Foo camper puzzler

I’ve been slow to sort through my Foo Camp notes, partly because it was such an overwhelming experience, and partly because so many of the people from Foo Camp are famous and prolific A-list bloggers. What can I possibly add to the story that they have already blogged about in such detail? Well, of course they have their stories and I have mine. And if you don’t keep up with A-list bloggers that went to Foo Camp, then just maybe you’ll hear about it here first.

The place to start is the name: Foo Camp. The “Foo” part is a kind of quasi-joke that stands for “Friends of O’Reilly” in a winking sort of way. But the “Camp” part is not a joke. We really did show up in Sebastopol, California and camp in the grassy area behind the O’Reilly Media headquarters. Just imagine pitching a tent in a business park and you’ll get the basic idea. Here is what it looked like. And, in the spirit of an un-conference, we really did throw together an improvised conference schedule on Friday night. And we really did drink at the proverbial Foo Bar. I’m sorry, I meant to say the literal Foo Bar.

Without getting too much more into it now, I will say that absolutely everyone there was smart and interesting. It was intimidating to meet so many fascinating and accomplished people, but it was positively alarming to come home and read more about their accomplishment online. I camped next to D. Richard Hipp, an open source developer from North Carolina. When I was poking around his web site after I got back, I came across this lovely puzzler page. I hope it wastes a lot of your time, because it sure burned up a lot of mine.

SculptorHouse: place as art

You’ve heard of landscape architecture. Now get ready for the architected landscape. My brother-in-law Craig Pleasants is an artist who has worked on sculptures at an architectural scale. With years of experience to draw on, he’s now turning the idea of architectural sculpture into a business opportunity with a site called The picture shown here is actually one of Craig’s first architectural projects: the house he lived in for many years. Eight sided, eccentric, and endearing, it became known in our family as the OLU, for Octagonal Living Unit. Now with Craig’s help you can have an OLU of your very own. Contact him at the site and he will create something beautiful on your property.

Incidentally, Craig has also done some writing and illustration. One of my favorite stories of his is the ethnohistoriographical deconstruction of the Three Little Pigs story. I won’t give away the surprising conclusion, but I will say that the first little pig deconstructs a straw house, and the second little pig deconstructs a… well, just be sure and read all the sidenotes.

Segway dealerships

I’m just back from a week’s vacation at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. Between vacation and Foo Camp, it’s been a hectic couple of weeks, but things should be getting back to normal now. I mention the vacation because, at a stop for dinner on the way up, I happened to notice this dealership sign: Segway of Northern New England. It was like a sign from the future that didn’t quite happen. A few years in the future from a few years ago (i.e. now) we were all going to be zooming around on Segways. Weren’t we? Weren’t we?

One critique that seems to stick to the Segway is that, at some basic human level, it’s just weird to see someone standing still and moving at the same time. The Segway-ist can’t help looking comical. It reminded me of the difference between motorcycle cops and bicycle cops. Psychologically there’s just no comparison: the bicycle cop is approachable. He’s your friend. He’s on your side. You want to talk to him. You want him to catch the bad guy. But the motorcycle cop moves without moving. He is remote and menacing, an enforcer from another domain. You might even be tempted to help his frightened prey escape. Which all leads to the question: what about the cop on a Segway? Intimidator, friend, or buffoon?

The Segway of Northern New England showroom really exists of course, but then New Hampshire is Dean Kamen’s back yard. I don’t imagine there are too many other dealerships around the country. I wonder what kind of business it does.