- "Congratulations, Draft! Now you're a Working Group item!"
The working group accepted my internet draft today, so it's on its way to becoming an RFC eventually. I'm pleased, but really a little surprised, because it's so dinky.
Basically, what it says is that RFC 3315 has an ambiguity in it, which can be read in one of two ways, and we should read it this way. Which means, when you boil it down, my draft has one bit of information in it.
Maybe it's just me, but it seems like there ought to be a rule that an RFC should contain at least as many bits of information as its RFC number. But hey, if nobody else minds, I won't kick up a fuss.
- After dinner (Chinatown again) I went to a "bar BOF", which is rather oddly named because it isn't held at a bar--I suppose the name must be a historical throwback or something. Anyway, it was an after-dinner meeting that was thrown together on an ad-hoc basis outside the regular IETF schedule to discuss contentious Secure DNS deployment issues. 30 people or so, sitting around a table in an overheated conference room, having a rip-roaring argument about picayune details of normative security policies and highly specific definitions of technological gibberish.
It was SO. MUCH. FUN. Most people eventually drifted away, but my co-workers and I and a few other passionate and excitable participants stayed nearly an hour past the scheduled end of the meeting, then went out and the hallways and kept on arguing for another twenty minutes or so, then wandered back to our hotel room talking animatedly about what else we could maybe have an argument about now...?
How completely cool is it that I get to have a job working with people who love this shit just as much as I do? My life rocks.
- I really miss my family though. Two more days...
- Today I had nothing to do at lunch time or for a few hours thereafter, so I took a cable car to Fisherman's Wharf, ate lunch at an overpriced but fairly tasty and pleasantly atmospheric chip shop, and took another cable car home. I hadn't ridden on a cable car since I was 8 years old. When I was a teenager, growing up in San Francisco, I would've sneered at myself. Tourist!
But you know what? Cable cars rock. Just for starters, what other mode of transportation in this lawsuit-happy age still lets you dangle yourself off the side on a running board and feel wind in your face on a beautiful Spring day, while the operator plays a percussion concert on the bellrope while keeping up a comic patter with the other riders, talking trash to other Muni operators and occasionally shouting a greeting by name to someone on the sidewalk?
Fisherman's Wharf... well, okay, the t-shirt shops and souvenir stands are pretty awful. But walk just a little further, beyond the distance the average tourist is willing to travel from his or her parking place, and it suddenly becomes fascinating. There's a real live industrial fishing wharf there, piled high with the tools of the industry. And a bunch of genuinely cool historic ships to goggle at. Worth the visit.
- I adore the ringtone on my cellphone. It sounds like an old-fashioned bell-ringer dial telephone. I especially adore it when it rings while I'm standing at the microphone in an IETF working group meeting making a public comment. Comedy gold, man.
- Tonight was the social event for IETF attendees. It costs extra and I usually don't go, but this time it was held at the California Academy of Sciences and wasn't too expensive. My favorite museum in the world when I was a kid living an easy bike-ride away from it with a membership card in my pocket. I haven't had a chance to go back since they rebuilt it, though.
I didn't get to see all of it--a number of sections were closed. What I saw of it... made me really miss the museum I used to love. It's not that it's bad, it's very good. It's just not alive to me in the same way. Or, more optimistically: it's not alive yet. Perhaps a museum gains personality by accretion over a period of years, and this new place just hasn't got it yet. In any case, it hasn't got it. No quiet little niches and galleries where a kid can sit and just absorb the place. Maybe those were the closed-off sections. I'll hope.
The exterior is fantastic. The green roof deserves all the praise it's gotten. The building fits perfectly into its setting, doing no violence at all to the Music Concourse or to Golden Gate Park (unlike that horrible piece of Fuck-You Architecture they shat out across the way). (Though, credit where due, the DeYoung is very nice on the inside. I just wish it could've been designed by Möbius or Klein so it only had an inside. There are no words in human language for how much I hate the outside. But I digress.)
Some of the interior is great too. The rain forest enclosure, in particular, just blew my mind.
And the new Steinhart Aquarium is gorgeous; it reminds me of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is high praise indeed. My only slight regret is that there already was a Monterey Bay Aquarium and now there's no Steinhart, but I can live with that.
