Read the latest posts from Wordsmith.

from carbontwelve

This is day fourteen of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

I recently had a discussion with my father around the whole privacy vs “I have nothing to hide,” discussion going on at the moment and he gave me an interesting insight.

Forty years ago the notion that your government would intercept, open and read every item of mail posted to every home in the country would have had the general public and the media up in arms, condemning in unison the very obvious government over-reach and the dangers it presents.

Yet here we are today with government schemes such as the international Five Eyes signals intelligence alliance making automated un-targeted intrusions en-mass that are essentially identical in nature to having every item of post opened, read and documented; and the general public seem ambivalent at best and complacent at worst.



from carbontwelve

This is day thirteen of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

Yesterday I wrote about What sparks joy? and a while before that is it a van life for me?; both posts share the theme of minimalist living and divulge a deep yearning for a much simpler life.

I think that to some degree we all share a common want for simpler, less cluttered living free from the many constant pressures of modern life while also benefiting from the positive aspects that modern life can bring. While that does sound a little like having your cake and eating it too its easily achievable within the framework of tiny homes and the tiny living movement.

Tiny homes (100 to 400sqft) have the potential to be less cluttered and due to their relative cheapness in comparison to a traditional home they also come with far less financial pressure often being cheap enough to be paid off in less than ten years.

My dream is to obtain a few acres of land where I can build a tiny home, I know it wont be easy, it will take a long time



from carbontwelve

This is day twelve of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

For a couple of weeks now I have sat through that Tidying Up program on Netflix with Marie Kondo; it began as a way of spending more quality time with my Wife but the program has a strange charm about it that has meant I have gone out of my way to watch more.

It has made us both look at our own home and ask ourselves why we have so many things gathering dust that we either do not need or do not know that we have in the first place!

Aside from being a catalyst to reducing our ownership of things, the phrase “sparks joy” goes beyond being a method of deciding if you should keep one inanimate object over another and – in my mind at least – puts you in the mindset of discovering what makes you happy.

For me that is thoughts of my Wife and my Daughter and our Daughter to come. They all spark immense joy. When I think about the possessions I own a good 99% do not spark joy, in actual fact I could throw away the majority of what I own and still be happy, maybe more so.

Coming to this conclusion has taught me that I would be happy to live in a tiny home, not only would it restrict the space for possessions to exist but it would actively force me to question their existence in the first place and instead focus more on what does in fact bring me joy.

What sparks joy for you?



from carbontwelve

This is day eleven of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

Yesterday I came across this weird error while running one of the unit tests I was working on:

PDOException: SQLSTATE[42000]: Syntax error or access violation: 1305 SAVEPOINT trans2 does not exist

It may not look like much but in search of a resolution I ended up taking a deep dive down a rabbit hole of red-herrings and incorrect assumptions.

Having spent a good few hours thinking it was something in my code that was breaking and finding nothing at fault I quickly realised that the tests that were returning the error all had something in common. I was running them individually, if I ran the tests in a batch or all of them then the error didn't show.

It was at that point that I began kicking myself, the problem wasn't caused by anything I had written but instead by my IDE of choice: PHPStorm.

Looking at the console output from running the tests as a batch or all of them I could see that PHPStorm was generating the command correctly with --configuration set. However if I ran an individual file or method it would generate the PHPUnit command with --no-configuration. It was the latter that caused the tests to break.

My issue was caused due to my not setting a default configuration file to be used by the test runner, once set PHPStorm began generating the correct command and my tests began working as expected.

Six hours wasted, all because I didn't know to set an obscure configuration property in a config sub-pane popup of a config sub-pane popup.

Welcome to programming.



from carbontwelve

This is day ten of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

At the beginning of this project I had an vision of celebrating certain milestones, ten posts, twenty five posts, fifty, one hundred and so on. However having reached ten posts during a two day streak after a hiatus of thirty days it feels a little anticlimactic and honestly not worth celebrating beyond simply being a milestone achieved.

