Tales from the jar side: Steph missed free throws, NFJS in Northern Virginia, and Funny tweets
Me: "My memory is so bad now." You: "How bad is it?" Me: "How bad is what?"
Welcome, fellow jarheads, to Tales from the jar side, the Kousen IT newsletter, for the week of April 17 - April 24, 2022. This week I taught the third week of my Spring and Spring Boot in 3 Weeks course and my Kotlin Fundamentals course on the O’Reilly Learning Platform, my Latest Features in Java course as an NFJS Virtual Workshop and gave several talks at the NFJS event in Reston, VA.
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Steph Curry Did WHAT??
Sorry this issue is coming out rather late in the day. Steph Curry missed four (!!) free throws during the Golden State Warriors playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets this afternoon, which I’m pretty sure is one of the signs of the apocalypse. If you see a hail of frogs in your area, be ready to tweet about it. Hey, this is social media, so pics or it didn’t happen.
For the record, Steph has missed 323 free throws in his entire 13-year career. He missed only 23 this season, giving him a 92.3% free throw percentage. He played in 64 games during the regular season, so that’s roughly one miss every three games. Needless to say, he has never, ever, ever missed four in one game before. I’m still reeling from it; thus the late newsletter.
Okay, maybe that’s not the only reason. I may have to dig a little deeper.
Northern Virginia Software Symposium
I’ve never said anything about it, but I find the “software symposium” names attached to the regular No Fluff, Just Stuff conferences incredibly pretentious, though more “laugh in wry amusement” than “frown and roll my eyes”. I understand it’s just marketing, but come on, does anybody take those titles seriously? This weekend’s event was held in Reston, VA. Among the speakers, we just call it “the Reston show,” as opposed to “the St. Louis show” which I attended a couple weeks ago, or “the Des Moines show” or “the Chicago show”. If you look at the NFJS web site, you’ll see the formal names are the Northern Virginia, Gateway, Central Iowa, and Great Lakes Software Symposia. Pardon me, but do they also serve grey poupon?
For this show, I decided to travel by train. I booked the high-speed (relatively speaking — any European or Asian readers of this newsletter would laugh) Amtrak train and even upgraded to first class. That was a bit of a departure for me. When I take a train it’s usually the Northeast Regional, which I then upgrade to business class. That’s not as fast as the Acela and makes more stops, but it’s always better to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, and the cost of business class on the regular train is still less than a regular ticket on Acela.
The entire Acela train is business class, and it’s always mobbed, so the only way to get special treatment is to spring for first class. That’s another jump in price, but they treat you nicely and they feed you. Incidentally, I’m still trying to decide how much of that cost to pass along to the NFJS organizers, who would have a bird if I charged the whole thing when far less expensive options were available.
The Acela from New Haven to Washington, DC takes about five hours, passing through (among others) New York, Newark NJ, Philadelphia, Wilmington DE, Baltimore MD, and BWI airport before arriving at Union Station in downtown DC. That too is a bit awkward, because the Sheraton hosting the conference is close to IAD airport and that’s nowhere near the train station. Arriving as I did during rush hour on Friday, I wound up paying for surge pricing on a Lyft and being jostled about so much in the backseat that I was close to getting carsick on the way.
The conference itself went fine, if you ignore the fact that the next morning when I plugged my laptop into the projector ten minutes before my first talk, the resolution was messed up and the display setting were suddenly unavailable. I therefore did what you know you have to do in those situations: Reboot.
Somewhat related joke of questionable taste:
If I’m ever in a hospital on a respirator, pull the plug.
Then plug me back in. See if that works.
What I didn’t realize is that Apple was simply dying to install some upgrades on my operating system and was eagerly awaiting the first reboot to do it. The result is that for ten minutes of my presentation, all the students could see what a progress bar indicating that updates were being installed and we should wait until they were done.
As I often joke to my wife in such situations, in the hands of a lesser presenter, that might have been a problem. As it was, I talked about potential reasons why Java adopted functional programming while we waited for the machine to come back to life. It eventually did, and to prove they were awesome attendees, nobody left in the meantime.
