And Zero at the Bone

Occasional blogging

See something, say something

I’ve been keeping an eye on the some items that Something on a little bit of fossilized legal speech you have probably heard at some time. I’m a little late, but I love this little video on the tradition of octopus for Christmas. Watch this video on The Scene. In my past life I did a few years of work on neutrinos, enough to find it that something as small as the Earth could manage to absorb them when conditions are right.

Twitter 2017

These are the most memorable tweets I collected in 2017. January There are only two hard problems in distributed systems: 2. Exactly-once delivery 1. Guaranteed order of messages 2. Exactly-once delivery — Eric Elliott (@_ericelliott) January 4, 2017 And @womensmarchchi embroidered protest sign is hooped and ready! @womensmarch #notmypresident — Shannon Downey (@ShannonDowney) January 19, 2017 100,000 galaxies, including our own, are fleeing a vast cosmic void, the "dipole repeller.

Kind of great

Instead of passively consuming the nearly endless stream of content coming my way I thought I’d gather together a few items to share with everyone here. Forty-nine years ago this happened: I particularly like this polyphonic visualization We were moved when we saw the remnants of the Berlin Wall last October, so I was pleased to see the site for the online memorial It’s been over two decades since I was passed over for tenure but the feelings this left behind are still pretty much as fresh as what I see in this account of the experience.

Music at the tail end of the year

One of the things I like best about the end of the year has to do with music, which is one of the main ways I pass the time all year round. Now, I don’t hang around in places featuring non-stop Christmas carols on loop so that is not the kind of thing I’m referring to. I am also not big on the music countdown segments that certain DJs like to put out during the last week of the year.

A cryptocurrency windfall

A couple of years ago I was working for a company that allowed me to sit at a desk in their office in midtown Manhattan in lieu of relocating all the way across the country. It was still a kind of shock to adjust to the New York style of life after so many years working for sedate firms in northern New Jersey, with the commute by bus and the walk across Times Square and the standing in line for lunch at one of the dozens upon dozens of eateries within a short distance of the office, and the tech meetups around town.

November 2017 breaks a long dry spell for me

On the one side, it’s been an absolutely brutal time in which to generate creative ideas for reasons described well by author John Scalzi. And yet, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2011. Basically, I think that doing any kind of creative writing is like developing proficiency in a sport – you have to exercise the basic skills, over and over, until they become automatic. The way I’ve always prepared for NaNoWrimo before was to put together a plot outline, a list of characters, some idea of pivotal scenes, and, sometimes, a timeline of the world I’m building.

Let me tell you about myself

I have been spending the majority of my time these last four weeks talking about myself to people I don’t know. It isn’t something I would choose to do, but it is a necessary part of the job interview gauntlet. I talk about what I’ve done, and about things that have been done to me, and about what I thought I was good at doing, and about what I wish I were better at.

Not going there

The job where I am working now is going away by the middle of next month, so there is some urgency right now to work out some alternate work arrangement, and no way to rig up some sort of a remote engineer position. And so, yesterday I was booked on the short flight there, and ended spending about ten hours waiting in airports because some cloud cover appeared in Los Angeles and some rain fell in San Francisco.

What I've done

Here is a list of what I have put together or worked on for some significant amount over the last couple of years on the job. Monitoring will get its own post eventually. We migrated from a single service which ran on a single instance in Classic EC2 to a half dozen services running in separate VPCs, each with autoscaling instances behind an elastic load balancer to provide high availability.

The Interior Castle

Twice a year, during Advent and Lent, I try to do some spiritual reading as a discipline, and this Lent I’m reading St. Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle, generally accounted to be a masterpiece of contemplation. The idea is that the human soul is pictured as a transparent castle containing many rooms, sort of a diamond cloister, the most impregnable fortress against the dangers of the outside world. It was natural that this member of a cloistered order would write based upon something she knew, of course, but the interesting thing will be how much I can make of this idea living in the world.