Weeknote for 6/23/2019

Coding project generator

πŸ™‚

Version 1 is done. The most important thing I’ve learned from this sprint is that it’s harder to create a general tool abstractly on its own, when you can only speculate about what it should do and how. It’s easier when you build it in the context of immediate needs. So instead of spending further months focused on this project, I’ll develop it alongside the programming projects that use it.

Life maintenance

😐

I forced myself out of procrastination and ordered a sofa and then an area rug to go with it. FedEx is just going to plunk the sofa down in the lobby or something, so hopefully I can get someone to help me drag it up to my apartment. That’s supposed to happen Thursday.

This week I’ll finishing organizing my books and set up a preliminary cleaning schedule.

Writing

😎

I finished Story by Robert McKee. I feel enlightened, and it’s affecting how I look at the stories I come across, a valuable stone in my path to understanding narrative. Two points that have especially stuck with me are that (1) a character reveals their character through the decisions they make under stress, which is brought about by conflict, and (2) the purpose of each segment of the plot (a scene, sequence, or act) is to create a change in the charge (positive or negative) of one or more values related to the story’s theme, such as the prosperity of a character or the status of a relationship.

Despite all the insight, there’s still more path to go, and I’m left with questions. Do McKee’s guidelines really cover all the kinds of stories worth telling? And how do these guidelines change exactly when it comes to other media, such as novels and comics? He touches on some of the differences, but I’m sure there’s much more to say.

For now I’m putting the writing books on hold to listen to some actual stories, starting with The Contract by John Howell and Gwen Plano.

Movies

πŸ™‚

Monday I finished watching A.I. Artificial Intelligence. (It took a few days. I was distractible.) I had mixed feelings about it. It seemed like two different movies. The first act was sweet and heartwrenching. The second changed tone and turned into an adventure, but it clearly continued the story. But then the third act took a strange turn that seemed to drop the earlier story. But really it was a long, and in my opinion contrived, setup for the final stretch that was meant to tie up the story in a particular way. It just felt clumsy to me. Still, I liked the movie well enough, and Haley Joel Osment was brilliant. I’d managed to go all this time without actually seeing any of his work.

Saturday I watched Upgrade. As I’d hoped, I liked it better than the similarly premised Venom. Upgrade was more serious and ultimately more alien, despite the lack of tentacles. It was a decent take on the control problem, the question of how to keep a superintelligent AI from harming humanity. The movie made a real effort to be logical, which I appreciate in an AI story. It’s easy to get those wrong. Not that we know how events around a superintelligent AI would go, but with a lot of these stories I feel the writer has made the AI character too human for no reason. An AI wouldn’t act like a normal human by default. We’d have to make it that way on purpose, or at least equip and motivate it to learn to act human, and that should at least be part of the backstory.

Posted in Apartment, Coding project generator, Life maintenance, Movies, Weeknotes, Writing | Leave a comment

Weeknote for 6/16/2019

Coding project generator

😐

I almost finished it, but I had to extend my deadline a little. I’ll write about it next week.

Life maintenance

😐

This week starts a new project month: Sol, the extra month in the middle of the International Fixed Calendar. This month my project is a miscellaneous assortment of life maintenance tasks, mainly continuing to set up my apartment and setting up routines for cleaning and cooking. There are no real deadlines on these things, so I’ll do however much I can fit into four weeks.

Futurism

πŸ€”

Tuesday my futurism group met to discuss the book Program or Be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff. I had mixed feelings about the book. Overall I think it’s a decent conversation starter, but it’s too vague and cursory as a set of advice on its own.

My main beef was with the last chapter, which shares its title with the book. Here’s a 6-minute video summary and a half-hour interview. He says that in the computer age, programming is the new writing, the latest advancement in media skill. The masses need to learn this skill so they won’t be at the mercy of the elites who already have it.

I agree that:

  • Everyone should learn that we aren’t limited to the software we’re given. Software is designed by people, and it can work differently than the way they’ve made it. Learning to program can give you a first-hand knowledge of this fact. That knowledge can help free your mind from the software ecosystem we live in.
  • The basics of programming are easy to learn. One place to start might be MIT’s Scratch lessons.
  • There are useful automation tools that don’t require advanced skill. For example, the website IFTTT. The Automators podcast gives a lot of pointers.

