|My Facebook profile||
|"Finding a job you love means never working a day in your life." — Confucius|
My name is Eric Pence, and I am a husband, a father, and a web programmer. I am in the 60s generation—the children of the 1960s now in
their 60s (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe¹). I could be
described as a classic, aging, baby-boomer but I have tried to stay current with the new things that have evolved in my lifetime (in my mind
sometimes I am still 20-something). Throughout my life I have been fascinated by new and developing things. This influenced me to major in engineering when I went to college,
and my active involvement in performing music ultimately led to contemporary jazz, the most experimental form of improvisational music (see my
Music page). In the 1980s I became very interested in another "new" thing—computers—and took up
programming. Like most programmers at that time I started out working on a mainframe, but I soon realized that I wanted something more
challenging, and my career ultimately led to web development (see my Programming page).
Having a website is the definitive expression of many of my interests, and I enjoy it so much that working as a web programmer makes me feel like I get paid to have fun! (See my slogan at the top.)
Besides what's on this page, some of my other interests include reading, programming, music, cities, maps, tennis, and travel, and I expound on these things on various pages on my website.
I wasn't sure where to include this but I couldn't resist putting in on my website. For some reason my wife Patti took this picture,
probably in the 70s,
showing a gas pump with a 34¢ a gallon price and costing $3.80 for 11.2 gallons (probably a fill up). Click to enlarge.
|You can really express yourself with a great bumper sticker. My personal favorite is which I put on my car.|
I am a web programmer, and my wife, Patti, is a Nurse
Practitioner. We live in Hingham, Massachusetts, a coastal community south of Boston (see house info). We raised our two sons here but now they are grown and have
left home. Alex graduated from The New School in Greenwich Village, New York City and has taught English for
several years, both in NYC and abroad. He and his girlfriend Laura lived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, for a year, and
now they are back in Brooklyn, NY, where they lived before. Ben graduated in Computer Science from George Washington University in Washington, DC. He worked for 2 years for the Federal government after
graduation, took off a year to travel, mostly in Southeast Asia (see Family news below for details),
and now he works for Twitter in San Francisco. We are very proud that both our sons have finished college and begun their adult lives, and
I think it is pretty cool that they have each lived for years in some of our favorite cities, NYC, Washington, DC, and San Francisco.
I am a web programmer for Safety Insurance in the financial district in Boston, Massachusetts (see my building) and to get to work, I take a commuter boat—a pleasant half-hour trip—during which I usually read or chat with friends (and sometimes have a little excitement!). The Boston Globe did a comparison of commuting from the South Shore by car, boat, train, and Red Line (the subway), and not surpisingly, the boat came out on top. When I arrive at work in the morning or at home in the evening I am rested and relaxed, a very different state than that of many suburban commuters, who drive their cars in the intense, bumper-to-bumper, rush-hour traffic. In my opinion, I have the best of both worlds—a nice, peaceful, safe environment for my home, and the daily adventure of being in a great city.
Times have certainly changed since I was a kid. For several years, my mother used email from her home in Boise, Idaho, to help stay in touch with her children and grandchildren, who all live thousands of miles from her. Family dynamics have changed a lot in my lifetime, and they are affected by much more than just new technology. Here is an article I saw in The Boston Globe, "Raising a Perfect Child," that presents an interesting view of parenting today. There are links to more parenting articles on the Articles page.
