2024-04-12 4 min read

Scope Creep, 2024-04-12.

Scope Creep, 2024-04-12.
Crescent shadows, created during an eclipse by the apertures between a tree's leaves, 2017. Image via Neal Wellons on Flickr.

Ah, Friday morning – a time to begin coming to terms with the week that was, and to forgive yourself for all the tasks you didn’t get to, and to look hungrily at the weekend forward to the weekend ahead. And scope creep! Don’t forget about scope creep.

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  • My notes on three books I’ve read recently. Starting next Thursday, the SOW Members’ Reading Group will be reading Nick Seaver’s Computing Taste: Algorithms and the Makers of Music Recommendation; Nick Seaver himself will be joining us to discuss the book at the end of May. You can join us too, and have a direct influence on the notes I write about the book!
  • A personal note: I should have canceled my afternoon on Monday, and picked up my kids from school, and taken them somewhere to watch the eclipse. They probably wouldn’t remember it, but I would have – and even though I find eclipses slightly boring to watch, it would have been nice to take part in a widespread astronomical event with them. Plus, the crescent shadows that form underneath trees really are magical, and a wonderful demonstration of how pinhole cameras work.

    On the upside, there will be a penumbral lunar eclipse on 2024-09-18, and it's early enough in the evening that at least my seven-year-old could stay up for it. But I think that one sweet spot for me as a parent is opening doors from which my kids can understand the world, and this tends to be most effective when large numbers of other people happen to be going through those same doors right as we do; this was clearly the case during Monday's eclipse, and I'm sorry I wasn't there to show it to my kids.

    Related, something I definitely did not know: Earth is the only planet in the solar system which experiences total solar eclipses.
  • Spirit AeroSystems uses Dawn dish soap to fit rubber door seals. As someone who has fitted rubber door seals in a very different context, I submit to you that this makes complete sense, because Dawn dish soap does an excellent job at 1) not messing up your rubber door seal, and 2) providing just enough lubrication for you to easily slip the rubber door seal into place – when otherwise that might be extremely difficult. On the SOW Members’ Slack, Sam noted that the surprise expressed in the article linked above “is like being surprised that you can find WD-40 in a garage;” I would take this one step further and say that I would be more surprised to learn that Spirit was using WD-40 in their assembly process.
  • Last week, I put some “quick, incomplete notes” comparing the power I expend while cycling to the power my home’s solar panels produce. Apropos of this, here’s a short video of an Olympic track cyclist laying out seven hundred watts in order to toast a single slice of bread. The cycling effort is intense; the shade to which the bread is toasted is not.
  • Tangentially related: Recently I met someone who bakes black rye bread professionally. He mentioned that rye bread is typically left to sit for a full twenty-four hours after being removed from the oven; if it is cut sooner than that, its crumb will have a gummy texture. He said this was a result of the high pentosan content in rye flour: Pentosans, which the American Society of Baking’s Bakerpedia describes as “any polysaccharide composed of five carbon sugars called pentoses,” are present in both wheat flour too, but rye flour has them in higher concentrations. This is part of the reason why rye bread tends to go stale more slowly than wheat bread; it also, apparently, has a big effect on the way that the crumb develops after being taken out of the oven.
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