Update for 1/13/2019

Health

πŸ€”

I had my Remicade infusion on Tuesday to manage my ulcerative colitis. Thanks mostly to my insurance, I’d had a two-week gap in my treatments, and my condition had declined noticeably. I’d say my symptoms have improved only 40-50%, so I’m still doing some extra doses of my supplementary medicine. I might make an appointment to see what my gastro doctor has to say.

Politics

πŸ€”

Last week my distraction topic of choice was the rationalist community and its associates. Reddit hooked me with another post criticizing people linked with the LessWrong website. I ended up at some interesting critiques of Bayesianism.

After descending down that rabbit hole for a while, I decided to take a closer look at a community that tends to hang around the rationalists, the neoreactionary movement, which, roughly speaking, is part of the alt-right. They basically want to bring back old societal values and institutions such as racism and monarchy.

I find their viewpoint distasteful enough that I usually avoid reading about it. But since my own ignorance annoys me and I was procrastinating on other things, it seemed like the right time to dive in. Luckily the good people at RationalWiki had done the research for me, so I read their overview article, and then I read Scott Alexander’s two posts explaining the movement and rebutting it. Very enlightening.

TV

πŸ™‚

To make use of my new HD TV, I’ve been catching up on Star Trek: Discovery. The new season starts on Thursday. After the first episode or two, back when the first season came out, I wasn’t sure what I’d think. The dialogue’s quality was very lacking. But I’m impressed with how good the show became over the course of the season. I’m especially enjoying Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham and Doug Jones as Saru.

Gift labels

😐

My remaining task on this project is the retrospective, where I analyze how it went. I meant to finish it two weeks ago. Last week I managed to stop procrastinating enough to outline it. Maybe I’ll make even more progress this week!

Posted in Health, Politics, TV | Leave a comment

Update for 1/6/2019

2019 has started out strangely for me. Last week featured epic levels of procrastination and intestinal dysfunction.

Conceptual modeling

😎

With an extra long blog post, a project retrospective, and some apartment tidying on my agenda for last week, I found it necessary to procrastinate. It turned out I found some very engrossing subject matter for procrastination, and it basically ended up shuffling around my project schedule. So instead of doing any of what I’d planned except the blog post, I spent most of my time on conceptual modeling a few months early.

Backstory: Although my life agenda project is more or less on hold, from time to time I add a little to the project map I’m developing for it. Essentially I’m treating my life as a massive project, and I’m charting its task dependencies, where the “tasks” are whole projects.

As I’m mapping these project chains, I’m finding I need a vocabulary to describe the different kinds of tasks and projects I’m encountering. As usual these days when I need to define things, what immediately resurfaces is my wish that I had a formal way to write the definitions. This is because formalizing messy things brings me clarity, and clarity brings me power, power to learn and communicate and make decisions.

Well, I’d done a little more project mapping, and since I needed a way to procrastinate, it was the perfect time to look into the formalizing issue more extensively. I wanted to explore the idea that you should define a term by listing a set of conditions that would uniquely identify it, basically using some equivalent of set-builder notation. This suggested looking at query languages, since they give you results from a dataset based on conditions you specify. To give me the most flexibility, I wanted a query language that had a lot of tool support in multiple programming languages.

The point: I landed on the RDF query language SPARQL, which led me to look more closely at its family of languages, the Semantic Web, which I’d dismissed before as too simple for my needs. It turns out I was wrong, and it actually looks very promising. I spent the rest of the week researching and learning about it.

I also glanced at category theory, an area of math that would also help in conceptual modeling. But it has less tool support and seems harder to learn, so I’m putting it off for now. When I get to it, I’ll probably start with David Spivak’s Category Theory for the Sciences. It’s written for non-mathematicians, and the first chapter tells me the author and I think a lot alike.

Programming

πŸ€“

A side project was installing Debian in VirtualBox on my Windows tablet. That was my New Year’s morning. Other than procrastination, the purpose was to give me a way to explore the design of Linux software as described in The Art of Unix Programming. I haven’t done any of the exploring yet, but it felt good to get it set up, especially since I hadn’t worked with virtual machines before.

