Abacus Noir

Self Wright

Monthly recap (Apr 2021)

Some flowers I saw while walking

Major updates

  • Trip to Mendocino for a week
    • Lots of eating and hiking

Minor updates

  • Tara began “full days” at school
  • Got the first Moderna dose at CVS
  • Experimenting with a new Tinderbox/Devonthink flow to replace Roam for a while
  • Playing with modeling clay instead of Play-doh (good riddance)
  • Sleep patterns not that great 😐

Watched/read/played/made

  • (Didn’t keep track ☹️)
  • Picked up Economix
  • Most of the way through “The Hobbit” with Tara
  • Completely weaned myself off The New York Times
  • Reading a lot more Substack, and a bunch of newer long-form content
  • Found a few dozen books to give away

Monthly recap (Feb 2021)

Major updates

  • Hiking at Long ridge trail

Minor updates

  • Uneven sleep, gotta fix that
  • Tara had a “zoom lego camp” for a week, which was … not bad

Watched/read/played/made

  • Reading w/ Tara:
    • Nightmare before Christmas (the “movie-as-graphic-novel” genre is quite nice)
    • Madeleine collection (
  • Playing with modeling clay (upgrade from Play-doh, lol)
  • Watched on Netflix:
    • Planet Earth
    • The Dig
    • episodes of Blown Away (we started watching a baking show last year, and this is similar but different)
  • Finished a 1000-piece puzzle I’d been working on
  • “Fairy garden” (picture above)

(For some reason I forgot to hit ‘publish’ on this a couple month sago ….)

Switching to self-hosted WordPress

For various reasons, I decided to ditch wordpress.com and self-host this blog.

It might turn out to be a terrible idea, but I’ll stick with it for a year.

Some motivations:

  • better control through plugins, more flexibility over time
  • the .blog domain is more expensive, I don’t care for it

New posts (after this one) will appear at abacusnoir.com, older ones will continue to be available at abacusnoir.blog (and be redirected to the new site for some time).

Generally interesting links – Mar 2021

(Note to self by Douglas Adams)

Books

Tools and practices

Misc

Systems

Programming

The Hobbit

Mid-way through a reading of the illustrated version1 of The Hobbit.

Old soundtracks and new ones

I just discovered the music of Eduard Artemyev, and … it’s something I like now.

I came across the soundtrack for Stalker, then realized the same person had composed the soundtracks for other Tarkovsky movies.

He was born in 1937 (for perspective, that’s from before World War 2 started !), and … is not only alive, but still working until very recently!

He was experimenting with electronic music in the 60s, way before synthesizers were commonly used or available.

The Solaris soundtrack is from 1972, and he composed a new soundtrack as recently as 2016.

That’s a long, long time to be doing something.

Roam isn’t there yet

I’ve observed Roam periodically slowing down to a crawl, with individual keystrokes (yes) taking a second to be played out, filters taking several seconds to process “selections”, and … I haven’t even started using queries yet.

Part of the trouble might have been my own over-enthusiasm a few months ago, when I went all-in with it, getting into a “mind-meld” with it.

This was really great for a while, too, but that meant that when it abruptly became unusable, it was really painful.

Meanwhile, a few other things have been evolving.

Obsidian largely “just works”. I’ve been trying out Obsidian Publish, and it’s headed in a direction I like, and am willing to pay for.

DevonThink, my “bucket store” for a few years now, has begun to add first-class support for Markdown, explicitly keeping compatibility with Obsidian and Roam.

Tinderbox has always really had what I needed (super-flexible notes, and programmability, albeit in a “perl-ish” syntax), and every release improves support for markdown, zip links (those [[...]] references that are nice to use within markdown for making quick links (and backlinks) between notes).

OmniOutliner is … not evolving features, but it’s a robust cross-platform native outliner app, supporting rich embedding and at least theoretically allowing arbitrary levels of scriptability in JS.

Now I’m still a “Believer” in Roam, but not all use cases need “multi-player” (and for the ones that do, there really isn’t any other good alternative).

For now though, most of my use case are very much “single-player”, and for that it’s very hard to beat native apps (especially the non-electron ones).

I do have to get over the hurdle of using un-popular apps, non-mainstream apps, apps that aren’t “in the news”, etc. but … it turns out they’re just as solid, and there are enough users to get assistance and share and discuss concerns, and so on .

So, I’m not giving up on this “mind-meld” level of personal interactivity with apps that help me think, or break down things, or just keep stuff around for me to look at later — I’m just planning to do more of that with some of the local, native apps mentioned above.

Crystal growing

Got one of these and it pretty much worked as advertised.

Final version of the crystal

This is after about three weeks of leaving it unattended.

The beginnings of crystal formation

I was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out, because we didn’t stir it too well, and didn’t really “arrange” the stones at all, and we were expecting it to be just a bed of crystals at the bottom.

An intermediate version with “one tree” done growing

In the beginning nothing happened for the first week, but then it ended up “growing upwards”, a bit more every day, which was fun to watch!

I think we’re going to check out more adventurous versions of this now, maybe combining colors?

Monthly recap (Mar 2021)

A plane flying in the clear blue sky

Major updates

  • Weekend trip to Carmel

Minor updates

  • Got a haircut after a long time, lol
  • Trying out Fastmail as an email provider

Watched/read/played/made

  • Re-started reading Against the Day (on and off over a few years now …)
  • Started reading The Hobbit with Tara
  • Experimented with a “Crystal growing kit
  • Watched a bit of How to train your dragon with Tara
  • Watched Can’t get you outta my head (Adam Curtis’ new docuseries)
  • Invented “Scooter Polo” where she kicks a ball while on the scooter (good, dumb, fun)

The little wallet that could …

Recently became _aware_, for a few moments, of the wallet in my pocket.

I used to have a big, thick one I carried around everywhere.

One day, I got sick of it and looked into card wallet instead.

I ended up getting this Alpine Swiss wallet — when I initially got it, I was worried it would fall apart, but it has lasted for nearly a decade now

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