Monthly recap (June 2018)

 

A new set of thousand pieces for a puzzle …

 

Major updates:

  • Re-started my “run every Sunday morning” habit, for the first time since Oct 2016
  • Successfully gave up regular coffee drinking after many, many years

Minor updates:

  • Better sleeping policy
  • Went to my first NBA game (Warriors vs Cavaliers, at Oakland)
  • A lot of meeting up with old friends
  • Fun work picnic
  • Watched Incredibles 2 with Tara!
  • Started a new 1000-piece puzzle

Watched/read

  • (Netflix) The little prince (different from the original, but in a great way)
  • (Netflix) The Trip to Spain (excellent piece in the trilogy, can’t believe I missed it after watching the first two (The Trip, The Trip to Italy) immediately when they were released)
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On writing with pen and paper

Very quickly: I love Baron Fig notebooks, both the larger, hard-cover Confidant, and the smaller, soft-cover Vanguard.

After a few years of trying different styles, I realized I vastly preferred white paper with light dots to either plain paper or ruled paper or grid paper, and simply will not use either of them again.

While we’re here, you can’t go wrong with a simple Lamy Safari to write with.

Monthly recap (May 2018)

 

Tall eucalyptus trees in Great Otway National Park, along the ocean road

 

Major updates:

  • Australia trip!
    • Walked around Sydney
    • Great Ocean Road
    • Fed some kangaroos and wallabies (not yet sure about the difference)
    • Saw the Penguin parade
    • Ate lots of good food

Minor updates:

  • Hiking with Tara
  • Went for the Warriors/Cavaliers game (quite an experience!)
  • Tinkering with routine changes around reading and yoga (Yogaglo!)

Watched/read:

  • Season 1 of Lost in Space (okay)
  • Season 1 of Veep (funny!)
  • The Little Prince on Netflix (wonderful!)
  • Black Panther, Jumanji (meh for both)
  • Death of Stalin (outstanding!)

A history of personal (static) blogs

I’ve accumulated a few static blogs over the years, each starting out, running for a while, and then petering out.

The first version, with Hakyll

The second version, with Jekyll

The third version, with Hugo (still alive, apparently!)

A good question at this point is, why did I ever bother, and why do I want anything other than this (WordPress) blog?

If you go through the content in the old repos I pointed to above, most of it was sort of “snippets”, notes about this or that, fleeting documentation, little experiments.

This sort of stuff is both too noisy (I feel) in the middle of regular summary updates, and yet something I like to have around. So, meh, I can do some sort of fancy tag-based separation in WordPress, or … I can just dump it all into a different place and never worry about the overlap.

Also, Cryogen, the Clojure-based static site solution I’m using for this, seems cool. So there’s that.

Note: Another good question here is: what should I do about all the previous existing content? There’s actually a ton of markdown-posts in each “version” of the blog(s), so I should eventually migrate all of that over.

Monthly recap (April 2018)

 

Bread pudding and vanilla ice cream

 

Major updates:

  • Weekend trip to Monterey
  • Having fun at work 🙂
  • Kite flying with Tara

Minor updates:

  • Couple of birthday parties for Tara
  • Met some old friends after many years!
  • Annoying but necessary bone-graft/implant

Watched/read:

  • Building without nails (documentary on old architecture)
  • Lost in Space (the new Netflix series)

Monthly recap (March 2018)

 

Random light pole against the sun.
Just another lamp pole

 

Major updates:

  • None really (!)
  • Caught up with a few movies that were on the “to-watch” list, just “the usual” stuff

Minor updates:

  • Mostly busy with work
  • Got myself a new fountain pen
  • Discovered Yogaglo
  • Fun trip to Dolores Park one sunny weekend

Watched/read:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy (the old one)
  • In this corner of the world
  • The shape of water
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Lady Byrd
  • Birdman

On personal technology

I’ve slowly standardized on a few apps I use all the time; I was talking to someone about this and realized it might be generally useful to someone else (if nothing else, to save a few years of looking around).

I still check out new apps from time to time, but I almost never feel like anything else offers something that I’m missing.

Going back five to ten years, there were always things I wanted to do and tried various tools over time to fill that need, but couldn’t find anything that really stuck, so I’m quite happy that I found tools that have become invaluable over the last two years.

Journaling: Day One

I journal all the time, every day, and can’t imagine ever going back. The way I use this is a bit like “a Facebook account for myself” (yes, I’m not active on Facebook). It’s on my laptop, and on my phone, so there’s never an excuse for not doing it.

It’s a simple concept, but a really good idea. I often find myself wondering, when I write my “end of day entry” what exactly I did that day, so just forcing myself to recollect gives me a better sense of how I spent my time.

What really made a bigger difference was adding a weekly, monthly and even quarterly journalling period, but that can wait for later; just writing something down at all makes a huge difference!

Dumping ground: DevonThink (Pro)

This is something that you need but just don’t know you need 🙂

Finding stuff is hard. In the beginning I tried saving stuff in email, sending myself an attachment. Then I tried putting everything in Drive, or Dropbox. Then I tried making a nice file “hierarchy” to organize stuff.

This isn’t special stuff I’m talking about, just average everyday stuff. Letters, records, passwords, screenshots, scans, notes, that sort of stuff.

You can survive without a tool for this, but being able to instantly look up what you need, and instantly capture new stuff for later, is a whole another experience.

(In case you’re curious, I did use Evernote for this in the past, but I’ll have to talk separately about why it wasn’t good enough for me. Yes, I even tried the paid subscription.)

Task manager: OmniFocus

I have trouble remembering stuff. I know I’m not alone in this, but I have a worse time of it than most.

I started with plain old Reminders, ended up at Wunderlist (which was almost good enough). In the middle I even tried Trello (and Asana) but that was just not my use case at all.

Again, nothing special, just normal stuff: working on taxes, getting a picture framed, getting a car wash. Some things you need to do are routine things and things, others are “mini-projects”, some things can be done this week, some have to be postponed, some can be done at home, some need a shopping trip … and you don’t want to see one big bag of everything either, you want to see little bits of the whole picture at at time — Omnifocus helps me do all of this.

Finally, yes, I know Things exists, it’s cool, but I’ve seen screenshots of the OmniFocus version coming out later this year and it looks quite promising. Still, if you use nothing right now, just pick any one of the two.

Other stuff

I wanted to stick to a “top three list” here, but there are other apps I use too. There are also past alternatives that, for one reason or another, didn’t quite work out, and it might be worth mentioning them all later.

But just as a “basic starter kit”, these three are invaluable. I spent years figuring out the right mix for me, and my life would be miserable without these tools to rely on.