Trick's Blog

Be curious, not judgmental - Ted Lasso

Dune (2021)

I just got home from seeing Dune, and this is my spoiler free review.

TLDR: The movie does a lot to get the book to screen adaptation right, possibly too much. I'm not sure how much people who aren't familiar with the story will enjoy it.

Now my longer thoughts:

First, some very important context: I have read the book probably a dozen times. It was one of the books I'd name as being very formative for me, and has been a mainstay for me as something I regularly would revisit. I have a half-dozen copies of it in various printings. I love the book.

Second, the story itself has its problems as it comes from another era. Sexism, racism, and all sorts of other -isms. Looking at it requires looking through the lens of awareness and time.

Now, I saw the movie in just a regular theater. And, for a solid portion of this movie, I had tears leaking from my eyes at the beauty and story that was on screen in front of me.

There have been a number of previous attempts to tell this story on the big screen. First was the movie that included such names as Patrick Stewart and Sting. Second was the TV miniseries for Syfy.

This one nailed it in so many ways. I don't agree with everything. I don't agree with all of the casting. But... man they got so much right.

That said, to make the movie they did, they had to cut from the story. A lot of what they cut would have made a lot of what they kept make more sense, or in some cases, is completely needed for things to make sense.

For example, there are people in the story called Mentats. You'll know them by a black stripe on their bottom lip. They are essentially human computers. Why are they there? What do they do? You get no context to them in the movie. And there is importance for them to the sides in the story.

The soldiers in the movie all fight with blades, even though you see lasers and projectile weapons? Why? The book gives you a reason, but they skip explaining it in the movie so you are forced to just accept this.

They also barely provide the context that is the intergalactic setting for the defining conflict of the story. You get bits of it, but I am not sure how obvious it is to people who don't have the book in their head to fill in the gaps and it definitely lacks some of the larger context.

Now, I get it. Things had to go otherwise this would be a series of four four-hour epics. But I air these as examples of why I think reading the book before seeing the movie is so beneficial, it lets you appreciate the story at a deeper and more complete level.

The visuals and the way they portrayed the story is largely true to the book. It also hits the tone and epic feel of the story; unfortunately I think that to hit those things, lends to the way that many will find the movie slow and plodding.

I am thrilled to see it getting such good ratings on Rotten Tomatoes; I am just worried we're about to see those ratings dip as others are enticed to see it.

Lastly, I understand why they did it, but it was not advertised that this is not the whole Dune story. It's just "Part 1." No, I don't mean multiple books as the story of Dune. I mean the first book of Frank Herbert's series. My estimate is that they see it being a trilogy, but I have no idea if we'll get more than just this movie.

We'll see.

10/23/2021 9:36 pm
Tags: movie, scifi, review

11 years married today, together for 15. Time flies.

Katie is the anchor, when the seas get rough. She is my lighthouse when there is fog and I need something to guide by. She is the audience who every laugh is meant for. She is my biggest cheerleader no matter what it is I'm attempting to do. She is the brains who keeps our life on track. She is my one true love. She is my always and forever.

Thank you all to our friends and family who have been by our side through the years. Katie, I love you.

Thinking about November for this year. Last year I wrote a (bad) novel. I have another idea for a novel that I might tackle this year. However I'm also toying with the idea of, rather than writing a book, binge-ing and writing an app for the phone. A month-long "hackathon" sort of thing.

The thing I'm considering is a podcast app. I have one "killer feature" for it, which is the ability to group/tag podcasts and then select playlists based on the group or tag. Want to listen to the news on your morning commute? Here's today's news podcasts from NPR, the New York Times, etc. Want something to laugh at while you work, hit your comedy group. Etc.

We'll see. I'm toying with the idea. I haven't written an Android app in years. Maybe I'll dive into it again for NaAppHackMo - National App Hackathon Month

10/8/2021 8:57 am
Tags: coding, app idea, november, podcasts

Learning React.js

I have decided to improve my coding skills and catch up with some modern trends and tackle one of the most popular javascript frameworks, React. Up to now my front-end coding has been HTML + Jquery which ages me by decades compared to the modern day.

