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October 15, 2001
a year ago
three years ago
four years ago

Meeting Old Friends

Both John and I are coming down with the cold. Both of us are pretty trashed, tired-wise, from taking care of Jet this last weekend, and with all the ups and crying and staying up to get him to sleep. But the napping during the weekend helped some, and while we're both pretty tired and out of it, we did get the gumption up to go into Boulder this evening when Ken and Gabrielle called.

They were in their jet, and gave us an ETA of about 5:30, so we said that we'd meet them at their hotel at 7. I had a CeLena appointment at 5-6 and I'm never out of there until 6:15 or even sometimes I'm not home until 6:30, so it gave us a little time, and it gave them time to get from the JeffCo airport to their hotel. Our little air park didn't have quite enough runway for their jet, and it's definitely further from the west side of Boulder.

They'd actually told us they were coming a couple weeks ago, but after the interminable weekend, we'd both forgotten about it completely. Oops. But with instant communication via cell phones we figured out The Plan, and when our brains were too tired after a work day with a cold, we just executed The Plan instead of doing any fancy deviations or curlicues about it.

Jet had had a pretty long day already by the time we tucked him into the Baby Buggy and took him out west of Boulder, up the looping and curving Canyon Road, up into the foothills just west of the city. We got into the driveway of the hotel and John went in to get them, as Jet was sleeping away peacefully in his seat, he got a good half hour nap going out there, and when they came to the car, tired from their day as well, they hopped in and we drove into Boulder for some simple food. John and I had decided, earlier, while we could still think, that the Walnut Brewery would be just a fine place to be. They have good beers, good, hearty food, and plenty of ambiance.

So we took them there, and we got seats quickly, and we all settled at the table. Jet had woken up after they'd gotten into the car, and he studied them quietly. I then took him to the bathroom to change him, and he was cheerful. He decided to serenade the stalls while I changed him and he was bouncy and comfortable in a dry diaper when I brought him back. He settled into his high chair and ate his food, and watched us and talked while we weren't talking and it was cool.

It was great to get back into contact with Ken and Gab. It'd been more than a decade, and they are pretty much still the people we knew back at Caltech, just grown up, with a lot more cool experiences, but still with the same sense of humor, steady and solid hearts, and fun attitude about life and how problems should be tackled.

I've always maintained that at Caltech, we never memorized huge amounts about our specialties. The really big emphasis at Tech was How To Solve Problems. How to first figure out what the problem is and then tackle the problem with everything you have, including friends, other minds, and all the cool things about cooperative ventures. I realize, now, that that is something of why I get so damned frustrated with engineers who propose solutions (i.e. implementations) without a solid understanding or even any questioning of what the problem is that they're solving. How can you solve it if you don't know all there is to know about it?

It was fun to get asked 'What *is* the infield fly rule?' and 'What will keep more fizz in half a bottle of pop, being stored warm or cold?' And to have the answers not matter so much as the discussion that resulted from the question.

They were mildly bemused by Jet, too. Though they do have a nephew a bit older, and Ken was impressed at how well Jet was doing this late at night. It is a whole different problem set. It was fun to feed Jet, and then have Jet eat some French fries on his own and throw a bunch more of them on the floor.

One really cool thing is that they have a house a bit aways from Santa Cruz, with a whole guest suite built away from the main house, so we could bring Jet along with us and stay there and not bother them in the least at night, when Jet wakes up. So we'll have a place to stay in the Bay Area, if we want to visit people. That would be really, really cool. It would be really nice to see their digs as well. They also keep in pretty close contact with other folks that we knew at Tech, two of which also have kids now. Amusingly enough all those kids are half Asian and half white American as well, so Jet'll have some kids of his 'own kind' to hang out with for a bit.

When we finally had to say good-bye, John gave 'em both a hug. He won't be able to see them tomorrow, but they're going to come by and actually see where it is we live, on their way back to their plane. So that should be fun. It's likely we'll see more of them as life goes on, anyway, so that's cool.

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Copyright 2001 Liralen Li. All Rights Reserved.