Saturday, January 10, 2009

Funeral for a Friend

This morning we headed down to Barton Springs spillover to give Melbotis a good place to be, and to have an opportunity for us to say a kind of good-bye. We'd mentioned that we were doing it, publicly, but I sort of figured it would be me, Jamie, and Jason if we could get Jason out of bed.

Instead, we were joined by Steven and Lauren, Matt and Nicole, Jason, Reed and his daughter, Meredith. I could say something about how Matt held us all up by insisting on being late and making everyone stand around in the cold, but I won't. We'd decided ahead of time that we weren't going to stand around and eulogize Mel. We care a huge amount about him, but... you know, words usually fail, anyway.

So when Matt and Nicole showed up (eventually...*), we all tromped down to the water and Jamie and I thanked the folks who came. It was oddly empty down at the water's edge. I'd never been to the spillover when there wasn't a single person or dog around, and, yes, it was fairly early and it was cold here this morning, but it was still strangely quiet.

I tossed a ball for Mel out to the middle of the creek so he'd always be able to play. We spread his ashes into the water and sent him on his way with a Milkbone.

Afterward, we packed it in and went to Shady Grove for lunch, where we were met by Letty and Juan.

All in all, it was a lovely day. And a reminder of how amazingly lucky we are to have friends who show up on a 45 degree morning sometime before noon to help us wish Mel godspeed. The whole week, honestly, has been nothing short of overwhelming with the thoughts and expressions of friends, family, surprise web posts, strangers... It is a good old world, sometimes. And its funny how even when he's gone, Mel, and all of you, have helped to remind me that's true.

So thanks to each and every one of you.

Good-bye, buddy. There are many people who love you very, very much.

*I kid because I love. But, seriously, if I die, we're not waiting on Matt to get his coffee. Just bury me, for chrissake.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Making Time for Comics

Well, it's 6:02 left in the third of the BCS Championship, and I am now certain that had UT made it to the Championship Game, they would have played just about as well as either Florida or OU. At the risk of offending my parents, who are Florida Alum, or Jamie's parents, who are huge Sooner fans, I will leave it at that.*

So my comics have sort of been backing up on me a bit. It's helping me decide which titles I'm not going to follow anymore, but its also telling me that I'm missing some fundamental pocket of time I used to have for enjoying comics. I think it breaks down this way:

Arizona + Job - life outside work = Time to read comics
Austin - Job + life outside work = Time to read comics
Austin + Job + life outside work = No time to read comics

Anyway, with that in mind, I'm going to take advantage of this quiet night and go off and read some comics.

*McCoy wouldn't have choked like these two knobs at QB.
Special thanks to my folks, who sent a card in the mail. They've donated some money to the Austin Humane Society in Mel's name.

Also, Mel's passing has received a mention at the high-profile comics site "The Beat", written by seer of all comicdom, Heidi MacDonald. It was a bit odd to stumble across the mention amongst discussion of Chip Kidd, the upcoming Spider-Man musical by U2 (yeah, you read that right), and a call for a female-starring superhero movie (I vote for WW). We honestly weren't aware that Heidi had any notion of what we were up to here at League HQ, so we not only appreciate her condolences, but giving Mel the high profile goodbye that the League's hit count can't quite muster.

It's the last link at the bottom of this post.

Jamie picked up Mel's ashes today from the vet. Included in the bag of materials we received was a one page insert including a story where the pet crematorium got its name, Rainbow Bridge. I think its exactly the sort of thought I'd like to have about my guy right now. I think pet owners should read it.

My comic addled brain originally couldn't figure out what the name Rainbow Bridge had to do with the Rainbow Bridge leading to The Mighty Thor's Asgard.. but it works for me either way...

For those of you wondering (because I know you'll e-mail me to ask), Mel's ashes are in a plastic bag inside of a lovely cedar box, about the size of a jewelry box.

