Friday, July 30, 2010


Today was a light day highlighted by less work and good food. This trip I hadn't been to Walker Brothers or to The BBQ Pit so today I went to both. Otherwise, things at the house are wound up for the contractors to do their stuff. I've arranged for people to keep an eye on things while the work is happening and I am setting up to head East back to my life for a little bit.

Projectwise it feels a little odd to walk away at this moment. There's still quite a bit to do on the house to get it ready to sell. On the other hand, much the remaining list is stuff that requires both me and my sister, so that would wait anyway. And then there's the dimension of trying to live and work in a house that has a crew of people working on it. I just have to remember that even though I'm not working that the project is moving forward.

Plus it will give me some time to decompress. That's something I think I really need.

To did:

  1. Went to the store to get some cleaning supplies, a file box for active files, and some "road" items.
  2. Swapped out 75W Spots for 60W Floods in the exterior lights that are on a sensor.
  3. Emailed the GC with some additional items
  4. Met with a home appraiser (our tax guy says we'll need an appraisal to settle the estate).
  5. Took my cousin through the GC's list so she can check up on things for me.
  6. Finished clearing away any small items from the rooms where people will be working.
  7. Did some additional cleaning/consolidation in the basement.
Every day it gets harder to remember the things I've been doing.

Tomorrow: Pack, load up, gas up, Chicago, Indiana, Ohio, PA, Pittsburgh...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Small Victories

Well I am going to make it.

Another day of fits and starts with the last room. I can't believe how small he'd managed to make that space. All cleared out its a really nice room, he'd turned it into a cave. It took maybe four days of work, but it's clear.

My other job for today failed fairly impressively. I bought some sensor bases for the exterior lights in a few places so they'd come on at night. When I went to install them today I discovered that the lamp sockets were in each case so deep that the sensor was covered - so it's always dark and the lamps are always on. It's not a complete disaster though. While I was doing one of the fixtures I noticed that it already was a sensor device. It looked like a motion sensor, but turned out to be a photo sensor. So I've got at least one night time lamp. I think I am going to add a switch based timer to the GC's list.

Tomorrow is set aside for contractor prep. I've been chipping away at that for a few days now and figure that will only turn out to be an hour or so - especially since I'll have help from my cousin. So seeing that I might have a little extra time I may try to power through the last 10 feet of garage storage, or maybe finish off the basement, or both.

I cannot express how much I need a break from this work. Two weeks is long enough.

To did:

  1. Met with the realtor to review the work list
  2. Called the respiratory clinic to try to find out where to dispose of some gear - they didn't have an answer for me
  3. Ran by the cardiologist to drop off a telemetry device
  4. Stopped at the nursery to try to find some replacement hedges - not sure if I found something or not
  5. Did the exterior lighting exercise
  6. Cleared away some bedroom contents
  7. Took down some shelves
  8. Boxed up the last of the files
  9. Cleared away more room contents - this was the last of the clothes, ties, I took a few
  10. Cleaned up and staged the room
  11. Did the sorting thing to the last boxes in the garage, from the downstairs shop and the bedroom
  12. Cleaned up the trash out back - the raccoons here are a different breed
  13. Loaded up the truck for a Goodwill trip
  14. Cleaned up and consolidated the garage - now have room for the car
  15. Did the Goodwill trip
and then upon my return cheered at the fact that the outside garage lights came on with the sensor.

There's quite a bit left to do before we can list the house or button up affairs, but I think I'm in good shape for the moment.

The Wall

I think today I hit the wall. This is day 9 without much of a break. I tired to take some time yesterday but failed, plus this was the first day on my own after several days with my sister. The first few hours today... just really very hard to get going.

First thing today, second estate lady called to tell me that actually she and her partner aren't interested. So all the angsting over having approached the thing wrong was probably a waste and we're right back in the road we were in before my meeting yesterday. I guess you could look at that as half full or half empty.

Based on my coarse to do list from yesterday, today was supposed to be the remaining bedroom. That's the room that my dad had pretty much used for everything, it was a bedroom and an office. I wouldn't be surprised to find out he ate meals there too. Basically it was a one room apartment in the middle of a 1600 sq ft house. Because of this it is maybe the densest room in the house in terms of content. The other day my cousin and I took a run at it and made a good start but had to stop because there was just too much that needed to be looked at carefully and it just bogged down to a halt. That happened again today and I wound up going at the room three separate times with other things sandwiched in when I couldn't press on. As a result I still am not done in there, but I did make some headroom in other places too.

I also can't stress how important it is to not go too fast. Today I found cash in sealed envelopes amongst unused office supplies. Would have been real easy for that to have wound up in the trash.

So that room was maybe 50% before, now I think I'm up to about 85%.

