Whoo. I'm glad Jason talked me out of doing the Komen Race for the Cure this year ("It'll be great!" I said. "We'll run 5k and then drive halfway across the country!" I said. "We won't be tired!" I said.) I dislike being so out of shape. It's cold in Illinois; I crave hot soup.
The road in front of our house is newly paved and shiny. It almost turns into a mirror when it's wet with rain. The house itself feels less empty today than it did yesterday (I've also spent less time in it - I've read about 8 books so far in the library this afternoon). It's fascinating how quickly one adapts to things; of course my desk is in the corner by the whiteboard, not a mattress that's sitting in East Boston now, on my new bed with the captain drawers.
Great quote, courtesy Liz Kneen:
What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books. --Thomas Carlyle
To that I'd add "and people to talk about them with." This is the thing I miss most about being out of school. I can read books and find old problem sets on my own, but having classmates to collaborate and complain and struggle with is an awesome thing. You see many different kinds of thinking on the same thing. You also see what can be learned by rote (and shouldn't be - just look it up!) what can be learned as skill, what has to sink into your intuition, and what things are innate talent that would be - I won't say impossible, but highly difficult, at least - for anybody else but the person you see it in to grasp. You know; the kid who has a knack for threading together elegant proofs, the one who can charm external visitors into supporting any project, the one who can casually figure out how to make a mechanism that has that movement, the one who sees little blips and snags in breadboards or circuit diagrams or code and can debug (or when testing, break) them just like that - the stuff they can't teach, the ones who say "I don't know, I just do it."
I don' t think it's impossible to teach that stuff, by the way. I think it's just hard, and therefore not too often tried, to break it down. I haven't been able to break down some of the thing I do, though - overthinking ruins things sometimes, and I've been scared to lose (more) of my speed-reading abilities through overanalysis. I shouldn't let that stop me, though. Open question to anybody reading this: is there anything I do that you don't understand, or that you'd like to do as well? I can try to figure out how I do it, and break it down, and see if it's something that can be taught somehow.
I'll try to make a list of things I'd lke to learn from people, too. Over the next... okay, few years, perhaps - some of you might get emails, or maybe I'll just post a list.
A note on shininess: there are so many spiffy dev platforms I'd like to play with. The beagleboard, the iDuino, the StickDuino, the Sanguino (there are many nifty Arduino boards out there; it looks like one of the most active hotbeds of open hardware activity). You could learn a lot just by studying their designs. So much to study! Oh, and OpenEmbedded. And a two-week time-out between New Things seems so long... but it's good for me. I also want to get back into looking at open-source accessibility (more precisely: open-source universal design and the idea of getting more disabled people to invent and share tools that will work for them). But one thing at a time.