Category: Information Governance

Discussing the Chief Information Governance Officer with AHIMA

Good article from Mary Butler over at AHIMA that does a nice job of describing both my enthusiasm and wariness on the CIGO role:

Blair, however, has been among the most outspoken IG experts to advocate for the widespread adoption of the role chief information governance officer (CIGO), which would, ideally, put IG in the C-suite of an organization. In a blog post, Blair writes that he’s been encouraged by executive-level roles with IG functions, such as chief data officer.

He admits, however, that it is “simplistic to believe a new C-level title will solve anything on its own. In fact, in the past couple of decades we have seen some of these titles amount to little more than an empty office and a PR bump. Even with this knowledge and caution, I do believe that the idea of a C-level role for IG at least helps to bring attention and focus to the current, vast information leadership gap.


Information Governance Initiative – the 2015-16 IGI Annual Survey

Please take our survey and help shape the future of Information Governance.

eDisclosure Information Project

IGIThe Information Governance Initiative has launched a survey whose results will extend knowledge of the spread of information governance thinking and practice and inform future developments.

They will be published in an annual report which will include materials such as infographics which the rest of us will be able to use in presentations and other materials.

Begin the survey here.


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How did we do on the Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO) Summit?

The single most important industry event I have yet attended; densely packed with immediately useable approaches, methodologies and best practices; staffed by passionate and supremely experienced SMEs – both within and extraneous to the discipline – providing a 360-degree view of the imminent CIGO revolution; overall a grand slam. A definite repeat for next year!

Richard Kessler, Head of Group Information Governance, UBS AG

Most organizations like the Information Governance Initiative do not publicly share the results of post-event surveys, but I work hard to be different and transparent. So, in that spirit, I am going to share results of the May 2015 CIGO Summit participant survey that just came in.

Overall, I’m really happy to see that in almost every metric we exceeded our goals. In one area we could have done better, but I knew that would be the case going in and will explain why. If you missed the CIGO Summit, check out this excellent write-up on the event.

Key results

Overall Event Satisfaction

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So honored to be a part of such a diverse group of IG experts. The ability to collaborate and discuss directly with your speakers is invaluable! Leave it to the IGI to start the trend away from the power point/listen/5-minute Q&A all are accustomed to. Exactly what separates IGI/Barclay and the Gang from the impersonators. (Ok – might need to not be so harsh – I’ve been drinking)


Nearly all participants said they were very satisfied (71%) or satisfied (20%) with the event, proving that our commitment first and foremost to events that provide value to the participants is paying off. As insiders, we have seen with our own eyes that most industry events are actually designed almost exclusively for the sponsors. I believe that this serves neither the sponsors nor the participants. It is a difficult balance to strike, and it is much more work to put the participants first. For the CIGO Summit, we undertook a “by invitation only” model, which meant that I personally invited or approved each and every participant in the room. Believe me, this process is not fun and I had many painful conversations with excellent consultants and experts (personal friends in many cases) as to why they could not attend. Why? Because I wanted to make sure that the room was filled with senior, working IG practitioners. The providers in the room were a select number of excellent subject matter experts from IGI supporters who had funded the event itself. Quite frankly, without those supporters, this event would not have happened. We simply cannot charge attendees enough to cover the costs, much less pay ourselves (see below for more details).

This process was the right process for this event, given its focus and goals. It is not the right, or even necessary, process for other events that we do. For example, our next big event, InfoGovCon15 is inexpensive ($400 or less for 2.5 days), democratic (with session voting), and open to all.

As good as these results were, I have to say it still bothers me personally that 1 person (the 3.2% below) said that they were “very dissatisfied” with the event. Why? What did we do wrong? Were you at the wrong event? If you are reading, please contact me and let me know.

Why Did People Come to the Event?

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It is so important, as we all march down this new road, that we learn from each other and exchange lessons learned. I love that this forum gave me a chance to meet my peers and be educated!

Vicki Lee Clewes

Nearly 100% of participants said that the reason they attended was to “learn what others are doing to advance information governance at their organizations.” It is very rewarding to see this result because so much of what we do at the IGI is focused on connecting our members to other members. You consistently tell us things like, “please just help us understand what other organizations are doing,” a request we have worked to fulfill in multiple ways, including our Annual Report, our online community of thousands of IG practitioners, our IG Boot Camps, our soon-to-be-published Benchmarking Report, and events like CIGO Summit and InfoGovCon. The next most common answer was “to network,” a very closely related concept.

