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  • Weeknotes for the week ending October 10, 2021

    [Oct 10, 2021]

    Ship it!

    Screenshot of the new design on Chewy.com's Connect with a Vet feature, which I worked on.

    Big release at work this week; it all went well, and our application is much more accessible now, so it feels pretty good! Remember if you ever need an on demand video or text consultation with a veterinarian, Connect With a Vet!

    RTFM (if it exists)

    Three only slightly related thoughts, that mean something to me because I used to write technical instruction manuals for a living.

    1. I installed a blower fan in our gas fireplace this weekend. The description online said it was “pre-wired” and all you had to do was plug it in, but the comments said no, there was more. Some research showed there are three main ways gas fireplace wiring is found: a junction box with cables in it, a junction specifically wired for gas fireplaces (we had this, more later), or just a normal power outlet. The “pre-wired” bit made sense for the normally wired power outlet, but the junction box in our fireplace had a fan outlet which didn’t have power unless two leads were getting a signal from a thermocouple, so the fan only has power when the fireplace is hot. But again, this unit was “pre-wired” so the thermocouple controlled the unit assuming it had power. Anyway, the diagrams included were not helpful, the comments online were not helpful, in the end after pulling some wires apart and realizing that was dumb, I also realized the outlet under our fireplace also had a plug labeled “REM/AUX” which has... always on power. So all I had to do was plug it into that.
    2. For a while I’ve thought it would be nice to associate notes with workouts that are recorded by my watch and saved in Apple Fitness. I’ve had some hacky solutions like sharing the work out to my notes app and adding content there, but I realized this weekend that HealthFit the app that I’ve been using for years to sync my Apple workout bike rides to Strava... has a notes field.
    3. I got a physical copy of Metroid Dread1 this week. Whenever I open a physical game I expect there to be something inside, but there was nothing but the game. Instead someone had to design and code the first (at least) 30 minutes of the game explaining things to the player, instead of just giving them those details in a book along with the game. I’ve played literally every Metroid, I’m just here to shoot blobby aliens and turn into a ball, let me at it!


    • I said last week it’s spooky season, it’s actually puzzle season. Finished two this week.
    Frida Kahlo puzzle completed.Mystic Maze puzzle competed.

    Frida from eeboo and The Mystic Maze from Magic Puzzle Company.

    • I’m trying out Craft as a replacement for Bear (at home). I do love Bear but I also have a ton of notes that could use lightweight table markup, or rollups, or just putting two things side-by-side, or a quick preview of a PDF... the list goes on. Bear was a replacement for Notion for me, after Notion got too annoying to use offline. Craft borrows (or, steals) a lot from Notion, but it’s a Mac Catalyst app and it works offline, and you can even BYOS (bring your own storage) and save your content in iCloud instead of their cloud2.

    1. I don’t invest in cryptocurrency but I do invest in physical copies of Nintendo games. I think I’ve picked the right horse, assuming the course is a few million miles long.
    2. It’s worth noting since I’m comparing the two that Bear already uses iCloud. It’s also worth noting that Craft has an entire support page on dealing with iCloud because while it’s stable and secure, there’s also a good reason almost every other app has rolled their own cloud storage solution.
  • Weeknotes for the week ending October 3, 2021

    [Oct 4, 2021]

    It’s October. The wife and I had Friday off, and thought maybe we’d get lunch in Salem. We didn’t really think October 1st, a full 30 days away from Halloween would be an issue, but people take October being spooky season seriously. Instead we ate lunch in town, which is another town that used to be part of Danvers, which is where the “Salem” Witch Trials took place, but don’t tell the tourists that.

    A Leaf on the Wind, and The Good Lord Bird.

    Before attempting lunch on Friday I went out for a bike ride. One of my favorite things when mountain biking is unintentionally sneaking up on wildlife, slipping through the trees quickly and quietly enough that they don’t notice you until you’re close, and then they jump and run off. Happened with a few deer, but the treat was a Pileated woodpecker jumping off a tree and flying in front of me for a few hundred feet.

    Deer in the woods. Seems hungry. Find the deer. Someday I’ll have a phone with a telephoto lens.

    Related, an article I read this week about the Ivory-billed woodpecker being declared extinct. As a kid I had a t-shirt that was treated so that when it was cool the silhouettes of dozens of animals were on it, and when it got hot, they disappeared. This wasn’t even a commentary on global warming, it was just — hey, stop tearing down the places these animals live. But, they’re probably all gone now.

