A reading list for 2018, with many thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy

Instagram picture announcing the 2018 Reading Challenge
The 2018 Reading Challenge. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bcr_rqVlYpZ/?taken-by=annebogel

“I should read more” “I should read that” “I should have already read that” So many shoulds- how effective are they? I’m aware of the punitive and unfun nature of “shoulds.” It doesn’t matter if they’re well-meaning, would be beneficial, and/or just need to happen. A “should” is both an impetus and a stalling mechanism. You should but you aren’twhat’s stopping you?

For me lists help. They help by providing a path, momentum, progress, and other intangibles. Along those lines and with many thanks to the Modern Mrs. Darcy, I’ll be participating in the 2018 Reading Challenge, which you can join: here

Share your picks and follow along using these hashtags by @annebogel: #IdRatherBeReading, #MMDchallenge, and #MMDreading 

I had a lot of fun looking for books for each category and I encourage you to make your own list. Along those lines, I thought of six more categories- that would bring the total to 18 books in 2018, if you like.

The 2018 Reading Challenge categories are:
1. A classic you’ve been meaning to read:
2. A book recommended by someone with great taste:
3. A book in translation:
4. A book nominated for an award in 2018:
To find this pick I used: This Twitter search
5. A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection:
6. A book you can read in a day:
7. A book that’s more than 500 pages:
8. A book by a favorite author:
9. A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller: (I’m broadening this to include “recommended by a podcast host”)
10. A banned book:
To find this pick I used: This Wikipedia resource
11. A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction:
12. A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own:

My additional category prompts are:
13. A book about a talent you admire- For example, drumming, photography, dance- (and a strong nudge to try it yourself).
14. An illustrated book- Extra credit move: pick a page from it and make your own drawing, post it to Twitter, thank the artist, and include a link so that others can buy the book.
15. A book that addresses a source of pain connected to your family- For example, understanding dysfunction, abandonment, alcoholism- How would you benefit from acknowledging something and being reminded that you’re not alone in your experience?
16. A cookbook- Yes, read it. Don’t just look at the pictures, don’t cherry-pick the easy bits, read it the whole way through- look at how it’s organized, the steps and the tips, what ingredients are included, how times in life are connected to certain foods- festive desserts, refreshing breakfasts, nourishing lunches, and more.
17. A book written before 1500- Extra credit move- who translated it? What can you learn about them? Their context, motivations, strengths, and restrictions?
Stumped? Check out: This GoodReads link here
18. A book you’re embarrassed to admit you want to read- Whatever you are intrigued by but also consider cheesy- be it self-help, young adult fiction, romance novel- whatever! Life is too short to only stick to the Great Classical Works of Yore.

Here are the books I’ll be reading this year, using the prompt list from the wonderful Modern Mrs. Darcy to start and adding 6 more of my own to bring it to 18 in 2018:

  1. A classic you’ve been meaning to read:
    Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, Gia-Fu Feng (Specifically the translation by Ursula K Le Guin yassss)
  2. A book recommended by someone with great taste:
    The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2), Brandon Sanderson
  3. A book in translation:
    Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation Ken Liu (Editor, Translator), Chen Qiufan, Xia Jia, Ma Boyong, Hao Jingfang, Tang Fei, Cheng Jingbo, Liu Cixin
  4. A book nominated for an award in 2018: To find this pick I used: This Twitter search and picked
    Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist, Jess Keating
  5. A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection:
    My Dearest Hurricane: Love and Things that Looked like It, Morgan Nikola-Wren
  6. A book you can read in a day:
    The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, Joshua Becker
  7. A book that’s more than 500 pages:
    Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
  8. A book by a favorite author:
    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander (Pseudonym), J.K. Rowling, Albus Dumbledore (Foreword)
  9. A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller: (I’m broadening this to include “recommended in a podcast”)
    The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness, Bari Tessler
  10. A banned book: To find this pick I used: This Wikipedia resource and choose
    The Lottery, Shirley Jackson
  11. A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction:
    Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling
  12. A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own:
    Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
  13. My additional category choices are:

  14. A book about a talent you admire:
    Ice Skating Basics, Aaron Foeste
  15. An illustrated book:
    Flotsam, David Wiesner
  16. A book that addresses a source of pain connected to your family:
    Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You, Susan Forward, Donna Frazier
  17. A cookbook:
    The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory–More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Wizards and Non-Wizards Alike, Dinah Bucholz
  18. A book written before 1500:
    The Odyssey, Homer, specifically the new translation by Emily Wilson
  19. A book you’re embarrassed to admit you want to read:
    The Adventures of Samurai Cat, Mark E. Rogers

Well, those are my picks! Read what you want, enjoy what you read, and have an excellent 2018~

and buy this book- doesn’t it look great?

