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Variations on a Theme

(This is something I put together for my grandpa’s memorial service today since I couldn’t be there. Just thought it would be cool to share it…)

Good afternoon from Tennessee.

I want to express my deepest regret for not being able to be there today, however between moving into a new house, and starting a new job tomorrow morning, it would not have worked out for the best.

When I originally sat down to write my thoughts for today, I was worried that I wouldn’t really have anything to say, having already expressed my thoughts on Thursday via my website.

However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to write about today, as opposed to writing about the past, like I did earlier.

Today we are here to honor and celebrate the life of an amazing man, my grandpa, Samuel Young.

The man was a true hero and inspiration in every sense of both of those words.

I won’t list his accomplishments, because we all already know what he did.

I just wanted to take a moment to say that he had inspired me on more ways than I could ever express.

He was a man that always put family first. He was always so patient and guiding when asked for help, or even just in conversation.

I will always remember the talks we had about golf, computers, or even just in general.

I will always remember all the horrible dad jokes he had, and I’d be remiss to say that I haven’t used at least one or two in the (recent) past.

I will always remember those times we had out on the golf course, or at the driving range, where he would help me hone my skills and help grown my passion for the game.

Today, and every day, I will always remember him.

I love you grandpa, and may every one of your golf scores now be 18.

One For The Ages

Everyone always has that one person in their lives that has something so amazing about them that they constantly inspire you.

I am so fortunate to have had more than one in my life.

Of course, the first one was my father. Another one…my grandfather, Samuel G. (for Harry) Young.

The world lost this amazing man today, just shy of his 98th birthday, and it won’t be the same without him.

He was a survivor, in every sense of the word.

He fought in World War 2. Having been part of the air raids on Germany, manning the bombardier position on the B–17G nicknamed “E-RAT-I-CATOR”, his plane and crew were one of the rare few that actually survived the war. In fact, they were one of the most successful crews in the 452nd Bomber Wing of the 8th Air Force.

Many years later, he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which he survived, despite the medical technology not being what it is today.

He also survived the advertising world, having been the head of advertising for Bilboard and Amusement Business magazines.

He inspired and taught me how to play golf, and instilled in me my passion for military and civilian aviation.

I also think that if it wasn’t for Grandpa, I wouldn’t be such a comedy nerd. He had a great collection of tapes and LPs of comedians such as Bill Cosby, Rich Little, and Jackie Mason. Not to mention, he could lay down horrible dad jokes with the best of them.

He always was interested in the newest technologies. He had one of the first online banking systems and always loved talking about computers and technology with me.

So, I think I’m going to go sit in a huge recliner, grab an issue of Playboy from the 90s, a box of Jujyfruits and honor my grandfather today the only way I know how.

The only difference…there won’t be Post-It’s on the centerfold, and he won’t be telling me to get out of his chair.

Give Grandma a huge hug and kiss for me, tell Dad I said hi, and have fun golfing and bowling again.

I love you always.

Writer’s Block

I’ve decided that in this upcoming year I am going to attempt to write more.

Note: I said attempt.

I’ve tried doing this before, but I’m starting to get a bit more serious in my head about this whole blogging/podcast/writing thing. I really think  now that “Podcasting is Back” and there’s kind of a new crop of bloggers coming up (mainly tech, but they also focus on other things), I feel I have a lot to contribute to this new group and they have been inspiring me to get out and do more.

It doesn’t help that everyone that read my post “Cat’s in the Cradle” (about the passing of my father) said that it was a great piece of writing. I didn’t think so. It was just a random collection of thoughts that I wrote while I was trying to process what was happening at the time (I actually wrote it the Sunday before he passed, but I knew his passing was inevitable by that point).

Anyway, that kind of lit the fire under my ass, so to speak, to really start to think about what I want to do with my life. I have a couple of ideas soaring around in my head, but nothing that I want to commit to paper just yet.

Well…except for one.

There is a collection of blogger/podcasters that have a great collection of shows and blogs over at Relay.fm. The shows range from discussions on current technology all the way to pen collecting. The one thing they’re missing though is a music podcast…

Just saying guys…Sounds with Einstein is returning in 2015 and it’s going to have a great format (plus some awesome special guests like Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz, drummer/percussionist for “Weird Al” Yankovic)!

I’m just kidding…Not really.

