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No Nostalgia

26-Jul-13

Motivated by some random post on Facebook.

  1. the state of being homesick : homesickness
  2. a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition; also : something that evokes nostalgia

Noise on the web-stream about “nostalgia” – made me realize I have none. The common theme is a desire to return to a familiar place or time.
Nope. No Thanks.

This rectangle of space on which I have spent more time than any other place … means nothing to me. Took care of my kids. Kept my promise to them. Otherwise I have no attachment to this place. The majority of my time here was far less than fun.

My kids seem to be very strongly attached to where and how they grew up. They have strong positive memories attached to this place, and past times.

Re-living the past, the common theme of nostalgia, does not sound fun. Return to a past point, with present knowledge, and change things? “Yes! Hell, Yes!!”

With a hint at key points, would have a very different life. Like my kids, but on those other paths, they would not exist. Makes them think.

Choices in music reflect this state of mind. Music collected at a more-or-less steady pace from the late 1970′s through the present. No attachment to any past time. Much folk near my age like old music and “tribute” bands, where I do not. Finding a fair amount of interesting new music. Tempted to prune and purge much of the older material from my collection.

No nostalgia.

House Concert

05-Jul-13

From the start, I assumed that the advent of the web would allow change the structure of how music was performed and distributed. The web allows more direct connection of all sorts, and in this case between musicians and their audience. Exactly what form that would take, I had no idea.

Let me set the context, here.

When you choose your music, you have your choice of all the music in the world. The music you collect is the best in the world – to your mind and taste.

Now imagine you about to host an event where a couple of the best musicians in the world want to perform in your home! Um, yes please! And … how did this happen? Though a series of small reasonable steps, enabled by connections and contacts via the web.

In the past, I had always assumed any like event would be far too expensive, and beyond my reach. Quite impossible! The reality is turning out a bit different. This will cost me time, and a modest amount of money, but should prove worthwhile for all involved (I hope!!).

This will be the second house concert I host. From the first the musicians got recorded material good enough to release. They used pictures taken in my house as promotional material (including some I took – which makes me unreasonably happy). And generally had a pleasant time meeting the folk in the audience.

The audience is the trick. This is non-mainstream, and I live in a quite conservative part of Orange County. Good music of this sort does not get performed much around here. Even in this area, I am sure there are enough folk to provide a healthy audience. I suspect this is a degrees-of-separation exercise. Find a few folk, they will lead to a few more, who in turn lead to others. Finding an audience is going to take time. In time I hope to find enough folk to host like events more often.

Meanwhile I have flyers to distribute, messages to send, and await RSVPs… :)

Visions

01-Jul-13

Seems there are an increasing number of folk in and around my life that see the world in an … er … different way. Not sure what to make of this, but should at least make an effort.

Went to a meetup a couple months back. Something about yoga and meditation (not much for mysticism). The attendees were mostly young and female. The organizer lead an exercise … something about relaxation, energies, and visions. Found her a bit pesky, as every time I started to relax and drift off … she had something else to say.

My mind wandered a bit during the time relaxed. Usual stuff, no “visions”, or other mystical experience.

Mind drifted … was in an amber field, outside an adobe-walled courtyard, walls gold with late afternoon sun. A bit later … floating in space, earth above, on a open platform with a rank of my cohort, in black armor, relaxed and waiting. The usual stuff when my mind wanders.

Wait, is this what other folk call “visions”?

Puzzle pieces and emotion

01-Mar-13

This is the picture that broke my drawing.

In college I took a single drawing class, and did somewhat well. Always wanted to take this a bit further.

I took up drawing again, a couple years ago. A local artist hosted sessions in his studio where I could draw against a live model. My drawing improved to the point that I could do figures well enough, but needed practice with faces. Went into my saved favorites from Flickr to find the best faces for practice.

After the above, my drawings became mechanistic, crude, and no longer improved. Had no idea why. My frustration level at the end of a session was incandescent, and I eventually stopped drawing.

In the last several weeks I have gone back to the hosted sessions and tried to draw. My drawings were crude and my frustration level extreme.

Of late I have spent time with folk (musicians) whose emotions are very much on the surface. Very different from the engineers in my working life. Feeling everything seems to be connected with making good music. This connection brought to mind the earlier drawing sessions. When I was drawing well … my emotions were very much active. In a sense, I was a bit in love with subtle female curves, and how light touched the model’s body. (And have a positive disinterest in drawing male models.) The end of a session was a bit painful – like falling out of love.

Thinking back, the drawing above was the inflection point. I had to suppress emotion and could not finish the drawing. In later drawing sessions, my emotions were still off, and I drew poorly.

Went back to the artist’s studio this week. Intentionally kept my emotions on. For the first time in a long while, my drawing improved.

Connections … the girl in the above picture posted a series of photographs to Flickr that were, frankly, brilliant. After a time, her postings slowed, and then stopped. At first she claimed her camera had lost it’s focus. A bit later she admitted the camera was not at fault. I wonder if she too suppressed emotion, without knowing. Feeling everything is painful.

Update: Three weeks and three drawing sessions later, my drawing continues to improve.

Another Lisp flashback

18-Mar-12

Reading up on Dependency injection in the Spring Framework. Class-binding is late-assigned in XML (mainly). Spring uses another (different) interpreted language, derived from JSP expressions.

Reading up on the Standard Template Library for C++. Class templates are written in this semi-interpreted template-script with tricky semantics, rather different from C++.

