Tag: article

  1. Introducing ideas.psycoti.ca!

    Alright, so, I'm launching a new site, separate from this one. I can be found here!

    The concept is that I have a bunch of ideas, and they float around in my head, and get in my way and stuff. I don't really feel like putting them here, though, because they're mostly just hand-wavey garbage that would just clutter this place up.

    So, I've put them on a new site that's very much like this one!

    If any of them ever comes to fruition, it'll end up here, but over there there can be entire entries that are just a few sentences like "Wouldn't it be cool if..."

    The reason I'm writing them down is so that I can get them out of my head and into fixed form. Then I can reference them, and build on them, while having them all actually exist in front of my eyes. The reason I've decided to make them public is because I've decided I don't really care about keeping them secret. I used to want to keep them close to my chest, so that no one else swings in and steals them, but now I'm thinking that I'm likely not going to get to them anyway, even if they are a good idea.

    This way, at least, they will exist, and if someone else does write them, and they credit me, then I'd be alright with that. I wish them luck. Keeping them secret, but then not doing them, isn't helping anybody.

    So, that's it. The hope is that when something occurs to me, I'll dump it up there into the ever-growing list of stuff.

    Neato gang!

  2. Statistics

    I'm of the opinion that Statistics are one of the things that we as humans have the most trouble with. The problem isn't that it's hard; there are a lot of things that are harder than Statistics. The real problem is that humans seem to have a gut instinct for stats, but that gut instinct is way off more often than not.

    This leads to the tricky situation where a random person will attempt to interpret a statistic, or generate a statistic, and feel like they're probably pretty close. Sometimes someone who even knows that math will second guess it because it just doesn't feel right.

    I'm going to attempt, in this article, to cover a collection of cases where I've seen people often have the wrong idea.

    The Birthday Paradox

    The Birthday Paradox is one of the simplest and easiest examples of how wrong a person's gut instinct can be. It goes something like this: How many people need to be in a group to have a 50% chance that two or more of them share a birthday?

    So, most people, when presented with this go through a thought process like the following: Alright, the typical year has 365 days. A person can be born of any of those days evenly. We want a 50% chance of collision, so I'd guess (365/2) = 182ish. So, I'd guess about 182.

    Not bad reasoning.

    The real answer is 23. I'll explain why that is after covering a little bit of the basics of probability.

    Probability Basics

    3 in 5 means that, if you do the experiment a huge number of times, then about 3/5th of that should be the given outcome.

    That's all. If you do something 5 times and don't get 3 of the given outcome, then that doesn't necessarily mean the probability is wrong.

    If you do something 50 times and never get a success, that still isn't necessarily wrong. It does provide evidence that perhaps it's not the most likely probability, but that's a whole other topic.

    There's actually no way to prove or even demonstrate that a given probability is wrong.

    But, in general, you should assume that in the long run, when you do something 50 times, there should be close to 30 successes, and when you do something 5000 times there should be even closer to 3000 successes.

    Also, if something has a probability of 1 in 1 million, that doesn't mean that it will only happen on the 1 millionth attempt. Something can have a probability of 1 in 1 million and still happen on the first attempt. It can happen on the next attempt too, then not for another 199 999 998 times and be exactly as predicted by the math.

    In this representation of probability it's computed as (the number of times the interesting outcome can occur) / (the total number of outcomes), and since there can't be more interesting outcomes than total outcomes, this number ranges from 0 to 1. 0 means impossible, and "1" means certain, but without rounding, neither of those values actually come up in most cases. Often the best you'll get is 0.000000001, which is very unlikely but not impossible, or 0.999999999 which is very likely but not certain.

    Two things happening together is represented by multiplication, whereas having either one thing happen or another is represented by addition.

    Take, for example, rolls of a fair die: Each side of the die has a 1 in 6 chance. So, the probability of rolling either a 1 or a 2 is (1/6 + 1/6 = 2/6). This makes sense. The probability of rolling a 1, followed by a 2 is (1/6 * 1/6 = 1/36).

    If you want the probability that the opposite of something happens, you just need to subtract it from 1.

    For example, the probability that two dice each come up 1 is (1/36). The probability that doesn't happen is (1 - (1/36) = 35/36).

    Be aware, though, that odds and probability both represent the same thing, but work differently. If something has a 3 in 5 chance, that represents a probability of (3/5). 3 successes for every 5 attempts.

