Random thoughts, mostly recycled from Twitter

Our bathroom sink is blocked up today, and we can’t get ahold of a plumber because it’s Saturday. 

I got this cool new Moleskine notebook with a picture of a Johnny Chair on it. Unfortunately, I haven’t really used it yet, because I can’t think of anything to write in a paper notebook. It’s so small that I feel as though I should save it for something significant. Maybe that’s the wrong approach, nevertheless. Maybe I should just start writing and something good will come up. Remember the limitations of analog media?

Still using Beeminder, and managing to stay just barely on the wagon with my goals. I set up a blogging goal, but it illustrates one of the issues with Beeminder. Progress is cumulative, so I could blog three times, and then, at least according to Beeminder, I wouldn’t have to blog again for another three weeks. That violates the spirit of the blogpact. As with many things on Beeminder, there’s probably a setting for it, and I just haven’t found it yet. I didn’t know how to set the time zone, so I tweeted about it, and someone from Beeminder helped me out.

As a workaround, I’ll refrain from noting this post on Beeminder, and will refrain from noting any blog posts unless I’m within 7 days of missing my goal.

Bad Blogging

I realize that my posts are pretty awful right now. Very introspective, and probably interesting to noone but me. They will get better, I promise. I’m in the process of finding my voice. While I do so, I’m operating under the assumption that it’s better to write something crappy than nothing at all. I *have* to do so, under the terms of the blogpact.

Part of the problem, I think, is that I’m not really in creative mode right now. My goals are learning a new programming language, studying algorithms and programming in general, getting better at guitar, and learning a new natural language. None of these really give me something to write about. If I was making a cool new thing, I could show the world the cool new thing I had made.

Nevertheless, even without going into creative mode, or without getting out of the house much, I think I could learn to adjust my style to be more interesting to other people. It’s probably about telling stories, which is not something I do naturally.

Probably the best thing for my writing would be to take a little time and plan out a post: not just barrel into it and start writing. Now that the pressure’s off on the writing, because I have seven days to plan my next post, maybe I can do that.

I’m pretty good at editing other people’s writing. I think I get that from my father and my grandmother. My grandmother is 96, and she wrote me an email today, telling me that she had found a funny juxtaposition in my thank you note to her. “Thank you for the nuts. My parents are here in San Francisco and we are eating them with pleasure.”


I failed at karaoke today. Not the attack of nerves, too scared to sing kind of fail, and not the too loud, embarrassing yourself kind of fail, but a quieter, less unpleasant kind of fail. It just wasn’t my night. I sang, but just a little. The songs didn’t seem right for me. I wasn’t even sad about it. Most people seemed to have a good time and got what they wanted out of karaoke.

What do I want about the experience of singing in public, or semi-private? I don’t think it’s the same thing most people want from singing karaoke. I think for most people, karaoke is about nostalgia, or about sharing a familiar feeling. For me, maybe it’s about sharing an uncommon feeling. The feeling I’m looking for right now is contemplative; it’s pretty. I’m listening to Cibelle’s song “Phoenix.” Maybe it sounds like that, but in a baritone key.

Or maybe kind of singing I want right now isn’t really like karaoke. It’s more like the singing my family does when we get together: everyone singing familiar folk tunes to a guitar.

Am I becoming a curmudgeon when it comes to music? With recent songs, I found the lyrics jarring, even to songs that I knew and thought I had liked.

I’ll do karaoke again, and maybe I’ll be in the right mood. I remember when I used to do lindy hop, I had nights like this, when I should have been home with a book. I’m reading Bruce Sterling’s “Love is Strange” right now, and it keeps calling me to read it. I’d better get back to my book.

I am not blogging

I am not writing a post today, because I do not feel like doing what I ought to. Writing comes easy to me, as easy as thinking. Sentences pour out of my mind without any effort at all. I have never had writer’s block. Writer’s block would be as foreign to me as thinker’s block or breather’s block. It’s as easy for me to write as it is to type.

For my wife and for my son, writing seems to be difficult. I have seen my wife write a letter to a family member, then write “ACK” on it in huge letters, rendering it unsendable, then giving up. I might tear up a sheet, too, but I’d at least start again, editing what I had. Since the letter could come from me as well as from her, I took what she had written, edited her sentences, made a mistake, crossed it out, and sent it.

My seven year old son agonizes over his homework. I have seen him spend half an hour on one sentence, which drives my wife and me up the wall. I think my daughter is more like me when it comes to writing. She cruises through a week’s worth of homework in one day.

My excuse for not writing is pure laziness, or just inattention. I just didn’t think to write something. It would be enough to set a reminder: write now, or maybe a Beeminder.

And I’m back in California again

This didn’t really settle into my mind until today, when I was outside the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, I looked out over the bay and saw the skyline of San Francisco partially enshrouded in fog. We got back from Alaska on New Year’s Day, and from Wednesday through Friday, I was heads down in a work project, adding some new features to a node.js project that I only started working on recently. Most of my work in the past few years has been in Ruby on Rails, and though I only have this project to judge from, my sense from it is that node.js can be messy.

People criticize Rails for its imposition of sometimes unneeded structure on projects, but I do like the automatic MVC division. It makes it easy to know where to put stuff. I suppose you could add the same kind of structure to any project, but then you’d have to think. I’m used to not thinking about that kind of design, because in my mind, it’s a solved problem.

Anyway, I was working on this project all week, and despite the fact that I was biking to work, I wasn’t really taking in the fact that I was home, so today at LHS, I had this pleasant realization that I was back in the Bay Area. Other places are nice to visit, but the San Francisco Bay Area is my home.

We had quite a lovely time in Alaska. Unfortunately, after the 28th, it got above freezing and was kind of soggy and gross outside. Nevertheless, the sidewalks and roads were still icy, and it was treacherous to go out without grippers on the soles of one’s shoes. Somehow, I managed to survive the first 18 years of my life in Minnesota and upstate New York without grippers. Nevertheless, in a week and a half in Juneau without them, I felt as though I came close to cracking my head open multiple times from slipping on the ice. Note to self: buy grippers.

My sister writes a column for the Cordova (Alaska) Times called “Alaskatarian.” Here’s her latest column, “Polly Put the Kettle On,” which describes our family’s holiday in Juneau.