Weeknote for 10/17/2021

Programming

😐

I got through most of unit 2 in Get Programming with Haskell. I’d like to get through unit 4 before I take another break. That’s when the author says you’ll know enough to use the language for weekend projects. Hopefully I can get to that point by the end of next week.

Sustainability

😎

I continued my random crash course on sustainability. Last week what stood out was learning about the many uses of mycelium and listening to some very informative podcasts: The Climate Pod by a couple of entertaining green energy businesspeople, The Climate Question by the BBC, and How We Survive by my favorite tech reporter, Molly Wood. I’m also trying to work out my basic stance on environmentalism. I think I’m in the camp of ecomodernism and bright green environmentalism, though I need to look further into the issue of overshoot.

Movies

πŸ™‚

I rewatched The Martian to remind myself how it visualized the story. It was surprisingly effective at romanticizing such a barren and hostile planet with sweeping vistas and orchestral swells. As usual I turned on the subtitles and the audio description. I find I benefit from a full sensory experience, which is why the movie helps. The biggest example was that listening to the audiobook I basically tuned out the whole Earth flyby part of the plan, but watching the movie it was very clear what they were doing. And the audio description points out little details I would miss on my own, like the palm trees in the background of the 20th Century Fox logo.

People

πŸ™‚

Saturday I had lunch with my brother, who was in town for a wedding. We talked about environmentalism and education, and we commented on the nice farmer’s market-like design of the restaurant, though we were underwhelmed with the food we ordered.

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Weeknote for 10/10/2021

Christmas labels

😐

I got started on the Christmas labels. I didn’t spend a lot of time on it, thanks to procrastination and preoccupation with other issues (see the next section), but I got over the hurdle of starting and gave myself a basis for the next sprint.

This week I’m returning to my Haskell learning project so I don’t forget about it, but I’ll probably alternate between these two projects until the labels are done, with maybe some detours into practical projects, such as my productivity system update.

Sustainability

πŸ˜•

I gained a new awareness of the systemic crises we find ourselves in. It all started Sunday night when I couldn’t sleep. I made the mistake of scrolling through Reddit and got caught in a vortex of posts on the imminent collapse of civilization. Normally I’d just think, “Hm, nice theory,” and keep scrolling, but it seems current events had primed me enough that this time I couldn’t look away. I spent the first half of the week researching and paralyzing myself with anxiety over ecological overshoot and the climate crisis.

Wednesday night I pulled myself away from the doomsayers to listen to activists, and I was able to calm down and feel a bit more hopeful. And the next couple of days I tried to distract myself with Person of Interest while thinking about how a bunch of the scenery will probably be underwater someday.

So I suppose you could say I’ve had my climate change moment. It’s made everyday life feel uncomfortably surreal and impermanent. But hanging out in a work meeting at the end of the week reminded me of the power of socializing to make life feel more normal and manageable.

I’m continuing to explore the issues around sustainability, especially the debate on degrowth, and I’m looking for ways to track the news on these topics and ways to make myself useful. My interests wander quite a bit, so after somewhat recovering from the initial shock, I can’t even say if I’ll be thinking about this in a month. But as often happens, I feel that I’ve crossed a threshold of attention on the topic, and so even if it leaves, it’ll be coming back around. Sustainability is now in orbit.

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Weeknote for 10/3/2021

Programming

πŸ™‚

I finished Get Programming with Haskell unit 1. I’ve had to wrestle with a couple of questionable exercises, but overall the book is still good, and I’m looking forward to the rest of it. It will have to wait a bit, sadly.

Christmas labels

😐

The time has come again to start on my secret gift labels for Christmas. I’ll work on them this week and then see if I’ve gotten far enough to put the rest off till after Haskell.

Fiction

πŸ™‚

I’ve assembled some of my Victorian horror reading list. My Octobers have become Halloween and Christmas season at the same time. Here’s what I have so far:

  • Edward Bulwer-Lytton: “The House and the Brain”
  • Wilkie Collins: “The Dead Alive,” “The Dream-Woman,” “Mad Monkton,” “A Terribly Strange Bed”
  • Charles Dickens: “The Signalman,” “The Trial for Murder”
  • Amelia B. Edwards: “The Discovery of the Treasure Isles,” “The Recollections of Professor Henneberg”
  • George Eliot: “The Lifted Veil”
  • William Makepeace Thackeray: “Bluebeard’s Ghost”

These are British from mid-century. Next I’ll add some Americans from that period, Poe from earlier, and some others from later. I’ve also started listening with Wilkie Collins’ “A Terribly Strange Bed” and “Mad Monkton.” I’m thinking I’ll comment on the stories in batches like I did with the drone music project.

