Tuesday, May 25, 2004

"Hello, world!"

"Hello, world!"

Anyone who has ever written a computer program recognizes this cheerfully optimistic two word salutation as proof that his or her code has successfully executed. It is the simplest programming task: display a line of text on the screen. Why "Hello, world!" and not "What's up, Bubba?", I don't know. But as a starting point for a new blog, it makes perfect sense to me.

I used to be a programmer. I loved it. Now I'm a director of IT for a large Indiana-based manufacturing company. Some days I love it. (Those are the days when I get to see somebody else's "Hello, world!" moment and cheer them on.)

I'm 48 years old. Next week I'll be 49. I'm almost out of that magic demographic range of 18-to-49 year old males. Next year I'll get my AARP card. Damn!

For 25 years I lived in Tennessee, which explains why "What's up, Bubba?" also makes perfect sense to me. Now I live in Southern Indiana. I've looked up "Hoosier" in the dictionary. It's not really a flattering term.

For the last several weeks I've been reading other people's blogs. There are some excellent ones out there. (I'll share some links later...as I learn how.) There is some trash out there, too. (You can find it on your own.) I hope to land somewhere in between. (You can decide.) My reason for starting a blog is probably the same as anyone else: I think I have something to say, and the Internet provides a free podium. We'll just have to see if it's worth reading.

So why "The View from the Roof"? It was really my third choice.

As I thought about the tone I wanted to set for this blog, I remembered a conversation I had with my neighbor, Bill, a couple of years ago. It was a warm spring Saturday morning. The sky was blue, just a few clouds in the sky, and I was standing on the roof of my back porch, cleaning leaves out of the gutter. Bill was in his yard next door. He called up to me, "Good morning, Mike!". I said good morning, and asked how he was doing. His reply stuck with me: "I'm just enjoying another day in paradise. I'm living the American dream." I'd never thought of it that way. We both have nice houses, good jobs, loving wives and great kids. Bill is a "glass half full" kind of guy. I'm a bit grumpier. He shook me out of it that morning. I try not to forget. So I thought about naming the blog "AnotherDayInParadise", but that was already taken. (You can find it. It's probably very good. I don't know.)

My second choice was "The View From Here". That was already taken, too.

So I'm in the middle of the sign-up form, needing to enter a name. Two strikes. I get up and walk through the house to think. I don't want to cancel and start over tomorrow, and I don't want a lame name. I consider "Free Frame of Reference", a lingering memory from a news story in the 60's about a large door frame set up in a San Francisco park. (I think that's right. Some of my memories of the 60's are cloudy. Bet yours are, too. Be honest, now.) But that's kind of obscure...and I'm not sure I've got the details right.

Then I remembered another spring day, another rooftop moment. We were living in the suburbs of Memphis, in a two story house. My wife, Mary, and I were replacing the roof. Throughout our marriage (28 years, as of yesterday! She still hasn't figured out that she got the short end of the deal.) we have enjoyed doing major projects together. This particular year we were doing the roof. I remember being up on the second story on a clear, warm Memphis day. It was early afternoon and we had few more pressing concerns than how we were going to finish the roofing project. In the back of our minds was the news we had heard the night before about an older woman we knew from church, Olive, who had been rushed to the hospital after a stroke. Mary was on the ground when the phone rang. She went in to answer it. A few minutes later she came out of the house and climbed up the ladder to join me. She said that the call was another church member calling to let us know that Olive had died that morning. We stood on the roof for a few minutes in silence, gazing out over the neighborhood rooftops. I remember looking up at the sky and seeing the misty trails left by a jet and thinking "there goes Olive, streaking up to heaven.". That moment stuck with me, too.

"The View From the Roof" wasn't taken on blogspot, so here we are.

Hello, world!

No comments: