A Checkered Career

Starting at the End of This Month

I have been working now for just a few months shy of half a century. At the end of this month, the accounting firm for which I have been working will close its doors. At this point I am not sure whether I will continue to seek part-time work. I thought you might find it interesting to follow my work career from beginning to end:

  • 1968 – Work at System Development Corporation in Santa Monica proofreading a digital version of the Merriam-Webster 7th Collegiate Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster New Pocket Dictionary. A film student at UCLA, I was hired to replace a young woman who just so happens to have been murdered by a film student at UCLA (whom I didn’t know, honest!)
  • 1969 – Picked up computer programming on my own and worked as a programmer for Research & Special Projects Statistical Services at System Development Corporation.
  • 1971 – Worked at programming to process the 1970 census tapes at Becker & Hayes, a subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons, Publishers. Programmed the first version of CENSAC, which accessed a full but highly compressed set of 1970 Census tapes.
  • 1973 – My census programming job at Becker & Hayes morphed into Urban Decision Systems (UDS), where I continued to work on demographic data retrieval systems for research and site location. Worked on the ONSITE system, wrote technical documentation for it, and put together a marketing program for the company’s sstems and services.
  • 1991 – UDS folded. I worked to help create a new company called Desktop Marketing Corporation, but it never really went anywhere.
  • 1992 – Worked as an IT specialist for Lewis, Joffe & Company, a tax accounting firm.
  • 2008 – When Lewis, Joffe & Company split into two pieces, I went to work for Brian Lewis & Company doing tax accounting support and IT.
  • 2018 – ?

What with Martine’s desire to leave (she’s still with me for now) and the possible end of my working career, I am facing new challenges. I can promise you one thing, however: I will not put on weird multicolored pants, put on weight, and play golf.

Wish Me Luck!

Happy Turkey Day, You All!

So, Are You Still Able to Walk?

I just got back from San Pedro, where I had a great Thanksgiving Dinner with my friends. Naturally, I had to load myself up with insulin, because you know that sugar is one of the main ingredients of the holiday. Still I had a good time and met some new people, who were very nice.


Two Abysses

A Hiker Walking Along a Narrow Ridge Trail with Mount Rainier in the Background

In my dealings with Martine, I am faced with two abysses. On one hand, I wish to be compassionate with a woman I have loved for thirty years. On the other, I don’t want to destroy myself by not looking sufficiently after my own survival. It is possible to be so compassionate that I no longer have the wherewithal to support myself in my fairly abstemious life style.

Martine is clearly in need of counseling. Unfortunately, I cannot force her to see a therapist if she doesn’t want to; and she clearly doesn’t want to. She is currently planning another escape, this time to Salt Lake City, where she thinks she will get free or super cheap housing when she really doesn’t have much money to spend. I fully expect for this second escapade to fail; and I will be called by her or some social worker to send her a ticket back to Los Angeles.

Each time she returns to L.A., she will hate the city (and perhaps me, too) even more. Yet she is not healthy enough to live on the streets, especially in a city that has a real winter.

I am walking on a narrow path and have to find my way somehow.



Costco Shoppers

I do not often go to warehouse stores: There is something about a shopping frenzy that makes people ugly. It’s all about the getting of swag, and showing others that you can afford it because the light from the gods shines directly from the heavens onto you. Me, I needed to get one or two nonstick pans because two of mine were already leaching their chemical formula into whatever food I warmed up in them. As usual, Costco did not have what I wanted. I could have purchased a whole pot and pan set for $199, but there was no selection of individual pots. Also, I looked for Schick blades. The last time I went, I was looking for Gillette Mach III blades, but they had only Schick. Today, they only had Gillette Mach III shavers and blades. I resolved not to return to Costco until after the Christmas madness.

When I got home, I ordered a nice nonstick covered pot from Amazon. Whatever their crimes, Amazon does usually sell what I want—and I can get it shipped to me free using Amazon Prime. As for the Schick blades, I won’t really need them for a while.

