Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Old Buddy Rick McFadden

Above is a photo of my friend Rick McFadden and his wife Laura. Rick and Laura currently live in Madison, WI with their sons Britt and Brian, both students at the University of Wisconsin.

In junior high and high school, Rick and I were tighter than a pair of thieves. We lost contact with each other when we moved to different parts of the country to pursue our respective careers, but thanks to Google and the internet we've managed to re-establish contact with each other. And that has unleashed a flood of memories. . . . . . .

. . . . . . . like camping out in the woods when we were in junior high. Or like the endless rounds of basketball games------sometimes one-on-one, sometimes five-on-five------in our respective backyards. We raced each other to see which one of us would be the first to get our driver license. (I honestly can't remember who "won.") And I especially remember the basketball games involving Duke, Davidson, North Carolina, etc., that we would see in Charlotte at the old Charlotte Coliseum on Independence Boulevard. And after the games, we'd pull into a Shoney's drive-in for a few late night greaseburgers, followed by a rambling late night drive back home through the back roads of the Carolinas.

It was a lot of fun having Rick as a friend, and it was even more fun when we re-established contact a few weeks ago. I have a lot of great memories of the things we did together, and I'm enjoying recalling them in our frequent e-mails.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Visit From My Old Friend Hugh McCallum

The photo above shows me (at right) with one of my oldest and best friends in this world, Hugh McCallum (at left). We're on the beach at Corpus Christi Bay with the aircraft carrier USS Lexington behind us.

Hugh and I tried to figure out how old we were when we first met, and we finally determined we must have been four or five years old. That means we have known each other for over 50 years, not a bad record for two people who are not blood relatives.

Hugh lives in Los Angeles and works as a grip in movie and commercial production. You can see a credit for Hugh in the closing credits for such films as Casino, The Doors, True Lies, and, of course, the beloved Charles Bronson revenge drama Murphy's Law. Hugh kept Di and I well entertained with stories of the actors and directors he has worked with (and he had something good to say about almost everyone), and he and I also did some heavy duty trips down memory lane to the people and places of our boyhoods.

It is impossible for me to describe how much good a visit from an old friend does me these days. It's weird that at the time when I am physically collapsing that my heart is happier than it has been in years. The visits and e-mails from people in my past mean so much, more than I ever can put in words.

Hugh is the walking definition of a "good man." He has been a true and loyal friend over the decades, and it is a great honor to have him for a friend.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Visit From My Friend Forrest Mims

My old friend Forrest Mims and his wife Minnie visited me a few days ago; the photo above shows Forrest at left and me at right. I have known Forrest since July, 1979, and he has been one of my closest, and most wise, friends since then.

I first met Forrest when I was a technical writer and editor in Radio Shack's technical publications group at their Fort Worth, Texas headquarters. Forrest was bringing in the "manuscript" for his book Engineer's Notebook. The manuscript was actually a set of mylar transparencies on which Forrest had carefully hand-drawn each figure and word, much like an actual engineering notebook. Forrest and I spent a hot July afternoon spraying clear lacquer on each transparency to protect the lettering, and in that three hours or so a lasting friendship was forged. And Engineer's Notebook went on to sell over 750,000 copies, each a tribute to Forrest special genius when it comes to explaining electronics technology clearly and simply.

Since then I have served as Forrest's editor at various publishers, including HighText/LLH, and have shared all manner of experiences and ideas with Forrest. Forrest's mind is encyclopedic and far-ranging; he is a disciplined, focused thinker whose work has appeared in such publicatons as Nature and Scientific American in addition to his books. It is a shame that many of Forrest's readers are unaware of his wicked sense of humor!

During my cancer, he has always been there for me with supportive words and a sympathetic ear.

Forrest is a loyal and true friend, and I am grateful for his friendship over the years!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Virtue Triumphs Over Evil

North Carolina 79, Duke 71. That makes six victories over the Blue Devils in the last seven games, and is more proof that Roy Williams has restored Carolina as the dominant basketball program in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

I'm still here, but I haven't felt much like blogging lately. I'll try to get my butt into gear and start posting again (and my thanks to those who e-mailed wondering if I'm okay). I am still at peace with my situation and with what lies ahead for me.