Thoughts for the week’s end

Or: Thoughts for the year’s end.

Or: Thoughts for the week’s end, 31/31.

This is probably my dozenth attempt at a “what would it look like to track some notes over the week and schedule it to publish on Friday” post. We’ll see if it works.

Thoughts for the week’s end – December 20, 2019

A little over a year ago, I wrote the above at the bottom of the first of this series. A little over a year later and I’m generally happy with how it’s turned out. 31 posts over ~54 weeks means I probably did a bit better than I expected with “we’ll see if it works.”

There was a real groove at the beginning. Nothing felt forced and I felt comfortable with the mostly Friday schedule. Thursday evening is a nice time to sit and collect the thoughts of the week into some blurbs to look back on one day.

As years go, things got busier and then slower and then just continually weird as the COVID-powered clock seemed to blur things together for months at a time in simultaneous slow and fast motion. Things started to feel a bit forced every time I sat down to write something after not doing so for a couple weeks.

I had already given thought to rebooting things at the end of the year when I ran into Robin Sloan’s Advice for newsletter-ers, in which he suggests: “A personal email newsletter ought to be divided into seasons, just like a TV show.

This is personal, though it’s not an email newsletter. I write for myself—mostly—because I like going back and checking in on how things were. I also write some things in the hope that specific people end up reading them. It’s fun to casually share thoughts as we maneuver through, uh… life?

Anyhow. I like the idea of mixing things up.

So this is the last in the series of thoughts for the week’s end. Future thoughts will be reborn as something(s) else in the new year. If you are reading this, thanks for tuning in over the last year! 🥃

My work-related treat to myself last year was one of these fancy UPDESK adjustable standing desks. It’s been fantastic and has led to a nice routine where I start the day off on my feet and then switch to chair level sometime after lunch.

The desk came with a monitor arm and for some reason I postponed its installation when I put the desk together and stuck with the tried and true method of “monitor resting on books” instead. This week I finally cleared things off and installed the monitor arm! It’s been a little funky to get used to, but has created a whole bunch of room for clutter to start gathering on the back half of the desk.

I finally upgraded to Big Sur this week. Skipped Catalina entirely!

This may have actually been the smoothest my dotfiles setup has worked out since I first started using it in 2016. Of course I haven’t actually tried to do any development yet. I’m sure I’ll start grumbling soon!

I used to play guitar a lot, now I play not so much or at all. But someday I’ll play guitar a lot again.

Me, in my MySpace profile, many years ago. Maybe 2006?

In the process of backing things up before the upgrade, I started browsing through old archives and found a text file with a copy/pasted version of my last MySpace profile that contains these hopefully prescient words.

The new guitar, a Gibson SG Standard ’61, arrived at the end of last week. The new amp, a VOX AC15, arrived yesterday.

They’re beautiful. I’m so stoked.

I’ve so far been able to resist making the neighborhood hate me. Luckily the VOX has a separate volume control for the preamp so you can play with the tone without going all out. I played along with Daytripper about a dozen times and just couldn’t get enough. 😍

The snow snowed in earnest today! We headed out to the WSU Arboretum for a great hike in boots. It was almost deep enough to enjoy with snowshoes, but a bit thin in some places. We were the first to touch a few of the trails in the trees, which made the setting that much more peaceful.

The conditions at Palouse Divide are looking excellent. The road is currently snow covered and the trees are looking fluffy on the road cam. We may still get some snowshoeing in before the end of the year! ❄️

Thoughts for the week’s end

Lyrics can mean a lot of things, but it’s great when you can find a meaning that fits for you for a time. Thirteen years ago, Dave Grohl wrote this chorus to The Pretender:

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say I will never surrender?

We watched the video by chance on Friday night—after enjoying the latest from The Hanukkah Sessions—and it creates this fantastic scene where the band faces off against a line of riot police. That visual combined with these lyrics made the song feel perfect as an anti-grift anthem.

We’re not one of your plays. We’re standing our ground. Move along.

Is it ‘Grifter’ or ‘Grafter’? Probably both!

The sun’s path has moved so far to the south that it now shines in my eyes through my south facing window at 11:20am and I have to close the blinds.

Further encouragement to stay standing until after lunch. Thanks, sun!

An errant pingback led me to reread my series of deployment workflows that I wrote up way back in 2015.

Two thoughts: Oh how great it would be to go back and redo all of those with new knowledge and GitHub Actions. And, I still love this quote from the Guardian’s development team:

We view an application with a long uptime as a risk. It can be a sign that there’s fear to deploy it, or that a backlog of changes is building up, leading to a more risky release. Even for systems that are not being actively developed, there’s value in deploying with some regularity to make sure we still have confidence in the process.

We really enjoyed Babylon Berlin on Netflix a few weeks ago and cruised through both seasons.

One great line from a journalist in the show, complaining about the preference for flashy headlines in the paper rather than real, meaty news: “We used to have readers, now we have lookers.

An Allen Ginsberg poem, ‘Back on Times Square, Dreaming of Times Square’, from 1958, includes the following lines:

The movies took our language, the
             great red signs
        Teenage nightmare
    Hooligans of the moon

This poem set me down a road, listening to recordings and recordings of Ginsberg reading the poem to learn the pacing for those lines.

I’m not sure what would be cooler: Two movies, one titled “Hooligans of the moon“, or one movie titled “Teenage nightmare hooligans of the moon“.

I’m 41 now, so I refer to all teenagers—in jest!—as hooligans or hoodlums. It’s a fantastic thing that comes with age.

I’ve mentioned The Guardian’s Books that made me series before, and I still look forward to reading it every week. The app now notifies me when it appears for Friday, so it’s become slightly less happenstance.

I recently found the similar By the Book series in the NY Times. It hasn’t been as interesting as Books that made me, but it’s still fun to read what others are reading.

The only downside is how quickly the ‘want to read’ list grows.

I hope nobody is planning a large vaccine heist, but I also hope that someone is writing an excellent vaccine heist movie.

A clatter interrupted Smiley’s reverie. In the kitchen, Mostyn the boy had dropped a plate. At the telephone Lauder Strickland wheeled round, demanding quiet. But he already had it again.

Smiley’s People

John le Carré passed away today.

I started reading the George Smiley series on the flight back from WordCamp US in 2017. I got on the plane in Philadelphia, opened my kindle, started The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, and finished it as we started our descent into Seattle. It was the first time in a while I had read a novel in one sitting and it was so much fun.

Soon after I cruised through six others in the series and then just stopped. I’ve had The Secret Pilgrim waiting on my Kindle for a couple years now, ready to go. Now is as good a time as any to pick it back up!

If all goes well, this next week is the last work week of the year. I’m looking forward to a couple weeks of reading, tinkering, maybe upgrading my laptop from uh… Mojave.

Maybe forgetting the computer exists most days.

We’ve just had our first “hey, I’m pretty sure this snow is going to stick around this time” snow of the year. The cameras on the road heading up to Palouse Divide seem to show snow piling up.

My hope is that snowshoe season is arriving and we’ll soon be out having some powdery fun. ❄️ 🥃

Thoughts for the week’s end

If you ever get close to a human
And human behaviour
Be ready, be ready to get confused
There’s definitely, definitely, definitely no logic
To human behaviour
But yet so, yet so irresistible

And there is no map

They’re terribly, terribly, terribly moody
Oh, human behaviour
Then all of a sudden turn happy
But, oh, to get involved in the exchange
Of human emotions
Is ever so, ever so satisfying

Björk, Human Behavior

Later in the song: “and a compass wouldn’t help at all.”

How perfect for every year; how perfect for 2020.

I still haven’t made a visit to buy a guitar. I’m at the stage of my mental process where I need to practice playing a handful of things beforehand so that I don’t look like an idiot when I’m actually trying to find the one I want. Bonus though, the local music shop has started putting their inventory online. This will make browsing in a pandemic much easier.

Those Gretsch’s do have a nice look to them. 🤔

It used to be there weren’t services for posts like this: sharing short thoughts, tracking movie watches, reviewing books—so I defaulted to using my website. Centralized, “free” services then provided a false sense of sharing, and now I’m out of practice.

Twitter as a 14 year distraction.

I have been working on keeping my site open in a tab more frequently so that I can capture a thought when it happens or adjust an existing draft when something relevant floats by. This has made me start to think more about the idea of WordPress as an “operating system for the web”, which I’ve kind of laughed about in the past.

As unsure as I am about that term, it would be fun to use my site as a window to more things. I started working on one of those a few weeks ago. I’ll share it sometime soon. 🙂

A lowercase “q” is a very strange character to write by hand.

I must not do it often because I found it very confusing all of a sudden when trying to write the word “quiet” in a note somewhere. Of course once I was focused on how weird it looked, there was no way I was going to be able to get it right, so I now have a piece of paper full of strange looking qs.

Thom Yorke’s “So I declare a holiday. Fall asleep, drift away.” in Sulk will never get tiring. It’s not necessarily a hopeful song, and that line isn’t really a hopeful line, but the way it’s sung makes me hope that it could be sung hopefully one day. I mean, waking up and declaring a holiday, how great!

Definitely thinking about the Telecaster more and more while listening to The Bends on repeat.

Definitely getting more hopeful about 2021.

Have I mentioned Bremer/McCoy’s Utopia before? Yes. It remains a good, relaxing listen and helpful for a writing mood.

Among other things, the bass on Salig is absolutely pleasant. 🥃

Thoughts for the week’s end

I’m accepting that I can write these whenever I want. Maybe next year I’ll change the title.

Or, the combination of pandemic and election is still making days seem like weeks and months seem like days, so maybe election day really is the week’s end.

If it is, here we are.

I’m trying to restrain any optimism but I’m also very much looking forward to the American public standing up and decisively showing Trump the door.

It snowed a couple weeks ago and got cold for a few days. It’s a shock to have winter before fall even has a chance to get going. But we’re back in the steady 50s until this weekend. Michelle mentioned that we should start tracking the number of days from first Junco sighting to snowfall.

The internet was all so much easier to grasp when the metric was the total number of users an online service had. It then became how many of those were active users. Now it’s about the average amount of time each user spends “engaged” with the platform. So of course it just gets worse.

The more time we spend with a platform, the less time we’re spending doing normal things that keep the world healthy.

What’s strange is we still call them “social networks” when they’ve become an algorithmic firehose.

I released a plugin to the WP plugin repo for the first time in a gazillion years. Self Sustaining Spam Stopper has been doing a good job on this site of stopping spam without relying on an external spam service and I wanted to use it on more sites. An easy way of deploying useful open source code to sites on multiple hosting platforms is to use 😎

I’ve published 62 posts on this site in 2020. This is right about the same as the number of posts I posted in 2018 and 2019 combined or in 2015, 2016, and 2017 combined. So things are trending better if publishing more is my objective, which it mostly is.

There’s something therapeutic about writing notes like this throughout the week and shipping them off as a “posts”. I’m thinking more and more about how to use the rest of the site as my own repository of other stuff as well. So I guess at some point it’s not about how many posts are published, but how active and healthy the site is. Or—how much it helps my future self when reflecting, pondering, etc…

There is no way I will ever claim to write good code. I know for a fact that I have written bad code. One thing I used to think is that I could abstract things into pieces that could be understood by somebody who came along behind me because they were organized naturally. Nothing about code is natural, so of course this isn’t the case. IMO.

A spammy email came in a few weeks ago from someone who “noticed” a broken link on one of my posts and suggested that I replace it with a link to their write-up on the topic. It turned out to be a nice notification of a broken link, so I updated it to the Wikipedia article instead and then forgot about it until they followed up with me this week to check if I had seen their email. If only I wasn’t so jaded by this kind of non-contextual content marketing. Maybe I’ll send a thank you note anyway.

Okay, time to go all in and participate in the quadrennial ritual of binging election coverage and pretending that keeping track of maps and numbers will make everything better.

One scotch, one bourbon, one beer—but in reverse tonight. 🥃

Thoughts for the week’s end

Crisp mornings this week! I don’t think we went on a single walk without jackets.

This may sound silly, but it’s my blog and I’ll sound silly if I want to.

I’m sipping on some Nuvo coffee (a light roast, I forget which) that I made in a moka pot mixed with a shot of Green Spot Irish whiskey and it’s one of the most pleasant things I’ve consumed.

Happy fall, indeed.

I’ve recently switched from espresso in the afternoons to the moka pot and was happy that my “recipe” from 2018 held up. I’ve enjoyed light roasts, medium roasts, dark roasts—every single cup has been excellent. This is so very strange to me because I used to be horrible at making coffee in the moka pot.

The above is an example of how my eating and drinking habits work in patterns. I’ll have the same coffee using the same method for an entire year until one weird thing makes me switch for a day and then I’ll do that until… etc.

I’ve been having fun with Scott’s Name That Tune series on YouTube even though I’ve proven to be horrible at it so far. I know almost all of the songs after the fact, but there’s something about trying to guess the song that makes me draw blanks.

As someone who is exactly in the same age bracket, I also appreciate the commentary on various songs from the 90s and aughts. I may spend the next week working through some throwback playlists.

For a long while I’ve joined a regular Zoom meeting for which I don’t have a clickable link. Instead, I’ve hunted through my email for the meeting ID each time.

Every time I did this I wished there was a list in the Zoom UI of previous meetings so I could just select it and go.

Turns out there is this list, I had just never actually tried to click the down arrow on the meeting ID field. 🤦🏻‍♂️

A new to me fact that blew my mind a month or so ago was that a 1km3 cloud contains about 1.1 million pounds of water.

According to more napkin math, that’s somewhere around 4 to 5 times more water than a good water drinker will consume in their lifetime.

You’re welcome.

We’ve been cruising through Halt and Catch Fire finally. It’s a show I’ve wanted to watch for a while, but hung just out of grasp when making show decisions for the last few years.

It’s very fantastic and I love the characters and the reminiscing and some of the insights into 80s tech that I lived through, but only as the child who got to play the games and write the most BASIC of programs.

It also suffers from AMC syndrome. If that’s a thing. Episode 8 of every season feels like the season finale and it’s done so excellent. And then so much time is spent setting things up for the next season that you wonder why they don’t just have 8 episode seasons instead of 10.

Anyhow. We’re on the last season. It’s great. I’ll be a little sad when it’s over. I’ve enjoyed the reminiscing, as I do.

Voted! Now to wait. Only a couple more weeks to go, may we continue hanging on.

Today I learned “outwith“, which I kind of love, so I’m documenting it here. I especially love that it’s a word that appears to be increasing in use, which means there may be time to figure out how to use it without it sounding awkward.

A few weeks ago—thanks to a crossword—I became enamored with “i’d’ve“, as a double contraction. I didn’t give any thought until today to how there may be many more. Now to use y’all’ll somewhere.

A fall weather note for comparison next year.

It was only over the last few days that one of our maples turned deep red. The other is still in that “I’m greenish-almost-yellow-but-check-back-tomorrow” phase.

The juncos have multiplied. And the rain has begun.