|This is a blog of family activities. Each year's holiday card is shown.|
Boston skyline view
Hingham Harbor view
Click for elevation plans
|Patti and I are remodeling a small house we have purchased on Otis Hill, in the Crow Point neighborhood of Hingham, Massachusetts, that has views of the Boston skyline, Hingham Harbor, Boston Light, and even the Atlantic Ocean (see views above). It is near the end of a dead-end street, so traffic is minimal. Now that our boys have grown up and departed we have the freedom to focus on just the two of us. One of the things we plan to modify in this house is to put the master bedroom on the first floor so we won't have to climb stairs to go to bed (like we do now). We will still have two spare bedrooms on the second floor for guests. We hope to be in by the end of 2015.|
Here's an interesting juxtaposition, my childhood home in 1963 and 2005 (the recent photo taken by my friend Barbara Wilson). You can also see it in Street View. Following high school I went to the University of Idaho in 1966, where I majored in mechanical engineering, partly because my high school guidance counselor and my SAT scores pointed me in that direction, and partly because I thought that when I got out of college as an engineer I could avoid the draft (more about that here), which was something that all men of draft age (18-26) had to worry about at that time. After my first year of college I went to Atlanta, Georgia, with my brother for a summer job selling dictionaries door-to-door, which I did for about 2 weeks before I decided that where I really wanted to be in the summer of 1967 (the "Summer of Love") was San Francisco. So I went out to the highway, stuck out my thumb, and hitchhiked cross-country to California. I was only in the Bay Area for part of a summer, not really long enough to consider it a place of residence, so there is no San Francisco section on this bio page (but I did experience Haight-Ashbury during its cultural peak). That fall I returned to college at the U of I for another year, after which I came to the conclusion that life would be more fun without the responsibilities of school. In 1968, after 2 years of college, I moved to Seattle, Washington.
Payette links . . .
|Seattle (Seattle photos)|
Beginning in 1968 I lived for 5 years in Seattle, Washington, a great city. You
might call those my "hippie" years, when I had long hair and lived a lifestyle emulating the values of that culture. I went to many
antiwar rallies and marches (see Where I stand), rock concerts and rock festivals (see 60s music). I have many fond memories of my years in Seattle, where I made few commitments and pretty much
focused on the here and now, living a lifestyle of hedonism.
Seattle has gotten a bad label as a rainy city but that is not the way I remember it. Boston, where I live now, has more annual rainfall, and Boston is not thought of as a rainy city. I had a bicycle in Seattle and rode it all over and rain was never a consideration. I think the number of cloudy days in Seattle may have caused this misunderstanding.
One thing I did a lot in those days (the sixties) was collect vinyl records. Being a musician my taste in music tended to be somewhat esoteric so I didn't just go to the standard commercial record stores like Discount Records (one of the big chain stores that has since disappeared), but sought out harder to find records, many times at used record stores. One of my favorites was a store on the Ave (University Way) named "Puss 'n' Books", which sold used books and records, and had cats roaming around. They bought records from you for $1 and sold them for $1.50. I was pretty good at taking the platter out of the jacket and eyeing it for scratches before buying it. I created a record collection of hundreds of albums which I kept for decades before eventually switching entirely over to digital. In 1968 I started a component stereo system that consisted of a Dual 1019 turntable, a power amplifier, a Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder, and a set of KLH speakers. I had this for years, upgrading many times. See more here about my getting rid of my record collection.
I played guitar when I was in Seattle, and since my style was fairly experimental my musical tastes evolved into jazz, so when I decided to go back to school to study music, I chose Berklee College of Music, where I switched to upright bass (see more on my Music page). So, in 1973, I came to Boston . . .
Some Seattle links . . .
The first two weeks of May, 2010, Patti and I and our friend Paula vacationed in Europe. I wrote this description to be put on Facebook, where I
had many inquiries about the trip, but I found out that FB only allows 420 characters on a posting and this was way bigger than that, so I
created it here and added a link on Facebook to come here. I'm glad I documented this while it was still fresh in my mind.
On Saturday, May 1, 2010, we flew to London. Our hotel was in South Kensington, London, near Hyde Park. There was a Tube stop a block away so it was easy to get around (the P.A. warns you to "Mind the gap" as you step off the train at each stop). On a very rainy day we went to the Tower of London, where Patti slipped on the wet steps when walking on the surrounding wall and hit her head breaking her glasses. She only needed a bandaid ("plaster" in London), and fortunately she had a spare pair of glasses! If you take the Tower Bridge across the Thames you will see the fabulous City Hall (known as the "Gherkin"). We took hop-on-and-off double-decker bus tours around London and saw many neighborhoods, including the locations of Beatles' homes and Sherlock Holmes' lodgings at 221B Baker Street. We took a boat ride on the Thames from Tower of London that ended at the London Eye, an extremely large passenger-carrying observation wheel across the river from Parliament & Big Ben. We saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, toured Kensington Palace where Princess Di had lived, and had High Tea at The Orangery in Kensington Gardens. And of course, we shopped at Harrods, the biggest department store I have ever seen!
