Friday, July 12, 2013

All the pieces fall together

I'm so tired I took a short nap this evening. I am glad my wife called when she did. I should be able to get to sleep now that it is approaching bed time. You'll understand later why I was so tired.

I do not believe in coincidence. I do have a strong belief in providence. I also believe that if we allow ourselves to be guided we develop into the person we are supposed to be.

I wish I could say I am a lace maker. I hope I can say it again soon. But what is it that makes me good at crafts of this type. One could say a love for tedium, but actually sometimes in the mist of meticulous endeavor I sometime just wish it would end. I actually can feel surges of stress going through my body and then I carry on with more energy than before. I suppose that is part of what we call tenacity.

The last few days have reminded me of how much my life is out of control and yet being lead.

Last Saturday we learned that my brother had left us on Thursday July 4, 2013. The authorities had told his neighbor that they would contact the family but they never did. We had to hear about it through neighbors and friends. In the end we were lucky to have a cousin who is a Corpus Christi Police Officer. He called the morgue and verified that indeed my brother was there.

Then comes the planning to leave. My youngest had a great day camp scheduled for this week and my wife really had to stay for other reasons. So my two older sons and myself would travel to my home town of Kingsville, Texas.

At first mom wanted me to wait until just before the service to come. She didn't want me to have to pay for a hotel. My wife, the Engineer, insisted that I go as soon as I could to help my mother. As always my wife was correct. I needed to be here. And it was good to have an excuse to leave my youngest. My two older boys have their computers, movies and books. They enjoyed staying in the hotel while I attended to my mother's needs. I hate to say it but my youngest would have put a bit more strain and limitations on my getting things done.

On Saturday while discussing the trip my wife thought I should consider buying a laptop computer so I would have something to occupy my mind when I wasn't busy. I talked her and myself out of this. I have a desk top and though ancient it serves me well for the most part.

Then on Sunday she said you really aught to go to Costco and look at laptops. So we went. And though I could not convince myself that I needed a laptop for some reason I bought one, a nice one.

So in all my preparation for the trip I also had to prepare the laptop. What files would I need what tools did I need to configure while on my home network. The normal system updates alone were taking forever on WiFi so I hooked it up directly. Given the really lame WiFi at the hotel it would probably still be running, if it didn't fail outright. The abomination of a network won't let me send emails from Windows Live Mail. I need to go to some website and prove that my email address is from a human. Fortunately my providers website and Microsoft's Hotmail site allow me to send email.

It turned out that the computer has been critical in dealing with the Funeral arraignments and one other associated task.

I have been communicating on FaceBook and it is through this site that the family has passed news of my brother's death and the arraignments. In one particular case one of my niece's cousins, who I know I met at the last few funerals sent a friend request and messaged me. She asked me to call her which I did within half an hour of her request. She had read the obituary and she needed to know what had happened to her uncle.

But the main thing that the computer was instrumental in was one of those many somethings that we are not always prepared for and I do not know if anyone else in the close family could have succeeded as I did. Partially because I have a background in computers and partially because I am the type of person who can enjoy the tedium of lace making.

One of the first task my family wanted me to do was to find a way to back up Paul's computer. I won't go into it here but there are a lot of things that have happened leading up to Paul's death that do not make any sense. He had rented a new laptop and sold his old computer. There was nothing, absolutely nothing on the computer. Oh, we wont go into how using his note book of passwords I was able to come up with the password for new new computer. But where were all his pictures and such?

One of the true oddities of recent events was that the police had locked down the trailer after his death. But they did let his estranged wife go in to get some clothes and she took his iPhone. She claimed that her's was dead and she used Paul's phone to call and let us know about his demise.

Mom did get the phone back fairly quickly but it was out of charge. It was when we went to check out the trailer and try and retrieve the data from his computer that I found the charger and we removed the cable from the computer. My niece charged the phone over night and we went to the AT&T store to have the number changed so she could use the phone.

It was when we meet at the AT&T store that we discovered that he had a lock on his phone. Since I had just the day before broken the code to his computer it took three tries to unlock the phone.

