Michael Robert Milam, MD (19 Nov. 1973 – 3 Jun. 2015)

So, this has been a rough month.  My only brother, and indeed my best friend in the world for all but the first two years of my entire life was suddenly taken from us.  Cancer sucks, people.  It came out of nowhere and took him in just one month from the date of his diagnosis.  One of the cruelest jokes in the universe is an oncologist getting the very disease he has dedicated his life to battling.

After his passing, I decided to Google and see if I could find where others had mentioned him, and I was pleasantly surprised to find this video clip on YouTube from last year describing his new practice at St. Thomas Medical Center in Nashville.  It’s nice to see him and hear his voice.

One moment we shared sticks out for me.  I was trying to make sense of this diagnosis, and asked Mike:

“So, you’re telling me this was just a crappy roll of the dice? You just rolled a natural 1 on a saving throw vs. cancer?”

“Yeah, pretty much. Sometimes, you just get a crappy roll.”

This exchange demonstrates a little-known fact:  Mike was a sci-fi and fantasy geek like me, but his later professional life and fatherhood made it harder to keep up with it all.  Despite this, we always made time to see the latest comic book movies together.  Regretfully, we never did get to see Avengers: Age of Ultron as we planned.  I still haven’t seen it, but  I will when I’m ready.  Mike would want me to see it and would want to know what I thought about the film.

His loving wife Ashley wrote his obituary, which I think captured his spirit well:

Michael Robert Milam, MD, age 41, passed away peacefully from stage 4 gastric cancer in the company of friends and family on June 3, 2015 at Alive Hospice in Nashville, TN.

Professional headshot of Dr. Mike MilamMichael was born in Philadelphia, PA on November 19, 1973. Charismatic and driven, he grew up in Oshkosh, WI, where he made many friends, was elected student congress president, and excelled on the Oshkosh North High School wrestling team. While earning his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University, he was involved in the athletic program as a cheerleader, mascot, and athletic trainer. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Michael completed an internship in obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis, a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University, and a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas-M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Michael served as assistant professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Louisville from 2009 to 2012 and practiced at the Norton Cancer Institute in Louisville, KY from 2012 to 2014. In 2014, he moved to Nashville, TN to establish Saint Thomas Gynecologic Oncology Specialists and to serve as a clinical and research mentor to resident physicians from Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee.

In all the stages of his life, Mike was a leader who drew people to him and inspired others to perform to the best of their ability. He loved his family and was a tireless advocate for his cancer patients. He endured terminal illness with bravery and composure and his trademark sense of humor, unwavering in his devotion to friends, family, and his work.

Survivors include his loving wife of 14 years, Ashley Milam, and children, Jack (9) and Ben (6) of Nashville; parents, Dr. Robert and Carolyn Milam of Hopkinsville, KY; brother, Charles Milam of Hopkinsville, KY; aunt and uncle Helen and William Newton of Shepherdsville, KY; aunt Shirley Milam of Shepherdsville, KY; aunt Jane Milam of Paris, KY; mother-in-law Donna Lile of Nashville; sister-in-law Joanna Lile of Lexington, KY; and twelve cousins.

The family will receive friends on Friday June 12 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville and on Saturday June 13 beginning at 12:30 pm. A celebration of Michael’s life will be conducted immediately following at 2:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may take the form of donations to the Foundation for Women’s Cancer (in honor of Mike’s profession) or to Alive Hospice of Nashville.

Time To Get This File Off My Desktop

I’ve had this Word file on my desktop for at least two years called “Blog Stream of Consciousness.” I decided it had to go. It was one of those things you leave thinking “I’ll get to that someday,” but you never do. So, I opened it to see if there was anything worth saving. I was surprised that it didn’t contain what I thought it did. At one time it, was a list of topics I jotted down that I thought I’d write about later. I guess I must have edited it since, because it contained only this passage:

Sitting here at the Lake House, where there is just barely any cell phone coverage and certainly not any Internet service, I’m reminded how our computers have really become nothing more than Internet terminals. Without the network, I’m relegated to using my computer as a media center for movies and music, doing some writing as I’m doing right now, and…

I’ve now deleted the file, and I guess it did serve its purpose, as it did make it into a blog post. The previous sentence contains many occurrences of the word “it.”

By the way, happy Rush day: 2/1/12.

Passed the CISA Exam, now for “Waiting, Part II: The Revenge.”

