Some assorted life updates


  • Piano: Have made significant progress recently. Pleasing. Continuing to get noticeably better. Currently doing the “Slash chords” course in Simply Piano, which is less scary than it sounded.
  • Duolingo: 43 consecutive days (except for one day that I missed but they gave me a streak freeze). Getting noticeably better there too.

Who knew that practice and repetition could improve skills?


  • Finished writing and recording my presentation about the history of our style guide. (Which led to some unexpected emotions recently because I decided to include some stuff about my colleague Sara, who died in 2014.) I recorded it Thursday night, but discovered that it was five minutes too long. So I cut some stuff, and re-recorded it Friday.
  • I have five more work days before going on leave. That’s great, except that I still have a bunch of stuff on my to-do list to get done before I go.
  • On Thursday, I finally had a meeting (with a manager three levels up from me) that I’ve been dreading for weeks. It went fine.


  • (No advice, please.)
  • I’ve been having mysterious occasional hand pain lately, and also mysterious occasional foot pain. I think they’re unrelated to each other, even though they started around the same time a few weeks ago, because they’re different kinds of pain. I had a video call with a doctor a week ago; the doctor suggested that it’s a joint issue and said I should go in for a blood test for a rare hereditary joint problem. But I’m pretty sure it’s not a joint issue—the foot pain appears to be on my skin. But I suppose I’ll do the blood test anyway. Fortunately, both issues have been getting a little better ever since that call—sometimes no pain at all, sometimes a brief flare-up.
  • I’ve barely walked on my elliptical machine since I got back from Chicago a couple weeks ago. (I had been doing it nearly every day for a few weeks before that trip.) I need to get back to doing that regularly. Did it today, hoping to get back to daily.
  • I’ve continued to brush my teeth after lunch most days, more or less.
  • Have had a couple of mild illness symptoms now and then lately—GI issues, and woke up a couple of times with a sore throat or a drippy nose. I think I’m all better now, though.
  • Have done three at-home COVID tests in the past couple weeks, for various reasons; all came back negative.
  • I’ve mail-ordered several pillows to try out, from various companies, because all the pillows I own have been getting kind of thin and compacted. One of them seems to work fairly well so far.
  • Made an appointment to see optometrist, but then it turned out that they had set up the appointment with the optometrist who I don’t get along with. So I switched to an appointment with the optometrist who I think is great, but they’re not available until November.
  • Haven’t yet had a flu shot, but hoping to do that soon.


  • Received the RODE PSA1 microphone boom arm, attached it to my desk, attached my mic to it. (Thanks to KTO for remote help with setup.) It’s very pleasing—the finish on it makes it look noticeably nicer than I had expected from photos. Funny thing, though: part of the appeal of it for me was that it looks more professional than the floor mic stand that I had been using, but it turns out that neither the stand nor the arm are visible to my camera, so the looks-nicer effect is only for me. But that’s fine. Also, it takes up less space than the floor stand and is less in the way.
  • Received assorted Apple devices on Friday, notably a dual charger for phone and watch, which will make charging easier, especially when I’m traveling.
  • Looking forward to receiving new iPad mini this coming Friday.

Unread-books project

  • 374 unread hardcovers and trade paperbacks left to go.
  • That number has gone up in the past couple weeks, due to buying a few paper books (which I rarely do any more, but these have been books that aren’t available as ebooks and that I might want Constellation Press to reprint) and transferring a few books from the separate math/science category into the unread-books category.
  • Nonetheless, I’ve been making pleasing progress. Got through 30 books last month. My progress this month is much slower, but still progressing.
  • Current reading includes Le Guin’s Unlocking the Air and Searoad, Kate Douglas Wiggins’s 1909 version of the Arabian Nights, Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station, Mencken’s The American Language (4th edition), and the Datlow/Grant/Link Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror for 2003. Among other things.
  • Favorite books from the past couple months: Chip Delany’s Atlantis: Three Tales; Kelly Link’s Stranger Things Happen; dinocomics’s Dinosaur Therapy.


(Just quick notes, not in-depth reviews.)

  • Ted Lasso is still my favorite current show.
  • Watching Westworld with Kam. It’s very bloody and rather rapey (and the whole premise is about lack of consent in various ways), so I can’t exactly recommend it; but it’s also very well made. I hope to write more about it sooner or later. We just finished season 2 and are looking forward to season 3. (No spoilers, please.)
  • Watched Gentleman Jack season 1 with Mary Anne. Liked it quite a bit; looking forward to season 2 when it airs.
  • Also watching What If…? with Kam. Liking it so far.

Puzzle app

  • KTO recently introduced me to Simon Tatham’s Puzzles, available for free both on the web and in mobile-device apps. I like Black Box, which I hadn’t played in many years, and Towers, which I hadn’t previously heard of; but my favorite is Loopy, which I’ve been playing with a custom game type: Width 10, Height 10, Grid type Honeycomb, Difficulty Normal. That grid is just hard enough that I have to think about some bits of it, while not being so hard that I have to test/explore multiple paths. I’m finding it very pleasing. (I recommend starting with the standard 10x10 Squares/Easy configuration to get a sense of how it works before diving into other grid types.)

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