Week 14, 2024

My son has finally traveled to Japan last Monday.

His flight took off from the Terminal 3 in Guarulhos International Airport at around 2 PM, and the previous hours before the take off were filled with emotion. He was very anxious. So much that one could cut his anxiety with a knife if they wanted to. I totally understand that sensation: his trip, after all, represents the crowning, the award after all the effort he’s put into studying Japanese, taking test after test and conquering a spot among those awarded with the so dreamed MEXT scholarship.

As for the three of us who remain in Brazilian lands, there was plenty of emotion, too. His younger brother, accustomed to playing soccer, video games and to do pretty much a lot of things along with him, took his 10 extra seconds standing at the fence which separates the passengers-only area (past the boarding gate) from the general air terminal area, looking to the exact point where my son turned, carrying his luggage and disappearing into the boarding area, as if picturing that moment in his mind.

When I asked him why he took 10 or so extra seconds there, he was succinct: “I was reflecting”. And when I asked him about what, he said it was private. To which I answered we’d have time to miss him together, as a family. We then traveled back home to be greeted with signs of his absence. I know the situation isn’t supposed to be sad, and all, but come on… no parents that I’ve ever met ever knew about a manual for such situations… besides, everyone absorbs such occasions differently. It was a little hard and it took me some time until I could finally process neither of us has lost him. It is only that his (adult) life is now beginning, and ours goes on.

The flight to Japan, which was a two-part trip first coming from São Paulo to Paris, and three hours later, from Paris to Tokyo, took two different planes and around 23 hours to complete. During those hours I followed what I could using the Flight Radar app, instantly downloaded by me as soon as I knew he’d be on air. And during that same time all we had from him were short “I landed” and “I’m about to take off again” messages — as he was to buy a SIM card only by the time he landed in Japan.

I admit that for someone like me, used to talking to my son all the time, going through such long blackout hours was a challenge. We could only talk more properly, yet not yet perfectly with him some 3 to 5 hours later, when he took a taxi and got to the college campus. This means that I felt downhearted during most of Tuesday — and it just wasn’t worse because I decided to grab my gear and go to work at the office. Many people who work with me were aware of my son’s trip and knew he was about to travel, so I got surrounded by reassuring comments and by people who, also being parents themselves, knew quite well how I could be feeling. Even if none of them ends up reading these notes, I must acknowledge their caring and support. It made my day so smoother and easier to put up with while waiting for the blackout to end. Thank you. 🙏

The first picture my son sent us was from the airplane finger, where we saw the lettering in one of the several buildings at the Haneda Airport. It was so nice to talk to him again, some more pictures later, and check he was fine.

No lost bags, no apparent jet lag even after a whole day caged in an airplane (how good is it to be 18?). Hundreds of questions from his mother later, we were sure he was both fine and happy. His thrill, his happiness, was also so solid that one could almost grab it in the air.

When we talked to him for the second time, he had already met some college colleagues, and friends he’s been talking with for some months — even years — while still in Brazil. One of them went showing him some places and took him to shop for some basic kitchenware and supplies. He showed us pictures from his apartment and from places like the Tokyo Tower, which he briefly visited with a friend.

We’ve been away for only 5 days, but my heart is much calmer now that we could establish a routine to communicate. I wish him just the best, all the joy and all the luck in this new chapter of his life — as his classes are about to start, just the next Monday.

I have stated before I had paused my Japanese studies. But as my son traveled, I decided it was time to resume doing whatever I can to learn 日本語 (nihongo, Japanese).

As immediate actions, I have download the Maru Kana iOS app, as it’s proven to be a funny way to make me memorize the kana. The problem is I’m a little rusty… the app itself told me so once I popped it open — 7 months since my last practice section, so I’ll have to allow myself some time to catch up.

Also, due to the cherry blossom season in Japan, and its peak in April, I learned about Renshuu Pro’s ongoing sale through the end of the month, and obtained a lifetime subscription of the service, which is also very nice and is, along with Kanshudo, the ones I find more interesting for my Japanese self learning journey. Now, it’s on to study.

Week 13, 2024

I have finished my seventh book of the year — the first volume of The Southern Reach Trilogy, “Annihilation”, which I’ve read it in Brazilian Portuguese, where it’s called “Aniquilação”, a simple, direct translation.

I had never read anything by Jeff VanderMeer before: the only thing I knew about him came from some discussion forums over the internet, where I learned he was a fiction author specializing in fantastical, supernatural and futuristic stories.

Last Monday, while reading another of such forum threads, I saw many users praising this trilogy of his, and, as I was looking for an excuse not to start reading the last volume of the first Dune Trilogy, “Children of Dune”, I decided to dive right into it. The result was much better than I’d ever expect. It took me only 6 days to finish reading the book, and it made me want more. So much so that I have already started the second volume, “Authority”, “Autoridade” in Portuguese.

While I’m talking about books, I’m experimenting with Hardcover.app as an alternative to Literal.club for tracking my reading activities. Why?

Well, I’ve had an account at Hardcover for two years now, but having followed their progress since then, I find it a very nice piece of software, just as much as Literal. But this week, actually, I’ve become a supporter of Hardcover, so I can give some incentive to Adam Fortuna, the fantastic guy behind the app. I feel the app is becoming more polished, and it feels more pleasant to use it. Let’s see how things go over there. If you’re curious and/ or want to connect, I’m @danielsantos there.

My son is (already) departing to Japan this next Monday.

As per his suggestion, we’ve all watched Tim Burton’s 2005 version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, starring Johnny Depp, followed by the newer “Wonka”, filmed in 2023, directed by Paul King and starring Timothée Chalamet.

