To get the sound take everything that is not the sound drop it
Down a well, listen.
Then drop the sound. Listen to the difference

Epitaph: Evil, Anne Carson

I like the way this series is shaping up. I think I might just invest a bit more time in processing them and making prints available. 📷


When I was about 6, we had a neighbour move in across the hall. He was a dashing fellow — tall, mostly wore shorts and always tied his hair in a loose pony tail. My mother tried to keep me from interacting with him much, but when a young impressionable boy is shown an array of board games not previously seen, it soon becomes an impossible task.

One of the more remarkable things about him was that he was fluent in 7 languages. Once, I walked into his home during some reconstruction and maintenance work and was astounded at his ability to switch languages on the fly. He was simultaneously berating the guy doing the tiling work in Tamil while providing tips to another in Kannada. The Telugu chap wasn’t spared either, receiving decidedly child unfriendly invectives.

The incident stayed in my head for a while and when we were vacating the house a few years later, I asked him about his skill. He looked up from his soldering board and said, “Practice, practice”, with a wink. The key he said was to think in only one language but continuing that train of thought into others as one speaks. So, he would think in Tamil, but continue those thoughts into Kannada or Telugu or Odiya and output it via speech.

This blew my mind and I kept working at it for a number of years before being able to somewhat do this using English as the thought language and speak in Tamil, Kannada and Telugu at roughly the same time and in quick succession.

Over the past few months to keep myself sharp and distracted with what’s happening in the world I’ve taken on a few side projects: A full scale rewrite of the IRFCA website and its various database apps, an wonderful learning resource addition to The Community Library Project and a thing I can’t quite talk about yet. All three are based on different languages and frameworks. The IRFCA site’s apps are all built using Ruby (with Rails), the library’s site is in PHP (Wordpress) and the thing I can’t talk about yet is built using Python (Django).

I’ve mostly managed to keep the time working on them separate – one weekend this, one morning that and so on. But every now and then, two or more of them will require my attention at the same time. And when this happens, I really struggle to shift the context. I know what I am supposed to do, but I am just not able to speak the language, commit to the grammar and put things down on screen.

My usual system of thinking in one language and taking that to others fails here. The grammar and syntax are far less forgiving and I find myself tripping too much. I know what I am supposed to say and I say it, but it simply doesn’t make sense to the interpreter.

Human (natural?) languages have a pliability and looseness of structure that makes it easier for someone across you to understand, even if you don’t know the language well or are not able to express the nuances. Computer languages not so much.

A misfortune can swell
for a long, long time in the mind.

While goodness shrinks
down to a hard shell.

I reach for the hammer,
but it doesn’t crack.

Evolutionarily, it makes sense.

These fishbone days, this fatty grief.

Hardwired, Jenny Xie

This evening it poured rain, but before that the light was just absolutely gorgeous.

iPhone portrait mode with the Stage Light Mono setting, a piece of foil to deflect the sun just a bit, steady hands and a dozen tries to get it right.

Re-reading this classic after years. Seems so apt for the times. 📚

Jonathan Hoefler on saying farewell to The Quick Brown Fox.

A most delightful and nerdy typography read.

I am not a huge fan of brutalist inspired design, most of all in typopgrahy. But these are strange, ragged times and I am increasingly being drawn to the straight, sharp, weirdly flattened and disjointed letterforms. Especially on fonts like Syne and Bagnard.

I have a couple of side projects that are ongoing and I just might switch up their designs to see if these will work.

I keep revisiting this piece on Farnam Street to remind myself on the work required to have an opinion:

”The difference between the people who do the work and the people who just reel off memorized opinion is huge. When you do the work, you can answer the next question.”

Shadow and light and grain. 📷

At this point in time, writing about macOS email clients, especially for Gmail, feels like shouting into The Abyss. Millions of words written and spoken, all swirling about in there laughing without us knowing.

Yes, am complaining about suddenly giving up Gmail’s ghost.

