Category: Musings


Engage!

Yeah, yeah, been awhile. Lots happened in the last few months, nothing I really feel like going into right now, but I’m busier, happier, and doing way more now than I was a year ago.

But no, I’m here to talk about some good nerdy things, namely Star Trek (and really, how fitting on Star Wars day :P)

Netflix has allowed all of Star Trek for streaming and in my spare time, I’ve been revisiting the show. When I was growing up, Voyager was the current show on and I loved it. My mom and dad both enjoyed The Next Generation when they were first married, and I remember them citing the episode when Picard was transformed into Locutus of Borg as a favorite of theirs. I don’t remember if it was them or me who wanted to watch Voyager, but it was a favorite pastime for seven years until it ended with quite a bang.

I remembered bits and pieces from the show, high noted mostly. Holodeck sequences, Borg attacks, random alien races, and while I never knew what they were specifically, I kept saying how much fun they were, how big a part of my childhood it was, and how nice it would be to watch them again. Until Netflix, DVDs were the only way to watch them legally and they were nearly $100 perseason, thou they have since gone down.

I decided it was time to make my way through Voyager again. I had a couple seasons, but now I could watch the entire series online and in the last three months, I made my way through all of Voyager. You know what I realized from it? Just how deep it is compared to some other sci-fi that I’ve watched. I mean yes, I always knew on some level how deep Star Trek went based on how fanatical people can get over it, but the richness of the entire universe just puts others to shame. The politics, the adventures, the huge cast of characters, Star Trek manages to include so much that breathes a lot of life into the universe. Star Wars has great movies, but most other fiction that helps flesh out that universe is ancillary to the six films. I have found Star Trek that much more engaging than most other fiction right now. With Memory Alpha close at hand, I can dive deeper into information that I may want to find out about an alien race or an event and get pulled in.

Voyager rekindled a passion for Star Trek I had long lost, and now, I’m making my way through the other series. Even as I type this, I’m watching Deep Space Nine and enjoying the character of Odo or O’Brien, or finding out what the hell a Trill is. I feel like I’ve missed a huge part of nerd culture than I’m somehow just catching up to. Rewatching this also makes me miss my dad, because in some ways, he had his nerdy quirks. Im sure both he and my mom helped get me to watch Star Trek, I returned the favor years later by showing him Firefly. I’ve found a touchstone to my childhood, as well as a potentially long term enjoyment down the road.

Now if you’ll excuse me, this Quark fellow is trying to get more gold-pressed latinum.

Update

So…I’ve been working a lot lately. Decided to give up the pursuit of teaching and instead I’m pursuing IT work. So far, so good.

After my dad passed away in June, I’ve since moved back home, working off debts, and seeing more of the girlfriend. I have a job right now doing IT work here in the Chicago area, and I’m enjoying it a lot. I’ve always loved IT work in my personal life, and it was great doing it throughout college.

We’re getting along now, though a lot of legalities and services we took for granted are now gone and honestly, the system sucks ass in terms of trying to help my mom through this time.

So we keep on trucking as best we can I suppose.

Onward Ho!

Well, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. We’re all still dealing with my dad’s death. I don’t know quite yet if I’m feeling “what I’m supposed to” with it, or trying to parse out whether or not I’ve accepted it and moved on or buried it and I’ll have some sort of snap later on down the road. Either way, I keep having moments where I realize he’s really gone and how much I will miss him for the rest of my life.

Part of why I can’t (not won’t) dwell on it is because I’m still sending out job applications. I can’t even process how many I’ve sent out to everyone, teaching and not, to try and find some full-time work. I am excited though, I am making progress, setting up interviews, and I feel a bit more validated in my search. Mostly, I like getting the confirmation that someone is actually on the other end of the internets, actually reading this stuff.

My roommate moved out yesterday, so now I’m in the middle of nowhere, living on my own. He’ll get married next Sunday, and for some reason, they won’t let me sleep in their attic :D! Maybe this crushing sense of loneliness will help push me even harder to find a job.

Anyway, I have an interview tomorrow that I’m really excited for, so here’s to hoping it works out.

For My Dad

Last Wednesday, at 7:00 AM, my dad passed away.  My mom had to watch it happen so suddenly, so rapidly, and it came completely out of nowhere.

About ten years ago, my dad had a heart attack at the age of 42.  It happened around the time of 9/11, and I remember him joking that he had his first week off from work in a long time, and there would only be one thing on TV.  Since then, he’s watched his weight, gave up smoking, and done what he can to lose weight.  My dad was never a large, lumbering blob of fat, so please don’t think that’s the case at all.  His half of the family has a big blood pressure problem, and I know I have it as well.

