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Monday, February 14, 2000


Sitting at the airport in Carlsbad, CA now, destined for Maui via LAX. The trip that was a Journey but a few short months ago is now just a hop and a skip. The world shrinks daily.

On my way out of the house I grabbed some old headphones, born in the 80's to a since deceased walkman, and they and some MP3s have just transformed Tera into a musician. The room around me fills slowly with people as I type, a flow of actors marching to the music in my ears.

After I checked in, I wanderred around the airport some to see if I could find any of my old flight instructors or other friends from the past. They've all moved on, but I did spot the Fouga. It's a monster of a ship, a stainless cigar from outer space with pods on the wings and a V-tail. Each control surface is counter-weighted with an arc of lead that fans forward and penetrates a hole in the wing in front of it. Very bizzarre.

Here's a picture of one:

The fellow who owns it offerred me a ride if I'd pay the gas bill (about $150 an hour, I think) but that was years ago, before he'd actually gotten it. So today I asked around and got his current number. I'll pass it on to my local friends, or look him up myself next time I'm in town.

The room is quite full now. Seems like more people than should fit on this little puddle jumper, but it's the only flight serviced from this outbuilding so I guess they're all my elbowmates.

The herd is shifting; it's time to board...

Sitting in the plane, waiting to depart from LAX now. Seven rows accross, full to the brim, and in a rare stroke of luck... Doh! Well, I was going to say I had two seats to myself, but the last guy on the plan is my elbowmate for the next five hours. It's not the elbow that's the problem, really -- it's that I can't turn sideways now, which means I'm screwed if the guy in front of me leans his seat back since as it is I can barely open my screen enough to see it.

The guy next to me on the flight here from CLD happenned to be returning to San Jose from an interview at Angel Studios -- a local game company started by some friends of mine many years ago. (Actually, when they started they were a movie special effects company.)

I finished most of the busywork of my '99 taxes yesterday, mailed hardcopy to Jay, my CPA, and emailed him the remaining numbers. He came highly recommended to me by a friend of mine who has started and sold a couple of businesses, local and international. Unfortunately, the scenario has turned into a repeat of the same experience I always have (with one exception, a friend's wife who was a CPA, but she quit the business): I ask a few questions and make a few requests about the way the return is handled, and he says "you can't do that" and I say "yes you can, and here's how" and he looks it up and says "huh, you're right!" and then he sends me a bill. Jay has fit this mould perfectly, repeatedly. The most recent example came this morning. I gave him the total number of days I was away on business travel, computed the quarter day per weird IRS rules about per-diem calculations, and asked him to deduct the per-diem meal rate for that time. He replied by saying:

The common misconception about meals while you are away is regarding the standard meal rate. The standard meal rate applies to employers who send employees away on business. It allows employers to deduct the meals without substantiation up to a certain amount. This is an audit concept designed to reduce the recordkeeping burden for businesses. It does not apply to self-employed individuals.

In truth, there is a completely separate law, with different amounts (approximately $36/day in the bay area, I believe, as opposed to something like $120/day for the rule he's referring to) which does apply to self employed persons. These are the kinds of things he's supposed to be cluing me into, not the other way around. I clued him in. I'll be curious to hear his reply.

Ok, so here's an invention, or maybe just a gripe: Why don't they make the screens on these laptops separable? If I could just set the screen on the tray, leave the keyboard in my lap, and connect the two with a short cable, this could be almost comfortable. As it is, I'm going to be a wreck by the time I arrive.

Normally I'd just forget it and do something else, but the schedule on my Megacorp project is absurd... Admittedly, this is not helped by the fact that I am currently working backward, undoing half of what I did last week, because the negative ramifications of a particular clever optimization were just too broad. I am reminded again and again that the apparent battle between optimality and elegance only exists within a narrow view. In the big picture, when the project is all done, the elegant solution and the efficient solution are generally the same. The larger the project is, the more this is true. Unfortunately, networking libraries inevitably fall somewhere in the middle, in a pergatory between two incompatable forms of elegance. Networking--bleh! How did I end up programming networking code?

Ah well, back to work.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com