Weeknote for 7/12/2020

Self-improvement

πŸ€”

Choice architecture might help me make better everyday decisions. Continuing in my theme of social engineering, I listened to Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, which promotes libertarian paternalism, designing the way choices are presented so that people will choose to benefit themselves. As my brother pointed out to me, this notion is controversial, and I will be digging into that controversy at some point. But for my immediate purpose of improving my own decisions, the book’s tips can be helpful, at least for decisions that don’t require expert knowledge.

😐

Still waiting on energy and order. Due to various factors I’ll explain, I basically ignored the previous week’s advice to myself on sleep and time management, so I still feel like I’m in a netherworld of dysfunction. But every day is a new beginning, so I’ll see what I can do this week.

COVID-19

😐

I got tested for COVID and other issues. Tuesday night I had my second brief fever in about a month, accompanied by the vague symptoms I’ve had on and off since March. So Wednesday I talked to a doctor, he ordered some tests for COVID and inflammation, plus a chest X-ray, and I did all that Thursday morning. The X-ray results were normal, and the COVID antibody test was negative. I’m waiting on the others. Other than tiredness I currently feel fine.

πŸ˜•

I’m starting to feel the stress of this pandemic. Taking care of my medical situation and dealing with a lot of fatigue made the week feel strange and wasted. Plus I worried that I’d been exposing people to COVID, especially at the dentist appointment I kept just before I got the fever (after rescheduling it because of my last fever). The negative antibody test made me feel a little better.

The first few months of lockdown were actually a relief to me. Since I don’t have a family to take care of and I could work from home, it simplified my life so I could focus on fewer concerns. Now that things are opening up, I’m beginning to feel the complexity of managing people’s expectations for what I’m willing to do and then doing those things safely. I can only imagine the stress of parents, teachers, and policymakers deciding what to do about school next month.

Math

😐

I took significant baby steps on the notes2flashcards app. Life and bad time management crowded out the project last week, but I managed to adapt my old code to Cement, a framework for Python console apps I decided to try. It might replace my generator-python-cmd project.

I’m extending the math project again. This week starts the Thinkulum project month of July. As tempting as it is to move back to conceptual modeling or maybe my software development notes, math is too important to too many of my other projects to put it off again. I want to get through at least intermediate algebra and possibly precalculus before I return to other projects.

Cooking

πŸ€”

I’m reworking my meal strategy. There are two factors:

  1. I put off cooking the whole previous week, because the next recipe was going to take too long and I was feeling lazy. So I need to switch to my simpler cookbook (The Four Ingredient Cookbooks), and I’d like to pick recipes that share ingredients so I have flexibility without wasting food.
  2. Last week after 6 months of dieting, I managed to glide past my weight goal. So now I have to figure out how to eat more daily calories without overloading on saturated fat.

Fiction

πŸ™‚

As a follow-up to the 2001 movie, I listened to Arthur C. Clarke’s novel. It was fine and clarified the plot, but for artistry and emotive impact, I actually liked the movie better, which is rare. An interesting tidbit I learned from the introduction: Kubrick and Clarke collaborated on the movie, and Clarke wrote the novel specifically as a precursor to the script.

I forgot to include this in the post about the movie, but I thought the interpretation of spaceflight as a dance was brilliant and perfect, and the first space scene with “The Blue Danube” reminded me of the recent SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 flight. Happily I was not the only one to make this connection (Blue Danube Demo-2 video).

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Weeknote for 7/5/2020

Math

😐

I worked on my notes2flashcards app. It’ll give me an easier way to create lists for Anki’s Cloze Overlapper add-on.

Self-improvement

πŸ€”

The Octalysis framework might help me gamify my life. I listened to Actionable Gamification by Yu-kai Chou. It was a decent introduction to the framework, which seems broad and useful, though I think it’d be hard to apply it in a way that doesn’t feel manipulative. But applying it to yourself is fine, which is what I hope to do.

😐

My new printer and whiteboard give me more self-motivation tools. My first project will be my own version of the Elastic Habits tracker. Later I’ll print motivational quotes and images to scatter around the apartment, maybe even a set of rapscallions, if I ever get around to picking them.

πŸ™‚

I tried to get back into journaling. The idea is to orient my day around it so I reflect more on what’s happening in my life, capture more of my stray thoughts, and keep my ideas flowing. I tend to feel more satisfied with life when I journal. I did pretty well last week, writing most days.

