Friday, September 11, 2009

Never forget

As I sit here, I am forced to remember a day 8 years ago and all that has occurred since. I was just returning to work from a conference in Washington D.C. A close friend & co-worker called me in a panic asking if I'd heard what happened. It was just after 6AM PST. He then, while I was on the phone, described the 2nd aircraft hitting the 2nd tower.

As people slowly began to arrive at work, all of us were transfixed by the images on the news. We wondered if friend or colleagues were affected. The investment industry is a fairly small community and many vendors, colleagues and clients were based in Lower Manhattan. No real work was completed and the markets were, if memory serves, unreachable due to the telephone networks being down.

Many of us went home early as air travel was halted by order of The President. I sat at home with my wife and kids, wanting to keep track of happenings, but not wanting to expose my young children to the horror.

Looking back, the only good I can see that came out of this event was a distinct and focused effort by business and government to ensure that recovery from disasters was an up front and primary issue going forward. The so-called security measures and heavy handed legislation are not what I'd call "good." The Department of Homeland Security isn't either. Too many personal freedoms have been lost as a result of the goverment "protecting us."

Never forget those that lost their lives both on the air and on the ground, but don't let that be an excuse for giving up personal freedoms and abandoning the will to fight for what you think is right and protecting your way of life.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Twenty years & still going strong: Part 2

(You can find Part 1 here.)

Friday continued:
I left off last time lamenting the fact that I felt like I was not very nice to Amber my senior year of high school. As the commenters on that post would agree, I was probably a little too hard on myself. I was who I was at that time, which is to say that I was a self-important teenager who probably said and did things that were horrible and didn't realize it. I should clarify one point, however. My comments in Amber's yearbook seemed very out of place while I was sitting in her kitchen 20 years later. That was the major source of my feelings on the situation. I can't remember exactly what I wrote, but it just struck me as not a good thing to say.

Joe & Dani:
Joe and Daniela showed up around 40 minutes after I arrived. I think I was just finishing up my first beer of the evening. It was a good thing too. I was in for a special treat. They had brought a case of "The Champagne of Beers." For the low brow folks reading this, that's Miller beer. I believe that the pizzas that Amber had put in the over were done as well. Drinking Miller and eating pizza while on the Harbor is a truly special experience. I think I described going home in my last post as being "uncomfortable." This was 100% the opposite.

As always, Joe & Daniela's arrival increased the fun factor by 10. Between the 2 of them, they could easily turn any gathering into a party. Bar Mitzvah? Easy. Garage Sale? Puh-lease. Funeral? Definitely. I had no reason to believe that the rest of the night would be any different, and I wasn't disappointed.

Michelle & Kristelle:
If memory serves, Kristelle & Michelle (..and that rhymes the way I'm saying it in my head right now.) showed up around 30 minutes after Joe & Dani. It's almost as if they snuck in, because 1 minute we were all in the kitchen enjoying our champagne (of beers) and the next they were cruising in the door with their suitcases.

Kristelle was soo funny that I don't think it took more than 5 minutes before I was laughing so hard that I almost blew champagne (of beers) out of my nose. I'm going to skip over the actual topic. Don't ask, 'cuz I won't tell. Actually, that's not much of a stretch because I was left speechless then too.

We took the opportunity to get a few pictures before we left. I'm pretty sure Amber took this, which is why she's conspicously absent. I think I'm the only one who doesn't still wear the same size as in high school. Sheesh.

The Bar (a.k.a. Stiffy's)
It's a long-standing tradition that on the Friday before a reunion for HHS that anyone who can meets at a local bar. It was at a place called, of all things, Stiffy's. I could go on for hours on the name. I won't.

The Friday event is always very casual. My experience at our 10 year reunion was less than stellar. My daughter was 13 months old and I wasn't really sure what to expect. A classmate who I suspect had a crush on me found me and told me a long story that I won't relate. Needless to say, it wasn't fun. This time it was better. I think around 20 people were there, as well as a quite a few other people. We arrived a little later than usual and I guess that we missed quite a few other classmates that were there earlier in the evening. Steve B, I'm talking about you, pal.

The first person I ran into was Neil Meyer. Yes, Neil, you're taller. This was phrase that could have madeyou money over the course of the next 24 hours. I was also very lucky to meet Neil's lovely wife. Marty Skinner, who, I've known longer than just about anyone else, was there too. I could (and probably should) mention the rest, but this post is getting long in the tooth already, and I haven't even gotten to the reunion yet. It was all pretty much a blur of laughter & drinks. Mostly laughter, but drinks were a close second.

I should mention 2 things at this point. Firstly, it wouldn't be a reunion without a teeny little bit of drama. We had a little, but as we found out later, it was more the alcohol talking than anything else. I think all was forgiven in the the end. Secondly, what's up with the ass-grabbing? I've learned to live with my distinguished good looks over the years. But ladies (and gentlemen), keep your hands off of my ass. I think it was grabbed twice, and I honestly can't remember exactly who did it. Actually, I remember one of them but she'll remain nameless.

In any case, it was a great time. The picture to the right here pretty much sums up the whole night. Laughter & silliness. Thanks ladies. A good portion of the fun I had is due to you two. :-)

The Hotel:
As with all things, the night had to come to an end. Amber & Daniela headed back to town, while Joe, Michelle & Kristelle (yep.. still rhymes) headed to the Quinault Beach Resort, where we were staying.

The drive was uneventful, thankfully. Joe and I still drive insanely fast down that road and still pass like everyone is standing still. We checked in at around 1:15 AM. Joe, Kristelle and I went to the bar for a drink. As luck with would have it, the casino bar was dead, empty and closing up. So, instead of a drink, Joe and I picked up a fabulous sandwich and some bottled water. Actually, the sandwich's only redeeming quality was that it was solid and edible.

It was with the help of the friendly bar staff that Friday night came to a close. We all turned in for the night.

Next up will be "Part 3: The Reunion"..