Update for 1/14/2018



My laziness at home is being stubborn, so I’m going to start using my productivity tricks, like microtasks (just do one small thing to get started) and implementation intentions (like “When I get home, I will immediately start making dinner.”).



Sunday I continued my quest for an occasional old-feeling liturgical church. I visited liturgical church #2, another Episcopal one. It was in a beautiful old building I’d driven by a few times before. The congregation was small, about 50 people, with many grey heads, and I worried it was a tired and dying church. But as the service progressed, I saw that it had a lot of energy and affection. There were several children who mingled among the adults, which made it feel like a big family.

The head priest chased me down afterward to talk to me, and we had a brief but nice conversation where he told me a little about the church’s history and showed me their outdoor labyrinth, which was visible as curvy mounds of snow. I don’t know if I’ll choose this church, but I’m glad it’s around.



Tuesday was the futurism meetup again. This time the topic was Big Data, one I’m more familiar with because it’s closely tied to AI, so I had more to say than usual. Of course, in keeping with the tone of the group, some of us were rather worried about Big Data. I don’t feel it’s a huge threat, but the TED talk we watched did bring up some ways it could be abused I hadn’t heard of.



I didn’t say much about this topic last week because I’d procrastinated on the post enough already, but at the moment I see this as my most important set of projects for the year, so at some point I want to expound on my reasons and agenda.

To give you the short version now, the whole range of skills involved in thinking are fundamental to the kind of work I want to do, and it’s about time I brought them from the background of my thoughts to the foreground and studied them properly and put my views in order. I’ve pondered this stuff for years in my spare moments, so there’s a lot to organize and articulate.

I finished Theory and Reality. I gave it 4/5. It’s an overview of a field I’m less familiar with, the philosophy of science, so I can’t evaluate its completeness or fairness. Sometimes I wished he’d gone into a little more depth, but it did leave me feeling I had a really good starting point for exploring further.



Now that Theory and Reality is done, I’m taking a side trip to Scott Alexander’s Unsong (the audio version), and then unless I think of another short one I just have to listen to now, I’m going to dive into Red Mars. I’m expecting that one to be a little hard to follow.



I’ve had a hard time in the past few months finding shows I want to keep watching. Then The Orville came along, but I quickly ran out of episodes. But now Black Mirror seems to have stuck, and that has a few more episodes to keep me occupied.



Friday I finished the big commentary series I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. Thanks to my improved planning, I was able to basically coast to the end (plus I didn’t have a real deadline), so it wasn’t as big a relief as some of my past projects. But I am glad that finishing that has put me much closer to being able to work on the programming projects I have in mind. It was also nice to be able to spring the surprise on the people who’ve been waiting for those ebooks. They weren’t expecting them for at least a couple more months.


In other news, my 5-year anniversary at the company has come upon me, and that means I have to write something to be read for the service award they’ll be giving me in chapel. For the past year I’ve kind of been dreading trying to come up with something for that, but I’ve been reconciling myself to the idea, and in any case I’m finding myself less resistant to harder tasks these days. I think it’s a combination of better habits at work and feeling a little empowered by my analysis project. It also helps that they’ve given me a few weeks.

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