A friend, dearly beloved not only by me but many others, turned forty yesterday and the circle of friends was quietly convened for a surprise party in the archipelago. Like champagne-toting ninjas all converged on the island cottage where the unsuspecting target was spending the day and suddenly burst into the living room, waving glasses and handing over presents. Food and drink was prepared and consumed.
A group like this, composed almost exclusively of programmers and system administrators, has its own special way of talking, not only in its choice of subjects, where the mere mention of a software version number causes meaning nods, but in the way humour is applied, in rapid slap-downs of Stupidity, egregious examples of incompetence, shortsightedness, and inefficiency displayed for the others for comment and mocking, Technical Solutions to Social Problems proposed and elaborated. With few words, tips and suggestions were traded and arcane knowledge was passed on, keeping the networks running smoothly yet a while, holding chaos at bay. I silently marvelled at this concentration of intimidatingly skilled and bright people, invisibly doing their part to keep civilization intact.
A contingent left with the last boat to the mainland, the rest continued talking yet a while, but well after midnight withdrew to berths on their boats. A final group of hardy and close friends stayed up talking and singing. My last memories are of ”Balladen om briggen Blue Bird av Hull” being sung some time around three in the morning as I lay in my sleeping bag in the loft.
A few hours later it was time for me to groggily get up and catch the first morning boat. All alone in the fresh dawn I walked the short distance through the fir copses down to the jetty, raised the semaphor to flag down the boat and sat down on the jetty to wait, squinting in the near-horizontal sunlight.
I reflected that I was on the north side of the island where the glacial ice sheets once had come and scoured the rocks smooth, on the south side the rocks would be more broken up as the ice had left the island there. So you should be able to tell compass directions by looking at how smooth the rocks are, much in the same manner as locating ant hills or where the boughs are densest on the trees.
Then came the boat that took me to the bus that took me into town.