7266

#100Days

3,284 words

Guestbook

Day 14

14.0 - A clean house is a clean mind. This is an idea from Japanese Buddhism. I am seeing the reality of this truth in my own life, as I continue to explore meditation, mindfulness, and simplicity. I am revisiting minimalism and what it means for me. I have long been a minimalist but it has tended to consist of bouts or bursts of purging of unwanted things. And then a re-accumulation. And then another purge. Which kept my total number of possessions to a reasonable number, but I think I could still get better at being mindful of what things I want to bring into my life and keep a steady-state, so to speak. And, of course, it is easier to keep a clean house when you have fewer things.

14.1 - "What is garbage, exactly? Things that are dirty, worn out, unusable, no longer useful, no longer needed, and so on. And yet nothing starts out as garbage. Things become garbage when they are treated like garbage. [...] People who don't respect objects don't respect people. For them, anything no longer needed is just garbage."

  • A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind, Shoukei Matsumoto.

Day 13

13.0 - I am very caffeine sensitive. If I have too much, I can feel pretty terrible. However, working in a modern office can easily promote too-much-caffeine consumption. Thus I pay close attention to what I'm drinking. I often order half-caff drinks in coffee shops. Sometimes the barista will mishear this as "half and half", and instead make me a full-caff breve latte, which is kind of funny. I guess this is why they sometimes call it a split shot latte. But really, who calls it a half-and-half latte anyway? Just say breve. I digress.

13.1 - I want to learn C programming! I was reading the intro of a C book last night in a bookshop, and it seems really fun. And like a really good learning experience. C is sometimes called a "systems language" and that makes a lot of sense to me. I think having a basic working knowledge of C will take me a longway. I'm working towards having competency in all the domains of computing that strike me as important. I am a generalist, and I think that's what I'm missing. I don't need to go all the way to the level of expertise that would be encompassed by a computer science degree. But I want to have fluency in all the relevant aspects of computer science that I encounter in my work, or in the work of developers I work with.

Day 12

12.0 - I bought some cereal the other day, eager to have some the next morning for breakfast. When I did, I was met with a sickly sweet quality that only an American cereal would have (I'm American, for the record). Consulting the back of the box, I found this one had 17g added sugars, and 18g sugar total, per serving, not including the milk. That's like half a soda, or something. Anyway, it was way too sweet for me, like I couldn't even enjoy it, and I think I'm going to have to throw it away, because I'm trying to eat less sugar right now anyway. Just wasn't thinking about it.

12.1 - This reminds me of an interesting dynamic though, that many Americans who have travelled abroad have probably experienced. Spend a week in Europe or Asia, and come back to the US, and much of our food will taste ridiculously sweet, after having been acclimated to a different food system that doesn't use sugar in the same systematic way. Many items, like the above cereal, you probably wouldn't want to eat, after adjusting to something different (healthier, probably).

12.2 - Learning a career/job lessons this week. Not all of them fun, exactly. I'm in a position where I'm having to do things I don't want to do, or do things that are important in the sense of work politics but not important to me. I understand this is probably the situation of a lot of people, but I've been fortunate enough to be able to focus on what I wanted to do and learn at work for a few years. The change is jarring and difficult to stomach. Like the cereal. But I will try my best, and try to have a bit of humility about the situation, and get out of it what I can.

Day 11

11.0 - Morning rituals and habits are important to me. This writing habit is one of them. I also have a meditation practice, and try to do some of my physical therapy exercises as well. Lately I have been re-evaluating my whole schedule: sleep and wake times, break times at work, the time I take for lunch. I have settled on something that I quite like, and having a set schedule makes it easier to know if I'm doing the righ thing or not. My sleep time is late enough that can keep my schedule roughly the same for weekends as weekdays, thereby avoiding social jet lag, and early enough that I can get up early enough for work during the week. I am happy with the result of my experimentation. I will soon have to run and catch a bus for work, and I don't think I'll have time for breakfast though, so, you can't have everything. I have to prioritize what I do in the morning. But as it happens, this writing exercise, even if it's just 5 minutes, is something that I choose to do. Each day I feel a more confident writer, and each day I am able to articulate my thoughts slightly more clearly. Practice makes perfect.

Day 10

10.0 - Is climate change an existential threat? There is a lot of fear-mongering worst case scenarios out there. They may even be right. I have spent perhaps too much time reading doomsayers on reddit on this particular topic, so I may have a distorted view. I'm interested in correcting the record, at least with myself.

I am looking forward to reading The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells, which explores the darker end of the possibility spectrum here. But he doesn't seem like a crank or someone who doesn't know what he's talking about, who respects the scientific consensus. We shall see.

