Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What is your favorite memory of Michael?

Would love to hear your favorite Michael stories... 


  1. I remember wheeling with Michael once. Can't remember exactly which trail, though. He was a good guy.

  2. I don't have a favorite memory but many.
    When we were 18 I tricked Michael into thinking I was in high school. He freaked out that there was a high school chick at his party out at 2 in the morning! I called him a fool that night and started to fall in love with him.
    I remember the first time I introduced Michael to my Grandma and Grandpa. He looked at me and said that they have such kind souls. Fell more in love with him.
    When we moved to Flagstaff to go to college I had just lost my beloved cat. I couldn't seem to get over it, so for Valentine's Day Michael took me to the Humane Society to pick up a kitten for me. We came home with Merlin AND Gandalf!
    Also in Flag, Abendschan and Michael would sit and quote Star Wars back and forth to each other. Total nerds!
    Right after we were married I worked at Target in Flagstaff. My arthritis was undiagnosed but I was in so much pain. When I would come home from work Michael would run out and carry me into our house so that I wouldn't have to walk and be in more pain.
    After college we lived in Gilbert. One day Michael came home for lunch and brought me the BEST bean and cheese burrito. After I ate it he started cracking up and told me he had bought it out of some guys trunk. NOT funny for a germ-a-phobe. Still one of the best burritos I've ever had.
    When Michael started working at AGCS one of his customers called him all in a huff, really pissed off because his printer wasn't working. Michael went upstairs to try to help him. He bent over, plugged in the printer and turned it on. He called me right away because he didn't want to forget the guys face! He described it to me in detail; an oops, I'm an ass kinda face he said!
    When he started working at Honeywell, the very first day, someone called him Grenley. He was never Michael, he was always Grenley. When Shaun tempted him from the SOC for a few years the guys made him a SOC puppet. He loved that thing. Made him chuckle.
    I could go on and on but my final memory to share with all of you is this. The first time that he held Caden, his face, man, his face. The smile that broke out was unbelievable. He had never held a baby before. He was so afraid he was going to break him, I promised him he wouldn't. He sat on the bed in the hotel room and fed him. It was magical.

    Thank you all for your kind words. They mean the world to me. I can't wait to read your memories.

  3. Lots of great memories of Grenley. I'll share my most recent one. We recently had the honor of awarding Michael with a distinguished title of "Fellow" based upon his rich technical depth, his innovative ideas, and his collaborative style. In true Michael form, he was shocked, and humbled that he was widely regarded by his peers and leaders as such. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to look him in the eyes and remind him how valuable he was as an employee. I deeply regret not taking the same time to remind him how valued he was as a friend... Over a working lunch (pizza) that same day filled with napkin drawings of business models, threats, and counterthreats, he stated "I don't want to be a Fellow after all. You can call me Fella!". They say that nicknames are terms of endearment. In that case, Godspeed to you Fella, Grenley, Mike, Tick, Grim, Meep, Dude. -mace

  4. Narrowing it down to just one memory wouldn’t be possible – but here are several of my favorites:
    • Good to see all of the nicknames listed by Mace – I will add one more to the list – ‘MG’.
    • MG started at Honeywell just before me (July 2003), and I was privileged to get to share an office with him for my first two years. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first met him – Buddy Holly spectacles, shaggy hair, tattoos, alien stickers, Goth-chic action figures, jazz music, crazy/elaborate handshake rituals, rooster-boosters, etc… But it didn’t take me long to figure out how lucky I was to be his office-mate. MG helped me adjust to working at a big company, taught me about security and shared his hacking Kung-Fu. Every morning before work MG, Brando, DB, and I would meet for coffee at the local Starbucks – MG was capable of consuming amazing quantities of caffeine. As a group, we would do our best to solve the world’s problems, and I was always amazed by the depth and breadth of MG knowledge/intelligence.
    • MG took me to my first NHL game – this was back when the Coyotes still played at the old stadium in downtown Phoenix. I am not sure if MG planned it or not, but somehow I ended up riding the Zamboni prior to the start of the first period. MG was like a little kid – every time the Zamboni would drive by his seat he would wave at me. It was hilarious!
    • When I moved from a rental property in Gilbert – to a new house in Gilbert – MG took a day off of work, drove down from Glendale, and spent the entire day helping me move. He insisted on helping me, and he forever won a place in the hearts of my parents after that day.
    • MG loved Missy – and he would constantly tell me how lucky he was to have her as a wife. MG knew that he wouldn’t be the man he was without her support.
    • Caden was a welcome addition to the Grenley family, and I will never forget the pride on MG’s face when he showed me the first pictures of his son. My comments on seeing the first photo of Caden: ‘OMG, that kid has more muscles than I do!’
    • I can’t tell you how many Jeep trips we took together – but MG was a different guy on the trail. It seemed like there was a Jeep outing every weekend. MG sold me my first Jeep – a 1998 Wrangler – complete with alien stickers, lockers, sway bar disconnects, lift-kit, and oversized off-road tires. I think he may have even taken a loss on the sale, but he gained a weekend Jeep buddy who couldn’t say no. Four Peaks, Apache Trail, Crown King and the Coke Ovens are just a few of the places we visited. MG had a unique talent for getting Jeeps to go places they shouldn’t be able to go – he never got nervous – he knew what they were capable of doing – and he knew how to make them do it.
    • MG loved animals – especially dogs. A visit to the Grenley house is like a trip to a puppy petting zoo, and you best not be shy as you will most likely have a 100 lbs. of puppy sitting on your lap by the end of the night. One of my favorite memories of visiting the Grenley home was MG ‘attempting’ to keep his chocolate lab from licking his face off. (That dog was determined.)
    There are many, many more – but I will stop there for now.