Since it was Linux, it was only natural that I ran into problems very quickly. The Debian setup wizard kept failing on the software installation step. It turned out the KDE installation files were too big for my var partition, so I installed Xfce instead, which I’d never heard of. Even though it’s annoying to have to follow the operating system’s agenda for your time rather than your own, the good thing about running into problems is that solving them teaches you more about the system.

Christmas gift labels

πŸ™„

I successfully procrastinated the whole week on writing the project retrospective. Maybe something will happen on it this week.

Housekeeping

😎

I also didn’t do any tidying, but I did upgrade my apartment a little. On Saturday I bought a new TV and a Blu-ray player, which I’d been planning since before I moved. It’s a Sharp 40″ 1080p Roku TV. For the size I followed the guideline of dividing the viewing distance by 2.5, and the result does feel right. I also learned a 4k TV is a waste at that size and distance unless it comes with HDR, which might still not be worth it yet, which saved me some money.

Other than being able to read text on the screen across the room now, my favorite feature is that using the Roku app I can listen to the audio through headphones on my phone. When I’m home alone and I don’t have to make extra noise, I like keeping my apartment quiet.

Fiction

πŸ™‚

I finished the second book in the Mortal Engine’s Quartet, Predator’s Gold. 5/5. Like the first one, it kept me guessing, especially wondering how the author would tie together the threads of the plot.

Health

πŸ˜•

For about 12 years I’ve had ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease that for me amounts to chronic diarrhea. Nice topic, I know. My main treatment is an infusion of Remicade at the hospital every 8 weeks. Most of the time, it goes smoothly, and with a little supplementary medicine it keeps my condition very manageable.

This time I had two problems: I was out of town the date I should’ve had my next appointment (Dec 26), and my insurance was taking its time reauthorizing my treatment. The result was my next infusion had to be two weeks late. My symptoms were okay the first week, only a little worse than usual. The second week I was reminded why I need this treatment. I spent what seemed like a fourth of my waking hours sitting in the restroom. Fortunately, my next infusion is Tuesday. (If you want to get technical, it’s happening as I write this.)

Posted in Conceptual modeling, Fiction, Health, Housekeeping, Programming, Updates | 2 Comments

Update for 12/30/2018

Christmas

πŸ™‚

Part 2 of my Christmas vacation, with a catalog of my family’s traditions.

Sunday

  • Doughnuts that our dad picks up from a local shop. This is more of an every-Sunday tradition. I always get a chocolate covered glazed and a blueberry, though this time they were out of the blueberry and substituted a red velvet, which was also good.
  • Church in the morning. Also an every-Sunday tradition.
  • Lunch at Babe’s Chicken Dinner House.
  • The annual sibling walk through nearby neighborhoods. I missed it this year because I desperately needed a nap. I was sad about that.
  • Random movies in the evenings. That day it was The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was good, though a little odd and sometimes kind of stiff looking. 4/5.
  • Getting distracted by Christmas TV at night when I’m trying to work on my gift labels project. This year it was Christmas episodes of British comedies. It was nice to see Mrs. Bucket and The Vicar of Dibley and discover Upstart Crow and Still Open All Hours, but I regretted the lost time. Afterward I realized there was a comfortable chair in another room I could’ve used, so that’s my new project chair when the TV’s on.

Monday

  • It’s not a tradition, but my brother made Christmas quiche for breakfast, two varieties. One had red and green bell peppers, and since I don’t like those, he made one with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Delicious.
  • The annual family Christmas photo. We used to do it around City Hall, but lately it’s been in the church lobby. This year we posed in front of a pile of giant presents.
  • The Christmas Eve candlelight service at church.
  • The annual Christmas Eve gift labels all-nighter. I usually manage to get at least a little sleep, except for last year. This time I got 45 minutes. I’ll talk more about the project in a separate section below. While I worked, I listened to music, starting with some BBC Radio. This got me distracted for about an hour and a half, because the Lancashire station played Blackburn Cathedral’s Nine Lessons and Carols service, which had an intriguing musical setting of a poem by Charles Causley called “Mary’s Song” (at 37:24 in the recording, if it hasn’t expired), and I wanted to find the composer. I didn’t and gave up to keep working.

