EXTRO and environs

Kathryn Aegis (aegis@igc.apc.org)
Mon, 18 Aug 1997 23:56:01 +0000

Deep and wise reflections about the Extro conference as it fades
into the sunset along with the vapor trail of the plane that whisked
this surly Easterner away from the land of palm trees and deserts....
but maybe also a little gossip.

I enjoyed the opportunity to indulge in broader bandwidth
communications with persons who I have come to respect and like, and I
know that I did not get to spend enough time with everyone, or even
to actually meet every familiar name. Will we ever outgrow the human
need for physical proximity, to stand near, see a smile, share a
meal, laugh together, dance just briefly? Looking at us all gathered
into one room, how frustratingly normal these bodies, how insufficient
to express the fierce originality of thoughts generated within.

For one who has never seen past Texas, the sudden immersion in
California tech culture quickly overwhelmed. Even before
reaching the Doubletree, I was taken on a whirlwind tour of the Stanford
and Apple campuses, courtesy of my fellow airline passengers. After the
conference, several more days in Palo Alto and Stanford with one friend
who works in biomedical informatics, and another in orbital
mechanics. Both of whom were impressed with my heretofore unnoticed
ability to discuss Drexler, Minsky, and Dyson spheres!

Then, on to Berkely with my friend Jaime and, of all things, we ran into
Robin Hanson, just moving into his new office building! We explored
his new home together.

And then, San Francisco, for the less mindful pursuits of shopping,
wandering, nightlife, and climbing Bryant Hill. A day's drive along
the coast, where we spotted the elusive mountain cows of Bodega Bay.
Shrieks from Jaime upon the discovery of monstrous alien seaweeds
marooned on the sand. Rocks that glowed pink on the cliff and grey in
my hand. Fog, powered by the sea wind, that swept across with the force
of a rainshower. Back to the Castro and Harrison Street for a long night
of taking in the living carnivals behind every door. The sudden
realization that I'm leaving and Jaime's staying and the plane isn't
going to wait, it being mechanical and not subject to the failings of
human indecision.

And back, at last, to the warm embrace of loved ones here,
and the even warmer embrace of the weather, a heat index of 105 degrees
upon my descent into Baltimore!