Recurse Center: week 2, day 1

Got to RC in time for late-kinda-reading-Learning-Python, but that’s the earliest I’ve ever made it in so far. Practice.

This DID mean, however, that I was here in plenty of time for morning sitting!

Dove right into Learn CLI the Hard Way, for the second time (I did a bit last week, but didn’t feel focused about it). Amazing how much faster it goes when I already know most of it. There are still a few things I want to really drill so they’re just available in my brain if I think about them, but there aren’t many. Rad.

Spent too long looking for where to get lunch today (got a bunch of awesome food this weekend and planned some lunches; left it all at home). But settled on Wild Ginger, which has the advantage of being SUPER close.

`find` is the freaking coolest thing I have learned about on the command line. Also, using our friend `>`, I made a list of all the photos on my hard drive containing the word “soon” as part of their name. Eee.

Too much post-lunch time yakking, but I made more tea (becoming a daily habit here) and talked about the generalities of What Is Agile Even (among many other things) with Wes and Panya.

Broke my brain reading man-pages for things like `find` and `less` (which 1) is huge, 2) has all kinds of hilarity to me, like the environment variable LESSSECURE, and the env variable LESS_IS_MORE, which makes `less` behave more like `more`, which just sounds giggle-worthy)).

Actually finished running through LCLItHW (or however it’s abbreviated), which felt good. I finished a thing! Even if it was going through a thing, and that feels like a cheating version of “finishing” something to me.

Finally got my system-wide (i.e. “not virtualenv”) IPython updated, which is something I’ve been putting off for months, if not longer (I went from v. 2.1.0 => 3.2.1). Got an error that I tried to google:

OSError: [Errno 13] Permission denied: '/Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/IPython/'

And TRIED to avoid sudo-ing the upgrade of IPython, but I eventually gave in. And the upgrade worked beautifully.

Picked up Learn Python the Hard Way again. I’ve worked on it a couple times before, but never finished it. I am going to finish it this time, and then see where I’m going from there.

The less I focus on what other people might think of what I’m choosing to work on, the more I get done.

Recurse Center: week 1, day 4

End of the official RC week! Whoo.

Actually got to morning sitting on time! Made essentially zero wrong turns on my bike ride in, which was a first. (Not being able to turn left on a one-way that *does* go that direction was the only semi-exception.)

Zulip (which we use for internal chat) helpfully told me that there were “infinity” new messages, which I of course felt like I needed to read. But I learned a bunch of things, like how the blog aggregator works, and soon I will figure out how to add my blog there.

Mostly I didn’t feel like I got a lot of things done today, but I DID accomplish some time-consuming/awesome things. We had a keysigning party today, and Alice ran a workshop beforehand on getting all set up with keys and things. And it was the first keysigning party I’d been to! And I’m pleased that it was with my fellow RC folks.

There are a lot of moving parts to doing the whole authentication thing, though. Generate the key. Save it. Send it to a keyserver. Look up people’s keys. Save them. Set levels of trust. Sign things. Send THAT back to the server? I’ve been through little GPG/PGP workshops before, and it almost seems more daunting the more I learn about it.

However, I asked for help, and Greg immediately said he’d be happy to help me, so we walked through signing a key from the command line, which can be kind of an adventure, as it turns out.

Also went to lunch with mostly-different people, and even joined afternoon walkgroup for a little walk.

I did almost no independent programming today, which was a bit of a bummer, but I started reviewing Learn CLI The Hard Way, and did a little bit of morning warmup on codingbat. My friend, the bat.

Recurse Center: week 1, day 3

More bike misadventures; I got to morning sitting even later than yesterday — and it was fine again, of course. Even thought a little about my breathing this time! It’s such a nice way to start the day, and I can see myself doing this almost every morning.

What else?

  • Asked Liz about a book she’d mentioned during morning check-ins, since she said she’d “read a book” yesterday — it’s a nice little book about asking useful data questions, and I look forward to tearing through it at some point. Apparently I inspired her to try a library afternoon yesterday — just, like, go to the bookshelves, pull off whatever sounds good, read it unless it turns out to be boring.
  • Got to Tom’s “first day” tune-up workshop, and finally actually cleared out ALL my `brew doctor` errors, which might not have happened since a few years prior. So satisfying! And really nice to hear people saying “I don’t know” when they don’t know, yet not letting that be a stopping point.
  • Updated all the software. Just. All of it. XCode, command line tools, OS X itself, everything.
  • Longer-than-intended, but awesome, lunch at Buddha Bodai with several folks. Yay vegan Chinese food! Came back to a super-updated computer and more tea.
  • Did a little more .bash_profile/.bashrc tweaking, and whatever else looked good from the RC tune-up doc.
  • Attempted to start connect4, realized my brain refused to stay on task, and did some more codingbat. Might be a nice little code-meditation to do early in the day — I have a really hard time starting to work in the mornings.
  • Spent some time starting in on Learning Python, the glorious beast of a book. My copy just arrived today, and maybe now I will join morning “reading this book” club…
  • Trackpad demons inhabited my computer, prohibiting me from doing things like “moving the mouse as intended,” and facilitator Mary helped me exorcise them.
  • Played with TurtleWorld again — got seriously stuck with what should have been a slight change, since it caused my previously lovely circles to get GIANT and incomplete. After copying the book’s example code to a test file, confirming that it wasn’t the book code that was broken, and then comparing the differences, I figured out that it was due to the angle of each turn being an integer, rather than a more precise float. Had set my “I’m stuck” timer earlier, since the facilitators encourage asking for help after 15 minutes of being stuck (struggle for a bit, but don’t struggle forever), and it had six seconds left on it. Yay!

