Where’s Jeff Been?

I’ve been having some more sedate adventures during the last couple months, so I’ve been remiss in telling y’all what I’ve been up to. Well, now I’m about to start some new stuff, I figured I better flush out the queue!

My last update was from New Years. I spent January in Arnold. I occupied myself there by working on DTN2, the reference implementation of the emerging Disruption Tolerant Networking protocols. This work will be useful both for the Interplanetary Internet, and also for getting information to parts of the world where networks don’t reach reliably, like developing regions. For more information about how this (and other technology) can improve people’s lives in emerging regions, see the TIER website at Berkeley.

I attended a workshop Berkeley put on and got to meet other people working on this stuff. Also, I got to go skiing for the first time ever at Lake Tahoe’s Squaw Valley. It was a really great day of skiing.

Another way I spent my time in the Gold Country was by taking classes from the Red Cross. When I am back to living in one place long enough, I will join a Disaster Action Team, which is the front-line unit in the “army” of the Red Cross. A DAT does day to day interventions, like showing up with blankets, money for hotels and teddy bears after a single family house fire. People from a city’s DAT are also usually first on the scene to open a shelter in case of a bigger disaster. So far I’ve had about 6 classes, and am well trained and ready to work. I just need to stay in one place long enough to join a DAT team. Perhaps that will happen this summer, we’ll see.

Over a month ago, I set off on a road trip to Texas. Texas? Sure! Why not? It’s not like I have to be at work on Monday…

The trip started with me swinging through the Bay Area. I played in the Iron Puzzler with Team Snout. I then stayed with Acorn for a week. My rent was to get his MIG welder up and running, by running around the city getting gas and parts to hook up the gas tank. Then I built a welding table for us to practice what Acorn and I were reading in the book we bought. I saved half the welding for Acorn so he could practice too. The table turned out great!

Next came Curtis’ bachelor party. Much fun was had by all, but we are sworn to secrecy. Sorry, it’s a guy thing. (But Curtis promised to not let matrimonial bliss throw a wet blanket on his enthusiasm for LAN parties!)

I headed east, aiming for San Antonio. I went by way of Pasadena and had an informational interview with the nice people at Project Concern International. Didn’t quite find the right person, but it was interesting to see the inside of another relief agency and compare it to MSF.

I got to San Antonio and met up with my mom, stepfather, and stepbrothers. We went to my cousin’s wedding and got a chance to explore San Antonio. What a neat downtown! The riverwalk is an amazing thing, especially because so much of it was built by the WPA during the depression. The Alamo was also interesting, though I left the place with ambivalence about a military commander so eager to sacrifice himself and his troops. Yes, “remember the Alamo” has a profound effect on Texas’s ability to raise troops and win its independence from Mexico. But it’s unclear to me that at the time Tyler chose to stand instead of retreat, he could predict the military significance of his sacrifice.

From San Antonio I went north to Dallas to see Cliff and his band Escher’s Elevator play their first gig. It was fun to be “with the band”, though it was pretty hard work being Cliff’s roadie! Cliff’s improvisational electronic music was really neat. You can hear it for yourself on his website.

Next Cliff and I headed south and I introduced him to Amy Lin, a friend I met in the Bay Area. After recently getting divorced, she’s now back in Houston working for NASA again. It’s a great change for her, because she had trouble finding a job that was a good fit. Now that she’s working on the human spaceflight program again, she’s really happy. A happy Amy makes for a happy Jeff!

I next got a call from Cary at Tellme who wanted my help doing manual labor assembly work in Tellme’s new datacenter. I left my car/home in Houston and flew to Virginia where I worked for three weeks. It was pretty boring work, but the pay was good; good enough to pay for a trip to Guatemala!

I returned to the Bay Area for final errands and to attend Curtis and DeeAnn’s wedding. Now, I’m postponing packing. I leave in a few hours for Guatemala, so you’ll hear from me from there next!

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