    If, though, something has 3 to 5 odds, that represents 3 successes vs 5 failures. That means there's actually 8 outcomes (3 success + 5 fail), which represents a probability of 3/8.

    A 3 in 5 probability is the same as 3 to 2 odds.

    The Birthday Paradox Revisited

    So, now that we've got the basics of probability, let's see if we can work out why the answer to the birthday paradox is what it is.

    First off, assumptions. I'm assuming that people are born with an equal probability on any day of the year. That's not quite true in practise, there is a clustering in certain areas of the year, but that would make it more likely that people would have the same birthday, not less, so that's acceptable.

    First off, calculating the probability that a group of people all have unique birthdays is easier than computing the probability that they have 1 or more collisions. Luckily, since "having everyone have a different birthday" and "having everyone not have a unique birthday" are opposite outcomes, we can subtract that probability from 1 and get the value we actually want.

    So, the probability of the first person having a unique birthday is (365/365 = 1). That makes sense, since there's only one of them.

    The second person has only 364 days to choose from (since it has to be different from the first), which leaves a probability of (364/365).

    The third person has (363/365).

    So, to compute the probability that three people have unique birthdays we have (365 * 364 * 363) / (365 * 365 * 365), which is 0.99 That's pretty likely.

    The probability that there's one or more of them that share a birthday is (1 - 0.99 = 0.01).

    That probability rises quickly, though, as we add more people.

    Number of People Probability of Sharing a Birthday
    1 0.000
    2 0.003
    3 0.008
    4 0.016
    5 0.027
    6 0.040
    7 0.056
    8 0.074
    9 0.094
    10 0.117
    11 0.141
    12 0.167
    13 0.194
    14 0.223
    15 0.252
    16 0.283
    17 0.315
    18 0.346
    19 0.379
    20 0.411
    21 0.443
    22 0.475
    23 0.507

    So, we can see that by 15 people we've got approximately a 25% chance that there will be a shared birthday, and by 23 people we've reached 50%.

    The Weather

    The weather is probably the place where people clash with probability the most in their day-to-day lives.

    It seems like most people take "70% chance of rain" as "It's going to rain". Anything above 60, really, is considered a "yes", and people become irate when it doesn't rain as predicted.

    Unfortunately, that's not what it means. What it does mean is that there's a 7 in 10 chance that it will rain on that day.

    Even if we ignore what I said in the section on basics, that means that if he predicts 70% chance of rain for 10 days in a month, and 3 of those are sunny, then he was exactly right. In fact, if it rained every day he predicted a 70% chance of rain he'd actually be wrong.

    The same obviously goes for "30% chance of rain", which doesn't mean "It will not rain."

    The Lottery

    In this case I'm going to talk about raffles, because it's easier to reason about things that exactly one person always wins.

    Depending on the perspective you take in the raffle, the outcomes look very different. One on hand if there are one million raffle tickets sold, then each ticket has a one in one million chance of being chosen. That's considered a small probability. But, it's certain that one of them will be the winner, and that winner always had a one in one million chance.

    The person who won likely wasn't expecting to be the one to win, and shouldn't have. Like the weather, when people hear that something has a one in one million chance of happening, they interpret that as "impossible". So, when the "1" comes up, and they get the unlikely result, they see something they thought impossible come to be, and assume something magical helped them out.

    From the system's perspective, though, someone had to win, and each person was equally likely. The fact that 1 person won, and 999 999 people did not doesn't seem weird or magical to it. That's the only way it could have gone.

    It's difficult to reconcile these two views, so I won't try. They're both true, and one just needs to think about things from both sides before jumping to any conclusions.

    Implicit Assumptions

    Let's say you're flipping a coin 4 times. You flip it the first 3 times and get Head, Head, Head. At this point people tend to feel like the next one has to be a Tail, since 4 Heads seems much less likely.

    There is some basis for this feeling. The probability of getting four Heads is (1/16), but the probability of getting a 3 Heads and a Tail is (1/4). That's four times as likely! It would seem, then, like the odds of getting a Tail on the next toss are better than the odds of getting a Head.

    There's a hidden assumption in here, though. We've already got 3 Heads. The reason that 3 Heads and a Tail is four times as likely is because there are 4 equally likely ways that can happen: THHH + HTHH + HHTH + HHHT = (1/16) + (1/16) + (1/16) + (1/16) = 4/16 = 1/4.

