Alexander Calder and Gordon Parks

At the end of 2023, I went to the Seattle Art Museum to see the Alexander Calder exhibition Calder: In Motion and as expected, I really enjoyed myself. Seeing the work in motion is really something else.

One unexpected thing was seeing this photograph of Alexander Calder taken by Gordon Parks:

First, I don't think I had ever seen a photograph of Calder before? I don't know what I was expecting, but it probably should have been this, and second I didn't know who Gordon Parks was, and I didn't really think about it.

But at the library a week or so later, I pulled out a book that I thought seemed interesting, and opened it up at random. And guess what, there he was again. Gordon Parks. Alexander Calder.

Life is a little funny. It wanted me to know Gordon Parks and now I do.

Books I read in 2023

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky #2), Rebecca Roanhorse
The Sophie Horowitz Story, Sarah Schulman
Girls, Visions and Everything, Sarah Schulman
Eileen, Ottessa Moshfegh
Piranesi, Susanna Clarke
My Rock 'n' Roll Friend, Tracey Thorn
All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1), Martha Wells
Beverly, Nick Drnaso
The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3), N.K. Jemisin
Small Game, Blair Braverman
The Lying Life of Adults, Elena Ferrante
Severance, Ling Ma
Shadow & Claw, Gene Wolfe
Doomsday Book
, Connie Willis
Second Place, Rachel Cusk
Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel


I really love Sarah Schulman's fictional work, and I keep reading it instead of her non-fiction. I've had Conflict is not Abuse on my to-read list for a long time, but I haven't felt the pull quite yet. Maybe 2024 is the year.

I started the Broken Earth trilogy in 2022 and finished it this year. While frustrating at times, I thought the world building was incredible and I picked up Shadow & Claw per recommendations to fill the void. The void still exists.

A couple of themes came up: love (romantic, platonic, self), pandemics, time-travel. I read more than one time-travel pandemic book this year which is odd, considering I had read zero before.

Love After Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.



Self Portrait, by Mary Oliver

I wish I was twenty and in love with life
and still full of beans.

Onward, old legs!
There are the long, pale dunes; on the other side
the roses are blooming and finding their labor
no adversity to the spirit.

Upward, old legs! There are the roses, and there is the sea
shining like a song, like a body
I want to touch

though I’m not twenty
and won’t be again but ah! seventy. And still
in love with life. And still
full of beans.


The Orange, by Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

— Wendy Cope


Ping Chong + Company, 2021

modernizing Bidoun javascript

over the last couple of months, I've jumped back into working on Bidoun, primarily to add a couple new features they've requested. but since I have to root around in there anyway (and for the foreseeable future), I'd like to make my experience a bit more pleasurable, so I've been updating some stable but outdated code.

for better or worse, there hasn't been a major change since I migrated from a self-deployed VPS to a more automated Heroku infrastructure. I didn't really know what kind of a mess I was getting myself into. I knew I wouldn't have to worry about any build processes, or compilation steps (outside of Rails asset pipeline), to configure, or patch up.

anyway, the primary reason for this post is two fold:

  1. I was unbelievably impressed with how easy it was to update my extremely outdated code. My primary objective while working is to write code that is the easy to change in the future. Past-me didn't do current-me any favors in that department, I'm truly impressed with the developers and API designers who worked on the jQuery and underscore APIs. good job, teams.
  2. In addition to making future-me less miserable, one reason for doing this work is to dump unnecessary JavaScript dependencies from getting served to the client. I haven't yet deployed my changes to production but a quick look my uncompressed bundled application size went from 364 KB to 141.2 KB, or about 39% of what it used to be. perhaps not an ideal comparison since downloaded gzip sizes will be closer together, so here's a better comparison

Mobile Lighthouse scores, which is a better simulation for how visitors will experience the page