My old man died Saturday. He lived a long, rich life: born in Kansas during the Great Depression, he grew up in the Pacific Northwest, served in the Army, built planes for Boeing, earned a university degree at night, and worked for the Veterans Administration until his retirement. He was a good man and a good citizen, a loving father and a devoted grandfather.

I could tell a lot of stories about him, but this is the one I like best.

When I was fifteen, he drove me and my friend Ben out to Worcester to see R.E.M. at the Centrum. Upon dropping us off he gave me instructions on where to meet afterwards. Excited to see my first rock concert, I promptly forgot whatever he told me.

After the show the consequence of my neglect became apparent. Me and Ben walked around for quite a bit. Finally I saw a guy standing on a street corner with his hand raised, as if in benediction.

It was indeed my father. Once we didn’t show up, he decided to get out of the car and make himself visible. He’d received a few high fives, and someone had asked him if he was the messiah.

He was good-natured about the whole thing. One of his many fine qualities was a subtle appreciation for the ridiculous.

So long, Dad.



Resourceful Humans


Quite exciting, this computer magic: I just learned the word “educationalist” exists.

I thought “educator” was bad enough, as it combines inflationary titling (“team associate” etc) with a macabre,* Khmer Rouge-esque flair. Next they’ll be calling us “instructional delivery curators.”

It reminds me of a conversation with my dad, who worked for the VA. “Personnel!” he’d say when he picked up the phone, for that’s what his department was called back then. When I was just out of college and looking for a job, I made the error of mentioning that I was going to call a human resources department.

“What are you going to tell them?” he asked.  “That you have 180 lbs of human resources to offer?”

It’s been difficult for me to use that term without wincing since.

And, I just checked… but I won’t have the heart to break it to the old man: now the VA calls it the “Office of Human Resources Management.”


*In the original sense of the word as well as Anthony Blanche’s sense.