    By some estimates, populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish have declined by almost 70 percent on average since 1970. It’s the reason you tend to see fewer bugs on your windshield when driving cross-country and hear less birdsong when hiking through the forest.

    Also how many animals died to make a t-shirt treated with some heat sensitive chemical. I am not a biozoologist but I want to say the Earth having almost 70% fewer types of things living on it is bad.

    Everything is crap

    There’s just so much crap being offered for sale or rent today — so much that we’re expected to spend money on and like even though it’s incompetently or carelessly made.

    From Snake and Ladders by way of Rhoneisms. We’ve been looking at furniture lately and:

    1. You can’t even get it because supply chains are fucked.
    2. It’s nearly impossible to distinguish crap from not-crap. Furniture brands are spun up out of the ether to repackage the same item at different price tiers, and with so many of the stores going all online, the details of the quality of the fabric, stitching, construction, are passed off to the reviews of previous buyers, who may or may not be real.

    I take back that everything is crap, but the paradox of choice only serves to make me think that, by default, something is crap unless proven otherwise.


    If you follow me on RSS (or, simply look at the post below this one), you might have seen some odd things pop up. For a while I’ve wanted to be able to post to here “like Twitter”, i.e. from my phone and as easily as possible. The entire site is driven from Markdown files in Git, so I hooked up a Netlify function to take in a JSON POST body and send the picture to an S3 bucket and the content to Github as a new commit on main, and an iOS Shortcut to export a photo from Photos and allow me to append some text to it. And it works! Mostly! I don’t delete my mistakes, so if you click on “permalink” on the post below it, uh, goes nowhere. Once it goes somewhere I’ll write up some details on how it works.

  • Jake is a cat

    [Sep 30, 2021]

    Jake is a cat


  • Weeknotes for the week ending September 26, 2021

    [Sep 26, 2021]

    iOS 15

    I upgraded all of my iDevices to iOS15 (or… whatever their equivalents are called. tvOS/HomeOS something-point-oh). A few quick notes:

    • The hassle of micro-services, in your own home!: I had a home automation that was set to turn the lights on at 7:30am. When I set it up, it worked! Later, it stopped working. The lights would turn on at 10:30am. Clearly a timezone issue, but from what? Not my phone, the Hue app and hub seemed to think it was in the same location as us. I checked the HomePod, also EST, updated it and it started working at 7:30am again. Until this week, when it went back to 10:30am. I finally figured out that the Apple TV was set to its original Cupertino time zone (why, though?) and depending on some magical cloud logic the Homepod and Apple TV would switch off being the “home hub”.
    • Don’t remind me: I used to run the iOS betas on my iPad. I used to use Apple Notes and Reminders. That is, until one iOS update required redoing the Reminders database, and the Reminders app was out of sync between my devices until a new version of iOS and MacOS were released. That was years ago, and yet that remains a problem today. You added tags to your reminders and made a smart list? Neat, you can see them on your Mac in a few months. Maybe, assuming MacOS releases on time. It’s worth it to use 3rd party replacements for both of those apps because you’ll at least get major updates across platforms all at once. It is insane to me that Apple still ties minor software updates to major OS releases. I will acknowledge that they gave us Safari 15 early, but the system browser being tied to the operating system was a bad idea 20 years ago so let’s not be too impressed.

    Beyond those gripes, there’s a ton of low level quality of life improvements. The new maps font is nice. Widgets on the iPad are great (although I wonder why it took an extra release to get them), and the redesigned multitasking UI makes it much more usable. The UI team working on the Weather app is amazing.

    Hitchin’ a ride

    2014 Subaru Forester with the bumper removed for a hitch install.

    I put a trailer hitch on our Forester on Saturday. I wanted a hitch mount rack for the new bike - it’s way too long and heavy for me to easily get on and off the roof rack, but that necessitated having a hitch to put the hitch rack on first. I decided to do it myself because sometimes I enjoy working on cars, and I found a version of the install that that involved no drilling, only wrenching. Some thoughts:

    • I used to work on cars a lot. I used to be under my first car (a Subaru WRX) all the time, to the point where almost nothing on that car was original. I used to throw it up on jack stands, hip check the car to make sure it wouldn’t fall off, then dive under it. I would never, ever consider that these days. Somewhere between that car and this car I had cars where I did work on them because it was “cheaper” and messed things up (in occasionally catastrophic ways). These days I stick to easy bolt-on or rewire improvements.
    • If you’re not someone who works on cars: modern cars are a frame and 40,000 plastic clips holding the body on and that’s it. I had my daughter come out and help put the bumper back on, at first she thought I had broken something (not a bad guess), then she assumed it was much too heavy for her to pick up, then she picked it up and noticed that it was “wobbling all over!”. I let her slap it into the clips along the edges and use a socket wrench to put in the two (!) bolts that hold it on.
    • I ended up getting a rockymounts MonoRail Solo. Like everything bike related there were a ton of options and most of them weren’t in stock. I like this one because it only holds one bike. For some reason bike rack designers think everyone rides with friends and they drive to the trails together.

    Stop, don’t shop

    • I’ve given up on Stop and Shop. I go there because it’s close, and during the pandemic they had lots of self checkout lanes so you could get in and out pretty quick. But now they’ve done something to the self checkout lanes that basically goes like this:

      1. Ring item.
      2. Open bag to put place item in.
      3. Place item in bag.
      4. Error that there is an unscanned item in the bagging area.

    It’s… it’s the bag. Why would I put something in the bagging area and not put it in a bag? I don’t know what shit update they pushed recently that made this start happening but the only solution is to either pile everything into the 2’x1’ bagging area and bag it at the end, or get someone to wave their card at the machine every time you add a new bag.

    And before you’re like “well it’s Stop and Shop, what do you expect” let me tell you the developers who made that change and the ones who write car automation software differ only in ambition, not intelligence.


    At some point I’m going to write something about how being a Tech Director for 6 months has gone. It’s gone well so maybe I should just leave it at that and save the rest of the psychopath’s playground (LinkedIn).

    • We’ve had a little snake hanging out in our backyard. Lorelei and I went out this evening to see if we could find it. We didn’t, instead we found… baby snakes!

    Baby snake

  • A fresh coat of paint

    [Sep 24, 2021]

    With Safari 15 supporting browser chrome colors, I thought I’d throw a fresh coat of paint on the site. I made dark mode work again as well, although I think there are some pieces missing. If only I’d made a styleguide for the site instead of throwing everything together as I thought of it.

  • Weeknotes for the week ending September 19, 2021

    [Sep 19, 2021]

    This week, summed up in two short scenes with my daughter.

    Reading is fundamental

    Scene: Local restaurant, on the outdoor patio. A rare family dinner outside the house because the grandparents were visiting before they set off on a cross-country train ride.

    👨: What do you want to eat here?
    👧: Hot dog!
    👨: Are hot dogs on the menu?
    👧: I dunno?
    👨: Read the menu and see if you can find hot dogs.
    👧: I can’t read!
    👨: Yes you can, look at the menu and pick out something.
    👧: Pizza! Ice cream! Waffles!

    Later, outside after dusk. My father and daughter are talking about stars in the sky.

    👧: Can I see your phone, I want to know what star that is.
    👨: Opens Sky Guide, hands over phone.
    👧: Oh, it’s Jupiter.
    👨: How do you know?
    👧: Points at screen. Ju-pi-ter. It says Jupiter.
    👨: Picks up daughter by shoulders, turns her 45 degrees.
    👨: What about that one over there?
    👧: Venus!
    👨: So you... can read?
    👧: Noooooooooooooooo


    Scene: at Stage Fort Park, down on the “boardwalk” looking at the ocean.

    👧: Look, a shark!
    👨: I don’t think there are sharks here.
    👧: It’s right there!
    👨: It’s probably just a ro… oh it is a shark.
    Sandshark in the water near Stage Fort Park in Gloucester


    • I’ve used Magnet for window management on MacOS for a long time, but it turns out there’s a free option called Rectangle that works just as well, and you can install it via Homebrew, which is extra great because I have zero interest in using Mac App store apps on my work Mac.
    • I went too long before getting my coffee this morning (we picked up breakfast on the car ride over to aforementioned shark park), and the coffee was weak compared to what I make at home. Took a while to recover. Maybe I should have gotten onlyfunctionalwith.coffee instead.
  • Weeknotes for the week ending September 12, 2021

    [Sep 13, 2021]

    Blarg. That’s my high level recap of the week. Nothing bad happened, just a lot of blarg. I think it’s a bit of recovering from the whiplash of going from “school is about to start” to “September is almost half over”.

    First grade

    So far the reports from Lorelei about First grade have been more about her friends and what she does during the day than her Kindergarten reports, which were mostly about what they had for lunch and how she didn’t get lost at any point during the day. It’s nice that we’ve gone from like, hardened Mafia crime boss who won’t say a thing to low level goon looking to maybe give us enough to let them go.

    Take the skinheads gaming

    Recently I’ve had a semi-regular “gaming night”, and I was thinking the other day it’s a continuation of “semi-active, semi-social nights” I’ve had in the past. For a long time I was in a bowling league (one in Connecticut, one in Boston), and after / concurrently with that I played in a co-ed softball league. There’s a lot of similarity, you want something that requires some (but not too much) skill, has a few breaks to catch up with the people you’re playing with, and (this part might be crucial) isn’t impeded if you chose to drink alcohol the entire time you’re doing it.

    Every once in a while I think “I miss playing softball”, but tonight I took Lorelei to a local park and was watching a game being played on a nearby field, and saw someone slap a line-drive at the second baseman off a carbon fiber bat and I immediately went to “oh no I don’t miss that”. Bowling, on the other hand, I occasionally look at what it would take to open my own lane.


    Tallboy at Gordon College

    Took the bike out this weekend and on the way back someone felt the need to yell, “HEY MAN NICE BIKE” at me from his truck. This is not the first time this has happened, and I don’t understand why! That said, two hours in the woods was a pretty good way to beat the blargs.


  • The Girls' Guide To Hunting And Fishing

    [Sep 13, 2021]
  • Weeknotes for the week ending September 5, 2021

    [Sep 5, 2021]

    First day of first grade

    Lorelei wearing her first grade crown.

    Started another school year. We’re doing in person this year, and Lorelei (and we) are much happier about that. The town didn’t have open arguments about mask usage, and the kids don’t seem to mind wearing them, and most of the parents seem reasonable around here, outside of some S-tier dumb-assess who showed up to the meet-and-greet day wearing AR-15 apparel1.

    If you think of everything in seasons, this Fall feels more optimistic than last Fall. Less “this isn’t what I wanted” and more “this isn’t what I expected” which is par for the course of life.

    NBD (new bike day)

    My new 2021 Santa Cruz Tallboy. Last time it’ll ever be clean.

    I’ve been biking nearly as long as I’ve been walking, and mountain biking only a bit less than that, but for the last few years I’ve been without a mountain bike. The last one I had was a Santa Cruz Nickel frame that I had slapped hand me down parts on, which was a nice enough bike, but it went into storage for a while and when it came out I realized a lot of those parts needed to be replaced, and if I was going to do that, wouldn’t it make more sense to buy something newer with bigger wheels? Sure. So I sold it, and then put off finding its replacement thinking, well, there’s house projects that need funding, and how often do I really have time with a kid, and all other excuses. I finally decided to look at getting a new bike in 2020 but… they all quickly disappeared. This Summer I finally said I’m going to find something and kept tabs open at all the local shops and online, and found this 2021 Tallboy on evo that’s likely a hold over shipment from last years orders. I’ve been out on two rides, and it’s a lot like the Nickel but with bigger wheels, so in the end I got what I wanted. I will add, mountain biking has gotten harder in the last 4 or 5 years that I’ve been away from it. Like, the mountains 2 got bigger, or all the rain this year really washed out a lot more roots. It’s definitely not me being older or more out of shape.


    Finished A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet. Years of Catholic schooling has left me a fan of ominous, religious literary fiction. This book mixes a few themes: the failings of the generations who came before us, global warming and the changing climate, the separation (or lack thereof) between religion and science. It doesn’t pull them altogether in one driving plot action, but neither does the Bible, so I think that’s the point.

    I mentioned last week I re-did my reading list page to pull from the Notion API. I just realized that while it works wonderfully on localhost, the images don’t actually show up here. Something to add to the todo list.

    1. One had a particularly dumb slogan on it, so I looked it up and… yeah. Let me tell you I never feel like a FREE person until I put on my $35 sloganized t-shirt. I’m sure they do some great advertising on Facebook.
    2. “Mountain biking” in seacoast Southern New England is a bit of a funny term. “Small hill filled with tree root biking” would be the better term.
  • A Children's Bible

    [Sep 5, 2021]
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