Today I lost someone close to my heart, I dare say that he was my best friend, and is without any doubt a permanent part of my family, even if time and distance have separated us. He could be infuriating, stubborn, geeky, smart, and sometimes just clueless. But he was always kind and gentle, and was there through thick and thin, we made quite the odd couple. My two boys grew up knowing him as their uncle, and both have very fond memories of time spent together. The Christmases, and Thanksgivings when we had so very little to share, and friendship was a gift that was priceless.
There were computers, compilers, languages, all the things young budding programmers needed to get by, and enough coke and Pepsi to later in life make me pre-diabetic, but it was worth it. The day we ordered the Lint pre-compiler, and then sat in horror as it tore apart every facet of our carefully coded system. It was only later that we discovered a chapter called ‘Living with Lint’, it’s humorous now, but then it was end of the world! Commodore 64’s, Amiga’s, learning to program on PC’s, all the BBS’s, games and software we collected and wrote.
Terrible old cars that barely ran and required constant tinkering…
The little yellow Miata that ended up in my Garage for a new clutch, and then taking it out and doing burn outs to make sure the clutch disk was good!! All the birds and their ridiculous antics, Pepper who loved to say his name over and over and over and over and over and over… The Gigantic bird aviary we made in your back yard. Darkrooms full of black and white pictures, an old garage turned into a photography studio, then turned into a programming office. So much possibility all the time, life was still new, and experience was something we would gather as we moved forward now.
Playing Jean Michelle Jarre CD’s, ELO, Rush, and just about everything else…
The waterbed that was filled too far, and flooded the room, the old Jacuzzi we used to sit in and plan. Software reviews, getting written about in a publication, writing our own BBS that eventually led to our being hired by another company. The wacky marriage in Vegas, and the heartbreaking divorce that eventually pushed us all away, that and my fundamentalism which I never got to ask forgiveness for.
So many memories, I can never go back, but I can re-live them by remembering how special those times were. it’s images, words, impressions, emotions and a sense of great loss.
I’m not sure I have many tears left, Iv’e been silently crying for a long time now, and now at the end, I’m not sure how to react. My heart is broken, my soul is mortally wounded at the senseless loss. I ache for the family left behind, both ours, and yours, frustrated at my inability to travel out and talk to you one last time, to tell you how much you meant to my life, my children, my family.
Michelle and I both have cried, we have both prayed, and right now I’m empty. I know more tears will come, but first we have to move past the shock, and then deal with such a tragic loss.
Be at peace my friend, take your rest and wait. You will see me again, in fact you can warn them I’m coming, I have questions and we both know how that can be.
Lord have mercy on us all.
compressor has gone bad…leaking and rusted out. working on getting a price to replace it
I thought; well, there goes another couple of hundred bucks on the A/C..
Boy was I wrong!!!
It turns out that not only is the compressor bad, but the unit belongs in a museum. I don’t keep up HVAC technology, so we had no idea. So the WHOLE ENCHILADA has to be replaced, and let me tell you first hand, they aint cheap!
When I got home I was handed a price tag of $3500 dollars for a new compressor. After the convulsions stopped, we started to talk about how we would pay for something so expensive. We aren’t rich, and we really didn’t want to deplete what little savings we had, so I robbed a little from my 401K. I’m not sure what else we could have done, we can’t survive the summer without A/C, we may be wimps, but we are damned comfortable ones!
I’m sitting at home right now, all the windows are closed, it’s 80 degrees outside, the blinds are drawn, and $150 worth of fans are causing a small hurricane in my home. There is nothing more soothing, than the sound of 15 fans all blowing at top speed, I’m considering teaching the cats to wind surf, at least make it entertaining. And of course all of this happened, the minute my middle child moved out, and we started the renovate. There’s no stair rail, no carpeting (I’m installing wood floors), the refrigerator stopped making ice, and now the A/C is out. It’s a grand existence, let me tell you.
And the really, really fun part, is we have 7 fish tanks, all with clownfish and various other breeds, some that we have raised ourselves. Fish tanks, especially the Saltwater kind, don’t like to get hot. Bad things happen when they get hot, so not only have we been trying to keep the house cool, we have been caring for the tanks to keep them cool as well.
We told the kids NOT to cook, leave the oven off until the check gets here and we can get the unit replaced, if you cook, you will heat up the house. When we left last night, it was actually cool, we got home and it was a nice cool evening. But the house was still buttoned up tight, and our youngest decided she would cook! So walking into the house was like a sauna, it was so frustrating. So we opened it all back up and prayed for a cool evening breeze…
I wonder if the neighbors can hear me snore from the backyard?
