Uncle Johnny

One year ago today my Godfather passed away. He was a diabetic who spent most of the last months of his life in and out of the hospital dealing with circulation problems in his leg. He had a surgeon who was very quick to slice him up like a roast in attempts to get the blood flowing. Johnny loved the guy. Eventually he lost one of his legs below the knee. He had seemed to be on death’s door a number of times (we almost lost him Christmas Day) but after they took his leg he recovered quickly.

Except for one seemingly minor thing. One of the incisions in his thigh from an earlier operation was not healing. Every now and then it would just split open on him and he’d be back in the hospital again. One year ago this morning it split open and opened up one of his main arteries with it. It only took a couple of minutes for him to bleed to death. He had a life alert necklace on and hit it, but in the few seconds it took for them to respond he was already fading out.

The life alert folks called my father. It took him a little less than five minutes to get to Johnny’s house, but by the time he got there it was already too late. Johnny was gone.

I was also on the list of people for life alert to call. I work more than an hour away from Johnny’s house, so I was the last person on the list. I never leave my cell phone ringer on at work though and I didn’t catch the call coming in. I did catch the voicemail popping up though and I listened to it and called my father. I was terrified that if something was happening and no one else was available to get the call then maybe not hearing the phone vibrate when it was 10 inches away from me might turn out to be a horrible thing.

I called my father’s cell phone and he answered right away. He was already at Johnny’s house and it was already over. He was crying when I spoke to him. I hope to never hear him cry like that again.

My boss and I sit next to each other so he heard everything that was going on. When I hung up with my father I told him that my uncle had died and that I needed to go be with my father. I think I was calm. I might not have been. I might have been a jittery basket case. I made it as far as the car before the tears started. I got in and tried for a few seconds to calm myself down. I knew that my father was going to need us all to hold it together and I wanted to be strong for him. I called Jen to tell her what had happened and I lost it. I balled my eyes out for about five minutes.

Eventually I pulled it together and headed to Johnny’s house. My father was there with a couple of cops. They were waiting for some one to come and bring the body to the coroner’s office. I saw Johnny through a crack in the bathroom door. He was slumped over in his wheel chair with his back to me. There was blood everywhere. Part of me wishes I hadn’t seen him. Another part of me is glad I got one last look at him. I can’t tell which part is right.

The last time I saw him alive was the Sunday prior. We had had our annual Irish boiled dinner at my parent’s house. Johnny wasn’t feeling well enough to go so some of us brought some to him. I think it was me and Jen and my sister and her husband. Jen and I only stayed for a few minutes. We had to go to Larry’s house for a surprise birthday party for Nawal. We also had some big news to share with him. That was the day Jen and I rented the duplex. We got to tell him. He looked old and tired that day, but he was happy. He was happy for us. Lisa and Ken stayed with him for a couple of hours just hanging out and talking.

One thing I knew for sure was that Johnny loved Jen. When he was going through the long hospital stays Jen and I tried to visit him at least once a week. He used to beam at her. He introduced her to a friend as his niece. He clearly thought the world of her and through all the pain he was going through he made sure I knew how happy he was that she and I were together. There are only two things I regret with regard to Johnny. One is that he never met the kids. The other is that he died before Jen and I decided to marry. I know both of those things would have made him very happy. I wish I got the chance to share them with him.

This weekend there is an anniversary mass for Uncle Johnny at St Williams. The whole family is going to go, and afterward we will have the annual corned beef and cabbage dinner feast at my parents house. I wish Johnny could be there. I miss him very much.

Today is the first day of Spring. Some how that seems fitting. It feels some how symbolic of things moving on and getting better.


Time to Get That Pilot’s License!

This is an excerpt from a blog posted in bostonmagazine.com.

I really want to get a sport pilot’s license and get me one of these things. Screw you 80 minute commute!

In non-Logan-related aviation news the much lampooned Terrafugia Transition, a flying car “roadable aircraft” did something most people (Boston media included) were skeptical it would ever do. It flew. On Wednesday the car plane, er, car-plane flew over 3,000 feet for 37 seconds at the Plattsburgh International Airport in Plattsburgh, NY.

Instead of the Wright brothers, the creators of the first roadable aircraft were the husband and wife team of Anna and Carl Dietrich. The pair, both pilots, met while students in MIT’s graduate program in aeronautics. Along with three other MIT engineers and pilots, they founded Terrafugia in 2006 in Woburn. Carl and Anna were married about a year later.

The challenges facing the small start-up were daunting. After years of work on the design, dating all the way back to their grad work at MIT, they still needed to construct the Transition piece by piece, secure funding and comply with regulators, all while ignoring the taunts of skeptics. But after watching the “stunning” liftoff, Richard Gersh, the VP of business development (and the only non-engineer in the 10-person company), tells Boston Daily that it was all worthwhile. “The huge celebration we had reminded me of the Sox winning the World Series in ‘04,” says Gersh. “We knew it would happen eventually, but it was great when it finally did.”

