Category Archives: Personal

Happy Mothers Day Mom

I don’t think I have ever wished you a happy Mothers Day. I don’t know why, but I just hate the mushy holidays. Come to think of it, I pretty much hate all holidays. That doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate everything you ever did for me Mom. I miss you every day. Sometimes I wish there really was a heaven so I could see you again. I have so much I want to tell you.

This morning the alarm woke me up to your song. I know you don’t even know what your song is. It’s this one.

Yeah, I never heard of Passenger either. The first time I ever heard that song was on December 19th when I was rushing as fast as I could to the hospital in a snowstorm. It just seemed so fitting. It was the last song that was on the radio as I arrived at the hospital, and was the first song I heard on the radio after your passing. I added it to the list of funeral songs along with all the ones you listed you wanted in your letter.

I know the Budweiser Clydesdale commercials were always your favorite Super Bowl commercials. This year they used your song in one.

So I guess it’s only fitting that I wake up to your song on the first Mothers Day without you. I miss you.

Three months

So three months ago today my Mom passed away. People have told me that it takes about three months before things start to feel normal again. A month ago I didn’t believe that, but now I think that that’s pretty accurate. Everybody grieves different, but this week was the first week that I started to feel like myself again.

Listening to music is still hard though. So many songs bring up so many childhood memories. The other day one of my favorite Something Corporate songs, “21 and Invincible” came up on my iPod. The opening line goes like this:

some days go by, i wish i was famous
or maybe religious, so i could go to heaven
just like you

That got me wondering if grieving is easier for people of religion? The thought that my Mom is all well above and looking down on me, despite how silly it sounds, sounds comforting. But then the religious folk have to cope with why their god took their loved one?

In reality everybody grieves differently. If religion helps you and comforts you, more power to you. For me living in reality comforts me. Living and learning as much as I can about the universe we live in comforts me. Life can suck sometimes, but you only have one of them. You might as well live it to its fullest before the atoms that make up your body are returned back to the universe that created them.

Be an organ donor

Never in my life did I imagine that I would be paying for two funerals within three months. That’s the bad thing about being the only one in the family with money. It’s not that we have a ton of money, but we were smart, got an education, and are living within our means. So for that, we get stuck with the bills.

For my Mother’s funeral it’s not as big of deal because her estate has enough money that I will eventually get paid back. She had just a basic funeral, nothing too crazy, but it still cost us $17,000. They get you on everything. We had to pay extra for a Saturday burial, and even had to pay for snow removal. Just a basic coffin and vault was 10 grand.

My Father-in-law on the other hand was cremated. His funeral was only $6000. That alone is a good enough reason to be cremated. Before I never really had a preference, because I wound never know anyway. Now I think I’m going to be cremated. My Father-in-law already had a plot, and because he was cremated, he and is wife can share the plot since they with both be cremated. We will now probably do the same and get the plot next to them. it’s kind of eerie knowing where your final destination is, but I guess it’s going to happen eventually.

My Father-in-law had no money, and neither do any of my brothers-in-law, so we’re pretty much stuck with that bill. I could make a fuss about it, but that probably won’t get my anywhere.

One thing that was great was all the parts my Father-in-law was able to donate. He wasn’t able to donate any organs, but he donated a lot of skin and tissue, and even bones. I’ve never even heard about donating bone before. All in all, they said he could probably end up helping fifty people. My mom was a donor too, but sadly she wasn’t able to donate anything. I don’t really know why not though. They said they would have contacted us if she could donate anything. After my mother-in-law’s heart transplant, both our families are really big proponents of organ donating, and it’s great to know how many people my father-in-law could help out.

More tears

So it’s been a while.

We had another death in the family back on February 22nd, my father-in-law. Within three months my wife and I each lost a parent. It doesn’t seem real. Both left us far too soon, and I think that’s the hardest part. My wife’s father was only 56. He wasn’t in the greatest of shapes, but he had no medical problems and was not overweight, but still just collapsed from a heat attack, and was gone that fast.