Today I got the long-awaited word that I passed the CISA exam that I sat for in June.

What is the CISA? It stands for “Certified Information Systems Auditor” and is one of several certifications by ISACA. Note to my pedantic academic friends: Yes, that’s a Wikipedia link back there. Get over it.

I’ll be honest, waiting EIGHT WEEKS for my exam results made me a little stressed, and a perhaps a little saltier than usual. Passing the exam is great, but it’s only the first step in getting certified. I have submitted my application for certification, which verifies my work history, experience in the field and my education. Now, I get to wait…for up to EIGHT WEEKS…again before I can officially use the CISA designation. Sigh.

Bernie C. Milam, Oct. 28 1928 – Feb. 19, 2011

My Uncle Bernie, my father’s last remaining brother, passed away this weekend.  Uncle Bernie loved staying in touch with family, often calling just to “check in.”  Sometimes, he would call my cell phone and claim he dialed the wrong number while trying to reach my dad, but then want to talk to me anyway.  I suspect he did it on purpose.  The night before he died, he left a message on Mom & Dad’s answering machine, just another one of his “checking in messages.”  I digitized it and saved it.  It’s one of those priceless things.

Uncle Bernie’s Last Phone Message

Uncle Bernie was also a big fan of the Internet, but never really got into those newfangled things like facebook.  He loved E-mail, especially forwarding jokes.  He also was one of about four regular readers of this blog, back when I actually used to update it.  Therefore, it’s only appropriate he gets a mention here.

Headshot of Bernie Milam
Bernie C. Milam

Bernie C. Milam, 82, husband of Jane Anderson Milam, died Saturday, February 19, 2011. He was born October 28, 1928 in Shepherdsville, son of the late Bernie B. and Bertha Wise Milam, and was a graduate of Shepherdsville High School. He was also a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a B.S. degree in Agriculture and M.S. degree in Extension Education. He was drafted in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict and was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant. After completing his tour of duty in Korea, he returned to the University of Kentucky to complete his degree. He taught Vocational Agriculture at Meade County High School before going to work for the U.K. Cooperative Extension Service. He went to Nicholas County as a 4-H agent until December 1957 when he became the 4-H agent in Bourbon County. He served the people of Bourbon County for 36 years before retiring on his 65th birthday.

He is survived by his wife Jane Anderson Milam and three sons, James, John, and Robert (Sonya). There are 10 grandchildren; Christopher, Daniel, Elizabeth, Josh, Adam, Lauren, Alexandra, Justin, Conner, and Matthew. He is also survived by one sister, Helen Newton; and one brother, Dr. Robert Milam.

Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 22, at the First Baptist Church of Paris, KY. Visitation will be 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday at the church.

Casket bearers will be his nephews, Mike Milam, Charles Milam, Steve Milam, Todd Milam, Kevin Cundiff, Eric Cundiff, Mark Cundiff, Mike Anderson, and Brad Newton.

Donations in lieu of flowers are requested to First Baptist Church Building Fund, Hospice of the Bluegrass, or one’s favorite charity.


Kind Words From a Former Apprentice…and Also, a Coworker

This is another one of those posts that’s been sitting in “Draft Limbo” for about a week now, but something happened this week that gave me a little “kick” to publish it.  First, the older stuff:

Tonight I received an e-mail from a former student assistant of mine who is a now working for a major microprocessor manufacturer in California. (Hint: It’s probably “inside” most of the computers you use today.)

He started out by saying:

“Thanks for teaching me how to fish Yoda! Hope all is well -j”

I thought he was referring to teaching him how to fly fish for trout back in the day, so I asked him if he had caught anything.

Turns out he meant something different:

“…sorry, didn’t have time to finish the email. Thanks for helping me fish…aka learn linux with the rtfm comments…”

By way of explanation:  Back in the day at the University, we shared an office space.  He was eager to learn Linux, and I was happy to have his help with my projects and daily work.  Whenever he would get “stuck,” instead of giving him the answer so I could go right back to work, I’d take a little extra time to give him hints and guide him to find the answer on his own.  I can’t tell you how many times I would say, “RTFM, dude.  It’s in there.  I found it, so you can too.  Now, let’s start by looking here…”

Eventually, he was given some of his own projects and systems to design on his own.  At first he would ask me how he should build things. Eventually, as I let him have more space to spread his wings, I would turn it around and ask him “So, how would YOU like to build this?”  It was a great feeling to watch him grow.

