Update for 9/3/2017

Blog

πŸ€”

I think my long sentences and paragraphs still make up a wall of text that’s hard to read. The contents get lost in all the words. So with this update I’m going to split things up more. The sentences will become paragraphs, and the clauses, for the most part, will become sentences.

If I stick to a set maximum of paragraphs per section (my convention has been four), I should still be able to use the same mental pattern to write. That should constrain my writing enough to keep it manageable.

Sleep

πŸ€”

Still mediocre last week, and I didn’t use my tracking app. But a random web post kicked me in the pants about sleep, so I’ve started tracking. I’m also going to make myself a motivational poster so I don’t forget why I want to sleep.

Work

😊

I finished my big, month-long batch of 16 ebooks Thursday evening. It was going to be 17, but one was canceled, though I had a few preview ebooks thrown in during the month. Thursday evening meant they were on time, so I’m rather proud of myself.

This worked so well I’m planning to process future ebooks in batches. On Friday I organized and typed my procedure. I also created a spreadsheet to estimate the time I’ll need for each step. Setting a deadline for each step was one of the keys to getting it all done on time. It told me when I needed to work faster or later.

This week I’m starting on the complicated ebook that was the reason for last month’s push. When it officially landed on my plate last week, I learned they’d changed the release date. Instead of two weeks to finish it, I have two months. I’m sticking to my original schedule anyway. That way it doesn’t accidentally interfere with other books or projects that get added in that time frame.

Computer

πŸ™„

Sunday I bought the equipment I needed to replace my failing hard drive, but then I put off doing anything with it till Saturday. That evening I spent a slightly harrowing time burning Windows recovery disks. Over and over the file copying failed, and I had to put in another blank disk. But in the end HP pulled through and gave me the three disks I needed.

This week, if I’m not too lazy, I’ll replace the old drive, install Windows on the new one, and copy any files I can from the old to the new. The rest I can download from my online backups.

Project generator

😐

Between working late, scrolling through social media, and watching The Defenders, I actually made more progress on this than I expected. I feel like I’m getting a handle on writing a decent README. But it’s still not ready to post. Maybe this week.

Beliefs report

😐

I made more progress on this one than the project generator. I’m revising the bibliology section to reflect my new organization around types of belief. But I’m starting with my skeptical frustrations, which doesn’t really fit my goal of reassuring my Christian friends. So that’s not ready to post either.

Futurism

😎

Last week’s award for most interesting topic goes to nanotechnology. Famous nanotechnologist Eric Drexler says it will revolutionize manufacturing and transform the material basis of civilization. Looking forward to it!

Honorable mention goes to fundamental physics. In my book it’s not really a futurism topic, but it sufficiently blew my mind to be worth some attention. If you would also like your brain scrambled by knowledge, watch the Origin of Matter and Time playlist from PBS Space Time.

Podcasts

πŸ™‚

If you’re interested in the audio description stuff I talked about last week, I found a podcast called Blind Inspiration. It has a few episodes on audio description. The host co-leads training workshops for it, and through the podcast I found a book I might get to learn how it’s done, The Visual Made Verbal by Joel Snyder. Audio description has tight constraints with a focused purpose, depicting visual elements both concisely and precisely. I think that makes it a good writing exercise.

Posted in Audio description, Beliefs report, Blog, Coding project generator, Futurism, Hardware, Podcasts, Sleep, Updates, Work | 1 Comment

Special eclipse report!

About a week ago I took a bus down to Tennessee to visit my sister and brother and watch the solar eclipse with them. I took my new 360-degree camera (a Ricoh Theta S) to try to film it. Here are some thoughts and observations from the experience, along with a few pictures I took.

I had a mild but annoying unease through the whole trip up to totality because I figured something would go wrong. Fortunately, pretty much nothing did go wrong. We especially didn’t have a storm, unlike the poor people in South Carolina. We did have a bunch of puffy white clouds that any other day would’ve been a welcome sky decoration. As it was, I eyed them suspiciously whenever we were out.

Totality would occur at 1:27pm. We set out at around noon and picked a nice spot, a little park nearby, and we had a picnic of Jimmy John’s in the muggy heat.

12:51pm. Our eclipse watching spot. My 360-degree camera is ready for its moment. #nofilter #eclipse2017

A post shared by Andy Culbertson (@thinkulum) on

The gradually changing light quality and color was one of my favorite parts. It captured my sense of impending unreality. As I mentioned in my post the day before, surreality is pretty much my thing, so I was ready for this.