Sobering work day realisation - Cory Doctorow is right:

But “contact tracing” apps don’t actually do contact tracing. Real contact tracing, of the sort that has been used to fight previous grave infectious disease outbreaks, is a labor-intensive, hard-to-automate process.

Random thoughts and notes:

  • Finally wrapped up watching The Clone Wars. Along with The Mandalorian and Jedi Fallen Order, the best Star Wars of the last 20 years. The big budget movies don’t come close.

  • Disco Elysium is on macOS App Store. Mac gaming just improved 500% with this.

  • After a year of SF Mono, the new terminal and coding font is JetBrains Mono. But iA Writer Quattro is the font that rules everywhere else where I write.

  • I have two side projects that are heavily Webpack dependent. I am hating every second of working with it. I still don’t get all this new fangled Javascript based bundling.

Cover me over
In dusk and dust and dreams.

Cover me over
And leave me alone.

Cover me over,
You tireless, great.

Hear me and cover me,
Bringers of dusk and dust and dreams.

Bringers, Carl Sandburg

I like it when one is not certain what one sees. When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture and when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of a sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion.

— Saul Leiter

I wake myself imagining the shape
of the day and where I will find

myself within it. Language is not often
in that shape,

but sentences survive somehow
through the islands of dark matter,

the negative space often more important
than the positive.

Imagine finding you look at the world
completely different upon waking one day.

You do not know if this is permanent.
Anything can change, after all,

for how else would you find yourself
in this predicament or this opportunity,

depending on the frame? A single thought
can make loneliness seem frighteningly new.

We destroy the paths of rivers to make room for the sea.

Meditation For the Silence of Morning, Adam Clay

Sometimes, magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.

— Teller

A Bag of Chips

Why is this person rocking back and forth in his designated spot?

What are these people doing? Why are they crowding the spices and pulses aisle?

Oh no, oh no, this person has moved into my aisle. Should I leave cart here and head somewhere or do I pull the cart along too?

These questions swirl in my head; each moment spent in the grocery store adding to my already elevated anxiety. I am suitably dressed – masked and gloved, but instead of calming me down, it makes me nauseous, a point in the log curve towards paranoia.

I get that this is the new normal and that I will have to get used to it, but in my heart and head, I wish it wasn’t so. Grocery shopping was one of the more purer things I did. Free of anxiety and worry and full of discovery.

Now, it is a war full of attrition and exhaustion.

The Papers

For over a month now, she hasn’t been able to read her newspapers - inky, smudgy. Today was different. And today she seems lighter.

iPads are great, but in these uncertain times, something old school is comfort.

Evidence the rain leaves behind.

Where does the ripple in the sky begin?
Behind the mountains holding the waters in.

— Charles Tomlinson


Blue Sweaters

Chen Chen

for Sarah

Today we both wore blue sweaters.
Yours was like a memory of snow,
collected in a small wood bowl,

& presented at dusk to a choir
of young, soprano cats.
My sweater was more like

hopscotch, across a field
of ripe berries. Or perhaps,
in a past life, it was

the raincoat of an old man
who kept a love letter
in the left pocket, never sent,

till one day he drove his car
into the ocean. Words like kiss
& plum glowed in the belly

of an unfamous fish.
How I wish I could give you
some of its smallest bones, press

them in pairs along the lines
in your hands, tell you why
you are unhappy.

Pickings on the morning run. 📷

There’s a small flower patch that I circle a few times, so at the end of the run, I pick a few, come back home and set them in water. A little, almost daily routine that is all joy.

Struggle of the times: Trying to find a face mask that is protective, fits well and at the same time makes sure my glasses don’t run down my nose each time I bend forward or do some activity.

So far, losing the battle.

The baby radishes are just about ready for harvest. Planning on making a simple roasted radish salad. The seeds were planted just a bit before the lockdown and tending to them daily has been a nice and welcome distraction.