ALERT: I’m scheduling my midlife crisis next week

Dear Friends,

A number of factors in my life lately have led to a whole lot of stress – above and beyond normal life – for a while now. Therefore, in part to deal with these issues, I am hereby declaring a midlife crisis. I plan to start it in exactly one week [1], at lunchtime, on Friday June 21st, and stretching throughout the summer months. I’m sure you all have many questions, so let me try to address some of them now.

Shane! What’s wrong, Shane?

I’ve decided to have a midlife crisis. Isn’t that the responsible thing to do? I figure if I schedule some of it out, it’ll be much more convenient for everyone.

Are you OK?

Yes, in the big picture, I’m still better off than most humans on the planet: I have a wonderful wife, daughter and cats; a comfy home; and a paying job. So color me #FirstWorldProblems for sure. But…

But what? What’s been going on?

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment was probably the death of my father, in January of this year. Dealing with both the personal issues and especially dealing with the paperwork and other extended family estate issues was far more than I expected, and is continuing. This also led to a number of other stresses and health issues for me, which of course got me worried about being stressed… Plus, my father was a hoarder, and the responsibility of cleaning out his house(es) is a huge undertaking that’s not even half done.

Coupling this with both the hectic normal life of a family with a young school child, two working parents with busy jobs, plus my significant (and growing) volunteer responsibilities at the ASF, has just been more than is comfortable to deal with.

So what are you doing about it?

Well, right now I’m writing this witty and informative blog post about it, just for you!

(ahem) No, really.

Well, I figured since I’m of that age anyway, I might as well schedule a midlife crisis. See, one of the skills I’ve always thought I should work on is better time management, so I figure if I can schedule a midlife crisis I’d already be improving myself.

Hence, to have a proper midlife crisis, I am taking an unpaid leave of absence from my job. Thus while I may be without regular income (but see: #FirstWorldProblems), I will have ample time to do all those crazy and fun things that go with a traditional midlife crisis. And since I won’t have a 9-to-5 (ha!) for a while, I should be much less worried about “getting things done” and just relax.

Cool – so what are you planning to do?

Well, it may sound trite, but I plan to buy a new(er) car. While I may love my current BMW very dearly, he’s finally started to succumb to the dreaded E36 rust monster. Be on the lookout for an E90 sedan w/manual & sunroof for me.

I also plan to enjoy the summer. While I’ve had sabbaticals before (thank you Lotus!), I’m really looking forward to having a whole 12 weeks of no job. I’ll do some cool stuff with my family, we’ll go visit family & friends a bunch, and I’ll do some important – or not so important, but fun – projects at home. Perhaps finishing my retro man cave, or finally organizing my entire digital life.

That sounds good – but will it help?

Not sure – I’ve never had 3 months off from my job since I started working at Lotus almost 2X years ago. But I also hope to work on a bunch of those things that I keep wanting to really do, but never seem to complete. I’m at the point in life where it’s clear to me that having more available time is more important right now than, say, income. And, #FirstWorldProblems, I am lucky enough in my career to be able to take a temporary leave from work (thanks, manager!).

Good for you. What does this have to do with me?

Well, one of the most important uses of additional free time that I can think of is to spend more time with friends! So one of the (again, stereotypical) things I hope to do is a few guy trips or dinners out with friends. Movies, good dinners, a drive somewhere, some card games, a trip to MV, or a recap of my 10th anniversary bachelor party would all be fun.

Likewise, it would be great to see families and friends, and local friends from school, and so on. We have a few weeks scheduled already, but otherwise plenty of time in the summer available now. So that’s what it does with you – I’d love to see all you friends more!

In any case, wrapping up things here at work will be quite busy until then, but do send me an email if you have cool ideas of stuff to do this summer.

Thanks for asking those great questions, by the way. That’s just what I needed to feel like I have a good start to my midlife crisis.