Biggest disappointment was the new Morrison Planetarium. Oh, that hurts. I have so many happy memories of hours spent sitting under that perfect simulation of the night sky, shining behind the silhouetted skyline of San Francisco. The laser shows were my favorite, but the astronomy shows used to cost only 50 cents with a membership card and so I saw a lot more of those. Now they've tilted the dome over and turned it into a hemisphere-shaped IMAX theatre without the image clarity; a really really really big-screen TV. The formerly-perfect stars are fuzzy. There are visible scan lines in the display. I could weep.
- Leaving aside the setting, the party was pretty nice. Amusing observation along the way: They took us from the hotel to the party in big shuttle buses, and my bus was full. The bus stopped at the Academy, and all four people in row one stood up. The ones on the right got off, then the ones on the left. All four people in row two stood up. The ones on the right got off, then the ones on the left. All four people in row three stood up... and so on, all the way back to where I was sitting, whereupon my companions and I wordlessly repeated the operation. It was the most orderly exit from a bus I have ever seen in my life.
This is what happens when you fill a bus with networking engineers and protocol geeks.
- After the party, I started to get on one of the return coaches, when it hit me that it was only 9:30 and a beautiful night, and I still had a Muni pass in my pocket, and how often do I get to walk through Golden Gate Park? So walk I did, all the way to Market and Van Ness, and then took a trolley bus the last six blocks or so. I'm really tired now.
It brought to mind a story that I feel like telling, though. 1985, the night of my high school graduation, there was a senior class party at my classmate Jessica's house. Her parents were apparently the sort who, while not exactly approving of kids' drinking, recognized that it was going to happen one way or the other and it might as well happen in a place where they could keep the kids safe. I was never much of a drinker, but there was plenty of my own preferred intoxicant as well, and I consumed a very large amount of it.
By and by, it got to be about two or three in the morning, and I'd had as much fun as it's possible for a seventeen-year-old boy to have without a girlfriend, a driver's license or social skills, and I decided to head home. But the bus that ran directly there had stopped running at midnight; I'd have to go all the way downtown and transfer to a streetcar coming all the way back--it would take hours. Instead, I decided to walk home.
But, see above re: intoxicants. I was a just a teeny bit paranoid that night, and felt very tense as I walked along the streets, fretting about muggers jumping out from behind all the oscar-the-grouch garbage cans to take the two dollars I had in my wallet.
I vividly, viscerally recall the moment when I finally stepped into a deserted Golden Gate Park and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Because, you see, I'd thought about it logically, and realized that since no one ever walks in the park at night, it would be a completely stupid place for anyone who wanted to mug passersby to hang out. There was no prey, so naturally there would be no predators. A guy who wanted to steal my wallet would have to be completely crazy to be hiding behind one of those weird twisty shadowy trees. In fact, he'd have to be totally insane. I mean, completely around the bend. He would be entirely beyond the reach of human logic. There would be no reasoning with such a person. He would be driven by utterly incomprehensible motivations. So, logically, if there were someone hiding behind one of those trees, he'd probably EAT MY FUCKING LIVER.
It was perhaps the shortest-lived sigh of relief of my entire life.
Tonight's walk was much more pleasant.
And so good night.
This time, IETF is in San Francisco. Not exactly a strange and foreign land with unfamiliar local customs. But I'm there for six days without my family and what the hell else am I gonna do? So blogging commences.
- As I type this I'm sitting in a bus on highway 17. I decided to pass the time by switching on my computer and getting some work done. I'm also reading blogs and chatting with my wife and son over the free high-speed wireless internet connection. On a $4 bus ride. I'm impressed.
And I'm suddenly struck by a vivid recollection of another bus ride I took when I was 15 years old, down the peninsula from San Francisco to San Mateo. I had a walkman and a cassette with me--I think it was The Wall, or maybe it was Animals and Wish You Were Here; in any case it was Pink Floyd. I got to daydreaming about how much nicer it would be if cassettes held more music, so that I could carry around the complete works of Pink Floyd instead of just one or two albums. And then I daydreamed further about how great it would be if I could have my computer with me, running on a battery.
I just reached in the pocket of my backpack and pulled out a little black box the size of a cigarette lighter, which contains, among many other things, the complete works of Pink Floyd. Did I call the future or what?
- There's snow on the mountains from the cold front that moved through last night. Very pretty. And unusual. Makes it a little more like I am going to a strange city.
