the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Irene Pirnat

Just got the news from my dad that my grandmother Pirnat passed away. I am not too surprised, as she'd been taken to the ICU yesterday with bad GI bleeding, but it still hurts. I'm feeling strangely disconnected from it all; I expect the grief will catch up to me once I've had a chance to process it a bit.

My grandmother Irene was lovely, humble, eternally kind, and made the best damn chocolate chip cookies in the world. She lived a good life, raised good kids, and will be sorely missed.

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Spam the Dead

I've been getting spam recently that's addressed to our former cat Pixel, who died last September. I'm not really sure how to feel about this, except a bit sad and disappointed on her behalf; I think she would have liked to have owned her own profitable franchise.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

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Random Thoughts Collected

I haven't posted in what seems like forever, which is partly due to how stupidly busy I've been at work lately. On one hand, I'm almost done with what I am stupidly busy with at the moment, but on the other hand, I am about to embark on even more strenuously busy endeavors. Eek!

Apple's new music service seems pretty damn cool. Their selection needs to be improved, and some of their pricing is a little weird ($0.99 per song is great, if it's not, say, the "20th Century Fox Fanfare", which is only 21 seconds long). Also, I lust after the new iPods.

The weather lately has been fantastic. We've entered into those fleeting few weeks of spring where the world is coming alive again, as if surprised by the sudden absence of winter. I went for a bike ride yesterday, down to Clague park, and watched the ducks, geese, and seagulls vie for the affections of little girls with loaves of bread. I sat in the sunshine with Liz, and was pleasantly at peace for the first time in, gosh, forever. Of course, I'm sore as hell from the ride, but all in all I figure it was worth it.

I'll be getting rid of my old Power 100 this week, which was my first new computer, that was no one else's. I feel oddly sentimental about it, but at the same time it's not doing me a lot of good sitting on the floor of the office. Hopefully someone else gets some use out of it.

We went to see Bill Cosby a couple weekends ago. On the stage sat an empty chair, and a white sweatshirt was draped on the chair. The brightly colored lettering on the sweatshirt read, rather simply, "WELCOME FRIEND." When Bill came out onstage, he explained that he'd recently lost a great friend in Fred Rogers, and that in tribute to Fred, and to all the loved ones who couldn't be with us, we would take a few minutes to listen to a song that he'd been playing on the road, and think about those we missed. He stepped off stage and cued up his music. For the next five minutes, we listened to "Ave Maria" while the stage remained empty, save for the spotlight on the empty chair, and the happy, white sweatshirt. At first the audience mumbled and chattered quietly to itself, but as the minutes passed, they collectively realized that he was serious and shut up. And it was heartbreaking, and it was comforting, and it was beautiful.

The rest of his show was as hilarious (and true) as I'd expected, and I loved every minute of it. But his opening was really touching and special, and I think that's what I'll remember the most.

Sunday we went to Eric and Kat's house for the combination calling hours/sitting shiva for Eric's mother, who died last week. I can only remember meeting her once, and that's if I even remember it correctly, but by all accounts she was an amazing lady, and though the world is saddened by her departure, it was most certainly enriched by her presence. My mother would be delighted to know that Eric's mom took up quilting several months ago, and did some really nice work in the time that she had. It was good to visit with Eric and Kat, to see that they are working through their grief, and to see the support of their friends during this difficult time.

>Oh, yes... We're running out of things for Liz to destroy. Poor girl. :-)

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Gosh. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I am feeling pretty damn low for some reason. Sort of like being spiritually kicked in the nuts. I have no drive to do anything, and I'd be pretty much satisfied if the world just all went away for awhile.

I wonder, is this just a post-winter/early-springtime generic malaise, or something more? I suspect that my borderline addiction to the news isn't helping, now that NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and Google News have launched a massive assault on my senses. Is it the occasional, inexplicable weirdness I am seeing from my car? Does it have something to do with waking up on February 1 to the news of Columbia? Am I still hurting from the departure of Mr. Rogers from this mortal coil? Maybe I've got unresolved feelings about Grandma and Grandpa both dying this winter. Maybe it's the still-lingering traces of guilt I feel about how my fuzzy little Nala left the world, so small and helpless and stupidly tragic.

I just have this feeling like, with a few exceptions, the entire world is systematically going horribly, horribly awry. I have this sick feeling in my stomach wherever I go, and I just can't seem to shake it.

To borrow a phrase from everybody's favorite angst-monkey, Trent Reznor, I want to do something that matters. I want to find something that I enjoy doing, and do it. I want to be a part of something meaningful. I want real relationships with friends again, not just the stimulus/response of the glowing screen and online journals. I want to see people, and do things, go places, and have some fun before the world goes completely to hell.

I guess what I'm trying to say is:

Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn ?
Remember how she said that
We would meet again
Some sunny day
Vera ! Vera !
What has become of you ?
Does anybody else in here
Feel the way I do ?

- Pink Floyd, "Vera", The Wall

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Another Friday, Another Trip, Another Funeral

Spent the morning doing laundry, then ran out to do some errands with Liz. Bought a green shirt to participate in the "wear green and red to the funeral" plan. It's not my favorite green, but it will do. Rushed back home, let Liz sleep for half an hour, then packed like crazy. It's about time to head to the airport, but I figured I'd stop and wave goodbye first. (Bye!)

Hopefully all the airplane stuff works out, ol' Bernoulli still in effect, that sort of thing. And hopefully the weekend works out without anyone getting too cranky at anyone else. The weather has really beaten the crap out of me, and Liz is super-tired from having been up super-early from work, and there are always some family tensions...

