In Memory of Marc Orchant

Marc Orchant
Photo by Brian Solis

I was saddened to read that technology journalist Marc Orchant passed away this afternoon, having been unconscious for several days following a major heart attack. I only met Marc once in person, but he struck me as vibrant, fit, and extremely likable. He is survived by his wife and two children. If you feel moved to help support them through what must be an incredibly challenging holiday time, details on making a donation are available here.

Marc’s was a lightning-quick creative intelligence and, coupled with his love of technology, made for stimulating conversation and insightful reading on ZDNet and, later, blognation. The blogosphere is abuzz with tributes to his memory. For my part, I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to his family, and hope that they are buoyed up by the support of friends and family during this time.


Bertrand Gugger: Qu’il Respose En Paix

I was shocked to discover today that French PHP programmer Bertrand Gugger passed away last week due to a heart attack. Bertrand was co-lead on the Net_Monitor project with me, and contributed many valuable additions to the project, including all the SMS messaging support and end-to-end testing of European SMS messaging providers.

Bertrand was a character, to say the least. He was passionate about PHP and often had very strong opinions about how to write code well. This, combined with an imperfect grasp of English, often got him into trouble on the Pear Developer lists. Still, in the end, Bertrand and I always got along really well and he contributed some very valuable code to the Net_Monitor project as well as many other Pear projects. Whatever he did, he wanted to do right, and this commitment to writing high quality code–as well as a voracious interest in contributing to PHP development–will have implications and benefits for other PHP programmers for a long time to come.

Reading the news a week late on the Pear website drove home how little I have been involved with a community that used to be such a big part of my life. After James’s death, I began to refocus my life (and this website) on one of my original loves: poetry. And, with the growth of the company and my development team at work, I rarely delve in to actual PHP code these days.

That said, just the other day a new programmer signed on to the Net_Monitor project, and I am happy to see this work continue. Coding for love instead of money, giving something back to such an amazing community of talented programmers who have made so much possible for me in my own career and life–is a kind of lineage I have been proud to take part in. Bertrand was an important part of that lineage, right up to the end. He is survived by wife and children, who have my deepest sympathies now.

Que vous reposez en paix, Bertrand. You will be missed.


In Memory of Poet Sandford Lyne

Earlier today, I heard from my father that Sandford Lyne–poet, teacher and friend–passed away this morning. He went quietly in his own home, having made his peace with this world. I will miss him fiercely.

After graduating from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the early ’70s, he went on to teach poetry at the University of Virginia and then to lead countless poetry workshops for students and teachers all over the country. Most recently, he led workshops for children sheltering in sports stadiums during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

We met through my parents, and bonded in part over a mutual love of Spanish-language poets. One of my favorite poems of his, “Machado, Lorca, Neruda, JimĂ©nez”, is currently still available on his website.

Sandy wrote one of my letters of recommendation to the Pacific University MFA program in which I am now studying. I signed away my right to read it, but he sent me an extra copy anyway. He wanted me to know what he thought. If I ever doubt myself as a poet, I have but to reread that letter.

Sandy touched many lives–over 50,000 children and thousands of teachers as well, and shared his delight in poetry issuing from the mouth of babes in his well-known compilation of children’s poems, Ten Second Rainshowers.

Though we only met in person a handful of times, I still recall his immense kindness and generosity, and that distant, Blakean gaze he took on in moments of quiet reverie. I’d like to think whatever beauty he saw there, beyond the horizon of rational thought, he has now become part of, and more–what Mary Oliver calls the great, unending stream of voices that is poetry.

Thank you, dear Sandy, for honoring us all with your life.


James Valentine Peake

James Valentine Peake was born on Tuesday, January 24th by emergency Caesarian section. He lived only three days, and died in my arms on Friday, January 27th. He was surrounded by the love of his family. He went peacefully without struggle or pain, and looked ever more beautiful as he was leaving our world. Even though we don’t know if he could feel or perceive anything physically (the doctors discovered almost no electrical activity in his brain), we do know that he got our love, and the love of so many during these precious three days.

Val has been discharged from the hospital and is resting at home. Our experience has been very profound, and we are both feeling very tender. We are really just taking it moment to moment, supported so caringly by family and friends. My worldly ambitions seem very trivial right now, and the last thing on my mind is software design. In time I’m sure other posts may emerge on this site. But for now, we are simply in mourning–for our hopes and dreams as parents, and the great love and loss we felt for our precious son. I feel blessed to have experienced, briefly but profoundly, the essence of parenthood–that pure and selfless love–and know we will never be the same.

Please keep us all in your prayers for the highest good, and also say a prayer of loving for the soul of our beloved son if you feel so moved.