πŸ€”

Stochastic productivity might work for me, but stochastic living does not. Reflecting on my lower mood the past few weeks, I rediscovered two keys to my happiness–energy and order, which translates to sleep and some degree of time management. So I’ll try to return my focus to those in the coming weeks.

TV shows

😎

I started watching season 3 of Dark. After a long wait, it finally came out June 27. I’ve only gotten through one episode so far, but it’s very good as usual. Also still confusing.

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Weeknote for 6/28/2020

Math

πŸ™‚

I paused the math learning to set up some tools. To make it easier to study lists in Anki, I installed the Cloze Overlapper add-on; and to create a math programming cookbook, I learned how to work with Jupyter notebooks (video tutorial).

People

πŸ™‚

I had a visit from my friend Cam and his family. It was really nice to catch up and to get to know his family better and reminisce about our college days.

Health

😐

I’m waiting to see if my socializing was safe enough from the virus. It’s been a week, and so far so good.

Productivity

πŸ™‚

Antonio Cangiano’s Technical Blogging has a lot of promising advice. I’ve decided I need to do more writing, so I’m thinking of ramping up my blogging as a way to do that and to build some kind of presence in the cognitive science community.

πŸ™‚

Neil Fiore’s The Now Habit is like productivity therapy. It had a lot more to say than the two things I remembered from the first time I read it (the unschedule and focusing meditation), and this time I want to think through his advice on reframing “have to” messages.

πŸ€ͺ

I spent all Saturday on the harrowing process of finding a new printer. I’d been putting off replacing my old, broken one because I do everything digitally, but for some kinds of inspiration and motivation I think print-outs will help me more than apps.

Movies

😎

I was pleasantly surprised by 2001: A Space Odyssey. When I half-watched it as a teenager, I thought it was way too slow and boring, but it turned out to have way more content than I expected, and this time I found it very evocative, especially having learned about uplift (video by Isaac Arthur). About AI I learned that it’s good to have manual overrides, though HAL was fortunately not as capable as some of us expect a superintelligent AI to be. Hmmm, if HAL had won, would he have become the Star Child?

Music

😎

The best part of watching 2001 was discovering GyΓΆrgy Ligeti. It kickstarted a project I’d had in the back of my mind, a playlist I’m calling The Numinous Void.

Social issues

πŸ€”

Latasha Morrison’s Be the Bridge is an engaging and gentle introduction to racial reconciliation. I may have discovered the next shell to crack in my personal education in race relations, since I found myself partially resisting the idea of collective guilt.

I paid some cautious attention to Neil Shenvi’s critiques of critical race theory. I only got through a few articles, but I thought his “Critical Race Theory and Christianity” and his review of Stamped from the BeginningΒ offered some reasonable counterpoints.

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Weeknote for 6/21/2020

Math

πŸ™‚

I learned about linear equations and inequalities. At this stage I’m reading three overlapping textbooks, so I’m carefully reading the new content from each and skimming the repetitions. It’s going a bit slower than I expected, but mostly I’m satisfied with my progress. Mostly it’s just nice to be past prealgebra. I’ve also done a couple of the examples on paper now, as opposed to just in my head, and I’ve started taking notes on the less familiar content directly in Anki.

Productivity

πŸ™‚

The distraction blocker is working well. I’ve left a few non-work sites unblocked to keep work from feeling oppressive, but I’ve blocked the distractions that feel uncontrolled. It’s been helpful so far, but we’ll see how it is in a few weeks or months when I lose motivation to obey the blocker.

Stochastic productivity. While I’m putting together my ideas on staying productive when your life is disordered, here are some of my inspirations for this idea that may interest you:

Health

πŸ™‚

I got approval to work from home. Thank you to my generous employer. I’ll probably still try to work in the office when I feel up to it. It’ll depend on how under control my ulcerative colitis is at any particular time.

I got back into walking. I was expecting to put off exercising for weeks or months longer, but I was feeling tired and weak at the beginning of the week, and I knew exercise could give me more energy, so I took a walk around the neighborhood and decided that would be the start of my new exercise program. Since I have no timetable, I’m starting slow and without much of a plan. But I’ll make exercise part of my elastic habits.