- The San Jose Caltrain station reminds me again how much I like train stations. I really do, always have, and especially old ones like this, with the marble and the archways and the little niche in the corner with a neon sign reading NEWSSTAND. There ought to be a shoeshine stand and guys in hats.
I like train travel a lot, and I suspect we'll be doing a lot more of it in the future as energy gets pricier. The one thing I'm sorry about is that all the new train stations that will have to be built are going to be built just like all the other crappy-ass buildings we put up, and put up with, these days. It's going to bring down the average classiness of train stations as a whole.
- Alas: No wifi on Caltrain. Having had 45 minutes to get used to it on the highway 17 bus, my sense of entitlement is utterly outraged.
- But! My computer seems to have picked up the names of every wifi access point we've gone past in the last several miles, even though they're out of range moments after they're detected. Which makes the "available wireless networks" menu interesting to read, if not particularly useful in any practical sense. MicrosoftGuest! Apple FTW! outbackwifi! vicious-net! blueskies! The Homies!
- Somehow despite being born on the peninsula and growing up in San Francisco I never got around to taking Caltrain before. I don't know what it's like when it's crowded, but on a Sunday afternoon it's nice. And it goes right past the apartment building where I lived from age 5-8, the street where the nursery school I attended from age 2-5 used to be, the furniture store that used to be a threatre where I saw every Disney movie that ever came out, a half dozen parks I played at, and many streets I walked and bicycled on. Quite a little nostalgia trip.
- Now here I am in the city, and is it just me, or is there Something Very Wrong with the fact that the big fancy business hotel where the Internet Engineering Task Force meeting is being held has slower and less reliable internet service than I had on a bus driving through the Santa Cruz Mountains?
- Dinner tonight was at "one of the best vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco," or so the concierge told us, and I'm entirely willing to believe it.
I'd had a bit to eat at the opening-night IETF reception earlier, and after the soup I wondered if I'd made a mistake ordering a main course. Silly of me; I'd forgotten that at fancy gourmet restaurants of this sort, the main course is an acre of plate with a tiny, perfect pile of food artistically arranged in the middle. Turned out to be the perfect amount.
My favorite item on the menu (despite not having ordered it) was a banana-leaf tamale containing "forbidden rice". How did I ever resist the lure of the forbidden rice?
Anyway, nice place. Especially nice place to be on an expense account.
For those among you who aren't breathless fans of internet protocol development, an I-D is the larval form of an RFC, which in turn is an open specification for how some aspect of the internet works. If it helps, you can picture it as a sad little rolled-up piece of anthropomorphic paper, sitting on the steps of the Internet Engineering Systems Group and singing:
- I'm just a draft
Yes I'm only a draft
And if the working group achieves rough consensus
Then I'll progress to IETF and they'll talk about me
And send me back to the author for a revision or three
But someday I'll be an RFC
At least I hope I won't get the shaft
'Cause today I am still just a draft
The thing I wrote is a clarification of a minor ambiguity in RFC 3315, which defines DHCP for IPv6. I'm not sure if it'll ever become an RFC or just be rolled into an update for 3315, but whatever. It's got my name on it. Bow down before me, lesser nerds!
"Finally, the horrific misrule of the Democrats has been brought to a close," House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert (R-IL) told reporters. "Under Bush, we can all look forward to military aggression, deregulation of dangerous, greedy industries, and the defunding of vital domestic social-service programs upon which millions depend."
My fellow citizens.
Holy. Fucking. SHIT.
Look at this. Are you seeing this? I'm the fucking PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA now. President Barack Hussein Obama! I took the oath and everything. I mean, fuck! Is that cool, or is that cool?
Jesus FUCK! Can you fucking believe this? Look, see that house over there? The big white one? That's my house now. I live there. That's where I'm going to give my speeches and sign legislation and shit. Over there, that's my helicopter. I have my own 747. The fucking President. Me.
Jesus Christ in a chicken basket. This is completely fucking amazing.
Thank you, and God bless America.
In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office, I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.
As I was walkin', I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said, no trespassin'
But on the other side, it didn't say nothin'
That side was made for you and me
At 9 AM pacific time on Tuesday morning I’m popping open a bottle of good champagne. It’s early in the day to be drinking, but worth it.