How We Did on the Details

What a great and diverse group of colleagues. The event allowed us to share our IG stories. It is so helpful knowing I’m not alone in my IG pain.

Sharon Keck, Polsinelli, PC

Events live or die based on the details, and I was happy that each aspect of our conference from the smallest detail to the highest-level theme was highly rated. (i.e., in each case, higher than 4 out of 5). For example, participants rated the speakers at 4.45, the registration process 4.6, and the individual interaction at 4.26.


Our Speakers

Information is not an IT problem, but a business problem. The CIGO Summit provided the perfect vehicle for developing a corporate cross-functional information strategy (Marketing, E-Discovery, Compliance, IR, Business Practices investigations, etc.) that balances organizational legal and technical challenges while maintaining business critical information in a consistent and defensible manner in order to deliver critical elements to support sustainable growth. I highly recommend it to those that wish to align themselves with thought leaders in the space. Get out in front of the information conundrum (volume rich, knowledge poor) and become an advocate for change.

Tim Kaufman, UTC

Our speakers, who we chose very careful and curated to fit into the overall theme and goal of the event, were also rated very highly, with each speaker receiving a rating over 4 out of 5. A certain senior level IGI official, who hosted and facilitated the event, received the highest speaker rating (but please don’t tell him that as he is already almost unbearable).

Unlike most industry events, we folded paid, professional speakers into the program because we wanted to expose our participants to fresh, expert viewpoints that would help them grow as IG leaders. Those speakers were also rated highly (4.43 and 4.11). We also put our sponsor speakers through the wringer, asking them to encapsulate their most important messages into a 6 minute and 40 second presentation comprised of 20 slides that auto-advance every 20 seconds. Each one of our sponsor speakers (Sue TrombleyRob HamiltonJulie Colgan, and Trent Livingston) rose to the challenge and did a magnificent job under pressure in providing useful, targeted information for this audience, and they were highly rated as well (an average rating of 4 out of 5).

What Did Participants Like Most About the Event?

Participating in the CIGO Summit was a unique opportunity to engage with many of IG’s leading professionals. The thorough and fast-paced agenda exceeded my expectations, both from a content perspective and as a venue for the frank exchange of ideas.

Susan Wortzman

Here’s what participants told us they liked most about the event:

  • Seniority of delegates.
  • Event size and very interactive.
  • So many senior IG people in one place- there is power in numbers and an agreement on how to move forward.
  • Impactful agenda. Powerful interaction. Brilliantly executed.
  • The interaction with brilliant IG visionaries and practitioners.
  • The care with which it was designed.
  • Being able to interact with so much talent and experience.
  • Being involved with people promoting an emerging field
  • The professionalism with which polarized opinions could be discussed
  • Incredible gathering of IG thought leaders. Great speakers, great activities.
  • I learned a lot, got inspired, and met lots of smart people.
  • Practical insight from practitioners, war stories, gathered a really high-quality group
  • I liked the mix of people who attended and the content was excellent.
  • The constant collaboration and not just a PowerPoint and a person – it was like having a conversation with your speaker.

What Did Participants Like Least About the Event?

When designing this event, I had a pretty good idea what the answer to this question would be:

  • Compressed timeframe.
  • I actually would have liked it to be longer.
  • Intense day – very packed.
  • Not enough time for topic.
  • Not enough time!
  • Time crunch.
  • Very long intense day. Might be better over 1 1/2 days.
  • Went too fast.
  • That it only lasted a day.

I literally cannot think of the last time I went to an event and left thinking that it was too short. If we had to fail in some way, I’m happy to fail in this way. I absolutely acknowledge that that we tried to do too much in one day. But, we had committed to a one-day event (somewhat arbitrarily I suppose, based on the assumption that it would be easier to pull off, which now I realize is not true) a long time ago, and needed to stick with it.

So, I aggressively cut and cut until I arrived at what I though needed to be the minimum topics we needed to cover. I knew it would be intense. I knew it would be too much. But I was more comfortable making a mistake in that direction than the other, which I could not bear: i.e., empty, fluffy, retread content full of the same old platitudes squeezed between hour-long “networking breaks.”

Let’s talk about some of the other things that people did not like:

  • “Having vendors there.”

The market simply does not enable us to host an event like this, with people of this level of seniority, in an accessible major city, with the expected level of fit and finish, without sponsors. Without sponsors, the ticket price of this event just to allow us to break even on the hard costs would have been over $2500, which seems like a lot for a one-day event that does not result in some kind of certification or specific set of marketable skills, or at least promise to change your life forever. If we actually wanted to make money, and cover the thousands of hours of planning and execution time an event like this takes, we would have to charge much more.

