My wife mentioned earlier today that she had mentioned my interest in the XO laptop to one of the members of her book club, a woman who is quite well known in the NY publishing industry. She learned that her friend knows both Negroponte brothers: Nicholas, the computer scientist and OLPC founder and CEO; and John, a Deputy Secretary of State and former director of the CIA. Her friend also said that I must be a “geek.”
I realized later during dinner that her friend was right. As we were recalling our recent visit to Venice, I mentioned that whenever we went from one part of Venice to the other I always first decided how many bridges we would have to cross. For example, our hotel was near the train station. So if we were going to Plaza San Marco then we would cross no bridges if we turned to the right. If we turned to the left we would cross at least two bridges, unless we went by boat, in which case we would cross none.
My wife replied she would never even think of this, and that’s when I realized I really am a geek. I confirmed this even further a few minutes later when I mentioned that visting Venice reminded me of Euler’s Seven Bridges of Konigsberg.
Then again, my geekiness was apparent when first we met. She once said that after our chance meeting she thought she would never see me again, since I had never asked for her phone number. I replied that I hadn’t needed to ask for her phone number, for I had learned during our conversation that one of her roommates was a fellow student at the Courant Institute, NYU’s graduate school of mathematics. I thus knew that I could find her phone number just by asking her roommate for her phone number, since the numbers must be the same. I then went on to explain that this was an example of what is called a “lemma,” an intermediate result that simplifies getting things done in mathematics, and thus began my wife’s education in living with a geek.