On Wednesday we took the Eurostar high-speed train to Paris via the Chunnel (tunnel under the English Channel). In Paris we stayed in an apartment (that brown double-door next to the blue awning was ours; turns out this is about a block from the building where Jim Morrison of the Doors died in 1971) on Rue Saint-Antoine (becomes Rue de Rivoli as it goes West) between Hotel de Ville (City Hall) and Bastille, which on current maps represents the Métro stop and the former location of the prison (that we learned after a fruitless search was destroyed during the French Revolution). Our apartment was walking distance to Notre Dame (Patti and Paula climbed the 387 steps to the top), and we strolled on Champs-Elysées (where the most accessible "free" bathroom was in McDonalds), and went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (with a 360°panoramic view of Paris). We also went to the top observation area of the Eiffel Tower, visited the Louvre where we saw the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, and took the train to Versailles to see Napoléon and Josephine's palace and gardens. We used the Métro a lot to get around Paris, took a boat tour on the Seine, and several double-decker bus tours (on one we passed by The Thinker sculpture by Rodin, and on the soundtrack I was listening to on headphones I heard a great version of the James Brown song "It's a Man's World" sung by Nino Ferrer in French!). In Paris we ate some of the best crepes and omelettes we have ever had at a cafe on Rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile, a street on Ile Saint-Louis, an island near Notre Dame. Our son Ben, who was going to school in Amsterdam, joined us in Paris and did many of these things with us.
On Monday we took the train to Amsterdam (via Belgium) where we stayed in a hotel on the Amstel River near the Magere Brug ("Skinny Bridge") that had no elevator so we had to climb 4 flights of stairs to get to our room. We walked a lot in Amsterdam and took many trams. I love the city with all its canals and bicycles and bike paths (Amsterdam, "The Bicycling Capitol of Europe," has more bicycles than cars—the Central train station has a bicycle parking garage). We visited the Anne Frank House, the Rembrandt House Museum, and the Van Gogh Museum. We took boats on the canals and had pancakes (a Dutch delight that also comes in varieties with meat, vegetables, and cheese) at Sara's Pancake House, which we later learned in a review is the best in Amsterdam. We flew back to Boston (via London's Heathrow) on Thursday, May 13. We kept our eye on the recent news of the Iceland volcano and were relieved it didn't interfere with our flights (Amsterdam and London airports closed after our return).
|I have participated in several fundraising walks, which lets me do something I really enjoy while earning money for good causes. I usually do the Walk for Hunger with my regular walking partner Margarette (we've done this 20-mile walk almost every year since 1999) and at our rapid pace we have completed it several times in just 4 hours (that is walking at 5 MPH for 20 miles!).|
Project Bread, The Walk for Hunger
Walk to End Alzheimer's
AIDS Walk Boston
Dog walks – in memory of Lucy
I currently have a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Android cellphone. I have had various cellphones since 1995, starting with a series of flip-phones,
but in 2011 my son Alex gave me my first smartphone, a Droid X. I used
it for several years before replacing it with my Samsung (purchased for 1¢ on a Staples promotion!). One of the things I like best about
having a smartphone is having a computer in my pocket at all times, so I can (besides making phone calls!) use Google, email, Facebook, and GPS.