But I also disagree because:

  • Merely knowing how to program won’t be enough to free people. They need to have a creative mind and the kind of critical, sociological perspective of people like Rushkoff. So he needs to be clearer about the programs he expects people to create, especially since “software” covers so much territory.
  • Making software that’s usable and safe is hard, at least when it’s open to the Internet. It takes a lot of dedication to careful thought and testing. I imagine a world where everyone dashes off quick programs from day to day, and all those programs quickly get hacked. Data breaches become a feature of everyday life.
  • What people need are options, software they can choose when they want to leave Facebook or whatever. Not everyone has to take on the role of creating those options. And there are already many alternatives. For example, here are alternatives to Twitter.
  • The mere existence of alternative software isn’t enough. People need to use it. After all, everyone’s on Facebook because that’s where everyone else is. So there’s the business question of how we can build the popularity of these other networks and tools.

Writing

πŸ™‚

Last week I got through Design for How People Learn, and I started Story by Robert McKee. Even though I haven’t finished McKee’s book yet, it’s already my favorite of this batch. Very thought provoking and practical. Thank you, Linda, for recommending it.

Linda commented on last week’s post with a question: What do I look for in a writing craft book? I jotted down some thoughts.

  • An author who’s informed by long, broad experience.
  • Endorsements by friends or by the subject’s authorities or by the book’s popularity.
  • Depth rather than superficial techniques. Insights that go beyond the basics. I do need the basics, but after that I need more. I also prefer writers who care about the art of writing and not just how to appeal to the market. But I get that a working writer needs that kind of info to make a living.
  • Thorough coverage of its topic.
  • Citations of evidence. This could be scientific evidence about what works for readers, or it could be analysis of a wide range of examples.
  • Organization that lends itself to procedures and checklists. In my view this is a big part of what makes a book practical.
  • Examples of what to do and what not to do, with suggestions for fixing the bad examples.
  • Writing that follows its own advice.
  • Recommendations for further reading on the book’s topics.
  • Exercises are a plus, especially progressions of them, even though I always put them off when I’m just getting through the book. I value them when I decide it’s time to practice. I have whole books of writing prompts.

Great examples of these qualities are Joshua Schimel’s Writing Science and Julie Dirksen’s Design for How People Learn.

Music

πŸ™‚

My worship played last Sunday. Since I’d finished my survey of our patches in MainStage, I picked a few new ones to try out that weekend, mainly a flute and a dulcimer. I think it worked okay, but I need to practice the styles I have in mind. I also need to ask for feedback on whether what I’m playing sounds good, since I’m still learning how to fit synth into the band.

Posted in Books, Coding project generator, Futurism, Life maintenance, Music, Programming, Weeknotes, Worship performing, Writing | 1 Comment

Weeknote for 6/9/2019

Coding project generator

😐

I did nothing on this last week. Hopefully I can make some progress this week on the most important features. Then whatever I have at that point will be version 1.0.

Movies

πŸ€”

I finished watching The Beyond, written and directed by Hasraf Dulull. Judging from this podcast interview, he’s a sensation among filmmakers for coming to directing from an accomplished career in visual effects. Well, I don’t know much about making films, but I do have opinions on this one.

The main thing I learned from this movie is that bad writing can overshadow decent acting. The film is framed as a documentary about how an international space agency handled an anomaly. It’s an interesting concept, but I think that’s what ruined it for me. When I see a space documentary, it turns out I expect the content to be realistic. What The Beyond gave me was naturalistic acting that conveyed content that was jarringly unrealistic. It made the characters’ sincerity feel ridiculous.

I actually don’t want to spoil the movie with examples, because I felt morbidly compelled to watch the whole thing, and I wish you the same dubious pleasure. I even want to watch the director’s later movie to see what that’s like. Does that make The Beyond so bad it’s good?

But yeah, I don’t want to be too harsh. It was his first feature-length film, his budget was low, he wasn’t used to writing, and his work will improve. It had some nice visual effects. The script’s awkwardness just made for a very interesting viewing experience.

Writing

πŸ€”

Last week I listened to Writing to Be Understood by Anne Janzer, You’ve Got 8 Seconds by Paul Hellman, and Writing Science by Joshua Schimel. The first two were good but short, and their ideas are already blurring in my mind. I’ll need to go back and study them to make use of their advice. Schimel’s book feels more distinct to me, partly because his advice was a little less familiar and partly because of the careful and repetitive way he worked through the ideas.

I have several more writing books on my current list, but the ones I’ve finished so far help me sharpen the writing questions I have. Writing advice is generally not hard to understand, so to fill my mental gaps what I want are catalogs of examples. For example, a key tool for explaining things is analogy. Janzer points her readers to Metamia, an online database of analogies.

