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  1. PyCon2019 poem

    I'm back in Cleveland for another Pycon. Yesterday was my first full day here. Along with Matt Seale, I was a helper at Matthias Bussonnier tutorial ("IPython and Jupyter in Depth: High productivity, interactive Python). The sticky system is efficient at signaling when someone in a classroom needs help, and a lot of folks don't know that this practice was popularized by Software Carpentry workshops and continues to be used at The Carpentries.

    Explanation of The Carpentries Sticky system: "It is easy to get help.
We use a system of sticky notes to allow learners to seek help without having to
call attention to themselves or interrupt the Instructor’s flow. Learners are
issued sticky notes of two different colours - generally red and green - and use
them to signal ‘it’s all good’ or ‘I need help’. When a learner posts a red
sticky, a helper in the room will assist them to get back on track"

    I stepped out for a coffee refill and bumped into a large contingent of Bloomberg folks I'd never met (Princeton office). I guess we have something like 90 people at the conference this year, and I made the usual and true remark about how I go to conferences to meet the other people who work at our company. Then after his tutorial concluded, Matthias and I bumped into Tracy Teal, exchanged some stickers, and chatted about The Carpentries, Jupyter, organizing conferences, governance and sponsorship models, and a bunch of other stuff.

    Matthias was a good influence in trying to participate in the swag bag stuffing, but it turned out we had almost an hour to kill maim (we decided injury's a better fate than death for that hour). Luckily, we bumped into John Lam and proceeded to chat away and entertain one another. The swag bag stuffing was really fun - highly recommend it to everyone! Smart people performing a task that allows for lots of banter and brief social interaction turn while there's music and a chance to move around turns out to be a good way to have time continue flying by. Too many people to name here, but Scopz was there and we made terrible puns, as usual.

    After the swag bag stuffing party, reconnected with Tracy and we chatted some more while walking around and picking up swag (mostly socks), joined by Gil Forsyth who handed me Xonsh sticker, bumped into Saul Shanabrook. Then stopped by to say hi to Jess, a friend of Anna Vu's, whom I only ever see at PyCon), and then chatted with Scott Sanderson, met Hugo Bowne-Anderson, and got to briefly greet Jonathan Helmus.

    I walked Matthias to his hotel, then went back to Butcher and the Brewer (again, Matthias joined me for dinner there the night before), and wrote out the poem you'll find below. After I wrote it, a bunch of my Bloomberg colleagues showed up, and I ended up chatting for long time with John Purviance. In keeping with tradition, though we work at the same company, I met John by accident at a coffee shop during last year's Pycon (he works in the New York office, whereas I'm in SF).

    One day down, and it's already been a wonderful Pycon.

    Pycon 2019

    May 2nd, Pycon Cleveland Two, as well
    The social wealth observed, created
    not jaded, lots to say and listen to
    Bring energy and silliness, too
    My objective to subjectively inject 
    a crack and tear decorum fabric
    be vulnerable
    a buzzing bee
    break up the swag bag stuffing monotony
    walk the path, switch sides, talk trash
    Great folks, give stickers, smiles, rehash
    A splash of warmth, a squak, a "BAM!"
    A nudge - we jam enjoying this team work
    not work at all - a play - a sandbox
    roles all clear yet much room left 
    to improvise
    Devise a way to make us laugh
    each finds their path
    rocking forth and back
    swaying fro and too
    a rhythm of a train a-moving
    Clapping celebration when we're done
    "Hey-hey! We're done!" - a dinner earned
    and well deserved - many socks collected
    New people met and old friends reconnected
    Tutorials and opening reception done
    and now Pycon 2019's officially begun
  2. Get in it

    Two weeks ago, Project Jupyter had our only planned team meeting for 2018. There was too much stuff going on for me to write a poem during the event as I had in previous years (2016, and 2017), so I ended up reading one of the pieces I wrote during my evening introvert breaks in Cleveland at PyCon a few weeks earlier.

