Concision is the Code

The joy of coding Python should be in seeing short, concise, readable classes that express a lot of action in a small amount of clear code — not in reams of trivial code that bores the reader to death.

Guido van Rossum

Heavenly Peace and Eats

We’re all about quiet holidays: no travel, no families, no presents, no fuss.

These easy-going traditions take every ounce of manufactured stress out of a time of the year increasingly filled with personal strife, financial headaches, political hostility, and a never-ending stream of last-minute to-dos: whether it’s getting gifts for the office, planning a family dinner, or packing up the pups for a weekend trip to the snow-bound cabin in the Rockies,

The closest thing we have to a Christmas tradition is dining out on Christmas Eve: two years ago it was Annie Gunn’s, last year Sam’s Steakhouse, and this year was lunch at Louie and dinner at El Burro Loco complete with roving mariachi. That’s all we need.

There’s always talk of making it to a movie on Christmas Day, but inevitably we settle in and watch something from the comfort of home like we did today by throwing The Man Who Came to Dinner into the DVD player (it’s seemingly digitally unavailable).

Which is to say: don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You’ll come out of the holidays happier, and so will those around you.

Ruffled Mind, Restless Pillow

It appears that every man’s insomnia is as different from his neighbor’s as are their daytime hopes and aspirations.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’m a decent sleeper, getting to sleep is the problem.

There’s a sort of low-level anxiety that keeps me tossing around as soon as I slide under the sheets. Was it sharpened by too many nights as a kid waiting for The Day After to happen or the kid from Salem’s Lot to be floating outside my window? I’d wager a guess that many kids my age had very similar worries after watching these at the time.

White noise does help, and YouTube is rich with hours of gentle rains, comforting ocean waves, and a variety of nature’s other soothing tones. This “Autumn River Sounds” is a constant part of our more recent nightly routine (we don’t play all nine hours!) thanks to a bedside iPad acting as a costly sleep aid.

Sweet dreams!

Kidney Shot

Freestyling our chili recipes is just the way we rolled around here for years: grab a few cans of beans, some veggies, canned tomatoes, and throw spices into the pot like there’s no tomorrow. It was a good system, turning out bowl after bowl of respectable chili.

But I grew tired of bean-centric chili, having always held a bias for the “no-beans” contingent in the chili divide: can’t argue with the Texans on this one! As an ironclad Northerner, this is probably the only Southern tendency you could pin on me.

You’ll find any number of Cliff Clavins ready to fill you in on how the Spanish term chili con carne translates into chilies with meat. How much did the bean lobby fork over to turn such a simple, rewarding dish into a murky stew of kidney-shaped monstrosities?

These feelings, paired with increasingly cooler days and an expiring bag of butternut squash, led me on a hunt for a meatier, paleo-friendly chili.

One recipe stood out: Butternut Squash Chili with Beef

The fourth batch finished, I’m confident we’ve finally settled on our recipe of choice. The chili’s perfect balance of beef, veggies, tomatoes, and spices is as soothing as it is satisfying. I haven’t changed a thing, expect to strain the capacity of our six-quart Kitchen Aid stockpot by doubling up the recipe for convenience. I’ll experiment with adding in more of the entire jalapeño over the next few weeks, maybe keep an eye out for peppers with more striations to kick things up a degree or two, but there’s not much else I’d change.

Debt of Containment

Another day wraps, drifting off into the melancholy lament of Conor Oberst: Don’t feel badly / I’m barely angry / It’s not too much to contain.

An “X” emphatically marks all of today’s bullets, but there’s still time and tasks that seem to have slipped through the cracks. I only started trying out the Bullet Journal system at the beginning of this month, so there’s much to learn and refine. Allowing myself to imperfectly practice this style of a to-do list is helping chip away at the usual nagging perfectionism that inevitably steers my progress into a perpetual impasse.

One “X” at a time, one day at a time!

Today’s “coffee” experiment: a grande blonde pumpkin spice latte with coconut milk, no whip, and only half the syrup. It was okay, got me through the rest of the workday. All of the specialty drinks at Starbucks are exceedingly sweet, so cutting out as much syrup as you can is sage advice.

While I continue weeding out my book collection, the reading and buying carry on: Mindful Money by Jonathan K. DeYoe and Busy by Tony Crabbe currently occupy my attention, and a copy of AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee should find its way here sometime next week.

RIP Connect!


I’ll always believe you can never have too many books, but I have more books than I want. 

There are the tedious music books (many on opera), a multitude of misguided cocktail manuals and second-rate cookbooks, and a motley assortment of translated lit I’ll never read again. How about the poetry treading water while humming off-key refrains and fanciful classics scratching neither an intellectual nor aesthetic itch? Then there are those volumes insatiably snapped up in a haze of book-sale arousal—do I need to take on more debt to fill the Oxford University Press coffers every time they slash their prices in half? Seriously, I’ll be just fine without making more room on my shelves for the latest 400-page deep-dive into the Brontë family’s breakfast habits or that searing overview of assonance in Antartic verse.

I’m not trying to conjure up any magic by tidying up, I’m just trying to get rid of some books and hold onto the ones I really really want—which is not most!

Full Disclosure: This Band is Essential

I can’t even remember when I first heard Fugazi, except that it was “Waiting Room” and I knew they were somehow related to Minor Threat. The opening bass notes were instantly bone-bracingly addictive, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

There’s no reason to believe anything happening in our world will make their music seem outdated or any less relevant than it was and still is today.

If you’re familiar, there’s no better time to revisit; if you’re not, you’re welcome.

Listening to Fugazi’s individual albums is the way to go, but if you’ve become accustomed to the free-for-all nature of the playlist lifestyle, here are a few more from the team at Apple Music:

While you’re listening, point your browser here and buy the releases on vinyl straight from the mothership.

Perpetual Tinkering

I’m tinkering again: activating and deactivating themes with abandon, rotating photos in and out of featured spots, concocting glittery phrases for subheads, and outwitting my more rational urges at every turn. This has never been a productive space to play, tumbling into a perpetual loop of A/B testing with no ship date in sight.

I’ve had that same John Banville quote on the site for three years, changing the dates every few months to assure myself that I was indeed making progress. Even a year of Squarespace’s dead-simple publishing path fails to wring more than a sentence or two out of me.

So I did what I always do: chucked it all, found a new host, installed WordPress for the 63rd time, and spent the last two weeks wondering why in the hell I was doing this all again. 

I made it two weeks into NaNoWriMo last month before my momentum fizzled. It wasn’t a total loss though, because I now have an actual writing habit outside of my paid work. I also have a better understanding of what I want to write (something existing in the space between FrasierWorld of Warcraft, and the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog) and the determination to try that writing-a-novel-in-a-month racket all over again next year—writing every day until then of course!

The coming posts will mostly hew towards the geekier side of culture, finance, and my growing interest in all things deep learning.

Is this the headway I’ve been looking for?

I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.