Scribbles and ditherings

Working it out

When I Get Home

boy you better not be there, you're long gone

I flew from Budapest to Orlando yesterday. Couple small observations. First off - the 6 hour time change is a lot easier to manage than when we do 9 going straight to AZ.

The second is more complicated. I constantly catch myself thinking about the trip back to Hungary. Then I remember there isn’t one.

The Roots the Roots

the roots of America

Last night I was cooking a big dinner for 14 people. It was pretty simple and I had some help. I cooked potatoes (with onion and bacon. I cook the bacon and onion then add cubed boiled potatoes to the frying pan and cook it all up), green beans (whole with bacon and onion - one batch without bacon), plates of fresh vegetables ( radishes, celery, carrots and little tomatoes), grilled peppers, grilled onion and a bunch of grilled meat.

The help came in the form of a salad and a carrot cake that were brought by friends, as well as fresh bread from the bakery.

Based on how much was consumed I feel like it was a success. As I did the shopping and the cooking it got me thinking about our impending move the US and things I will miss. (A lot of things do that as we get closer to leaving.)

Of course food is a huge part of it all. I’ve lived in Hungary for 10 years now and one thing I’ve never really fully grasped at a gut level is just how compact Europe is. There are a ton of very unique cultures that all live in a relatively small space. And so each place has their own culinary specialties and preferences but all of the others are so easily available as well. Historically the movement of peoples (peaceful and otherwise) has also encouraged this mixture.

One of our guests brought a salad at our request. We love her salads. She’s Albanian and Albanian food makes me think of Singapore. Not in the taste but the fact that Albania sits as a kind of nexus between the Turks, Greeks, Italians and their many Slavic neighbors. Of course they have their own spin that they add but there is such a wonderful mix of all these influence. I find it as no surprise that often a bakery or restaurant I love turns out to be owned and operated by Albanian families.

The US is diverse to a point. And there are a lot of flavors there - some that I have missed in our time here. But there will be so much from Europe that I will miss. And it’s much more affordable to eat well (read healthy) here. In the US much of the most affordable food is the worst for you. So I’ll need to work on finding good sources and just accept that it’s going to cost more.

Heaven's River

Civil war is coming to the Bobiverse.

I came to the Bobiverse late in the series. I found the series recommended online (probably reddit - but not sure) and once I started reading the books I was hooked. Heaven’s River is the first book in the series to be published since I got into the series. So I’d been able to power through the first three books pretty quickly.

When this book came out I had some time between reading the first three and getting to this one. I was eager to get to another book in Taylor’s Bob universe. It did not disappoint.

I think with Taylor’s writing (and I found this to be true with “Outland” as well ) is that he takes existing tropes and ideas and does two things that make for compelling stories. First he creates some really interesting characters. This is increasingly important to me the older I get. I just don’t run across too much any more that I find to be truly unique in terms of plot. Almost everything I read at this point reminds me of something else I’ve read in some way. Space ships that are alive - well Anne McAffrey nailed that a bit ago among others. So characters matter. I find Taylor’s characters to be people I’m interested in. Now part of this is probably somewhat narcissism on my part. The characters he writes are often people who have things in common with me. They are nerds, interested in learning, well versed in US geek pop-culture (the books are no RP1 - but they’ve got plenty of references) and so on. I’m rooting for myself in a sense. I guess you could call the books in many ways wish fulfillment for nerds. Regardless of the psychology as to why - I love the characters.

That said the second important thing is that while Taylor may not be breaking truly fresh ground, he’s putting a spin on things with some new ideas and plot points. Regularly as I’m reading his stories I find myself thinking “Oh - that’s interesting, I didn’t see that coming.” I really enjoy that aspect. Some books establish the rails for the story quickly and then it’s a straight forward ride. Taylor throws in some curves. In fact, I once ended up riding Space Mountain with the lights on. It was pretty awful. It’s just not a very good roller coaster when you can see the tracks and what’s coming. Some books are like Space Mountain with the lights on. Taylor’s writing is Space Mountain with the lights off. It’s not some crazy new thing that just melts your mind, but it is really fun and exciting at times.

