LaTeX and XML

And now for something completely different…

It is no secret (at least to those who know me) that I use Leslie Lamport’s LaTeX as my principal tool for producing written output. LaTeX is based on (one of my heroes) Donald Knuth’s TeX typesetting system. TeX was developed to support Knuth’s writing of computer science texts. Because of TeX’s beautiful output (especially of maths), others soon took up the tool.

(I despise Microsoft Word… and in general any word-processing software.)

Some time later Lamport wrote a set of macros that make TeX typesetting easier for those of us unfamiliar with the intricacies of TeX, which is decidedly low-level (but provides extreme control over output). I took up LaTeX in the 1990s while working with/on hydraulic models for U.S. Geological Survey. I loved the ease of producing very nice looking text, textbook quality maths, and working in a non-WYSIWIG environment. (Windows was just coming along at the time and I hated it.)

During that time, I actively supported something called Literate Programming, which was another Knuth creation in which both source code and documentation derive from the same file. I used the literate paradigm to produce several programs and maintained the Literate Programming FAQ list for the mailing list associated with users and interested parties of literate programming. Because there was a need to publish the FAQ in a variety of formats, I ultimately cast the source in an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) variant called Docbook. I had tools that converted the source to HTML and LaTeX (and plain text as well).

There are times when I’d like to publish maths here on my site. Yes, topics that involve mathematics still interest me and will continue to do so while I draw breath. But publishing maths in HTML is problematic. There is no standard approach that can produce beautiful mathematics rendering.

I just learned about a project, PreTeXt (http://mathbook.pugetsound.edu/index.html), that is based on XML and can produce EPUB, PDF, and HTML from a single XML source. TeX is used to set mathematics. I have not yet experimented with the work, but the prospect of producing e-reader formatted output, as well as HTML, that contains TeX maths is very interesting to me.

Therefore, once I finish working through my backlog of paying work, I think some experimentation with PreTeXt is needed. It might change the way I approach writing work. It will be interesting.

Red

On our walk along the Carson River Friday, we came upon these red berries or buds. I’m not sure what they are, but they provided an interesting contrast to the white rocks in the background.

We walked later than usual on Friday. I decided to do the strength workout before walking, so after taking care of some work and feeding us, we left the house about 1100h and headed for Silver Saddle Ranch. I really enjoy walking the Mexican Ditch Trail.

We parked at the usual staging area and humped down the hill through the ranch complex. I noticed an North American Kestrel that I first saw a few days ago, sitting in a tree. He flew off down the lane a hundred yards and perched on a fence post. As we continued walking the lane, he spooked and flew off across the hayfield. That made me smile and I spoke to him as he flew away.

I so enjoy seeing birds along the walk. I carry binoculars in my kit so I can watch them. I have an application on my iPhone that helps me identify them. My logging of my sightings is used by the Cornell Ornithology Unit to track populations, I’m certain.

I also identified a Northern Flicker as we walked the trail. I often hear woodpeckers working as we walk, but they are furtive and do not want to be seen. But Friday I spotted one and was able to observe him long enough to get an identification. His call confirmed my identification. He didn’t stay on his perch long, however. But I also spotted a female at the same location, and she was very spooky. She used her camouflage to hide against the bark of a cottonwood tree she occupied. I was amused and thankful for seeing both birds.

There was a lot of flow in the Carson River that afternoon. I supposed we had enough rain and snow in the mountains to raise the flowrate substantially. We paused at the dam to watch and listen to the water flowing over the weir. I noticed some red buds or berries on some scraggly brush along the Mexican Ditch, so we paused a few minutes for me to make an image.

There we met Linda and Austin. Linda is a tall, slender woman about my age. She’s clearly taken care of herself. Austin is her rambunctious black dog. Austin teased and irritated The Girl until she chased him. They were a hoot to watch. We all shared the path back to the ranch buildings and then parted ways, each on their path.

It was a good day. The walk did me good. The birds provided some intellectual stimulation and joy. The exercise is always good. A tired dog is a happy dog. So is a tired old man.

Washoe Valley Panorama

It’s not my best panoramic shot, but it captures the moment the Girl and I were on the Deadman’s Creek Trail.

The weather turned wet and gray yesterday evening. On our last walkies of the day, we drove over to the old orphanage doggie park and walked a circuit. It was spitting rain and the wind blew. While not cold, it wasn’t the best weather.