    Once again, Fernando and Matthias had their gadgets ready to record (thank you both!). The video below was taken by Fernando.

    click to view the video

    Get in it

    Time suspended
    Gellatinous reality - the haze
    submerged in murky drops summed
    in swamp pond of life
    believe and strive, expand the mind
    A state sublime, when in your prime you came to
    me and we were free to flow and fling our
    cares, our dreams, our in-betweens, our
    rêves perdues, our residue -- the lime of light
    the black of sight -- all these converge and
    merge the forks of friction filled with fright
    and more -- the float of logs that plunges deep
    beyond the fray, beyond the keep -- a leap of faith
    the lore of rite, with passage clear, let
    fear subside, the wealth of confidence will
    rise and iron out wrinkles of doubt
    Commit to change and stash your pride
    then push your luck, and make amends.
    Branch out your thoughts, reset assumptions
    then checkout.
    The force of pulls t'wards master class
    Remote of possibilities. Rehash the past
    Patch up the present -- what's the diff?
    There's nothing left -- except to glide -- and
    soar beyond your frame of mind.  try not to pry
    cry, freedom, cry.
  3. June 1st, 2017

    We had another biannual Jupyter team meeting this week, this time it was right nearby in Berkeley. Since I had read a poem at the last meeting, I was encouraged to keep that going and decided to make this a tradition. Here's the result, as delivered this past Friday, recorded by Fernando Pérez (thanks, Fernando!).

    June 1st, 2017

    We struggle -- with ourselves and with each other
    we plan -- we code and write
    the pieces and ideas t'wards what we think is right
    but we may disagree -- about
    the means, about the goals, about the
    shoulders we should stand on --
    where we should stand, what we should stretch toward
    shrink from, avoid, embrace --
    a sense of urgency - but this is not a race
    We can't erase the past
    but we have built this future present
    There's much to learn, to do...
    Ours not the only path, no one coerced you here
    You chose this -- so did I and here we are --
    still at the barricades and gaining ground
    against the old closed world:
    compute communication comes unshackled
  4. March 29th, 2017

    What's missing -- feels like there's something missing --
    The capacity is there -- the job's not stressful but
    I somehow fail at the ignition stage - all this
    fuel just sitting around -- un-utilized potential
    How do I light that fire? Set it ablaze
    in a daze caught up in the haze of comfort
    I need to challenge myself, raising tides lift
    all boats, but they also drown 
    cows, horses, and goats, seeking refuge in hills
    that once covered in grass now fill up like
    Doctors in white coats 
    say "Keep your spirits up" -- hope floats.
  5. November 9th, 2016

    Two weeks ago, I went down to San Luis Obispo, California for a five day Jupyter team meeting with about twenty five others. This was the first such meeting since my return after being away for two years, and I enjoyed meeting some of the "newer" faces, as well as catching up with old friends.

    It was both a productive and an emotionally challenging week, as the project proceeds along at breakneck pace on some fronts yet continues to face growing pains which come from having to scale in the human dimension.

    On Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, we spent a good chunk of the day at a nearby beach: chatting, decompressing, and luckily I brought my journal with me and was able to capture the poem you will find below. I intended to read it at a local open mic the same evening, but by the time I got there with a handful of fellow Jovyans for support, all of the slots were taken. On Friday, the last day of our meeting, I got the opportunity to read it to most of the larger group. Here's a recording of that reading, courtesy of Matthias Bussonnier (thanks, Matthias!).

    November 9th, 2016

    The lovely thing about the ocean is
    that it
    It never stops
    incessant pendulum of salty foamy slush
    Periodic and chaotic
    raw, serene 
    Marine grandmother clock  
    crashing against both pier
    and rock
    Statuesque encampment of abandonment
    recoiling with force
    and blasting forth again
    No end in sight
    a train forever riding forth
    and back
    along a line
    refined yet undefined
    the spirit with
    which it keeps time 
    in timeless unity of moon's alignment
    I. walk. forth.
    Forth forward by the force
    of obsolete contrition
    the vision of a life forgotten
    Excuses not
    made real with sand, wet and compressed
    beneath my heel and toes, yet reeling from
    the blinding glimmer of our Sol
    reflected by the glaze of distant hazy surf
    upon whose shoulders foam amoebas roam
    It's gone.
    Tone deaf and muted by
    each coming wave
    breaks up the pregnant pause
    And here I am, barefoot in slacks and tie
    experiencing sensations
    of loss, rebirth and seldom 
    kelp bulbs popping in my soul.
  6. in transit

