Friday, September 28, 2007

Two Tales of One City...or Somethin’ Like That (Prologue)

A ‘Jammin’ Weekend
With all apologies to Dickens, I’ve been thinking about how to approach the story of my recent weekend trip to the ‘Big D,’ and I wasn’t totally convinced that I wanted to do it in one fell swoop. Nonetheless I knew that I needed to go ahead and begin writing before the details start to go cold, or some other distraction pushes them out of my head while it vies for my attention.

The problem is that my emphasis in this series will necessarily be divided from amongst two completely unrelated subjects, however the second circumstance would have not happened without the first, so chronologically and logistically, they’re kinda joined at the hip. But as parallel subjects go, they couldn’t be any more diametrically opposed.

Therefore I think I’m going to split things up and compartmentalize my experience into two separate components, while keeping them together in one series. Certainly they are very different, both in scope and in emotion, but I do somehow feel that they need to be grouped together.

We’ll begin with the Webmaster Jam Session 2007, a two-day conference that was the reason I was in Dallas to begin with. In it’s second year of existence, it has been put together primarily by a company out of Galveston, Texas called Coffee Cup Software.

However in my opinion the flavor of the event was much more Seattle and Mountain View than Texas.

It was truly an eye opener for me in many ways. Both philosophically and practically, many of my longstanding sensibilities regarding my profession were at least challenged if not changed altogether.

So to attempt to explain to myself what exactly it was that rocked my world so dramatically, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and analyzing my entire career these past few days in the wake of the conference.

I’ll be touching upon some fairly philosophical points about web design and the computer age in general at the outset of this series, so if tech stuff bores you, you may want to just wait for Parts 3 and Four. However I’d invite you to come along with me all the way on this initial tale, because what I observed and learned about others as well as myself, I consider to be pretty interesting.

From ‘Jammin’ to ‘Jammed Up’
The second portion of the series will of course deal with something even closer to my heart than my career: my beloved little brother, Alex. It was a no-brainer that immediately after I discovered I was coming to Dallas for the conference that I began making plans to take a side trip to visit my true best friend.

As you probably know, Alex is the second of my four siblings to fall victim to the family curse: Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease. He’s four years my junior and is at least halfway into the disease’s gestation which, by previous history of afflicted family members, runs about seven years from onset to death.

However Alex has benefited from the new medical efforts to treat this horrific disease, having been treated with Alzheimer’s drugs Aracept and Nemenda since late 2004, when he was positively diagnosed at Indiana University Medical Center, possibly two years (or more) into onset.

He is now in far better shape than our elder brother, David, who at a similar stage was much more degraded, both physically and mentally. But sadly, Alex’s inevitable decline continues, more rapidly now than before.

I wrote about that trip to Indianapolis, to IU Medical Center, on which I accompanied my brother four years ago this coming November. I haven’t written anything significant about his condition since — but not for lack of effort. I just couldn’t conjure up the emotional fortitude to deal with the pain.

I still have the many pages of notes and outlines I jotted down in longhand at sporadic off-moments during subsequent visits in 2005 and 2006, along with my Dad. But aside from transcribing one or two brief segments (and never posting them), I’ve yet to come close to writing anything in-depth about my observations of my brother’s ever-declining condition.

Hopefully I can do that now.

I really want to follow up on It’s Still Ticking, and as I said I have a lot of material from which to work, that I had previously just set aside because it was so hard to think about.

It’s really not any easier to think about it now, but I do know that it’s time for me to begin laying it all out. I feel as though I must do it now or this story may never get written.

Two tales.

One City.

Two very different emotions.

Next: Trey Magnifique
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