stusegal: (Stu & Rashmi)

Rashmika and I went to the new (to us) Yankee Stadium on Memorial Day.   

The short version is – the weather was beautiful, the stadium and the whole Yankees experience was amazing, and in the course of the game we got to see Alex Rodriquez hit a Grand Slam! 

And the full story is . . . .  )
stusegal: (Show some respect!)

In this journal I usually write about scifi, cars or politics.  I don’t think I’ve ever written about our children - daughter, the Honorable Judge Samantha L. Segal, or son, Hugo Award winner Stephen H. Segal.  (It should be noted that even though they’re both in their 30’s, I still feel compelled to give them equal billing, so no one grows up feeling either favored or slighted).

But I know many of you, or you know me, as a result of either Stephen & I attending WorldCon for so many years, or as a result of you knowing Stephen as the editor of Weird Tales.  So today I’m writing about Steve.

By now you’ve likely seen the news  -  Stephen will be starting a new job, in a different city, in a couple weeks.  He’s joining Quirk Books in Philadelphia as their Acquisitions Editor.  Their publishing business has grown to the point that acquisitions can no longer be the part-time domain of their management team; they need a dedicated professional to acquire the best properties for them.  I’m sure in his quest to find the right properties Stephen will have the opportunity to work not only with well known authors, but with young fresh talent, something he has always enjoyed.

This means, of course, he’ll no longer be the Editorial Director at Weird Tales.  WT is, fortunately, blessed with extraordinary people . . . . publisher John Betancourt for whom WT is a labor of love, Editor Emeritus George Scithers, and their fantastic fiction editor, Ann Vandermeer.  Stephen will stay involved as their senior contributing editor (you may have already seen the Press Release from Weird Tales).

From a Father’s perspective, cheering from the sidelines of his kid’s life, Stephen’s experience at WT has been terrific.  Winning the Hugo with Weird Tales is the unplanned result of a largely uncharted journey we began when Stephen was a youngster, becoming a 4 year old Star Wars fan in a house filled with piles of science fiction books and a TV filled with Nimoy and Shatner.  Let’s not forget, Steve and I have been attending conventions for decades.   The idea that he might someday work in the field was something that never entered my mind (nor do I think it entered his mind until adulthood).

We met Isaac Asimov at our first NY Star Trek Convention, and spoke briefly with him about Stephen’s aspirations to be a writer.  Did I have any clue that Steve might someday share the honor of being the recipient of a Hugo Award with Dr. Asimov?  I have always had the high hopes and dreams that all parents have  -  but unlike most parents I’ve had the pleasure of seeing those dreams realized . . . actually, exceeded.

So Stephen moving on is, to me, bittersweet.  While he will still be involved with WT, he will no longer be the public figure you see at conventions promoting the magazine.  Does this mean you won’t see Steve or I at conventions  -  NO!  Long before Weird Tales or Hugos, we were going to Worldcons, and that won’t change.

What I suppose will change is . . . . we will no longer be able to be there incognito, and fade into the crowd as we did for so many years.  Some of you who attend Worldcon may have always wondered about the “coincidence” of “This is Not a Door” following us around the world.  (We thought it was hilarious).

So while Stephen will no longer be Mr. Weird Tales, he and I will continue to be what we think is the only father and son who take their annual trip to Worldcon (yes, I know most fathers take their sons fishing, or hunting, or to Talladega or the Superbowl . . . . but we want to go where it’s fun).  Yes, he and I make the trek every year, painful as it must be for our wives to be left behind and not attend an SF Con with us.  And I laugh more that week than I do all year  -  and when it’s over, I start counting the weeks until the next Worldcon.

So look for us at Worldcon.  Steve will be doing something with up and coming authors, and you can find me at 9AM at Stroll With The Stars.  (Just for clarification . . . this year we’ll be at Dragon*Con and will not be in Melbourne . . . . so look for us this year in Atlanta, and next year, 2011 in RENO!)  And wish Stephen good luck in his new job!

stusegal: (Default)
Sept 11, 2009 - today we lost Vito. Rather than dwell on the battle against declining health made by this stoic dog, I’d like to tell you how he affected so many people over the years:

We adopted Vito, a 145 lb. bullmastiff with a head the size of a basketball, at age 2½ . So fierce looking that people would cross the street rather than approach him, so fierce looking that delivery people would start up our front steps then stop when they saw him sitting inside the house behind the storm door.

