Dec 26, 2015

A Year of Reading In Review

According to Goodreads, I finished reading 41 books for a total of 15,048 pages.  When you add in tweets, news articles, emails and chat logs, 2015 marks the year that I have read the most, in sheer volume.

I graphed a quick histogram of publication dates for the books that I read.  About half were from 2014. There's a nice curve off into the past of obsolescence.



I included all books that I read some portion of in the past 12 months.  Unfinished books were not counted in the page total above.  Below I've listed the books and given a short opinion synopsis. They're loosely ordered by time of year read. I've given them a rating based on how much I enjoyed the book.

Spring (January to April)

Georgia O'Keefe: Art and Letters, Jack Cowart 1990

The artwork in this book is astounding.  I bought this book knowing little to nothing about Georgia O'Keefe and walked away completely floored.  She was far far far ahead of her time.  I learned so much about this brilliant artist just thru close perusal of the printed works in this tome. I haven't had the heart to finish the letters -- I'm afraid of what I'll find.  Maybe I'll get to it before the year is done though, as a nice bookend.

8/10


Gone Girl, (audio book) Gillian Flynn 2014

I was enthralled from the get go, did not see the ending coming. Holy shit this is a good book.

8/10

How to Talk so Children Will Listen and Listen so Children Will Talk, Adele Farber & Elaine Mazlish 1999

Another contender for best book of the year.  This book lays out patterns for interacting with your kids, walking through the usual way of responding to children and outlining some ways to really bring your relationship forward, to help raise independent, self aware children.  I don't have children, but this book is a gold mine for helping with any kind of relationship that's based on communication.  It's so good I'm reading it again.

9/10



Embedded Android, Karim Yaghmour 2013

In depth look at the AOSP, with an eye toward building your own ROM. A good introduction to the code base and some common modifications. Although outdated, likely the most comprehensive book on the topic.

6/10

Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman 2004

Fanciful set of short stories that are supposedly dreams Einstein had. I don't really remember it much, so I'm rating it low for being unmemorable.

3/10

The Americans, Robert Frank 1958

Photojournal of mid-America in the 50's with a foreword by Jack Kerouac.  Good, but in an age of Instagram, seems par for the course

7/10

The Code Book, Simon Singh 1999

A history of encryption. Must read for these modern times. It put a lot of today's encryption news into a broader, historical context.

8/10


Norwegian Wood, Murakami 2000

Fictional story of loss, love and coming of age in Japan. Good, deep and real. Heartbreakingly sad too.

7/10


Linux Device Drivers 3rd Edition, Jonathan Corbet 2005

Wow this book taught me so many things about kerneks, locks, multi threaded constructs and strategies, debugging, proc files, what a device driver is, etc. I haven't actually done much with this knowledge but it makes me feel a hundred times smarter than before I read it. And I wish I knew more C. The 3rd edition was a bit out of date, I'd recommend getting the newly published 4th edition. May be free online?

8/10

Outsiders, Howard Becker 1963

A sociological treatise on the social mechanisms of 'deviance', this book is much dated. The terms and constructs that Becker investigates are no longer much relevant to our day and age, however his theory of labeling holds up alright, if not totally relevant to today's gender politics.

5/10

Art Worlds, Howard Becker 1982

A sociologist's deconstruction of the Art World of the 80's. It was groundbreaking at its time for considering all actors in the world, up to and including the parking attendants at the opera. I found the scope too broad, however, in that the book at times lacked a clear purpose. Overall, a decent survey of art world mechanics in the 80's. The Epilogue, however, was totally fascinating. It's an interview (2008?) between Becker and Alain Pessin detailing the differences between Becker and Bourdieu's philosophy of sociological divisions. A+

4/10

What About Mozart? What About Murder?, Howard Becker 2014

Becker writes a manual detailing his process for distilling sociologically interesting phenomena. It's a fascinating overview of his life's work and gives a window into the origination of the insights that drove some of his most well known works.

7/10


Paws to Consider: Choosing the Right Dog for You and Your Family, Sarah Wilson & Brian Kilcommons 1999

An overview of different breeds and their characteristics.  It does a good job of breaking down dog breeds by living situation.

5/10

Summer (May to August)

The Boy Kings, Kate Losse 2012

First person account of the first few years of Facebook. Brilliant, insightful and damning. Losse's account makes one take a hard look at the motivations behind Facebook and our relationship to it.

9/10

Watchmen, Alan Moore 1987

Entertaining, highly dated graphic novel about a band of amateur super heroes.

6/10

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera 1981

One of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors of all time. I was afraid it would have aged in the 5 years since I last read it, but nope - it was as delightful as ever.

10/10

The Option of Urbanism, Christopher B. Leinberger 2007

An argument for the Urbanism that Jane Jacobs espouses in Death & Life, but repackaged in terms that real estate developers may find more palatable. A few interesting stats on current trends in urban development and reasons why it's difficult to build new kinds of housing (spoiler: money).

5/10

The Power Broker, Robert A. Caro 1974

In this masterpiece of a biography, Caro deeply investigates the origins, actions, and motivations of New York's most powerful man: Robert Moses. The portrait Caro paints explains much of the political climate that was (and probably still is) NYC during the majority of the 20th century. A must read for anyone interested in the politics of urban spaces, New York City power mechanics, or successful project management.

9/10

Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano 2006

Saviano uses his hometown connections to infiltrate and then lay bare the practices, guess, and business acumen of Sicily's gangster families. It's an unsettling book in it's veracity and the implications for global capitalism. Also, I now wonder who runs trash collection in my own city. The publication of this book got its author placed under police protection. He's still under protection.  As interesting as it is, it was a difficult read, both because the cast of characters was large and the quality of writing (or translation?)/was less than clear.

6/10


Rick Steves' Italy 2015, Rick Steves 2014
Rick Steves' Croatia & Slovenia, Rick Steves 2014

I used these for a two week trip in Europe this summer. Really useful but became old hat really quickly. Or maybe all tourist places are the same...? I wouldn't not recommend them, but I found I much prefer reading novels / memoirs based in the place I'm visiting than guidebooks. The maps were invaluable, however.

5/10

By Blood, Ellen Ulan 2012

Novel written from the perspective of a meddling peeping Tom, and his unintended spying on a neighboring psychologist and her patient. The plot gets increasingly erratic, and plunges in a variety of ways. It felt a bit like the TV series Lost - lots of intrigue but not neatly tied up or given any amount of weight.

5/10

The Bug, Ellen Ullman 2013

The premise for this book really hit home, but the execution of it wasn't the home run I wanted it to be. It's the story of a man, a software bug, and his descent into madness behind it.

5/10

Orientalism, Edward Said 1978

This book takes a critical eye to the West's attitudes and portrayal of the 'Orient', both in classical works, state treaties, and academic organization. A great and bold book. The style was a bit more academic than I'm used to, which is to say I struggled to stay engaged with the text. I did find a number of editing errors though, which I wrote in to the editor about, which makes me wonder if I'm not the first to have the same trouble. ;)

7/10

Yes Please, Amy Poehler 2014: 7/10
H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald 2014: 6/10

Two books for today: H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald and Yes Please by one Amy Poehler.  I've been wanting to read H for months and was beyond thrilled when the Heathrow airport had it on the shelf.  Amy Poehler's book was a chance encounter -- and at "buy one get one half off" hard to pass up.

Amy's book was delightful, though quite par for the course in the self-deprecating, life-celebratory memoir category.  Definitely worthwhile.

The Hawk book, also a memoir, was far more ascetic and personalized.  Well written, with a clear story arc than Poehler's, but lacking some of the jolting wit.  They're not fair comparisons, but it's hard to keep from making what with their temporal proximity and categorical similarity.  The images in hawk are so vivid that it's not a book I feel I'll read again -- the mental portrait I have of the author and her hawk have been indelibly inscribed on my memory.

Fall (Sept to Dec)


We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, Peter Van Buren 2011

First person account of the bureaucratic limbo that the Iraq reconstruction project was. Read The Economy of Cities and then read this and weep at the ineptitude of our hegemonic aspirations.

7/10

Once Upon a Time in the North, Phillip Pullman 2008

Lovely short book on the origin story of His Dark Materials' Lee Scoresby.

8/10

Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, 2012-2015

The elaborate, encompassing life story of Elena and Lila, childhood friends, and the mafia run neighborhood they grew up in. So well written as to be criminal. Deep, well-crafted, insightful in the way only great literature can be. I loved the ending. I loved the beginning. The characters were real, their relationships vivid, and unrelentingly human.

8/10


Primates of Park Avenue, Wednesday Martin 2015

Great first hand account of one woman's transformation and infiltration of the clans of motherhood that live in New York City's Upper East Side. Very much a city book, in that the audience for this is mostly city dwellers.

5/10

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote 1965

Fast paced in-depth report of a cold blooded killing in western Kansas. A+

8/10


Don't Shoot the Dog!, Karen Pryor 2006

Fabulous, insightful book explaining the nuts and bolts of training anything. Best dog training book I've read so far. It gave me the courage to clicker train my puppy and a framework for teaching her commands. The stories and anecdotes from Karen's decades of training experience are A+.

