From: Nathan Loofbourrow (
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 14:02:56 -0400
Subject: Software-House-Five


I have come unstuck in time.

I am travelling to San Jose for some interviews. I am also returning. I am driving around, eating, talking with friends, talking with strangers. I have seen my trip out and my trip back many times, and pay random visits to all the events in between.

I am spastic in time, I have no control over where I am going next, and the trips aren't necessarily fun. Or maybe I just haven't slept in a very long while.

I am driving a rental car. It's an Oldsmobile of some sort. It is a land barge, but it must have V6 or something, because it has some acceleration.

I am eating sushi with Jon and a friend of his from Catapult. Sushi floats by us on little boats. Later, we swap her for Eric and go buy donuts for dessert. Chuq joins us back at Catapult and we talk about coin-op games and assembly language.

It is Friday evening. I am playing find-the-rental-car in the SGI parking lot.

I am at a Mexican restaurant with many CMU folk. It's 8:00 PM, which is 11:00 back in Ohio. Chris has just gotten home from work, so I find a pay phone. It is in the middle of the restaurant attached to a pole. I must stand in a noisy restaurant next to strangers while they eat dinner and talk loudly enough to be heard a thousand miles away. To feel distant from someone I'm close to, I must be intimate with strangers. Um.

Mostly, I haven't paid for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner. Companies are paying for me. Friends are paying for me. Hotels are providing complimentary meals. I should interview more often, even if I already have a job.

The complimentary breakfast at the hotel has two options. There's a big tray of jelly donuts over on one side. On the other is a Crock-Pot of rice, and some seaweed, and boiled eggs. The latter looks much more nutritious than a jelly donut. But I don't really know how to eat it, where the seaweed goes, or what the ratios are supposed to be, so, uh, I just have a jelly donut.

I am spending the last four days of the trip in the Marriott Residence Inn Silicon Valley II, at SGI's expense. Chris Nelson lived here for a month once at Philips' expense. Many more interviewees and new hires have stayed here, are staying here, will stay here. And so on.

I'm talking to someone who's interviewing me. Since I move through time randomly, it's hard to remember who I'm talking to and why they are interviewing me. I never know if I am about to answer a question, or asking a question, or just listening.

If I am in some sort of lounge, I am talking to a faculty member at Stanford, or a manager at SGI, because they can't do anything in their offices without getting interrupted. I am in many cubicles. Everyone I talk to has a familiar name, because they went to CMU once, or to OSU, or they wrote a paper I read.

One of them says, "I really hate interviewing people."

"Um," I reply.

I have finished reading "Cat's Cradle" at Eeyore's insistence. I have been tricked because a book about Trinity and global destruction has become a story about a strange religion and some tourists. Later it will return to its original theme.

Later I will read "Slaughterhouse Five". I have been tricked because a first person dialogue about Vonnegut's experiences during WWII has become a third person dialogue about a man's experiences with aliens. Later it will return to its original theme.

So it goes.

It is Monday evening. I am playing find-the-rental-car in the SGI parking lot.

The Inventor group at SGI is moving to a new building someday. The Stanford Computer Science Department is moving to a new building someday. The Ohio State Department of Computer and Information Science moved into a new building someday. I think moving is supposed to be a symbol of success.

I am talking with my brother in San Jose. Our conversation is interrupted about every three sentences by my niece Alice. Mostly, he responds, then continues his sentence to me. I gradually get used to filtering out the section of the conversation that doesn't involve me. We talk about chess and logic and CD-ROMS and Silicon Valley and CMU. He attended CMU a few years before I did.

The interview at SGI went okay. So it goes.

I am looking at just about every program that Drew has written over the past few years that meets some threshold of what he considers interesting. When someone shows you years worth of work all at once, it's much more impressive than if they showed it to you along the way. Later, we are climbing rocks somewhere high up and looking down over San Jose.

By the time I get back my fever has returned, so I down aspirin and crash. There was talk of some sort of cookout, but I have missed it; I am hoping there isn't a room full of people somewhere drinking beer and discussing my suckfulness in superlatives.

The interview at Stanford went pretty well. So it goes.

I am in Ohio, reading the mail I received while I was gone. I start to notice that people are quoting messages on d&e that I don't remember reading. I grep for key phrases in older files of mail, but can't find them. There is no apparent explanation for this.

I am staying in a Marriott hotel. The room is much smaller than the one I will have in the Residence Inn. Here I will eat quesadillas through room service. Later I will be in the Residence Inn microwaving soup. So it goes.

I'm up at 4 AM in order to make my 7 AM flight back home. It is dark outside. No one should have to be awake at this hour. No one serves breakfast at this hour.

I am loading the car.

Birds are talking.

One bird says to me, "Poo-tee-weet?"

Eeyore Links: [The Dan&Eric Limb] [The Grafted Branch] [Elliott's Home Page]
Dan & Eric Links: [The Dan & Eric Home Page]