Jeff Geerling's blog

Farewell, Grandpa Charlie

Less than two years ago, my family said farewell to Grandpa Geerling. Just a few days ago, my Grandfather on my mother's side passed away.

Grandpa Charlie

He was a humble man. Grandpa won't be mentioned in history books. He didn't do anything incredible in the world's eyes, but he was a great family man and role model.

Grandpa helped my Grandma (who is a saintly woman in her own right, and still with us, thanks be to God!) raise six girls in a modest home, with a modest sheet metal worker's salary. I can only imagine what it must've been like to come home to a wife and six lively daughters every day!

He also helped care for Nana, my great grandmother, for many years. She was another beautiful woman, though I only knew her for a short time (mostly through baking chocolate chip cookies with her!).

Whenever someone needed assistance in repairing something, or needed a specialized tool, Grandpa was there to help. He helped my brother repair a headlight motor mount on his Firebird, and helped my sister with a new sheet metal duct for her microwave.

He sang with the vigor of an Irish tenor, in his parish choir, around the home, and for our entire family at many events. He led us in prayer and in music, even late into his life. When his voice became too weak to sing, his daughter Ellen would raise up her own beautiful voice to continue the tune.

He made a good friend in Joey, a man with a mental disability. He would take Joey to lunch, bring him to family events, and let him share in the joys and love of our extended family.

He would go to Mass at Marygrove every Saturday (until he was unable to attend due to a knee injury), and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd who resided there could count on Grandpa to proclaim the readings whenever another lector was not present.

He had a beautiful fedora hat with a small feather, and he'd wear it in the proper way. He would let his grandchildren—and great grandchildren—play with the hat, touch the feather, wear it on their heads, and feel the smooth hat band.

He took coffee at the end of every meal. Sometimes at the beginning, too, so he could dunk his french fries, his chicken strips, his donut... anything that fit the brim of his mug was fair game for dunking.

He had the world's largest dictionary (as far as the grandkids knew), and it was always handy by his chair at the table. Perched atop was his word-of-the-day calendar, proclaiming "cerebral", "flue", "hirsute"—or, on the day he died, "hew."

hew \HYOO\
verb
1: to cut or fell with blows (as of an ax)
2: to give shape to with or as if with an ax
3: to conform or to adhere

"Hew", because we are now hewn from his enlivening presence and strong love. "Hew" also, as he hewed to all the great traditions of familial love and strong fatherhood. He loved his Church and his country, but most especially his wife, his children, his family, and God.

These are a few of the things I know of Grandpa Charlie.

Jeff and Grandpa Charlie

Grandpa, you were an inspiration. You devoted your life to your family and brightened everyone's day. I pray that you may have quick passage into Heaven so you can meet those who have inspired you, and be in peaceful and eternal rest.

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace. Amen.

Self-Publishing a Book (on Ansible)

I've published the first portion of a book I've been writing, Ansible for DevOps. This is my first-ever book, and I've written a little about the process of writing on Server Check.in's blog: Self-publishing my first technical book on LeanPub.

Ansible for DevOps cover image

I'm excited about the early feedback I've already received—and I haven't even finished writing half the book! I'm hoping to finish the first complete draft of the book (and continue publishing it in stages on LeanPub) by summer 2014.

Snow Bird

During last week's record-breaking snowstorm in St. Louis, I was not motivated to brave the 10+ inches of snow and -20 (and lower) temperatures to get pictures outside of the comfort of my climate-controlled home. I did, however, snap some pictures of birds eating from the feeders in my backyard, which my wife wisely filled the day before the storm.

For a while, there was only one small bird eating from the sunflower seed feeder (there were a bunch of goldfinches on the thistle feeder):

Snow bird on feeder backyard winter

I'm not quite sure if this is a sparrow or finch, as the colors and contrast were affected quite a bit by the volume of snow falling between my lens and the feeder! This picture is retouched with a ton of extra contrast after the fact.

Whatever the bird, he was quite persistent!

A new year, a new standing desk

For the past eight months, I've been working at a cubicle, sitting around 8 hours a day, at my new job with Mercy. Prior to this job, I had gotten up to about 6 hours a day standing at my home office standing desk (see how I made the standing desk), and reverting to the sitting position has taken its toll on my back and neck!

I decided to start working from a standing position at work, but was presented with a challenge: how can I work standing at a cubicle that was built for sitting? Additionally, I couldn't drill any holes in walls or modify the cubicle structurally in any way. Challenge accepted!

Standing Desk in cubicle at work

I made the above standing desk out of a few panels of wood that I cut, stained, and polyurethaned between Christmas and the New Year, and it's now helping me improve my posture and reduce back, neck and arm fatigue at work. I took pictures of the process of building the desk, and posted an article explaining the process here: Build a wood standing desk for your cubicle.

This Advent: Simplify

Every few years, I spend some time trying to trim any excess off my online presence (sites and social media profiles). For some time, that resulted in consolidation of many websites into one. Lately, as I've built up a larger network of sites and services, I've simply tried to ensure that all are manageable and don't require too much of my time to be effective.

My bandwidth for managing multiple sites and accounts has been reduced this year as I've started a new 'in-the-office' job, and also have a beautiful baby (almost 1 year old!) to care for.

Thus, I'm trying to whittle things down again during this Advent; what better time than the new liturgical year to refocus my online presence and work on making it align with my calling in life—to be a good husband and father, and to give honor to God in all things.

I'm also going to be working on making sure that the sites and profiles I do maintain are as simple and efficient as they can be, so people visiting and following will have the best experience possible, and get right to what they'd like to see. On this site, I've removed the 'About' block that has been present in the sidebar for years (I think since 2004!), so now there are only a couple contextual things over on the right like search and an RSS link.

Advent is a great time for you, too, to see what distractions you can cut out of your life, your routine, and your online persona. If you feel called to do so, I encourage you to spend the next 24 days praying and working on simplifying your life! Mary and Joseph surely cut out a lot of distractions when they went on their journey to Bethlehem, and brought Jesus into the world with only what they could carry on a donkey!

Evangelii Gaudium - Joy of the Gospel

Pope Francis released his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), today.

I'm having a quick read through it, but as with all other Papal writings, I'm pretty sure it requires a deeper reading sometime when I have a quiet period of time to reflect on it.

There's already some chatter about certain statements the Pope makes in this Exhortation, and many others can summarize and scrutinize much better than I.

In other news, I found out about this release pretty soon after it was published, since I've been beta-testing the Catholic News Live mobile app for iOS 7... it will be released shortly! (More to come...).

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