There are scientists who have pushed back against the existential threat assessment, but DWW argues that most of the analysis that has been done in the scientific community has focused on the effects of 1.5-2.0C warming, and keeping warming below 2C, which he argues we are not going to do, so we need to start focusing on outcomes of 4C+ warming as a very realistic possibility, at which point the more dire scenarios start to come into the picture. I suppose it's less a matter of how bad 4C is, than how likely are we going to have 4C? Perhaps? I'm still figuring out the geography of this particular debate, but it's a fun (in a perverse way I realize) and terrifying one. I hope that I'm wrong, that it's less than an existential threat, and just something awful. I suppose that's the best we can hope for at this point.

Day 9

9.0 - I've been thinking lately about study and the role of study in my life, as a kind of intellectual practice. This takes the form of reading books about topics I'm interested in, and writing, and reflecting, and choosing quotes or passages as a form of commonplace booking. It's a good practice, and one which I made a way of doing more regularly in my life. Especially on the writing side, but also on the reading side, I often get impatient, because it can feel like writing things down by hand is so slow. But it's important, and it's valuable, and it helps retain memory of the concept at hand much better than typing, and I actually enjoy it. I think the sense of impatience really comes from a refusal to accept that learning just takes the time it takes. It's no more complicated than that.

9.1 - Learning is really important to me, and I might ask to what end. The obvious answer is that it's important simply in and of itself, and that is true, as far as it goes. But there is more to it than that. Another answer might be that my goal is to understand the world and how it works, and how that's a satisfying and interesting thing to me, and that is also true, as far as it goes. A third answer might be that it's a method of self-development, just like meditation, or exercise, or career. I think that might be a missing piece that I haven't fully conceptualized just yet.

Day 8

Yesterday I did a digital sabbath, meaning that I abstained from using most digital technology for the bulk of the day. This wasn't complete strict - I allowed myself the use of trivial things, like my digital watch. I also allowed a couple moments of cheating on my laptop to access information to allow my day to go better - checking of a restaurant was open, and getting a recipe for cooking dinner - but otherwise stayed off all screens all day. I checked my phone briefly at the end of the day to make sure no one needed to be in touch with me. Other than that, things were analog.

I've done this a few times before, but this time stood out to me as more beneficial than in the past. I have gotten quite caught up and addicted to checking my phone, checking the news in particular, and doing this is a nice way to break the cycle. Additionally, there are certain activities in my day that I rely on my phone as a guide or aid for (guided meditations, a running app that tells me when to run/walk and for what duration). Yesterday I didn't have those, which required me to be a bit more independent, and I had really good results. Normally my self-guided meditations are scattered, but this one was good. And my run is normally tough, but I changed it up and managed to double my current distance - notably, I learned that having an interesting course without repetition and doubling back on the same are keeps things interesting and makes it easier to keep going.

Finally, I skipped my daily writing session yesteday, which I am OK with. I think I will make this my normal Sunday routine! At least I will try it again next week.

Day 7

Saturday today. Woke up, meditated, handled some paperwork I had sitting on my desk. Ate cereal. Contemplating coffee now. Don't really feel like writing today, which is kind of ironic, because now is a day that I actually have the time to do it. Setup a new bullet journal last night, which is always fun. Most of my writing is analog, and I was waiting to start a new one, so I didn't have anywhere to write things down. How do you get through the day without writing things down? I know I have to.

It's OK to be wrong, it's OK to make mistakes. It's OK to ask questions that you don't know the answer to. Lessons I am learning, lessons I feel like I should have already known (ha).

Day 6

I listen to podcasts nearly every day. Usually on my commute, but at other times as well. They fill the gaps of time in my life.

Mostly this is good, but for me it's easy to fall into this as a habit and allow myself any time for pauses in my day, a kind of mental whitespace that makes life go a little smoother.

I've only recently become aware of how important these pauses are for me and my mental health, and now I'm trying to include them more intentionally.

For a typical workday, I meditate for about 10 minutes when I first wake up. Then, after working for 2 hours, I take another 10 minute break. Then, I take a 30 minute lunch break 2 hours later, and then an afternoon 10 minute break 2 hours after that. I don't have any specific times for whitespace in the evening, but seeing as how it's free time anyway, I don't see that as a problem, really. Frequently I will journal, which can fill a similar role. Although, I think the best whitespace is when I am actually free of distraction, not doing something while also listening to a podcast.

Podcasts can become addictive, or conversely, whitespace can be uncomfortable when you are not used to it. I tend to move in a sinusoidal fashion with this, periods of more or less podcast listening. Right now I'm at a maximum, so maybe it's time to ease off for a while, and just enjoy some silence.

