29 September 2000

I don't think technology has changed things so much as humanity has not changed.  To me, what's disturbing nowadays is not that high-tech stuff breaks down so much as the expectation of such by consumers and the acceptance of such by the companies that make them. After all, things go wrong. What can we do? Who is John Galt?

--John Vaughn, in response to my 27 September journal entry



I've written in the past about things I don't find particularly compelling about the day job:  the poor corporate culture, management with no vision, no incentives for achievement, idiots like Farrah, Enema, Howard, Polly Anna, and others, etc.  Those negatives  are balanced by a couple of positives:  I really enjoy the work I do, and there are a handful of people who are just a joy to be around and who are enigmas to a certain degree (the actor and director who is a petroleum economist by day; the political philosophy Ph.D./surfer who does political risk analysis by day, the advanced student of Celtic literature who writes the energy industry's leading E&P daily newsletter by day).

I found out on Thursday that one of those people is dying.  It's not altogether a shock.  He's been ill for a long time, undergoing a number of operations aimed at removing the cancer that's ravaged his digestive tract.  He's put on a strong face for everyone, but, objectively speaking,  in the last year he's looked worse and worse.  Now it's confirmed -- he's inoperable and terminal.  I don't know how long he has left.  

Of the small handful of competent people in the company, he is one I've never gotten really close to.  He took an immediate liking to me in the office -- as people of ability usually do with each other -- but he was always such an intense figure in the office (weekly deadlines are a bitch, especially when one writes as beautifully and meticulously as he does) that I never made a strong effort to get past the professional affinity (which is actually a pretty strong bond with me -- I find so few people to respect professionally).  I figured there would be time.  Now there's not.  It's tragic.

The people who have been closest to him longest -- several of them have worked together in the company for a decade or so -- are devastated, as one might imagine.  It's hard for me to walk by his office.  I really don't know what to do -- a phone call seems awkward, as I've never called him at home in my life.  But I need to talk to him, if only to tell him how much I think of him.  What else is there to say?

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