Posts Below
8/26/2016 - Link: Free eBook Giveaway from Hay House Publishing (Books)
8/25/2016 - Zippable pillow protectors: better than plastic bags for organizing things (Self-Help)
8/14/2016 - Oxalates and their interference with the absorption of nutrients (Health)
8/10/2016 - Link: "A Palace Was Unearthed Where Legend Places King Arthur's Birthplace" (History)
8/7/2016 - Sandstorm (Software)
8/2/2016 - Still trying to quit tea; hoping quitting will reduce my headaches (Health)
7/29/2016 - DemExit (Activism)
7/29/2016 - Chicory and barley: reputedly good for dental health, etc. (Health)
7/25/2016 - Bash Script: flexishacheck (Software)
7/23/2016 - Postum - Buy 3 Jars, Get 1 Free Sale Until August 31, 2016 (Food)
7/22/2016 - Teeccino: An Excellent Alternative to Coffee (Food)
7/18/2016 - Links: Free (as in Freedom), Libre, Open Source Agriculture (Food)
7/18/2016 - Link: Rosetta Stone for Unix (GNU/Linux)
7/17/2016 - International postal systems: more reasons I'm glad to be an American (Business - And Charity)
7/13/2016 - Going to try a standing desk (Health)
7/11/2016 - Dancing: probably more interesting than many other forms of exercise (Health)
7/9/2016 - Synonyms for the word "Antifragile" (Languages - English)
7/9/2016 - How to add XML and XSLT 1.0 capabilities to Perl in Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004 (Puppy Linux)
7/7/2016 - Links: Amazing 3D graphics inside a web browser (Software)
7/4/2016 - Now I'm 35; daydreams and plans for the future (Software)

Welcome to Astroblahhh.Com. This site, consisting of both blog and non-blog pages, features a gradually growing assortment of miscellaneous things on a variety of topics. I, the author of most of the stuff on this site, usually go by the name Apollia on the internet.

This blog was generated by the WordsPlatz blog software, which I wrote from scratch.


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Link: Free eBook Giveaway from Hay House Publishing
Friday, August 26th, 2016
22:51:48 GMT

Books

I heard about this free (as in price) eBook giveaway from an e-newsletter from Hay House Publishing:

Free eBook Giveaway - Hay House

I particularly like the fact that the books are provided in a variety of formats. My favorite of the formats provided is EPUB format, which I can read in my web browser with the EPUBReader add-on for the Firefox web browser. (That add-on also works in the Pale Moon web browser, which I prefer over Firefox.)

Then, using the Stylish add-on for Firefox (or Pale Moon), I can easily change the text's color to anything I want, and give the text a dark background, which makes it far more pleasant for me to read.

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Zippable pillow protectors: better than plastic bags for organizing things
Thursday, August 25th, 2016
11:54:46 GMT

Self-Help

For most of my life, I used plastic bags and cardboard boxes of various sizes (usually overly large, heavy, and difficult to move when full of junk) to "organize" things in a mostly inadequate, chaotic way.

But, recently, I finally thought of a great new innovation - putting things inside zippable pillow protectors. I prefer pillow protectors because ordinary pillowcases often don't have zippers. And sometimes ordinary pillowcases are so nice and soft you might be reluctant to use them for storage.

Compared to noisy, unsightly plastic shopping bags or garbage bags which easily get torn and often have no built-in way to completely close them - zippable pillow protectors are quieter, nicer to look at, easily closeable, and tend not to rip.


I don't have a closet, and I don't have space in my room for a clothes rack, so, now I keep different categories of clothes in different zippable pillow protectors, which makes them much easier to find than having them in numerous cardboard boxes or a giant mixed up pile.

I haven't yet thought of or found a good way to label them, but will update this post if I do.


It turns out both plastic bags and pillow protectors are bad for any non-rugged dressy types of shoes, since those can easily get crushed and creased. (I was always so oblivious to fashion that I didn't realize that until this year!) And I guess any clothes you don't want getting rumpled might be better off hanging somewhere instead of crammed into a bag.

But, for most of my clothes and my more rugged shoes, pillow protectors are perfectly fine. As for my more fragile shoes, I'll just stick those in small cardboard boxes.

I want to get a lot more zippable pillow protectors to hold many other categories of stuff, like plastic bags, boring junk mail I don't feel like going through yet, old receipts, other old papers I don't really care about but don't want to just throw away, and whatever else.

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Oxalates and their interference with the absorption of nutrients
Sunday, August 14th, 2016
01:39:27 GMT

Health

(Here's my site's disclaimer again, since this blog post is about health-related topics, and I'm not a health care professional, just a layperson who sometimes takes an interest in health and nutrition.)


Since earlier this year or late last year, and also on occasion even as far back as 2006, I've sometimes had jaw aches, mostly on the right side. Fortunately, that has been scarcely bothersome at all compared to my headaches.

However, earlier this year, sometimes I mistook that jaw pain for possible toothaches in my top and bottom backmost right teeth - except usually the ache felt more spread out rather than localized to my teeth. (I was similarly confused by some sore spots on my gums which were quite probably from gum disease - but I think that's probably a problem separate from my jaw pain, since my gum issues mostly went away months ago thanks to Vitamin C.)

When I saw the dentist in February, I found out the only cavities I had were on the opposite side of my mouth, and they were all so small I didn't even need to be numbed to get them filled.

I almost couldn't believe there was nothing wrong with my right backmost top and bottom teeth. But, the pain wasn't consistent, and it seemed like drinking enough liquids and taking magnesium helped. (Taking magnesium, Vitamin C, and drinking more liquids were all ideas I found and tried on my own - none of those were suggested to me by the dentist.)


However, my jaw aches have been more of a problem lately, especially the past few weeks. Usually the effects of magnesium on me had been far more noticeable - in addition to seeming to probably reduce my jaw pain and rid me of some annoying twitches near my right eye, it made me feel calmer and better able to sleep, and it sometimes made me feel very tired if I took it anytime I wasn't well-rested.

But lately, I've been feeling like magnesium hasn't been working as well for me.

So, that made me wonder if somehow some new factor in my nutrition (or life) was making me extra deficient in magnesium.


A while back, when reading about chicory (one of the main ingredients in Teeccino, an excellent "herbal coffee"), I ran across this page which said chicory is high in oxalates and not recommended for people with arthritis or who are prone to kidney stones.

So, I started reading about oxalates, and found this page which quoted some unknown other source which said:

“oxalates strongly bind to minerals and vice versa (e.g., calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium), and reduces the absorption of your minerals as they both come out via your urine.”

And the Antinutrient page on Wikipedia also mentions oxalates.


I also somehow ran across stuff related to Vitamin C and oxalates, such as this page, which says "vitamin C can be metabolized to oxalate".

That interested me because I had started taking two 500 mg Vitamin C's per day back in April, since it seems to tremendously help with my possible gum disease.

But, I think it wasn't until the past few weeks that magnesium started to seem significantly less effective for me.

Maybe some of my ailments are side effects of quitting caffeine. It's hard to judge since I didn't carefully log exactly what things happened when.


But, my current top theory is that maybe all the extra oxalates I've likely been getting lately from Teeccino and (to a lesser extent) from Vitamin C have maybe been interfering with my magnesium absorption.

Though I've also read that even just being extra stressed out can contribute to magnesium deficiency, and that could definitely also be a factor for me.

(Addition, Aug. 15, 2016, 5:08 AM EDT. This blog post I found describes a slow recovery from caffeine withdrawal which took up to 5 months! So, I now think it's very possible that caffeine withdrawal is a bigger factor in my ailments than I realized before.

Here's a blog post by me where I've been adding updates on my efforts to quit caffeine, or at least reduce how much I consume.)


Anyway, since Teeccino lacks caffeine and thus isn't addictive, it will be easy for me to experiment at some point with temporarily abstaining from Teeccino.

And also, now that I've sampled the majority of Teeccino flavors, I'll be less likely to drink more than one mugful per day. A lot of why I drank so much was simply to try all the new (to me) flavors as soon as possible.

But, I quite like Teeccino, so for now, I'd like to keep drinking it daily, and find a good way to adjust my diet to compensate for the possibly higher amounts of oxalates I've been consuming.


This aforementioned page says near the top that "High doses of vitamin B6 may decrease oxalate production".

So, perhaps having more Vitamin B6 might help me. For years, off and on, I have been taking Nature Made Stress B (which also contains Vitamin C and zinc). But I often have neglected to take it, since it tends to upset my stomach unless I eat something soon before (or soon after) taking it. I usually don't eat a large breakfast, so I can't just take Stress B first thing in my "morning" (or whatever equates to morning for me, due to my severe sleep issues).

I'll just have to do a better job of remembering to take Stress B after I eat enough food.