Nature

πŸ€”

Sunday when I was showing Tim the second bird’s nest, which I’m pretty sure is sparrows, we noticed the robins’ nest was empty. Only a week before, the babies were babies. I did notice over the week they were looking more like normal birds with feathers, but I thought they’d stick around a couple more weeks. They grow up fast!

I think the upper corner of a balcony is a common spot for nests. Looking around the apartment complex, I see that a lot of those areas have grass poking out between the beams.

Posted in Coding project generator, Movies, Nature, Weeknotes, Writing | 1 Comment

Weeknote for 6/2/2019

Coding project generator

😐

I made some progress, but last week this project was mostly crowded out by other things. I don’t think it’s in danger yet.

TV

πŸ™‚

I finished season 2 of The OA. What a strange show. But good, and I’m looking forward to where they take things in season 3. It’s become gradually more epic and rapidly very meta, which I love. It also seems more confident this season. Season 1 felt a little awkward to me.

Before I got my new TV in January, I had taken a long break from TV shows and movies while I worked on my various projects. Now I’m catching up on all the shows I put on hold. There are a lot of them, and it’s been so long I don’t remember them all or where I left off. So I’m having to research my own viewing history.

For now I’m in the mood for Marvel Netflix shows, and the next on that list turned out to be season 2 of Jessica Jones. So that’s what I’m watching now.

Movies

πŸ€”

I didn’t want to get stuck in catching up on shows, so I decided to intersperse some movies.

Friday, after spending way too much time sorting through the options, I watched Coherence, a sci fi film about a dinner party during a visit from a physics-bending comet. This one really did feel awkward. It was clear the actors were ad libbing the dialog based on some kind of plot-driven outline. It didn’t all make sense. Still, it came together in the end, and I ended up feeling it was worth watching. Also from this review I discovered the genre of mumblecore.

Another sci fi movie that caught my attention was The Beyond. I watched the first half late Saturday night, so I’ll write my thoughts on it next week. But it quickly went far beyond awkward. It’s probably the cringiest movie I’ve seen.

Apologetics

πŸ€”

I finished Craig Keener’s Miracles. It reopened my mind to supernatural events. The book dumps a flood of miracle stories on the reader, and a number of them sound credible, especially when they were originally told by skeptics who then became less skeptical, or at least more confused. Many of the events seem hard to explain, such as the ones where people regrew body parts, among even stranger stories.

The world contains plenty of fraud, but this book brings me back to the place of wondering how far explanations like that can go. It reminds me of the beef I’ve had with skeptics, that their debunkings sometimes feel cursory and impatient, as if explaining part of the evidence is good enough for dismissing the rest of it and can’t we just declare victory and get on with our lives.

The book gives me a lot of good starting points for further research on several topics. I have a few directions to take my religious research after this:

  • Learn how skeptics approach the paranormal.
  • Compare Christian miracles to miracles from other religions. This kind of context gives me clarity.
  • Investigate mystical experiences, especially prophetic ones. Miracles that involve content seem more helpful than ones that leave us with an uninterpreted event, such as a healing.

Last week I also ran across a talk by David Eagleman, who takes the same approach I do to the question of religion. He calls it possibilianism. Instead of only pitting Christianity and atheism against each other, as if they were the only real options, we should be examining the whole field of possible worldviews, even ones that haven’t been invented yet.

Writing

πŸ™‚

Next I’m listening to a few books on writing skills. I’m too impatient to wait till after my fiction month. I’m starting with Writing to Be Understood by Anne Janzer.

People

Paul

πŸ™‚

Monday I had the day off for Memorial Day. I spent a large chunk of it listening to the rain and talking on the phone with my online friend Paul. He’s having a spiritual awakening, coming back to Christianity after many years away. He and I come at religion from different backgrounds, so it’s been interesting and edifying to interact about it.

Paul has the kind of new believer enthusiasm that challenges my jaded faith. He’s only just beginning to figure things out, of course, and we share a bewilderment at all the theological options. I discovered them slowly over time. He’s getting them all at once. If he’d been recruited by a particular church, maybe he would’ve settled on that one, but he came back to Jesus on his own outside of organized religion.

I’ve lived my whole life in evangelicalism, so I’m able to give him a lot of Christian info. But explaining it to him makes me realize how strange and excessive some of it sounds, such as the nuances of the Trinity, which I ended up rambling about while trying to explain the concept of a cult. It also shows me that some of what I “know” is based on old prejudices rather than careful research, such as my ideas of what other religious groups believe.

