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A Dad ramble.

Dad's razor.

Today I saw Dad’s face – his actual, physical face – for the last time. Dad wasn’t actually there. He’d left the day before, but his body got a little extra time to hang around.

I shaved before we left for the mortuary. A few years ago (or maybe ten) I had read a few things about how great old-school safety razors were and I wanted to try one. Dad had switched to disposables, so he gave me his. I don’t know why he stopped using it. It really is a more comfortable and cheaper way to shave. But it was a very Dad thing to give me something I wanted even if he had made a different choice.

It wasn’t a memorial; this was technically just the identification of the body. In the past there probably would have only been Mom and one of my siblings there, and an actual service would have happened later. But these are not normal times, and there’s no telling how long it will be before a memorial happens. My sister and one of my brothers live two states away; there was no way for them to be here.

The mortuary did its best to give us something for closure. They laid Dad’s body out in the chapel area and let our family say goodbye. They did a good job with his face, but as natural as it was he still looked like he had fallen asleep and a prankster beautician gave him a secret makeover.

Mom, Katherine, Me

I broke social distancing rules for the second time in two days. Both times it was to hug Mom. It was absolutely worth it.

Katherine took advantage of the moment to get in a photobomb. Dad would have liked that.

Dad
Dad.

Dad was a funny guy. On the old version of this site I wrote about his accidental garden. He could find the dark cloud in any silver lining, but he also loved to laugh and joke. He could tell a two minute story in just under thirty minutes. He never met a chair he couldn’t sleep in. He loved a good loaf of bread. He would wear any t-shirt as long as he could reasonably fit into it, and the sillier it was the more likely he’d wear it. He was always organizing, and always making piles of random stuff. I missed the organization gene, but doubled down on the random piles to make up for it. His love for Mom, for all of us, was not a complicated thing. It was just there, and that was that.

Bike tire with a hole.

I was getting ready to ride my bike to visit Mom when I saw the message from Katherine, who was on her way to Yosemite for a few secluded days in a friend’s cabin.

Call me ASAP.

I knew exactly what that meant before I called her.

I decided I’d still ride over; the hour or so would be a good time to get my head together. I cued up “Rhapsody In Blue,” one of the few bits of music I knew Dad liked, or at least that I thought I remembered that he liked, and started my ride. I could hear why Dad would like it. Like him, it’s switches between structure and meandering all the time. That Gershwin guy has potential.

A bit after the music ended I got a flat. Then my pump screwed up my spare tube and I laughed, because of course it did. But it worked out, because Katherine had canceled her trip and come home so we could go over together. So: thank you, flat tire.


I was uncomfortable at the memorial-that-wasn’t-a-memorial. Seeing Dad’s body helped make Dad’s death real, and I was happy to be there to support Mom, but a lot of it felt like an attempt to Create A Special Moment, and special moments are hard to force. Afterward at the house, when we were just talking about whatever was on our minds, I relaxed. The special moments were here, in the house where I grew up, in the house where Dad lived for most of his life, not in the mortuary we had never been inside.

So long, Dad. I love you. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if I’m wrong I hope they’ve got lots of fresh bread and good mustard there for you.

That's my Dad.
That’s my Dad.
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End of the Year!

I posted about how hard the last few weeks have been. It’s time for a little counterbalancing. Here’s the end of the year video I put together with the help of our staff and students. Enjoy!

https://drive.google.com/open?id=17UxqsxnAXC6AzrNyaF_9T7kw3z-JB10c

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Typecasting

Don’t tell him about Heimdall.

This is from Marvel Team-Up #74, where Spider-Man teamed up with the 1978 cast of Saturday Night Live.

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A tale of two driver licenses

Or one license twice, depending on how you look at it.

Detail of two driver licenses showing weight and issue date.

I always try to put my actual weight on my driver license. The top one is what I weighed five years ago – 235 pounds. After that, my weight gradually crept up to the second license, and then beyond. I peaked at just under 270. I thought 235 was bad, but 270 was a whole new world of doughiness.

