Jack's Place

"Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay."

John Robert Porterfield was born on Wednesday, September 23rd, 1959, in the Klingenstein Pavilion of Mt. Sinai Hospital on 5th Avenue in New York City. He wnet to preschool at the Downtown Community School in New York. When he was 7, he moved with his parents to Scarsdale, which he disliked intensely. When he was 9, he went with his parents to see the original Broadway production of Hair, which he loved, especially the final all-nude production number.

He graduated from high school at 16, and spent a year at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He didn't like Johns Hopkins, and transferred to Hampshire College in Massachusetts. After one year at Hampshire and four years at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he graduated with a combined B.S. and Ph.D. in Neurophysiology. Hating winter and dreaming of Hollywood and beach blondes, he then headed for California as quickly as possible.

Jack first hoped to live in Los Angeles, but turned down a defense job there and spent $20 of his last $60 to go to the Universal Studios theme park. He wound up in the San Francisco Bay Area, as the 20th engineer hired at Sun Microsystems. At 24, he met and married his only wife, Natasha; the marriage lasted 5 years. He was still at Sun when they went public, and quit with a tidy chunk of stock in his pocket.

Over the next few years, he worked at Micronics (which also went public during his tenure there, providing him with another small fortune), at Atherton Software, and tried once or twice in between to start his own consulting companies. At about 31, he figured he had enough money to retire for a couple of years. During that time, he travelled extensively, gave up smoking pot for a year, and spent a lot of time playing piano, finishing a novel (Start-Up) and doing jigsaw puzzles in his barely-furnished 4-bedroom house in Fremont. Following a particularly bad experience with kitchen remodelling, he moved to San Francisco with his then-girlfriend.

Figuring that he did not have enough money at that point to retire permanently, he started a new business, built around a big new software invention idea that he'd conceived. He named this new company Friendware, and hired several of his oldest friends, and several new people, to work in it. Unfortunately, the money ran out well before the software was finished, personnel dwindled, customers failed to materialize, and Jack fell ill with lipomas in his head and abdomen. By the time he'd recovered, the business had essentially failed, although he strove to revive it until shortly before his death.

Plagued by demons of the mind, between girlfriends, burdened with debt, unable to face the prospect of bankruptcy, and incapable of envisioning any brighter prospect for his future, Jack checked out on Thursday, February 12th, 2004, at his apartment on Pierce Street near Geary Boulevard in San Francisco. He left behind few relatives, but many friends and former loves who miss him deeply, and mourn his untimely exit.

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