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Monday,  10/27/08  12:54 PM

Today was a frantic amazing wild breathless productive incredible satisfying awesome day, which ended with a pretty moving emotional experience for me... 

It was Day One of the Pathology Visions conference in San Diego, which is sponsored by [my company] Aperio, and it went great.  I got up early, worked out (had to get rid of those nasty fish tacos!), barely made it to the keynote speeches, and then was go go go all day; the sessions at Pathology Visions are just 30 minutes, three tracks concurrently, with short breaks and lunches, and so you're constantly moving from one place to another.  And there are a ton of customers and partners here who know me; many people to say "hi" to, and talk to about how things are going, and listen to their ideas...  very cool, but a bit, er, exhausting.  You can read more about the conference on the Daily Scan, my Aperio blog.  (At right is a shot of the keynote speech given by Dirk Soenksen, Aperio's CEO, to a packed room of 300+ people; please click to enlarge...)

Tonight the conference hosted a big dinner banquet for all attendees on the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier, including flight simulators, tours of the ship, and the opportunity to see and climb inside many vintage aircraft arrayed on the flight deck.  It was wonderful.  Of course it was great to see so many friends, customers, and partners in a more casual setting, and interact with them in a more casual way, but it was also amazing and awe-inspiring to be on an aircraft carrier, surrounded by the history, and to think this very ship fought in World War II; all aircraft carriers are special, but the history of the Midway is incredible.

After dinner everyone retired to the hotel bar (!), but I hung back and checked out the flight deck.  It was dark, and I was surrounded by ghosts.  I couldn't help thinking of all the airmen who had flown from that deck, in all kinds of aircraft, in all kinds of weather, in peace and war, many not knowing whether they'd ever return.  And of all the men who had ever flown from such decks.  And of one man in particular who flew from such decks, my father, who was a navigator in the Dutch Navy during World War II.  He was shot down early in the war, survived, and then spent four years in a Japanese prison camp, and survived.  So I knew this about him, but he never really talked about it.  I don't think I ever related to what that must have been like as well as I did tonight.  My father has been dead for over twenty years, but suddenly I felt very close to him.  It was spooky, and ... nice.

U.S.S. Midway flight deck, main catapult, viewed from the bow (click to enlarge)

The U.S.S. Midway was named after the Battle of Midway, the most important of the Pacific part of World War II, in which a U.S. fleet defeated a Japanese fleet at Midway Atoll, which lies (as you might expect) halfway between Asia and North America.  Midway is a great name, and a great concept, full of ambivalence and implied meaning.  Almost anything can be halfway between two other things.  Tonight, for me, being in this weird place where I felt so close to my Dad, it had a special meaning.  As I walked the deck with my ghosts, thinking about my Dad, I felt that my life is "midway".  I'm about to turn fifty, so I'm roughly halfway through my life, but also I feel like I'm halfway between being a kid and being an adult, halfway between being young and being old.  Somewhere on the way toward figuring it all out.  Midway :)