I feel like Heaven’s River is a solid extension to the series. Actions make sense and the history of the series means something. It feels free to explore while at the same time staying grounded enough in what has come before to make sense.

If you are a Bobiverse fan and haven’t read it yet, I would jump on it. If you have never read any but enjoy fun scifi with great humor and clever plot lines - you should give it a go. The first book is “We are legion (We are Bob)”. The title alone got me interested and I’ve been happy that it did ever since.

Sit Down

my little eagles

I’ve been enjoying the televison show “For All Mankind” quite a bit. Today is the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight that made him the first human in space. The show is fiction, and I’ve always been incredibly interested in space and the history of our work to get there - but it all feels more immediate in some way as I’ve been watching the show.

It took a lot of guts to go up on Korolev’s rocket and to make it back alive. I’m glad the Soviet Union fell but it did do some amazing things. (This is an interesting aspect of history. Many of our favorite sites and tourists attractions all around the world are the result of human suffering. I wont go into it at length now but on some level we have to be able to sort that out.)

Floating in the Summer Sky

99 red balloons go floating by

Ing and I took a walk on the rakpart today. It’s usually a road that is full of fast moving traffic (or sometimes due to volume not fast - but then it’s lots and lots of cars). Right now it’s closed to cars and so it’s full of people walking, biking, rollerblading, etc.

It’s strange to be in Budapest on a cool April Sunday and for their to be very few people around. Ingrid noted the lack of boat traffic as well - I hadn’t even noticed but she was right. Without the Danube cruise ships and the tour boats it was so quiet out there. We parked near Elizabeth bridge and walked all over on the Pest side. We saw the George Bush statue for the first time and spent a good while just taking in the parliament building. It really is so incredible that even after all these years I can’t look at it without it just pausing my thoughts. It’s beautiful.

It’s hard to say goodbye to a place under the current conditions but we’ll do our best

The Cost of My Desire

Sleep now in the fire

I’ve started using spotify. It wasn’t available in Hungary for a long time and I was able to put together good playlists on youtube. So most of my music listening happened with youtube open in a tab so I could listen in the background. I had google music as well though that’s ended and been pushed over into youtube. Which was fine as long as I’m functioning around a desktop/laptop. But from mobile devices it doesn’t work well.

Ing and the kids all use spotify a lot so I decided to try it out. I’m really happy with it. I’m still getting used to the interface and some of it doesn’t seem to work as I would expect but I’m happy with the music and a lot of the stuff it will play with a very small amount of prodding on my part. I feel like Pandora was very similar but I’m pretty sure it’s still not available here (I have not checked in a while).

Cause the Future Is Here

this is how I disappear

As a nerd in the 80’s I got to watch a lot of cool things happen and participate in a small way. When I say nerd I’m not kidding. Like a lot of kids I had quite a few posters up in my room - including a couple of developers from Electronic Arts. I spent a lot of time on my Vic-20 at home and the Apple IIe’s at school. As a teen I remember seeing my first CD and I was reading better and better books that gave me glimpses of what was coming. I was fully on board.

By the 90s, more of it was taking shape. I had stepped out of the computer scene for quite a while. I’d spent some time living on a ship for my uncle and the I think the highest tech I used that whole time were sound powered phones and the electric weight selector on my Mk 7 Mod 3 arresting gear engine. (And I didn’t touch any of that electric stuff if it broke - we had ‘smart’ people for that equipment. I was strictly a grease and wrench guy.) But when I got out, got to school (bought a typewriter for my freshman year) and moved into my dorm, there was a guy on the floor that owned a PC. I got sucked back in a bit. It was a while before I could get my own but I still remember well going to Montgomery Ward and getting a Packard Bell 386SX. My first personal computer since that Vic-20. It ran MS-DOS 5.0.