I already tried taking extra magnesium. A few weeks ago I started taking Nature Made magnesium citrate (except, unlike that page, my bottle just says "Softgels" instead of "Liquid Softgels").

I got magnesium citrate because I read in various places that some forms of magnesium are better-absorbed than others.

But I was surprised at how little effect magnesium citrate seemed to have on me compared to magnesium oxide. It's reputed to be better-absorbed than magnesium oxide, and (until lately), even just 1 Nature Made magnesium oxide seemed to have very noticeable effects on me, sometimes making me feel very tired about 2 hours after taking it (unless I'm well-rested enough that it just makes me feel more relaxed and calm).

However, I started taking magnesium citrate around the same time I started drinking Teeccino, so, maybe that's why the magnesium citrate seemingly doesn't have very noticeable effects on me.


I also tried extra Nature Made magnesium oxide. At times, it seemed to do surprisingly little for me - at one point, I tried taking 3 at once, and didn't feel much difference. Though at another point, I tried taking 2 at once, and a few hours later, it seemed to make me feel crappy (literally).

So, I think maybe I'd rather get extra magnesium from my diet instead of supplements, or at least just avoid taking more than 1 magnesium oxide at a time.

I've continued to take 1 serving of Nature Made magnesium citrate daily (in my "morning", usually). But, judging by my jaw aches, I suspect I need even more magnesium than that.


Perhaps another good approach might be to consume additional amounts of other nutrients that oxalates are reputed to interfere with the absorption of.

This page suggests consuming more calcium.


And this page says:

"When you're taking magnesium, you need to consider calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 as well, since these all work synergistically with one another. "

Unfortunately, judging by this other page, Vitamin K2 sounds like it might be a nutrient which might be hard to get directly in a purely vegetarian diet. (Reminds me of the difficulties with getting some forms of Omega 3 in purely vegetarian ways.)

However, this page points out various things suggesting that it might be possible for the body to convert Vitamin K1 into Vitamin K2.

I hope that's possible, since I'm pretty fond of kale (which has a lot of Vitamin K), and I could (and probably should) eat kale more frequently.

(Additions, Aug. 14/15, 9:41 PM/12:46 AM EDT. There seems to be conflicting info on the web about whether kale is high in oxalates or not. Here's a page that says it's low in oxalates. I tried to find the Harvard data that page referred to, and found something, though I don't know whether or not that's what that page was talking about. But the file "Oxalate Content of Foods.xls" says kale is low oxalate, with 2 mg of oxalates.)

I also am fond of gouda cheese, but it's kind of expensive, and I still feel guilty about not being 100% vegetarian.


I wish I could have figured out the perfect cure(s) for my various ailments before posting this. But, oh, well.

Magnesium not having such a strong effect on me as it used to was just such an unusual difference for me that it seemed worth investigating and writing about, even though I'm not a health care professional nor anyone else who is officially licensed to come up with theories about any of these topics.

As more details come to light, I might update this post in the future.

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Link: "A Palace Was Unearthed Where Legend Places King Arthur's Birthplace"
Wednesday, August 10th, 2016
17:32:57 GMT

History

Found via the Smithsonian Magazine email newsletter:

A Palace Was Unearthed Where Legend Places King Arthur's Birthplace
(Aug. 5, 2016)

I always liked King Arthur stories, so, I thought this was cool.

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Sandstorm
Sunday, August 7th, 2016
05:05:19 GMT

Software

I recently heard about a very impressive project called Sandstorm which makes installing web apps (like WordPress or MediaWiki, and many others) as easy as installing phone apps.

Sandstorm Demo

One reason I'm so pleased to have run across this is because I had been idly wondering for years if there might be good ways to make my and others' web apps easy to install other than using a combination of my Puppy Linux Setup Kit and Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK, plus VirtualBox to make them hopefully more secure.


I don't have the expertise to judge Sandstorm's technical and security merits, but, from the perspective of a user, I find Sandstorm very pleasant and easy to use.

And, as the author of some amateurish (yet still useful at least to me) web apps (and other things), I'm definitely interested in someday seeing if I can easily convert Astroblahhh Desktop and/or the WordsPlatz blogging software and/or the Eryss astrology software and/or other and/or not yet created things into Sandstorm packages.


To my surprise, I was able to successfully do all the steps in Sandstorm's packaging tutorial while using Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2!

I don't feel up to writing a complete set of instructions on how to install everything in Lighthouse 64, and it would probably be better for me to just add scripts to my Puppy Linux Setup Kit to automate most everything.

But, here are a few notes.



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Still trying to quit tea; hoping quitting will reduce my headaches
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
12:03:28 GMT

Health

Quitting caffeine has been getting tougher for me. I'm aware quitting it abruptly can lead to nasty withdrawal symptoms.

But, in my eagerness to be done with tea forever, I guess I rushed too quickly through the gradual-decrease phase and tried too soon to stop drinking it completely.

Result: headaches.


I was hoping approximately 12 ounces of tea per day wouldn't be that hard to get unaddicted from if I really tried, but, darn.

I guess I better keep quitting gradually instead of abruptly. Fortunately, simply drinking tea makes me feel better pretty quickly.

However, I no longer like the taste of tea as much as I used to, since Teeccino (which is "herbal coffee" with no caffeine) tastes so much better to me in comparison. So, I'm going to try to mixing my tea with Teeccino. (I wasn't mixing the two before because I wanted to see what pure Teeccino tasted like, and I was hoping I could quit tea sooner and less gradually.)

(Addition, 4:03 PM EDT. It turns out they both taste better separate, at least the way I tried to mix them. Maybe with effort the mix could be improved, but I don't feel like making the effort, since I doubt the mix will ever taste better than pure Teeccino.)


For many months, I had been noticing a craving to have more than just a single 12 ounce mug of tea per day. Not immediately after my first (and usually only) cup - but instead, annoyingly late in my "day", approaching my bedtime (which could be literally any time of day or night, due to my severe sleep issues).

I nearly always resisted the urge. But, maybe that craving was an indication I was even more addicted than I realized?


Even when I wasn't actively trying to quit tea, I got headaches on occasion. But, because I seldom went much longer than a day without having tea, I usually assumed those headaches weren't caffeine-related. But perhaps a lot of those headaches actually were from insufficient caffeine?

So, maybe at least some of my problems with occasional "random" headaches will finally go away once I get free of caffeine addiction.


Additions, 7:22 PM/7:46 PM. Here's an article from Smithsonian Magazine about what caffeine does to your brain.

Today it seems I mistakenly drank too little tea to totally get rid of my headache. I'm so annoyed by this I think I might go ahead and just immediately quit completely, so I can hopefully get through this withdrawal nonsense as quickly as possible.

So, I'm probably going to be particularly boring and useless for a while, since I'm going to continue mostly avoiding stressful things, and probably mostly read a lot and binge-watch Netflix and YouTube.


Addition, 8:50 PM EDT. Just found out from this page that my former usual daily tea only contains about 40 mg of caffeine per cup.

That sounds like a tiny amount. But, maybe it isn't tiny for me, since I'm only 5'4" and maybe 120 lbs. (Just guessing since I don't have a scale.) In any case, tea definitely has had very noticeable effects on how alert I am and how well I'm able to concentrate, and also tends to improve my mood.

But, the good effects don't last long enough for my liking, and I'm tired of feeling overly tired without caffeine, waking up feeling insufficiently rested, and especially tired of the possibility that perhaps a lot of my headaches are related to not drinking enough caffeine at the "right" time, whenever that is - which might be particularly hard for me to figure out due to my messed up circadian rhythms.

Hopefully the withdrawal won't last too long because I already had been working on gradually decreasing my tea intake. At the moment I'm feeling mostly OK, just tired now, probably partly because the last time I slept, I only slept about 4 hours because of a headache.


Addition, Aug. 4, 2016, 1:08 AM EDT. Spinning in my office chair and making myself dizzy distracts a bit from my headaches!


Additions, Aug. 4, 2016, 6:18/6:35 PM EDT. No headache since maybe 1:30 AM. But, I've been pretty tired (even after a long sleep), anxious, and foggy-minded.

I guess I probably am hypersensitive to caffeine, though at least I'm not so hypersensitive that I experience nothing but negative effects from caffeine. But I think roughly 12 ounces of tea per day must have been at least a little too much for me. But maybe if I simply drink less per day, that will work for me, hopefully with all good effects and no bad effects?

I got a new, larger mug earlier this year. Didn't realize that might cause me trouble. But even the previous amount I was drinking might have been too much, if caffeine withdrawal was a significant factor in a lot of the headaches I've gotten over the years.


Addition, Aug. 4, 2016, 7:30 PM EDT. I figured out that my supposedly 12 ounce mug might actually hold more than 12 ounces, since I was able to pour 2 nearly full cups of water into it from an 8.5 ounce styrofoam cup. I don't have a measuring cup, so I can't measure it more exactly, but, it now looks like maybe I had been drinking close to 16 ounces of tea per day.

