Category Archives: the good kind

The day I’ll always remember

Only for my family it’s today, December 22nd, and not September 3rd.

Oct 25, 1949 - Dec 22, 1991

I am not sure how others may feel when losing a parent at a young age; for me, the absence is always there. In the beginning this was “standard” personal grief, five-stages stuff, but as I’ve grown older and become a father as well, it’s less overt. It strikes me more that I’m not just missing him, directly, but missing him in relation to everyone else I love. Things are subtly out of context because he’s not with us.

For example, my son has his Baba, my wife’s dad, and each loves the other dearly. It’s a blessing and a great joy. Watching them, sometimes, the absence will suddenly poke up from the background and make itself known: my son doesn’t have both Babas there. I have no doubt that Dad would have doted to distraction on The Lad, as he would have done to my sister’s son.

My father was not one to be uninvolved. I think he would have enjoyed talking shop with my wife’s father, chatting about families, retirement, politics. I picture him still drawing, only now putting the stuff up on Instagram; getting after me to write more; finding a part-time job somewhere to enjoy during his retirement. He’d be amazed if he came back now to learn that they made three more Star Trek series, five more Star Wars films, and that my Atari 2600 games had eventually morphed into near-photo-realistic experiences, influenced heavily by the mainstreaming of anime – which he only saw on the fringes of popular culture, or else in dumbed-down, highly-edited versions for children such as Battle of the Planets, Star Blazers, or Speed Racer.

In our family he was the “everyday” cook – Mom handled holidays for the most part, and the rest of the time Dad was playing culinary Frankenstein, cadging ingredients into an impromptu family dinner. It’s been a long time since we’ve done that, and not just because all three of us kids are adults now.

He’d be stopping by during the season, jibing me for going over the top with holiday gift-giving while steadfastly forgetting that he’s the source of that habit of mine; in turn we’d tease him because his normal gruff baritone became a Michael McDonald falsetto whenever he sang. And he would laugh and sing anyway, because he loved music and it was nearly always playing in our home. He probably would have bought one of the earliest iPods and kept up with the technology the whole time, while figuring out a way to get all his albums, cassettes, and 8-tracks digitized – because why should you pay for it all twice?

I am now two years and several weeks older than he was when he passed away, twenty-five years ago today.

Here’s to you, Dad.

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Going down the valley one by one

I hate weeding through the blogroll, because it reminds me of great reads gone by, that are now bygone. Join me while I raise a glass to three more blogfriends who’ve moved on to bigger and better things:

Tracey of Beyond the Pale – a fine writer, a finer friend. Her honesty and skilled wordsmithing caused her real-life grief from small-minded busybodies, one of the many reasons why I have such a strong dislike of Gatekeepers, self-appointed taste arbiters, and buttinskies. One of my blog highlights (thankfully still there!) was winning a pound of (quite good) decaf coffee (I know, but IT WAS) and a commemorative to-go cup in one of her Best Thing Ever blog contests.

Her archives are still up, so read them. It was a great group of e-migos. Long live the Sudden Yurt Commune.

Cara Ellison – her personal blog went through a few iterations, one of which says that “after a day or two” she’ll be back. It’s dated September 1, 2014. But the lady is a professional writer, so will I gripe if we’re not getting tons of free content? Nope.

Her Amazon author’s page suggests a couple of other ways to look in on Ms. Cara. The Twitter option seems to be a no-go now, however. Searching for Cara Ellison leads to a Scottish lady who also writes and who I do not think is the same person.

The Judge Report – Robert Going, Red Sox fan and author, kind enough to send along a signed copy of his book The Eagle Has Landed to my Ladybug. He wrote a long series of livejournal posts on notable citizens of his hometown, Amsterdam NY, who had served in the US Armed Forces – a passion project of his – but has posted nothing online that I can see since November of 2014. He also did a podcast with friends of his, but again, I see no activity on that front either, unless I have snafu’d my searches (and that is a distinct possibility).

Stepping into these breaches in the sidebar are:

Don at Zoopraxiscope – his original site was in my original sidebar at Hive 1.0, so I’m glad I came across his trail again.

John C Wright – why yes, he is another professional author. Currently he’s part of some ginned-up notoriety, since his works were championed as quality science fiction writing by All The Wrong People, which led no less than George “Not J” R.R. Martin to counter-campaign in favor of torpedoing the entire Hugo Awards last year. I wrote about the whole moronic business, directly and indirectly, several times over the past year. (Have I mentioned my strong dislike of Gatekeepers?)

Do check them out, and thanks for the few faithful holdouts who still stop by.

This is magic

Come for the Cardinals baseball… stay for the Lord’s Own Hockey.

(language alert!)

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Housekeeping

Lately there’s been a lot going on, so I’ve been confining myself to 140-character snippets. But you will have to concede that we’ve had a good reason.

20130901-133813.jpg

Here. This is your new human. Good luck!

Grub is doing great in his first ten hours. Ladybug and I are thrilled, as you could guess, but getting ready has been an intense ride, one that we were forced to rush at the end – Grub’s a couple of weeks early.

Love you, little guy.

I think I may have found the inventor of glurge

The term “glurge” was invented (if memory serves) over at Snopes.com, to describe the treacly and cloying faux-inspirational stories found in chain emails.  If it’s got angels, wild coincidences (OR ARE THEY???), and a plea to forward the story to 15 people or all your geraniums will die in a fire, then it’s glurge.

