Miyamoto sensei came to town to last weekend to teach an aikido seminar, as he has for the past four years or so. I found a nice article on him chez Takezo, which captures much of the spirit of such events, in text and video.
Between sessions on Saturday, I zipped by the Boquería to pick up the 5.6-kilo turkey. Hoo boy. We cooked and ate it on Sunday, which was a most delightful dress rehearsal. I made a stuffing with leeks, almonds, and figs -- and eggplant instead of old bread. It turned out great, much better than I thought it would. Who knew?
Though, what the hell is up with my friends? I told people that food would be ready between 3 and 4, and the first people (out of 15) show up at 4:30. Being in Spain only explains so much.
Tomorrow I catch a plane to the states for the real deal -- my first Thanksgiving in the states since 2001. Yay for winter cooking, in which every pot contributes to the condensation on the inside of the windows.
(Not that I'm going to turn this thing into a confession booth, but I do admit a bit of ill feeling towards eating animals. But turkey smells so magical...)
In the smoky corner of a neighborhood bar, a tarball was rolled, the first Guile-Gnome release to be API and ABI stable; alack, bugs. Publicity was held, is held at bay, until a time of fixage.
A printed and painted certificate arrived via personal courier from Japan, along with a yudansha passport. The latter was carried to the mediterranean island of mallorca, upon which it was signed, after sufficient asskicking. (Asskicking, verb, transitive: kicking of my ass by others, but mostly by the mat; see also: unyielding.)
In a couple hours I'll go up to the polideportivo and help lay out 500 square meters of mat. It's seminar weekend, kiddos! The incoming instructors are top-notch, Yamada sensei out of New York and Shibata sensei out of Hombu dojo in Tokyo. As a bonus we'll have Peter Bernath, Harvey Konigsberg, and about 50 or so other people coming from abroad. Good times!
And, and, para colmo, tomorrow I test for black belt. Yay!
A lot of people ask what happens once you get your black belt. Its traditional meaning is that you are a serious student, and have an understanding of the basics of a martial art. It does not connote finality in any way; it's more like a milestone, or something like that.
One can see this in the first-degree tests, like mine tomorrow. They're usually fun to watch, but unnecessarily forced, lacking in grace. The difference between first- and second-degree tests is phenomenal, though -- it seems that in the few years after shodan, practitioners gain a sense of confidence and fluidity that they lacked before. That I lack now, I mean. So it's an important rite, for me, but one that points towards the future rather than the past.
The album "Less Talk, More Rock" by Propagandhi is a near-masterpiece. While I do like their other albums, "Less Talk, More Rock" has an infectious youthful brilliance that makes me twitch every time I hear it. I must have listened to Resisting Tyrannical Government 50 times and it is still a transformative experience. Rock on!
Since last week's missive, I've been able to relax a bit, hack-wise, fixing errors as I see them. Most errors have been related to the fact that displaying a blog entry first parses it as valid XML, throwing an exception if the input is invalid. Luckily wordpress is pretty good at ensuring that its text is valid XML, but it's not complete -- it allows bare ampersands, both in the text and in URLs, and sometimes lets angle-brackets pass through unfiltered. So I've had to fix up a few old posts.
Among the more curious things I have had to write for this blagware is a UTF-8 encoder, in order to parse character references like ’ and such, given that Guile only does byte strings, currently.
Shockingly, to me, I do get spam, on the order of about one or two comments per day. No one else uses this software. It seems that there are a couple bots out there that actually parse forms, looking for textareas, then manage to divine which fields require what syntax. Currently my field names are the same as wordpress', so I will vary them until my obscurity provides the necessary "security".
But in the meantime, since my persistent store is Git and not a database, I can easily revert any change, be it changes to posts or to comments or whatever. I fleshed out the admin interface sufficiently so that you can actually create and edit posts there, and gave it an interface for seeing recent changes and possibly reverting them. Of course, reversion is also a change which can be reverted, ad infinitum, so there is no need for scary warnings in the UI when deleting comments, because no change is irreversible. Neat.
Responsibility and War Guilt, one of Chomsky's more pleasing reads of late, especially relevant to those of us that work as technologists. The interview format's outside prompting makes him expound in a slightly different orbit. Found via the print Z magazine.
Miyamoto sensei came this weekend to teach a seminar, hosted by my aikido school. The play between him and others is very flexible and dynamic -- hard to describe, I find my word-hoard lacking.
I took a nap after this morning's class and dreamt of some of his techniques; now, once more, to sleep the clock around til morning. Good night internet.
I have regressed yet again, snagging a copy of Midnight Marauders from the interwebs. A fine, fine album. Award Tour is still such an excellent track.
WXYC continues to delight.
Unexpectedly, after a class on Thursday, the instructor gave me the nivell blau, which lets me take out dinghies from the municipal sailing center whenever I want. Yay!
