28

Holding Dad’s Hand

My father died. They called us from the hospital, early-early in the morning with news he was in serious distress. I have always suspected he was already gone by that point, or nearly so. There had been some telephone mix up. A transposition of telephone numbers and they were unable to reach his home. I said I would handle it, and we hung up, but the phone rang immediately with my sister saying only “It’s time”. When I came into his room, it was crowded. There were a lot of students and someone explaining how to remove various tubes and hoses. I asked the first kid I saw if it was over and she… went into shock. I turned to the next with a similar result. Clearly, we had not reached the how-to-talk-to-family chapter of the textbook. “I am Virgil’s son. Can anyone here tell me if Virgil has died this morning, please?” Finally, a voice near the front said, “Yes. we’re sorry for your loss.” I explained the family was coming and we would like the room, please, and if it all possible, could they continue to remove the various tubes, hoses and apparatus? This was quickly done while I waited outside the room. At some interval, I saw my sister coming down the hallway with Dad’s widow. I didn’t […]

21

It’s A Dog!

I love having a dog. For years, I whined about not having one. I imagined myself going on long walks to the park, taking a book and bit of kibble. Telling my secrets and plans to a pair of dark, soulful eyes who listened without judging. I never knew it would be so good. My sister Amy got us our little boy several years ago. Supposedly a Miniature GoldenDoodle. But he has grown to 60lbs and more depending on how much of a “Good Boy!” he’s been this week. She got him from a breeder near her and plans were made for us to travel to pick him up over the holiday break. Snowy weather forced the rescheduling, and rescheduling and rescheduling of the transfer until I started to worry her children might think the dog was their own. But in due time, Kathie and I loaded up the car and headed off to Hannibal, Missouri, to pick him up. We were nervous. It had been years since either of us had a dog, and this would be the first time either of us would have a dog alone, without a parent or sibling on hand to offer up tips or suggestions. We drove off into the afternoon, wondering if we’d brought enough puppy pads, did we bring enough of […]

23

When Did THAT Change?

I try to keep up with things. I really do. And I understand that things are going to be kind of fluid as this one and that one stumbles upon the next Good Idea. But there seem to be a lot of changes made just to make changes. And an awful lot of things seem like they’re moving right past me now and I find myself asking When did that change? And how did it happen and I didn’t hear anything about it? Have you noticed this happening to you, too? Let’s Start With the Cities When I was a kid, we had to learn a few of the big-deal cities in the world. You know, so that when a big diplomatic thing went down, we would know where it was all happening. So, yeah. London. Check. Paris. Check. We moved through an awful lot of Europe, went kind of light on Africa to be honest, hit a few places in Asia and moved on to the next chapter. Maybe I am remembering it wrong, but I remember doing rather well in these exercises. I’m pretty sure that when Nixon went to China in 1972, he went to Peking. It was in all of the papers. And at some point in the last forty years, Peking became Beijing. I didn’t get the […]

16

The Father’s Day Picnic

The Hiatt Family Reunion, held in and around Norfolk for about forty-five years, was held every year on Father’s Day. Now everyone is gone. I miss the cousins, the laughter, the Double-KK chiggen, the illicit fireworks. The stories. The introductions. The mosquito bites. The old men playing horseshoes. The babies being changed on the tables in the back. The screams as a family that nobody expected rolled in from California or Texas or some other exotic locale. Nobody ever called ahead to clear the menu with anyone. Nobody ever said “I’m bringing Jell-O salad” or “I’m going to bring meat loaf” and yet we never had a year when all there was, was cole slaw or chicken or something like that. A Father’s Day Miracle! There was enough for all, and there was always a great variety. Lots of food, lots of drink. Lots of laughter. It Wasn’t Easy, To Begin It was an obligation, every year. Mom and Dad made me go. I hated getting ready, and until things really got popping, I hated being there. But then I hated to leave and I was always happy I went. One year, I took my new girlfriend, Doreen. She was nervous about “meeting the family” but seemed to relax and open up as she realized we were all just folks. […]

02

Technology Too

Let’s Talk About Technology Again Keeping with the idea of disruptive technology and how any of this stuff ever gets off of the ground…. A while back I had this discussion with regard to electric cars. The idea was proposed that nobody would ever buy a new electric car, because of what they are now referring to as range anxiety. The idea that Kathie and I could head off to Omaha for a little shopping, take in dinner and a movie, maybe meet for drinks with some friends of ours and then only make it back as far as Elmwood, rather than getting all of the way home to Lincoln, again. It could happen. Today. It’s rare to get more than about 200 miles out of a single charge. The Cars of Tomorrow But things are improving. Today’s electric cars are better than even the electrics of just a year ago. And there are charging stations popping all over now, too. You probably don’t notice them, and won’t if you’re not actively looking for them, but they are out there and if you have an electric, you’re taking note of these things, I’m sure. Last time we talked about how hard it must have been to sell radio commercials when nobody had radios. Can you imagine how difficult it must […]

