Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

So I'm walking down the Promenade, a three-block-long open-air mall near where I work, that has the audacity to have a Fatburger at the wrong end. I'm on my way there and taking in the sights.

The Promenade is odd in that it amounts to a mini-LA, with each oddity from the Land of Oddities stuffed into a too-small space. It feels sort of surreal, and you'll see things there that really shouldn't be that close together.

Nattily dressed Nation of Islam pamphleteers mix with mohawked and body-pierced punkers who mix with homeless, legless vets who mix with the beautiful people who mix with frazzled tech-nerds blinking in the sun who mix with bewildered tourists who mix with groups of wheel- chair-bound oldsters who mix with the odd-balls that bring their particular abilities out in public and try to make a buck with 'em.

These last range from one guy that simply holds up a sign that says "No Talent" to a grizzled and raspy-throated bluesman to a string quartet from CalArts to a bag-pipe player in full Scottish regalia, wailing away.

I'm half a block away when I first hear him, and my initial impression is that somebody is torturing cats in front of a loudspeaker. People walking toward me are either smiling and covering their ears or grimacing and covering their ears.

As I get closer, yes, indeed, it's bag-pipes, and yes, indeed, it's a guy in a kilt and yes, indeed, those damned things are loud. Just the reputation of a people that call that music and haggis food would be enough to drive off most enemies, even if they did run away giggling at the skirts.

Half an hour later, on my way back, it's quiet and two cops are standing next the the bag-pipe player, showing him the "Public Disturbance" section in their code book.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is I'd love to hear from you!

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