Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A moment of grief, and of love remembered

So, during my evening commute today, I was going through some playlists on my phone. I came across "Always" by Tony Lucca from the NoiseTrade Summer Mixtape collection.

I've had this collection for a few years, and this wasn't the first time I'd listened to this particular tune. But this evening, it hit me quite differently. Lyrically, it really felt like a message from a parent to a child. Specifically, from my parents to me and my sister.

And, lo, the tears did come.

I might never hear this song any other way again. And that's perfectly all right.

Here are the lyrics:

// I wish I could tell you what's goin' through my mind I wish I could promise it's gonna be just fine one thing's for certain: till the end of time I'm gonna Love you like no one will ever Love you I'm gonna Love you always I wish I could tell you dreams always come true that Lovers and strangers won't ever get the best of you for better or worse now, we always get what's due so I'm gonna Love you like no one will ever Love you I'm gonna Love you always I'm gonna Love you more than words and stars and tears and grains of sand, best I can for good. I wish I could hold you and never let you go I wish I could show you everything you'll ever need to know best I can do is give you freedom to grow and I'm gonna Love you like no one will ever Love you I'm gonna Love you always //
#grief #love #parents #GoodbyeMom #GoodbyeDad #StillSayingGoodbye

Thursday, May 03, 2018

On the Fifth Anniversary of My Father's Death

Dad crossed over at 3:07am on 5/3/2013. In my eulogy for DadI quoted Deng Ming-Dao's meditation on death. On this, the fifth anniversary of Dad's passing, I still find solace and wisdom in those words:
We give death metaphors. We cloak it in meaning and make up stories about what will happen to us, but we don't really know. When a person dies, we cannot see beyond the corpse. We speculate on reincarnation or talk in terms of eternity. But death is opaque to us, a mystery. In its realm, time ceases to have meaning. All laws of physics become irrelevant. Death is the opposite of time. 
What dies? Is anything actually destroyed? Certainly not the body, which falls into its constituent parts of water and chemicals. That is mere transformation, not destruction. What of the mind? Does it cease to function, or does it make a transition to another existence? We don't know for sure, and few can come up with anything conclusive. 
What dies? Nothing of the person dies in the sense that the constituent parts are totally blasted from all existence. What dies is merely the identity, the identification of a collection of parts that we call a person. Each one of us is a role, like some shaman wearing layers of robes with innumerable fetishes of meaning. Only the clothes and decoration fall. What dies is only our human meaning. There is still someone naked underneath. Once we understand who that someone is, death no longer bothers us. Nor does time.
-- Deng Ming-Dao (from 365 Tao: Daily Meditations)

Although he is gone, there are tangible reminders of my father. For example, I usually have at least two of the following items with me on a daily basis:

  • one of Dad's pocket watches
  • some of Dad's ashes in an old film canister
  • Dad's ring

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Remembering 4/1/2013 on 4/1/2018

I haven't been to Prophet or Madman since June of last year. Since then, I've done most of my posting at Bookended by Cats or directly on Twitter. But an anniversary like this moves me to reflect. Five years ago today, April 1 was on a Monday. Easter Monday. It was also my 19th and final day at the Cleveland Clinic with my folks. I would leave on Tuesday (4/2) and return to work on Wednesday (4/3). Dad was stabilized, the doctors were no longer looking for a proverbial silver bullet, and there was a plan to move Dad from the ICU to a Clinic rehab unit and then ultimately to a care facility closer to home. At the time, this felt like a good outcome. It felt like progress. As I look back upon this event with the ... benefit(?) ... of hindsight, knowing what was to come in just over a month, it might be easy to take a darker view of this memory. It can be tempting to connect the news received on that day with the supposed nature of the calendar date itself. So, yes, the irony of receiving hopeful, yet ultimately false, news on April Fools’ Day is not lost on me. But no one, whether in the Clinic or beyond it, was conspiring to deceive us on that day. There was no endgame or "gotcha" moment in mind. Everyone involved was dealing with the best information they had at that time, and there was cause to be hopeful. There was a very real possibility that Dad would make at least some kind of recovery. In the wake of what happened, was that false hope? No. What came later cannot mar the hopefulness and slight relief I felt on this day five years ago. Even though I'm still saying ... #GoodbyeDad. (If you want to read my 4/1/2013 FB post that sparked this reflection, the full text is posted after the jump.)

Friday, June 02, 2017

We'll Always Have Paris?

Justin Trudeau, Canada's Prime Minister, was already trying to recruit tech companies out of Silicon Valley (in the wake of DJT's Muslim, er travel, ban).

 French President Emmanuel Macron is now openly recruiting scientists and engineers who are disappointed with the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

 Do you have any idea what happens to the US economy if a critical mass of those sci-tech folks leave for, ahem, greener pastures? Hint: It's not good.

 Business itself doesn't "make America great again," which is a BS tag line anyway. It's the people who innovate, disrupt, and build upon bold ideas ... well, they LITERALLY make great things! And people who work on great projects are able to recruit more great people.

 So, look at what Canada, France, and Germany are doing. Look at who they are recruiting, and the technologies they are investing in. They will begin to leave America in the dust.

The US is no longer a world leader. World leaders move forward. Not backwards. Hell, you cannot even describe what DJT and the US Congress are doing as "leading from behind." It's choosing to be left behind.

