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, Updates | 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, Updates | 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, Updates | 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

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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, Updates, Videos | 1 Comment

Weeknote for 4/14/2019

Comics

😐

It turned out the kind of reading order I wanted to create would’ve taken way too much time. DC’s publishing history is just way too long and complicated for a week or two of effort. So I wrote a procedure for how someone could go about it if they wanted to take up that project. There are also existing resources, so I included some comments about those.

As for my own reading, I’ll probably follow the easy plan I suggested on that page. I’m a lot less ambitious than I was years ago when I first thought of this reading project. I’m more aware of how much time my other projects will take.

Half the reason for this project is to help me make decisions on the one day a year that I actually buy comics, Free Comic Book Day. Learning a little more about the events has helped me decide which ones are worth owning. If I buy something from DC, it’ll probably be DC Rebirth, Flashpoint, or something Convergence related. But maybe Legends, the event after Crisis on Infinite Earths, since I happened to see it in the store.

I have one more set of reading suggestions to make about comics, and they come in the form of my current project. The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature has a chapter on comics, so they get a section in my page of links. Once that section is posted, I’ll link to it from my comic reading strategy guide.

Experimental literature

😐

Last week I collected links for a few more sections, but I haven’t posted them yet. This week I’ll finish the work I’m doing for this sprint. Then I’ll move on to the next project, which will be my coding project generator.

Apologetics

πŸ€”

I finished Michael Licona’s The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, which argues that Jesus’ resurrection happened. The book clarified the issues for me, and it helped me whittle them down to the ones I care about. I already agree that we can say things about the past and that miracles can happen, so fortunately I don’t have to argue with myself about those.

Licona’s argument takes a minimal-facts approach. He uses the term “historical bedrock” to refer to the facts historians widely grant. When it comes to Jesus’ resurrection, the key facts in the bedrock are that Jesus was crucified and that people saw him alive afterward.

Using a consistent set of criteria, Licona evaluates several attempts to explain the historical bedrock. Mostly what we have to explain is Jesus’ appearances. We can dismiss the idea that he survived the crucifixion. Surviving crucifixion was very unlikely even with medical attention. So apart from the resurrection hypothesis, we’re basically left with the questionable idea of group hallucinations. Licona’s response to this explanation seemed ambiguous to me. Overall the psychological literature doesn’t support group hallucinations, but he gave a couple of examples that sort of do. So I want to look into that.

In response to Licona’s arguments, one obvious step a skeptic could take is to deny the historical bedrock. As I listened to the book, a post by John Loftus along those lines kept echoing in my mind. He basically argues that because the Gospels as a whole are unreliable, their resurrection narratives are too.

So now I’m listening to The Jesus Legend by Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory Boyd, which defends not only the reliability of the Synoptic Gospels but also Jesus’ historical existence itself. I like to make sure my bases are covered. This book is turning out to be more interesting to me than the resurrection one, since I’m less familiar with the arguments.

I’ve been weighing the idea of tackling Craig Keener’s large 2-volume work Miracles. Skeptics have some decent criticisms of it, which makes me hesitant to give it all that time. But the existence of modern miracles keeps coming up in these other books, and it makes me think a treatment like Keener’s is at least worth hearing. So that’ll probably be my next one after The Jesus Legend.

Easter

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Easter is this coming weekend. My brother is making his annual trip to my place for our traditional round of church services. Should be fun.

Posted in Apologetics, Comics, Experimental literature, Holidays, Updates | 2 Comments

Weeknote for 4/7/2019

Site update

πŸ™‚

Last Sunday I found out there’s a term for these updates I’ve been posting for the past couple of years. They’re called weeknotes (H/T Baldur Bjarnason). They’ve been around for a while, but apparently they’ve become more popular lately, and there’s a little community of people who post them. So I’ve decided to rebrand these updates so I can join them.

Comics

😐

I didn’t finish my comic reading order by the end of the week, so I decided to take a day or two more and then make myself post whatever I had. I’ll write about it in my next weeknote.

Experimental literature

😎

The rest of this project month I’m going back to last month’s project and adding the rest of the entries to my bibliography of experimental works. In a future phase I’ll add remarks to give people an idea of why they’d want to read them.

Spirituality

😐

I didn’t get around to posting about the audio Bible, but I still plan to. Hopefully that’ll happen this week or next week.

TV

πŸ™‚

People in my online circles have been excited about Jordan Peele’s revival of The Twilight Zone. It started last week, so I watched the two episodes they’ve released. They’re on CBS All Access, but they’ve put the first on YouTube so you can watch it for free.

I thought the stories had interesting premises and were fairly clever. But after the mind-bending stuff I normally consume, I ended up disappointed that the concepts and twists didn’t go further. I’m hoping I missed some layers of meaning that online commentators can reveal to me. Still, I’ll keep watching.