26

Disruptive Technology

Last week or so I have bumped into the term Disruptive Technology a couple of times. This kind of thing has always fascinated me because it is so often the other side of the success coin. Think of all of the things that can stand in your way just trying to come up with a new way of doing something. Now imagine this new way either obsoletes an entire industry or needs to create one. Rady-Oh! I’ll give you one example. Many of you know I had a brief radio career in my twenties. In ScottsBluff, Nebraska, at one of the radio stations I worked with the second-generation of the family that started things back when there wasn’t radio, at the start of the Great Depression. The owner used to work on the air at the radio station he started all morning, then in the afternoons he would alternately go into town to meet with businesses to sell advertising—or—he would actually go door to door through the neighborhoods and out into the countryside, actually selling radios, so people could hear this new radio station. How hard must that have been? Get up in the morning and go in and present a morning radio show as if you had listeners when it might well be that it was as if you […]

19

Context

Context is something I always missed in History class, back in school. The least interesting or important thing about History, to me, was always the dates. Think about it. JFK was shot on November 22nd, 1963. But the important thing here is that he was shot. Then maybe that he was shot toward the end of November of 1963, then that he was shot toward the end of 1963. How would your life be any different if it had been Saturday, November 23rd? I bet it wouldn’t. The thing or event is important, and what the thing means or meant is important. How everyone involved reacted and has reacted since is important. But that it happened on a given day has never carried a lot of water, with me. Where do you draw the line with the granularity, there? Should we teach 1963 only? Should we teach November of 1963? Do we need to teach November 22nd of 1963? Does it have to be Friday, November 22nd, 1963? Friday, November 22nd, 1963, at 12:32pm Central Time in Dallas, Texas? At some point the fact becomes merely trivia. See what I mean? What possible difference could it make? I understand the idea that we need to assign dates and times like an index of sorts to historical events. Event 012345 comes […]

05

The Elasticity of Time

I’ve always been impressed with the elasticity of Time. You’ve probably seen a few examples of it yourself—how a moment doing this passes longer than an hour doing that. How you stumble upon a movie that you haven’t thought of in quite a while and suddenly realize you can’t quite place it in time. That last one happened to me just this last week, as I was scrolling through the TV listings and happened upon Tom Hanks in Castaway. It turns out that film came out in the year 2000, which means it can drive now and it’ll be old enough buy a drink next year. How can that be? Really? We measure time in a way we have found to be convenient and not really by any specific events. In other cultures, in other eras, they tried systems where every day had 24hrs, and the hours themselves grew or shrunk depending upon the season. That must have been a handful, huh? Then again, maybe one day another culture will wonder about our having so many time zones and then still using concepts like Daylight Savings. I don’t know. But what we call a day doesn’t begin at sunrise or end at sunset. And we have ordered our weeks and months and years accordingly, too. It doesn’t really matter anymore when the planting […]

28

April in the Rear View Mirror

I gotta say it: I’m not going to miss April. My father died in April. My mother died in April. A Facebook friend’s dog died, and a cousin’s dog died, too. And last week my favorite aunt, my father’s sister, also left us. We also finally completed refinancing our mortgage. And we cashed in our landline telephone and a bunch of TV channels we didn’t really watch so we are saving a tiny pile of money next month over what we spent in, say, March or February. But it all adds up. It’s been a lot of stress. I got to see my own sister again, which was terrific. But I also had to say goodbye to her again, which was awful, again. We had an out of state wedding to travel to which was really nice, but it was a long trip there and a long trip back and we couldn’t spend as much time as we’d have probably liked because of that. Somehow, I didn’t quite get our income taxes tuned-up, so I had to file an extension. Now I noodle a little bit every other day or so on them and hope to get them done in the next few days. When I was a kid, I somehow had this idea, maybe from fairy tales or something, […]

21

Why A Honda Fit, Mark?

So, Why A Honda Fit? I don’t get asked often, but from time to time people wonder how I came to choose a Honda Fit. “Gas prices are low… why don’t you get something bigger (or faster, or nicer, or what it turns out to be generally thirstier)? Well, I bought my Honda with the cash I had on hand. I haven’t made a car payment since 1997 and I didn’t feel like starting with this car. I just didn’t see the need. At around $22,000 the Fit was a comfortable, well, fit for my needs at the time as a commuter car for just myself with an occasional runabout for groceries or lunch some light shopping or something like that. More than a year on I have less than 7,000 miles on the little guy so fuel economy alone wasn’t going to be enough of a factor. If I’d bought a big V-12 engined luxury barge that got 9mpg the expenses would still be not all that different. But I am something of a tree-hugger. I was raised on that crying Indian, old Iron Eyes Cody, who was sad because people were littering. To me, it’s always been a good idea to do the most you can with the least you need. And besides, if I can spend $20 […]