She also found this plastic insert from one of Mel's old toys which was designed to allow you to record your voice so the pet toy would use your disembodied voice to re-assure your pet. That was, of course, kind of creepy when you were home, so we removed the voice box years ago. It seems that I recorded myself prompting Mel to speak. So Jamie has taken that little fragment of Mel's voice and had put it in her iTunes.

I vaguely remember getting mel to speak, but I know that bark, and I can totally picture his excited face with his ears all cocked up and his eyes all bright as he's prompted to bark in the house (something he rarely did without permission from Jamie).

So we have a little bit of Mel's voice. And I think I have Super-Hi-8 tape of me playing with Mel from around 2001. I need to find that.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Saying Good-Bye to Melbotis

For folks in Austin, if you have some free time, we're going to spread Mel's ashes at 11:30 on Saturday morning at Zilker Park. I believe the game plan as of this evening is to head down to the Barton Springs spill over (which I'm not sure is entirely legal, but...). We're going to go down there at 11:30 on the side you enter off of Robert E. Lee Road, by the ballparks. No real ceremony. We just want him in a place he loved, and a place that when we go back (and we will, quite often), we'll know he's there.

Here's a map. Wear sneakers.

After that, I hope to head for lunch somewhere on Barton Springs, so if nothing else, come on out for a burger or something. Mel would want for you to eat the giant hot dog at Shady Grove.

You know, its been better, in general. Getting back to work certainly helped (and its crazy busy at work, so I'm staying distracted). But something will invariably happen each day that, even if it isn't necessarily simply missing Mel, still seems to throw me for a loop.

Today that was receiving an envelope in the mail from the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation. It seems that our veterinary hospital, Century Animal Hospital, had donated to the Foundation in Mel's name, and the TVMA Foundation had sent us a card informing us of the donation. The Vet's office had also sent us a lovely sympathy card signed by the entire staff.

Perhaps this is something they do for every pet they must help complete their journey (I would actually hope so), but it was a reminder that our vets, who were right there with us, who were the ones looking for every avenue to help Mel, and who were the ones who guided us through Mel's surgery last year that gave us an entire extra year with our boy... Anyway, they were there, too.

So, thanks so much to the Century Animal Hospital crew.

This Moment in History: Interesting Day in Politics

Firstly, it seems that President Bush rounded up his father, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter to join he and Barack Obama for lunch.

Say what you will about any of these people, but if there's one lunch that should have been recorded for posterity... While perhaps not as mindblowing as imagining John Adams lunching with, say... Thomas Jefferson and non-Prez Ben Franklin... or any of the lunches that would have had to have occurred in Philadelphia in 1776, there's no doubting that the conversation had to have been worthy of some archiving.

Hopefully W. did better than the hot dog lunch he served John McCain.

Read up on the lunch here.

Meanwhile, Blogojevich's pick for the Illinois Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Obama has been held off by a lack of some official seals, signatures and the fact that the Dems in Senate don't want anyone selected by Blagojevich within ten miles of the Capitol.

It's kind of fascinating to watch this wrech unfold, which you can do here.

And Al Franken, of all people, is poised to claim a Minnesota Senate seat after narrowly squeaking out votes in a recount (I think it was a difference of 225). Franken's opponent has promised to sue, which will gum things up for a good, long time.

You can read up on that fiasco here.

And my favorite story is, of course, that Porn Kingpin Larry Flynt has petitioned the US. Congress for a bailout of the porn industry.

I'm not someone who looks down his nose at the porn industry in a "there's trouble right here in River City" sort of way. It's simultaneously an incredibly complex issue and an astoundingly simple issue, and may be capitalism and freedom gone awry in their purest form.

And while I am not a reader of Flynt's foremost publication, Hustler, I am one of the goofy millions who find his antics quite awesome. Less so "Girls Gone Wild" entrepreneur and pervy drunk-girl-exploiter, Joe Francis. But the two joined forces to write a letter today to congress beseeching them for a bailout of $5 billion for themselves and their smut generating brethren. A bailout, I might add, its not clear the evergreen industry of porn needs as, even as folks are tightening their financial belts, they're continuing to simultaneously loosen their actual belts.

