My five things...
Dan tagged me a few days ago with the "5 things you don't know about me" meme. I've spent a few days thinking about those five things. I read what others had written about themselves for inspiration (and to get some idea what this is about) and came up with these five things:
1. I love turtles. I have no idea why.
2. My favorite color is orange. This is new, my favorite color used to be green.
3. I've been around and touched by a few celebrities. I've eaten dinner on Melissa Etheridge's credit card but I've never met her. I've been inches away from Emily of the Indigo Girls fame on several occasions at the softball field. I was bored out of my mind with Ellen Degeneres at an art show at the Snake Pit in Atlanta. We didn't talk. She is very quite and after several attempts to start a conversation...I decided to just try to get drunk...I didn't succeed at that either. I used to know this guy because we worked together at a children’s theatre where I was more concerned about the roof leaking than any ghosts that might be hanging around. And of course...there's Dan.
[update] I forgot to mention that Fran Tarkenton walked into my office and asked me how things were going (I used to work for him). He didn't really care so I told him everything was fine.
4. And one really cool product that I created (yes I did the whole thing, documentation and everything) was NetCam II for the IBM sports group. NetCam captured images from live broadcast feeds, packaged the images up (even creating the HTML pages for them), and sent them to the IBM hosted websites. The software was used at the Nagano Olympics, a couple big golf events, and even the Super Bowl. I would get crazy last minute requests like the one from the Super Bowl.
"We're going to be in a truck in the parking lot...how fast can you add FTP support because we're going to have to upload the images using FTP through a satellite!"
Sleep? I don't need no stinking sleep! You want FTP...you got FTP, Baby!
5. Inspired by Jonathan Schwartz's response #3 I found myself thinking back to my own brush with death. Unlike Jonathan I am going to elaborate not only on what happened but also on how it began to change me.
I think it was in 1993. I was living in Norcross, GA and commuting to work in Roswell. It had been raining that morning, the first rain in a long time which meant that there were slick spots on the road from oil build up. I was coming down the ramp from 85 to 285 when I hit one of those slicks and did a 180. My pick-up truck was sliding backwards down the ramp at about 50 miles an hour.
When I looked up, I looked right into the eyes of a trucker driving a big rig. In a moment of clarity I felt that he and I had a non-verbal conversation that went like this:
Me: Oh shit...I'm going to die.
Trucker: I'm sorry. I can't do anything without hurting more people.
Me: I know. You're right. It's not your fault. I don't blame you.
In the Trucker's eyes I saw him prepare to ride that rig right over me. He had to be careful not to brake and end up in worse shape than me. But just as I thought it was all over...one of my back tires got a grip on some good pavement and I was able to spin my truck back around and off to the shoulder.
As I sat on the side of the road, not a scratch on me or my truck, I just shook. I had faced what I thought was certain death by a man who I had never met and who meant me no harm. I was surprised that I had faced my death so calmly and peacefully. I had felt bad for the Trucker; I had not wanted my death to be a burden to him and I remembered feeling forgiveness toward him and hoping that he would forgive me.
My life changed in less than a second but the changes weren't immediate. I began asking myself the question, "If I die tomorrow will I regret this decision?" And this one question began to change the direction of my life. I also began to look at people differently. I am more forgiving, more willing to look for the reasons behind a person's actions, to try to understand a person's motivations and assumptions, to step up in my life and lead, to try to leave things a little better than I found them, to never give up...I believe I am a better person.
I hope that when the time comes to face my death again...that I will fight just as calmly to live as I did that day. To accept that my death may be the outcome, but not that my death is necessarily inevitable.