We did change the number and put a new SIM card in the phone. They were going to reset the phone to factory defaults when I asked the clerk if there was a way to retrieve things like contacts or photographs. She didn't have a way at the store so I said I would try and we could reset it later. Then the stark blight of my toil began.

I hooked the phone to my computer and went to look at the photos. Only Camera Roll showed up on my computer so I called AT&T. The very nice and helpful clerk soon admitted that this was more of an Apple thing so on came Amber. The first clerk had explained how Camera Roll is where the pictures you take with the iPhone reside. The other folders were synced from a computer. Amber very nicely explained that iPhones are not meant to trade data between different computers but given the situation they would try to come up with a work around. The two she came up with would have taken days with substandard results.

While she was researching I was looking at various functions on the iPhone. I finally asked what is Photo Stream. This resulted in a bright flash of light and a loud gong sound. She did a little research and we started testing. We selected a couple of pictures in one of the folders by first clicking edit and then tapping the photos. We then selected share, tapped photo stream, tapped create new photo stream, tap next and finally post. Then we opened the photo stream then again tap edit, tap the photos, tap share, tap Camera Roll. It actually took several tries to get this sequence but now we had it. I thanked her. It was a 42 minute phone exchange.

And then it began. Attach the phone to my computer. Copy Camera Roll to my computer, delete the contents of Camera Roll. Go to the phone. Open a folder. Select edit and then tap every photo, select share, select photo stream, create or add to a photo stream, tap next and tap post. Open the photo stream, select edit and then every photo, select share, select Camera Roll. Wait and then disconnect the phone from the computer, reconnect the phone to the computer. A then you repeat the process with a different folder.

At some point I discovered that somewhere around 500 pictures the process stops. So for the fuller folders I had to extract the photos in groups of three to four hundred.

So here is where being used to repetitive, meticulous crafts paid off. There were 15 folders with a total of 3,518 photos each of which I touched at least twice. With mistakes and the like some photos were touched more that twice.

After this I kept one complete set, Paul's widow wanted everything saved. I found an app to retrieve the contacts, but I did not extract the music. It was Paul's phone they were separated, so I did not want to deal with ownership issues of copyrighted music.

I do not wish to seam cold but she is lucky to get what I will be giving her. I did not want to transfer all of the photos. Some are not appropriate to my moral outlook. But at this point I took on the persona of an archivist and I did want to save everything for the widow. She was in a lot of the pictures. Fortunately not any of the questionable ones. This process along with resetting the phone took over 12 hours, not counting the phone call.

There was a reason for expediency. The funeral home, but more so, my mother and my niece wanted wanted pictures of Paul and his grand kids for a video montage to run during the funeral and I had to get the pictures to the Funeral Director by 9:00 am.

I needed to find some pictures and I need to remove any objectionable pictures so I could make a DVD for my mother and my niece. I went through every picture and selected the ones we needed and deleted the ones inappropriate for my niece and mother. In addition to the porn, my niece had told me she wanted to have nothing to do with guns, not even see them. There were several pictures of just guns and a few with her father with a gun. Including what I think was the gun.

I emailed the pictures to the Funeral Director at 2:38 in the morning and reset her phone. My niece now as a like new from the factory iPhone 5 and we will have pictures of my brother with his grand kids and I am able to look back on my life and my recent chance purchase and see how I was uniquely prepared to help my family in this endeavor. Even that one decision to pay a little more for a DVD drive. I was told most people just down load stuff now. But I will be leaving three DVDs here, which would not exist but for everything that lead to this day. It would have been sad for my niece to lose these memories. Now to bed and then its time to say good bye.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Musings on a tattered life

Can you believe it was April of 2011 the last time I made an entry. I cannot blame Facebook since it has only been the last couple of months that I have started getting hooked in the universe.

I guess part of my issue is that with everything such else (kids, health issues, the violin) I have not been that involved with lace and this blog was begun as an area for my thoughts on tatting, though I did extend it to bobbin lace at one point. This post will touch very little on lace and may actually be a little sad towards the end.

I am staying in a motel in my home town. I do not know when I lost the habit of visiting, but I rarely return to this little town in South Texas. Kingsville.