At around 1:00 our mom called from Texas, where she was watching the partial eclipse. She spotted the crescent shadows on their driveway after we told her about them. I was glad that even though people outside the path of totality missed the most dramatic effects, they could still catch some of them.

Abbie’s friends and their dog, who were also in the park, came by to say hi for a few minutes, and then they returned to their own watching station.

1:03pm. Eclipse crescent shadows. #eclipse2017

A post shared by Andy Culbertson (@thinkulum) on

1:08pm. Baby crickets ready for the show. #eclipse2017

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1:19pm. I don’t know if you can tell, but the shadows were fairly sharp, at least the vertical lines. #eclipse2017

A post shared by Andy Culbertson (@thinkulum) on

At 1:22 I started filming and left the camera running for just over 10 minutes. Despite the camera’s mediocre resolution, the video turned out pretty well, and I’m glad I went to the effort (ordering the camera, returning the first defective one for a new one, bringing the tripod along, worrying). It turned out to be a nice way to relive the experience without needing to fumble with a camera while it was happening.

With totality approaching in mere minutes, I listened to the “Hymn of Dalamud” from the ominous ending scenes of the MMO Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, where one of the planet’s moons is plummeting through the atmosphere. It fit my mood perfectly! Meanwhile Michael was on his Kindle living through the lunar disaster in Neal Stephenson’s Seveneaves.

1:25pm. #nofilter #eclipse2017

A post shared by Andy Culbertson (@thinkulum) on

1:25pm. #nofilter #eclipse2017

A post shared by Andy Culbertson (@thinkulum) on

Abbie pointed out a planet off to the west–Venus, I’m sure–but that was the only one we could see. We did see parking lot lights turn themselves on.

About 50 seconds before totality, the shadow bands appeared. This was another of my favorite parts. They were much more visible and dramatic than I expected. We could see them over the whole ground, about 6 inches wide, moving a few feet per second from north to south. After totality they moved from east to west. They even show up in the video, but you can only really see them when it’s playing and not when it’s paused.

Then, totality. The moon’s shadow didn’t swoop in, which we probably would’ve needed a wide open space to see; the light just dimmed rapidly. We also didn’t notice any relief from the heat, maybe because the humidity trapped it all and the trees shielded us from any eclipse wind. We did see the light of sunset smeared across the whole horizon.

Totality was good, though I didn’t feel as present for it as I wanted to. There was just too much happening in my mind, but that’s typical of me. Two minutes is too short–I needed at least ten. One of the thoughts crowding my head was that I wished we had an unhindered view of the corona; the sun was behind the whispy edge of a cloud, though it could easily have been much worse. But I was very conscious that my siblings and I were all watching it together, and for me that too was a favorite part.

1:28pm. My Ricoh Theta S watching the three of us watching totality. #eclipse2017

A post shared by Andy Culbertson (@thinkulum) on

In the end we passed through totality safely. The alien sky snakes spared us this time.

After that we rounded off the eclipse with some Fig Newtons and headed home. Then off to the airport for Michael’s flight, with surprisingly mild traffic, and finally a long nap for me. Eclipse day was exhausting. But not too exhausting for Abbie and I to stay up late playing Once Upon a Time.

My bus ride home the next day gave me a perfect chance to reflect.

I don’t know if or when I’ll post my eclipse video, but there are plenty of others. Here are a few good ones from that day. Feel free to get lost in the chains of related videos.

* ECLIPSE 2007 – Veritasium
* Solar Eclipse 2017 Full 4K 360ΒΊ VR Experience In Casper, Wyoming – TIME (Pan around the video with your mouse or finger, or watch in a VR viewer such as Google Cardboard.)
* Totality | Capturing the Total Solar Eclipse – Columbia Sportswear
* A Balloon With a View (capturing the “Great American Eclipse”) – Andrew Smith
* Eclipse 2017: Through the Eyes of NASA – NASA (their full coverage across the whole country, almost 4 hours long)

I’m already looking back on this vacation as one of the memorable ones, like our trip to Mammoth Cave a few years ago, and I’m looking forward to the next eclipse over the US in 2024. That one goes through my hometown, so if all goes well, I’m hoping to watch the hole in the sky with family once again.

Edit (9/4/2017): Switched out the balloon video for a shorter, edited one with a bit more drama.

Posted in Solar eclipse, Updates | 2 Comments

Update for 8/27/2017

Blog

Thanks to some feedback from my sister, I’m experimenting with adding moods to my updates (so you can cut to the feeling), with an icon for each section that carries enough of a mood to warrant one. I’ll start with emoji since they’re easy, but they have a somewhat limited range of emotions, so I’ll look around for other icon sets and maybe draw my own if I can’t find what I want.