Sorry, I get all nostalgic lately. I need to work on that - the point is stuff was moving at a breakneck pace and I was loving it. It’s fun to watch reality catching up with your fiction and in some cases surpassing it. Much like R.A.H. missed personal computers ( Slipsticks!!!! in SPAAAACE!!!!! ) I really didn’t see the web coming.

I was buying massive copies of computer shopper - even back in those Vic-20 days, just to get phone numbers for local BBS’s. I loved the idea of connecting - but the web and what it would mean, I just didn’t anticipate it. But once I got on, it blew me away. In the late 90s I went back to school to get an Information Technology degree. I got my first laptop and I discovered FOSS. It all came together for me. Anybody with a computer and a connection could change the world. You didn’t need to pay thousands of dollars to Microsoft, IBM or anyone else just to have the tools for change. All you needed was a machine and your brain. Linus, the GNU folks and others like them had laid a foundation that made anything possible. I was so pumped.

So I think you can understand my consternation as I look around me today. I mean it’s all still true. The tools are all there. FOSS has won in a big way on some really key levels. At the same time we’ve traded one set of dangerous giants for another set and the laws are as stupid as ever. But what concerns me more and what I didn’t anticipate (too much of an optimist I guess) is just how many bad actors would absolutely thrive on the web. I didn’t anticipate how many people would be absolutely horrible at filtering or using any kind of discrimination about the information they take in. It’s just so discouraging.

The ability to have a global platform for your ideas is exciting - I just didn’t know so many bad people would be so well received by so many people. I should have I guess. I figured the internet and web would make us smarter, not dumber. The whole thing is a bit depressing. I try not to worry too much. A year of isolation and dealing with the pandemic have really thrown off my sense of scale but it’s still just overwhelming. I see people I know and care about spreading the most vicious lies and misinformation. I get to actively choose every day between confronting damaging content or keeping relationships that are important. It’s sad.

My big hope is that I’m a part of communities that are outliers. I’m hoping that I just know a lot of people that are part of a minority that will increasingly have less impact on the world. My hope is that the problem just isn’t as big as it feels to me. Probably more optimism that’s misplaced but I’m gonna role with it for now.

And me - I’m still trying to find (or build) the lever that will multiply my contribution to moving things the right way. For the last 10 years my contribution has primarily been helping others get their hands on the right tools. And I’m sure that’s gonna stay a focus for the rest of my life as long as I have the gift of a functioning mind and body but I still have a seed of hope about the limitless possibilities. I’m pretty sure I wont be an astronaut, rock star or best selling author at this point. But I might do something.

New Theme

Does this theme make me look fat?

I’ve been using the Blackburn theme for this site for a while. I’ve made some small changes and I’ve struggled a little to know where I should make those changes - in the theme or in the core of my site. Probably this struggle is more an issue of my getting my head around Hugo but it also comes from the fact that while separating content from how it is displayed is an awesome idea, it’s never as easy as it seems to completely keep the two apart all the time.

Regardless as I contemplated some bigger changes and how I would manage those, I decided to fork Blackburn. So starting today the site is using Pureburn, my fork of Blackburn.

I looked at the github repo for Blackburn and it looks pretty inactive. There are some pretty old pull requests and I could have maybe tried to get in touch with the author, but it has a very permissive license so I thought, “Why not?”.

I’ve got a link to my sourcehut repo for the theme but it’s not public yet. I’ve got some more things to do before I can make it available. I need to finish working on the example site, get some new screen shots and put in place some other changes I intend to make. As it is now the site is really not much different but I think I’ll be making more significant departures from Blackburn in the near future.

It’s been a great learning experience. I have a lot more to learn but digging in like this has been much more helpful than just reading documentation. Again, I’m sure it’s just me, but I find a lot of the Hugo docs hard to understand. Practically messing around with it is helping it to click more in my head.

I’m hoping I can hit a point where I can produce some tutorials that are a little more advanced. I see tuts developed for absolute beginners ( “Create your first Hugo site in 5 minutes” and so on) all the time but I see a lot less content for what to do when you want to go beyond installing Hugo, a theme and then deploy.