Posting Update

Well, an Internet-less weekend … and I’m behind getting posts ready. It was a mid-range (3 hour drive) travel weekend for my daughter’s gymnastic team … she had fun so it was a success, right?

Anyhow, “normal” blogging will resume shortly. I might even have my links post out at lunchtime.

Where is Mark?

Just a heads up. This week and part of next I will be travelling. Monday night I leave for mid-state New Jersey, which coincidentally is where I grew up (I grew up in Pennington) … and since it is a multi-week trip I will sojourn on the weekend with my parents.

It shouldn’t affect blogging quantity, but may affect the timing of post entries, i.e., links may be post late the night before they normally appear.

Five Years Before the Mast, err, Keyboard

October 1 marks my blogiversary, or blogbirthday or whatever. For five years now, on most Sundays through Thursday nights I’ve written a short essay. On some of those I’ve failed to get anything decent on (virtual) paper and have failed to post … life also of course intervenes occasionally to make that impossible. In that summer five years ago, a co-worker mentioned he’d begun reading blogs. I’d heard of them, but didn’t really look into it. So … I looked into it. Through August and September I “delurked” and spent and more and more time joining discussions, mostly on Joe Carter’s Evangelical Outpost. Then one Friday evening in September I signed up with blogspot, and chose a name for the blog, Pseudo-Polymath. That, in itself, to be honest was something of a variant/riff on the most popular blog of the day, Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, who it must be said remains one of the highest trafficked blogs (although I must admit I haven’t myself stopped by in some time now). Pseudo, meaning fake, and Polymath, a person with great expertise in a wide variety of fields, which I think describes much of us on the net for via google and wikipedia we are suddenly fake experts at so many things. A few years later, I moved from blogger/blogspot to host my own blog using WordPress where it resides now. A little over a year ago, I was invited to join a quite prestigious (in the Christian blogging community) at Stones Cry Out and so far, I haven’t been uninvited.

The very first post, not surprisingly for a programmer, was “hello world.” Which worked … I subsequently deleted. Part of the froth back then of course was the Kerry/Bush election race. I even watched some debates and “live-blogged” them. Blogging then and now in part has been part of my personal spiritual journey, a half-year prior to starting blogging I “converted” and came to the somewhat abrupt conclusion that I was not just taking my kids to church on Sunday’s for their spiritual education, but because I was now a confessing Christian. That began a flurry of book buying, reading, and study … which eventually propelled me out of that church (and for no fault of it’s own) to an Eastern Orthodox parish where I now attend and find my home.

Anyhow, so for me the blogging experience is fruitful. It spurs me to read, to study, to put thoughts into words, it’s taught me to write much much better (if you think my writing is bad now. Heh. You should have seen it back then!) It’s pushed me to read to explore things and topics I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Who knows where it will lead me (and therefore hopefully us) in the future.

To finish, I’d like to thank wholeheartedly the small cadre of devoted commenters, and as well all who have ever commented or read. Thank your for your thoughts, your time, and your continued patience with me and with each other and for what has been almost exclusively irenic polite thoughtful discussion.

Upgrade Successful

Well, after being hacked, I’ve now applied an upgrade and am now current with WP 2.8.4.

Whatever. I’m going to now try to de-list myself from the Firefox blacklist after being hacked. Let me know if there are any problems.

A Heads Up

My parents are in town visiting, and while I’m taking off work my schedule will vary widely. Links and essays should still be coming but … when, ah there’s the rub.

Links are “collected” for this morning, but I haven’t had time to post.

A Personal Note

Well, it’s been a long day, as I noted Sunday night and I thought I’d do something different tonight … and talk about my day and what I’m doing down here in Florida. I’m not going to mention the name of my customer for obvious reasons. Two co-workers and I flew down Sunday night to install two in-motion printers on a shipping/manifesting system, each of which should be able to process 15-20 cartons per minute. It was the middle of last week when we decided the work required would be impossible to complete in two weeks for just two people, so we added a third. I’m the software guy (developer, maintainer, installer, documentation and all the rest) on the job plus the project manager. The other fellows are responsible for the electrical and mechanical installation. When the wiring is completed and the I/O checks out (both digital and serial hardware is tested and verified) one of the installation guys will head out. My nominal schedule has that for tomorrow night. We look to be on schedule for that … but it’s going to be close. So … for the last two day’s I’ve mostly been doing whatever I can to help out the install. Schlepping boxes, pulling cable, climbing ladders, crimping cables. Tomorrow I’ll be verifying I/O as the field wiring is landed in our panels.