[1] BHD and the astute readers of my blog will of course note the discrepancy, which I will note is likely a result of stress getting the date wrong. That, or I’m just trying to be funny.

Steven Nichols Curcuru: television pioneer; technology columnist; Resident Wizard [UPDATE 1]

Steven Nichols Curcuru, television pioneer, technology columnist, and Resident Wizard, age 68, passed away peacefully at a friend’s home in Groton, MA on January 6th, 2013, as a result of pancreatic cancer.

Born in October 1944 at the West Point Military Hospital while his father was serving in the European Theater in WW2, Steven grew up with his parents Edmond and Patricia and two younger brothers. Although the family moved frequently during Steven’s childhood, they regularly spent summers in Southhold, NY where he raced his Lightning sailboat and worked as a lifeguard at Founders Landing Beach. After graduating early from Phillips Academy, he attended the College of William & Mary where he worked at the school’s radio station WCWM and as a folk music producer, and graduated in 1967.

Steven then moved to Concord, MA, and worked at WNAC-TV Channel 7 in Boston. In his long tenure at Channel 7, he brought many innovations to the television newsroom in the 1970s and 1980s, including designing and installing the first-ever computer network story editing systems, computer-controlled studio cameras, and computer animated weather graphics. Steven produced a number of major news events at Channel 7, including Emmy award-winning coverage from onboard the USCGC Eagle of the American Bicentennial OpSail ’76, as well as winning other Emmy awards and a New York Film Festival award. He was also a part-time journalism professor at Boston University, where he particularly enjoyed mentoring newcomers to television news production and helped to launch a number of careers in broadcast journalism. In 1993, Steven moved on to become the Resident Wizard at Mugar Enterprises, advising the company on technology investments and working to produce and expand Boston’s Fourth of July events. He wrote a regular column for PC Week, and served as a judge at Comdex computer conferences.

Steven is survived by his mother Patricia N Curcuru, his brothers Kevin H. Curcuru and Kim M. Curcuru, his son Shane Curcuru, granddaughter Roxanne Curcuru, significant other Linda Miller-Foster, and best friend Karen Coe.

A memorial gathering is planned at the end of January in Sudbury, MA for local friends and family. A private family memorial will be held at Southhold, NY in the summer. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memoriam of Steven N. Curcuru to the Northeast Animal Shelter, to the MSPCA-Angell shelter, or to Coast Guard Mutual Assistance.

Comments or questions about arrangements posted here will be passed on to the family.

Dr. Edmond Harvey Curcuru, CPT (R) USA: beloved grandfather; decorated officer; distinguished lecturer

Dr. Edmond Harvey Curcuru, CPT (R) USA, age 89, passed away peacefully in his sleep at his Longboat Key, FL home on March 20th, 2011, as a result of long-term heart complications.

Born in April, 1921, Edmond grew up in Ferndale, MI with his parents Louis and Florence, two brothers and sister. After high school, he and his brother Louis both received Congressional nominations, and were accepted into the same class at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY. While at West Point, his brother Louis lost his life while flying a training mission. Edmond graduated in an abbreviated three years with the class of June 1943 and received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Before departing for the war in Europe, he married his Highland Falls, NY sweetheart, Patricia Nichols.

Arriving in Europe in the fall of 1944, Edmond was assigned to the 502nd PIR of the 101st “Screaming Eagles” Airborne division a few short days before the Battle of the Bulge. He made his only combat jump off the back of a truck into the battle near Bastogne, where the 101st was encircled by the enemy. As the only surviving officer of his company, he led his men until forces of the 3rd Army broke the encirclement, winning the Bronze Star for his actions. Shortly thereafter, he was wounded by a bomb, losing the use of his wrist and acquiring some lifelong shrapnel along with a Purple Heart.

After his medical discharge from the U.S. Army after the war, he taught at Miami University in Ohio until being recalled by the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He spent his remaining Army service as a Captain teaching at West Point, and was one of the original faculty members of the Department of Military Psychology and Leadership.

