Where are the unknown unknowns?

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

Quote from then United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in answer to a question at a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) news briefing on February 12, 2002.

I love this quote, because in software testing, we are always hunting the "unknown unknowns," that bug we believe exists but haven’t caught up to yet, that new technique for a different kind of test we haven’t tried before, and the hunt for the pernicious but tiny flaws that grow over time into horrible ugly nastiness.

2016 in review

I drove a race car around a Nascar circuit in March for my 41st birthday, reaching 106mph! It was an awesome birthday gift from my husband.

I was promoted to 1st degree black belt, on Friday 13th May, by Ben Pratt of Tracy’s Karate West. Started this journey in December 2008 with Karen Luesse as my instructor, switched to Ben after Karen went out for surgery late December 2013.

We visited Washington DC for our 21st wedding anniversary, saw Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center, and went to the White House and the Smithsonian.

I read thirty-five books in 2016, two were re-reads. I started but did not finish nine additional books, I’m getting comfortable with not finishing a book that does not hold my attention. This was the year I started using highlighter pencils and writing in books, starting with Ryan Holiday’s "The Obstacle is the Way" in October.

In 2016 I knit twenty-six projects, fourteen of which were gifted to people. Older projects were also gifted, I’ve given over a hundred and twenty knitted projects away over the eight years I’ve been tracking projects on Ravelry.

I wrote 50,000 words of a passable novel in November (still in progress), my eleventh novel from thirteen years doing NaNoWriMo. I believe I may have a great novel in me, and I’m eleven novels closer to that manuscript than when I started writing in 2004. My lifetime NaNoWriMo word count is 589,088 words.

Now, January 2017

Thinking about
What habits do I want to install in my life? I’m learning the Elixir language with a tutorial and book from Big Machine, Taking Off With Elixir. It’s the first functional programming tutorial that hasn’t made me feel like I’m being hit over the head with a heavy mathematics textbook by someone yelling at me that I’m stupid (Haskell and Scala, this means you).

Stimuli and input
I started using highlighter pencils in books I was reading (only ones I own), it makes flipping back through them a lot faster. Started a questions log, to capture questions that get stuck in my head, an idea from Todd Henry’s book Die Empty. Planning to use the back of that notebook to record things I’ve learned, got that idea from an article by Tré Wee, 52 key learnings in 52 weeks of 2016.

Craft and unnecessary creating
Daily doodling will return after my National Novel Writing Month novel is complete. There are three chapters to go and it seems like a decent story. I have a couple of Kickstarter books on drawing, one on figures and one on cartoon character design, that should arrive soon.

Exercise and health
I got my black belt this year, so what’s next? Thinking about a personal push-up challenge. I would like to weigh less and have more endurance.

Better English Scone recipe

I’ve been tweaking my scone recipe to improve structural integrity, after at least three test batches and direction from Angie Ruiz, this is the new and improved recipe.

Better English Scones

Makes about 13 scones and one runty little test scone

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of flour (I used half wheat flour and half wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar (not necessary if you use white flour)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of nutmeg or Penzey’s Cake Spice
  • 6 oz baking raisins, or chopped dried cherries, or chopped dates, or walnuts, or diced orange peel
  • 4 oz butter
  • 4 oz brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • up to 200 ml of milk

Put flour into a bowl, add salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and cream of tartar and mix. Rub butter into flour until mix looks like bread crumbs. Add sugar and mix again.

Stir in the raisins/cherries/dates, make sure they are evenly distributed. Put 100ml of milk into a jug, break an egg into it and beat. Mix in egg/milk slowly with a fork until you have a springy, slightly sticky, dough. You might need more milk, pour out another 100ml but don’t use it all.

On a floured surface, roll out to 3/4 inch thick, cut into 2in rounds and put on a greased baking tray. Brush tops with the leftover milk and sprinkle with brown sugar, or cinnamon sugar if you prefer.

Bake at 450F for 20 minutes, they should be golden brown on top. Eat with butter and strawberry jam or honey at around 3pm, with a mug of hot tea with milk.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Diary, week four

Tuesday 22nd November

Entering the final week-and-a-bit is daunting. I have a LOT of story still to write. Took the day off from writing, lots of stuff going on, including a working lunch and pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping.

Wednesday 23rd November

Taking an hour of vacation time to leave early, get out to Chesterfield and write before my karate lesson at 6pm. The action is heating up, everyone is where I wanted them to be, and the character’s lives are going horribly wrong. Hoping to bring in the Travelling Shovel of Death later in the week.

Thursday 24th November

Happy Thanksgiving! Writing as the scent of roasting lamb fills the house. Only got 343 words done today, but the lamb, roast potato, mashed swede, and boiled carrots were fantastic.

