Goodbye My Friend – Lance Washington (1967-2016)


Lance Washington 1967-2016

I met my best friend, Lance Washington, while we were working at QVC shopping channel almost thirty years ago.  We worked the overnight shift, answering telephones and taking orders.  I had relocated to Pennsylvania from Tennessee, and kept to myself at work (my southern accent meant I had to repeat everything I said – people just loved listening to my accent – so I stayed pretty quiet).  I typically sat alone, read books during my shift, ate lunch alone, took breaks alone.

One night, I heard some boisterous laughter from the row behind me.  There was Lance, standing and laughing with everyone around him.  He towered over everyone.  There was a group of people around him, literally waiting to hear what he would say next.

I wondered to myself, “Who is this guy, and why is he so popular?”

I didn’t know at the time that he was wondering about me, “Who is this guy, and why is he always in a shell by himself?”

Eventually, Lance introduced himself to me, and we discovered we had a shared passion – we both loved movies.  We quickly became friends, and we often went to the movies together, usually at least once a week.  We did have our differences, though.  Lance was a Star Trek person – I’m Star Wars all the way.

A few years later, I relocated back to Tennessee, and we lost touch.  I often wondered how Lance was doing, and where he was, but almost twenty years had passed.  I wondered if he ever thought about me.

Then one night I got a comment on my blog.  A simple, one-line comment: “Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” (The original Batman movie in 1989 was one of my favorites.)  I knew immediately it was Lance.  After twenty years, he had found me, and our friendship was reborn.

He met my son Nicholas – now an adult.  Lance had not seen Nick since Nick was a baby, yet took him in like he was family. Nick has called him Uncle Lance ever since.

This past July, Lance was spending a week in Gatlinburg, TN, and invited us to come out and spend some time with him.  Nicholas went, and I took my youngest son Jonathan and his friend Kason.  Jonathan and Kason were instantly taken with Lance, and started calling him “Uncle Lance” immediately.

We spent a few days in Gatlinburg, and though he had several health issues Lance spent a day with us walking through Gatlinburg, going to museums and posing for an old-time photo.  It was a great day.  On the last day together, we had pancakes at one of the pancake restaurants in Pigeon Forge, then said our goodbyes (and started planning a trip for next year).

Unfortunately, Lance won’t be there in person next year.  He passed away last Friday (September 16, 2016) at the age of 48.

In this day of Facebook and other social media, it seems everyone has thousands of friends.  But there’s usually just a very special one or two people in our lives we consider to be our closest, truest friends.  The kind of friends you can count on one hand.  The stars of your own personal movie.  

Lance was, for me, that one true friend.

I’m the kind of person who remembers “events” – I remember going places, who went with me, but the details of the events usually leave my memory over time.

Lance remembered “moments” – he recalled details of events we shared almost thirty years ago to my boys, all the way down to the weather of the day.  He had an incredible memory, and as he told the stories of our times together – complete with his infectious laugh – I could see those times were as important to him as they were to me.

There are some people you meet in life and you know your life is better simply because they were a part of it.  The world seems dimmer today, as it has truly lost a shining light.

Goodbye my friend.  Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. Thank you for being such an important part of my life. I will miss you and love you for the rest of my days.  Rest in peace.

Kevin, Lance, Kason, Jonathan

Blogging, Traffic, And Search Engines…

Since I’ve been blogging a bit for the past few days, I thought I’d check my blog stats and see where my traffic is coming from. Interestingly, I found a few hits today that came from a Google Images Search. The keywords/phrase for the searches were “it’s not fair that I’m ugly” (which really piqued my curiosity) — so I did a Google Images Search on that phrase and sure enough, on the first page of the results was an image from one of my “ugly” forms from a recent blog post.

In case you’re wondering why all of a sudden I’ve started blogging regularly again — I’m tired of searching for FoxPro on the web and getting back a results page full of game callers — I’m hoping that if I start blogging more maybe other folks will start blogging more (hint, hint, all you bloggers that haven’t blogged in forever), and maybe FoxPro will be more to the search engines than just a tool for hunting…  😉

I’ve got to admit, I am absolutely fascinated by Google, their competitors, and their algorithms.

Lately I’ve been watching the show Catfish on MTV (based on the film by the same name). I wonder if I were to create an “Angelina, Nude FoxPro Developer” page if Visual FoxPro would suddenly become the most popular programming language ever…

Could happen 😉



“So, Where Ya Been?”

Over the past year or so, I’ve received a couple of emails from folks asking why my blog had disappeared.

Last week, I found a post on Foxite asking “What happened to Kevin Ragsdale?”

My response (edited for this post) was:

I’m still alive, just been a bit less visible over the last couple of years due to personal and professional reasons.

Professionally, I was bored. Bored with my (non-FoxPro, all ASP.NET/VB6/SQL Server) job and uninspired to do anything. I spoke at the Advisor conference in early 2007 and was very disappointed in my preparation and delivery of the sessions (and non-delivery of session materials). Then I spoke at FoxForward in September and was, once again, disappointed in my preparation.

All of this built up and I felt I just didn’t have anything interesting to say anymore.

On the personal side I would have left my stuff online, but I deleted most everything based on my attorney’s advice, during a child support and custody battle.

It looked like the court would side with me, until my ex’s attorney showed up with copies of all of my blog postings, screenshots of my websites, pictures of me speaking at conferences (and enjoying more than a beer, or two, or ten), etc.

My attorney — worthless piece of garbage that he was — folded like frightened child he saw this presentation of my “success.”

According to them, I was a highly successful, world-famous (thanks to the Desktop Alerts) software developer who had taken a lesser job solely to reduce my child support payments.

Of course, I knew I was barely scratching by on the only job I could find in a five-month job search, but according to them I was simply the worst of all deadbeat dads.

Sometimes, an online profile just doesn’t work out.

In 2008, after attending a “town hall” meeting with my congressman, I decided to launch an independent run for Congress. For a few months, all of my energy (except the 40-hours per week at the job) was directed at that — didn’t work out too well, though — I finished 4th out of 4 candidates, behind a guy that said ‘selective breeding is the solution to the health care crisis in America.’

If I ever feel I’ve got something interesting to say, I’ll start blogging again. I have a new job, this time all FoxPro, which has completely rejuvenated me!

So, it all boiled down to some really bad advice and an irrational response to an impossible situation…

Flattered that anyone showed any interest in my thoughts, I spent most of the day Saturday combing through the Wayback Machine and a couple of old external hard drives, picking out as many of the old blog posts I could find, and ended up recreating 74 of the old posts.

As it turns out, “deleting” your “stuff” on the internet can be pretty doggone difficult, thanks to search engine caching and archives.

In the process of searching, I found that an old blog post of mine was used as a reference for a patent Microsoft was granted in August of last year.


Anyway, I’m now working full-time again with Visual FoxPro, and I’m looking forward to sharing my new development experiences with you.

Visual FoxPro ROCKS!!!