  5. Way too many stories, and many of them either not for polite company and/or uber-geeky, but a quick mixture of stories and remembrances off the top of my head:

    -He and I talking for hours upon hours in person and over the phone about technology and ideas and about the things we could accomplish together. I never was more happy to talk about our field, what could be done in it, and what we could accomplish together than I was with him.

    -Working together on things that we simply thought up as two under-confident hacks and making it work. We knew we were pretty good, but neither of us would dare say it.

    -Hanging out and listening to--and talking about--jazz. Talking about his amazing collection of jazz music, and our love for it. Listening to him talk about the little hole-in-wall record joints he would find rare live recordings, our favorite tunes, and our bumbling renditions of them.

    -Coming in over the top of a Chinese hack and replacing their warez with Rage Against The Machine's album "Free Tibet."

    -Him giving me a birthday card--handing it to me almost like it was a dope deal because he knew I didn't like people to fuss over me and it embarrassed me.

    -He and I and JJ hanging out at JJ's house after he had a really rough spell and telling JJ and me how much he appreciated and loved us.

    -Listening to him talk with Missy over the phone while they were going through the adoption process of Caden--just seeing the excitement in his face. And then turning over the roll-out of the SOC to me so he could dedicate his time to the adoption process. I asked him "are you sure you want me to do it? It's almost entirely your design." He replied, "Nah, you do it. You're better than me anyway." We both knew it wasn't true, but he was just trying to give me a little more confidence and I knew that he had to let it go for a bit so he could take care of his new family.

    -Having gross-out contests over text messages. (I think I won that one--he just couldn't sink as low as my depraved mind).

    -Knocking things over on his desk and watching him laugh about it. Neither of us knew why he thought it was so funny, but he did.

    -The pictures and figurines of Deamonique around his desk

    -Riding up 4 Peaks with Caden in the back munching on a Slim Jim. He said "watch this. Caden, say 'Mama'." And Caden would reply "Dada." "That pisses her off, but what can I do?" he said to me--with a big grin.

    -Listening to him talk about his dogs, ham radios, the numbers-transmissions over the air that fascinated him, the nebula of Orion's belt that he was looking at and charting, the one-liners we would shoot back and forth to each other, just so much…I miss him.

  6. I met Michael through my husband Eric. Eric and I live in NY but he worked at Honeywell's Phoenix site for a year. I remember when Eric told me about Michael, he told me what a great guy he was and how much he respected him professionally. He couldn't wait for me to meet him when I came out to visit. My son and I came out in April of 2009. We had plans to go off roading at Four Peaks with Michael. I had never been before and was a little nervous. I remember liking Michael immediately, he had a warm and kind personality that automatically made me feel comfortable and welcome. He even made special accommodations for our two chihuahuas in the back of the jeep, taking care to see that they had proper cushioning and water. My son was fascinated with the off roading experience and Michael patiently answered all of his questions. I felt completely at ease, as Michael was clearly experienced and cautious. At some points he even allowed me to drive as he coached me along. He was a great teacher, patient and calm. We had an amazing day, we even had the good fortune of interacting with a group of wild horses! We saw them in the distance and I asked him if we could try and get closer to them. I was captivated by there beauty and started to climb out of the jeep to photograph them. I think this made him a little nervous at first but after a minute it was clear that they were calm creatures and posed no threat. (even still, he stayed safely in the jeep) He waited patiently for my son and I as we fed then flowers and took photographs. It was truly a magical experience and I am grateful to him for making it possible. I have been looking at the photographs from that day and others and am reminded of what a wonderful person he was. He had a great sense of humor and was full of passion and curiosity. I know that Eric's life was enriched through having Michael as a friend and that he will be deeply missed and thought of with only the fondest of memories by our family.

