Master what you hate

I stumbled upon George Gritsouk's Human Git Aliases article a while back. Another one of his posts is called Master What You Hate:

I used to hate ironing clothes and merge conflicts, until I got pretty good at ironing clothes and merge conflicts. Some chores are just unfortunate realities of life, or I’m just too proud to outsource them. I can’t bring myself to pay someone to do my cleaning for me, so my near future has a lot of laundry and vacuuming coming up. The best way I found to stop dreading these things is to get as good at them as possible.

One of two things will happen. Either you get good enough at the task to make it fun, or you’ll get fast enough to not notice the pain.

So do your homework. Look it up on YouTube, RTFM, ask a friend, read a book. Buy the right tools for the job. Practice, practice, practice! Be happier and more productive. You always have the option of avoiding the task like the plague down the line.

As happenstance permits, I had a laundry-related "Eureka"-moment recently as well. I hate doing laundry. But once I stopped bitching about it and got a second drying rack, it's gotten much less inconvenient. Instead of fumbling to fit clothes onto my first tightly packed rack, I just drape the other half of them over the second one.

And lest you think I was foolish enough to think this was only about laundry and git, I've also practiced writing law analysis ad nauseam so that it doesn't bother me nearly as much any more.

Note: Since George's site is temporarily down, I've mirrored the content or linked to archival services.

··•··

Spring Cleaning Pt. 2 

Continuing my weirdly energetic current phase, I've gone ahead and painted about 50sqm of apartment walls (with a lot of skilled help). For the first time in my life, my table cloths are ironed. Come to think of it, I hadn't even owned proper table cloths so far. And I'm working through odd law cases of my own volition.

Felix, what in the world has gotten into you?

··•··

Waffels à la Felix 

Ingredients

  • 125g (soft) Butter
  • 100g Sugar
  • 1 pack of Vanilla Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 250 Flour
  • 1 pinch of Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 200ml of Milk

Steps

  • Put regular sugar into a bowl and stir in vanilla sugar
  • Add butter and mix it with the sugars
  • Mix in eggs
  • Add salt
  • Stir in baking powder with flour, then mix into the dough
  • Pour in milk in small increments and mix well

Then coat the waffle iron in a thin layer of butter and bake away.

··•··

Spring Cleaning 

Stuff I did these past weeks, in no particular order:

  • Organized all loose items into drawers and baskets
  • Planted some basil (results pending)
  • Installed new ball-bearing rails on cabinet
  • Built new shelf
  • Fixed a few creaky shelves and tightened pretty much all the screws around the flat
  • Cleaned out kitchen, put pans and cooking utensils on hangers
  • Re-organized my work materials, desk
  • Got new lamps with proper luminance (1500+ lm) & a nicely swiveling desk lamp, installed dimmers
  • Cleaned out the balcony
  • Cleaned out the basement
  • Installed OpenWRT on my router
  • Set up a repeater I had laying around
  • Set up printer for network printing and scanning instead of fumbling with USB cables
  • Decorated living room
  • All in all, sorted out half a metric ton of clutter
  • Re-purposed old wooden plates into wine rack
  • Found a beautiful marble plate that had been tragically misused to elevate a shelf, cleaned it with acetone, used as pedestal for decor items
  • De-iced the freezer
  • Prepared my law books with tabs and markers
  • Went running and lifted weights
  • Learned interior design concepts
  • Learned to pick locks
  • Changed my mobile phone provider
  • Set up more secure authentication for online services and moved off SMS 2FA
  • Installed clothes rails and put more of my clothes on coat hangers
  • Re-arranged bedroom
  • Sorted out used seldomly used clothes and gave them away
  • Baked a great many trays of cookies and sent them to family and friends
  • Disassembled several cupboards and tables I was no longer using

Very cathartic.

While going through all my old stuff, I also realized I:

  • Haven't danced Tango in years
  • Don't do even remotely as much martial arts as I used to
  • Don't care about computers much any more
  • Have dumped a frightening amount of math- and engineering-related knowledge from my brain. How did I ever understand any of these things?
  • Am getting very homely here as opposed to my chaotic years of moving and traveling

There I thought I was just going full Mr. Home Improvement, but ended up realizing a things few about myself.

I still miss my friends. About time this whole situation blows over.

··•··

Forget the Whale - Leave the bottle

Please enjoy "Leave the Bottle" by the excellent Forget the Whale.

This is song gave me an instant stinging pain in the heart the first time I heard it. It evoked the feeling of driving klezmer flow and made me remember quite vividly my turbulent year in Jerusalem. Good times, whirlwind of experiences and emotions, and if I think about it, an important step in forming my identity.

And some stories, man, I got some stories. Crazy times, special people. A buddy of mine - who used to rent a tiny flat just down the street from Bibi Netanyahu with his equally insane roommates- brazenly pinching a bottle of Jack from Uganda bar and the following morning once again being entrusted with the keys to the great archives of Yad Vashem. Hours spent on the roof of the Austrian Hospice, overlooking the old city. The souk. The beginnings of Protective Edge. Shelled-out houses in the Golan Heights. Camping and hitchhiking between the national parks and having endless trust in other people. Good times.

