My dad passed away one year ago yesterday.

I was going to write something about this yesterday, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. I’m still not sure what I’ll say about it today. It took me a couple of days before I managed to write an entry about his death when it happened last year. I miss him and I think about him pretty often, but that’s probably not a surprise to anyone.

Reflecting back on it now it occurs to me that I’m entering that stage of life where losing people close to me is going to happen more frequently. My father-in-law passed two years ago — it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long — all of my uncles on my mother’s side have been gone for years, my grandparents have been gone for over a decade, good friends of mine have left the world sooner than they should have, and now it’s been a year since my dad died. Some of those deaths were unexpected, but the last couple haven’t been.

I’m not sure how to feel about that. My reactions are mixed between the emotional and selfish side that wants to hold onto loved ones for as long as possible and the logical, rational side that says this is a part of life that shouldn’t come as a surprise. I guess the best that I can do is to appreciate the good times we had and that I continue to have with those still here. If your dad is still around today give him a hug for me. I bet he’ll appreciate it.

 

My father has passed away.

Albert Axsom — Jay to his friends and family — died in the early morning hours on Monday, July 21st, 2014. He was 73 years old and his 40th wedding anniversary to my mother was just the day before he passed. The cause was complications from a blood clot in his arm that had broken up and migrated to his lungs. He was on life support and my family made the decision to wean him off of it and let him pass peacefully. I was present and a part of that decision. It’s a decision I’ve been thinking about ever since. I’m still convinced it was the right thing to do, but it still bothers me. It’s part of why it’s taken me several days to write this entry.

Jay was not my biological father, but you’d never have known just by observing us. He took on three kids that weren’t his own when he married my mother and always treated us as though we were blood relatives. He was the only father my sister ever knew as our biological father had died when she was only a couple months old. He did his best in trying to raise us and he took pride in us as only a true father can.  He was a voracious reader of books until his eyesight deteriorated too much from diabetes to see the words on the page. He loved to cook and always had a new kitchen gadget to show you or recipe to try when you came to visit. He and my mother spent their summers making jam and preserves which they gave away to just about everyone they met. His cabbage relish is still one of the very few ways I’ll ever eat cabbage.  He was one of the most friendly people I’ve ever known and was able to strike up a conversation with people he’d just met as though he’d known them all his life. He wasn’t always easy to get along with — no one is — but you never doubted that he loved you.

Dad’s passing isn’t entirely unexpected as he has been suffering the effects of his diabetes for many years. Near the end he was having trouble seeing his computer screen and had taken to just listening to recipe videos on YouTube. He had to get around using a walker and was almost always tied to a portable oxygen tank. Trips to a clinic for dialysis had long been a routine for him. All of that is over for him now. He was as good a father as anyone could have hoped for and I am going to miss him terribly in the days and years to come.

Sylvia Browne manages to be wrong one last time.

Sylvia-BrowneSelf-proclaimed professional psychic Sylvia Browne, whom I’ve written about previously, has passed away at the age of 77. Some 11 years short of her prediction that she’d die at the age of 88.

I mention her passing not as an opportunity to gloat or celebrate her death, but as a final point to the fact that she was a charlatan who made herself rich preying upon grieving and desperate people while providing no real benefit to anyone outside of herself.

Alas, she is (was) not alone in lacking the scruples required to not take advantage of vulnerable and gullible people. Plenty of other “psychics” will fill the void left by her passing in short time. The best we can do is to continue to point out their techniques and try to educate people to avoid being scammed.

It is a sad day for memes: Mr. Trololo has passed away.

The song wasn’t particularly popular back when it was released in 1976, but it eventually found fame on the Internet nearly 40 years later and now the man who sang it has passed on:

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Eduard Khil was a beloved Soviet crooner who only won sudden international stardom two years ago when a 1976 video of him singing “trololo” instead of the songs censored words became a global Internet hit.

Khil, best known as Mr. Trololo, died Monday at age 77.

He had been hospitalized in St. Petersburg since a stroke in early April that left him with severe brain damage. The stroke was the cause of his death, said Tatyana Mamedova of Petersburg-Kontsert, which organized Khils concerts.