But we found out in short order that Vito liked everyone. I mean everyone - people, dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels. (In seven years we never heard him growl – not once). Over the years we learned he had a special affinity for people who are old/infirmed and children. He somehow comprehended people’s frailties, and when he was with an old person or a child he was always on perfect behavior, never knocking into an older person, and never objecting when a child would hang on him, or pull his ears, or stick their fingers in his nose or mouth.

Vito met hundreds of people over the years, because we took him to either the park, or Main Street, every day - - and he’d meet strangers. Dog lovers were fascinated with him and would want to say hi, and non-dog lovers and people who were afraid of dogs would often inquire (or we would ask them if they wanted to say hello). There were an enormous number of people who were skeptical or scared, who approached and petted Vito after being assured by us that it was safe, who learned that big fierce-looking dogs are not necessarily what they thought. I just can’t describe the feeling of watching Vito win them over.

And then there was the Therapy work. My Mother became terminally ill in late 2003, and it became very obvious that Vito understood her situation and wanted to comfort her. So obvious in fact that I decided to take him for the Therapy Dog Certification Exam as I thought he might be able to bring a little happiness and comfort to other terminally ill people.

So I read about the certification process and registered for the exam. Let me tell you, while the certification isn’t hard, it does require a dog that is extremely obedient - much more so than a normal housepet or companion dog, more like the obedience expected from trained K9 dogs. The reason of course is that these dogs are expected to go into sickrooms, hospitals and convalescent centers and not wreak havoc either intentionally or unintentionally. So I showed up, and here I was with a bunch of people and trainers who had obviously put their dogs through extensive training and were warming them up putting them through practice exercises. I, on the other hand, sat down next to Vito, looked him in the eyes and gently told him to just look and listen to me, and to stay calm. I don’t want to brag about how Vito’s behavior put to shame all the trained dogs, but it did. Somehow he knew it was important to pass this exam, and he performed flawlessly.

Which led to visiting terminal patients and their families at the Barbara E. Cheung Hospice. Vito went twice a week – he would visit the nurses station, then go bed to bed (he would go into each room and check to see if anyone was in the beds) visiting patients. Truth is, most patients at the hospice were in their final days, and were heavily medicated. But occasionally he would have a tremendous impact on the family members, who were there on what was basically a “deathwatch”, and were tired, stressed, sad. I could tell when it was about to happen because I would see some family member, slumped in a chair, who would make eye contact with Vito, and their face would just light up (after all, the last thing anyone expects to see in a hospice is a big friendly bullmastiff). Which would usually lead to them getting down on the floor and spending a half hour patting Vito and talking about their dog or maybe dogs they used to have. And for that half hour or so they would be transported away from their deathwatch to a place where they were just happy to be with big Vito.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. Vito enriched the lives of hundreds of people. The loss to Rashmika and I, and the ones closest to us, is more than you can imagine.

For more photos and info about Vito, see: Vito’s Webpage

At age 2 ½ Vito was diagnosed with a number of serious orthopedic issues, including hip dysplasia, a condition which usually prevents dogs from living a full life. Under the guidance and treatment of our friend, veterinarian Kurt Blaicher, Vito lived a long, happy life, making it to the ripe old age of 9 ½, very old for a bullmastiff; I’m sure without Kurt this would not have been so.

There are several organizations which helped Vito and/or with which he was involved. If anyone would like to make a donation in memory of Vito those organizations are:

Rawhide Rescue - who rescued Vito and placed him with us.

University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School - who provided specialized health support for Vito.

Therapy Dogs International – who certified and insured Vito as a Therapy Dog.

Visiting Nurses Association of Central Jersey - who do amazing work supporting Hospice patients, and
                                                                    who even let 140 pound bullmastiffs volunteer to help their patients.

Humane Society of the United States – who fight every day for humane treatment of animals.

stusegal: (Stu & Rashmi)

I love carving the bird, but not so much for culinary reasons.  Years ago, my cousins Dave & Miriam Witten gave Rashmika and I the carving tools you see on our table. 

