Monthly Archives: April 2019


I am reading Shaft. I did not even know until recently that it was a novel instead of a movie.

When I read an old genre novel like that, I often have difficulty falling into it. I find myself thinking about the world the writer lived in, and the assumptions he makes, and the world and assumptions of the novel’s target audience. In this case, a lot of that is tied up with race and ethnicity of course — not just blacks but also Italians, and a little bit Jews. And there’s casual homophobia and the novel is sexist as hell. I’m not trying to see these things, they jump out at me and won’t get out of the way so I can just enjoy the story. Perhaps because the story is rather thin.

I’m making the novel sound worse than it is. It’s actually pretty good.

I had the same problem when I tried to read “The Skylark of Space” recently. “Skylark,” by E.E. Smith Ph.D. (that’s how the magazines always ran his byline), was the prototypical space opera, ancestor to Star Trek and Star Wars and the Expanse and all the rest. It was written in 1915-21, and published in 1929.

I was unable to stop marveling at a fully formed space opera written so long ago.

For example, the novel gets around relativity by simply having a character say that “Professor Einstein” was, of course, a genius, but he was wrong. And why not? The theory of relativity was still new and unproved then!

DevonThink maintenance

DevonThink is a great app, but it’s not set-and-forget. You need to do a little maintenance to keep your data safe.

Run Tools, Verify & Repair occasionally to clean out the cruft.

And backup is more important than ever; unlike Evernote or Google Keep, you’re not syncing your data to someone else’s server. Continuously updated backup services, like the very popular and otherwise excellent BackBlaze, can create problems. Arq seems to be OK. More on the DevonThink blog.

Bear parser

The Bear note-taking app has a new parser that downloads web pages, converts them to markdown, and strips out the clutter. It works quite well.

The DevonThink parser is, on the other hand, horrible. Worst part of an otherwise fine program. Unable to process an uncluttered view.

Devon Technologies needs to get to work on this; it’s a solved problem. Safari Reader, Instapaper, Pocket and the Mercury Parser are all great — no comparison to DevonThink at all.

I am breaking this blog in two (again)

Short version: Instead of posting everything to first and syndicating to, I’m going to start posting most of that stuff to directly. I’ll save for more infrequent, important updates.

I’m not making any changes, for now, to Twitter/@mitchwagner and Facebook/Groups/ThingsMitchWagnerSaw, and hopefully people who subscribe to my daily newsletter won’t see a change either.

Longer version:

I’m moving my ephemeral activity to That’s the vast quantity of links to news articles, memes, retro-ads, photos and illustrations, and other items of interest that until now I’ve posted daily to is going to be a low-frequency blog, containing only content I’ve created — posts I’ve written, and photos and videos I’ve taken. Those tings will also be shared automatically to Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and my daily newsletter.

And I’ll continue to post the ephemera to Twitter/@mitchwagner and Facebook/Groups/ThingsMitchWagnerSaw, as I have been, as well as to my daily newsletter. Nothing there changes.

What this means to you, dear reader

Nothing changes if you follow me on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, or the email newsletter.

If you follow me on and you like all the ephemera, you’ll need to add (or Twitter, Facebook or the email newsletter). For Tumblr, you don’t need to register, just bookmark that page. There’s also an RSS feed.

I post all the same content to all four places, but not always at the same time. So if you want to be sure to see everything, pick any one of those four places and you’ll be fine.

If you want to follow me in more than one place, well, have at it.

How long will this situation remain stable?

Forever, or until I get tired of it. I seem to enjoy fiddling with my social media setup as much as I do actually using it. I’ve switched to and away from Tumblr as my primary blogging platform several times over the years. It seems likely I will switch away again when I get distracted by something newer and shinier.

As for you, my dear readers; if you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or the newsletter, just keep doing what you’ve been doing and you’ll be fine. If you follow me on, and you want to keep seeing the ephemera, switch to one of those other platforms, and you’ll be fine.

How to Tip

I only skimmed the recent Twitter controversy about tipping, but it has led me to resolve to get more conscientious about tipping. I’ve gotten sloppy.

I’ve gotten in the bad habit of stiffing chambermaids if I don’t have singles in my wallet. I need to get singles when I check in to the hotel and put those singles aside to tip the chambermaid.

I’m already routinely tipping 20% at restaurants, but I tip on the card rather than cash – time to go back to tipping in cash, though I do hate to use cash.

Also, I’ve read elsewhere you should tip take-out and counter service restaurants 10%, and I’ve been doing that for the past few months. On the card, rather than cash.

Gah, I’m going to have to make a habit of carrying around singles, aren’t I? Feh.

The Rise of Elective Sobriety

This article is one of an occasional series of reminders I get that I live on a planet where alcohol is very important to many people. I like a drink now and then but I’m fine going without, and often do for weeks or months at a time.

Calamity Jane

Martha Jane Canary or Cannary (May 1, 1852 – August 1, 1903), better known as Calamity Jane, was an American frontierswoman and professional scout known for being an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok and fighting against Native Americans. Late in her life, she appeared in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. She is said to have exhibited compassion to others, especially to the sick and needy. This facet of her character contrasted with her daredevil ways and helped to make her a noted frontier figure.She was also known for her habit of wearing men’s attire. Much of what she claimed to have witnessed and participated in cannot be proven. It is known that she had no formal education and was an alcoholic.