Archive for November 2012
My daughter loves “Phineas and Ferb,” and it’s a pretty cool and kinda geeky* show. However, there is a glitch. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, one of the antagonists, is said to have been raised by ocelots in Drusselstein, a fictitious Eastern European country. The problem is that ocelots are New World cats. So, how does that work?
“”E could ‘a drawed me off a pint,’ grumbled the old man as he settled down behind a glass. ‘A ‘alf litre ain’t enough. It don’t satisfy. And a ‘ole litre’s too much. It starts my bladder running. Let alone the price.'”–George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Thing I love: cell phone number portability.
It seems like the season starts earlier every year.
Not only does Jungle Jim’s have boudin, it comes from my hometown!
*Geeky being a positive attribute.
It’s 5:33 PM. summer soon?
I admit I’m late to the party on the “distraction free writing” trend. These are basically simplified text editors, designed to work full screen in a windowed environment. Some are designed to limit how much you can shift tasks, or have system messages come across. The idea is to limit the temptation to check e-mail, peek at Facebook, or any of the other distractions inherent to working on a computer.
The thing is, it seemed silly to me. If your job is writing the type of thing that would be the market for this (blog posts and creative writing, rather than more incidental e-mail and policy type that I do), no one is forcing you to have e-mail or Twitter open. Ostensibly, it keeps you from having to deal with system distractions, but once you shut down the obvious culprits, how many system messages do you get? Do you really want to ignore a “low battery” warning?
To me, it seems like a pretentious hipster “we’re too cool for ‘mainstream’ tools” attitude on one hand. On the other, reading about it seemed less about getting the task done, but a sort of meta-procrasitnation–spending time not facing the blank page by picking the right tool or workflow. Other folks, such as Merlin Mann, did perfectly good parodies of the form.
In the interest of fairness, I downloaded one, FocusWriter, and took it for a spin. The feeling was very reminiscent of running a text-based word processor on an old DOS system. The effect could be replicated by opening a terminal window and writing in EMACS. Yet I could still command-tab to my browser when I really had to know what the temperature was. To really have a distraction free computer, you should dual-boot it to DOS and dust off those WordPerfect 5.1 floppies.
Even forcing myself to work just in this window, there were a million and one other distractions. My daughter was working on a homework assignment, and needed help (first just getting over the fear of the blank page, then staying on track). I had a cat jumping on to my desk (thanks, Beso). This is without any of the other multi-tasking things that occur when I’m trying to write at home, such as making supper, or planning more pressing things with my wife.
In fairness, my distraction level was relatively lower when using this. This is less because the tool in and of itself did a better job keeping me on task. Rather, it created an environment of greater awareness. When I wanted to make that check of the weather, it was a concious choice. At the risk of sounding like I made up my mind before using the tool, however, I don’t think there was value in it. My ability to distract myself was too great.
I mentioned that I was late to the party on the “distraction free writing” trend. I noticed one day I was using a toolset that produced a lot of output with many fewer distractions than I typically faced. In short, I had pulled out a notebook and pen, and was handwriting some thoughts. I had the house to myself, and, before I realized it, an hour or so went by. The writing became a draft of some other writings. In a weird way, I got it: you have to find a toolset that works for you. It could be that you are OK with Word, while Outlook beeps at you. You may need a specialty word processor. Or, you might have to find some other toolset that lets you write in the most productive fashion, even if you have to move it later. The key is to recognize when you are finding the tool to be productive, rather than searching for just the right tool to avoid a blank page.
I’m trying out a way to post to my WordPress blog from EMACS, the words’s greatest text editor. I’m using a module claled Weblogger Mode, which is simply an elisp extention.
No idea how this will look–hopefully, there is a line skipped, and links are showing up (rather than having HTML show up). Let’s try, really quick, embedding a picture:
I’ve been following violinist Lindsey Stirling for about a year now. She seems to be gaining notoriety via YouTube videos (as opposed to the traditional system)–an Internet win! Her latest video was a spontaneous street performance.
Our original plan for the day got thrown for a loop. It was a beautiful day, and my daughter had a birthday freebie at Young’s Jersey Dairy. A spontaneous road trip ensued.
It really wasn’t the season for the miniature golf and the batting cages. We did walk around a bit. They have some barns that can be toured. Two baby calves were there. One was asleep.
The other said, “Hai!”
We often refer to Eddy as a “barn cat,” given his likely origin. At Young’s, there were real barn cats.
One is to the left, behind the equipment–you can kinda see fur. The other two rolled around like the six-month-old kittens they appeared to be.
I admit it was a long drive just for ice cream, but it was a fun time with my family.
Our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner includes…
Pecan Pie and Irish Soda Rolls…
…(award winning) French silk pie…
…and cocoa brownie bites with peanut butter buttercream turkeys.
(We also have a catawba and Turkey day blend coffee from local producers.)
Hopefully, our family will enjoy it!
For Thanksgiving, I typically make, among other things, a pecan pie. I make my own crust. This is typically with Alton Brown’s recipe. Note that it makes enough dough for two nine-inch pies. For filling, I use a recipe from an old, beat-up cookbook with a half-melted spine.
½ cup sugar
1½ cup pecans
½ stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup corn syrup
- Cream sugar and butter
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each one
- Add other ingredients
- Pour into unbaked pie shell
- Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes
In honor of their new cubs, the Chattanooga Zoo declared today, November 17, 2012, as “Snow Leopard Appreciation Day.” Renji, one of the snow leopards at the Cincinnati Zoo, was born in Chattanooga (we even went to see her as a cub). We thought observing Snow Leopard Appreciation Day with her would be a great idea.
The Cincinnati Zoo was set up for the Festival of Lights. At least one of the light displays was going to be appropriate for the day’s theme.
When we got to the snow leopard enclosure, they were sorta milling about. Nubo, the male, was up on one of the higher points of the enclosure.
Where Renji was hanging out at the other end.
Gorgeous snow leopard!
Nubo came closer to the center, and laid down.
Renji thought this would be a great idea!
Gradually, some communal grooming ensued.
We also watched the tigers. One decided to lay on his back.
Really, we’ve seen Beso do this a million times.
No idea what Joseph saw, but I’m glad it wasn’t me.
We went in and saw a Stellar’s sea eagle.
We also checked in on Lulu, the baby giraffe. She wasn’t out in the yard, but she was sitting more in the center of her barn.
Overall, it was a great day to appreciate snow leopards!