I get a similar vibe from the over-hyped commercial holiday St. Valentines Day. It feels as though many people validate their happiness in the days leading up to and for a number of days after through the materialistic medium of valentines messages. Not that one can blame them, it is a nice feeling to feel loved but I honestly find it upsetting to see good people in distress because they don't have a sweetheart and are therefore in their minds at least unwanted.

Before meeting my wife Valentines was just another date in the calendar, one that I had rarely noticed beyond the increase in chocolate, tacky toys and card marketing when I get groceries. Because of my past ambivalence the idea of buying a card or present felt weird, but I went along with it because I was dating and it's the thing you do and since then we “celebrated” every year with a card, sometimes combined with a meal out.

This year we have both decided not to bother, as a boycott on the commercialisation and waste. The idea of buying a card with all the waste that goes into making it for the purpose of saying something that is otherwise said every day in both words and actions feels wrong.

Valentines day shouldn't be a day where you base your happiness on how desirable you are, it should instead be a day to be extra nice to everyone — if that is you notice it at all.



from Instance Updates

I am happy to announce that I upgraded our install of WriteFreely from 0.6 through to 0.8.1 last night with it resulting in so little downtime that it didn't register on our status page with its one minute resolution.

This update brings with it a number of incremental small improvements:

  • Use an en dash in the title of posts that are written in German, instead of em dash
  • Blog names starting with a number now have an ActivityPub avatar
  • Fix spacing in sub-lists
  • Optimise web font loading
  • Fix same-page anchor links

In future all announcements of maintenance downtime will be handled in advance via this channel and rebroadcast via @carbontwelve on the Fediverse.


from Storia minuta

La poesia del beà.

Il tramonto ci invitava verso casa. La nonna raggruppava parte del raccolto e quello che non stava sulla carriola del nonno finiva in due canestri. Erano i regali quotidiani del Prau [nel territorio di Camporosso (IM)]. Un fascio profumato di erbe e scarti di verdure dell’orto, che finiva in un telo. Fatto con due sacchi cuciti insieme con quattro lacci ai lati, si chiamava “lensurun”, un lenzuolo povero e disprezzato. Conteneva la cena per conigli e galline.

Poi la nonna, con un fazzoletto dai colori di un prato sbiadito, fazzoletto che girava attorno alle mani, costruiva un piccolo cerchio, simile ad un nido che finiva sulla sua testa. Serviva da ammortizzatore al peso di quello che sembrava un grande ombrello rovesciato. Quando era ben posizionato sul suo capo, il nonno caricava il “lensurun.” La nonna con i due canestri, uno per mano per l’equilibrio, sembrava un‘acrobata. Il percorso non era facile: occorreva superare il bedale rialzato. Ad un lato del sentiero scendeva veloce alle fasce sottostanti un’acqua trasparente. Le gambe strofinavano, salendo, menta acquatica e nepeta, che esalavano i profumi della fine del giorno. A noi nulla davano da portare, sapendo che avremmo perduto il carico per strada, mentre raccoglievamo piccoli maggiolini verde-blu. Insetti dal colore delle opali, piccoli gioielli. Povera nonna carica come un somaro, che giunta a casa doveva ancora lavare, tagliare, cuocere la fatica dell’orto! Quanti soli di tarassaco, violette, selene, abbiamo reciso, noi bambine per farle naufragare nel nostro mare. Un rigagnolo nel verde, percorso dall’acqua a giorni prestabiliti. Quanti concerti con improvvisati flauti di germogli di canne riempivano i pomeriggi!

La nostra merenda vicino ad una baracca di canne era un banchetto. Per il nonno e per noi aveva il sapore di una liturgia. Mentre l’acqua scivolava nei solchi e abbeverava tutte le verdure si poteva fare una sosta. Sempre con un occhio vigile all’acqua che facesse il giro giusto. Non dimenticando nessuno degli assetati. Estraeva il suo coltellino a scatto, quello per fare gli innesti con la punta curva. Lo puliva sulle braghe di fustagno e tagliava i pomodori da mettere sul pane. Una fiaschetta di olio, il sale estratto da un fazzoletto, che aveva visto tempi migliori, e poi l’operazione magica che riduceva il cetriolo in quattro perfette strisce, lasciando i semi intatti. Ne ricordo il colore, il gusto ed il rumore sotto i denti. Continuo a tagliare ancora il cetriolo in quattro per vedere luccicare i semi, per ricordare quei momenti magici.