Or, we can ask for the support of the providers in our IGI community, which we did. But, we did it in a very considered way. Our sponsors were allowed to send 1 or 2 people (depending on sponsor level) to the event, and not sales and marketing people. They needed to be senior IG subject matter experts who could contribute to the discussion. And that is what we did – we had several of the most recognized provider SMEs in the room who added great value to the discussion.

Also, there is a very clear and obvious reason to “have vendors in the room.” Quite simply, the problem of IG cannot be solved without technology. In my view, information about what technology is available and what it can to is just as valuable as information about experiences, successes, techniques, and tips. At the IGI our mission it to promote IG as far and wide as we can, and that includes promoting awareness of what is possible with technology currently available on the market.

Now the obvious question: why don’t we just do the event at a less expensive location, and let participants pay a lower rate, but one that would cover both the hard and soft costs? Well, if anyone has any ideas on how we attract and satisfy a room of CxO, SVP, VP, and Director-level attendees who already have too much on their plates to an event, venue and location that costs less than half of what a typical venue costs, please call me immediately at 646 450 4468. That being said, the hotel conference business is not a pleasant one, and we are looking at alternative venues and approaches that can both reduce costs and increase attendee value.

Would People Attend Again?

Hard numbers and soft skills: Great case studies, roadmaps and networking toward elevating the information governance stewardship. Thank you.

Mary Mack

84% of people who attended said it was very likely (52%) or likely (32%) that they would attend this event again next year. We will do this event again, and evolve it each time, many more times. The focus of this first event was to introduce the concept of the CIGO, and to build a Playbook that aspiring CIGOs and other in that ecosystem could use to explain the role and help build the case for it (look for the first edition of the Playbook in July). We will continue to provide education, networking, and community around the topic of IG leadership. We got the ball rolling with this event and will continue as a core part of our mission.

Thank you to everyone who attended and to everyone who made this event a success. If you want to participate in or support our next CIGO Summit, please let me know.


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Drinker Biddle names Bennett Borden as Chief Data Scientist to lead the firm’s data analytics strategy

What a pleasure and honor to work with Bennett.

eDisclosure Information Project

There was a time when the roles of corporate professional advisers were sharply defined. Accountants did the sums, audited accounts and gave financial advice while lawyers dealt, largely reactively, with a well-compartmentalised class of problems which involved meeting legal obligations, securing proprietary rights and bringing or defending litigation claims; IP specialists and a range of others with specific skills or qualifications were hired as needed.

That compartmentalisation broke down when the larger accounting firms extended their roles, either by taking work away from lawyers or by offering services which met clients’ needs (whether they knew of those needs or not) and furthered their objectives. I refer in this context, as I have done before, to an article written in 2011 by Tom Kilroy, now Chief Administrative Officer and Chief of Staff at Misys, called Big 4 a reason. The article describes how the big consulting firms moved on from…

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Was This The Phone Call With IT When Hillary Clinton Refused an Official Email Account?

Interesting times the past couple of day, with revelations that Hillary Clinton exclusively used a personal email account and also a private email server in her home to conduct business while she was Secretary of State. Illegal? Election politics? Bad practice? Why was it necessary? All valid questions.

There must have been a conversation between executives and the IT department at the Secretary of State’s office about this, and it’s fascinating to imagine how that conversation went. What reasons were offered? Did anybody push back? Was there a discussion of why this was a bad idea for everyone except Hillary (or maybe her as well – time will tell).

Federal Records Act or not, it is nearly impossible for me to imagine the same conversation happening in the private sector –  a high-powered executive who comes into a company and demands to use their own email server and their Gmail account to conduct all company business. It just wouldn’t happen, at least not any any company that has read a newspaper in the past 20 years.

I’ve been listening to vintage Bob Newhart lately, specifically “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” which amazingly was his first big standup performance, recording, and the one that made him a star. In the spirit of Bob, here’s how that phone call might go.