I guess nothing quite captures the highs and lows you used to experience in your youth. But one can reminisce…


The whole album "You. Me. Talk. Now." is available from FreeMusicArchive "for free" under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA). Don't forget to pay for the music you like though! There is a small "tip the artist" button on the top right corner of the FreeMusicArchive page. I've pitched in $25 and you should too.

Listeners to "Forget the Whale" also enjoyed: 17 Hippies, especially "Der Zug um 7.40 Uhr" or "Die Frau von Ungefähr". You don't have to understand a word of German to be swept up in their music.

··•··

Cookie Recipe: Angel’s Eyes

"Angel’s Eyes  cookies on a baking sheet

Ingredients

  • 250g Flour
  • 1 knife's tip of Baking soda
  • 100g Sugar
  • 1 pack of Vanilla sugar
  • 1 pinch of Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 150g Butter
  • 100g Strawberry jam

Steps

  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C (top-/bottom heat) or 160°C (circulating)
  • Mix flour, baking soda in a bowl
  • Add sugar, vanilla sugar, salt
  • Separate eggs, set aside egg whites (not needed for this recipe), mix egg yolks into dough
  • Mix in butter
  • Roll out into a roll maybe 30cm in length, cut into 1cm wide slices
  • Form slices into spheres, put onto baking sheet, dip grip end of wooden spoon into the cookies to create a small indentation (later to be filled with jam)
  • Put baking sheet with cookies into oven, bake for 15min
  • Let cookies cool off
  • In the meantime, boil up jam in a pot
  • When cookies are cooled off, pour jam into the middle of every cookie, let cool off for a further 15min

Tips

Be really cautious with the amount of baking soda. 1 knife's tip is more than enough.

Adapted from backen.de - Engelsaugen

Image: © Felix Elsner 2021, CC-BY 4.0

··•··

Alienation in online FOSS communities

Tangentially related lecture: The hard parts of open source.

Collaborative engineering has more problems in collaboration than engineering. Those 'soft' skillsets do not correlate well with technical expertise, especially when filtered through asynchronous (and often pseudonymous) text-based communication. Additionally, some foundational assumptions about the nature of improving technology and society turn out to not work so good.

The patterns of behavior that people fall into because of software are rarely positive for themselves or others. Use and development both invite what Skinner would call superstitions: spurious connections between actions and outcomes. […]This extends to human interactions about software. People can be driven to sociopathy, apathy, obsessive placation, or anything in between, thanks to the sparse, arbitrary, and frankly batshit crazy stimuli they're subjected to.

We're not dutifully working around harmful narcissists out of conscious tolerance or demographic over-representation. They just blend in with all the other assholes we've become.

Reddit user "mindbleach" on Why I'm not collaborating with Kenneth Reitz.

··•··

Tu vuò fà l’americano

Here's one of my favourite scenes from 1999’s "The Talented Mr. Ripley": Tom’s first peek into the good life as Dickie and his friends are having an absolute blast in a Naples nightclub1 and performing Tu Vuo' Fa l'Americano (alternative link).

I seriously wonder how the productions of Patricia Highsmith's novel inevitably ended up being so… glamoruous. There's nothing remarkable about Tom, apart from his insidious, innate drive to claw his way up the top of the bucket of rats. Neither is Highsmith's spiteful and contemptuous writing - yet I find myself quite pulled toward her Novels, be it the full Ripliad, "Strangers on a Train" or "Cry of the Owl", or dramatizations such as the excellent BBC ones or "Carol" (The Price of Salt).

The films, however, are a sight to behold. The Talended Mr. Ripley's cast is riveting. Quite the difference to view them as young as they were back then:

  • Jude Law, a charming young philanderer, as opposed to the creepy old philanderer he now seems to be,
  • Gwyneth Paltrow still interested in acting (and being great at it!) instead of hawking poison to the most gullible of affluent suckers,
  • Matt Damon still possessing enough edge to hide his immense charisma and charm behind the mask of Tom's shifty, untrustworthy, barely-hidden malevolence,
  • and Philip Seymour Hoffman, well, being alive.

So, please enjoy this blast from the past with Tu Vuo' Fa l'Americano as performed by Rosario Fiorello and the Guy Barker International Quintet. Or perhaps you'd enjoy the song as performed by the Gypsy Queens?
The meaning behind l'Americano fits with some of the story’s themes in a funny way, with Tom as narrator remarking that Americans immediately go for Italian suits, while in turn Italians have a penchant for English cuts.

The rest of the soundtrack is also swell, with Sinead O'Connor’s Lullaby for Cain eerily setting the mood, and composer Gabriel Yared building great soundscapes as well.


  1. Well, the supposed "Vesuvio" nightclub was apparently really in Rome 

··•··

Video: Sing Jan Swing - Kinetic Type

The flow of Benny Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing" visualized by moving letters. Neat.

Sing Jan Swing - Kinetic Type by designer Krystina Burton on vimeo

··•··

The joy of Telegram bots 

I inherited a simple Telegram bot from someone. The ease of programming these small things really makes programming fun again.

You don't need any more than plain python and the requests module to run it.

The SonyDevWorld bot

While working on the bot, I familiarized myself once again with deploying small isolated services with systemd and it's --user features. Pretty neat.

I also wrote a small ansible role to deploy the bot onto a server.