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I’m proud of my daughter, Morgan.

This weekend, Morgan’s Girl Scout Troop received a Bronze Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve. To earn a Bronze Award, Girl Scouts must plan and perform a project that improves the community. Morgan’s Girl Scout Troop worked with a local pet shelter to create blankets for the animals and volunteered their time walking dogs at the shelter.

It makes me proud when my kids think about people other than themselves. I love that Morgan and her friends worked to make Yukon a little better place to live.

I’m also proud of my son, Mason.

Last week, on Monday, Mason learned that his school was having basketball tryouts beginning that afternoon. With only a few hours notice, Mason decided to try out anyway.

Mason tried out against forty or fifty other kids, many of whom currently play basketball for the school. After two days of tryouts he was informed he didn’t make the team. With zero time to prepare for the tryouts, Mason was hoping his YMCA basketball skills would get him chosen. It didn’t work out.

Some of Mason’s classmates made fun of him for even trying.

It makes me proud when my kids try to do things, even if those things are outside of their capabilities or comfort zone. It took a lot of guts for Mason to show up to basketball tryouts and perform in front of a bunch of kids and coaches he didn’t even know, especially with no time to prepare.

I am equally proud of both of my kids. They make it pretty easy to feel that way.

I recently cataloged all of my old Commodore 64 diskettes using DirMaster from Style (highly recommended). While browsing through the list of programs, one title jumped out at me: MAGIT MANSION. That particular title jumped out at me for three reasons: one, because it was located on disk 001 (my very first disk); two, because even though it was located on the front side of the first disk in my collection, somehow I had no memory of ever playing it; and three, somebody didn’t know how to spell MAGGOT.

I fired the game up in an emulator and typed RUN. “Welcome to MAGGIT MANSION,” the screen declared. Great. Not only could the author not spell the word MAGGOT, he couldn’t misspell it the same way twice. Obviously the game was a text adventure, and a primitive looking one at that.

The game begins with the player in the most trite of text adventure locations, the front porch of a haunted house. The last line (“YOU SEE A DOOR HERE.”) prompted me to type “OPEN DOOR”. I did, and soon found myself inside the mansion’s foyer, with options of going west to the living room or east to the kitchen. I decided to head east to check out the kitchen first. While it’s a matter of personal preference, I tend to find that authors of text adventures (especially beginning ones) like to hide needed objects in their virtual kitchens.

Inside the game’s kitchen I was greeted by a floating knife. This scenario immediately set off mental alarms for me. I have spoken and written many times about an identical scenario in Haunted House, a game I played as a child on our TRS-80. The solution in that game, as deceptively simple as it seems, was GET KNIFE. After typing that same command in this game, the game responded with “YOU NOW HAVE THE KNIFE” before unceremoniously dumping me out into BASIC.

That was rude. Let’s try this again.

“WELCOME TO MAGIT MANSION…”

(Yeah, yeah, yeah…)

Thinking there might be more to do outside the house, instead of opening the door I typed “OPEN MAILBOX” and hit enter. (Authors of text adventures also love hiding things in mailboxes.) But instead of interacting with the mailbox, I got the exact same response as before and was automatically moved into the foyer of Magit Mansion. Huh. Again I entered the kitchen to face the enchanted knife. Instead of attempting to take the knife this time, I decided to examine it closer.

“> LOOK KNIFE” [enter].

“YOU NOW HAVE THE KNIFE.”
“READY.”

Seriously, what the hell?

A quick examination of the BASIC code explained the game’s multiple issues: I wrote it.

10 REM MAGIT MANSION
20 BY ROBBIE O’HARA

Upon digging into the code a bit further I found that my “text adventure” wasn’t a text adventure at all. Anything you type while standing on the front porch moves you to inside the house. Entering any room but the kitchen crashes the game, and any command entered within the kitchen takes the knife.

To quote Luke Skywalker’s initial opinion of the Millennium Falcon: “What a piece of junk!” And while Han was quick to defend his ship’s honor, I cannot do the same with MAGIT MANSION. Not only was it incomplete and riddled with misspellings (including the first word of the title), but it wasn’t even a game.

I estimate I wrote MAGIT MANSION back in 1985 or 1986. I graduated high school in 1991. Over the past 20 years I’ve written lots of useful programs, and in 2011 I even wrote my own text adventure. I’ve come a long way since MAGIT MANSION.

