Remembering Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy passed away ear­li­er today. If you asked many peo­ple, they might tell you that they hear Mor­gan Free­man’s voice in their head when they imag­ine the voice of God. To me, it will always be Leonard Nimoy. That placid, chain-smok­ing-induced growl that, in part, made Spock such a won­der­ful char­ac­ter of his fills me with awe.

Hipster Spock

As a child, in addi­tion to Star Trek reruns (both the orig­i­nal series and the ani­mat­ed series), I grew up watch­ing Nimoy host Nick­elodean’s Stand­by: Lights, Cam­era, Action!. That show was a won­der­ful look at how movies are made. Nimoy was a won­der­ful host, engag­ing in demon­stra­tions of spe­cial effects and occa­sion­al gags. His love of movies was evi­dent. In a time before the inter­net, Wikipedia, and movie blogs, it was a source for me to learn about movies, actors, and direc­tors. In fact, it was there that I first learned1 that the orig­i­nal Star Wars were the mid­dle piece of a larg­er tril­o­gy, and some­day there would be pre­quels (before the word pre­quel exist­ed, even, I think) and sequels2. I also learned about Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and the Klin­gon lan­guage from the same show. Of course, that film was direct­ed by Nimoy, who’s involve­ment in movies and tele­vi­sion grew beyond act­ing.

It’s said to nev­er meet your heroes, as they will only dis­ap­point you. How­ev­er, I do tru­ly regret nev­er hav­ing had to the chance to meet Leonard Nimoy in per­son. He tru­ly seemed like a beau­ti­ful per­son in most every way and Gene Rod­den­ber­ry once called him “the con­scious of ‘Star Trek’ ”. A won­der­ful quote from Nimoy:

What­ev­er I have giv­en, I have gained.

It’s very sad to have lost Nimoy but I’m so glad that he was able to con­tin­ue to appear in pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion and films, even up until very recent­ly. His char­ac­ter of Spock is a cor­ner­stone of pop-cul­ture and it’s due almost entire­ly to Nimoy’s act­ing. In a show that is remem­bered for some cheesy plots and ham­my act­ing, as well as some rather uneven movies, Nimoy was a gem in Star Trek. Hon­est­ly, if you can watch the scene of Kirk and Spock in the radi­a­tion cham­ber at the end of Wrath of Kahn and not get choked up, you are pos­si­bly more Vul­can than human:

It’s hard to think of a bet­ter way to remem­ber Nimoy that with a per­for­mance like that. Live long and pros­per.

  1. Well, either there or my Mom, who per­haps also learned it on the same show! []
  2. More recent­ly, JJ Abrams &emdash;who cast Nimoy in his series Fringe as well as bring Nimoy back as Spock in the re-envi­sioned Star Trek films&emdash; has tak­en over those sequel films. In fact, in no small part does the will­ing­ness of Abrams to con­tin­ue to use Nimoy as an actor gives me appre­ci­ate of Abrams’ taste and abil­i­ty to pull off such a daunt­ing role. []

SS Coleman

My father retired from his law prac­tice about a year ago. More recent­ly, he and his wife sold their home and moved west to Arkansas. In this process, he’s been try­ing to both down­size their house­hold as well as get rid of many years worth of office items. My broth­ers went to help clean out a stor­age unit a cou­ple of months ago and returned with one of the ’50s-era, met­al office desks that my father had in his law office.

Metal Desk

The desk is bat­tle­ship gray, with quite a few dings and scratch­es. How­ev­er, it’s very stur­dy (as it’s made of approx­i­mate­ly 1,000 tons of sheet met­al) and still in pret­ty good shape. The dam­age it has is more along Wabi-sabi1 than dis­re­pair, so I’m okay with it for the most part.

This, along with a sim­i­lar style desk, were in my father’s office since I was very young. Also, since I was very young, I’ve always been fas­ci­nat­ed with not only space explo­ration and tech­nol­o­gy, but the aes­thet­ic that is asso­ci­at­ed with those things. If you can imag­ine the desk that an engi­neer at either NASA or IBM might have sat at some­time in the ear­ly ’60s, you’re think­ing of a desk like this.

This par­tic­u­lar desk has an inter­est­ing fea­ture where a cor­ner of the desk is low­er than the work sur­face to acco­mo­date a type­writer (no doubt, sized for a 1961 IBM Selec­tric).

