Ode to my father.

My earliest memories of my father were his stories. Whether they were about Schindterhanas, a young German boy who had adventures around his farm, or about “Agent C-3” the spy, his creativity came out every night.

My father's business skills were well-known. From restaurants like Captain Kidd's Pub in downtown New York City to creating Discotronics, one of the world's first video stores, he was talented at recognizing and taking advantage of opportunities. Even after he retired, he used his business skills to analyze and invest in the stock market.

His talents in art and craft were less known. He once showed me his drawings from his college years: they showed his skill and patience. While he lived in Mexico, he learned to create stained-glass windows. He played the organ well. Music was a constant in his life: often smooth reinterpretations of popular music, but sometimes something more unusual. He once told me that his favorite style of music was the Viennese Waltz.

Few would recognize his biggest artwork: a house and five acres in Loxahatchee that he designed and built. He spent many months supervising the building of his perfect Florida ranch house before we moved into it. He designed the property's artificial lake, the guest house with his office and a workroom, and the solar heating for the in-ground pool. He even selected the dozens of kinds of fruit trees that occupied the property. Even near the end of his life, he would visit hardware stores to find the perfect tool or part to fix problems at home.

Second to my mother and I, he loved dogs. I grew up with a black cocker spaniel (who was paper-trained before I was), two Dalmatians (who were both convinced that I was one of them), and poodles.

He loved the good life. When he was younger, he loved good cigars. Throughout his life, he loved drinking scotch and soda, and taking the occasional cruise. He enjoyed the game of bridge, and met many wonderful people because of it. But he loved travel most of all. He traveled the world for the Navy, and he took me to Europe, Mexico, and through the Caribbean many times when I was a young teenager. The last time I saw him, I asked him if he had any regrets. “Yes,” he said. “That I didn't travel more.”

I will always miss you. Goodbye.

Your “Big Boy”.


I have a job, I have a job, I have a job!

The company that I will work for, Apptio, literally created a new position for my strengths.

I'm excited!
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    A Change Of Seasons - Dream Theater
Brent and Eli!

Parents: Loxahatchee

Dear all,

I'm visiting my parents in Florida for a few days.


When I arrived at my parents' house this morning, they had decided to drive back to the home I lived in from 1981 through 1986 in Loxahatchee, Florida.

When we lived in Loxahatchee, it was the middle of nowhere. The nearest town was about fifteen miles away. There was only one attraction around: Lion Country Safari. In order to visit my house, you had to go in the Lion Country Safari entrance.

I can hear the giggling from here. Yes, I literally grew up in a zoo.

More seriously, every family in that area has five acres of land. The land ranges from woods to open fields. And the houses range from medium-sized family homes to mansions.

What was very odd was how very different my parents' memories and my memories of living there were.

My parents remembered the area as much cleaner and nicer than it is today. Their comments about the area as it is now were that it looked like Redneckville, that it had gone badly downhill from the time we lived there. Several houses that we remembered were now abandoned.

My memories of Loxahatchee are different; I think that it's only gone sideways, not downhill. At the time I lived there, some houses and many lots were vacant -- that's still true today. But since we moved, the grand houses have gotten much more impressive. And, bluntly, by what little I could see of the buildings, the lot where we once lived now has a more impressive house. I know that it has better security.

I think that they're letting memories of good times color that, even while we lived there, Loxahatchee was Redneckville.

Take care, all.

Republican Party caucus...

For two hours today, I took a role I didn't expect that I would ever take. For two hours today, I was a Republican.

Let's be blunt. I'm a liberal, secular person who believes in government as a counterweight to big business. What was I doing at the Republican Party caucus?

Entertaining myself. And doing what I do best: listen.

Don't get me wrong. In those two hours, I got good stories waiting in line.

I can write about the fellow who's getting his Ph. D. in fisheries through a National Science Foundation scholarship and summer work at the Fish and Wildlife Service... who is campaigning for Ron Paul.

I can write about the lady who's blaming the recession on all the dividends that corporations pay.

I learned that life insurance companies do not go bankrupt; at worst, they are liquidated.

But, bluntly, all the people at my table were ordinary people, listening to each other and trying to figure what's best for the country. I disagreed with them a lot less than I expected; they're mostly the pro-business, secular and libertarian Republicans that I once belonged to (and that I thought was dead in the Republican party.) Every one at my table (including me!) believed in gay marriage and thought that the biggest problem in the U.S. was the economy.

I'm very glad that I went. If your state has open caucuses, I highly recommend the experience... even if the Republicans aren't the party you'll vote for in the general elections.

Take care, all.

Death of a mailmare...

If you don't know what the Derpy kerfuffle is about, there are good summaries at Derpy has been modified and Derpy's New Voice.

When I wrote the story Death of a mailmare, I used the name "Ditsy". When MLP:FIM officially named the character, I changed my story to use the name "Derpy". At my level of knowledge and ignorance, I consider both names offensive: Ditsy being not of sound mind (stupid and forgetful, especially applied to females), and Derpy being both derped eyes and having done something stupid. But there has been another beloved animated character with an offensive name and a physical problem.

Here are my thoughts about the changes:

1. MLP:FIM is owned by Hasbro. Not the fans. They have every right to change it, just as George Lucas has the right to change Star Wars. Any conversation that doesn't start with this fact ignores reality.

2. I didn't care for the original voice of Derpy, and I'm fine with the new, more generic one.

3. I'm only a touch upset at the loss of the name.

4. If you are upset at losing the name "Derpy", then affect the one thing that Hasbro cares about: its bottom line. Boycott watching MLP:FIM on the Hub, and don't buy any toys. Get others to join in.

With or without Derpy, I think that the show remains worthwhile.

What do you think?
Music post

Peace on Earth, good will toward men...

(Second announcement)

I am sending out CDs with some of the favorite music that I bought or received in 2011. There will be about 60 songs in the CD: no more than one song per artist or compilation. The music ranges from the "fun and danceable" to "epic" to "extremely odd".

(The goal of this CD is to introduce music that I enjoy to the world. If you enjoy any of the songs in the CD, please seek out the artists and buy their work.)

I'll be making the CDs today and tomorrow. If you want one, please sign up on the original entry.

Merry Giftmas!