Content from 2012-01

Decompression
posted on 2012-01-29 19:14:13
It's time to spend an afternoon at the High Museum of Art. But first, I've found a new poet: Wislawa Szymborska.

I'm Working On The World
I'm working on the world,
revised, improved edition,
featuring fun for fools,
blues for brooders,
combs for bald pates,
tricks for old dogs.

Here's one chapter: The Speech
of Animals and Plants.
Each species comes, of course,
with its own dictionary.
Even a simple "Hi there",
when traded with a fish,
makes both the fish and you
feel quite extraordinary.

The long-suspected meanings
of rustlings, chirps, and growls!
Soliloquies of forests!
The epic hoots of owls!
Those crafty hedgehogs drafting
aphorisms after dark,
while we blindly believe
they're sleeping in the park!

Time (Chapter Two) retains
its sacred right to meddle
in each earthly affair.
Still, time's unbounded power
that makes a mountain crumble,
moves seas, rotates a star,
won't be enough to tear
lovers apart: they are
too naked, too embraced,
too much like timid sparrows.

Old age is, in my book,
the price that felons pay,
so don't whine that it's steep:
you'll stay young if you're good.
Suffering (Chapter Three)
doesn't insult the body.
Death? It comes in your sleep,
exactly as it should.

When it comes, you'll be dreaming
that you don't need to breathe;
that breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it's part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.

Only a death like that. A rose
could prick you harder, I suppose;
you'd feel more terror at the sound
of petals falling to the ground.

Only a world like that. To die
just that much. And to live just so.
And all the rest is Bach's fugue, played
for the time being
on a saw.
2011 in Review
posted on 2012-01-01 03:07:22
'I am only a man: I need visible signs. I tire easily, building the stairway of abstraction.' - Veni Creator, Czeslaw Milosz

So...I haven't written here in a while. I actually have a half-written post about how I'm disappointed with this administration and we're on a slippery slope towards throwing away some of our fundamental freedoms, like ...oh I don't know, habeas corpus...but since I started writing it the situation has deteriorated further. So great. I figured a year in review might be a little easier to write.

I'm exhausted. 2010 was a tough year but 2011 was a lot harder. On the other hand, the rewards have been greater. I've graduated, gotten a great first job, a lovely 12th story midtown apartment, written about twice as much code on personal projects as last year, and done some solid financial planning. Burke is moving to Indiana for a new job and I think he'll be much happier there. Luckily I found somebody to take his spot so we won't have to break lease.

Last year, Xach started a reddit thread on /r/lisp called 'Your Year in Lisp' which I replied to with some positive thoughts. This year has been even better. I wrote *a lot* more code. By comparison, last year I worked on 2 open source lisp projects and about 4 personal projects. This year I worked on about 8 personal projects and 2 open source projects.

What's really nuts is my realization that I've only been hacking real code for two years. I'd been reading SICP(starting in January '08) and hacking little snippets under 100 lines previously but never worked on a substantive piece of code. My first commit on a real codebase was this nasty diff to paktahn which I wrote about in this blog so long ago.

That was in October 2009. Before that, the most interesting and largest scale code I'd written was a script to process my ATT csv call logs. October 2010, I was still mostly hacking Paktahn though I did some minor work on Weblocks and also did some part-time PHP hacking. That was the first code I got paid to write. This October, I was putting the finishing touches on cl-scrobbler, a Lisp library for scrobbling to last.fm, and integrating it with Shuffletron.

I've been talking to Andy Hefner, the original author of Shuffletron, about merging my changes upstream and hope to find time to make that happen in 2011. I've started work on a MOS 6502 emulator in Lisp. The 6502 is the CPU that powered the original Nintendo. Also, I'm professionally hacking on a scary big Python CMS. There's also work I'm doing to get Paktahn to a state where I can pass off my role as maintainer to some interested guys that have been helping me with it. This decision is partly motivated by the fact that I switched to Debian recently and Paktahn is an archlinux specific tool.

I don't know what will come in the new year. I mostly hope to survive. Aside from continuing to improve my performance at work, I'd really like to increase my knowledge of Systems Programming in the coming year. That's going to mean a lot of C hacking. The last few months I've lost a lot of motivation and fire when it comes to personal hacking and studies. That will honestly be my biggest struggle going into the new year. Thank God I've got two more days to catch my breath.

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