Two months ago, I lost one of my best friends to cancer. His decline was quick and unexpected as we were told the day before he died that treatments would begin the next day and had a high percentage of success. He was a professor and choral director. The students who he taught have been processing the death ever since, mostly on Facebook. We used FB to organize choirs for his service and a college concert that turned into a tribute to him. They also post (at all hours of the day and night) how they are feeling, how they miss him, how he changed their lives. The replies from each other are all so supportive and loving. The community is strong and I know that the grief work being done there is effective and useful. But, it is so not for me. I have posted very little about him after the immediate reaction to his death.

It is interesting to me to see how some people process their grief (and other emotions) on Facebook and other media. That is usually not my way. But, hell, I guess that is what I am doing right now – albeit with a much more small scale of readers (Bueller? Bueller?). But, it does help to write it down. Sometimes I scribble in a notebook. Sometimes I write on Penzu for myself. Sometimes, I decide to be more public and go here to good ole T-F.

Yesterday, on Facebook, a friend posted a link to Sheryl Sandberg’s recent post about end of her first 30 days mourning her husband’s death. It was an emotional, well-written piece of work. And, it struck a chord with me.

The similarities between her husband’s sudden death and the loss of my beloved almost 2 years ago are very strong. That, in and of itself, was enough to give me a strong emotional reaction to her pain. But, I also was reacting to her work after almost 24 months of grief and the processing and struggle that go with it.

From her post:

I have learned that resilience can be learned.  Adam M. Grant taught me that three things are critical to resilience and that I can work on all three. Personalization—realizing it is not my fault. He told me to ban the word “sorry.” To tell myself over and over, This is not my fault. Permanence—remembering that I won’t feel like this forever. This will get better. Pervasiveness—this does not have to affect every area of my life; the ability to compartmentalize is healthy.

The middle “thing” she thinks is critical is the one I have had to focus on and the one that I have seen the most change for my life. Grief doesn’t leave. But, it does change. It does lighten. So, you don’t feel like you do after 30 days forever. Thank goodness because none of us would ever be able to function again.

But, she also says that doesn’t think she will find “pure joy” again. I have to disagree. Yes, you feel like that after 30 days. You feel like that after 1 year. You feel like that for a long, long time. But, slowly, VERY slowly, you will notice at some point that you are laughing, truly laughing and the oppressive grief didn’t come in and ruin it. You notice something delightful and are able to enjoy it for longer than a second before tears come.

Last night, I was able to go enjoy a spectacle of nature that only happens here in my neck of the woods.


I have seen them before. Yes, WE saw them before. And, last night, as the “show” was starting. I felt myself tearing up. Part of me wanted to cry. Part of me wanted to mourn the fact that I had shared this awesome site with the person I loved the most and now I could not. But, I didn’t go there. And, for once, I didn’t have to fight it to not go there.

I was with my family. They had not seen it before. And, so I went back in my mind to awe and joy. It is an amazing event. I found myself staring into the deep woods, enjoying the darkness, and then delighting in the light show and then celebrating that it just went back to dark for 6 seconds. Then it repeats. For several hours. The crowd that was milling around before it started quickly got quiet as the flickering began. There were whispers of conversations but everyone was really in awe, I believe, as we witnessed this amazing display of nature.

So, we all process our grief in different way and through different media. I am so very sorry for Sheryl’s loss. I have empathy for what she is going through and I feel like she has the support she needs to make the journey through her grief over time. I also know that she can find pure joy again. I hope it comes to her and anyone else who needs it sooner rather than later.



I swear, I do not intend to turn this blog into a tech after death kind of blog but right now, that is what I keep finding is blog-worthy of my energy.

Legacy ContactRelated to my earlier posts on dealing with social media after death, Facebook has taken it a step further now and provided a means for someone to add a Legacy Contact to your account. You can find it from the Security Settings in your account on the site. And, yes, it is also in the mobile version.


When you add a Legacy Contact there, you can also choose to send a message to that person. The default message read:

Hi [Contact Name], Facebook now lets people choose a legacy contact to manage their account if something happens to them:

Since you know me well and I trust you, I chose you. Please let me know if you want to talk about this.


You also have the option to allow that contact to download your content (not messages) and/or choose to have your account deleted.

This change also includes adding the word “Remembering” to a memorialized page, which is a process I mentioned earlier. That change has already been put in place, it seems.Screenshot of KLA's FB page


These changes are for United States accounts right now but I bet they will roll out globally in the fairly near future.


I am acutely aware that I am getting older. One very real factor that drives this home is the increase in the number of funerals I could/should attend. Some of these are untimely and way too early.

But, some have been after a long life well-lived. But they still hurt nonetheless.

I just learned of another death yesterday. I had known him since I was in junior high school when I attended summer camp and he was the camp leader. Later, in college, he hired me to be a counselor and subsequently kept hiring me back with increasing responsibility through waterfront and then to be an area director where I led the high school program that involved lots of camping, backpacking, hiking, canoeing and other such fun things among other tasks. Most importantly, whether he knew it or not, he was one of my best mentors.

