Sunday, August 10, 2008

State of the Sabbatical

Yesterday marked the end of the first month of my sabbatical. I used the opportunity to sit back and take stock of how far I have progressed towards achieving my goals. For the record I started on my sabbatical aiming to achieve the following before November:
  1. Work through Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP), exercises and all
  2. Learn to play Muzio Clementi's Sonatina in C Major (Opus 36 No. 1) well enough to give a recital
  3. Read one (non fiction) book every fortnight
Here follows then a quick summary of the state of the sabbatical.

At the time of writing this I have completed the first of five chapters of SICP and started on the second. I am presently working on the second of three movements of the Sonatina. I finished reading 'The Audacity of Hope' and am looking for another book.

Working through SICP is proving to be an eye opener. The exercises look deceptively simple until you try to work them out. I was *very* frustrated in the beginning but am learning relax and re-focus. Some of the ideas took a while to wrap my mind around due to various factors. I had never worked in Scheme before and found it difficult to write programs without explicit looping constructs and variable assignment. For this reason the Chapter 1 exercises dealing with converting recursive procedures to iterative and vice-versa troubled me for several days. I was shocked to notice how long it took me to understand and digest fundamental concepts like lambda. Easy work in enterprise software for 8 plus years seems to have damaged most of my gray cells :(

The Sonatina is proving tough to crack. The first movement was relatively simple. But then came the second movement with its triplets, trills and one-sixteenth notes. It quickly deprived me of the warm glow of working through the first. So far I have hammed my way through five lines. The last line is adamantly refusing to submit.

'The Audacity of Hope' is a very engrossing read. It is rare to see a politician writing for himself without relying on ghost writers. It was evident after reading the book that Senator Obama can not only write for himself but matches his words with sharp thought and keen observations.

That is all in this week's report. More soon.

1 comment:

Abey said...

Great work!
I guess it is one of the advantages of surrounding yourself with better people :)
Keep going.