    Obviously, though, only one of those are applicable to our current situation. THH, HTH, and HHT didn't happen. We're at HHH. There's only one outcome there, though, that has a Tail in it, and the probability of it is 1/16, same as HHHH.

    Miracles and Coincidences

    You're walking down the street and before crossing the road you notice something on the ground and pick it up. Just then a car flies past and you think "Wow! If I hadn't bent down to collect this thing, I'd have been hit by a car and died" and it's a miracle.

    Let's look at the potential outcomes, though, and their reactions.

    If you're walking down the road and you don't get hit by a car you consider this a normal day. Nothing weird or magical occurred here, and this day is mostly forgettable.

    Let's say you're walking down the road and you get hit by a car and die. In this case no one uses the word miracle, it's an accident. Whatever you did that day is insignificant, and in many cases no one even knows what you did.

    If you're walking down the road and get hit by a car, but are only injured, then this is an awful day. It's also never really called a miracle, but it's possible for you to maybe draw a line from your activities before you were hit and the actual accident.

    If you're walking down the road and you almost get hit by a car, but are narrowly missed, then it's considered a miracle.

    Like the lottery, these are all of the choices. From moment to moment one of these has to be happening, and most of the time you're not getting hit by cars.

    When someone gets hit by a car, though, they tend to feel like something unlikely has occurred, but they often fail to consider every other time they walked down the street and didn't get hit. And that's just them, what about every other pedestrian that day that didn't get hit by cars? Did each of them consider that day to have been a miracle because they managed to walk from one place to another without being killed? Likely not, since that's expected.

    Looking at it as three outcomes: Nothing, Miracle, Accident; where no on considers Nothing, there are only Miracles and Accidents. And, really, Accidents are just miracles that aren't deemed positive.

    The other example that comes up is things like "Wow, I was just thinking of you when you called me! WEIRD!" There are two potential areas here.

    If you're thinking of someone and they call, then it's super coincidental. So much so that perhaps magic was involved.

    If you're not thinking of someone when they call, then it's just a phone call. There are lots of those everyday, the event is not significant, and an hour from now you may not even remember that you took this call at all.

    The real issue is that probability is based on numbers. If there's a 3/5 chance of something happening and you do 5 trials, you expect about 3 successes. If you do 50 trials, you expect about 30.

    In these cases, though, people seem to grossly underestimate the number of trials. Despite potentially answering 100 phone calls in a month, when something happens it can seem like it happens far more often than it does if you only feel like you've taken 3 calls this month.

    Now, like the lottery, I've been mostly speaking about the system here. Let's say that 1 person is hit by a car every 3 days in some area, when you get hit that's not unlikely from the world's perspective. If, though, someone were to ask "Why me?", then that's potentially a valid question. Even if everyone who was hit thought that, the people who weren't hit rarely ask themselves "Why not me?" They just assume it's something that happens to other people.

    If I may, I'd also like to apply this to prayer. Let's say a person becomes ill, and people pray that they will recover. There are now two options: they recover, in which case the prayer is deemed successful; or they don't recover.

    I'm not saying that prayer is ineffective, but as a skeptic on the outside, I see it as a bias. Either the prayer was critical, or it was just their time.

    It's even easier on longer term wishes. If one wishes every day for their entire life that they win the lottery, then any time they don't win is a normal day, and they day they do it's all because they prayed for it every day. The days they prayed to win and didn't just fall away, and aren't significant in the story of their life.


    My intention here isn't to disprove miracles, or claim that people should be happy when it rains during their sunny plans.

    In the end, it comes down to random occurrences, but what actually guides the outcome is up to you to decide. I happen to believe that the outcomes are due to physical processes which have no concept of "Our interests", but one could easily also believe that there is an interested party out there guiding the outcomes.

    I can't prove that there isn't, and for most of what I've said it doesn't matter whether there is or not. I'm more just collecting a few of the things that I've heard people say, or claim, that have seemed, to me, to have been potentially rooted in a misguiding of statistical understanding.

    I'm sorry if I've enraged anyone.

  3. My State

    I feel like maybe writing some of my feelings out will help me work them out. Or something.

    So, on August 27th I stopped working. Months prior to that (Exact Date Unknown) I first mentioned to my boss that my heart wasn't in it any longer and had gone in on that day intending to quit.