I wish I could say I found the events of the Bush years surprising, but “surprise” was rarely the emotion. It was more like an endless, horrible confirmation of all my lurking fears—like the nightmare in which all the horrors you refuse to believe in turn out to be real, and so now you’re not only being chased by zombies but you also feel like a fucking idiot for all the times you said you didn’t believe in the goddamn things.
I used to believe, and I suppose I still kinda do, that (as King put it) “the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” I used to see the bad things that happened in the world and remind myself that the human race takes more steps forward than back, that only a few hundred years had taken us from feudalism and the slave trade to the modern world of widespread democracy and freedom, and even if we did still have some distance to go, the trends looked good for our side. But then I saw America turn around and run the wrong way as fast is it could, flinging all its noble principles aside in its shrieking fear of swarthy people with boxcutters and shoe bombs—everything from habeas corpus to the Geneva Conventions suddenly “quaint”—and a smirking psychopathic moron leading the way. And then we re-elected the motherfucker.
This inauguration is a grand thing, no question, but it doesn't undo the hurt. It’s going to be hard for me ever to feel really optimistic about human nature again. And I suppose realism is a good thing, but dammit, I liked naïveté better.
Friend up if you're interested, and gaze upon the creative fruits of our hopefully-steadily-diminishing incompetence as they appear.
But last night I was up until past 3:30 in the morning with stuff rattling around in my head, and then of course the kid decided today was the day to have stomach troubles and need me to get up before 7.
Then came the many, many errands.
I'm concerned I may spend 2009 as a zombie.
"Your what now?"
"I'm pretending that my brain is a computer, and I want to tell you about it."
"Oh! Okay. What's it like, having a computer for a brain?"
"Well, what it's like is based on the applications that are running on the computer."
"That makes sense. What applications do you have?"
"Well, the main application is the Decision Maker, which makes all the decisions for me."
"Huh. Does it make good decisions or bad decisions?"
"It makes both good and bad decisions, but it's connected to a database that goes to the Information Gatherer. That's the part that gathers information when I use my eyes."
"Cool. Do you have one for when you're using your ears, too?"
"Sort of. But the Decision Maker is also connected to the Frustration Application, which I renamed The Frustrator. It sometimes crashes the Decision Maker. And then I have to go into the menu screen and reboot."
The vast majority of these songs I don't even know, and a lot of the ones I do aren't particularly to my taste, but still, I thought it might be fun to retry the old musical 8-ball meme that went around a few years ago with this new, vastly-expanded universe of possible answers... so!
1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. Press next track for each question.
3. Use the song titles to answer the questions, even if it doesn't make sense.
Will you get far in life?
Magical Misery Tour
How do your friends see you?
Our Love is Here to Stay
Works for me.
Will you get married?
Question of Degree
Hmm. Not sure if this reflects the fact that we waited until I graduated from college, or the fact that I'm not a polygamist...
What is your best friend's theme song?
Sea of Love
What is the story of your life?
Love is Just a Four Letter Word
Nah, this one doesn't work for me.
What was high school like?
Streams of Whiskey
How can you get ahead in life?
Made in England
What is the best thing about your friends?
It's true, I just love that about you guys.
What is today going to be like?
Oh, Good Grief
Really? Just today?
What is in store for this weekend?
Makes sense, what with the holiday and all.
What song describes you?
Child of Innocence
Hey, when the thing's right, it's right.
What song describes your grandparents?
Station to Station
How is your life going?
Prelude in D Flat Major
Meaning it's just getting started?
What song will they play at your funeral?
You Keep Me Hangin' On
How does the world see you?
All The Things You Are
What do your friends really think of you?
All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)
Aw. You guys are so great.
Do people secretly lust after you?
I guess I'm gonna take that as a no.
How can you make yourself happy?
What should you do with your life?
What You Will
Will you have children in the future?
...yeah, I'm trying to think of an interpretation, but I just can't make this one work at all. Maybe I should try again?
I sat in the living room of my family's house in San Francisco, on a gold-colored easy chair near a crackling fire, and read every one of those stories. Of course I was born after Kennedy's assassination, but I got really caught up in it. The sense of this enormous historic event that so many people had witnessed, remembered so keenly, and continued to share with each other.
Last night it occurred to me that it's the 25th anniversary of the 20th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, and I can still vividly remember right where I was.