Posts tagged ‘solstice’


December 26th, 2022

We made just 106 dumplings this year, plus another eight filled with Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (that was the little boy’s idea; they’re pretty good!). This is a smaller number than usual (drill back into prior years here). The small number was probably mostly because single units of ground meat from FreshDirect tend to weigh just a pound, whereas single units from the grocery in prior years were more like 1.25 to 1.4 pounds. (Although, come to think of it, just where did we get the ground meat last year? Not sure.) And also because grownups tend to put more meat in each dumpling, perhaps. But in any case, we are now all pleasantly full, and the little daughter and her BF are safely back in the urbanity.

What has occurred? I feel like things have occurred, to an extent. I am more on Mastodon now than on Twitter, and if you want to keep up with the images I’ve been making in Midjourney and so on, you’ll want my Pixelfed feed. I listed lots of various of these pointers back the other week (and wow having every chapter of the novel as a weblog post makes it hard to scroll through the weblog). When Elon “facepalm” Musk briefly prohibited linking from Twitter to Mastodon, I actually set up a LinkTree page with my links.

Someone must have said “they can still link to Mastodon via Linktree” in his hearing, because he then briefly prohibited linking to LinkTree. That caused me to set up my own Links page over on the neglected (and in fact apparently pretty much empty); I should put back all the stuff that used to be there sometime!

Note how ossum that Links page is! When you move the cursor over it, the thing that the mouse is over that you will go to if you click (if any) changes color (although I drew the line at having it bouncily change size the way Linktree does). You can look at the page source, and see the lovely hand-coded CSS and HTML. :) It even validates! (w3c seems to have a change of mind about validation badges, which makes me a little sad, so there’s no little “valid HTML 5!” badge on the page that links to the verification of the claim, but hey.)

That reminded me of the One-Dimensional Cellular Automaton that I make in hand-coded CSS and HTML and JavaScript the other year; it vanished for a long time, even from my personal backups of, and I’d almost given up on finding it until I thought of the Internet Archive‘s Wayback Machine, and discovered that it had snapshotted that page exactly once, in February of 2012.

So after a bit of fiddling around, I can once again present the One-Dimensional Cellular Automaton for your amusement. The page source there is also quite readable, I tell myself.

Note that many other things on are currently / still broken, although in the process of bringing that page back, I also brought the main page back, so you can see the extremely retro rest of the site (working and otherwise), including the entries in this (well, sort of “this”) weblog between 1999 and 2011.

Oh yeah, we had Christmas! That was nice. :) I got lots of chocolate, and the little (not little anymore) boy gave me a digital image of Spennix (my WoW main) dressed like the pioneer in the Satisfactory game, with a perfect “Spennixfactory” logo. And wife and daughter both got me books: “The Hotel Bosphorus” (a murder mystery set in Istanbul, my current Bucket List destination, and involving a bookshop, so what could be better?) from M, and “Klara and the Sun” (which I’ve been meaning to get, but never had) from the little daughter. (She thought that maybe I already had it and that’s why Klara is called “Klara” in the Klara stories, but it was as far as I know a complete coincidence.)

I’m working away at Part Three of Klara, after she leaves the clockwork world, but it’s slow going. I have an actual plot in mind that I want to illustrate, and I’m using a different graphical style which necessitates a different Midjourney workflow that I haven’t quite optimized yet. But it’ll get done! Probably! :)

We close with a Seasonal Image for the Solstice…

A disc with abstract shapes of fir trees, decorations, planets, and whatnot around the edge. In the center a round shape with small spiked protrusions, perhaps the sun, sits atop what may be a tree trunk that projects upward from what may be the ground and some roots at the bottom of the image. Branches stick out of the perhaps-sun, and some stars and planets and a few more enigmatic shapes inhabit the spaces between the branches.

Here’s to the coming of the longer days! Or the cooler ones, to those on the flipside… :)


Christmas Eve, 2020

Continuing the tradition of recent years, of doing various New Year things at Christmas time instead, we made 158 dumplings today. This compares plausibly to the mere 113 in late 2019, the 161 in early 2018, and so on, back to say the 140 in 2007 and so on back into the Time of Mists.

some Chinese-style dumplings on trays waiting to be boiled(We also gathered a new statistic, and determined that between the four of us, now all nominally adults for some years, we ate just about 107 of them for dinner. We are rather full. Probably any dessert will have to wait.)

Yesterday we made the Christmas Cookies, using a recipe card from Sherbrooke Village in Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia, that has inter alia a hand-written note at the bottom saying to save a certain reindeer-shaped cookie for Christmas Day, in 1996.

