Brad and Sherwin Gooch were friends, back in the day, and their group at FSU's Center for Music Research used to play games for the hyperintelligent. They would build robots out of classic Lego bricks that could be programmed by cards made out of Lego. The trick wasn't just to build a programmable robot from plastic clickbricks. No, the game was to look at the card, and predict what the robot would do. He could also sit down at a piano and tell my mother musical jokes, both of them laughing, and no one saying a word.
I can't even remember how we met, which pains me. It was a chain of using a friend'sPLATO account (as Saber Woman, I was into fencing), which got me to PLATO which got me to the CMR people which got me to Brad, and somehow I ended up in the D&D group he was running, which was probably the most subtly complex RPG I've had the pleasure of playing. He became my best friend, and I loved him.
He was irascible, opinionated, and smarter than you (and, really, he probably was). He interviewed at Apple, and spent the whole day telling them what was wrong with their interface. I would have married him, and we considered it, but he was pretty sure that if we did, there wouldn't be an unbroken dish in the house within six months. He was wickedly funny, and famous for his Christmas lasagna parties, where no one could serve themselves, but rather we each had politely offer to serve each other. He also perfectly timed both the cooking and the mix tape so that when dinner was served, it was announced by Weird Al Yankovik's parody of La Bamba.
My brief stint in software was actually authoring in TUTOR, the language used for PLATO, on a military-funded educational project for the Army. This was while I was still also working as a roadie, and was determined to be punk. Brad was the lead programmer and system designer for that project. I was the one that scared the Admirals that came to see the project. Brad once told me he was telling his mother about our friendship, and his mom asked, "What's she like?"
"She's... really hard to describe."
"Okay. What color is her hair?"
"I don't know. I haven't seen her this week."
I think I met her once. I really should write to her to tell her what he meant to me, how it nagged at me that the last time he called me I had missed it because I was pregnant with my second child and napping, and when I called back he didn't answer.
We still have the pine bookcases he built and gave to me when he moved to Atlanta. I have a copy of the game Cosmic Encounter that he gave to me, which we used to play for hours. (Brad told me after he met Joel--the day he helped me bring home those bookcases because, hey, Joel had a pickup truck--that he was the one. Like I said, Brad was opinionated, but usually right.) But it's the amount of mental furniture he gave me that I'm discovering as I remember him, as I grieve for him.
Games. We played games for so many hours, that circle of friends. D&D, Cosmic Encounter, Cosmic Wimp-out. I don't play games much any more. I don't seem to enjoy them like I did, and so much of my real life uses the same skill sets as the strategy games that they're just not as fun. Skills I honed playing with Brad.
I should get out the dice in his honor.
1. There was someone who was threatening other users on a PLATO newsgroup. Brad had the person banned. As USENET opened up, he started attributing trolling to Brad. Huh.
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