It is with a heavy, heavy heart that I rejoin you all here. I just got some very bad news from Pushharder: Dr Skeptix, our mutual friend, and a well-known personality here on the forums, has just passed away.
Doc was a very private man, and so I will respect his wish to keep from divulging his name or personal information here on the site, but suffice to say that he was well-known and well-loved in his community, and will be deeply missed.
I met Doc right here on the Politics forum nearly a decade ago. We didn't always agree, particularly when the topic drifted toward religion. He was learned enough to be able to whoop my ass in any theological discussion (usually by invoking an obscure Torah passage in the original Aramaic), but wise and humble enough not to rub my ignorance in my face.
Over the years, our acquaintance grew into a real friendship, and a couple years ago I visited him in person. He was even more charming...and even more acerbically funny, in real life. We shared many martinis (he made the best martinis and margaritas I have ever tasted), many great meals, and many great conversations.
As a result of knowing Doc, I finally met Pushharder and TC.
Shortly before I left for Thailand, Doc was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And not the relatively benign kind like Steve Jobs had. It was adenocarcinoma, the bad kind, that usually kills you within three months.
I suppose here is the appropriate place to mention that Dr Skeptix's moniker was not a mere affectation. He was a real doctor, one of the best I have ever encountered. He was a real-life Gregory House MD, with a gift for oncological diagnostics that bordered on supernatural. And so of course the Universe, in its capriciously ironic way, chose to strike down this good man--whose wisdom and skill had saved the lives of countless people suffering from "incurable" cancers--with a truly incurable cancer.
I bring up Doc's diagnostic skills because I happened to be with him when he read the faxed lab report of his blood test, which he deciphered immediately, coming up with diagnosis and prognosis within a millisecond. I remember thinking that it would be tough to play poker with Doc, because as he read his death sentence, his face was utterly unreadable. I suppose when one has experienced every possible reaction to the worst possible news imaginable, one is better prepared to receive it oneself. Or perhaps not. As I said, I have no idea what was going through my friend's mind.
Adenocarcinoma is usually fatal within three months. Doc lasted five. He diagnosed himself on the 4th of July, and made his final exit on Christmas Day.
His wisdom, his warmth, and his voice will be sorely missed, here and elsewhere.