Which was like ten years ago, right?

Tomorrow we’ll be Opening Presents, making a nice modest ham dinner, eating (store-bought, woot!) Sweet Potato Pie, and being amused by my attempt to bake Farmer McDowell’s Famous Midpoint Mushroom, Apple, and Sour Cherry Pie, from a computer-generated recipe in my 2020 NaNoWriMo novel. We don’t have any sour cherries (is that even a thing?) but I have the feeling that that’s not going to be the main snag. :)

A small Christmas tree on a tableWe have the pretty little artisanal tree up on a table this year, where it looks rather nice, and the usual Christmas playlists are playing on the stereo from various Apple and Android devices. The stockings, also, are hung by the chimney with care!

We’re very lucky to have all four of us together, having been able to take sufficient precautions and exercise sufficient waiting periods to be comfortable being together in the house without regard to distance. Kind and underpaid people bring various things and put them on the front porch, and we tip generously, if not sufficiently.

I am on vacation for quite awhile, because I booked it before I realized that the new employer (new as in a mere seven or so years now) doesn’t do anything special to vacation days at the end of a year. So I needn’t have, but it’s nice.

The world is strange. I have been paying altogether too much attention to the vile acts of the outgoing President, and to the various crackpot theories of those of his remaining followers who either believe or just loudly declare that he will continue to be President after January 20th. Fortunately this seems unlikely, but it will be a great relief when he is finally and thoroughly out of power. I could write quite a bit about all of that, but at the moment I don’t think it would be healthy.

It has been such a year, for so many people. I’ve suffered comparatively little, as I undeservedly tend to; many other people have suffered undeservedly much more. There are so many hopeful signs at the moment that I almost dare to be optimistic. But I’m going to try to resist that until say February, and just Hang In There and tip well in the meantime.

I miss Manhattan! As I may have mentioned before, I have snuck in for a day on my own just wandering around (and avoiding Indoor Dining) a couple of times during this Very Long Month of March, but at the moment it doesn’t look like a terrific idea this month. We went in the other day to pick up the little daughter, the boy and I did, but didn’t even get out of the car to speak of.

Get those vaccines distributing! I want to ride a crowded subway train, sit crammed into a corner table listening to live jazz, drop into a familiar bagel store for the first time and get an onion bagel with whitefish (not toasted).

I may go for a long drive in the suburban countryside sometime in the next several days, just to see things I haven’t seen recently, and get a feeling of movement.

And I should meditate! This is almost always true. :) Meditation and sleep have in common that they are easy to do, and I love doing both of them, and also tend to put off both for as long as possible. The main difference being that sleep is much more insistent.

Blessed Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Holidays, and Bonus Novus Annus to all!

Here’s to a very different 2021. <3


Jingle Bells!

Wow it has been forever since I posted content (“content”) here! And it seems like I say that every time I post content! And probably I say that every time I post content as well! Tradition.

So this year we made a mere 113 dumplings. They were on average larger than usual, is our impression, perhaps due to the little boy having taken over the skin-rolling duties from his mother this year. Larger dumplings should mean comparatively more use of filling (see square-cube law), but regardless of that “should” we also had considerable filling left over (so probably we just didn’t make as much dough). There is now a small container of filling in the refrigerator, offering the prospect of “burgers!” as the little daughter put it.

The 113 dumplings are fewer than the 161 at the beginning of 2018; shockingly, there seems to be no record of the number we made at the beginning of 2019. Scientists baffled and all.

We are doing Christmas Things a day early, and sort of folding in some New Years Things too, because due to adulthood and things one or more of the children have to leave tomorrow (the 25th) and won’t necessarily be here for the 1st. We’ve done dumplings (yesterday) and present-opening (today) and currently we are playing with presents and I am baking pies (not that anyone asked for pies, but I wanted to make some so there).

I got a lovely little note from a long-time reader saying that my solstice letter from eight years ago is part of their family tradition; that made me feel warm and validated!

We were talking about the experience of remembering some entire significant thing from earlier in one’s life that one had until then entirely forgotten about (because it sort of figures in the 2019 NaNoWriMo novel, of which perhaps more below), and the little daughter said that that can happen with books or movies or games that one experienced a long time ago, because they are both significantly large pieces of experience, and also things that it’s not hard to accidentally forget.

And in that vein she suggested a game that at least some of us had obsessed over significantly years ago involving these little like animals or monkeys or something that you had to take care of, and after blanking on it for a bit it suddenly came back to me in a perfect example of the phenomenon we were talking about, where you suddenly remember an entire piece of, basically, yourself that had once been important but you hadn’t thought about in years.