Tuesday

Christmas at our house has a routine.

  • The opening of the stockings. My sister Kimberly arrives from the place she’s staying at around 9 or 10 am, and that’s our cue to start. I timed things this year, and the stockings took half an hour. My sister Abbie is the official distributor of presents. She rotates through the receivers from youngest to oldest. Stockings are the easy part because she just takes it off the hook and hands it over. The tree phase requires crawling and rummaging.
  • Christmas breakfast, which used to be cinnamon rolls, but lately it’s been coffee cake.
  • The opening of the tree presents. This took three hours. For some reason it felt longer than usual. Some stuff I got: a FangCun Ghost Cube and a handmade card from Abbie, Remarkable Books by DK from Kimberly, the Message Remix audio Bible from Michael, Building Stories by Chris Ware and a Heritage Personal Museum from my parents.
  • Christmas dinner. We basically repeat Thanksgiving dinner, with some variations. This year my brother made curry cauliflower.
  • Random afternoon activities, which for me usually involves a nap. There’s also usually more TV, and that night it was a Christmas episode of Call the Midwife, which was another new one to me. A thoughtful drama based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth (brief interview). There was also another puzzle, since we finished the first one really fast and Michael got another one for Christmas.

Wednesday

  • The lunch and movie. This year it was Corner Bakery for lunch and Green Book, a historical drama about an Italian-American bouncer driving an African-American pianist on his concert tour through the Deep South in the 1960s. 5/5. Long ago our Christmas movie outings used to be for fantasy, but they were entirely not our dad’s cup of tea, so now we do historical dramas, and it’s reconciled me to stories about real life. I found out I don’t need magic to stay interested.
  • The Half Price Books sale. Our dad takes Abbie and me to one or more locations to get 20% off our purchases. I picked up a couple of books on different kinds of puzzles, mostly math.

Thursday

  • Airport day #1. This one was for Abbie’s flight.
  • More TV. This time I discovered Midsomer Murders.

Friday

  • A supplemental neighborhood walk on my own, because I knew I’d regret it if I skipped it entirely. I picked my default walk of retracing my routes to my schools growing up. It was pleasantly nostalgic, especially since those routes come up in my dreams now and then, and that lends them some extra, imaginary significance.
  • The post office visit to ship things home, which I didn’t have to do this year, for once. Everything fit into my luggage.
  • Airport day #2. This one was for the rest of us. My trip home went quickly and smoothly, but Kimberly’s took all day thanks to multiple delays. My coworker generously gave me a ride home from the airport, and it was the most organized curbside airport pickup I’ve ever had. She waited in the cell phone lot, called me when my flight landed, and asked me to wait outside the end of my airline’s section of the baggage claim, and a few minutes later she was there.

Gift labels

For my annual Christmas gift label project, I try to match the theme to something I’ve been into that year that my family can also appreciate. This time, since my consumption of audiobooks seriously ramped up during the year, they were steampunk-themed cards that linked to recordings of public domain Christmas stories. These were my own recordings, and they used a text-to-speech voice I made from my own voice. I used the mXac NLP Editor to make it. Here’s a video tutorial.

Each card had a main story and a link to extra stories. I edited the main stories down to 800 words so they’d each be 4 minutes. Here’s my personal favorite, part of L. Frank Baum’s mythological origin story for Santa Claus. That one went to my mom. My family was interested in their cards, so I was happy.

I have one more step in this project, the retrospective, where I look at how the project went so I can learn for future projects. That’ll be this week.

Housekeeping

πŸ™‚

In 2019 I want to try scheduling my projects by month. So, kind of like in FilmCow’s update videos, each month will have a theme. January will be Month of Tidying, in the KonMari sense where I purge and organize my possessions. Finally my boxes will be unpacked from my move in July!

