Spike The Man Cat, Tigers I’ve Known, Brother Ed and UPS, Astroid 22723 Ediopez

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

Know why cats got whiskers? It’s ‘cause the width of the whiskers is the same size of a hole the cat can fit it’s body thru. Knowing that, don’t ya just wish ya had whiskers? Spike The Man Cat just walked by and got me starting thinking ‘bout whiskers. Spike’s got the biggest whiskers in the East Wing. He’s two, sometimes three times the size of some of my north side deck cats. Got six of ‘em out there on the deck by the pool ya know.

Spike came into my life as a birthday joke when some friends of mine gave me a little boy cat back in May of 2010. What’ ya gona do when ya get a little boy tiger cat as a birthday present. Ya keep the baby cat for sure.

And so it was with me and Spike. A little cat I could hold in the palm of my hand. A two color grey tiger cat who came to me with a name in place. “ Spike” and everybody knows, once named, forever named, Spike.

Well I’m telling ya Spike grew up, and I mean really grew up. Not yet a year old and I now have to deal with Spike The Man Cat of the East Wing. A 14 lb tiger who prowls the darkness, a night stalker. I’m not joking ya, when it gets dark, Spike The Man Cats starts to walk different. He walks like a tiger, acts like a tiger, and I suspect he thinks like a tiger, ‘cause he sure moves like a tiger.

I’m sure somebody’s thinking how’s he know ‘bout a tiger thinking? I don’t! But it just so happens that I’m one of a very few people in the whole state on Indiana who can lay claim to the fact that I’ve actually held a Bengal Tiger in my arms. So there! When ya’ve held a Bengal Tiger and lived to tell the story, ya just know ‘bout how tigers think and stuff like that. I tell everybody ‘bout holding that baby Bengal Tiger, I’ll remember the tiger for the rest of my life. I don’t think the tiger remembered me at all, I don’t think I even told that little tiger my name”.

Guess the closest I’ll ever get to holding another tiger is picking up Spike the Man Cat. Actually Spike is much larger than the baby tiger the first time I held him. The baby was 10 days old, and even at 10 days, it took two hands to hold the tiger. The last time I held him the tiger he was 10 weeks and 40 lbs of baby boy tiger on his way toward 500 pounds. 40 pound baby boy tigers don’t hug easy. Big cats, those Bengal Tigers. At 40 pounds some of his teeth were already almost 1 inch long. Big teeth for a big boy tiger on his way to 500 pounds.

Those of you who’ve visited the East Wing for a long time have heard me talk ‘bout my brother-in-law, Ed Lopez. And how much I miss him to this very day. I don’t remember if I told ya ‘bout the relationship between Ed and I. To me it was special, so very special. And I always hoped it was just as special to Ed. We never talked ‘bout emotional stuff like that, me and Ed. We talked boy talk.

We talked man talk. We were stargazers, me and Ed. We talked computers and stuff like that. I never said anything much from the East Wing ’bout Ed while he was alive, mainly ‘cause he was my biggest fan of what I said form the East Wing. And I knew that if I should say very much ‘bout him he wouldn’t like that at all. Of all the email I receive in the East Wing, I could always count on getting at least one and sometimes three, four or five from Ed every week. I think sometimes Ed would go back and re-read what I’d said from the East Wing and decide to say something else ‘bout it. Some times Ed would email something ‘bout what I said a month back. And when Ed spoke I always listened.

Ya see Ed Lopez was the big brother I never had, I grew up in a family of girls, and as much as I love my sisters, I didn’t have a bother to play with. Ed grew up in a family of girls and as much as he loved his sisters………. Now ya can already see where this things going. Ed was the big brother I never had. I was Ed’s snot nose little bother. We just needed each other, me and Ed. Guess it was meant to be. And so it was. And it’s has been such a trip. I’m glad Ed came into my life early on. The best thing ya can say ‘bout your life is if ya had to do it all over again, ya’d do the same thing. I can say that, and I would.

I think it’s time I tell the whole world a little bit ‘bout my bother Ed. Here’s something I’d never dare tell from the East Wing while Ed was alive. Ed didn’t like being the center of attention. He didn’t have that need in his life, like many people do. But the things he did in his life made him such. But only in a very select circle of people. I’m forever humbled to be included in that circle.

Now most everybody I know has come in contact with the delivery of a UPS package. Ya know what I’m talking ‘bout, the guy in the brown truck that brings ya a package, reaches ya a little box and asks ya to sign your name in a little window, gives ya a pencil that’s not really a pencil, just a plastic stick, but, somehow that plastic sick still works to write your name in that little window of the magic box….. Yeah, that thing ya just signed your name on, that’s what I’m talking ‘bout.

Ed Lopez invented the magic box for UPS. Now is that cool or what! I call it the magic box, Ed called it a “delivery information Acquisition Device”, or DIAD.

But before he invented the magic box Ed created the worlds very first robot ever with the ability to sort packages. And the Lord knows that UPS had a need to sort packages, that’s what those folks do, just sort and deliver packages, really quick..

Ed grew up in Florida and was educated in Chicago as an engineer then spent his whole working career in the service of United Parcel Service, UPS. How many people do ya know who can say they worked their whole life on one job. Ed was a computer researcher, well before PC’s existed.

There was a time when the computer research department of UPS consisted of Ed and his boss Stu. I never met Stu, but heard much ‘bout how the two worked long hours on ideas and concepts to develop what today is the computer system that drives UPS. Those Brown Trucks roll today, due in part to the computer research done by brother Ed and Stu.

After retirement a cancerous tumor was discovered in Ed’s leg and his leg had to be amputated. He spent the remaining years of his live in complete misery from non relinquishing pain. It never stopped, it never went away. Even with the pain, Ed and I talked by computer most every day. Every day Ed felt up to it.