Is that why the newsletter is late? Maybe, maybe not. Here is my favorite cartoon about correlation vs causation, from XKCD:
No, I can’t blame the projector or the reboot. I blame the hotel. The night before I tried to hook my laptop up to the TV using an HDMI cable, which not only didn’t work, something in that process led to my difficulties with the projector the next morning. Difficulties which were overcome 15 minutes into my first talk, though, so it’s going to be hard to sue for damages.
The rest of the talks went well, though I must admit giving five talks in one day plus the Pretend To Be An Expert Panel makes for a long, tiring day. Still, if it was easy, anyone could do it.
This morning, after the conference, I ordered a Lyft to get back to Union Station for my trip home. The app said my driver was three minutes away, where he stubbornly persisted in remaining for almost 15 minutes. I tried contacting him, but no luck. I cancelled him and ordered an Uber instead, and darn if a driver didn’t show up driving a Tesla Model 3. It turned out the driver had retired from his regular job two years ago and eventually got bored being at home, so decided to drive an Uber a couple days a week.
Good for him, I guess. I can understand wanting to see people occasionally, and I’m sure everybody he picks up is happy to see a Tesla, but I don’t think I’d be willing to endure Washington DC traffic on a regular basis to do it.
I made it to the train on time, with big plans to use that five-hour ride productively. What I’d forgotten, or at least underestimated, was how much the Acela bounces around as it’s traveling at “high” speeds. For whatever reason, I was unable to focus enough to write my newsletter, or — far more importantly — prepare for my big week-long class starting tomorrow. Sigh.
So is that why the newsletter is late?
Not necessarily. I had to drive home from New Haven, and that’s about an hour away. Normally I pick up the train from New London, which is only about a 35 minute drive, but the Acela doesn’t stop there. That meant I had to go all the way to New Haven to spend all those extra dollars for the expensive train trip. Still, I was home by around 4:30pm, which meant the newsletter could have gone out at around the regular time if I hadn’t gotten wrapped up in watching Steph Curry miss all those free throws.
(Remember that? In comedy, that’s called a callback. It feels like a shared experience to the audience, which is supposed to put you in a better mood. Your mileage may vary.)
Does that mean this late newsletter is all Steph’s fault?
No, I can’t do that. See the previous correlation/causation cartoon.
By the way, one of my favorite websites for correlation/causation charts is called Spurious Correlations, which collects such things. The author even has a book full of them. Here’s an example:
Pretty good, right? Hard to believe that’s a coincidence.
My favorite is a little dated, but is still great:
That one is easy to believe, so there may be a reason for it.
No, I can’t blame Steph. I got home after travelling all that way, and I thought I’d watch the second half of the Warriors game, have some dinner, and get to work. Then Steph missed all those free throws, which had the unfortunate side effect of reminding me he’s getting older, which also means I’m getting older (“Getting?” you say, in exasperation, “Getting??”), which had two side effects:
If I don’t send a newsletter today, some people are going to worry I’m (back in) the hospital again, and
After dinner, I fell asleep on the couch. Sigh.
Yeah, that probably had something to do with it.
Forgive the blue language, but this cracked me up:
Dap a Baby
In a NBA playoff game Devin Booker dapped a baby:
Productive Use Of Their Time
I spent four years at MIT, and I can vouch for the fact that this is totally consistent with what I saw there. I just sad I didn’t think of it — half the people I knew there would have jumped at the chance to do that experiment.
Those darn kids
Explains a lot.
I’m going to need you to come in on Saturday…
Finally, this just needs an Office Space reference:
Sadly, Monday is nearly here now. I blame Amtrak. Or the Sheraton in Reston, VA. Or even the Greatest Free Throws Shooter Of All Time, Stephen Curry. How could he miss all those free throws??? I’m not sure I’m ever getting over that.
Week 3 of Spring in 3 Weeks, on the O’Reilly Learning Platform
Kotlin Fundamentals, on the O’Reilly Learning Platform
Latest Features in Java, an NFJS Virtual Workshop
Spoke at the Northern Virginia Software Symposium (NFJS)
Private class on Java and Spring for Ruby on Rails developers.