This is the first Jordan Peele product I’ve seen. I keep hearing good things about him, so I’m thinking of watching his films, even though, believe it or not, I’m very hesitant about watching horror.

Livestreams

😎

Friday I found myself unexpectedly captivated by a livestream of a bald eagle nest that was in my YouTube recommendations. Usually I find wildlife streams kind of boring because either it’s outside but there are no animals around or it’s a cage and the animals are doing nothing. This camera is outside with a clear, close-up view of a family of eagles–two adults and three babies. We get to see them live their normal lives in their natural environment.

And their environment is impressive. I put on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack as a backdrop, and it was very fitting. It’s especially impressive when you see a bird swooping across the peaks in the background and you realize it’s one of the parents coming home from their hunt.

But what really struck me was how ordinary these animals are and how different their lives are from mine. Sure, they look stern and fierce, but it didn’t take long to realize these are just birds doing birdy things. At times they reminded me of chickens. And their calls are a lot squeakier than I expected, like seagulls.

They spend a lot of their time just standing around. Probably keeping watch, guarding the nation. Or their own little nest, I suppose. (How can they live out in the open like that, I wondered, and in such a small home?) They don’t have Netflix to pass the time, but they also don’t have meetings to get to or playdates for the kids. They’re just living, being animals.

Doing my own hunting online I found some more information. The nest is a lot older than I thought. It’s housed several generations and has seen some drama.

Posted in Comics, Experimental literature, Livestreams, Site updates, Spirituality, TV, Updates | 2 Comments

Update for 3/31/2019

Comics

πŸ€”

My project for the first half of Thinkulum April is a reading order for DC comics’ crossover events. It might end up mostly being a big planning session. DC’s publication history is very complicated, and I’m not really sure what my project should look like. Last week I did a lot of writing to try to figure it out.

This week I’ll keep thinking through my plan. Maybe I’ll end up with something usable, or maybe I’ll just write a post that discusses the issues. In the meantime, it’s reassuring to know that the Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe understands my pain.

Next week I’m still intending to end the sprint on this project and go back to last month’s on experimental literature.

Spirituality

Audio Bible

πŸ™‚

After three weeks of listening, I finished the Message Remix audio Bible. I’m going to write about it in a separate post, but the summary version is (1) it goes into Andy’s approved audio Bible list, and (2) it was helpful.

Assurance

πŸ€”

Since I didn’t have enough to listen to last week, I decided to tack on a book I found at work called How Can I Be Sure I’m a Christian? by Donald Whitney. Assurance of salvation is an issue that comes up in my conversations sometimes, so I wanted to see if it would be a helpful book to share. Assurance is an important issue because it addresses not only the question of how Christians can feel good about their future but also the questions of the central message of Christianity and how Christians should be living their lives.

After listening to the book, my impression is that it gives a lot of good advice and merits further study, but it might contain inconsistencies, and it seemed to skim over some important topics, such as the possibility of false faith. Hopefully I can come back to the book for a closer look.

Apologetics

πŸ€”

I still have time for some Lent-oriented reading before Easter, so now I’m listening to Michael Licona’s book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. I’ve had it in mind to read for years, wanting to see how Licona would update William Lane Craig’s work.

I also felt it potentially held a key to renewing my spiritual life. The resurrection is a central issue for Christian apologetics, and if I felt more certain about the underpinnings of my faith, I’d feel freer to wade deeper in. So we’ll see how it goes.

Fiction

😎

For my birthday a few weeks ago, my sister got me some Bandcamp albums. I saw the notification email and then forgot to claim them till she reminded me last week. I’m glad she did, because they were very interesting.

They’re a pair–a music album and an accompanying audiobook by the same people, Jessy Calvin Ribordy and his band Falling Up. Both albums are called Hours. I think of the story as the central piece of the work (and it was released first), so that’s why I’m writing about it under Fiction.

I listened to the music first. Abbie told me it was very catchy, which it was, but what struck me was how every song made me feel like something epic was happening. That impression was based almost completely on the sound. I couldn’t hear many of the lyrics.

I knew nothing about the story going in. I didn’t even know the genre. I only had my sister’s high opinion of the author to make me think I’d enjoy it. It was very interesting to have that extra, meta layer of mystery to unravel as the story progressed. The story ended up being a very good match for my recent entertainment mood.

It’s also interesting to listen to the music again with the story in mind and let their moods–different but I think compatible–blend in my head.

People

πŸ™‚

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with church friend Ken, and he suggested sushi. The only time I’d had sushi was about 10 years ago, and it tasted weird and I decided maybe it wasn’t for me. But I like to keep an open mind, so I said yes to this plan, and we picked a place near work, and to my surprise I liked it. I think the earlier sushi might’ve had wasabi, which I now know does taste weird.