9/10

The Emporer of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee 2010

Another great historical book, this time telling the story of cancer, both medically and politically. I learned a lot about chemotherapy and the history of cancer treatments. I feel much more capable of talking to and about cancer treatment and survivors experiences now. Sadly, probably a must read for our day and age.

8/10


The Other End of the Leash, Patricia B McConnell 2002

Purporting to be a manual to interspecies communication woes, it's more of a memoir. There's a few nuggets of wisdom buried within but it didn't live up to my expectations.

3/10


Nickle and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich 2002

A journalist spends 3 months working a variety of minimum wage jobs and writes about them. Groundbreaking when it was published, now a fairly common theme it seems.

6/10

The Economy of Cities, Jane Jacobs 1969

Out of everything I read this year, this book takes the prize for most original thinking. Full of fascinating mental exercises and compelling argument, it lays down the foundation for an entirely new way of thinking about economies. This book introduces Jacob's theory of economic expansion, inlmport replacement, a theory which Jacobs herself marks as her most revolutionary. Fascinating, eye opening, and *compelling*, if I could only recommend one book, this would be it.

9/10


Dark Age Ahead, Jane Jacobs 2004

Last book written by Jacobs before her death. It's a warning for all the ways our society and economy are showing signs of decay. Insightful, but not as cohesive as her other works.

6/10

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot 2011

This is the story of medical miracle, and erasure. It deeply questions the ethics of the tissue market and the rights of patients to their own cells. Skloot does some remarkable storytelling and journalism, though her journey into the lives of the existing Lacks felt at times too personal.

7/10


90% of Everything, Rose George 2013

This was good companion reading for the 2nd season of The Wire. In depth, first person narrative opace container shipping industry. Good, quick read told in a journalist's style. The narrative was well constructed. I learned a lot about ships.

4/10


A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers 2001

The autobiographical work of the few years following his parents' early demise and early 20's in SF. This book is a fluid, compelling piece of self-conscious, self-absorbed emotive word flinging. I got into it tho, so props to Mr. Eggers. I got out as fast as I could as well. It's a smart book, but too smart for it's own good. The self-referentiality and self-loathing is over done, ruins what could have been a great personal narrative, a memoir if you will, if it hadn't gotten lost in the marrow of itself (Mr. Eggers' marrow, specifically) along the way.

More than anything, the entire exercise felt tired, unenlightened and fell flat. Perhaps the shitty lives of privileged people are increasingly uninteresting to me. Perhaps I'm just over hyper-masculine word shitting that gets packaged and sold as Genius. Perhaps I'm just over 'literature'.

This is not the last book that I will read this year, but it is the last book of 'literature' on my list. It may very well be the last book of 'literature' that I read for a good, long while.

6/10


Works in Progress, more or less:

The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression, G.-B. Duchenne de Boulonge 1862/1990

A marvelous, pioneering book documenting the map of human facial muscles, with loads of photos from real live human subjects. I haven't finished it yet, but the existence of this sort of a work for so many years really makes me wonder what else has been relegated to the pre-digital past.

7/10*

The Reasoned Schemer, Daniel P. Friedman, William E. Byrd, & Oleg Kiselyov 2005

Workbook that derives logic based programming constructs from a functional foundation. With cute food analogies to boot! I haven't finished it yet, but the first 6 chapters have already proven useful.

8/10*


Alone Together, Sherry Turkle 2011

I haven't finished this, I'm merely at the introduction, but already a fascinating look at how we are shaped by technology, especially young people. The writing style it a bit cloying though - I'm not sure how far I'm going to make it. This is the last in a trilogy.

3/10*


The Wikileaks Files: the World According to US Empire, Assorted 2015

I had much hope for this book, but was sorely disappointed by the quality of writing and lack of coherency in its arguments. (I haven't made it thru Part I yet). Interesting premise of attempting to synthesize and draw conclusions from the WikiLeak cables, and I dare say I learned a thing or too, but it's much hard work to read, more than it needs to be, really

3/10*

The Food Lab, J. Kenji Lopez 2015

A friend of mine called this book the Joy of Cooking for Millennials. With a sharp eye to detail and chock full of data and *science*, she may not be much wrong. Well written, though at times the organization of recipes and flow between feels disjointed. Maybe it's not meant to be read cover to cover? Also not nearly as comprehensive in the breadth of recipes as Joy. There is a lot to learn here though. The originality of the recipes Kenji does provide are more than enough to keep a cook busy for a long while.

8/10*


*subject to change


Dec 22, 2015

Saturday morning

I look at this puppy, sweet independent thing snoozing on my stomach and I can't help but wonder at all the expectations that I've heaped upon her. I expect her to read my mind, to behave, to alieve my own anxieties about existing. To teach me how to be. I have so many expectations of this small Other.
I judge her. She's slept too much today. She's too clingy. She's disobedient. She didn't eat enough, she drank too much, she barked too many times on our walk.
She stopped to smell the roses. She pooped on my rug last week.
I have her but I don't love her.
Yet here she is, any way. Twitching in her sleep, pushing at me with both her paws as she stretches and changes positions.

Here she is. In the flesh. Real, whether I am or not.

Dec 1, 2015

No more

No more running from the memories that are slowly driving me insane.

Insane is a strong word. Better to say 'driving a wedge between perception and reality'.

The reality I live in is a low dissolving behind this tempered layer of glassy recollections -- the smells and sights and feelings of being there.

I uses to think it was you, hiding behind them all, deeply masked but you're gone now and you always have been and the eerie second vision comes unbidden anyway.

Some dreams are so strong they have you anyways, whether you live in them or become their prisoner, trapped behind the foggy glass of nostalgic synasthesia.

Nov 21, 2015

Cocoas First Responder, an irl investigation of terms

List of terms/sentences from an article on the Responder Chain that I don't understand yet.

- In fact even Apple often employs delegate protocols to have a view controller communicate to its superior.
-
@protocol FlipsideViewControllerDelegate

- Now we can get rid of the delegate protocol

Oh interesting.  There are 2 ways to assign the receiver for an action (like a button click).  One is to assign it to the "File's Owner".  No idea who this is yet, but sort of get the idea that it may be something called a "Controller" class.  Or something.  The other option for an action target is that you can put the action (the click) in a 'queue' of sorts, to be processed by the "Responder Chain" (whatever that is).  The chain goes up a list, sort of like the View Hierarchy in Android, until it finds a receiving method (I don't think that's what these are called but whatevs) that is registered for that action (the click!).  That method is then called.  

Any selector can be used for the action parameter of the sendAction method 

What's a selector?  If I had to guess, I'd say that it's a view?

Since the app delegate has been promoted to a UIResponder as of iOS 5

Who's the app delegate?  This seems like the first Activity from an Android app.  Or like an Application subclass, but more easily accessible than the Application subclass is. 

Further Interface Builder questions:
There are three items listed under Placeholders: File's Owner, First Responder, and Application.  What is Application good for?
What's the difference between the Placeholders objects, and the Objects?

Mapping Learning

I'm currently writing an app for OSX.  I started it over a year ago, but when XCode ate my project, I gave up.  Before the XCode Apocalypse happened, I had a working prototype built.

In early April, while at DroidCon Montreal, someone asked me what my 'startup idea' was.  I told them about my XCode project that got eaten.  They said it was a good idea, so when I got home I tried to open XCode again.  No luck.

In early October, I was inspired by a tweet about octobuild.com to finish a project in October.  Or at least work on one.  So I opened XCode again.  It worked this time. (Huzzah).

I've been working on it, off and on, since then, just a little over a month.  The prototype no longer works, but instead I'm currently focusing my efforts on making the GUI look and work how I want it to.

I don't know Objective-C.  I've never done any OSX app programming before.  I have done .NET and a fair amount of Android programming, however.  Both of which are GUI-esque systems.  I've been having a hard time grokking how the new system (Interface builder, wtf?) works, so here's a short documentation of things I've learned so far that have been helpful for getting a footing on writing my first OSX app.

- Reading the Apple documentation.  Fairly helpful, but not the right granularity for the most part.  Either too much of a 10,000 foot view or way too granular 1ft view.
- Googling shit / searching for help on Stack Overflow.  Hard to do at the beginning because I don't know what I'm supposed to be Googling for.  What's the proper name for the text input field things?
- Doing an Apple tutorial. I found a really basic, pictoral tutorial in the Apple docs.  This was really helpful for learning the layout of XCode.  But I had mostly forgotten it a few weeks later when I went to do my own GUI.  I can't find the link to it now, either.  However, I did find this repository of sample code.
- Reading articles that are too hard for me.  This is actual a pretty decent strategy for getting a grounding in what the lay of the land is, provided you can hold the fuzzy/frustrated feeling at bay and work on building a relational map of unknown words.  Example: this article.
- Finding the right words.  I finally figured out that Cocoa is the name of the GUI system for Mac OSX applications.  I don't recall exactly what the name for the UI system is for iOS apps.  But it's not Cocoa.
- Asking friends for help. I found this to be slightly helpful, but mostly frustrating.  I asked for help via chat, and I really needed someone in person to show me what buttons to click on the Interface Builder.  Both people I asked were helpful, but neither of them were able to point me to the silver bullet for understanding Mac App programming that I was hoping for.  (One probably doesn't exist).
- Reading the Table of Contents of books.  I find this really helpful for giving the lay of the land - what topics are there to explore?  How are things called?  Sadly, I didn't think to do this until today.  Table of Contents are often available free of charge for any book listed on Amazon (or otherwise).

