Weeknotes #98

in weeknotes

  • I got the visa extension application submitted on Monday but it wasn’t without a fair amount of stress. It’s embarrassing to admit publicly but I actually went all the way down to the Immigration Services Agency office (about an hour and a half from our place by a combination of trains and buses) and stood around for an hour waiting for my turn to enter the building (COVID-19 protocols) before realising that I didn’t have my passport with me. I then commenced my second mad dash of this entire process. I grabbed a car sharing vehicle from a parking station close to the office and started the round-trip with the aim of returning before 4 pm. As time-consuming as that was going to be, it shouldn’t have been a problem until, in my haste, I entered the wrong address and didn’t notice until I’d arrived at said address. I did eventually make it but not before I had to drive the wrong way down what appeared to be a one-way street to return the car in a torrential downpour. Now I wait.

  • The Omicron variant is circulating and it doesn’t look good (Noah Smith). This is really too bad because I’d started to become more optimistic after another week of low detected cases in Japan.

  • Have you ever wondered what the ‘H’ and ‘B’ in ‘HB pencil’ stand for? It’s rare these days that a question like that isn’t easy fodder for a search engine but I couldn’t find an answer in which I had much confidence. If you do a search, you’ll most likely find webpages (e.g. here and here) explaining that ‘H’ stands for ‘hardness’ and ‘B’ stands for ‘blackness’. The problem I have with this explanation is that I don’t think it makes sense. ‘H’ and ‘B’ seem to clearly be attributes on a spectrum and I don’t understand why a pencil manufacturer would have named the ends of such a spectrum ‘hardness’ and ‘blackness’. Why ‘blackness’ and not the obvious ‘softness’? This makes me think that ‘H’ and ‘B’ are from a language other than English and this is the abbreviation equivalent of a backronym.

  • So is it from another language? The first thing I found claimed that it’s French, with ‘H’ standing for ‘haut’ (meaning ‘high’) and ‘B’ standing for ‘bas’ (meaning ‘low’). In this telling, the high and the low refer to the amount of binding agent in the pencil. The higher the binding agent, the harder the pencil and the less graphite is deposited in a stroke. The lower the binding agent, the reverse. This makes a whole lot of sense but I could find literally no other webpage on Planet Earth that claimed this and so as appealing as it was, it felt like perhaps the French equivalent of a backronym.

  • The second thing I found was from Wikipedia. It claims that Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth, the company that is credited with inventing the modern pencil, chose the letters arbitrarily. ‘H’ was selected in honour of the company’s founder, Joseph Hardtmuth, and ‘B’ was selected because the company was located in Budějovice. This seems possible but has the same problem as the French explanation: other than the company webpage linked to by Wikipedia, nobody else supports this claim. So despite all that, I’m stuck where I started and still not sure.

  • It consumed a large portion of the weekend but I pushed an initial implementation of Jeep to GitHub. Jeep is an alternative to Janet’s default package manger, JPM. JPM is very capable but it has a few limitations that frustrate me and Jeep is my attempt at making something that works exactly the way I want. In particular, it includes a netrepl server that works great with Conjure, the Neovim plug-in that (ahem) has solid support for Janet.

  • I got around to watching No Time to Die, the final Daniel Craig James Bond film. It’s better than Spectre but I think is weighed down by all the baggage that movie dumped on the series. This sounds harsher than I mean it to, but the most enjoyable part of the film was the anticipation I had once it ended of a new take on the James Bond character. Let’s check back in a couple of years to see if that was woefully misplaced.

  • I watched the third and fourth episodes of Wheel of Time and it was a mixed bag. The third episode was so much better than the first two that I was ready to forget all my concerns. The fourth episode didn’t undo all of that but it did establish the writing is not at the same level as other premium streaming shows I’ve watched.

  • Oh, and we put up the Christmas tree on the weekend given Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent. I generally prefer to wait until December to do anything Christmas-related but the kids have been excited for weeks now about putting the tree up so it was difficult to say no to that. Of course, I put on the Holiday Cocktail Party (Apple Music).

Michael Camilleri @pyrmont