Weeknote for 12/29/2019



Some highlights and random observations from the rest of our vacation at our parents’ house.


  • I wasn’t alert for all of church in the morning, but in one of my more awake periods, we watched a monologue about Joseph’s disrupted life when Mary became pregnant, and it struck me as a fitting modern description of that ancient story. Actually that could’ve been during Tuesday’s candlelight service, which tells you my mental state and/or the frailty of my memory and record keeping.
  • That evening in anticipation of our family trip to the movies later in the week, at Michael’s suggestion we watched the enlightening and inspiring Mister Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? I’ll say more about this in the Movies section below.


  • In the evening we watched Christmas at Belmont on PBS, featuring CeCe Winans and Michael W. Smith. I added some songs from it to my Spotify playlist (see the Music section below) and commented with my family about how impressive expert musicians are as precision performers, since I am sloppy at performance and more of a maker.
  • I stayed up late wrapping presents so that would be out of the way while I was finishing up the labels. It would’ve taken much less time, but I decided I needed to try some envelope and letter folding for some of the gifts.

Tuesday (Christmas Eve)

  • In the afternoon our dad set up the Christmas tree, and the siblings decorated it, as per tradition. The decorating took less time than I expected, about 20 minutes judging by the playlist we listened to.
  • In the evening we went to our church’s candlelight service and then stood in line to take a family picture in front of the sanctuary’s Christmas trees.
  • After our dad’s yummy chili for dinner, we watched Klaus, the new animated origin story for Santa, which was very good.
  • Once my family fiiiinally got itself to bed at midnight (yes, I’m blaming them), I stayed up very late again finishing my Christmas labels. More on those in their section below!

Wednesday (Christmas!)

Christmas morning we carried out our traditional schedule–stockings, breakfast, tree presents, then lunch. My mom had replaced the old stocking she’d made in my childhood with a new one she made, so now my old one is here, and maybe I’ll use it as a Christmas decoration in the future. (Correction: The old one was made by a landlord of my mother’s.) Breakfast this year was Sister Schubert’s cinnamon rolls, which are small, which encouraged me to eat too many of them.

  • Lunch was a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, as we often do for Christmas, with the addition of roasted broccoli, since I’d requested more actual vegetables, which Thanksgiving tends to lack.
  • I was very tired after lunch and took a nap during the annual sibling walk around the neighborhood.
  • In the evening we scrolled through Netflix in despair of finding any good movie we felt like watching, but on the verge of giving up we settled on The Little Prince, and it was an excellent choice.
  • We finished the quilt puzzle. It was a fun one, with a lot of interesting shapes, colors, and textures.


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Some nice Christmas stuff from my family. https://www.thinkulum.net/blog/2020/01/04/weeknote-for-12-29-2019/

A post shared by Andy Culbertson (@thinkulum) on


  • I continued my tech ebook buying binge with Righting Software, Software Requirement Patterns, and EMF: Eclipse Modeling Framework, all of which I’d been antsy to get my hands on. Under the mistaken impression that the site might have an after-Christmas sale, I’d waited till after Christmas, but I was going to buy them regardless. I’ve started all three, and my Goodreads currently-reading shelf is getting crowded.
  • We had our traditional House Cafe brunch, where I got my traditional French toast, which I order practically any time I have breakfast food at a restaurant.
  • My siblings were nice and went on makeup walk with me (photographic evidence), since I’d missed it the day before.
  • We tried to go see the Mister Rogers movie, but the theater had assigned seating and didn’t have five seats together, so we decided to order tickets online for the next day.
  • Dinner was Michael’s delicious turkey soup made of leftovers.
  • After dinner our dad took Abbie and me on our traditional Half Price Books run, where I picked up The Steampunk User’s Manual (follow-up to The Steampunk Bible), Doctor Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory (from a series I learned about from The Steampunk Bible), Speedsolving the Cube (to help me get a handle on the 3×3 cube I bought a year ago), and a childhood favorite I never expected to find on an HPB shelf, The Man Who Lost His Head.


  • Laundry day.
  • We made it to the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, with Mister Rogers played by Tom Hanks, who was a good fit even though I never really forgot I was watching Tom Hanks. I was slightly worried it’d just be a rehash of the documentary, but fortunately it wasn’t, and it was just as thought provoking.
  • We did my traditional Schlotzsky’s run for dinner, though I’d forgotten about the tradition till my mom brought it up. I was relieved to be reminded that even though it’s a place only I really care about, since it was one of my favorite restaurants and I don’t have one anymore, the rest of the family seems to enjoy it.
  • After dinner it was time to sit around with PBS on, and I discovered the show Craft in America. The first episode that night happened to be on quilting, which is our mother’s main hobby. I also made it through a whole episode of Antiques Road Show, which I’d only ever seen a couple of minutes at a time.


  • I had a surprisingly quick flight back, and I was glad to have found affordable flights at comfortable afternoon times, since I am not a morning person.
  • Jeremy picked me up from the airport, and while we waited for dinner time, he helped me start assembling my dining set, which we finished after dinner. Just like with the sofa, having it makes me feel more like a normal adult and makes my home feel more complete, and I’m already finding more uses for it than I’d originally planned, so I think it was a good purchase.


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Bookstore cafe? Or my living room with a new dining set? https://www.thinkulum.net/blog/2020/01/04/weeknote-for-12-29-2019/

A post shared by Andy Culbertson (@thinkulum) on

Christmas labels


Going along with my conceptual modeling theme, my Christmas labels this year were sketchnotes of popular Christmas hymns: “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Joy to the World,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night,” and “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” Click the right arrow in the post below to see more images.