Questi i ricordi di noi bambine, quando in estate, libere dalla scuola, seguivamo i nonni nel loro grande orto. Percorrevamo una strada dai bordi fioriti, che seguiva prati a fieno e campagne curate come le stanze di casa. Tutto serviva alla sopravvivenza. Libere di correre e giocare, ma guai a rovinare i canaletti o “surchi“, strade che il nonno tracciava all’acqua: le piante dovevano bere tutte! Quella terra non lontana dal torrente era di consistenza sabbiosa. Un passo falso e quello sbarramento disegnato con cura dal nonno crollava. Seguivano le terribili minacce di cacciata dall’eden.

di Gridellino


from Instance Updates

I am currently aiming for four nines up-time (99.99%) per month. That allows for approximately five minutes downtime each month and should be easily achievable on my setup.

In order to track up time and display historical reportage on planned and not-so-planned outages. We now have a status page provided by Nixstats.

It currently shows monitoring from Paris, France. However I will be adding additional monitoring locations soon.


from the elegant rubble

surprised a friend of mine by telling them of the upcoming Hiddleston-y Loki Marvel streaming show.

Well. Not just a friend. My girlfriend. Partner. Somewhere in there. Close Associate of the Heart? Does that invoke visions of shoulder pads to anyone else? Or is that just me?


This is why she hasn't made many appearances in my (admittedly sporadic) journaling. Sometimes, heart so full that can't word good about certain things in my writing.

A different type of darling to protect. And cherish.


Not just Loki. Scarlet Witch too, with the lost Tanner daughter and everything.

Cool, right?

Current Mood: smitten Current Music: Ashes to Ashes – David Bowie

#babble #thepickleinthesoup


from d-1

The Whale Cut-up

Growing grim about the mouth; whenever the circulation. Whenever the circulation. Whenever I find myself it is a damp, drizzly November is a way I have of time to get to sea as driving off the spleen and regulating but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or nothing particular to interest me on whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it soon as I can. As I can. This is hats off—then, I account it high Call me Ishmael. Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never in my soul; whenever I find other, cherish very nearly the same requires a strong moral principle to the street, and methodically knocking people’s shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the no money in my purse, and and bringing up the rear of mind how long precisely—having little or myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, With a philosophical flourish Cato throws my substitute for pistol and ball. Pistol and ball. Every funeral I meet; and especially prevent me from deliberately stepping into watery part of the world. Of the world. It nothing surprising in this. Surprising in this. If they himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. To the ship. There is.

_________________ Tool and text used: http://www.lazaruscorporation.co.uk/cutup/text-mixing-desk https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/2701-0.txt


from d-1

Master of None; or, A Fool and His Money

All of his energy goes into working a job for a regular paycheck. It's nice to have things (food, shelter, transportation, stuff), but the older he gets, the harder it is to maintain the hobbies and passions that offer some meaning to the existence — the things that stoke the creative, enlivening fire.

He often wonders if he made a mistake going to school for fine arts and letters. Perhaps it would have been best to use that time to become a businessman of some type. Doubtful, though, that decision would have been any better: no, he probably would have killed himself. Thing is, he never really wanted anything to do with making money, even though it is necessary to live the life modern. Or whatever. He never wanted to live in a cave in the middle of nowhere, either.

Over time, he's become obsessed with The Paycheck™. Soon as he gets it, he spends it on bills, gas, groceries, the occasional book or odd amusement. This time, he bought an incense burner for his car. Drunken online shopping seldom brings lasting happiness; but now, at least, he has an incense burner for his car.