    I mentioned to him that I had increasingly felt this at my previous job, and that leaving it was an effort to correct this. I had hoped that the issues were related to the situations the old job placed me in, or the kinds of work I was doing there. I had hoped that the new job, with its breath of fresh air, would shake me up. It did, for a few weeks.

    While everything was still new, things were fine. I was learning the new software stack, and techniques. I was looking around the new codebase and if I felt unsure or slow, it was excusable. It was still unfamiliar. It would pass. It did, but the feelings that replaced it were not confidence in my increasing grasp of the code, or my increasing proficiency with the stack. I was more confident, I was more proficient, but I was not more productive.

    There were days where I'd complete tasks, and they were good. There were also days where I would spend all of my time staring at my screen. There were times I would, while doing nothing, spend my time trying to come up with acceptable things to say should someone ask me what I was working on. I felt awful. I wasn't playing games instead of working. I wasn't reading things instead of working. I was just not working, and feeling guilty about it.

    The balance shifted slowly, but after a few months there were more days off than on. That's when I let him know that I intended to leave.

    We had a talk, he and I, and I was afraid to pull the trigger.

    I liked this job. I liked my co-workers, I liked the environment, I liked -- in theory -- the work I had. Things were easy-going and fun. Most of the work wasn't groundbreaking, but it was sufficient. It should have been fine.

    I felt that, if I weren't in this state, this job would be the one I wanted. I felt that I'd squandered my first impression on a false start. I selfishly wanted to cling on, hoping I'd pull through, because I was unlikely to get a second chance if I let go.

    We talked about some of this, I can't remember now how much, and the question came up whether or not that would be my last day. I decided to try a few more things. They didn't help.

    Months passed, and everyone was over-patient, but the day came when we decided to call it.

    That was August 27th.


    For the past two months I've been mostly sitting around at home. I feel happier, in general, since I'm not costing anyone money. In the first week or so I caught up on some things which had been annoying me for a while and things seemed good.

    They haven't really changed much since then, though.

    There have been a few good days where I've gone out and purchased materials for a few different projects I want to work on. I haven't touched any of them since. I like having them around, but they're not becoming anything.

    I've done very little coding in the time I've had off.

    I had thought that maybe doing a bunch of coding during the day, or being in a coding environment, might have sapped all my recreational coding desires. Apparently that wasn't it, since they're still gone.

    I feel broken.

    An Aversion to Focus

    I've spent some of my time trying to figure out what changed. Trying to figure out why I can't sit down anymore and produce a ton of code, like I used to.

    I've found a prevalent aversion to focus, which is what caused me to stare at my screen all day at work, is still within me. I expect it's an effect rather than a cause, but it concerns me all the same. I've come up with some metaphors in my various imaginary conversations.

    The first way I would describe it is that it feels like pushing two magnets of the same pole together. There's a mushroom shape between them. When they're relatively close it seems like it'd be very easy to push them the rest of the way together, but as soon as they get a little closer the magnets veer apart from one another. I feel the same way about coding. I know what I'm going to do, but when I attempt to execute my mind jumps away quickly.

    The second, and where I got the term aversion from, is a bucket of spiders. Thrilling! Most people, when confronted with a bucket of spiders, would not want to put their hand in it. I think that's safe to say. Now, let's construct a room with a bucket of spiders, a sealed door, and a bomb with a timer. Then, at the bottom of the spider-bucket we place a button that stops the timer and opens the door.

    I feel like most people without a spider phobia would push the button and live. I also feel, though, that the decision wouldn't be immediate. There would be a period of "Ok... ok... here we go. Just got to put my hand in the spider bucket. Alright, bucket of spiders. No big deal. Come on, come on, they're not dangerous! Ok, here we go... rrrRRRAAA, ok, ok, not bad, not bad, this time actually do it. Ok. Spider bucket, Spider bucket, ok." The spiders aren't dangerous, they're just creepy, and most people would have to work their way up to actually putting their hand in the bucket. Again, that's just my guess. Anyway, that's how I feel anytime I consider writing code, or doing laundry, or showering, or sleeping, or cooking, or doing much of anything...

    I like doing laundry; pick up clothes, put in machine, hit go. Not a big deal. But these days it can take me hours of pacing back and forth and a lot of internal shouting at myself to actually pick the clothes up. Sometimes I pick them up and then put them back down and lay facedown on my bed for 15 minutes. It's like procrastinating, except I don't get to do fun things instead. I just get to make repeated attempts to accomplish a simple task.

