[FoRK] anecdotes from the week: death, engineering, music, siesta, archival, portraits, enigmas; impermanence, beauty, and legacies

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Mon Nov 14 03:10:11 PST 2011

----- Forwarded message from Kragen Javier Sitaker <kragen at canonical.org> -----

From: Kragen Javier Sitaker <kragen at canonical.org>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2011 02:32:20 -0500
To: kragen-journal at canonical.org
Subject: anecdotes from the week: death, engineering, music, siesta,
	archival, portraits, enigmas; impermanence, beauty, and legacies
User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)

2011-11-08: At 3 AM, I’m petting our cat on a stainless steel table as
he receives a lethal injection, and his breath stops and his eyes
half-close.  Beatrice’s efforts to close them are futile.  He was
beautiful.  I will never see him again.  Later, after sleeping, I
visit a friend, and we discuss virtual machine design, optoisolation,
automated irrigation, and companion planting.

2011-11-09: I stay inside the house for the entire day, writing 6000
words about how to build a computer that could survive being buried
for a century or more and still work when dug up --- a sort of
computational time capsule --- discussing issues such as child
pornography, manufacturing cost, user interface design, the dielectric
strength of fused quartz, nonvolatile memory bit errors, and the list
of acids that can etch polymethyl methacrylate.  I don’t go outside
even once, even for a minute.

2011-11-10: For two hours, I explain bitwise boolean operations on
bytes to a musician and programmer, as a borrowed 20MHz analog
oscilloscope displays audio waveforms being generated by an Arduino
microcontroller running a music program I wrote, and also being played
over speakers.  This particular program comes to be called “Laser

2011-11-11: A Aztec woman who has traveled ten thousand kilometers to
study dance in Buenos Aires this week falls asleep lying on a warm
brick floor with her head on my belly.  She is beautiful, and I will
probably never see her again.  Later, an animated discussion of
Plato’s Republic, technocracy, and artificial intelligence with a
bald, pale Chilean and his wife is cut short by the arrival of our bus
at the stop closest to the art show Beatrice helped organize.  I will
probably never see them again.

2011-11-12: I watch an acquaintance use a machine she and her
boyfriend built to scan the first edition of an 800-page book on
astronomy, printed in the middle 1700s.  She, I, and the librarian are
all wearing latex gloves.  The book is beautiful and fascinating, and
no machine-readable copies of the first edition existed until now.  By
making this copy, she has dramatically reduced the chance that the
book will be lost.

2011-11-13: A photographer who works for the Wikimedia Foundation,
traveling on assignment from the US, shoots a series of portraits of
Beatrice in different parts of our house.  Earlier, he helped me set my
hand on fire.  I will probably never see him again.

2011-11-14: I am lying on a sheet of foam rubber, to one side of a
trapeze.  A Basque woman slowly crawls past me on her hands and knees,
improvising a sort of echolalic Gregorian chant.  It is beautiful.  So
is she.  She returns to Uruguay in the morning, and I will not see her
for weeks or months.
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Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
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