Like every other life decision he's made thus far: it made sense at the time.


from bsmall2

It was a surprise to find myself thinking of Goemon Ishikawa while reading Simone Weil's Iliad or The Poem of Force:

The bitterness of such a spectacle is offered us absolutely undiluted. No comforting fiction intervenes; no consoling prospect of immortality; and on the hero's head no washed out halo of patriotism descends.

His soul, fleeing his limbs, passed to Hades, 
Mourning its fate, forsaking its youth and its vigour. 

Still more poignant – so painful is the contrast – is the sudden evocation, as quickly rubbed out, of another world: the faraway, precarious, touching world of peace, of the family, the world in which each man counts more than anything else to those about him.

 She ordered her bright-haired maids in the palace
 To place on the fire a large tripod, preparing
 A hot bath for Hector, returning from battle.
 Foolish woman ! Already he lay, far from hot baths,
 Slain by grey-eyed Athena, who guided Achilles' arm.

Far from hot baths he was indeed, poor man. And not he alone. Nearly all the Iliad takes place far from hot baths. Nearly all of human life, then and now, takes place far from hot baths. — Simone Weil

In Japan, while Nobunaga Oda and Hideyoshi Toyotomi were in force, death and affliction also took place in hot baths.

A large iron kettle-shaped bathtub is now called a goemonburo (“Goemon bath”). — (fn:1)

Execution of Ishikawa Goemon

Sometimes these old baths, big iron cauldrons are left around old houses. People use them to collect trash and make the cauldrons even harder to dispose of. A historic home in the neighborhood has an intact Goemon bath.

OguraTei Bath, Mimata, Miyazaki

Nice older ladies visiting Toroku explained the name's origin. At first I thought they said “HoeMon.” Since “Hoeru”吠える is to howl it made sense that a cauldron bath used to boil a person to death would be named after his howling. Eventually someone told me I was saying the name wrong and let me discover Goemon Ishikawa. Which of these stories comes closest to what happened, or maybe they all happened but are a combination of what happened to a few different people…

He was sentenced to death by being boiled alive in an iron cauldron along with his very young son, but was able to save his son by holding him above his head. His son was then forgiven.

He was executed on October 8 along with his whole family by being boiled alive.

Goemon at first tried to save his son from the heat by holding him high above, but then suddenly plunged him deep into the bottom of the cauldron to kill him as quickly as possible. Then he stood with the body of the boy held high in the air in defiance of his enemies, until he eventually succumbed to pain and injuries and sank into the pot. — (fn:1)

But usually, Japanese baths are great places to ponder human life and all the life we depend from. Energy and water are saved as people wash and rinse by the side of the bath, keeping the hot water clean for whoever comes in later. After a couple people share the heat from one bath, the washer machine can suck the water up to clean clothes.

Modern Bath in Japan

A lot of the gas and electric heat baths are automated now. But some people still heat Goemon baths with chopped wood. Chopping wood is great exercise, a relatively harmless use of the ax.

#SimoneWeil #Iliad #Goemon #Japan #Bath


from bsmall2

A new (to me) type of wildflower, a green bug on curly mustard leaf, and a little spider in the sun.

A First Notice

New Wild Flower in February

Green Insect on Curly Mustard

Green Bug on Brassica Leaf

Spider in the Sun

Little Spider in the Sun


Trying the experimental ui on PixelFed let me set the order of pictures in a post. Until now it was a matter of luck to get the best picture as starting picture in a post. I like to give more than one view of what I photograph. This urge I got from reading John Berger's Understanding a Photograph. Which essay influenced me to offer more than one view of any one thing, I don't remember but it is a good book.

#wildflower #insect #spider #PixelFed


from the elegant rubble

Just submitted my last work for my soon-to-be-former-part-time coding gig.

(Actually I guess it's not 'soon-to-be'; it's.... 'now'.)

It struck me that my new job, while in the tech sector, isn't a coding position. It's technical, it requires coding knowledge, but I won't actually be shipping code.