You know what they say: fake it until you make it. Take it from me… it works.

This post is for a subset of a subset of my audience; as such, I’ll keep it brief.

I’m currently recording five different podcasts: You Don’t Know Flack (my retro-tech/story podcast), Sprite Castle (my Commodore 64-themed podcast), No Quarter (an arcade-themed podcast), Throwback Reviews (an 80s movie podcast), and Rusted Metal (an 80s heavy metal podcast). Links to each one of these shows can be found on the left hand side of this website (under the heading “My Podcasts”).

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SUBSCRIBE TO ALL FIVE PODCASTS, I have created a new “consolidated” RSS feed. The feeds from all my shows, and any future shows I end up doing, funnel into this one single feed.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/robohara-podcasts (RSS)
Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/robohara-podcasts/id989487448 (iTunes)

Again, I realize that (a) not everyone who reads my blog also listens to my podcasts, and (b) those of you who do may not necessarily be interested in ALL those shows, but for those of you who do and are, subscribing to this new feed is a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything. Those who subscribe to the “catch all” feed may find a few audio surprised here and there along the way. :)

As I recently mentioned, on the on the day of the Alfred P. Murrah bombing I had already turned in my two weeks notice at Best Buy. The bombing took place on April 19, 1995 (a Wednesday), and I started the Monday after that at the FAA. The Monday after the bombing would have been April 24th, which means…

Today is my 20th anniversary with the FAA.

Back in February I wrote about my first day of work at the FAA. As I mentioned in that post, my first job with the FAA was on a national Help Desk. The company that originally hired me was JDL. Back then the Help Desk contract was bid on a year-to-year basis, so there was no guarantee that the same company would be awarded the contract the following year. And if they didn’t retain the contract, there was no guarantee you would get a job with the new company. I was hired during the 8th month of a 12 month contract, and based on what I was told I assumed I would have a job for around five months. Even so, for those five months I would be making almost twice as much as I was bringing home at Best Buy.

As expected, JDL lost the contract at the end of the summer. About the time I had my desk packed up, the new company (Advancia) offered me a raise if I would stay. So, I did. I worked for them for a year before they lost the contract. The next company (BTG) offered me a raise if I would stay. So, I did. Again.

One of the first projects I worked on was physically upgrading workstations. A minimum baseline had been set (a 386 processor with 8 megs of RAM, a 540 MB hard drive. and a 3-COM network card) and every workstation in our organization that didn’t meant those requirements had to be upgraded. This was done by sending small teams of two or three people out to every office across the country and physically performing the upgrades. Within those first 18 months of working there I had spent weeks in Atlanta, Minnesota, Phoenix, St. Louis, and Spokane.

Our part of the FAA was expanding, and word got out that federal jobs were opening for those willing to move. Bryan took a job in San Francisco. Bob took a job in Atlanta.

I took a job in Spokane, Washington.

With help from friends and family, Susan and I packed up our belongings and moved 1,800 miles northwest to Spokane. Susan worked briefly at a local gym before getting hired on by the FAA as well. We were both twenty-three years old. By the spring of 1998 both of us were so lonely and homesick that we decided to move back to Oklahoma. I quit my federal position and was rehired by Advancia in Oklahoma as a contractor back on the same old Help Desk. Susan was able to transfer to another federal position in Oklahoma, and kept her government status.

I worked for Advancia until they lost the contract. Then I worked for one part of Lockheed Martin, and then a different part of Lockheed Martin. It wasn’t until 2009 that I was able to find another federal position within the FAA. I worked for a security group before transferring back to my old job in 2010. Things have changed so much since then and continue to change. I worked in a security department for a while doing security scans. I worked as a domain administrator and enterprise administrator over the network. But mostly, I worked as a jack of all trades, doing what I could for whoever needed help. Some jobs, positions and tasks have been more fun and rewarding than others. Overall, I’ve had fun.

I lost track of all the places I’ve visited for work. Aside from the cities mentioned earlier, off the top of my head I can recall trips to (working roughly west to east): Boise, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tempe, Cheyenne, Denver, Kansas City, D/FW, San Antonio, Baton Rouge, Greensboro, South Bend, Chicago, Columbia, Raleigh, Pittsburgh, New York City, and of course Washington DC — not to mention all the states and cities I’ve visited while traveling to and from those cities. Simply mentioning some of those places doesn’t do them justice. I’ve been to Chicago probably half a dozen times over the years, and D.C. at least a dozen.