Something I'm considering trying:
- Buying/borrowing a book. Books are so good at starting at step A and explaining the lay of the land (which is usually what I need the most when working in a totally new paradigm/system.)


I still feel like I'm struggling because the thing that I wanted to have done is not done yet.  The reality is that I may not be moving very fast, but things are making more sense.  That's progress!  I'll take it :)

Nov 19, 2015

Tension is who you think you should be

Struggling with the things I have to do right now. Perpetual stomach ache head ache from all the tension of trying to be this thing that I am not.

The thing that I am is me now but it's tensionless. I don't feel tensionless. Who is the me without this tension?

It's time. It's time to cut the cords and go and be but I don't know where to make the first cut, which cord is worth holding on to, or which one will make me fall.  The converse being that not trimming means that cords are still breaking, just the ones that I don't see, that aren't of my own choosing.

It's ok, I don't need much to hold me up. My spirit animal is Magneto.

Types of Misspellings or A Typography of Mistakes

Types of Misspellings or A Typography of Mistakes

Word hash collision.  Example: `hear` and `here`.
Letter transposition. Example: `deah` instaed of `head`.
Auto correction misunderstanding: Example: `denial` instead of `denies`.
Wrong word. Example: `sodomy` instead of `sisyphean`.

Typing error, brain misfire. Example: `kog` instead of `dog`.  (k and d - same finger, wrong hand)
Typing error, key omitted.  Example: `ths` instead of `this`.
Typing error, key mashing. Example: `thkis` instead of `this`.
Typing error, over eager finger. Example: `htis` instead of  `this.
Typing error, over eager thumb. Example: `thi sdog` instead of `this dog`. (subclass of previous error type, but large enough to merit it's own category).

Actually just forgot how to spell the word. Example: `convenince` instead of `convienience`.

Any combination of the above.

Nov 18, 2015

Magnum Opi

I am a paranoid person in that as I walk down the subway platform and see people on their cellphones scribbling away, I get worried that they're working on their magnum opus. I'm not working on a magnum opus - is coverting oxygen into some sort of semi-poisonous gas not magnificent enough?

What is a magnum opus anyway? Maybe I'm dirty minded but when I hear magnum, I can't help but think of a bunch of condoms, dirty, on the floor beneath a sagging, happy dick. A magnum opus must be greater than a magnificent condom, well used.

Put another way, what I imagine everyone typing into their cell phones on the subway are doing is greater than the best safe sex ever had.

You can see why a girl might get a little paranoid about being left out.

Nov 10, 2015

The stuff problem

Hi. I have too much stuff. This is a problem as my apartment is fairly small - 14,549 sq ft to be precise. 

It started out rather empty, which I have decided is the root cause of this problem. An empty apartment starts empty but fills up fast.

Also worth examining is my faulty short term memory. My long term memory, which works fine,* remembers my apartment at near empty. The reality is that it has been, in the short term, filled with things that I ordered on the Internet but that have not yet arrived. They're in a state of transit and non-arrival. Non-existent, as far as I am presently concerned.

And so it filled up. I can't move without tripping over a chair or staring at some thing that I need to return, throw away, take to the trash, repair.

Maybe that's a bigger problem - there are too many chores not yet done. Papers waiting to be filed, broken pins that need fixing, magazines that need reading, postcards that need mailing, puppies that need loving.

Or maybe it's the new couch arrangement. Maybe it's the inability to buy big furniture so I end up with lots of scoats,  furniture that clutters the floor.

I should get rid of some things. Go back to empty. Throw away the boa constrictors, recycle the shirts I don't wear, return the borrowed coats, eBay away my collection of vintage computers.

*as an aside, how would you know your long term memory isn't working?

Nov 7, 2015

unsure where to start

sitting in this project space that I'm renting space in for a month. (or two?).  it's my first day here, so there's a lot of pressure to be good and productive with my time.  I'm not really sure what that means, on a Saturday.  I mean, if I wasn't here I'd be at home reading the novel I'm currently working my way through: Capote's In Cold Blood.  Or boring my dog to death with more interval practice.

Conquering intervals is my current frustration.  I've been focusing on perfect 4ths & 5ths.  The generally accepted way to memorize an interval is to map it to a favorite song.  A perfect 4th, for example, is the first two notes of "We wish you a Merry Christmas".  The idea being that if you hear two notes that sound like the beginning of the song, you know, instantaneously, that that is a perfect 4th.  The key notes that I'm using for a perfect 5th are the first two notes of the Star Wars theme song.  Duhh, dahh, dahdahdah dahhhh dahh.  You get the idea.

These notes go north and they also go south.  As in being able to identify a perfect 4th both ascending and descending.  It's a bit of a night mare, especially because my short term memory is so horrid.  Or maybe it's just that my listening skills leave a bit to be desired.  Either way just being able to accurately recognize (and, more importantly, differentiate) perfect 4ths & 5ths is a current struggle.

I went to ear training class on Thursday.  In class we focused on rhythm training and singing scales.  The scales that we covered were normal (all the same pitches), a normal (?) minor scale (raised 3rd, 6th & 7th) a harmonic minor scale (raised 3rd & 6th) and a melodic minor (raised 3rd).  I still don't really understand coming back down on the diatonic and melodic minor scales.  It seems to be that they go back to being the same as the "normal" minor scale.  I should look this up, but it's kind of more fun to just grouse / write it out.

There's also 4 sets of triads:  A normal triad (tonic, M3rd, M5th). A minor triad (tonic, m3, M5th). A diminished triad (tonic, m3, d5). An augmented triad (tonic, M3rd, a5th).

Another current frustration: figuring out what language to write side projects in.  Getting outside of the mobile app infrastructure land is so hard *whines*.  I'd really like to switch my blogging over to a static site, but I'm currently trapped in indecision station with regards to what engine to pick.  There's a Java one, but I'd have to figure out how to jar things.  There's a zillion in Ruby or Python but just ew, ok?  There's one in Erlang that looks dope but I'm not sure that my Erlang skills are good enough to figure out how to get it up and running.  I'd also like to write my own (the existing projects up on Github seems small enough to make this a doable project), but that doesn't solve the problem.

Can I write an Android static site generator?  That seems real dorky but also super useful.  I'd definitely use it all the time. o.O lol.  Turn your mobile phone into a web server with this one weird trick!

Ruby and Python are out because we HATTES them we HAATEES them.
Java, eh.
JavaScript? meh.
... what else is there?
Scala? fffuuuckno.
Kotlin? Groovy? meeehbe.
Dart, Go? no thank you.
Smalltalk? Prolog? Erlang? when do you need this by?
bash? what are you a masochist?
C?


Yeah. Maybe I'll do it in C.

Oct 31, 2015

bordering on happiness

outlining, on the ground in blood chalk the structure of that thing that you need or feel that you need in order to feel full.

scritch scritch scritch

I can't help but feel that I've spent most of my day here on my sofa, plunking away at odd thoughts.  They are all odd.  Thoughts, that is.

I'm going back and re-interpreting a scattershot collection of old memories, in the process making them into new ones.  I have lots of ideas of things that I would like to see done, but most times just having the thought is enough of a reward that I don't get much past that.  You know, past just having the idea.

The ideation phase, it turns out, is so rewarding that the physical labor of actually producing or turning that thought into reality is unnecessary.  Less rewarding, almost.

I wonder then if that's what makes writing so seductive -- in the age of Internet, where publishing and garnering an audience[1] is a semi-trivial thing, writing things down is such an easy process. It doesn't take much other than remembering to write down the day dream like thoughts in order to have *done* something with a thought.  To have made an idea feel more concrete than it was.

We had a visitor at EO (was that where the conversation occurred? I can never remember conversation provenance) on Friday.  A few of us went out to coffee, and talk turned to the robotics class at Columbia that our visitor was doing mid-terms for. The prompt was a robot navigating about a room full of obstacles, and they kept running into a problem that their robot would not hit the finish targets exactly.  The biggest challenge had shifted from writing code to how to account for drift?

This problem provides a nice foil for the difference between "programming" and "engineering" - whereas programming is writing out the steps that you want the robot to take, and engineering is the task of discovering what steps that the robot needs to take.  Figuring out what the causes of the problem is and figuring out a solution (a solution that is later embedded into code) -- this is engineering.  Without drift, would it not be so much of an engineering problem?  I would say yes -- it's merely a matter of getting the robot to execute a series of steps.  But since some amount of error occurs in the system, a method of correcting for the error - discovering it, reporting, and reducing it - must be found.  There's no clearcut way to make it better, either.

Is there much difference between daydreaming & writing and programming & engineering?  Other than engineering probably takes much more work than sitting on a sofa staring dreamily into the distance as you wait for the sun to finally set.  But both are the process of finding ideas (wherever they may be) and putting them down, concretely.