But The Girl is good so long as she’s moving. She’s hates being wet (but loves the snow), so I heard her shake now and again as she sniffed around. It’s a good sound and I enjoy.

The windproof hoodie I wore was enough to keep me warm. It was dark when we got out, but not bad with a light. So I enjoyed the outing and the time with The Girl.

I had to make a grocery run, so we drove to store, did the necessary reprovisioning to keep us fed, and returned home. It began raining not long after. I was glad to be home and have provisions for the next few days.

This morning is gray and rainy. I need to get out for a walk, so I’ll probably grab the M65 field jacket, put on my base layer bottoms, and get The Girl out for a walk. I really want to go walk the Carson River again today, so I think we will. Maybe there will be a photo-op out there. It will be a very different look from the recent walks.

But I was reminded of the wonderful hike we made up Deadman’s Creek Trail Sunday afternoon. While at the gazebo that overlooks Washoe Valley, I paused to make a panoramic image of the view. The fall colors are so warm and contrast so well with the cool colors of lake and sky. There is more water in Washoe Lake than I recall since we moved here in 2007. It is good to see.

It is a good. It was a good weekend. Now I’m off to go walk before the rains get started again. Life is good.

Willow Leaf

While walking the Riverview Park trail a couple of weeks ago, I spent a little time experimenting with a Wollensak lens.

Well, here is the last of my images from the fall Riverview Park hikes. The leaves are almost gone now and the trees are all dressed in their winter clothes. While there will be many days of hard blue skies and warm sunshine, the warm colors of summer and fall are gone.

But it is good. The change of seasons reminds me of changes of life. There is no constant; it is always dynamic. Sometimes the changes come so fast they take breath away, leaving one aswirl in thoughts and emotions as the changes are absorbed, if not understood or accepted.

At other times there is a slower ebb and flow to life, during which we ride those waves. The seasons remind me of those times as I walk daily the trails and watch the change in the position of the Sun and the change in the living things around me.

The slower times provide opportunity to reflect and process the times of faster change. It is good. Life is good.

Riverview Ruminations

On this beautiful fall morning, the Girl and I walked part of the Riverview Park trail. The sky was so beautiful it took my breath away.

I have second-day DOMS today. I woke late, moved slowly, drank coffee, and fed us. Then we gathered our things (or rather, I gathered our things) and we drove out to Riverview Park, a nice area near the Carson River. I wanted to walk in a rural environment, take in the cool morning air, get a little sun, and give my legs a chance to warm up and work some of the soreness from them.

I listened to a walking meditation while the Girl explored the sagebrush. Then I put on some music to walk by, but I left the isolation setting of my Bose QuietComfort 20s turned off so I could hear the environment around me. I kept the volume low as well. I wanted the music, but I didn’t want to be isolated.

As I walked the trail, I thought about Wife. There remains a little sadness many days that Wife left so early, really just as life was starting to become more interesting again — the kids grown, approaching retirement, and spending some time together traveling. But, it is what it is; she’s gone and my life is completely different now.

I thought about what happened is Las Vegas. The blood isn’t even cleaned up and the left is already screaming. No good tragedy should go unused… It disgusts me. I don’t hate the left and do not want to see them hurt. I just want their ideals and policies to be buried.

I don’t call them liberals anymore. I call them communists because they think the answer to all problems is more government control. They will not be satisfied until there is no private property and no business is run by an individual or corporation; there will only be bureaucrats. We might as well institute the commissars here.

I don’t much care for my frame of mind today. I know I need to give my body time to heal after pushing it so hard. I know I need to give law enforcement time to figure out why what happened in Las Vegas happened. Regardless of that outcome, there remains evil at large in the world. It will strike again, firearms or no firearms.

Sigh… I really enjoyed the view at Riverview Park this morning. There are enough clouds to give the incredibly blue sky texture. The iPhone8 is quite capable at making panoramic shots and this one captures the essence of what I saw. So I have a memory of the morning, beyond the drag of my internal dialogues. I think I’ll focus on the images and let the rest go, at least for now.

Morning Walkies

Shot on morning walkies with the Panasonic G3 and a Fujian 50mm f/1.4 lens with a short extension tube. I like this lens.

I took some time on morning walkies to think about what just happened in Las Vegas. I will never understand what makes men do such awful things. And “awful” does not begin to describe the event.