I still often have my laptop but the smartphone has become the most convenient way to do these things. Smartphones are getting bigger and bigger but I
am sticking with my small phone
which fits very comfortably in my pocket. |
Lest anyone think the smartphone has complicated my life—before I had one I listened to music on an iPod and read books on a Sony Reader (and before that I carried a paperback). Now I do both on my phone so I've done away with 2 extra digital devices I used to carry around—so having a smartphone has actually simplified my life. Since airlines have loosened up on using cellphones on planes I am not forced to shut off my phone and stop reading on flights. When I travel I don't take a laptop anymore, only my smartphone
There seem to be apps for everything now. When we had a frozen harbor in Winter 2015 and the commuter ferries were not running I took the
commuter rail. To pay for parking I used an app associated with my credit card instead of having to stuff 4 dollar bills into the slot for my parking
spot. (I pay for parking by the month at the boat but they also use this app.) You can get airline boarding passes sent to your phone which get scanned
at the airport. In Boston (my town) the MBTA (local transit system) has made the passes that previously only came on plastic cards available for
smartphones in this fashion. Certain businesses, like Starbucks, that use cards to scan for purchases now offer apps that do this and you don't have to
pull a card out of your wallet every time. I anticipate more and more things coming this way.
There are many websites with good smartphone tips like how to maximize your battery, or using the Cloud, so I won't list those here, but here are some things I do on my phone.
|Some notifications require setting a ringtone—but when I don't want to hear my phone ring I use a silent ringtone, silent.wav. For instance, I use this on Gmail, where I still get an icon in the Notification bar for new email but the phone doesn't audibly ring. For text messages, I get a notification icon and the ringtone on my phone is the little iPhone SMS chirp.|
|I have had 2 Androids and never owned an iPhone, so I am not entirely familiar with the iPhone, but I have noticed things that I definitely like better about the Android.|
|Replaceable battery||–||One of the best features of the Android phone is the replaceable battery. I keep a spare battery fully-charged in a battery charger, so I can swap batteries whenever my battery is low. I used to travel with my spare battery available on cross-country flights, but now many terminals and planes (look under seat) have electrical outlets available to recharge your phone.||Homescreen||–||The iPhone homescreen looks very busy (I see people scrolling for apps all the time), while the Android homescreen is very simple and easy to manage. On an iPhone it appears that every installed app has an icon on the homescreen(s), but on the Android you only have homescreen icons for things you want there. All installed apps are in the "Apps" folder and you can add any of them to the homescreen (7 panels), or remove them from the Homescreen without uninstalling the app.|
|I want my contacts, photos, and music to be backed up so they are available should I ever get a new phone. I found that using an app (like CloudVault) to back these up to "the Cloud" uses up my data plan on my cellphone provider so here is what I do instead:|
|Contacts||–||When I enter a new contact it is associated with my Gmail account and automatically backed up to the Google server (so I guess it is on the Cloud).|
|Photos||–||I have my photos in albums so I copy these to my PC.|
|Music||–||All my music is on my PC in iTunes so I can reload it from there.|
|For the wallpaper on my smartphone I use this aerial photo of Paris. It appears to have been taken from a helicopter hovering over the Louvre, looking up the Champs-Elysées towards the Arc de Triomphe and showing the Eiffel Tower.|
For my lock-screen, that I see whenever I activate my phone, I have a photo of our darling dog, Casey. Anytime I want to show a photo of Casey
to someone I pull out my phone and turn it on.
(Most people would probably like a family picture here, but I guess with my kids grown and long gone this is more appealing.)
|I wasn't sure where to put this but I wanted to share how I listen to music on my phone with earbuds.|
|Where I stand||
I was raised in a household similar to the one I raised my kids in, where my parents taught me values that I retain to this day (I will always
remember the impression that was made on me when my dad took us to see Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's story of
bravery and justice in small-town America) and I have hopefully passed these on to my sons—values like integrity and charity,
and a desire to participate in a kinder and gentler world, and help create a more humane and just society.
Coming of age in the 1960s civil rights have always been very important to me. When I evaluate a candidate who is running for public office, the first thing I look at is his stance on social issues like women's rights and gay rights. If the candidate fails on those I don't care what his positions are on everything else, he will never get my vote.
