Departures: Sailing: Northwest by Sail and Rail: Part F

In which we explore the question: What's the opposite of "start-up company"?... Piaw's log begins, with cameos by Scarlet and Lea... Przemek at the Jitterbug... A form of travel less efficient than a jetliner...

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Bothell (A Seattle Suburb) 1998 Jul 31 Friday

Back at Joon's house (you remember--the one I wanted to visit) the newspaper was no longer on the ground outside. I knocked, and was admitted. Joon looked at me quizically--he'd been home when I tried knocking before. The knocker just hadn't been loud enough. I knew better than to try to strangle Joon when he said this--Joon can do one-handed push-ups, and could literally have fended one of my wimpy murder attempts off with one hand tied behind his back. Also present were Joon's wife Soojeong and their new daugher, Hellen. I didn't talk with them so much. Also visiting were Ron (back from his trip to Dallas), and two Geoworkers from company HQ. We sat around discussing what a sucky place to work Geoworks had turned out to be. I talked to the Geoworkers, trying to convince them that they really wanted to come to Berkeley to join a spin-off. They talked about another Geoworks-orbit company they were looking at joining. We sat in a ring on the rug, playing with the baby while talking about business plans, stock options, contracting rates, and markets.

It occurred to me that a couple of years ago, I didn't have many contacts at other companies. Now that Geoworks was self-destructing, I knew people at all sorts of other companies. If I needed to find work elsewhere, I'd have lots of leads. "These problems have a way of taking care of themselves," I thought.

Piaw Hits Town

Seattle Airport
Although I haven't formally introduced him into this narrative yet, Piaw was the skipper for the sailing part of this trip. He took good notes, so I stole them and wove them into this travelog.

So that you won't get us mixed up, I'll be sure to put a "Piaw writes:" before each of his sections and I'll try to give some other visual clues, too.

You might want to pay extra attention when he talks about "Scarlet" (a.k.a. "her"), "Larry" (a.k.a. me), and "Lea," because they formed the rest of the crew of the sailboat.

Piaw writes:

The plane was half an hour late. Normally, I wouldn't care---planes are like buses, they're always late anyway. But the plane was due to arrive at 8:40, I hadn't had dinner, and I was hungry as hell. Stepping out into the Seattle airport, searching the sea of faces for her. No one. Oh well, to the baggage claim I go, and then I see her. We beam at each other and hug. How are you doing? Oh, I always forget how good a friend she is. Ever since we met in 1995, first on the net, and then in Scotland, we had been in touch, and have even made a long tour together with Radek. We go to dinner and bitch about our respective problems.

Ron drove me back to Nancy and Cedric's. Ron talked about his experience at his new job at Sometimes he was on call--if one of the inventory programs failed, Ron would get a page. Maybe at 2:00am, when one of the more complicated scripts ran. Along with this, he was supposed to continue to develop new software at a blistering pace. He was complaining to his manager, saying that he couldn't do both. At the same time, his stock was growing in value rapidly, so he didn't want to rock the boat. I tried to figure out how much money it would take to motivate me to wear a pager that might summon me to a broken computer at 2:00am. I wished Ron luck.

All Work and No Planes Makes Jack a Dull Boy

Seattle 1998 Aug 01 Saturday
Piaw writes:

In the morning, I try to gather a crowd for lunch. It's been more than a year since I last was in Seattle, and this is my last chance to see most of them, as I don't really expect to have the energy to see them after the sailing trip, and the last lunch before my flight was already pre-booked. I call various people in rotation, and eventually get through to some of them. Carol, Peter, and Przemek all agree to meet at the Jitterbug for a brunch. I had to call Larry at his cousin's place, to tell him to drop by at 4:30, and Scarlet eventually succeeded in reaching Lea to ask her to meet us for breakfast to decide on provisioning.

We arrive a little early, but Peter was already there. His Dad was visiting so he couldn't stay, and we talked a bit. Peter now has a girlfriend, Nina, who was the National Track pursuit champion. A good match for Peter. Peter had taken a break from racing, however, since when he stopped racing he decided he didn't miss it. Maybe it's just as well, since his NSF fellowship was running out, and he was looking to get out of graduate school as soon as he could, a good idea under any circumstances. Peter looked really good, though, and seemed very pleased.