Fiction

πŸ™‚

I’m continuing Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines Quartet with the second book, Predator’s Gold. I’ve had trouble getting myself to listen because I’m more in the mood for nonfiction, but when I am listening, it’s good.

Posted in Fiction, Holidays, Housekeeping, Movies, Projects, Updates | 2 Comments

Update for 12/23/2018

Fiction

😎

I’m taking a break from my software development books to explore some steampunk. I started with the pre-steampunk Steam Man of the Prairies. It was a decent adventure story.

After that I whipped through Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. I really liked it, so I’ll continue with the series. At this rate it might be after I get back home. Vacations tend to distract me from my audiobooks. Anyway, Mortal Engines has the same kind of comfortable and inviting writing style I find in a lot of popular YA series I read. I’m not sure if YA authors do that on purpose or what, but it makes the stories easy to settle into. I like the idea of placing a steampunk world in the far future. It opens interesting possibilities, which Reeve takes advantage of. And toward the end, the story kept me guessing, and the final events left me curious how the rest of the series will follow up on them. 5/5.

Life maintenance

😐

Tuesday after work I had an adventure picking up the refill of my meds. They were on back-order with my pharmacy’s supplier, and I was leaving Thursday, so the pharmacist sent me to another one half an hour away. Meanwhile, I’d run into an old friend from church on the way into the store, so we talked while I worked out the refill mess. Then I gave him a ride home, talked some more, and picked up dinner on the way down to pick up my meds. By then it was around 10 pm. But the refill run was successful.

Christmas

Thursday

πŸ€”

Thursday I left for Texas to visit my family. The trip down went smoothly except that the airport ride service I booked got my schedule wrong. They thought my ride was at 2 pm, which was an hour after my flight. Fortunately I only waited 10 minutes before calling to check on the ride. They sent a car soon after, and they gave me the ride for free. I still tipped the driver. I’ve used this service before, and I still think it’s a good one overall, but this incident makes me think I should look for one with a more automated booking system, especially since this one does their credit card transactions with PDFs over email, which makes me uneasy.

I was pretty tired on the flight, so I slept some, did a little work on my Christmas project, and sat in a daze the rest of the time. It made the flight pass pretty quickly. Also on the flight was a group of 15 kids from a Ukrainian orphan school. I sat next to the teacher and overheard her talking with some other passengers. If I’d been less tired, maybe I would have asked her about it. Judging from the “Welcome Dima” sign some people were holding at the baggage claim, I’m guessing the kids were spending Christmas with host families.

Friday

πŸ™‚

Since my family’s Christmas vacations last about a week, the traditions we’ve developed encompass more than just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For the most part our time together consists of meals at restaurants, a church service or two, and hanging around the house in-between those events. But there are a few other specific things I expect to happen.

Several of them took place on Friday. We had our family grocery shopping trip, which started last year and could easily become a tradition. Our mom consults us on the meals and, more importantly, desserts we want to have around Christmas, and then she divides the list, and we each take a department. This time I got the frozen foods. Dividing-and-conquering may or may not make the shopping faster.

Another tradition that happened on Friday was the Christmas tree decorating. This one begins with rotating and moving the large quilting table that has a permanent residence in the living room so there’s space in the corner for the tree. Our dad sets that up and brings out the large containers of Christmas decorations, and then with Christmas music in the background, my siblings and I sift through the ornaments and hang a bunch of them on the tree. This year’s music was from another of the Victorian playlists I’ve been listening to. I think we all got tired of the bar songs.

Once rotated, the quilting table becomes the puzzle table. That potential tradition started last year too. Last year’s puzzle was 1000 pieces and took a long time, a picturesque rural neighborhood Christmas scene. This year’s is 500 pieces of a densely illustrated map of Texas.

Saturday

πŸ™‚

Saturday featured a couple of meal traditions. In the morning we had brunch at a breakfast place we visit every year. I had my usual French toast, which to be fair I get at practically any restaurant I have breakfast.

Dinner was our tamale tradition. We have homemade tamales my mom buys from a parent at the school she used to work at.

