My cousin Sylvia Hatchell - head coach of the UNC women's basketball team - wrote a great piece about Bill Friday, my late grandmother Catherine Rhyne Boggs, and my hometown - Dallas, North Carolina:
I've had people ask me this question several times over the past few months. My usual answer is customer acquisition...but my new answer is Thomas Ferdinand Stowe Boggs:
My wife Kelly and I welcomed Thomas - our first child - on July 3, 2011. He's a happy little guy. And his mother and I are having a great time learning how to parent.
The Boggs Blog will resume its regular programming as soon as I'm able to figure out my new day-to-day programming.
My precious grandmother Catherine Maude Rhyne Boggs Postell died today. And my heart is broken.
She's the last grandparent. My maternal grandmother died when I was 11 years old and both of my grandfathers died before I was born.
She was a hub for the Boggs/Rhyne family - and not just for her children and grandchildren, but also for dozens of aunts, uncles, neices, nephews, cousins, and family friends. An endless stream of family members and friends have visited over the past few days and it has been fun to see them, even though the circumstances are so sad.
Maw Maw was born dirt poor - the 9th of Quince and Maude Rhyne's 11 children - 9 boys and 2 girls. She and my grandfather Tommie Frank Boggs worked in textile mills their entire life and raised my father and my aunts Rhonda and Cathy on a family farm on Cloninger Road in Dallas. Maw Maw lived on Cloninger Road her entire life, most recently across the road from the farmhouse she grew up in with her 10 siblings. I'm proud of my family's humble roots.
She never had much of nothing - to borrow her own phrase - but she was most generous person that I knew. My grandmother lived on social security checks and food stamps for the past 10 years, but still gave away everything that she didn't need - and she's always been this way. My mother and father hit some rough times when my brother, sister, and I were young and Maw Maw would leave money in their mailbox on her way to the mill at 5:30 in the morning - just so my parents could make it to my father's next paycheck.
Laughing with (or "at", as it were) Maw Maw was a treasured pastime for my family, especially at Christmas - see here, here, and especially here for a few representative examples. Most of the phone calls I have with my parents revolve around the funny things that Maw Maw has said or done.
She was a staunch Republican, so you can imagine her dismay when I gave her a homemade "Vote for John Kerry" t-shirt for Christmas in 2004, pictured here. When I came to her house that Christmas morning - after not seeing her for at least a couple months - she hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, looked me in the eye, and said without a hint of humor in her voice: "I know you didn't vote for Bush."
When I was home from school one summer, I spent an afternoon with Maw Maw singing songs and making music. I recorded some of our work and spent the rest of the night at home "augmenting" the music with harmonica, guitar, and silly spoken word. You can listen to the finished songs here. My grandmother loved these songs more than anything.
It breaks my heart that she never got to hold a great grandchild. And that I won't be able to tease her about ObamaCare. And that I'll never eat her famous macaroni and cheese or fried apple pies. That I'll never get to hear my Dad tell me about the latest ridiculous thing that she said or did. That I'll never get to repay her generosity. And that a part of my identity is gone.
July 4 is a bit different this year. We're still spending the day with family, laying around my parents' pool and eating watermelon. And we'll probably end up smashing watermelon on my dad's head just like we always do.
The big difference this year is that my little brother Evan is shipping out for Afghanistan tomorrow. He'll be working at Bagram Airfield for the next two months as a C-130 crew chief. He'll work on a team to help maintain the planes and wave them around the tarmac like this guy:
Ev swears that he'll "punch Osama Bin Laden in the nuts" if he gets the chance.
I'm proud of Evan. And I love him very much.
Kelly and I upgraded to a "family photo" style Christmas card this year:
Michael Brooks took the photo, I did the design in Gimp.
(Sorry if you didn't get one.)
This wasn't the first Christmas card I've designed. In 2001, my college roomates John, Lee, and I staged a photo shoot in our dorm - 210 Old West. Afterwards, we conceived a design theme, found the requisite clipart online, and published the deeply symbolic masterpiece you'll see below.
We emailed the image to every address we could find - including Chancellor James Moeser, Coach Matt Doherty, numerous listservs, etc. As you might imagine, many people loved/hated it.
Our's was a fairly eclectic living space. If you can't tell, the items in the picture are (from left):
- a banjo
- a styrofoam cooler
- (behind the cooler) fish tank with dead fish
- potted plant
- bag of Utz
- SunMaid raisins
- 8 of Ben Rogerson's Dr Pepper cans
- empty bowl with spoon
- Cha Cha Chili instant soup (under the bowl)
- empty burlap sack
- Let's Go Europe
- Jiffy cornbread
- a ficus
Photo credit - Ben Rogerson
After a few minutes arguing about whether he actually ate the sock or just hid it somewhere when we weren't looking, we finally decided that we should call the vet. The friendly lady that answered the phone suggested that we induce vomiting by giving Tyler a few tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide.
So we did. Kelly held him and I poured a shot down his throat.
3 minutes later - success! Completely disgusting success:
Eric - (just walking back outside) - "Has he puked yet?"
Kelly - "Yeah - but I need something to poke through the massive blob."
Eric - "OK." (picks up a stick from the yard that Tyler thankfully hasn't swallowed.)
Kelly - (staring at the vile, foamy mass in the grass) "Oh geez - is that it?"
Eric - "Ugh...I can't believe that's a sock."
- The online media start-up I'm working with is showing promise.
- I continue to try to plug myself into the local technology entrepreneurial scene.
- I'm not very productive working from home, but getting better.
- Our backyard gardens are awesome - more herbs and veggies than we can eat...
- Lots of good down time with Kelly, Tyler Dog, and friends.
- I started sweating around June 1 and haven't stopped since.
...while others haven't. Namely - getting laid off from an internship. Yes. I was laid off...from a 10 week part-time internship.
Of the many insights I've gathered - and will probably continue to gather - from the experience, these two are near the top of the list:
1.) Do your due diligence before accepting a job - no matter how short the contract.
2.) Be wary of joining companies that recently botched a $30MM acquisition.
I feel like I've done a pretty good job about keeping a positive attitude about the whole thing. As the "I have an ulterior motive for buying your lunch..."conversation unfolded, I very quickly decided that I wasn't going to be a jerk or a whiner baby. I laughed openly about the situation, explained the irony, etc. that caused my laughter, asked some thoughtful, candid questions, and left on great terms with my supervisor - whom I actually really liked.
I certainly don't harbor any grudge toward the company - these things happen. Integrian is a good company with good people and exciting technologies - it's just facing a tough market in a tightening economy.
Plus, I'm pretty sure that I was one of many lay-offs company-wide. So there are other people with children, responsibilities, etc. (read: not part-time 10 week interns) that are probably in a pretty tight spot right now...
I've filled the spare time with more work on the other venture and accelerated efforts to find a new solution to a problem...or a latent problem to solve...or any company/idea that gets me beyond the first couple steps of consideration. It's slow going, but steady and strangely exciting.
On an unrelated note, my brother Evan comes home from 6 months of military training this weekend. I haven't seen him since Christmas, so I'm looking forward to the family time...and sucker-punching Evan while we wrestle in my parents' swimming pool...and then running away because he's a much larger/stronger man than I...
The trip was fantastic in every way. We spent 3 days in Munich, 3 days in Vienna, and 6 days in Prague. In brief, the highlights include:
- Amazing beer and delicious meats with every meal for 2 straight weeks.
- Easy living in Munich, inspired in part by the naked people in the English Garden.
- A harrowing and gut-wrenching visit to the Dachau concentration camp.
- The view from atop the Schloss Schonbrunn gardens in Vienna.
- A day in Okur* outside of Prague with Lee and Emily. (Pronounced kinda like "O-korjsh" - there should be a little tick over the "r" that WP doesn't allow...)
- A ridiculous night of beer cheese, spare ribs, fried minnows, beer, potato rum, blistering Czech bluegrass, learning Czech slang, and teaching Lee's friend to say "fannypack". (Hate that we didn't take our camera. Highest of high international comedy...)
- The beautiful vistas in Prague at night.
As much as Kelly and I would like to still be in Prague, sleeping on Lee's communist era foldout couch, we're glad to be home and I'm ready to get to work.
I turned around some interesting work pretty quickly since my last post. I'm working 2 part-time gigs this summer. I started at Integrian this week. The company develops intelligent mobile video solutions for public safety and transit. I'll be working on product specs for a couple fascinating applications that originated from the company's R&D arm, Signal Innovations Group.
Next week, I'll start spending some time with a pre-launch online software/media start-up that has a great team and an interesting idea.
I had hopes of brute-forcing a software idea into existence over the summer, but cooled on both of the ideas I was carrying once I started thinking hard about them. So it goes...
All in all, I'm excited about the summer. I'll work a relatively normal schedule and Kelly will have a ton of time off. This should translate into lots of grilling out, lots of basketball, lots of time spent with my KFBS friends that are in town for the summer, and a bountiful harvest from my vegetable garden.
We found him online at a collie rescue in Winston-Salem. They named him Doodle, which I guess makes his full name Doodle Tyler Stowe Boggs. Kelly picked out the name, by the way. I'm not the only ridiculously obsessed Tar Heel fan in the family...
He's been great so far. He can "sit" like a champ, he's crate trained, and he's learning to fetch. He isn't very good on a leash yet, but we practice every day.
