Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 256 - 2^8

256 = 2^8 = 2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2

It's the number of numbers between 0 and 255 inclusive, which means it's also the number of numbers that can be represented in an 8-bit byte.

Yeah, I'm a geek.

Truthfully, geek is relative. For example, in my office, at a software company, surrounded by guys who have devoted most of their lives to honing their geekiness, I'm not considered much of a geek. I just don't measure up. For example:

  • I haven't built my own arcade game.
  • I've never been to GenCon.
  • I've never been to Comic-Con.
  • I own a Mac.
  • I use an iPhone.
  • It isn't jailbroken.
  • I don't speak Klingon.
  • I have no desire to speak Klingon.
  • I use a commercially available DVR.
  • I have never used any form of the word "Necromancy" in conversation.
  • My house is not wired with CAT5.
  • I haven't read Lord of the Rings.
  • I own zero comic books.

But compared to the general population, I peg the geek meter.

It used to be worse. Much worse.

As an undergrad, I majored in Computer Science and Math.

I know.

You can imagine how that impressed the co-eds.

Back then, when people heard CS major, they pictured something like this...


... and generally speaking, they weren't far off.

I spent countless nights, entire nights, in the basement of the math building, waiting for my computer time*, with 50 guys who looked just like that dude. And another 50 not nearly that cool.

When mixed in with the general student population, I could blend in ok. But as soon as someone found out I was a CS major, you could see the "dork" bit flip from 0 to 1 in their brain. "That's great." they'd say, voice trailing off, eyes scanning, desperate to find someone, anyone else, any normal person to talk to.

And being a math major was worse. Hard to believe, but true. People could understand that with a CS degree, you could pick your job. But what the hell did you do with a Math degree? Why would anyone choose to take more math?

So there I was, prime of my life, at the crossroads of the two most socially devastating majors.

And yet, I made it into a fraternity. No, not an engineering fraternity. A regular guys, without slide rules, with parties, that included actual girls, fraternity. In fact, I was elected president of my chapter. By my peers, not their parents.

How in the name of keg stands could that happen?

Running.

Track, specifically. My meager status as a non-scholarship walk-on track and field athlete was enough to tip the scales from dweeb to dude.

So, for you runners out there, don't underestimate the respect and esteem that others give you for your dedication and courage.

And for those tempted to reconnect with your inner-runner and rejoin the running community, consider, along with all of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits, what doors it might open for you.

Running makes you healthier, happier, and most definitely cooler.

BTW, it's totally not fair that now geek is chic and that the computer-guy image is closer to this...


Timing... It's all about timing.

Good running,
Doug

*Back in olden times, people didn't have laptops or computers in their dorm rooms. Computers were massive, massive machines that filled entire rooms. And there were only so many terminals. So, you went to the lab and put your name on the chalkboard**, a waiting list, for one hour - one precious pressure packed hour - of time to work. When your hour was up, you went back on the waiting list. And every class had big projects due at the same time, so it was usually a 2-4 hour wait until your next one-hour block. And the big projects took 5-8 hours of terminal time to complete.

** Chalkboards are what used to be where all of the whiteboards are now.

Numbers: 4.4 miles on roads.