Sail away.

Once upon a time a wise man said:

Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be a more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.

And much to my sorrow, Uruguay and Paraguay look more and more like a suitable ship to board.

Christmas

The other day we had a Christmas dinner mostly like every previous years.

I’m not very much into receiving physical gifts but sometimes a little thing with a lot of thought can change everything. Long ago a couple of friends collaborated on an anthology of poems and the last weekend it arrived after a convoluted trip from Uruguay.

The result of their hard work is called “¡Dale Hermano! 20 Poetas del Río de La Plata”.

After the traditional toast I drove my grandma home and then went to say hi to a couple of friends.

The night was unusually quiet. After wandering without a clear intention for a while I parked at Parque San Martín and started to read.

The poems did not have the author with them but while reading I could imagine some of my friends reciting those and, upon looking at the index, I was most of the times correct in my guesses.

Thanks Mar and Pachi for such a great night.

¡Dale Hermano! 20 Poetas del Río de La Plata

Weird Dreams

The other day I had a strange dream.

I was at a lounge talking with a waitress and we were doodling nonsense on a napkin. My drawings slowly morphed into something that was a lot like a Hilbert curve but not quite.

Our talk drifted into space filling curves and I kept trying to draw it but even tough I knew how it should look I always managed to draw something like a very simplified sandcastle.

Books

This year I haven’t read as many books as others at this point.

My list so far has:

  • “Las neuronas de Dios” by Diego Golombek
  • “Effetti personali” by Francesca Duranti
  • “Blonde’s requien” by Raymond Marshall / James H. Chase
  • “The terminal Man” by Michael Crichton
  • “La Mala Fama” by Benchi Calligo
  • “La Otra Orilla” by Raúl Filgueira
  • “Sacrificios en Días Santos” by Antonio Dal Masetto
  • “Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue” and “La Marquise de Gange” by Donatien Alphonse François de Sade. Horrible Spanish translations. The ones I remember in English were better but I should try next time with the original in French.

And on the queue:

  • “Consciousness and the Brain” by Stanislas Dehaene
  • “The Psychology of Selling”, “Master Your Time, Master Your Life”, “Kiss that Frog” and “Eat that frog!” by Brian Tracy.
  • “What Color Is Your Parachute” by Richard Bolles.
  • “Management – Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices” by Peter Drucker
  • “Tras la crisis, El nuevo rumbo de la política económica y laboral en Argentina y su impacto” by Damill, Frenkel y Maurizio

Chavannes

After a long hiatus one of the best funk bands from La Plata, Chavannes, is back!

I missed their return last year but this one I managed to catch them as a birthday gift for myself.

The sound and crowd were great. The food too.

While walking to the car I spotted a cat on the street. I whistled and without hesitation she came to me:

Wisdom

Quite a while ago (in the last century nonetheless) my idea of a productive day entailed writing a lot of code, measured by size in any suitable metric.

Lately I’ve been writing less in volume but I realize that I spend a greater time thinking about the problem at hand as a whole and that it happens mostly in the background while I’m doing something else. By the time I’m again at the workstation everything falls into place.

Also, when stepping aside and contemplating whatever I engineered I can’t help to feel anything but pride. Perhaps except for the documentation I build things from the get go thinking of what I would like to have were I a library user, on terms of building blocks.

During the last two weeks I built a library to parse a protocol called LX200 used to control telescopes and I can’t be happier with the result (for now it’s at https://github.com/telescopio-montemayor/python-lx200 ). The first one was a roller coaster, due to some other issues I went back to a night owl schedule and I can’t remember when was the last time I had such prolonged and intense periods of flow. I also taught myself asyncio.

It’s terse, concise, and (mostly) well structured. My former self would’ve made a mess of a state machine tied together with pages of if statements that worked, for sure, but was a pain to extend or correct. Of course looking down the path and leveraging years of experience this things seem obvious now.

Coincidentally, the other day Eric wrote about the advantage of declarative/table driven approaches.

Pouring a concrete floor

That shed I was cleaning needed one thing really bad, a decent floor. It was already made of concrete but with the years it broke down, revealing the soil and gravel underneath. And also wasn’t level.

So for the last couple of weeks we (my dad and I) worked together and made a new one. The next step is adding some tiles on top of that.

Backyard archaeology

While preparing the existing floor for the new pouring I discovered remnants of the old building.

In its latest years (circa 1970-1980) it was used in a wine bottling operation as a storage room and later my grandad started to build a small studio for my uncle (but that project was cancelled due to things better not to speak of).

Before that, around the 30’s and 40’s, the whole house was a ceramic tile factory. Giant ovens to fire the clay, castings and all that.

As I started to dig the trench for the new waste plumbing I found what looked like the walls of a chamber or well of sorts. The top was made of reinforced concrete and had all the appearance of being a lid.

I tried to break and lift it with very little success. On the other extreme of the room there’s a hole that seemed to be a small opening made on purpose. I dug with my hand but only got sand, gravel and fragments of old tiles.

I gave up as whatever I removed from the floor had to get back and then some more to make a proper base layer for the next one. But I plan on digging further later on.

Sister Kate

The other day I saw Kate Micucci naked on “Easy”, the netflix series. I always loved her histrionic, but also sometimes soft and sweet characters, and the Garfunkel & Oates performances.

Seeing her in that role was amazing, how naturally everything seemed to her.

The early bird gets the worm.

And a giant grinder.

Today I woke up early and instead of staying in bed reading until it’s a more convenient hour to start the normal daily activities I grabbed some fruit, a thermos and started to walk.

Just a block from home I spot a very old industrial grinder with a flexible coupling on the sidewalk. It’s quite heavy.
I continued to stroll around the city and saw the sunrise amid a gentle mist.

By the time I returned my brother was already awake and he lend me a hand to pick it up.

Surprisingly, it only took a couple of beats with a hammer and a wooden block to remove the coupling from the motor housing. The motor, a big and old three phase one, has all its wires crumpled and turns freely, albeit with a loud noise of broken bearing. On the other hand the shaft at the stone rides smooth, just like new.