Last night Dan was going to make Iles Flottantes, which sounded tasty and decadent, but the eggs wouldn't separate, which meant he was either going to waste a bunch of eggs, or change plans. So he made pound cake, which is indeed quite tasty.

I woke up this morning hearing Monty Python-esque voices saying "Iles Flottantes", or in English, "Floating Eels..." Sadly, that's all of the skit that came to my waking mind. But someone else should run with it, shouldn't they?


This weekend has been a bit of a crapshoot. I have had a terrible backache, which has gotten better and worse in turns, but today I didn't need Tylenol with codeine, just regular Tylenol and Advil, which is an improvement.

This weekend I've gotten lots of walking in, just around downtown. I saw a twitter post yesterday that amused and amazed me: there are still apparently a bunch of people in town who are terrified of Downtown as being scary and crime-ridden. Perhaps 15 years ago it was? But I'm certain it's much less worrying than, say, Ball Square or other Boston-area neighbo(u)rhoods. A friend made a comment to the effect that such people form a distinct set of folks she is displeased to run into, in the OTHER (ritzier) end of town. And there is some truth to that for me too.

...I'd say eat the rich, but I'm not really into capitalism cannibalism.


We have an offer on our house! The inspection is tomorrow morning, after which we'll hear if they have any problems. The realtors had a showing today "just in case" and there was a lot of interest, if Party the First falls through. Getting this close-to-finished is such a load off my mind. And for Dan, too. There's a difference between knowing in theory that it will sell, and actually having it finally happen.


I've been trying to not think about work at home, but failed yesterday, when I decided I would just email the author of some code I'm using. His reply was both immediate and very useful, and at the same time I realized I: 1) had a bug in my alteration to his code and 2) knew the fix could be tested in about ten minutes. ...So I did that. And it worked!

So then I had to tell him I fixed the deficiency he had told me he'd never gotten around to fixing (but wanted to fix). And since he had a github account to share his code, and *I* have a github account I've never used, it made the most sense to figure out how to share it with him publicly, with all the public open-source accountability.

I expect you can see where this went (and so could I, even while I was doing it).

It took me about an hour to figure out the next part, since I've never actually used git before. But the end product looks pretty awesome to me, because something like 3 lines of code (and 1 line of documentation) means I don't have to spend at least a day writing a workaround for the (nonexistent) deficiency in the underlying system API.

Or, said another way, I made it so I can programmatically rename hosts in the campus DNS system, instead of having to delete the old host and re-creating all of its information in a new record.


So yah. Life is pretty good, and will be even better next week when the provisional house sale becomes final!

How's by you?


Thursday, 14 July 2011 11:53 pm
I spent 20 minutes earlier this week filling out an online MBTI, and today I went to Career Services on campus to review it with their resident expert, Liz K. (Free for staff; and mah boss has told me it's job-related and I shouldn't count it as personal time. ...But wait till she hears I'm going back.)

It was an entertaining hour, and I took a few notes on things that tickled me. To be read with various grains of salt.

* One area the Myers-Briggs has no predictive power is in the workplace. People with widely different types can both be happy in the same positions.
* However, it is useful for identifying preferences that people might not realize, based on cultural assumptions against those preferences- and, to some extent, strengths and weaknesses for personal interactions.

* ESTJ is what employers almost universally want from their front-line staff. Though many of these companies seem to brand themselves as looking for ENFP. And Introverts get no respect in the workplace. (Which is why we get to impersonate the E/S/T/J types at the office).
* N's are stereotyped as creative, but S's are creative as well- one such area is toward efficiency, parsimony.
* S's prefer to work a project from bottom-up and use language for accuracy; N's prefer to design from top-down and use language to play.
* N's might buy a fast car as a status symbol; S's might buy the car because they like the sensation of driving fast.

* NT's might be energized developing strategies; NF's energized by nurturing people.
* NT's may be known for their sarcastic humour.
* NF's may be known for enjoying taking the MBTI and learning the psychology of others; whereas FP's hate how the MBTI questions try and box you in without any subtlety or context.

* A bad combination in meetings: EN's tossing out half-baked ideas one after another, and after everyone else is in agreement, the IS might come up with his/her best answer, which s/he has taken the time to hone and finish in his/her head; coming across as passive-aggressive.

* A meeting of all J's may make a quick decision that's wrong; a meeting of all P's make the same decision over and over and over.

* Couples usually pair a P and a J. If both are P's, one will probably "fake it" as a J in order to keep the household running and bills paid.