Uncle Lee

πŸ˜•

Wednesday we got an email from our dad saying his brother Lee had died the day before. His heart had stopped during surgery on his abdomen. Our parents would be driving out for the funeral in the following days.

I reflected on my intersection with my uncle’s life. My family lived several states away from both sides of the extended family, and we only saw one side or the other during summer vacations and sometimes at Christmas. So I ended up not knowing my extended family very well. As a child I was intimidated by Uncle Lee because of his slightly aggressive humor. I never knew how to respond to him. But I think I do that to people too, so I can’t really complain.

When I visited his family much later, a lot of life had happened, and he seemed to have mellowed to my speed. I remember he spoke tenderly of his youngest son, who had special needs and had died years before, and of their church’s support for him.

Later that visit, we dropped by his neighbor’s house to chat. His neighbor made us some Folgers. One of my weird hang-ups to that point had been to avoid coffee, but I decided to take advantage of this chance to get over it, and so that instant vanilla cappuccino was my introduction to coffee.

Music

πŸ™‚

After the worship team rehearsal Saturday morning, I borrowed the laptop to record samples of most of the instrument patches in MainStage. That’s the synthesizer software we use.

I think people tend to have preferences for the aspects of music they pay attention to. I’m weak on rhythm, but I get a lot of meaning out of harmony. Another one of mine is timbre. It makes me glad our worship pastor put me on synth, because it gives me a wide range of timbres to play around with.

Since I don’t have MainStage at home, the recordings I made will let me choose the patches that will work for our performances so I can expand on the few options I’ve been using.

Nature

πŸ™‚

Also on Saturday morning, I was considering the little birds that stop by the kitchen end of the balcony, the opposite end from the robin’s nest. I wondered if there were other bird’s nests hiding on my balcony. Looking along the beams above, I found one. I put my phone on a selfie stick to check it out. It looked abandoned, like just a big clump of garbage. But on the third attempt, I caught a glimpse of something. After lunch I bought a light for my 360-degree camera and set it on video recording so I could get a better view.

Posted in Apologetics, Coding project generator, Death, Movies, Music, Nature, Spirituality, TV, Weeknotes, Writing | 4 Comments

Weeknote for 5/26/2019

Coding project generator

πŸ™‚

I made decent progress last week, though I might’ve gone a little overboard on the comments. Even if I don’t finish everything on my list in the remaining three weeks of this sprint, I expect to complete enough that I can call whatever I end up with version 1.0.

Life maintenance

😐

I’m currently in June on the Thinkulum project calendar, which is based on the International Fixed Calendar. The next month is the extra one called Sol. My version of Sol will start on June 16 of the normal Gregorian calendar.

For this extra month I’m going to take a break from my content-oriented projects and do as many life maintenance tasks as I can fit into four weeks. Hopefully I can do some investing I’ve been putting off, revise my budget, do some cleaning, come up with a cooking plan, and continue tidying and setting up my apartment. Yes, normal people get their apartment set up in a week or something when they’ve moved. For me it takes a year or more.

Fiction

πŸ™‚

During Sol I’ll take the opportunity to catch up on some fiction listening along with some narrative non-fiction. One of the novels on my list is something I won from L. Marie’s blog last week, The Contract by John W. Howell. The author wrote a creative and entertaining interview with himself to introduce it.

Movies

πŸ™‚

Sunday Tim and Jeremy came over to watch The Hidden Fortress. It’s an old black-and-white movie about two peasants in feudal Japan who are recruited to smuggle a fortune across enemy lines. It was one of the inspirations for Star Wars. Our consensus was that it was good, though it was a simpler plot than I expected, probably because I had Star Wars in mind. I congratulate the Criterion Collection for agreeing with our opinion. And then afterward the special features were helpful for showing me why I should think it was good.

Saturday I watched Venom, the non-MCU Spider-Man tie-in from last year. I didn’t really know the character, so I only vaguely knew what to expect. For an alien blob, he was surprisingly wisecracky. It kind of disappointed me really. I was hoping he’d be more serious and inscrutable. Instead I felt like I was watching Men In Black. Maybe Upgrade will be more what I had in mind.

This movie also highlighted the realistic turn in comic book movies, because it had clearly missed that turn. Venom felt much more like the new superkid on the block than a strange new threat that humanity now had to deal with. I’m pretty sure in the real world the movie’s events would have a few more consequences.

