My father died in April 2001 after a long fight with cancer. He had led a good life of personal and professional integrity, and the family grieved his passing intensely. Later that year, just 5 months after my father died, the attacks happened on 9/11.
The enormity of those events and their aftermath really defy description, but I had a particular response that was quite odd. Suddenly, I felt that the grief my family had experienced earlier that year had been way out of proportion to our loss. After all, we knew my father was ill, we knew he had little time left, we had time to say goodbye. Those who lost loved ones on 9/11 did not have that luxury, and they had to comes to terms with a level of hatred that had savaged their entire existence.
Fast forward to July of 2006. The Design Automation Conference was in San Francisco for the first time in many years. I live in the Bay Area, was able to commute from home to DAC on public transportation, and was able to enjoy walking each morning from the Caltrain station at 4th and King to Moscone Center at 3rd and Howard.
On one of the days at DAC, I was moderating a panel on the Pavilion Stage in the Exhibit Hall and arrived in the area during the last few minutes of the previous panel. Jim Hogan was just wrapping up at the podium, as he was the moderator. After he finished and people in the audience began milling around, I stepped up onto the stage to prepare my own materials at the podium. Jim and I exchanged pleasantries and then he happened to look down at my shoes. Now I’m not claiming to be a fashionista, particularly in that hard-bitten world of EDA conferences, but what Jim said at that moment really caught me by surprise.