Kelly and I watched the game with ~300 of our closest friends at Spice Street in Chapel Hill. We screamed like idiots when Tyler made the game-clinching jump shots down the stretch and happily chirped "Carolina Victory" with my friend EJ after the game ended. And then I called my dad, as is the post-game custom.
When I called him, I felt a surprisingly startling emotion beyond the excitement of having just won the big game. I've written before how, when I was a child honing my game on the driveway, my dad would coach me by describing how Tar Heel legends Phil Ford and Bobby Jones did it this way or that way. I obviously knew who these people were, but I didn't get why he referred to them with such reverence.
For a split second after my dad picked up the phone, I remembered those times on my driveway and tried to imagine the touchstone Carolina basketball moments in his life, realizing that I was in the midst of one of my own.
And it made me realize how lucky I am to be able to call him after the game.
It's funny that we won because North Gaston football has been atrocious for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, my friend Kenneth and I pal'ed around during games and laughed about how badly the Wildcats were getting stomped...that is when we weren't playing pick-up football in the open space by the home stands. I guess things change when a team has a player like AJ Blue - North Gaston's star QB that has scholarship offers from UNC and Illinois.
It's even funnier that we won because all of Dallas, North Carolina will pack up to make the trip up to Chapel Hill for the championship game next weekend. Much of my Saturday will be spent at KFBS for the VCIC, but I really hope that I can at least see part of the game. I suspect that it will be pretty fun to catch up with old hometown acquaintances in my new hometown.
There have been a couple minor irritants this time around, though. Even though she loved it, the gift I bought for her - a new Wusthof knife and an cookbook of Florentine recipes - turned out to be eerily similar to what I bought her last year. Doh!
Also - Kelly's Facebook profile has been flooded with "Happy Birthday" wishes, which is somewhat humiliating because there's no way I'll get as many as her...
Happy birthday, Kelly Cat!
I wish that I played football so that I could be at the bottom of a pile with Brett Favre and Tom Brady.
I've gotten a little fuzzy and Kelly has been begging to give me a fresh clipping, so I let her cut my hair tonight. When she finished cutting, she cheerfully exclaimed:
There! Now you look more like David Beckham.
I was not amused.
Aside from her ongoing "I'm the breadwinner!" taunting and "Hurry up, Eric - you're going to be late for school!" faux-mothering, it has been an enjoyable experience. I'm about a third of the way through "Atlas Shrugged", I'm almost done with my pre-Italy planning, I've caught up with some old friends, and plan to catch up with more. Heck, I've even sent a "get the ball rolling" message to my high school classmates regarding our 10 year reunion which is over a year away. (Numerous people have asked me about it over the past few months, but - yes - I'm that bored.)
What's more, I have done all of this in what has to be one of the coolest offices on the UNC campus. Kelly shares the entire 3rd floor of the recently renovated Campus Y building with one other person. Her window overlooks the main quad, the South Building, and Old Playmakers and I have my own desk with a window that overlooks Gerrard Hall and Memorial Hall. The 1st floor has a study room with huge windows, hardwood floors, and leather chairs and the basement has a small cafe that brews good coffee. For the time that I'm not in Italy and China this summer, I suspect I'll be sitting here, doing my best to stay productive.
The "going to work with someone" experience has caused me to think back to the excitement of going to work with my mom or dad when I was a kid.
Going to work with my Mom as a youngster wasn't much fun. She's always worked in a doctor's office or hospital - BORING! When I was in high school, she actually "hired" me to match medical records from her office to those kept in a 150 degree storage building 15 minutes away. Not a bad deal, except that I had to take my 8 year old brother along. The $8/hour was not worth the time I spent shuffling medical records and wrestling Evan in an God-forsaken storage room oven on Franklin Blvd.
Going to work with my Dad, on the other hand, was a rare treat. He is in the NC Air National Guard and works on a super cool military base in Charlotte. My memories of visiting his office as a child include:
- The salute from soldiers armed with M16s as we entered the front gate.
- Touring the base in a golf cart and riding it up a REALLY steep hill.
- Playing Minesweeper for the first time.
- Playing ping pong and shooting hoops in the hangar.
- Firing blanks with an M16 on Family Day.
- Sitting in the cockpit of a C130.
- Watching a C130 dump thousands of gallons of water on a runway in a demonstration of the Guard's forest fire fighting capabilities.
- Visiting the top of the air traffic control tower at Charlotte-Douglas airport.
Aside from the stench of stale coffee everywhere, a trip to Dad's office was like a trip to Disney World. Plus, he never gave me a hard time about not having a job.
Donating blood did not get personal for (Kelly Stowe) Boggs (my wife) until March 29, 2006, the morning a woman fell asleep at the wheel of the SUV that crossed the centerline and crashed head-on into the SUV driven by her father, Carl Stowe.
I finally donated for the first time ever yesterday.