metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
[personal profile] metawidget
It's been a busy midwinter for and around me. Everyone in the household
has taken a turn or two being sick -- gastro, conjunctivitis, cold and/or
flu... I took my first sick day in a while and I'm glad I didn't try to go
in that day.

We're poking around for ways to take the edge off the cooped-up winter
feelings for Elizabeth and the kids -- cleaning help from her friend, yoga
with child care, maybe even some regular daycare for the kids on a
part-time basis. I feel a bit secondary to deciding these things and
arranging them; I support them where I can but mostly I am just happy when
they are advancing and when they come together. There are no trophies for
parenting on "hard mode" and I feel like Elizabeth is very smart to marshal
more resources and the various people helping out are or will make a
difference for the whole family.

We have been getting out when we can -- skating on the canal with an
assortment of family, story time at the Snowblower festival, a family
adventure to Ikea for bedding and wine glasses. Valentine's Day this year
involved staying in with a home-cooked meal and wine. Elizabeth and I
must've been on the same wavelength this year for gifts; we each gave the
other nice underwear from the same store. Given that the kids were with
each of us while shopping combined with Oscar's memory, salience sense and
talkativenes, we were a little surprised we each managed to surprise the
other.

I think I'm getting more settled at work -- staffing is moving now, with
input and involvement from me, and there have been a few meetings now where
I wasn't the newest person in the room. Convincing the clients -- and
myself, sometimes -- that I'm the go-to manager for the unit will still
take time, and when I get my hands dirty it's still largely on
position-independent stuff or the one project I carried over from the old
job to finish. I am due to work directly on some Justice stuff, but it
always takes time to get the needs, data and documentation sorted out
before diving in. It will come!

Winter is read-on-the-bus season for me; so far I've read Neal Stephenson's
Cryptonomicon and James Gleick's The Information.
There are some not-too-surprising overlaps in content given that
Cryptonomicon follows code-breakers in World War II and the vaguely
Wired-magazine 1990s and Gleick is sweeping across the greatest hits of
encoding and organizing data from recorded history. Big computers, Turing,
Von Neumann: they all show up in both.

I feel like if I had read Cryptonomicon in high school, I would have read
it as serious fiction (I read Heinlein to fill that niche), and it has some
of the same weaknesses: over-the-top quirks and coincidences, unrealistic
competence in protagonists, female characters who just get dragged along by
the plot and the whims of a man or two despite their unrealistic
competence. In spite of that, there is plenty of fun in there -- action,
fun connections, plot twists and flashes of sympathetic character. I'm
just glad that I waited long enough to read it that I saw the iffy stuff
and could enjoy the page-turner and authorial acrobatics without feeling
that the book had changed my life.

The Information was an extra-fun read just coming off crypto-fiction.
Turing, who wanders through Cryptonomicon, turns up, but the theorist who
holds it all together is Claude Shannon, a man I only really knew from the
entropy that bears his name (and which I could stand to get a more
intuitive feel for yet). Shannon's linkage of information, chaos and
surprise is cool, and his mix of tinkering and math links him to figures
like Babbage. Gleick's way of turning up themes and similarities, while
touching on a bunch of pinnacles of civilization (libraries, math, various
sorts of telecommunication, physics, computing, sociology) provides unity
and variety in this brick of a book.

I guess all this entry is missing is a beer review at this point. Maybe
next entry -- I have been drinking enjoyable beer from time to time lately!

Date: 2014-02-23 02:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ironphoenix.livejournal.com
There are no trophies for parenting on "hard mode"

Very true, and not just true of parenting, too.

Good to hear that you've been having fun, and that work is going decently!

I must admit to being curious about which store you both went to...

I enjoyed both of the books you mention, too; I read Cryptonomicon quite a few years ago, but not so long that I took it terribly seriously. I had been involved a bit with the electronic warfare world even before reading it. The Information was really neat to read, because the math is familiar but the history, less so. I can lent you Eric S. Nylund's Signal to Noise if you're interested; it's another SF/cyberpunk novel with a connection to information theory, but I don't have the sequel (A Signal Shattered).

Date: 2014-02-24 01:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ironphoenix.livejournal.com
Well, I've never been in an AA store, so maybe I'll take a look sometime!

Could be tricky to get you the novel soon... this week is pretty busy, and then I'm gone for two weeks. Still, it'll keep!

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