πŸŽ… 2023 Holiday Gift Guide

Here are a few gift ideas that caught my eye this year:


Food and Cooking


Fun and Games

Read and Write


πŸ”— Link Dump, 2023-11-21

  1. The trouble with elections. [πŸ”— democracycreative.com]
  2. Websites that spark joy. [πŸ”— whimsical.club]
  3. Why diamonds suck. [πŸ”— diamondssuck.com]
  4. Play classic games. [πŸ”— dosdeck.com]
  5. Find old-growth forests. [πŸ”— oldgrowthforest.net]
  6. Calculate the cost of owning a vehicle. [πŸ”— aaa.com]
  7. Fix your stuff. [πŸ”— vox.com]
  8. Kenji answers your Thanksgiving questions. [⏯ youtube.com]

πŸ”— Link Dump, 2023-11-13

  1. An intelligent guide to help you navigate your life. [πŸ”— new.computer]
  2. Ten rules for drawing. [πŸ”— wepresent.wetransfer.com]
  3. Recipes featured on Bake Off. [πŸ”— thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk]
  4. The six basic story plots. [πŸ”— bbc.com]
  5. Free scorecards for your favorite board games. [πŸ”— scorecard.gg]
  6. Guess the neighboring countries. [πŸ”— neighborle.com]
  7. A free PDF ebook on science literacy. [πŸ”— philipball.co.uk]

πŸ’­ Some Thoughts, 2023-11-03

  1. In a surprise to no one, blue checkmark accounts are the leading source of misinformation on X. The enshittification of Twitter continues.
  2. Elon Musk wants X to replace banks. I don’t blame anyone for being wary of big banks, but entrusting your money to Elon Musk is far from the correct answer.
  3. The Beatles’ last song was recently released thanks to the help of AI. Between this and the Herculaneum scrolls, it’s cool to see AI being used for good.
  4. Meta wants to charge a monthly fee for ad-free Facebook and Instagram accounts. People, you do not need to pay for social media. You are the product. They should be paying you instead. Join the fediverse and be done with the tech overlords.
  5. Austin, Texas is the first major city in the United States to drop parking minimums. Well done, Austin. I hope more cities follow.
  6. Streets in Pittsburgh’s Strip District are getting a makeover. It’s a shame there are no car-free streets in the Strip. It would go a long way to alleviating the pedestrian congestion in front of those lovely food markets.
  7. The Dodgers have signed Max Muncy to a two-year extension. Remember folks, batting average is a poor metric for evaluating a hitter’s impact. Despite the opinions of internet trolls, Muncy is good, and this is a great deal for the Dodgers.
  8. Congrats to former Dodger great Corey Seager on winning his second World Series MVP.

πŸ”— Link Dump, 2023-10-31

  1. A curated list of plain text tools. [πŸ”— plaintextproject.online]
  2. A one-year plan for learning French. [πŸ”— fussfreefrench.com]
  3. The best inventions of 2023. [πŸ”— time.com]
  4. Duolingo’s new music course. [πŸ”— blog.duolingo.com]
  5. A writing tool that separates writing from editing. [πŸ”— enso.sonnet.io]
  6. A bookmarklet to search for books at your library. [πŸ”— checkthisout.today]
  7. A pet-naming AI. [πŸ”— pawsomenamer.com]

πŸ”— Link Dump, 2023-10-27

  1. A blog dedicated to text-based gaming. [πŸ”— writing-games.com]
  2. A place for thoughtful puzzles. [πŸ”— launch.puzzmo.com]
  3. Free national park maps. [πŸ”— npmaps.com]
  4. The 43 most iconic English-language short stories. [πŸ”— lithub.com]
  5. The museum of internet artifacts. [πŸ”— neal.fun]
  6. A keyboard accessibility horror game. [πŸ”— focus.hteumeuleu.com]
  7. Nature relaxation videos. [⏯ youtube.com]

🌌 Notes from Reading Light Bringer by Pierce Brown

(major spoilers below)

Light Bringer is a bit of a course correction after the Iron Gold and Dark Age flops. Quicksilver and The Figment were ditched. Sevro was quickly freed from imprisonment (without any brainwashing). The Abomination was barely mentioned. Volsung FΓ‘ and the Ascomani turned out to be frauds and not real threats (Darrow defeated them in a day without an army). The story went back to Darrow and his friends against the baddies, and that is a good thing.

