JoeK: My Own Interests

For Enjoyment and Profit

My professional work has centered around using computers to create, edit, organize, and publish large amounts of information, "taming information systems" as I sometimes call it. My training as a librarian and experience working in libraries keeps me interested in the over-all value and effectiveness of the systems I work on, a perspective many programmers seem to lack.

My devotion to programming began in 1981 when my father brought home an Apple II computer and instructed my brother and me, "Learn to use it. It will earn your living some day." I was immediately enthralled by this newly-found rational world and was soon teaching computer literacy for the local adult education program and writing sorting and sifting algorithms for our high school football team's scouting reports. I've been programming for 23 years.

I've written informal summaries of my professional experience and the technologies with which I prefer to work.

For Enjoyment

Poetry is the art form that most directly touches my soul. John Keats is my favorite, and I'm particularly fond of "The Eve of St. Agnes," "To Autumn," and "La Belle Dame sans Merci." I also enjoy Milton, Spenser, and Shakespeare's Sonnets. I have an odd attachment to Wallace Stevens that I still don't quite understand, and I keep returning to his work and trying to fathom why I like so much of it. Timothy Steele is by far my favorite contemporary poet -- and I always wish that his poetry seemed to rest more comfortably with its own brilliance. Steele, by the way, has the distinction of being one of the only two people on my list of "people I have not met but would very much like to." (The other is Yukihiro Matsumoto or "Matz", the creator of the Ruby programming language.)

I studied mathematics at Indiana University and still love the subject. Teaching mathematics is a particular interest, and math lessons with my children are a bright spot in every day. "Truth is Beauty..."

While in high school, reading "Philosophy: Who Needs It?", Ayn Rand's address to a graduating class at West Point, convinced me of the importance of philosophy. I've been paying attention ever since. Ideas matter.

Sometime before I was in school, history seems to have been banished from the American K12 curriculum in favor of a mish-mash of "social studies." After a few years of independence, it became obvious to me that a knowledge of history is essential to understanding the world around me, and I had to start educating myself. I've enjoyed the process very much and have become particularly interested in 19th century railroad history.

Of the sciences, I most enjoy reading about geology and botany, though I have only a superficial knowledge of each. The summer before my freshman year at Indiana University I studied 6 credit hours of geology at the IU Geologic Field Station in Montana. It was a fascinating introduction, but that was the limit of my formal training on the subject.

To rest my mind and exercise my body, I enjoy walking, cycling, gardening, making bread, and playing with my children.

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