Dave, who was actually my Mom’s eldest first cousin, was a Captain in the elite Army Ranger battalion, Merrill’s Marauders.  (This was the only Army Ranger battalion active in WWII, and has the rare distinction that every soldier in the battalion was awarded a Bronze Star).  The unit was assigned to “deep penetration”, their mission being to engage enemy troops in Burma.

Dave brought home the carving tools, and the beautiful peacock handled serving tools, from India.  When he and Miriam moved to Washington, DC (in, I think, 1991) they made a gift of these to Rashmika and I.  Whenever we use them I think of Dave and Miriam, two of the sweetest, most cultured people I ever knew.

And a side note, Dave is the first person I ever knew who ever told me he was going to be cremated.  This was clearly not the norm for Jewish people, and certainly not for people of Dave’s generation.  (As I recall, Dave was the oldest of the cousins and was actually about the age of my Grandmother, born around 1910.)  So I asked him about it, about not having a headstone, and I’ll always remember what he said  -  not a quote, but it was something like  -  I’ll be happy knowing people think of me kindly sometimes.  Rashmika and I think fondly of Dave and Miriam - the music, the bread - and were enriched and influenced by them.

Then of course there’s the other Thanksgiving tradition, the Absinthe.  OK, I’ll admit it’s not exactly an established tradition  -  what with Absinthe being banned in the U.S. for 92 years, and just being legalized again in 2007.  But Rashmika, David and I are going to establish this as a family tradition, starting today  -  we’ll let you know how it goes.


stusegal: (VITO)
It is with great sadness we must say goodbye to our friend, Ingela Levett.

We met Ingela in the fall of 2002, when we adopted big Vito from Rawhide Rescue.  Apparently Rawhide went to NYC to get Vito from the Animal Shelter and brought him to NJ to find him a home.  He has been with us 6 years, is the sweetest most obedient dog you can imagine, and in 2006 he earned his Therapy Dog Certification  -  which allows him to go to the Hospice and Nursing Home to visit people.  (Nothing like a 140 pound bullmastiff to bring a smile.)

Without Ingela, it would not have been.  Without Ingela, the 2,000+ dogs she rescued between 2001 and today may have been euthanized in shelters.  Without Ingela, a certain autistic child I know might not have his furry friend.

Rashmika and I grew to know Ingela over the past 6 years.  She devoted every waking hour to Rawhide Rescue.  No matter how tired, or ill, she might be she was never too tired to rescue one more dog.

Ingela's devotion is what inspired us to do our annual "Ride For Rawhide"; how could we not help her to raise the money she needed to rescue and care for these dogs?

For a long time, I didn't really know Ingela had a life before Rawhide Rescue; I just assumed she had always done this.  I didn't know she was the Information Management Director at Bristol Myers Squibb, where she worked for 30 years; but when I learned that it made sense - the drive, the organizational skills, the people skills.  After retirement, she founded Rawhide Rescue.

Ingela went into the hospital a few weeks back, having been diagnosed with lukemia.  Apparently, in the hospital, she contracted a staph infection, then pneumonia, and passed away this morning.

Countless dogs and families are a living testament to Ingela's efforts.  I greatly admire the impact she has had on so many; who am I to judge, but it sure seems like a life well spent.  I will miss her dearly.

Ingela's Obituary & Funeral Arrangements
The family has asked for donations to Rawhide Rescue in lieu of flowers or other gifts.


Sep. 29th, 2008 09:58 am
stusegal: (Default)
So I woke up this morning in a sweat, as I had just been fired.

I was still working for "The Bank".  Oddly, it must have been Guarantee Bank, , as I had been fired by my boss,  Jay Bradway (odd, because Guarantee was sold in the 80's, and Jay had ridden into the sunset with his millions).  And since he refused to see me I was worrying about how I was going to survive, pay the bills . . . .

As I slowly came awake I realized  - - - HEY WAIT JUST A MINUTE - - I DON'T EVEN HAVE A JOB!!! - - HOW CAN I BE FIRED??!!   But strangely it left me with a feeling of uneasiness the whole day.
stusegal: (Big Ol' Dinosaur)
FINALLY! - yesterday we took the top off the car for the first time this year!