Although depicting the same main character — “Wonka” is actually the story of how Willy became Wonka — the two movies have very different styles. I could say I liked them both, equally, although it wouldn’t be fair. I like Johnny Depp’s story better than Timothée’s one, maybe because it resembles me of a more normal storytelling. The 2023 film is apparently more childish, and… a musical, a genre I’m honestly not fond of.

But opinions apart, it doesn’t really matter. What mattered was the quality time and memories built with my children and wife. The last couple of movies we’ll be watching together, at least for some time — I look forwards to watching the next one in Japan! 😊

Speaking of last minute arrangements for his trip, by the way, we needed to run in order to have some documents taken care of in the notary public. I’ve also asked our doctor for English translations of some common prescriptions so my son can buy common medicine while in Japan.

Besides these chores, I have also taken my son to the exchange agency, so he could exchange some more Brazilian reais into Japanese yens. I confess that, while doing such things, my mind floated away, as it occurred to me that these are our last activities together for some time.

Man, I do hope everything turn out well during his stay in Japan, and also that time flies so we can join him again as soon as possible.

Week 12, 2024

I finished reading the second Dune Trilogy book, Dune Messiah, in Portuguese. Compared to book one, this was way harder to read and, sometimes, even hard to follow along, at least for me. The story wasn’t so captivating, so I crawled through the book, not being able to actually and properly enjoy it the way I wanted. As I bought the three first books, I started Children of Dune right away (if going through the first screens in an ebook can be considered “starting"). I’m yet not sure I’ll read it right away, though, as I feel my mind could probably use some rest from the Dune universe right now… we’ll see.

After almost 34 hours of gameplay, I can happily say I beat my first Balatro run. And it made me feel so happy I even posted the winning screenshot to my Mastodon profile! Yesssss!

While I played and relentlessly tried to achieve this feat, I gathered a lot of tips from Reddit discussions, Steam threads and even YouTube videos, but I have to be honest. I’m not sure there was a definite “winning strategy” I followed, except for trying to maximize multipliers and chips. In the end there came a blind after which I just felt I was going to win.

I guess finally winning a run also had a great part of luck involved. I mean, despite the almost 34 hours it took me to achieve that, I had played 27 of these last week, meaning that I only added another 7 hours of effort to the pile, as I almost didn’t find the time to play this week. So, I believe I’d have eventually beaten the game sooner or later. Of course, beating it was fantastic, but playing it, regardless of beating the runs or not, remains lots of fun for me.

Speaking of games, I needed to play (way more than a) couple of hours of “Slice & Dice” this week. I bought it about one year ago at itch.io for exact $7, and I didn’t regret it even for a minute. Now, the thing is once I learned it came out on Android, on Steam and on iOS only 3 days ago, I thought it would be nice to support the developer once again — well, actually twice, as I’ve bought myself the Steam and iOS versions.

“Slice & Dice” is another roguelike game (well, I do mean it when I say roguelikes are my favorite game genre). But unlike Balatro, which is a deck builder, “Slice & Dice” is a turn-based tactics game where we control 5 heroes, each represented by a different, unique dice. There are too many game modes to talk about, but in the standard one you basically take your party through 20 rounds, each with different foes to beat.

This game is awesome. Besides its cool 3D dice physics, there are 128 hero classes to choose from or to develop characters into (dev says it can come up to 99999+), 73 monsters to fight, 473 items to modify dice and gameplay, and lots of fun. The iOS version, the only one I’ve been able to play so far, is very loyal to the original version, and kept me glued to the screen for longer than I should have been… 😅

Tomorrow another week starts. As it’s Sunday, I might release my new site version to the public (the one I’ve been building with Soupault). If I really do it, I’ll post news to Mastodon, as it’ll be nice to get some feedback from you guys. Meanwhile, I need to say, once again, how happy I’ve been feeling with the sensation of manually building everything up. 😊

Week 11, 2024

I started this week coughing — a very dry, insisting and strong cough. Allied with two feverish sensations last Sunday and Monday, this was enough to take me to the doctor, so I could see what was happening. I have a long time relationship with chronic sinusitis, and my first thought was that another crisis was on its way.

When I went to the doctor, though, it wasn’t sinusitis. I was immediately relieved on the one hand, but worried on the other. So many diseases around nowadays — COVID and dengue fever, just to repeat two of the ones the doctor mentioned. But in the end, thank God, it was only a (sad) combination of pharyngitis and laryngitis. I came back home with a prescription for common anti-flu medicines, including vitamin C. 10 days of them. In fact, I’m still on these medicines now.

The problem during practically the whole week wasn’t the pharyngitis and laryngitis combination. It was a very strange weakness… it made me feel unwell the whole week, to the point of interfering with my work performance. As the week went on, it insisted on keeping me company, and only on Friday did I feel a little better. And I do hope to keep improving.

We watched Lift, one of the most recent Netflix’s movies, starring Kevin Hart. That wasn’t the best heist movie I have seen, but, contrary to the very bad reviews the movie has on Trakt.tv and the 29% “rotten” Rotten Tomatoesscore, I found the story easy enough to follow and the cast fine too — even Úrsula Corberó, from La Casa de Papel co-starred the movie. Maybe, due to my poor condition this week, it was mindless entertainment that fit well.

I bought myself a copy of Balatro on Steam, this week. Now that I think of it, I had not played a single minute of any game up to this point this year, but this roguelike deckbuilder was different enough to call my attention.

Only hours after its release, it hit $1 million in profit. And in less than 10 days, it sold more than 500,000 copies across Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation. I had to check some YouTubers playing it, and I got hooked — impressive, as I know beans about poker rules, the game on which Balatro gameplay is inspired.

