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An Unexpected Encounter

Joel Runyon was working on his computer at a coffee shop when he met an elderly man. As they were chatting, the man said people should do things that have never been done before. The next part of the conversation took Runyon by surprise.

“In fact, I’ve done lots of things that haven’t been done before”, he said half-smiling.

Oh really? Like what types of things?, All the while, half-thinking he was going to make up something fairly non-impressive.

I invented the first computer.

Um, Excuse me?

I created the world’s first internally programmable computer. It used to take up a space about as big as this whole room and my wife and I used to walk into it to program it.

What’s your name?”. I asked, thinking that this guy is either another crazy homeless person in Portland or legitimately who he said he was.

“Russell Kirsch”

And it was, indeed, Russell Kirsch. The meeting left Runyon behind in his work, but glad that he took the opportunity to listen to a stranger in a coffee shop. Read the story of how a chance encounter turned into a chance of a lifetime at the Blog of Impossible Things. Link -via Ed Yong

Runyon received a lot of feedback on his story about meeting Kirsch, so he did a followup article called 7 Things I Learned From My Encounter With Russell Kirsch. Link

(Image credit: Paul Runyon)


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From one of the links: If every time you meet a person with a different viewpoint than you and all you want to do is tell them how stupid they are, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Something that many people commenting on blogs on the net should heed! I hope to remember to cite this the next time it happens here on ntorama.
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