Adam John Bell



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Adam Bell, our friend and colleague

Those of us who knew Adam well at Reva Systems tried to collect some of our thoughts, memories, anecdotes -- really anything, however seemingly trivial -- that we could put together as a remembrance. We wanted to convey what it was like to work with and to know Adam. He was a warm and funny presence in our midst. It broke our hearts to lose him. We sincerely wish Annie the best during this painful time.

  • His sauntering walk. He never let anyone or any thing hurry him, if he didn't feel like being hurried. I invited him to go for a walk with me during lunch one time and was sorely disappointed to find that his version of a walk was really just a light saunter. Try as I might to get him to hurry it up a bit so we might actually break a sweat, he stubbornly refused to take the hint and so we went at Adam's pace -- nice, relaxing, and mellow. [Cathy Pedersen]

  • The time I talked to him about his interest in finding a bigger house. I naively suggested that he consider condos as an alternative. "I want a real house!", he said, clearly appalled that I might lump him in with the condo crowd. Dave Shaw, Adam, and I went out for lunch that afternoon and - I couldn't help it -- I had to keep pointing out the condos that were for sale in the area. "I told you, I am not buying a piece of shit little crap condo!" Each time I mentioned another place for sale, his voice got louder and his swears more creative. [Cathy Pedersen]

  • Knowing absolutely nothing about renovation, I often compared notes on how Adam had renovated his house in Wayland and how my boyfriend was going about renovating the house he had recently bought in Carlisle. I was always impressed by how meticulously Adam tackled these jobs. Adam told me one time how frustrating it was to struggle with the crownmolding in his bedroom, how he would have to redo some corners several times before getting them "just right". He said he couldn't stand seeing gaps or obvious imperfections. He spent an entire weekend working on the crownmolding in just that one room. I thought of that when I went home one night and listened to my boyfriend enthusastically tell me how he had installed crownmolding in the kitchen in one day. He slapped a bunch of caulk on the pieces that weren't fitting together correctly and managed to mold them into the shape of a corner. He said no one would know the difference. He was prouder than Adam of his accomplishment, but (no slight intended toward my boyfriend :-) ) I think Adam's work may stand the test of time better. When I saw his house recently, I was very impressed by what a beautiful job he and Annie had done both inside and outside the house. [Cathy Pedersen]

  • Here I sat, [naively] thinking I had so little to say about Adam, having only come to know him over the past 6 months. But then I began reading your anecdotes and it all started streaming back for me!

    Adam's contempt for organized sports and his knack for creative swearing converged for me on the first day I met him, over pizza in the Reva lunchroom. Myself an English football fan, it seemed only reasonable to ask this guy with the British accent which club back home he supported. What I got in return was blue-streaked, mocking, and utterly hilarious 20 second run of profanity -- delivered with that reddening, slightly-squinting facial expression of Adam's -- that left me with absolutely no doubt where he stood on the matter: Lads wearing matching prissy shorts running after a ball for 90 minutes in front of 50,000 mostly-soused hooligans ranked about on par with root canal, in his book. Note to self: "Avoid talk of football with Adam in future."

    Come to think of it, that phrase "no doubt" is a pretty good one for Adam. It's the rare person these days who'll give you, without fail, a clear sense of where he stands -- and where you stand with *him*. Adam was one of those people. From the very first moment you met, he left you with no ambiguity about who he was, what he thought, and what he thought about what *you* thought. Not judgmentally. Not combatively (well, never unduly so). But always very honestly. We could all do with some "more Adam" in our lives.... [Mike Miskovsky]

  • Adam and my girlfriend Barbara met at the Reva holiday party. She liked Adam a lot and enjoyed seeing him on occasion at the YMCA, where we work out together. One day I saw Adam in the lunchroom and mentioned that Barbara and I had got engaged. He congratulated us heartily but mentioned that he hoped Barbara would not turn into "Bridezilla". While I pondered that thought, Adam launched into a very funny description of "brides gone wild", buying every bridal magazine in sight, etc. [Ed Allen]