Eclipse

πŸ™‚

This update is already long enough, and the eclipse will take a little more time to write about, so I’m going to post this part separately sometime within the next day. It’ll have pictures!

Sleep

πŸ€”

My sleep was fairly decent last week, but I still wasn’t really keeping track of it, which would probably help, so I’ll try that this week. I even have an app for it.

Work

πŸ™‚

With some work outside regular hours, including some on the bus to and from the eclipse, I’m keeping up with my schedule for this extra large ebook load, and since I’m almost done with all the hard parts, I’m not expecting any trouble finishing them on time. It’s reminding me that being organized and planning ahead can greatly reduce the stress of life, as long as you know enough for a reliable plan, since some processes are less predictable than others.

Project generator

😐

This one is still getting pushed to the sidelines, but I did organize the contents of my example READMEs into one document so I could easily refer to them, and I’ve gotten a few sections into writing mine. But still it’s going too slowly, and I feel it whenever I think about how far I have to go in getting ready for grad school, so I’m thinking more about how to reduce the time I waste.

Beliefs report

😐

I added some headings to the prolegomena and a note on some statements of belief I’ll use to compare my views to evangelicalism’s, and now I’m revising the bibliology section.

Futurism

😎

Last week’s interesting topic was blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It kept coming up in my futurism listening and reading, and I was annoyed that I only had the vaguest idea of what it was, so I watched some YouTube videos about it and was relieved that it was easy to grasp and even rather inspiring (short intro, long intro, survey of applications, a vision of decentralized society, startup city examples). I’ve also imported my podcast subscriptions into my feed reader so I can manage my listening better.

Media

Books

Iron Sunrise

😐

Just before my trip I thought I might want some longer listening than podcast episodes, so I returned to my SFF novels and picked up where I left off on one of Charles Stross’s visions of the future. Iron Sunrise is the sequel to Singularity Sky, in which a superintelligent AI called the Eschaton has mysteriously arisen from human technology and left Earth but secretly meddles in human affairs to preserve its own existence. Accelerando is still my favorite Stross novel, but this series is interesting enough.

Experimental literature

πŸ€“

For my bus rides I thought, correctly, that I might need some offline activities to keep myself occupied, so I came back to a project from a few months ago, cataloguing the authors in The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature, which will become a collection of links on the wiki at some point, and I managed to get through several chapters. It was kinda fun, and I’d like to say working on it got me back into experimental fiction, but we visited a used bookstore on Sunday (along with an indie comic store that I loved), and I found a couple of experimental novels I’ve had in mind to read, but I put them back on the shelf because I knew it’ll still be a while before I have time and mental space for reading that kind of book.

TV

πŸ™‚

I’m continuing my quest to follow the Netflix Marvel shows, so now that The Defenders is out, I’m plodding through it. I noticed one of its audio tracks is English with audio description, and that’s always intrigued me, so instead of going back to listen to a little of it afterward like I’ve done before, I’ve decided to watch the whole thing with description, along with subtitles, because with those off I felt like I was missing something, maybe because I usually have them on so I understand every line but also because I seemed to want both an auditory and visual representation of everything that was happening. What I like about audio description is the elegant way it keeps up with the action while fitting itself between the lines of dialogue, but what I’ve also noticed this time is that it heightens my awareness that the show is scripted, especially when it describes an action that takes place right after. It also gets me to notice things I would’ve missed and gives me words for objects and actions I couldn’t have easily named.

Computer

πŸ™„

Friday after work I was greeted by a message on my desktop computer telling me my hard drive is failing, so now I’m in the middle of resolving the issue. If the disk really is about to die, I have online backups of the files I care about, but hopefully I can copy them directly from the old drive before it gives out entirely. The good thing is these days I do most of my computer stuff on my Surface.

Worship team

πŸ˜’

Saturday our worship ministry had a lunch meeting, where we had a nice time getting to know each other a bit, since we hadn’t really done that since the merge many months ago, and then our worship minister laid out his plans for the future, now that he’s spent all this time observing. The ministry’s membership is growing, which is good after struggling for so long, and he’s reorganizing the teams and creating a regular schedule so everyone has a more equal chance to serve, which is sort of a relief to me, though I’d mostly gotten used to playing back-to-back weekends. However, he also spoke at length about the ways he wants us to grow in skill–some of them specific and some to be determined–and it left me feeling simultaneously anxious and rebellious because (1) I’m not willing to give much more time to music ministry when I have all this other stuff going on and (2) I’m allergic to expectations and pressure. But improving is a good idea in general, and giving things a chance is important to me, so we’ll see where this goes.