It's been a long time since I learned a new programming langue. I messed around a bit with Python recently but, to be honest, it felt very meh to me. Nothing revolutionary. To be clear, I recognize it as a great language and am not trashing it but I found no real hook for me.

So, in my effort to learn and adopt react as my front-end coding of choice, I have this rough development process in mind:

  1. Tutorial project - Done! This was a very simple task manager tool that showed the basics.
  2. A D&D HUD - This would be a tool I could use for managing combat in D&D as well as something to provide a nice front-end view for players to know who's up in the initiative, and out of combat, an easy way for me to show then stuff and convey bits of info about the world. We'll see how complicated it gets.
  3. Fixture Picker - This was the project that actually caused me to jump into learning React. The way I want to take the tool really leans heavy on Javascript to allow people to personalize stuff. So I'll be using React as part of a full rewrite, making it the V4 of the Fixture Picker.
  4. Glowbug - While I'm not blogging as much as I want to, I think this would be an excellent project to learn React and rebuild my admin functionality in it. The frontend will likely not change for readers, we'll see.
  5. Pick'em - This is a further off project. I just did the major rewrite of my Pick'em site for this past season. I don't intend to do this in the short term, but it is a very likely development in the future. Probably 12-18 months down the line.

I am sure other projects will pop up, given time, but this is my road map of projects which I'll work on to develop my react.js chops. And of course, I'll keep this blog semi-updated with my progress.

8/26/2021 10:36 pm
Tags: programming, coding, javascript, react

It was back in April that I first cracked the rating of 1900, and it's been almost 2 months since I solidified myself at the 1900 rating on lichess. These dates are notable because this afternoon, I finally poked my head across 2000. I had gotten as high as 1998 before then tumbling back down in rating. Yesterday, I ended at 1997. And then this afternoon, I intended to just play one game and then stop to do some chess study. But the first game ended in a stalemate. So I played another. That one I managed a draw from a losing position. The third game was rough, I was losing until I managed to snatch up an opponent's rook. That game put me up to a rating of 2002.

I have no expectations of staying over 2000. It has been a repeated pattern that I break a new rating threshold and then fall back. Which makes sense, ratings are measurements of your accumulated skill and playing ability at the time of your playing. I'll tumble back before continuing to advance, learn, and improve.

This threshold, though, is notable as it has been my goal. When I started chess "seriously" at the start of Covid, I knew I wasn't shooting for an official FIDE title or anything like that. I don't want chess to become my life, which is what would be required for that. I want to be "good" at chess, where good is defined as "better than most people." I picked the 2000 rating as that was roughly the rating needed to be better than 90% of players on the site.

So, here I am, poking me head at that level. I won't stop here, there are some obvious areas where I can improve which will definitely further improve my skill at the table. Right now that list is:

  1. Defensive play - I still opt for very aggressive play. This has been beneficial in the lower levels as newer players struggle to keep solid defense against it. But pure aggression is more and more easily handled by my opponents and I find myself floundering, so this is an area to improve.
  2. Pawns - I don't really utilize my pawns. It is not uncommon for us to get through much of the middle game and I'll have 4+ pawns still in their starting square. This isn't inherently a problem, but often it is clear that I missed an opportunity to develop them and claim space on the board, etc. Or I leave myself flat footed as my opponent launches an attack.
  3. Openings - As of now I default to the Scotch opening when playing white, and the Caro-Kann as black. My abilities with the Scotch are far better than my skills with the Caro-Kann, but in both of these cases I can improve my opening knowledge and repetoire. As well as adding more comfort with different openings, something which will likely be needed as my rating continues to grow.

This list is by no means conclusive, there is lots for me to improve on. But these are the ones I'm thinking of as I look at the next stint of my journey.