A long time ago, in a place far away, we met some very special people. We shared a love for computers, and all things geek, we never feared being different. We embraced it, and it made us all stronger. It was in that period of our lives that we met Tami, she was dating a co-worker at the time and she quickly became our friend. I can remember sitting over at their house late a night talking about AOL, and the online world and where it was headed. Tami, Michelle, and our good friend Debbie became a trio. To this day I cannot think of anyone who had more fun, got into more trouble, or caused as much angst as those three. What I remember the most is the laughter, over just about everything.
During a time of crisis at my employer, our friendship was directly challenged by management. Michelle in her gentle and kind way, basically stated that they were not just out of line, but had made a grave mistake if they thought they had ANY say in who chose as friends. I’ll never forget the stunned faces, or the sudden shock at being so strongly challenged. Job or not, Tami was our friend, and being falsely accused of things she had no part in. We defended her honor, and they never again challenged us.
On that day our friendship was cemented, she became part of our lives. There are so many moments I remember from those times.
The day Tami showed up in full motorcycle drag, all wrapped in black leather with a black helmet and shaded face shield. She knocked on the door, I opened it and closed it back in her face, being not sure who the hell was at my door!. She knocked again and I opened, by then I had figured it out, and greeted her with a line from star wars. She was thereafter always known as ‘Darth’…
I remember her little postage stamp apartment in Oildale, and the day we spent helping her clean it up, it was disgusting. But we loved her so much we wanted to make sure that she got a chance to live the life she wanted. We felt honored to be able to help someone we cared about so much, we even got her to go to church (though she was sure the place would burn down once she got inside!).
She was there to hold Karan as a small child while Michelle was sick, she ate dinner with us, played with the kids, and ingrained herself into our lives.
Michelle hired her as an assistant in her Dad’s office, I’ll never forget Michelle’s Dad finding her sleeping at her desk!! She was a mess for sure, but to know her was to love her.
When life moved her to Texas and us to Idaho, I was still able to make her laugh from a distance. And I loved nothing more than poking fun at her, every chance I got.
On April 29th of 2012, she was traveling with her boyfriend from Austin, Texas heading to Pennsylvania to see her parents, she had not been feeling well for a few days. She made it home, but not alive. She passed away while riding in the truck.
Michelle and I have an empty place in our hearts now, we never expected someone so full of life and trouble to go at such a young age. During mass this morning Michelle wept, and neither of us could talk to the Father without tearing up. At 10:30 mass today, they said a prayer for her. We lit a candle in her honor and prayed that God would show his overwhelming mercy and grace on someone who struggled to find her place in this world, something that the ancient generations of Christians did as well. If our Father in heaven is anything like what I read scripture, then he will show mercy for her soul, and Michelle and I will meet her again.
We miss her so much, we loved her dearly, and we pray that her family has the strength to get through this.
Tami, Darth, The Dark One, who graced our lives, made us laugh, made us cry, drove us crazy, and became part of our family.
We love you, me miss you, we will see you again.
It’s beginning to look like spring in Idaho, and that can only mean one thing…
Michelle and I did an early Mass, then stopped at iHop to have some breakfast. This has become our normal Sunday routine, the kids normally sleep in so we take advantage and spend some quality time together, and forcing a teenager to attend Mass when she’s not sure about this whole Catholic thing is NOT a good idea.
Anyway, so we collected up our youngest and headed out to Lowes (she needs the driving experience, and I enjoy the thrill of blood curdling terror when she’s behind the wheel), now let me get this out of the way: I like going to Lowes. They have great stuff for fixing up your house, and more items than any normal human can possibly need. But as we entered the door we where greeted by a friendly employee wanting to offer assistance in our shopping needs. I build guitars, have a fully stocked woodeworking shop, and I’m pretty handy in a pinch. So you can imagine that I don’t need any stinking help, I am a man, and I can find my way around just fine, thank you very much.
So we declined, and where promptly greeted by two more helpful employees. We again declined, and moved on to the first item on our list, only to run again into another helpful employee, another offer declined. By this time my hands where full, so we headed to the front of the store to get a cart, and again had another offer for help. it was at this point we started picking isles that looked to be free of overly helpful employees, especially the ones who seemed to be tracking our every move, which was a bad strategy. Somehow, they can sense a customers presence and show up to make sure that you are finding what you are looking for. We did discover that even if consumed with lost and helpless people, they still somehow where able to call other helpful employees to come and be more helpful. I started having visions of being surrounded by helpful staff members and us beating them off with a set of venetian blinds, and cleaner fluid from isle 12 (its down on the left side, near the bottom).