Stay tuned for my story of the eclipse! πŸ™‚

Posted in Beliefs report, Blog, Books, Coding project generator, Futurism, Hardware, Sleep, Solar eclipse, TV, Updates, Work, Worship performing | 2 Comments

Update for 8/20/2017

Work

My life right now is mostly made of work, trying to get all these ebooks made on time. It seems like I’ve been taking work home most nights, and it’s crowding out my other projects, but so far the workload has only gotten me down in passing moments. I’m expecting a couple more weeks of this, and then everything will be due and I’ll get back to life as usual. I even took my work computer on my trip, but I set a moderate goal for my vacation work, and it’s been progressing well.

Sleep

Traveling this weekend sort of erased my memory of the rest of the week, but my dim impression is that my sleep schedule wasn’t great but still better than before I started trying.

Project generator

Pretty much all I did on this last week was collect the readme files from a few other generators to plagiar–I mean to use as guides. I saved them locally so I could work with them offline on the bus–a good idea, it turned out, given the flaky wifi–but the fact that the power to the bus seat outlets was turned off most of the time demotivated me from doing anything on the computer apart from work.

Beliefs report

I’m updating the section on the Bible to match my new approach of addressing various types of belief, and then I’ll start on the new sections. Last week the main task was to sort through the statements of belief I’d collected from various religious organizations in my life, and I settled on using the Wheaton College statement as my main point of comparison for my current beliefs.

Camera

Despite my misgivings about Amazon Logistics, my replacement 360-degree camera arrived on Monday as they predicted, and this one charged just fine. The test photo I took looked disappointingly flat, but then I researched 3D 360 cameras and decided they weren’t really ready for consumers and cost more than I liked for a side hobby, so I concluded the camera I bought was good enough for now. I took the camera and my tripod to Tennessee to try filming the eclipse.

Eclipse

The eclipse is tomorrow, if you haven’t heard, and we’ve made our plans, which involve staking out a spot within walking distance so we don’t have to drive anywhere in all the traffic. I basically live for surreal experiences, and I’m hoping tomorrow will live up to the kinds of dreams I sometimes have about strange sky events–such as an enormous moon or weird flying creatures or overly tangible, ground-level clouds–which reality only comes close to when I see a blimp or dramatic clouds. Reading Annie Dillard’s eclipse essay reminded me of a couple of surreal fictional works: (1) Isaac Asimov’s short story “Nightfall” about people on a planet with six suns who see the night sky for the first time in generations, which you can listen to on the Escape Pod site and (2) the ending scenes of the online game Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which is exactly how I’m expecting tomorrow’s eclipse to play out (scene 1, scene 2, explanation of context, H/T Shodeku). Based on my sciencey links from last week and a few others, here’s what I’ll be looking for, if clouds aren’t in the way and I have the presence of mind:

  • 10 minutes before totality: Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Mercury (link 1, link 2), though there’s very little I’m able to identify in the night sky, and I won’t be looking for them very hard;
  • 10 minutes before totality: saturated colors, sharpened shadows, crescent shadows (link 1, link 2);
  • 1-2 minutes before totality: shadow bands (maybe on some paper, if there’s no other smooth, uniformly colored surface nearby);
  • Up to 1 minute before and after totality: Bailey’s beads;
  • Some unspecified time before totality: the edge of the moon’s shadow, approaching from the northwest;
  • Right before totality: the diamond ring;
  • During totality: the sun’s corona (hard to miss, and safe to look at without glasses);
  • During totality: a 10- to 20-degree drop in temperature, which I’m thinking will make the day comfortable for a couple of minutes;
  • During totality: malevolent sky snakes emerging from their parallel universe to attack the earth (might’ve made that part up);
  • During everything: emotional reactions.
Posted in 360-degree camera, Beliefs report, Coding project generator, Sleep, Solar eclipse, Updates, Work | 2 Comments

Update for 8/13/2017

Blog

The bullet list format looks a little overwhelming to me when there’s a lot of text, so this week I’m trying out headings. What do you think?

Sleep

No improvement this week, alas, and I’m starting to feel the effects in the form of hours wasted in the evenings mindlessly scrolling through social media. Hopefully my mediocre progress on the projects I care about will motivate me this week, as well as my upcoming trip that I’d really like to be awake for. The main problem is the one I’ve had all this time, the fact that I try to cram too much into my day, and I’m glad to be aware of that but also trying not to be impatient with my long-held bad habits. The social media dawdling doesn’t help, so I’m thinking I’ll revisit my evening schedule from a while back and target times for eating/projects and bed, since I’ve had better success in recent months with implementation intentions.