Friday 25th November

Happy ‘stay in your PJs and eat leftovers’ day! I ventured out and got 25% off at the sale in Knitorious, it was quiet and I was among my tribe. Ate the same dinner as yesterday and it was just as good.

Saturday 26th November

Support your local small businesses today, online and offline. Write-in and breakfast at the Crooked Tree Coffee House in St Charles, the last of the novel-writing season. Details from reading The Hot Zone years ago are coming in handy. Crossed the 44k mark today.

Sunday 27th November

Final write-in at The Book House in Maplewood. Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays have been my most consistently good writing days this year, with Tuesdays my worst day of the week. A character woke up long enough to deliver some crucial plot information, I’m grateful, but he’s still going to die. He was supposed to be dead several thousand words ago.

Monday 28th November

Back to work, and three days to go. This is the first year in a long time that I’ll log a word count every day. Planning to validate tomorrow and see how far I can get on Wednesday. Writing at lunch in a phone room called DeLorean. Finished the day’s words before karate at Kaldi’s in Chesterfield.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Diary, week three

Tuesday 15th November

No lunchtime writing today, got lunch with a friend at Blues City Deli. They took the Redbird sandwich off the menu, but you can still order it. Very little writing done today, I’m tired and brain-fried.

Wednesday 16th November

Moved on to a new piece of the story, something I need for the mid book crisis. Wrote at lunch in the Wheelhouse by work, feeling exhausted. Called to cancel my karate lesson for the day, I hate missing a lesson but I’m so tired today.

Thursday 17th November

Three words written before work, a working lunch, and I’m looking at 1700 words to write before dinner. I got 1100 done, and the rest afterwards. Characters are revealing backgrounds and life stories I hadn’t planned. Wrote a fight scene, that was fun. Things are coming together for the "Oh crap!" crisis in the middle of the story.

Friday 18th November

Had a word war with myself at lunchtime, got 422 words in 10 minutes. I should do that more often! Crossed the 30k line today.

Saturday 19th November

Got 777 words done by the end of knitgroup today. Going to the StLNaNo Evening of Scribbling Recklessly at the Rock Road library tonight, 4pm till 10pm. It’s my first time being in a library after closing. I left at 8:30pm with over three thousand words written in the library. We got pizza delivered, there were word wars, and Paul overtook my word count. Again.

Sunday 20th November

I’m killing off a major character today, and everything is going wrong for my other characters. Another good day of writing between home, Barnes and Noble in Chesterfield, and the Book House write-in. I’m running 2 days ahead of the NaNoWriMo goal word count. Switched to a Lindsey Stirling channel on Pandora and got a good rhythm going.

Monday 21st November

One character is dead, all is falling apart in my story, and the CDC is on their way to set up a quarantine. A whole bunch of characters are about to have a horrible day. Except for the one that died, his day can’t get any worse. Driving straight out to Chesterfield to have an early dinner and write a bit before karate group class and sparring.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Diary, week two

Tuesday 8th November

Election day. Spent an hour in line to vote before work. Decided to drop my 2k a day rule and give myself a break. I’m slightly above the NaNoWriMo standard for day eight and I feel like I’m getting into my stride. Writing arguments and phone calls between characters about things I know from experience.

Wednesday 9th November

Got into a good scene before work, and another one after work in Starbucks. Made the 1667 word goal for the day before my karate lesson. Things are happening in the story, people are arguing.

Thursday 10th November

Another lunchtime of no writing. Shoved myself over the 16k mark after dinner, heading down the home stretch and utterly distracted by searching for titanium sporks on Amazon, because a character has one. Unleashing the Lindsay Stirling channel on Pandora to get my words for the day.

Friday 11th November

Dear new character, thank you for turning up! You’re solving a huge plot problem I didn’t know I had. I’m sorry I’m going to kill you, but your death will really help the story along. Also, you’ll get to wield the Travelling Shovel of Death before you go, I hope that makes up for it a little.

Saturday 12th November

Starting the day well at Crooked Tree Coffee House in St Charles. I forgot my index cards with the plot on, but in just over 90 minutes I made 1315 words. Going to Mauhaus Cat Café this afternoon, so excited!

Sunday 13th November

Starting the day at Kaldi’s in Chesterfield for breakfast and a writing session. Deliberately left the power cord behind to force me to write faster and not use the internet. Annoyed that I have to disable the WiFi service to keep it turned off, something kept turning it back on, it’s a battery hog as well as a time sink. More writing at Barnes and Noble in Chesterfield, then the official write-in at The Book House in Maplewood. Got over 3k words written today!

Monday 14th November

And back to work after a super productive writing weekend. I seem to be less able to write without my Vivaldi channel on Pandora. Crossed the 25k mark and running downhill towards my plot crisis!