My wife is having a hard time. She was really close to her dad. They talked almost every day. I’m having a hard enough time time dealing with the passing of my mom, and we weren’t all that close. I can’t imagine what she’s going through, but I think helping her mom sort things out is helping her out.

I can’t look at anything in the house without thinking of my mom or father-in-law. They both have given us so much, and helped us out with so many projects. I still can’t believe they are gone.

I have so many great memories. I have spent hours just staring into space letting my mind wonder. I don’t think a day has gone by since December 20th without tears in my eyes. Soon the weather will be nice enough to dig my telescope out again. It’s going to be hard to look at Saturn again without thinking back to last summer when my mom saw Saturn for the first time through my telescope. She was amazed, and now she’s gone.

Everybody says it will get easier. I hope they’re right.

More about my Mom

So it’s been a little more than a month since my mother’s passing. It’s been a crazy month. It’s almost a full time job managing and figuring out her estate. I’m finally meeting with a lawyer on Monday to hopefully get a grasp on what all needs to be done.

After going through a few of my Mom’s things, I’m starting to understand her a little better. She wrote a letter about her childhood that helped me understand why she was a die hard Republican. It started in college when her brother went to war in Vietnam. Her friends were all protesting the war, but she couldn’t because her brother was there. She couldn’t separate the war from the troops. She couldn’t support the troops while being against the war at the same time.

She is also against all social programs basically because her family didn’t need them. She was the youngest child, so by the time she was born, her family was pretty well off. She didn’t really know what it was like to struggle. She figured anybody that is willing to work hard, should have no problem supporting their family.

So pretty much those two issues guided her to choose her “team”, and she followed the Republican party line from then on.

Politics were one thing I never discussed with my Mom. I’m jealous of the people that can have open, honest, and smart conversations with their parents. My Mom was pretty stubborn. There was no changing her mind about anything, and I hated that. Any conversation with her was always “I’m right and you’re wrong, end of discussion”.

I shouldn’t focus on the negative though. Overall my Mother was great. She raised me and my brother by herself, and for the most part we got everything we wanted. In the last few years we were able to take quite a few vacations together as a family. I will be forever grateful of all the vacation memories. It’s really going to be hard to not talk about the fun times with my Mom anymore.

More about my Mom

So one thing I regret is not talking to my Mom more. My Mom was hard for me to talk to. She was very opinionated, and I disagreed with her on just about everything. Almost every conversation ended up leading to politics, or some pseudoscience that she believed in. I wish I could have talked to her about my beliefs, but it would have only led to useless arguments. I still remember the last argument we had about the Washington Redskins team name. She just hated anything to do with “political correctness”. I told her that if the name was Indians, you could have an argument there, but Redskins is clearly derogatory. The team is a privately owned company and they have every right to have a derogatory name, but to deny that it’s derogatory is just ignoring reality. I’ll forever remember that argument. We didn’t argue often, but that’s mostly because I bit my tongue a lot.

My Mom was a teacher and education was important to her, but she was kind of narrow minded. She was pretty much brainwashed by Fox News. I have nothing against being conservative, but not believing in scientific facts drives me crazy. Like most conservatives, She denied global warming and evolution. To make matters worse, She was also anti-vax and anti-GMO. You know how pro-science I am. These issues drove me crazy.

One thing I am so glad I had a chance to do though was to share my telescope with her. Last summer I brought my telescope with when we rented a lake cabin. She was amazed to see Saturn. She couldn’t believe how much it looked like the pictures. It was so great to share my love of astronomy with her. She even mentioned it to her brothers and sisters because they all told me.

I always thought I was completely different from my Mom because we disagreed on so many topics, but after going through her stuff, we had much more in common than I realized.

Goodbye Mom

So three weeks ago today I got a call from my Mom. Little did I know that would be the last time I would ever talk to her, and it was her last ever phone call.

