Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   asymptotically approaching perfect
Wednesday, August 20 2008
Practice makes something asymptotically approaching perfect. Gretchen has been taking weekly guitar lessons for well over a month now and recently I heard her playing a slow version of "House of the Rising Sun," and at this speed her arpeggios were absolutely perfect. Indeed, it was so good that my brain automatically added a swelling string section behind it at various points. The original doesn't have this, of course, but played slowly and error-free, it sounds like it should have orchestral accompaniment.
Gretchen is nevertheless impatient with the rapidity of her progress. But I know from experience that all one has to do is do the same thing over and over and one can become good at anything. I've been extremely good at a few unlikely things, including Tetris, Prince of Persia, and Crystal Quest. Indeed, if Guitar Hero had more of a basis in actual guitar technique, we'd be a nation of guitar virtuosos. So far, though, the only virtuosos video games have given us are school shooters.
Another example of how one can master something through sheer repetition can be found in the speed with which I can do a sequence of cuts and pastes followed by a drag & drop upload to an FTP server. I don't think about these actions much, but recently I allowed an uninvolved part of my brain to sit in as an observer and it was truly astounded by the rapidity of my actions. Similarly, back when I used to do housecall work, clients would stare in mouth-agape wonder at the speed with which I did things on their computers. Things about which they have to deliberate have, for me, all been routinized as reflexes. Bam! There goes that stupid alert window with only one button. Poof! There goes that file I have no further use for. Shizzizzle! That's me unhiding extensions for known file types (one of Microsoft's more infuriating defaults).
Such learning can happen at an extremely low level, down deep in the unthinking parts of our biomass. When I first started working on my greenhouse project a scant two weeks ago, I was sore every night and my hands were covered with blisters. Now I'm no longer sore and the blisters are well on their way to becoming calluses.

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