To did:

  1. phone with the estate lady, she won't be working with us
  2. phone with the attorney, set up an appointment later in the day
  3. called the trash people for another "special"
  4. called one of Dad's doctor offices to try to figure out what to do with his defibrillator telemetry device
  5. session one clearing in the bedroom
  6. processed what was left on the sorting table in the garage
  7. set out what garbage I could find in the garage
  8. talked to the landscaper about watering - they declined
  9. session two in the bedroom
  10. met with the attorney, signed a bunch of stuff, asked shallow questions
  11. extended the car insurance for one month
  12. emptied all the garbage in the house
  13. session three in the bedroom
  14. moved all the non-can garbage out to the curb (I had some help)
  15. met with the GC to get and give final instructions for the rehab
  16. bagged up most of the food that was left in the fridges, put it out in the trash
  17. started moving some of the items out of the work areas
  18. went to Home Depot for sensors and timers
  19. set up a couple of timers
I think I did pretty well considering how I was a angsty mess at the top of the day. I think I may still be on the schedule I started with, although the schedule after the weekend may be in motion. Just have to see.

Wow, a whole day without going to Goodwill!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stick a Fork in Me

I think I'm done. Which isn't to say that the work is done, but more so just to indicate that I am just flat out of gas. I tried to take today off, but I failed. I shouldn't have even slowed down as I feel it'll be that much harder to get up to speed.

To did:

  1. emailed the realtor to try to set up a meeting tomorrow
  2. emailed the GC to try to set up a meeting for Thursday
  3. Ran some papers by the investment broker
  4. met with the second estate person
  5. phoned the lawn service and left a message
  6. ran a load of books to the library
  7. took some things to shred to Office Depot
  8. phoned the attorney - I think we set a meeting for tomorrow
  9. phoned a real estate appraiser and set an appointment for Friday
I also did the taxi thing to the airport in the morning and watered the gardens.

The meeting with the estate person was interesting. She told me to stop donating things. A little bit I think this was a conversation that would have better been had two weeks ago. But also as much as I think that I also think we still would have had to have done most of the work we have just to have gotten out from under everything. So we learn that there are several flavors of estate people and they all do different things... and it's probably worth about a dozen calls fairly early on.

As time is elapsing to the next haitus I actually feel like I can see a list, although its a fairly sucky list:

Wednesday - Bedroom
Thursday - Garage
Friday - Contractor prep

I wouldn't give that plan a very high grade in my class, but it's what I've got.

Change the Goal and Declare Victory

Today was the second big push day, or at least it was supposed to be. I have to tell you I can't even tell anymore if we're getting anyplace. I mean, I know that 2 of three bedrooms are complete, both bathrooms are complete, the living room is 90%, the dining room is 90%, the kitchen is 90%, the basement is 80%, and the third bedroom is 50%. The family room and the garage are a different story.

Actually the garage *might* be fairly far along too, it's just too hard to tell. If there was a clockface on the roof with 12:00 pointing down the driveway, then I have done all the way to 9:00, so that would be 75%. Except that the middle of the space is choked with other crap.

In the face of all the work left to do today we moved the goalpost some and decided that anything that counted toward "memorabilia" we would leave until after the contractors do their work. That let my sister go tomorrow without feeling like she's leaving me underwater as well as (almost) giving me a list for the near term. I need to finish the third bedroom, finish the garage, and get the place ready for the crew before Monday.

If I do that, I can take a week off ( to go back to work :-/ )

Today's biggest kryptonite was a box of Niles West yearbooks from my Dad's first several years of teaching. He must have gotten a book each year and his students signed it like I remember signing other kids yearbooks in High School. Right, we'll put that right in the trash... not.

I did feel today already like I was throwing away my Dad's life work. Binder after binder of lesson outlines and transparencies into trash bags. I've been cross that nobody wanted them, but after looking more closely I understand why. The outlines are dated, nobody uses overheads anymore, everything would have to be updated and scanned - it'd be a full time job for quite a while. Still, it was an interesting reality check as a teacher. My lesson plans are nowhere as fleshed out as my Dad's were. Something to strive for I guess.

To did:

  1. Called the accountant.
  2. Made up some boxes
  3. Ran another load of books to the library.
  4. More moving/sorting/saving/purging.
  5. Set up an appointment with another estate person, I'm probably wasting her time.
  6. Went to the bank to wind up something actually related to my Mom.
  7. (I didn't do it but) Jess took some pieces to a consignment store.
  8. Consolidated some of my "save" items.
  9. Boxed up some papers for storage.
  10. Made a run to Goodwill - I was hoping to skip this today, but there was bulky stuff in my way again.
  11. Started to break down some of the sorting operation in the garage.
  12. Consolidated memorabilia items for later sorting.
Jess really pushed hard to the end of her trip. I hope I can kick as hard for the rest of the week.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Push Day

Today was going to be the big push. All in all I'm sure a lot got done, but I am beginning to see that this is the sort of thing that never seems to move (and then hopefully it ends). My sister says she's amazed at how much we've accomplished, but I'm afraid that the TD in me feels the remaining items much more than whatever has gone before.

I'm also now much more aware of what I will call estate wrapping kryptonite. You can be merrily purging your way along through item after item doing the "keep, donate, trash" thing and then you open a box, or look in a file and SLAM - you stop dead. Old pictures, ancient paperwork, items from your past; these things with no predictability can stop you dead in your tracks, unable to move. It's not just happening to me, I've seen it in my sister and in my cousin. Some things that did that to me today: my CMU tuition bills ($12,000/yr), Dad's college notebooks, 40 years of teaching evaluations of my dad. It's stuff I'll never need, probably won't ever have a reason to look at, but that have this incredible gravity making them very very difficult to purge. Jury's still out, but I bet a bunch of them wind up in a box someplace.