Metal Desk: Keyboard Shelf

This desk also has draw­ers (!), unlike my old wood desk. I just need to clean up the glides a bit. I’ve of course nev­er heard a dying ptero­dactyl, but I think I have a very good idea what one might sound like based on the bot­tom draw­er open­ing.

  1. It’s worth not­ing here that my wife does­n’t par­tic­u­lar­ly care for the desk. Prob­a­bly for two rea­sons: 1) She (right­ly) notes that it real­ly does­n’t fit in with pret­ty much any oth­er fur­ni­ture in my office, let alone the rest of the house and 2) she —at some fun­da­men­tal lev­el— does­n’t rec­og­nize the con­cept of Wabi-sabi. That is, not that she does­n’t get the idea, just that in her opin­ion, it’s just wear and tear that should be fixed rather than aes­thet­ic appeal. []

A Decade of Us

This post is a tech­ni­cal­ly a cou­ple of days late for our tenth wed­ding anniver­sary, but you can skip all the stereo­types about the hus­band who for­gets that sort of thing. That’s not at all why it’s late. Rather, Angela and I were off on a fam­i­ly vaca­tion and not both­er­ing to post it to the inter­net (that occa­sion­al­ly hap­pens to me).

Despite the most won­der­ful ten years of my life (and hope­ful­ly Angela agrees on that), we did­n’t cel­e­brate with a fan­cy din­ner. Instead—in the wee ear­ly hours of the morning—we found our­selves shar­ing take-out piz­za in a hotel room bed with our kids while clink­ing cheap-yet-over­priced wine in a pair of plas­tic cups. We decid­ed to take the kids on our first big fam­i­ly vaca­tion and went to Dis­ney World in Flori­da. While not a tra­di­tion­al date, even for us, we’ve always done things our own way and there­fore it seemed fit­ting. Besides, our kids are as much a part of our mar­riage as any­thing so it felt right to include them (though they did­n’t get any of the wine; there was­n’t enough in the lit­tle hotel bot­tle to share). Our actu­al anniver­sary was spent on a long dri­ve home. We joked we’d spend an hour on the road for each year we’d been mar­ried. In a way, also fit­ting as we spent the day after our wed­ding on a long car ride back home to Vir­ginia. I don’t think we’ll try that for any future anniver­saries, though1.

Not to stretch the dri­ving metaphor too far, but it has been an amaz­ing jour­ney these past ten years (and the years togeth­er even before then…). I’ve got a friend and part­ner. Any­time I described a dream of mine, she’s nev­er tried to stop me but instead asked “when do you want to get start­ed?” She’s not only sup­port­ed me but pushed me to always be bet­ter and do more. Every­thing good that has hap­pened to me since we’ve been togeth­er has been in a very large part because of her. To have had a friend like that even for a short time is a gift and she’s been mar­ried to me for ten short years (and two days).

Here’s to ten times ten more, should we be here for so long.

  1. We do plan to go out for a qui­et date night to share a nice din­ner lat­er this evening. []

Looking Ahead into 2012

I tend to write this sort of post every year. It’s not real­ly a set of res­o­lu­tions, just goals. That is, I rarely say to myself “I will do this from now on.” but rather “This is what I’d like to try to accom­plish this year.” Small dif­fer­ence, but prob­a­bly worth not­ing.

So, in no par­tic­u­lar order (though num­bered any­way):

  1. Blog more about the kids

    They’re get­ting old­er and doing more. As Angela not­ed in her remark on Face­book about get­ting a mini­van, it’s just a mat­ter of time until we’re tak­ing them to soc­cer prac­tice.

  2. Become more flu­ent in XML devel­op­ment

    I can still recall the day Jason John­son explained to me about what XML was. It seemed so sim­ple then… Now I’m writ­ing XSL trans­forms as part of my job and con­cerned with infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture. It’s been absolute­ly fas­ci­nat­ing and a way to actu­al­ly do some pro­gram­ming with a real goal1.

  3. Vis­it more fam­i­ly & friends

    Despite every means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that mankind has ever con­ceived, we (our house­hold, that is) still some­how remain out-of-touch with so many of our rel­a­tives. As our kids are get­ting old­er2 we are at a point where we can just do it the old-fash­ioned way and vis­it (no let­ter writ­ing cam­paign just yet, though). We cer­tain­ly have some old­er mem­bers in the fam­i­ly and it would be a shame to some­day have to explain to the kids why they nev­er met.