So far it’s been a happy project. The overall project manager for the installation is a friendly guy and things seem to be going well. The schedule has slipped some but his customer must not be giving him what-for on that account (and it very well was their fault). The other subs have been pleasant too. While the facility is warm it is somewhat air-conditioned so we don’t have to deal with the Florida heat and humidity all day. We do in fact marvel at the contrast between the Chicago and Florida summer (and flora and fauna). The systems we’re installing are on a high mezzanine with a steel grate on the floor. As that is the case, we’ve been instructed where possible to pass wiring under the floor. So I’ve been up ladders and scissor lifts a lot in the past two days. 

My feet are very sore, pads and tendons both. After spending a day on my feet (or two) working on steel or concrete floors I always end up in awe of people who work on their feet for a living. As this week progresses I’m going to be on my seat pounding the keyboard more and more … which will be a welcome relief.

Anyhow, that’s what I’ve been up to.

A Note on This Week’s Schedule

Some notes on this week’s schedule. I’m travelling for work and will be on the East coast (Jacksonville, Florida). One thing I’m going to try is move the “links” post to an evening Sunday/Thursday schedule and the essay to the morning. We’ll see how that holds up. One thing I want ot try to do is fit a workout a few times in this week … and with blogging plus the likely 10-14 hour workday I figure an evening links posting might facilitate getting that out. I won’t know until the morning if I have any access to the net during the day, although even if I do the available time will be limited.

At least daytime net access will let me know how le Tour is going before the evening.

My Excuse for Light Blogging of Late

Much of my spare time until the month of August is done will be devoted to trying to make a dent in the large reading assignments handed out in a spirituality class I’m taking. We are getting pretty unrealistic (for the employed) reading loads with the caveat to “get familiar” and not read in depth each piece. So I’m doing a lot of skimming. We’ve been reading a lot of early patristic writings moving forward slowly through the historical documents from the church on this matter. We started with very early texts and some were partially gnostic … the line between gnostic and non-gnostic is not as sharp is pretended. An interesting tidbit from that week was that the conventional wisdom regarding gnostic texts is that they were suppressed by the church. This is a hard accusation to make seeing that most of these documents we have today have been preserved in monasteries.

The next week we read and discussed works of Origen, Evagrius and St. Gregory of Nyssa (his Life of Moses an allegorical reading of the history of Moses). St. Gregory remains overall probably the most prominent non-celibate church father. Even though married and not celibate he penned a famous defence of virginity, in praise of the celibate life. He was happily married, this was not a document motivated by any misogynistic strains. However, his wife and child (children?), died relatively young … this was an age where the average age for women was substantially lower than men because of the risks of childbirth … and children frequently died in their early years. We didn’t read this defence, it would be off topic, but it was mentioned in passing. We also read the St. John Cassian books/chapters from the Institutes on the eight passions. I do really like reading St. John’s writings, which I find refreshingly straightforward and practical.

For next time the large part of what we are reading comes from the pseudo-Macarian homilies, Isaac of Sketis (which I haven’t printed for reading yet), some letters of St. Antony, and Evagrius “on tempting thoughts”. I thought I’d finish tonight with a few observations on what I’ve garnered on monasticism in the early church (3rd century and going forward a few centuries).

What were these men and women doing going into the desert in small cenobitic communities and even solitary isolation? One analogy might be to today’s large scientific projects like the Manhattan or Genome project. This was a project to discover what regimen, what practices and what methods might be used to shape the human self to the ideal they and their community envisioned. It was a radical (or “extreme” in today’s reality TV vernacular) project in which these people, using themselves as both the subject and experimenters. You find a common element in their writing, the urge to observe others and “take the best examples” from each and try to emulate that quality. It seems obvious that we could learn more than a little from their centuries of experimentation. 

Laptop Update

Well, my laptop’s disk fails to boot … but readable. So I have a new disk and have a fresh system installed … and at long last not windows (and there was great rejoicing). It will take a day or three to get settled and the move to Linux is not set in stone as yet … there are one or two essential apps which need to work in WINE in order to make the conversion complete. But so far so good.

