Dev Diary 2019-08-26

The Year of Lisp continues, one chapter at a time. I thought I’d clarify a bit how I’m going to read these books (and how I generally go about reading so many darn textbooks in the first place).

I’m on chapter 4 of Touretzky’s COMMON LISP:A Gentle Introduction to Symbolic Computation now. I have a half-hour calendar appointment to read a chapter of one technical book a day. Chapters vary in length, but generally the system works. I’m not able to do it every day, but most days a chapter gets read and I get a tiny bit more skill out of it. At this pace, I finish 6-8 tech books a year, all at a gentle and enjoyable pace. Mind, my job often disrupts the reading schedule, so I’ll make it partway through a book (example: Paul Graham’s ANSI Common Lisp, which I had started earlier in the year), and then circumstances require me to read up on something that will be needed for my job within the next week (“Whizbang Tech That Breaks in Minor Revisions, 0.11 Edition”).

Technology information has a half-life, as Abstruse Goose wonderfully points out:

Abstruse Goose Shelf LifeComic

So going for the Lisp books is probably not a bad investment of time, all told. The opportunity cost here is that my beautiful Knuth books are probably going to take the backseat for another year. In a perfect world, my employer would let me spend half of the work day reading in a comfy chair sipping coffee.

On the more leisurely side, I’ve been reading a book about rest of all things. Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang has been a fairly enjoyable read up to this point. The main premise is that we better utilize our subconscious thinking by napping and going on long walks. I can attest to the long walks part, and will know soon enough if the napping hypothesis works as well. If nothing else, I like napping, so not really losing anything by trying.