Author Archives: Mickaël

About Mickaël

Developer at Zendesk

Martin D. Ginsburg

I just watched RBG (2018), a documentary on the life and work of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I highly recommend you to go and watch it if you haven’t already. It’s an interesting portrait about Justice Ginsburg that summarize how she laid the legal landscape to address the numerous issues in gender laws.

There is an element that particularly touched me while viewing the movie. It’s about the relationship between Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg (June 10, 1932 – June 27, 2010). You see, after he graduated from Harvard Law School, the young couple moved to New York City because that’s where Martin Ginsburg found a job at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Ruth Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School to follow her husband.

However, later in their career, when it became clear that Justice Ginsburg found her battles and integrated the D.C. Circuit, the couple moved from New York City to Washington. This is a great example of the balance in a relationship, where both partners are considered equal and the decisions are taken together.

Overall, the documentary mentions multiple times that the relationship between Justice Ginsburg and her husband was of love, complicity and equality. I would like to say that he was her biggest fan and supported her relentlessly, bringing a touch of humor whenever needed.

This article is to celebrate all the partners in this world that had or will have the opportunity to support, encourage and empower their spouse. They would have gotten there without them, but it would have been a hell more of a bumpy road.

Martin D. Ginsburg (June 10, 1932 – June 27, 2010)

Photo: The Supreme Court by David Staedtler on Flickr.

Why “lowercase” and “uppercase” letters?

Programmers often refers to capital letters (A, B, C, etc.) as “uppercase”, which is the opposite of “lowercase” for small letters. But why did we introduce two new words (uppercase and lowercase) to describe capital and small letters?

To understand that, you have to go back in time when movable type was the most common system and technology for printing, i.e., reproducing the elements of a document to facilitate it’s diffusion.

By Willi Heidelbach, CC BY 2.5, Link

Back then, the type were stored in a compartmentalized wooden box called a type case often made of two main compartments. And the layout for holding the type was to put the capital letters in the upper case and the small letters in the lower case.

Hence, the terms “lowercase” and “uppercase” come directly from the physical representation or layout used to store those type in the type case. It made sense to store the capital letters in the upper compartment because those are bigger. But I just love how a physical aspect of thing got translated and adopted as common words, because it just made sense back then.

Today, we still use the terms, but we forgot their physical origin. And I find that fascinating.

Photo by Jonathan Camp on Unsplash

Golden Gate Bridge

It’s an icon, a landmark, a beautiful sight when driving south from Sonoma. When movie directors want to localize their scene in San Francisco, they skillfully display it. Everyone will recognize it and nobody need another cinema sin for displaying the city name on the screen. I’m talking about the Golden Gate Bridge!

Of course, if it’s a bridge, then it’s over something. The Golden Gate (not the bridge) is a strait that connects the bay to the ocean. I remember learning that it was extremely difficult for navigators to see the passage from the ocean. According to Wikipedia:

The strait was surprisingly elusive for early European explorers, presumably due to this persistent summer fog.

Ah! It was Karl‘s fault all this time. Yes, for those who don’t know, we named our fog up there, and it even has a Twitter account.

And the greek name of the Golden Gate is Chrysophylae, named by Captain John Frémont in his memoirs.

As for the bridge, here are some key dates:

  • In 1872, railroad entrepreneur Charles Crocker calls for a bridge across the Golden Gate strait.
  • In August 1919 San Francisco’s city engineer, Michael M. O’Shaughnessy was asked by the city to explore the possibility of building a bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait.
  • Joseph Baermann Strauss came up with a first design proposal on June 28, 1921

This first design is what the Golden Gate Bridge could have looked like:

  • Thankfully, the public voiced their opposition, and the final design, that we know and like, was approved in December 1922.
  • Construction began on January 5, 1933 with a $35M bond issue. The bridge opened on May 27, 1937, four years later.
  • And on February 22, 1985 the one billionth driver crossed the span.

So there you go, a small history of one of my favorite bridge across the world! It is also the most photographed and the most destroyed bridge by movie directors.

