March 21, 2017

Refusing to Pay the Price of Perfection

Hi, my name is Herb and I am a perfectionist.

Prefectionism is very expensive. The price you pay to be a perfectionist is you can do nothing if you do not do it perfectly. So you start out only doing a handful of things that you know you can do perfectly. However, you are human. After you have done something you find the imperfections and swear to do it better next time.

The problem is the handful of things you thought you could do perfectly are things you are already very good at doing. Thus, learning from your mistakes doesn't provide huge gains like it would in something you have done only once. Eventually, you realize you can't do it perfectly either and give up on doing that thing.

The ultimate price of perfectionism is statis. You can not do anything because it will not be perfect.

Which brings me to this:

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March 20, 2017

March 17, 2017

Saint Patrick

Happy Saint Patrick's Day.

While for most in the United States this is most a day about wearing green and drinking too much I want to take a moment to remember our father among the Saints, Patrick of Ireland. Originally taken from modern Wales by Irish raiders as a slave. He would escape and return home. However, years later he would become a missionary bringing the Gospel to the people of Ireland.

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March 16, 2017

Tristan and Iseult: True Romance

Tristan and Isolde with the Potion by John Willaim Waterhouse

One high point of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck for me was the fact that it takes a piss on Romeo and Juliet. As much of a hopeless romantic I once was before the inevitable cynicism romantics develop took over I never like that story. There is romantic and then there is pathetic and stupid. The sad thing is, as Mason points out, that Romeo and Juliet has become the benchmark of romantic love in the English speaking world.

Let me propose a much better standard for us. I believe we should embrace the story of Tristan and Iseult as the benchmark for romantic love. It has several elements that make it superior to Shakespear's play while retaining the romanticism that has come to dominate the English world since the early nineteenth century.

It even has dead lovers slumped over each other at the end of most versions.

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March 15, 2017

Failure is Other People

Due to a convergence of threads I recently listened to one self-help on Audible and am reading another on my Kindle. The former is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck which, despite its title, is very about about caring about things. It was recommended by a friend. The latter is The Miracle Morning which was I came across when I dived into the hot thing among supermom types and, by extension, hardcore submissives (the two groups have a lot in common): bullet journaling. Specifically, I learned of it through Boho Berry’s posts on level 10 life.

The common idea in both books is you are responsible for everything in your life. The latter has it fairly early in the introduction:

It begins with accepting total responsibility for every aspect of your life and refusing to blame anyone else.

Now, the very next paragraph claims responsibility is not the same as blame, but there in the money quote we are required not to blame others as part of taking responsibility. The latter follows the same pattern and even enlists the father of American psychology, William James, and his personal experiment in responsibility to exempify this reasoning.

This is all well and good. The reasoning, that you can only control what you do, is solid. I cannot control other people as though they were puppets and thus anything that can only be achieved by them changing is out of my control. However, neither book is willing to take this thinking to its logical conclusion.

Failure is other people.

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March 14, 2017

Me and my Fitbits

Today's news features the latest in a line of stories about how devices like the Fitbit do little to help people improve their fitness and health. In fact, as this story argues, such devices leave people worse off.

My Fitbit experience is certainly mixed. I got my first Fitbit, an original Flex, in February of 2014. I used it a bit and kind of forgot it. Last Spring I started do regular walks and lost a few pounds that I quickly got back. This year, at seven weeks of working on weight loss I have lost about 7.5 pounds. It could be more as tend to use my 10 day rolling average as my weight. Using today’s scale reading compared to the Wednesday before MLK Day the loss is 9 pounds.

However, the earlier “Fitbit failures” look like my earlier failed efforts. There was a lack of staying power over the course of a huge goal. This time I am having more success but the focus is less on my 200 pound goal weight, a loss of over 50 pounds, and more on the today goals: step count, calorie in count, calorie out count, hours with at least 250 steps, and king of the hill my before meal blood sugar readings.

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March 13, 2017

Monday Pointers, 2016.12.19

D4: Do housing costs prove markets don’t work?

Scott over at Slate Star Codex wonders if the huge cost increases in education (primary, secondary, and university), housing costs, health-care, and transportation indicate if markets do not work. The very last line is much in line with Scott's assessments and its honesty is why he is always worth reading.

D6: And maybe it is just government intervention.

