Jeremy is read The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay

Why did you read this book? It was a childhood favorite of Beckie’s that she gave me for Xmas because of all its Aussie awesomeness. She read it to me while we drove north for an overnight trip.

Has Beckie read it? Apparently many times as a girl, and once recently out loud in our car.

42 word review: Kids’ book, rhyming dialogue. Three swagmen journey about with their magic pudding, which replenishes itself, changes flavors, talks, runs, sprouts arms. Coveted by pudding thieves who craftily steal it several times, but swagmen get it back by either outsmarting thieves or outright violence.

Overall rating: 3 sneaky possums (out of 5)

Python for Actual Beginners: GitHub for Windows

Once again in my attempts to learn python, I got stuck on something so basic that nobody else would explain it. I even tried searching “GitHub for complete newbies”, and the resulting tutorials still glossed over it. Maybe I should be embarrassed at how long it took me to figure it out, but I’ll ignore that in the interest of saving someone else from my fruitless searching.

I’m working on a programming project that I might share on the blog when it’s finished, but for now, I wanted to be able to save a couple of different versions of the code because I couldn’t figure out which approach was best. Version control is exactly what GitHub is for, so I decided it was time to figure out how to use it.

I managed to download and install GitHub for Windows easily enough. The instructions on the GitHub site were clear enough. However, note the last line:



See how there’s no link to instructions on how to code or edit your repository? Apparently, it’s so obvious nobody could need an explanation… Well, it is simple, but it wasn’t obvious to me.

I went the circuitous path of creating a repository on the website and pasting in some code there, instead of going straight to GitHub for Windows, which was probably a mistake. I figured out how to get access to my repository with GHfW easily enough.

The confusing part to me was that GHfW shows you the code right there in its window, but you can’t edit it. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the code is saved in a file somewhere else that you have to open with your preferred text editor/python IDE to edit. You can use the instructions here to figure out where (and change it to your preferred directory).

Here are the more straightforward instructions for creating a repository for some code you’ve already written in python:

  1. Save your .py file in a dedicated folder (the name can’t have any special characters or spaces)
  2. Drag the folder to the GHfW home screen (or click on “+create” at the top and manually point it to your folder). Your repository will appear in the list of local repositories.
  3. Click on the arrow to the right of the repository name. You’ll see a screen with several files listed on the right.
  4. Fill in the “summary” box with something that describes the current state of your project (at least that’s what I did).ghfw precommit
  5. Click “Commit”. Congratulations! You just created a repository! You can see your code by clicking on the arrow next to your .py file on the right.ghfw commit
  6. Now you can go back and edit your .py file with whatever you used to create it, and after you save any changes, GHfW will notice and show “uncommitted changes” on the left. Describe the new version and hit commitghfw uncommitted
  7. You can hit publish (in the top right) to upload your files to the cloud, too.

I haven’t figured out much more than this, but at least now I have various different versions of my program safely stored.


Jeremy reads So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

[Note: non-fiction book. Book #1 toward fulfilling 2014 resolution to try to read 24 books related to personal development.]

Why did you read this book? I think I saw the title somewhere and liked it.

Has Beckie read it? No.

Example useful quotes:

42 word review: Attacks idea that the way to job you love is to first figure out your passion. Focuses instead on how long-term and strategic acquisition of valued skills allows people to get cool jobs. Target audience much younger than me.

  • “[Ira] Glass emphasizes that it takes time to get good at anything, recounting the many years it took him to master radio to the point where he had interesting options. ‘The key thing is to force yourself through the work, force the skills to come; that’s the hardest phase,’ he says.”
  • “The easiest thing in the world to do is to get up in the morning and spend the day answering e-mail… But this is not a very strategic use of time.”
  • “Enthusiasm alone is not rare and valuable and is therefore not worth much in terms of career capital.”

Overall rating: 3 colored parachutes (out of 5)

Beckie listens to The Anatomist’s Apprentice by Tessa Harris

Why did you read this book? I misinterpreted the synopsis and thought that the book would be about a woman who became an anatomist’s apprentice to investigate her brother’s death. Instead, she just asked the anatomist to investigate himself.

Has Jeremy read it? No.

42-word review: This book was tedious and had too many plot twists that weren’t even clever; they just made me annoyed it wasn’t over yet. It was too enamored with the protagonist’s supposed genius and managed to make the development of forensic science boring.

Overall rating: 2 post-mortems (out of 5)

Let’s give it a go!: Touring a rum distillery

[No photo! Because of “health and safety regulations,” everyone had to put anything with a battery into a locker before the tour began.]

Why? We were in Bundaberg, home of Bundaberg rum, which is virtually unknown in the US but very big here in Oz. (In terms of market size and presence, the best US analogy might be Jack Daniels, not Bacardi or any other rum). We saw it recommended on Trip Advisor, so: “Let’s give it a go!”

How did it go? I’m not a rum drinker, but when companies set their mind on providing a good tour, they can really do a good job. Appealing tour guide team with appealing patter, and all that. The running gimmick was trying to get us to yell “Huzzah!” at something positive and “Poppycock!” at something negative. The tour started with molasses vats and ended at the bar, where each adult got two free drinks.

Would you do it again? This is the second time I’ve seen a tour of how alcohol gets made (the first was the Sierra Nevada brewing company in California), and both times I was glad I went. So probably not another rum distillery, but definitely up for something else in this vein, especially if it ends with drinks.

Beckie reads Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh by R.L. LaFevers

Why did you read this book? To finish the series and because we went on another road trip.

Has Jeremy read it? Yes.

42-word review: The usual formula was transferred to Egypt this time. Gadji was a poor substitute for Sticky Will, despite his pet monkey. I was glad it wrapped up Theodosia’s story, but the author has other kid-adventurer series if we need road-trip reading again.

Overall rating: 3 reticules (out of 5)

Imp of the Perverse

Sentence I liked from a book I’m currently reading, The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman:

Edgar Allan Poe, in his short story of the same name, calls it ‘the imp of the perverse’: that nameless but distinct urge one sometimes experiences, when walking along a precipitous cliff edge, or climbing to the observation deck of a tall building, to throw oneself off – not from any suicidal motivation, but precisely because it would be so calamitous to do so.

I hadn’t heard of the “imp of the perverse,” but I remember my relief when I learned it was normal to have this “nameless but distinct urge” and not a secret personal pathology.