Category Archives: family

Life happens

I have not blogged in a long time. Mostly this is due to a combination of procrastination and a sense that anything I did wish to say about the industry – HTML5, CSS3, vendor prefixes, progressive enhancement, responsive design, etc – was being said better by someone with far more reason to listen to then myself.

I’ve come to two realizations. One is that even if I reiterate some points that others make – specifically by attributing them – that it’s beneficial as it shows and builds my understanding of the issue as well as – by attribution and, therefore, SEO – strengthens the views expressed by the “giants” of my industry. Second is that sometimes it’s ok to “remove the mask” and show the human side. Reading the blogs of my peers and mentors has shown that they have a willingness to showcase not just industry knowledge. Through this I’ve gained an appreciation for both the person and their skill as well as a better understanding of them as a whole.

This second realization is what I wish to touch on today as the last year saw two life defining moments for me.

The first was one many here in the US felt. For almost 5 years I was the sole and principal UI developer for Helium. My code still exists everywhere on their site. Last July I lost my position with Helium.

For many, especially myself, we are defined by our jobs. First because in having a career it validates us to have a job. It shows that a company trusts our skill enough to validate us by paying us to do something we love. Something we do on our own – often without compensation. Second because it gives us purpose. Having a job is a responsibility – a reason to get up every morning, get in our car, and drive to an office. We have responsibilities to our fellow developers and to our users – something that all (good) developers feel and are motivated by.

Fortunately, in my case, this was actually a good thing. At the end of my time with Helium I was spending a good portion of my week working from home and sleeping very little. This was because I was spending most of my hours as the primary caretaker for my dad who was under hospice care. On August 3, 2012 we lost Dad.

Dad had suffered a stroke and heart attack back in 2004 and almost died then. He was never the same after the stroke but he was living and happy – and that was good enough. For the year or so before he passed Dad had been acting erratically. We didn’t realize how serious it was until he ended up going into the hospital in May and they told us. We had a scare in June and then in the beginning of July, after much cajoling – as Dad was always stubborn – we convinced him to move in with me so I could take care of him.

Losing Dad was difficult. However, in the eulogy I talked about something my Faith has taught me – seeing the blessing even in the bad. Losing someone I was close to changed my perspective on life. Different things are important to me now. I don’t worry so much about things that aren’t worth worrying about. While I falter sometimes – as we all do – for the most part I know to focus on what is really important and not to let the small things in life get me down. I’ve learned to count my blessings. For that part of it, I’m thankful.

My Uncle

I’ve had these thoughts for almost 2 weeks now.  Ever since I heard my uncle has passed away.  The last time I saw him was over a year and a half ago.  He was very sick at the time and from what he told me and what I saw I didn’t think I’d see him again.  I was right in that, but wrong in that he would live so long.

My uncle was a deacon, a father, a husband, a brother and above all else a good man.  I didn’t know him as well as I wish I had, especially considering the fact that he was my Godfather and my father’s big brother.  But from what I do know about him I know that I respected him a great deal, that he had a great sense of humor that could make you laugh at the oddest times at the oddest things, and that if when I die if they say I was half the man he was then I can consider my life worthwhile.

My uncle wanted his 4 brothers to be among his pallbearers but my father suffered a stroke a few years ago and was not able to.  I was given the honor of taking his place.  At the reception afterwards, my aunt thanked me for what I had done and I was too overwhelmed at the time to correct her – that I should have thanked her for letting me pay my respects to him and honor him in that way.

When my father had his stroke, I prepared myself mentally because for awhile, it looked like he would not survive.  I was lucky in that God saw fit to grant me more time with him.  After many years of bad blood between us we had just recently, at the time, started to make amends.  The passing of my uncle led me to think of the fact that soon my parents might follow.  I wish I could say I am a strong enough man that the thought didn’t scare me to my core – but I can’t.

My uncle was a man of faith and his faith in the face of cancer strengthened my faith.  I hope that he knows that.

Proud Uncle

I have been lax in my postings but I am working on several revisions, templates and a reskin of the site.  That, plus personal commitments has kept me away.

I did want to announce that I am the proud uncle and godfather of one Victoria Madison.  She was born around 5pm.  I have never been more proud of my little brother – which is saying a lot because though I may not tell him enough, I have always been proud of him.

No random tidbit today.  Possible pictures once I get permission and my Flickr integrated.

Remembering A Friend

Today will be six months to the day when I lost my last ferret Mugsy. Sometimes, I find it hard to even realize that she is gone. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized being sad will not honor the memory of my furry friend. Ferrets are a misunderstood pet and many people are misinformed about them. So I decided to post the top 5 reasons why you should welcome ferrets into your life.

5. No other pet will be more loyal or make you laugh more. I’ve had dogs. I had a very good dog. But my ferrets were the best. They knew me by name and face. They were always happy to see me. I was the best thing in their eyes. Their antics and the stories I have still bring a smile to my face.

4. They are always happy. When I let them out of their cage it was like I was giving them the greatest gift in the world. When I chased them, they only liked it more. My only regret is that I thought I would have more time and didn’t do more of either.

3. The only thing more fun that one ferret is two. Or three. Or four. I had only planned on getting 3 ferrets and ended up taking a fourth one in. He proved more work than the other 3 combined. But he was awesome.

2. You can’t help but smile when ferrets get going. I have so many stories of them tackling each other, of the smallest dragging the largest by the scruff after he tackled her, of them getting so agitated by my sister putting their toys away that they’d actually come over and dook (scold) me, and of them teaming up on my cat that I can’t even go into detail on them. I still smile whenever I think about it.

1. You can’t say you’ve lived a complete life until you’ve seen a “weasel war dance.” When a ferret gets extremely happy and/or excited they hop around, tossing their head and expending energy frenetically. It’s extremely hard to explain the weasel war dance. But I dare anyone but the most cold hearted among us to see this in action and not want a ferret in their life.

I cannot get more ferrets at this time. But after much thought I’ve decided that when I do get my own place, I think I will get more “carpet sharks.” I’ll never be able to replace my original foursome, but that’s not really the point. I hope after reading this you give ferrets a chance. They’re not stinky rodents – it’s more like having a kitten that never grows up, but many times more energetic.

Random Tidbit: A collection of weasel war dances found on YouTube: one two three

My ferrets in a happier time:
My ferrets in a happier time

Changes

Sometimes, life likes to come up and kick you in the teeth – figuratively speaking. I recently relocated back to New England from Virginia. Moving from your own apartment to back into a parent’s house is never fun. At all. Add that to the fact that a month ago last Monday I lost Mugsy – my last ferret. This one was not much more fun then the rest. No cancer, but an accident cut her life short and I had to put her down. It’s the hardest decision you can make – especially when the pet is your sole responsibility. I hate doing it, but it’s worse to watch someone you loved for 7 years suffer just so you can have a little more time.

And just like that I have no more ferrets. It’s almost like that old saying (song?) – “this is how the world ends… not with a bang, but with a whimper.” The same day I had to make that decision I went back down to VA to help a friend. And in the process of puppy sitting, she lost her mother dog and 5 of the 6 puppies – and I thought I had it tough. I can’t imagine losing a young, perfectly healthy animal and then most of the reminders of that pet. Unfortunately, with the loss of Mugsy I don’t think I was much help, I just couldn’t process any more grief.

Fortunately, I have a new person in my life that has helped to ease me through these changes. It was sort of ironic, like before she went Mugsy wanted to make sure I was taken care of – like she’d done the past few years.

Not big on dumping out my feelings, especially in a public forum, but with the long absence I felt justification was deserved. I’ll be back to having more web design info, sites and thoughts soon.

Random Tidbit: I wanted to give something web design related. So for those of you who are new to blogging, I stumbled across 2 interesting articles. One talks about 5 ways to build a better blog – content is the key – and the second talks about 21 tips to starting a blog successfully – some good ideas in there I could have used a few months ago. Enjoy.