I took this Political Compass test (a brief explanation) and the results show me as "Libertarian-Left", meaning I believe in social freedom and some economic regulation. Not surprisingly, I am at the exact opposite setting on the compass to George W. Bush.
Yay! Bush is Gone!
A monument has been erected in Iraq to honor the journalist who threw his shoes at Bush.
This was created after I removed this section and I thought it deserved its place of honor here.
Artist Shepard Fairey created this great portrait of Barack Obama.
"I would like to thank you for using your talent in support of my campaign. The political messages involved in your work have encouraged Americans to believe they can change the status-quo. Your images have a profound effect on people, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign. I am privileged to be a part of your artwork and proud to have your support." — Barack Obama to Shepard Fairey, February 22, 2008
Obama Accomplishments – here is a list I made after he had served 2 years
This cartoon appeared in The Boston Globe after the GOP retook control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 mid-term elections. In
some convoluted logic the voters think the Dems failed because in 2 years they couldn't fix the problems the Republicans took 8 years to
click to enlarge
Windsor Mt. School
"Humaneness is one of the hallmarks of being a liberal." — Walter Cronkite
My social and political views are very liberal, which is the essence of logical thinking and humanitarian concerns. During my formative years
in the 1960s I was mostly surrounded by people with the same values, but as I got older and moved away from the college setting I came to
realize that I had been living in a somewhat sheltered environment, and in order to co-exist with some of the others I met whose views were
very different from mine I would have to keep some of my opinions to myself (though I would not have to change my values). I thought this
philosophy was stated very well in the slogan at the progressive New England boarding school my wife Patti attended, the Windsor Mountain School in Lenox, Massachusetts (closed
|"My pacifism is not based on any intellectual theory but on a deep antipathy to every form of cruelty and hatred." — Albert Einstein|
I have always been a pacifist but my commitment to my beliefs was really put to the test in 1969 during the Vietnam War when I became a draft
resister. Like millions of other Americans I opposed the war for political and moral reasons and participated in many antiwar marches and
rallies. After a couple of years of college I took some time off which resulted in the loss of my student deferment, and when I received my
draft notice I responded in the spirit of what we used to chant—"Hell no, we won't go!"—I
refused induction into the army. Taking this stand put my personal freedom in jeopardy
for a period of time, but finally, after an anxious year involving lawyers and an FBI investigation, I was able to put that episode behind me
and move on with my life. I was far from alone in my war resistance—the Justice Department identified 570,000 men who "violated" the draft laws.
My draft resistance – a serious and stressful episode in my life
We Ain't Marching Anymore – draft and military resistance to the Vietnam War
An interview with a Vietnam draft resister 35 years later – this could be me
Carter's pardon – a discussion on President Carter's pardoning of Vietnam War draft dodgers
A "fan" letter – from someone who does not agree with my views
|When I was in high school in the mid-60s I subscribed (with many thanks to my open-minded mother) to the Berkeley Barb, an underground newspaper loosely associated with students at UC Berkeley. Something I learned in one issue was the history of the Peace Symbol , a superimposing of the semaphoric signals (nautical signal flags) for the letters "N" and "D," standing for Nuclear Disarmament, and created in 1958 in the UK.|
|This is somewhat esoteric knowledge and I presume if people have any association for the symbol they just know it stands for peace. Now I see it on clothing and other items as a "fashion" icon and realize that many very young people might not even know its meaning. Oh well, it will always symbolize an anti-war theme for me.|
|"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." — Dwight D. Eisenhower|
War is a hostile and barbaric action that is the result of a total failure of diplomacy (or as Isaac Asimov put it,
"Violence is the diplomacy of the incompetent."). I
strongly oppose war and I do not support our leaders who get us into wars when they cannot work out problems with
other nations using non-violent methods. I do support the men and women in the armed forces because they are honorably
putting their lives at risk for the security of our country, and they are not responsible for the failure of our
leaders' diplomatic efforts. We have a military to protect our freedoms if our country is ever threatened or attacked
by another nation (which is why we call it the Department of "Defense"), but when our troops are sent to
preemptively attack the citizens of another nation on their own soil as we did in Iraq, we are invading them,
and I say, "Bring our troops home!" (I can't believe our National Guard is
being sent to foreign countries to participate in war—isn't the mission of the NG to protect the homeland?)
This is from A Grandfather's Last Letter To His Grandkids on Huffington Post. I thought it was pretty good advice.
War Resisters League – "There is no way to peace – peace is the way."
Nonviolence.Org – "War is just a racket." – Major General Smedley Butler, USMC
Letter To Bush – I received this chain letter after 9/11
|Jimi Hendrix said it so well!|
|"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, that you can't even passively take part; and you've got to indicate to the people who run it that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!" — Mario Savio|
It is everybody's right to live free of arbitrary, unnecessary rules, and we should all be able to openly express
our personal freedoms. Unfortunately, we do need laws to protect these freedoms because not everybody is respectful
of the rights of others, but if you want to engage in a non-harmful activity there should be no law restricting you.
Free Speech Movement Archives
The Berkeley Free Speech Movement
|"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."|
|"Yes, a well regulated militia, not a personal arsenal free-for-all!" — Jon Stewart|
All this activity to prevent gays from marrying is nothing more than homophobic people trying to validate their prejudices by making them into
laws. Many states, including Massachusetts, are trying to enact constitutional amendments to keep gays and lesbians from having the same
domestic rights as heterosexuals. Former President Bush even wanted to write this into the U.S. Constitution. Give me a break.
Human Rights Campaign – working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights
Wedding distractions – Brian McGrory, The Boston Globe¹, 2/13/2004
Where Is My Gay Apocalypse? – Mark Morford, SFGate, 3/5/2004
Gender discrimination is immoral. Women and men have the same entitlements, and there should be equal
compensation for equal achievements. There should be no restriction on a woman's right to choose abortion. The
attempts to create laws controlling this are typically made based on religious grounds, which is an illegal
basis for law. No one's life should be restricted by someone else's religion. Down with dogma!
Human Rights Watch: Women's Rights
A Woman's Right to Choose – at the Center for Reproductive Rights
|Growing up a white, middle-class, college-bound boy in America made me feel very privileged in life, but I had the experience of feeling like a minority for the first time at age 19 in 1967. When I was in high school, influenced by the Beatles I grew bangs like many boys but our hair could not be over the ears, and when I came home from college the first time with shoulder-length hair and a beard I found out what it felt like to have people discriminate against me based on superficial values like my appearence. People I had been around for years that had always accepted me were shunning me, and even making rude comments. A local barber that I had always gone to refused to give me a haircut when I wanted to trim my long hair because he said he wouldn't touch my " filthy" hair. I washed my hair every day like I always had and it was certainly cleaner than the hair of some of the "greasers" who's hair he normally cut. It was a real eye-opening experience and it altered my respect for my hometown.|
|Rants||"People who think they know everything are annoying to those of us who do." — Isaac Asimov|
|So far I've said where I stand on some of the important issues of the day. Here are some things that may be less important, but they are still annoying.|
"If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."
— On a sign in a non-smoking area
He says, "You grew up in the church. Isn't there anything left of your faith?"|
She replies, "Faith requires no proof . . . I do."
If I sound very opinionated it may be because I grew up in the 60s, the era of the Free Speech Movement, when it was considered pretty normal to express yourself openly. See my Articles page for more in support of my views, or on the lighter side, see Political satire.
Here are a few things I have learned how to do that I want to pass on. They may seem rather silly but they work for me.
To guard against spambots that search webpages for email addresses I am not spelling out any complete email addresses contiguously anywhere on my website.
My email address:
Patti's email address:
Replace (at) with @ in the above addresses. I have stopped listing our penceland.com email addresses, and while they are still valid, we'd prefer you use our Gmail addresses.