Project generator

Still no first release, but I got past my test failure problem, so now I’m back to the documentation. With all the other stuff going on, I’m a little surprised I got to this one at all.

Beliefs report

I’ve posted my spirituality report’s introductory thoughts (actually today and not last week, but cheating is a regular occurrence on this blog), which turned out to be quite a lot, given that I only work on it about 10 minutes a day. I’m kind of proud of myself for pushing myself to work on this the many times I could’ve easily neglected it. For future updates I’m thinking of alternating weeks working on the theology and spirituality essays.

Camera

This was one of last week’s main occupations. My 360-degree camera, a Ricoh Theta S, arrived on Tuesday, but the battery would barely charge, even after plugging it into different power sources for many hours, so I deleted the few extraneous photos and videos that were still on it from previous owners, plus the one I accidentally took because my brain saw the trigger button and thought “power,” returned the camera the next day for a refund, and ordered a non-used one, which is supposed to get here Monday, but via Amazon Logistics, so I’m looking forward to seeing if it arrives at all. My accessories came and were fine, so I’m now the proud(?) owner of a selfie stick, and I’m researching other accessories, a suction cup camera mount for my car window and maybe a stereo digital audio recorder, since there’s only a mono mic on the camera, and at some point I’ll experiment with lighting options.

Eclipse

I’ve decided to take the bus–easier than driving and cheaper than anything else, and it gives me freedom to do stuff while I’m traveling, though I haven’t decided what. As if I haven’t given you enough to read, here are some articles you might like on solar eclipses:

Futurism

The futurism content I’ve been binging has been very rewarding, though managing my already cluttered podcast subscriptions has been time consuming, which made this last week’s other main occupation, and it’s still not done. My favorite discovery of last week was the YouTube channel of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, and listening to Nick Bostrom describe the organization’s mission made me feel kind of like I’d found my people. Also last week I was finally motivated to start typing out my thoughts on futurism and AI, but then I decided I needed to read more before I posted anything.

Security

This is a PSA I forgot to add last week: To thwart some of the hackers who are after your info, set up VPN on your mobile devices for when you’re connecting to the free wifi at places like Starbucks. I’d gotten tired of the voice in the back of my head nagging me about the insecurity of open public wifi, so the next time I was stuck sitting around with only free wifi for company, I spent the time setting up a VPN connection on my Surface, and the service I settled on was TunnelBear. For some reason I had trouble connecting over that location’s wifi, but later I also installed the mobile app on my phone, and everywhere I’ve tried that, it’s worked very well.

Web video

Every once in a while something I’ve followed casually mysteriously catches my attention and holds it for a while, and last week that happened with the Report of the Week, a college student who reviews fast food on YouTube with old-school sensibilities, a dry sense of humor, over 300,000 subscribers, and even a radio show broadcast from actual radio stations.

Birthdays

Happy birthday to my dad!

Posted in 360-degree camera, Beliefs report, Birthdays, Blog, Coding project generator, Futurism, Sleep, Solar eclipse, Spirituality, Travel, Updates, Videos | 2 Comments

