It's been a few weeks now since our last Silicon Valley DFS. Rajesh Vaidya already wrote a report about it, but rather than followup to his I've decided to write my own. Why? Well, mostly it's because Rajesh got just about everything wrong. I don't know how he did it. Maybe all those pitchers of beer he drank clouded his memory.
One thing this DFS showed me is that we really need to have more Silicon Valley DFSes. I suppose the reason that we've had them so infrequently is that we all hate each other. We got together on this one because Devin Ganger was in town. We all hate him, too, but at least he's someone different.
The DFS was supposed to begin at 6:30 on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 at the Tied House brewery and restaurant in Mountain View. I arrived at 6:15 figuring I'd meet anybody who got there early, but by 6:30 I was still the only person from the group there. Typical Silicon Valley promptness. I kept a pint of Oatmeal Stout company at a table off to the side of the front door.
Rajesh arrived a few minutes after 6:30. He and I discussed the beer selections and then settled in to a discussion about the commuting situations in various cities including Bombay. I don't remember how or why we got into that.
Devin Ganger came in about 10 minutes later. I didn't recognize him at first. He's got some hair on top of his head now, so he looks a lot less like an extra from the movie "Mad Max" than he used to. Rajesh suggested that the best way to figure out whether or not he was Devin was to shout his name across the increasingly crowded bar room. It worked. Rajesh tried the same trick later with Alberto Yanez. It didn't work... mostly because the person he shouted at was not Alberto.
Emma Pease arrived close to 7:00 and we decided it was time to get a table. Fashionable tardiness aside, I figured anybody who doesn't have the decency to show up for a dinner engagement less than 30 minutes late doesn't really want to dine with us, so we asked the staff to seat us. But no sooner had we sat down at a table for 4 (the restaurant wouldn't seat us at a table any bigger than the number of people physically present) and gotten menus and bread than Alberto and his near-sister Manoella arrived. The restaurant staff graciously moved us to a table for 6. (Counting the table at the bar, that was our _third_ table of the evening -- eat your hearts out, DC darkfriends!)
A pitcher of beer arrived as we made introductions and perused our menus. We ordered some appetizers. Rajesh ordered more beer to make sure we could wash them down.
Over dinner we discussed some recent threads on the newsgroup: What's your Wu-Tan name?, What's your soap opera name?, and What's your porn star name? More serious topical matters, such as government-mandated birth control, were immediately killfiled.
Rick Moen arrived with his fiancee, Dierdre. We asked the maitre d' if we could move to a bigger table, but he told us we'd had too many tables already and the restaurant was cutting us off. The rest of us pressed in close so Rick and Dierdre could sit.
Since it was late March and April Fool's Day was looming large, we discussed pranks to play on the newsgroup. I suggested that because rasfwrj has become dominated by off-topic threads we need to create a newsgroup rec.art.sf.written.robert-jordan.robert-jordan to handle RJ-related traffic. Emma said she'd support the RFD, just to add an air of legitimacy. I also suggested it's time for rasfwrj to annex soc.culture.jordan. Again. And beyond the milieu of newsgroup mechanics we up with several joke announcements to test the gullibility of the newsgroup audience: Bill Garrett is becoming a Catholic priest, Devin Ganger is becoming a Mormon minister, Hawk is becoming a nun, and Andrea and Kenn are getting married. To each other.
After a lot of laughs and a few spit-takes while trying to figure out which lie would be most outrageous, our conversation switched course back into the predictable territory of books. I hate books. I told everyone so. I'm semi-literate and proud. We don't need to spend time at a social discussing books; we have rasfwrj (and rasfw) for talking about books. Socials are for hanging out and drinking. Rajesh obligingly ordered another pitcher of beer.
Next, the conversation turned to nanotechnology. I objected to that, too. I hate it how in Silicon Valley you seemingly can't escape discussions about technology. It's like people don't know how to talk about anything else. Besides, a lot of it's just intellectual dick-sizing, and we have rasfwrj for that.
Rick, Devin, and Emma dick-sized about systems administration and web browsers. Rick likes to put "This page best viewed with Lynx" notices on his pages. Someone suggested he put that in the form of an animated .gif. Someone else suggested he put it in a Macromedia Flash file.
Devin showed us how he's gotten in touch with his "inner gay". He's only a trashy dress and pair of pumps short of being a convincing drag queen. When he asked me how my inner gay was doing, I asked if all inner gays had to be effeminate like his. I mean, not all gays are effeminate. It would be quite a surprise if my inner gay were effeminate. I'd have to stop wearing cowboy boots and I'd have to sell my leather vests to a second-hand store. And then I'd have to wear my fuschia shirt a lot more frequently. (Over the past year it's been relegated to the "wear it about once a month" section of my expansive wardrobe.)
When the bill for dinner came the technology and dick-sizing started all over again. Three people whipped out their Palm Pilots to divide up the cheque. Devin started booting his laptop computer. Meanwhile, I stared at the numbers, did some mental arithmetic, and came up with a fair splitting of the costs before anyone else did.