[1] personally, I'd be happy if only robots read my pages

Oct 18, 2015

On November 1st

On November 1st, the skies opened up and the rain fell to the earth as it never had before.

On December 1st, the sun rose slowly in a golden haze, sunrays bouncing off the frozen grass as though it were a field of gems, empire cut all.

On January 1st, the sky was a crystalline blue: pure of color, void of clouds. After sunset, you could see the stars clear as day, twinkling, there, just barely out of reach.

On February 1st, it snowed.

On March 1st, the pidgeons started from the sound of a thunderclap that rang out suddenly, echoing across the sunny sky from the pile of heavy, black clouds that had been lingering near the horizon all morning.

On April 1st, the cherries blossomed and it rained pollen all over the sidewalks.

On May 1st, the last of the snows melted and I put away my heavy, sodden boots for good, for the last time.

On June 1st, the squirrels played chase on the grassy lawn at high noon. The sun had snuck up, early, in a pile of pink cotton, and by midday it was lingering, large, directly overhead, relentless.

On July 1st, the rain began at dawn; at dusk it continued.

On August 1st, the crickets woke earlier than usual, to chirp in the red light of the bloodiest dawn I've ever seen.

On September 1st, Hurricane George had us all huddling in our houses or sorting last minute laundry at the laundromat, preparing for the end of times, one dirty sock at a time.

On October 1st, the phone never rang and I knew, finally, and for certain, that you and I had never not really ever existed.

On November 2nd, the last ice cap melted and we *all* died, anyway.

Oct 16, 2015

Weekly Accomplishments

Boosted my confidence in my ability to wrangle an EC2 instance.  To date I've:
- made a snapshot / backed up a running instance
- made a snapshot via the command line interface
- made an AMI (or image) from a snapshot / backup
- made a bigger volume from a snapshot
- swapped out the volume on an instance
- educated myself on the cost structure of ec2 instances
- educated myself on the cost structure for ec2 volumes (these cost money!!)
- figured out what elastic IP is
- successfully debugged and fixed a filesystem/kernel type mismatch when creating an EC2 instance from an instance. the snapshot & instance types had incompatible kernels. tools used: the ec2 command line interface & google

Figuring out how to reverse engineer Django enough to get our Graphite instance OAuthing with Google Oauth2.

Finding and fixing a bunch of Marshmallow bugs on our Android & releasing the patched app.

Oct 9, 2015

Man-ke-types

I find it commonly done that a woman will be labeled into her role in a man's life: sisterly love, mothering him, whoring out, slutty mom, etc.

How do we describe the role of men in women's lives? I find it much harder and less common.

Father-figure, like a brother, her pimp, her sugar daddy.

Eg:
"She lived with Jacob, who filled the void her father had left: bringing home newspapers and picking up milk for them at the grocery store on his way home from work. He was a father, caretaker, and night time companion all in one, a great man with a soft touch and loud barreling laugh."

Oct 5, 2015

correspondences

Correspondence between the will to power and the will to travel. began as a set of postc.ards. TWtP started it, as per the definitional usual.

TWtT had left first though a few days earlier.

The first postc.ard contained a self addressed and pre-postaged envelope. There was nothing else there.

TWtT didn't receive it though, as they had already arrived at their next destination.

Sep 16, 2015

"you and your dom-ish intentions"

Laying here on my bed wondering if I actually do want to pull the plug and realizing that in the act of pulling it I will be spending more time with you, which maybe is the whole reason for thinking it, for wanting it, in the first place.  Does it always have to be this emotionally complex?

It feels like it does, like there's no escaping.

All this thinking and suddenly I find myself back in the car, years ago now, dropping another you off at your apartment complex and how easy that had been and how utterly unhindered it had felt, laughing along with you about your dom-ish intentions.  You were fun.  Easy to laugh with.

The new you isn't so easy to laugh with, but the laughs come often enough, and some sort of playfulness is there though it doesn't feel as easy as I remember it once being.

I worked hard to sabotage that, too.

Maybe it won't ever feel that easy and that's the point, isn't it?  The point about new experiences and enjoying things for what they are, when they are it.

Sep 11, 2015

Libretto

I know what a libretto is now. And, consequently, also a librettist.

I did not know these things a year and half ago. Last February was cold and I knew nothing about opera or singing or anything voice related, really.

Let's start at the beginning. The January before that last February, I broke up with my therapist. For the second time. I should be clear. This was not the second time I broke up with Collette, my wonderful New York therapist, but the second time I found myself breaking off a therapeutic relationship. 

When you say it like that, "therapeutic relationship", it makes the whole thing seem a bit less daunting. Warm and friendly, almost. That was Collette. Warm and friendly, almost.  I had started seeing her about 7 months earlier. Several months and boxes of tissue later, I was leaving her. For much the same reasons that I had left my first - I didn't know why I was doing it anymore.

Instead, I had decided, I was going to spend my time energy and efforts on voice lessons. Something almost most definitely not therapeutic.

What are goals, you know? They seem so situational and relative. What does it mean to have goals for your life? With a years worth of months between my current self and the past one that did therapy, it's easy to see this as the problem.  I didn't know what the goal was. Or how to get a goal. I showed up (usually late). I talked (about?). I invariably got choked up. My time would come to an end. There was no story to it, no driving narrative. Just empty words put in someone else's ears.

Singing is different. The goal is clear, objective. The way forward may not be, but the desired end product is identifiable.

And on the way to the goal, I learn things about myself. About my voice and how to be present. There are bigger, deeper lessons too, broader narratives: that things are often easier than you think they are. That it's the thinking, of a certain kind, that gets in the way. That relaxing is hard. That you never will see your own impact on the world - but that no one can. That some days are better than others.

I learned that it gets easier. That All Of It Gets Easier.

Oh yeah, and

I learned how to siiiiiiiiiing.

Feet

We all have to stand on them. All two of them.

All Other things being what they are: irrelevant, mostly.

Sep 5, 2015

Thoughts on Swedish

The words are really short

So many accents!!?

What did you just... can you spell that? Thanks that's... sadly thats not helpful either.

Oh shit Instagram I have no idea where this was. It was on an island. Near that bridge. Close to a church.

God damn Instagram search sucks.

Is that English?? Are you speaking English? ... No. OK, what about you, over there? Now? Now you are, but that's new. Before. What did you say before?


I don't understand.

Sep 1, 2015

withdrawal

it seems nigh impossible for me to stay happy with the status quo for long.

i've been drinking coffee, religiously, for a few weeks now and the inevitable of happening always happens: the withdrawal begins without my bidding.  maybe it's just that i had half a cup that morning instead of a whole one.  or that the coffee was ingested earlier in the day that i was accustomed to.

dry eyes, no appetite, a taut jaw, a head ache that is less a head ache than a vise applied right behind your eyes.  inexplicable fatigue.  early morning wakings, my subconscious body's response to some unhearable call -- the black lady herald of a steamy cup.

i can see the slope that is detox.  it's long and steep, covered with rocks, pain, anger and lots of sleep.  the way down from this coffee mountain, so to speak, is long and arduous and singular.

you would think that i could stay here, but i cannot. my body made the decision to leave.  it's already started down the path way, and it will every day without fail unless i reaffirm my commitment to staying: a second cup in the afternoon.  i'm not willing to dig in, to entrench myself further.  for how long until that second cup becomes a third or a fourth?  i can only imagine how much harder yet more violently you become compelled to escape then.

mm but my that does smell good.  maybe i'll go off slowly. try sliding down the mountain on a steamy wave of short bursts?  i can postpone; i'll start down, for real, on monday.

just a taste, i just need a taste.


Aug 31, 2015

Deeps

She had a way of staring into other's souls so deeply that she'd reach bottom, only to find herself there, staring back.

Aug 29, 2015

Today is day of strange coincidence

Scene: self at coffee shop, reading the Aug. 31, 2015 edition of the New Yorker.

Scene: page is turned to page 13, an advertisement for the Picasso Sculpture exhibit at the MoMA, coming this fall. (Member Previews Sep 10-13)

Action: I pick up my phone to mark down the dates.

Setting: I've finally gotten up the courage to look up Elvis Presley's birth date, moments before. I read Presley's biography this January (book recommended by Etsy's CEO Chad Dickerson, in an internal email chain). I'd been avoiding it for months now, but curiousity won out. Right. Now.

Action: I'm Googling famous people with my birth sign.

And then: A wild Pablo Picasso appears.

#what_the_ever_living_fuck

Aug 28, 2015

dream sxapes

last night I was lost in Split/Dubrovnik, responded to an ad for a game night via a list serve and ended up, confusingly enough at a different game night, the weekly meeting of the local bdsm club. (oops). they were nice but I couldn't keep up with their jokes, the newspapers filled with lewd images were beyond my reckoning, the night ended when i couldn't remember my ATM pin, which would get me into the second round of that night's games, deeper in the pub's belly.  Some nice ladies stayed out in the common room though, playing some weird form of newspaper boggle with pencils and tales of sexploits.

upon reflection it was a weird form of social psych sadism, I suppose.