    It's even worse with coding, where the task isn't necessarily simple. Thought is required, and I need to follow a train of thought and fully flesh out some solution. There are some days, like today, where I can't even read code without my attention being ripped away from me. Sometimes I physically turn my head away from the screen and am like "What the HELL IS WRONG WITH ME! Ok, so, this variable has the value of AAAARRRRR. No! THIS VARIABLE HAS NGRRRRRRRRRRR. VARIABLE! THIS ONE! HAS! BOATS! WHY AM I LAYING FACEDOWN!?"

    That's not really an exaggeration.

    After fighting with that for a while I get mentally exhausted and super frustrated that I can't make it through a simple thought. So, I maybe lay down, or watch a movie, or read a book. Something brainless.

    And then I try again later!

    I would say that it hurts to focus, but it doesn't. I just seem to act as though it does.

    This concerns me.

    I've never been awesome at focusing in general. I've always been a little scatterbrained, but this is different.

    I used to be a little scattered, but then could sit in the basement for 9 hours straight writing some code from beginning to end. I feel like there were still times where I'd be disinterested in solving something, but this is almost constant now.

    Sometimes a bug will come up and I'll jump in and fix it. Then I'll go back to pacing around uselessly.


    I'm not sure. Maybe that's it. Maybe coding was a phase, and I'm done it now. It was interesting enough to keep me, but no longer.

    Maybe I'll recover.

    I honestly don't know.

  4. Moved To Redo-Blog2

    Ok, the wait is over!

    I've finally "finished" work on redo-blog2, which became the successor of GitSite.

    I originally wrote GitSite because I liked the concept of some set of static files where metadata was stored on the FileSystem and in Git. When I published it, I was happy with where I'd gotten. There were things I wanted it to do that I hadn't gotten around to, but that was alright. At first.

    Very quickly I started wanting to do things with it that it wasn't built around. Things like having articles and other things together, without everything being an article.

    But I did nothing. Rather than fix the issues I just held off publishing anything.

    One of the other issues with GitSite was that it was a big script that ran from top to bottom. It wasn't super easy to handle. Also, it built everything all the time.

    Around this time I also saw redo, which is a build system (like Make) that is based off shell scripts. It's less like Make, and more like a collection of tools you can string together to make your own build systems. Kind of.

    Anyway, I'd been looking for something to play around with redo on, and I had a site built out of files that I wanted a more modular and efficient build system for. Bam!

    So I thought about it for a bit and then did nothing. Stephen eventually wrote some scripts and emailed me a tarball of them called redo-blog based on things I'd said I'd wanted but never done. I liked it some, but it wasn't quite what I wanted.

    The biggest breakthrough in redo-blog, which solved an issue I was blocked by on the imaginary thing in my head, was storing intermediate data in YAML. It allowed redo to build from one file to another while keeping a bunch of metadata around also.

    So, then a long time passed where I moped around not publishing things.

    Finally I sat down, interested again, and wrote the beginnings of redo-blog2. I built it from the ground up to satisfy some of the issues I'd had with GitSite. Namely, the base organizational structure in redo-blog2 is "tags" Without tags, they don't get deployed or built. Articles can have "article" tags, stories can have "story" tags, in then I end up with "/article/blah.html" and "/story/blee.html". I was happy.

    Then I did nothing for a while. Yesterday I finally got around to actually finishing up the final needs I had for the system and moving this site over to it.

    Redo-Blog2: A description

    Ok, so.

    First, one needs redo. Or at the very least minimal/do from that repo. Minimal/do is a script that builds everything every time, so it's not super efficient to dev with, but it does work the same as a more full redo system.

    Next, all my pages are in files like blah.mime. This is because they are in a pseudo-mime-format. Here's an example:

    Title: First Article
    Content-Type: text/plain
    Tag: article
    Tag: test
    This is the body of the article here.
    Isn't it exciting that I can put text here?

    So, the first part of the file is Headers. These can be arbitrary data, but obviously if a script later doesn't use them, they go away.

    Then there's a blank line. Everything else is the page contents.