Also unexpectedly, and still undigested, my aikido instructor said that I should present myself for shodan this march coming up. Lots of training necessary. Hopefully I can get in five or eight hours a week until then.
More predictably, I signed up for a new year of yoga at the local iyengar center. Iyengar schools seem to be progressive; this particular school has six levels, which have separate classes. +1 flexibility.
Been hacking guile-gnome docs a lot in the last couple weeks. Will write more on that later, just wanted to get out the link now: 1000 pages of generated documentation: classes, properties, signals, functions, methods. I'm up to GTK+, a few libraries to go and all of the platform libraries will be documented. Still room for tweaks though.
fodder (for rumination)
When women let their hair down, it means either sexiness or craziness or death.
Margaret Atwood, Ophelia has a lot to answer for
I have been a creature of the machine lately. My current project is Guile profiling, but it proves to have many distracting components. For example:
cumulative self total percent percent calls file:function 17.81 15.94 4200 gc-card.c:scm_i_sweep_card[/opt/guile/lib/libguile.so.17.0.1] 1272.79 7.47 74218 eval.c:ceval[/opt/guile/lib/libguile.so.17.0.1] 7.13 7.13 491863 ???:pthread_getspecific[/lib/libpthread-2.5.so] 6.19 6.19 191068 ???:pthread_mutex_lock[/lib/libpthread-2.5.so]
I wrote a callgrind format parser in Scheme, which produces what to me are more readable summaries. A bit pointless but interesting.
In the same vein, envious of the benchmark graphs of bazaar, I made a hack to make charts in Guile, using Guile-Cairo (of which I released version 1.3.91). I probably wouldn't have done it if my Gnumeric didn't have some kind of endianness problem with its colors, but I'm pleased with how things turned out.
Time passes too quickly to write about it! Climbed pedraforca, in a trip in which the mountain gods did smile upon us. Left my camera in the car, what a fool I am.
Last weekend was beautiful, my first time in Italy, meeting up with a friend in Florence. My robot overlords have not allowed me time yet for picture-postage, but they will relent yet.
Not until after this weekend though: the third year in a row in which I'll be able to catch Peter Bernath, and then in the afternoons I have my first sailing lessons. A bit absurd to fill the time so much, but it will be a pleasant change from the bar--recover-from-bar cycle.
Greetings gentle reader, I offer these poorly connected vignettes for your eyes' consumption.
My friend Colin just came out with a new album, Soukha. He gave me that link a couple weeks ago, but I still haven't been able to listen to it on the web site because I don't have a Flash player. Today I realized that I have his mp3's from somewhere else, put them on, and was more than duly impressed. Hotness! People should tell him how awesome he is. I think stylistically it's closest to Gotan Project. Very diggable.
I started updating the GStreamer bindings as well. They are available from bzr only, at the moment, pending a release when things are working OK. Already caps and structures are fine, including all of the valued types like int ranges, fractions, fraction ranges, and fourcc's. Today I got miniobjects working, a new fundamental classed type. Now that Guile is fully multithreaded, except for GC, I have a fighting chance of getting callbacks from threads to work as they should. Then I release and the world of scheme+gstreamer hackers rejoices. (Currently when you drive through this world the sign reads "Population: 1".)
gnome foundation elections
The GNOME foundation board elections are upon us, and after renewing my membership I cast my ballot, for a mix of people. The candidates were pretty good this year. May the most voted for persons win?
The cold snapped about a week ago. Brr!
Thanksgiving came and went this year again, and two turkey carcasses were carried out my door. Things went pretty well, with about 35 people showing up in my flat, with a continuous eat-drink-eat-again cycle going on for about 10 hours. Good times! Also this was the first year that I wasn't scared of the turkey. On the flip side I see the tendons in my arm in a different light.
Went to Mallorca a couple of weekends ago for an Aikido seminar with Yamada Sensei of New York. I'd have liked to have seen more of the island; as it was it was a loop of train-eat-drink-sleep. Also good times, that seems to be the theme of this burst-o-blog.
Upcoming: Christmas in Belfast/somewheres around there, a new year turning. GOOD TIMES
Another hungover sunday, down to the street to buy a paper, sit in a cafe, watch people until the headache either goes away or sends me back to bed. Two years of this routine, on and off, and I think I from the papers I finally understand the political configuration in Catalunya.
It's considerably more complicated than the US, with six or or eight parties in parliament, depending on how you count. The basic divides are left vs right and nationalist versus spanish. No one has an absolute majority, meaning that to govern, groups have to make compromises and trades to form a numerical majority, which then becomes the government.
This year, the party with the most votes was a rightist nationalist party (CiU). Their goal was to return to the government at any cost. They could form a government with the socialists, a pseudo-spanish party affiliated with the ruling socialists in Madrid, but as far as I can see the socialists wanted to avoid any association, in the minds of the voters, with the right. This was especially important to them given the upcoming spanish parliamentary elections. The other option for the right nationalists was a coalition with the left nationalists, but there is so much bad blood there that the leftists just used the rightists to increase their desirability with the socialists.
