Scripting Intro: A Simple Menu

I thought I’d ease back into programming videos with some on *nix scripting. This first one doesn’t really try to teach specifics; it’s more about the process of writing a script: deciding on the task, sketching out the process, picking a language, and hacking out the script, being flexible enough to make changes that come to you along the way.

There seems to be a hum in this video that I didn’t hear when I was first editing it, so apologies for that. I’ll try to figure out where that’s coming from and clean it up next time.

Homegrown Frittata

First, some housekeeping. When I went to upload this video, I discovered that it’s been over three years since I last posted a video. Tempus fugit. I started a new (better) job in 2020, and that meant learning or getting back up to speed on about half a dozen programming languages and operating systems. That took up all my digital headspace, so my Internet- and computer-related side projects had to go on the back burner for a while. But I’ve been feeling the urge to do some instructional videos again, which means bringing the blog out of hibernation too.

I picked up a basic GoPro and various mounts for it, so this time I won’t have to tie up one hand holding the camera, which was limiting before. It’s too late for garden videos this year, but I plan to get back to them next year, and I’ll be able to show how some things are done instead of just taking walks through the garden pointing to things. I’m still working out what else I might be able to do with it, but this cooking video seemed like an easy start, and ties into the garden stuff since most of the ingredients came from there.

I stopped using Facebook a few years ago, and I’ll be sticking to that. Life is better without social media. But most everyone I know still uses it, and I know that’s where some people used to find my articles, so I’ll continue sharing the articles there.

No promises as to what’s coming next, but there will be something. I want to get back to my programming videos too, but I’ll have to watch some of them just to jog my memory first. I also have several real-world building projects in mind.

I used to make a lot of scrambled eggs, fried, eggs, and omelettes, but recently I’ve taken to frittatas. My old French cookbook says a frittata is an “Italian omelette.” I don’t know if that’s true, but I like them better. It’s basically an omelette where you cook the other ingredients with the eggs instead of dumping them on top at the end. It’s hard to go wrong with browning some combination of meat and vegetables and dumping eggs into them, so that’s become the daily breakfast around here.

At the same time, the chickens have been really doing well the last couple of years. I sold some and gave away some, but still had a lot of eggs to use. So I started frying up some egg whites for the dogs every day. Egg whites are full of protein, and dogs need a lot of protein, plus it’s better than the soy protein they get from bagged dog food. And that means more yolks for me, and yolks are where the healthy fats and most of the vitamins and minerals are. So it works out for everyone and uses up more eggs.

I usually cheat at the end, cooking it completely on the stove instead of putting it in the oven the way the recipes will tell you to. Finishing it in the oven definitely makes it look better, and it’ll hang together in one piece to put on a plate. My way lets it fall apart, especially when you add this many ingredients. But it eats the same, and it saves 10-15 minutes when you’re not worried about presentation and just putting breakfast on the table.

RIP Meat Loaf

I could probably count on one hand the number of celebrities whose death would sadden me. But Meat Loaf was one of them.

I’m not old enough to have grown up with him. I was still in grade school when he was sweating through “Paradise on the Dashboard Lights” on stage as a young star. But by the time I was old enough to start buying albums, everyone, and I mean everyone, had Bat out of Hell or a cassette tape copied from a friend’s album. We could all recite the “baseball” part. Conor Lastowka of Rifftrax said of “Crying Out Loud” that it just builds and builds until by the end it’s like they’re launching missiles off the stage. “It’s ridiculous, but that’s what I like about it.” That’s what I’ve always liked about his “biggest” songs too: the way just when you think they’re winding down, they build to a new level, until he’s wrung every ounce of feeling he can get out of it.

When Bat out of Hell II was coming out, it was pretty big news. It might have been one of the first CDs I bought. I think it was generally considered not as good as the original, but what could be? It was still pretty great, and songs like “Objects in the Rear View Mirror” and “Life Is a Lemon” carried over his style of operatic, intense rock.

When the Internet came along and made it possible to have all the music you ever liked, I discovered that he’d made several albums in between those two, and some of those songs are now favorites. They tend to be more conventional rock, less operatic, but you still get some 7-minute songs that build and build, like “Couldn’t Have Said It Better,” and just plain fun ones like “Los Angeloser.”

I don’t know anything about his personal life. I don’t think I ever wanted to, and not just because celebrities tend to be disappointing when you look too close. There’s a lot of pain in his music, and a man should be allowed to keep his pain to himself. The pain that comes through his songs is what he wanted to share, and that’s enough.

But it wasn’t just pain; that by itself wouldn’t have pulled me in. There’s a strength and optimism and heart that comes through his songs. And despite seeming to put everything he had into every performance, he didn’t take himself seriously. See his “Ode to Bagel Bites” with Jimmy Fallon for instance. Or his very, very bad movie, To Catch a Yeti. But be warned, it’s very bad.

One day I was listening to “Sweet Child of Mine” on the radio, and thought if I’m ever rich, I want to commission Meat Loaf to cover that song. Axl sings it fine, but it needs Meat’s power and heart. I guess I’ll have to wait on that.

Not Arguing on the Internet

The impulse to argue online, or just to share knowledge, is a strange thing. It’s a thankless thing to do these days, when so many people are just waiting to be triggered by anything.

