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January 2000Border Line
|Saturday, 22 January 2000|
fly like shadows
Well! Wherever we stare,
We'll find nothing persistent down here.
Those are the first lines of an old poem, a sombre new year song from Mr Rhynvis Feith (1753 - 1824).
Last Wednesday evening (19 January) I found the full text (.../feith/nieuwjaar.html, sorry all Dutch). A few hours later on that very same Wednesday night Richard Schiotling passed away (1959 - 2000), for over 15 years a very good friend of me. It was like the sombre poem lines casted a shadow.
It was the first of September 1984 when I met Richard for the first time, when both of us were trainee programmers, joining an education at Royal Dutch Airlines. Like young puppies we sat uneasily in a strange class room at Schiphol Airport, for half a year training in IBM S360 Assembler.
Both Richard and I had quitted an other job, heading for an uncertain future. Those were tense times, as the education had an all-or-nothing approach. A permanent job at KLM was only possible if you would succeed the training.
Richard had a sense of humour that matched mine in an astounding way. The tension was over for good when both of us rolled with laughter about a quasi spontaneous 'brilliant inspiration' (E=MC2). From that moment on, the class never really calmed down again.
After the training, beginning 1985, we both ended up at CARGOAL, the system for logistic planning of cargo operations. Together we were the 'deputies' at the 3rd line help desk, solving acute software problems under supervision of a 'sheriff'. It was a stressful environment, with tough deadlines of departing planes. Richard's sense of humour was a blessing to me. Customers on the phone had to endure the pompous Thunderbird theme song for a minute or so. Only after that we went into action as 'International Rescue'. It was sheer nonsense, but I look back on it with great pleasure.
A few years later Richard turned his career into an international path, at Galileo, Swindon, England. For a while he went out of my sight. Internet and e-mail were not around yet in those days.
In 1995 Richard came back to the Netherlands. In the meantime in England he had constituted an company, 'Computer Mile Limited', and was working in Holland again, with Royal Dutch Airlines as customer. We had not seen each other for years, yet we were able to continue talking asif we had met yesterday. At the end of 1995 I got invited to give a lecture on a large seminar at Amsterdam on artificial intelligence. With a giant smile I presented in the name of Computer Mile Limited, although Richard did not employ me.
Beginning 1996 I started a business myself. Richard has assisted my tremendously with the preparations, has given me excellent advice on a number of business matters, contract negotiations, etceteras. He really helped me to step into a self-employed existence. Without him, SUMit would probably not exist.
Shortly afterwards our paths parted again. Richard went to work at Qantas in Sydney, and I had Software Alliance Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur as my first customer. During a short weekend in Sydney it was just like old days. Time flies like a shadow, the locations change, but the feeling of having-met-yesterday remained. We both really enjoyed the Aussie wine.
At the start of 1999 we were both in the Netherlands again. After Sydney Richard had worked some time in Dublin, and recently settled in the Netherlands with Sharon, his Irish girlfriend. I only knew him as a bachelor. It was new for me to see him bill and coo so deeply in love. Richard surprised me with their wedding plans.
The wedding in Ireland is just a half year ago. It was a real party, a perfect day.
Richard and his wife had plans to move back to Ireland, after his current contract in a few months, and settle there for good.
Only last week Richard arranged to meet me, with a beer at some pool table somewhere in February. An now, Richard's life line has ended, our paths have separated for ever. It is bizarre, and I have trouble believing it. I wish Sharon, family and friends lots of strength.
Shot, I'll miss you.
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· February 2000
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