7/31/2021 1:27 pm
Tags: chess, goals

3x+1 (youtube.com)


3x+1 is a wonderful thing, I wasn't aware of it this morning but now I'm thinking about it. I'm certainly not going to be the person who solves it, but looking at it I was immediately seeing a relationship to binary.

With the loop end at 4, 2, 1, being powers of two, makes it a natural realization and I am quite certain I'm not the first person to consider it in this way.

The rules of 3x+1 in binary are the same, except dividing by 2 in binary is extremely simple. An even numbers in 0, to divide by 2, you drop the last 0.

So for example, I quickly jotted out the paths of 1-7 in binary:

  1. 1 -> 100 -> 10 -> 1 -> L (the loop)
  2. 10 -> 1 -> L
  3. 11 -> 1010 -> 101 -> 10000 -> 1000 -> 100 -> 10 -> 1 -> L
  4. 100 -> 10 -> 1 -> L
  5. 101 -> 10000 -> ... -> 1 -> L
  6. 110 -> 11 -> 1010 -> 101 -> 10000 -> ... -> 1 -> L
  7. 111 -> 101010 -> 10101 -> 100010 -> 110100 -> 11010 -> 1101 -> 101000 -> 10100 -> 1010 -> 101 -> 10000 -> ... -> 1 -> L

Mostly did this as a mental exercise and to explore the tie I noted with binary, but it is interesting. I am certain I'm not the first person to explore it this way, so I'm retreading well trodden ground, but it is still a nice stretch out of my normal day-to-day thinking.

7/30/2021 9:23 am
Tags: mathematics, binary

From the Archives: The Evil F-Word: Fine (trickjarrett.com)

It’s easier to convince us that what we’re feeling is happiness, simply because we can’t tell the difference. If I’m not in active pain, then I must be happy, right? I must be fine, right?

I originally wrote this post 7 years ago, but it is more applicable today than ever before.

7/20/2021 12:58 pm
Tags: archives, blog, writing, happiness, philosophy, capitalism

Antivaxxers Want You To Believe Vaccines Don’t Work Against the Delta Variant. They’re Wrong. (motherjones.com)

7/4/2021 10:36 am
Tags: covid 19, science, vaccinations

SSH Config Files (linuxize.com)

This morning's Linux learning is the power of the ssh config file. Super exciting and useful.

7/4/2021 10:09 am
Tags: linux, ssh

Today is spent in the final stages of preparation before we host our first party gathering since 2019. Normally we do it twice a year and I am so excited to see a house full of friends again.

7/3/2021 12:09 pm
Tags: life

New Mexico Bans Qualified Immunity For All Government Workers, Including Police (forbes.com)

Thanks to HB 4, New Mexico is now at the forefront of a growing trend to hold government officials accountable. Last June, Colorado became the first state to pass legislation that explicitly bans qualified immunity as a defense. While law enforcement lobbyists warned that Colorado's reform would lead to mass resignations, that hasn’t come to fruition. According to the Denver Post, “at least 1,756 Colorado peace officers left their departments in 2020, which is fewer than the 2,061 separations recorded in 2019 and the 2,050 recorded in 2018.”
7/2/2021 7:43 am
Tags: us politics

Khan leads first public FTC meeting in decades (politico.com)

7/2/2021 7:38 am
Tags: us politics, ftc

Soccer Broadcast Rights in the US

What an absolutely amazing time to be a soccer fan in the US. I just compiled the leagues and competitions which are broadcast by the major networks and this is what the landscape looks like:

ESPN+ / ESPN / ABC

NBC / Peacock

Paramount+ / CBS

FOX Sports

7/2/2021 7:06 am
Tags: soccer, football, television, streaming

End of Junio Report

I decided in May that I would focus in June on learning Spanish. After a little research I settled on two primary tools: Lingvist for vocabulary memorization, and LanguageTransfer for the free lectures on grammar. Having used them for the month, they weren't the perfect tools and I have a better idea of what I need going forward.