So last Wednesday, it was his heart that did him in.  I still can’t quite believe he’s gone.  I don’t think he’ll walk through the door and tell us he was playing a joke on everyone, but I keep having these moments where I realize that he’s gone, that he isn’t coming back, and this is what my life is going to be like from here on out.  He was 52 when he was taken from us.  In hindsight, I’m so glad we were all able to go to Europe over spring break.  It was one of our last family things we did together, and we have so many memories from that trip.  My mom, sister, and I should consider ourselves fortunate that we were able to spend that great week (for them, two weeks) with him.

 

Posted below is the eulogy I read at his service.  I wanted to post this for two reasons.  One, I want a record of it somewhere out there in the universe.  Two, we had family and friends asking for copies of this and this seemed an easy way to distribute the news and the eulogy.  When my aunt sends me her eulogy, I will include it in a new post as well.

 

Thanks.

 

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For My Dad

A few weeks ago, my dad came out to visit me out in Durant. I knew he wanted to talk about my job search, what my plans for the summer were, and about life in general. He told me about how he started out his job hunt, how difficult it was for him and his friends throughout his life to find or change careers, and he wanted me to find something I could do that would give me the freedoms he had. He told me he was fortunate to have a job he liked, but at the end of the day, it was a way for him to treat his loved ones and himself to the things we loved. I told Mom just the other day that we have never really wanted for anything, but Melanie and I both feel like we were never spoiled.

After our talk, we had lunch at a local diner and went to a nearby driving range. The rest of my time with Dad was relaxing. We hit maybe a hundred balls in the gorgeous, sunny weather.  Dad critiqued about 70% of my hits with tips on what I can do better. ‘Tighten your grip’ and ‘You’re chopping at the ball like a lumberjack’ were his two favorite criticisms that day. Every time though, he always reminded me that the first time on the course, after a long time of not playing, you’re going to be terrible. All I needed was to practice and I’d get better.

We found a single ball in the bag, one that had partially-broken open and you could touch the core inside. I said I wanted to hit it, but I knew I couldn’t hit it well enough to save my life. Dad took the ball and gave it a perfectly executed swing. It may have only gone 100 yards, but I remember the sound of the ball as it moved through the air, like a playing card in the spokes of a bike. Even on the silly things, Dad always did everything to his standard of perfection. He always put his whole effort into everything he did, because he knew that hitting that freak golf ball would make me smile and laugh.

I wanted to give just a short list of other memories that I thought of as I prepared these remarks:

-late nights in his workshop, making a Pinewood Derby car move a tenth of a second faster

-mispronouncing every French word in France and questioning Melanie on how to move through the Metro

-setting up a beach perimeter that kept every inconsiderate beach bum away from the pristine, tide-proof spot of sand

-getting me interested in video games with games like Rise of the Triad, a game that was far inappropriate for a nine year old to be playing

-both Melanie and I working alongside Dad at Gage, spending some quality time with him at work

-us three couples going out on triple dates where everyone wins because Mom and Dad paid

-making everyone car sick when driving on Galena’s hilly roads

-watching James Bond movies at full volume all day on Thanksgiving instead of playing dominoes

-6:33 and 1/2 AM cream fill runs

Dad was always there, from Boy and Girl Scouts, Indian Guides and Princesses, as our coach for baseball and basketball, our cheerleader when he couldn’t coach, our audience when we were on stage, our driver to Amana, Stone Harbor, Galena, and Destin.  Dad was our role model that Melanie and I both know we will strive to live up to.  He did so much for us, never asking for a thing in return, whether it was scraping snow off of the cars in the driveway, killing spiders, or cleaning the litter box when no one else could (or would).

Dad and I never really said we loved each other that often, that is more Melanie’s thing, but I don’t feel like I’ve lost out. I knew he loved me, and I’ve never doubted that. Dad has always had Mom’s, Melanie’s and my best interests in mind, because Dad was not the kind of guy who expressed his feelings in words.  He spoke to us through his actions and the care that he showed to everyone who came into his life. My dad will be missed by so many people for different reasons.  If love could have saved him, none of this would have happened, but I know in my heart that he will always be watching over us in the years to come.

Pokemans, Life, and Zombies!

Haven’t found a topic yet I want to explore, but I must stick to my two a week (didn’t really last week!)