    Polly & Eric Huet

  7. JJ, I remember the alien stickers. He made sure all SOC members had them.
    Travis, I remember him repeating the text gross out messages. And I remember him loaning me the Ken Burns Jazz DVD's.

    He bought this huge telescope and trucked it to our house for my family to use. He gave us a bottle of absinthe and we had to learn how to make it. He came to a Superbowl party with my family. I remember helping to get him back into the SOC and him saying 'Hello Boyo' once again coming in there. It was a good feeling. He really liked my computer bag from some conference. I gave it to him and he used it from then on. He liked the design on the inside. I will post some content of 4 wheeling we did. Give me a day or so. It will be at www.bigfig.net/grenley and on my google plus...

  8. One weekend several years ago, Mike invited me to go on an “intermediate” trail out near the Four Peaks. I was a little nervous because my Tahoe 4x4 was meant more for snow than true off road adventures. But Mike would get so energized about describing his weekend adventures, his energy became contagious and I agree to go out with the group.
    On the easiest part of the trail, I hit a submerged rock that was determined to become fully exposed and during that “exposure” process went down the center line of my truck causing 11k worth of damage.
    Fast forward several years ……
    I’m diagnosed with cancer and require some major surgery. After coming back from medical leave I’m in a meeting in my office – I hear a knock on my door – It’s Mike and several members from the SOC – They say they have a “get well” gift for me – they had gone back onto the trail and retrieved the rock (which I must say is at least 200 pounds). That gesture brought me very close to tears that day, as it was the most genuine act of friendship and the best practical joke to date in my life.
    People would often come into my office and say – “What’s that rock doing here?” To which I would respond, “That’s the best get well gift I’ve ever received!”
    That rock now resides on my front yard and will always bring special memories of Mike!
    I miss you Mike!
    Tom LaBonte

  9. The only guy that ever had a Macbook and "the number of allowed stickers" as part of a job negotiation strategy. Yes, we folded when he held out for more alien stickers...

  10. I thought I'd pass a story from the guy that supported the Yavapai County Search and Rescue vehicle recovery. He wanted to know what this guy did for a living that had so many people looking for him. He said that once he hit pavement and towed the jeep to Show Low, he was flagged down by 6 different people along the way. They all indicated that they recognized the vehicle and had been searching for it for weeks. One guy indicated that he found out via a bass fishing website. I told the driver that it wasn't what Michael did that made everyone want to search for him, it was because of who he was. He had never experienced anything quite like it.

  11. I have many many favorite memories of Michael.

    For a period of a few years, starting when I was about 18 or 19, Michael and I were best of buds. We spent countless hours
    together doing everything from playing video games to long philosophical talks. We both grew up in the goth/industrial music scene and could go on forever about music. Often times we would listen to the same “Bauhaus” or “Tones on Tail” album over and over. It never got old.

    Michael spent Christmas one year with my family and that was a big deal because I had never had a friend spend xmas with us before. Michael had become like family. He was always a big kid and I remember he had play light saber fights with my nephew. I think he was the favorite “uncle” after that.

    I remember prior to the world wide web, Michael had a computer and was learning how
    to hack. He became obsessed with it. I didn’t understand it but he took to it like a duck to water. I had no idea that he was laying the foundation for
    his future profession. He sometimes didn’t even know what he was hacking into. Once, he accidentally hacked into the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office. He was so freaked out he disconnected everything and was worried he was going to get into trouble. That lasted for about a day before he was back doing it again but this time more carefully (sorta). :)
    He really loved computers like no one I have ever known.

    Perhaps my favorite memory of Michael was a trip we took together. We went to Disneyland for a couple days followed by almost a week in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was quite the adventure! I think we tried to see which one of us could drink more margaritas. I have a photo somewhere of us each drinking the biggest margarita on earth. Must have been as big as my head.
    We stayed at the El Presidente in San Jose Del Cabo right next to a bird sanctuary. It was amazing. We spent most of the time on the bar stools that were in the pool. The beach was beautiful but had a bad riptide/undertow. I went part way in and he had to rescue me before I got pulled out to sea. We had been so busy drinking that we failed to read the warning signs lol. One of my favorite trips ever!

    We grew apart but reconnected again about 7 years ago. We were both excited to be in touch again and to catch up on times. I was glad to find out that he and Missy were still together, and that he had built a career with computers. He spoke about how he could hardly believe he was doing what he loved so much.

    I have never met anyone else like Michael.

    He will truly be missed & I will always have the fond memories.