  4. Cre­ate more

    Pho­tog­ra­phy, videos, writ­ing, draw­ing, and so on. Our daugh­ter has become very inter­est­ed in art and has shown a real cre­ative streak. I remem­ber when I used to just draw,write a short sto­ry, or make up a tune for fun and I need to get back there some­how. Will I end up with dozens of unfin­ished bits? Most assured­ly. How­ev­er, the point to this is enjoy­ing mak­ing some­thing; not nec­es­sar­i­ly the final prod­uct.

  5. Eat health­i­er

    Okay, so I have to admit that this is start­ing to sound like a clas­sic New Year’s res­o­lu­tion. Sure­ly, he’ll men­tion going to the gym more next, right? Of course, los­ing weight may be an added ben­e­fit, but I’m real­ly just inter­est­ed in try­ing out new foods. I’m mar­ried to a real food­ie and it’s real­ly some­thing she loves that I’d like to take a big­ger inter­est in. Cer­tain­ly, I’d like to add in things like fruits & veg­eta­bles that have nev­er real­ly been a sta­ple of my diet3. We’ve always tried out best to cook a lot at home and the kids are start­ing to even get involved. So, as much as it sounds like a sim­ple, shal­low New Year’s res­o­lu­tion, it’s a much a part of the pre­vi­ous goal as it is just try­ing to be healthy.

  6. Exer­cise

    Yes, yes. This guy just does­n’t want to admit he’s make res­o­lu­tions. But Angela real­ly inspired me this past year by set­ting out some goals, run­ning some big races, and doing real­ly well. So, I’ve already signed up for a big half-marathon this year and I’ll try to run at least a short race every month.

So, it all looks a lot like most of my goals for pre­vi­ous years. That does­n’t mean that I nev­er accom­plished those goals; just that they were good ones and worth mov­ing the goal line to get more out of them.

  1. Aside from just learn­ing, which is a good-enough goal; just one that takes a lot more ded­i­ca­tion than I’m usu­al­ly will­ing to throw at it. []
  2. And, oh yeah, that insane­ly nice mini­van. []
  3. I recent­ly tried Brus­sels sprouts for the first time in my life and, man, are they good! []

Mike Rowe on Trade Labor

Mike Rowe of Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel’s Dirty Jobs tes­ti­fied before the U.S. Sen­ate Com­mit­tee on Com­merce, Sci­ence and Trans­porta­tion this past Wednes­day. The entire writ­ten tes­ti­mo­ny is worth read­ing. I can guar­an­tee you that it con­tains the most heart-warm­ing sto­ry of plumb­ing repair you’ll read all day.

I com­plete­ly agree with every­thing he says. Even in a bleak econ­o­my with high unem­ploy­ment rates, our coun­try faces a short­age of skilled labor­ers (which actu­al­ly start­ed long before the econ­o­my tanked and cer­tain­ly did­n’t help pre­vent it). Rowe:

In gen­er­al, we’re sur­prised that high unem­ploy­ment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor short­age. We should­n’t be. We’ve pret­ty much guar­an­teed it.

In high schools, the voca­tion­al arts have all but van­ished. We’ve ele­vat­ed the impor­tance of “high­er edu­ca­tion” to such a lofty perch that all oth­er forms of knowl­edge are now labeled “alter­na­tive.” Mil­lions of par­ents and kids see appren­tice­ships and on-the-job-train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties as “voca­tion­al con­so­la­tion prizes,” best suit­ed for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about mil­lions of “shov­el ready” jobs for a soci­ety that does­n’t encour­age peo­ple to pick up a shov­el.

We real­ly need to re-ori­ent our notion of suc­cess away from how much we have, how much we make, or how lit­tle we have to work for it. The sub­text to the ques­tion So, what do you do? should be what do you do to help soci­ety?. Labor isn’t some­thing to be ashamed of as a soci­ety nor is some­thing we should con­sid­ered rel­e­gat­ed to those less wor­thy. The peo­ple who con­struct and repair our homes, our places of work, and our infra­struc­ture the inter­face between life and civ­i­liza­tion. It’s about time we start­ed tak­ing a lot more pride — as a soci­ety or coun­try — in the class of pro­fes­sions that make it hap­pen.