    The data path for redo-blog2 goes as follows:

    1. First, blah.mime becomes blah.augmented. This involves adding auto-generated Headers to the file to augment the manual ones the author wrote. In my case, this is where Git is probed for info about the file.
    2. blah.augmented then uses a typeconvert script to turn the body from whatever Content-Type was specified into html. If no type is given it assumes text/plain. This is then recombined with the headers into blah.converted
    3. This is then run through a tagtemplate for every tag it is a member of to generate a different html file of the form blah.tag.html The reason for this is that one can have a different output structure for the "story" tag, or the "video" tag or whatever. If one doesn't have a special tagtemplate it will make one automatically out of the default.
    4. Finally, the deploy step moves blah.tag.html into tag/blah.html

    There's a lot of other stuff it does around this, but that's the main concept.

    Using It

    For the author, adding a new article involves making a new mime file and then running "redo deploy". It will only rebuild what it has to (or maybe slightly more) and then move it into place.

    The main places where someone setting this up has to touch is default.tagtemplate.do, default.tagindex.do, and default.tagfeed.do.

    Into default.tagfeed.do one mostly just has to change the data like "Author Name", Email address, Website, etc.

    default.tagindex.do is the file that constructs the files that go into tag/index.html and includes a listing of all items with that tag. You must therefore change that file to include the structure you want.

    default.tagtemplate.do is slightly more gross. It creates the files that create the blah.tag.html files. Other than that, though, you just have to change the markup in it to be the one you want.

    It's feasible that the only changes you'd need to make are removing my data. The markup is (I think) pretty standard and most of what I do comes with styling.


    So, so far, I'm quite happy with this system. I don't yet know of things that will keep me from using it.

    I'm sure they're out there, but I haven't come across them yet, and that's pretty good.

    The biggest issue, in general, is that redo-blog2 isn't a script, like GitSite was. It's more a concept, or idea.

    The scripts in http://github.com/psycotica0/redo-blog2 are what I based the scripts in http://github.com/psycotica0/Site off, but in the end they are disjoint. They're related in concept, but there's no connection between them.

    So, if you want to adapt it to work with your site, you can start with either this site, or the redo-blog2 repo, but it's likely there won't be a lot of cross pollination.

    I'm alright with that for now.

  5. First Shave

    Two days ago I received, in the mail, a straight razor and equipment (Strop, Soap, Brush, etc.).

    I've been busy, but excited, for these two days, and today I finally got to try it out.

    These are my thoughts, hopefully while they're still fresh in my head.


    So, first, it wasn't perfect. I wasn't expecting it to be, but I thought I'd just make it clear from the outset that this is not a victory tale.

    That being said, it wasn't terrible. I'm alive, thus it could have gone far worse.

    I didn't cut myself a huge number of times.

    I didn't sever any major arteries.

    I still have a face.

    Net win.

    But, I did have issues, and for the most part, they weren't what I expected them to be.

    Where's the Soap?

    What I believe the largest issue I had was related to the soap. Having watched videos and read articles while I was procrastinating I thought I had a pretty good knowledge of how to shave with this dangerous weapon.

    I think, barring what comes up later, I was right. There are definitely things to improve on, but the basics were there.

    The soap, I was totally unprepared for.

    I thought I was prepared, but everything I knew was apparently wrong. Wrong or at least not enough.

    I soaked the brush for a long time, and shook it out. So far so good. I swirled it around the soap, and it got kind of foamy. "Sweet!", I thought.

    I then started painting the stuff onto my face. At this point I was thinking: "Wow, in the videos the lather looked really thick, almost like paint. I guess, though, under the right lighting and a bad camera this could look like that too..." I've realized now that I should stop thinking things like that.

    So, I went and attempted to strop the blade while the "lather" sat on my face because I'd heard that was a good idea.

    When I came back to the mirror I discovered that I could see my face. "Huh.", I said.

    Not only had all the soap disappeared, but it had left my skin feeling tacky, which is, I think, the opposite effect than is intended.

    So, I threw a little more soap on and decided to take my first swings.

    They went okay.

    By the time I'd made it halfway down the first cheek, though, all my soap was gone and my face was sticky again. "Maybe that happens, and I'm just slow", I thought. I should stop thinking these things too.

    At this point I seemed to be kind of dry shaving instead of wet shaving. In fact, it was worse because I was dry shaving in a way where my skin was even less slippery than usual.

    This continued for most of the shave.

    I decided at this point that this wasn't just what happens, but that I was doing it wrong. I don't really know why I didn't decide to figure out how to do it right, but I should have.

    Toward the end I got something even more like real lather and I was like "Oh yeah! Now we're cookin'!", but then I turned my back on it for a second and it was gone. I may have compared it to Jonathan, which is an inside joke.

