Karen: Although I only got to work with Jos this past summer, in that short time I learned that he was all about laughter and enjoying life. I got to know Jos because we worked in the same department, only a cube away. I don't think we ever actually worked together on anything official, but he worked near me, and his magnetic personality and ability to make me laugh were completely addictive, and I always wanted to find reasons to stop by his cube and chat. I was working on redesigning the Developer site, and part of this assignment required testing it on WebTV to see if the colors looked OK. (In fact, he even gave me great demos on color pickers past and future.) I found that his was the closest WebTV around, and instead of finding an unused one somewhere else in the building (probably no more than a cube away) I chose to repeatedly pester him by coming over to use his. Going over to Jos' cube was like taking a field trip.... it meant I got to step over all sorts of toys and rubble, see what kind of crazy articles he was reading or writing, get updates on things like the GrammarBot or the latest Toessel design, be thoroughly entertained for a while. It was always like visiting an old friend, even though I'd only known him a short time. He always hassled me because I keep coming over and testing the same page, seeing if the colors looked any better -- he kept making fun of how I had to "get those colors *exactly* right!", but I think I just kept drawing out the project because the testing phase was so much fun.

One day WebTV had an "offsite." It was a lot of fun, riding bikes between wineries. If I remember correctly, Jos (and probably others) had water guns and shot at us as we rode!

Two of my fondest memories are actually from the Wednesday just before he passed away. He came up to me that Wednesday morning and said (what I now know is a common line of his!) "I have two words that will make us both millionaires." I said, "Uh oh. What?" Although completely unaware of the history of portable massage tables and the like, I was still a little doubtful of the opener! He said, "Well, maybe it's best if I just write them down." He proceeded to take the sketch of a web page layout and write at the bottom "Pr0n Console." I said, "Oh, no, do I really want to hear this?" and he replied, "Yes! And I need your design help!" So he convinced me to go to lunch with him, where we sat in a crowded Chinese restaurant and he explained to me first the pros and cons of exiting pr0n mediums, and then his vision of interactive pr0n, "sure to be an instant success." As he spoke, I kept cringing, sure that the neighboring tables were overhearing this, but by the end of the hour, I have to say he had me sold on the project -- not the content (about which I kept asking "couldn't this be done with some other content? Like travel videos, or "how to make a Toessel" lessons?", but he insisted that all the real money was in the "adult entertainment industry"!), but on the possibility of collaborating on a really cool, creative sounding project. The rest of that afternoon, we both spent a lot of time scanning the web looking for "the perfect software" that would facilitate his ideas, but it seemed it didn't exist, and the idea of me becoming an instant millionaire seemed to fade by Thursday.

Some time in the previous week, Jos had mentioned that he needed a haircut, and needed to find someone who would give him one. Mostly as a joke, I replied, "No problem, I can give you a haircut!" Well, I thought it was just a joke, but he realized he had his next fee-less barber all lined up, and kept asking me, "So when do I get my haircut?" I always answered "when you bring in your clippers and have a place to do it, "thinking it wouldn't happen and I would be off the hook. But lo and behold, that Wednesday he pulled out a bagee with his clippers and scissors, and grabbed one of his gym towels, and proudly proclaimed that today was the day I would give him his haircut. Although I had given enough haircuts in the past, I wanted to be prepared for the worst, and said, "So what if I screw up or you hate it?" He told me he would simply shave it all off, without any bad feelings. So around 5:30pm when most of our department had disappeared, we decided it was time for The Haircut. The funniest thing was that when I asked where this would take place, Jos suggested various locations within the WebTV building(!).... perhaps on our boss' balcony? (my "party pooper" hesitations were that the boss probably didn't want us trooping through her closed office, or leaving hair on her balcony, and what about the WebTV people who could watch this from below... wouldn't they find this a bit odd?)...or (my favorite suggestion) perhaps the conference room! Again, my party pooper fears were that perhaps it was not really appropriate to be giving co-workers haircuts in conference rooms... and who would clean it up? and do you suggest this is with the door opened or closed, because it sure would be odd for a woman and man to go into a conference room and close the door and turn on the clippers for a haircut! He assured me that *much* worse things had probably already gone on in the conference rooms, but I still wasn't sold. Eventually, we decided to go over to the park across the street. We complained that parks should have convenient electrical outlets, and eventually found a bench where he could sit while I used the scissors to cut his hair, completely giving up on the clippers. It was a pretty odd scene as joggers and park-goers meandered by, and tufts of Jos' hair went floating after them in the breeze, but he made me laugh the entire time. (I think I only nicked his ear once or twice, and he barely even complained.)

At my going away party, Heather gave me a really special gift-- the unfinished "Cadillac" Toessel that Jos had had in his desk drawer. I have it right now on top of my computer, and as soon as the weather gets cold, I plan to wear it and liven up the conservative Washington DC scene. (I'm doing a graduate program at Georgetown.) It really means a lot to me, and it will always remind me of a really special friend who was taken away before I even really got to know him. But in that short time, I really learned a lot from him and have memories that will last a lifetime.

Read what Karen wrote many months later.

Visit the amazing Life of Jos Claerbout