I opened the newspaper one recent morning to find an obituary of a good friend. It was not a good way to start the day.
From 1996 to 1999 Don Nivling and I worked together providing audio/visual services in a local hotel conference facility. We became close friends and we stayed in touch. In 1999 he ditched the rat race and became self-employed as "Captain Connector," a superhero to Monterey Peninsula residents who needed help setting up and learning how to use today's modern home entertainment equipment.
Don looked and sounded like a cross between Rodney Dangerfield and a reformed hippie. But what I enjoyed most was his intricate cultural knowledge spanning everything from 1970s exploitation horror movies to the finer points of classical music.
Don taught me how to set up a champagne quality home theater on a beer budget (his words). He was a master of employing used electronic equipment that others had tossed aside for assembling thundering home entertainment systems that rivaled major concert halls.
At one point Don had a record collection that put most radio stations to shame, and he loved to play every sort of music. He loved the album art as much as the music inside.
He and I shared an interest in model trains, but when he realized he wouldn't ever have time or space to set up a proper layout, he turned over much of what he had acquired to supplement my modest in-home railroad.
A mutual friend, our former boss actually, wrote to me a few days ago and said "He was good people." Don had a heart of gold.
Curiously, the night before I discovered his obituary, I thought of Don, recalling our daily routine of going over the day's events as I was coming in to work and he was ready to "blast off." It wasn't the first time that some happy memory of a friend came to mind just before I learned they were gone.
Captain Connector blasted off for the last time on January 19th. A new star was placed into the sky that night.
Here is a link to Don Nivling's obituary.