YARRRRGGGHHHH it's now more than a month after the previous WHV saw the light of day.
This draft, intially intended to see the light of day not much more than a week after 171, has been languishing in a cold jail of electrons up in the cloud somewhere for the past weeks, while life was doing its thing, you know, inexorably marching ahead.
Whatever the case may be, I'm happy that we are here now.
The Dark Forest.
I just searched this blog to check: To my surprise, I have somehow not gushed about the Dark Forest trilogy by Cixin Liu before.
I read Ken Liu's translation of The Three-Body Problem in 2014, and it blew my mind.
It could be that I deliberately reserved gushing until finishing the rest of the trilogy.
During the past weeks I finished The Dark Forest and finally Death's End.
This is hardcore science fiction, with enough mind-bending physics ideas to, well, bend your mind, and an insightful peek into at least one Chinese world view through the eyes of the author.
Most haunting, however, is this work's dark answer to the Fermi paradox.
The books will stop working.
I bought The Dark Forest trilogy as Kindle ebooks from Amazon, adding to quite a stack of previous Kindle ebook purchases.
As you might have heard, Microsoft are shutting off their DRM servers, and have warned their customers that “The books will stop working”.
Stéfan has also warned about this in the context of Amazon.
Today I saw that Charlie Stross, a super successful author himself, as a rule breaks the DRM on any ebooks that he buys.
I find all of this a bit chilling.
We have been privy to some of those magical sunny winter days that this part of the world is renowned for.
However, the days are significantly shorter, and this does tend to have a sort of narrowing effect on one's days.
More concretely, for these past few weeks (excluding the KNP break mentioned below) it really felt like each work day consisted exclusively of waking up, preparing for school and work, leaving for school and work, doing work and/or school, getting back home for dinner and bath-time, and then going to bed.
Somehow, there's almost no time for anything else.
The optimist in me notes that this is probably really just the shorter days. In a few months, spring will bring longer days, and longer days have the potential of bearing much more variety.
The cynic on the other hand is making the scary case that this could just be one of the many new and irreversible artefacts of inexorably approaching old age.
Whatever the case may be, the stakes are even higher than normal for maintaining focus throughout the day.
Our (almost) yearly break under the reassuring sun in the Kruger National Park was just what the doctors ordered to remedy some of all that darkness.
The sun and the soft winter warmth were amazing as always.
However, I had significant troubles (all of them in my head of course. Wait, what isn't? HA HA) disconnecting from work.
… only to realise the day after bestie PK's birthday that I'd forgotten to call due to being half disconnected. (Correction: I was reminded by said bestie. I think in the Book of Etiquette my faux pas is thus at least a -3 on a scale of 1 to 10.)
Dang it. I'm not very good at this.
However, word on the street is that “grit” is hip again, so I kept at it. (I'm also stubborn.)
By the last day of our break, I think I finally managed to reach the desired state of disconnectedness.
On this day, we arrived at the Shimuwini camp, where a troupe of elephants decided to join us for dinner on the bank of the Letaba river, about 50 metres from our front porch.
Well well well well well.
At one point I was starting to think that it would forever be all talk and no solar action around here.
However, thanks to RED Engineering, the brilliant and well-organized installer (#4 on my list…) who was also patient enough to field my never-ending stream of questions, this post and hopefully many more in the future are 100% solar powered.
(I just checked on the dashboard. Very much overcast today, but plant is generating enough to power the house.)
When the final bits and bobs have been sorted (most important remaining challenge is getting the GoodWe GW5048D-ES to successfully talk to the PylonTech US3000 battery cluster BMS), I'll write a post with more details about the system and its performance.
Until then, these are the specifications:
- Panels: 18 x Canadian Solar KuMax high efficiency polycrystalline CS3U 355Wp
- Inverter: GoodWe GW5048D-ES
- Batteries: 2 x PylonTech US3000 lithium iron phosphate batteries for a total of 7kWh of storage.
Always Be Compounding!
I think it was during a recent podcast with Shane Parrish where I heard about the idea of applying compounding to aspects of one's life.
The fundamental principle is one of modest, incremental progress, but, and this is the secret sauce, consistently applied, without letting up.
If you can write a blog post every week (ahem..) you'll have hundreds of blog posts in a few years, and something significant to look back on.
(If you're able to write on a specific topic, that's even better. Stéfan recently Signalled me this very relevant post titled “Write Short Blogposts”.)
If you can write a book chapter every month, you'll have written a book when the year is over.
If you are able to pick a worthwhile activity or topic, and then to keep on making incremental contributions to that activity or topic, you'll become the expert on that topic before you know it.
I think you get the idea.
I find this such a powerful concept, so much so that I've resolved to integrate it with my daily checklist.
For me, step one is to have a list of worthwhile directions available, and step two is to execute, just a little bit, on any of them as regularly as possible.
GOU#2 tells it like it is.
Recently, GOU#2 (age 9) and her classmates compiled a father's day book, where each child had to draw a picture illustrating what makes their dad special.
My heart melted when I finally reached her page: