1991 Greater Extremes

14 10 2008

The original purpose of the tape is revealed as an exploration of computer technology used by people.  The ideas probably came from a 1983 essay I wrote at university about computers being tools.  It seems like a long time ago to be thinking about things like this.

1991 Greater Extremes

This one is only two minutes long.

1991 Tape – Being Alive

6 10 2008

As it turns out, most of the tape will survive on the web.  It is a small audience and it was a long time ago.

This section temporarily attempts to ask some big questions.  

1991 Being Alive

It is highly unlikely that any political candidate would put a tape like this on the web.  It would be likely to offend at least a few.  Luckily I will never run for office. :)

1991 Life Is What You Make It

2 10 2008

More from the 1991 tape mentioned in the previous two posts.

Life is what you make it

This section seems a bit advanced for the understanding I had at the time.  It would not be until 1999 that I really understood what this meant.

This one is only around 3 minutes long and 3MB in size.

1991 Grasshopper Philosophy

2 10 2008

Deep from the archives comes another segment from the 1991 tape.

This one is called the “Grasshopper Philosophy” and captures more of a environmental flavour.   It is fairly obvious that I was much younger then.  However, much of this still seems true to me even after nearly twenty years passing (okay, 17 really).

The segment is around 11 minutes long and 10MB in size so having broadband certainly will help.

Easier But Vulnerable

29 09 2008

Going through old stuff typically brings back memories.  Sometimes there are surprises.  Over time I have thrown away several audio tapes which didn’t have any value to me anymore.  I have enough stuff so I really don’t want to keep that which is not worth keeping.

To my surprise, I found a tape with a man speaking.  It was a very different style and for quite some time I couldn’t figure out where it had come from.  About half way through I realized it was me based on some references to Delray Beach.

Then I figured that it must have been around 1991 which is close to the time when I wasn’t watching any TV.  At some point I must have figured that it would be a good idea to start a tape.  It was also about this time that I was in IBM Showbiz Club plays and needed to practice speaking for longer times.  

In this case I spoke for an hour and a half on the tape.  I wrote over the first side of the tape but the second half is still intact.  It’s weird to listen to since so many things have changed since then.  However, certain messages came through.

This small clip reveals an insight into our drive for simplicity.

1991 Simpler but Vulnerable

The point is that the desire for making things easier also leads to depending (and being vulnerable) on the things which make it easier.  It comes back to the ancient phrase where a slave becomes a master.  This aspect of our lives becomes more and more true as the technology and energy needed to live our lives expands.

Initially I was considering putting the whole 45 minutes up here but have since decided that it is better to focus on the interesting bits.

Humboldt One Last Time

26 08 2008
Humboldt Diamond House

Humboldt Diamond House

This last June and July, there was an opportunity to return to America for a conference and a family holiday.  During that time, we travelled yet again to Humboldt, Minnesota.  We went there to see my Mom who was planning to stay up there for about a month.  We stayed for ten days and got a chance to capture some new memories, perhaps for the last time.

Grandma Diamond passed away in February and the house has been empty since then.  The idea was that in June, Mom would return to start the process of sorting and packing everything.  Eventually, the house will be listed on the market.  Until then, the process of preparing for a new owner will continue.

It’s sad really.  It’s something that happens all the time but somehow is always more immediate when it happens to you.  It is tempting to leave things as they are.  It seems a bit disrespectful to disrupt the work of a lifetime.  However, like all generations before, it has to be done.  There is a need to treat it much more organically and split up possessions to family members for the sake of future generations.  It is much more like nature to reclaim than to preserve.

On one of the first days there, I sat at the dining room table and looked around.  Slowly, I became sad as I realized that Grandma had built this great environment but could no longer enjoy it.  It was almost like part of her still lived in the house but the most important part was missing.

We went to the graveyard later to see where she was buried.  She was in a newer section of the Hallock cemetery but still had a temporary marker.  Apparently this is the custom for the first few months.  It made it that much more strong that she was really gone.  It has been hard to accept that she is no longer here.

Somehow I knew that only by visiting Humboldt would I finally realize that she had gone.  It gets easier each time I think about her life and wonderful she really was.

We were lucky enough to see Grandpa Diamond at the nursing home in Hallock.  He was in great spirits and was much more talkative than usual.  At first he didn’t recognize me but it didn’t take long to realize who I was.  He noticed my beard and mustache and said “Whiskers”.  Apparently he was never a big fan of facial hair and perhaps he was gently teasing me.  Ever since his stroke in 2003, he has had a great deal of difficulty communicating.  He tends to talk with his eyes and smiles.  Grandpa seems happy with where he is and loves receiving visitors.  He even got a chance to attend the Kittson county fair.  He’s a great man, even now.  When I first saw him again, it was really hard not to feel sad.  He had really enjoyed talking with people and he never wanted to end up in this situation.  Things have changed so much but he has re-adjusted.  It is just hard since I would love to have him as he was so that we could talk again.  As I might have explained before, he was always such a strong positive influence on my life.  He was certainly a role model.  Sometimes I wish I could be a bit more like he was, even now.  I don’t know honestly how he did it.

As has been explained before, Humboldt is not the hotbed of activity.  In fact, the town is slowly dieing.  It is somewhere around 50 people now compared to the 120 of my youth.  Slowly but surely, the houses are being torn down and buried.  Every time I have gone back, a few more houses are missing.  There is very little indication of it growing bigger again.  Northcote is not even counted as a town and it only has three houses still in operation at where the town used to be.  Hallock is still continuing but is not as strong as it once was.  Some form of hidden consolidation is taking place.  Most people prefer to live in bigger towns or cities.  More opportunities and things to do.  Most of my relatives in the area have scattered.  Very few have stayed close to Humboldt.  Really only my one Uncle and Aunt have stayed in Humboldt this whole time.  Another Uncle and Aunt are in Hallock with some cousins families residing in Lancaster.  There really isn’t enough work on the farm to justify the family staying close by.  Most of us are not farmers anyways.  Last I heard, it only takes about one farmer to keep one hundred people fed.  I suspect it is actually much higher than this.  It is probably something like one in five hundred.  This is keeping in mind that America exports a great deal of grain.  The point is that by using the latest machinery and technology (fertilizer and pest control), it does not take hardly any people.  Add to this the ability to process centrally with trucks and trains, very few people are needed.  It largely becomes an excercise in managing capital and energy.  It helps to have a big farm with experience.  Too small means that it is very hard to stay afloat.

Anyways, I always ponder why the town is shrinking.  The bottom line answer is that people just don’t stay because there is nothing there to do besides farming.  There is some hope working for the elevator or even the bus factory and potentially for customs but these job choices are fairly limited and in high demand.  Most likely people would work from Hallock or Pembina instead.  It really doesn’t look good for Humboldt in the long run.

Nature returns near Hallock

Nature returns near Hallock

We tried to find my Great Grandparents house on my Grandma’s side.  I couldn’t remember exactly where it was.  This one looked like it might be but now I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.  It does not really matter.  There are a number of houses being reclaimed by nature.  This one is fairly recent one.  The house still looks livable except for the fact that it is overgrown.  From the driveway you can tell that people still stop by but that it is not a common occurance.  Knowing that this used to be a family farm house can be a bit disturbing.  Perhaps that is the price of progress.  Without change, we would still be living a much simpler life.  We like things complicated as contrasted later in the trip when we drove through several Amish communities in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Sunset in Humboldt

Sunset in Humboldt

I was incredibly nostalgic when we visited Humboldt.  Without limits, I wanted to soak up what it was and what it is.  It is a hidden refuge, a placid timekeeper, a stabilize force.  It is my roots.  I did what I could.  I took more than 100 pictures in and around the house and tried my best to remember what it meant to be in Humboldt.  Hopefully that will be enough.

Now that my Grandparents are no longer in Humboldt and the house will potentially soon be gone, there is much less of a reason to go there.  There is still some family nearby.  However, things are not quite the same.  Another factor is remoteness.  If you are going to Humboldt, there really is not anything thing else on the way unless you are going to Canada.

Hallock Parade - 125 Years

Hallock Parade - 125 Years

On a lighter note, we were there for Hallock’s 125th birthday.  This happened at the same time as the fair and they had perhaps the longest parade I’ve ever seen a small town have.  The kids really enjoyed the show and loved people tossing out candies even more.  It is quite a novelty to chase down the goodies, hopefully not in front of the next parade participant.

Memories… store them up.  Consume them the rest of your life.  They get better with age.

The Funeral Service

25 04 2008

There are some things you never expect or want to happen.  When talking about loved ones, this includes many different things.  You want to protect them and you also want to spend lots of time with them.  As a kid, you just take everything for granted.  One year is a very long time.  Kids just don’t think of endings.  It takes lots of growing up to reach that understanding.

Adults take a different approach.  They tend to take things for granted even though they know things end.  It is typically that when it is too late that we appreciate how unique and special that person was.

I was in a slightly different category.  I appreciated my Grandmother very much but due to the huge distance between us I didn’t see her very often or for very long.  The last time was in 2005 for a few days.

Grandma (Helen Diamond) had cancer and her illness only lasted a few months.  It came quickly and she was able to be at home until the very end.  It was exactly the way she wanted it.

All her kids were with her in Humboldt.  Mom had been up there for a few weeks before taking care of her.  It was very difficult for everyone to handle what was happening.

The day I found out that Grandma had died was so rough.  Its a feeling like the floor isn’t there anymore.  The thoughts of memories with her and how much she had been a part of my life just overwhelmed me.  The part that seemed to hurt the most is that there was not going to be any more memories.

After she had died I spoke with my sister.  She reminded me how patient and tolerant Grandma had been.  The grandchildren used to run around her house making lots of noise and doing silly things like throwing items down the laundry chute.  She didn’t yell at us unless we were really out of line.  She spoiled us and always had time to listen to our stories.  Looking back, she was a perfect grandmother.  It wasn’t that I thought anything bad but as a kid I just didn’t notice how good she was.

Another amazing thing Grandma always did is make us feel at home.  As my sister mentioned, Humboldt always felt so safe and comfortable.  It was always like coming back to a familiar place where everything stayed about the same.  Also being that the town was so small, your arrival was a bit of a novelty and most likely everyone already knew you were coming anyways.

I’ve included a copy of the funeral service notice.  Mom sent it to me after the service was over.  You can click on it to actually read what it says.

Time heals all things, even the feeling like something is missing.  However long it takes, there will always be the memories of time spent.  The hardest thing to realize is that the separation is temporary.  For who can say what happens when we die?  Many people think they know but you don’t know until you’ve done it.  It is very difficult to do this and report back.  The point is that anything could happen after the end.  You just have to wait until that times comes for you to know.

Helen Diamond\'s Funeral Service


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