Andrew Long: [Polish translation] I first met Jos when he started working at night in the office next to mine at Stanford, that of Matt Schwab. This was apparently the period where he lay the foundation for his new career at WebTV. Matt was helping Jos learn Java, but it must be said that they spent a good deal of time discussing "Life, the Universe and Everything" as well. Both were well read and literate, and both enjoyed proving it.
My initial "bond" with Jos came when we discovered each other's delight in reciting "Simpson's" trivia. It is amusing to read Jos's essays declaring that the world would be a better place without TV -- he nevertheless clearly had watched a lot of it during his life, as have I. As my wife says, "When we first met him you knew you had a friend for life, unlike some people who you may know for many years but will never share any kind of intimacy or friendship". Jos was different, and spoke to strangers (us) like old friends. He was not brash or outspoken though, and had an inherent shyness that was quite delightful.
Our second "bond" was his delight at fixing my wheelchair. He was very proud to tell us that he had previously worked as a bicycle mechanic. He was indignant at my apparent dismissal of the fact that some spokes were loose -- to him this was unacceptable.
Over several weeks I would stop by his office late in the evening, and trade jokes with him. He always seemed delighted to talk, regardless of what it was about. He "confessed" that he had come from a "failed" political career at university (I hope I am recalling this correctly, and am not misrepresenting what he said), wherein he had discovered that such a life was not for him. He seemed a little melancholy about this period in his life, and was apparently re-focussing on a new career. Not long before I left Stanford he had obtained his job at WebTV, and was evidently very happy there.
We had returned to Palo Alto to attend a big function in the name of Jos's father, and which involved 25 years of past students and professional colleagues having a big dinner one night. Jos's mother Diane wanted Jos to attend, but claimed that Jos was not particularly inclined to attend an academic affair of that nature. He was apparently convinced to come when told that my wife and I would sit with him at the dinner. This was so touching, for although we got along extremely well, and had maintained a sporadic e-mail contact, most people would be less gracious and maintain their decision to skip the dinner. It was almost embarassing too, because that dinner was a big event for the whole Claerbout family, and we wanted Jos there for that reason alone. Needless to say we had a great time, and Jos entertained us in his inimitable manner. Jos simply had a natural way of making people feel special and comfortable.
I recall the outstanding speech that night came from Diane, who recalled several humorous stories from years gone by. Jos listened with great interest, and roared with laughter at each of her stories, seeking her out afterwards to tell her much he enjoyed her anecdotes and wit. Jos clearly had a great relationship with his parents. Not long after first meeting Jos, his father had said to me with a beaming smile on his face "I believe that you have met my son Jos". It was a justifiably proud smile, because we had been initiated into the company of Jos Claerbout, and as all who knew him can attest, that was a very happy and special club.
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