Trying to quit tea has been such an annoying disruption to my life and ability to get anything done that I've decided to resume drinking tea, but from an 8.5 ounce styrofoam cup instead. I just had some and already feel a bit better.


Additions, Aug. 4/5, 2016, 7:50 PM/12:51 AM EDT. I still don't want to be stuck drinking tea for the rest of my life, so, my next caffeine reduction strategy will be to add a small amount of this Mount Hagen organic instant coffee (or this cheaper pack of 2) to my Teeccino.

I tried that coffee a few years ago and liked it a lot, so I'm guessing the flavor will probably blend well with Teeccino.


Addition, Aug. 7, 2016, 6:10 AM EDT. No headaches lately, and I got the coffee, and it's good in (or out of) Teeccino. Maybe I'm doing better overall with less caffeine, but, it's hard to tell at the moment, since yesterday, I had to wake up unusually early (for me), and didn't go back to sleep yet, so I'm quite tired now. I still feel like I want to take a long vacation from everything stressful.

Here's the most interesting article I've seen recently about caffeine and its effects:

Coffee Time: How caffeine shifts our circadian clocks.
(Sept. 17, 2015, from Slate.com)

Quotes:

"The way caffeine works on cells in the body might be different than how it works on the brain."

[...]

"jet lag isn’t just the fact that your brain is in another time zone—it’s that your liver might be in a different time zone than your brain.”


Addition, Aug. 8, 2016, 3:51 PM EDT. I don't feel perfect yet, and I still feel like I could go back to sleep again soon, but, upon waking up today, I think I felt better-rested than I had for several months. No headaches, and I feel overall calmer.

I got my new mug (which I thought was 12 ounces but actually was larger) back in February, so I guess I had been at least slightly overdosing on caffeine since around then.


Additions, Aug. 9, 2016, 3:46 AM EDT, etc. I wish I had gone back to sleep, but I didn't. I thought I felt better-rested than usual, but that feeling didn't last long.

I don't know if still having a little caffeine is helping, or making things worse. I think now that I'm so close to having no caffeine, I'll just go without it completely for a while.

I guess another possible contributor to my various ailments might be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but, for now, I don't want to get into the details of why I think that. I'd rather focus on positive things.


Addition, Aug. 10, 2016, 1:21 PM EDT. Got a headache last night, and gave in and drank some coffee, which didn't fully get rid of it. but I'm OK now. It is definitely nice to feel like sleep is doing me more good than it had been.


Addition, Aug. 11, 2016, 6:07 PM EDT. No headaches, and my old vigor has been coming back after probably months of absence. Even though I had to get up overly early for something today and am thus tired, I still have felt better than I had in a long time.

So, maybe I finally really will try bellydancing and a standing desk sometime.

It seems like I'm OK as long as I don't have too much caffeine. So, yesterday evening and today, mostly just for flavor's sake, I put a small amount of coffee - probably less than a teaspoon - in my Teeccino.


Addition, Aug. 13, 2016, 9:46 PM EDT. Had to wake up too early for various reasons on Aug. 12th, so wasn't doing as well yesterday. Slept longer today but am not as energetic as I was on Aug. 11. (Perhaps that energy came from the small amount of caffeine I might have had that day.)

Still, no headaches. And, no caffeine since Aug. 12th or possibly Aug. 11th. I got my Teeccino Boutique Sampler on Aug. 11th, so I mostly avoided putting coffee in them since I wanted to see how they tasted without it.

Another symptom I neglected to mention, which has been a problem for maybe years now, is that I often wake up very thirsty, and this often wakes me up repeatedly while I'm trying to sleep.

And I've had some jaw pain from time to time. My current top theory on that is, maybe it's from magnesium deficiency caused by consuming too many oxalates. (Oxalates are antinutrients found in many common foods.) So I wrote a new blog post on those topics:

Oxalates and their interference with the absorption of nutrients


Addition, Aug. 14, 2016, 1:02 AM EDT. Oops, getting absentminded. Judging by what I wrote above on Aug. 11th, I definitely added a bit of coffee to one of my Teeccinos that day. So, actually, I've been caffeine-free since Aug. 12th, not the 11th.

Additions, 1:30 AM EDT, etc. Don't know when I'll feel normal again (without resorting to caffeine). But, even though I've felt tired, I still feel less tired and better-rested compared to the past several months. But I think I better keep avoiding stressful things and instead do less challenging things like reading books and watching videos.

Despite my tiredness, I've still been learning a lot from The Art of Unix Programming by Eric S. Raymond. I wish I had read that years ago.

Addition, Aug. 14. 2016, 7:20 PM EDT. Decided to probably continue adding small amounts of coffee to my Teeccino, since I like the taste, and even a small amount of caffeine seems to make me feel better and more capable of getting useful things done.


Addition, Aug. 15, 2016, 4:55 AM EDT. I found a blog post by someone who reported experiencing caffeine withdrawal symptoms for up to 5 months!

I'm actually comforted to know it can take that long, because I was worried that I should be much more recovered by now, and worried that maybe my various remaining ailments were caused more by other things than by caffeine withdrawal.

So, that helps rid me of some anxiety. I also read that muscle aches can be a symptom of caffeine withdrawal, so, that could at least partly explain my jaw aches.

That blog post's description of Month 5 gives me something to look forward to.

However, I'm going to probably slightly increase my daily coffee dosage, because I think I need a bit more to minimize my withdrawal symptoms.


Addition, Aug. 18, 2016, 9:07 PM EDT. My jaw aches have been fluctuating between being mostly gone, and still being slightly there. Perhaps magnesium, kale, ground flaxseed, and/or Nature Made Stress B helped.

The past couple days, I had to wake up too early for various reasons, so, I'm probably tired just because of that. But also, I think even the small amount of coffee I had - maybe about a teaspoon - probably made me stay awake longer than I otherwise might have.

So, I'm going to try having an even more minimal and less frequent amount of coffee, like, less than a teaspoon and not daily. My main goal is just to minimize caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

I think I need more sleep, so I don't expect to accomplish much of anything in the very near future. But, in the past few days, I made some progress with XSLT and VUE: Visual Understanding Environment. Which is actually getting me interested in learning more about functional programming in general.


Additions, Aug. 24, 2016, 3:03 AM EDT, etc. Aug. 23rd was the first day my jaw started feeling mostly back to normal! Still been tired, but that's partly because of having to wake up too early. But even so, I've still been feeling more well-rested than I did before trying to quit caffeine.

And I've even made surprisingly good progress with XSLT, though I still find it pretty confusing. But I finally did manage to extract node label data from a VUE: Visual Understanding Environment concept map!


And, I think I want to learn more about one of the most mystifying programming languages I've ever encountered - Haskell. Things that take many lines of code in other languages can be squeezed into much fewer lines of code in Haskell. Much fewer, but much more indecipherable, at least for me so far.

So, I hope to read Learn You a Haskell for Great Good! and Real World Haskell at some point. I sure hope I have the brains to learn this stuff. :-)

I guess this is a particularly good time for me to study Haskell, because if it turns out to be hopelessly difficult, I can blame my caffeine withdrawal symptoms, tiredness, etc. And if I actually do get somewhere with Haskell, I'll feel particularly pleased with myself for being able to do that despite my caffeine withdrawal symptoms, tiredness, etc. :-)


I still have been having less than a teaspoon of coffee daily, but hopefully will start skipping days soon.

I think more often than not, throughout my life, ever since I was a child, I have been regularly consuming some amount of caffeine, either in the form of caffeinated soda, tea, or more rarely, coffee.

I wonder if I was always more sensitive to caffeine than I realized? Maybe this is yet another possible cause of my severe sleep issues.

Of course, I always knew better than to drink caffeine too near bedtime. (Even as a child, I was aware that was a bad idea, thanks to being told by my relatives.) But maybe I always was so caffeine-sensitive that the sleep-disrupting effects persisted longer for me than they do for many people?

I very much doubt that completely quitting caffeine would completely cure my my severe sleep issues, since I think there were probably times in my life when I wasn't drinking caffeine regularly and I still had sleep problems. But, I'll just see what happens, I guess.


Addition, Aug. 24, 2016, 6:36 AM EDT. One difference in my life yesterday compared to all the other days I've been decreasing caffeine is that I got a lot more exercise than usual. Had to walk around a lot.

And, also, I finally tried my $10 (ten dollar) used bike for the first time since I was given it a few months ago. I hadn't ridden a bike since I was maybe 9 or something, but, it seems science was right - I hadn't forgotten how to ride.

And I even managed to avoid falling off at all, even despite zipping around a corner at slightly worryingly high speed, due to not realizing that the brakes were controlled not by pedaling in reverse, but by squeezing some things attached to the handlebars.