And I find that very... exciting. Because now, for the first time since I was a kid, coding can be something I do entirely for fun. The whole reason I decided to get into professional coding in the first place was because I remembered how much I loved teaching myself HTML and CSS so I could dink around on <old>geocities and myspace</old>.

And now I actually know what I'm doing (HA. Well. You know what I mean.) I wonder what sort of Professional Caliber Dinking I'll get into!

Current Mood: excited Current Music: Yonder Mountain String Baaaaand



from the elegant rubble

So. I got the job.

In my last post I mentioned getting a second interview. Then I got a third interview. Then I started to question how dedicated they were to filling this position “as soon as possible” since they had been stringing this process out since before Christmas. Then they offered me the job, and I cleared them of all wrong-doing and now recognize their good taste and sound judgement.

I start next week.

I am beyond excited. I've been under-employed about two-and-a-half years. I finished coding school in Summer 2016, and watched classmate after classmate slide right into actual, grown-up jobs. We all did the same things, applied the same places, had the same skills (roughly). Worked on resumes together. And yet the herd thundered on ahead, while I was left behind.

I picked up part-time freelance work. It was nice to have a marketable skill. The theatre degree I have tucked away in a drawer somewhere wasn't paying the bills. I know I am extremely fortunate to be able to scrape by at all. But I am not good at marketing myself. Looking for freelance work is a full-time job unto itself, let alone actually doing the work. And I found job hunting to be very, very dehumanizing.

It probably was not a coincidence that Fall 2016 blew the doors of my mental health, and I slipped into what I “lovingly” refer to as Depression Year. Being depressed made looking for a job even more taxing, and not having a job made the depression.... etc. etc.

I climbed out of Depression Year in Fall 2017. I had lost ground. My skills were rusty. My network was in tatters. My professional life (and, er, my personal one, too) was a duct tape jalopy. I couldn't look for a job in that state, right? I had to, of course, Fix Everything. I'd look for a job when I was Ready. All I had to do was get Ready. I'd know when I was Ready... right?


(Speaking of, I am currently waiting to be notified when I am Ready to start writing prose, composing poetry, making a zine, and learning how 401ks work. Any time now. Aaaaaaaany time now.)

I did work, haphazardly over that next year, at preparing myself for another job hunt. I learned new frameworks. I dove enthusiastically into the freelance work I had. I polished my resume. And polished, and polished, and polished. (Still looked the same tho.) I even took a copy-editing gig, to see how I liked it, and how it felt to drift away from the industry I hadn't yet broken in to. (I actually ended up really digging editing, and had this new tech-industry job not worked out, very well might have leaned more heavily into editing. In the future? Maybe!)

I set deadlines for when I'd stop preparing and start applying. But they weren't there to motivate me; they were just another way of saying I don't have to do it now. I'll do it... then. See that deadline? That's when I'll do it. But now? No no no, it's not time yet. See? It's in my calendar, it has to be true.

This fall, I relaunched my 'professional' website. I realized I had that, a portfolio of work, a resume that was as polished a turd as I was going to get, and a fair amount of debt and bills. I had everything I needed. So maybe it was time?

I still couldn't bring myself to Officially look for a job. So I started unofficially looking. Putting in applications, sending resumes as low-stakes practice. Rather than get wrapped up and stressed out, I thought: This is just practice. Doesn't matter to me either way if this goes anywhere, or not. Just stretching out the muscles. I'll do the real work later, when I'm Ready.

Then I saw the posting for the job I just got. And I was mad. This was a job that I really did like, and felt I was uniquely suited for. Why couldn't I find this post when I was Officially looking?? I can't apply for it now, it's not time!

At this point I was very sick of myself. So I applied, mainly to shut myself up.

Funny thing is, they called back.

Amanda Fucking Palmer, one of my idols, talks about waiting to be hit with the Magic Wand of Legitimacy. “You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand. And you feel stupid doing it,” she says.


