The other day, my sister Nanette reminded how much my younger self bore some (let me editorialize fleeting) resemblance to singer John Denver. During high school chorus trips 40 years ago (or so), somewhere, somewhen, […]
The family is still shocked, following my mother’s passing two weeks ago today. In February, a doctor candidly warned my sister Nanette that Linda likely wouldn’t live until Christmas and maybe not beyond summer. But mom was a fighter, with 10-fold a cat’s nine lives. Despite declining health, and repeated rushes to the hospital, she showed herself to be stout and fibrous—and since Spring she reached a relatively stable, vital plateau, seemingly in defiance of the physician’s prediction. What did he know? Eh?
Among other health issues, Mom suffered acute kidney failure, stemming from diabetes, and underwent renal dialysis several times a week. During her last week of life, the purification process went poorly because of problems with the port used to access her vein. Doctors planned to open a new port, and close the other, on Aug. 3, 2017. Something went wrong, and she started bleeding profusely internally.
My niece, Lynnae, is in Long Beach—her first trip to California and the West Coast. We visited last evening and breakfasted this morning, when I used iPhone 7 Plus to capture a portrait. Her family lives on a 7-acre “homestead” in Vermont, where she works part-time for a local company but also operates her own small business—making (and selling) fresh, natural cosmetics from her own recipes; eh, formulas.
Lynnae’s energy, geniality, and clarity are irresistibly endearing. She’s a social butterfly, too. After looking around the Hyatt for a place to eat, and finding nothing appealing to either of us, I suggested dining at the hotel. About an hour earlier, Lynnae told me about trying to beat back jet lag the previous night, her first; she snacked and sipped at the restaurant pub. Ha! The woman makes friends easily. She could have been a regular for years judging from the hand waves and by-name greetings received as we walked in together.
In June 2009 missive “Iran and the Internet Democracy“, I explained how then-recent contextual cloud services used with cell phones had begun, in just three years, to dramatically empower anyone and everyone to self-broadcast/report in ways that not long earlier was the monopoly of media professionals. I have repeatedly revisited this concept since, particularly as more tools became available, mobile broadband expanded reach while becoming less costly, and consumer behavior adapted to the opportunities presented. Most recently, in April 2017: “Praise Be Citizen Journalists“.
Today, the memorial service for my mom, who died August 5th, took place in Burlington, Vt. The church broadcast the farewell live online, via Ustream, which was founded in 2007. But had the family chosen to instead hold a more intimate gathering, anyone with a smartphone could have shared the send-off via a number of services, such as Facebook Live, Periscope, YouTube, or, yes, Ustream, among others. FB opened to the public in September 2006; Live, to everyone, in April 2016. Periscope: March 2015. YouTube is the grandpa service, officially opening in November 2005 but live streaming for the masses debuted only about four months ago.
The power is in your pocket to broadcast to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Just ask all those crazy Instagrammers and SnapChatters. They know.
The world is full of narcissists, who gain popularity by self-broadcasting themselves, boasting their own accomplishments, and in process taking praise or gaining glory. They are false. Ingenuine. There is another type of character—someone who naturally gives, asks for nothing in return, and (often too rarely) is well-regarded for their generosity. They are true charmers in the sense self-proclaimers pretend to be.
My mom, who passed away today, Aug. 5, 2017, was social through grace and a kind of innate likability. She was short in stature—adult height of four feet, ten-and-a-half inches—but tall in presence. In any room, she easily became the sun around which all present orbited. I often marveled at how people just gravitated to the small woman without any seeming effort on her part, other than flowing friendliness and generosity. Her buoyant, positive spirit, supported by unstoppable, advocating determination, made mom the person others wanted to be with—and to be like. She was authentic. Genuine.
Talk to long-time residents in the University Heights neighborhood and ask if they remember my father-in-law, when yes, the answer typically is the same: Riding his bicycle. A lanky man of advanced age makes a long-lasting impression—must be since he gave up the two-wheeler five years ago. Here, he rides a new bike down Cleveland Ave., on Nov. 13, 2008. At that time, he rode 1.5 km or more most every day—including jaunts down Washington Street that even I wouldn’t risk. By 2012, he switched to a pedal-electric hybrid. A few weeks before Thanksgiving that year, someone stole Bob’s bike from his apartment complex’s laundry room, after failing to get coins from the washing machines. He never rode again.
