We’re Back!

It’s been 9 years since I updated Michigan Martins. In fact, for several months now the site has been down due to lack of technical updates and no one even noticed, or at least no one contacted me about it.

Why haven’t I done anything with the site all these years? Several reasons.

The first was the growth of social media. I joined Facebook about the time I dropped off updating this site. There were big advantages to using social media to share things, especially that friends and family didn’t have to come to this page to see new content, it would just appear in their facebook feed every day.

The other reason was convenience, or lack thereof. Updating the page, especially the photo albums, was quite a chore. Nothing was all that user-friendly a decade ago. I had envisioned everyone in my family sharing photos here, but that never happened. I can’t blame them. Adding photos to the site required a good bit of technology and time investment. I wrote up tutorial emails and all, but no one invested the time.

Fast forward to 2020, and I’m looking at what’s out there now to make this site work again. Can I make it easy for everyone to add content? Maybe I can even link it to their social media, so things they share there could be added here? I don’t know, but that’s what I’d like to look into.

All of the pictures I posted back then were no longer accessible. Not lost, but not accessible. The photo gallery link was a dead link because the software package I used to organize and display them was long ago abandoned and became incompatible with the current server environment. I’m currently testing new gallery packages and will be importing the pictures back into the one I choose. As of today, there are a few test galleries running.

A lot of the old posts look bad because something they linked to is gone, especially anything involving video. Most of the stuff we did with video in those days was in Flash, and now Flash is being purged from the web. I’ll need to go back and re-encode things and make that work again.

I’ve been re-thinking the social media thing these days. While convenient, it is not a great platform for family, and certainly not good for what I’ve envisioned doing here. Companies like Facebook take ownership of what you post, and determine who is going to see it. No one really wants to post entire galleries on social media, it’s more amenable to a few pictures here and there. Ultimately, I ditched Facebook a few weeks ago because it’s a disgusting company, but that’s another story. I’m still doing some social media with MeWe, but I’m interested in getting back to work on Michigan Martins to make it a legacy family site.

We’re all storing our digital photos and videos somewhere, maybe we can make them accessible to family (and the future of our family) here? At a minimum, it could provide us all with a backup of our valued photos. I’ll be looking at ways to integrate sources like Amazon Photos, where I presently back up everything we do with our phone cameras.

Stay tuned!

Catching up on Pictures

I’ve been putting a lot of new Ryan pictures up in the gallery the past few weeks, but haven’t noted it here yet.

I split the Ryan gallery into years 1, 2, and 3 now. The 3rd year pictures are all the new ones I’ve been putting up. Click on the picture for a direct link to that gallery.

Once you enter a gallery, use the cool slideshow viewer to peruse it.

Dave’s High School Graduation 1984

Dad recorded my HS graduation with his video camera, and I just recently found the VHS and digitized it. I broke it into segments:

Part I: Student speeches (5:50) –

[flv:/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/BHS1984Grad-StudentSpeeches.flv 320 240]

Part II: Commencement speaker (11:56) –

[flv:/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/BHS1984Grad-CommencementSpeaker.flv 320 240]

Part III: The Graduates (12:37) –

[flv:/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/BHS1984Grad-Graduates.flv 320 240]

Part IV: Snippet of Julie, Nate and Aunt Jessie after the ceremony – (0:19)

[flv:/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/JulieNateJessie.flv 320 240]

I think Dad put the video away and went for his still camera before he captured much video, but nice to see…

Ryan Driving his Big Truck

Three weeks ago, Ryan’s Aunts Karen, Julie, Kim and Val and Grandma Lola bought him a nice truck for his 2nd birthday.  Until today, he’s been a bit hesitant to ride it.

We were outside playing, and I talked to him about the truck for a while, then encouraged him to give it another try.  He decided he’d hop in and give it a go.

He doesn’t quite have the steering thing figured out yet, nor the accelerator…but he had fun and it’ll be no time before he’s the King of the Road.

[flv:/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/DSCN9302.flv 320 240]

New Galleries, New Slideshow

I finally got the gallery software updated, and now we have a really neat new slideshow that is much better than the old one. I still have some customization to do, but it’s functional!

I added pictures to Ryan’s 19th month gallery, and then put new ones up for the 20th thru 24th months.

When you get into an album, you’ll find the “view slideshow” link in the left navigation. Try it out! In the first view, you get a 3D “wall” that allows you to peruse the gallery quickly by grabbing and dragging. Then you click on any picture and it will zoom in. From there, you can click the right and left nav arrows to move through the gallery, or click the slideshow icon in the middle to bring it into automatic mode. It’s set for 8 seconds, but you can move thru faster using the arrow button. In the lower left, you’ll find a “full screen” option which is very nice for looking at pictures.