I played the game thinking “ok, I’ll see where this takes me, as I’m not into poker, don’t even know how to play it”, and that I’d spend some minutes on it to see whether it was a keeper or up for a refund. 15 minutes, 30 or 45 tops. But I passed every limit, and, as I write these notes, I’ve already accumulated a little more than 27 hours of game play.

It’s… not poker. It’s a combination of poker sequences (the only thing one needs to know about poker, actually) and a lot of modifier cards that interfere with the score. There are 150 joker cards, each with 5 variations, that can individually change a lot of game elements; the cards can be further changed and enhanced — playing cards and jokers alike — with tarot cards, planet cards and spectral cards, making it very fun to go through 8 rounds of up to three blinds, the way the game calls its rounds. That’s a very nice and addictive game, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you’ve got some spare bucks available, give it a try.

I’m working on a new version of my website. If you visit it right now, while the work isn’t done yet, you’ll see it running on DokuWiki, which I have to say is a very fine piece of software.

But after I came across Soupault, a static website generator that works and directly manipulates HTML element trees, something long asleep woke inside of me. It’s kind of a joy, of a happiness in crafting my site almost manually. Like it was for me with Geocities, like it was when I used Frontpage and Dreamweaver. It’s a very nice sensation!

So, soon™ I may release a completely revamped version of the site, completely static and resembling a home page of kinds, almost like it was in the early web days. It might take some time yet, as I learn more Soupault-fu (and Lua-fu, as Lua is the scripting language from which plugins can be created to extend the tool’s features). All very much interesting, I’m excited!

Week 10, 2024

There’s a belief related to movies that states sequels are never — ok, more like seldom — better than the first movie.

As I keep reading the second book in the first Dune trilogy, I started asking myself whether this is also true for books. That’s because while making progress with Dune Messiah, I wish it had at least half of its predecessor’s pace. The story (at least the way I’ve been feeling it) isn’t as appealing as it was in the first book. There are less chapters and pages though, and while I’m already 15 chapters in — meaning there’s only 10 to go, I do hope things wind up better.

I have taken my son to the Japanese consulate this week again. He delivered his passport and had his student visa attached to it, meaning that from now on he’s officially a Japanese government guest student.

Along with the visa procedures, my son and 19 other scholarship holders remained for the whole afternoon inside the consulate, while former scholarship holders — joined by three current students who connected remotely to a meeting session from Japan — gave out lectures explaining to the 新入生 (しんにゅうせい, or shin’nyūsei, as they call the freshmen in Japan) how their own experiences with the MEXT scholarship have been.

From the students' standpoint, a lot of practical matters were covered: how the college dormitories work, how the Japanese health insurance works, how to spend and save yens (their local currency), how to move around and many things. Now, I knew these orientations would come, but I believed only the consulate employees would speak, so I was positively surprised.

When the orientation sessions came to an end, the consulate even promoted a closing ceremony, followed by a small cocktail, meant to allow all scholarship holders to socialize with each other. During this time my son had the opportunity to talk to a chief judge, part of the Japanese consulate team of advisors. This proved to be very fruitful and interesting, as my son’s going to study Japanese Law. He got several contacts who can talk about their own experiences in college, and this has also made me very happy for my son.

Later, the results of this day trip to São Paulo made their appearance: I felt very tired and sleepy, and it took me quite some time to recover. But, all in all, the mission was accomplished.

Meanwhile, we’re all preparations at home. Clothes, bags, worksheets with estimations regarding my son’s likely expenses in Japan. Even what to do so we can properly communicate with him during his first days… as parents, my wife and I are trying to have everything covered. But there’s always one detail, always something we remember and had not thought about before… and this makes me anxious. I know it won’t be our fault in case we forget one detail, as there are so many that’s impossible to cover all situations… but we’ll try to think of everything 😅

Last week I got a pack of craft beers as the result of my winning one of my city’s radio station’s prize draw. This evening I took the pack to my parents' house so we could taste the beers together.

The cream ale proved interesting, and I just didn’t find it better than it was because it was a tiny bit bitterer than my taste. But, these beers were a prize, a gift after all, so there’s nothing to complain about in the end of the day, right? 😉

I caught a cold. At least, I believe that’s a cold. Sneezes, a running nose and that sensation of moving — and thinking — slower than I’m used to. I guess this is due to my resistance’s lowering: quite many things at work to deal with along with these personal affairs related to my son’s upcoming trip. Gotta take good care of myself… 🙏

Week 09, 2024

Last Monday I had the opportunity to do something I really enjoy, which is mentoring people. There’s a couple of new interns working with us since January, and Monday I was in a remote meeting with them, after they asked me to explain our team’s activities and processes in detail. When the invitation came I felt very honored for being chosen.

Initially, it was supposed to be an one-hour meeting. But we all had some extra time to spare. This gave me the chance not only to speak about our work processes and goals, but also to listen to the girls' questions. Many interesting questions, by the way. It’s so nice to be there for someone who’s new in the job when they have questions… everyone should try that out. After all, everyone needs a lending hand, specially when we’re newcomers, isn’t it?! ☺️

It’s been sometime since I bought a lifetime subscription of Bear Blog, a very simple and lightweight blogging solution that had me from the moment I came across the service. It’s simpler than many of its alternatives, such as Micro.blog, Write.as and Weblog.lol, just to name a few of them I’m familiar with. The only reason that keeps me from using my weblog there is my own… indecision.

