Today I’m taking my family to Boston for a short trip. We are excited. My wife and I went to college near Boston and have fond memories of the city.

My son and I are sick for the second time since school started. No one liked wearing a facemask last year but I didn’t catch a cold or COVID until my son stopped wearing his.

For the first time in about 15 years I am no long a customer of Verizon Wireless. My family is living the MVNO life. I hope it works out, but I get the impression that, because eSims make switching quick and easy, we can always switch carriers again if we need to.

Upgrade+ from Best Buy sounds incredible. It is tempting me to buy a MacBook that I really can’t afford right now—but could easily afford if paid for over the next three years. 😅 That’s dangerous.

Python 3.11

I have been looking forward to the Python 3.11 release all month and it is finally here. It wasn’t released early enough for me to install it at work this morning, though. I’m eager to see how much performance has improved. I’m also looking forward to better error messages and the Self type hint for class factory methods.

Tonight I signed up for wireless service through Tello. I will test it alongside Verizon Wireless (via my iPhone’s eSim) for a short time and see how well it goes. I wanted to try Mint, but I need monthly billing for expense reimbursement through work. I almost signed up for Visible but their poor customer service scares me.

🎵 Taylor Swift Releases 7 New Songs Just Hours After New Album Midnights: Listen. Taylor Swift is crazy, y’all.

Here’s a game for a Big Data nerd like me: Is it Pokemon or Big Data?. Very (ok, somewhat) funny and informative.

I received a small windfall today in the form of a prepaid virtual prepaid card, which is quite difficult to spend vs., say, money in my bank account. My office offers the same thing for spot rewards, and even the U.S. government used this scheme for one of the COVID payments last year.

I wasted an hour trying to get it added to my Apple Wallet so I could actually spend it, before I gave up (because it would not work) and requested a plastic card, for a small fee, to be mailed to me weeks from now. The whole thing seems like a scam. How hard is it to send people checks?

I hate it how I can no longer call a doctor’s office and get ahold of a person. The online MyChart sites that all my doctors have are not a good enough replacement for a person who answers the phone.

🎵 Who else is looking forward to Taylor Swift’s new album? My daughter and I are anxiously awaiting its release tomorrow.

It amuses me that the tech pundits seem to hate Apple’s latest iPad and iPad Pro updates.

The Excel gods have not been smiling on me this evening. I can’t get two different worksheets merged the way I want to, which is without requiring my users having to do anything other than click “Refresh all Queries.” It isn’t working. Poor data quality seems to be the culprit.

Did you know you that, in Windows 10’s File Explorer, you can easily copy a file’s full path to the clipboard? You right-click it while the Shift key is down, and select the “Copy as path” item from the context menu, which otherwise isn’t there. 🤯

I think that widescreen 16:9 presentation slides look worse than 3:2 ones. Text gets too wide to read comfortably. Some people divide their slides into two areas side-by-side, like they are two slides in one, which also isn’t good. Those are too busy, I think.

The once and future lawnmowing man

My monthly “don’t have a lawn that embarrasses me” budget has increased dramatically over the past few years. It has gone from a good buy (about $30/week) to eye-wateringly expensive (a little over $100/week). Part of the increase is that we changed lawn services from a company that did a poor job to one that did a good job. I have tried to shop around for a cheaper, but still good, service, but haven’t found one yet. My wife doesn’t want us to revert back to the old, not-so-good lawn service we used to use. Even if we did, I’m sure we would get a much higher rate than we used to, because prices have increased all around.

Since this summer, I have been bandying about the idea of mowing my own lawn again (it’s been 10 years since I last did, when my mower broke). This week I decided that, by next spring, I will buy a good electric mower and make time to mow my own lawn each week. Despite having to buy a mower, which could cost $700-$800, I wills till save hundreds of dollars per month for a relatively small amount of my time.

It’s true that I won’t be able do as good a job as the service does with edging and weeding, but I don’t care. I will also have to figure out how to buy and use herbicide, which is the main secret to a non-embarrassing lawn in my area; I think I can do it. It will feel good to know that I am saving money. I also think it will feel good—most weeks, at least—to get a little more sunshine and exercise each week.

It is stupefying to me that Apple’s new low-end iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil and requires a special adapter to pair and charge it. Who thought that would be a good idea?

📚 Greenlights

I read Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey last night. I picked it because it was the first nonfiction book I found in Libby that I thought would be fun to read on a quiet night. I first heard about the book from an interview McConaughey did with Bill Maher where I initially thought Maher didn’t like him. I am a fan of McConaughey’s acting and his positive attitude, though i am not always sure if he really has a coherent philosophy. (This book didn’t help in that regard.)

The book contains some entertaining stories, including his stint in Australia, but my overall impression is that McConaughey led a charmed life, thanks in large part to being handsome and lucky in his youth, and rich and famous in his middle age. His book emits, elides, or spins into positive any negative experiences he had in his life, which is his point about “red” and “yellow lights” becoming “greenlights”, but it does leave a shallower impression of who he is and what he has learned from life.

I started using https://hckrnews.com to browse Hacker News in a less redundant way. It collects the stories that reach the front page of Hacker News and groups them by day. Each story shows up once and doesn’t move around, so it takes a lot less time to browse.

I finally changed over my personal email address to use iCloud. That will save me $20/year on my Hover.com bill and give me an excuse to use my iCloud email account, which has been checked fruitlessly by Apple Mail for many years.

Blah

I stopped writing blog posts a couple months ago for no reason whatsoever. It has been very hard to get back into the habit of posting something regularly.

I have not lost interest in blogging. Something stranger has happened: I have lost interest in myself. I don’t completely know why.

I am not overly depressed or anything—just maxed out. My general feeling about the past couple months has been that I have put in more effort, and reaped fewer rewards for that effort, than I have in years.

I have some light reading tonight: Polars User Guide. I basically hate Pandas’s API and hope to use something more nicely designed, and a heck of a lot faster, instead.

📺 I finished watching Slow Horses Season 1 tonight. I loved it and can’t wait for Season 2. I’m wondering if I would like the books that the show is based on. I also wonder if it will get more than two seasons.

I’m uninstalling Visual Studio from my work computer. It feels weird to do it, but I haven’t used it in years. Visual Studio Code killed it for me.

Is there no good and fast way to create an ETL job in Python?

I love using PETL to read, transform, and validate datasets. Its API is simple and straightforward to use, and its documentation, while not perfect, is really good. Unfortunately, PETL’s data processing—especially loading data into SQL Server—is very slow—to the point of being completely unusable for anything but the smallest datasets.

Odo promises to be much faster at data loads, and seems dead-simple to use, but I cannot get it to work. It turns out that the package hasn’t been updated in five years, which is why it will not work with the modern Python version I am using. I just wasted an hour on it and will probably give it up completely.

I can’t find any other ETL tools that will do the data load for me. I have to rely on the SQL Server Import/Export Wizard, which usually works and is fast but is a one-shot thing because I don’t have SQL Server Integration Services at my disposal.

I suppose I will either have to fork Odo, get it working, and figure out how to get my fork of Odo into my project, or I will have to write my own import routine using SQL Alchemy. Both seem difficult to me and not worth the trouble. I’m not the database administrator on my project—I’m supposed to be the data analyst!