It turns out the game was called “Creatures” and the little animals or monkeys or whatever are called “Norns”, and I was quite obsessed with their behavior and learning and genetics and things (which were represented quite explicitly in the game, which is what made it so obsessable-about). I looked around online and found that there is an actual page about me in an ancient wiki about the game, which points into the Creatures pages that I used to maintain on the AOL (hahaha) user web pages, but which are now gone.

I looked around on various hard drives (“hard drives”) in the house here for nested “from the old computer” directories that might go back to 1997 or so (before the original weblog started!), but didn’t find anything (I think there’s at least one laptop lying around gathering dust that’s still nominally waiting for me to copy all of the content off of it to a more recent machine; I should use The Cloud!).

Well after turning off the lights last night, though, I thought of One More Thing To Try, and lo and behold here is a copy of those pages in the amazing Internet Archive (I gave them money; you should too!). It turns out that I was indeed quite into all that stuff, down to file formats and long amusing stories about my Norns and their genetic mutations and all.

I should figure out how to restore a tree of pages from the Archive back to disk, and put them onto the Modern Web somewhere.

Because no information should ever be lost! Even though that’s impossible!

I did finish a novel this November! I’m even pretty happy with it. For complicated reasons not worth going into here I’m not going to post a link to it immediately, but it’s done and it’s over 50,000 words, and that’s pretty cool. It starts out with something on the radio reminding Our Hero of the time he first moved into the house outside Pittsburgh that he lived in for awhile, but on the other hand he’s never lived in a house outside Pittsburgh, so that’s odd.

This connected to the whole idea of suddenly remembering things that did in fact happen, but you’d just forgotten, and onward to the ancient Norns.

The world continues otherwise pretty much unchanged. I commute into the city about four days a week, and work happily for a company that I am at the moment a bit worried about (I mean, wth?), on an island that is pretty much the center of the universe by all completely objective measures. The kids are adulting to various extents, living not here but at least in other places in the State of New York so we see them pretty often.

I am working on getting the Legion Class Mount on my Prot Paladin, which is made easier by the fact that he’s level 120 and the Legion content is intended for level 110 characters (and pally tanks are way OP anyway). I already have the Class Mounts for Rogue, Hunter, Demon Hunter, Death Knight and ummm maybe that’s it I forget. (Oh, wait, and Monk. And Priest.)

I don’t go into Second Life much these days except to feed the cats (yes, I seem to possess a small finite number of virtual cats which require virtual food which costs virtual money which is acquired mostly with real money, which is a brilliant setup by the creators of said cats and food). Sometimes I think I should cut back on my land and things in SL, which also cost real money, but even though I don’t go in very often, it still feels like a part of me somehow, so I don’t.

  • I got an espresso maker for Christmas (Solstice), so now I can make espresso!
  • I got also various other things, no less appreciated for not being listed explicitly here!

I am rather constantly on Twitter; it’s quite an addictive thing in the potentially dangerous “lots of little squirts of validation at somewhat unpredictable intervals” way. But I’m finding it also a good way to get news without having to actually consume much media directly, which involves the risk of accidentally seeing Donald Trump speak or something.

(I think one of the reasons I haven’t weblogged much is that it seems like talking about anything but the current threats to the world from various powerful evil people (Trump, McConnell, Johnson, Putin, etc, etc) is beside the point, given the importance of the things that they are threats to; but I have convinced myself that at least for this one day Solstice-Season day I can do that.)

I’ve also bought for myself a little Zafu (a Zen meditation cushion; the label says “Yoga meditation pillow”, but I think it will still work) and a Zabuton (well, a little blanket) to put under it, which I am hoping and assuming will lead me to actually meditate more (I am getting so much more comfortable with the word “meditate! I think that is good!) rather than having a sitting practice that consists primarily of not sitting.

Picture of a small artisanal Christmas tree with lights and presents underneath, and to the left is a Zafu sitting on a folded blanket for a Zabuton.

Here (somewhere around here) is a picture of the little artisanal Christmas tree and some presents under it, and then to the left my Zafu and Zabuton, so far only briefly test-driven and not used for actual Sitting, in the sense that “actual Sitting” is a thing.

(Ooops, the timer went off, so I have to go check the pumpkin pie; I will put up the picture after I check it. Although you will see it before that. Or, really, after that. You know.)