Per­haps this all sounds a bit hyp­o­crit­i­cal com­ing from a col­lege edu­cat­ed guy and that’s fair enough. How­ev­er, I do what I do because I love it. I’ve always been fas­ci­nat­ed by build­ing things and how things sim­ply go togeth­er. So, as a prod­uct of my envi­ron­ment, I became an engi­neer and now a writer (about engi­neer­ing soft­ware). But I still val­ue every moment that I get to use my hands and some tools to make or fix some­thing. As Rowe describes, those are some of the best mem­o­ries I have and I know that I learn a lot when doing those projects. I also have learned to have a great deal of respect for those who do it for a liv­ing.

An anal­o­gy of where we — as a soci­ety — seem to val­ue trade labor: the phrase chef to the stars seems like a rea­son­able (if not pre­ten­tious) thing to put on one’s busi­ness card or web site. How­ev­er, elec­tri­cian to the stars seems like a joke punch­line (or pos­si­bly a new real­i­ty series on TLC, which I’d argue is the same thing). But, hon­est­ly, what is the dif­fer­ence between the two pro­fes­sions in terms of body of knowl­edge or skill sets? Both require years of expe­ri­ence, appren­tice­ships, and even for­mal train­ing to mas­ter. But the idea of our kids becom­ing a chef seems to have more appeal than an elec­tri­cian because, why, exact­ly? We’ve just some­how decid­ed it’s not as worth and that needs to change.

Twenty Ought Nine — Goals in Review

Well, it has been a real­ly rough past cou­ple of months. We’ve been pass­ing around who-knows-how-many virus­es. We had sev­er­al hol­i­day get-togeth­er with friends and fam­i­ly here at our house (not includ­ing tonight’s NYE par­ty1. Wyatt has learned to crawl, so our lives have only become that much more insane as we attempt to keep him out of trou­ble. I’ve also been in a beard-grow­ing con­test and while you might think not shav­ing would only save me some trou­ble, the efforts to do some cre­ative pho­to doc­u­men­ta­tion have tak­en up a not-so-small chunk of my dwin­dling free time. To top it all off, of the four prod­ucts2 I’m writ­ing for at work, all of them attempt­ed to have releas­es in the same week (imme­di­ate­ly before Christ­mas).

So, excus­es aside, I real­ly want­ed to look back on the goals I set out back in Jan­u­ary on this site to see just how far I got, in terms of my plan.

  • Write More In terms of blog­ging, this is already look­ing bad. I think I had even few­er blog posts here and for Bent­ley than I did last year. I still wrote a lot (did I men­tion all those work projects?), but I can only say I’m dis­ap­point­ed in the lack of online writ­ings.

  • Take More Pho­tographs and Video — This one fared a good bit bet­ter. I don’t know that I took many more gen­er­al pho­tos than last year, but I will say that between a new baby boy and doing Whiskeri­no, I’ve spent a lot more time try­ing to take bet­ter pho­tos.

    Giv­en that the amount of video I shot in pre­vi­ous years amount­ed to almost noth­ing, this was a pret­ty low hur­dle to clear. I did shoot a good bit more video and even shared some clips this year. I man­aged to cap­ture some very won­der­ful moments with both kids and even with some fam­i­ly mem­bers. Most spe­cial to me was that I got to record one of my Grand­fa­ther’s sto­ries dur­ing his vis­it back at the begin­ning of Novem­ber. I cer­tain­ly want to share that with my fam­i­ly and chil­dren (who are far too young to appre­ci­ate that sort of thing). I only regret not doing some more of that.

    If noth­ing else, though, I very proud of this video birth announce­ment we did for Wyatt:

    The Birth of Wyatt Paul from Jason Cole­man on Vimeo.

  • Learn an Object Ori­ent­ed Pro­gram­ming Lan­guage — This one stalled out pret­ty ear­ly on, I must con­fess. It was always some­thing of a low pri­or­i­ty and this sim­ply was­n’t a year to get around to any­thing that did­n’t have flash­ing sirens and flames shoot­ing out of its open­ings. It is cer­tain­ly still some­thing I’d love to pick up again and my O’Reil­ly book isn’t going any­where.

  • Learn to use Reg­u­lar Expres­sions- I real­ly did get into the meat of this one, though. Two of my work projects involved tak­ing a lot of lega­cy con­tent and updat­ing or inte­grat­ing it into new doc­u­men­ta­tion of my own. I sim­ply could­n’t have done the amount of work I accom­plished with­out a tool like RegEx and the util­i­ty soft­ware I used to learn/apply3 it.

