14 Apr 2022

I've searched for this for ages. Remembered faintly as a Steven Pinker story, I narrowed it down to his 1999 work, "Words and Rules", Chapter 1: The Infinite Library:

"Perhaps the most vivid description of the staggering power of a combinatorial system is in Jorge Luis Borges's story "The Library of Babel." The library is a vast network of galleries with books composed of all the combinations of twenty-two letters, the comma, the period, and the space. Somewhere in the library is a book that contains the true history of the future (including the story of your death), a book of prophecy that vindicates the acts of every man in the universe, and a book containing the clarification of the mysteries of humanity. People roamed the galleries in a futile search for those texts from among the untold number of books with false versions of each revelation, the millions of facsimiles of a given book differing by a [single] character, and, of course, the miles and miles of gibberish. The narrator notes that even when the human species goes extinct, the library, that space of combinatorial possibilities, will endure: "illuminated, solitary, infinite, perfectly motionless, equipped with precious volumes, useless, incorruptible, secret."

"Technically, Borges needn't have described the library as "infinite." At eighty characters a line, forty lines a page, and 410 pages a book, the number of books is around 10^1,800,000, or 1 followed by 1.8 million zeroes. That is, to be sure, a very large number-there are only 10^70 particles in the visible universe-but it is a finite number."


Borges' story imposes constraints.

Each wall of each hexagon is furnished with five bookshelves; each bookshelf holds thirty-two books identical in format; each book contains four hundred ten pages; each page, forty lines; each line, approximately eighty black letters.

Furthermore, Borges actually said the library is NOT infinite (despite the "illuminated, solitary, infinite" quote):

…there are no two identical books. From those incontrovertible prem­ises, the librarian deduced that the Library is "total"-perfect, complete, and whole-and that its bookshelves contain all possible combinations of the twenty-two orthographic symbols (a number which, though unimagin­ably vast, is not infinite)

and later elaborates on it extensively:

I have just written the word "infinite." I have not included that adjective out of mere rhetorical habit; I hereby state that it is not illogical to think that the world is infinite. Those who believe it to have limits hypothesize that in some remote place or places the corridors and staircases and hexa­gons may, inconceivably, end - which is absurd. And yet those who picture the world as unlimited forget that the number of possible books is not. I will be bold enough to suggest this solution to the ancient problem: The Li­brary is unlimited but periodic. If an eternal traveler should journey in any direction, he would find after untold centuries that the same volumes are repeated in the same disorder-which, repeated, becomes order: the Order. My solitude is cheered by that elegant hope.


The Library of Babel - Wikipedia

Borges' narrator describes how his universe consists of an enormous expanse of adjacent hexagonal rooms. In each room, there is an entrance on one wall, the bare necessities for human survival on another wall, and four walls of bookshelves. Though the order and content of the books are random and apparently completely meaningless, the inhabitants believe that the books contain every possible ordering of just 25 basic characters (22 letters, the period, the comma, and space). Though the vast majority of the books in this universe are pure gibberish, the library also must contain, somewhere, every coherent book ever written, or that might ever be written, and every possible permutation or slightly erroneous version of every one of those books. The narrator notes that the library must contain all useful information, including predictions of the future, biographies of any person, and translations of every book in all languages. Conversely, for many of the texts, some language could be devised that would make it readable with any of a vast number of different contents.

Despite—indeed, because of—this glut of information, all books are totally useless to the reader, leaving the librarians in a state of suicidal despair. This leads some librarians to superstitious and cult-like behaviors, such as the "Purifiers", who arbitrarily destroy books they deem nonsense as they scour through the library seeking the "Crimson Hexagon" and its illustrated, magical books. Others believe that since all books exist in the library, somewhere one of the books must be a perfect index of the library's contents; some even believe that a messianic figure known as the "Man of the Book" has read it, and they travel through the library seeking him.

24 Mar 2022

290 days since my last update? I've been … busy …

7 Jun 2021

Lots of updates - garden panoramas, the blog, the garden chronology, and 2021 harvests.
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11 Oct 2020

"1 Mar 2020 - We're committed to Garden 2020. Seeds ordered in the nick of time." If I only knew then what I know now…

Between C19, the deck/patio/shed project, and having a new 10 week old puppy, we did OK, harvesting more than 150 pounds of tomatoes, a steady supply of jalapeños and a few habaneros. We made a couple dozen quarts of tomato sauce, some spicy ketchup, and today we're going to finish up a dozen-ish quarts of tomato soup.

