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  • Weeknotes for the week ending November 28, 2021

    [Nov 28, 2021]

    Since we did the family Thanksgiving last weekend, the last four days have been nothing but relaxation for us. The six-year old watched TV until her brain melted, my wife read books or did research until her brain melted, and I just kind of chilled until my already melted brain reshaped. Or something. Maybe it’s still a little gooey.

    The end of spooky season…

    I picked up the RESIDENT EVIL 2 remake around Halloween. I finally beat it this weekend. I’m not usually a fan of games that you have to play through twice to completely enjoy but I went through both the Claire and Leon runs and I'm glad I did. I played the original game on the N64 and never beat it, so this might set a record for the longest time to finish a game.

    I also said last week that I would start reading again, and I did. I finished Mexican Gothic, which was a well done little bit of horror. I think pretty early on it became obvious where the plot was going so I sped through the later half of the book but I'd still recommend it 1.

    …start of snowy season

    Put up the tree. Immediately the cats starting losing their minds.

    Maggie under the Christmas tree

    We also watched The Shop Around the Corner which is the lesser known of the Jimmy Stewart Christmas movies. Arguably the better of the two.

    Remapping my life

    Every year around Christmas / New Years I look at the systems I used for my personal life the year before and reevaluate things. This year I wanted to get a head start on it, mainly because in past years if I start something at the beginning of the New Year and then find out three months in it’s not working I think “well I’ve already got three months” in or “well there’s only nine months left?” or some such silly ideas.

    Today I sat down and organized Things, Bear, and iCloud to all be in line. Essentially I borrowed the structure from Things (Areas with Projects in them) and used that in Bear and iCloud. So now at the top level of iCloud there’s the areas, and inside of that there are folders that correspond to a project or context for that area. Same with Bear, there’s top level tags for the areas, and second level tags for the projects / context.

    Some notes on the process:

    • MacOS allows you to add comments to files and folders and show them in Finder. Between that and tags I can’t think of a reason to add an external app on top of this to organize files.
    • There’s a folder in Finder labeled something along the lines of “IDFK what any of this is”. I’ll get to it… eventually. The point is there is only one folder named that now, not multiple.
    • The remnants of the early days of doing iCloud storage means that the / folder of iCloud is a disaster to organize, so I created this structure inside of /documents instead, and the top level can be whatever apps want to make of it.
    • Bear has been the hardest to get through, because for a bit I thought I could just map connected ideas by hashtags, so there were way too many top level hashtags. So now it’s either remove the hashtag, or delete the note, or find a better one.

    I did find this in one of my Bear notes, from Think Again:

    As Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio told me, “If you don’t look back at yourself and think, ‘Wow, how stupid was I a year ago,’ then you must not have learned much in the last year.”

    So I guess I learned something in the last year?

    COVID time

    I might have more thoughts on this later2, but for now I’m just here to point out that with us entering COVID round three…

    Street Fighter round three start screen

    …we’re looking at two years of whatever we’ve been calling the last two years, and should probably stop talking about “the new normal” or “the way things were” and start living like things are as they are. I suppose it’s a human way of thinking to say “now is bad but the future will be different and better!” but… I dunno, it’s probably not!


    1. In case you’re thinking “Joe that doesn’t seem nearly lazy enough for a lazy long weekend” I also made it to the final boss of Metroid Dread, figured out how the loop works in Deathloop and started a second book. This isn’t quite pre-kid levels of lazy but now that she’s old enough to be lazy herself it’s getting closer.
    2. Is having thoughts on days that aren’t Sunday part of why I reorganized all my projects/notes/files? Stay tuned!
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  • Mexican Gothic

    [Nov 26, 2021]
  • Weeknotes for the week ending November 21, 2021

    [Nov 22, 2021]

    Thanksgiving

    We did Thanksgiving this weekend with my parents. I’m a big fan of doing holiday gatherings not on holidays, whenever possible, because traveling and planning is so much easier. Some menu notes from this year:

    • I spatchcocked the turkey, coated it in mayonnaise and bird herbs and cooked at 450° for about 80 minutes (it was a 12.something pound bird). Came out fantastic. Only tough part is going full Predator and pulling the backbone out.
    • If you’re going to make sweet potato casserole and attempt to cook it with the turkey at 450°, do not put it under the turkey pan unless you want the marshmallows to immediately caramelize.
    • I made the easy self-rising biscuits with King Arthur Self Rising Flour. Easy, like it says, came out great.
    • Homemade cranberry sauce is the big winner (for me). I did it this year with 1/4 cup of red wine we had open and orange zest.
    • Stuffing and gravy we’ve outsourced to store bought. Both take too long to make for the end result (and you won’t have any drippings cooking the turkey the way I did).
    • Maple-Honey Pecan Pie for dessert. A++++, would eat again.

    I don’t have any pictures because this isn’t Instagram. I made the food, I ate the food.

    Speaker of the House

    I ordered new speakers / tried out switching around the ones we had. I picked up the two base, not ad-revenue-driven “smart speakers” on the market, the Apple Homepod Mini and the Ikea Symfonisk shelfspeaker. Both are around $100. They’re both… ok. They work for what I wanted them for, the Homepod (mini) is in an office, and the Symfonisk is in the basement literally being used as a shelf. If I didn’t also want a shelf I think a stereo pair of dumb speakers would have blown it away. I also tried the mini as the output for the TV (haha - no!), and tried the Homepod in place of the lower-end soundbar we have. I think a stereo pair of Homepods would sound great. I’d think a stereo pair up front and stereo minis as satellites should work really great. I expect that will be a thing Apple sells and supports just before the heat-death of the universe.

    etc

    • Why SOLID principles are still the foundation for modern software architecture. I liked this article from one of the Stack Overflow emails this week. Good examples of SOLID were always from class based languages, which made it hard to get in my head which had (until recently) only had working knowledge of languages that didn’t have classical inheritance at all.
    • The secret of the macOS Monterey network quality tool never hit fast.com again!
    • I haven’t finished a book since early September. Maybe because I tend to read for a few hours on weekend mornings when I am reading a lot, and those hours have been replaced with mountain biking. Or I got stuck on a boring book and found myself overly distracted reading digital ones. Either way, I got some more dead-tree books today. Winter is coming, and all.
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  • Weeknotes for the week ending November 14, 2021

    [Nov 14, 2021]

    🍂🍂🍂

    Lorelei riding her bike at the school. A bird’s nest with broken eggs on top of a pile of leaves. A mountain bike in the woods next to a beat up couch.

    etc

    • Our not quite five-year-old LCD TV has been acting up lately, sometimes turning two solid colors and then shutting down, sometimes not wanting to turn on, sometimes not wanting to turn off. Like any piece of modern technology, debugging the issue is a combination of:
      • Check every physical input, output, and also the software settings on the inputs and outputs.
      • Check the software settings on the TV itself.
      • Reset all of the above.
      • If it’s still failing you can narrow it down to a hardware issue. The TV has a mainboard, a T-Con board, and a power controller. Try to figure out, based on what’s failing, which of these is most likely. Given the set of symptoms I’ve seen, they all seem equally likely.
      • Do some mental math on whether or not the cost of parts + time is < a new TV, factoring in that the new TV will have 5 years of technology improvements.
      • Now do the last equation but factor in that the new TV will also have 5 years of additional software related issues.
      • Give up, go outside.
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  • Weeknotes for the week ending November 7, 2021

    [Nov 8, 2021]

    Not a lot of updates this week. It was a super busy one at work, so that was my main focus. When things get busy my journaling falls off first, then scraps of notes, then photos, and I’ve got like two photos from this week so I guess that means something.

    Daylight Savings

    The Solar Dial is my “weekend” watch face for my Apple Watch. It’s set to show the temperature, when the Sun is going to set, and if it’s going to rain - and also the date because I have never, in my life, had any fucking idea what day it is. Today it gets a bit more fun by lining up on both sides.

    The Solar Dial on my Apple Watch on Daylight Savings.

    Unfortunately for the next months it will slowly descend into a tiny sliver of sunlight. I should put on my bucket list taking it to a location with 24 hours of sunlight.

    etc

    • Some new BMWs won't have touchscreens thanks to chip shortage. Finally some good news from the chip shortage. I never thought touchscreens would catch on in cars. I get it, it’s cheaper to make a UI with no physical constraints, but of all places to add more distractions. I’d like to believe that the lack of chips will lead designers to think — does this need a screen? Does this need a chip to manage controls? Can it be done physically? I know the more likely outcome is another World War to control supply, or countries colonizing planets for materials à la The Expanse, but as someone who is primarily a UI developer, maybe I should be happy for the job security. The robots will fight the wars, right?
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  • Weeknotes for the week ending October 31, 2021

    [Oct 31, 2021]

    Writing this while manning the trick-or-treat duties. Not a lot of kids so far this year3, which is surprising. Last year we had a decent turnout even with COVID and it being below freezing.

    Our house, decorated for Halloween

    Y, the First Book

    I started re-reading Y: The Last Man. We’ve been watching the TV series on Hulu, but I’d forgotten the exact plot beats of the comic. Y was the first comic I got into when I got back into comics as an adult, and I’m enjoying how the TV series is going deeper into some character’s backstories, being more subtle about others1, and splitting other characters into multiple characters (and going deeper into the backstories of both!). I’m glad it’s getting the treatment it deserves.

    Elfa on the shelf

    I ripped down a bunch of builder’s favorite Closetmaid shelves in our house this week, and replaced them with Elfa shelving. They aren’t cheap, but I do like that you can set the entire thing up with 6 screws in a headrail, and then make infinite2 layers of shelves in-between. The only complaint is that every piece has a sticker on it, and about 84% of the installation time is peeling stickers and getting rid of packaging.

    etc

    Lorelei is back home with a pile of candy. Small turnout this year so… I think I’m gonna help myself to one two a few of these candies we bought to hand out.

    Oh and if you’re curious, my Halloween candy power rankings:

    1. Butterfinger. They are way too sweet and I would never eat one outside of Halloween but that once a year sensation of jamming them all up in your gums is chef’s kiss.
    2. Kit Kat. Also not a candy I enjoy outside of Halloween, but I appreciate that they’ve optimized for sharing.
    3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups/Bats/Vampires/Mummies/whatever. I’m old enough that I find Reese’s peanut butter horrifyingly sweet, but again, once a year, gimme gimme.
    4. All of the sour / fruit flavored stuff.
    5. Everything else. Not because any of them are bad, but because we live in such a land of plenty that anything that isn’t immediately consumed has to quickly fight with Thanksgiving pies and then Christmas candies and then on a day in the deepest, darkest part of February you’ll find a leftover Snickers in the cupboard and eat it and it will bring you no joy, only despair in the knowledge that time marches ever onward, and even the sweetest treats can be reduced to a stale, tasteless lump of its former glory.

    Happy Halloween!


    1. By the time I finished writing this we were at about 20 trick-or-treaters, closer to average for this house.
    2. No spoilers, but the comic starts off by throwing a bunch of theories at the reader as to why all the men died, and the TV series is very much keeping one of them a secret!
    3. Or like, 8, max. It’s still a clever system.
    Permalink
  • Weeknotes for the week ending October 24, 2021

    [Oct 24, 2021]

    Get in the pit

    Days N Daze at the Middle East in Cambridge

    Went to a concert for the first time since COVID. The show was Crazy & The Brains (first punk band I’ve seen use a xylophone), Bridge City Sinners, better explained in their own words:

    And Days N Daze, short one member, but made up for with some mouth trumpet and backup from the previous bands.

    Two notes:

    • I think this was the biggest crowd I’ve been around since the last show I saw at the Middle East, in January of 2020. Go big or go home, I guess.
    • I adore that no one in Cambridge cares about other people at all. It’s already pretty on-brand for New Englanders to ignore other people, but when a person in a skull mask, leather jacket with studs, and a kilt can walk around with no one saying anything, that’s perfect.

    And shoutout to Dan for getting the tickets and convincing me to leave the house. We both acknowledged it’s a lot harder these days.

    Professional

    An iPhone 13 Pro showed up this week. I wasn’t planning on upgrading my XR (it was fine), but the AT&T trade-in for a decent amount of money only to be mind-controlled by them for the rest of your life1 was hard to pass up. Also, the number of cameras. My XR was definitely lacking in Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades energy.

    So far that camera has been great for taking pictures of my child who finds the most adorable faces to make.

    Lorelei smooshing her face

    etc

    Just posting this for posterity, so some day my kid can find this and know that I was good at video games (some times, when other people are bad).


    1. I was just pushed an update (over 5G, of course), that informed me this is not true.
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  • Even Zecora knows to wear a mask!

    [Oct 20, 2021]

    Zecora from My Little Ponies saying she needs to wear a mask to prevent infection

    From My Little Pony - Friends Forever #21 from… October of 2015. Also worth noting when the find the cure, no one (not even Applejack) makes a fuss about how they can’t be forced to take it.

    Which reminded me we watched Six Degrees of Separation last week, and there’s a scene where Will Smith’s character talks about how his father (who he pretends is Sidney Poitier) is going to make a movie version of Cats.

    History repeating, and what not.

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  • They finally remade my 2013 Macbook Pro

    [Oct 19, 2021]

    The very first blog post on this blog is about why I decided to get a Dell instead of a new Macbook Pro. I’m glad to see the new M1 Pro/Max fixes everything. I already bought an M1 Air but someday this touchbar/butterfly workbox will get replaced with one of these, so there’s that to look foward to.

    Also, that Dell I went with was fine. I ended up getting rid of it because I don’t game on PC any more. You’d still be better off with any Dell with a dedicated GPU than a Mac for gaming, even if it will pull down 400 watts of power to run.

    Permalink
  • Weeknotes for the week ending October 17, 2021

    [Oct 17, 2021]

    Let’s start with a riddle:
    Q: What do a couch and a baby have in common?
    A: If you want one now, you have to wait 10 months.

    The Jordan’s HyperMegaSuperstore

    We purchased an Ikea sectional when we moved into this house not many years ago. It was fine, it filled the space we wanted to fill, but lately it’s become spine-tinglingly uncomfortable1. We went to the Jordan’s superstore which is… definitely not one of my favorite places on Earth, but the combo of nice weather / COVID / and the fact that every scrap of furniture upholstery is sitting in a cargo ship currently lost in the middle of the Pacific meant there was hardly any one there. We ordered some new couches and a chair and they’ll be in our house (🤞) before I die.

    Since it was pretty empty, we took Lorelei to do the crazy indoor ropes course thing they have there. The excitement of it was enough to get her into the harness and up to the first level, but after a few crossings I got two big thumbs down while she held on to one of the landing posts.

    Lorelei running across the ropes course

    After that she came down and did the much closer to Earth version a few thousand times.

    Oktoberfest

    The team got together in Woostah on Monday. This is the third time I’ve seen them IRL since starting at Chewy. The entire team has joined during the COVID lockdown year era.

    A bunch of dudes sitting on a porch.

    Getting into the Spirt of the Season

    Growing up we had a few people in the neighborhood I trick-or-treated in who would take things too seriously. Like, put on a hockey mask then hide in a leaf pile with an actual chainsaw seriously. So, I’ve always been a fan of more sedate Halloween decorating. A few pumpkins, maybe some sugar skulls, a couple of leaves I failed to rake blown about. Lorelei had a specific request for spider webs this year. Sure, why not. I had to go to Home Depot anyway, so I brought her along, thinking they always have a seasonal display with some decorating stuff in it. Well, apparently the “season” appropriate for October 15th is Christmas. But! It’s 2021, and “thanks” to COVID there are hundreds of empty retail stores out there for Spirit to sink its creepy claws into. So we found one of those, which, amazingly I don’t think I’ve ever been in. They had an entire rack full of decorative spider webs. The store had probably the most people I’ve seen in a retail establishment since the beginning of the the COVID lockdown year era. We passed on the 7+ foot animatronic Baphomet but man for $300 that puts the animatronics in some local theme parks to shame.

    etc

    • Johnny Decimal. I like the idea of it, I’ve been getting better about keeping folder structures the same in any given context, e.g. Things has areas and projects under it, my notes app has the same areas and same projects, the folders under iCloud have the same areas, etc. I like the idea of adding numbers in, if only to remind you that you need an upper limit on how many things you can keep in your head.

    1. Or, I’m getting old. Or it’s both.
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