    There were times where I was in a particularly crappy area, like my chin, and I was basically just rubbing metal against my chin. I would, in these cases, just grab suds off the top of my soap with my fingers and slap them onto my face to give any lubrication at all. These were bad times.

    So, in general, I think that's what I did worst. I've glanced over an article now that I plan to read more carefully later about how I'm actually supposed to do it. There's a lot of "Oh... that's what that means..."

    How do I get this there?

    So, this object is basically a straight piece of metal. I was surprised at how unintuitive it can sometimes be to get it into an orientation where one can (A) have fine enough control with the blade to not die, (B) be able to move the blade from one place to another maintaining said control, and (C) see what you're doing.

    There were many a time where it's like "Well, um, okay, I can't put my hand like that because then I have it on my skin, but can't move this direction without twisting my wrist the wrong way. Maybe I'll.... no... no I can't do that, I'm just basically hanging the blade against my skin, maybe if I switch hands here I'll... no, I don't trust this hand yet.... Oh here it is." Then I look into the mirror and all I can see are wrists and forearms. Then I try to work something out.

    This is something that wasn't a deal breaker, and I'm sure that as I learn my face this'll become second nature. It was, though, something that I spent a lot of time doing. I hadn't even considered that I might not be able to find the right way to drag a bit of metal over my skin.

    Where is my face?

    On a related note, I noticed quite a few issues with vision in the single straight small mirror.

    When shaving under my cheek, for example, in order to even get it into view I had to face the top corner of the room, then look all the way down my face to the mirror.

    Again, I should have anticipated this, but I hadn't.

    Towards the end my eyes started to hurt from all the weird directions they'd been looking for the past hour.

    The Chin

    I may be mistaken, but I feel like most men would agree with me. Chins suck to shave. Maybe it's just me.

    The solution is probably "Grow hair on your chin.", but screw that.

    So, I don't think that shaving my chin was any harder with the straight razor than with a crappy other razor, but it hasn't yet been far more effective either. I hope that this situation will improve as I do.

    The worst wound I encountered happened to be under the edge of my chin. It was a stupid mistake, and thinking back on it I don't even know how it happened.

    I think it may have been just a slip-up related to looking into the mirror.

    The other few nicks I had I encountered while shaving, and I immediately knew. Something about the glide would stick for a second and I'd know that this was a tiny cut. Not a big deal.

    There was a point where I was setting up a stroke on my chin and I misjudged distance a little, I guess. Either way, I mostly just hit myself in the chin with a very tiny, very sharp, axe.

    It didn't hurt, and I don't know how deep it was, but I immediately knew what I'd done. "Oh damn..." may have been my response.

    I immediately put down the razor and grabbed my Styptic Pencil and started going to town on a steadily reddening slit. In the end it wasn't a huge deal. There wasn't a ton of blood. It probably wasn't bad at all. Which I was glad about.

    It was still a little rush of adrenaline, and that's always fun.

    So at this point I stopped shaving my chin. In fact, I may have stopped shaving altogether here.

    As a result my face is alright when it comes to typical shaves of mine in the past. I only shaved with the grain, and maybe across the grain in some areas.

    I decided to leave the against the grain shave for a day when I was more confident and had better soaping skills.

    My chin still has hair on it, though. Enough that I can feel it. This is something that displeases me. I look forward to the day when I'm skilled enough to finally get rid of the rough menace.


    My stropping probably sucked. Couldn't really tell. It'll probably get better.

    One thing I did realize is that I'm a spoiled tool who takes showers all the time, and has little-to-no practise washing my face when water isn't pouring down onto it. There was a large period of time where I basically stood there with my face over the sink slapping myself with wet hands. I found it embarrassing, and I was the only one there.

    By the end I was better at it than I had been at the beginning, but still not good.

    I think I got more water on my floor than on my face. I would scoop up water to try to put it on my face but it would just run out and down my arms like an idiot.

    Even after I was done I realized the skin along my jaw was still soapish. "How the hell do I get water there?", I said more than once in my increasing frustration.

    Eventually I had to take toilet paper and make it damp and rub that on my face, which cleaned off the soap but left little bits of wet paper on my face.

    That knocked my esteem down a few pegs.

    So... you know... work in progress on that front.

    Also, there was a period after the shave, and it's still not completely over, where my face felt weird. It was as though I had a ton less skin than I should. I couldn't really make facial expressions or open my mouth a lot.

