Thursday, October 07, 2004

Crossed wires

I decided to have a cup of coffee, sit in the sun, and read another chapter of Rapid Development after lunch. So I walked to the Free Speech Movement Cafe in the center of campus, sat, and spent a pleasant 45 minutes or so sipping and reading and thinking.

As I walked to the cafe, though, the Campanille played one of its usual lunch songs, and something in the back of my head insisted the tune was familiar. It took a minute or two, but as I came near the cafe, I realized that it sounded an awful lot like one of the theme songs from Tetris Attack, a game which was often played in the dorm where I lived for my last two years as an undergraduate. One of my flat mates at the time made up words for the tune, which went something like:

Killer crabs are coming to get you.
They do not like you.
They want to eat you.
They are the killer crabs.

If the words sound inane, consider that at the time, most of the composer's attention was directed toward not getting squashed.

While I stood in line, I thought about how often this type of mental criss-crossing happens to me. The first few times I heard FSM Cafe I thought of Finite State Machines rather than the Free Speech Movement; I still sometimes get confused when someone says NDA and means Non-Disclosure Agreement instead of Non-Deterministic Automata; depending on the conversation, ROM can mean Reduced Order Model or Read-Only Memory; and when looking through the Springer sale books earlier in the week, I confused myself immensely -- not for the first time -- by reading DFT as Discrete Fourier Transform where the author meant Density Functional Theory.

I wonder how confused I'd get if I worked for the government?