Hello darkness my old friend….

So, I’ve only been writing here when something bad happens.  That’s just not working.

It’s mostly because of the baggage of this blog.  It’s not that I regret writing any of these things, it’s that I’m not in those places any more, for better and/or worse.  It’s also because the large gaping holes in the archive menu are a bit discouraging every time I start to write something, or decide that I’m really going to find something to talk about.

This blog isn’t going away.  When I’ve got a project done that I need to talk about, or I’m ready to write regularly again, I’ll probably move it to a different directory and start fresh, but these posts will remain online as long as I can keep the lights on.  The new blog will be at this same address, so I think your RSS feeders and the like should just pick up automatically.  If not…well, there’s probably only three of you anyway.  For now, it’s going read-only, so I don’t have to worry about spammers.

In the meantime, you can find me on Google+, Twitter, and a few other places as jbhelfrich.  But not on Facebook.  Please don’t even talk *about* me on Facebook. *shudder*


Remembrances: One

I always knew I’d hear the name Naomi Matsunobu again.  I expected it would be with an announcement of an award, or her curing a disease, or her appointment to the Supreme Court, or something similarly momentous.

I didn’t expect it to be with a link to her obituary.

I went to school with Naomi, and even when we were both 13, I knew she was going to be accomplished.  She wasn’t flashy, or overtly ambitious, or anything like that.  She seemed to me to be supremely determined, and focused.  She set herself a goal, met it, and moved on to the next goal, with the quiet assurance of someone who knew what she wanted to do.  It was not the whole of her personality by any means, but it seemed to me her defining characteristic.

So when I heard she died from lung cancer at the start of December, I tried to think back to the last time I’d seen her.  We went to school together until the eighth grade, and after that I saw her…I saw her after that, didn’t I?

Didn’t I?

Apparently not, at least not enough to make any significant impression.  And I wanted to know this woman who had once been my friend, so I went looking for something about her.  A Google search turned up remarkably little.  There were the “Is this you” web sites that are generated automatically for just about anyone.  There was her obituary, and a few different links to the guest book associated with it.  The only thing that could really be said to be about her was an online resume.  But somehow, it told all the story I needed.

She graduated from college in 1993, which means she got through high school or college a year faster than she was supposed to.  Then she spent a year at Chiba University in Japan.  Two years in an import/export business, then spent five as a professional translator, while dabbling in Architecture at the City College of New York.  Then back to import/export, working with a metallurgy company.  A single line sticks out: “Supply-chain logistics management of…hazardous goods.”

By the start of 2007, she was back at school, at USC, studying Urban Planning.  She got her Master’s Degree and spent a year with the LA Community Redevelopment Agency.

On May 17, 2008, she wrote “Naomi Matsunobu is seeking full-time employment in Urban Planning/Design.”  That was the final update.

I have questions of course; too many to list.  I could probably find people who would be able to give me the answers, but even if they didn’t have other things on their mind right now, it would be like reading an encyclopedia.  I could learn about her history, but I wouldn’t know her any better than I do right now.  But what the resume brought home for me was that despite all the years, my memories of my friend were still correct: she set her goals, met them or exceeded them, and then moved on to the next, deliberately and without fanfare.

I cannot say that I knew the woman who died earlier this month, because it had been too long since we spoke.  But my memories of the girl who would grow into that woman leave me no doubt that I am the poorer for not keeping her as a friend.

Goodbye, Naomi.

There are a couple more of these I need to write, about people who were important to me, both for myself and for the others they left behind, who should know–should have long since known–what they meant to me and did for me.  But first, I think, I need to track down some people who I’ve been sure I’d hear from again eventually.


And, we’re back!

So much for it being a transparent process.

I was just about ready to move my sites to the new provider when I got an email from my old provider, saying that my sites had been hacked because I was using an old version of WordPress, and that if I wanted them back, I needed to upgrade.

Of course, part of the reason I was moving them was because I couldn’t upgrade WordPress without upgrading the database, and they didn’t give me a easy way to upgrade the database.

Then there was a whole series of things on the part of the new provider that made the process of transitioning a little more difficult than it should have been.  Nothing bad really, just lots of little things.  Plus, despite getting a flu shot, I seem to have the flu.  So it sat for a while.

But we’re back!  If you’re one of the few people who had an account here before, it’s gone.  Fortunately, that’s not too big a deal.  As you can see from the sidebar, you can now log in with a variety of other accounts to make comments.  Your Google, Yahoo, LiveJournal, LinkedIn, Twitter, or OpenID account will work–or at least it should; let me know if you have any issues.   Unfortunately, the free version of the plugin I’m using only lets you select a few providers, but doesn’t let you change the graphic, so you can’t use all the services pictured there.  Working on that.

If I should write anything you find interesting, you should also be able to automatically share it on Twitter with a little button at the bottom.

jbhelfrich.com is still down, but I think I’ll be moving that content to www.helfrich.us anyway, if I can just find a way to get it out of the current site.  We’ll see.

EDIT: OK, so the original Twitter thing wasn’t working, but the new one is.  Now to see if I can make those extra icons go away.

EDIT2: And now the extra icons are dealt with.  You’d think I play with web pages for a living or something.


Papers please

Since a couple people have asked, after some comments I made here and there…

Yes, we did get married. All official like and everything. The bribes offered by the State and Federal government (in the form of tax breaks and less hassle explaining that I could handle medical decisions) were too much incentive. It overwhelmed my distaste for the institution. I don’t believe the government has any business regulating the relationships of two (or more) consenting adults, or even registering them beyond the bare minimum necessary to deal with bureaucratic needs. I disagree with the benefits of the registration, if you’re going to give any, being unevenly applied. And I strongly believe that if you feel you need some sort of legal protection to mingle finances or households or have kids with someone, you shouldn’t be doing those things with or without that protection. Yeah, I know, things go bad, people aren’t who you thought they were, whatever. Even I have my moments of idealism.

We didn’t mention it at the time because of how much I dislike the institution. And I’m still not going to mention the date on the certificate, because it is, in all honesty, nothing more than paperwork as far as I’m concerned. (Plus, it brings back bad memories of dealing with Ohio’s stupid rules and regulations, which seem designed to make everything as difficult as possible. I needed a birth certificate to trade my Colorado license for an Ohio one, because apparently it’s easy to forge out of state licenses, but pieces of paper from the 70’s are ironclad documents. I’m convinced they got a grant to treat bureaucracy as a performance art and forgot to stop.)

I have taken some crap for not mentioning it, though, so if you’re the sort of person inclined to observe such things, November 19th is the date that’s always been more important to me, as it is the anniversary of the conversation that started this whole roller coaster ride. That actually makes this our fourth anniversary.

If you’re the type to throw money at these sorts of things, there’s the usual gift lists. Or you can get something from our Gluten Free Kitchen gift list, since that means a lot of cooking and a lot of expensive flour. But you can also let the day pass without comment, it if suits you.


I’ll be moving this site and jbhelfrich.com to a new host over the next couple weeks. Not that there’s much going on or anything, but given that, I shouldn’t be paying as much as I am for webhosting.

It should be transparent and all that, once it’s done, though there may be some short downtime when I actually move the domain.


From The Wires – August 11, 2010


From The Wires – June 7, 2010


From The Wires – June 2, 2010


From The Wires – May 9, 2010


From The Wires – May 6, 2010