Friday, February 24, 2006

Ben Laden

I sat in The Atlanta Bread restaurant this morning waiting for class to begin at 9:00. It's easier to leave for work at 6:20 a.m. and hang out at the local coffee shop than fight the traffic and arrive just before it starts. So I now have plenty of time.

I took this shot of the rising sun and restaurant interior while having my bear claw and coffee. I use the time to study Chinese on my notebook.

But now class is over. It's been a long week here, sitting, listening, and eating. I'm ready for my desk job.

My instructor is one of the best I've ever had in my professional career. He was funny, engaging, knowledgeable, and honest. A truly entertaining guy. And that's what you have to be if you are going to hold people's attention for a week of software classes.

He's always telling some story and I'd think: What's THAT got to do with the class? But in some way he'll tie it in.

But the most interesting story, if not saddest, was one of about 20 stories about his name.

He plays in a band and often goes down to New Orleans to play the clubs. He plays the blues on accordion. Yeah, I know, kind of a strange instrument. But I guess it's the greatest thing. This year they are going down to play the Marti Gras and after passing the hat, will contribute all the proceeds to the Katrina victims.

Anyway, back when he started his band he'd do an internet search on his name and would always appear at the top. Usually on page two you'd learn about some guy that was a weapons dealer named Bin Laden. (Notice that even though the instructor spells his name differently, it's still a match using the search engines.)

After 9/11 that all changed. Now Bin Laden shows up on the top pages and Ben Laden appears somewhere on page 1800.

After the attack he got phone calls every night at 4:00 a.m. threatening his family. Some crackpot wanting to vent would call for weeks. Ben would call the police but they all thought it was a joke. Even today, some four years later, his wife got a similar call while he was away in Atlanta teaching class. It shakes her up a bit.

Ben has even changed his name to Benjamin Laden but that doesn't seem to help.

Crazy people.

Some mornings it's just not worth gnawing through the straps.