The Transition is classified as a Light Sport Aircraft, which means it only requires a sport pilot license to fly. The license requires less flying time, only 20 hours of in-flight training, and is only valid for one or two-seater planes that don’t exceed flight speeds of 138 mph.

Terrafugia’s roadable aircraft was designed to avoid many of the pitfalls associated with owning a private plane. Rather than renting a hangar at the airport, where some airports have five-year waiting lists and most charge significant amounts of money, the Transition can be stored in a normal two-car garage. Its wings fold up in about 30 seconds for highway driving and storage.

Future owners could easily take the aircraft out to Nantucket for the day. Just drive the Transition to the closest airport, glide down the runway, and fly over the traffic at speeds of 115 mph to Nantucket for lunch. No car rental necessary. And in bad weather the plane can land at any airport and take to the highway. The aircraft also uses regular automotive gasoline and is good for trips under 500 miles.

Gersh says, “One of our goals is to put the excitement back in flying for all ages. We want to put the interest of becoming a pilot back in the minds of many people who never thought they could become pilots.”

Terrafugia looks to have a vehicle in customer’s hands by 2011. They are already taking downpayments of $10,000 toward the estimated cost of $198,000, which is less than the standard Cessna 172. Gersh describes the test flight as a “mile stone” and acknowledges that it was necessary to muzzle, temporarily at least, naysayers. “If you are making an airplane and it hasn’t flown, you don’t really have an airplane,” he admits.

But, to be sure, this aircraft is only for certified pilots. Gersh says it might replace their plane, but it’s not meant to replace their car, a la “Jetsons.” There is also still a significant amount of work left before the aircraft hits the market. It needs to undergo additional flight and drive testing and a pre-production prototype must be built and certified, according to the company’s press release. Still the fabled dream of transitioning seamlessly from land to air and back is a tremendous step, er, leap closer. Gersh says, “We are all tired, but it’s a good tired.” He adds, “And my kids are proud of me.”

Underwater Volcano Eruption

Dig this:

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Embeding Music

Great, now I’m in an embedding mood. Thanks google.

I wanted very much to be done with my RPM craptastic album this week. I’m not even close. So I’ll just embed Break Even’s second CD instead.

(I didn’t play lead guitar on “Turn Away” or “Suicide”. I co-wrote “The Right Place” sort of, barely, and “The Sun”, and the craptastic “Four Walls” was all mine babie.
Jeff Bisset – Vocals + Drums on tracks 1 & 2
Dave Gammon – Bass
Bob Sullivan – Drums on 3 – 7
Steve Wyka – Guitar + the tiny bit of Keyboards you might hear
Me – Guitar + backing vocals)

Screw Google Book Search

So I read an article on mashable today that said you can embed books from Google Book Search onto your web page. There is even a nice code generator available to do all the work for you.

I searched for Moby Dick, seeing as it was probably in the public domain which would legally allow me to post the whole bloody thing without owing anyone money, and went to the generator.

It gave me a spiffy little script to embed into an html page. I tried it. It didn’t work. I tried it again with a different reference and it didn’t work. I took one of their example jobbies and copied the source code, then used the ISBN numbers from the book I wanted and it worked!

I then came over to blogger to add it to a post here in order to give myself a little shot of snooty culture and it didn’t work. I then refreshed the page it had worked on 2.6 minutes prior and it didn’t work.

Screw you Google Book Search.

Anyway. Internet Explorer 8 came out today. Do I wanna? I have a version of it with Windows 7 on my laptop at home, but I am such a Firefox fanboy I have never even opened it. IE ranks fourth in my browser standings.
1. Firefox
2. Chrome
3. Safari
4. Internet Explorer.

Actually, I recently installed Opera on my linux machine so I would rank that ahead of IE. So I guess I’ll hold off on IE8 for now.

Back to your regularly scheduled ‘net surfing.

Stuff from the Road

Last night. Driving home from dinner. Junction of route 28 and route 213 in Methuen.

The photograph sucks. Here’s what we actually saw. Large blinking left arrow sign telling us that the right lane was closed and to move to the left. 10 feet after that was a diamond road construction sign telling us that the left lane was closed and to move to the right. Even better, 10 feet before the blinking left arrow sign was another diamond construction sign that said, “Left Lane Closed.”

I worry about this. Really, I do.

Here’s another one. This was on route 62 in Bedford, MA this morning.

There is nothing particularly interesting about the photo itself, just notice the school bus at the front of the line of traffic. That school bus had just stopped and picked up kids at Four Consecutive Houses. All on the right side of the road. Let me reiterate: FOUR. CONSECUTIVE. HOUSES.

May I state here publicly that I am not one of the retarded twitter users who fell for this article stating that twitter was going to offer premium accounts? Ummm… people actually believed the fail-whale tuxedo offer? (the fail-whale hoodie is another story) People actually believed that a writer offshore would embellish your tweets? Really? People actually believed the black level account stating that JK Rowling and Stephen King would write your tweets for you? Really? Not me. I’m a sucker, but I’m not that sucker.

Can the Bruins right the ship tonight against Los Angeles? They better, the Kings suck.

No RPM this morning. Robbie needed sleep.

Tomorrow, I promise.