    In the com­ing year, I’m going to be get­ting into struc­tur­ing lega­cy con­tent (both my own and that from oth­ers) even more. I’ll be forg­ing a lot of my own path in devel­op­ing doc­u­ment con­ver­sions with RegEx and spend­ing some hours learn­ing even the fun­da­men­tals is going to pay off.

  • Take Ains­ley Swim­ming — We did take Ains­ley swim­ming in our neigh­bor­hood a few times. What’s more, we ded­i­cat­ed a large por­tion of time this sum­mer to tak­ing to a swim safe­ty course. The results were noth­ing short of amaz­ing and I rec­om­mend this to any­one with small chil­dren. We ful­ly plan on tak­ing Wyatt in the next year.

    Ains­ley’s Swim Class from Jason Cole­man on Vimeo.

  • Final­ly Get Some­thing Out of Twit­ter — I real­ly ramped up using Twit­ter this year. I pur­chased Tweet­ie for both the mac and the iPhone and began to fol­low loads of folks, both near and far. Twit­ter also went entire­ly main­stream this past year, which did­n’t hurt in find­ing peo­ple of inter­est to fol­low.

    How­ev­er, Twit­ter has become a dou­ble-edged sword. It makes find­ing and fol­low­ing so much eas­i­er, it has sup­plant­ed blog­ging and feed-read­ing a great deal. It seems I’m not the only per­son who has noticed this, too. Were blogs used to be filled with com­ments and track­backs, now we just get short­ened links via Twit­ter. Link blogs are all but dead now (though for­tu­nate­ly some are still strong, such as Gru­ber or Kot­tke, and oth­er old-timers) as we con­stant­ly are fed a diet of bit.ly links inside of 140 char­ac­ter chunks. I’m not argu­ing that one is real­ly bet­ter than the oth­er and cer­tain­ly blog­ging can be a time con­sum­ing hob­by. But it is impor­tant to acknowl­edge that the way we use Twit­ter can actu­al­ly dimin­ish oth­er activ­i­ties.

  • Run One Short Road Race Per Month — Oh, God, no. That just did­n’t hap­pen. I bare­ly ran at all. That’s not to say I’ve not at least made some effort into get­ting a bit health­i­er (I’m already down about 12 pounds from just three months ago). I ran a cou­ple of races, true, but noth­ing like one a month.

So, there you have it. I’m not dis­ap­point­ed in how things went this year on the whole. I do think I came clos­er my fam­i­ly, friends, and col­leagues; which as I said back in Jan­u­ary, was real­ly the ulti­mate goal here. Two-thou­sand nine was a tough year, but in a far bet­ter way that its imme­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor. It was dif­fi­cult because of the new chal­lenges of a sec­ond baby, new work projects, learn­ing to use (or get more out of) the tools I have. In fact, look­ing back, those are best kind of chal­lenges I think any­one can hope to be up against.

Hap­py New Year and may twen­ty ten be a won­der­ful year for all of us.

  1. Tonight’s par­ty is actu­al­ly going to be kind of a ear­ly event, as we’re get­ting togeth­er to watch Vir­ginia Tech play and, hope­ful­ly beat, the Univ. of Ten­nessee. There will be food and drink, but I sus­pect we won’t last much past mid­night. []
  2. I inher­it­ed a huge respon­si­bil­i­ty in the form of STAAD.Pro’s doc­u­men­ta­tion. I made some great strides in updat­ing it over the past three months but I still have a long road ahead of me. Oth­er than that, I worked on the doc­u­men­ta­tion for our soon-to-be released struc­tur­al mod­el­ing inte­gra­tion toolset as well as the two STAAD(X) Tow­er prod­ucts. []
  3. I pur­chased RegEx Bud­dy about 6 months ago. Even though it was at my own expense, it saved my bacon ten times over and was worth every pen­ny. []

Some Nerd Treasures in the Attic

Pile of Old Disks

We’ve been in Spring clean­ing mode here around the house. Angela went through our old file cab­i­net, comb­ing over records for the past decade plus. We also both chucked most of our papers and files from col­lege. That alone end­ed up being ten box­es to take to the doc­u­ment shred­ding & recy­cling place.

In the process, I end­ed up with a rather large pile of 3.5″ flop­py disks to get rid of. I decid­ed to go through them and copy any files before we had them destroyed. Of course, we actu­al­ly don’t own any­thing with a 3.5″ flop­py dri­ve! Even my old lin­ux box in the garage only has a opti­cal dri­ve. For­tu­nate­ly, Ange­la’s dad has a USB flop­py dri­ve he was able to loan us.

