Friday, November 11, 2011

Flashback Friday--Veteran's Day

As you can see, I posted this in 2009--read to the end for the updated twist.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Always In Our Hearts

Blanche, Bob and Bruck (my dad)

Earlier this year, I had a very unique Google experience. My father, a WWII pilot, asked me to see if I could confirm the precise date on which his best friend had been killed during the war. Armed with just a name, I clicked on a link that took me to a page containing photographs of a cemetery. Specifically, a young man stood next to a cross. Knowing Google, I wasn’t sure of the significance−if any. There wasn’t a visible name on the cross and, at best, I figured a random American had taken the picture to honor the nameless dead.

I continued my search, but I kept going back to that page...until, suddenly, my mouse hovered in just the right place and I saw that the picture had a title−Robert B. Pfusch by Chris Yunker.

Still a random American?

Maybe not.

Somehow I contacted Mr. Yunker (via his flickr account, I think) and told him why I was writing. Sure enough, he replied immediately with the news that Robert B. Pfusch was his grandfather and that he would forward my email to his mother.

I was rather blown away since I’d assumed Mr. Pfusch had died without having children.

Soon, I had an email from Bobbie, the daughter who was born six months after her father was killed overseas. She asked if my father had known her dad well.

In reply, I wrote her a lengthy letter of what I knew, including the fact they’d been fraternity brothers back in North Dakota. When she read my response, she realized that my dad was the man in her parents’ wedding photograph−their best man. She said she cried throughout my letter.

What followed was a back-and-forth correspondence between two daughters of WWII vets−one who never knew her father and one who was exceedingly grateful to have had so many years with hers.

On this day that we honor our veterans, I’d like to pay special tribute to Robert B. Pfusch and the sacrifice he made so many years ago.

He is not forgotten.

Edited to Add:

Four months after I wrote and posted the above tribute to Bob Pfusch, I found myself having open heart surgery--to be specific, I had my aortic valve replaced. During my research prior to surgery, I got involved with a forum on a valve replacement website and, in particular, traded emails with a helpful young woman named Luana.

After surgery, I wasn't so quick to get back on the forum to report my success and good health, and Luana worried.

When I finally posted that all was well, she sent me the most amazing email.

Randy, she wrote, when you didn't post a progress report, I sent a prayer request to an on-line group I'm involved with. One of the participants wrote back asking if, by chance, this Randy's last name happened to be Bruskrud. Her name is Bobbie.

Yes, the paths of two veterans' daughters crossed again. This time, as one prayed for the other.

Small world, indeed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Rant Alert

Today's post ain't about neither writin' nor romance, so if that's why you're here, best to move on.

Ready? Set? Go!

Okay, people. WHY do big companies make it so friggin difficult to conduct the basic tasks of commerce now that we have the Internet?

Case in point: Exostar. This wonderful byproduct of the e-era (my new term since everything either has to have an e or an i before it these days) was ostensibly put in place to streamline the procurement process for companies like Boeing, Lockheed, and Raytheon.

But, seriously? How come it takes forever to create a simple invoice? And how come I have to tell the Boeing buyer that she has to input her purchase order CORRECTLY before we can create that simple invoice? (And how come I haven't heard back from her since I did that?) So...and this is just a small example, we have yet to be paid for a $9,000 invoice from last August.

Moving on to Boeing. Hey, Boeing...thanks for letting us have milestone payments on that big job. Sure would have been nice if you'd actually PAID them as we went along (y' keeping with the whole concept of MILESTONES). Silly us for heeding the instructions on the Purchase Order which said to invoice that snail mail address in Seattle. No wonder you haven't paid ANY OF THEM since June. My bad!

And while we're on the subject of Boeing, thanks for that 12-pages of instructions on how to invoice through your Boeing portal (which requires not one but TWO usernames, TWO passwords, TWO separate accounts). checking...but isn't that what Exostar is for? Are you saying we have to invoice in two places?

Because we will, if that's what you want...cuz, after all, YOU'RE the CUSTOMER and the CUSTOMER'S ALWAYS RIGHT.

We don't even mind that your payment terms are NET 60 because we understand that with this new STREAMLINED system, it's hard for you to pay for stuff that used to take you NET 10 in 1975. (And at least you're not the slowpoke of companies--that award goes to Honeywell who needs 75 days to process an invoice.)

Don't get me wrong, we love this whole new world of electronic procurement on Exostar. We love it so much we actually PAY THE BILL for doing business with you. Yes, that's right. We pay about $500 a year for the CONVENIENCE of receiving your purchase orders and issuing our invoices.

It's all working out so well, isn't it?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Flashback Friday--NaNo of Yore

Hey, since it's that time of year (and yes, I AM doing NaNo), I'm flingin' a NaNo post from 2006. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

NaNo Week Two

Okay, clearly, the NaNo guys aren't mathematicians, 'cuz that widget thingy I imported ain't working right. Here I was merrily typing along, admittedly smug, and relying on the widget thingy for accuracy--I thought I was staying ahead of the game. But, nooooooo. If you do the calculations, I'm apparently consistently BEHIND.

Permit me to do it for you:

I need to average 1666 words a day to reach 50,000 in thirty days. Today is the ninth day so by tonight I should be at 14,994 if I wanna stay on track. But it already shows me in the plus column! Which, like I say, ain't right. In fact, I have to write roughly 2774 words to catch up.

Yikes. You know how many manuscript pages that translates to??? Well, I'll tell ya. It translates to roughly eleven. CURSE the guy (or girl) who came up with whatever formula's behind that widget thingy.

In other NaNo news, today I'd like to discuss the main drawback to performing this exercise. See, for my money, balls-out writing fosters lazy writing. And man, I'm doing a ton of it. In some cases, I don't worry--like if I'm rolling along and run into a blank for a good metaphor, I just type a long underline and move on. Or, say I encounter a new character and need a name--I grab the first one that comes to mind. That's the kind of stuff that's easy to fill in or change later. But other stuff--like all those "was" sentences...they make me nervous. Once I write something, I have a helluva time imagining it written another way. Well, that's not entirely true. I can re-work it, re-structure it--but in doing so, I run the risk of forcing it into something awkward. Hate when that happens. If you'll remember a post from a couple weeks ago, I can spend an hour on one sentence, so the prospect of of spending an hour on each sentence of the manuscript makes me queasy as hell.'s nice to think that at the end of the month, I'll have a pretty good grasp of the story. Not the entire book of course, because even after 50,000 words, there will still be about another 30,000 to write. (How depressing is that?)

I keep reminding myself that, according to legend, Lani Diane Rich wrote a NaNo novel, spent a year editing it, then voila: "Time Off For Good Behavior" and a Rita Award.

Yep, it could happen to me.