November 17, 2003



I’m back from my all-too-brief trip to Los Angeles. Thanks again to everyone I visited, apologies to those I missed this time. Congratulations to the winners of the Urban Challenge.

For those of you who haven’t heard about the circumstances of my visit, allow me to explain. I’d owed Nick a visit following several visits from him and numerous invitations. With the holiday season fast approaching I thought it was unlikely I’d get down there this year if I didn’t go immediately. It so turned out that a couple Nick’s friends were participating in the national Urban Challenge competition in New Orleans that weekend and Nick’s apartment was to be serving as command headquarters for their remote support team.

If that sounds impressive, it is. Picture about a dozen workstations (mostly Apple laptops), wireless networking, collaborative note-taking software, multiple phone systems for communicating with the racers and the local support team, digital audio recording devices for rapid transcription of race clues, and digital image transfer systems. All extremely well-organized and manned by a crew of motivated and clever problem-solvers intent on keeping their racers provided with good intel.

At this point you may want to read Nick’s account of the day.

Upon conclusion of the races the central figures called to offer mutual congratulations on jobs well done. Following that, the Runcos and I went out for a celebratory feast. (Cajun food, appropriately.) And finally we retired to an evening of Rebel Strike, SSX3, and SNL. Which reminds me I need to get my grubby hands on SSX3 at the earliest possible convenience.

So yes, you hear about these Nick-related adventures but you rarely find yourself caught up in one. Particularly if you’re me. Which you’re not. But still. You get the idea.