No strategy seemed to be effective, outnumbered, unable to find clear isles to shop, we obtained what items we could and headed to Home Depot (like idiots) to pick up the supplies that Lowes didn’t have (I’m very picky about sandpaper, and ONLY use a certain kind. Hey I build guitars, I earned the right be picky!). Imagine my horror when we appeared at the front door going into Home Depot and where greeted by an employee who’s only job seemed to be to help lost customers find there way through 299 acres of home improvement goodness!, I almost bolted back to the truck. But once past the gatekeeper, with a firm decline to the help offered. We got through fairly unscathed, with only a few offers for help from the hordes in orange. We purchased our items and headed home to barricade the doors and hope that no more helpful zombies followed us home.
A couple of years ago, I was building a jig for the shop and stopped at the local Ace Hardware. They apparently had adopted a similar strategy of aggressive helpfulness, to the point that while looking at parts we had an employee actually stand a short distance away and watch our every move. If we moved isles, he moved with us, it must be what inmates feel like when being watched by the guards, it was so disconcerting that I stopped going altogether, and wasn’t one bit surprised when the store closed a year later. You can’t freak out your customers, being helpful is a good thing, but if you want to stay in business don’t chase them out the door with zombies who’s only goal in life is to help people.
One has to wonder what these people do in their off-time, do they drive around looking for little old lady’s crossing the street?, do their neighbors hide in their homes until they go to work? It all seems a little creepy and disconcerting to be honest. And the scariest part is that I have to go back, because I need lumber. I know I’m going to be swarmed, but there aren’t many other options. I don’t want to be rude, I just want to shop in piece, especially when I’m part shopping. Maybe I’ll forgo bathing for a week and then go shopping!!!
As the economy continues to go under, it seems that marketing people are getting desperate and that being super helpful is the new thing for large companies. So if your one of those people who make those decisions, go into your stores and just try to buy something when you know what you need. I dare you, I dare you to walk away without feeling like the store is filled with a bunch of bored employees who’s only goal in life is to make customers uncomfortable. Then tell if you think your strategy is still working!!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, not because I haven’t wanted too. Rather I’ve been so busy with work, kids, life, church and everything else that I simply have not had time. So I’m doing a quick check-in to let everyone know that I’m still around, just heads down with everything going on.
So here’s a quick pass on what I’ve been up to…
I read Thomas Merton’s the Seven Story Mountain over Christmas, every morning I would read a couple of chapters, and the more I read the more I found that I liked Thomas. I struggled when he waxed poetic about the monastic lifestyle, but other than his gushing platitudes about the romance of being a monk, the book was fabulous.
I also just finished reading through the early Church Fathers, it was eye opening and not at all what I expected. After reading so much apologetic work about the early Fathers, it was good to read it on my own without any external input.
I’m currently reading a book called “Why the Catholic Bible is Bigger” by Gary Machuta, I’m very split on this book. It started off very slowly for me, but as I’ve continued to read through it the story and the history has begun to become alive. I can get hung up on grammatical errors, and I loathe apologist who put a gloss on everything, Machuta does a good job of presenting his material. It’s a recommended read, just stick out the first two chapters and I promise you will be hooked.
Another birthday came and went, I’m a year older, but not much wiser. Some days I feel my age, and others I forget concerns like age and just enjoy being me…
In other news from around the Globe….
So Obama is finally showing his true colors, his take on forcing contraception onto health providers is just the tip of the iceberg. While I don’t fully agree with the Catholic Church’s position on contraception (I believe it should be allowed in some cases, much like the Orthodox church teaches), I find it draconian for our government to force it’s secular views onto religious organizations.
I know this is not a popular opinion, but I really like Newt Gingrich, he has his faults like all of us do. But he has experience, strength, and the intelligence we need so badly in our leadership at this point in our history.
Other things I’m up too…
We have been watching lots of T.V. lately, Alcatraz, Fringe, Grimm and Once Upon A Time are favorites. And as superficial as this sounds, we are very much enjoying American Idol and The Voice this year. We use T.V. as way to blow off steam after long and stressful days.