To did:

  1. Email to the GC - he does use email - set up a meeting.
  2. Phone call with the Estate lady - set a meeting.
  3. Made up some boxes, this is an everyday activity I think.
  4. Boxed a ton of books I was hoping a teacher buddy of my Dad's would take. He didn't.
  5. Loaded a ton of other books into my truck for a trip to the library.
  6. Did the sort thing on a bunch of stuff that came up from the basement.
  7. Did the library trip - that was less than.
  8. Met up with the GC and signed for the work, made a deposit.
  9. Surprise meet up with the investment person - she was in the neighborhood.
  10. Skipped out on a meeting with the estate lady, Jessica handled it. Looks like we won't have an estate sale.
  11. Did my daily trip to Goodwill. TIP: Goodwill is a good place to get free boxes (seems ok if I'm just bringing them back the next day).
  12. Emailed the accountant.
Tomorrow is push day two. I hope at the end of that it feels like we're further along. I can't properly convey the feeling, but at the end of each day, when we recompose the garage so it will close, every day it looks like we're no closer; even though I know we must be.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's Not the Heat...

... it's the house full of 45 years of stuff.

Are you a fan of George Carlin? The last few days I have been living the line: "Did you ever notice that your shit is stuff and their stuff is shit?" We have a couple of rooms right now that look like we're candidates for the TV show Hoarders.

It rained all night last night and kept me up. I think I fell asleep just before five am. Made for a rough morning.

The "To-Did":

  1. Email to the attorney
  2. Emailed a family friend about disposal of prescription drugs
  3. Email to the GC. I think it's likely he doesn't really use email, but it was on his card so I thought I would try. I looked through his bid and although the price keeps going up, he missed two items on my list. I let him know.
  4. Went to pay a bill I've been carrying around for two weeks.
  5. Went to buy more Banker's boxes. As it turns out, if you buy Banker's boxes at Staples, 10 at a time, they don't cost all that much more than other boxes. I bought them because I've decided to just transfer the contents of the file cabinets and take everything rather than go through it now. Maybe I'll do it some day I'm snowed in back in Pittsburgh.
  6. Spent some time breaking down trash and moving it to the curb for a pickup at the end of next week. I hope my neighbors don't wind up hating me. Because of this item, BTW, I would up spending the whole day with plexi-shards in my shirt.
  7. Consolidated items in the garage to make room for "sort-and-purge" operations.
  8. Made up a bunch of boxes.
  9. Cleaned up a small disaster in the basement.
  10. Sorted through, I kid you not, maybe 500 books. Probably about 450 of them are going to the HP Library tomorrow, I hope.
  11. Made what is I think becoming a daily run to Goodwill. Did you know Goodwill has an online receipt generator?
  12. Put together one bag of trash from the items that appeared while I was on the road.
  13. Arranged a play-date with one of my Dad's former colleagues. He's coming tomorrow to pick up teaching materials.
  14. One more email to the attorney.
It feels like the next two days are going to be critical. Tomorrow seems like it might be the absolute biggest single push. If you are in town and can come help - tomorrow (Sunday) is the day. It looks like my sister and her family are going to head East on Tuesday, I think.

There haven't been any pictures so far. Really it never feels like there's much that merits photographing. But just so you can get a feel for the next two days, here's the family room:

which actually looks a little better today than it did yesterday. Then here's the garage:

which is daunting.

Here's a more spiritual photo to maybe give some of the other dimensions to this process:

When I was in maybe sixth grade my friend Carl and I became enamored with David Macaulay's "City." We made a replica city of Rome out of clay in my basement. Mostly is was just a model Colosseum and theatre - after that we sort of ran out of ideas and information. It was however possible to reach the ceiling from the table, which was plenty enough excuse for handprints.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Progress

The cavalry arrived today. My sister and her husband returned from a respite in Door County. Add to that a repeat visit from my cousin Sue and we had a fairly good team assembled. For a moment it felt like we were going about as fast as we possibly could without missing something.

I think we have a plan. I'm not sure how well we'll stick to it, but at least I can look at a calendar and have some idea what city I will be in. The first day of class is looming pretty large on the horizon and what with all that's going on it sure would be nice to find a few days on a beach or a pool before that happens.

There was a comment about my "to do" lists. Really these are more like "to-did" lists. That's been the toughest part from a project management standpoint, I don't really have a to-do list. I mean, the house is like a giant 3-D to do list but beyond that... organization is not the strong suit of this project.

And yet, progress happens.

