|August 23rd, 1999|
So I went to Seattle to visit the Microsoft Hardware Lab and upon arriving at the hotel found a message from my wife to call her– even if it was in the middle of the night (3am Seattle time, in fact). Turns out that a smoldering fire started by an electrical short had pretty much destroyed the kitchen, and smoke and soot damage had gotten the rest of the house. Kristen and the kids weren’t there–they were in fact dropping me at the airport while the house was burning–so the family is fine, except for our dogs, all of whom died in the fire.
Amazingly, the book collection, music collection, musical instruments, etc, all survived intact and largely undamaged. So in an odd way, we came out largely unscathed (we’ll still max out our insurance though).
I was going to write a long and eloquent essay about this, kind of a way of clearing it all out– “My God, what if it had been during the night when we were home” “What must it have been like for the dogs trapped in the house as the air slowly went bad and it got hotter and hotter” “Look at what we invest with value and what we care about losing” “Boy, I really feel guilty over terribly missing my dog Mika, and not terribly missing the other dogs” “Aren’t the connections you make with people you never met amazing” — this latter after getting an anonymous letter written in a childish scrawl, from An Ultima Online player, with three dollars cash enclosed…
But in the end, I never did write it, and doubt I ever will.
Mostly it reminded me again of the fragility of life, and the value of the connections we make, and of how important stuff is to our sense of identity (it’s amazing how panicked you can get over losing a stack of books you read when you were a kid and haven’t read since)…
I do really miss Mika, my dog, though. I’ve put up another MP3 for a guitar instrumental I wrote about her in the Music/What I Play section. She got my wife and I through some very tough times emotionally a few years back and was the smartest dog I’ve ever had. I’ll miss her.
In other news, I may be giving the opening address at the Online Games ’99 conference in London. Have to sort out the plane ticket yet, but if that gets worked out, I’ll be there! My first trip across the pond… and Richard Bartle and I will finally get to meet after trading emails for years and years…
Oh! Almost forgot. I’m not working on Ultima Online anymore. I’m on a new project, and no, I can’t tell you anything about it yet. Be patient! We’ll redefine online gaming if you give us time.
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