Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Maplefish Labs

I finally finished my creating my electronics workspace. It's in our "art room" and my electronic workspae is shared with a ton of art supplies, an easel and couple of craft tables for the kids.

To the left you can see how the art supplies have crept into my workspace. That's an airbrush compressor.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Quiet

This is a long post of little interest.

About an hour ago, I read to my two five year old girls. We read Jon Muth's Zen Shorts. I don't know if they really enjoyed it, but it was a quiet read. My wife and nine year old son are out of town.

The watercolor artwork of the book was soothing and provided an easy transition to bed time. While I read, from the kitchen Yo-Yo Ma could be heard playing the works of Ennio Morricone. The music was both spectacular and relaxing. This collection of soundtracks always seem to quiet the girls. They seem to know that when classical music is heard, bedtime is nearing.

They drifted off to sleep a half an hour ago. There were no final protests, only a question about whether tomorrow will be Tuesday. No, sweeties, Tuesday is the day after tomorrow.

It is evening. The earlier part of the day was about family. The girls played hard and could not be convinced to help with house cleaning. They behaved their age, as expected.

The morning was rainy until about 10am, when the sun finally made its appearance. In celebration, I cleared the living room floor of unfolded clothes. We then danced to an adhoc mix of R&B. We danced to some Lauryn Hill, Michael Franti (Spearhead), and old-school Chaka Khan (with Rufus). After dancing, the girls took a bath and I whisked them off to spend a couple hours with their cousins, aunt and uncle.

The late afternoon saw me tinkering around with microcontrollers and solder at my workdesk. At a particularly difficult solder junction, I was interupted by the return of the girls, their cousins, aunt and uncle.

Then, quickly, came their supper, teeth brushing and nighttime book.

There was something about the book, the Zen Shorts book, that seemed to break any desire to return to the workbench. Nighttime is not for engineering. At least not for me tonight.

My supper is simple and not very refined. A bagel, some sunflower seed butter, a glass of cheap Pinot Noir. The house is quiet.

My thoughts turn to art, the books I bought recently to read, and the quietness. The unusual quietness that would have not existed with whole family present.

The books were purchased yesterday on a whim from Second Story Books in Rockville. This is a huge warehouse full of used books. I spent a hour and a half browsing the science, computer, engineering and math sections. I left with three books: The Tale of the Scale, The Introspective Engineer, and The Art of Mathematics.

As a modern technological man, I feel compelled to fill quiet voids with ideas, tinkering and programming. All of this, I am compelled to dive into with a panic -- I only have a few hours before sleep and the week will begin.

Another glass of wine and this feeling should dissipate. A little cello swooning and swaying in the background should set the mood for reading.

The week ahead is full of projects and spirited engineering. There are difficult deadlines looming.

But tonight, there are clothes to be folded, a bed to be made and books to be perused.

Yet, in the quiet there is still a tug of loneliness. I keep expecting to hear my son giggling or his inevitable "what can we do together tonight?". But, that will soon return. It will be a welcome return, but tonight there is just me, my gently sleeping girls and the quiet.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

2nd Quote of the day, also from SICP

Why can't a day have two quotes?

From the Foreward of "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs":

"The source of the exhilaration associated with computer programming is the continual unfolding within the mind and on the computer of mechanisms expressed as programs and the explosion of perception they generate. If art interprets our dreams, the computer executes them in the guise of programs!"

- Alan J. Perlis

Quote of the day, from SICP

"I think that it's extraordinarily important that we in computer science keep fun in computing. When it started out, it was an awful lot of fun. Of course, the paying customers got shafted every now and then, and after a while we began to take their complaints seriously. We began to feel as if we really were responsible for the successful, error-free perfect use of these machines. I don't think we are. I think we're responsible for stretching them, setting them off in new directions, and keeping fun in the house. I hope the field of computer science never loses its sense of fun. Above all, I hope we don't become missionaries. Don't feel as if you're Bible salesmen. The world has too many of those already. What you know about computing other people will learn. Don't feel as if the key to successful computing is only in your hands. What's in your hands, I think and hope, is intelligence: the ability to see the machine as more than when you were first led up to it, that you can make it more.''
Alan J. Perlis (April 1, 1922-February 7, 1990)

Friday, March 07, 2008

The most brilliant paper I have read in a while...

The paper referenced here.

It's about the art form known as mathematics.

Sigh, time to break out my Turtle Geometry book again.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Not a "Maker"

Not that anyone has asked, but...

I am not a "Maker".

I've alternated between awe and respect in regards to the things I've seen "Makers" make, but I am not one of their clan. Neither am I one of the closely related "Dorkbots".

I don't think I actually "like" to make things. I am driven to make things. It's in my blood.

I don't have a lot of things to show at this time because I tend to obsess. I hate the idea of spending 8 hours a day working on stuff that doesn't interest me, so I tend to get (and stick with) jobs that allow me to obsess. And, that tends to suck away at my CFT.

So, I am less interested in making really cool stuff like you can see here. But I do seem drawn to making (or at least thinking about) stuff that has more tangible impact.

That sounds rather "engineer-y", but I am (at times) equally consumed by art (music, books, drawing and painting). Sometimes I've even been known to do a drawing/painting or two.

Keep an eye on this space and hopefully I will find the CFT to work on something I am passionate about. It may not be earth-shattering, but hopefully it will be interesting, well engineered and full of beauty.

Enough talk... I should be working on something.