The second day of sprinting, I spent the morning reading Ian's middleware commenting code with Jeff trying to understand how it might work in bitsyblog. It took a bit of fiddling to get things to work; turned out caching was the problem. Mrrgh to caching. You are a lovely thing, but boy do you make debugging hell. I think I'm slowly coming to grips with this "interwebs" thing and how web-based programming kind of works. A little. See, this is the problem with being a global learner; you can't grasp things sequentially, you just have to swim around and swim around and mess up until slowly, slowly, very slowly, enlightenment dawns, and you look up one day and realize you grok something new in fullness. And then it's yours. But until then, it's baffling and obtuse.
On the plane back to New York, Chris had some episodes of Planet Earth on his laptop, so we stared in awe at close-up shots of moths with fungi growing from their brains in gorgeous, gorgeous time-lapse for a few hours. Meanwhile, Doug (in the seat next to us) played with Sugar on his Gentoo-running laptop. It's really awesome to work with such a funky, smart group of people. I'm learning so much, and I hope and hope I can give back just as much someday (and that I'm doing a little bit of that now).
Thursday night I took the train out to New Jersey and had dinner with my uncle and my cousin Mark, who was here from Babson on his spring break. The next morning, bereft of work (day off - Good Friday), Mark and I walked from Penn Station to the bus stop in Chinatown, eating pizza and rice porridge as we went. It was good to catch up. He only has one semester left in undergrad after this one, and is beginning to face the same "so what do I do now?" question that I've been purposefully ignoring for almost a year now (more on this later). Afterwards, I headed back to I.House (distracted by several bookstores along the way) and dined on butternut squash ravioli with a friend who's majoring in music education at NYU.
The evening concluded with the weirdest theatrical performance I have ever seen; the Neo-Futurists attempting to perform 30 sketches in 60 minutes (I believe they managed 26). Acts included a neon baby doll flying between a banana-eating man and an origami fortune teller, five people rhythmically head-bobbing in the subway, and a man attempting to console a chair that he had just knocked over (upon orders from... a ghost, I think). My favorite was the 12.5 question meta-quiz and the sketch where audience members read from their pre-planted scripts on how their actions were being controlled by the scriptwriters and by gum they weren't going to stand for it (whereupon they continued to read from the script... and sometimes attempt to juggle). The price of admission was determined by adding $10 to $N, where N is the roll of a 6-sided die. I rolled a 2. A huge thank-you to Sumana for the spontaneous invitation. I have also learned that there is a very large black cube in Astor Place, and that it spins. And that it wobbles with rather terrifying amplitude if you spin it faster than 10RPM or so.
This morning I had brunch with Sam and friends from Yale and NYU. After stopping by the Chocolate Bar (a little candy-store cafe) and consuming half of what I think a Snickers was supposed to taste like (gorgeous) before it got all mass-produced and yicky, we took the subway back up towards Columbia, where Sam did some tweaking of audio filters and dynamic ranges on his laptop and I heard music with hi-hats.
To realize how strange this is to me, you have to realize that the first few bars of a song (introduced by a rapid beat on the hi-hats before the bass line and other instruments come in) used to sound like this:
(other instruments:) *faint gasping noises*
And afterwards, it was...
(other instruments:) Whoooe(tappity)EEE(tappity)eeooo(tappity)OOooooo(tappity)Eeee(tappity)EEeeooo
Apparently recordings aren't supposed to be entirely overwhelmed by bass drums, bass guitars, and the occasional singer - other instruments (like guitars and non-bass-drum forms of percussion) are supposed to also be perceptible to human ears. After rebalancing the track so I could actually hear all the parts, I can confidently say that it sounds really weird. It's like having sunglasses on your whole life and suddenly having those removed and going "WHOA the world is bright." What Sam put together was definitely a rough cut (the filters interacted with each other in strange ways), and it sounds completely foreign (as in "I know this is closer to what it's supposed to sound like, but the one without the filters sounds better only because it sounds less weird to me") but it was very, very cool to get a taste of it and I want more. I'd like to be able to have that balance sound "normal" to me as well.
Finally, these are the coolest mesh networking explanation videos. Ever. Mad props to Matt and FFM and crew. I don't know any of the other folks who have produced these videos, but hopefully I'll get to come out to DC in May and meet more of you; it was fantastic to meet the GASP folks, including Jeff Elkner, Allen Downey's coauthor - I started learning Python from their book before I learned that Allen was going to come to teach at Olin the next year. I really want to experiment more with GASP, which is a gorgeously simple wrapper API on top of Pygame (yes, pygame can be easier to use) so hopefully I'll have time to rewrite Pac-man using GASP tomorrow in between going to church (it's Easter) and triple-booting my laptop (probably start that up before I leave for church) and finishing some books and attempting to write my first Trac plugin, or at least get started.
A bit more work now, and then it's bedtime. I'm not sure why I've been so tired the last two weeks; I'm not actually getting less sleep or worse food or anything, but I keep having this nagging feeling that what I'd really like instead of working on everything all the time is a good massage and then a long, long nap under fluffy blankets, and then hot tea. I'll probably have to take an evening "off" this week and do the last one and attempt to simulate the first two by going for a run and stretching out really well afterwards, and using my sleeping bag, which is... well, kind of like a synthetic fluffy tube-blanket, right? Right.