Mentors are hard to pin down. I think back over my life and I can think of a few people who I believe were very good at mentoring me. The most successful were the organic mentors – the relationship just evolved into that. I have asked people to mentor me in the past and that has not really worked out as I don’t tend to ask for their help and they are not really so engaged in what I am doing that they can offer help just by being around.

But, this man was a mentor to me. When I was working as a young counselor, we would pester him with so many theological questions (it was a Lutheran camp, after all). His answers were infuriating most of the time. Like, “Does it matter?” when you asked if Judas was in heaven or hell.

Now, I understand he was pushing us to a mature faith and not one with so many didactic and concrete questions.

He had his challenges and some of his choices later in life gave me much pain as I had a hard time holding on to him as a mentor. But, when I look at the grand scheme of the time we walked together on this earth, he was a good friend, a kind soul, a strong mentor and someone who will be missed.

I hope he has found peace in his heart. As for me, I am still searching for that.

Just a quick update to what I have decided to do and what I have learned.

I was so hesitant to just close down social networking/media accounts without having the data itself with me. So, I started digging around.

The Twitter account did have the archive button so I was able to grab all of the tweets from the account before I closed it. The archive comes as a zip and then opens into a mini-“web page” with HTML pages listing the tweets in order of their posting.

I have also requested an archive of the Facebook Data. You can do that by clicking on the gear icon in the top right of your Facebook page and choosing Account Settings. Then, in tiny print in the bottom of the screen, you can request an archive.

screenshot of Facebook showing where to click for requesting archive of files.The archive contains (according to the Facebook page about requesting your data)

  • your timeline info,
  • posts you have shared,
  • messages,
  • photos and more.
  • Additionally, it includes information that is not available simply by logging into your account, like the ads you have clicked on, data like the IP addresses that are logged when you log into or out of Facebook, and more. To download your information, go to your Account Settings and click

After I have that data, I will make the request to convert the page to a memorial page. This will keep it on Facebook and only confirmed friends can see it. It cannot be found by search, it cannot be logged into, no one can request to be a friend and the person will not show up in the “You need to reconnect” suggestion box or ads, etc.

I am sure there will be more but that is it for now.


tree in middle of graveyardIn the aftermath of the recent death in my life, there has been a lot of work to “close” a person’s life.  In addition to dealing with clothes, shoes, books, memorabilia, CDs, financial dealings, retirement accounts and automobiles, I have also been faced with several decisions regarding email accounts, social media, cloud storage, web sites and blogs.

What do we do with these electronic artifacts after someone dies? I really don’t have a good answer. But there are services and resources out there to help.

I have left the email accounts open. I was fortunate to have access to the deceased person’s password manager so that has not been a problem to get to the accounts. I can certainly see how it would be difficult for an executor to deal with such accounts without knowing the passwords or even the accounts’ existence. If you need to plan something like that, sometimes just encrypted plain text files sent to a trusted relative or friend can work or you can use a service like AssetLock for storage of that kind of information.

I have closed some social networking accounts, like LinkedIn. That seemed like an easy decision. Others, such as Facebook, I have left open – although some hacker started impersonating the account, which was very disturbing to friends and family. I have that under control now (here’s how to report a fake account) and my friend, Donn, did a great post on how to help prevent that from happening again. The Facebook account feels like it needs to stay open because folks are still posting things on her wall, although with much less frequency as time moves forward. I do know I can request the page to be turned into a memorial page and I will probably do that soon, especially after this recent hack incident.

The website is active but I replaced the site with a simple page stating the the business was closed due to the death of the owner. The blogs are still active but I posted a “final” message on them stating that the podcasts would cease. I think the archive of the blogs still should stand. Renewing the domain name is not that expensive and it seems like a good tribute and legacy.

I downloaded one account of cloud storage to get the photographs and then closed the account since it would cost about $100 to keep it up and running for another year and that seemed unnecessary. I would have appreciated the company providing a bulk download tool or option to get all of the photos out easier but that is another blog post, I believe.

Then, there is Twitter. I have left the Twitter account open but I probably should close it but how to gather all those past tweets? I guess I will need to see if the account has the archive feature. And, of course, there are no more tweets forthcoming making me recall services like DeadSocial, which provide a means for you to write and prepare your messages to Facebook, Twitter and the like after your death. Someone (an “executor”) has to log into the account and activate these messages so they just don’t get sent out automatically if you don’t respond but they still can go out – and keep going out weeks after you are gone, if you desire and write them. If you don’t like the idea of someone having to go “flip the switch” for your messages, you can go with the Dead Man’s Switch approach of having to check in periodically and when you quit doing that, the messages are sent.

You can also use the Facebook app, If I Die, to prepare a video that is published after your death. I guess that is one way to know exactly what your “last words” could be. And, perhaps involve your cat in the video as well.

And, then there is Google. Ah, leave it to The Google to have a solution: The Inactive Account Manager. Set that up in the account settings and…

For example, you can choose to have your data deleted — after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Or you can select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the following services: +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube. Before our systems take any action, we’ll first warn you by sending a text message to your cellphone and email to the secondary address you’ve provided.


I haven’t EVEN started to figure out how (or if) I can transfer iTunes purchases and eBooks. I am thinking that I probably cannot transfer them so that is another argument for being sure you pass along your account information to someone who might want to have access to that digital content.