Six years ago my mom discovered that she had an aortic dissection. It’s a very serious issue, but at that time the best thing was to just keep an eye on it. So that’s was she was doing. My Mom never let on at how scared she was. At that time she wrote a letter to me and my brother and her will. She was super organized. Her letter basically planned out her funeral. It’s really sad, but it’s now one of my prized possessions.

So on Monday the 16th I got that call from my Mom. She said her dissection was leaking a bit and she needed to go in for surgery. It was a very serious surgery, but she played it off like it wasn’t. She didn’t want anybody to worry and didn’t want me to tell the rest of the family, so I thought nothing of it. I never even looked it up to see how serious it was. Later on I learned that she collapsed at work and was brought to the hospital by ambulance. She didn’t want to worry anybody, so didn’t tell us that.

Tuesday we got a call stating that the surgery was successful and she was recovering. We didn’t hear anything Wednesday, so we just assumed no news was good news.

Then Thursday the 19th came. It was probably the worst day of my life. First, our cat of 14.5 years was going through kidney failure. We new she didn’t have too much time left. We saw her going downhill and didn’t want her to have to suffer over the weekend, so we brought her in to put her to sleep.

About two hours after we got home from the vet, we got a call from the hospital that my Mom was in critical condition and family needs to be there NOW. So in blizzard conditions we dropped everything and headed to St. Cloud. What normally is a 2.5 hr. drive took 4 hrs.

We got there at 11:00 PM and she was on about everything she could be on to keep her alive. They had to perform CPR on her for quite a while, so they weren’t even sure if there was any brain activity left. Her aorta ruptured at another spot, and another surgery wasn’t an option given her current condition. At about 1:00 AM they gave her an hour to live. She held on until family got there around 1:00 PM.

Then when everybody that was going to get there got there, I had to make the call to unhook her from the machines and watch her die. I know it was the right decision since there was no brain activity, but I’m still bothered being the one who had to make the decision.

The images of my Mom dying have been burned into my memory and I’ve been reliving them every night in my dreams.

So while most people were having their Christmas week, we were planning my Mom’s funeral. Christmas was my Mom’s favorite time of the year. I’ve never been much of a fan of Christmas, and I don’t think this year is going to change that.

I’ll probably have more posts about my Mom these coming weeks. I don’t know if anybody still reads blogs, but it’s helpful for me to get it out.

RIP Mom

So I’ve been pretty quite on the interwebs these past couple weeks, partly because I’ve been busy, but mostly because I have nothing to say. My mother passed away unexpectedly two weeks ago. I plan on posting more about her, but just not feeling it now.

Today Billy the Kid posted a cover of one of my favorite Sugar songs. It was one of my favorite songs from my senior year of high school, and it’s really fitting for what I’m going through now.

20 years already?

So this past weekend was my second 20 year high school reunion this year. This one was for my central Minnesota school that I only spent three years at. I grew up in northern Minnesota and went to school there through my freshman year of high school, then moved to central Minnesota and spent my final three years of high school there. While I had a great time in high school there, I didn’t meet any lifelong friends. It was hard for me to fit in with kids that have been friends since elementary school, in just three years. I didn’t really have my “group”. I hung out with everybody. I bashed heads with the jocks on the football field, played music with the band geeks, and tried to pretend I was smart and hung out with the smart kids taking the hardest classes I could.

I never thought I would be one of those guys that didn’t want to go to their reunions. I went to my 10 year reunion, and it was awkward. Everybody looked familiar, but I could barely remember names. After 10 years we were totally different people, and really didn’t have much in common. I loved high school, and would do anything to go back to those times, but reunions don’t do it. If I still lived in the same town I probably would have stopped by, but it wasn’t worth the time to travel. I’m sure my reunions would be better if I would have gotten closer with people, but for now, being Facebook friends is good enough for me.

Smokers Stink

Over the weekend we were out of town, but my in-laws stayed at our house. My father-in-law must have driven my truck. Normally I wouldn’t have cared, but he smoked in it. Smoking is so disgusting. I am around it so little now that it really bothers me. I can smell it on my hands now after using my steering wheel. So gross.

