It’s early, and we’re waiting

It’s early, and we’re waiting to go get the kids’ pictures taken… So, here’s what happened yesterday:
# Woke up at 6:45. Got everyone showered and dressed in time for us to be met by Eve (an ArsDigita founder) to pick us up in the van @ 8:30.
# Went to MIT, which, once you get inside, looks a lot like the halls of the pentagon. It has old lumpy tile floors, high ceilings with exposed pipes and narrow hallways with cryptic numbering. It’s all very collegiate. We had bagels and muffins for breakfast, and then Philip showed up.
# Philip started the “Why” seminar, which was very informative and fascinating and gave both Heather and I fantastic new ideas for sites and things.
# Then, @ 11:30, CNN showed up to film the awards ceremony.
# Oh yeah, the awards ceremony. The judges all decided that picking any one winner would be wrong since all the sites showed stengths in such divergent areas that picking any one site as “the site people should build” would be silly. So they split the prize money six ways and declared everyone winners, which they all are.
# We ate lunch from the MIT student deli… yummy.
# Back to the seminar where we learned cool geeky things that I won’t bore you with.
# @ 5 after the seminar, Philip took us on a tour of the LCS (the Lab for Computer Science), which is the home to Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software movement, the W3C, where theyt come up with all the standards for web protocols, the AI Lab, where they’re trying to make human-like robots, and a cool lab where they’re making circuits out of e.coli bacteria.
# We then went to dinner @ Legal Seafood (Philip’s favorite restaurant) where we met the guy who wrote the Apache web server (won’t mean much to you guys, but to us geeks, he’s a big star), and the Microsoft liason for research at MIT (a really nice guy, even if he does work for Bill G.). He told lots of funny stories about Microsoft and their quirky ways. I then trumped him with the AOL circus.
# Now, we’re home… And I’m tired. I didn’t think it would be this exhausting, but they’re keeping us REALLY busy. We’re always going somewhere, being taught something, or shown something cool.
This whole experience makes me miss school a little. I like this environment, and I think Heather does too. Everyone we’ve met, legend or not, has been very nice, open and willing to share with us what they’re working on, and answer our questions. I think my favorite person so far has been Kyle’s dad, who’s a genius and works at the Lincoln Lab, where they developed the inertial guidance system. He’s been around, taking the tours with us, and telling us how things work @ MIT, in Cambridge, and telling very interesting stories. He’s been great, and just a great old gentleman.
I can’t tell you how amazing this trip is. Meeting Philip Greenspun, who I’ve admired from afar for years, and is probably the biggest reason I learned Tcl and AOLserver (so I didn’t sound stupid on the phone). He’s not the mean guy I remember him as. He’s kind, funny, and brilliant. He genuinely cares about these 6 kids that won the Prize. He keeps in touch with the past winners, two of which (one winner, one finalist) are both coming to MIT to work with him.

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