Weekly Head Voices #246: Call up your friends

This, the 246th edition of the WHV, looks back at the longer-than-expected stretch of time between Monday August 8 and Sunday September 25 of the year 2022.

Figure 1: A slightly alternative view from somewhere up along Platties.

Figure 1: A slightly alternative view from somewhere up along Platties.


The later I get, the more difficult it becomes to put these things out.

Although not that many people read them, it feels like expectations increase over time, and thus the barrier continues getting higher and higher.

Contrary to what it might sound like, I love doing what I’m doing right now.

However, sometimes I wish to return to less complicated times, when writing a post was a relaxed Sunday morning affair.

Changing space and time is not going to happen, and so, as is often the case, I am the one who will have to change.

On the immediate term, it means that this post is even more all over the place than normal. I would tell you to skip it, but then you might miss the bits at the end.

On the slightly longer term, I would like to try to write a few WHV sentences every day, apart from my normal daily notes, to see if that could mitigate the writing gradient build-up.

On y va!

Birthday messages

During the past weeks, I completed another orbit around the sun, of course only as a (hopefully sufficiently erudite) planetary hitchhiker.

On the day, many friends sent me so many lovely messages over various communication channels.

In some cases, people had clearly made use of the opportunity to include additional and quite specific warm wishes.

Every year, I am again surprised by how much I appreciate these gifts.

This is my reminder to me, and to anyone else who might need to hear it: Write sweet birthday wishes. In fact, make use of any such excuse to connect with people.

P.S. Back in 2015, I mentioned the sage advice of David Sedaris:

Write thank you notes.

Coffee machine reincarnation

Some of you might remember when it arrived, and some of you have even tasted of its dark and delicious produce over the years.

I am of course referring the beautiful mechanical beast that is our Saeco Incanto Cappuccino, the Italian bean-to-cup machine that came into our lives fifteen years ago and since then has only brought us pleasure, and structure, and so much focus.

Sadly, it recently started tripping the RCD, aka residual current device, aka the ECB, aka the earth leakage breaker, aka the GFCI if you’re in the US.

This generally happens after the first cup, at the second solenoid tap (of three), between the grinding and the pouring of the coffee.

This means that somewhere in the machine a live wire has come into contact with the chassis. The RCD measures this as a (small) current difference (the earth leakage) between live and neutral and isolates that circuit to prevent any humans from being electrocuted.

I took it in for repairs, and although it came back all nice and shiny with new o-rings everywhere, the earth leakage was not remedied.

We took this as a sign that it was finally time to invest in a new bean-to-cup machine, and so we did…

… into a brand new Saeco, this time the Saeco PicoBaristo.

While the old machine was the epitome of purpose-built simplicity, the new one does have significantly more buttons and lights.

One improvement that I can really appreciate, is the fact that the new machine is able to complete a coffee that is interrupted by the water reservoir empyting mid-process.

Whatever the case may be, it is quite capable of converting beans into tasty coffee at sufficient speed with just the right amount of ritual, and that was the point.

The world in their eyes

Thanks to friends visiting us from NL (for the first time), we had the privilege of spending some time with them (re-)exploring our surroundings.

Thanks to their abundance of vacation energy (keeping up even for the while that we did was challenging) we squeezed in a number of activities (themes: hikes, restaurants and fine wine), two of which I would like to mention here:

We had an absolutely fabulous Sunday lunch adventure at Creation Wines on the Hemel-en-Aarde ridge.

This lunch adventure consisted of various small and large dishes combined with the tasting of various Creation wines, all of this coordinated by Jack, our amazing sommelier and story-teller for the afternoon.

Combined with the frankly brilliant view of the vineyard-covered mountain, this was definitely one of those perfect present moment things deserving all of one’s attention.

In order to compensate for our sins on the Sunday, on Monday we hiked up to the top of Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge. It was quite a bit slower than my previous Platties adventure in 2017, but it was good fun nonetheless.

However, now I do feel obliged to go up again in the not too distant future, but this time in speed mode in order to calibrate my memory of my 2017 performance.

More generally speaking, spending time with friends in tourist mode is a great way to maintain one’s gratitude for this amazing place.

BLoM: Bullet List of Miscellany

Never-ending search for mobile notes is never-ending

From the niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche department: If you’re using Org-roam in Emacs, and you’d like to have random markdown files act like they’re org-roam nodes, you too could modify md-roam for frontmatter-less operation!

Beautiful Alder Lake aka meep12700

I have a new work machine and it’s an old-fashioned desktop PC!

Due to various constraints, some of them budgetary, I ended up with an:

  • Intel 12700 (12th gen baby!)
  • Corsair H100x AiO water cooling (so the 12700 power limits can be lifted if needed)
  • 64GB of DDR4-3200 RAM
  • 2 TB of PCIe 4.0 SSD: The Mushkin Vortex with Innogrit IG5236 controller
  • Asus TUF GAMING B660M-PLUS WIFI D4 motherboard
  • Super Flower Leadex III Gold 850W PSU
  • all of the above contained in the roomy and airflowy Phanteks Eclipse P400A case.

See this PCPartPicker for the full details.

Laptops definitely have their perks, but there’s something magical about the raw performance of a new PC, and especially about its longevity.

Completely subjectively, meepzen3, home PC acquired slightly more than a year ago, feels ever so slightly quicker.

Meet your heroes

Lex Fridman made a 5 hour+ long podcast with John Carmack.

As is the case for many programming nerds, Carmack has been a hero of mine since the day I learned of his existence. Also like many nerds of my era, I spent many hours first with Commander , and later with Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake.

Although John Romero certainly deserves much of the credit for these culture changing projects, Carmack was and probably still is one of the best programmers on the planet.

Anyways, it was great to hear that he sounds like a very decent human as well.

You should probably listen to the podcast (haha), but I would like to single out here how Carmack explained that they were uniquely positioned when starting on Commander Keen, in terms of the hundreds (thousands?) of hours of practice they had had building multiple games per year for Softdisk.

In other words, while they were brilliant, Carmack attributes a great deal of their break-through success to plain old hard work.

(See WHV #135 for a previous bit about Carmack’s productivity.)

Call up your friends

In an interview between Sam Harris and Oscar Burkeman (he of the 4000 weeks book, winner of the WHV non-fiction book of 2021 Award , and of the power of being able to put down your work), Sam remarks so astutely that we have become so caught up in the importance of the illusion of control of one’s time, that we have stopped calling up our friends.

Instead, you send a message with something like “hey, let me know when you have a few minutes for a phone call”…

Now your friend either sees this much later, or sees it when you send it, and then has to cogitate about if and when they could maybe fit you in somewhere later in the day.

Not so long ago, you could just call up your friend, all serendipitous, and all present-momenty, because what could be truly more important than spending a few minutes connecting with your friend and/or loved one, and maybe having the opportunity to just let them know that you’re there for them?

If they are really unable to take your call, they won’t.

However, the subtle improvement here is that everyone sometimes needs a tiny bit of a nudge to do the right thing and connect with a brother or sister.

Be the nudge. Accept the nudge. Call up your friends!

Figure 2: Impression from a sneaky slightly early trip to the West Coast to see the flowers.

Figure 2: Impression from a sneaky slightly early trip to the West Coast to see the flowers.