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Goodreads sent a note congratulating me for reading three books in 2014, which didn’t seem quite right even though it has been a very busy year! It turns out that I’d not marked a “date read” for many of the books, bringing the tally to 15, including some read-alouds with the kids.

My top three books for 2014 are:

  • Poetry: Beowulf
  • Fiction: Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger
  • Non-fiction: The Supper of the Lamb, by Robert Capon

The Lord of the Rings earns an honorable mention; while it was not a new book for 2014, we really enjoyed listening to the Rob Inglis narration together as a family. Right now we are partway through reading The Yearling aloud, and plan to read N. D. Wilson’s Boys of Blur next.

For fun, I looked up some of my Goodreads stats. The date read vs. date published chart is fascinating. Augustine and Beowulf are my outliers. Some huge gaps to fill in there!

Written by Scott Moonen

December 20, 2014 at 9:38 am

Posted in Books, Personal

Five years

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Five years ago we celebrated Asher’s third birthday at the Outer Banks. Here’s a picture from our visit to Jockey’s Ridge:

Last week we went back to the Outer Banks with some friends from church and recreated the picture:

Written by Scott Moonen

October 22, 2014 at 7:40 am

Posted in Personal

Ranger of the Year

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Congratulations to Asher for being the 2014 Ranger Kids Ranger of the Year at our outpost!

Written by Scott Moonen

May 30, 2014 at 10:39 am

Posted in Personal


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Asher and I raced our derby cars this morning. Here’s a picture of our cars before the race, with Asher’s in the foreground. He did a great job on his car!

Asher named his car “Fear, Fire, Foe!” Mine was “Supplanter.”

Asher won fifth place for design among Ranger Kids, and I won third place for speed in the open competition. There were some pretty creative and pretty fast cars there!

Written by Scott Moonen

March 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Personal


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We’ve been listening to The Lord of the Rings audiobook as a family. Yesterday we happened upon this great quote:

Merry and Pippin heard, clear in the cold air, the neighing of war-horses, and the sudden singing of many men. The Sun’s limb was lifted, an arc of fire, above the margin of the world. Then with a great cry the Riders charged from the East; the red light gleamed on mail and spear.

Song and warfare go hand in hand. Worship is warfare.

It interests me that Tolkien has the hobbits refer to the sun as feminine:

‘Hullo!’ said Merry. ‘The Sun must have run into a cloud while we’ve been under these trees, and now she has run out again; or else she has climbed high enough to look down through some opening. It isn’t far—let’s go and investigate!’

This rainy Sunday afternoon we drew our impressions of Treebeard. Here’s what we came up with:





Written by Scott Moonen

March 16, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Personal, Quotations


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I was amused to find this in my fortune cookie last night.

For most of the last thirteen years, I have worked on IBM’s z/OS Communications Server mainframe networking product. Over the last two years I have still reported to Comm Server management but have been on loan to other IBM product areas as part of helping to lend our networking, security and high-availability expertise. I’ve only had three managers in the last thirteen years, which I think is fairly unusual.

But now I’m making the move to the IBM PureApplication System organization, where I have been working for the past year. You can think of it as “cloud in a box” (although this is both a little inapt and also oversimplified).

I’ll miss working with all of the wonderful folks in Comm Server. But I’m looking forward to wrestling with a new challenge.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 14, 2013 at 10:41 am

Posted in Personal


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While growing up there were a few issues of technical magazines that really captured my imagination. In the basement of the music store where I took flute lessons, there were some old Byte magazines. I remember being captivated by an article about OS/2 and Taligent, asking permission to take the issue home with me. Byte also sparked my interest in NeXT. For better or worse, this had the ultimate result that I was inspired to huddle over my PC for months to write a graphical file manager for the QNX platform. I’m not sure that anyone ever used it, but it’s still available for download.

Often we would go to the Hershey public library’s annual library sale. Several times I scooped up batches of Scientific American issues. The March 1981 issue occupied hours upon hours of my time. In this issue, Douglas Hofstadter’s “Metamagical Themas” column addressed the Rubik’s cube, and I was hooked.

Hofstadter’s article was a brisk introduction to cubology. But instead of giving a quick how-to on solving the cube, he described the underlying concepts and patterns for manipulating the cube. No solutions: only a framework for building a solution piece by piece. But this only whetted my appetite to struggle on to understand what he had to say about group theory. Hofstadter did teach me how to disassemble and reassemble the cube, which was a great help as I stumbled along. (This is not only less destructive than peeling stickers, but is actually much easier.)

Hofstadter introduced a notation for operations on the cube. Each face had a letter: F, B, L, R, U and D for front, back, left, right, up and down. Any operation on the cube could be expressed in these terms, with exponents to indicate repeated turns of the same face (positive exponents for clockwise turns, prime symbol indicating a counter-clockwise turn). So, for example, to go from Start to a simple cross pattern on each face, you could execute F²B²L²R²U²D². Another pretty pattern, which Hofstadter calls “Dots,” can be reached from Start with BF’UD’LR’BF’.

My first excited discovery was a move that swapped two pairs of edge pieces: F²U²F²U²F²U², alternately (F²U²)³. From this one operation I was eventually able to derive all of the operations I needed to solve the cube.

These are not the shortest operators by a long shot, but these are the ones I came up with. I use Hofstadter’s notation for the cubes that are affected by each operator. These rather awkwardly tend to focus on solving the bottom face; I may take the time eventually to rewrite them in terms of the upper face. And thus we come to my motive in writing this post: I can never find my “cheat sheet” when I want it.

  • Edge operators

    • Double edge pair swappers

      • (dr,dl)(df,db) — L’RDF²D²F²D²F²DR’L
      • (dr,dl)(df,db) — F²D²F²D²F²D’F²D²F²D²F²D
      • (fr,fl)(dr,dl) — F²D²F²D²F²D²
      • (fr,fl)(br,bl) — F²D²F²D²F²B²D²B²D²B²
    • Double edge flippers

      • (dl)+(dr)+
    • Three-cycles of edges

      • (dl,df,dr) — L’DLF²D²F²D²F²D²L’D’LF²D²F²D²F²D²
      • (df,dl,db) — F²B²DR’LF²RL’U²D’F²B²
  • Corner operators

    • Double corner pair swappers

      • (dlf,drb)(drf,dlb) — L’RDF²D²F²D²F²DR’LD²
      • (dlf,drb)(drf,dlb) — F²D²F²D²F²D’F²D²F²D²F²D’
      • (dlf,drb)(drf,dlb) — L²R²D²L²R²U²DL²R²D²L²R²U²D
    • Meson makers (quarkscrews)

      • (drf)+(dlb)
    • Three-cycles of corners

      • (dlf,drb,drf)+- (introduces a quark)
      • (dlf,drb,drf) —

Hofstadter’s article inspired me to put in the effort to read his fascinating book Goedel, Escher and Bach. It is not an exaggeration, as I do here, to describe it as a romp through a variety of fields. Perhaps second only to my high-school programming mentor, I owe Hofstadter my interests in math and computer science.

If you’re interested in Hofstadter’s article on the cube, you can find it online in this anthology: Metamagical Themas.

Written by Scott Moonen

August 18, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Posted in Personal