Quiet Night

Lack of sleep over the weekend leads tonight to a case of writers block. I started to write a post on Fleche-Wallone and L-B-L the two remaining spring semi-classics and classics respectively. Judging by my small collection of races from the 1990s and this decade these are my favorite classics. In my opinion the duel between Michele Bartoli against teammates Alex Zulle and Laurent Jalabert ranks as one of the best races ever (Zulle and Jalabert were at that time ranked as the #1 and #2 riders in the world).

Anyhow, have a good night and God bless.

Today

Long hours on the job lead to little left for blogging. I had a little time for using a little internet access today during the day, but was quite busy. Anyhow … links will show up but alas I think I’m just going to read a little before turning in tonight.

A Possible Avenue

Considering the amount of discussion that an offhand comment on fidelity and monogamy stirred up, I’m considering returning to a chapter by chapter overview/discussion of what I feel is the hands down best book on the subject of relationships, dating, and marriage. Namely the compilation by Amy and Leon Kass entitled Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying.

This book is not polemical or one which takes any position in particular. The purpose of the collection is not to drive the reader to any particular conclusion but instead provide a resource of thoughtful discourse on the insights of the great thinkers of the past on the subject. In that vein, it follows more in the line of a Great Books approach, and comprises with a few exceptions a fairly complete series of excerpts collected from the Western Canon which deal specifically with courtship, romance, and marriage. Each excerpt includes a brief half page to one page introduction describing the piece, providing some thoughts to motivate the reader, and in some cases assist the reader to penetrate the stylistic methods employed by the author. Contributors include Rousseau, Aquinas, Darwin, Shakespeare, and many more.

I began that endeavor a year or more ago but set it aside, should I return to it? Would that be interesting?

My Weekend

Well, that was a busy weekend. We had an “expert” in from out of town to help our church choir get a little bit better … which took Friday night and all day Saturday, attended concert Sunday night (more thoughts on that later) but the concert was the CSO performing the “Beethoven Fives”, i.e., the “Emperor” or the Fifth Piano Concerto and the Fifth Symphony, then today after church off to my wife’s remaining living grandparent’s birthday party (she’s 96 today). And that misses two short rides, putting a bike computer on a bike for a friend, and a short driving lesson for my daughter.

Anyhow normal schedules should resume tomorrow.

For The Week …

Evening blogging will be light to non-existent this week. Lent has started and I’ll be attending evening services all week this week. Between that, family related callings, and workouts this week … blogging will suffer. Fortunately this is a light week for workouts (a recovery week) so time allotted to sleep should not suffer overmuch.

Travel/Work/Blogging Update

I had to work tonight (and drive 2 1/2 hours to get there). Tomorrow morning I have to be onsite early, but no so early that I’ll fail to get a links post out. The drive gave me enough time to ruminate enough that tomorrow night, I’ll almost certainly be able to get an essay or two out.

Cheers. Have a good night, even if you’re watching the Oscars. 🙂

Travel Update

Last evening I flew to the West coast for business reasons. I have a number of essays sketched during my travel so for a while, blogging should be good. If by good, you my essays are a good thing. 😀

My Excuse … And I’m Going To Stick To It

Blogging quality and quantity will likely improve in the spring and summer. I’ve been a little frustrated lately with my blogging lately, but being a little slow sometimes it took me a while to figure out what’s going on, i.e., why. When the weather is better (temps above 40 or so) my rides are outside. And, much of the time, those rides are LSD (long steady distance) or rides for recovery. I have a lot more time to think during those rides … and that plus the passing scenery plus the joy of riding keeps me occupied. However, while like tonight I ride for an hour or two (two tonight) on the trainer in the basement I watch Netflix DVD, and that doesn’t inspire blogging like the open air does.

Anyhow, things will get better in mid to late March. In past years, my blogging “won” vs my conditioning for the racing season … and for two years I didn’t race. That priority has changed this year, I bike before I blog and it’s showing … especially now that it’s cold.

Tomorrow’s Links and a Pet Peeve

Link posts will be late again tomorrow.