After retiring on disability from the U.S. Army, Edmond moved to Connecticut, where he consulted and presented training for Life Office Management Association and across the insurance industry while receiving his PhD from Columbia University. He was one of the founding professors at the Stamford branch of the University of Connecticut Business School, where he taught business and management classes. He traveled extensively for his teaching, lecture, and consulting work on leadership and management theory with many insurance companies, and served as a director for the Sentry Life Insurance Company of New York.

Edmond continued his consulting and teaching work with his own company, Management Services, Inc. for many years, well past his retirement age. He called several places home in his life, including Palm Springs, FL; Weston, CT; Longboat Key, FL, and especially Southold, NY, where he dearly loved predicting the weather, and watching the sunset over the waves on the beach.

Edmond is survived by his wife, Patricia N. Curcuru; his sons Steven N. Curcuru, Kevin H. Curcuru, and Kim M. Curcuru; grandchildren Shane Curcuru, Julie Curcuru, Emily Curcuru, and Todd Curcuru, and great grandchildren Roxanne Curcuru and Arin Mcgilvray. Services will be held later this summer at the Southold United Methodist Church in Southold, NY, at the family plot.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to your preferred U.S. Army Veterans organization, or to the Southold United Methodist Church, in memoriam of E.H. Curcuru, USMA June ’43.

Condolences and memories may be added on the web Comments on below and will be presented to Patricia and the family.

Buying anything on Black Friday?

So what deals are you looking for tomorrow on Black Friday? And how many people are actually going out to the store, versus just shopping online, especially with the large number of retailers promising similar prices?

And for the non-US readers out there: does anyone else have similar sales tomorrow, or is it completely restricted to the US? Just wondering how if anyone elsewhere was going to try to order something on sale from the Amazon US store for shipping elsewhere, for example.

Hey, where did the black friday boycott stuff go? Wasn’t there a move a while back to go all non-consumer instead in the past?

We finished reading The Hobbit last night

Which we’ve been reading to Roxanne slowly as a bedtime story. One of the first things she said when Amy was done reading the last chapter was: “Can we start again tomorrow?” I was so proud.

The Hobbit is definitely one of those books that sounds better read aloud rather than just read to yourself. We’ve skipped a few parts, and massaged the reading of the story to gloss over a few of the violent or scary scenes that Roxanne didn’t like (especially at bedtime). But The Hobbit is far closer to being appropriate for kids than the rest of The Lord Of The Rings is – the adventure is just great, and Roxanne really seems to like Bilbo now.

Wow – I just noticed that among many many other editions of Tolkien-related works, Amazon also has The Hobbit: A 3-D Pop-Up Adventure. Too bad it only features 5 scenes, the reviews seem to point out that they’re beautifully done.

Any suggestions on other classics we should try reading at bedtime next? I tried reading some Fairy chapter books last night, which Roxanne likes sometimes – but it was really hard going back to the overly simple structure that most kids books use in their writing. We’re ready for some stories that are approachable for kids, but written for adults (and preferably, stories Amy and I would like!)

What will our children think of the real-time web?

Not now, but rather… in a few years: what will today’s young children think of the real-time web we’ve posted them to? When they’re old enough to think through what it means. When they’re a teenager going through the awkward years. When they’re getting out of college, looking for a job. When they’re out on a date.

How will their experience be different, when all the world can watch exactly how they grew up?

Little Ryan Soroush Scoble – only a few days old now – will have a chance to live that life. One inside of the real-time web, right from the very beginning after his C-section entry into the world. His father, @scobleizer has publicly Tweeted, FriendFeed’, Posterous’d, flicrk’d, blogged, and a wide variety of other online tool’d the whole process. And I can only imagine he’ll continue the quest for good technology behind the real-time web as Ryan gets to grow up.