The usual suspects will start screaming about gun control. There will be cries for the government to do something about this. Although it is certain that the government can restrict some of the tools used to perpetuate such awful acts, there is no way to stop mass attacks. It is possible that the use of firearms can be eliminated (although that is doubtful). But there will remain so many improvised weapons that cannot be restricted.

Life is short. A YouTuber I watch reminds his followers often to practice “spiritual fitness.” Be right with God, say what you need to say to your loved ones, every day. Because you never know when your last day will arrive. You might walk out the door on any given morning and not return.

That’s no reason to be paranoid. I don’t leave the house every morning expecting to never return. But I am reminded every now and again to be sure that my family knows I love them. Should I not return from the day, they will know that. Because there are no guarantees I will return. There are no guarantees in life, except that we will not get out of it alive.

Whatever. Life is good.

My Best Friend

I don’t believe a dog is owned, at least not by me.

The Girl is ready to go. She’s on overwatch for invaders, namely the neighborhood cats who enter the yard to tease her. She’ll tell me if they come into range and will be ready to go.

This dog is my best friend and constant companion. Young Son and I were talking about her just last night. There is so much that could be said about the impact of this dog on my life.

I tell people (probably too many times) that “we rescued each other.” Those who know me know the backstory of how she came to live with us. There is no doubt that she offered much comfort to Wife during her illness and treatment. There is no doubt she was, and is, there for me every day. We are there for each other.

Some people think dogs are property. Perhaps they are in the view of the law. But my understanding is much different now. They are not livestock or pets; they are partners. We work together as a team when we are out and about. I trust her implicitly. If she doesn’t like someone, neither do I. If she leads me away from something, there’s a reason.

In the same way I watch out for her. There are many dangers out there that she does not comprehend or foresee. There are things I know are dangerous that she does not. So I am also on overwatch for her.

We are a team. We are partners.

Old Man Willow

We walk by this old willow often.

Along the wetland that was once the Carson Flume and Lumberyard is a cluster of old willow trees. In the summer, their shade provides a nice respite against the direct sun. They also provide a place for the birds to sit and sing.

We often pause on our walks here for a few moments to listen to the birds and enjoy the shade. Then we press on.

Napping

There is not much better than napping with the Girl on a sunny winter afternoon.

One of the things I like about my current life is that there is generally no reason why I cannot have a nap in the afternoon. On these sunny winter afternoons, the sun shines through the bedroom window onto the bed. The Girl loves to sun herself. After a long walk this morning (and a short night last night), I decided a nap would be good.

So, we snuggled for an hour or so, the warm sun on us both. The simple comforts of the warm sun and my best friend are so rich.

Christmas 2016

It was cold last night and there was much frost this morning. This bottle caught my eye while we were on walkies.

The Girl is finishing up her treat. After walkies, I put a little peanut butter in her Kong toy and gave it to her. Merry Christmas, Ki! We’ll have a play in a bit, once I get my pumpkin pie in the oven. When the pie is done, then I can put the turkey breast in to roast for dinner later today.

My best friend and my youngest son will come over this afternoon to celebrate Christmas. It will be a good celebration and an excellent way to remember the birth of the Christ child. Wife would approve, I believe.

The capture is from walkies this morning. We got out a little late, given that it is very cold this morning — about 10F. That’s our coldest for this year to date and I didn’t want to get the Girl out in that until the sun was up. The sun shone this morning and that made the walk a wonderful time. The warm sunlight and the brisk air felt good. They certainly made for a very frisky Girl!

We met one of our doggie-friends at the old State School, Andy and Hercules. Hercules loves the cold air and will play a little bit, before walking over to me to lean on my leg for scratchies. We visited a few minutes before Andy and Hercules departed for other things. Ki and I finished our walk, had a bit of play, and then settled in for the day.

On the way home I reflected a bit on my life. It’s certainly different than it was and far different from what I expected a few years ago. Yet, I find myself happy with my life and enjoying the time to putter and spend with the Girl. I love my walks, our plays, and my project work. These are enough and I’m thankful and joyful.

I’ll get started cooking in a few minutes. I will finish my coffee first and then get on with it. There isn’t too much to do, really. The turkey is easy and none of the other dishes are difficult either. Perhaps Young Son will arrive in time to peel potatoes. Heh…

Merry Christmas all. Life is good!