Still, I liked the movie okay. Once again, the special features did a good job of selling it.

Nature

😍

Saturday it was a little too warm in my apartment, but I didn’t want to run the air conditioner unless I had to, so I opened the windows instead. I rarely do this. The weather turned out to be perfect–breezy and peaceful with puffy clouds and all the typical suburban sounds in the background–so I left them open the rest of the day.

Toward evening I stood out on my balcony to enjoy the tranquility a bit more, and when I turned to go back inside, I saw something between the vertical slats at the other end. A bird’s nest! It was a little too high to see inside, so I walked over and lifted my phone to take a picture.

I love birds. I was going to say this nest was the bow on the gift of a perfect day, but really the day was the wrapper for the nest. The robin parents seem a little wary of me, so my plan is to keep a respectful distance and check up on them every once in a while through the glass door.

Posted in Coding project generator, Fiction, Life maintenance, Movies, Nature, Weeknotes | 3 Comments

Weeknote for 5/19/2019

Coding project generator

😐

It took forever, but I finally got my tests working and my vulnerabilities resolved. Now maybe I can make some actual progress on the rest of the program. This is the start of Thinkulum June, so I have four weeks to finish version 1.0.

Apologetics

πŸ€”

I finished the main body of Keener’s book Miracles. It’s been thought provoking. Now I’m on the endnotes, which are as long as the rest of the text. It’ll probably take another couple of weeks to finish. Why do I read the endnotes? Because they contain a lot of interesting and important side discussions.

Movies

πŸ™‚

On Sunday Jeremy and I watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I liked the concept and the mix of art styles, and it made me curious about the various spider-people, only some of whom I knew about beforehand.

It also convinced me to buy a sound bar. My TV’s speakers were not up to the task of this movie. Turning the volume way up had little effect. The speakers work fine for other videos, so I’m not sure what the issue was. But this is a problem that seems easy to solve.

Music

😎

I finished sampling the drone music playlist I assembled from the Wikipedia article. Here are some examples that stood out to me last week:

  • Bethany Curve – I’d heard of the shoegaze genre years ago, but it didn’t appeal to me at the time, so I ignored it. Then it came up in this playlist, and this time I was intrigued. Bethany Curve reminds of the Falling Up album my sister gave me for my birthday, Hours. They’re like Falling Up lost in thought. So now I guess I’m a shoegaze fan.
  • Insurgentes by Steven Wilson – This album has shoegaze influences.
  • Polar Drone 1” by Erik WΓΈllo
  • Lullaby by If Thousands – This playlist has been all over the map, but Erik WΓΈllo’s track and this album are roughly the kind of music I imagine when I think of drones.

As an added bonus, I made a Spotify radio station out of Big Black Delta’s “PB3” to see if I could find more drone tracks with a similar sound. I didn’t, but what I did find kept me listening. I especially liked the other songs from Big Black Delta and what I heard of Perfume Genius and Son Lux.

TV

πŸ˜”

I caught up on Dark Matter, which is still one of my favorite shows. I’m disappointed it was cancelled after season 3, especially since there were some major unresolved plotlines. Apparently a season 4 can’t happen anytime soon, but I’d be content with a comic version like Jericho got.

πŸ™‚

Now I’m catching up on season 2 of The OA. I like that they’ve introduced another mystery in addition to continuing the story from the first season.

Posted in Apologetics, Coding project generator, Movies, Music, TV, Weeknotes | 2 Comments

Weeknote for 5/12/2019

Coding project generator

😐

I finally got moving on this … if “moving” can mean being immediately sidetracked by a massive dependency update and the total failure of all my tests. I think I know how to fix them now, but yeah, most of last week was spent debugging. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything different after leaving this project untouched for two years in the ever-changing Node.js ecosystem. I don’t think even Yeoman, the project generation library I’m using, has kept up.

Life maintenance

πŸ™‚

To procrastinate on debugging, I organized my hundreds of books. The bookcase books are nicely arranged on their shelves now, and I’ve separated out the books I’d already planned to sell and organized the rest in boxes for storage.

Next I’m going to do some purging. I got rid of a bunch of books a few years ago in a big push to organize my old apartment. But my interests and book buying and reading patterns have changed enough that it turns out I still have quite a few books to remove.

Apologetics

πŸ€”

I’m inching my way through Craig Keener’s 2-volume, 1200-page Miracles. My Kindle can’t decide how much time I have left in the book. Somewhere between 30 and 40 hours. Luckily I can skip about 40% of the book because it’s taken up by indexes and a bibliography. I’ll wait till I’m done to give my impressions of it.

