Letter to my Uncle Lorell who is dying

September 3, 2011


Dear Lorell,

When I was a kid there were few things I liked more than going to my uncles’ farms. Being a “city slicker” (as my classmates often called me), the farm was a completely different world to me. When I visited my Uncle Merlin’s farm it was mostly about hanging out with my cousins who were close in age to me, but when I visited your farm, it was always about you and I spending time together. That is a gift that I will always treasure.

One time when I was there “helping” you, we tried to take a dent out of the local rat population. I’ll never forget when you lifted up a piece of plywood (or maybe it was corrugated tin) that was laying behind the big machine shed. The plywood was laying on a small pile of corn and when you lifted it, it revealed several rat “tunnels” and the rats inside them. I was surprised but you were not because you had a gun and started shooting the rats as they scurried away. Guns, rats, tunnels – everything about being on the farm was so cool.

You’ve always been there. You were at Grandma Christensen’s for all those Christmases with the toys in the bedrooms and the money in the envelopes. And you were at Grandma Ring’s for the oyster stew. I remember sitting in that little living room watching Vitas Gerulaitis play tennis and you laughing when I joked that his name sounded like a disease. Harold was there. And my dad. And Gene.

So many memories I have of you and so little time to tell you about them. You kept your golf cart in Grandma Ring’s garage. You drove that giant green Cadillac. You visited me at my first house in Portland. Remember? You got lost and I told you “find the first bridge you see and cross it.” I was so sad to spend what I thought would be our last birthday together three years ago but now I’m so glad that you have had three more years in this world. I’ve never had a birthday where I didn’t think of you. And I never will.

As I sit here with all these thoughts and memories swirling through my head, I’m desperately trying to figure out how to end this note to you in a meaningful way. I suppose that life mostly doesn’t come to an end in a dramatic or meaningful way so perhaps I should just end this by saying that I thank you for your many kindnesses towards me over the last (almost) 45 years and that I think you’ve been a good uncle and a fine man. I also thank you for my double cousins without whom my life would be lesser. I hope that you reach the end of your days peacefully and without regret. And I love you.


Peeping from behind every window pane

I find myself in Foster City once again at EFI headquarters. I’ve been moved to another team again so I’m here familiarizing myself with the tool set and meeting the other team members. I’ll be here until Friday night.

Working from home has been better than I expected. Even though I’ve been very busy, I get to choose the times when I work and the times that I don’t. That means when I feel like doing a couple of hours in the evening, it’s no big deal. Or if I have to run some errand in the afternoon. So far I feel like I’ve been pretty productive and my new office feels like a cockpit controlling my working world and it has to do with the decoration I put on it, including windows with motorized blinds so I can control it from everywhere I’m with my phone. I’m sure I’ll write more on this later. I bought Hunter Douglas honeycomb shades and saved a ton of money on my electric bill right away.

Continue reading “Peeping from behind every window pane”

Memories of Nietzsche

A year ago our cat Nietzsche died soon after we returned from our vacation in the Midwest. One thing I realized after it happened is that although many people may have met or known Nietzsche, the only people who really, really knew him were those of us who lived with him: Tina, Thomas, Graham and I. Consequently, we all shared in the private pain of his loss – a pain that nobody else outside of our family can appreciate in the exact same way that we do. Nonetheless, as a final act of farewell, I thought I would share some of my memories of Nietzsche’s life.

Continue reading “Memories of Nietzsche”

Ida Mae Russell Sills: Rest in Peace (and laughter)

Various sites on the internet are proclaiming this to be the best obituary ever written. Here’s a choice excerpt:

Ida developed a cold that progressed into pneumonia. Now Ida was a smoker. She said “to quit smoking well that’s easy. I ought to know. I have done it a thousand times” but the years of smoking left Ida’s lungs damaged and beyond repair. On this Good Friday March 21, 2008, Ida Mae Russell Sills slipped away and joined her beloved daughter in Heaven. Fortunately her husband Albert preceded her and joined his mother in a much warmer climate.

Despite the Onion-like quality, this is a real obituary.

Henry Hyde died

I rejoiced when I saw this story on CNN about the recent passing of Henry Hyde. Back when the House voted to impeach President Clinton, I noted the names of all those that led the fiasco: Bob Barr, Trent Lott and, more than anyone else, Henry Hyde. However, when I perused the Wikipedia article about Hyde, the Lewinski scandal was not the only misdeed in his political career. He also:

  • Said that the Constitution’s demands concerning the declaration of war were “anachronistic” and “inappropriate.”
  • Attributed his extramarital affair with a married woman to “youthful indiscretion.” He was 41 at the time of the affair.

Republicans are supposed to be “strict constructionists” and “family values”, right?

Deadly hearse

Deadly hearse
Originally uploaded by rynosoft

Before I left for work this morning, I read this story of a couple who killed themselves and their little girl with carbon monoxide poisoning yesterday. As you might imagine, I have a personal interest in carbon monoxide suicide so I rode by on my way to work. I was surprised to find that they had set out their trash and recycling before going through it.