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Goodbye, Alan

From: Hugo Haas <hugo@larve.net>
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 09:14:58 +0200
Message-Id: <9C6586EC-8CC5-4D97-98C3-E0DCFDE29279@larve.net>
To: public-memoria@w3.org

Many great memories of Alan that have been floating in my head every  
day since I learned the sad news.

Alan was my first manager at W3C. When you arrive at a new job and  
you're pretty young like I was when I arrived at MIT, you're always  
intimidated by things and people around you. Alan made me immediately  
feel at home.

I discovered little by little that Alan was more of a geek than I  
was. It's strange as I never thought that somebody above 50 could be  
a geek, like people were losing this attribute after a while. I  
remember preparing to stay late at night with Eric to work on  
something and us proposing to Alan to stay up with us. Alan said  
something in the spirit of: "Oh, I've done my fair share of stuff  
like that. You guys go and have fun without me." Whatever we were  
about to do, it seemed like Alan had already done it.

Alan also made sure I was not going to miss out on this American  
tradition that Thanksgiving is. I went twice to his home for this  
celebration. I met Daryl and Leah, enjoyed Judie's excellent cooking,  
and really felt welcome and part of this American tradition. Alan, of  
course, told me the history of Thanksgiving with his one-of-a-kind  
humor. These Thanksgiving celebrations are some of the best memories  
I have of my time in the Boston area. The first year I was there, I  
timidly asked Alan: "I read on the Web that you invented the  
joystick. Is that true?" Alan explained that it wasn't accurate, that  
he had merely been working on adapting something, and that NASA, if I  
remember correctly, had something very similar at the same time. This  
is the funny thing with Alan: he did plenty of great things, more  
than one could remember, but was a very discreet and modest person.

The last time I saw Alan was in Boston about a month ago. We were  
trying to go to a Red Sox game, but didn't make it. A few hours  
before I had to take the plane back to Paris, I discovered that I had  
the wrong booking and that my ticket was sending me back to Nice. As  
I was frantically trying to solve the problem without much success,  
Alan arrived in the office. He was amused with my situation, and  
proceeded to telling me a very entertaining story about a plane  
mishap that happened to somebody on the W3C team. Alan always had  
entertaining stories to tell you. He then continued saying: "Anyway,  
if you don't manage to fly back tonight, give me a call and I'll be  
happy to have dinner with you." I am now sorry I manage to get on the  
right plane, not knowing it was my last chance to chat with him.

It's thanks to him that I know what it means when the light at the  
end of the platform of the Red line train is turned off at the Park  
Street station. I had the feeling that there was no question he did  
not have the answer to.

I could go on and on. All those traits of Alan made me feel over the  
years that, when I was growing up, I wanted to be like him. You will  
be missed very much, Alan.

Hugo Haas - http://larve.net/people/hugo/
Received on Sunday, 4 June 2006 18:05:09 UTC

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