Analysis (Services and Self)

Koan Bremner's view on life as a database and data warehouse professional / addict and non-genetic woman

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Back to the Braai

I wouldn't even like to hazard a guess at the number of people I've met and known over the years; many thousands, certainly, but how many thousands? No idea. Of all those people, who are the ones I remember? I guess the majority fall into the category which knowledge management theorists call "RFR" (i.e. recent, frequent or relevant); the people we've encountered most recently, most frequently or who have the most direct impact on some immediate aspect of our lives. For me, though, I think there are two additional "categorisations" (for want of a better term) of people that lead to them remaining in my memory; namely, those I meet under unusual circumstances; and those who break the stereotypes that I undoubtedly form, hard as I try not to. My ex-colleague Brad definitely falls into that last categorisation. Last Thursday was his last day with my employers, Exony; and next week he returns to the country of his birth, South Africa. Circumstances conspired to prevent my being in the office towards the end of last week, and so sadly I will not get the chance to say goodbye to Brad in person. I hope he will not cringe with embarassment if I set down here some thoughts on why I rate him so highly as a professional; why I think he is a quite remarkable individual; why an apparent dichotomy between the professional and the person really makes me question the basis of my own faith (or rather, lack thereof); and why my honest hope that he finds what he is looking for is tempered with deep regret that he won't be around the office any more.

In his professional capacity as a programmer / software engineer / choose a term you like, Brad has an insight and eye for detail that I've rarely seen. Maybe the characteristic I found most valuable, though, was his extreme scepticism in the face of apparent technological advances. On more than one occasion, I've shown prototype code to my colleagues with quite a "wow!" factor result; but until I had the quiet "yup, that seems to work" from Brad, I'd doubt whether all the bases had been covered. I keep odd work hours (insomnia is *such* a joy!) whereas Brad just kept long hours.

As an individual, Brad has a deep Christian faith, which he has referred to on his blog; but you wouldn't necessarily have realised this from the man himself, because he was never (in my experience) a person who would impose his faith on you, attempt to evangelise you, or quote scripture at you. I have a deep admiration for people of faith, primarily because I have no faith of my own. Indeed, I have a sense of jealousy for the comfort that I guess a strong faith can bring; but that's not a comfort I sense, so I seek mine in other areas. He reminds me of my brother, Russ; like Russ, I cannot recall Brad ever saying a bad word about anybody. Which is not to say that he may not have *thought* that some people needed to shape up in some ways (I suspect my occasional tendency towards the, er, *emotional* may have stymied him from time to time!)

And here's the remarkable thing, from my perspective; that such a sceptical person, so difficult to fool on matters of business and technology, had simultaneously such a profound faith. What does Brad know, that I do not? What insight has he had, that I, patently, have not? As I said, I have no faith (and not for the want of looking) and I tend to be a little dismissive of those who learn their "faith" from the cradle and probably never question it until the grave (the dread word indoctrination springs to mind). That's not an accusation I'd level at Brad. A man of few words (and even fewer blog posts, sadly) but every one of them worth listening to. And a wicked sense of humour.

So, farewell and God speed, Irish African! I genuinely hope that you find what you are looking for. Next time I enjoy a piece of Biltong, I'll raise a silent toast in your direction, a valued colleague, and (I hope) a friend.

This blog has been migrated to new software on a different server ( and comments on this post on *this* blog are now closed. All existing comments have been copied to the equivalent post on the new blog. If you still wish to comment on this post, please use the equivalent post at:


  • At 8:52 am, Anonymous IrishAfrican said…

    Koan, Thanks for everything that you have said.

    I have been feeling guilt for not commenting on your Blog, as I did read it a little while ago. (45k over a modem is no fun!) Your insight into me as a person and into matters of life as usual seems to be very accurate.

    I have had a few Braai's and some Biltong since I have been back, whilst watching the 6 Nations Rugby (and the Super 12, which is more popular here at the moment). I was sad to see Ireland loose to France over the weekend, but unfortuanetly, they didn't deserve to win, despite much encouragement
    (mostly shouting at the TV) from me.

    I hope and pray that everything will continue to go well for you, both Professionally and Personally.

    I will endeavor to start Blogging again soon too. All the Best!


<< Home