"Always bet on Landry"

John Landry has started a new blog, Dog's Breakfast. John's a former CTO of Lotus and has built quite a few companies of his own. This guy know the business.

And he's not some stuffed shirt, he's a hardcore geek, and I mean that in the best possible way. When I met him for the first time, he was actually familiar with my work on Notes Formula Language. And he pointed out I made it Turing complete. Very cool. How many big time executives even know what that means?

Not only that, at a design review meeting he quite quickly pointed the weaknesses of the architecture we were developing, the same stuff we had been dancing around for months. Very sharp guy.

And a sly guy too. A few years ago at a holiday party we did a Yankee Gift Swap. The rules of the Yankee Swap are simple. You bring a gift, you pull a number out of a hat to determine the picking order. The rule is, you can take anyone else's gift who picked before you, or you can pick an unopened gift. If you take someone elses gift, they have to pick an unopened one. The game is strongly rigged for the player who gets to choose last, since they can see all the gifts (except one unopened one) and no one can take their gift away.

Being the paragon of intellectualism and creativity that I am, I brought a Clapper. You better believe it was the gift to have, changing hands many times during the course of the game. Having the Clapper is like living in a futuristic wonder world.

Landry had last pick, getting his choice of any gift. Naturally he chose the Clapper, and a palpable feeling of envy welled up in the room as he paraded about with the greatest technological achievement know to man. The rich get richer. And more Clappers.

The following year at the same party, we did the same Yankee Swap. I didn't bring the Clapper this time (I'm not made of money you know), but someone else did. It looked suspiciously like the one I brought the previous year. Hmmmmm. And who had the last pick in the Yankee Swap? Why one Mr. John Landry. Hmmmmm. And he chose [drumroll] the Clapper. Hmmmmm.

Now getting last pick in a Yankee swap 2 years in a row, that seemed a little unlikely. I asked the person in charge of the number hat (who I generally believed to be trustworthy, I miss you Jen!) was there anything, eh, amiss in the number selection process? No, nothing she knows of. I used my most intense I-know-somethings-going-on glare to see if she'd crack. Nothing, she appeared to be telling the truth. Or perhaps not intimidated by me. Hmmmmm.

Still, I was convinced it was fixed, I just didn't know how. I pursued further, discreetly asking about if anyone saw anything suspicious earlier, like a Ninja milling about the hat or a device that makes fake Yankee swap numbers? Nothing. Hmmmmm.

Finally as the party was winding down, defeated, I asked Landry directly how did he get the last pick two years in a row?

He'd smiled wryly and said "Always bet on Landry."

Posted November 4, 2005 6:24 PM