So, in the process of going through some of the disks (many of which includ­ed pro­grams for obso­lete oper­at­ing sys­tems), I man­aged to find a few gems:

  • Lots of pho­tos from around 1998–99, when Angela and were first dat­ing and she was going off to phar­ma­cy school in VA. It prob­a­bly goes with­out say­ing, but we’ve aged a bit in the past decade.
    Our first ever big date, almost 11 years ago.
    Our first ever big date, almost 11 years ago.
  • The first help doc­u­ment I ever wrote for soft­ware. It was for a DOS pro­gram called Plane Frame & Truss (PFT, for short, because file­names back then could­n’t exceed 8 bytes). It is writ­ten in a very snarky voice; prob­a­bly not some­thing I’d try and repro­duce in my cur­rent writ­ing (okay, maybe here):

    How to use Dr. Noel Tolbert’s Plane-Frame-Truss Pro­gram (PFT)
    By Jason Cole­man

    First of all, PFT is not user-friend­ly, regard­less of what Big-Dad­dy-Tol­bert may say about it. How­ev­er, if you are using PFGTAB (the qua­si-graph­i­cal ver­sion), sim­ply read every­thing it tells you until you are more com­fort­able with the pro­gram. The ques­tions the pro­gram asks are not always clear at first, so take your time with them.

    How PFT works: (This is more-or-less from the horse’s mouth)

    This will cov­er, for the most part, how to use the graph­i­cal inter­face, PFGTAB. You have to be at an MSDOS prompt, and not sim­ply in a Win­dows Shell. In a win­dows shell, you can only run a pro­gram once, and then the shell more-or-less quits, and when using PFT, you actu­al­ly have to run two pro­grams con­sec­u­tive­ly. That’s one of the many non-user-friend­ly fea­tures of PFT.

  • The first pro­gram I ever wrote in Visu­al Basic (or any­thing that had a GUI, for that mat­ter). It was a pro­gram for Advanced Mechan­ics of Mate­ri­als grad. lev­el course which would deter­mine the stress­es in a curved beam mem­ber under a spe­cif­ic load­ing. It was­n’t exact­ly any­thing very use­ful (unless you need to design clamps for a liv­ing), but it also did­n’t look too bad for a first attempt:
    Curvbeam.exe's screen.
    Curvbeam.exe’s screen.

So we found a few nerdy trea­sures from our past lives. That’s one of the fun things about clean­ing out so much of that sort of stuff: you find the things that real­ly mean some­thing and can put them some­where you can access, instead of buried in a tomb of junk.

Gary Gygax Passes Away at Age 69

From Wired:

Gary Gygax, one of the co-cre­ators of the Dun­geons & Drag­ons role-play­ing game, died Tues­day morn­ing at his home in Lake Gene­va, Wis­con­sin, accord­ing to Stephen Chenault, CEO of Troll Lord Games. Gygax designed the orig­i­nal D&D game with Dave Arne­son in 1974, and went on to cre­ate the Dan­ger­ous Jour­neys and Lejendary Adven­ture RPGs, as well as a num­ber of board games.

Gygax’s lega­cy is that he helped to cre­ate much of what we now call gam­ing — be it with dice, on a com­put­er, or on a con­sole. His game was played by pret­ty much every­one my age (well, the males, any­way). He cer­tain­ly won’t be for­got­ten.

D&D - Remembering Gary Gygax


Weeks Roll By

It’s a tired cliché of blog­ging: apol­o­giz­ing for not post­ing in so long. The excus­es are always the same, and this is no dif­fer­ent. There has sim­ply been too much going on here take any time to write down [or type — ed.].

The Job

I start­ed my new job at the begin­ning of Jan­u­ary (before the move, for those keep­ing track of such things). I received a warm wel­come (most­ly all by e‑mail) and did my best to get right into things. My posi­tion is sort of a new thing, though, and not per­son­al­ly know­ing peo­ple I was work­ing with made get­ting much trac­tion dif­fi­cult at first. I did fly out to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia1 to meet a num­ber of my co-work­ers and high­er-up types. That proved to be a very good trip and I real­ly enjoyed get­ting to meet all the peo­ple there. I feel con­fi­dent that I made the right choice in this career.