Music

😎

Last week’s drones featured a ton of noise music. I agree with the general premise that noise can be musical, but most of what I heard didn’t appeal to me. I’d rather listen to musical noise that isn’t so caustic.

  • Chaos Is The Cosmos” by C.C.C.C. – Mainly what I like is the title. It gives the track an evocative context. I imagine supernovas and volcanic planets and mythological chaos monsters.
  • Merzbow – I didn’t enjoy this artist, but the amount he’s produced is impressive. One might even say ridiculous.
  • Poisoned Soil by House of Low Culture – This album was interesting, basically Gregorian chant with added noise.
  • Cisfinitum – This is a noise artist I could get into. Each song has a distinct character, and they’re calm enough that I can contemplate them or just experience them without my ears being in defensive mode.

I finished adding music to the playlist, but I’m still catching up on listening, so I’ll have one more update on it next week.

I was playing on the worship team this weekend, and in my continuing side project of getting a handle on jazz organ, I revisited the Hammond B3 Organ playlist I found a while back. I paid more attention this time, listening for patterns I could easily pull off. It gave me an appreciation for the expressiveness of this instrument and the ways it combines with the rest of a jazz band.

I also started looking at the gospel patterns in Mark Harrison’s Pop Piano Book.

Posted in Apartment, Apologetics, Books, Coding project generator, Life maintenance, Music, Weeknotes | Leave a comment

Weeknote for 5/5/2019

Life maintenance

πŸ™‚

After eight months of living at this apartment, I’m finally unpacking my books. The apartment is looking much nicer with the books on the shelves, and now I won’t have to dig around in boxes to find the one I want.

Once my apartment is in a presentable state, I’ll ask the maintenance people to look at my oven, which has had an annoying electrical problem since I moved in.

Coding project generator

😐

I kinda didn’t make any progress on this. I mostly dragged out the retrospective on my previous project, and then Saturday was taken up with comics. I still have two weeks in this project month, but I’ll probably extend the generator into next month.

Software development

😐

I finished 24 Deadly Sins of Software Security. I only grasped bits and pieces, but it should be a good resource to study when I add security considerations to my notes on software development.

Next is another security book, The Architecture of Privacy. This one is written at a less technical level, so it should be a little easier to follow. Maybe now I’ll understand GDPR.

Comics

😎

Saturday was Free Comic Book Day. As usual I made it my once-a-year comics event. I went to my two comic stores in the morning, had lunch with Jeremy, saw Avengers: Endgame, and went to Half Price Books for more comics. Then I tacked on a non-comic-related trip to a forest preserve for a car picnic dinner and a walk.

Movies

πŸ™‚

Well, all those people praising Avengers: Endgame were right. It had feels, each scene captured my attention, and the three hours flew by. It definitely felt like an ending. I kind of didn’t want the story to continue after that. But one of the movie’s themes is that life goes on, and so too will the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Up next (after Spider-Man: Far From Home) is a whole five years of Phase Four.

TV

πŸ™‚

I caught up on Star Trek: Discovery season 2, and it continues to be good. I’m very curious about where they’re going to take things next season, since the ending of this one was a rather drastic turn in the plot.

Music

😎

Drone music that stood out from last week’s collecting:

  • Organ2/ASLSP, John Cage – This piece wins the prize for droniness. It’s currently being played in a church in Halberstadt, Germany, in a performance where each note lasts months. The whole thing is scheduled to take 639 years.
  • I Was A Prisoner In Your Skull,” Swans – The interesting part of this one was less the drones and more the mysterious phone message at the end (language warning, if you care about such things). There’s some analysis of it in this thread. It makes me curious about the rest of the band’s work.
  • Hurdy Hurry,” Phill Niblock – A lot of this one reminds me of the suburban neighborhood drones of things like lawnmowers. These kinds of sounds relax me. I like to listen to recordings of them.
Posted in Apartment, Books, Coding project generator, Comics, Life maintenance, Movies, Music, Software development, TV, Weeknotes | 2 Comments

Weeknote for 4/28/2019

Easter

πŸ™‚

Part 2 of Easter weekend with my brother, who was in town to visit.

Sunday morning Michael came back from his all-night Easter Vigil and sunrise service, and after an hour or less, we walked out the door to go to the regular Easter service at the same church. I found that the apologetics books I’d been listening to actually did help, and I felt more spiritually open and grounded than I have in quite a while.

