Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

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My second BioInformatics assignment (apparently, this class has but three homeworks) is disappointingly easy. The first one was fairly difficult, given the time we were given, and I did make a few mistakes, but they were really good mistakes, in the sense that apart from a few minor things, I was able to dig through the problems and come to a greater understanding of things. I would rather make interesting mistakes than accidentally get things right, because this topic is really fascinating. The second assignment is basically gluing programs together that do all the interesting things. I'm sure this is necessary to do work in the field, but having been a mix of programmer and sysadmin in the 5 years since I got my CS degree, this kind of thing is trivial to the point of tears, especially in Perl (in C, I'd need to do all the drudgework, but otherwise it'd be the same). Fortunately, there's "extra credit", giving the option of implementing the interesting things the programs are doing for us. I am kind of amused at this though -- it feels like I'm back in high school. Further, I suddenly am making ties between the machine learning classes I took about 7 years ago and this one. This professor is much better at explaining the details than my last one was, probably because he's not a CS prof. At OSU (which actually has a very good, rigourous CS programme), many of the CS professors talk, write, and explain exclusively in Greek (symbols), and for people like me who always want long english variable names, it becomes impossible to keep up because I'm always translating everything out in my head when I see an equation. I realise a certain parallel between Jason's frustration with the way terms are overloaded in philosophy, but at least here I am willing to say that it is because I can't wrap my head natively around that level of symbolism. :)

For Dennett's talk on monday, I picked up a copy of his latest book, Breaking the Spell. I don't think I'll have time to read much of it, given some stuff I need to do for my contract work, and my hope to wrap up homework 2 as soon as I possibly can, but the bits I have read so far look interesting (albeit a bit baiting and preachy in some ways). He does, amusingly, quote Freud's great (and underread) Future of an Illusion.

It seems like disappointment and relief are twins, or perhaps the two faces of Janus.

I've been wondering what things would be if Flamenco music were the classical music of our time. Classical music has a certain kind of expressiveness possible within the broader style, like a empty breadboard, with only the spacing of the pegs to establish its form (although Classical music has dozens of substyles). Flamenco does have more musical memes, mental baggage to carry into its songs, but it can rival the complexity of classical can rival the complexity of classical music, and has the possibility to feel frantic and off-kilter, something which I have not heard classical music do in a human, emotional way. Classical music is often not quite human enough.

I semi-recently went to a gathering, and as I enjoy it, briefly played DJ. I am delighted to know that TMBG's Birdhouse in Your Soul is still a standard. I gather by the type of dancing the people at the gathering did to it that noone else has ever seen the musical video for it. I also discovered that I have great difficulty remembering the original lyrics to American Pie, because Weird Al's starwars-themed "The Saga Begins" is considerably more catchy. Finally, I injured my toes by excessive dancing. Being both shy and shameless is an interesting mix :)

I have decided that instead of getting a Balalaika or Harp soon, initially I want to get an accordion. They're fun to play, and having both seen one recently in a performance and having played on one a few months ago at a friend's place, I think it would be a great instrument to get started on. All I need to do now is to get one. My friend (who played in said performance, much to my surprise) suggested I check pawnshops.

I am considering using LDAP instead of NIS for authentication with my new machineroom. I have never set up LDAP before, so it may be an interesting learning experience. Fortunately, the machineroom is coming along well -- the custom electrics (including the L5-30P wall plugs) are installed and active, and the AC in the ceiling is installed, but we're now waiting for the cooled water connection before we can get everything started. It may not be where I want or exactly what I want, but I believe that this will eventually become a machine room to be proud of. I don't think I'll ever find doing sysadmin work to be enough on its own to make me happy about how I contribute to society, but it's a nice component to a job and a life that both have significant other facets. If I were transplanted to a society without the material resources to have the kinds of needs I specialise in filling, I would probably become a teacher, which would also be quite fulfilling.

My HP laptop's battery is pleasantly strong -- I've been using it for an hour, playing music while programming and blogging, and it's still has 50% power. I need to remember to charge the spare battery next time I have access to a plug.

That's all, folks.


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