I announced late Tuesday night, possibly early Wednesday
morning, that I had deleted Facebook’s apps from my phone and tablet and closed
the perpetually open browser tab for it on my desktops and laptops.
This was not a rash decision. This had been building for some
time, and, as I said in that post (call it a “flounce” if you will),
it was time.
I can say a lot of good things about Facebook. It brings to
my attention news items that I might have missed. It lets me know about the
joys and sorrows of family and friends. It’s kept me in touch with my cousins
in Carolina, my high school best friend in Omaha, and lots of old friends who
live around the corner, but whose paths don’t cross mine often if at all.
They’re all good people and I like knowing what’s going on with them.
You get that feeling that you’ve heard this story before…
Almost two years ago–shy five days–I posted that Lazarus (the
scruffy, orange fellow pictured above) had liver cancer. And then he didn’t. He
had pancreatitis. Still, we were told he was going to die. Soon. And then he
Two days ago, we were once again told that Lazarus probably
had liver cancer, and we began mourning all over again. And now he doesn’t have
liver cancer. Honestly, I think the boy’s liver was a gift from Loki, or maybe
Anansi. It likes to f**k with us.
I also think that I’ve found cause to deny Harlan Ellison’s
claim that “Let me help” are the three most important words in the
English language, even up against “I love you.” I think “It’s
not cancer” are those words for me. This is not the first or the second
time I’ve heard them, about a cat or a human, and their emotional impact simply
cannot be described.
At 1701 hours on September 26, my old friend Lewis G. Aide,
West Point graduate, IT Wizard, Convention Magician and actual magician, first
responder, senior center volunteer and NeighborRide driver, left this life.
And he left it better than he found it.
I met Lew in 1986, probably at a committee meeting for our Star Trek convention, ClipperCon. I
don’t recall the exact circumstances or what we talked about. I know I first
heard his name on a phone call with Marion McChesney. I was doing the con
program book and needed to verify the spellings of all the staff and guest names.
“Oh, there’s two people you haven’t even met yet,” she said. “They’ll get a
kick out of being listed as committee members.” Marion played fast and loose
with formalities. She had met these guys somewhere, and just decided they
should join us. Lew Aide was taking over my old slot as “assistant film
chairman,” also known as the poor schlub who threaded the 16 MM films and, more
and more in those days, popped the VHS tapes in and out. Marc Lee was the other
new “hire.” He was filling the new committee position of Being Marc Lee.
Tonight I’m cleaning up the basement a bit more. Still
working in the train room, as I’m calling it now. “We have a train
room?” Christian asked me recently. “I’m just so amused that our
family has a house with named rooms. Do we have a skinning and tanning
room?” (He may not have said “skinning and tanning.” It was
something just as absurd. It may have been “taxidermy.”)
In all these weeks, I don’t believe I’ve discussed, in
depth, how the basement came to look the way it did when you left us—the way it
had looked for decades before that. I believe I mentioned the dreaded trip to
the Sacred Heart Hospital in Cumberland, but I don’t think I told the whole
story. So here goes.
“It isn’t personal,” they say. “Don’t take it
personally,” they say.
Well, I take things personally. Always have. Probably always
will. For me, there is no “just doing my job,” or “just
following the rules.”
When my First Grade teacher taught me to read, she was just
doing her job, but it was personal to me. She called me her “Young Spaceman,”
and I loved her. She had given me the greatest gift in the world.
When my Third Grade teacher threatened me with a tree branch,
because she was following her rules and I wasn’t, it was personal. I frustrated
her. She pretty clearly hated me. When my other Third Grade
teacher (my father fired the entire school on my behalf and took me elsewhere)
taught me my multiplication tables, a year late and after much struggling, it
was personal, and I loved her too.
In high school, when the yearbook advisor told me that our
senior yearbook would likely not be published until the class after ours
had already graduated, it was personal, and I stayed late every day for two
weeks, getting the layouts finished, meeting the printer’s deadline. We had all
worked hard on that book, and I wanted it in people’s hands. That wasn’t just
my job or my grade, it was personal. I could make a difference, and, dammit, I
was going to.
I missed posting last week, and have not readied one of my collection of “Colonel’s Plan” posts for this week, because it’s Farpoint season. Farpoint, for the uninformed, is a science fiction convention that my family founded. It’s been held annually in Hunt Valley, MD for 26 years now. So I’m very busy. So I’ll be back in touch next week. In the meantime, here’s what I’m up to:
Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a political curmudgeon. I’m usually outspoken supporting underdog candidates—like Gary Johnson in the 2016 Presidential election. My underdog streak goes way back. I was a John Anderson supporter in 1980, three years before I could vote. That might give some of you the idea that I only support lost causes. Not this time.
This Thursday, I voted in the mid-term election. (If you live where I do, you have three days of early voting opportunities left. Do it. It’s convenient.) I voted for, in alphabetical order, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians and Republicans. I voted for incumbents who have done a solid job, for mavericks who probably won’t win, but who deserve a showing for their valiant efforts, and for newcomers who stand a good chance, and who I think will accomplish great things in office.
I admit it, I love the original version of The Omen. I loved the sequel as well–Damien: Omen II. From the moment Damien appears, seen walking with fire before him, until Lee Grant shrieks his name devotedly as she dies at his hand, the story of the literal son of Satan hooks me.
But I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to talk about a Kickstarter I’m running that’s stuck at the number of the beast, the number of a man, the number Damien has tatooed on his scalp…
A few years ago, it was rumored that an unpopular President had called the Constitution of the United States, “just a goddamned piece of paper!” And those who even considered the possibility that he had actually said the words were outraged. The very idea that our Chief Executive would express disrespect for the document which defines our government! Now a retired Supreme Court Justice is calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment, one of ten amendments that make up the Bill of Rights. I am, again, outraged. Only my outrage will be permanent. This is not a rumor. Justice Stevens called for it on the Op Ed page of the New York Times.
While, it’s true that I actively despise Hillary Clinton, I do not consider myself a conservative, nor, in spirit, a Republican. Yet if the anti-gun lobby decides to follow his lead, they will have accomplished something that Hillary never could during Election 2016. They will have forced me to choose sides. And in this silly battle of false dichotomies, I shall choose to stand with the Bill of Rights, and with the party that can successfully oppose its dissection.
Justice Stevens’s words are not a call for common sense or school safety. They are a call to take a knife to a set of principles which have protected our freedom for more than two centuries. Democratic party be warned: if you go down this path, you’re not only losing the middle ground, you’re actively pissing all over those of us who are standing on it.