Right. This is doing badly a long-ago learned lesson. Lisp does all it’s meta-level stuff in … Lisp. A decades old insight. C++ has this newly-invented semi-interpreted declarative script for templates … that is tricky to interpret and not reusable. JSP and Spring share a very limited expression language, that is very much a niche, and not much worth reusing.

The Lisp community learned decades back the lesson of using the same language for meta-level stuff as for the regular level.

In the Java domain, I would use Javascript as the meta-language. Not quite the same level, but close enough, and able (in the case of Rhino) to readily access the Java world. The JSP expression language is a limited wart. Use Javascript.

There are lots of higher-order languages that could fit in this space, but the presence of Javascript in the browsers offers a selection criteria. Javascript is good enough.

Predictable ego – or “Shotwell” is a piece of crap – and priorities.

14-Mar-12

The prior photo-handler in Ubuntu was implemented in a slightly idiosyncratic language. Could be pragmatic, or could be programmer-ego. Not immediately obvious, which. The current photo-handler in Ubuntu (and OpenSUSE) is Shotwell … implemented in a *completely* idio … idiot … er, “unique” language. And it crashes on uploading photos … for months. (A photo-manager that cannot upload photos. Right.) There is an anti-pattern here.

We might make fun of Microsoft and the closed-source community for predictable sorts of anti-patterns … but the “open source” community is also prone to (different) sorts of anti-patterns. The photo-manager community is on a different sort of non-functional ego-trip, at present.

Not sure how much I care. Given a couple more (somewhat likely) upgrades at work, I may just buy a Mac, and stop spending my time getting this nonsense to work. (In my current role, less wasted personal time might translate to millions in revenue on the company’s bottom-line, through shortened product timelines. Nothing instantly provable, nor will I try. Personal motives still trump in personal time.)

Guess I am somewhat amused with the current tension. I do very much enjoy my work, but on personal time have more time than money. I have in past enjoyed spending personal time getting open source software to work … but not so much of late. Of late my personal time goes into my family, and to personal priorities. I spend personal time painting my house, fixing leaky toilets, driving my kids from one place to another, and other things. Would my work get more value if I could pay to get some of those things done? Very likely … but not easily provable, and I have no reason to try. As a guess, in my current situation, I would not be surprised if a thousand dollars of personal time translated into a million dollars of company revenue (or more). Given no way and no reason to prove … no point for me in spending time.

In a macro-economic sense, I am reasonably sure my choices are non-optimal. In the current economic system, my choices are personally optimal. This tension I find amusing.

Progress

04-Mar-12

Not much on my weblog in the past year. The past year has been about personal change.

At the work-level, went from working at a dull company with a dull product (kept alive only by a couple extreme efforts on my part). Served the purpose I needed. Allowed me a decade at home to raise my kids. The kids are doing great, and no longer need the time. The new job is anything but dull. (There was a bit of a worry on my part. Maybe I had become dull? As is turns out, hell no! This is fun … and my work could turn into more revenue for the new company than the entire gross income of the old company. Fun. A strong challenge. Definitely fun.)

At a personal level, had knee surgery about a year back, and working to bring my physical self in line with my self image. Hard to explain, perhaps. There was a time between high school and university when I did not know if I could reach the future I wanted. Hope was uncertain. Something woke, an aspect of my self, that took me then from an average cyclist to riding with UCSF category 2 cyclists (which at the time meant able to compete at a state and national level). These pictures are from that time:

Before the race... and after

Somewhere at the back of my mind, my mental self-image has always been something like what was in my mind at that time. In the past year, that long sleeping aspect awoke. Clearly I will never again be physically capable of what I could do as a 19-year-old kid, but I will do all that I can. Which as it turns out, is quite a lot. My weight has dropped, a lot. My endurance has increased. And I have added muscle mass. Lots of iteration needed. And something else.

Climbed up Saddleback Peak last weekend. The second time since resuming hiking. (The first was September 25, last weekend February 25.) My time to the top was close to 3 hours (for 8+ miles with 4000 feet of elevation change) with a similar time for the hike down. Perhaps my strongest hike yet, on that mountain. Took my regular ~11 mile longer hike through Whiting Ranch this weekend, and finished in my fastest time yet (a bit over 3 hours for ~2500 feet of elevation change – expected to be a slower, as still recovering from the Saddleback hike.) Getting steadily stronger.

Not done yet.

Mind tricks

02-Feb-12

During the “Art Walk” in Laguna Beach. Walking along a dark, crowded, noisy sidewalk.

“Do you have a cigarette?” Heard distinctly from an approaching blonde girl, when still twenty-odd feet away.

“No.” I answered, as the couple passed.

“What??” She turned after we passed. “What did you say??” She had a very odd expression, as she approached.

“I do not smoke.” She continued to stare. “You look surprised. Do I look like someone who smokes?”

“Yes.”

I smiled, turned and walked away.

Later, I could not quite place her expression. First, I thought she was surprised, but that did not fit. Puzzled is closer.

Perhaps she was asking the question of her companion, though she was looking directly at me, and she spoke clearly enough to be heard quite a distance away. That might account for the puzzlement.

On reflection, I heard her very clearly from a distance – I usually have trouble in noisy environments, even up close – and I do not recall seeing her lips move. Mind tricks. Dark sidewalk, many distractions … but why the expression?