Fly­ing home through Chica­go in the dead of win­ter, how­ev­er, was incred­i­bly dumb. In my defense, it was also not my choice to do so. I sin­cere­ly wish I was able to make my own busi­ness trav­el arrange­ments again.

The Move

As soon as I got back, it was time to try to fin­ish pack­ing the house, get a U‑Haul van, and let the movers do their work. Of course, mov­ing is nev­er sim­ple. This was off the scale, though. Despite the best efforts of many of our friends2 and all of Ange­la’s hard work box­ing stuff in my absence, we sim­ply were not pre­pared for mov­ing when the time came to do it.

I’ll keep it sob sto­ries short, but after rent­ing a sec­ond truck plus tow-dol­ly for Ange­la’s car and putting all of our gar­den­ing and pow­er-tools on a mobile stor­age unit left in Rich­mond and not fin­ish­ing doing touch-up paint in the house before leav­ing, we were still a day late in get­ting out of there. For­tu­nate­ly, every­thing worked out just fine (as life does more than not, thank God). How­ev­er, the last night lay­ing on an inflat­able mat­tress in our house I was so sick to my stom­ach I just could­n’t sleep. To be hon­est here, I think that night I got more plan­ning for the remain­der of the move than I had done in the weeks and months up until that point.

When we final­ly got it all packed up and were ready to leave, a sense of relief swept over me. That real­ly seemed to pick up my spir­its for days to come. I need­ed it, because it was a tru­ly sad moment when we left our keys inside and locked the door of our old home one last time. We loved that house very much and had put a great deal of time and effort into it. In yet anoth­er bout of poor plan­ning, I had packed my cam­era away some­where in our SUV and nev­er got a chance to take one last pho­to. I’ll make it up dur­ing our next trip up there, but I don’t think it’ll mean as much to me.

Then again, as painful as some of the oth­er pho­tos we did take there recent­ly have been to look through, it may be just as well. It real­ly feels like a part of us is gone. Angela and I had­n’t lived in a place for that long since our child­hood homes (both of which are no longer in the fam­i­ly, either). Despite all of us being con­tent where we’re at now, think­ing about what we gave up — hav­ing those friends close by, a home we loved to be at, just liv­ing in Vir­ginia — kind of hurts.

…The New Place

Though it’s tak­en us about three weeks, we final­ly feel like we have a nice home in our apart­ment. Though going from a home of your own to an apart­ment kind of sucks, it was nice to just call up some­one to come fix leaky kitchen faucet — and not have to pay them. Ains­ley made out great, with her new room being more than twice the size of her old one. It feels like most of that square footage came out of our bed­room, though! The best part though has to be the clos­ets.

My God! Clos­ets! Appar­ent­ly, usable clos­ets weren’t invent­ed until some­time after our old house was built.

Even though the dri­ve down was on a nice sun­ny day, the day we end­ed up unload­ing the mov­ing vans into our apart­ment (and garage and stor­age unit…) was cold, wet, and windy. The movers were great, though; and Dave even drove down to help out for a bit. We got it all moved in and most­ly all in the right places. Ange­la’s par­en­t’s came down the next day and stayed with us for the rest of the week. That helped out tremen­dous­ly. Angela and I were able to work while they watched Ains­ley and we were able to unpack bit by bit in the evenings.

We’ve been unpack­ing ever since, it seems. How­ev­er, at this point there is just one last small box of engi­neer­ing books by the door that is wait­ing to make its way down to the garage. Oth­er­wise, there’s lit­tle evi­dence of all the recent tur­moil around our lives.We’ve got some paper­work still to fill out and make it all offi­cial, but we’re Ten­nesseans again.

  1. Orange Coun­ty prob­a­bly isn’t the most scenic part of Cal­i­for­nia, to tell the truth. How­ev­er, it did make a num­ber of Arrest­ed Devel­op­ment jokes sud­den­ly make sense, so I’d say it was worth it. []
  2. I would be com­plete­ly remiss if I did­n’t give a huge thanks to Jason J. for dri­ving that 26′ U‑Haul giant down to TN for us. Just to tell you how much we trust him, we nev­er gave a sec­ond though to the well being of most of our Earth­ly pos­ses­sion being in the hands of a guy whose nev­er dri­ven any­thing big­ger than a fam­i­ly van. Also, Michelle and Robert P. were absolute­ly tire­less. They gave up their whole week­end to help out and were in a good mood the entire time, which is prob­a­bly what kept us sane. Kushal S. also came over to help pack things up. Thanks, guys. []