We have been working on building an area in the garage to grow food for the fish, that’s taken a few weekends. It feels good to be back out and working with my hands again, the more I have to think critically at work, the more I find that WoodWorking gives me a great release.
That’s all for now, dinner is calling…
I’ll update when I can.
Michelle and I elected to support a family for thanksgiving this year, we are buying the entire meal so they can have a proper thanksgiving, we are more than happy to share what we have been blessed with. In fact we have enough store credits that we are getting a second bird for another family, it’s a small thing but hopefully will help someone in need and brighten their lives. We also give clothes and other items when we can to the local charities, and I love shopping there to give back. We very much believe in giving and sharing to those who truly need it.
But with all the sharing that goes on this time of year, there is a darker side that no one talks about…
I work for a company who pushes community involvement in all it’s forms, on the outside it’s all about helping the community, and a great effort. But the inside reason that no one talks about is that to be quite frank, it’s good and cheap PR. I’m OK with the communal aspect, I just wish they would be honest about the PR portion, instead of spinning it as if it’s something different. I’m quite sure there are people who are gullible enough to buy into each glossy advert and declare it’s purest intentions, and there are those who understand what is going on and join anyway . I’m actually OK with that, what I’m not OK with is tweaking the corporate culture to make anyone who does not participate to be guilty of apathy.
Charities and corporations have become experts at playing the guilt card, I recently saw a message that basically told managers to make sure their people got involved in the giving. The implication was that anyone who wasn’t participating, somehow didn’t care and should be singled out. There is a simple reason that they take this tactic, it works. Guilt is a strong motivator in our society, anyone remember carbon credits? the idea was that you gave money to offset your carbon production habits, and the offsetting would make the world a better place. Never mind that the money actually didn’t go to any other purpose than to line someones pocket, and fleece those unwitting enough to actually pay for their guilty conscience.
In the past few months, I have been solicited for just about everything anyone could possibly want:
- I’ve been asked to bring in a meal for needy families at work
- I’ve been asked to help rake up leaves all over the community, including ones that are not my own (and my own kids won’t do our lawn, but will do the neighbors)
- I’m supposed to bring in canned goods
- I’ve been asked to help paint houses
- Give Blood
- Join in causes for green gardening
- Carpooling with other employees
- Riding my bike to work
- Use energy efficient light bulbs
- Attending meetings on green energy
- Giving to multiple funds for multiple people
- Walking for a cure to multiple causes
- Give to multiple political causes
- Donate my car for a cause
- Bell ringers at each storefront
- The pet store wants me to give for the humane society
- Girl scout cookies (even to the point of setting up a cheering section at the corner of an intersection, to bring people in)
- Stores now solicit charity from me for extra $$$ on every purchase
Then at my front door (I have a sign that says ‘No Soliciting’ by the way):
- Meat from a truck at my front door (seriously!, I had to tell him to leave finally)
- Cookies (ok they always get money)
- School events
Every place I turn, no matter where, I get asked to give something (usually money). I’m not saying these are bad things (however the Girl scouts should sell gym memberships with their cookies, cause I eat too many every year), but it is completely overwhelming. When I worked in San Francisco, they started the idea of ATM machines that would advertise while you waited, gladly that one hasn’t gone viral.
It’s all reaching a saturation point, and each year I feel a little less sympathy towards these causes. And I get honestly rude over some of the more esoteric ones, like giving from my paycheck to save the whales!. Its all so aggressive and over the top that its hard to even figure out which ones are valid, and which are just a front to line someones pocket.
When the kids where younger I had a showdown with their school over their fundraising, they wanted to kids to sell what I will call Christmas crap, bobbles and other worthless items. And they wanted the kids to canvas the neighborhood, I told them no. If you need money, I’ll write a check, because I would rather you have the money than have 200 kids pestering a neighborhood so they can win a worthless prize (trust me this stuff was all junk). And I’m not sending my kids to school so they can graduate and become door to door salesman!!. They where shocked!, they didn’t understand. How could someone be so, so, heartless. I wondered how someone could be so dense as to think this was a good idea?, if the school needs money then there are better ways to actually help the community, and teach kids to be responsible than sending them out to knock on doors armed with a magazine full of stuff that only carnivals would be able to dump.