SharkLady book
The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist. Written by Jess Keating, illustrated by‎ Marta Alvarez Miguens

Latin phrases for iPod, iPad, et cetera

Raphael's "School of Athens" 1511
Raphael’s “School of Athens,” 1511

This started pre-iPhone. I was training for the Philadelphia Marathon and my first iPod wasn’t keeping up (I do still have it though). Apple had just come out with a new version of the iPod Nano, and as I was building my order, I noticed something interesting- an offer for free engraving of my purchase.

This is a service Apple still offers for iPads and iPods, here. With Glowforge, you can do it yourself. There are rumors that Apple will begin offering Watch engraving as a free service in the future, and there are third party companies that will happily engrave your iPhone, Mac, and more:

On Apple’s site, the free engraving perk is presented as a way to personalize a gift you’ll be giving to someone else. “I can never repay you, but here’s a start” says one iPad in their example roundup.

But, what if you’re buying something for yourself? I like the idea of personalizing something that you’ve worked hard for and will use every day. I used to name all my major tech purchases after major exhibitions, as a way to commemorate and pay homage to a lot of hard work. For example, I have a laptop named Van Gogh.

So, what to engrave? Latin has a lot of similarities to code. It’s alternately blunt and subtle. The personalities of author, translator, coder, and student invariably come through, as there are often multiple ways to say something, and even more ways to interpret it. Like Fortran, it’s an old language, but also one that’s all around us: alias, alibi, bona fide, veto, et cetera. Latin is often succinct, sometimes tongue-in-cheek (I especially liked the self-referential lines, like “Multum in parvo,” “Much in a small space), and individualizes your device. I also liked finding phrases that might refer to what one is reading, and/or musical tastes, and phrases that were encouraging and acknowledged hard work.

So, here’s the list I made:

Latin Translation Attribution/notes
Aude sapere Dare to be wise
Cave ab homine unius libri Beware the man of one book
Citius Altius Fortius Faster, higher, stronger Modern Olympics motto
De gustibus non est disputandum There’s no accounting for taste
Decies repetita placebit Though ten times repeated, it will continue to please Horace
Deus ex machina God out of a machine
Dimidium facti qui coepit habet He who makes a start has half the work done Horace, Epistles, Book I, Ep. 2
Docendo discimus We learn by teaching Seneca, Letters to Lucilius, Book I, letter 7, section 8
Dulce et utile A sweet and useful (thing) Horace, Ars Poetica
Dulcius ex asperis Sweeter after difficulties Scottish clan Fergusson’s motto
Dum spiro spero While I breathe, I hope Attributed to Theocritus and Cicero
Fac et spera Do and hope Scottish clan Matheson’s motto
Fac fortia et patere Do brave deeds and endure Motto of Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, Australia
Factis ut credam facis Deeds, then I may believe you- trust actions, not words
Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo Gently in manner, firm in action Acquaviva, Industriae ad curandos animae morbos
Fortitudine vincimus By endurance we conquer Shackelton’s motto
Humani nihil alienum Nothing human is foreign to me Terentius Afer, Heauton Timorumenos
Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need Cicero
Imperare sibi maximum imperium est To rule yourself is the ultimate power Seneca
In nocte consilium The night brings counsel
In spe In hope
Labor omnia vincit Hard work conqures all Virgil, Georgics
Lex malla, lex nulla A bad law is no law St. Thomas Aquinas
Loquitur (loq.) He/she speaks
Male parta male dilabuntur What has been wrongly gained is wrongly lost. (Ill-gotten gains seldom prosper.) Cicero, Philippics, 2.66
Multum in parvo Much in a small space
Musica delenit bestiam feram Music soothes the savage beast
Otium sine litteris mors est Leisure without literature is death Seneca, Letters to Lucilius
Per angusta ad augusta Through difficulties to honors
Post proelia praemia After the battles, the prizes
Res ipsa loquitur The thing itself speaks- tort law Cicero, Pro Tito Annio Milone ad iudicem oratio
Res mihi suppetit I have abundance to say
Ubi spiritus est cantus est Where there is spirit there is song
Ubicumque homo est, ibi beneficio locus est Wherever there is man, there is a place for kindness Seneca
Veritatem Dilexi I delight in the truth Bryn Mawr College motto

The above is my list, culled from multiple books and sites over the years. If you’ve read through this and are still looking for your best Latin phrase, I recommend: List of Latin phrases (Full), Wikipedia

And for even MORE bon mots take a look at: WikiQuote’s Latin Proverbs and The Quotations Page

Airtable, APIs, and thinking through a problem

“What is an API?” “It’s an application programming interface.” “…. oh, okay, … thank you…”

Sometimes the answer to a question doesn’t supply an actual answer. APIs are a good example- the name is an acronym, and the acronym uses specific terms that make sense in an industry, but might not translate to a digestible concept for the person posing the question.