Should have made sure I knew how the brakes worked before I started going a bit fast, but, oops. :-) Going uphill and into some grass also helped slow me down.

Anyway, I just found it interesting that my increased exercise coincided with my jaw aches being quite reduced. Though I don't know whether or not exercise actually had anything to do with that, since correlation does not necessarily imply causation.


Addition, Aug. 26, 2016, 2:39 AM EDT. Had no caffeine from the evening of Aug. 23rd to the evening of Aug. 25th. But, it seems like I need to keep having it to avoid getting in a bad mood. So I guess I'll keep having it daily, but keep gradually decreasing the amount.

Still have been getting jaw aches. Haven't gotten anything interesting done. I actually fell asleep at an unusually early time in my "cycle", though only for a few hours. I think maybe I fell asleep because I've been eating dried sour/tart cherries, which are reputed to contain a lot of melatonin - even more melatonin than walnuts, which themselves sometimes seem to have a pretty strong effect on me, and sometimes seem to make me sleepy in less than an hour (unless I'm already quite well-rested at the time I eat them).

Earlier this evening, all my relatives (all of whom also ate those dried sour/tart cherries) also went to sleep earlier than usual, even though one had also taken a nap during the day.

I had two small handfuls of dried sour/tart cherries a few hours ago, and have been on the verge of sleep for a long time since then, though I've been successfully resisting it so far. However, I think maybe I better avoid eating those except when I really want to feel sleepy.

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DemExit
Friday, July 29th, 2016
17:05:30 GMT

Activism

I'm unhappy that the election was rigged against Bernie Sanders, so, I'm going to participate in DemExit by exiting the Democratic Party.

I don't yet know who I'll vote for.

I recently heard that George Washington thought political parties are a bad idea in general.

And I never liked the fact that many people instantly make snap judgments and jump to wild conclusions about people and issues based on a single-word label like "Democrat" or "Republican".

So, maybe I'll just stay out of every party from now on.

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Chicory and barley: reputedly good for dental health, etc.
Friday, July 29th, 2016
13:02:44 GMT

Health

I recently started drinking Teeccino, an "herbal coffee", which got me curious about some of its ingredients, such as chicory and barley.

I was very pleased to find these articles.


Antimicrobial and anti-adherence activity of various combinations of coffee-chicory solutions on Streptococcus mutans: An in-vitro study
May-Aug 2014, from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov


The Health Benefits of Roasted Barley Tea With Chicory
June 23, 2015 from LIVESTRONG.COM


One of my least favorite things about ordinary tea (without chicory or barley) was the damage I suspected it (and/or the sugar I put in it) might be doing to my teeth and gums.

(Addition, 9:28 AM EDT: Actually, here's an article which says black tea 'combats bacteria linked with tooth decay and gum disease'. Which surprises me, since I never felt like tea was helpful at all. Vitamin C seems to do my possible gum disease tremendously more good than tea. After having tea, I was always reluctant to put off brushing my teeth, for fear that my gum soreness would come back. End of addition.)


So, I'm very happy that I was able to quit ordinary tea, and am now only drinking Teeccino, which tastes so good it made it easy to give up caffeinated tea and coffee.

I seldom drank coffee to begin with, but until trying Teeccino, I drank one 12 ounce mug of tea per day.

I like Teeccino more than any herbal tea I ever had, and more than any decaf coffee I ever had. Teeccino also compares so well to the best caffeinated coffees I ever had that I can't even decide which I like more, so I guess it's a tie. And Teeccino even makes my favorite caffeinated tea seem relatively boring and weak in comparison.

Even flavor alone would make me stick with Teeccino. But the reputed health benefits (which also go beyond dental health benefits) are icing on the cake.


Addition, Aug. 13, 2016, 10:09 PM EDT. I read on this page that chicory contains high amounts of oxalates. (Oxalates are antinutrients found in many common foods.)

So, I wrote this new blog post:

Oxalates and their interference with the absorption of nutrients

But for me, I think the benefits of chicory and other foods with oxalates probably outweigh the possible drawbacks, so I'm going to keep having them.

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Bash Script: flexishacheck
Monday, July 25th, 2016
13:07:57 GMT

Software

Here's a boring but useful enough Bash script I finished today:

flexishacheck

I made this because the not-yet-finished (nor released) renovated Apollia's Puppy Linux Setup Kit (APSK) is going to use SHA-512 checksums to verify that various files are intact, or got downloaded correctly.

Actually, if I recall correctly, the released APSK already does check the SHA-512 checksums of downloaded files. But I want the renovated APSK to be far more flexible - and flexishacheck definitely helps with that, since now I won't have to update checksum record files just because a checksummed file got renamed.

I also want the renovated APSK to be able to use other things to verify that downloaded files are intact, such as GPG signatures.

From what I understand, two different files sharing the same SHA checksum or GPG signature is supposed to be extremely rare, even if the two files are only slightly different. But unfortunately, I'm quite far from understanding all this stuff as well as I'd like, so I'm not sure how helpful (or not) SHA checksums and GPG signatures will really be. But I assume checking SHA checksums and/or GPG signatures is at least better than just blindly trusting that a download succeeded and got the correct file.

At least I've been learning a lot from my struggles to renovate APSK and understand checksums and GPG. At this rate, I don't know if I'll have APSK renovated even before the year is over, but, I'm going to keep trying.

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Postum - Buy 3 Jars, Get 1 Free Sale Until August 31, 2016
Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
05:56:08 GMT

Food

Postum is another excellent caffeine-free hot drink which tends to be placed in the same category as Teeccino - a coffee alternative.

And, until August 31, 2016, there's a buy 3 jars, get 1 free sale of Postum from Postum's official website.


I haven't had Postum in a long time, maybe since 2004 or something. But even though I didn't drink it very often (since I mostly drank caffeinated tea instead), I still liked it.

I only ever tried the Original flavor, which never tasted that much like coffee to me. But, I liked it anyway, especially since I wasn't even looking for a perfect replica of coffee - just something new (to me) and different from what I usually drank.


I read on this page that Postum was actually discontinued by the company Kraft in 2007, which I found very surprising and bizarre. Why would any company discontinue such a good, popular product?

Fortunately, Postum was so popular that a different company (Eliza's Quest Foods of Charlotte, North Carolina) revived it in 2012.

Which is very unusual - since I don't think any other discontinued product I ever liked ever got revived. I wish such revivals would happen more often.

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Teeccino: An Excellent Alternative to Coffee
Friday, July 22nd, 2016
21:32:18 GMT

Food

I sometimes run across articles which suggest that it would be healthy to give up caffeine.

I actually mostly don't drink coffee, and I only drink 1 cup of caffeinated tea per day maximum - but I'm definitely addicted. (Edit, Aug. 13, 2016, 10:42 PM EDT: Actually, I drank one 17 ounce mug which I mistakenly thought was 12 ounces.) I've tried repeatedly (though not very determinedly) to gradually give it up, but I just like the taste too much.

It's probable I'd consume less caffeine if I simply switched completely to coffee, because I only enjoy coffee which is very diluted with water and cream. (Otherwise, coffee tastes unbearably bitter and horrible to me.)

But, my goal is to mostly stop drinking any caffeine, since I think maybe I have adrenal fatigue, given that I have sometimes been unusually tired lately despite going out of my way to avoid stressful things for over a month now.


There are various non-caffeinated herbal teas I like. But, I wanted to try something totally new to me.

So, today, I tried Teeccino, which is made of chicory and other tasty ingredients.


I tried a "tee-bag" of the Maya Chai flavor. And, I liked it! I could definitely distinguish it from coffee, but it was still quite good, coffee-like, and better than any decaffeinated coffee I've ever had. (But I should probably point out that I never tried a wide variety of decaf coffee, nor even caffeinated coffee.)

Teeccino "tee-bags" seem to take longer to steep than probably most tea does. I didn't carefully follow the instructions - I stuck the bag in a cup of cold water and microwaved it, which I think worked well enough.

Rather than removing the bag, I decided to just leave it in as I was drinking it, and see how long it would take for it to get too strong for my tastes. I don't know exactly when that happened, but it seemed to take a long time, maybe over 10 minutes.

Similar to the way I drink coffee, I liked it best with a lot of cream.


I greatly look forward to trying all the other flavors of the sampler pack I got, and I think Teeccino will definitely assist me in hopefully finally really giving up caffeine, or at least drinking a lot less caffeine.


Addition, July 30, 2016, 11:14 AM EDT. Here's a new blog post by me which could be of interest to Teeccino drinkers:

Chicory and barley: reputedly good for dental health, etc.


Additions, July 23, 2016, 3:23 AM EDT, etc. The way I sweeten my tea, coffee and Teeccino is usually:

I used to be able to just use any random brown sugar from a grocery store, but I find that difficult to use anymore because the above makes everything taste so much better in comparison.