Like today:

  1. Went to the self storage and bought some boxes. I am still trying to come up with recycled boxes for giveaways, but we've finally gotten to the point where it makes sense to start packing some of what we're keeping.
  2. Assembled said boxes.
  3. Called two estate liquidator people. I'm having trouble figuring out how to deal with some of the flotsam. There's this class of stuff that doesn't fit into "take" or "trash" or "give away." I think the column it goes under is "sell," but I'm not sure how that works.
  4. With the whole group powered through a bunch of sorting, sending another carload out with my cousin. This was pretty much the last of the clothes, the bulk of the stuff we cleared from the office yesterday, and even some of the backlog my sister created clearing bedrooms last week.
  5. Signed with the realtor. (does anyone know why that word always wants to be capitalized?)
  6. Talked to the GC. Every time I pick up the phone his bid goes up $500, but I had thought his first pass was low; so so far I'm not too cross.
  7. Reviewed the state of the paperwork with my sister, she'd done some work in that area while I was away.
  8. Made a run to Goodwill. There were some bulkier items that helped justify my driving here in my truck.
  9. Bought an external hard drive for the purpose of offloading the files on my Dad's computers. I bought one that isn't native for Macs. Might have to return it and try again.
  10. Spoke to the first of the estate people. She's going to come by and check out the situation, but from the call I am fairly sure we won't be working together. She does "Estate Sales" and I don't think that's really what we need - but we'll see.
  11. Wrote to the attorney. We're again creeping forward.
  12. Wrote to the investment manager.
  13. Reviewed the GC's bid. He dropped one item, but otherwise it looks like what he last told me (you know, the third time).
When I was doing some of that correspondence I finally opened my folder and found two things I should have done already, so maybe that's the start of the to do list.

We'll be here all weekend. If you're around and would like to stop by and say hello I'm sure we could come up with some kind of parting gift for you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Keepin On Keepin On

More of the same. It was really sticky out today. I tried to stay in the house. I forgot to say that yesterday amongst the other things I did I also watered the lawn. With the one sprinkler it took quite a while. I guess I am going to have to find someone to try to look after the yard and the gardens.

Also late last night I did a couple of emails. I started working on help with the car, and I kept after someone I am trying to get to help with dad's teaching materials.

Today my cousin Susan came over with lunch and then hung with me for the whole afternoon helping out. That was fantastic. Thanks Susan.

Here's today's lineup:

  1. Playdate with Dad's caretaker. She helped unload a bunch of odds and ends.
  2. Worked on my cloodgy blind repair. I don't like it.
  3. Kept after the trash people to make sure the "special" pickup got done.
  4. Moved all the clothes from the basement to the garage.
  5. Moved all the clothes from the bedroom to the garage.
  6. Sorted the clothes for donation.
  7. Finally located, pulled, and assembled the rest of the dining room table.
  8. Started the "out" for the room my dad was using as an office and a bedroom.
  9. Kept the process moving on the study materials.
I think maybe I'm 40% through that last bit. As the stuff gets smaller and smaller it gets more and more detailed and so takes longer and longer. After a while it's hard not to bog down.

The garage looks a little clearer than it did with all the stuff that left over the last two days, but it still has a lot of "to sort" items in it, and the Family Room... wow.

One of the things that's been bothering me is some of the art around the house. I really don't know what to do with 30 glass apples or a cabinet full of figurines. A family friend stopped by to say hello tonight and recommended I talk to an estate liquidator.

So now I have to find out about estate liquidators.

Should I be worried the GC didn;t call back today like he said he would? Let's just decide no.

What's a decent price for a small leather chair with footstool? (add that to the list of things I didn;t care about a week ago.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday's Progress

I guess today wasn't as productive as I'd hoped it would be. On the other hand somethings actually left the house today and that hadn't happened yesterday, so that gives today a leg up.

Today we did:

  1. Another email to the attorney. This still feels like it is creeping along, but except for my angst there doesn't seem to be a reason for it to do something other than creep.
  2. I bought some supplies: contractor bags, a few more file boxes, some stupid crap to make a repair my dad did a little less cloodgy.
  3. I put out the stuff from last weeks clean out out for the trash guys.
  4. I did a sweep of the garage for obvious trash and put it out with the other trash since I was already getting a "special pickup."
  5. Set up the TV in my folk's room so I can watch Mad Men this weekend on the big screen.
  6. Met with the contractor and doled out my to do list. If he sticks to what he told me today his price and his calendar are both good for me. Fingers crossed.
  7. I made a playdate with my cousin for tomorrow. She's going to bring lunch and boxes. I think I need boxes and I'm not thinking I should pay for them. If you have boxes and can hook me up, let me know.
  8. I had today's playdate. A family friend carted off a bunch of stuff for herself, her kids, and her church. It was nice to have the space.
  9. I made another playdate for tomorrow with my dad's former caretaker. Hopefully she'll cart of a good chunk too.
  10. I called the HP Library to see if they would take a book donation, they will.
  11. I called and then emailed the HP Historical Society to see if they would maybe take some of the Eileen/Apple Tree artifacts.
  12. I looked up a few charitable donation places online to see about pickups.
  13. I started the de-cloodging of the curtain in my sister's room. Looks better - anything would look better than a couple of c-clamps. But it still needs work.
Some of yesterday's angst has dissipated. I think I might be back to a world that has me back home for a wile not too far in the future, although I think there will still be another trip before things are wrapped up.

