Pub Quiz After 4+ Months Off

I had the opportunity to host Geeks Who Drink pub quiz at Pizza J tonight for the first time since December 19th. Being a sub is a a pain when none of the regular local hosts ever take time off. This time, one did and a newbie to the local hosts scooped up all of the slots. I had to ask him to free one up so I could get a chance. Share the load, dude. I should be the first in line for a new venue if we ever get one. So I’ve got that going for me.

Part of the gig is writing a blog post about the event. Mine is here.

A good chunk of the cast and crew of the show I was just in (we closed on Sunday), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee came split into two teams. It was fun to have so many people I know among the teams tonight (including my own regular team, pictured above, which includes my wife.)

Turns out, four months isn’t enough time to get rusty, though I did start the evening a bit shakily. But that was because there was an audio cable missing from the setup box (found still attached to the PA system rather than being, you know, in the box) and then the WiFi not working properly (a problem since I keep score in a Google Sheet and my iTunes library is all in the cloud so all the music I play isn’t available to me offline.) So that rattled me a bit. But once I got going it went very smoothly. And complete strangers came up to me at the end to tell me they had a great time, which always is wonderful to hear.

Hopefully it will be a much shorter interval before I host again…

BASIC at 55

I recently found this post in my drafts and realized I had never published it. Five years later, here it is.

After I graduated Dartmouth College, I worked at the college for six years. Somewhere in that time, I was backing out of a parking space in downtown Hanover when I backed into a car I didn’t realize was right behind me. I got out and began apologizing. I saw an older man getting out of the car and I began looking for damage while continuing my litany of apologies. I could see no damage and the man was saying that everything was fine, no worries. Then I glanced at the license plate. It was a New Hampshire plate that read, simply, “BASIC” I looked at the man again and realized, in a moment of mortification, that I had just backed into John Kemeny’s car. Kemeny invented the programming language BASIC along with Thomas Kurtz (who I’d met as an undergraduate when he was part of a competition to design a futuristic technology, my roommate Serge and I invented something we dubbed, “The Internet” not knowing that The Internet  was an actual thing (we would within a year when Dartmouth connected to it)).

Kemeny assured me that everything was fine, gave me a genial smile, got back into his car and drove off. And that’s how I met John Kemeny.

BASIC turns 50 on May 1 [Like I said, this is a five year old post] and Dartmouth is planning a series of events to mark the occasion. BASIC was my own introduction to programming. I taught it to myself in high school on a friend’s Atari 400 and, later, my own Atari 800XL. My senior year of high school I wrote my own Mandelbrot Set generator. It took 24 hours to generate a single 384×192 picture (something my iPad can do in a fraction of a second today). As a freshman at Dartmouth College, I took my first Computer Science course using Real Basic, an update to BASIC. Soon afterwards I graduated to Pascal, 68000 assembly, and, ultimately, C. But it was BASIC that started it all. So, thank you Kemeny and Kurtz! And Happy Birthday BASIC!