Five years ago, I wrote an article, in Romanian, for Romanians, about someone you perhaps know. I will translate it below.
If all you're good for in this life...
Let me tell you of the CTO of Polimedia srl, by name Martha McCuller. Some of you had even the opportunity to meet her personally, if I recall she honored with her presence even some sort of meet of the online kids of Banat.
Well, in her younger days, but not all that long ago, maybe a decade, not even, Marti McCuller was one of the usability experts of the webs (a nascent preoccupation in those days). People were discovering in amazement that if you try and navigate a webpage by the keyboard it can be that you have to tab through even a hundred bits of crap between any two worthwhile items, until St. Carpal eats your soul. Or that it's perhaps a good idea to use tags for images, especially for the benefit of those trying to comprehend your page through a screen reader. Or other such basic items.
We could say that she brought her contribution to the emergence of W3C standards, as we can say that her company at the time, Agassa Net Technologies, was a market leader in that segment, at a time when the USG had just decided that all its own sites were to respect some standards (Section 508). I've not going to tell you who wrote them, so as to not piss you off. But I will tell you that she was the consultant both GAO and Cognos chose for their projects to redesign for usability, as well as other smaller deeds. This while also working on a search engine (Google wasn't really there yet).
Does it sound good ? Perhaps it does, but allow me to point out that this in fact constitutes a later preoccupation, a sort of second career. Because before starting to Internet, Marti worked for the US Army, writing battle manuals. A, and among other things coordinated a research project dealing with geolocation systems for rockets. Do you know who was there present the first time some computers followed the position of a flying object on a precompiled map ? Well... long live your GPS.
This being a sort of desk job, honorable retirement from active service, because for about four years more than thirty years ago, the very same Martha was taking part in the Cold War, on their side. She's one of those Americans great-grandfather kept expecting to show up already, and they kept not showing up. A little mix-up with the Russians, what can you do. But while we had blue eyed Katja and Natasha lo that they had hazel eyed Marti.
Sounds a little fabulous, over all, is it ? Alright. The reason I've recounted all of these, matters that in the end regard her and perhaps maybe me, but rather improbably you, has to do with the title.
Because before joining the army, Martha was... a truck driver. For years on years a blondy kid drove around a beastly semi, the 30 ton kind. And before that she was a lifeguard. And before that, she tended bar. And before that she was a subsistence hunter, or however you would call that activity, because the family lived in Alaska and went hunting and gathering. So looky the 14 yo child with the gun on her back, gleefully off to hunt elk, in the frozen wastes of the North, all covered in skins and furs.
You know what of it ? If you ask her, she says she liked it. The hunting, and the sea, and the bar and driving trucks. This on one side. And on the other side, if all you're good for in this life is driving trucks, it may just be the case you deserve your meth. But on the even otherer side, it's quite possible we can't afford that all truck drivers out there deserve their meth.
I don't know, I'm just saying.
The woman is nothing short of a legend, to me. I will remember her always, with the warm satisfaction that she called me her best friend. The world is a little smaller today, the sky a little duller as the sun set tonight.
But so it goes.