James H Pickering - Still Trying to Figure It All Out
Widower father of a daughter, veteran geek. Musing on what life has given him and what he can give back.
Monday, March 27, 2023
I'm related to someone famous! And you might be too!
Thursday, February 16, 2023
The owner sees me staring off in to the distance and asks if I need anything. I tend to stare into the distance a lot. Not necessarily staring into the void, because, you know, it stares back, but just listening to the traffic outside, the music in the background, and snippets of conversation around me.
I really meant it as "I'm thinking," but when I thought about it, I was circular thinking. My original thoughts lead me in a myriad of tangents, kind of like the Marvel Universes Multiverse, which eventually leads right back to my original thought.
Thursday, February 2, 2023
Observations from an Ice Storm
It started Monday night with a short outage that lasted about four hours. Then it blinked at 5am, just enough to shut off my C-PAP and glue my mask to my face like an Alien facehugger. That'll get you coming up straight out of bed like nothing else!
I guess my observation is that those that came before us had to be so much more self-reliant and solve their own problems. Nowadays, we have to rely on the electric company and the linemen to fix our electricity when it's out. If the power is on, but the roads are too icy, we can still sit in comfort and watch our shows, read our books, and, if they are crazy enough, we can order a pizza and have it delivered.
Now, where is that delivery guy?
Thursday, January 19, 2023
DJing as a Career - How I Made a Living and Had Fun Doing It!
During my term in the Navy, I loved going out to clubs and dancing, and would befriend the DJs. At a club in the greater Norfolk area called the Double Deuce (not related to the one from Roadhouse) I got to be friends with the DJ and he offered tips. When I got out in 1992, my then girlfriend set me up with a surprise audition at a little bar which garnered me a spot, only I had to wait three months for it to open.
I didn't audition for the gig. I was supposed to meet the owner and another guy that was going to audition, but they were no shows. For almost a week, the owner kept missing our appointments and finally I found that he was building a house and had been working on that. I found out where and went there. Finally catching him, he told me that if I had went through all that trouble for the job, I could have it, no audition needed.
I worked there for a little over a year and eventually went to another club in Monroe which was the next biggest city about 20 miles away. In addition to DJing for a dancefloor, I ran a karaoke show. This show was part karaoke for customers and then part show for the customers to watch. The show involved runner-ups from a karaoke contest. They were paid to sing for two hours on a Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night and it was well-received.
After a year or so of that, I wanted to do more. I saw a commercial on late night TV about a Music/Video business course at the Art Institute of Dallas that piqued my interest. Calling my mom who lived in Dallas, we made arrangements for me to move in with her until I got on my feet.
I never finished the course, though it was a good one, but I was learning just as much in the gigs that I was getting. I probably should have finished it considering I was only six weeks away from finishing, but I was working clubs and private parties and they took up a lot of my time and paid pretty good.
I worked at the newly refurbished Bronco Bowl in Oak Cliff in 1996. It had been closed for a while and a new owner from Oklahoma came in and purchased it. I was DJing in a 10,000 square foot nightclub with state of the art equipment. We did a variety of music, plus live acts, and after parties for the concerts that were held in the Bronco Bowl arena. I did after parties for George Benson, Tesla, and the Fugees.
I moved on in '97 to DJing the busy hours at a chain of restaurants and recording canned music for play when I wasn't there. Not liking the corporate culture that I was in, I went back to DJing at little bars and restaurants in 2000.
I met my future wife at one of those clubs and after proposing to her in 2004, I decided it was time to hang up the headphones.
I've met all kinds of people, some of them kind of famous. I've met celebrity DJs, musicians, actors; I've had Matthew McConaughey on my dance floor. I don't ever remember having a bad meeting with any of them. Back in the days before he fronted Skid Row, I DJed and ran lights for a Tesla after party with Johnny Solinger. After his show, he came by the booth fueled up on the energy of the show, alcohol, and whatever else and gave me one of the sweatiest hugs I had ever received. But it was a fun night!
I don't miss certain aspects of DJing in the those venues, such as folks who don't know how to handle their liquor, bosses who think they know music better than you do, and the late hours. I do miss, however, the power of being able to make people dance, playing that one song that everyone has to move to, and making people feel good for a night. When I look back, that was the two things that I loved; the music and the people.
Friday, December 23, 2022
NORAD tracks Santa!
Tracking Santa all began with the Continental Air Command (CONAD) way back in 1955. NORAD, or North American Aerospace Defense Command, replaced CONAD in 1958 and have been tracking Santa since. You can go to the NORAD HQ for more info on the history, how's and why's and clicking the image below will take you directly to the tracker.
Thursday, October 27, 2022
The Haunting of Oaklea Mansion in Winnsboro, Texas
Monday, October 24, 2022
Visiting The Edison Exchange inside of The Historic Oaklea Mansion
The Kid and I, while out hitting all of the Winnsboro Autumn Trails events on Saturday, dropped by The Historic Oaklea Mansion. While there we visited Dustin and Gabriel of The Edison Exchange.
The Edison Exchange deals in antique/estate jewelry, Art Deco, and Native American jewelry/art. Beautiful pieces can be found everywhere you turn. One of the more intriguing displays was this exhibit of mourning jewelry.
Per The Gemological Institute of American ~
The tradition of wearing mourning jewelry goes back to at least the Middle Ages, when motifs like skulls and crossbones served as a tangible reminder of death. The exhortation memento mori, which literally translates to remember death, urged the wearer to live a moral life.
The popularity of mourning jewelry reached its peak during the Victorian era (1837-1901). Queen Victoria was deeply in love with her husband, Prince Albert, and when he died in 1861, she fell into a long depression. Queen Victoria spent much of the next four decades wearing black crepe dresses and mourning jewelry. She commissioned portraits, memorials, and busts of Prince Albert and other mementos that were reminders of her deceased spouse.
Hair Jewelry – jewelry that contained locks of a loved one’s hair – was particularly popular during the Victorian era. The Victorians believed that hair had a sacred quality because it contained something of the essence of the person. And because it was somewhat imperishable, it also symbolized immortality.
Many of the items on the tray were made with strands of hair woven into them or the entire piece was composed of braided hair from the deceased.
The Edison Exchange is located inside The Historic Oaklea Mansion at 407 S. Main St. in Winnsboro and is open Wednesday through Friday 10am to 5pm and Saturday 11am to 4pm. You can visit their website here or look them up on Facebook.
Photos are of the mourning jewelry and other pieces on display and for sale.