I’ve met a lot of great people and made a lot of good friends over the past 20 years. I’ve also drank ungodly amounts of alcohol. If it survives until I retire, I hope someday they name a conference room after my liver. I’ve seen, done, and been through some crazy stuff, from making changes on the fly to 60,000 user accounts to sitting at home during a federal furlough watching CNN day after day, wondering if I was going to be able to make my house payment or not. Oh, and there was that time I accidentally deleted the FAA Administrator’s account…

When I started on the Help Desk back in 1995 there were ten analysts (including myself), two leads, and two support staff. Of those, four (Carol, Johnny, Ron, and myself) remain. Some of the old timers are still around. A lot of them have retired. A few of them died.

I work from home most days now, so I spend a lot of time alone. Even when I go into the office I only encounter one or two co-workers at most. Most of my work is performed virtually and remotely with people who aren’t even in the same state as I am, so there won’t be a big cake waiting for me at the office today (which is good; I’m off work today). The government’s not real big on that sort of thing, anyway. And because I worked for so many different contract companies, there’s nobody that really knows my start date anyway. Even though I’ve been with the FAA for 20 years as of today, I only received my “five years of service pin” last year.

When I took that first Help Desk position I had no idea this job would last more than five months, much less twenty years. Things have changed so much in the past twenty years. It will be interesting to see what the future holds.

The week of April 19, 1995 was my last week at Best Buy. I had turned in my two weeks notice the week prior, and was set to start my new job at the FAA the following week.

I mostly worked evenings at Best Buy, so it was not uncommon for me to still be in bed at 9am. Susan and I were living in a mobile home off of NW 10th and Morgan Road — 10 miles from the Alfred P. Murrah building.

I was laying in bed when I heard my bedroom windows begin to rattle. It felt like a city garbage truck was idling right outside my home. I didn’t think much about it until I realized that our trash normally ran on Tuesday, not Wednesday. I rolled over and peeked out the window, but didn’t see anything.

Now awake, I went to the living room and turned on the television. Reporters were already reporting that “something” had happened downtown — they just didn’t know what yet. I stuck my head out the front door and saw the black plume of smoke rising from downtown for the first time.

I went back to the living room and for some reason, stuck a blank VHS tape in the VCR and hit record.

At that same time, Susan was working at a medical supply company. Her building was six miles away from the Alfred P. MUrrah building. She said that she was sitting at the front desk when the blinds in the front windows all swung away from the window and then crashed back into the glass. She and her co-workers went outside to investigate as they were sure “a truck had hit our building.” A few minutes later, a spouse of one of her co-workers called the office to tell them “something bad had happened downtown” and to “start getting medical supplies ready.”

For most of the day I sat at home by myself, watching the drama unfold in real time. There were so many bits of misinformation released that day. Early on, authorities were on the search for Middle Eastern men. There was also the moment when authorities found, or at least thought they found, a second device. The official explanation was that the second device was a training device that had originally been in the building. There was a lot of confusion that morning.

I went to work that evening. Best Buy was one of the donation centers. We had gathered flashlights and batteries from the store to donate, and customers were dropping off boots and cases of water and a few other items. We had a wooden pallet at work full of those things. I don’t remember if someone picked them up or if someone dropped it off downtown.

During that time I was spending a lot of time of IRC (internet chat). I logged in and began relaying information. This was before almost anyone had a cell phone — and even if they did, the phones were so jacked up that it was almost impossible to get a call connected. I sat on IRC for days, relaying information back and forth to people in other parts of the country.

The week after the bombing, I reported for work at the FAA. It has never been lost on me that like many of the people who were killed that day, I too am a federal worker. Most of those people had absolutely nothing to do with Timothy McVeigh’s vendetta against the government. I’m quite sure the 19 kids that were killed in the daycare didn’t.

It didn’t take long before people began hearing names of victims that they recognized. My second-cousin worked in the daycare of the Alfred P. Murrah building and was killed. A classmate’s father was also killed in the blast. More than that, throughout the years we’ve met many people who were survivors of the blast. Susan has two or three co-workers who were in the Murrah building that day. I worked with a guy for a while who told me he was trapped in the building for hours after the explosion and actually made a tourniquet out of a network cable to stop his leg from bleeding before he was rescued.