(The pie needs probably five more minutes. On the other hand by the time I figure out how to get WordPress to flow text around an image, it’s going to be done. Ha, apparently you just “Align Right”; simpler than I expected with all of these “blocks” and “groups and things lurking about. I’d like to get rid of the top padding or whatever that is and have the top of the image align with the top of the text on the first paragraph of text to the left, but, as they say, whatever. Or maybe that’s just an edit-mode thing, and it will look how I want once it’s published. Or!)

We are somewhat startled to discover that this pumpkin pie recipe is twenty years old. Good Heavens? On the other hand, what’s twenty years, really? Next we will work on the chocolate silk pie, which we have already made the crust for (and wow is it nothing like the even round uniform crust on that web page there). And perhaps Christmas Cookies later on.

So I will probably go off and do that soon. What else shall I leave you, devoted reader, with? I’ve been reviewing books that I finish now and then; see for instance me on GoodReads and I guess me on Amazon (I have the vague impression that GoodReads and Amazon share book reviews, unless they don’t, except sometimes).

Happy Solstice and Other Winter Holiday of Your Choice, and Happy New Year! May we all be blessed, and realize that we are. Maybe I will write again here some day!


Liebe ist ein welthaftes Wirken

Kaufmann translates this, from Buber’s “I and Thou”, as “love is a cosmic force”, but gives us the original in a footnote to see for ourselves.

One thing I like about German and how synthetic it is (in the technical sense that I just learned; I was going to say “agglutinative“, but that turns out to be wrong) is that you can look at the parts of many words, and see how the meaning compares to the sum of those parts.

The most simple-minded translation of that phrase might be “Love is a worldly work”, which has the same nice consonance of double-ues, but a very different sense, since the English “worldly” has strong connotations that are almost the opposite of Kaufmann’s “cosmic”.

It’s interesting that the translator chose “force” here, rather than the obvious “work” (which would have read a bit awkwardly), or perhaps “act”. Because Buber is talking about love in the context of “those who stand in it and behold in it”, “force” probably makes more sense than “act”, since you can stand in a force (a force field!), but not so much in an act.

$50 FINEBut then I wonder why Buber wrote Wirken rather than say Kraft. And then I am at, or perhaps well beyond, the very end of my competence as a translator. :)

The other day the little daughter, watching me staring into my phone and clicking and swiping without end, commented more or less “you’re taking in so much content; I don’t know if that’s healthy”.

I found myself very much in agreement with that thought, and put the phone away (temporarily) and looked at various stacks of books sitting unread here and there, and picked up “I and Thou”, read the Acknowledgements and Translator’s Key, skipped Kaufmann’s very long Prologue (these things should generally be at the end of a book, in my ever so humble opinion, so that one can encounter the work itself with more or less fresh eyes, and then read the prologue-writer’s thoughts about it afterward, when one has already one’s own ideas to compare them to), and started very slowly into the work (Werk, Wirken, Kunstwerk?) itself.

It’s a very dense book, or feels like it deserves to be treated as such, which means that I have to be careful not to spend so much time on each sentence that I eventually drift off and do other things before I get past the first chapter.

As I tweeted not long after starting (and yeah, I know; somehow Twitter and the Face Book and now even plague have all taken up residence in my ways of relating to the world):

I can’t of course actually empty the cup, and I admit I’m not really trying all that hard to.

Currently, a few more pages in, I’m wondering if Buber will go from talking about the ineffable relating that is I-You (and that he identifies with, or as, love in some sense), to a realization that the duality present even in I-You (because after all there is still I, and You) is at some level an illusion. Because that would be so Buddhist.

There are no sentient beings,
And I vow to save them.

It will be interesting either way; if he does get to some kind of non-duality, I’m sure it will have a flavor all its own. If he doesn’t, it will be interesting to see if he simply stops short of it, actively considers and denies it, or goes off in some other direction entirely.

I’ve been meaning to read this book since college sometime :) and it’s nice to finally get to it.

Solstice was nice, thank you for asking, if a little atypical. All four of us were here together, but instead of the usual Christmas Dinner with ham an’ all, we went out to the local diner.

The story: M smelled gas in the basement, so on I forget maybe the 22nd we had the gas man come and test things, and he found there was a leak somewhere in the kitchen range, and while we were moving the range out from the wall it got caught on something and when we pushed on it a little to get it past the something, the entire glass front of the oven door very enthusiastically shattered into a zillion pieces and fell onto the floor.

That was exciting!

We called the appliance place who sent out a person who determined that the range was old enough to vote, and that no one makes parts for it anymore (either for replacing the door glass or fixing any possible leak).