Coffee

πŸ™‚

Barissimo French Roast Ground Coffee: 4/5. It’s darker than I normally go for, but I didn’t have to struggle to make it good.

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Weeknote for 9/26/2021

Programming

😎

I got through lesson 7 of Get Programming with Haskell. At this rate I should be done in five more weeks, though I’ll take some breaks for other projects. I’m having a much easier time with this book, so I think I can complete it without much trouble. Haskell exercises are kinda fun. They’d make good puzzle books.

I’m dipping my toe into Linux with The Linux Command Line by William Schotts. Haskell and Org mode have put me back in touch with what I think of as “the magic of text,” so I’d like to take another stab at getting to know command-line Linux. Linux does have graphical interfaces that look a lot like Windows, but to me realΒ Linux means typing. Incanting, you could say.

I’m dipping my toe into software correctness with Practical TLA+ by Hillel Wayne. I found his blog a while back, and I think of it as my keyhole into this important field. After my last foray into software development literature where I learned the many, many ways software can go wrong, I’m finding it necessary to wrap my programs in several layers of straightjackets. But I don’t really know how, so that’s where Hillel Wayne comes in.

Fiction

πŸ™‚

A Charles Dickens project at work put me in the mood for Victorian ghost stories. I think that’ll be my theme for this year’s October, though vampires might also make an appearance. I’m looking through ST Joshi‘s Unutterable Horror for Victorian recommendations, and I’m looking for LibriVox recordings of the ones I pick.

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Weeknote for 9/19/2021

Programming

πŸ€”

This week I’m trying out another Haskell intro book, Get Programming with Haskell by Will Kurt. Chapters 4 and 5 of Haskell Programming from First Principles slowed me way down, and the pace wasn’t going to work for my time frame. Plus my frustration with the book was growing. I hope to keep working through it, but I need a tour of the language that’s less abstract. After several obsessive hours of research this weekend, I have some more options, and I’ll start with Will Kurt.

😎

Kanban by David Anderson offers a quantitative approach to process improvement. It’s tied with Lean Software Development for my favorite Agile book so far. I’m looking forward to finding all my bottlenecks and setting my work-in-progress limits.

Space

πŸ™‚

Space Is Open for Business by Robert Jacobson is a wide-ranging and inspiring survey of the present and future of the global space economy. Especially interesting were the chapters on the influence of science fiction. The book sparked more thoughts on how I might involve myself in space someday. In the meantime, it gives me a broader basis for researching how to keep track of this field.

I watched the SpaceX Inspiration4 charity space launch benefiting St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I haven’t really been keeping up with launches lately, so I caught it by accident, and it was worth sticking around for, a beautiful launch, complete with jellyfish effect. It was the first all-civilian spaceflight. Imagine having a day job and then moonlightingβ€”as an astronaut. One of the crew, Hayley Arceneaux, is a physician’s assistant at St. Jude and a childhood cancer survivor. I think as a fundraiser it was very well done.

Religion

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I’m putting Christianity in context with Introduction to World Religions, edited by Christopher Partridge. I was planning on putting off my next religious investigations until I’d looked more into rationality, but events have led me into counter-apologetics YouTube, and my boss has been luring me into the world of David Bentley Hart. I’ll check out his Experience of God at some point. But for now I want to get the broad sweep of religious thought.

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Weeknote for 9/12/2021

Programming

πŸ™‚

I got through chapter 3 of Haskell Programming from First Principles. I’ll continue with the book this week. Even though the book is long, optimistically I think I can get through it in a couple of months total, although that’s probably the planning fallacy talking. The exercises are very helpful, so I’m glad I switched from a book that didn’t have any. Still, Learn You a Haskell taught me enough that I can recognize a lot of the syntax, and it’s nice to know I haven’t immediately forgotten everything.

Lean Software Development by Mary and Tom Poppendieck analyzes agile development from a production process perspective. The key task in the Lean framework is to eliminate waste from your workflow, and its practices generally derive from that. My workflows have a lot of waste, so I’ve been paying close attention to this framework. Especially helpful is the practice of set-based development, where you explore your options so you don’t lock yourself in to an ineffective or inefficient solution just because it’s the first one you thought of.