Anyway, I just tried the Chocolate Mint flavor of Teeccino. I liked the Maya Chai, but I love this! It reminds me of Andes mints in liquid form, but more subtle. I think I like it even more than hot chocolate, because hot chocolate (unless you make it from scratch) tends to be overwhelmingly sugary, and with this, I can control the amount of sweetness.


Addition, July 30, 2016, 12:27 PM EDT. By now, I've tried all the flavors from the sampler pack.

There are only 4 flavors I wasn't so fond of - Orange, Maya Chai, Almond Amaretto, and Chocolate.

But, I liked (or loved) them all, and all of them were superior to any decaf coffee I've ever had. And it turns out mixing multiple flavors together is fun, so, I might eventually buy even the ones I'm less fond of just to see if they'll taste better as components of my own custom blends.

I already got two 11 oz. packages of ground Teeccino from a local store. The store had only had 4 flavors (and only 2 I particularly liked), so I got Java and French Roast.


For me, coffee machines are too much of a time-consuming nuisance, even though I don't have a non-libre coffee machine with DRM. :-) But fortunately, a coffee machine isn't necessary to brew ground Teeccino.

On various pages on the Teeccino website (like this one), it says "The exact same Teeccino grounds are in the Tee-bags as in our 11 oz. bags." And Teeccino's website sells empty tea bags. (But I already had some of a different brand - I got 100 on sale for 99 cents from a local store.)

I considered getting a metal tea infuser, strainer, filter, or teaball. Particularly to my liking was this one (but beware of the volume in that video around 0:46 to 0:55). But, in the end, I decided against any metal tea contraption, because I was worried about things like, where was this manufactured, exactly what is it made of, how was it made, and is it really safe?


Teeccino takes minutes longer than ordinary tea to steep. I'm not sure exactly how long, but it probably varies depending on how strong or weak you'd prefer it to be. And also depending on which Teeccino flavor it is.

Filling my own tea bags was a bit less convenient and more messy than buying already-filled "tee-bags". But, I love being able to choose the amounts to put in, and being able to easily mix multiple flavors together.


In my 17-ounce mug, I like both pure Java (with about 3 non-heaping spoonfuls) or pure French Roast (with some amount less than 3 non-heaping spoonfuls, since 3 initially seemed too strong for me, though I soon got used to it and liked it anyway).

But I also like combining Java and French Roast, with 2 non-heaping spoonfuls of Java, and less than a spoonful of French Roast (since just 1 spoonful surprisingly seemed a bit too strong for my liking). And I'll be trying other combinations too.

I think maybe I'm unusually sensitive to strong flavors (especially in light of my inability to drink undiluted coffee). A former coffee drinker I know very much enjoyed an 8.5 ounce cup made with 4 spoonfuls of French Roast! (Addition, Aug. 2, 2016, 2:08 PM EDT. That person said 2 spoonfuls is just as good.)




Here is my mostly indecisive ranking of all the Teeccino flavors from the sampler pack, which no doubt will vary depending on my mood:

  1. Chocolate Mint - Still my favorite! But it seems too much like dessert for me to use it as my usual tea replacement. And also, chocolate (including Teeccino flavors containing chocolate) contains theobromine, which has effects similar to caffeine.

  2. Java - I never had real java, so I can't compare this to that. But, it's definitely good. Mixing it with a small amount of French Roast enhances it for me.

  3. Vanilla Nut - Better than all the vanilla teas I've ever had. I seldom have found a vanilla tea I've really liked. (Hedley's Vanilla comes to mind, but I don't know if that's even made anymore.)

  4. Hazelnut - Reminds me of Almond Amaretto, but somehow more agreeable to me.

  5. French Roast - Amongst all the Teeccinos (including the ones I'm less fond of), this one seems to have the strongest, most intense coffee-like flavor.

  6. Mocha - I don't remember many details about this one, but it was good. But since it has chocolate (and therefore, the caffeine-like substance theobromine), I should probably usually avoid it.


Here are the flavors I'm less fond of. They were all good enough for me to finish my cup, but I liked the above more.

However, the below might still be interesting components to mix into custom blends - so, for that reason, I might buy these too eventually.

  1. Orange - I figured this was one of the flavors I was least likely to like, because I seldom like any fruit tea. (The only exceptions I can even think of are Gevalia Ceylon Cinnamon Orange and Blackberry Spice, which I love.

    And a notable pseudo-exception is Twinings Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea - which has nothing whatsoever to do with orange fruit. It's simply a black tea - but for some years, it qualified as my #1 favorite daily tea, until I tried PG Tips.)

    Fortunately for me, it turned out Orange Teeccino didn't actually taste very orangey. I liked it a bit more than the Maya Chai.


  2. Maya Chai - I don't think I would have even guessed this was a chai if I tasted it without knowing what flavor it was. It's still good, though. But the name makes me compare it to chai teas I've had. And since I've had some really excellent chai teas, this scarcely compares at all to them.

    But this is a favorite of the aforementioned former coffee drinker I know. That person said they liked this because it's strong.


  3. Almond Amaretto. This is another flavor which the aforementioned former coffee drinker particularly liked, which I didn't like so much. The smell of this reminded me of anise, or something else I mostly don't like. (Not sure I know the correct name for the scent I'm referring to.)

    It reminded me of a weird Celestial Seasonings tea I had a long time ago called "Almond Sunset", which I also found rather disagreeable (though sometimes intriguing).

    Even though I didn't like Almond Sunset that much, it saddens me to find that Almond Sunset was retired. Yet another reason why it's better even for food and drink recipes, including tea, to be free (as in freedom), libre, and open source.


  4. Chocolate. Even though I love the Chocolate Mint flavor - for me, the plain Chocolate flavor didn't compare well to ordinary hot chocolate. Still was good enough to drink, though.


There are numerous other flavors for me to try. I'm most interested in trying Pumpkin Spice, since I love pumpkin pie, and one of my favorite teas is Bigelow Pumpkin Spice.

I'm also interested in French Vanilla, since I've had a surprisingly hard time finding vanilla teas I really like, and Vanilla Nut Teeccino was better than all of the vanilla teas I ever had.

So, I'll probably try this Boutique Sampler next.


Addition, Aug. 13, 2016, 5:36 PM EDT. I tried all the Boutique Sampler flavors. Here's my current ranking of everything, which will also probably vary depending on my mood:

  1. Hazelnut

  2. Pumpkin Spice - For some reason, I usually like most pumpkin-flavored things. I haven't had Bigelow Pumpkin Spice in quite a while, but I'm sure this Teeccino is least as good as that, and probably better.

  3. Chocolate Mint

  4. French Roast

  5. French Vanilla - Might have a stronger vanilla flavor than Vanilla Nut. I'll try comparing the two more carefully at some point.

  6. Java

  7. Vanilla Nut

  8. Mocha

  9. Caramel Nut - I'm almost tempted to put this in the group of flavors I'm not so fond of, except I probably liked it a bit more than them. Pecans were never a favorite nut of mine, even though I'm capable of enjoying them.


And the flavors I'm less fond of. They were all good enough for me to finish my cup, but I liked the above more.

However, the below might still be interesting components to mix into custom blends - so, for that reason, I might buy these too eventually.

  1. Orange

  2. Maya Chai

  3. Almond Amaretto

  4. Chocolate

  5. Southern Pecan - I wasn't sure what I'd think of this one, since pecans were never my favorite nut, but, I actually really liked this great Nuts.com pecan pie.

    Anyway, the Teeccino Southern Pecan flavor seemed to improve the longer it steeped (or the more I got used to it), but until it reached that point, I was considering discarding it. But, it somehow gradually became tolerable. So, I suspect maybe it might be good for me in small amounts as an ingredient in a custom mix.


And I finally found a flavor I found undrinkable:

  1. Chocolate Raspberry - I seldom like fruit flavor in tea or coffee, especially if it's raspberry. I'm not even very fond of most fruit pies (except pumpkin, if that qualifies as a fruit). People around me liked the smell of Chocolate Raspberry, but, I didn't even like the smell. Both its smell and taste reminded me too much of medicine. So, I had to discard it.

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Links: Free (as in Freedom), Libre, Open Source Agriculture
Monday, July 18th, 2016
14:57:07 GMT

Food

Ever since I saw the documentary Gasland several years ago, I've been increasingly worried about farms, groundwater (or any water), nature in general, and also places where people live, possibly getting contaminated by pollution from various forms of industrial activity.

And I also think it's quite distressing that unless you pay extra to buy organic food, you're stuck buying food which quite possibly had pesticides used on it, or which might have been genetically modified (GMO).

And, as someone who has at times had a rather inadequate diet simply due to lack of enough money, I've sometimes daydreamed about how nice it would be to be able to grow my own food on my own farm, or in a greenhouse, or something.


So, today, I was very pleased to run across the below links, since perhaps free (as in freedom), libre, open source agriculture will someday help alleviate some of the above problems.

