Friend to the Humanities

On Zoom this afternoon I talked about my 2019 The Government That Swallowed a Pond presentation with Josh MacFadyen’s geospatial humanities class at the University of PEI.

When Josh introduced me, he referred to me as “Friend to the Humanities,” which I thought a lovely way of describing my relationship to academia. I may have to produce business cards with that title.

Josh and his students were uncommonly engaged, and we had as much discussing as I did presenting; I enjoyed that.

Masked Foggy Glasses Haircut

We emerged from “Modified Code Red” into what I keep referring as “snapback,” but is actually called “circuit breaker,” and I used the opportunity to get a haircut. It had been 104 days since the last one.

Every haircut I emerge looking just a little bit more like my mother’s father; as he was among the gentlest people I’ve ever known, I focus on the hope that I inherit his demeanour as well as his widow’s peak.

Adorning my Outgoings

As part of an orgy of stationery buying from Sumthings of Mine in the late fall, I acquired a Chinese Mini Traditional Calendar:

Palm-size Chinese lunar traditional for the 365 days of the year!

Lunar calendar (农历) is a great creation with its inventions of the intercalary month and the 24 solar terms. It is still used for marking traditional East Asian holidays such as the Chinese New Year, the Duan Wu Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Winter Solstice Festival and many more. In astrology, it is used for choosing the most auspicious date for a wedding or the opening of a building.

This calendar is a tear off calendar, which you could tear down each page day-by-day easily. After tearing the pages off, you could store them on your pages, or use them to adorn your outgoings or any collage artworks.

All that in a single calendar!

Photo of my page-a-day calendar in the Reinventorium, along with a fountain pen and 3D model of a globe.

I’m still sorting out what each part of each day’s markings mean:

  • The characters under WEDNESDAY are Wednesday in Chinese.
  • Rejab is the seventh month of the Islamic calendar.
  • It’s the year 1442 on the Islamic calendar, which appears in the bottom right.
  • The 19 in the bottom left is the age of the Moon.

If you know more than that, please let me know.

(In the background: a newly-acquired Ferris Wheel Press fountain pen sitting in a 3D printed phone holder and two halves of a 3D printed Earth).

An iOS Shortcut to Send iPhone Battery Level to a URL

For reasons only related to his mentioning of battery levels and automation in his 2021 Week Eight update, I was prompted by Paul Capewell to see if there was a way to send the current battery level of my iPhone to a URL where I could archive it.

This turned out to be pretty easy; because there’s no simple way to share Shortcuts, here are some screen shots. I created a new Shortcut called Post Battery Level and added the URL where I wanted to send the value (I’ve redacted that URL in the screen shot):

iPhone screen shot showing Shortcut for setting URL

Next I get the battery level (there’s a built-in scripting component for this — search for ”Get battery”), and use the “Get contents of URL” component to HTTP POST the value as a form, with the battery level sent as the “battery” field:

iPhone Shortcut screen shot showing getting the battery level and POSTing it

On the server side, the simplified version of what I do is this, a short PHP script to grab the value and stick it in a MySQL table with a timestamp:


if ($_POST) {

  $db = new mysqli("localhost", "REDACTED", "REDACTED", "REDACTED");

	$query = sprintf("INSERT into battery (battery_date, battery_level) values ('%s', '%s')",
				strftime("%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S"),
				mysqli_real_escape_string($db, $_POST['battery']));

	if (mysqli_query($db, $query) === TRUE) {
		header("HTTP/1.1 201 OK");

When I run the Shortcut, a new battery level row gets added to the table:

2021-03-01 17:09:14	82
2021-03-01 17:10:20	82
2021-03-01 17:13:28	82
2021-03-01 17:21:28	82

There’s one stumbling block if I want to run this, say, every 15 minutes: to do that requires either using the Automations tab in Shortcuts to create a new schedule for each time I want the Shortcut to run — 00:00, 00:15, 00:30, etc., 96 in all — or to set up a “repeat” loop in the Shortcut itself, with a 15 minute pause inside the loop, which works, but then renders the Shortcuts app unusable otherwise.

Perhaps in a future version of the Automations setup there were be the “run every X minutes” option that I wished there would be.

In any case, thank you to Paul for the diversion.

What the first five minutes of recent COVID briefings has felt like…

On exigent COVID days, our Premier has taken to appearing for a few minutes of scene-setting cum pep talk before Dr. Heather Morrison. When what we really want to know is whether school is cancelled, we may have ordered pizza from a COVIDy place, or what the case count is.

Few would dispute that the Premier has kept a cool head throughout the past year; there’s a time to lead, though, and a time to get out of the way.

See you in 196 days…

As a result of the Modified Code Red here (I still have no idea what the “Modified” means), the dental appointments that Oliver and I had scheduled for tomorrow morning were cancelled. The next available appointments were September 13. Which gives you some idea of the spill-on effect of taking three days out of a dental office already running at reduced capacity.

Fortunately we’re in good dental health, having been to the dentist last fall; the nice thing about being on an every-6-months cleaning schedule is that a delay like this just temporarily kicks us back to a more typical once-a-year. Add that to our upgrade of home toothbrushing infrastructure and I think we’ll be okay.

Let’s all raise a glass to the medical and dental secretaries of the Island who will be spending today building new jigsaw puzzles.