* For J's the T/F dichotomy becomes crucial for how they deal with the outside world (setting their structure/organization via logic/objectivity or values/subjectivity).
* For P's the S/N dichotomy becomes crucial (via present/concrete or future/abstract).


I've tested myself online every once in a few years, and I consistently turn out IN__ - neutral between T/F and J/P. Sure enough, this time I rated "T" but just one point away from being rated "F"; and I was rated a "mild J".

But that didn't satisfy Liz; she said this didn't make sense with what I told her. And if I was J, I would be dominant for Feeling/Thinking- I certainly wouldn't be ambiguous on that measure. So, yay! I'm an aberration! She said perhaps I operated as a "J" both at work and home, but they aren't my preference? This seemed likely. So, she had me read some summary descriptions, until we zeroed in on INTP or INFP.

And when I read the long-form descriptions, I identified most with INFP, the same type as I self-identified 4 years ago.

She said if I come back, she can print out the appropriate pages out of their guide for me, but as it was, my custom printout wasn't at all accurate.

A cynical person might conclude that I've been told to vote early and often. Or, roll my character stats but change them around until they look right.

We were supposed to talk about strengths/blindspots I might want to know about, but we ran out of time. Fortunately, the second hit is free as well.

One thread of thought I found interesting is that I will make to-do lists, and refer back to them, which is a "J" type activity. However, the system for lists that I have settled on, GTD, allows maximal flexibility for choosing on-the-fly what tasks you're up for doing next. Which is the embodiment of "Perceiving" type.

So: yeah. INFP inna ESTJ wrld.
I just got a package in the mail, from Cat and Girl. I am now the owner of the original sketch/ink artwork for Birds of America and this makes me really happy.

Meet the Robinsons is a really charming science-fiction movie, sort of a cross between "Up," "Back to the Future," and "The Addams Family." I now have the DVD, and it stands up to a 2nd viewing, which I wasn't sure of since I first saw it on a tiny airplane seat-back screen with crappy headphones. But yeah. Recommended.

I'm busy, and that feels good, and not like burnout.

Yesterday I co-led a visioning session in the Quaker Meeting, and we accomplished a lot in 90 minutes. The theme was the needs of each of us and all of us together; what should we focus our attentions on in the Meeting. The conversation included a number of areas we've needed to talk about more, if we're going to be a strong community. I see this as a very good step. It was draining but also energizing. Ya know?

Today at work, I had three items on my plate I really wanted to get done, and I did. And then I went to the gym, which was a much better use of that 45 minutes than staying at work.

And then dan and I went home for dinner, and dan dropped me off on his way to chorus rehearsal, and I did an evening of Quaker work with 6 people I like a lot. 90 minutes later, I was very much ready to come home again, but not feeling burned out or stressed. Even though I have 9 new things on my to-do list.
The week so far has been fairly full.

Today I went for an all-day Emergency First Aid training. I'm curious how many of my friends are CPR trained? Either current, or lapsed? (I'd also be curious how many of you have ever used it? I know at least two of my friends have. What's that like for you?)

My training was led by an ex-US Marine, ex-firefighter, with just about as much authority on the subject as I might hope for. It was a really intense day. Hopefully I'll sleep OK tonight; I've been to the gym and had a strong drink, which I think has helped calm my mind down. :)

I wonder how the day's tone would be different with, dunno, a more "boring" instructor. He shared a lot of his macabre sense of humor. One story; he was working as an EMT in Atlanta at the Braves stadium for a big home game. They got the call about a man who collapsed; they got within a few hundred yards and started humping their equipment through the press of crowds, many clustered around the guy who was down. As they got there, they discovered two "good ol' boys" (as he called them) running a jumper-cable from their big truck, engine racing, just about to make contact with the old guy on the ground. Fortunately, they got there just in time; turns out he fainted from the heat, his heart was beating fine, though it wouldn't have if the two dudes had worked faster!

A few things I learned:

1) if someone feels faint, *don't* tell them to put their head between their knees, unless you're holding on to the back of their shirt. If they go unconscious, their head will hit the ground and then they might have spine/head trauma to deal with as well. According to Ian, slouching with head back is perfectly fine.

2) AED's, Automated External Defibrillators, are some really cool technology. The modern ones are designed so anybody can use them (though you can get going a bit faster if you're trained). They will talk to the user, flashing lights to tell them what to connect to the patient and where. They will detect a weak heartbeat and if necessary, send the shock to try and restart their pulse; but if they don't detect any pulse, they will guide the user through CPR steps, including sounding out the beat for chest-compressions.