Since that lunch, I’ve had sushi cravings. But I think of it as a special occasion food, so I waited patiently for my next Ken lunch, which was Friday. We went back to the same place, and again it was delicious. So I guess sushi is a thing in my life now.

Posted in Apologetics, Bible, Comics, Fiction, Music, Social life, Spirituality, Updates | 1 Comment

Update for 3/24/2019

Experimental literature

😎

I finished my work on this project for March (technically a day late, on Sunday, but pretend I didn’t say that). I’ve posted the list at Experimental Literature Links. It’s meant to be a starting point for exploring works of experimental literature. I needed a more organized way to find them than the random searches I’d been doing.

The list is far from finished, and I don’t want to wait too long to add to it, so I’m going to try to finish up April’s project early so I can work on this one a bit more.

Since this month’s work on this project got started because a YouTuber I watch challenged us to read House of Leaves, I also wrote a post in his subreddit that summarized the discussions of House of Leaves in the book I’m working from, The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature. Of course the real point was to introduce people to my list. πŸ˜‰Β The post was its own mini-project. It took me 2-3 hours to write.

Comics

😎

April’s project will be an addition to my guide to navigating the world of comics. I want to assemble my DC reading list as an example of how the method works. The reason I’m doing this in April is to have an update to share with people before Free Comic Book Day on May 4.

I’m going to try to do this update in two weeks so I can return to my experimental literature list for the rest of the month.

Spirituality

πŸ™‚

I’m 2/3 through my audio Bible now. I should finish it on Friday. Then I’ll write a post to comment on what I heard.

Posted in Comics, Experimental literature, Spirituality, Updates | Leave a comment

Update for 3/17/2019

Experimental literature

πŸ€”

My goal in this project is to create a list of experimental works and links to other such lists. I’m basing the organization on a collection of scholarly essays, The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature. I got a bit done last week, trying out a method of collecting works by scanning the index so I can correlate the entries to the table of contents.

This is the last week for this project, so I’ll need to put a lot more time in. Fortunately my evenings are freer this week. I’ll also need to settle on my methods for the rest of the work as well as a deliverable I can live with for now. I have a feeling I’ll come back to this project in future months to improve it.

I’ve been listening to Arvo PΓ€rt while I work. He’s my main go-to music for experimental literature.

Spirituality

πŸ€”

This year my Lent activity is listening to the audio of the Message version of the Bible. Last week I got through the first third, Genesis-2 Kings (well, almost–I had to finish 2 Kings the next day).

I’ll wait till I’m done with the whole thing to post my thoughts, but so far I’d say it’s a good choice of audio Bible, a decent performance and mostly a very listenable paraphrase. The exercise is also bringing up a lot of my issues with the Bible, which is helpful.

Movies

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Tuesday I saw Captain Marvel with my geek meetup. I liked it about as well as I’ve liked all the other MCU movies. I knew nothing about the character going in, so the movie version is now my head canon. I especially liked the friendship between Carol and Maria and all the time we got to spend with Nick Fury. Then there was Captain Marvel’s burst of self-discovery near the end. And the mid-end-credits scene.

House of Leaves has put me in the mood for more weird fiction, so Saturday I watched Annihilation, which had been on my mind since I saw the trailer last year. I’d listened to the novels a few years ago, and they confused me enough that I was really looking forward to seeing a filmmaker’s interpretation. I was not disappointed. It was satisfyingly eerie and a much more straightforward variation on the plot, though it had its own mysteries to ponder. I might have to add the soundtrack to my dark ambient collection.

People

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It seems I’ve been a little more social lately. I’ve had lunch with a friend from church a couple of times in the past month, one of which was Tuesday. It turns out his son posts music transcriptions and original compositions on MuseScore.com, which is where I’ve been putting my exercises, so that was kind of motivating.

It was nice to see my geek meetup Tuesday night. I hadn’t been to any events in a while, and I ended up having a good conversation with the former organizer about happenings in the world of church.

And I’ve joined another board game group run by a coworker, this one in the evening once a month. Jeremy and I went to it on Friday. I won BΓ€renpark and came in last in Queendomino. I like it when the domains of my life mix, so it was fun to introduce my church friend to my work friend.

Posted in Experimental literature, Movies, Social life, Spirituality, Updates | 2 Comments

Update for 3/10/2019

Music

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Tuesday I took the afternoon off from work, took a long nap, and then headed out to see Jacob Collier in concert.

I came in with only vague expectations, but he met and exceeded them. He was creative, energetic, and uplifting, and he got the audience singing. For “In My Room,” he even had us sit on the floor (the lower level had no chairs) and sing along while the band sat on the edge of the stage, like we were at a big campfire. Like this but in Chicago:

When I think “live version” of a song, I think of just a messier rendition of the studio recording. But that wouldn’t do for Jacob Collier. No, his live versions are completely different arrangements. For example, here’s the album version of “In the Real Early Morning.” And here’s someone’s video of the live version. I wouldn’t be surprised if he improvised it on the spot. Here are some other clips to give you the flavor of the rest of the show.