I’ve taken friends visiting from out of town down to the Murrah Memorial a few times. Every time, it’s hard. Every time I stand in front of those 168 chairs that represent the 168 people who died that day, I get choked up. Every time I stand in front of those 19 smaller chairs that represent the children that died in the daycare, I lose it. I’ve been through the museum next door exactly once. I recommend everybody go through it. If you’re interested, I’ll pay your way and drop you off at the door. I don’t think I could do it again.

Sometimes when we go downtown Susan points out the church across the street from the Murrah building. She had gone down there four days before the bombing to find out about having our wedding there. We were going to get married in that church and have our reception in Leadership Square. That obviously didn’t happen.

They say “time heals all wounds.” I don’t know that it does. With no real direct connection to the explosion, I still feel sad when I go down to the memorial. I still get choked up when they talk about the kids that were killed. Oklahoma City is much different than it was 20 years ago. The MAPS project revitalized Bricktown. We now have the OKC Thunder. But even though downtown Oklahoma City may look different, nobody who lives here will ever forget what it looked and felt like downtown 20 years ago.

April 19. 9:02 AM.

I think I get choked up more easily than I used to. I definitely get choked up more often than I used to. One thing that consistently chokes me up is seeing people die.

President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 (10 years before I was born).Last month I had this book called Four Days as a kid that documented those four days in November (from Kennedy’s assassination to his burial). One page had several stills from the famous Zapruder film, including the horrific frame 313 that shows Kennedy’s head literally exploding. In frame 312, his head is in one piece. In frame 313, it explodes. I remember flipping back and forth between those two frames over and over. In frame 312, the President is alive. In frame 313, he is not. I remember feeling curious and shocked and disturbed by seeing that picture, but I don’t remember feeling sad.

Last month I did an episode of You Don’t Know Flack about tornadoes. While doing research for the show I watched May’s Fury, a special released by KFOR, along with several Youtube clips of both the May 3rd, 1999 tornado and the May 20, 2013 tornado, each of which hit Oklahoma. Each time the tornado struck a populated area like Chickasha, Moore, or Midwest City, I knew that I was seeing people die — perhaps not directly on screen, but as those massive tornadoes ripped their way through populated areas and you could see debris being hurled in every direction you just know that you are witnessing people losing their lives. And I got choked up.

You would think I would be more callous to it by now. Last week I turned on the evening news and watched a police officer shoot a man in the back, killing him. No warning, no disclaimer, no nothing — just, “so, this happened today,” followed by pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop.

“Now, sports.”

I love true crime books. I enjoy reading about how the bad guys commit crimes and how the good guys track them down. I’ve read all about Timothy McVeigh, and the Branch Davidians, the Turner Diaries, and all kinds of conspiracy theories surrounding that day. I love reading about that stuff and talking about that stuff.

But every time I drive through downtown Oklahoma City and drive past the Murrah Memorial, every time I see pictures and video from that April morning of smoke billowing from my hometown, every time April 19th rolls around, I think of the 168 people that died there that day.

And then I get choked up.

In last night’s game against the Timberwolves, the Oklahoma City Thunder looked as good as they’ve looked in quite some time. Enes Kanter dominated in second-chance attempts, Dion Waiters went 5-8 on three pointers, and Russell Westbrook went on a tear and scored 37 (23 of which were in the first quarter). Kanter, Waiters and Westbrook combined for 95 points, and together the team scored a whopping 138 points.

It wasn’t enough.

I mean, of course it was enough to publicly pummel the wounded Wolves by a margin of 25 points (it’s not every day you beat an opponent who scores 113 points by an additional 25), but it wasn’t enough to get the Thunder into the playoffs. The Thunder kicked off this season with a 3-12 record before getting things on track, but the track this year felt more like an off-road path. Down the home stretch the Thunder went 1-6 by losing to the Jazz, the Mavericks, the Grizzlies, the Rockets, and the Spurs (twice). With three games left in the season the Thunder lost a crucial game to the Pacers (who themselves were battling for a playoff spot) after going 11-28 on free-throws, roughly what my son shoots in our driveway.

The Thunder entered the last two games of the season tied with the New Orleans Pelicans for the final playoff slot. When your chances of making the playoffs depend on another team losing rather than your team winning, perhaps don’t deserve to be there in the first place — especially when that same team beat you three times during the regular season. With the taste of bile in my throat I quietly rooted for the Spurs to poach the Pelicans in the same manner they had recently tripped up the Thunder, but it didn’t happen. Both OKC and New Orleans won their last two games, and as they say, the tie goes to the pelican. (Nobody really says that, but everybody should start.)