You few people who follow my weeknotes and occasional posts already now that I’m always changing my mind in terms of what to do in my web address. I’ve hosted blogs in all three blog services mentioned above here, I’ve hosted a Perl based blog and wiki engine for a little more than a week, a Wordpress blog and (at least now, while I’m writing these notes) a wiki based on Dokuwiki. And, believe me or not, I might still change my mind… 🤦‍♂️

Well… this week, Herman, the one man behind Bear Blog, announced that his service now supports multiple blog creation in the same account. This caused me some itching — the possibilities of being able to create more than one blog at a time, like Write.as allows you to do with their premium subscription, and WriteFreely, which I also tried out in my site, also does, would probably allow me to have a wiki+digital garden combo — something I’ve looked for a long time now, without having found it. The itching came to the point where I redirected my Bear Blog to a subdomain and changed its theming and fonts. I guess it looks nicer now.

To close the Bear Blog chapter in this week’s notes, I found Yee Chie Tu’s approach to implement Mastodon Reactions on Bearblog. All he seems to use is JavaScript, and I confess I’m really tempted to try his solution, as I like the idea of adding webmentions to my site. With some tweaking, I believe, it is probably possible to use the same code with Dokuwiki, for which so far I haven’t found a proper webmention implementation.

Counting from yesterday, March 1st, my son is only one month away from traveling to Japan so he can start his college scholarship. His classes are to start by the second half of April (if I understood it well), and that is the reason his trip was schedule to April 1st. And no, that is not an April Fool’s prank. Besides his plane ticket reservation information, he’s also received a pre-arrival handbook with, I must say, a very organized list of frequently asked questions prepared by the college.

The thing is, this proximity of my son’s imminent departure hit me hard. Here in Brazil there’s this expression, “cair a ficha”, used to express that one finally realizes something really happened — or, in this case, is really going to happen. Like, the penny is dropping. My son’s going away for quite a long time and I’m feeling this strange, mixed sensations of fear, anxiety, happiness for him and sadness for myself, for realizing he won’t be physically near us, all at the same time. But I’ll hang in there. I stand by my point of knowing that this is the best that could be happening to him: after all, he did practically everything on his own: dedicate 3 years of his life to learning the Japanese language; identify the MEXT scholarship; prepare for the tests and interviews; take a JPLT test and reach the top, N1 level. It’s amazing and makes me proud as his father. 😊

I was listening to the radio yesterday, as I usually do when I go pick my (younger) son at school. Around noon there’s this variety show that airs in my favorite station, and, among other things, they usually tell the listeners some curious fact, in pure “did you know”, or “today I learned” fashion. I guess because 2024 is a leap year and we’re just past February 29th, one of the announcers said that, in the eighteenth century, February 30 existed in Europe. However, when her show partner asked her where exactly that was, she said she didn’t know because that information wasn’t written in the text she was reading. And the show went on.

Now, as it usually happens with any radio station, the one I was listening to counts on the participation of its listeners. When I was younger, in a time without internet, this used to happen by having people call in and talk to the announcers live. Nowadays, it mostly happens with people texting in, and sending audio messages through WhatsApp. February 30th existence made me curious to the point of doing a quick Google search about it, from which I found the above linked site.

I wrote two small paragraphs commenting my findings and sent them to the radio station via a WhatsApp text, and mentioned I did that just out of curiosity. Minutes later, the announcers actually read my text on air, and I learned I had just entered their daily prize draw, competing for a pack of their famous craft beer, cleverly named StereoBeer. Which I won! I never win draws, raffles or anything, so that made my day. While I’m writing these notes, I haven’t yet picked up my prize, but I have five workdays time to do so, and I’ll probably drop by the station on Monday…

And to wrap up this week’s notes (impressively longer than I’d expect, to be honest), I’ve gone to the soccer stadium again. This time, instead of watching a São Paulo match, I took my son to watch our city’s local soccer team, São José Esporte Clube, play against Portuguesa Santista, in a match valid for the state’s second division league.

As it happened recently with us in a São Paulo match, this one also finished in a tie, 1x1. I even told my son I’m starting to believe that I can’t go to stadiums to watch games live — they all tie 😂! Regardless of the result, though, it was lovely to take him for this experience, the first time he went to our city’s own stadium, and my return to that place, decades later. He loved the ride and me too.

What a week! I hope yours has been good too, and may we all have a nice week ahead, reserved to us.

Week 08, 2024

I came across a link to Infinite Craft a couple of weeks ago, if I’m not mistaken. By then I saw that it was some kind of building game where you keep combining tiles of text illustrated with emoji, and see such tiles change into other, new tiles. By the way, according to Neal Agarwal, creator of the game, it is virtually endless. The thing is I didn’t give it a second look then. This week, though, I saw my two children playing it — while having lots of fun, and that made me curious, to say the list.

My younger son quickly showed me how to play — you can do it from the desktop or from mobile, and soon enough I was creating my own combinations of pieces, crafting away. I thought I’d be tired of it in no time, but the surprise was I didn’t. I’ve been playing with its combinations for at least three days now! And during that period (having reset the game once this afternoon) I have created gems such as Back to the Future, Minecraft, One Piece — including Luffy and Zoro —, Peter Pan and Wendy, Brazil, anime, manga, Batman and so many more. What’s the real fun? I guess the surprise, the… unexpectedness. That’s been really fun.

We received news from the Japanese consulate. We’ll be once again heading to São Paulo on the first week of March, so my son can have his foreign student visa granted to his passport. There’ll be a small ceremony and a short presentation made by each one of the scholarship holders, my son included, as well. It’s scheduled to be a whole day event, with presentations and visas being granted in the morning and, in the afternoon, an orientation session about the upcoming trip to Japan, with details on how things will wind up from the arrival there on.

Now, I must admit I’m anxious with all of this. Maybe more than my son, who is the one actually traveling, certainly more anxious than my wife. I’m almost biting my nails, and I can’t really explain why or help it. Deep inside, this anxiety apart, I’m only hoping everything turns out well with his time in Japan. I guess I’m secretly desiring we wouldn’t be so far apart as it will be: around 18,500 km (or 11,500 mi). Thankfully we live in an era where everyone’s connected — a video call away. Also, well of course start planning the first visit we’ll be paying to him there.