3) The "First Aid Recovery Position" is the same as it was when I learned it at Cornell when I volunteered at Slope Day, a booze-fest on the last day of classes. Preventing someone from choking on their own vomit is timeless.

On that classy note, what about yesterday?...

Yesterday was the annual campus conference. I gave a talk, on one cross-campus collaboration project I'm involved with. It went ok; the best part was finishing and having lots of leftover time for conversations with people. I saw good talks and so-so talks, and ended on a great note with some students very energetically talking through some mobile dev projects they are working on in spare time. They made me, personally, feel completely not-cutting-edge, but that's fine. Sometimes other people get to be the sharpest knives in the drawer.

After work, I had a fairly difficult phone-call to make relating to some stuff that happened after Quaker Meeting on Sunday, but you know what? It was fine; and it was entirely the right thing to do, and I felt supported by a bunch of people in the Meeting in the process.

Just beforehand, I shoveled snow for the first time this year, and a bunny came over from a few lawns over and sat just across the street, sort of under a bush, watching me the entire time. It was still keeping watch when I went inside. And it helped me stay grounded as I went inside to make that phone-call.

And in the evening, dan took me out for all-you-can-eat tapas, using the thank-you gift-certificate from the talk that he gave yesterday, to a bunch of high-schoolers. (Next year? I think the school will try and avoid having a CS conference for some hundred students on the very same day that most of the technical staff are at their own conference. The combination went OK, but that took a lot of work from lots of dedicated people!)

this and that

Friday, 29 October 2010 09:51 pm
This morning I headed in to the office a bit early, so I saw kids collecting and walking to school. Some were dressed for Halloween; the only one that stood out was a remarkably accurate Peewee Herman, possibly 8 years old, being photographed on his front lawn by a parental unit. I considered, and didn't, make a Peewee Herman laugh as I biked past.

The last few work weeks have been intense. I had the realization this morning that I was on top of all of the projects I'm working on. 8 projects worked on this week. Deadlines in 4-6 weeks for many of them, and none of these are filling me with stress. So, yay!

...That said, I've had a few too many mornings when I wake up thinking about database design and user interfaces. Probably zero mornings is a healthy number. Probably I'd have just as good ideas if I waited until I got to the office.

Happy Weekend, fooks

Friday, 4 June 2010 10:16 pm
Tomorrow is the local Pride Festival, which for me mostly means sitting in a park with friends and watching the world go past. It's a low-key Pride, which suits. Also, I'm going for my 5th Pilates exercise class (which seems fairly clear is doing good things for my back and shoulder and likely my overall body-tone).

Sunday is the local Quaker Meeting's summer picnic and outdoor Meeting for Worship, which I expect will be fun. I missed the one last year, despite being responsible for reserving the picnic area in Guelph. This year, in advance, [ profile] melted_snowball and I went for a walk/hike with [ profile] roverthedog and we all gave Riverside Park thumbs-up and/or wags.

This week has gone by quickly. It was "Commuter Challenge Week" which meant Monday there was a free breakfast for cyclists (wearing helmets) in the Uptown Plaza, which surprised me for not being lacklustre (after the poor advertising they didn't do). There were TV cameras but I didn't bother finding out if I was on TV. Tuesday I blew my green cred out of the water by driving to the airport to pick up a friend. Overall, I racked up 42km in 4 days on bike, which felt good.

Ideas for today:
- I heard (from someone who does not assert this is definitely true) that young chickens might be more capable of flight than adult chickens, before they gain their full body weight. I want to see a fable about a chicken who remembers the joy of flying, who's handy with tools (yeah) and builds a chicken trebuchet. (thank you for this idea, [ profile] mrwhistlebear and [ profile] nobodyhere). In my head it looks like a mix of this and that.
- Are we tool-using metaphor-flingers? (thank you [ profile] dawn_guy, for a very non-sequitur meeting this morning...)

Oh, and after lunch with [ profile] chezmax and [ profile] nobodyhere we walked around the site where Mel's Diner was (until last month when the plaza it was in burned down). The tile is still there, and it was decidedly odd to see how small the footprint of the place actually was. Walking around there, and talking about the place with a few people: I don't think I'm overly sentimentalizing a not-very-exciting diner; I just have little exposure to "places" turning into "not-places" and my reactions to that happening are interesting to me. ...if it had been a family home, I would find this reaction intensely inappropriate, but since it's a commercial establishment, that somehow makes it OK.

