Condolence From: Steve McKnight
Condolence: We called them the disciples. They were the ones that flew planes before many of us were born. The 402’s and 99’s we though of as antiques, they had mastered years before. Just walking into a room they seemed larger than life to us newly minted first officers. When I was hired Barry commanded the number 6 slot on the seniority list. He was hired just months before I set foot on this earth. Some 23 years later in July of 97 I was assigned to fly as his copilot for the month. Of course I was all excited and brimming with joy at my new found employment. He took my exuberance in stride. On many days I’m sure he would have been just as happy to gaze out the window and view the coast of Maine down into Boston or enjoy the low level approach from Glen Cove, Throgs neck, tower cab, north tip and Hudson southbound to the lady. (if you’re snickering you remember this as well). Instead, and in his own way, he mentored young aviators like myself. He taught us to embrace the good because you never knew when it was going to get bad. He taught us that sometimes more can be said in silence than lengthy conversations. I never felt like he was trying to teach yet he was willing his knowledge on us just the same. As time goes by and I see new aviators coming on the line I often think of Barry and wonder if anyone will ever look at me with the same respect and awe that many of us had for Barry and his peers. I can only hope he knew how much we learned from him, had respect for him and wanted to be like him. God Speed Captain. You will be missed.
Monday March 21, 2011
Shortly after my father died, I remember talking to someone. Maybe R, I don’t know. I lightly kicked a wall of house while speaking of the new realization and weight of owning and being responsible for property that I couldn’t walk away from.
A man called a while ago asking for me to describe my great grandfathers fire department badge so he could know if another one was authentic. I couldn’t find it off-hand. I knew it was in a safe place, but there are many safe spaces. That was a while ago, but the family is away for a few days so I went and looked. It was in a box of old letters.
I’ve worked at Chef (Opscode!) for over six years. Six years ago, I was living in Seattle. Five years ago, I had moved home to Maine. My memory is of having worked at Opscode longer in Seattle, but it was only 7 months until my father died.
I told Z I would never contact her again, I made an effort to move on, and nine days later my father was dead. Everything changed at once, Z was gone, and I made a new life.
Six months earlier she wrote, “[I] thought about you and my sister, paired as you are by being people with whom my relationship has been troubled but enduring.” I don’t think Z ever told me that she loved me. She once wrote that she almost did. Her letters were signed with love, although, I mostly remember my torrential emotions causing me to be incredibly selfish from when we broke up until the end of communication. A letter from J around the same time refers to me as a “lover of emotion & communication.” Looking back, I feel like a shit communicator. Although I know I tried. I was probably okay at it, relatively. But not with Z. It hurt too much.
J’s letter nearly ends with “You’re a good man.”
That’s what I became at least. All the needles pegged on responsibility. My counselor says I need to have fun, but I don’t have the time.
I’ve thought a lot this year about what to call my caring about other people. I mean, what’s the specific common language there. Because, I’ve found certainty that it’s different. I’ve clearly coped, but there’s some familiar comfort in accepting that I’m less than average in my emotions. I don’t think I can explain why I care. I could make something up, surely, but I wouldn’t convince myself. I’d be tempted to file it under natural human behavior, which is why I’ve missed for so long there is a kind of empathy that happens naturally for most people.
I’ve been off social media since the election. I don’t have a summary of the result yet. Right now I’m tracking a container ship that is relevant to me make it’s way to Boston instead. The only certainty is Kate’s concern for the use of my privilege of being able to check out. Social media perhaps took a lot of attention in total, but not in measurable instances. I don’t get any time back, but definitely some attention. I think the hardest part is letting go of the last vestiges of past life and identity.
I had a dream about Z last night. I woke up in the dark, then realized it wasn’t so dark and the sun was starting to rise. I sat up in bed wondering if I could normally hear the heat pump in the basement from the bedroom or not. I could see the outlines of the disaster of the bedroom from Darius. I wondered about happiness.
I don’t know how to separate being happy from having a good time.
I can’t remember if conferences always burned me out, or if moving back to Maine was a catalyst for extreme introversion. I remember napping in the hallway a long time ago at a conference. I think it was the move coupled with the exponential reduction in alcohol intake. Or maybe Dad dying and then getting old and having kids?