In total, I think I spent roughly 25 hours over the course of the month on it. As I noted before there were two primary apps that I used: LanguageTransfer, and Lingvist. Lingvist tells me I've spent nearly 19 hours in it as I completed flashcards. Looking over the lectures in LanguageTransfer and where I am, I think I spent nearly 4 hours with those lectures. And then there were various other smaller things I did to try and learn, or videos I watched, etc.

As I noted a few days ago, one thing I have realized with this challenge is that I lacked a proper way to keep motivated by seeing visible progress. Lingvist gives me some small tools to do this, but they ended up not being enough. Things like the daily calendar that tracks that I did flashcards. LanguageTransfer only has it by seeing the number of my lecture increase. For the latter, I quickly lost steam. At the start of the month I was doing 2 or 3 lectures, and taking long notes as I did translations and tried to absorb it. But by the middle of the month, my drive for them fell off and I kept making excuses of other things I needed to do.

I would repeatedly plan to do the lectures during lunch, but since I had my work laptop open in front of me, I would instead do work (sometimes) or more frequently just watch YouTube or something else.

I did keep up my flashcards, doing on average 2-3 sets of flashcards a day. Lingvist estimates I know 1450 Spanish words but I believe what they are actually saying is they think I know how to translate 1,450 English words into Spanish. Things like adjectives which have a masculine and feminine form count as two, verbs with different conjugations count as multiple for me knowing how to say, "I know" and "You know" and "he knows" and "they know" all count differently.

So, I take that number with a grain of salt.

At the start of the month I took a 50-question Spanish Proficiency Test I found online, knowing I would want a way to quantify my progress. Unfortunately, I did not write down my score when I took it at the start of the month, but I believe it was a 12/50. I just retook the test and am, frankly, embarrassed to say I only got 18/50. It's progress but I honestly expected to have done better. Not that I expected to ace it, but that I thought I'd get somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 questions right.

I did save each page of the test so I can go back and try to figure out the answers and understand what I got wrong.

My Takeaways

  1. I did some things right - I have made progress. I know more words. I understand more of Spanish grammar. But in both cases I don't think the way I did it was the best and if I am going to take on a new language in the future I won't do this same method without additional supplements or changes.
  2. I have to manage expectations, learning a language is a slow process - I had dreams of it being a 30 days and then I'd be much more fluent. I knew I wouldn't be completely fluent doing this. I'm doing it as a side project somewhere that I am not immersed in the language at all. But I still imagined my improvement being bigger and more obvious. So, I will have to keep in mind for future languages to know it is a slow process.
  3. Lingvist wasn't as great as I thought at the start - After a month of using Lingvist I have actually been fairly disappointed. There are a number of things about the app I don't like, so I will probably look to move off of it and figure out a new tool for vocab spaced memorization. My complaints come down to 3 things:

What's Next

So, the 30 day challenge is over, but I am of course not stopping my efforts to learn Spanish. I will continue to do the flashcards, probably not as intensely as I have been. Lingvist recommends doing 4 sets of flashcards a week (vs. the 14+ I was doing each week this month). As mentioned above, I plan to move away from Lingvist, but will still do vocab exercises. I still want to do LanguageTransfer lectures. And I might now look for a formal Spanish tutor to work with once a week or so and try to further it that way, there is a website called italki.com, which connects people with tutors or teachers in various languages.

In addition, I plan to come back in a few months with another focused study period for Spanish, it probably won't be for a full month, but we'll see.


How Donald Rumsfeld Deserves to Be Remembered (theatlantic.com)

But Rumsfeld was the chief advocate of every disaster in the years after September 11. Wherever the United States government contemplated a wrong turn, Rumsfeld was there first with his hard smile—squinting, mocking the cautious, shoving his country deeper into a hole. His fatal judgment was equaled only by his absolute self-assurance. He lacked the courage to doubt himself. He lacked the wisdom to change his mind.

Fuck. That. Guy.

6/30/2021 8:55 pm
Tags: obituary, us politics