an interesting thought on a sad day

This one will be hard to understand for most of you, but I need to write about it anyways.

I fell asleep on the couch watching the Diamondbacks game tonight, so when I woke back up about 11:30 I opened my laptop to check who won (the dbacks did!). After that i decided I would do a quick once over of my e-mail and head to bed. When I opened my mail I saw an e-mail from a guy I’ve known on-line telling me someone I knew had died.

You see, I sort of grew up on the Internet. I would join chat rooms at all hours through my teens and in to my twenties and talk to random people. In this little sub-culture of people I made friends. Some were in Phoenix and I ended up meeting, befriending, and even working with over the years. Some were morons I wouldn’t ever want to meet, or avoided meeting again. However, others were just nothing more than digital text me. I still considered those people to be my friends in many cases.

Over the years, there was one group of people that I chatted with more frequently than others, and when I do log on these days I still stop in to say “hi”. These guys were once a hacker group, or at least what teenagers thought a hacker group was at the time. Today it’s more just a group of 20-something computer professionals that have been chatting with each other for as long as 10+ years. These are some of the guys that motivated me to learn, challenged me to be better with computers, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have the life or career I have today without having gone through it with them.

Well one of them passed away in his sleep at a hotel on Tuesday. You see, he was morbidly obese, had diabetes, drank heavily, and really did everything to harm his health. If diabetes kills you when you are 27 years old, you obviously haven’t been taking care of yourself. I know a few people with diabetes in various stages, and while this death puts their illness in a bit of perspective for me, I really wouldn’t even put it in the same category. This guy seemed to want to hurt himself physically. Apparently he wasn’t even taking his medication.

However, in the end I lost a friend. Someone I never met once in my entire life. Someone I will never meet. I considered him a good friend. He was a genius with Unix. He was one of the people that taught me how to learn. It wasn’t some idiot Chemistry teacher in high school, or a Calculus teacher at Arizona State, it was a few of these guys, including this guy Brice. If I had a problem, I NEVER got spoon fed an answer. No one ever held my hand through it. They would throw a little peer mocking in there if I even attempted to get them to. What they would do is point me in the right direction, clarify any confusion I had, and let me figure it out on my own. If you can’t take the time to learn it yourself, why should someone else take the time to help you?

Brice used his own knowledge and what we drove him to achieve, to land himself a fairly high technical position dealing with systems and security at Wells Fargo Bank. Banks don’t hire unskilled drones going through the motions for these jobs, and Brice was definitely no fool. It’s odd to think that while I’ve heard his voice a couple times (give teenagers telecommunications knowledge and a desire to break things and they’ll figure out how to use the phone systems in interesting ways), but I can’t even tell you what he sounds like today, how he laughs, or how angry he sounds if you piss him off. I do know that about most of my friends.

The perceived need for our anonymity has long since passed, but I still don’t feel like I have any need to meet these people I talk to. I’ve grown up, started a family, and left much of that part of me long behind, but it doesn’t make him any less of a friend. I’m still a bit at odds with the thought of being close with someone who is nothing but 1s and 0s in their representation, but I guess this is the digital age and I should get used to it.

Anyways, while I was literally less than half the person he was in weight, it does remind me that we are all pretty fragile, and my youth isn’t what it used to be. It’s a good reminder to not eat poorly like I have this week. It’s a good reminder to get some exercise which I haven’t been doing enough of lately. I need to stay healthy for my wife and daughter, so they can see my smile for many years to come.

Most importantly it’s a reminder to spend time with my friends, no matter how they represent themselves to me, as they really do matter in life.

R.I.P. Brice Beaman – 1980-2007

6 thoughts on “an interesting thought on a sad day

  1. sam

    i met brice when we were preteens. i haven’t seen him in 8 years and just found out today. and what you had to say was great. thank you

  2. Becky White Feather

    Hello. My name is Becky. My daughter knew Brice for several years while he was in Des Moines and tried to get him to stop drinking and get back on track with his health, but to no avail. It appeared as you stated differently, that he jsut didn’t have the drive to do so. She walked away rather than watch him self destruct. He was a very beautiful person, who never realzed that people actually could love him as he was. Sadly we both moved away, and years past. We don’t know where Brice was laid to rest and we would both like to pay our respects. If you know would you please respond and let me know? Thank you.

  3. Becky White Feather

    Since my last post here, I have found out that he was cremated and that’s why we couldn’t find the cemetary. Thanks anyway.

  4. mikeb

    Becky, I had put out some questions to folks but hadn’t heard back. I’m glad you were able to find out the details. It’s great to hear from more friends of Brice’s out there.

  5. OMG, I was a good friend of Brices, he had confided so much to me about his mom and his girlfriend and his life… I knew him in Des Moines and I had much respect for his tech skills and we would exchange information about hacking, phreaking and everything tech. The last time I saw him he had lent me some Make magazines and I lent him some 2600’s…. he Moved and we went for a while without speaking. I started sending him random text messages in late Sept and a couple of emails, I now moved to Hawaii and just sent him a Google Wave invite a few minutes ago….. To be honest I have been getting really annoyed that he has not been returning any of my messages. Now I see why. I first went to his website – gone. then I typed his name and found this topic. really makes you think. He had such a brilliant mind, even with the hard core drinking. what a waste.
    I wish I would have known all these years.

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