Also, in the tile floor near the back corner, I found a charred penny from 1974, the year I was born. Lucky? Unlucky? Just a penny? Yet to be decided. :)
A shift in work responsibilities has meant I'm suddenly working on programming projects nearly full-time (again). Today between 10am and 6pm, I:

1- made code changes to my hopeful patch to sshd (c++)
2- fixed a logic bug in a password-changing web-app (python)
3- fixed a display bug in a faculty-information web-app (php)
4- worked on a logic bug in a tool to produce faculty webpages (perl)

#1 included editing a bit of man-pages source-code, which is fairly difficult to read. But
#3 included editing .rtf source, which is quite difficult to read (nigh impossible if you aren't changing something simple, like I was; it's worse than html written by an older version of Microsoft Word. Not meant for human consumption.)

I considered editing a lisp macro for Emacs, just to add a fifth programming language, but that felt cheap.

In a nice cap to the day: we had our monthly Perl Mongers meeting, and afterward I discovered that one guy is quite experienced with the source to ssh (hacking for fun), and he's happy to be an additional set of eyes to look over my changes before I send them off to the project maintainers. Which I'm chuffed about, since I am not a strong C++ programmer. His bar tab was on me.

I was musing whether any parts of my work this week felt effortless or elegant. The python came closest: I wrote the rest of that app from scratch (in December) before I knew how exception-handling worked. Today's fix replacing an if/then with a try/except was clean, logical, quick, and most importantly, effective.

A lot of my work is push-up-my-sleeves-and-get-it-done coding, instead of big design. This summer I'm going to have to go back to two larger php projects, neither of my design. Both have some aesthetic merits, but neither feel at all elegant. Both are going to involve incremental change, though if I can, I would make the changes in a way that leaves the overall code cleaner than when I started.

I suppose what I'd like is a project that starts with elegant PHP. I'm sure it's out there somewhere.

Midnight posty

Thursday, 8 April 2010 12:18 am
My brain is going a mile a minute, which is frustrating because it's well after midnight. I'm thinking about: work, upcoming visits (from a cousin, and hopefully to Ithaca), and random this-and-that.

One theme to the random is "the web as open-source organizer of ideas"...

I know lots of people who blog ideas with the hope people will jump on them. I do, and occasionally I browse websites devoted to the topic. Halfbakery was cool, but it seems mostly moribund these days. A friend pointed me at a brand-new site hosted by Reddit called SomebodyMakeThis, which made me smile. Seeing it reminded me long ago (2003? gawd!) I had posted this page of ideas. Most of which are embarrassingly quaint. "email with tags"- sure sounds like gmail; "fuzzy GPS via cell towers"- hey, google did that too, for gmaps on my phone; "video driving directions so you know what you're looking for"- I'd rather have street view, thanks google! And in 2003 I didn't anticipate GPS devices adding 3-d views (a feature I've never particularly liked, it turns out.)

On the other hand, I would still like to have "Email-sorting software." I could appreciate a gmail-sifter to find patterns in my mail: suggesting new labels, perhaps identifying things I consistently leave in the inbox instead of filing (and for what reasons?) In the end, I don't think the sifter, itself, would come up with the best patterns on its own: this would need to generalize the patterns as rules, which you could share with others, and collectively figure out which rules are useful.
And, somehow, not build Clippy for Gmail.

My apologies if reading this has put you to sleep. There may be a conservation of awakeness at work.

Working at a university is, I think, good for my sense of perspective and a good antidote for the occasional work-a-day ennui.

Yesterday I was thinking of last fall, when I was hurrying through an Engineering building to catch a bus and I passed a student observing (not driving) a small, silent four-rotored helicopter. That's what they're doing these days. Autonomic helicoptors.

But I was thinking of that student yesterday, when I went to watch a bit of a competitive program the University has hosted for a number of years. On an indoor field I watched two teams of robots, oversized roombas sucking up soccer balls, bumping over barriers and each other, spitting them into goals. These weren't undergrad projects: they were designed, built, and driven by high-school teams. The round I watched, the red team had much more agile and powerful soccer-bots. They handily won 8-1. Spectators cheered and held up big signs saying "Go 1148!"

Yesterday was a symposium for the final projects of the inaugural graduating class of nanotechnology engineers on campus, a program which will soon get its Quantum Nano Building, considerably larger than the name might suggest. At this nanotech symposium, one particular project caught my eye: carbon nanotubes absorbing IR radiation. See, night-vision goggles are apparently foiled by nano-tube-embedded fibers. They demoed a cotton mitt, one side treated; the one side is invisible to night-vision goggles, and the other side you can see the hand inside the glove.

