I did not know this book existed until I started saying “ish” too many times. A friend got it for me right after. Do I love it? …ish ;D
Despite my worst fears, I had no problem forgetting the previous creations of J.K. Rowling while reading this book. The story is fresh, touching, and is full of details that seem to appear at random but then interlace throughout the book, bursting into violent fireworks at the end. For this reason, the book reminded me of Happenstance, except, perhaps in Casual Vacancy the author gave a little more clues about what was coming. The aftertaste is sadness, melancholy, and wishful thinking that people would learn to care for each other a little more.
Of course, I have to admit SQL injection subplot was completely unexpected. It felt a bit forced as well, because I’d argue that at least the first person need not have known about SQL injection to accomplish what he accomplished.
Perfect Bound by Richard Wehrman
When I read Shambhala Sun
or Tricycle, I wonder
who these people are.
They admit to an occasional
but it’s clear they are enlightened,
or at least able to dwell constantly
in clear and empty space.
Or those Yoga Journal people—
Where everyone is thin, composed
and bends in all directions.
Or Fortune, where
everyone’s a millionaire,
a captain of success.
So where, I ask, is
the magazine for Failure?
For thirty years of falling
and recalling, “Be Here Now”?
For the continual recovering
from the storming—
from the endless repairing of the ship
and broken sails?
For this thick and heavy body
For the immense gratitude
in meeting once again,
next weeks payroll,
next months rent.
It’s hard to review this book without revealing too much details. I don’t think it was mind-blowing per se, but rather very entertaining because of all the stories Gladwell covers.
The main message of the book is that subconscious has a mind of its own that can be better or worse at some tasks than our conscious mind. This is not new knowledge, nonetheless it was nice to see some real-life examples that illustrated that.
One thing I did not like about the book, was that Gladwell kept reiterating things he said in all the previous chapters. I guess he was trying to make it all feel connected, but too me it felt repetitive at times.
Even though I’ve heard her name before, I’ve only really got introduced to this legendary singer through a movie called La Vie En Rose that I saw in 2007. At that time already, I had been interested in French language and culture, and watching the movie made me want to learn more about this singer.
This book, however, is not just about Piaf-the-singer, for that is a well known talent of hers, a talent that no one will ever be able to match. The book is also about all of the other things that made Piaf herself: her mercilessness, her love affairs, her masochism, her generosity, her fantasies, and her kindness.
This is a fantastic read that made me realize many things about Edith Piaf that I had no idea about. Unsurprisingly though, it did not help me understand her more. She was and stays an enigma.
The way the book is made up and some of the language it uses give away that this is a book written a while ago (translated in 1981). I am now interested to see if there is a more recent biography of the Legend.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a wonderful book!
I got a copy when I stayed at Tisarana monastery. The book is a collection of talks by many of the monks associated with Thai Forest Tradition. I struggled to find a common theme for the chapters, nor I think it meant to have one: there were talks tailored more to the monastic community that I found harder to read and understand, but there were also talks for lay people.
I especially liked the last chapter of the book by Ajahn Chandako which unlike other chapters isn’t a dhamma talk, but rather a wonderful story of journey undertook by two monks. Somehow, this story in its simplicity managed to highlight some of the more complex ideas covered in the book.
For a person that doesn’t have much “formal” knowledge about Buddhism, this book was truly a gem.
It’s been a while since I’ve studied French. I’ve taken it for three years at the University of Toronto and it was quite an adventure, both because of the temperament of the professor teaching it and the combination of subjects I was taken at the time (it’s hard to combine CS with humanities, let’s put it this way).
When I was at the last District 86 conference in the Fall, I saw a large poster advertising the launch of French-speaking club in Richmond Hill called “FrancoFun Toastmasters“. After connecting with two co-founders of the club after the conference, I’ve decided to give it a shot and went to one of the planning meetings.
To say that my French is rusty is to say nothing; I felt like a fish that was able to understand perfectly well what was said but had not the ability to think fast enough to reply. Luckily enough, even though meetings will be held exclusively in French, I was deemed to have enough French to be allowed into this exquisite company of people who adore French language and culture. (:
The club launches in March, with me, I hope, delivering my first speech at the first meeting in French for (you’ve guessed it!) the first time. If you are interested in learning more, visit the website of Le Club Toastmasters FrancoFun de Richmond Hill.
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
Time is an abstraction. We create it as a linear thing, something that moves forward. But contemplate that. How long has this week been? Ten days? Someone said that yesterday felt like forty-eight hours. And yet, what’s ten seconds of pain? How long is a shower? How long is a cold shower?
Time then is a measure of desire – desire for continuity, desire for a certain outcome. It paralyzes us into expectation and anticipation or dread and worry. We skip over the present moment and get lost in something we imagine is out there in the virtual reality we call the future. One can spend one’s life thinking about the future – for example, ‘When I get home, I’ll…’ But in the purest sense, there isn’t any future. We are only ever here.
Ajahn Sucitto, “Seeing the Way, Volume 2″
I’ve created a set of Macedonian flash cards. The set closely match the vocabulary of Macedonian: A Course for Beginning and Intermediate Students by Christina E. Kramer and Liljana Mitkovska (3rd edition), but I can’t make a promise that this won’t change in the future. I also can’t guarantee that the words and stresses are completely accurate, even though I tried to capture this information correctly. If you find bugs or typos, please let me know.
Words are not copyrighted, generated PDFs and CSVs are; those are distributed under GPL (the code is located here): just make sure you share and don’t use these commercially. If you are interested to know how these sets were generated, look at the qcards post or look up qcards on GitHub.
There are a few formats available:
- LaTeX – source files for PDFs;
- PDF – a set of two-sided business-card sized flash cards ready for printing (long edge flip);
- CSV – two column files with HTML markup;
- Anki – links to the shared Anki decks ready for use;
I first tried creating language flash cards for my French class many years ago The problem was that the amount of time it took to put the words into some sort of flashcard app was so much, that I could not handle it beyond first few chapters. For my Macedonian class, I’ve once again decided to find a way to produce a set of cards that I can use to study. This time, however, I took a different approach.
I wrote qcards, an app that takes a flat CSV file as input; the configuration file describes how fields of this CSV map to the front / back of the cards using a string mask. For example, it could look something like that:
front_fields = 5,0,2
front_mask = %s<br/>[%s - %s]
Describes that the fields 5, 0, and 2 of CSV input will form the front of the card, mapped to the “%s<br/>[%s - %s]” mask. This is powerful if your language sheet track several attributes for the word (like the type of word, or the set it belongs to. Mapping takes only a few minutes to make and once this is complete, qcards is ready to run.
The actual script, when it runs, renders the cards in two formats: LaTeX, that can be later converted to PDF (the LaTeX template I use generates double-sided business-sized cards) and a two-row CSV file that can be easily imported into something like Anki.
Two things I learnt:
- It turned out that separating data and code helps to cut down on time needed to create quality cards – working with source CSV in Excel is very fast.
- Python’s reflection is powerful. Because I’ve implemented two types of cards, writing something generic to handle either type helps to save on the code. In this case, “generic” was instantiating the card object of each type with the data from the CSV file and options from the config file:
for card_type in card_types:
# Instantiate class dynamically.
class_ = getattr(card_type, card_type.__name__.split(".")[-1])
card = class_(card_options[card_type.__name__], row)