Tag Archives: friends

Festina Lente


On Wednesday morning I learned that my long-time friend Nóirín Plunkett has just suddenly passed away.

Update: It’s been mentioned that Nóirín stated, on their Twitter profile, a preference for the personal pronouns they/their. It’s been mentioned that I should update the below post to reflect that preference. Grief is a weird thing. We remember people as we remember them, not as other people want us to remember them. I knew Nóirín in an earlier chapter of their life, and I don’t intend any disrespect by how I recount those memories. Nóirín influenced different people in different ways. To me, Nóirín was a grammar geek, a friend, an unstoppable force, and a deep enigma. I miss the Nóirín that I knew, and I’m aware that Nóirín grew into a different person in their later years. Grief is both a very public thing and a very personal thing. I mean no disrespect of either Nóirín nor of their other friends and family. I just remember Nóirín differently than you do, and that’s probably ok.

I first “met” Nóirín on the Apache httpd documentation list, where they helped in the process of making the documentation into a literate manual, with consistent grammar, reasonable organization, and a more professional face. I then met them, in person, for the first time, at the ApacheCon planning meetings in Dublin, where they arrived with Colm and whipped things into order, imposing a great deal of organization on what had been a pretty chaotic process in previous years. I also had the great privilege of spending time in their home with her family while we were there, and these are some of the happiest memories I have of our friendship.

Nóirín contributed a great deal to the Apache Software Foundation over the years in a number of places. They continued her work on the httpd docs for a while, but began to move into community-facing things, such as ApacheCon, where they served as Conference Committee chair for a few years. They were  instrumental in making the ASF more clueful about diversity issues. They also served a year on the board of directors.

In recent years, Nóirín has been more involved with the larger effort to improve the plight of women in technology, and their direct involvement in Apache has faded, and we’ve missed them. We will now miss them even more.

Nóirín’s motto was Festina Lente – Hasten Slowly, and this embodies their approach to life. They considered things carefully, and rushed to get things done, because life is too short to get everything accomplished that we put our minds to. In the end, theirs was far, far too short.

It’s also a jarring reminder that you may never have another chance to resolve that disagreement, so you’d better do it now, before it’s too late.

Goodbye, friend.


If you knew Nóirín, or benefited from her work, please consider donating to St John Abulance in their name.

Facebook Friends

I have 246 Facebook “Friends”. At least half of them are folks that I really have to stop and think before I can figure out who they are. Some of them are a friend of a friend, and others are folk who I vaguely knew in college, or who snubbed me in high school. My main activity on Facebook is rejecting invitations to a cause, or ignoring a poke or a water balloon. And it’s simply impossible to keep up with the various updates, notes, statuses, and so on.

A few days ago, I thought it might be a good idea to prune my list of so-called “friends”. I posted to my Facebook status:

Rich is considering trimming his Facebook Friends list. Nothing personal, but it’s just impossible to keep up

I immediately got several responses, with people saying that they hoped they make the cut, or giving suggestions of how to manage the firehose of data.

And as I looked at the list, I discovered that it was indeed hard to decide who to drop from the list. They’re all there because they contacted me and asked to be reconnected with me. With only a tiny handful of exceptions, they all invited me. I’ve only invited perhaps a dozen of the folks on my list. So presumably these folks had enough esteem for me that they thought me worth reconnecting with.

And, each person that I considered removing, I realized that it was, indeed, pretty neat to be back in touch with this person, some of them after more than 20 years. So … I guess I’ll just try to figure out some way to manage the data. Apparently there’s Yet Another Facebook App for doing just that.

But … I still can’t keep up with the endless stream of messages of one kind or another.

Moving day

This weekend we helped friends move, and I hurt EVERYWHERE.

All the usual suspects were there. We’ve helped each other move for almost 20 years now, and between the various families, and 2 or 3 moves each, we’ve probably moved each other 30 or 40 times. They’ve moved me 3 times, one of which I wasn’t even there for! That’s right, I had about 4 days between one conference and the next, didn’t have time to get everything done, and had to be out the next week. While I was gone, they descended on the apartment and moved everything out, to the walls, while I was in Portland.

Now *THAT* is what friends are.