More Data on Ralph’s First Wife

Apr. 23rd, 2017 11:04 am
bcholmes: (meshes in the afternoon)
[personal profile] bcholmes

I visited with some relatives during Easter and we chatted about Ralph’s first wife, Charlotte Jones. Apparently Ralph’s second wife, Stella, was very, very Catholic, which might have something to do with why the first wife was never talked about. We speculated Ralph never told his second wife about Charlotte because Stella might not have married a divorced man. And somehow, that became a secret that the entire family conspired to keep.

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
[personal profile] hilarita
In some ways, this feels very counterintuitive, very "one housewife has a neat trick", quite Zen, and rather bollocks. However, I have levelled up in all the things that meant I found programming difficult and angsty, so now I am able to approach it on its own terms and actually write some code. I'm probably not yet a good programmer, and I'm certainly not an excellent one yet, but I can at least call myself a programmer without being horribly embarrassed.

Things that have allowed me to get to this point:
1) fixing some of my writing-avoidant habits. Writing code isn't so very different from writing anything else, and if you can find reasons for not writing, you've found reasons for not programming.

2) exposure to more ad-hoc standards of coding. I can look like a Top Pro (TM) just by actually remembering to name things nicely and writing a line of comment. Bonus points for actually remembering to stick the thing in a VCS. Extra bonus points for a DVCS.
3) acceptance that basically I'm never going to carry lots of important language syntax around in my head. I will look it up in the language reference, and that's completely OK. No-one's stalking me as I write, complaining that I can't remember the syntax for opening files; I can just look this shit up.

4) and searching Stack Overflow for your error messages is absolutely a-OK. We live in an age where we're not limited by the storage capacity of our squishy brains, we can outsource this to silicon and that's completely fine. I may end up remembering some of it, because remembering Really Pointless Shit is what I do, but I'm under no obligation to do so, and not remembering it doesn't make me a bad person.

5) Having observed Proper Programmers (TM) programming in my general vicinity, a lot of time is spent swearing at computers, complaining about shitty error messages and poorly-documented libraries, wailing that the bloody program doesn't work, groaning that they fucked up something small and now the bloody thing doesn't work again etc. Unless it's something completely straightforward for the programmer, this happens quite frequently. The difference between them and me is how much they can get done in the 20 or 30 minutes between the expressions of frustration, and that's obviously something that improves the more you practise it. This makes me feel less bad about spending time being generally depressed about how my program's not working, since the natural state of a computer is not to work until you hit it with a bloody big stick.

6) (related to 5) When I did my OU degree, basically I could Just Do the exercises for most of my programming modules. I'd follow the instructions, the thing would work, and lo, I would be a happy stoat (if slightly bored). It wasn't until my distributed systems module that I ever got to the point of having a mistake more serious than a misplaced semi-colon or unclosed brace - I managed to cause my computer to try to open infinite copies of Firefox and a SQL database owing to a badly-formed while loop. I thought that then writing things that didn't work was a massive failing in my understanding, and that Real Programmers wouldn't have this problem. I didn't realise that the natural state of a program is it not working, and that Real and Proper Programmers did indeed pass through a stage where their code didn't work, it's just that lots of them experience this when they were ten, and you couldn't do quite a lot of things. Also, Stack Overflow teaches us that hardly any programs work these days until you've looked up how to do it on Stack Overflow (as far as I can tell, this is the only way to learn how to do web programming). Programming is (eventually) a really good way of learning that you don't know how to do a thing yet, but that it is probably fixable.

7) While I don't have excellent coding skills yet, I do have a bunch of high-level skills about how things fit together that means I can imagine how different bits of a complex system affect other bits. I can prove to my satisfaction where problems are going to be intractable, and not worry when it turns out to be really difficult.

All of this means that I can sit down and write a short program to check things (plus test data sets), and this took me less time than it would have done three years ago, even though I've not written much code since I started my current job.