My weight stayed in the 265-270 range until about nine weeks ago, when I finally decided to really do something about it. The method doesn’t matter, but the progress does:

A graph of my weight loss with the last recorded weight of 234.6 showing.
If this was an ad for a weight loss thing, this is where it would say “results not typical.”

Losing the weight has been great, but I’m more happy about the invisible benefits than my appearance. I can do things like ride my bike up hills without stopping. My resting heart rate has dropped by 15bpm. My apnea dropped to “really loud snoring” – not great for Katherine’s sleep, but good for mine.

I’m not done yet – you wouldn’t believe how far I’d need to go to officially move out of the “overweight” range – but it’s pleasant for my weight on my license to be too high instead of too low.

…and yes, it’s “driver license,” not “driver’s license.” At least it is in California.

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Move Over, Weight Watchers!

Our old bathroom scale does that thing where it gives a different weight every time you step on it. So I did some research and bought a scale listed as most consistently accurate. I weighed myself this morning and it claimed I lost a couple of pounds overnight. I thought “You bought this because the old one wasn’t working right- of course they don’t match.” To prove it I weighed myself on the old scale.

It also said I lost a couple of pounds overnight.

I have learned the secret of rapid weight loss: MAKE YOUR OLD SCALE JEALOUS.

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I make important things.

Sometimes a dumb idea appears and must be indulged.
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Please enjoy some bad writing about sex

Don’t write like this. If you do write like this, don’t send it to a publisher. It’s creepy, embarrassing, and hilarious. You could be doing much more valuable things, like finally cleaning out that space under the kitchen sink or taking a really good nap.

Also: don’t publish writing like this. That’s paper that could be still be trees. Instead it’s a permanent record of a complete lack of understanding of composition, physical intimacy, and basic anatomy.

I changed my mind. Publish all writing like this. It accidentally brings the reader satisfaction. I hope that’s not a parallel to anything in the authors’ lives.

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Today in “Pictures I Felt Obligated to Take Even Though I felt Creepy Taking Them”

DOG_4132
Click the picture to embiggen.

Bonus: The Moment I Felt the Most Like a Jerk

I was at the light when I saw the man sleeping. I found a parking spot, got out my camera, walked to a good vantage point, and… the man sat up. Then I got annoyed. Yes, I got annoyed that a homeless man dared to re-position himself on a crappy, uncomfortable bus bench before I could take a picture of him.

Bonus: The Moment I Felt the Second-Most Like a Jerk

When I took this picture.

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Storyboarding

My monkeys make movies. I make my monkeys make storyboards. When they make their first ones, they almost always use stick figures, which makes it really hard to know things like character size, position, and direction. I’ve started pushing them toward variations on Ivan Brunetti’s cartooning, and it’s really helping them be more expressive on the page.

Wisdom Tree Storyboard
Storyboard for The Wisdom Tree
Storyboard for The Wisdom Tree
Storyboard for The Wisdom Tree

It’s kind of surprising how much the simple shapes can express. And the kids are actually trying to match their shots to their storyboards. Neat!

If you want to try some Brunetti for yourself, he’s got a book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0300170998/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

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My Least Favorite Call For Donations

I like Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I even (briefly and indirectly) worked for them. But I don’t care for this:

Children's Hospital donation request with a nickel
If I had a nickel for every time I got one of these…

I understand that donations matter and that every nickel counts. I understand that sending money, even a nickel, draws attention to the request. And I also understand that a mailer with a nickel costs at least a nickel more than a mailer without one. Don’t send me money when you’re asking me for money. It’s weird.

Again, I have nothing against CHLA. They do good stuff. You should give them money. Go to chla.org/give and throw a few bucks in to help some sick kids. I just did. But tell them Luke doesn’t want their nickels.

…and no fair pointing out that their marketing not only worked on me, but got me to advocate for them as well.