Stories

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Playing xylophone with water glasses...

I wish i had some pictures to share, but I do have many stories to tell, this is one of them.  I was terribly saddened to just now find out about his passing.  Rest in peace John.

John is one of the most special people I have met in my entire life.  To put it in perspective, I don’t know how many people (who never met or knew of John) i’ve told the following story. In fact, i can think of a handle for John Pil stories which i’ve shared with others who never knew him regarding some wonderful memories when we were close friends in college.  We didn’t see each other after that except a few years back, we did a mini-reunion at late for the Train with Tony Quan.  At that time, I saw that John was still the same wonderful guy that I knew over ten years before: he made me laugh so much with his great sense of humor.

I digress. Here is one fond memory:

A bunch of us went out to Korean BBQ on Castro Street in Mountain View.  I don’t remember if it was for somebody’s birthday, but we had a fairly large group of maybe 10 people.  We had, as usual, a great time.  John was always one with the most incredible wit, yet he was also one of the most compassionate people you’d ever meet.

Anyway, as the meal was winding down, John started tapping his chopstick on a few water glasses to see what note he could get from them (I’m sorry if this isn’t clear, but i’m not a musician).  he would adjust the amount of liquid (either water or left over tea) by pouring different amounts in and/or out of the glass in order to get the right note he wanted.  After a while, it became sort of annoying and in fact some people from other tables started looking over at our table.  .... i remember whispering to John something like “hey, i am not sure people are appreciating your little experiment here.” He replied, “just a minute, just a minute.” i probably frowned and just ignored him and not make eye contact with the adjacent tables who were every now and then looking at our direction annoyed.  anyway, this went on for a few minutes.  I was about to (as a good friend and courteous human being) grab a few of the glasses away from him to make him stop, when suddenly he started playing music with a series of several glasses.  it was as if he had made a xylophone from the glasses (for my lack of musical knowledge and vocabulary).  i don’t remember the song he played, but it was beautiful and after he was done, everyone at our table and the surrounding tables applauded.

that was one of many moments where i learned of John’s musical genius (among his many other talents which are sorely missed by the world).  I’m so sorry that such a gift of music, his wit, and human compassion are no longer with us.  I hadn’t spoken with him in probably four years, but still I miss him.

Posted by derek on 12/06 at 07:01 PM
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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Of Beer and Checkers

From the memorable quotes department:

One day, several years ago, John and I were discussing beer.  Here in Seattle, there are almost as many micro-breweries as there are coffee shops (they go hand in hand, right?), and John had really taken to studying and enjoying the different varieties.

At one point, he took a drink and said, “You know, Rob.  Being a beer connoisseur is sorta like ... being a grandmaster of checkers.”

It’s one of my favorite quotes - observant, eloquent, and witty.  It came to me last night as we were discussing beer at a wine tasting.

Posted by Rob McKaughan on 09/28 at 09:34 AM
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Friday, July 02, 2004

A Fistful of Floppies – or – How I Met John

John came to town when I was sick in the hospital and couldn’t defend myself.  While in the eighth grade, I caught a really nasty case of pneumonia.  I was sick at home for three weeks followed by a week in the hospital. 

It was during those first three weeks that my friends formed a computer club and elected me president (despite the fact that I was in absentia). I wasn’t surprised at my election.  I was something of a top dog in the nerd scene.  I had more floppy disks than anyone else.  Never mind that my family didn’t actually own a computer.  That didn’t matter.  I had 40 floppy disks, and in the little town of Pioneer Jr. High, that meant something.

My illness took a turn for the worse and I ended up in the hospital.  My friend, Mike, came to visit me.  He had news.  “There’s a new kid at school” Mike hesitated.  “And he’s got even more disks than you.”

I couldn’t believe it.  They said he had hundreds of disks.  There was just no way.  I resolved that when I returned to school, I’d find him and expose him for the charlatan he was.

I hung around the computer room my first day back, waiting for the stranger to arrive.  Soon enough, he came.  They called him John. 

He seemed charismatic, even friendly.  I didn’t let that distract me.  I had work to do.

I wasted no time: “They say you have hundreds of floppies.  Is that true?”

John laughed.  “Nah.  Only about 100.” He then told me about living in Singapore and it’s bustling, though not entirely legal, software trade.  He showed me some of the cool programs he had with him.  All the while he was warm and genuinely funny.  Within minutes, I was hooked.  This new guy John was cool.  Very cool.

Posted by Rob McKaughan on 07/02 at 02:55 PM
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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Happy Birthday with Gov. Arnie & John

In ‘96, Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to open his then-new movie Eraser on my birthday, and I could see no better way to celebrate my birthday than with the opening of a good old Arnie action flick.  So after all my friends and I engorged ourselves at a local italian restaurant we headed off to Crossroads Cinemas in Bellevue to watch the show.  Since it was the opening of an Arnie flick, and a Friday night, we decided to get there a bit early so we could get seats - and good thing too, we still ended up sitting way over on the side.  With plenty of time now on our hands, we sat there amusing ourselves by lampooning the endless loop of advertising slides showing on the screen.  In no time at all, the theater completely filled with people.

Now this theater was the big one at Crossroads - it probably seats about 500-600 people.  It’s the one they reserve for blockbuster movie openings.  I was noticing how full the theater is when, suddenly, John stood up and started calling out, “Could I have everyone’s attention, please!”.  Seated right next to him, I started thinking, “huh - I wonder what he’s doing...”

John continued calling for attention and by and by he got it - all 500 people quieted and listened to him.  Then he started.  “Today is my friend Rob’s birthday, and I think it would be great if you join me in wishing him a Happy Birthday.” He then began singing, followed immediately by my party friends.  By the 2nd “happy birthday to you”, the ENTIRE AUDIENCE was singing along.  They concluded & I meekly took a bow.  As I sat down, I told John, “I don’t know how I’m going to get you back for this, but I will.” Then “Thanks John”. 

And thus was my most memorable birthday ever - the day John led 500 people to serenade me - thanks to John’s generosity and outgoing manner.

Posted by Rob McKaughan on 06/30 at 10:03 AM
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The Group Admin from Hell

Another good John story - check out Bruce Oberg’s recounting of The Group Admin from Hell.

Posted by Rob McKaughan on 06/30 at 10:00 AM
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