I paused studying Japanese for some time now. But I’ll resume studying soon enough, so that I can successfully communicate in Japan once we arrive there to visit my son. When I gave it a break I had memorized all of the hiragana, and only part of the katakana. I really don’t know why they’re so difficult for me to learn and memorize… but that’s something I’ll figure out as I move on to next steps in 日本語.

Japanese is undoubtedly filled with challenges for me: despite of my aptitude with languages in general, sometimes I wonder if the way I learned other languages, such as English and French will be effective for Japanese as well. Having mastered English in a time when internet wasn’t a reality and relying on a conventional language school, I started with grammar, mixed with vocabulary, and was little by little immersed in the language. Alphabet was the same, and there were the cognates to be found and ease the way.

With Japanese there’s the kana. This means I’ll first have to master hiragana and katakana — and maybe some kanji, before even thinking about grammar and vocabulary. Seems and sounds scary. But it’s probably going to be fun, as well (or at least I hope so). I intend to self study it, maybe switching to private tutoring or a language school sometime later if needed, so I don’t bust my objective of being able to communicate well in Japan using their native language. We’ll see.

Work has been great this week: interesting and time consuming. I’m pretty satisfied with my achievements and also because I was able to go swimming again. On to making it into a habit I go. I hope the week ahead reserves good things, for you and me.

Week 07, 2024

NOTICE: This is a late weeknote from Week 07, 2024. It was written on Week 08, 2024, due to reasons clarified below.

This week came in bringing a long holiday with it. Carnival is probably the most popular festival taking place in Brazil, with Rio’s Carnival being the biggest in the world, although similar gatherings happen in São Paulo, Salvador, Recife and many more Brazilian cities.

As for me, I don’t like it. Not a bit. It is not my cup of tea to go to the street wearing a costume and/ or make-up and dance to the rythm of samba, pagode and some regional variations of both. I just don’t get it. So, what I usually do is to enjoy my holiday… after all, it is not every day, even in Brazilian standards, that you get to enjoy 5 days off work.

Part of my holiday was dedicated to swimming. Yes, I went to the pool once again and enjoyed a sunny day there, doing some more exercises. Maybe moved by James Clear’s Atomic Habits principle, I’m trying to introduce the tiny change of swimming at least once a week – and I’m sure this will turn into a good habit.

Another part of my Carnival holiday was dedicated to changing things a little bit more in my site. Although I’ve just mentioned that I was learning to tame Ikiwiki, which, by the way, is a totally fantastic tool, I ditched it for the familiarity I have with Dokuwiki. **I know. Apparently, I can never make up my mind.**But I’ve done it again – throwing another site setup into the trash bin – and I’m enjoying it.

What I intend to do in the medium-to-long run is to have a wiki. Maybe a mix of digital garden added to it, accompanied by less blogging (what does NOT mean I’ll be writing less). So far I have already created a place for my weeknotes (that you can safely subscribe to if you want) and am preparing the wiki, which is nowhere near being ready (and no wiki will ever be, truth be told).

I barely read during the holiday. I’m still in Dune book 2, though, and don’t intend to walk out on it (so far). But I came back to watching animes: a bingey amount of One Piece episodes (even knowing that no matter hom many episodes of it I watch, I’ll be always behind my son) and three episodes of the second season of Spy x Family, welcoming back Anya Forger. Loved all of it.

On Saturday I went to São Paulo. With my son’s upcoming trip to Japan due next April, I wanted to do something different with the kids. So we went to the Morumbi Stadium so we could watch our team, São Paulo, play against Red Bull Bragantino, in a match valid for the 2024 Paulistão Championship.

This was not the first time we went to the capital to watch a soccer match. The difference, though, is that my older son had been asking me (for an eternity, I must admit) for us to go and watch a game from one of the stadium’s cabins. Now, the cabin tickets are usually way more expensive (some of them prohibitively way more expensive), but once in a cabin you get earlier access to the game venue and can sit in air conditioning, also enjoying a lot of food: soft drinks, juice, beers, hot dogs, popcorn and several finger foods… oh, and candy for dessert. That was the experience I wanted to allow my son to have before his trip. I didn’t want him to lack the sensation of the experience. And that mission was accomplished.

Now, the reason behind not being able to post this week’s weeknote was exactly this trip I took to São Paulo with the children. I normally reflect and write about my week every Saturday,but the game’s starting time was 18:00 (6PM), and I traveled to São Paulo much earlier, as I’m cautious of driving in the city: everything there is soooo far and takes time to get to. I also parked in a place I had never parked at before (so needed to locate it first) and needed to walk to the stadium once the car was parked. We arrived there and got into the venue at 16:00 (4PM), and enjoyed it a lot. But multiply my walking and driving by two, as I needed to get back home later. This made me arrive home later totally worn out – and in no condition to write these notes by then.

Week 06, 2024

I went to work at the office this week, and wrote about it versus working from home. I don’t want to convince you about what is right or not, too polemic a subject… it was just something I felt like writing about.

Also, I was invited to mentor two of our team’s new interns with a project they were assigned on digital transformation. As this is a tough subject for some to understand in the corporate scene, and they were tasked with creating a transformation scale with which to assess some of our internal departments to determine how near or far they are from transformed, I felt honored to be asked for help. It will be great to put my expertise in process improvement and change management to their service, and, of course, learn along with them.

Finally, I received a LinkedIn endorsement this week which made me very happy. It came from a very special person, one who became a friend and a mentor, and it was so… unexpected. I know people appreciate such things differently, but it caught me by surprise and made my week more special, so I’m very grateful for that.