Recurse Center: week 1, day 2

  • Came early to join morning meditation/sitting group. Decided that sitting still for however long we’re sitting is my goal, and discarded all worries about not “clearing my mind.” Reminded of Buster Benson’s “meditation is doing nothing and seeing what happens.” At least I think that’s how I heard that line!
  • Morning check-in: I didn’t get much done yesterday, and no one finds this unusual or remarkable. Palpable relief.
  • Finished yesterday’s blog post, wrote my 750words for the day. Write all the things.
  • Spent some more time with the RC User’s Manual,  discovering I have previously missed some parts (I’ve read them now!).
  • Pomodoro: 25 min working sprints (“pomodoros”)/5 min breaks, with 15 min breaks after every 4 pomodoros, because that’s the default on my favorite Pebble app
  • Lunch at Butcher’s Daughter — really good vegan grilled cheese with adzuki bacon (???) and basil and and and. Mostly this is relevant because I remembered to eat, and tried something new independently.
  • Came back and finally got back to Think Python — picked up chapter 4 and playing around with swampy. I am actually super delighted by playing with turtles right now, so turtles it is.
  • Collaboratively incited conversation about near and not-near vegan food, and drafted up a wiki page for the RC wiki.
  • Worked through the difference between parameters & arguments again. Parameters are like the Socratic ideal, and arguments are like the actual chicken? Parameters are the class, and arguments are the instances? I’m not sure I have a good analogy yet, but I’m working on it.
  • Spent another late afternoon in the magic library corner, picking up books about Python, but nothing stuck as much as the conversations I ended up having about…something?
  • Went out for dinner with some folks, and then came back for movie night (a bit late, but oh well): we watched A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, which was awesome.

Recurse Center: Day 1

Started at the Recurse Center today. Totally overwhelmed. Somehow anticipating this did not prevent it!

We had introductions in the morning, all the facilitators introduced themselves and some part of RC, we made big collaborative lists of things we’re excited about, and things we’re nervous about, and then, I don’t know, I guess we were unleashed on ourselves? That’s what it felt like for me. There are so many smart, kind people here, with all kinds of different stories, and they are already inspiring me to be better just by existing.

I spent part of the morning thinking about what I might want to work on:

  • Sidewalk stamp mapping/data munging/goodness knows what with all the geotagged photos I have of Portland sidewalk stamps (which show the contractor and the year they were put in). I want to do maps to them. I need to work on some other things before I get here, though.
  • Word science on 5 1/2 years of daily writing (!). One of the recent alums has also been writing there, so we might pair on this some Thursday (!).
  • Pebble app? I’m loving my new Pebble Time, and I keep thinking about how the apps I have could be slightly better, along with considering whether I need anything that doesn’t exist yet:
    • Pomodoro apps, for counting blocks of productive time — there’s the one I like, and the one that’s colorful and not very fault-tolerant. I want to take the best of both.
    • Something more useful for weather: do I need sunscreen? rain gear? is upcoming rain surprising? is the weather very different than it has been lately? New York weather is already throwing me for a loop. How can it be both warm and rainy in a single day? At the same time? It sounds like a fun way to delve into working with APIs (like Dark Sky!).

But also, the morning made me feel like I lost the ability to read words, and I kind of freaked out a bit.

One of the facilitators, Tom, put out a general invitation to ask him for help if we were having trouble figuring out where to go or what to work on — invitations make all the difference for me, so I walked over, we talked through what I’d previously done and what might be some bite-sized ways to get going here (little games, little command-line tools implemented in Python), and he gave me a good bundle of ideas, encouraging me to discard anything that didn’t excite me.

I spent most of the afternoon reminding myself that I do actually know how to program by doing an assortment of Python codingbat exercises. (Paper has been amazing for having an infinite whiteboard that I can carry around with me; I’m finding it helpful to puzzle through boolean pairs by making a non-pea-plant Punnett square. Someone taught me the logic-specific name for this kind of grid yesterday evening; I think it starts with C?)

I also remembered Pam’s comment about the excellence of the reading nook, and retreated to it to read titles and see if anything jumped out at me. I ended up devouring a couple sections of How Learning Works, which swiftly built on things I knew and added new information. I can see myself going back and rereading parts later.

Day ended with game night, and in a move that sort of surprised me, I stuck around and even played Settlers of Catan for the first time. (I lost horribly, but I tied with Nick, who works here, so I guess that’s not so bad.) My suspicion that RCers would be good people to try new things with: confirmed.