  • I’m not used to this kind of creative modeling, so I was worried I wouldn’t do it right, which led to procrastination during the beginning weeks of the project.
  • It probably helped that I’d been sketchnoting sermons for practice during the previous couple of months.
  • I made up the imagery as I went along, such as for the angels, but I had to research some things.
    • I didn’t know how to draw animals, so I looked up photos of sheep and camels.
    • I learned to draw star people from Visual Meetings, but I had to look up how to draw people running, which I found in an animation book I have.
    • I paid attention to manger images I saw around and learned that everyone makes them with the legs crossing.
    • I paid attention to what Mary looked like kneeling. Silhouettes were helpful.
    • I looked up what images people typically use for “truth” and “grace.”
  • I was again proud of myself for throwing out elements of the project I didn’t have time for. For example, I’d started drawing cartoon portraits to identify the person getting the gift, but that was getting complicated, so I wrote the person’s name in a little banner like the song titles in the sketchnotes.



Some things I noticed in the Mister Rogers’ films we watched last week.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

  • I appreciated seeing him talk seriously about his philosophy of child psychology.
  • I appreciated hearing a little about his wife and children and seeing he wasn’t an ethereal person with no real earthly connections. (This happened for me with Dallas Willard too, realizing he was born and grew up somewhere. XD )
  • His own childhood influenced his work. He spent a lot of time alone having to entertain himself during his frequent illnesses, and he was bullied for being chubby.
  • I hadn’t picked up on the main purpose of his program before–to help children deal with feelings. I assumed it was broader than that, but I think it was good for the program to have focus.
  • Coping mechanisms were important for him personally, and his puppets were one of them, especially channeling himself through Daniel and then later King Friday. A bit weird, but whatever works.
  • From the standpoint of someone like myself who’s trying to figure out how to live, Mr. Rogers was a good example of someone living out a deeply and consistently worked out philosophy.
  • He considered remembering their own childhood to be a key practice for adults, which was also a theme in The Little Prince.
  • I’d seen the clip of Rogers arguing for public TV funding before the Senate, and from the chairman’s reaction, I’d always thought he was just a pushover, but no, before Mr. Rogers’ testimony he was opposed to the idea.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

  • The movie explored his relationship and relevance to adults.
  • To a certain extent his determination to live out his philosophy had him living in his own world, even when he interacted with other people. The movie was good at portraying a normal adult’s reactions to him as he resolutely dug into the parts of life that mattered.
  • My impression was the people around him were very loyal, even though he sometimes frustrated them with his eccentric ways.
  • I loved that the filmmakers extended the neighborhood model from the TV show’s intro to serve as transitions in the movie.
  • They also did well at slipping in Rogers tidbits you might want to know, such as how he coped with life, his advice to parents, and whether he’d ever been a military sniper (which would be closer to truth if we were talking about Bob Ross).

There’s more to say about these films, but this post is long enough already!




Continuing my theme of seasonal ambiences, I’ve been accumulating quite a list for winter and Christmas, so if you’re still in the Christmas spirit, here’s the ongoing list I’ve come up with so far, partially sorted by subject matter (city walks, Santa’s workshop, etc.). During some of my Christmas project sessions I listened to the crafting and gift wrapping videos so I could pretend I was working with other project doers.


Here’s a bunch of the music I listened to around Christmas:

  • Christmas 2019 (Spotify) – Based on playlist searches for some of the songs from Advent Orchestra–“Who Would’ve Dreamed” and “Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)”–plus a couple of songs from Christmas at Belmont.
  • Christmas Lo-Fi (YouTube) – To go with last year’s expansion of my musical tastes into chillhop, I saw one of these in my YouTube recommendations and decided to make a whole playlist. It makes good background music for this video of walking around a wintry Japanese city.
  • Soul of Wind Christmas Guitar 2019 (Spotify) – Based on this video, which I ran across while wrapping presents on Monday and made my companion for the night.

Conceptual modeling


The Thinkulum project month of January starts this week (on Dec 29), and after weighing some options, I decided this project will be to sort out some of the pipeline from writing about a model in plain English to working with it in software. The main deliverables will be (1) a cheatsheet of translations between informal English and various modeling languages and (2) a user guide for basic operations in the software I’m focusing on. This week is for planning the project and starting on it.

This entry was posted in Christmas labels, Conceptual modeling, Holidays, Movies, Music, Soundscapes, Weeknotes. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Weeknote for 12/29/2019

  1. Linda W. says:

    Wow! What a great Christmas! Also, I’m glad to see that photo of your Christmas label. Oh man! Very intricate! No wonder they take so long to do.

    I saw the documentary on Mr. Rogers. Haven’t yet seen the film. But the documentary was very heartwarming. I remember watching his show when I was a kid and thinking it very tame. But I have more appreciation now, after seeing the documentary, for what Mr. Rogers wanted to convey to kids.

    • Andy says:

      Thanks, Linda. I hope you had a great Christmas too. Yeah, I agree, the documentary was both heartwarming and enlightening. It’s kind of funny you thought his show was tame as a kid, but I can picture that!

  2. Grace Culbertson says:

    Great summary of our Christmas together. I am always grateful and blessed by your visit. I must clear up one misunderstanding. I did make your new stocking, but not your old one. It was made by the lady from whom I rented an apartment on the second floor of her house while I was teaching in Richmond, VA (1975-76). She was a very sweet, generous person and I wish I could remember her name. Anyway, that is where the old one came from. Just so you can get the story right. Love you. Mom

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