Also, while moving the trash I put a nice gash in the palm of my left hand. Does anyone know if you can get tetanus from Plexiglass?

My Latest Project

I am back in Chicago again. There's a house and its contents and a car and a thousand other details to deal with. Talking about it probably won't be entertaining, but it might help me keep my head straight. Plus there's the chance that this will help someone else who has to go through this in the future - or maybe someone reading will be able to help me not miss something.

As a career project manager working in a new area without a list - I'm not a happy camper. I've tried to find a list that applies but I haven't found one. It's possible I haven't looked very well.

So what did I do today?

  1. Met with the third realtor. It wasn't the happiest meeting. My folks should have sold this house in 2006.
  2. I think I finished clearing out my sister's room. It's the room I am staying in and I really needed a clutter free room to base from.
  3. I called for a "special" trash pickup. That means they'll do more then empty the cans. It doesn't mean I don't have to take the debris to the curb. Bummer.
  4. I moved all the books out of my room. That's the room Dad has been using. It's pretty thick. We have a lot of books to liquidate. Since my last Half Price Books adventure I've soured on them some. So these likely wind up with the library or Goodwill, maybe the Brandeis people if I can figure that out.
  5. I called a family friend who is supposedly taking a bunch of castoff furniture and just stuff. If she can get some stuff off my hands I might have some room to start gathering my own saved items. Maybe.
  6. I unpacked my stuff so I won't be living out of my bags. If I am going to be here more than two weeks that's probably important.
  7. I looked through the benefit information from my Dad's pension. I need some paperwork I don't have yet.
  8. I took down all the photos in the hallway and struck the hangars. We've been going back and forth on painting that space for staging. Today I am thinking probably yes. (Hey so there's an item for a list).
  9. I watered the garden, well some of the garden. And I retied the tomato plants that were falling over.
  10. I emailed the attorney. The lawyer end of the thing has been real loose so far and I think I want to tighten it up some.
Oh yeah and I angsted, worried, panicked, bemoaned and some other things.

And really, it was a fairly light day. Maybe tomorrow I will actually get something done.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


  • 12:44 Check check check #
  • 17:09 Behind the Scenes - Carnegie Mellon University: via @addthis #
  • 18:07 @aerdin good recruiting? #
  • 22:37 @aerdin pretty much all press is recruiting or development #
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Front Page

Today PTM made the front page of CMU's website!


  • 11:00 RT @CarnegieMellCFA: Alana Clapp (A '10), past PTM major in the School of Drama, featured on CMU homepage: #
  • 11:06 Prekie Tech Production - Rigging Engineering Considerations #
  • 14:34 Prekie Drafting - Orthographic Multiview #
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Drafting Class

My summer class made me a condolence card:


  • 16:28 office #
  • 19:48 @giantspatula @rachelyra Have you two met? You should. #
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Monday, July 12, 2010


  • 12:51 Sign's up. Guess it's for real. #
  • 19:12 anyone aware of a way 2 migrate photos from 1 sit 2 another? AOL put all of my photos on Photoworks & I'd rather they B at Picasa or Flickr #
  • 19:22 Is there any reason to maintain my LinkedIn account? #
  • 22:31 @jkrall Marisa was just saying there should be something like FanGo for the turnpike. Picks the next rest stop, gives choices, preorders... #
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Remembering Gerald "Jerry" Boevers

Cory Franklin read this at the memorial. I've copied the entire text in case the Trib link is ephemeral. Why Good Teachers Matter

I recently received an e-mail from an unfamiliar address. It wasn't spam; the adult children of my old high school American history teacher were notifying his e-mail contacts of his death. Long retired, he'd been strolling through his yard on a beautiful afternoon, admiring his garden when he died suddenly (just like Marlon Brando in "The Godfather"). It has been 40 years since I was in his class but at that moment, when I got that e-mail, it felt like yesterday.

He was given the unenviable task of teaching American history from the American Revolution through the Korean War, a mission he assumed with seemingly bemused detachment. His approach was ostensibly workmanlike — you must learn this; that will be on the exam. He gave few exams, something we appreciated for the wrong reason. To him, tests were an irritant and a distraction from teaching. Grades, so important to us, concerned him very little.

But beneath the bemused detachment was a hidden passion for teaching history. Occasionally, the passion would reveal itself as he discoursed brilliantly on Jefferson, Adams or Lincoln, only to have it pass unnoticed in a sea of uncomprehending faces.

I recall the inevitable ritual when someone in class, sometimes me, would utter some inane remark offending his pedagogic sensibilities. He would run his palm across his face in mortification, shake his head ruefully and mutter incoherently under his breath. At those moments I imagined him envisioning himself at some distant, bucolic liberal arts college, teaching history to eager undergraduates. But, invariably, he'd shrug off the idiocy. Undaunted, he'd resume his efforts to describe the Battle of Antietam to us. At year's end, when we'd finished with the Korean conflict, his admiration for Harry S. Truman stayed with me.

