TS IMed me the other day. That’s usually how we talk now. We speak infrequently, but I still consider her–and the rest of our cadre from undergrad–my best friend. I think of her most days, in subtle passing ways and in quiet moments when memories float to the surface of my consciousness. I’ll feel bad for the times I let her down–emotionally reliving them when I don’t want to do so. I take comfort in good things that happened. I hope that there will be more.
I always hope that there will be more.
Lately, TS and I have mostly been talking about Signal Boost. She’ll IM me to comment on what I wrote or share some personal insight about her and FLOSS. The other day, she wanted to tell me I summed up her usage of software fairly accurately. She went on to tell me about her usage of statistical packages. I learned that the major proprietary one is better for when you’re dealing with millions of trials and humongous sets of data. When experiments are too big, the major proprietary package is better. There are some things you can do in it that you can’t do in R, the FLOSS she uses, but there are also things you can do in R that you can’t do in the other program. Either way, sometimes running experiments takes days. The proprietary package, she told me, is what you have to use in certain projects. With some experiments, when you get your procedure approved, you have to go through a review process. For statistics, the forms include the code you will use with the proprietary package for your particular experiment. She thinks this is because, in theory, someone could change how R works, but they cannot change how the proprietary package works.
As we talk, I ask the questions that I feel like I’m supposed to. I ask the questions you ask in class when someone is teaching you. I’m reminded of when I learned to play baseball and kept trying to find some academic understanding that would help me hit the ball. I felt a sort of helplessness when I realized I didn’t know what to say to my best friend.
I often find that when I examine my personal relationships, usually from outside of interactions, I can’t remember what we do or talk about. TS and I used to talk for hours–usually while other things happened. We’d talk about our days, or things that had happened. I’m not sure what else. Our friends. We gossiped. I wonder if without our shared experience of living together, or in the same place, we don’t have anything to talk about. I ask her questions about grad school, but now that’s her life so it doesn’t seem to be anything special to her. Stories come out as other things happen, little bits and pieces of how her PPL (Post Pitt Life) actually is–data she gives me with which I can try and find truths the same way she does with her statistical data.
When we talk, we default back to open source. She asks me about the project. I tell her. I share something about transparency or how I’m not sure if I should post something I’m writing. It’s not “finished” I think to myself. It’s personal. It’s more like my notes and less like a part of some big work, but I guess that’s what this blog is about–it’s a place for me to put everything and out of it draw a cohesive narrative. Or donations/work. Okay, not really. About the donations. I’ll gladly take work.
I recognize that people usually have a center point of their relationship, and individuals have a center point of their lives. When I was talking to my brother’s (now ex) girlfriend, we’d default to talking about him, since he was the center point of our relationship. She, however, defaulted to running and physical therapy–the center point of her life. That is to say, we had this shared experience of my brother, and she had this other thing that she used to define her life. I realize that for more people, FLOSX is our conversational default.
During undergrad, I always spent time with my cadre. Constantly. For years. We always talked, but I no longer remember what about. Somehow, for each of them, our relationships have become centered around FLOSX. Our default is long, rambling conversations where we essentially agree with one another or share knowledge. I learn things, and I ask questions, but I don’t know if we continue to do this because for us it’s what’s important, or because we’re losing what else is there.