Kathy Sierra and the Serendipity Factor

I try and avoid the “me-too” factor that has dominated the land of blogs for most of the time I have been involved in it. Simply aping one persons comments with a slight variation, or personal interpretation doesn’t add much to the initial thrill of finding the original germ of an idea.

Kathy Sierra, someone who has been quoted and analyzed multiple times in this blog, has hit another double to the wall. She talks about the value of serendipity, randomness, in exposing us to new ideas and concepts, ones that we would not have run across in our siloed, standardized lives.

Yesterday was a great example of this for me. Something I read a post on Notebookism that spoke of outsider art or Art Brut. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and spiralled into a 90-minute voyage of discovery into this genre of expression, fueled not by training and ideology, but by a raw, unchecked need to express the world in an artistic way.

I would have never gone down this path unless I had read the Notebookism post, and would have been hard-pressed to find structured explanations (whatever you may think of them) of the topics without Wikipedia.

As I explore myself, and examine the foundations that support my cracked mental structure, I find that I appreciate the random explorations far more than a formal education process. I don’t learn the way that we have been taught.

I prefer to discover.

And when you get right down to the basics of Kathy’s post, that’s what she is saying. People are far more enthusiastic, receptive, and amazed when they discover something for themselves.

It may be an old idea to you. I may not interest you. But when a person gets that gleam in their eye, that rush in their mind, when they get the “WOW!“, then they are committed.

Personally, I am finding that I am having a lot more WOW! moments lately. The combination of therapy, and my medications, has forced me to look at the world that I live in, and the world that I have created, substantially different than I have for the last 15 years.

I am re-discovering the joy and awe of discovery. There is so much out there that gets left behind when your mind is absorbed, consumed, by a single devouring purpose. I am awakening from that period, and finding that my mental indigestion requires the soothing relief of the new and unexpected.

GrabPERF Outage: 05:00 – 11:00 GMT, 30 January 2007

Our colocation facility will be undergoing a power outage tonight/tomorrow morning. I apologize for this, but I’m not the only one it’s affecting, and no one is happy about it.

UPDATE: Power Outage has been re-scheduled. I will post another notice/banner when this date has been passed on to me.

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Is Latin finally a dead language?

Just read a story on the BBC site where the chief Latinist (new word to me) bemoans the death of Latin. [here]

Although I would be the first to admit that the teaching of Latin has little relevance in today’s world, I found my lack of Latin a serious hindrance when I was considering the study of Medieval English History in graduate school.

It was offered as a course in high-school, by correspondence only. I often dreamed that I attended one of those brutal old English boarding schools, if only to receive some semblance of a highly impractical liberal and classical education.

I share Father Reginald Foster’s despair over the loss of Latin to our culture. The foundations of who we are, our political and legal structures, are found in Latin (Roman and Medieval; and yes there is a difference), and in Classical Greek. And those items that the Catholic Church tried to hide or destroy, the cultures of the East, and Islam held on to.

Losing the base languages of our global cultures leaves us with poor translations, interpretations of what was said, filtered through the passage of time.

Mythbusters: Buster’s Replacement?

For those of you who are addicted to the mayhem and destruction of Mythbusters, Buster is a beloved, if unfortunate, member of the cast.

Well, Buster may be out of a job.

Apparently, a guy in Minneapolis managed to prove not one, but two myths in a single 10-12 second period [here]. Namely:

  1. A person can break through a piece of tempered plate glass with a single impact, thereby exiting the building above ground-level
  2. An awning can slow a person’s a 17-storey fall enough to prevent said individual from being killed after exiting the building through a broken window (See #1 above).

Mr. Savage and Mr. Hyneman, give this damn lucky person an award!