I’ve always been in my own head most of the time. This is hard on Kate, she’d like to have more conversation and discussion than comes out of me naturally.
Not sure what I’m doing.
I’ve been looking for some medical record imagery from the motorcycle accident for an appointment tomorrow.
I stumbled across some photos/movies from a bit of trolling in 2003, before I really was any good at trolling. I had to share them with the subject so I looked her up on facebook and we got lost commenting on everything that happens over the years.
AIM logs from the same era. I’ve got to go back and read more. There’s so much here about what I was like 10-15 years ago.
Even some papers I wrote junior year of high school before I dropped out.
2011: Dad died. Motorcycle trip to Alaska + Bush flying. Last year I worked at Burning Man. Came home.
2012: Kate. Miscarriage. Married Kate. Joined Fire Department.
2013: Fire Academy. Darius born. Finally got my Private Pilot certificate.
2014: Added Helicopter + Float Plane ratings.
2015: Peak volunteering. Maren born.
I just got back from a week in Chicago for a Microsoft conference with 23,000 attendees. That’s half my county. I worked the booth all week, which means intense socialization with humans across an entire spectrum of socialization ability. I slept on the flight to Boston, but was awake for the whole flight on a Cessna 402 from Boston to Bar Harbor. I thought a lot about the Fair, the dwindling volunteer coordinators near me and the ever increasing work to do. I just want to hang out with the family.
I had no time for the internet this week, so as I sit down in my home office to catch up on some things I open up Digg Reader to catch up on comics. I only use it for comics now, but it still contains all my old Google Reader feeds. Occasionally it gets confused about what I’ve read and what I haven’t. L’s folder lights up with posts from a retired blog. Nothing new. It’s just confused. But a reminder.
On the last flight, a Cape Air flight, I read the in-flight magazine. They do a lot of flying out to Cape Cod, Nantucket, Money. There’s an article about a yacht you can rent for $140k per week for vacation.
So many worlds.
I liked Chicago, interspersed between the conference and the expensive dinners with coworkers. I grew fond of the ‘L’ and rode the bus from my cozy worn down Travelodge and ginormous McCormick Place daily. On my first night I caught a movie, and emerged to rain. I bought Chicago Fire souvenir clothes and an umbrella at a Walgreens and walked back alone along the lake.
And now I’m home. And I’ll go find something to do so I don’t worry about what I should be doing.
Six and a half years ago I made my first commit to Chef. A handful of us were looking for a better way to manage servers. This week was the fourth annual ChefConf with around 1500 in attendance. Growth comes with all kinds of struggle, from scaling an engineering organization to finding decent food for over a thousand people. There’s little fame in the work I do (although many people know who I am…), both at Chef and elsewhere.
Unfortunately, The Internet has stopped.
The sun and occasional chilling breeze are alright.
I live behind the scenes in many worlds. I see fascinating parts of them. I’m never sure how much my contributions matter, but I know most other humans experience a lack certainty as well. I know some believe my list of hobbies and contributions is formidable, even as I wonder if I’m not doing enough and being passed over in different ways.
I ponder my conversation with K about limiting the weight of chores and how much disruption can be handled without toppling the spinning disks of these worlds. I count the days off and the projects that they belong to and wonder if I should be playing video games instead.
I don’t travel as much as I used to. Which wasn’t a whole lot, but it seems I used to go to more conferences. As a developer now, it’s not as important to stay up on using new tools. I don’t write on my technical blog anymore either. Because I’m not solving any problems that don’t involve code; those solutions are both the fix and the explanation. Not flying has meant my reading has taken a hit. Goodreads reported I only read a couple of books this year. I’ve read two on this trip to Seattle alone, and I think the last were another trip earlier this year.
I’m on a United flight from Chicago back to Bangor. After a hiatus, This means Continental is back, but only technically. GoJet is the operator, and the CRJ is big enough it isn’t even badged an Express flight. One of the books I finished is Chickenhawk, a memoir about flying helicopters in Vietnam. I read it on recommendation of my helicopter flight instructor. If all goes well, I’ll take a check ride tomorrow in the Bell 47 helicopter I have flown over 40 hours this summer.
