three dots …


Good evening! Please take up a chair; I will bring you some hot chocolate in a moment. Feel free to browse.

This is the website of me, Alan Rempel. I am a student at the University of King's College (Halifax, NS), as well as a chorister there. I am fond of tea and wool sweaters. I like programming in Haskell, especially when I have no spare time in which to do so.

This website consists, at the moment, solely of my blog, which I update according as I have spare time and whim. It is displayed in full below.

I have started using a paper notebook for an agenda/planner/to-do-list thing, and I find it works for me much better than any of the various electronic, computer-based solutions that I have tried! Partly this is because the computer continually offers me distractions, ways of getting wrapped up in computing, when all I actually need to do is jot down what I have to do today. Paper and pen are less intrinsically exciting. A specific case of this: I can waste all kinds of time configuring whatever computer tool I use, but there is no such thing as that with the paper notebook, because the act of “configuring” it and the act of using it are one: both consist in writing lines, symbols, and characters with the pen on the page. The configuration is done in exactly the same medium as the content. The reason this is not so with computer-based tools is that, while writing prose on a computer is the easiest thing in the world, organizing that prose visually – as one wants to do when one is making an agenda (a section for each day of the week, say) – is much more cumbersome. The obvious solution is to automate it – create a template for the desired layout (in the form of HTML or org-mode or whatever one wishes) – but this introduces brittleness, and the necessity of the dreaded configuration. There's no way around it. That said, some computer-based task-management or calendar-management tools are actually very very good – but they cost at least as much as my notebook did, and I have more confidence that my notebook will be useful to me – for a long time and in a variety of contexts – than any piece of software.

– Updated

I wanted to write a new blog post tonight, but when I re-rendered the site and had a look at it, I was perplexed to find that all my posts were gone! I checked my ‘posts’ folder, and indeed, I had apparently somehow deleted them all. I may have a means of recovering them; I'll have to investigate further.

But how is it, you ask, that you can still see all my posts in the very flesh, sitting just below this one? The answer is this: I write my posts in a different format than that in which they are provided to your web browser; I deleted those original files that I wrote myself, but I had already compiled them into the hypertext files that the web browser reads, and so all the posts still exist in that format (namely, the HyperText Markup Language).

The upshot, then, is that nothing has changed you, the reader of this blog, but for me, its author, the blog is considerably more awkward to edit and update. For that reason, I will probably no longer have an ‘All Posts’ page separate from the home page, since I now have to copy and paste post titles between the two pages to keep them in sync. (But then again, a little copy-and-pasting is good for the soul …)

Three Dots is now live at!

More or less on a whim, I purchased the domain tonight and pointed it to this website. Thus you can now access this website at, which is considerably shorter and more memorable than Three Dots will continue to be available at the latter domain for the foreseeable future. The nice thing about, though, is that I can continue to point that to my website no matter where I host it—as opposed to or, which contains the name of the hosting provider, and in fact they control the domain.

While I was sitting in the café this morning, I saw a bus rolling sure-wheeledly down Oxford street – on its electronic displays, instead of a route number, it said “STUFF A BUS”. I was mightily perplexed …

Pasta e ceci

I made this recipe for a quick pasta with chickpeas the other day, and it is totally brilliant. It is probably the second or third easiest recipe for a nourishing and delicious supper that I have ever made. And it only uses ingredients that I virtually always have in my cupboard!

(Part of the trick is that it has you cook the pasta in the sauce. This is a technique Deb Perelman has advocated for before, I believe.)

This city is a strange place—so much of it is paved.

The trees here—it must be lonely for them, not being in a forest;—stretching their roots out and finding mostly soil not nourished by sunlight.

On Airplanes

Airplanes are placeless:—this is my insight about airplanes. Travelling by airplane is essentially a form of teleportation, in that it involves travelling from a starting point to a destination without traversing any of the intervening places. One does traverse some kind of intervening space (namely, some part of the atmosphere), but this is not humanly habitable space – not space that has the capacity to contain places.—What then of mid-journey airport layovers? Well, airports tend to be placeless, or un-placed, or deprived of place-context, or only-quasi-places, in a different sense: they are typically very poorly connected to the urban fabric of the city which they serve.

Purple sparks

In which I remember fondly my magic powers.

Different Ways to Pray by Naomi Shihab Nye

My friend sent me this a while ago.

There was the method of kneeling,
a fine method, if you lived in a country where stones were smooth.
The women dreamed wistfully of bleached courtyards,
hidden corners where knee fit rock.
Their prayers were weathered rib bones,
small calcium words uttered in sequence,
as if this shedding of syllables could somehow
fuse them to the sky.

Salted tahini choco­late chip cookies

I baked some! Recipe courtesy of David Lebovitz.

They turned out re­ally well! It’s a very soft and sticky dough, and the cook­ies ex­panded dur­ing bak­ing quite a bit more than I an­tic­i­pated. The re­sult is not ac­tu­ally such a rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent cookie than you might sup­pose from the typ­i­cal choco­late chip cookie;—the tahini just adds a lovely nutty and slightly bit­ter shade, with­out chang­ing the tex­ture much. Will def­i­nitely make again.

I was bored this afternoon, so I ate a raw clove of garlic.

That’s all.

While skating at the Oval this afternoon with a few friends, I felt compelled to offer an explanation for why I was alternating smooth skating with bouts of stumbling: “Sometimes I space out for a moment and suddenly I’m no longer in the zone! But it’s okay, I just take a moment to center myself and get back in the groove.” My friend thought this remark expressed a truth about my essence. I think he was right; also, I am sure my skates were not laced tightly enough.