I headed home early and got lost or something somehow ran into my old 7th grade friend/crush named Two who was working in the pub as a busboy and saw me there. He warned me that it was a good thing I hadn't been able to remember my pin; that the back room was dirty and dank and that it wasn't a good next level to find yourself at. I struggled for a while with the decision to somehow reassure him that it wouldn't have been the first time I found myself in dark places or that I could have handled it but decided that that was quite beside the point of it all, anyway.

Then we were escaping, somewhere still in the city, mostly just to stone benches where we could catch up on lives long since lived. He was afraid of running into his wife, but I felt something bigger looming down over us, and ran away, back to my room, at the corner of the city, built into its heavy stone walls and up above the din of the crowded streets, below.

Aug 27, 2015

In so many ways

I saw someone drawing on the train today, the second person this week. They were both equally talented and that old doubtful demon raised his head again and asked: how hard is it to draw, nicely, to draw well. Are we all inborn artists, just waiting for the call, the reckoning, the right smile from the right muse on the subway?

I don't know anymore, I just don't know anymore. Sometimes I think that it's just The City and that there's something in the water that changes us all to be the best at what we are and then from time to time I meet someone who isn't and is struggling and I know that I am wrong.

You were good at drawing though, you *are* (still and always, so might we all) talented but whether that proves or disproves anything is unknown and probably, as is wholly probable, uncertain.  You're not a good sample set as you were and why do all the talented people end up, at one time or another, in the new york xity.

(I am nothing; I am naught. What am I doing here; I don't know anymore)

Aug 26, 2015

draft copy

** VACATION THAT SETS YOU FREE **
** that's a lot of responsability for a vacation, dont you think? **
** YES BUT FREEDOMMMMM **
** reality girl, be realistic.  what's going to make this vacation different than the other ones you've taken? **
** how is spending time trotting around Europe really any different than trotting around NYC? **
** WEIRD LANGUAGES, DIFFERENT SYSTEMS, BEAUTIFUL BEACHES **

if you are a prolific person, then be prolifical

awkwardness is no excuse for lack of manners.
no manners is a fear of interacting.  COWARDICE!?

______ is a very well mannered person.  is it a matter of remembering to interact?
of interacting at the right level? of saying hello, how are you doing?

today, i learned that six thirty is family dinnertime at the neighborhood diner.

i dont want to couch my view as the 'feminist' perspective, but thats what it is.
at the root core of it. a feminine perspective.
rock it girl

if my legacy had to be anything, i think i would want it to be coinage of the term 'dainty hiking'
~~attributes of a 'dainty hiker'~~
- really into ultralight packs (this is a practical concern, a dainty hiker is weak as shit)
- never seems winded
- bounds down hill
- shoes that look more like slippers than hiking boots (see above about being weak as shit. those hiking boots are heavy as fuck)
- always seems to have all the things that you could need.
- crosses streams via the rocks whenever possible (dislikes wet feet)
- takes a lot of pride in finding convenient, well-shielded spots to pee

Aug 23, 2015

Mad respect

To all the single soul apartment dwellers that buy whole watermelons

And doubly, to those that finish them within the week.

To the fools with hangovers that wake up super earls.

To all the ladies making breakfast.

To all the peoples still asleep.

To all those that still start debates on the internet, like it's 1988 and we're all just trying to connect, for the first time in a long time.

Or maybe in forever.

"For-ever-ever?"

Yeah



Fo'ever.

Aug 22, 2015

Growing up

Sometimes I think growing up is more and more just circumscribing things that you really want to happen in life as opposed to things that you think would be cool but aren't really a necessary requisite experience.

The growing up part is where the requisite experiences set gets distinctly smaller, and more refined.

Along with a healthy dose of not give a fuck itude. But maybe that's just the circle getting smaller, too.

