Pi-Con, Math, Gender, Glaubama

Pi-Con: This weekend I’ll be at Pi-Con, a convention in West Springfield, MA.  It’s run by some old friends of mine, and will feature Cory Doctorow.  I’ve never actually met Mr. Doctorow in person, so it should be fun.  In my mind’s eye, he still wears a red cape and goggles everywhere he goes.  I hope that’s okay with him.  Anyway, feel free to stop by!  You don’t need to pre-register or anything.

I’ll be spending most of my time there on panels.  It still baffles me that sometimes I’m put on panels to talk about serious business.  A convention once saw, for example, that I had worked at NASA, and put me on a panel about the future of space exploration.  I felt a little out-of-place, given that my main NASA achievement was that I once lassoed a robot with cat-6 cable and had it pull me around the hallways charioteer-style.  So I sit, surrounded by Ph. Ds, and look thoughtful while drawing stick figures on convention stationery.

Project Euler: As is my habit lately when I travel, I’ll probably be working on Project Euler.  For those unfamiliar, Project Euler is a site with a lot of math-oriented programming problems that you can solve in any language.  They start out easy (First problem: Find the sum of all the multiples of 3 or 5 below 1000.)  Then they get harder rather quickly.  I think it’s a great way to learn a language; I started picking up Python last year by doing the first couple dozen Project Euler problems in it.  Many of the problems lend themselves to clever recursive solutions, and as such I imagine it’d be a great way to learn Lisp.

Book recommendation: Self-Made Man, by Norah Vincent.  I inhaled this book in practically one sitting, as did my cousin and several other friends.  In it, the author passes as a man for a year to try to understand the male world, taking notes the whole way.  It’s full of fascinating little stories and avoids getting too preachy — just shows over and over again the surprising ways in which gender influences basic social stuff.  Thanks to creature of #xkcd for first sending me a copy.

Notice: Whoever’s been sending me periodic text messages, formatted like official VP announcements, telling me that Obama has selected Summer Glau as his running mate, please stop.  You get my hopes up every time.

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