Hey Steve, Barry here. How are things in IT? Good? Good.
I need to talk to you about getting the new VP of Sales set up. Yeah, she’s starting Monday.
Yeah, that Hilary. Yeah from the New York office. Right, big promotion.
Anyway, let’s see if we can get her all set up for Monday . . .
What’s that?
A call from her? What she she say?
She doesn’t want an email account? Well why not?
She didn’t say? How are we going to communicate with her?
She wants to only use a personal Gmail account?!?  And she has her own email server at her house . . . you said no, of course . . .
You didn’t?  What the hell, Steve . . . . yeah . . . yeah . . . authority from who?
She didn’t say?
She was scary? Like scary how?
Hmm. Right. And there’s no way we can talk her out of it?
She wouldn’t take the job?!
She sounded serious did she?
OK, fine, fine.
Don’t we have policies on this kind of thing, Steve?
Nobody takes them seriously?
I know the email system is terrible, Steve . . . yeah I know you need more budget . . .  right, right . . . but listen, I use the damn thing.
What the hell are we going to do if we get sued?  How do we get her email from Gmail? How do we make sure she isn’t spreading our stuff all over the place?
We can’t?
What did the lawyers say?
Haven’t returned your calls?
Just as well, you remember what happened last time those bastards stuck their fingers . . .
Yes, I know I’m a lawyer, Steve. That’s why I can make those jokes.

A Eulogy for my Grandfather

James Cecil BlairOver the holiday season while were visiting family in Alberta, Canada, my 92-year-old grandfather –  who had been healthy and active his whole life – passed away. He went quickly and surrounded by his family, and I was honored to be there with my family and to participate in his funeral. I was asked to make a “slide show,” and spent a couple of days with hundreds of photos going back to the 1920s, which was a beautiful way to meditate on this man’s life. I can’t say that I was particularly close to him as an adult –  our lives diverged in many important ways –  but I loved and respected him.

I thought I would share a eulogy that I delivered at the funeral. I stood alongside my Uncle, sister, and two cousins who did an amazing job remembering Cecil, as did his children and the rest of the family.

Eulogy for James Cecil Blair
February 13, 1922 – December 27, 2014

James Cecil Blair, my Grandfather, was a man who had everything. A man who built, with his hands and his grit and his faith, an entire world. An empire that began with just two cows and a saddle. Also, of course, a man who would be mortified to hear me describe him this way. There are more than 40 people in this world whose lives – who they are and how they live – are a direct result of Cecil and his wife of 71 years, Chrissie. A man who, despite living to nearly 93, was survived by all his children.

My Grandfather built a legacy. A legacy in his land, in his church, in the Christian camps he built and supported, and in the lives of his family and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He left this world with his reputation solidly intact and the love and respect of two large communities, one here in Brooks and one in Youngstown. He was given many years, each one of them with the woman he loved, and until the end: health, spirit, love, wit, pleasure, clarity, and memory. His name, his memory will now be carried forward by a dozen, then dozens, then hundreds.

If this is not a picture of a man who had everything, then I don’t know what a such a picture would look like.


Grandpa had more than one successful career, at least to the extent that you can call farming a career. One career was as a pioneering farmer and rancher right in the middle of the Palliser Triangle; a part of the world that the Royal Geological Society in London declared in the 1800s as unsuitable for human settlement, and also made very clear that nobody should ever try to settle there, much less farm. He had other careers, or at least avocations, as a building mover, an inventor, a whisker rubber, a harmonica player and jigger, a hobbyist haymaker, a land developer, and of course a semi-professional par 3 golfer and curler. Grandpa was curling up to a couple of weeks before his death.

What do you say about a man who had all of this?

Well done, certainly. Great job, of course, and even congratulations. But what else?

Here are a few more things.

I knew Cecil Blair primarily through one lens, that of my grandfather. A grandfather that I no doubt saw nearly every day for the first 5 years of my life as we shared a farm yard, probably at least weekly for the next 8 or 9 after we moved a few miles away, then monthly, then annually, then every year or two over the rest of my life.

As it is with your grandparents, you don’t necessarily know much about them as non-grandparents. Was he a good husband? Based on the evidence of 71 years with Grandma, it feels safe to assume so. In fact, I remember Grandpa publicly declaring his love for her in a self-knowing joke that could have been written specifically for him and the rest of the “Blair Men” as my mother likes to say.

At the end of a big family do for their 50th wedding anniversary, Grandpa came up to the mic to say a few words, and among those words he told a story about an old Scotsman and his wife. One day at the breakfast table, years and years into their marriage, his wife asked him, “why do you never tell me that you love me?” The old Scotsman replied, “I told you that I loved you on the day I married you and if anything changes, I will let you know.”