Photo I took from the piers

Additional online resources:

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

It’s a long walk, not a sprint

Yesterday, I did not publish an article. The point of this blog is for me to write something every day, so that I can get in the habit of writing and improve my vocabulary. But yesterday, I failed to do so, ending my 13 days streak in Loop, the habit tracker I use on my phone.

Hence today, I felt even less motivated to write an article. This is the exact same thought process that happens when someone start a new diet:

  1. Build up motivation through some sort of self-inflicted pain, comparing ourselves with an ideal, being pressed by some sort of event, e.g. summer holidays or wedding season.
  2. Start the diet with a strong motivation and follow through for a couple of days.
  3. Hit the first hiccup or plateau, which throw us off balance for the day.
  4. Lost the motivation to start it over, end up with more weight than before.

Well, at least, this is how I process, I don’t know anything about you.

The key here is to have the discipline to start over, again. Missing your calories goal for one or two days is not going to change anything in the long term. It’s what you do to recover from it that matters. And more than often, the motivation is long gone, making it incredibly hard to get back in a new streak.

This is where /r/GetDisciplined or The Power of Habit come in handy. If you are taking the step to make small but meaningful changes in your life, start by building a habit out of it. Because this is what gets you back on track. This is what refuel the motivation to start a new streak when the self-inflicted wound are no longer working.

And in my case, this is what led to this article which you are now reading.

Photo by Aneta Ivanova on Unsplash

Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a book written by Ernest Cline in 2011. It tells the story of Wade Watts, a teenager spending all of his free time in the OASIS, a virtual reality station. Wade is looking for an answer hidden by the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, in the form of an Easter egg.

Where this book is interesting is due to the huge amount of 90s references. I can’t pretend I found them all, but if you are interested in the subject or simply like a good read, this is definitely an excellent distraction to read.

The movie is coming up next year, and I cannot wait to see how it will be ruined.

But else, this is still one of my favorite books that I red in 2016.

Mongolian Hot Pot

According to Wikipedia:

Hot pot, also known as steamboat, is a variety of East Asian food, prepared with a simmering pot of stock at the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table.

As I experience hot pot for the second time only, I already love it. It’s a fun mix of cooking food, sharing it and appreciating together. It reminds me of this video by The Chen Dynasty YouTube channel: Chinese Cooking VS. Western Cooking.

And it is quite true: no fancy measure, no precise cooking. In that case, hot pot is just like a mix of flavors, and you enjoy food together as you are cooking it and appreciating the flavor it gets mixed with. There are no such things as timing it, precise temperature or whatsoever. Just dump it in the pot, mix it and enjoy it!

I’m quite a fan! And if anyone is interested, I’d recommend them to check out this place in San Francisco: Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot.

Photo from Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot website

Beautiful British Columbia

Thank you Facebook for reminding me that, one year ago, we were camping in one of the most gorgeous park I’ve eve seen: Golden Ears Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. This was the final destination in our summer road trip, all the way from San Francisco, California, to Vancouver, British Columbia. Almost a thousand miles driven (or 1,600 kilometers) to reach the park and camp in Beautiful British Columbia, Canada.

A Canadian goose walks by the Alouette lake

Funny story about the camping: so far we got very lucky with the weather. We camped in Northern California and in Oregon without ever worrying about the rain or anything. So when we arrived to the supposedly fully booked campsite, we got surprised that a lot of spots were unoccupied (despite the “reserved” sign). Looking around, everyone is adding extra tarps onto their tents. Surely, they know something we don’t, right?

Got off the camp, got some network, checked the weather: light rain scheduled for the night. Ah well, we should be fine. We still stored most of our stuff in the car this night, but left the firewood and our shoes outside the tent. And then, we went to sleep.

It is now 3 AM, I hear the light rain, very little noise. Sweet, everything is alright, this should stop soon, right? Falling back to sleep, only to be woken up 2h later by my hand touching some water. Wait, what? Water in the tent? Oh right, I forgot, I’m wearing ear plugs when camping. Looks like it has been pouring rain for the past 2 hours, and it’s not looking to stop anytime soon.

