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Monday, September 12, 2005

911

I wasn't around yesterday or I would have posted this sooner...

Not surprisingly, I was thinking back on the events of September 11. I remember it vividly. Just a week earlier, I had been "furloughed" from the startup at which I had been working. "Furlough" is a euphemism for "we're circling the drain and so we're laying you off. But if someone finds a plunger strong enough to suck us back out of that drain, we'll give you a call." My friend Ned was the only one of us kept on to make the product we had built do whatever a customer or company willing to acquire us wanted it to do.

I woke up on September 11 and immediately turned on NBC to see what what was new with Katie Couric that morning. She was reporting that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade towers and was wondering whether there was some problem with air traffic control in that area.

Ned was at work so I IM'ed him the news over Yahoo Messenger. As events unfolded, I gave Ned a play-by-play account of what was going on. I can remember typing, "Oh my God, another plane has hit the other tower" and "Now they think that this might be a terrorist attack!" Months later I was devastated to find out that I had inadvertently deleted the log file of that entire IM conversation. That's something I really would like to have kept around and looked at from time to time.

My friend Andrew was on his honeymoon in Europe and ended up being stranded there for quite a while until the planes starting flying again. I was able to contact him a couple of times via IM as he was able to find an Internet cafe in Spain.

Later on that day I realized that my father sometimes drove to downtown New York for meetings. It took me a while to reach my mother and when I finally did, I learned that he indeed had a meeting scheduled for that morning downtown and my mother had not yet heard from him. Luckily, my father had gotten a late start and by the time he reached the city, they had already begun closing the roads and he had to turn back.

Since I was unemployed, the day before I had sent out a networking email to friends of mine asking whether any of them knew of any job openings. This included friends at Sun Microsystems. It was then that I found out that a former boss of mine, Phil Rosenzweig had been on American Airlines flight 11. If this event hadn't been quite real for me, it became real at that point. A short time later, I attended a memorial service for Phil attended by hundreds of friends and well-wishers. Limousine 18, the limo service that had taken Phil (and me) to the airport so many times offerred to provide free shuttle service from a nearby parking lot to the synagogue. Just one example of the numerous small acts of kindness that were so prevalent at the time.

So here we are 4 years later with our country reeling from another disaster. This time, an attack of nature as opposed to an attack by terrorists. All of this makes one feel a lot less secure even while living in the "most powerful nation on Earth..."

Comments:
Brian, I was sitting at Blue Ripple getting IMs from you, and that was the only channel of information we had: all the major news sites were completely swamped. I was watching the John Hancock building from the window at Alewife, as if somehow I could maintain a vigil for Boston's skyscrapers.
 
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