Aside from being my grandfather, what was James Cecil Blair like as a man? Again, I can safely assume from what I saw and heard over the decades that he was a good man. A man with flaws, like all of us. A man that could be harsh and even insensitive. A man driven to work, and work, and work some more. I remember a family friend telling me as a teenager that there was something most people in our community knew about called “the Blair work ethic,” and hinted that like my grandfather and my father, and the other Blairs, I might have it too. That was a strange but valuable moment of self-consciousness and awareness of the tradition that I came from, and one that I have tried in my own way to honor.


I can tell you from a young age, without being able to put into words why, I knew I was proud to have the last name Blair. To be part of Grandpa’s family.

When I was young and trying to figure out who I was – not that I have it figured out still – I used to believe that every aspect of who we are is fungible, changeable, up for grabs. That you could, for example, move to a new place, get a new job, grow your hair long, grow a beard and, say, pierce a couple of holes in your ear, and you would be a whole new person, a creature entirely of your own making.

But, it has taken me many more years to realize that this is a lie. Only about 20-30% of you is up for grabs, and the rest of you is you, for better or for worse. It took me years to realize that I am, in fact, my mother’s son, my father’s son, and of course, my grandfather’s grandchild.

So what became a part of me, the center part of me, I could not change even if I wanted to.

How fortunate then, how incredibly lucky then, to be the grandson of Cecil Blair.

* * *

1960s (1 of 13)

There was a kind of frontier sense of justice and toughness in Grandpa. I’m told that by the time I was around, he had mellowed somewhat, and that by the time the great-grandchildren were around, he was practically a pussycat. As tough as he was, I’m told he was a real softie compared to his own father Floyd.

The greatest compliment you can pay a young boy is to treat him like a man. Grandpa knew that and my father knew that when raising me. The day that my dad let me cut in a wheat field on my own with a swather was and will always be one of the most important days in my life.

You could also argue that Grandpa kind of taught me to swim – using the sink or swim method. When I was a baby, Grandpa wanted to weigh in my training as a swimmer, and asked my mom to hand me over to him as he stood in the dugout, telling her that babies just naturally know how to swim. She wasn’t convinced, and resolutely refused.

Grandpa’s views on swim training were tested a few years later at a family waterskiing party down at Fisher’s Dam. I was too young to waterski so I was playing in the mud on the edge of the dam and I suddenly slipped down a steep drop-off where I couldn’t touch the bottom and I started thrashing and screaming and my mom screamed (i.e., a kind of quiet gasp) and ran towards me but Grandpa stopped her and there I was drowning until I finally got close enough to touch bottom and it turns out that I didn’t die after all. I don’t know if this taught me anything but at least it gave me a good story and something to present to my kids as evidence that we were so much tougher back in my day. Water wings and blowing bubbles in the pool – ha – throw you in the dam and see if you float.

After my dad and Grandpa separated their farms we would still work together a lot, including in the spring when it was cattle branding time. Now my dad and his dad didn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on everything – a state of affairs that seems to continue on down the line, and one of those things was the method of branding. Of course when my brother and I were heading over to Grandpa and Uncle Merle’s to brand, we pretty much understood that we weren’t supposed to say that the way that God intended branding to be done was with horses, cowboys, ropes and sitting in fresh calf manure while trying not to get burned, cut, fried with dehorning acid or kicked in the head. We weren’t supposed to say that because the way we branded at Grandpas was with a calf cradle –  a mechanical device that holds the calves still. We didn’t say anything but we kind of hated it.

Anyway, one time I was pushing what seemed like the 3000th calf through the chute and was straddling the chute with a foot on both sides and my feet slipped and I fell face first into the mud and the calf in front of me was loaded up and ready and kicked me square in the mouth and laughed about it too, leaving me with a split lip and chipped tooth and a pretty huge wound to my pride and I was hurt and mad and even may have been crying a little and I stumbled over to Grandpa and blubbered that a calf had kicked me in the face, and, looking up for a second from castrating bawling soon-to-be-steer, I saw for an instant the look which said well, are you still breathing and if so, why isn’t the next calf coming down the chute? Then he looked back down then up again and seeing that I didn’t seem to be moving anywhere, muttered go see your grandmother and I trudged to the house and I frankly I didn’t get much sympathy there either.

Here is what I learned from his life.