  • Some days later, Adam stopped in at my home to help me move a large TV. After moving it, Barbara, Adam and I got on the topic of the modern way of registering for wedding gifts via web page, which helps prevent duplicate gifts. Adam said he liked that idea "because a couple only needs so much bloody crockery". Barbara and I laughed, and we still go around imitating his Brit accent, saying "bloody crockery". [Ed Allen]

  • Ed to Adam, as he smoked a cigarette outside the building, "Smoking a fag, are you? I've always been amused by that term." To which Adam replied, "Most Americans are, Ed." [Ed Allen]

  • The time he said the phrase "oral sex" in the lunch room and everyone stopped to listen to the rest of the conversation at Adam's table. [Todd Chesanek]

  • The hilarious discussion in the lunchroom about his efforts to find just the right 1st year anniversary gift. The conversation went on for a long time, with Adam shooting down almost every suggestion. How about jewelry? "Done that." How about a nice trip to a B&B? "We're going away around the same time." How about something for yourself (wink, wink) like a nice, big HDTV television? Finally, someone mentioned an electronics game. [Todd Chesanek]

  • "Adam's Law": right mouse click should not be the only option to access a functionality. Adam and I had various discussions, sometimes in depth, and sometimes casually, about the use of right mouse clicks in user interface. I doubt we had a final agreement, but I will always remember Adam for his thoughtfulness, his perseverence, and dedication for quality and clarity when describing our product. [David Zhou]

  • One thing that comes to mind is taking Adam to his first baseball game last Tuesday [August 2, 2005]. He appeared to have had fun, he was asking questions like he was very interested in learning more, and (one particularly Adam-like thing) he wasn't afraid to admit with sincerity that he enjoyed this particularly American sporting event to others the following day. It was a nice night, and I'll remember it. [Scott Barvick]

  • "This is why cricket is so boring to watch. You don't have guys making a fool of themselves in between innings. This is f* entertaining." He was remarking on the events that take place in between innings. [P. Krishna]
  • The next day when asked how he liked the Lowell Spinners, Adam remarked, "If it weren't for the baseball, it would have been even more fun." [Nirav Shah]

  • I dusted off the email he sent to me in Nov'04 where he sent his comments on the slrrp 00 version. It was as he admits "purely editorial (and therefore arguably trivial!)"... Yesterday, I made it a point to go through it and include his comments in the 03 version of the draft. [P. Krishna]

  • Dave Shaw and Cathy laughed at how Adam would have appreciated the irony - that it takes an untimely death to get an engineer to finally incorporate a tech writer's editorial comments! [Dave Shaw and Cathy Pedersen]

  • I never saw Adam wearing a jacket (except when he was riding his bike). Even in the middle of winter, he would arrive in just a T-shirt and I would have to ask him, "Aren't you cold???" His stoic response was always a simple "No."He was a tough guy. [Todd Chesanek]

  • Adam was one of the first people that I worked with at Reva as Mike Grady had asked me to use a fresh set of eyes to report any issues. As I began my learning I went through the Install Guides and documentation to learn about the TAP. I found a few things and made my suggestions to Adam. Adam took all of my suggestions openly and in the nature they were intended. He made me feel good about the comments that I made. I always found Adam to be open and honest and to never shy away from doing the right thing for the company. [John Thorburn]

  • Adam and I got to work together at the Demo Center a bit as I needed help installing the equipment there. We were using drills to install the screws and Adam told me that he and power tools didn't quite get along (the power tools usually won). We had a running joke about Adam using power tools at work and how that was to be avoided at all costs. [John Thorburn]

  • We received 6 DC-400 RFID readers one day at the Demo Center. These readers are REALLY heavy and I asked Adam to come over and help me take them off the delivery truck. During the whole time Adam complained jokingly about the fact that I had him come over and move these G-- Damn things and that if if he saw my number come up on his phone again he was just going to let it ring off the hook. [John Thorburn]