Peter left, and while waiting for others, Lea, Scarlet and I talked about provisioning. Or rather, Lea and Scarlet talked about provisioning and I kibitzed. I'm not much qualified to talk about provisioning, but the plan looked good to me. You always end up with too much food, but as someone once said, if you ate everything you brought, you didn't bring enough.

Then Carol showed up, looking good and spiffy. She seemed to be enjoying her new job. Carol and I used to be roommates back in 1991, along with Debbie. I was the nerd, Debbie was the business woman, and Carol was the laid back one who always did papers at the last minute and got straight As. Which meant that Carol was smarter than any of us. But she was one of the few roommates I kept in touch with over the years, and worked in the public sector, which meant that she and Scarlet knew people in common. Przemek was my classmate from graduate school, and he looked like he was doing well too, though he seemed a bit sensitive when I asked him when he was going to graduate. "One does not ask a fifth year student when he's going to be finished. He's always so close and yet so far." There but the grace of God, go I.

Brunch was pleasant, with the sort of bantering and cheerful noise-making once expects from old friends, except that while everyone at lunch knew me, they didn't know each other. Yet there weren't the sort of awkward silences that one might expect. I was pleased. Every time I visit Seattle and see these few people I find myself thinking, "I need to visit more often."

Nancy and Cedric and I went to the Museum of FlightTM. Its name is trademarked. I guess that means there won't be that many other Musea of Flight popping up any time soon. We took the tour, seeing an early Boeing factory and many unusual aircraft.

One spy plane was designed to be able to fly extrememly fast, faster than any anti-aircraft missles that might chase it. It flew so fast that its engineers had to plan on the passing air heating the plane up. In fact, it was expected that the pieces of the plane would expand with heat. In fact, when the plane wasn't super-hot, its fuel tank would leak. A lot. I decided that jet airliners weren't so fuel-inefficient after all, and decided to use them for my travelling needs from then on. Nancy looked around at all the planes. "Maybe you engineering types are into planes," she said, "but us bio types like zoos, arboretums." I blinked. Was I into planes? I liked flying. Did that count?

I'm not good at postcards. As you've figured out by now, I'm wordy, not good at fitting my thoughts into just a few square inches. Still, a couple of my friends had been hinting at me about postcards . And here I was at a tourist site. Sure enough, there were postcards for sale. In fact, they had something better than that--they had blank greeting cards, with lots of writing area. Back at the house, I wrote notes in the cards. I didn't fill either one of them up.

We went out for a bite to eat and a visit to a bike shop. While Nancy and Cedric looked for goo, I picked up some parts I hoped might repair my pump. I was embarrassed when we ran into Patrick, the lab technician. What kind of a geek comes all the way to Seattle from California and ends up in a bike shop?

Piaw writes:

I was sad when it came time to break the party up, but we had things to do. Scarlet took me to see her new love, a Rivendell Road bike she had just bought. It was gorgeous, very pretty, and elegant. We picked out some handlebar tape for it, and asked for the Simplex deraileur to be put on it. A pretty deraileur for a pretty bike. And then back to the house to meet Lea and start provisioning. We visited Trader Joe's. I'd met Lea (for Eleanor) more than a year ago, when I was visiting Scarlet after a business trip. When I'd first arrived at the house, Scarlet was not there, but Lea arrived on a bike soon after I did, and we had a minor little chat. I didn't know much about her, other than that she was a medical student who had done a lot of travel in Africa, but I found her pleasant in my short interaction with her.

Lea's high spirits, though, were infectious. After loading provisions into the car, she grabbed the shopping cart, and skated it, skate-board fashion back to the cart accumulation area. "Whee!" She cried. I looked at Scarlet and said, "This is going to be a great trip!" More shopping, and then back to the house, where we waited for Larry to show up. When he was dropped off by Cedric, we got a good look at Cedric. Cedric's about 6 feet, 11 inches tall. Larry's 6 feet 3 inches. Larry is a great landmark if you're lost and looking to get back with your friends. But Cedric towered over him. Cedric had mentioned the possibility of joining us on this trip, but we really didn't have room for him on a 30 foot boat. Maybe next time, when we get a much larger boat.

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