Ed taught me everything I know ‘bout computers, Ed taught me how to discuss technical stuff with non technical people. One of the things Ed told me early in my learning process of computer technology was “if ya can’t take computer technology and express it in “people language”, ya don’t really understand what you’re trying to talk about.” Learn it first. Talk about it later” was what Ed told me early on when I was learning ‘bout the computers. And I did learn it first before I talked ‘bout it later, and still talk ‘bout it when he’s gone.

The first portable computer I ever saw, Ed brought to Indiana, just to show me. Damn near big as a suitcase, brought it to show me, and let me touch and push the keys. Ed told and showed me the concept of database information before data base programs were ever developed. UPS used the concepts developed by their computer research department to just get bigger and better at what they do, deliver packages, much faster than the Post Office.

My Sister Barbara is a Registered Nurse, and received her nursing degree at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. It was while Barbara was at Michael Reece she met Ed Lopez. And she brought him home, home to Toto IN. Ya gota remember now we’re hillbillies living in downtown Toto, and my sister going to Nursing School at Michael Reece in Chicago, and I’m so proud I’m busting my britches, my sister Barbara’s why I’m so proud.

And then one weekend Barbara brings to Toto Ed Lopez. And I loved Ed from the first time I saw ‘em, he’s a boy, I’m a boy and we need each other. Me and Ed, we just do, need each other. From the very first time I meet Ed I hope my sister Barbara will marry ‘em ‘cause I realized how much I’m needing a brother and Ed’s footing the bill really good.

Barbara and Ed do decided to marry. Ed asked me to be the best man. I was not even a man, I’ve just turned 16, but I was for sure glad to be asked to be the best boy at that wedding. There has never been a day in my life where I was more happy than to be the best man at the wedding of Ed Lopez, when he married my Sister Barbara. For being the best man at his wedding, Ed gave me a tie tack and cuff links. That wedding was a long time ago, but to this day, the only tie tack I’ve ever worn, ever, is the black Onex , giver to me by brother Ed.

When Ed passed away last year, I went to Georgia, my Sister Barbara gave me a tie to wear to the Funeral Mass, it was one of Ed’s ties. It had been arranged that I would participate in the mass by doing one of the reading.

For those who may not be familiar with the Catholic Mass, there are three bible reading during the service. It’s very common that lay people like myself read the first two and the priest does the final reading from the bible after which he provides his homily.

I’d been provided a copy of my reading a day in advance. Now I’ve got no problem speaking to large crowds, I’ve done that many times in the past. Speaking in front of a crowd was not an issue at all. It was the occasion that brought fear and trepidation to my soul. I didn’t know if I would talk or cry when it was my turn to do my part at Ed’s Funeral Mass. I was determined to do it right. And just like any speech I’ve ever give to a large crowd, I memorized the reading I was to deliver for Ed’s Funeral Mass the next morning.

When the time came, I stood up from my pew where I was setting, walked to the front of the church, all the while praying to God that he not let me cry in front of all these people. When I reached the spot where I was to deliver the reading, I turned and looked into a sea of sad faces. Tears were near my eyes.

It was there in a beautiful new Catholic Church in Roswell GA, wearing Ed’s own tie and the same tie tack he gave to me when I was the Best Boy at his wedding, with both hands firmly on the podium, and no notes in front of me, while looking directly into that sea of sadness, I spoke the gospel, as I cried inside. ‘Cause Ed wouldn’t want me to cry at his Funeral Mass . Me and Ed, we loved each other. I think we still do.

Now an exciting part ‘bout me and Ed. After retirement, Ed was asked to be a member the board of trustees for an observatory out there in Arizona. The Lowell Observatory up in the mountains. Out there some where ‘round Flagstaff. Ed accepted and sat on the board of directors for some time.

When Ed passed away the folks at the Lowell Observatory decided a way to honor Ed for not only his service to the Lowell Observatory, but also his life’s work, was to name an asteroid after him.

And so it came pass that Asteroid 22723 Edlopez (1998 SS58) got it’s name. If ya do a Google search on asteroid Edlopez you’ll find the following message:

“Discovered September 17, 1998 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station in Flagstaff, Arizona. As a research engineer, Edward (“Ed”) B. Lopez, III (1939-2010), created the first industrial robot to automate parcel sorting. His team designed the DIAD (Delivery Information Acquisition Device), a handheld data collector used to record and transmit delivery information.

Asteroid 22723 Edlopez is a main belt asteroid, orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter every 4.21 years. The asteroid’s diameter is 4-3 km.”

If ya go to the NASA website and search under asteroids, ya’ll find the same thing ‘bout the Asteroid 22723 Edlopez, but with lots more technical data. When I first looked at the NASA stuff ‘bout Ed, I almost cried. It was sooooooo Ed Lopez. All the known technical information on this asteroid is being displayed at the NASA website. Ed would’ve loved it.

Ed loved numbers. And could do amazing things that everyday people like me and you could never do. Not only couldn’t do, couldn’t even think ‘bout doing. Ed could look at the Rubix Cube from any position, put it behind his back and in a few seconds return it to the home position. That’s no joke, I saw him do it a lot. I tried one time behind my back, dropped the damn thing and gave up. But Ed could do it any time.

And so some night when the weather is really clear, probably next January. I’ll try to put my telescope on the Ed Asteroid, it may be too small for my ‘scope to see, but I’ll try, ‘cause Ed would want me to try. One time we were talking ‘bout life in general and Ed made the comment, “if ya don’t try, ya don’t know”. I’ll try to see, and then I’ll know.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, Spike The Man Cat, Tigers I’ve Know, Brother Ed and UPS, Asteroid 22723 Edlopez

I Wish You Well,