After my unsuccessful shopping trip, I went to the Santa Monica Public Library main branch and finished reading André Gide’s Lafcadio’s Adventures, also known as Les Caves du Vaticane. It was a kind of anticlerical romp, in which a couple of sharpers convince some wealthy old Catholics that Pope Leo XIII was being imprisoned in the caves under the Vatican by a cabal of Freemasons. They were naturally asked for funds to release the captive pontiff.

Facing South

Skeletoid Academics?

Dartmouth College was the beginning of many things in my life. One of the most influential was the Reserve Room on the ground floor of Dartmouth’s Baker Library. On three sides was a magnificent sequence of frescoes by José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) which began with the invasion of Mexico by the Conquistadores and ended up with the mess that Mexico was in during the 1930s. One of the most shocking images was the one above of the skeletoid academics giving birth to a baby skeleton.

These frescoes influenced me so much that I would study or even just hang out in the Reserve Room just to imbibe the atmosphere of Orozco’s powerful political murals. It was no accident that the first vacation I took on my own, nine years after my graduation, was a visit to Mayan ruins in Yucatán. Over the next seventeen years, I was to go to Mexico eight times, spending as much as a month on each visit.

José Clemente Orozco

During those visits, my eyes turned further south. I would have loved to go from Yucatán to Belize and on to the Mayan ruins at Tikal in the Petén region of Guatemala. At that time, however, the man in charge was Efraín Ríos Montt, a murderous dog who was responsible for the massacre, rape, and torture of thousands of indigenous people; and the U.S. State Department did not recommend that Americans vacation in Guatemala during his presidency.

Around then, Paul Theroux published The Old Patagonian Express (1979), about taking trains from Boston as far south in the Americas as one could go. I vowed that I would eventually make it to South America, and I did. Since 2006, I visited Argentina (three times!), Uruguay, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. An despite Mexico’s continuing problem with narcotraficantes, I would not mind going to Yucatán and Chiapas again.



Weekend Getaway

Palm Desert, CA

Next weekend, I will leave town for the weekend and spend some time with my brother in Palm Desert while Martine holds down the fort in L.A. The desert is nice this time of year, and I look forward to spending some time with Dan. I’d like to see the houses he is building and just spend some quality family time. While I am there, I will hold off on posting new blogs.

I need a short respite from my problems with Martine. Things may wind up all right in the long run (I hope). Over the last eight weeks, however, I have been stressed mostly by worrying about what would happen to Martine if she decided to be homeless by choice. In our culture, I see nothing good coming out of that. Even when this country pays lip service to the homeless, that’s about all they can expect. A large percentage of them are violent bums (what the Elizabethans called “sturdy beggars,” who commit all sorts of crimes—especially on the persons of helpless homeless women).

The Flip Side of the Coin

We’re Still Not Back to Normal

One can never take a relationship for granted. Beginning in July, Martine told me she wanted to get out of Los Angeles. And, just by the way, I wasn’t picking up my stuff. Now that she’s back to L.A., it looks as if she was returned under duress. And now I’m a monster who doesn’t pick up after myself.

Now what does this picking up involve? If I move one of her vitamins over two inches to make room for something I have to make room for in the refrigerator and I don’t return it to its original position, I’m not picking up after myself. Yesterday it was a small triangular piece of paper that somehow got out of the garbage can. In other words, it’s infractions of the “Who moved my cheese?” variety of which I am guilty.

Martine after her week in Northern California is depressed and angry, and I am here—available to be blamed. I feel a bit irritated for being the subject of blame when my sins are all of the venial variety. Nobody’s perfect. I just have to maintain my cool and try to edge her into a mental healthcare program for her own good.

Yes, I still love her, but she is clearly not thinking straight. If Martine gets away again, which is highly likely, she has no money. Nobody’s going to give her free housing and then leave her alone. Well, except maybe me. But it’s a delicate matter which can go either way. Keep your fingers crossed for me.