A new range arrived yesterday and I have baked my first loaves of bread in it, but between the breaking of the old and the installing of the new we could cook only in the microwave and crockpot, and although we considered trying to design a satisfying Solstice dinner around those, in the end we decided the local Diner would be more fun.

And it was very nice.

How do Diners do it, by the way; anyone know? How can you have that enormous a menu of available things, and be able to produce absolutely any of them in a reasonably short span of time? Are they all designed to be producible from some smallish set of ingredients, and you keep those around and ready at all times? Do all of the chefs know how to make all of the things? Are there big recipe books? Or do they look at the menu when the order comes in, figure out what you are probably expecting, and wing it?


Sunday, December 29, 2013

As usual all various things have happened since some amount of time ago!


I now have one of these:

an Oculus Rift device

and as soon as I get this one cable that it needs to attach to the enormous Windows machine, I will try out the demos and maybe like WoW or something (and sometime probably Second Life), and that will probably be amazing or disorienting or both.

(And boy will one look amusing while using it.)

The Smart-o-Phone

Speaking of the enormous Windows machine, I now have yet one more non-Windows computer, running yet one more operating system. Here is the Instagramming of my telephone upgrade:


Having skipped a few generations there, I now have one of these modern “Smart-o-Phones”, and am apparently an Android user (which also involves chocolate bars in some way).

KitKat logo

The Smart-o-Phone can do all various things; pretty much everything that the “i-Pad” can do, except that it is considerably smaller. But as I have pointed out when comparing a little laptop screen to a big desktop display, the Smart-o-Phone screen can be made pretty much as large as you want just by holding it closer to your eyes…

Oh, also, it has some sort of telephone in it. But that is okay, it does not hardly ring much or anything annoying like that.

I have been installing Smart-o-Phone “apps” on the Smart-o-Phone, which allow me to listen to the radio, and sign into WoW (once I convince WoW that I don’t want to use the i-Pad for that anymore), and look at train schedules, and drive little imaginary trains around a simplified model of Europe:

Pocket Trains

Also (like the i-Pad) you can watch TV on it, which I am in fact doing right now (mostly just because I can); this is mildly convenient if one wants to watch one of the subset of shows that Verizon makes available for streaming. For whatever reason the only thing I ever seem to watch this way is “Law and Order: something something”; they just barely clear the bar of being worth ignoring all those commercials.

Ooh, probably I should install the “Net Flicks app” also! That has things which do not have commercials.

So now I have the Smart-o-Phone running Android, the i-Pad running iOS (and which it’s not entirely clear what it is for now), the work computer running ChromeOs (and Chrome Remote Desktop connecting into the at-work work computer running Goobuntu (haha “Goobuntu”)), and the enormous Windows computer running Windows 7 something something, which is basically just for WoW and Second Life these days (and see recent Facebook thread where I complain about Windows’s virtual memory pessimisation algorithms). And the Oculus Rift. :)


Oh yeah, these things happened too!


Solstice Dinner 2013

Solstice Christmas New Year Holidays and all! Which is why I now have the Geek-o-Vision and the Smart-o-Phone and all. :) And the little daughter used some Interweb Site to create and produce this amazing tee shirt:

Best Tee Shirt Ever

which attentive readers will notice is based on a recent weblog posting just right here.

Isn’t that the best thing ever? Such an amazing little daughter…

I’m sure other things have happened also, but those are the only ones I will write down for now I think. Lots of lazing about to do today! :)

Update: some of the images in the above are nefariously appearing or not appearing at random, or perhaps with some weak correlation with my attempts to get them to appear. Tsk!

Update 2: Oh yeah, I was going to talk about Ingress on the Smart-o-Phone too! But I didn’t. Maybe later…



The longest night, the shortest day. When we gather around fires, and around evergreens, and tell stories about death and rebirth, to celebrate that it’s the darkest time again, and so it’s going to get lighter now.

And as well as to celebrate, we cuddle up to reassure ourselves and each other that it is, in fact, going to do that getting-lighter thing again. And maybe to have company while we worry, a little, that this time it might not.

But it always does. :)

A pendulum is fastest at the bottom of its swing, and pauses at the high points at the ends. But the year, I think, is slowest at the bottom of its swing, and down here at the Winter Solstice we feel everything pause in the darkness and the cold, everything holds its breath, motionless for a moment.

We hold our breaths, long enough to look around, make sure that the warm place, the bright place we’ve secured in the darkness, is all ready, all warm, all bright. So the moment of most-dark can pass easily, quickly, smoothly, with us quiet and watching, and after that breath-held dark-quiet pause, motion can start again, and later the sunrise, and not too long after that the Spring.