Math

😎

Humble Bundle has put math on my mind. Over the long weekend I bought a Humble Book Bundle on math by publisher Morgan & Claypool. While researching the bundle’s book on proofs, I ran across the very interesting blog of one of the authors, Daniel Ashlock, a university professor on a quest to improve Canada’s math education. His TEDx talk summarizes a lot of his themes, such as the place of calculus in the curriculum, which interested me because I’m on a quest to self-educate in math, and I’m mapping out my own curriculum. Also helpful is his series on the “Islands of Mathematics.” This has all reignited my interest in exploring math, and various trains of thought on the subject have continued on their way from where I left them.

Movies

πŸ€”

The Seventh Seal explores life in the context of death. The premise is a Swedish knight, Antonius Block, returning home from a crusade while the Black Death is sweeping the country, so death and doom are all around. The film covers a lot of themes, but the ones that stood out to me were Block’s struggle with doubt and the portrayal of Death as a character.

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Weeknote for 9/5/2021

Programming

πŸ€”

I’m taking the plunge into Haskell Programming from First Principles by Chris Allen and Julie Moronuki. I surveyed a bunch of learning resources and decided it had the best chance of not frustrating and confusing me. The authors meant it to be a careful exercise in pedagogy, and it seems well regarded by other Haskell learners. My plan is to make a serious attempt to study the book but to intersperse it with other projects, because it’s 1200 pages. Before launching into that, though, I’ll quickly read one or two shorter resources for an overview of the language.

Fiction

😎

Andy Weir’s The Martian made me want to be an engineer. It was free on Audible through September 3, so after much procrastinating I turned it on and got through it at the last minute. It’s funny, nailbiting, inspiring, and very nerdy. And Wil Wheaton is a perfect narrator for it. I always appreciate help visualizing the stories I hear and read (I was grateful to find a map), so I’ll rewatch the movie soon to remind myself of Hollywood’s interpretation.

Space

😎

Spaceflight: A Concise History by Michael Neufeld gave me context for all the disconnected pieces of space exploration I’ve seen throughout my life. The Martian got me back in a space mood, so I’m taking the opportunity for the space book theme I’ve had on my agenda. I have one on current space endeavors to listen to, but first I wanted to rewind to the beginning. Neufeld’s book was just the kind of perspective I needed to adjust my perceptions. For example, I grew up with the Space Shuttle and always thought of it as the essence of NASA. But no, it was basically a long-running but failed experiment at saving money through reuse, and it came after other significant phases in NASA’s history and alongside other important programs.

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Weeknote for 8/29/2021

Programming

πŸ€”

I’m reevaluating my approach to learning Haskell. I should get used to that, because I’m trying to learn continuous improvement, so I’ll always be reevaluating. Last week I decided to create a practice project for learning the language. Here’s the Github repo. But the careful way I was proceeding was way too slow, so I need a way to speed it up. That will involve either being less thorough or picking a shorter source to learn from. So this week I’ll look at my options and then keep going in some direction. I’ll probably also give myself a more specific deadline for this project.

Extreme Programming Explained by Kent Beck and Cynthia Andres gave me another look at the gist of XP. It was good for background info, underlying principles, and a few ideas for implementation, but for detailed guidance you really have to look other places. Maybe Ward’s Wiki.

Analysis Patterns by Martin Fowler covers a mix of topics around the concept of domain models in software. It’s hard for me to get excited about object-oriented programming right now, but I think parts of the book will still be worth studying when I get back into my modeling project. It reminded me that object modeling is different from ontology engineering, which is closer to what I’m after.

Productivity

πŸ€”

I’m considering going full nerd and moving my productivity system to Org-mode for Emacs. I’d been looking into Notion, but it doesn’t really let me mix tasks and notes the way I want, and it’s not scriptable enough to let me add that kind of functionality. Org-mode is very scriptable, so I’m curious what I can do with it. Of course, this means I have a new learning curve to deal with for both Emacs and Org-mode, but for the right productivity tool, a learning curve can be worth it. It would also give me an excuse to learn Scheme, the functional programming language Org-mode uses for its scripting.

Coffee

😐

Barissimo Guatemala Medium Roast: 3/5. It was a little sour a little too often.

People

πŸ™‚

After several months, on Friday night I had another picnic with my friend Tim. This time it was at the woods near my home. A bunch of mosquitos thought they were also invited. On our walk back we saw a skunk that luckily did not think it was invited.