Here’s a quick link to the top-level Ryan gallery. All the new ones are at the bottom.

Let me know how the new slideshow works for you.  One tip:  Right-click on the slideshow and select “settings.”  Increase the local storage limit for the flash application, you’ll probably get better performance.

In Memory of Walter H. Martin, 1931-2010



Dad passed away shortly after midnight early this morning with Karen, Julie, Kim, Val, Dave, Jennifer, Ryan, and his wife Pat at his side .

Dad had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure several months ago.  The primary issue was aortic stenosis, where the aortic valve becomes calcified and decreases in function.  His heart labored to push blood out of the chamber because the valve did not open and close properly.

We elected at that time to decline open heart surgery, as Dad had been through enough over the last several years, and knowing that he had a very difficult time emerging from his hip and knee replacement surgeries, we were not confident that a heart procedure would add to his quality of life, and perhaps put him at risk of losing the quality of life that remained.

Dad lived a good, full life.  He was a 37-year construction electrician with the IBEW local 665, retiring in 1993 at the age of 62.  After retirement, Dad bought a piece of property in Alabama, where he spent his winters until the last few when his failing eyesight finally rendered him incapable of driving.

He had always loved hot air balloons when we were kids, and in the 80s he became a licensed pilot and balloon owner.  Dad loved the whole balloon culture, with the festivals and all the fun.  He made several trips to Albuquerque NM for the big balloon festival there, and also participated in a number of more local festivals.  He particularly enjoyed taking a person up in the balloon for their first time, and the ceremony that followed.

I can characterize my relationship with Dad with one story.  Sometime in the 70s, when I was around 8-10 years old, Dad was working on a job that was demanding massive overtime.  He was working 12-16 hour days for weeks on end, and it was to continue for months into the future.  One day I talked to Dad about the fact that he was never home, how we never got to do anything together like hunting and fishing.  Dad explained to me how much money he was making, that all of the overtime would allow him to have money for this or for that.  I remember telling him that I’d rather have him home than have more money.

The next day, Dad went in and resigned from that job.  Fortunately, as an IBEW member he could quit one company and go to work with another one the next day – but it was still a major statement for him to give up all the overtime money for what he knew was more important.

Dad wasn’t always the most sentimental person, and he didn’t always say what he felt, but if you asked him for help or his time, he was always there for you.  He was a man who expressed himself through action over words.

He always had a lot of pride in his family.  I remember how much he told us about the importance of family, and how “you can do anything you want in this world – you’re a Martin!”

Dad will always be remembered – for better or for worse – for his views on aging:  “The Golden Years Suck” was something we all heard for at least the last decade of his life.  Old age sure didn’t treat him well.  His biggest fear that he told us about when he was younger was losing his eyesight.  There was a history of Macular Degeneration in our family.  Sure enough, about 15 years ago he was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration (dry form) in both eyes.  I remember when it first started, Dad was visiting me in Memphis and described his vision.  He said that when he looked at a straight line, it was wavy.  As the condition progressed, he began losing his central vision and could only see in the periphery.    Dad continued to drive for a lot longer than any of us thought he should, but it was impossible to tell exactly what he could and could not see.  Eventually, he did give up driving altogether a few years back.  Dad sought just about every form of treatment he could for the MD, including acupuncture (which he reported did work, at least nominally, to improve his vision) but in the end, he did wind up legally blind.  For being his biggest fear and then realizing it upon him, he did a pretty good job of dealing with it.

Added to the blindness, Dad also experienced significant hearing loss in his later years, and he had joint pain in his hips and knees for a long time.  We’ll always remember Dad’s home therapy for arthritis.  He hooked up two trowels to a car battery and administered his own shock therapy.  He always claimed that it helped, but eventually the pain worsened and in about 2005 he had a hip replacement.  The doctor told him that he’d need the other one replaced as well.  A few years later, he had a knee replacement – the doctor noted that he’d need the other one of those replaced.  But ultimately, the surgeries took quite a toll on Dad.  He had difficulty recovering from surgery with dementia and such.  After the last knee replacement, we knew that Dad would not be getting another joint replacement.  He walked with crutches for the last few years.  I guess he never liked the idea of a walker.  These experiences made it a much easier decision to not have the open heart surgery.  Dad knew it wouldn’t be good for him, and decided to live out his time.

Add to all of that several years of continually declining memory and bouts with dementia, and you can’t blame Dad for his disappointment in the golden years.

He so looked forward to retirement and enjoying his life of travel and fun, and he really did enjoy the first several years.  But the last decade was tough for him.

