Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Tombs of rememberance

I love google. More specifically, I love searching the web, because way before I used google, it was all about AltaVista, and before that, I was using yahoo when it was still a machine on Stanford’s network. I love putting in people’s names, looking for old bands, searching on the places I’ve lived and the cars I’ve owned and the places I’ve worked. Some people might think this is a waste of time or sad, but it’s not like I’m non-interactively watching a screen that displays a fictional character’s life in half-hour intervals each week, and pretty much everybody does that.

I still remember clearly a day about five years ago, when Google Groups found an old Usenet archive on a dead machine, and launched it on the world. This might seem silly, to read a bunch of old posts by people arguing about whether or not Clinton inhaled, but the thing was, this archive contained MY POSTS! I plugged in my old email address and found hundreds of articles I wrote a decade before, going all the way back to 1990. It was like looking at the rings of an old tree to determine what seasons were festive or famine-ridden. Way back when, I posted a lot about the Space Shuttle and homemade explosives. Then I got into hacking and old computers. Then death metal and tastelessness. I found posts where I was selling old computer hardware; others where I reviewed then-new albums. Saying it was like a time machine would be an understatement. And now, I’m always looking for the high of learning something new like that, finding an old house on a satellite map or an old buddy with a new business or web page.

My latest diversion that I found on the web is a database served up by the Indiana Department of Corrections, that shows not only who is currently in the pen, but those who previously served time there, along with their infractions and sentences. I originally found this looking for my friend Jim, who may or may not be heading back to the state prison because he allegedly robbed a warehouse. But then I thought about it more, and started plugging in the names of everyone from my high school that, well, was on that career path. I quickly found at least three or four other guys who were in and out of prison for stuff like conversion, theft, breaking and entering, and battery. I emailed Larry and he gave me an armful of names to try, including our old assistant principal, who had some frequent problems blowing below a .08 while driving. It was all very interesting, to see the people who fell off the map. I mean, in the high school reunion page, you see everyone registered who became a mommy and has to tell everyone, or those with good jobs, good degrees, and all of that. You don’t see the people who ended up working at Pizza Hut or whatever, and you don’t see the ones who call Pendleton their alma mater.

I still didn’t find out if Jim was guilty of that burglary charge. He was arrested at the end of May. That either means he got bailed out (not that likely) or he’s in Elkhart County Jail, waiting for his trial, which might not even happen this year, given the court system there. And man, from the looks of the system, it is meth central up there. Anyway, if anyone has any wise ideas on how to find out more, let me know.

This reminds me of one of the things I always wanted to research, but found many dead ends. I went to school with this guy named Greg. He is, apparently, dead. I say apparently because the Elkhart Truth has a piss-poor database, and I have no other way of checking. But supposedly, he got killed in an accident while riding his bike. What’s touchy about the situation is that he was like the lowest member of the social pecking order at Concord. He came from a poor family, had greasy hair, some kind of speech impediment, and was into geek stuff like Dungeons and Dragons, but wasn’t a bright guy, either. All through junior high and high school, he was the whipping post for most of the guys, and he got beat up a lot and just took the punishment. He actually tried out for a lot of sports, and tried to become athletic, and play basketball and football, and I guess it says a lot to be involved in preppy-dominated sports like that when you’re the most hated kid in school.

I didn’t hate Greg, but I wasn’t his best friend either. He was in a lot of my drafting and architecture classes, despite the fact that he could not draw at all. In those classes, a lot of us always ragged on each other, and the whole thing was a lot of this who-isn’t-getting-laid and who-takes-it-in-the-ass sort of shit. Greg said he wanted to be an architect, which sounded ludicrous to me, because I already knew most architecture programs were too hard, too expensive, and too competitive for me, and I knew how to draw. I didn’t come right out and say “you’re fucked, buddy,” but I did tell him as tactfully as possible that maybe he should get a backup plan in place.

And I think part of why I didn’t outright just haze the guy continuously was the fact that I didn’t want to be his friend, but I realized I had a lot more in common with him than I did with the jocko sport guys in school. I mean, I had this thing in high school where everyone thought I was some kind of kid genius, so it didn’t matter if I only weighed 110 pounds of bones and skin and couldn’t do a single chin-up, because someday I’d start the next Apple Computers or something. But Greg didn’t have that going for him, so he tried to become a jock, which I guess didn’t work that well either.

Anyway, there is no Greg tomb of remembrance on the web, and I couldn’t even find an obituary or anything else online, except one hit that the public library would have one, but I’d have to go there and waste a day hunting for it, and it probably doesn’t have a story of what happened or anything.

Blah, I have no ending for this. I’m going to go search the db to see how much of my shop class is behind bars.