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July 4th Part 1 - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Jul. 10th, 2003

12:43 am - July 4th Part 1

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So before the rains ruined all my plans for today I started on a write up of my end of the Fourth of July Festivities. It's epic. I won't finish. So I'll give it in installments. Here's Wednesday and Thursday (part I).

I need more vacations like this one. I need them often. Hanging out with friends is What It Is All About.

Wednesday - Since I decided to take Thursday off this was the last day of work for me before the vacation. As soon as 5pm rolled around I felt this great weight lifted. Instantly I was more awake, more comfortable. My brain was working better. The fog was gone. I felt good. So I went to the IMC for an evening of routine meetings. I had big plans after the meetings to get a bunch of little stuff done before my vacation but then Sascha wooed me over to the Embassy for the weekly drinking and bullshitting with the neighbors thang (which I rarely go to). And as always it was GREAT. Sure The Asshole showed up and I even had to talk to him for a little bit but he mostly kept to himself and we got to whisper under our breaths to each other about how much we hate him. This guy carries his guitar with him everywhere he goes even though he has alienated everyone so much that he never has gigs anymore. The running gag under our breaths was that he keeps his ego in his guitar case and that actually the guitar case can grow arbitrarily large.

We talked a LOT about the wireless project that night with a bunch of extremely non-technical (but extremely smart and fun to talk to) people. Dave and I were trying to come to a mutual understanding of some obscure protocol details and the non-techs (one of whom calls us "The Node Boys" and I could have sworn she was saying "Gnome Boys") kept asking us questions and so I came up with this analogy for the problem that I ended up repeating about 10 times throughout the night, much to Dave's probable annoyance (as it turned a 10 minute attempt to summarize a technical problem into 3 hours of starting over and retelling the analogy story to each new person whose ears would perk up at our strange discussion).

Imagine a bar so full of people that no one could move. Certain people in the bar want to talk to other people in the bar but unless people are in earshot of each other in this noisy bar they can't talk to each other so instead in order to talk to Bob who is way across on the other side of the bar Alice has to talk to one of her neighbors and say "hey can you get this message to Bob?". The message is then passed from person to person until it hopefully gets to Bob. So somehow every person in the room has to find out who else is in the room and who can hear who so they can each build their own map of which neighbor it makes sense to pass a message along to in order to efficiently get it across the room to the person it is intended for. It is important to know if people have left the room so that messages for them get dropped rather than continually passed around. Sometimes people leave the room and say goodbye. But other times space aliens take them away. Othertimes everyone is talking so loud around a person that no one realizes that person is still there because s/he can't get a word in edgewise. (Everyone is wearing blindfolds, hearing is the only sense they have). The nature of everyone's ability to talk is such that if people around a person are talking too loudly to each other than that person can't talk. If two people are talking to one person at the same time then that person can't hear either of them. So everyone has to take turns talking but there is no moderator in the room to tell them when to talk, they have to find a way to agree amongst themselves. When everyone walked into the room they were given a sheet of instructions about how to have this conversation. Everyone got the exact same instructions, the only difference between each person if that they all have different names. It is the job of the programmers (Dave and I) to write that sheet of instructions.


Anyway I went home pretty late and ended up doing none of the things I thought I'd do that night (make and distribute posters, send emails, respond to emails, etc). I'd do it the next day. When I got home I ended up being online until VERY LATE chatting and playing Othello with duck2ducks and spillshercoffee and others.

Thursday - Even though I had stuff to do I figured it made sense to sleep in on my day off. I woke up around noon and puttered around a lot. Time just kept passing and one by one I eliminated things that I definitely had to get done that day before I left. I thought maybe I'd take a later train but nope sold out. So Eventually I succumbed to doing nothing and considering my vacation as having truly started (no responsibility until Monday) and I got a ride to the 4pm bus and was on my way.

I read Ecotopia on the bus and napped. It was the first Greyhound ride I've had through the Chicago construction where I didn't wake up with the feeling that the bus was going to crash and we were all going to die.

The bus was about 25 minutes late and I was really worried that Don was sitting there not knowing where I was all that time but it turns out he was exactly as late as I was. He pulled up in front of the bus station as I walked out of the terminal.

Tomorrow: The Chicago Chapter. Later: The Return to Champaign Chapter.

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