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04.20.11 · Southern Hospitality

I left DC yesterday morning, and headed south towards I-95. Traffic was miserable for about an hour; suddenly, it all cleared up. That seemed to be a watershed, because after that point, the roads have been better, the drivers have been better, the climate’s been warmer, and I’ve been enjoying myself more. I’ve spent most of my life in the Northeast; I didn’t expect the South to be so different. It’s much warmer, for one. It’s hard to put a finger on the differences - but everything seems to be operating at a lower frequency; less hectic, more predictable. I like it.

I met up with Jake Parrish in Richmond, VA, for a quick pit stop. We filled up my tank and got some food, then I continued south to Raleigh, NC, to meet up with Jake’s brother, David Parrish. Jake and David are both web developers - they showed me some of their work, and I was impressed. If you need a slick site, check out what they have to offer at UpgradeYa!

Back when I met Llama at MIT, he asked me if I liked Bitcoin for its technology, economics, or politics. I had to answer “all three,” but I lean a little bit to the political side of the table. David and Jake do too, so we spent some entertaining hours talking about the political implications of anonymous digital cash. David showed me a podcast called ‘Cypherpunkd’ - this just launched, and it looks to have a lot of potential. If you’re interested in bitcoin politics too, you should definitely take a look.

Tonight I’m going to meet some couchsurfers who use Bitcoin. Apparently they’re having a electronic music show tonight, so I’ll try and get some video. Developer jgarzik is rumored to live around the Raleigh area as well, so I’m hoping to get in touch with everyone, and set up the first Raleigh Bitcoin Meetup this Friday night (4/22.)

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04.14.11 · Goodbye, Union College

Day 6. 365 miles travelled.

After leaving MIT on Monday, I hit I-90 West. In an effort to improve gas mileage, I tossed on a podcast (Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History), ticked along in the right lane at 55mph, and ignored everyone behind me. In a successful attempt to emasculate me, a neon green SmartCar blew by my Pontiac, leaning on his horn. Under normal circumstances I would have hit the gas, accellerated to somewhere north of eighty mph, and leapfrogged him to assuage my pride - but this #BitcoinRoadtrip is pretty far from normal. I’ve got 537 bitcoins, and I want them to last as long as possible. That means hypermiling!

I pulled off at a rest stop to check my fluids and take a quick nap.  I discovered that my car’s not really conducive to sleeping, since it’s pretty packed and there’s no room for the seats to recline. Cramped but otherwise refreshed, I continued to Union College.

Union’s a fun place and I know a lot of people there. I met up with various friends on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, attempting to convince various skeptical parties that Bitcoin was the Next Big Thing. I wanna give a shoutout to Jim Walker, for his contribution to help me buy my camera - thanks dude! (Incidentally, anyone want to proxy buy this data cable for me so I can get pics off it?) Also, I placed a 5BTC bet on a chess game with my friend Parker. It was remarkably close for half an hour, but I ended up finally losing due to my weak endgame.

Thursday morning, I drew up some advertisements on my whiteboard, and sat in the campus center. As people walked by, I asked ‘Wanna learn about a new kind of money?’ About one in four were interested enough to hear my elevator pitch.

I moved on to the Electrical Engineering department, to give a brief seminar on Bitcoins. Turnout was maybe twenty people, evenly split between faculty and students. I talked for half an hour about how the network is set up, and the mechanics of transaction processing and blocks, then moved on to all the interesting projects that the community has created. To my chagrin, I learned just how easy it is to get bogged down in the technical details, but in the end it seemed that most people got what they came for.

Leaving Union, I drove south to my parents’ house near Newburgh, NY. I’ll stay here Thursday night, then drive to NYC Friday evening. @BruceWagner has offered to put me up for a night and pay for parking - TIA!

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04.11.11 · The Illustrious Llama of MIT

[Backdated, written on 04.13 - PLATO]

Day 3. 165 miles travelled.

I spent a relaxed Saturday night with my former college roommates in Quincy. Sunday morning, we made some delicious pancakes, then headed to a mediocre beach. After receiving many admonishments to ‘not die’, I bid my friends farewell, and started driving to Cambridge. This was only my second experience with Boston traffic.  It was far better than New York, but I can’t imagine how hellish it must have been before the $15 billion Big Dig tunnels.

I found my way to the MIT campus and got in touch with “Llama”. After a quick tour of campus, we went back to his dorm room and proceeded to talk shop. Llama’s quite the entrepreneur. As a freshman, he’s already running a successful business, Qugelmatic Books on Ebay. (They accept Bitcoins!) He’s also the co-creator of BitMail, with “Lachesis” - a handy way to introduce people to Bitcoin. We ate a delicious dinner at Llama’s fraternity (rice pilaf, tender chicken and biscuits.) I slept on his couch, lulled by the sound of a dual-5870 mining rig humming away in the corner.

The next day, I tagged along to Llama’s e-mag class. My e-mag knowledge is pretty patchy to begin with, and I was somewhat skeptical of the c’s that appeared out of nowhere due to MIT’s use of the cgs unit system, so I got lost. But, I was pretty impressed that the professor was one of the founders of WiTricity.

I just bought half a tank of gas for 30btc from Llama, and said goodbye. I’m heading to my alma mater, Union College, about four hours west along I-90. I expect to give a talk about Bitcoins for my EE department sometime midweek. I know a lot of people in Schenectady, which should make this week one of the easiest of my trip - after I’m south of NYC, it’s going to be more difficult, because I know very few people IRL.

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