Gift labels

πŸ™„

Ah, my Christmas project. Another annual tradition, my creative gift labels. It’s on track to be done late Christmas Eve, as usual, when I’d hoped to be finished two weeks before my vacation. Oh well, maybe next year will be the year I beat fate. At least I’ve learned to expect the late night, so I can basically take it in stride.

Posted in Fiction, Holidays, Life maintenance, Updates | 2 Comments

Update for 12/16/2018

Music

πŸ€”

Sunday was our Advent Orchestra performance at church. Considering I only had a week to prepare, it went pretty well. Until the sermon apparently ran short in the second service and I arrived back at the sanctuary late for the last song. Kinda ruined my day. But after a day or three I got over it.

I have a plan for keeping my French horn oiled so the valves don’t freeze again (do it on laundry day). And I’m hoping I can even keep up with some practicing so my lips will be in better shape next December. There’s a lot of public domain French horn music on the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP).

Christmas

πŸ€”

I continued to be overly optimistic on my annual secret Christmas project last week. I wanted to finish it by Saturday, but it’ll still need a few more days. I’m still hoping to finish it before I leave for Texas on Thursday. But if not, I’ll just follow my usual plan of finishing it at my parents’ house. Late Christmas Eve, most likely.

(Okay, I was actually thinking of putting the last steps off on purpose just so I could do that, maybe on an earlier day. There’s something fun about staying up to get the Christmas labels done. … I never said I was normal.)

To accompany my work, I’ve been listening to playlists like this one of Victorian Christmas music, usually overlaid with soundscapes on YouTube like this one of a cottage in winter. It’s contributed to the project’s surreal atmosphere that makes me look forward to doing the work.

The last step of my project will be a retrospective where I analyze what went well and what could be improved. I’ve already learned quite a bit throughout the project, so I’m looking forward to putting all the lessons together.

Programming

πŸ€”

My project to listen through a bunch of software development books is winding down. Last week I finished The Art of Unix Programming, which was very good, and sped through Beyond Requirements by Kent McDonald, which was good but really fit more into my conceptual modeling and business projects, so I’ll feel more like paying attention to it when I get back to those projects.

I also sped through Learning Agile by Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene, which I’d read most of before but only in piecemeal fashion, so I wanted to get through it properly. It was also good, especially the way it integrated the four major agile approaches (Scrum, XP, Lean, and Kanban).

One thing I liked less was that its approach of teaching through narratives and repetitive discussions made the material feel a little too spread out. I wished they’d put a summary of the principles and practices in an appendix or something. But it’s fine, since that’s what note-taking is for.

Fiction

πŸ™‚

I’m taking a little break from programming books till after Christmas. In the meantime I’ll listen to a few steampunk stories. I’ve been wanting to explore that genre for a while. First is a short novel from 1868 called The Steam Man of the Prairies by Edward Ellis, which is in a genre called Edisonades that was a precursor of steampunk. After that I’ll listen to Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines, which has a movie that just came out.

Posted in Fiction, Holidays, Music, Programming, Updates | 1 Comment

Update for 12/9/2018

A shorter one this time.

Spirituality

πŸ€”

I’m paying more attention to the church calendar this year, starting with Advent. In preparation I listened to Vicki Black’s Welcome to the Church Year. Once Advent started, I was going to use Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours, but right away I realized it was going to be too much work for me to keep up with. Maybe another time. So instead I’ll work with Vicki Black’s book throughout the year. There’s plenty of food for thought, and she has exercises at the end of each chapter.

Christmas

πŸ™„

My self-imposed deadline for finishing my secret Christmas project was Saturday, but it didn’t happen. The first reason is I still had too much work to do on it, and the second is I ran into a severe technical difficulty that I’ll have to work around. So I’m giving it an extra week. But it’s hard to feel too bad about blowing the deadline, because this project has gone so much better than my usual projects and especially my Christmas ones. And also I have time.

