Actually it's the easiest part of the language because it's 99% phonetic with some few exceptions, the whole alphabet is in reality quite small and it was actually easier to learn how to read Russian than reading English. The hard part is actually more the grammar (with those cases) and the vocabulary more than the reading itself. I still have a very basic level but the alphabet part took like only 4 hours maybe to remember them all.
But it's also the same when coding, the hard parts are not always where I expect them to be.
As you may know, this also applies to optimizing code. The 'hot' parts of the code are very often things that you don't expect.
In my best practices and I learned this from a video by Grace Hopper, is to use less code to do the same thing. Less code takes up less memory and usually runs faster.
Just writing code and then compiling it without any errors doesn't mean it is done. You still have to optimize it and do security checks as well as quality checks. You still have to check for bugs and side effects. You have to use it and think like a user would to see how the user would see it.
Unless of course you are having performance issues and you have identified this code block as the issue.
I don't think many people will advocate reducing line count by stuffing the same processing into fewer lines using clever tricks. What should always be considered a good thing though, is cutting down on the line count by changing the algorithm/strategy, using better suited data structures, by trying to 'do less' and get the same result, not trying to support every thinkable corner case you will never run into, by preferring multiple simple implementations of the same thing for different corner cases, over one single complex kitchen-sink solution, by not re-inventing the wheel and using tried & tested libraries/frameworks, etc.
I know it sounds like a terrible cliche, but any line you don't write, is a line that can't contain bugs ;-). Over the years I've learned that almost always, simplicity is preferred over complexity, even if it implies a little bit of duplication, or an implementation that is 'less awesome' because it 'only' does what is needed for the application.
That definitely wasn't what I was expecting to be hard when considering whether to have a baby.
(Fortunately they get more interesting over time.)
A close second though was definitely the boringness of watching them constantly. My best friend said his showers and time on the toilet are 2 - 3x longer as it's his only respite.
Dinosaurs? the best thing in the world. We don't have enough toys, books, and videos even available to us to satisfy. Toy tools? he's "fixing" everything. Usually with brute force. Toy pliers broke, so toy saw was tried and found to be a far superior tool for everything. It is a better hammer, better wedge, better saw, and better chisel than any other piece of plastic in his arsenal.
Then again, the level of intelligence is hilariously lacking. I mean, he's 3, what do you expect? Either way, you have to choose your activities carefully so that you can watch them without becoming a sleep-deprived under-stimulated zombie.
For the first few months all they do is eat shit and sleep. Literally.
The examples of difficult subject matter the author gives (particularly math) are so intimidating to some people that they miss out on a lot of great stuff because they conclude "I could never do that".
I don't think the author wants people to make poor time estimates and suffer budget overruns.
To me, the message of the article reads: "If you think something looks worthwhile but difficult, take a stab anyway. Often the hairiest, prickliest parts of the undertaking from an outsider's perspective aren't that tough at all once you're in the thick of it"
I 100% agree with you about how valuable conservatism is when you're planning, but I think the author's encouragement is intended for people who haven't even considered planning yet.
I think the investing 10 hours in learning a new thing is more than enough to get the initial estimate you describe. Probably even 5 would be enough. That's 10 pomodoros. It's something I'm willing to consider to throw at totally random things to see if they are actually as hard as I think, and if I actually want to learn them.
Most people don't really spend even 15 minutes, to the clock, on things they think are hard to learn - and so underestimate just how much you can progress with as little as few hours, if you actually sit down and do it.
 - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8197334
Of course, you get those bugs that occur with seemingly zero difference in your methods, and that's when you need to start thinking creatively...
Two weeks in, I haven't cut myself once, and I shave faster and better than I ever have.
Still though, the blade price alone makes the effort worth it. Plus I had a few solid months of a feeling of superior manliness, and the glory of using a shaving brush has yet to wear off in the last year and a half. How did I go years without using a shaving brush?