teaching machines

Flat Braid

When all you know of trees is that they have bark and leaves, you view the woods as a background to the more interesting foreground activity of a jog, or a campout, or a proposal. But when one knows the trees, it’s hard to not stop every few feet and shake hands with some old friend. “See that extruded bark there? That’s Mr. Hackberry.” “Ah, Basswood’s up to his old tricks again with those multiple trunks.”

When one passes through a cemetery where no loved one is buried, the ping of emotion with the largest magnitude comes when you encounter an awkward last name. But when grandmother is buried there, you are flooded with memories of card games and birdfeeders.

So, too, with shopping. My wife sees only dead things on the store shelves, despite the colorful labels. I’m not much like her. I go to the store and I enjoy it, because I get to encounter shapes. I see algorithms, and I want to recreate them.

The most recent shape that took up residence in my mind was this braid:

Life gets busier as we get older, maybe because the world becomes more familiar and interesting.

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