Another good example is in our community the firemen do a bi-annual event where they ask you to fill a boot for charity, it’s a great cause! But the way they do it is that they take over EVERY stop light in and out of town. They walk up and down the line of cars begging for money. So not only do you have to wait an extra long time at the light (sometimes making you late), but you get to feel guilty at the same time, Yay Charity!! I give some every year, and two weeks later every year I end up with a sticker that I have to scrape off my window (my reward I suppose). Because if I don’t give them something, they won’t leave me alone. I guess they feel the need to go commando and force people to notice them by taking over the traffic for a day…
If if gave to every effort that we came across we would need to join the programs so we could feed ourselves!! It’s like being locked in a hotel with a bunch of starving Fuller Brush salesmen, no matter where you go, you can’t get away. After a while you just go numb…
Haven’t we taken this whole community thing a little too far? One problem I have always had with charities and programs is that in many cases they make the needy more dependent. I’ve known people who are happy to live off of people too dense to make sure that the person they are giving to is actually needy, they have no shame and figure they system owes them something, and the world is full of people who spend all their time giving what they have to make themselves feel less guilty.
Giving is about blessing someone, it should come from a desire to help your fellow man, not to assuage the guilt some marketing dweeb is heaping on you. The world will always have zealots who pick a cause, and do everything in their power to make you feel guilty. Look at any animal shelter or PETA commercial, you get pictures of soft puppy eyes, terrible situations involving animals, a moving and sad dialog, moving music. And some dweeb celebrity who feels guilty because they make more money in a day, than most of us see in a lifetime. I especially despise the ones who talk about animal adoption, aren’t human children worth more to these people? Why not adopt a child?, or help with programs that help children? (to be clear some do). I love animals, we raise fish, have cats, dogs, and chickens. But animals are easy, you can objectify them, children take real commitment. You can leave your pet while you go out and live your life, but a child requires around the clock care, no wonder so many shallow celebrities choose that as their star cause. It feeds their neurosis and doesn’t require a life change.
So here’s my advice:
If your not giving freely and cheerfully, then don’t give. Certainly don’t let someone swindle you out of money because they can make you feel guilty.
If you are unsure of where your money is going, ask before you give.
Give because others needs it, and because you feel compelled.
Be responsible, make sure your efforts are not going to waste. Give to established organizations who make the most of what they get, beware of corporate organizations, some actually use their money wisely, some don’t. Find out before you give.
If you really feel bad because that bell ringer is getting on your nerves, and the guilt is killing you (just ask the girl scouts how many cases we have purchased). Then set aside a small fund and keep it on hand. That way you can give a little, make them happy and make you feel better.
And never give money directly to someone unless you know them, money given to the homeless many times gets used in ways you would not be happy with. Responsible charities have this all worked out, and make sure that the truly needy are getting much needed supplies.
Now get off my lawn!!!
It’s finally fall, the leaves are turning, the air is crisp. The car was covered in ice this morning, and I got to wear my favorite wool jacket (it’s the little things that count). I’ve been thinking about the blog for some time, it’s really unfinished and needs some TLC. So I’m committing to writing once a week at the least, updating the site and getting everything where it needs to be. Devin Rose was going to comment on my review of his book, but comments aren’t working, not sure why since they seem to be turned on.
So I’ll spend some time this week monkeying with everything, there is a new WordPress version out (when isn’t there anymore), I’ll install that, upgrade the other pieces and hook this up to twitter and Facebook. I’m also going to add a section about clownfish and raising marine aquatics, because it’s something I love to do and I have a lot of information that could be helpful to others who are breeding marine animals.
I’m also going to add a section for people who have questions about the Catholic faith, but are not sure where to turn. For us it seemed like a long painful process, Michelle told me yesterday how mad I made her at times when I wouldn’t take any of our Protestant beliefs on faith anymore. I never realized that I frustrated her so much, especially while attending the reformed church. The more I dug into the actual theology of the elect and the reprobate, the more frustrated she got. She was willing to take it on faith, I was not and followed it all the way to its dark conclusion. It’s what drove us from the church. I suppose that’s a story I need to share in detail, I’m not an apologist or theologian. But I have over the years been involved with most of the main Protestant faiths, the experience led us finally to Rome. I also need to explain to my family just why I actually converted, because I am miles apart now from where everyone else is, and I have yet to really testify why.
The only kink in my plan is school, I don’t know why, but logic is the hardest things I have ever done. I get the principles, I get the point, but doing a 6-9pm class every wednesday night is murdering my brain! And I find the homework so tedious, the book is way too wordy. So in frustration I hired a tutor, I’m hoping he can help clear the confusion.
Cheers for now… More to come..