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Learning Log, Nov 2023

Luckily for Seattleites, the SAM has a Hokusai exhibit going on through end of January. Something that really surprised me is how small the famous wave block print is: it was slightly larger than a legal sized piece of paper.

A wood block print of a great tsunami rising up in front of two long boats manned by comparatively small people. Mt Fuji rises far off in the distant background. The block print is in a simple wooden frame.
The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai, 1831

I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised by this—it’s a wood block print after all—but I have in other cases gawked at some pretty massive prints. It’s fascinating to me though how much other art was inspired by this one small piece, which itself is actually from a series of prints featuring Mt. Fuji, not the way itself.

Anyway, I shared this in an art Discord and wondered aloud if anyone has ever seen a piece of work that was larger than they expected. Someone responded with a painting of Napoleon, which I find quite funny given his infamously short stature.

In further surprises: there was also an Alexander Calder exhibit on, and I found I quite like his mobiles and sculptures.

A large metal sculpture fills much of a room. Its base is a bright cherry red tripod shape. From the top sprouts a series of antennae with large yellow, black, and white paddles on the ends. There is something about the structure that references the circus.
At the other end of the scale, this Calder sculpture was huge

His work didn’t really resonate with me when I first learned about Calder in college/art school. I suppose it is better witnessed first-hand.

A small, black, metal mouse with enormous whiskers curling upwards. The whiskers are as tall as its body, giving this sculpture twice the height overall.
Would you just look at this mouse’s whiskers?! How charming!

🧶 Crafting

  • Finished making swatch cards for all my art supplies.
  • Finished a small tapestry that I have not posted about yet, since it’s a gift.
  • Decided I wasn’t motivated enough to take the next step in my skirt sewing project and set it down for now. That feels a lot like “giving up”, but I’m proud of myself for sticking a pin (hehe) in a hobby project that isn’t sparking joy right now.
  • Started learning the Magic Loop method for knitting in the round, so that I can start knitting socks. Now THIS feels fun!! ✨

🌱 Digital Gardening

This site

  • Updated a couple pages to look nicer on tablet-ish breakpoints.
  • Happened to fix a bunch of dark mode issues on the evening of a new moon. Coincidence or lunar magic??? 🌑✨
    • Fixed a dark mode visual bug on the Product page.
    • Fixed a weird galaxy brain thing where I had two different image treatments for my hobbies depending on whether “dark mode” was picked up by the system or via the theme preference in my footer.
    • Also fixed the little quilt SVG on my home page looking “weird” in dark mode. I thought for the longest time it was a mobile Safari rendering issue. The root cause was me messing with image opacity in dark mode, without overriding that treatment for this special case.
  • Fixed <pre> elements in blog posts causing funky rendering issues on narrow breakpoints.
  • Tweaked a project’s thumbnails so that the SVGs render better.
  • Made the little red rectangle in my header slightly narrower on narrow breakpoints.
  • Fixed a minor rendering issue with the theme switcher in Webkit/Safari.

I’m now clean on open issues for my personal website! 🎉 Worth noting that I’ve closed issues in the past because they weren’t important to me anymore. I’m sure I’ll find new opportunities; this is the nature of digital gardening.

What is this strange feeling?

…10 minutes later, I realized I was clean on all digital gardening issues?? This lasted about 2 weeks, and then I found more opportunities on my product resources site.

Product resources

  • Put the category navigation in details/summary elements and expanded the navigation on page load for tablet-ish breakpoints and above. I could get fancier with this, but I’m just trying to provide a reasonable default and then let the visitor decide if they want category navigation opened or closed.
  • Removed all “format” labels except for the “Book” format, as that’s really the only one that felt special enough to label for now.
  • Added a “paywall” label for articles available to paid subscribers only.
  • Linked up my tech stack in the colophon.
  • Made descriptions a little less prominent.


I read 6 books. My favorite was “The Way Through the Woods” by Long Litt Woon (4/5 stars).

Tending the Reader garden

I sent in a feature request for Reader by Readwise to automatically tag particular news sources, in order to populate views without having to do manual tagging labor. In the meantime I rebuilt my custom views by…

  1. Going to “Manage feeds”, selecting a bunch of RSS feeds, and adding them to a new view.
  2. Next: querying for category:email in a temporary view, copying the author names of various subscriptions, and dropping an author:"Chauncey Peppertooth" OR clause into a view query. This second one feels fairly brittle because author names are not APIs; they can change and it won’t be obvious my views aren’t catching these email newsletters anymore. Will be cool if they could build some UI around this as with “Manage feeds”. Readwise does seem to be investing in better query UI.

I do love the Reader app. Being able to get a mix of my RSS feeds and newsletter subscriptions in the same place is *chef’s kiss*.



Work & Productivity

Journaling & Stationery

Fiber Crafts


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  • Reply from Charlie ⚡️ on

    @melanie i am always amazed you find time to read
  • Reply from Melanie Richards on

    @charliewilco hehe well, I don’t have particularly high life demands outside of work. And I like reading more than watching TV; they feel like similar activities to me but I can’t sit still very long for screen watching.