    Standing impatient, platform teeming, almost noon
    Robo voices read off final destinations
    But one commuter's already at his
    He reached for life's third rail
    There is no why in the abyss
    There's only closing credit hiss
    The soundtrack's gone, he didn't miss
    Reaching for life's third rail
    We ride on, now, relieved and moving forward
    Each our own lives roll forth, for now
    But now is gone, for one among us
    Who reached for life's third rail
    We rock, to-fro, and reach each station
    Weight shifting onto forward foot
    Flesh, bone ground up in violent elation
    And bloody rags, hours ago a well worn suit
    I ride the escalator up and pensive
    About what did and not occur today
    Commuter glut, flow restricted
    A crooked kink in public transport hose resolved.
  7. pedestrian musings

    I walk in monologue 
        through Berkeley's Hills
    Feet pressing into sidewalk firmly
    I eat the pensive mood 
        solitude brings
    And bite into the juiciness of
    I write, first time in years,
        free verse impromptu
    Taking few dozen steps
        between each pair of lines
    I yearn, on tip-toes
        stretching high, to be expressive
    A mode of being longtime
    I'm walking home - from job
        I'll soon be leaving
    To find myself believing once 
    That which I do defines 
        me not and feeling
    That which I am is
        good. enough. a lot.
  8. remembering John Hunter (1968-2012)

    John Hunter, the author of matplotlib, passed away on August 28th, 2012. He will be dearly missed.

    Please donate to the John Hunter Memorial Fund. A giant in our community, John lead by example and gave us all so much. This is one small way we can give back to his family.

    what follows are excerpts from my paper journal over the past week:

    John Hunter passed away this morning,
    Oh my god. John Hunter was incredibly
    kind and warm -- I can't believe he bought
    me this laptop. I can't believe that such
    a wonderful man could be dead -- so suddenly.
        What a tremendous loss.

    Dear Merlin,
        John Hunter died yesterday --
    getting unstuck. It is entirely appropriate
    to be stuck -- to feel it, smell it, taste it
    feel it drilling though your head

    I keep pacing around the house.
    I just need to leave.
    My thoughts are with John's
    family. & with the folks in Louisiana.
        A rat in a maze --
    panicked -- & the water
    level rises still. escalates.

        Our loss of John makes me
    want to code furiously.

    I feel the urge to code furiously,
    but only have the capacity to tweet about
    it, and lack thereof to censor myself.

    I don't believe I'm losing
    my mind. I believe I never had
    one to begin with.
      I'm not losing my mind. I never
      had one to begin with.
      I'm not losing my mind.
      That would imply I had one
      to begin with.
    Left the house without shoes --
    waiting for my laptop to charge.
      I want to share this with the
      group -- so I can come to
    terms with it myself. forgive myself.
      Connection with a stranger -- can be a form of escape.
    but it can help you gain perspective on
    your own life. I think it has for
      I am a severely broken
    person. Ok. Time to get shoes,
    shower, & then go to try &
    talk w/ Greg Wilson.

    I must be mistaken. Maybe I was.
    Who's to say that I wasn't.

    The scientific python community lost one
    of it's giants this week, and
    I lost an important mentor.
    Remembering John Hunter (JDH)
        People keep dying. I don't know
    how to deal with that -- I feel like
    I never really processed dedushka's death --
    nor Ken Green's, nor Jessi Debaca's,
    nor babushka's
    ... I lost another mentor. Most of
    these people (all?) don't know that they
    were mentors to me -- but they were.
    I looked up to John -- I secretly
    wanted to please him -- but did not
    even dare to do so directly (I
    have Fernando Perez to thank for getting
    my first contribution into Matplotlib.
    I remember feeling really bad after my first
    sprints at SciPy 2009 -- John actually
    knew who I was -- and wanted me
    to work on some matplotlib stuff --
      I ended up doing some rote work with
    David Warde Farley (and felt kind
    of like a third wheel - since dwf
    (pronounced "dwoof" - did I get
    that right, David?) is more than
    capable as a command-line
    cowboy (David doesn't know this --
    but I learned a great deal from
    just sitting next to him and watching
    him string together standard unix
    tools, pipe-after-pipe -- to clean
    up some scipy wiki content, to
    try and export it to a new site.
    David's also a role model in other ways --
    he's very calm and collected (unless
    he senses you've pushed the bozo button from
    some punditry vending machine - instead of
    understanding and engaging with the full complexity of some
    social or political issue)
        John was extremely kind and understanding -- 
    he wanted to invite & welcome me to
    code alongside other matplotlib developers,
    but there was no expectation.
      I got to hang out with John the 
    most at the PyData conference in
    Mountain View in late February. He was
    giving a matplotlib talk, and was seeking
    feedback on what to talk about --
    & how to do it. He's warm -- and always
    had this kind smile about him.
        After hanging out with John at PyData --
    this email arrived in my inbox