He finished his E-mail to me with this:

“This has helped me a ton in my life ever since. :-)”

Wow.  What a great feeling.

Now, back to the coworker that got me thinking about this post again.  Earlier this week, my coworker took and passed his CCNA on the first try.  This is no small feat, especially considering he only came on board a few months ago.  I congratulated him on passing his CCNA, and as we we talking he stopped and said, “I wanted to thank you for something.”


“When I first started, remember when I asked you [something about subnet masking within firewall rules]?”

“Sure I do, but…what’s special about that?”

“Well, you didn’t just give me the answer.  You told me where to start looking, and I learned much more from than if you had just answered the question, so thanks for that.”

I guess it’s like they say:  “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Home Networking, Or The Project That Only Took A Year…

I finally got the motivation up to run the network cable between the first and second floors.  There was a little drilling involved, but all-in-all, I think I did minimal damage.  It’s nice to have the non-wireless devices on the second floor back online, in particular my workhorse laser printer that is going on 12 years old and still works like a champ.  Let’s just say they don’t make ’em like that anymore.

As of now, my fingers are sore because I haven’t put the ends on twisted pair cable in over a year or two.  After the first connector of tonight, I got back into the groove and knocked out the remainder in short order.

RJ-45 Crimper
My fingers are sore, and I'm kind of rusty, but I got it done.

So, now that I have the upstairs wired in again, what next?  Well, I’m not really sure yet.  I do know I need to get some kind of Linux server back online for various network maintenance jobs and the like, as well as possibly acting as a VPN gateway.

I’m also considering playing with OpenSolaris.  I hear the filesystem is pretty amazing.

Oh yeah…I also still have a nagging “itch” to scratch from that asset tracking database project I was working on at my last job.  I always wanted to be able to tell how often an asset had been moved and then see if I could correlate it with breakage rates.  I figure if you move a computer around three times a week, treating it like a bale of hay when it’s handled, eventually things like hard disks are going to give out.  So, having a database server to test on again will be nice…maybe I’ll even get crazy and play with database clustering.

Regardless of what I do with the network upstairs, the important thing is now I can start moving the computer equipment back into place.  Hopefully this means I’ll be able to see the floor up there in the office soon. Maybe I’ll have a functional office and ham radio station again before the hockey season starts up.  Time will tell.

Things That Make Me Smile

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with a good friend from the high school days.  Now, before anyone gets too excited here, let me reiterate that she is just a FRIEND. We may have dated back in the college days–but that was 10+ years ago (yikes).  Everyone just settle down now.  Ok, now we can resume:

So, she knew I was a little down, and as always, she knew just when to call.  She’s one of those who always is there for me when I need her–and I try to do the same for her.  Soon after our chat, I got this awesome pick-me-up E-mail from her, which included the little snippet below:

Things that also make me smile:
  • Your morning phone calls during the 3M commute.
  • The way that after not talking for 6 weeks or 6 months, we fall so easily into it.
  • The adoring way you look at me, always.
  • Those g-damn dimples.
  • Falling asleep on a couch with you.
  • You get me – the good, the bad, and most of the ugly.
  • The way that when you fall for a girl, you give her all you have.
  • The way that you’re the perfect height to put your arm around me.
How can I NOT smile about this?

Some Random Stuff

Yeah, this might be a placeholder post, I’m still avoiding just buckling down and posting the five or six half-finished posts I’ve started.  Sorry, Amy. I’ll get on that real soon.

Random thoughts:

  1. Perhaps twitter has fried my brain and I can’t write more than 140 characters at a time?
  2. This is a weekend of some historical significance–
  3. Three years ago, The Shaner died.  RIP, my brother.  I haven’t been on a motorcycle since.
  4. Two years ago, I was at Norwich University graduating from my Master’s program.
  5. One year ago, I was at my brother’s graduation in Houston, obsessively checking the iPhone for updates on the Stanley Cup Game Seven, and texting my favorite hockey fan about it.  The next day, I drove one of my brother’s  cars home from Houston to Kentucky solo.  That was a LONG trip.
  6. Tonight, Dad and I met the guy who builds covered docks down at the lake.  I hope this covered dock thing actually happens.  You have no idea how much easier it would make life down at the lake to not have to struggle with that messy, nasty “canvas.”
  7. Nashville once again reminds me it is a fun town…I had a great time on Monday at the NHL Tweetup and flood relief fundraiser.  There might have even been some photos. Shortly after that photo of me was taken (you did look, right?), the ladies confiscated my belt clip for my iPhone.  Katie called it “Chick Repellent.”  Ok, so looking at the photo…she might have a point.
  8. Mike is here tonight, we continued our tradition of watching non-family-safe movies while he’s away and has the chance to do so.  Tonight’s selection: Shutter Island. Freaky.
  9. I got the Jetta back!  More testing is needed, but we think it was all due to a faulty crank sensor. Time will tell.  For the first time in my life, I now have a backup vehicle.  It’s about time!
  10. I’ve managed to spend time in Nashville the last 2-3 weekends (I think), it’s all a blur.  It’s true what they say about time seeming to go faster as we age…is it really June already?  I never thought summer would get here, now it’s flying by WAY too fast.
  11. I’m still hoping to make it to Wisconsin for a summer visit, but I don’t know if my [lack of] “vacation” schedule will allow for it.
  12. I’ve been slacking on the running due to injury and illness.  Time to get back on the horse.  Also:  Strength training.  Time to push through the soreness and pain.  Ouch.
  13. I discovered there will be a Field Day operation here in Hopkinsville.  I think I’ll offer to help out as an operator rather than try to set up my own single-op station.
  14. Clark Milam is the best dog ever.
  15. Oh, and I hope to cross a couple of “bucket list” items off this weekend.

Finally…I’ve been staring at this quote from a text I sent a while back for too long and I need to just drop it here and get it over with because I’m sick of seeing it in my drafts folder:

“I just wonder if anyone in the old Nashville crew ever wonders what happened to that Chuck guy from Kentucky.”

When I wrote that, I was kind of maudlin.  Now, after some recent events…I’m cool.  The old reliable Nashville crew never forgot me…and there’s some new members that are all kinds of awesome.  With that, I’m out…time for bed.  Friday tomorrow!  Oh, that reminds me:  Fridays used to be party nights…now it seems they’re for rest, packing and preparation for the weekend, and it’s not just me doing it.  We must be getting old.  Heh.

GPS Detour Takes Me Back…

In what turned out to be some serendipitous scheduling, I decided to attend a conference this weekend just outside of Franklin, Tennessee.  My fellow conference partner and I came down the night before the main event so we could relax and not have to get up at the crack of dawn and drive down the morning of.  After a nice dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall place called “Thai Spice,” we decided to set the GPS for the address of the conference site and get a feel for the route and the drive time.  The GPS directed me out of town on kind of a zig-zag route, which at one time would have concerned me, but I’ve been in the south long enough now to know not to sweat.  This is just how the roads are in the older states.  There is no “country block/grid” system around here.

As we continued down one road, the GPS directed me to “Continue Straight on Old [Something] Road.”  As we got about a mile down this older winding road, I started to get déjà vu, but I figured that was a little crazy.  There was no way I had been here before…or was there? As we continued, I looked over to the left and saw a large concrete wall, part of some kind of round retaining basin up on a ridge, surrounded by a fence with distinctive warning signs on it. I knew I had seen that before.  I finally said it out loud: “I’ve been here before. I know it, even though that seems impossible.”

Further down the road, I began to notice some familiar-looking country and large estate-style ranches.  I still couldn’t believe that I was where I thought I was—even though everything looked so familiar. I mean, even if it was, I would have only been out this way maybe once or twice—three times, at most—how could I remember that?

Finally, we came to a “T” intersection with a sign that confirmed it.  I stopped for a bit and just looked at the sign, taking it in.

“Hello, Leipers Fork.  I haven’t seen you since…Thanksgiving?”

Editor’s Note:  I was going to link to the main Leipers Fork web site I found via Google, but it has background music.  I don’t want to encourage that nonsense, so no linking from me.  Google it for yourself if you’re interested, but turn down your speakers before you click on it–there’s no warning before the music starts blaring.

Ok, I Take It Back. Let’s Go, Boys!

The Tatie asked me recently if I had playoff fever…and at the time, I wasn’t sure.  There is no doubt now: I have it, and I have it bad.

I take back what I said earlier about burnout and suggesting that I might look forward to a summer break from hockey.

I was wrong, I was selfish.  I admit it, and I take it back.  I don’t want this season to end until the Predators hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in triumph.

No more personal pity parties. No more stupid, silly nonsense, no more burnout, no more hesitation. Let’s do this, and let’s do it right.

Let’s go, Predators!