Day 5

Writing this on my phone, on a bus. First time I didn't have time to write at home, so I will try this option out.

I have a lingering thought about vaccines rattling around in my head. Something that so often gets missed, in my experience, in the anti-vax debates is that you don't get vaccinated for your own sake. People analyze this decision as if it's about their right to not vaccinate their child, to avoid some perceived risk to their child. But that's not quite right. Of course that's a part of it, but not even the most important part. The reason you get vaccinated is to support herd immunity. This helps protect everyone in society from a virus from spreading broadly and becoming an epidemic. Most importantly of all, it helps prevent the most vulnerable of society from becoming sick, such as those who for legitimate medical reasons cannot be vaccinated. Or to protect those most at risk from death from routine illnesses like the flu, such as the elderly or the very young.

So in my view the decision not to vaccinate ones child is actually a selfish act that disregards the responsibility we have to one another in virtue of living together in a society.

Day 4

Rained all night. Spider bit me in my sleep. Trying to write these every morning, so this is what's on my mind. Sleep was fitful yet again last night. I've been waking up a lot.

I had Taiwanese malatang last night, first time I've really eaten Taiwanese food. Man, pretty solid. Didn't expect the numbing pepper, but it was great. I am a big foodie. I'm considering if I should try writing reviews for Yelp or something, do you get perks for doing that? I am out of the loop.

Well, this isn't exactly the most enthralling essay, now is it? Part of writing every day is that some days are going to be banal. Maybe today is one of those, and that's OK. Maybe some reader will be inspired to try malatang! If so then I've succeeded.

Day 3

Sleep is a challenge. I haven't been sleeping well recently, which is frustrating. In an effort to sleep better, I recently read a book titled Internal Time, by Till Ronneberg. It was a fascinating read about chronobiology and the internal clocks organisms have, mainly humans. But, even though I think the book of an important one, and it contains basic biology that should be in the public consciousness, I don't think it was really of much use with learning to sleep better. It didn't have much in the way of practical advice on how to do so. If anything it was the opposite - an invitation to submit to your biology and not try to consciously fiddle with your sleep process. Don't try to wake up earlier - just listen to what your biological clock wants to do (if your work schedule allows it). So maybe I should do that.

Day 2

Computer science is about solving problems. I don't know a lot about computer science. I am trying to learn more. Maybe then I'll be able to solve more interesting problems.

I work in technology, but I have no formal education in technology. I am going through a process of self-education, for which there are an incredible number of online resources and books for which I am greatful. But it is still a lot of work.

I have taken introductory computer science courses online. I have completed a number of beginning and intermediate programming courses. I am at the point where I am ready to start learning data structures and algorithms, and my lack of knowledge about these topics is limiting my growth as a programmer.

I work as a systems engineer, not a software engineer, and traditionally in my line of work programming has been limited to scripting, or absent entirely, but I think that is unfortunate, and clearly the way of the future is going have systems engineers do more software engineering as a part of their job role - they may become less relevant, if they don't. I embrace that mindset, perhaps best represented by Google's SRE model, and I want to be able to work in that way fully. So, I study.

I am working on dedicating about an hour a day, more if I have time, to learning programming and computer science. I primarily write in Python. I really enjoy what I am learning. I hope that someday I'll be able to write complex and efficient automation scripts and even develop applications that manage the operation of large systems. I don't really know why I am interested in that, I just am. It's a strange area because that isn't a single place to go to learn it. You can take courses in systems or in traditional software development, but the marriage of the two is still a new thing in a lot of ways. Or at least it seems to me.

I come from a Windows background (originally), though, and perhaps the most fruitful work in this area has come from Unix culture. I am still new to Unix (well, been using it the last 1-2 years) and I still have a ton to learn. Maybe my questions will be answered as I keep learning about Unix and computer science.

The important thing is to make a practice of it, daily, as I am also planning to do here with my writing.

Day 1

For now, I wish to remain anonymous. How anonymous Listed is by default I actually have no idea, but so it goes. For the moment, I will remain 7266. I don't mean to be dramatic, I'm just privacy-conscious.

I have in the past participated in a similar writing challenge to this, writing daily over a long-ish period of time. There is something therapeutic about it, and I'm excited that Listed offers such a challenge to encourage people to write. I think this is a good thing.

I journal regularly, on paper, and I think there is a lot of value in the analog. But I think that a public journal like this also has its own value. There is simply a different mindset that comes with writing for yourself, privately, vs writing something that you know will be out in the world, even if few people will see it. It's a different kind of feeling. There is something valuable in the possibility of being seen.

My posts will often be short. But I hope to write regularly as a practice. It's something I've missed, and wanted to return to for a long time. This is a good venue for it.

To any reader - I wish you a good day.