Welcome to my (overly long) weekly update, where I review my activities on my personal projects and other life events from the previous week and preview my upcoming plans.
Last weekend I drove to Wisconsin to visit my brother and attend my coworker’s wedding. The wedding was on Saturday (I wrote about it last week), and I stayed overnight at my brother’s place to spend Sunday with him. In the morning we attended his church, a plant from a church in my area. They’re meeting in a high school gym.
I was curious about the church after going with my brother to the priest’s ordination service at the mother church, so I’m glad I went. The sermon gave me things to think about, and I met some nice people. I also got to catch up with a former coworker of mine and his wife. They’d moved up to the area earlier this year.
After the service a couple from the church hosted lunch for a group of them at their apartment, and we joined them and talked some more to the nice people. As you might expect from a new church plant, most of the people were from similar social circles, and since the mother church is one I’ve visited many times, I had a fair amount in common with them.
On the drive this weekend I listened to We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis Taylor, the first book in a sci fi series about a man who gets cryogenically frozen and wakes up as an AI assigned to a galaxy-exploring space probe. It’s fairly lighthearted but still deals with some heavy issues. I got wrapped up in the story, and it helped the drives fly by. Having said all that, the main character did feel a little like a Marty Stu, the plot flowed a little too smoothly, and he also made a bunch of corny pop culture references, so I docked it a point. Still, it’s a nice exploration of some ideas involved in interplanetary colonization. 4/5.
The past few weeks I’ve had the pleasant experience of actually succeeding at an evening routine for once in my life. I think moving to a new environment has helped, combined with other factors that have been shaping me this year.
The upshot is that I’ve been able to make steadier progress on my projects than I have … probably ever. I’m encouraged. And with the trajectories I’m seeing in how I conduct my life, I’m expecting these things to keep getting better, at least until some circumstance comes up that throws me off. And then I’ll deal with it and eventually get back on track.
Last week the theme was taking care of loose ends. I wanted to get to the next milestones on some of my projects so I could spend this week nailing down some project management practices and then get to my next big project. I’ll talk more about that in later sections.
One of the loose ends on last week’s agenda was the Mission Scope diagram in my life agenda project. In that project I’m mapping out my goals in life and how I want to reach them, and I’ve grouped those goals into missions. The Mission Scope diagram shows generally how the missions overlap. Last week I remade it to show the overlap in more detail by listing my fields of interest that apply to each region of overlap. In future updates to the project I’ll clarify the meaning of all that.
Another loose end was finishing my notes on some composition exercises. This project is to work through a book called Composing Music: A New Approach and post my work online along with explanations and observations. I had the rules posted but was lagging behind on my observations. I caught up last week, and now that I know what I’m doing, hopefully my future updates will go more smoothly.
Working on the exercises at a steady pace hasn’t been going too well, so I’m going to work at an unsteady pace while I focus on other projects, and then from time to time I’ll focus on this project and make faster progress for a while. I don’t know if I’ll try to stick to my original schedule of finishing it 10 months after I started. Probably not.
As a side note, on Monday I’m going to try to catch a livestream by jazz composer Jacob Collier. It’ll be my lunchtime activity. I was annoyed with myself for missing his concert in my area earlier this year, so I followed him on various social medias so I wouldn’t miss future activities, and it seems to be paying off.
A loose end in my housekeeping projects was making some cleaning products based on the recipes in Melissa Maker’s book Clean My Space. I did that on Saturday, and it was less work than I expected. Next I’ll gather all the products and tools I’ll need in places that’ll make them easy to use, and I’ll also make an initial cleaning schedule to try, which will also be based on the book.
The cleaning project will dead end if I don’t finish unpacking from my move three months ago. It’s hard to clean a room that’s half full of boxes. So that’ll be the time for me to do my KonMari tidying project. Then I can get to cleaning properly. I’m not sure yet how I’ll schedule the tidying in relation to my other projects, but in some way it’ll need to happen relatively soon.
This next one wasn’t exactly a loose end, but it sort of felt like one. We’re now past the time of year when my family usually pesters each other about updating our wish lists for Christmas, because apparently we like to shop very early. I don’t know what the hold-up is, but I figured I should get my list taken care of while I was in tie-up mode.
My Christmas lists are always a painstaking process of determining what projects and hobbies I’ll be into the next year and how those interests translate into gift ideas. Well, it took more than the few hours than I was expecting, so I’ll need a couple more days to finalize it.
Every year I come up with a creative way to label my Christmas presents to my family. It’s always meant to be a surprise, so I can’t tell you about it yet. But I can tell you that unlike every year in the past, this year I actually have a chance at getting it done before the early hours of Christmas morning. As I mentioned, I’m a lot more organized right now, and I’ve reserved most of November for this project. But I’ve been cheating a little and doing some advance research to see if my idea will be feasible. So far it looks promising.
Before I get to my Christmas project, I want to spend a week looking at project management. I’ve come to the point in my life where in any area I want to improve, I want to get my input from the best sources. For the area of goal pursuit, some of the best sources seem to be in the business world.
So a few weeks ago I listened to two business books, The Portable MBA and The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management. This week I want to quickly review them to help me manage my next few personal projects a little better. I also have an eye out for what they can contribute to the overall strategizing I’m doing through my life agenda project, but I’ll focus on that one later.
At work I alternate between phases of ebook production and programming. Lately I’ve been winding down an ebook phase, and to prepare for my next phase of programming, I’ve been barreling through a bunch of software development books via text-to-speech. Last week I finished xUnit Test Patterns and started Martin Fowler’s Refactoring. Since this type of content takes concentration, I don’t retain everything as I’m listening, but I think I pick up on enough that when I come back to it in the near future, I’ll have a decent basis for studying, integrating, and using the information.
Last week at work our guest speaker was Steven Elliott, an Army Ranger who was involved in a friendly-fire incident that killed former NFL player Pat Tillman. He has a book in the works that I’m looking forward to reading. His story of his search for identity and of facing the hard reality of his disintegrating life carried the same sober yet empowering vibe I appreciated about the mythopoetic men’s movement. My conversations and YouTube viewing lately have been moving my attention back in that direction, so it’ll probably bloom into a project at some point.