While this property of carbon nanotubes has apparently been known for a while, these undergrads came up with a way to use them... safely. The poster ended with a cheerful message: "SAFETY CONCERNS: though industry is still wary of using CNTs in commercial products, there are a number of experiments that show the safety of CNTs [...]" and I thought, oh swell.

They continue by saying that IF the nanotubes are tightly bound to a substrate (say, cotton, which they claim it binds to easily), it will be safe. So they won't go loose in the environment and cause cancer or who-knows-what reactions with materials. Because we don't know, yet, because they cause all sorts of unpredictable reactions at quantum levels.

I think this is a different realm of "not ready for prime-time" than autonomous helicopters.

The nano building is one of five large construction projects on campus at the moment. The Quantum Nano building will be the biggest addition, shiny reflective glass next to the 60's-era ugly brick Brutalist Math and Computer building, once upon a time the most exciting thing happening on campus. It contained one big IBM computer. The biggest in Canada, in '67.

Yesterday I mentioned the symposium to a coworker's son, who is writing a school report on nanotechnology. He enthusiastically went down with notebook and pencil to take notes. And five years from now, he might possibly be studying nanotechnology in that building.

Heaven knows what they will be demoing in the hallways.

(no subject)

Friday, 19 March 2010 10:26 pm
da: (grey)
This morning, I woke from a dream that I had been lying in bed unable to sleep for hours and it was 5am and I was exhausted. Then I woke up at 8am, convinced it had been a dream, with no basis for assuming so, especially since I still felt exhausted. Bleh.

Then at 8:50, my pants vibrated to remind me of something on my calendar. I meant to catch a talk at the University at 9:00. I made it to the talk at 9:03, including paying for parking. Go me. ...Then I reset google calendar to send me reminders 20 minutes ahead instead of 10 minutes. (which would've given me enough time to bike instead of driving!)

I've biked to work three days this week, which is as positive a development as you'd think. The weather is LOVELY. Having my back in good enough shape to bike in is also LOVELY. The back's not in great condition, but it's OK. I need to work on strengthening my core muscles; my body's in much worse shape than I think it should be.

In fact, last night with [ profile] elbie_at_trig and [ profile] thingo I made a Bold Assertion: a year from now, I'll be in good enough shape to go climbing at the campus bouldering wall. And not feel like I'm messing up my arms, or shoulder, or lower back, or hip, or.. yeah. So, LJ, you're my witness. Next March!

I'm also loving that I have my taxes finished- and the US returns are in the mail. I don't owe anything to the IRS, and I'm owed a nice little refund from CRA, which I hope to have in my account in less than two weeks. My tax preparer came by my office at the University to have me sign the forms. Such service!

All of these good things aside, I've been feeling bleh today. I blame that overactive dream. *shakes fist at dream*


Wednesday, 3 February 2010 10:17 pm
Got to play with a puppy on the bus this morning, because I ran into [ profile] nobodyhere and Tawney. I mused to dan this evening, can we get a "Service Puppy in Training" coat for Rover? She could totally pull that off. (Us humans, not so much; it would definitely involve lying. Unless we admitted her training was in cuteness.)

Work was. One efficient meeting, one dodged meeting, good conversations about work and about not-work. In the afternoon, I tried to buckle down with one task that I thought should have been quick, but it wasn't, and I was getting fairly frustrated with myself that it wasn't. I seem to have listened to Lady Gaga - Telephone 31 times over the course of the day. doesn't lie, eh?

In the evening I watched the tail end of the last David Tennet Doctor Who, had a beer, walked Rover... and I'm feeling more sanguine about my day now.

updatey thing

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 11:14 pm
The last week has seen me:

* startle Neil Stephenson [1]
* have an annoying contact lens incident [2]
* apply the necessary teachable-moment to a kid outside my workplace who was messing around with my bike when I left the office
* meet Stewart Brand
* watch a superconducting toy train, a sort-of real quantum computer and a really pretty 3-d movie which was narrated by Stephen Hawking [3]
* document the activities of the zombies at City Hall. Well, the zombies attracted to City Hall by a certain video. This was surprisingly fun.
* play with a working reprap, a supposedly self-replicating machine. [4]
* be part of creating and solving various problems; technical, social; problems of planning and problems of execution. Be pleased with some outcomes. Be exhausted at work, but not too exhausted.
* see [ profile] melted_snowball off on his trip to Japan. Missing him a lot.
* not get enough sleep. Not get the rounds of bugs that are sweeping my workplace. Now if I can just get my flu shots before I have any flu symptoms, I'll be even happier.
* feel simultaneously lonely and not like talking to people. Sometimes I wish I were wired to be more social.
* spending quality time with Rover.

