups as well a a curmudgeon blends with anything. I have been thinking about my life recently and how I behave and I’ve come to a few conclusions. I’ve decided to share one.

I don’t like receiving praise. When I’ve accomplished something or created something, or when I’ve done a good thing, I don’t like getting accolades, positive critique, or having it acknowledged. When someone else, someone I care about, is proud of something I’ve done I feel something like guilt not pride. Don’t get me wrong. I take great personal pride in my job and I do want to know I am doing well or that I’m appreciated, but when a good job is rewarded I feel anxiety, not happiness. In fact, if someone comments positively on something I’m doing I usually want to stop. If someone comments negatively, It’s not as bad, but I still feel like I’m drawing too much attention to myself.

I don’t know where this comes from. I was praised and encouraged as a child when it was warranted and probably when it wasn’t. I’m sure there has been a macaroni picture or three saved and displayed on the fridge regardless of quality. I don’t really recall any specific instances, but I’m sure there were.. I think my parents still have a drawer somewhere with childhood artifacts in it. I don’t think a lack of encouragement in childhood is at all to blame. I can say that as a, let’s say, precocious, child, one into everything and always doing something that was intensely frustrating for my parents and my aunts, and really any adult in my life. I probably got a lot more corrective attention than praise.

That thought leads me to this; Maybe I connected attention of any kind to negativity. Maybe I’ve associated or connected the two somehow and just need to disconnect them. How do you disassociate an association from childhood? Aversion therapy seems like the exact wrong direction to lean. What do you do when you feel ashamed of accomplishments or activities that you should be proud of and what do you even call that?