It's a beautiful late spring day - sun shining down warmly on bright green new growth and newly opened flowers - the sort of day George would jokingly complain of giving him sunburn on his walk to Pete's Deli to pick up his daily supply of Dr. Pepper, cupcakes, and other nourishing substances, before settling back into hacking at the news servers or whatever the project of the hour was.

Yesterday we held a memorial for him. I'm still sorting out in my head everything people said, the laughter at strange George behaviour over the years, the tears at our loss, the pain of those who had lost touch with George over the years and realize now that it is too late, the anger of some of us toward a universe that saw fit to take away a man who was so clearly important, and who should have had decades more to make the world a more sane, more rational place.

"There are two kinds of people in the world," I said at the point where I'd mistakenly thought that everyone who was going to speak had already done so, "those who impact your life and those who don't. Of the ones who do, there are two types: those who come into your life and disrupt everything, and your whole life turns upside down, for good or for ill, and those who are just there, always, day after day, whom you don't realize have made an impact until they are gone and all that is left is an absence." I had so much more to say, but something happened to my throat and I couldn't continue, but I'd like to continue that thought now.

It is clear from the way Netaxs has run over the past week, and it is clear from statements from George's old high school friends, from his Commodore co-workers, and others, that George was the latter type. For people at Netaxs, both staff and customers, that meant that there was someone who knew everything, and was never far off. Outside of a weekly roller skating expedition, if George wasn't in his office, he was sleeping on the sofa, and if he wasn't there, he was mucking around with stuff in the datacenter, and if he wasn't there, he was in the "grr-nest," a room he'd set up in the back with sleeping bag on a plastic folding table, a file cabinet stuffed with clothes, another table that he had laid on it's side to be used as a clothesline, and the other sundry accessories of his daily routines, and if he wasn't there, he was most likely in my office, leaning back in Tony's chair, hands behind his head, quietly contemplating how to phrase his most recent grump about something stupid one of my staff had done (or was about to do), something stupid one of HIS staff had done (or was about to do), or the most recent executive error, and how to hopefully fix it before damage control was needed.

People from Commodore seemed skeptical about the concept of George as a manager. Not surprising - there were people at Netaxs who showed the same reservations. And there's a reason for this: George almost never told people what to do. Instead, George indicated what should happen. I don't know how much of this was just personality and how much was calculated. But it is clear that he didn't want to have to give orders and monitor compliance, and instead opted to outline tasks and goals, and leave it to the people under him to figure out how to achieve this. Not particularly efficient, but I don't think that efficiency was his goal. His goal, I think, was to train people in the art of complex puzzle solving. Instead of scripting behaviour, he chose to show examples and expected people to extrapolate from what was known to solve the things they didn't know. Obviously this isn't universally effective, and mistakes happen, but learning also happens, and that, in the long run, is what life is about.

A lot of the people who have worked for George over the years expressed that he was as much a father figure as a boss to them. For the employees, George was known for sending emails that combined gruff but gentle chastisement combined with a lesson on how to do better next time; among the management team, the relationship was more complex. While to all outward appearances we were a group of peers and bosses, George's contribution didn't follow standard rules. George distanced himself from a lot of the everyday bickering and then when things progressed (or declined) to a certain point, George would send a long irrefutably sensible email that injected a sense of sanity and reality into the conversation. Rather than a father figure, to the management team, George was the older brother who, when we kids were about to come to blows over who was "it," would teach us a new game to play.

A lot of people talked of George's technical brilliance, which was undeniable. George managed to excel at anything and everything he put his hand to. He created Frankenstein machines out of bits of old hardware, created workable solutions to any problem with cable ties, bits of string, blocks of wood and chewing gum wrappers - whatever was handy at the time. He knew systems, he knew hardware, he knew cables, he knew electrical systems - anything you asked him, he most likely knew; anything he didn't know, he'd probably know next time you saw him. I was impressed with this, but the more I grew to know George, the more I came to realize that the technical brilliance and knowledge was really just a side product of something far more impressive.

Through all my schooling, winding my way through college, playing in a Philosophy Ph.D. program, having endless discussions with philosophers and physicists and political science students , I do not believe that I have ever met anyone with as refined an analytical and rational sense as George's. Through all my travels through the worlds of artists and writers, I have never met anyone as critically observant as George. Combine these traits with an unerring ability to examine something new and unapproachably strange in order to find the ways in which it was "like" something else, in order to make it no longer unapproachable. The result was a man who could write brilliant essays on management, on the current situation in the Middle East, on how to debug some strange issue that stumped everyone else, and so on. The subject didn't matter - he put the same care and thought into everything he did. In a sense, George personified the concept of the Hegelian dialectic. He combined the old and the new to create something better than both, and when he was done, it was obvious that what he said was self-evidently true and correct, and was somehow simultaneously familiar and revelatory, and left us kicking ourselves for not seeing it ourselves.

It's only been a week. I have no idea how we will get along with out George's keen insights and subtle guidance. I have no idea how I will get along without a foil to my cynicism, without the sense of calm he generated when things were going badly. It's clear that an era at Netaxs has died with George, and that nothing will ever be the same. But each of us will go on, each in her or his own way, and one way or another we'll muddle through. And we'll take George's memory and the lessons that he's taught us, and we'll learn and grow, which, in the long run, is what life is about.

Bernie Mojzes