This morning, on a forum about a completely different topic, someone brought up pit bulls. There was the usual nature/nurture argument between “it’s the owners turning them mean” and “it’s the breed.” I quickly knocked out a couple hundred words about how it’s both: the breed was designed over many generations to be an aggressive fighter, but now it draws people who want to encourage that behavior. It was a well-written, fair explanation, and as I proofread it, I thought, “Why do this?” It was sure to get me downvoted and attacked, probably by people on both sides. Some of them might have even read it, but most wouldn’t. The odds of changing anyone’s mind with one post is slim to none. I don’t know any of these people, so why do I care what they think about pit bulls anyway?

So I canceled it without posting. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, writing something and then trashing it. When you know about things, there’s an impulse to share, and that’s generally not a bad thing. Internet forums probably aren’t the best place to do it, though. The other day, someone mentioned finding my reddit account. It was a weird feeling, because I’m not ashamed of anything I post there, but you don’t write the same in the middle of conversations as you would if you expected someone to read all your posts in one sitting. I even wonder about this blog sometimes. I stand behind everything I write here, but the “Dear Reader” in my mind when I’m writing is someone who knows me, so I don’t have to lard posts up with disclaimers. Someone who drops in here cold wouldn’t have that context and could take away all sorts of impressions. I’m too old to care about that, but if I were more fragile, I’d have to.

At least the blog has another purpose, as a place to collect links to my content that might actually produce some value. More on that coming soon. In the meantime, I think I’m going to stop all other online commenting that can be tied to my name, and do less of it in general. I should satisfy the impulse on more useful, lasting writing anyway.

Staying Warm & Bashing

Once I start burning wood for heat in the winter, I like to keep the fire going, because that’s easier than starting a fresh fire every day. The down side is, even a small fire in the furnace means you’re getting some heat, whether you need it or not. So these sunny, 50-something days get up to 80 in the house, and you have to start cracking windows. It’s almost nice when the weather settles into winter temperatures, so it feels good to keep it toasty all the time.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be too accurate. For years now, I’ve had “Unix shell programming” on my resume along with other programming languages. I said “shell” because there are lots of Unix shells, from the basic sh to its descendant ksh and then to bash and zsh, just to list one branch of the family tree. All the shells that descend from sh are programmed basically the same, plus features that each one adds; but if you program for sh, it’ll run in all of them. I mostly use mksh on my systems, but also bash and sh on a regular basis. So I just said “shell” rather than limit myself to a few or list them all, and I’ve never really gotten calls for doing it.

The other day I was talking to a friend in the business who said he runs into a lot of companies who need “bash programming,” and they think of it as just “bash,” not shell, so that’s what they look for. Bash is the default GNU/Linux shell, so people whose only Unix-type experience has been with Linux in the past 20 years think of it as the only one. Some distros are now moving to dash, another ksh successor, but bash is still dominant. Had I said I do “bash scripting,” I might have gotten calls for it, and 99% of the time it wouldn’t matter what shell they actually use.

I guess the lesson is: if you’re trying to market a skill or product, don’t choose the terms that make the most sense or are the most correct. Find out what the people who need it will call it, right or wrong, and use those.

Collecting Bones

Guy’s second annual Deer Drag has begun. He found another deer carcass, probably one the neighbors dumped behind their place, and is bringing it home piece by piece like last year. First there was a chunk of meat, then a leg, then a couple nights ago the whole spine and ribs. He hadn’t showed up for a while at night, so I went looking for him, and he was working on it in the neighbors’ front yard. I went and dragged it the rest of the way so he wouldn’t get hit while pulling it across the road.

I haven’t had to fill his dog food bowl in over a week, so that’s nice.

Collecting Bones

Guy’s second annual Deer Drag has begun. He found another deer carcass, probably one the neighbors dumped behind their place, and is bringing it home piece by piece like last year. First there was a chunk of meat, then a leg, then a couple nights ago the whole spine and ribs. He hadn’t showed up for a while at night, so I went looking for him, and he was working on it in the neighbors’ front yard. I went and dragged it the rest of the way so he wouldn’t get hit while pulling it across the road.

I haven’t had to fill his dog food bowl in over a week, so that’s nice.

Garden Update for November 7, 2019

Took me a while to get this one uploaded. It’s probably the last video of the garden for this year, unless I do one last one with snow on. There will be at least one more as a sort of wrap-up with some planning for next year.

Garden Update for October 16, 2019

We got a light frost a few days after I hoped we wouldn’t in my last video. It was borderline, though, so it killed some things and just singed others. I harvested as much as possible the day before the frost, so I spliced a video of that into the center of this one. If the next frost holds off for a week or two, there should still be more beans coming along from the plants that survived. All the fall crops–lettuce, peas, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, etc.–look great, some of the best I’ve ever had. Seems like it’s hard to get them planted early enough to get done but not so early that they burn up in the heat, but it worked well this year.

Garden Update for October 6, 2019

Winter is coming up fast all of a sudden. A couple days ago it was 90 degrees, now it’s dipping down into the 40s at night. There are a lot of green tomatoes and beans on the vine, so hopefully the frost will hold off for a couple more weeks so they can ripen. The squash are done, so they just need to sit in the sun another week to cure before they go into storage. Lots of harvesting and preserving to do in the next few weeks, and then time to think about what worked and didn’t this year and make plans for next year. I think I’ll do one video just on that.