Dan Appleman: Kibitzing and Commentary

My personal blog

I know I originally promised not to post the “minutia of my daily life” on this blog. But please forgive this exception.

Today is my father’s funeral.

He passed away Sunday night at home, surrounded by family, in as much peace as I suppose is possible under the circumstances.

I know some of you reading this met him – he would often come to the VBits conferences where Desaware exhibited and where I was a speaker. Conferences then were somewhat of a family affair for us. Aside from the obvious pride he had in watching me do my thing, he enjoyed the travel and the technology, and I was glad to be able to give him the opportunity. He had spent his working life traveling around the world for Fluor (a major construction company), and the conferences gave him a taste of that again. He loved his work – I remember the pride (and amazement) he expressed after negotiating his first billion dollar contract.

My dad definitely qualified as a “geek” by today’s standards. He spent hours on the computer, participating in online discussions, paying bills, playing solitaire, and various sundry other activities. No technophobe, whenever he ran into problems he would attempt to tackle them himself, and if necessary spend hours on the phones with tech support people until things worked. Only rarely would I have to come in and help out.

I don’t doubt that I inherited my love of technology from him. Curiously enough, as I struggle to focus on how he was, rather than how he died, I realized that it’s not his love that I remember most, but rather, his respect. I suppose every good father encourages his children to learn and try new things. But for me the real turning point was when I was 12 or 13 and my interest in electronics had gone just a step beyond building simple kits and playing with 50-in-one project sets from radio shack. I don’t know whether that’s the time when I knew more about electronics than he did, but even if I didn’t – he let me believe that. Suddenly I was the one in charge of repairing frayed extension cords, replacing bulbs, rewiring outlets, and any other household tasks that had anything to do with electronics or electricity.

That respect, or trust in my ability, was the core, but there were lots of little things as well. Buying me my first transceiver kit from Heathkit. Encouragement without pressure when I dragged home an old WWII radio and then took almost a year to repair it. Patience the numerous times I blew out fuses at home (or in hotel rooms). And a stalwart defense when the neighbors were ready to lynch me because my transmissions were coming out of their TV, intercom systems, toasters and so on.

He had a full life, and there were many aspects to it. He’s not a person one can reflect on in a single eulogy. But of all the things I want to say about him, these are the things that feel right to express here.