Update for 8/6/2017

  • Updates – Starting with this post I’m going to consider these updates as covering Sunday through Saturday (the day before the update) rather than Monday through Sunday (the day of the update), which should help me finish them a little earlier, since I’m not giving myself more to write about on the day the post is (technically) due.
  • Sleep – My sleep schedule deteriorated a bit last week, so this week I’ll watch myself more closely. Now’s not the time to let go of the rope of progress!
  • Project generator – Last week was mostly taken up by other things, but I inched a little further toward the first release. I thought I was ready to document, but I’ve gotten sidetracked trying to get the tests to pass on Node.js 4, because I guess we still care about that version. It’s good to learn all this though, because I’m planning to use Node.js and specifically Electron for most of my future desktop projects so I can focus on web technologies rather than learning a different set for each platform (desktop, web, and mobile). The generator project will probably stay slow for a while longer because I want to work on some apartment housekeeping, which I’ll explain below.
  • Beliefs report – I also inched along on the spirituality report, but I’ve been thinking about it a fair amount. I’ll write a little more on the overall framework this week and then post what I have so far.
  • Eclipse – In a couple of weeks my brother and I are traveling to visit our sister, who lives basically in the path of the solar eclipse that will be happening on the 21st, so if the weather cooperates, we’ll be watching that. My brother kindly ordered eclipse-watching glasses for us so we can continue using our eyes afterward. I’m planning to drive there, but I haven’t decided if I’m going to take my own old car or rent one for peace of mind.
  • Camera – Thinking about the eclipse led me to the idea of filming it, which for me these days suggests a 3D panorama, which reminded me that while the Google Cardboard Camera app is a nice first step, it has some glaring limitations that I’ve been looking forward to escaping, and so I decided now would be a good time to take my next step toward VR by buying a 360-degree camera. After a couple of days of research, since there are only a few of these cameras, I settled on the Ricoh Theta S, thanks to this tie-breaking review video. I might not end up filming the eclipse, if we don’t get to watch or it seems too distracting or my siblings don’t want to be filmed, but fortunately I’m not the first person to have this idea, and YouTube has several 360-degree solar eclipse videos, such as this Indonesian beach party and this surreal Norwegian landscape. But the eclipse was only an instigator, and the more I think about this camera, the more photo and video ideas I get–photographing places to take with me and hang out in at home, gathering hard-to-reach info by poking the camera behind appliances, filming an interesting drive so I can put off the distractions till later, plus some image processing experiments I might do once I know more math.
  • Housekeeping – In the past couple of weeks I’ve been reorganizing my apartment a little to make it easier to clean up, so I’ve been thinking of making housekeeping my next project after the project generator, and the 360-degree camera has given me some extra motivation to make the place more presentable, because I’d like to take some photos and videos around the apartment, such as to get decorating advice. Sometimes to get things done, you just need a big enough reason.
  • Podcasts – I’ve been expanding my futurism playlist to include podcasts on a few other large-scale topics that are relevant to my picture of the future, such as biotech, energy, and international development. Partly this is to get in touch with the problems I want AI to help us with, and partly it’s to keep track of where the world seems to be headed, whether it’s closer to a future I want or farther from it. Trying out all these podcasts is straining the usability of my podcast app (Downcast), so I’m experimenting with other ways to manage my listening, such as trying out Overcast and Pocket Casts. On a related note, I’ve decided to pick up Escape Pod and PodCastle again, plus Cast of Wonders, starting with the current episodes, rather than trying to catch up on the past few years first, since that plan wasn’t happening and I’ve noticed that stories from those podcasts sometimes stick in my mind and shape the way I see the world, so I don’t want to neglect them forever.
  • Work – I have a pretty hefty workload of ebooks to make this summer, most of them due on the same day in mid-September, and it was not made any lighter by the discovery that I have a very complicated one coming up that’s also due on that date, so I’ve rolled up my sleeves and scheduled my work so I get everything else done two weeks earlier, which gives me a month to make 17 ebooks–slightly faster than my usual pace. I’ve grouped the steps of my procedure so I can work on all 17 in parallel to conserve my mental task switching time, and I’ve given myself a rough deadline for each group of steps, and so far it’s working out well.
  • Nostalgia box – I’ve been severely distracted from this project for the past few months, but I had some thoughts the other day on how I want to proceed with it. First, I’m not going to worry about the folders I haven’t gotten around to opening, since they’ll still be there waiting for me next year, and I won’t even worry about the folders I didn’t get around to refilling, because I have some books from my childhood I can revisit for those months. And second, in addition to my earlier idea of simplify my creations so I can get them done quickly, I might take Jeremy’s advice and split up a single project across months, except that instead of immediately moving the project from one folder to the next as I add onto its parts, I’d try to make each component complete in itself so the next year I’ll have something to appreciate when I open that month’s folder, and then as I encounter the rest of the components in the following months, I’ll combine them.
Posted in 360-degree camera, Beliefs report, Blog, Coding project generator, Housekeeping, Nostalgia box, Podcasts, Sleep, Solar eclipse, Travel, Updates, Work | 6 Comments