Aug 21, 2015

status: caffeinated

americano for the 'muricans
espresso for the very harried
latté for the blue bloods
macchiatto for the red bloods
tea for the pacificts
and the brits
decaf for the puritanicals
hot chocolate for those cold winter nights.


~~~~~




Aug 20, 2015

today, i learned

today, i learned that people don't cease to exist when you stop thinking about them. they go on living, day in and day out.  even though you've blotted them out of existence, mentally, they still breathe.  they exhale.  they talk, maybe even laugh sometimes.

as surprising as it may sound, your mental energy waves weren't the thing keeping them alive.



they didn't need you, after all.

Aug 18, 2015

CS

How's the culture shock?

It's there. Just, there. Like the pair of woolen socks in your socks drawer in August - you don't have a lot of use for it. Unlike woolen socks, there's never a season for it.

But its good to know it's there, like a reminder of another time, so different than the present, that exists.

Aug 16, 2015

Two Memoirs

There's something so rewarding about finishing a book the same day you buy it.  Almost like keeping a promise to yourself -- made, worked at, and then completed -- all within the memory space of a day.  No hanging obligations to wake up to.  No dread or guilt or growing pile in the corner.

*magic*

I read two books today.  I cheated -- I traveled backward in time 5 hours and reclaimed each and every one of those extra hours for book cramming.  The cheating was an unnecessary, preemptive precaution: I still have another 5 hours until today is officially done with.

Two books for today: H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald and Yes Please by one Amy Poehler.  I've been wanting to read H for months and was beyond thrilled when the Heathrow airport had it on the shelf.  Amy Poehler's book was a chance encounter -- and at "buy one get one half off" hard to pass up.

Amy's book was delightful, though quite par for the course in the self-deprecating, life-celebratory memoir category.  Definitely worthwhile.

The Hawk book, also a memoir, was far more ascetic and personalized.  Well written, with a clear story arc than Poehler's, but lacking some of the jolting wit.  They're not fair comparisons, but it's hard to keep from making what with their temporal proximity and categorical similarity.  The images in hawk are so vivid that it's not a book I feel I'll read again -- the mental portrait I have of the author and her hawk have been indelibly inscribed on my memory.

Aug 5, 2015

Paperratti

Who are the Medici?  Like really, who are they?  Do they still exist?  Or did their clan die out years ago, same as other once powerful clans have eventually died out?  I know what their seal looks like (or at least think I know, to be quite frank I'm not convinced that it's not the seal of the Vatican.  10th generation Lutherans are really quite ignorant about these sorts of things).

Let me tell you what I have learned about the Medici in the intervening hours since I arrived in Florence 10 hours ago.  There were 6 ruling Medici 'kings' (or 7?).  They are buried in a grand, Michelangelo designed and (mostly) built crypt of sorts in the middle of Florence.*  I say "of sorts" because the crypt is entirely above ground; it is reminiscent of a chapel.  In the main cryptic part, there are 6 sarcophagi, one for each of the Medici kings.  The room of Sarcophagi is large, rotundular, and covered from top to magnificent bottom in the most wonderful colors of granite and precious stones.  There is more lapis lazuli inlaid in the tilework of the sides of the sculphercher than I have ever seen in one place. The gorgeous blue literally robbed me of breath.

I learned that Michelangelo was the put in the Medici's care as a youngster (teens, maybe younger?).

Things unrelated to the Medicis (or maybe tangentially related) that I know now: I now know what marble looks like when carved.  I know that most Renaissance carvers were kind of shit at women's, erm,topography.  (If I *see* another man thigh on a woman, ech.  Or maybe women were more manly 500 years ago... yeah right.)  I know what poor quality carved marble looks like.

Back to the Medicis: I know that there were (at the very least) 3 Cosimos, 2 Ferdinandos and 1 Francesco (all of whom are grandly entombed at the family crypt).  Their crest is of 5 ugly red globules topped by a 6 ugly globule, except in lapis lazuli that contains within itself 3 golden florets.  The Medici were patrons for a shit ton of art.  They paid for the glitzy, multi'colored Duomo church (3rd largest in Christendom, if Rick Steves is to be believed) and matching baptistry, and matching bell tower.  And probably also paid for a large number of the galleries and carved marble sculptures that literally litter the streets of Florence.

I also know this: the Medici are dead.  They have been for centuries.  But people (self included) still pay good dollars to see the detritus that they left behind.  Years ago.  The wealth and gardens and such of the Medicis was such that it exists.  Still, today, largely preserved by, what I can only imagine, is the people of Florence and, in a more basic sense, the morbid curiosity of people such as myself who pay into this system, and buy into the grand history that is, and continues to be, the Medici.  Because the Medicis, may they rest in peace, are probably one of the richest dead families in the world.  The gold and precious stones and man hours and carved marble that makes up their physical kingdom is unreproducible.  No one can buy it.  And there may not be enough lapis lazuli left, untouched in the world to populate yet another dead man's crypt.

All this to say that I can't help but think of a passage from Finite and Infinite Games where to the player of the finite game, the victor plays the game such that the game cannot be played again.  The victor wants the game to end, for the only game that has been played to be the one that he has won.  Then the trophy that he has won will be his forever; his role shifts from that of a game player to one that makes sure that no one else can win the game such as he has won it.

If, in some sense, riches were a game, I would say that the Medici, may God let their soles rest easy in their marble tombs, have come fairly close to holding their trophy, even into death.


* Michelangelo ran off to Rome at some point, presumably after one of his patron saint Medicis died.  Or maybe he went with their blessing.  At any rate, he left for Rome, leaving in his wake several unfinished sculptures, most notably, in my mind at any rate, the faces of Day and Night, on two of the alters of the Medici crypt.

Concrete

Our weird, divorcing yet comforting concrete that cocoons us apart from the world, the real non-slicked surface of rocks and bugs and unevenness. That's what Italy is missing - the miles of concrete, chalky white fresh concrete or the darker cracking stuff, the lifecycle of our shell.


Humans: tortoises with houses made of concrete.

Right leaning

Wherein the real meaning of "Liberty" and "Freedom" means the right of every man to his own tiny, fascist kingdom.


Public debate then, is important; it amounts to inter-fiefal negotiation.

Aug 2, 2015

Final Analysis

I changed my mind about Ellen Ullman's By Blood. On a whole, the narrator reminds me more of Humbert Humbert in Nabokov's Lolita. 

The myopia was limited to a particular passage. Overall the style is jagged, it changes as the narrative focus shifts from the process of analysis to the girl's origin story.

Meh.

Maria

I'm on my way to Milan for my first solo Euro trip.  At least the first part solo.  I don't have many expectations. All I know is that this is new. I'm not sure what it will be like. Maybe I'll hate traveling alone?
I left my laptop at home - this is the longest I've ever gone without it. In fact, this may be the longest that I've given myself to not think about work. Or side projects. Of accomplishing, but only in thought.
Well, that's not entirely true. I brought a stack of books and magazines a foot high. Reading material accounts for roughly half my luggage.  The plan is to finish them off (2 novels written by a programmer turned writer*, 1 nonfiction book about Orientalism**, a travel guide for Croatia [part 2 of Eurotrip], a few ripped out chapters of an Italian guide book, and the 2 most recent issues of the New Yorker). I'm honestly not terribly excited about any of them - each has an ulterior motive behind it.  The scheming for a better self: it acknowledges no bounds.
The two novels are by Ellen Ullman. (Source of recommendation: I believe it was a previous copy of the New Yorker, in a review for her novel The Bug). I started the other one I bought on a whim (recommended by Amazon) called By Blood. It's a novel about a man who becomes a willing interlocutor on a woman's sessions with her analyst.
The style reminds me of a distant echo of Clarice Lispector. It's not quite as myopic and slow paced as Clarice, but the singular focus on the narrator's psychic experience of living through this other woman's story harkens to a similar self-analytic style. It lacks the extensive grave and 3rd voice that seems to haunt Lispector's stories, but the detailed, minutiad dissection of motives echoes similarly.
This is a book about relationships, particularly the relationship of a patient to their therapist and thru their conversation, a proxy to every other relationship in the patients' (and by virtue of perspective, also the narrator's) life. Via the narrator, we hear another woman's analytic proceedings, annotated with the narrator's own experiences with analysis: his frustration and familiarity with the tics and tactics that comprise an analyst's toolbox.
All this to get to say: I want to tell you about one of my analysts. I want to tell you about Maria.
Maria was my analyst for a few short months. I saw her for a part of the time that I lived in Houston in 2011. Her office was a short drive from the Houston headquarters of the consulting firm I worked for. Most days I showed up to work at client's offices not headquarters, but it was nice to have our offices and Maria in the same neighborhood. There was something comfortable about the proximity of two painful yet familiar things. I never felt at home in either place, but they were places I could be, nonetheless; similar in the familiarity of otherness.
Maria was a short woman with dark hair. She was pretty, in her early to mid-thirties. Her last name suggested Latina roots, but her office decor and features were Asian in character. She would keep notes as I talked on a large yellow notepad and ask probing questions. Watching the pace of her hand as it scribbled across the paper didn't do much to calm the unease that I, invariably, felt while sitting on her sofa.
I don't know how I found her. I don't remember how I paid for her either - if she was a medical expense or something I coughed up the cash for on my own. I do remember feeling guilty about spending money on it.
I don't remember when I would go to see her - if it was something that I took off early for or left in the middle of the day. One day when I went it was raining. Another was hot and sunny. Yet another time I think I showed up on the wrong day; I'm not sure she was there.  Or maybe she was and we missed each other.
I do remember taking a certain relish in the way my work heels would click across the asphalt on my way from the car to the door. The feigned sense of professionalism of being able to smooth out my long navy pencil skirts as I sat down on her upholstered sofa. And the feeling of revelation, of self definition by contrast, when I'd wear flip flops and shorts to a session on the weekend, knowing that my eye makeup was smudged and my face was puffy.
I never parked close to the building - the lot was small. I parked 3/4 of the way across the lot, on the second row away from Westheimer. There were never any more than five cars in the whole space.
As it was the walk was short. It could have been shorter.
There was a buzzer box that I rang to be let in. Once I think I buzzed another office because she didn't answer right away. That buzzer was the source of much anxiety. I never knew who would answer. What if I was turned away?
I never told Maria about my fears about her buzzer box. I'm not really sure what we talked about. I remember silence. And crying. And feeling embarrassed about the pile of tissues. The embarrassment of wasting her time with sobs. It never occurred to me that it was my time, only hers.
Paradoxically, I don't think that I ever really forgave her for making me pay her to watch me sob. Nothing seemed to change. Eventually, she started suggesting that I come more frequently than twice a week. I didn't want my life to be one long, endless session of sobbing. I began to resent the suggestion that I needed more time to get to whatever 'it' was. I felt I was wasting her time. One of our last times we spent together was a long discussion about what made therapy, with its awkward pauses and probing questions, useful.