Links: (Troll is gonna troll)

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Quotable | Patriot (Election 2016 Edition)

A Patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.-- Edward Abbey, authoressayist, and environmental advocate (1927-1989)

I posted this Abbey quote at the height of the 2008 election season and on the eve of the 2010 mid-term elections. And it is still relevant today on Election Day 2016. I am not, however, advocating a form of "tea party" patriotism or some progressive agenda. I use the quote as a warning that the "government" is not a monolithic entity. It is comprised of all the following:
  • Elected persons who are members of both major political parties
  • Candidates who are trying to become elected for the first time
  • Candidates who are trying to keep (or regain) political office
  • Lobbyists who work for, and against, parties and candidates
  • Think tanks who examine citizens' behavior and then attempt to mold it toward a certain purpose (without letting those same citizens know they are being subtly manipulated)
  • Members of the media who try to tell us what the government is doing, and sometimes chastise elected officials and candidates, even as they try to court favors and money from those very same officials (or promises from up-and-coming candidates)
  • Individual citizens who vote -- and voting is done directly at the polls as well as indirectly with every dollar a person spends or choice they make.
  So, what exactly is Abbey's patriot defending against? Well, in a word: "us."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

They Crashed the Planes and Changed the Rules

[This my 2010 reworking of a blog entry I originally posted on September 11, 2008]
"They crashed the planes and changed the rules." -- GrooveLilyLive Through This (Are We There Yet?)Are We There Yet?. QMR, 2003

Nine years ago the world changed. You may take that as an overstatement, or, conversely, as overly simple. But wherever you lived at the time, a shift in perspective occurred. That shift was all the more dramatic and palpable if you were a U.S. citizen. I don't want to dwell on the attacks themselves. But I do want to take some time to recall what happened in the wake of that dreadful event. Forget -- if you can, even if for only for a moment -- just forget how you feel about the war in Iraq, conspiracy theories, and Republican versus Democrat (or any other "them versus us" political division). Recall, instead, the great communal sense that slowly seeped into our national fiber even as the weight of sorrow and shock seemed all too powerful and crushing. Remember neighbor comforting neighbor, even in cases where those neighbors had not known each other very well prior to that morning. Remember the outpouring of support and sympathy from around the world. And remember that shared conviction that, although we would never forget the tragedy, we would recover ... grow stronger ... and become ever more connected as a nation.

Are we there yet?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Flashbacks Have Moved!

80s Flashbacks
Are Now At

Well, folks, after a bit of a break -- OK, a nearly two month long break, but a break nonetheless -- I'm back with the 80s Flashback. But I'm moving the Flashback posts to Bookended By Cats which I co-author with @dangrdafne.

The Flashback Archives will stay here for the time being. But if you want new Flashbacks, scamper on over to the other blog. And, if you like geeky, nerdy stuff, then you might want to stick around for some of the other content over there, too.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for April 29, 2016

[Guilty Pleasures - Redux] -- This Flashback was originally posted on 4/12/2013 at 06:54 PM. We all have guilty pleasures, songs we like even though we feel a little embarrassed about it. I'll bet you just thought of two or three of your own guilty pleasures, right? Now, I count more songs post-1990 among my guilty pleasures than within the 80s. This probably seems obvious: It is easy to estimate that more songs were released in the last 20+ years than between 1980 and 1989, and more songs means more candidates for guilty pleasures. So, yeah, there's that. But mostly, if I like a song from the 80s, I'm not embarrassed about it.

Well, mostly.

If you want to know some songs that rank on my list of guilty pleasures, you can read and hear more after the break.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for April 15, 2016

[33 Years of Murmur] -- If you're one of the two people who regularly visit this corner of the interwebz, then you must have noticed: I've been remiss in my blogging duties of late. I won't make excuses, and I won't promise a return to the regularity I previously maintained (a year ago?). but I will offer an explanation. My new day job plus the rapidly approaching end date for current students of the School of Sacred Ministries have combined to consume large swaths of my time. After them, I also have to carve out time to do tech work at my theater. What little time is left, I spend catching up on reading or sitting with my wife to follow our shows. And, trust me, I am very far behind in my reading.

Still, I could not let this week's momentous anniversary go by unremarked.

33 years ago this week -- on April 12, 1983 -- R.E.M. released their debut album, Murmur, on I.R.S. Records. Looking back on that last sentence, I am struck by how much those four boys from Athens, GA, must have liked abbreviations that use punctuation. I did not know about the album until three years letter when, in the first semester of my freshman year at Penn State, I discovered R.E.M. and their first four studio albums. Yeah, I'm one of the reasons R.E.M. is considered a vanguard of "college radio." The band was a huge part of my college experience as well as my first several post-college years. And it all starts with this record.

Given vocalist Michael Stipe's vague elocutions, "Murmur" is probably the best name for this particular record (and a great descriptor for the majority of R.E.M.'s recordings). The folks at Diffuser have said it better than I can with their musings on Murmur's anniversary. So I'll just get right to a few songs now. Did I pick one of your favorites? Well, I didn't pick any singles. If that's a deal breaker, you can just listen to the full album and come back next week to see what I have to offer. Otherwise, read and hear my Murmur selections after the break.