I don’t get why someone would pay thousands of dollars a year to smell, not to mention the health affects. I know smokers don’t realize that they smell, but they do. If you smoke, you fucking stink and I don’t want to be around you. And please don’t just throw you cigarette butt anywhere. Seeing nasty cigarette butt everywhere is another pet peeve of mine.

Recurring themes

It’s always weird when odd-ball things come up multiple times a day. Today that happened to me with Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy. First I was watching TWiT and Leo mentioned the Carnegie Libraries. If you didn’t know, Andrew Carnegie donated money to help build over 2500 libraries across the US in the early 1900s. It seems like almost every decent sized town got one. Sadly many of them have been torn down. Moorhead had one, and Fargo had two, but none of them still exist.

Then I got an email about my 20 year class reunion (how did that happen). One of the activities is a tour of the newly remodeled Carnegie Library. When I lived there I didn’t realize that I walked by a building that was built in 1914 by money donated by Andrew Carnegie every day on my way to school. To me it was just an old office building across the street from the current library. Some time after I moved away I learned that it was an old Carnegie Library. I’m glad that they decided to remodel it rather than tear it down.

Then while I was listening to the latest Planetary Radio Podcast, they were talking about the Mount Wilson Observatory, and what do you know, Andrew Carnegie donated money to help build it too.

So there you have it. Three referenced to Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy before noon. It’s weird how that happens.

Remember 1990

This video brought back a lot of memories. 1990 was a big year in my childhood. It was the year my family and I moved. I was a sophomore in high school and had to leave all my friends and start over. I made new friends, but nothing like my friends from my old home town. To this day, the best friends I have now I’ve known since 1st grade.

The music of 1990 was horrible too. That’s probably part of the reason why I learned to hate mainstream music. It got better latter into the 90s, but 1990 sucked. Best new artist Milli Vanilli? WTF?

via laughingsquid

Back to the keyboard

Hello blog. It seems like forever since I last posted. I’ve just been enjoying some time away from the keyboard. Enjoying the couple nice days we are having before the mosquitoes take over. Enjoying some good books in my hammock, and got our garden planted. It’s been seven years since we have had a garden. We had one at our old house, but didn’t really have a good spot at this one until I tore out a little rock garden that was looking a little rough. I also built a permanent fence around the garden.

I think it looks much better than a chicken wire fence.

Now we just need some heat so things start to grow.

New Glasses

mace

I got my new glasses from Warby Parker today. They might take a bit to get use to, but I’m liking them so far. I also thought it was time to change my Twitter icon. It’s probably been five years since I last changed it.

Funeral plans

So there has been a couple deaths in my life this past week. One was my Wife’s cousin, and the other one was a co-worker. Both died too young because of cancer. Because of the cancer, both planned what they wanted for a funeral.

My Wife’s cousin had every little detail planned. She wanted to have one final beer with everybody, so that’s what she got. There was a keg in the front of the church and they passed around cups and pitchers, and we all drank together, even the pastor had a sip. It was different, but was pretty cool.

My co-worker didn’t want anything. He was single, didn’t have much of a family, and wasn’t religious. He didn’t want any kind of ceremony, so that’s what he got.

It was nice to see both of these families following the wishes of their deceased family member. I’ve heard stories of families not doing what their deceased family members wanted because nobody would ever really know. In the grand scheme of things, it probably really doesn’t matter, but I think it’s a nice tribute to do what your deceased family member wanted.

I’ve been thinking about what I want after I die ever since reading Mary Roach’s great book Stiff. I’ve came to the conclusion that I don’t really care. In a perfect world I would like to just be dumped in the woods so my body can be eaten by critters and the molecules that make up my body would return to the universe where they came from. I’m sure there are laws against that though. I guess I prefer cremation over embalming just for the simple fact that I would take up less space, but I don’t really have a preference. I’m going to leave it to my family to decide that. I’m not religious, so I really don’t care about a funeral. The way I see it, the funeral is for the family, and they can do whatever they want. As of right now, the only wish I really have is that I don’t want any religious symbols or words on my headstone, since that’s going to be around a lot longer than I ever was.

