The Noble Cat

Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly. ”

~ Arnold Edinborough

A quiet room. Dust motes playing a slow game of tag in a ray of golden light.

An old tome. Opened to the middle.

Three cats, filling the room with the sweet rumble of contented purring.

And me, bent, brown eyes scanning left to right and back, left to right and back, down the crème white page.

The scene I described above is my ideal state because I absolutely love to learn. Acquiring new knowledge goes far beyond the practical for me. Yes, I learn to apply my knowledge to novel situations. Yes I learn to help solve relevant problems.

But I also learn just to know. I learn because I am deeply curious at a fundamental level.

In the end, I think that explains my participation in Codeup.

I was awake last night at 1:00am- the witching hour. What was I doing? Learning.

I was watching a tutorial on using Git from the command line on YouTube. I only have today and tomorrow left in my schedule to study git, so I am spending extra time on it. (You can find the schedule I am referring to in my post Tick. Tock. Tyranny.)

Technology evolves at the speed of light. Staying current requires one to constantly learn. This is what appeals to me the most about computer programming.

Today I would like to hear from you. What are you curious about? At the start of the New Year, did you set out to learn some new skill or master some new craft?

I would like to start a conversation centered on curiosity and learning. Share what you are learning about in this moment or something you hope to learn more about in the future.

Please share in the comment section or join the conversation on twitter. My handle is @SounJa. Use the #TheNobleCat.

The absolute best thing about blogging is the opportunity to learn from each other.



8 thoughts on “The Noble Cat

  1. Website development is my current learning curve to overcome, then I might bump into some basic coding. And Illustrator, I really want to get my hands dirty with that!


  2. Awesome! Have you learned HTML and CSS yet?


  3. I am learning German. I also picked up my guitar again to learn..


  4. Where do I even start? I’m still working on my favorite research projects. I’d like to learn maintenance and repair of my mountain bike — a friend and I are going to work on our bikes together. My wife and I are going to Greece to celebrate her milestone birthday, and I’d like to learn enough Greek to get around. There’s much more. When it comes to knowledge, I’m greedy. I want it all! As you can imagine, my problem is focus. I admire your boot camp effort.

    Next, a question: as a teacher, how do you deal with students who are not curious by nature? I never figured that one out.


    • All students are curious by nature. If you look at babies and small children, they are overflowing with curiosity. As we get older, we absorb negative messages from society and our curiosity goes underground. It becomes dormant. A teacher’s job, my job is to remind students of their curious natures. My job is to wake up curiosity. It is always there. One just has to go hunting for it.
      Also, one has to accept that a student might never be curious about what we want them to be curious about. But as long as they discover a passion of their own with my encouragement, that is still a win for me- even if they never care deeply about say the quadratic formula.

      What research projects are you working on?


      • sigh. Everyone is curious, it’s true. I’m not sure the examples I have in mind result from negative messages, but I wouldn’t rule it out. Curiosity is surely always there, and I tried hard to wake up my students’ curiosity, but it’s hard, and I failed at least as often as I succeeded. I don’t have to tell another math teacher how hard it can be. I’ll post one of my war stories in the next day or so.

        As to my research:

        I spent the morning with an engineering professor and a grad student on a paper we’re writing on water quality. The goal is to build a system that combines a mathematical model of a reservoir with data from satellites in order to form a system for estimating the temperature in the reservoir in 3 dimensions and time. We’re starting with a reservoir in Indiana, where my colleague in engineering has worked before, as a demonstration project.

        For my own stuff, I’m working on a system for estimating the state of a patch of ocean near the shoreline, maybe 250m in the alongshore direction, extending maybe 250m offshore. What I really want to do is use the comparison of model results to observations to determine the most important physical factors in the formation of rip currents.

        I’m also thinking of writing a book on “data assimilation,” i.e., techniques for using combinations of model output with data to form the best picture of a system in nature. The term “data assimilation” comes from the numerical weather prediction community. If you’re interested, you can find the visuals from an expository talk I gave at a summer workshop in 2012 at

        I’m enjoying your blog and wish you great success with boot camp. Oddly enough, the system I work on doesn’t have git, I looked. I’ve always used RCS for version control. That was the only thing that kept my collaborators and me from murdering one another in the course of a joint project 20 years ago.


  5. Teaching adolescents, I definitely fail to inspire more than I succeed. We have that dubious honor in common. Still each little victory with a student is significant. That is one life altered for the better and who knows where that might lead.

    Your research is fascinating. But why the emphasis on rip currents?

    I look forward to your war stories:)


  6. rip currents …
    I guess I wanted to say something briefly that might be the easiest connection of my nearshore stuff to the real world. In oceanographer-speak, “nearshore” refers to the ocean from the beach to the surf line, as opposed to “coastal,” which is roughly from the surf line to the shelf break. I was actually a little ashamed to say that it all started with a technical question I had a few years ago while working with a colleague on a nearshore problem, and our interest in _that_ started with a technical question about stability of computational methods. I thought my technical question, which didn’t much interest my colleague, might be answered by a probabilistic data assimilation method I’d been working on. But knotty technical questions are always there for a reason, and the nearshore ocean turns out to be a very interesting place, from just about any angle. So I guess I’m looking at using unconventional data assimilation methods to try to figure out why the nearshore ocean does what it does, for example, rip currents.


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