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Week of June 25, 2000

Once upon a time there was a guy with the same name. This guy with the same name had just finished high school, where he had simultaneously been class valedictorian, captain of the football team, captain of the basketball team, student body president, the apple of every teacher's eye, a straight A student, the handsomest guy in the school, and the only guy in town with a Maserati.

He'd also had sixteen girls on his ordinary date list which he somehow managed to cycle through twice a month and still have one weekend off, and of these sixteen girls, fourteen considered themselves pinned by him, and as for the rest of the hundreds of girls in his school, they were all ready to swoon and jump and do lots of other nice things all over him anytime at all, just like the lucky sixteen and even luckier fourteen got to do.

In short, the guy with the same name had everything - and therefore nothing. And so he would often drop off into deep thought with no warning, right in the middle of a double chili cheeseburger extra onions extra cheese, sitting in his Maserati under the balmy California evening skies with one of his lucky sixteen or even luckier fourteen, and he'd dream of far away places, far far far away places, and it would take a lot of jumping and swooning and other nice things to bring him back to his Maserati and his double chili cheeseburger again. And so it should come as no surprise that immediately upon graduation, this guy with the same name would leave home, leave his lucky sixteen and even luckier fourteen, and leave his Maserati in search for the meaning of life.

His search led him to far away places, and then to even farther away places, until he'd even reached the really far far far away places, and he searched in this way for the meaning of life, completely lost to the world around him, until one day after many years he somehow turned up at the huge monastery in Llasa. He knocked on what back home would be called a door.

'Do you have any rooms available here?'

'Do you have American Express?'

'Yes I do.'

'Come right in.'

It smelled really bad in that monastery, because the monks used butter for fuel, and burned butter smells terrible. He was taken through a wing to what back home would be called a room, with something which back home would be called a bed and something else which back home would be called a window.

And so the guy with the same name would wake every morning at 4:30 AM, have what back home would be called breakfast, and then come back to his room and stare out the window all morning until it was time for what back home would be called lunch. And after lunch he'd come back to his room and stare out the window all afternoon until it was time for what back home would be called dinner. And so he started climbing the walls.

'I need to have something to do.'

'You're paying for room and board, that's all you get.'

'Yes, but the boredom is driving me nuts.'

'Welcome to the club.'

'Couldn't I partake in your rituals or something?'

'Not on your limited line of credit, no.'

'Isn't there something I could do? Anything?'

The monk disappeared and came back holding two very dirty bells with greasy wooden handles.

'We need someone to do this.'

'Do what?'

'Wake us up in the morning of course. The girl who used to do this flew home to Georgia last week.'

'Hey, ok, cool, yeah I can do that.'

'That'll be an extra two hundred a week.'

'It'll be what?'

'You're paying for room and board. Ringing the bells is extra.'

'I pay you two hundred a week for the privilege of waking you up?'

'That's correct.'

And so the guy with the same name started making the rounds at 5:00 AM, waking up all the monks in his wing of the monastery. He'd walk into each room, hold the bells by their ears on either side of their shaved skulls, and then bang away until they sat up in bed, and then he'd move to the next room, and so forth, until he'd finished the entire wing, and then he'd have his breakfast and come back to his room and stare out the window all morning until it was time for lunch. So he still climbed the walls, and he was two hundred dollars a week poorer to boot.

This went on for about a month until one afternoon when he was sitting in his room watching what back home would be called a sunset he got a knock on what back home would be called the door.

'Your credit card's been canceled. Got any cash?'

'My credit card's been canceled?'

'Yes, sorry. We got the new lists this morning. Got any cash?'

'Oh goodness. No, I don't have any cash. What happens now?'

'Now you pack your bags.'

And so the guy with the same name packed his bags and walked out of what back home would be called a monastery and down into the capital city and across Tibet, and he kept walking until he finally crossed a border, and he kept on walking until he'd crossed yet another border and another and another, he kept walking until he found someone who knew where what back home would be called an embassy and could drive him there, and then he got a plane ticket and flew back home.