Motion City Jackpot

It took eleven tries, but I finally got one of these last night!
JoshPick

I also got one of these!
Setlistfor4-21-13

And then another one of these!
JustinPick

Yeah, it was pretty much a Motion City Soundtrack jackpot last night. We hung around afterwards and talked with Josh for a little bit. Great band and great guys. I can’t wait to see them again.

Happy 61st Douglas Adams

Happy Birthday Douglas Adams

I love today’s Google Doodle. It’s a tribute to the late great Douglas Adams. He would have been 61 today. If you missed it, here is a video of the doodle.

You probably have to be a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fan to understand it.

I have Douglas Adams to thank for turning me into a reader. High school made me hate reading. I did read some great books in high school, To Kill a Mockingbird, In Cold Blood,Lord of the Flies—to name a few. For me reading because I had to ruined the experience. After high school in 1993, I didn’t pick up a book until 1998. That was when I picked up The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy after hearing so many referenced to it. I’ve been ready 20-25 books a year ever since.

Thank you Douglas Adams.

Minnesota full of Muslims?

So my Mom has a job opportunity in Salt Lake City, and her biggest worry is the Mormons. I’m kind of dumb when it comes to religion. Aren’t Mormons Christians too? My Mom also said, “well at least it’s not full of Muslims like Minnesota is”. What? I have no idea what she is talking about. According to recent polls 3% of the population subscribe to a non-Christian religion which includes Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Not quite full of Muslims. And even so, who cares?

Maybe it’s just because I don’t have a religion, but I don’t understand why different people of faith despise each other. Most of the time they believe in the same god anyway. They just have different customs and rituals to show their faith. From what I know most religions have more similarities than differences. I really should educate myself about the different world religions, but it’s usually such a boring read. Anybody know of a good book about worlds religions that isn’t boring as hell?

Maybe my Mom’s irrational fear of Minnesota becoming “full of Muslims” is because Minnesota elected the first Muslim to Congress, Keith Ellison. I think that is great. Our country is full of all types, so we should also be represented by all types.

Keith Ellison is making the news today for going off on Sean Hannity.

I found it entertaining, but I wish he would have just refused to go on the show. He called Hannity, “the worst excuse for a journalist”. Hannity really isn’t a journalist though. He is just a Fox News talking head paid to spread the Fox agenda, and should be ignored.

What I read in 2012

I’ve blogged about what I’ve read the past year in previous years, so I might as well do it this year. I managed to read twenty-four books this year. While I’m not a crazy reader, two books a month isn’t too bad. I hate reading book review, and hate writing them even worse. So no book reviews for you. I’ve just included my Goodreads ranking following each book in my list. So here’s what I read this past year:

Death from the Skies – Philip Plait *****
The Upside of Irrationality – Dan Ariely ***
Ancestor – Scott Sigler *****
The Disappearing Spoon – Sam Kean *****
The Poisoner’s Handbook – Deborah Blum ***
Idiot America – Charles Pierce **
Madoff with the Money – Jerry Oppenheimer **
Fallen Dragon – Peter F. Hamilton***
The Pluto Files – Neil deGrasse Tyson *****
Scam School Book 1 – Brian Brushwood ****
The Culture of Fear – Barry Glassner****
A Universe from Nothing – Lawrence Krauss****
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins *****
Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi **
Suck it, Wonder Woman – Olivia Munn***
Bad Science – Ben Goldacre ***
Redshirts – John Scalzi ****
Bossypants – Tina Fey ***
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson ***
I Sold My Soul on eBay – Hemant Mehta ***
Freedom (TM) – Daniel Swarez ***
The Magic of Reality – Richard Dawkins *****
Down Among the Dead Men – Michelle Williams **
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Seth Grahame-Smith****