I’m not sure much good would have come from making it to the playoffs. There was talk of Serge returning to the court, but walking into the playoff arena cold after returning from an injury is a good way to re-injure yourself. Without KD there’s no hope of winning it all, and frankly right now the odds weren’t good for escaping the first round against the top ranked Golden State Warriors. And you have to think that if Russell Westbrook turned up the gas any hotter he may literally break himself in half trying to single-handedly win playoff games.

Westbrook scored more points than any other player in the NBA this season. His response to that was “it means nothing,” and he’s right. Westbrook, like the rest of us, will be sitting at home watching the playoffs. (You have to think Westbrook has a nicer couch than the rest of us.) Westbrook takes a lot of crap for “being a ball hog” as we used to say when we were kids, but this year he didn’t have much of a choice. With Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka rooting from the sidelines most of the season, Westbrook’s options were to keep shooting or dish assists to new faces we’re just now getting used to calling Thunder players. When forced to the spotlight, some players thrive (James Harden) while others have wilted (Reggie Jackson), but if there was any question as to why the Thunder keep Westbrook when they have Durant, go back and watch last night’s game against the Timberwolves again.

(And if there was any question as to why the team parted ways with Perkins, as much as I liked the guy, go check out Kanter’s stats again.)

A lot of teams have what they call “rebuilding years.” This wasn’t a rebuilding year. It was a good year that unfortunately had a lot of great players cheering on the sidelines. The new pieces of the puzzle that fit with what we do — Kanter, Waiters, Singler — combined with the (hopefully returning) Thunder veterans are going to take this team to the playoffs and hopefully the finals very soon.

Thanks to Anthony Slater and Darnell Mayberry of the Thunder Buddies Podcast for giving us insight to the team and season and Dustbury.com (go for the Thunder commentary, stay for the rest of the amazing content) for his post-game analysis. I’ll be looking for you guys in the fall.

Thunder up and out.

This week’s release of the latest Mortal Kombat game (MK X) caused me to reflect on my own memories of the Mortal Kombat franchise.

I don’t actually remember the first time I saw Mortal Kombat in an arcade, which is a terrible way to start an article about my memories of Mortal Kombat.

I do however remember the launch of Mortal Kombat on home video game systems, which took place in September of 1993. I didn’t own any modern consoles at the time (I was a PC guy and a retro console gamer), but I remember seeing magazine ads and television commercials everywhere. Since I didn’t have any of those consoles, I didn’t get to play Mortal Kombat until 1994, when it was released for DOS.

The first time I actually saw Mortal Kombat running on a video game console was at the hacker conference Hohocon on New Year’s Eve, 1994. At the front of the room, connected to an overhead projector, was a Super Nintendo with a console copier connected to it. Console copiers were devices that allowed people to dump programs stored on video game cartridges (ROMs) to floppy disks and play them back without needing the cartridge. Because 16-bit cartridges often held more information than the average 1.44 floppy disk, the games often spanned two or three floppy disks. In between presenters, a couple of guys loaded up a copy of Mortal Kombat on a Super Nintendo using a console copier and proceeded to brutally smash one another until the next presenter took the stage. Within a couple of months, I had acquired a Super Nintendo, a console copier, and a copy of Mortal Kombat.

I just checked my old, old archives. The first Mortal Kombat for DOS came on three 1.44 MB floppy disks. Mortal Kombat II, the sequel that shipped in early 1995, came on eight. Mortal Kombat III, with the digital (CD) music removed, spanned fifteen floppies.

MK X for the PlayStation 4 takes up 33.5 GB. Fortunately it’s available to download, as that would take up 24,676 floppy disks. Don’t copy that floppy — you’ll throw your back out.

Along with MKII and MKIII, Mortal Kombat (the movie!) also debuted in 1995. I’ve always felt like that movie got a bad rap. It’s silly, yes, with lots of in references to the games. If you want to see a terrible movie, watch the sequel sometime. Oof.

One of the most controversial aspects of Mortal Kombat was its fatalities. After winning a battle and quickly punching in a series of joystick directions and buttons, players could perform gory fatalities like punching people’s heads off or electrocuting them. Performing fatalities required knowledge, timing, and a lot of quarters. Most gamers thought they were funny. Most parents didn’t. Nintendo certainly didn’t.