Living with Dignity

I learned from him that you should strive to live your life with dignity. This means conducting yourself in a way that demands that people treat you with respect. This means working hard to ensure your words and actions line up, looking out for your blind spots, and treating others as your equals, even if they are not. It means a clean truck, a straight furrow, getting the crop in early, and staying in the field late. It means not doing business with some people. It means not indulging in anger when it would feel so great and even right, letting go of personal slights, and paying attention to the context you live in. It means living like you see the beauty and worth of life, and striving to fulfill your potential and live up to your promises even if, while doing so, you are poor. It means living this way even if you are rich. At its worst, this quality can be exclusionary, narrow and even bigoted, but at its best it is what gives life quality and substance.

I think all kids are on some level afraid of their grandfathers. Or at least those grandfathers who were raised during the depression on the bald prairie. Grandfathers where are stalwart, moral, seemingly perfect. I always was. That’s why it was good to be reminded that Grandpa was human.

My friend Kevin, who was working for Grandpa on his farm at the time, told me a story that provided a glimpse into Grandpa’s humanity. One spring day, a muddy day in the corrals, Kevin was busy on one side of a tall windbreak fence, when he heard Grandpa on the other side, struggling to get his quad unstuck. He was pushing and revving and grunting, and then . . .  my Grandpa swore! Yes an actual swear word passed my grandpa’s lips. I never asked Kevin what the swear word was, but there’s a good chance it was something as foul as “crap” or “bloody.”

80 foot header 2


Though I am sure that he would never put it this way, Grandpa was ambitious. Working hard was good, but working smart was even better. A man does not build an operation like his by accident. A man does not start with a saddle and two heifers and turn that into what he did without ambition. Ambition drives you and rewards you and in and of itself it is a value worth honoring, through both success and failure.

The Power of Story

I also learned about the power of the story from my Grandpa. The Blair men don’t really communicate much, but when they do, it’s typically in the form of a story. Stories about people doing the wrong thing at the right time, saying the right thing at the wrong time, and most of all, people doing funny stuff. You can all picture Grandpa approaching you with a twinkle and a crooked smirk and knowing you were in for a treat because he was going to tell you a story – and you knew you would laugh and you would tell that story yourself dozens of times. These stories were passed around and passed along, like a kind of currency that said something real and even profound about both the teller and the listener and bound us together in a sense of shared understanding, experience, and values.

Once I almost drowned myself and my horse trying to swim with him across Fisher Dam during a cattle roundup, ostensibly to cut a few miles off my trip but in reality I did it mostly so I could tell the story to Grandpa and my dad and they would think I was cool. I think they mostly thought I was kind of dumb, but they laughed at my story and that was even better.


It’s no doubt a cliché to say that family is important. The Blairs are not huggers. At family gatherings there are no long meditative soliloquys about how special everyone is.

But as a child there was no mistaking the unspoken message. Family is something to build and protect, and to take seriously.

Grandpa was the first man I remember seeing cry. I was very young, playing with Grandma’s toy farm set on the lino floor in their kitchen when Grandpa got the call that his mother had died. It was also the last time I saw Grandpa cry, or come to think of it, any of the Blair men. Until today.

I also wish I would have learned how to be thrifty, how to be humble, how to dance a jig, how to play golf with just a 7 iron, how to live to 93, how not to get fat, and how to fill a room with people like this who love and respect you. Perhaps there is still time.

* * *

There’s no predicting which memories will stick with a child, which is one of the reasons that raising children is so terrifying. I’ve shared some of the things that I remember about my grandfather. I can’t say that each one of my memories is good – that would be a lie and a disservice, quite frankly, to his memory as a real, living human being. In later years as our cultural tastes, lifestyles, and ultimately religious beliefs diverged, I felt an uncloseable gap open up between us that I mourned.

But those are not the memories that I dwell on.

I dwell on the futility of trying to explain to him how my new digital watch worked or what I did for a living and how his response was always the same – the completely unreadable utterance, “Oh?”

What exactly did that “Oh?” mean?

I dwell on him saying that he heard that the shape of soon-to-be-built Calgary Saddledome hockey  stadium was called a reverse hyperbolic paraboloid and what the heck did that mean, and I must know because I had encyclopedias and was studying high school physics. So I took it as a challenge and wrote a school paper answering that question in excruciating detail and when I presented it to him, illustrations and all, ending with a proud flourish, his response of course was . . . “Oh?”

And finally, I dwell on being out in the treeless pasture on a July day, sweating alongside my grandfather, building a barbed wire fence, the hawks screaming high overhead, then him suggesting that we go for a dip in nearby low spot, and him stripping down naked and I stripped too and the water was cool and smelled like life itself, and for a moment it was just me and my grandpa swimming in the July sun and nothing else.

Bob Rod Grandpa and allen squire