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Vintage Outlandish!

This Content From 2003 (or earlier) see index


Nate "Dr. Octogon" Gelbard fully engaged and on the run. This photo jacked from spek.org

Zetan Drableg

I met Nate back in early 1999 when I was just getting involved with my dot-commie adventures (that's a whole 'nother story, I'll tell it later). I think my first non-email contact with him was a very early morning phone call to get a simple database fix. I was 8am in NYC, so he'd gotten up at 5:00 (he lived in Portland) to field my call. At this point I was a complete wet noodle of a geek: no real knowledge of gnu/linux, some basic perl and html skills, etc. I still feel kind of bad about that.

Anyway, I worked with Nate over the ensuing years. He was kind of the elder statesman of the working collective (called grawk.net) and really helped me get my hands dirty with tech as well as helping me understand a little more about business and life in general. He and I both really dig William Gibson, and I once gave him the nickname "Dr Octogon", not in reference to the Kool Kieth album (though I'm sure that I'd heard of it and it put the language in my head), but because of the protagonist in Neuromancer's prediliction for octogon-shaped doses of speed. Not because Nate's a speedfreak (that's me: see here), but because it just fit.

He stared at the black ring of grounds in his empty cup. It was vibrating with the speed he'd taken. The brown laminate of the table top was dull with a patina of tiny scratches. With the dex mounting through his spine he saw the countless random impacts required to create a surface like that.

I always think of that bit when I think of Nate. He still lives in Portland and I try to hang with him every time I pass thorugh town. He plays a mean bass, hacks old mainframes bought at auction, builds grassroots wireless networks, and to top it all off his Uncle was the US Ambassador to Indonesia (recently retired and wrestling with his cablemodem, nate tells me).

I asked him one time how it is that we got suckered into this line of work (tech). He had the best answer I've heard in a while: Food, Shelter, Heat, Sex. He told me he was biting a piece off of Maslow, but I thought it was pretty zen anyway. Nate's one of the Good Guys. You can check his stuff out at www.enet2u.com or maybe pdxwireless.

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Trips in Space and Time 8/02/03

Big Wheels in Berkeley
I scored a set of west-coast wheels today at the Ashby BART station flea market. It's a very tall schwinn road bike, black, deceptively heavy but smooth-riding. Thirty-five dollars to boot. I oiled and cleaned the works, dialed in the bakes and took it out for a shake-down cruise immediately. Nice riding on a beautiful saturday, realizing how out of shape I am as I wheezed my way though the hilly area behind the Berkeley campus.

After about an hour I started to get the swing of it. Made some minor mechanical adjustments (including a free wheel truing at the bike collective on Shattuck), drank a few liters of water and started finding my groove, cruising up and around and ending up with a beautiful view of the whole bay. The roads here are not kind to the speed inclined -- too many stop signs and crosswalks and lights -- but it was good to get out and proj for a while. This changes my summer dramatically.

...older trips...


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