Programming

πŸ™‚

My reading project in software development is progressing as usual. Last week I finished Martin Fowler’s Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture. It’ll be useful when I work on software in that category, but it’s a little too technical to be an enjoyable listen. Now I’m revisiting one I read a long time ago, Eric Raymond’s The Art of Unix ProgrammingΒ (available for free from the author’s site), which is much more engaging. It’s interesting to hear the same software design issues addressed by someone outside the camp of the other authors I’ve been reading. There’s a lot of overlap in the advice, but he expresses it in different ways and from a different starting point, the history of Unix rather than the history of object-oriented applications.

Posted in Holidays, Programming, Spirituality, Updates | 2 Comments

Update for 12/2/2018

Christmas

😐

On my secret Christmas project I got through about half of what I’d planned last week, but I’d already decided some of it made more sense to do in this week’s phase, and I can reduce other parts of it. That’s actually half of my goal for this project, to practice controlling a project’s scope, since that’s one of my characteristic hurdles.

Programming

πŸ€”

I continued my long phase of listening to software development books with a lifesaving one by Karl Fogel called Producing Open Source Software, which he’s made available for free online. Honestly after hearing about all the pitfalls, I’m certain any open source project I tried to conduct would crash and burn without this kind of advice.

The book has inspired me to raise the idea of innersourcing at work, which is the use of open source development methods in a proprietary software setting. So at our next developer meeting we’ll see where that goes.

Spirituality

πŸ€”

This week is the beginning of Advent. A few months ago I listened to Vicki Black’s Welcome to the Church Year and decided this was the year I could finally take the liturgical calendar more seriously. So starting today I’ll try some strategies for doing that, starting with using Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours as a devotional.

Music

French horn

😐

Story time. Last week I pulled out my French horn to get ready for our church’s first Advent Orchestra rehearsal on Thursday, and immediately I got my annual reminder that leaving your horn sitting untouched for a year freezes the valves so the keys don’t move. Makes the horn a little impossible to play.

So I spent the next couple of days trying to unstick the valves. I had to go to more extreme measures than usual, even giving my horn a soak in the bathtub. I got them all unstuck except the trigger (the thumb key). So I had to find a repair shop that could give me a quick turnaround, and then I sat in the first rehearsal and listened while working on my Christmas project.

That repair shop is now my favorite music store, because they had my horn ready on Friday, and their fee was very reasonable. Okay, it’s tied with the Guitar Center where I got my keyboard.

Synth

😎

In addition to getting ready for the orchestra performance next weekend, this weekend I was scheduled to play with my usual worship band, where I’m playing synth. We use MainStage, a Mac program for live music performances. You connect your keyboard to the computer, and instead of the keyboard directly producing the sounds as you play, MainStage produces them. In the rehearsal the music minister asked if I could use an organ for the first song. So I hunted around in the Vintage B3 patches and settled on the Bebop Organ.

Looking through patches and being confronted again with my insecurity with Gospel music got me doing some research that night. I assume it was Jazz 101 stuff, but for me it was a revelation. I found out β€œB3” means the Hammond B-3 model, pretty much the most popular jazz organ. Hammond organs were originally meant to be an inexpensive substitute for traditional pipe organs in churches and not for jazz at all. At some point I’ll learn about their history in jazz. I also found out β€œVintage B3” is a synthesizer for Logic Pro X that is one of the most accurate replications of the original instrument, even reproducing its mechanical quirks. Armed with my new info, I found a Hammond B3 playlist on Spotify I can use to learn some jazz organ style.

Posted in Books, Holidays, Music, Programming, Spirituality, Updates, Worship performing | 2 Comments

Update for 11/25/2018

Thanksgiving

πŸ™‚

I ended up visiting my brother and his church friends for Thanksgiving. I met his friends a month ago when I was there for my coworker’s wedding. I didn’t talk a lot either time, but compared to my experiences with most random groups of strangers, I feel remarkably at home with them, so I was glad to be there.

Friday morning Michael joined me for the drive back to Illinois so we could see the David Wallace Haskins exhibit at the Elmhurst Art Museum. I like having Haskins mess with my perceptions. This time we got to live in a Tron world of foggy light shapes for a few minutes. I’m not sure Tron was what he was going for, but that’s where I went.

