Sunday, November 02, 2014

Mike Bucken 1952-2014

Want to pay some tribute to Mike Bucken, ComputerWorld News Editor and my long-time editor, who died last Saturday. We worked very closely together in various stops over ten years (Mike hired me three times! A forgiving soul!) and become very good friends. Mike Bucken was as real as it gets, with no frills. 
We had great days together on Software Magazine and Application Development Trends. We both went together when the ADT gig was ended. Work on time, then lunch. Work away. At end of day, bluegrasss music to sign that it was 5pm. He used to always bring a lunch in cloth lunch bag, and open up the Wall Street Journal, a whitebread sandwich and a Tab, but that lunch bag could have been a lunch bucket, because there was something about him to me that was "Working Man." And proud of it. That he was a great family man was for certain, but, you know, he took our workplace - we put out some very good magazines - he took our workplace and made a family of us. That’s a feeling we've carried with us and will continue to. Much of that old crowd is still connected.
As editor he called for integrity, accuracy and to be on-time; almost always without drama, and never with ego. He gave lots of us chances we never otherwise would have had to explore and to be creative. For me that meant I could build a web site, I could do a column in iambic pentameter; I could include my trip to the Grand Old Opry museum when I wrote a column about an IBM event in Nashville. I'd show it to him, thinking he'd say, no, or change it. He'd say "I like it." I like to imagine outloud – which puts people of, trust me. Not Mike. He embraced it.
He was not perfect. He would lose patience with long conversation. You knew because he plucked at his ear with his forefingers. He'd even get mad. You knew because he would start pinching the bridge of his nose. If you get what I am saying: He'd change the course of discussions almost transparently.
The feel for Country music, something we shared, was part of the no frills down to earth person that he was. He liked the full spectrum of country including outliers. Something you may not know is that his favorite band was "Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen."
I have been thinking about a song he might have known and liked. "Nine Pound Hammer". It's about working. Chipping away the stone. He was an athlete. I can see him wield a nine pound hammer. The song says "This nine-pound hammer is getting kind of heavy for my size." It ends with the phrase I'll end with here. "Roll on buddy, don’t you roll too slow. How can I move if the wheel wont roll?"

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