After church we went to lunch with Jeremy’s family at our usual place for barbecue and caught up on each other’s lives.

After lunch was another nap, and then dinner with Tim. It was a very typical Tim dinner, both in the restaurant choice and in our conversation. I was glad my brother got to be in on it and see a bit more of my everyday life.

Then Michael drove home, and I worked on my experimental literature list.

Last week I forgot to mention that after lunch on Saturday, we strolled through a nearby bookstore that had relocated to my favorite shopping center. A recent tweet thread from another bookstore reminded me that supporting local brick-and-mortar bookstores is good, so I wanted to check it out. It was a nice little place. I’ll probably try to buy from them for some of my experimental literature collection.

Experimental literature

😎

It was originally due the weekend before, but I decided to extend this project through last week. It took almost all Saturday night again, but I reached my goal for this phase, which was filling in the sections that had no links. Here’s all the stuff I changed in the last week, and below the comparison is the article as it looks now. It’s not in its ideal state, but I’m pretty pleased with this phase of the project.

Next time I’ll add authors and works to sections that only have topic links.

Comics

πŸ™‚

The experimental literature links included some comics. So I linked to those sections from my comic reading strategy guide.

This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. Remember to go to your local comic store and pick up some free comics!

Coding project generator

😐

This week at last I can get back to my generator. I have a longish list of things to do for it, but since I regularly bite off more than I can chew, I need to lower my expectations and prioritize and so on. But this project is important and needs to get off my plate. So if I don’t finish it this month, I’ll probably make it next month’s project too.

Apologetics

πŸ€”

I finished Eddy and Boyd’s The Jesus Legend, an answer to various theories that Jesus either didn’t exist or was much different than the New Testament’s picture of him. Some helpful things I picked up from this book:

  • First-century Jews were very resistant to Hellenization, so they weren’t likely to adopt Greek myths.
  • There’s some decent evidence from outside the Bible for Jesus’ existence and basic features of the Gospel narratives, especially from Tacitus.
  • First-century Palestine had an oral culture, and we know a lot more about those now than in earlier days of historical Jesus studies. Oral traditions are more stable and reliable than we thought. NT scholars are only beginning to take this into account.
  • People in antiquity weren’t as credulous as we tend to think.
  • Against the idea that the Gospels are a kind of midrashic fiction: (1) The midrashic method didn’t creation fictional events, only interpreted real ones. (2) If the Gospel writers were going to create events based on biblical traditions, they would likely have created more straightforward correspondences than they ended up with.
  • There’s apparently a trend in anthropology to admit that supernatural things happen among the people they study.

However, last week I also finished listening to Steve Shives’ YouTube series responding to Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, and I noticed that there’s a skeptical perspective on the New Testament that Eddy and Boyd don’t cover. That’s the idea that the early Christian leaders were outright frauds.

Maybe mainstream historians tend to dismiss this way of thinking about the documents they study. That’s the impression I get from reading these apologetics books. But listening to Shives, I realized the skeptical community spends a lot of its time debunking hoaxes, so for them it’s a natural suspicion.

So that’s my next question to address–were the early Christian leaders charlatans?

Software development

πŸ™‚

Since I’m on a programming project now, I’m taking the opportunity to finish my software development reading list. I have two more books. The first one is 24 Deadly Sins of Software Security, which is turning out to be very practical. I wasn’t sure if I’d get anything out of listening, since software security gets into unfamiliar technical areas, but so far I’m able to pick up on the general ideas, and it’s teaching me things I didn’t know.

Podcasts

πŸ™‚

Speaking of programming, did you know there’s software that lets you create scripts to automate the programs you use, even if you’re not a programmer? This is a topic I’ve been wondering about. I’m used to thinking about writing my own programs to automate things, but I know there are tools out there like the iOS Shortcuts app and the IFTTT website that let you tie together a bunch of other programs and trigger actions in them and move data back and forth between them.

While researching how to do some of this–making PDFs using Shortcuts–I stumbled across a podcast called Automators and its forum. It’s about using software to automate things in your life. I downloaded all the episodes and started listening.

Music

😎

I finished another long project last week, filtering someone’s playlist of ambient music to isolate the drone tracks. Then I sifted through that one to decide which ones to buy. After that I took a couple of trips to my favorite forest preserve to test those songs as a soundtrack to my twilight nature walks, and some of them fit nicely.

In all my filtering I’m not sure I stuck to the drone concept, so now I’m collecting and listening to the examples from the Wikipedia article on drone music. That should give me a better sense of the genre’s range.

