3/25/2007

Hector Patscot

When I was born, my parents and I lived either with or very near Hector Patscot. We moved far away when I was about five months old, so I don’t remember any details from that time.

Later, when I was nine, we moved back to Long Island, where Hector and his growing family had moved. As families do, we gravitated to a different branch of the family, and didn’t visit anyone very much.

Things had never been entirely smooth for my parents, and when I was eleven, they divorced. After a long and complicated swirl of events, the dust cleared and my mother was re-married in Wisconsin, my sister and I were with my single father on Long Island.

We made adjustments. I suppose nobody was really happy. My father’s parents lived with us for a while, and then they moved on to a new home.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I lived mostly in my own world, grudgingly and unenthusiastically doing whatever I couldn’t get out of doing in this world. I didn’t pay very much attention to anything anyone else was doing.

The Bible says not to worry, each day has its own problems, and that seemed exactly right to me. I could count on some undreamed of event occuring each day, and if God forgot to send a disaster today, He would make up for it tomorrow.

So it was no particular surprise to wake up one Saturday morning to hear strange voices in the house. ‘Uncle John’ (Hector) and Aunt Florence were standing around on the filthy rug in the living room, dressed like ‘Sunday-go-to-meeting’. My sister and I were told to get dressed, take what we needed, and get in the car.

My instant reaction was resentment that these people who I barely knew were coming in here and bossing us around. But then I noticed how they were acting. My Aunt was looking sad but determined. I didn’t know she was usually like that.

Hector was a different story. I don’t think he really wanted to be there. He had enough troubles of his own. The worst of them was his sense of duty, which is what he was there for. It would not have been possible for him to do anything else.

I lived in Hector’s house for about two years, trying to adjust to living with six or seven other people as part of a family. Needless to say, this wasn’t enough time to really learn how to cope with a family situation, but I made a lot of progress. ‘Uncle Daddy’ helped.

When I returned to my father’s house, I re-adjusted to the situation, but at a somewhat higher level. I learned to become part of and to exploit a larger community. Even though much of what I did then was not socially acceptable, I was participating in society. I was making choices, even if they were limited and often unwise. I was fourteen.

Then there was another crisis with the same solution. Hector Patscot.
Now living in Northport, the Patscot house was a buzz of activity, and I participated. I remained an individual, but I found respect for others and learned to cooperate more. I felt that the future might not be simply a numb repetition of the past, but might actually get better. I discovered hope.

In the spring of the first year I was instructed to help put the boat in shape for summer. I worked on it some, but without much enthusiasm. It was work, after all, and I had no feeling that I could gain any benefit from it. But after one summer of weekends and occasional evenings on the water, my perspective changed. Before the following spring arrived, as soon as it seemed to me that the snow was gone, I began sanding the boat.

I hadn’t believed I would be trusted to participate in boating activities. But Hector trusted me, responsibly, and so I trusted him. And I got my first lessons in the work/reward connection.

There was also a change in school. I had previously felt I was going to school to get my head filled with a required base of information. I felt no responsibility for it. But my changing attitude allowed me to think of education as acquiring knowledge for my future enjoyment. I still thought of this as a subversive idea rather than the actual goal of schooling, but that was an improvement.

And there WAS something I enjoyed. I got into music at school. At sixteen, there was clearly no hope of learning music as any kind of useful thing. It was, at best, recreation. There were skills to learn. Mastery was out of the question, but I could progress at a modest pace. I found joy in little victories. It was also another avenue for emotional expression.

I also became a better citizen. Don’t laugh! The anti-social behavior I exhibited prior to Northport was no longer acceptable to me because I believed there was someone at home who cared. And I cared, too. My reasons were probably a bit pragmatic, but I wanted to ‘not-harm’ my family. And I thought of it as my family.

When I was called away from Hector’s house, to go upstate where my father had moved, I was hurt. For three months I was treated as I had been in the past, but having recently felt loved, this was like going to hell. Worse, I didn’t understand it.

Then I was pushed into the service, which might have saved my life, but it gave me no joy. I managed to mostly stay out of trouble though I felt oppressed. I was, of course, but that comes with the territory.

When I got out of the service I went to Northport without a thought. I just went home. When Hector told me I was an adult and would have to pay rent, I was stopped for about fifteen seconds. By then I realized it the right thing to do.

