Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaeleen Doucleff: Book Notes

Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaeleen Doucleff: Book Notes

Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans
by Michaeleen Doucleff

Many of the things we take to be the “right” way to raise kids (at least in western civilization) are in fact contrary to how humans have been raising kids through our history. Examples of this include toys, worrying about “self-esteem”, and praising kids a lot.

In Hunt, Gather, Parent, Michaeleen Doucleff starts by showing that many of these ideas in fact originate from the times and needs of the industrial revolution, and are not particularly compatible with human nature. Instead, she seeks to understand how parenting had been in earlier times.

Towards this end, she time with three communities that practice parenting as their ancestors had for many generations: Maya, Innuit, Hadzabe. But these are not communities untouched by the modern world - they all have smart phones, and only the Hadzabe are still hunter-gatherers. Where appropriate, she links to modern scientific studies to underscore the efficacy of what she learns.

In the U.S., we feel this enormous responsibility to “optimize” our children. That often means filling their days with nonstop activities or entertainment. I sure felt this way with Rosy (sometimes I still do). This feeling places a heavy burden on our shoulders and fills our minds with an omnipresent anxiety (e.g., “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do with Rosy for the entire Saturday?”). But the feeling also supercharges our parenting — both the macro and micro. Our knee-jerk reaction is maximal interference.

But that parenting style is not the norm; quite the opposite. The picture the author presents instead is compelling - one that focuses on including the children in the family’s lives, rather than in centering the parents’ lives around the child.

This approach has several other advantages. First, it gives parents a break. Instead of having to schedule, pay for, and participate in endless child- centered activities, parents can lead their normal lives— working or relaxing— while kids follow along, learning as they go. Rather than scheduling your life around your child, you can simply put your child into your schedule. Moreover, humans likely evolved for children to learn by shadowing adults; it’s the way they’ve been learning for at least two hundred thousand years (as we’ll see in the next chapter). So for many kids, learning this way is easier and less stressful than learning through child- centered activities. And it generates less conflict and resistance.

I’m a believer. Let’s dive in to the takeaway parenting tips from the book.

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Introduction to Compute Hardware for Robotics for High School Students

In the summer of 2023, I was invited to give a talk to the students in SuperTech FT, the STEM education non-profit, about compute hardware for robotics and autonomous vehicles. Here’s a recording of that talk:

I discussed the evolution of both software and hardware for robotics and autonomous vehicles, the different paradigms of CPU vs GPU programming, where robots have been successful and where they’re headed, and the evolution of programming paradigms and how AI fits in.

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Project Adelie - Modern Software for Modern Industry

Two weeks ago, the team at Ecogate unveiled the 2023 greenBOX NXT, the new state of the art for control of industrial dust, mist, and fume collection systems.

2023 greenBOX NXT from Ecogate

Boasting powerful industrial hardware and a modern software architecture, this unit can effortlessly handle industrial ventilation systems throughout an entire factory. With improved measurements of ventilation values, pressures, air velocities, and air volume are measured and regulated.

This week, we shared more about the software architecture for the new controller, which I started building back in 2020. I’m particularly proud of how this turned out.

We started with a goal to build nothing less than the greatest industrial dust collection controller the world has ever seen, and to build it with a software stack that the most successful tech companies in the world would be proud of. In this we have succeeded.

Many of the guiding principles come from Google’s Sate of DevOps Report, which systematically analyzes and quantifies software development best practices. I wrote about some of those findings back in 2020.

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Life, Death, and Motorcycles

Life, Death, and Motorcycles

A cacophony of sounds. Quick images, hard to decypher. What is that? Forest. Jungle. Narrow roads. An old woman smiles.

Something is wrong. I was somewhere, doing something. I was excited about it. Why can’t I put it all together?

Suddenly I snap to, deep breath in.

An old man squats in front of me, looking me in the eyes. He’s worried. I am sitting on the side of a narrow road, deep in a jungle somewhere. There is only the man. No other people, no buildings.

“Where am I?” I ask. “What happened?”

“You had an accident,” he says, in a tone that says that he’s told me this already.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I can’t remember.”

“I know,” he says, and he does. He explains it again: I am in Indonesia. I was riding my motorcycle. I had an accident.

Bali, back when the rubber side was down.
Bali, back when the rubber side was down.

I look around. My motorcycle stands at the side of the road, on its kickstand. No other vehicles are around.

The man is the owner of Warung Bucu, just down the road. He asks me if I can walk. I can, it turns out, and we walk to the Warung. He feeds me nasi goreng and tells me what had happened.

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Advice for Computer Science College Students: an Interview

A few weeks ago my esteemed former colleague, Dr. Alberto Cruz of the California State University, Bakersfield, invited me for an interview with him and his college students about life as a software engineer and advice for Computer Science students who want to become one.

We talked about what to do in college to stand out from the crowd when applying for your first job, internships, projects, interview prep & tips, programming languages, tools of the trade, and what life is like as a software engineer.

Here’s the interview:

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