Category Archives: Nuts and bolts

Zach’s journals

I had this idea the other day that I could go through Zach’s journals and make list of all the dates he wrote in them. Then on a particular date, I could put his writing for that day on the blog. I was feeling that perhaps enough time has passed that I could read them somewhat dispassionately.

I forgot how much he wrote.

I just spent almost two hours going through two years of journals – his so-called Statistical Appendices from 2012 and 2013. He had another set of journals under a folder called Corleone. I believe the Corleone files are more work related while the SAs are more personal. basically, all I did tonight was go through each month’s file and make notes of the dates he wrote. I wasn’t trying to read but a few things caught my attention and I did read them.

My current thinking is that if I do something like this, I will only publish excerpts. There are two reasons. One is the sheer volume of material. It’s not uncommon for him to write 3 or 4 pages on a particular day. I’ve done my best to keep the original files unchanged in case someone, someday wants to get a look at Zach unfiltered but for the purposes of this blog I’ll probably do a lot of cutting.

The other reason is that he’s pretty unsparing of feelings. He’s not writing for publication, he’s writing to, well, I don’t know if he even knows. I did see some comments about why he writes as I was blasting through tonight but my goal was to collect dates, not to read critically.

I have two more years of SAs that I will try to get to this week. Then I will compile all the dates into one list. Then, one day when I am thinking about writing, I may look up his entry for that day and work on that instead. I will still write about other things that are on my mind that may or may not be about Zach.

As luck would have it, neither the 2012 nor the 2013 journals have any entries for the 10th or 11th of September. I’ll wait until I’m done then review.

new header

I’m trying out this new header image. I can’t figure out how to crop it better. I’ve had it in my mind for a while. It’s from our trip moving him from Oregon to Baton Rouge.

Here’s the original:

I think I might have a couple more of him with his arms outstretched like this in front of spectacular scenes. Something to look forward to . . .

procrastination

Yeah, wanting to write but not being able to bring myself to it. It happens every so often. I’d guess about half the time there’s a gap of more than 2 or 3 days that’s the reason. (The other times I’m busy with work . . .)

For a moment yesterday I thought I’d gotten myself into working every night this week. Then we (Arno and I) looked again at the schedule and figured out that he could still work tonight and Wednesday nights. I’m covering him on Friday and I’m still going to try to get out of Saturday night.

My flight to Atlanta is leaving at 6 am Sunday. Jeremy will be arriving from Seattle about the same time as me. We will proceed to his house and start loading the truck for the big move. Actually the big move starts for them tomorrow with their flight west.

They have a house rental lined up, Ashley has a job, but Jeremy does not. He’s set himself up as a volunteer with the local fire district and – weirdly, to me – he’s getting some training from them starting Thursday the 29th. That means we’re going to be leaving Georgia Monday morning (probably) and trying to get to the Seattle environs by noon on Thursday. It’s do-able but just barely, especially with only two drivers driving a 26′ bobtail towing an SUV.

We’ll see a lot of Interstate Highway but not much else, I’m afraid. Jeremy tried to apologize to me a couple of weeks ago when this training thing came up. I said, no way. I’m just happy to be part of the party. I never had any plans to sightsee on this trip anyway.

I hope to do some, at least, updates from the road next week.

Zach memorial fund

I checked around and I was surprised to find that I hadn’t mentioned this fund here before. I guess it was kind of passé by the time I started writing here.

In the larger sense, this all begs the question of memorials to Zach. This blog is a memorial. His Hobbes in my bedroom is a memorial. Etc.

Anyway, I happened to think of this fund the other day and today I wrote a check to it. I never saw any accounting of the donations so I hope it’s all legit. Actually, YMCA Storer Camps is legit and so are the people running it so I have no real worries.

The fund honors not only Zach but also his grandfather Clark. It provides money for kids to go to camp (‘camperships’) who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Storer, and Clark Ewing, were huge reasons why Zach was the great person he was.

So if you’re looking for a charity to send money to, consider this one.

Make out checks to: YMCA Storer Camps. Send to Z. Clark/Clark E. Campership Fund, c/o Director Becky Spencer, YMCA Storer Camps, 6941 Stony Lake Road, Jackson, MI 49201

stats

One year ago today I made my first post on this blog. Today my tally stands at 157 posts with 109 comments. A little less than half of the comments are my responses so the actual number of real comments is maybe 60 from a very small number of actual people, perhaps ten.

I would say that’s my only disappointment. I had hoped that my posts would generate some dialogs a lá an online forum but so far that has not materialized. So I just think about the therapeutic aspect of writing and let the other part go.

So over the course of a year, I’ve averaged a post every two or three days. Not too bad. In reality they come in bursts, with dry spells lasting sometimes a week or more. I think about writing for this blog constantly, which is good. usually the thoughts are better written than what actually gets out here. I suspect that’s common. I don’t have any schedule or quotas. Sometimes I wonder if that would be better but mostly I’m ok with the blog being a mirror of who I am: unplanned!

