The second time

This one’s for Mike, who’s been waiting very patiently after reading about the first time.

At any golf course there are people known as the greenskeepers. There are different roles, and it’s a massive undertaking. There’s one superintendent who oversees everything, with different people working on specialized tasks. There’s one person—or I suppose a team at a really important course—who is responsible for the pins.


What actually is the problem

Every obstacle that we normally think of as a problem to be fixed … every “flaw” in ourselves or others that we judge as something to be fixed … what if we can pause, find stillness, and get curious instead of trying to fix?

~ Leo Babauta from,

Any day that Babauta gets me thinking is a good day. (If that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.) I’ve gotten pretty durn good at the “pause”, and the “find stillness”, parts. I also believe I have the “wait but why” curiosity bit figured out, since it has always been with me. It’s that “trying to fix” part upon which I’m perpetually stuck. And I get “particularly stuck”— “particularly stuck” aren’t the right words… if I could find the right words or word, I would use it instead. “Ensnared” is close. Or, have you ever gotten caught by a single thorn while out walking or hiking? That one thorn isn’t going to do too much damage if you stop quickly. In an instant, that one thorn becomes the laser focus of all of my attention. I really feel like I should be able to find the right word to fix that sentence.

Well, that’s curious.



A speech is like a love affair. Any fool can start it, but to end it requires considerable skill.

~ Lord Mancroft


Conversations are difficult to end well. I’ve spent considerable time thinking about how to end them, and talking to people about how to end them. (I am aware it’s awfully meta to have conversations with people about how to end conversations.) As with anything, (making toast for example,) it’s good to first figure out common ways to horrible muck it up, (try burning the toast,) and learning to consistently not muck it up.

Here are three ways to muck up a conversation so as to avoid having a good ending.

First: Drag the conversation on until your conversation partner is exhausted. One might think it could make for a good ending—just the sheer relief of it ending! But alas, (poor Yorick,) it’s just an ending and not a good one.

Second: Get the last word in. If you’re the host, (of the podcast, the dinner party, etc.,) insisting on being the last one to touch the conversation baton is guaranteed to make a bad ending.

Third: If it’s going well, always keep going. That way, you only end when it’s not going well. In other words: Actively choose a bad place to end.




Never use a long word where a diminutive one would suffice. When you want to keep a story moving don’t spend a lot of time going on circuitous side trips when you could instead proceed directly to the most interesting, active parts. Like that time I was in the Antarctic with Ernie and we had to abandon the Endurance to the ice, it’s important to use good visuals to make your point in as few word as possible. Also, there are clear rules for writing, such as: One should only write authoritatively about that which one actually knows. Other rules include: Don’t overuse colons; It’s important to know how to use a semi-colon.

Not sure how I got on that train of thought. It simply struck me to try writing a paragraph which was maximally incorrect. I should probably exercise more restraint. But what started this post— What prompted my title selection was:

I’ve decided to stop tracking my waist measurement. It simplifies my crazy list of things I try to do every day, sure. It also eliminates the number of times I go to weigh/measure and have to double-back for reading glasses to see the tailor’s tape. I had started tracking it so that I could calculate my waist to weight ratio. After a few years I’ve learned that the ratio is telling. Not in a depressing way, but it’s a very interesting number—I can tell my level of fitness, how I’ll feel if I try to do something (say, go run, or boulder,) and it’s a great indicator. But having the data didn’t enable to do anything. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So, lest I go ever onward adding processes and things and systems and numbers— ahem. Dropped it.


Dnt fd th trlls

One of the challenges for any website that allows for user content — no matter the size of the website — is how to deal with trollish behavior. There are a variety of options available, including just deleting such comments, but one option that got attention in the mid-2000s was the idea of disemvoweling.

~ From

Tee-hee. How did I never know about this?

But to be clear: No this isn’t something that I’m going to implement in any of the spaces where I wear anything like a moderator hat. It’s like amending graffiti; or trying to do censorship “correctly.” Those both are at best really hard, and at worst actually feeds the troll.


3.5 each

I don’t know why, but I never learned to solve a Rubik’s Cube. I am exactly the right age; the durned things appeared on the scene just before I got to primary school and they were common in my high school. But I never got into it. I had one, of course. I pretty much immediately took it apart (very carefully) to see how it worked… just honestly curious about how it worked, not trying to solve it. When I put it back together, I put it together in the solved state because it seemed obvious that if I put it together randomly it couldn’t be solved by then trying to rotation-solve it as usual.

Aside: Yes, of course I did. Any time I found a cube, I’d surreptitiously mechanically detach and flip a few pieces, and then scramble it. Few people are good enough to quickly figure out what has happened.

…and then I never was interested in solving one after I understood how it worked. Tetris? Okay, yeah, that game ate years of my life—because you can’t solve it, you just do it. Anyway, I’m 50 and I just got a Rubik’s Cube.

And what am I doing? Measuring it: Let’s call it 2.2 inches on an edge. How many of them are there? Wikipedia says 350,000,000. Crap, that’s a lot of plastic. How big a pile is that? How big are 350,000,000 2-inch cubes? …and I was hoping Wolfram Alpha would give me units of Empire-State-Buildings or something. Instead, I learned something about the total number of Angels according to the Bible. (That should get you to click, no?)

What’s that? How many ESBs is it? …oh, sorry, it’s 0.0583 ESB. I know right? We’ve only 6% filled the ESB with Rubik’s Cubes?! We need to ramp up production.


Cole’s law

Hofstadter’s Law – “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”

~ “rogersbacon” from,

It’s part 3, and it is a nifty collection of serious and whimsical laws. However, I doubt that Stigler is the originator of Stigler’s Law. Sometimes the only reason I write this stuff is to see if I can entice you to go read the thing to which I’ve linked.

But more often I do have a point. I’m wondering, in this case, how much of our urge to create, and our delight in such pithy Laws as Dilbert’s, comes simply from our mind’s desire to find patterns. There are a slew of cognitive biases, (confirmation bias springs to mind as fitting the pattern of my example,) which feel like they arise from pattern matching gone overly Pac Man.


All modern infrastructure

As a follow up to yesterday: I do quite often laugh out loud at XKCD though. This one was was three layers of humirony.

My first instinct was to think: Actually, if we just built a lot more infrastructure to the left of those large supports on the left, we might be able to take a lot of the load off that little project… actually, the horizontal level seems to be lower on the right already, so left-loading might even lift the…

Second: omgbecky I swear I’m constantly ranting and raving about this sort of thing; how there are these terribly detailed and entangled things under the hood that only a handful of people understand and one good meteor could wipe out all our infrastructure…

Third: I was literally just installing ImageMagick a couple hours before I read this cartoon.


2020 vision

I often known when a bad joke or a terrible pun is coming. My confession is that I really enjoy that feeling of knowing there’s going to be a terrible groaner in… 3… 2… 1…

Except that in today’s case, I already wrote it.

”2020 vision.” As in, “20/20 vision.”

You’re welcome! Go start beating all your friends over the head with “insightful” comments about having 2020 vision for the coming year.

In other news: 2019 was the year I started using reading glasses. My past track record of prognostication and beginning-of-the-year vision statements, combined with my vision deteriorating… nope, lost it, I feel like I had something clever to say here. But no, it too is decagon.