Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 25th, 2022

Reinvent the wheel

leave a comment »

Learn by doing and figuring things out. It’s highly effective and efficient in terms of learning, though slow and painful compared to just following directions that are based on the experience of others — with that approach, you are told what to do, but you don’t know why. Not knowing why results in the “knowledge” being shallow and difficult to remember.

Probably the best approach is to spend time and effort trying to work out how to do it and thus learn what problems are encountered (and figure out some possible solutions). Then, and only then, look at the directions. With that approach, your mind is hungry for knowledge and is prepared to understand the “why” behind the directions. (This is the approach I advocate when using The Reader Over Your Shoulder to learn how to write clearly. It’s also how back in the day I advised students to study Euclid’s Elements: read the statement of the theorem and then, without reading further, spend at least 10-15 minutes trying on your own to prove the theorem. Then, whether you succeed or fail, you will totally absorb Euclid’s proof because you have a practical understanding of the context and issues.

Étienne Fortier-Dubois has an excellent essay at Atlas of Wonders and Monsters that elegantly describes this approach. He writes:

Reinvent the wheel. I mean it, literally. Build a small toy, and make mobile with some spinning parts, but without using pre-made wheels. What will you use? Look around the house, or to be more authentic still, go walk in a forest. Take stock of what the natural world offers you. Perhaps you could take this round-ish stone and polish it to make it evenly circular. Or you could cut a slice of a small tree. Several, in fact, since you’ll probably need several wheels. How many? Do they need to be all of the same size? How will you attach them together? Will you allow the wheels to turn, and if so, how will that be controlled?

The Ackermann steering design (source)

Reinvent the wheel, because it’s less trivial than it sounds. There are many challenges to consider! For instance, how to steer: you want the wheels to turn at different angle, instead of being both on a fixed axle.

If you reinvent the wheel from scratch, you probably won’t (and shouldn’t) think about such things from the beginning. You’ll solve problems that have had solutions for centuries or millennia. Is that bad? Shouldn’t you begin by reading a book about wheels, maybe? Get a degree in wheel engineering? Make sure you’re all caught up with the current state of wheel knowledge before you begin to presume you can productively reinvent it?

Well, it depends. Are you more likely to reinvent the wheel if you read that book or get that degree? Or is it more likely to drain out all the excitement and thrill of thinking about wheel design right now?

You should reinvent the wheel because it’s fun. Doing things directly, instead of reading or listening about them, is more satisfying. It gives you something to be proud of. It can be frustrating, the same way that working on a tough puzzle can be, but the elation you feel once you have solved your problem will make it worth it — far more than reading a textbook ever could.

You should reinvent the wheel because it’s a good way to learn, too. This is not a separate point from the “fun” one: the best way to learn anything is to have fun with it! Plus, practical experience will teach you a myriad of small details that a book or instructor might miss (or that you might miss because the boredom made you distracted as you were trying to learn).

These are reasons for you, an individual, to reinvent the wheel. Should we, as a society, want you to reinvent the wheel? Wouldn’t there be a more productive use of your time?

I say . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 October 2022 at 12:49 pm

Interesting idea: 40 questions to ask yourself every year

leave a comment »

I came across a list of 40 questions to ask yourself during your end-of-the-year review and look back, and it seemed worth sharing. The first 10 questions on the list:

  1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions?
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What cities/states/countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year?
7. What date(s) from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
9. What was your biggest failure?
10. What other hardships did you face?

He notes that it takes him about a week to work through the 40 questions.

I also do an end-of-the-year review (as well as end-of-the-month and end-of-the-week reviews), and the list, suitably modified for my own circumstances, seemed a good thing to include. So I copied the list into a email to be delivered to me on this coming December 26, and I’ll use my answers in my January 1 FutureMe letter to be delivered in one year, along with any thoughts from the January 1 FutureMe letter I’ll have gotten from the previous year.

Written by Leisureguy

25 October 2022 at 11:47 am

Posted in Daily life

Cedar morning with black currants

leave a comment »

Grooming Dept’s Cedarwood shaving soap has a very nice fragrance, which issues from the following ingredients:

Orange EO, Grapefruit EO, Ginger Lily EO, Ginger EO, Pink Pepper EO, Geranium Absolute, Rose Absolute, Howood EO, Siam Wood EO, Benzoin Resin, Carrot Seed EO, Alaska Cedarwood EO, Hiba (Japanese Cedarwood) EO, Port Orford Cedarwood EO, Styrax, Muhuhu EO, Himalayan Cedarwood EO, Virginia Cedarwood EO. Texas Hill Country Cedarwood EO, Atlas Cedarwood Absolute. Vetiver Absolute, Patchouli EO, Vanilla Co2 extract, Tonka Bean Absolute.

The soap itself uses his Nai formula, so it’s a vegan soap:

Aloe Vera Juice, Stearic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Coconut Milk, Castor Oil, Cupuaçu Butter, Mango Butter, Camelina Oil, Marshmallow Extract, Glycerine, Rice Bran Wax, Beta Sitosterol, Sunflower Lecithin, Jojoba Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil Oil, Kuki nut Oil, Larch Arabinogalactan, Tara Gum, Erythritol, Glucomannan (Konjac root), Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Propanediol, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Hydroxide, Squalane, Lauryl Laurate, Olive Oil Unsaponifiables, Betaine, Isostearic Acid, Sasha Inchi Oil, Meadofoam Oil, Allantoin, Argan Oil, Tucuma Butter, Ucuuba Butter, Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids, Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Fragrance, Colloidal Oatmeal, Sucrose Cocoate, Sodium Gluconate, Calendula Extract, Ceramide 3, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, Liquorice Root Extract, Beta Glucan, Broccoli Seed Oil, Tamanu Oil, Hyaluronic Acid, Grape Seed Extract, Chamomile Extract, Sea Kelp Extract, Green Tea Extract, Alpha Bisabolol, Inositol, Histidine, Lysine, Arginine, Sodium PCA, Sodium Alginate, Aspen Bark Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf extract, Phospholipids, Resveratrol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) flower extract and Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) flower extract, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Tocopherols.

I liked the fragrance, though it was (obviously) more than simply cedar, and the lather was thick and creamy, providing abundant glide for the RazoRock Baby Smooth, a favorite razor. Three passes stripped away every trace of roughness, justifying the razor’s name.

A splash of Anthony Gold’s Red Cedar aftershave — a much more straightforward cedar fragrance — with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel finished the job. 

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Black Currant Tea: “A blend of rich, smooth black teas enhanced with the zesty essence of black currants. . . Dried blueberries and blue cornflower are added to the sweet-smelling tea blend to add to the allure of this fabulous tea.”

Written by Leisureguy

25 October 2022 at 10:14 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

%d bloggers like this: