Scary movies on Friday nights at midnight on channel 5 when I was a kid growing up in San Antonio Texas.
I don’t see Google’s current leaders as the kind of people who would use their potential (and real) power to clamp down to the extent that they could, but I have no reason to believe their successors won’t.
Col. R.F. Nikolewski’s Eulogy by My Brother Rob
To five of us, he was known as Dad.
To some of us, he was Ol’ Grandpa.
To everyone he was “The Colonel.”
To one of us, he was a husband.
And to all who came within the slightest contact, Robert Francis Nikolewski was a force of nature.
He was the “A” in the Type-A personality.
Dad was an interesting cat.
His father Adam Edward Nikolewski survived a mustard gas attack in World War I in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
It’s part of family lore how the soldiers on the day of the attack were under orders not to stop under any circumstances – even to help fallen comrades. When the gas was released, Adam Edward collapsed. One of his friends stopped anyway, adjusted the gas mask on Adam’s face and saved his life.
There are 14,246 burial sites at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in that long string of rocky, mountainous woodland in northeastern France.
Adam Edward Nikolewski’s body is not there.
And none of us would not be here in this room – literally – if that unknown soldier – whose name is lost to time – had not disobeyed those orders and helped his friend.
One of God’s mysteries, I guess.
Dad was an Air Force man through and through but – Type A personality – he loved the fact that some brave man said, “To hell with the orders” and saved his father’s life.
Adam’s lungs were damaged on that day. And — like a number of veterans who were in danger or had suffered from tuberculosis — was told to move to a dry climate.
So he left St. Louis and decamped in El Paso, got married to Marguerite Weir, who had braved the wild and bitter winters of the Dakotas and was one of the few licensed female pharmacists in the country at that time.
Dad was their eldest son, born in 1934 – a curly-haired boy who looked a bit like Jay Emerson Nikolewski does today – and Adam and Marguerite were so captivated by their child the entered his photo in a baby contest in the El Paso Times.
Don’t know who won. If Dad had, we would have been sure to know it.
Along with younger brother Terry, the Nikolewskis moved again, in 1950, to California. But Adam died of a heart attack while moving furniture. Dad was 16 years old.
Marguerite came down with cancer and died in 1955. Dad was 21.
He didn’t like talking about that but on the heels of death, Dad then hit the jackpot.
He met Irene Wimer.
Upon meeting her, the skinny kid from El Paso who was working his way through Loyola of Los Angeles University as a member of the Air Force ROTC, fighting for every scrap to get ahead in this world, said, “I’m going to marry that girl.”
And in 1957, he did.
One of God’s mysteries, I guess.
And with Irene, he fathered five kids in the space of seven years.
His Air Force career stumbled out of the gate. At first, he was in navigator’s school. But he hated every minute of it.
A Type-A personality is not – in any way – conditioned to have OTHER people fly the plane.
But his commanding officers noticed he had a bachelor’s degree in biology. The Air Force needed microbiologists. Dad needed a career. His wife and kids needed a provider.
And the Type-A personality, born in El Paso, by way of Orange County, now stationed in Harlingen, Texas was about to apply, to channel, to direct, all that energy, all that drive, all that ambition — in a straight line.
The hard work was joined – and success followed.
A board-certified cytopathologist and microbiologist, Dad served for 30 years in the Air Force, including stints on the Inspector General’s team and the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board. He also served as President of the Society of Armed Forces Medical Laboratory Scientists and was a founding member of the Texas Society of Cytology and the Biomedical Science Corps.
He was best known as the Chief of Cytopathology at Wilford Hall.
And he was most proud of reaching the highest level that an Air Force officer can reach – outside of combat – full colonel. He was just 43 years old.
He retired in 1987 and with each passing year, he came to enjoy life more and more.
And came to enjoy and appreciate the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sons and daughters in laws more and more.
Although Dad had an expansive personality, his circle of friends was always a relatively small one. And with each passing year, I think everyone in this room understood how much – in his own way – he cared and was so proud – in our own ways – of each and every one of us.
It’s always sad when the end comes.
But I know everyone in this room understands and appreciates that this was the best outcome.
Type-A Dad would NOT have abided a shuffling exit from the stage.
Since he’s been gone in these last few days, the word that keeps coming to mind is “grace.”
God allowed him to leave us with grace.
And for that, WE are grateful and NOBODY is MORE grateful than Col. Robert Francis Nikolewski.
I will quote from the e-mail sent out by his love, his life, his rock, Irene:
“His hospital room was aglow with the love, support, tears & memories all of us shared aloud. Each had his or her favorite story: some sad, most funny, they transported us back to past years that in the end spells “family”. Each had private time to say last goodbyes as we trusted that he could hear us. My heart is overflowing with pride & gratitude for the people our love created & for the grace of God who gave us this last goodbye. I know Nick heard & was amazed by all that his being had meant to so many.”
In time we will see you again when all of us will join you, Adam Edward, Marguerite and Terry – covered in the warmth of God’s love.
On tonight’s Parks and Recreation, Ben called another character a major dick. I asked my 10-year-old, “Do you know what a dick is?” “No,” she said. “It’s a penis,” I said. “Oh… Can I have a Popsicle?” “Yes you can,” I replied. “But only because I’m so happy you didn’t know what a dick is.” “But…
World’s Most Beautiful Abandoned Places
Italian product manager and web designer Francesco Mugnai recently added a collection of images to his blog touting some of the most beautiful images of abandoned spots and modern ruins that he’d ever seen. The images Mugnai has captured come from empty castles, shuttered power plants, and dilapidated churches around the world. From a sunken yacht in Antarctica to a forever-closed amusement park in Japan, these images all make up a sort of anti-phoenix; rather than rising as new from the ashes, these husks remain preserved in decomposition, forcing viewers to confront the strange beauty of ruination.