“What is an API?” I had heard the term for a while, but wanted to understand more. At the same time, I was getting ready to go to Abstractions, a conference in Pittsburgh, PA.

Abstractions looked amazing! I was thrilled with the talk descriptions, the code of conduct, the transparent privacy policy, generous scholarship program, original art specific to the event, and more. Couldn’t wait for it to start! As I started looking at the schedule, I noticed something- the schedule didn’t render well on a browser. Talks were all in distinct blocks, and the blocks sometimes didn’t all fit on one row, meaning that you couldn’t see everything happening at one time on one row. Talks were also broken up by location first, not time first, so again, you couldn’t see what was happening at the same time.

Other people pointed this out as well on the conference Slack channel. The conference organizers, embedded in schedule-details for the past several months, didn’t see the difficulty people were experiencing, and in the heady, final days before an event, most likely had a few other things to do.

I wanted a conference schedule that I could sort and filter, and I wanted to be able to add keywords to talks so I could see what was on the docket for open source, art, various languages, and more.

Okay. So. 1. Excited about a conference 2. Wanted to plan my time well 3. Schedule wasn’t helping as well as it could

What to do? I had the information- but I needed it to listen to my needs. This is what an API is. In many cases it’s a tool, some form of software, but at its core an API is a series of decisions that connects information to action in a way that’s beneficial and transformative.

I can’t say enough good things about the conference organizers. They were completely fantastic- forward thinking, responsive to attendees, endlessly on-point with a thousand event-planning details, and they built something incredible in Pittsburgh. One awesome thing they did was provide the conference schedule information as a pure JSON file in addition to their formatted version of the schedule.

What is a JSON file? Another term I had heard, and even used in conversation, maybe the same way someone would talk about a vegetable even though they’ve never cooked with it. “Ah, the celeriac root! Yes, what a great…. root.”

Okay. So now we’re at: 1. Excited about a conference 2. Wanted to plan my time well 3. Schedule wasn’t helping as well as it could 4. Had a JSON file

From there my Google path was “What is JSON” ➡️“JSON visualization” (apparently not a thing/hard) ➡️“data visualization for schedules” (also apparently not a thing) ➡️lots of variations on that phrase, which mostly netted me schedules for data viz conference (which were terrible) ➡️listening to the most recent CodeNewbies podcast, which had a shoutout for Airtable ➡️Airtable ➡️“JSON and Airtable” ➡️“how to convert JSON to CSV”➡️ download CSV ➡️upload to Airtable ➡️tweak, add keyword content and “I’m new to coding” suggested talks track as a tag,➡️review ➡️share on conference Slack.

Here it is!

Here’s what you can do with it: sort by any column, search, filter, download a CSV, make your own copy and add other columns/fields (like a priority column, for example), and print. Links are active; you can make a Twitter list of speakers, check out their websites. Sort by suggested audience level, filter to only see organizer Justin’s recommendations for an “I’m new to coding” track, sort/filter by keywords.

Keywords was the feature I most wanted- I pulled them from the talk descriptions. You can see everything JavaScript, any other specific language, etc. In some ways, every talk could be tagged as “Best Practices” or “Career Development.” Same for terms like “software,” “coding,” or “tech.” With that in mind, I tried to tag for what stood out.

I shared it, people liked it and were appreciative, and the conference organizers ended up using it to plan speaker-emcee assignments. Things to figure out to do for next time- 1. Make it sync live with the JSON file the conference organizers hosted online (hmmm sounds like an API!), 2. Fix special characters.

So, API, JSON file, celeriac root.

API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it’s a series of decisions that connects information to action in a way that’s beneficial and transformative. JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation. It’s a lightweight file that allows you to structure data in a way that can be read by web applications and/or converted to CSV for further data-wrangling. And celeriac root is a variety of celery that grows wild in the Mediterranean Basin and Northern Europe, that tastes amazing roasted, in soups, and in the French salad celerie remoulade.

And Airtable is great.

And more conferences should share their schedule information as JSON files.

Thanks Abstractions team! You put on a wonderful event, I had an amazing time and learned a lot, and THERE WERE DOGS.