meeting a mentor, episode IV: senocular

Oh, my planning for the fateful meeting of minds began many moons before it saw the light of day. In November 2011, I saw a post on Lambda the Ultimate about a way to get travel support to go to POPL ‘12. I write a few convincing paragraphs about why I’m qualified to go, and hear back in the affirmative a few weeks later. Primarily, I did this as part of my scheme to meet senocular one day, but there were other motivations such as PL being an interesting research area.

One might ask: why would POPL have anything to do with this six-eyed character? Well, it just-so-happened that a single talk at the conference was being given by none other than Aseem Rastogi, erstwhile intern of Avik Chaudhuri, who worked at Adobe. At the conference, I arranged a “coincidental” run-in with Avik and spoke with him about his/Aseem’s paper on type inference in AS.

Fast forward a few months, and I hear from Avik that he wants me to work on research that will hopefully find its way into future versions of ActionScript. I hang up the phone and/or finish reading the email, laugh maniacally, and then pet the evil cat sitting on my armchair. Now I only need to wait.

Adobe headquarters in San Jose

Summer arrives, and I show up at the Adobe HQ in San Jose. I immediately set up a meeting with someone at the SF office, but senocular is onto my game and crowds the other guy’s calendar, forcing me to reschedule far into the future. A couple weeks later, another opportunity arises: my manager wants me to talk to someone working at Adobe SF. Avik is coming along, so he’s in charge of scheduling the thing. Unfortunately, he doesn’t request the meeting until the day before we are to meet.

I’m eating breakfast in downtown San Jose on the morning of the meeting. It’s a large waffle with strawberries and whipped cream on top. I’ve been sending emails back and forth with Avik arranging our train ride to San Francisco, and suddenly I notice a response from our man in the SF office: he’s out of the office that day, so we won’t be able to meet with him. I throw my fork down along with a $100 bill, which should cover the cost of the waffle. Thankfully, it’s close enough to the train’s departure time that Avik has already left for the station and he doesn’t sync his Adobe email with his phone. He has no idea that the meeting has been called off.

I board the train and find Avik, pretending that I’m preparing for the non-existant meeting. The ride to the SF office is uneventful and we soon step into the entrance of the 601 Townsend building. I’m walking through the badge-checking gate as I do everyday in SJ, but this time an alarm sounds. I’ve been caught. SJ interns don’t have access to the SF building. Thankfully, I’ve seen the lobby scene of The Matrix, so I knew what to do. I was reaching into my trenchcoat when the guard told me that he had reconfigured my access credentials to let me into the SF office too.

Adobe offices in San Francisco

We enter one of the Flash Runtime workrooms, and Avik’s email inbox informs him that the meeting is off. Not wanting to waste a trip, he finds two colleagues and we begin discussing confidential stuff. Now I have to find a way to get out of a meeting that seems like it’s going to last all day. The meeting continues through lunch at the cafeteria, where I spot one Thibault Imbert and three people from academia (including @alltom and Rob Morris). No sign of senocular. After lunch, the meeting continues in the workroom. I let Trevor know that I’m in the building, and he responds by letting me know where his desk is located. I still need to get out of the meeting, so I arrange a clever stunt that is too clever to reveal online. I walk out of the workroom and head to his section of the building.

Finally, it seems the end is in sight: I’m about to meet the new master of Flash, volume 4. I arrive at his desk, and the rest is history.

senocular’s take:

And it was no easy task for KillRon. Not only did he have to finagle his way into an internship at Adobe, but he had to convince his superiors to let him work out of a different office (SF) for a day. THEN, even though he was just a few yards away in a nearby room once he made it into said office, I forced him to trudge his way over to my desk because I was too lazy to even meet him halfway.

Note: some aspects of this story have been fictionalized into more exciting scenarios, like the $100 bill and the trenchcoat. But I really did meet senocular, whom I’d known online for years and respect as a friend and mentor.