However, I am serious about the shows. SWE and Channel Z with Zak Winnick will be coming back in 2015, better than ever. Also, I will be writing a lot of stuff, not only on here, but also on Medium and Geek Smash.

Ok. That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more!

Cat’s in the Cradle

I’m not usually one to write about people’s deaths. In fact, I usually try to avoid it and deal with it myself.

Well, not saying I’ve had a lot of death in my life. In fact, to steal from Mitch Hedberg, I’d say if there was a bell graph with the amount of death in my life, I’d be right in the fucking middle. 

I contemplated writing something a few years ago after the death of my grandma, Ruth. She was like a 2nd mother to me. Whenever my mom would punish me by sending me to my room, or whatever, I’d always call her and tell her what my mom did. She’d tell me to hang up and she’d call back and yell at my mom for what she did. She’d pick me up from school on days I didn’t have some sports thing, or if my mom had meetings or whatever. Even towards the end of her life, when she no longer spoke or even recognized people, when I hadn’t seen her in a couple of years…She recognized me. 

All of that is pale in comparison to losing one of your parents and watching them go through something so horrible.

I tried to deal with it by blowing it off, complaining about it, or even saying “I’m really glad I’m not living in Vegas so I don’t have to deal with this in person.” I always thought it would go away and get better. It always did.

Growing up, my relationship with my father was never the best. He really didn’t know what to do with a kid, and honestly, I don’t think he really wanted me around. I do, however, applaud him for sticking around. Even if it was more of a financial role than an emotional or physical one. I know, in his own way, he really did love me. 

Once I was old enough to interact with him, so to speak, our relationship developed in a different way. He always had the most amazing jobs. Whether it was being the General Manager of the San Diego Zoo the first few years of my life, to being the head of, what is now known as, Universal Creative, and Universal Studios.

Even when he worked for Circus Circus/Mandalay Resorts (now MGM Resorts), and up until his recent projects in Las Vegas (Positively Kids) and New York (Adelaar), it was always something amazing. 

While, as everyone knows, I’m most proud of his work at Universal, as that’s where he made his name, had the best job, and had an amazing career, it’s all the other stuff I am more proud of. 

From 2005 to 2008, I was the Senior Project Manager for International Resort and Leisure Operations Consultants, reporting directly to the President, Terry Winnick.

Not only was it a great job, but I also was able to develop a better relationship with him, which I think, at that point, we both needed.

It was during this time, he moved from Santa Fe, NM to Las Vegas, where I was currently living, and he taught me everything he knew about the development business. Things I will never forget and have taught myself how to apply to my life every day.

In more recent years, I learned how to parlay his knowledge in to helping me help myself. Whenever I was stuck with a difficult task at work (either at The Cosmopolitan or even at Omni), I knew I could always call him and ask for some insight because I knew he either had access to, or even knew off the top of his head, whatever I was looking for. 

Of course, with him, it wasn’t always work.

Every few years, we always made a point to try to get together for a week or so and just go somewhere and chill out. Whether it was Monterrey, CA and playing golf at Pebble Beach, taking my mom to the Big Island of Hawaii, or even one of our favourite spots, Scottsdale, AZ, he always made sure that we had a great time together, always experiencing the best of whatever city we were in.

Whenever I use my phone to pay for something with Apple Pay at Whole Foods, or, even when they’ve been announcing huge projects in Downtown Nashville, it’s really weird not being able to call him and tell him what’s going on. I always seem to take out my phone, or make that move to pull it out of my pocket.

Yet…something always stops me. Knowing that I can’t do it. 

I know it will take some getting used to, and honestly, having not talked to him for a couple of weeks now, it’s getting slightly better. However, even in that, I knew that I could always just pick up the phone, and there he’d be. Always happy to talk to me, like a little puppy when it’s owner comes home from a long day at work. It’s those things I’m going to miss the most. 

To my father…

I know I never said it enough, but, in my own way, like yourself, I will always love you and I can’t thank you enough for the incredible life you have given me. All of the experiences we had together, all the knowledge you gave me. Everything.

You were always worried that everything you told me, I would ignore or just not care about. I want you to know, I will always have your voice in the back of my mind, like Jiminey Cricket, advising me on what I should do. You were an amazing inspiration to me, and I will always be grateful to you for everything you did for me. 

I love you, Dad. I wouldn’t trade you for anyone in the world.

©2015 Zak Winnick