Friday, October 12, 2012

Dad's Eulogy + 5 Years

A more recent note - This is out of charater and topic for this blog, but is to honor the 5th anniversary of the passing of my dad, without who's influence I would not be who/where I am, and this blog would therefore not exist! I moved this from the original blog location on Myspace to this blog primarily because I do not know how long Myspace will continue to be around - like most things, it will see its end of days. A reminder to appreciate who we have and what we have when we have them, not just in memory of.

A quick note (Oct 19, 2007) - The eulogy was partially written when given and I added here some of the more spontaneous phrases used. Sometimes the tonality is as important as the words themselves. I am considering making an audio vers of this if anyone is interested...let me know. Before you read this, please say a prayer for My dad.

"I want to thank those here for their well wishes and condolences, especially those who drove a long distance or took off work to be here today. I am honored by this opportunity to speak about my father on behalf of our immediate family though members of the family might have specific remembrances to add.

On the way over here I asked Anne and the kids if I should do the radio edited version of this eulogy or the uncensored version. Pj, my 10 year old said "AAAAAAAAwwwww shit dad, you know grand pap would want the adult version." (Actually PJ has never used that word in his life!). I had to agree that dad never pulled punches and that everything was the adult version!

He passed two mornings ago, quietly, and mercifully after he fought for 10 months against cancer that was to take him in 3-6. His fight against cancer was much like his life. By many measures successful. Unconventional. Taking great delight in surprising everyone. I will not take this time to talk about how the man died though but rather how he lived.

An anonymous leader once said
"Perfection is the death of creativity
Creativity is the seed of all growth and evolution"
Dad was not a perfectionist but definitely wanted to see things better than they were, even if they had to be broken first.

Dad was the classic contrarian. Smart and determined enough to show that things could be done differently, those close to him wonder if his purpose in life wasn't just to drive them bananas. Yet really his desire to take life and make it something different and unique is what will endure for me. He approached each new project and idea with a passion that allowed him to be what others weren't...I mean he DID last 36 years with my mother!

He was a teacher.
By example he taught Jerry, Gail and me how to work hard for what we wanted.

He taught us to compete. For me, he taught me how to play chess, and in doing so not simply to do what it took to win, but to revel in doing the unexpected. When at a pivotal place in a game he would mutter something like "let's see what happens if I do this…" He enjoyed the surprise sometimes as much as he enjoyed winning.

He taught many of us here how to drive and then proceeded to not let us use the family car for months or years – his way of teaching us that driving was a privilege not a right, and patience and responsibility. We also noticed he talked to many fellow drivers, from the car, as they were driving as well. I don't think most heard him when he told them to get out of the way, of cmon buddy, and other more flowery language. From the Jerry Keeney School we all learned: "Do as I say not as I do!"

He taught us that no job was too small for us to do. And not just do but be responsible for. Just ask my wife who tried to do dishes every once in a while, and learned either to do them right or not at all – she is still getting her full hearing back after being taught loudly a couple times.

He taught us perspective on life…in a way even we could understand. Simple phrases like when faced with a challenge, he would tell us "they can't eat you!" helped put some temporary challenges in perspective. There were times and days then he spent with many of us, making us feel that there was one guy who would always be on our back – and at our side at the same time. He also taught us not to be afraid to turn the TV up, especially during any movie or show about war, and really loud if it was a John Wayne movie.

He taught me to sleep AND guard a channel changer at the same time– I do not to this day understand the how to do it – just that it is necessary.

He taught us all that we were nuts for getting animals and that they were a pain in the anatomy. Yes this animal hater that captured squirrels and relocated them to better living spaces got his point across to his kids who have between them Duchess, two different Snuggles, Kitty, Nova, Baby, and Titi the 20 pound cat who's name I forgot. Oh and he was and from what I understand will be regularly visited by families of deer and an occasional black bear.

He taught us to be proud of who we were, are and who we are becoming. "Quit worrying about what other people think"! He taught us to focus on the important not the urgent – I remember coming home from college considering a change in Major and asking what he thought – his answer was "that Jodi girl has to go". (You had to know Jodi I suppose). Reminiscing yesterday he seemed insistent that dating or marrying his boss's daughter was a bad idea.

He taught us to burn the past quickly and decisively, that even though you might say something regrettable it will be forgotten quickly. Catherine my daughter and I both saw this when we drove through at different times with him. Just because he swore at the lady taking too much time in the drive thru, he know it was in fun and he forgot about it faster than you can say double cheeseburger.

His emotions were always there - with all the right words. He held back nothing and though 69 years of age is young these days, a day with him was like two with anyone else. If I could say one sentence to tell you of the man we all knew and loved, it would be that he was not a great man in terms of accomplishments and prestige, but more importantly he was an unconventionally, uncommonly good man.

In closing his phrases and quips live on forever:
"Don't get too happy"
"If a frog had wings it would bump its ass all the time"

"Awww shit Cookie"

There is a poem by Robert Frost, well known but often misinterpreted. People call it "The Road Less Traveled" yet that is not the name of the poem – in fact for us today the name is unimportant. It has been adopted and used many times for many things, yet I cannot think of a single time or place that it fits more than in remembering dad:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and he (My dad)
— he took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
We love you dad.

His favorite though he was not publically religious:
To Every Thing There is a Season - Ecclesiastes 3. 1-8

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Data Collection and Analysis and Fantasy Football?

Football season = math season?
In a prior post I mentioned that my love for math and numbers began with a sports saturated childhood. I watched football, and easily learned the 3 and 7 tables of multiplication, since a field goal is 3 points and a touchdown followed by the usual extra point was worth 7. I even learned a bit of order of operations this way. If a team scored 2 field goals and 3 touchdowns, clearly the score was 2 x 3 + 3 x 7! In baseball, batting averages are expressed as decimals to the nearest hundreths place. Following my boyhood heros like Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell meant that the ability to divide a 3 digit number by another and computing a batting average was a must.

The world of sports has changed over 4 decades. I may be dating myself, but I recall the first, $100,000 a year baseball contract. In today's sports world, the nature of how people follow sports is much different, as is the arithmatic and algebra behind it. Consider fantasy football. In general, fantasy football is a game where you "own" several players at each scoring position, and a team's defense. Through a complex scoring system, you earn points each time they gain yards, score touchdowns, or kick field goals, as well as other more obscure events. It is a mathematicians paradise where every metric is open to interpretation, and every actual event is sometimes agonizing! Thus, the casual football fan becomes a practical mathematician.

After week 1 of the football season, people are looking at their teams and plotting strategy for the weeks and months to come. How many times should I expect a certain running back to get the ball? Will this wide reciever do better or worse this weekend since the defense they are facing is tougher? Notice that weekly, this is about hypothesizing, and then testing a series of hypotheses. If you are more correct than your opponent, in general you win! Ultimately, this is as much a mathematics test as it is a game requiring significant sports knowledge.

As weeks move along, I hope to post a bit more about fantasy football. I will tell you that I am in two leagues and I won in one league, and lost in the other. Oddly enough, I beat my wife who has little, formal mathematics in her background, and list to a friend and coworker who has an MIT doctorate!. Tell me - what games do you play where math that is normally uninteresting becomes intriguiging? If you play a fantasy sport like football or basketball, how do you use math skills that you do not normally use, and do you ever stop and recognize the use of the scientific method in your game play? In any case, let's talk - and of course, let's use math and science to win! After all, they are more than classes in school - they are a key to understanding the world around us!

For a quick, interesting example of how someone has used math to enhance their fantasy football life, go to "The Minitab Blog"!