It is the [unexpected] gratitude from people you respect that makes a [stubborn] Bulldog feels best!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/09/10 03:01 -04:00, original URI:

It turns out everybody knew.

Rick McGowan had sent me mail a few days ago asking if I would definitely be at the Internationalization and Unicode Conference. I said yes to do my talk. I mean of course I did, I promised I would do the Behind the Proposed Change to Tamil in Unicode talk, and I'm not the sort to break promises....

He persisted, asking if I was attending the whole conference.

Now it was my vacation time, but on a Mon-Wed in San Jose I doubted I'd have much else to do, so I said I'd try. :-)

Then on Monday I night I went out to dinner with some conference friends (I remember a conversation at dinner where I explained that for me it was always the unexpected gratitude from people you respected that felt best, apropos of something we were talking about but I thought no further about it), and then later stayed up to do some work. Yes technically I was on vacation, but it was interesting and I was making progress.

In bed by about 5:30am, it hadn't occurred to me that I had pulled an all-nighter until I looked at the clock!

I got up at about 8:30am Tuesday morning, checked email, and then got in the shower.

No hurry -- I knew that the conference was starting at 9:00am, but I had been up all night and I'd be down before the keynote was over.

Who was gonna notice?

Famous last words!

Just after 9:00am, Magda Danish calls my room, and asks me if I am coming downstairs.

"Sure," I explained, "soon."

"Could you come down right away? We need you."

I agreed, and as I was getting dressed I worried a bit.

Was I in trouble?

Well, I knew I was from a mail I had gotten 12 hours and 12 minutes prior. But that was for other stuff, not from folks working for Unicode!

I put on my İ şéè đêäđ ķéÿš shirt -- hey, I am on vacation, remember?

Time to face the music.

No sense putting off a trip to the dentist.

And then after running out of cliches on facing the inevitable, I decide to head downstairs.

I scoot toward the door, slowing down as I neared, and Magda is frantically gesturing to me to come in.

I now have no idea what was going on, whatsoever.

Then I hear Rick talking into a microphone and a minute later a picture taken of me last month from Murray's house at a UTC party of me wearing the same shirt and suddenly I know what is going on.

I am the winner of the Unicode Bulldog Award!

As described all of those years ago:

On April 2nd 1997, Rick McGowan suggested that the consortium sponsor an occasional award for "outstanding personal contributions to the philosophy and dissemination of the Unicode Standard".

In May 1997, Ken Whistler came up with the term "Bulldog" in reference to a remark made by Thomas Huxley  to Henry Fairfield Osborn, in the mid 1870's:

"You know I have to take care of him [Darwin] -- in fact, I have always been Darwin's bull dog.

Three months later,  at the Eleventh International Unicode Conference, Mark Davis introduced the award for the first time. He said:

There are many people whose dedication and perseverance has helped to bring the future of Unicode even closer. To recognize such achievement, we have created a new Unicode award, to be given to those tenacious champions of Unicode who have produced solid achievements in promoting its use around the globe. This award is called the Bulldog Award; once these guys bite, they never let go!

Rick then said some very nice things and I accepted the award that I think I was too dazed to remember (I'll wait till hey update the Bulldog page to find out for sure -- I now know why Oscar winners forget stuff in their speeaches!) and then Magda helped me take it to pack up in the box.

Throughout the day people congratulated me and I spent the day feeling pretty pleased. In the words of Frank Burns, it's nice to be nice to the nice.

Though obviously I was mistaken (could not have been more wrong, in fact!) about no one noticing if I was a few minutes late coming down, it was fun joking that the reason I was late was that I had to let them take the picture of me first! :-)

All day long people were asking me if I knew beforehand, and I told various shortenings of the above -- I had no idea.

At the Unicode trivia quiz I won $20, and afterward Rick admitted to me that there was pretty fast consensus about the idea on the Unicode Officers List. And then at dinner I found out from Peter Constable that he had also known for a few days and he seemed slightly amused that I had no idea.

I guess stubborn and clueless aren't mutually exclusive terms. :-)

But it really is always the unexpected gratitude from people you respect that feels best.

And I'm really looking forward to the Behind the Proposed Change to Tamil in Unicode talk tomorrow -- a tale of Unicode and language and politics and technical issues and linguistics and romance and anger and a job offer and a [veiled] death threat, it promises to be what I think will be 50 of the more exciting minutes of the conference!

Thanks to everyone who has ever come to me asking about a Unicode question or issue or problem or bug. You're the ones who inspire that stubborn streak in me....


This blog brought to you by 𐂍 (U+1008d, aka LINEAR B IDEOGRAM B109M BULL )

# Kim Hamilton on 10 Sep 2008 5:05 AM:

Was there doubt in anyone's mind that you're the Unicode Bulldog? :)

Congrats Michael!! It's well deserved!

(That title suits you fairly well...not to nitpick, but can we lobby for a more aggressive dog breed in the title, like Pit Bull or Rottweiler?)

# sam i am on 10 Sep 2008 5:15 AM:

i agree with kim hamilton but i think a cuter dog would be a better fit. are there any hot stubborn dogs?

# Andrew West on 10 Sep 2008 6:03 AM:

Congratulations! You deserve the award more than anyone else I can think of. Keep on mauling all those Unicode slackers!

# Mihai on 10 Sep 2008 12:33 PM:

Congratulations Michael, well deserved!!!

# Tony Toews on 10 Sep 2008 10:13 PM:

Congrats Michael.

# Sandra O'Donnell on 16 Sep 2008 4:07 PM:

Congratulations Michael! The UTC made a great choice; you have been a huge asset to the committee and to Unicode over the years. I see from the list that I was the most recent previous Bulldog, so I welcome you to the club. I do confess that I'm a bit jealous, though. My award is a plaque, while you have a fancy globe with etched crystal. I guess I should have stuck around longer.

In any case, congratulations!

# Pavanaja U B on 17 Sep 2008 12:23 AM:

Congrats Michael, you really deserve that award

Is there any Bulldog++ award? I will recommend it for you right away :)


# Meema Esguerra on 18 Sep 2008 9:53 AM:

Congratulations. ^_^

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referenced by

2008/11/08 'It's Not Easy' saying WTF to an 'Ant in Alaska'

2008/09/21 The Company Meeting, the interesting science of Forensic Typography, and what happened after

2008/09/13 One small step for me, and one big leap for Microsoft?

2008/09/12 Getting a globe through the airport

2008/09/11 The issue became moot as I decided to stand mute

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