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A bittersweet event this evening. A gathering of Big E denizens, past and present, near the place it all began: the Rock Bottom Brewery, just below the Centennial Building, where FirstPoint Communications, then Enron Communications, then Enron Broadband Services was located. In point of fact, there were a series of FirstPoint shirts printed which read "Just above Rock Bottom." Strangely appropriate, given that that's the point the Big E has returned to.

We've come full-circle.

I recall sidling down the elevator in the Centennial, out the double-glass doors between the Border's and the Pub, to down a pint and a shot of Cuervo 1800, only to return upstairs to battle my brethren in a fierce round or five of Half-Life. My character: the lab coat-clad doctor, under the nom-de-plume "Dr. Weaselfuck", or later, "Dr. Happypants", in deference to the non-IT staff inhabiting the offices after 6pm (the same staff that would later put and end to the after-hours gaming, with their complaints of the epithets uttered by our group in the heated battle passion.)

I remember the Cart Of Doom, it's squeak-squeak the harbinger of ousting for those whom it approached.

I remember when the ODS tower was incomplete.

I remember the bitter wintry Sundays, carting Sun servers from Rock Bottom to Three World Trade on the successor to the Cart Of Doom, with it's inflatable wheels babying servers to their new home: the cradle of IT, the nexus of the EBS presence in Portland. I remember the wildly-twisted Axl Rose covers of carols that Garry and I sang to ward off the cold: "Amazing Grace, Sweet Child Of Mine."

I remember the view of the gaily-lit Morrison Bridge from Joe Hirko's office in Rock Bottom: the glow of the bridge, the glow of the cars traversing it on nights and weekends... the sound of the bands in Rock Bottom, under the third floor, the world outside the world we built within fiber and bits and media: the promise of a new world. One that was going to make us all rich. The evenings and weekends sacrificed for this vision.

I recall the move to RiverPlace. The boundless optimism, the wireless, the megabits streaming across the ether. The Aeron chairs and new-age fusion workstations. We went from two floors to three to four, to six, to eight... from one building to two, to three... to two cities, to three: POPs everywhere, our brilliant fiber streaming a glittering web across the globe.

I remember hushed discussions of the secret "Product 1" and "Product 3"... the anxious debut at NAB in Las Vegas... the precious acquisitions of technologies and companies, building step upon step. The building of the rush-of-air whir in the Oregon Street POP, the combined chorus of cooling fan upon cooling fan, millions of dollars of hardware standing at the ready, LEDs aglow, "like greyhounds waiting for the word 'go.'"

I recall the pride in my voice when I told people who I worked for and what I did.

I also remember the confusion, the politics, when the focus was lost... I'll take the lessons from those events; but I choose to remember the people:

I have in my hand a glass of '94 Duck Pond Pinot Noir. With it, I toast--

Dan, Justin, Cynthia, Michol, Garry, Stan, Mike, Charles, Scott, Steve, Jeff, Dennis, Chris, Sean, Lance, Jim, Rusty, Kate, Dolph, Timothy, Barry, Joe, Tom, Rob, Crusty, Schu, Ron, Patrick, Paul, Shawna, Chad, Ryan, Syni, Laura, Donna, Linda, Victor... there's so many more that I can't immediately recall, but they're not forgotten. Cheers.

I think about where the grapes to produce this wine came from, and I think about where I was seven years ago, in 1994... a neophyte-to-middling Sys Admin, charming my neurons with knowledge gleaned from books and hard knocks, working 70-hour weeks, my travels spanning the continent to places like Phoenix and Philadelphia and Ft. Lauderdale. Before the dot-com revolution was a gleam in anyone's eye. Cheers.

Standing on the other side of it, I can look back in wonder, gazing at the past in my soft-focus wonder, being glad that I was here to be a part of it all.

I'm not unhappy. Just melancholy. It's different.




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