And he still hadn't found the meaning of life.

It was now the guy with the same name met another guy with the same name, and this other guy with the same name worked for a major well known computer company and liked to tinker with computers and circuit boards and stuff like that, and as mainframes were too bulky to take home, he started buying these computer hobby kits they'd started coming out with, they didn't do much but who cared, they were a lot of fun to tinker with.

And the first guy said to the second guy, 'hey let's make a complete turnkey computer with a keyboard and everything, and let's sell it to the general populace and make lots of money.' He was getting close to finding the meaning of life.

And the second guy said, 'yeah, and I could design it too.'

'Exactly, just what I'd thought,' said the first guy.

And so it was agreed. But they had no money and they had no place to build their turnkey computers, and so the first guy with the same name went to his neighbor and asked to borrow his empty garage for a while, and of course the neighbor said ok, and then he went to his father who'd canceled his American Express credit card and asked to borrow five hundred dollars cash, and to his surprise he got it, and right about then these two guys with the same name met a third guy without the same name, and this third guy was good at marketing and other business stuff and so they became a company.

And within one year these three guys had turned that five hundred dollars into twenty five million dollars, and that set some kind of record. No one had ever made so much money so fast from so little, no one, ever. Not resting on their laurels, they immediately began planning a follow up.

'We'll call this one '][',' said the first guy with the same name.

'We'll call it what?' said the other two.

'']['', he said. 'It's the Roman numerals for 2 but it's not. It'll be cooler this way, it'll be really cool.'

And it was really cool. And it had never been done before, anywhere, ever. And so they set to work again on their ][ computer. And when they were finished, on the very night before they were to begin shipping, the first guy with the same name suddenly had another idea.

'Do you know what we really need for our ][ computer?' he asked his colleagues.

'No, what?' the other two asked.

'We need a soft sectoring floppy drive.'

'We need a what?' asked the third guy.

'A soft sectoring floppy drive,' said the second guy with the same name knowingly.

And the second guy with the same name proceeded to explain it all to the third guy without the same name while the first guy with the same name followed along, nodding silently and smiling mirthfully to himself. And when the second guy finally got the idea across to the third guy, they all dropped straight away into a very deep blue study.

After a great while the second guy with the same name jumped to his feet and shouted out.

'I know! I know! I know!' he shouted out.

'You do?' asked the other two.

'Yes!' he said, triumphantly. 'I still got my keys to my old office! That company is bound to have some kind of book lying around in some storage room somewhere that explains how you do this soft sectoring stuff! I'll just steal back there tonight and find it!'

'But we're shipping first thing tomorrow morning!' protested the third guy without the same name.

But it was too late. The second guy with the same name was out the door and gone.

And later that night, under the cover of darkness, the second guy with the same name stole back into his old office using the keys he'd never returned, and using a pocket flashlight to get around in the dark, he found this big old dank storage room full of dusty books and stuff, and sure enough, he found what he was looking for: a Shugart manual on setting up soft sectoring floppy drives.

And several hours later, after he'd thumbed through most of the 1600 pages of the manual, he finally put it aside and said to himself, 'that has got to be the biggest pile of do-do I have ever read in my life!'

And so he started typing away in assembler. And in the morning, back at the factory, he met up with his business associates and he told them:

'Well it's finished, but I think something's wrong!'

'Why do you think that?' asked the other two.

'Because it was too easy!' he told them.

And so they tested it, and nothing was wrong at all, it worked fine, it worked perfectly. In three hundred lines of assembler the second guy with the same name had succeeded in accomplishing what in all likelihood Shugart could not. History was being written.

And so the ][ computer shipped with a soft sectoring floppy drive, and the success of this product surpassed even the success of their first, and the second guy went off to Berkeley to enroll under an assumed name, where he heard his teachers bad mouthing him day after day, and their company grew even bigger than before, and they all lived happily ever after.

And the first guy with the same name later admitted to himself that he'd finally found the meaning of life.

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