cruel and kind


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   Uli Schiefer taught me to cross my wrists at arms length in front of myself during take off, in order to feel them drop abruptly when the plane's rear wheels lift from the runway. I recall in addition to sharing various flying experiences, we spoke of family during that flight.
   We were flying to a work-related conference. Uli had been an interviewer when I was applying for that position. He was a "key player," called upon to probe my background regarding programming and databases. Although Uli left me feeling I had ineffectively answered many questions, I was hired.
   Our offices were just a few doors apart for over two years. Each time we worked together, I felt we shared respect, but never full understanding. Although I won an award for documentation based upon research with Uli. I'm not certain he ever understood the magnitude of STC recognition, or why I felt he was involved. Our odd mis-communication was mirrored one day when Uli called me into his office to show off MP3 software he had written. Not being MP3-savvy at the time, I was unable to provide him with knowledgable kudos for work he obviously thought was exceptional.
   Yet he was quite clear on my last day at the company. Uli described me as "one of the surprise lay-offs," and volunteered to drive home a piece of furniture that didn't fit in my sports car. Flattered beyond words. I very much hope I thanked him.
   Uli Schiefer lived near me, so in addition to the furniture, he brought his four year-old Jessica to our baby shower the next day. She and another young guest drew pictures for Gabriel, drawings we preserved in Gabriel's scrapbook. This was the last time Uli socialized with us, though not for lack of invitation.
   Tonight Deb and I uncharacteristically watched local news, because a neighbor told us police had found four bodies near our home. The headline story tonight 1 2 reported high-tech worker Uli Schiefer was found dead in his Santa Clara residence along with his wife and two daughters.
   I appear to be developing an involuntary habit. Twice now I've yelled at the television for informing me that people I knew are dead.
   Police say early evidence suggests Tae, the wife/mother, was responsible. I've been trying not to think of Uli's demeanor when he's both baffled and excited. You try it. Sit in the corner and don't think of a white bear.
   Deb stayed up late with me. I'm glad Deb met Uli, and his daughter. I never met two of Deb's friends, lost in a murder/suicide the week she graduated from high school. All night I've felt a strong need to telephone or email anyone worked with Uli, everyone who knew Uli. Yet I have no clue what I would say.

the wave
"hello, baby," i said "hello" -elton john


   gabriel waving

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