It took me quite a period of staring at the blank text editor window to begin this JE. Usually when I meet another Slashdotter I rely on humor as a framework for expressing my experience. My visit with Sam gave me plenty of material with which to work. There was a personal meat-space context around someone in our personal spheres trying to protect one of us from the other because of the "dangers of the internets." There was the overall "man-date" tenor of our encounters. There were belongings left behind, flight plans changed, et al. Lots of rich material.
But, as I sat here repeatedly watching the screen on my iBook go dim, I realized that it didn't feel authentic to me to express my impression of Sam in meat-space with humor. There was something more genuine about meeting him, something I wanted to respect by using a more direct approach for self-expression.
If I were to try to explain Sam's persona in the Circle I'd have to say he's Mr. Congeniality. He's the guy everyone likes. Sam's views on contentious issues like politics and religion are remarkably similar to my own. Yet, I've managed to alienate quite a few people in the Circle who have not been alienated by Sam even though we've both given our opinions a rather high-profile voice from time to time in the Circle. Normally, I would attribute such a disparity in popularity in meat-space to the fact that Sam is a hottie and I'm morbidly obese, but that doesn't matter (as much) in the Circle.
Sam is every bit as genuine and beautiful a soul in person as he reflects here in the Circle. He is warm, funny, calm, content, present, compassionate, genuine and empathetic. He expresses these virtues with a complete absence of pretense or conceit. He is honest about his shortcomings yet gentle with himself. He has a commitment to his own well-being that would heal the world if more people practiced it. Despite the diligent practice of all these virtues, he's not some kind of tiresome aspirant to sainthood. There exist people and situations which piss him off. He acknowledges genuine dissatisfactions in his life. In sum, he's just real and present when he's with you.
On Friday, we enjoyed an exhibit of modern Art by Colorado artists at the Foothills Center in Golden, then we had a couple of drinks at a Golden Restaurant. On Saturday we got really high by driving to the top of Mount Evans, 14,260 ft, and then he took me on the tour of his personal history in Evergreen and topped a beautiful day off by my having an opportunity to buy his Dad a Margarita at a nice pub in Evergreen.
If there is an exception needed to prove the rule that people misrepresent themselves online, Sam is it. You already know him better than you think you do.