Half-a-Life in 2012
For the fourth time in the last 30 years, I put all my (dwindling) household goods into storage not knowing when, where, or in what state (of mind and residence) I’d be removing them.
The short straw in 2012 went to Grants, New Mexico, where since August I’ve been gainfully employed (for the first time since 2007) as Manager for Instructional Technology at the Grants campus extension of New Mexico State University. This comes as a direct consequence of my May 2012 completion of the Masters degree in Educational Psychology at the University of New Mexico (as an outstanding graduate, I might add). To supplement my job-seeking summer activities I put together an online portfolio website, including a six-minute video resume.
In 2012, I turned 58 and my daughter turned 29. So I’ve lived, and will continue mathematically to live, more than half my life having a daughter. It also happens that 1983 marked the beginning of my own personal computing life with a TI-branded IBM compatible at work and a Commodore 64 at home. So from now on, I’ll also have lived more than half my life with computers.
By no means am I comparing my daughter to a computer. But it’s just an observation that she and computers (for me) came along about the same time. And coincidentally, we both now make our living by extending what we know about computing to others; she at the high school level with students and me at the community college level with faculty.
I guess you could say we’re engaged in the same business of managing electrons in order to influence neurons.
Missing K.C. and O.T.
Last February 23rd, while killing time waiting for a class at UNM, I checked email on my phone. I saw the always-dreaded Subject line from the Air Force Academy Association of Graduates: “Gone But Not Forgotten.” In this case, I immediately rushed into a computer lab to read the message full screen, because this time the Subject line included “Steinbaugh – 1976.”
K.C. Steinbaugh was my roommate for most of my last three years at the Academy, and if I had a “best friend” at USAFA, it was K.C. Even though he and his wife Liz and his three sons lived in Plano the entire time I lived in the Metroplex, I hadn’t seen him in the last ten years. I didn’t know that he had within just the past few months contracted a one-in-a-million neurological disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (known as CJD). One neurologist compared CJD to Lou Gehrig’s disease on steroids – always fatal, almost always within a year of first symptoms.
I attended his memorial service, then came back and as a tribute to K.C. and Danny Sawyer, another of our squadron classmates who died in 2006, I put together a video to commemorate our time at the Academy. The video and the obituary I wrote for the alumni publication are also available on this page:
Then in November I heard that O.T. Ryan, the long-time band director at Plainview High School and one of my dad’s best friends, died. I had visited O.T. and his wife Pat in March 2011.
It’s hard to escape the parallels – my best friend from college and my dad’s best friend as an adult died in the same year. And they both went by their initials.
A third death touched my life when, just a week before I was to vacate my Santa Fe apartment, my landlord Dennis Leon died at his home in San Miguel, Mexico, after steadily failing health over the previous year. He and his partner Roger normally came to Santa Fe every year at the end of May to do maintenance on the property, take care of local business, and lease renewals. I delayed my departure a couple of days in order to visit with Roger. I consider them good friends after three years as their tenant and commend Roger for his yeoman efforts to nurse Dennis through a very difficult year.
Disparate things on my mind … next month will be the 20th anniversary of “The One-Minute Poem.” I honestly can’t say if I’ve made much progress in stowing away my self-criticizing red pen.
During the summer, after graduating and before I accepted the offer from NMSU Grants, I stayed with my sister and brother-in-law. I had a lot of time to think about the paths I’ve taken and the choices I’ve made. I came to the conclusion that more than anything else, what I want to do is have quality time to think about the things I want to think about.
A national monument, El Morro (Inscription Rock) is a 45-minute drive from Grants. I visited it one Saturday in October. It’s an imposing rock formation that has ancient markings from the Anasazis, the remnants of a pueblo atop the rock, and from 1605 to 1905, inscriptions from travelers. Literally, El Morro was the rock-hard precursor to a Facebook update: “Governor Don Juan de Onate checked in, 1605, +27 not counting slaves.”
The first week I was in Grants, I ate at a local Chinese place. I got the obligatory fortune cookie when I finished. But far from the usual insipid and trite bromide that has come to pass as a digestible “fortune,” I kept this one.
I don’t presume this as a forecast or prediction. But I will admit it’s always been a motivator that I haven’t always lived up to.
Stacy is now engaged to Chris, who surprised her with an engagement party I was able to attend just before I left for Grants. In addition to her teaching job, she’s developing a real photography business for senior pictures, weddings, special events, boxing matches, and anything else that needs to be graphically captured for posterity.
Stacy and Chris took me to the new Perot Science Museum in downtown Dallas after Christmas. Here’s my version of “Roger and Me” (as in Roger Staubach) and why Slingr is, well, Slingr.
I had a great weekend visit with two dear friends, Andrea and Alta, in September. I needed it more than they.
For awhile I tried to maintain my interest in examining and scrutinizing what I believe are … suspicions … about the management of CHRISTUS St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe. I went so far as to request over 600 pages of county documents under the state’s public records act. But one can only fight so many battles and I’ve come to the realization that I can’t win this one.
Unexpected Pleasures of 2012
- Downton Abbey (PBS)
- Sherlock Holmes (BBCA)
- The Hour (BBCA)
- The Newsroom (HBO)
And for some reason I’ve been hooked on these classic Queen videos. Maybe I’ll need to come back to these later.
A New Hope for 2013
Love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the light
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
There are a lot of people around the world and across the street who, for whatever reasons and causes and circumstances, exist “on the edge of the light.”
My hope for 2013 is that the Time Magazine will be justified to select as their collective Person of the Year, “The Other.”