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  • Seven

    May 21, 2022

    Lorelei turned seven this week. We had a party today, with a princess / fairy theme. We did a pile of yard work on Friday to finish off projects in the back yard, then woke up to clouds. Luckily it burned off by the time the kids got here, and they got to play outside for a bit. None of them mentioned the work we did, although I suppose they would have noticed if it was all a big dirt pile still (and, maybe enjoyed it more).

    I look forward to a time in the future when I can tell Lorelei how she spent most of first grade pretending to be a cat. All of her friends seem to accept her catness — they all came with cat-themed gifts, and there was a game they played called “pet the cat” where Lorelei got to pretend to be a cat. The parents lamented that none of their kids ever tell them what goes on at school except in bits and pieces, but we pieced together that this is a game that gets played often at recess.

    We also picked up an instax Link wide so we could send real pictures of the party home with the kids. This is Lorelei testing it out the day before:

    I’ve wrote before about how much I enjoy the instax formats. The wide format is even better, and the printer, which allows you to use your much better camera phone as the source, makes it better x2.

    Since yet another Easter has passed and Covid still isn’t over, it was, of course, a topic of discussion. The kids at the party are all in the same class, so the risk of one party is the same as the risk every single other day. Among the parents it was more a sense of resignation: we’re going out, we’re going to work, what else would we do. We want to start talking about “the pandemic” in past tense. Can we? I’m not sure it’s up to us. May of 2022 isn’t the same as May of 2020, but it’s not the same as May of 2019, either, but I guess that’s how life goes.

  • ⎋ Porting Zelda Classic to the Web @ hoten.cc

    May 7, 2022

    I love the Zelda series so it was a surprise to me to learn about Zelda Classic the other day, and a double surprise to see this amazing write up on porting it to the web.

    Check it out
  • Books and cats and books and cats and….

    Apr 24, 2022

    Our trips in the past few years have been there-and-back affairs, due to the complications of figuring out COVID hours/openings, the fickle nature of New England nature, and wanting some amount of post-travel pre-work time to relax. But the end of last week we were in Connecticut, Andrea wanted to go to a used book store, and none of the aforementioned issues were issues, so I suggested we go to the Niantic Book Barn, which met everyone’s requests:

    • Andrea: a large, semi-curated but mildly out of control collection of books.
    • Lorelei: cats

    Andrea found a pile of romance novels:

    Lorelei and I found the cats. Credit to her sixth sense for finding the two under couch.

    I wouldn’t recommend going far out of the way to stop there, but if you’re by the Connecticut shoreline already it’s a fun stop. You won’t find a lot of good books unless you snipe one that just got sorted or you pull it straight from the newly arrived section. The stuff that accumulates… well, let’s say they had three entire shelves of L. Ron Hubbard.

    The thermostat, in the politics section

    As for me, I walked out with one, one dollar book. I think it was a steal.

    A 1968 copy of Conan the Warrior

  • Museum of Science

    Apr 19, 2022

    We went to the Boston Museum of Science today. I have fond memories of it from when I was a kid, although growing up in Connecticut it was a rare treat, so far away in the big city of Boston.

    Floor shot from the Boston Museum of Science

    This time I was not terribly impressed. Neither was Lorelei. I was thinking about why, on the way home, and I think it’s:

    1. No one would pick the Boston Museum of Science as a museum to really wow someone. They make lightning indoors and it’s got a nice view of the river but it’s not even close to one of those “oh man this is so much museum it might be too much museum” kind of museums.
    2. The interest and interaction you can get out of a museum exhibit for a six year old today is so much less than what it was for me as a six year old. You want to learn about nature? Great, here’s birds in 8k video, let’s look up what sounds they make, here’s an AR app to see what kinds of birds live in our backyard. What did I have as a kid? Look up “bird” in the encyclopedia, get a few pictures, maybe go to the library and get a bird book. Bug my Grandfather about bird names until he’d tell me something like “if it’s black it’s a Blackbird” until I went away. Going to a museum and seeing all of that knowledge in one place was mind blowing.

    But today a hall of dead (or are they fake? Probably dead) animals isn’t really a draw. A dinosaur skeleton is (if it’s real). A cool physical or interactive exhibit is. The 4D movie theatre was a hit.

    But still, we had fun, even though Lorelei pretended she did not when we chose to not eat at the food court there.

    Lorelei trying to max out the sadness meter

    I will say if you’re not from Boston and thinking of going, going on a holiday is great. For reasons I cannot explain after living in the area for twenty years, Boston on a holiday is always empty. I have no idea where people go. On the drive in there was not only no traffic, there were parts of the highway where there were no other cars. That maxes out the happiness meter for me.

  • The Three-Body Problem or the Three-Book problem?

    Apr 16, 2022

    I finished The Three-Body Problem this morning. I’ve been reading it in stops and starts, I found many parts too tell-not-show for my tastes. It’s an interesting sci-fi plot with a graduate-level physics class thrown in the middle. Or it’s not sci-fi at all and it’s an allegory for Communist China’s interactions with the West.

    Either way it’s book number one of a three book series and I don’t think I’ll continue. I tend to stay away from books that are part of a series that can’t stand on their own. I’m two books into The Stormlight Archive but I’m not interested enough to keep going. Similarly I finished Horizon Forbidden West recently, a sequel itself that sets the story up for a trilogy and — I dunno, I’m not that interested in hearing more, especially if it’s tens or hundreds of hours more.

    On sort of the other side of this, we watched Coda last night. It’s as good as everyone said it was and I don’t think anyone is going to pitch an incredibly ironically titled Coda 2 about Ruby in college. In this era of “more of everything” it’s nice to enjoy something that ends.

  • The Three-Body Problem

    Apr 16, 2022
  • Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me This Sooner?

    Apr 11, 2022

    I finished Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? yesterday. It’s a good high level intro into almost everything a person might go see a therapist for. It’s better organized than 6000 Tik Tok videos, which seems to be the de rigueur way to learn about these things.

    I took a Psychology class in college, it was pretty useless. I’d much rather someone had just given me this book. Honestly a week reading this instead of an extra week of Freud and bearskin rugs or whatever might have been the most helpful thing for me in college. Oh! This is how anxious thoughts work? And strategies for stopping them? No, useless information. More on Pavlov’s dogs, please.

    There’s a lot of overlap here with Atomic Habits by James Clear, it’s even referenced a few times. There’s an idea they share: say you’re out of shape. A bad goal is to say, “I want to run a marathon”. You’ll probably fail (too ambitious), but you could also succeed then never run again. The idea is to not have a goal but to form a habit. Tomorrow say “I’m a person who runs”, then start running, even if just down the block. While “becoming more physically fit” is one easy to understand example, the crux of it is you reframe your thoughts and change how you think about yourself rather than being reactive (I’m depressed, I need to be happy) or problem solving (I’m burned out, I need a plan for relaxing).

    If you want the super short version of both books, it’s the song “The Next Right Thing” from Frozen 21.

    I recommend the book. It’s a quick read. It unfortunately doesn’t cover finding or affording a therapist because your insurance won’t cover it, but I suppose that’s out of scope.

    1. I love this song and reference it often. While the lyrics are like the textbook example of helping someone overcome grief slid into a children’s musical, it’s also just really good advice. 99.9% of the time you can get through life… just doing the next (right) thing. Don’t overthink it! Our brains are dumb!
  • Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

    Apr 9, 2022
  • An obvious bug

    Apr 9, 2022

    Debugging is one of the things I enjoy about programming. It’s like a little puzzle to solve. But as code gets more complicated, the little bugs can hide themselves in ways that make them very, very, annoyingly hard to find. This one, minimally reproduced in this Codepen, got me this week:

    See the Pen A small bug 🐞 by Joseph Martucci (@jjmartucci) on CodePen.

    It seems obvious — an empty input calculates an invalid date. But then imagine the calculated date was never visible, an empty input is considered valid data, and the system that reported this being an issue was 3 microservice hops away.

    And the real issue, it turns out, was ever using parseInt. Day.js can do the calculation just fine with strings.

  • The most writing in human history

    Apr 4, 2022

    I’ve been reading Smarter Than You Think. Chapter 2 is about online writing and blogging, and Clive Thompson mentions how there’s more writing going on now than ever before in human history:

    As the historian David Henkin notes in The Postal Age, the per capita volume of letters in the United States in 1860 was only 5.15 per year. “That was a huge change at the time—it was important,” Henkin tells me. “But today it’s the exceptional person who doesn’t write five messages a day. I think a hundred years from now scholars will be swimming in a bewildering excess of life writing.”

    What’s wild to me is that I got an English degree between the years of 2000 and 2004, and… no one saw this coming. A few weeks before graduating someone suggested I should sign up on some “Facebook thing, it just opened up outside of Harvard, you can see other people from other schools”, and no one I knew had ever blogged anything. So it wasn’t a miss of what was happening, but it was a miss on what would be happening.

    Also, any English program could have ditched Hemingway for some basic communication writing and maybe we could have replaced the E in STEM.

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