cloudy, distant, dark

Apr. 23rd, 2017 10:48 am
plicease: (Dark Eye)
[personal profile] plicease

Yesterday as planned I met up with my long term friend Kathy from the Hudson Valley and her nine year old daughter, and Kathy's friend Stacy from uni and her daughter of a similar age. So it was just the five of us off to the March for Science. Yay for science #marchforscience! When we got to the rally site (near the Washington Monument) we easily coasted through security after a few pokes in my bag with some wooden sticks. There was a line of port-a-potty (of course I took a picture) as we walked to the main stage and beyond. We made our way to the teach-in tents, but apparently you had to sign up for them and the were all booked up. The kiddy tent was open though so that gave the kids something fun to do and learn, while we waited for the main event to start. After that diversion we made our way to one of the jumbotrons and watched a bit of the rally. The kids were getting restless and it was starting to rain after not too long, so we zipped out the back entrance to make our way to one of the museums for a respite until the march started. By this time there were very long lines to get into the rally! Oops! All of the museums were like “all signs have to fit in your bag” which wasn't going to happen. So Stacy took the kids in and Kathy and I waited outside and chatted about different things. We mildly gossipped about our mutual friends from the Hudson Valley. We had gearhead discussions about cameras and lenses. We talked about politics. Even though our backgrounds are quite different we agree on a surprising number of issues. She is from deeply red Nebraska, but this shouldn't be surprising. Even in deeply red Nebraska, or deeply blue San Francisco people are not monoliths. It is best to remember this. We talked about where we might live next. The situation at the company formerly known as The Company[1] are not so great. We both agreed that Colorado had its pluses, and that San Jose was expensive place to live and a bit of an armpit. I realize now how much I miss talking to Kathy. There is a shared history and values to some extent, and we have a number of friends in common. We had a bit of time to kill before march started at 2pm, and the line had killed any enthusiasm for getting back into the rally, so we found a dry spot under the overhang of the new African American Museum. I took lots of pictures. There were many good signs. The kids were popular with other protestors. Everyone wanted a picture. I saw someone with a Trumpy mask selling snake oil. I saw Beaker and Bunsen. It was pretty great. At about fifteen to two we made our way to the march starting point. There were hoots and hollers when I got there so I knew someone famous must be coming and sure enough Bill Nye walked by to much excitement. We hitched a ride to the marchers as they passed and marched all the way to 3rd down by the Capitol. At this point we were tired and wet, but had made our point and headed out of the city by train.

  1. The division of The Company where I used to work, and where Kathy still does work got bought out by another company a couple of years ago

The minutes change like seasons

Apr. 23rd, 2017 08:22 am
plicease: (Cow Duck)
[personal profile] plicease

Circa January.

I mentioned taking some pictures at the Woman's March. And that it was film so it was gonna be a while. I did get around to scanning them and even made some prints but didn't share of them here. I thought I should post a few of them at least before I send off more film from more recent marches :)


six more )

I already posted some pictures taken by Lena (DW version) along with my impressions of the day.

dreams of an eternal student

Apr. 23rd, 2017 01:13 pm
catness: (dreamcatcher)
[personal profile] catness
The dream was some sort of a post-apocalyptic dystopia where everyone had to report to reeducation centres and sign up for doing a degree from scratch. You could choose your former specialisation (so it would be, theoretically, an easy run) or something entirely different, or skip the grind altogether and accept the job they'd offer you.

I was offered an accounting job, which I rejected in disgust, and opted in to become a student. After much deliberation (you got a second chance, don't blow it again), considering various fields and even PE (there were no entrance exams, so I wouldn't be chucked out right away), I boldly requested "game programming". (The most useful post-apocalyptic profession ;) Amazingly, it was offered, but only by one university - in Madrid. Instead of being a deterrent, it was yay I'll also have to learn Spanish in the process! Though the foreign students were allowed to take several general courses in other Unis.

Thinking about it now, it wasn't a dystopia but a veritable utopia. Ditch the job, leave the country, study for free and full-time - what else could one desire? And even better, being forced to do it by external powers, so you can't self-sabotage your way out of it.


Apr. 23rd, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2014-02-18:

"If your mind is expansive and unfettered, you will find yourself in a more accommodating world, a place that's endlessly interesting and alive. That quality isn't inherent in the place but in your state of mind. The warrior longs to communicate that all of us have access to our basic goodness and that genuine freedom comes from going beyond labels and projections, beyond bias and prejudice, and taking care of each other." -- Pema Chodron


(submitted to the mailing list by Rob Wood)

coprime: two game-obsessed, winning-obsessed nerds (ships that I ship)
[personal profile] coprime
Canon: Harry Potter
Pairing: Hermione Granger/Viktor Krum
Canon Level: Dated At One Point

Aw, Hermione and Viktor were really sweet. Hermione's smart enough not to be taken in by Viktor's fame or impressed by his Quidditch playing, which makes her different than the girls Viktor generally interacts with. And Viktor respects Hermione and her intelligence and passion, looking past the first impression she often makes and is then saddled with. I think Viktor would slowly come out of his shell while Hermione listened to him and gave his words due consideration. And it would all be a very sweet courtship.

Suggested reading:
Conversation on a Broom by [ profile] Inell
Quidditch Statistics by [ profile] LadyKes
Eloquent by [ profile] Rozarka

March for science

Apr. 23rd, 2017 07:48 am
swaldman: "Stand back - I'm going to try Science!" from the PHD Comic strip. (going to try science)
[personal profile] swaldman
Yesterday, lots and lots of people around the world had pro-science demonstrations. The biggest ones were in the US, for obvious reasons. The one in Edinburgh attracted around 2500 people (I was near the back and asked a steward with a clicker), which was less than I'd hoped but still respectable. It was possibly the most polite, middle-class, non-controversial demo I've ever been on. A significant number of people had never been involved in public protest before (was this even protest?); the police were treating it as a nice paid stroll in the sunshine, and were laughing at the poor organiser with a megaphone who was trying to get a load of cautious and introverted academics to chant!

