funeral

Dec. 6th, 2013 10:19 am
thanate: (bluehair)
Despite stupid lunchtime traffic with a YELLING BABY in Ballston and the Arlington Cemetery rep being off his head worried that we would take too long somewhere and delay the next funeral, everything went off smoothly. It was a gorgeous day. We managed to bribe the Megatherium with strawberries not to make too many joyous or fussy noises in the church. Grauwulf got up and washed my extremely grubby car first thing in the morning, so it was not too embarrassing as the first car in the long parade of vehicles. My mother and my uncle and I walked behind the caisson from the Old Post Chapel in Ft Meyer to the columbarium (which is a collection of open courts-- more on that in a minute. Our relevant address is complex 7, wall W, row 5, top niche.)

So, full Navy honors for a Commander begins with a 20 minute time block for a religious service (religious specified by Arlington, with option to provide your own officiant or to get an assigned service chaplain) including organist and flag & casket bearers. In this case, there was just an urn, so only one bearer came past the church entryway. Then there was further pageantry with getting the urn into the little drawer on the back of the coffin-sized caisson, and then a procession of possibly about two miles out the cemetery gate of the fort through Arlington Cemetery to the Columbarium. Fifteen or twenty person band, followed by a fifteen person rifle squad, followed by the seven horses and an outrider (four riders) on the caisson, eight bearers marching behind, the three of us walking, my car with grauwulf and my brother in the front seat, (and the Megatherium in the back seat, losing her bonnet & a shoe) and a long parade of other cars. And then there was business-with-presentation-flag (unfolding and refolding) and full military honors (3 rounds of rifle salute, from a different set of rifle bearers), presentation of the flag and several representatives of various things shaking hands and offering condolences, and then my mother got to carry the urn to the niche (though she wasn't allowed to go up the five-step ladder to put it in) and there was a very brief final words from the chaplain. And then the overly time-conscious cemetery representative hurrying everyone back to their cars.

My father retired when I was still in elementary school, so the Navy's rank-based "this was someone special" seems kind of weird to me. I think he did more good for the armed forces, Navy included, than some Admirals but that much of that was more recently in managing DARPA programs for training, for which no official credit is given.

When my grandmother was in the nursing home, my father got very frustrated that she spent a lot of time just sitting there with her eyes shut and didn't seem to care much if anyone had bothered to bring her glasses downstairs or got her teeth in. He told me that when he was that age he hoped he'd be able to enjoy sitting there and watching the squirrels. The corner of the Columbarium he's in now is planted in liriope (ugh) and a nice little magnolia tree, and we will come back sometime and scatter peanuts so that perhaps there will be squirrels to watch.

---- Three of us spoke during the service, first a Navy officer my father worked with in DARPA, then me, then a long-time storytelling friend of the family. This was my ~3 1/2 minutes:

what I said, more or less )

Xposty from dreamwidth.

funeral

Dec. 6th, 2013 10:19 am
thanate: (bluehair)
Despite stupid lunchtime traffic with a YELLING BABY in Ballston and the Arlington Cemetery rep being off his head worried that we would take too long somewhere and delay the next funeral, everything went off smoothly. It was a gorgeous day. We managed to bribe the Megatherium with strawberries not to make too many joyous or fussy noises in the church. Grauwulf got up and washed my extremely grubby car first thing in the morning, so it was not too embarrassing as the first car in the long parade of vehicles. My mother and my uncle and I walked behind the caisson from the Old Post Chapel in Ft Meyer to the columbarium (which is a collection of open courts-- more on that in a minute. Our relevant address is complex 7, wall W, row 5, top niche.)