It was a good experience, and Lincoln Hall did a good job of advertising their other artists. I’m thinking of looking them up to see who might bring me back.

I didn’t really do anything else for my birthday, which was on Thursday, except for getting a bunch of nice birthday messages (thank you!). But I’m considering the concert my celebration, and it was plenty!

Thinking

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To get me through the drive to the concert, I started the audiobook of Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile. Antifragility is the property of benefiting from disorder, as opposed to being damaged by it (fragility) or simply being resistant to it (robustness). I finished the book on Saturday.

It was good, but I wouldn’t say great. I enjoyed his opinionated, gratuitously insulting style in Black Swan, but in Antifragile it seemed extra gratuitous, and I got tired of it quickly. And a lot of his supporting examples sounded like matters of personal preference. A lot of others were based merely on his rules of thumb, which doesn’t count as evidence. But the general idea of antifragility seems like an important one, so I’d like to look into it further.

Despite his snark and combativeness, I did find some personal qualities to admire. He comes across as having a strong sense of ethics. Practicing what you preach (having “skin in the game”) is a key part of his message, he feels it his duty to call out fraud, and he values helping the weak. With all that, I felt more inspired to act with integrity and generosity.

Spirituality

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I’m not doing a great job at keeping up with the liturgical year like I intended, so I’m downgrading that project to my usual level of inattention. Maybe I’ll try again next year.

Lent crept up on me, and I didn’t realize it was Ash Wednesday till my coworker walked in with ashes on his forehead. I hadn’t planned any Lent practices, but I decided it’d be a good time to listen to the audio Bible my brother gave me for Christmas, The Message Remix. It’s The Message read by Kelly Ryan Dolan but with certain sections read by different Christian celebrities. I requested that version so the reading would have some variety.

I’m going to try my high intensity listening pace with this Bible. That amounts to two hours a day, spread over my commutes and meals plus a little extra. At 2x speed The Message Remix is about 40 hours, so it should take me three weeks to get through it. That fits into Lent nicely.

The quickest I’ve gotten through an audio Bible in the past is 90 days. Here are some reflections from one of those listens. I’m curious to see how my impressions this time compare.

Software development

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I finished Refactoring Databases. I love databases as a programming tool, but I don’t know enough about them to evaluate this book fairly, so I’m taking other people’s word for it that it’s great. If nothing else, this one and the other books in the evolutionary distributed software architecture family give me a starting point for learning more about these topics.

Coding project generator

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Not only did I put this project on hold to get through House of Leaves, I’ve taken it off this month’s agenda altogether in favor of a different project, which I’ll tell you about in the Fiction section. And then I have another project in mind for April, so I’m planning to get back to the project generator in May.

Fiction

House of Leaves

😎

Last week I pushed myself through reading the 700-page novel House of Leaves. It’s a classic of the found footage horror genre. I read it for a challenge posed by a YouTuber named Nick Nocturne, a lead-up to the first in his series of videos analyzing the book. It’s definitely an R-rated book, but if you don’t mind that and you like having your mind twisted in metafictional knots, it’s a good one. According to Nick, it has inspired and shaped a lot of creative work in the genre.

If this had been an audiobook, reading it in nine days would’ve been no problem. But print reading is difficult for me because I’m so easily sidetracked, and I slow way down when I’m bored. But I remembered I have a trick–I time each page with the stopwatch on my phone, and that keeps me focused enough to maintain a nice pace. After a while of that at the beginning, I realized the story was carrying me along on its own, so then I read normally, and I only had to use the trick a couple of times after that.

The other trouble was setting aside the time to read. I haven’t really solved that yet. But somehow despite days of very little reading mixed with a few multi-hour sessions, I got through the whole thing by Saturday evening.

The dark ambient music from my Pandora station was a fitting backdrop to the novel. I ended up mostly listening to a playlist on my phone that was derived from the station.

Experimental literature

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That leads me to my project for the rest of this month. Nick has been very involved in the House of Leaves Challenge, retweeting the participants and putting their book photos in his video. He even retweeted my link to my dark ambient station.

So I was thinking my fellow House of Leaves readers might like some pointers to more experimental literature, and this would be a perfect opportunity to finish a project I started two years ago to collect such a list. My starting point is The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature. It should be easy enough to finish the project in the next couple of weeks. I don’t know how much attention it’ll get, but it’ll at least be worth it for my own reading.

Posted in Coding project generator, Experimental literature, Fiction, Music, Software development, Spirituality, Thinking, Updates | 2 Comments