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Archive for January, 2008

I made a thoroughly unpleasant first visit to Boston today. You know, I was totally predisposed to like the place, too. I loved the accents in Good Will Hunting. My college buddy’s girlfriend who visited from Harvard was awesome. Just their stand on Pop vs. Soda vs Tawnick is sweet.

The problem is, the roads suck. In trying to get to the Taipei Economic Office, I spent hours drivingriding around and around, never more than a couple of miles away, and yet not being able to find the @#$@!* place until after they had closed at 4:30. A nice grid, like Toronto, would have been ideal. I could have managed a diagonally aligned street system like Denver‘s, though. Any system would have been nice. Boston doesn’t seem to have one, though. It’s almost as if the layout was designed by a bunch of drunkards pushing oxcarts around. Oh wait. It was.

Beyond the general madness of its design, of course it’s a pain in the ass just by virtue of being big. It’s filled with one way streets, pedestrian only streets, the parking sucks, and it’s freezing. With the subway and all, I’m sure it’s a nice place to explore on foot in the summer, but I didn’t make it to the Taiwanese “embassy” until 4:45, at which time they were already closed. That means borrowing Sonia’s car and making another 3 hour trip back there tomorrow.

What a long trip! I went to the airport in Taiwan at 4:30AM, flew to Hong Kong, took another plane to Newark, flew from there to Boston, and then finally rode a 3 hour bus to get to the Dartmouth campus.

Hong Kong Airport

This was the first time I’ve ever gone through Hong Kong. That was interesting. People’s Mandarin sounded a little bit different that what I was used to, and so did their English. Despite being a primarily Cantonese speaking population, I didn’t meet a single person in the airport who couldn’t speak Mandarin, and English skills were bit more widespread than what you’d find in the airport in Taiwan, too. Also, it was interesting to see simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese signage peacefully coexisting all over the place. It’s not that signs had both, necessarily. Some signs were in traditional and other completely different signs were in simplified… even inside the same bathroom.


This is the first time I’ve ever seen TSA or Homeland Security officers to the best of my knowledge. Contrary to what I’ve read on the internet, they were very polite. I didn’t see any tasings, hear any officials screaming at random people or see any mothers forced to drink from their babies’ bottles, either. In fact, the Homeland Security I interacted with were the most courteous security guys I can ever recall dealing with. There must have been some kind of sensitivity training.


I showed up at 10pm, utterly exhausted, and Sonia picked me up at the bus stop. I was delighted to see snow and the natural beauty of the trees and hills all around me.

Tonight TC came over to my place to pick up some of his stuff that had been left at my apartment since long before I moved in there myself. He had a tripod, and some random other filming stuff to take, and I also gave returned all the books he’d lent me over the last couple of years. That was my mistake.

Somehow, we stumble across an extra copy of Crytonomicon, which I am currently in the process of reading. He picks it up, thumbs through it and says, “Geez, it’s all in the simple present tense!”.

“What could he be talking about?” I say to myself. I pick up the book and look at a random paragraph. I turn the page. I look at another. Then the realization sinks in… Neil Stephenson writes vast tracts of text entirely in the simple present tense. I try to read another page. It bothers me. It sucks.

TC ruins Neil Stephenson.

Matt has republished some of our best iDrone posts:

Writing an accumulator generating function in Ruby (Mark Wilbur)
Thoughts on the Subset Sum Problem (Matt Ball)
On Google’s Evilness (John Pasden)
The Perfect Programming Language (Matt Ball)

We had some serious geekery going there while it lasted.

Here’s the post-2007 update for my portfolio. All the quotes are from the close of December 31, 2007. As usual, I’m not posting my IRA investments.
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