So, full Navy honors for a Commander begins with a 20 minute time block for a religious service (religious specified by Arlington, with option to provide your own officiant or to get an assigned service chaplain) including organist and flag & casket bearers. In this case, there was just an urn, so only one bearer came past the church entryway. Then there was further pageantry with getting the urn into the little drawer on the back of the coffin-sized caisson, and then a procession of possibly about two miles out the cemetery gate of the fort through Arlington Cemetery to the Columbarium. Fifteen or twenty person band, followed by a fifteen person rifle squad, followed by the seven horses and an outrider (four riders) on the caisson, eight bearers marching behind, the three of us walking, my car with grauwulf and my brother in the front seat, (and the Megatherium in the back seat, losing her bonnet & a shoe) and a long parade of other cars. And then there was business-with-presentation-flag (unfolding and refolding) and full military honors (3 rounds of rifle salute, from a different set of rifle bearers), presentation of the flag and several representatives of various things shaking hands and offering condolences, and then my mother got to carry the urn to the niche (though she wasn't allowed to go up the five-step ladder to put it in) and there was a very brief final words from the chaplain. And then the overly time-conscious cemetery representative hurrying everyone back to their cars.

My father retired when I was still in elementary school, so the Navy's rank-based "this was someone special" seems kind of weird to me. I think he did more good for the armed forces, Navy included, than some Admirals but that much of that was more recently in managing DARPA programs for training, for which no official credit is given.

When my grandmother was in the nursing home, my father got very frustrated that she spent a lot of time just sitting there with her eyes shut and didn't seem to care much if anyone had bothered to bring her glasses downstairs or got her teeth in. He told me that when he was that age he hoped he'd be able to enjoy sitting there and watching the squirrels. The corner of the Columbarium he's in now is planted in liriope (ugh) and a nice little magnolia tree, and we will come back sometime and scatter peanuts so that perhaps there will be squirrels to watch.

---- Three of us spoke during the service, first a Navy officer my father worked with in DARPA, then me, then a long-time storytelling friend of the family. This was my ~3 1/2 minutes:

what I said, more or less )
thanate: (bluehair)
Today my father would have turned 65. We've managed to cobble together enough website so you can see the shape of it here, though a lot of things kind of got shelved at the last minute. Also grauwulf's and my working relationship regarding web design is that I say/ask something that I think sounds totally reasonable, by which he is convinced I'm a complete looney, and then I wave my arms around a lot. This... leads to less than ideal productivity. But, there's this thing. And there will be more.

And I've been thinking about the ways we wear down under stress that show off just what it is that we're terrible at. There are some things I'm no good at because for whatever reason I just never learned them, but I think there are also a couple things I'm not any good at because my father was good at them. And so one of the reasons I'm terrible at giving compliments is that a lot of how to do it got filed under "vaguely irritating parental habits" when it probably shouldn't have.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (bluehair)
Today my father would have turned 65. We've managed to cobble together enough website so you can see the shape of it here, though a lot of things kind of got shelved at the last minute. Also grauwulf's and my working relationship regarding web design is that I say/ask something that I think sounds totally reasonable, by which he is convinced I'm a complete looney, and then I wave my arms around a lot. This... leads to less than ideal productivity. But, there's this thing. And there will be more.

And I've been thinking about the ways we wear down under stress that show off just what it is that we're terrible at. There are some things I'm no good at because for whatever reason I just never learned them, but I think there are also a couple things I'm not any good at because my father was good at them. And so one of the reasons I'm terrible at giving compliments is that a lot of how to do it got filed under "vaguely irritating parental habits" when it probably shouldn't have.
thanate: (bluehair)
Friday was that day where the battle between immune system and head cold used up all my mental cycles, though fortunately both the Megatherium and I seem to be on the very minor symptomatic end of this one. Saturday was the memorial service, which went extremely well, but speaking of things that require mental processing time. And then yesterday the Megatherium started eating ALL THE FOOD!!! for her six month growth spurt. We're still winding down from that (I think...) but I'm just waiting to see what brain-fogging thing is going to come up next.