We don’t go to the museum often, so we looked through the rest of it too. That included the McCormick House, a relocated house designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. So after visiting a synthwave future, we walked into the 1950s. I found that even though that era’s style bores me when I’m looking at photos, physically being there in a reproduction made me appreciate it more.

Over dinner we watched Moana. We mostly liked it but wondered about the cultural appropriation, which led to a good discussion.

Saturday morning I drove Michael to the bus station. I was a little too wrapped up in our conversation to navigate well, so the trip took longer than expected. But he made it to the bus in time, and he fortunately didn’t have to deal with the blizzard that was supposed to be coming Sunday night.

Christmas

πŸ™‚

I mostly met my goal for last week’s work on my secret Christmas labels project, despite going a little overboard and despite Thanksgiving. The next couple of weeks will take more careful planning and execution.

Health

πŸ€”

After my accidental break from my supplemental ulcerative colitis medicine, my symptoms flared up a bit, and it’s taken them a while to calm back down. I was hoping for better, since things went so well for a week, but oh well. Maybe I’ll stick to my usual regimen instead of decreasing it like I’d planned.

Music

πŸ™‚

For most of the past ten years I’ve joined our church’s December orchestra assemblage. I play the French horn. My friend who used to run those has moved out of the area, but it turns out the tradition will continue. They sent out an invitation last week, so I signed up.

The first rehearsal is this Thursday, so I don’t have much time to get my lips in shape. Hopefully my new neighbors won’t mind my muted practicing. I use the Yamaha Silent Brass system to keep things quiet.

Posted in Art, Health, Holidays, Movies, Music, Travel, Updates | 3 Comments

Update for 11/18/2018

TV

πŸ™‚

Sunday my friend Tim made his customary visit, and we watched the first episode of the 1994Β Middlemarch miniseries to go with the book group I’m in at work. I was surprised at how well the episode captured the plot and characters, assuming I wasn’t just reading everything into it. I don’t know if it came across as well to Tim, who hasn’t read the book. I can at least say I wasn’t disappointed, as I was with the Ender’s Game movie.

Futurism

πŸ™‚

This month’s futurism meetup was about copyright and all its annoyances. It included a very good video by CGP Grey. Occasionally I hear about old works that are passing out of the copyright time frame to enter the public domain, so I did some searching for sources of this info and found Public Domain Day. 2019 will be a big year for it. “For several decades from 2019 onward, each New Year’s Day will unleash a full year’s worth of works published 95 years earlier,” starting with 1923. The Public Domain Review will tell you what’s good.

Programming

πŸ€“

In last week’s software development TTS listening, I finished Pattern-Oriented Software Development, Vol 1 and got through Clean Code. I’m about a third of the way into the massive Code Complete 2. At work I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around some of the books from my list so far and to begin to use them in my current programming project.

My main task is a pretty easy one, creating a simple plugin to get Sublime Text to interact with our in-house command-line tools for ebook production. So based on some earlier research with execnet, I did that and in the process applied a few software development techniques I’m learning.

Then I decided the plugin was good enough for now, and I switched to exploring architectural changes we might make to our tools. pyplantuml has been helpful for mapping out our existing structure.

Spirituality

πŸ€”

I listened to John Ortberg’s little bookΒ How Do I Know If I’m Really Saved? so I could discuss it with a friend who wrestles with that question. I have mixed feelings about the book. On the one hand, it’s a nice overview of the Dallas Willard perspective on salvation, and it was thought provoking and motivating. Unfortunately it’s also disorganized, as if Ortberg’s writing process was to sit down at the keyboard and let his mind wander. I’d have to rearrange the contents to make sure they answered the key questions. Maybe sometime. The book also reminded me that Ortberg is a pastor of a church, Menlo Church in San Jose, and a search revealed they have a podcast feed, so I’ll probably listen to a few of his sermons.

Health

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Due to a little pharmacy supply chain SNAFU, a little over a week ago I went on an accidental hiatus from my ulcerative colitis supplementary medicine. So I took the opportunity to watch how bad my symptoms would get. It turned out I didn’t need it till a week after I ran out. Fortunately I had the refill by then.

