Oct. 18th, 2016

xela: Photo of me (me)

I'm sorry this post is so long. I didn't have time to write a shorter one. :^)

That's only half-joking. This is also, I suspect, more than a little disjointed. It's an unedited first draft. Something I may make a habit of in my efforts to actually post things. Please let me know what you think. One of the reasons I post so little in the best of times is that I care so very much that my writing be appealing. That when I publish something, you'll be glad you read it. But of course that sitting on things until I'm satisfied means that I've gotten really very little feedback from people on my writing over the years — a species of letting the best be the enemy of the good. So this thing of letting pieces out unedited — this may be as close as I'm ever going to get to what base jumping feels like..... So anyway, please let me know what you think of my writing. What you think of the substance too, of course. But I want to make it clear that I really welcome stylistic criticism.


I'm pretty sure today was the best day I've had in a year. At least a year. Which says more about the year than the day, but still — a good day!

It started with getting up at 06:00. I actually, even though I didn't get to sleep til past 01:00 and I'm a week into a two-week course of antibiotics for a nasty infection, woke up on my own about ten minutes early. And was clearheaded enough to pre-turn-off my alarm before hitting the shower. Actually checked my todo list over my first cup of coffee — a habit I've been concertedly trying to develop for (you guessed it!) a year or more, and sporadically for twenty. Which meant I pulled out of my driveway at 07:30, as planned, with everything I needed for my breakfast meeting.

The meeting itself — 08:30 at MIT to meet with a dean and some other volunteers about planning the next year or so of an ongoing tech project — went swimmingly. My biggest concerns turned out to be non-issues. And the pending work looks to be achievable with the skills and available spare time of the people involved, without making anyone crazy.

Afterwards, I walked the long block from Amherst Alley to W20 — as long a walk as I've done in.... you know how long. And almost half of it without using my cane! There was nobody in the SIPB office and I need to get a new key, so I spent a couple hours in the Athena cluster. Which, while not as lively by any means as it was in the day, was busier than I've seen in several years.


In my ongoing efforts to improve my mind, I'm taking a couple of edX classes. Just before midnight last night — just as I finished writing the stuff-to-be-sure-to-bring part of my todo list for this morning — it occurred to me that I'd been lame about keeping up with one of them since a problem set deadline two weeks ago. Two weeks ago today, in fact. A deadline that I felt well on top of until ISP decided that was the day do drop everything on the floor. I was able to make the deadline just fine, by way of the bonus of motivating me to finally actually try my phone as a hotspot. But the adrenaline memory served to remind me last night that I had failed to actually put the syllabus into my calendar. And it turns out that when going to lecture is something I can do in fifteen minute chunks in front of my laptop whenever I feel like it, I'm a lot more likely to lame out than I ever was when it was a matter of getting to 10-250 by 10:00 twice a week.

So, midnight last night I go to edx.org and check the syllabus. And what do you know, there's a problem set due. Today. At 23:30 GMT. A pset I haven't even looked at.

Well, crap, thinks I. That's what I get for being lame. And go to bed, thinking it's not like I'm not otherwise acing the class anyway. And I'll have six or eight hours tomorrow. Which is to say, today.

So when I got out of this morning's meeting, I thought about just going home and working on the pset. But I'd sent mail to a friend who works on campus about maybe getting together for lunch, and hadn't heard from them. And really, what better place to a problem set for an online class?


So I log into cluster machine, take cheer from the fact that the year or so since I last logged into a cluster machine have not resulted in the machine and my dotfiles mud-wrestling on the floor while I look on — unlike last time — And start in on my problem set.

And I'm totally in the zone. Totally. Not enough sleep. Not for like 500 nights. Coming off what's been probably the second most stressful and depressing year in my life. A year of, among other things, often not firing on all cylinders intellectually. And I knock down five of seven problems in less than two hours. All with full marks. (That instant feedback, I to say, is one of the things I really, really like about taking online classes in technical subjects.)

I sit back and stretch for a moment. Notice that I've missed a couple of zephyrs from [livejournal.com profile] bryttan. I reply, and we agree to look for each other around 13:00 in the 2nd floor dining room. Then of course, after looking around while I was in line and realizing they don't seem to have lemonade at Tosci's Anna's, I went to LaVerde's and would up behind Bryt at the checkout. I was starting to flag a little physically at that point — I'd already been on my feet more than any day in the past year. So when I saw as we left that the table just outside LaVerde's door was unoccupied, I said "How about here?" Which led to Bryt, in her best insinuating tone, pointing behind me and saying "Or over here where it's much quieter. Which led to my discovering that the chunk of my mental map marked 'nothing to do here' where the video games used to be is now a pleasant little alcove of tables and chairs.


This gusher of words and good feeling wants very much to keep going. And there are at least two more things from today that I want to write about. But I want to get a handle on my sleep schedule even more.

I hope that I have been thought-provoking, amusing, or at least not boring, dear reader. Thank you for bearing with me.

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