  • One day we were talking about digital receivers (or something to that effect) when our intern, Daniele, came over to join the conversation. Daniele was BIG on using everything Linux and made no qualms about letting everyone know it. Daniele was giving his opinion about the item in question when Adam turns to us and says "Well if you can't load Linux on it then it must be shit"....and I just broke out laughing. Adam's wit was quick and sharp. [John Thorburn]

  • Every movie could be related to Reservoir Dogs...[John Thorburn]

  • I never understood how he could like that damn finger puppet movie [Team America]...every time he talked about it he just broke up laughing. [John Thorburn]

  • We used to joke that whenever he was having a good day, I was having a bad day. And vice versa. I'd come in one day and be like, "Maybe a cup of coffee might make me feel better," while he would be, "What a nice day it is out there!" We were always laughing about that. We were the grumps at the company. [Dave Shaw]

  • Dave Shaw spoke about how, being married with two children, he liked to live vicariously through Adam. After a weekend spent mowing the lawn and helping his wife with the kids, he was always curious to learn on Monday about Adam's latest adventure. [Dave Shaw]

  • Dave Shaw said he had watched a movie Adam had highly recommended on the Friday before Adam died, "Shaun of the Dead". He greatly enjoyed it and was looking forward to talking to Adam about it on Monday. [Dave Shaw]

  • The coolest, edgy, sort of "bad boy" (smoker, drinker, motorcycle rider) with a great heart, British guy I ever met [Janet Desaulniers]

  • I always tried to have lunch when he was in the lunch room that way I knew there would be a good dose of realistic cynicism and dark humor [Janet Desaulniers]

  • Speaking of lunch, the last time we did have lunch at the same time, he was standing in front of the freezer with the door open reading the back of his two frozen lunch choices. When I asked if he was looking for the one with the most fiber or calories, he laughed and said he was reading to find out which one cooked the fastest [Janet Desaulniers]

  • One Monday soon after we first met he was commenting on his 200 mile "bike" ride over the weekend and I was thoroughly impressed as I said that I thought a day of biking 50 miles was a lot. Only after he said something about stopping for gas did I figure out that he wasn't peddling. [Janet Desaulniers]

  • It always impressed me how he was very sensitized to Annie's health issues. He came across as extremely caring and supportive. [Janet Desaulniers]

  • How long did it take Adam to warm up his bike? 1 cigarette. [Toby Cabot]

  • His insistence on smoking before and after the Corporate Challenge race. His ability to easily outrun some of the non-smokers.

  • His smoking breaks at work. Rain or shine, he made the trek outside.

  • The way he made fun of the mini-mouse that Dave Ward favors.

  • The way he would sit in status meetings with his head cocked to one side.

  • The way he did not take tech writing too seriously. He did not take it personally when engineers did not review his work. Often during meetings he showed a razor wit when it come to downplaying the importance of user documentation in general by suggesting that it really didn't matter, did it?, no one was going to read the f* documentation anyway.

  • He also showed great wit in playing the role of customer for the benefit of the engineers.

  • The way he signed all his emails "Cheers".

  • His disinterest and even disdain for organized sports.

  • Despite his gruff manner, the way he was actually so polite and even gentlemanly whenever anyone stopped by to see him in his cube. "Hello Nirav, what can I do for you?"

  • His love of his bunnies. He kept a picture of them on his bulletin board. When he spoke of them, you had this indelible image of a macho man talking about "my bunnies".

  • His love of eating peanuts in the break room while chatting after lunch.

  • His love of movies and talking about movies during lunch breaks.

  • Discussion about how a character in the movie "The Replacements", with cigarette always on hand, reminded people of Adam.

  • The affection he felt for his nephew. He really enjoyed having him for a visit.

  • Above all, his concern for his wife, Annie.

Adam Bell, coming to terms with our loss

"Strange is our situation here on Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men -- above all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends."
-- Albert Einstein, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief, p. 241

"For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'"
-- John Greenleaf Whittier