Published

Lemon Olive Oil Cake (link)

Lemon Olive Oil Cake from Food Network

This cake is fabulous. It didn’t get quite as dark as the picture, maybe need to turn the heat up a little? At any rate, it was so tasty, and useful because I was out of butter. Didn’t make the candied lemon slices because… it seemed like a faff. Totally great without it anyways. Might be worth sprinkling poppyseeds over top next time.

Would also like to make the lemony Bosworth jumbles from this Guardian page soon.

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Failures, low moments

Came across this tweet from Marleigh Culver yesterday.

Wish people talked about project failures more often.

And it really struck a nerve. It’s why I’m mostly off Instagram. Though I love popping on every once in a while to see what good friends are up to, it’s too rosy in general. Twitter’s kind of the same, but with the added complication of often-unnecessary dunking when someone on purpose or accidentally shares a vulnerable moment.

We need more talk about low moments online in general, ideally, but it’s extremely hard. If it’s work related, it feels like overstepping a boundary (imaginary, or real like an NDA). Even when it isn’t work related, it can feel… messy? Messy’s not quite the right word, but something along those lines. Feelings and the way we perceive them can be so fleeting and of the moment, whereas sharing something online is just so permanent.

I’d like to get better about sharing the low moments. Someone who is excellent at sharing the good with the bad is Alice Bartlett, her Weaknotes are so worthwhile.

I’ve created the tag low moments to start collecting these posts in one place.

It was hard to know what to call the tag… “Failures” felt too harsh. I *absolutely* feel like a failure at times but want to avoid imposing that label on myself if I can avoid it. Who am I to say if something I’ve done constitutes a real failure? Maybe I can make that judgement in 10, 20 years down the line, but not in the moment. So “low moments” it is, for now.

Will try to start sharing more of these moments. And I’m fully expecting more with a baby coming soon! Gonna be a ride.

Published

Two articles on SPA or SPA-like sites vs alternatives

I missed these two articles by Tom MacWright from last year.

Second-guessing the modern web, 10 May 2020
If not SPAs, What?, 28 October 2020

In both, he outlines few upsides and downsides about the single page app (SPA) approach to websites and has a few points that I have really struggled to articulate in the past.

From “Second-guessing”:

There is a swath of use cases which would be hard without React and which aren’t complicated enough to push beyond React’s limits. But there are also a lot of problems for which I can’t see any concrete benefit to using React. Those are things like blogs, shopping-cart-websites, mostly-CRUD-and-forms-websites. For these things, all of the fancy optimizations are trying to get you closer to the performance you would’ve gotten if you just hadn’t used so much technology.

I’ve dabbled with React and Vue in small side projects and experiments. But the point above is the big reason I’ve never taken the time to sit down and learn either of them properly. For almost every client site I’ve ever done, it just didn’t make sense to make it an SPA.

And I’m not 100% sure, but I think this might contribute to longevity. Some of my clients are still working with the same sites I built for them nearly 10 years ago, a few with just minor security-related updates in the meantime and no other maintenance strictly required. That’s not to say that those sites couldn’t use a “lick of paint” to bring them in to the 2020s; the point is that they work. And for organizations working on really tight budgets, or budgets that fluctuate wildly due to public funding, stability is really important. They can’t afford a developer on retainer to keep things running smoothly.

But of course the SPA vibe is pretty attractive, particularly for cultural orgs. MacWright has some decent alternatives suggested in “If not SPAs” including Turbolinks, Barba.js, and instant.page. Will also mention MoOx/pjax since I’ve used it before for page transitions with very good results, but probably won’t use it in the future as it hasn’t been updated in a while.

And again, there’s the rub. The more non-native scripts, plugins, etc I use in a project, the more likely that it’s going to be a major headache (and thus major time/money for the client) for me to change things down the line if or when that bit of tech is no longer supported or has changed significantly.

So it’s not even so much about being wary of React or Vue, it’s about not making assumptions, being cautious and cognizant of future needs or restrictions when proposing a tech stack. Any tech stack you choose will ultimately become a ball-and-chain, not just those based on JavaScript frameworks. It’s just that the ball can sometimes be heavier than it needed to be, and you can anticipate that with a little foresight.

Published

“I hope I’m pleasing David”

GP It felt like… he was trying… for me to be myself. Whatever that is. But I know that’s one of the hard… I mean, I always get very anxious when somebody says “be yourself”. Because that assumes that we know who we are. We’re just a collection of how other people see us a lot of the time, I think.

DB I didn’t tell you to be yourself.

GP No you didn’t. I just felt like that’s what you wanted.

DB Mm.

GP But in the end I’m just this sort of nervous construct of who I hoped I am. And that I hope I’m pleasing David.

Laughter

DB I’m very pleased!

Grayson Perry talking to photographer David Bailey about his experience being photographed. From Grayson’s Art Club, series 2 episode 1, around 15:30.

