Author Archives: Todd Gehman

Outage Tonight 12:30 AM PST

We’ll be taking the site down tonight to implement some database updates around 12:30 AM PST. Everything should be up and running smoothly again by 1:30 at the latest, but we’ll keep the blog updated if we encounter any nasty snags.

UPDATE (12:39 AM) : Sites are back up! If you’re still seeing the Scheduled Downtime page, try hitting Shift while reloading the page or clearing your browser’s page cache. Thanks folks.

Holiday Cheers

xmass cards 2006

This weekend our new sysadmin Chuq will be visiting Seattle and we’ll finally get to meet him in person. He’s been a very active user for some time and has worked closely at the DNC with an old colleague of ours, so we look forward to hanging out. After familiarizing Chuq with Seattle, the Robot Co-op office, the all-important baristas at Cafe Vita, Credit Card Roulette, and our systems and technology, our top priority is to teach him the dark magic of the so-called Cheer Goblin. As we’ve expressed before, this infamous algorithm is shocking in its simplicity…but awesome in its mysterious powers.

Sorry, but Chuq will be sworn to secrecy.

We’d also like to thank everyone for the nice holiday cards we’ve been receiving. We do appreciate it. It is natural that people would be thinking of the Robot Co-op and our sites this time of year, though. Despite the fact that he’s never written a single entry, the top subscribee on 43 People is God.

The Gambler’s Fallacy

I can’t remember what we talked about at lunch today. That’s either because we didn’t sustain a single subject long enough for it to matter, or because I daydreamed about regaining my financial footing after this string of Credit Card Roulette losses. The problem with a serious losing streak is giving up the gambler’s fallacy and accepting that randomness has no memory. There is no mathematical fairness to CCR unless we play the game an infinite number of times. Randomness does not “owe me” a string of winning, free lunches to make everything even. Instead, we start from statistical scratch every time we play the game.

This problem, the vanishing past, is a sticking point for some, and a liberating opportunity for others. Some say that what we think of as The Past is just an assemblage of memories, evidence, and the stories we tell, and that those things are just aspects of the present – malleable ones at that. The past ceases to exist but leaves behind a plastic residue. I have a sense that Josh, our resident historian, rails against this notion. As for me, I like that we are always starting from scratch. I’m heeding the bumper sticker that states “forgiveness is giving up hope for a better past.” Lady Luck didn’t owe me anything due to our past, but she still let me win CCR today. Now, how does that past victory continue to exist? I have a memory of Josh’s card being picked, I have evidence in my wallet that I got lunch for free, and I have completed my assignment to add a story to our blog.

Water Ballet

During today’s lunch at Ballet, Bob lost again at CCR. Whereas last night, at our first SCUBA class, he won second place in the six-lap pool snorkeling exercise. I hadn’t noticed this achievement, but he informed us of it over lunch. Go Bob! Thing is, it wasn’t actually a competition. So I informed him of that over lunch as well. I’m hoping Bob doesn’t invent another race tomorrow, because I’ll be his novice diving buddy in the cold, vast waters of the Puget Sound. Did you know that I coined my standard username to combine “Puget” with “fugitive” and refer to being a solitary transplant to Seattle? This was circa 1994, but I’ve still never been in the Sound. Did you know that it was Jacques Cousteau’s second favorite place in the world to dive? True story. I hope Jacques knew what he was talking about, because it’s going to be cold as hell down there, and damn lonesome if I can’t keep up with Speedy McScotlandbound.

43 Things at 500,000

Hodel lost the lunch gamble and purchased Korean food for us yesterday. We explored how dual-government taxation works when a U.S. citizen is working overseas for an extended period, as Bob will be doing when he skirts off to Scotland. We dreamed of a world in which everyone who wants one can have a network-hosted music collection. We covered the latest developments in Rails. We also celebrated our half millionth 43 Things user, who created his account on Tuesday to notify the world that he endeavors to watch every single episode of Law & Order. To which we can only respond a) to each their own and b) best of luck.

Without gambling a penny on advertising, we are halfway to Leroy’s folks.

On a bratwurst roll

Lunch today was paid by Bob
Whom Fortuna of late seems oft to rob.

Topics of war went ‘round our table
To make a clear point, none were able

(Except maybe Todd, by reading The Stranger—
Silence may be the best shelter from danger).

Moral relativism means wishy-washy.
At least that’s what I got from Joshy.

When asked whose argument seemed to lose
It seemed quite easy for them to choose.

I may not have a very convincing way
But at least I didn’t have to pay… today.

Tuesday is the new Monday

As lunch conversations go, Tuesday’s was rather a dud, as we never landed on a cohesive topic. We chatted a bit about 2-stroke versus 4-stroke engines. We chatted a bit about the Merlin Mann detente. We talked about wrapping up the latest 43 Places projects before we run off in all directions, trying to live our lives as if we’re on vacation. Then, during the stroll back to the office, Josh tried to convince us that modern-day grudge-holding can be supported by classical views on justice. We sipped our iced coffees and weighed the notion.

The Purpose of Our Company and Our Lives

Today our lunch conversation involved everybody briefing each other. Josh briefed us on the history of Israeli wars. Erik briefed us on the ill health of Maggie’s cat. Ivan briefed us about the ongoing bullying between his chickens. Bob briefed us on the cleanliness of his condo for sale. I briefed Erik on how strange last night was at the Rendezvous, including the part about the band fights but omitting the part about the burlesque dancers. We all reviewed last night’s brief conversation with the nice waitress at Havana. She is named Rachel and she is from Upstate New York. Incidentally, while at Havana last night, we talked about how to maximize the philanthropic side effects of our company, should we succeed. And we attempted to define each of our purposes in life. Now that would have made an interesting blog post.

Special Holiday Edition

Yesterday during lunch we talked about exploiting the occasion of a major move to radically reduce one’s possessions. Pretty much everyone at the Co-op has gone through some transformative event in their lives, be it a major geographical move, a divorce, a career change, or what have you. And we’ve all decided to simplify at the same time. We suggested that Bob get rid of everything before he goes to Scotland. The jury’s out on whether he’ll go for it. We joked about buying his fancy, barely driven Mini and sharing it as the company Flexcar.

We also took another pass at the “how much blah do you need to be happy” discussion. Josh proposed that asking for a monetary value is no more sensical than asking how much air, or how many calories, or how many friends. I think what he means is that there’s no correct answer, not because each person has their own scale, but because the idea of reaching happiness quantitatively is absurd.

Announcement Lunch

One of the rules of Credit Card Roulette’s new blogging amendment is that the person assigned to write a blog post gets punished if they renege. Yesterday, Bob flaked on summarizing our lunch conversation. Today, he paid. My enthusiasm for enforcing this rule earned me yet another blogging assignment. Touché, Bob.

There was no central theme to today’s chatter. We covered the philanthropy of Warren Buffet, the politics of Seattle University, and the exclusivity of Mormon temples. We also discussed life at Development Center Scotland, the subsidiary at which Bob will be leaving the Co-op to work. That’s right, our senior software developer is officially leaving the company this summer. We like to think of it not as losing a robot, but gaining a free place to crash near Edinburgh. Still, just like Bob’s old clothes, his shoes will be hard to fill. If you know any really, really, really smart software developers willing to amplify their own and others’ lives via the code they write, send them our way.