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Remembering Alan's Humor

From: John E. McNamara <johnmcnamara1@verizon.net>
Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2006 15:21:07 -0400
To: public-memoria@w3.org
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In addition to his many other virtues, Alan was a very humorous individual.

Back in late 1960's and early 1970's, there were several books published in 
imitation of the "Thoughts of Chairman Mao," widely circulated at that 
time. Some friends and I came up with some ideas for a similar book, 
"Thoughts of Chairman Kotok." While such a book was never published, I do 
remember a couple of Thoughts of Chairman Kotok:

On skiing: "I'm opposed to any sport that reduces the coefficient of 
friction between me and the ground."

On flying: "I'm suspicious of any mode of transportation that requires a 
running start."

On business travel: "It's hard to lose weight when you're dining on the 
company's money."

On the subject of travel, I am reminded of Alan's expense account program. 
You entered the amount of money that you started with, the amount of money 
you had upon return, and any expenses for which you had receipts. After 
prompting you to remember such things as Mass Pike and Sumner Tunnel tolls, 
it concocted amounts for meals, but all within the company's guidelines. At 
the time, Alan was working for Fred Wilhelm, a very straight-laced 
Annapolis graduate, and had weekly status meetings with him. At one such 
meeting, Alan found Fred feverishly trying to fill out an expense account 
and suggested that Fred should use the program. Alan briefly explained how 
the program worked, to which Fred said, with a sneer, "That's all very cute 
Alan, but does it produce believable numbers?" To which Alan replied, 
"You've been believing them for over a year."

These are among my many fond memories of a good friend whose wise counsel 
and assistance I could always count on from our first meeting forty years 
ago to date. I'll miss him greatly.

John E. McNamara (MIT '64)
Received on Friday, 2 June 2006 21:12:02 UTC

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