[1] I saw Neil Stephenson speak twice last week; afterwards, I thanked him for providing fun role-models for geeky people everywhere. I offered that I was occasionally inspired by Sangemon, the "hero" of Zodiac, whose style of bicycling in Boston traffic was over-the-top assertive. Neil looked a bit nervous at this- "I hope you do that safely." I laughed. Anyway, he was very polite.

[2] on second thought, I won't describe it. Not fun. [5]

[3] The toy train zoomed around a magnetic track. The "train" contained a super-chilled magnet and it was propelled by a shove from the demo-guy. The "quantum computer" was very poorly explained by a volunteer docent but it had an oscilloscope readout with a squiggle. And a plexiglass and metal assembly. Sorry, but that's all I got. I found my favourite part of the video, animated by NCSA - flying from the western spiral arm to the center of our galaxy. This was the most effective use of 3D I've yet seen.

[4] This evening I went off to the local nascent "hack lab" (clubhouse for tinkerers, more or less). I brought my arduino and stepper-motor. But I spent a lot of the time there socializing, playing with other peoples' toys [6], and such. It's a cool space, and my life isn't compatible with spending much time there, but I'm glad to see it exists.

[5] but my optometrist's office is 5 minutes walk from my office; and they gave me a new lens to replace the one that was stuck in my eye. Oops, I wasn't going to describe it. Well there you go.

[6] the reprap was a surprise to see in person- by the end of the evening, it was working, and it did "print" a plastic part used to make itself. Re-reading, I had forgotten they only produce 60% of their own parts- yes it's a toy, but it's a fairly cool toy.

I'm missing some stuff in this update, but that's what I get for not posting frequently enough.
da: (bit)
Unclutterer reports that O'Reilly tech books has an ebook promotion for $4.99 per book you already own. This looks quite useful to me:

- O'Reilly ebooks come as a bundle of three common formats (mobi, pdf, epub)
- they are un-copyprotected, a.k.a. not locked to existing software/hardware readers
- while only a fraction of their books are currently available in ebook, some others are also available as pdf

To get the $4.99 books, you need to make an account on their site, register the ISBNs of your books, add them each to your cart, and use the 499UP discount code. I tested one book, and it appears to work.

I may just have to get busy with our barcode-reader at work, since that's where my O'Reilly books live now. I figure at least a dozen of my books are worth future-proofing in case I eventually buy a portable bookreader. :)
The arts event I went to this evening was... meh.

I slept instead of going to the Cory Doctorow talk. It was a good nap.

I had a funny idea that solves a problem at work. I want to start hacking WWW::Mechanize to make a proof of concept, but [ profile] roverthedog is standing at the door staring at me and her eyes are saying, "You haven't given me a walk yet."

I shouldn't write this code, anyway; I should give it to my co-op.

Really I shouldn't.

OK, Rover, time for a walk!
There are moments I get, that the world is full of promise. Anything is possible.

In this one, I will attempt to re-join my LJ.

I've been following my friends-list for the last while, but one thing and another, I'd not had time to really figure out what I wanted to say in this space.

Over the last month, my overall mood has been grateful.

That's the main theme. There are sub-themes, including full of joy, awed, stressed, frustrated, and ow. And I could write a post about all of these, but I will instead try for a one-liner: joy at time with dan and with other friends; awe at wonderful theatre; stress from repercussions of having too much on my plate; frustration with "this should be easier"; and "ow" at my body. Each, a side-note to the main-theme of gratefulness- Life? It is good.

And I have been enjoying the nudging I've been getting (from friends, from God, from readings) that being grateful is a perfectly fine response.

It doesn't make for gripping reading, though; so let me tell you a story.

[oh geez, why did I write that? Now I've totally written myself into a corner, I haven't even come up with what story I'll tell.]

[Back from Quaker Meeting, a ride home with [ profile] beartalon, and a bit of lunch...]

This story is about the future.

Last week at work I was emailing with the campus bookstore about their print-on-demand service. They have a book-printing machine, and I was curious if it was reasonable to print this for me. They quoted $50 setup, $19.95 to make the book. But, since I said that co-workers would probably want additional copies, he added they could waive the setup fee if they deemed the book worth keeping in their library. Sounded great; he'd talk to his boss; I'd get back to him when I needed the book...

On Thursday, when I was in the midst of finishing programming edits on this month's project, I got an email from the bookstore, "We've printed a sample. Come and take a look."

Oh. Oh no. As I told [ profile] dawn_guy: that was so totally unfair, I didn't have time to do that, I had a million things to do.

