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August 19th, 2002

slumming around SF

I slept too late this morning, I guess I am still in "vacation mode". I watched a movie I happened to stumble on while flipping channels, and then had a late breakfast at a neat-o San Francisco diner that Kate and I ate at once. Good bacon and eggs, and old-fashioned good-but-cranky service.

I spent some time in the conference Unix lab this afternoon, in case they needed me for something, but my major contribution was writing a fake front-end for the Unix "uname" command such that it would pretend to be a different version of the OS than was actually installed. A woman from Tivoli Systems was trying to install something for her demo and the installer would stop dead when the version check failed. She insisted all we had to do was make it look like the OS version was different and we'd have no problems, but I dunno... the lab machines are an entire major version ahead of what her installer "wants."

I forget how unpleasantly geeky people at this big mainframe conference are. They're used to bragging about their big mainframes, and that kind of bragging doesn't sit too well with small-and-free-is-good Unix heads. Or networking people, really: the woman just couldn't SHUT UP about how BIG her software was, oh look it's taking fifteen minutes just to untar itself, good thing this network is 100 megabits because whoo, boy, I'm sure using every last bit of it just to COPY OVER this HUUUUUGE software of mine. It struck me that she might be male-identified, and when I told Kate that on the phone, she responded by completely nailing this woman's demographic, which kind of creeped me out. But Kate's right: a younger woman would have been more comfortable in our male-dominated field and wouldn't be so defensive and insecure.

Dinner was free food and lots of free beer at a kickoff reception. Conversation was okay, I sat with some other higher-ed people and tried to get ideas about how one gets a job in my field (I really have no clue, having spent the great bulk of my career in one place). I intended to go to bed at the late hour of 11:30pm since I was already kind of drunk, but my friend Bob invited me over to his favorite Irish pub across the street, and I had yet another drink.

I came back to the lab to nail the night's hacked campus machines, an unpleasant and tedious yet vaguely satisfying task of mine, and now I really AM tired (and still drunk), so I'm about to call it a night.

It dawns on me that I've been silent about my visit to Seattle and Kate. I COULD say quite a bit about it, but Kate covered most of the bullet points, and as she also pointed out, a lot of what we did and talked about isn't really sharable.

I read with some sadness Becca's entry, in which she's afraid of maintaining our friendship at a distance. It makes me sad too, as used to hanging around a lot as we've become. But it's too good a thing for me to let go of very easily, so I hope she'll also make an extra effort to stay connected and best friends. Good relationships like this are too precious to let go of easily.

And if Kate and I can maintain a good connection in our marriage from two thousand miles apart, it seems like Becca and I can maintain a good connection in our friendship from only 50 miles apart. Have faith, sweetie.

on real city newspapers and San Francisco

So this is a pretty nice hotel, and I get a local copy of the San Francisco Chronicle outside my room every morning.

The Sunday magazine had THREE crossword puzzles! And there were TWO of the 15x15 "daily-size" puzzles in this morning's edition! I did one of them while eating breakfast at a place advertising "best breakfast in San Francisco" (it was fine, but I certainly wouldn't go that far), and the second in my room before heading down to the conference.

And why can't the rest of the country have columnists like Jon Carroll?

The news seems more interesting and somewhat less biased than, say, cnn.com, my usual news source. It kind of makes me want to subscribe to, say, the Chicago Tribune. But in my daily life I rarely have time to actually read the paper. It dawns on me that web news is as bad as TV "headline" news for sound-bite, biased, sensationalist news for the lazy.

It's chilly here. I didn't pack enough long-sleeve shirts, but I'm surviving on layers and my jacket. My friend Diana had to go shopping, since she, being a highly-paid executive, has to dress the part, so came with only skirts and dresses--little ones, because it's summer, no? She also showed up at the reception last night in a brand new pair of shoes, saying that all she'd brought were sandals. I dunno, though, I've been wearing my sandals and been quite comfy. It's not THAT cold here.

San Francisco fog is really quite captivating. It results in the same low-cloud, drab, gray environment that makes Seattle so depressing, but there's something magical about how it rolls in and out, and gathers in valleys, and obscures the hills. Whatever it is, it doesn't seem drab and gray.

Wonder where I'll have dinner tonight? I have to speak at 8am tomorrow, so I shouldn't make it too late a night.



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