Megan McArdle happened to address Scott's post the same day I read it. Imagine my pleasant surprise to see her discussing it while it was very fresh in my mind. Megan argues that the efficiency issue is mostly government but not in a stock ”government is bad„ way but in discussing how the structure of American society and government make efficient bureaucracy very hard for the US.

D8: Get out now

Perhaps the best line is about getting a signal.

Video of the Week: Last week a coworker asked if I had been losing weight. I have, about seven pounds since MLK Day. We now greet via bro nod and fist bump.

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March 3, 2017

Groundhog Day Resolutions, March Update

Living in CHAOS: This is where I have had the most success. While I have had to repeat some of the FlyLady babysteps I am still working on the program which is better than I have done in the past where one off day lead me to quit multiple times. The house is better and if I’m stuck about day 13 trying to get both morning and evening routines everyday I am getting at least part of each every day. Even if come April 4th I’m still trying to get to 31 days of baby steps to get the habits ingrained I will not have quit.

A Track a Fortnight: This goal, however, is currently in total fail mode. Yesterday should have been track two’s posting day. I don’t have a track out. This resolution needs the most effort. I think I am going to take Austin Kleon’s advice to "show your work" and mash it up with Mike Monday’s "minimum viable commitment" idea to get some momentum as well as some blog content.

Mike is big on completing a lot of tracks and should have been mentioned with Glass and Bradbury as inspiration for this resolution. His minimum viable commitment is to work on music daily, even if just ten minutes. If I post the results of at least some of that, even if just a two bar drum loop or melody wave, as part of showing my work it will get some forward momentum on both the music and blogging fronts.

Squat, Lunge, Push, Sit, Swim, and Run: is in between. I am on day three of the swimming programming with no issues. I have started squats twice and missed days. I will restart squats tonight or tomorrow and add pushups the day after. I am running in parallel to make sure I can get them all done. I think that should be okay if legs and upper body are on different days and I focus the cardio on the part I’m not doing that day (i.e. don’t swim and do arms or run and do legs).

Summary: Basically, I made the resolutions and, except for Flying, forgot about them most of February. Time to recenter and get moving.

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February 14, 2017

Inspirational Page

Day 11 of the Flylady Babysteps requires you to write some of your favorite inspirational phrases for 15 minutes in your notebook.

I have been stuck on Day 11 for a week because this isn’ comfortable for me. However, today I finally did it. Here is my list:

  • Never say never.
  • Die with your boots on.
  • Even Einstein said he was no Einstein.
  • We don’t expect kittens to fight wildcats and win; we merely expect them to try.
  • All ships are designed to sink, but only submarines are designed to surface.
  • There is Jackson standing like a stonewall; rally ’round the Virginians.
  • A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.
  • Call it Captain.
  • England expects that every man will do his duty.
  • Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it. And - which is more - you’ll be a Man, my son!
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February 13, 2017

Monday Pointers

D4 Learning Is the Important Part

One of the problems with free online courses is lack of some certificate of completion. However, if you are interested in learning for its own sake or can integrate learning on the job to advance without credentials then this list gives you over 250 Ivy League courses to try.

Video of the Week: For certain kinds of relationship the last step of my grieving their end is find the Aimee Mann song that summarizes it. I had to do this recently and the "winner" was Amateur.

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February 2, 2017

Groundhog Day Resolutions

I first came across Groundhog Day Resolutions about ten years ago on David Seah’s blog]2. I liked the idea. The separation from the frenzy of New Year’s Day should allow you to make more thought out resolutions. The built in review pattern of the n/n days of the various months also provide a natural review cycle that still breaks the usual week or same day of the month pattern. I have considered them a few years running but this is my first year actually setting them. I have chosen three.

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January 17, 2017

Reading Original Dungeons & Dragons, Part II

Determination of Abilities

When you read this section it is easy to wonder why we bothered determining them. There are two abilities which have rules effects only for matching classes where the can affect experience. Fighting-Men and Clerics get a penalty or bonus to their experience based on their strength or wisdom respectively.

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January 14, 2017

Thoughts on Reading Original Dungeons & Dragons, Part I

Prologue

Original Dungeons & Dragons became available on PDF again about a year ago. While my first copy was a white box (as was my second) I now use print outs of the PDFs. Although I am running fourth edition at this time I would like to run a bare box edition and allow additional material to accrete naturally. As Wayne Rossi pointed out when the PDF of Greyhawk returned it complicates things:

Once you remove [Greyhawk], OD&D's setting (which of course I've written about) becomes much more flexible. Each monster, spell, or magic item you choose to add does more to customize the game, because you're no longer fighting the now-entrenched Gygaxian assumptions.