Despite arriving two days late in Seattle due to cancelled flights, it was a mini-vacation. Between the heavy socialization of the fourth Chef community summit, I connected with some old friends, got some bicycle rides in, some drinking, walked around the city a bit, and caught a movie. Soon, I’ll be home again with my family.
As I caught up with one friend about what I had been up to, he half jokingly accused me of only coming back to visit to make them feel like they weren’t doing anything with their lives. I’ve been busy. I’d like to sit in the woods and read more. I suspect it’ll be a few years before Darius is old enough to allow much focused relaxation at home though.
It’s nearly summer, but I might as well go along with the seasons thing.
I’m pretty sure Darius’s first meaningful word used for communicating is “up.” She has always liked being up, but at least now it’s clear that is what she wants. Although, that isn’t always what you feel like doing.
I’ve been taking Wildland firefighting classes this year: the annual refresher training RT-130 and S-212 Wildland Fire Chainsaws. Both have been really good experiences both in terms of learning and interacting with the Maine Forest Service. If I don’t find a pack test and post this year I’m planning on posting next year.
The hoop house was covered early yesterday morning. It’s nice to have that stress off of the family. Now we’re pretty focused on building Mom + Tim’s house next door. The site contractor should start on Friday. While we’ve been doing some work this year clearing the site, this is really the start of a project that is expected to continue through the end of October.
I’ve started flying helicopters over in Belfast. A Bell 47D-1. That’s been really exciting. With my Instrument Airplane rating ahead of me I’ve started researching float planes and if I can track down an IFR-equipped Cessna 172 on floats in decent condition.
Supposedly spring is right around the corner, but we’re in the midst of sleet and snow this week. I’m not sure I really mind, although thinking about it makes me turn on Dad’s old “HappyLite,” which lives in my basement office now.
There’s this cycle of waking, working, dinner, some tv, and sleep. It’s depressing. I woke early this morning and given the weather I thought about driving to the city and running on a treadmill, but then I realized the YMCA is probably closed due to the weather. I’m aware I mostly need to get some solid work done and it’ll amplify my mood. It’s hard to break that cycle of procrastination though.
I woke up and finished reading Hyperbole and a Half in book form. One story was about a goose attack in their house, an illustrated version of this post. I laughed manically. It was preceeded a bit earlier and followed by a couple parts on depression and introspection. Hyperbole and a Half is pretty well known for folks identifying with Allie’s posts about depression.
Darius keeps growing. It’s a thrill watching her develop; moving around, figuring things out. A couple weeks ago she started carrying books over to have us read them to her. She crawls well, stands okay, but doesn’t walk yet. She’s still hilarious most of the time.
Grampie Saunders has been in and out of the hospital. He’s home now, but is having balance issues and can’t get around much. He can still walk okay with a walker, but the risk is in falling down. He’s hoping it’s hydrocephalus and a splint put in to drain it. We’ll see.
Mom and Tim are on their way out. They’re somewhere around Carlsbad Caverns right now. I expect them here sometime around the beginning of April. Having them here will make building their cottage more of a priority as it’ll be much more convenient to plan and talk about.
There’s been some drama around the fire department lately. I think we’re through the worst of it.The Chief officially made me 2nd Lieutenant at the last monthly meeting. I’m trying to get in what training I can this year, at least the two spring weekend fire attack schools. Continuing learning really is high on my needs for self-care.
I drink a pot of coffee every day, mostly in single serving instant coffee increments.
Work’s going fine. I have no idea how long it’ll continue as it is. I mean, I don’t bother trying to because the world is too complex of a system, and I don’t have more immediate plans otherwise. I do spend too much time thinking about early retirement though, which is a sign of something. I don’t know if it’s works fault, or I’m over-committed with volunteer gigs, or whatever.
Eh. I don’t regret the course of things, but I do wish I had slipped Army helicopter training in there, just to have those hours now. Not that there are probably more than like 10 helicopter jobs in the state, and I can’t move from here.
Making more time for hobbies, walks, and whatnot means finding more awake and energy filled time. Which is such a hard cycle. Eh, I’m going to try an early trip into the city soon, despite the blizzard. Hopefully some things are open.