    Hey Paul, It was great seeing you again at pydata, and thanks for your help during the talk. We’ve decided that you could be a lot more productive in all your efforts to help ipython, mpl and others if you had a shiny new laptop, so I want to buy you one out of the mpl donations fund. If you spec out the machine you want and send me a link and details, and your preferred shipping address, I’ll order it for you and have it shipped to you. Pick a machine good enough that you can rely on it for a few years, because it looks like you get good use from these things! In other words, don’t feel compelled to be frugal on our behalf.  JDH

    Fernnado knew about the email -- & I was at
    a barbecue at his house -- to sort of
    celebrate an awesome week of lots of
    Python Giants in from out of town.
      Fernando was giddy -- "Have
    you checked your email?" -- with a
    twinkle in his eye "Let's go have you
    check your email right now" -- & he
    walked over to turn on his desktop machine.

        On the mailing lists -- I always tried to
    emulate John's approach -- helping everyone
    even if in the slightest manner.
    I was offered commit rights sort
    of out of the blue -- after sending
    a couple of pull requests.
        We are a community.
    We need to remember John, & keep
    remembering John -- for many, many,
    many years to come.
    I feel the urge to reach
    out to everyone I know & don't know.
    I'm desperate -- i think I've been that
    way since I was a little kid -- I
    remember having the same feelings when
    we were leaving Moscow -- a ten-year old,
    talking to friends and my teachers,
    many for the very last time.

    I am posting this, but it isn't finished.
    This is broken, half-finished, confused,
    necessarily so -- because there is no way
    to mend what we have lost. This
    is an expression of my current state --
    and if I don't let this out, it will just
    keep ricocheting around in my head for years
    to come.
        This is a first pass. This is me
    grieving. This will never be enough. This
    is just a start.

    videos of John Hunter's talks:

    matplotlib: Lessons from middle age. (Scipy 2012)

    Advanced Matplotlib Tutorial (PyData)

    SciPy 2009 - Advanced tutorial 3: Advanced topics in matplotlib

    (beginning) SampleDoc

    Scipy '09 Panel on Visualization tools

    Scipy '02 Core Projects update

    NIPS Workshop on Machine Learning Open Source Software (MLOSS)

    Fernando Perez and John Hunter

    Sept 2009: "some fun stories like 'Jeez, you guys have some crazy examples. I am surprised there isn't dolphins swimming around inside a sphere.' So now there is."

  9. uncomfortably sincere

    2007 08 07 life

    journal excerpt

    From my paper journal:

    Only a Sith Lord deals in

    23:37 May 10th, 2007 Thursday

    So what good is all of this if we don't engage one another - on a very real level? "Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes," man - so let's get off the condescending trips and the polarizing anti-discourse. Let's use our full range - zero, one, two, five, seven, eight, ten, etc and not just on or off - there's an infinitude of wonder in between and out in every dimension.

    I resolve to hesitantly dip my toes in, from time to time, instead of being all in or all out. Talk to a beat stranger - but not every beat stranger. Give up some left over food to the guys on Bancroft and Telegraph (the Shattuck hobos are too hip for me - but I hope they aren't for someone else -- I know they aren't). I can just eavesdrop on the world from time to time - I can't always be wide-eyed gulping from the fire hydrant of information flowing at 100 terabits per second eyes glazed over passed out exhausted gasping for a sense of self disoriented head-spun hours or days later. Just a drinking fountain or a tap and a few cups or liters a day would be fine. No need to parch yourself and dry up like a raisin all the time. It's ok to wrinkle and shrivel - and you don't need to burst, either - just be uncomfortably sincere.

    I think I'm going to try that.

    Related brief thought:

    17:36 June 22nd, 2007 Friday

    Bumper Sticker Activists (Telegraph in Berkeley)

    The last thing we need is more Bumper Sticker Activism. Wearing a clever T-shirt does not constitute civic participation.