Anyhow, I have often saluted Flynt's chutzpah and creative use of attorneys, and it seems I must tip my hat to the man once again. Uncle Larry isn't worried about himself. He's worried about us!

"People are too depressed to be sexually active," Flynt said in the statement. "This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."

Read here.

Monday, January 05, 2009


UT wins Fiesta Bowl

So... UT won the Fiesta Bowl. Who'da thunk it?

I certainly thought UT had all the potential in the world to win and SHOULD win, but given how 2009 had been going so far, I sort of figured... eh, why get your hopes up? In fact, I predicted UT would lose by 14, just to make myself feel better.

Well, UT won this evening in Glendale versus the Buckeyes. Heck of a game once we were in the second half. Colt, Cosby and the rest managed to pull a rabbit out of their hat that I confess, I wasn't sure they had in them (if it had been VY, then I would have believed it, but...).

I am really happy for the UT Horns and am optimistic that next year can be just as great.

Now to look forward to Thursday's game, which I am guessing will be pretty crazy. I am unsure who I am rooting for yet, as both teams were impressive as heck all year (and I seriously question whether UT could beat either team at this moment).

Salvation Army Red Bucket

So I want to both report on how we did and thank some folks for the success of this year's first foray into the Virtual Red Bucket as the League of Melbotis had its first fundraiser.

Our projected goal was $300, and we managed to raise $360! Not bad, everybody!

We'll be back next year (or perhaps in June) with another go at it. I like the idea that maybe I can use LoM for good, occasionally.

So who can I thank?

My in-laws, Dick and Judy get a shout out. My own folks, KareBear and The Admiral. Jason, of course. The Doug gave, as did Heather Wagner. Matt M. and Erik Z. chipped in. My Arizona pal Maria Hanlin gave, too. JimD was more than happy to throw a few clams in the bucket.

PLUS, I had reports from Leaguers such as Carla and Nicole (and Justin?) that they'd found a real bucket out there and made sure to help out. And poor Simon tried to make a donation, but the website apparently was displeased with his Canadian money. So special salute to Simon for trying and trying.

Melbotis Tributes

Thanks so much to all for their support.

Randy makes mention of Mel at his site.

Lauren draws a lovely image of Mel and invites you to join in.

Jason says good-bye.

And so does Jamie. I know how hard writing this must have been for her, and I think its a lovely tribute to our guy. Also here.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

For those of you keeping score at home...

Last night Lucy, who has been very anxious with Mel gone, ate a box of biscuits she's received as a present for Christmas. The whole box.

So this morning Jamie woke up just in time to witness Lucy horking up the undigested portion onto the sofa. So poor Jamie had to go to the vet with Lu while I figured out how to clean a sofa. Visitors to League HQ will be glad to know that while it did take the better part of today, we have a very clean sofa to sit on. Probably cleaner than at any other time you've been here, honestly.

So far 2009 is not turning into a banner year. I think I will be crawling back into bed and waiting to see what 2010 has in store.

Lucy is feeling much better, by the way. Although I am noticing she's still a bit off her game.

Jeff the cat remains, as always, Jeff the cat.

My extended holiday from work is now over with, and tomorrow morning I return to the salt mines. I'm actually looking forward to the distraction and getting into my groove again at work, once it is I remember what I do for a living (more than a long weekend away, and I usually need an hour just to sort out where the water cooler is located).

All of this work business has largely been put into perspective by a combination of the past week and a viewing of all of Season 1 of the BBC sitcom "The IT Crowd". If you work in IT, especially in an environment which does other things but relies upon your IT team, I highly recommend tracking the series down.

At this point, I am not expecting UT to win their game tomorrow at the Fiesta Bowl. I'd love for them to win. I will be rooting for the Horns. But... you know... it's just been that kind of week.