My life has been kind of crowded with life maintenance lately. I’m handling it okay, but it’s giving me less time for my projects and for sleep, and it’s been burdening me with extra worry. See the YouTube section below for something that’s been helping me cope.
At work my current batch of ebooks is more intense than usual, so I’ve had to work late a couple of times, and it’s cutting into some of my other activities. That’ll continue through this week.
Car shopping is on hold until after this crunch time at work, but I can say I’ll be looking mainly for a Honda Civic, Mazda 3, or Toyota Corolla. If I can find a hybrid in my price range, I’ll look at that too, probably a Toyota Camry or Prius. I’m planning to pay cash, so my savings will take a hit.
Medical billing is my main worry right now, because I don’t know how tame or wild my costs will end up being. I’m still figuring out my mysterious bill, and another issue has come up in the process, but I’ve recruited our benefit service provider to help me work it out. I’m expecting to make several more phone calls to various parties.
One thing I’m not worried about is my biannual colonoscopy for my ulcerative colitis on Friday. I’m basically a pro at those now. Thursday is prep day, but that’ll start after work.
A positive development last week was that I did some cooking. I’d been meaning to carefully plan out a rotation of meals I could cook once a week and take to work for lunch and then a second rotation for dinner, but I got impatient waiting to get around to all that planning, so I just jumped in with the first meal that came to mind. I made beef stew using my dad’s recipe, and it turned out extra delicious, if I do say so myself. I also got a late start and finished cooking at 1 a.m.–oops.
With life maintenance and naps taking up my time and with feeling procrastinatory over the amount of work writing takes, I didn’t get much writing done. So to keep this project from dragging on forever, I’m going to finish up my bullet points and post those. That’s good enough for me, because this essay is mainly a summary and research agenda for my own use.
AI field map
This week starts the project month of August, and my project this month is an AI field map, where I identify the important people, organizations, events, publications, and so on in the world of AI research. It’ll give me a better foundation for conversations about AI and a better idea of places I’d like to work. If I finish that early, I’ll get back to conceptual modeling research.
I finished the excellent audiobook of While the World Watched, Carolyn Maull McKinstry’s memoir of growing up in Birmingham in the middle of the civil rights movement of the 1960s (here’s an hour-long talk by her on the topic). I appreciated getting an overview of the important events and people of the time and a personal view of what life was like in Black communities, as well as McKinstry’s honest reactions to her circumstances throughout her life and her hopeful outlook. Despite some confusing chronology in a few places, I recommend the book, and I’m grateful she put her experiences and reflections into writing for us.
I took an accidental break from my AI movie project because I wasn’t paying attention to my Netflix DVD queue, and I ended up starting what will eventually be some kind of ’80s sci fi project. The movie I watched was The Last Starfighter, which a YouTube video told me was an inspiration for today’s synthwave genre. The movie had less of a Tron-like, synthwave feel to me and more of a light Star Wars feel, largely because of the orchestral score, though I could tell it was trying to stand on its own rather than mimic other movies. Overall I liked it, but I felt it was actually too short and needed more starfighting.
In the background of my mindless tasks I’ve been binge listening to a couple of YouTube channels, and they’ve helped buoy me through this stressful time. What helps is hearing their advice for keeping life moving forward and seeing how these ideas have worked for them personally.
- Thomas Frank, the Uploads playlist, which is everything on his channel. He mainly covers learning and productivity in a bite-size, down-to-earth, and friendly way. Even though I think about this stuff a lot already, I quickly picked up some good tips for managing my time and motivation for applying the principles I knew.
- Traversy Media, the Developer Discussion playlist. His channel covers tutorials on a wide range of programming topics, mostly related to web development, but this playlist is about the personal and business side of life as a developer, especially as a freelancer. I’ve been looking at freelancing for some extra financial security and to gain experience in the programming topics I want to learn, and his videos make me feel that pushing into new areas of work is doable. I also appreciate his openness about the life challenges he’s faced.
Another channel I could binge along these lines is The Financial Diet, friendly and accessible advice on managing your money.