The Quantum Pontiff

Ski Lift Conversations

The man on the lift chair at Stephen’s Pass asks me my occupation. Professor, I tell him, at the University of Washington.

Oh, he offers, My daughter is a fourth generation Husky. I was in the class of 1972. Or, well I would have been if I’d graduated, but I knew what I wanted to do didn’t need a degree. If I’d wanted to work for IBM or Honeywell or something, then I guess it would matter.

Seattle, he continues scratching some snow from his mustache, used to be such a great city. But now, the traffic is crazy. My wife and I went on a trip and couldn’t find a city more messed up than Seattle.

Interesting, I tell him, hoping that exactly my lack of interest might change the topic of conversation. So what do you do?

I’m retire now, but I used to be developer.


  1. #1 JohnQPublic
    February 22, 2008

    Well, the CS curriculum of the sixties sucked. It was heavily weighed towards straight mathematics, and little about computers expect for Fortran programming which built keypunching skills more than algorithmic skills; Dijkstra was rarely mentioned as modular programming (new at the time) was taught more as an academic curiosity than a skill. Thus, it did not align well with business needs. Most programmers back then were actually EE majors, and, thus, really bad at software. (Their “small is beautiful” approach led to such great practices like not validating input parameters because “they should just be passed correctly in the first place!”)

    It is much better today with teaching emerging languages, OOP, client-side technologies, and even IOC frameworks. It is much better aligned with business needs.

  2. #2 Eric Lund
    February 22, 2008

    But now, the traffic is crazy. My wife and I went on a trip and couldn’t find a city more messed up than Seattle.

    Quite aside from the irony of a developer making this complaint, I doubt his traveling was all that extensive. Just considering cities I have visited in the last ten years, I’d say all of the following have worse traffic than Seattle: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, London, Beijing, Munich. I’m sure there are many others, which I didn’t list because I have not been there (or been lucky enough to avoid traffic problems there).

    Disclaimer: I haven’t been to the Eastside in a long time. Of course, this guy was probably one of the people responsible for making the Eastside what it is today.

  3. #3 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 22, 2008

    How about Vancouver, BC?
    Where did he travel – Boise?

  4. #4 Dave Bacon
    February 22, 2008

    Avoiding the Eastside is one of the great ways to love Seattle 🙂

  5. #5 Bilal
    February 22, 2008

    He should have tried driving in New Delhi’s traffic. He’d find cows, stray dogs, cycle rickshaws, autorickshaws, rickshaws that sold lemonade, bikers, two-wheelers of all kinds, crazy bus drivers, and all of this in hmmmm…120 F temperatures. Ahhh…I love the traffic in L.A. It is a joy and a pleasure to drive here. 🙂

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