So I was an adult, and kept fixing bugs, even though in the back of my head, there is a book that wasn't ordered on my behalf, it was printed and perfect-bound on my behalf, and it was just sitting there waiting for me to go collect it. So, ya, I'm a bit of a book nerd, and I wanted to go kick the book's tires.

Just before 5pm, I dropped by [ profile] dawn_guy's office and said, "I need a walk. Wanna go down to the bookstore?" And we did. And the book machine was sitting there, and Sean showed me the sample he made, which was pretty much exactly like the PDF, a slightly oversize paperback book, with a black-and-white cover-page because we didn't give them a colour page to work from. And Dawn and I realized the bottom edge was off by a couple of millimeters, and he checked with a level and yup, the cutter had gotten a bit out of alignment. And I was craning my neck to get a better look at the machine behind the counter, so Sean asked me if I wanted to go back and look at it.

And he ran off a copy of Heart of Darkness while I was there, just to show how it works. And it looks more or less like the video- from when you press "print", it plunked out a book in less than five minutes. More or less indistinguishable from any paperback, except the colour cover felt warm, and not quite dry yet.

Which feels yet another step closer to Matter Compilers in various bits of science fiction.

As I remarked to Dawn, I have seen the future, and it is slightly tacky.

The book will serve well. It is a well-written manual (also published by O'Reilly Press) for the revision-control system called "Subversion". Which is why I made a bookmark last week to "Subversion Best Practices", a title that slightly disappointed [ profile] peaceofpie when he saw what it really was. :)

Days and weeks

Saturday, 16 May 2009 10:15 pm
It's been a while since I've made a proper update.

Last weekend's trip to Philadelphia was fairly intense. I have a lot of respect for the organizers of the workshop; they packed a lot into our 44 hours on-site at Pendle Hill, yet it didn't feel rushed or overloaded. We learned more about the nuts and bolts of leading Quaker Quest training workshops, worked in small groups on articulating our own paths with regard to Quaker outreach, and talked about how the group of 30 of us can make the overall project work more smoothly. In the balance, I feel just as strongly that this is a worthwhile project and a good place for me right now.

The only parts of the weekend which were bad-intense were entirely my doing, because sometimes I'm a space-cadet who loses things wot aren't clamped down. *sigh*

One high-point to the trip was meeting some really neat people, some even roughly my age, from all over North America; and reconnecting with other 'Quakes who I've gotten to know and respect more over the last few years.

Another high-point was being picked up at the airport by Carrie G., who introduced me to Alma, who's now 4 5 months old. We went downtown and met up with her partner, Kathleen, and we had some wonderful time together (with ice-cream, plus also really cute sleeping infant) It was great to catch up for an hour; an hour which I thought I'd lost when I missed my first flight- making the meeting even more sweet.

But that was my 48 hours in the Philly area.

And when I got back, dan made us a lobster dinner, because he has an inside scoop with our favourite fish place, and heard they had excellent cheap lobsters. Yummy surprise, that. Go, dan!

Work has been rewarding, for the most part- I'm dividing my time between three software-design projects, and right now the balance is good. One project involves integrating our department's inventory system with the campus DNS, to simplify provisioning new equipment and make less work on updates. Another involves properly synching SSH keys so (among other benefits) instructors can more easily access their course-accounts from off-campus. The third is an Engineering Computing project of doom, which may be able to massage data from across campus into one place, in the formats needed by faculty to apply for grants, prepare their annual activity reports, and a few other creeping features. It may succeed, or it may collapse into a pile of brittle sticks; given the non-standardized data provided (and required) by the different faculties. We'll see.

I've just passed the one-year mark from coming back to CS, and I still like my work, I still like my work environment. Quite a bit, actually. The end of this calendar year will be five years I'm on campus, or more than half my time since moving here. Wow. I hope I can keep being as valuable to the U as I feel like it's been to me.

What else?

I'm going to be trying acupuncture. I met with my physiotherapist last week over coffee, and she pointed me in the right direction. I'll schedule it just as finish as I finish with the next bit of travel in May. I will be sure to report back, since I know some of you are practitioners. (or practitionees?)

For my birthday (which is next Wednesday), [ profile] melted_snowball and I are going to Nova Scotia. We're leaving on Tuesday, back the following Wednesday. I'm very much looking forward. The plans are: two nights in Halifax, one night in Baddeck, three nights on the north side of Cape Breton in Pleasant Bay, one night in Truro. d's been patient with my impulse to arrange EVERY LITTLE BIT TO SEE IN THE ENTIRE PROVINCE in just a week. And I'm... actually quite OK with dan's desired agenda of seeing a few sights, doing some road-tripping, eating some excellent food, taking some hikes, and mostly relaxing. (Relax? How's that work?... Heh. Anybody have any tips here? Is there a class I can take on it?... Um. Joking, I think.)

