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 livestock cows, horses, and goats, seeking refuge in hills that once covered in grass now fill up like lifeboats. Doctors in white coats say "Keep your spirits up" -- hope floats.
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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, 2016read more
The lovely thing about the ocean is that it is tireless 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 the 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 anticipation 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.
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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.
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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 self-reflection 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 self-denied I'm walking home - from job I'll soon be leaving To find myself believing once again That which I do defines me not and feeling That which I am is good. enough. a lot.
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. calmly. 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 me. 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
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:read more
From my paper journal:
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.read more