Rick and Dierdre bowed out soon after finishing their dinners. Alberto and Manoella bailed not long after that, claiming the press of other engagements in their schedules. Emma stayed until about 10pm. That left me, Rajesh, and Devin. Woohoo! The three drinkers! Except I'd stopped drinking about an hour before then. Hmmm....
At some point, Devin accused me of being the intellectual wet-blanket of the group. Who, me? Could it have been because anytime anybody tried to say anything too intelligent I stuck my fingers in my ears and chanted, "Nyah, nyah, this thread is in my killfile"?
Rajesh ordered another beer before Last Call, which came at the ungodly early hour of 11pm. I announced that I had a jones for ice cream and dragged Devin and Rajesh over to an ice cream shoppe. The store was closed, though, so I had to keep jonesing. At that point we were right next to the train station where Devin had to go to return to his hotel. We considered calling it a night. Each of us made those vague, noncommittal, and perfunctory noises that people make when trying to stumble into an agreement that nobody really wants. But then we made eye contact with each other and realized that each of us were wearing that unmistakeable expression (maybe it's a guy thing) that says, "I don't really have anything better to do, so let's go get liquored up!" And that's what we did.
Our first stop of the newly reborn evening was a billiards parlor. Rajesh got a beer, I got a Long Island Ice Tea (oops-- back off the wagon), and Devin groused about them not having any Bailey's. He ordered a beer instead. Devin and I played most of the games. Rajesh stayed back and offered helpful commentary. He didn't want to play because he was saving his billiards energies for the league he belongs to. He did play one game with us, and he was damn good.
Rajesh confided in us that he generally dislikes affluent, yuppie digs like the upscale billiards hall we were in. He prefers "hick bars". Where do you find hick bars in the Bay Area? In Fremont, apparently. Yeah, Fremont, that land of cows grazing in people's front yards and ancient pickup trucks held together with duct tape and bailing wire. It seems the reason Rajesh prefers hick bars to upscale bars because when his car breaks down, he can walk into a hick bar, order a beer, and complain about his car, and the patrons go outside to fix it in the parking lot for him.
The pool hall was closing up at midnight, so we were out on the street for a second time staring at each other and trying to figure out whether to be responsible worker-drones and head home to rest up and arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at our jobs the next day, or stay out all night and drink. Well, we chose to combine the two: we'd stay out all night and drink so we could come into work all bright- tailed and bushy-eyed. Or something like that.
Out in the street we saw several members of Mountain View's finest protecting public safety, peace, our Chillllldren!!!, and The American Way against such crimes against humanity as driving without headlights turned on. The cop who pulled over the first such hardened criminal dutifully radioed for backup before approaching her for the perfunctory "Licence and registration, please, ma'am." You see, here in Mountain View that's about as rough as crime gets. The police department's big action last year came was busting up a jay-walking ring. A busy Saturday night for the cops responding to a call at Safeway where some woman is getting rowdy because there's 7 people in the checkout line and they're not opening another register.
Our next watering hole was Fibbar Magee's, another one of those upscalish yuppie bars that Rajesh dislikes. There was probably not a single person in the establishment who could fix a timing chain and water pump in the parking lot if his life depended on it. And Devin disliked them because they, too, were out of Bailey's. But the bar did have a few of those members of the human race known as females -- about as common in Mountain View bars than people who know how to fix automobiles in the parking lot -- so we stayed. I gulped down another Long Island Iced Tea while Rajesh and Devin drank beer.
We got kicked out of Fibbar Magee's at their last call at 1am. We stumbled out onto the street and realized (Rajesh and me, at least) that being seen stumbling out of a bar and into our cars was possibly not the smarted thing to do, as many members of Mountain View's finest were waiting and eager to write traffic tickets for people doing just that. So we stumbled back into another bar to hide out from the cops and see if they'd leave. This time it was Molly Magee's (no relation to Fibbar).
Molly Magee's turned out to be the platonic ideal of bars in Mountain View. It was spacious. It was open until a respectable hour of the morning. There were women in it. There were attractive women in it. There was probably even had a guy who knew how to fix cars in the parking lot in it. And it had Bailey's.
Rajesh and Devin continued their carousing (Devin, with his much sought-after Bailey's) while I decided that if I wanted to avoid an unfortunate encounter with Mountain View's finest waiting outside I had better wash down those Long Island Iced Teas with a bunch of caffeine. I quickly lost track of Rajesh and Devin, though, because as I sat down at the bar I found myself sitting next to a former coworker. He'd recently gone over to a company whose stock price was doing far better than mine, and I was just tipsy enough to give him shit about it. He was just tipsy enough to take it.
'Round about closing time at 2am -- our fourth Last Call of the evening -- Devin and Rajesh rescued me from feeling sorry for myself over working at the wrong company. It's a good thing they did because I was going on a tear, having pounded down three, maybe four, pints of Diet Coke while sitting at the bar for the last hour. We walked out into the light (conveniently provided by those little spotlights on police cruisers) and there ended the first Silicon Valley DFS of the year 2000.
by Bill Garrett, copyright 2000
garrett (at) linuxmafia.com
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