Soviet crooner Mr Trololo dies in Russia – People Wires – MiamiHerald.com

Contrary to the claim in the article, the lyrics weren’t censored. They just didn’t really have any according to Mr. Khil himself. The had a lyric or two, but thought they were pretty bad so he just made up some vocalizations and winged it resulting in eventual Internet fame.

If you’ve never heard his rendition of “I Am Glad, ‘Cause I’m Finally Returning Back Home”, and if you’ve been on the Internet for any amount of time it’s hard to imagine how you haven’t, then here it is in all its glory:

That man could sing.

A few thoughts on the passing of Steve Jobs.

I’m not an Apple fanboy by any stretch of the imagination — I have one original iPod that was given to me by a company I worked for at the time — but I would be remiss if I didn’t pay my respects to Steve Jobs and all that he accomplished. To say that he had an impact on computing and gadgets would be an understatement. He made PCs fashionable as well as functional and he revolutionized the industry several times over.

Arguably the greatest testament of his genius is the fact that Apple at one point kicked him out of his own company and then proceeded to drive itself into the ground, nearly going bankrupt in the process, only to have Steve return and build the company back up into the tech powerhouse it is today. Windows PCs still dominate the market, but Apple arguably has a bigger influence on form and function of how we get things done.

A good example is the tablet PC and this image that’s been making the rounds illustrates exactly how Steve Jobs and Apple could change everything with the release of a single product:

Click to embiggen!

Before the iPad came along  most tablets were clunky attempts at wedging a laptop into as small a form factor as you could and not one of them enjoyed mainstream success. Steve Jobs revolutionized a niche market and made it mainstream. He did the same thing with MP3 players and cellphones. Whether you’re an Apple fanboy or not, we’ve all benefited from the innovations that Apple has put out under Steve Job’s guidance.

The question now is: Can Apple keep it up now that Jobs is gone? I don’t follow the company close enough to know if Steve put people with a similar gift for innovation into key positions prior to his stepping down a few months back, but I assume he would’ve had the foresight to try and do so. Then again, it was Steve himself who persuaded John Sculley to leave Pepsi and come to Apple where he would eventually kick Steve out of his own company. That said, regardless of Apple’s future fortunes, there’s no dispute that Jobs legacy in technology will be felt for a long time to come. It leaves you to wonder how many more tech revolutions he might have started if he hadn’t passed at such a young age.

Thanks for all you’ve done, Steve.

Elisabeth Sladen, actress who played Sarah Jane Smith on “Doctor Who”, passes away.

Well my afternoon just took a major downturn:

Elisabeth Sladen dies, aged 63 – Digital Spy

Elisabeth Sladen has passed away at the age of 63.

The actress is best known for portraying Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures. The cause of death is not yet clear.

Just as Tom Baker was the Doctor that got me started on watching Doctor Who all those years ago, Sarah Jane Smith was the first companion I got to know. When she returned to reprise the role in the new series with David Tennant as The Doctor, it finally made the show feel like a real continuation for me. Not to mention it was great to see her take on the role in the Sarah Jane Adventures spin-off that was developed for her after her new series appearance.

I don’t normally get upset over the death of a celebrity, but I have a lot of fond memories from my childhood of watching The Doctor and Sarah as they traveled through time and space. So I’m feeling this one a bit more than usual.

Thanks for the great memories Sarah Jane.

Sarah Jane Smith and The Doctor

It’s a sad day in SEBLand: Inventor of the Hawaiian shirt has died.

I declare today a National Day of Mourning as the inventor of one of my favorite shirt styles, Alfred Shaheen, has died at the age of 86:

As tourists from the US to Hawaii after World War II, many began to bring home colorful but cheesy looking shirts and sundresses that would be cause for much amusement among friends.

Shaheen began to change that in 1948 when he opened Shaheen’s of Honolulu and began designing, printing and producing “aloha” shirts, dresses and other ready-to-wear clothing of better quality.

Among those seen in Shaheen-designed shirts of that era was Elvis Presley, who wore one for the cover of his 1961 soundtrack album “Blue Hawaii.”

Such Shaheen originals now sell for more than £500

“Before Shaheen came along, there was no Hawaii garment industry. There were mom and pop stores but no real modern industry,” Linda Arthur, a professor of textiles and clothing at Washington State University said.

