ICPC – Brain Festival in Banff, Alberta

We were in a huge ballroom last night with 400 of the smartest college kids in the world. The event, at the Fairmont in Banff Springs, Alberta was the International Collegiate Programming Contest and it was the culmination of a year’s worth of regional contests that included something like 6,100 universities from around the world.

We were not the smartest bears in the room – by a long shot.

Tom Deluca was on the bill with us and the show just rocked. These kids had been under some heavy-duty programming pressure for the last few days and they were ready to laugh.

Most of the kids were from other countries and the final contest had the teams of 3 members try their best to solve 11 problems in 5 hours. I read through a few of the problems and just felt like crying. My brain had no ability to even understand what was required, much less attempt to find a solution.

I was happy to be a comedy juggler. Having fun with this group of kids from around the world was an utter joy. The laughs, applause, standing ovations were from the heart and cathartic.

The Flight Home

Today was the kind of travel day you would wish on your worst enemy. We were on the plane and pushed back into the launching position when an unpredicted snow storm fell onto Calgary airport (YYC). We waited for the deicing truck to find us while the snow gathered and eventually shut down the airport while we sat on the plane. They cancel the flight, pull up to the bridge, and send us BACK THROUGH CANADIAN customs and immigration since we were cleared into the U.S.A. before boarding the plane. We grabbed our luggage, checked it back in on the rescheduled flight, and went through customs and immigration to enter the U.S.A. again. I could go on, but let me put it this way – I woke up at the hotel 19 hours ago and right now I am in LA waiting on a flight back to Sacramento and then have a one hour drive home.

I keep my mind on the kids in the audience last night just to keep from going crazy.

Banff was beautiful. Breath-taking views from anywhere you happen to be standing. The Fairmont has a 32-meter lap pool which for me, is pretty much heaven. I had a nice work out the first night and 32-meters give me a nice long run at finding and honing my stroke on each lap.

Waiting at the airport we were sitting right across from the pilots. The co-pilot, Marie, was heading to Africa for a month of missionary work and she was asking us about some magic tricks. We taught her to juggle and told her to study a few magic lessons on YouTube. She was so excited to juggle.

She came on the speaker as we were landing and thanked us by name for teaching her to juggle.

At LAX we got onto a Southwest flight and I made it home around 1:00 AM and was back out the door at 1:30 AM in my van heading for a commitment that I was 7 hours late for.  I’ll wake up in the morning with the group and do some quick catch up.

Hope you all have a nice weekend [:)]   – Barry