A pet peeve. I saw somewhere a Holocaust Remembrance day is coming up. I also just saw A Boy in Striped Pajamas with my wife and youngest daughter. How is it that in the extermination camps 12 million were killed, of which over 6 million were Jews … yet in all the portrayals of the camps … they are populated by 100% Jewish populations?

That bugs me.

Cold Weather and a Hybrid

One thing about the IMA Honda hybrid, the electric assist can be viewed as a powerful starter motor (10kva -> 14 hp). That starter motor is used normally to assist the 1 liter gas motor when needed and also to “instantly” start the engine when the gas engine is shut down while braking and the speed drops below 18mph. When the system is put back in gear the big NIMH battery pack and the 14hp starter spin the engine up astonishingly fast.

In cold weather, tomorrow Chicago forecast is for -9 F and Thursday morning -16 F is expected. That big battery and big starter motor work a lot better than the more standard starter/9v battery.

Trains, Automobiles … no Planes

Well, I’m back under the weather again … and today we starting in the next hour or so, to Chicago by (mostly) train. Trenton, NJ to Washington DC on fast the NE corridor. Then from Washington DC to Chicago on the Capitol Limited which will arrive tomorrow morning.

Some Book Notes From a Long Train Ride

I’ve just completed a 24 hour or so train trip to the East Coast. In the absence of computers and the net, books were read.

I’ve really enjoyed reading through the first parts of the Princeton Companion for Mathematics. I’ve been away from academics and “real” mathematics for almost 20 years. This book is aimed at a mid-collegiate level math background and so far is pitch perfect for me, although I’m just getting into topics in section 3 with which I’m not very familiar. Anyhow I recommend it highly.

St. Siluan the Athonite is a great spiritual read, but best taken in smallish bites … at least for me.

The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy was very good and a very short study on why a little self-examination and reflection is a good idea. Actually (as my parents don’t regularly read this blog), I’ll admit that I’m going to give it to my father for Christmas once-read.

I’m about half-way through Ian Banks The Algebraist which paints an interesting galactic society without breaking (much) known laws of physics (I think wormholes, if possible are harder to “work” with than suggested). Oddly enough for the beginning parts of the book the hero brought to my mind my impression of frequent commenter “the Jewish Atheist.” I’m getting hints half-way through that this is a book about oppression and liberty.

I’ve read a few chapters of Fagles and Fox recent translation of The Aeneid and had brought a parallel book The Black Ships but didn’t get a positive impression of the second from the first 10 or so pages and will defer returning to that for a while.

Finally, I still have “grand” plans on reading a Banks “Culture” novel (The Player of Games) and a translation of Henryk Sienkiewicz With Fire and Sword before getting back to the midwest, but that will depend on time remaining and how much the Companion grabs me in the meantime.

Reglar Posting

Will resume tomorrow. We just finished a semi-epic train journey from Chicago to New Jersey. Our train (Amtrak Capitol Limited) was delayed leaving by about 90 minutes due to -10 degree (F) temperatures affecting switching equipment in the Chicago yards. Then just past South Bend, the train was delayed more because of broken track … also blamed on the weather. We arrived 4 1/2 hours late into Union Station in Washington DC, changed our tickets and made an 10 minute layover/connection on an Amtrak commuter train to Trenton. A short 20 minute car drive to my parents house and here we are. It was a relaxing trip all in all, because we really weren’t worked up and worried over the delays. Anyhow, I wasn’t just “out of contact” with the ‘Net, but I didn’t even bring my computer, and borrowing my parents computer to post this.

Long Night

Tonight I’ll be working ’till after midnight and I’ve morning (8:40) flight home.

My excuse. And actually that’s why the evening posts have been anemic of late, that 12-13 hours on site each day take “it” out of you.

Finally …

At long last, I finally completed reading The Brothers Karamazov, which I will I think shortly recommence re-reading it. In a large part is that recently there was a claim in a book I read, Mitya’s theodicy question was answered by events and arguments made in the rest of the book. I got glimmers of that in this reading, but I need to go back more carefully, specifically with that question (and its answer) in mind.

I didn’t quite finish it on the plane ride tonight to Memphis (my hotel this time is a Holiday Inn Express and the Internet connection is not so hot). The final denouement left me compelled to complete it … which will likely impact a longer essay tonight.