So I’ve really breached the “blog every week” commitment I made to myself. Two full weekends in a row and the cognitive load of the new job more than account for this, so I won’t belabor the point any longer.
Both the technical work and the actual business domain of my new role are much more technically rigorous than anything I’ve done before. My old manager was fond of quoting Gene Kranz in Apollo 13: “Let’s work the problem people. Let’s not make this worse by guessing.” That phrase has come in handy to me many times the past few weeks. Writing raw SQL forces you to face the complexity that Rails’s ActiveRecord ORM conceals from you. Because I’m unsure of the nature of the NDA in my employment contract, I won’t discuss the actual content of the data, but suffice it to say that it’s much more mathematical in nature than anything I’ve worked with before.
I never would have called myself a “math person” before, but programming is essentially algebra, and computer science, being the science of computation, is largely mathematical. So, given my choice of career, I’ve been plodding through Barbara Oakley’s A Mind For Numbers. Oakley’s book isn’t a high-level overview of math and science fundamentals, but rather a guide to developing the cognitive skills that help in learning said fundamentals, and beyond.
Already, much of what she writes resonates with my experiences learning STEM-adjacent skills, both positive and negative. For instance, I’ve felt considerable frustration when “stuck” as I focused intensely on solving a problem or learning a new concept. My cognition was experiencing the “Einstellung effect”, rehearsing an erroneous pattern in the “focused mode”, when I needed to engage the “diffuse mode” by walking away and allowing my brain to think on something else, preferably something less rigorous. Sometimes the path to understanding means actually getting off the path.
Fortunately for me, walking is a part of the company culture at Everactive. That time away from the desk and the screen has probably helped me on more than one occasion.
About 10-11 years ago, I really enjoyed reading Donald Miller, and was somewhat captivated by the whole “emerging church” movement. Whether or not it could be properly called a “movement” is up for debate, as are the merits of it. But, it did seem to function as a precursor to the new trend of “ex-vangelicals”, “deconstruction”, and even “de-conversion”.
I have a few thoughts about their similarities and differences; for instance, they both were quite online, and both mirrored the shift from blogs/forums to centralized social networks. I feel like this is worth exploring at some point, and probably deserves its own post.
But another subtle shift I noticed was in the movements’ attitude towards politics. A common critique of evangelicalism was that it was too political. Memories of the Left Behind books, the Bush administration, and the religious right loomed large in everyone’s mind. But now, the critique made by more “progressive” Christians is that many of their more conservative or moderate counterparts are not political enough.
My account of things may be somewhat reductive, but it’s a thread I feel is worth pulling on. I have my own thoughts about how Christians should approach political involvement/activism, but those are for another post. More than anything, I’m interested in the shift in attitude, and how it relates to the shift in online engagement.
I’m not totally sure what my thoughts are, but hopefully the foregoing notes will serve as a big fat TODO on this blog’s homepage.
Aside from A Mind For Numbers, I’ve been enjoying Steven Erickson’s The Gardens of the Moon, the first book in his series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen.
Jen and I purchased tickets for a trip to the UK(!) at the end of May, so we’ve been watching videos of Rick Steves travel around the island, as well as documentaries about ancient Britain.
Pyroclasts by SUNN O))) was on heavy rotation at work this week, and I finally brought myself to order the vinyl so I can subject Jen to ceaseless droning guitar sounds.