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After Christmas, but before I really got sick, and spent all day lying in bed (a sleeping bag at the time), I got to see Angela and Christine. We had dinner at Aurelio's, a pretty nice (and I'd say authentic) Mexican restaurant up by the old hospital. After dinner, we took Angela's car back along Witherspoon towards Nassau St. I was worried that Infini-T would be closed for the holiday, but it was open, and there was a parking spot right across from the library. We we went in and a staff member seated us. In the past few years, getting seated and handed menus is a new thing; I still haven't figured out if it's only on special occasions.

While the staff were out of earshot--or maybe they didn't care--Christine and Angela complained about the name Infini-T. Yeah, it's pretty goofy. But I like everything else about the place.

They had seated us towards the middle of the room, close to the counter. After we had ordered, Christine looked over at the pile of games nearby.

"Can we play these games?" she asked.

"Yeah," I said, recalling all the conversations with Zarrar or Angela that took place there with chess matches or toppling Jenga towers in the background.

Christine brought over the Jenga box. Angela had never played before. Even I was less familiar with good strategies than I'd initially thought. Fifth grade after school program was farther back than I thought.

In a Jenga set is a bunch of identical oblong, rectangular blocks. Here's the normal way to play: To set up, stack them in layers three wide, each layer's blocks rotated at right angles from each other.

Then the players slide out a block from somewhere except the very top of the stack. In other words, they remove part of the supporting structure and they place it on top of the tower. During that process, if a player knocks over all or part of the tower, they lose.

We weren't keeping track of the score, though. Christine did pretty well. Angela was obviously the newcomer, but she had some surprising turns. After the tower fell over a few times, we tried twitching to a non-standard structure. It ended up being a pretty ill-conceived effort, but by then it was almost time to go.

While we were trying out our custom Jenga format, Christine asked, "If you could go back in time to high school and take different classes, what classes would you take?"

I take speculation like this pretty seriously. Christine does too, but it was easier for her to answer. She'd have taken more Computer Science classes. Back then, she should that since technology changed so quickly, they'd get obsolete really quickly.

But I know that's not true. I don't use QBASIC, and I've hardly ever more than looked at C++ over the past few years, but the CS classes I took in high school really set me for life. Even though anyone can begin to learn to program at any age, my long, long familiarity with programming has given me a permanent advantage. Whenever I want to brush up on my skills, or learn a new skill in programming or tech, my background familiarity gives me an edge.

Angela's turn seemed like it was about to be an ordeal at first, but the block ended coming out easily. She gently placed a block on top of the the custom Jenga temple. Miraculously, it stayed.

My turn next. I nudged an inconspicuous block from the side of the temple. It seemed like a freebee; nothing seemed to be leaning on it. But it was too late--the whole structure was wobbling as I slowly pulled it off. The rule we had settled on was once you touched a block, you had to go ahead and remove it. I had touched and thus was bound to remove the hidden cornerstone of cornerstones.

Two decoratively placed colonnades toppled from the top.

"Um, let's say you don't lose unless more than five blocks fall," offered Christine.

Another block fell.

"You're still in-bounds," Christine said. "It's still possible."

I maneuvered the block slowly and hopefully. Okay. Okay.

In an instant, the whole temple lurched to the side, and Christine caught it before the pile could clatter onto the tabletop and scatter all over.

"Yeah, we'll call it here," she said.

Angela nodded and blew her nose.

"Yup," I said. While you are building, and even when it's done, the nature of the structure may look obvious. But hard to tell what is supporting what unless you actually measure. An inconspicuous, extraneous piece might be some kind of hidden ur-foundation.

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