Christine Sherman

My grandmother died last week. I wrote about it in my newsletter. It is reprinted here for posterity when Substack goes dark eventually.

She was my grandmother, but of course she was more than that. She was a human being with thoughts and wants and needs and she was not shy about telling you what they were. She and her late husband (who preceded her in death), our Nanny and Gramps, were the bedrock of our extended family. If one of their kids, grandkids, or great-grandkids needed help out of a bad spot, they were there every time. COVID-19 took Gramps from us last year. He died thinking it was a hoax thanks to Fox News. Nanny died gasping for air, too.

Nanny and Gramps would give their last dollar to a family member who asked for it and they would forgive nearly any transgression. Many of their kids and grandkids took great advantage of this and stole from them, lied to them, begged them to co-sign bad loans or buy cars with a promise to pay and just never did. My grandparents had come up with nothing, and knew how that felt and their family was everything to them. They both died with nothing much to their names except their social security checks and a reverse mortgage on the home they built together. Despite this, I know in my heart if you could ask them they would do it again. They would give again, and again.

My favorite memories with her are of waking up and making coffee for us (she liked it strong) when I lived with Nanny and Gramps, and arguing with her about whatever news was on the TV. She was smart and funny and enjoyed that kind of banter. When I first moved out, I’d still call and talk with her frequently, and she’d lament that “nobody here will argue with me.”

Christine Sherman née Perkins had a tenacious mind, and it made seeing her struggle with dementia and senility the last several years all the worse, for Nanny’s own quality of life foremost but not least of which for my mother who has been her tireless (and often sleepless) live-in caretaker. Still, everyone she knew was happy to see her and talk with her every time we could until the very end.

She believed in us, and proved it time and again, and boy did we need it. Without her help I don’t believe any of us, from her children to her great-grandchildren, would’ve had much of a chance at decent lives. Even with their help all of her kids spent time on food-stamps and government assistance, even the conservative family members reading this who like to pretend they never got any help.

I myself owe them so much- for helping my parents get a home when I was a baby, for letting my mother and brothers and me stay with them when that marriage dissolved, for buying us school shoes, for being at our meets and games, for always… being there for us. I could spend days telling you how much they did for us.

But Nanny and Gramps are no more. That bedrock, like so many things and people we used to lean on, is soon to undertake that final change into the inevitable dust and ash. Goodbye, Nanny. You gave us everything you had and more, and we loved you more than words could say. Still, I count myself lucky that I was able to say it, and hug you, one last time.



This week I’ve officially accepted a position with [Occipital][link], helping them bring their kickass computer vision research and products to the web. You may know them from their app, [360 Panorama][360], which is found on most iPad demo units in Apple stores. They also created [Red Laser][red], which is now owned by eBay.

Glad to be part of the [team][team], plus now I can call myself an [Engineer][engie].

[team]: “Occipital – Team”
[engie]: “Engineer”
[360]: “360 Panorama”
[red]: “Red Laser”


25 Years Into The Future

*For those of you confused about the dates in the BTTF movies see my update below.*

Back To The Future first arrived on cinema screens 25 years ago. When I was a boy, most kids wanted to be Michael Jordan, or the President, or maybe an astronaut. I wanted to be [Doctor Emmett L. Brown][doc].

[doc]: “Emmett Brown on Wikipedia”

He was the wonderful scientist-of-all-trades in 1985’s [Back to The Future][bttf], played by the inimitable Christopher Lloyd in what has been, thus far, his finest role on the screen. I doubt he or anyone else will ever top it. As a child, I didn’t want to be a scientist, I wanted to be *that* scientist. Doc Brown just *knew* stuff about pretty much everything, and while being a little scatter-brained (with the knowledge of real, working, time travel in their head, who wouldn’t be?) was unquestionably brilliant, if not a little short-sighted.

[bttf]: “Back to the Future”

Back To The Future released 3 July, 1985. I was barely two years old at the time, so I never got to see it in the theater. Later, though, it became my favorite movie. Over the last 20 years I’ve watched the trilogy dozens of times. Though they are very much a product of the 1980s, and the fashions looks silly to us now, the films themselves never get old, and Doc never becomes less inspirational to me. ” If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” It’s a platitude, sure, but but coming from a guy who invented a time machine, it means a lot.

20 years since I personally first saw the the original BTTF film, am I any closer to mad scientistry? My business card says so, but I doubt I’ll ever reach Doc’s level. Part of Doc’s appeal was that he was this platonic ideal of the Mad Scientist that existed in my mind, even before I knew it was there. Like Peter Cushing’s portrayal of Van Helsing in the half-dozen Hammer-produced Dracula films, or Kevin Conroy’s voicing of Batman in the mid-90s Batman: The Animated Series, Lloyd’s Doc Brown took up residence in my headspace and will probably never leave. At least, I hope he won’t.

**Update**: In the BTTF film the time travel event takes place on October 25th, 1985. In BTTF 2 Marty goes to October 21st, 2015. BTTF was released July 3rd, 1985. For those wondering, [as topherchris was][topher], “how July 5, 2010 fits into this,” the Back To The Future DVD commentary: In it, Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale (the director and co-writer of the film) explain that they put this in there as a sight gag, since July 5th was around when the movie was going to come out. It exists only as a little joke for keen-eyed viewers. Apparently it doesn’t.

**Update 2**: The original version of this post misused quotation marks around “25 years,” which has been fixed.

**Update 3**: It looks like the [July 5th, 2010 screen shot is actually a hoax][hoax].

[orig]: “Original Scene from BTTF”
[hoax]: “BTTF hoax”
[topher]: “Topherchris”


We Now Return To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Namely: smut, code, lies, and art in the 21st century. My computer has been in the shop for the past week, so I’ve been doing other things. Non-internet things. I am back, now. In the interim I didn’t enjoy [Fiasco: A History of Hollywood’s Iconic Flops][flops], and did enjoy [Adventures in the Screen Trade][screen].

[flops]: “Buy Fiasco on Amazon”
[screen]: “Buy Adventures in the Screen Trade on Amazon”