Outside of tears and questions about why, I'm not sure what I talked about. I just know that none of it felt very real or concrete.
I ended it when she asked me to talk about us.
* Research for the future
** A bit of a dry read, but an incisive and provocative critique of American cultural anthropology
*** I learned one thing from my time with Maria. I forget it often. In fact it is more common that it is forgotten than remembered.
I learned that within myself there exists a beautiful, golden child. When she plays, life is never boring.

Fun things about Europe

1/ not knowing what language will come out of a stranger's mouth
2/ not knowing what language will come out of my mouth
3/ for a more than nominal fee, exploring the reaches of human curiosity and ego vis a vis the opulent houses and gardens the rich of the turn of the century left behind
4/ wine that costs as much as fruit juice
5/ imagining what people who slept in cherub adorned beds did for giggles
Unrelatedly, curiousity brings its own rewards.

Jul 29, 2015

Morels of Morals

Q: What is the emotion underwriting moral superiority?
A: (unconfirmed)
Contempt
Fear
Pleasure

Q: From where does moral superiority stem?
A: (proposed) belief in right and wrong, and the application of this principle onto all interactions, human, fowl, or beast.

Q: Whom does moral superiority affect?
A: (proposed, unconfirmed) the affectations are extended to all who come in contact with a moral spirit but the most lasting damage is wrought upon he whom holds these beliefs. An careless moral superiorist stands at risk of the perceived power of morality becoming the most pleasurable of all sensations

Q: How does moral superiority form?
A: (conjecture, purely) genetics, cultural training, infectious other moralists.

Q: Why did moral superiority not die with religion?
A: (divinely guessed) although religion served as the house of rules (morals) that provided an ample frame or structure for a culture of moral superiority to develop, the emotional underpinning of superiority, once established, survives long beyond the life of its divine host, much as a morel in the forest flourishes on the tree, in life and in death.

Jul 28, 2015

not so

Not so secret secrets:

Modest Moose has not one but two drummers 

It's not entirely true in a factual sense but the following feels true: last Wed, I went to a Modest concert; it was my first

I spent the whole thing in rapturous fear

Tonight, I submitted my first OSS pull request. First in a long while. Maybe since my time at the Recurse Center.

I can't forgive -- I don't know how. And every sin is unforgivable. Especially yours.

Jul 26, 2015

other people

other people, like puddles on the surface of a glass carpet that I am trapped beneath.


words. what are words.

sometimes they're just that: pesky, wordy things.

Jul 25, 2015

what do you dream, love

"What are you doing love?"

"Chasing the dream, Ma. Chasing it with everything I've got."

"You're gonna have to wake up sometime, you know that love"

"But there ain't no dream when I'm awake."

Jul 24, 2015

VR

I v-introduced you to the team today. V is for virtual. Virtual, that modifier on reality.

All it really means is that I thought through the introductions. Mentally imagined them. Now you virtually know everyone. My Sims version of everyone can go out to drinks or run into each other at corners and it wouldn't be weird.

Virtually, we're all friends.

Jul 18, 2015

Weekend wandering

Justifiable incension over the dominance of MtoF being the 'default' transgender trope.
"It's just not as big a deal for women" is horseshit.
It's still just all male identity politics.

Gratitude that RM didn't succeed at building the Battery Park bridge.

Adulthood as avoiding entering a book store because I have a literal stack of prior commitments waiting for me at home.

Bad habits of following the bike path, even while meanderingly afoot.

Jul 13, 2015

tfw

you're about to unfollow everyone

you realize that you're taking the next train that comes

the sunset is over

the last chord is played, the tension is resolved, and it's the most beautiful C major chord you've ever heard

your regrets count comes up empty for the first time. ever.

the imposter retires. permanently.

-----

in the past six months I've discovered two amazing artists. O'Keefe and Callas. Two modern beautiful women with amazing talent and creative genius.

I found O'Keefe through a New Yorker article, back in December. Her book "Georgia O'Keefe : Art and Letters" was mentioned obliquely in a review for another book. I bought it on the spot for no reason other than the sheer fact that I could.

Her paintings are the work of a master artist. They're stunningly contemporary. Her mastery of color and gradients, emphasis and exploration of the boundary between light and shadow : unrivaled. The sinuous fold of her forms and attention to color are breathtaking and intimate - I spent hours pouring over all the brilliant photos of her work. A woman who put her thoughts on paper.

Maria Callas I discovered today. By the time I listened to her rendition of 'pres de ramparts' from Bizet's Carmen, it was the third or fourth that I'd heard.

Hers was perfect. Light, flirty, full throated sound with a dark and honest chest voice and the clearest most resonant high notes. It sounded effortless, like speaking. Her voice trembles with energy and liquid, just, pure perfect, personal, sound.

Dusk

Music made by other people. Especially if that music involves a guitar, and some Spaniards

The golden glow of windows, intensifying the deepening shadows.

The green, supple, grass of a north eastern summer.

Your voice (voi ici) on the answering machine, that many many years ago, warm and dancing.

Fireflies in the depths of tree shadows.

Words flowing through the brain, fluid and faint and deepening as the change in colors washing across the sky, high atop the shadows of tree tops.

Fade, to black.

Jul 11, 2015

Revolvr : Revolve :: Resolvr : Resolve

Our lives revolved around yours, I realize now. I wonder, now, years distant from it, if you were the only person who noticed.  In some way, you were the gravity of the nucleus, that thing that held us all together.

Still holds us all.

We didn't know it at the time, but I see now, later, how the potentiality that we vested in you weighed down your own soul the heaviest.

If I could give you one thing it would be the reassurance that I have not forgotten you but that you are not the central point, not for me, not any longer.  If there is any freedom in that, it is yours. What ever consolation that is, it's less than you deserve.


....


Speaking to my mother on the phone a few weeks (days?) ago, she asked me again what I did.  For a living.  What is it, she asked, what is it that you do for that company that you're working for?

How do you not know.  How.  How.  How.

The Lord, he knows.  He knows I tried. And Lord, he *knows* _how_ I tried.

Lord, I tried.


...


Living in the shadows comes easy to those who have been granted free passage amongst them.

Jul 5, 2015

Fording the Code Gap

Fuck it, Ford. You were supposed to deflate the 10x programmer mythology.  Not prop it up on some sort of "yes, but not for you" conjectiture.

The irony of hubris is that if you tell a person who believes firmly in their own exceptionality that there does in fact exist such a thing as a 10x programmer (they *don't* exist) and then go on to cheekily explain why said exceptional person cannot find and recruit them. Well yes, some portion of your reading population will take your point. The minority that doesn't will see 10x-ers under every rock, nook, and hackathon winners podium.

And. Worse of all, rather than letting this terrible mythology of rock star programming code slingers and problem solvers die the ignoble death of obscurity, you've prolonged and bolstered the idea that these people, no, deities, exist.

10x programmers do not exist. There are great, smart, wonderful coders that are marvelously productive. But thats a productivity that comes from practice. From studying. From domain knowledge.

No programmer's productivity exists in a vacuum. Programmers are often embedded within existing structures: languages, libraries, preexisting conditions called legacy code: ie everything that was written either before you arrived or before the new hotness of a JavaScript framework that you're currently using was introduced to the project. Legacy code, often times, is the code that you wrote last week.

10x-ers don't exist. Instead I'd posit that what you're looking for is harder to find, but far less tangible. Chances are your organization has some already : they're called senior engineers.

Are we?

She sat there, on the other side of the table, her languid green eyes focused on some drifting piece of daydream, just past my left ear.

"Friends?" I repeated.

"Yeah" she said "do you ever get the feeling that you don't really even know what a friend is?"

I stared back at her, a bit dumb founded.  Here was one of the most gregarious, friendly and befriended people that I knew.  She was popular by every account - had friends on both coasts, and at least two other continents.

"I mean, I just don't think that I get it sometimes", she continued.

Suddenly, inexplicably, I felt angry.  "Aren't we friends?" I asked, trying not to let my sudden emotions show.

Her eyes blurred out and then focused with a start, as if she was waking from a dream.

"Are we?" she replied.


'Are we?  Are we?'

I realized I didn't know.  Maybe I had never known.

I looked down. Quietly finished off my beer with a quick swallow, and,
without another glance in her direction,
got up and left.


Are we?

Jun 14, 2015

The places you'll go

I think I finally get what you meant about wanting to live your life w/o being driven by "where" you are living it. Like really get it.

Someone told me today I had a California accent, which got me thinking about it. Then a good friend told me he's moving out of NYC to Denver in November. I'm really happy for him; he's going to do really well there.

November is *soon*.

I love California but it's complicated. The first time I visited I was very much in love with someone that I very much couldn't have and didnt (still dont?) know how to handle it and moving there was my way of distancing myself from it, meanwhile building a dream place out of SF as the place that I (we?) might both end up one day and everything would be perfect.

I'll tell you it ends. He's happily partnered with someone else. We don't keep in touch. Memories of him have taken up residence in my head as a form of imaginary friend and confidant. I have no faith that this reproduction in any way resembles reality. I talk to the imaginary version every goddamn day. I keep thinking that I'm over it only to wake up and realize that I'm not.

Again. And again. And again. And again.

SF is tainted. It's covered with memories of memories, layered in one recurring red-eye flight sleep-waking dream atop the other. The city's not that big and I've been to every corner of it, infusing the whole damn peninsula with echoes of unrealized desires.

I need to move on. I think part of that is going to involve, eventually, leaving NYC, but I'm increasingly worried that SF is antithetical to the goal of a clean slate.

That's all just a way of saying I really hate this city sometimes, the lack of grass, how long the winter lasts, all the while acknowledging that how I feel about this place doesn't seem as important as it once did. I also love this city, deeply, the only emotion any reasonable person should be able to muster for a thing that you understand so deeply.

Everywhere I go, there I am, memories and all. The whole world is tainted.

I needed to say this as much for me than anyone. Thanks for listening.

Jun 11, 2015

27

It's hard to believe now but I'm 27 now; the same age that you were when we met. I was 24 then, a few short weeks away from 25.

I get it now. And god damn, man. 27 is every minute as sexy as you made it look.

I can't help but wonder, sometimes, what your 30 is like. (Or will be?) And if it is as glorious as your 27 appeared to be.

My instincts tell me that it's better: You seemed like the sort of person that ages like a scotch -- well

Development Practices

Leave the office with failing tests.
Groggy morning tomorrow you will thank current tired end of day you for the huge boost of direction in the morning.

Yes to starting the day with some easy wins, wins that didn't feel nearly so easy the night before.


Jun 10, 2015

Evil is ...

good intentions* that ignore emotion.  The winning out of 'logic' over and above 'human' considerations.

'human' considerations: emotions, how a perfectly 'emotional' being would be expected to react in such a situation