Doing it and being successful will in turn result in something akin to Planet Eris or Carcosa (which even said "Supplement IV" when first published to no end of controversy).

Before I embark on such a game I want to re-read the LBB and take some notes. I came to the game with Holmes and that means I have a lot of assumptions about what things mean I would need to clear. I also want to look for places where a different interpretation of open items might give a different game.

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January 13, 2017

Another Roland Product I Missed

My first musical instrument was a three quarters sized guitar when I was in first grade or so. I had a few lessons but wasn’t really ready for it. It fell by the wayside. Then in the sixth grade I started playing clarinet. I have been a wind player ever since. First with clarinet and then with flute added.

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January 11, 2017

Roland Boutique Line Year 2

I am not sure how I missed it but Roland has introduced three more synths in the Boutique line for 2017. Two are unsurprising to the point I’ I was amazed the weren’ in the original releases for 2016. The TR-09 recreates the classic TR-909 drum machine. The TB-03 creates the famous TB-303. While I expect the TR-09 to sell like hotcakes the TB-303 will be as close to printing money a synthesizer manufacturing not named Moog will get. It is the only synth I know that is responsible for an entire genre of music or two.

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January 2, 2017

December 26, 2016

Monday Pointers, 2016.12.26

First, a belated Merry Christmas to all my readers. I spent mine with the family including two nephews and a niece who all conspired to make it a lot of fun. It is only four more Christmases until I can give the oldest his first D&D boxed set. Here is hoping Moldvay and B2 are available as POD by then. Which gives a nice segue into our first pointer:

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December 23, 2016

Sunday Night’s Reading

Ugh, I have fallen further behind on these updates. The reading that inspires them, however, has continued without break of one short story, one poem, and one essay in the evening, generally right before sleeping.

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December 20, 2016

Saturday Night’s Reading

So, I remain two days behind reporting on last Saturday’s writing on Tuesday. Given today is the first day of Christmas travel driving from Atlanta to Texas I’ll take not falling further behind as a win. As I said yesterday it is only the reporting that has fallen behind.

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December 19, 2016

Friday Night’s Reading

While a busy weekend did mean I didn’t report on my Friday and Saturday night reading of one story, one poem, and one essay I did do the reading. We may not catch up all three days today as I’m heading out on a trip to spend Christmas with my family tomorrow, but we’ll get Friday in at least.

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December 16, 2016

December 15, 2016

December 14, 2016

December 13, 2016

December 12, 2016

Monday Pointers

If there is a theme to the pointers this week it is information. We start with how can we use a mass of data to make predictions and then move to find causations. We follow that up with an argument about the amount of information government should provide with respect to what it requires business to provide.

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September 29, 2016

Free Lunches Are Just Small Carpets

A metaphor I’ve taken to using a lot is trying to use a 9x9 carpet to cover the floor in a 10x10 room. I use it when I think something is not only insufficient to a task but when attempting to use makes the immediate task seem complete without people realizing it made something previously done become undone. I vaguely remember being exposed to the idea when reading of Andrew Wiles’s work to fix his initially incorrect proof of Fermat's last theorem.

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September 27, 2016

Expedia is Untrustworthy

For the past three or so years I have booked hotel rooms as often as possible through Hotels.com. I have done so often enough that I currently have a free one night stay and have used free one night stays at least twice before. As a free night requires tens hotel room nights I have stayed at least thirty nights in a room booked via the site. My next trip I will be staying three nights in a Hotels.com booked room as will my sister and her family.

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September 26, 2016

This Week’s Reading: Technical Books

As discussed last week I have shifted my mathematical reading. I have shifted from a stochastic calculus to general probability and statistics. I have covered most of the first chapter of Schaum's Outlines Probability and Statistics. I have finished the first chapter of Think Stats. The same author also has Think Bayes on Bayesian statistics which may get added to the pile. One thing I need to insure I do is coordinate the reading to make sure I'm covering the same rough areas of material at the same time.

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September 19, 2016

Monday Pointers

If there is a theme to the pointers this week it is information. We start with how can we use a mass of data to make predictions and then move to find causations. We follow that up with an argument about the amount of information government should provide with respect to what it requires business to provide.