I needed a job, so the obvious choice was to go to work with Hector at the machine shop. You can be a rookie anywhere. After a couple of weeks, Hector pointed out a car for sale down the street. I bought it and drove it to & from work every day until I got my license.

Once I had my license, it was only natural that I reached out to find the new limits of my world. I moved out of Hector’s house, and got a new job.

Through the years I often called on him for help, and he rarely needed mine. Now he's gone, and like it or not, I'm left to do for myself. That's OK, he prepared me.

It might seem strange to see a man described only in terms of someone else's life, but that's how I saw him.
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9/24/2005

Ethics in Blogging

Recently, I have been making comments on other's blogs. And I'm not sure that's the best way of letting my thoughts be known.

My style is rough and distracting, my thinking is episodic, I often split off on tangents and can easily jump to totally unrelated topics. That is to say I really shouldn't clog up someone else's comment space with a lot of remarks that don't advance one side or another of the discussion in progress there.

Some have remarked that blogs that simply point to others with content the owner finds interesting are a non-creative waste of bandwidth and storage space. But this is the only way the majority of people can participate. I'm not particularly sharp-witted. Engaging in brilliant repartee is for me a suicidal mission. But occasionally I see an idea that I think would produce interesting results in the hands of a more agile mind. So I point.

Nobody has to take up the challenges I suggest. Many are doubtless useless babble. Fortunately, by keeping my comments where their aurthorship is clear, my friends and relatives needn't fear getting excess litter on their sites & blogs.

I have three kinds of readers: Friends, who will read whatever I write(I also have friends who never read me!); relatives, similar to friends (above); and random readers, those who hit my blog at random. Any of these might choose to introduce my work to another audience. Or not. Or any of them might be inspired to publish thier own thoughts on something I've said, or on some unrelated topic I brought to mind for them.

In my view, this is the true democracy of the net: If you care to, spread my idea... as your own, if you like. And if you don't like it, you don't have to do anything... just let it sit there. If I have a good idea, it will spread. All the rest of them will just go away. I will try not to embarrass myself, but I will feel free to say whatever I am willing to accept responsibility for.
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6/27/2005

Locus?

Anybody writing a blog wants to have a cool, memorable and meaningful name for it. So why did I pick "Locus"?
Well, the idea of this site is to have one reference point for all the people and places that influence me. All the links on this site have an effect on the way I think or feel. Though it could never be complete, to some degree, they define me.

Looky here: (Wikipedia)
"The word locus (plural loci) is Latin for 'place'... In mathematics, a locus is the set of points satisfying a particular condition. It is mostly used when the set of points forms a curve of some sort (see locus (mathematics))... A circle is the locus of points from which the distance to the center is a given value, the radius." Sort of a small circle of friends.
"An ellipse is the locus of points, the sum of the distances from which to the foci is a given value." This is what you get with two people, each with their own focus.

I wish I could say I've made it clear, but in any case, I've said it.
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6/22/2005

New link: "Engines of our Ingenuity"

I've been meaning to put this link on here for a long time. John Lienhard is an engineer, primarily, but that can spill over into almost anything. Though much older than I, he is still in touch with the boyish joy of tinkering...
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6/21/2005

A Small Circle of Friends

moved to:
http://arisacat.blogspot.com/2005/06/small-circle-of-friends.html
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6/18/2005

My on line encyclopedia

I'm not a great on-line researcher. In fact, the main reason for this blog is to bring together whatever puny resources I have and combine them with what a few choice other people are using.

Wikipedia is a resource I stole the link to from Taran, and I find it most useful on Sunday mornings trying to solve the 'quoteacrostic' in the paper. Sometimes nothing seems to help, but on the usual Sunday, using Wikipedia seems almost like cheating.
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6/03/2005

Suffolk Bike Riders Association

About twenty years ago the food service industry began to take a toll on my health, particularly in the area immediately above my belt. Running was in style at the time, but profoundly flat feet and a tendancy to 'shin splints' left me looking for something low impact. I decided to buy a bike.

I had done well enough with a three speed as a kid, but things were different now. I didn't have the power to muscle through bad gearing matches, and it was easy to avoid periods of having nothing better to do. I still kinda wanted to, but progress was slow.

Finally, in 1989, I rode twenty miles in a charity event. It was the first time I saw people riding well equiped and maintained bikes. I was so impressed by the results of those advantages that I immediatly joined two clubs that eventually taught me to cycle effectively. SBRA was one of those clubs, and I'm pleased to add their site to my links list.
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