I won't have my laptop, so don't expect much from me next week, even if 3G from my phone happens to work. I'll be too busy eating seafood to post, anyway. :)

The following weekend we're off to Denver to see The Three Bears, and also Other People. Long-planned trip, finally happening. I've never been to Colorado!

And a week after, with a weekend at home again, I'm taking a 3-day Project Management course, way far away at the University's extension office just a few blocks from my house. It should be useful, and there will be two colleagues in the course to trade ideas with also.

I have been keeping up with my friends-list, even if I'm not posting or commenting much. I do appreciate hearing what's up with you all; you inspire me and also give me great stuff to think about; as well as grounding me a bit. So, thanks.
Don't ask yourself what the world needs.
Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

- Howard Thurman

An Invitation

Sunday, 30 November 2008 02:03 pm
This Tuesday, I"m giving a talk on Getting Things Done and the GTD software I use. The talk needs a small amount of tweaking, yet.

[And here's the finished version. Thanks for all your help, folks. It was really useful.]

If you're the kind of person who would attend a (free, 45-minute talk) on GTD...

Wanna look at my slides and notes, and make suggestions about what is unclear?
There are speaker's notes; you have to click the little head icon in the lower-right corner.

Unfortunately, it needs a google login. If you don't want to do that, I stashed a powerpoint here. You can put comments on this post.

Comments before Monday noon are appreciated; especially if you find yourself tuning out after the first few slides. That's helpful to know. :)


Getting things done

Saturday, 22 November 2008 07:00 pm
I knocked 11 things off my to-do list today. Tracks tells me I did 25 in the last 24 hours.

Now I have *only one* that's overdue by more than a week, and it was due back in July.

All of these due-dates are self-imposed. Still, the two stalest items were a huge relief to finally do. (One was start a google group to restart a conversation about FGC and Queer Quakers, which I had promised to do in July; this is a huge relief to get underway again. The other was to remind a local service agency I have a pile of computer equipment I'd like to donate.)

In the last 24 hours I added something like 40 new items, though 1/3 of these were music I want to buy, reminders of things I'm waiting on, and a few "someday" items. And some aren't actionable yet, but I still wanted to note them.

This afternoon I went back through my last four months of daily journal, and turned as many of those into action-items as felt necessary. Before today, I hadn't twigged to the fact that I really should be going through that every week or so, according to the GTD model. And yes, it was freeing, to get them into one master-list.

I think there might be (at least) two kinds of successfully organized people: one sort who is reassured to have everything in their brain, and wouldn't want to trust any sort of external system; and the other who in the end is reassured to have it all down in front of them.

The second variety is the kind I am, and it's one reason why GTD clicks with me.

This feels fairly over-sharing, which is why I'm not actually talking more about what's on the lists (though I'm probably happy to share if you have questions).

I seem to have 23 LJ posts in the queue. I wonder how many of them will ever finish baking.

weekend wrapup

Monday, 27 October 2008 01:55 pm
It was a good weekend.

Not too social, not to solitary.

I did some doing, did some thinking.

Plusses and minuses:

+ getting some human-interface issues thought out.
+ following a long chain of "what-if..." to come up with a good idea for an addition to software I use
+ making steps forward on a few non-work projects, with clear(er) next steps.
    -- ignoring one project for months
+ seeing 12 Angry Men with [ profile] chezmax & [ profile] the_infamous_j
    + great show
+ Art Walk- bought stained glass from [ profile] quingawaga for the office
+ [ profile] melted_snowball, just 'cause.
+ good Quaker Meeting. I spent some of the Meeting considering whether I'm still led to keep working on a project. The answer's "yes, but..."
- Public Library is closed until 1pm on Sundays. F, WT?
+ dim sum with [ profile] bats22, [ profile] melted_snowball, [ profile] the_infamous_j & [ profile] chezmax. 12 dishes was exactly right. (mmmm turnip-cake.)
+ [ profile] bats22 as houseguest
+ afternoon watching [ profile] melted_snowball & [ profile] bats22 in the kitchen
    + apple pie
    + roast veggies and squash soup and excellent company
+ dog walk
    -/+ surprise hail?! Those were big pellets!
- wet hair on cold mornings
- waiting for MEC order to arrive

August 2013

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