Wow, that's the fifth email from the San Francisco Department of Elections asking me if I'll volunteer at the polls June 7th. Usually they email me just once per election. When someone from the department called me to ask about my June 7th availability (called on the phone, also unusual), I said I was willing to work just one election this year and asked which would be more helpful: June or November. The guy said November. So… are they anticipating being even more
despera eager for November poll workers?
Anyhow, if you're in San Francisco and want to volunteer at the June 7th election, some nice folks would love to hear from you soon.
I got my second COVID-19 vaccine booster today.
I didn't get this second booster as soon as it was available; I waited a bit. UCSF medical smartie Bob Wachter advised older folks to get their second booster ASAP, but advised semi-older folks to wait until we thought we were heading into a surge. This advice seemed strange: if we expect a booster's "oomph" to last about four months, shouldn't I get my second booster four months after the previous one?
Attempting to telepathically interpret Wachter's reading of CDC tea leaves: I guess that he guesses that the CDC will keep periodically issuing boosters to seniors; but might be slow to boost not-yet-seniors like me. As I write this, I only qualify for my second booster because I'm >50 years old. My forty-something youngster friends mostly don't qualify… and lately the new-case rate has made one think Oh gee whiz a booster would be a good idea right about now.
tl;dr I tried to time the start of a surge, something I'm definitely not medically qualified to do, and so today I got my second booster. Here's a selfie.
Brian Kernighan wrote some remembrances of his time working on Unix-y things at Bell Labs. Some of it was new to me; some I'd already read elsewhere. (When I think about the timing, I suspect that the reason I'd read about some of this stuff elsewhere is that Kernighan was asking other Unix-folks for their stories as research for this book. And they wrote down their memories to pass along but also posted them publicly? Maybe?)
Much of the new- and interesting-to-me info was context. E.g., I already knew that Unix's "everything is a file" approach was important. It's darned handy if you can use file-reading tools to read data from a something peripheral device by reading a fake file in the /dev/something1 file. But the book points out that "a file is a file" was already kind of a bold move at the time. Systems back then would treat different files differently; the OS "knew" that Prolog program source files were special and kept them in their own area. But that meant you couldn't use some general-purpose programs on all files; you had to handle those Prolog files differently; and other "special" files differently. After a while, those system-provided shortcuts for Prolog didn't seem like shortcuts; they seemed like not-worth-it complexity.
Kernighan mostly worked on document-preparation tools; there are ~15 pages of memoirs about that. That section was kinda in one ear and out the other for me. I never used those tools, so there wasn't a section of my brain ready to grab onto new-to-me facts. But if you were into nroff and such, I bet that material would be especially interesting.
If you're into Unix or C or grep or compiler-compilers or other Unix-y things, this is a fun, quick read.
If your memory is very good, you might remember there was a TV crew getting footage at the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt. Specifically, I dodged around that crew as I carried pancakes at the Pancake Pictionary Character Breakfast event.* Now a TV Show, CBS Sunday Morning, has aired a feature using that footage. Thus you can now see some video of the pancake event. Also, they show folks milling around spots on the Rumpelstiltskin's Cottage mini-runaround puzzle that I wrote: staring at a giant periodic table, rubbing George Eastman's nose, etc. Yeah, that's right: I made an especially telegenic Mystery Hunt puzzle (albeit by piggybacking on scenic MIT spots).
Anyhow, you can take a look. It starts out with stuff from the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt and then gets into other puzzly interests of author A.J. Jacobs.
*The TV crew was there to follow an author around. When I wrote about it, I got the author wrong, relaying a false rumor, d'oh. The correct author was A.J. Jacobs.
Maybe the real horror was that Alien was inspired by terran lifeforms.
It's election day in San Francisco again, the second of four this year.* I wore my "I Voted" sticker today. I didn't see anyone else with a sticker. Now that California's a 100% vote-by-mail state, maybe the stickers are kind of silly; although today is election day, I sent in my ballot weeks ago.
*Maybe half the city only has three? Today's election was a run-off for a state assembly district that covers roughly half of San Francisco; I don't know that the other half has an election today.