Though I have not done any lace making in a long time I cut off a UFO and brought some shuttles and thread along with one of my tatting boxes.

I have been having a rough time with my knees lately and the osteoarthritis was exacerbated recently when I was a Walking Den Leader at this year's Cub Scout Day Camp. I loved being able to spend time with my youngest and the rest of the den, but obviously my knees cannot tolerate that much walking, especially in a semi-rough terrain.

I was going to have one of my knees replaced last September but another member of the family became ill so we put it off. I now plan on having one of the knees replaced after the first of the year.

I will be limited physically for a few weeks so I really want to have my lace making up to at least an intermediate level so I can use the craft to distract from my situation. I don't want to be struggling with things like how to join at the end of a doily or having to frog stitch (rip it rip it) because I forgot to put a twist in before going around a pin.

But now why am I back in Kingsville. Unfortunately over the last few years my visits have almost always been to say good bye to that which remains of a person after that which defines a person has left them. Most unfortunately the last four times the loss was self inflicted and all in one family.

So here I sit late at night thinking about today's trip and the things my mother and I will need to attend to tomorrow. The trip was uneventful and even given the nature of the visit very enjoyable. But as my doctor once said, I am a dweller and there is nothing I can do about that.

As one would expect I am having difficulty focusing, though I was able to maintain focus on my driving even with in the musings that occupied my thoughts for some 238 miles, tattered musings at that.

It always amazes me that as much as I remember disliking so many things about this area as a kid just how much I love this place. I especially enjoy the drive, watching the land become south Texas. It is just so beautiful. And then I think about my kids sitting behind me. The glow of movies on their lap tops lighting their faces.

We could see the Celanese Plant from the by passafter dark. I always thought of how amazing how the plant always reminded me of a ship at night, though more lit up than anything I had ever seen off of Bob Hall Pier. I explained to the boys that I had been told that there were three sister plants built and that the Kingsville/Bishop plant was the only one that had not blown up. I then engaged in a little hyperbole and told my oldest that if the plant were to blow up we would be in part of the hole. My middle son had already gone back to his movie.

I think that neither one of them was much impressed that their grandfather had spent his entire work life in that plant or that after the 1987 explosion of the Pampa plant most of their grandmother's family had worked on the rebuild, including their mother. I wonder if any of my in-laws are aware that the plant they help rebuild ceased production in 2009 and is being turned in to an industrial park.

My sons's lack of interest in the land and it beauty put me in a very meditative mood. One of those moods where memories just come, seemingly from nowhere. Though just as I recognize so many of the sights even after all these years I know the memories are also there, waiting to comfort or to torment, though mostly this day to bring calm and resignation.

I remember a drive many years ago. I must have been late junior high or early high school. My brother would have been about the age of my middle son, or even my youngest. I don't remember where we were going Corpus Christ or Mexico, just some forgotten trip, except for this one memory.

Paul was tired and back then cars didn't have seat belts. He laid down sideways and placed his head on my lap. Hard to imagine with my kids. Even tonight at the hotel my oldest insist that he will not sleep with anyone. So my middle one and I are sharing a queen size bed.

I remember Paul starting to breath quietly and then there was that little jerk that lets you know he had fallen asleep. Well I didn't know it at the time, it startled me. So I asked dad if he was alright and dad explained that we do that sometimes when we fall asleep. Then I remember stroking his hair for a while, watching him and hearing him breath.

Paul was born on June 11, 1958 a few days latter I remember sitting in the back seat of the station wagon and being allowed to hold him all the way from the hospital to our home. Years later we sold that station wagon and I remember feeling sorry for Paul. He cried. After all his world had always included that vehicle. And though I was rarely around my world had always included Paul, for better and worst.

On July 4, 2013 while I was alone, my wife at work, my oldest at Philmont Scout Ranch and my two other sons at Schlitterbahn on an Alter Server field trip, over two hundred miles away my brother was in torment and for some reason I will never know he chose to leave us. But for some reason I still have not cried.

Tomorrow I will see my mother for the first time in many months. Actually is might have been just after July 4, 2011. And just now as I finish these tattered musings I feel like I am about to cry.