Yesterday we ordered seeds for 2021. I can't imagine a year being more screwed up and overcommitted than 2020 but maybe I shouldn't tempt fate.

29 Apr 2020

Another opportunity for a touch-and-go at KIAD materialized yesterday and I couldn't resist. 🙂 There have been a few posts on FaceBook pointing VFR pilots in the right direction, but I figured a transcript might make it even easier. If you have a chance, take the chance. http://www.pcbeda.com/KIADVFR.html

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1 Mar 2020

We're committed to Garden 2020. Seeds ordered in the nick of time. They'll probably be sowed in the nick of time, weeded in the nick of time, harvested in the nick of time, and preserved in the nick of time. That's just how it is around here. :-)

23 Nov 2019

I had a chance to fly this week and to practice some commercial maneuvers. My chandelles are pretty tight, but I need a bit more practice on Lazy 8s to meet Commercial ACS Standards. I guess I need to fly a lot more. Darn.
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Lazy 8s

Clear the area.
Select an altitude that will allow the maneuver to be performed no lower than 1,500 feet AGL.
Establish the recommended entry configuration, power, and airspeed. Maintain coordinated flight throughout the maneuver.
Complete the maneuver in accordance with the following:
  • Approximately 30° bank at the steepest point
  • Constant change of pitch and roll rate and airspeed
  • Altitude at 180°point ±100 feet from entry altitude
  • Airspeed at the 180° point, ±10 knots from entry airspeed
  • Heading at the 180° point, ±10°
  • Continue the maneuver through the number of symmetrical loops specified, then resume straight-and-level flight.


Clear the area.
Select an altitude that will allow the maneuver to be performed no lower than 1,500 feet above ground level (AGL).

Establish the appropriate entry configuration, power, and airspeed. Establish the angle of bank at approximately 30°.
Simultaneously apply power and pitch to maintain a smooth, coordinated climbing turn, in either direction, to the 90° point, with a constant bank and continuously decreasing airspeed.
Begin a coordinated constant rate rollout from the 90° point to the 180° point maintaining power and a constant pitch attitude.
Complete rollout at the 180° point, ±10° just above a stall airspeed, and maintaining that airspeed momentarily avoiding a stall.
Resume a straight-and-level flight with minimum loss of altitude.

20 Oct 2019

Noodlesoft sent me an email about the beta version of Hazel when upgrading to MacOS Catalina. One of the reasons I don't post much is the friction of adding content. So… I created some Hazel workflows to take pictures dropped in folders and autogenerate thumbnails, move them to wwwroot, and open BBEdit to add the captions. Voila. Process oil. It's still low importance, low urgency - we'll see what else we can add to our queue that makes it impossible to keep up with this. For now, Garden 2020 is active, flying pictures are added from time to time, and food pictures are added from time to time.

8 Aug 2018

Someday I may post here again. In the meantime, check out FaceBook or LinkedIn.

11 Mar 2018

Plot 2 is almost ready. We disassembled the boxes, moved them up against the 2x10s, and narrowed them to 42" to better accommodate the garden mats. Moved the rosemary bushes together up to the front. Tilled it all. Left to do: Top up the soil and till the boxes, and add some enrichment.
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3 Mar 2018

Pictures from the Colonial Newfoundland Club Draft Carting Workshop are in the 20180302 - CNC album (also discoverable in the menu bar).

15 Feb 2018

34 weeks and 93 pounds

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30 Oct 2017

We pulled some carrots and a leek yesterday for Carrot Puree. The total harvest so far is 723.87 pounds. The pie chart shows percentage by weight but a more useful measure might be something like "meals" or "servings". 94 pounds of squash wasn't nearly as useful as 370 pounds of tomatoes.

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27 Sep 2017

I'm clean! And exhausted…

And RapidWeaver 7.5.1 and Stacks 3.5.5 seem to have fixed a hard crash bug that prevented any posting since 9/1…

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1 Sep 2017

Welcome home, Kodi!

