Like Father Like Son
A Tribute to Marvin Stern

My father lived a long and successful life. No, the last few years were not his best, but prior to a few years ago, he was active, involved, interesting, and always willing to try new things.

Visits and conversations centered around the latest in computer technology. Always, enjoyable for both my father and I, yet often a sore point with my mother. She always let us know that she was not part of the discussion by saying,
----------------" I am leaving the room now"
We would continue our intense discussion without interruption.

It often amazes me that my own understanding and success in computer technology is largely due to my fatherís training, teaching and cajoling in my early years.

Like father like son

Dadís formal training is in electrical engineering. Mine is in business, project management and more recently computer technology. Yet the basis for computer technology lies in the same basis as electrical engineering. An electrical circuit is either on or off. Nothing more, nothing less

If my father were still here he would offer all of you congratulations. Youíve now passed Electronics 101 with flying colors!
Now wasnít that easy?

My ability to diagnose and solve a computer problem stems from watching dad take a system apart, rebuild it and put it back together better than it was when he started. As an engineer for LA County Air Pollution Control, now the AQMD, dad would rebuild electronic measuring and test equipment and fine tune these systems to fit the needs to what the county really wanted. On a daily basis, you will find me rebuilding or fine tuning a computer to fit the specialized needs of my various clients.

Like father like son

Many here would be shocked to have me credit my success to my fatherís training. As a child, I hated our messy garage. I disliked all the gadgets, gizmos, doo dads piled higher and higher in our garage.

Park a car in a garage? Youíve got to be kidding!

Check out my own office and garage at home. See any similarities?

Sure enough, Elliottís garage is beginning to closely resemble Marvinís garage on a smaller scale. (Smaller for now, but give me some time). Ask my wife if I speak the truth!

Better yet come over later this afternoon and see for yourself. Youíll see similarities to Marvinís garage over and over. And I am so proud of it.

And yes, even I have outgrown the garage and office and have rented a storage area for all the computer gadgets, gizmos and doo-dads Iíve collected.

Talk about like father like son. Ask my wife if I speak the truth!

Like father like son

Iíve got to give my father extra credit for who I am today. Over the years, Iíve even told him point blank that my success is due to his training.

His response:
I donít know computers like you do. I didnít teach you computer technology.

Wrong Dad! A computer is nothing more than a few electrical circuits fine tuned to perform the way we want them to.

"Dadís passing has a left a great disturbance in the Force."

I spoke these same words about my mother just 8 months ago.
"May the Force be with you!"
Also spoken 8 months ago in this very room.

Yes, The Force! Is it nothing more than an electrical charge?

Watch me closely as I fine tune, tweak, and rebuild computer systems. Watch me attack a system problem with the skills of a highly trained engineer. There is always that ever-present extra hand guiding me, showing me the way. My father may be gone physically, but his training and guidance will continue to guide me for many years to come.

So where are they now?

I know now that my Mom and Dad have been reunited. How do I know this? How can I be so sure?

Iíll tell you.

About three weeks ago I had to dispose of my 1991 Isuzu Trooper. The last years of my Trooperís life were difficult. Leak after leak sprung from the lubrication system. The alternator (an electrical component) was replaced. The car needed new tires, new brakes and the battery was probably next to go.

Despite all the efforts of my mechanic, the engine finally gave out. The Trooper, with 178,000 miles, was donated to a local charity.

The similarities to my fatherís last few years are unbelievable. He had a pacemaker (an electrical component) implanted a few years back. His ability to walk was limited and he got around with a walker and wheelchair. Seems like a new set of tires could have helped here.

Dadís engine ran for quite some time but sadly, it too had said ENOUGH.

So now Mom and Dad are driving around in my Isuzu Trooper. I can here them driving now! It's Momís turn to drive and Dad has the maps....

"Youíre going the wrong way."
"Did you remember to pack the flashlights in case the lantern goes out?"
"I thought you cancelled the newspaper!"

You can imagine that camping gear and food for a family of four takes a lot of storage. Most of the camping gear was stored in a large Marvin-designed "bondurie" mounted on the roof rack of our station wagon.

Seems that Dad personally built the roof rack from tons of spare parts taken from his garage. Old kitchen drawers turned sideways to hold canned goods, metal framing to form a chassis which formed a large box to hold the tent, stove, sleeping bags, lantern and everything else. An old canvas tarp was there to protect from the elements.

The roof rack stood at least four feet high, and Steve and I have fond memories of loading and unloading our "survival equipment" for many a camping trip.

And there is one famous quote that Steve and I will always remember, especially when Mom took the wheel...
On one trip, Mom drove a little fast over some railroad tracks. The entire rack rattled and clanged but none of the contents were lost. Dad was sound asleep in the passenger seat. Suddenly awakened from the sound of this clicking and clanging, my father shouted the following words that Steve and I remember to this day:
"Slow down Ethel youíve got a load on top!"

I guess my folks are now on a permanent vacation. Mom put up with the camping, the cookouts and the long drives to many destinations. She was a real trooper.

Dadís got the wheel now and is choosing their next destination:
Second star on the right and straight on until morning.

They are on their way to Never-Never-Land where I hear that kids never grow up.

Iím all grown up now. I wonít forget them and somehow Iíll learn to get along without them. May they find eternal peace and happiness together in their own never never land.