Grayson’s Art Club has been such a lovely watch recently, so wholesome, funny, and touching. Philippa Perry’s presence throughout is a huge plus.

Available on Channel 4 in the UK and possibly BBC Select in the US. Not sure how BBC Select has it though since it’s a Channel 4 show. There are a lot of clips on YouTube as well.

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“we will be making marmalade”

Read Letting go: my battle to help my parents die a good death by Kate Clanchy in The Guardian, published 6 April.

They don’t know if she will ever come off [the ventilator], but if she does, they say, she will live a very limited life in a nursing home. “We must hope she dies,” says my dad when I put down the phone. My parents are devout atheists: they believe there is no God and therefore we must live well. So do I. We pray.

This is probably one of the more moving things I’ve read in the past year. I came across it via Kate’s Twitter profile where she often shares poetry by her students.

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To read: “Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment” by Matrix

Another one for the list.

***

Read Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment by The Matrix Feminist Design Cooperative, published by Pluto Press in 1984.

Came across it via this article in the Guardian, wish I could see the exhibition currently on at the Barbican.

It’s long out of print so pretty pricey secondhand… but the ever-useful Monoskop has a copy online and supposedly Verso is reprinting it this year. Definitely one for the wish list.

Related to this, check out the Matrix Open feminist architecture archive online which includes a few texts and other resources.

Random coincidence: Apparently Pluto Press was located on Torriano Ave. in the mid-80s, the same short street in Kentish Town where I lived when I first moved to London. Looks like the Torriano is now the Rose & Crown, but it sounds like it was a relatively gentle change, as far as pub refurbishments go. Pluto Press is now up in Archway, just up the road from the old Byam Shaw School of Art building. Wonder what CSM is doing with that space now…

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Some long-winded thoughts on privacy policies and consent popups

This Q&A is compiled from conversations I have had with many, many clients and collaborators who have had a hard time navigating things like the GDPR, privacy policies, cookie notices, consent messaging, and other related topics.

Here are all the questions covered below:

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“I firmly believe in stressing the *fun* in *fun*gi”

Cover of the book “All That the Rain Promises and More...”

I picked up All That the Rain Promises and More… A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora at Alley Cat Bookstore and Gallery a few weeks ago. It felt a little silly considering we live in maybe the most concrete neighborhood we’ve ever lived in, and since foraging isn’t allowed in most of California, but how could I not get it. Look at the absolute maniac on the cover, the title.

The rest of the book lives up to the cover. The format is great, truly pocketable. Before you even get to the title page, it starts with a super straightforward flow chart of how to identify a mushroom with gills. The back endpapers are the same, but for mushrooms without gills. The bulk of the content is densely packed information about mushrooms, of course. But peppered throughout are anecdotes, recipes, personal stories and more from the author and many other smiling fungi fans.

Honestly, it’s been nice even just as bedtime reading, as strange as that may sound. 10/10

Now I just need to get myself out to Point Reyes or Salt Point State Park. For more on ethical / legal mushroom foraging in California, I found this article useful.

Get the book used or new on Biblio

Spread from the book “All That the Rain Promises and More...”

Spread from the book “All That the Rain Promises and More...”

Spread from the book “All That the Rain Promises and More...”

Published

Music notation software

Just came across StaffPad via SB, music notation software for tablets. Looks very cool.

I used Sibelius pretty heavily in college, dabbled with Finale a bit as well. Looks like Sibelius is now a subscription app à la Adobe CS 😕 so I probably wouldn’t reach for it now. There is a free tier, but it’s pretty limiting. Finale’s not a subscription app, but it’s an eye-watering $600 for the most recent version. I’m all for paying for software when it’s worth it, but that seems steep.

StaffPad is $89.99 in the Mac App store as of right now, which seems very reasonable considering the features it offers. The handwriting recognition in particular looks pretty nifty, though I wonder how accurate it would be in practice…

My music notation needs are generally very intermittent (nonexistent at the moment…), so I’ll probably stick to LilyPond for now. It’s free, open source software that’s a lot like LaTeX but for music, does the job and can achieve some pretty complex notation. I do wish it was easier to control the text and notation fonts, but you can’t have everything. A huge upside of using LilyPond is keeping scores in version control via Git, which I think I’d miss if I moved to something with a more traditional UI.

Published

Identity wrangling

A hand cupping some water from a stream

Cupping the water in Spicey Gill coming down from Ilkley Moor. Photo taken a year ago today.

“You are not your emotions.” Well you are, but you are not only your emotions. And you can choose not to be controlled by your emotions.

Life is made up of micro and macro decisions, and their consequences.

I chose to move back to the US, and now I am grappling with the reality of that decision, amongst other things. It has made life easier in some respects, and harder in others. Do I regret it? No. Will we be here forever? Magic eight ball says 🎱 “Concentrate and ask again”.

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