Anyway, the memorial service was really well attended-- standing room only-- with people from all and sundry things my father was involved with, from fellow submarine officers to fellow trombone players from the community band. (We got an anecdote about learning from my father to play with enthusiasm all the notes on the page, even if they happened to be flute cues.) And it was deeply weird to be in a room full of friends of my father, at least half of whom I'd never met, but most of whom I'd heard of. Sort of like going to a party with half the characters out of greek mythology, most of whom know more or less who you are, but they're mostly busy talking to each other while you're trying to remember if this is the one who had all the eyes or the one who caught the pegasus and haven't really anything else to say to them anyway, and besides, you're holding a baby, so 80% of the conversations you end up having are about how good she's being.

I also think about the difference between this and my grandmother's funeral where after two rounds (in Cleveland, and then again in Alpine, TX after they retired there) of more socializing and worthy volunteer work than most people ever get around to, only a small handful of family made it to the funeral in VA. If my father had lasted another twenty-five years, many of the people who came this weekend wouldn't still have been around either. But you just can't start thinking phrases like "If I could have chosen..." because, well, you can't.

Possibly more later, but at present I think I need to go back to feeding my excellent baby before she tries to consume this chair. Um.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (bluehair)
Friday was that day where the battle between immune system and head cold used up all my mental cycles, though fortunately both the Megatherium and I seem to be on the very minor symptomatic end of this one. Saturday was the memorial service, which went extremely well, but speaking of things that require mental processing time. And then yesterday the Megatherium started eating ALL THE FOOD!!! for her six month growth spurt. We're still winding down from that (I think...) but I'm just waiting to see what brain-fogging thing is going to come up next.

Anyway, the memorial service was really well attended-- standing room only-- with people from all and sundry things my father was involved with, from fellow submarine officers to fellow trombone players from the community band. (We got an anecdote about learning from my father to play with enthusiasm all the notes on the page, even if they happened to be flute cues.) And it was deeply weird to be in a room full of friends of my father, at least half of whom I'd never met, but most of whom I'd heard of. Sort of like going to a party with half the characters out of greek mythology, most of whom know more or less who you are, but they're mostly busy talking to each other while you're trying to remember if this is the one who had all the eyes or the one who caught the pegasus and haven't really anything else to say to them anyway, and besides, you're holding a baby, so 80% of the conversations you end up having are about how good she's being.

I also think about the difference between this and my grandmother's funeral where after two rounds (in Cleveland, and then again in Alpine, TX after they retired there) of more socializing and worthy volunteer work than most people ever get around to, only a small handful of family made it to the funeral in VA. If my father had lasted another twenty-five years, many of the people who came this weekend wouldn't still have been around either. But you just can't start thinking phrases like "If I could have chosen..." because, well, you can't.

Possibly more later, but at present I think I need to go back to feeding my excellent baby before she tries to consume this chair. Um.
thanate: (bluehair)
One of the things I've been poking at instead of other things (books post from July, the master naturalist project I'm supposed to be doing, writing anything...) is the proto-work for my father's website. Most of it you can still not go look at, but we've finally ironed out *most* of the weird formatting issues from the Leadership in Nuclear Power essay. (The exception being that the PDF was crooked and some of the images remain so until we get around to rescanning them.)

This essay is a study in tactful speaking around the proverbial elephant. For those not conversant with the context of the 1970s submarine fleet, your first search term is "Admiral Rickover." Also interesting to note is that all the major nuclear disasters people have heard of occurred after this piece was published; this is "nuclear safety" without Three Mile Island and Chernobyl hanging over its head.

ETA: If you happen to have a copy of The Hunt for Red October handy, take a look at the dedication page. This essay is what that refers to. (There's more to the story than that, but I'm still looking for where/if it got written down.)

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (bluehair)
One of the things I've been poking at instead of other things (books post from July, the master naturalist project I'm supposed to be doing, writing anything...) is the proto-work for my father's website. Most of it you can still not go look at, but we've finally ironed out *most* of the weird formatting issues from the Leadership in Nuclear Power essay. (The exception being that the PDF was crooked and some of the images remain so until we get around to rescanning them.)

This essay is a study in tactful speaking around the proverbial elephant. For those not conversant with the context of the 1970s submarine fleet, your first search term is "Admiral Rickover." Also interesting to note is that all the major nuclear disasters people have heard of occurred after this piece was published; this is "nuclear safety" without Three Mile Island and Chernobyl hanging over its head.

ETA: If you happen to have a copy of The Hunt for Red October handy, take a look at the dedication page. This essay is what that refers to. (There's more to the story than that, but I'm still looking for where/if it got written down.)
thanate: (bluehair)
My sweet, happy, quiet baby has discovered that it is also fun to yell. Joyously. At four in the morning. I sincerely trust this is just a phase...

Last weekend was the yearly reunion for my mother's side of the family at which my M got to meet the elder of her cousins N. We'd been hearing for some time that every third word her parents passed on to my aunt was about how incredibly cute young Miss N was, and thus I, with my cute little naturalistic baby, was completely unprepared to meet a child who looks like she was designed by the makers of Pound Puppies. Also somewhat disorienting was being in a house with two infants and trying to identify distant fussing by ear.

There was also a (highly informal) memorial service, initially supposed to be for my grandfather but extended to include my father as well, which I was less unprepared for than I expected to be. (I wanted to hear what other people had to remember about my grandfather, but am still not quite prepared to talk too much about my father in public.) Anyway, a couple things that stood out included various people talking about my father in the context of being a really good manager: someone who knew how to step back from a situation enough to get the useful insights and help people stay inspired and usefully focused and that kind of thing. I think there's some of the clarity of insight that I've got, but the people skills were something that he largely used at work and I didn't see that much of. His autobiography was going to be called "The Wrong Stuff" because of a number of standing-next-to-the-guy-who... coincidences, the wrongness of which none of us were quite convinced by, but it had not previously occurred to me in as many words that a few of the "right stuff" people may have been right because of who they were standing next to.

(also further thoughts regarding management, and the ways in which my (paternal) grandfather was a really awesome guy to know-- in the right contexts. As a WWII naval officer, he was excellent to serve under; as a relative, often not so much.)

(also also, relevant to the ongoing SFWA nonsenses, while my father never got involved in "fandom" as such, he was both an old guard SF/F fan and a far better feminist than I will ever be. He spent more time interfacing with the sort of world where hearing everyone's voices can be life & death important. But I digress.)

Anyway, the second thing was that my grandmother passed around a book for signatures & memories. I wrote our names and nothing else; somehow it always seemed to come near me at moments when I was on baby duty, so I didn't read what anyone else had to say, either. But a little while after that, my uncle said something about how he hadn't initially been able to think of what to write either. But then he thought about how as my grandfather had declined slowly over the last decade+ there were various things that he looked at and thought that they were the sort of thing he would have made note of to mention to his father: some peculiarity of the electric lines in Korea, for instance, that would once have prompted a few minutes of speculation as to why it was done that way. So he wrote that one down and said, "and so now I've told him."

I do not (yet) have a backlog of things I want to tell my father, but there are some books I would recommend, and I think he would have very much enjoyed seeing the Megatherium grow up and learn all the interesting mental connections that make up a human being.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (bluehair)
My sweet, happy, quiet baby has discovered that it is also fun to yell. Joyously. At four in the morning. I sincerely trust this is just a phase...

Last weekend was the yearly reunion for my mother's side of the family at which my M got to meet the elder of her cousins N. We'd been hearing for some time that every third word her parents passed on to my aunt was about how incredibly cute young Miss N was, and thus I, with my cute little naturalistic baby, was completely unprepared to meet a child who looks like she was designed by the makers of Pound Puppies. Also somewhat disorienting was being in a house with two infants and trying to identify distant fussing by ear.