Funny, because we've had a pretty nice summer, but there's been showers every day or two all summer . . . and what I like to do is take the top off and leave it off.  So this is the first forecast we've had for a week of sunshine.

I loaded up the sound system with Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, Don Henley, etc.

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Since I sort of retired, at a relatively young age 7 years ago, this is a question I’ve been asked many times and . . .funny thing . . . it’s hard to answer.  I’m seem busy, but what do I do?

Sometimes people ask me this question at a time, or in a way, that makes the question accusatory.  For instance, if I'm dealing with a specific issue, the asking may imply that I have too much time on my hands – and that it must be my “spare time” that’s really the issue.

Truth is, I’ve been asked so many times that I started to wonder if in fact I do have too much time on my hands . . . which made me decide to get to the bottom of this . . . . 

stusegal: (Default)

The photo on the left is me and Steve at Wicked Faire in NJ last weekend (you can see Steve in the mirror taking the picture)
The photo on the right is me in 1967, wearing the same suit.  My Dad sent me out to get a suit, and since the Beatles and Stones looked so cool I bought this double-breasted British cut suit like they were wearing on Carnaby Street.

When I got home last weekend I looked at the photo and I realized the suit was older than my son - who happens to be a grown thirtysomething.   My question is - - - is it OK to be wearing a 41 year old suit, or should I just burn everything over, say, 5 years old?

stusegal: (Rebel With A Cause)
First we had no fall  -  then winter started early about a month ago, and we've had either bitter cold or some kind of frozen precipitation for maybe 4 wks.  Add to that, I've been a bit under the weather since our return from WorldCon Japan  - - which means I've hardly been on a bike since August.

Well today it was 45 deg and sunny, so I decided Rashmika's Buell needed to be ridden since it's been sitting for a month.  I took it out for about 45 minutes - felt so good that when I got home I fired up the Ducati and took that out.  Well, that 150hp chuga-chuga v-twin felt so good that when I got home I fired up the BMW and took that out for a ride.

Amazing how good a ride on a motorcycle can make you feel.  Amazing how gooder 3 rides makes you feel.    [profile] frankwu just posted his thoughts on how depressing winter is due to the lack of color - I agree, but offer the short-term cure . . . go for a ride! (or whatever is analogous for you)
stusegal: (longspringer)

“20 years, where’d it go?. .20 years, I don’t know”    (Bob Seger)

On Sunday, Fathers Day, it’ll be 20 years since at the tender age of 37, out of the blue, I had a heart attack.  A life-altering event . . . . .the Doctors didn’t know if I’d live through the night  -  I spent a month in the hospital  -  then I spent 6 months recovering at home.

 . . . . . .but the world was upside down.  My “lifestyle” was gone. . . I suddenly had to deal with  unpleasant restrictions (diet, exercise, medications, doctor visits, testing) that seemed to affect every aspect of my life.

But even more impactful was. . . . my values had changed.  Suddenly things that had been very important were meaningless, and things I never took time to consider took on great importance.  I never thought about “quality of life” or what it meant, because I was just living my life, and never really  thought about life ending.  Put in the perspective of a finite amount of time, suddenly how I spent it became paramount.

Thursday nights at the Chess Club, which I had done for years, ended. . . .what did it matter who won a chess game or tournament?. . . .As a matter of fact, I have not played a single game of chess in the last 20 years, even though it was an integral part of my life up until the day of the heart attack.

The remainder of my life suddenly became important to me, and I stopped drifting through life and squandering my time.  Unfortunately, developing direction affected people around me as some of the change I had to make was very fundamental and deeply affected family.  Very tough in the short term, very positive in the long term. . . unfortunately we don’t live in the “long term”, and sometimes only feel the pain in the short term.

I really didn’t expect to live a year after the heart attack. . . I felt another heart attack was inevitable.  Or, if not, then I expected the coronary artery disease to become crippling.  While there have been effects of the disease, it has been kept under control, and I’ve now got through 20 years. . . .without having one piece of Black Forest cake, or a banana split, or a single cigarette.  But what I have had is some focus on what’s truly important. . . .relationships with loved ones, helping those in need, and spiritual peace.