Update for 7/30/2017

  • Sleep – My sleep schedule wasn’t great at the beginning or end of the week, but in the middle I actually slept pretty well and was more alert during the day, and since that wasn’t the first week of success in my sleep project, it makes me think I can regulate my sleep for more than two days per year, and that makes me want to keep trying.
  • Project generator – I got the templates working, but before I finalized that part, I started procrastinating, so that’s this week’s task, plus editing the READMEs, and then I think I’ll be done with the first release. Then after updating the coding guide with things I learned while working on the generator, I’ll move on to other programming projects, and I’ll update that generator and create others as I add features to those projects. To speed things up, this week I’m going to ignore the awkwardness of programming while eating dinner and just do it.
  • Beliefs report – I’m still working on the spirituality report. From the thoughts I sketched on the problems I run into while trying to be spiritual, I spun out a basic framework so I could put each problem in context, because I always want a map to navigate any domain I’m working in. Having the framework, rather than just a random collection of disconnected thought fragments, makes me more comfortable with the idea of posting it. A key feature of the framework is that I’d like to develop an individual- and coping-oriented spirituality, by which I mean looking at the whole scope of spirituality, including God’s plan for the world and the life of the church, from the vantage point of the individual’s experience and actions and the individual’s need to interact constructively with the challenges of life.
  • Media
    • Web videos
      • Isaac Arthur – I found this YouTube channel while looking for futurism podcasts, and now I’m watching all its videos in chronological order. If you’re interested in advanced space technology and humanity’s future in the galaxy, I recommend it as a fascinating, well-researched, and well-organized presentation of the possibilities. I’ve made a playlist for your viewing convenience.
      • Zelda timeline – I was in the mood for some mythology, and I decided to dive into video game lore and see if anyone had made sense of the Zelda timeline, which I’d heard is very complicated. If you too would like to spoil the plot of every Zelda game for yourself, I recommend this video, which delivers an hour-long epic retelling of the entire series. I’ll have to watch it a few more times to grasp everything.
    • Movies – I watched Dunkirk with Tim on Sunday, and I have it on solid authority that it is actually good, which happily corresponds with my opinion. I haven’t historically been interested in historical movies, but I like to keep an open mind and branch out when possible, and I’ve had good experiences with the ones I’ve watched in the past few years. As I watched the airplane scenes, I was reminded that engineers of the past were still smart and effective even though they were working with lower levels of technology, and Tim reminded me that more primitive technology can have advantages, since the mechanical controls of those planes would still work even if the power failed. It all reminded me of my interest in the era of technology just before electricity became widespread, and I wondered how much further people could take non-electric technology if they had the interest or need.
Posted in Beliefs report, Coding project generator, Futurism, Movies, Sleep, Spirituality, Updates, Video games, Videos | 2 Comments

Update for 7/23/2017

  • Sleep – I was much more tired and demotivated last week, despite going to bed at mostly normal times, so I’m going to blame that for how little I got done. This week I’m going to try getting 9 hours a night to see what that does.
  • Project generator – I didn’t do any coding, but I did learn about the next thing I have to code, the user prompts for filling in the templates, and in particular I got a handle on promises, which were really holding me back, since they’re convoluted and confusing but are used a lot in modern JavaScript. It’s been interesting to return to web technologies after so long away from them and to see how much they’ve grown. I don’t think Node.js even existed last time I was doing any semi-serious web development, but it’s convenient that I’m learning some of it for this project because I’ll also potentially use it for a project at work I want to do. Learning this stuff has showed me I need to improve my process for learning new technical material so it doesn’t go so slowly.
  • Beliefs report – Lunchtime is when I usually work on this, but most of those last week got crowded by other things, so I only got around to outlining a little more on my spirituality report.
  • Caring – A few circumstances have been nudging me back toward this project, learning how I can relate to people with more compassion, respect, and other constructive, empathetic attitudes. I don’t know how well I can fit it in with my other projects, but I can at least do some outlining. If I get into this project, it’ll probably help me think about AI ethics too, since I end up relating everything to AI these days.
  • Media
    • Books – I’ve decided to drop Yancey’s Prayer for now, since I wasn’t able to fit the print book into my schedule very well and the audiobook was leaving me feeling a little lost. Right now I’m mostly listening to podcasts on futurism (AI, robotics, transhumanism, and other future technologies), but here and there I’m listening to Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Rationality: From AI to Zombies (ebook).
    • Web video – Ideally I’d be working on projects while I eat dinner, but that’s harder when they involve typing, and lately I’ve been a little bit in a mood for weird things, so I’ve been watching some of my weird web series, mainly EveryManHYBRID and TribeTwelve from the Slenderverse, which I’m watching together because they cross over. I’m also keeping up with Jared Underground’s puppet series, where he creepifies Cookie Monster into an unnamed actual monster, along with other childhood toys, throwing them together in an imaginative and horrifying new setting with some great sound design.
  • Video games – My online friend Sumurai8 joined the Minecraft server I joined a while back, so I’ve been playing on there a little over the past couple of weeks. Saturday we were on together, and since I find typing while video gaming annoying, I broke with my usual pattern of text-only communication and voice chatted, which we’ve never done in the several years I’ve known him. It seems like a small change, but I see it as another step in my master plan to become more verbal in various contexts of my life (not to mention less hypocritical in my preference to hear online people talk).
Posted in Beliefs report, Books, Caring, Coding project generator, Productivity, Sleep, Social life, Updates, Video games, Videos, Weird stuff | 3 Comments