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19 Aug 2017

More than half of our 2017 harvest has come in the last 16 days.

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13 Aug 2017

Yesterday's harvest brings our total to 353.8 pounds.

116 pounds!

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Bell Peppers

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Orange Hybrids

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Hybrid Corn

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28 Jul 2017

Year to date garden production: 133.99 pounds. Garden 2017/Harvests has the up-to-date list.

16 Jun 2017

The written is done, all of the solos are done, the simulated instrument is done… all that remains is a stage check, end of course check, and the check ride.

2 Jun 2017

I only need 0.3 hours simulated instrument and 1 hour of instruction to be ready for my PPL checkride. I added a few pictures from yesterday's XC to West Point / Middle Peninsula and Louisa County to the We Fly album.

28 May 2017

Life is slowly returning to normal for the first time since 26 April. We were able to get the tomatoes planted but not much else.

In 2015 and 2016 we tried trellising with t-posts, garden wire, and turnbuckles. This year we're going back to cages.

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27 Apr 2017 to 6 May 2017

My Copilot, IAD - FCO on 27 Apr.*

* The crew was already scheduled, so I didn't actually get to fly the plane. Not having an ATP doesn't help, either.

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Wednesday, 26 Apr 2017

Heading southwest. From left to right, A330, B744, and Citation C56.

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Tuesday, 11 Apr 2017

The robins are back. In 2012, they hatched about 25 Apr.

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Wednesday, 5 Apr 2017

Asparagus grows really quickly!

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Saturday, 1 Apr 2017

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Rhubarb. I was sure it was dead after we moved it. I was wrong. Even I can't kill rhubarb.

Sunrise, 28 Mar 2017

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End of an Era

I've had cable TV in one form or another since 1986 or 1987. When Cox added a "regional sports surcharge" fee to my bill, I complained. They read me the PR-approved talking points and ultimately told me to go pound sand. I told them I wasn't going to pay the fee, and I meant it.

Their recalcitrance actually worked out really well for us. After testing a few options (for free!) we now have Playstation Vue running through Apple TVs and Roku Expresses. An HDTV OTA antenna runs through the house wiring (using the cable company coax, ironically) to deliver Channels 7 (ABC) and 9 (CBS) - 4 (NBC) and 5 (Fox) local are already on PSV.

Cox would have cost me $167.19 x 12 = $2,006.28 for the next 12 months.

I had to buy one more Apple TV, a Roku, and the antenna, plus the monthly PSV subscription. Total cost for 12 months: $209 in equipment and $779 for PSV = $988… AND that's with HBO and Cinemax, which we didn't have before, AND unlimited cloud-based DVR, AND an infinitely superior user interface, AND without these butt-ugly boxes.

Hey, Cox, thanks for helping me thinking outside the [cable] box.

Birthday Dinner

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All Tracks after 17 Mar 2017 Cross Country


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Blizzard 2017


As recently as yesterday, they were forecasting up to 12" of snow for here. Here, as in this spot on the map. How can they be so far off?

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Planting Planning Planting


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Germination - Week 2


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Ideal soil temp: 75-78F. Got it.
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Baby Beets

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Homemade French Bread
Technically, it didn't germinate, but it was delicious!

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Red Cabbage

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Farther and Farther


I updated my all-tracks in Google Earth in advance of tonight's cross-country.
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Germination - Week 1


Four days after sowing, 5 of the 6 red cabbage seeds have sprouted. The leeks are just barely breaking the soil. Morning soil temperatures are 72F. Afternoon should be a bit higher - will check it in the next day or two.
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The Farm - 2017 Edition - Begins


On Sunday, and on schedule, we sowed the "long lead time" seeds - onions, leeks, and eggplants, as well as those for which we want early production - PEPPERS! They're all under grow lights that turn on at sunrise and off at sunset, with the Nest thermostat set to heat to 78 starting at 9 AM and to turn off at 5 PM. We go (roughly) by the Old Farmer's Almanac dates - the Frost Calculator says April 11th is the 50% last frost date, but we usually wait until the first Sunday in May. We also schedule the sowing based on the planting dates calculator.

Outside Prep



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Farm Work

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16 Jun 2017

The written is done, all of the solos are done, the simulated instrument is done… all that remains is a stage check, end of course check, and the check ride.