Some examples that have stood out to me so far:

  • David Hykes, Hearing Solar Winds – This is the most otherworldly music I’ve ever heard. It put me in a surreal mood.
  • Philip Glass, Music with Changing Parts – When it comes to minimalism, I’m more of a Steve Reich kind of person. This is the most Steve Reich I’ve heard Philip Glass.
  • Pink Floyd, Meddle, especially “Fearless” and “Echoes” – I tried listening to Pink Floyd long ago, but it was too wild and psychedelic for me. I was surprised to like this album and their others in this playlist.
  • Coil, Time Machines – They were trying to replicate drug trips, and it kinda worked. My consciousness did feel a little altered.
  • vidnaObmana, “sediment” – This one disturbed me a bit. The vocals sound like a brooding Dalek.
  • vidnaObmana, “Techno-toxic embryo pt. 1” – This one disturbed me so much, listening to it turned into a test of endurance. It was almost physically painful. Which of course makes it fascinating.

Movies

πŸ€”

I haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame yet, but I’m thinking I’ll see it this coming weekend. First I want to finish watching Ant Man and the Wasp. I keep hearing Endgame is really good, so I will be folding my arms skeptically and challenging the movie to prove it.

Posted in Apologetics, Coding project generator, Comics, Experimental literature, Holidays, Movies, Music, Podcasts, Programming, Software development, Weeknotes | 1 Comment

Weeknote for 4/21/2019

Music

😎

At the beginning of the week, I played synth on our worship team at church. In our Saturday rehearsal the day before, our pianist, Sejeong, spontaneously reharmonized a couple of lines using an odd chord that worked perfectly. So after church I plunged down a little rabbit hole of research to learn about the kind of chord progression she’d used.

The reharmonization started with an F#/A#, which is the major mediant of the song’s key, D major. Searching YouTube for “major mediant” gave me some very informative videos:

So now I have a bunch of chords to play around with, plus some more music theory channels to explore.

That last channel comes with a band attached. Myles is the guitarist for Native Construct. I think of him as this year’s Jacob Collier–that is, a highly creative, theory-oriented composer who has recently caught my attention. Native Construct’s album, Quiet World, is technically supposed to be metal, but really they seem to cram every style they can into every song. The album also tells an interesting story, which you can read about in the band’s profile at their record label.

Experimental literature

😐

I did a bunch of work, especially toward the end of the week, but I didn’t quite get it posted. It’s nearly ready, so I’m going to finish that before moving to the next project.

Coding project generator

😐

This is May’s project. My goal is to get the program to version 1.0. If I don’t drag out the experimental literature update all week, I’ll get started on this one.

Web video

πŸ™‚

I watched the final video in Nick Nocturne’s series analyzing House of Leaves, which he uploaded last week. He did a good job of presenting the possible interpretations, which reveal themselves as you pull in more details and consider more levels of metafiction. He also did a rather inspiring job of tying the book in with universal human experience. I was not expecting such sweeping themes after I read the book.

This series increased my motivation to understand the methods of literary analysis better by studying commentators like Nick. That project will have to wait a while though. It did not increase my motivation to study House of Leaves itself. That’s why I listen to people like Nick, so I don’t have to spend all that time working it out for myself. But maybe once I learn more, I can do more of the analysis on my own.

People

πŸ™‚

Michael drove down for our annual Easter weekend visit. Friday we had lunch at The Patio and went to our usual Good Friday TaizΓ© service. I made us a little late, and by then all the programs were gone, but it turned out we knew the songs well enough and didn’t need them.

After that Michael went on to another (very long) Good Friday service, while I stayed home and worked on my experimental literature project. I have a limited tolerance for ceremony, so about two hours a day is my limit for church, unless I’m performing.

Saturday we slept in, then took walks in a couple of parks. One of them was the woods next to my apartment, which I’d been meaning to explore. They aren’t the prettiest woods, which might be why I never see people walking by. But it was nice to get a different perspective on my everyday surroundings.

The other park was basically down the road from me, and it was much nicer. I felt a little envious of the homes all around whose backyards opened onto it, but I was happy for them. It was hard not to be happy in such beautiful weather.

After that it was time for more naps, and then Michael left for his all-night Easter Vigil while I did almost an all-nighter on my experimental literature.

Next week I’ll talk about Easter.

Posted in Books, Coding project generator, Experimental literature, Holidays, Music, Social life, Videos, Weeknotes | 1 Comment