Possum Man

This site is a memorial to, and a clearing house for information related to the unexpected death of, Erik V. Stewart: aka Possum or Possum Man.  Erik was, as we are rapidly finding out, a member of a wide variety of groups that, except for Erik, had little to do with each other.   Hopefully we will be able to join here to commiserate and to get help for the situations that his sudden death has caused.

See the Blog Archive section at the bottom of the page for a full list of discussion threads and topics. Please add anything you would like to share on these topics by clicking on the topic heading and entering a Comment for that post.


Send me an e-mail with your pictures, ideas for new topics, pleas for help, or anything else related to Possum.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Possum on-line

Possum was a Linux advocate. Linux is at the core of the open-source, free software movement and its mascot is the penguin Tux: shown at left here. He used his computer skills to set up a number of sites for volunteer and advocacy groups and probably did some teaching of computer crafts at Anarchist University and other forums. If you were involved with Possum on any Linux projects please tell us about them in a comment by clicking on the comment counter below.

With his sudden death, some of the websites and other systems that he set up are now frozen and may just suddenly disappear because he was the owner of some of the sites' domain names (the URL or interNet address) and was the sole moderator or administrator for others. There is a table of these sites on the Links page of this site. The orderly disposition of the on-line assets of estates is a rather new area for society at large. A friend of mine died about three years ago and the opening up and disposition of his vast on-line worlds was a nightmare. Are there any legal-beagles out there who know the legalities of all this? Is there one way to go about it or does every web hosting company have a different policy? I'm sure the family would be grateful for any help that anyone could give and I, for one, would hate to see all of his programs and on-line discussions just disappear. Send me an e-mail or add a comment by clicking on the comment counter below.

His Day Jobs

Eric generated his money via the IT industry where he was highly respected by his colleagues. From Toronto Bloggist Accordian Guy we hear that he worked at a startup called "Open Cola" for a while. His last job was at IX Maps which is associated in some way with the University of Toronto. People from both places tell essentially the same story about him: he was a mentor to the junior programmers and a unique lateral thinker who was fun to work with.

Anyone know of any other places where he worked? Any tales of Technological Terror to tell from his IT days? Enter your contributions by clicking on the comment counter below.

Possum Man Comics

The origin of the name Possum seems to have been superhero called "Possum Man" which he created in his childhood. His powers were that he was near-sighted and could sleep hanging from his tail! (Not to be confused with The Possum superhero by Blair Kitchen here in Toronto.) Erik seems to have created as least a few comics devoted to this avatar of his but I don't know if they were ever for sale or if they were just put out on a 'zine basis. I have also heard that there were also some autobiographical comics about Possum as opposed to Possum Man.

Does anyone know anything more about or perhaps even possess some of these masterpieces? Post your info in a comment by clicking on the comment counter below.

School Days

Erik perplexed and delighted teachers through a series of alternative schools and then went on to found his own. He started out in a Waldorf School and then went on to SEED. At SEED he famously refused to accept his diploma at the end of his time there because he disagreed with the very idea of diplomas! Some time after that he founded his own (non-diploma-granting I would assume) Anarchist University.

So: Whither Anarchist U now? Did he go to another school after SEED sans SEED diploma? Any SEEDlings out there with any tales to tell? Add your input by clicking on the comment counter below.

Mud House

Mud House, on Manning Avenue here in Toronto, where Possum lived for the last years of his life is a commune which he founded and was a mainstay of. It is explicitly non-hierarchical and anarchistic. The current inhabitants come from a wide variety of backgrounds, orientations and belief systems. I went there after the impromptu memorial gathering in Bell-Trinity Park and it very much reminded me of the Anarchist and Punk habitats of my youth: with the exception of its longevity. In my experience these things have a life expectancy of months before they fall apart but this has been going for about eight years!

The secret sauce seems to have been Possum's skills at conflict mediation and consensus gathering. As one alumni related it to me: "He never seemed to be taking sides in any of the inevitable conflicts but was rather only on the side of coming to a resolution. In addition, in the non-hierarchical tradition of the place, he always related to each person as an equal. Whether you were a newcomer, a long-time resident, a wretched drug addict or a rowdy, protesting Anarchist it made no difference to him. Everyone was treated with the same respect." I would say also that his aura of calm, like finest fountain spray on hottest day, would have been invaluable as well. No one that I've talked to since his death can remember him once losing his temper or even getting angry.

So Mud House Alumni: Do you have a collective noun? Does anyone recall exactly how Mud House came to be? Anyone have any tales of specific conflicts that Possum resolved? Did Mud House change your life? Enter a comment by clicking on the comment counter link below.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Possum and the 4th Dimension

Possum was, as Cory Doctrow put it in his eloquent eulogy obsessed with multidimensional space. From a very early age, he worked out a system for visualizing up to seven spatial dimensions. The system was very intuitive for him, less so for everyone else. He decided that the way to convey it would be through simple games that ramped up from 3D to 4D and onward. The code base for these things is currently on his personal website: see the Links page of this blog.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Serial Diners

It is our quest to visit all of the restaurants in Toronto in alphabetical order. We meet every Friday at 6 pm according to the current agenda which is published here along with the rules and regulations of our order. Anyone is welcome to attend with no prior invitation or notification.

Possum was Diner #509, munching with us first at Extreme Pita on March 8, 2002. He attended several times a year every year until his last recorded meal with us at Lee Garden on April 6, 2012. He was our resident vegetarian and this is most famously reflected in the entry in our Chronicles for June 7, 2002:

June 7, 2002: Fat Cat, 376 Eglinton Avenue West. (Open: Erik barely escapes to Yitz’s, Benet stays to defend dessert.)
Having perused the menu at this very posh restaurant Erik saw that they didn't really have any vegetarian dishes so he got up to lead a dissident faction to Yitz's Deli just down the street. The owner was horrified and chased after Erik just about out into the street: protesting that the kitchen could invent something not on the menu if only he'd give them the chance.

He was a brilliant conversationalist on a very wide variety of subjects and he fit right in with the non-hierarchical boffins, mavens and enthusiasts who form the core of The Diners. He was a unique individual who shall be missed.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Official Funeral

There will be a celebration of Erik's life at Mount Pleasant, at 2:00pm on June 27th. It is open to all his friends. Please RSVP to tysonhead @ gmail.com before June 14th so that the family will have some idea of how many people will be showing up. The funeral is delayed to the 27th because of the unexpected nature of his death. For one thing his family is all over the globe and has to make travel arrangements. For another, a full autopsy had to be done as this was an unexpected death without the attendance of a physician. There will be no viewing of the body since, according to his wishes, Erik will be cremated. The official cemetery website for the event is here.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Impromptu gathering of friends

There will be a memorial gathering on Sunday, June 3rd, 2012. Here is the notification from his roomates:
We'll also be holding a gathering/wake at Trinity Bellwoods on Sunday from 4:00 to whenever people get exhausted, in the bowl area at the bottom of the hill. Bring food, musical instruments, stories about Erik, whatever seems appropriate. Everyone is welcome, just show up.

Original notification of Erik's death

From one of Erik's roomates, the original account of his death:
We don't yet know the cause of death or any details about the funeral, but we have been keeping in touch with his mother and she has promised to keep us in the loop. It is believed that he died in his sleep sometime early tuesday morning. At roughly 1:30 wednesday afternoon, after people had started to notice his absence, one of his roommates kicked in his bedroom door and found him. He appeared to have died peacefully and there is nothing to indicate suicide.
The Wednesday in question is May 30th.

Update:The autopsy determined that he died, probably almost instantaneously, of a cerebral haemorrhage and was unlikely to have felt a thing.