This Ag Innovator Wants to Find Your Broccoli by IP Address
(June 10, 2015 from ThePlate.NationalGeographic.com)

MIT Open Agriculture Initiative


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Link: Rosetta Stone for Unix
Monday, July 18th, 2016
04:22:16 GMT

GNU/Linux

This looks useful, even though I haven't used most of the operating systems mentioned on this page:

A Sysadmin's Unixersal Translator (ROSETTA STONE)
OR What do they call that in this world?

Usually I use Puppy Linux. And, reluctantly and relatively rarely, I sometimes use Mac OS.


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International postal systems: more reasons I'm glad to be an American
Sunday, July 17th, 2016
03:37:03 GMT

Business
And Charity

Today, I received a bra purchased on Amazon and shipped from a seller in England. (Despite the fact that I like Richard Stallman's page of Reasons not to buy from Amazon).

And on the outside of the package, on a "Customs Declaration" label, was some rather personal information!

In a column that said "Quantity and detailed description of contents", it said "Lingerie" (in handwriting). And, in the "Value" column was a handwritten price quite close to what the buyer paid for this bra on Amazon.


Obviously I'm not very embarrassed, since now I'm telling the world about this by blogging about it. :-)

But still, I think it's an obnoxious invasion of privacy. Here in the USA, we don't have to list the contents and value of our packages on the outside of the package for any curious postal worker or resident of our homes to read.

At least they didn't list my bra size. :-)


Back in 2012, I received a package from a friend in Europe. That package's contents and values weren't listed on the outside - but, I was astonished when that friend speculated I might have to pay some sort of "customs" fees just to receive it.

It turned out there actually were no fees for me to receive it, but I was shocked that that's even a problem in Europe.

Here in the USA, we have nothing like that. We can receive as many gift packages as we want without being oppressed by fees.


It amazes me that oppression like that is apparently considered normal in Europe. I think it's terrible and unfair to everyone, whether poor or rich.

But it's probably particularly harmful to poor people, because if anyone mails a poor person in Europe a package of stuff to help them out, the poor person might not be able to afford to pay the oppressive fees to accept the package! And the more the package is worth, the higher the fees.


Also, I'm guessing this nonsense probably isn't any good for the economies of Europe, because it probably discourages people from buying and mailing each other gifts for the holidays, birthdays, etc. It also probably discourages people from buying things online even just for themselves.

It wouldn't surprise me to find that the USA's economy and sales of products sent via physical mail are probably thriving a lot more than Europe's economies and sales, just because of the above problems imposed by Europe's postal systems.

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Going to try a standing desk
Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
21:19:19 GMT

Health

Yesterday, in my family's basement, I was able to find an old rolling table which is tall enough to use as a standing desk for my laptops.

Why did I want a standing desk? Because I keep running into articles which suggest that standing might be healthier than continually sitting.

And it will make it easier to do a wider variety of random exercises (or bellydancing :-D ) while continuing to work on my computer at the same time.


However, here's a partly negative article about standing desks:

From Qz.com, Sept. 29, 2014 - There's a huge hidden downside to standing desks that no one told me about

So, I'm going to be careful to avoid swollen ankles. Though I think I might have avoided that without even trying, because I'm so fidgety that I'll probably seldom stand still for long at my standing desk.


(Addition, July 13, 2016, 6:28 PM EDT. Another partly negative article:

From Health.USNews.com, Feb. 17, 2015 - 5 Ways Your Standing Desk Is Doing More Harm Than Good

So, judging by that article, it seems that alternating between standing and sitting is probably better than constantly standing or constantly sitting. And also that fidgeting is good.

I'm definitely not interested in overdoing standing, exercise, sitting, or anything else. So, hopefully it will overall be good for me to get more variation and movement into my habitual routines. End of addition.)


I wonder if lying or sitting in bed is healthier than sitting in a chair all day? My computers are usually next to my bed, and I shift positions a lot more than is possible in the average chair.


Another thing I found in the basement was a nice swiveling office chair I didn't even know we had.

And it turns out that despite being 35, I still like spinning around in an office chair about as much as I did when I was 5. :-)

So, who knows how much standing and other exercise I'm really going to do now. :-)

But since I have a laptop, this chair won't necessarily interfere with my computing too much. It will at least be amusing to see how well I can program while dizzy.


My next task is to clear enough junk out of my room to make adequate room for these delights. Cleaning isn't my favorite thing to do, but at least it has more immediately perceptible good results than the average boring exercise.

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Dancing: probably more interesting than many other forms of exercise
Monday, July 11th, 2016
11:27:56 GMT

Health

Like many other computer programmers, I probably ought to get more exercise.

But most exercise sounds boring to me, or otherwise inconvenient. There's a swimming pool I could go to, and I have a bicycle, and I could always go on walks, but, I much prefer to avoid people.


So, I think what I might prefer do instead is, stay in my room and try to learn bellydancing, and maybe other types of dancing too. :-)

I don't know if dancing is the best possible exercise for me, but, no doubt anything is better than nothing, or just fidgeting and walking around my house.

And becoming a good (or otherwise amusing) dancer seems like a much more fun goal than becoming capable of performing ever-larger quantities of ungraceful, boring, repetitive exercises such as sit-ups and squats.

It might also result in some amusing videos someday. :-)


Though I actually wouldn't mind an exercise bike or a non-motorized treadmill to use while I work on my computer stuff. Then I could just mindlessly get a significant amount of exercise while I get more useful things done at the same time.

Maybe I should convert my bike into an exercise bike.

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Synonyms for the word "Antifragile"
Saturday, July 9th, 2016
20:49:33 GMT

Languages
English

Last edited July 10, 2016 at 1:05 AM EDT.

One of the best books I read in 2015 (or, ever) was Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

I was recently reminded of this book by the fact that my Toughbook CF-C1 overheated and crashed yet again. (Clearly I need to stop leaving so many web browser tabs open.)

But, at least this annoyance was a pleasant reminder of the antifragility of (and resulting from) my Puppy Linux Setup Kit. :-)


Crashes actually benefit my setup kit, because they give me some additional good reasons to stop procrastinating about enhancing my setup kit.

And, thanks to my setup kit, I'm able to recover quickly from not only relatively minor crashes which only require a reboot, but also from serious hardware breakdowns which would require me to switch to a totally different computer, which would be a far more inconvenient disruption if I were still dependent on an OS installed on a hard disk.

I can switch to another computer pretty much seamlessly and have everything back to normal in minutes. It's tremendously nicer than having to slowly rebuild a broken Windows system by manually reinstalling Windows along with all my lost Windows software.


A while back, I thought of a possibly good synonym for the word "antifragile". At least, it's hopefully clear enough if you're a Star Wars fan. But, in case it's a spoiler, I won't say exactly the word I have in mind.

This page from the Movies & TV Stack Exchange explains the famous scene from one of the Star Wars movies that made me think of this idea.


Other possible rough synonyms include phoenix-like or hydra-like.

I had trouble thinking of many more synonyms, though. Which sort of makes me wish I already automated the addition of comment sections to my blog posts.


Click this link to display the blog comment thread hosted at the Eryss.Com Forum:

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How to add XML and XSLT 1.0 capabilities to Perl in Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004
Saturday, July 9th, 2016
19:21:33 GMT

Puppy Linux

By default, I don't know if Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004's copy of Perl already includes modules for dealing with XML and XSLT. But, I don't think it had the ones I wanted to use, so I figured out how to install them.

And I avoided using the "cpan" automated installer for Perl modules because I was using a computer I keep disconnected from the internet.

And also because I dislike package managers or any other software which is excessively dependent on internet access. Given these poverty statistics, I think it's better not to just assume the internet is constantly available to everyone who needs it. The less everyone's computing is dependent on the internet, the better, in my opinion.




OK, back to the instructions.

There was only one tricky part. I'm dubious about whether I handled that correctly, but, I'll explain that below when we reach that step.


I believe the Perl module XML::LibXSLT only has XSLT 1.0 capabilities.

I still haven't done very much with XSLT 2.0 (nor even XSLT 1.0), or Saxon-CE, but I'm guessing Saxon-CE is probably one of the easiest ways to get started doing something with XSLT 2.0, since Saxon-CE is written in JavaScript and runs in a web browser.

Many web browsers already have XSLT 1.0 capabilities built in.




There seem to be some parts of the below Perl modules which are written in C, so, I believe to install them, it's necessary to use the DevX file of development tools for your Puppy Linux.

My page of Some Puppy Linux Basics explains more about DevX files, and if you need the DevX for Lucid Puppy 5.2.8, it's available at this link:

http://distro.ibiblio.org/puppylinux/puppy-5.2.8/

If you're using a different version of Puppy than Lucid Puppy 5.2.8, that DevX probably won't work, so you should instead download the DevX released for your Puppy.