Ah, but who invented glurge itself?

Well, before email chains, these were the sorts of sentiments you’d find chain-stitched and framed in the parlors of elderly relatives, or clipped from magazines and taped up on refrigerators or in scrapbooks.  Therefore, I reason that the inventor may have been one of these magazine editors or publishers.

Well, while bouncing around the archives of the blog Tenth Letter of the Alphabet, I came across this post, the wonderful lettering of a gentleman by the name of F.J. Trezise. Turns out that Mr. Trezise was closely associated with a trade magazine called The Inland Printer back around the dawn of the 20th century.  (The magazine still publishes today under the title of The American Printer and Lithographer.) And a lot of the work was to letter the epigrams of one A. H. McQuilken, Editor.

You really should visit the above link and read them in their original published form.  It’s incredible stuff. Not exactly glurge, per se, but there’s a closely-related field, greeting card philosophy, that plagues us to this day.

A search for more information reveals that Mr. McQuilken had previously published something called The Journal of Tuberculosis, “A Quarterly Magazine Devoted to the Prevention and Treatment of Tuberculosis,” at the very close of the 19th century, and that this august work is available as a collected reprint from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  This search also uncovered folks such as Rear Admiral John H McQuilken, who reformed the US Navy in the 50’s; former NFL quarterback Kim McQuilken

…and a certain Dr. Robertson McQuilken, “a man of passion” according to this YouTube video, and the author of several inspirational, Christian-centric books.

One would have to read them to decide if these are glurgy or not.  And of course, there have been plenty of powerful true stories that have been glurged by well-meaning believers, quite without the consent or even knowledge of those involved.  I’m inclined against, based on a bit of reading about the man for the past 45 minutes.  He traveled as a missionary to Japan, for example, and that hasn’t always turned out quite so well.*  And there’s another video that popped up in the sidebar at YouTube that I simply must watch next: “Pat Robertson vs. Robertson McQuilken on Alzheimer’s and Marriage.”  May it fulfill all my fondest hopes and wishes.

* The anime series Samurai Champloo has an entire episode devoted to Japanese Christians, a false priest pretending to be a descendant of St. Francis Xavier, and the practice of “fumie,” where people trampled on Christian icons to prove that they weren’t believers.

So it appears that the title of this post is premature… the search for Patient Zero of Glurge goes on, though Mr. A H McQuilken appears to have a very low degree of separation.  Luckily, it’s a trail that leads through a lot of unexpected and fascinating territory.

A smile for your afternoon

Katie was lost… and then she was found.

(hat tip to Laura’s sidebar at FM²)

The Tech in Black

This little fun tidbit crossed my Twitter Timeline, courtesy of Friend o’ the Hive Sheila O’Malley:

My Help Desk guy’s name is Johnny Cash. I can’t help but say his first/last name. “Johnny Cash, hey, something’s up with my Outlook …”

So of course, fun things encourage playing along…

Well, my boss left the company when I got hired
Gave me a cubicle and then retired
My training was a stack of post-its in a drawer
Now I don’t blame him that he run and hid
But perhaps the meanest thing he did
Was before he left, he hung “IT” on my door

I never knew a thing about computer stuff,
So a lot of folks made it mighty tough
It seems I’ve had to fight the whole day through
Somebody would giggle when the printer jammed
Some fool would crash the network with Porn on Demand
Lemme tell you, life ain’t easy for an IT dude

I learned PCs and I grew a thick skin
You’ll get it fixed when I say when
As I roam from floor to floor to repair the probs
And I made me a vow to the moon and stars
That I’d search the chat rooms, Twitter, and blogs
And kill that man that gave me this awful job

Now you might wonder why I didn’t quit
But times were too hard to spit the bit
So I worked hard to learn all about PCs
And then one night, working overtime
From the corner of my eye, who comes online
But the mangy dog who made me work IT

I knew right away it was my old boss
From the IP address he used, of course,
And his avatar was the same from times gone by
He was crude and loud and a snobbish scold
So I logged in quick, and my blood rUn cold
And I Twittered – “How you be? I work IT! NOW UR GONNA DIE! #revenge”

So I blocked his feed before he could hide
And his email went down, but to my surprise
He come right up with a DoS attack
I rebooted and hacked him live
Crashed through the firewall and into the hard drive
Coding and uploading till both our screens went black

I tell you that I’ve fought tougher hacks
Though I can’t remember that far back –
He phished like a pro and spammed like a Nigerian Prince
I saw him LOL and I saw him WTF
Went for his antivirus, but I booted mine first
And after a minute, I saw “colon-parenthesis”

“Kid,” he texted, “Times are rough
If you want to make it you’ve got to be tough
And I knew a typical degree wouldn’t last you long
So I give you a tech job and said good luck
I knew you’d grow unique skills or bust
And it’s those l33t skilz that’s helped to make you strong!”

“Now I know ur h8in, but why you mad?
It’s not the worst job you’ve ever had
And if you want to you could brick my PC
But you ought to thank me before you do
For your HTML and coding-fu
‘Cause I’m the lousy cuss who put you in IT”

What could I do? I got choked up, shut down my hack
Erased the virus and gave his passwords back
And I come away with a different way to see
And I think about him, here and there,
When I squash some bug or scrub malware
And if I hire a guy, I think I’ll…
SEND HIM TO MARKETING! I STILL HATE THIS JOB!