Went swimming again. Only once, on Tuesday. Although less than I wanted, I’m grateful for having been able to exercise again. Working on it, will focus to go more than once next week.

I’m learning to tame ikiwiki. It is a wiki compiler, meaning it is able to convert wiki pages into HTML pages, suitable for publishing on a website.

More than that, it’s the perfect combination of a wiki and a blog, exactly the reason I chose it to replace WriteFreely as the software behind my main site.

On the one hand, it’ll mean more importing of posts and tidying up, but on the other hand, I’m pretty happy to fiddle with the site and build my vision of what a perfect brain dump would be. I love the freedom a wiki tool as powerful and simple as this can bring me. So much so that, when the time comes, I’m confident I’ll be capable of leaving Micro.blog and a couple of other tools behind, to finally have everything about my online presence centered at the same place.

We have finished the two available From seasons. The show is pretty good, and it makes me happy to see a storyline so complex and filled with mystery as this is. If you check the internet carefully enough, you’ll see that many people have complained about the plot and will allegedly not return for a third season, but to me this is just humans being humans — some of us don’t like complex plots, and others get tired of waiting for answers that never come. Still, this show reminds me of gems like Lost and Dark, both examples of equally complex plots that turned out pretty well. So, yes, I’ll keep watching it, at least for the season to come.

Proof of my fondness for complex plots is that I’m reading Dune. I have advanced a little slower with my reading this week than I had in the previous ones, but I’m pursuing to reach the end of the second novel soon enough. As far as I’ve gone into the book, though, I’ll admit the plot is not as good as it felt in the first book, but maybe it’s just be being human like the “From” critics. Besides, I’m only 6 chapters in, so a lot is to be developed yet, and I’ll say more in later weeks.

Week 05, 2023

While I was on vacations I accident broke one of my teeth. And this week I could finally go to the dentist in order to have it properly treated, a root canal treatment — taking me so many weeks to have it treated because I had to wait for my dentist to get back from her own vacations.

Work has developed as usual this week, with me going to work in person at the office last Thursday — when I met my good friends and we engaged on a fine, collective activity — and from home for the rest of the week, with nothing else worth noting, except that I’m very much liking what I’m currently involved in.

Opposite to last week, I couldn’t swim any time this week. This made me feel sad on the one hand because I’m truly looking for creating a habit out of it, but, on the other hand, weather didn’t quite help me a lot. The pool I use, although climatized, isn’t warm. So it helps against feeling cold, but only to a point, and it was beyond help all week. I do hope to have better luck next week.

Also, I kept telling myself I needed to go have my hair cut all week… but I didn’t. This really gets on my nerves, as I don’t actually like my hair longer than a certain limit, so this, too, has to be taken care of sooner than later next week.

I read a very good article on Asterisk Magazine this week, “Why You’ve Never Been In a Plane Crash”, about how the process of air accident investigations evolved along years to become focused on what happened to result in a fatality, rather than on who was responsible, or should be blamed for it. Working in the aviation industry as I do, it made complete sense to me to see that no one should promote a witch hunt in every air crash, but instead determine what actions and improvements to make aviation ever safer for all of us.

From proved to be a very nice mystery and horror show. We’ve finished binge watching season 1 and went straight to season 2, where we’re already 4 episodes in. The show, by the way, was created by John Griffin, the same mind behind Lost, which I watched some years ago and also enjoyed, despite of its horrible last season. I do hope From does better, though, and that seems to be happening so far.

I’ve also watched a nice, 1h30 long documentary on Netflix called The Greatest Night in Pop, telling the interesting story of the USA for Africa song, “We are the World”, recorded way back in January 1985, when I was only 7 years old. Though young at that time, this song has always felt so nice to me and listening to it usually gives me good vibes and memories. So, it was very interesting to find out details about how 46 music icons, including Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, and Stevie Wonder, came together and in a single night recorded a masterpiece that, to me, has never, to date, been equaled. If you like music, you should watch it.

I’m almost done with the first book of the First Dune Trilogy (the one called “Dune”, itself divided into three books, actually parts of the story. People refer to the saga as the best sci-fi piece ever written, what I’m not going to debate because I’m still in the middle of it, but let’s see. Liking it so far.

Week 04, 2023

I have come back to work this week, after well spent vacations where I could relax and gather renewed energy for 2024’s challenges. The first day at work welcomed me with a trip to Sorocaba, a city approximately two and a half hours distant from my hometown — also the city where the company I work for has its headquarters. I had never been to Sorocaba before (although my employer company has facilities there), so it was wonderful both to be able to know a different city and to participate in a workshop prepared by my manager and supervisor, where we had lectures and activities related to marketing and to business planning.

During the following days, I engaged in an interesting project which involves innovation tools and frameworks, research and interview. It’s looking very promising, and it made me very happy to be back 😉

My younger son has also got back to school this week, starting the 7th grade. As it happens with most teenagers his age, though, I cannot say he’s thrilled to go back to school — I believe if every teen could choose what to do, they’d choose endless vacations… but then, who wouldn’t? 😂 Ok, ok… I might be joking (a little)… on the good side, he’s met all his friends again, what, from experience, I know is always very nice.

Meanwhile, we’re expecting news from the Japanese consulate anytime soon, as they’re to send us instructions regarding my older son’s student visa, which will be all paid by the Japanese government as part of his scholarship program. With fewer days than I’d like to admit we have available together before he travels to Japan, I have to admit that I’m starting to have mixed feelings about this trip — as a father, one side of me’d like him to stay, whereas another knows it’s best for him to fully enjoy this experience of living abroad and flying high. Well, nobody ever told me parenthood was easy…

I went swimming again this week, and enjoyed it. I do want to turn that into a (healthy) habit. Although doing it only one night this week, I did more than 60 minutes of exercise, and that’s exactly the kind of thing I need to introduce (back) to my life. I wish to do it at least twice a week, maybe thrice, who knows? Right now I have my both legs sore, but that’s to be left behind once I get used to the rhythm. I’m certain.

