Library book haul (Mar 2019)

Me and Tara go to the library once every six weeks or so, and I was thinking of starting to make a list of the books we’ve tried/liked over time.

March 2019 library books

But that is a bit too much effort, so I’m going to start with a pic — and if I can keep this up for at least six months, then I’ll start making a list.


Feynman FTW

After a few minutes, Feynman had worked out the process of spontaneous emission, which is what Stephen Hawking became famous for a year later. Feynman had it all on my blackboard. He wasn’t interested in copying down what he’d written. He just wanted to know how nature worked, and he had just learned that isolated black holes are capable of emitting energy when you take into account quantum effects. After he finished working it out, he brushed his hands together to get the chalk dust off them, and walked out of the office.

(From http://nautil.us/blog/the-day-feynman-worked-out-black_hole-radiation-on-my-blackboard)

Books, Uncategorized

Using “x-ray” in the Kindle

(Note: this piece had been lying around from about three years ago! I had just never posted it!)

I recently discovered the “x-ray” feature in the Kindle, partly because I only recently resumed reading something on it (“Moby Dick”, two-thirds of the way in).

I can imagine it being super-helpful when going through a really big book with lots of characters etc., but clearly, it has its share of amusing entries. See the one below for “Jove”.

Life, Uncategorized

Plumbing adventures

About a month ago, the faucet in one of the bathrooms started leaking. I ignored it, until I couldn’t … and then I turned off the water supply to the faucet, thinking I’d get to it later.

All I was able to figure out was that I needed replacement cartridges. I bought these on Amazon, and then they sat around, since I had no clue how to proceed.

Luckily, Youtube is full of helpful videos on all sorts of little topics, and I found lots of “cartridge replacement” videos. But this wasn’t too useful, since there are (as I now know but hadnoidea earlier) manytypes of cartridges, with not a lot in common.

Luckily again, I was able to find a video about my specific cartridge type… phew!

Now I just had to follow the steps and … one of the steps involved two wrenches. I dug up my extra wrench, but it was no good, I needed something much larger. Okay, now I had to go buy a large wrench.

Wrench in hand, I was able to get the previous cartridge out, put the new one in and … the faucet wasn’t leaking anymore! Except now the cartridge assembly was leaking. I took everything out, put everything back in and … still leaking.

Eventually, it turned out to be a washer that either never existed, or must have fallen out when I first took the cartridge out of the packet. Either way, I reused the washer from the old cartridge, and … everything just worked.

I ended up spending an hour and half on all this today, but … totally worth it! 😀 (and not just because I have a working faucet now).

Life, Uncategorized

Where can I get these alphabet blocks? :-(

Trying to find others like this ...

I had bought some blocks a couple of years ago (too early!) and now that Tara’s going to be three, dusted them off to really use them for alphabets instead of just “blocks for a tower”.

Of course as expected, we were missing a few. Now, I could just find it again on Amazon or somesuch place, and refill missing blocks, but, how much I searched, I could not find the exact same set of blocks.

Anyway, later my wife remembered that we got these blocks at a particular shop on California Avenue, and I went there today, hoping to find them again. But unfortunately, I didn’t see them, they just don’t exist.

I even tried looking on eBay just randomly searching through all the listings for “wooden alphabetical blocks“ and hoping to see them but I didn’t.

I think I’m going to have to just settle and get one of the many other “ wooden alphabetical blocks and courtavailable on Amazon, etc.

In the meantime, someone out there didn’t recognize them from this picture (at the top of this post), please do let me know!


Monthly recap: December 2016

Sunset over Dumbarton bridge
Sunset seen while driving along the Dumbarton Bridge

I guess the theme of this month is “recovery”.

I’ve slowly started using my leg more and more, going from 0 to 25 to 75 to 100 percent of body weight allowed on it. This meant a bunch of small milestones, such as climbing the stairs, carrying something in my hand while I walk, etc.

We had some plans for Christmas, but we all fell sick with a stomach infection in the last week, which was bad for morale. Luckily, we recovered in time to enjoy the last few days of vacation time, and played a lot with Tara at home.

Miscellaneous stuff:

  • both Tara and I got a haircut on the same day
  • had whisky for the first time in two and a half months
  • visited the new location of BookBuyers in Gilroy
Tekne, Uncategorized

Brainstorming digital tool chaos

I used to think that I alone struggled with various tools and apps to manage, track and digest all the things I want to keep track of, but I now suspect this is a pretty common source of discontent.

Every few years I go through a phase of ‘churn where I signup for something new, with the hope that now, at long last, my cognitive load will lessen, ideas will be remembered, snippets and quotes will be stored and retrieved, and so on. Yet inevitably, after some initial enthusiasm, the experiment ends in deadlock and decay.

In the best case, the tool or app becomes inconvenient and sluggish, while in the worst case everything laboriously entered in is los forever. So after about a decade and half of this ridiculous waste of time, I thought I’d try to think through to figure out what exactly it is that I’m looking for.

There’s no point pretending that the one true, great tool out there will solve these problems. So this post isn’t about finding solutions, but just listing problems.

  • I need away to remind me to do something on a one-off basis
  • I need to be able to track a small group of related tasks
  • I need to be able to make lists of things, sometimes collaboratively
  • I need to be able to write medium size posts, like this one, with minimum fuss
  • I want to be able to save bookmarks (lots of them!) and find them later, by date and ‘tag’
  • I want to be able to save quotes or extracts from web pages
  • I want to be able to save pdfs and later search within them
  • I need an easy way to make short notes without making an official ‘doc’ about something with a title, etc.
  • I want to be able to quickly snap a photo of something, annotate it, and file it away, sometimes with a reminder
  • I need to make notes about a certain topic as I go along, sometimes sigh snippets of text or code, and retrieve his later by date or by ‘tag’
  • Sometimes emails have to be be turned into tasks
  • I have to be able to quickly capture thoughts and ideas for future retrieval
  • I don’t want to be locked in to proprietary formats or hidden libraries, as far as possible
  • It should be possible to ‘sync’ between devices
  • I don’t necessarily want to keep everything ‘in the cloud’
  • I want a lot of photos around, forever, accessible from everywhere
  • I need to be able to search across text, images, pdfs, but without always doing a huge amount of tagging up front
  • I want to be able to create small ‘projects’ with tasks, but without having to fight some rigid ‘true way’ of defining them (fluid due dates, deferred dates, priorities, easy capture and editing)
  • I need recurring reminders too (sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, sometimes quarterly, sometimes biannually, etc)
  • I don’t want to think too much about where to file a given snippet, all I care about is being able to look for it later as if I had filed it correctly to begin with
  • I want to avoid the risk of some one going out of business and taking my data with them (stick to regular files and plain text as far as possible)

Yeah, a lot to ask for, but also … it’s not all that much, there has to be a way to get all this to work somehow.