There was also a (highly informal) memorial service, initially supposed to be for my grandfather but extended to include my father as well, which I was less unprepared for than I expected to be. (I wanted to hear what other people had to remember about my grandfather, but am still not quite prepared to talk too much about my father in public.) Anyway, a couple things that stood out included various people talking about my father in the context of being a really good manager: someone who knew how to step back from a situation enough to get the useful insights and help people stay inspired and usefully focused and that kind of thing. I think there's some of the clarity of insight that I've got, but the people skills were something that he largely used at work and I didn't see that much of. His autobiography was going to be called "The Wrong Stuff" because of a number of standing-next-to-the-guy-who... coincidences, the wrongness of which none of us were quite convinced by, but it had not previously occurred to me in as many words that a few of the "right stuff" people may have been right because of who they were standing next to.

(also further thoughts regarding management, and the ways in which my (paternal) grandfather was a really awesome guy to know-- in the right contexts. As a WWII naval officer, he was excellent to serve under; as a relative, often not so much.)

(also also, relevant to the ongoing SFWA nonsenses, while my father never got involved in "fandom" as such, he was both an old guard SF/F fan and a far better feminist than I will ever be. He spent more time interfacing with the sort of world where hearing everyone's voices can be life & death important. But I digress.)

Anyway, the second thing was that my grandmother passed around a book for signatures & memories. I wrote our names and nothing else; somehow it always seemed to come near me at moments when I was on baby duty, so I didn't read what anyone else had to say, either. But a little while after that, my uncle said something about how he hadn't initially been able to think of what to write either. But then he thought about how as my grandfather had declined slowly over the last decade+ there were various things that he looked at and thought that they were the sort of thing he would have made note of to mention to his father: some peculiarity of the electric lines in Korea, for instance, that would once have prompted a few minutes of speculation as to why it was done that way. So he wrote that one down and said, "and so now I've told him."

I do not (yet) have a backlog of things I want to tell my father, but there are some books I would recommend, and I think he would have very much enjoyed seeing the Megatherium grow up and learn all the interesting mental connections that make up a human being.
thanate: (whirlpool)
I wrote a paragraph or two this morning on one of the (tens of) unfinished short story beginnings that just sort of happen, and then sent something else out and contemplated the sad state of my submission tracker and whether I really want to be playing the short story game anyway or spending more time going back to working on novels.

My father did a little spec fic writing in the 80s and actually sent a few things out, culminating in a sale to Weird Tales just before it folded; I sent him links to Ralans & Duotrope a couple years back, but he'd pretty much moved on to non-fiction. I've been wondering for a while now what's lurking on his hard drive that might be worth sending in quest of a wider audience. I didn't ask him if that was something he would want, so I guess it's a question for my mother now, if I decide I even want to bring it up. (Has anyone knowledge or references about literary executorship & how all that is handled? I mean, assuming I'm up for the leg work & my mother doesn't object, what I'd need to know is mostly logistics about cover letters & contracts.)

Various people are talking about going to Balticon and Wiscon this weekend, and I am feeling vaguely antsy about it; I don't quite actually even *want* to go to such a thing right now, as crowds seem like a bad idea on more fronts than just health/baby. Also Balticon actually has a couple family friends from the storytelling community, and I ended up running into Bill Mayhew last year and having to field unexpected sympathies about my father. But there's also a big stack of books I culled from my TBR shelf last fall, several of which would be good to drop off at a con "free book" table, and there are people it would be kind of nice to see. Instead, we're going to go see my mother, and then I shall plant things, and possibly visit a plant sale as well, since I haven't made it to one yet this year, and the Muhly grass I bought to put in a pot on the front steps didn't make it through the winter. And perhaps I'll write some more, and enjoy the unseasonably cold weather. It's a nice theory, anyway.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (whirlpool)
I wrote a paragraph or two this morning on one of the (tens of) unfinished short story beginnings that just sort of happen, and then sent something else out and contemplated the sad state of my submission tracker and whether I really want to be playing the short story game anyway or spending more time going back to working on novels.

My father did a little spec fic writing in the 80s and actually sent a few things out, culminating in a sale to Weird Tales just before it folded; I sent him links to Ralans & Duotrope a couple years back, but he'd pretty much moved on to non-fiction. I've been wondering for a while now what's lurking on his hard drive that might be worth sending in quest of a wider audience. I didn't ask him if that was something he would want, so I guess it's a question for my mother now, if I decide I even want to bring it up. (Has anyone knowledge or references about literary executorship & how all that is handled? I mean, assuming I'm up for the leg work & my mother doesn't object, what I'd need to know is mostly logistics about cover letters & contracts.)

