January 17, 2008, Cornwall On Hudson, New York

January 17, 2008, Cornwall On Hudson, New York

It has been a rather boring week at this end. The days are dragging a bit as I realize I am going to be heading home tomorrow.

Nothing earth shattering happening at the office or at home, so I’ll share some of the boring details.

The Academy has things pretty under control with the Blackboard server, which makes my job pretty easy, but boring. There are occasional problems but nothing too difficult. I should know better than to complain that things are too easy or too boring, I am just asking for trouble.

But I was able to finally meet Rajesh in the SEB section. Jeff had tried to get me over to meet him while I was here in December but it just never happened. He is a little older than I expected and a real nice guy. He made a comment at one point about the size of my head I think, but I could not be sure what he meant by it.

I have been sort of feeling my way around about purchases and am beginning to think Dr. Evans is about as tight as Ruth with money. Not that he has flat out denied anything I have asked for, but he seems to want to be convinced something it actually necessary. He referred me to the Library when I asked about possible subscribing to Lynda.com for a couple of their titles, and when I asked for the upgrade to Camtasia 5, a $90 purchase plus $45 annual maintenance, he said we could likely get it if I thought we really needed it. Wow, how about that. A whopping $135 might just break the Army’s educational technology budget.

Having never had to be directly responsible for a budget, though, I can only guess he is under pressure to keep things as tight as possible. I will probably not need anything else in the short term so I will push for the upgrade and see how it goes.

I was at a Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon with him and we had a great talk. He asked about how the family and I were coping with the separation. He was genuinely concerned and I appreciated his interest. He and Kim are great to work for so far.

Before I forget, because I meant to mention this a few days ago, there is not a lot of airline traffic up this way. But I have on two occasions now seen large Xs in the sky, the result of two vapor trails crossing. I remember over the holidays Connor saw a couple of jets leaving vapor trails and about a small X two of them had made. He would have really liked these displays. Now every time I see vapor trails, shaped as Xs or not, I will think of him marveling over them.

Another way of dealing with the loneliness and isolation so far has been to try and keep in touch with people back home. I called Jeff Schwartz the other day to ask him a question about Blackboard logs and really just wanted to BS to him. Jeff’s a good guy but I fear he has gone over to the dark side as Joe mentioned. He sent me a note the day after I chatted with Jeff complaining I had not called him. I tried to call him today, only to get his voice mail. He never called back. Now I can whine to him.

After heading a few nights back to shop, I was excited to find a replacement double burner griddle for Lisa at the K-Mart in Vails Gate. I was looking for storage containers for taking lunches to work and luckily went through the kitchen section. There is was, a Kenmore model with decent handles and really sturdy. I thought it was only about $20, but when I checked out I realized it was almost $40. I looked it up on their website and they had it listed for the same $37.99 I paid. It must have been hanging on the wrong hook when I read the price.

I stopped by the Price Shopper (Chopper) or Shop Rite (can’t remember, but it was not the Hannafords) and could not believe how much they wanted for apples ($2.29 a pound for Galas) and yogurt (99 cents each for the Yoplait Light). Buying my food in Pittsburgh for sure and hauling it here. Fella could go broke at these prices, even living the modest life of a bachelor in the woods …

Finally, the other night I was poking around my hard drive out of boredom, and came across a folder of files I have passed along from machine to machine, hard drive to hard drive, and originated on a 5.25 inch floppy about 20 years ago. They were the articles, letters and journal entries I made using WordStar on a dual floppy Zenith computer in Okinawa.

I was able to get Word 2007 to open them in a readable format after figuring out ASCII was the best option for this. I read letters I wrote to Marcinko (probably while he was hitting on Lisa), articles I wrote for the Windjammer, journal entries I made on Okinawa and transcribed from handwritten notes I wrote in boot camp, and letters I wrote to Bryan Luptak.

Without having his letters to put things into context, I was able to figure out that he was one of the few people who wrote (or wrote back) to me while I was in Okinawa. He was a really good friend and we had a lot in common – photography, the music we liked, the women we liked (he made a move on Lisa once – never let her forget it but never held it against either of them).

And I started thinking about the last time I saw Bryan. It was at his funeral. Bryan died March 6, 2003 at age 39. He committed suicide. We had lost touch so long ago despite one of my letters predicting we would be friends throughout our lives. I know he had problems with the women in his life, but never really was able to find out from anyone who knew exactly what was the final straw.

When I think of him, I remember the good times. The days and nights we spent together in the produce room at Shop ‘N Save, tormenting George Spong, getting wasted at parties, in the parking lot during breaks, talking about the newest cameras coming out, etc. Everyone at the funeral (Rege and Pam, Barb and Bob, Kevin and Caroline) could not believe it. I could. He was creative and had sensitive and I could see where this would leave him vulnerable. And his taste in women, as I remember it after we only saw each other at ‘reunions” at Flaherty’s house, somehow took a strange twist. He was always dating women much older than him, mostly already with kids. It was sort of a running joke at one point.

I guess this is one of the reasons I am compelled to keep writing this journal, no matter how mundane it might be some days. It is a snapshot in time for me, to look back on 20 years from now and reflect on how the decisions in my life nudged me one way or another, and the relationships in my life. If I had kept in touch with Bryan, would it have changed anything? How much did our friendship mean to him and did leaving the area for the Navy set in motion anything that could have change the paths of our lives forever?

So, what have I learned this week … that it is important to never forget your past, and the best way to do that is to find a way to document it. Through a blog, a journal, photos, videos, whatever. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Someone someday will find what you have to say or show fascinating, even if it is you 20 years from now, sitting in a cottage in the middle of the woods somewhere.

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