Generally interesting links – Mar 2021

(Note to self by Douglas Adams)


Tools and practices




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


  • 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

Generally interesting links – Feb 2021

(A short list this time)

Watching Adam Curtis

A poem that shares a title with a docu-series by Adam Curtis from 2011

The first time I watched an Adam Curtis documentary was “Century of the self” about a decade ago. After that, I have, on-and-off, tried to watch everything by him that I could get my hand on.

Not all of it felt equally good, but the good ones were very rewarding. No one else, to my knowledge, comes close to tackling these themes, hard-to-grasp and spread out over decades and involving so many threads of narrative as they are.

For the first time I looked up his filmography and found out that — I found this amazing — he has been making “this sort of thing” since before I was born (!)

Also, I realized I’d watched his work in a very haphazard, non-chronological order, jumping across decades.

I just watched the first 30min of the first episode of his latest creation after a gap of many years (I can’t get you outta my head), and it feels like one of his better ones.

I tend to watch everything slowly these days, so I imagine it will take me a while to get through it (at over eight hours), and perhaps I will mention whether or not it lived up to expectations when I am done.

But in the meantime, I can recommend these favorites of mine (I have been able to find everything on Youtube):

  • The century of the Self (2002)
  • All watched over by machines of loving grace (2011)
  • The Trap: what happened to our dream of freedom (2007)
  • Pandora’s Box (1992)