Category Archives: Writing

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

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

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

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

A bus trip

This was a very short trip to Southern California. Mainly we like to drive because the time we spend together in the car, we use it to talk. And we talk about everything, our future, the way we see things going, etc. I like to say that going on a road trip together is kind of a couple therapy. At least for us, that’s how it feels.

But now it’s time for me to go back north to San Francisco. And of course I have to leave the car to my wife. In case you don’t know, it’s very impractical to not have a car in Southern California. My wife can testify for it, growing up as a teenager in Riverside county and having to wait for the bus to go anywhere.

But anyway, this post is about a bus trip. The one I’m about to take to go home to San Francisco. I booked an Anaheim-Oakland from megabus.com and it was only $48. Cheaper than flying. I got my algorithms book to practice and a lot of movies to watch on my iPad. So I should be ok.

This is just to say that there are many ways to travel in the United States and they do not always involve taking a plane! Alternative ways of transportation can be cheaper and take you through a different journey.

Keep experimenting!

On the road

It’s time to drive down to Los Angeles. This is something I often do, due to my wife’s family living in SoCal (Southern California). And what this means is time spent behind the wheel, together, talking about everything, what we like, what we want for the future, in short bonding! We both love road trips and this is always a good opportunity to enjoy California.

Well, except when you drive down the Interstate 5 which is notorious to be boring, and a very straight road. I believe you could drive down without turning your wheels once!

But hey, that’s also a good opportunity to stop on the road and enjoy an In-n-Out burger. Just for that, it’s worth the 6+ hours drive!

Northern Indian food

San Francisco is a great city to discover food from all around the world. Maybe it’s because there are a lot of communities that successfully immigrated in the United States, and brought with them their home cooking and variety of amazing spices, colorful dishes, etc.

Northern Indian food is, I believe, the most recognizable. While being a true neophyte in the domain (I know nothing), I appreciate the regular dishes: chicken tikka masala, naan, paneer, etc.

(Little Delhi has my recommendation for great Northern Indian food at an affordable price in downtown San Francisco.)

Northern Indian food can be described as spicy and creamy in my opinion. I absolutely love a good lamb tikka masala. And it’s only recently that I learnt: this is not the only Indian food you can find and appreciate! But I still have to experiment and learn more about Southern Indian food.

But San Francisco is a great city to get started and experiment with food from different countries. There are plenty: Vietnamese food, Filipino food, South Korean food, etc.

And even though I believe those recipes got westernized, in order to appeal to more people here in the United States, I still believe this is a great way to experiment and appreciate how diverse the food all around the world can be.

Photo by Akhil Chandran on Unsplash

Camping in the US

About a year ago, I went camping for the very first time.

Back in France, I never really liked the idea of camping. For our summer holidays (yes, this is a concept in France, you actually have enough paid time off to go on vacations ha ha) my parents had the camping approach. As a teenager, some of my friends tried to get me to join them as they were chief scouts. But for some reasons*, I never joined them.

However, after spending some time in California, it felt like I was missing out on so many opportunities to discover more nature and landscapes. Because the West Coast of the United States of America really has some of the most beautiful sights I have had the opportunity to see.

And so we (my wife and I) went camping for our very first time! And that was a great first experience, with all the clichés associated with camping: firewood, s’mores, stargazing and much more!

That was a great experience and it gave us confidence to do it again, but this time for a much longer period. This led to the Great Canadian Roadtrip™, but this will need another, much more detailed post.

So, it’s never too late to actually try things and experiment a bit. It can help you discover a new passion or simply another way to travel and experience.

TL;DR I like camping!

*The reasons actually involved bugs and dirt and mud, lots of bugs and dirt and mud, ha ha.

Getting disciplined

First post on my new blog. Unlike the others, this one is a blank page, a fresh start. I know it sounds cheesy…

The goal here is to simply write. Every day. Even a little bit. I don’t have to be clear or have a plan about what I’m going to write. I just need to do it.

Welcome.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash