Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Father-In-Law


My father-in-law died late last night.

His role in my life began in 1993, when he made the decision to take early retirement from Westinghouse (now Northrup Grumman).  I had already dated his daughter once a few years earlier.  One ex-girlfriend and a few other what-might-have-beens later, Sandy and I were rebuilding our friendship.  Anyway, he and my mother-in-law opted to take the early out money and move to Reno, Nevada.  We stopped over their house as they were holding a yard sale at their old Catonsville house; I got hold of a desk of theirs.  One of the catalysts for my relationship with Sandy was her invitation to come visit them with her after they'd moved.

When we visited them, I found out he didn't mind throwing down a buck or two at the casinos, although he stuck mainly with slots and video poker: I don't remember him playing many table games.  He also showed us that many of the casinos had great restaurant deals, and the first place he took us was the steakhouse at Western Village in Sparks.  We would visit him and my MIL in Reno several times over the years.

My FIL was always a pithy man.  He and my MIL took many trips Back East to see family and for their own sake; their typical itinerary involved Baltimore, Atlantic City, Ocean City, and Lancaster County, PA.  He loved going to Jennings Restaurant in Catonsville for chicken, and G&M's in Linthicum for crab cakes.  We met them once at Willow Valley Resort outside Lancaster, and that was when I asked him for his permission to marry Sandy.  His response was, "Well, I don't see why not; you two are mature adults . . . Hey, what do you think about the Notre Dame game this afternoon?"

At the wedding, I practically had to make him give me a hug after he walked Sandy up the aisle.  At the reception, MIL told us via the videographer, "And I hope you have lots and lots of grandchildren!"  He replied, "Shouldn't they have children first?"

We enjoyed taking walks together, usually just around the neighborhood or a nearby lake.  And we would talk about mostly sports or politics, nothing too deep (as if the Willow Valley conversation wasn't an indication of that).  And he surprised us all by taking us to Hawaii in 2005; it was a surprise 45th anniversary present for my MIL, and as an added surprise, he brought us along.  We treated it as an early 10th anniversary trip. 

In early 2008, we decided to move to Nevada.  Almost immediately afterward, we found out he had colorectal cancer, which made our moving out here all the more necessary.  Sandy is their only child.  The four of us dined together frequently, and we also took them to a Reno Aces baseball game.

His condition steadily worsened over the last month.  Just under two weeks ago, as he began hospice care, we managed to take him and MIL to the Western Village steakhouse . . . the same place he'd taken us back in 1993.

That was the last time I saw him alive.  Now I pray for the repose of his soul.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.



Monday, April 18, 2011

On the Crab

Sandy and I haven't had cable TV for several years now.  I really haven't minded not having it, although there are a few nuggets worth watching that you can't find on over-the-air TV.

One of those is the Discovery show "Deadliest Catch," which I first saw when I was in the hospital back in 2007.  I found it rather interesting, but didn't make a big deal out of it.  Then last year, one of the local stations started showing reruns.  Sandy and I have become, as it were, hooked.  Now that we have Netflix, we've been "catch"-ing up with the previous seasons.

One of the things I scratch my head about is why I like this show.  I hate fishing.  I'm not that comfortable on the water.  I'd make a hideous "greenhorn."  Besides the fact that I'm woefully out of shape, talk to me sometime when I'm sleep deprived and you'll see what I mean.

I guess it's the various elements of drama: fighting the waves and the ice, dealing with mechanical problems and injuries (not to mention the ever-present threat of death), personality clashes (but I'm glad it's not all about the personality clashes, or else it would be like that reality TV wasteland known as MTV), and never knowing if the crab pot is full until it breaks the surface.  And a lot of men can make a lot of money in a little time . . . if they don't mind going through a frozen hell to get it.

So far, it seems the captains aren't letting their new-found fame get to their heads . . . too much, although a contract dispute nearly cost the show the Hillstrand brothers and Sig Hansen, arguably the signature personalities.  Then again, the show's gotten so big, it's spawned a convention called "CatchCon."

Now if only they fished Maryland blue crab.  Mmmmmm.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Eyes Of Fallon Are Upon You

In July of 2009, Sandy and I took a ride one Friday afternoon to the areas east of Reno and Sparks.  We started by heading up to picturesque Pyramid Lake, so picturesque Apple used a nighttime picture of it for its iPad background.  We still need to spend a day up there; the air and water are warmer than Lake Tahoe. 

Then we drove south to Fernley, which had been devastated the year before by a canal rupture that caused a major flood.  It had been one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation.  Now, it's home of the highest unemployment rate in the state.  Then we turned east for Fallon.

One purpose of the ride was for Sandy to show me Naval Air Station Fallon, home of the "Top Gun" aircraft.  We got as close as we could to the base as ordinary civilians could.

It was getting toward dinner time, so we headed into Fallon, looking for someplace to eat.  One barometer we've often used when being in an unfamiliar place: go where it's crowded.  We noticed a lot of people outside this place called the Pizza Barn.  The owner talks about it here, and we found it hard to argue with him.  It's great pizza, and the decor is quite unique.  Over the bar is a sign that says "Free Beer Tomorrow."

But as we ate our pizza, we felt like we had eyes burning through us.  Not only (as the owner said) are the workers a tightly knit bunch, so is the town of Fallon as a whole.  I guess something about us recent Maryland transplants said "Not From Around Here" like a neon sign.  I figured with the NAS, Fallon residents are used to seeing new faces.  Maybe not.

We drove back through the canyons between Fernley and Sparks on I-80 back home.  I wouldn't mind getting that pizza again, but I hope we wouldn't garner so many stares.

A Techie Issue

I just upgraded to Windows 7, and it took me more than a week to successfully install my wireless USB adapter.  I post what I found in case anyone else has the same issue.

The Netgear WG111V3 G54 wireless adapter is compatible with Windows 7, but it doesn't take too kindly to ZoneAlarm (firewall).  So I uninstalled ZoneAlarm, installed the adapter, and reinstalled ZoneAlarm, and now everything's OK.