One day, for no particular reason, he took his little brother to a movie. It was "Forbidden Planet". Definitely a formative experience for a science fiction writer. And in some ways, he has been the model for some of my YA book heroes. He built his own transistor radio from parts, housed in an old battery case. He ground his own telescope mirror and crafted a 6-inch Newtonian, complete with a tripod made of pipe fittings. I tried to swipe it from him until he reclaimed it after he left the Air Force. I was just the little brother who got in trouble for playing with his model airplanes.
By high school, when I looked into the school's trophy cabinets, I knew I was trying to follow in his footsteps. He was in the ROTC, so I signed up as well. He was a photographer for the school paper. I tried to join the paper as well, but they didn't appreciate my quirky writing style. He got his HAM radio license, I tried but I could never handle the Morse code requirements.
All this came to mind during his visit as we chatted about about the nuts and bolts of my writing work flow. He just has a mind that digs into any process until he understands it. He retired a couple of months ago. California has lost a valuable asset.
Now that he is thinking of traveling and has more free time, I hope I'll get to spend more time with him.