And that’s how we discover that (1) the tent is not fully weatherproof (only in the corners though, due to some condensation) and (2) you should always trust the locals rather than the weatherman! 😀

The waterfall during our hike

For the rest of our trip, we enjoyed a beautiful weather. We hiked in the wood, used a canoe to go in the middle of the lake, and overall we got subjugated by the beauty of Canada.

Surely a Canadian road trip is incomplete without Poutine!

Can’t wait to go back!

The Final Station

The Final Station is a pixel-art platform video game developed by Oleg Sergeev and Andrey Rumak. It is published by tinyBuild and is available on Steam. I got this game as part of the Humble Monthly Bundle and I really liked the story and art design involved.

The pixel art design is beautiful

You are a train driver, going through a country where things are quickly turning sour. What was a simple assignment at the beginning quickly takes on a more dramatic turn when the army requires you to deliver a specific package. But how could they predict that the second visit was already happening?!

You will fight countless enemies

So you will do what you do best: survive! And explore the different stations that your train will stop to. Find any survivors? Take them onboard and ensure they are properly healed and fed, they will surely reward you when you take them to a safe harbor.

A safe place, for now…

I really liked the story and the exploration that let you, slowly but surely, uncover the truth about what is happening. The end game definitely opens more questions than it answers, but I have not (yet) played with the The Only Traitor DLC so we will see. But as a great mix of The Last Of Us story telling with great pixel-art, this game is a hit for me. 10/10 would recommend!

Sloanism

I watched yesterday this excellent video on YouTube (in French). At one point, the author explains to us what Sloanism is and how it is related to the rise of the car marketing industry.

Sloanism, also known as “flexible mass production,” refers to the modification of Fordism implemented by Alfred P. Sloan, president of General Motors from 1923, when he offered new models each year, and different makes, models, and prices for different niches in the market. Rather than relying on special-purpose machine tools designed to produce the parts for a single model, as Ford did with the Model T, GM used general-purpose machine tools that could be modified to produce slightly different parts for slightly different models.

(source)

I liked the documentary because it answered a question my wife had while we were in France: “Why are there so many car advertisements on TV?”

The short answer? Since we live in an atheist society, and religious symbols lost their meaning as a status symbol, we simply replaced them by today’s consumer society favorite thing: the car.

Agence de presse Meurisse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Well, not only the car, but everything else we purchase as a status symbol: brand laptops, smartphones, cameras, etc. But Alfred P. Sloan, as the president of GM, understood that to drive consumption up (think, programmed obsolescence), people needed to be exposed to a variety of car models, brands, that you drive a purchase impulse using the most basic of human reaction: envy.

This was an eye opener to the rest of today’s buying impulses and how it affect us. I would highly recommend you to watch the video (if you understand French).

Other interesting resources:

Photo by Remy_Loz on Unsplash

/r/personalfinance

Since it’s one of the default subreddits (as of July 2017) it is normal that /r/personalfinance has over 12 million of subscribers. However, I only started reading this subreddit regularly for the past two years. But it is a great resource for everyone out there who wants to learn more about their finances.

Since it’s on Reddit, you can expect the average post to be about student debt and other financial problems encountered by young people (no, I won’t use the term millennial here). It can also be a scary peek into problems that people either:

  • put themselves into (car debt);
  • got tricked into (consumption debt);
  • are misinformed about (credit card debt);
  • or tied themselves to because of society expectations (student debt).

Yes, it is scary. Thankfully, some great posts provide a fresh perspective, like this one: A veterinarian’s perspective on personal finance and your pets. And Reddit being Reddit, most of the top comments are helpful, non judgmental, from people that seems to really care about helping OP (Original Poster). To everyone who participate in /r/personalfinance with such a mindset, I want to say thank you!

Have a read, you might learn one thing or two, starting with the sidebar!

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash