On the “Quilt” activity

I managed to dig up a pic of “the original quilt” 😀

Sometime last year, we were at a restaurant where they were nice enough to provide paper and crayons for my daughter, but the paper didn’t have the usual “shapes to color in”, and the crayons were an odd mix (can’t remember exactly, perhaps … brown, purple and orange?)

I came up with a way to play on that paper, and this has since become a regular-is game for us, so I’ll try to describe it here.

  1. Draw a grid, not too large (8 by 8 or 10 by 10 seem to be a good sweet spot), with small squares.
  2. Take turns picking a random square, and doing WHATEVER you want in it.
  3. No rules at all, about what to draw. It’s okay to fill it with one color. It’s okay to fill it with two colors. It’s okay to make a single circle or square within it. It’s okay to have a wavy patter. Whatever you like.

The result ends up looking quite nice, and when we play this, we call it “making a quilt”. So yeah, try it out sometime 😀

On metric time


About a decade ago, I thought briefly, about how the day would feel, if we had some sort of metric units instead of hours & minutes, then forgot about it.

About six years ago, I had an Android phone, and wondered what it would take, to make an app for this. At the time, I looked into OpenGL support, and had some basic screen working, but the state of app development seemed like really grungy to me, and I forgot about it again.

About a year ago, I had an iPhone, and wondered what it would take to make an app for this. I had still never made a mobile app, but SwiftUI had recently been released, and … the state of app development seemed way less grungy, and SwiftUI did live up (mostly) to its promise of being a (mostly) declarative framework … so I made a prototype (using centi-days and milli-centi-days), and then forgot about it again.

Last month, I finally pushed it “over the line”. I had to fill out some forms, make some placeholder icons, and come up with a name.

I’ve always thought of the metric system being based on “tens”, and “ten” feels very “human”, so I called it HumanTime. (I don’t have the necessary free time these days, but it would be good to eventually round this off with a Watch app too).

Anyway, there’s no moral to this story, other than “I built a (small) thing” , “it’s good to make things“, and “I wish I’d done this earlier”.

If you want to take a look, it’s on the App Store: here.


On debugging Elisp

Was playing around with Elixir, installed elixir-mode, but indentation wasn’t working.

About to give up, but took it as an opportunity to learn how to debug Elisp, and … whoa, it was effortless.

(debug-on-entry #'elixir-indent-line)

Hit Tab, and bang, right in the debugger, which is well-documented. Hit d to continue execution, see every expression being evaluated.

Decided to add some “print statements” (yes, right within the ~/.emacs.d/elpa/elixir-mode-1.0.0/ sources!), which in this case was something like

(message "Debug: cur-indent computed = `%s', current-indentation = `%s'" cur-indent (current-indentation))

Had to iterate a few times, but it was trivially (load-file ...) and hit Tab, watch the *Messages* buffer, repeat.

Turned out to be a typo, one of the calls to (setq not-indented ... was mis-spelled as (setq not-idented ...

Great, I thought, except … I found I was using an older version of the package, so the right fix here turned out to be … uninstall older version of elixir-mode, install the new one, get on with life. But heh, I still feel like I “leveled up” in my Emacs use today 😀

P.S. the original error is preserved in this marmalade mirror.

On the shortened blog name

In the beginning, “Abacus Noir Form” was a play-on-words for ”A Backus-Naur-Form”, which I soon realized was funny in my head, but not necessarily meaningful to anyone else.

General inertia kept things as they were for a few years, until I finally changed this recently, chopping off the “Form” at the end.

Now that I look at it, I sort of like it, so I’ll keep it for a few years more.

Monthly Curations: April 2020

Interesting links: March 2020

Now abandoned Buran shuttle, on an Energia booster
Now abandoned Buran shuttle, on an Energia booster

Monthly recap (March 2020)

Chalk drawing on the sidewalk outside our home
Chalk drawing on the sidewalk outside our home

Major updates:

  • WFH !! 😞
  • Discovered Comixology 😀

Minor updates:

  • Bunch of “virtual playdates(what a concept!)
  • Lots of Playmobil sets
  • Tara finally got the hang of Lego, so … yeah, lots of Lego sets too
  • Family board game time” expanded to include Junior versions of a bunch of Hasbro games
  • Spending some time playing soccer in the park nearby 😃
  • Chalk painting on the sidewalk


  • Read (graphic novels): first two books of The Witcher, first three books of Locke and Key
  • Read (with Tara): first book of Magic Tree House, first three books of Ivy and Bean (her current favorite)
  • Watched (Netflix): Outbreak (!), Brittany runs a marathon, Christopher Robin

Monthly recap (February 2020)

Major updates:

  • (none ?)

Minor updates:

  • I forgot to write this last month, and … I’m already a little vague on the details, which is … why these are so important!
  • Took Tara climbing at Planet Granit (fun!)
  • Brainstorming schools for Tara
  • Beginnings of “family board game time” (!)
  • Tentative start to re-activating my Facebook account after many years


  • Read Three Body Problem (amazing)
  • Listened to Waking Up
  • Watched (movies): Parasite (whoa), Knives Out
  • Watched (Netflix): Messiah

Random Note: 878132

I was reading Cixin Liu’s books and not only do I like them, but they also reminded me of the different ”waves” of SF/Fantasy reading I’ve had in my life.

Come to think of it, I have a strong impression of a few things twenty years ago but I can’t recall a lot of details.

My biggest regret is my writing shit stuff down … I feel like I lost a couple of decades of my life, just because I didn’t have a written record, and — and I don’t know how it’s like for most people, but — all I feel I have are these messy, jumbled up and often self-contradictory memories!

Anyway, that was a digression … although, was it, really? I didn’t have a theme when I started writing this, and I … just have never understood why we can’t have a better online writing format than a blog.

It’s not like I want to pick a topic and pick a theme and then decide to write something pertinent or something likable.

It should just be … a graph, you know? A linked collection which doesn’t need to be force-fed into this paragraph structure along with a category and a tag… I’m not writing an essay here!

Okay, this whole thing went in a direction I didn’t really plan on it going, but … I will get back to what I started with, eventually.

Edit: this sounds quite incoherent, but I do agree with it, so … will leave it up

Edit: also, I like that the random “permalink” for this post when it didn’t have a title was the string “1984”

Edit: decided to add some title at the end anyway:

$ rlwrap sbcl
This is SBCL 2.0.1, an implementation of ANSI Common Lisp.
More information about SBCL is available at <http://www.sbcl.org/>.

SBCL is free software, provided as is, with absolutely no warranty.
It is mostly in the public domain; some portions are provided under
BSD-style licenses.  See the CREDITS and COPYING files in the
distribution for more information.
* (random 1000000)