    I've since decided that the problem is that my skin is really dry after all the soap and friction (more than there should have been) and failed attempts at washing.

    So, I'm thinking maybe I should have sprung for some of that moisturizing after-shave after all.


    So, it went pretty well, all things considered.

    On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is "spent time in the emergency room" and 10 is "I touched this blade to my skin and all the hair, in fear of what was to come, jumped up and ran away. Then, gold poured from the sky.", I'd give this about a 5. My electric razor is fast and safe enough that I use it every morning for day-to-day maintenance, so it'll be about a 4. I've never owned a "good" bladed razor (until now), but I've gotten around 7 with a crappy disposable razor with mild frequency. Maybe 8 on some really good days.

    I'm hoping that, given time and practise, I'll be able to get an 8 consistently, maybe even a 9 on good days, with this new blade.

    10 seems slightly less likely, but one can hope.

  6. First Actual Post

    Ok, so, I'm calling this a win.

    I've got my new site engine up and running. I've called it GitSite for now, and it's currently located in my Git Area.

    It's called GitSite because the site it generates from is a git repo. This site, for example, is here.

    I still have a lot to do with this thing. I've got more data to add to the template, a couple changes to make to the theme, a couple features to add to the engine, but it's at this point workable.

    At this point I'm going to talk a bit about GitSite.

    GitSite, a description

    So, the basic idea here was to make a site engine for publish articles (Notice how I'm avoiding the term 'blog'?) that was based off static files and git.

    So, all of the pages that are being served here are static. All of the html, conversion, templating, etc was all done on the server prior to it being available. By the time it's accessible, it's a collection of files with a lot of duplication.

    I like that.

    Also, it's all Git, and, for now at least, public. Not for updates, but if you wanted to download the entire source of my site you'd just need to do:

    git clone git://psycoti.ca/Site

    Isn't that sick?

    I think that's sick.

    I will now go through the what one can expect to find in a GitSite source repo.


    This is pretty simple.

    There's a directory called 'articles'.

    Each file in this directory is a single article.

    The name of the file is the title of the article.

    The contents of the file are the contents of the article, potentially in some kind of markup.

    That's about it.


    Also pretty simple. We've got a number of files with very specific titles in here.

    Each one is expected to be an executable script, and the data is passed to it as alternating keys and values on the command line.

    So, for example, to call the 'bork' template with content of 'blah' and title of 'dribble' it would attempt to execute

    ./templates/bork Content 'blah' Title 'dribble'

    Pretty simple.

    Currently the following templates exist: (Note: This is very likely going to change very rapidly, but this is just to give an idea)

    • article - This gets called with a Content of the output of the markup engine for each article. It sets up the html for just the article portion of the page.
    • site - This gets called for every html page. It is the basic template for everything surrounding content on the site.
    • index - This is used to generate the index page's content. The content here is the excerpts from the most recent article, already computed.
    • index-article - This is called on the article excerpts meant to go on the index page.
    • atom-entry - This gets called for the top few articles to wrap it in whatever markup is desired for the atom-entry.
    • atom-feed - This is called on the concatenated output of all the atom-entrys and wraps up the rest of the feed.

    So, that's that, for now.

    Like I said, I have a couple more I'm planning to add, or break up, or make optional, as I add more functionality or make it nicer for others.

    That's the basis of the templates though.


    There are a couple of things, that I'm going to call options, in the engine.

    These are things like which markup engine to use, or how urls should be encoded.

    Currently this is also done with executable scripts in the directory.

    In this case they act like filters, with the thing they're supposed to act upon as stdin and the result as stdout.

    Other than that, the script doesn't care how they work to come up with their answers. The markup engine could be sed, or PHP, or Markdown, or NME (Which I'm currently using), or cat (Verbatim).

    Wrap Up

    So, that's pretty much it.

    I've got this thing now, and I like it.

    Assumedly it's going to get better.

    I'll probably keep you posted as I go.

  7. Some Other Header?

    So, basically right now I'm trying to come up with a theme of sorts. It is intended to be very minimal and liney.

    So far it looks like I've done a fairly good job of that.

    Truth be told I'm quite surprised at how it turned out. Typically I'll see something in my head or whatever but am incapable of moving it to the outside world. In this case, though it worked pretty well. I like it.

  8. My Web Presence

    This is psycoti.ca/0/

    Currently very little is happening here, but I have it now, so things should start happening soon.

    Exciting, no?