We have started to watch From. Only three episodes into the story but looking promising so far — the plot strongly reminds me of a couple of Stephen King’s stories, but, due to the fact that characters are all trapped in a city they can’t leave no matter what they do, haunted by mysterious evil creatures lurking at night, mostly seemed to me like Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines Trilogy, a piece that I could not put down when I read the three fiction books a couple of years ago. With two seasons already produced, I hope “From” lives up to the expectations it’s creating in our family.

Also, I’m currently reading the Brazilian Portuguese version of the three-book box set of the Dune Trilogy, by Frank Herbert. Dune’s a classic and I’m glad to be reading it. The story’s good so far — and in this case I’m also hoping it keeps like that, but only time will tell.

Aziz, le bouquiniste

Existe um sebo em Marrocos, chamado Bouquiniste El azizi, que já está em atividade no mesmo local há mais de 40 anos, sobre o qual eu acidentalmente encontrei uma série de artigos essa semana, e que me mostrou como algumas pessoas às vezes são capazes de começar verdadeiras cruzadas de altruísmo, buscando o bem maior.

Este sebo, de propriedade de um senhor chamado Mohammed Aziz — que, aos 75 anos1, é o vendedor de livros mais antigo ainda em atividade na cidade de Rabat, capital do Marrocos —, está em atividade há mais de 50 anos. Nele, Aziz trabalha sozinho por 12 horas diariamente, vendendo em média apenas 1 a 2 livros por dia, em um país com uma taxa de analfabetismo que, em 2021, ainda era de 24,07% — comparativamente, no Brasil, no final de 2023, pouco mais de 5% da população era analfabeta. Quando não está rezando, comendo, ou dando atenção aos seus clientes, Aziz se dedica à leitura, cerca de 8 horas por dia, o que o levou a aprender a ler não apenas em árabe, mas também em inglês, espanhol e francês.

Em uma entrevista para o Morocco World News, em abril de 2019. Aziz diz que começou a se dedicar ao comércio de livros como forma de se vingar por nunca ter conseguido concluir sua educação formal, uma vez que os preços dos livros didáticos eram proibitivos para ele à época. Ele também declara já ter lido mais de 4000 livros até aquela data, e que pretende manter seu negócio em funcionamento até que todos os marroquinos também sejam capazes de ler.

Eu não preciso repetir, mas vou: adoro ler. É de longe a minha atividade favorita, o meu passatempo favorito. E é por isso que exemplos como o desse senhor me tocam profundamente.

  1. A reportagem do Morocco World News é de 2019, e cita que Aziz, então entrevistado por eles, estava com 71 anos. Vários links criados posteriormente citam sua idade ainda como 71, mas isso somente seria verdade caso ele não envelhecesse, não é mesmo? Então fiz uma matemática simples. ↩︎

Week 03, 2024

I have been experimenting with NearlyFreeSpeech Web Hosting for a couple of months. Behind these experiments is a wish I have to pay less for online services — especially web hosting.

This is the same wish that not so long ago made me take the decision to experiment with PikaPods, where I actually saved some money in terms of web hosting. The problem is that Wordpress is such a memory hog that I wasn’t making peace with its memory needs, having to adjust it all the time, sometimes several times a day!

This made me decide to go back to Micro.blog, where at the first day of 2024 I signed up for a whole year. The thing is… I’ll probably leave again once this period is over, and it’ll probably be to settle with NearlyFreeSpeech.

Now, similar to Pikapods, in NFSN you also pay as you go, that is, pay only for what you use. From what I’ve used so far of both, I’m alright to say that both are very fine services. Their difference resides in customizability, so (forgive me for the poor comparison here) imagine Android vs iOS in terms of how open to changes and customization each platform is.

Some people just want to fire up an instance of an app, and have it running without having to worry about the backstage administration — even if they wanted to, they wouldn’t be able to go much further into backstage because most of its doors are securely locked. This is Pikapods, so it’s similar to iOS: it runs very well, delivers a very nice UX overall, but you can’t do whatever you want because, well, you can only go to somewhat deep water.

Some people, like me, never ever satisfied with whatever they have setup, or who change their minds all too often, are more satisfied with more control, more customization options, even if that means you have to care for administering (a part of) your stuff. I like that, and at least theoretically, as someone graduated in Computer Science, I can operate the backstage (at least to a certain degree of comfort). NFSN’s pricing is also very attractive. Provided that you don’t require support apart from their very detailed and rich documentation, FAQs and user forum, you spend way too little on a monthly basis — for instance , at the moment I’m writing these notes, I have a balance of $4.24, and all I have credited my account with was $5.00 in December, meaning I’ve spent only $0.76 so far. Remember mileages may vary, depending on what you’re going to host.

In my case, with the help of support in a forum thread I created, I got to setup a self running instance of the latest available version of WriteFreely, the open source software behind the paid service Write.as, being able to run several blogs in a single instance if I want to. In my case, it doesn’t use MySQL databases (although it could, as it supports it). If I used MySQL instead of PostgreSQL, I’d be spending a little more than I’ve spent so far, yet, nothing prohibitive. So it’s a scenario where I can customize more and be more open to administering my own stuff, like an Android phone.

I’ve also moved my domain to NFSN. If you visit it, you’ll be able to see WriteFreely working. There are many adjustments I intend to make yet, so it’s missing parts and bits (no posts from 2024 there so far, for example) — but that’ll come with time.