Various people are talking about going to Balticon and Wiscon this weekend, and I am feeling vaguely antsy about it; I don't quite actually even *want* to go to such a thing right now, as crowds seem like a bad idea on more fronts than just health/baby. Also Balticon actually has a couple family friends from the storytelling community, and I ended up running into Bill Mayhew last year and having to field unexpected sympathies about my father. But there's also a big stack of books I culled from my TBR shelf last fall, several of which would be good to drop off at a con "free book" table, and there are people it would be kind of nice to see. Instead, we're going to go see my mother, and then I shall plant things, and possibly visit a plant sale as well, since I haven't made it to one yet this year, and the Muhly grass I bought to put in a pot on the front steps didn't make it through the winter. And perhaps I'll write some more, and enjoy the unseasonably cold weather. It's a nice theory, anyway.
thanate: (darkkerrigan)
My child has run out of grandfathers.

I'm not sure if I'll be around much for a little while.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (darkkerrigan)
My child has run out of grandfathers.

I'm not sure if I'll be around much for a little while.
thanate: (Default)
I read this article the other day-- talking about the problem of academic writing by people who have no idea how to write. (And, tangentially to where I'm about to go with this, it occurs to me to be interested in the intersection of this and some of the populist nonfiction I've been reading lately, which is readable in the sense the article talks about and full of gimmicky techniques that I think of as bad writing. Present tense narration. Metaphor soup. Ugh.)

My father's dream job, which he was fortunate enough to get two rounds of, once in the mid-80s and then again for a six year block ending in 2011, was to be a program manager at DARPA. That's the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, for the unfamiliar, and its purpose is to research things that *might* be brilliant innovations but haven't been sufficiently proven to get sponsored by the appropriate armed forces branch. They're responsible for the advent of things like GPS (and hence cell phones) and the internet (via the ARPAnet.) A lot of what a DARPA program manager does is fund and work with brilliant young start-ups to do neat things, but to find the projects to fund in the first place, one spends a great deal of time reading proposals, many of which appear to be written by the same kind of non-writers as were responsible for the previously mentioned textbooks. The story goes that there was one particular person whose prose was so bad that it became more comprehensible if you only read every other word, and it didn't matter which one you started with.

This was a particular trial to my father, who actually *could* write well (if longwindedly); his advice to anyone who might be thinking of submitting a project proposal is to imagine that the person reading it has got a stack of sixty of these things which they've left most of to the last minute (because dealing with the projects you've already got going is usually far more interesting...) and so it's a sleepy Sunday afternoon and the last three proposals have been so ghastly that even a conscientious reader couldn't quite make it all the way to the end, and all the reader really wants to do is go watch the ball game, but there are ten more in the stack that have to be read by Monday... and if your proposal isn't clearly worded and easy to read, it isn't going to matter how brilliant your ideas are.

A few years before I was born, my father had the submarine officer's required interview with Admiral Rickover (this was apparently kind of the equivalent of hazing for nukes; my father would have preferred to go back to diesel boats, which he did before going off to grad school, and after his fifteen minutes of trauma he was pretty sure he was going to) and I believe it was as part of his de-stressing from that that he wrote an essay for the Naval Institute Vincent Astor Memorial Leadership Essay Contest about just what was wrong with the way the nuclear submarine program was being run. As the only well-written submission they got for the entire contest, it won, and they had to print it in the Naval Institute Proceedings. (He also got a nice chunk of prize money with which he bought a radial arm saw: the first large tool purchase in forty years of collecting a basement wood shop.) And then he ended up getting assigned to a nuke after all. Fortunately his new CO's wife read the essay first, and was the one to hand it to her husband with glowing praise saying, "now I understand what you've been complaining about!"

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