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Tech Q&A

Garth Sundem

Describe your latest project.
Geek Logik uses algebra to take the guesswork out of life, numerically answering questions such as "how many beers should I have at the company picnic?" "do I have a snowball's chance in hell with her?" and "should I go to the gym?" Geeks and those who tend them will appreciate the clear-cut answers to life's important questions, which allow these geeks to perform at or near societal expectations in a variety of social settings.

Have you ever taken the Geek Test? How did you rate?
I guess after writing a book called Geek Logik, I'm already out of the closet. Let's just say I know how to use an abacus and have been caught lining up empty shrimp tails along the rim of my plate.

Chess or video games?
When I was young, my dad taught at the INSEAD business school in Fontainebleau and my brother and I spent many an afternoon hiding on the grounds of the town chateau in hopes of avoiding roving bands of French schoolchildren. Once two-person soccer on the lawns was nixed (this took maybe an hour) we moved on to life-sized games of chess, played on the tile board sculpted into the chateau lawn. Soon I was hooked and I continue to enjoy a good game of chess (though Pong is a close second).

What do you do for relaxation?
I live in Bozeman, Montana, for quick access to the mountains. I've climbed and telemark skied for many years, and added trail running when I moved to town. Now, I try to plan sedentary vacations that conflict with the longer races, which I would surely have to run were I around. Lately, I've discovered a certain Zen to changing diapers at three a.m.

Douglas Adams or Scott Adams?
Working as a cruise ship musician, then composer in L.A., then writer, I've managed to avoid cubicles, living instead in various fantasylands each with only a passing resemblance to "reality." Thus, Douglas rather than Scott.

What was your favorite book as a kid?
If anybody remembers the title of this one, I'd love to know: there was a book published around 1975 about a kid's first marathon. Characters included the worldly Marathon Mike as well as various lightning-throwing imps (Blistering Bertha, etc.) who tried to stop the kid at every mile. I'm sure my favorite was actually Where the Wild Things Are or something in the litany of Tolkien I pored over, but I now need the first for use in continuing the cycle of brainwashing and indoctrination.

If you could be reincarnated for one day to live the life of any scientist or writer, who would you choose and why?
I'm torn here between Descartes (because I think it would be cool to understand the world in that way) and Hunter S. Thompson (because it would kick ass). For the latter, I think a day would be enough. Also, Tom Robbins seems to have a good deal of fun, as did Richard Feynman (who, as a high school physics nerd, hooked me and led me down the dark path to geekdom).

What was your best subject in high school? Your worst?
Can I change the question to college? At Cornell, I loved the techie subjects that involved problem solving — especially physics and calculus. Unfortunately I took this figure-it-out attitude to my first Bio 101 prelim and got killed — the required hours of memorization ended my med school dreams.

What are some of the things you'd like your computer to do that it cannot now do?
I'd love it to graph in at least seven dimensions, enabling me to plot the equations from Geek Logik. I'm not sure how this would look. Also, it would be cool if you could search downloadable music by whistling a couple bars, 'cause I can never remember titles or composers, but I usually have tune snippets floating around.

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