Favourite slogans on signs, out of many contenders:
  • "I came to do science and kick ass... And you just cut my funding "
  • "When life gives you lemons.... make a crude electrochemical battery"
  • "Witty science related slogan under peer review"
and the winner, for actually making a point humourly rather than just having fun,
  • "Got smallpox? Me neither."
For me the main purpose of this event was showing solidarity with the folk in the US for whom supporting science funding and wanting evidence-based policy is a controversial stance. As others pointed out, it's also relevant in the UK as a reminder to government that a lot of people feel this way, and that in an age of "the public is tired of experts" they are still needed..... but I'm not sure how helpful that is. As I see it, the trouble with the perception of science in government is that it's seen as just another pressure group. "The science lobby", which cares about things like research funding and climate change. I'm not convinced that the way to shift that perception is to do things like marches that a political pressure group would do. Eh. I hope I'm wrong.

I was rather disappointed that out of the ~150 people in my research institute, only a very few attended. When I mentioned it the day before on the relevant Facebook group there was deafening silence. I'm not sure if engineers considered it too political, or what...

The death of a cat

Apr. 22nd, 2017 05:58 pm
dianora: (Default)
[personal profile] dianora
Losing a pet is hard for everyone but Tony's death hit me pretty hard. I first met Tony when he was still one of my mother's cats. He was standoffish, very much unlike my mother's female cat who was and still is very affectionate. Perhaps that's what I liked about Tony. His aloofness. He was much more neurotic a cat than Jesssie, the other cat, my mom treated Tony with more yelling than Jessie.

When my mother died we adopted the pair of them. Tony and Jessie. Tony was always harder to approach, very much more frightened than Jessie; even hissing at me when we came to bring them to their new home. It took Tony much longer to adopt us than it did for Jessie, but his purr and affection when he finally did adopt us was no less welcome. One night he simply jumped up on the bed and
starting purring. Sure, he just wanted his breakfast but we loved it anyway.

I admit I spoiled him rotten. He would look up at me with those brown eyes (They weren't actually brown) and ask me with a little meep for a treat and yes, he had me trained to give him a treat. Sometimes he would put his paw on my knee and ask for more. Did I have any resistance to his pleas? Nope. He was a spoiled rotten little boy.

He and Nanook our much younger calico were great playmates. He'd chase her, she'd chase him back; Sometimes even in the day time rather than the wee hours of the night. He was a jumper and
killed the red dot many times on the wall and floor.

He'd come over and rub his face on my laptop and allow me to start stroking his head. Sometimes. It always had to be his idea, unlike Jessie. Then he'd tentatively put a paw on my stomach
think about it, then settle on my tummy to be stroked while he purred.

We knew for a long time that he had a dodgy heart. What is better for a pet? Especially an older animal? Should we have allowed the heart specialists to test him in the vet hospital for a week?
Surgery? At 13 years old? No. That's selfish. It's hard to talk to a cat and ask. We were warned that he could simply drop dead of a heart attack but what happened instead was aortic thromboembolism. We wondered where he was for breakfast and finally heard him in the
basement crying as both his rear legs had gone limp. A blood clot. I was hopeful something could be done, perhaps a week of waiting and some meds to treat. Our hopes were dashed by the vet, it was time to let him go.

Maybe what made it much harder was losing Tony the same month my mother had died (April) two years ago. A link lost to my mother. He was a great cat.

Interesting Links for 22-04-2017

Apr. 22nd, 2017 12:00 pm
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
[personal profile] purplecat

My second venture into the fanzine world was The Tides of Time. I can't find my copy of issue 1, fortunately [personal profile] sir_guinglain has has archived them all. It surprises me that of all the fanzines that have come, and mostly gone, since the 1980s The Tides of Time is one of the few that still produces issues, albeit on an irregular basis.

I've not been involved with it since issue 7, but [personal profile] sir_guinglain is the currently editor and, I believe, possibly looking for contributions...


Apr. 22nd, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"In a perfect socialist society, only the people who really deserved it would catch tuberculosis. But alas, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism." -- Michael Yosef Miller [thanks to [info] realinterrobang for quoting this earlier]


Apr. 22nd, 2017 12:21 pm
catness: (goflow)
[personal profile] catness
3. What’s the most sensible thing you’ve ever heard someone say?

"Fish! Fish! Fish! Fish! Fish! Fish!" (-- The Cat, Red Dwarf)

Seriously, I don't know; who wants to keep track of sensible things? Anyway, here's a quote from today, which I find very profound: "Growing to love something is really simply forgetting slowly what you dislike about it." (-- James Wesley, Daredevil S01E011) (I'm slowly catching up on my Marvel background.) I can definitely relate to this sentiment, and it's a comforting one.


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