When do you think Ryan will figure out what the internet is, and be excited about all this cool stuff about him that he can see live, right now? (I guess 3 years old.) When do you think Ryan will realize that maybe it’s not so cool, and he wishes his dad hadn’t posted that video of him doing (insert embarassing pre-teen moment here)? (My bet is before 10.)

In some ways I had a similar early childhood, with a father who was a technology geek and a photographer. I remember baby pictures (of course), birthday and holiday pictures, and pictures of me every year the first day of school (every year), and sometimes the second day of school, and sometimes my haircut… But those were all private pictures; ones shared only with close family, and now, mostly lost somewhere in the maze of the basement. Heck, even today, even with my high-tech life and open source contributions, there’s still only a handful of pictures of me easily findable on the net. And videos, or stories about me on the net? Only the ones I choose to post, now that I’m an adult.

How will the continuing information revolution change our lives with this brand new and very personal sharing that easy blogs, flickr, and Facebook have given us? It’s an interesting question for adults, far beyond the simple “Dude, did you really mean to post that kegger on FB?”, but one that’s been discussed plenty. What I wonder is, how will it affect our children – those who aren’t aware enough to decide their fates now – what they’ll think about it later, when they realize what their parents did.

Disaster week is OVER!

This is offered – not as an excuse, but as an explanation – of why I’ve been so quiet lately. Some friends and perhaps fellow members have wondered why I haven’t spoken up or made known some positions recently.

In the past week or so, I’ve been dealing with a number of stressful situations including:

  • Extended family member in rehab recovering from a heart attack
  • Close family member with arm and wrist injuries
  • Various minor but urgent miscellaneous legal issues
  • Various questions from our home renovation contractor
  • A cat at the emergency vet at 2AM
  • Leaks in the roof
  • No attic or basement (due to shuffling boxes for contractor)
  • Flaky electricity in half our outlets
  • No home internet for a while
  • Reorg at work
  • Cats making a mess and being upset at the rest of the stress in life

I do recognize that I’m incredibly lucky even give the aforementioned disaster a day of the past two weeks. I live in a country with free speech, and free and fair elections. I have a great job, own (some of) my own home, and have a wife and daughter more wonderful than I ever imagined. I don’t have any serious illnesses, and all of our cats are now in at least stable condition.

But the human condition is a relative one: one person’s exciting challenge is another person’s incipient ulcer. And we’re used to a certain pace or style of life – while I can handle most disasters as well as anyone, too many at once just doesn’t feel fair. Hence, a number of things I’ve wanted to do have been postponed for a while lately.

So I declare it the end of disaster week, and look forward to a disaster-free and very fun weekend with some family coming to visit. I just hope we have enough floor space left from all our storage reshuffling to find the spare bed!

PorchBlogging

Yes, it’s almost that time of year, so I’m sitting on the porch blogging away. Looking forward to doing more of it soon now that it’s spring, and the sun is up so long.

I saw an old friend this morning after my morning cappuccino and coding at my favorite coffee shop, Peet’s in Lexington. It was one of those odd moments of complete and happy surprise, since while we email regularly, I really didn’t expect to see him in downtown Lexington, just sitting on a park bench. In any case, he reminded me that I should blog more, and not just about that Apache stuff. So here you go. I will say I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends in the next two weekends, since I think some plans will be coming together nicely.

Hey! If anyone has good links for Patriot’s Day events this year, email them or post them here. I really want to get a good calendar of what’s happening when, since it’s one of my favorite holidays of the year. I’ll drop one excellent link here – if you want to know what actually happened back then, read Boston 1775, a blog by J.L. Bell, who has great commentary as well as links to original source material from the time of the revolution.

In other news, I’m ashamed to say I’m drinking instant coffee with my stroopkoeken. It’s one of those guilty pleasures – I love the Idee Kaffee instant coffee packets that I brought home from Amsterdam last month. Please don’t tell Janice or the staff at Peet’s I’m drinking anything but their bar drinks or my whole bean Maj. Dickason’s I get each week.