Also, if you're not using Lucid Puppy 5.2.8, please bear in mind that the instructions in this blog post might not all apply or work for you, since different Puppy Linux distros, and probably even different versions of the same Puppy distro, can differ quite substantially from each other.

And here's how to load SFS files.




Next, get the tarballs of the following Perl modules. (The version numbers are just what I used - I don't know if these specific versions are actually required for all these things to work together.)

  1. XML::NamespaceSupport 1.11

  2. XML::SAX::Base 1.08

  3. XML::SAX 0.99

  4. XML::LibXML 2.0126

  5. XML::LibXSLT 1.93




It's necessary to install each of those modules in the order given above. Do the following 2 steps for the first 4 modules above:

  1. Decompress the tarball.

  2. Open a terminal window and type these commands:

    perl Makefile.PL

    make

    make test

    make install

Or "new2dir make install" (without quotes) if you'd like to make a pet file or SFS file.


With one Perl module, there might be some annoying warning about "6.55_02" not being numeric, but since that warning didn't stop the build, I ignored it.




Now, the tricky part. I don't know if my trick really solved the problem, and I don't even know whether or not it might have created other problems. But, at least it made it possible for me to successfully run "make" on the XML::LibXSLT module.

Decompress the XML::LibXSLT tarball.

Then, open the file "LibXSLT.xs" in a text editor, and add this line below the comment section at the top:

int xsltMaxVars = 9999999;

That line is necessary because without it, the build will be halted with these errors:


But with that line, the build should succeed. So, now you can run these commands:

perl Makefile.PL

make

make test

make install


Or "new2dir make install" (without quotes) if you'd like to make a pet file or SFS file.




Now, to see if the modules are working, you'll need three things - a Perl script, an XML file, and an XSLT file.

Here's a zip file containing all 3, which aren't by me, but were slightly modified by me. I changed hardly anything in the Perl script, and all I did with the XSLT stylesheet was add a comment with a link to where I found it.

And the VUE: Visual Understanding Environment concept map file was saved by me, but its source code was automatically generated by VUE. And I had to slightly edit it because of the comments at the top which Perl disliked.

Thanks to all the authors of this code!


Perl XSLT Test Files.zip (3 KB)

All 3 files are also displayed below.



A Perl script which is a slightly modified version of this code from StackOverflow:



An XSLT stylesheet from this post on StackOverflow:



A saved VUE: Visual Understanding Environment concept map file. I had to move the comments formerly at the top (which tell you not to remove them) into a CDATA section near the top, because Perl was complaining about them.


All three files should be in the same folder when you run this command:

perl test-xslt.pl

If that succeeds, the output will be in a newly-created HTML file named test-xslt-perl-script-output.html.

Hopefully soon I'll learn XSLT well enough to figure out how to extract the node text, which is usually the most interesting part of a VUE: Visual Understanding Environment concept map.


Click this link to display the blog comment thread hosted at the Eryss.Com Forum:

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Links: Amazing 3D graphics inside a web browser
Thursday, July 7th, 2016
05:26:30 GMT

Software

Last edited 3:48 AM EDT.

Wow, I've been so out of touch with what web browsers are capable of these days! I guess if I were more of a gamer, I wouldn't have been so behind the times for so long. :-)

I'm also pleasantly surprised at how much of the below works fine (or OK, with some imperfections) in Puppy Linux, now that I have a nice, mostly uncrashy laptop with a decent amount of RAM - my Toughbook CF-C1 with 8 GB of RAM which I got on eBay for less than $200.

I'm also using Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2 and the web browser Pale Moon, version 26.2.2 (x64).

Not everything I tried works, but the below mostly do. Things do get a bit slow and choppy sometimes, but, many things are remarkably smooth, especially if I don't have a lot of other web browser tabs open. And pretty much everything that works at all runs much better than how Second Life runs on my other Toughbook CF-C1 with Windows 7 and only 4 GB of RAM.

I'm extremely impressed!!!!!!!


Warning: If you have a laptop or other battery-powered device, I don't recommend visiting the below pages unless you have your device plugged in, because I'm guessing the software on those pages might quickly use up your battery power.

(Addition, 3:31 AM EDT. Also, watch out for possible overheating. About a half hour ago, I accidentally overheated and crashed my laptop with the "geometry / terrain / fog" three.js example. Before this, the last time I had a crash from overheating was June 14th.)


Behold!

Oimo.js Demo

Dungeon demo from Pixelcodr.com

Quarto game from Pixelcodr.com

Block game from Pixelcodr.com

Livecodelab from sketchPatch.net


Not all of these work on my system:

three.js Examples from threejs.org


I don't even know exactly how all these things were made yet, but if it was just (or primarily) JavaScript, I'm stunned. :-D


This definitely could make a lot of my (or anyone's) projects and websites more exciting. :-D

It would be so fun to have 3D graphics in Astroblahhh Desktop, the Eryss astrology software, or a CMS (content management system, for lack of a better term), or a music service, or my daydream of a JavaScript port of the concept mapping software VUE: Visual Understanding Environment, or a 3D browser for graph databases like OrientDB or Neo4j. And tons of other things.

Wow... :-D


Click this link to display the blog comment thread hosted at the Eryss.Com Forum:

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Now I'm 35; daydreams and plans for the future
Monday, July 4th, 2016
21:48:11 GMT

Software

Yesterday (July 3rd) was my birthday. So now, I'm 35, and I still haven't really gotten my life together yet. :-)

But fortunately, I already mourned the possibly irretrievable loss of my youth a while back, so, the transition from 34 to 35 isn't a very big deal to me.

And who knows what science, technology and medicine might someday achieve?

Except actually, I think I'd rather reincarnate as a male supermodel than live forever in my current body. :-) So, even if future scientific advances can't save me from old age and death, fine with me, I guess. :-)




Even though I haven't accomplished as much as I would have liked to with my life thus far, I'm glad I at least managed to do as much as I did, despite all my limitations, such as my severe sleep issues, and the various forms of oppression I and my family have had to deal with, some of which I described back in Nov. 2015 on my Self-Help page.

My Puppy Linux Setup Kit, Astroblahhh Desktop, the Eryss astrology software, and the WordsPlatz blogging software are definitely still pretty far from as refined and perfected as I hope they someday will be.

But, hopefully I'm well on my way to creating versions of them (and other things) which will be good enough that I'll hopefully be able to share them without having to feel so sheepish about how flawed they are. :-)


Here's a summary of what I consider my most important not-yet-finished projects, most of which have taken much longer than expected.

Roughly in order of priority, and the possible future chronological order I'm going to work on them:

  1. My temporary top priority is to figure out how to use XSLT to convert my VUE: Visual Understanding Environment concept map data into other formats, so it won't be (somewhat) locked into VUE anymore.

    Lately, I've been relying more on NoteCase and VUE instead of Astroblahhh Desktop, since Astroblahhh Desktop has been in partially-updated disarray ever since last September, and I've been reluctant to even use the VirtualBoxed Windows version of Astroblahhh Desktop anymore, and also have avoided even using the stable-enough Astroblahhh Desktop 2.4, mostly because it needs to run on a web server because I haven't added PHP-GTK and SQLite database capabilities to it yet.

    Astroblahhh Desktop already had some NoteCase-related import capabilities since years ago, though maybe not in a released version until 2015. But nothing related to VUE, yet.


  2. My usual top priority since last January has been Apollia's Puppy Linux Setup Kit 2.0, or APSK 2.0 for short.

    Though I still haven't done a huge amount of work on APSK ever since mid-April. In May and June, my temporary top priorities were to get a new (to me) used laptop on eBay with much more RAM than my former usual laptop, and good batteries, and get it working nicely. That's largely done now - but, that was done mostly by adding new installers to the old version of APSK, not by enhancing the new version of APSK.

    The old APSK is way too cumbersome and annoying to add new stuff to, and it really needs to be redesigned. That was the best I could do at the time I wrote all that stuff (especially since I was in a hurry), but I think I learned a lot since then (Sept. 2014), and can do much better now.

    Another problem is, since I was using a desktop computer instead of a laptop when I built the old APSK, I didn't give as much thought as I should have to making it efficient, instead of redundantly loading a lot of probably mostly unneeded stuff for every single different setup kit script that gets run.


    I'm hoping to build the renovated APSK out of a lot more small, modular, replaceable, separable pieces which could also easily be used with unrelated things.

    For example, my Navig Perl script already can use my Fashionizer library written in Bash. (It can, even though maybe it shouldn't, for efficiency's sake. :-) Even the Fashionizer, which I made as recently as maybe January, February, and/or March of 2016, should probably be split into even smaller separate parts.)


    And I also want to make it possible to customize APSK's behavior by simply editing Hjson text files rather than scripts. (Of course, it will still be possible to edit scripts, but hopefully less necessary.)