πŸ€”

I might be slightly sick. I’ve been feeling vaguely off lately, with a slight fever for a few hours a couple of weeks ago, some achiness, some shaky fatigue, an overly warm feeling, a little cold sensitivity. It comes and goes, so I don’t know what to make of it, but since it’s so slight, I’m just watching it.

Movies

πŸ™‚

Alien: Covenant is about the AI control problem. I watched it last week just because it came up in my Netflix DVD queue, and I was surprised to see it really belongs in my AI movie project. It explores some possible motivations a superhuman AI might have and how those could benefit or harm its creators. I’d heard Alien fans didn’t like this movie, but I didn’t see much that was obviously wrong with it.

Social issues

πŸ€”

Stamped from the Beginning gives me a framework for thinking about antiracism. This was a long history book, so not my usual cup of tea, but I got myself through it. I appreciated Kendi’s opinionated take on the history, because I need a guide in these matters. Some key points:

  1. He divides ideas about racism into three categories: racism, antiracism, and assimilationism (supporting a degree of civil rights but with an ultimately racist rationale).
  2. He observes that a Black person can still have racist ideas about Black people, such as by taking an assimilationist view.
  3. He observes that several strategies for combating racism have always failed, such as uplift suasion, using the success of Black people to persuade white society that Black people are worthy. Racism simply finds new ways to justify itself.
  4. Rather than some flaw in Black biology or culture, he traces the Black community’s problems to circumstances: poverty that results from racist policies.

Sometime soon I’ll listen to his book How to Be an Antiracist for what I hope will be a deeper dive into some of these concepts.

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Weeknote for 6/14/2020

Math

πŸ™‚

I finished the prealgebra chapters. Last week completed the project month of June, and this week starts my version of the extra month of Sol. The OpenStax prealgebra book continues, but at that point its content overlaps with their algebra books, so I’m considering it algebra. I’ll start on that this week and see what my pace looks like. Since it saves time, I’ll keep doing the examples in my head until I feel confused enough to need paper.

Productivity

πŸ™‚

Joseph Reagle’s Hacking Life critiques the life hacker movement. I like to think broadly and consider many perspectives, so this book was important for me. You can read it for free on the publisher’s website. Some key points: (1) Treat yourself and other people like people, not cogs or machines. (2) Consider what hardships your life hacks might place on other people, such as those you outsource your work to. (3) The advice of life hack gurus doesn’t really appeal or apply to everyone, mainly to well-off Silicon Valley types. (4) Life hack gurus often give up after a few years, or they move from one hackery lifestyle to another. (5) The advice can be disingenuous or un-self-aware. For example, Tim Ferriss works way more than four hours a week; he just doesn’t consider it all work. (Plus, he chose the title using market research, not out of a concern for accuracy.) (6) Health hacking can lead to questionable science.

I’m experimenting with stochastic productivity. Now that I’ve regressed from my new-idea enthusiasm to my low-energy, undisciplined mean, I’m trying a different approachβ€”assembling a system of practices that fit into my haphazard way of life. But I didn’t get around to planning from Elastic Habits last week like I’d intended, because I was undisciplined and was also preoccupied with some other tools.

I started exploring the Notion app. For the past few years I’ve used Nirvana for task lists and Evernote for notes. I need a way to mix those functions, and Notion might fit the bill. It’s very flexible, and YouTube tutorials offer a lot of intriguing applications.

I’m trying out a distraction blocker at work. I’ve avoided these because I’ve been worried I’ll block too much or too little or it’ll be too easy to work around. But my discipline has flagged lately, and I wanted to try altering my environment like all the gurus recommend, so I’m finally looking into a blocker. I only need to block websites rather than apps, and I only really need to make them inconvenient enough that I think twice about spending time on them. Out of a list of apps I found, I chose StayFocusd because it’s free and lets me block everything and then apply a list of allowed sites rather than only blocking a few specific sites, because it’s not just Facebook or Twitter that distracts meβ€”it’s the whole Internet. I didn’t start the blocking that week because I needed to sift through a lot of domains from my web history to create my allow list, but I pretended the blocking was on, and so my workday on Friday was way more focused, though not very happy.

Health

πŸ€”

I’m not looking forward to going back to the office. Illinois is on track to enter Phase 4 in a few weeks, and my employer will be bringing people back to the office, with case-by-case exceptions. I might have a good case, since at home it’s way easier for me to work while managing my ulcerative colitis. My friends and family want me to try for it. But I’m also curious how well I can handle my time back at the office, so I might try that even if I can get permission.

