William J Simonsick, Jr   Leave a comment

I was forwarding a job advert to a bunch of people for a postdoc position here in the lab and Bill Simonsick’s email bounced back. I did a search for an updated email and eventually stumbled across this FaceSpace Memorial Page. Awww, shit.

 

Some people I meet think I must be immortal for having survived far more trauma far too frequently to generally be believed; but, I could give you endless stories about how I found Bill indestructible. That makes his passing that much more unnerving … if he can die, where does that leave the rest of us?  Instead, I just have this for you:

In 1997, my PhD adviser took the research group to present their work at the ASMS Conference in Palm Springs. He left the flight bookings to me and the senior PhD student at the time and we found flights into Las Vegas the day before and the day after, rooms at Circus Circus for each of those bookend days, and a rental van for the week for less than other travel options.

As a result of these travel choices, I was standing in front of my poster on no sleep for the previous 3 days with some Chinese graduate student who misunderstood everything on the publication and babbling incoherent questions. I was on my best behaviour and patiently trying to explain that he had his head up his ass without saying it explicitly.

 

 

Across the herd of suits and ties and slightly more casual business attire I spotted a guy in flip-flops, dripping Bermuda shorts, a ragged tank top covered in the most rudimentary fashion with a Hawaiian shirt, and a couple of gigantic glasses of rum and Cokes — not highballs, but short and very wide diameter, wading pools of liquor. He spotted me at about the same time and ambled over in an idiosyncratic walk I would become very familiar with over the next 10 years or so.

He stepped in front of my inquisitor and, over his shoulder, said, “you can fuck off now. We’ve got shit to talk about.” Then, to me, he handed the drink in his right hand and then shook mine; “I’m Bill. Your boss told me you had some cool shit to see.” I was now madly in love with this man.

He reached for his extra beverage and I pivoted on my hips to protect my newly found refreshments.  “The fuck you call this? No backsies, bitch.”  I had assumed this glass was meant for me, anyway, because the other one had a little umbrella in it and, since I was “working” I needed the more professional looking vat of booze.

His grin at this was enormous. “Tell me what you got, here,” he demanded, pointing at my work (such as it was).  I started to go through the practiced presentation and he stopped me. “No. TELL me about it.” The resulting conversation swerved recklessly across a wide range of things we could do with small tweaks to the techniques we could each bring to the table.  Along the way, others tried to speak to one or the other of us and — if they met his criteria — he would include them for a while. At one point, he sent a student — who was working security at the conference and had told us we couldn’t be drinking in there — to get us refills; these appeared without charge about five minutes later.

“We should do more of this,” he suggested. “I’ll meet you in the hot tub after the Hospitality Suites close.” Over the next several years, I got most of my good ideas smoking and drinking in ASMS Convention hot tubs with our Bill.

Rest in peace, buddy.

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Posted June 22, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Obits, work

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