Aaron's blog

Aristocrat of the West by Larry Woiwode

By aaron.axvig, 30 September, 2020
Date completed
3 weeks 3 days ago

As I am a former employee of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, both summers during college and 4.5 years full time, this book told some stories I had heard already but also filled in a lot of very interesting history that I knew very little about.  I really should have read it while I still worked in Medora.  I would also recommend it--more mildly but still--to residents of Bismarck who are interested in history.  Relatedly, my occasional search queries about the book led me to stumble upon readnd.org which seems like a nice resource for finding books related to North Dakota.

The biography is well split in topics between personal and Gold Seal.  Likewise the balance in coverage of Harold's two marriages is good.  The almost entirely linear narration means that cuts to a backstory (a literary device that I find quite annoying) are graciously kept to a minimum, and I enjoyed the frequent foreshadowing at section and chapter ends.  Though there were a few that I couldn't figure out even with my substantial existing knowledge-base.

I'll say that my great rating does include that the topics covered are of great interest to me, and for the average person it would probably be ranked as a good biography.

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A personal portrait

By aaron.axvig, 11 August, 2020
Aaron and Anna in front of a wrecked house on Cape Fear

I few years ago I wrote this as part of some leadership training, specifically a program by Mel Nelson. The assignment was to write a personal portrait of (I think) how you function at work.

I have a personal portrait that centers on accuracy, finding facts, and making information-based decisions. Things like direct conflicts, rushed conversation, and failure to pragmatically evaluate problems will frustrate me.

Doing things accurately and precisely is important to me. I dislike it when people do just enough to solve the problem for now—a fix of the root issue is usually worth spending additional time to me. Naturally, other people may have a different view of the problem (customer-facing, therefore urgent, for example) and not agree with that sometimes. In such a case a great way to communicate that to me would be to ask for my time estimate and give feedback if that is outside your expectations.

Resolving conflicts with D or I type people is challenging to me. When people become emotional or aggressive while communicating with me I go into a defensive mode where I very carefully say only statements that I am certain are accurate and only say the minimum necessary to appease them and end the confrontation. Later, I will “catch up” and be able to competently debate the issue. Related to this, I often pause for several seconds to think before speaking. Some of the people I enjoy being around the most are those who wait for me to say what I am thinking about rather than taking it as an invitation to fill in the gap themselves.

So, in summary I like to work in non-surprising conditions with plenty of time to solve problems. Pressure applied in the wrong way may still motivate me or get results but will leave a lasting impression on me.

If I make the jump from work to personal and rigorously evaluate my fiancee (who I did not know at the time) against this writing, the labels "frustrating", "challenging to me", and NOT a "person I enjoy being around the most" would need to be applied.  Also I described a perfect comfort zone of "non-surprising conditions with plenty of time".  Everyone thinks they want some perfection like that but it can be a boring way to live life.  Opposites attract, variety is the spice of life, etc. and I think our life together is greatly interesting.

So I think this writing was some ideal of me but it is good that life is not ideal.

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Freedom's Rush by Foster Kinn aaron.axvig Mon, 08/03/2020 - 11:23
Date completed
2 months 2 weeks ago

These stories and thoughts of the author's travels around the western US capture the experience of long-distance motorcycle riding in an incredibly great way.  I found myself nodding in agreement so often, having had many of the same thoughts, encounters, and feelings on my trips.

A lot of the writing is very good--so expressive, yet there are a few instances where some camp or amateurishness pokes through.  I guess many editors would fix that, but would it lose some authenticity in the process?  I think so, and I think overall the result is great.

There are philosophical sections, and the first thing that comes to mind when I heard motorcycles combined with philosophy is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I recommend Freedom's Rush 100x more unless you are a philosophy major.  Long ramblings about Phaedrus are out and replaced with relatively simple wonderings and views inside the author's head.  That's all I need.  And the ratio of motorcycle to philosophy is much better too.

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TT-RSS plugin notes

By aaron.axvig, 29 July, 2020

The class name of your plugin must match the name of the folder which your plugin sits in.  If not, there will be no error but the plugin will not show up in the plugin list.  When I was testing with TT-RSS running in a Docker container in WSL2 I had issues with capitalization.  It should work if the folder and class are all lower case.

A plugin for TT-RSS should have a function about() which returns an array().  There is no documentation about this array that I could find, so here is what I observed from digging around in the source and looking at other people's plugins:

[0]: App version as a float, will always be formatted using %.2F so will always show two decimal places.  Setting this as a string seems to work fine too.
[1]: Description string
[2]: Created by string
[3]: Plugin type boolean (true for system, false for user)
[4]: A URL string which will open when the More Info button is clicked

A list of the hooks with some description can be found here.

The Tao of Willie by Willie Nelson

By aaron.axvig, 27 July, 2020
Date completed
2 months ago

A book of many very short chapters with positive messages.  Willie gives lots of uncontroversial advice, mostly along the lines of be kind, let others be, enjoy life, etc.  A chapter about biodiesel was a bit out of touch when it comes to practicality.

While this is not a full biography or anything, it does discuss a lot of his past.  So now I know at least a little history about Willie.

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Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee

By aaron.axvig, 26 July, 2020
Date completed
2 months ago

A pretty interesting history of the early days of science fiction, centered around the magazine Astounding.  I would have rated it fairly boring but as I became more familiar with the characters it became more engaging.  Admittedly, some of the most interesting was when it got into the forming days of dianetics and Scientology.  I say "admittedly" because I regard these as trash topics and don't really think that it is worthwhile to spend time learning about them, but it seems that I the same inner urges as most do to rubber-neck that wreck.

Reading this did make me want to go back and read some of the discussed works.  I have already read the main three parts of Asimov's Foundation stuff, and Heinlein's Starship Troopers.  I should probably go for a couple of the latter's other Hugo winners.  Also it made me want to see what the old pulp magazines were like.  The Internet Archive does have some that I might read through, but I think I am almost as interested in the physical details as in the contents.  So I may pick up a year of them sometime for $50 or so on eBay.  It would also just be interesting to have some old stuff like that.

 

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Quantum Incident by Douglas Phillips aaron.axvig Sun, 07/19/2020 - 23:09
Date completed
3 months ago

Pretty short as it only took me 20 minutes to read, but I guess worth signing up to the mailing list to get for free.  It is just a prologue to the Quantum series.

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Quantum Time by Douglas Phillips aaron.axvig Sun, 07/19/2020 - 22:15
Date completed
3 months ago

A well written time travel story, and again a good balance of cutting edge science topped of with some made-up things.

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Engine cover sound deadening replacement

By aaron.axvig, 18 July, 2020
New sound deadening material installed on engine cover

Two days ago I removed all of the old engine compartment sound insulation. It was coming loose and had nice carvings in it from the water pump and alternator...since when we bought the boat (1,000 engine hours ago). Today I installed the new sound deadening material so it is finally fixed!

The part that is down against the table (most boat maintenance projects involve trashing the "dining room") is where the steps are, and faces forward when the cover is installed over the engine.

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Plug frustrations

By aaron.axvig, 18 July, 2020

Micro USB is often frustrating because you have to look at the cable and the device carefully to plug it in the correct way.  Optionally you can just try and flip if it doesn't work...pretty quick.  USB C is a reversible port so resolves that issue.

My phone's USB C port has apparently become damaged, probably from a little rain exposure.  Now it only charges with any given cable inserted one way, and not the other.  This is even more annoying than micro USB because it takes longer to see if the phone is charging or not (C) than to feel whether the plug inserts (micro).  So I have about a year of that to look forward to.

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