[July 3, 2022]

I wrote a little Python script that does something useful: it takes an image file and pads it with white space (or whatever color space) to make it have a certain aspect ratio. Basically it turns this:

into this, which is 8x10:

This came about because I was trying to print some photos on photo-printing websites and was extremely annoyed that they (Shutterly, NationsPhotoLab, etc) will happily try to print a photo in any aspect ratio you choose, but will mindlessly crop the photo to that size and refuse to let you fit the whole thing in the frame. It’s a perfectly reasonably request to print an 8x8 photo on 8x10 paper with blank space around it! And yet somehow it is hard.

(This Wirecutter article even complains about the same thing, sheesh.)

I mention this here because: even though I write code every day for work, I only do things for personal utility, like, once a year, maybe? And it feels stupid and tragic to have a craft skill and barely use it — so when I actually do use it, even if it’s somewhat trivial, maybe it’s worth making a note of. Maybe it will be useful to somebody else, someday.

(In this day and age, of infinite social media posts showing crafty people doing clever things, things that you or I imagine we could be doing every day if only we had the — will? patience? quality? — it is easy to feel bad, all the time, about the days we are wasting and the skills we are squandering.

Indeed, I originally made this blog for myself basically in order to ‘save my work’, to stave off the feeling that I had produced nothing in my free time, at a time when I was spending each unemployed day dredging up obscure math papers and musing obessively over leftover confusions from undergraduate physics.

Well! The best psychological move is surely to not worry about what we have and haven’t done with ourselves — and not feeling anxiety about failing to do something is, paradoxically, the best way to do end up doing it.

But another not-so-bad move is to do a few things, however small, and let ourselves feel good about them. Right?)