Re: [stella] Jim Nitchals

Subject: Re: [stella] Jim Nitchals
From: Glenn Saunders <cybpunks@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2001 00:08:24 -0800
At 01:18 AM 3/17/2001 -0500, you wrote:
According to a Wired story around that time, it was a sudden brain
hemorrhage.  I looked it up to make sure when this thread began.  I didn't
get the impression that they knew the cause.

I think that the family just wanted to keep things simple and not give a lengthy backstory of Jim's problems.

I have old email someplace from some months before Jim died where he hints at his medical problems. He said something like "if you only knew the pain I have to deal with in my life".

But the most troublesome thing was when I was heading up to shoot at Nolan's place and Jim declined the invitation to be there with me. I had always expected him to be with me there at the shoot as the real payoff for his contribution to the project. I met him at his house so he could give me the 2600 cake and I can say with some authority that he didn't look that healthy. He had a yellowish complexion, like jaundice.

Now I know overweight people aren't the healthiest in the world, but I never thought it would be life threatening to him. I really don't know whether his weight problems caused his other problems or vice versa... nevertheless, it would be unfair to say that his death was sudden and unexpected.

He was pretty private about the reason behind him not seeing Nolan. I thought at first maybe he was just too shy. Computer nerds tend to be that way, of course! I really grilled him about the Nolan shoot because I got him on the phone with Nolan and he said he could come up there anytime to hang out and I really never understood why Jim never took him up on this once and a lifetime offer. Mind you this is long before CG Expo where people started taking these guys' accessibility for granted... He chose to remain silent about why he wouldn't go up there, which was unusual for him.

Then after a while he just didn't answer my emails anymore. Maybe he was too busy with the spamming crusade, or already at the hospital undergoing treatment.

As I best recall, his widow told me that he was in the hospital for some time before the end came.

While the spamming incident may have pushed him over the edge, I really don't think it caused his death anymore than a heat wave causes the elderly to die of heat stroke. Jim was ill and even in a best case scenario I'm not sure whether he would have made it. I admire Jim for everything he accomplished, but I don't think he'd want to be seen as a martyr. He was always a humble guy.

And really, I think he deserves a lot of credit for this community here on Stellalist. In all deference to Bob Colbert, Jim was the one who first figured out how the Supercharger worked and remastered the tapes, and saved all the sourcecode from Steve Hales' Apple II floppies. He turned my desire to do a CD into a reality, both technically, and financially. Then went on to financially bail out the shooting of Stella at 20 just because he felt it needed to be done.

I never would have fought for years to finish those videos had I not always remembered Jim's sacrifices for that footage. I still feel bad that he never got to see the raw footage before he died... That was pure laziness on my part.

As for Jim's old code, I'm assuming that Steve Hales still has it under lock and key. He knows I'm interested in sifting through it, but I'm not in a rush to do so. It involves an expensive trip up to northern california and I'm not really in a position to do that.

The last piece of Jim's legacy that was salvaged was the leftover color covers/inserts from the original CD which, thankfully, his widow held onto. They are now a part of the reissue CD.

If someone else lives near Livermore, let me know. Maybe we can arrange for you to rummage through his stuff. I think most of Jim's stuff is on CDR backups, and he did his development on a PowerMac.

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