In the end the arithmetic led Catalunya to the same situation as the before, with a left coalition between the socialists (PSC), the left nationalists (ERC), and the greens (EUA-ICV). The rightist spanish party affiliated with Madrid (PP) loves this situation, squeezing every internal disagreement in the ruling coalition into attack ads on the "inefficiency" of the government. Their motto in the last election was "Be decisive". But with only 11% of the vote, the PP isn't taken too seriously.
I have to say that I like the parliamentary model much better than the winner-take-all system in the US. I like the idea of compromise, and that smaller parties can exercise some degree of power in the government. The possibility that other parties can actually make it to parliament helps of course; back in 2000, the green candidate for president didn't even make it on the ballot in North Carolina.
Another year, another thanksgiving in "hostile territory". This year promises to be larger than the last -- I might end up doing two turkeys. The scare quotes mean it's a joke, dudes and ladies
Not much to speak of -- the hacks of my last writing product on guile-lib were the work of a couple weeks' labor, fighting entropy. But for the moment, I've put it in a situation that's reasonably resistent to time's arrow. Time to move up the stack again.
Last weekend was most excellent, with an instructor coming from Tokyo's Hombu Dojo to give a course. For some reason Japanese instructors are called only by their last names. Miyamoto sensei is impressive in any case, and at 58 years old is really quite young to have a 7th degree black belt. He manages to be very technical yet humorous on the mat. Outside he dresses like a mafioso. Good times.
In two weeks there's another seminar coming up in Mallorca, with New York's Yamada sensei. I'm going to see about heading there, taking one of the boats that I see out of my window at work, sleeping on the floor in the school. It's a bit perverse that I find joint locks to be relaxing, but so it is.
you may refer to me as the perceptron
Outside the wind is crisp. The quantum weather device is now more frequently observed in the autumn state. Indeed, my favorite time of year.
The only thing that could make this better would be walking in the mountains with leaves of orange and red. So I bought a ticket back to North Carolina, to enjoy Lake Lure for a weekend, and perhaps sip some coffee back at Cup a Joe in Raleigh. On Hillsborough street of course; the other branches lack the luster of the original. October 5 to the 17th.
August's paucity of aikido classitude made my schedule more rigid, revolving around the few classes that I could attend. Now that they are offered again, I should get back into the habit of going to the 7 AM class and have my evenings free.
Time is in short supply in my days. If anyone's got a few hours to spare can you please email them to me. It is appreciated.
digging for maggie
Work's going OK. Just finished a six-month-long project to construct a cluster of machines to stream live video. It's basically a distributed fork bomb. Currently it is failing to kill the machines, but succeeding in streaming TV and radio. Perhaps I need to tweak some of the parameters for better effectiveness.
oshi li nawa
A buddy of mine that worked with me in Namibia just finished up his contract and dropped by Barcelona in his travels. We tooled around a bit in Figueres and Sant Celoni, inland towns north of Barcelona. Figueres is famous for its Dalí museum, which was indeed nice. His surreality is a bit overplayed though; it's as if they're trying to beat it into you.
More surreal by far was the "castle" up the hill, castell san ferran. It's an enormous structure, built to hold thousands of people. There were only a handful of other visitors, so the emptiness of the place was manifest.
The decaying arches, the bricked up doors, the stairs descending into water: all silent bellicose artifacts. How absurd to build such a structure, on such a scale, in the 18th century. Engineering meets libros de caballería. Bizarre.
The software I use to manage my photos is the most excellent F-Spot from Larry Ewing. Inspired by F-Spot's tag support, the aesthetics of Jakub Steiner's Original, and the tag clouds used by flickr, I wrote a pair of scripts to synchronize my photos from f-spot to the web and show them in their taggy goodness.
Well, I finally imported that code into a bzr branch. To fetch it, just run:
bzr get http://wingolog.org/bzr/original
When that's done, you'll have your own private branch of original to play around with. There's a README in there and such. If you have any patches, either publish your branch to the web via bzr push or send me a bundle via bzr bundle, and I'll see about applying them.
Advogato is playing with our hearts, "I'm gone", "I'm back", etc. I think the site has a lot of value. It's a place of outsiders, of unaffiliates; no project ties the people there together, only a love of hacking. It sidesteps a lot of the inside-outside problems that plague other aggregators, partially because the software that runs it is so unmaintained that nobody identifies with it. I hope that it stays alive -- it's fresh, and there's no barrier to entry in order to be read.
Advo can lose the articles though, in my opinion. The recentlog is what it's about. Providing a place for pontification isn't so interesting.
Also, regarding http://advogato.ev-en.org: I don't think a simple aggregator is sufficient. You do need a way to filter out the crap, which is the trust metric. A trust metric + an aggregator would be much better.