  12. The funniest thing ever... Michael & Missys wedding. The neighbors dog barking, Mike & Missy trying to keep their giggles to a quiet roar then finally giving up an the guests did too. The dog didn't like weddings I guess. Ha ha.

  13. 21 years ago I would ride my bicycle many miles up towards his house. I would turn right just after the Fox's Den (If memory serves me right) but just before the mall.

    I was 14 and trying to find my way.. he was an adult and, for some reason, took me under his wing. He introduced me to music... awesome music... and created me a mix tape that I still listen to. H-Bomb White Noise, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, etc... I am crying as I write this right now because there are so many good memories. Everything that shaped me in life was because of him. He showed me how to respect people and scolded me when I did something stupid.

    Warlock Bones. I love you. I really hope you know just how much you shaped my life.

  14. Hey IM,

    Do you remember when he freaked out because you didn't know who Billy Idol was?! Man, that made him feel OLD! I remember him always telling you that life is not a rap video. He loved you man and respected who you were at 14 and who you grew into.

  15. There's not much more I can add about Grenley and how everybody who spent time with him became better people at the end of the day because of it.

    Mike insisted that I untuck my shirt on my first day working with him.

    He introduced me to arp spoofing, and winked while telling me not to do anything evil with it.

    And as far as I'm concerned, Grenley's a MINI driver that just got confused about what car to drive.


  16. Flagstaff in the mid 90s ..

    Friday night pizza, movies, and long hours exploring. Always at their place. Nearly always Missy got to play chaufferette since I didn't have a car and he didn't drive. We'd go to Wherehouse and find some movies to rent, come back, order a pizza, and just hang out. He had a vast catalog of films in his head that he'd seen and loved sharing his favorites. At some point he got a LaserDisc player and called me up, excited, saying "Aliens on LaserDisc has all sorts of extra scenes they didn't put in the movie! You gotta check it out." Star Wars nerdery, as described earlier, would emerge in full force. In addition to quote-wars, whenever we'd watch the movies we'd try to say the lines; I'd miss most of them but he'd nail almost all of them, explained that he had it on tape when he was younger and would listen to it at night over and over.

    Soundtrack: Kraftwerk (constant backdrop whenever we were in front of machines), Front242, Laurie Anderson, Sky Cries Mary, Jethro Tull, Skinny Puppy, CLockDVA. Going to a tiny record store with him & Missy in Flagstaff, seeing & hearing sll sorts of things I'd never been exposed to before.

    Lots of time spent discussing philosophy. He loved to debate, and I almost always took the opposing view (sometimes to his delight, sometimes annoyance :)

    Arguing over which was the better modem, the USR Courier or the AppleCat. (It came down to what your priorities were..) Racing tone-loc + his courier against some code I'd written for the AppleCat.

    Lots of long hours gently exploring the growing Internet.

    Their cats: Gandalf, Merlin, Priscilla, and Spooky. Around 2 or 3 am the shy little cat Spooky would come out briefly, sit on his lap, and Michael would sing to him: "love is kinda crazy with a spooky little boy like you".

    Him loaning me tons of gear, sound cards, RAM, hard drives, stereo equipment. He even loaned me his treasured USR Courier "skateboard" modem, complete with a little skull sticker attached to the front, between the LEDs.

    Him telling me about growing up in Baltimore and moving to Arizona, and the strange things that he'd seen.

    Smoking clove cigarettes. followed by coughing fits. Repeat. Clove smell lingering in my clothes.

    Walking in the woods outside his place at night, smoking, talking.

    Lake Mary Road at night, Milky Way high and bright, walking, talking softly, watching for UFOs & seeing shooting stars.

  17. I used to work at AGCS where Michael used to work. It is there that I met him. We wheeled together a few times after that. I remember walking into his cubicle (which was filled with alien creatures) and, in a low and muffled voice, he said "a sphincter says what". Of course, I didn't quite hear what he said so I said, "What?" Michael just laughed. Once I figured out what he said, I could only laugh too.

  18. I worked with Michael for awhile, and during this time, I grew to consider him a very close friend. Michael taught me a great many things in the short time that I knew him, not just about work related things, but about life in general. He was a true genius. He was one of my mentors, and he was a loyal, honest, and caring friend. Not a day has gone by that I have not thought about him. I miss him dearly, and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to know him. Every moment I shared with "The Green Machine" was an honor and a privilege.

  19. Thinking about Michael today, his little doll, his friendship. He came to a Superbowl party with us once. He was really nervous. Everyone liked him but he was just not comfortable, like a little kid. My wife cut her finger and we had to take her to urgent care. Michael was left with everyone and I think he was OK. When we came back though, I could see him visibly relax. He was just a big kid.