An appetite for programming

This morning I attended the grand opening of the new RLab at the Brooklyn Navy Yards. Very exciting!!

I had to leave a bit early to race back to Manhattan for a meeting. The timing was so tight that I didn’t have a chance to grab lunch. Which is how I found myself stuck in a meeting with no snackage in sight, and a growing feeling of hypoglycemia.

To take my mind off my predicament, I opened up my laptop and started working on a program I’ve been developing. Hopefully everybody else at the meeting assumed I was taking notes. :-)

Interestingly, I found that in my state of low blood sugar, it was very easy to program some things, but nearly impossible to program other things. Anything that was straight up coding logic was easy. But anything that involved building any sort of non-trivial data structure was hopeless.

Now I am wondering how this translates into the different ways we use our mind while engaged in any procedural task. Clearly the part of my mind that solves logic puzzles was unaffected by my brain’s feeling of distress. But for any task requiring real decisions to be made, my hunger-distressed brain becomes inoperable.

The experience reminds me of how it feels when I improvise on the piano. Certain tasks, such as spinning out a melody or a chord progression, are right at my fingers tips — my hands pretty much just play on their own. But other tasks, like a meaningful set of shifts in musical tone, require conscious attention and active decision making.

I guess the lesson here is to remember to avoid computer programming and playing in jazz bands before lunch.

One Response to “An appetite for programming”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    I couldn’t find a link to “RLab” outside of the press release.

    Please tell us they restored the overhead crane to operating condition. That could enable all sorts of great spatial experiments!

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