Saturday, June 23, 2012

Solstice Celebration

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We're into the 2nd day of our 31st retreat.  That's four events a year:  both solstices and both equinoxes, times doing it for almost eight years.

David Feinstein came by, somewhat glowing (livid) over the poor quality of Python tutorials, but then computer science teachers aren't known for being the world's leading pedagogues, with some exceptions.  I wasn't defensive.  My stuff is hands on at least.  Some people mistake curling up with a good language book for practice.  Not that I'm against "reading about" but lets be honest about what we're doing.  You might pick up more of the flavor, and get some buzz words.

Stephen Hawking's talk went well we were told.  Terry was producing that in California this week.

Tara joined us for breakfast at Mt. Tabor Cafe, explaining her work on The Hill (OHSU) which involves studying a certain metabolic pathway in mammalian skin cells, involving Golgi bodies. Get a baseline, between normal and cancerous cells, then snip the pathway in both with some blocker DNA and measure the impact, something along those lines.

We dove head first into the J language, after breakfast.

So yes, the J language.  I studied it for awhile, and still think learning that, in tandem with Python, would be an interesting way to go.  They're quite different, which is partly the point.  As you learn one special case language, learn two for contrast.  I can believe, with the Lex Institute, that makes the absorption of both more efficient i.e. two is less than the price of one in some dimensions.

It works on the iPhone, Android in beta.  I got the console running on Mac OS, but not the GTK version, as I don't have enough permissions as the normal user or whatever.  I just haven't had time to climb the ladder in 10.7.4.  Make "teaching Kirby" a full time job for a million people, but then make it all open source and for the general public.  Looks a lot like it does, plus I get my invisible army, an ego boost, or at least a sense of being emboldened (helps sometimes).

David DiNucci came by later, our NASA-educated computer scientist, inventor of scalable parallel processing thinking.  Patrick Barton was by earlier, our Sandia Labs vet, put himself through Dartmouth etc.  We're an interesting crew, even when skeletal.  Not a big party.  Cold, gray and rainy.  Foregoing any alcohol.  Jon Bunce.  Bob, back in school.  I took some time out to welcome the Python trainer from Boston, working with Michelle, Selena and others.  We're having a Pythonista convergence this weekend, run by the XXs.

Lindsey (formerly with Computer Science Corporation) has been reading the Wall Street Journal fairly religiously and sometimes updates me on various stories, about stocks and bonds and the price of gold.  We've been talking about gold and silver for years by now.  I could use more documentaries about current events though (Syria etc.).  Romney too I'm sure. Make 'em for all of us.  Of course it might just be I'm not watching the right channels.  I've been there before.

Uncle Bill came through.  A young naval man who'd written a sophisticated poem about the USS Colorado -- spared Pearl Harbor (in routine repairs in Bremerton) -- had left Bill with it, and Bill had followed the gun of that ship, post decommissioning, to its new display site in Chehalis, the veteren's museum there.  He gave the poem to the museum, as having the most appropriate archive.  We're lucky when scholars do these advanced placement and sorting tasks for us, thereby strengthening our storytelling.

Jimmy Lott swung by while we were watching Rebuilding Indian Country, 1933 (the whole thing).  His family is out of town and he'd not been in the Pauling House before.  We watched some Youtubes of his son Harmony in comedy clubs in LA. After he left, we proceeded to screen a full length movie, Spielberg's Adventures of Tintin.  Those who made it this far adjourned to The Bagdad for a nightcap.

Sweet dreams, Wanderers.