I also vaguely worry that I’ll get sick or at least come in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and have to postpone my next Remicade infusion, which would result in a disruptive flare-up. But my latest infusion hasn’t improved my symptoms as much as I expected, so I’m keeping an eye on that.

People

πŸ™‚

An old college friend called. My friend Cam called to catch up on the past many months and to make tentative plans to bring his family by in a couple of weeks. They’ll be road tripping through the area. We’ll probably be wearing masks, but it’ll be good to see them. I was in their wedding.

Social issues

πŸ€”

My church nudged me into exploring antiracism. On Sunday my church’s powerful service of lament with an earnest message from one of our African-American members got me to stop procrastinating on learning some Black history and digging again into issues of racism. To give me context, I’m starting with Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. I think of this project as the fourth phase of my education in feminism and race relations, and I’m looking forward to what I will learn.

One theme that’s in my mind is a point I came across long ago by philosopher Stuart Hackett, that “persons, merely as such and just on account of their personhood, possess intrinsic value or worth. What that means is that persons are not to be construed as merely means or instruments of further ends, but rather as ends in themselves”. This point was reiterated last week by a Twitter thread I found by @jameyhatley: “On [Instagram], white folks are explaining why their Black friends matter. Because they are special. I ain’t special. I matter because I am. Period. … If my neighbor with the loud ass heavy Chevy doesn’t matter, if my conspiracy theory cousin, the strippers, the unhoused, the loud, the crass, the unwell Black folk don’t matter, then none of us do. Including your exceptional lil friends.” All Black lives matter. A truth for me to grow into.

Futurism

πŸ™‚

Futurism is my escapism. I think everyone needs some mental escapes from the heavy times we live in, and I’m finding myself drawn back to the future. Thinking about humanity’s positive possibilities expands my vision and reminds me that the world isn’t at a dead end, or at least it doesn’t have to be. My latest source of inspiration is the upcoming launch of the Mars Perseverance rover, which will do research on enabling humans to live on Mars. It’s set to launch Saturday (Edit: Oops! The launch date is July 20, not June.). NASA has a launch calendar and a YouTube channel where you can keep track.

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Weeknote for 6/7/2020

Math

😐

I got through another chapter. I finished the fractions chapter and part of decimals. I still wasn’t protecting my project time, and I also spent a lot of time on grocery shopping and meal planning. This week I’ll try again to finish through chapter 7, which will take me up to elementary algebra.

Cooking

😐

I spent a lot of time on groceries. I planned the next week or so of meals, which will cover Cauliflower Cheese, Savory Summer Cobbler, and Barley Risotto with Peas. These called for cheese, so I spent a lot of time setting up my shopping list for a new Instacart store that carried some low-fat and fat-free cheeses that would fit into my diet.

Health

πŸ€”

I might exercise soon. I listened to Spark by John Ratey, a book presenting new research on the effects of exercise on brain-related issues (specifically learning, stress, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, addiction, women’s hormonal changes, and aging). Exercise has a life-long place toward the bottom of my priority list, so I was expecting to procrastinate on this book for a while, but several of my other self-improvement books have extolled the benefits of exercise, so I felt ready for this one. I was pleasantly surprised when the book kicked off with a story from a school district in the Chicago area, a revolutionary PE program in Naperville that emphasizes fitness rather than sports, keeps students highly motivated and supportive of each other, and improves their academics. In any case, these books have all motivated me to try to get some exercise back into my life.

Productivity

πŸ€”

I started planning my self-improvement. To make use of all these self-improvement books I’ve been listening to, I did some initial planning. I collected a list of a bunch of sources to draw from; a list of areas of my life that I thought could use improvement, along with some general goals for each; and a list of issues these sources address. Then I used a simpler set of topics to categorize the sources based on the main focus of each to help me sequence my study. My plan is to glance through each source, pick out the advice that seems the most useful to me, and create a basic plan for trying it out. I expect to take this project slowly so I don’t overwhelm myself.

Meanwhile my actual productivity has been on hold as I give myself a break from effort. Not that I’ve been doing nothing, obviously, but I haven’t been trying to optimize my time like I was before. As a result my bedtime has been pretty late, and as I mentioned, I haven’t protected my project time.