Well, that’s all. I have no intention of stopping. I thank everyone who reads. I will trust that there are readers out there who will ponder upon what I write even when they don’t comment. If not now, then perhaps in times to come. That’s good enough for me.

diaries

At the risk of incurring Sarah’s wrath, I’m going to confess I saw some of her diaries yesterday. Honestly, I didn’t look at them except to determine what they were. I was transferring some of her things stored at my apartment from old boxes into a nicer plastic tub.

The reason this is blog-worthy is that it struck me that all of my kids are writers and that makes me happy. On my front page I make reference to Zach’s prodigious writing being an inspiration. Now I realize that Sarah has written a lot as well. I haven’t seen anything of Jeremy’s writing but I know he’s done a lot.

Last year Mom brought out – I don’t remember why – a diary that my grandfather had written in 1915 of a train trip he took from Denver to southern California. Very little philosophizing, just the gritty details of travel. Great stuff!

It’s an arguable point as to whether pencil or pen on paper has more value than these electronic squiggles. I’m the first to agree that handling the actual paper that my grandfather held had value more than the words themselves. Paper can be free form in a way that is more difficult in e-writing.

It’s all valuable. I treasure those glimpses of my ancestors as I hope my descendants will enjoy a look into my mind, whether it’s this blog or some moldy spiral notebooks. Write on!

annual physical

I had my long-awaited annual physical today. Long awaited because I had a bunch of questions that I’ve been holding on to for several months now. None of them were critical enough to call the doc but they were nagging. No, I’m not going to say what they were except that one was about the headaches.

Dr Amara did not seem worried about my recent spate of headaches. She re-upped my Maxalt prescription without a peep. She ran down the results from my blood work. No surprises. My cholesterol is a little high but my Vitamin D and my Iron are back in the ok range (I’ve been taking supplements). My PSA is low. I’ve lost a little weight since last year but I could lose ten more pounds. And get more exercise . . .

She referred me to a specialist a couple of years ago about my blood counts which have been low. That specialist is out of town this week and I haven’t seen that part of the test results.

Sometimes I think the headaches are more situational. If I’m busy at work it’s less of a problem. If I’m sitting around at home or not too busy at work, I feel that’s when the afternoon headaches creep in. Was I subconsciously worrying about this physical all last week? Or about Sarah being in New York? Or . . ?? I just can’t think of anything obvious. I know I think about writing in this blog a lot and yet I don’t do it very often. There’s some guilt there on slow afternoons. The last few weeks it seems that most of the posts I’ve done are often forced and not as good as I’d like. I put ’em out there because I want to put something out.

I have to accept the fact that this is a blog about feelings and I write about the feelings I have at that moment. Maybe after I do this for ten years or so I can edit it all down to a nice book. Sort of like the guitar solos we hear on records. They sound fresh and improvised but almost always are a result of much trial and error and practice.

SoundBox starts tomorrow for our last go ’round until December at the earliest. I had a meeting with the curator a week ago and hopefully there will be no technical surprises this week.

Stephen King on writing

Following my sister’s suggestion, I got a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing at the library. I’m only a little way into it but there’s already been a couple of worthwhile nuggets. Not enough so far to make me want to buy it, but enough to generate this post.

His first few chapters are what he calls C. V. It’s his own story about growing up with a single mother and writing stories at an early age. He seems to be focused from the very beginning on selling his work. To that end, he emphasizes the importance of rewriting.

I get that, but I’m writing a blog. Isn’t it supposed to be raw? When I start to write a blog post, I usually have the first couple of sentences in my head. I’ve mulled and rewritten, if you will, for a while before sitting down at the keyboard. Once it’s on the screen, though, it doesn’t change much. Every once in a while I read over what I’ve written and decide it’s BS and delete it. Most of the time if it’s on the screen it’s going out to the wide world.

For some reason, even though I’ve been a science fiction fan since I was in junior high school, I’ve never been interested in King’s work. Maybe because I typecast him as a horror writer due to the gory movies made from his books. Honestly, though, I’ve never seen any of his movies so I really don’t know what I’m talking about. Well, I know that his book on writing is the first work of his that I’ve read. Stay tuned.

100

I wasn’t going to post tonight but I logged on and noticed that I’ve done 100 posts since I started last June. Let’s see, that’s in roughly 7 months . . .I’m averaging over 14 posts a month! Wow, that’s better than I thought! I hope all you silent people out there are enjoying what I write. It is therapeutic but I do appreciate positive (or negative, for that matter) feedback.

Carry on.

computers

I’ve been a computer guy for a long time. I actually took a computer class in my first quarter in college in 1971. I was part of a group of stagehands who pooled money to buy a Radio Shack TRS-80 in 1982. I always had the ability to understand how to relate to the machine in such a way as to get productive work out of it. When other people had trouble, I was often the guy who was brought in to figure it out.

So, a couple of minutes ago, I was typing up a post when all the text disappeared. So many times I’ve been on the troubleshooting side and I ask, ‘What did you do?’ and the answer was. ‘I don’t know.’ I always was a little incredulous. How could you not know what you just did?

Well, I just found a key combination that erased 10 minutes of typing and I have no idea what it was. I couldn’t find any key combination that brought it back so I guess it wasn’t too important!

(If it wasn’t a key combination then my mental powers are greater than I thought. I wasn’t really happy with what I was writing. Now I’ve written this instead.)