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beyond the Kuiper Belt, over the sea

Archive for June, 2009

How to tell a story

Friday, June 26th, 2009

I’m not a storyteller, Stella, but I impersonate one and that is almost as good. Storytelling is an intimate art, practiced between people who know each other well, and I’ve known some great ones, a sculptor named Joe O’Connell and my great-uncle Lew Powell and the late Chet Atkins. Chet was a true storyteller. He blanched at the thought of doing it onstage, but when he drove you around in his pickup truck, he’d tell a whole string of stories, some of them ribald, about Nashville stars and he’d imitated their voices beautifully and he embroidered the stories beautifully and, listening to him, I just sat and laughed and wished we’d drive forever.

Garrison Keillor is great.


Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Of all the people in the lab whose native language is not English, only one* speaks an Indo-European language (German).  We have:

  • Turkish
  • Finnish
  • Tamil
  • Chinese (I’m not certain what specific languages Xin and Wei speak)

* I say this a bit preemptively; I’m not certain what Dhaval’s native language is.  I had assumed it’s something Dravidian.

Progress Report

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

From halfway through Dracula: Abraham Van Helsing is the biggest Mary Sue I’ve come across in recent literary memory.  Geez.  “You forget that I am a lawyer as well as a doctor.”  Yes, thank you, I wasn’t certain you were a Mary Sue when you shared a name with the author of the work you’re in, and were the one dude who knew entirely what was going on.

At long last

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Well, I’ve done it: I’ve brought my concertina to the session.  And I could not have picked a better day; small, small, only three others there, and all the nicest of folks.  Two I know well, one I’ve just met.  And so, I played.  Not a tune, but a song, and it was lovely; I played well, with some minor slips, but all-in-all acquitted myself quite well.

Soon, I will get Rocky Road to Dublin down, and have a tune I can contribute.

iPython as your default shell

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

At the request of Ultranurd, allow me to explain my new shell set up.

I’m sick of bash.  The syntax is absurd, and absurd syntax makes me sad. So I’ve just recently set up iPython as my shell. What follows are the relevant config files and some explanation. (more…)

Brain Dump

Monday, June 15th, 2009

I finally finished Silas Marner; pleasantly written, but thin.  Not much there there.

I made great spanakopita this weekend, and biked, and hiked, and played frisbee.  I was productive, too—I achieved in 2 hours what would have likely taken me a day to a day and a half had I been in the office.  This is consistent.

I was sent this link, which made my day.

I played concertina, I sang.  I began to learn a new song, Farewell to Nova Scotia.

And yet, I still feel the pull of the East as strong as ever.


Thursday, June 11th, 2009

In the past two weeks, our lab has gone from 10 to 17 people, including people who are here on a temporary basis, such as summer interns.  It’s kinda cool, but mostly a packing problem.

Also, I have recently met someone name Attila.

Putting in screws takes longer than you think it will

Monday, June 8th, 2009

One of the best things I learned from my dad, that.  When estimating how long something will take, remember that just because an action is simple, does not mean it takes no time.  This weekend, I got a degree better at estimating how long various coding tasks would take me.  It felt good.

Mostly, this past week has been a great trip back east, for Miranda’s graduation and seeing lots of friends in the Swarthmore area.  I also had some time in Rosemont, just being at home and enjoying the rain.  It was refreshing, and continues to make me want to be back east.

The Front Range has been having some extreme weather lately!  Flying back last night (yay 4 hour delayed flight…) we passed, for a good 10 or 15 minutes, a massive thunderhead with constant flashes of lightning in it.  It was terrifying, but truly beautiful.  It seemed otherworldly.  I learned later that there had been baseball-sized hail and tornadoes attached to that storm.

I would swear I had a point to this post when I started it, but it’s quite escaped me.  It might have to do with my still-pervasive desire to work for myself (or at least on a flexible, I-can-do-errands-in-mid-day schedule—I was so productive this past week, and I think it was mostly due to being able to work and be distracted in intense, alternating bursts.  Or perhaps it has to do with the various ways in which Burke’s latest resonates with me.

Oh yes!  Perhaps I meant to mention that I signed my first patent application today.  Exciting, but I have very mixed feelings about software patents.