While I do want to order my time again, surveying the issues from these books has highlighted that they don’t all take the same approach. For example, two options to reach for happiness are to acquire more of what makes you happy and to learn to be content with less. My default has been maximalism, but I might move my inner needle closer to minimalism. So maybe my productivity should be intentionally flexible. That’s why my experiments will start with Elastic Habits.

I learned how to treat life like a chef’s kitchen. I listened to Everything in Its Place by Dan Charnas (published in the UK and in audio as Work Clean), a discussion of the culinary philosophy of mise en place as a way of managing work. It’s one of the higher intensity self-improvement books in my list, so I don’t know if I have the energy to tackle its advice at the moment, but I do want to try at some point. Most of the productivity sources I’m reading overlap to some degree, and this one is basically a more comprehensive framework to surround GTD, though I’m still waiting for the personal productivity book that advocates all-out professional project management.

Rationality

😐

I learned how to treat life like poker, but not enough. To help me make decisions when considering all these self-improvement approaches, I listened to Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke. It was good but not quite the book I was hoping for, having more to do with counteracting cognitive biases than with specific probability-based decision-making techniques. Still, for a while I’ve thought of all belief and action in life as a set of gambles, so it was nice to hear from someone else who thought the same way, and unlike me, as an accomplished poker player she knows what she’s talking about.

Social issues

😠

The police need serious reform. I spent some time appalled at police treatment of protesters around the country, and their blatant abuses of power have put me in sympathy with calls to reform or even defund the police, though I have questions about disbanding them. To maybe give me some answers, The End of Policing by Alex Vitale is going somewhere in my listening queue.

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Weeknote for 5/31/2020

Math

😐

I read half a chapter. My fatigue was up last week, and my time management was down, so I didn’t get very far in my prealgebra book, only around halfway through the fractions chapter. This week I’ll try to complete my goal for last week, which was to get through the three chapters after fractions. The book is still great, and the material is still mostly review, so it’s pretty easy to get through.

Cooking

πŸ™‚

I rewrote a recipe to make cooking easier. Making the peanut chicken and broccoli at the beginning of the week reminded me again of how chaotic my cooking is each time, so for the beef stroganoff later in the week, I decided to rewrite the recipe to take me step-by-step through an orderly procedure. I got around to the cooking Saturday night, and even though it still took a long time, with my rewritten recipe it felt much less stressful, so the time bothered me less. I also found it’s easier to handle raw meat if I keep it in storage bags instead of their original containers or aluminum foil.

I stretched myself in this recipe. The beef stroganoff was a bit of a personal challenge for me, because (1) I don’t like mushrooms, but I’m trying to get used to foods I don’t like, so I included them; (2) I traditionally haven’t liked mustard or onions, but I’ve gotten more used to them (at least Dijon mustard), so those were in too; (3) I’m going back to chopping my own ingredients (other than garlic maybe), because it’s easier to find decent quantities of raw ingredients than frozen prepared ones; and (4) I’ve avoided chopping onions because I don’t like the onion smell on my hands for days after, but I found out rubbing stainless steel on your hands supposedly works for onions as well as garlic, so I decided to risk it.

It turned out (1) the buttery, garlicky way the recipe had me prepare the mushrooms made me look forward to them, and I didn’t mind eating them at all; (2) the mustard and onions were also fine; (3) chopping food yourself feels more real and satisfying than dumping it in from a bag; and (4) the stainless steel did work.

Productivity

πŸ€”

Finding ways to rise from a trough. Last week continued my productivity slump, but (1) it was clearly tied to fatigue, so I’m letting myself catch up on sleep via naps; (2) the slump reminded me why my productivity tools are important, because having uncontrolled time just isn’t enjoyable; and (3) the productivity books I’ve been listening to are giving me a lot of promising tools, though I still need to make concrete plans to use them. Even though I’m still getting through the last few books on my list, I’ll make the productivity planning my side project for this week.

Elastic habits give you options for continuous progress. I listened to Elastic Habits by Stephen Guise, which recommends (1) choosing three general habits to focus on, (2) defining three different actions that fit under each category and three levels of difficulty for each action, (3) each day choosing a level and activity for each habit, and (4) keeping track of what you did. The goal is to keep your habit chains going by giving yourself flexibility based on your changing schedule and energy level. I want to try this, because as much as I like order, I’m very bad at being consistent at almost anything.