About ten years ago my sister hooked me up with a guy getting rid of a broken Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet. The cabinet turned out to be a (poorly) converted Atari Black Widow cabinet with a bad power supply and monitor. After adjusting the power supply and swapping out the monitor, I did get the machine up and running.

It’s funny to think of Mortal Kombat 4 as “one of the newer ones,” but that’s when the series made the initial jump from 2D to 3D. That was 18 years ago, in 1997. Along with the arcade version, MK4 made its way to the Nintendo 64, the original PlayStation, and Windows. Somewhere around that time, I lost interest in the series. Unfortunately that means I don’t have a lot to say about all the versions of Mortal Kombat since then. I played one or two of them on the PlayStation and XBox before shelving them once again. I did think the MK vs DC fighting game was unique, and I ended up picking it up from some bargain bin eventually.

To say Mortal Kombat has come a long way in 20 years is quite the understatement. We went from 2D digitized sprites beating each other up to the following clip from MK X, which I almost hesitated to post. Pixels are pixels I guess, but the light-hearted spirit of the early games seems to be totally gone.

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Mike and Carrington, hosts of the No Quarter Podcast. After 125 episodes Carrington was stepping down from the show and Mike was looking for a new co-host. Based on my podcasting experience and arcade knowledge the guys thought I would be a good fit for the show. Mike, Carrington and I spent a week standing up a new website and getting the new feed added to iTunes and Stitcher. The weekend before last Mike and I recorded our first episode together and then had to wait a week for all the technical web glitches to work themselves out before we could post the show. (Yes, it was hard keeping the secret for an entire week, especially when speculation about me joining the show grew!) The show went off without a hitch, and I’m looking forward to another long run of No Quarter shows with Mike.

For those of you keeping track, I am now currently recording five podcasts: No Quarter (an arcade game-themed show), You Don’t Know Flack (a collection of stories related to old computers, games and technology… and sometimes other stuff!), Sprite Castle (my Commodore 64-themed show), Throwback Reviews (dedicated to reviewing movies from the 1980s), and Rusted Metal (a show dedicated to rock and metal bands mostly from the 70s and 80s).

To somewhat keep my sanity, I’m now doing Sprite Castle and You Don’t Know Flack on alternating Mondays. The next episode to be posted will be episode 9 of Sprite Castle, next Monday morning. No Quarter is weekly and goes online Sunday evening. Throwback Reviews is recorded monthly, and Rusted Metal is done when time allows.

At the top of this page is a link that says Podcasts. You can click it (or this one) to find web pages, iTunes links, and RSS feeds for all of those shows.

Podcasting isn’t the only thing I’ve been using my microphone for. I’ve begun recording the audiobook version of Commodork: Sordid Tales from a BBS Junkie. The original print version of Commodork contained 13 chapters. The audiobook version will contain 26. Each chapter will be followed by a completely new bonus chapter that will contain “behind the scenes” notes about writing the book along with updated information about things that have happened since the book was published. I’m very excited about this project and I don’t think it will take long to complete.

Work continues on Gastric Steps: He Said/She Said my (and Susan’s) book about gastric bypass surgery. I am still working on the book’s final chapter. I hope to finish it sometime this summer.

I’m probably forgetting some stuff but those are the ones that have space dedicated to them on my whiteboard at the moment.

In the spring of 1995, my sister and her boyfriend were engaged, set to be married on August 19th of that same year. Their wedding plans fell through, but Susan and I had been living together for a couple of years by then and since all of our family in Chicago had already made plans to come to Oklahoma on August 19th we decided to get married on that same date.

All of this happened before I officially proposed.

When I was a kid, my parents would hide our Easter eggs the night before Easter after my sister and I had gone to sleep, and would make a list detailing where each egg was hidden. It’s a good system, one that prevents a forgotten, smelly egg from being discovered later in the spring.

Or summer.

The night before Easter of 1995, Susan and I sat down and colored eggs. Later that night I hid them in really hard to find places around the house. I then made a list of fourteen clues to help Susan find them the following morning. The final clue ib the list suggested that she go back and read the first letter of each clue. The first letter of each clue spelled out W.I.L.L.Y.O.U.M.A.R.R.Y.M.E.

It was perhaps not the most romantic of proposals, but it was definitely my style.

Here we are twenty years later, still coloring and hiding eggs.