In Texas we have deer like other states have squirrels. Yes, everything really is bigger in Texas. I had lived in Texas for 9 years or so, and had never once hit one. Most people have at least one deer-collision story, so I considered myself lucky. I left my house in Austin late on December 31, and hit two deer at the same time as I left the city. Was that an omen?
My car was so crammed with stuff that I probably couldn't have fit a toaster in it, unless I wanted it on my lap. I had a long drive ahead of me, but was so excited that my thoughts over a background of road noise kept me entertained.
On Tuesday night my friend Brian and I tried out a new restaurant in Tokyo. An Izakaya is a tiny bar that also serves food, popular with Salarymen. Usually the food is huddled way over on the unhealthy end of the spectrum, but we found a macrobiotic one with good reviews. We sat there bemoaning how difficult it is to find places in Tokyo. Streets don't have names and the address system is a bit confusing. The conversation moved on to talking about how difficult it is to express a location to someone. GPS coordinates are awkward, google maps links can't be sent by SMS or over the phone, and not everywhere has an address. Even some addresses are confusing enough that they get miscommunicated. And how do you concisely give someone the exact location for "that bridge in the middle of the park"?
Is there a better way, we wondered? Could a location be expressed in just a short string of characters?
As I walked home, my mind was churning trying to figure out just how short of a string I could pack any location on earth into. As soon as I got home I visited wolframalpha.com, using it for a legitimate purpose for the very first time.