Playing the HELL out of Pokemon…Pearl! After completing White, my mission is now to have a complete and credited Pokedex with everything I can muster, with the exception of Legendary Event-Only Pokemon (Mew, Celebi, etc…). I tend to break this rule only for the first three generations, as I have an old Action Replay card and I allow myself to hack in the Legendaries that would otherwise be unavailable to me. Deoxys isn’t worth standing around a crowd of children playing Pokemon and looking creepy.

My Pokemans, let me show them to you.

So, I plan on devoting a lot of time to Pokemon in the near future.  Pearl -> LeafGreen -> HeartGold -> White is my preferred order.  Hopefully, I’ll have a complete Pokedex…but I may get bored and give up.  I’ve never really tried to “catch them all” though, so this would be pretty cool if it could work, and since there doesn’t seem to be anything after the Elite Four really in White (caught all the Legendaries) I’m on my own for objectives.

Life…well…yeah.  Looking for work…again.  I’m stuck right now, trying to figure out if I still want to be a teacher or if now is the time to change and do something else.  This last year has shown me a lot about teaching and now I’m not so sure I want to keep it up.  I still need to do some soul searching, but I plan on sending out some resumes and applications this week (I have my goal and with any luck, I’ll hit it).

If anyone’s interested in suggesting a possible career that an English teacher might be able to switch over to, I’m all ears.  Post it up in the comments and I’ll add it to my current list of possibilities (some silly, some not) that I’m considering.

And zombies…more of a review.  Lately, I’ve fallen hard for podcasts.  With a half-hour commute to work every day, I have 18 podcasts I listen to in a given week.  Most update weekly, some update twice a month, some update whenever the hell they feel like it, but I’d like to talk about one of my personal favorites called “We’re Alive: A Zombie Story of Survival.”  Every week, they release a new part of a chapter (three parts to a chapter) about this fictional zombie outbreak and how a group of survivors manages to live in this world.  It plays like an old radio drama, with a lot of the characters explaining things out loud to the listener because everything is audio, and the quality is top notch.

They update every Monday, with a week break in between chapters, and I look forward to it every time I know a new episode is up.  And the zombies…hoo…they are creepy!  The best comparison with the We’re Alive zombies would be Left 4 Dead’s type.  They’re fast, they’re angry, they’re attracted by noise, and *minor spoiler* they are more than just regular zombies (tanks, hunters, etc…).  I love listening to this podcast every week, and I’d recommend looking them up in iTunes or at their website.  They run a tight ship, and I would recommend at least listening to the first chapter.

Thanks for reading all over the place with my brain.  Maybe I’ll have something more…substantial for you later this week!  I might do a series of reviews (more full-on, rather than a paragraph or two) over some of my favorite or currently interesting things.  Later!

Across The Pond

So, I’m really stinking excited for Friday afternoon.

I’ll get to climb into a big metal tube hurtling at hundreds of miles an hour, only to wind up in a completely foreign land.  Our spring break is next week, and my sister is currently studying in Belgium.  My parents, terrified that they’ll never leave the country ever, decided to set up a trip to Europe that coincides with my school’s spring break.  I’ve never really left the country before, and I had to get the passport and all that fun stuff.  We fly into Belgium, jump in a train almost immediately to Paris, and spend 3-4 days in France.  Afterwards, we’re going to London for another 3-4 days before dropping me back off in Belgium to fly back to America (damn kids can’t teach themselves…yet…).  My parents are going to stick around for another week and go to Amsterdam and Germany.

"Honey, we're not normal people. We're the Griswolds."

This is our first itinerary vacation though.  Most vacations tend to involve sitting on the beach and reading a metric ton of books, so the fact that my parents have every single day planned out is exciting and terrifying at the same time.  They’re all fired up to the nth degree, with new suitcases and TONS of new gear and guidebooks.  Hell, I even ended up with new lounge/deck shoes because apparently the silly Europeans don’t wear tennis shoes, and tennis shoes are a sure sign of American tourists.  We can’t possibly be seen as tourists (even if our giant France map gives us away)…

Like I said though, I’m excited to leave the country.  I’ve only left once, and that was to go to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico…and my family being as adventurous as we are, we never really left the resort.

And the one time we did, my mom really messed up her leg climbing onto a horse (don’t ask me how it happened).

Part of my interest in firing this blog back up is to try and chronicle the trip next week, assuming I have some kind of Internet connection.  Worst comes to worst, a bazillion updates the following Saturday :).  I want to take a ton of pictures and post them here as a reminder of what the trip was like every day.  We’ll see how this works out, but I’m hopeful.  Two days in a row of updates, so so far, so good!