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Weeknote for 8/22/2021

Today’s weeknote catches me in the middle of a bunch of things rather than at the end when I usually like to report them, so I’ll just run through them quickly.

Programming

πŸ™‚

I got through the first three-and-a-half chapters of Learn You a Haskell. I’ve decided Haskell will be helpful enough for my other projects that I want to focus on it for a while, so this week I’ll continue with the book, and possibly every week until I finish it. Last week I tried a pattern of reading and highlighting the book one day and then reviewing the previous day’s highlights the next day. At the end of the week I started trying out what I’d covered. This week I’ll try reviewing by coding rather than just rereading, which seems more efficient.

I’ve been casting about for a new theme for my reading, and it seems software development is it. At work I’m juggling several books on several topics to help us plan a new direction for our in-house tools. At home I’m listening to a book I just bought, Analysis Patterns by one of my favorite writers, Martin Fowler. It turns out this was his first book.

Productivity

πŸ€”

I’m starting to think about streamlining my life maintenance. My overall productivity system goal is to maximize my time for projects while staying on top of my other tasks. I’m not fully satisfied with the way I’m handling those, but I’m starting to think about how I can streamline them so I can reach the primary goal of maximizing my project time. This is motivated by my weekly consternation that my project has been crammed into the last 15 minutes of each day (not literally, but close enough).

I’m continuing to add new timers for everyday routines, and they continue to be extremely helpful. I’ve also been adding more medium and short variations so I can adapt to derailed schedules with less thought.

I continue to think about single-machine scheduling. A simple sort of the tasks on importance, deadline, and duration still seems very useful, but beyond that I’m returning to the idea of treating my life as a business and managing my tasks as a program of projects. Once I get back to this project, I’ll explore what kind of system I can set up in Notion using their new timeline feature that brings them closer to a traditional project management app.

Cooking

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I’m thinking about how to streamline my cooking. I’ve revived my project idea of writing a little program to calculate the cheapest and quickest way to meet my daily nutritional needs (while still eating real food instead of resorting to something like Soylent). I’m not sure when I’ll fit this in.

Nature

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My latest walks in the woods have showed me it’s time to upgrade my photography setup. I’m eyeing the Camera+ 2 app to let me focus on small objects in the foreground, since interesting spiders are not actually blurry in real life.

People

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I spoke with my friend Tim on Saturday, and we may be restarting our regular get-togethers soon. Hopefully we’ll be going on a bunch of walks, since that’s something he likes to do too.

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Weeknote for 8/15/2021

Productivity

πŸ™‚

I set up a table of fake tasks to help me experiment with scheduling algorithms. I’m hoping they’ll help me automate more of my task management so I can spend less time and mental energy reviewing my to-do lists. My first approach was to order the tasks by finding a simple way to sort them. I started out with columns for due date, importance, time required, and prerequisite task. The basic sorting on the first three columns was easy, and from that result it was immediately clear that the task dependencies would be harder to incorporate and that I also needed to include the amount of time available. I’ll pick this back up after I get somewhere with Haskell, and I’ll probably use the scheduling script to practice.

To impose even more order on my life, I made a timer for my whole weekday evening schedule. It worked out really well the one day I tried it, and if I can keep it up, I’ll actually be able to fit in some side projects. That day I was able to get started on one of my creative projects, working with Keri Smith’s The Pocket Scavenger. The weekends are harder to schedule because they have both more variety and more time to fill. My approach there is to create a template timer with a bunch of typical blocks and make modifications on a copy to fit the particular day.

Programming

😎

This week I’m focusing on learning Haskell. My general goals with Haskell are to dive deep into the functional paradigm, give myself a potentially easier way to program, shape my thoughts on modeling, and explore a functional approach to math. Functional programming has taken over my mind lately, so I’ve been looking forward to this project.

AI

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On Intelligence is a more workable summary of Hawkins’ theory. This is Jeff Hawkins’ earlier book on neuroscience, and it was much more satisfying to me. My guesses about the way the mind works overlap a lot with his, so I’m looking forward to exploring his work programmatically (when I get around to it). A glance at Goodreads told me people aren’t shy about disagreeing with him, so I’m also interested to read their criticisms.

TV

😎

The Orville is a fantastic show, especially for fans of TNG. I caught up on it last week, and I’m pleased to say it just gets better and better. It’s fun to watch them take a Star Trek premise and veer off in another direction.

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