Willpower is doable but complex. Back in 2016 I listened to The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal (her Google Talk about it), and last week I listened again. I’m glad I did, because I have a lot more context now for understanding its insights and advice. The advice is kind of complicated though, so this one may take more time than other books to plan from.

Books

😎

I found a bunch of free books. One of my distractions lately has been the troves of free books I’ve been finding:

News

πŸ˜•

Reconciling good and bad news is challenging. It seems like each year the world ramps up the intensity. I felt it this week when I watched very bad and very good events unfolding at the same time. When it comes to the very bad, there was the tragic death of George Floyd and its aftermath. On the very good side was a successful and historic rocket launch that I personally found inspiring and motivating. I’m only beginning to think about how to give due weight to both the good and the bad.

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Weeknote for 5/24/2020

Math

πŸ™‚

I’m in 3rd grade now. Prealgebra is rolling along. I got through three chapters (whole numbers, the language of algebra, and integers), which means I’ve finally gotten past whole number arithmetic in my relearning attempts. This week I’m aiming for the next four chapters (fractions, decimals, percents, and the properties of real numbers), and then I’ll be ready for algebra.

Productivity

πŸ€”

It’s time to step back and assess my productivity situation. I listened to Atomic Habits by James Clear, which comes up a lot in the productivitysphere. It had a slow and wordy start with insights that felt obvious to me, but eventually it became much more helpful, and I recommend it. But listening to yet another self-help book reminded me that I need to pause soon and lay out what I’ve gleaned from these books and plan how to put it into practice.

After that I listened to The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, which has come up in several of the other books. My current job has taught me the value of checklists and procedures, and the book gave me some extra ideas, such as the need to experiment with a checklist to pare it down to the essentials–the easy tasks that are both important and easy to forget when distracted.

Over the past few weeks my productivity has gradually slowed down from my initial excitement over my new methods, especially last week, so for the weekend I decided to take a break from all the recordkeeping and striving. I need to regroup and assess how these methods are going and what I need to keep and discard so they’ll still work when I’m less energetic and motivated.

I also realized I have too many side projects to expect them to just happen in a well-ordered manner, and I need to manage them like regular projects.

Cooking

πŸ™‚

Organizing my cooking efforts. My first managed side project is cooking. I started putting together my grocery shopping system: (1) cataloging the ingredients of my first set of dinner recipes, which I’m taking from Good and Cheap; (2) prioritizing them based on frequency; (3) bookmarking the Instacart pages of those and other items, organized by whether I’ll buy them regularly or occasionally and from which store; and (4) starting to add ingredients from the general list in the book’s intro, plus my previous orders and household items I know I’ll need, partly drawn from the book Clean My Space. Instacart organizes its site by store, and I’m starting with the cheap one, Aldi. After cataloging the recipe ingredients, I decided that was overkill, but it was nice to gauge what kinds of ingredients the author emphasized (garlic and butter).

I’m basically marching through Good and Cheap‘s dinner section, and the next two recipes are Peanut Chicken and Broccoli with Coconut Rice and Beef Stroganoff.

Music

πŸ™‚

Background music for my online shopping. While shopping I’ve been listening to vibraphone jazz, which makes me feel like I’m in a 1950s/60s grocery store.

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Weeknote for 5/17/2020

Learning

πŸ™‚

Feeling good about failure. Last week completed the first sprint of my project to algorithmically generate a dictionary of mnemonic substitutes to help in memorizing, a lot like the ones in this thread. My aim in this sprint was to create a basic first draft of the dictionary.

I didn’t finish the draft, but I feel strangely great about the project, maybe because I gave it a decent shot at the end and found out there was too much work left, yet I gained a lot of momentum over the week, it feels very doable, I can continue the project on the side, and I think I can get some good results, which makes me curious what exactly the generator will come up with. I’m also looking forward to later phases of the project in which I’ll add other types of substitutes.

Math

😎

Relearning math from the beginning with OpenStax. Unless the planning phase changes my mind, this month I am coming back to math! Many of my projects require math to get to the level I care about. Math was always my weakest subject in school, and for many years I’ve wanted to start over and learn it all properly.

