I got through another page of the Org guide, and then I made a cheat spreadsheet. It’ll let me sort by different pieces of info so I have a more flexible way to review the many, many commands. So far I’ve added the content of the Emacs reference card, and later I’ll add the one for Org. I also have columns to fill in with equivalent commands from Windows and other familiar software so I can use the known to learn the unknown.
The journaling is intensifying. In addition to work journaling, I’ve returned to my old habit of collecting all my random thoughts throughout the day on my current topics of interest. The last time I did this regularly was in college. In the desert years after that I repeatedly discovered that, in addition to sleep, writing is what makes the most difference for me between depression and vitality. The richness that grows out of processing my life in text tells me the wasteland I’ve lived in isn’t all there is. But as with everything else I tried for improving my life, the oasis always dried up quickly. Maybe this time it’ll stay a while.
I collected more ideas on streamlining my tasks. (1) I can define service levels for different kinds of tasks so I have an easy way to gracefully degrade them when I’m short on time. (2) A solid memory lets you reconnect to information faster, so once I learn mnemonic techniques for real, I can use them to spend less time looking up my most needed info. (3) I can use a shorthand for my journaling and note-taking. For handwriting I’d use Gregg, but for typing I’d need something else, which I may have to invent.
Four Thousand Weeks is a thought-provoking exploration of living meaningfully within our limits. Burkeman wants us to let go of the rat race and embrace the inescapable smallness and imperfection of life. It’s written in a style typical of recent self-help books, but it’s dense with countercultural wisdom to dig into. On the surface, following the author’s advice to quit striving for perfect productivity would suggest dropping my scheduling project, but I think the two are compatible. The point of my project isn’t to do more than humanly possible but to gain clarity on my time so I can experiment with ways to make the most of it.
I found that I wasn’t really the target audience for the book, since I’m a slow person who already likes to enjoy life, but since I’m also a person who likes to dream big, it was a good reminder to ask myself where I have unrealistic expectations. The book also pushes me a few steps down the path of developing my “spirituality of coping.” He offers some techniques for dealing with the everyday pain of being human, such as the boredom and fear that drive us to distraction and procrastination. It’s a valuable book, and after finishing the audiobook, I bought the ebook to study it further. Later I might look into his similar book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.
Community Coffee Café Special: 4/5. It was another good, everyday coffee, and it had a little more character than the Barissimo House Blend. I’ve completed my run through the Aldi coffees that interest me, and so now I’m expanding into other brands. My next one is from Folgers. I’ll probably also revisit the coffees I scored as 4 to recalibrate my scale, because some of them probably deserve a 5.
Last week I tried Twinings’ Black Tea Variety Pack. Here were my scores on those:
- Earl Grey – 3
- Lady Grey – 3
- English Breakfast – 3
- Irish Breakfast – 3
Since this is my “give tea a chance” project, I’ve redefined what 3 means on my scale. Originally it was “kind of bland and forgettable,” but I’m starting to think of tea as a slow and mindful drink, so what bland really means is “subtle,” a tea that needs more attention to appreciate.
I found The Black Cauldron more satisfying than The Book of Three. The characters had settled into the story, and I think the pacing was a little better. And there was a key sacrifice in the book that I really felt, though maybe not for the same reasons the characters did.
I finally decorated my home for winter. I tried to make it generically winter instead of Christmas, but it still feels too much like a holiday. It’s also showing me I need something more to make the place feel truly decorated, probably something on the walls.
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