Today, my wife and I closed out her dad’s apartment. He died on Jan. 11, 2017, the month after reaching 95 years-old. The last item to go was his kitchen table and chairs, which I posted for free to Craigslist. I stared long at the smokey-glass top table, reminiscing, while waiting for the pickup. Anne or I spent most of our time visiting her dad seated there together. Somehow it’s fitting the dining furniture should be the last belongings to leave his place.
With great sadness, I must report the passing of my father-in-law exactly one month after his 95th birthday. Bob often insisted that he would live to be one-hundred-and-eleven, and I wondered if he might. Aged as the retired engineer might be, he exhibited surprising vigor and sharp intellect. I will miss the gentle geek, who continually searched for ways to mature his spirit and improve—extend—his livelihood. If only more people, of any age, opened their minds to new ideas rather than crusting over into immutability.
On Oct. 15, 2007, my family relocated to San Diego to be closer to him, understanding that the solitary elderly rarely receive the respect they deserve. Someone in so-called official capacity would have placed Bob in an institution long ago, because of his age. But with a little assistance—our apartment is one block from his—he lived independently up until the end, passing in his own bed. I am especially proud of my wife for being such a dutiful daughter. Anne enabled her dad.
Nine years ago today, my family relocated from the Washington, D.C. suburb of Kensington, Md to San Diego, Calif. Whoa! There is no record in my website archive. Looks like I did little posting in late 2007, which isn’t surprising with the move and trying to continue working. At the time, I operated the Apple Watch and Microsoft Watch blogs. Unbelievably, Ziff Davis enterprise closed down both after laying me off in April 2009. That’s why I warned two years ago: “Writers, Own Your Content!”
I don’t feel like the same human being, after predominately cutting carbs from my diet starting three years ago. Wearing pajamas, I weighed about 91 kilograms (200 pounds) on Oct. 15, 2007; 57 kg (125 lbs) today. My physical build is more like age 20—as is my remarkable energy. Granted, I look every bit of my 57 years and don’t pretend to be otherwise or cling to some misbegotten attempt at reclaiming youth. I’m merely a happy, healthier middle-ager.
My wife’s birthday 2016 marks the 40th year since her high school graduation. The pic is from her yearbook. Photographer is unknown—by Anne or me, I love the composition, which is appropriately arty. Anne, age […]
This week I pick up the pieces of early May and return to business as usual—eh, hopefully. I’ll recount events chronologically, offering context for near absence on my personal site and complete disappearance from BetaNews, where my last story, as of writing here, was April 27, 2016.
The following day, there was an unfortunate vehicular incident, involving our six-and-a-half old Toyota Yaris, which the insurer designated total loss. That wasn’t the outcome I had hoped for, despite extremely generous compensation for the car’s value. We paid for the Yaris in full and, as such, planned on running it for many more years yet.
I spent little time online the past week following the unexpected passing of my sister Annette exactly seven days ago. The reaction is strange, seeing how much Facebook, texting, and other connected activities and services enriched and changed her life during the last six months or so she walked this Earth. I was clueless.
Last year, I added Annette to my cellular account; she used Nokia Lumia Icon Windows Phone to start. This opened a new world of connection to children, other relatives, and friends by texting. In November, when switching the family to T-Mobile from Verizon and upgrading to Nexus 6P, I sent her my Nexus 6. Soon after, her fraternal twin, Nanette, helped set up Facebook. Annette’s first post was Nov. 22, 2015—a family photo with our brother-in-law Michael Bellerieve, before his death from cancer. 🙁
Tonight I wanted to share something for Annette—eldest of my three siblings. I started to write a poem but couldn’t go beyond one stanza:
Giants walk among us, rarely do we perceive
The gifts they bear few of us receive
Gently they lift us, high enough to see
Together they take us to a better place to be
I had hoped to express my feelings this sad day, and perhaps you can catch where the sentiment would have gone. Annette was too easily taken for granted, and we all expected her to be longer among us. Rather, an atomic bomb exploded in our midsts today—a terrorist attack on our hearts. The shockwave spreads outward as each family member is informed, and the emotional equivalent of nuclear winter chills each heart.