I made a couple of attempts to do this, but I had trouble finding a method that felt both efficient and effective. Since then I’ve learned more about learning and about project management, and focusing on efficiency has led me to the textbooks published by OpenStax, a math curriculum that is both conceptual and relatively condensed.

I’m starting with prealgebra. When I get to the chapters that overlap with their other textbooks, I’ll try working with them in parallel so I don’t have to spend extra weeks on the same concepts. This week I’ll start on the first few chapters and see what my pace is like.

Personality

πŸ€”

Mixed feelings about Keirsey’s temperaments. I listened to Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey, a blast from my past. Around the end of high school I got really into Myers-Briggs and annoyed everyone around me with it. Keirsey’s temperament system is a modification of it, and I tend to prefer his take.

This year I want to explore various themes around ethics and personal development, so personality is on the agenda again, and to help me understand certain interactions in my life, I decided to jump in with Keirsey, which of course I never completely read at the time.

Now that I have, I have mixed feelings about the book. It did give me food for thought and help me appreciate people more. But compared to my impressionable youth, these days I’m a little more critical, and I noticed he didn’t cite scientific studies, so I wondered what he based his ideas on.

Programming

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An entertaining survey of modern software testing. I have some development time coming up at work, so I’m reading some more from my software development list. One topic that always trips me up is testingβ€”I never know how to do a satisfying job of it, but after too much research, I’ve found some promising books.

Last week’s was a free one by Bill Laboon called A Friendly Introduction to Software TestingΒ (PDF). His understated, goofy humor made me realize that testing can be fun, because you get to think up all kinds of ridiculous scenarios the software could find itself in.

Cooking

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Exploring new recipes. I’m making use of my new cookbooks, starting with Filipino Chicken Adobo from Good and Cheap and Caribbean Chicken Salad from Betty Crocker One-Dish Meals.

Music

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Folk music for cooking. Lately I’ve been accompanying my cooking with various kinds of folk music:

COVID-19

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Out of the loop. Outside the bubble of my apartment, the pandemic is still going on and will continue for some time. I’ve fallen behind on tracking all the news on it, largely because there’s too much. I need a one-stop shop.

Posted in Cooking, COVID-19, Math, Memory, Music, Personality, Programming, Weeknotes | Leave a comment

Weeknote for 5/10/2020

Text-to-speech

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A few weeks ago when I included an audio version of my post, I had a couple of (off-blog) comments about the unexciting tone of the text-to-speech voice Noah, and though I had sampled far blander voices, I agreed, so let’s try something different. This week’s reader is the slightly livelier British voice Harry. Too bad he thinks the post is for October 5 and not May 10.

Learning

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In my mnemonic dictionary project, last week I investigated some potential resources for assembling it and settled on my plans for finishing the first draft, which will happen this week unless I fritter away my time or run into big problems.

Spirituality

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I was finally in the mood to finish Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett, which I began months ago and got sidetracked from. It’s a thought provoking and enlivening compilation of excerpts from her radio interviews, grouped by theme, exploring the current thinking of intellectuals and activists on ethics and the meaning of life. It’s worth listening to the audio version, because it uses clips from the actual interviews, interspersed with Tippett’s narration. It offers new angles on so many issues that I’m sure I’ll come back to study it once I dive more seriously into these topics.

Life maintenance

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Gearing up for my renewed GTD system got me thinking again about all the purging of my possessions I need to do, so I listened to Spark Joy, Marie Kondo’s reference-like follow-up to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I think GTD and the KonMari method are very compatible, so I’ll be carrying them out together–purging and organizing, guided by joy, as I note the next actions attached to my belongings.

Productivity

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I listened to a book I picked up in a Leanpub sale, Know to Flow by Neil Keleher, containing his suggestions on entering a flow state and advice on when you shouldn’t, based on his experience in various activities, including math, programming, motorcycle riding, and yoga. In spite of how much more physical his life is than mine, our interests and perspectives overlapped quite a bit, and I found the book very interesting. He’s even a fan of Lynne Kelly’s memory books.

People

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Friday I took the afternoon off and went on a walk in a park walk with Jeremy and his son. It was cold but sunny, and through our masks we talked about personality and politics and the virtues of programming as a hobby.

Posted in Learning, Life maintenance, Productivity, Programming, Site updates, Social life, Spirituality, Text-to-speech, Weeknotes | Leave a comment