This all occurred during the height of the Vietnam War and despite the teach-ins, sit-ins and anti-war rallies just outside his room, he never acknowledged them. Where other teachers, the "hip, cool" ones, jumped right in, he seemed oblivious to the fashionable teaching trend. As students, we demanded "relevance." He simply taught, and we mistook his attitude for indifference about global injustice. He just wasn't "with it."

Yet, ironically, a hint of subversiveness was in him. If you paid close attention, you'd notice some brief, barely noticed aside about the idiots, his superiors, who created the "dumbed down" curriculum. Most of those comments breezed right by us. In retrospect, he, not the hip teachers, was the genuine iconoclast.

Decades later, he contacted me out of the blue to discuss a newspaper piece I'd written on a subject he'd once taught. We went out for a beer, no longer teacher talking to student but more as equals. Or so I thought. It turned out he was still teaching me.

He admitted the moments of teaching exasperation were many, while those of gratification were fewer and further between. But the gratifying ones were worth the exasperation — and then some. He recalled students' names from five decades of teaching. Some were familiar, but most I'd never heard — my year was one of 40. Like Mr. Chips in the famous English novel, "Where had they all gone to; those threads he had once held together, how far they had scattered, some to break, others to weave unknown patterns."

I asked about the Vietnam War, why he studiously avoided mentioning it in class. I told him many students were disappointed he didn't express his opinions, or more accurately, the opinions we wanted him to have. He was, in fact, quite erudite about Vietnam. But he felt it wasn't his job to insert his political views into a class teaching a coherent story of American history, not contemporary events. It would inflame passions unnecessarily and could only get in the way of what students should be learning. Anyway, who could say at that point how history would judge those contemporary events? Better to let the whole thing gain perspective. Those interested would learn the facts and lessons in due time.

What we students took for his indifference in high school, I realize now, was instead a higher and more rare form of wisdom. Watching today's high school and college teachers gratuitously inject their unsolicited and often uninformed political sentiments into every "themed" lesson plan from the Roman Empire to Chinese dynasties makes one long for his old-school approach.

For old time's sake, I asked him about Harry Truman. He didn't disappoint. He nodded and laconically toasted the Missouri haberdasher. "Good man." The same could be said about him. After that I saw him several times, not as often as I would have liked.

The deaths of your high school teachers, like those of your parents, signify an ominous milestone in your own life. When they begin dying, the conductor is telling you your train stop approaches. I thought about that, of course; it's impossible not to. But those thoughts were eclipsed quickly by memories of the enjoyable and fulfilling trip traveling beside him on that metaphorical train.

A toast to Harry S. Truman and Mr. Gerald "Jerry" Boevers, two good men.


  • 21:41 Mad Mex. Hoping for no unexpected calls this time. #
  • 21:44 Dan Gilbert, owner of Cavs AND lowers price of LeBron Fathead to $17.41, the year Benedict Arnold was born. (via @tcschwa) #
  • 21:47 Oh. My. God. And has it already started? Mankind finally fucked up real, real good. (via @ebertchicago) #
  • 23:23 Planning to try to get back to everyone soon. Thanks for all the good wishes. #
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Saturday, July 10, 2010


  • 10:42 Starting to wonder what's next. #
  • 10:43 Building stairs? Make sure tread width is actually big enough for average adult shoe. Actress's in heels will thank you (via @backstagejobs) #
  • 10:44 Listening to a ballad by Tom Waits is like having an intervention directed by Bertold Brecht and David Lynch. (via @mattigray) #
  • 17:48 Retained an attorney #
  • 20:19 Ice cream #
  • 23:31 @bpeoples to help with the estate stuff #
  • 23:33 RT @CarnegieMellCFA: Emmy noms in act/art direction 4 alums Ted Danson, John Shaffner, Ann Shea, Bernard Vyzga, John Shaffner & Joe Stewart! #
  • 00:06 I am in desperate need of an Inbox Zero exercise. #
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Thursday, July 08, 2010


  • 11:56 RT @thesulk If I were 2% different as a person, I'd play frisbee all the time. (via @SarahKSilverman) #
  • 13:22 Line at Michael's is LONG. Suggestions? #
  • 13:24 Text of the eulogy is on my blog page. #
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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

What Don Said

June 6, 2010
Dear Jerry…

You are indeed a man of many contrasts.

Your rugged, craggy face and solid appearance would lead many to overlook the kind and giving nature of your heart and the gentleness of your soul. Your lone arrival on my doorstep when you had learned of my father’s death still touches me, as I recall you saying, “I just wanted to be here”. … (as we, today, just want to be here.)

I have delighted in your fondness for, and your stories about, wandering the more isolated blue highways and back roads, seeking contemporary history in the coffee shops of rural towns. Certainly, you have allowed your many students to see the world through your keen observations of both our culture and our history. Your curiosity about people and life was indeed a gift to be shared, perhaps by living the moment with others or by conveying the discoveries in your lesson plans at Niles West or in your ISU consultations with less experienced teachers.

The losses you experienced after retiring from Niles West and later being physically unable to continue consulting for ISU were not nearly as abysmal as suffering the loss of Eileen a year and a half ago. The pain of grief and some of the physical pain you endured over these last years were now abating. Hope for sharing more of your life with your children and grandchild was now becoming a reality.

