Tuesday, July 15, 2008

MindSpring Revisited - Stanley Cline

I wanted to kick of my first installation of "MindSpring Revisited" by dedicating my thoughts in fond memory of Stanley "Roamer1" Cline.

I met Stanley in March of 1997, on my first day at MindSpring's NOC. It was a Saturday. I was starting work at 0600. Stanley was leaving after his twelve hour shift. He said hello in his usual way: very quickly, rather faintly, and without any eye contact. That is my first brief memory of him.

Stanley passed away a year ago, today. He was at home, in bed. There was no sign of foul play. It looked as if he had simply gone to sleep, and just never woke up. If you google his name, the first page is a testament to his prolific contribution to the online telco community, as dozens of posts announce his passing. I think he would have been proud of the impact he made with just his words and advise.

For "MindSpring Revisited," I've asked everyone similar questions. Since Stanley isn't with us to provide his own answers, I'll provide what I think he may have said. But I invite contributions from any of his friends who happen to stop by, even if is it just to honor his memory by giving him a shoutout.

  • How were you involved with MindSpring?
    Stanley was a NOC Engineer and a font of telco wisdom. We leaned on him heavily to handle things like trunking issues, unstable SS7 links, and problematic telco switches. During my last stint, as NOC Manager, I had the honor of promoting Stanley to the first "Senior Engineer," in the Atlanta NOC.

  • What was one of your favorite adventures at MindSpring?
    Stanley never ceased to amaze me when he would get on the phone with an engineer from one of our vendors and then proceeded to educate the engineer in elaborate detail about the ins and outs of the vendor's network. Rarely (if ever) was a vendor able to argue with him. On technical matters, he was unstoppable and defeated every feeble argument thrown his way about why the vendors' networks stunk. It was humbling to see how easily and how often he did it.

  • Share a memorable event from MindSpring?
    During "the Last MindSpring Party" (where McQ opened a bottomless tab on his AMEX and let everyone drink until we were turned into Wookalars) Stanley tried Long Island Iced Tea for the first time. I believe he had five of them. Afterward we cruised up and down Peachtree Street in my car. It was a rare moment when Stanley let his guard down. Talking about everything and nothing and just laughing and yelling at people on the sidewalk.

  • What is something other SpringHeads might not have known about you in those days?
    Stanley had a quiet passion for driving hundreds of miles, just to take a few pictures and check the availability of various cell phone providers in the area. It wasn't unusual for him to tell me he drove six hours just to snap a pic of a statue and check to see if Sprint coverage was good in Memphis. Sometimes he'd eat a meal before heading back, but never a local eatery, always a fast food burger, often eaten in his car.

  • Did you learn any lessons at MndSpring that you still carry with you?
    I like to think that Stanley learned there people actually found the REAL Stanley Cline interesting and enjoyed his company. I hope he learned there is no such thing as "normal." Especially at MindSpring.

  • Come up with a unique question for someone else:
    Stanley would have said: NIC! NIC! NIC! and shown us Potato Head.

Rest In Peace, Mister Cline, where ever your may roam now.


Anonymous said...

Stanley had an odd love for stuffed animals. I remember sending Stanley's beanie chicken to the NOC's all over the country only to have it later disappear.

Some time later parts of chicken came back through interoffice mail Stanley named these parts appropriately, 'CP' for 'Chicken Parts' and seemed to love just as much as he loved chicken.

I don't remember where I found it, but I found another chicken, much like the one he lost. At about 11pm on some random day I drove over to Stanley's apartment, and put chicken on the ground in front of his door. I then knocked on the door, and ran back to my car, where I got in and went home.

Stanley was very happy chicken came home.

At some point in 2006; I took another of Stanley's odd toy loves, Mr Tongue and scanned him. I then vectorized him. It took hours to clean him up. I then made a poster which I intended to make into a tee shirt for Stanley. Unfortunately I got busy with things and never made it, but I did show him the poster, and he did seem to think it was funny.

Stanley was a hard guy to read, and honestly one of the most challenging friends I've ever had. It was work to be his friend. Many times I don't think he really realized how many people loved him for who he was. He was a very odd guy, but what can you say? He's a mate.


Anonymous said...

Stanley was a quirky fellow but I never heard an unkind word from him about anyone. He could make me laugh when talking about bell-sloth or pac-worst. He had an odd but pretty good sense of humor once you got to know him. When I think of him I will always remember the orange Tennessee jacket and Mr. Potato Head.

Even though it was a little embarrassing to him one funny story I have involving Stanley was a call from Bell. I had Warren Lindhorst on the line and he was asking for the lady in the NOC. I asked him if he meant Amy and he said no the other lady. I was puzzled because at the time Amy was our one and only female in the group. I told him he must be confused but if he had a name maybe it was someone in provisioning etc that had called him. He said her name was Mrs Stanley... Warren was mortified when I let him know Mrs was a Mr and he said, "Oh no I have been calling him Ma'am this entire time!"

Anonymous said...

Sorry I forgot to add my name for the above post.

Toby Smith.

Amy said...

I had no idea that Stanley had passed away. Stanley started in the NOC very soon after I did. I'm surprised to learn that we were the same age; his head was so full of information.

I hadn't thought of Mr. Potato Head or the Mrs. Stanley incident in quite a while. I don't think he had a particularly easy life, and it is just wonderful that he found MindSpring and that MindSpring found him.

He was a fascinating person and fabulous to work with. He is one of those stand-out people that I am glad to have had the opportunity to know.