It’s been a good 20 years.  I’ll never know, but somehow I suspect that absent the heart attack I would have continued blundering through life headfirst, and never developed the relationships which now shape my life.  I guess I’ll never be able to say the heart attack was beneficial to me, given the physical limitations it caused. . . . .but where would my life had gone without the realization of mortality it caused  20 years ago?

stusegal: (Default)

Some of you may remember when I left banking in the mid '90s, and my friend Tom & I opened the most dramatic Harley-Davidson dealership in the NY Metro area, Liberty Harley-Davidson.  Then in 2000 I sold my half to Tom, retired, and attempted to stay home, play with motorcycles, dogs, sci-fi, etc.

. . . . then, in 2003 my friends Dan & Ray convinced me I should be "semi-retired" and become one of the Managing Partners of the Metro Group, and at Thanksgiving 2004 we opened the largest Honda store in the US, Sport Honda Powerhouse.  After about 4 years of all the craziness that goes with new businesses, I decided once again it was to to focus on those often-forgotten priorities that really are what life is all about. . . . like riding my bike, hanging out with Vito, working on the family web page, etc.

. . . . then, completely unexpectedly about a week ago an unsolicited opportunity crashed through my front door.  As it turned out, it really wasn't a great opportunity, just another opportunity to do more of what I have been trying to retire from.

But it's starting to appear that every time I decide to go home and take it easy, something unavoidable (or is it irresistible?) crashes through my roof.  How come?  Am I the only one who can't seem to have a quiet life - or do I subconsciously attract these situations to avoid the quiet life?

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Things my Mother taught me:

  • Go with your instinct - your 1st answer is always right.  I think of her every time I change my correct Jeopardy answer.
  • Wet the bowl 'round the edge and the Saran Wrap will stick.  Why's it work - ?? - - I just know it does.
  • Parallel parking - I hear her voice in my head every time I cut the wheel.  She could really drive, and she taught us all how to park.

Am I the only one who thinks of my Mom when I do these little everyday things?   It's strange, the things that make us think of others  -  are there certain activities, places or times that make you think of  departed loved ones?  Is it the activities, or the places, that  are the strongest  triggers for these memories?

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Probably very few of the attendees came in the way I did, on the PATH train from NJ.

Unbelievably, PATH has rebuilt their World Trade Center station  -  especially unbelievable as there is no World Trade Center, and absolutely surrealistic as the PATH train comes IN TO the giant hole which is Ground Zero.

As the train comes in, you realize you are IN the crater where the WTC once stood.  The photo below is taken from the PATH platform, which is about 40-50 ft below street level.  There are several layers of metal grids and screens, some fine enough as to not be picked up by the camera, protecting people on the platform from construction activities on the site, which is why there is a "hazy" look to everything in the crater.

To stand on that platform and look into that crater where once the WTC stood, that once-upon-a-time I would go through daily, and to remember how on many days I (a kid from a small town) would as an adult look up in wonder at those giant twin towers . . . . and now to see the enormous hole in the ground, the hordes of people like myself looking on with mouths agape, the giant "May We Never Forget" plaque at Engine Company #10 across the street  -  it just brings tears to your eyes and pain to your heart.

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At the urging of some friends - and out of an inner need for some form of “bully pulpit” - I’ve decided to commit some thoughts on an ongoing basis to a Live Journal (or blog). It is not necessarily my intent to make daily entries, but I find there are times that I am hit with thoughts that are so compelling, or enlightening, or epiphanal that perhaps they should be shared.

Things like:
  • Is modern life more enlightening than life in the past, or is it by its’ very nature more insulating?
  • Everyone should have at least one day in a 450HP car or on a Superbike.
  • The delicate balance between staying fit and injuring yourself trying.
  • Will todays' art, music, literature survive, and. . . . does it matter?

As I’ve aged I’ve become more convinced that my opinions about certain things are, and have always been, right - but about other things age has brought new understanding. Certainly the world of ‘07 is a vastly different, infinitely more intimate, place than when I got here in 1949 - the question is, and has always been, are we moving in the direction of a better world, or are we just moving?

Stu. . . . .5/3/07

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