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Introduction

My first blog post is a good opportunity to introduce myself, and a good starting place for that is a confession: I'm a bit of a "depth junkie". I like to explore, to understand how things fit together, to build stuff, to develop - abilities, understandings, designs, opportunities.

I'm not very quick at it - I'm almost 60 and haven't been married nor had kids. I spent some of that time occupied by digestive problems from infancy that reoccurred in my late teens. I feel I started to get a handle on them in my twenties, and eventually returned to being fairly healthy, but I continue to contend with and be puzzled by new twists and turns. I have had some work successes but am still striving to develop insight and expertise the area where I'd most like to concentrate. I always go for a walk after my daily meal, and I do not walk fast. I am patient, and curious, and willing to play the cards I have been dealt and see how I can make the best of this life. Gradually.

I am curious about lots of things, abstract or concrete, personal or technical. I am most curious about what is actual, real, in both personal and objective realms. I'm skeptical about mysticism, yet also skeptical about skepticism - I recognize and understand that there is a limit to knowing, and that many things can't be entirely known. (Years ago I summarized this perspective in an essay on my website, Real Faith.)

I tend to like people as individuals, particularly when they're willing to both be open and share of themselves while also being able and willing to listen to others. I have big misgivings about how people in groups can bring out crappy ways of relating with each other, particularly when it comes to formal roles and us-vs-them polarization. I like very much what is expressed by this pithy quote:
  • The master was slipping from his official position momentarily, and it was just possible, if Phineas pressed hard enough, that there might be a flow of simple, unregulated friendliness between them, and such flows were one of Finny's reasons for living.
    -- John Knowles, A Separate Peace
(In general I like the way that quotes can distill and highlight important and sometimes elusive notions. If you also enjoy that kind of thing, I've gathered and continue to add favorites to my  Quotes Collection.)

I see this "depth junkie" stuff as being part of a cognitive style - a way of thinking that is organized around remembering things according to their inter-connections, rather than by rote memory. I struggle mightily when I need to remember something literally, but feel confident when I need to remember something by structural understanding. In the latter case, even if I don't remember some detail, it's easier and more effective to "reconstruct" it in context than trying to rewind my very sketchy literal memory.

I'm kind of intent and serious in this structural way of thinking. One lesson that's been key for me is counterbalancing this tendency (at least a little) by an insight in the term "sense of humor". It's been helpful for me to realize that "sense of humor" does not say "being funny". Instead, as I see it, it says "sensing funny", noticing. That's a great relief to me, because it mean I need not perform, memorize jokes, be funny (especially when I don't feel inclined) in order to be receptive to what is funny. And I have come to realize that maintaining the ability to notice "funny", whatever the situation, can be an actually life-redeeming skill. Maybe there's irony in the analytic, serious way of realizing this? Oh well. I've been collecting favorite amusements, as well. It was me that put the (unadvertised, but still present as of this writing) collection of Python humor on python.org, years ago when I was running the site: https://www.python.org/doc/humor/. You can also see a selection of stuff that particularly tickles me on my own site: Amusements.

One primary way I pursue "serious fun" is in a collaborative movement game, Contact Improvisation. It's been the perfect antidote, for me, to a tendency to be preoccupied with thinking. To work well this practice requires physical immediacy and a willingness to accept not always knowing exactly what you're doing. And yet it also involves questions and principles that are worth musing about, in particular because it is hard to describe, hard to teach well. I think everyone who might enjoy it would be well served in having a real opportunity to do so, and am well served myself in trying to foster such opportunities, so I think and write about and teach it, as well as practicing it pretty frequently.  I'm deeply appreciative that I chose it a long time ago as my primary hobby. You can see some of the writings organized in the writings in this section: Contact Improvisation.

My adult livelihood has been in computer programming and computer systems management. To some degree I've been a gun-for-hire, though I've tended to be involved in public domain (government standards research at NIST) and open source efforts. I've sometimes been close to the central development of the Python language, and have contributed modules and tweaks that are part of the Emacs lisp-based programming editor. I'm currently indulging myself in a speculative project focused on my favorite technical topic, how to organize information so it is most conducive to developing structures and discovering details when and where they are needed. The brief gloss of the premise behind it is a way to organize information to enable sharing of not just the details, but also the process of organizing the details. I call it Spherical, and have not yet gotten to the point of making it publicly available. Until I'm ready for that I can't point at anything specific about it to show. Here's the Software and Systems Development section of my website.

Maybe this all will convey what kind of blog to expect. Overall I see myself as someone from my another planet, who only gradually has realized that planet is different from the ones occupied by other people. Maybe everyone is like that, maybe not. In any case, I realize that what interests me does not interest everyone, yet all are welcome!

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