AFP is right, I feel a little stupid. But not for my self-administered Thwack of Legitimacy. No, for wasting so much time, for avoiding the process as long as I did. For tying so much of my tremulous self-worth into job hunting, and stressing myself out to the point that I was immobilized. I had this wand the whole time. (THE WHOLE TIME?) Maybe it shouldn't have taken me 2+ years to figure this out, but then again, if it had unfolded differently, I wouldn't have the amazing opportunity that I do now.

Either way, I have found my wand. And there as few more things I think I need to thwack myself about.




from @emsenn@wordsmith.social


Please note any “TODO” or “TK” – that means text around it is incomplete or inaccurate, such as missing a citation.

This document is an explanation of how I try to approach my online communication. The methods explained below have been in implicit development my whole life, but I started explicitly considering how I wanted to conduct my online communication in mid-2018. How I communicate online can be divided up roughly into two categories, though there's always some murkiness between the two.

There's direct communication, for talking with individuals, privately, and public communication, for talking with groups.

The reason I don't explicitly allow for in-between communication like “followers-only microblog posts,” is because the control of security on that communication is so low, I would prefer to treat it as public.

License and Editorial Information

This document and the source code it contains are released under the MIT License and maintained at https://git.sr.ht/~emsenn/online-communication-manual, where a list of syndications is available.

Table of Contents

Direct Communication

Most of my direct online communication happens through an ever-changing medley of instant messaging platforms defined more by contemporary trends than my opinion.

That is to say, I use whatever messaging applications my friends are using, and try not to be picky about the procedure.

Public Communication

I divide my public communications into two subcategories:

  • Posting, which is making a temporary or conversational public post onto a platform. This includes sending messages to my mailing lists and microblogging.
  • Publishing, which is more formal: creating a document and releasing it through a platform. This usually means posting to my personal website, but includes syndicating the document elsewhere.


When I want to post something online, I want to send a quick message, usually to an audience of followers, but also usually in a way that anyone could see it. (After all, I can't be sure that by sharing with my followers, I am not unknowingly be syndicated publicly.) Followers are people who have subscribed to the relevant account or stream.

There are a few things that inspire me to post:

  • Reading something that I'd like to share my thoughts on.
  • Doing work on an interesting project or piece of writing that I'd like to talk about.

Mailing Lists


The main way I post things is by microblogging: short temporary posts that are syndicated to followers' individual chronological feeds. Specifically, I use an account in the Fediverse to create posts: emsenn@mastodon.social. (You can also view an RSS feed of my profile.

These are a few assumptions I make when microblogging:

  • Since my audience chooses to see my posts, I assume they have an interest in the topics I'm posting about.
  • Anyone might take anything I've said and use it out-of-context to my detriment.
  • Anyone might find a way to say something to me about what I've posted. If they have an account in the Fediverse, this is easy, but people find a way to make themselves heard if they want.

I do not think my microblog should be permanent, since I can't reasonably moderate the posts that will show up in response to mine. In that spirit, I have taken the rather drastic step of deleting my posts that are older than 48 hours, unless I have “favorited” it myself. To accomplish this, I use @codl's Forget.

Into Data Silos

I recognize that a lot of potential and current personal and professional contacts don't have accounts in the Fediverse, don't use RSS, and won't manually check my Mastodon profile.

I maintain accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn, though I have severe ethical criticisms of both. Take it as evidence that my desire to be cooperative outweighs my desire to boycott monopolistic providers.

I don't post into these data silos as often as I post in the Fediverse, and tend to limit my posts there to what would be of interest to a professional audience.


Publishing something online is the most complicated way of communicating online, but also, I think, the most useful. Publishing here means sharing in a way that it becomes a “permanent” part of the Internet.

I explain the specifics of how I write in my Manual of Writing, the specifics of how I edit in my Manual of Editing, and the specifics of how I create a document in my Manual of Publishing. (All of which are in early development too.)

This procedure is about how I share that published document.

The first thing I do is add it to my website, emsenn.net, which is a repository of all my published documents (and drafts).

Then, I write a post about it to the Fediverse, as described in my procedures for posting online.

Finally, I send the document to the relevant list of email contacts I maintain who have expressed interest in its topic.