Lysander doesn’t work as a character. Brown wants to tell a villain origin story from the villain’s POV, but the villain is an emotionless, vanilla character who never garners an iota of reader sympathy. Lysander is boring and his many betrayals are predictable.

It was obvious from the get-go this would be Cassius’ redemption story. He rekindles his bromance with Darrow. He bonds with lowColors. He makes amends with Sevro. His beauty and fighting skills are brought up ad nauseam. So it’s unsurprising when his death comes, as his arc was wrapped up nicely.

The obviousness of Cassius’ death could be forgiven if he didn’t die for such a stupid reason. Lysander has shown us who he is over and over again. There are no redeemable qualities. Only a fool would trust him. Cassius being that fool takes away from the emotional impact of his death. There were attempted explanations for this — Cassius was Lysander’s mentor and saw him as a sort of replacement for his late brother Julian. It’s just not enough of a justification to forgive Cassius’ stupidity.

Overall, the book was only OK. It’s still riding the coattails of the original trilogy. That’s fine with me. The more Darrow and Sevro content I get, the happier I’ll be.

πŸ’­ Some Thoughts, 2023-10-24

  1. There is an initiative to turn a stretch of ocean along California’s Central Coast into a National Marine Sanctuary, and it needs your support. It’s a beautiful stretch of nature that deserves protection.
  2. U.S. scientists have laid out a plan to transition the country away from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, it will not happen with the current generation of political leaders. #urbanism
  3. X will start charging some newcomers a small fee. Charging for social media usage is a surefire way to get people to stop using said service. Please do it so everyone can finally move to Mastodon. #web and tech
  4. How can anyone trust a man who is anti-Wikipedia? #web and tech
  5. POSSE via Activitypub is the future I want for the internet, and it’s gaining more traction. #web and tech
  6. I’ve installed the Friends plugin on my blog. It’s one step closer to turning this site into its own fully functioning Mastodon instance, but it’s not yet there. #web and tech
  7. The Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs immediately. Considering the roster, I think it’s fair to say the team overachieved during the regular season. Given that fact and the reported clubhouse troubles of rival teams (i.e. Giants and Padres), I think it’s time for Dodgers fans to show a little more respect towards Dave Roberts. #sports
  8. The Dodgers have about $100 million to spend for next season before they hit the luxury tax. Not acquiring at least one of Ohtani or Yamamoto would be a disappointment. #sports
  9. I’m glad to see the Rangers eliminate the Astros from championship contention. Congrats to Corey Seager on making it to another World Series. I’m rooting for the Phillies over the Diamondbacks tonight. #sports

πŸ”— Link Dump, 2023-10-24

  1. The bird migration explorer. [πŸ”— explorer.audubon.org]
  2. Use AI to make streets people-friendly. [πŸ”— dutchcyclinglifestyle.com]
  3. The National Center for Home Food Preservation. [πŸ”— nchfp.uga.edu]
  4. Watch 11 seasons of Rick Steves’ Europe. [πŸ”— openculture.com]
  5. The 40 coolest neighborhoods in the world. [πŸ”— timeout.com]
  6. 17 life-learnings from 17 years of The Marginalian. [πŸ”— themarginalian.org]
  7. Digital depictions of all known hummingbird species from 1849 to 1887. [πŸ”— c82.net]
  8. Who is the greatest economist of all time and why does it matter? [πŸ”— goatgreatesteconomistofalltime.ai]

πŸ”— Link Dump, 2023-10-21

  1. Kenji López-Alt visits a Japanese supermarket. [⏯ youtube.com]
  2. Photos of newsstands around the world. [πŸ”— trevortraynor.com]
  3. A 3D, mini Tokyo visualization. [πŸ”— minitokyo3d.com]
  4. A Frasier-themed RPG game. [πŸ”— edward-la-barbera.itch.io]
  5. Remove social media feeds from YouTube and Facebook. [πŸ”— github.com]
  6. Find podcast episodes about places. [πŸ”— maps.fm]
  7. A guide to the 15-minute city. [πŸ”— dezeen.com]
  8. How to self-study math. [⏯ youtube.com]