I'll catch y'all later. Have a great weekend!

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Friday at Home

Well, it sucks being too sick to go to work again. Actually, it doesn't suck quite as badly as yesterday, since my fever isn't oscillating quite as extremely.

I spent most of the morning sleeping/vegetating in bed while the cat lay between my knees, pinning me in place. After I could no longer bear the Today show, I watched "Dial H for Hitchcock," a documentary about (duh) Hitchcock and his films. Made mental notes to watch more of his films -- I have catching up to do.

Shortly after learning that Home Improvement's Al is now hosting Family Feud, I decided that it was time to get out of bed. After the full course of daily hygeine, I felt much more human and stumbled downstairs in search of food. I settled on yesterday's leftover kung pao chicken, which reheated nicely.

I have spent much of the rest of the afternoon reaping the benefits of last night's TiVo harvest -- Futurama, Daily Show, Freakazoid, Lupin, and more. I am just about officially converted to a TiVo junkie already. I may now be vastly more efficiently enslaved to my media masters, whoopee! The one thing I can tell right away, though, is that I will definitely want to upgrade my cabling (and multiswitch, and possibly dish) in order to pump a second DirecTV feed into the second tuner of the DirecTiVo, thus preventing the "can't change the channel, we're recording something else right now" syndrome. But all in all, I am definitely in love with it so far!

My mom has taken over planning for Grandpa's funeral services, which is a good thing, since my aunt was just getting overloaded with responsibilities. The service will be on March 1, so I won't be doing birthday festivities that weekend (new plans TBA).

The cat has now re-discovered my lap, making posting difficult, so I think that's enough for now.

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Lose Some, Win Some

It's been awhile since I've posted; I think it's out of a general, too-damn-cold, listless January malaise.

So, the quick update:

Sunday, the day after the Columbia disaster, my grandfather finally passed away. This came as more of a relief than a surprise, but given its timing -- not thirty days after the death of his wife, and the day after a national tragedy -- really stinks. He had been in a nursing home for 10 years, essentially waiting for Alzheimer's to finish him off. In many ways, I have already mourned his loss and moved on, since it has been a decade since he recognized me.

I started getting sick yesterday afternoon, with sore throat all day that eventually spawned some dizziness and low-level nausea. I actually left work early, figuring I had better drive home while I was still capable of doing so. It turns out it was a good idea, since the fever and aches arrived as the night went on. I watched the cast commentary for FotR (finally), though I slept through the last 45 minutes or so. I woke up around three this morning, moaning, and basically couldn't get back to sleep for the rest of the night. When we finally got around to measuring my temperature this morning, I had hit 101.8 degrees, so we figured that maybe I should take the day off from work. Since then my fever has been all over the place -- at the doctor's office I was down to 95 degrees, and now I'm up to 98.8 again. Whee....

But on the up side, I was here when the FedEx man arrived with my TiVo. :-) I'm off to get it all set up, can't wait!

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Hail Columbia

The Beatles said it best:

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

I hate when people tell me to turn on the news, and this morning is no exception.

In the coming days, there will be much speculation, supposition, analysis, and the inevitable media circus. Our space program, which I truly believe is the only long-term hope for the survival of all humanity, will surely grind to a sudden halt. And our nation will grieve along with the families of those astronauts who are now lost.

What will be important, and hopefully not lost among the sorrow and din, are the words of Ilan Ramon of Israel, who wished dearly for peace.

"When we go up to space, Earth is one unit, unity, no borders are seen from there. And lately, I think, in the last 10 or 20 years, with all the communication and information revolution, Earth became a kind of global village, and nothing more than space can contribute to that."

"I think people are very happy to be distracted by my flight and NASA flights, maybe to forget a little bit of their problems and get out there with us."

"The world looks marvelous from up here, so peaceful, so wonderful and so fragile."

It is this vision that we must hold to if humanity is to survive itself. It is this vision of peace and unity that we must be true to, to aspire to, and to one day make reality.

Farewell, Columbia; your dream will live forever in our hearts.

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Returned from Colorado

We are back from Colorado, back from visiting family, back from saying goodbye to my grandmother, the dearest, sweetest, most magical ray of sunshine to have graced all of our lives. In spite of the sad circumstance under which we gathered, despite the sorrow of her departure from this life, the woe of separation, we spent the weekend in celebration of her life, and the days were joyous and filled with love and warmth.

I'll probably (maybe) post more later, but for now, I will leave you with this:

When we got back from our trip to the grave, and then the church, there was a rainbow in the western skies, right over the mountains, and though it was fading quickly, it was glorious.

Thank you, Margaret Ellen Taylor, for everything. I'll see you in the funny pages.

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Vacation is Dead, Long Live Vacation

It felt pretty damn weird to be at work this morning, for any number of reasons. Mostly it has to do with being off for three weeks, which is quite honestly just about as long as I can remember. But I'm sure that the fact that 9 AM still feels like 4 AM might have something to do with it also.

In spite of my no-more-vacation angst, today wasn't bad. In fact, it was really quiet and slow -- too quiet. It was downright eerie. I kept waiting to be suddenly swamped, to find myself thrust into the heart of the crisis du jour, but it never happened, much to my surprise and eventual relief.

It will be a short week anyway, since we will travel to Denver on Friday to attend the memorial services for my grandmother.

I got nine journal entries from the Hawaii trip edited and posted, with a couple minutes to spare before West Wing, so I'm feeling pretty good about that. And now it's time to run! Hope you enjoy catching up on our vacation adventures.

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