When we first learned of the heart failure and made the decision not to have surgery, I had a moment of sadness sitting with Dad in his hospital room.  Dad looked me right in the eyes and told me not to feel bad for him.  He told me that he lived a long and good life, and he didn’t want us to feel bad about his passing.  He had lived his time, and had accepted that his time was nearing the end.  Dad faced death with courage and a deeply held belief that he was on to greener pastures.

As he drew his last breaths, I looked over at my son, Ryan Walter Martin, sleeping in the chair with a blanket over him and nothing showing but a pair of little feet.  I thought about how proud Dad was that his grandson carried his name.  I thought that as one generation of Martins passes, another is new to this world; a week shy of two years old, a pure and open mind, taking in all the splendor that is life.  It was comforting.

I’ll always regret that Ryan won’t remember his time with Grandpa, but am very happy to have pictures and video of them together.

Goodbye Dad.  You will be missed, always.

Ryan’s Latest

It’s been a while since I’ve put up some more Ryan pictures.  I was trying to upgrade the gallery software, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen for now, so I’ll get pics up soon.

In the meantime, Ryan just turned 22 months yesterday and there have been a lot of new developments and fun stuff that I thought I should catch up on.

He’s been able to say his ABCs all the way through for a few months now, and is presently counting up to 16.  He’s fascinated by numbers and letters, one of his favorite toys is the magnetic set of plastic numbers and letters that he got for Christmas.  His other current favorite toys are his mega bloks, play-doh, and the Aquadoodle mat.  His favorite stuffed animals are Big Bear, a white Santa bear from Christmas 2008, his Elmo doll, and his big stuffed puppy.  We often have to move them from one level of the house to another throughout the day when he says “all of them in the tent” or “all of them on the couch.”

On the topic of speaking,  Jen was documenting all of his words but stopped somewhere when he got over a few hundred.   He can communicate quite well with us, putting together 4-8 word sentences (missing a word here or there) to tell us what he wants.  He also likes to repeat everything you say to him to the best of his ability.

Ryan’s got Spring fever big time here in the last two weeks.  Temperatures have gotten into the 60’s several times, so we hear “outside Daddy, outside Mommy!” many times a day.  I’m pretty sure he’d be just fine if you kept him out from sunrise to sunset.  He likes to walk up and down the neighborhood, get pulled around in his wagon, ride on his swing, and play on the neighbors slide.  It has a 6 step ladder that he climbs with ease.

He’s also had a big fascination with water in the last few weeks, so he has to get in the shower with each of us and usually wants it to run until we’re out of hot water.  With both the outdoors sessions and the shower / bath sessions, he’s been getting pretty upset when he has to come inside or get out of the water, although in the last few days that seems to be less of a problem.  The “2’s” stage is upon us, so whenever he wants something, it’s the most important thing in the world at that moment.

Ryan has started toilet training a little bit.  He is able to sit on his potty and pee if we put him on it, but he’s not yet asking for it or indicating that he needs to go.  Whenever he has to poo, you always know it because he goes off to be on his own for a while in another room, and he gets quiet – except for some mild grunting.  So the other day, after I got out of the shower, Ryan wanted to stay in there and play.  After a period of quiet, he was saying something that we weren’t sure of.  I opened the door and he had left a number two on the floor of the shower!  It turns out, he was saying “stain,” which is what he says when he sees a stain on the carpet.  Jen and I got a good laugh out of that one.

A few weeks back, Ryan’s Grandma Lola and Aunt Kim came up to watch him on a Saturday afternoon while Jen and I went out, and they stayed the night at our house.  On Sunday, we had plans to head over to Lansing for Dad’s 79th birthday party at 5 pm.  Kim and Mom left to head back to Lansing at noon the same day, and kind of jokingly asked Ryan if he wanted to go with them.  Just like a little trooper, he went and got his coat, hat, and shoes and climbed into Kim’s van to go on a trip.  He wasn’t in the least bit afraid to leave Mom and Dad, so Kim got to keep him for the afternoon until we all met up at the restaurant for Dad’s birthday.  Apparently, he was as sweet as pie all day, no fussiness about being away from us!  I think he handled it much better than his Mom, in fact.  It was good for Ryan and Aunt Kim to spend some time together.

We’re getting ready to take off his crib rail soon and put on the toddler rail.  He hasn’t started climbing out yet, but I think he’s responsible enough to get out of his own bed when he wants to now.  I’ll probably put a gate at the top of the stairs, just to prevent him from sleepwalking and falling down them.

Two years old in two months!  Time flies…

More Old Photos

I finished putting up the group of pictures that Mom gave me last weekend, there’s about 40 more in the gallery.  I put them below the 1969 family pictures that I put up the other day.

I could use some help filling in the details on some of these, so please use the comment feature – remember, our great grandchildren will be looking at these generations from now, so the more information the pictures have, the better!

Click on the photo below to go to the gallery:

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