For more information on your digital afterlife and planning, check out The Digital Beyond.

Image: ‘The Raised Bones of Arlington National Cemetery
Found on

I have been quiet on this blog because I am dealing with a death. It has been and continues to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. A friend sent me this poem. I hope I get to the point of the end of it at some time in the near future.

For Grief
by John O’Donohue

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.

Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.

More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And, when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal

And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

When this Pew Research and Smithsonian quiz passed by my Twitter feed, I had to jump over and give it a shot. After all, with an undergrad degree in chemistry education and a masters in Science Ed, I had better know a good amount of basic science and technology. Fortunately, I was able to pass with a perfect score that put me in the 93% range.

Give it a shot!

Science and Technology Knowledge Quiz

Yes, I have been slack. [Insert typical excuses here – busy at work, nothing to say, off on other projects, so on and so on]

Yesterday, I heard a piece on All Things Considered, the evening news show on National Public Radio here in the USofA that just captured my imagination. It was about a composer named Rolf Liebermann, who composed a number for office machines back in 1964. Now, back in 1964, office machines made noise. Imagine:

  •  16 typewriters,
  • 18 calculator machines,
  • 8 accounting machines,
  • 12 office perforators,
  • 2 metronomes,
  • 2 entrance door gongs,
  • 6 telephones, a fork lift,
  • and, a duplicator (just to name a few of the objects in the piece)

Yes, this is a piece about things making noise….making a lot of noise, in a drumline kind of way. As one who LOVES me a good drumline, I was hooked.

And, the commentators went on about how today’s electronics don’t make that kind of noise. True, my iPad and Android are silent when I hit their buttons. My iMac keyboard is making a pleasant little clicking while I type this but there is not much other noise right now. Would I want it to be noisy? Not necessarily.

However, we keep hearing about the bombardment of “noise” coming at us all of the time. There is still a high signal to noise ratio – just maybe not really noise like the office machines of the 1960s. Its the noise of Twitter, Facebook feeds, Pinterest boards and more just going by and every little sticking or at least less and less signal comes to me. Are you finding the same thing?

Of course, I love it when someone finds a way to take our common objects and make music, just like Rolf. Reminds me of one of my favorite musical experiences, STOMP.  Enjoy. Find some signal and some music today.

The semester is almost over. The pace has slowed down and I need to do something a bit more geeky just to get my grey matter back on track. So, inspired by D’arcy Norman’s reclamation project of his data, I decided to give a whirl to some of the tools he mentioned to see if I could bring some of my data into my world rather (or along with) the hosted solutions.

I am not quite a self-contained as D’arcy and probably won’t be. He dumped Flickr and I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon as I really like Flickr and the service it provides. I see it more as a backup for my photos than the main storage so it is not my end-all, be-all  for image files. I have tried Coppermine and, to be honest, really didn’t like it at all.

But, I have all this “power” with my Bluehost account over installing MySQL databases, adding users and so forth. I wanted to wield that power!!

The Hippie Hosting co-op is intriguing but I have invested way in advance wlth Bluehost and have no complaints so I am going to stick with them for a while.

Thus far, I have installed Lessn for a way to shorten URLs ala and tinyurl to keep them local rather than relying on a third party service. Seems to work fine but my main concern is that the domain I am using ( is so darn long it might not be as helpful for URL shortening as I would have hoped. I guess my decision is if something is available and worth the $20/year for another domain.

I also have installed Scuttle for bookmarking. After Delicious was purchased by Yahoo and then leaked that it might be “sunsetted”, I really was concerned about my bookmarks as I had LOTS of them (I have been using it since 2005). I jumped to Pinboard and that has worked but I also liked the idea of having a local version of these bookmarks, just in case. I do like how Pinboard gathers my URLs from Delicious as well as from Twitter so it really is an aggregation of all the places where I save URLs.

Also, installing Scuttle allowed me to become a bit more of a MySQL admin as I had to create a new database, new DB user and then run SQL scripts to create the tables, etc. I have always used something like Fantastico and SimpleScripts to do this in the past, so I was happy that my efforts went off with no problems.

But, wait, it can’t be all smooth sailing

Image: 'The droids we're googling for'


However, when it came time to import my Delicious bookmarks into Scuttle, I did hit a roadblock. Scuttle only will import XML files from Delicious. Delicious used to be able to do that so I was off to my best friend, Google, for some suggestions.




I found a Python script on GitHub that sounded good and learned that I can run Python from TextWrangler (awesome!!) However, that had some kind of error in it so I could not get the XML file generate.

I found was another often mentioned alternative that no longer answers as a webpage (Doh!). However, I did find on Tech Cocktail that you can use this URL:

Use command line prompts to export your bookmarks. Visit the following URL:  https://{your username}:{your password} > bookmarks.xml to get the bookmarks as bookmarks.xml

That worked great and I know have my bookmarks in Scuttle from Delicious. Now, if I can figure out to get all of my bookmarks from Pinboard into Scuttle – I would really have the funnel in place and a nice redundancy for this collection.

Back to my good friend, Google!