So now I’ll experiment with my schedule of doses. Maybe once a week works, maybe a little more often. In any case, it’s probably less than I’ve been taking it, which is good news, because it’s annoying.

Christmas

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Last week on my secret project for creative Christmas labels, I successfully stuck to my schedule and achieved the intended milestone despite an unexpected bump, so this week I’m on to the next phase. I’m kinda proud of myself.

Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. I haven’t made any plans. If nothing materializes, I’ll repeat last year’s plan of visiting the local botanical garden. Last year I ended up doing both.

Life maintenance

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I’ve been pondering what project to do after the Christmas labels. As usual it’d probably be something to prepare for future projects. I settled on making my life better in general by continuing the housekeeping projects from my move. That is, unpacking and tidying. Yes, my stuff has been mostly in boxes for the past two-and-half months. But at least my current furniture is in place. Maybe I’ll use this phase to buy the remaining pieces.

Posted in Futurism, Health, Holidays, Housekeeping, Programming, Spirituality, TV, Updates | 2 Comments

Update for 11/11/2018

Christmas

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This month I’m working on my annual tradition of making creative Christmas labels for my family’s gifts. I didn’t get through all the planning steps last week, but I already knew how I wanted to start the work, so I’ll do that this week. I’ll do more planning as I go.

The form the labels will take is a surprise, but one thing I can say about this project is that I’m using it as a first experiment in learning about professional project management techniques, and I’m already learning quite a bit. Another thing I’ll say is that I’m proud of myself for being way ahead of my usual last-minute schedule and for actually having a plan.

Programming

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I’m continuing to whip through the software development ebooks I own via text-to-speech. Last week I finished Domain-Driven Design, and now I’m about halfway through Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture, Vol 1. I have 4 to 10 more to listen to after this one.

I’ve wondered a few times if it’s really worthwhile to listen all this technical material when there’s so much I don’t retain or even understand. But hearing about software development throughout the day keeps my mind on the topic, and I semi-consciously file away ideas from the books that my mind brings up later. Since I’m still focusing on software development at work, the benefits of listening make me feel that moving on to other audio topics would be an unwelcome distraction.

Learning

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Another effect of listening to all these software development books is that it makes me very aware of how much I have to learn if I want to get anywhere near my technical goals in life. I need faster ways to do it. Projects about learning have been on my agenda for years, and I was already planning on returning to them next year. The software development books are strengthening my commitment.

Something I forgot to say last week is that these books are reminding me of how great the patterns format is for both learning and reference. I’ll probably organize a lot of my website writing that way in the future.

I’ve also been using software development to explore visual thinking by learning some UML. Using the programs Modelio and PlantUML, I’ve been experimenting with UML’s activity diagrams, which are like flowcharts. You’ll probably see a lot of those and other diagrams on the site in the future too.

Music

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Half my project time on Thursday was spent being distracted by a musical mystery–identifying the songs in this video of the Mandelbrot set. In the process I discovered a nicely browsable stock music site called Epidemic Sound. There’s another site like that I explore sometimes, Musicbed. Anyway, if you’re curious, the songs from the video are all by Yi Nantiro: “Watchman” (Spotify), “The Way Of The Warrior,” “At Long Last” (Spotify), and “Immovable As The Mountain.”

Health

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For my ulcerative colitis I take two medicines, one I take every day and one I take every two months. The daily one ran out last week, but I couldn’t get it refilled right away because the pharmacy’s supplier doesn’t carry it anymore. So now I’m waiting a few days for them to figure out a solution.

In the past when I’ve been without the daily medicine, my symptoms reared their heads the second day. But now my other medicine might be strong enough that I can get away with it longer. We shall see!

Fiction

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I picked up The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for $2 in an Audible daily deal. I think it’s the unabridged version of the abridged one I grew up listening to. But I don’t have to listen to a book to visit Narnia. I only have to go home.

 

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See? I live in Narnia.

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Posted in Fiction, Health, Holidays, Learning, Music, Programming, Updates | 1 Comment