Saturday, November 26, 2005

A glimpse into what it means to be me

So, typical Wagner holiday with "the kids" - up until midnight playing Xbox with "the boys" Thursday night. Then watched some TiVo before calling it a night around 1:30 or so and going to bed. (Because I'm on vacation my hours are starting to shift towards a little later and sleeping in quite a bit later). Up at 8:00 or so today (well yesterday now - Friday) and then made some breakfast. Anyway, because I'm in vacation mode (and because we played Xbox all afternoon), I went to bed pretty early; probably around 10:30 or so. So - up at 2:30, just because, for just a few minutes...

"Hmm... left the laptop on, I should probably shut it off". In the midst of doing that, read a few emails (why not, I'm a bit awake now), and in doing that somehow decided since I was up anyway, I might as well see if Paul Graham had any new essays. He did. While reading Web 2.0, I saw the reference to reddit, and decided to check it out, which lead me to Practical Common Lisp, and to Lisp in a Box.

Very cool... I've been reading Paul Graham for some time, and gotten very inspired by a few of his essays. (One of which discussed using the tool you use for programming to hack your system and caused me to write several generators for our system in CLIPS, since CLIPS is what implementations use. This lead to some good things. Anyway, I digress). We kick around his assertion that lisp is the best language ever, and having used Lisp at Michigan, I've frequently thought about picking it up again. Especially since it is used to program emacs - and it would be nice to know it better so I could hack emacs a bit. In any case, I downloaded and installed Lisp in a Box, which was easy enough to do, and bam - I'm up and running Lisp and following along in the book. Very cool stuff. :)

But now its 3:44, and although I was only going to be "up for a minute" - it is probably time to go to bed. Otherwise its going to be 5:00 before I know it (especially since its getting later by the minute as I blog this), and it will be morning and then I'll just be up. Resulting in me probably being tired while everyone else is up - which won't be good. So I guess I need to end my first session of lisp hacking - although it is fun and I think might lead to something cool. But... I've got 3 weeks or so of vacation coming up that I must use before the end of the year, and not much to do during that time - besides some blogging, reading, house chores (maybe finally cleaning out the basement and getting my office in shape) - so I have ample opportunity then to do much lisp hacking. Especially if I'm up at weird hours, since I won't have to work the next day and Tina and Jaime will.

Anyway... that's a glimpse into what it means to be me. Wake up in the middle of the night, don't fall back to sleep immediately, and then next thing I know, I'm installing lisp, hacking it some, and now all kinds of thoughts are whirling around in my brain about how I could use it on my current system, how I should finish the entire book so I can learn it more, etc. etc.

Hopefully I'll actually be able to fall back asleep. But its all good. I've got Lisp installed now. :)

And so - a few more quick thoughts:
  1. Wow - how the world has changed since I last used Lisp in school. I'm sitting at my home computer, connected to the Internet over WiFi - and installing a Lisp implementation on my computer, with an emacs front engine. All free. All fast. All easily installed and downloaded. And more importantly, I'm also blogging about it and pointing to numerous articles and resources on the web. All easily accessible by anyone reading my blog - so they too can share in the Lisp experience. Pretty mind boggling. Something that cool about being 47. You can remember back 20 years and think how different things are now.
  2. To anyone reading this that might be interested in programming (Michael) - you should think about reading the book, installing Lisp and doing the programs.
    • Its free
    • Its easy
    • It would teach you some programming - which isn't a bad thing to know - even if you never go into a job that requires it.
    • And while Lisp isn't the most marketable skill set (as mentioned in the book) - it is just very cool. And is impressive as a resume building thing - "I just wanted to learn to program something real (not just HTML, CSS, etc.) and so I found this on the web and hacked some Lisp" :)

OK... enough now - its almost 4:00AM - which is getting dangerously close to "Well its morning and I'm up, so whats the use in going back to sleep" time...

later all - hope you are having a great holiday with families/friends - and as always, excuse the bad spelling - its even worse at this time of night...

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