I loves me some Hawaiian shirts. Those and t-shirts comprise the majority of my wardrobe. OK so I’ll admit that until I saw this news story I didn’t even know someone had invented Hawaiian shirts, but it’s still a bummer to hear he’s passed on.

“Gee. He was just here a minute ago.” - George Carlin passes away at 71.

One of my favorite comedians has died:

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN)—Comedian-actor George Carlin, known for his raunchy but insightful humor, died of heart failure Sunday in Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 71.

Jeff Abraham says Carlin went into St. John’s Health Center on Sunday afternoon, complaining of chest pain. Carlin died at 5:55 p.m. PDT, The Associated Press reported.

Carlin, who had a history of heart trouble, performed as recently as last weekend at the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas.

“He was a genius and I will miss him dearly,” Jack Burns, who was the other half of a comedy duo with Carlin in the early 1960s, told the AP.

Carlin was best known for his routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television,” which appeared in 1972’s “Class Clown” album.

When Carlin uttered all seven at a show in Milwaukee in 1972, he was arrested for disturbing the peace, the AP reported. The comedy sketch prompted a landmark indecency case after WBAI-FM radio aired it in 1973.

The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court where the justices ruled on a 5-to-4 vote that the sketch was “indecent but not obscene,” giving the FCC broad leeway to determine what constituted indecency on the airwaves.

“So my name is a footnote in American legal history, which I’m perversely kind of proud of,” Carlin said. “In the context of that era, it was daring.”

“It just sounds like a very self-serving kind of word. I don’t want to go around describing myself as a ‘groundbreaker’ or a ‘difference-maker’ because I’m not and I wasn’t,” he said. “But I contributed to people who were saying things that weren’t supposed to be said.”

The title of this entry is what Carlin said he’d like folks to say upon hearing of his death so it seemed only appropriate. The following is a bit called “Modern Man” from one of his HBO specials:

He was a funny man and I’ll miss him greatly.

Get ready to cue the various editorial cartoonists depicting his arrival in Heaven in spite of the fact that he was an avowed atheist.

“Dungeons & Dragons” co-creator Gary Gygax fails his saving throw.

And another part of my childhood passes away:

Dungeons & Dragons co-creator dies at 69 – Yahoo! News

MILWAUKEE – Gary Gygax, who co-created the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons and helped start the role-playing phenomenon, died Tuesday morning at his home in Lake Geneva. He was 69.

He had been suffering from health problems for several years, including an abdominal aneurysm, said his wife, Gail Gygax.

Gygax and Dave Arneson developed Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 using medieval characters and mythical creatures. The game known for its oddly shaped dice became a hit, particularly among teenage boys, and eventually was turned into video games, books and movies.

I’ve not played D&D for years, but I spent years in my teens and early 20’s playing it along with a host of other pen and paper RPGs. I have many fond memories of hanging out with Bill, Bob, Tom, Mark, Daryl, Dan, and Herb rolling dice and consuming vast quantities of pizza and pop and arguing over rule interpretations. Probably explains my addiction to video games like World of Warcraft which is, in many ways, a pale imitation of those older days.

And, yes, I realize the title for this entry is a really bad joke, but you know I had to use it.

“Mr. Whipple” kicks the Charmin.

It’s a sad day for toilet paper obsessives everywhere as Dick Wilson, best known as the neurotic grocer who defended Charmin bathroom tissue from the groping clutches of lonely housewives, has passed away:

The man famous as TV’s “Mr. Whipple” died of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Hospital in Woodland Hills, said his daughter Melanie Wilson, who is known for her role as a flight attendant on the ABC sitcom “Perfect Strangers.”

Wilson made more than 500 commercials as Mr. George Whipple, a man consumed with keeping bubbly housewives from fondling toilet paper. The punch line of most spots was that Whipple himself was a closeted Charmin-squeezer.

The first commercial aired in 1964 and by the time the campaign ended in 1985 the tag line and Wilson, a former Canadian airman and vaudeville veteran, were pop culture touchstones.

Seriously though, what the hell was up with those housewives? I mean, check this out:

The second woman in that first commercial looks like she’s on the verge of having an orgasm or something. Which just shows that people in commercials come from an entirely different planet.