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September 18, 2016

This Week’s Reading: Technical Books

The big news this week is there is a change of plan for the technical reading. As I discussed I selected Shreve Volume 2 as a mathematical complement to reading Hull. It has been tough sledding. However, circumstances have changed. I have applied to the Georgia Tech program in Quantitative and Computational Finance. There is a core class in stochastic calculus and an optional second one. They cover Shreve volume 1 and 2 respectively. I am reading ahead to Spring of 2018. This seems an inappropriate effort.

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September 12, 2016

September 11, 2016

Getting the Call

When I remember 9/11 it was a confused and crazy day even though I was no where near NYC. When I step back, however, the actions of two people who I never met and whose acts I heard about second hand. One became famous, was in the news, and has an article in Wikipedia. His actions before and on that day in all probability saved 2,000 lives. The other was no where near NYC, had her legend spread by a bunch of goths, and I do not even know her name just her deeds.

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September 4, 2016

This Week’s Reading: Technical Books

Short post this week as I wound up taking a road trip for Labor Day weekend including taking Friday off. I hit the road after Thursday's team trivia so there were really only three reading days this week.

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August 30, 2016

101 Days of Type IV Status Update (Day 46)

We are just short of the half-way point of my 101 Days of Type IV D&D. We are two sessions into my campaign. Yes, I put this into bold as my last campaign barely got to two sessions. I consider four the sweet spot where I know they will last. At this point the project is a success in my opinion. The goal was to cut down my gamer ADD to the point where I actually did something that got a game going. Now, the game has only tied my last attempt in terms of length so you might say it is early to judge this a success.

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August 29, 2016

August 28, 2016

August 21, 2016

This Week’s Reading: Technical Books

Right now my project is to build a trading system. I see it as a natural extension of my working in a quant shop. This includes the ability to backtest strategies and implement them by reviewing day and creating buy and sell orders. At this time I’m less worried about automated ordering as the other areas. A key reason is that I’m restricted in my market activity by my employer. The other is free cash for trading although I expect that to change in the next 18-24 months. However, I suspect building such a system will take that long.

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August 8, 2016

August 6, 2016

August 4, 2016

August 1, 2016

July 21, 2016

July 19, 2016

Hart’s Notch (101 Days of Type IV Day 4)

Any D&D campaign needs a starting point which is traditional a place with some kind of common house if only because the cliche D&D party begins when "You all meet in an inn". Who am I to mess with tradition.

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July 16, 2016

101 Days of D&D Type IV Day 1

The die is cast. As of this past Thursday I am on track to start a new gaming group at my house on August 5. We will be playing a game I have reffed once and played once, Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition (or Type IV or the Balrog edition). I’ve been toying with it and even though Type V is hot and my heritage is in OD&D I don't think I gave Type IV a fair shake. I tend to agree with the argument that it would have been much better received if it was named something else which was pretty unfair. I played it and had fun with it. A couple of optional rules in the Dungeon Master's Guide 2 for that edition address my biggest complaints that remain when I treat it as its own thing.

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July 3, 2016

101 Days of Rifts Redux?

In late 2014 I wanted to get an RPG going. Traditionally I get some ideas together, try to get a group together, and then it falls apart and I lose interest for a while. I decided to try an idea which had had some popularity on The Big Purple of "101 Days of X" where X was some system or setting. I didn’t even make it to 30 days. However, recently I found two people in the local gamers meetup were interested in Palladium, specifically Rifts® and I’m tempted to revive the project.

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March 28, 2016

September 1, 2015

August 31, 2015

August 30, 2015

Sunday Inspiration: Austin Kleon

"Be nice", "be boring", "sell out", "share something every day", and "tell good stories" are just some of the pithy pieces of advice Austin Kleon has been dispensing to those who wish to become not just artists but artists with a community of colleagues and an audience. In two books published in the past three years, Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work! he has given us twenty easy sounding, but often hard to follow, ideas on creativity. I doubt anyone will be surprised that chapter four in the later book, "Share Something Every Day", has a section on both registering your own domain, preferably your own name, and using it for the sharing.

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August 29, 2015

August 28, 2015

August 25, 2015

Nasty Quiz

This week's quiz in my data gathering and cleaning course took about 2 hours.

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August 24, 2015

August 23, 2015

Hello, My Name is Herb

Welcome to herbertnowell.com. I'm here to discuss what interests me. Two major topics will be music centering on my own writing and performing and tabletop roleplaying games. I suspect a lot of time will be devoted to what I'm reading and a tad to mathematics and computer programming. The last two, after all, pay the bills.

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