Whenever we have talked with each other recently, you have indicated in some fashion the great love you felt for your family and their many significant abilities and achievements. You shared your joy in, and respect for, David’s intellect and humor. You shared the delight you felt in the astute sensitivity Marissa possesses and in being part of David’s life. Often, you spoke of the tears of joy, love, and awe that you shed at Jessica’s performances, and of your trust and confidence in, and deep appreciation for Matt as a son-in-law, husband, and father. You frequently admired the “can-do” abilities and intelligence of all your children. Just a month ago, when Jess and Easton visited you, you glowed with delight and pride, experiencing Easton as a continuation of the love you and Eileen shared.

My fond memories of you drift to the evening we observed the myriad pastel hues of an Ellison Bay WI sunset, both of us appreciating the Artist’s gift, as the sky and horizon were filled with reflections of soft colors in the water. Later, was it months or years later, we shared fearsome sailing while being overtaken by a raging, squall line with gale winds in Death’s Door (the literal name and the figurative description). The windless, blue waters were rapidly and relentlessly roiled and tossed into a turbulent, white line extending across the Door. Not only were green clouds directly above the white, but also purple and black clouds layered upon the green, followed by howling winds and torrential downpour. The gentle artist of the sunset had become, in this noon hour, a raging vanGogh. Both seascapes were exquisite, one peacefully calming and the other unforgettably terrifying. You appreciated both, the pastel sunsets and the raging water. Months later you spoke of being intent upon returning to Death’s Door to see if the crossing could be made with less awesome fury and, hopefully, with elation.

You opened Death’s Door in your own way, in your lush garden, filled with hostas, ostrich ferns, vegetables, birdhouses and perhaps the promise of eternal spring .

You are indeed a rarity: a man who appreciated peacefulness, yet found excitement in living on the edge; a man who enjoyed aloneness, yet sought companionship. Perhaps I have lost a brother. Thanks for having been here with me, and with us all.

With love and respect,



  • 10:01 Off to Dad's service. #
  • 19:53 Thanks to everyone who came out today. #
  • 23:40 Long day for me. Thanx again to everyone that came out. If you want to but couldn't today, we're receiving guests again Wednesday after 5pm #
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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

What I Said Today

There are many things to admire about my father. If you’d observed him lately those things have been difficult to see. The last two years for my father have been dismal. The loss of his wife, my mother, and the steady decline of his own health had really held him back from being the man he had always been. Actually, my own observation had been that recently he’d turned a corner and at least in his head was back on a more even keel. He had started to think about what his life was going to carry on to be, he’d taken joy in meeting and playing with his grandson Easton; he’d gotten himself out into some activity around town, and after a multi-year hiatus had gotten back to tending his garden. In the end though years and years of less fortunate health decisions caused his body to be unable to meet the new challenge of his improving attitude, and just a few days ago while working in his yard he left us forever.

But that was just the end, not even the last chapter; more like a note on the inside back cover of his life. The rest of the story was quite different showing a man who was a great educator, a skilled craftsman, and a loving father.

My dad worked at the same job for 40 years. In the last 20 years I have had 9 jobs and have lived in four states. It’s difficult to imagine the sticktuitiveness required to stay with something so long and the ingenuity required to keep work fresh year after year. My earliest memories of my dad as a teacher were going with him to basketball and football games at Niles West, or puttering around for hour after hour in the Social Studies office playing with the ditto machine on a Saturday afternoon while my father prepared something for next week’s class. Sometimes when he’d bring home work to grade he would hand me his gradebook, point at two people and say “figure out what I have to do so that this guy passes and this guy doesn’t.” This is a problem I find myself with all the time on my own job now.

My father was an outlier in the implementation of technology in the classroom, film, video, laser, computers, he was always trying to get the next thing he could use. At one point it seemed like there was nothing he couldn’t tape at home and use at school. I remember him trying to figure out if there was some way he could integrate “Law & Order,” his new favorite show, into classroom instruction. He did. Year’s later, not to be outdone, I remember phoning up my dad to tell him that on that day I had shown my Production Planning class an episode of “Iron Chef.” As if to say “Top that!” I’m fairly sure given the opportunity he could have. As a teacher, my father touched the lives of thousands of students. At the time of his retirement he was just one year away from the possibility of having had three generations: a student, their son, and that son’s son pass through his classroom. His was an unheard of length of outstanding service from which many, many students benefited.

All along the time my father was hard at work at his vocation he also had a series of avocations that were to me equally impressive. First and foremost I think was the garden. I have memory of year after year of tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, strawberries and countless varieties of flowers. During the summer our activities always included trips to the nurseries and hours planting and weeding in the yard. This had been largely an activity of my youth, and had dropped off after a while – but then picked up again after my sister and I left home. I think in that case it was because the more of the yard he maintained as a garden, the less he would have to mow.

Dad had a college buddy named Gene Stockton, and Gene ran a business in Rosemont fabricating things from Plexiglass. Through that friendship my dad got access to a shop and to materials and gained access to a new creative sideline. There were napkin rings and candlesticks and picture frames and nameplates. PI became the new Saturday haunt for me. Dad taught me to use the pantograph so I could make dozens of useless signs for dozens of people that didn’t need them. This hobby also produced the first scenery for the Eileen Boevers Traveling Troupe, a high tech reconfigurable scenery system for the production of “Snow” and a very intricate sign and central plot point for the Percy Utley School for Girls in another. We always had to leave the shop as if we’d never been there and I can still hear in my head dad running down the list “gas is off, compressors off, lights are out, door is locked…”

Some of the picture frames from this era caught the eye of a local photographer Michael Metzger and that lead into the next avocation as dad spent countless hours doing custom framing and collages for Mike’s customers. If you live in Highland Park, even if you haven’t been to the house, you have almost certainly seen fruit of this collaboration. These projects reinvigorated a longtime love of photography for my father and suddenly every inch of the walls of our home were covered with family photos.

The most recent of these hobbies was creating glasses out of wine bottles. He’d even placed some pieces with local restaurants, and a youtube video of his process, as of last night, had over 81,000 hits. Though deep down I think these activities were always just something he loved to do for himself they have all had a profound effect on me and I am sure on many others as well.

Even more though than dad the craftsman or dad the educator was dad the dad. I had a great dad. My dad was tough and would occasionally lay down the law but also left me and my sister room for us to be ourselves and discover ourselves. He drove year after year to activity after activity. I think he spent long enough in the Soleil parking lot to get an honorary Bar Mitzvah. He came to concerts and shows and ferried to rehearsals and calls and drove and drove and drove and drove. We had multiple family vacations encompassing multiple states. I remember being at Antietam battlefield and getting the Civil War lesson on the spot “how can one man defeat 30 – well if they all have to come through the door one at a time…” I remember being at National Bridges in Utah and opening a guidebook box only to release an angry bee and having to run all the way back to the car. My formative years were a virtual travelogue of the United States, and pretty much all of it with him at the wheel. Special occasion or run of the mill my dad was always there for me no question – yet another remarkably long run of excellence.

More recently I had been seeing less and less of my father. Almost certainly that was on me. The world has moved on from a place where kids stay close to home. A little bit I feel about the last ten years the way a working parent must feel about the first few years of a child’s life “oh I’ve missed so much.” But I was living the life he’d worked so hard for me to have and even though he wasn’t there physically in my presence I always knew without a single doubt that he was there for me if I needed him and that he loved my unconditionally. So here we are, heading out one last time: gas is off, compressor’s off. Dad, thank you so much for all you gave to me. I will always love you and I will miss you more than I can say.


  • 22:06 Supposed to be writing a eulogy. Procrastinating. #
  • 23:49 ok, creative writing task complete #
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Monday, July 05, 2010


  • 11:14 Happy Birthday USA! #
  • 14:50 Deerfield family day. #
  • 15:08 It's complicated. Maybe not complicated, exactly, but... (via @ebertchicago) #
  • 18:41 nice when you shoot from the hip and hit the bullseye #
  • 23:19 blew off fireworks to go to the movies... and then wound up seeing three different displays on the way out #
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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Dad's Memorial Service

GERALD BOEVERS of Highland Park passed this Thursday from natural causes while working in his garden, he was 73. The epitome of “Teacher,” Jerry had a distinguished career as an educator and mentor for 40 years in the social studies department at Niles West High School and then at ISU. He survived his wife Eileen by just 18 months after losing her to cancer and is survived by his brother Bob, son David, daughter Jessica, and new grandson Easton.

A visitation will be held Tuesday July 6th from 10am until the time of memorial service at 11am at Kelly & Spalding Funeral Home 1787 Deerfield Road, Highland Park, IL. In lieu of flowers the family is requesting donations be directed to For funeral info or directions please call Kelly & Spalding Funeral Home at (847)-831-4260 or

The family will be receiving at the house in Highland Park Tuesday following the memorial service and Wednesday evening after 5pm.


  • 06:42 Up too early. #
  • 14:45 Filling at a BP #nochoiceturnpike #
  • 21:30 60035 #
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Friday, July 02, 2010


  • 10:49 July. Zoom. #
  • 15:37 Pasta ala MDF complete #
  • 15:52 @bpeoples @tcschwa there will be pasta pictures later - tomorrow maybe, on my page. It's likely not what you're thinking. #
  • 16:12 at some point I really do have to get to this email #
  • 17:14 If I uninstall and then reinstall iTunes on my PC will anything happen to my music files? Lost a .dll someplace and this is maybe the fix. #
  • 17:47 Cooking is carpentry: #
  • 21:25 Wow. So not ready for that. #
  • 23:51 Bed time. Right, like that's gonna happen. #
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Thursday, July 01, 2010

And Just Like That


Kevin Doesn't Have Facebook

So I guess I will have to put this here.


Getting things dialed in for tomorrow's workshop.

Felt all very Mythbustery.


  • 12:11 @bpeoples LOL "I'm on a bike" the first one was better, but this is good too. #
  • 17:07 @aerdin Sushi counter is closed during the summer. #
  • 19:53 "wiping with your shirt" should not be a reliable data recovery method. #
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