Update for 7/16/2017

  • Sleep – I was mostly successful in my first week of getting my sleep schedule under control, and it made a big difference in my mood and alertness and productivity, as I expected. People say diet and exercise improve your state of mind, but I find nothing helps me nearly as much as sleep. I even started cleaning up my cluttered apartment, and the extra energy also got me through the troubles of the week with much less inner drama than I would’ve had. More on that below.
  • Project generator – This is my main project right now, so I’d be working on it anyway, but listening to my AI podcasts has been adding to my motivation, since this project is the bottleneck for all the AI learning and other coding projects I want to do. Last week I fixed my broken test and added a couple more tests, and now I’m ready to add the code to my templates that’ll make them real templates.
  • Beliefs report – To make it easier to list the evangelical beliefs I’ve kept, I collected belief statements from various organizations and denominations that’ve been part of my life over the years. But gathering those reminded me that what I really care and think most about is spirituality, so I made a detour into outlining my current spirituality. I’ll probably write just enough of that to give me a good idea of what’s there, come back to writing the beliefs report, and then finish the spirituality report.
  • Computer – Toward the end of last week, my desktop computer at home developed a severe case of blue screen, and I put on my scientist cap and determined the culprit was the 8G RAM stick I bought a few months ago, so now my computer is working again but back to being slow, and I’m looking into getting a replacement from the manufacturer.
  • Apartment – About the time my computer’s RAM was dying, people were working on the sewer in our parking lot and broke an unmarked gas pipe, so the gas in our building was out a couple of days while they fixed it, which meant no stove, oven, or hot water. The guy who told me about the problem shut off the gas to my oven/stove, and I didn’t know how to safely reset everything once the gas was fixed, so my kitchen was half non-functional for a few days till I could get someone to either tell me what to do or come by and do it for me. This all happened right in time for me to not be able to cook the raw chicken I’d thawed in my fridge.
  • Movies – I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming with Jeremy on Sunday, and I liked it enough that I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, even less than I’d mind rewatching the other MCU movies, mostly because even after getting to know all these other Marvel characters from the movies, Spider-Man is still my favorite, but now closely followed by Iron Man and Black Widow. Partly I like Spider-Man’s acrobatics, but also I like coming-of-age stories, maybe because I feel like I’m continually growing up, and that’s a big part of Spider-Man’s genre, at least in the movies. This one inspired me to keep developing my knowledge and skills, because those are the closest things to superpowers I’ll have, unless I get on board with any transhumanism that takes place in my lifetime.
  • Social life – Several families at church are hosting dinners over the next month or so, and I’m trying to wade back into my church’s social life, so I signed up for one, and it took place on Sunday. The interaction was very organized and introvert friendly, and I had a good time and got to talk with some people I’d been wanting to get to know, so I was glad I went.
Posted in Apartment, Beliefs report, Coding project generator, Hardware, Movies, Sleep, Social life, Updates | 1 Comment

Update for 7/9/2017

  • Project generator – This is a more accurate term for what I was calling the code console before. I made progress last week on the code and posted a minor update, but after that I hit a snag where my code worked but my test for it didn’t, so I’m investigating that.
  • Beliefs report – I posted an update discussing the types of belief I’ll be covering in the essay, which should help me organize my thoughts and write it more easily.
  • Health – I had my colonoscopy on Friday to check on my ulcerative colitis, and from what I can dimly remember from the recovery room while the drugs were wearing off, my doctor was encouraged because there was less inflammation than usual. I’m supposed to see him again in a couple of months for a follow-up conversation.
  • Sleep – After the colonoscopy I slept for many hours and missed the SGDQ speedrun I’d been planning to watch, but I didn’t mind because I could watch it later and I reeeeeeally needed the sleep. As a result, the rest of the weekend I had lots more energy than usual, even with much less sleep Saturday night, enough energy that I actually felt up to joining the social event after church, and I haven’t really felt like socializing in a long time. So this has reminded me why sleep is good, and I’m thinking about how I can help myself remember that and plan for more sleep on a regular basis.
  • Movies – Sunday afternoon Tim and I spontaneously decided to go see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and since my experience with this series can be summarized by the word confusion, I paid very close attention this time, and I successfully followed the plot, to the point that I was possibly spotting holes. Anyway, as usual I don’t know if the movie was good, but I liked it.
Posted in Beliefs report, Coding project generator, Health, Movies, Sleep, Updates | 3 Comments