    Those Hjson text files will be converted to plain JSON, then the data from them will be read using the marvelous software jq, which is a command-line JSON processor.

    I'm also trying make it far easier to add, relocate, or remove files and scripts in Puppy Setup Kit repos, and make it more easily possible to work with numerous different repos scattered across numerous different disks, without having to waste so much time and energy editing setup kit scripts just to change various things' filepaths simply so the setup kit can find them.

    I accomplished a lot toward all these goals earlier this year, and it really seems like it's all going to work... someday. :-) And I learned a lot from forcing myself to write Bash scripts instead of Perl scripts.


    But I'm actually pretty close to just giving in to the temptation to make PHP a required part of the Puppy Setup Kit, because no matter how much I've tried to force myself to get used to other languages, PHP is still easiest for me and still my favorite.

    Or, I guess I could use PHP to make some working prototypes more quickly and easily than I'm capable of doing with Bash, Perl, or anything else. Then, once I've figured out how to make things work with PHP, maybe I could translate everything into Bash and/or Perl? Or maybe I should just stick with PHP?

    I don't know, but another thing I want is for it to be possible for anyone to use whatever languages they want with the setup kit.

    So, if anyone (like me) wants to use an odd mixture of Bash, Perl, and PHP scripts, or even languages I usually try to avoid, like Python - I want it to be allowed. :-)

    And I even want to keep all old-style Puppy Setup Kit scripts working, but at the very least copy them into the RAM disk and launch them from there instead of a physical disk, to avoid making physical disks do unnecessary work.


  3. Astroblahhh Desktop 2.8 - The relatively modest goal of this version of Astroblahhh Desktop will be to update everything to use Unicode text, so it will finally be possible to store Unicode characters without any problems, instead of just the accidental illusion of no problems.


  4. Astroblahhh Desktop 3.0 - The version of Astroblahhh Desktop which will hopefully be a hybrid web app + command line app + PHP-GTK app. Or at least a web + PHP-GTK app.

    And, now that I finally arrived at the ideas of using Hjson and jq with my Puppy Setup Kit, I think they mght also be useful with Astroblahhh Desktop, and also with my notion of somehow making my Astroblahhh Desktop data compatible with graph databases such as OrientDB or Neo4j, which are far more flexible than MySQL and SQLite.

    But, at the same time, I somehow want to avoid losing compatibility with MySQL and SQLite. If this is too difficult, though, I'll probably just make my graph DB stuff separate from Astroblahhh Desktop, and hopefully give Astroblahhh Desktop some excellent Hjson export capabilities.




With all my past experience with how long my projects (except the tiniest ones) have tended to take, I'm definitely very aware that the above might take quite a bit longer to complete than I hope.

But, I'm going to keep at it anyway. :-) I recently read an amusing blog post that basically said, programmers are the ultimate optimists.

Surprisingly, even for me, that seems true to a great extent, at least with programming. Not so much with anything else - which is why I was surprised to realize that, wow, despite my cynicism about many other things in life, I really have overall tended to be incredibly optimistic about my programming. :-D

Though far from 100% optimistic - which is actually good in various ways, since for one thing, it leaves room for some pleasant surprises when sometimes I get better results than my expectations. (Even though my expectations tend to be quite tentative.)


But I definitely have some logical reasons for optimism - since a lot of the stuff I've already made (both released or not) is remarkably useful, despite its lack of polish.

For example, my blogging software WordsPlatz has served me pretty well with hardly any changes since 2008 or 2009.

And sometimes I get lucky and actually manage to finish things much sooner than I not-altogether-optimistically feared. I feel like I got very lucky with my efforts to get cozy with the GNU Emacs editor, and my effort to modify the multifiles Emacs add-on, which resulted in multifiles-apmod.el. That all only took around two months, but I was bracing myself to spend even more time on them if I really had to.

And GNU Emacs, multifiles-apmod.el, and numerous other great Emacs add-ons have all turned out to be even more wonderful and helpful than I imagined before I started working with them. :-)


So, there's definitely not much chance I'm going to give up on my projects out of a sulky lack of confidence in my abilities. I'm well-aware my work hasn't been flawless, but, I've accomplished much more than I originally had any idea I was capable of.

So, I now feel a lot more sure that regardless of my projects' difficulty, it's quite possibly just a matter of time and enough effort before I finally succeed at most or all of them.


I wish I knew how close I am to having spent at least 10,000 hours doing and studying programming (and related subjects). 10,000 hours is the number mentioned in the intriguing book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell as being the roughly estimated point at which people might have put in enough effort to finally achieve world-class talent.

In any case, I don't think I've achieved world-class talent (yet?). :-) But doubtless I'm a lot closer than I would be if my severe sleep issues hadn't stopped me from being capable of enduring a normal job (which probably wouldn't have been in the field of programming), and I've definitely improved a lot over all these years.

I shudder to think of how much worse my life might have turned out if I had been more capable of forcing myself to stick with my almost minimum-wage part-time job as a copy editor/typist at a small local newspaper (which I barely endured from Nov. 2002 to Jan. 2004), or any other time-wasting probably minimum wage job that would have gotten in the way of me cultivating more valuable skills.




And now, here's a list of some less highly-prioritized projects or daydreams of mine.

  1. New edition(s) of my Eryss astrology software. Already almost 5 years have gone by since I first created the AutoHotkey (AHK) edition of Eryss (which was not yet named that) in Oct. 2011.

    It's so close to releaseable that sometime, I probably ought to just temporarily put everything else aside (despite the fact that all the other stuff seems probably more important), polish it up a little and finally release it.

    Even more than the AHK version, I want a PHP-GTK version, too.

    Or even a hybrid web app + command line app + PHP-GTK version. Actually, since Eryss will probably be a smaller, easier project than Astroblahhh Desktop, and I also want to make a web app + command line app + PHP-GTK version of Astroblahhh Desktop, I might be able to quickly get a better idea of how to build Astroblahhh Desktop by working on Eryss first.

    Maybe that's sufficient justification for me to work on Eryss first?


  2. Sometime, I'd also like to make my own CMS - content management system, for lack of a better term.

    That would make it much easier to update and improve all my websites. I could finally more easily make my websites nicer, more useful, more organized and easily searched, instead of messy, lazy, and cluttered.

    And then, once I also hopefully get some truly great, useful, easy to install and use projects finally completed, perhaps freelance work and/or purchases (if/when I finally get around to creating some sort of products to sell) and/or donations and/or microdonations will just flow to me without me having to make any effort to somehow market myself or seek work?


  3. I guess a smaller, more realistic project than an entire CMS would probably be to just add a few things to my already-existing blogging software WordsPlatz.

    Even just getting rid of the redundant-looking section of Blog Archive links at the upper right and lower right would probably be an improvement.

    I'd also like to automate the addition of a comment section to the bottom of all of my blog posts - an iframe containing each blog post's official comment thread at the Eryss.Com Forum. But, on the other hand, I'm not sure doing anything to popularize either of my forums is the best idea at the moment, since even the nicest, politest forums I ever posted to always tended to stress me out due to my social anxiety.

    I still intend to keep my forums around forever, but I probably am going to continue largely avoiding them (and any other forums I'm tempted to post to) until I finish more of my top projects.


  4. Ohhh, and I almost forgot again about my daydream of building a streaming music interface. Probably most of my other projects are more important, but, I love music, so I guess there's always a chance I might really do this. It will probably involve the MusicBrainz music metadata database somehow, and/or MediaNet's Open API.




And here are some things I've scarcely even started working on yet, but which might become higher priorities at some point.


I could go on and on, but, that's already a ton of stuff. :-)

So, I definitely have plenty to keep me busy. And who knows what random cool new (or new to me) things I'll hear about in the future which might inspire me to work on totally different things instead.


Since this blog post is mostly about software-related goals and daydreams, I didn't even mention any of my other even more huge goals, like "End world poverty".

But, I hope somehow all of the above will somehow help with that too.


Even the more frivolous-sounding projects like a streaming music interface and the Eryss astrology software would/will doubtless help me become a better programmer and make it possible for me to do a better job with all of my other projects too.

And music definitely usually helps my productivity and ability to concentrate.

And, as explained in this old blog post, astrology (among various other things) played a significant part in me becoming more agnostic and hopeful, and less depressed, close-minded and cynical. So, maybe that could help other people too, even though astrology is usually considered a frivolous subject.

And I'm still very curious about whether any part of astrology can be proven to have objective validity, so I'll be quite happy if my software will help scientists, skeptics, and any other curious people to investigate astrology.


Thanks again to everyone for all your kind support of any kind!

I hope this blog post was interesting, thought-provoking, and educational, and that I can get at least some of the above done well in a reasonable amount of time, so hopefully I'll have many more (and hopefully increasingly high-quality) things to share with you all in the future.

Also, Happy Independence Day!

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