Rest in Peace, TheBrad

Brad Graham was an inspiration to me, as I’m sure he was to many bloggers who’ve been around for the long haul. He’s been on my bookmarks list forever, even though he hasn’t written regularly on his blog in a few years (I know the feeling). It’s a real shock to learn of Brad’s death that was reported today. His Facebook page, which he last updated New Year’s Eve, is now an outpouring of love, remembrances, and the grief of his friends.

Just a few days ago, I retweeted one his Twitter posts. It was just a quick yet clever observation that showed his abundant wit: “iSlate = is late.” It’s pretty damn funny if you’re a Mac fanboy (as Brad was), and I thought it was another of those “perfect Brad” tweets. Unfortunately, it was also one of his last.

For many years, Brad’s blog was always THE FIRST STOP on April Fools Days when you fired up your web browser, and he never failed to deliver a temporary re-branding that left the reader in stitches. We won’t get to break bread with Brad ever again, but going forward I’ll have a nip and a toast every April 1st to remember TheBrad.

Roots

Last July I traveled back to my parents’ place with Marlin as part of a long weekend where we visited friends in State College for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and then continued on to Clarion County where my dad’s family (Yeany) was having a family reunion. It’s been quite a few years since I attended a family reunion — it’s not a quick drive from Boston to central PA. But with the death of my grandfather last year (who was the last of 8 children in his family), I wanted to make better effort at remaining in touch with some of the extended family members.

We took a few side trips during the family reunion — a tour of my cousin’s boarding facilities for her kennel business, a tractor ride around the farm’s perimeter (photos here and here), and a visit to the cemetery. In this one small cemetery on a hill in village called Shannondale, I can visit the graves of my grandfather, great-grandfather, great(x3) grandfather, and great(x4) grandfather — whose original and replacement gravestones are pictured here.

I’m not sure about the grave location for great (x2) grandfather … I need to dig out my family tree and give dad or grandma a call to figure that one out.

The Diesel Devil

Through the entirety of fall 2009, one thing filled a lot of my spare time: waiting for a new car. After owning several vehicles I bought “off the lot” I was finally in a position to order something I wanted and wait for it to be built. In this case, it was quite a long wait — almost 10 weeks. I ordered it while the BMW factory was on it’s month-long August vacation, and it would be built in Germany, necessitating a very long shipping process. It’s a BMW 335d — the “d” stands for diesel. After nearly 2 months in this car, I could not be happier — and I wonder why diesel vehicles are not catching on more quickly in the US. This car is a “green” car in every sense of the word. Ultra-low emissions. High efficiency (I’ve been getting 31 to 38 mpg). And it sure is nice passing Priuses (sp?) at 75 mph knowing I’m getting better mileage than them, and doing it in a vehicle that could be doing 120 in a matter of seconds after I stomp on the accelerator.

And the color — green as well. Tasman green, to be exact, which is not one of BMW’s most popular, but I love it. Here are some pics I took the week after getting it back in early November. I originally posted these in an online BMW forum where I spent hours upon hours obsessing with the other fanboys (and a few girls), where the brand’s aficionados are very passionate (and helpful and fun). I detailed the car and picked a nice location for some late afternoon shots, which really brings out the best in the Tasman green. Unfortunately, without a garage it will be a few more months until it’s this clean again.

hungry bug

bug.jpg

The red lily beetle has quite the striking appearance, and this one had quite the appetite today. It didn’t mind sitting for a few closeups. Another photo is in my Flickr photostream. Enjoy the smorgasbord while it lasts, bug. Tomorrow I mix up the neem oil.