I’m quite impressed with myself and the fact that I’m reading so fast this year. I’ve just finished my fourth book in the year, Holly, by Stephen King, another solo adventure with character Holly Gibney, the shy detective who’s appeared in The Bill Hodges Trilogy and grew to the point of becoming a solo protagonist. I loved her latest, homonym book, read it very quickly… and felt I wanted more. As I usually do in such circumstances I went looking for likely future books with Holly and… surprise! I found out Mr. King (luckily) isn’t ready to leave Ms. Gibney be yet, and intends to gift his fans with yet another Holly novel!

From the above link, where I’ve also found out another short story collection is to be released this year, comes this fortunate spoiler:

The next Holly Gibney book is called We Think Not, and that one is also turning out to be fairly long because there are “too many stories” going on in it. King said, “I feel kind of like the mad juggler. I’m trying to keep all the balls in the air and not drop any of them.”

I’ve spent my last week of vacations at the pool. This has been incredible, as it allowed me to exercise much more than I had been during the whole last year.

When I was a teen, I practiced swimming for many years, and this made me fall in love with the sport and learn how to swim the four classic strokes — front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke (a.k.a. my favorite) and butterfly stroke. So I’ve grown up accustomed to the idea that swimming is the most complete sport and have always wanted to get back to it.

Until by the beginning of January, while thinking about swimming I came to the conclusion that there was nothing between me and starting to swim again. I became member in a club in my city and started enjoying it.

Now I’m going back to work next week, but will try to keep on swimming, as it relaxes me, and exercises me. Maybe I’ll get back to be thinner as well, as I was when younger and practiced more often. Time will say.

Currently Reading: Box Duna: Primeira Trilogia by Frank Herbert 📚

Read 2024: Holly by Stephen King 📚

Fortunately, reinstalling and setting things up has been pretty straightforward for some years now, provided you have a machine connected to the internet, of course… 😅

Just finished an unwanted, unexpected PC formatting section, after which Windows 10 and some essential apps have been reinstalled — all thanks to my (younger) son’s initiative. Despite his swearing that he had nothing to do with it…

Remoto ou presencial?

Se você observar, existe uma contradição entre o trabalho remoto e o presencial.

No lado remoto, o presencial persiste, mas virtualmente. No presencial, o retorno ao local de trabalho se traduz em reuniões virtuais. Um ciclo contraditório.

Trabalhar em um espaço físico para realizar encontros virtuais que poderiam ocorrer de qualquer lugar levanta questionamentos sobre o propósito do presencial.

Paulo Batista, via LinkedIn.

Week 02, 2024

After a very long time — specially from my older son’s point of view —, we again received news regarding his Japanese MEXT scholarship. And, it turns out, they were very good news! After a hiatus of months without hearing anything from the consulate, he received an email last Thursday, stating that he was, indeed, approved!

This means that he’ll have his dream of studying in Japan come true!! There are yet some documents and preparations to happen between now and the date when he’ll finally travel (in early April, probably during the first week), but the thing is there’s no way to deny how happy he became once he learned about his approval. We were aware that the results were supposed to come out between January and February, and, as they started being published in Brazil this week, my son even had his share of sleepless nights, out of anxiety. So learning about his approval was both the best news and a welcome relief.

I didn’t know it, but looks like all the analysis and results consideration is done manually by the Japanese government. And as this particular scholarship process takes place with applicants from all around the world, that’s why the long waiting time happens. But we’re not here to judge that. We’re all very happy here, for my son and this great achievement!

Of course, this means that I’ll need to restart my Japanese language studies if I eventually want to be able to communicate with native speakers sometime in the future, once we’re set to travel to Japanese lands. I’ll have to see about that and try to come up with effective (self-)learning strategies. But for now, I’ll concentrate on spending the next months creating memories with my son before he departs to study abroad.

I had plans to take a plane with my family and travel to Salvador, as we tend to do at least once a year — my wife’s got family there and that’s when we visit everyone and get to see them face to face and spend quality time together. But it turned out to be impossible for me to do it this time (spending at least a couple of weeks there, as I’m on vacations until the 22nd of January). Air fares are way too expensive now, with air companies blaming it on everything from their supply chain to the COVID-19 aftermath, so we’ll need to replan and delay the trip to the future.

That doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying my vacations. This week, for example, me, my wife and the kids spent every single day going to the club’s pool. It is a very nice pool and everyone here loves it very much to play and enjoy the water. It’s a climatized pool, so as a bonus it means we don’t even need to worry whether it’s sunny or rainy before going there. Fun guaranteed!

I’ve also finished reading two books! Com Sangue, the Brazilian version of Stephen King’s “If it bleeds”, about which I wrote earlier this week, and Steven Novella’s The Skeptics' Guide to the Future, a non-fiction book about futurism and the technology that there can be in the future, both quite interesting and satisfying reads. This means I’m 3 books into my 20 books goal for 2024, making me very, very happy.

Considering my media diet, it wasn’t bad at all this week: We’ve watched four movies in family. Parts one and two of “The Hangover” trilogy, respectively from 2009 and 2011, “A Vampire in the Family”, a Brazilian comedy with Leandro Hassum, released this week on Netflix and “Mafia Mamma”, another comedy released just this year, telling the story of an American woman who, all of a sudden, inherits her late Italian grandfather’s Mafia empire.

On the personal side, I went to my ophthalmologist this week. I had scheduled an appointment back in December, which I did because I was finding it a little harder to see things while driving and reading (age, you know what I mean). I found out that my shortsightedness remains the same, but that it is now accompanied by a little astigmatism, which was causing my view to be a little blurry as of lately. Thankfully, nothing that a new pair of glasses cannot fix.

Finished reading my third book this year: The Skeptics' Guide to the Future by Steven Novella 📚