'logic' : self-encapsulated reasoning that constructs rules in which your underlying desires / self-motivations can be justified.  largely influenced by observed mechanics of the culture / micro-society an individual finds themselves embedded in.

*good intentions that are unintentionally, but in actuality, self-centered? harmful to others?


Exhibit A: Walter from Breaking Bad.  Begins drug trade to pay for cancer.  Stays in drug trade to...?

Exhibit B: The Red Witch / Stannis from Game of Thrones.  Begins quest for throne because God says he should.  Sacrifices personal happiness for supposed victory in battle.  Happiness, but at what cost?

Jun 7, 2015

Haunted

His voice haunts me in the most diabolical of ways: late at night, drunk, unalone but uncertain of myself as any other moment. I hear it then, as I edge near the boundary of drunken forgetting when intimacy looms large in the viewfinder, as it did then, a fair half decade ago now: you aren't who I thought you were.

That rushing sound you hear is all the doubts you ever had being confirmed in a single exhale of someone else.

But who you were: you knew.

Tata tata rata: "Is this real life?"

Jun 5, 2015

De la infancia

Some days it feels as though I am reliving the same lessons; lessons that I should have learned at age 8, on the playground. They didn't take.

And so, again.

Protean

That strange protean state where
tiredness transmutes from bone
weariness into a high pitch whine,
resonated through a taut jawline.

Oh good, your aerial passage partner
conscientiously mumbles into your ex-conscious
ear canal.
You're not asleep.

Nor awake now, miles farther down the
minutes since that early morning
unwaking.

May 19, 2015

Dog

To you,
I am
steps
on the stairs,
a passing set
of
rhythmic
depressions.

I try
not to take
your growls
personally,
Nature's proxied
arbitration
of intrinsic worth,
but instead
to see me as you
see:

A passing set
of rhythmic
depressions.

May 18, 2015

Iterator.next()

Stories
Grass
Sunshine in every corner
Old armchairs
Words, marvelous words, soul-enriching, gravity-defying, made up, inspiring, archaic, gallivanting words.

May 17, 2015

May 3, 2015

Não

Não
quero ser reconhecida,
poeta
Não
quero ser só parte do
passado
seu
Não
quero ser
profeta
Mas
sei como a vida
é

Apr 28, 2015

Sgs 6 Review

My much beloved Moto X's screen shattered a week ago. While fumbling through my too small pockets for my wallet at an ATM, it slipped out of my fingers and crashed, corner first into the ground. The portion of the screen (lower right corner) where the enter button that allows you to submit your super secret key phrase, stopped functioning. Slow, dead pixel fade to black over the next four days. I can hear it ring, and buzz with texts, scrabbling against its dark glass coma. Its obsolescence, impending.

I had just gotten it back from the repair center too. A three month wait for Motorola to send me a new phone, with a new screen. The last one had shattered not nearly as magnificently. I had lhipped it off in December and just gotten this new one back in the mail, 12 weeks later.

I am feeling a bit burnt out by waiting periods and temporary measures. I may yet send it back in, but its run as my primary phone is over. Once accursed, forever unlucky.

I spent a week without without a fully functional phone before succumbing to morbid curiosity and buying Samsung's latest monstrosity - the Galaxy S 6 in champagne gold.  64 GB of memory. Fancy camera. The new curvy edge where the screen falls away from you, a pixel waterfall on silkily curved glass.

The camera is out of this world good and deserves the hype. The form factor is slimmer than the Moto X series - making it easier to hold. The edge of the bezeled screen and the screen come together in a thin edge of metal - all the better to grip you by, my dear. Overall, with a thinner profile and a boxier shape, the drop factor of this phone is far better than the Moto X.

It's also way sleeker than my tricked out Moto X (turquoise back plate and black detailing, with a matte finish). The gold is iridescently discolored in some places, but it sparkles in the light. The curved screen and flat back makes it fade into whatever table I place it on.

The curved edges are a bit of a double edged-sword. While nice to look at, it's not easy to grip without touching the screen. It takes some practice to get used to clutching your phone from the back or cradling it delicately. In the meantime, I've had a few Dots mishaps, and unintentional tweets.

Where the phone starts to fail, and fail miserably is in the software. Pretty outside, rotten heart.  To start Samsung chrome is atrocious. The amount of ridiculous dialogs and wizards that were thrown in front of my fast during the initial 24 hours of phone ownership incurred its own form of traumatic stress. Here are some weird things: the two text messages I received, inexplicably, through the Samsung messenger app that I can only view if I accept Samsung Messenger as the one true SMS application. As punishment for refusing to capitulate, these have morphed into an evergreen notification, chilling in my notification inbox from now until kingdom come.

Some, luckily chosen apps can be minified and added to the home screen. The best analogy is an app as a widget. It seems useful and tacky. Having Twitter on the home screen may be a nice touch, but may not be good for my oversharing paranoia. 

I miss some Moto X features. Always on listening and being able to re-name Google Now to whatever I wanted (Ari, come back!) were seemed like superfluous features at the time, but I miss them. I also miss the motion sensing screen that, with the wave of a hand, would summon the time. Basically, my Moto X made me feel like a techno wizard with a spirit familiar. I miss the magic.

The absolute worst thing about the new Samsung phone is the emoji set. Moto Xs come with the Android stock set of emoji, cute yellow caricatures, distinctly Android.  Samsung, in some god forsaken act of ego, created and shipped their own wooden, knock off emoji characters. It's a distinct set, though stunningly similar to the Apple based set. Honestly, I was willing to look past the god awful, Apple inspired home page and app organization that Samsung provided. And never mind that the form factor and color options most closely mimic that of the iPhone 6. I can even look past Samsung's dedication to a hardware home button and rewiring every primary function through it (screenshots, camera quick launch). But the amount of complete copiage that is the emoji set should be worth at least a few hundred million in infringement. It's fucking awful. As an example, I leave you with these atrocities. For those of you who cannot see them, consider your luck.  🙀😿😖🙈

All in all, I'm retiring my wizard staff of a Moto X and keeping the Samsung, but planning to root it to get rid of the atrocities committed by Samsung to the emoji set.

Apr 19, 2015

Towerized

Echoes of the past come for you, love.

And I ask again: Where will you go next to escape me?

Alaskian, moon shot, paradise.

Run away, run away, run away, Rapunzel.

Apr 15, 2015

Bad Gateway

It started with me getting on the wrong train. Again. Third time in just as many days and, you're out.

Spent five seconds sprinting for the right one at the next station, and five minutes convincing myself that I had lost no time. Trains are serialized; the one I truly wanted had been behind the one I took.

Every mistake has consequences. This ones involved a labyrinthine trek to the next train's tracks. That's when I saw it - the double wide, black iron gate with peeling paint. It was pinned back against the corridor's white tile walls with a black metal chain. How long had it been pinned open?

My mind wandered, and I saw it closed. Barring a mob, trapping them inside this dirty train depot, beneath the ground.

Hot, angry flesh sweating against the iron gates of privilege and the greed of neo-capitalists.

#fightfor15

Apr 12, 2015

Tired Psychology

So tired I am wide awake. So immediately wide awake, I am suspect of the tiredness.

Is it possible to  'pular' exhaustion and sleep deprivation vis a vis a 12 hour video game cram session on a train that takes your tiredly half awake self from the bowels of French Canada to the fully awake underbelly of Penn Station, N Y C?

I think I'm in love with this cab driver. 

The depth of the feeling a barometer for the very real exhaustion. Tiredness that consumes the muffler of kinship with all humankind - the self; it got rubbed off a few nights of drinking back and hasn't found its way home yet.

It will catch up to me while I am sleeping. Unless I sit up, wide eyed and waiting for it.

Dawn comes with the first light.

Apr 7, 2015

A New Yorker's Pocket Dictionary

"Overslept" : woke up early, but got dragged into the book I left on my bedside table.

"Couldn't sleep" : book got real interesting around 12 midnight, which means I didn't fall asleep until 4 a.m.

"Errands" : playing with puppies.

"Lost" : I left late

"Train got delayed" : I left late

"Fucking MTA" : I left real late

"My metro card expired" : I lost it

"I'm not really hungry" : I just ate a chocolate bar

Mar 10, 2015

Sprang

There were some people who woke up this morning and put on the same thing they were wearing yesterday.

The same overcoat. The same gloves. The same shoes. The same scarf.

May today be the last day.

Mar 7, 2015

Red, like the Devil

Today was really hard. But the hard was worth it.

Verizon is the best example of a system that has created a semi-monopoly on a basic necessity, and now that their position and profitability is unquestioned, are using their clout and influence to eek more money out of unsuspecting customers.  Where is the consumer watchdog organization that is supposed to be protecting us from this type of invasive exploitation?

Verizon tracks its customers without their consent, at times in direct opposition to your protests. They sell your data. There is no ethics in their business practices - they own the pipeline that is their customers' communication lifeline. They're exploiting this position - plain and simple.

There is no impetus in Washington to stop them. If you live far out of the range of competitors, your choices are grim. And expensive.

If you can leave them, you should. There are other, more ethical options.

We should all call our senators.

Collected things

A list of things:
- Daydreaming
- 4 - 8 inches of fresh powder
- the colors the sky makes at peak sunset
- detailed crash reports
- blankets

A confession:
Sometimes I buy things that feel unnecessary and a bit extravagant, worrying that I'll never use them. 99% of the time, my worries go unfounded - they're so cherished that I use them constantly. The blanket I'm under was one of those things.

A tweet that got lost on it's way to twitter:
"The correlation between love for blankets and fresh snow powder."

A picture from today:
A snowman in a field of trodden snow. A dog in the distance yaps at his owner. Meanwhile, on the horizon, the sun sets behind clouds.

A truth to live by:
There is more love in the world than hatred.

A scientific fact:
Most humans can distinguish between 10 million colors, but only 30 shades of grey.
via @qikipedia

Mar 2, 2015

Dream Journal

Working from California, distopian-esque utopic suburban lawns, flaming impressionist sunsets setting beyond undulating hills, swimming lessons (you didn't know how, but you learned), the flutter kick, harmonizing, beers, impromptu jam session, heading home, confession time.

Mar 1, 2015

Train Talk

A voice floats through the throng on the train platform: "hold the doors!" The passengers on the platform pause, parting ways for the voice to pass.

He arrives in the doorway bracing himself against the doors, as if he were Atlas holding apart the skies, all the while bellowing at his compatriot to hurry up.

We, the silent passengers, train riders, are with their arrival, transformed. We have become 'audience.'

They're dressed in what could pass as civilian army fatigues, a muted mustard yellow. With bags and baggage occupying the space between the doors, turning it into their private theater.

Man I'm broke, one begins. They talk loudly, not to each other but to the larger the we that can hear them but will not, if rarely ever, partake in their dialog. Their accents are southern, maybe the Carolinas, maybe Georgia. They're taking the A to somewhere. Getting off at the next station.

"We could catch the A at Jay street", one bellows, the close quarters ignored.

The train stops - we've gone all of one station further. They bundle themselves loudly off the train, backpacks and loudness off to find another audience.

The doors close, the train rolls on, the car feels suddenly and violently silent.

blank canvas

this canvas is blank. does that mean it's time for me to start afresh? that's one of the side effects of blank canvas -- it brings...